Have you ever been to Key West? We had a great time there this past winter. It’s beautiful, fun, lively and in case you’re wondering, the southernmost point of the U.S. If you ever get a chance to go, I’d highly recommend it. Key West Pink Shrimp that actually are pink are everywhere and make a great appetizer just dipped in spicy cocktail sauce while you sip a rum drink and listen to Jimmy Buffett style music. They also have other outrageously good seafood there, as you’d probably expect. What came as a surprise to me was the really great Cuban cuisine, like Ropa Vieja that I just had to make when I got home and some really fine Cuban coffee. Of course, Key West is only 90 miles from Cuba, so I’m not sure why I didn’t expect Cuban food. I also ate my fill of Conch Chowder and one day, just to switch things up, I tried my first bowl of Black Bean Soup. This Easy Black Bean Soup is my take on that version. It’s spicy, rich in flavor and ideal on those nights you want to go meat-free. It actually makes my mouth water just thinking about it and transports me to that laid-back lifestyle. . .
Way back when a long, long time ago – actually in the winter of 2015, though it seems like 100 years ago, I posted a recipe for one of my favorite combinations, roasted tomatoes and goat cheese smeared thick on a lightly toasted baguette. Like good wine, I’ve improved with age and so has that recipe. Today I’m bringing you my updated version and if I must say so myself – though please feel free to say it too – this Tomato Caper Goat Cheese Appetizer is way better…
Wing eaters fall into one of two categories: drummy or flapper. In our house, it works out perfectly because I fall squarely in Camp Drummy. My husband is a Flapper Guy, though if there’s an extra drummy or two, he won’t let them escape. I love sweet-spicy wings and the inspiration for these Grilled Spicy Chicken Wings came from extra bottles of Jack Daniels I found one day at home. We don’t drink JD, but my daughter created a recipe a while back for Jack Daniels Brownies that she sometimes makes at our house ~ moist, fudgy brownies with a salted caramel drizzle ~ and the bottles ended up being left behind. It’s literally impossible to stop at one of these brownies! I keep “encouraging” her to guest blog this recipe ~ maybe a little nudge from you would help. I have no shame…
Almost a year ago to the day I originally published my recipe for the Best Roasted Tomato Marinara Sauce, now shortened to just Marinara Sauce. Have you made it yet? It’s seriously the best sauce and since it’s tomato season again here in the Midwest it only seemed fitting to revisit the recipe. I’ve been roasting tomatoes from our garden the last couple of weeks creating the easiest, most delicious Marinara Sauce you could imagine now neatly stored in the freezer for (a) winter when the tomatoes aren’t nearly as tasty as they are now and (b) those nights when I’m hungry and short on time. This sauce along with Trader Joe’s Portabella Mushroom Ravioli and dinner goes from stove to table in just a few minutes.
It’s always nice when a plan comes together. You have a recipe and all the ingredients and time to make it, but I’m also happy to take a win when I happen to have all the ingredients and a meal comes together as deliciously as this Chicken Pesto Sandwich. I’m talking about mmmmm over-the-top goodness. I can’t seem to break the habit of cooking in volume like I’m expecting the kids to walk in the door, along with their friends and maybe a neighbor or two and the result is. . .leftovers. Do you do this too? So when I was looking for something for lunch the other day, I discovered that between the leftovers in the refrigerator, a couple of things in the freezer and the tomatoes I just picked from the garden, I had the makings for one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever eaten. I don’t mean gosh I’m hungry that was good. I’m talking one of the best sandwiches. . .ever.
We planted our usual garden in the spring and watered and fertilized all the plants ~ in fact, we watered more this year than I can ever remember because of the stretches of 90+ temps and very little rain. We lovingly cared for these little plants until some of the tomato plants grew almost as tall as me. Don’t get too excited ~ I’m only 5’2″. Our reward for all this tending is lots of tomatoes. Lots.Of.Tomatoes. We’ve eaten them in a variety of salads, including Italian Pasta Salad and on sandwiches. Eventually they’ll be turned into marinara and frozen but for now, I’m enjoying the freshness of this Fresh Tomato Salsa.
Hopefully you’re still ready for a few more summer meals ~ it is, after only mid-August. Part of me still wants to eat barbecue, cold salads and appetizers like I’m training for the Olympics ~ it is an Olympic sport, right? Another part of me is thinking ahead to mashed potatoes with rich, savory gravy and casseroles blended with melted cheese ~ comfort food. But in the meantime, let’s take a few more dips in the lake, toast another s’more or three, stay out after the streetlights come on and make some Italian Pasta Salad. It’s all my favorite smoked meats from an Italian sub, plus garden fresh vegetables and cheese tortellini, lightly dressed in Italian dressing. It’s a salad that acts like a meal that acts like a side dish that acts like a. . .
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If you think Homemade Pizza is strictly for cold weather, think again. Summer is actually the best time for homemade pizza because of all the fresh produce, including vine-ripened tomatoes for the tastiest, no-cook – let’s repeat, no-cook pizza sauce. While this pizza is amazingly delicious, cleanup is. . .less than amazing. A layer of flour along with some olive oil cover the counter and stovetop and I don’t even twirl my pizza dough ~ though I aspire to one day. It’s even on the floor. Let’s face it. Life is messy, but unlike the Bradys of Brady Bunch fame, I don’t have an Alice. I don’t even have a Rosie, the robotic maid from the Jetsons and friends, I surely don’t have a Tony from Who’s the Boss. What’s a girl to do? I’m sharing my not-so-secret cleanup tip today ~ ocelo™ No-Scratch Scrub Sponges, which are not only pretty, but you may even say they make cleaning up as easy as (pizza) pie!
I’ve probably told this story before, but in my single girl days I lived on Taco Bell cuisine ~ it is considered cuisine, right? I have no shame in saying this. It was cheap (still is) and good (still is) and in those days I wasn’t much of a cook. Win-win-win. I had a couple of favorites from that neon lit menu board that saw me both at meal time and for late-night snacks. One favorite was the bean burrito. The other was the bean tostada. Are you seeing a pattern? Though I still have a sincere appreciation for Taco Bell, my tastes have evolved (thankfully) and so have my cooking skills (“yes, thankfully” said my family in a loud chorus!) but I still love a good tostada, especially this Shrimp Tostada.
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When I was a little girl the closest I came to being a boater was a day on the lake with a friend on her family’s boat. Her mom packed bologna sandwiches for us; what else for a couple of picky eaters? That little girl grew up, married a boater and became one too. We even raised our kids on the water. We had so much fun taking weeklong ‘camping’ trips every year on the boat to some of our favorite ports, like Cedar Point and Put-In-Bay in Lake Erie. Packing the boat for the week meant stocking their favorite cereal, juice boxes, bologna and cheese for sandwiches (clearly I didn’t stray far!) and of course, when you travel with kids, no trip is complete without a side of chaos; it adds to the memories. These days the kids are grown and time spent on the lake is usually adult time anchored somewhere, swimming, eating and relaxing with a glass of wine. Oh and the bologna sandwiches? They’ve been upgraded to this Peach and Prosciutto Bruschetta. Welcome aboard . . .