Tomato, Basil and Mayonnaise on Olive Oil Grilled Whole Wheat!

I remember growing up in my European immigrant family with great food.

Some from Italy and some from Eastern Europe but all of it driven by the freshest ingredients and much of it, meatless.

My grandmas and aunts always had their own gardens and were “putting up” or canning something at any given time.

For me summertime always means tomato and mayonnaise sandwiches.

These were not gourmet growing up.

They were just any bread with mayo, fresh tomato and “crunchy” salt on top.

I spruced these up a little by grilling artisan whole grain bread with olive oil to give crunch and texture to the bread and I’ve also added big fleshy leaves of basil for that peppery edge that basil can give.

Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise is my favorite with this sandwich.

Even a few slices of avocado would be delish!

Get creative and keep it meatless. The possibilities are endless for a tasty, light and nutritious meal that says, “Summertime” in every bight!

Super Food Kaniwa with Corn, Beans, Red Pepper, Green Onion, Avocado and Lime Juice!

Kaniwa from Roland Products, pronounced “Ka-nyi-wa”, is a staple grain of the ancient Aztec and Incan cultures whhich has been cultivated for thousands of years throughout South America.

The crunchy, earthy grain is loaded with protein and makes a complete meal when mixed with vegetables.

Kaniwa Plant

Roland Foods offers a wide variety of specialty foods from around the globe and was kind enough to send me this box of Kaniwa to try at home.

I have cooked with Quinoa in the past and I love it.

Kaniwa is similar to quinoa but seems to feel hardier and denser.

I gathered all the vegetables I could find and chopped them to equal size.

1 package of Grape tomatoes cut in half, 7 green onions, 1/2 of a red onion, 1 can of pinto beans, 2 cups of corn, 1 red pepper, 1/2 of a English cucumber, 1 bunch of cilantro,the juice of 3 limes, 1/4 cup of olive oil and salt to taste.

I garnished with avocado.

I put all of the chopped vegetables in a bowl, cooked the 12 oz. box ( about 2 cups ) of Kaniwa and added to the veggies.

I added it hot to the vegetables to bring them to peak flavor.

I find that adding hot grains to the veggies gives off just enough heat to liven the flavors.

I mixed everything then added the olive oil and the lime juice.

Serve and garnish with half an avocado.

Add salt to taste.

This was fantastic.

Everyone loved this vegan, protein rich meal which could also be great as a side dish with grilled salmon.

Spinach Fettuccine with Mushrooms and Basil Pesto!

015spinach fettucine with mushrooms and parmesan cheese

Spinach fettuccine with sauteed baby portobello mushrooms, pesto and shaved parmesan makes a great meatless, filling and nutritious meal.

012salad

Along with this beautiful salad of fresh yellow peppers and avocados our vegetarian meal satisfies everyone.

Annie’s Green Goddess dressing makes this salad heaven!

007green goddess dressing

Boil spinach fettuccine, al dente.

008spinach fettucine

Sautee the mushrooms with olive oil and garlic slices.

002mushrooms

And mix in your favorites. I love basil pesto which I make myself.

I make it vegan and fresh!

026spinach and mushroom fettucine

Shaved parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil make this fantastic!

Grilled Ciabatta with Veggies, Avocado and Fresh Mozzarella Quite Possibly the Best Sandwich Ever!

sandwich

It all starts with the bread.

With bread this amazing you really can’t make a bad sandwich.

032grilled cibatta bread

Ciabatta sliced in half and drizzeled with olive oil is placed under the broiler until golden.

009frozen veggies

I opened up a bag of frozen veggies and sauteed until soft.

020srirancha

The secret sauce makes this fantastic!

021mayo

We discovered this at our favorite restaurant in town and the waitress was gracious enough to share the recipe with us!

017spicy mayo

And now we eat it on everything!

024avocado

Avocado makes this creamy and delicious

028ciabatta bread

The ciabatta bread is mana from heaven!

029ciabatta bread

Toast it just right with lots of good olive oil.

Add some balsamic vinegar.

034fresh mozz slices

I loaded this sandwich with fresh mozzarella….

040veggies on sandwich

Lots of veggies…..

048sandwich

The secret sauce…..

051sandwich with sauce

And lots of love!

054one big sandwich

Enjoy!

Dinner with Michelle Bernstein at Sra. Martinez in Miami!

090sra. Martinez

Michelle Bernstein chef/owner of Sra. Martinez and Michy’s in Miami was kind enough to spend some time with us at Sra. Martinez.

Bernstein was previously a co-host of the Food Network series Melting Pot and was once in a battle on Iron Chef America versus Bobby Flay, from which she emerged victorious. She has since appeared on numerous shows, including as a guest judge on Top Chef.

029sra. Martinez

Going over the menu was serious business. The birthday girl ordered for all of us…she’s a pro!

035sra. martinez bread and olive oil

Beautiful and simple. The most delicious olive oil and warm bread…some of the best bread all weekend.

037fried artichokes with sauce at sra. Martinez

Long Stem Chokes, Lemon-Coriander Dipping sauce was fantastic; crispy, flavorful and delicious!

046Martinez Manchego and raisin walnut bread

I had my doubts about the raisin bread with Manchego. I was pleasantly surprised. The best combination ever.

The bread and cheese were irresistable.

050tuna and fried bread

Yellowfin tuna and this amazing Cuban toast. Something like a savory doughnut is the best way that I could describe this incredible dish.

052sweet potato chips with balsamic and molasses martinez

Crispy Eggplant Miel, Sea Salt. Tasty! Delightful and addictive!

055bread with tomato and olive oil martinez

Ciabatta, Fresh Tomato, L’Estornell . Crazy great! Michelle can get the most amazing flavor from the simplest of foods.

062califlower steak with marcona almands and raisins martinez

The cauliflower steak with Marcona almonds and raisins…..Inspired! I have a whole new love for cauliflower!

070banana desert at sra. martinez

Of course, there was dessert! Bannana, ice cream, Churros, chocolate sauce; Girl Heaven!

074churros with spicy chocolate sauce sra. Martinez

The chocolate sauce was spicy and creamy. The churros were fried to perfection.

077churros and banana dessert at sra. Martinez

This was one of the most memorable and wonderful dining experiences of all time.

It was the friends, the love and Michelle Bernstein’s genius.

A perfect storm for a perfect night!

085churros and banana sra. martinez

Baby Lima Bean Soup with Kerrygold Cheddar Grilled Cheese Sandwich!

099kerrigold grilled cheese and baby lima bean and potato soup

Chilly outside and only soup and a sandwich will do!

073winter flowers

I picked up these flowers at a local market and they completely set the tone for the weekend.

Even the colors inspired this Sunday’s menu.

Creamy baby lima bean and yukon gold potato soup with Kerrygold cheddar grilled cheese.

Fragrant rosemary and roasted garlic add to the rich creaminess of this meal.

019soak the beans overnight

Start by soaking the beans overnight.

027second water add the onion

Pour out the water and add fresh water for quick boiling.

When you’ve brought these beans to a boil pour out this water, as well.

For the final cooking add enough water to cover plus about 4 cups.

Add a large sweet onion and allow to cook until the onion is soft and translucent.

Meanwhile, roast a head of garlic in the oven at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes

036garlic onion rosemary and olive oil

When the onion is done remove and place in the food processer with the roasted garlic, about 2 Tbspn of dried rosemary, 1/4 cup of olive oil and 2 Tbspn flour.

Blend until creamy.

Add this to the boiling beans.

Add 2 Tbspn of vegetarian boullion and salt and pepper to taste.

043yukon gold potato for bean soup

Chop 5-6 Yukon Gold potatoes and ad to the soup and allow to cook on medium heat for 2 hours.

071winter flowers

081Kerrigold cheddar cheese sandwich

Grilled cheese is perfect with this soup!

This is the perfect winter meal for a lazy Sunday afternoon.

099kerrigold grilled cheese and baby lima bean and potato soup

Enjoy!

Crispy Breaded Eggplant with Basil Pesto Cream Sauce and Mozzerella Cheese!

016eggplant

I love eggplant and I love basil!

This recipe combines my favorites along with cheese and the crispy fried goodness of eggplant in olive oil!

010eggplant

This is basically eggplant parmesean but with basil pesto instead of red sauce.

I also did not use ricotta cheese.

This was easy and so rich and delicious that I can’t wait to make it again!

020eggplant

Ingredients

2 large eggplants

2 large eggs

1 cup flour or Italian style bread crumbs

3 cups mozzerella cheese

1/2 cup parmesean cheese

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 eggs

1/2- 3/4 cup of basil pesto

a pinch of nutmeg

salt and pepper to taste

019eggplant

Method

Begin by dredging the sliced eggplant in the eggwash and flour.

I added slices of fresh basil to the 2 eggs for an extra bite of flavor.

Fry the slices until light brown and crispy and set aside.

Combine the pesto, heavy cream and nutmeg and mix well.

Coat the bottom of a large baking dish with the pesto cream mixture..

Place a layer of the fried eggplant on the bottom of the dish.

Combine the cheeses and 2 eggs and mix well and layer on top of the eggplant.

Then add another layer of the pesto and cream mixture.

Just keep douing this until you run out of ingredients.

Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until golden and bubbly!

002eggplant

011eggplant

006eggplant

005eggplant

012eggplant

015eggplant

14eggplant

004eggplant

024salad

This light tomato, red onion and basil salad complimented the cheesy richness beautifully!

017eggplant

Beautiful Kale Soup with Olive Oil and Yogurt!

Kale soup with feta and green onion

This kale soup is so simple, so delicious, so nutritious and so inexpensive that it would be just wrong not to share it!

021Cooking pal PD

This recipe comes from the Aunt of this guy; my “Cooking Buddy”.

The family comes from Albania and learning about a new cuisine has broadened my own cooking repetoire, especially when it comes to vegetables.

I have gained a new perspective on preparing and serving food and learned how to create complete meals from very simple ingredients.

The ingredients for this soup are: Kale, potato, onion, garlic and celery, olive oil and yogurt . With salt and pepper to taste.

We garnished with sheep milk feta cheese and fresh green onion.

A hearty wheat bread truly rounds out this meal.

I will make this a part of my regular rotation of dishes around here, to be sure.

And I would like to experiment with vegetable stock, which we didn’t use.

I had my doubts about the lack of broth but I was pleasantly surprised by how flavorful the soup was without the added boullion.

And considering that most boullions contain MSG, sugar, sodium and other unnatural and unneccesary processed ingredients, it is nice to know that I don’t need to have homemade stock handy or run out to pick up something at the store when I want to make this soup.

The other thing that I like about this soup is that the olive oil and yogurt are added at the end of cooking.

From a nutrition perspective this helps to maintain the health benefits and maximum flavor of the yogurt and the olive oil.

001Kale soup onions

Method

The process begins by boiling 1 large yellow onion and about 5-6 cloves of garlic.

We’re garlic lovers around here so I tend to use twice what I recommend at times!

I had 2 large baking potatoes which I chopped and added to the boil.

I then cleaned and chopped 2 large heads of kale and added them to the boil. Curly Kale worked well but I would have preferred Lacinto Kale.

I then chopped 4-5 large celery stalks and added these to the boil, as well.

I cooked this mixture until everything became soft and wilted.

Now, I was supposed to drain the water and pour the veggies into the food processor but I didn’t know that, so I just pureed everything together.

The cooking water was included and amounted to about 2-3 cups.

I put the pureed mixture into a large pot and continued to cook at medium heat for about 15 minutes.

We then added about 1 cup of olive oil and about 1 to 2 cups of yogurt.

We served this with some crumbled sheep milk feta and freshly cut green onion.

Salt and pepper to taste.

009Kale soup celery and Kale

013Kale soup pureed

2kale soup olive oil

Kale soup olive oil

Roasted Veggies with Fritatta and Arugula Salad for a Late Afternoon Lunch!

016fritatta with salas and roasted veggies

These roasted vegetables are the perfect dish for a sunny Autumn afternoon lunch.

Beautiful Donna, from Italy, made this light lunch for me and my BFF.

007fritatta

Roasted sweet potatoes, red peppers and zucchini with olive oil and salt and pepper in a 425 degree oven for about an hour is all it takes.

These were fantastic and tasted great with the mozzerella cheese fritatta with a hint of sauteed onion.

A light touch is the perfect ingredient.

006roasted veggies

Arugula salad with walnuts and dried cranberries is herb and berry freshness.

012arugula salad with fritatta and roasted veggies

Eggs make a great light but protein and nutrient rich meal when you’re trying to eat light or stay on a tight budget.

002roasted veggies

Baked Acorn Squash with Olive Oil and Crushed Garlic!

011acorn squash

This is so simple.

But don’t don’t be fooled.

This makes for an elegant, filling, nutritious, tasty, side dish or meal!

009acorn squash

You can add nuts, dried fruits, mushrooms, wild rice, cheese, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg; go sweet or savory for an outstanding, economical dish!

012acorn squash

I like to mix cinnamon and garlic and even butter.

Simply cut into halves, pour on about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, crush 3-4 cloves of garlic and bake in a 400 degree oven for about an hour and a half or until tender.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

I wrap these completely in foil.
Serve this chopped in chunks or “smashed potato” style.

015acorn squash

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