Low-Carb Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie

shake-2Every school morning I wake my daughter up at 6:20 am. And every morning she holds up an open palm begging for five more minutes of sleep. I tell her I’ll be back in five minutes after making my coffee and she whispers, “s m o o t h i e...” This is our morning ritual. I don’t make the smoothie every single morning because I love to make breakfast and this girl of mine will eat almost anything- eggs with fresh basil and sausage, breakfast tacos, a BLT, Brioche french toast, waffle bowls, pasta or leftovers from dinner the night before – pretty much anything – except fruit, yogurt and cereal. Who doesn’t like fruit? Delicious sweet berries, cool watermelon, crisp apples, tangy tangerines, tart cherries, citrusy pineapple, mango and oranges – the flavors and sweetness are endless for mixing into smoothies and making fruit parfaits and Acai bowls BUT not for my girl.

Fueling up this girl's body is no easy task. I love having this smoothie as a healthy protein source.

Fueling up this girl’s body is no easy task. I love making this smoothie as a healthy source of protein and nutrients.

So when I discovered this smoothie and adapted it a bit for her palate, I held my breath when her lips met the straw for the first time. Shockingly, she gave me the thumbs up and it has been a morning or pre-training staple ever since. I love this smoothie because it’s easy to make and a very nutritious alternative. The chia seeds add additional protein and minerals that have deemed it a popular superfood. “Chia” is the ancient Mayan word for STRENGTH. The protein powder adds to the rich flavor while providing the necessary building blocks for bones, muscles, cartilage, skin and blood. And this smoothie is filling which won’t leave your stomach grumbling 40 minutes later. I do add a touch of whipped cream and drizzle a bit of dark chocolate over the top but just enough to make it look extra appealing and special.

Whipping up this smoothie takes a few minutes and the loud, annoying blender sound is the wake-up call for everyone else in the house (no use going up and down the stairs three times!)

A little whipped cream...a little chocolate drizzle...

A little whipped cream…a little chocolate drizzle…

Ingredients:
2 cups crushed ice cubes
1 cup chocolate almond milk
1 scoop chocolate or peanut butter protein powder (I love ChocoRite brand which is sugar free, and gluten free with 24 grams of protein. I purchase it at my local Albertson’s but there are 12 flavors that can be purchased directly online)
2 Tb organic peanut butter or almond butter
1 Tb unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tb chia seeds (see the benefits here of this tiny superfood)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Optional additions: whipped cream, chocolate syrup, mint leaf

Directions:
Place all ingredients except the whipped cream, chocolate syrup and mint leaf in the blender. Blend for about a minute or until smooth. Spoon into an 8 ounce glass and, if you choose, top with whipped cream, a drizzle of chocolate syrup and a mint leaf.

Smoothie super fuel

Smoothie super fuel

burrata and pesca ‘peach’ salad

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My mom passed this scrumptious recipe on to me after attending a cooking class last weekend. She filled my inbox with a stream of images from the yummy dishes they were sampling and raved about this particular recipe so I couldn’t resist making it for myself.

As usual, my mom was right. The Burrata and Pesca is a blissful combination of “light and fresh,” ideal for the blazing hot days of August. Served on a simple white platter, all I can think of is “summer on a plate,” with the vibrant color, drizzles of flavor and variety of tastes. I loved the salad so much, I made it twice this week and it’s already on the menu for the weekend. Enjoy!

Ingredients
1 round of Burrata cheese (sliced)
2 fresh yellow peaches
1-2 Tb toasted Hazelnuts
1-2 Tb balsamic reduction (see easy recipe below)
4 cups wild arugula
2 Tb olive oil (1/2 to marinate the peaches and 1/2 to drizzle over the Burrata)
Black pepper and salt to taste
3 Tb lemon olive oil (2 Tb olive oil and 1 Tb fresh lemon juice combined)

Balsamic reduction, olive oil, and fresh lemon juice swirl together in a perfect touch of flavor

Balsamic reduction, olive oil, and fresh lemon juice layer in a perfect pattern of flavor

 

Directions
Cut the yellow peaches into wedges and marinate with olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. In a flat griddle or non-stick saute pan, sear the peaches for a few minutes or until golden brown.

Place the peaches in a metal bowl and add the lemon olive oil and arugula and mix together gently. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon the salad on a nice platter, making sure to display the peaches. Place the Burrata across the top of the salad. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and the balsamic reduction. Top with the toasted hazelnuts.

Toasted hazelnuts lend a subtle rich nuttiness to the light and fresh flavors

Toasted hazelnuts lend a subtle rich nuttiness to the light and fresh taste

Easy Balsamic Reduction
Combine 1 cup Balsamic vinegar and 1 Tb sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. The liquid will reduce by about half.

Remove saucepan from heat and sauce will thicken as it cools.

What do you do with the extra balsamic glaze? Whatever you want! Drizzle on vanilla bean ice cream, on fresh heirloom tomatoes, on salads, on fresh fruit; especially strawberries or as a finishing glaze on chicken, steak and seafood.

The presentation couldn't be more appealing - summer on a plate

The presentation couldn’t be more appealing – SUMMER ON A PLATE

Recipe compliments of Canaletto Restaurant, Newport Beach, CA.

slow cooker chicken curry

Delicious combination of flavors from hours of slow cooking

“It’s a delectable combination of flavors from hours of slow cooking”

Mid-week is here again and this is the perfect quick recipe for a crazy week and an unusually chilly day here in Southern California. The prep time is nothing (10 to 15 minutes) and it will be so relaxing to pull in from an afternoon of carpooling and smell the scent of this yumminess wafting through the house. My husband seems really doubtful about the “yum” factor of this meal as he’s not a big fan of curry (guess I missed that memo; it’s only been 21 years). However, the curry powder is far from overpowering and simply enhances the overall flavor of the dish.

The original recipe, which I stumbled upon, came from the luscious food blog The Lemon Bowl. I changed my version up just a bit but the sauce base is essentially the same and works well in lending creaminess to the dish while accommodating your own “food edits,” such as adding different veggies, substituting shrimp or tofu in place of the chicken or adding it alongside the chicken for extra protein, flavor and creativity.

Ingredients
1 package organic boneless, skinless chicken breast (equals about 1.5 to 1.7 pounds)
1 onion thinly sliced (my mandolin made this a tear-free one minute process)
1, 15 ounce can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 package pre-cut sweet potatoes (I cut the sweet potatoes into smaller pieces but they were already peeled which made my prep fast)
1 1/2 cups cauliflower florets, broken into small pieces
1 cup broccoli florets, broken into small pieces
1 can Dole crushed pineapple
3/4 cup light Coconut milk
3/4 cup Swanson’s chicken stock
1, 15 ounce can tomato sauce
2 Tb melted butter
2 Tb curry powder
1/2 tsp Red Curry Paste (if you like spice-optional)
1 cup of green peas, frozen
1 tsp salt
Juice of 1 lemon
Optional toppings: crushed peanuts, bean sprouts, parsley, toasted coconut or crispy chow mein sticks

A bowl of healthy and delicious comfort

A bowl of healthy and delicious comfort

Directions
1. In the bottom of your crock pot combine the coconut milk, chicken stock, tomato sauce, melted butter, curry powder, curry paste and salt. Stir until thoroughly combined.
2. Add the chicken breasts, onion, chickpeas, sweet potatoes, cauliflower florets and broccoli florets.
3. Gently mix ingredients together so everything is fully coated with the sauce.
4. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours.
5. Once finished cooking, remove chicken breasts to cutting board and shred or cut into bite-sized pieces. Return to curry mixture and stir.
6. Add peas and lemon juice and stir. Let sit for 5 to 10 more minutes.
7. Add the Dole crushed pineapple to a small sauce pan and warm over high for 5 minutes.
8. Add cooked white rice to the bottom of each individual serving bowl.
9. Add a small layer of the cooked pineapple (optional).
10. Spoon chicken curry mixture on top.
11. Sprinkle with crushed peanuts, bean sprouts, parsley, toasted coconut or crispy chow mein sticks.

*This flexible recipe can be made with tofu and veggies for a vegetarian option. If you’re not a fan of white rice, serve the curry mixture over quinoa, gluten free noodles or completely on its own if you are watching your carb intake.

sweet potato soufflé

IMG_6060I asked a few of my best friends for their favorite family Thanksgiving recipe. My friend Lisa, always supportive of everything her friends do, sent me this recipe from her husband’s southern Georgia family. I made the dish (fluffy sweetness and savory scrumptiousness all in one bite), took pictures and sat down to write about it. It took me back to how Lisa and I became friends.

It was my first day of second grade at a new school. I was sporting a Dorothy Hamill pixie cut and wearing a light blue puffy jacket from JCPenney (my sister and I had matching ones). I was assigned to a square table of four with Lisa sitting next to me. She showed me where the drinking fountain was and we have been friends ever since. We survived the many adventures of grade school and then, all girls Catholic high school. We have shared the stages of life that only lifelong friendships can – homecoming dances, football games, big 80s style hair, cramming for exams, parties, sneaking out, graduation, college, concerts, careers, trips, marriage, babies, birthdays, book clubs, cooking clubs, illness, death and everything in between.

Friends since age seven... All the beautiful (and not so beautiful stages)...

Friends since age seven… All the beautiful (and not so beautiful stages)…

Friendships are like good recipes. They bring comfort, fulfillment, love and deliciousness to your life every day. This recipe is as good as the girl it came from (thanks, Lis!). Lisa adjusts the recipe for her son’s food allergies so you can also enjoy the same yumminess in a Gluten free and Dairy free version.

Ingredients
3 cups sweet potatoes, baked and mashed (approximately two large sweet potatoes)
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup evaporated milk
1 stick butter, softened
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Crumbled topping of pecans, brown sugar, flour and butter

Crumbled topping of pecans, brown sugar, flour and butter


Topping
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 stick butter, melted

*For a Gluten Free and Dairy Free version use the following:
Non-dairy butter (Earth Balance)
Gluten Free flour
Vanilla Almond milk (in place of the evaporated milk)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together sweet potatoes, sugar, eggs, evaporated milk, butter and vanilla until well blended. Pour into a buttered casserole dish. Mix the pecans, flour, brown sugar and melted butter and sprinkle over the entire top of the sweet potato mixture. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes.

Golden brown and cripsy crust just out of the oven

Golden brown and cripsy crust just out of the oven

You can make the Sweet Potato Souffle a day ahead. Cover tightly and refrigerate. To serve, simply bring it to room temperature and bake. The souffle also makes for great leftovers.

Use a large sweet potato and leaf-shaped cookie cutter top embellish soufflé on your Thanksgiving table

Use a large sweet potato and leaf-shaped cookie cutter to embellish soufflé on your Thanksgiving table with “Sweet Potato Leaves”

caramelized garlic tart

IMG_5455Whenever I buy a new cookbook or rip through a fresh- in-my-mailbox magazine, I dog ear pages like crazy, making notes left and right. I have a laundry list of creative endeavors I aspire to accomplish. I often find, however, that I get sidetracked – it’s an ongoing problem I call multi-tasking max out.

I recently rifled through the robustly colorful cookbook, PLENTYnamed by Amazon Editors’ as a “Favorite Book of the Year” for 2014. The award winning chef and food writer, Yotam Ottolenghi has been described as “the man who made vegetables sexy.” I wanted to find something scrumptious to make for a Labor Day party and this tart was the ticket. While there are PLENTY of steps to making this light puff of a pastry, the process is simple. Just allow enough time for preparation and avoid cramming it in between Sunday Church, football, laundry and walking the dog.

A Beautiful Cover Always Grabs My Attention

A beautiful book cover always grabs my attention

With Thanksgiving looming, the versatility of the Carmelized Garlic Tart can double as an elegant #thanksgivingappetizer or #thanksgivingvegetariandish. The tart can be made a day ahead and then reheated before serving. I love recipes that allow for something special and beautiful on the plate without requiring you to sweat it out in your heels and party clothes minutes before your guests arrive.

Ingredients
13 oz all-butter puff pastry
3 medium heads of garlic, cloves separated and peeled
1 Tb olive oil
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 cup water
¾ Tb sugar
1 tsp chopped rosemary
1 tsp chopped thyme, plus a few whole sprigs to finish
4 ¼ oz creamy goat cheese (such as chevre)
4 ¼ oz hard, mature goat cheese (such as goat gouda)
2 eggs
6 1/2 Tb heavy cream
6 1/2 Tb crème fraîche
black pepper

Directions
Have ready a shallow, loose-bottomed, 11-inch fluted tart pan (I bought a new pan from Bed, Bath & Beyond by Wilton). Roll out the puff pastry into a circle that will line the bottom and sides of the pan, plus a little extra. Line the pan with the pastry. Place a large circle of greaseproof paper on the bottom and fill up with baking beans or pie weights. Leave to rest in the fridge for about 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the tart pan in the oven and bake blind for 20 minutes. Remove the beans/weights and paper, then bake for 5-10 minutes longer, or until the pastry is golden. Set aside. Leave the oven on.

A light and golden crust ready to be filled with scrumptiousness

A light and golden crust ready to be filled with scrumptiousness

While the tart shell is baking, make the caramelized garlic. Put the cloves in a small saucepan and cover with plenty of water. Bring to a simmer and blanch for 3 minutes, then drain well. Dry the saucepan, return the cloves to it and add the olive oil. Fry the garlic cloves on high heat for 2 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Add the sugar, rosemary, chopped thyme and ¼ teaspoon salt. Continue simmering on a medium flame for 10 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated and the garlic cloves are coated in a dark caramel syrup. Set aside.

 

Garlic caramelizing with fresh herbs, sugar and balsamic vinegar

Garlic carmelizing with fresh herbs, sugar and balsamic vinegar

To assemble the tart, break both types of goat’s cheese into pieces and scatter in the pastry case. Spoon the garlic cloves and syrup evenly over the cheese.

Carmelized garlic+syrup+cheeses make the filling

Carmelized garlic+syrup+cheeses make the filling

In a separate bowl whisk together the eggs, creams, ½ teaspoon salt and some black pepper. Pour this custard over the tart filling to fill the gaps, making sure that you can still see the garlic and cheese over the surface. Reduce the oven temperature to 160 degrees and place the tart inside.

After light, whipped custard is poured into the shell with the filling still showing through

The light, whipped custard is poured into the shell with the filling still showing through

 

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Warm from the oven, browned and golden

Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until the tart filling has set and the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool a little. Then lift the bottom of the tart pan away from the side and trim the pastry edge if needed. Lay a few sprigs of thyme on top and serve warm.
As a reminder, the tart can be made a day ahead and reheated before serving.

Slice and serve

Slice and serve

Recipe from PLENTY, by Yotam Ottolenghi.

bulgur and citrus side dish or salad

Summer has arrived in Florida, and each day I’m trying to come up with something light and refreshing for my family’s dinner plate. This dish can be served as a side dish to a piece of grilled meat or just as a salad. I am lucky enough to have citrus trees in my yard, so I use them when making this delicious citrus dressing. Since I am in “packing mode” for our move back to California, I made a big batch of this to munch on while packing boxes. It’s versatile, uniquely refreshing, and a recipe I will definitely put in my recipe box. 

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Dressing Ingredients:
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1- 1/2 Tb honey
1/2 tsp. salt, more to taste
5 Tb extra-virgin olive oil
Black pepper to taste

Salad Ingredients:
1 cup bulgur
1-1/2 cups boiling water
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1/2 finely grated carrot
1/2 cup currants
1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
2 Tb chopped fresh parsley
3 green onions, sliced thin

Directions:
Prepare the dressing. In a small bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Prepare the bulgur. Place the bulgur in a heat-prof dish or small saucepan. Pour the boiling water over the bulgur and let it stand for 10 minutes, until tender but firm. Drain water from bulgur and fluff with a fork.

Add the celery, carrots, currants, sunflower seeds, green onion and parsley, tossing to distribute evenly. Pour the dressing over the bulgur, stirring until evenly mixed. Salt to taste and serve. Serves:4

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mother’s day spirits (our mom’s faves)

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Christi and I were both blessed with amazing moms who are there for us no matter what. They are our biggest champions, friends, confidantes and aren’t afraid to keep us on track when we act sassy or grumpy (yes…who knows your mood better than your mom). We will each be celebrating our mom’s tomorrow on Mother’s Day. We thought it would be fun to highlight their favorite cocktails on Cashmere Apron this week (Nina’s fav is the Blue Cheese and Bacon Martini and Mary’s is the Grapefruit Basil Martini – both recipes follow).

Cheers to Nina and Mary – the best of the best. We love you – Happy Mother’s Day!

BLUE CHEESE & BACON MARTINI (Nina’s favorite)
Ingredients

2- 1/2 shots Gin
1/2 shot of brine from cocktail olives
1/8 shot extra dry Vermouth
Blue Cheese stuffed olives for garnish
Bacon crumbles

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CHRISTI & HER MOM, NINA VISITING NYC

Directions
Fry bacon until very crisp and chop up very fine. Rub the rim of your chilled martini glass with butter and roll the edge of the glass in the bacon crumbs. Shake all martini ingredients together with ice in a cocktail shaker and strain into glass. Garnish with a few olives. Makes one drink.

 

Grapefruit Basil Martini Lead
GRAPEFRUIT BASIL MARTINI (Mary’s favorite)

Ingredients
2 ounces Freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice
1 ounce Vodka
1 diced fresh Basil leaf plus additional for garnish

Mother's Day 01

 

Directions
Add crushed ice to a Martini shaker. Pour in the freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice and vodka. Add the diced fresh Basil leaf. Shake vigorously and strain into a chilled martini glass. Top with a fresh  Basil leaf for garnish. Makes one drink.

tamale making party

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What better way to celebrate Cinco De Mayo than with a group of friends making tamales. A few girlfriends and I embarked on this tradition four years ago. Originally, December seemed like a good time for this endeavor so we could serve tamales during the holidays. We picked a day right before the Winter recess when all of our kids would still be in school. A memorable day was spent side-by-side, filling, wrapping and steaming our bundles of deliciousness. We each went home with overflowing trays of tamales (they freeze very well).

Ready to Steam Away.

READY TO BE FILLED WITH STEAMING TAMALES

Despite our efforts, the “holiday” tamale making party fell by the wayside until we determinedly resurrected it this year. Acknowledging that the holidays were NOT an ideal time for this endeavor, we decided to plan it for “ski week” in February when schedules and obligations calmed a bit. We had a relaxing and chatter-filled day, with tamales steaming in every kind of stock pot we could find. And we each commented that the process was so easy, we didn’t know why we waited so long to do it again.

Like anything in life, the experience is what you make of it. You don’t have to follow any steadfast rules about what goes in the tamales. There are the traditonal favorites but you can be as creative as you like. There were three of us so we each brought a filling. I made a spicy shredded beef in the slow cooker. Another friend made a chicken and chile version she found online and our third friend made a vegetarian version with roasted peppers, roasted corn and black beans. The key is to ensure your fillings have enough liquid so the tamales don’t dry out after steaming. Every version was delicious and made with love, creativity and friendship.

USE PREPARED MASA WHICH IS READY TO GO

USE PREPARED MASA WHICH IS READY TO GO AND GLUTEN FREE!

You never need a reason to celebrate friendship or good food but Cinco De Mayo seems as good a time as any.

Basic Ingredients
10 pounds of “prepared” Masa. You can purchase this at most Mexican restaurants that make tamales. Be sure to ask for it “prepared” or you will get a bag of flour like substance.
3 pounds of cooked spicy shredded beef (click here for easy slow cooker recipe)
3 pounds of cooked chicken and chili (click here for easy slow cooker recipe)
1 to 2 pounds of vegetarian mixture
2 to 3 bags of tamale husks (purchase at any Mexican market, Smart & Final or Mexican restaurant)
3 to 4 large stock pots with steamers
Aluminum trays
Tongs

EVERYONE GETS A JOB - ASSEMBLY LINE STYLE

EVERYONE GETS A JOB – ASSEMBLY LINE STYLE

Basic Directions
Prep and make your filling the day before, especially the shreeded beef which cooks for 8 to 10 hours in the slow cooker. Soak corn husks in warm water the night before.

On tamale making day, create an assembly line and have each friend responsible for a step in the process. Make sure you remove the tamale husks from water and pat them dry with a paper towel (they will still be slightly damp).

Lay the tamale husk flat (it will naturally fold up a little bit). Spread about one cup of the prepared Masa on the tamale husk. Use a spatula or large spoon to spread the Masa about 3/4 up the tamale husk. Place a large serving spoon size of your prepared filling on the Masa. Fold the tamale up from the bottom first, and then roll each side in so you have a nice little pouch. Tie the top of the tamale with strings pulled from some of the tamale husks (the texture is similar to a thick raffia ribbon).

Lay each uncooked tamale on a cutting board or tray and pile them up. When you have 15 to 20, line the inside of your stock pot with the tamales. Make sure they are standing straight up with the ties at the top. You want to pack them in the stock pot.

ALL TIED UP AND READY TO BE STEAMED

ALL TIED UP AND READY TO BE STEAMED

Make sure the tamales are standing on a steamer and that you have enough water in the bottom of the pot. Steam on high heat for 90 minutes (YES – 90 MINUTES). This is why we like to have bunches of tamales ready to be steamed. If you can have 3 to 4 stock pots ready to go, you can steam 45 to 60 tamales at the same time.

Once the tamales are finished steaming, remove from heat, place in the aluminum trays (be sure to mark the different types of tamales – beef, chicken, veg) and allow to cool for about 15 minutes. When you are ready to eat, unwrap the tamale from the tamale husk and dig in!!!

STAND TAMALES UP AND PACK THEM IN. STEAM FOR 90 MINUTES

STAND TAMALES UP AND PACK THEM IN – STEAM FOR 90 MINUTES

When you are ready to divide them up, we find that large freezer type Ziplock bags work best. The tamales will keep in your refrigerator for about a week or you can freeze them. To re-heat, simply microwave them for a few minutes or re-steam for about 10 to 15 minutes until warmed through.

TAKE YOUR PICK...

TAKE YOUR PICK…

Tamales really are easy to make. Even if you have a few that don’t turn out or make a mistake, you will get the hang of it and feel like a pro by the end of the day. I can’t wait for next year – we all have some new and fun ideas for the fillings. Happy Cinco de Mayo!

EVERYONE GOES HOME WITH TAMALES

EVERYONE GOES HOME WITH TAMALES

lemon cake

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Ask a 14 year old what the best use of a lemon is and they may tell you it’s to squeeze on your hair, and lay in the sun to lighten your dull, dreary locks.  Ask your grandmother this same question, and she may tell you that it eases digestion, cures bad breath, and freshens the garbage disposal.  While this is all very true, my favorite thing about this magical fruit is it’s health benefits.  Nutritionally, lemon is a great source of calcium, vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, minerals and antioxidants that improve the condition and appearance of our hair, skin and nails.  Let’s face it, we all grew up serving lemonade at our neighborhood lemonade stands and squeezing a fresh lemon slice into our tea.  Below is a list of some interesting lemon facts that you may not have known:
Fun Facts About Lemons:
Heals acne and removes blackheads
Lightens dark skin spots and blemishes
Whitens teeth
Immune boosting powers
Lemon oil mixed with water and sprayed into the air, repels insects
Calms dry scalp and remedies dandruff
Offers relief to those suffering from eczema
Cleanses the face and body
Gets rid of oily skin

Ingredients:
1-1/2 butter, softened
3 cups sugar
5 large eggs
2 Tb lemon zest
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. lemon extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup 7-Up
Shortening
Lemon-Lime Glaze (recipe to follow)
Candied Lemons (recipe to follow)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Beat butter at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until creamy. Gradually add sugar; beat at medium speed 3 to 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Stir in lemon zest and extracts.

Add flour to butter mixture alternately with lemon-lime soft drink, beginning and ending with four. Beat at low speed until blended after each addition. Pour batter into a greased (with shortening) and floured 10-inch Bundt pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 5 minutes to 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. You may need to shield the cake with aluminum foil after 45 minutes to prevent excessive browning. Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 minutes; remove cake from pan to wire rack.

Spoon Lemon-Lime Glaze over the warm cake. Top cake with the Candied Lemons. Compliments: my recipes.com

PicMonkey Collage

Lemon-Lime Glaze

Ingredients:
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp. lemon zest
1-1/2 Tb fresh lemon juice
1 Tb fresh lime juice

Directions:
Whisk together powdered sugar, lemon zest, 1-1/2 Tb fresh lemon juice, and lime juice in a bowl until blended and smooth.

Candied Lemons

Ingredients:
2 medium lemons
4 cups water
2 cups granulated sugar

Directions:
Cut lemons into 1/8-inch-thick slices; discard seeds. Stir together water and sugar in a large, heavy saucepan. Bring to a light boil, stirring just until sugar dissolves. Add lemons; reduce heat to medium-low. Gently simmer 45 minutes or until rinds are very soft and lemons are translucent, turning every 15 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon, and place in a single layer on a wire rack. Cool completely.

veggie crustless quiche

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Spring has sprung and this delicious quiche recipe reminds me of a Spring Break road trip I took in college. While many of my college friends went home for Spring Break, a few of my girlfriends and I loaded up my Mitsubishi Eclipse (it was the bomb back then!), and took off on a culinary adventure.  After many Hardee’s hamburgers and  countless Wendy’s frosties (let’s face it, that is all that you can afford in college) we stumbled upon this great little café called Chelsea’s and The Village Tea Room in the Biltmore Village in Asheville, NC. At an early age, I had already acquired a love for quaint restaurants, good recipes and unique cookbooks, so before leaving, I purchased their cookbook. Luckily for me, I found this delicious, crustless quiche recipe hidden inside it’s pages and have been whipping up many versions of this wonderful quiche recipe for the past 20 years.
Asheville, NC is such a beautiful mountain town, especially in the  Spring and Fall. If you visit Asheville, plan to spend a day exploring the Biltmore Estate. This large estate was built between 1889 and 1895 by George Washington Vanderbilt II and is the largest privately owned house in the United States.  Another Asheville secret is the Grove Park Inn Resort and Spa which is one of the South’s best-loved resorts with spectacular views of the rolling Blue Ridge Mountains. This hotel has been completely renovated and has over 100 years of history tucked inside.

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Ingredients:
8 eggs, scrambled
2 Tb heavy cream
1 can cream of celery soup
1 cup Cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup Provolone cheese, grated
2 cups of quiche filling (examples below)

Directions:
In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs with a wire whisk. Add all other quiche ingredients and stir to combine.

Spray a rimmed pie dish or quiche pan with cooking spray. Pour quiche filling into your pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for an hour or until set. Allow quiche to cool about 10 minutes before serving. This can be made the night before.

Quiche filling ideas:
Shrimp and dill
Mixed vegetables
Bacon, onion and feta
Veggie sausage and veggie
Broccoli and bacon
Artichoke, red pepper, olive and feta

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PicMonkey Collage

st. pat’s day feast

St. Pat's Lead 2Having grown up with an Irish father who was devoted to his heritage and roots, I thought everyone LOVED corned beef and cabbage. And while I have since learned that may not be altogether true, this Irish preparation by Bobby Flay will make believers out of those with the most dubious palates.

Follow Bobby Flay’s surefire hit for Corned Beef and other additions below to round out your Irish Feast, and your guests will leave wishing St. Patrick’s Day was more than once a year!

(1) No Irish Feast is complete without Jameson Irish whiskey (2) Rather than boiled cabbage, put together a hash using golden brown bacon (see below), shredded cabbage, shaved brussel sprouts, shredded carrots and diced red potatoes (3) Bake a loaf of Ina Garten’s Irish soda bread as an accompaniment (4) A crisp and perfect salad is made of Butter lettuce, dried cranberries, blood oranges, Irish Soda Bread croutons, a sprinkling of Gruyere and a light vinaigrette salad dressing (5) Before the meal begins, read a tried and true Irish Blessing (we always select one of our children to read the blessing) (6) Decorate each table setting with something new and something traditional. Here, we paired monogrammed vintage napkins with a sequined shamrock tied with heavy twine (7) The complete meal

Now for the STAR {Corned Beef} of the show…I came across this recipe a few years back while seeing Bobby Flay on CBS Morning News. I decided to follow his recipe and couldn’t stop eating – it’s that good. The recipe is easy because you still follow the very basic directions for cooking Corned Beef. Once the Corned Beef is cooked through, the extra elements add an elevated essence that is unparalleled.

St. Pat's Lead 1

Ingredients
Whole prepared Corned Beef (follow directions on label but allow 3 to 4 hours for cooking)
Bobby Flay Spice Rub for Meat
Canola oil
1 pound bacon
Dijon mustard
Whole grain mustard
Honey
Prepared horseradish
Chervil, for garnish

Ingredients for Spice Rub for Meat
3 Tb dry mustard
1 1/2 Tb dried oregano
1 Tb chili powder
1/2 Tb garlic powder
1/2 Tb black pepper
1/2 Tb sea salt
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp celery seed

Directions
Rub Corned Beef with Spice Rub and set aside. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until golden brown. Remove bacon, let rest, and coursely chop. Sear the Corned Beef in the bacon fat until a crust forms, turn over and continue cooking until golden brown. Remove, let rest and thinly slice.

Whisk together mustards, honey and horseradish. Serve Corned Beef with sauce on the side and garnish with chervil.

mini chicken parms

Chick Parm 2Fresh. Simple. Wholesome. Delicious. Make-Ahead. These are just a few words I like to consider when making dinner. Serving a hot meal for my family is such a challenge most days with sports practices, carpools, school events, a traveling spouse, and other unexpected surprises. I know we have all heard it, “Mom, do we have any magenta posterboard and lime green glitter????” “Mom, remember, I’m in charge of snack for 25 tomorrow for my advisory group and it has to be homemade.” Or how about my personal favorite, “Mom, don’t forget, tomorrow I have to bring in a hot appetizer that showcases my heritage and our family traditions.”

If I can make dinner ahead and have it ready to go, I feel so much more organized and accomplished. I can handle the unexpected tasks and requests without hitting Chipotle for dinner three nights in a row (not that we don’t love Chipotle). This recipe is perfect to make ahead on Sunday and have it ready to go Monday night to start the week on the right foot.

Ingredients
One package thinly sliced chicken breast filets
One pound bag of large elbow macaroni
Progresso “Italian Style” bread crumbs
16 ounces of “Precious” brand Mozzarella cheese + 1/4 cup
One, 28 ounce can of Trader Joe’s Tuscan Marinara sauce +1/4 cup
2 to 3 eggs, lightly blended in a medium sized bowl
one package fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste
Large muffin tin (yields 6 large muffins)
recipe makes about  dozen “Mini Chicken Parms”

Chick Parm 1

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place about 2 cups of bread crumbs in a shallow dish. Dip each thinly sliced breast filet in the egg and then dredge in the bread crumbs. Place on a slightly oiled baking sheet. Bake chicken for about 25 to 30 minutes (be careful not to overcook or the chicken will be dry). While the chicken is baking, cook the pasta according to the directions on the package. Drain and set aside.

Shred the 16 ounce block of Mozzarella cheese and chop the entire package of basil, which should yield abut 1/2 cup, maybe a little more.

Once the chicken is baked through, remove from the oven and let cool. When the chicken has cooled, chop into cubes (1/2” to 1” is fine).

In a large mixing bowl add the pasta, cubed chicken, Marinara sauce, Mozarella, basil and salt and pepper to taste. Mix all ingredients together gently until just combined.

Lightly spray or grease each muffin well and add a hearty scoop of the mixture. Top each filled muffin well with a teaspoon of Marinara and an extra sprinkle of Mozzarella. Put back into 350 degree oven and bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes. Use a pie server to scoop out each individual “Mini Chicken Parm.” Top with a sprig of basil and serve with organic greens and Italian breadsticks.

Lead Chicken Parm

*If you make this meal ahead of time, remove all individual “Mini Chicken Parms” from the muffin well. Let cool completely on a large platter and cover tightly. When ready to serve, place on a large baking sheet and re-heat gradually at 350 degrees.

 

 

bite-size chicken and waffle appetizer

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So you may be asking yourself, “chicken and waffles……. is this something I would like”? The answer is…….”absolutely, yes”! I know this dynamic duo may seem a little far fetched, but just think about a salty and sweet culinary masterpiece in one bite. I very seldom order this when I see it on a menu because it is just too much food. On occasion, I will meet my sister at The Blue Rooster in Sarasota, FL, and we will splurge and share this delicious showpiece of a meal.
This chicken and waffle recipe is sublime because you get the combination of salty, crunchy chicken with a sweet, warm waffle, but the chicken is baked instead of fried and is a much smaller portion. It is a unique appetizer for a dinner party or brunch gathering. I love to see people’s reactions when they spot it on my food table. There is much controversy over this dish and where it originated.  John Edge who is the director of the Southern Foodway Alliance and author of Fried Chicken: An American Story says, “it’s a dish most popular among expatriate African-American Southerners”. He adds, “a dish most popular among Southerners now living in urban areas whether that be the urban South or urban West, in the case of Los Angeles, or the urban North, in the case of New York”. Edge suspects this delicious pair probably has been a part of America’s culinary repertoire for a long time- since the nation’s earliest days when Thomas Jefferson brought a waffle iron back from France. He believes the recipe originated in multiple places including the South.
If you are like me and would like to know the history of a recipe, check out www.thehistorykitchen.com.  Tori Avey explores the story behind the food we eat and how recipes of different cultures have evolved.
PicMonkey Collage

Ingredients:
12 chicken breast tenders, cut in half crosswise
3/4 cup nonfat buttermilk
1- 1/2 cups panko crumbs
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
1/4 tsp. ground pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
Cooking spray
24 mini waffles
Maple Syrup

Directions:
Stir together chicken and buttermilk in a medium size bowl. Chill 30 minutes. Place a large baking sheet in oven, and preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Place panko crumbs in a shallow bowl. Stir together garlic powder and next three ingredients. Remove chicken from buttermilk, and pat dry, discard buttermilk.

Sprinkle chicken evenly with spice mixture; dredge in panko. Remove baking sheet from oven; coat with cooking spray. Immediately place chicken on hot baking sheet; coat chicken with cooking spray.

Bake at 450 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until chicken is crisp and lightly browned.

Arrange toasted waffles on a large platter and top each waffle with a pice of chicken. Secure chicken to waffle with a decorative pick. Drizzle warm maple syrup over top. Serve immediately. Serves:24

Recipe compliments of The Slim Down South Cookbook.

love in elysian park

Finding Love in Elysian Park Burger
Last summer the TODAY show held a “Burger Battle” in search of the best original burger recipe and the inspiration behind it. I thought, “Why not?” I made taste testers out of my family. My son wouldn’t try it but my daughter (the more adventurous eater) and husband gave me a thumbs up.

I wasn’t contacted by the TODAY show, clearly a mistake (haha) but their contest did present me the occasion to create something special. So I am sharing my inspiration and recipe on Valentine’s Eve because it’s all about the LOVE.

My Valentine's Day Inspiration

My parent’s at the Los Angeles Police Academy – my Valentine’s Day Inspiration


When I reflect upon the quintessential “
Valentine Lovebirds,” I think of my mom and dad who lived a loving, healthy and happy marriage, on par with few I have seen. My parents met at the Los Angeles Police Academy in Elysian Park in 1964. An unlikely duo from the outset, he being 14 years her senior with a wild past and she being a mere girl of 18 who always followed the rules. He was a Lieutenant at the time and she was a secretary to the Chief. I’m pretty certain my dad visited that office more than was actually necessary. They fell head over heels in love and were married in June of 1966.

June 4, 1966

“The Glass Chapel” in Palos Verdes, California – June 4, 1966

 They were a true fairy tale couple who were the personification of love for 45 years (my father died unexpectedly in 2008). Both of my parents were fiercely proud of their heritage and my sister and I were raised with the same pride. My dad the dark Irish, and my mom, the beautiful “Jackie O” look-alike with strong Mexican roots, somehow grew into the perfect couple.

My loving family

My loving family (my sister being goofy and me, obviously with a full diaper)

This recipe is a tribute to the uniqueness that gave me my Irish Mexican heritage and to the love that bloomed in Elysian Park, California in 1964. Happy Valentine’s Day.

Ingredients
1 pound organic ground sirloin
1/2 cup finely diced onion
1 cup finely diced cooked corned beef (have corned beef shaved thin in the deli)
1 jalapeño pepper (seeds removed) and finely diced
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 Tb dried oregano
1 Tb country Dijon mustard
1 tsp liquid smoke
1 Tb Jameson Irish whiskey
Three-pepper Colby cheese, thinly sliced
1, 14 oz. can sauerkraut, drained
1 small head of Frisee lettuce
Fresh Rye bread
Olive oil
Sugar
Butter

Yummy burger layered with hints of corned beef and jalapeño

Yummy burger layered with hints of corned beef and jalapeño

Directions
Preheat grill. Add all ingredients through the Jameson Irish whiskey to a large glass bowl. Gently mix all ingredients together (use your clean hands if desired). From ground sirloin mixture, form three 1/3 pound patties. Lower grill heat and place patties on aluminum foil on the grill and grill about 4 minutes on each side. Once grease has melted off, place burgers directly on grill for another two to three minutes per side.

In a sauté pan, add a teaspoon of sugar and a tablespoon of olive oil and heat on medium. Add the drained sauerkraut to the pan and sauté until browned.

Brush each side of the Rye bread with olive oil and a little melted butter and grill for about 1 to 2 minutes per side (don’t overcook).

Grilled Rye lightly brushed with Olive oil and butter

Rye bread perfectly crusty after being brushed lightly with Olive oil and butter and grilled

Add burger to bread and top with three-pepper Colby cheese, browned sauerkraut, and frisee lettuce. *You can add extra dijon to the grilled bread if desired.

Chow down. Seriously amazing burger. A shot of whiskey or tequila is optional BUT highly recommended.

[gal]entine’s day love, lunch and friendship

Galentine's Day Recipes 2

“There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.” -Jane Austen

Our post this past Wednesday talked about celebrating “girlfriends” this Valentine’s Day. Christi and I hosted a luncheon in honor of some special ladies in our lives. For details, photos, setting and decorative ideas click here.

Today we are sharing our Galentine’s Day Luncheon Menu and the recipes. Revel in Cupid’s inspiration and create something special for your gal pals!

Galentine's Menu Lead 1

 

 

Caprese Fruit Skewers LeadCaprese Fruit Skewers
Ingredients
36- strawberries, cleaned with tops taken off
24- fresh basil leaves, rinsed and carefully dried
24- bocconcini balls, drained
12- wooden skewers
1 bottle of store bought balsamic glaze

Directions
Clean strawberries and set them aside to dry on a paper towel. Rinse basil and gently remove the leaves from the stems. Carefully thread a strawberry, basil leaf, bocconcini ball-repeat once, ending with a strawberry. When all 12 kabobs are completed, lay them onto a platter and drizzle the top with the balsamic glaze.  12 servings

 

Fusilli LeadFusilli & Heart-shaped Pasta Salad with Green Beans, Pistachio and Lemon-Thyme Vinaigrette
Ingredients
8 ounces uncooked fusilli or gemelli (can substitute gluten free pasta)
1 cup (1- 1/2 inch) cut haricots vert
1/2 cup shelled and chopped pistachios
2 Tb fresh thyme leaves, divided
2 Tb grated lemon peel, divided
1 Tb minced, shallot
2 Tb Champagne vinegar
3 garlic cloves, crushed
5 Tb olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 ounce shaved, fresh Parmesan cheese

Directions
Cook pasta according to the package direction, omitting salt and fat.  Add the haricots vert during the final two minutes of cooking. Rinse the cooked pasta and haricots vert under cold water until cool, then drain.

Place the pasta, haricots vert, pistachios, 1 Tb thyme and 1 Tb lemon rind in a large bowl; toss gently to combine. Combine remaining 1 Tb thyme and 1 Tb lemon rind, shallots, vinegar and garlic in a small bowl, mixing well with a wire whisk. Add salt and pepper and mix well. Drizzle over the pasta mixture and toss to coat. Top with Parmesan cheese. 4 full servings or 8 side servings

 

Turkey and ProvoloneSmoked Turkey & Provolone on Baguette with Bacon & Avocado Mash
Ingredients
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
2 Tb apple cider vinegar
8 slices bacon (can use turkey bacon)
1 Hass avocado, halved and pitted
1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2-3 rustic baguettes, cut in threes and sliced in half for sandwiches
1 tomato, thinly sliced
1 carton sprouts
12 ounces thinly sliced deli turkey breast
1/4 lb Provolone cheese, thinly sliced
1/2 small English cucumber, sliced very thin

Directions
Toss the onion with the vinegar and 2 tablespoons water in a small bowl. Let stand 15 minutes, then drain. Meanwhile, cook the bacon as the package directs.

Mash the avocado with the yogurt in another small bowl until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Lay 4 halves of the sandwich rolls on a cutting board and spread with half of the avocado-yogurt mixture. Add a layer of turkey breast, bacon, Provolone slice, cucumber and red onion. Top with tomato, sprouts, salt and pepper. Spread the left over avocado mixture on the remaining 4 roll halves and place spread-side down on top of sandwich. 8-10 half sandwich servings

 

Galentine's Day Desserts

For dessert we made Duncan Hines Creamy Red Velvet Cupcakes (click here for recipe) and Emeril Lagasse’s Old-Fashioned Chocolate Pudding (click here for recipe). The Valentine’s Day sugar cookies were ordered from Lizy B. Bakes. We had her bake the “love bird” cookies that had small holes at the top so we could hang them from branches we added to our floral centerpiece.

This menu is easy and delicious and perfect for a ladies luncheon. Everything was topped off with Moet & Chandon Imperial champagne. Let us know about any fun GALentine’s celebrations you create – we would love to hear about your special plans.

 

 

 

eggstraordinary deviled eggs

IMG_4186

Traditional Deviled Eggs

Ingredients:
7  large eggs, hard boiled and peeled
1/4 cup Hellman’s Mayonnaise
1 tsp yellow mustard
2 Tb sweet pickle, chopped fine
Salt and pepper, to taste
Sliced olives for garnish

Directions:
Halve the eggs lengthwise and scoop out the yolk. Place the yolks in a bowl and mash with a fork. Stir in mayonnaise, mustard, pickle. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Mix well.

Spoon the yolk mixture into a small zip lock back and cut off a small  corner from the bag. Pipe the yolk mixture into each egg cavity. Garnish each egg with an olive slice.

IMG_5019

Deviled Eggs with Candied Bacon and Dill

Ingredients:
1- 1/2 Tb light brown sugar
Cayenne pepper
Pinch ground cinnamon
1/8 pound thick-cut bacon (4 strips)
8 large eggs
1/4 to 1/2 cup Hellman’s Mayonnaise
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tb finely chopped fresh dill, plus some for garnish
1 Tb cider vinegar
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 scallions, minced
1/2 tsp. kosher salt

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, a pinch of cayenne and the cinnamon. Place the bacon on a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle each slice of bacon with some of the spiced sugar and bake about 10 minutes. Flip the bacon, sprinkle with the remaining spiced sugar and continue to cook until crispy, about 10 more minutes. Remove the bacon from the oven and allow to cool. When the bacon is cool, chop it up very small and set a quarter aside for garnish.

Put the cold eggs in the bottom of a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring water to a boil for 3 minutes then remove the pan from the heat. Cover the pan with a lid and let stand for 15 minutes. Drain the eggs and rinse with cold water. Let the eggs cool for a bit then peel. After they are peeled, you can store them in the fridge.

Mix together the mayonnaise, mustard, dill, cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, 1/4 tsp. cayenne, the scallions and the minced bacon in a medium bowl. Season with salt.

Slice the eggs in half lengthwise. Gently remove the yolks  from the eggs and add to the mayonnaise mixture. Mash together using a fork or a hand held mixer.

Put the mixture into a zip lock bag. Cut one end off and pipe the filling into the egg white cavity. Sprinkle with left over chopped bacon.

Recipe courtesy of: Kelsey Nixon 

 

ancho chile dusted shrimp cobb salad

IMG_9062Ingredients

Marinade
1/4 tsp Ancho Chili Pepper (kick up the spice by adding 1/8 tsp more)
1/2 tsp Cumin
1 Tb Italian Parsley, chopped
3 Tb Olive Oil, divided
2 Tb Butter, melted and slightly cooled

Salad Ingredients
8 large, tail-on raw shrimp
5 pieces cooked bacon
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
1 avocado, diced
6-7 teardrop tomatoes, cut in half
1, 15 ounce can Garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
Crumbled Blue cheese
1 bunch of fresh Romaine lettuce, roughly chopped
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Accompaniments
1 jar Trader Joe’s Corn & Chile Tomato-less Salsa
Tortilla chips
IMG_9054

Directions
Whisk together all marinade ingredients in a bowl, making sure melted butter isn’t too warm. Use 2 Tb Olive oil in the marinade and set 1 Tb Olive oil aside for your grill pan.

Add 1 Tb Olive oil to grill pan and heat over medium high. While oil is heating, add shrimp to whisked marinade in bowl. As soon as Olive oil in grill pan is hot, add shrimp. Grill for 2 minutes on each side (4 minutes total). Once shrimp are grilled through, remove from heat and add to a clean bowl while you assemble the rest of the salad.
IMG_9079

Layer from the bottom up using the chopped romaine. Add bacon, egg, avocado, tomatoes, garbanzo beans and Blue cheese. Drizzle with a dressing of your choice (I prefer a light vinaigrette) and top with four shrimp.

This recipe makes two large servings.

 

southwest breakfast bowl

IMG_5011

Ingredients
1 package of low carb tortillas (I used La Banderita Carb Counter)
1- 32 ounce carton of  liquid egg whites
1-20 ounce bag Crystal Farms Simply Potatoes (diced with onions)
1 bag Jimmy Dean Turkey Crumbles
Shredded Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese
1 avocado, diced
Jalapeno slices
Fresh Pico De Gallo (recipe below)

Directions
Cook the potatoes following package instructions.

In another large skillet sauté the turkey crumbles in two tablespoons of oil. When the turkey sausage is done, add the carton of egg whites to the same pan with the sausage. Cook the egg whites and sausage until cooked through.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Take four tortillas and gently place them in your Norpro Nonstick Tortilla Bowl Makers. When oven is 350 degrees place your tortillas in oven and bake until crispy.

Place cooked potatoes in bottom of each tortilla shell and top with the egg white and sausage mixture. Top with shredded cheese, diced avocado, jalapeño slices and Pico De Gallo.

Pico De Gallo Ingredients
3/4 cup sweet onion, minced
1- 1/2 cups plum tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
1 Tb jalapeño chili, seeded and minced
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
2 Tb freshly squeezed lime juice
Salt and pepper

Directions
Mix all ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste.

PicMonkey Collage

vegetable lasagna

IMG_3729

I am always looking for meals that will feed a crowd. My husband and I enjoy having our friends over with their kids for dinner, so recipes that please the young and the old (well not so old…ha ha) come in handy.While most lasagna recipes are pasta noodles layered with beef, cheese and marinara sauce, this lasagna recipe is completely different. I used the vegetables that I had on hand, but you can substitute any of your favorites. This is a crowd pleaser, and I promise you won’t miss the meat. Greek Salad (found under our recipe tab), makes a tasty accompaniment to this main course.

Ingredients
Cooking spray
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 cup chopped yellow bell pepper
1 cup chopped onion
4 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced (5 cups)
2 (8-ounce) packages of pre sliced baby portabella mushrooms
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
1- 1/2 cups fat-free ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 large egg
5 cups Mezzetta Homemade Marinara, divided (or any other marinara)
12 precooked lasagna noodles (can use gluten free)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Coat pan with 2 Tb olive oil. Add bell peppers, onion, zucchini, and mushrooms; sauté 10 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender and mushroom liquid evaporates. Add garlic; sauté 30 seconds.

Combine 1-1/2 cups mozzarella, ricotta, 1/4 cup Parmesan, and egg, stirring well.

Spread 1 cup marinara over bottom of a 13×9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray; top with three noodles. Spoon 1 cup marinara evenly over noodles. Top evenly with one-third of ricotta mixture and one-third vegetable mixture. Repeat layers twice, ending with noodles. Top with remaining one cup of marinara. Sprinkle evenly with remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella and remaining 1/4 Parmesan. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 10 minutes or until cheese melts. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Compliments: MyRecipes.com

PicMonkey Collage

chicken parmesan meatballs

IMG_4576

As I sit down to write this post, I reflect on my resolutions from a week ago and realize that I’ve failed. I had hoped to tell you that I was fitting back into my skinny jeans and was considering some swimsuit shopping, but I have to confess, none of this is true. My Christmas tree came down and all signs of the holidays disappeared, but my family’s social schedule stayed at full speed which unfortunately, involved lots of eating. On January 1st, didn’t I swear I  was never eating again?  So, starting today, I’ve decided it’s time for some changes.  I’m saying goodbye to bread, cookies and cake, and……maybe even rice (boo hoo)! It seems that when I cut out carbs, the weight has a better chance of coming off.

I’m sharing a great recipe that I found from another awesome blogger, Peace Love Low Carb. It is a terrific recipe for those watching their carbohydrate intake or for someone like my daughter who is a Type 1 diabetic. I sometimes make these bite-sized meatballs, freeze and serve at impromptu gatherings.

So, I have one low carb day behind me….woo hoo! Wish me luck because being a food blogger makes this goal extremely difficult. Now, off to make some low-carb egg dishes. Keep your eyes out for some eggstraordinary egg recipes in the near future.

Ingredients
1 lb. ground chicken ( I have also used ground turkey)
1- jar marinara sauce, divided ( I use Dell’Amore)
1/4 cup Parmesan, grated
3 Tbs Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 Tbs garlic, minced
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
3 oz. Mozzarella cheese, grated
Directions
Preheat oven to 350°
In a large bowl, combine ground chicken, 3 Tbs marinara sauce, Parmesan cheese, parsley, garlic, Italian seasoning, onion powder, garlic salt, and black pepper.
Form chicken mixture into 12 equal meatballs.  Bake for 25 minutes, on middle rack in an 8 x 11 baking dish.
Remove from oven, spoon marinara sauce over top and around each meatball and top with Mozzarella cheese.
Put meatballs on top rack under the broiler until cheese melts. 4 servings.
lowcarbpyramid1.IG

 

herb roasted tenderloin filet

Filet Final 1We have all been there…trying to serve a picture perfect holiday meal while sashaying through the kitchen with ease and elegance (that’s how I always see it in my head anyways). Sipping champagne, passing appetizers, and telling your guests, “Of course I don’t need help. Just relax. I’ve got it covered,” as sweat slowly trickles down your back, the oven timer starts beeping incessantly and the burners on the stove are in full flight. I know you can relate!

There is a solution to this overachiever mentality. It is the “Herb Roasted Tenderloin Filet.” I have made this many times and I promise you, it is simple and a delicious and beautiful meal. The roast goes into the oven and you do nothing but wait. When you take it out, it has to rest so you have time to toss your salad, sauté mushrooms and pull an easy side dish out of the oven (roasted potatoes, mac-n-cheese, baked potatoes, buttered noodles-all compatible options). Once the roast is ready, you will find it easy to slice and amazingly tender. Serve the roast with your accompanying sides and Voila, a sophisticated and scrumptious holiday meal that will keep you relaxed and enjoying the evening with friends and relatives.

For the tenderloin filet roast pictured above, I was lucky enough to be given Italian Basil and Rosemary right out of a friend’s garden. The smells, flavor and freshness of the herbs elevated the finished roast. My son just peeked at what I was working on and said, “When do I get that again???

Happy Holidays!

Ingredients
1, 2 1/2 to 3 pound whole tenderloin (I found a great selection of grass-fed prime at Vons Pavilions)
2 garlic cloves minced
1 1/2 Tb ground up fennel seed (should be very fine)
1 tsp fresh Rosemary, diced
1 Tb fresh Basil, diced
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
olive oil

Directions
Mix all of the herbs together and add enough olive oil to make a paste. Let sit for 15 to 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Rub the tenderloin with olive oil and sear for about a minute each on all sides. Remove from the skillet and put directly into a roasting pan (no rack needed). Spread the herb paste across the top of the filet roast. Roast until it reaches an internal temperature of 135 degrees (a good meat thermometer is a must). I cooked this filet for about 45 minutes before it reached 135 degrees. The time can vary depending upon the size of the filet, altitude, etc., which is why the meat thermometer is important.

Remove from oven and cover roasting pan with foil or a lid. Let the filet rest for another 10 to 15 minutes. It will continue to cook and should come out a perfect medium on the ends and medium rare toward the middle.

No sauce is required but my personal favorite is a whipped horseradish with dill for a little extra kick and amazing flavor.

Depending on the size of your crowd, you may need an additional roast. Plan on about 1/2 pound per serving, so a three pound roast will serve 6 adults.

honey soy grilled salmon

Honey Glazed SalmonWith the holiday season in full swing and the selection of sweets at their peak, this is the perfect weekday meal to re-boot your healthy taste buds.

Honey and soy together have to be the perfect pair. Add in lime and fresh ginger and the flavors are elevated that much more. My kids love this salmon preparation and usually gobble it up before I can sit down with my dinner plate.

This recipe is also versatile because it delivers a grilled flavor without ever stepping outside to your grill (a benefit in the chilly winter months). If you are short on time, you can skip the herbs and simply baste the salmon with the yummy marinade and your prep time is even quicker.

Ingredients
1/2 cup packed cilantro leaves
2 scallions
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
4 center cut skin-on wild salmon filets
2 tsp fresh lime juice
2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp honey
Garnish: lime (optional)

Directions
Finely chop the cilantro and scallion and mix in the oil and ginger. Season with salt and pepper.

Place salmon on foil-lined baking sheet. With the skin side down, cut two, 3-inch long slits lengthwise through the salmon going about halfway into the salmon meat. Evenly stuff the slits with the herb mixture and season the top of the fish with salt and pepper.

Turn your oven to broil and position the oven rack about 4 to 5 inches below the heat source.

Stir together the lime juice, soy and honey until smooth. Baste the salmon with marinade and put in the oven to broil. Broil salmon, basting about 3 times (every 2 minutes) until the salmon is just cooked through. Total broil time should be about 7 to 8 minutes.

Garnish with lime and serve over Jasmine rice with a side of Edamame.

Courtesy of The Food Network, 2010

soppressata and cheese in puff pastry

Soppressata Lead PictureIt’s the day before Thanksgiving which, in my house, means we are probably ordering Chinese take-out or indulging in Mexican food. If you have a house full of guests, you might have the same idea. Or, you may want to serve something quick and easy, curl up in front of the fireplace and have a movie night.

I’ve made this dish several times and it’s always delicious. Cut the pieces smaller and you have an appetizer. Cut the pieces a little bigger and you have a main course. Serve with a side of tomato bisque and create the perfect comfort meal.

Ingredients
1 package (2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, such as Pepperidge Farm, defrosted
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
12 thin (not paper thin) slices soppressata salami (3 1/2 inches in diameter)
6 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash

Soppreseta collage

Directions
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place a piece of parchment paper on a sheet pan.

Lay one sheet of puff pastry on a floured board and lightly roll into a 10-inch square. Place it on the sheet pan and brush the pastry with all the mustard, leaving a 1-inch border. Arrange the soppressata in overlapping layers on the mustard and sprinkle the grated cheese evenly on the soppressata, also avoiding the border. Brush the border with the egg wash.

Lightly roll the second piece of puff pastry into a 10-inch square. Lay the pastry directly on top of the first square, lining up the edges. Brush the top with the egg wash, cut three large slits for steam to escape, and chill for 15 minutes.

When the pastry is cold, trim the edges with a very sharp knife to make a clean edge. Bake the pastry in the center of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, turning once while baking, until puffed and brown. Allow to cool for a few minutes, cut in squares, and serve hot or warm.

Serves 8 for cocktails or serves 6 for main course

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Recipe from 2010, Barefoot Contessa How Easy Is That?

 

pancetta crisps with goat cheese and pear

Pancetta Pear Lead

Two days and counting…I love to picture all of the homes across America preparing for Thanksgiving. Different traditions…different ways of preparing the big bird…different homemade “favorites” that make our mouths water. Although the Thanksgiving meal itself eliminates the need for any appetizers, we always feel compelled to serve something “light,” to kick off the occasion. It’s part of our custom to have a fun little cocktail hour – sparkling crystal glasses, whimsical cocktail napkins, a snazzy drink, football on in the background and that special holiday feeling in the air.

This appetizer looks gorgeous on a beautiful tray. The crisps are airy and flavorful with a hint of sweetness from the lightly drizzled honey. We paired a decorative platter of Pancetta Crisps with Grapefruit Basil Martinis (click for our recipe) made from freshly squeezed grapefruits picked right off the tree. Champagne always works too. Enjoy your holiday cocktail hour!

Ingredients
12 thin slices pancetta (about 1/3 lb.)
1 Bartlett pear
1/2 (4-oz.) package goat cheese, crumbled
Freshly cracked pepper
Honey
Fresh thyme sprigs for garnish

Pear Pancetta 2

Directions
Arrange pancetta slices in a single layer on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Bake at 450° for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden. Transfer to a paper towel-lined wire rack using a spatula. Let stand 10 minutes or until crisp. Core pear with an apple corer. Cut pear crosswise into 12 thin rings. Arrange on a serving platter. Top evenly with pancetta and goat cheese; sprinkle with pepper. Drizzle with honey just before serving. Garnish, if desired.

Created by Sheri Castle, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Southern Living
November 2007

love this sugar-free pumpkin pie

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Type 1 Diabetes has played a significant role in my family’s life. It started back in the 80’s when my 17 year old brother was diagnosed with this disease. Telling a teenage boy that he must check his blood sugar every few hours, monitor his diet and take insulin injections multiple times daily was not something that went over easily. I can remember my mom reading every book she could get her hands on regarding life with diabetes, and the frustration she went through trying to get my brother to comply to his new way of life.

I didn’t quite grasp the magnitude of my brother’s diagnosis, and what it really meant until August 17, 2000 when my baby girl was rushed to the ER, slipping into a coma with a blood sugar over 1000. Yes, my precious 17-month-old baby girl was also diagnosed with this terrible autoimmune disease. My world was rocked, and  after a week in the hospital, we were sent home with this child who now had a life threatening illness that my husband and I were in charge of managing. Imagine pricking your baby’s fingers up to 10x a day so that you know their blood sugar level,  or watching your baby have a seizure because their blood sugar has dropped dangerously low. Imagine……… insulin shots 4x a day and hugging your baby after each one because they don’t understand why a mommy and daddy who loves them so much would hurt them.

My daughter is now almost 15 years old and is healthy and completely responsible for her diabetes. Sure, my husband and I still check on her during the night, and we still take an active role in her health, but she has learned to manage her diabetes and be responsible for her own health. It has been a long road filled with many tears of frustration and sleepless nights, but she is truly a hero in our eyes. She is a straight A student, athlete, and musician who has not let diabetes hold her back. Our dream is for a CURE! Diabetes is a disease that never takes a break. It is a 24/7, 365 days a year disease.

November is National Diabetes Month, and I am sharing with you this tasty sugar-free pumpkin pie recipe that has been in my family for years. Everyone wants a piece of pumpkin pie on turkey day so why not make this for your favorite diabetic or someone that is watching their sugar intake. My family supports the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and appreciates their efforts in raising awareness of this fast growing disease. If you want more information on diabetes, you can visit: stop diabetes.com or jdrf.org.

Ingredients:
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground clove
1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
3/4 cup Splenda granular
1- 9 inch unbaked pie shell

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Directions:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine all pie ingredients and pour into pie crust. Bake 15 minutes at 425 degrees. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake 45 minutes. Cool and top with whipped cream. Serves:8

kale salad with currants and feta cheese

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When did kale get so popular? I don’t remember it ever being on the menu or the dinner table when I was growing up. Is it a cross breed of some sort? Did one farmer’s cabbage get planted with another farmer’s spinach (remind me to look that up!). I remember the first time I ate kale. It was on a road trip up the coast of California to San Francisco. We stopped at this cool little hipster lunch spot/coffee bar/henna salon (don’t laugh…..that’s what it was) outside of Santa Cruz, and Kale Salad was the special of the day. I’m not sure that it was love at first bite, but I did find it interesting enough to make my own version when we returned home. I can honestly say that after much experimentation, I am a kale fan and maybe even a kale fanatic!

This gorgeous plant is one of the healthiest foods on our planet and has only 33 calories per cup. It can be eaten in a variety of salads, soups, and casseroles. I love to roast this veggie and make kale chips. It’s said this super star vegetable will lower your cholesterol and is a cancer fighter when eaten on a regular basis. I am sharing this kale recipe with you because it is one of my favorites. I hope you will love this salad as much as I do. I’m off to do some research on this interesting plant and hopefully, answer my questions.  Stay tuned……..

Salad Ingredients
6 cups kale leaves, washed and chopped small
1 cup purple cabbage, shredded
1/2 cup carrots, shredded
1/4 cup currants
1/2 cup crumbled feta
1/4 cup sunflower seeds

Arrange all salad ingredients in a large bowl. Pour salad dressing on top of salad and massage dressing into the kale. This salad tastes better if it sits about 5 minutes before serving.

Salad Dressing Ingredients
1 lemon, squeezed
1/2 cup olive oil
3 Tb agave nectar
1 tsp salt
1 large shallot, minced

Combine all ingredients in a bowl; mix well.

eat-more-kale

 

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crock pot apple butter

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One of my favorite things about picking apples is going home and making apple butter. I hope you enjoy this easy recipe as much as I do. Below are some ways to eat this yummy spread.

Ingredients
7 pounds of apples, peeled, cored and chopped. (I used a variety of organic apples that Terry and I had picked from the apple orchard in Julian)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tb ground cinnamon
1-1/2 Tb vanilla extract

Directions:
Place the apples in your crock pot. In a bowl mix together all dry ingredients and sprinkle over the apples. Add the vanilla to the apples and gently stir to combine all ingredients.

Cook the apples on low heat for 10 hours. Stirring occasionally.

Remove the top of the crock pot, and using an immersion blender, puree apples until smooth. Cover and cook another 2 hours.

Allow the apple butter to cool and spoon into canning jars. Store the apple butter in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, or freeze for up to 2 months.

Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

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roasted butternut squash soup with leeks

Butternut Squash Soup LeadIngredients
2 to 2 1/2 pounds roasted Butternut squash
3 Tb butter
2 leeks; white and soft green parts, diced
3 cups vegetable stock
1 cut up Granny Smith Apple
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/3 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp allspice
sprinkle of thyme

Optional toppings
sour cream, chives, basil and bacon

Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Wash butternut squash, cut in half lengthwise and remove seeds and string (you can speed up the process at this point by placing squash cut side up in a microwave safe dish and cooking on high for 12 to 15 minutes).

For roasting, drizzle with olive oil and lightly season with Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper. Roast uncovered for about 45 minutes. Cool slightly, remove skin and cube.

Butternut Squash 2

In a stockpot, melt butter and sauté leeks for a few minutes. Add remaining ingredients and puree with an immersion blender. Let simmer for about 20 minutes and serve with condiments.

To save time
1. Purchase bag of Butternut squash already cubed and ready to be roasted or microwaved. I like the Butternut Squash found at Trader Joe’s.

2. Roast Butternut squash in advance so it is ready to be pureed when you are ready.

This recipe is compliments of our Gluten-Free friend Sarah!

 

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take time to smell the apples

Julian Lead CollageChristi and I chose an idyllic fall day to embark on the All-American “seasonal” pastime of apple-picking.

Having a short-window in southern California for showcasing our winter wardrobes, we busted out our scarves, boots and hats and hit the open road. Armed with steaming coffee, a basketful of road trip snacks and two teenagers in the back to help us capture all of our candid apple-picking shots, we looked forward to the day ahead.

Our destination was Julian, California which is a small rustic town located in the mountains one hour east of San Diego. Julian’s roots date back to the 1870’s and the Gold Rush days. Today Julian is most famous for apples and scrumptious apple pie but attracts visitors who enjoy its charming appeal, multiple offerings from afternoon tea to wine tasting to mining tours, and its four seasons, a rarity in southern California.

A little more than two hours into our drive, we pulled into a quaint orchard, instantly noticing ours was the only car in the gravelly lot. With our enthusiasm still at full mast, we strode into the office to get our apple-picking baskets envisioning ourselves gracefully plucking apples from hundred year-old trees.

We were met by a tall gentleman working at the orchard who informed us, apple picking season is over and the orchard is closed.” Not to be discouraged and hoping to slightly ingratiate ourselves, we listened attentively to a very detailed explanation of apple-picking, why the season ends, when the season begins, how sustainable farming works, etc., etc… We in turn talked about our blog, the drive we made all the way out here and how we really, really, really needed to pick apples. We might have begged a little. I’m pretty sure we did. But you know, it takes five NO’s to get to a YES and we got our YES.

Julian Final 3

Christi and I scampered out to the orchard and filled our bags with apples of all sizes and colors from golden to deep red. And let me tell you, the apples are delicious – crunchy, crisp, full of flavor and possibility. We finished our picking and hopped back in the car to explore Julian. It is a charming and quaint town with a pace that feels unhurried. We strolled up and down the main street, ate lunch in a cute bistro and headed home. On the way out of town we hit the Julian Pie Company with thoughts of Thanksgiving and beautiful pies (check that off the list) being served for dessert.
Julian Collage 2

Having lived in California my whole life, the visit to Julian was a completely new experience. What a little treasure right in our own backyard. The slow pace, tranquil setting, beautiful scenery and quality “friend” time made it worth the trip…apple-picking season or NOT!

If you plan on visiting Julian, we recommend you visit during the “Julian Apple Days,” and have an idea of which orchards you want to visit (see orchard guide here). The Apple Days coincide with the fall harvest of the Julian apples which occur from September through Mid-October or “whenever all the apples are gone!

This week on Cashmere Apron, we will feature two of our favorite recipes made with our very own, hand-picked Julian apples!

grilled shrimp over coconut rice with mango salsa

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Here is a fast, fresh and fabulous meal for you to prepare for your family. Turn up your grill or quickly cook these shrimp in your oven. This marinade is one of our favorites and is delicious on chicken and fish as well.

Shrimp Ingredients:
32 medium size shrimp, peeled and deveined
Soy Vay Veri Veri Teriyaki Marinade
8 wooden skewers, soaked in water for about 15 minutes

Shrimp Directions:
Marinate the shrimp for 15 minutes, drain and thread onto the wooden skewers. Grill the shrimp for 3 minutes per side or until cooked through. Serves: 4

Coconut Rice Ingredients:
2 cups jasmine rice
1-1/2 cup water
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 tsp. kosher salt

Coconut Rice Directions:
Rinse and drain the rice in cold water. Place in a saucepan with the water, coconut milk, and salt. Place the pot over high heat and bring the liquid to a boil. Stir and reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting and cover the pot tightly with the lid. Continue cooking for 15 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and let it stand 10 minutes, covered. Fluff with a fork and serve. Compliments: Sandra Lee

Mango Salsa Ingredients:
2 ripe mangos, peeled, pitted and diced
1/2 medium sweet onion, finely chopped
1 jalapeño chile, remove seeds and mince
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped small (about 1 cup)
3 Tb chopped fresh cilantro
3 Tb fresh lime juice
Salt and pepper
Honey

Mango Salsa Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Season to taste with honey, salt, and pepper.

 

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