Tag Archives: tomatoes

Coconut Garlic Shrimp, Asparagus & Tomato Pasta

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Well it’s been a long week since Hurricane Irma slammed into Florida & the Caribbean and things are slowly, finally settling back to some kind of normalcy. This includes making a new dish for dinner. After replacing 75% of the contents of my freezer and refrigerator because of no power I can say with a smile, I’m back! I’ve been wanting to make this recipe for quite some time. The original recipe that I adapted this from (Garlic Shrimp in Coconut Milk, Tomatoes and Cilantro) is from Gina Homolka at Skinnytaste. Please check her recipe out as well.

The original recipe from Gina was more of a stew and could be served over rice. I added more garlic and served it over pasta instead. I also added asparagus since I had some in the fridge that had to be used or I would lose it. I may try it with peas instead next time or possibly broccoli! And for those of you who know me, know I really do NOT like peppers (green, red, yellow….) jalapeno yes, but sweet peppers no. This recipe has red peppers in it and I can barely taste them. I did use the small rainbow peppers (the red ones) and they aren’t as strong-tasting so that’s probably why I liked them.

So how did the recipe turn out? Let’s just say, my husband and I could not stop eating it! It was incredible! I can’t wait to have it as leftovers again! It’s a very easy recipe to make and I will be making it again for sure. The only thing I might do next time is add another can of the coconut milk so it has more sauce for the pasta. Other than that it’s a home run! It’s not a heavy meal, the sauce is light, yet it is a very filling dish. Hope you enjoy it!

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INGREDIENTS:

1 1/4 lb uncooked peeled and deveined jumbo shrimp (I used (2) 12oz. bags of frozen shrimp from Aldi)

1 tsp olive oil

1 pound of asparagus sliced into small pieces

1 pound cooked pasta of your choice

1 small red pepper or 4 large red peppers from a bag of mini rainbow peppers, diced

4 scallions, thinly sliced, separating the whites and greens

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (I used about 1 tablespoon of dried since I didn’t have fresh)

6-8 cloves minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 can (14.5oz) diced tomatoes of choice

1 can (13-14oz) light coconut milk. (I used Trader Joe’s organic reduced fat coconut milk)

1/2 of a lime juiced

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a medium saucepan heat the olive oil and sauté the red pepper until soft, about 4 minutes.
  2. Add the white parts of the scallions, ¼ cup of the fresh cilantro (or the 1 tbsp of dried), the garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook for about a minute or so until well blended.
  3. Add the tomatoes, coconut milk and ¼ tsp of salt. Stir well and bring to a boil. Once it boils, cover the pot and simmer for about 10-15 minutes until the sauce thickens a bit.
  4. Meanwhile cook the pasta to just al-dente, drain and put back into the pot.
  5. Add the chopped asparagus to the tomato coconut milk mixture and cook for 1-2 minutes until it begins to soften a little.
  6. Add the shrimp to the same mixture and cook for about 5-6 minutes until the shrimp is opaque. Add the lime juice.
  7. Pour all of the shrimp mixture into the pot with the pasta and mix well. Let it simmer for just a minute or so to get everything mixed.
  8. Serve. Top with the green part of the scallions and rest of fresh cilantro if using fresh. We also like to add a little parmesan cheese on top as well.

Serves 4-6

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Summer Couscous Salad

I made this salad again for the July 4th holiday and thought it would be good to repost! Once again it was a hit! Quick, easy, refreshing and delicious!!

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It’s been a while but here is a new recipe. I made this dish yesterday to bring to a friend’s for a barbecue. She said to bring a side. Turns out she made almost the same exact salad! Very funny, but they had a few different ingredients so it was cool. (Hers had chopped red pepper, and everyone who knows me knows I would NEVER put sweet peppers in anything!)She also didn’t have the carrots or tomatoes.

I just threw this together quickly and it can totally be changed to what you like. It’s your choice!

This was a very fast and easy salad to make. It’s a nice change from the usual heavy ‘pasta’ type salads. Mostly veggies also so how can it be bad? Enjoy.

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INGREDIENTS:

1 ½ cups pearl couscous (cooked according to package directions) I also used chicken broth instead of water

1 can corn kernel, drained and rinsed

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

¼-½ of an english cucumber chopped small (If you use a regular cucumber, remove the seeds and peel)

1 stalk celery sliced/chopped

1 carrot grated or chopped

cherry tomatoes/halved (I used about 20 or so)

¼ cup red onion, finely chopped

1 teaspoon dried dill

½- 1 teaspoon garlic powder (approximately)

olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Put all ingredients in a large bowl (except for olive oil). Mix thoroughly. Then slowly add some olive oil to make it smooth and silky. I think I used a couple of tablespoons. 

Chill several hours and serve.

Mary’s Famous Mexican Dip

Yes I know I have been quite negligent with my blog lately! I am so sorry everyone. I made a promise to myself this morning to do better and I will!

Today’s recipe I have tried to get for years! Everytime I visit my sister Michele in NJ for any type of party she always has this dip. Her mother-in-law Mary makes it and showed Michele and everyone falls in love with it! Even the kids! So on a recent trip there, Mary happened to be in attendance as well and the dip was on the menu. So with camera and notebook in hand I got it! FINALLY! It’s a type of layered dip that you serve on a platter. Serve it with tortilla chips. I would recommend using stronger chips as well because this dip has so many yummy things you don’t want to lose anything because of a broken chip! We’ve all been there, digging in to a great dip and snap! Broken chip. You try again. Snap again! Another broken chip. So find your best thicker/stronger chips for this recipe.  I am also playing with an idea to make this as an Italian dip as well. I’ll post that when I work it out! So for now, here’s everyone’s newest favorite party snack! Thanks Mary!! (Now I want to go and make some to snack on!)

Mary preparing the famous dip!

Ingredients:

1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese (you can use light cream cheese if you wish)

1  jar (16oz.) of your favorite salsa

Shredded lettuce, about 2 cups

Shredded cheddar cheese, about 8 ounces

3-4 campari or plum tomatoes, chopped (Or you can use 1-2 large)

3-4 scallions, chopped (use whole scallion)

¼ cup jalapeño slices

1 small can sliced black olives (You can use green if you don’t like black)

So pretty!

Directions:

  1. On a large platter spread cream cheese to cover bottom.
  2. Spread salsa over the cream cheese.
  3. Add shredded lettuce on top of the salsa.
  4. Add the shredded cheddar evenly over the salsa.
  5. Top with the chopped tomatoes.
  6. Add scallions.
  7. Add jalapeño slices.
  8. Top with black olives.

Serve with sturdy chips!! Eat some before it disappears!

It's going fast!

Layered Greek Dip

This is such an easy and quick dip to throw together. There are only 5 ingredients! Nice! I love Greek food and we don’t get to go out for it too often. Probably because where I live in south Florida there are very few good Greek restaurants. We did find a great one in St. Augustine called Athena’s. But I’m not driving over 3 hours for Greek food! Anyway this is just a snack food anyway but it’s healthy too.

This is best in a round nine-inch pie plate but if you don’t have one, just use something else. A long oval dish is fine also. You want something that has sides so everything stays where it should.

Photo is for illustrative purposes only

INGREDIENTS:

7 ounces prepared hummus (any brand you like)

4 ounces crumbled light Feta cheese (use regular if you are not watching calories)

½ cup chopped tomatoes

¼ cup chopped cucumbers (best to use the English ones and leave the skin on)

2 tablespoons chopped Kalamata olives

oregano

DIRECTIONS:

1. Spread the hummus onto bottom of a 9″ pie plate or other serving dish.

2. Cover with feta cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers and olives.

3. Sprinkle with a little oregano if you wish.

4. Serve with baked pita chips!

Guacamole Kicked Up a Notch

Yes I know I’ve already done guacamole. But I had three very ripe avocados in the fridge that I thought were history. I figured I’d better check them out before I tossed them. I cut them open and surprise! They were still ok! A few little blemishes here and there but otherwise fine and dandy! So I made guacamole. But as I was making it I had the idea to make it a little different. I looked around in the fridge and came across two ingredients I would never have thought to put in guacamole. Fat-free plain Greek yogurt and gorgonzola cheese! Weird? Not so much! I had about ½ cup of yogurt so I put it in my little food chopper and added a large handful of crumbled gorgonzola cheese. It was about 1/3 cup or so. I processed it till it was pretty creamy and added it to the guacamole. The color of the guacamole got a little lighter but I tasted it and it was good! I let it sit for a few more hours and it was even better! Who would have thought! We will be eating it for the next few days on everything! There is quite a lot of it. The guacamole recipe is from my recipe that I posted back in June. Just click on the link to get the recipe and just add the yogurt and gorgonzola cheese and you are set! I am sure it would probably be good with blue cheese as well!

So as you can see today’s post does not have an exact recipe. Just click on over to my other one for the rest.

Delicious Creole Gumbo

On May 4, 2009 the world became a lot less funny. Comedic genius and actor Dom DeLuise passed away at the age of 75. I don’t know of anyone who can’t name at least one favorite Dom  DeLuise movie. One of my faves is “Fatso”. The food in this movie was incredible and you got hungry just watching it. Especially the scene with the huge pot of sauce and meatballs. He dunks a little Italian bread into to taste it and it’s all down hill from there. Funny. He was one of my favorite actors and you always smiled when you watched him. Smiled or laughed hysterically.

Dom was not a skinny man by any means but over the years he realized he had to do something. I bought his first cookbook “Eat This…It’ll Make You Feel Better!” back in 1988. It was full of funny and wonderful stories of his family and friends. It was and still is an awesome cookbook. When I got married my father wouldn’t let me leave the house with the copy I had so I had to go and buy another one to take with me! The book is full of his mother’s Italian home cooking as well as recipes from his family and friends. It’s actually my “go to” Italian cookbook.  As the years went on and Dom got larger and larger he decided to start eating better and came out with a second book in 1997. Another hit. This one is called “Eat This Too!”. It’s a low-fat cookbook of all his favorites along with more pics and stories of his family and friends. I will never part with either cookbook. All of the recipes are delicious.

Dom & Julia on Good Morning America in 1984

Today’s recipe is from “Eat This Too!” Gumbo can be very fattening but his version is loaded with vegetables and a seafood. Serve it over brown rice instead of the usual white rice.  Don’t be afraid of the long list of ingredients either. It’s not too scary, really! It will take longer to cut up and prep all of the veggies (where’s that private sous chef when you need one?) than to cook so be brave! You won’t be disappointed!

INGREDIENTS:

2 pounds shrimp/scallops, lobster, or other seafood, shelled, cleaned

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 carrot, sliced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 28-oz can tomatoes

1 6-oz can tomato paste

1 red pepper and 1 green pepper, coarsely chopped

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon parsley

1 teaspoon paprika

10 mushrooms, sliced

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon thyme

½ teaspoon Tabasco sauce

12 fresh okra, sliced

2 zucchini, sliced

1 stalk celery, chopped

3 tablespoons flour mixed with ½ cup cold water

DIRECTIONS:

1. In a large pot sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil, until golden brown. Add the remaining ingredients except the seafood.

2. Cook over medium-low heat until flavors intermingle, about 30 minutes. Add the shrimp/scallops or other seafood. Cook just a few minutes until seafood is just done. Serve while still tender.

Serves 8-12

Italian Sauces (Part 1)

When most people think of Italian sauces they usually think of the tomato sauce, marinara sauce, alfredo sauce and probably white clam sauce. But there are so many more sauces out there  that are all wonderful in their own way. Growing up in my house my mother used to serve us a quick spaghetti meal we called Aiole. It was a basic olive oil and garlic sauce. Simple and fast and it was delicious. I am going to go through most of the basic sauces out there and hopefully put in some pictures so you know what they look like. I will have the second half of them next week so keep an eye open for them!

ALFREDO: Alfredo sauce is rich with heavy cream, butter, and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. It is best known when used with fettuccine. Love the sauce, hate the fat and calories! A luxury I must have every so often. You don’t have to limit it to fettuccine either, use it on any kind of pasta you want. Usually the heavier pastas do best. Throw some chicken or shrimp in there as well and it gets even better!

Fettuccine Alfredo

AGLIO E OLIO: This is a traditional Italian sauce (it’s what we called Aiole) that can be made on a budget. This is probably why we had it so often. It is said to have originated in the isolated region of Abruzzo but it is popular everywhere in Italy. It is usually served with spaghetti (that’s how we had it) and the sauce is made by lightly sautéing minced or pressed garlic in olive oil, sometimes adding dried red pepper flakes. You can also add finely chopped fresh parsley and parmesan cheese.

Aglio e Olio

ARRABBIATA: Arrabbiata is Italian for “angry”. This is a zesty tomato based sauce that gets its heat from chili peppers. It is basically a Roman sauce of garlic, tomatoes, and red chili peppers cooked in olive oil. Basil is used sometimes though most chefs in Italy don’t use it. This dish is usually served with pasta and chopped fresh parsley sprinkled on top.

Spaghetti Arrabbiata

BOLOGNESE: Bolognese sauce is a robust meat sauce also known as ragù (no not the jar sauce!). It is a hearty sauce with ground beef or pork, pancetta, tomatoes, onions, garlic, carrots and celery. The sauce is sometimes enhanced by adding a little bit of wine, cream and seasoning. This sauce originated in Bologna, Italy where the natives traditionally serve it with freshly made tagliatelle and their traditionally green lasagna. Spaghetti alla Bolognese is a form that is popular outside of Italy which consists of a meat sauce served on a bed of spaghetti with a good sprinkling of grated Parmigiano cheese. What is really funny about this version is that it never really existed in Bologna, where the sauce is always served with tagliatelle or lasagna (egg pastas). Spaghetti is a durum wheat pasta from Naples.

Spaghetti Bolognese

CARBONARA: Carbonara is another popular sauce that is usually made with eggs, cream, Parmesan cheese and bits of bacon. Many times this sauce also has green peas in it as well. Usually served with spaghetti it is also used on fettuccine, rigatoni or bucatini. Recipes vary but all agree that cheese, eggs, cured fatty pork (pancetta) and black pepper are basic. Origins of this dish are obscure and it has many legends about it. It was created in the middle of the 20th century so it’s not that old as far as sauces go.

Spaghetti alla Carbonara

CLAM SAUCE: The most popular clam sauce is the white version. Usually served with linguine this popular sauce has minced clams, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and parsley. There is also a thin tomato sauce with minced clams. You don’t usually see this recipe on menus much. Some versions use whole clams and hot pepper flakes.

Linguine with Clam Sauce

GENOVESE/PESTO: I don’t think I’ve ever really heard of a Genovese sauce before. Most of us know this sauce as Pesto. The name means it originates from Genoa (imagine that!), which is a coastal city in NW Italy. Genovese/Pesto sauce is an uncooked sauce traditionally made of fresh basil, garlic, Parmesan cheese, pine nuts and olive oil. It didn’t really become popular in North America until the 1980s and 1990s.

Fettuccine with Pesto Sauce

GREMOLATA: Ok here is another sauce I never heard of anywhere. It is more of a chopped herb condiment. It’s typically made of garlic, parsley, and lemon zest. Traditionally it’s used as an accompaniment to the Italian classic Osso Buco (braised veal shank). The citrus element in this actually makes it a great addition to seafood dishes as well!

Gremolata Sauce

MARINARA: This is the classic Italian tomato sauce. It’s seasoned with onions, garlic and oregano, and basil. It’s a favorite on pasta, pizza and meats. This is another sauce that has many variations. Some of them even call for adding capers, olives and spices. Italians refer to marinara only in association with other recipes. Spaghetti alla marinara literally translates to mariner’s spaghetti. However, tomato sauce is called salsa al pomodoro which includes marinara sauce as well as other tomato-based sauce. Marinara sauce was invented by cooks aboard Neapolitan ships in the mid-1500s after the Spaniards introduced the tomato (a New World vegetable) to Europe! This is a very easy sauce to make and it resists spoiling due to the high acid content of the tomatoes. This is why it was ideal for lengthy sea voyages hundreds of years before we had refrigeration! This sauce is great on so many pastas as well as chicken, pork, veal, fish, you name it!

Ravioli Marinara

MORE SAUCES NEXT SUNDAY!!

No-Cook Tomato Sauce

With the weather being so warm it’s always great to find recipes that involve minimal cooking. Homemade tomato sauce for your pasta is always better than jarred but who has time to spend making it. This recipe is simple and the only cooking involved is cooking your choice of pasta! It’s a fresh sauce without the fuss. This is great also if you have your own garden and have an over-abundance of tomatoes to use! Put them to good use and have a quick pasta dinner tonight!

INGREDIENTS:

6 large fresh tomatoes

2 cloves garlic, chopped

3 tablespoons EVOO (Extra-Virgin Olive Oil)

1/3 cup chopped fresh basil

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Coarsely ground black pepper


DIRECTIONS:

1. Chop tomatoes and place in a bowl. Add the garlic, EVOO, basil, salt and pepper. Toss gently.

2. Cover with plastic wrap or lid and let stand at room temperature for 2-4 hours.

3. Serve with your favorite spaghetti or pasta

Serves 6

Lobster Creole (Puerto Rican Style)

Lobster Creole is not usually thought of as a spanish dish. But it can be. By adding green peppers and tomato sauce it becomes a distinctly different taste sensation all together! And having a Puerto Rican background (Yes, I am only half Italian) this recipe is a nice treat when we can splurge and have lobster! This dish incorporates rice in the recipe and usually Puerto Rican dishes use white rice but feel free to use brown rice if you wish. In Spanish Lobster Creole translates to “Langosta a la Criolla”. This dish is a hearty delicious seafood entrée which can be served with sautéed asparagus, a nice salad and maybe a pineapple sherbet for dessert. If you like add a couple of slices of ripe avocado to garnish the dish.

Photo For Illustrative Purposes Only

INGREDIENTS:

2 onions, chopped

2 green peppers, chopped

2 cans (8 oz. each) tomato sauce

2 garlic cloves, minced

½ cup olive oil

1½ teaspoons salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

2 tomatoes, peeled and quartered

½ cup dry white wine

2 pounds lobster meat, chopped in bite size pieces

3 cups hot cooked rice

avocado slices and pickled red peppers for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

1. Saute onions, green peppers and garlic in oil in a large saucepan until tender.

2. Add the salt, pepper and tomatoes. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Add tomato sauce, wine and lobster meat. Simmer for 15 minutes.

4. Serve over cooked rice. Garnish with avocado and peppers if desired.

Makes about 6 servings

The Italian Kitchen (Part 3)

Today’s post is all about what should be in an Italian Pantry.  By stocking your kitchen with a few basic ingredients you’ll be ready to prepare most Italian and Tuscan recipes. Our supermarkets are much better at carrying the ingredients than they used to be. But if there’s still something you can’t find, there’s always the “pork store.” You know the place, it always smells so good when you walk by. Basically any Italian specialty store will have anything you need. Remember, using high-quality ingredients at the best price you can get them at is crucial. The better the olive oil, tomatoes and cheese, the better the simple dishes will taste!

This list is just a basic list of what is found in most good Italian kitchens.

Olive Oil: An essential in Italian cooking. Stick with extra-virgin olive oil for most recipes.

Dried Pasta: Use pasta imported from Italy such as Barilla and DeCecco. For the most part any imported pasta products made from semolina flour are good choices. For egg pasta, stay away from the so-called “fresh” pasta sold in refrigerated cases. They aren’t so “fresh” as they would have you believe. Either use homemade or buy the dried noodles packaged in nests.

Tomatoes: When fresh, ripe tomatoes are not available, use good canned tomatoes (unless recipe specifically calls for fresh). Choose whole, peeled tomatoes rather than chopped or crushed. Imported Italian San Marzano tomatoes are the best if you can find them.

Onions and Garlic: Generally, white or yellow onions for cooking and red onions for salads and dishes that do not need cooking because they are milder. Garlic should not be an overwhelming presence.

Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese: Expensive but worth it. Excellent grating cheese as well as a table cheese. Drizzle a little balsamic vinegar and olive oil over it and have it with some crusty Italian bread.

Cheeses: Cheeses are very important for Italian dishes. The basics like Parmigiano-Reggiano, Pecorino Romano, mozzarella, ricotta, and provolone are a good choice to have around.

Legumes (beans): Dried cannelini beans, lentils and ceci (Garbanzo/chick peas) are always good to have on hand. Canned beans work just as well especially if you’re in a rush.

Cornmeal: Use a medium textured cornmeal for polenta. Keep it in a tightly closed container and it will last for months. It’s also good for dusting the pan when making pizza.

Rice: Arborio is the most common in making risotto but others are used as well.

Balsamic Vinegar: There are many different balsamic vinegars. Depending on its age, it can be very expensive. You can use the inexpensive  one for salads as long as the quality is good.

Anchovies: (I love these salty little buggers!)It’s good to keep a jar of these in the fridge to add a special zip to certain dishes. You can also find anchovy paste in a tube, which is milder in taste and very convenient to have. (I use the tube)

Dried Porcini Mushrooms: Look for packages that have slices of whole mushrooms. They can be a little expensive but a little goes a long way. Keep it in an airtight container and they’ll keep for a long time. If you rehydrate them, keep the water, strain it and use it to add some flavor and depth to soups, sauces and stews.

Capers: (My husband’s favorite) You can find two kinds of capers. The smaller ones that are pickled in vinegar, and the larger ones that come packed in salt. The larger ones are very flavorful and need rinsing of the salt before using. They are also harder to find. A few chopped capers can add a nice flavor addition to dishes that seem to need just a little something.

Olives: Both black and green varieties are good. If they are packed in brine and imported from Italy, even better. We like the stuffed ones. Stuffed with bleu cheese, anchovies, garlic, peppers…

Herbs and Seasonings: For the most part fresh herbs are preferred in everyday cooking, but this is hard to do and they are generally more expensive and can go bad quickly if not used. So always keep on hand dried herbs and seasonings. Keep dried oregano, rosemary, thyme, and sage. I also always keep garlic powder on hand. Whole black pepper to be ground at the moment of use, sea salt and red pepper flakes are also important to have in your pantry.

Flour: All-purpose flour is good to use for making pasta and pizza dough. Bread flour for cakes and semolina flour for pasta is also very useful.


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