Tomato Cucumber Salad

July 8, 2014 | by Diana

Tomatoes and cucumbers are the staple of just about every summer kitchen. I had plans to do an elaborate salad for the holiday weekend, but when it came down to it, I went quick and easy with my tomato cucumber salad. As a non-mayo, vinegar based salad, it travels well and doesn’t go bad quickly on a hot summer day. If you don’t want to mess with a dressing, store bought will work just fine and save even more time.

Tomato Cucumber Salad -

Tomato Cucumber Salad


Tomato Cucumber Salad
Prep time
Total time
A very fast salad to put together and it's very light and healthy.
Recipe type: Summer Side Salad
Serves: 8
  • 2 whole cucumbers.
  • 4 tomatoes
  • 2 green onions
  • fresh parsley
  • fresh dill
  • salt
  • pepper
  • Olive Oil
  • Red Vineger
  1. Peel skin from cucumbers, slice in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds with a spoon.
  2. Slice the cucumber in half again and slice thinly across all down the length of the cucumber.
  3. Place the cucumbers in a bowl.
  4. Slice the tomato to be in a similar size and shape as the cucumbers; leaving the seeds and juice behind add the tomato to the cucumber in the bowl.
  5. Thinly slice the green cucumbers and add to the tomatoes and cucumber.
  6. Add 1 tbs red wine vinegar and 2 tbs of olive oil to a small container.
  7. Finely chop parsley and dill and stir into bowl or jar (that has a lid) with oilve oil and vinegar.
  8. Place lid on top of the bowl with the dressing and shake.
  9. Add to the tomato cucumber mixture and toss


Tomato Caprese – Delicious and Beautiful

July 6, 2014 | by Diana

I’ve been making Tomato Caprese for years, and I see it served almost everywhere.  I’ve made it and seen versions of it done so different ways.  I placed it on a platter for a gathering, but we’ve had it chunky with mozzarella balls or small tomato pieces with small mozzarella pieces in a bowl or even mozzarella and basil stuffed cherry tomatoes.  No matter how you slice it or stack it, it’s just a perfect side dish to a meal.  It’s fast and easy and delicious.  It goes very quickly and no leftovers.  Not only that, but it’s such an easy recipe, that once someone sees it they copy it for their own gatherings because it’s both delicious and beautiful.

Tomato Caprese

Tomato Caprese


For a holiday gathering, I took slices of the tomatoes and alternated them with slices of mozzarella.  I chopped up the basil and sprinkled it on top and then drizzled with the vinaigrette.  It went too quickly, I should have made another platter.


Tomato Caprese - Delicious and Beautiful
Prep time
Total time
Tomato Caprese is a fantastic combination of Tomato, Mozzarella and Basil. Plated this looks so pretty and easy for everyone to get the taste of all of it when it is served this way. Great to serve at a gathering where everyone just wants a taste.
Recipe type: Summer Salad
Serves: 10
  • Tomatoes - different colors
  • Mozzarella - soft fresh Mozzarella
  • Basil - fresh picked
  • Light Balsamic Vinaigrette
  1. Rinse and dry tomatoes.
  2. Halve tomatoes and then slice so they have the shape of half moons.
  3. Slice Mozzarella to resemble the tomatoes
  4. Tear up basil and sprinkle over top.
  5. Drizzle with vinaigrette.

Slow Cooker Smoked Turkey Red Beans and Rice

June 20, 2014 | by Diana

Today as part of the summer series round robin, Sheena from Hot Eats and Cool Reads is guest posting today – I like her idea of Slow Cooker Smoked Turkey Red Beans and Rice to keep the kitchen cool on a hot summer day.

Slow Cooker Smoked Turkey Red Beans and Rice

Hi everyone! I’m Sheena and I blog at Hot Eats and Cool Reads! I am so excited to share with you today here at Cookerati! I’ve been blogging for almost 3 years and absolutely love coming up with new recipes. I’m a single Mom to a 7 year old daughter and we live in Central, Minnesota! Besides recipes, you can find book reviews, restaurant reviews and product reviews over at the blog. I would love if you stopped by!

We all love slow cooker recipes, so I’m bringing you my recipe for Slow Cooker Smoked Turkey Red Beans and Rice! They have tons of flavor and are really good leftover for lunch the next day at work. I love the smokey flavor from the turkey and the beans taste amazing. I’m such a fan of the slow cooker in the summertime. No heating up the house using the stove! I hope you enjoy this recipe!


Slow Cooker Smoked Turkey Red Beans and Rice
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Slow Cooker
Cuisine: American
  • 1 pound dried red kidney beans
  • 1- 1 pound smoked turkey wing
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1 cup bell pepper (yellow or red) or mini sweet peppers
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons creole seasoning
  • salt and pepper, if needed
  • 6 cups water
  • cooked white rice
  1. Rinse and sort through the dried beans.
  2. Put all ingredients in the slow cooker and pour the water over the top.
  3. I used about 6 cups water total.
  4. You may need to adjust accordingly.
  5. Cook on low for 6-8 hours until the beans are tender.
  6. Within the last hour, take out the turkey wing, and shred the meat from the bone and stir back in with the beans.
  7. Serve over cooked white rice.

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Nonni’s THINaddictives

May 30, 2014 | by Diana

Nonni’s is a brand I know. They make biscotti – hard crunchy thick biscotti that you can dip into your coffee. When you dip it in, the biscotti gets really soft and mushy and melt into the coffee if you dunk too long. Actually, I love the meltiness, but not drinking it but that’s a different story. We’re going to talk about their THINaddictives today because I was sent a couple of boxes to try out.

The THINaddictives are 100 calorie packs of thin sliced cookies or biscuits. They aren’t biscotti though. These cookies don’t dissolve in your coffee like biscotti, they stay crunchy/chewy. I think that’s because of the juice used to flavor it. They’re packaged in 100 calorie packs, 6 – 3 packs to a box.

Thin Addictive Blueberry Oat       THINaddictiveBananaDark

I was sent both Blueberry Oat Almond Thins and Banana Dark Chocolate Almond Thins. I thought Banana Dark Chocolate would be the clear winner, but it turned out the opposite was true, while I enjoyed the Banana Dark Chocolate, the Blueberry Oat Almond surprised me with a  really good blueberry flavor.  My husband and daughter both tried the THINaddictives and agreed that they were tasty.  The ingredient list passes my inspection, with no high fructose corn syrup or artificial sugars.  There are banana chips in the banana and blueberries in the blueberry and of course real chocolate chips and almonds.

I think the best thing is that they are convenient and portable. I grabbed a pack right before my Mother’s Day run for a quick snack that wouldn’t make me sick if I ate right before a 5K. I also brought it to work, and it was easy to grab a snack in a small portion size. I’m not always a fan of pre-packaging, but it does keep you from eating the whole box in one sitting, which is a good thing because it would be easy to do.

If you’d like to try Nonni’s THINaddictives, enter the sweepstakes to win a free box on their facebook page. This contest ends on June 1st, so don’t wait.



Disclosure: I was given a box of Blueberry Oat Almond and a box of Banana Dark Chocolate Almond THINaddictives to try out. The opinions are my own.


Chicken stuffed with Asparagus and Herbed Garlic Chevre

April 18, 2014 | by Diana

Since it’s National Garlic Day on April 19th, I wanted to come up with a dinner that had some nice garlic flavor.  Originally I was going to make a salad with garlic chicken and asparagus, but while I was at the store other thoughts entered my mind and I went with it.  I grilled asparagus on a grill pan first, but maybe it doesn’t really need it.  We loved the whole meal and I will definitely do it again when my daughter’s home, she enjoys it when I come up with something delicious. Chicken stuffed with Asparagus and Herbed Garlic Chevre is something your family would enjoy too.

Chicken stuffed with Asparagus and Herbed Garlic Chevre Ingredients:

Dollop the Herbed Garlic Chevre on the flattened chicken breast and place 4 spears of asparagus on top.  Roll the chicken up around the asparagus.  Sprinkle with Parmesan Cheese, Salt, Garlic Pepper and Herbs. Place in glass pan, or casserole dish, and cover with aluminum foil.  Bake in the oven on 350 until Chicken is done.  About 10 minutes before it will be done take the aluminum foil off.


Herbed Garlic Chevre

Sauté garlic in oil to soften.  Peel parsley, basil and thyme off stems and coarsely chop.  Put it into bullet or other small processor or chop finely, and chevre, and whirl to combine.  Use this to dollop on the chicken breasts.

Chicken stuffed with Asparagus and Herbed Garlic Chevre
Stuffing the chicken with Asparagus and Herbed Chevre is a delicious spring meal, for when those asparagus are just starting to poke through the ground.
Recipe type: Dinner
  • 2 large chicken breasts – sliced in half, then pounded flat.
  • 16 spears of asparagus
Herbed Garlic Chevre
  • Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • Herbs – basil, parsley
  • Salt
  • Garlic-Pepper
  1. Dollop the Herbed Garlic Chevre on the flattened chicken breast and place 4 spears of asparagus on top.
  2. Roll the chicken up around the asparagus.
  3. Sprinkle with Parmesan Cheese, Salt, Garlic Pepper and Herbs.
  4. Place in glass pan, or casserole dish, and cover with aluminum foil.
  5. Bake in the oven on 350 until Chicken is done.
  6. About 10 minutes before it will be done take the aluminum foil off.
Herbed Garlic Chevre
  1. Sauté garlic in oil to soften.
  2. Peel parsley, basil and thyme off stems and coarsely chop.
  3. Put it into bullet or other small processor or chop finely, and chevre, and whirl to combine.
  4. Use this to dollop on the chicken breasts.

You could really smell the garlic in the kitchen while it was cooking and taste it in the cheese.

I served this with resmashed potatoes.  I added a little cream, some gouda, and parmesan, salt, garlic pepper and herbs.  Place in ramekins, sprinkle with garlic pepper, then parmesan cheese – It will have a nice cooked brown parmesan top to it when it’s ready.  Throw it in the oven with the chicken for about 20 minutes (place in pan with water).

Dinner was a success.  Though the chicken didn’t need a sauce or gravy – it wasn’t dry, the bottom of the pan was filled with good stuff my husband and I kept scraping, so maybe deglazing the pan and making a sauce with it is something I might try next time.



Don’t forget the Jelly Beans.

April 18, 2014 | by Diana

Mike and Ike Jelly Beans - Cookerati.comJelly beans are a go to for the special Easter baskets. I like jelly beans, but only if they have flavor.  I don’t like the jelly beans that are bland and all taste the same, I want the different colors to taste like different flavors. Mike and Ike have flavored jelly beans that are pretty cool.  You can pick up different assortments, like fruit flavored, or tart, or even cinnamon – which I usually hate, but didn’t this time they were good too. I loved the assortments, and I also like that on the bag, there’s a guide to tell you which one you picked – like banana, pineapple, cherry, citrus punch, lemon lime. They also have a specialty box made with fruit juice (but it also contains sugar and corn syrup) – with a specially Mike and Ike shaped Easter Treats. So don’t forget the jelly beans, and pick up some that have flavor like Mike and Ike!

Disclosure: I was sent some jelly beans in order to do this review, the opinion presented and the photograph are my own.

Irish Country Cooking by The Irish Countrywoman’s Association

April 7, 2014 | by Diana

Recently, my sister brought up our family’s ethnic heritage.  I think every family should explore their roots, and cook authentic recipes as a way to share that heritage. My grandfather’s parents were both born and raised in different areas of Ireland and migrated to the United States in the late 1800s, and early 1900s. A review of Irish Country Cooking – More Than 100 Recipes For Today’s Table seemed like a very appropriate review for me. While this book contains all of the regular St. Paddy’s Day food of Corned Beef and Cabbage or Shepherd’s Pie, it introduces a few new ones plus a few out of box surprises like Hungarian Goulash. My Hungarian grandmother who was married to my Irish grandfather would have had a chuckle.

Irish Country Cooking - Cookerati

The Irish Countrywoman’s Association

The hard covered book was compiled by the Irish Countrywoman’s Association.  The ICA was founded in 1910 and consists of over 700 local guilds throughout Ireland.  Over the years these guilds produced their own local cookbooks with recipes passed down in families from generation to generation.  This book – Irish Country Cooking is a compilation of 100 of the best recipes from those local cookbook collections.

Crusted Rack of Lamb - Cookerati

Irish Country Cooking – the book

I tried out a few of the recipes and I liked how well they came out.  I made the Crusted Rack of Lamb with Orange and Olive Salad.  My lamb looked exactly like the photo in the book and tasted great too. I shared it with my family for my birthday dinner. My husband and son also loved the Colcannon – a very traditional potato and cabbage dish.

Speaking of photos – there are plenty, though not every recipe has a photo, most do.  There is a table of contents in the front and an index by ingredient in the back (just the way I like it).

We have all of the regulars like Soups, Starters, Main Meals, Side Dishes – which include preserves as well as side dishes and dips, sauces and stocks.  Then we have the sweets which include cakes, puddings and desserts.  To add to the content it starts out with an introduction from the ICA national president, a note from the editor, and a few words from guest chefs.  This book also  contains useful equipment and a glossary.

What else is cool about the recipes:

The only drawback is that it doesn’t have nutrition labels so that you can adjust something if it goes over your dietary limits.

All around this is a really nice book for authentic Irish recipes, some I have seen before and many I have not.  I plan on using it to inspire some of my own contributions to the family meal.


Disclosure: I was sent a review copy in order to complete this review.  This is not a sponsored or paid post.  The review is based on my opinion of the book, and is not influenced by anything else.



Braised Lamb Neck Stew over Polenta

April 4, 2014 | by Diana

Braised Lamb Neck Stew Over Polenta - Cookerati

The lamb neck is often an overlooked piece of lamb that people don’t ask their butcher for. I went to a lamb cutting class and when asked which part of the lamb was the favorite, I don’t remember what my response was, but I remember the response of another person, because he said lamb neck.  The butcher said it was one of the lower costing and under-valued. My Braised Lamb Neck Stew Over Polenta is a delicious way to prepare this under utilized part of the lamb that is so delicious.

Lamb neck is a very fatty piece, with a lot of bones, because of this the meat is full of flavor. It also means, that it’s more of a stew piece instead of a steak or thick roast. After you cook it, you have to wade in with your fingers, pull the meat out and the bones and also drain all of the grease to get to the flavor filled stock.  It’s a bit of work, but really worth it. I served it over polenta this time, but a nice root vegetable mash or potato mash would be great. Serving it over a nice thick Sourdough would work well for sopping up that great gravy.

This is not a quick and easy worknight meal.  You can put it into the crockpot, but the meat has to cool, so that you won’t burn your fingers. The gravy will need to cool a little also before you whirl it around in the food processor.

Braised Lamb Neck Stew over Polenta
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Lamb Neck is an often forgotten but very economical piece of meat that is great for stew.
Recipe type: Lamb Neck Stew over Polenta
Cuisine: American
Serves: 6
  • 1 lamb neck
  • 3 tbs cooking oil
  • 1 onion
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • ½ tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 2 tsp paprka
  • 1 pint lamb or chicken broth
  • 4 carrots sliced into 3 inch pieces
  • 2 large turnips quartered
  • 3 large tomatoes (or a can of stewed tomatoes)
  • 1 cup of red wine
  • (as needed)
  • 1 cup of water
  • cumin
  • all spice
  • garlic
  • pepper
  • paprika
  1. Using a dutch oven, heat the cooking oil.
  2. Sear all sides of the lamb neck.
  3. Throw onions, garlic, sprinkle with cumin, all spice, ginger and paprika.
  4. When the onions are soft, add 1 pint broth and simmer for about an hour.
  5. Add in the carrots, turnips and tomatoes and simmer until the vegetables and soft and the meat is ready to come apart.
  6. Place the meat on a plate to cool so that you can work with it.
  7. Place the cooked vegetables (except tomatoes and onions) in a bowl with a cover.
  8. Drain the stock into a gravy separator.
  9. Using the wine deglaze the dutch oven and turn the heat off.
  10. Pour the gravy without the grease into a food processor along with the tomatoes and onions or use an immersion blender to make the sauce smooth.
  11. Add water to thin and spices to taste and return to dutch oven if you used a food processor.
  12. Pull the meat off the lamb neck and discard the fat and bones then add the meat to the dutch oven.
  13. Slice the turnips and carrots into smaller bite size pieces and add to the dutch oven.
  14. Simmer on low the vegetables, lamb neck meat and sauce.
  15. Prepare the polenta.
  16. Boil 4 cups water.
  17. Add in cornmeal.
  18. Stir until the cornmeal seems suspended and no longer falls to the bottom of the pot.
  19. Place lid on and give it a stir every so often until thickened.
  20. Ladle the polenta into a bowl, place a serving of lamb neck stew over the center.


Spring Red Pepper and Asparagus Frittata

March 23, 2014 | by Diana

Uncooked Spring Red Pepper and Asparagus Frittata -

Spring is officially here, and the time has come to change things up from the vegetables and fruit that overwinter in the basement to the freshly growing like asparagus.  Red pepper isn’t too local right now, but the southern states have a little coming ripe right now.  This Spring Red Pepper and Asparagus Frittata is light, but full of flavor.  It’s great for Sunday Brunch or even for a quick worknight dinner.

<Click here to get the recipe. >

Spring Red Pepper and Asparagus Frittata -

Spring Red Pepper and Asparagus Frittata


Deviled Green Guac Eggs for St. Patrick’s Day

March 13, 2014 | by Diana

St. Patrick’s Day is coming up and Green is the color of choice (or if you are anti-green, then it’s orange but that’s a different story).  Deviled eggs are great for any gathering and with the help of Wholly Guacamole, my Deviled Green Guac Eggs are a fast way to put together an appetizer for your St. Paddy’s Day gathering. I put my own ingredients together along with a sample of Wholly Guacamole that I received and when my son saw what I was mixing up, he was intrigued and delighted.  He said that it had to be healthier than mayo, and I had to agree.  My husband had a taste when he came home from work and he was equally delighted. We all agree that this makes a fantastic bite.

Deviled Green Guac Eggs - Cookerati

You can find Wholly Guacamole in the refrigerated produce section of the store. If you have more time, you can make up your own guacamole using avocados, garlic powder and lemon or lime to keep from turning brown. If you wish for a little more heat use the Spicy Guac or add some hot peppers.  More Wholly recipes can be found on Pinterest – and if you like discounts check out the coupon tab on their Facebook Page.

Green pea shoots make a great 3 leaf cloverish like green to sprinkle around the eggs and give it a little Irish flair on your serving plate.

<Click here to get recipe.>