Monday, February 26, 2018


When in Italy, one of my favorite dinners is to have a rotisserie chicken on a bed of arugula dressed with a simple lemon vinaigrette. This is so delicious as a complete dinner. I first made a mustard-lemon marinade for the chicken and then a lemon vinaigrette for the arugula. This is one of my favorite go-to recipes. Delizioso!

3 cloves garlic, pushed through a garlic press
2 t thyme leaves, minced
2 t oregano leaves, minced
2 t rosemary leaves, minced
½ t onion powder
½ t paprika
Zest and juice of 1 small lemon
3 T Dijon mustard
2 T extra-light olive oil or avocado oil

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 (3 ½ to 4 lb) whole roasting chicken

In a small bowl, mix together all of the Marinade ingredients.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Place chicken in a large cast-iron skillet or baking dish and tie legs together with kitchen twine.
Spoon and pat the mixture all over the chicken, including some into the cavity.

Place in refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

Remove chicken from refrigerator and let sit on the counter while you preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

When oven temperature reaches 400 degrees, place chicken in oven and roast for 45 minutes. Reduce temperature to 375 and roast another 15 to 20 minutes, or until juices run clear when you cut between the leg and breast.

Breast meat should register 160-165 degrees F when you test with an instant-read thermometer. The temperature will rise a few more degrees and you don't want to dry out your chicken.

Remove to a cutting board, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest 15 minutes.

Carve and serve and place on a bed of arugula with pan juices, on the side, if desired

Serves 4

Arugula Salad

1 bag of baby arugula, rinsed in cold water and spun dry
3 T white wine vinegar
1 T fresh lemon juice
1 small clove garlic, pressed or minced
1 t Dijon mustard
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place arugula in a large salad bowl.
Mix the vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, and mustard in a small bowl.
Whisk in the olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Pour as much as needed over arugula and mix to combine.
Save any leftover vinaigrette in a covered jar.

Serves 2 to 4

Wednesday, February 14, 2018


This is one of our favorite meals. It’s a perfect weeknight dinner and also great for serving to guests. Have all of your ingredients cut up and set aside on a pizza pan or platter, ready to add to the skillet. If you can't find chicken tenders, cut up boneless, skinless chicken breast halves into smaller pieces. The addition of olives and lots of fresh herbs captures the taste of sunny Italy!

1 lb chicken tenders or boneless chicken breasts, cut into strips
½ cup all-purpose flour
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup avocado oil or extra-light olive oil, divided
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 orange bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 onion, cut in half and sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup dry vermouth or white wine
½ cup pitted or stuffed green olives, cut in half
½ cup pitted Italian black olives, cut in half
2 T capers
¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 T chopped fresh oregano
2 T chopped fresh basil
1 T chopped fresh rosemary
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Pour flour into a bowl and season with salt and pepper.
Dredge chicken in flour, shake off excess and set aside.
In a large skillet, heat half of the oil over medium-high heat.
Add the chicken in two batches and cook until golden brown, about 4 to 5 minutes on each side. Set aside on a plate.

Add the rest of the oil and cook the bell peppers and onions for about 5 minutes, stirring often.
Add the garlic and cook another minute.
Add the wine and cook for a minute, while stirring with a wooden spoon.

Return the chicken to the skillet with the peppers and onions, stir and cook about 3 minutes.
Lower heat and add the olives, capers, herbs, and season with salt and pepper. 
Toss to combine.

Transfer to 4 plates or one warm large platter and drizzle with a little extra-virgin olive oil. 

Serve with roasted potatoes or orzo and a bottle of Frascati, known as "gold wine" by the Romans.

Serves 4


These little mini sweet pepper poppers, make a delicious hors d'oeuvre (appetizer).
You could use Gorgonzola cheese in place of the goat cheese if you prefer. You can also replace the pancetta with bacon. They also make a delicious lunch for two.

2 oz pancetta, finely diced
8 oz goat cheese (chèvre), room temperature
2 T half-and-half or milk
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, pressed
½ t red pepper flakes
½ cup panko bread crumbs
¼ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 T unsalted butter, melted
1 bag mini sweet peppers, assorted colors, cut in half, lengthwise, seeds removed
1 T minced Italian parsley

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cook pancetta in a skillet until brown.
Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.

Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix together the goat cheese, half-and-half or milk, scallions, garlic, red pepper flakes, and pancetta.

In another bowl, mix together the panko, Parmigiano, and butter.

Divide goat cheese mixture evenly among pepper halves.
Sprinkle tops with the panko mixture.

Place on the baking sheet and bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until tops are golden brown.
Don't overcook the peppers.
Sprinkle with parsley and serve warm.

Sunday, February 11, 2018


This recipe is a version of my Spaghetti alla Puttanesca but made with cherry tomatoes instead of crushed canned tomatoes. It comes together in less than 30 minutes, making it ideal for a weeknight dinner. In the Italian language, a puttana is a "lady of the night." This pasta dish is quick and easy to make, and perhaps that's how it got its name...because the ladies of the night could make it quickly between customers.

Lee's Kitchen Tips:
I chop up the onion, garlic, anchovies, basil, black olives, and cherry tomatoes and place in piles on a pizza pan or individual small bowls. Then you just add to the skillet, when needed.

½ lb spaghetti
1 T avocado oil or extra-light olive oil 
½ yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 to 4 anchovies, mashed
3 T minced basil
½ cup pitted and chopped Italian black olives, such as Cerignola and/or black Gaeta
2 T capers, drained
½ t red pepper flakes 
½ cup dry white wine
2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil, for finishing 
¼ cup minced parsley, for garnish
Grated Pecorino Romano cheese, for serving

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the spaghetti and cook 7 to 8 minutes,
until al dente. Drain the spaghetti, but save ½ to ¾ cup of the pasta water.

In a large skillet, heat the oil and sauté the onion for a couple of minutes. 
Add the garlic and anchovies and cook another 2 minutes. The anchovies will melt into the pot as it cooks.
Add the basil, olives, capers, red pepper flakes, and wine. Cook another minute.
Add the tomatoes and cook another minute.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Add the drained spaghetti and pasta water and heat through for another minute or two.
Divide between two heated pasta bowls.

Drizzle with a little extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with parsley.
Serve with grated Pecorino Romano cheese.

Serves 2

Saturday, February 10, 2018


If you love shrimp and risotto, you will love this recipe. Serve with a green salad for a complete meal.

Lee's Kitchen Tips:
I always use plastic cutting boards for uncooked seafood and meats and a wooden cutting board for vegetables. Although the shrimp are cooked, they will be oily and can soak into a wooden cutting board. Plastic cutting boards can be scrubbed with soap and can also be washed in your dishwasher.

4 T unsalted butter, divided
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 lb. extra large shrimp, peeled and deveined
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 yellow onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
½ t red pepper flakes
½ t saffron, optional
1 cup Arborio rice
½ cup dry white wine
4 cups chicken broth, heated
1 lemon, zested and juiced
½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
¼ cup minced Italian parsley

In a large cast-iron skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat.
Add the shrimp and season with salt and pepper.
Cook, while stirring, until shrimp are pink, about 2 minutes.
Transfer the shrimp to a plastic cutting board and let cool.

Lower the heat to medium and add the olive oil to the skillet.
Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes, while stirring.
Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, and saffron, if using, and cook another minute.
Add the rice and cook a few seconds, then add the wine and cook until the wine is almost absorbed, stirring often about 2 minutes.
Add one ladle of the chicken broth and cook, stirring often, about 3 to 4 minutes.
Add another ladle of the chicken broth and cook, while stirring, another 3 to 4 minutes.
Keep adding the chicken broth a little at a time, while stirring, until all of the broth is gone and rice is al dente, about 20 minutes.
Add the lemon zest and juice and cook another 2 minutes.

Coarsely chop the shrimp and add to the risotto along with the butter and heat through.
Add the grated cheese and most of the parsley and stir.

Spoon into warm pasta bowls and sprinkle with the rest of the parsley and serve immediately.

Serves 2 to 4