So it’s Friday. And a lovely Spring day. I was in the mood to make something lovely to eat, preferably with a sweet and savory twist. I’ve also been on a baking kick lately, not sure why but I’m loving experimenting with different flavors and textures of pizzas and tarts and pies.
I decided to make a delicious rustic pizza made with some redgrapes, shallots, sharp white cheddar and mozzarellacheese, and some thin cut Italianham. I simply rolled out some refrigerated pizza dough and then topped it off with some olive oil, all the pizza ingredients, and some fresh thyme.
I popped it into a 450 degree oven for about 20 minutes until all the cheese and crust was bubbly and golden brown, then finished this beauty off with some sea salt, freshly cracked black pepper, some fresh basil and drizzles of honey.
This is the best thing I have ever tasted in my life. Seriously. The contrast of the sweet grapes, shallots and honey with the sharp and tangy cheddar cheese and salty, crispy ham are like a true love affair…in Paris.
I’m thinking the only thing better than this would be an actual trip to Paris..on the top of the Eiffel Tower at sunset. With a chocolate croissant and cafe au lait in hand. With a really cute French guy. Ooh La La.
Aaah – a girl can dream, can’t she? (Happy Friday!)
Rustic Pizza with Ham, Grapes, Shallots, Cheese, Honey & Thyme
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Serving Size: 1 slice/wedge
1 package of refrigerated pizza dough (or homemade if you prefer)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, sliced thin
1/2 cup shredded Gruyere or Mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup shredded extra sharp White Cheddar cheese
4-6 thin slices Italian ham or prosciutto
1/2 cup red seedless grapes, cut in half
Red pepper flakes (optional)
Fresh basil leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Honey for drizzling
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Spray a pizza sheet with oil and stretch out pizza dough to the edges making a thin crust.
Drizzle the dough with olive oil and sprinkle with the shredded Mozzarella cheese. Add the sliced shallots, ham, grapes and White cheddar cheese on to the dough evenly. Top with some fresh thyme leaves and red pepper flakes.
Bake for about 20 minutes until cheese is bubbly and the crust is golden brown.
Top with fresh basil, sea salt, freshly cracked black pepper and drizzle with honey.
Cut into wedges and serve immediately.
You can also substitute prosciutto or bacon for the ham, and top with some fresh ricotta cheese if desired.
We sat around a big table in a private room upstairs and learned the techniques, traditions and passions behind producing a perfectly thin crispy Neapolitan pizza while sipping on Italian wines and making new friends.
We learned the intricacies behind making and kneading our own dough accustom to the Neapolitan style by making wells of flour filled with yeast water and the patient process of kneading using only 2 fingers as the dough slowly came together by kneading, mixing and adding more flour and water.
We watched Chef Chris toss pizza dough in the air and even tried it ourselves (too fun!).
We then made our own Margherita sauce made with San Marzano tomatoes from Italy, and topped off the pizzas with cubes of fresh cow’s milk Mozzarella and fresh basil before our pizzas were thrown delicately into a 900 degree oven on a pizza peel to reveal a perfectly crispy gorgeous pizza of bubbly cheesy goodness.
Layer the dough with sauce…
Add some delicious Fresh Cow’s Milk Mozzarella and Basil…
Patiently waiting for the oven…
And let the deliciousness devouring begin.
The story behind Neapolitan pizza goes like this: In June 1889, a Neapolitan tavern owner Raffaele Esposito served the Queen of Italy, Margherita of Savoy, a special dish named in her honor. The wood-fired Flatbread was topped with Melted Mozzarella, Tomato Sauce and Basil leaves, symbolizing the colors of the Italian Flag. The Queen was so pleased with her meal that she had a wood-fired “flat-bread oven” built into the palace. And history was made.
The art behind making a perfect, true Neapolitan pizza has become a standard practice with strict rules of approval. The Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana is a non-profit official governing association in Italy that maintains the standards and regulations of all Pizzaioli and Establshments serving Vera Napoletana Pizza. It was founded in Naples in 1984 by the oldest and well-known Neapolitan pizzaioli, and according to the “rules” proposed by them, there are specific ingredients and techniques that must be used to pass the official Italian seal of approval.
So just what are the secrets behind making that crispy crust with gooey cheese and succulent sauce? Here’s a few secrets from Restaurateur/Chef and native New Yorker, Nick Accardi of Tavola in Hell’s Kitchen:
Measure by weight rather than volume to get the perfect water to flour ratio for your crust. Many elements can change the density of ingredients such as age, storage temperature, or environmental climate. Measuring by weight assures the perfect hydration ratio.
Use double zero (type 00) flour which is a highly refined flour that has been milled to a standard “00” and completely free of bran or germ.
Use natural Neapolitan yeast or brewer’s yeast, sea salt and water. (New York City tap water is the BEST secret ingredient in making the perfect pizza dough!)
Keep yeast refrigerated and check the expiration date on the package to make sure it’s fresh.
The dough must be kneaded by hand or with a low-speed mixer.
Allow the dough to rise for 24 hours at room temperature. The bare minimum standard is 6 hours (after mixing let the dough rise for 2 hours, then hand cut and roll into small balls, let rise for 4 more hours).
After the rising process, the dough must be formed by hand without the help of a rolling pin or other machine, and may be no more than 3 millimeters (0.12 in) thick. Use your hands to gently work the dough from the center outward.
Use San Marzano tomatoes, which grow on the volcanic plains to the south of Mount Vesuvius, for the pizza sauce like a bona fide pro (easy to find in grocery stores or Italian markets).
Vera Napoletana Pizza must be made using only fresh, all-natural, non-processed ingredients including Fior di Latte (Cow’s Milk) or Bufala Mozzarella, fresh basil and drizzled with real Extra Virgin Olive Oil. You can find Genuine imported EVOO also at Italian markets such as Eataly or Tavola in NYC.
Less is More: Don’t drown a pizza in sauce and toppings. The most delicious pies use smaller portions of the highest quality of fresh ingredients.
A thin crust is the signature trait of Neapolitan pizza. While having a wood fired oven at home is not common these days, making your crust as thin as possible will allow for fast cooking time, which intensifies and seals in the flavors of each ingredient. Note: The Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana requires the thickness of the crust to be 1-2 cm.
The pizza must be baked for 60-90 seconds in a 905°F stone oven with an oak-wood fire. When cooked, it should be crispy, tender and fragrant.
There are three official variants to Neapolitan pizza: Pizza Marinara, which is made with tomato, garlic, oregano and extra virgin olive oil, Pizza Margherita, made with tomato, sliced mozzarella, basil and extra-virgin olive oil, and Pizza Margherita Extra made with tomato, mozzarella from Campania in fillets, basil and extra virgin olive oil.
1 (28-ounce) can whole San Marzano tomatoes, passed with juices through a food mill
12 ounces Mozzarella di Bufala (see note) or mozzarella fior di latte cheese, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
4 large or 8 small basil leaves
Extra virgin olive oil
Medium coarse sea salt
Special equipment: a pizza stone and peel
Make the dough: Sprinkle yeast over water; let stand until yeast is creamy, 5 to 10 minutes. (If yeast does not become creamy, discard and start over with new yeast.)
In a large bowl, whisk together flour and salt; form a well in center. Add yeast mixture and warm water; stir until dough just comes together. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead vigorously, for 10 minutes. Cover with a damp dish towel and let rest for 10 minutes, then knead vigorously for 10 minutes more. Lightly oil a large bowl. Form dough into a ball, transfer to bowl and turn to lightly coat with oil. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Punch down dough with your fist (dough will be stiff), then fold sides over one another, turn dough, tightly cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours.
Divide dough into 4 pieces; shape pieces into balls and place on a lightly floured work surface, leaving a few inches between balls. Loosely cover with a damp dish towel (not terry cloth) and let rise at warm room temperature until doubled, about 2 hours; time may vary depending on room temperature and freshness of yeast. If skin forms on dough while rising, lightly spray surface with water.
Heat Stone While Dough Rises: Position rack in lower third of oven. Place pizza stone on rack. At least 45 minutes before baking pizza, heat oven to maximum temperature (500 to 550 degrees).
Assemble Pizza: On a lightly floured work surface, press 1 dough ball with your fingers to begin to shape into a round. Use your fist and hands to gently stretch dough to a 10-inch round. (A floured rolling pin can be used to help roll out dough.) Transfer dough to a lightly floured peel; gently shake peel to make sure dough does not stick.
Working fairly quickly, spread a 1/3 cup sauce over dough, leaving about a 1/2 -inch border. Tear 3 ounces cheese into pieces and arrange on top of sauce. Tear 1 or 2 basil leaves into small pieces and arrange on top. Drizzle very lightly with oil and sprinkle with salt. Slide pizza onto stone. Bake until cheese is melted and bubbling in spots and edge of dough is crisp and golden, about 7 minutes. Using the peel and a large spatula or pair of tongs, transfer pizza to a plate and serve. Repeat with remaining ingredients.
Note: Soft “00” flour produces a pliable, easy-to-work-with pizza dough and a tender yet sturdy crust with a crisp yet not too dry edge. Mozzarella fior di latte has a firmer texture than Mozzarella di Bufala, which falls apart when cut, though both cheeses are creamy when melted. You can find “00” flour, San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella di bufala, mozzarella fior di latte at Italian markets, specialty stores, and online.
Summer is here and what better way to spend it than dining out on a rooftop, in a garden or an outside patio eating some glorious Summer food with a cocktail in your hand to soak up the sun? Or you might be in the mood for seafood, whether it be a luscious Lobster Roll, some rockin’ Sushi, a dozen steamed clams or fresh shrimp cocktail with a sexy margarita or fruity cocktail to accompany. The best part about Summer is being able to buy some of your own fresh seafood at a local market and firing it up on the grill. Where should I go do you ask? Well listen up friends. There’s some amazing places right here in NYC to please your palate and your eyes.
I had a great opportunity to do photography and write two feature stories about the Top Seafood Spots, Outdoor Dining destinations and local seafood markets in NYC for Downtown Magazine Summer issue. And oh, what a fun story this was! I visited some of NYC’s top seafood joints, swanky rooftops, garden patios and local seafood markets to come up with THE Hot List for your enjoyment this Summer. Keep reading for the full reviews in the article and scroll further down to see some great photos and links to the coolest, swankiest, tastiest hot spots in town this Summer.
Check out the tearsheets and more fun photos from the story below! (CLICK PHOTOS BELOW TO ENLARGE)
Summer is my favorite time of year – blue sunny skies, lazy days on the patio, weekend trips to the beach and lake and backyard gatherings with friends and family. Most of all, I love the fresh juicy fruits of summer – stone fruits like peaches and plums and cherries and all the fresh berries in season like blackberries, strawberries and raspberries.
Over the July 4th holiday weekend we had a fun backyard BBQ at my parents house with some of my relatives that I haven’t seen in awhile. I used to look forward to all the fun cookouts we did every summer with my family and cousins when I was a kid so it was a fun surprise to hear they were coming over for the day.
I wanted to make a special summery dessert and something different than our usual holiday traditions such as Aunt Irene’s Reception Salad and Grandma’s Lemon Meringue Pie. I decided on a Peach-Raspberry Almond Vanilla Cream Tart made with luscious juicy fresh peaches and raspberries that are bathed in a gorgeous peach glaze. They lie on a bed of sweet creamy ricotta and cream cheese blended with a hint of almond and vanilla on top of a flaky buttery puff pastry as the base.
The combination of the sweet fruit and tangy sweet almond vanilla cream over the layers of flaky buttery pastry was the perfect refreshing yet sinful treat to top off an awesome hot Summer day out on the back patio. My Aunt and Grandma may not be with us anymore to make their legendary desserts, but I’ve decided to step in their shoes and make this delicious concoction a new yearly tradition for our family summer backyard gatherings going forward.
Savoring the Fruits of Summer :: Peach-Raspberry Almond Vanilla Cream Tart
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
Yield: Makes 2 tarts serving 12 to 16.
2 puff pastry sheets, defrosted
2 tablespoons water
2 peaches, diced
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 lemon rind quarters
1 cup ricotta cheese
2 - 8 oz. packages cream cheese (one regular, one light) at room temperature
½ cup confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
4 peaches, sliced thin
1 cup raspberries
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Tart pastry: Rollout puff pastry sheets on a floured surface and place on two lightly greased rectangular baking sheets.
Score a 1-inch border around each pastry sheet. Beat eggs and water together and lightly brush the pastry sheets.
Bake for about 15-20 minutes until pastry is puffed and golden brown. Remove from oven and let pastry sheets cool completely.
Glaze: Meanwhile, dice two peaches and add sugar, lemon juice, lemon rinds and 2 cups of water into a small-medium pan on the stove. Simmer over medium heat until the peach is soft and the glaze is thickened about 10-15 minutes. Remove the lemon rinds and let the glaze cool to the side.
Cream Filling: In a large mixing bowl, add the ricotta cheese, cream cheese, confectioner’s sugar, vanilla and almond extract. Beat together with a mixer until smooth and spread evenly on to each pastry sheet, leaving a 1-inch border on the pastry. Arrange the peach slices on top of the cream filling in layered rows and brush the peaches with all but a few tablespoons of the glaze. Toss the raspberries with the rest of the glaze and randomly place on top of the peaches. Serve right away or keep cool in the refrigerator covered for a few hours.
To serve, cut the tarts into squares and garnish with toasted almonds or whipped cream if desired.
Chef’s Note: The pastry and cream filling is really delicious and super versatile for making any type of fruit tart. You can substitute the peaches and raspberries for any type of berry – blueberries, strawberries, blackberries or use fresh plums or kiwi fruit and adjust the recipe accordingly for the glaze and fruit topping. You can also substitute some toasted pistachios in place of the almonds. Get creative!
OK folks – listen up. It’s that time of year again where Summer is coming, the sun is shining and we need to fit into that teeny bikini again… With Memorial Day approaching and sunny days on the boat, beach and lake ahead, I whipped up this recipe for a refreshingly light crab salad to get myself ready for the weekend. Chock full of fresh crab, lemon, veggies and tasty herbs and seasonings, you’ll love this healthy salad made with a low-fat dressing of grapeseed oil, white wine vinegar, lemon and a hint of low-fat/low-calorie mayonnaise. It’s full of flavor, vitamins, and protein, and so light it won’t touch your waistline.
If you aren’t into crab meat then switch it up and make this with tuna, shrimp or shredded chicken. Serve the salad over large lettuce leaves with some slices of fresh avocado and lemon wedges on salad greens and hit the beach while rockin’ that bikini! If you want to make a sandwich try it on a whole wheat pita or low carb tortilla wrap to keep light! Enjoy!
The temperatures are rising and the sun is shining which means one thing – Spring is finally here. For me, that means lighter flavors, fresh herbs, fruits and veggies from the farmers market, and seafood, seafood, seafood.
I decided to make a lovely Shrimp Scampi Pasta in Lemon Butter Sauce that is fresh, light and fairly simple to make (not to mention absolutely scrumptious!)
I found some fresh, succulent jumbo shrimp and sautéed them in butter and olive oil with garlic, making a bright, velvety lemon butter sauce by adding lemon juice, lemon zest, and some white wine. I added a little extra butter into the sauce, threw in a few scallions and fresh garlic, and topped it off with some fresh parsley and a pinch of cayenne and red pepper flakes to give it some extra flavor and kick. If you want to make the sauteed shrimp and skip the pasta for a lighter dish, go for it – it’s totally amazing on it’s own or with a salad and some crusty bread (and a glass of white wine to accompany, of course!) Enjoy.
1 pound jumbo shrimp (about 12 jumbo or 16 large shrimp), peeled and deveined, tails intact
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 large scallions, sliced
1/2 lemon, zest grated for sauce plus extra for garnish
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 lemon, thinly sliced in half-rounds
1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
pinch of cayenne
Garnish: parsley, lemon zest, red pepper, salt and pepper
Drizzle the vegetable oil in a large pot of boiling salted water, add 1 tablespoon of salt and the linguine, and cook for 7 to 10 minutes, or according to the directions on the package.
Prep all ingredients (chop garlic, parsley, green onions, zest and halve the lemons and squeeze juice, measure out oil, lemon juice, wine, salt and pepper and red pepper flakes).
Melt butter and olive oil in another large pan over medium-low heat and add the garlic. Saute for 1 minute, being careful not to burn the garlic.
Add the shrimp, salt, and pepper and saute until the shrimp have just turned pink, about 3 minutes, stirring often. Add parsley, lemon zest, wine, lemon juice, lemon slices, scallions and red pepper flakes; cook for 1-2 additional minutes. Stir and remove from heat.
When the pasta is done, drain the cooked pasta and then put it back in the pot. Immediately add the shrimp and sauce, toss well, and serve with additional chopped fresh parsley, lemon zest, salt and pepper to taste, cayenne and red pepper flakes, if desired. Serve with a glass of white wine (Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc) and a green salad or crusty bread.
I recently attended a super fun event to celebrate the delicious new items that Olive Garden has introduced on their menu.
I joined the Olive Garden team along with several other local journalists and bloggers at Elevated Acre in Downtown Manhattan which is a beautiful outdoor space overlooking the East River with views of the Brooklyn Bridge.
We enjoyed their private label wines out on the deck
(I love their new Tuscan Red table wine!) and then all sat down at a huge table to start the festivities and get first dibs on the menu tasting. #NeverEndingTable
We met the Olive Garden marketing team and their Executive Chef who told us about their new menu innovations,
and then we got to taste all of them over a few hours, which of course was the fun part!
We all love their classic breadsticks and salads right?
Well you have to try their new Breadstick Sandwiches – we tried the Eggplant Parmesan and Spicy Calabrian Chicken..delicious!
The coolest new items we tried are their new Deep Dish Spaghetti Pies..they’re like spaghetti quiches baked in a shell with all kinds of yummy fillings but in pie form! The Chicken AlfredoPie was amazing…
and so was the classic Spaghetti and Meatballs Pie made with 7 cheeses, bacon, meatballs and homemade sauce. So good and totally fun.
And we can’t forget dessert – they served us an incredible Chocolate and Caramel Lasagna – layers of gooey caramel, chocolate and cake similar to Tiramisu..OMG. TO. DIE. FOR. And the perfect ending to a perfect Italian meal!
Check out the great photos of the event below and visit their website for more info on these awesome new menu creations and specials in your area.
The house was packed full and we had a blast seeing some live music with old time and new superstar artists such as Snoop Dog and Wiz Khalifa, Dierks Bentley, Cheap Trick, and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Nick Jonas, Goo Goo Dolls and more!
National Concert Day 2016 was brought to fans by Citi and Pringles. Citi is the preferred credit card of Live Nation, offering Citi debit and credit cardmembers access to presale and preferred tickets for select tours throughout the summer via Citi’s Private Pass Program, the bank’s entertainment access program. Last year alone, Citi worked with more than 1,400 artists ranging from preferred tickets and early access to concert tickets, to curated special events and VIP experiences. For more information, or to purchase presale tickets to the after show on May 3, Citi Presents AWOLNATION, visit www.citiprivatepass.com.
Pringles is helping fans celebrate summer with music and memories, kicking off at Live Nation’s National Concert Day. For those looking to make the most out of summer, head to LiveNation.com/Pringles for the Pringles Summer Jam offer – score four tickets for the price of three! Share all of your summer fun and check out the memories from other fans across the country by following #PringlesSummerJam.
From experiencing live music under the stars at an outdoor amphitheater to rocking out at an arena or taking a road trip to a music festival, this summer 2016 will bring millions of music fans together to see their favorite artists. From Country, Indie & Alternative Music, Classic Rock, Rock, Metal, Hip-Hop, Electronic Music, Comedy and Pop – there is something for everyone. For tickets and more information, visit www.livenation.com
CHECK OUT THE VIDEOS OF JOAN JETT AND CHEAP TRICK PERFORMING LIVE BELOW!
Spring is finally here in full bloom, and I’m so excited to cook with fresh, seasonal ingredients! One of my favorite pasta dishes to make for spring is this tasty and fresh Homemade Spring Fettuccine with Pancetta, Peas & Asparagus.
It features homemade fresh spinach and egg fettuccine made with flour, eggs and olive oil, topped with crispy pancetta, fresh scallions, garlic, baby green peas and asparagus in a tasty parmesan cream sauce.
You simply make the dough in your KitchenAid 14-cup food processor,
knead it and cut it into a few pieces,
then use the KitchenAid pasta attachment to roll it out the pasta sheets
and cut into lovely fresh fettuccine
served with a gorgeous Parmesan cream sauce with fresh veggies all tossed around with the pasta and cheese right in the pan. YUM.
It’s so delicious and easy to make and tastes like Spring in a bowl!
Pi Day, the mathematical holiday, is celebrated on March 14th (3/14) around the world. Pi (Greek letter “π”) is the symbol used in mathematics to represent a constant — the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter — which is approximately 3.14159.
And even though it’s a less common holiday to be celebrated, it’s simply another great reason to whip up a cocktail. And what better to include in your Pi(e) Day drink than PIEHOLE Whiskey?
In honor of the occasion, I’d like to share three delicious spring cocktails, created by the National PIEHOLE Sweetheart (and New Orleans Bartender) Brooke Flaherty.
1.5 oz. PIEHOLE™ Whiskey with Apple Flavored Liqueur
3 oz. Ginger Beer
A splash sour mix
A splash of lemon-lime soda
Garnish with lime wedge
1.5 oz. PIEHOLE™ Whiskey with Cherry Flavored Liqueur
4 oz. Ginger Ale
.5 oz. Pineapple Juice
.5 oz. Orange Juice
Juice from half of a lemon
Garnish with a cherry and orange
Pecan Sweet Tea
1.5 oz. PIEHOLE™ Whiskey with Pecan Flavored Liqueur
I’m excited to announce that I will be participating in the Designing Dining Workshop at Bard Graduate Center in NYC on Saturday April 16th! This three-session workshop (over 3 weekends, see schedule above) investigates the visual design, materials, and traditions of presenting creative tablesettings. Participants experiment with table stylings, craft their own metal spoon, and learn how best to photograph food and drink.
I will be teaching the Session 3: Framing Food workshop where I will be discussing the principles and history of food styling and photography, with a hands-on workshop experience for participants to style and photograph their own culinary masterpieces at the event.
We are currently raffling off one (1) free ticket (worth $250) to the workshop to all three sessions! All you have to do is leave a comment below on why you would like to attend the workshop and I will be choosing a winner randomly who will be contacted by email before the event by March 25th.Make sure to include your email when you comment below!
I made myself a pledge to focus on being healthier and happier since the New Year has started… getting more sleep, balancing work and life better, focusing on my business and my brand with a revived passion, reaching out to friends and family more often, traveling more, eating healthier and getting more walking around the city in, and just choosing to be happy every day, no matter what. NO EXCUSES.
BUT, see the thing is…I hate diets. They never work and I slowly grow tired of counting calories and feeling deprived and end up eating like a maniac and ruining all the good i just did by torturing myself on the diet in the first place. So I’ve decided to go in a different direction by simply cutting sugar out of my diet, eating more healthy lean proteins and fresh veggies and cutting DOWN on carbs, not fully out. It seems to lessen the pain of a diet and I truly feel better and am more conscious of what I eat by tracking the amount of carbs I’m taking in. So far, so good.
So I decided I wouldn’t fully deprive myself of the carb-laden pasta dishes I crave in the Winter and that I’ve been missing out on, and made a Chicken, Spinach, Mushroom & Bacon FettuccineAlfredo that’s absolutely to die for. I used some lower-carb fettuccine pasta (Carba-Nada, which I got on Amazon for $10 and it only has 17 grams of carbs in 1.5 cups of pasta...LOVE IT). I sautéed some chicken breasts, shallots, garlic, bacon and added some spinach and mushrooms to make the base for the pasta. Then I made a delicious Alfredo sauce with half and half, unsalted butter, whipped cream cheese and shredded Parmesan cheese, thinned down with some water to make a semi-healthier version of this luscious, velvety (and usually super rich and fattening) pasta sauce.
I hope you’re getting through the Winter OK yourselves, and if not, whip up a batch of this deliciousness. Guilt-Free. You’ll be just fine, I promise. 😉
1/4 cup - 1/2 cup water, as needed for desired sauce consistency
CHICKEN, SPINACH & MUSHROOM PASTA
Cook pasta in salted boiling water according to package directions, drain and set aside. Reserve some of the pasta water to add back in to the pasta sauce later on, for consistency.
Meanwhile, in a large saute pan, cook bacon over medium heat until crispy and cooked through. Drain on paper towels, crumble and set aside.
Rinse and pat dry chicken breasts, brush olive oil on and season with kosher salt and pepper to taste.
Drain bacon grease from saute pan and raise heat to medium high. Saute chicken breasts, about 6 minutes per side, until a nice browning occurs and chicken is cooked through. Set aside, and keep warm with tented foil. (NOTE: You may also grill the chicken if desired at the same cooking time).
In the same pan, add 2 tablespoons of butter and saute shallots for a few minutes. Add garlic and cook for another 30 seconds. Add sliced mushrooms and saute for another few minutes until they are soft.
Defrost frozen spinach in microwave for 5 minutes, drain and then add spinach (you can also add fresh spinach now) to the pan with the shallots, garlic and mushrooms. Cook for a few minutes until all cooked through, add crumbled bacon and season with freshly ground black pepper. Turn heat to low and keep warm while making the Alfredo sauce.
In a medium saucepan, melt butter, cream and whipped cream cheese over medium-low heat.
Add shredded Parmesan cheese and season with freshly ground black pepper. If sauce seems too thick, add some of the reserved pasta water to the sauce to thin it down to desired consistency.
Pour the Alfredo sauce into the pan with the spinach and mushroom mixture, slice the chicken into slices or chunks and add to the sauce and stir together well.
Serve hot over the pasta (or you can mix the pasta into the sauce ahead of serving, whatever you prefer).
So February is here and so is National Almond Day! I absolutely love almonds – not only are they packed with tons of vitamins, minerals and fiber, but they also taste amazing! I love toasting almonds for salad toppings, making almond crust for chicken or fish, and best of all baking them into lovely, nutty,scrumptious desserts…especially cookies..mmmmm.
I recently got a new KitchenAid®12″ Convection Digital Countertop Oven, and I am absolutely in love with it! Not only is it a toaster oven, but it’s also a fully functioning convection oven with nine different pre-programmed functions, including Pizza, Bagel, Cookie, Asado Roast and Keep Warm. It has a large capacity with enough room to roast a chicken or make a 12″ pizza, and of course enough space to bake a large batch of cookies. I LOVE THIS THING!
Since we are in the dead of winter and in the spirit of National Almond Day, I thought a big batch of cookies was in order. I made some delicious Almond Shortbread Cookies with Blood Orange Glaze. They’re super buttery and crisp with a sweet, tart and refreshing hint of blood orange – perfect for a chilly day with a cup of tea. And they’re really easy to make too..check out the link below for my recipe on the Kitchenthusiast food blog and enjoy!!!
So the big day is right around the corner..Super Bowl, yay! I’m not really partial to either team and am not even a huge football fan, but i LOVE LOVE LOVE the Super Bowl simply because of the fun parties, the commercials, and the food and drinks, of course.
So in spirit of the football party season, I’ve rounded up some of my favorite game day recipes that are perfect for a crowd. Finger foods, appetizers, dips and spreads and small bites to party in style! Stay tuned later this week for some fun cocktail ideas for the big game too..may the best team win! #gopanthers #gobroncos
The New Year has arrived, and it’s time to start anew. I like to kick bad habits and start new resolutions, such as exercising more, dropping a few pounds, cleaning house, and of course eating healthier and lighter.
I recently got the new KitchenAid® Spiralizer Attachment to go along with my KitchenAid® Stand Mixer and am so excited to experiment with it to make some healthier low-carb meals! It comes with five different blades for peeling, coring and slicing and is perfect for fresh fruits and vegetables. I love pasta and rice, but spiralized veggies are such a great substitute when I want to lighten up my recipes.
Because we are in the middle of winter, I thought a delicious comfort food dish with a healthy twist would be perfect. I made an amazing Red Beef Curry with Zucchini Noodles, with stewed beef, sweet potatoes, onions, garlic and green beans in a lovely curry sauce made with coconut milk, red curry paste, fresh lime juice, fish sauce, a little beef broth and a dash of Sriracha.
Super delicious and easy to make!
I also got an amazing new Professional Series 3.5″ Paring Knife that came with my larger set, perfect for chopping my onions and garlic. and Thai chilies and basil, which I used for garnish. The larger Chef’s knife was great for cutting up the large chunks of beef, and sweet potatoes with it’s sturdier grip and large super sharp blade.
This is such a great Winter comfort food dish to make and it’s so easy with all the right tools! You’ll definitely want to make this Red Beef Curry for dinner – tonight!
So here it is, the last day of the year 2015..oh how time flies, and so much has happened! I’m so thankful for all the wonderful opportunities that have come into my life and the lessons learned along the way. Here are some of my Top / Most Popular posts from The Artful Gourmet blog this year — and wishing everyone a safe and Happy New Year 2016!