Blood Orange Cayenne Cleanser

Happy New Year! I am SO READY for this year, more than I can adequately express. I’m blessed and honored to have you on this journey with me. Lately I’ve been doing a ton of photography work, which is making my heart so happy and thankful! Cheers to you, your ambitions, and everything 2018 has in store. I pray you aim really high– and go for it!

I’ve partnered with Health-Ade to bring you a few awesome mocktails this year! Introducing our first: the Blood Orange Cayenne Cleanser, made with, you guessed it: Cayenne Cleanse kombucha. It’s got major kick, so I paired it with in-season sweet blood oranges for balance. There’s carrot juice in here too. All to promote a healthier you in 2018! Xo


Serves 4

  • 1 bottle (1 pint) Health-Ade Cayenne Cleanse
  • Juice from 4 blood oranges, plus 1 sliced blood orange for garnish
  • 1 cup carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon plus zest for garnish
  • 1 cup ice cubes
  • Cayenne pepper, for sprinkling
  1. Combine Cayenne Cleanse, orange juice, carrots, lemon juice and ice into a high-powered blender. Blend on low, slowly increasing to high speed. Blend on high for 1 minute or until smooth consistency is reached.
  2. Strain drink through a fine mesh sieve once or twice. Divide drink equally between 4 cocktail glasses. Serve on ice if desired.
  3. Use a vegetable peeler to peel 4 long ribbons of lemon zest. Place 1 ribbon into each glass.
  4. Slice remaining blood range in wheels and place one face up in each glass.
  5. Sprinkle a pinch of cayenne pepper into each glass. Enjoy cold. Refrigerate up to 2 days.

Original recipe by Ashley Cuoco, sponsored by Health-Ade.

Holiday Cheers Sangria Mocktail

I had a holiday blast creating and shooting this recipe for Health-ade! Their annual Holiday Cheers kombucha is back. Grab yourself some bottles and give this party drink a whirl. It’s sweet, fruity, and good for your gut.

Serves 10-12

  • 1 granny smith apple, thinly sliced
  • 1 Braeburn apple, thinly sliced
  • 1 pear, sliced
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 6 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 bottles (1 pint each) Health-Ade Cheers
  • 4 cups pomegranate juice
  • 4 cups ginger ale
  • 1/4 cup simple syrup
  • 10 oz frozen cranberries plus more for skewering
  • 1/2 cup sugar for coating cranberries and rosemary
  1. Combine apples, pear, pomegranate seeds and 2 sprigs rosemary in a large punch bowl. Pour in Health-Ade Holiday Cheers, ginger ale and pomegranate juice. Refrigerate at least 1 hour.
  2. To serve, add frozen cranberries. Ladle sangria into glasses (get some of that good fruit in there!)
  3. Cut the remaining rosemary sprigs into 3” pieces. Dip each sprig into simple syrup and roll in sugar to coat. Dip extra cranberries into simple syrup and roll in sugar to coat. Skewer 3-4 cranberries per drink and rest on top of each glass.
  4. Garnish drinks with sugared cranberries and rosemary; serve cold.

Three Cheese Root Vegetable Gratin

Thanksgiving week is upon us! I can’t contain my excitement!! My husband, Joshua, just returned home after almost 5 months of traveling to potential residency programs. Finally having him back means I have to start cooking for him again… but I could not be happier about it!!! Life is moving, fast. The older I get, the more real that becomes. Am I right? One day at a time, always. I am doing my best to slow down and enjoy each thing life throws at me. Big and small. Good and bad. All things work together for our good.

My wonderful friends at Sur la Table asked me to shoot a gratin recipe this month. I’ve always wanted to make one of these. All those crispy, cheesy layers. I’ve been itching to use my mandolin and this beautiful Staub pan. We made it happen! This gratin has everything going for it: three root veggies, three cheeses, all together perfect. Boring mashed potatoes, step aside.

Serves 6-8

  • 2½ cups whole milk
  • 1 ½ cups heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, grated or finely chopped
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and sliced ¼ inch thick
  • 1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced ¼ inch thick
  • 1 pound large parsnips, peeled and sliced ¼ inch thick
  • ½ teaspoons unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup shredded Gruyère cheese
  • ½ cup shredded white Cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Rub the butter over the bottom and sides of a 2-quart gratin dish.
  2. In a large heavy pan, combine the milk, cream, salt, thyme, garlic and pepper. Place over medium heat and stir for 3 minutes, or until small bubbles appear around the edges of the pan. Add the Yukon Gold potatoes, sweet potatoes and parsnips. Stir to coat and simmer gently, uncovered, for 10 to 12 minutes, until the potatoes are partially cooked. Remove from the heat.
  3. Use a slotted spoon to transfer half the vegetables to the gratin dish. Sprinkle with half each of the Gruyère, cheddar, and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheeses. Add the remaining vegetables. Use two forks to arrange the top layer of potatoes in a slightly overlapping design, evenly distributing the different-colored potatoes. Ladle the hot cream mixture over the vegetables and sprinkle with all of the remaining cheeses.
  4. Bake for 35 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a skewer or the tip of a knife and the gratin is bubbling and golden. Let the gratin rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Recipe by Sur La Table & Andrews McMeel Publishing.



Pumpkin Mascarpone Parfaits

I was walking through a department store yesterday and passed a girl wearing a shirt that read “BUT FIRST, PUMPKIN SPICE.” We giggle, but let’s get real: we all feel this way. At least a little. Admit it!

Tis the season for everything pumpkin. I fully embrace it. This is one of my favorite seasonal recipes I shot for Genius Kitchen last year. It’s everything you love about pumpkin pie, in a glass!

Serves 12

  • Two 15-oz cans organic pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups mascarpone cheese
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups crushed Biscoff cookies*
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the pumpkin puree with the spices, salt, 2 cups of the mascarpone and 1 1/2 cups of the powdered sugar until thick and creamy.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat the heavy cream with the remaining mascarpone and 1 cup of powdered sugar until soft peaks form.
  3. Spoon half of the pumpkin mixture into 12 glasses and top with half of the mascarpone mixture and half of the crushed cookies. Repeat the layering process. Refrigerate the parfaits for 1 hour. Top with more cookie crumbs and a whole cookie before serving.

*If you can’t find Biscoff, use graham crackers!

Recipe adapted from Food & Wine. Photos by Ashley Cuoco for Genius Kitchen.

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Shrimp Tacos with Avocado Crema

Here’s the next round of tacos for #nationaltacoday with Sur la Table! I could not get enough of these. The shrimp is cooked with chipotle in adobo, one of my favorite flavors on the planet. It’s smoky, a little spicy and insanely good. Pair that with a cool and crunchy slaw, avocado cream, cilantro and lime juice? This is my ideal taco. Get your friends together and make a batch of these to celebrate! It’ll be messy, but it’s gonna be worth it.

Makes 4 servings


  • 2 cups finely shredded red cabbage
  • 1/2 cup peeled and shredded carrot
  • 1 medium jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Avocado Lime Crema:

  • 1 medium avocado, peeled and pitted
  • 1/3 cup Mexican crema
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice


  • 1 lb medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon chipotle paste (the adobo sauce that comes in cans, or pureed chipotle peppers)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice

For Serving:

  • 8 corn tortillas
  • 1 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges
  • 1 bunch radishes, sliced thin
  1. To make the slaw: In a large mixing bowl, toss all slaw ingredients together. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  2. Avocado crema: Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Blend into a smooth sauce, taste and adjust seasonings with salt. Transfer to a small bowl, set aside.
  3. For the shrimp: Preheat pan on medium-high heat. In a medium bowl, toss the shrimp with the oil, chipotle paste and lime juice. Season shrimp with salt and pepper. Cook the shrimp tossing in the pan for about 1 to 2 minutes per side.
  4. To serve: Fill each warm tortilla with grilled shrimp, a small amount of slaw, lime crema, and cilantro leaves. Serve with lime wedges and remaining slaw on the side.

Recipe courtesy of Sur la Table, by Joel Gamoran, Sur La Table National Chef.





Baja Fish Tacos

Earlier this month I flew into San Francisco for a food photography workshop with Bella of @ful.filled and Sarah of @bromabakery in Napa Valley. It was everything I’d hoped for and more, so much so that I’ll need to devote a special post to the experience! Before flying home, we stopped at a little taco place called Tacko. We had perfect grilled fish tacos and guacamole. Everything I crave about tacos, these tacos delivered. So there I am, enjoying tacos on a sunny day, when my friends at Sur la Table ask me to photograph a few of their taco recipes for #nationaltacoday! I mean, was anything more meant to be? With taco in hand, I said yes (obviously) and today I’m sharing the recipe for their Baja fish tacos. It doesn’t get more California then this right here! Don’t skimp on the lime wedges. And slather on the avocado sauce. It’s non-optional. Let’s go!

Makes 10 tacos

  • 2 Hass avocados –halved, pitted and peeled
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 1 small jalapeño, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons minced red onion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 5 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 small head of green cabbage, finely shredded (4 cups)
  • vegetable oil for brushing on the fish
  • 2 pounds thick red snapper fillets with skin, cut crosswise into ten 2-inch-wide strips
  • Ten 7-inch flour tortillas, warmed
  • 2 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • Hot sauce, for serving
  • Lime wedges, for serving
  1. Light a grill or heat a grill pan over medium-high heat.
  2. In a medium bowl, mash the avocados, sour cream, jalapeño, red onion, cilantro and 3 tablespoons of the lime juice. Season the guacamole with salt and pepper and press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the guacamole.
  3. In a large bowl, toss the cabbage with the remaining 2 tablespoons of lime juice. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Brush the fish with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill over moderately high heat until lightly charred and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Transfer the fish to a platter and pull off the skin.
  5. To assemble each taco, spread a dollop of guacamole on a tortilla. Top with a piece of fish, a few tomato slices and a large spoonful of the cabbage slaw. Serve with the hot sauce and lime wedges.

Recipe courtesy of Sur la Table. Tested and perfected in the Sur la Table kitchen.


Tortellini with Pumpkin Sage Brown Butter

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for

Seasonal mood is in full swing! At least in my mind. Last week I happily put on a new sweater, only to realized it’s still 75 degrees outside. I have no shame. When fall’s in the air, I’m happy and I’m going to show it. All the pumpkin recipes are starting to surface. While there are some things I think we need to keep pumpkin out of (like this…really?) pasta is pumpkin’s partner in this dish. Sage and brown butter have a long time, awesome thing going. Throw them all together with cheese tortellini and Parmesan cheese and you’ve got an addicting pasta dish you’ll want to make all season long!

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 4 fresh sage leaves
  • 1/2 cup organic pumpkin puree
  • 1 lb fresh cheese tortellini
  • 1/2 cup up parmigiano reggiano cheese
  • pinch cinnamon
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp light brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  1. To make the brown butter pumpkin sauce, add butter and sage leaves to a sauté pan over medium heat and swirl butter around in pan until it turns golden brown. A little brown bits are good! Don’t let it burn.
  2. Add the pumpkin puree, cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar, and pepper. Stir and remove from heat.
  3. Cook tortellini in boiling salted water according to package directions, drain, and toss into sauté pan with warm sauce. Stir in parmesan cheese and serve warm.

Recipe adapted from



Mizuna Salad with Burrata and Peach Vinaigrette

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

August 31st (my birthday!) marks the end of summer, at least in my own head. But with Labor day approaching, I thought we should hold onto it a bit longer. I was given mizuna, an Asian green typically found in baby lettuce mixes, in my CSA a couple of weeks ago. You can also use arugula, spinach or mixed greens. Get creative with it! I threw in all the things I love: burrata, figs, peaches, prosciutto, basil and mixed it up with a zippy peach vinaigrette. Relax, we’ve still got a few weeks left of Summer!

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Serves 4-6

  • 1 package of mizuna, arugula or other greens of choice
  • 4 slices prosciutto
  • 2 ripe peaches, sliced or diced
  • 4 figs, sliced in halves
  • 1 ball fresh burrata
  • 1 small bunch fresh basil, chopped

For Vinaigrette:

  • 1 ripe peach, peeled and cubed
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  1. Wash and dry your greens. Combine in a large bowl with prosciutto, sliced peaches, figs, and basil. Toss well.
  2. In a small food processor or blender, add peach, vinegar, salt and pepper. Blend until peach is liquified and other ingredients are well combined. On low speed, slowly drizzle in oil until well blended.
  3. Pour vinaigrette over salad and toss well, or serve on the side. Top salad with a generous ball of creamy burrata.



Spicy Peach Caipirinha Mocktail

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

After a long couple of weeks at my office desk, I cannot express just how good it feels to get back in my kitchen! And I’ve managed to completely tear it up in less than 24 hours. Typical. But, what a beautiful mess it is.

Two years ago on August 17th I stayed up well into the night creating this website. Like most passions of mine, I became a woman on a mission. I started to fall in love, hard, with food photography. I stumbled my way through most of it, and still stumble often (aren’t we always learning?) and today I’m more proud than ever of what’s conspired. Not only in the physical but in my heart. Through the mundane tasks of life, my kitchen, my camera and this blog have been the silver lining– the thing I look forward to each weekend. My sweet escape in it all. I’ve said this before but it’s worth saying again: find what it is that keeps you up at night, the thing that keeps you on your toes: and do it!

In celebration of the 2nd anniversary of Cuoco Contento, I decided to have some fun with peaches. August is also my birthday month, and I always make a peach pie (at least once). There’s nothing quite like a big, juicy peach– one that falls apart in your hand and drips down your arm. Soft and sweet.

I’ve teamed up with the wonderful folks at Health-Ade for a special Anniversary giveaway!! We’re giving one winner a case of their outstanding Kombucha. It’s my absolute favorite, not only by itself but as an alcohol replacement in mocktails. It’s bubbly, fun and good for your gut. If you’re trying to kick the soda habit and need some carbonation, get yourself in on this giveaway! Details are up on my Instagram page! Health-Ade and I want you to #followyourgut, whatever that means to you. Get out there and make it happen.

Today I present to you a happy little anniversary mocktail, made with Healthade’s Ginger Lemon kombucha. A Caipirinha is traditionally made with sugar and lime. Here I’ve replaced the sugar with honey and added some spice. It’s a little sweet, a little spicy, and all together summer.

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Makes 4 drinks

  • 2 very ripe peaches, peeled and skins removed
  • Juice of 4 limes
  • 4 teaspoons honey
  • 8-10 oz Health-Ade Ginger Lemon kombucha
  • 2 limes, cut into wedges
  • 2 jalapeños, sliced
  • ice cubes
  1. Slice peaches (peel those skins!) and place in a blender. I use a NutriBullet. Add lime juice and honey. Mix until well blended.
  2. Prepare 4 chilled glasses with ice cubes. Divide the peach mixture among the glasses. Top with kombucha. Garnish with lime wedges and jalapeños. Spicy and sweet!

Scrappy Pesto, Zucchini & Burrata Pizza

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Scrappy (adjective): to prepare a dish consisting of scraps, i.e. food that typically gets wasted or thrown away. Used in a sentence: “Hey, that’s totally SCRAPPY!”

I am so inspired by the Sur La Table TV show Scraps, (airs 10:30pm EST every Sunday night on FYI), where national chef Joel travels the country conjuring up new, exciting recipes using things that normally get tossed! Think beet greens, shrimp shells, and bruised apples. I’ve mentioned the show before on the blog, but today I tried my hand at a second scrappy recipe! My inspiration? CSA, aka community supported agriculture.

My friend and I went in together on a CSA share in Oyster Bay. So far we’ve gotten a TON of radishes, tri-color salad and arugula. This past week’s share finally had some summer zucchini. I snagged a few extra and decided to highlight them in a dish this weekend. On top of that, our adorable farmer gave me premature carrots with tons of greens on top. I saved them in water in my refrigerator and told myself that I MUST put them to good use! I could hear Joel saying, “save your scraps!”

I’ve tried pesto with other things before, like radish greens, and the results were not nearly as delicious as what I’m about to share with you: carrot top pesto. Leaves only (no stems) and blended with a little olive oil, toasted walnuts, and parmesan cheese. Carrot leaves on their own taste a little bit like carrots. When made into a pesto like this, you get an earthy flavor reminiscent of basil pesto. I was so pleasantly surprised by the flavor. Keep your carrot leaves and you can pat yourself on the back knowing that you saved food from the trash! I prefer walnuts or almonds to pine nuts, but you can absolutely substitute them if you don’t have walnuts on hand. Spread this magic on everything from toasted crostini, fried eggs or pasta. It will keep in the refrigerator for about 2 days.

Watch full episodes of Scraps here!

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco


  • 1 cup loosely packed carrot tops (leaves only, no stems)
  • 6 tablespoons cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 tablespoons walnuts, toasted
  • 1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano, grated, plus more for sprinkling on top


  • olive oil for greasing
  • 1 ball fresh or frozen pizza dough
  • 1 medium zucchini, sliced thin
  • 1 ball burrata
  • 1 bunch fresh basil
  • Freshly cracked pepper
  • Red pepper flakes
  1. If using frozen pizza dough, remove from freezer the night before using and defrost in the refrigerator. If using fresh dough or when ready to use, let rise at room temperature in a greased, covered bowl for at least 1 hour.
  2. Grease a dark baking sheet with olive oil. Stretch dough out on sheet pan as thin as possible. Preheat oven to 425 F.
  3. To make the pesto, add carrot leaves, olive oil, garlic clove, salt and walnuts to a food processor. Pulse until well combined, about 1 minute. Add in cheese and pulse for an additional 15 seconds.
  4. Spread pesto on to dough evenly. Add zucchini slices. Sprinkle extra parmesan on top and bake for 8 minutes.
  5. Break up the ball of burrata and dollop onto pizza. Bake for an additional 4 minutes until crust is brown and cheese is melted.
  6. Sprinkle with basil, a pinch of pepper and red pepper flakes. Let cool for 5 minutes before cutting.