“Strawberry swisha sweets with my aston flying, bumping, Slim Dunkin trying to live this life of mine.” – Rick Ross

Hey, everybody!  Long time, no see!

I guess I haven’t had an entry since January!  Wow, has it really been that long?  There’s just been a lot of stupid, unnecessary sh-t going on and I haven’t been able to muster up the concentration to sit down and write.  I am hoping now that this month is over everything will not be so stressful.  I swear one of the only things that really helps is that I eat healthy.  What you put inside your body affects you mentally, physically and emotionally.

I’ve also been doing my arm exercises so I don’t have any flabby flab come November 2, hahaha.  I started noticing a difference right away, I wish I took a before picture.  My arms are lookin’ gooooooooood and I’m likin’ it!  Hehe!

My best friend/matron of honor came in from SF, California last weekend and hosted the best bridal shower I could ask for last Sunday at her parents house – they have a gorgeous, historic house that is directly across the street from the George Eastman house.  She and the other bridesmaids really put a lot of thought and work into that day.  Small, intimate and delicious food.  They made my favorite drink – Gilded Rickey from (my favorite) restaurant Good Luck.  They even gave chocolate favors from Hedonist chocolates!  AAANNDD I was given a gift card to the DelMonte SpaThey really went above and beyond of what I expected.  I have the best bridesmaids and friends ever 🙂

My fiance’s Nonna passed away in May (RIP) and the house she lived in was left to Alex’s mother.  It turns out that we can live there!  Granted, the whole place needs to be remodeled but I am excited to modernize the inside of that house – it really needs some interior decorating.  The house is literally around the corner from his apartment now, I’ve already started a mini garden with beefsteak, cherry & San Marzano tomatoes, basil, chilies, bell peppers, zucchini, cucumber and a few herbs.  There are already onion, garlic, parsley, grapevines and pear trees in the backyard!  I cannot wait to move in…  I definitely have to start sprouting some seeds for a fall crop soon.

20130620-213003.jpgThe pear tree’s little cute buds!

(I’ve got to get more pictures of my garden… It’s getting huge!  So many blossoms, already have little baby peppers and tomatoes coming in.  I am so excited and can’t wait to eat everything!)

So… I started making my registry a few months ago and I keep finding more things that are just so freaking cool.  Did you know Williams-Sonoma has chicken coops for sale?!  I TOTALLY WANT CHICKENS!  Chickens are so funny.  My neighbors have 4 and sometimes they let them wander into our backyard.  They’ll come right up to you, look at you and make these funny noises…  The coops expensive though…  I put it on my registry anyway, HAHA!  I know no one is going to get it for me but hey, a girl can dream, right?  Maybe I’ll just build my own…

Personally, summer means gardening, grilling and fruit picking.  I have my plants in the ground, I’ve started grilling a long time ago, and I had my first (and second!) fruit picking of the season!


Alex and I went to Gro-Moore Farms to pick strawberries.  My parents always took me there when I was younger and it seems that they’re one of the few farms that has a consistently good crop every year AND they have 8 varieties of strawberries – we already went back again!  He’s such a slow picker (sorry, Al!) that I end up filling all the containers – it’s okay, I don’t mind.  He normally just picks and eats, hahaha, just like a little kid.  It’s cool, I still love him.  I probably act more like a child than he does…


My boyfriend likes to take candid photos of me and strawberries…


My favorite way of preparing fresh strawberries is extremely simple.  When in season, they are so freakin’ sweet no sugar needs to be added.  I love to dice them up, put ’em in a bowl and top it with a dollop of a mixture of 2 parts of part-skim ricotta and 1 part of Neufchâtel cheese Maybe a little drizzle of some aged balsamic vinegar if you’re feelin’ up to it, but it doesn’t even really need it, it’s so damn good!  Pair it with a few cinnamon sugar pita chips and you’ve got yourself a low-fat, sweet snack.


I absolutely love grilling.  There’s just something about cooking over coals and wood that makes it feel rustic.  Plus, with grilling, you can have a hot meal anywhere.  Many people think that grilling is unhealthy but depending on how you cook over the flame, it really isn’t.  Did you know that marinating your meat before grilling may reduce up to 50% of carcinogens?  My favorite ingredient to use as a base for a marinade is non-fat plain Greek yogurt.  I’ve also found that yogurt has been one of the best things for not scorching the outside of the meat.

Recently, I made some lamb kabobs and paired it with a delicious cucumber salad.  I’m not a huge fan of cucumber but if it’s in season I will eat it; just have to prepare it a tasty way.  If you can’t tell, when I cook lamb I love using Greek/Mediterranean flavors.  I feel that those types of seasonings compliment the lamb really well.

For the kabobs, look for cubed lamb chunks – or just ask the butcher to chop something up for you.  In all honesty, I can’t remember what cut of lamb I used, I just remember that I had to dice it up, and I cooked that just a few weeks ago (can you tell I’m stressed? Haha!).


These cook fast and stay nice and juicy on the inside… You don’t even need to add garlic cloves, you can just do meat – it’s so good. I mainly added the whole cloves of garlic because I like to save them and add them to dressings for other foods.

Marinated Lamb Kabobs


1 lb. lamb, cut in bite-size chunks

1/4 C. plain non-fat Greek yogurt

2 Tbs. EVOO

1/2 Tbs. fresh mint, minced

1 Tbs. dried oregano

1 Tbs. dried parsley

1 tsp. dried thyme

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. onion powder

salt & pepper to taste


  1. If you’re using wooden skewers, make sure you soak them in water for at least a half hour before grilling otherwise they will burn.
  2. Put all ingredients except the lamb in a plastic bag (or bowl) – mix well.
  3. Add the lamb and refrigerate for at least an hour.
  4. Once done marinating, put them on your skewers – separating every few pieces of meat with garlic cloves (or onion, peppers, anything you want really) removing any extra marinade.
  5. Place on a hot grill and cook for a few minutes on each side, or until desired doneness.

The lamb kabobs came out so juicy and delicious… Make sure not to overcook them otherwise the meat will get tough.  I suggest cooking it to medium-rare/medium.

Now, the salad……


The cucumber salad was equally delicious!  I found this recipe by Chef Michael Symon for a cucumber salad and wanted to jazz it up a bit more.  The combination of the two compliments each other so well.  If you’re not a huge fan of cucumber like me, this is definitely an easy recipe for you to try!

Cucumber Salad


2 English cucumbers, washed

1 shallot

1 small garlic clove

2 lemons, zested

juice of 1 lemon

2 Tbs. fresh oregano, minced

1 Tbs. fresh mint, minced

1-2 Tbs. white wine vinegar

3-4 Tbs. EVOO

1/2-1 C. crumbled feta cheese

Kosher salt

pepper to taste


  1. Slice the cucumber as thin as you can, use a mandolin if needed.
  2. Put the sliced cucumber into a mesh strainer over the sink, sprinkle with a hefty couple pinches of salt, toss and let drain for about 15 minutes.
  3. In the mean time, slice the shallot very thin, grate the garlic clove and zest the lemons into a big bowl.
  4. Add the oregano, mint and juice of 1 lemon, mix.
  5. Once the cucumber is done draining, add to the bowl and mix well.
  6. Then add the feta cheese, pepper, vinegar and EVOO.
  7. Toss well.  Serve right away or refrigerate at least a half hour for better flavor.

I love the texture that the cucumber gets when you slice it real thin and let it sit with some salt.  DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP!  It may seem like you’re adding a lot of salt but this helps draw some of the moisture out of the cucumber so it doesn’t water-down the salad.  Also, you probably won’t have to add any other salt to the salad, especially if you’re feta cheese is really salty…  I try to look for one that’s a bit more mild and not so salty that my lips pucker.  It may be an expensive purchase, but you really don’t need to add that much.  I didn’t add a cup of cheese to mine, I only used about a half of a cup.  But like I said, it depends on the cheese, so taste as  you go – make it to your preference 🙂

strawberries and gin

I’m not a big drinker… I actually have like 2 drinks a month and the only alcohol I like is gin.  When I do have a drink, it has to be a damn good one!  Fruit and gin is one of my favorite combinations and when I have an abundance of fruit, I try to make a bunch of different things and gin seems to always be included.

This drink was really good… I don’t use any actual measurements except for the gin.  Alcohol is SO strong to me that I normally put in less than a shot of gin.

All I did was…

  1. Muddle sliced strawberries, lemon wedge and chopped basil in the bottom of the glass.
  2. Add ice cubes.
  3. Add the gin and some lemon juice.
  4. Top it off with some club soda or sparkling water.
  5. Add a couple pieces of whole fruit – strawberries, raspberries… whatever you have on hand.
  6. Garnish with whatever you think is pretty!

I normally have two types of gin – Hendrick’s and Tanqueray.  These two are both made very different.  Hendrick’s is made with the traditional juniper infusion but also adds Bulgarian rose and cucumber for flavor.  Tanqueray’s key botanicals are juniper, coriander, angelica root and licorice.  So technically, Hendrick’s gin should be garnished with a cucumber, not a lime.

Shop around for what type of alcohol you want – like I said, it all personal preference 🙂

Sharing a recipe for delicious alcoholic drink is the perfect way to end this post.  I hope you enjoy everything!



About cookbravissima

Hello there! Thank you for visiting my page! =) ****BLOG UNDER CONSTRUCTION-PLEASE COME BACK SOON**** My name is Maria. I am a babysitter, Our Lady of Mercy graduate, 25 years old and a dietary consultant for 33 Definitions Health and Wellness Education. I started this blog with the intention to share my healthy food creations with the everyday person, like myself! I do not consider myself a Chef. I believe a Chef is someone who went to school for culinary and/or works in a restaurant kitchen. Me, I am not a Chef, just an average person who loves to cook healthy! I am currently majoring in Culinary Arts but I still do not consider myself a chef. In 2008, I was going through a really tough time, physically and emotionally. My depression and anxiety had such a strong grip on my mental/physical health it was taking control. I wasn’t treating myself right in every category; example, not eating all day then having one large meal at night, and it wasn’t a healthy meal. I also wasn’t working out anymore; I used to be such an avid rower, co-captain of my high school team. But I was depressed, I couldn’t drink, eat or sleep. I was dehydrated and eventually lead to my body basically breaking down on me. I lost 40 pounds in just a couple months; my body was forming a substitute carbohydrate which was making me dry heave, all due to not drinking and eating. I thought to myself, how the hell does one throw up from not eating? No idea, but that’s what my doctor told me. I should have been in the hospital hooked up to an IV. Anyway, after I was able to walk without feeling like passing out I scheduled to see a psychiatrist and vowed to treat my body better. I grew up in a house where my mother had a healthy homemade meal on the table every weekday, so I just followed that while doing my research on what exactly is “healthy” food because everyone has their own definition (which is perfectly fine). Being healthy is not a diet, it is a lifestyle! It includes both physical and mental self, which is why I say a diet makes no sense! Everyone has their own lifestyle and many people that eat healthy vow by eating a certain way while others may not agree. Well, I say they’re all wrong! It should be whatever one believes is healthy for them, inside and out but do your research first! If whatever you are doing keeps you healthy and happy, then you are doing something right! #EatFreshCookBravissima
This entry was posted in Dinner, Farm Markets, Fitfluential ENJOY, Grilling, Picnic, Seasonal, Snacks, Stay active!, Summer and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to “Strawberry swisha sweets with my aston flying, bumping, Slim Dunkin trying to live this life of mine.” – Rick Ross

  1. Number1 Brotha says:

    Pack some of that lamb and cucumber salad in some dry ice and send it out to the D!

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