I am so often faced with a bag of produce waiting to be used in my fridge. Something I thought I wanted when I was in the store and then the days start to pass, my tastes change and there it sits. I guess that happens when you are an unorganized shopper and shop without a list or recipes.
I finally gave up on my spinach salad and decided on this recipe. It was super easy and would be a great side to anything...steak, chicken, fish, etc.

Garlic Sauteed Spinach
Adapted from Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa Family Style
Serves 4

1 pound baby spinach leaves
1 1/2 Tablespoons good olive oil
1 1/2 Tablespoons chopped garlic (4 cloves)
pinch of kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 Tablespoon unsalted butter, optional
Sea salt, optional

Note: I made a few changes from the original recipe. Most importantly don't over salt. Make sure you use sea salt or kosher salt which is less "salty" than regular table salt. You can always add more salt at the end if needed.

Rinse the spinach well in cold water to make sure it's very clean. Spin it dry in a salad spinner, leaving just a little water clinging to the leaves.

In a very large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil and saute the garlic over medium heat for about 1 minute, but not until it's browned.

Add all the spinach, the salt, and pepper to the pot, toss it with the garlic and oil.

Cover the pot, and cook it for 2 minutes. Uncover the pot, turn the heat on high, and cook the spinach for another minute, stirring with a wooden spoon, until all the spinach is wilted. Using a slotted spoon, lift the spinach to a serving bowl and top with the butter, a squeeze of lemon, and a sprinkling of sea or kosher salt. Serve hot.




There is nothing better than fresh baked pita bread! I had a hard time getting pictures taken because as fast as I pulled them out of the oven they disappeared!

Pita Bread
Adapted from The Bread Bible, by Rose Levy Berenbaum, via here and here
Makes 8 to 12 pitas

16 ounces (3 cups plus a scant 1/4 cup) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/4 cups (10.4 ounces) water at room temperature

Mix all the ingredients on low in a standing mixer with a paddle attachment until combined, then switch to the dough hook and knead on medium for 7 minutes or until the dough is soft and smooth and the sides of the mixing bowl are clean. Add more water or flour if needed.

Place the dough in a bowl, greased with oil or cooking spray. Cover with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge overnight or up to 3 days. Punch down if it starts to rise during the first 4 hours.

Two hours before shaping take the dough out of the refrigerator and let come to room temperature.

The dough will start to rise to about double the size.

One hour before baking, put a cast iron skillet, baking stone, or baking sheet in the oven and preheat the oven to 475 degrees.

Cut the dough into 8 or 12 pieces. Cover the pieces and work one piece at a time. Shape into a ball and then pat into a disk shape. Cover w/ oiled plastic to rest for 20 min. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough 1/4" thick and allow to rest uncovered for 10 min.

Quickly place 1 piece of dough directly on the preheated baking stone, skillet, or baking sheet and bake for 3 minutes. The pita should be completely puffed, but not beginning to brown. The dough will not puff well if it is not moist enough. If necessary, spray each remaining piece with water and allow to rest 2 to 3 minutes before baking.

Between batches, allow the oven to reheat for 5 minutes. The pitas can be reheated for about 30 seconds in a hot oven before serving.




I have a new love...Crème de cassis. It is a blood-red, sweet, blackcurrant flavored liquor. I still love my Chambord and especially the Raspberry Chambord Sauce but this is a great alternative. This would be wonderful on a variety of desserts: cake, ice cream, brownies, cupcakes, waffles, name it!

I was reading about how blackberries have one of the highest fiber content known to plants. It is an aggregate fruit...meaning each little drupelet on the blackberry is like one small berry with one seed surrounded by extra skin and pectin resulting in the high fiber. Yes, I am trying to convince myself this sauce is healthy! ;)

Blackberry Cassis Sauce
10 ounces frozen or fresh blackberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 lemon juice, freshly squeezed
2 oz Cream de Cassis

Make the Blackberry Cassis Sauce:
In a pan, mix the blackberries, sugar and lemon juice on medium high heat.

Once bubbling, reduce to a simmer, stirring continuously and pressing on the berries to help breakdown for about 10 minutes or until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Take off heat and cool for 5 minutes. Add the Crème de cassis and cool to room temperature. Store in fridge. Makes about 2 cups of sauce. Keep refrigerated for up to a week or freeze for up to 4 months. Tastes best when cold.

I prefer my dessert sauces more "rustic" with seeds and pieces of fruit but I know some people don't, so if you want to remove the seeds from the sauce do so after it has cooled and before you add the Crème de cassis. Use a fine mesh strainer over a bowl and push the sauce through to remove the seeds.




My daughter and I made these for breakfast today...real healthy, I know but some days we endulge. They are super easy and quick to make. They don't even come close in taste compared to these but they also dont take hours/days to make! Would be perfect for Mother's Day brunch.

Adapted from Donna Hay Magazine, Issue 34
Serves 8

1/2 cup (110g) white sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 3/4 cups (260g) plain (all-purpose) flour, sifted
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup (70g) pitted and chopped dates
1/2 cup (125ml) heavy cream
1/2 cup (125ml) milk
3 Tablespoons butter

Note: I made these without the dates. I think these would also taste good with dried cranberries or raisins.

Preheat oven to 180°C (355°F). Combine the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg and set aside. Place the flour, baking powder and dates in a bowl and stir to combine. Make a well in the center, gradually add the cream and milk, stirring, until a soft dough forms. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic.

Roll out to a 12 x 14 inch rectangle.

Brush with butter and sprinkle with the sugar mixture, reserving 1 tablespoon.

Roll the dough (short end to short end) and slice into 8 pieces.

Place the dough rolls into individual muffin tins sprayed with non-stick spray. Brush the top of rolls with butter and sprinkle with reserved sugar.

Bake for 25 minutes or until cooked and lightly golden.




I love potatoes...I mean LOVE: new, russets, reds, fingerlings, yukon, you name it, I love it. And I love every possible way to make a potato: roasted, baked, mashed, smashed, whipped, grilled, fried, etc. So when my sister came to visit me last month she introduced me to the sweet potato. It's not that I don't know what a sweet potato is, it's just that my only experience is negative (it involves butter and small marshmallows...which in my opinion is just plain wrong and should only be in a rice krispies recipe!) Anyway, my sister made these roasted sweet potato wedges and I was pleasantly surprised to find them strangely addicting.

Sorry, these pictures are of the second baking pan I did and being a mother came in the way of being a cook; therefore, they are a little over-baked...still tasted delicious!

Roasted Sweet Potatoes Wedges- Clean Eating
Makes 4 to 6 servings

4 sweet potatoes
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon minced onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
parsley (optional)
dash red pepper (optional)

Note: I have also used Weber's Veggie Grill Seasoning (one of my favorite all-purpose seasonings)in place of the seasonings listed above.

Preheat oven to 425°F.
Cut potatoes lengthwise into 1/2-inch wedges.

Space the wedges in a single layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with seasonings.

Roast in middle of oven for 20 minutes. Turn wedges over with a spatula and roast for about 15 to 20 minutes more until tender, golden and slightly caramelized.

Note: Sweet potatoes are not as crisp as regular potatoes when roasted, they are soft and will be more caramelized.

Guess who moved into my back yard...

a big fat ground hog.




This is my new favorite cake...seriously, the best! I made it for my dad's birthday and I am thinking this will probably be what I make for this little guy's first birthday coming up so soon...I can't believe it.

Note: The recipe calls for two 9-inch round cake pans but being I made this as a birthday cake and I of course needed to sample (every good baker does); I instead used two 7-inch round pans and a cupcake pan for 6. I gave him the 7-inch round cake and kept the 6 cupcakes for sampling purposes!
Baked the 7-inch rounds for about 38 minutes and the cupcakes for about 18 minutes at 325 degrees. The quantity from the frosting recipe works perfect, either way (two 9-inch pans or two 7-inch with 6 cupcakes).

Also the cream of coconut can be found at liquor stores. It is commonly used when making pina coladas. The smallest amount I could find on Amazon is a 12 pack of Coco Lopez Cream of Coconut, you can find it here. That would be just right for one coconut cake per month! ;)

The Best Coconut Cake
Adapted From The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook, Coconut Layer Cake
Serves 10-12

2 1/4 cups (9 ounces) cake flour
3/4 cup cream of coconut (available at liquor stores)
5 large egg whites plus 1 large egg, room temperature
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon coconut extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (7 ounces)granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon table salt
12 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces and softened

2 Tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon coconut extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch table salt
16 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup cream of coconut
3 cups (12 ounces)confectioner's (powdered) sugar
2 cups sweetened shredded coconut

Make the cake:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and line with parchment paper two 9-inch round cake pans.

I love my egg separator!

Whisk together cream of coconut, egg whites, whole egg, water and extracts. Set aside.

In a standing mixer with a paddle attachment, slowly mix together flour, granulated sugar, baking powder and salt until combined. Increase the speed to medium and add the butter one piece at a time. Adding a new piece about every 3 seconds.

Keep mixing for a minute or two, until the mixture resembles a moist crumb.

Add 1/2 cup of the wet (egg/coconut cream) mixture to the dry (flour/ butter) mixture and beat on medium speed for about 1 minute. Reduce speed to low and add the rest of the wet mixture to the dry mixture and beat just until combined and forms a nice batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for about 30-35 minutes.

Cool pans on wire rack for about 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge to loosen cake. Invert on wire rack, peel of parchment paper and flip right side up. (At this point I usually stick the cakes in the freezer to cool them down because I am extremely impatient. However, you can let them cool for about an hour on your counter top if you have patience. Obviously, you don't want to frost the cake when it is warm because the frosting will melt.

Make the Frosting:
Stir together the cream, extracts and salt in a small bowl.

In a standing mixer with a whisk attachment, beat the butter and cream of coconut on medium-high for about 30 seconds. Reduce speed to low and slowly add the confectioner's sugar and continue beating until smooth. Add the cream/extracts/salt and beat medium-high until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.
My daughter's favorite part...

Toast the Coconut:
Set oven to 325 degrees and sprinkle the coconut flakes onto a baking sheet, in a single layer.

Toast, stirring and checking frequently for about 6-10 minutes. It can burn really easy so keep an eye on it. Take it out right when it starts to turn golden brown.

Decorate the Cake:
Set one cake on a cake plate. You can line the edges of a plate with waxed paper strips to keep from getting frosting on the cake if you want, or just be careful not to get frosting to close to the bottom of the cake.

Spread about 1 cup of frosting on the first layer, right up to the edges of the cake.

Set the other cake layer on top and frost with the remaining frosting all over the top and sides.

Sprinkle toasted coconut on the top and press it on the sides of the cake and if you are lucky enough to have cupcakes too sprinkle a little toasted coconut on top.




I swear I eat like a preschooler...always have and I guess I probably always will. I go on these wicked food jags for weeks...sometimes months! Currently, I am obsessed with...BACON! This is a first and is so strange to me. Usually it's something like ice cream or peanut butter or chocolate but bacon...I don't taste buds must be changing or something, maybe maturing! :)
Anyway, here is another recipe with chicken and bacon that I found completely satisfying and super easy to make!

Parmesan Chicken Breast With Crispy Bacon
Adapted from Jamie Oliver's Parmesan Chicken Breast With Crispy Posh Ham
Serves 2

2 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 skinless chicken breast fillets, preferably free-range or organic
Freshly ground black pepper
1 ¼ ounces grated Parmesan
4 slices of bacon

Note: Jamie uses 6 slices of prosciutto in place of the bacon and he also uses the zest of 1 lemon.

Grate your Parmesan and pick the thyme leaves off the stalks.

Cover the chicken with plastic wrap and take a heavy pan or a meat tenderizer and smack the chicken breasts until they are nice and even, about 1/2 inch thick.
Season chicken breasts with a little pepper and thyme.

Sprinkle on the Parmesan.

(Note: I used the lemon zest but both my husband and I thought it would be better without, so next time I will be omitting it. If you want to use it now is the time. Sprinkle the zest of one lemon on top of the Parmesan.)
Lay 2 bacon slices on each chicken breast. Sprinkle with the remaining thyme leaves.

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Carefully transfer the chicken breasts, bacon side down, into the pan. Cook for 3-4 minutes, flip to other side and cook for 3-4 minutes and then flip again. Finish with the bacon side down, giving it extra time to crisp up (couple minutes).




I have recently discovered that I love chocolate cookies (not a good thing)! You see, I am badly addicted to chocolate, um...and sugar. When I try to quit one food addiction another one fills in. For the time being, I am trying to quit my ice cream addiction which I have had for the past 4 months and I am doing really good (especially, when I have an abundance of cookies to fill the void)! ;)
I think one thing that makes chocolate cookies even better is adding dried cherries. I love biting into all that rich chocolate and then getting a little taste of a tart cherry. These cookies are good with or without the dried cherries.

Thick and Chewy Triple Chocolate Cookies
Adapted From The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook
Makes about 42 cookies

2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
16 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons instant coffee or espresso powder
10 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed (10 1/2 ounces) light brown sugar
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces)granulated sugar
2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips (optional)
2 cups dried tart cherries (optional)

If your butter is not softened, set it out on the counter and slice into little pieces so it can soften faster.

Whisk the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl; set aside.

Melt the 16 ounces of chocolate in the microwave at 50% power stirring every 30 seconds or over a double boiler.

Whisk the eggs and vanilla together in a bowl. Sprinkle instant coffee/espresso powder on top and set aside.

Beat the butter and sugars together for about 45 seconds. Add the egg mixture. Add the melted chocolate in a steady stream and continue mixing for another 45 seconds. Scrape down bowl with a rubber spatula.

Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until just combined. Add the chocolate chips and the dried tart cherries if using.

Over the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit on the counter for about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Scoop cookie dough out using a 2 Tablespoon cookie scoop. Space them 1 1/2 inches apart on baking sheet.

Bake for 10 minutes.

Note: As with all chocolate baked goods...they taste 100 x's better the next day!




I love these cookies, probably my favorite. In fact, they are so good that I baked them for the surgeon who did my son's ear surgery...a little bribery never hurt!
The best thing about this recipe is you melt the butter. Not having to wait for the butter to soften is a wonderful thing for an impatient person!
This recipe is really close to another recipe I posted here but its just a little bit better!

The Best Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted From The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook
Makes about 18 large cookies

2 cups plus 2 Tablespoons (10 2/3 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 Tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup packed (7 ounces) brown sugar
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (9 ounces) chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk the flour, baking soda and salt together.

In a separate bowl beat the cooled melted butter and the sugars until smooth. Add the egg, egg yolk and vanilla and beat for another 30 seconds. Scrape down the bowl.

Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until combined. Add the chocolate chips.

Use a large cookie scoop (about 3 Tablespoons)...I love mine from Pampered Chef and scoop the dough onto prepared baking sheets, spacing 2 1/2 inches apart.

Bake 15 to 18 minutes.



One shot glass! That is all I managed to scrape out of the bowl this morning to take a picture. I have learned my lesson, I need to take a picture of what I make before I put it to its doom in the fridge. It seems my husband and some unnamed culprits had at my salsa during the night but so kindly left me remnants to fill one shot glass. Oh well, I guess there's the proof I need that its good salsa!


8 Roma tomatoes, halved
1 jalapeno, halved
olive oil
1 medium sweet onion, coarsely chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 lime, juiced
cilantro, handful, chopped
sugar (optional, if you want it a little sweeter)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with tin foil. Place the tomato halves and jalapeno halves skin side up on the baking sheet and drizzle with a little olive oil.

Roast for about 15 minutes or until the jalapeno is blackened and the tomato skins are peeling.

Once tomatoes have cooled enough to handle, peel off the skins. I prefer my salsa mild so I de-seed one jalapeno half. If I am making it for my husband I leave all the seeds in and it still isn't hot enough for him.

Once the tomatoes and jalapenos are cool add to a food processor and add the onion, garlic and cilantro.

Pulse a few times until desired consistency.
Squeeze 1/2 lime over the salsa and season with salt and pepper. Pulse one last time.
Keep refrigerated and give it a few hours for all the flavors to blend.



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