Greek Pizza

This greek pizza is so full of flavor and gorgeous colored vegetables that if you close your eyes hard enough you might be able to imagine that you are eating this somewhere in the Mediterranean (wouldn't that be nice?). The "icing" on this pizza was topping it with fresh spinach half-way through cooking - what a great addition! When I make this pizza again I might add artichokes for even more flavor but this pizza is definitely tasty just the way it is.

You Will Need:
  • 2/3 cup red pepper, diced
  • 3/4 cup cherry tomatoes, diced
  • 1/3 cup black olives, sliced
  • 1/3 cup red onion, diced
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • handful of fresh baby spinach leaves
  • 1 ball pizza dough (white or wheat)
  • 1 1/4 cups pizza sauce
  • 1/2 bag of mozzarella cheese (12 oz bag)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil

Here We Go:
  • Preheat oven to 500 degrees F
  • Roll out dough to desired thickness using your hands or a rolling pin if you have one
  • Rub pizza stone with olive oil and place dough on pizza stone or baking sheet
  • Top dough with pizza sauce, cheeses and vegetables, except fresh spinach
  • Add fresh spinach half-way through cooking (after roughly 5-6 minutes)
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes on top rack, or until golden brown

Makes 8 Slices
Happy Feasting!


Pineapple Black Bean Salsa

Although summer is quickly coming to an end, at least we all have Labor day weekend to look forward to! Labor day weekend means good times with friends and family while munching on delicious food (well my Labor day weekend means this). This pineapple salsa is sure to be a crowd pleaser and is the perfect way to officially say goodbye to summer. Fresh pineapple, red onion, cilantro and black beans make this appetizer a true summer favorite.

Source: A Hint of Honey (Originally from The Nourishing Gourmet)

You Will Need:
  • 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 pineapple, cored, peeled, and diced
  • 1 large bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped (to taste)
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 limes, juiced
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Here We Go:
  • In a large bowl, toss to combine black beans, pineapple, onion, garlic, lime juice, and jalapeno
  • Stir in cilantro and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Refrigerate until ready to serve

Serves 8
Happy Feasting!


Bird's Nest for Brunch

I must admit that until I got married I had never had a bird's nest (I know, I know). My husband grew up having these tasty treats and I guess I was deprived. I had my first bird's nest last year and ever since I have been hooked. My parents came into town this weekend for my birthday and to see our two new pups (hank and polly)! We ate most of our meals at home because we wanted to spend time with the new puppies.
Liven up your Sunday brunch with these cute bird's nests. It is a great creative way to enjoy your fried egg with toast. Serve this with some fresh fruit and bacon and you've got yourself quite the tasty breakfast!

You Will Need:
  • 1 egg
  • 1 slice of bread
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • salt and pepper

Here We Go:
  • Crack the egg into a bowl and set the bowl aside
  • Use a 3-inch cookie cutter or the top to a jar to cut a shape out of the piece of bread
  • Melt the butter in a frying pan over medium heat
  • Place the bread in the pan and fry it lightly on one side
  • Flip the bread over and reduce the heat to low
  • Carefully crack the egg into the cut-out hole in the middle of the bread
  • Cover the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the egg has set in the bread "nest"
  • For an over-easy egg, flip the egg and bread and cook it on the other side
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Serves 1
Happy Feasting!


Quick Pasta Salad: Orzo with Cherry Tomatoes, Feta & Scallions

This pasta salad is so quick and easy! You can use another type of pasta if you want to, but orzo happened to be what I had in my pantry. This pasta salad is crisp and refreshing with bold Mediterranean flavors. It makes a great lunch on its own or pair it with dinner for a tasty side dish. You can also add black olives or pine nuts to this recipe for even more flavor.

You Will Need:
  • 1 cup uncooked orzo
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 cup feta, crumbled
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar

Here We Go:
  • Cook orzo according to package directions
  • Drain pasta and return to pan
  • Mix in cherry tomatoes, feta, scallions, salt, pepper, olive oil and red wine vinegar
  • Stir all ingredients together and chill in refrigerator for an hour or so before serving

Serves 4-6 as a Side
Happy Feasting!


M&M Cookies

What a weekend! Not only did we get our new yellow lab puppy this weekend, but I was also at a bachelorette party in Charleston, SC. Although I feel a little sleep deprived this morning, from staying up too late with girlfriends and a crying puppy last night, I thought I would share these M&M cookies with you this morning. No matter how tired you might have been this morning when you woke up, or how long your work week might seem ahead of you, these cookies are sure to put a smile on your face.

Source: The Joy of Baking

You Will Need:
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup granulated white sugar
  • 2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanillaextract
  • 1 cup M&M's® candies

Here We Go:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  • Place one oven rack in the top third of the oven, and one oven rack in the bottom third of the oven and line two baking sheets with parchment paper
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt
  • In another bowl, beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy (about 2 - 3 minutes) with wooden spoon or hand mixer
  • Add the egg and egg yolk, beating until well combined
  • Beat in the vanilla extract
  • Gradually add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture and beat just until incorporated
  • Gently fold M&M's® into the dough mixture
  • Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed
  • Form dough into balls, using tablespoon for each cookie
  • Bake the cookies for about 10 - 13 minutes, rotating the baking sheets halfway through the baking time
  • The cookies are done when they are light golden brown in color and just set
  • Remove from oven and let the cookies cool a few minutes on the baking sheet before transferring them to a wire rack to cool
Makes roughly 40 cookies
Happy Feasting!


Happy Hour Friday: Poliziano's Mandrone Di Lohsa

While my husband and I were on our European adventure this summer, we stopped in beautiful Montepulciano. We spent a day touring vineyards, having tastings and even shipping some of our favorite wines back to the Unites States. One of our favorite stops was at the Poliziano winery. We toured the wine cellars and the gorgeous grounds and while we were there fell in love with Poliziano's Madrone di Lohsa. They call this wine their barbeque wine and it is perfect for summer. It is smooth, fragrant and pairs well with chicken, beef, seafood or anything you might throw onto the grill. We only shipped back six bottles and I wish we had shipped many, many more!


Rows of Grapes at Poliziano
Happy Feasting!


Rigatoni with Sun-dried Tomato Pesto

I have already made a fresh basil pesto and an arugula pesto, but I thought that a sun-dried tomato pesto would be delicious, especially for summer! A little while back in my simple greek salad post, I talked about the amazing sun-dried tomato pesto that we ate with that meal. Well, as promised here is the recipe! This pesto is super easy and is such a great change from your regular basil pesto. This pesto could be used as a sandwich spread or served over chicken if you are not much of a pasta eater, although this pesto might make you one!

You Will Need:
  • 1 cup sun dried tomatoes in oil, drained
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 Tbsp pine nuts
  • 2 peeled garlic cloves
  • 3/4 cup olive oil

Here We Go:
  • Add first five ingredients to blender or food processor and blend until smooth
  • Add the olive oil and process until thick paste forms
  • Garnish with fresh basil and fresh parmesan, if desired

Happy Feasting!
This pesto also freezes very well so you can save the leftover pesto for later!


Twice Baked Potatoes and an Anniversary!

Yesterday was our one year anniversary! It is hard to believe that it has already been a year. I feel like we just moved to Charlottesville, when in actuality we are now living in Winston - Salem and are about to get two puppies in a matter of two weeks! Hank (yellow lab) and Polly (pug) will be seven and eight weeks respectively and we cannot wait for the sleepless nights and crate training that will soon follow :-)

Last night we cooked our anniversary dinner at home and had quite the feast. We decided to break open one of our prized Italian wines that we had shipped over while on our trip, and it was absolutely worth the wait. We had fillets on the grill , twice baked potatoes and salad. Surprisingly enough, our wedding cake was still in tact and actually not too shabby. I'm not saying it was the best cake that I have had, but I definitely finished my entire slice. These twice baked potatoes are amazingly easy, although a bit time consuming, but the flavor makes it completely worth it!

Source: The Girl Who Ate Everything

You Will Need:
  • 2 large baking potatoes
  • 2 slices bacon
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/8 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
  • 4 green onions, sliced, divided

Here We Go:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Bake potatoes in preheated oven for 1-1 1/2 hours depending on size of potato
  • You can microwave the potatoes instead because it is much faster (About three minutes per potato, and make sure to poke holes in the potatoes with a fork before microwaving so that they don't explode)
  • Meanwhile, place bacon in a large, deep skillet and cook over medium high heat until evenly brown
  • Drain, crumble and set aside
  • When potatoes are done allow them to cool for 10 minutes
  • Slice potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop the flesh into a large bowl leaving about 1/4 inch of flesh so the potato maintains it's shape; save skins.
  • To the potato flesh add sour cream, butter, salt, pepper, 1/3 cup cheese, 1/2 the green onions, and milk 
  •  Mix with a hand mixer or wooden spoon until well blended and creamy
  • Spoon the mixture into the potato skins
  • Top each with remaining cheese, green onions and bacon
  • Bake for another 15 minutes at 350 degrees

Serves 4
Happy Feasting!


Cream of Tomato Soup

I know what you are thinking. It is 90 plus degrees outside and I am making a hot soup! What the hell? Well, this recipe calls for fresh, ripe tomatoes and there is no better time than now to hit up your local famers markets or grocery stores before it is too late. This is a great soup that you can make on a lazy Sunday (because it does take about an hour) and freeze for later. It will be quite the pleasant suprise when you open your freezer this Fall and have this tasty, comforting soup to pair with an amazing grilled cheese.

Source: Barefoot Contessa

You Will Need:
  • 3 Tbsp good olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped red onions (2 onions)
  • 2 carrots, unpeeled and chopped
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic (3 cloves)
  • 4 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes, coarsely chopped (5 large)
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup packed chopped fresh basil leaves, plus julienned basil leaves, for garnish
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • Fresh basil, for serving

Here We Go:
  • Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat
  • Add the onions and carrots and saute for about 10 minutes, until very tender
  • Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute
  • Add the tomatoes, sugar, tomato paste, basil, chicken stock, salt, and pepper and stir well
  • Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 30 to 40 minutes, until the tomatoes are very tender
  • Add the cream to the soup and process it through a blender or food processor and empty contents back into pot
  • Reheat the soup over low heat just until hot and serve with julienned basil leaves

Serves 6
Happy Feasting!


Grilled Cobia with Mango Avocado Salsa

Last weekend my husband was on a bachelor party and they went fishing! He brought home massive amounts of cobia and after freezing as much as I could I took the remaining fish fliets and decided that grilling the fish would be the perfect way to break in our new shiny grill. The great thing about this recipe is that any other flakey white fish would work with this tangy salsa - halibut, tilapia or mahi mahi. The mango, cherry tomato, avocado and fresh basil create the most unique fresh summer flavor. If you don't have a grill, rest assured, you can absolutely cook the fish in the oven.

Source: bon appetit June 2011

You Will Need:
  • 1 medium ripe avocado, peeled and cut into 1/2" dice
  • 1 medium ripe mango, peeled and cut into 1/2" dice
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 4 large fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • 3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for brushing
  • 3 Tbsp fresh lime juice, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 6-ounce cobia fillets (or any other white flakey fish)
  • 4 lime wedges

Here We Go:

  • Prepare a grill to medium-high heat
  • Gently combine the avocado, mango, tomatoes, basil, 1 Tbsp oil, and 1 Tbsp lime juice in a large mixing bowl
  • Season salsa to taste with salt and pepper and set aside at room temperature, gently tossing occasionally
  • Place fish fillets in a 13x9x2" glass baking dish
  • Drizzle remaining 2 Tbsp oil and 2 Tbsp lime juice over and season fish with salt and pepper
  • Let marinate at room temperature for 10 minutes, turning fish occasionally
  • Brush grill rack with oil and grill fish until just opaque in center, about 5 minutes per side
  • Transfer to plates and spoon mango-avocado salsa over fish
  • Squeeze a lime wedge over each and serve

Serves 4
Happy Feasting!


Corn and Avocado Salad

I am loving all of the recipes in these summer food magazines. Real Simple's July magazine was full of three ingredient recipes and their tag-line was "Fast, Fresh, Delicious." Well, they were right! This corn and avocado salad was all the above. Serve it as a side with BBQ chicken or bratwursts. You can also serve it on top of a fresh grilled fish such as mahi mahi, talapia or halibut.

Source: Real Simple July 2011

You Will Need:
  • 3 ears of corn, cooked
  • 1 avocado, coarsely chopped
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt

Here We Go:
  • Using a sharp knife, cut the kernels off 3 ears of corn
  • In a medium bowl, toss with avocado, scallions, olive oil, salt and pepper

Serves 4
Happy Feasting!


Happy Hour Friday: Pineapple Vodka Cocktails

Photo Credit: Esther Ayers

Since the entire country is practically melting from the rising temperatures, I think that we all should take a minute and cool down with this delicious, refreshing pineapple vodka cocktail. I cannot take credit for this drink as they are a favorite of my brother and his girlfriend (thank you Johnny and Esther)! The only thing problematic about this drink is that it is so tasty you might forget that you are even drinking alcohol...pace yourself!

You Will Need:
  • 2 oz Vodka
  • 1 1/2 oz Pineapple juice
  • 1/2 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
  • Slice of fresh pineapple for garnish

Here We Go:
  • Mix vodka, pineapple juice and lime juice together
  • Garnish with slice of fresh pineapple

Serves 1
Happy Feasting!


Indonesian Pork Tenderloiin

We are all busy and one of the last things that most people want to do when they get home from work is to spend hours in the kitchen cooking dinner. I adore this recipe because it is so simple and flavorful, yet tastes like you must have been slaving away for hours. The longest part of this dish is cooking time and while the tenderloin is in the oven you can have a glass of wine and relax. I know that you are looking at the ingredient list asking yourself how all of these flavors work but trust me they do. Serve this with honey roasted sweet potatoes and baked parmesan zucchini and squash for a complete meal!

Source: Kitchen Confidante

You Will Need:
  • 1 1-lb pork tenderloin
  • 2 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Vegetable cooking spray
  • 1/4 cup mango chutney

Here We Go:
  • Preheat oven to 375°F
  • Trim fat from tenderloin
  • Combine soy sauce, peanut butter, red pepper flakes and garlic, stirring well
  • Spread mixture over tenderloin and place on a rack in a roasting pan or baking sheet coated with cooking spray
  • Insert meat thermometer into thickest part of tenderloin, if desired
  • Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes
  • Brush tenderloin with mango chutney and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until meat thermometer registers 160°F, basting often with chutney
  • Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes before slicing

Happy Feasting!


Summer Veggie Pizza

This summer pizza is packed  full of tasty veggies and the addition of feta gives it a nice little punch with every bite. Local farmers' markets are packed full of gorgeous summer vegetables right now so go out and get them and give yourself the opportunity to use them with this easy recipe. This pizza is a wonderful change from the traditional pepperoni or sausage pizza that is a little lighter on the waistline but you are still getting that great pizza flavor!

You Will Need:
  • 1 ball pizza dough (white or wheat)
  • 1 1/4 cups pizza sauce
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 bag of mozzarella cheese (12 oz bag)
  • 1/2 cup sweet onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup red pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup green pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup yellow or white corn kernels
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup zucchini, diced
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil

Here We Go:
  • Preheat oven to 500 degrees F
  • Roll out dough to desired thickness using your hands or a rolling pin if you have one
  • Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in small skillet and saute veggies until soft, roughly 5-7 minutes 
  • Rub pizza stone with remaining Tbsp of olive oil and place dough on pizza stone or baking sheet
  • Top dough with pizza sauce, cheeses and sauteed vegetables
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes on top rack, or until golden brown

Makes 8 Slices
Happy Feasting!