Friday, June 28, 2013

Grown Up Pasta Salad

Whenever July 4th comes along I always think of it as the kick off of the beach season.  In high school this is when I would pack up my car and drive down to Avalon on a Friday night staying at one my friends' homes that they had rented for the summer.  I was pretty lucky that on most weeks there was someone who had a house there.  Growing up as a kid, we would go to Avalon as a family too.  We'd rent a big house usually with my aunt and uncle and cousins.  Every morning we'd traditionally wake up to a grease stained bag of Kohler's donuts.  No matter where I get a doughnut,  no cream doughnut will ever live up to Kohler's donuts.

Later in life, I've transplanted my family in Boston.  I've quickly fallen in love with everything up here.  Last year was our first time spending time on the Cape and I loved the old classic charm of it.  It was so quaint and everywhere you went there were little towns and small donuts shops too.  My favorite things to get on the Cape are chocolate covered cranberries.  They are unbelievable.   The tart cranberry with a milk chocolate and also, that I found out by badgering the lady with questions, a hint of orange in it too.  When we vacationed in Nantucket for a week, I went through probably five full bags of these goodies.

This summer, we are going to Martha's Vineyard for a week, the rival island.  One anticipated spot may have doughnuts that will help satisfy my Kohler's doughnut cravings.  It's a small little place called Back Door Donuts that only sells doughnuts late into the evening.  The best part is that they come straight out of the fryer.  If you have never had a doughnut straight out of the fryer I suggest you run to this place to have one.  You will of died and gone to heaven.

Well, with all this greasy doughnut talk, what recipe would be better to counter balance our crazing than a lovely salad. I know...I'm disappointed too.  Today, I'm featuring a grown up spin on the typical pasta salads of your childhood.  No, it doesn't have alcohol in it, but it will be delicious none the less.  

Hope everyone has a great July 4th holiday!

Grown Up Pasta Salad

12 ounces of dried penne pasta (about 4 cups cook) 
2 cups cherry tomatoes quartered
1 medium cucumber, skinned, seeds removed, and diced into cubes
1 medium red onion diced
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons of chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons of chopped fresh oregano
4-6 cloves of garlic minced
kosher salt to taste
fresh cracked pepper to taste
1 cup of crumbled feta cheese (4 oz)

Cook pasta according to instructions.  I tend to leave mine a bit toothy but it's up to your preference.   Strain and place in colander in a ice bath to cool down. 

In a small bowl mix lemon juice, minced garlic, oregano, basil and olive oil until combined.

In a separate bowl combine chopped vegetables and toss to mix.  Add cooled pasta and toss until mixed.  Coat with the lemon juice olive oil mixture.  Top with crumbled feta cheese. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Make sure to not add feta cheese until the pasta is completely cooled.  You can cool the mixture without feta for two hours prior to serving then add feta right before guests arrive.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Shrimp on the Barbie

KO Pies
Hello Sunday Supper People!  After thoroughly neglecting this blog for practically the entire month of June, I have come back with a fabulous recipe for this upcoming Sunday supper.  Last week Jason and I tried this Australian meat pie shop in Southie.  It was f-a-b-u-l-o-u-s.  If you have never had a meat pie, I highly suggest it.  It is very popular drunk food in Australia.  I would get a nice beef meat pie over mushy peas.  Delicious.  Well, I'm not featuring a meat pie. Sorry to disappoint you.  I suggest buying one of these nice pastry delights from a shop that makes them.  Some things are better left to the pros so I would never attempt to replicate them. 

Sharp Girls,
one summer many years ago
Instead of meat pie goodness, I want to recreate another dish we had there.  Get ready for the horrible Australian cliche...we had some shrimp on the barbie. So fellow Sunday chefs, this weeks recipe is Shrimp on the Barbie!  This will be perfect for all those Fourth of July cookouts.  It's simple and healthy too.  Healthy shrimp means more room for flag cake and chips and dip!

Tomorrow, we will be featuring a great salad to serve them over as a part of our Friday Summertime Salad Series


Shrimp on the Barbie!

Raw Jumbo shrimp (fresh, thawed from frozen) 10 to 15 count

Shrimp on the Barbie
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup canned sweetened coconut cream
1/4 cup pineapple juice
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 good shake hot sauce

Combine all ingredients for the marinade.  Skewer the shrimp on soaked wooden skewers.  Place in the marinade for 2 hours, flipping occasionally.

Place on a hot grill and cook until just pink.  

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Taste of the Keys

First off let me say this blogging thing is hard in the summer.  With nonstop trips and activities and work amping up at the same time, we have unfortunately been neglecting our pet project.  But our lack of attention has all been over fun things so really no complaints here.  

The Newlyweds!
One fun excursion was David's and my trip to Key West last week to see our good friends get married.  It was an absolute blast!  The bride was gorgeous, the vows were touching and the booze was flowing.  All a wonderful combination that results in a memorable wedding. 

 Also, there is no shortage of a party scene in Key West so, even though we managed to stay up to 1am only one night, we still had a ridiculous amount of fun.  Although now I am so tired I need a vacation after my vacation.  

One dish that the Keys are known for is obviously the Key Lime Pie.  Although it comes in many versions, my personal favorite is one that has a graham cracker crust.  The tangy lime filling is a perfect end to your next summer barbeque.  I found this one on the Martha Stewart website so I think we can trust this will be delicious:

Key Lime Pie


  • 1 1/2 cups graham-cracker crumbs
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 5 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 can (14 ounces) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed key-lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon grated Key lime zest, plus more for garnish
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, chilled
Key Lime Pie 
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Combine graham-cracker crumbs, butter, and 3 tablespoons sugar in a medium bowl; mix well. Press into a 9-inch pie plate, and bake until lightly browned, about 12 minutes. Remove from oven, and transfer to a wire rack until completely cooled.

Lower oven to 325 degrees. In a medium bowl, gently whisk together condensed milk, egg yolks, Key lime juice, and zest. Pour into the prepared, cooled crust.

Return pie to oven, and bake until the center is set but still quivers when the pan is nudged, 15 to 17 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

Monday, June 17, 2013


I'm back people! After a nice week long vacation in Spain all I'm thinking about is my next vacation!  I'll write more details on the trip later this week.  It was full of delicious food and wonderful weather (ugh, I want to go back now).  I thought today I'd talk about a favorite past time of my dad's, seeing as Father's Day was yesterday.  I'll start with a bit of back story.

As a kid, I was kind of weird.  I used to like to tape record myself doing impressions and play them over and over again to annoy my sisters.  One of my favorite people to mimic was Jim Carrey.  When I was around ten the movie "The Mask" came out.  I automatically tried to mimic the "Smoking!" tag line to play over and over and over again.  There are probably still tapes of me doing these silly voices.  Now looking back at this creepy picture of Jim Carrey, I wonder how I didn't get nightmares....

What this has to do with my dad is when we were in high school my dad got fascinated with smoked meats.  So much so that he had to get this Big Green Egg smoker thing.  This thing was HUGE!  Katie, my mom, and I had to go drive to pick this thing up.  Poor Katie had to sit in the trunk of our SUV straddling it so it didn't roll and crash.  Many summer nights my dad would strap on his smoking shirt, a green flannel shirt, and smoke up some meats.  Whether it was chicken or pork, it was always delicious.  Except that one year at Christmas where we had the black lung inducing ribs.. but we can forget that one incident....

Hope you all had a 'Smoking!' Father's Day with your dad!


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Fish Tacos with Lime-Cilantro Crema (Healthy Version)
Favorite Bar in Key West!
Things are about to get awkward.  Meaning I am going to shamelessly gloat about where I am going next week and consequently you'll be sent into fits of jealous rage (I kid of course).  You see this time next week I will frolicking, drink in hand of course, in Key West, FL.  For those of you who haven't been there before let me explain.  Key West brings together in perfect harmony tropical weather, small town cuteness and rich history (Hemingway...hello?), all with a strong emphasis on boozing and having a good time.  Leave your heels at home ladies because walking along Duval Street is for flip flops only.  This will be my fourth time there so I am speaking from experience here.  David's and my good friends are getting married in Key West next Friday and, as you can tell, we are beyond excited!   

Southernmost Point 2012
Since Key West seems to be about the only thing on my mind these days, I figured we would also bring some southernmost point flare into the weekly recipe as well.  I absolutely love fish tacos so when I saw this recipe I decided to make it this week's edition due to the lime flavor.  Get it?  Key Lime?  Am I reaching here or what?  Nevertheless, I think this will be a fresh and new summer recipe for us to try.  Plus, I have modified it to make it diet friendly which is always a plus in my book.

Happy Cooking!

Fish Tacos with Lime-Cilantro Crema

Photo Credit -
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro 
  • 3 tablespoons plain greek yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream 
  • 1 teaspoon grated lime rind 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lime juice 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 garlic clove, minced  
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 pounds mahi mahi or any firm white fish
  • Cooking spray 
  • 8 (6-inch) corn tortillas
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  1. Preheat oven to 425°.  Or preheat your grill to medium.
  2. To prepare crema, combine the first 8 ingredients in a small bowl; set aside.
  3. To prepare tacos, combine cumin and next 5 ingredients (through garlic powder) in a small bowl; sprinkle spice mixture evenly over both sides of fish. Place fish on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 425° for 9 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness. You can also cook the fish on the grill if available (this is probably what I will do).  Place fish in a bowl; break into pieces with a fork. Heat tortillas according to package directions. Divide fish evenly among tortillas; top each with 1/4 cup cabbage and 1 tablespoon crema.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Family Barbecue Side Dish

One of the best things about summer is all of the outdoor time.  Whether you're spending it being active or simply eating outdoors, there is nothing like being in a pair of shorts feeling the sun on your face.  This Sunday, David and I spent time with his family at a family barbeque (barbecue?) celebrating Sara's (my sister-in-law) and Michael's (my brother-in-law) birthdays.  The weather was perfect for outdoor eating so we took advantage and dined al fresco.  With the new addition of our 2 month old niece Mackenzie, I'd say this family event was a perfect ending to the weekend.  

Introducing Mackenzie!

Not only was the company great, but the food was delicious too.  One dish I wanted to highlight was the German potato salad brought by Lisa, my other sister-in-law.  David quickly staked his claim on the leftovers and demanded I get the recipe from Lisa.  Well, she was kind enough to share and I thought I would pay it forward by showcasing it here.  This is definitely something that can be made ahead of time and brought to share.  But good luck deciding who gets to take home the leftovers (if there are any!)

Authentic German Potato Salad
serves 8

Photo Credit -
  • 6 cups diced peeled potatoes
  • 8 slices of bacon
  • 2 small onions, diced
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water 
  • 1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons white sugar 
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley 
  1. Place the potatoes into a pot, and fill with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, and cook for about 10 minutes, or until easily pierced with a fork. Drain, and set aside to cool.
  2. Place the bacon in a large deep skillet over medium-high heat. Fry until browned and crisp, turning as needed. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  3. Add onion to the bacon grease, and cook over medium heat until browned. Add the vinegar, water, sugar, salt and pepper to the pan. Bring to a boil, then add the potatoes and parsley. Crumble in half of the bacon. Heat through, then transfer to a serving dish. Crumble the remaining bacon over the top, and serve warm.

P.S. Jen is back from Spain on Thursday to regale us with her adventures and maybe even a meal or two!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Hong Kong --> Boston --> Houston --> Barcelona --> Philadelphia... Whew I'm Exhausted

Boston Strong
Jen and I have had a collective smattering of globe trotting over the past couple of weeks.  Granted (as I say with just a hint of jealousy) I've been covering the domestic portion of our travels.  Still it feels like we are going nonstop with no end is sight.  But as I like to say to myself when I start my belly-aching, get a real problem.  Last weekend, David and I made the trip to Boston to visit Jen, Katie and Jason.  These occasions are so rare when all three of us are together, husbands in tow, that the silliness and incessant picture taking was at an all time high. 

One highlight of the trip, aside from the company itself, was the amazing food we were able to eat all weekend long.  Friday night started at the legendary North End Italian spot, Giacamo's.  The line is literally out the door on any given night so we did the only logical thing, bought adult beverages at the corner store to help pass the wait.  Well let me tell you, we did not wait in vain because this was hands down the best Italian meal I've ever eaten.  I've visited this place before with Jen and Jason but David was equally blown away. 

John Haaaavard
Saturday night's meal was at an open air restaurant near Beacon Hill called the Tip Tap Room.  Unbeknownst to me or David, Boston is known for their steak tips.  Here I thought it was their Sam Adams brews and propensity to drop the 'R' in any and all words (ex: paak the caaa aka park the car).  Once again, the meal was fantastic and perfectly complimented with any of the many beers they had on tap.  Hence the name Tip Tap Room. 

Sunday, I broke new ground by pushing my limits and trying what I affectionately call 'street meat'.  A more accurate description would be that I finally tried, and thoroughly enjoyed in fact, a meal from a food truck.  Every Sunday from April until October, Jen and Jason live one block from the SOWA outdoor market.  While you will find the usual homemade hippy soap and burlap sack paintings, you'll also stumble upon an entire parking lot of dining car selections.  I figured I would start off small and go with a chicken gyro.  This was delicious.  The tzatziki was tangy and the chicken was fresh.  A perfect way to break me in.   

The restaurants, the market, the parks, the clean streets... these are all reasons why I continue to and David has (it was his first time there) truly fallen in love with Boston.  We had an amazing weekend and cannot wait to go up again.