Grilled Pineapple Salad

Grilled Pineapple Salad

Here’s another healthy recipe for those of you following along!

We were at our local produce market the other day where we saw some beautiful pineapples. There’s something about a pineapple that makes me happy. Maybe it releases some kind of endorphins into the air? I don’t know! But I could easily put one in every room just for the aesthetic they provide.

But this blog isn’t about decorating a home. It’s about cooking. So I sliced that gorgeous pineapple up and skewered it like a piece of meat.

I put the grilled pineapple chunks on a bed of locally grown bibb lettuce, and topped it with a homemade citrusy dressing. It’s summer baby!

(Well, technically the first day of summer is June 21, but it feels like summer here in Florida.)

By the way, I found this article about how to grow a pineapple from the top and I’m trying it out. It will probably be a few years before we see a new pineapple, but I figured it would be a fun experiment.


  • 1 pineapple, sliced into 1 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 head bibb lettuce
  • 1/4 cup dried cherries
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds

For the dressing

  • 2 tsps strawberry preserves
  • 3 tbs orange juice
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tbs apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil


Place 6-7 pineapple chunks on metal or bamboo skewers. I got about 7 skewers out of one pineapple. Heat grill on medium-high heat. Place skewers on the grill. Grill for about 10 minutes or until slightly blackened around edges. Set aside.

Meanwhile, remove the core from the bibb lettuce. The leaves will fall apart from each other, and I like to leave them whole for this salad. Rinse them well, and pat dry with paper towels. Place on a large platter (for multiple people) or directly on a plate to serve.

Prepare the dressing by whisking all dressing ingredients together in a small bowl.

Place dried cherries and almonds on lettuce. Top with grilled pineapple. Spoon the dressing over the entire salad (don’t feel like you need to use all of it – it’s great leftover).

Serves 3-4

Grilled Pineapple Salad

By the way, did you know today is national vinegar day? Celebrate by making the homemade vinaigrette in this salad!

Shaved Ham and Apricot Pinwheels

Ham and Apricot Pinwheels

My last experience with puff pastry didn’t go so well, but it taught me a lot about working with puff pastry. I was trying to make a cherry palmier with cream cheese and cherry pie filling. It seemed easy enough.

First Mistake

Placing warm cream cheese on the puff pastry

Puff pastry needs to stay cold. That’s what helps it puff up in the oven. The hot temperatures hit the cold butter, and BAM! Delicious puff pastry. Putting the warm cream cheese on the puff pastry also made it almost impossible to roll up because the dough had become too soft to work with.

Second Mistake

Overfilling the pastry with large awkward shapes aka the cherries

I think I used the entire can of cherry pie filling, and by the time I was done I had the ugliest looking thing I’ve ever seen in my kitchen. The cherries bounced around and almost avoided being rolled up. Ever try and pick an eggshell out of a bowl of eggs? Imagine that times 50 with cherries covered in red dye. What I should have done was cut the cherries into smaller pieces and used less. Less is more when rolling up puff pastry.

Third Mistake

Rushing to get it in the oven

I may have been able to salvage little miss ugly, or at least end up with something that was edible, but I got impatient and threw the sloppy mess into the oven – half expecting to witness some food miracle. It didn’t happen. Because the puff pastry wasn’t cold it didn’t bake properly. What I should have done to try and salvage it was to put it the refrigerator for awhile to let things firm up. At that point I may have even been able to unroll it and remove some cherries, and it definitely would have helped the pastry to bake better than it did.

Determined to redeem myself from this failure, I bought some more sheets of puff pastry and came up with a winning combination of ingredients. I was now equipped with the knowledge that I needed to:

  1. Keep the puff pastry cold
  2. Put less in it so that it rolls up properly
  3. Be patient, and set aside moments for the puff pastry to chill out in the frig (or freezer) for a few minutes here and there as needed.

Aren’t you glad I tormented myself so you wouldn’t have to? The truth is you have to work with this stuff to learn all about it. Don’t get discouraged if you mess up the first time, and if you get it right the first time…pat yourself on the back!


  • 1 sheet puff pastry
  • 2 tbs apricot preserves
  • 5 slices of deli ham (I used an applewood smoked ham from Target that was delicious)
  • 1/2 cup shredded smoked gruyere or smoked gouda (confirm amount with a dry measuring cup, do not go by the measurement on the package or you will end up with too much cheese)
  • 1 egg (optional)
  • 1 1/2 tbs water (optional)


Thaw puff pastry according to package directions (mine said 40 minutes at room temperature but it was ready to work with much sooner). It should be cold, but easy to work with.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Unfold puff pastry and lay on a surface lightly dusted with flour. Gently roll to flatten out. Carefully spread apricot preserves over entire sheet leaving an inch at the end farthest away from you.

Cut ham into strips and place a single layer over preserves. Top with cheese.

Ham and Apricot Pinwheels

Starting from the end closest to you, begin rolling up the puff pastry. Roll as tightly as you can. When you reach the end, press the edge into the pinwheel to seal. Place on parchment paper and store in the freezer for about 5 minutes.

Ham and Apricot Pinwheels

After puff pastry has firmed up in the freezer, use a sharp knife to cut pastry into 3/4 inch sections. Place pinwheels on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

Optional:  Make an egg wash with egg and water. Brush the outside and tops lightly with egg wash. This makes the pastry shine and gives it a more golden color.

Place in oven and bake for about 18 minutes. Turn baking sheet if it looks like they are cooking unevenly. They will be golden and delicious when done.

Makes 12 pinwheels.

Ham and Apricot Pinwheels

Has anything given you trouble in the kitchen lately? What about kitchen fears? Is there a recipe that intrigues you, but you won’t try it because something about it is intimidating? I’d love to hear your story in the comment section below!

Moroccan Beef Kabobs

Moroccan Beef Kabobs

My boss is super generous, and for Katie’s and my wedding reception he offered to pay for the catering. We had so much fun getting to try all the different foods!

One of the things we ended up choosing was their Moroccan beef kabobs with a cumin yogurt dipping sauce. They were delicious! Although I don’t remember them much from the actual wedding day, I know that recreating them promptly went on my list of things to do.

About a month after our honeymoon I decided to give them a try. It just so happened to be the same night we found out we’d be having our daughter. So this meal is kind of special!

While I have no clue how the original was made, I think this is a pretty amazing recreation!

Moroccan Beef Kabobs


  • 1 1/2 lbs beef (stew meat, eye of round, or even good steaks will work), cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks
  • 2 zucchinis
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1 tbs cinnamon
  • 1 tbs paprika
  • 1 tbs salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

Dipping sauce

  • 1 cup plain regular or greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp cumin


Cut vegetables into 1 inch chunks. Place in a large bowl followed by the meat. Add seasonings and olive oil to the bowl, and mix well with clean hands.

Skewer vegetables and beef on bamboo or metal skewers. If using bamboo skewers, make sure to soak for at least 10 minutes first.

Preheat grill to 375-400 degrees F.

Meanwhile, place yogurt and cumin in a bowl and whisk thoroughly.

Place skewers on preheated grill. Cook for 6 minutes on each side. Serve with cumin yogurt dipping sauce.

Note: I love this dish served with basmati rice cooked with a few chopped onions and chicken stock instead of water.

Makes 7-8 skewers.

Moroccan Beef Kabobs

Blueberry Glazed Shortcut Donuts

Blueberry Glazed Shortcut Donut

It’s official. I’m never buying another donut from the store again. When I discovered on the internet that you could make donuts out of deep-fried canned biscuits, I was a little skeptical. So skeptical that I had to give it a try.

Well, it works. It really works! And they are so delicious!

Not only are these donuts super easy, but they look beautiful all lined up on a plate and ready for grabbing…

Blueberry Glazed Shortcut Donut

We’re already brainstorming ideas for a donut-topping party for our son’s second birthday next month. Everyone gets a plain donut, and chooses their coating (plain glaze, chocolate ganache, lemon cream, etc.), and then they decorate it (sprinkles, coconut, powdered sugar, etc.). I’m sure someone else has thought of this, but this has opened up a whole new world for us.

If you’re like me you might be wondering one very important thing:  DOES IT ACTUALLY TASTE AND FEEL LIKE A DONUT OR IS IT JUST A FRIED BISCUIT?

The answer is:  It truly does look, taste, and feel like a donut. They are slightly crispy on the outside with chewy centers. The taste kind of reminds me of a funnel cake (woo hooo). Of course, that will be altered by what you top it with.

The blueberry glaze really makes them pop visually, but flavor-wise, I think chocolate would be amazing on these. Or as my wife suggested, chocolate with sea salt caramel drizzled on top. She just understands me that way.

Here are some tips that I HIGHLY RECOMMEND FOLLOWING:

  1. A shot glass or, um, one of those small, plastic, communion cups they give you at church are perfect for cutting the hole (I don’t know they ended up in my house. I promise!).
  2. Use your donut hole to test the oil. THIS IS IMPORTANT. My oil was too hot when I put the first few in and they were burnt to a crisp almost instantly. I’m talking black and crunchy. I almost gave up right then and there. So, if the donut hole starts turning brown as soon as it hits the oil, you’re oil is too hot. You really want these to cook slowly in the oil so the inside has enough time to cook completely while you work towards getting the perfect golden doneness on the outside.
  3. Allow the donuts to cool to room temperature before glazing them. This will help the glaze set faster. I also feel like it helps the donut texture to form. Seriously. I tried one when it was warm and it didn’t have quite enough chew in it.

Other than those few tips, this is pretty fool proof! Oh and by the way…


You could get a free donut somewhere, or you could just make a batch of these at home. I recommend these.


  • 1 can Pillsbury™ Grands!™ Flaky Layers
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons half and half
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups vegetable oil


Heat oil in a large pan with high sides.

Separate biscuits and cut a hole in the center of each one using your instrument of choice.

Test the oil with one of the donut holes. If it starts to turn brown immediately, the oil is too hot. When oil is the right temperature, place 2-3 donuts in the pan. Allow one side to cook until golden brown and then carefully flip over with tongs. When other side is finished, remove donuts and place on a wire rack to cool.

Meanwhile, place blueberries and sugar in a small saucepan on medium heat. Mash blueberries with a fork and combine thoroughly with the sugar. Allow to boil for 1-2 minutes then turn off the heat and allow to cool.

In a bowl that is larger than your donut, whisk 2-3 tablespoons of the blueberry mixture with powdered sugar, milk and vanilla. Adjust wet or dry ingredients if necessary to get the right consistency in your glaze.

When donuts have cooled, dip each donut quickly into the glaze and then transfer back to wire racks or a serving dish. You can eat them now, or allow the glaze to firm up a little.

If you want to make this even easier, feel free to skip the blueberries. In fact, you could probably skip the entire glaze and just roll them in sugar. I don’t think you can go wrong with these!

Blueberry Glazed Shortcut Donuts

Are you as shocked as I am that canned biscuits can be used to make delicious donuts? Getting ideas for what toppings you’d want to try? I’d love to hear from you in the comment section below!

Zuppa Toscana

Zuppa Toscana

Last Sunday was a lazy afternoon. There were welcomed raindrops falling from the sky as we walked out of church. The forecasters had been predicting rain all week, but the clouds just wouldn’t let go of it.

I don’t know why, but the thought of playing an episode of Julia Child’s French Chef came to me. We laughed as she put together her Bouillabaisse a la Marseillaise - a fish stew originating in Provençal. As she hacked away at a giant fish with a rather large knife, I had my own little soup cooking.

Zuppa Toscana. I’m not sure if this is a real soup, or if it is just exclusive to Olive Garden. Whatever the case, it is delicious. There are a dozen copycat recipes all over the internet, so I found some that sounded good and tweaked them here and there until I got it just right.

We had a crusty loaf of italian bread that I threw in the freezer when I realized it was getting stale. My wife suggested we have it with the soup so out it came and into the oven it went. It was the perfect companion to the soup alongside a plate dusted with salt and pepper, and drizzled with olive oil. If you haven’t dipped crusty bread in olive oil, you are missing one of life’s special moments.

By then the rain had stopped, and Julia Child had finished her stew. We sat down at the table, thanked God for His blessings, and ate our soup and crunched our bread.

Afterwards, I snapped some photos. Our daughter couldn’t resist standing by while I snapped away.

Zuppa Toscana

She has a thing for oil…and butter.  She was trying to “smell” it. Her words.

Zuppa Toscana


  • 1 lb mild italian sausage
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups organic or homemade chicken stock
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 large russet (baking) potatoes, unpeeled, sliced in 1/8″ rounds and then cut in half
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 3-4 cups chopped kale


Remove sausage from casing and brown in a large dutch oven or heavy-bottom pot. Add onions and continue to cook until translucent. Stir in minced garlic and cook for another minute.

Pour chicken stock and water into pot, and stir. Add potatoes, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Stir and bring to a boil.

Cover and cook until potatoes are fork tender. Turn the heat off, and allow the soup to stop bubbling. Stir in half and half, and then the kale. Let sit for a few minutes and then serve.

Serves 8

Zuppa Toscana

Apple Pistachio Grilled Chicken Salad

Apple Pistachio Grilled Chicken Salad

Last week, I promised you some healthier recipes. I’m keeping that promise and sharing this delicious, fresh, and easy salad that is perfect for summer.

I love big salads that become a meal instead of a side dish. This usually happens with the addition of meat and more substantial toppings like apples and nuts. For this salad I use pistachios and grilled chicken. Pistachios have a distinct flavor and they don’t get lost in the salad like other nuts do.

A homemade honey lime dressing completes it, and gives it a light, summery taste.

I typically put some kind of cheese in my salads, but this one doesn’t even need it. In fact, I think it would ruin it!


For the dressing

  • Juice of one lime
  • 1 tbs honey
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 3 tbs olive oil

For the salad

  • 3-4 chicken breasts
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 5 oz mixed greens (I get the organic ones in a clamshell container)
  • 1 apple (we love Jazz apples), thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup pistachios, more or less to suit your taste
  • 1 yellow pepper, thinly sliced


Preheat grill.

Whisk dressing ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.

Meanwhile, rub chicken with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place on preheated grill. Cook for 5-6 minutes on each side. Remove and cover with foil.

Place mixed greens in a large bowl. Pour dressing over top and toss lightly to coat greens. Add sliced apple, pistachios, and yellow pepper. Ingredients can be tossed in, or layered.

Slice grilled chicken breast into strip and place onto salad. Serve!

Serves 4

Apple Pistachio Grilled Chicken Salad

Can’t find a certain ingredient? Substitute for something else, or use what you have. The great thing about salads is that they are pretty hard to mess up!

If you like this recipe let me know in the comment section. I’d love to hear from you!

Breakfast Sandwich Casserole

Breakfast Sandwich Casserole I love good foods. I love healthy foods. I love expensive gourmet foods.

And sometimes, I like bad foods. Like Taco Bell, or Jimmy Dean’s Sausage Egg and Cheese Croissant Sandwiches. They are my guilty pleasures, and I WILL NEVER APOLOGIZE FOR LIKING THEM. Or making a casserole out of them…or more accurately, using them as the inspiration for this easy, five-ingredient, breakfast casserole.

If you’ve been following along this week, you’ve already seen my buttermilk french toast recipe. Grab some coffee and maybe some fruit, and you’ll have everything you need to host a successful breakfast gathering (at least when it comes to the food).

I’ll try to post something healthier next week, but until then…indulge.

Breakfast Sandwich Casserole


  • 1 lb breakfast sausage
  • 1 tbs maple syrup
  • 1 dozen large eggs
  • 8 oz shredded cheddar
  • 4 bakery fresh croissants, sliced in half (like you were making a sandwich)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cook sausage in a medium fry pan over medium heat until browned and done. Drain excess juices or grease. Sausage needs to be dry and crumbly! Add maple syrup and stir to mix in. Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, crack eggs into a bowl and beat with a whisk thoroughly.

Place bottom halves of croissants cut-side-up in a baking dish. Sprinkle half of the cheese over the croissants, and then place the cooked sausage evenly over the cheese. Pour beaten eggs over sausage. Top with remaining cheese. Arrange top halves of croissants cut-side-down over the cheese. Press down on the croissants to saturate them in the eggs.

*Optional:  If you are like me and you love cheese, throw some more on top of the croissants!

Bake for about 25 minutes covering with foil halfway through cooking and removing the foil for the last 2 minutes. Eggs will be set and cheese melted when casserole is done.

Serves 6-8

Breakfast Sandwich Casserole

Buttermilk French Toast Sticks

Buttermilk French Toast Sticks

We had some leftover buttermilk from last week’s buttermilk fried chicken tenders, so I thought french toast sticks would be a great way to use it up!

What is it about big, golden, crispy, chewy, maple-syrup-drenched pieces of custard-covered bread that I JUST LOVE? A picture is worth a thousand words…

Buttermilk French Toast Sticks

For this recipe I use a loaf of sourdough bread from the bakery. The bread should be a few days old so it has time to firm up. This helps it to hold together after being dunked into the custard.

I like to cut the loaf into big strips. There’s something rustic about it, especially if you cook it in a cast iron skillet (which I recommend for this recipe).


  • Loaf of sourdough bread cut into 1″ thick sticks
  • 3/4 cups buttermilk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 heaping tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • butter
  • maple syrup (to drizzle on top of course)


Combine buttermilk, eggs, cinnamon, and vanilla in a large bowl. Dunk a few sticks into the mixture and let them soak for 5- 10 seconds. The sticks need to be completely saturated. Place them on a plate and repeat until you have dunked all the sticks. Loaves of bread may vary, so adjust your custard mixture (more or less) as needed. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be close!

Melt butter in a skillet on medium heat. I started with about 2 tablespoons. When pan is hot and butter is melted, place 4-5 sticks in the skillet. Don’t crowd them! Allow the sticks to cook on each side until they are golden and crispy. I use tongs to gently turn them. When done, place them on a clean plate. You can store them in a microwave to help keep them warm, or on a baking sheet in an oven set to 120 degrees F.

Repeat, adding more butter to the skillet, until your sticks are gone.

Drizzle maple syrup (or your favorite topping) on the french toast and enjoy!

NOTE: I used a round loaf of bread, and it made 16 french sticks. Yours might make more or less. Again, this recipe is easy to adjust depending on how many sticks you want to make.

Buttermilk French Toast Sticks