Salute to Summer Eating

“Summer lovin’ had me a blast, summer lovin’ happened so fast.”  Let that sink in for a minute my Grease loving fans!  Yes, this is the party that happens in my mind on a daily!  Seriously, though, I get downright giddy when summer rolls around.  Not just because I love the sun on my bronzed skin, or the waves crashing on the shore, while I am in my happy place, (Asbury Park) or a cold drink in my hand, but because I can make any mundane meal for my family spectacular, with just the addition of some fresh herbs and the abundance of farm fresh fruits and veggies.

As an aspiring Chef, I truly believe in the farm to table philosophy, not as some trendy millennial spur of the moment thing, but because I have been serving farm stand fruits and veggies to my children since they were old enough to have my homemade baby food! Yes I made my own baby food for my precious angels, using organic farm fresh market goodies from the farm co-ops that sell their wares in Highland Park, every Friday from June until October, healthy, fresh veggies, fruits, honey, and a pepperoni bread to die for!  So it’s not some hipster fad for me, it is a way of life that I am proud to have embraced for the health and well-being of my family.  So not only am I happy to share a baby food recipe  with you which was the first thing I made as a Mom for my daughter.  Which, by the way, for many of my Facebook friends who are becoming Grandparents as of late, can easily make for your grandbabies. Easy peasy I promise! I am equally as pleased to share some summer tips and dishes that I hope your family will enjoy eating as much as mine.

So I urge you to open a nice bottle of wine, set a super sexy, outdoor table, with an abundance of candles, a few Citronella, to keep the critters away, some fresh flowers, soft music, send the kids out to a movie, put on a sexy outfit, do up your hair and makeup, get your guy to dress nice and smell heavenly, as you madly seduce him, while you dine Al Fresco, under the stars. And who knows, you may even get to see a shooting star, from a horizontal position!



Susan xoxox

**  I love to shop flea markets for old glass vases, bottles, jars, old depression glass, teapots, pitchers, goblets, dishes, linens, lace, candle holders, vintage kitchen utensils, and serving vessels.  It is a cheap and wonderful way to entertain and create a beautiful home.  I never had a bridal shower, so aside from my mother’s good China, and a few serving pieces, I have amassed most of my antique finds at yard sales, flea markets, and online sites, in the 20 plus years of marriage.  I have some antiques I acquired for pennies, that are literally worth hundreds of dollars.  The point is to have fun, and try to save money when you can.  I have always loved vintage and have used these finds when I have thrown tea parties, for family get togethers, and quite dinners for two on the patio.  Be inspired to live beautifully!  xoxo




Bella's Butternut Squash Baby Food

  • Servings: quantity will vary on size and amounts fed
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A healthy and tasty way to introduce fresh veggies to your precious angel!



  • Please check with your Pediatrician about when to start introducing fruits, and veggies to your child.  Each Pediatrician has a different time frame.  My Bella (Danielle) was close to 5 months old when I served this to her.   Bella is beautiful in Italian and is what I call my Danielle! xo
  • Credit: Mangieri-Maurath


  • 1 large butternut squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp. of unsweetened applesauce



  1. Set oven temperature to 400 degrees.
  2. Drizzle oil on to a large sheet pan, place butternut squash face down on oiled sheet pan, skin side up.
  3. Roast for 45 min. or until soft and caramelized  Let cool slightly.
  4. Scoop out pulp into a food processor or Ninja blender, sprinkle with cinnamon, add applesauce.  Make certain that ALL seeds are removed!
  5. Puree until smooth.  Strain in a metal strainer for a super smooth puree. Serve at room temperature, when cooled completely to your bundle of joy!  My children loved their butternut squash and still do to this day!  You can freeze extras in individual containers for up to 3 months tops, or store in refrigerator for up to 3 days.



herb garden
My Herb Garden-  Photo Credit: Ryan Maurath

*** Tasty tip-  For over 17 years I have had a fresh herb garden outside my backdoor in none other than a wine barrel.  I grow fresh basil, cilantro, rosemary, thyme, sage, and chives, and fresh mint which grows wild in our garden.  I use the herbs throughout the year as I preserve them far beyond fall  and well into the winter.  Basil is wonderful in pesto, on a sandwich, or a nice chiffenade over a Caprese salad of tomato and fresh mozzarella.  Thyme is wonderful in soups, roast chicken, mushroom risotto. Rosemary is perfect in focaccia, yes I make my own, sausage and peppers, chicken dishes, and I throw some in my gravy.  It is a hardy woodsy herb, so a little goes a long way! Sage is perfect for sausage and peppers, sautéed in butter over orzo with some grated Parmesan cheese.  (Side note. I also dry sage and use it in my sage cleansing rituals for spiritual balance and well-being.  I would urge you to read up on the symbolism of a good sage cleansing).  Cilantro is perfect in Asian dishes, I use it in my pot sticker, stir frys, as well as Mexican dishes such as fresh tomatillo salsa, and Pico de Gallo, which I absolutely love. Mint I use muddled in mojitos of course, but I also use it in iced tea, and sprinkled over lollipop lamb chops with rosemary and garlic! Yum!  Please excuse my overgrown herb garden, with all of the heat this is the second harvest in a month, if anyone needs some thyme, chives, and sage, holler!



Uncooked Tomato Sauce with Baby Spinach, Fresh Mozzarella and Angel Hair Pasta

  • Servings: 5-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

This dish is near and dear to my heart, it's one of the very first dishes I made for my husband when we moved in together, it is understated gourmet fare!

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  • Please do not think of making this dish without fresh tomatoes, which are ripe as hell, and fresh basil.  You will not yield the same results, as you will not be cooking the pasta sauce and you want the sweetness from only fresh tomatoes to round out this dish.. And for the love of God, DO NOT USE FAKE CHEESE IN THE FREAKIN’ GREEN CAN EVER!!!!
  • Credit: Mangieri-Maurath


  • 6 large diced Roma tomatoes ripe as shit, or a 1 lb. of Compari tomatoes. I used a mix of heirloom grape tomatoes for sweetness as they were plentiful at the farmer’s market Friday!
  • 3 cloves of finely minced garlic
  • 3 Tbsp. of chopped fresh Italian Leaf parsley
  • Bunch of fresh basil
  • 2 large handfuls of baby spinach, tossed in at the last-minute
  • 3 large slices of fresh mozzarella thrown in at the last-minute (cubed)
  • 1 lb. of Angel Hair Pasta, I use Barillo
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
  • Sprinkle of pepperoncini (red pepper flakes)
  • 1 tsp. of sugar
  • 1 cup of reserved pasta water to make a sauce


* Never, ever refrigerate your tomatoes! They will lose their flavor and be tasteless. I keep mine in a bowl on the counter at all times.  Tomatoes are a great source of Lycopene which is an antioxidant that has been shown to be beneficial for cardio vascular health, as well as healthy skin, further, men listen up, has shown to be beneficial to prostate health.  Basil can be kept in a tall glass with a tiny bit of water for the roots, in the fridge, which is how I store it, as it has a tendency to spoil rather quickly if you do not preserve it and use it rather quickly.  Buy pasta when it is on sale and stock up. I prefer Barilla over Ronzoni because it has a lower starch content when cooking.   You can actually see the difference when you cook them side by side, what remains in the pasta water is more concentrated in the Ronzoni as it is in the Barilla. Trust me I have run that experiment to show my Dad who did not believe me, he was hooked on Ronzoni,  none the less, but to each his own.  Think different shapes and sizes of pasta for quick meals, summer pasta salads, soups, etc.


  1. Dice tomatoes, medium dice. I like to leave the tomato seeds in for flavor, some Chefs like to seed the tomatoes because it is taught that seeds are bitter, I prefer them in, as my grandmother never seeded her tomatoes and I actually prefer the freshness, but to each his own.  Add to bowl.
  2. Mince garlic and add to tomatoes, along with salt, pepper, and pepper flakes. and tsp. of sugar.  Add fresh basil, fresh parsley,  and mix to meld flavors.  I let this sit out for several hours at room temperature to let tomatoes release their flavors.
  3. Bring a large pot to a boil, salt generously and cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain pasta, reserving 1 to 1 1/2 cups of liquid from the pasta for the uncooked sauce.  Add the pasta, spinach, and mozzarella cheese,  and reserved pasta liquid to the tomato mixture and serve immediately, topped with freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese, and some nice toasted garlic crostini.

**  A great way to use up a leftover loaf of french or Italian bread is to make crostini.  Which is just toasted bread.  I slice the bread in thin slices place them on a sheet pan, drizzle with oil, sprinkle with Kosher salt and cracked black pepper and toast for 10 min, or so in a 400 degree oven, until lightly toasted.  When I remove them from the oven, I take a large garlic clove and take a the top off of it,  then rub it over the top of all of the crostini while it is just out of the oven.  It is the perfect light hint of garlic, without overkill!  I use the crositini in place of garlic bread, topped with olive tapanade, tomato bruschetta, or as an accompaniment for dips, and even for little canapes with some herbed cream cheese, and cucumbers with smoked salmon! Yum!



Crazy Crab, Avocado and Mango Stacks

  • Servings: 4-
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

This is truly a party on a plate! Such a light summer salad or appetizer that is as refreshing and healthy!

IMG_4955 (2)

  • Avocados keep much longer if you store ripened, in the crisper draw of your refrigerator. Which is what I do if I won’t be using them when I buy them.  I buy them close to ripe, if I will not be using immediately, or soft with some give if I plan on using them in one day! Avocados are a great source of Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and potassium as well as healthy monounsaturated fat. They are high in fat yes, but the good fat and are heart healthy!
  • Credit: Mangieri-Maurath


  • 2 Ripe Haas avocados diced, with freshly squeezed lime juice over the top
  •  2 1/2 tbsp. of red onion diced finely
  • 2 mangos ripe and diced finely
  • half of a jalapeno seeded
  • 1/4 cup of mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp. of capers unrinsed
  • 1 tsp. of Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. of Worcestershire sauce
  • juice of one lemon
  • garlic clove minced
  • 1/2 tsp. of Saracha
  • 1/2 tsp. of anchovy paste
  • 3/4 tsp. of Old bay seasoning
  • The zest of one lime and juice of one lime half for the avocados and half for the mango mixture
  • Bunch of cilantro chopped
  • 10 oz. of fresh lump crab meat picked over for shells and small membrane
  • Spring mix salad blend
  • freshly made lemon vinaigrette (to make a quick vinaigrette I take the juice of one lemon in a bowl, a tsp. a tbsp. of minced shallots,  Dijon Mustard, and drizzle in olive oil as I whisk vigorously to emulsify, and season with salt and pepper.
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste



  1. Combine the mayonnaise, lemon juice, Old Bay, chili sauce, garlic, Worcestershire, mustard, capers, anchovy paste, salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside. Chef’s note:* If you are grossed out by anchovy paste you can omit it, but in case you didn’t know, if you ever had classic caesar salad when you dined out, you had anchovies in your dressing! Just sayin’!
  2. In a medium bowl combine mango, lime zest, lime juice, jalapeno, red onion, and cilantro. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  3. Take a large food mold or empty clean soup can opened on both ends, and place on a serving  plate.  Begin by layering the avocado at the bottom of the mold, pushing down to form, next layer the mango salsa mixture, again pressing down to layer and form in mold, combine the crab with the mayonnaise mixture, combine, then add to the top of the mango mixture.  Again, pressing down to firmly create the form.
  4. In a salad mixing bowl mix the salad with a light drizzling of the vinaigrette, tossing in the bowl to combine.  I like to unmold at this time, and gently lay some salad decoratively on top of the unmolded layered salad. Serve immediately.  This is a meal in itself as it has your protein, carbs, and healthy fats! Devour!



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