Spicy Roasted Eggplant Linguini!

I always make Eggplant Parmesan when I have an eggplant. Lately, I have been roasting eggplant and squash in the oven with olive oil and salt and pepper, it is delicious!


These roasted vegetables can be ingredients or stand alone as a side dish! In this pasta dish, the roasted eggplant is garnished with red pepper flakes, oregano and Basil, fresh tomatoes, and of course the fresh grated Parmigiano Reggiano.



Adding the red pepper flakes to the pasta dish adds a new layer of flavor without being overwhelmingly spicy. Here is the recipe…




Spicy Roasted Eggplant Linguini
(Serves 4)
1 large Eggplant
2 tbsp. Olive oil +1/4 cup
1 tsp. Oregano
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 Roma tomatoes, wedged
2 tbsp red pepper flakes
1 tbsp. Fresh basil, finely chopped plus some for topping
1 lb. linguini, fresh or dry
Parmigiano Reggiano, fresh grated

Preheat oven 425degrees.
Slice Eggplant and place in a single layer on an inset cookie sheet.
Salt/pepper and let sit for 20 minutes.
Drizzle with olive oil and bake for 20 minutes until softened and starts to brown.
Meanwhile, sautéed garlic and onion in a pan with olive oil.
Add tomatoes, Basil, pepper flakes and oregano. Let it bubble until it thickens.
Remove Eggplant and continue to simmer 10 minutes.
Being a pot of water to boil, cook pastas until al dente and drain.
Add 1/4c cup pasta water and incorporate pasta into pan with the sauce.
Top with red pepper flakes, Basil, parsley, and fresh grated Parmigiano Reggiano.



Remember, always use fresh Parmigiano Reggiano, the only real Parmesan cheese from Parma, Italy.

Parmesan Princess is a proud US Ambassador Parmigiano Reggiano.

Homemade Roasted Chicken Noodle Soup!

We all have our own favorite comforting chicken noodle soup recipe. When we crave to feel warm and loved inside, nothing else will really do!  When the air turns chilly and the house is cooler inside than out, it has to be a classic chicken noodle soup!


My grandma’s recipe is the best, with homemade drop noodles and mounds of fresh grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese!  I remember the smell, the taste, how hot it would be in the kitchen from the stove while eating the hot soup. (My pappap’s loud slurping.) ; ) One thing I still do is eat a few bites and and cover the top in cheese again before it melts back into the bowl.


Is it necessary to make your own chicken broth?  No way!  But in my opinion, if you are going to cook the soup for hours anyway…why not?!  So when you roast the chicken anytime, always keep the bones and drippings.  I freeze them in a ziploc bag.  If you are starting from scratch, you will be roasting the chicken.  After it cools you pull the chicken off of the bones, gather the drippings from the roasting pan, garlic, the bones, the dark meat, bay leaf, and water to make a stock.  This is your soup! Cook the stock for 2 hours, strain and cook the broth with the veggies for the last hour.  If you roast the veggies in the oven at the same time, you get even more flavor without having them just boil.

Shortcuts that totally work; buy a rotisserie chicken and pull the chicken off of the bones, use store bought chicken broth, throw in 1/4 lb. of your favorite dry, fresh noodles.  But when the kids are sick, or when you will be home all day on a rainy Saturday, please try the homemade stock.  It is seriously a game changer.


Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

(Feeds 4 + a bowl or 2 leftover)


1-1/2 tbsp. butter

4 carrots, chopped

3 celery stalks, chopped

1 medium onion, diced

3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 roasted chicken, meat off the bone shredded and chopped

2 quarts of chicken stock (homemade or bought)

Salt (if needed) / Pepper to taste

1/4 lb. Linguini noodles, cut into 3 2-1/2 inch noodles

Parmigiano Reggiano, fresh grated


Cook the stock….


Melt butter with garlic, and onion to a large pot and cook until the onions are translucent.

Add carrots, celery, and chicken and simmer for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Add pepper (and salt) to taste.

Add noodles 10-15 minutes before you are ready to eat.

Spoon into bowls and top with fresh grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese!




Enjoy Parmigiano Reggiano, the only Parmesan, made in the PDO zone of Parma, Italy. I am thrilled to be US Ambassador for the brand!

Cilantro Lime Shrimp with Chili Garlic Dip !

Sometimes the naming game is half the battle. Take this dish for example. Cilantro Lime Shrimp with Chili Garlic Dip was the final decision, but really the shrimp are chili, too. How much of the ingredients of a dish should be in the title? Is it going to be a surprise that I also roasted corn off of the cob and served it all over rice? With over two years of blogging recipes, there is still so much more to learn!



Shrimp have been on my brain all week! I wanted to do shrimp tacos for taco tuesday, but the kids wanted “meat” tacos so we did steak. And today, as the ruler of my castle, decided to tell my kids they are eating what I make. I should mention now they ate it all… and seconds. #Winning!


I love to do a citrus flavor and it always ends up with a cumin, chili powder, garlic salt blast on something. You know, because logically those three ingredients totally complement lime. Just something I’ve picked up with my obsession with these spices.





It is easy to overcook the shrimp in this dish because they are coated. Look for the pink and meat to turn white instead of translucent. There is nothing worse than a succulent shrimp dish that lost all of its succulency….Well, you know what I mean.

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Can we talk about this dip? Chili Garlic Dip from Oil & Vinegar is actually the finest form of a Thai Chili Sauce I have ever had! Try it, Buy it, it is amazing. Last night I made bacon wrapped chicken and we also dressed those with this delicious sauce. The cooking TV show I co-host Between The Eats partners with Oil & Vinegar, check out some other fun products we have used in fabulous dishes!

Here it is…

Cilantro Lime Shrimp with Garlic Chili Sauce

2 lbs. unpeeled, raw shrimp
6 cups of your favorite rice, prepared or uncooked
3 ears corn on the cob, cut off the cob
2 tbsp. chili powder
1-1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. garlic salt
black pepper
2 limes
1 small bunch cilantro, chopped
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 Jar Chili Garlic Dip, or your favorite spicy dipping sauce


Peel shrimp, leaving tails intact.
In a small mixing bowl, blend chili powder, cumin, garlic salt, and pepper together.
Place shrimp in a large bowl and coat with spice mixture.
Begin cooking rice according to package.
Heat olive oil in a large pan.
Add 1/2 shrimp, be sure not to overcrowd or overlap. I did 2 batches.
Squeeze 1/2 lime over shrimp.
Cook 3-4 minutes and flip for 2-3 minutes, or until shrimp are pink and start to curl up.
Remove from heat and add second batch. Squeeze other 1/2 lime. Repeat cook. Place shrimp on a plate.
Meanwhile, add corn to the pan with all of the seasoning drippings and goodness in the bottom of the pan.
Roast until slightly browned and softened. Try one, should have a pop but be tender.
Remove corn from the pan and place into a bowl.
Add rice to pan, top with shrimp, 3/4 chopped cilantro and 1/2 lime juice.
Serve with corn and a scoop of chili garlic dip!

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Quick and Easy Homemade Cinnamon Rolls!

Cinnamon Rolls just look like they are hard to make. Their perfect cinnamon swirl twisting evenly inside the layers. Their golden brown finish teetering on the line of over and undercooked.


The best is the sweet cinnamon aroma that fills the house for days. Baking bonus!



I have mentioned many times, I am not a baker but I am always upping my baking game. This recipe uses a simple, no yeast sweet dough recipe that yields the most quick and easy homemade cinnamon rolls you’ve ever made.


There has to be a trick? Make sure your knife is sharp when you slice the rolls. Isabella used a kids butter knife on her batch and they smushed into cinnamon roll globs.


Here is the recipe…


Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

2 cups flour
3 tbsp. sugar
3 tbsp. baking soda
4 tbsp. butter
1/2-1 cup milk

1 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp. cinnamon
2 tbsp. pecans, crushed
4 tbsp. butter


In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, and baking soda and set aside.
Mix in butter and then milk with hands until incorporated and a dough forms.
Flour and roll out into a rectangle or oblong shape.
Spread filling onto the dough.
Roll the dough and cut into slices with a share knife.
Add rolled dough slices to a greased pan.
Bake 325 degrees 17-20 minutes or until golden brown.





The Best Sloppy Joes Ever!

The perfect sloppy joe is not too tangy, a sauce with a balance of sweet and spicy. No ketchup. I think that ketchup must be the ingredient that I have never liked in homemade sloppy joe sauce.

A friend said to me, “Why would you make your own sloppy joe sauce?” I have become a big proponent of knowing what I am eating. With all of the preservatives and additives in a canned sauce, I think it’s a great idea to enjoy a DIY version.


My kids love sloppy joes and these are easily prepared as a quick meal for a busy family.



Here is the recipe:

The Best Sloppy Joes
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 bell pepper, finely chopped
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp. Worcestershire
1 tbsp. Sriracha sauce
2 cups tomato sauce
1 can tomato paste
Salt and pepper

4 your favorite sandwich rolls
Sliced jalapeños
Leafy lettuce
Pickles, sides

Brown the ground beef, pepper, and onion in a pan.

Drain grease.

Add all other ingredients to the slow cooker and cook on low 4 hours.

Serve on sandwich rolls with a lettuce base, topped with jalapeños, a pickle, and your favorite sides.



Vallozzi’s Pittsburgh Italian Wine Dinners!

Vallozzi’s Pittsburgh, an Italian favorite in the Burgh, brings a chic edge to traditional Italian. The cuisine and the ambiance reflect a twist on the classics, while permiating comfort and style.  I have visited the downtown Pittsburgh restaurant before with friends many times for drinks, a pizza or an antipasto platter with wine, but never had the full dining room experience.

This time, they had me at Sicilian Wine Dinner…

One week per month Vallozzi’s is taking guests on a regional wine tour. The concept is innovative.  The course dinner is offered with or without wine pairings all week, in addition to the regular menu.  This On Demand wine dinner is awesome.  Not everyone in your party has to order the same way.  How much?  The Prix Fixe is $55 + $30 for all of the wine pairings.

Who else was in the restaurant?  Young trendy foodies, dressed to kill.  It was a Friday night.  There were a few generational family tables, and couples of all ages out for date night.  Point being, this Italian restaurant is totally not moth balls and red sauce.  It’s fun and hip and Italian, a rare combo.

This coming week September 19-24th the menu is from the Tuscan region. Let me begin by saying I was here for the food and friends. I dined with The Food Tasters Pittsburgh, Breelicious Bites, and Pittsburgh documentarian Rick Sebak.  If you want to hear about the wine specifics, I’m not sure. The wines were delicious, smooth, and arrived at the table so fast -because we were talking and eating-that I barely got the story. There was so much food! I did get one photo of one bottle.

Those of you who aren’t in Pittsburgh and won’t be traveling to Pittaburgh anytime soon, that’s ok. Have your friends over, grab some wine, and we will cook together ; )

We started with and a glass of Prosecco and an antipasto platter that blew me away! The choices, the quality, the freshness, were unmatched. The mortadella was a favorite!



Primi, was the fried cuttlefish with pepperoncini, lemon, arugula, and a garlic aioli. Very similar to calamari it was something new for me!

This dish…this dish was my everything about the dinner. Before I showed up i had my eye it. Food and smells sometimes take me back to my childhood. I remember my grandparents pan frying zucchini blossoms. I was young, but I remember the delicacy with which they were handled, and the joy that they brought my family. Excellent job, Chef. These were phenomenal.

Eggplant Copanata with a twist!
The twist being a chickpea polenta.

Now for the main courses, yep I’m serious.
Fettuccini al Nero di Calamari
I am not a fan of squid ink pasta, but the flavors were delicious!

Farsumagru- Veal cutlet rolled with ham, sausage, cheese and pan braised with herbs, white wine sauce, eggplant coponata. This dish was ridiculously good! Ummm meat rolled with meat and cheese, yes!

Tonna alla Pelermitana-

Dentice all Forno con Cipolle e Brodo di Carne- Baked Sea Bream

Dolci! Desserts and Limoncello – Sfingi Sicilian Donuts & Cannoli – the gelato was gone so fast I didn’t get a photo!  Those of you who watch the cooking tvshow I co-host Between The Eats know my favorite dessert every is Sfingi. These were incredible!


Thank You, Vallozzi’s for a beautiful Sicilian wine dinner. See you in Tuscany!


Vallozzi’s Pittsburgh
220 5th Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA

Butternut Squash Tortellini With Pumpkin Spice Brown Butter Cream Sauce!

The first ever pumpkin spice cheese launched last week so I had to try it!

Beemster developed a Pumpkin Spice Gouda, without pumpkin but with the perfect combination of pumpkin pie spices. I tasted it and decided it would be great in a brown butter cream sauce. When melted, this cheese is even better!



I love pumpkin ravioli with a sage cream sauce in the fall for Sunday Supper with family or Halloween before trick or treat! This pumpkin spice cream sauce adds a richness that my traditional sauce lacks.


Here is the recipe…

Butternut Squash Tortellini with Pumpkin Spice Brown Butter Cream Sauce

12-15 homemade butternut squash tortellini, or your favorite store bought
1/2 stick butter
3 rosemary sprigs, small amount for garnish
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2-3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated Beemster Pumpkin Spice Gouda cheese, additional for garnish
salt/pepper to taste


Melt butter in a pan by swirling over medium heat.
When mostly melted, add chopped garlic and rosemary sprigs.
Let it bubble until brown and thick.
Meanwhile, boil 2 quarts of water and add tortellini until floating.
Strain and set aside.
Add cream little by little, whisk, until desired golden brown color.
Remove from heat and whisk in grated cheese.
Top tortellini with sauce, grated cheese, and finely chopped rosemary.

I served this tortellini with rosemary roasted chicken quarters and a beautiful salad!





Sweet Pea Manicotti!

Sweet peas are so underrated. Always associated with baby food, I feel like they are the last ingredient we think of to make something serious. For example, my kids will have peas with something else, I will grab them as a garnish, but they are hardly ever the main act.



So there is always that experimental Meatless Monday where various vegetables get new jobs. This particular Monday, I was looking for a manicotti veg and there was the bag of frozen peas. I blended the peas with ricotta, egg, and fresh grated parm for the filling. Just then Bella walked into the kitchen, “Is that mint ice cream?” she asked. Well, it looked like it!

I was thinking they are never going to eat this but I’m knee deep, so this is what we are having for dinner. The neighbor kids came over, who always love to help me cook, so I boiled the manicotti shells and the kids had a filling party. It was so great! We discussed the careful art of spooning the filling without tearing the shell, and filling each side so that the middle gets some, too.




We blended some extra peas, ricotta, and parmesan cheese for the topping. All the kids loved it! Was it the sweetness from the peas? The fact that they were involved in creating the final product? Who knows? But I was thrilled! Make these for dinner because they are delicious, but more importantly so the kids can help and hopefully eat!


Sweet Pea Ricotta Manicotti

2 cups fresh whole milk ricotta
1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
1 egg
1 16 oz. frozen sweet peas – saving 1 cup
8 dry manicotti shells

For Topping:
2 cups peas
2 tbsp. ricotta
1/4 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
1 cup sliced cherry or grape tomatoes
2 tbsp. pine nuts
parmesan to grate on top

Preheat oven 325 degrees.
Blend Ricotta, peas, parmesan cheese, and 1 egg.
Salt/pepper and set aside.
Boil manicotti shells 5-8 minutes until just under cooked.
Fill manicotti shells with ricotta pea filling with a small spoon or piping bag.
Spray 9X13 glass pan with non-stick spray.
Spoon left over filling in bottom of pan and spread with a spatula.
Line pan with one layer of manicotti.
Cover with foil and bake 20-30 minutes until filling is hot and starts to bubble.
Meanwhile, make topping. Blend peas, ricotta, and parmesan cheese.
Remove manicotti from oven and allow to set 10 minutes.
Plate the manicotti by placing them on a smear of topping underneath, one scoop on top, sprinkle with sliced tomatoes and pine nuts and finish with fresh grated parmesan cheese.



Fig Recipes!

‘Tis the season!  

Fresh figs are out in full force in Pittsburgh.  A little early this year -usually they are peaking around mid-September. My favorite annual fig recipe is no recipe at all just fresh figs halved and drizzled with Balsamic Vinegar.  With this year’s batch, I made a few quick and easy recipes that anyone can enjoy!


Fig & Prosciutto Salad with Aged Gouda and a Garlic Honey Vinaigrette

3 cups baby greens /arugula mix, or your favorite salad base
6 slices prosciutto
2 Fresh Figs, sliced
2 tbsp. Beemster XO cheese ribbons, or grated

For the vinaigrette:
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup olive oil

Vinaigrette Directions:
Combine all in a sealable container, shake until well blended.

For the salad, build with greens base.
I like to roll the prosciutto (it kind of looks like flowers!) and place into the greens.
Add cheese ribbons and fig slices.
Drizzle with vinaigrette.



Spiced Fig French Toast
8 thick slices Italian bread
4 eggs
1/4 cup heavy creme
3 tbsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tbsp. ground ginger
1/2 tbsp. ground nutmeg
1 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tbsp. cinnamon
butter to coat the pan
fig spread or fig jam
maple syrup

Mix eggs and cream until pale yellow.
Add all other ingredients and mix well.
In a pie dish, soak each side of the bread.
Heat butter in your largest pan.
Add bread slices, 2-3 at a time being sure not to crowd the pan.
Flip when the side is brown.
Sprinkle with sugar, cinnamon.
Smear fig spread.
Pour warm maple syrup.



Prosciutto Ricotta Flatbread with Fresh Figs

Prepared Flatbread or pizza shell
3 tbsp. Olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
6 slices of prosciutto
1 cup ricotta
2 fresh figs sliced
1 cup arugula
Fresh grated Parmesan cheese.

Layer starting with brushed olive oil and garlic.
Add prosciutto slices and spoon ricotta.
Top with sliced figs and fresh grated Parmesan cheese.
Bake 425 degrees on a pizza stone until shell is golden and cheeses are melted.
Finish by sprinkling arugula and more fresh grated Parmesan cheese.



Toasted Pecan Honey Figs over Ice Cream
1 fig sliced
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1 tsp. Sugar
2 tbsp. Fig spread
2 tbsp. Honey
Few pecans
Vanilla ice cream

On a parchment covered cookie sheet, place fig slices and pecans in a single layer.
Warm honey and fig spread in a small saucepan.
Drizzle pecans and figs with honey mixture.
Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.
Bake 350 degrees until figs soften, 5-8 minutes.
Top ice cream with all, drizzle additional warmed honey.


Other recipe suggestions:
Simple Fig Toasts- fig spread, topped with your favorite cheese, meat, and sliced figs

Fig muffins/bread – sub fig for Banana or strawberries

Prosciutto Wrapped and Drizzled Figs


Southwest Chicken Thighs!

Chicken thighs are the best! When cooked with the right technique, they get crispy skin and juicy, flavorful meat. My favorite cooking method is to brown skin-on thighs with a simple olive oil and seasoning rub, and throw them in the oven for the perfect finish.


It took me a bit to master the art of browning the skin because I am too impatient. Did you ever go to flip and the skin detaches from the meat and sticks to the pan?
The solution to this problem is making sure the pan is at a high heat and waiting to flip until the skin is crisp. If you can be patient, your chicken thighs will be perfect!



Here is the recipe…

Southwest Chicken Thighs
4-6 skin on chicken thighs
3 tbsp. Olive oil
1 tbsp. Garlic salt
1 tbsp. Chili powder
1 tsp. Cumin
1 tsp. Red pepper flakes
2 limes


Preheat oven 350 degrees.

Rub chicken thighs with olive oil using fingers or brush.

Sprinkle with garlic salt, cumin, chili powder, and red pepper flakes.


Heat your olive oil swirled pan to high heat.

Place chicken thighs skin side down and cook until seared and browned approx. 7-9 minutes.

Flip and brown other side of chicken.

Place pan in oven 12-20 minutes until chicken is cooked through.


Remove from oven.

Place sliced lime on each thigh.

Serve with your favorite sauce and sides.