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After a fabulous night in Brooklyn with my good friend from a previous job, we were in dire need of a refreshing drink and a heavy brunch. Being that we were out the door by 10:00 a.m. on a Sunday, and that my friend lives four blocks from Pies ‘n’ Thighs, the next step was obvious.

She ordered a Michelada, and since I wasn’t in the mood for sake in my Bloody Mary, I got the same. Naturally, on my way back to Connecticut, I stopped for hot sauce, and my cocktail hour hasn’t been the same since.

Roadmap to success:

In a pint glass, place two ice cubes (enough to chill, but not too much to dilute). Add 3-4 dashes of Worcestershire sauce (not typical in a Michelada, but it adds that Bloody Mary element that I adore), anywhere from 3-8 dashes of your favorite hot sauce (I like it hot), and a good squeeze of lemon juice (lime juice is traditional, but I think the yellow citrus works better with the Worcestershire). Top with a light, inexpensive beer of your liking (I go for Narraganset), stir, and enjoy–with a straw (not optional).

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Okay so, the wings aren’t healthy. BUT, it was the night of the Fantasy Football Draft, so the boys obviously deserved to treat themselves, what with all the strategy and mouse-clicks.

1/2 cup red quinoa, rinsed
kosher salt and black pepper
3/4 pound green beans
1 summer squash, very thinly sliced
1 small bunch mint, rough chop
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1. Prepare the quinoa according to the package directions, seasoning the water with a bit of salt and pepper. Cool.
2. In boiling salted water, blanch the green beans for 3-5 minutes, or until crisp tender. Drain and run under cold water. Cut in half on a bias.
3. Combine the quinoa, green beans, squash ribbons, mint, lemon juice and olive oil.
4. Gently toss to combine and adjust seasoning to taste.

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340 grams (12 oz) broccoli
2 cloves garlic
zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup half and half
30 grams parmesan cheese, grated, plus more for passing
kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
1 pound whole wheat spaghetti

1. Steam the broccoli until tender and then place in a food processor.
2. Add the garlic, lemon zest and juice, half and half, and parmesan cheese to the food processor and blend until smooth and incorporated.
3. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
4. Cook the spaghetti to al dente. Drain, reserving 1 1/2 cups cooking water.
5. Toss the spaghetti with the broccoli pesto, adding cooking water as needed until it reaches desired consistency.
6. Pass finely grated parmesan cheese and black pepper to garnish.

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The night before a big day of travel, my S.S. and I gorged on a big beautiful margarita pizza. We ordered a salad to make up for it, with little intention of enjoying it.

While the pizza was tremendous, the salad stole the show. Big hunks of plum tomatoes were tossed with avocado and hearts of palm. The dressing was simple (lemon, olive oil, and maybe oregano?).

Fast-forward to life after vacation: I am still thinking about that salad. I need that salad. Here we go:

4 vine-ripe tomatoes, large dice
2 avocados, sliced or medium dice
artichoke hearts, halved or quartered (of course, my local grocery store doesn’t stock hearts of palm; this was a good substitute)
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
juice of 1 lemon
2 Tbsp olive oil
kosher salt and black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and gently toss. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Note: not great the next day (avocado browning isn’t as big of a problem as the avocado breaking down and muddling the flavors). Eat same day.

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Thank you, Il Porto, for making our night–and for the inspiration!

It’s Spring, and I must accept it. I, the minority, am annoyed with the lack of the white stuff this winter, and the reality that I’ll have to let another year pass before I’ll be able to cruise down a mountain tumble down a hill on my snowboard on my butt.

To comfort my sorrows, I whipped up a big batch of arugula pesto. And it worked. I mean, who could complain while eating something that looks like this?:

In a food processor, combine arugula, Parmesan cheese, extra-virgin olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, pine nuts, and S & P, using water to thin it out to the desired consistency. Since only a small amount of arugula will fit in the food processor at a time, continue to add more arugula in batches, adjusting the other ingredients and seasoning to your taste.

I tossed the pesto with bow tie pasta, sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts, and a bit more grated Parmesan cheese on top.

And though I’m still not completely ready to start a new season, I look forward to the pesto.

Sometimes, citrus is not optional–it’s mandatory. Such is the case with this dessert (or hell–why can’t it be breakfast, too?).

You could make your own ricotta, but let’s tackle that at another time. Instead, purchase whole or part-skim ricotta and combine with sugar, to taste. Stir in lemon zest and lemon juice. Top with blackberries.

Despite its simplicity, lemon ricotta with blackberries is delightfully refreshing on a warm evening.

When I want salad but am in no mood to chop CHOP chop CHOP chop a thousand different vegetables, I choose a simple combination of arugula and endive. The two lettuces alone provide flavor, color, and texture contrasts–the three things a salad yearns for.

Halve the endive lengthwise and then slice into little half moons. Toss with arugula and a simple dressing of lemon juice, extra-virgin olive oil, mustard, and S & P.

That’s it. Stop reading.