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The Kitchen’s Yogurt Pesto Dip

February 22, 2018 Appetizer, Menu No Comments

I always find it fun and exciting when inspiration for a new recipe comes my way while watching one of my many favorite food television programs. Most times, the recipes that I gravitate towards are ones that grab my attention for their simplistic ingredients and the flexibility of shaping them into my own little creations. However, a recent recipe that I saw on The Food Network’s The Kitchen had me both intrigued and perplexed.

Dapper-dressed tv chef and co-host Geoffrey Zakarian was mixing up a low-calorie, low-fat, low-cholesterol, heart-healthy party dip that called for only two ingredients….pesto and Greek yogurt. While I am a huge fan of both ingredients when used separately, the mere suggestion of the two distinctive tastes coming together as one had me stumped. Co-host Sunny Anderson’s reaction seemed just as confused as mine, but she quickly agreed that the combined ingredients made for a great, tasty dip. There was no turning back for me at this point.

Yogurt Pesto Dip: Take 1

The ingredients, as I mentioned earlier, are very simple: 1 cup plain Greek yogurt and 1/4 cup pesto (store bought is fine, home made is even better), with a bit of Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper for taste. Geoffrey’s suggestion was to use full fat Greek yogurt. I understand that the full fat variety would offer more texture and richness to the recipe, however finding a single serving cup of full fat Greek yogurt can be a challenge. Usually you would have to buy the full fat plain variety in a large quart size container. Whenever I eat Greek yogurt, I opt for the fat-free variety. To avoid having a container of leftover full fat Greek yogurt on hand, I decided to give the recipe a try by using the fat-free variety. The dip was very good. The balance of the zesty pesto and creaminess of the yogurt made for a nice, refreshingly tasty dip with a tart zip to it. But, as predicted, the texture was a bit thin. Adding some olive oil for additional flavor only made the texture even thinner.

Yogurt Pesto Dip: Take 2

Still not wanting to give in to the purchase of a full fat container, I decided to give the recipe a try with a 7-oz single serving container of 2% Greek yogurt. There was definitely a difference in texture. Much thicker and creamier, and again with the addition of a drizzle of olive oil and some Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper…mmmm mmmm, good!!!

What I really like about this dip is its versatility. Not only are there lots of health benefits to it – the fresh herbs and healthy olive oil benefits in the pesto, and the proteins, calcium and probiotics found in the yogurt – there are also a number of ways that you can serve the dip. Sure, it serves well with chips and fresh cut vegetables. But it also worked amazingly well with baked potatoes, chicken and salmon. I’m sure it would even complement a nice steak…I just haven’t gotten to that yet.

So, if you are looking for a recommendation for a versatile, tasty and healthy dip…and if you are a fan of pesto and Greek yogurt…this is the one you have to try!


Yogurt Pesto Dip

Adapted from The Kitchen’s Yogurt Pesto Dip recipe

1 7-oz single serving container of 2% plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup pesto (store bought or home made)
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil

Add the yogurt and pesto to a medium bowl and stir until fully combined. Drizzle in the olive oil. Add the salt and pepper to taste. Stir and serve.


Game Day Taquitos

January 19, 2018 Appetizer, Entrees, Menu No Comments

Game time is here, and football fever is running rampant! Even if your beloved team didn’t make it to the playoffs, chances are that you will still be joining family and friends for fun food at a game day party.

As I’ve discussed in previous game day posts, the key to a successful party dish is to make it a quick hitter that is fun, tasty and easy to eat. The recipe that I’m sharing with you today tackles all of those requirements!

Taquitos are a Mexican dish that consists of rolled-up flour tortillas stuffed with a filling, and is crisp-fried. Think of it as a rolled-up taco. During one of our recent holiday gatherings, I decided to make my own version of taquitos, coming up with a few different filling options and choosing to bake the taquitos instead of frying them. Not only were they a big hit, they were also enjoyed by both adults and kids. Prep time (for the most part) was minimal, and the ingredients were tasty. Although the taquitos were served as a picky appetizer, they were filling enough and tasty enough to keep everyone satisfied and coming back for more. Hence, the perfect game day food!

The best part about taquitos is that you can get as creative as you wish with the fillings. While traditional fried taquitos use a flour tortilla, I found that the baked version works just as well with both flour and wheat tortilla shells. I’ve used both types of tortilla shells for my taquitos and and was happy with both versions. Listed below are a few of the fillings that I prepared, along with a few other filling suggestions that I think would work well. As always, I encourage you to get as creative as you wish.



The key to a good taquito is the filling. So far, I have made two different types of taquito fillings: sautéed vegetables and chicken, cheddar and bacon. Both were able to be prepared ahead of time, and both worked well and were enjoyed by everyone.

For the sautéed vegetable filling, you will need the following:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 zucchini, finely chopped
1 yellow squash, finely chopped
1 red pepper, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon dill weed
salt and pepper to taste
shredded mozzarella or cheddar cheese

Heat oil in medium skillet or wok over medium-high heat until hot. Add bell pepper, onion and garlic; cook and stir 2-3 minutes or until crisp-tender.

Stir in zucchini and squash; cook and stir 5-7 minutes or until tender.

Stir in herbs, cook until thoroughly heated. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside to cool slightly. You will top the vegetables with the shredded cheese when you assemble the taquitos.


For the chicken, cheddar and bacon filling, you will need the following:

1/2 lb cooked and seasoned chicken breast, chopped (Perdue Short Cuts works well for this)

8-ounce package of shredded cheddar cheese

4-6 slices of cooked bacon, cut into small pieces


Other filling suggestions:

• steak, peppers and provolone

• meatballs and mozzarella

• seasoned chicken with blue cheese

• pulled pork, roasted red peppers and broccoli rabe

• marinated shrimp and scallops

….honestly, you can go any number of directions!

Regardless of what filling you prefer to try, one suggestion that I would make is to not make your fillings too wet. If you think that your fillings would go well with a sauce (say a marinara or a barbecue sauce), I would suggest that you serve those sauces as a side for dipping. Incorporating the sauces into the filling may make the tortilla shells soft and mushy, and they may not bake properly.



Preheat your oven to 400˚.

As I mentioned earlier, I have used both flour and whole wheat tortilla shells and was very happy with the results of both.

To assemble your taquitos, lay a tortilla shell out flat, and place a 1″ strip of your filling down the middle. Tightly roll up the tortilla shell, as if you were rolling up a cigar.

Place the rolled tortilla shells seam side down into a lightly sprayed 9″ x 12″ baking dish. Medium-sized tortilla shells will work the best with a 9″ x 12″ baking dish. If you have larger sized tortilla shells, you can trim the rolled shells to fit into the pan. You will fit about 8 rolled shells into the pan.

Lightly spray the top of the shells. Place the dish, uncovered, into the oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the shells start to brown and crisp. Remove from oven, let cool for a few minutes. Remove from baking dish and cut the baked taquitos in half. Serve and enjoy!


A Little of This and Some of That!

December 4, 2017 Menu No Comments





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My Interview on WSBA Radio

November 22, 2017 Menu No Comments

You can now listen to my interview with Mark McKenzie on WSBA Radio.


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