Heirloom Tomato and Ricotta Pizza with Cornmeal Crust

Tomato Tart/Pizza

Last week I caught a few minutes of the show “The Chew” and saw a version of this being prepared on a pie crust. I was intrigued. I went out that very afternoon to purchase heirloom tomatoes to recreate this amazing dish. I made one on a pie crust and one on a corn meal crust (pictured above) that I found at Whole Foods that was very appealing to me. My family picked at the tart on the pie crust but devoured the version on the corn meal crust which I highly recommend.  The link to the original recipe is here.


Here is my version which has different crust and some pesto that I had made and needed to use up. Feel free to be creative with your toppings.


1 corn meal pizza crust (purchased at Whole Foods)

3 medium sized heirloom tomatoes (varying in size and color)

1 cup ricotta cheese

1/3 cup fresh pesto

2 tablespoons of fresh basil, chopped

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350. Bake pizza crust for 15 minutes and remove. Slice tomatoes and lay them on roasting pan with olive oil to coat, and salt and pepper. Allow to roast for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes. Place tomatoes onto pizza crust and top with spoonfuls of ricotta cheese. Drizzle pesto. Add salt and pepper if needed. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and top with chopped, fresh basil. Serve and enjoy!


Radish, Cherry, and Goat Cheese Salad: Inspired by San Fransisco



As this is the last day of my summer vacation, I am reflecting on what was a fantastic summer. It started with a couple of weeks to unwind from the school year before embarking on our anniversary trip to San Francisco. What an amazing experience that was! Just for the food alone! Seriously! (Although the rest of it is amazing too.) After an afternoon of hiking in a canyon near Twin Peaks, my uncle, husband and I wandered around and found this amazing pizza restaurant. Gialinni’s was superb. Our pizzas were works of art, really! Here in Austin, you can go to East Side Pies or House Pizzeria and get artisan pizzas as well. And if you are in San Antonio, Trilogy has equally amazing pizzas (especially the deep dish ones).

Back to San Francisco, the salad that accompanied the pizza had goat cheese, cherries, and pistachios mixed with the greens. What a lovely combination. So this recipe is my version, inspired from that restaurant. I served it with an heirloom tomato tart. (Post and recipe to come).
To make, toss the following into your favorite salad bowl:

3 cups of your favorite greens

4 radishes, washed and sliced

1/2 cup fresh cherries, pitted and sliced in half

1/4 cup peeled roasted pistachios

1/3 cup fresh goat cheese, crumbled or chopped

Drizzle with olive oil or vinaigrette. My recipe is as follows:

1 and 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1-2 garlic cloves, (press into vinegar and allow to “cook” for 5 minutes)

1 teaspoon dijon mustard

1  and 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


Easy Pad Thai

Easy Pad Thai

I absolutely love Thai food. Ditto for my family. And while we love going out for Thai, it is fun and easy to make Thai dishes at home too. Here is a very simple recipe.

8 ounces dried flat rice noodles/pad thai noodles (I like Annie Chun’s Brown Rice Pad Thai noodles which I found at HEB)

2 tablespoons brown sugar

juice of 2 medium sized limes plus wedges for serving

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon sriracha or chili oil

2 teaspoons grapeseed, peanut, or sesame oil (or combination of two or three)

8 scallions, chopped (separate white from green parts)

3 garlic cloves

2 large eggs

1/2 cup fresh cilantro

4 shredded carrots

1/4 cup chopped peanuts

Soak noodles according to package directions and rain. In a small bowl or pyrex measuring cup, whisk together brown sugar, lime juice, soy sauce, and chili sauce. Heal oil over medium high heat. ( I used a cast iron skillet.) Add white part of scallions and stir fry for a minute or two. Add eggs and scramble until set. Transfer to a plate. Add noodles, scallion greens, and sauce to skillet. Cook and toss until noodles are soft (1 to 2 minutes). Add eggs and toss to coat, breaking up eggs. Serve noodles and top with lime wedges, cilantro, carrots, peanuts and an additional spoonful of chili sauce if desired.



Pad Thai ingredients


Easy Pad Thai

Link to original recipe that I adapted.


Roasted Pepper, Almond, and Cilantro Pesto


This is one of my favorite recipes from Food and Wine magazine, dating back to 1999.  It is similar to a romesco sauce but is more rustic.  I roasted my own bell peppers (2).

The pesto dip goes well with Paprika Chips or simple baguette toasts.

 Fast Hors d’Oeuvres


One 12-ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained

1/2 cup cilantro leaves

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt 1/2 teaspoon hot or sweet paprika

1/2 teaspoon chili powder 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper 1 cup coarsely ground blanched almonds (4 ounces)

1. In a food processor or blender, combine the peppers with the cilantro, tomato paste, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, salt, paprika, chili powder and cayenne and pulse until the peppers and cilantro are finely chopped. Scrape down the side of the bowl and process until smooth. Add the almonds and pulse until combined. Transfer the pesto to a bowl and serve

The pesto can be refrigerated.

I recommend putting the almonds into the food processor first.  Grind them up, but keep them coarse, since you will be adding the rest of the ingredients and processing them. 



Pimento Cheese

My husband was craving pimento cheese sandwiches so I made them for a picnic at the Hollywood Bowl.  These are really good!  I also made some with Cilantro, Almond & Bell Pepper Pesto, which will be my next post.


Pimento Cheese for Spreading


From The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook by Matt Lee and Ted Lee

 Makes 2 Cups, about ¼ lb., enough for 12 people for grazing with crackers, or for 4 large sandwiches.

Time:  20 minutes


1 red bell pepper

8 oz.  (about 3 cups) finely grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese

2 oz. (about ¼ cup) softened cream cheese, cut into pieces.

3Tbs. mayonnaise, preferably Lemony mayonnaise (page 524)

1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste.


  1. Turn on the broiler.  Place the pepper on its side in a dry skillet and slide under the broiler until the skin blackens on the side facing up, about 3 minutes.  With tongs, turn the pepper so that an unblackened side faces up, and repeat until the skin is blackened on all sides.  Place the pepper in a small bowl, cover it, and let it steam for 5 minutes as it cools down.
  2. Uncover the bowl.  When the pepper is cool enough to handle, transfer it to a cutting board, reserving any liquid in the bowl.  Remove the blackened skin with your fingers and discard.  Using a paring knife, cut open the pepper, remove and discard the stem and seeds, and chop the pepper into 1/4 –in dice.  You should have a scant ½ cup.
  3. Place the grated cheddar in the medium bowl and add the cream cheese pieces, the mayonnaise, the diced red pepper and its liquid, and the red pepper flakes, distributing them evenly over the cheese.  With a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, blend the ingredients together until the spread is thoroughly mixed, about 2 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
  4. Transfer the pimento cheese to a plastic container or bowl, cover tightly, and store in the refrigerator.  Pimento cheese keeps in the refrigerator for 1 week.



Preserving Herbs

Frozen Cilantro and Olive OIl

I love using fresh herbs but soon (hard to believe) summer will be over and my herb garden will be spent until next spring. My cilantro plant turns to seed in the early summer as soon as the temperature rises. My basil is thriving and I love adding basil to pizzas, salads, soups, etc. and cilantro to that food dishes and Mexican food such as homemade beans.I also prefer the taste of fresh herbs to dried ones as the flavor is just not quite the same. Since my herb garden is abundant right now, I am going to get to work in making these olive oil herb ” ice cubes” before the summer is over.

I made these will a little help from some little ones and their help was much appreciated! If you have kids, I highly recommend enlisting their help with this project.

busy at work

I bought some ice cube trays (not many have these these days) and had my helpers cut the stems off freshly washed cilantro and place in the trays. Then I poured olive oil into the ice cube trays and froze for a day before removing.


My helpers made the job go quickly!

ready to freeze

 Once frozen I ran the ice cube trays under warm water from the faucet for just a few second and then they popped out easily. I placed cubes in a glass container and labeled it and popped it back into the freezer so I have cilantro ready to go for dishes this Fall and Winter. I plan on doing the same with basil from my garden.

ready for cooking

Grilled Lemon Butter Zucchini

 This is a great recipe.  I made last week and again, our guests really enjoyed it.  I used half butter and half olive oil, black pepper instead of white and otherwise, followed the recipe. 

Zabar’s Recipes

From http://www.zabars.com

Grilled Lemon Butter Zucchini Recipe by Tori Avey, The Shiksa in the Kitchen


4 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise

3 tbsp melted unsalted butter

1 tbsp fresh chopped parsley

1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tsp fresh lemon zest 1/2 tsp white pepper

1/4 tsp salt 1 garlic clove, crushed

Fresh lemon wedges and additional chopped parsley for garnish (optional)


Preheat your grill. Score the fleshy cut side of the zucchini halves with a few small shallow slits. This will help the butter sauce to penetrate the veggies; it will also make them cook quicker and more evenly. Place the zucchini slices skin side down, cut side up on a plate.

Whisk together melted butter, parsley, lemon juice, lemon zest, white pepper, salt and garlic. Baste the cut side of the zucchini generously with the melted butter sauce.

Place the zucchini on a medium hot grill, green sides down, basted sides up. Grill the zucchini for 6 minutes, then flip. Continue to grill for another 6-8 minutes till tender (larger zucchini may take longer).

Serve garnished with fresh lemon wedges and chopped parsley, if desired.

© 2012 The Shiksa in the Kitchen. All Rights Reserved

Lemon Yogurt Cake by Ina Garten

I made this recipe for a dinner party last week and served it with bowls of fresh berries and lightly sweetened whipped cream.  It was a big hit!

I forgot to take a picture but trust me, it is a pretty cake and people will love it.

Zabar’s Recipes

From http://www.zabars.com

Lemon Yogurt Cake

by Ina Garten from Barefoot Contessa at Home, Copyright 2006, Clarkson Potter/Publisher

Makes 1 Loaf

1 ½ Cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. kosher salt

1 Cup plain whole-milk yogurt

1 1/3 Cups sugar, divided

3 extra-large eggs

2 tsp. teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons)

½ tsp. teaspoon pure vanilla extract

½ Cup vegetable oil

1/3 Cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

for the glaze:

1 Cup confectioners’ sugar

2 Tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Grease an 8 ½ x 4 ¼ x 2 ½ – inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into one bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it’s all incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup lemon juice and remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.

When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan. While the cake is still warm, pour the lemon sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in. Cool.

For the glaze, combine the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice and pour over the cake.

Sweet Potato Cakes with Bean and Corn Relish


Pinterest is a great source for wonderful recipes and inspirations. Have you ever found yourself wandering around in your kitchen, knowing it is time to make dinner but not sure of what you will make and having no real plan? I have very frequently.Then I turn to pinterest and look at the recipes I have pinned or I enter in an ingredient that I have in the pantry and search for a recipe. Sometimes I do this while at the grocery store for meal ideas. I love pinterest!

I adapted the recipe (link at the bottom) based on what I had in the refrigerator and pantry. The recipe listed below is my version and the original version is found below.

These sweet potato patties are YUMMY! I also enjoyed having help from my seven year old sidekick who (bragging alert) already knows her way around the kitchen. She helped mash the sweet potatoes and helped form the patties. Plus, she keeps me company in the kitchen and reminds me of what ingredients we need when we go grocery shopping. I am so thankful!

I served these with a bean mixture, cilantro, avocado, and greek yogurt for dipping but I also think they would great on a bun as a veggie burger.

Sweet potato Cakes:

4 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into large chunks
½ to 1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup of red onions finely chopped
grape seed oil
Avocado, greek yogurt, cilantro, and Bean and Corn Relish for serving

Place diced sweet potato in a steamer, bring to a boil, cover and steam for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to drain and dry. (I waited about 15 minutes). Mash sweet potato with potato masher or hands ( My 7 year old was a great helper with this step.) Add onions and flour. Add salt and pepper if needed. Form into patties with your hands and add more flour to each patty as needed.

Heat oil in skillet over medium high heat. (I used a cast iron skillet and used just enough oil to coat the pan well). Place cakes on skillet and fry for 2-3 minutes on each side or until golden. Remove cakes with large spatula and place on towel lined plate to cool. Add more oil to pan if needed to cook remainder of patties.

Bean and Corn Relish:

1 16 oz can of pinto beans ( I use Eden Organic)

1 cup frozen corn

1 cup of your favorite salsa ( I used Central Market Medium Simply Salsa)

1 tablespoon chipotle powder

Kosher Salt

Ground Black Pepper

2 cloves of fresh garlic, minced or pressed with garlic press

Add ingredients to saucepan. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.



Potato, Leek, Cannelini Bean Soup




I have been amazed at how easy it is to make soup and how delicious and satisfying they are as meal with a salad or bread. I added cannelini beans to the soup for extra nutrition and when mashed in the soup added extra body to the soup and creaminess. I plan for this soup to become a regular in my fall/winter repertoire.



3 large leeks cut in small slices (use white part only)

2 Tbs. butter

2 cups broth

2 cups water

5 small potatoes ( I used red potatoes)  peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces

1 15 oz can cannelini beans

2 Tbs. fresh parsley

3 Tablespoons sour cream

1 cup 1/2 and 1/2

Cook leeks in butter on low heat in a saucepan. Stir while cooking. Add broth and water. Add cannelini beans and mash with potato masher. Add potatoes. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes. Use immersion blender to puree 1/2 of the soup or carefully transfer to blender and return to saucepan. (Careful, mixture will be hot). Stir in sour cream and half and half. Chop parsley and add to soup.