Tag Archives: free recipe

Caponata #TipTuesday #CooksTreat

It’s that time of year when there is a bounty of vegetables available to cook. One of my favorites is eggplant. Whether grilled, a la parmigiana or rollatini, it’s a tasty treat!

Today’s tip is how to make caponata which is a type of eggplant spread. It’s great over crostini or if you want, tossed with pasta.



    1/2 cup olive oil
    1 onion finely chopped
    1 celery stalk finely chopped (I like the inner hearts with the leaves)
    2-3 garlic cloves finely chopped
    1 1/2 pounds eggplant diced into half inch cubes (remove some of the skin to reduce bitterness)
    4-6 Roma tomatoes, diced (remove the seeds and skin if you wish. I normally don’t)
    1 8 oz can tomato sauce
    1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
    2-4 tbsp sugar
    1/2 cup capers (rinsed clean of salt or squeezed to remove vinegar)


    Put 1/4 cup olive oil in large skillet and heat.
    Add onion and celery and saute until you they are just starting to get a caramel color.
    Add the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil, garlic, and heat.
    Add the eggplant and stir until the eggplant is getting browned.
    Add the apple cider vinegar and deglaze the pan.
    Mix in the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, capers and sugar.
    Cook until all the vegetables have melded together. About half an hour.
    Salt and pepper to taste. Also, caponata has a sweet/sour kind of taste to it. Add vinegar/sugar to taste.
    Place in a container or toss some with pasta!
    Caponata will keep for about a week in the fridge.

I hope you enjoyed today’s Tuesday Tip!

#WriteWed We’d Rather Be #Writing #Recipes

RatherBeWritingI want to thank my friend Lois Winston for rounding up a group of author friends to share time saving recipes and other tips to help you stay organized.

My recipe in the book combines a number of very healthy elements and you can change it up in a variety of ways with whatever you may have handy. Plus, you can use it as a side dish or make it a hearty meal by pairing it with some nice crusty bread. I like to fry an egg and put it over the dish to make it a main meal.

If you like this recipe, please check out the others in We’d Rather Be Writing: 88 Authors Share Timesaving Dinner Recipes and Other Tips. It’s a total bargain at only #99cents!

Swiss Chard with Chorizo and Cannellini Beans


2 pounds Swiss Chard chopped
1 cup cured chorizos chopped
1 small onion chopped
1 clove garlic chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 can (14 ounces give or take) white cannellini beans, drained and rinsed


Place olive oil in skillet and heat the oil. Add chorizo and cook on medium heat.

While chorizo is cooking, wash Swiss Chard, dry, and remove larger tougher stems. Chop.

When chorizo is browned, remove from heat and add onion, garlic and Swiss Chard. Wilt the chard and let any juice from the greens evaporate a bit.

Add beans and toss to heat. Add the cooked chorizo to the greens and beans. Salt and pepper to taste. You may want to give it another drizzle of olive oil at the end. Total prep time is about 20-30 minutes and the above will serve two people as a main dish or 4 as a side dish.


Instead of the chorizo, try bacon, prosciutto, kielbasa or ham.

Instead of the Swiss Chard, substitute spinach, mustard greens, kale or escarole.

To bulk up the dish as a main meal, cube potatoes or sweet potatoes and cook along with the chorizo. Remove before adding the greens so the cubes will stay crunchy and then add back after you’ve warmed the beans.

Feeling in a soup kind of mood? Heat chicken broth, place the chorizo, greens and beans in a bowl and add a few ladles of broth to the bowl.

Voila, a dish that can have a myriad of variations! We call dishes like this refrigerator-cleaners in our house, but we also call them something else: Tasty! I hope you enjoyed this recipe from We’d Rather Be Writing: 88 Authors Share Timesaving Dinner Recipes and Other Tips.

Grilled Radicchio, Romaine & Chicken Salad #FoodieFriday

Yes, you are reading that correctly. It’s not just the chicken that’s grilled, but also the radicchio and romaine! You’ll think it’s crazy, but that slight little char on the green stuff creates an amazing flavor. It takes a little longer to make your salad, but it’s worth the effort. This recipe is for two, so double the greens and/or chicken as necessary.


2 Chicken Breasts – Halved lengthwise
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 lemons
1/2 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic
radicchio head – halved
romaine head – halved
Shaved parmesan curls (As much as you want)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts


Marinate the chicken breast in the mustard and juice from one lemon. If you can, do this for about an hour.

Oil your grill and pre-heat it.

Rub 1/4 cup olive oil on all sides of the radicchio and romaine heads. Salt, but not too much since the parmesan has a lot of salt. Put a skewer through the 3 garlic cloves.

Place both the radicchio, romaine and skewered garlic on your grill. You want to leave them on there until you get a little bit of char on the leaves and cloves. Maybe 5-10 minutes depending on your grill. Once the first side is grilled, flip on the other side until you get the first bit of char, then remove from heat.

Place the marinated chicken breasts on the grill. I halve them so they will cook faster, but they could dry out, so watch them while you prep the rest of the salad.

Chop the radicchio and romaine and place in bowl. Chop the garlic and add to greens. Sprinkle the chopped walnuts and parmesan curls over the greens. You can make parmesan curls by running your vegetable peeler across a nice chunk of parmesan. Drizzle the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil and the juice of the remaining lemon over the greens.

Once cooked, slice the chicken breasts lengthwise and place over the salad. Voila! A very different salad for you. To change it up, try using blue cheese instead of parmesan and/or add craisins or other fruit. You’ll love it!


Picadillo #Cuban #Recipe

We’re expecting a big snowstorm tomorrow, so it’s time to think about hunkering down and having something hearty and tasty, but also easy-to-make. After all, you’ve spent time shoveling so you don’t want to slave over the stove to fill your belly.

This dish was always a staple in my house and it still is because it’s easy to make and delicious. Think of it as Cuban-Style Sloppy Joe’s.

My favorite way to serve picadillo is over white rice and topped with a fried egg. Yummy!!

Cuban-style Picadillo

1 cup chopped onions
1 cup green peppers (although I prefer red peppers)
3 cloves chopped garlic
1/2 cup chopped green olives with pimentos (These are your regular olives in a jar!)
1 pound chopped meat
1 small can tomato sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tsps cumin
salt and pepper to taste

The above recipe serves 2, so you can double accordingly.

Heat olive oil and then add peppers. Cook until starting to get soft. Then add the onions and saute until starting to get soft. Add the olives, garlic and chopped meat. Cook until chopped meat is starting to get brown. Add cumin, salt, pepper and tomato sauce.

Simmer for about half an hour.

Serve over white rice (or brown if you’re trying to be healthier).

Again, I like to top mine with a fried egg. In TORI GOT LUCKY, two of the friends own a restaurant and I have not doubt they’d have some snazzy version of picadillo on the menu. Maybe they’d add some raisins or capers as some people do. Or possibly serve it over a saffron-flavored rice or ripe plantain nests! This dish is so versatile, it allows you to really experiment with things to add.

cuban picadillo recipe

#Rum Runner Punch from GHOST OF A CHANCE

GHOST OF A CHANCEWhen I was creating the backstories for the vampires and angel in my vampire Christmas novella, WHEN HERALD ANGELS SING, it seemed only natural that someone who chose a pirate’s life in the 1800s might decide to become a rum runner during Prohibition.

It was so much fun exploring that period of time, that when the opportunity presented itself to write a novella, GHOST OF A CHANCE, I decided to do some more research and created a story with a mystery that had occurred along the Jersey Shore during the height of Prohibition.

Those were exciting and dangerous times along the shore then. Bootleggers ran rum from the Caribbean and whiskey from Canada in various forms and a great deal of the liquor that was sent throughout the country made its way through Newark at one time.

Anyway, I thought it would therefore be appropriate this morning to offer up a recipe for a Rum Runner’s punch for you! If you don’t drink alcohol, feel free to leave out the rum or substitute some rum flavoring in the recipe.

Rum Runner’s Punch

2 cups rum (light or dark. Dark is sweeter)
1 bottle sparkling apple cider (about 25 ounces)
2 cups orange juice
2 cups pineapple juice
1 quart fruit punch (feel free to use a sugar free product)
Shot of grenadine for color

Mix all of the above in a punch bowl or large container. Slice up some oranges, pineapples and maraschino cherries as a garnish. Serve over ice.

You can also substitute a sparkling wine or ginger ale for the sparkling apple cider. Also feel free to go with a spiced or coconut-flavored rum for some variety.

Barley & Leek Risotto #Recipe

In my family, we ate rice almost every night in one way or another. Whether as a side dish, combined with beans, in chicken and rice, or in a comfort food of fried eggs over rice, it was there every day.

In my husband’s Italian family, it was pasta every day. Even their family dog ate it every day.

Which makes adopting a low carb diet quite a challenge. But I will say this: I’ve lost nearly 23 pounds in about two months, so it’s definitely working!

One challenge has been having a side dish that’s got the mouth feel and taste of rice, but is healthier. I’ve mentioned quinoa and you could probably substitute that in this recipe. But why not try another healthy whole grain: Barley?

Barley’s dietary fiber gives your intestinal health a boost and can also help to lower cholesterol. Plus it’s a good source of niacin, a B vitamin and has been known to help people with Type 2 Diabetes with their glucose and insulin responses. For more information on all this, you can click here.

Today I’m giving you a recipe I’ve adapted after watching Mary Ann Esposito and her Ciao Italia show. Did you know that Mary Ann has been on the air for 23 years, making her show the longest running cooking series in America?

Thanks, Mary Ann! I love your recipes and advice on great Italian food.

But for now, here is my version of a barley and leek risotto.

Barley and Leek Risotto

1 cup barley (be sure to rinse it first; you can also soak it for an hour to reduce cooking time)
2 cups vegetable and/or chicken broth (keep this heated)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup diced mushrooms
1 cup sliced leeks (Be sure to thoroughly rinse. Leeks can have lots of dirt between the leaves)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/8 cup fresh parsley minced

Put 1 tablespoon olive oil in a stockpot and heat on high. Add the mushrooms and brown them. Then add the leeks and sweat them down for about a minute. Add another tablespoon of the olive oil and once it’s hot, add the barley and toast it a bit. Coating the grains in oil will help keep them from clumping.

Add the hot broth, a cup at a time. Stir until the broth is almost absorbed, then add the second cup of broth and cook down at a low simmer. Keep stirring and checking to see if the barley is al dente.

Once the barley is al dente, add the tablespoon of butter and cook it a bit more. Finally, stir in the parmesan cheese and parsley. Add salt and pepper to taste here. I say hold up on the salt since the broth and/or parmesan have enough, but that’s up to you.

Serve as soon as you can. You don’t want to let it clump as it sits.

Also have additional parmesan on the table to add to the top of the barley! Voila. A simple and tasty risotto dish.

If you don’t have leeks, you can substitute shallots, scallions and/or regular onions. It’s just that leeks have a milder, almost asparagus taste. They’re actually known as the “poor man’s asparagus.”

Also, keep those heavier, bigger leek greens. Next time you’re making a soup, clean them, tie them together with butcher’s twine and toss them in. They impart wonderful flavor to any broth!

Hope you enjoyed today’s recipe!

The Prince’s Apricot and Almond Rice Pilaf and a #FreeRead

There is a scene in THE PRINCE’S GAMBLE where Prince Alexander decides to show FBI Agent Kathleen Martinez just how liberated a man he can be by making her dinner. I guess he hoped to woo his way into her heart by way of her stomach!

I shared the prince’s sour cream chicken recipe a couple of Tuesdays ago and now I’m going to share the recipe for the apricot and almost rice pilaf he made!

Apricot and Almond Rice Pilaf


2 cups rice (you can use brown rice. I also wash the rice several times but that is a matter of choice)

4 cups broth (chicken or vegetable)

1-2 onions (medium to small. You can substitute shallots here!)

1/2 cup diced apricots

1/3 toasted slivered almonds

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon unsalted butter


Heat the butter and olive oil in a pot. Add onions and saute until onions are translucent, but not brown. Add the rice and cook until just turning golden. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Once it’s boiling, reduce to a low simmer and add the diced apricots. Once all the liquid is absorbed, fluff with a fork and add the toasted almonds. You don’t want to add them too early because they will get mushy!

Serve with the sour cream chicken or any kind of chicken. You can also use brown rice or quinoa in the recipe. Possibly even check out using couscous.

As for the free read . . .

Rum running, white slavery, money laundering, ghosts, murder and mysteries along the Jersey Shore! Now you get a free read of A GHOST OF A CHANCE when you purchase THE PRINCE’S GAMBLE. Plus, you’re helping out a good cause since my share of the proceeds from the sales from now until March 1 are being donated to the Hurricane Sandy NJ Relief fund. Help rebuild and restore the Jersey Shore and get some fun Jersey Shore reads while you do! THE PRINCE’S GAMBLE is now available for sale at Amazon (http://amzn.to/WGsxKy), B&N (http://bit.ly/WxipEv) and Kobo (ht.ly/fBKN0) as well as a number of other online retailers.