Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Famous Sweet Potato Dish


Today you will have to follow a link to my new blog in order to read this post.  I can’t tell you how excited I am about my new blog.  Just Pinch Me!

My new blog has the same name but is on a different hosting platform.  If you are one of my subscribers and receive the links to this blog via email (or in your RSS feed) you have to resubscribe once you get over to my new blog in order to keep getting notifications.  Do this by clicking the subscription button in the right sidebar on the new blog.  Thanks for your support and I hope you will join me over at my new home!

Click on the link below and I’ll take you on over

New Just Pinch Me Blog!!


Read Full Post »

We’ve all got them.  Those tried and true, always getting accolades, could make them in your sleep recipes.  Where you can say to your friends – I’m bringing the orzo and they know what you mean.

The really cool thing about this recipe is you can serve it hot or cold.  If you toss the orzo while it is still hot with the fresh spinach, the spinach will cook, wilt and melt into the dish.  Or if you wait until the orzo cools down to toss it in, the dish tastes more like a pasta spinach salad – fresh and crisp.

Last week we attended a concert at The Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park on the Chicago lakefront.  A beautiful night with awesome friends.  We had a great picnic on the lawn while listening to Ray LaMontagne.  And no…..we absolutely did not sneak any lemon drop martinis into the pavilion.  (Here’s a picture of Ruth and Fred at the concert.  Ruth is doing a really good job hiding the lemon drop martini)

My very talented friend Kerri brought lemony orzo and spinach for the picnic and it was scrumptious!  I can’t wait to share it this recipe with you.

Lemony Orzo and Spinach


1 box orzo (rice shaped pasta), cooked and drained according to directions

6 oz fresh baby spinach, washed and dried

1 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese

1 cup crumbled feta

1 pint sweet grape tomatoes

Dressing Ingredients

1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

2/3 cup really good olive oil

1 TBSP Dijon mustard

3 large garlic cloves, crushed

3/4 tsp coarse salt


Squeeze the fresh lemon juice and whisk all the dressing ingredients together until emulsified

I wash the spinach in the sink.  Be sure to pull the spinach out before you drain the water, then the grime and dirt from the spinach stays in the water.

If you do not have a salad spinner run, don’t walk to the store and get one as soon as possible.  I love my OXO salad spinner and use it just about everyday.  I have a little one to spin fresh herbs in too.

Toss the orzo (hot or cold), spinach, grape tomatoes, parmigiano-reggiano, feta and dressing all together.  Enjoy!!

Read Full Post »

Back in the day, I was very smug in my academic knowledge of the culinary category of cold soup-dom.  Let me set the stage – my downstate hometown was a wonderful place to grow up, but we didn’t have much occasion to eat cold soup like gazpacho or vichyssoise for that matter.  We liked our soup like our women….hot.

As a little girl I remember coming across an article about cold soup in one of the Good Housekeeping or Ladies Home Journal or Redbook magazines at my dentist office.  Completely intrigued, I researched the whole topic (how did we do that pre-Google?).  Gazpacho is a Spanish based, cold, raw soup with a tomato base and loads of fresh vegetables.  Sounded sophisticated and wonderful!  Couldn’t wait to try it.

Vichyssoise – cold potato soup?  Not so much.

Fast forward many years to my first big girl business lunch at my first post college job in big, scary downtown Chicago.  I had on my pumps and my requisite white button down with a silk bow tied at the neck.  Just a wee bit intimidated (really scared shit-less) trying to navigate the menu, participate in the conversation with my elders and make sure I knew which of the three forks to use for what.

That’s when I spotted gazpacho on the menu.  I could finally try it!  All the other stuff fell away, I was transported back to that dentist’s office as a little girl and I quickly ordered.  One of the elders was not familiar with gazpacho so I regaled him with my extensive knowledge, never admitting that I had yet to try it.

The first bite was incredible but surprising.  This was not sophisticated after all, just fresh and acidic and oh-so-tasty.  Homey and comfortable.  I could taste the tomato and the cucumber and the bell peppers separately but then all the flavors came together to create something bigger and better and delicious. Definitely worth the wait.


inspired by Ina Garten and also Good Housekeeping, Ladies Home Journal or Redbook (can’t remember which one).


6-8 plum tomatoes, cut in half, remove seeds (keep the pulp though) and cut into one inch cubes

2 cucumbers, skin on, cut in half lengthwise, scoop out seeds and cut into one inch cubes

3 yellow bell peppers, remove stems and seeds and cut in one inch cubes

1 red onion, cut into one inch cubes

4-6 cloves fresh garlic, minced

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup white wine vinegar

6 cups tomato juice

salt and pepper to taste


The trick to keeping each vegetable flavor separate and not muddling the flavors is to process each vegetable separately in the food processor.  Put the one inch cubes of each vegetable in the food processor one at a time and pulse 8-10 times to roughly chop the vegetable.  Once processed, add to a big bowl.  Don’t over process or you will have a boring, baby food mess!

The tomatoes, cucumbers, yellow bell peppers and red onion each in one inch cubes and in bowl of food processor.

The same, roughly chopped by pulsing the food processor 8-10 times.

Add all the rough chopped vegetables to a big bowl along with 6-8 cloves fresh minced garlic.

Stir all together and salt and pepper to taste.  Whisk together olive oil and white wine vinegar.  Pour over vegetables and stir.  Let all the vegetables have a minute to soak up the great flavors in the vinegar and oil.  Add the tomato juice.  Stir again.  Refrigerate until time to serve. I love serving gazpacho with mini melted cheese toasts.  Enjoy!!

Read Full Post »

There is nothing better than great fish at a great restaurant.  Making it at home…….I’ll be honest here, kinda intimidating.  To make things even a bit trickier, I have these two pesky prerequisites that must be met before attempting to cook fish at home.  It can’t taste fishy and it can’t smell fishy.  Yes, very limiting but it works for me.

Enter stage left…Tilapia.  Tilapia is a buttery, flaky, firm whitefish that meets the criteria.  It is very easy to find and very easy to whip up so we have it often. Although Tilapia can get a nutritionally mediocre “rap” sometimes (it is mostly farm raised on corn which lends itself to lower levels of those healthy Omega 3’s we need), it tastes really, really good so we forgive it.

I buy my Tilapia at my favorite warehouse store that starts with a “C”.  I need to work out a royalty deal with these guys before naming them yet again in a post.  I bring home a five pound pack and open it up to make sure it smells like fresh ocean.  Then we have Tilapia three nights in a row to use it all up while it is still fresh.

My favorite tilapia recipes are pan-seared tilapia with spring succotash (pictured above – click on link for spring succotash recipe),  pan seared tilapia fish tacos with avocado salad  (ditto – click on link for recipe) and another upcoming post: pan seared tilapia with asparagus, spinach and white wine butter sauce (coming soon).   

Pan Seared Tilapia


1.5 pounds fresh Tilapia filets

Cajun seasoning to taste

Salt and Pepper

2 TBSP butter

2 TBSP olive oil

1 lemon


Dry the Tilapia filets off with a paper towel (necessary to get a good pan sear) and sprinkle both sides with salt, pepper and Cajun seasoning.

Melt the butter and olive oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat.  Add two or three filets at a time to cook.  Don’t crowd the filets in the pan or you will have steamed fish instead of pan seared.  Cook the fish three minutes and then turn over with a spatula.

Continue to cook three minutes on the other side.  If your fish is straight from the fridge or a bit thicker it may take a little longer.  I take a peak at the fish with the tongs of a fork to make sure it is done (when the flesh is no longer translucent).  Finish it (off the flame) with a good squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Serve immediately and enjoy!!

Read Full Post »