Arugula Walnut Pesto Pasta w/ Shrimp

delicious plate of arugula walnut pesto pasta with shrimp | jessicagavin.com

Do you ever reminisce about what made you fall in love with your soul mate? Deep question huh? For my husband Jason and I, our common love for Italian food was just the beginning of our romance, haha. My husband grew up around a big Italian family who would get together and prepare huge homemade suppers (think the Godfather), so he is accustomed to traditions and quality of family meals. Jason may not be the head chef in our kitchen (that’s my job), but he sure has his expectations and opinions when it comes to making Italian food just right, and isn’t shy to tell me!

My first test came when Jason’s mom gave me the most amazing kitchen gift, a pasta maker! She must have been putting me to the ultimate test, to see if I could properly feed her son! It’s a good thing that I got rolling because I got mama’s stamp of approval and Jason and I have been married for 3 years now (and together for 10)! The pasta machine has sure come in handy over the years. I usually like to make a traditional egg pasta dough, however I wanted to create a healthier whole wheat noodle to make an arugula walnut pesto pasta with shrimp recipe…. 

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Grilled Cedar Plank Salmon Fillet

cedar plank salmon recipe | jessicagavin.com

Salmon is one of my favorite seafood choices because it cooks in minutes and is packed with healthy nutrients like Omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon also takes on any flavors you choose with very little effort. At our house, we still have our lean “salmon mondays” so I wanted to think of a new recipe to put into our weekly rotation. I was really happy when Jason spent a good part of the weekend upgrading our Weber grill with some much needed replacement parts. When he returned from Home Depot he surprised me with a fun new cooking tool to play with, cedar planks! I had never tried this cooking technique before so I was excited to try a grilled cedar plank salmon fillet recipe and add a blend of aromatic herbs and spices to make the fish even more tasty…. 

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Grilled Pork Chops with Honey Mustard Glaze

grilled pork chops with honey mustard glaze | jessicagavin.com

When you’re in the mood for a healthy and lean protein, chicken can get repetitive and a little, well, blah. That’s why I like to switch it up and grill pork chops, a tender yet hearty cut which infuses flavors quite easily and cooks within minutes! A savory dry rub added to season the meat just before cooking adds a quick hint of flavor and a super simple honey mustard glaze generously added at the end of cooking locks in the juices and makes the pork even more tastier. Grilled pork chops with honey mustard glaze will certainly be your new favorite recipe. So easy you can throw into your weekly dinner rotation!… 

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New York Strip Steak with Chimichurri Sauce

Pouring Chimichurri Sauce over Steak | jessicagavin.com

In my opinion, nothing is better on the grill than a thick slice of juicy New York strip steak. The strip cut of meat has nice marbling with some chew from a tighter texture when compared to the tenderloin cut.  The strip also has a slight edge of fat on the sides which adds even more flavor to the meat. The New York strip cut has a pleasantly strong beefy flavor and pairs extremely well with freshly ground herbs, savory garlic, spices and some dried chili’s for a kick.

This New York strip steak with chimichurri sauce recipe gives you instant gratification, the sauce is blended and done within seconds and the steak is hot off the grill within minutes! The sheer size of this cut is intimidating, but so simple to prepare with just a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and generous amounts of salt and pepper before grilling. I made two strip steaks for my husband and I but we only really needed one to share, I should have invited Fred Flintstone over!

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Memphis-Style Barbecue Pork Ribs

mopping rack of spareribs | jessicagavin.com Every time I get a rib craving, I hear the Chili’s Restaurant theme song play in my head “I got my baby back, baby back ribs…”, haha. It took me a while to figure out what were my favorite type of ribs, the mammoth style beef ribs or succulent baby back spareribs (pork ribs). I was surprised to discover that St. Louis style pork spareribs are my ribs of choice after becoming addicted to them at our local Famous Dave’s Bar-B-Q restaurant.  I think what sold me was just the right meat to bone ratio and that awesome dry spice rub that adds extra flavor and punch with each bite!

I have a culinary confession to make, I’ve never cooked ribs before! I have been hesitant to make ribs at home for fear of over cooking them and also the intimidating uncertainty of which method to use. It’s easy to second guess yourself with so many cooking methods from boiling, smoking, roasting, barbequing and a combination of multiple methods. I’ve been building up my barbeque confidence this summer, so I choose to give St. Louis style pork spareribs a try. I decided to use the low and slow barbeque method then finishing the roasting in the oven. The result is the most flavorful and meaty home cooked Memphis-style barbecue pork ribs – you’ll never have to go out for over priced barbecued ribs again!… 

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Santa Maria Style Tri-Tip

Santa Maria Style Tri-Tip | jessicagavin.com

It’s barbecue season and instead of grilling the usual chicken, ribs or sausages, why not try one of the more under appreciated yet delicious cuts of meats, tri-tip! When Jason and I attended college at CalPoly, San Luis Obispo, we quickly learned that one of the culinary delights on the Central Coast of California was the famous beef tri-tip cut. Downtown San Luis Obispo has numerous restaurants that offer the seasoned hunks of meat on their menus, often thinly sliced and served on a soft french roll and drenched in BBQ sauce.

I particularly enjoyed to get my tri-tip sandwiches from Firestone Grill or during thursday night’s farmer’s market from restaurants grilling on their huge BBQ pits in the heart of downtown SLO. Since graduating and migrating South over 7 years ago, we haven’t had much opportunity to get some authentic Santa Maria style tri-tip in quite a while, with many BBQ restaurants falling short of the ones we had in San Luis Obispo, I decided to make some right at home…. 

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Sweet and Spicy Barbecue Sauce

Sweet and Spicy Barbecue Sauce | jessicagavin.com What barbecue sauce do you use? At our house the refrigerator is typically stocked with Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbecue Sauce. I typically like a thicker, sweet and tangy sauce, however I’ve been building up my hot spice tolerance (I hope that doesn’t make me go into labor!). Jason recently made some nice upgrades to our Weber barbecue grill just in time for the summer, so I’ve been grilling as much as a can.

I’ve always wanted to experiment with my own homemade barbecue sauce and I didn’t realize how easy it was! It’s really fun to play around with the balance of sweetness, acidity, thickness and spice levels. I created this sweet and spicy barbecue sauce so we can pour, slather and dip it on all of our grilled meats, drool…. 

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Super Tasty Grilled Tequila Lime Chicken

delicious tequila chicken marinade | jessicagavin.com

Very interesting things can happen when you’ve been drinking… some you remember, some you don’t. Well this drunk chicken infused in a margarita inspired marinade sure had a good time! Summer is officially less than a week away (woohoo!) and these hot summer nights I’d rather not be cooking in my sweltering kitchen! My husband certainly appreciates a yummy meal, but there are times I feel like I just did a steamy session of Bikram yoga after cooking for an hour (so not attractive). Since moving into our new house, this is the first time we had the chance to use our “gently used” Weber barbecue left behind by the previous owners. To commemorate the occasion, I decided to make a grilled tequila lime chicken with a refreshing mango salsa…. 

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Chicken Marsala with Mushrooms

chicken marsala with mushrooms recipe | jessicagavin.com

You can find chicken Marsala with mushrooms on most Italian restaurant menus and for good reason, it’s simple to make and delicious. I typically order handmade ravioli when I’m having Italian food, however I recently wanted to try something new. I was pleasantly surprised to see how quick and easy it is to make this timeless chicken Marsala dish. Not to mention, the sweet and savory Marsala mushroom sauce is simply addicting!… 

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Chicken Andouille Sausage Gumbo

chicken andouille sausage gumbo pot

New Orleans is a melting pot for extravagant culture, exuberant energy, live music and it’s incredible food! I traveled there a few years back for work and I didn’t know it at the time but when I had my first taste of delicious gumbo, I was hooked! It immediately became my favorite dish from Louisiana. While I was there I had to try the various types of gumbo from each restaurant in The Big Easy!… 

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