Grilled Eggplant with Tomatoes, Basil and Feta

Happy 2014! Many of us probably have eating healthier, or some variation, on our New Year’s resolutions list. We are very committed to the cause the first month or two, but things start to change a little towards the third month. Perhaps we just can’t quite make that spinning class, or we simply can’t bare the thought of eating another cold, boring salad. The reasons are endless. Let’s face it – eating healthy is much easier said than done. The trick, however, is to have a variety of easy, healthy and tasty recipes at hand.

That’s why this dish is one of my favorites! I first came across this recipe in a Living magazine. It’s such a nice mix of flavors that are light enough to serve as an app or side dish, but satisfying enough to serve as a main. Imagine Greek salad meets Caprese salad, all on top of a nice grilled slice of eggplant. It’s great to make on the outdoor grill in the summer, or on your stove top grill pan throughout the year. No grill pan? No problem. You can always use the good old frying pan!  Continue reading

Burrata and Tomato Salad

burrata tomato
Ladies and Gents, this is NOT your typical Caprese salad. Sure, who doesn’t love fresh mozzarella cheese sandwiched between sweet tomatoes and basil? But once you replace the mozzarella with fresh burrata cheese, you will never want to have Caprese salad any other way! Trust me.

Burrata is cheese made from mozzarella and cream. As you bite into burrata cheese, your initial reaction will be “oh, mozzarella.” But as you continue eating, your taste buds will get an unexpected burst of creamy goodness oozing out! This creamy goodness takes the Caprese salad to a whole new level.

Flavoring each layer of the salad is also very important, so that you get intense flavors with every bite. I like to sprinkle sea salt on the tomatoes because it’s not as salty as regular table salt, and it adds a nice crunchy texture to the dish. Freshly ground black pepper and good extra virgin olive oil are also a must.

My Burrata and Tomato Salad is the perfect dish to serve on a hot summer day. It takes no time to prepare and you and your guests will LOVE it!   Continue reading

Garlic Bread

garlic bread

Michael’s favorite side dish is garlic bread. I don’t know how a German ended up loving garlic bread so much, but I guess who wouldn’t find a warm and crunchy piece of baguette topped with garlic, melted butter and parsley irresistible?! The wonderful aroma that fills your kitchen will make the 8 minutes of baking time seem like an eternity! Just to make myself feel less guilty about eating bread and butter, I like to serve this with a big bowl of salad for dinner. 😉   Continue reading

Steamed Clams with Garlic Wine Sauce

I love steamed clams with a nice garlic wine sauce. Add a few crostinis to dip in the sauce and you have perfection. What most people don’t realize is how easy it is to make. I’m talking about less than 25 minutes for preparation and cooking time! The most important part is cleaning and scrubbing the clams. You don’t want any sand or sediments left on the shells because this will result in a sandy garlic wine sauce.

You can use almost any type of clam, it really is a matter of preference.  I prefer littleneck, middleneck, cherrystone, and mahogany clams. Try my recipe for your next dinner and your steamed clams will taste like they came from a fancy restaurant :).  Continue reading

Simple Green Salad with Parmesan Crostini

I love pairing a simple green salad with hearty, comfort food. That’s why this dish was a perfect side to my baked penne. It is so easy to make yet so refreshing and yummy. I was inspired to make a simple green salad after watching Rachael Ray make this shallot vinaigrette. It adds such a nice little kick to the arugula. And the crostini – who doesn’t love toasted bread with a little cheese on top?! The fresh thyme on the crostini makes a huge difference as well. A hint of lemon, citrus flavor to balance out the Parmesan cheese. I promise this will  become your go-to recipe for a quick and simple green salad!  Continue reading

Vietnamese Shrimp Summer Rolls (Gỏi Cuốn Tôm)

My favorite Vietnamese appetizer is gỏi cuốn tôm, approximately pronounced “goy coon tome,” otherwise known as shrimp summer rolls. I order them every time I go to a Vietnamese restaurant, and my mother makes them for me whenever I visit her. I don’t know what it is about these rolls, but I just can’t seem to get enough of them! Unlike Vietnamese spring rolls (which are pretty amazing too), summer rolls are not fried, making them a lighter and healthier option. To make the summer rolls, shrimp, rice vermicelli, lettuce, fresh mint, Thai basil and cilantro are rolled together in rice paper sheets. Traditionally, thin slices of pork loin are also included, but I prefer to use only shrimp in my recipe. I also make vegetarian summer rolls sometimes by simply using fried tofu instead of shrimp. Just cut the fried tofu into little matchsticks and add shredded carrots for more flavor and color. The peanut sauce for dipping is incredibly delicious. It is truly the perfect accompaniment to the summer rolls.

Although these rolls require a little more time than dishes I typically make, I promise the amazing flavors that explode in your mouth will be well worth it! Be sure to give my recipe a try one night when you have a bit more time on your hands :). Continue reading

Tomato, Cucumber, and Onion Salad

This fresh and light summer salad is dedicated to my friend, Peggy. Thanks to her CSA (community-shared-agriculture), I had about five cucumbers and six large tomatoes sitting in my refrigerator last week! Making a boring green salad would’ve been such a waste given the freshness of the cucumbers and tomatoes. Then I remembered watching an episode of 30 Minute Meals where Rachael Ray made this yummy looking salad. It was so quick and easy to make. I already had all the ingredients, but added a few spices to kick things up a bit. Even if you don’t like raw onions, please don’t omit them from the recipe. They lend such a nice flavor to the dish that it would be very bland and boring without them! Red onions are milder than yellow onions, and get even milder because of the vinegar in the salad. You can reduce the quantity of onions in the recipe if you’re still skeptical ;). Continue reading

Tomato and Basil Salad

I don’t think I need to mention again how much I LOVE tomatoes. I made this salad last night to serve with steak because I needed to use my Italian basil. We were away for vacation and the basil grew out of control! I whipped this salad together with just a few ingredients I already had in my kitchen. When tomatoes are this sweet in the summer, you don’t really need to add much to them. I used pearl tomatoes on the vine, but you could use any sweet tomato that is available in your store. Grape or heirloom tomatoes would be delicious as well. This salad could be served as an appetizer or side dish. It is so fresh and light – perfect for any summer meal! Continue reading

Bruschetta with Tomato and Basil

Michael LOVES plum tomatoes when they’re in season. Not only are they sweet and juicy, they also have less seeds than other kinds of tomatoes. We were at the market one afternoon and saw the freshest plum tomatoes ever – bright red, perfectly ripe, but still firm to the touch! I wasn’t really in the mood to have a hot meal for dinner because of this everlasting heat wave, but I didn’t want just a salad either. As a compromise, we decided to make bruschetta. Plus, we had plenty of fresh Italian basil in our herb garden!

I kept the ingredients in this recipe very simple to ensure that nothing overpowers the sweet tomatoes. You could, of course, use any kind of tomato if plum tomatoes aren’t available or to your liking. Pair these little bites with a bottle of cool, crisp white wine and you’re set! Continue reading

Strawberry Arugula Salad

Strawberry Arugula Sald

I was really inspired to make this salad after our trip to Panama. We stayed at a beautiful secluded beach resort, The Bristol Buenaventura, about two hours west of Panama City. We had an amazing time! The scenery, food, and service were truly exceptional.

On our first night, I surprised Michael by ordering the Strawberry Arugula Salad because I usually don’t like arugula. I always found it to be too bitter for my taste buds; however, I really wanted something cool and refreshing for dinner given the hot and humid weather. What a great call! The salad looked so pretty and appetizing with its bright and vibrant colors. More importantly, it was so good and refreshing! I loved the balance of sweet strawberries and savory blue cheese because it really brought out the spiciness of the arugula. Continue reading