Rosemary Infused Croutons

21 Mar

Image-1What do you do when you buy too much bread? You make croutons! The key is to use bread that is slightly stale, and make sure they’re well covered in oil, but not drenched. These particular croutons are unique though because they’re baked in extra virgin olive oil that has been infused with rosemary. The richness adds such a depth to the croutons flavors. The idea is to enhance the salad with croutons though, so I mix it with regular olive oil as to not overpower the flavors of the salad’s dressing.

Ingredients

  • 1 Loaf of Bread, such as an Italian Five Grain Baguette (slightly stale)
  • 2 tbls Rosemary Infused Olive Oil
  • 2 tbls Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp Coarse Sea Salt
  • 1 tsp Cracked Black Pepper
  • 2 tsp Onion Powder
  • 2 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp Dried Oregano

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

photo 1Toss all the diced bread into a large bowl. Pour the oils and spices onto the bread, and mix well until all the bread pieces are covered. Adjust amount of oil and spices as needed. Remember to always start with smaller amounts – you can add, but it’s pretty much impossible to remove oil already soaked into bread!

photo 2Spread the bread onto a baking sheet. Be sure to try to spread the bread out evenly .

photo 3Bake until crispy and slightly browned, about 20 minutes. Keep an eye on them though, tossing as needed to ensure they’re baking consistently.

To preserve the crisp of the crouton, make sure the croutons are completely cool before placing them in a air-tight container or bag.

Honey Bunches of Quinoa, Breakfast Granola

14 Mar

photo-4Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, yet a lot of people skip it.  Which I personally don’t understand – I can’t wait to eat in the morning! :)  It’s so important though to give your body and mind much needed energy to get you going for the day ahead. This particular recipe can be made over the weekend and kept all week. The quinoa stays crispy, and the natural sweetness of the honey and maple syrup satisfy your cravings. And you get fiber in the dried fruit! So no more excuses of not having time to eat in the morning –  make it your habit to eat breakfast, and start your day off right!

This particular recipe is based off of a recipe by Gwyneth Paltrow, featured in her latest cookbook, It’s All Good. I’ve made several items from this collection, but her Quinoa Granola with Olive Oil + Maple Syrup was the first recipe I cooked. I highly recommend this book – incredible recipes, stories, and beautiful photographs fill this coffee table worthy piece.

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One section that really stuck with me was from the introduction by Dr. Habib Sadeghi. He really summed up a feeling I have for cooking. He stated “Food is spiritual because it can be a metaphor for life…There are no bad ingredients in the recipe of life. Everything adds flavor to the final product and helps us absorb what I call psychospiritual nutrition. We can fully digest all the ingredients of our life and see that they’ve come together perfectly to make for a fuller human experience. In food and life, it’s all good.

So together, lets continue to make our spirit, and our belly, happy!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups Quinoa Flakes
  • 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3 tbls Raw Honey
  • 2 tbls Good Quality Maple Syrup
  • 1/4 cup Pecans, chopped
  • 2 tbls Sunflower Seeds
  • 1/4 cup Dried Cranberries & Raisins
  • 1/2 cup Dried Prunes, chopped
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • Sea Salt
  • Optional Addition 1: Spring Break – Sub the dried fruit for Shaved Coconut with Dried Banana Chips & Mango. Omit cinnamon
  • Option Addition 2: Sweet Tooth – Sub the dried fruit for Dried Cherries & Dark Chocolate Chunks

Note: When buying your ingredients, it’s important to note that the recipe calls for Quinoa Flakes, which is different from normal quinoa.photo 2

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the olive oil, honey and maple syrup. When well mixed, add the quinoa flakes until they are well coated.

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Line a baking tray with parchment paper, and then pour the quinoa flake mixture onto the tray. Try to spread it all out so it will bake evenly. Sprinkle with the salt and cinnamon.photo 4

Bake for about 20 minutes, or until a crispy golden brown. Be sure to keep an eye on the quinoa though, stirring as needed.

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Once done, set aside to cool and then mix in the other additions. Serve on top of yogurt, or enjoy on it’s own!

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Messy Josephs

5 Mar

messyEveryone knows Sloppy Joe. This is the cousin. Just as messy, but with a new twist. Savory and sweet, this is a dish that you’re grateful you can “overflow” over the edges of the “bun”.   The balsamic acts like the brown sugar in the sloppy joe, adding the depth of sweetness. The traditional bun has been replaced by an oven-roasted portabella mushroom, but you could always use a buttery toasted bun.

Ingredients

  • 4 Portabella Caps
  • 1 Onion, diced
  • Sun Dried Tomatoes, diced
  • 1 Bag Fresh Spinach
  • 1 lb Ground Turkey
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup Tomato Paste
  • 1/3 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/3 Cup Red Wine
  • Fresh Basil, julienned
  • Marinated Red Peppers, sliced
  • Goat Cheese, crumbled
  • Olive Oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the portabella caps, cap top down, on a baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt & pepper on the mushrooms. Bake for 15 minutes and then set aside.

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Saute the onions in olive oil over medium heat until they turn translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the ground turkey and cook until cooked through. Add the garlic, sun dried tomatoes, marinated peppers, balsamic, red wine, tomato paste, and salt & pepper. Continue to let it simmer for 15 minutes over low-medium heat. Add the fresh spinach and basil into the turkey mixture.

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ground turkeyScoop the ground turkey onto each portobella cap, and then crumble the goat cheese on top. Place back in the oven and let the cheese melt. Serve hot!

Caramel Vanilla “Fried” Ice Cream

25 Feb

Today’s recipe comes from my fabulous friend, Ashley. She, like this dessert, is liked by all, unforgettable, gorgeous, and fun! Ashley made this amazing little treat while hosting a Gossip Girl dinner at her home. Of course vanilla and caramel are already a star-duo, but the combination of the creamy ice cream and crunchy Frosted Flakes crust…..mmm…. I wish I had this dessert in front of me right now!

Also, be sure to check out  Ashley’s blog, The Champagne Socialite !

Ingredients

  • Good Quality Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
  • Frosted Flakes Cereal
  • Sugar
  • Cinnamon
  • Good Quality Caramel Sauce (for drizzle)

Directions:

Put a freezer-safe plate in the freezer to get it cold. Keep it in the freezer for at least a half hour before you start prepping the dessert - you will put the ice cream balls on it later.

Make sure the ice cream is pretty frozen. Mold the ice cream in the palm of your hands, which are warm and naturally start to melt the ice cream. Quickly form a tennis ball-sized scoop of ice cream into a ball in the palm of your hands. After each one is formed, place it on the cold plate in the freezer. Once all are formed, let them re-harden in the freezer.

Crush the frosted flakes in a bag (I like a little texture to mine, so not super smashed).  Add desired amount of cinnamon and sugar and shake to mix.

All steps up to this point can be done up to a day prior to serving.

hardened, remove one from the freezer, roll in the frost flake mixture, and then place back into the freezer until all are completed (so they don’t melt). When all are done, plate, drizzle with the caramel sauce and serve :)

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Coconut Curry Quinoa

11 Feb

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Quinoa is often called a superfood due to its nutritional value. Closely related to species such as beetroots, spinach, and actually tumbleweeds, quinoa is high in protein, lacks gluten and is also a source of calcium, and thus is useful for vegans  and those who are lactose intolerant.

The combo of the coconut and curry is great with the nuttiness of the quinoa. This dish is versatile in the sense that you can use any of your favorite vegetables for this dish.  Red peppers would be delicious in this recipe – I would have thrown them in if I had some at the time! Add shrimp, chicken, or pork to add even more substance to this dish.

Ingredients 

  • 1 cup Quinoa
  • 3 tbls Coconut Oil
  • Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Onion, Chopped
  • 2 Carrots, Chopped
  • 2 Zucchinis, Chopped
  • 8 Brussel Sprouts, Chopped
  • 3 tbls Thai Green Curry Powder
  • Handful of Salted Peanuts
  • Salt and Pepper

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Preheat the oven to 385 degrees. Toss all the chopped veggies with olive oil, salt and Thai Green Curry Powder. Bake the veggies for 25 minutes, or until they become fork tender.

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Boil the quinoa as directed on the box. The general rule is two cups of liquid for one cup of quinoa. Add the coconut oil to the boiling quinoa.

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Toss the baked veggies into the quinoa and mix well.  Add the salted peanuts on top and serve hot. Enjoy!

PS this makes for great leftovers as well!

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Spaghetti Squash with Portobello Sun Dried Tomato Sauce

3 Feb

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Growing up, I was never a real fan of spaghetti squash. My grandmother used to make it often, preparing it simply with salt and serving it as a side dish. But as my palette expanded, so did my imagination of how to showcase this actually tasty, and healthy, winter squash. By using it as a replacement for traditional spaghetti noodles, you can top it with any sauce of your liking. My personal favorites are tomato-based. And another bonus…. the tough skin of the squash can act as individual “bowls” to serve your guests!

Ingredients

  • 2 Spaghetti Squash, Medium Size
  • 1/2 Onion, Chopped
  • 12 Sun Dried Tomatoes, Chopped
  • 3 Portobello Mushroom Caps, Chopped
  • 8 Fresh Basil Leaves, Chopped
  • 3 Fresh Roma Tomatoes, Chopped
  • 3 Tbls Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/4 Cup Red Wine, such as a Cabernet
  • 2 tbls Garlic, minced
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper

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Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Slice the Spaghetti Squash in half, length wise. Scrape out the seeds and place the squash skin up in a glass baking dish with a half inch of water. Bake for 40 minutes. The flesh will string  apart with a fork when done.

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While the squash is cooking, sauté the onion in a sauce pan on medium heat with the olive oil. When it starts to turn translucent, add the sun dried tomatoes, fresh tomato and garlic. Let simmer for 5 minutes and then add the red wine and balsamic. Let the mixture continue to simmer for another 10 minutes and then add the portobello mushrooms and fresh basil. photo 1

  • When the squash is done cooking, use a fork to string the flesh into “spaghetti” strings. Salt the squash, keeping it in skin of the squash – they become individual “bowls”! Top each half of the squash with the sauce and serve hot. Add fresh shaved parmesan and serve along side grilled chicken, baked broccoli and a caesar salad. photo 5

Sirloin Sliders with Caramelized Onions and Sweet & Spicy Relish

30 Jan

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Super Bowl is around the corner, and that means delicious bar food. Wings, mozzarella sticks, greasy burgers… and countless calories. It doesn’t have to be that way this year though.  Sliders are the perfect football party food, and these lean ground sirloin burgers are packed with robust flavors. From the sweet balsamic glazed onions, the kick in the relish, to the juicy beef patty on the warm, crisp bun… these mini sliders are for sure to be the show-stopper at your Super Bowl Party.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb Ground Sirloin
  • 1 tbls Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 tsp Onion Powder
  • 1 Onion, sliced
  • 2 tbls, Balsamic Vinegar
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced
  • Good Slider Buns, such as Kings Hawaiian Rolls
  • Sliced Cheese, such as provolone or cheddar
  • Sweet Pickle & Spicy Pepper Relish (ingredients listed below)
  • Vlasic Bread & Butter Sweet Pickles, chopped
  • Roasted Bell Peppers, Jarred, chopped
  • 1 Jalapeño, chopped
  • Salt & Pepper

Preheat the grill. While the grill is getting hot, prep the Sweet Pickle & Spicy Pepper Relish. Mince all ingredients listed below the Relish line in Ingredients.  Set aside in a bowl and chill in the refrigerator. The relish can also be made up to a day in advance.

Sauté  the sliced onions in olive oil over medium-high heat. Add salt and pepper, let simmer until the edges of the onions start to brown. Add the garlic and balsamic vinegar and continue to cook for a couple more minutes. Set the onions aside off the heat.IMG_2221

Before you grill the sliders, toast the buns and set aside. 

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In a medium-sized mixing bowl, add the ground sirloin, onion powder and worcestershire sauce. Mix the meat, thoroughly incorporating the seasoning – be sure not to over-work the meat though. Form the meat into small-sized patties, pushing a small dent in the middle of each patty with your thumb. This will allow a little “nest” for the grilled onions.

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Put the mini-patties on the grill and cook through, giving it about 2-3 minutes per side. In the last two minutes of grilling, top each patty with the caramelized onions and a slice of cheese. When the cheese has melted, remove the patties from the grill. Place each mini-patty on a toasted bun, top with the relish, and enjoy with a cold beer and side of sweet potato baked fries and baked broccoli!

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You could also try these sliders with last years Super Bowl feature, Slimmed Down Twice Baked Potato Skin!

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Tex-Mex Black Bean Stuffed Sweet Potato

27 Jan

Sweet PotatoSometimes you just feel like a one-component meal. These twice-baked sweet potatoes are packed full of flavor, and will leave you satisfied. If you wanted to add a protein, you could always compliment it with grilled chicken, which could be simply grilled on the side, or shredded and added into the mixture. Just be sure if you do add chicken into the mix, you may need to adjust the measurements of the yogurt and jelly  to ensure it doesn’t dry out.

Ingredients

  • 2 Sweet Potatoes
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 Medium Onion, diced
  • 1 Red Pepper, diced
  • 1 15-ounce can of Black Beans
  • 2 teaspoons ground Cumin
  • 3 tbsp Jalapeño Pepper Jelly
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • 1/2 cup non-fat Greek Yogurt, no flavor
  • 2 Tbsp Green Onions, chopped
  • Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake the sweet potatoes for 45-60 minutes. You could also boil the potatoes, if you prefer.

Sauté  the onion and red pepper in the olive oil over medium heat until soft and the onion is translucent. Set aside.

Remove the sweet potatoes from the oven when fork-tender. Let cool for 5-10 minutes. Cut the sweet potatoes in half. Scrape the flesh of the sweet potatoes out, leaving the skins intact. Be sure to leave a thin layer of potato inside of the skins as this helps them hold together better.

Mix the flesh of the sweet potatoes with the greek yogurt, pepper jelly, cumin, red pepper flakes and salt.  The potatoes are usually soft enough to just use a spoon, but you can use a mixer if needed.  When well-mixed, gently stir in the black beans, and sautéed onions & peppers.

Scoop the filling into the skins and top each with the shredded cheese. Broil for about 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Garnish with the green onions. Serve warm.

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Baked Kale & White Bean Ravioli with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

20 Jan

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Weeknights are all about easy. But that doesn’t mean less tasty. Sometimes shortcuts are needed, but as long as you use good quality ingredients and a little creativity, a very satisfying meal will be within reach. I try to keep organic, “out of the box” raviolis in the freezer. Butternut squash, fig & prosciutto, crab ….  there is a lot more to ravioli than just cheese.  I’ve purchased these delicious pillows of pasta from a local vendor at our Green Market, but I’ve also found just as delicious ravioli at Costco. This particular recipe is from a Costco product, Kale & White Bean Ravioli. To compliment the flavors, I made a sweet and spicy sauce … and a little cheese always makes an Italian meal complete.

Ingredients

  • 1 package Kale & White Bean Ravioli (Costco)
  • 1/2 Onion, diced
  • 1 can Fire Roasted Tomatoes
  • 3 large Red Peppers, jarred. Diced
  • 3 tbls Minced Garlic
  • 1 Handful sliced Sundried Tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup Red Wine
  • Fresh shaved Parmesan Cheese
  • 3 slices Provolone Cheese
  • Red Pepper Flakes, to taste
  • Olive Oil, Salt & Pepper

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. In a large saucepan, sauté the onions in olive oil on medium heat until they start to turn translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the fire roasted tomatoes, diced red peppers, garlic, sundried tomatoes, red wine and red pepper flakes. Let the mixture simmer on a low-medium heat for about 15 minutes, allowing the flavors to blend.

In the meantime, heat up a pot of water to a boil. Add the ravioli and cook as instructed on the package. Drain and set aside.

When the sauce has cooked enough to soak up most of the wine, put a small amount in the baking casserole dish, enough to cover the bottom. Lay a single layer of the ravioli over the sauce. Then ladle more sauce on top of the ravioli.

Next, add the provolone cheese over the ravioli. Repeat the steps of laying the ravioli and sauce until all the raviolis have been added to the casserole dish. Be sure to leave enough sauce to cover the top of the raviolis. Cover with fresh shaved parmesan cheese.

Bake the casserole dish, uncovered, for about 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and starts to brown. You can always give it a quick blast at the end in the broiler, but keep an eye on it!

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Bite Size Apple Pies

16 Jan

apple tartsDessert. Bet you can’t just have one bite.  Especially if they’re bite-size.

When it comes to cocktail parties, or a large dinner party, your guests are much more likely to eat your hard-effort dessert if it’s more accessible. It’s easier to pop something into one’s mouth over slicing into a large cake. Not to say they won’t devour it if served though!

Ingredients

  • 4 Apples, diced with skin on
  • 1/4 cup Apple Cider
  • 1 tsp+ Cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. Nutmeg
  • 2 Tbls Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 Stick of Butter
  • 1 Box Frozen Pastry Dough
  • Non-stick cooking Spray
  • Whipped Cream
  • Mini Cupcake tin

IMG_8709Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Defrost the frozen pastry dough and set aside. Chop up the applies into small pieces, leaving the skin on. Toss into a large pan over medium heat with the butter, brown sugar, apple cider, and cinnamon. Let simmer until the cider is absorbed and the apples begin to get soft. Take off the heat and set aside.IMG_8715

Spray the mini cupcake tin with the non-stick spray. When the dough is defrosted, use a cookie cutter to cut out a circle of dough, just large enough to cover the mini cupcake tin. Carefully push the dough down to create a cup.

IMG_8717Bake as instructed on the box. Pull out of the oven though once the dough starts to bubble up, as shown in the picture. IMG_8718

Fill each cup with the apple mixture and then continue to bake until the dough is crispy. Repeat these steps until all the dough and apples have been cooked. Serve warm or room temperature. These Bite Size Apple Pies can be made the day ahead – refrigerate and then bring to room temperature before serving. For an extra kick, top with whipped cream!

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