Roasted Asparagus


1 lb asparagus spears
2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Rinse with cool water to clean the asparagus. Break the tough ends off of the asparagus and discard. The best way to do this is to take the asparagus and snap te bottom off. The woody ends will just snap right off where they meet the good flesh of the vegetable. Makes it real easy to prep!

Lay the asparagus spears out in a single layer in a covered cookie sheet/pan. Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle the salt and pepper over the spears-roll the asparagus back and forth until they are all covered.

Cook for 8-10 minutes until browned. I like to take the asparagus out at around the 8 minute mark to roll them back and forth so they brown evenly. You want the asparagus to be tender but not over cooked (mushy).


Snap off the woody ends of the asparagus without using tools!
Snap off the woody ends of the asparagus without using tools!
Finished side dish! Roasted asparagus
Finished side dish! Roasted asparagus









– Still not feeling well. I’ve succumb to taking meds; I try to not resort to taking anything unless I am in dire need. And this morning I woke up like a zombie!

I didn’t sleep much last night, third night in a row with the dry and sore throat, tossing and turning, and, waking up every toss and turn. : Decided to work from home and run a few local errands to pep me up. I have to write a blurb about the local shops in my town and how much I like them. Had a real great experience today with the woman here, and i’d love to give her support with her business. It’s a real great shop! Maybe I will sometime soon. I wanted to write / post / photo blog a year in review before the new year, so maybe that is a good one to follow it. It’s been quite the year. So many changes, some great and some still getting used to. But I am definitely looking forward to 2013. I don’t really make resolutions or anything, but think I will this year. Get rid of some baggage that’s been irking me.

Last night, I did make it home to put the lights and the tree up (not decorated yet!)!

Also, made a pasta with carmalized zucchini that I will post on here this week, and started fooling around with a clever way to hang my Holiday cards that we receive in the mail- so if it comes out good, be on the look out!!

Broiled Cod with Bread Crumbs

First, I’d like to say thank you to those following my blog. I reached 11 followers last night, and, got a shout out on Twitter! This all made my day!  

Feeling good after work last night, I decided that my time would be better spent cooking for my family rather than starting the holiday lights outside.. or the tree!  But the plan tonight is to finish it!  The weather today, much like yesterdays, is unseasonably warm, and I am starting to get impatient with myself cause the girls haven’t received their new annual ornaments from us.    My oldest will be receiving a Hallmark artist bear, she is the artist of the family; and my youngest will be getting a Scooby Doo and the gang in the Mystery Machine, her favorite show!  If all goes to plan, I will share some of the decorating photos with you tomorrow.

For now, here is my recipe:

Broiled Cod with Bread Crumbs

This feeds a family of four. The ratio I use is 1 fillet per adult and ½ per child.

  • 3 cod fillets – washed under cold water – haddock, sole, or any other sturdy white fish can be used as well.
  • ¼ cup plain dry wheat bread crumbs (or panko crumbs)
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (1 for pan and 1 for fish)
  • ½ lemon juiced
  • 4 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp Herbs de Provence*
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

In your oven, take a rack and slide it into the top-notch, closest to the broiler.

Turn on broiler to LOW.

Grab a heavy-duty cookie sheet/broiler pan.  I cover mine with either tin foil or the heavy-duty parchment/foil paper.  The heavy-duty parchment paper is one of my key supplies in the kitchen. For taste, I like to drizzle some olive oil on the pan before hand.

Mix together the paprika, bread crumbs and herbs.

Separately, mix together the lemon juice and water.

Arrange the fillets skin side down onto the oiled pan. Salt fish well.

The fillets skin side down on the pan, drizzled with olive oil.

Drizzle more olive oil evenly over the fish, and massage it in.  Then add the lemon water onto the pan, not the fish. Let it pool and surround the fish.  Sprinkle the top with the bread crumbs mixture evenly.

Broil for at least 5-10 minutes.  The length of time to cook the fillets depends on the thickness of the fish at the widest part. My rule of thumb when I started broiling fish was set the timer for 5 minutes.  Check the fish’s thickest part.  If it is not white and flaky, but still pinky in the middle, then let broil another minute. Check again after that. Etc. BUT Do not cook more than 10 minutes, cause then the fish will definitely over cook.  Your goal is to get a white flaky fish without burning the crumb.

I love this dish paired with a side of asparagus and sweet potatoes. Which those side dish recipes will be following this week.


Finished dish!  Broiled Cod with Bread Crumbs
Finished dish! Broiled Cod with Bread Crumbs

  • *If you don’t have herbs du Provence, you can use a variety of herbs together, or even an already flavored bread crumb instead.   If you have a hard time finding them, check out your local Homegoods!

I make my own herbs de Provence now.  I had bought a tin from Homegoods years ago and fell for the flavors.  They were herbs that I liked: lavender, rosemary, thyme, oregano, savory, and basil. And, since we were in the middle of our yard renovations at the time, I decided then that not only would these herbs be pretty and fragrant scattered in the plantings, but also useful with my cooking. There is nothing nicer than walking through the yard and touching the lavender and then the thyme..the smells make me so happy.  My plan is to get a functioning garden back there some day, but waiting for our ‘oh so ugly’ garage to be struck by lightning, cause behind it is where the sun’s real prime real estate is in our yard!

Stocking Stuffer- Manicure Kit in a Jar

Stumbled upon this clever way to package a manicure set on pinterest a few weeks ago, and thought this would be a great pinterest craft to try and the perfect stocking stuffer (a rather large one) for my sister this Christmas!  Sorry, if you are reading this, but close your eyes now. 

Purchased a manicure kit for under $10. It consisted of a ton of things:

  • 1 small nail clipper
  • 1 large nail clipper
  • 1 mini scissors
  • 1 cuticle cutter
  • 1 cuticle pusher
  • 1 double sided nail file
  • 1 double-sided nail buffer
  • 1 mini nail brush for washing

Additional items purchased:

  • a wide-mouthed jar ($2.57)
  • a clear base coat ($3)
  • a color nail polish ($3)
  • a mini nail polish remover ($ .97)
  • and a bag of cotton ($1)

Started by filling the bottom of the jar with a handful of cotton balls.  Then strategically placed all the individual items inside around and embedded into the cotton so they wouldn’t clang and move around in the jar (adding cotton between as needed). One item didn’t fit inside the jar, the nail file. Figured to use it with the bow.  As I am a wrapping paper/present person, I had a bolt of tulle in my inventory and used it for this gift, too.  Measured the jar and cut a circle out of the tulle to cover and make a poof at the top.  Tied it with a candy cane bow and added the file to top it off.

This came out cute with the tulle and the peek-a-boo of all the things inside.. and I hope she likes it!

All the items needed for a manicure set in a jar
All the items needed for a manicure set in a jar
Voila!  A sweet bundle of manicured goodness!
Voila! A sweet bundle of manicured cuteness!

Cheese Tortellini with Peas

Well, sushi night has been postponed to tonight; his flight back from Canada was delayed a few hours and he came home exhausted.

Last night, I made a quick pasta dish, that I love making in the spring time, but it’s a dish you can eat anytime really.

Cheese Tortellini with Peas:

1 package of fresh cheese tortellini (frozen is fine too)
1/2  package frozen peas
1/4 cup of water
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic chopped
1 medium yellow onion chopped
1/4 cup grated cheese, either Pecorino or Parmigiano

Cook tortellini 3 minutes shy of the instructions (they will finish cooking with the peas).

In a skillet on medium heat, heat up oil.  Add garlic and onions, cook until translucent.

Garlic and Onion
Garlic and Onion

Add peas and the water, cook covered for 5 minutes;

Add peas- I ran them under warm water for a few so they were more room temperature.
Add peas-I like the taste of Trader Joe’s organic sweet peas. Then I run them under warm water for a few so they are more room temperature.

Lower the heat to low/medium then add in the pasta and cook the dish covered until the pasta is al dente and peas are tender.

Partially cooked pasta in the pan with the peas.

Once cooked, remove pan from heat, add in cheese. Then serve topped with additional cheese, if desired.

The finished dish! Tortellini with Peas
The finished dish! Tortellini with Peas


Roasted Brussels Sprouts

A few years ago, I was soo intimidated by brussels sprouts.  The thought of preparing them gave me cold feet. But once I saw someone prepare them and it was so easy; I got hooked! And at least once a week we prepare them as a side dish.  Below is a walk through on how to clean/prep brussels sprouts, using fresh brussels sprouts.

Brussels Sprouts taste amazing roasted, in olive oil and S&P as I walk you through below, but there is a product I want to share that goes amazingly with brussels sprouts. I really love love love to use a balsamic reduction, or as seen in the photo I am attaching, a balsamic cream. Drizzling a little bit over the roasted brussels sprouts takes the dish to another level with a sweet and sour flavor.  It’s a must try; and can be found at most grocery stores that have an international/Italian aisle.  This reduction is great on a variety of meats, vegetables, fruits and even ice cream!

Balsamic Glaze/Reduction.

What you’ll need:

1.5 lbs Brussels sprouts (prep directions below)
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3/4 tspn salt
1/2 tspn freshly ground black pepper

1 cookie sheet covered in parchment.

Preheat oven to 400F.

Cut off the stems of the brussels sprouts and pull off the bottom and first layers of the outer, darker leaves.  Score the bottoms with an X.

A washed brussels sprout. Isn’t he cute?
Without top layer of leaves.
Without browned stem
Score the brussels sprout with an ‘X’.

Mix them in a bowl with the olive oil, salt and pepper.

Place them scattered on a cookie sheet, and roast until the outside is browned and some outer leaves are crispy, (and that they are tender in the center), about 35- 40 minutes.  I like to set the timer for 20 minutes, then shake the pan up a bit so they brown on all sides.

The finished dish! Roasted Brussels Sprout

☞I enjoy eating roasted brussels sprouts as a snack..with chopsticks.

T’is me. YUMMY! (with the balsamic on it!)

Vanilla Cheesecake with Oreo crust

20 Oreo cookies (about 2 1/4 cups finely crushed- also can subsitute WhoNu Brand)

3 Tbsp. butter or margarine, melted

5 pkg. (8 oz. each) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened

3/4 cup sugar

3 Tbsp. flour

1 Tbsp. vanilla bean paste- you can find this at Trader Joe’s (or 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract)

1 cup low fat sour cream

4 eggs

Use a 9″ spring form pan.

Heat oven to 325ºF

Start with the crust.  Mix cookie crumbs, 3 Tbsp. sugar and butter; press onto bottom of pan. Bake 10 min.

You can breakdown the Oreos in an zip-loc bag using a rolling pin, but it’s so much easier in the food processor.

Filling.  Mix cream cheese, sugar, flour and vanilla paste with mixer until well blended.   Add sour cream; mix well.  Turn down mixer to low, add eggs in one at a time just until blended and smooth.  Pour over crust.

** If you would like to decorate the top with the cookies: before baking, take four cookie halves and place on top-pressing them into the filling enough to be stable.

Bake 1 hour 10 min. or until center is almost set. Cool completely. Refrigerate at least 4 hours before taking out of the form.

Fresh from the oven! The cheesecake rises a lot while it’s cooking, and when it’s cooled it deflates and settles into the pan.

Run knife or metal spatula around rim of pan to loosen cake and you are able to spring the form without any cake attached.

Vanilla Cheesecake with Oreo Cookie Crust! Soooo yummy!

Linguine Fini con Pane Grattugiato Tostato (toasted bread crumbs)

One of my favorite and super, quick dishes to make for my family is a long pasta with toasted bread crumbs. My pasta of choice is always a linguine fini, but any long pastas will work.
The great thing about making this dish is that it literally takes only a few minutes to make- in the time you boil the water and cook your pasta…you are done!

I love having toasted bread crumbs handy for a variety of dishes, as well; so in this recipe I made enough to keep on hand. Toasted bread crumbs last a long time in the fridge and can be kept easily in a plastic zip-loc.

1 cup plain bread crumbs (do not use flavored)

2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 clove of garlic minced

salt and pepper to taste

1 lb cooked pasta

Put the bread crumbs in a small pan on high heat.  Add in the extra virgin olive oil and constantly stir until all is a golden brown.  DO NOT let the bread crumbs sit on the stove unattended as they will burn quickly. I like to stir and ‘flip’ the bread crumbs to get an even toasting.
Bread crumbs toasted in the pan.

In a bowl, take the cooked, strained pasta and mix it with the garlic, S&P, and extra virgin olive oil, make sure it’s all coated. Then add in a 1/4 cup bread crumbs that you toasted and toss them together.  Top with your favorite grated cheese.

Linguine Fini con Pane Grattugiato Tostato (toasted breadcrumbs)

Pasta with Sauce and Eggplant

2 tbsp olive oil

1 large eggplant partially peeled and cubed (partially peel the eggplant in stripes)

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup of water (room temp)

1.5 tbsp tomato paste

2 (28 ounce) can kitchen ready tomatoes,

3 fresh basil leaves

salt & pepper

Sautee Garlic
On medium-high heat, saute minced garlic, in 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, until the color is translucent.
Try to not brown or burn the garlic. If you end up doing so, you’ll have to start over with new oil.
sautee eggplant
Once the garlic is translucent, add in the cubed eggplant.
Eggplant acts like a sponge, and will soak in all the oil, quickly add in the 1/4 cup of water.
Cover. Let simmer until the eggplant is tender and has changed to a more brownish color. 
crushed tomatoes and eggplant
Add in 2 cans of kitchen ready crushed tomatoes.
Personally, I prefer using the homemade crushed tomatoes my mother makes, but I didn’t have them handy today.
Reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer for 10 minutes.
Adding Tomato Paste
Add 1.5 tbsp of tomato paste.
Once you have stirred the tomato paste in, it’s melted,  cover and let the sauce simmer on medium-low heat for 25 minutes. Stirring occasionally.  Though, like with most sauces, the longer the better.
At this point you can start to boil water for your pasta.  This way by the time your sauce is done your pasta will be ready. 
Add in the salt and pepper to your taste here.  Then turn down the sauce to low and add in the basil.  
Turn off the heat, and by now your pasta is fully cooked and ready to strain. 
Not Pasta Alla Norma
The finished product!
Serve with a sprinkle of pecorino Romano cheese on top.
Tonight we paired this with a simple salad of greens, topped with warmed porcini mushrooms, and, a bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau 2012.
Buon Apetito! 

Hope you enjoy making this dish as much as eating it!