Broccoli Rabe

Rolling out of bed and checking my iPhone’s Weather Channel app resulted in a decision to take a rain check on today’s Farmer’s Market Thursday. The 60-70% chance of rain was too much for me to gamble – what if by the time the farmer’s market opened, it got rained out?

Instead, I went to my local grocery market and picked one ingredient to base a dish around. I headed straight to the greens….. the big leafy ones! And what first caught my eye? Broccoli rabe.

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Bikini Bolognese

Bikini Bolognese

Giada, you would be so proud. I just made a divine turkey bolognese. I’ll be honest, I’ve never made turkey bolognese, so I did a lot of Googling (and went first to Giada, duh). Luckily, it was one of those fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants days… everything I added to the skillet seemed so….. right. One of the reasons I love blogging is because I will get to share my amateur experiences with you all – and I promise, there will be some not-so-pretty ones. But hey, I’m 26 years old, I’ve never had a cooking lesson (not a one!) and I just love love love food (except eggplant, ack!) …. and I always aspire to be fitter, hence the healthiness I bring to my recipes. Every Italian woman wants to be a teeeeeeeny bit thinner…. except for Giada, she’s just blessed with that goddess-like Roman blood.

Tasting Tuesday is for me to test one of the recipes for my cookbook. So thanks for being my guinea pig. The key to this recipe today is briefly pureeing the carrots and celery before cooking them. This was a last-minute decision and really added to the texture of the bolognese and enriched the sauce.

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Garlic Zucchini Spaghetti with Italian Chicken Sausage, Tomatoes, Basil and Roasted Potatoes

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Typically, I would be posting my ingredients earlier in the day (circa 4pm) to give everyone a chance to go out and buy the same ingredients as me and follow along! But, since this is my first Farmer’s Market Thursday, we’re going to go about this a bit differently.

Today, I chose the Hoboken Uptown Farmer’s Market on Hudson Street between 12th and 13th Streets. Man, am I glad I did! I walked around the two blocks, talked to the wonderful farmers, and made up a dish in my head. To be honest, it wasn’t that hard. As an Italian by roots, give me basil, garlic, and tomatoes and I can make just about anything. This time, I bought some “farm to table” Italian chicken sausage that looked delicious. Altogether, two servings of pasta cost me about $16. Yes, that’s $16 – the most expensive part? The $11 chicken sausage. I got two giant bushels of basil for $1.00! In the grocery store near me, that would have been $5.95 for a small portion of basil…. flabbergasted, absolutely.

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Farmer’s Market Thursdays Begin Today!

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Note: That handsome lad in the above picture with me is my boyfriend, Lu. Everybody say “Hello Lu!”

Farmer’s Markets are great ways to get fresh produce and other foods locally. This type of shopping reduces your carbon footprint, supports those around you and puts sustainable living in perspective! For me, talking to the farmers and seeing them so proud of their food is very uplifting. I love knowing how and where the food is farmed – not only do I learn, but I know that I’m supporting someone’s positive lifestyle. Plus, I find the taste of vegetables from naturally/organically grown Farmer’s Markets is much more flavorful!

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Butternut Squash Zucchini Pasta with Honey Roasted Walnuts and Goat Cheese

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I have some bad news and some good news. Let’s go with the bad news first: I started cooking last night and realized that my Canon camera’s battery was dead. The good news: I still managed to take pictures while cooking…. they’re just in Instagram filters. And more good news: I charged the camera while I cooked and I have a nice shot of the final product!

The inspiration for this dish is from a butternut squash ravioli with goat cheese dish I had when I first started eating dairy again, back in 2010 (after my two year vegan stint). My rendition is a little glammed up (hey, we’re eating zucchini instead of a ravioli, we can get a little fancy!) The savory, smooth goat cheese compliments the crunchy sweet walnuts perfectly and the butternut squash has hints of sweet cinnamon and garlic. Mmmm! The ribboned zucchini absorbs this sauce the best, since it is a bit of a chunkier sauce. This is a date night dish for sure…. sweet notes all around. I’ll keep perfecting it, but in the meantime – enjoy!

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Zucchini Pasta alla “Skinny Jeans” Vodka with Grilled Chicken

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When you think vodka sauce, you think vodka and cream, right? Well, fuggedaboutit! This skinnier version of vodka sauce goes fantastically with ribboned zucchini. You can leave out the Parmesan cheese to fit into those skinny jeans sooner, but it does add a good texture and flavor! How’d I get away with leaving out the cream and still get that pink sauce color? Greek yogurt! I sprung for the 2%, but you can use 0% if you’re THAT committed. I used Tito’s vodka, because that’s what I had in my freezer, but just make sure you use something in the $20+ range. Honestly, I think the flavor is better than the real deal!

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