Cool off with some Spicy Fish Tacos & Summer Wine pairings

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Spicy Fish Tacos
Spicy Fish Tacos

There’s an interesting theory that in the Summertime heat, eating spicy foods actually lowers your body temperature as well as a plethora of other health benefits such as raising your metabolism, improving digestion, mood and aids in better sleep. For a recent photoshoot I did for Miditto.com, we decided to pair some of their monthly wine selections with a spicy dish – and what better than some delicious fish tacos made with a kickin’ spice rub and a fresh mango-avocado-jalapeno salsa?

You can always adjust the heat by increasing or decreasing the amount of cayenne red pepper (or omit it all together if you like the spice flavor without the heat), and to be perfectly honest this spice rub and fruity fresh salsa combination would go great with grilled chicken or shrimp too! I used tilapia for this recipe but you can also substitute any other mild flaky white fish such as cod, orange roughy, flounder, halibut or haddock.

Spicy Fish Tacos
Spicy Fish Tacos

Garnish the tacos with some extra cilantro, jalapeñosfresh cracked black pepper. Some sliced red cabbage would also add a little bit of fresh crunch too. Add a splash of fresh lime juice, a dollop of  chipotle cream (recipe follows) — both great toppings to cool the spicy heat!

Rose wine

For wine pairing, Miditto recommends a crisp Sauvignon Blanc, a light dry Rose, a fruity Riesling, a bold red Zinfandel or spicy Shiraz to compliment the spicy flavors of the dish.

Read more about the best Summer Wines on Food & Wine

Read more about the health benefits of eating spicy foods

Cool off with some Spicy Fish Tacos & Summer Wine pairings

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: Serves 4.

Serving Size: 1 taco

Spicy Fish Tacos with Mango, Avocado & Jalapeño Salsa and Chipotle Crema. Perfectly paired with Summer white wine or rose to cool the heat!

Ingredients

  • Spicy Fish Fillets:
  • 1/2 tbsp cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound white fish fillets (cod, tilapia,haddock)
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • Avocado-Mango-Jalapeno Salsa:
  • 1 cup sliced peeled avocado
  • 2/3 cup finely chopped peeled ripe mango
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, thinly sliced (optional)
  • 1 cup red cabbage, shredded (optional)
  • 1 lime, fresh juice of for garnish 8 (6-inch) corn or flour tortillas
  • Chipotle Crema:
  • 1/2 cup low-fat sour cream or plain yogurt
  • 1 tbsp low-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons chipotle pepper (finely chopped) in adobo sauce
  • fresh lime juice from 1/2 lime
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Prepare Spicy Fish:
  2. Wash fish fillets and pat dry, set aside.
  3. Prep all fresh ingredients (chop garlic, herbs, fruit, onions, avocado, etc.) and set aside.
  4. Measure out all dry spices (cumin, 1/2 teaspoon salt, paprika, cayenne, black pepper) and add to a mixing bowl, combine well. Rub spices over fish and let sit covered in plastic wrap for about 10-15 minutes in the refrigerator.
  5. Cook fish in a skillet with oil for about 2 minutes on each side (check to make sure the fish is done by cutting a slit in the thickest part. If still pink, cook another minute or so until done). Keep the fish warm tented with some foil on a side plate while preparing the salsa.
  6. Avocado-Mango-Jalapeno Salsa:
  7. To make the salsa, add together the rest of the salt (1/4 teaspoon), avocado, mango, onions, cilantro, lime juice, red pepper and jalapeño (if using).
  8. Rub a small amount of canola oil on the tortillas on both sides and heat in a skillet over medium-low. (You can also put them in the microwave for about 1 minute or warm them in the oven at 350 for about 5-10 minutes).
  9. Cut the fish into medium size pieces and add them to the tortillas. Top each taco with a couple tablespoons of the mango-jalapeno-avocado salsa.
  10. For garnishes, add a squeeze of fresh lime juice, cilantro, jalapeno slices, cabbage, salt and pepper to taste.
  11. For a little extra flavor, add a drizzle of chipotle cream or top with a dollop of sour cream to cool the spicy heat.
  12. Chipotle Crema:
  13. In a small to medium mixing bowl, add all ingredients and mix together well. If you like a smoother cream texture, throw everything into a blender or food processor until blended well. Add chipotle cream to a squeeze bottle or plastic bag with a hole cut from one of the corners and squeeze over top of the tacos, or add a dollop of sour cream as a cool topping. Makes 1/2 cup.

Notes

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light, May 2012

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Veggie, Bacon & Cheese Tarts in a Toasted Quinoa Crust

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Veggie, Bacon & Cheese Quinoa Tarts

I love making savory tarts and pies, but unfortunately I don’t love the carbs and calories that come along with them. It’s also Summertime, and I’m trying to cook and eat lighter than usual…and the Fall season will come soon enough with all that yummy comfort food!

Quinoa Tart 1

I’ve been experimenting lately with alternatives to pasta and dough – things like zucchini, cauliflower, almond flour, and quinoa. Not only are they lighter, but also , gluten-free and less carbs than traditional flours and equally as satisfying and tasty!

Veggie, Bacon & Cheese Quinoa Tarts

I found a recipe on Cooking Light for a savory Fall tart made in a toasted quinoa crust and decided to experiment a little with the crust, fillings and flavors. MISSION ON.

Toasted Quinoa

I love the flavor of the nutty toasted quinoa, which is done in the oven and gives a nice depth of flavor and crunch to the tart crust.

Toasted Quinoa Tart Shells

I mixed in some Bob’s Red Mill almond flour, corn starch, Parmesan cheese and an egg for binding the quinoa, then added a little garlic salt and olive oil to bring it all together for the crust. Then I pressed the quinoa mixture into four small tart pans and baked for about 10 minutes before filling them and baking again.

Mascarpone & Cheddar

While the tart crusts were baking, I made a savory filling with mascarpone and cheddar cheese and spooned in this delightful cheesy goodness on to the par-baked crusts.

Crispy Cooked Bacon

I also cooked up some crispy gorgeous bacon in the oven while the tarts were baking..(for about 20 minutes or so)..

Top with Crispy Bacon

then chopped it to pieces and layered it on top of the cheeses. HELLO PRETTIES. Come to me.

Blanched Cauliflower and Peas

Next I started filling the tarts with my blanched cauliflower and baby peas,

Veggie Tart fillings

more Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of olive oil,

Ready to bake the tarts again

popped them back in the oven..

Tarts Cooling

and baked these cuties for another 5-10 minutes and let them cool on a wire rack for a few…

Tarts cooling

the anticipation of these delicious things in my mouth is MOUNTING.

Cooked Quinoa Tarts

Once the tarts were cooled a bit, I garnished them with some fresh chopped basil, chives and freshly cracked black pepper and a few red pepper flakes. Mini Green Goddesses!

Veggie, Bacon & Cheese Quinoa Tarts

And Oh Holy Delicious.

Veggie Bacon & Cheese Tarts in a Toasted Quinoa Crust

This is a great base recipe for any savory tart really – feel free to substitute different fillings for the tarts depending on the season..butternut squash and spinach in the Fallcorn, tomatoes and zucchini in the Summer… roasted carrotspotatoes and Gruyere in the Winter..asparagus and leeks in the Spring…oh, the ideas are endless!

Veggie Bacon & Cheese Tarts in a Toasted Quinoa Crust

Veggie, Bacon & Cheese Tarts in a Toasted Quinoa Crust

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: Makes four 4 5/7-inch tarts

Serving Size: 1 tart

This is a gluten-free tart recipe made with a toasted quinoa crust, filled with a savory filling of mascarpone and cheddar cheese, bacon, cauliflower, peas topped with Parmesan, and fresh basil and chives.

Ingredients

  • Toasted Quinoa Tart Crust:
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup almond meal flour
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • Cooking spray
  • Tart Filling:
  • 1 cup cauliflower florets
  • 1 cup baby green peas, frozen
  • 4-5 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese (Cheddar, Jack, or Gouda)
  • 4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced chives, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Make the Toasted Quinoa Tart Crusts:
  2. Preheat oven to 350°.
  3. Place quinoa on a baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes or until golden brown; cool.
  4. Place half of quinoa in a food processor; pulse 30 seconds.
  5. Transfer to a large bowl. Add remaining toasted quinoa, almond meal, cornstarch, and salt to bowl; stir to combine.
  6. Add oil and egg; stir until mixture is crumbly but holds together when pressed.
  7. Press into bottom and up sides of four 4 5/7-inch removable-bottom fluted tart pans coated with cooking spray.
  8. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes or until golden, but not completely cooked (you will put them back in the oven later after you fill them with the veggies, bacon and cheese.)
  9. Prep the Tart fillings:
  10. While the tart crusts are baking, chop the cauliflower into small florets and measure out the baby peas.
  11. Blanch the veggies in boiling water for about 2-3 minutes, then drain and rinse them in very cold water or shock them in an ice bath, set aside.
  12. Cook the bacon and drain, chop into small chunks, set aside.
  13. Measure out the mascarpone, Cheddar and Parmesan cheese, and chop basil and chives, set aside.
  14. Fill the Tart Crusts:
  15. Spread the mascarpone cheese evenly in bottom of each tart crust.
  16. Top each tart with shredded cheese, then crumbled bacon.
  17. Arrange cauliflower and peas evenly over cheese and bacon mixture on the tarts and drizzle with some olive oil, Parmesan cheese and black pepper.
  18. Bake tarts for another 5-7 minutes in the oven.
  19. Remove tarts from the pans; cool completely on a wire rack.
  20. Garnish with fresh chopped basil and chives, serve warm.

Notes

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light, Nov 2014.

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Other Tart Recipes you might enjoy:

Savory Harvest Fall Tart

Quinoa Tart with Zucchini & Sundried Tomato Dressing

Gluten-Free Tomato Tart

Gluten-Free Spinach and Onion Tart

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Food Styling & Food Photography: New Client Work

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I’ve been crazy busy this Spring and Summer so far with new food styling and food photography client projects which is a great thing, but doesn’t leave me as much time for my blog as I’d like! Here are some new client shoots I’ve done over the past few months :)

Tavern on Jane Food and Restaurant Shoot  – NYC

Food photography for Tavern on Jane’s new website and marketing materials.

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Baum-Essex Private Label Product Packaging Shoot – NYC

Food styling and photography for private label product packaging and advertising.

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Country Crock Food Shoot – NYC

Food styling and photography for internal marketing materials and brand identity guides.

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Cloverleaf Tavern Food Shoot – NJ

Food photography for website and marketing materials and advertising.

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Kikkoman TV Segment on OK Television – NYC

Food styling for Father’s Day and July 4 TV segment with Kikkoman’s Head Chef Helen.

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Yura Bakery and Catering Food Photo Shoot – NYC

Food photography for website and internal marketing materials.

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Stay tuned for more new work and client projects – I’ll keep posting from time to time :)

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Shrimp, Basil & Corn Zucchini Noodles w/ Meyer Lemon Cream Sauce

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Zucchini Noodles 1

Hello Summer! And hello to the season for lighter food and flavors and quality time at the beach and the pool (READ: also time for shorts and sundresses and to lose a few to fit into the bathing suit!)

Zucchini Noodles 10

I’ve been craving pasta lately because i’ve been cutting down on carbs a bit, but I’ve had this cool Veggetti noodle tool in my pantry for a few months and thought it would be the perfect opportunity to make some Zucchini Noodles (AKA “zoodles”), and tie in some fresh ingredients from the season such as shrimp and corn and basil.

Zucchini Noodles 8

This dish screams creamy comfort food, but is balanced out with a clean, citrus-y brightness with a Meyer Lemon cream sauce made with mascarpone cheese, Meyer lemon juice and zest, lemongrass chicken broth, white wine, sweet basil olive oil and garlic. The lightness of these zucchini noodles are also totally amazing, rather than a heavy pasta that will put you to sleep in .02 seconds.

Zucchini Noodles 3

I love Meyer lemons because they are delicate and less sour than regular lemons and almost mimic the flavor of lemon and orange juice mixed together, which you can absolutely do if you can’t find Meyer lemons or they aren’t in season. I ordered mine on Fresh Direct which always has everything in stock and delivers on top of that!

Zucchini Noodles

Prep your zucchini noodles with a Veggetti or Spiralizer on a cutting board or over a large mixing bowl. I suggest squeezing out any excess water from them before sauteing (you can let them sit in a colander to extract water for about 15 minutes or so). You might also want to cut the strand piles in half to make them easier to manage and eat. Sauté the noodles in some olive oil with red pepper flakes and garlic for a few minutes and set aside.

LemonZest-Juice

Zest and juice one Meyer lemon to add to the cream sauce. Look at that vivid color! LOVE.

Prep Shrimp

Sprinkle some salt and pepper over the shrimp and sauté in some olive oil for couple minutes until they are pink and set aside. Don’t overcook them though because you will add them back in to the sauce later on and you don’t want tough rubbery shrimp.

Lemon Sauce Ingredients

Prep ingredients for the Meyer Lemon Cream sauce and add the white wine, chicken broth, Meyer lemon juice and zest to the saute pan with leftover juices from the shrimp. Stir and simmer over medium heat for until the liquid reduces by half.

Meyer Lemon Sauce

Add the corn, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and cook for a few minutes until heated through. I used frozen sweet corn but you can use fresh corn too which might take a little longer to cook (or you can precook the fresh corn and add the kernels into the sauce).

Add Mascarpone, Shrimp and Basil

Stir in the mascarpone cheese and blend together until it turns into a gorgeous, silky and creamy sauce. Toss in the shrimp and basil. Isn’t that pretty?

Zucchini Noodles 6

Serve over the zucchini noodles with additional basil and lemon zest and get ready to DEVOUR.

Zucchini Noodles 7

Alternatively you can toss the zucchini noodles in to the pan with the sauce and shrimp and corn and mix it all together to serve as a one pot dish. I prefer keeping the noodles separate from the sauce so they don’t get too mushy, personally.

Zucchini Noodles 5

Garnish with some extra basil and lemon zest and serve with a glass of white wine (I particularly like McBride Sisters Truvee Chardonnay who were kind enough to send me a sample which I LOVED), and some crusty bread to mop up that yum sauce, if you wish. Light, bright, healthy and delicious!

Shrimp, Basil & Corn Zucchini Noodles w/ Meyer Lemon Cream Sauce

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Yield: Serves 4

Serving Size: 1 cup of noodles with sauce

This is a super healthy and totally delicious low carb option to pasta. It features sautéed zucchini noodles smothered in a Meyer Lemon cream sauce with shrimp, corn and fresh basil. It's light and bright and the perfect dish for Summer with a glass of white wine and some toasty bread to mop up the sauce.

Delicious!!

Ingredients

  • Zucchini Noodles:
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (7 Barrels Basil olive oil)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • Shrimp:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2-3/4 pounds medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Garlic salt and Pepper, to taste
  • Meyer Lemon Cream Sauce:
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • Zest and juice of 1 Meyer Lemon
  • 1/2 cup white wine (Truvee Chardonnay)
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth (Pacific Foods Lemongrass Bone Both)
  • 2/3 cup Mascarpone cheese
  • 3/4 cup sweet corn kernels (frozen or fresh)
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • Fresh Basil, for garnish
  • Additional lemon zest, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Make the Zucchini Noodles:
  2. Using a Veggeti or Spiralizer vegetable cutter, cut both zucchini into medium large noodles over a cutting board or large bowl.
  3. Form the vegetable pasta into two piles and cut each in half to create shorter, easy to manage strands.
  4. Heat olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat and sauté the garlic for a minute or so, being careful not to burn.
  5. Add the zucchini noodles, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper and cook for a few minutes to your desired consistency.
  6. Remove noodles from the heat into a medium bowl and set aside while you cook the shrimp.
  7. Prepare the Shrimp:
  8. In the same sauce pan, heat another tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat.
  9. Sprinkle some garlic salt and pepper on to the shrimp, and add shrimp to the pan cooking for about 3 minutes, stirring often so they cook evenly.
  10. Remove the shrimp with a slotted spoon and transfer to a small bowl while you make the Meyer Lemon cream sauce.
  11. Meyer Lemon Cream Sauce:
  12. Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in the same large sauce pan over medium heat.
  13. Add the additional garlic and cook for about 2 minutes.
  14. Add the lemon juice, zest, chicken broth and wine and let simmer down until reduced, about 3 minutes.
  15. Add the corn kernels, salt and pepper and heat through another minute or two, then stir in the Mascarpone cheese until you get a silky, creamy sauce.
  16. Add the cooked shrimp, zucchini noodles and basil; toss to coat. (You can also keep the zucchini noodles separate from the shrimp, corn and basil with Meyer Lemon sauce and spoon it over the noodles in bowls which keeps the noodles from getting mushy in the sauce which is how i prefer serving them.)
  17. Serve with additional basil and lemon zest, and a glass of Chardonnay or dry Italian wine and some crusty bread to mop up the sauce.

Notes

This would also be a delicious sauce over any pasta, and if you're a vegetarian you could substitute the shrimp for another vegetable or legumes for some protein. If you can't find Meyer lemons or they aren't in season, simply mix some orange juice into the lemon juice to give it a similar flavor.

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Zucchini Noodles with Shrimp, Basil and Corn in Meyer Lemon Cream SauceZucchini Noodles 9

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Other similar recipes you might enjoy:

Shrimp Scampi Pasta

Shrimp and Zucchini with Tomatoes 

Basil Shrimp Zucchini Pasta

Shrimp and Zucchini Risotto

Fettuccine with Shrimp and Zucchini

Note: I received a sample of McBride Sisters Truvee Chardonnay for tasting which inspired me to create this recipe and share with my readers. All opinions of the product are my own and I was not compensated for this post.

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A Birthday Pie for Dad: Lemon Icebox Pie w/ Raspberry-Blueberry Topping

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LemonBlueberryPie2

I just got back from a lovely 2 week vacation in Upstate New York (Rochester) visiting family and friends, which I normally do in the Summer. Not only is it the 4th of July holiday, but my Sister’s and Dad’s birthdays and a time to celebrate Summer!

Dads Birthday Pie

I decided to make my Dad a pie for his birthday because I know he loves them..he usually loves Lemon Meringue Pie but I thought I’d surprise him with a lovely Lemon Icebox Pie with a Blueberry-Raspberry Filling in a Graham Cracker crust.

Lemon Blueberry Pie1

The pie is made in a buttery graham cracker crust and has a light and luscious creamy lemon filling made with eggs, sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest that is mixed with condensed milk, buttermilk and whipped egg yolks. It’s topped with a homemade Blueberry-Raspberry Filling made with fresh berries, sugar and lemon zest and cooked into a yummy warm syrupy topping, along with some fluffy whipped cream to top it off.

It’s really easy to make and has a creamy tangy flavor that is balanced by the sweet berry topping a crunchy graham crust. Delicious! Here’s how to make it in a few easy steps:

Bake Pie Crust

Prepare the crust by mixing crushed graham crackers with melted butter, sugar and salt and pressing into a 9 inch pie pan. Bake at 325 for about 10 minutes until lightly browned, set aside to cool on wire rack.

Zest Lemons

Next make your lemon icebox pie filling by zesting some lemons,

Lemon Pie Filling

and whisking the lemon zest and lemon juice with the condensed milk.

Whip Egg Buttermilk Filling

Next you will beat your egg yolks for about 5 minutes until ribbons form, and gradually whisk in condensed milk mixture and buttermilk, and pour into prepared graham crust.

Pie Cooling

Bake the pie for about 20-25 minutes at 325 degrees F, and let cool completely on a wire rack for about an hour.

Cook Berry Filling

While the pie is cooling, make your fresh berry filling by adding 2 cups of fresh berries (I used raspberries and blueberries, but you can use any berries you wish) to a medium saucepan along with some lemon zest, sugar and water. Cook the berry mixture on medium-low for about 10 minutes until the berries breakdown and a syrupy texture forms.

Berry Filling

Let the berry filling cool completely and keep cool in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Lemon Blueberry Pie 3

Let the pie freeze for about 4-6 hours (make sure to spray some plastic wrap and cover well first). Once ready to eat, just top pie with mixed berries and whipped cream and let the party begin!

A Birthday Pie for Dad: Lemon Icebox Pie w/ Raspberry-Blueberry Topping

Total Time: 6 hours, 15 minutes

Yield: 8

A luscious and light lemony pie in a graham cracker crust with macerated raspberries and blueberries topped with whipped cream.

Ingredients

  • Graham Cracker Crust:
  • 1 1/2 cups crushed graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • Lemon Icebox Pie Filling:
  • 1 (14-ounce) can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • Raspberry-Blueberry Topping:
  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • Dash of vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Prepare Pie Crust:
  2. Preheat oven to 325 F.
  3. Pour graham cracker crumbs in a large mixing bowl and add sugar, salt and melted butter.
  4. Mix well and press into the bottom of a greased 9-inch pie pan.
  5. Bake crust for 8 to 10 minutes and let cool completely on a wire rack. (Can also freeze for up to an hour while preparing pie filling and topping).
  6. Prepare Lemon Icebox Pie Filling:
  7. Whisk together lemon zest, juice and condensed milk in a mixing bowl, set aside.
  8. In another large mixing bowl, beat egg yolks with a mixer on high speed, until ribbons form and they become pale (for about 5 minutes).
  9. Whisk in condensed milk and lemon mixture slowly and gradually until thoroughly combined, then whisk in buttermilk.
  10. Pour mixture into cooled graham cracker crust and bake at 325 degrees F for about 20-25 minutes until filling is set.
  11. Let pie cool on a wire rack for an hour, then cover with a greased saran wrap and freeze at least 4 hours.
  12. Prepare Raspberry-Blueberry Topping:
  13. Place all the berries and rest of ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
  14. Once berries come to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes until berry mixture thickens (stirring often).
  15. Let berry topping cool completely and store in the fridge (covered) until ready to use.
  16. Top the pie with berry topping and whipped cream.

Notes

You can substitute any berries you like for the pie topping, and also use cracker crumbs, vanilla wafers or gingersnaps in place of the graham crackers for the crust.

Recipe adapted from Lisa Donovan, Southern Living Magazine - June 2015

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Dad's Birthday Pie

We also had a great lunch for Dad’s birthday at Phillip’s European before we had this pie for dessert. Fun delicious day! :)

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Food Styling & Photography: #DineintheDarkNYC Event @CitizenM!

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Dine in the Dark Experience - CitizenM + The Artful Gourmet

I recently hosted a super fun Dine in the Dark Event at CitizenM hotel in Times Square NYC. They invited me to host the event by presenting some delicious nibbles and foodie creations to serve to a great group of food bloggers to do a blind tasting.

Food Blogger doing blind tasting

The idea was to pair flavors and tastes that the bloggers had to experience and guess, which were all revealed at the end of the dining experience by me.

Dine in the Dark Experience

I made 7 different small bites for the bloggers to do the tasting of: Blue Cheese, Apple and Walnut Salad in Endive, Manchego & Fig Jam Tarts, Sesame Sriracha Chicken Bites, Prosciutto, Melon & Feta Mini Skewers, Strawberry-Watermelon Coconut Rum Shooters, Smoked Salmon with Chive Sour Cream & Dill on Cucumber Rounds, and Tart Cherry Pistachio Honey Energy Balls.

CitizenM rooftop CloudBar

CitizenM is a lovely modern hotel in the heart of Times Square, who let us have the space to do my event. They provided us afterwards with cocktails and more nibbles up on their rooftop CloudBar, where I gave a food styling and photography discussion and Q&A with the bloggers.

Food Styling + Photography Q&A - The Artful Gourmet

Everyone had a fantastic time and got the opportunity to learn some of my tips and tricks on food styling and food photography and how to break into the business. The group got to sample some tasty food, sip some delicious cocktails and meet new blogger friends from the city. All and all we had amazing views and it was a fun, lively evening for all.

CitizenM NYC Rooftop CloudBar

Thanks to CitizenM for being such a lovely and accommodating venue! And thanks to all the bloggers* that came and made the event a smashing success! *see list at end of post

Dine in the Dark NYC - The Artful Gourmet

Happy Summer and Cheers to all! Enjoy some photos from the event below and I’ll post my recipes soon – stay tuned! :)

All the Food Bloggers — thanks for coming and making the #DineintheDarkNYC event at #CitizenMnyc a fun time for all :)

@citizenM

@mealsandreels

@mizchefcooks

@NewYorkcliche

@_theblvd

@msrenelevyabdo

@maryinmanhattan

@PrettyPri

@spersaud04

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Shrimp & Veggie Pasta Salad with Lemon-Herb Vinaigrette

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Seashell Shrimp Salad

One of my favorite recipes to make for a summer BBQ or outdoor party is  Shrimp and Veggie Pasta Salad with Lemon-Herb Vinaigrette. It has a light, lemony herb dressing with fresh basil, parsley, dill and tarragon, along with a touch Dijon mustard, Champagne vinegar, olive oil and fresh lemon.

I love using big seashell pasta and adding plenty of fresh veggies including cucumbers, celery, roasted red peppers, grilled corn and scallions for crunch, and adding fresh sautéed shrimp, which you can also grill if you prefer. It goes perfectly with grilled chicken, burgers, skewers and fresh fruit like watermelon, pineapple and mango.

Shrimp

First cook your seashell pasta, drain and set aside. Then you can either grill the shrimp or sauté it for a few minutes in a large sauce pan with some fresh lemon, herbs, seasonings and olive oil and let cool while you prep the other ingredients.

corn

Season and grill the corn, shave off the kernels and add to the salad with the rest of the veggies (celery, cucumbers, roasted red peppers, green onions). Feel free to sub whatever fresh veggies you like to the salad to make it colorful and healthy!

dressing

Make the Lemon-Herb Vinaigrette by whisking together some extra virgin olive oil, Champagne vinegar, Dijon mustard, fresh lemon, salt and pepper and chopped fresh herbs.

Salad Ingredients

Pour over the pasta, veggies and shrimp in a large mixing bowl and fold together. I like to put the salad in the fridge and let the flavors meld together  – you can really taste the fresh herbs and zingy lemon when you let it sit together for a bit.

shrimp veggie pasta salad

So easy, so light and refreshing and perfect for a backyard BBQ or beach party.

Shrimp & Veggie Pasta Salad with Lemon-Herb Vinaigrette

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 6-8 servings

Serving Size: 1 cup

Ingredients

  • 1 pound of pasta (medium-large shells or rotini)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound small shrimp, peeled, cleaned and deveined, tails removed
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
  • Sea salt, to taste (for shrimp and salad dressing)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup champagne vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill or 1 tablespoon fresh dill
  • 1/4 cup fresh herbs, roughly chopped (tarragon, basil, parsley)
  • 2 fresh sweet corn cobs or 1 cup frozen
  • 1 cup English cucumber, diced
  • 2 ribs celery, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup roasted red peppers, diced
  • 2 lemon wedges, squeezed for garnish

Instructions

  1. Cook pasta in salted boiling water according to package directions (usually about 9-11 minutes for al dente). Drain, rinse under cool water and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Slice scallions and cook until soft about 5 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high; add one more tablespoon of oil then add shrimp, red pepper flakes, Old Bay seasoning and sea salt; sauté together stirring constantly until shrimp are opaque, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and set pan aside to let shrimp mixture cool.
  3. In a large mixing bowl add salt and pepper, vinegar, mustard, garlic, lemon juice and zest. Use the KitchenAid® 3-Speed Hand Blender with the whisk attachment to blend ingredients together and slowly pour in the olive oil in small amounts until the dressing is emulsified and mixed well. Chop the fresh herbs, mix into the Lemon-Herb dressing and set aside.
  4. Prepare the fresh corn by grilling it – add a little olive oil, salt and pepper, then char it over a medium-high grill for about 15 minutes. Shuck the cooked kernels off the cob and set aside in a separate mixing bowl. If using frozen sweet corn, simply boil in 1-2 tablespoons of water in a small pot over medium-high for 3-4 minutes, then drain and place into a bowl, set aside.
  5. Add the cucumbers and celery to the accompanying mixing bowl of the KitchenAid® 3-Speed Hand Blender, and pulse a few times until chopped into a small to medium dice. Chop each vegetable separately to avoid overfilling the blender bowl. Chop the roasted red pepper into medium diced pieces. Throw all the chopped veggies into a bowl and set aside.
  6. Pour the cooked pasta, shrimp and scallion mixture, corn and all the prepped veggies into a large mixing bowl and add the Lemon-Herb dressing. Gently mix all the ingredients together with a large spoon. Garnish pasta salad with additional chopped herbs, fresh lemon juice and additional salt and pepper to taste, if desired. Cover the bowl in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator or cooler until ready to serve.
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READ THE FULL POST ON THE KITCHENAID BLOG TO SEE HOW I MADE IT WITH MY KitchenAid® 3-Speed Hand Blender + TIPS FOR PLANNING THE PERFECT BEACH BASH

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How 3 NYC Restaurants are using Social Media creatively to break through the clutter

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Most restaurateurs are beginning to understand the power of social media and online marketing.

Running a print ad or spending money on television ads is expensive. Smart operators realize the importance of connecting with consumers and influencers, and how positive online engagement can affect their brand, business, foot traffic and reputation. Social media can be an effective communication tool to inform customers of daily specials, promotions, events, menus and more. But in a crowded online marketplace, how can you break through the clutter?

The three New York restaurant owners/marketers below give us real-world examples of what’s working for them, what tools they’re using, and successful campaign ideas they’ve implemented to increase online visibility and engagement.

Want to build customer loyalty and brand buzz? Here’s some inspiration.

Read my full story on Foodable: http://www.foodabletv.com/new-york-city/2015/6/23/how-3-nyc-restaurants-are-breaking-through-the-social-media-clutter#BYzSALiH8PWQbkbm.99

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5 New Good Food Companies to Watch in NYC

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Foodstand Event

On Monday, June 1st, Foodstand partnered with Slow Money NYC to host a special event called the Foodstand Spotlight Series, featuring five budding ‘good food’ entrepreneurs. Each took to the stage to share their business ideas and work, where in return they got advice from a panel of experts including investors, marketers and innovators.

Sweetist Co

The audience also provided the entrepreneurs with live feedback — advice and creative ideas to help them grow their businesses — via text polling. This will be an ongoing monthly event that will feature five of the newest and brightest in the food industry and help them shine.

Foodable Food Spread

The event was very inspiring and highly recommended for anyone in the food industry looking to expand their food companies, business networks, share new ideas and support ‘good food.’

Read my full story and meet the Food Stars on Foodable TV Network:

http://www.foodabletv.com/new-york-city/2015/6/4/5-new-good-food-companies-to-watch-in-nyc

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Cherry Coconut Key Lime Fizz Cocktail #SunsOutRumsOut

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Key Lime Cherry Coconut Fizz Cocktail

So it’s that time of year again…Memorial Day weekend has arrived and the beginning of Summer is not too far away!

Key Lime Cherry Coconut Fizz Cocktail

It’s time to soak up the sun, hit the beach, break out the grill and have a cookout and a cocktail on the patio or the beach with friends and family..my favorite time of year!

Key Lime Cherry Coconut Fizz Cocktail

I was lucky enough to be a part of a Captain Morgan Rum promotion this year to sample one of their new flavors and design a cocktail recipe featuring their delicious new Coconut Rum.  It’s a little bit sweet, creamy and has hints of citrus and tropical fruit with a hint of molasses flavor.

Key Lime Cherry Coconut Fizz Cocktail

I wanted to make a cocktail that was refreshing and flavorful but not too sweet and came up with this fun Cherry Coconut Key Lime Fizz cocktail. It’s made with the Captain Morgan coconut rum, tart cherry juice, key lime seltzer and a splash of fresh Cara Cara orange juice, key lime juice and a few slices of orange and lime for garnish.

Key Lime Cherry Coconut Fizz Cocktail

Kinda like lying on the beach soaking up the sun in the Caribbean – just my style.

Cherry Coconut Key Lime Fizz Cocktail

Ingredients

  • 1 part Captain Morgan Coconut Rum
  • 1 part tart cherry juice
  • 3 parts Key Lime Seltzer
  • Squeeze of fresh key lime juice
  • Squeeze of fresh Cara Cara orange juice
  • Key lime and orange slices, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Place a generous amount of ice into a glass.
  2. Pour the rum, cherry juice and seltzer into the glass and stir well.
  3. Squeeze the fresh lime and orange juice into the glass and garnish with extra limes and oranges.
  4. Makes 1 cocktail.
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Now get out in the sun and enjoy a cocktail or two! And check out their other two great new rum flavors – Grapefruit and Pineapple!

And just remember, when the #SunsOutRumsOut and it’s time to celebrate the beginning of Summer with the Captain!

Follow Captain Morgan on Facebook

Follow Captain Morgan on Twitter

 

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California Dreamin’ Grilled Cheese

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California Dreamin Grilled Cheese

So this is where I’m supposed to go on and on about how delicious this grilled cheese sandwich is. And what’s in it. And why it’s a rockstar recipe that nobody else has. And why you need to make it now.

But guess what? I just did a food photo shoot for a NYC catering company and bakery for the past 2 days and shot at least 1000 photos that need to be culled through and selected to share with my clients and it’s enough to make your head spin faster than Linda Blair in The Exorcist. AND the fact that the Mad Men finale is coming on in less than 2 hours and I have some catching up to do and some last savoring moments of Don Draper to hold on to while I can.

California Dreamin' Grilled Cheese 3

OK – so now that I got that off my chest, here’s a little ditty of a recipe that I whipped up on Friday afternoon for a grilled cheese contest I entered for Wisconsin Cheese. It’s actually quite lovely and spring-y and full of good things. Homemade Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote, strawberries, granny smith apples, grilled chicken paillards, kale with lemon and parmesan, honey dijon mustard, melted sharp white cheddar and gooey mozzarella cheese – all grilled on a whole wheat pita (actually 2 of them).

California Dreamin Grilled Cheese

It’s called California Dreamin’ Grilled Cheese because all the good things inside remind me of a sunny, breezy day on Pacific Beach in San Diego watching the sunset with a margarita in my hand with my toes in the sand, salty sea mist on my face, while basking in the glow and enjoying everything in life there is to offer. So here you go. Whether I win the contest or not – it’s absolutely fabulous, and will make you want to hop on a plane to the west coast and catch a few rays yourself.

Now back to my Sauvignon Blanc and Don Draper fix. Enjoy and Happy Sunday! :)

California Dreamin’ Grilled Cheese

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 whole wheat pitas
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 chicken breast, cut in half lengthwise and pounded thin
  • 1/2 cup strawberries, sliced
  • 1/2 cup green apple, sliced
  • 1 cup kale, chopped
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp Wisconsin Parmesan, shredded
  • Sea salt
  • Fresh cracked black pepper
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 4 slices Wisconsin Sharp Cheddar, sliced
  • 4 slices Wisconsin Mozzarella
  • 4 tablespoons Strawberry-Rhubarb compote
  • Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote:
  • 1 cup strawberries, sliced or chopped
  • 1 stalk rhubarb, sliced into small chunks
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon water

Instructions

  1. Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote:
  2. Stir strawberries, 1/8 cup sugar, and 1/2 tbsp lemon juice and 1/2 tbsp of water in a small nonreactive pan; bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook, stirring often, until softened, about 3 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.
  3. Add the rhubarb, 1/8 cup sugar, and 1/2 tbsp lemon juice and 1/2 tbsp of water back into same pan and simmer for about 6 minutes until rhubarb is tender and soft. Transfer rhubarb to same bowl as strawberries and add all liquid to the pan through a strainer.
  4. Raise heat to medium high and simmer until liquid thickens and reduces to almost half.
  5. Return strawberries and rhubarb to liquid and let cool.
  6. Make sandwich:
  7. Preheat olive oil in a grill pan or sauté pan to medium/high heat.
  8. Mix honey and mustard together in a small bowl and set aside.
  9. Rub chicken with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and grill chicken pieces for about 6-8 minutes until cooked through, remove from pan.
  10. Spread both pitas on one side with butter.
  11. Spread each pita on reverse side with honey Dijon mustard on a cutting board or piece of plastic wrap.
  12. Top with sliced mozzarella cheese slices.
  13. In a small bowl, toss kale, lemon juice, salt and pepper and place on top of each pita over Mozzarella.
  14. Top one pita with both pieces of grilled chicken.
  15. Drizzle Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote over the chicken.
  16. Layer on the sliced strawberries, apples and top with cheddar cheese slices.
  17. Top the sandwich with other piece of pita bread (butter side up) and place in preheated grill pan.
  18. Smash the sandwich together with a heavy spatula or panini press and grill on both sides until cheese is melted and pita is crispy.
  19. Cut in half and serve with additional Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote and Honey Dijon for dipping.
  20. Makes one sandwich.
  21. Note: you can make the Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote ahead of time and store in an airtight container in the fridge. You can also double the recipe to make more for other uses (great over vanilla ice cream, pancakes, whipped cream or greek yogurt and granola!!)
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