Salad Obsession – Jamie Oliver’s Everyday Green Chop

I had my cousin Hillary and her fiancé John over for dinner on Sunday and spent Saturday night watching Game of Thrones and flipping through cookbooks to menu plan. I love reading cookbooks. I had honestly forgotten how much. I get so programmed to look at blogs or the Food Network or Epicurious that I forget about my good ole cookbooks. I was perusing Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution and The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. I ended up selecting recipes from both, but the clear winner at dinner was the Everyday Green Chopped Salad. I think I am going to need to eat this salad at least once weekly for the forseeable future. So. fricking. good. It’s the perfect combination of crunch and vinegar and avocado.

Everyday Green Chopped Salad – courtesy of Jamie Oliver


  • 1 head butter lettuce
  • 2 avocados, diced
  • 4 green onions (both white and green parts)
  • 1/2 cucumber, peeled and sliced
  • handful basil, sliced
  • freshly shaved parmesan
  • 3T olive oil
  • 1T red wine vinegar
  • 1t Dijon mustard
  • salt & pepper


  • Wash and roughly chop lettuce and put in a large bowl
  • After you’ve cut up the green onions, cucumber, basil, put them together and roughly chop up some more
  • Toss with the lettuce and coat well with dressing
  • Finish with fresh shaved parmesan

Serves 4

Total Cook Time – 20 minutes

This salad is perfect to serve with a lighter dinner, like halibut or salmon. Definitely worthy of guests. I served with Jamie Oliver’s Crunchy Garlic Chicken, Sauteed Asparagus, and Smitten Kitchen’s Roasted Potato and Carrot Coins.






Easy Weeknight Bolognese

Yo! I’ve been a little lazy about posting with the holidays, but hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas if you celebrate! I haven’t been cooking too much this past week and by yesterday, I was dying for a Sunday dinner that was made by me. I’ve been doing Ina Garten’s Easy Weeknight Bolognese for the past few years, one of my favorite hearty pasta dishes and exactly what I felt like last night. There are so many recipes for Bolognese out there and most of them are very labor and time intensive, which is why I love this one. So flavorful and delicious, yet takes less than an hour.

Good enough to make for guests too! I had my friend Nicole and her 2 boys over last night. None of our boys were impressed with the sauce, they all ate plain pasta. Bo-ring! Nicole and I both had seconds.

Weeknight Bolognese from Barefoot Contessa’s How Easy is That


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound lean grass-fed ground beef
  • 4 teaspoons minced garlic (roughly 5 cloves)
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/4 cups dry red wine, divided – I used a Cabernet and it was amazing, so rich in flavor, plus there was extra to drink!
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, or a 24-ounce BPA free box of San Marzano tomatoes –  I used the 24-ounce BPA-free box of San Marzao tomatoes, and it’s the same as using a 28-ounce can.
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons fine kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 box dried orecchiette pasta
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, lightly packed
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving


Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large (12-inch) skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and cook, crumbling the meat with a wooden spoon, for 5 to 7 minutes, until the meat has lost its pink color and has started to brown. Stir in the garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes and cook for 1 more minute. Pour 1 cup of the wine into the skillet and stir to scrape up any browned bits. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper, stirring until combined. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil, add a tablespoon of salt, a splash of oil, and the pasta, and cook according to the directions on the box, usually 11 minutes.

While the pasta cooks, finish the sauce. Add the nutmeg, basil, cream, and the remaining 1/4 cup wine to the sauce and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until thickened. When the pasta is cooked, drain and pour into a large serving bowl. Add the sauce and 1/2 cup Parmesan and toss well. Serve hot with Parmesan on the side.

Leftover Masterpiece – Pappardelle with Peperonata & Chicken Meatballs

I am not a creative cook, by any means. I follow recipes. I leave the recipe creation to people who have actual talent, like Ina Garten or Tyler Florence or Deb Perelman. Once in awhile, however, I happen upon a creation of my own and this week’s is worth tooting my horn. Toot toot!

It started with leftovers from the Pi Phi Christmas Party, I had a good amount of baked chicken meatballs and pureed peperonata in my refrigerator and I thought to myself, “Self, this would be darn tasty served over some pasta”. Well, I was right. I boiled up some pappardelle, tossed it all together and topped with grated pecorino romano. It was a little bowl of heaven. So nice to have a change of pace from a typical red sauce and the peperonata is flavorful, colorful and just delicious.

Pappardelle with Peperonata & Chicken Meatballs

Chicken Meatballs (adapted slightly from Smitten Kitchen)

  • 3 slices Italian bread, torn into small bits (1 cup)
  • 1/3 cup milk 3 ounces sliced pancetta, finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 400°F with a rack in the upper third of the oven. Soak bread in milk in a small bowl until softened, about four minutes.

Cook pancetta, onion, and garlic in one tablespoon oil with 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a large skillet over medium heat until onion is softened, about 6 minutes. Cool slightly.

Squeeze bread to remove excess milk, then discard milk. Lightly beat egg in a large bowl, then combine with chicken, 1 tablespoon tomato paste, pancetta mixture, bread, 1/2 t salt and parsley. Form 12 meatballs and arrange in a 4-sided sheet pan (I used a 9×13 roasting dish).

Bake in upper third of oven until meatballs are just cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes (though mine took a good 5 minutes longer).

Peperonata (adapted from Martha Stewart Living & Epicurious)

  • 3 large bell peppers, preferably 1 each orange, yellow, red – cut into strips
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch strips
  • 1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
  • pinch sugar
  • 1 teaspoon red-wine vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
  • salt & pepper

Heat oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and onions, and cook for about 2 minutes. Add pepper strips and sugar, and toss for 2 to 3 minutes. Cover pan, and turn heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until peppers are very soft, 30 to 35 minutes.

Remove cover; raise heat to medium. Stir in vinegar, red pepper flakes, sugar, salt & pepper. Cook stirring often, until most of the liquid evaporates and peppers are nicely glazed, about 3 minutes. Add a little water, if necessary, to avoid scorching.

Let it cool a little and then throw it in the food processor to puree completely, so there are no large chunks. Boil 120z Pappardelle.

You can add the meatballs and sauce back into a pan to heat. Serve over pasta with fresh grated parmesan or pecorino romano. Deeeeeeelish.

Smitten Kitchen Meatballs & Spaghetti

Today wasn’t the best day. But we all have those, right? My bf Jen suggested I throw myself into a cooking project and that sounded like just the ticket. I asked Oliver what he wanted to eat, because the worst is when I do one of these projects and he won’t touch it. He said pasta. OK! Pasta it is! I wanted to make something I hadn’t made before and looked to one of my food inspirations, Smitten Kitchen. I settled on Meatballs and Spaghetti and spent the last 1.5 hours chopping, hand-rolling and pan-frying meatballs and making marinara. I absolutely love to cook as it is so soothing/relaxing. I am not a meditator. My brain doesn’t shut down. This is the closest I get.

Deb Perelman (aka Smitten Kitchen) adapted her recipe from Ina Garten and I just straight up copied Deb’s version. I like to trust those who know how to get it done, rather than experimenting. It was soooooo good. A little time consuming to make the meatballs, but well worth it! Smitten Kitchen never does me wrong.

Meatballs and Spaghetti – Smitten Kitchen (Adapted liberally from Ina Garten)

Serves 6

For the meatballs:

  • 1/2 pound ground veal
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 1/4 cups fresh white bread crumbs (about 5 slices, crusts removed)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 extra-large egg, beaten
  • Vegetable oil and Olive oil

For the sauce:

  • 2 tablespoon good olive oil
  • 2 cup chopped yellow onion (1 large onion)
  • 3 teaspoons minced garlic
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup good red wine
  • 1 (28-ounce) can pureed tomatoes
  • 1 (28-ounce) can chopped or diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For serving: 1 1/2 pounds spaghetti, cooked according to package directions. Freshly grated Parmesan

Make the meatballs: Place the ground meats, bread crumbs, parsley, Parmesan, salt, pepper, onion powder, egg, and 3/4 cup warm water in a bowl. Combine very lightly with a fork. Using your hands, lightly form the mixture into 2-inch meatballs. You will have 14 to 16 meatballs. (Or perhaps 24, which is what I ended up with. I’m sorry I cannot give you a more precise measure; I am sure your amount will fall somewhere in the middle.)

Pour equal amounts of vegetable oil and olive oil into a large (12-inch) skillet to a depth of 1/4-inch. Heat the oil. Very carefully, in batches, place the meatballs in the oil and brown them well on all sides over medium-low heat, turning carefully with a spatula or a fork. This should take about 10 minutes for each batch. Don’t crowd the meatballs. Remove the meatballs to a plate covered with paper towels. Discard the oil but don’t clean the pan.

Make the sauce: Heat the olive oil in the same pan. Add the onion and saute over medium heat until translucent, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook for 1 more minute. Add the wine and cook on high heat, scraping up all the brown bits in the pan, until almost all the liquid evaporates, about 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, parsley, salt, and pepper.

Return the meatballs to the sauce, cover, and simmer on the lowest heat for 25 to 30 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through. (The good news is that if, say, you’re still waiting for your pot of water to boil for the spaghetti when the meatballs are ready, it’s hard to overcook these. I ended up simmering ours a whole extra 20 to 30 minutes, and they were not in the least dried out. Heaven!)

Serve hot on cooked spaghetti and pass the grated Parmesan.