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Going Low-Carb & Healthy for Spring! Grilled Parmesan Zucchini Beef Burgers & Sauteed Lemon Garlic Squash

Posted by on Apr 14, 2014 in Beef, Comfort Food, Diet, Entrees, Gluten-Free Recipes, Grilled Recipes, Healthy Cooking, Nutrition, Salads, Savory Dishes, Side Dishes, Spring Recipes, Summer Recipes, Uncategorized, Vegetable Dishes, Veggies | 0 comments

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Spring Flowers in Bloom

Spring Flowers in Bloom

Well, Spring is FINALLY here and the weather in NYC has been absolutely gorgeous this past week. I get so motivated when the weather warms up to go walking in the park, get moving around town, and most of all start eating healthy and maybe drop a few pounds or two to get ready for Summer. Plus, with all the gorgeous fresh fruits and veggies at the farmers markets – it’s hard to resist dreaming up some healthy, light recipes to get excited about making.

I know what you’re probably thinking – sometimes “low-carb diet” is a taboo word. And I’ve tried a few of them that have worked in the past (Atkins and South Beach Diet), but once I started eating normal again, the pounds just came back. So I’m making over my diet for the long term with foods that are good carbs – fresh green non-starchy veggies, low-glycemic fruits like berries and melon and citrus, light dairy including cheese and Greek yogurt, and healthy lean proteins across the board with omega3-enriched eggs, turkey, chicken, fish, beef, pork and seafood. My main goal is to cut out sugar and refined carbs like flour, pasta, bread, crackers, processed foods. Oh, the sugar cravings start kicking in the first few days, but once I get through the first week – it’s amazing how those cravings just go away. And my palate changes to crave all the good, healthy foods that actually keep me full and keep those cravings at bay. Yes, I will miss chocolate dearly. And crackers, and bread and pasta. But at the end of the day, once I start eating healthy low-carb, I actually FEEL better. And SLEEP better. And my allergies and body aches GO AWAY.

I’m not talking about living on cheeseburgers, bacon and eggs my whole life. Just cutting down on the bad carbs that make me cranky. And tired. And have mood swings and blood sugar swings. It’s crazy how good I feel and hey, it doesn’t hurt to lose a few pounds along the way. So here goes – Day 1 of my Get Into Shape Low-Carb, Feel Good Diet for Spring. Let’s see if I can keep this going for a few weeks – who knows. I might not miss that chocolate as much as I think I will. And if I feel like cheating? Well a square of dark chocolate here and there (or a glass of wine!) might just have to happen. And I won’t feel guilty one bit. Especially when I’m feeling amazing in my bikini on the beach this summer :)

Parmesan Zucchini Burgers & Sauteed Lemon Garlic Zucchini

Parmesan Zucchini Burgers & Sauteed Lemon Garlic Zucchini

I whipped up this tasty recipe today for some grilled Parmesan Zucchini Beef Burgers & Sauteed Lemon Garlic Squash. The burgers are made with lean beef (but you can substitute ground chicken or turkey if you like), finely minced zucchini, egg, grated Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper, garlic powder and red pepper flakes, then grilled to perfection, served over an arugula salad with a light vinaigrette dressing. I sauteed the zucchini and yellow squash in a lemon-infused olive oil, with some crushed garlic cloves, a pinch of dill and red pepper flakes, and that’s it! Light, healthy, filling and totally delicious. I think I could do this all the time. Enjoy! (and wish me luck!)

Going Low-Carb & Healthy for Spring! Grilled Parmesan Zucchini Beef Burgers & Sauteed Lemon Garlic Squash

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Serving Size: 4-6

Ingredients

  • Burgers:
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/3 cup zucchini, diced fine
  • 1 egg
  • 4 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste (about 6 grinds for me)
  • Arugula, dressed with a light vinaigrette, for serving
  • -----
  • Zucchini Squash:
  • 2 tablespoons lemon-infused olive oil
  • 2 small-medium zucchini, sliced and halved
  • 1 small-medium yellow squash, sliced and halved
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dill (dried or fresh)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper (a few grinds is good, but adjust to taste)

Instructions

  1. Heat a grill over medium-high heat.
  2. Place all the burger ingredients into a large bowl and mix together well with hands, make 4-6 burger patties.
  3. Grill burgers for 4-6 minutes (depending on how well done you like them).
  4. Add a slice of melted provolone cheese on top and some hot sauce, if desired.
  5. Serve burgers over arugula salad dressed in a light vinaigrette dressing.
  6. -----
  7. Heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat.
  8. Slice zucchini into small moon-shaped slices, peel and smash garlic.
  9. Saute zucchini and squash and garlic cloves for about 5-7 minutes until soft and cooked through (but not mushy).
  10. Add red pepper flakes, dill, sea salt and pepper, stir together.
  11. Serve immediately with burgers and arugula salad.
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Parmesan Zucchini Burgers & Sauteed Lemon Garlic Zucchini Squash

Parmesan Zucchini Burgers & Sauteed Lemon Garlic Zucchini Squash

 

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Cheesy Baked Pasta w/ Sausage, Broccoli Rabe, Ricotta & Mozzarella

Posted by on Mar 15, 2014 in Baking, Cheese, Comfort Food, Entrees, Ethnic Recipes, Healthy Cooking, Italian, Italian Dishes, Italian Food, One-Pot Dishes, Pasta, Pork, Savory Dishes, Spring Recipes, Uncategorized, Veggies, Winter Recipes | 0 comments

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CheesyBakedPasta1

Spring is on the way, and there’s nothing I love to cook more than fresh greens. Broccoli rabe is one of my favorites, also known as cime di rapa (meaning “turnip tops”), rapini, broccoli di rapa and broccoletti in Italy. The young leaves of the plant are used in cooking along with the clusters of green buds that resemble small heads of broccoli. The flavor of the vegetable is slightly nutty, bitter and pungent and has tons of vitamin A, potassium, calcium and iron, with its peak season from fall to spring.

Broccoli Rabe

I decided to incorporate it into a cheesy baked pasta dish made with fresh sweet Italian sausage and three cheeses (ricotta, Parmigiano-Reggiano and mozzarella), along with some fun mushroom flavored pasta, tossed in truffle oil. I picked up some fresh broccoli rabe at the farmers market and sautéed it with some garlic, red pepper flakes and extra virgin olive oil until aromatic, then tossed it into a big casserole dish with the pasta, cheeses and a dash of nutmeg and lemon zest, and baked it into a big pot of golden bubbly brown goodness.

Sauteed Broccoli Rabe-Sausage

Pasta

Ready for Oven

The dish is a perfect light one-pot dish, and is  superb served with a glass of crisp Italian white wine, a simple Arugula salad tossed with lemon, S&P, and shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and crusty Italian bread with olive oil and red pepper flakes for dipping. Andiamo a mangiare!

Baked Pasta Dish

Ingredients

Kosher salt
1 bunch broccoli rabe, stems removed, chopped into large pieces
1 pound of pasta (dried ziti or penne, or chunky pasta of your choice)
2 tablespoons white truffle oil
Extra Virgin olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, minced or sliced
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
1 pound ground sweet or hot Italian sausage
1 (15 ounce) container whole milk ricotta
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 egg, whisked
A dash of nutmeg
1 teaspoon of fresh lemon zest
Fresh ground black pepper
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9”x13” or 10” round casserole dish and set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and set up an ice bath in a large bowl to the side. Cook the broccoli rabe in the boiling water for 1 minute and immediately remove and plunge into ice bath to cool for another few minutes. Pat dry and set aside. Add the pasta to the boiling water and let cook until al dente, according to package directions. Drain and rinse pasta in cool water to stop cooking, while reserving ¼ cup of hot pasta water. Toss with white truffle oil and set aside.

Heat a large sauté pan with olive oil and bring the pan to a medium heat. Sauté the garlic and red pepper flakes for about a minute or two, until soft and aromatic. Add the broccoli rabe and toss with olive oil, add salt and heat through. Remove from pan and set aside.

In the same pan, heat more olive oil over medium high heat. Add chopped onion and sauté for about 3-5 minutes until soft and light golden brown. Add ground sausage and cook until browned, drain off any excess fat.

Return the cooked pasta and broccoli rabe into the large sauté pan with the sausage and onion mixture.

Toss the ricotta cheese with whisked egg, nutmeg, lemon zest, salt and pepper to taste. Add to the cooked pasta, broccoli rabe and sausage-onion mixture in the large sauté pan, mixing ingredients together well. Stir in ¼ cup of pasta water to make a light sauce.

Place the pasta mixture into the greased casserole dish. Top with shredded mozzarella cheese and bake for approximately 30-35 minutes until cheese is bubbly and golden brown. Let stand for 5 minutes, sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley and additional grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for garnish.

Serve with a glass of crisp Italian white wine, a simple Arugula salad tossed with lemon, S&P, and shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and crusty Italian bread with olive oil and red pepper flakes for dipping.

Serves 8.

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Spicy Thai Chicken Peanut Noodles

Posted by on Mar 3, 2014 in Asian Food, Chicken, Comfort Food, Dressings/Marinades, Entrees, Ethnic Recipes, Healthy Cooking, Pasta, Sauces, Savory Dishes, Spicy Food, Uncategorized, Veggies, Winter Recipes | 0 comments

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Spicy Thai Chicken Peanut Noodles

I don’t know about you, but Thai food is one of my favorite foods ever. I love the harmony of flavors and textures in Thai food that all play together like a perfect symphony. One of my all time favorites is Thai Peanut Noodles – similar to Pad Thai, but with a smooth peanut sauce with a hint of heat. I decided to kick it up a notch by adding some Spicy Thai Chicken that pairs perfectly with the creamy peanut-y noodles.

This dish is a gorgeous combination of spicy, savory and sweet with a marinade base for the chicken made with sesame, honey, soy sauce, garlic, and chile sauce, mixed with acidic notes of rice vinegar. It’s the perfect marriage of varying textures from the chewy noodles, crunchy peanuts and water chestnuts, all bathed in a smooth and luscious damn-good-peanut-sauce. Then to perfect it even more, it’s topped with fresh bright flavors of cilantro, lime and scallions. It’s so good, it just might be illegal. And don’t be ashamed to dig in right out of the pan. Grab some chopsticks, a pal or two and go to town. It’s rustic Asian comfort food at its best. Serve with a sweeter wine such as a Riesling, which pairs nicely with the spicy Asian flavors in this dish.

Spicy Thai Chicken Peanut Noodles

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Yield: 6-8

Ingredients

  • Spicy Chicken Marinade:
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 6 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Rice Vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Thai Garlic-Chile Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried ginger
  • Thai Peanut Sauce:
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons Thai Garlic-Chile Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Squeeze of fresh lime juice
  • Chopped peanuts, for garnish
  • Fresh squeezed lime, for garnish
  • Chopped Cilantro, for garnish
  • Sliced scallions, for garnish
  • Canola oil cooking spray
  • 2 pounds chicken breast cutlets, sliced into thin strips
  • 1 can water chestnuts, diced
  • 1 package Thai Rice Noodles (flat, wide or Pad Thai)

Instructions

  1. Prepare Spicy Chicken Marinade:
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add all nine ingredients (sesame oil through dried ginger) along with sliced chicken breast and mix together thoroughly, coating chicken well. Top with plastic wrap and let chicken marinade in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes up to 2 hours.
  3. Once chicken is done marinating, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook Thai noodles according to package directions, drain and rinse in cold water to stop cooking. Set aside.
  4. Meanwhile, heat a large saute pan over medium heat, spray with cooking spray and saute chicken for approximately 8 minutes until cooked through and no longer pink. Add diced water chestnuts and saute for another minute or two until soft and heated through. Note: Make sure to drain and discard extra marinade off the chicken before sauteing to allow the chicken to brown in the pan and not steam. Reduce heat to low, cover and keep warm.
  5. Make the peanut sauce: combine soy sauce, peanut butter, broth, garlic-chile sauce, honey, salt and lime juice in a medium saucepan over medium heat, mixing and stirring well until sauce is smooth and blended. Toss noodles together with peanut sauce.
  6. Add the peanut noodles into the large pan with the cooked chicken and water chestnuts, toss together well with tongs to blend the flavors and ingredients. Squeeze fresh lime juice over the top, and garnish with chopped peanuts, cilantro, and sliced scallions. Add additional red pepper flakes or garlic-chile sauce for extra heat, as desired.

Notes

A sweet German Riesling wine would pair well with the spicy acidic flavors in this Asian dish.

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Spicy Thai Chicken Peanut Noodles4

Spicy Thai Chicken Peanut Noodles 3

Spicy Thai Chicken Peanut Noodles 2

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Holiday Brunch! Caramelized Onion, Ham & Gouda Tart :: Pear, Bleu Cheese, Cranberry & Toasted Pecan Salad with Honey Vinaigrette :: Chicken Empanadillas :: Gluten-Free Spinach, Mushroom and Cheese Egg Casserole :: Brown Sugar Butter Monkey Bread

Posted by on Jan 1, 2014 in Baking, Breakfast, Breakfast Food, Cheese, Chicken, Dressings/Marinades, Eggs, Entrees, Ethnic Recipes, Fall Recipes, French Recipes, Gluten-Free Recipes, Gourmet Food and Drinks, Healthy Cooking, Holiday, Holiday Recipes, Latin Food, Mexican Food, One-Pot Dishes, Pies and Tarts, Salads, Savory Dishes, Side Dishes, Spanish Food/Tapas, Special Occasion, Uncategorized, Vegetable Dishes, Vegetarian, Veggies, Winter Recipes | 0 comments

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Holiday Brunch

Holiday Brunch

It wouldn’t be the holidays without catching up with friends and family and coming together for a fun holiday brunch with friends that I only get to see a couple times a year. There’s nothing better than gathering in the kitchen and around the table to eat, drink, and laugh together over some great food and drinks.

Holiday Brunch with the Girls

Holiday Brunch with the Girls

We decided to all bring a dish for our brunch (I love potlucks!) – I made a Caramelized Onion, Ham and Gouda Tart, my Sister brought a Pear, Bleu Cheese, Cranberry and Toasted Pecan Salad with Honey Vinaigrette. We also had homemade Chicken Empanadillas from my friend Julie, a Gluten-Free Spinach and Mushroom Egg Casserole by Donna (our gracious host!) and Rachel’s Brown Sugar Butter Monkey Bread was to die for! Teresa brought some gorgeous Christmas cookies and Peppermint Bark for dessert. Here’s a roundup of our recipes for the perfect holiday brunch..enjoy!

Caramelized Onion, Ham & Gouda Tart

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 6

Caramelized Onion, Ham & Gouda Tart

This savory tart recipe is perfect for the holidays and easy to make. You can either make it in a 9-inch tart pan or in a pie dish. It has tons of chunky ham, lots of gooey melty cheese, and caramelized onions, covered in a creamy egg custard with herbs baked in a crunchy, flaky pie dough. You could also substitute crispy bacon or prosciutto for the ham, and use any melty cheese you like. The caramelized onions and garlic give it a tangy sweet flavor that goes perfect with the cheesy creamy custard.

Ingredients

  • 1 refrigerated pie shell dough (fresh or store-bought)
  • 1 cup cooked and cubed ham
  • 1 medium onion, halved and sliced thin
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup light cream
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped (or 1 tsp dried)
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped (or 1 tsp dried)
  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 3/4 cup Gouda cheese, sliced or shredded (can also substitute Gouda, Cheddar or another soft cheese that melts well)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Roll out pie dough into a 9" pie dish, overlapping dough 1 inch over edge of pie dish. Flute edges.
  3. Heat a large sauté pan over medium-low heat, add olive oil and butter and onions.
  4. Saute onions for about 5 minutes until soft, add maple syrup and stir.
  5. Saute onions for another 5-10 minutes until they become caramelized and golden brown, add garlic and cook another minute or so. Remove from heat and set aside.
  6. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl whisk together sour cream, egg, egg yolk, light cream, fresh thyme, parsley and salt and pepper to make the custard filling.
  7. Scatter the caramelized onions into the pie shell, and top with diced ham and cheese.
  8. Pour custard over the top evenly into the shell. Bake tart for 10 minutes.
  9. Take tart out of the oven and cover the crust edges with strips of foil and bake an additional 15 minutes until bubbly and golden brown..
  10. Let tart cool on a wire baking rack, cut into wedges and serve.
  11. Note: if using homemade dough, pre-bake tart shell covered in foil with dried beans or pie weights at 400 degrees F for 15-17 minutes, then and add meat and veggies and custard filling and bake for additional 20 minutes or so until the tart is set.

Notes

Recipe inspired by Andrew Zimmern's Bacon-Onion Tart, Food & Wine Magazine

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Pear, Bleu Cheese, Cranberry & Toasted Pecan Salad with Honey Viniagrette

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 6-8

Pear, Bleu Cheese, Cranberry & Toasted Pecan Salad with Honey Viniagrette

This is one of my favorite Winter salads made with a gorgeous combination of flavors and textures. It has fresh sliced pears, toasted pecans, crumbly bleu cheese and red onions, bathed in a slightly sweet honey vinaigrette.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup pecans, toasted
  • 1/2 head iceberg lettuce, chopped
  • 1/2 head romaine lettuce or 1/2 bag mixed greens, chopped
  • 1/2 large red onion, sliced thin
  • 3/4 cup crumbly bleu cheese
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1-2 pears, cored and sliced
  • Dressing:
  • 3 tbsp veg oil
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons honey, heated
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper (optional)

Instructions

  1. Salad:
  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  3. Place pecans on a baking sheet and toast for 7-10 minutes until lightly browned.
  4. Chop lettuces and slice onion, add to large salad bowl with cranberries.
  5. Core and cut pears into thin slices. Toss some into salad, save some for topping.
  6. Heat honey and make dressing; toss with salad ingredients, top with crumbly bleu cheese and sliced pears.
  7. Dressing:
  8. Combine vinegar, warmed honey, salt and pepper in a blender or whisk together well in a mixing bowl.
  9. Slowly stream in olive oil whisking vigorously until all oil is blended into a gorgeous vinaigrette dressing.
  10. Toss with salad ingredients.
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Chicken Empanadillas (Empanadas)

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 10-12 empanadillas

Chicken Empanadillas (Empanadas)

This is a classic recipe for Chicken Empanadillas (or empanadas). It has a flaky buttery dough surrounding a savory mixture of shredded cooked chicken, onions and spices, then lightly fried to crispy golden brown perfection. Serve with fresh tomato salsa for some extra heat and Latin flavor.

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp. Evoo
  • ½ lb. cooked chicken breast & thigh
  • ½ medium yellow onion, finely chopped (about ½ cup)
  • ¼ cup Tomato Sauce
  • 6 Spanish Olives Stuffed with Minced Pimientos, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp. Sofrito
  • 1 packet Sazón with Coriander and Annatto
  • 1 tsp. Minced Garlic or 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp. Dried Oregano Ground Black Pepper, to taste
  • 1 package (14 oz.) Discos (Yellow), thawed Corn Oil, for frying

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shredded chicken and cook until browned, breaking up meat with a spoon, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add onions and cook until soft, about 5 minutes more.
  3. Stir in tomato sauce, olives, Sofrito, Sazón, garlic, oregano and black pepper. Lower heat to medium-low and simmer until mixture thickens, about 15 minutes.
  4. On a lightly floured work surface, using a rolling pin, roll out discos until ½” larger in diameter. Spoon about 1 tbsp. meat mixture into middle, fold in half to form a half moon; moisten edges with water and pinch to seal closed, or seal with a fork.
  5. Fill a deep saucepan with oil to a depth of 2½”. Heat oil over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking (350°F on deep-fry thermometer).
  6. Cook Empanadas in batches until crisp and golden brown, flipping once, 4 – 6 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
  7. Serve warm or at room temperature with a side of salsa.
  8. Makes 10 to 12 empanadillas.
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Gluten-Free Spinach, Mushroom and Cheese Egg Casserole

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 8

Gluten-Free Spinach, Mushroom and Cheese Egg Casserole

This is a healthy and delicious gluten-free egg casserole made with spinach, sautéed mushrooms, onions and cheese baked into a fluffy savory dish that will feed a crowd and leave room for the heavier fare at the brunch table.

Ingredients

  • 1 large bag (10 oz. each) spinach
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (6 oz)
  • 1 1/2 packages (8 oz. each) sliced mushrooms
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup Gluten-Free Bisquick® mix
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 eggs

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 400°F. Spray 9-inch glass pie plate with cooking spray.
  2. Sprinkle spinach, 1 cup of the cheese, the mushrooms and onion in pie plate.(I personally recommend sautéing the onions and mushrooms for a few minutes first to soften them before adding to the casserole.)
  3. In medium bowl, stir remaining ingredients with wire whisk or fork until blended. Pour into pie plate.
  4. Bake 35 to 38 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese.
  5. Bake 1 to 2 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Notes

Recipe adapted from Betty Crocker

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Brown Sugar Butter Monkey Bread

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes

Yield: 12

Brown Sugar Butter Monkey Bread

This recipe for Monkey Bread is sure to be a huge hit at your next brunch gathering with friends. It's super easy to make, using Pillsbury biscuits and is topped with brown sugar, butter, walnuts and cinnamon baked into a caramelized construction of sweet buttery goodness. It won't last longer than 5 minutes - promise!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 cans (16.3 oz each) Pillsbury® Grands!® Homestyle refrigerated buttermilk biscuits
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, if desired
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter or margarine, melted

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease 12-cup fluted tube pan with shortening or cooking spray. In large -storage plastic food bag, mix granulated sugar and cinnamon.
  2. Separate dough into 16 biscuits; cut each into quarters. Shake in bag to coat. Arrange in pan, adding walnuts among the biscuit pieces.
  3. In small bowl, mix brown sugar and butter; pour over biscuit pieces.
  4. Bake 28 to 32 minutes or until golden brown and no longer doughy in center. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Turn upside down onto serving plate; pull apart to serve. Serve warm.

Notes

Recipe from Pillsbury.com

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Girls-Brunch-Table

As I reflect on 2013, this has been a year filled with challenges and opportunities, adventures and growth both personally and professionally. Good times and bad times, which I’m thankful for and have made me stronger. Wishing all of you a Happy New Year 2014 and health, happiness and good eating! Cheers! xx

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Food Styling for Mario Lopez and Avocados from Mexico on NBC Live and Bethenny Shows!

Posted by on Dec 17, 2013 in Appetizers, Cheese, Chicken, Comfort Food, Dressings/Marinades, Entrees, Ethnic Recipes, Fall Recipes, Food Styling & Photography, Gourmet Food and Drinks, Healthy Cooking, Holiday, Holiday Recipes, Italian, Italian Dishes, Italian Food, Latin Food, Mediterranean, Mexican Food, Nutrition, NYC, Salads, Savory Dishes, Special Occasion, Spreads/Dips, Uncategorized, Vegan, Vegetable Dishes, Vegetarian, Veggies, Winter Recipes | 0 comments

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Mario Lopez NBC Live

I recently did a fun food styling TV segment for Mario Lopez and Avocados from Mexico on the Bethenny show and NBC New York Live. The segment featured Mario discussing his new cookbook Extra Lean,  demonstrating how to use fresh avocados in your everyday cooking for delicious healthy meals. I made his Chicken Enchiladas with Black Bean, Corn and Avocado Salsa for the show – it turned out absolutely delicious and was a hit backstage! I also made some gorgeous Avocado, Mozzarella and Tomato Salad Bites for the Bethenny Show that were super cute and delicious. Here’s the recipes and some fun behind the scenes photos from the show!

WATCH THE VIDEO FROM NY LIVE NBC SHOW 

Chicken Enchiladas

Chicken Enchiladas with Black Bean, Avocado and Corn Salsa

Serves 3

Ingredients:

6 corn tortillas
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup diced bell pepper
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried oregano
6 oz cooked chicken breast, shredded
2 tbsp canned green chiles
1/2 cup mild tomato salsa, divided
1/2 cup low fat shredded cheese (cheddar or Monterey Jack recommended)
Chopped scallions
Hot sauce (optional)
Nonstick cooking spray

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Wrap tortillas in aluminum foil and place in the oven to warm.
  3. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat; add onions and peppers. Season with salt and oregano and sauté for 5 minutes.
  4. Add chicken, green chiles, 1/2 cup salsa, and spinach and cook until spinach is wilted.
  5. Remove tortillas from the oven and spray a 9 x 9 inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray
  6. Place 1/4 cup of chicken mixture in a tortilla, roll up and transfer to baking dish; repeat with remaining tortillas.
  7. Top tortillas with Black Bean, Avocado and Corn Salsa and cheese and bake for 10 minutes until cheese is melted.
  8. Garnish with chopped scallions, additional Black Bean, Avocado and Corn Salsa and serve with hot sauce, if desired.

—–

Black Bean, Avocado and Corn Salsa

Serves 4 – 8

Ingredients:

1/4 cup vinaigrette salad dressing
1/4 cup sliced scallions
2 tbsps chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp grated lime peel
1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup corn kernels
1/2 cup diced red pepper
1 fully ripened avocado from Mexico, halved, pitted, peeled and diced

Directions:

In large bowl, whisk together salad dressing, scallions, cilantro and lime peel. Stir in beans, corn and red pepper. Add avocado; toss gently. Season with salt, if desired.

photo: Kristen Hess

Avocado-Mozzarella-and-Tomato-Salad

Avocado, Mozzarella and Tomato Salad

Serves: 4 – 6

Ingredients:

  • 2 Hass Avocados from Mexico, sliced
  • 2 ripe tomatoes
  • 1 pound mozzarella
  • 1 1/2 ounce bunch of fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  • With a small knife or “shark”, cut the little stem end out of the tomato using a serrated knife, cut the tomatoes into 1/3 inch slices.
  • Slice the mozzarella 1/4 inch thick.
  • Alternate slices of Avocado, tomato, mozzarella and basil leaves like playing cards on individual plates.
  • Drizzle on the olive oil and vinegar.
  • Season with salt and pepper.

photo: Avocados from Mexico

Mario Lopez

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Set and Mario Lopez photos: Kristen Hess

 

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Seasonal Cooking with Honey :: Recipes from the Fresh Honey Cookbook

Posted by on Dec 12, 2013 in Beef, Book Reviews, Cheese, Comfort Food, Desserts, Entrees, Fall Recipes, Food Styling & Photography, Fruit, Gourmet Food and Drinks, Healthy Cooking, Holiday, Holiday Recipes, Italian, Italian Dishes, Italian Food, Mediterranean, One-Pot Dishes, Pasta, Pies and Tarts, Salads, Savory Dishes, Side Dishes, Special Occasion, Thanksgiving Recipes, Uncategorized, Vegan, Vegetable Dishes, Vegetarian, Veggies, Winter Recipes | 0 comments

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The Fresh Honey Cookbook

The Fresh Honey Cookbook

I love cooking with honey – not only in the Fall or dead of Winter, but all year around. It’s such a nice substitute for regular sugar and gives a warm, homey flavor to almost all types of recipes. I recently picked up a copy of The Fresh Honey Cookbook, by Beekeeper, Caterer, Chef and Spokesperson for The National Honey Board and Café owner Laurey Masterson of Asheville NC.  I fell in love with her vibrant recipes using different varieties of honey throughout all 12 months of the year – she offers honey-tasting tips and recipes featuring seasonal ingredients for dishes both savory and sweet.

Each chapter is organized around a specific honey for the month including orange blossom, tupelo, avocado, eucalyptus and blueberry honey and more. In January, she has a recipe for Meyer lemon and Honey-Marinated Chicken Skewers, Pork Tenderloin with Orange Blossom Honey Mustard and Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic. In the Summer, she features delicious fresh recipes for Grilled Garlic Shrimp with a Fresh Heirloom Tomato Sauce, Vermont-Style Summer Squash Casserole, and Broiled Peaches with Sourwood Honey.

She also goes into detail about her experience as a beekeeper and teaches readers how bees make honey, how it’s harvested, what they can do to help the bee population and what is going on in the hives throughout the year.

Here are a few of my favorite recipes from the book for the chilly months of the Winter season. Enjoy!

Roasted-Delicata-Squash

roasted delicata squash with tuscan kale

Serves 8–10

Delicata squash is naturally sweet and pairs so nicely with the kale and the other tastes of Italy and the Mediterranean. This recipe calls for pine nuts, which are quite expensive these days, but the buttery texture and flavor is so delicious that I am reluctant to suggest an alternative. This dish is great as a lunch salad or as a warm side dish. She recommends pairing this with her Deviled Beef Bones recipe made with Eucalyptus Honey (recipe follows).

Ingredients:

3 Delicata squash (about 3 pounds total)
Extra-virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon coarse salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound bow-tie pasta
2 bunches Italian (Tuscan Lacinato) kale
½ cup pine nuts
1 cup crumbled feta cheese

Preparation:

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Cut into 1-inch chunks (there’s no need to remove the edible skin). Arrange on a baking sheet and spray or brush with olive oil. Season with the salt and pepper. Roast 10 to 15 minutes, until tender. Allow to cool.

3. Fill a large pot with water, add salt, and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until just tender. Drain, rinse, and set aside.

4. Remove the leaves of the kale from the stems and cut into large pieces. Set up a steaming basket over boiling water, and steam the kale just until bright green, about 2 minutes. Remove and plunge into ice water to stop the cooking and keep them bright green.

5. Toast the pine nuts in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat until light brown, 3 to 5 minutes. (Stay nearby while you’re toasting. Left unattended, they can easily burn.)

6. Combine the pasta, kale, squash, and pine nuts in a large bowl. Toss, and then add the cheese. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Enjoy!

——–

deviled beef bones

Serves 8

Laurie grew up with these wonderful beef bones, which were leftovers from the standing rib beef roast served at her Mother’s Blueberry Hill restaurant. The fat rib bones have a lot of meat and are enough to make a substantial meal out of them. They are served in a barbecue sauce that is a dark, wintry mixture featuring Eucalyptus Honey, which resembles molasses or Louisiana cane syrup. It is then combined with mustard and served as a delicious sauce for the beef bones.

Eucalyptus Honey varies from light amber to very dark brown, depending on where the eucalyptus is growing. It has a stronger taste then the lighter honeys, but is very pleasing to folks who have a more adventurous palate. This dark honey is perfect for the chillier days of Autumn and Winter.

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon dry mustard
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon eucalyptus honey
1 tablespoon molasses
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
6-8 whole beef rib bones, cooked

Preparation:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F if using cooked ribs, or 450°F if using uncooked ribs.
  2. Combine the dry mustard, salt, Dijon mustard, vinegar, honey, molasses, and Worcestershire sauce in a small bowl. Whisk well.
  3. If your ribs are already cooked, place them on a baking sheet, brush with the barbecue sauce, and cook in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes. Finish them under the broiler for 5 to 7 minutes until crispy.
  4. If your ribs are not cooked, place them in a baking pan, brush with the barbecue sauce, and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and reduce the heat to 350°F. Brush the ribs again with the sauce and return to the oven for 20 to 25 minutes longer. Remove the ribs once more and brush with more sauce. Turn the heat to broil and broil for 5 to 7 minutes, until the ribs are crispy (but not burned!!). Serve warm.

 

Pears with Bleu Cheese

pears with blue cheese, toasted pecans, and chestnut honey vinaigrette

Serves 8

I get excited by the proliferation of pears in the market in the winter. I imagine what it would be like to live in Washington or Oregon. And so, though they are not local to me in December, pears are available and abundant and become the foundation for this delicious salad. Sweet, salty, bitter, and sour: All four tastes are in this salad, which makes it a memorable one for your guests.

This recipe uses a Chestnut Honey, which is one of the stronger honeys prized in Tuscany as a local taste. Italians appreciate many more bitter flavors than we do, and it has a big taste explosion for your palate. The color, flavor and smell of Chestnut Honey varies depending on the source of the Chestnut trees. Descriptors go from light and slightly pungent to extremely strong, breathtaking and lingering.

Ingredients:

For the vinaigrette

2 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey, preferably chestnut honey
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

For the salad

¼ cup pecan pieces, toasted
4 ripe but firm pears
¼ cup crumbled blue cheese (Maytag)

Preparation:

1.  To make the vinaigrette, combine the orange juice, vinegar, and honey in a small bowl and stir with a wire whisk until well mixed. Drizzle the oil into the bowl in a thin stream, whisking constantly until well blended. This will take 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

2. To make the salad, toast the pecans in a small dry saucepan for 2 to 3 minutes over medium heat, watching carefully and tossing often so they don’t burn.

3. Cut the pears in half from the stem to the blossom end. Remove the core, and cut each half in half again.

4. Arrange the pear quarters on individual salad plates. Sprinkle with the cheese and toasted pecans and, just before serving, drizzle with the vinaigrette.

 

Easy Tarte Tatin

easy tarte tatin

I love tarte tatin, the inverted apple pastry, but I am not the best baker in the world, as I’m not really patient with careful measuring. Frankly, I am much more comfortable cooking than baking. But this recipe will produce a grand result even if you’re not a serious baker. And if you have any leftovers, they make a great breakfast.

Get the best tart local apples you can find. With that start, you’ll do very well.

Ingredients:

1  sheet frozen puff pastry
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
½ cup honey, preferably eucalyptus or local honey
3 pounds tart apples, peeled, cored, and sliced into wedges
Unbleached all-purpose flour, for the pastry
Ice cream for serving (optional)

Preparation:

1. Following the instructions on the package, thaw the puff pastry. This will take 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the type of pastry. You should be able to unfold it without breaking. Set aside.

2. Melt the butter in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat. Add the honey. Stir well to blend thoroughly. Carefully arrange the apple wedges in the bottom of the skillet in a decorative pattern, taking special care on the first layer, as it will end up being the top of the tart. Take care, also, to fill in any holes with other apple pieces. Continue to layer the apples until you have used all the apple slices. Since they will shrink as they cook, you want the uncooked apples to be higher than the edges of the skillet, so add more if needed.

3. Cook over medium heat on the stove until the juices bubble up and change from clear to a rich amber color, 15 to 25 minutes, depending on the heat and the consistency of your apples. As they cook, press the apples down with a rubber spatula; once the juices are visible, baste the apples with the juices. Keep an eye on them and don’t allow them to burn. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.

4. Preheat the oven to 475°F.

5. Roll out the thawed pastry on a floured surface, until it is a square that can comfortably fit over the skillet. Lay the puff pastry over the cooked fruit, making sure that the pastry completely covers the apples. Tuck the pastry into the sides of the skillet, sealing in the apples.

6. Bake the pastry-covered skillet in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the pastry puffs up and turns a golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

7. Place a serving platter on top of the cooked pastry and, holding tight, flip the skillet over so that the tart comes out of the skillet and ends up on the platter, pastry side down. Remove any of the cooked apples that might have stuck to the skillet and tuck them into the tart as needed.

8. Serve with ice cream, if you like, though it is perfect just as it is.

“Excerpted from The Fresh Honey Cookbook (c) by Laurey Masterton, photography (c) by Johnny Autry, used with permission from Storey Publishing.”

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