Cioppino is a Christmas Eve tradition in my family. For as long as I can remember, my grandmother would throw it together every Christmas Eve and serve it with salad, white rice, and freshly baked bread rolls. It is a dish everyone expects when the holidays come around. Cioppino is the Italian equivalent of Paella seafood casserole.

My sisters and I would normally join her in making this dish. Now that my grandmother is gone, it is my turn to take on the cioppino and prepare it for Christmas Eve. Thankfully my grandmother left helpful notes on the recipe, like to triple to recipe in order to feed the 12 person group that gathers at her house on Christmas Eve. And to cut the salt in half to avoid it being too salty. The nice thing about this recipe is that you can prepare the sauce a few days before and freeze it. Then on the day you are ready to serve, simply heat up the sauce and pour over the fresh seafood, cooking it for about 20 minutes more. You serve it immediately, but it also reheats very well as leftovers.

Rating 5/5



Cooking Time: 1 hour 30 minutes to 2 hours


1 minced large onion

1/2 cup minced celery

1/2 cup minced green pepper

1 or 2 minced garlic cloves

1/2 cup olive oil

2 1/2 cups canned tomatoes

1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce

1 tsp dried basil

1/4 cup minced fresh parsley

1 small bayleaf

6 black peppercorns

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/2 cup dry white wine (find a cheap dry wine like pinot grigio)

2 lb fresh fish (halibut, cod, sea bass, or rockfish), cut into 2-inch squares

1/2 lb mussels in the shell (live and scrubbed)

1/2 lb clams in the shell

2 large king crab legs

1 lb shelled raw shrimp

1/2 lb scallops

Cook the onions, celery, green pepper, garlic cloves and olive oil in a large deep pan until translucent. Add the canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, parsley, bayleaf, peppercorns, salt and pepper; stir. Cover the pan and simmer for one hour, thinning with hot water as needed.

Add white wine and cook for 10 minutes, bringing it to a boil.

Place the seafood in layers in a deep stock pot and pour the boiling sauce over it. Cover and simmer for another 20 minutes. Serve immediately.



Easy Pasta and Meatball Dish

Among my group of friends, there are a few who are slightly intimidated by the kitchen. It is not that they don’t want to learn how to cook, but they feel uncomfortable even boiling water. Creating a dish, they feel, is too difficult. I’ve been surprised at how easy some dishes are to cook up and how delicious they turn out. I know there are many people out there that have no idea what they are doing and I’m here to say it is okay. Not sure what to have for dinner tonight? Try this super easy pasta dish. You will be surprised at how easy and rewarding a meal like this can be.

1 box pasta (any kind, I chose to go healthy with the whole grain)

1 green bell pepper

1 large white onion

1 package (12 oz) ground Italian sausage

1 can (45 oz) pasta sauce

extra-virgin olive oil

salt and pepper

any other spices and seasonings you prefer

You do not have to be exact with the sizes or ounces of the packaging. These were the amounts I found to work with this dish but you can increase or decrease the amount of an ingredient depending on your personal preference. You can also switch out the Italian sausage for turkey sausage, the pasta sauce for plain tomato sauce or marinara sauce, and add in other vegetables.

Before you start preparing anything, place a large pot of cold water on the stove to boil at medium high heat. Add in a large pinch of salt and about a tablespoon of olive oil. Once the water begins to boil, pour in your pasta and cook until “al dente”. This means the pasta is just barely cooked all the way through. Usually the pasta box will give you a cooking time. In this case, I boiled the pasta for 9 minutes. Drain the water from the pasta with a colander and set aside.

Take the onion, remove the outer skin, and cut off the top and bottom ends to remove the root. Slice and chop the onion into chunks similar to the ones below. Place in a large pan with a tablespoon of olive oil. Take the green bell pepper and cut off the sides, slicing them before adding them to the pan. You do not want any of the center or seeds of the pepper. Saute the onion and pepper on medium heat, stirring occasionally. Cook until soft but still has somewhat of a crunch to it, about 7 to 8 minutes. Set aside.

In a large metal bowl, place your Italian sausage along with any spices or seasonings you would like in your meatballs. In this recipe, I used red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and some Worcestershire sauce for flavor. Using your hands (or if you’d prefer not to get your hands messy, a spoon) mix together the meat and spices and form into small meatballs.

Place the meatballs on a separate plate until they are ready to be cooked. Wash your hands whenever you handle raw meat!!

Using the same pan as you did to saute your veggies, place the meatballs in to cook. Cook until browned, moving them around occasionally to cook them evenly on all sides. You can always take one out to cool and check to make sure the middle is cooked through.

Take your large pot you used for the pasta and add in the pasta sauce. Heat on medium heat until it begins to bubble. At this point you will want to add your onion and pepper, meatballs, and pasta. Add salt and pepper if needed. Cook and stir until everything is hot and ready to serve.

To keep it easy, serve with store bought garlic bread and a bagged salad. I was surprised the first time I made this at how flavorful the meatballs were and the dish felt so healthy. If any beginners out there do give a recipe like this a try, I would love to hear about your experience and possibly view a photo. Enjoy and good luck!

Shrimp with Linguini

Watching the food network is a bad idea. It always results in me wanting to cook real real bad late at night! Like I don’t already have a long list of things I want to cook up. It’s bad, but good at the same time if you know what I mean. At least I don’t have a shortage of those who want to try whatever I make. This recipe didn’t come from watching the food network, but my tv watching lead me to looking around on the website. I noticed this dish and it sounded really good (I’ve been craving shrimp lately).

I liked the idea of doing this recipe because a) it didn’t take a lot of ingredients, b) it didn’t sound like it would take too long, and c) it looked delicious! So, of course, the next day after class I went to the grocery store and picked up the ingredients along with some salad fixings and garlic bread. It cost about $20 for everything I needed. I already had garlic and olive oil.

1 pound linguini

4 tbsp butter

4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

2 shallots, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

pinch red pepper flakes

1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup dry white wine

juice of 1 lemon

1/4 cup finely chopped parsley leaves


Grab a large pot and fill with water until about a few inches from the top. Add in 2 tablespoons salt. Bring to a boil then add linguini. Stir to separate noodles. Cook until al dente, about 7 or 8 minutes. Drain pasta and set aside. I used whole wheat linguini pasta for a healthier version.

In a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Add in red pepper flakes, shallots, and garlic. Personally, I like spicy food so I added in more than a pinch of red pepper flakes. It is up to you whether or not you want to use them.

Season the shrimp with salt and pepper. After about 3 to 4 minutes, or once the shallots become translucent, add shrimp. Cook until they turn pink, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside. (For me, the shrimp was already cooked at the grocery store so I skipped this step to keep from overcooking it)

Add wine and lemon juice, bring to a boil. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Once the butter has melted, return shrimp to the pan. Add parsley and cooked linguini. Serve once the shrimp has warmed up. Season with pepper, salt, and olive oil to taste.

Very simple. Very easy. So good! Now I know why the recipe had so many good reviews. This one is going in the recipe binder for sure. It was very filling and I felt like it was healthy too (not including the garlic bread). Enjoy.