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LENT: Big Up Your Tuna Salad

26 Feb

We’re approaching the second Friday of Lent (and my second week without cheese, Lord help me). It’ll be tuna salad for lunch tomorrow, but not your run-of-the-mill deli style tuna salad. I like my flavors a little bigger and bolder (except for the tuna, which I confess to liking on the milder side; I prefer albacore and try to purchase ocean friendly brands). Here’s my easy way of making tuna salad special.

I am trying to keep the carb load down, so I'll just have my tuna salad with lettuce.

I am trying to keep the carb load down, so I’ll just have my tuna salad with lettuce.

To one 5 oz. can tuna, drained, I add 1 Tbs prepared mayonnaise and 1-2 tsp each of prepared mustard, drained capers, chopped sun-dried tomatoes, chopped onion, and chopped roasted red pepper. Mix well, season to taste, and serve on bread or salad.


Linguine with Spicy Scallop Marinara

28 Aug
Whew! What a summer! Four weeks in Puerto Rico, another week in Chincoteague, VA, plus wall-to-wall activities, nonstop writing for the Edible publications…it’s been great, but I am afraid I have not posted here as often as I would have liked.
More garlic, cause that's how we roll.

More garlic, cause that’s how we roll.

If you think I have neglected this, you should see the #GardenofNeglect in my raised beds. Once again, the champion of zucchini failure failed to get even one lousy zucchini, bringing my three-year grand total to ONE. Ah well, fall plantings are in and I see a few radish greens popping up, so maybe we’ll get something going there now that we are home.

Sweet, tender Chincoteague scallops are a treat

Sweet, tender Chincoteague scallops are a treat

Anyhoo, this recipe is something my brother and sister-in-law put together while we were in Chincoteague to take advantage of the superb sea scallops available there. Apparently this is a new go-to for them in their home in Canada, warming without being heavy.
Hard at work in the kitchen

Hard at work in the kitchen

They based it on a Food Network recipe that uses spaghetti, parmesan rind and much less garlic than my brother bungs in. Why you would want to use less garlic is beyond my comprehension, but to each his/her own! You can use less than the amount called for in my brother’s version, but for my money, he has the right idea using a lot.

Look at that color...

Look at that color…

It was truly delicious, with bright clear flavors and not difficult at all to put together. I think it will become a go-to here in New York too!

Let's eat!

Let’s eat!

Linguine with Spicy Scallop Marinara

(serves four to six)

Kosher/coarse salt
1lb linguine
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  6cloves garlic, minced
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
1 28 -ounce can whole San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand
1 cup loosely packed fresh basil, sliced, plus more for topping

grated Parmesan to taste
3/4 pound bay scallops or sea scallops cut into 1″ chunks

Cook pasta according to package direction. Before draining, reserve 1/4 Cup cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until the garlic softens, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, 1/2 cup water and half of the basil. Bring the sauce to a boil, then stir and reduce the heat to medium low; simmer 15 minutes. Season with salt.

Increase the heat under the sauce to medium high, add the scallops and cook, stirring occasionally, until opaque, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining basil, stir in the parmesan and season with salt and more red pepper flakes.

Drain the pasta and add to the skillet with the sauce; toss. If you need more liquid, use the reserved cooking liquid. Divide the pasta among bowls, drizzle with olive oil and top with more basil.

A view from the kitchen

A view from the kitchen

Easter Meal – Shellfish, Lamb Chops, Asparagus, Brusssels Sprouts and More

19 Apr

While it is not set in stone, this is what we will most likely be eating tomorrow for the big Easter meal. We’ll start with shellfish (and Sauvignon Blanc for the growns, flavored seltzer for the kid), then simple lamb and vegetables (probably some couscous with pesto made by the little man as an additional side). We are off to the farm today, so I’ve run out of time…Happy Easter to all, if I don’t see you before then….lamb

Light Mediterranean-style clams

 Crispy Beer-Battered Oysters

Fantastically crisp beer battered oysters

Fantastically crisp beer battered oysters


Simple and Perfect Roasted Baby Lamb Chops

Roasted Asparagus and Sweet Red Pepper Dipping Sauce



Brussels Sprouts – Sauteed and Sassy

brussels sprouts

 Grilled Potato Disks (Like Fries, but grilled!)

Crispy on the outside, crunchy on the inside!

Crispy on the outside, crunchy on the inside!





Easy Steamed Clams for Me – Easy Linguine with Clam Sauce for the Kid

13 Apr

The problem:  I want steamed clams. My dad wants steamed clams. My son won’t eat them. Nor will my mom. I don’t want to cook two meals, because as much as I like to cook, this is not a bloody restaurant.



The solution: Both my son and my mom will eat pasta with seafood flavor. So I steam the clams in a nice cooking liquid, remove the offending shells and shellfish for me and my dad, then plump up the liquid into a delicious pasta sauce for the other two.

yum, clams

yum, clams

And so, we had a lovely casual dinner on the deck, with the remainder of the bottle of white wine, everyone enjoying the arrival of spring (and celebrating the absence of the mosquitoes that have been effing up our summer nights for the last few years).

linguine and clams

linguine and clams (these clams were removed immediately after the picture and eaten by me. The pasta went to the kid.

The whole operation takes only as long as it takes to cook up the pasta. So go for it! Click on for recipe


cheese for the kid

cheese for the kid

Steamed clams and BONUS linguine with white wine, butter and clam sauce

½ lb linguine (this sauce will stretch for a pound of pasta – 4 servings – if you are extra generous with all ingredients)

1 Tbs unsalted butter

1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

1-2 tsp garlic, chopped fine

½ Cup dry white wine

A dozen cherrystone clams in their shells, scrubbed

1 tsp or so lemon juice

6.5 oz can chopped clams

Parmigiano Reggiano for grating

Boil pasta according to package directions. Reserve ¼ Cup of pasta water before draining.

Melt butter in a large saucepan at medium high. When foaming subsides, add olive oil and garlic and cook for another minute or so. Add wine and lemon and bring to a boil.

Add clams in their shells and cover. Cook at medium high until the clams open and remove each one with tongs as it opens. I advise checking after about three minutes, and then uncovering every minute or so after that, to move cooked clams out of the pot as quickly as possible, because they get chewy if overcooked. Set clams aside/start eating them with a glass of that nice dry white wine you opened to cook them.

To the remaining clam cooking liquid, add the can of clams, with juices. Cook at medium high for 1-2 minutes, then add drained pasta, and, if necessary, some of the reserved pasta water. Taste for salt, add pepper if desired and serve with grated cheese.

Passionfruit Chipotle Shrimp: quickie dinner with style and flair

15 Dec

My friend, Ashley was visiting and I had promised dinner, but I hadn’t really planned. Towards the end of a busy semester, I find myself playing it by ear a lot; I just don’t have the wherewithal to do something that requires a lot of prep or advanced thought. I deal with things as they come up, and look forward to the upcoming break when I won’t feel so much like I am flying by the seat of my pants (what an odd idiom that is)!

I love the color of almost looks like a curry...which makes me want to experiment with coconut and curry flavors...

I love the color of this…it almost looks like a curry…which makes me want to experiment with coconut and curry flavors…

I knew I had a bag of shrimp in the freezer that had been waiting for me to come up with something and then I remembered a quickie solution I quite like: tangy, smoky shrimp with finger-licking good sauce that soaks nicely into rice, but can also be eaten on its own if you are looking to reduce carbohydrate intake.

This was done in under ten minutes and made us very happy. One thing I like about this light treatment of shrimp is that you can eat a lot of it without the uncomfortably full feeling you can get from pork or beef). For a grilled version, click here.

very, very yummy!

very, very yummy!

Passionfruit Chipotle Shrimp (serves four)

1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

1 small onion, minced (about a half cup)

2 tsp minced garlic

3 Tbs passionfruit pulp or juice

1-2 Tbs chipotle in adobo, chopped (remove seeds for less heat, but this amount is not super-spicy)

Juice of one orange or Clementine

Sprinkling of Adobo powder

1 lb. medium shrimp, peeled and de-veined (tail-on is okay)

1/4 Cup cilantro, chopped

In a skillet, heat olive oil until fragrant then add onions, stir to coat and lower heat to medium. Saute for five minutes or until onions are quite soft. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Add passionfruit, chipotle and juice and stir to combine. While it cooks for a minute or two, sprinkle shrimp with Adobo (go easy if you don’t like much salt). Raise heat to high, add shrimp and cilantro to skillet, stir to coat and cook for 3-4 minutes, depending on the size of the shrimp, until they lose their translucency and begin to curl.

Serve over rice. Good cold too!

You may also like:

Zippy Grilled Passionfruit and Chipotle Shrimp

Delicious with avocado

Delicious with avocado

Shrimp and Avocado Salad

Beautiful fresh salad

Beautiful fresh salad


Smoked Salmon Spread: No-Fuss Festive Appetizer!

11 Nov

Now that the holidays are coming in with the speed of a freight train, the panic begins. How do I entertain (or get a dish together for a potluck) in between work, activities, housework, paying bills, kids, parents, pets and all the other stuff, stuff, stuff that consumes our rapidly diminishing daylight hours?

Here’s one easy solution that takes just 5-10 minutes to prepare (factor in an hour of chill time), looks creamy and luscious, and can travel tidily with you everywhere! It makes about a pound of spread, so you can divide it up for different events. Mine has capers; I am riffing off an Ina Garten recipe that uses dill instead.

On a cracker, dressed up with some capers...

On a cracker, dressed up with some capers…

I made it this weekend for my Single Mothers by Choice meet-up and it went over very big with chips and crackers. And then I parked a bowl next to my dad (who is OFF the crazy-ass veganplus diet — by doctor’s orders — and is becoming a fun person to cook and eat with again, Hallelujah, Hallelujah) as he was recovering from his successful cancer surgery in a big chair in front of all the sports a man could care to consume…will he ever want to leave the living room? Continue reading

Fish Tacos and Tostadas: Easy, Breezy, Light

23 Jun

We are digging the flavors of the SouthWest – rice, beans, cumin, peppers, avocados, corn, red onion….They holler summer to me and are right now hollering my name.

fish tostadas

Pile ’em high with whatever you like!

Mind you, I have very little idea how people actually eat in the SouthWest, but I have these ideas shaped by the mysterious forces of The Media Age. These ideas make flavor sense to me and make me happy AND are easily achieved in my little kitchen, AND my son likes them AND they lend themselves to individual assembly and in my family of diverse eaters, that is really, really important, so there you have it.

You can pop them into tacos or eat them on the side

You can pop them into tacos or eat them on the side

The Northeastern factor is fresh fish from our salty sea. I have figured out how to quickly season and pan-fry chunks of fish to add to our little buffet. Leandro piles it into tacos with loads of cheese, my mother and I onto tostadas with beans and corn, and my dad on his crazy-ass diet skips the fish altogether and piles on the vegetables. Everyone can eat with their fingers and everyone is happy. Continue reading

Quick Cook Clams on the Half Shell – Lighter and Healthier Mediterranean Style

23 May

Summers on Long Island have traditionally been lined with clams. From the big surf clam shells you collect at the beach and take home as keepsakes, ashtrays, tealight holders and that are the most likely clams in your fried clam strips, to the cherrystones you burn your back and cut up your feet feeling around for somewhere in the marshy areas between Massapequa and Jones Beach, to the baked clams that are a feature of virtually every family restaurant on the South Shore, the steamers (which we call piss clams) that you eat by the bucket dipping the clams in brine and butter (after removing that weird skin – best not to discuss it), washed down with golden beers on the fishing docks of Freeport’s Nautical Mile...yeah, clams are a part of life here, especially in the summer.

This is what they look like after steaming and before broiling.

This is what they look like after steaming and before broiling.

So never mind that the clams we used in this recipe were actually from Maryland (once again, thanks Ashley!), it still felt like a proper kick-off to the outdoor eating season to us.

This was a super easy recipe (especially because my dad was actually the one who did most of the work, while I fussed about with other things, like chilling the wine and getting my own Mussels Vinaigrette plated) and the results were phenomenal. Pedro being Pedro, he didn’t use butter, which would be traditional. Instead he used garlic-infused olive oil and I think the dish was much, much better for it. Very fresh, briny, and bracing, the way I like my seafood! Continue reading

Zippy Passionfruit Chipotle Grill-Charred Shrimp: Spicy, Sweet and Speedy!

5 May

You are going to love how fast, easy and flavorful this shrimp dish is!

You would think from my recent posts that I wasn’t cooking at all! It has been a whirlwind of parties and events and educational stuff, but I’ve still been in the kitchen and garden plenty, banging out some of our easy favorites (like 5-Minute Black Beans; Spinach/Chard/Kale Pasta; Caribbean Chicken Soup to name a few reliable and fast ones) and beginning to harvest some baby, baby veggies.

Passionfruit marinade

Passionfruit marinade

Taco Tuesdays have been going strong (although we did a Nacho Tuesday variation not too long ago).  Flex-Mex Shredded Chicken and Basic Seasoned Ground Beef are the usual go-tos as the chicken is just a two-minute prep and I always have batches of prepared beef in the freezer ready-to-go….but I do like to try new variations, especially if there’s another grown-up around willing to accompany me in case Leandro gets fussed. Ashley and I had some work to do on a proposal, so we decided to make it on a Taco Tuesday so I could do some Mexican-inspired shrimp.

Love my Le Creuset grill pan

Love my Le Creuset grill pan

The marinade will taste very spicy when you put the shrimp in, but do not be afraid. Once the shrimp is soaked in it and the grill does its work the spiciness mellows to a pleasant nuance. Do heat the grill pretty hot so you get a good-looking sear fast, without overcooking the shrimp.

Delicious with avocado

Delicious with avocado

Chipotle Passionfruit Grilled Shrimp (makes four servings)

For marinade

1 -2 Tbs chipotle in adobo (remove seeds and chop)

¾ Cup passionfruit (maracuya or parcha in Spanish) pulp, defrosted if using frozen

2 Tbs lime juice

2 Tbs olive oil

1 tsp fresh cilantro, chopped

2 pinches salt


1.5 pounds peeled and defrosted, if frozen. (Larger is better for grilling purposes. The minimum size should be 31-40 per pound).

Mix all marinade ingredients into a sealable refrigerator safe container. Add shrimp and marinate for no less than 15 minutes and no more than 30 (30 is optimal).

Heat grill or grill pan and brush with just enough oil to prevent sticking. When the oil is smoking hot, add shrimp (in batches to avoid crowding). Cook for 2-3 minutes one side, and then flip and cook another minute (or more if using larger shrimp). Remove and serve with chopped avocado, rice, and black beans, or in tacos.

Crispy Beer Battered Oysters: Delightfully Light, Incredibly Easy

9 Apr

I am not lying when I say you can make these crispy beer battered oysters with just five ingredient in a jiffy. That is, in a jiffy if you either can shuck oysters yourself, or buy them shucked.

If neither of the above is true – as was the case when my friend Ashley brought us two dozen Maryland oysters from her Easter trip back home — Don’t worry! You can either steam, grill or microwave  them open, or, if you’re daring, grab anything that looks like an oyster knife, do a quick Internet search on shucking, and give it a go. (Shucking instructions and recipe below!)

Protect the hands in a towel while hunting for the hinge

Protect the hands in a towel while hunting for the hinge

Me and the dad gave it a go (because we couldn’t help ourselves in the face of the challenge), banishing the moms from the kitchen so she couldn’t see the mess we were making or how we were taking our lives in our hands for the sake of an oozy, slimy, bivalve with no pearl. Lo and behold, a few scary, sweaty minutes later, we had a pile of plump glistening oysters waiting to be fried and a couple of beers waiting to wash them down with.

Continue reading

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