Our Mother’s Day BBQ | Inspiration for Your Next BBQ

During are recent whirlwind trip to the US fitting in visits with my family, my husband’s, celebrating our friends tying the knot, and visiting a few friends, we planned in dinners at our favorite places and even a well-timed mother’s day BBQ. Excited for summer ingredients in the US and the opportunity to prepare meals with them, I set out to devise a menu with my sister that would showcase fresh ingredients we love and some of our mom’s favorites.

Lemon and Bay Leaf Shrimp Skewers on the grill

Need inspiration for your next summer BBQ? Here’s what we planned (and the links to the recipes we used, too!)…

  • Corn, tomato, mozzarella, and basil salad
  • Grilled beef in a red wine marinade
  • Lemon and Bay Leaf Shrimp Skewers
  • Grilled veggies (squash, onions, peppers, and potatoes)
  • Lemon Meringue Pie – *our mom’s favorite…store-bought because we were short on prep time

Corn, Tomato, Mozzarella, Basil Salad

Knowing how we love to go overboard on menu options and that we are always overly excited to try new recipes, we restrained ourselves well this time! We still had left overs, but one of the best parts of a get together is having the leftovers for the next day when you are craving another helping and tired from all the work and clean-up from the day before.

Grilled Veggies

Be on the lookout for more great BBQ recipes to come. You know we love grilling and entertaining!


Mama Cheryl’s Meatball Sub

Years ago, we used to spend the weekends with our friends at their parents’ house lounging at the pool, relaxing in the hot tub, and joking around with them. Even better were the Italian dishes Mama Cheryl made for us and her meatball subs were no exception. They were consumed for dinner and as we drank the night away. She always made enough to feed a village and had them ready to go at a moment’s notice. My husband and I loved them so much that I learned her technique and have continued to make them that way ever since.

After making meatballs for New Year’s, we realized how long it had been since either of us had eaten a meatball sub and instantly craved Mama Cheryl’s meatball subs. So, here we are…

Continue reading “Mama Cheryl’s Meatball Sub”

Italian Meatballs

As I sit here writing this post listening to my husband’s sneeze attack, I hear the childhood song ringing in my head…on top of spaghetti, all covered in cheese, I lost my poor meatball when somebody sneezed! Can’t tell you the last time I even thought of that song. Of course, when I made these for our New Year’s Eve party, we didn’t lose a single one to anyone’s sneezes.

Meatballs 3

Often times, I make things for our get togethers or for dinner and they are just okay, not blog worthy or even worth making again…but then there are those that get cleared off the plate faster than the time it took to plate the food. These meatballs are an example of the later so naturally I want to share with all of you as well so you too can enjoy them or share them with your friends.

Serve these with toothpicks as an appetizer, on hoagie rolls topped with mozzarella cheese for a delicious meatball sub, or on top of a bowl of spaghetti…just don’t let anyone sneeze around it!

Meatballs - Pinterest

Italian Meatballs



  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 red onion, finely diced
  • 2-14.5 ounce cans of diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper


  • 2 cups bread, crust removed and chopped into 1/4 inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1/2 kilo or 1 pound of ground beef
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2/3 cup of grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper



  • In a shallow, wide skillet pan, heat oil over medium heat, add garlic and onion and cook until softened. Add tomatoes, vinegar, and sugar. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 3-5 minutes.
  • Transfer to a blender and puree the ingredients.
  • Return to stove and add remaining ingredients. Simmer on low heat while you make the meatballs.


  • In a small mixing bowl, add bread cubes and milk. Let it sit until the bread has absorbed all the milk.
  • Meanwhile, in the bowl of a standing mixer add beef, eggs, cheese, garlic, herbs, salt and pepper. Mix using the dough attachment. Add bread cubes and continue mixing until it is combined for about 5-7 minutes.
  • Wet your hands or apply olive oil to keep the meatballs from sticking as you roll. Roll meatballs into 1 inch balls. Gently put into pan with sauce simmering.
  • Once all meatballs are in the pan, cook for about 12 minutes or until cooked through.

Meatballs - Appetizer


Roasted Vegetables and Farro Salad

To debut farro to my husband, I knew I had to came up with a great recipe that would blow him away. This recipe did the trick; he is sold! I love being able to make a stockpile of farro that I can repurpose in multiple recipes throughout the week. It’s versatility is great and it’s a perfect alternative side to couscous or rice. This recipe is not only husband-approved but also a unique potluck dish. For a complete dinner, try pairing it with my Habanero & Green Pepper Crusted Tilapia.

Roasted Vegetables and Farro Salad


  • Mixing bowls
  • Baking sheet
  • Aluminum foil
  • Pam


  • 1 can (15.25 oz) of corn
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro
  • 1 cup kale, chopped
  • 1-2 cups of cooked farro


  • Pre-heat oven to 450º.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, combine olive oil, red wine vinegar, lime juice, salt, and pepper. Add corn, peppers, and onion. Toss to coat. Spread out on a baking sheet sprayed with Pam. Keep any remaining dressing to add to the farro later.
  • Bake for 15 minutes or until the vegetables start to brown.
  • In a large bowl, mix together the cooked farro, kale, cilantro, and roasted vegetables. Drizzle the remaining dressing from earlier or try a little bit of dijon vinaigrette and mix again.
  • Transfer to a serving dish and eat immediately or refrigerate for later.

Roasted Vegetable and Farro Salad 2

{A Hint of Ginger | Cooking Farro}: Check out my post on a how-to of cooking farro.

Habanero & Green Pepper Crusted Tilapia

Several months ago, we hosted our first BBQ since arriving in Rwanda for two friends of ours and their two boys. Looking through our cookbooks for inspiration on what to cook, we found a Weber recipe for a California Burger with Avocado Mayo. Since several of the ingredients weren’t available here, I adjusted the recipe and made it my own using habanero peppers instead of poblano peppers. For one of our friends who doesn’t eat meat but enjoys fish, I crafted up similar ingredients to flavor a piece of tilapia for her. It was such a hit that my husband and I have been making it ever since both on the grill and pan-fried. For someone who doesn’t like spice, I am finding more and more ways to use habaneros in recipes to share with my friends who love spicy food. This fish really takes the flavor without being overwhelmingly hot so it is great for everyone and can be adjusted if you want a hotter or a more mild version.

Habanero & Green Pepper Crust

Habanero & Green Pepper Crusted Tilapia


  • Small mixing bowl
  • Paper towels
  • Large skillet


  • 2 tilapia fillets
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon of finely chopped habanero
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped green pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cilantro
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Habanero & Green Pepper Crusted Tilapia Over Farro Salad


  • In a small mixing bowl, combine olive oil, lime juice, habanero, green pepper, cilantro, and salt and pepper.
  • Pat dry the tilapia filets and then brush on the habanero mixture. Make sure ingredients are evenly spread across the fish.
  • In a large skillet, heat butter and olive oil over medium heat. Once hot, add fish to the skillet. Cook for 4-5 minutes each side until the fish flakes apart.

{A Hint of Ginger: Grilling option}: This recipe also cooks very well on the grill. To prevent the fish from sticking to the grates, lay the fish on aluminum foil sprayed with Pam.

Chicken Salad

During a visit back to the U.S. in August, I got to spend the day with a friend of mine and meet her son for the first time. As we caught up, we enjoyed a lunch of chicken salad and chips. I realized somehow I had never tried chicken salad before, but I loved this recipe and realized it was something that I could easily make and have on hand for quick lunches. Last weekend, we dusted off our bikes and went for a ride around our neighborhood. Afterward, this sandwich sounded like the perfect lunch to have and it was. The best thing is that in making one batch, you have additional servings ready for another day of the week. This is one of those recipes that you can really add whatever you want into it or switch out ingredients; apples, walnuts, etc.

Chicken Salad


  • 2 mixing bowls, small and medium
  • Spoon


  • 2 tablespoons of mayo
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 1 can of chicken, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup of dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup of celery, chopped
  • 1/4 cup of slivered almonds
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • In a small mixing bowl, mix mayo and honey together.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, combine the chicken, cranberries, celery, and almonds. Add the mayo/honey mixture a little time until coated as desired.
  • Enjoy!

Chicken Salad Sandwich

Zoodles with Sautéed Vegetables | A Twist on Pasta

A few months ago, I found a great deal on a spiralizer & mandolin. I love collecting kitchen appliances for any use and our kitchen cabinets will prove that. And I never stop collecting or discovering what other tools I’d love to add to my kitchen. Still have yet to purchase a waffle maker though, despite my love for Belgian waffles and the nostalgia from my childhood.

Zoodles with Sautéed Vegetables

I have a husband who is not a fan of “fake” foods like mashed cauliflower instead of potatoes or spaghetti squash over pasta. Myself, I’ve been excited to try making zoodles, zucchini noodles. When I was younger, my mom and I ventured to make spaghetti squash to try out a healthier alternative. With my husband away last weekend, I thought it would have the perfect chance to try using my spiralizer to make zucchini noodles. Especially with our weight lose challenge I posted previously, I thought these noodles might be a great alternative and help me reach my goals. Of course, the trick is to ensure you don’t fill the healthy version with lots of unhealthy additives to make it tasty…i.e. lots of butter and mayo in mashed cauliflower making it no longer healthy.

Zoodles on a Fork


  • Spiralizer
  • Cutting board and knife
  • Baking sheet
  • Parchment paper
  • Skillet


  • 1 really large zucchini or 3 medium size
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 small yellow squash, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 4-5 roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 green pepper, or other colors if you choose, chopped
  • 1 small white onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of fresh basil, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar, more if desired
  • Salt & pepper, to taste


  • Use the spiralizer to make zucchini noodles. With the extra zucchini, chop it into 1/2 inch pieces and sauté with the other vegetables. Spread out noodles onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake noodles at 200º for 10-12 minutes until the noodles are dry on the outside but still moist on the inside, mixing halfway through.
  • Heat olive oil in a deep skillet over medium heat. Add veggies (except tomatoes), garlic, and red wine vinegar. Sauté until the veggies are softened and start to brown. Add basil and tomatoes in the last few minutes.
  • Add noodles to a pot of boiling salted water for 3-5 minutes. Drain noodles and separate into bowls. Top with the sautéed veggies and  season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Recipe makes 2 servings of pasta. Adjust ingredients if you want to make more servings. 

{A Hint of Ginger}: Don’t fret if you don’t have a spiralizer, there are many ways you can make them yourself with tools you likely already have in your kitchen. Try a cheese grater or a julienne peeler. 


Kale Power Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette

Kale Power Salad 2

As part of our weight loss challenge, I will be sharing with my family as well as with my blog’s readers a number of healthy recipes I’ve found along the way.

This power salad is packed full of goodness and it’s even pretty to look at.

Kale Power Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette


  • 3 1/4 cup of chopped kale, stem removed
  • 3/4 cup of purple cabbage, julienned
  • 6 tablespoons green pepper, julienned
  • 6 tablespoons carrot, julienned
  • 3 tablespoons tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons peanuts, dry roasted and unsalted
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained


  • For individual take-to-work lunches, divide each ingredient in three separate containers and mix together. Refrigerate and eat within 3-4 days. Add dressing when you are ready to eat.
  • For a family meal, combine all ingredients in a bowl and drizzle dressing over top.

On a Fork - Kale Power Salad

Dijon Vinaigrette


  • 1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil


  • In a small mixing bowl, whisk together red wine vinegar, lemon juice, dijon mustard, garlic, salt, and pepper.
  • While whisking, add olive oil and continue until all ingredients are combined.
  • Cover and refrigerate between uses. Let stand for 30 minutes at room temperature before using.

For 21 day fixers out there: This recipe makes 3 servings each comprised of 2 green, 1 yellow, 1/2 blue, and 1 orange container. Making up this recipe at the beginning of the week gives you three days worth of lunches that are ready to grab and go!

Bring Your Lunch to Work - Kale Power Salad

Crockpot Pumpkin Soup

Crockpot Pumpkin Soup 3

With the plethora of pumpkins available year-round here and missing the taste of Panera’s Autumn Squash soup that I got hooked on last fall, I couldn’t resist finding a way to make my own version with the ingredients available here. Of course, Sundays are best when they are lazy and this last Sunday was no different using my crockpot to slowly soften the pumpkin, reducing the amount of hands-on time I had to devote to this dish. Whether you need one last soup before the warmth of spring and summer or you want a taste of fall, try out this pumpkin soup next weekend and ENJOY!Crockpot Pumpkin Soup - Ingredients


  • Crockpot
  • Knife and cutting board
  • Measuring cup and spoons
  • Microplane grater


  • 2 pounds of fresh pumpkin (peeled, seeded, and chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 5 cups of chicken stock
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 medium apple (peeled, seeded, and chopped)
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • Dash of nutmeg
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon of fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 cup milk


  • Add pumpkin and butter to crockpot over the high setting. Once butter has melted, stir to coat pumpkin with butter and then cook for 1 hour on high.
  • Then, add chicken stock, onion, apple, sugar, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger. Stir to combine and cook for another 4-5 hours on high.
  • Transfer to a blender or use an immersion blender to puree the ingredients into soup. Add milk and then blend again to combine.
  • Serve with an autumn salad and enjoy!

{A Hint of Ginger | Freezing Options}: As this recipe makes a large quantity of soup, you may choose to freeze some for a later time. If you do, omit the milk for the portion you freeze. Add the milk when you defrost the soup.

{A Hint of Ginger | Toppings}: While chopping up the pumpkin, keep some of the seeds to roast and top the soup with before serving.

Crockpot Pumpkin Soup

Basil and Spinach Pesto | For Now or Later

Basil and Spinach Pesto  Freeze for Later

Since we arrived in Rwanda, I have been dying to make pesto from scratch to have on hand for pasta. With all the basil you get at once from the market, I thought this would be a perfect way to use it all before it goes bad. I splurged for pine nuts at the local supermarket full of excitement to make pesto…only to remember when I got home that our food processor was still making its way to us in our household effects shipment. So, several weeks later, my excitement has only increased and my desire to make my own pesto has finally been satisfied!

After several days straight of unpacking following the arrival of our stuff, it was a wanted and necessary break to spend time in the kitchen creating something delicious to share with you all. It was just what I needed at the end of a long day trying to organize and decorate our home in Africa. A coaster I unpacked today accurately captured how I felt by the end of the day…my mood ring indicates Chardonnay! So with a glass of wine and my food processor, I blended up this bright sauce for a fresh tortellini dinner.

My mood ring indicates chardonnay


  • Knife and cutting board
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Small skillet pan
  • Food processor
  • Rubber spatula


  • 2 cups spinach leaves
  • 1 cup basil
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • ½ cup olive oil, divided


  • Heat skillet over medium heat and then add pine nuts. Toast nuts until they are just golden. Move frequently to prevent burning.
  • Add spinach, basil, toasted pine nuts, garlic, lemon juice, black pepper, salt, red pepper flakes, and parmesan cheese to a food processor. Blend until all the ingredients start to combine. While the mixer is still on, add ¼ cup of olive oil at a time until blended well. Scrape the sides to make sure it all mixes together.
  • Use immediately or freeze in ice cube trays for later use.

{A Hint of Ginger | Garnish}: For tonight’s dinner, I added the basil and spinach pesto to a bowl of four cheese tortellini and topped with zucchini ribbons.

 To make the ribbons for yours as well:

  • Heat a small skillet over medium heat and add ½ tablespoon of olive oil to the pan. Once hot, add zucchini ribbons, a dash of red wine vinegar, squeeze a little lemon juice left from making the pesto, and a pinch of both salt and pepper. Sauté for just a couple minutes until your ribbons are warmed. Add to your tortellini and sprinkle with more parmesan cheese. Bon Appétit!Tortellini with Basil and Spinach Pesto