RECIPE: Sun-dried Tomato, Feta, Basil & Black Olive Pasta Salad

A cold pasta salad with sundried tomatoes, olives, feta and basil. Gimme a plate, NOW.

A cold pasta salad with sun-dried tomatoes, olives, feta and basil. Gimme a plate, NOW.

It’s summer. Folks like me come up with reasons to get together and eat. And sometimes the food obsessed will ask you to bring something. Don’t go into a panic, and please don’t go to the largely uninteresting prepared food aisle of your grocery store. So here’s a go to recipe that takes only 20 minutes to complete, from start to finish. 

Here in LA, we have the Cinespia film screenings in a cemetery. That’s right, a cemetery. They play the best of old movies on a massive (unused) lawn just after sundown. But it’s all part of the the charm and fun. Provided you’re not too creeped out by dead bodies.  So we devoured this pasta salad while watching, “Coming To America” with a vocal and fun audience. And when it was time to leave the grounds, we happened to walked past the graves of Johnny Ramone, Jayne Mansfield and Rudolph Valentino with full bellies.

Cinespia summertime movie screenings. Reuse photo provided by Rachel aka https://www.flickr.com/photos/chickpokipsie/

Cinespia summertime movie screenings. Reuse photo provided by Rachel Jackson via Flickr

Meals aren’t supposed to be complicated. I believe that you add elements to a recipe in order to make it beautiful and delicious. So I’ll keep this blog post in that same theme: easy and good.

Sun-dried Tomato, Feta, Basil & Olive Pasta Salad
Serves 4
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Prep Time
7 min
Cook Time
12 min
Prep Time
7 min
Cook Time
12 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 16 ounce package of rice pasta, preferably fusilli or spiral pasta (Trader Joe's has it)
  2. 1/2 cup of sun-dried tomato (or more if you love them like I do)
  3. 3/4 cup of good quality feta (my favorite is the Israeli sheep's milk feta from Trader Joe's)
  4. 1 handful of fresh basil, chopped
  5. 1 cup of pitted and sliced black olives
  6. Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Get your pasta water going, and fill a large pot full of water, then place on a high heat.
  2. While waiting for your water to boil, start prepping your ingredients. Remove the sun-dried tomatoes from their oil and let them drain in a sieve.
  3. Start pitting and slicing your olives. Or just buy them already diced and pitted.
  4. Chop the basil after cleaning and removing the stems.
  5. Once the water boils, add your pasta and follow directions on pack. All gluten-free pastas do not cook the same, so please pay attention to the instructions.
  6. Test the pasta. Taste it! When it's your favorite consistency, remove it and place under cold water.
  7. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. If your feta cheese is in a large block, use a fork to separate it.
  8. It is likely that you won't need any salt, as the feta has enough of it's own.
  9. Love it like we do!
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Posted in Dinner, Gluten-free, Lunch, Misc., Salad | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Wonder if he/she likes you? Read on…

When I first started dating my then boyfriend, now husband, I played initiated a game. The, “I’m not gonna call him so much or be available,” game. After two days of ‘playing it cool,’ he called me up and said, “Are you okay?” My reply was as lame as my approach, and he read right through it with this reply, “Listen, I like you. I like hearing from you. We don’t need to do that thing. You know, that thing where we barely acknowledge that we like each other, play games and make it harder than it has to be. So if you want to do this, let’s DO this.”

And we’ve been doing it ever since. I was reminded of this when reading this article in Elite Daily about why we need a new game: HONESTY.

http://elitedaily.com/life/culture/call-end-games-like-like-lets-stop-bullsht/653260/

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Get Father’s Day Right

NSFW = NOT SAFE FOR WORK, this is a blog post for grown folks today. Just for you, some relationship and sex advice.

Let’s be real about regular holidays and events, most are geared towards women and kids. The result is something like this: men scrambling around every February 14th and Mother’s Day to make last minute reservations, or buy gifts. Easter has adults planting eggs all over the yard while stuffing entire bodies into Easter Bunny suits. And Christmas? Grown men and women wrapping gifts until they’re ready to fall asleep with a tape dispenser in hand.

I knows fathers everywhere enjoy these moments. But the other holidays are about someone else. And rather than doing what’s expected of them, let’s rebrand it altogether: Father’s Day should be about them. Continue reading

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RECIPE: Shakshuka what your mama gave ya!

Note: if you’re not a fan of eggs over easy, then Shakshuka just isn’t for you. Scrambled just doesn’t work in this dish. If you like your yolks a bit runny, then you’re in for an exceptional dish.

Poached eggs over a spiced tomato sauce makes for some savory, messy (in the best way) eating.

Poached eggs over a spiced tomato sauce makes for some savory, messy (in the best way) eating.

My husband has been working some very long hours in the last few weeks, so I’ve been left to fend for myself in the kitchen. So when my chef cousin walked in the door ready to recipe test, with all ingredients ready to go in this slowly cooked and slightly spicy tomato sauce topped with poached eggs, IT WAS ON. We didn’t know how amazing this dish would turn out, and shakshuka is the dish to impress someone.

I make dishes for myself regularly. But sometimes I try new ones because I want my husband to make them FOR me later. I don’t drop hints, I just say, “Honey, I want you to make this for me one day soon.” I’m never disappointed, and he’s never left to figure out what I want.

That last sentence can save a million relationships. Just ask for, or tell the other what you want. I hear it all the time, “He should know what I want.” Or, “She knows what she signed up for.” No more games. Just speak up and say what you want. Or even better, check in with the other to make sure both your needs are getting met. Continue reading

Posted in Breakfast, CTGL Tip, Dinner, Gluten-free, Late Night Snack, Lunch | 1 Comment

Show me how to make it for you baby

Gambas al Ajillo, or one of the 10 million ways the Spanish make their shrimp delicious.

Gambas al Ajillo, or one of the 10 million ways the Spanish make their shrimp delicious.

Mona came back from a trip to Spain, Germany and France recently. After three weeks, she returned with a glow in her face and also managed to even come back smaller.

Just so you know, I think Mona is the hottest thing in the entire world. I love her curves. My wife turns heads when she walks into a room wearing no makeup on those big brown eyes, baggy sweatpants and a 29-year-old t-shirt. She doesn’t even notice the effect she has on others. And that’s what makes her so sexy.

Back to her shrunken waistline. When she was gone, we’d check in every few days to see how the other was doing. All she spoke about was the food. Where she ate, what she ate, how she ate it, when she ate it and how the last meal was the best she’d ever had. And she was always video chatting with a big glass of red right next to her.

We all come back from vacation rested, empowered and inspired. And I love her, so I want to keep that vacation mind going. She’s a less worried, loose Mona. One that isn’t worried about the next client, slightly stressed and wondering if her work is done well. So when she got back, I asked her what her favorite dishes were. There were quite a few, but she turned into a different person when she said this:

“Gambas baby. A dish called Gambas al Ajillo! It’s shrimp with paprika, crushed red pepper, parsley, sherry and lots of olive oil. A waiter told me how to make it.” Then she made a sound that women do when they’re typically talking about chocolate. You know, that guttural noise that sounds slightly sexual. But she was only talking about gambas.

So I replied, “Show me how to make it for you.”

What happened next is none of your business. But let’s stay on point. Sometimes women must help men, so that you get what you want. So men, it doesn’t hurt to keep asking questions about what they want. Which requires you paying attention to the details. This took five minutes from prep to finish. Which translates to this: I take her to Spain every time I make this for her.

Gambas al Ajillo (Mona's favorite Spanish shrimp recipe)
Serves 2
Lightly sautéed shrimp with sherry, parsley, a healthy amount of garlic, lots of olive oil, salt and crushed red pepper.
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Prep Time
2 min
Cook Time
3 min
Prep Time
2 min
Cook Time
3 min
Ingredients
  1. 4 cloves garlic
  2. 1/4 cup good quality extra-virgin olive oil
  3. 1/2 pound of large shrimp, peeled
  4. Salt
  5. 1 teaspoon paprika
  6. A pinch red pepper flakes
  7. 2 teaspoons sherry (we've even used cognac or whiskey)
  8. 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  9. A squirt of fresh lemon juice
Instructions
  1. Assemble all of your ingredients on the counter closest to the stove.
  2. If you have a mortar and pestle, mash the garlic and parsley to a pulp and set aside.
  3. Add shrimp to a bowl with garlic parsley paste, or just garlic, pepper flakes and paprika. Toss until well combined.
  4. Turn on the heavy pan to a medium heat and fill with olive oil, wait a minute for it to warm up.
  5. Add the shrimp, lemon juice and sherry. Be careful not to crowd the shrimp, and cook them 2 minutes on each side.
  6. Remove from the pan, and season right away with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  7. Serve this over bread, pasta, or just eat it with your hands as Mona does.
Notes
  1. Trader Joe's sells a pound of wild shrimp for under $10 dollars. Whatever you choose, make sure it's labeled "wild".
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Posted in CTGL Tip, Dinner, Gluten-free, Late Night Snack, Lunch | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

A lime shortage on Cinco de Mayo? What about my margarita?

Margaritas! One for you, and another for me.

Margaritas! One for you, and another for me. (Photo by Franceasca Seiden)

You might have heard about the worldwide lime shortage. The timing of it couldn’t be any worse as Cinco de Mayo is here. What will we do without our precious and key ingredient: limes? 

¡Cálmate!
Continue reading

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Where am I? On holiday

Vacation

I just had a reader ask where I’ve been. I’m on vacation. ‘Nuff said. See you on May 10th.

Love, M.

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Five minutes to make this meal

So here’s the thing about food. You need it. Everyday. What you eat is entirely up to you, but let’s talk about all of your options. OPTION ONE: Spend tons of money eating out with ingredients that are likely unhealthy for you. OPTION TWO: Heat up a frozen meal with the sodium equivalent of a salt lick, and high fat content accompanied with scabby cheese and minimal flavor. 

OPTION THREE: You can cook. I’m talking about preparing meals like a boss by throwing something healthy together in five minutes that looks and tastes delicious. Something like this: 

Scrambled eggs on a sprouted wheat bagel with a scallion, tomato, avocado salsa. Smoked salmon on the side? YES.

Scrambled eggs on a sprouted wheat bagel with a scallion, tomato & avocado salsa. Smoked salmon on the side? YES.

We whipped this up in five minutes honey! Scrambled eggs on a sprouted wheat bagel with a scallion, onion, tomato and avocado salsa. Although Craig doesn’t eat seafood, it was his idea to put the smoked salmon on the side. It was a breakfast that just came together because we had the ingredients and the patience to do it. But it requires some personal character too. Here’s what you’ll need to do in the kitchen to eat well:  Continue reading

Posted in Breakfast, CTGL Tip, Dinner, Gluten-free, Late Night Snack, Lunch | Tagged | 2 Comments

Rib Eye Steak with Parsley Butter, & Lime, Pomegranate Asparagus

Pan cooked rib-eye, cooked to perfection. via @cookthisgetlaid

Pan cooked rib-eye, cooked to perfection. via @cookthisgetlaid

Penned by Craig

You thought this was a vegetarian/vegan blog, didn’t you? Well, me and my wife cook for every type of eater (except the unhealthy kind). And even though I’m a vegetarian, I know how to make a great steak and cook them for my wife.  Mona is an amazing cook, but she’s not confident on the grill or with most cuts involving a cow. And though I won’t touch the stuff, I love her enough to show my mastery with a rib eye.  This time we even brought in the skills of her chef cousin, Rashida, to take things up to another level.

And while some do not consider eating a steak particularly healthy, we do. Within reason. She eats steak maybe once or twice a year. But that works for her. We’re not here to preach to you about what is healthy for you. That’s what this blog is about, discovering what works for you on the stove AND in the bedroom.  Continue reading

Posted in Dinner, Lunch | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Excuse me, Steak & A Blow Job Day?

This just in, a new holiday on March 14th. Today is Steak & A Blow Job Day. Yes, you heard me. A response to the overwhelming female enthusiasm around Valentine’s Day, S&BJ Day is designed to cater to the male side of the relationship-maintenance spectrum. The creators describe it this way:

“Over the years, Valentine’s Day has become a commercial holiday for women. On February 14, intimate couples celebrate their love with candy, flowers, greeting cards, and other gifts of affection.

Men do not want candy. Men have no need for flowers or teddy bears. There are two things men want: steak and a blowjob.”

“Puh-leeze,” was my first reaction. My husband gently replied, “It’s not such a bad idea Mona. It’s really funny, straightforward, and men would go nuts over it.” He laughs at his bro joke. “Sorry for that pun. You already know what my favorite meal is. Just give us a day. It’s not even a day! Plus, it’s something to laugh about while you enthusiastically celebrate this holiday once a year.” He smiled. I did too. But that got me thinking. Wouldn’t men prefer to have a blow job and their favorite (preferably healthy) foods more than once a year? Because if you do the relationship right, you won’t need an annual holiday. Here’s what you do:

  • Take the time to listen to us.
  • Cook a healthy meal for yourself and your loved ones.
  • Encourage her to be at her best.
  • Prepare a healthy and delicious snack.
  • Ask questions and listen to the answers.
  • Bring chocolate and wine to bed.
  • Tell us the reasons why you believe us to be beautiful.
  • Make sure that our favorite healthy foods are on hand.
  • Encourage and empower us.
  • Make us laugh.
  • Cook for us consistently, or clean up after we do.

Because I have a partner that fulfills these needs, steak and a blow-job day isn’t much of a stretch. So if there’s anything harmless and playful that we can throw into the marriage, I’m game. 

Beyond Meat, is an amazing plant-based, gluten-free protein.

Beyond Meat, is an amazing plant-based, gluten-free protein.

I’ll be making him Beyond Meat’s Chicken-Free Strips covered in a vegan gravy. He LOVES this dish. I have no idea why he would choose this, but it doesn’t matter. A side not: if any of you are looking for a gluten-free, soy-free, vegetarian alternative, this company makes some delicious plant-based food with fantastic consistency. Here’s more advice on how to create a year-long S&BJ Day. Post blow job, ask her this question, “Is there anything I can do for you?” Oh men of the planet Earth, do you want a highly attentive, loving and sexual partner? Then ask her this question often. Let me repeat that: ask her this question often. Women: I hear some of you already. Turning your noses up in distaste, and feeling that this is demeaning. But if you’re in a loving relationship with a man, consider this: he is basically a caveman in jeans and sneakers. Indulge him and make sure you keep it simple. My girlfriend already texted her man with an easy, understated and direct invitation:

 steak

Understand, this is less about the ‘holiday,’ and more about creating a relationship that works FOR YOU. No matter what you do, make sure that it suits both of you, is fun and where you look after one another. 

I have my own response to Steak & A Blow Job Day, because Valentine’s Day just doesn’t do it for me. April 14th is hereby designated as Eat-A-Pie & More Day. And to prepare you for this very special day, have Key & Peele prepare you:

 

Just kidding on the Pie Day thing. Kind of.

NOTE: By the way Steak and a BJ Day creators, you’re brand is absolutely perfect to partner with BJs Restaurant. I’ll never look at them the same way again.

Posted in CTGL Tip | 2 Comments