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red, white, and blue salad


Summer is here!  This simple recipe (not even one really?) has become my new breakfast staple, but it’s delish for any time of the day.  It would also be a perfect addition to your July 4th menu!

I love the combination of flavors in this salad.  You have the saltiness from the feta cheese, the crisp refreshment of the watermelon, the sweetness of the blueberries, the slight bite of the basil, and the richness provided by the extra-virgin olive oil.  When making simple salads, using the best extra-virgin olive oil always makes a difference.  Do you have to break the bank?  Absolutely not.  I use Colavita Premium Italian extra-virgin olive oil – runs about $14.99 or so for a 25.5-ounce bottle.  I use it for everything but you can also just reserve it for a drizzle over veggies or in homemade vinaigrettes.

I love my new breakfast-go-to meal!  It has just enough protein and healthy fats from the cheese and the olive oil and all of the antioxidants from the fruit.  It kept me going through my spin and kettlebell workout this week at Go Legs which takes a ton of energy (and burns a crazy amount of calories!). Enjoy!!  The portions are up to you – this is just a guide.





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mother’s day brunch round-up – where to go this sunday in bradenton-sarasota?


Hi everyone!!

Are you taking your mom out to brunch this weekend for Mother’s Day?  Are you wondering where to go?  Well, here is a round-up of some of the best destinations for brunch (in my humble opinion as well as popular opinion) in the Bradenton-Sarasota area.  These are in no particular order – they are all fantastic.

The Capital Grille (180 University Town Center Drive, Sarasota, FL  941-256-3647)

The Capital Grille will offer a prix-fixe brunch menu for both children and adults in addition to their full dinner menu.

For the appetizer course, guests can choose between items such as Cup of Spring Artichoke Bisque, or Bibb Stack Salad.  Guests can then select from a range of items for their main course, including Bone-In Dry Aged NY Strip with Fried Egg, Pan Seared Salmon, 8 oz. Filet Mignon, or Yhe Grille’s Lobster Frittata.

Brunch concludes with decadent dessert choices such as Classic Crème Brûlée, or Flourless Chocolate Espresso Cake.  It is also accompanied by the restaurant’s award-winning wine list of over 350 wine selections, as well as signature cocktails including a Classic Mimosa, Bellini, Grapefruit Buck or a Bloody Mary available for $7.00.

To see their menu, please click HERE.

In addition to the dinner menu being served all day, brunch will be offered from 10am-3pm for $49 per person and $15 for children.  They have provided their recipe for their decadent Seared Citrus Glazed Salmon….please scroll to the end of this post for the recipe.  Photos below are of their Lobster Quiche and Steak and Eggs.  Photos courtesy of The Capital Grille.


Enrich Bistro (5629 Manatee Avenue West, Bradenton, FL   941-792-0990)

This I can call one of the best neighborhood restaurants since I live just down the street!  Chef Rich Knowles does an amazing job with his menu and sourcing from local vendors.  Brunch is from 10:30am-2pm and you will be offered servings such as a Cubano Brunch Bowl, or a Cowboy Benedict with house-ground and hand-pattied sausage with lamb, beef, pork, and sage, poached egg, on a rosemary cheddar biscuit and topped with cilantro hollandaise and served with a side of plantain potato hash.  Oh my.  Or….go for the enRiched Shrimp N Grits which entails lightly blackened shrimp, smoked gouda bacon grits, Cortez bottarga sherry cream, heirloom tomato, and scallion.  Wow.  Photos Courtesy of EnRich Bistro.  To see his amazing brunch menu please click HERE.


Seafood Shack (4110 127th Street, Cortez, FL 941-794-1235)

While the Seafood Shack doesn’t offer a weekend brunch on a weekly basis, they definitely do for Mother’s Day!  They are hosting their 2nd annual Mother’s Day Brunch buffet from 10am-2pm overlooking impeccable views of the Gulf Coast.

Guests can expect a variety of delicious options such as a Breakfast Station featuring Eggs Benedict, House-Cured Smoked Salmon and Fresh-Baked Buttermilk Biscuits with Sausage Gravy; a Warm Entree Station with Grilled Local Fresh Catch and the Shack’s Signature Shrimp & Grits; a Steamship Carving Station and more!! Guests can also make an omelet just the way they like it by visiting the Made-to-Order Omelet Station.

In addition, there will be a selection of assorted pastries and dessert and a full bar offering Champagne Mimosas ($8),  Housemade Watermelon Sangria ($8), and the Seafood Shack’s Signature Bloody Mary ($8) as well as beer, wine, and other drinks.  A children’s menu is also provided.  And – there will also be a complimentary photo area with a professional photographer, live musical entertainment by jazz singer Sarah Combs, and a social media contest with a prize valued at $100.  Brunch is $28.95 for adults and $14.95 for children 5-12. Photos courtesy of the Seafood Shack.


O’Brick’s Irish Pub & Martini Bar | The Grill at O’Bricks (427 12th Street West, Bradenton, FL  941-896-8860)


A favorite place for locals – and everyone else!  I popped in there about three weeks ago after going to the Bradenton Farmer’s Market which is also located on Old Main Street and had their Eggs Mexicali off of their brunch menu which was outstanding!!  Their Bloody Mary’s are soooo good as well.  Other brunch offerings include Shrimp & Grits, Eggs Florentine, and The Old Main Grill – which is their version of a Croque Monsieur.  They open at 11 am.  Photos courtesy of Stacey Siegal.

Station 400 (400 N. Lemon Avenue, Sarasota, FL  941-906-1400 and 8215 Main Street, Lakewood Ranch, FL  941-907-0648)


Station 400 always receives rave reviews for their food and service.  Pictured above is their Station 400 Signature Poached Lobster, Blue Crab & Chervil Omelette with Truffle Hollandaise.  Wow, that sounds delicious!  Other eye-catching brunch offerings include Huevos Gringos (two eggs any style, chipotle chicken, black beans, pickled jalapeño, avocado, and queso fresco on crispy tortillas) and both their Italian (fresh mozzarella, marinated artichoke hearts, Kalamata olives, roasted peppers, and basil pesto) and French (melted Brie, caramelized onions, and fines herbes) omelettes.  They also offer specialty pancakes and waffles (Nutella Waffles anyone?) and cereal dishes.  And specialty mimosas!  To round out the menu, there are plenty of soups, salads, and sandwiches from which to choose.  They are open between 8 am and 3 pm.  Photo courtesy of Station 400.

Sage Biscuit Cafe (6656 Cortez Road West, Bradenton, FL  941-792-3970)

This is another favorite of locals and visitors alike.  They have a wide array of breakfast and lunch dishes, and are known for their Breakfast Skillets and their twists on traditional Eggs Benedict include combinations such as Jalapeño-Bacon & Fried Green Tomato Benedict and Spinach & Tomato.  The Sage Biscuit Cafe also offers many vegan and vegetarian options, as well as gluten-free.  For their menu, please click HERE.  They are open from 7 am to 3 pm.  Photo courtesy of Stacey Siegal

Shore Diner (465 John Ringling Boulevard, Sarasota, FL  941-296-0301)

If I’m headed to St. Armand’s Circle, this restaurant is my favorite destination.  Love their eclectic menu; love their truffle fries.  Their Sunday Brunch includes an inviting Bloody Mary bar as well as enticing menu items such as Maine Lobster Salad Benedict, Crunchy Challah French Toast, Chicken ‘n Cheddar Waffle, and even a Banana & Nutella Sandwich.  Please click HERE for their menu.  You will be very glad that you did.

I hope you enjoyed this brunch round-up of some of our wonderful restaurants.  Happy Mother’s Day to everyone!  xo

Bonus Recipe!

Seared Citrus Glazed Salmon  (from The Capital Grille)

Serves 1


Salmon Fillet                                                   8 oz

Kosher Salt                                                      1 tsp

Ground Black Pepper                                      ¼ tsp

Clarified Butter                                               2 Tbsp

White Wine                                                     2oz

Citrus Glaze                                                     3 Tbsp

Brown Butter                                                  ½ oz

Haricots Verts                                                             ½ cup

Roasted Cipollini Onions                                     2 each

Almonds, Marcona (toasted) chopped           1 Tbsp                                                                             


  1. Season the salmon fillet with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper on both sides.
  2. Place the clarified butter in a pre-heated skillet.
  3. Place the salmon fillet, flesh side down, over the butter in the skillet and sear the fish for four minutes, or, until golden brown and crisp.
  4. Place salmon skin side down in a pie pan with white wine.
  5. Brush the crisp side of the fish with one ounce of the citrus glaze and place it in a 400 degree oven.
  6. Roast the fish until cooked through, but moist (5-7 minutes depending on thickness).
  7. While the fish is roasting, sauté the green beans, almonds and Cipollini onions in a small sauté pan with half of brown butter.
  8. Place warm vegetables in the center of a hot plate, with all the green beans lined up in a row.
  9. Place the salmon on top of the vegetables.
  10. Drizzle the remaining ½ of glaze around the salmon and serve immediately.



Lemon Juice, Freshly Squeezed                            1 Cups

Honey                                                                    1 Cups

Star Anise, Whole                                                 1 each

Cracked Black Pepper                                           2 tsp

Fresh Lemon Zest                                                  1 Tbsp


  1. Combine the lemon juice, honey, star anise and cracked pepper in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce the heat and simmer for 12- 15 minutes.
  3. Remove from the heat and allow it to steep for ten minutes.
  4. While the mixture steeps, prepare the lemon zest. (Avoid the white pith under the rind as it will give your dish a bitter after-taste)
  5. Strain anise and pepper from honey lemon mixture and discard solids.
  6. Fold in zest and reserve at room temperature.




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french onion spaghetti squash


Oh this is such a delicious recipe!  If you especially love French onion soup, then this is a must-try!  The spaghetti squash is not replacing another ingredient for caloric or gluten-free reasons as it often does when exchanged for pasta, but rather adds a new textural element and a great flavor when combined with the onions, cheese, and beef broth.  And anything that can be served in a little soup crock with melted cheese bubbling over the sides just makes eating fun.  I have found all of the ones that I own at Goodwill, but Amazon has a nice set of four if you can’t find any locally.  Two of the crocks I have are apparently from that set I’ve linked to and I’m kicking myself for not picking up the additional two that day at Goodwill because all four were there!  But – I found another set of three – a different style but at least I have enough crocks to feed more than two people now lol.  And you absolutely don’t need to prepare this in a crock – a baking dish works just as great such as an 8×8 or an 11×7.

I’ve been seeing more spaghetti squash available in the supermarket on the smaller side and have been buying two instead of one big one which are easier (and safer) to cut into halves if you choose to cut them before baking and quicker to bake in the oven.  I kept these guys whole – just poked a few holes in them with a knife.  And the crispy onions topping?  You can find at most gourmet markets including The Fresh Market but there are other brands as well at your local supermarket.




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admin - Thank you Michelle!! It’s really, really good!

Michelle | The Secret Ingredient Is - I love the use of spaghetti squash in this, so creative! It looks delicious!

shiitake broth with macaroni and spinach


It’s January in Florida which means temperatures can be in the 50’s or 70’s….and lately for us it’s been one brief cold snap after another which is a very good reason to make soup!  This Shiitake Broth with Macaroni and Spinach is warming and comforting and offers a nice kick from the ginger and red pepper flakes.  Shiitakes are definitely my favorite among the mushroom varieties and since the stems are inedible, I thought why not make use of the entire mushroom by making a broth with the stems instead of merely tossing them out?  You can remove the stems ahead of time to make the broth if you wish – the broth will keep in the fridge for a couple of days.  You can also make this recipe with just regular chicken broth if you are short on time.





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gifts from your kitchen – flavored salts


It’s been a while since I got crafty in the kitchen to prepare gifts of the food variety kind – but I absolutely had to make good use of the salt that my son brought back from the Dominican Republic on a school trip last May.  This salt comes directly from the salt flats and unlike the processed kind that we’re used to, it holds a lot of moisture and is pretty wet to the touch.  While teaching young elementary children in Monte Cristi, our kids took a break and visited one of the salt flats and mines which is definitely something quite out of the ordinary…….



Since I used a combination of the salt from the Dominican Republic along with kosher salt, I had to dry out the Dominican Republic salt by using both an oven method (spread on a baking sheet and bake at 225°F for about an hour) and also drying it out in a skillet over low heat for about 15 minutes.  It was a little bit of a process, but with the origin of the salt being the “story” behind this gift from my son it was definitely worthwhile.  And – the skillet method seemed to work a little better and faster just in case you ever find that you are the recipient of salt directly from the salt flats.

The beauty of making flavored salts yourself is that there’s no end to the combinations you can create.  Besides using dried spices and herbs from your pantry, try zesting citrus and letting the zest sit out on parchment paper for a day or two to dry out – it makes a great addition to the salt.  I love using Meyer lemons and combined with dried fresh rosemary, it makes a wonderful dry rub for a pork roast.

If you’re looking for some other ideas for flavored salts in addition to the ones below, please check out this link to my friend Dara at Cookin Canuk or this December 2015 link to the Food Network Magazine’s section on 50 Gift Jars.  All make great gifts and you can find jars at any local kitchen store or stores such as Marshall’s, Home Goods, and Hobby Lobby.  Dress them up with a pretty ribbon or strands of raffia and attach a label with the salt’s name and suggested uses in recipes.  Happy Holidays!



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