Lemon Garlic Green Beans

lemon garlic green beans
I’m turning up the flavor on a classic side dish with this easy recipe! The fresh lemon zest and juice add such a nice citrus brightness to the dish, while just a pinch of red pepper flakes gives a kick to your taste buds. You can use green beans or haricot vert (French green beans) for this dish. I prefer the latter because they are more tender and have a slightly more complex flavor. Either way, this would be a great side dish to serve with roasted chicken, grilled steak or fish. You can also cut down on preparation time by getting ready-to-use packages (washed and trimmed). Enjoy! Continue reading

Roasted Butternut Squash

roasted butternut squash
Despite the fact that it’s a well known ‘power food,’ I used to always avoid cooking with butternut squash. It’s not that I didn’t love the nutty, creamy or slightly sweet taste, I just didn’t want to deal with carrying the heavy squash home, or wrestling with it on my cutting board. Nowadays, however, cooking with butternut squash has become extremely easy with the convenient pre-cut packages! With my simple recipe, just unwrap and toss onto a baking sheet with three other ingredients. It’s really THAT simple. Continue reading

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

Honey Corn Muffins

honey corn muffins

I LOVE cornbread with just about anything. I could eat it for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The best is when it’s fresh out of the oven – still warm enough so the butter melts as you’re spreading it on. I used to buy those little Jiffy boxes from the grocery store to make a quick batch of corn muffins. But after discovering this delicious and easy recipe from the Neely’s, I will no longer have to buy those boxes again! I had no idea how easy it was to make cornbread from scratch. What I love most about this recipe, however, is the addition of honey. It gives the corn muffins a slightly sweet taste, which I think goes very well with butter. These muffins should keep for two to three days if kept in an airtight container, but I doubt you’ll have many leftover! 😉 Continue reading

Black Bean, Corn and Tomato Salad

black bean corn tomato salad
This bean, corn and tomato salad has become one of my favorite side dishes to serve because it is such a great complement to many dishes and is so incredibly fast and easy to prepare! I’ve served it with eggs for a Southwest inspired breakfast, steak fajitas for a Mexican inspired dinner, or as a simple and healthy salad for lunch. The black beans add tons of nutrients and fiber to your daily diet. Since the spices and fresh lime juice add a burst of flavor to the salad, you won’t miss the fact that there is very little oil in the dressing. The hot sauce (optional) also adds a nice kick to the dish. The salad also makes for a fabulous presentation on any dinner table with all its vibrant colors!  Continue reading

Easy Sweet Potato Casserole

Looking for an EASY and YUMMY side dish to make for Thanksgiving this year? Well, this sweet potato casserole is a must! This recipe belongs to my Aunt Kim and is THE best sweet potato dish I’ve ever had. I think I have to go there and say that it’s even better than candied yams. :)

I first tried this dish a few years ago at my aunt’s Thanksgiving dinner. I don’t know how she does it, but my aunt has been cooking up an amazing Thanksgiving dinner for our family (40+ people) every year for the last 15 years or so. It’s a tradition that I cherish and look forward to every year because it’s one of the few times I get to see my entire family in one place.

Be sure to give my aunt’s recipe a try this Thanksgiving or Christmas. I promise that your guests will LOVE it! And they won’t even know how easy it was to make ;).  Continue reading

Easy Pumpkin Mac & Cheese

An oldie but a goodie! Perfect for dinner this fall.

Who doesn’t love macaroni and cheese, especially when it’s home-made? I’ve tried many mac and cheese recipes in the past and have found a few that are amazing; however, they do take some time to prepare and bake. That’s why this easy pumpkin mac and cheese is my new favorite recipe! Not only does it have healthy nutrients from the pumpkin, but it’s so quick and easy to make. Plus, the pumpkin puree adds a rich creaminess to the dish so you don’t have to use that much cheese, which means less calories!

I was inspired to make this dish one night while watching Rachael Ray make a mac and cheese using butternut squash. My mouth was literally watering while watching the show. Needless to say, I wanted to make mac and cheese for dinner, but I didn’t have any butternut squash. The only thing I did have was canned pumpkin puree. So, I decided to wing it and make the dish using pumpkin puree and a few other substitute ingredients. I also kicked up the spiciness of the dish by adding red pepper flakes. The result? An awesome pumpkin mac and cheese!  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