Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Chile Lime Tilapia with Summer Zucchini

Sometimes living by myself can get sad. Not often, since its lovely to be able to eat what I want, when I want it (tomato salad 3 days in a row? Yes please!), watch all the crappy TV I want (I'm looking at you Real Housewives) and not feel bad if I have a fat day and go through 10 outfits before I leave for the office...and walk out without picking up the 9 outfits I decided not to wear.

But sometimes, cooking for yourself can be...hard. Not only that you're by yourself, but that you're cooking for one person! I think that's why so many single people order takeout or get frozen meals--it's a lot easier to do that for one person than to cook. And many times when you cook, you'll end up throwing stuff out because recipes are rarely for one. 

This is also why this blog is so important to me--I spent a long time getting used to cooking for an individual without wasting food and money. Hopefully I'm providing all you singles out there (and you families!) with recipes that are easy to make for one person without breaking the bank. That's also why I eat so much's a lot easier to ask the guy behind the seafood counter to cut 6 oz. off that massive fillet of salmon than it is to ask a butcher to trim down that steak! 

The other good news about cooking for myself is that cooking for one has caused me to focus on yummy recipes that take a minimum of time to cook...mainly because if I look at a recipe and it looks too time intensive...I get a knock on my door and my delivery man is on the other side. This recipe took me, from start to finish...15 minutes. I kid you not.

Any recipes you're interested in? Shoot me an email at I love to hear from you!

Chile Lime Tilapia with Summer Zucchini


6 oz tilapia for each person
Cayenne chile powder
1 lime
1 zucchini
1 summer squash
Olive oil


1. Preheat your oven to 400F. Line a large baking dish with tin foil.

2. Cut your zucchini and summer squash into small chunks--I cut crosswise down the entire zucchini and then cut those circles into four pieces. Toss with olive oil and put pieces in one layer on the baking dish. Place in oven.

3. Rinse and dry your tilapia. Brush the fish with olive oil and sprinkle cayenne powder over the fish, to your taste (I happen to love me some cayenne). Zest the lime over the fish; cut the lime in half and squeeze juice onto the fish.

4. After 12 minutes of the zucchini cooking, remove from oven. Place the fish in the center of the dish and return to the oven. Cook until tilapia is cooked through and flakes easily with a fork. Then enjoy!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Roasted Tomatoes on the Vine

I think it is safe to say that tomatoes are my favorite fruit. I also have to admit that I may or may not have just wikipedia'd tomatoes to figure out if they were a fruit or vegetable. Weren't they a vegetable when I was a kid? Is this another "Pluto is no longer a planet" things? Do scientists do this just to confuse us normal people? Is anyone else as confused as I am? ...probably not.

Anyway, back to tomatoes. Tomatoes have played an integral part of my childhood...and my general family history. As you know, I grew up in Jersey, so tomatoes (and corn) have been staples...forever. My mum has told me that she used to eat tomatoes the way some people eat apples (I must admit, I have since started doing the exact same thing). As you've seen from my summer sides post, the majority of the dishes we serve down the shore have tomatoes included. Even during the winter, we rely on tomatoes in our Italian food--marinara goes in lasagna, spaghetti pie, stuffed shells, meatballs, etc. I think if i could only eat one food for the rest of my life (and yes, this is a bold claim) would be tomatoes. Or chocolate. I am a woman after all!

Normally I stick with fresh tomatoes served raw. Or pureed and put into a sauce, like over pasta. But I've been dying to try to roast tomatoes...I mean, I like red peppers significantly more when they are roasted. Maybe I would feel the same about tomatoes! And this recipe is sooo quick and easy it's great to add to your arsenal.

Well, I have to say...these were delicious. Do I like them more than raw tomatoes? I don't think so, but the taste is so different it is amazing. I recommend serving these on a toasted baguette with a bit of ricotta served as a crostini. YUM!

Roasted Tomatoes on the Vine


Cherry tomatoes on the vine
One large garlic clove
Basil (I used purple basil from my CSA)
Good quality olive oil
Balsamic vinegar


1. Preheat the oven to 350F.

2. Wash your tomatoes; chop the garlic and basil. 

3. Put foil on a baking dish (you all know my obsession with foil. Easy clean up!). Add the tomatoes and sprinkle the olive oil and balsamic over top. Sprinkle the basil and garlic so they fall on all of the tomatoes. 

4. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes. When they're done, they should burst open if you cut through them.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Week 3 CSA

Another week, another pick up from my Roxbury Farm CSA! I so look forward to Thursday's because I get a fresh batch of veggies. Thus far, I've yet to use them all by myself, but when I head to the shore on weekends I bring any I haven't used/don't think I'll use the next week so that they don't go to waste. I still haven't figured out what in the world to do with all the turnips I have, so suggestions are welcome! Email them to me at

This week's goodies:

  • Turnips
  • 2 zucchini
  • 2 cucumbers
  • 1 head green cabbage
  • 1 head red leaf lettuce
  • Salad mix
  • Kale
  • Snow peas
  • Scallions
  • Purple basil
  • Parsley
  • Cilantro
On top of the turnips, I'm not entirely sure what to do with all of those scallions. I also dislike that they're called scallions...stop being all stuck up, you're green onions! Sheesh. I've been making sauteed kale the way I used to do spinach and it has really been growing on me. If you like spinach, I highly recommend it.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Friday's Quick Pics

I feel like it has been SO long since I did a quick pics post! I've been making legitimate food, so my random shots are just less interesting than recipe posts. But alas, I've decided that it's time (and I have no new recipes to post) so enjoyyyy.

antipasto platter
roasted red peppers, fresh mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, cave-aged gruyere, salami made with red wine and a peppercorn jack cheese from a local dairy farm

chili cheese hotdog
made with Freddi's famous chili! Recipe to come...(I know, I've been promising it for a while. But it is coming!)

hawaiian grilled shrimp
(recipe for the marinade to come)

crock-pot salsa chicken
(pre-cooking, obviously)

grilled butter steak

Clearly, with the number of pictures I have, I should be doing this post more often...

Thursday, June 21, 2012

BLAT sandwiches

This past weekend, as I said, was both my dad's birthday and Father's Day. So of course...I hung out with my mom.

Just kidding, it wasn't on purpose. Although it totally did happen. My parents recently joined a country club (you may remember on Mother's Day I played in the scramble) and over the weekend they had a father/son tournament. My brother came down from New York for the day and the two of them played 18 holes with one of my dad's close friends and his stepson. Since it was a tournament, of course the course was backed up, so the two of them ended up being gone from about 9 a.m. until we met them for drinks at 3:30ish!

Which left a lot of quality time for me and my mum to hang out. We took my dog to get her stitches out (happy to report that the report on the tumor the vet removed came back--not malignant!), walked around Suburban Square, got my mum's wedding ring cleaned, went food shopping...and ate an absolutely delicious lunch.

For the past couple of weeks, I've been having a serious craving for a BLAT sandwich. Now, knowing my mom, and her obsession with bacon (seriously, she even admits it!), I was pretty positive that I could get her on the boat. I subtly mentioned it while we were in the car on the way to the farmer's market and, I kid you not, within two seconds she was planning what kind of bread to get and where to get the bacon. We were a couple of kids in a candy store!!!

On top of having the amazing sandwich, it was an absolutely gorgeous day out. We sat outside on our deck and just hung out, listening to music and chatting. At one point I distinctly remember turning to her and saying, "this...this whole thing right really working for me." My mum knew exactly what I meant. It was one of those unplanned mother/daughter moments that I'll remember for a long time to come.

Now, a BLAT sandwich is a BLT with the amazing addition of avocado. Since there's only a handful of ingredients, it is absolutely essential to get good ones. We purchased bacon from an Amish farm, low-carb honey bread (ps how the hell can bread be low carbs?) from a bakery and the veggies from a small farm. And it was AMAZING.

BLAT Sandwich

Ingredients (for one sandwich):

2 slices of flavorful bread
2 thick slices of bacon
Tomato (amount depends on the size of the tomato)
1/2 avocado
2 pieces of romaine lettuce


1. Heat pan over medium-high heat and cook bacon to preference (we like ours pretty cooked).

2. Toast bread in a toaster oven. Once toasted, add a dollop of mayo to each side--make sure not to add too much, you will get a lot of creaminess from the avocado.

3. Slice your tomato and lettuce to fit your sandwich. Slice and remove avocado from peel, keeping it in long strips. For hints on how to do this, check out this post.

4. Build your sandwich. Place one piece of lettuce on each piece of bread. On one side, add the bacon--we broke ours in half so that it would fit. On the other, add the sliced tomatoes and avocado. Put the two sides together and enjoy.

As a warning, this sandwich tends to get messy...especially if you pack it high like I did! My recommendation? Get into it, pick up the bits that fall off, continually rebuild your sandwich...whatever you need to get all of this deliciousness into your gullet. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Week 2 CSA

Last week was the second pick-up for my Roxbury Farm CSA. We're still on just veggies (fruit starts in July) and man do we have some good ones! This is the first full week for the CSA--last week was a bonus since spring came so early--and I was overwhelmed by how much I get! It takes me two reusable bags to carry everything home.

This week's goodies:

  • Turnips
  • Kohlrabi (to be used in a kohlrabi and apple slaw)
  • Kale
  • Broccoli rabe
  • Nappa cabbage
  • Head of lettuce
  • One summer squash
  • Two zucchinis
  • Broccoli
  • Garlic scapes (!!!)
  • Snap peas
  • Salad mix
  • Cilantro

I think my problem is going to be EATING all of this! Thus far I've really liked the CSA because it forces me to eat outside my comfort more broccoli and asparagus every single day

Monday, June 18, 2012

Father's Day Bolognese

A belated happy father's day goes out to all the dads that read my blog. You're the most important man in any woman's life: the one who rocked her when she cried as a baby, picked her up when she fell down as a child, threatened boys when she was in high school and walked her down the aisle when she got married. Thank you all for making us into the people we are today.

On top of Father's Day, Saturday was also my dad's birthday! 

Happy birthday Daddy!!!
...and no, my dad is neither 2 or 11. One candle is for it being his birthday and one if for good luck!

My dad's a simple guy with simple wants. He's Irish...not exactly known for amazing cuisine (although I will be the first to tell you that many...ok some...Irish recipes are delicious. I'm looking at you shepherd's pie and guinness stew). And he's obsessed with Italian food. Seriously. The man could eat my mum's spaghetti and meatballs three times a week for the rest of his life and never complain. When my mum is away, he eats Bertolli every single night. He's always happy to be a test subject for my new recipes, as long as they are Italian. But his absolute favorite Italian meal is bolognese.

So of course, being the wonderful daughter that I am, I made bolognese last week and schlepped it home on the train with me for us to enjoy on his birthday. I made it the traditional way, but we all wished it was a bit more sauce-like, so if you feel the same, I recommend adding a can of strained tomatoes.



1 lb. mixed ground beef, veal and pork
5 carrots, peeled and minced
5 celery stalks, minced
2/3 onion, minced
1 can chopped tomatoes
2 cups red wine
Dried basil, oregano and parsley
Salt and pepper
olive oil


1. Heat a pot over medium-high heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil and put your minced vegetables in. Cook until onion is translucent and celery is soft (the carrot will still have a bite to it).

2. Add the ground meat. Brown it, breaking it up in the process.

3. Once the meat starts to brown, add the chopped tomatoes and spices to taste. Continue to cook until the meat is cooked through and the tomatoes have been mixed in.

4. Add the red wine and continue stirring. Turn the heat to low (but not simmer) and cook the sauce for an hour and a half. As you can see, the liquid will boil off some.

On Saturday, my mum and I picked up fresh pasta from an Italian market--pappardelle, the perfect vehicle to get the delicious bolognese into our mouths!

I highly recommend this bolognese. It would work with just ground beef as well, but I think the mixed meat gave it a real depth of flavor. However, I couldn't give any to my dog because it had pork/veal in it, and she was not happy with me...

Kodi licking her lips waiting for her helping of bolognese, which never happened...

On a completely separate note, my mum told me this weekend that I write about my dad all the time. So look for a post this week on BLATs, which the two of us made while my brother and dad were off gallivanting on the golf course. Maybe one of these days she'll even let me post a picture of her so you can all see how lovely she is!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Sunday Meal Planning

After last week's meat-a-palooza, I need a break. Not just from meat itself, although I'm sure that amount of dead animal can't be good for anyone even if I did eat different kinds of animals each day, but from the whole process of cooking meat. And relying on meat. I mean, I haven't even uploaded a post of my wonderful CSA because I'm too busy posting recipes for steak this and veal that and chicken whatever. And MAN was that a lot of cooking!

So it's time to get back to my pescetarian/vegetarian roots for a little. But it's also time for me to share the meals I make when I realllly don't feel like cooking. Which means...a new type of blog post! I haven't determined the name (damn Sandra Lee for copyrighting "semi-homemade") but they will focus on meals I make when I don't have the time, the energy, the want or any combination of the three. I'll explain more in my first post; this my friends, is what we in the biz (what biz? does anyone call their career a biz?) call a teaser.

Sunday: bangin' good shrimp, based on this recipe by SkinnyTaste

Monday: steak with snow peas

Tuesday: stuffed veal cutlet

Wednesday: dinner here with one of my favorite people

Thursday: gyoza dumplings with dipping sauce

Friday: salmon with apple and kohlrabi slaw (what is kohlrabi you ask? well good, you have the exact same question I did when I got it from my CSA)

Also, look forward to recipe posts this week like my dad's birthday/Father's Day bolognese with fresh pasta and a BLAT sandwich. Hope everyone has a fab week!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Grilled Veal Chop

You would never guess from this week's posts that I used to be a pescetarian. I went from eating only fish and vegetables to...politically incorrect meat (is veal still politically incorrect?). Even if it's not, it should be just for being so expensive.

But alas, a girl can not subsist on vegetables alone...anymore. Actually I'm not sure how I was a vegetarian for more than 2 minutes (I think it lasted a few weeks) before deciding that fish doesn't reaaaally count. I do have fond memories of my time as a pescetarian however. I look back on it and think how much better I felt when my tank was full of sea water and dirt. How true is that memory though? Why did I switch back? Am I really such a hedonist that I started eating meat again just because it tasted good? Answer to the latter is most likely...yes. But I digress from my real point.

I think the difference was that I started shopping at farmer's markets. To my college-aged, liberal arts-educated mind, there was something wrong with having no idea where my food came from (yes, I was advanced for my age, thankyouverymuch). I'd pick up a package of meat in the grocery store and all it would say is...80% lean. From where, I would ask (and yes, I meant that in multiple ways--as I still have on my to do list--from 6 years ago-- to figure out where exactly my favorite cuts come from on an animal body. The only one I'm sure I have down is ribs. Oh and shoulder. But I mean, come on, that's pretty obvious. Not exactly straining my gray matter there...) But also, where did this animal grow up (I was a bit of a sap, clearly, since I say "where did this animal grow up" and not "where was this animal raised to be slaughtered").

The fish counter, however, was different. Wild Atlantic Salmon! You know where that's from? The wild Atlantic! Or just the Atlantic! Either one works, I guess; I'm fairly certain if you showed me a globe I could pick out the massive blue chunk that is the Atlantic, and I have always been pretty awful at geography. So meat was out, and fish was in.

It didn't help that, after I gave up meat, every time I would eat it when at a family member's house or friend's house (places where manners won out over a decision that had no real solid backing), meat would make me sick...mainly because my body wasn't used to digesting it. So I started equating meat to an upset stomach, which could have kept me a pescetarian forever.

Until the summer after my senior year, when I was making up the semester I missed (damn mono!), I found the glorious Nashville Farmer's Market. As a bit of background, I was bored the majority of that summer. I had tried to make up the credits I missed while sick throughout my years so only had to take two classes...a total of 2 hours a day. And the rest was spent with little to do, since my friends had either graduated or gone home for the summer. [side note that I made a lovely friend that summer with the same name (spelled Andee) who I still talk to and have great memories of a Fourth of July weekend on the lake with her family tubing and (attempting to) wakeboard]

I cooked a lot that summer. That's the summer that Sea Salt n Pepa was born, although, as you can see, I've since deleted most of my old posts because man, if I was bored, the readers of those posts would have been worse off. But once I found that farmer's market, I spent a lot of time there. I would wander the stalls, comparing the quality of squash from this farm to that from this farm, and marveling at how many onions I could get for $1 (answer--a lot). I liked talking to the farmers about how they grew their vegetables. And the cheese monger about how each cheese was made and its flavor profile. And, to my surprise, the ranchers (I mean, it was Nashville, there were some real live cowboys there! Sadly, however, there were only a few) who raised livestock. The one I used to get eggs from would wax philosophical about the importance of hand feeding calves and slaughtering cows humanely. 

I remember, one day, having an epiphany. I knew where this meat came from. This guy, right here, standing in front of me, raises the animals that these pieces were from on a ranch 70 miles outside of Nashville...from birth to slaughter. And I bought a piece of meat from him...and then almost died when he told me how much it was. was not the $1 I spent on enough onions for two weeks. #justsaying

It's not so much that I think you should only eat organic, or only grass fed, or only XYZ-type of meat that is "in vogue". Instead, I just think you should know where your food is coming from. The small Amish farm in Lancaster who brings their meat to the Ardmore Farmer's Market near my parents is much less likely to be affected by a mad cow epidemic in Mexico than what you pick up in the grocery store. And yes, it might be a bit more eat less meat. It's not meant to be a massive part of our diet. Check out the food triangle's replacement, the Food Plate. And just think about it.

Ok, don't worry, I'm stepping down from my soapbox. So back to the meat! The lovely politically incorrect veal chop! But more importantly, back to the recipe for a little marinade that will take your lovely veal chop and turn it into a mouth-wateringly-delicious lovely veal chop...with a cooking time of less than 10 minutes.

Of note, I used a bone-in veal chop, but you can use this marinade on basically any piece or cute of meat you'd like.

Grilled Veal Chop


1 refrigerated veal chop, per person
1/4 c. good olive oil
1/8 c. good balsamic vinegar
2 shallots
2 garlic cloves
Fresh green herbs (i.e. basil, parsley, oregano, sage--just make sure any you throw in work together)


1. Make your marinade. Chop your shallots and garlic. This does not have to be a fancy or very good chop since it is a marinade. Combine the olive oil and balsamic in your container--I prefer to use plastic bags, but you can use a bowl also. Add the chopped shallots and garlic, as well as whole leaves of the herbs you have chosen.

2. You are going to marinate your chop while it comes up to room temperature, which is essential for cooking meat evenly. Place the refrigerated chop in the bag with the marinade. Make sure to move the marinade around the meat, otherwise you end up with one piece that's very garlicky and flavorful and others that are not. Marinate for one hour, making sure to shift the marinade around and flip.

If you will be marinating for longer, make sure to place your chop in the fridge. Then take the chop out 30 minutes or so before you plan to cook to bring it to room temperature.

3. Heat your grill(pan) to medium-high. Add olive oil spray. Once the grill(pan) is hot, add the veal chop. Cook for 4 minutes on the first side and about two on the other, depending on the thickness of the chop. Remove from grill and enjoy!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

My New Grill Pan!

As I reported in Sunday's post on my menu planning, I bought a couple of new things for my kitchen, including (I wish I could adequately convey my excitement) a grill pan!!!

I've been dying to get a grill pan for...well I won't embarrass myself by explaining how long, but suffice to say it's been a while. And, to be honest, I'm not really sure what stopped me from buying one. Possibly I was afraid that, like with a real grill, I wouldn't know what to do with it (which is absolutely ridiculous, since it's basically just a pan with raised edges. Possibly I was poor and more interested in buying clothes than kitchen appliances (I know, how I've grown up). Possibly I was just too lazy and forgetful and moments after thinking how much better something would be on a grill pan I forgot it. Who knows, all I know is that I am now a proud owner of a grill pan. Eat your heart out Dad!

So obviously the first thing I wanted to do this week was test out my pan! Sadly, I had work. I know, how annoying is that! Don't they understand I have a new toy to play with! Sheesh. So all day I sat at work dreaming of my grill pan and my (the only real choice to test anything to do with a grill out) NY strip steak waiting for me.

When I did (finally, in my opinion) get to test out the pan, I have to tell was everything I dream of. Perfect grill marks, done INSIDE. My entire existence has turned on its axis. I'm looking around at a whole new world people!

too much? Could be...

Here is one of the simplest recipes for a quick work-night dinner. If anyone is with you, call it:
Grilled NY Strip with Mashed Potatoes and Steamed Broccoli

If you're eating alone, then don't lie to yourself:
Grill(panned) NY Strip with (refrigerated) Mashed Potatoes and Steamed (ok microwaved) Broccoli

It's allllll about presentation people. And speaking of which, this recipe will not be explained via numbers and ingredients like normally. Just check out the pictures folks.

the raw strip
vigorously salted and peppered

side numero uno (after its been flipped)
spray grill pan with PAM olive oil spray
place over medium-high heat
once hot, place steak on the pan

perfectly cooked, with grill marks, after only about 10 minutes
you should only turn the steak once so that it gets a good crust, although I rotated it to achieve those grill marks

raw broccoli
I'm actually famous for my microwaved broccoli're welcome
chop and place in bowl with about a tbsp of water
microwave for 2 minutes
remove from microwave, add a drizzle of olive oil (enough that each piece gets a bit) and toss
microwave for another minute

the best refrigerated mashed potatoes in the world
go buy them
i'll wait

back yet?


ok, here we go!

trick: after the three minutes in the microwave, add butter and mix up
then nuke for another minute to get hot

::you can keep doing this until you're out. just scoop onto plate, add a little nugget of butter and microwave for about a minute::

the finished plate!
Fancy, huh?
Steakhouse ready
All done in...15 minutes or less.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Meal Planning Sunday

It is officially summer. And by that I is grossly hot in NYC and getting in the subway is painful. Yayyy summer!

It also means that anyone who lives in the city does their damnedest to get OUT of the city every single weekend. I am definitely one of those people. Every Friday I head straight from work to the train station to catch a train either down the shore or to my parent's house. This past weekend was only slightly different...I caught the train first thing Saturday morning. I know, living large!!

The problem with catching a train every single weekend is that, inevitably, some troublesome issue happens. Take today. It took me 3 hours and two trains to get from Philly to New York. And I was one of the lucky ones! Amtrak trains were delayed (get this) four PLUS hours because of a signal issue in a tunnel near D.C. I walked into 30th Street Station for my afternoon train and, no joke, saw trains from 9:00 a.m. were still listed on the board. No train after 11:00 a.m. was even up there. The station was packed with people stuck and the line to talk to an agent easily had 100 people on it. 

Luckily, I (kind of) know what I'm doing. And what I don't know, my parents do (hi mum and dad!). So instead of sitting on my butt waiting for an Amtrak or going back to my parent's house with the question of how/when I'd actually get back to NYC, I took a fairly roundabout way to get back to the city involving multiple tickets, a couple of trains and one fairly interesting conductor. But, whatever, I'm here aren't I! Oh, and once I did get back into the city, half the roads in the upper west side were closed because of the Tony's! Today=not my day.

However, I did bring back lots of food...protein, as always. I brought back dover sole (which I had tonight), a ny strip steak, veal chop, two chicken breasts and a pound of ground veal/pork/beef mix. Which pretty much rounds out my food shopping, since last week started by CSA! Sadly, I don't have pictures because I hit a camera setting that screwed everything up, but am thrilled to report that the bonus pick-up last week included one summer squash, one zucchini, radishes, turnips, broccoli, head lettuce, kohlrabi (what is this, you may ask? Well, I'm asking the exact same question), tatsoi (which seems similar to spinach) and cilantro.

AND I bought two things I've been dying to have in my kitchen and they took the trek back to the city with me--a new grill pan and a salad spinner (it's the little things in life). So obviously my food this week will a) be cooked on my new pan and b) be made with all of my food. Here's to the week being better than today.

Monday: steak (grilled on my new pan!) with kale, broccoli and mashed potatoes

Tuesday: Italian stuffed veal chop with julienned summer veggies

Wednesday: spinach and ricotta chicken with head lettuce salad

Thursday: artichoke and red pepper ravioli with vodka sauce

I go home this weekend again for my dad's birthday and Father's Day (how convenient that they're one after the other, right!) so will correct my camera settings and have lots of new posts coming up!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers

Yes, this is yet another Memorial Day weekend food post. Yes, my family does eat a lot, but hey, there were 10 of us! It's not that surprising, is it?

This past week I've been subsisting purely on leftovers. These stuffed peppers are probably my favorite leftover I've had. They take only a couple of minutes to reheat and taste just as good warmed up as cold, and just as good warmed or cold as they did the first time! 

I originally made these as a side for the night we had steak and shrimp. For once I have a side that doesn't involve tomatoes (see my last post if you don't understand why that's such an accomplishment!) For something that looks pretty, they were really really simple to put together. Although I (aka my dad) grilled the peppers, this would be just as easy to make during the winter by roasting the peppers first (or even charring if you have gas burners). 

This would work as either a side (as we had it) or even an entree for a vegetarian--it is very filling! As a warning, this is a MASSIVE recipe since I made it for 10 of us. 

Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers

5 red bell peppers, cut in half with seeds removed
2 cups of brown rice
2 tbsp olive oil
1 Japanese eggplant, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 shallots, minced
1/2 onion, minced
1 big ball of fresh mozzarella, sliced


1. Cook the brown rice according to package directions. Grill the peppers until soft, but still remain shape (as above, this can be done in an oven by roasting at 450F). Once cooked, cover with foil and set aside until the stuffing is complete.

2. Heat olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the garlic and shallots. Cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant. Add the minced onion and continue stirring. Once the onion sweats and becomes translucent, add the chopped eggplant and zucchini. Cook until soft.

3. Turn your oven onto broil.

4. Add the mixture to the brown rice and stir. Stuff the cooked red peppers with the mixture on a baking pan. 

5. Add the slices of mozzarella on top of the stuffed peppers. Place the baking pan in the oven and broil until the mozzarella melts. Serve and enjoy!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Easy Tomato-based Summer Sides

My family, like many others, focuses on the protein as the main dish for dinner. But sides are also important--they're what can turn a healthy meal unhealthy, or vice versa. As you can see in my posts, my family tends to eat very healthy year round, but it is especially true during the summer because we spend the weekends at my aunt's house on the Jersey shore. 

While some people call Jersey the "armpit of America", it is also known as the garden state--and for good reason, with such delicacies as jersey corn and jersey tomatoes. While most people's vision of New Jersey is the Newark airport and the drive into New York City, when you move away from the Turnpike and Parkway, there actually remain a ton of farms, growing vegetables and raising dairy cows. This means we have ton of fresh produce year round, and traditionally shop only at farmer's markets, where we can get the bounty directly from the people growing it. 

I highly recommend, if you have access, to do the same. I've written before about my beloved Fairway, but perhaps I haven't said enough about the Greenmarkets that pop up all around the city. I've also told you about my CSA, which goes a step further than farmer's markets and ensures that farms have the necessary support they need to continue their business.

So I'm going to share a couple of my favorite summer side dishes. They're quick, they're easy, and, of course, they're super healthy and focus on fresh produce--tomatoes in particular.

Summer Tomato Salad
A fast, simple and delicious salad that you can put together in a couple of minutes and is always a hit in my family. Simply chop up tomatoes and red onion, pick some fresh basil (my aunt lets me plant an herb garden each summer in the front of her house--when I pick the basil, the smell wafts over the porch and is apparently quite amazing in its fragrance), chop and add, and toss with a good olive oil and balsamic right before serving. That's it!

Caprese Salad
Another tomato-focused side. There is a market in Spring Lake Heights, called Drew's, which pulls mozzarella fresh every single morning. It is to die for. When you buy it, they tell you (multiple times) to keep it at room temperature. It is seriously AMAZING. You then slice up the mozzarella and alternate it with slices of tomato. This picture was taken a bit early, as I add fresh basil, drizzle olive oil over the slices and put some balsamic in the middle of the serving dish, as some people don't love balsamic. 

Unsurprisingly, my family adores grilling EVERYTHING during the summer. Our goal is to not turn on the oven--anything not on the grill should be microwaveable or, at the most, take a few minutes on the stove top. One of the most surprisingly delicious things to grill is fresh bread. We'll pick up a baguette from a market, slice it and put it on the grill with just a light brushing of olive oil. Sometimes we'll just serve that at dinner, but often we also make bruschetta to add on top. Think of this as the tomato salad in a blender--chopped tomatoes, minced red onion, basil, with the addition of minced garlic, tossed with olive oil and balsamic. Unlike the summer tomato salad, where you add the olive oil and balsamic right before serving, you should add it to the bruschetta mix about 15 minutes before serving so it can really soak in.

And now, our favorite summer side that, uniquely, does NOT include tomatoes...

Grilled Vegetables
Another easy recipe. All you do is buy some delicious vegetables (I usually buy red peppers, summer squash, zucchini, Italian eggplant, portobellos), and slice into thin pieces. Brush both sides with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stick them on the grill until tender and serve!