Tuscan barley dinner

This was actually the first time I’ve ever had barley.

I heard it was similar to rice – but with a heartier texture, nuttier taste, and a decent amount of protein. Sounds like a carb I could get used to.

However, I didn’t really know what to pair it with. I searched online for some recipes, but nothing really jumped out at me. Since a plain carb is somewhat of a blank canvas I decided to liven it up with sausage, peas, onions, and cheese – as if it were a pasta dish.

The result was absolutely delicious & super filling! My husband and I practically licked our plates clean, and I’m definitely looking forward to making this again.

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Spicy lemon baked shrimp

It’s been a while since I’ve eaten (let alone cooked) seafood.

I was really craving flounder fillet… maybe broiled with some lemon, butter, and parsley…  but when I got to the fish market, these jumbo shrimp just caught my eye. They were huge.

I needed to buy them and eat them for dinner ASAP.

That broiled flounder does sound delicious, though. There’s always next time 🙂

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Mediterranean chick pea salad

My mother always says I’m like my grandmother because I have a sweet tooth and a knack for making killer salads. She was known for eating a pack of kitkat bars for dinner, but could seriously jazz up any entrĂ©e with an amazing salad.

Sure, salads aren’t a difficult thing to make. Many of them don’t even require cooking of any sort. But when one is composed of the perfect combination of veggies, a tangy dressing, and spices that brighten up the dish – it can truly be something wonderful.

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Tex-Mex turkey stuffed peppers

September is drawing near a close, and the first full month of school is almost over. The mornings and evenings are becoming more brisk, and soon enough we will have true autumn weather.

Autumn is definitely my favorite season. I love the colors of all the leaves, the cooler (but not too cold) weather, apple and pumpkin picking, hot apple cider – the list can go on and on. But the BEST thing about the weather getting cooler is eating hearty, stick-to-your-ribs comfort food. That’s right – the warmer weather is on its way out, and its time for me to start turning the oven on once more.

This dish is the perfect segue between light summery meals and autumn comfort. You still get to eat a low-carb meal that incorporates beautiful peppers and a good deal of tex-mex heat, while the filling is hearty and cheesy.

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Lemon chicken stew

Unfortunately, kids have germs. And now that I’m teaching again, I’m surrounded by kids. Welcome to my first upset stomach of the school year.

Whenever I’m having tummy troubles, I eat chicken soup for lunch and dinner. But I HATE most canned soups – they have practically no flavor and barely any chicken. I prefer to make my own in the crock pot – it’s relatively little prep, I can add a substantial amount of protein, and I can season it the way I want to.

My favorite type of chicken soup is Greek Avgolemono. There’s something about lemon and chicken that pairs so well together. I love that the soup is thick, almost like a stew.

I decided to make this lemony chicken stew as a spinoff of standard chicken noodle soup and greek avgolemono soup. I kick it up a notch with some Italian dressing seasoning, two different kinds of pepper, and some protein pasta. It’s soothing enough to heal a troubled tummy but tasty enough to eat when you’re feeling great.

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Italian sausage & pepper burgers

I love a good hamburger from the grill, but lately I’ve been getting bored by the standard burger. I’ve been switching things up a bit – occasionally I’ll make chicken burgers instead of beef, I’ll experiment with different cheeses, and I’ve done pretty well with trying a variety of toppings. I’ve gone from the staples of lettuce, tomato, and pickles to pulled pork, hot peppers, and fried eggs.

The other day I found sweet Italian sausage patties in the grocery store and I just had to grab them. It’s been a long time since I’ve had sausage & peppers (one of my favorite comfort foods), and I was determined to turn one of my favorites into a burger. I decided to kick things up a notch by giving my burgers some classic garlic bread buns.

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Backyard BBQ coleslaw

As the month of August approaches its end, I’ve been trying to squeeze in as much outdoor time and BBQ fun as I possibly can.

A typical American BBQ usually has the same side salads over and over again – potato salad, coleslaw, macaroni salad, etc. – all of which are dressed in mayonnaise. Unfortunately, mayo is one of the only foods that I really hate. So when I go to BBQ’s, I end up eating burgers and wings with no side dish, except for maybe corn on the cob. Lame!

I love those classic BBQ sides when they are dressed in a vinaigrette rather than all that mayonnaise goop. It’s just so much lighter and more refreshing – not to mention much healthier and fewer calories. This coleslaw recipe is definitely one of my go-to’s when I’m having a BBQ.

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Spicy chick peas & zucchini noodles

I’ve been all about farmer’s markets this summer. There are a few that run weekly fairly close by, and I’ve been making it a point to go and load up on freshly grown produce (among other things).

I prefer to eat a bit lighter during the summertime. Maybe it’s because it’s hot out, or that I’m sweaty, or not as hungry – who knows. But I always see summer as the opportune time to start taking healthy eating a little more seriously and to add a hefty amount of fruits & veggies to my diet.

I have been buying a ton of zucchini. It’s pretty versatile, and can be prepared in a lot of different ways – all of them delicious, and all of them super filling.

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Onion & green chile shredded pork

Using my slow cooker over the summer has to be one of my favorite things – it makes each meal simple, I can run errands without worry while my food cooks, and it doesn’t heat up the house like the oven would.

With that being said, not everything tastes great coming out of a slow cooker. To quote one of my former students, everything his mom made in the crockpot “tastes like dried butt”. That’s not what I’m going for.

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Fresh herb pasta salad

As of late, the heat and humidity in New York has been unbearable. I usually eat hot food for dinner, but over the past two weeks I’ve been making a lot of different side salads to avoid heating up my house with the oven on. This version of pasta salad uses fresh basil and lemon thyme from the garden, which is a complete game changer. You just don’t get the same punch of flavor from dried herbs as you do with fresh ones.

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