Spicy, No Onions, & Italian? Challenge Accepted!

I owed someone a favor and wanted to cook that person dinner. The only requirements were that it would be spicy and/or Italian, and not include onions.

Needless to say, I was stumped. I knew that I also had to limit cheese, so I went to Google…and found Real Simple’s recipe for Cauliflower Penne Puttanesca.

Granted, I changed a few things about the recipe, but here’s what I ended up with 🙂

Recipe Cauliflower Penne Puttanesca


  • 3/4 lbs Penne pasta, cooked by package directions
  • 3-ish tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 lb. cauliflower, cored and chopped into small florets
  • Salt & Pepper, to season
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • One 28 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes (DO NOT DRAIN!)
  • 1/3 cup pitted kalamata (calamata) olives, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon fresh flat-leave parsley, chopped
  • Grated Parmesan cheese for serving

– While pasta is cooking, head up olive oil over medium high heat. Add the cauliflower, season with salt and pepper, and cook 5-6 minutes (tossing occasionally until slightly browned).

– Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for one minute.

– Add the tomatoes and their juices, the olives, and the capers. Cook approximately 10 minutes, breaking up the tomatoes and stirring every couple of minutes.

– Toss the pasta with the sauce and then gently mix in the parsley. Serve with grated Parmesan if desired.

Thirsty Thursday: Tara’s Pumpkin Pie Martini

I’ve actually been cooking a lot lately. It’s something I did several times a week for many many years, but the past couple of years I slacked off a lot. There are a lot of reasons behind that (not the least of which was depression), and I’m still working at really getting back into the cooking groove.

Of course cooking only rarely meshes with the “geeky” side of my life, but it is something I love doing. I’m probably better at cooking than I am at mixology, but I still have fun making new drinks once in a while…so I figured I might as well make a Thirsty Thursday post!

I can’t imagine that I’ll be able to keep up with Thirsty Thursday every week, but I’m going to do my best to post one of these…let’s say at least every month?

As it’s October, I figured it was the perfect time to bring up one of my very own creations…my personal version of a Pumpkin Pie Martini 🙂

Tara's Pumpkin Pie Martini

I stumbled upon Fulton’s Pumpkin Pie Liqueur many years ago, and I even though I’m not big on pumpkin SPICE, I thought that I could probably make something generally-pumpkin-PIE flavored work. Of course I brought it home and realized that most recipes called for Baileys and other liquors/liqueurs that I simply didn’t have. So I made up my own recipe and thankfully it was delicious!

Tara’s Pumpkin Pie Martini

  • 1 (slightly overflowing) shot Fulton’s Pumpkin Pie Liqueur
  • Approx. 2/3 shot Pinnacle Whipped Cream Vodka
  • 1 shot regular Vodka
  • 1 shot half and half

– Put some ice in a shaker, add all ingredients, shake well and pour in a Martini glass. Drink immediately and then make another one and drink that too. Repeat. (haha)

Recipe: Chicken Broccoli Ring

This recipe may not be super healthy, and yeah, it’s a bit of a pain to put together. You definitely won’t see some fancy Buzzfeed-style videos of me making something like this (or really anything) with seemingly no effort at all.

But this meal is delicious, and can be easily halved if you want to make a smaller portion. It can also be sliced into neat little triangle appetizers…but if you can make it and eat less than three sections I applaud you 😉

Chicken Broccoli Ring recipe


  • Two 8-oz packages of Pillsbury crescent rolls
  • 2 cups boiled chicken breasts, pulled/chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped fresh broccoli florets
  • 2/3 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2/3 cup shredded Monterey Jack or Colby Jack cheese
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons Miracle Whip
  • 2 teaspoons dried dill weed
  • 1 tsp minced garlic (about 2 cloves…a little more is never too much!)
  • 1/4 tsp salt

– Preheat oven to 375 degrees
– Place chicken breasts in large pot with room temperature water; set burner at high and let sit/boil for 20 minutes before pulling/chopping
– Combine chicken, chopped broccoli, cheese, diced red bell pepper, mayo/Miracle Whip, dill weed, garlic, and salt in a large bowl; mix well.
– Separate the crescent rolls into triangles and arrange them, slightly overlapping, in a circle on a baking stone, with the wide ends approximately 2 inches from the edges of the stone. The points will extend off the edges!
– Scoop the filling evenly over the dough in a continuous circle.
– Bring the points of the triangle up over the filling and tuck under the dough at the center to form a ring.
– Bake 25-30 minutes (until deep golden brown).