Shrimp Pasta Medley with Mushroom & Asparagus

shrimp pasta

I love a well-crafted pasta dish with a nice balance of vegetables, flavors and herbs. I also love shrimp, and tend to cook it often for several reasons: it’s delicious; healthy (low calorie, low fat and a good source of vitamin B12 and omega-3); easier on the wallet than other seafood; elegant; available year-round; and cooks quickly. This flavorful and refreshing pasta dish is bursting with both earthy and sweet flavors brought out by the mushroom, onion, garlic, lemon and wine. Asparagus is currently in season which added a nice touch of green to the dish this time around.



Prep time: 12 minutes Cook Time: 28 minutes Total time: 40 minutes

Servings: 5 to 8


  • 12 ounces pasta (3/4 of a 1 lb box of pasta)
  • 1 pound uncooked shrimp, tail and shell removed
  • 2 medium yellow onions, chopped
  • 1 pound mushrooms, sliced (cremini or shitake preferred)
  • Juice from 1 large lemon
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest (Optional, for garnishing)
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 stalks asparagus, chopped into 1½ inch spears
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Prepare ingredients: Wash shrimp and remove shell and tail. Chop onions, mushrooms, tomato, garlic and parsley and set aside.
  2. Cook pasta: Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil, add the pasta and cook for roughly 8 minutes or until al dente.
  3. Cook onion, asparagus & mushroom mixture: In a large non-stick pan, heat 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil on medium-low heat. Add onions, asparagus, mushrooms, 1/2 teaspoon salt, half of the white wine (1/4 cup) and 1/3 of the minced garlic to pan. Sauté on medium heat for roughly 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are lightly browned and mushrooms are softened. Remove mixture from pan and set aside.
  4. Cook shrimp: Sprinkle shrimp with salt and pepper. To the same (empty) pan, heat another 2 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil on medium heat. Add the shrimp, diced tomato and remaining garlic; sauté over medium heat for roughly 5 minutes, turning frequently, until the shrimp just turn pink. Halfway through cooking, add remaining wine and juice of half a lemon.
  5. Combine: Change heat to low. Add pasta and vegetable/mushroom mixture to the pan with shrimp. Add remaining lemon juice, parsley and parmesan cheese. Stir well and cook for 2 more minutes until well combined. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Garnish with lemon zest and freshly grated parmesan cheese.


Pairs well with: Green salad, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay

Soundtrack Pairing: Honky-Tonk Woman (Rolling Stones), Mustang Sally (Wilson Pickett), Mary Jane’s Last Dance (Tom Petty)

Sea Salted Caramel Popcorn

Warning: Do not make this recipe if you have little self-control. You will eat much more than planned. From movie nights to party favors to Superbowl Sunday, this addictive treat truly tastes better than any store bought caramel popcorn I have ever had. … Continue reading

Grapefruit Strawbasil Popsicles

Happy Fourth of July weekend, people! What summer treat is more All-American than the popsicle? While strolling home from Billy Joel’s concert on the first day of summer this year (also All-American) I popped into a popup popsicle shop called PopBar on … Continue reading

Mushroom Chicken Piccata


You know that bottle of white wine that you opened a few days ago that is starting to turn, but you just can’t stand to pour it down the drain? Cooking with wine is always a great solution to this conundrum, and what led me to whip up my traditional chicken piccata recipe with the added flavor of sautéed mushrooms. The magic that happens when you combine white wine, butter, lemon, mushrooms and capers is pretty fantastic.



Prep time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 20 minutes Total time: 35 minutes

Servings: 4


  •  6-8 ounce skinless,boneless chicken breasts, cut thin (about 4 pieces)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, for dredging (skip for gluten-free)
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons butter (substitute with 3 more tablespoons butter for lactose-free)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound diced mushrooms 
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 lemon, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup dry, white wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons capers, rinsed
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped


  1. Wash chicken then pound to soften (Tip: if you do not have a mallet, use the bottom of a heavy pan/pot or jar)
  2. Season with salt and pepper. Dip chicken into flour to dredge both sides; shake off any excess and set aside.
  3. In a large nonstick pan on low heat, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter. Add chicken and cook on medium-high heat for roughly 3 minutes on each side, until lightly browned and cooked through. For the last 3 minutes of cooking, add the thinly sliced lemon wedges to the pan. Remove chicken with lemon slices and transfer to plate. ChickenPiccataPic-5
  4. Add  garlic, mushrooms, capers, remaining butter and olive oil and to the pan. Cook on medium for 3 minutes until softened. Add lemon juice, wine and chicken stock. Stir, then bring to a light boil. Add chicken to the pan and simmer for another 5 minutes until reduced and heated through. ChickenPiccataPic-6
  5. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve over angel hair pasta or rice.


Pairs well with: Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay

Soundtrack Pairing: Scenes from an Italian Restaurant (Billy Joel) Play

Gluten Free png 

White Bean Kale Salad with Feta

A few months ago, I saw comedian Jim Gaffigan live, and I’ll never forget this classic skit about our generation being obsessed with kale:

“Can we stop with the kale propoganda?…Kale is a superfood, and its special power is tasting bad. Kale is so good for you, it’s like a really bitter spinach…with hair. I just can’t stand the kale bragging…’I just had some kale’…No one asked you! I was at a school event…and one of the Moms was nice enough to make a bean soup so I went over and tasted it and she said [enthusiastically], ‘I snuck some kale in there!’. I wanted to throw the bowl at her.” – Jim Gaffigan

As hard as I laughed, I have to admit, I am a big fan of kale, and prefer it to regular lettuce or spinach in salads. I’m also a big fan of successfully turning people on to kale, such as my Dad who said “So, what you making for me?” when he first learned that I was making a kale salad as a side on Mother’s Day.

At the same time, I am by no means a health-nut, nor do I think kale is a supremely magical food. I simply go by the rule, “the greener the vegetable, the more nutritious it will be,” and when eating my vegetables, I want to take in as many vitamins and nutrients as possible.

Some people gripe over the roughness of kale, especially in salads, but the method of scrunching or massaging the leaves explained here softens the leaves down to the texture of regular lettuce or spinach. Others state that kale is too bitter, but you can always balance the taste with some dried cranberries, lemon, honey or citrus fruit.

This White Bean Kale Salad is a filling salad that is jam-packed with protein. Now that I’ve exhausted myself convincing you to give kale a try if you have not already, I will simply say that this salad is DELICIOUS and bursting with flavor!



Total time: 10 minutes (no-cook)

Servings: 4 side salads


  • 1/2 bunch kale leaves, destemmed and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
  • 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar (optional)
  • 1/2 tablespoon honey (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 (15 oz) can small white beans (drained)
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (skip for lactose-free or paleo)
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion (optional)


  1. Wash kale leaves, destem kale (remove rough stem pieces) and chop into small pieces. Add into large bowl.
  2. Add olive oil and lemon juice to bowl. Using your hands, scrunch or massage the kale leaves for 2 to 3 minutes, or until leaves are softened like regular lettuce.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and toss until well mixed.
  4. Eat immediately or within 24 hours for the best taste.

*Tip: De-stemming kale means removing all rough stem pieces. The remaining kale without stems should feel soft, like regular lettuce. 


Pairs well with: Sangiovese, pinot noir, grilled chicken, sausage

Soundtrack Pairing: Bitter Sweet Symphony (The Verve) Youtube Playlist

HEALTHY Gluten Free png  Paleopng



Turkey & Rice Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed Peppers Image

Stuffed peppers are a great recipe to have up your sleeve because they are easy to make, healthy, colorful and make for a nice presentation. These peppers are stuffed with lean ground turkey, brown rice and topped off with melted mozzarella, but feel free to modify the recipe to your liking, or to the ingredients you have in your kitchen. Do you prefer cheddar cheese to mozzarella? Want to use ground beef instead or go vegetarian? Want to swap out the rice with quinoa? Go for it, and enjoy.



Prep time: 6 minutes │Cook Time: 42 minutes*  │Total time: 48 minutes* 

*Not including rice cooking time

Servings: 4 large stuffed peppers


  • 4 large bell peppers (any color)
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice (about 1/2 cup uncooked)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound lean ground turkey or beef
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce (extra sauce for topping, if preferred)
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (1/2 cup for stuffing, 1/2 cup for topping) *Skip for lactose-free
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Cut top of bell peppers off; discard seeds and membranes (you want the inside of the pepper to be smooth and rounded like a bowl).
  3. In a medium nonstick pan or skillet, add olive oil and saute minced garlic, chopped onions, ground turkey and cook until meat is browned, roughly 8 minutes. Add rice, diced tomato, tomato sauce, salt and pepper and 1/2 cup mozzarella. Stir well and cook for 3 minutes, or until hot.
  4. Scoop mixture into each bell pepper half. Place stuffed peppers into a casserole dish or baking pan. Sprinkle each filled pepper with a layer of shredded mozzarella cheese.
  5. Bake, covered, for 30 minutes.
  6. Serve with extra heated tomato sauce on top for more flavor.


Pairs Well With: Pinot noir, merlot, bread, bruschetta (try my Peach Bruschetta with Honey Feta & Balsalmic Glaze), salad, baked potato, potato chips.

Soundtrack Pairing: Hot Stuff (Donna Summers), Snow (Red Hot Chili Peppers) Youtube Playlist



Penne alla Tito’s Vodka

Penne Alla Vodka


Penne alla vodka is one of those classic Italian-American dishes that never fails to please, and doesn’t require hours slaving away in the kitchen. Everyone loves a traditional marinara sauce, but vodka sauce kicks it up a notch with the spiciness from the vodka and its warm, creamy texture.

Now, I introduce you to my favorite vodka: Tito’s Handmade Vodka. I don’t know what this Tito guy from Texas does in his distillery that makes his vodka so incredibly smooth with the perfect amount of sweetness, but I just know that ever since I was introduced to it in a classic gimlet it has been my go-to spirit. Not to mention, it’s a fraction of the cost of higher end vodkas. Tito’s Vodka also has a website (is this vodka made for me, or what?) as the Tito’s family has made a considerable effort towards rescuing animals over the years which I think is pretty awesome.

While you can use any vodka for this recipe, the distinct taste from Tito’s really shows through in the sauce.



Prep time: 5 minutes │ Cook time: 55 minutes │ Total time: 1 hour

Servings: 8


  • 1 pound uncooked Penne pasta
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 medium white onion, diced small
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup Titos vodka
  • 1 (28 oz) can tomato puree or sauce
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 8 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • Grated parmesan cheese, for garnishing
  • 8 ounces sweet Italian sausage (Optional)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, if cooking sausage


  1. Add butter to a large saucepan on medium heat. Add diced onion and garlic and cook for 3 to 5 minutes until softened.
  2. Add Titos vodka and cook for 10 minutes, or until reduced to half.
  3. Add pureed tomato, crushed tomatoes, chopped basil, parsley, salt and pepper. Simmer for 35 minutes on low, uncovered, and add heavy cream for the last minute of cooking.
  4. While the sauce is cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook penne pasta for roughly 8 minutes until al dente.
  5. OPTIONAL: Remove casing from sausage links and add to a medium skillet with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Cook on medium heat, breaking up the meat, for roughly 5 minutes until browned.
  6. Drain the pasta of water and stir in vodka sauce. Garnish with parmesan cheese, freshly ground pepper, more chopped basil and enjoy!


Pairs well with: Sangiovese, Chianti, Montepulciano or Syrah for wine. Sausage, garlic bread, bruschetta, caesar salad, fresh vegetables, green salad, or caprese salad for sides.

Soundtrack Pairing: NEW: Hit play below to listen to a prearranged playlist Papa Loves Mambo (Dean Martin), Mambo Italiano (Dean Martin), Volare (Dean Martin), Fly Me to the Moon (Frank Sinatra), Come Fly With Me (Frank Sinatra) Youtube Playlist

Spicy Cucumber Margarita

Cinco de Mayo is right around the corner and this margarita with a kick is a perfect change-up to the traditional margarita. I’ve had a thing for spicy margaritas for a little over a year now and my favorites to date are at Dutch Kills in Long Island City, Ofrenda, and Wilfie and Nell in the West Village. This version that I’ve concocted is refreshing from the cucumber with an added twist from the habanero infused tequila.

What’s Your Spice Meter?

Don’t like the heat? Just use regular tequila and you’ll have a refreshing cucumber margarita.

Mild. I like some spice. Follow the instructions below.

Mas fuego, por favor. Infuse for up to 24 hours or add more peppers and let it burn.



Prep time: margaritas- 5 minutes  Prep time (habanero tequila): 4 to 24 hours  │ Servings: 2


For Habanero Tequila (Made in advance):

  • 1 cup tequila
  • 1 habanero pepper (raw or dried, faster with dried)

For Margaritas:

  • 1/2 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded & chopped*
  • 4 ounces habanero infused tequila
  • 2 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice (1/4 cup or juice from about 2 medium limes)
  • 2 ounces orange liqueur such as Triple Sec or Cointreau
  • 1 ounce agave syrup
  • Ice, for serving
  • 2 lime wedges, for garnish
  • Kosher salt, for rimming

*1/2 cucumber yields roughly 4 ounces undrained cucumber juice


For Habanero Infused Tequila (make 4 to 24 hours in advance):

Cut habanero pepper in half and add with tequila to a bottle or sealed mason jar. Cover and store at room temperature for atleast 5 hours, or until desired intensity is reached up to 24 hours. NoteIf too spicy, you can dilute with more tequila.

For Margaritas:

  1. Prepare glasses: Rub the the edge of the glass with a lime wedge. Pour salt onto a small plate and dip the rim of the glass into salt.
  2. Blend*: Add chopped cucumber, habanero tequila, lime juice, Triple Sec and agave to blender. Flash blend for about 15 seconds until smooth.
  3. Serve: Garnish with ice and lime wedges.

*Note: If you do not want to use a blender, muddle the cucumber into the bottom of the glass and shake other ingredients together in a cocktail shaker.


Pairs Well With: Guacamole, chips, salsa, tacos, you and some friends on a hot summer day.

Soundtrack Pairing: Tequila (The Champs), Oye Como Va (Santana), Margaritaville (Jimmy Buffett), Fever (Peggy Lee)

Homemade Almond Butter


Peanut butter is one spread that I absolutely love, but I’ve recently taken a liking towards it’s healthier alternative: almond butter. It’s delicious with toast, bananas, apples, oatmeal, celery sticks, to add to smoothies or in my case by the spoonful. Homemade almond butter tastes so much better than store-bought and is also much easier on your wallet (normally $8 to $10 in grocery stores).  You will need a high speed blender or food processor and a little bit of patience from both yourself and your neighbors if you live in an apartment building (you’ll be blending for up to 25 minutes). Processing time is less with a food processor, but I am limited to the amount of kitchen gadgets in this little kitchen so I use the Ninja Professional Blender (available for under $100). The end result is completely worth it and you can store for up to 3 months, although I doubt it will last that long once you have a taste.



Prep time: 25 minutes with high speed blender, or 12 minutes with food processor 

Servings: 1-1/4 cups almond butter


  • 2 cups unsalted, roasted almonds
  • 2 tablespoons walnut oil, canola oil or coconut oil (only 1 tablespoon if using a food processor)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

Optional ingredients (Note: may decrease shelf life): maple syrup, cinnamon, honey, chocolate, cocoa powder, coconut, melted chocolate. 


  1. Add almonds, oil & sea salt to food processor or high-quality blender.
  2. If using a Ninja, Vitamix or other high-speed blender: Pulse the blender a few times to break down the almonds. Once broken down enough where it is not too loud to blend, start to blend on low speed. You will need to scrape down the sides of the blender often during blending. Continue to blend, scrape the sides and repeat. Note: Do not let your blender overheat while processing. Take a break if this occurs. Around the 10 to 15 minute mark you will notice the contents will begin to form large chunks that are sticking together; your almonds will also “warm up” in temperature. Continue to blend and scrape the sides. Add 1 tablespoons of oil to speed up the process. After another 5 to 10 minutes your almond butter will suddenly become creamy and turn lighter in color. Blend for 2 more minutes for a creamier texture. Make sure not to over-blend or your spread will become stiff.
  3. If using a food processor: Using the “S” blade, add almonds, oil (1 tablespoon) and salt to the food processor. Process for roughly 5 to 12 minutes (depending on the strength of your processor), scraping the sides as needed. Large chunks or a heavy mass will form at about 5 to 8 minutes. Add 1 more tablespoon of oil and continue to process. A “buttery” almond spread will form around 10 to 12 minutes. Make sure not to over-blend or your spread will become stiff.


Pairs Well With: Toast, English muffins, bananas, apples, dried fruit, oatmeal, raw vegetables, celery sticks, smoothies.

Soundtrack Pairing: Be Here Now (Ray LaMontagne), The Way I Am (Ingrid Michaelson)

HEALTHY Gluten Free png  Paleopng

Easy Chicken Noodle Soup

The weather in the Northeast has been a roller coaster. Last Saturday I was enjoying the outdoors in 70° weather, Wednesday brought snow and unfortunately Thursday brought a sore throat and stuffy nose. There’s nothing better than soul-pleasing chicken noodle soup to sooth your ailments or simply to enjoy on a cold day. It normally takes a few hours to develop a flavorful broth, but with the help of bouillon cubes (which are found in the soup or spice section of the grocery store) you can enjoy this delicious, comfort food in just 30 minutes.



Servings: 6 to 8 

Prep time: 10 minutes │ Cook time: 20 minutes  │ Total time: 30 minutes


  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 3 carrots, chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 8 cups water
  • 5 chicken or vegetable bouillon cubes* (add 1 to 2 more for a more flavorful broth)
  • 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese or sour cream (Skip for lactose-free)
  • 1 cup uncooked short pasta (such as elbows, rotini, or egg noodles)
  • 6 to 8 ounces shredded, cooked chicken**
  • Freshly ground pepper, to season
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley

*Substitute 1 bouillon cube with 1 teaspoon bouillon powder. Standard bouillon cubes are 1/2″ x 1/2″. If they are larger, adjust accordingly.

**Equivalent to 1 chicken breast. Store-bought Rotisserie chicken works well. You may also use turkey breast or any simply seasoned cooked chicken.


  1. Prepare vegetables: mince garlic, chop onion, celery, carrots and parsley. Shred chicken.
  2. Pour olive oil into a large saucepan and turn heat to high. Add garlic, onion, celery and carrots; cook for 6 minutes or until softened, stirring often.
  3. Add water, bouillon cubes and parmesan cheese to the pot and stir. Bring to a light boil then lower heat to medium; cook for 5 minutes then add pasta and boil for roughly 7 minutes until “al dente”.
  4. Add chicken, pepper, parsley and stir. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese for extra flavor, and serve hot!


Pairs Well With: Salad, bread, crackers

Soundtrack Pairing: Stormy Weather (Lena Horne), The Weight- Take a Load Off Fanny (The Band), Someone to Watch Over Me (Ella Fitzgerald), Unwell (Matchbox 20)

HEALTHY Lactose Free png

Mangocado Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing


I recently had brunch at Love Lane Kitchen in Mattituck, NY to top off a weekend of weddings and wine tastings. This restaurant was filled with things I love: white walls with splashes of turquoise to remind me of the ocean, fresh locally grown foods, mason jar glasses, cute & clever signs such as “Complaint Department 200 Miles That Way →” and most importantly, bottomless fresh-brewed self serve coffee. I had indulged all weekend and was craving something fresh and light, and they serendipitously had a Mango Avocado Salad on the specials menu which really hit the spot. The next day I found myself stirring up my own Cilantro Lime Avocado dressing for lunch on the patio and it earned quite the praise. This recipe is a true winner.

Note: This salad would alternatively be excellent served vegetarian or with grilled shrimp.



Prep Time: 15 minutes │Cook Time: 10 minutes │Total Time: 25 minutes

Servings: 3 large dinner salads or 5 to 6 side salads 


For salad:

  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 ripened mangos, diced into 1 inch cubes or slivers (I used champagne mangos)
  • 1 1/2 soft avocado, sliced (use 2nd half for dressing)
  • 4 to 5 ounces spring lettuce (roughly 4 cups) (substitute with romaine or any green lettuce)
  • Salt and pepper, for seasoning

For dressing*:

  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice, from approximately 2 limes
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil or walnut oil
  • 1/2 soft avocado (optional**)  
  • 1/2 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon srirachi, or any hot sauce
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

*Feel free to add more cilantro, honey or srirachi to your palates liking.

**Skip avocado if you plan to make the dressing ahead of time or store. Avocado will turn the dressing brown. 


  1. Make dressing: Combine lime juice, oil, 1/2 avocado, honey and srirachi into a bowl. Stir with whisk or fork until smooth with no chunks. Add cilantro, coriander, salt and pepper; stir until smooth and set aside.
  2. Prepare salad: Add lettuce to plate or bowls for serving. Slice avocado and mangos and add to top of salad.
  3. Cook chicken: Wash chicken, cut into strips and season both sides with salt and pepper. Add olive to a non-stick pan then add chicken. Pour 1 tablespoon of lime juice over the chicken. Turn heat to medium and cook chicken for roughly 4 minutes on each side until just cooked through (no pink). Flip the chicken and move around in pan once more (quickly) to pick up the grilled color and flavor from the pan.
  4. Combine: Add grilled chicken to the salad, pour dressing atop, garnish with freshly ground pepper and serve!


Pairs Well With: Guacamole and chips, bread, Prosecco, albariño

Soundtrack Pairing: Island in the Sun (Weezer), Don’t Worry Be Happy (Bobby McFerrin), Could You Be Loved (Bob Marley)

HEALTHY Lactose Free png Gluten Free png Paleopng