Category Archives: Appetizers

Meatball Madness!

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Meatball Madness

Fall is one of my favorite times of the year simply because it’s a time when the leaves are changing, the weather is getting cooler, and you have an excuse to stay inside to watch football with friends and family and gather around the table with some delicious party food!

Whenever I host a party, I like to create a smorgasbord of food that’s easy for people to grab. I love bite-sized finger foods and tapas-style spreads that are fun to make and eat. My idea for a great fall football party is Meatball Madness – an experiment with different types of meatballs paired with unique sauces, fillings and bases to eat them on.

Meatballs are super fun and easy to make with the help of my KitchenAid® Copper Core 12″ Nonstick Skillet and my KitchenAid® Professional-Grade Nonstick Sheet Pans when I’m cooking for a large crowd. Both are great for cooking meatballs easily and evenly with their high quality nonstick coating, and they are both large enough so I can cook big batches of meatballs.

Greek Meatballs

For this post, I decided to make some Greek Beef Meatballs with Tzatzkiki Sauce served on toasted flatbreads,

Asian Meatballs

and some Asian Chicken Meatballs with a Spicy Peanut Sauce served on Gem Lettuce Cups as thought starters for this party idea, but I’d love to hear from you what other themes, flavors and creative ideas you would incorporate when you throw your own Meatball Madness Party!


You can mix and match different themes with different fillings and flavors for the meatballs, for example – you could make Spanish Meatballs made with pork, chorizo and onions and create a Roasted Red Pepper Aioli to dip them in and serve on toasted pita. Or you could make traditional Italian Meatballs with Cheese and Tomato Sauce on mini slider buns topped with fresh basil and parsley. Or make German Meatballs with Bratwurst and Sauerkraut with a Grainy Mustard Sauce served on mini Rye breads – the possibilities are endless and super fun to come up with!


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Beef Enchilada Tortilla Casserole for Game Day!

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Beef Enchilada Tortilla Casserole


It’s finally Fall (Yay!) and football season is in full force which means fun tailgating and parties with friends mixed with lots of delicious football party food and drinks! My favorite time of year.

Beef Enchilada Tortilla Casserole

I’ve partnered with Mission Foods to create a delicious Game Day recipe for serving a crowd with their awesome flour tortillas, and I present to you my Beef Enchilada Tortilla Casserole.

Beef Enchilada Tortilla Casserole


It’s made with ground beef and taco seasoning, onions, garliccorn, jalapeños, chopped tomatoes, beef broth and LOTS of cheese, all baked in layers of spicy, cheesy, ooey-gooey goodness with the flour tortillas in a 9-inch pie pan. Then it’s served cut into wedges and topped with some fresh green onions. You can also serve it with some sour cream and cilantro for extra garnish, if you like, on the side.

Beef Enchilada Tortilla Casserole


I love making casseroles and one-pot dishes in the Fall, and especially for parties with friends because they’re easy to make and easy to transport and serve, and they are usually a huge hit on the food table! This one will disappear fast so you might want to double the recipe for a big crowd – trust me!


I’m also hosting a giveaway for my readers to win 2 packs of Mission Foods Tortillas – all you need to do is leave a comment and your email below telling me how you would use the tortillas to make a delicious recipe for your Fall Football party! A winner will be chosen at random, and announced on my blog post on Sunday October 25th at 6 pm.

Beef Enchilada Tortilla Casserole

Hope you enjoy my super yum recipe and enter for a chance to win tortillas to make your party more delicious and fun too!

Mission Foods Football Party Food

Beef Enchilada Tortilla Casserole

Beef Enchilada Tortilla Casserole for Game Day!

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 6-8

Serving Size: 1 wedge

This Beef Enchilada Tortilla Casserole is a super easy and tasty dish to make for Football season! Made with Mission Foods flour tortillas, all layered with a spicy enchilada beef, mixed with onions, garlic, corn, tomatoes, broth and jalapeño and lots of cheese in the layers and on top! Garnished with scallions, sour cream and cilantro if desired...and DIG IN!


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1/2 packet taco seasoning
  • 1 cup petite diced tomatoes and juice (or 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce)
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped
  • 4 large Mission Foods flour tortillas
  • 1 6-ounce package shredded Mexican Blend cheese (Colby, Monterey Jack and Cheddar)
  • 1-2 scallions, sliced, for garnish
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, for garnish (optional)
  • 2-3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped, for garnish (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add ground beef and onion to pan and cook for about 5-6 minutes until browned and crumbled.
  3. In a separate medium saucepan, melt the butter and sauce the garlic for 1 minute until lightly golden, sprinkle with flour and stir, cooking for 30 seconds.
  4. Add broth, taco seasoning, tomatoes, corn and jalapeños to the saucepan and bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes.
  6. Add 1 1/2 cups of the tomato-corn-jalapeno mixture to the cooked ground beef and onions in the large saute pan, mixing together and reserving the rest for the top layer of the casserole.
  7. In a 9-inch pie plate, place 1 tortilla on the bottom. Top with 1 cup of the beef mixture, and sprinkle with a layer of the shredded cheese. Repeat layers 2 more times, ending with the 4th tortilla on top.
  8. Spread the reserved tomato mixture over the tortilla and top with the rest of the shredded cheese.
  9. Bake at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes until cheese is melted and golden.
  10. Let cool slightly, then cut into wedges and serve with sliced green onions, and sour cream and cilantro (if desired).


You can also substitute ground turkey or chicken for the ground beef. For a large crowd, I suggest doubling the recipe to make two casseroles as this one will disappear fast!

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Check out Mission Foods website for all their great products!
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Join Mission Foods Insiders Club for special deals and rewards:
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Disclosure: I’m required to disclose a sponsored partnership between our site and Mission Foods. I have been compensated in exchange for this post in the form of payment, product or experiences. #spon


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Zucchini & Sweet Potato Pancakes w/ Homemade Apple Sauce

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Zucchini Sweet Potato Pancakes

Now that the fall season has finally arrived, it’s time to start cooking with seasonal ingredients that are richer in color and warmer in flavor. One of my favorite dishes to make in the fall are Potato Pancakes, served with applesauce and sour cream, just like my Grandma used to make.

KitchenAid Juicer














I recently got a KitchenAid® Juicer and Sauce Attachment for my Stand Mixer and decided to do a twist on this traditional family recipe by making Homemade Applesauce and making the pancakes out of zucchini and sweet potatoes to add some healthy color and fall flavors to the dish. I used my KitchenAid® Stainless Steel 3-Quart Saucepan, which was perfect for cooking the applesauce in, and a fantastic KitchenAid® Copper Core 12″ Nonstick Skillet, great for cooking the pancakes with it’s large base and even, quick heat distribution.

Homemade Apple Sauce

Homemade Apple Sauce

Zucchini Sweet Potato Pancakes

Zucchini and Sweet Potato Pancakes with Cinnamon Sour Cream

Healthy, delicious and super easy to make!


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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.


  • 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


  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.


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 & 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 :)










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Rustic Pizza with Ham, Grapes, Shallots, Cheese, Honey & Thyme

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Rustic Pizza with Grapes, Shallots, Ham & Thyme

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.

Rustic Pizza with Grapes, Shallots, Ham & Thyme

I decided to make a delicious rustic pizza made with some red grapes, shallots, sharp white cheddar and mozzarella cheese, and some thin cut Italian ham. 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.

Rustic Pizza with Grapes, Shallots, Ham & 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.

Rustic Pizza with Grapes, Shallots, Ham & Thyme

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 Grapes, Shallots, Ham & Thyme

Rustic Pizza with Ham, Grapes, Shallots, Cheese, Honey & Thyme

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 6-8

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 thyme
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Honey for drizzling


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Spray a pizza sheet with oil and stretch out pizza dough to the edges making a thin crust.
  3. 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.
  4. Bake for about 20 minutes until cheese is bubbly and the crust is golden brown.
  5. Top with fresh basil, sea salt, freshly cracked black pepper and drizzle with honey.
  6. 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.


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Food Trends of 2014 + Flavor Forecast for 2015

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2014 Food Trends

As the year 2014 is coming to an end, it’s always interesting to see what was hot and what was not in the culinary world and what new food and flavor trends we will see in the New Year 2015. Popular trends seem to come and go each year affecting everything we see: restaurants, blogs, online stores, magazines, TV shows, and even fast food and packaged goods and advertising.

2014 had plenty of interesting ones that went big this year:

Culinary mashups: Cronuts (croissant donuts), Wonuts (waffle donuts), Quesarito (a quesadilla rolled into a burrito), bananas fosters pancakes, bagel burgers, ramen burgers, pretzel subs, Chicken waffle sandwiches, you name it – crazy Frankenfood dishes hit the scene this year.

Spicy burgers: burgers went nuclear this year with everything and anything spicy – Sriracha mayo, poblano peppers, jalapeño peppers, spicy onion rings, melted pepper jack cheese, harissa, ancho chipotle sauce, Mexican burgers with spicy ranch sauce…the list goes on.

Bahn Mi – a traditional Vietnamese sandwich made with roasted pork, marinated vegetables, and herbs on a baguette

Savory Jams – fig jam, pepper jellies, lingonberry jams topped creative sandwiches everywhere this year.

Paleo Diet – this meat-heavy, vegetable-laden, dairy and gluten free diet went crazy. Huge protein portions, cookbooks, blogs and new restaurants opened with a core focus on MEAT.

2015 Food Trends

And here is the flavor forecast for 2015:

Middle Eastern mezze: hummus, pepper spreads, herb-marinated olives

Creative cookies: decadent makeovers on classic cookies

Umami veggies: savory flavors will infuse new recipes such as tomatoes, mushrooms, soy sauce, nori, sweet potatoes

Smoked spices: deeper richer flavors for foods through smoked spices

Sour notes: coarse salt with sour notes from sour cherry, pickled ginger, mango and lemon zest add zing and bling. Burgers topped with kimchi. Shrubs (preserved fruits with vinegar and sugar) will show up in cocktails.

Liquid revolution: juice blends from fruits and vegetables to make healthy flavorful sauces

Global blends: Japanese 7 spice (aka shichimi togarashi) combines chilies, sesame, orange zest and nori. Shawarma Middle Eastern blends made with cinnamon, cumin and black pepper are also going big.

Tacos: regional and modern taco joints and pop ups are going to be everywhere

Scrambled eggs: forget poached and deviled – scrambled eggs for dinner with savory sauces and ingredients are hot.

Spicy flavors: Sriracha will still be in style, as well as international spices like Thai bird chiles that give a serious kick.

Flavor without fat: Chefs are now infusing meats and vegetables with flavor by grilling, rotisseries and smoke.

Meat spreads: Nduja is an Italian meat spread made with ground pork and spices, great for spreading on toast or filling ravioli.

Artisanal candies: Bourbon and sea salt caramels, ice cream gummies and other creative confectionaries will be everywhere.

Soft serve ice cream: seasonal flavors and innovative sundae creations are another hot item in the dessert scene.

Spanish cuisine: Tapas and small plates from the Spanish region will be hot in the fast-casual restaurant world.

Savory pancakes: think potato pancakes on steroids – infused with different vegetable flavors and creative toppings and sauces.

Patty melts: this classic diner dish heats up the food scene with innovative twists on this half burger / half grilled cheese sammie.

Mini cocktails: smaller versions of cocktails served in half portions are popping up to give customers the opportunity to taste more varieties

Artisanal hard cider: move over craft beer, the new trend is using artisanal hard cider to create libations with unusual ingredients such as bourbon, house-made Dijon syrup and thyme.

Gin: new places opening up that solely serve the classic Gin and Tonic in different ways

High-end daiquiris and frozen drinks: new twists on the daiquiri and slushie drink infused with fun flavors and alcohol combinations

Meals to go: restaurants and food brands understand the consumers shrinking leisure time by creating high end meals to go making it easier to eat gourmet food without spending hours eating out or cooking at home.

Family-style dining: more restaurants will be serving meals family style with larger portions to share around the table.

Sources: McCormick and National Restaurant News


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Luscious Lobster Pies

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Luscious Lobster Pies


There’s nothing better in the Summer time than fresh seafood. Lobster is one of my favorites and an indulgence, at that. Lobster Rolls and Lobster Salad are great picnic and backyard BBQ dishes to serve a crowd. But once the end of Summer arrives, I start to crave some comfort food and one-pot dishes for the cooler days ahead.

This is a classic recipe for Maine Lobster Pie, something I made in a recent cooking class at the Institute of Culinary Education – it’s a luscious pie made with fresh Lobster meat, cream, sherry and butter (um, not diet-friendly!) topped with a buttery, crispy topping made of Ritz crackers, melted butter, Parmesan cheese and paprika. We made a bunch of pies in small ramekins for appetizers, but you could also make one big luscious pie in a medium pie dish and serve it as a main one-pot course with a salad and some rice or pasta on the side.

It’s perfect for entertaining guests during the holidays, or even just for a homey comforting dinner on a crisp Autumn night. Go on – indulge a little. I won’t tell anyone.

Boil Lobster


Cooked Lobster


Lobster Meat


Luscious Lobster Pies

Yield: Makes 6 appetizer servings, or 1 whole pie.


  • Lobster Pie Filling
  • 10 tablespoons butter (1 ¼ sticks), divided
  • ½ cup good quality sherry
  • Meat from 2 cooked lobsters, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups half and half
  • 4 egg yolks, beaten
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • Topping
  • ½ cup crushed Ritz crackers
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • Fresh tarragon, chives or parsley, minced, for garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter, add sherry and boil 1 minute.
  3. Add lobster and remove from heat. In a medium saucepan, melt remaining butter. Add flour and cook, stirring, until mixture bubbles; cook at least 1 minute. Remove from heat.
  4. Drain and reserve the sherry from the lobster meat, then slowly whisk sherry and half-and-half into the mixture until thoroughly blended. Return to heat and cook, stirring constantly, until sauce is smooth and thick. Season with salt and pepper, adjust to desired to taste.
  5. Spoon 4 tablespoons of the sauce into a small bowl. Add beaten egg yolks, 1 at a time, stirring well after each addition.
  6. Return egg mixture to sauce and mix well. Whisk constantly over low heat about 3 minutes; do not allow to boil, or the eggs will cook and get clumpy. Remove from heat and add lobster. Turn into four individual ramekins or a small, deep pie plate.
  7. Combine topping ingredients, blend well and sprinkle over pies. Bake about 10 minutes to heat through and until the topping gets crunchy and golden brown. Garnish with some fresh tarragon, chives or parsley, if desired.
  8. Makes 6 appetizer servings, or 1 medium pie.
  9. Recipe adapted from Yankee Magazine


Lobster Ingredients




Lobster and Butter




Lobster Pie Filling


Lobster Pies Ready for Oven


Lobster Pies

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Spring is here! Spring Canapes & Cocktails Party with KitchenAid

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Spring Canapes & Cocktails!
Spring Canapes & Cocktails!

Spring is here, and there’s nothing better than gathering a few friends together for a casual get together with some canapés and cocktails featuring the fresh produce of the season. Fava Beans, Baby Garden Peas and Strawberries are a few of my favorites that start popping up in April and May with the first bloom of Spring.

I love to use my KitchenAid® 13-Cup Food Processor for making quick and tasty dips and spreads – I simply toss all the ingredients in the bowl of the food processor and give it a few whirls to make easy canapés and appetizers for sharing with friends.

An easy, fun idea is to serve crostini with a spread made of baby garden peas and fava beans, mixed with roasted garlic, mint, greek yogurt, feta cheese, lemon zest and olive oil. The flavors are bright, and it’s a light and healthy appetizer, perfect for spreading on toast and serving with fresh veggies for dipping. I love to serve them with some light Spring cocktails made with vodka, lemonade, fresh strawberries, mint and soda – perfect complement for the bite sized crostini! You can also make crostini with different veggies such as roasted red pepper, artichokes, avocado, olives – whatever you’re in the mood for!

Check out my post on KitchenAid’s Kitchenthusiast Blog for recipes, party ideas and how-to’s to get your Spring party started!

Spring Ingredients
Spring Ingredients
Minted Pea & Fava Bean Crostini
Strawberry Mint Vodka Lemonade Cocktails
Strawberry Mint Vodka Lemonade Cocktails
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Break out the Bubbly! Sparkling Wine Recipes + Holiday Food Pairings from NYC Master Sommeliers

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The Christmas Holiday and New Year’s Eve is right around the corner and there’s no better way to celebrate the occasion than to pop open a bottle of gorgeous bubbly sparkling wine. Most people automatically think of Champagne when it comes to sparkling wine but there are actually some great selections of Cava and Prosecco that fit the bill too. But what is the difference between them all and how do you pick one that suits your palette and your budget?

I interviewed some of NYC’s top Wine Directors and Sommeliers: Joseph Camper of db Bistro, Laura Williamson of Jean-Georges, Jason Arias of Txikito,  Peter Mastrogiovanni of La Cenita/EMM Group and Joe Campanale from Epicurean Group; to unveil the mystery behind all three sparkling wines and get some recommendations, food pairings and recipes to help you plan your holiday cocktail party in style.

The main difference in the three sparkling wines comes down to a few things: the grapes, the region, the soil, the fermentation process and temperature.

Val de Mer Cremant du Bourgogne



Champagne (also known as “cremante”, comes from only two regions of France: Rhones and Epernet, from either large houses that use blends of grapes or grower champagne from smaller private farms (also known as “farmer fizz”), according to Joseph Camper, Sommelier at db bistro moderne. Champagne has a distinct taste as well – a bit chalky and ‘yeasty’ with a minerality flavor.


drusian_prosecco_valdobbiadene_exdryProsecco is an Italian sparkling wine; generally a Dry or Extra Dry wine; normally made from Glera (“Prosecco”) grapes. Prosecco is produced in the regions of Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia in Italy, and traditionally, mainly in the areas near Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, in the hills north of Treviso. It is the fruitiest of all three sparkling wines, and unlike Champagne is usually produced using the Charmat method in which the secondary fermentation is done in stainless steel tanks making it less expensive to produce. Prosecco comes in either fully sparkling (spumante) or lightly sparkling (frizzante, gentile) varieties.

poema cava



Cava is a sparkling wine from Spain made in the traditional method of the French sparkling wine Champagne. The wine was originally known as Champaña until Spanish producers adopted the term “Cava” (cellar) in 1970 in reference to the underground cellars in which the wines ferment and age in the bottle. Cava has an ambiguous, well-balanced and neutral flavor. It’s looser knit, and has a less complex process in its making compared to Champagne.






French Sommelier – Joseph Camper, Sommelier of db bistro moderne


When people think about sparkling wine and France, of course their mind goes to the wonderful region of Champagne–which is in fact wonderful, because Champagne (in my opinion) is THE best wine producing regions in the world. While Champagne may be my dessert island wine, there are several other noteworthy sparkling wines from France. The top regions, aside from Champagne are: Burgundy, the Loire and even the Jura.

A few things to know about Champagne:

1) There are three primary grape varietals used: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.  Most wines are a blend of all three, though there do exist some special bottlings that focus on just one of the three grapes (i.e., Blanc de Blanc is made entirely from Chardonnay)

2) With the arrival of the age of “Grower Champagne” (or as Terry Theise would say, “Farmer Fizz”) there is more focus on soil and specific sites, and we are seeing more vintage and single vineyard wines in the market than ever before!


Sommelier Joseph Camper says that “Champagne works with almost all foods. It’s the greatest wine in the world.”


Vilmart, Grand Cellier: (not to be confused with Grand Cellier d’Or from the same producer): Vilmart GC, is in my opinion one of the greatest “entry-level” (price wise) Champagnes made, even though it is better than most prestige cuvées.  It has incredible balance and precision, and therefore I would pair it with opening courses–raw fish, oysters, lobster, etc.

Egly-Ouriet, Viellissement Prolonge: Egly-Ouriet V.P. is crazy good.  It tastes almost like Burgundy with bubbles.  DON’T serve it in a Champagne flute, but rather in a larger, more typical wine glass to really enjoy the full array of the wine.  It spends somewhere around 70 months on the lees, or yeast (!).  For this wine, richer fare is called for–Turbot or Dover Sole, Veal. Butter! Also due to the autolytic quality of the wine it is unreal with umami flavors like soy. Crazy tasty with Asian food.  BYOB anyone?!

Cremant du Bourgogne

Val de Mer Cremant du Bourgogne: Sparkling wine made entirely from Chardonnay from the region of Chablis.  Kimmeridgean limestone at its best! Serve with shellfish.

Cremant du Loire

Francois Chidaine, Montlouis-Sur-Loire, Brut “Method Traditionalle”: Sparkling Chenin Blanc from one of the hot shot producers of Mountlouis and Vouvray.  It’s technically, a Multi-Vintage wine, but there is always a code on the back of the bottle that reveals the vintage. Current release is 2011.

Domaine Huet Petillant: Also sparkling Chenin Blanc, but bottled at a low atmospheric pressure (less bubbles and certainly less aggressive–sometimes appears “flat” in the glass).

Cremant du Jura

Tissot Cremant du Jura: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Poulsard:  A ringer for champagne in its aromatic profile, though a bit softer and more floral.  The perfect aperitif.  Just drink it, by the gallon with or without food!



Photo Credit: Kristen Hess

Sometimes cocktails take not one, not two or three, but MANY rounds of testing to get it just right! This cocktail is just that: just right. Head Bartender at Chef Daniel Boulud’s Upper East Side cocktail lounge Bar Pleiades, and consulting bartender for the new db bistro cocktail menu, played with chocolate and red wine’s affinity for each other with this drink, as well as berry shrub’s red wine-berry fruitiness and Byrrh (a French wine based aperitif flavored with quinine). To make the drink, Byrrh is infused with cocoa nibs overnight. Pomegranate seeds are dropped into a champagne flute, and topped with a mixture of Rye, Cocoa nib infused Byrrh, White Crème de Cacao and Berry Shrub and Orange peel. When the drink is topped off with Champagne, the pomegranate seeds try, and try again, to rise to the top of the glass with the Champagne bubbles!

Try, Try Again

1 ounce Rittenhouse Rye
.5 ounce Cocoa nib infused Byrrh
.25 ounce White Creme de Cacao
.25 ounce Berry Shrub
Orange peel

Combine all ingredients in mixing glass.  Stir and strain into champagne flute with bar spoon full of pomegranate seeds at bottom of glass.  Top off with champagne.


French Sommelier – Laura Williamson, Master Sommelier, Jean-Georges

Laura Williamson


Raventos i Blanc, Sant Sadurní d’Anoia, Spain
Cavas Llopart Brut Rosé, Catalonia, Spain

Drusian Brut Valdobbiadene, Veneto, Italy

NV Hebrart Brut Rosé Champagne, France
1996 Legras and Haas Blanc de Blanc Chouilly Grand Cru, Champagne, France

Semi-Sweet Sparkling
Renardat-Fâche Bugey Cerdon Rosé, Savoie, France


Semi-Sweet Sparkling – Grilled Foie Gras Dumplings, Papaya, Red Wine Syrup, Passion Fruit paired with Renardat-Fâche Bugey Cerdon Rosé, Savoie, France

Champagne – Toasted Egg Yolk, Caviar and Herbs paired with 1996 Legras and Haas Blanc de Blanc Chouilly Grand Cru, Champagne, FranceRoasted Venison, Quince-Madeira Puree, Broccoli Raab and Cabrales Foam paired with NV Hebrart Brut Rosé Champagne, France


blood orange bellini-photoKHESS

Blood Orange Bellini

photo credit: Kristen Hess

Makes 8 drinks:

1 1/4 cups fresh blood orange juice
1 bottle (750 ml) dry Crèmant d’Alsace, chilled (Prosecco or Cava can be substituted)
3 tablespoons orange liqueur, preferably Cointreau
Pour the juice, Crèmant, and orange liqueur into a large glass pitcher. Immediately and carefully pour into 8 champagne flutes and serve.

For 1 drink:

5 ounce Champagne (Prosecco or Cava can be substituted)
Juice of 1 blood orange
splash of Cointreau

blood orange french 75 -photoKHESS

Blood Orange French 75

photo credit: Kristen Hess

1 ounce Gin
Juice of 1 blood orange
3 oz Champagne (Prosecco or Cava can be substituted)
2 dashes Orange Bitters
1 splash Cointreau

Serve in a Champagne flute and garnish with a blood orange triangle (made by slicing a blood orange wheel into 3rds)

Recipes by Laura Williamson, Master Sommelier, Jean-Georges


Latin/Argentinean Sommelier – Jason Arias, Txikito

alex raij and jason ariasMaster Sommelier Jason Arias and Executive Chef Alex Raij of Txikito NYC recommend Cava and Champagne choices that reflect their Basque, Catalan and Argentine holiday traditions with a classic Basque 75 cocktail and high quality seafood and pasta pairings.

Gramona (entry level to vintage)
Brut Nature (driest) – Juve y Champs
Avinyo and Raventos
Mas Foraster – rose cava

Pol Roger
Guy Larmandier
Alfred Gratien
Perrier Jouet Belle Epoque


Cava and Champagne – High quality whole fish and mollusks and crustaceans (raw or cooked, or served in soup); Salt Cod Cannelloni (Canelons) and Pasta



Photo Credit: Txikito

Basque 75

Beach plum Gin or Patxarran (Basque sloe berry liqueur)
Grapefruit Twist
Bruised sage leaf
On rocks with splash of 7 up

Recipe by Sommelier Jason Arias, Txikito


Spanish/Mexican Sommelier – Peter Mastrogiovanni, La Cenita -Emm Group

peter mastrogiovanni

La Cenita is a new Spanish/Mexican tapas restaurant in the Meatpacking District, part of the Emm Group. They have a focus on using very fresh and unique ingredients in their cocktails and also do a lot of house infusions with tequila including creative flavors such as prickly pear, jalapeno, coffee, cocoa nibs and bacon.

Head Corporate Beverage Manager, Peter Mastrogiovanni recommends the following Sparkling Wines and food pairings for the holidays if you’re looking for a Latin twist to your menu. Head Bartender Billy Potuin also shares his special cocktail recipe for La Ciderita – a light and boozy, warm and wintry cocktail that has an interesting take mixing sparkling Cava with tequila and Spanish cinnamon. It’s all natural, using honey and lemon and cranberry bitters and not too sweet making it a great cocktail for the holidays.




EverydaySegura Viudas Brut

EverydayMoet & Chandon Imperial Brut Reserve
Splurge –  Perrier – Jouet 


Cava and Champagne – Chicken Mole Taquitos and Snapper Nectarine Ceviche



Photo Credit: Kristen Hess

La Ciderita

2 ounces Canela-infused Herra Durra Reposado
.75 ounce Cinnamon Syrup
.75 ounce Apple Cider
.75 ounce Laird’s Applejack
.5 ounce Honey Syrup
.25 oz Lemon Juice
4-5 dashes Spiced Cranberry Bitters

Shake, strain up in martini glass, top with Sparkling Cava wine. Garnish with a Canela (or cinnamon) stick and dried cranberries

Recipe by Lead Bartender Billy Potuin, La Cenita


Italian Sommelier – Joseph Campanale, Executive Beverage Director, Epicurean Group (dell’Anima/L’Artusi/Anfora/L’Apicio)

joe campanale


Cava – is from the Cava region in Spain. It is made in the same method as Champagne as is less fruit-forward than Prosecco. It doesn’t have the acidity or minerality of good Champagne but the best examples can be quite delicious. Some of my favorites are:

Everyday – German Gilabert $12
Mid – Avinyo Cava Brut NV $20
Splurge – Cava Recaredo Brut Nature $32

Prosecco – Made from the Prosecco grape in the Veneto region of Italy. This is fruit-forward and can be a little sweet. If you use prosecco in a cocktail remember that it can have some sweetness. Also it lacks the yeasty flavors of Champagne/Cava.

Everyday – Ca’ Furlan Prosecco NV $10
Mid – Sorrelle Branca Prosecco di Valdobbiadenne “Extra Dry” NV $15
Splurge – Case Coste Piane Prosecco Frizzante Naturalmente 2011 $20

Champagne – The highest quality of all sparkling wine, it comes from the Champagne region of France and is made from Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and a local grape known as Pinot Meunier. Go for the smaller producers who grow their own grapes (Grower champagne). At their best, Champagne is crisp, mineral driven wine with a ton of complexity from high-quality grapes and aging on the lees (spent yeast). I think it would be unwise to use one of these in a cocktail.

Everyday – Pierre Brigandat NV $30
Mid – Gaston Chiquet Grand Cru Blanc des Blancs NV $52
Splurge – Vilmat et Cie “Couer de Cuvee” 2004 $125


Cava – Parmigiano Cheese – this hard, nutty cheese will complement the creamy bubbly Cava. Cava’s earthiness will be reflected in the cheese as well as the creaminess from the lees aging but the bubbles will cut through the richness.

Prosecco – Thai Food – Prosecco’s fruit-forward aromatics will complement the exotic, full-flavored Thai food. The chill of the wine and (sometimes) residual sweetness will cool down spicy Thai or complement the sweeter food.

Champagne – Fried Chicken – There is something just absolutely fun about the high-low pairing of fried chicken and Champagne. They were made for each other. Fried chicken is the fatty, crunchy poultry that needs a crisp, bubbly wine to cut through the grease and complement the crunch. This is a great flavor and texture experience.



Photo Credit: Epicurean Group

Texas Mimosa

Serves One


1 oz. Milagro Silver tequila
2 oz. Grapefruit Juice
½ oz. Simple Syrup
2 oz. Prosecco
2 dashes Fee Bros. Grapefruit Bitters
Grapefruit Peel for Garnish


Shake tequila, grapefruit juice and simple syrup over ice and double-strain into a flute. Top with prosecco and grapefruit bitters. Garnish with a grapefruit peel. Enjoy!


Photo Credit: Epicurean Group

Ten Past Twelve

Serves One


1 1/2 oz. flor de cana white rum
3/4 oz. Lillet
½ oz. Orchard Apricot Liqueur
1/2 oz. Lemon
Rose Cava topper


Stir all ingredients together. Spank beer glass with rosemary stem. Pour ingredients over ice in a beer glass, top with Rose Cava of your choice. Enjoy!

Recipes by Joseph Campanale, Executive Beverage Director, Epicurean Group


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