Pasta Fra Diavolo with Linguine & Shrimp

If you're looking for a 30-minute weeknight meal that tastes like a Friday night Italian restaurant dinner out, this one's it. I'm working on compiling all of my low-prep work week dinners in preparation for heading back to work next week (ahhh... so many mixed feelings about that), and this is one of my faves.


Makes 4-6 servings.


  • 1 lb. uncooked linguine (or other preferred pasta)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 lb. medium shrimp, deveined and peeled – I use one package of the Argentinian red shrimp from Trader Joe's – it really does taste like lobster!
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes – I'll pick mine up from Trader Joe's or get the San Marzano-style with the basil from Sprouts
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper – I use a little less, so it's not too spicy for my toddler, but the more spicy, the more authentic
  • 1 Tbsp. dried oregano
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped basil, optional
  • salt & pepper to taste


Cook pasta according to directions on the package. While the pasta cooks, heat 2 Tbsp. of the olive oil over medium heat, and saute the shrimp for a few minutes until just opaque, adding 1 tsp of the garlic in the last minute or so. If you are using the Argentinian shrimp, be careful not to overcook, as the shrimp will become tougher and less lobster-like. Remove the shrimp from the pan and set aside.

In the same pan over medium high heat, add the rest of the olive oil. Once hot, add the onions and saute until translucent and tender, about 4 minutes. Add the rest of the garlic and cook for another minute. Stir in the remaining ingredients and allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes until excess liquid has cooked off and sauce is thickened. Toss shrimp back in with the juices and cook for a few minutes more on lower heat to allow the flavors to come together. Mix the sauce and cooked pasta together. I like to serve this with a light salad, and garlic bread to start.

Recipe via Chef Danielle at Big City Chefs

Raw Kale, Cabbage, and Brussels Sprouts Salad

Thanksgiving 1

adorable place settings at our second Thanksgiving dinner

Thanksgiving 2

a beautifully hosted dinner with my boys

We have so much to be thankful for that we celebrated two Thanksgiving dinners this year. I love everything about Thanksgiving – the focus on gratitude, the gathering together, the copious amount of delicious food. I made the Raw Swiss Chard, Cabbage, and Brussels Sprout Salad from this month’s Martha Stewart Living for our first Thanksgiving dinner, and it was so simple and satisfying that it’s been my go-to salad for this entire season. The recipe below makes about 4 or 5 servings, with enough dressing for double the salad. I refrigerate the remainder of the dressing and use it for the second batch of salad. The salad keeps well, and now that I think of it, would be great with some dried tart cherries or cranberries thrown in. I have some in my fridge right now and plan on having it for lunch tomorrow with a side of quinoa and sautéed onions, topped with a fried egg.


(Mostly) Raw Kale, Cabbage, and Brussels Sprout Salad

adapted from Martha Stewart Living, December 2014 issue

  • 1/2 head Napa cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 stalk brussels sprouts, removed from the stalk and sliced in half if large
  • 1/2 bunch of kale, stemmed and thinly sliced (or Swiss chard if you prefer)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce (I used Tamari)
  • about 1/4 cup black truffle olive oil  (from Trader Joe’s)
  • about 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 ounce Pecorino Romano, shaved or grated (optional)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

1. Combine the greens in a large bowl. Toss with the sugar and half a teaspoon of salt. I would add a little more sugar if you are using Swiss chard. Let the greens sit in the fridge or on the counter while you roast the brussels sprouts.

2. The original recipe calls for the brussels sprouts raw (trimmed and sliced thin), but I like them roasted. Toss them with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast on a pan for about half an hour at 425 degrees, giving them a stir halfway through for more even roasting. While they are roasting you can toast the walnuts stovetop in a pan.  Let the brussels sprouts cool a bit then add them to the greens.

3. Make the dressing. In a small jar, combine the vinegar, mustard, soy sauce and 1 teaspoon of salt. Slowly whisk in the oil. Use about half a cup of oil combined. I love the flavor that the black truffle olive oil adds, so I use that in combination with regular olive oil. Give it a good shake. Toss the greens with about half the dressing, adding the cheese and the walnuts. You can refrigerate it for up to an hour before serving, but I dished it out right away with an extra grating of cheese.

happy september! (and the easiest pulled pork).

Pulled pork

I am excited beyond excited that DUE MONTH is here! The little guy can surprise us with his arrival any day now. Since he


won’t come until after his due date, we’re following our birth instructor’s suggestion to turn his “due date” into “date night,” with dinner reservations for Nick’s Laguna Beach. Part of me hopes he comes like tomorrow, and the other part of me hopes that he holds out until the 14th, so I can splurge on ahi and warm butter cake.

Now that it’s officially September 1, with summer coming to a close and my laziness growing by the day, it’s the perfect time to break out the crock pot and Le Creuset. September for me is all about comfort food - apple pie and hot cider, BBQ pulled pork sandwiches and homemade mac & cheese. I made this super easy BBQ pulled pork the other day, serving it over lettuce & veggies from our CSA basket and for another meal on a toasted brioche bun with a salad on the side.

5-Ingredient Easy Pulled Pork

2 1/4 lb. bone-in pork shoulder

Trader Joe’s BBQ Rub & Seasoning with Coffee & Garlic

1/2 -1 cup apple cider vinegar

1-1 1/2 cups apple juice (I used unfiltered apple juice from Sprout’s)

1/2 bottle Trader Joe’s Kansas City Style BBQ Sauce

Rinse the pork shoulder and pat dry. Season all sides with the BBQ rub and return the pork to the fridge. I used my 5 1/2 quart Le Creuset for this recipe. Heat your pan of choice, adding a pat of butter and grapeseed/olive oil after the pan is hot. Sear the meat on high/medium-high on all sides until the meat is a dark, crusty brown (at least several minutes on each side). Add a half cup of apple cider vinegar to start and about a cup of apple juice. Reduce the heat, and let the liquid simmer away. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and then pop in the meat. I kept the liquid at a minimum, probably around a fourth of the way up the meat, adding more cider and juice when necessary. I checked and rotated the meat every hour, for a total of about 3 1/2 hours in the oven. Once the meat is fork-tender, use two forks to shred and add the BBQ sauce. I’ll probably make these for little Hawaiian roll sliders next time we have company.

Happy September, friends!

tired girl's chia pudding.

Babyshower mary

roasting marshmellows with my best at dave's and my baby celebration | 31 weeks

I bought my first bag of chia seeds the other day, packaged in the cutest, matte lilac pouch in the Trader Joe’s breakfast food aisle. I didn’t know that chia seeds had 6g of fiber, 2.9g of Omega-3 fatty acids, and 3g of protein in just one tablespoon, which makes it an amazing addition to a late-pregnancy diet. I just knew that the cool food bloggers I follow on Insta consume chia seeds on the regular on top of their homemade acai bowls and what not.

I’m too freaking tired for much of anything homemade these days. I could eat take-out every night if I didn’t feel so guilty about the organic vegetables from our CSA basket going limp in the fridge. I had no idea that at 33 weeks, I could feel this kind of tired - the kind of tired where 9 hours of sleep a night feels like I pulled an all-nighter, and I have to nap at 10am so that I have enough energy to eat lunch. I’m sure this bodes well for my postpartum experience.

I’m not whipping up any peach-blackberry cobblers this summer (although that does sound amazing, and I would love to know where I could get a good one around here) because that sounds like a lot of effort. But 3-5 ingredient pudding I can do.


  • 1 can coconut milk or coconut cream (I used coconut cream, because I love cream and because that’s what we had in the pantry)
  • 1/2 cup chia seeds (1/4 cup at a time)
  • 1/2 cup honey or agave nectar (1/4 cup at a time - I used honey)
  • Add-ins: I used the juice of half a tiny  orange, 4 large Thai basil leaves, chopped (both were in our CSA basket), and a large teaspoon (loosely measured) of vanilla bean paste.

Split the can of coconut cream between two small-medium bowls. Add 1/4 cup chia seeds and 1/4 cup honey to each bowl, and mix. I made an orange-basil version and a vanilla bean version. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours. Perfect with a glass of iced coconut green tea.


Today was a great day. Today, I did things that I loved doing.

I skyped with my family, dressed myself in Target sweatpants and a Lululemon top, read articles on the NY Times website to my heart's desire, learned new things online, brewed a fresh cup of coffee, heard exciting news from friends, prepared chicken tortilla soup from scratch, made pressed juice for breakfast, dreamed about the furniture (a blue velvet sofa! a rosewood dresser!) for our future apartment and scouted deals on Craigslist, studied new Chinese words and brushed up on my quantitative skills, and snuggled up in our couch/bed to catch up on Homeland and The Good Wife – all things that make me happy.

I'll be honest – I'm not where I thought I'd be at 26 as I imagined it would be like back in high school. But also, I'm not where I thought I'd be. For all my planning, I never could have predicted that I'd be in China of all places, or married, or living more of a freelance adventure than a climb up the career ladder. Somehow, I thought I could only be happy while on a tropical vacation or stressing out over an ambiguous project needing results fast (because weirdly, I thrive on that, too). When I step away from my day's activities as things to be checked off of my Todoist and view them more like things that I enjoy doing, I'm so much happier.

I want to stop apologizing for not having enough time, for not doing it all. I need to stop apologizing for recognizing the resource constraints that we all face. I'm not sorry that sometimes my priorities change and that instead of juggling yet another to-do, I choose to drop one, sometimes temporarily, sometimes forever. More fun means less list. When Dave gets home and asks me how my day went, I want to stop responding with, "Ugh, I haven't finished all of my to-dos yet." More often, I want to respond: Today was a great day. I did things that I love doing. And I'll be happier for it.

Layered Chicken Tortilla Soup

If you've ever had the chicken tortilla soup at Cafe Rio, you'll understand the magic of the layering. This is my take on the Cafe Rio fave...
This soup makes for an easy weekday meal, but it's exciting enough to make for friends on the weekend. I would include a picture, but the one I have doesn't do it justice.

You'll need:

  • about 1 lb or three chicken breasts 
  • 1 packet of taco or burrito seasoning
  • half a lime
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 small, green bell pepper
  • 5 cups of chicken broth (I used 5 of the packets from Trader Joe's mixed with hot water)
  • 1 jar of salsa
  • a handful of cilantro
  • 1/2 - 1 cup of cheddar cheese (I used white cheddar), shredded
  • a handful of tortilla chips or toasted corn tortillas
  • a couple flour tortillas
RINSE and pat dry the chicken. You can easily double the chicken if you want extra for tacos or chicken quesadillas later in the week. I used a leftover packet of burrito seasoning, but I think a full packet would be sufficient for 2 lbs. Squeeze the juice of half a lime on the chicken and sprinkle on both sides with the seasoning.
MARINATE the chicken for about an hour then place in a slow cooker with a cup of broth on high for 2-3 hours or until the broth has thickened into a sauce. Use two forks to shred the chicken.
ABOUT half an hour or less before you want to eat, dice the onion and pepper and saute in a tablespoon of oil until softened. Use a soup pot to saute, then add the remaining cups of broth and bring to a boil.
PORTION the chicken into soup bowls. You'll have 4-5 servings. To each bowl, add a ladle or two of the onion, pepper and broth mixture. Add a few tablespoons of salsa, a sprinkle of cilantro (no need to chop), and a handful of cheese. Garnish with a few tortilla chips. I used guacamole flavored chips, and they were delicious. You could easily add more toppings – sliced avocado, maybe? Heat a couple of tortillas in the oven or microwave as a side. Enjoy!