Recipe Testing

Today, I’m testing a Bon Appétit recipe. It looks amazing, but one reviewer panned it: Slow-Roasted Cod with Bell Peppers

The bell peppers look awesome! The first thing I’ve done is split them and removed the stem, ribs, and seeds, and given them a coating in olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Into the oven they go!

Know your broiler, mine is really good, so it only took 10 minutes to char the skins compared to the recipe’s stated 15-20.

Now they are in a bowl tightly covered with Saran Wrap; after they steam for 10 minutes the charred skin is easily removed.

Rather than tear the peppers I just gave them a coarse cut before tossing them in my dish with their juices, garlic, pepper flakes, and vinegar.

Then I “nestled” in the cod and seasoned it.

While it baked, I made the caper onion dressing.

Dinner is served!

Linguine with Clam Sauce

It’s summer and the eldest will be headed back to college soon, with a new challenge: apartment living. Both of these are pushing me towards a simple food portfolio. For a recent Sunday dinner I elected to make an antipasto salad and linguine with clam sauce.

An antipasto salad is really simple and incredibly delicious, it can be served as a salad course or on its own. I found this recipe and modified it just a touch to make it perfect, the original recipe was a bit onion and pepper heavy, this allows you to taste all of the independent flavors. The “lettuce” of the salad is the basil, so the trick is to be gentle with the leaves when washing them so as not to bruise them.

Antipasto Salad

Italian, Salads, Tested and Approved!

Servings: 4 servings Source:


1 garlic clove, minced

cup extra-virgin olive oil

¼ cup red wine vinegar

½ tsp. crushed dried oregano

Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

1-2 Cubanelle or Shepherd peppers, thinly sliced into rounds

½ small red onion, thinly sliced, rinsed

1 can (14 oz.) artichoke hearts, drained, patted dry, halved

8 oz. ball fresh mozzarella, torn into pieces

¼-⅓ salami, preferably fennel, thinly sliced

Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

1 lemon

2 cups basil leaves


Mix garlic, oil, vinegar, oregano, and red pepper flakes in a large bowl. Add sweet peppers, onion, artichokes, mozzarella, and salami and toss to coat; season with salt and black pepper. Let sit, tossing occasionally, at least 15 minutes.

Zest half of lemon over salad and add basil; toss to combine. Season with more salt and black pepper if needed.

Do Ahead: Salad (without lemon zest and basil) can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

Linguine with Clam Sauce is a little more complicated, but there are some tricks to make it simpler. The biggest time saver is frozen clam meat: no scrubbing and they are typically precooked. With the eldest’s fish allergy, I skip the anchovies, but enjoy them if you can. With any pasta dish, the most important ingredient is the pasta, select a good pasta, Italian if available, and for a simple sauce like a clam, a rustic (rough) pasta that the sauce will stick to is best.

Linguine and Clams

Entrées, Italian, Pastas, Shellfish, Tested and Approved!

Servings: 4 servings Source:


1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more

10 cups water

12 garlic cloves, divided

4 ounces sourdough or country-style bread, crusts removed, cut into ½-inch pieces

2 tablespoons plus ¼ cup olive oil, plus more for serving

2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

2 oil-packed anchovy fillets (optional)

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, plus more for serving

cup dry white wine

2 pounds littleneck clams (about 24) or cockles (about 32), scrubbed*

12 ounces linguine or spaghetti

½ cup finely chopped parsley

2 tablespoons unsalted butter


Bring salt and water to a boil in a large pot.

Meanwhile, pulse 3 garlic cloves in a food processor until chopped. Add bread and pulse several times until fine crumbs form.

Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high. Add breadcrumb mixture and cook, stirring often, until crumbs are golden and crisp, 5-7 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add lemon zest, season with salt, and toss to combine; set aside.

Wipe out Dutch oven. Using a mandoline if you have one (if not, use a really sharp knife), very thinly slice remaining 9 garlic cloves. Heat ¼ cup oil in Dutch oven over medium. Cook garlic, stirring often, until golden around the edges, about 3 minutes. Add anchovies, if using, and ½ tsp. red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until garlic is golden all over and anchovies are dissolved. Quickly stir in wine and simmer until only a couple of tablespoons of liquid are left in pot.

Add clams and toss to combine. (If using clam meat, add and proceed to next step.) Cover and cook until clams are open, 5-7 minutes (about 4 minutes for cockles). Uncover pot and transfer clams to a medium bowl, leaving liquid in pot. If any clams are still closed, cover pot again and cook a few minutes longer, then transfer to bowl with others (discard any that have not opened at this point). Tent clams with foil.

Cook pasta in boiling water 5 minutes. Using a ladle or heatproof measuring cup, scoop out about 2 cups pasta cooking liquid. Using tongs, transfer pasta to pot with clam liquid. Add 1 cup pasta cooking liquid and bring to a boil. Cook, tossing constantly and adding more pasta cooking liquid a splash at a time if needed, until pasta is al dente and sauce is glossy and thick enough to cling to noodles, about 5 minutes.

Remove from heat. Add parsley and butter and toss until butter is melted. Sprinkle about one-third of breadcrumbs over pasta and toss to combine (you can add more or less depending on how much liquid is in bottom of pot-you want them to absorb some of the sauce but not make it dry). Give pasta a taste; you probably won’t need additional salt, but you can add some if you’d like. Divide pasta among shallow bowls and top with reserved clams, more breadcrumbs, red pepper flakes, and a drizzle of oil.


*Fresh clams can be replaced with frozen meat: ¼ lb. frozen meat/ 1 lb. fresh clams


I haven’t ever made gnocchi before, but my boys love it and I find it delicious and with the weather having turned cold while I was in Germany for business, it just sounds delicious.

I found a recipe online and decided to give it a whirl.

First, I gathered all of my ingredients, including the sweet potatoes I baked on Sunday.

Set the sweet potatoes where already baked, I started on the lemon ricotta. I zested my lemon after cleaning it, then juiced a half.


Minced a few leaves of sage.


Then whisked it up with the olive oil and ricotta.


Then I started the pasta and found the errors in the recipe: not nearly enough flour and serves 4?!?

Since the potatoes were already baked, the only tasks were to unwrap and peel.

Peeling was very easy. I used an applesauce pan because I don’t have a potato ricer. Then I added the other ingredients, mixed them and determined that the flour was insufficient to form a dough.


The recipe called for 2 cups of flour, I added another 2 cups while kneading to make smooth dough.

From here I cut it into quarters and then each of those in half before rolling them into ropes.


I cut each rope in ½” segments.

I don’t have a gnocchi board so I used a fork to roll them by setting a piece on a floured fork, pressing gently with my thumb, and then rolling it off the end. 

The result was two pretty trays of gnocchi; one would have been enough for 4.

While these rested, I boiled the water and sliced the garlic.

Once the water was at a full rolling boil I added salt to the water and started browning the butter with the sage, thyme, and garlic.

The pasta only took two minutes, then I added it to the butter.

Meanwhile, I cooked some chicken apple sausages in a bit of hard cider with a quick broil at the end to brown them.

Fabulous dinner.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Lemon Ricotta

Prep 20 minutes ∙ Cook 1 hour and 10 minutes ∙ Makes Yield: 4 servings ∙ Source


For the Gnocchi:

  • 1 pound (2 medium) sweet potatoes
  • ½ cup ricotta
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 1 sage sprig

For the Lemon Ricotta:

  • ½ cup ricotta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon minced sage


1. Preheat the oven to 350º. Wrap each sweet potato in foil and place on a baking sheet. Roast until tender, 1 hour. (Canbe done inadvance and refrigerated.

2. Meanwhile, make the lemon ricotta: In a medium bowl, whisk all of the lemon ricotta ingredients together until smooth.

3. Let cool slightly, then peel each sweet potato and rice through a potato ricer into a large bowl. Add the ricotta, eggs, 2 cups flour, salt and pepper, and stir with a wooden spoon until a dough forms.

4. Transfer to a heavily floured work surface and knead with the remaining flour (as needed) until smooth. Your dough will be soft. Cut the dough into 8 pieces and roll each into a long rope, ½” thick. Using a bench scraper or paring knife, cut the gnocchi into ½” pieces. (If you want, you can press the gnocchi against a gnocchi board or a fork.)

5. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Once boiling, heat the butter with the garlic, thyme and sage in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally until the butter has browned, 4 to 5 minutes. After 2 minutes of cooking the butter, drop the gnocchi into the boiling water and cook until they float, 2 minutes.

6. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the gnocchi to the pan of brown butter and cook, stirring often, until lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper. Divide between plates and top each with a dollop of the lemon ricotta, then serve.

Weeknight Stew

Not long ago, my sister was scrolling through my recipe files on Paprika and asked if any of them were quick enough for a weeknight. Many of them are, even though I have a tendency to post more Sunday dinners because I enjoy them so much.

This however is very simple and easily a weeknight meal with slicing the onion as the most difficult task. It is originally a Bon Appétit recipe with modifications over time. I’ve left a few of my notes in the copy below. 

Start with cooking the sausage, the rest of the prep can be done while they cook. (And yes use the hot Italian sausage if you are ok with a little bit of heat, the added flavor is amazing). 

While they cook, slice the onion, mince the garlic, and rinse the thyme and cannellini beans. 

While they cool, start the onions with the garlic and thyme, making sure to use the onions to scrape up all of the crispy bits of sausage. Also start boiling the water for the pasta. 


Once they are soft and golden, the beans, broth, and paprika go in with the onions and it’s time to cook the pasta and slice the sausage. 

When the beans start to cook use your spoon to smash a few and help to thicken the sauce. 

Taste and add a tiny bit of salt and a healthy bit of pepper. 

Then add the spinach, either in handfuls or just throw in like me.

Once it just starts to wilt, stir in the sausage and pasta. 


Serve. Taste. Love. 

Sausage and White Bean Stew

Entrées, Pastas, Pork, Quick Meals, Soups Stews etc., Tested and Approved!

Prep 15 min ∙ Cook 45 min ∙ Makes 4 servings ∙ Source Bon Appétit | February 2013

Paprika Recipe File


  • 1 pound fresh hot Italian sausage links
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced, then quartered
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 30 oz. cannellini (white kidney) beans, rinsed
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • ⅛ tsp. smoked paprika
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper, freshly ground
  • 5 ounces baby spinach (~10 cups)
  • ½ lb. fusilli or orecchiette pasta cooked
  • Parmesan, freshly shredded


Add sausage and cook, turning occasionally, until browned and cooked through, 15-20 minutes. Transfer sausage to a plate and slice lenthwise and then into ½” thick slices on an angle when cool enough.
Reduce heat to medium. Add onion, garlic, and thyme sprig. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, 5-8 minutes. Add beans, broth, and paprika and cook, crushing a few beans with the back of a spoon to thicken sauce, until slightly thickened, 8-10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add spinach by handfuls and cook just until wilted, about 2 minutes.

Stir sausage into stew; add pasta water or additional broth to thin, if desired. Divide stew among bowls over pasta and sprinkle with paprika and parmesan.


Ingredient info: Smoked paprika can be found at most supermarkets.

2015-01-07 – First day tried and I made modifications from the Bon Appétit version, in addition to what I drafted as the final recipe, I threw in roasted garlic with the onions and minced fresh garlic as a treat.

2017-03-04 – fresh garlic with the onions is very good, used 5 large. And orecchiette pasta is perfect with the size of the sausage.

Reasons to Cook

This post is not so much about what I made as it is about why I made it. 

Today was special; and not because it was a holiday or Hallmark “______” Day. It was special because my eldest returned from France and my in laws returned from Florida. These are special people in my life, and I want to cook well for them. 

Each time I have travelled internationally my first desire for food is “normal”, meaning normal for my own routine. With this in mind I selected bold simple flavors that are typical in our house. 

Rather than a salad, a shishito pepper appetizer – pan fried and seasoned with lemon and coarse sea salt. 

And for dinner, skirt steak and roasted cauliflower with chimchurri sauce, along with green rice and one of our favorite wines, Kouros red

Lastly for dessert, triple chocolate cake. 

I hope that you treat your family with love and good food. 

Inspired Sandwich

I am fortunate to live near Ann Arbor; it’s a community that successfully encourages individuals to be unique. The result is a wonderful mix of individuality and a business district filled with entrepreneurs. As an added bonus, many of these are in the food business, making it a hit for foodies like me.

One such business is Eat. This is a local catering company that also has a small dine-in area and a thriving carry-out business. They change their menu regularly as local food changes with the seasons. The last time I was there I had a sandwich I had not previously seen in their menus: Bacon-Strawberry. It was perfect, thick cut bacon on thick farm bread smeared with goat cheese with sweet sliced strawberries and arugula. As an added bonus the bread was dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar and the sandwich was grilled.


I knew that my family would love this sandwich, so that’s what I made for dinner tonight. The ingredients are simple, but best if high quality. The strawberries should smell sweet.

I used our local market’s French Country bread, while soft and delicious it has a thick crust that holds up on a grill. I also let the bacon (that I cooked on Sunday), goat cheese, and strawberries come to room temperature.

When it was time to cook, I started by smearing a thick layer of the goat cheese on the inside of both halves of the sandwich and then I dipped them on a plate with olive oil and balsamic and set them on my cast iron grill pan where I was re-crisping my bacon.

I layered on the bacon, sliced strawberries, and mixed greens. (The lone arugula didn’t look to good so I picked up a blend with spinach, arugula, and baby greens.) I topped it with the other slice of bread, pressed it, and ultimately flipped it to get both sides crisp.

As expected, it was a hit with everyone!

Stuffed Peppers

I am sad today… I wrote most of this post yesterday, and was falling asleep so I decided to finish it today… and missed the step to save.

Such is life. As you may have guessed, I’m not your normal “food blogger”. I don’t have an inspiration to work and work and work on a recipe until it’s perfect and post it. My goal is to read, fix, test, and share recipes for good food so that more people realize that cooking is not difficult or a mysical art. Cooking for me is wonderful, it relieves my stress, and more importantly it keeps me and my family healthy.

Back to the post…

Stuffed peppers are a childhood memory for both me and my husband, for him it’s a bit less than fond. However, as his tastes have grown he recently suggested that I make them. This led to further discussion since our eldest is less than fond of bell peppers. Ultimately he suggested that I stuff poblano peppers. So I read a lot and ended up with 3 recipes that I combined. (Note: When you see my pictures, I doubled the recipe so that I would have enough for tacos on Wednesday.)

Since I spent most of my day in the ER with my youngest (bruised but not broken ribs from lacrosse), I can verify that I made this and a salad in 2 hours. Sadly I had to forfeit Sunday dessert; it will come later.

My eldest was a huge help with the prep and the cornbread.


Spinach, Brussel Sprout, and Bacon Salad with Avocado Vinaigrette


  • ½ lb. fresh Brussel sprouts, thinly sliced
  • 4 strips bacon or pancetta, diced
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 avocado
  • 1½ tsp. white wine vinegar
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 oz. handfuls of fresh baby spinach
  • ½ cup bean sprouts
  • 4 ounces mushrooms, sliced


Cook the bacon until crispy and drain on paper towels.

Cut the avocado in half, remove the pit, and scoop out the flesh. Place half of the avocado in a small food processor and process to form a paste. Add the vinegar, lemon juice, salt, and pepper and process well then add the olive oil and process briefly to combine.

Dice the remaining half an avocado.

Toss the spinach with the Brussel and bean sprouts, mushrooms, and avocado, then toss with the dressing and serve with the bacon.

Chorizo Stuffed Peppers

Entrées, Pork, Shellfish, Tested and Approved!

Prep 45 mins ∙ Cook 20 mins ∙ Makes 6 (Serves 4)


  • 6 large poblano peppers
  • 1 small red onion, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1 pound raw Mexican-style chorizo, removed from casings
  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • ½ lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined, coarsely chopped
  • 15 oz. black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 6 oz. shoepeg corn, drained and rinsed
  • 1 medium roma tomato, diced
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • ⅓ cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped, plus more to garnish
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp of cumin
  • 1 cup jack cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup cotija cheese, grated


1. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and place the peppers on top. Roast them under the broiler until the skin becomes blackened and bubbly, turning every few minutes to char evenly, about 8-10 minutes. After the peppers have roasted, carefully transfer them to a large bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the peppers sit for 20 minutes to cool.

2. While you wait for the peppers to cool, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the chorizo for about 5 minutes, gently breaking it up with a wooden spoon.

 Stir in the onions, black beans, shoepeg corn, and garlic.

 Cook for 2-3 more minutes. Then, mix in the shrimp, tomato paste, oregano, and cumin. Cook for 2 more minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.

3. Add rice, tomato, cilantro, and ½ cup of each cheese to the bowl with the meat mixture and mix until combined.

  4. Carefully peel the skins off of the roasted peppers, and then slice the peppers lengthwise on one side to create a slit.

 Gently remove the seeds, and then spoon the mixture into the cavities of the split poblanos and place them on a baking sheet, split side up. Pull the pepper up around the filling and press gently to help it keep its shape. If necessary, use a toothpick to hold the peppers together near the bottom. Top with remaining cheese.

 5. Put peppers back under the broiler for 2-3 minutes, or until cheese is completely melted. Sprinkle with additional cilantro and serve.

Moroccan Chicken Wednesday

Over the years I have had to travel for work and one of my favorite benefits of this travel has always been that I get to try new foods. It it one of the many things that encouraged me to expand my palate and my pantry. I haven’t travelled as much frequently, but this desire has stuck with me. As I mentioned in my previous post, I returned this week to preparing menus. Skimming through Epicurious (have you figured out it’s a favorite site of mine) I came across this recipe for Moroccan Chicken. Artichoke hearts are among my favorite ingredients so it landed on the menu. I made a few changes for our benefit (seasoning the meat, canned versus frozen artichokes, and extra garlic). 

It would have easily fed 8, in fact I had so much leftover I elected to share it at work today. Not only was it well received at home, but it was also thoroughly enjoyed there.

My husband called on the way home and asked if I was making a salad and if I needed bread, “No, but if you are stopping to get bread, pick up stuff for a salad.” I must commend him, not only did he pick up stuff, he did some quick research online and decided what would go with the dish. We ended up with an olive baguette and a salad with spinach, Swiss chard, arugula, chickpeas, carrots, dates (which he’d never tried before), shallot, goat cheese, and fattoush dressing. It rivaled his mother’s salads, it was delicious and a perfect complement to the stew. 

 Moroccan Chicken Stew with Artichoke Hearts and Carrots

Prep 45 mins ∙ Cook 30 mins ∙ Makes 6–8 ∙ Source


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 8 garlic cloves, large, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 4 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 2½ pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1″ cubes
  • 2 (14 oz.) cans artichoke hearts
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled, sliced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Steamed couscous
  • Chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Salt & pepper



Lightly salt and thoroughly pepper the chicken.

Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté until tender and starting to caramelize, about 8 minutes. Stir in garlic and next 4 ingredients and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

 Add broth and lemon zest and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; stir in chicken, artichoke hearts, and carrots; simmer until vegetables are tender and chicken is just cooked through, 10–15 minutes.

 Season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide couscous among shallow bowls; spoon stew over and garnish with parsley.

Middle Eastern Salad

Prep 10 mins ∙ Makes 4


  • 5 oz. mixed greens (i.e., spinach, arugula, and swiss chard)
  • ~1 cup shredded carrots
  • handful of mint leaves
  • ~1 cup chickpeas
  • ⅛ cup dates, diced
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 4 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
  • fattoush dressing, to taste


Toss all ingredients together, serve with dressing.