EPIC Tapas Time!

Yesterday I presented a few very special Spanish wines,
and now, here are the TAPAS to pair with them!


Halve your figs and place a dollop of herbed goat cheese followed by a nice piece of prosciutto on top.
Grab some assorted olives, marinated asparagus and peppers (or other veg) from the olive bar at your market.
Marinate some canned artichokes in 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 lemon juiced, 1 mined garlic clove, 1/4 cup chopped onion, and salt and pepper.

(serves 4-5)

The Sauce:
1 cup roasted/marinated tomatoes (or sundried and marinated)
1 cup peppadew peppers
2 cups red wine
2 garlic cloves, roughly shopped
1/2 yellow onion, roughly chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Peppadews are sweet piquanté peppers. you can either find them jarred or at the olive bar.
Stew about 1 cup marinated roasted tomatoes or sundried tomatoes (olive bar) and 1 cup peppadews, and the garlic and onion with about 1-2 cups red wine. If you want the sauce to be thick, use 1. Thinner, 2 cups. Stew in a pot on stove for about 20-30 minutes. you want the wine's alcohol to cook through, and the vegetables to get softer. Puree the mixture in a blender or food processor. Sat and pepper the sauce to your liking. Place in serving dish.

The potatoes:

3 large Idaho potatoes, cubed
grapeseed oil (you'll need to fill your pot 1/2 with oil so that the potatoes are covered. Leave room for bubbling over!!! YIKES!
smoked paprika (or sweet and hot mixture)
salt and pepper to taste

Peel and cube 3 large Idaho potatoes (these are the best for frying). You can put them in a large bowl of ice water to keep from browning and to get some of the starch out. Prep your fryer or a tall pot (not too wide) with grapeseed oil. Grapeseed oil is great for fring. You can use canola oil too but I think that shit is evil! Use a thermometer to test the oil. At about 350 it's ready. Fry your potatoes a few at a time. When they are golden brown, put them on a plate with papertowel. Sprinkle salt, pepper and smoked paprika on each batch and keep them in a warm over (about 200) while you fry them all up.
Now serve with the sauce. YUM!


Fresh Shrimp (a pound is good for leftovers!)
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp onion powder
1 lemon juiced
salt and pepper to taste
sherry vinegar (just a few splashes)

Find some really great peeled fresh shrimp at the market. Or unpeeled. It's just a hassle to do it yourself. And is smells. Marinate the shrimp for about a half hour in olive oil, a lemon juiced, garlic and onion powder to taste. Use powder because shrimp cook so quickly you'll get the flavor more so than sauteing and adding. Salt and pepper the shrimp and add a splash of hot sauce. Place them on a sheet pan with some parchment paper lining the pan. Cook the shrimp in a 350 degree oven for 5-8 minutes, turning the pan in between. You want the shrimp to turn pink on all sides and a bit firm to the touch. Taste one to make sure! ;o) you can even splash these with a little sherry vinegar at the end!


1 Can peeled tomatoes
1 Jar Peppadew Peppers
1.5 Pounds Chicken thighs, quartered
1 Large Onion, sliced
3 Cloves Garlic, sliced
1 Carrot, chopped
1 – 2 Cups (or however many you want) Green Olives (pitted)
Smoked Paprika, or sweet, or hot.

Brown the chicken, then combine everything in a pan and slow roast at 250 for 2 hours.

What’s cool is that the tomatoes, peppadews, onion, garlic, paprika, etc is all just a base.  You can put any protein in this (beef, veal, pork, duck would be good) and any vegetables aside from olives (celery, larges chunks of carrots, green beans, green peppers, etc).

Tapas: A Taste of Spain in America 
The Book of Tapas 
Tapas (Revised): The Little Dishes of Spain 


Wine Time!

I recently took a class on Spanish Wine and Tapas!
Today I will share the wines...
tomorrow, the tapas!

A clear and crisp white with fruit and florals. Green fruits like melon and apple. 

A darker white than above... buttery with hints of apple and vanilla. This is a smooth more oaky white.

Medium body red. Notes of black cherry and earth, Velvety. Medium Acid.

Spicier Red. Dried red fruits. Less acid, more tannins, long finish.

Dark, rich Red. Plums, oak,  and earth.

Happy tasting!

The Wine Bible

Oster 4208 Inspire Electric Wine Opener with Wine ChillerWorld Atlas of Wine


Italian Tuesday!

I love figuring out new ways to cook classic Italian dishes... but first things first. No matter what I do I need to make sauce! Some sauces are past down from generation to generation. Some are tweaked throughout the years. I can't say that I make my father's sauce but they are all so close!

Kristen's Marinara Sauce
(with Spaghetti and baked Eggplant/Tomato Stackers)

For the sauce:
-2 glugs (thanks Jamie Oliver) olive oil
-1 tsp red pepper flakes
-salt and pepper to taste
-1 large yellow onion, minced
-2 large carrots, finely cubed
-4 garlic cloves, crushed and minced
-1 bay leaf
-4 pinches italian seasoning
-2 crushed pinches dried rosemary
- 1/2 cup white wine (or red- your sauce will seem denser with red)
-2 cans crushed tomatoes
-1 can whole tomatoes
-1 Parmesan rind (this is the hard part of Parmesan block that you normally wouldn't eat)
-2 tablespoons flour, sifted (this is for those who like thick, but not too chunky sauce. Use only whole tomatoes if you want a thick and chunky sauce without the flour add)
-1/2 cup freshly chopped Italian Parsley
-1/2 cup freshly chopped basil

For the Baked Eggplant/Tomato Stackers
-1/2 tablespoon softened butter
-3/4 cup parmesan/romano grated cheese mix
-1 medium eggplant sliced (about a 1/2-1/4 inch thick)
-2 medium-large firm tomatoes, sliced (about a 1/2-1/4 inch thick)
-1/2 cup shredded mozzarella or riccota salata cheese
-1 garlic clove, crushed and minced
-1/2-1/4 fresh chopped Basil
- salt and pepper to taste

How to cook the sauce:
In a large sauce pot, heat the oil and red pepper flakes. Add the onions and some salt and pepper to sweat them out. About 4 minutes. Add the carrots and bay leaf and herbs. Cook for another 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and wine. Bring to a simmer for another 3 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes and Parmesan rind. Cover pot and let cook on a low heat until the whole tomatoes break up and become a part of the sauce and until the Parmesan rind has completely melted. 1-2 hours... If you want a thicker sauce, sift some flour over the sauce as you stir it in. Use as much as you want until you get it to the thickness you want. Keep on low heat for a while longer. Toss in fresh herbs. Then just let everything sit on the stove. Cook up your favorite pasta and serve with the sauce!

How to cook the Baked Eggplant/Tomato Stackers
Preheat oven to 375. Grease a small-medium baking dish (enough to hold 4 eggplant stacks). Sprinkle some of the parmesan/romano cheese on the bottom of the dish by making 4 little piles. Place 1 slice of eggplant on each cheese pile. Salt and pepper each piece. Put some mozzarella/riccota cheese on the eggplant. then some garlic. Now place a tomato slice on top of each eggplant/cheese stack. Put some cheese on top, then layer with another eggplant and cheese and another tomato and cheese. and basil on top. So it's eggplant, cheese, garlic, tomato, cheese, pepper, eggplant, cheese, tomato, cheese, basil! Oh MY GOODNESS! Bake in the oven until the veggies get crispy (and release juices) and the cheese melts. You don't need a lot of salt because of the cheese. About 20-30 minutes in oven. Let cool a bit.


Soup for the Soul

This weekend I came down with a bit of a bug. I generally make a big pot of soup and call it a night all weekend. I hate being sick. I haven't been sick since last November! I was doing so well. I let my guard down last week and I think that just exacerbated everything. We can make ourselves sick sometimes with stress or when we feel like we are being attacked. It's a pity people act a certain way when there is so much going on in this world. I know this post has a lot of hidden meaning that I don't want to discuss, but I think we can all relate to unfortunate situations that happen to us when we are faced with unhappy people who's only defenses are to be degrading.

But if there's one thing I know, it's that a good soup will do a world of good!


(makes a big pot full!)

What you'll need:
-about 40 oz Mushroom broth
-2 tablespoons olive oil
-1 large onion (red or yellow) thinly sliced
-3 garlic cloves, minced
-1 dried chili pepper, chopped (keep the seeds!)
-2 cups sliced mushrooms
-1 bay leaf
-3 limes, juice and zest of 2
-1 red pepper, thinly sliced
-1 package Chinese noodles (like Ramon noodles only without the seasoning packet)
-1/2 cup freshly chopped cilantro

What you'll do:
Heat the oil and chopped chili pepper in a large soup pot. When chili begins to bubble add the onions. Let them sweat for about 3-5 minutes. Salt and pepper to soften. Add bay leaf and garlic. Add in mushrooms. Cook until mushrooms release juices. Add in broth and bring to a simmer. Add in red peppers last so that they cook just until a bit crisp by the end. Add in Chinese noodles.  Add lime juices and zest. The noodles cook about 3-4 minutes. Take soup off heat. When serving toss fresh cilantro on top. It's spicy and flavorful!

Picks of the day:


I Know You Want This Risotto Recipe....

what you need:
  • 32oz cups reduced-sodium MUSHROOM BROTH
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped (1 cup)
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped, 1 garlic clove crushed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups finely chopped cremini muchrooms
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 2/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano (1/2 cup)
  •  1/4 cup grated Romano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon truffle oil or olive oil blend
 what you do:

Prepare the broth in a pot by adding the bay leaf, 1 crushed garlic clove, and red pepper flakes. Add broth and heat til it simmers. Turn off heat.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan heat your oil and butter. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook until the liquid releases from the mushrooms. Add the white wine and Arborio rice. Stir continuously until wine has evaporated. Now, add the broth 1 ladle at a time. you will notice that the rice will continue to absorb the liquid. Do this until the rice is tender but not mushy. I used almost the whole pot of broth. When the rice is to your liking, take off heat and add in the cheeses and spices and herbs. Toss in the truffle oil and taste for any salt and pepper needs. And you are done! YUM!

THAT'S IT- Can you believe it? So challenge yourself everyone. You'll be amazed at what you can do! This tasted like a risotto that I once paid 28 bucks for in a restaurant! Never again...

What have you always wanted to do? I think you should try it tomorrow!


Stuffed Italian Tomatoes

Happy Monday Everyone!
My weekend consisted of making/eating these stuffed tomatoes while catching up on 
What have you been watching?


What you'll need:
  • 1 cup Arborio rice (or other short-grain white rice)
  • 6 ripe but firm large tomatoes
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bay leave
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 2 small zuccini, diced
  • 1 yellow pepper, diced
  • 1 small red onion, minced
  • 1 lemon, zest
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 cup grated Romano
  • 1/4 shredded Mozzarella
What you'll do:

Add 2 tablespoons of the oil in a medium saucepan. Add 1 garlic clove (crush it), red pepper flakes and a bay leaf. On medium heat add in the cup of rice to toast it before cooking. About 2 minutes. Salt and pepper the rice. I cooked this rice like risotto so I added in 1 cup of water until the rice absorbed it, then I added water again. It took about 3 cups to get to a good tenderness.

Meanwhile, add the other oil to another large skillet. Toss in the onions and cook until tender. About 3-5 minutes. Add in the other veggies, lemon zest, and garlic. Cook for about 5-8 minutes or until veggies are tender but still crunchy! Set off heat and add 1/2 of the parmesan and romano cheese. Add the cooked rice as well and toss. Toss in the fresh herbs as well.

Slice the tops off of each tomato and scoop out the insides so that you have just the shell. You can reserve the insides for soups, sauces, and even salsa!

Place some of the mozzarella and bit of the other cheese on the bottom of each tomato shell. Salt and pepper the shells. Now pack in the rice and veggie mixture into each tomato shell. Top with extra cheese and the tomato top.

Bake in over for about 20 minutes until the tomatoes start to blister and the cheese on top is melted.

If I had to do this again I think I'd add in corn for some extra sweetness, but add in whatever veggies you like, just make sure they are diced small and everything is proportionate.

A veggie chopper like this one comes in handy!


Have a LOVEly Friday!

Greetings from Time Square!
Enjoy the weekend and kiss a stranger... or not.

What's cookin?
I think I'll make these:

Picks of the Day:
Photographer: Alfred EisenstaedtV-J Day at Times Square, New York City, 1945, Art Poster by Alfred Eisenstaedt 


Top Chef: Just Desserts

Top Chef: Washington D.C. is getting juicier as the contestants are getting chopped, but I'm getting excited for the September 15th premiere of Top Chef: Just Desserts! It's basically a stigma on the regular series that if you make dessert for a challenge there is an 80% chance that you are going home, this is what will make this new series so interesting, and more importantly, SWEET! Take a look:

I am also going to start adding Picks of the Day to this blog. I'll share a comparable book, film, or gadget! So today's Pick of the Day is:

Chocolat (Miramax Collector's Series)

A funny sweet film! Dramatic, comedic, lovely, and just the name alone: Chocolat!!


Healthy Foods For Your Skin!

Check out my post over at The Motivation Station.
I talk about the Do's and Don'ts when it comes to food and your skin!


Goat Cheese and Mushrooms in Phyllo Cups

Happy Monday all!
A tasty appetizer just for you and your guests.


What you'll need
1 package phyllo dough (most come with 2 in a box)
1 pint baby portobello mushrooms, roughly chopped
2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 lemon, juice
1 garlic clove, minced
3/4 cup goat cheese
1 cup shredded radicchio
3/4 cup chopped basil
salt and pepper to taste

What you'll do

Sauté the mushrooms and garlic in oil. Salt and pepper to taste. Add the lemon juice and cook until mushrooms are cooked. Reserve the juice and set mushrooms aside. Prep other ingredients and set up for the assembling of the phyllo cups. Have a muffin pan greased, and cut about 5-8 pieces of phyllo dough into squares. You will basically have squares of 5-8 layers oh phyllo dough. Make sense? Place each square of phyllo sheets into a muffin tin so that the ends of the phyllo sheets cover the sides. Fill the cups in this order: radicchio, mushrooms, reserved juice, goat cheese, and basil. Cook in over at 375 until the phyllo dough gets golden brown. SIMPLE!


Puerto Rico: The Video


I FINALLY learned how to edit video. 
Take a look at some of the moments I was able to capture in Puerto Rico!!

Give the video a bit of time to load, por favor!


BCBG Salad!

Happy Monday, everyone!
Here's a great healthy recipe. High protein and fiber!

(serves 8-9 as a side or 5-6 as full meal)

What you'll need:
1 can black-eyed peas (rinsed)
1 can organic corn nibblets (haha)
1 cucumber, shaved and cubed
4 green onions, chopped
1/2 red onion, diced

The dressing
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup chopped basil
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 lemon, juiced
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tablespoon honey or agave nectar
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

What you'll do:

Combine all ingredients for dressing in a LARGE serving bowl. Whisk until emulsified. Add all other vegetables and toss!

Serve this over some barley or brown rice if desired for a fuller meal. 
TIP: Whenever cooking rice, barley, or apsta, add a bay leaf, crushed garlic clove, and salt to the water. This will give great flavor to your grains. 
Just remove bay leaf and garlic before consuming!