Tag Archives: Food

Lighter Pho Fare with Mini Me

wpid-2015-01-28_18.46.00.jpgMidweek, me and mini me try something out of our comfort zone to break up the monotony of our staple recipes. Routine bores me.  The chill factor climbed for us this month and heavy comfort foods are not comforting for my thighs! Sacrificing flavor for tight jeans is not my style either, so I found  a way to take my Italian cravings to the far east.

With some organic pork and ginger, our love for meatballs met my love for Vietnamese Pho.  While this traditional noodle soup is filled with mixed meats and seafood, portions can be heavy and the flavors can sometimes overwhelm each other.

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Pasta Pomodoro!

My recent ventures to some local and not-so-local markets has had me  and mini me eating well ! A well fed body and heart is all we  really need. Check, I have both covered! I made sure to pick up some fresh pasta from a small family eatery this weekend. Me and mini me do roll our own pasta, but we need to really try to infuse our variety. These new flavors have us inspired!20140523-233333.jpg

This week, I experimented with a red pepper cappellini, spinach fettuccini, and garlic-chive spaghetti .. so many possibilities. These fresh rolled bundles balance perfectly together.  Like the yin and yang of love, the flavors complement and enhance the fabulous union!

The art of bringing out their uniqueness, without masking their qualities can be challenging. When I want to enhance and not cloak..I turn to my homemade lemon-olive oil. I use a rich extra virgin olive oil  and 6 meyer lemons to create an oil that quickly infuses flavor without overdoing it. I store bottles of it and use it for skin care and culinary exploits.

I cooked 6 roma tomatoes, 3 cloves of garlic, a shallot, sea salt, crushed red pepper and a handful of capers in about 4 tablespoons of the oil. Once the tomatoes started to cook down, I added 8 torn basil leaves and 1/4 cup of fresh Romano.  When mixed together, I used tongs to create little nests of each flavor.  With some simple grilled chicken and a lemon vinaigrette, it was heaven. Close to it anyway!
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Sassy Shrimp Scampi


There is nothing quite as bright as the hue of meyer lemons hanging over the Amalfi Coast. And every time I make our simple lemon basil shrimp, I feel like me and mini me have escaped to a land where cobalt blue meets canary yellow. We can dream, can’t we?


The healing properties of lemon are innumerable, almost as innumerable as new love. This week, I’ve  been fighting a cold that is wreaking havoc on my mood and my nose, so I needed to call in the big guns !

I wandered through a small city market this weekend and found some beautiful meyer lemons, some ginger juice, incredible pastas, herbs and some fresh lettuce.

For the moment, I live in a landlocked town:( And I truly can’t stand it. I have always lived near the water or in pretty close proximity to a coast. It is challenging to find fresh seafood here. However, the city market was abound with well priced  fisherman stands and I made sure to stock up on some fresh shrimp.


For our simple lemon basil shrimp, me and mini me used the juice of 3 meyer lemons, olive oil, sea salt, white pepper and oregeno. This is our basic marinade . It is important to let the shrimp sit in the marinade for at least two hours. Then we drain ig. We lay the shrimp in a baking dish lined with olive oil, and zest 1 lemon over the shrimp. We then chop three cloves of garlic in a bowl with a half cup of planko, two cubed tablespoons of butter and 5-7 torn basil leaves.  Take the dry mix and spread it evenly over the shrimp. We add crushed red pepper to taste  and some  shredded fontina. Simply cook it at 425 for 15 minutes until the shrimp is cooked through.

This is a light dish and is perfect with couscous and a bright spinach salad! Perfecto!

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How Sweet It Is!


Yes.. We did have a healthful meal or two this weekend, but I also gave into temptation. I tested new waters and found my new soul mate. And he never disappoints! This hazelnut cream dark chocolate piece of heaven was dipped in an orange glaze and..decorated with whimsy. Its crown toppled a few times but was worth it! Yum!

Daily Prompt: My Vice



The daily prompt asked for vices.. I have so many to choose from..but my addiction to Cheesecake encompasses all of them. Gluttonous, decadent, sensual, erotic cheesecake. And I do not mean your mother’s cheesecake. New York style..over the top thick, rich in that makes you feel like a sinner. When a food can make you feel like you need confession, then indeed it is well worth it. Yes, it is all of my vices in one.


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Now..THAT is Amore! Italy’s Healthy Side!

Me and mini me strolling through Little Italy's food treasures!
Me and mini me strolling through Little Italy’s food treasures!

Unfortunately Italy is far from my current geographical stomping grounds. When I feel like bringing Tuscany and its colors, tastes, smells, sounds into my little haven… I retreat to the kitchen.

Me and mini me have had a long week. The weather has been frightful but fun, and we needed a few dishes that could keep us going strong. What better way than my version of Tuscan spring in a kale-sausage stew?

There is no other star brighter than the nutritional powerhouse of kale. It’s bright green hue showcases its might– low in calories, high in fiber, iron, vitamins A, C, E and K, an anti-inflammatory and digestive aid! What better base for my culinary trip back to Italia !

Me and mini me started by sautéing a basic base of four minced cloves of garlic and half of a red onion in olive oil. Then we put in 5-7 chopped ripe roma tomatoes. Once the garlic and onion were translucent I added sea salt and thyme. We added 6 links of a turkey sausage ( be mindful that some alternatives to pork sausage have a lot of salt..buy fresh if possible..we lucked out and went to a newly discovered local butcher).

Our Sausage-Kale Stew
Our Sausage-Kale Stew

Crumble the sausage in the pan and add vegetable stock. Keep the heat on low to medium and add a pound of tri-color tortellini and as much kale as you can handle! (Make sure to clean the kale well and chop it so it is palatable).

Add 5-7 fresh chopped basil leaves, pepper to taste and 1/2 cup of
Romano cheese. The colors and tastes are reminiscent of the spring greens of Italy’s countryside. Pair it with a nice glass of wine and forget…or remember…

whichever is more pleasant!

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Squash That !

When the leaves start to change, me and mini spend even more time in the kitchen. I watch in awe as my girl changes year to year into her own little person. She has her own tastes and does not need a step stool anymore to reach the stove! Soon she will be taller than me. Time changes all things, but some stay the same. When fall reaches our doorstep we always relish in the usual fall flavors, but we make sure to keep the spice in our lives too. This hot Italian blood needs to keep the coals burning!

Mini Me!
Mini Me!

There is nothing like the mellow nutty smoothness of Acorn Squash in fall. But I also need to keep things hot, so I make sure to add some not so seasonal spice to our lives. Me and mini me have experimented with various chilis in our winter hot cocoa, and we thought we would use our favorite in a sweet and spicy chicken marinade. Our table and lives have been plentiful this week!

When mini me was just a baby, I would roast squash for her and she would use her hands to get as much as possible. We were not much neater this time around! We cut the acorn squash in half and used a fork to remove the pits ( which are tasty toasted). Then we used sunflower oil ( I tasted an incredible batch of flavored oils from a local farmer at a food festival this week). The sunflower oil was incredible, it can be a bit heavy so use it sparingly. Then we used sprinkled on some FRESH nutmeg ( please do not use nutmeg that has been on a shelf for a decade) and sea salt and put it in the oven at 400 for 25 minutes, until the flesh was soft. We then used some local honey on each half and put it back in for just 5 minutes. At this point it is perfect as is, but you can pull the pulp out, beat in an egg, mix it with cream, season it, refill the squash and bake it at 300 for 10 minutes as well.

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Acorn squash will give you just about 150 % of your Vitamin A requirement! It is this unique combination and high potency vitamin c/ beta carotene, that makes it a true cancer fighter. Its juice is actually thought to be medicinal because of its antioxidant power. It is a must for your diet this season.

Alongside we made a spicy chili-mango chicken. While mango is not in season, where I am at …decent mango is still easy to find. We used 2 cups of diced mango, cooked it down with the flesh of one red chili , olive oil, salt, brown sugar, a tsp of honey and some vegetable stock. We then used the marinade for 5 thin chicken breasts and cooked it along side the acorn for about 20 minutes.

Our Mango Chicken
Our Mango Chicken

Any form of chili pepper  always instantly improves how I feel. Capsaicin, the top cancer fighting component of chili peppers, is used to treat prostate cancer patients. Chili peppers have been utilized medicinally for thousands of years and are known to ease migraines, improve blood flow, fight cancer, improve sexuality. Some studies have linked  them to a longer life span, so keep the spice in your life!

Be on the lookout for our butternut squash lasagna and apple squash soup later this week! Happy eating and happy haunting this week from us. 🙂

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That’s a Big Cannoli You’ve Got!

Finding real Italian food below the Mason Dixon is like trying to find a good man. Oh how you will suffer through the imposters. The price is always too high and the mental hangover lingers endlessly.

You know you are far from home when you need to shop in the “ethnic” aisle for San Marzano Tomatoes. Yes, you too may find yourself looking into the frazzled eyes of  a southern grocer, attempting to decipher your Yankee accent and need for “special” tomatoes.

Like love, however, if you shop around and do your homework, you just may find the rustic comfort your soul craves. When I am below the Italian food belt ( anything south of 9th Street in Philadelphia), the hunt for something to heal my homesick ails is daunting. When I miss Umberto’s Pizzeria, when I miss Luigi’s,  and when Caffe Reggio is far behind me in the rear view , I stop in at Leoci’s Trattoria in  Savannah.

Local farm raised ingredients meets rustic homemade Amore! The pasta is made fresh for each plate, so be patient. But, just like the hunt for a lascivious lover, the wait is worth it. From the arancini to the fresh tagliatelle, it may be better than that lover anyway!!

During my recent visit I tried the Pasta alla Norma; fresh ribbons of tagliatelle with grilled eggplant, crushed tomatoes and a delightful helping of buffalo mozzarella. My salad was smothered in grilled artichokes and under a raspberry jalapeño dressing, made fresh on the spot. If you do wander in, be sure to try the veal polpette and any of the risotto. The wine list is endless and so are the possibilities! So do not fret, find yourself an olive skinned beauty or a stallion, and turn that GPS to Leoci’s.