Thursday, September 27, 2007

Marinara Magnifica

This is my favorite spaghetti sauce in the world. It is rich, tangy, a little bit sweet, and a little bit spicey. It cooks for a long time, but prep is easy which makes it perfect for a Saturday or Sunday. The recipe makes alot, so I usually freeze batches to thaw and reheat. You'll never want to return to jarred sauce again. (Source, Alysha via Cooking Light)


1 tablespoon olive oil
6 cups chopped onion (about 3 medium)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 tablespoon extravirgin olive oil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
6 garlic cloves, crushed
2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes, undrained
2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
2 (6-ounce) cans tomato paste


Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat; add onion and sugar. Cook 30 minutes or until golden, stirring occasionally. Stir in wine; cook 1 minute. Add remaining ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 3 hours, stirring occasionally.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Tangy Chicken Fajitas

This is from It is one of a small handful of recipes that Bernardo found and makes himself. Authentic? No. Delicious? Yes. This is one of our go-to recipes. In reality, we don't marinate it for more than 20 minutes as it is usually an after-work meal. We serve with a full buffet of toppings: cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, beans, rice, and sour cream.

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 (.7 ounce) packages dry Italian-style salad dressing mix
  • 3 whole boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced

  1. In a large glass bowl combine the oil, vinegar, lime juice, and dry salad dressing mix. Mix together. Add chicken strips, onion and bell pepper. Cover dish and refrigerate. Marinate for 3 to 6 hours.
  2. In a large skillet, heat oil. Remove chicken, onion and bell pepper from marinade and saute in oil until chicken is cooked through (juices run clear) and onion is translucent.
  3. Serve on warm flour tortillas with toppings.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Scampi on CousCous

This is a recipe I've made many many times from my favorite food tv chef, Giada Delaurentis of "Everyday Italian". I don't love most of the chefs on the food network, but her food is generally quick, easy, heathful, and delicious. this dish is no exception. The couscous can be a little bit labor intensive, but the flavor is unbelievable. The dish is tangy, light, and complex. Being that I am familiar with the recipe, I purchase ez peel shrimp, and owning a submersion blender to blend the couscous broth, it takes me only about 35 minutes to make the dish. Just do-able after work. The couscous is also a great way to sneak veggies into a finicky child or spouse.

Scampi on Couscous
Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed, plus 2 garlic cloves minced
2 (8 ounce) cans chopped tomatoes in their juice
1 (8ounce) bottle clam juice
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 cup water
2 cups plain couscous
2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 lemon, juiced
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
Chopped parsley leaves, for garnish
In a large pot, heat 1/4 cup olive oil. When almost smoking, add onion, carrot and 1 clove smashed garlic and saute until vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes and their juice, clam juice and white wine. Bring to a boil and simmer on medium heat for 10 minutes, uncovered. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Carefully pour tomato mixture in the bowl of a food processor and puree. Add a couple of tablespoons of water if needed - you want to end up with a broth. Check for seasoning.

Return broth to the pot. Add 1 cup of water and 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add 2 cups couscous. Cover pot and remove from heat. Let rest for 10 minutes, allowing the couscous to absorb all the liquid. Fluff with a fork and season with salt and pepper.

In a large skillet, add the remaining 1/4 cup oil and the 2 cloves of minced garlic. Heat the oil, making sure not to burn the garlic. When the oil is hot, add the shrimp and stirring occasionally, cook the shrimp until they start to turn pink, about 5 minutes. Be careful not to overcook the shrimp or they will become tough. Remove from heat and add the lemon juice, red pepper and chopped parsley. Check for seasoning.

To serve, mound the couscous in the center of a platter and top with the shrimp.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Natalie's Special Shrimp Pasta

I created this pasta dish as an homage to my favorite pizza at Brixx in Chapel Hill. I felt like having the ingredients one night, but didn't feel like making pizza dough, so I decided to turn it into a pasta sauce. I usually just kind of throw it together, so do not take the amounts listed literally. Do, however try it as it is quick and delicious. So delicious that I have no picture. We ate it too quickly. You can also omit the shrimp if you are a vegetarian. The goat cheese will melt over the hot pasta and make a creamy sauce.
1 lb pasta (I use whole wheat spaghetti)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup roasted red peppers chopped and drained
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes chopped
1/2 - 1 pound shrimp shelled and deveined (I buy ez peel for ease)
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes (less or more depending on how spicy you like it)
Salt (preferably kosher)
goat cheese (small log)
2-3 tablespoons fresh basil chopped
1. Bring large pot of water to boil, salt liberally
2. Add pasta
3. While pasta cooks heat olive oil in very large skillet over medium high heat
4. Add sundried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, red pepper flakes and large pinch of salt-cook 2 or three minutes
5. Add shrimp, cook about 2 minutes until JUST opaque, reduce heat to medium
6. Pasta should be 1-2 minutes short of being done
7. Strain slightly undercooked pasta (reserving some pasta water) and add to skillet and toss with peppers, tomatoes, and shrimp
8. Spoon in 2 or 3 ladles (2 cups) of pasta water skillet
9. Finish cooking pasta with peppers, tomatoes, and shrimp until liquid has been absorbed
10. Remove from heat
11. Crumble goat cheese and basil over pasta and mix well
12. Serve and garnish with parmesan if you so desire

Monday, September 3, 2007

Roasted Vegetable Panzanella

Roasted Vegetable Panzanella is probably in my top 3 favorite recipes. I made it first for Nate and Steph. It is rather time consuming, so it is really a weekend dinner, but worth every moment of preparation. SOOOO Good. Using good bread and cheese is key. I usually use regular balsamic b/c that's what I have on hand and I never chop capers. Why chop capers, they are already so small.


1 large garlic clove
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 (12-inch) lengths of crusty baguette, cut into 1-inch cubes (12 cups)
3/4 lb cherry tomatoes, halved
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 lb green beans, trimmed and halved crosswise
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (preferably white)
3 tablespoons capers (packed in brine), rinsed, drained, and chopped
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 (19-oz) can cannellini beans or chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 lb lightly salted fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/3-inch dice
3/4 cup chopped fresh basil


Arrange oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 425°F.

Mince and mash garlic to a paste with a pinch of salt using a large heavy knife, then transfer to a small bowl and add 1/2 cup olive oil in a slow stream, whisking until combined well. Put bread cubes in a large bowl and drizzle with 3 tablespoons garlic oil, tossing to combine, then divide bread between 2 large shallow baking pans, arranging in 1 layer. Toast in oven, stirring once or twice, until golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Leave oven on.

Gently toss tomatoes with 1 tablespoon oil (not garlic oil), 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in a bowl, then arrange in 1 layer on a large shallow baking pan. Toss green beans in same bowl with remaining 2 tablespoons oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper, then arrange in 1 layer in another large shallow baking pan. Roast vegetables, switching position of pans halfway through roasting and shaking pans once or twice, until tomatoes are very tender but not falling apart and beans are just tender and browned in spots, 12 to 16 minutes. Cool vegetables in pans until ready to assemble salad.

While vegetables roast, add vinegar to remaining garlic oil along with capers, sugar, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and whisk to combine well.

Put green beans, tomatoes (along with any pan juices), toasted bread, beans, mozzarella, and basil in a large bowl, then drizzle with dressing and stir to combine well. Let stand 10 to 15 minutes at room temperature to allow flavors to develop, then stir just before serving.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Grilled Salmon Vera Cruz

Rick Bayless is one of our favorite chefs, and conincidentally a Chicago restaurant owner (our three regular blog readers and commenters are all IL natives). He cooks classic and updated Mexican cuisine, but not what you think of Mexican. His dishes are frequently light, quick, and flavor packed. Tonight, we made this grilled Salmon which lived up to our expectations of his recipes. We served with a side of grilled quash. I only used 2 salmon steaks tonight, and plan use leftover sauce over grilled chicken tomorrow. For you vegetarians, this sauce would be nice over a mixture of grilled summer veggies and a bed of white rice.


1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for oiling the grill and the salmon
1 medium-sized onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
7 cups diced (1/2 inch) ripe tomatoes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves, plus a few sprigs for garnish
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1 cup pitted, roughly sliced green olives (preferably manzanillo olives)
1/4 cup capers, drained and rinsed
3 pickled jalapeƱo peppers, stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced
Salt, to taste
6 salmon steaks (7 to 8 ounces each), about 1 inch thick


1. Prepare the sauce: Place oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more. Raise the heat to medium-high and add the tomatoes, chopped thyme, lemon zest, and half of the olives, capers, and peppers. Simmer briskly, stirring, for about 5 minutes to evaporate some of the liquid. Reduce the heat to medium-low, stir in 1 cup water and simmer for 15 minutes. Taste and season with salt. Cool.

2. Preheat a gas grill to medium-high or light a charcoal fire and let it burn just until the coals are covered with gray ash and very hot. Reduce the heat on one side of the gas grill to medium-low or set up the charcoal grill for indirect cooking by banking all of the coals to one side, leaving the other half of the grill empty. Set the cooking grate in place, cover the grill and let the grate heat for 5 minutes.

3. Oil the grill and both sides of each salmon steak; sprinkle fish with salt. Cook the salmon over the hottest part of the grill for about 4 minutes, until nicely browned underneath. Carefully flip over the fish onto the cooler side of the grill; cook 2 to 4 minutes more for medium-rare.

4. Spoon the sauce into a deep platter and nestle the fish in it. Let stand at room temperature for about an hour to bring together the flavors of the fish and the sauce.

5. To serve, sprinkle the fish with remaining olives, capers, and peppers; garnish with the thyme sprigs. Serve immediately.

Per serving: 460 calories, 15g carbohydrates, 42g protein, 25g fat, 110mg cholesterol.
Nutritional Breakdown: New Wellness, Richmond, Va

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Hello everyone. Welcome to my recipe blog. I don't think I have to explain why I've made this. FYI, I will only post recipes AFTER I've made them and given the Natalie stamp of approval. Bon Appetite.