Recipe hero
Ah, summer… a time of traveling, tanning, and, if you reside in a touristy area, hosting. As a New Yorker, with the season comes a plethora of unexpected guests, eager to sightsee and take in all the Big Apple has to offer.


Here’s a fun fact: doing touristy activities makes people hungry. Like, never eaten a full meal hungry. Sure, there are several staple dishes to try in each destination, but after a long day, there’s nothing quite like a home cooked meal. So, never knowing when someone will be in town until the last minute (my friends aren’t the best planners), I’ve curated my top 5 easy to make, summertime recipes. My tool-belt, if you will.

PENNE ALLA VODKAPenne alla vodkaIngredients:
1 28 oz. can crushed San Marzano tomatoes (really, any will work, but San Marzano’s are the best – just a bit pricier)
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 medium to large onion, chopped
3 Tablespoons butter (UNsalted)
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Crushed red pepper flakes
Garlic powder
Fresh parsley (dried will work but fresh is SO much better) – if using fresh, chop half of a bunch up
½ cup Vodka
½ cup heavy cream
1 pound pasta

Melt the butter in a pot; add olive oil on medium heat.
When the pot is hot, add the onions, garlic, a big sprinkle of garlic powder, as much red pepper as you want, either the dried or fresh parsley (if you’re using the fresh, wait until you add the tomatoes to put in and set some aside for garnish at the end) and salt; mix together.
After the onions are looking translucent (about 7 or 8 minutes), add the tomatoes, vodka and fresh parsley; mix. Watch it until it starts to slowly boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover and let simmer.
Make the pasta in SALTED water.
Once the pasta goes in, add the heavy cream to the sauce and let simmer until the pasta is ready.
Garnish with chopped up fresh parsley.

baked chicken thighs
1 pound chicken thighs
2 cloves garlic, smashed
½ lemon
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped
2 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped
½ teaspoon garlic powder
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Do your prep work –
   Chop rosemary;
   Chop thyme;
   Smash garlic;
   Defat the chicken – here’s how:
   Put one chicken piece at a time on the cutting board;
   Make sure the skin of the chicken tops the whole thigh;
   Any extra skin or fat, cut off;
Put the chicken in a big ziplock bag.
Add the rosemary, thyme, garlic, garlic powder, salt and pepper, and juice of the lemon. Then add the olive oil.
Close up the bag and toss well to make sure each thigh is well coated with the mixture.
Place all the thighs, so they aren’t touching, on an aluminum foiled cookie sheet (makes cleaning WAY easier), SKIN SIDE UP.
Put in the oven for an hour, turning every twenty minutes.
*NOTE: If the chicken is starting to stick on the pan, just add a tiny bit of oil.

watermelon feta salad
½ watermelon, cut up into chunks
½ pound feta (just get a carton of crumbled feta)
10 fresh mint leaves
½ lemon

Place the watermelon on a serving platter.
Add as much feta as you want, like scattered around.
Add chopped mint on top.
Add a pinch of salt and pepper.
Add the juice of a half of a lemon.

spaghetti with garlic and oil
1 box spaghetti
6 cloves garlic, sliced thinly lengthwise
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 lemon
1 Tablespoon Italian seasoned bread crumbs
Dried red pepper flakes
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Bring a large pot of HEAVILY SALTED water to a boil; add the spaghetti and cook according to the box’s instructions.
Right after the pasta goes in, heat up the oil in a separate saucepot.
Add the garlic, red pepper flakes and salt and sauté until the garlic is just beginning to become golden; turn off the heat.
Once the pasta is done, add it to the saucepan.
Add the bread crumbs and the juice of a lemon; toss.
Sprinkle parsley on top.

chocolate mousse raspberries
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ounces semisweet baking chocolate, chopped
3 eggs, separated
¼ cup sugar
½ cup heavy cream
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Carton of raspberries

Place an inch of water into a small saucepan; heat on medium low.
Place a metal bowl on top of the saucepan; add the chocolate and butter; melt and remove from heat. Beat chocolate with a wooden spoon.
Beat egg yolks into the chocolate. Place bowl in the fridge.
Beat the egg whites and half the sugar in a Kitchen Aid until they hold stiff peaks but aren’t dry. It could take a while. Set aside.
Beat the cream with the rest of the sugar and vanilla; beat until it holds soft peaks.
Stir a couple spoonfulls of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it up; fold the rest of the whites into the chocolate, carefully as to not break the eggs.
Fold the cream into the chocolate mixture; chill in the fridge.
When ready to serve, take the mousse out of the fridge. Get the prettiest glasses you have and place a bit into the bottom of the glass.
Add a layer of raspberries to the glass, then add more mousse; repeat the process until the glass is filled.
Make the last layer raspberries so it looks pretty!

Happy hosting!