Category Archives: recipes

Sweet Potato and Feta Salad

Just thought I would share a perfect summer salad.  I thought I invented it but alas, found similar recipes on the internet.  Mine was simpler and only had these ingredients:

  1. Roasted sweet potatoes — so easy to make, I just drizzle with olive oil and wrap in foil, then bake at 375 (?) for about 40 minutes or until tender. 
  2. Feta
  3. Salad — I used a mixed bag of organic greens
  4. Black pepper
  5. Olive oil
  6. Salt

Here’s the genesis of the recipe: My youngest suddenly decided that he hated  sweet potatoes, after I had already roasted a large batch.  I sliced a few and ate them with a drizzle of olive oil and salt.  Then I decide to get more creative.  I sliced the rest of the potatoes and added it to the salad, crumbling feta on top.  For the dressing, I simply used extra virgin olive oil, salt and freshly ground black pepper.  I had a feeling the salty feta would complement the sweetness of the potatoes and I was so right.  Kid — you don’t know what you’re missing!

Do You Really Want To Read About Crock Pots?

Another Every Wednesday Post…

Okay, so I addressed my “fear” of using crockpots and made my first dish which can only be described as a soupy, tomato-y mess that my toddler refuses to eat.  I can only say that it included carrots, onion, chicken breast and tomatoes. I cannot say that it turned out to be any recognizable dish.  My husband did “save” it by re-cooking it for hours with mushrooms. 

Back to the drawing board…

October 19: Learn A Few Recipes Really, Really Well

Every Wednesday, I’ll (try) to post up a Simple Living Tip, with an emphasis on tips that can be done while living a more traditional 9-to-5 life. 

Unlike my husband, I’ll never think of cooking as “relaxing” or really enjoyable. However, after years of marriage, I have become more confident in the kitchen and I can make a variety of tasty dishes with minimal effort, even improvising as necessary.   I think that having several go-to “no-cook” dishes has definitely simplify my life.

Here are my go-to dishes when I’m tired, hungry and don’t want to think too much:

  1. Pasta Salad:  Easy to customize and great for lunch the next day, too.
  2. Pasta with tuna (and sometimes capers, olives and parmigiano): Pasta without any red sauce is a life saver when you’re not very inspired.  This one is quick to make; you simply dump in a can of tuna, preferably tuna in olive oil, and mix well. 
  3. A Big Salad: Italians generally don’t eat a salad as the main dish, but my husband and I do this often in the summers.  Open a bag of pre-mixed greens, mix a vinegrette of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and add in toppings such as bell peppers, avocado (a favorite of mine), carrots, tomatoes, sliced ham, artichoke hearts, cubes of cheese, goat cheese etc..
  4. Rice Salad: An Italian summer favorite. See recipe here.  Can also be lunch the next day.
  5. Frittata: I love the versatility of frittata. It’s easy to make and you can mix and match ingredients like onions, spinach, bell peppers, etc.. I prefer to keep the ingredients simple like onion and bell peppers.  Great for dinner or lunch.
  6. Oven-baked rosemary chicken and potatoes: This one takes a little more effort but you can make a big pan of chicken with potatoes for two dinners.  By effort, I mean that you do have to check the chicken and flip it around from time to time.
  7. Stir Fry: Another mix and match recipe. Saute a 3-4 ingredients in a big wok with soy sauce and oil. I generally pick 2 veggies and 1 meat or tofu. Vegetables I like include: bell peppers, mushrooms, bean sprouts, broccoli and bok choy.  Make rice in a rice cooker in the meantime.  You can also use different sauces and spices for variety.
  8. Fajitas: Saute beef (or chicken) with bell peppers, onions and a fajita mix.  Wrap in a tortilla and add hot sauce.

What are your quick and easy go-to recipes? 

I also have the vague feeling that I wrote something similar to this post before but I did not find it going through my blog archives, or it could have been an unfinished post that never saw light of day….

Beer Basted Lemon Chicken

It has been a relatively good week in terms of dinners at the oilandgarlic household. Don’t ask me how — we’re still scrambling each night to get kids to sleep, fed and changed. I  still need to sleep early for work.  Nevertheless my husband managed to make a delicious beer-marinated chicken dish in between changing diapers, answering emails and feeding the dogs.

Ingredients: Lemon pepper, 6 Chicken drumsticks, beer, olive oil, salt and pepper

During the afternoon, he marinated the drumsticks with beer.  He may have seasoned it, too.  That evening, he baked the drumsticks while we got kids fed and ready for bed.  I don’t know how long it took (at least one hour…) but I do know that he left some beer at the bottom of the baking pan and then pretty much left it baking, turning it over only once or twice.  A combination of broiling/baking cooking methods seared the outside and gave it a nice crunch while the beer kept the chicken tender.   Tip: He generally broils or bakes it at a high temperature first for a  few minutes in order to give the skin a nice crispy texture, then lowers the temperature later.

Earlier in the week, he also made a tasty spaghetti with Italian blue cheese.  He’s done something similar with rocquefort. Basically he cooks the pasta and then coats it with a mix of the cheese and a little milk (stirring it all together in a pan, low heat). This time, he also sauted white onions for a sweet complementary taste.  Delicious!

We  rely on old Trader Joe standards most of week but it’s nice to change it up and have nice home-cooked meals!

Simple Recipe #22: Teriyaki Salmon Skewers with Sesame

As usual, I didn’t really see my husband make the dish but here’s my attempt to pass on a very healthy and good recipe:


Salmon Steak (or Salmon Fillet)


Soy Sauce


Olive Oil

Salt, Pepper

Sesame Seeds

I know that he coated the salmon steak with a combination of mequiste honey, soy sauce, and a bit of sugar and olive oil.  These were cut into thick cubes and put on skewers and broiled in our convection oven for about 15 minutes or so (until fully cooked).  He also added sesame seeds at one point, before or after cooking I’m not sure.  The end result was really amazing, so much that he plans to do the marinade again with chicken or fish.  The meal was completed with a side of mixed green salad with olive oil / salt as dressing. 

I hope to upload a photo or update the recipe with more details soon.  If not, try for yourself and see how easy it is to make a healthy, delicious and simple fish recipe.

By the way, does anyone know if salmon is considered a sustainable fish? Mark Bittman at the New York times had a very informative article about buying sustainable seafood with several recipes that’s worth checking out.  I have no idea if access to this article will be restricted when New York Times begins digital subscriptions so I’ll sum up Bittman’s findings:  If you buy fish at Target, Whole Foods or Wegmans, you’ll know the fish are “sustainable” , i.e. fish that are not being overfished to the point of extinction. However, I’m not sure if the term also includes environmentally friendly fishing or fish-farming practices.

Risotto with Swiss Chard, Pine Nuts And Parmigiano

As I mentioned in an earlier post, risotto is on my “bucket list” of foods to make someday. My husband wanted me to help because he takes my posts seriously but I had to remind him that some day means a weekend or upon retirement!  In my defense, I was pretty exhausted last night.

So my husband was on his own as he whipped up this delicious risotto with swiss chard.   I don’t feel like writing out an entire recipe but the steps are similar to the risotto with taleggio and bacon, only you sauté the swiss chard first. 

If you haven’t made swiss chard, or bietole, one of the staples of your diet, you should give it a try.  It’s a dark leafy green vegetable that has its own unique rich flavor and is also full of health benefits.  Swiss chard is an excellent source for vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, magnesium, manganese, potassium, iron, vitamin E, dietary fiber, and much more.

Pasta Carbonara: The Ultimate Comfort Food

My husband and I don’t eat a lot of bacon.  A standard pack of bacon will sit in our fridge until fear of food poisoning kicks in.  BTW, how long can you keep an opened pack of bacon? Fortunately, bacon is an acceptable substitute for guanciale or pancetta, which  means a good excuse for pasta carbonara.  There are variations of this classic Italian recipe but I think that my husband has perfected it. 



Guanciale (an unsmoked Italian bacon prepared with pig’s jowl or cheeks); otherwise use pancetta or bacon

Yellow Onion ( 1 )

Pecorino Romano

Egg (1)


Black Pepper

Extra Virgin Olive Oil


1 ) Cook pasta according to directions, adding salt to the water.

2 ) Sauté yellow onions.  Chop the pancetta or bacon into small cubes and add into the pan with the onions, when the onions are almost done.  Cook until the bacon cubes are crisp.

3 ) Add the cooked spaghetti into the pan with the onions and pancetta.  Mix well.

4 ) Break the egg in a small bowl and whisk with a bit of milk, then pour into the hot pasta.  The pasta must be warm enough to “cook” the egg.   Note: Adding milk isn’t absolutely necessary but it helps to prevent the egg from turning into scrambled egg and lends a bit of texture.  Mix until the spaghetti is evenly coated.

5 ) Grate fresh pecorino romano on top. Add salt and fresh black pepper to taste.

I really wish I could find a photo of this dish.  Just looking at it will make your mouth water.  For the sake of this blog, I will ask my husband to make this again soon and take a photo next time.