Roasted Cherry Tomato Crostini

August 31, 2017

It’s harvest time and the fruits and vegetables are brimming with beautiful flavors and colors of the season! Nothing tastes like summer more to me than tomatoes…any variety, shape or color! I could literally eat them with every meal. Matter of fact, I have. In this dish, the red wine, the balsamic vinegar and the fresh basil compliment the cherry tomatoes perfectly!! And then when you add the goat cheese to the mix — the creamy texture with a touch of tang — you get a perfect crostini! Enjoy the remaining days of summer and all that harvest season has to offer!

Preheat your oven to 400º. Wash and pat dry your cherry tomatoes. Slice each one in half and put in a baking dish. Stir in the olive oil, the red wine, the balsamic vinegar and a generous amount of both black pepper and sea salt (I like to grind both fresh). When the oven is heated, roast the tomatoes for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

When done, remove the tomatoes from the oven, stir in the chopped fresh basil and let the mixture come to room temperature. There will be an excess of juices which is great to let your tomatoes “stew” in while you prepare your crostini toasts.

Slice your baguette in roughly ½” thick pieces. Butter each top and sprinkle with various herbs (I like to use fresh garlic, basil, black pepper and a little sea salt). Toast in a 400º oven until browned and crispy.

To assemble, spread the softened goat cheese on each crostini, top with a spoonful of the roasted tomatoes with a hint of the juices and finish by placing a fresh basil leaf on each one.

Makes a perfect hors d’oeuvre to enjoy al fresco!!

Ingredients:

1 pint cherry tomatoes
2-3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp red wine
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Black pepper
Sea salt
2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
1 baguette
½ stick butter, brought to room temperature
Your favorite spices (garlic, basil, etc.)
1 log goat cheese, softened to room temperature
Fresh basil leaves for garnish

Egg Bake

April 4, 2017

 

Spring has sprung and Easter is just around the corner. With the in-laws and house guests on their way, you’re wondering how you are going to feed everyone yet not live in the kitchen… My Egg Bake is the perfect answer to your breakfast woes!! You can prepare the casserole the day before, refrigerate overnight, and then pop it in oven in the morning. Now you won’t miss the Easter egg hunt because you’re stuck in the kitchen all morning!

Begin by preparing your vegetables: in a large skillet add olive oil, chopped peppers and chopped onions. Saute for 5-10 minutes, or until the peppers and onions begin to soften. Next, add the mushrooms and garlic and cook another 5 minutes, stirring often. Set the vegetables aside. In a large mixing bowl, add the eggs, the milk, the shredded cheese, and your spices. Whisk to blend well. Set aside.

Now it’s time to assemble your dish: begin with coating the bottom of a 9×13 Pyrex dish with cooking spray. Add the frozen hash browns covering the entire bottom of the dish (optional step: I add various spices to the potatoes for added flavor, such as garlic powder, basil, salt and pepper). Next, evenly spread your cooked vegetable mixture over the potatoes. Lastly, pour the egg and cheese mixture evenly over the entire dish. Cover the dish with tin foil. At this point, you can either refrigerate or bake your casserole. When you are ready, bake the dish for 60 minutes (30 minutes covered in foil, last 30 uncovered) in a preheated 375º oven (until the eggs are cooked through). Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

This casserole makes great leftovers and freezes well for a future breakfast (or lunch…or dinner for that matter!). To reheat, thaw, if frozen, and either microwave for 3-4 minutes or heat in a 350º oven for 10-15 minutes.

Ingredients:

2 tbsp olive oil
1 red pepper, diced
½ yellow onion, diced
5 button mushrooms, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
12 eggs
⅓ cup milk
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 tsp dried basil
2-3 tsp sea salt
2 tsp fresh black pepper
1 bag frozen shredded hash browns
Optional: spices for hash browns, such as basil, garlic powder, salt, pepper, etc.
Cooking spray, vegetable or coconut oil

Makes 10-12 servings.

Homemade Pizza Dough

October 19, 2016

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If your family is anything like my family, they never say no to pizza for dinner. While ordering from the local pizzeria is easy and certainly delicious, sometimes it’s more fun to get creative in the kitchen whipping up a fresh, homemade pizza!! The ingredients are few, the time is minimal and the result is scrumptious!

In a large mixing bowl, add the warm water, sugar and yeast. Give it a quick stir then let sit for 5 minutes. Next, add the flour and salt and, using a rubber spatula, mix your ingredients until it turns into a shaggy dough. Form it into a ball and place in a lightly oiled mixing bowl. Cover with Saran wrap and let the dough rise for 1½ hours (dough should roughly double in size).

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Once dough has risen, knead on a lightly floured work surface for 5 minutes adding flour a little at a time if the dough is too sticky. Form into a ball again and, using a rolling pin and a little more flour, roll the dough out to your desired thickness (thin crust? Neapolitan style?). The dough will puff up as it cooks so err more on the thinner side. Put your rolled out dough on a pizza pan (or a rimless cookie sheet if you don’t have a pan) and preheat your oven to 450º.

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Now the fun part: what are you going to top your pizza with?? Mozzarella, tomatoes and fresh basil? Traditional pepperoni? Four cheese? The possibilities are only limited by your taste buds!

Once you have topped your pizza with all your delicious fixings, bake for 15-20 minutes, or until your desired crunchiness (is that a word?) .

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Ingredients:

¾ cup warm water
½ tsp white cane sugar
1 tsp active dry yeast
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1½ tsp kosher salt
1-2 tsp oil for the bowl (olive or vegetable)
Toppings of your choice

In my house, you have to act fast if you want seconds….

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Carrot Top Pesto

August 15, 2016

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This post is near and dear to my heart, a cause I believe we should all rally around: the end to food waste! In the United States alone, we throw out roughly 40% of our food annually. That waste ends up in our landfills breaking down into methane (a greenhouse gas) which, as we all know, goes into our atmosphere and aids in global warming. By making a few changes in how we shop and view food, we can all help eliminate some of the food wasted every day. As an example, think carrot tops. You can either buy carrots topless (oh la la) or those that have tops get trimmed immediately and the tops tossed in the garbage. This simple recipe uses those otherwise tossed out tops to create a delicious pesto! Try it on your favorite pasta dish, as a spread on your sandwich, or tossed over your vegetables (I slather the pesto over roasted carrots, see photo↓). I hope this post inspires you to think before tossing in the future!

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Begin by washing and trimming your carrot tops, cutting away the woody stems (compost or feed these to your guinea pig!). Cut the remaining greens into 1-2″ pieces. Add to the food processor along with the garlic and walnuts.

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Pulse the mixture a few times until you get a fine consistency.

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Add the parmesan cheese and mix again, this time adding the olive oil through the feed tube. Lastly, add the lemon juice and blend until smooth. Season with salt if desired.

 

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Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, if it lasts that long!

Ingredients:

1 cup carrot tops, trimmed and diced
1-2 garlic cloves (depending on how garlicy you like it)
½ cup walnuts
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup parmesan cheese
1 tsp lemon juice
dash of sea salt if desired

Makes roughly ¾ cup

Panzanella Salad

July 27, 2016

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I had the most amazing lunch today! It was so delicious that I knew immediately I had to share it with you guys ASAP! Part of the fun was picking the tomatoes, cucumbers and basil fresh from my vegetable garden (warm from the sun, mind you). But this salad would be just as good if you get your ingredients from the farmer’s market or your local grocery store — just try to buy the freshest vegetables you can find. The idea for this salad all started because I had half a leftover baguette from dinner last night and as I was grilling up the bread to make homemade croutons, the Panzanella Salad idea came to mind! Every bite was a sigh of yuuummmm….so much so I’m making it again tomorrow!!

Start by making the vinaigrette dressing: see my recipe under the Salads and Dressings category. Once made, set aside. Next it’s time to make the crusty bread. See my recipe for Homemade Croutons under the Condiments section for instructions. (How useful is this blog?) When the bread is grilled to perfection, set aside. Lastly, slice and dice your vegetables and basil and put them in a mixing bowl. Add the crusty croutons and give everything a good stir.

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Slowly pour the vinaigrette dressing over the salad and toss. Let the salad sit for a few minutes before serving so the bread soaks up some of that delicious vinaigrette dressing you just made.

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Serve individual plates garnished with basil sprigs for a nice added touch!!

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[As a side — I like to add fresh mozzarella to this salad. It’s not a traditional Panzanella but so what!! Other interesting ideas you can add to this salad are capers, red or green peppers, feta cheese, or olives.]

Ingredients:

2 cups or so crusty croutons (see my recipe for Homemade Croutons in  Condiments category)
20-25 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
½ cup fresh basil chiffonade (more as a garnish if desired)
½ English cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
½ red onion, thinly sliced
¼ cup vinaigrette dressing (see my recipe for Vinaigrette Dressing in Salads and Dressings section)

Optional: fresh baby mozzarella balls, sliced in half (or any other add in you desire)

Makes roughly four servings 

Roasted Radishes

July 19, 2016

 

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I know, I know. I have been quite slacking these past many months….but I am back!! I have accumulated many new recipes that I can’t wait to share with you all!! Not that you need to hear any excuses for the lack of posts, but I have been busy working on an exciting new project (I’ll share details when I can) and building my social media presence (something bloggers have to do supposedly…). Now that I am back, I want to share a very easy yet totally cool new recipe: Roasted Radishes. It’s summer and there is an abundance of radishes either in your garden or at the farmer’s markets. And while radishes are great added to salads or used with dips, have you ever thought about roasting them? They kind of look like new potatoes but their flavor is uniquely their own. Roasting totally transforms their crunchy, peppery flavor turning them soft and almost sweet. Give them a try and let me know what you think!

Take your bunch of radishes and trim the tops and bottoms. Give them a good scrubbing so they are nice and clean. Slice each one in half putting them in a single layer in a roasting pan. Generously add olive oil stirring to coat each radish half. Next, sprinkle the them with salt, pepper and thyme. Roast at 375º for 15-20 minutes (they are done when you can easily pierce with a knife). Remove from oven and squeeze fresh lemon juice all over. Top with parsley and serve immediately. What a unique side dish you just created!!

Ingredients:

One bunch of radishes
1 tbsp olive oil (more if needed)
1-2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
2-3 tsp fresh thyme
Juice from one half of a lemon
1-2 teaspoon parsley (fresh or dried)

Chicken Pot Pie

January 22, 2016

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Talk about an easy dinner!  One pot to clean up and very little prep time to get this Chicken Pot Pie on the dinner table. To me, it’s the perfect solution to a quick, delicious homemade dinner. Some of you may remember the days when you would put a frozen pot pie in the oven and wait for what seemed like hours only to take that first bite and scorch your tongue….well, this is not that pot pie!! A couple of things make this a quick go to dinner: first, I use a store cooked rotisserie chicken and second, I use a pre-made, refrigerated pie crust. Judge me if you want but sometimes you need shortcuts in life!!

In a large stock pot, melt the butter and saute the carrots, celery, onion, garlic and spices. Cook for 5 minutes, or until the vegetables soften. Add the  frozen peas, cooked chicken, mushroom soup and water and stir to blend. Cook over low-medium heat for 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat and pour the mixture into a pie plate letting it cool for a few minutes (helps if the filling is not piping hot when putting the uncooked pie crust on top).  Fold the pie crust over the filling and crimp the edges. Poke a few holes in the crust to vent and brush the egg wash over entire crust. Place the pot pie on a cookie sheet and bake in a preheated 375º oven for 30 minutes (or until crust is golden brown). Now dig in!! I promise you won’t scorch your tongue.

Ingredients:

2 tbsp butter
½ cup carrots, diced
½ cup celery, diced
½ cup yellow onion, diced
2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp basil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
½ cup frozen peas
2 cups cooked chicken, cut into bite size pieces
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can water
1 pie crust
egg wash (1 egg whisked with 2 tbsp water)

Serves six

Carrot Ginger Soup

November 17, 2015

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It’s almost Thanksgiving. To me that means it’s time to scour food magazines, pinterest, instagram — anywhere I can get new, fresh ideas for such a traditional meal. I love the basics but with a twist. So here’s one for you…instead of the traditional butternut squash soup, why not try my Carrot Ginger Soup! It has the same creamy texture (with no cream mind you) and it’s such a healthy, flavorful soup. It makes the perfect Thanksgiving lunch if you’re like me and want something super light yet satisfying before the big dinner. However, it also makes a lovely first course if you enjoy serving soup to begin your Thanksgiving meal. I like to top my soup with fresh, crispy sage leaves* — they are so incredibly delicious on their own but when paired with this soup…WOW! You could also top the soup with toasted pine nuts, garlic croutons, or even something as simple as snippets of fresh parsley. If you’re artistic, try a dollop of plain greek yogurt swirled in a fancy design (an image of a turkey comes to mind).

Begin by sauteing the shallots in 2 tablespoons of olive oil for roughly 2-3 minutes. Next, add the diced carrots, stirring often as they cook. When the carrots start to soften, add the minced ginger, garlic, salt and pepper. Heat for an additional 5 minutes, being careful not to let the ginger or garlic burn. Add your broth, cumin and paprika and bring to a rapid boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Lastly, turn off the heat and using an immersion blender puree the soup until creamy. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.

Ingredients:

2-3 shallots, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 lb mini carrots, diced
1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
4 cups broth (vegetable or chicken)
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp paprika

Makes roughly 4 servings.

* To make the crispy sage, brown 2 tbsp of salted butter in a skillet. When the butter is nicely browned and bubbly add the fresh sage leaves and cook until crispy (5 minutes max). Tastes so good, you’ll eat them like candy!!

A study in orange shadows…

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Lighter Chicken Salad Dressing

July 31, 2015

 

FullSizeRenderSummertime for me is picnics on the beach, lunch al fresco and light dinners under the stars. My go to dish for any and all of these meals is chicken salad. It’s so versatile, going from a bountiful summer salad, to a grab and go sandwich, to a snack atop a cracker! Its only major complaint: the fattening mayonnaise… Trying to be as healthy as I can, I fix this problem in two ways: first, I use a healthy alternative “mayonnaise” (check out Just Mayo — trust me, I love real mayo and this stuff tastes just like it but it’s a whole lot healthier!); second, I use half the amount of mayonnaise substituting plain greek yogurt (which we all know is good for you). This combo makes for a tangy, lighter version of traditional chicken salad!!

To make the dressing, whisk all the ingredients together to blend well. Refrigerate until ready to dress your chicken salad. You will need 2 to 2 ½ cups cooked, chopped chicken to go with your salad dressing. When ready, make your chicken salad like you always do — for me, it’s definitely a mixture of minced red onions and walnuts!! What are your secret ingredients?

Ingredients:

½ cup Just Mayo (or if you must use mayonnaise use a light version)
½ cup plain greek yogurt
2 tsp. grainy mustard
½ tsp. garlic salt
¼ tsp. cracked black pepper
1 tsp. fresh or dried parsley
½ tsp. onion powder
A dash or two of Worcestershire sauce

Makes roughly 1 cup of dressing.

Makes a delicious chicken salad to accompany all your freshly picked garden vegetables!

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Or, perhaps a sandwich on the patio?

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Summertime Iced Coffee

June 3, 2015

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I’m adding a new category today — Drinks!! Yea, this will be fun. There are so many options out there: cold drinks for the dog days of summer, warm drinks to soothe your numb fingers, and flirty cocktails for any festivity! Please pass along any requests or ideas, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

I decided to add this cold brew coffee recipe as a post (even though it is so incredibly simple) because even the most basic recipes need posting sometimes. For the longest time I was making iced coffee by brewing a pot of coffee then letting it chill. It was ok, but just ok. The cold brew process is so simple, as all it really demands is time for “brewing” in the refrigerator, and produces such delicious flavors.

In a large pitcher, add 1 cup ground coffee (if you’re grinding it yourself, make it coarse) to 4 cups water. Filtered water is preferred but not required. Give it a quick stir and then set in refrigerator for at least 12 hours. When ready, pour the liquid through a strainer or cheese cloth into a bowl to remove the coffee grounds. I repeat this process a few times to make sure I remove all the gritty coffee grounds. When the coffee is clean of the grounds, pour the reserved liquid into a pitcher. Your coffee is now ready to use! Taste the coffee and adjust with additional water if too strong for your liking. The coffee will keep for up to 4 weeks if refrigerated.

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Add whatever fixings you like to your drink then get outside and enjoy your delicious
glass of refreshing Summertime Iced Coffee!!

Ingredients:

1 cup ground coffee
4 cups cold (preferably filtered) water

Makes 4+ cups of Iced Coffee