Category Archives: Italian


There are no words.

It changed my life.

I don’t know how I had managed to stay away this long, but in December my mom and I spent a lovely afternoon strolling around the store, examining every shelf, and sharing some delicious foccacia. 

Not only can you dine at 10 different restaurants under one roof, but you can also buy the freshest fish, many varieties of fresh pasta, hearty, crusty italian bread, big hunks of cheese, fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables, beautifully presented cheeses (yes, more cheese), delicious, perfect pastries, people making mozzarella in front of you, and hundreds of varieties of olive oil. If you haven’t been yet, get to NYC and get yourself to 200 5th avenue at 23rd street immediately!

pasta puttanesca

Hi friends,

I have a ton of new posts coming up for you as I have been cooking up a storm lately! Classes ended last Thursday, and what better way to procrastinate studying for finals then to cook? I have already had two 6 person dinner parties and countless late night dessert sessions. This is the Australian version of finals week and I like it.

Today I am sharing my delicious homemade puttanesca tomato sauce with you. I love that you can basically just throw anything you have in the fridge into the pan and come out with a hearty homemade sauce in about the time it takes to cook the pasta. The ingredients I show should only be a guide, as you can really use any vegetables you have/want. I paired it with whole wheat pasta because I like the healthy nutty flavor, but you can use any pasta you have in your pantry.

Puttanesca Sauce

Note: This recipe makes enough for 2 people, but you can easily double it if you are serving more, or if you want to freeze some for later.

5 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
1 zucchini, diced
10 mushrooms, chopped
handful of artichoke hearts (canned or marinated), chopped
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
handful of kalamata olives, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 can whole peeled tomatoes with juices, loosely chopped
Pinch cayenne pepper, and S/P

Saute garlic and onion until they start to brown. Add zucchini and mushrooms until cooked through and wilting. Then add artichoke hearts, capers and olives and stir everything together. Add tomato paste, and stir to combine. Finally, add the canned tomatoes, breaking up the whole tomatoes with your hand or a knife. Add the cayenne pepper and seasonings, and let simmer for 10 minutes, or until your pasta is ready.

I served this with my favorite roasted asparagus and a glass of red wine.

Bon Appetit.


artichoke olive crostini

Artichoke olive crostini are another one of my favorite hor d’oeuvres that i’ve made multiple times and were a huge hit on new years eve.

They are so simple, only requiring a handful of ingredients and a food processor, yet they pack quite an intense bite.

I decided to make a bunch of baguette toasts (cut up regular and whole wheat baguettes, brushed with olive oil and baked in the oven for a few minutes), and then put out a variety of spreads: artichoke olive, bruschetta, spicy black bean, olive tapenade, and a garlic eggplant spread.

It worked perfectly for my cocktail party where everyone wanted easy food that they could eat with their hands, and it satisfied a variety of taste preferences.

Artichoke Olive Crostini courtesy of Smitten Kitchen

  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
  • 1 cup large green pitted olives (i couldn’t find canned green olives, so I got them at an olive bar from the supermarket)
  • 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and drained
  • 1 15-ounce can of artichoke hearts, drained
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • slices of toasted baguette

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a food processor, process the garlic, olives, capers, artichoke hearts and olive oil to a coarse paste.

only 3 ingredients!

2. Toast the bread on the oven rack for 6 minutes, or until crisp and browned. Spread the olive paste thickly over the toasts and serve.

Note: If made ahead of time, just let it come to room temperature before serving.

Let me know what you think!

Also, here’s a picture of my coffee table spread from my party, hopefully it will inspire you to host a party of your own!

a range of cheeses, crackers, olives, cornichons, pepper crusted salami, and rice crackers.


Homemade Pizza!

When visiting friends, I always try to schedule one night when we can make dinner at home instead of going out to a restaurant. So my Northeastern friends and I decided to make homemade pizza with an arugula salad on the side. It was a perfect hands on meal that got everyone involved in the dinner process, and was equally delicious to eat!

Jill and Miles help roll out the dough

Fresh cherry tomatoes and mozzarella with an herb crust

Jill and Courtney getting started on the second one

Arugula salad with Mediterranean feta, cherry tomatoes, and avocado

We did this this  meal the “semi-homemade” way (for all those Sandra Lee lovers/haters). With a quick trip to Trader Joe’s we picked up the two different types of pizza dough, and the rest of the ingredients we needed. With slightly more time/effort we could have made our own dough and tomato sauce, but then again, we are college students after all.

After a quick bake in the oven at 450 degrees for about 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the crust is nice and crispy, we all sat down to a lovely dinner.

Tomato, mozzarella and mushroom pizza

Jill, Jordan, Courtney and I

The remnants

Two night later, I was invited to my friend Peter’s house out in Concord, MA for dinner. Peter and I met at Cornell last fall when we both transferred in to the ILR School. His family loves to cook, and it was such a treat to join in on their family dinner-grandma and aunt included! They are lucky enough to have a brick oven built into their kitchen!! So we decided to make (how could you guess?) homemade pizzas!

Pizza oven built into the wall

This was pizza done the real way. Dough made from scratch. Fresh tomato sauce. An assortment of mozzarella, fontina and parmesan cheeses. Thinly sliced potatoes, mushrooms, asparagus and caramelized onions. And lastly prosciutto or spicy salami. For each pizza we played around with the different toppings.

tomato sauce, spicy salami, and a sprinkling of mozzarella

Asparagus and mushroom

Thinly sliced potato, fontina cheese, caramelized onion, and prosciutto-by far the best one of the night

There must have been others, but they were eaten too quickly to snap pictures of.

the kitchen.

It was a wonderful night filled with good food, good friends, and a loving family.

Lasagna Dinner Party

Hosting dinner parties is one of my favorite things to do. My housemate Lucy and I decided to throw a midweek, impromptu dinner party, and what better to make than a quick and easy lasagna! We decided on a vegetarian, spinach and mushroom lasagna with lots of garlic and cheese, which is healthy, filling, and delicious all at the same time!

We decided to prep the lasagna the night before, so we could just pop it in the oven and have dinner ready in a snap.

1 box lasagna noodles
(I used no-boil)
3 cups tomato sauce (I used puttanesca)
2 cups sliced mushrooms (I used cremini)
1 package defrosted and drained frozen spinach
1 cup part-skim ricotta
1 egg
½ tsp garlic powder
fresh mozzarella cheese (about 1/4 pound)
2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper

  1. I used no boil lasagna noodles to save time, but if you don’t have those, place lasagna noodles in a large bowl and pour boiling water over the top. Allow to stand for about five minutes.
  2. Mix the ricotta, egg, pinch of salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
  3. Layer sauce, pasta, ricotta cheese, spinach and mushrooms (reserve some mushrooms for the top). You should be able to get three layers depending on the size of the dish.
  4. Top with fresh mozzarella, mushrooms and grated parmesan. Bake at 350 covered with tin foil for at least an hour. I like to slightly brown the top and set the oven to broil for the last 2 minutes with it uncovered.

We started with bruschetta (cut up a baguette, toasted in the oven, and topped with chopped up tomatoes, basil, and olive oil), and an arugula salad with mediterranean feta, craisins, sliced almonds and a balsamic vinaigrette.

Everyone loved the food, and had a great time!