Summer is here and it’s absolutely my favorite time of the year! The sun is shining, the trees are in bloom, and everyone is outside enjoying the weather making it prime time for entertaining family and friends with barbecue and cocktails by the beach, lake or even in the backyard by the pool. I’ve put together some party planning and decorating tips for the perfect summer outdoor beach party, along with some menu ideas featuring lots of fresh seafood, finger foods, and refreshing fruits and veggies.
One of my favorite recipes to make for a summer outdoor beach party is a Shrimp and Veggie Pasta Salad with Lemon-Herb Vinaigrette. It has a light, lemony herb dressing with fresh basil and tarragon, lots of veggies including cucumbers, celery, roasted red peppers, grilled corn and scallions for some extra crunch, and fresh sautéed savory shrimp. It goes perfectly with grilled chicken, burgers, skewers and fresh fruit like watermelon, pineapple and mango.
I made this amazing summer salad using my KitchenAid® 3-Speed Hand Blender - check out the full post on KitchenEnthusiast.com for the full recipe and all my fun tips on creating the Perfect Beach Bash this Summer!
CLICK HERE FOR PARTY PLANNING TIPS AND THE FULL RECIPE! http://blog.kitchenaid.com/tips-perfect-beach-party-recipe/
I recently got invited to the Annual Pie Party GE Potluck with a group of food professionals from NYC, NJ and PA, and in order to attend you had to be a food professional and of course, bring a unique and delicious pie. Tickets to this awesome event were a hot commodity and sold out as always, so thanks to Harvard Common Press for releasing an extra ticket last minute me! I knew everyone would probably bring an array of sweet, and gooey pies and tarts – enough to make you swoon and pass out from a sugar coma.
I’m not really a huge sweets person so I decided to make a savory Potato, Bacon & Gruyere Pie with Shallots, Creme Fraiche & Fresh Herbs, which is really more like a tart or quiche, just to switch it up and bring something different to the party.
The 3 hour party had hundreds of gorgeous sweet and savory pies from food bloggers, writers, and local Chefs in the food industry, and was planned and hosted by Jackie Gordon aka The Diva That Ate New York and Ken Leung aka Hungry Rabbit at the gorgeous GE Monogram Design Center in NYC.
We had tons of fun meeting other foodies
and sampling the goods,
watched a cooking demo by Chef Tagere showing us how to make gorgeous handmade Empanadas,
and did lots and lots of eating
and drinking and mingling with some of the best foodies on the East Coast!
Our awesome sponsors of this amazing party were: OXO, Jarlsberg, Kerrygold, Dub Pies, Wusthof, Snapware, Woolwich Dairy and Anolon.
Plus we got some great swag bags full of goodies from our generous sponsors to take home with us to enjoy all the leftover pie for the next week.
Pie pans from Anolon, gorgeous knives from Wusthof, measuring spoons and a strawberry huller from OXO, a take home container by Snapware, a gorgeous Aussie Beef Pie from Dub Pies, mini Jarlsberg cheese and lots of beautiful creamy butter from Kerrygold USA.
All hail to the pie makers!
Now back to my pie. This is one of my favorite recipes ever. It has a delicious buttery crust with a savory filling of thinly sliced potatoes, crispy bacon, Gruyere cheese, sage, shallots and garlic, with a touch of cream and crème fraiche inside to make it extra creamy and give a nice sauce to envelop all those delicious potatoes. It’s then baked into a golden brown and topped with a dollop of crème fraiche, chopped Italian parsley, sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper for a finishing touch. It’s kind of like a big cheesy potato casserole you’d make for Thanksgiving dinner except it’s a pie. And who doesn’t love a good homemade fresh pie right out of the oven? I advise making two, though, (just double the pie filling recipe below) because this one will get snatched up quicker than you can grab your fork and say “pie”.
Potato, Bacon & Gruyere Pie w/ Shallots, Creme Fraiche & Fresh Herbs
The pie has a delicious buttery crust with a handmade dough and a hearty filling of thinly sliced potatoes, crispy bacon, Gruyere cheese, sage, shallots and garlic, with a touch of cream and crème fraiche inside to make it extra creamy and give a nice sauce to envelop all those delicious potatoes. It’s then baked into a golden brown and topped with a dollop of crème fraiche, chopped Italian parsley, sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper for a finishing touch.
- Pie Crust (For two 9-inch crusts):
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup cold unsalted butter; cut into ½ inch cubes
- 6 tablespoons ice water
- Potato Pie Filling (For one 9-inch Pie):
- 6 slices of bacon or pancetta
- 4 medium Russet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced into 1/16”
- 2 shallots, peeled and minced
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1-2 tablespoons fresh sage leaves, minced
- ¼ cup half and half
- 2 tablespoons crème fraiche
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Sea salt
- Freshly cracked black pepper
- 4 tablespoons crème fraiche (for garnish)
- 1-2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped (for garnish)
- For the dough, mix the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Add butter and pulse to mix until a coarse meal forms. Gradually add the ice water in until moist clumps form in the dough. Gather the dough and form into a ball. Divide in half and flatten into disks. Wrap each dough disk in plastic and chill it for at least one to two hours before rolling it out.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- Gently roll out the pie dough on a floured surface and place into a lightly greased nine-inch round pie dish. Trim and flute the edges, set aside.
- Cook the bacon slices in a large sauté pan over medium heat until crispy and browned. Drain on paper towels, crumble into small pieces and set aside.
- For the potato pie filling, peel and slice the potatoes thinly (about 1/16” rounds) with a mandolin or knife; chop shallots, garlic and sage leaves. Whisk two tablespoons of crème fraiche into the half and half in a small bowl.
- Toss the sliced potatoes with a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. Layer 1/3 of the potatoes in the dish in a circular overlapping pattern, then sprinkle with 1/3 of the shallots, garlic, sage, Gruyere cheese, half and half/crème fraiche mixture, and crumbled bacon. Repeat 2-3 more layers until all of the potato mixture and fillings are inside the pie shell. Top the pie with a little extra shredded Gruyere cheese and olive oil.
- Bake the pie for about 45 minutes until crust is golden brown and the cheese on top is melted and bubbly.
- Cool the pie on a baking rack for about 5 minutes and then top with a dollop or two of more crème fraiche, chopped parsley, sea salt and pepper for garnish.
You can also substitute pancetta or ham for the bacon, and mix in some Swiss or Emmenthaler cheese to the Gruyere if you want to make it extra cheesy and melty. Play around with the herbs too – throw in a little rosemary or thyme if you like. This recipe makes two 9-inch piecrusts, so if you want to make two pies, just double the pie filling recipe.
Photo Gallery from the Event (just click the photos to enlarge and see slideshow)
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Last Sunday on a cold rainy night last week, I started craving some homey pan-roasted chicken. And since I had some fresh asparagus from the farmer’s market I wanted to make some roasted asparagus to go with.
I found a recipe on Food.com‘s website by Rachael Ray for Garlic Roasted Chicken with Rosemary and Lemon that looked pretty delicious and decided to make my own version by tweaking the recipe and the cooking method a little bit.
Rachael’s recipe uses boneless chicken breasts and lemon along with the rosemary and garlic, and is roasted in the oven for about 25 minutes. It’s a simple recipe but I wanted to change it up a bit by using boneless chicken thighs for a richer, meatier flavor, and I added some paprika and cayenne pepper for some extra zing and savory flavor. I started out by pan-searing the chicken and garlic cloves in a Rosemary-Garlic infused olive oil for 20 minutes until they got caramelized and browned, then added the rosemary and finished the dish in the oven for another 20 minutes or so until cooked through and a lovely, golden brown. Then I made a savory pan sauce made with chicken broth, wine, lemon juice and butter to top the chicken, giving it a silky luscious sauce to bathe in.
I also made some lovely roasted asparagus to go with it simply made with olive oil, salt and pepper, some fresh lemon juice, sliced toasted almonds and a dash of dill seasoning and lemon zest to give it some bright flavor at the end.
The result? Crispy, savory chicken with tons of roasted caramel-y flavor and a fresh, lemony side dish of spring green asparagus topped with crunchy almonds and a hint of dill. Perfect for a Spring Sunday Supper!
Pan-Roasted Chicken with Rosemary and Caramelized Garlic
2 tablespoons Rosemary Garlic infused olive oil
4-5 boneless chicken thighs
6-8 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
2-3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Pinch of sweet paprika
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons butter
Preheat oven to 475 degrees and heat olive oil in a cast iron or large skillet.
Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper, cayenne and paprika, and sear over high heat skin side down for about 2-3 minutes. Lower heat to medium-high, add the garlic cloves and rosemary sprigs; cook for another 10 minutes until golden brown.
Turn off the heat, turn chicken over in the skillet, baste with some of the pan juices, and broil in the oven for another 10-12 minutes until chicken is crispy and cooked through.
Turn chicken over once more (skin side up) and continue cooking for another 5 minutes or so.
Remove chicken, garlic and rosemary sprigs from the skillet, reserving the drippings in the pan. Add chicken broth, white wine, lemon juice and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer until sauce has reduced by half. Swirl in the butter at the end to make a silky sauce. Serve sauce over the chicken and caramelized garlic.
Roasted Lemon Asparagus Almondine
1 bunch of fresh asparagus, thick woody stems trimmed
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh or dried dill seasoning
1/2 cup unsalted almonds, thin sliced
1 tablespoon lemon zest
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Wash and trim asparagus and place on a roasting sheet or in a baking dish.
Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, add lemon juice and dill. Add sliced almonds over the asparagus
Roast in the oven for 7-10 minutes until asparagus and almonds are a toasty, golden brown. Sprinkle some additional lemon zest for garnish, if desired, and serve immediately with the Pan-Roasted Rosemary Chicken and Caramelized Garlic.
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
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
- 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)
- Heat a grill over medium-high heat.
- Place all the burger ingredients into a large bowl and mix together well with hands, make 4-6 burger patties.
- Grill burgers for 4-6 minutes (depending on how well done you like them).
- Add a slice of melted provolone cheese on top and some hot sauce, if desired.
- Serve burgers over arugula salad dressed in a light vinaigrette dressing.
- Heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat.
- Slice zucchini into small moon-shaped slices, peel and smash garlic.
- Saute zucchini and squash and garlic cloves for about 5-7 minutes until soft and cooked through (but not mushy).
- Add red pepper flakes, dill, sea salt and pepper, stir together.
- Serve immediately with burgers and arugula salad.
Parmesan Zucchini Burgers & Sauteed Lemon Garlic Zucchini Squash
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!
Minted Pea & Fava Bean Crostini
Strawberry Mint Vodka Lemonade Cocktails
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.
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.
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!
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
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.