Pasta salad w/ oven roasted tomatoes, olives, artichoke hearts, garlic, mozzarella cheese and basil

This pasta dish is an easy, no fuss recipe great for summer picnics, parties, and just plain old comfort food.  You may substitute freshly cut cherry or grape tomatoes for the oven roasted ones.  Also, if your friends are meat lovers or you’re looking for something more substantial to fill your appetite, add several links of cooked chicken/turkey sausage before serving – it’s a healthy addition and is packed with flavor!


1 Box of your favorite pasta (penne, ziti and thin spaghetti are my favorites-Barilla brand)

1 package of cherry or grape tomatoes

1 16 oz. jar of pitted kalamta olives in brine, chopped

1 package fresh mozzarella balls (packed in water or the mozzarella milk), sliced in half

1 can of artichoke hearts, drained and chopped into fourths (they also are usually canned in water)

4-6 cloves garlic, chopped

1 bunch of fresh basil, chopped

¼ cup Italian parsley, freshly chopped

1-2 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Italian seasoning

Salt and Pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Place freshly washed tomatoes on a nonstick baking sheet and season with salt. Roast for 35-40 minutes or until tomatoes start to pop open.  Meanwhile, get large pasta pot prepared with water for a boil, adding enough water to cook the large amount of pasta.  Sauté olives, artichoke hearts (chopped into fourths), and garlic with the olive oil at medium heat for 5-7 minutes.  Season pasta water with salt when brought to a boil and add pasta.  Cook pasta according to manufactured directions, usually 9-11 minutes. Drain pasta and toss with freshly chopped herbs and seasonings.  Add heated vegetables and, lastly, add fresh mozzarella and serve!  

Cremini mushroom pasta with caramelized onions, leeks and freshly shaved white truffles


The inspiration from this recipe came from visiting my Wednesday morning farmers market in Santa Monica. The winter months surprisingly are imo, one of the best times to create new recipes and test things out. This recipe is neighbor tasted and approved; so enjoy!


1 package of dried egg pasta

½ lb of fresh cremini mushrooms  (washed and sliced)

2 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)

1 yellow onion, finely sliced

1 large leek bulb, finely sliced

2 tbsp unsalted butter

2 tbsp olive oil

½ cup of half and half (add chicken stock if more moisture is needed)

2 tbsp freshly chopped chives

Small, marble-sized white truffle

Grated parmesan, salt and pepper to taste


Sauté sliced onion with a little olive oil (20 mins) or until caramelized in a large sauté pan. Add butter and leeks to pan and sauté another 8-10 mins.  Add mushrooms and garlic in pan and sauté an additional 10 mins.  Meanwhile, boil water for pasta and cook pasta until al dente.  Add cream and/or stock and combine ingredients.  Lastly, transfer al dente pasta to pan, toss. Garnish with fresh chives, parmesan, and shaved white truffles to taste.

Gnocchi with Italian Chicken Sausage, Artichokes and Spinach in Tomato Sauce


1-2 cups of favorite frozen gnocchi

1-2 links of favorite Italian Chicken Sausage, sliced

1-2 cups of fresh spinach

1 can of canned artichokes, drained, washed and roughly chopped

½ jar of favorite tomato sauce

1 clove of garlic

Freshly grated parmesan cheese to taste


In large pot, place a large amount of water and pinch of salt and bring to boil. 


Meanwhile, heat nonstick pan with touch of olive oil, add sliced sausage and garlic and stir.  Add artichokes and spinach and cook for 3-5 minutes. Lastly add favorite tomato sauce and simmer. 


Place frozen gnocchi in boiling water, cooking as directed.  Drain pasta, and serve with sauce. This meal is also great for lunch so if you have extras, place in Tupperware.


Quick Tilapia in Foil


1-2 slices fresh fish, lightly coated with olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon, salt/pepper and seasonings

1-2 fresh tomatoes, chopped or canned chopped tomatoes (low sodium)

½ onion chopped

1-2 cloves of garlic chopped

1/4 cup of white wine or veggie/chicken broth

Touch of olive oil

Salt/pepper and seasonings to taste


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In heated nonstick pan add touch of olive oil, onions, garlic, tomatoes and let cook 2-3 minutes.  Add ¼ cup of wine or broth and seasonings and let simmer.  Meanwhile, cut several large pieces of aluminum foil for fish.


Next, line baking sheet with aluminum foil and take sections of aluminum foil and place 1 piece of fish on each.  Once tomato mixture is fully heated and has somewhat less liquid, add atop of fish in spoonfuls. 


Seal fish in aluminum foil by folding over top and bottom sections of foil and fold in on sides. With fish sealed on sheet, place in oven and cook for 20-25 minutes until done.  Fish should be moist and full.


Serve with fresh lemon slices atop fish.


Grandma’s Meatballs


I learned how to cook one fall afternoon, when I was eight. My family had been busy getting menus ready for our upcoming Thanksgiving feast and my grandma wanted to make something simple that evening for dinner.  She recruited my help and began teaching me, the step by step recipe for her “Grandma Loves Marty” meatballs, the same recipe named after every child and grandchild she helped nurture. The recipe consists of simple ingredients, but I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as me and my family have for generations!


1lb ground beef

1/4 cup ketchup

1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 Packet of dried onion soup mix

½ - 1 cup of oatmeal

3/4 cup breadcrumbs

1 egg

2 Tbsp vegetable, olive or canola oil

1 can cream of mushroom soup (diluted with water)


Combine all ingredients in bowl (with the exception of mushroom soup) in a bowl and roll into golf-ball sized balls.  Turn cast iron or large sauté pan to medium high heat, add oil and sauté meatballs on all sides until golden brown. Turn stove to low hear and transfer meatballs to a large plate lined with paper towels. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.


Add can of cream of mushroom soup plus 1 cup water diluted into the pan.  Whisk or stir until combined.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Add meatballs to mushroom soup/gravy bake in over at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes. 


NOTE: Taking advantage of the oven’s heat, you might want to bake well-scrubbed potatoes, acorn squash, apples, or other foods which can be used with the meatballs or in later meals.

Grilled Mozzarella Sandwiches and Creamy Tomato Soup

This sandwich and soup combo is comforting and nourishing all in one.  It warms the belly and the bones and will bring a smile to your loved ones faces. I often make this for guests coming in for the weekend.  It’s easy to heat up and not too filling.  No muss, no fuss – that’s what a sammie and soup are all about anyway, in my opinion!

Grilled Mozzarella Sammies (Serves 2)

4 slices of your favorite sandwich bread (I prefer sourdough)

4 slices of fresh mozzarella cheese (I buy the good stuff in water)

4-6 fresh basil leaves

2-4 tablespoons of store bought or freshly made pesto

2-4 tablespoons of butter

Heat a grill pan on stove with one tablespoon butter and olive oil. Meanwhile, butter 4 slices of bread on all sides.  Place two of the pieces of bread on heated grill pan.   Top with mozzarella cheese, basil and pesto and remaining slices of bread.  Grill for 2-4 minutes until golden brown, then flip and cook on the other side.  If you have a Panini press, these are great to use to press the sandwich down.  A shortcut is also an aluminum foil wrapped brick, which suits the same purpose.  Place on plate and cool 1-2 minutes before serving.  *Great with Tomato Soup! 

Creamy Tomato Soup

One 28 oz can San Marzano tomatoes (whole peeled)

 28 oz of water

 ¼ cup of red wine *can leave out if necessary 

1 clove of garlic

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 Parmesan cheese rind (these are great for flavor and can also be bought at specialty stores like Whole Foods)

Splash of half and half

Pinch of red crushed pepper flakes

Hefty pinch of Herbs de Provence

Pepper and Salt to taste

Freshly shaved Parmesan and basil for garnish

Heat soup pot to low to medium heat.  Add olive oil to pot and sauté clove of fresh garlic, salt, pepper, and spices for one minute or until garlic is lightly brown.  Add wine and simmer 5-10 minutes to reduce liquid. Crush tomatoes with hands or potato masher. Add tomatoes and water to pot and stir until well blended. Next, add Parmesan rind to soup pot and bring tomato soup to a simmer 30-45 minutes.  Finish with a splash of half and half and cook 2 minutes. Remove rind and serve.  Use freshly shaved Parmesan cheese and fresh basil as garnish and serve. 

*Can be stored in fridge for up to 5 days.  Also can be stored in freezer.

Squash Blossom and Burrata Pizza (modified from Pizzeria Mozza)

1 prepared pizza crust of your choice (my favorite is Pizza Romana’s hand stretched crust which I discovered in my local Italian deli)

¾ cup of your favorite pizza sauce*

10-12 fresh squash blossoms, stems removed

¼ - ½ lb of fresh burrata

1 tbsp of olive oil

Pinch of salt, pepper, red crushed pepper flakes and Herbs de Provence

*you can also make your own with pureed canned whole peeled tomatoes, herbs and spices, and a drizzle of olive oil.

Place pizza stone in oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Prep squash blossoms and pizza sauce.  Place prepared pizza crust on a plate, cover with tomato sauce.  Layer with the squash blossoms (fanned out).  Sprinkle herbs and spices over pizza and transfer pizza (without plate) to pizza stone. Cook in oven until golden and crispy.  Lastly, using a large tablespoon, scoop heaping tablespoon of cool burrata on four different sections of the pie.  Finish with a drizzle of olive oil and serve immediately. 

Old Fashioned Chicken or Turkey and Dumpling Soup


Let’s face it – chicken or turkey bones are the best for a broth and ideal for an old fashioned soup!  I like to sauté the vegetables and use VERY rich broth for my recipe.  The last 15 minutes, I add egg noodles and my easy herbed Bisquick dumplings to make this comfort food into a savory meal. This recipe can feed an army of folks – or in my family, 4-6 people.


One leftover chicken/turkey carcass to make the broth

2 1/2 quarts water

peel of onion (used for soup recipe)

celery stalk ends (used for soup recipe)

2 bay leaves

several sprigs of fresh rosemary and thyme (feel free to add fresh sage as well)

salt and pepper to taste


1 large onion, chopped

4 medium carrots, chopped

4 medium stalks of celery, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

2 tbsp of butter or olive oil

1-2 cups cooked shredded or chopped chicken or turkey meat

1 ½ cups of uncooked egg noodles

1 bay leaf

salt and pepper to taste

64 oz of chicken broth (or two cartons of low sodium chicken broth if using a shortcut)


 1 – 1 ½ cups Low fat Bisquick

¾ cup or 1 cup of skim milk

Pinches of salt and pepper

1/2 teaspoon of dried herbs (1 – 2 tbsp if fresh) – I like to use fresh rosemary, thyme and parsley




For Broth:


In a large soup pot, place chicken/turkey and all ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 1-1/2 hours or until chicken/turkey meat falls of bone and broth is a dark rich flavor. You can let simmer all day if you want a richer broth (just keep an eye on the liquid).  Remove bones from broth; allow to cool. Place in large plastic containers with lids and freeze if not going to use within a few days. Otherwise, use it to make the ol’ fashioned soup with dumplings!


For Soup:


In a large soup pot, heat butter or olive oil in pot on medium heat.  Sauté carrots, celery and onions for 6-8 minutes or until golden brown.  Incorporate garlic and sauté for an additional minute.  Pour rich and delicious broth in pot and stir.  Place bay leaf in broth and veggie mixture and bring to boil.  Reduce heat to a medium for the next 45 minutes or so.  Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.  Add egg noodles about 15 minutes before serving and stir (noodles will be cooked from broth).  While noodles and soup simmer, spoon bisquick mixture over soup in ¼ cup batches. Cover with lid and let cook for 10-12 minutes or until biscuits are cooked. Serve immediately!