Gina’s Savory Italian Topping – Big On Yum Factor


The Yum Factor in my Savory Italian Topping can’t be beat

Everyone has a “go to” meal that is fast to prepare, tasty, and easy to clean up. Today, I will share mine with you. I call it Savory Italian Topping because I use it on almost everything I eat. It adds a punch of flavor to meat, fish, chicken, potatoes, scrambled eggs, crusty bread, and just about anything you can imagine. It’s a guiltless recipe because it is low fat and low cholesterol. I always have a fresh batch in my refrigerator.

Here’s how you make it. You will need the following ingredients which are all easy to find.


Ingredients for Gina’s Savory Italian Topping

2 cups of Grape Tomatoes, cut in half

1 cup of whole pitted Kalmata Olives, cut in half

3 tablespoons of Olive Oil

3 tablespoons of Balsamic Vinegar (I happen to love balsamic, so I use equal parts to the olive oil. If you don’t like it as much as I do, cut back to 2 tablespoons)

3 cloves of Garlic

1 small Shallot (small white or brown onion will work as well)

Pinch of Salt

Pinch of Pepper

If you can find the following ingredients fresh, all the better. I made this recipe in fall when my balcony garden has withered, so I am using dried ingredients. Here’s the info for both fresh or dried:

Dried: mix oregano, basil, rosemary, in equal amounts until you have 1 1/2 teaspoons of all three mixed together. Add a pinch of salt and pepper.

Fresh: 4 medium size basil leaves, 3 medium size oregano leaves, 1 sprig of Rosemary. Add a pinch of salt and pepper.

Let’s start cooking.

1. Use a 10″ or 12″ skillet and add the olive oil and balsamic vinegar

2. Chop the garlic and shallot and add it to the skillet

3. Add the oregano, basil, rosemary, salt and pepper.


Ten inch skillet with olive oil, balsamic, oregano, rosemary, basil, salt and pepper


Chopped garlic and shallot


Kalmata olives and grape tomatoes cut in half


All of the ingredients together in the skillet

Turn your stove on to a medium-low heat. I use number 3 setting. Cover with a grease splatter cover so the olive oil doesn’t get all over you or your stove. Set your kitchen timer for 8 minutes and stir at least 4 times throughout the cooking period.


Set your kitchen timer for 8 minutes

Your batch of Gina’s Savory Italian Topping is finished after 8 minutes and the ingredients are caramelized. The entire cooking process only takes about 12 minutes and you have a batch of topping that you can use whenever you want.


Gina’s Savory Italian Topping is finished after 8 minutes

Store this topping in a glass container because the tomatoes will stain plastic an orange color. Put it in the refrigerator and bring it out to heat up whenever you want.


Store Gina’s Savory Italian Topping in a glass container

By now you should be hungry. Just the aroma of garlic and shallots is enough to make your mouth water. Use it on turkey burgers, hash browns and scrambled eggs, with crusty bread, on cheese slices, with baked chicken, or use your imagination. Please let me know if you have a new way of eating this delicious topping. I’d love to hear it.





In the Groove – A Jazz Lovers Must See

Entrance to the jazz portraits exhibit

In The Groove: Jazz Portraits by Herman Leonard at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery is a must see for any music lover or historian. The combination of Leonard’s photographic skills and the legends of jazz in action make it a delectable adventure in visual American musical history. 

There are wall didactics that provide a brief history of jazz itself as well as information about each musician. It’s a bit like getting a free crash course. 

I’ve photographed some of my favorite images to share with you. Keep in mind the angles are odd in an attempt to reduce as many reflections from the glass as possible.

The exhibit is small, so you csn see it even if you don’t have a lot of time. Do you work in Chinatown? You can easily stroll through the whole thing on your lunch break.

Sarah Vaughan

Gerry Milligan and Zoot Sims

Clifford Brown

Sonny Stitt

Buddy Rich

Fats Navarro

Dizzy Gillepsie

Billie Holiday

The Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery is locatrd at 8th St NW & F St NW, Washington, DC 20001. Open every day except Christmas from 11:30AM–7PM.

Inside the East Wing of the National Gallery of Art

Last Sunday, I decided to regenerate my soul with a visit to the newly reopened East Wing of the National Gallery Of Art. Three years of closure has whet my appetite for the modern art masters I studied while at Parsons the New School. Some of my art heros grace the walls and I am soaking them in. 

Here is whirlwind tour of delicious highlights.

When you enter the main floor, you are greeted by several large sculptures. Max Ernst’s Capricorn caught my attention. 

Max Ernst, Capricorn, 1948/1975

Look up. You don’t want to miss Anthony Caro’s National Gallery Ledge Piece perched at treetop level looking down at you.

Anthony Caro, National Gallery Ledge Piece, 1978

Everyone knows Edward Steichen as an innovative photographer. But did you know the man could also paint alongside the best of the modern masters?

Edward Steichen, Le Tournesol (The Sunflower) 1920

Light reigns supreme in photography and painting. Here is a Charles Sheeler piece that exemplifies it.

Charles Sheeler, Classic Landscape, 1931

There are many photographs that show the history of the medium changing from strict representation to interpretative abstracts. Alvin Langdon Coburn left us with many such images.

Alvin Langdon Coburn, Vortograph, 1917

Cubism is readily represented in the East Wing. I was particularly drawn to John Storrs’ bronze and silver sculpture.

John Storrs, Le Sergent De Ville, 1919/1923

Jasper Johns takes painting 3D.

Jasper Johns, Field Painting, 1964/65

No self-respecting modern art collection can be without Wayne Theibaud’s classic cake paintings.

Wayne Theibaud, Cakes, 1963

Here’s a surprise. A curvy Al Held.

Al Held, Black Angel, 1964

Ever wonder where Jackson Pollock’s most famous painting lives? Fortunately for Americans, it’s right here in our National Gallery of Art.

Jackson Pollock, Number 1 (Lavender Mist) 1950

Rounding  a corner, I found myself face-to-face with Max Beckmann’s The Argonauts. The museum visitor looks as if he could step inside the painting with his black hat and jacket. 

Max Beckmann, The Argonauts, 1949/50

Inside another gallery I am delighted by a well known Fernand Leger. 

Fernand Leger, Two Women, 1922

The last painting I leave you with is by Kay Sage. I was thrilled to see her represented in the surrealist wing. She doesn’t get the credit she deserves.

Kay Sage, A Finger on the Drum, 1940


Fortunately, the East Wing also has a modern photography collection. I went in that gallery, but there is more to talk about there than I can fit into this blog post, so stay tuned to the next installment.

Whirlwind Tour of The East Wing Of The National Gallery Of Art

Cruising the Anacostia River

RiverKeeper boat cruise

The Dock at 1st & Potomac SE DC

If you are looking for outdoor adventure, I recommend a free (yep, its free) river cruise with Anacostia Riverkeepers. You experience the river from a different point of view than ever before.  The sights and sounds of seagulls, ducks, waves, wind, laughter and helicopters converge into a delightful cacophony. It’s a great way to cool down on a hot summer day because the breeze off the river is generally much less warm than the air temperature. Bring your own picnic and drinks if you like.

RiverKeeper boat cruise

Along the banks of the Anacostia River

The Anacostia Riverkeepers received a grant for community outreach and that is funding the cruises. The money comes from the District’s disposable bag fee we all pay when we take a plastic bag from a store. While you are floating, your guide gives you info on the river’s history, wildlife and environmental conditions.

RiverKeeper boat cruise

One of the bridges along the Anacostia River

There are public and private tours available. Check out this link for details and to reserve your spot on the pontoon. One and two hours tours are available.

RiverKeeper boat cruise

RiverKeepers boat cruise

Helpful hints: take plenty of sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat that won’t blow off your head. It is very bright on the river and the water reflects back up on you so take care of your skin and eyes.






Forget the Legos. Use Cans. Canstruction at the National Building Museum

The National Building Museum

The National Building Museum

The Washington Architectural Foundation has come up with a triple threat. They entertain us, expose kids to building and feed DC’s hungry all at the same time.

Canstruction is a nationwide competition. Teams of architects, engineers, and designers come together to build whimsical structures out of stacks of cans. Judges who are professionals in the related fields jury the sculptures in the amusing categories such at “best meal”, “most cans”, and “best use of labels” etc. If you want to add your can-did opinion, bring a can of food and drop it in the box next to your favorite for a Peoples Choice award.  The awards ceremony will held on November 30 at 12:00. All cans are donated to the Capital Area Food Bank when the exhibit is over.

This year’s theme is Transportation. Imagination abounds as you will see in the following photos.

I think I can, I think I can

I think I can, I think I can

Can 2 Go

Can 2 Go

Can-estoga Wagon

Can-estoga Wagon



The Magic School Bus

The Magic School Bus

The Flux CANpacitor

The Flux CANpacitor (Back to the Future)

Like An Octopus on Roller Skates

Like An Octopus on Roller Skates

Duck Hunger

Duck Hunger

Ameri-CAN Bistro

Ameri-CAN Bistro

CAN-nook Chopper To The Rescue

CAN-nook Chopper To The Rescue

The Mayflower - Voyage To End Hunger

The Mayflower – Voyage To End Hunger

Dulles: 2 Pringles to Paradise

Dulles: 2 Pringles to Paradise

The Yellow Submarine

The Yellow Submarine

Detail of The Yellow Submarine with John, Paul, Ringo and George - The Beatles

Detail of The Yellow Submarine with George, Paul, George and Ringo – The Beatles


So if you are looking for a smile to uplift your day, head over to the National Building Museum and enjoy the Canstructions. Take the kids too. They are intrigued and delighted. But hurry. Canstruction will only be up until November 30, 2015.

The National Building Museum is located at 401 F St NW, Washington, DC 20001
(202) 272-2448. Click here to see hours and admission prices.