fish & shrimp ceviche

I took a much needed beach vacation this weekend.  Pensacola was beautiful, but the food was really what made the trip.

Any time my Italian family gets to together, the resulting food is incredible.  And I’m talking quantity and quality here.  We don’t just do pasta and meat balls either.  Everyone has their own style and eclectic taste – probably has something to do with the Italian heritage, growing up in New Orleans, and then moving all over the country.  Whatever it is, I love it.  I love how at any given moment, someone is in the kitchen making something.  Even on a beautiful day at the beach.  And how we have to make daily grocery store trips where we buy enough food to last most families an entire week.  Somehow we never have any problems with leftovers.

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grilled panzanella salad with grilled peppers, squash, and tomatoes

Creole tomatoes are one of the many reasons that I love summer.  They are so vibrant and fresh that I find myself trying to work them into every meal that I eat! Toast, eggs, and tomatoes for breakfast, Caprese sandwiches for lunch, pasta with fresh tomato sauce for dinner – I think you get the picture.  For everyone not fortunate to enough to live in Louisiana, any tomatoes can easily take the place of these (I just find myself to be a little bit partial…).  I’ve somewhat lost interest in leafy green salads after it became a go-to meal at the beginning of summer, so that was definitely out.   While rummaging around trying to think of something, I found a loaf of rejected, slightly stale French bread and knew it was time to make a panzanella.  This salad is perfect for so many reasons.  Really, anything goes here.  Leftover asparagus?  Toss it in.  Can’t find squash?  Substitute a cucumber.  Also, the grilled French bread makes this salad a little heartier than your typical lettuce-tomatoes-light vinaigrette combo .  With the  fresh grilled veggies and lemony dressing, this panzanella is sure to be a hit regardless of what you throw into it.
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