Cheese balls are great. I love the nostalgia. But cheese logs are even better. Here's why:  It's super easy to find unembellished goat cheese logs at the market. Naked cheese balls not so much. Here are two ideas for dressing those goat cheese logs with holiday (or any day) flavors - and hues. Make ahead and freeze. Ferry to a potluck. Enjoy while watching football. I know, right? Heaven sent. Click READ MORE for the recipe. Delish!

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Ciao'd while watching Monday Night Football. This recipe inspired by
the gold and green Green Bay Packers. I am a G-Men Fan. Sorry Aaron. 

I posted this photo on Instagram and received messages from lots of you asking for the recipe (thank you!). I shot the photo before I baked the pizza which made the requests that much more interesting. Then I thought, "It's the holidays and other people - I'm not the only one! - are pining for a healthy dose of simplicity in the midst of the seasonal excess." Often, the only green we see during this party season is that of Christmas trees and wreaths. With this pesto pizza, we can have our green and eat it, too. 

You've got carte blanche to vary the ingredients in this recipe. Prefer broccoli rabe to broccoli? Go for it. Feel like adding red onion? Do it! A sprinkle of basil, a dash of oregano, a drizzle of olive oil. This pizza has personal expression written all over it. 



Two 8-inch prepared pizza crusts (I used Vicolo cornmeal crust) or one large crust
2 cups broccoli florets, larger florets halved
One 6.5-ounce jar prepared basil pesto
One 8-ounce package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and patted dry
2 cups shredded whole-milk mozzarella
1 cup fresh ricotta
Red pepper flakes, optional.

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Place the broccoli florets in a microwaveable dish. Drizzle with a few tablespoons of water, cover, and microwave until just tender (about 3 minutes). Drain and pat dry.

Spread the pesto on the pizza crust, dividing evenly. Sprinkle half of the mozzarella over the pesto. Place the broccoli florets and artichokes on the cheese, dividing evenly. Top with the remaining mozzarella. Dollop the ricotta over the mozzarella. Sprinkle with the red pepper, if using.

Bake until the cheese is melted and the crust is lightly browned, about 12 to 15 minutes. Let sit 5 minutes before slicing. 


Ciao'd after stringing lights on the tree without arguing (much) with husband.
Christmas miracle. 

This could be the easiest elegant dinner party dish ever. The sweet-tart pomegranate sauce sparks the lamb with bright flavor - and gorgeous color, too. It's just the thing to serve for a holiday get-together with friends. Purchase the pomegranate juice (POM is a nice brand) or go for it and juice those lovely orbs yourself.

Lamb Chops
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary or 2 teaspoons dried rosemary
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
8 bone-in lamb loin chops, each 2-inches thick

1 cup unsweetened pomegranate juice
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon cold water
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Pomegranate seeds, for serving (optional)

Season both sides of the lamb chops with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, combine the rosemary, garlic and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Press the rosemary mixture firmly into both sides of each chop. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.

In a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil until very hot, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the lamb chops and cook, turning once, until browned on both sides and cooked through, about 8 to 10 minutes for medium-rare, depending on the thickness of the chops. Transfer the chops to a platter and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Let rest while you prepare the sauce.

While the lamb chops rest, discard any fat from the skillet, and then add the pomegranate juice. Bring to a boil and cook over medium-high heat, 2 minutes. Thoroughly mix the cornstarch with the water until completely dissolved. Combine the cornstarch and water and stir until the cornstarch is completely dissolved. and stir into the pomegranate mixture. Bring to a boil and cook until the sauce thickens slightly, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the balsamic vinegar; then swirl in the butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Drizzle the sauce over the lamb chops and garnish with pomegranate seeds, if using.  


Ciao'd while watching Love Actually. I feel it in my toes.

When beef tenderloin took the place of ground beef in my mother’s stroganoff, it became company food. I think “company” works perfectly well for “family,” too. In this rendition, I use chanterelle mushrooms. They imbue the stroganoff with a sweet richness that plays off the tart sour cream. Spoiler alert: wild mushrooms can be pricey. Feel free to use cremini mushrooms instead. The flavor will not suffer. Beef Stroganoff with Chanterelle Mushrooms is comfort food with an adult attitude. That said, button mushrooms are a worthy substitute for the chanterelles.

Serves 6

2 pounds beef tenderloin, cut into 2-inch strips
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
1 shallot, finely chopped
¾ pound fresh chanterelle mushrooms (thickly slice larger mushrooms) 
¼ cup dry red wine
1 cup beef broth
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons cold water
¾ cup sour cream (don’t use low-fat), at room temperature
¾ pound (12 ounces) egg noodle
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Pat the meat dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper. In a large heavy skillet over high heat, heat the oil until very hot (the oil will shimmer). Add the beef strips in a single layer, and sear, turning once, until brown, about 1 minute per side. Do not crowd the beef; you may have to cook it in batches. Transfer to a plate and keep warm.

Reduce the heat to medium-high and melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in the skillet. Add the shallot and cook until soft, about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and sauté until the liquid evaporates, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the wine and cook, scraping the bottom of the pan to release the meat and mushroom bits, until the wine reduces by half, a minute or so. Add the beef broth and simmer until the liquid begins to thicken, about 10 to 12 minutes. Combine the cornstarch and water and stir into the mixture; cook until the sauce thickens further, about 1 to 2 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir in the sour cream and heat through but do not allow it to boil. Return the beef to the pan and simmer over medium-low heat until the meat is heated through, about 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the noodles in a large pot of boiling salted water according to package directions. Toss the cooked and drained egg noodles in the remaining 3 tablespoons butter. Serve the beef and sauce over the egg noodles, sprinkled with parsley.  


Ciao'd while sipping turkey bone broth. Thanksgiving just keeps on giving. 


The heat of the oven concentrates the sweetness of the fresh shrimp and gently chars the broccolini for a fast and light one-pan supper. 

Serves 4

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Juice from 1 lemon
2 teaspoons dried basil
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
32 extra-large shrimp (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and deveined
2 large bunches broccolini, ends trimmed

Preheat oven to 400°F.

In a medium bowl, combine 4 tablespoons of the olive oil, lemon juice, basil,
garlic, 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Add the shrimp and toss to coat.

Spread broccolini in a single layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle with the remaining oil and toss to coat. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Roast
10 minutes, turning once, and removing thinner stems as they are done.

Add shrimp to baking sheet, nestling it among the broccolini stems. Roast, turning the shrimp once, until the shrimp are opaque and the broccolini is crisp-tender,
to 10 minutes more. Serve with lemon wedges.