Cucina Valentina

Cucina Valentina

Friday, March 10, 2017

Cucumber Jalapeno Margaritas

Happy Friday!

Time for a Margarita, and this one is well deserved. 

Today I dove head first into Sea Salt production for my Cucina Valentina Etsy store, determined to add a variety of infused Sea Salts to my Kitchen Essentials line.  Two of my favorite flavors are smoky chipotle and bright, zesty lime.  I may be Italian, but, oh, how I love my Mexican food.  I can think of dozens of ways to use a chipotle lime salt - and I intend to share them all right here.

I soon discovered that this endeavor is extremely labor intensive.  There's the zesting and the squeezing, then the low-temp baking and then the grinding... 

The end result is amazing, and I'm not complaining, but after zesting a literal bushel of limes, I am ready for a refreshing libation!

This is a truly delicious margarita, as the cucumber gives it a burst of freshness and the jalapeno, the perfect kick.  Thank you to Michael Symon for the inspiration.


Cucumber Jalapeno Margaritas


1/2 C fresh squeezed lime juice
1/2 C Tequila
1/4 C Grand Marnier
1/4 C agave nectar

Jalapeno and cucumber, thin sliced

Chipotle Lime Sea Salt


Wet rim of glasses with a lime wedge then dip and roll into a shallow plate of chipotle salt until rim is coated.

Combine the first four ingredients in an ice filled shaker and shake vigerously.  Strain into glasses and garnish with cucumber and jalapeno.

For stronger cucumber/jalapeno flavor, mix all ingredients in a pitcher and refrigerate at least an hour before serving.

Serves 2 large or 4 small

Adapted from Michael Symon - Food Network

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Portobello Pizza

Hi Friends,

In case you haven't noticed, I have been off the radar for several weeks due to two significant life events, my birthday, and ... wait for it   

My mini kitchen renovation!

Well, the birthday, not so much a life event.  At this stage I would rather do without them, but whatever.  It's just a number, right?

And the mini reno, well, it was actually just having my kitchen cabinets painted.  I know it probably doesn't sound that dramatic, but let me tell you, the difference is immeasurable!  We bought our home 26 years ago, when honey oak was in style.  If you watch HGTV you know that when it comes to kitchens, white is in.  White quartz counters, white Shaker cabinets, whitewashed floors...

While this was not my reasoning for going light, (when it comes to trends, I'm always at least one behind) I felt that going dark would make an already small kitchen feel even smaller, so I went with a cream, Swiss Coffee to be exact, and I have to say, I love it!  Typhoon Bordeaux granite counters that seemed to get lost amidst that orangy oak, now really stand out.



As soon as the kitchen was done, off we went to the lake house to celebrate, which, even though it's the dead of winter, made me realize that spring is almost upon us and with it - bikini season.

Yes, I said it.

If anyone understands what this means, it is you, my audience.  Five months of homemade pastas, cheesecakes, carnitas tacos and shepherd's pies. has taken a toll.  It's time to lighten up, so I have decided to go low carb for awhile, and see if it really works.

There are a plethora of low carb recipes out there, so I have stockpiled what look like the best and intend to try them all during the month of March - and beyond.

These delicious little beauties are one of my favorite so far, and very easy.  No twenty ingredient shopping list here.  In fact, there are no specific quantities in this recipe.  Pile on as much or as little toppings as you like.  You cant go wrong with a pizza!

The key to having the portobello make a good foundation is hot, fast cooking.  If you leave them in the oven too long, the will be sitting in a puddle of their own juice, and you don't want that.  Just a quick pre-broil with garlic and herbs, then add the toppings and broil again.  It doesn't get easier than that!

One thing I can already say about low carb cooking is, Hallelujah.  Cheese is no longer the enemy!

And don't let the size fool you.  This pizza is filling!  The mushroom is dense, flavorful and meaty.  I promise you won't miss the crust!

Pair the pizza with a good bottle of wine such as this 2013 Chateau Montelena Cabernet (you can afford those carbs) and that's it. 
I feel healthier already!

Portobello Pizza


4 Portobello Mushrooms, washed and dried
Italian Seasoning
basil infused olive oil
minced garlic
salt and pepper


Mozarella Cheese
Parmesan Cheese
red onion
green onion

The list goes on...


Preheat broiler to Low Broil

Place mushrooms gill side up on a rimmed baking sheet and brush both sides with basil infused oil, salt and pepper.  Sprinkle with Italian seasoning and minced garlic and broil 8 -10 minutes.

Remove from oven, add toppings and broil again, another 10 - 15 minutes until cheese is bubbling and browning.  Let them sit a few minutes after broiling to firm up, then enjoy this guilt-free indulgence!