Broccoli and Spinach Pesto

 

Pasta with broccoli is one of my favorite dinners. My mom always made it growing up with bowtie pasta as a side to flank steak or some other protein. It’s garlicky, cheesy, uses fresh veggies and is one the most comforting dinners any time of year. One night I had the idea to make the broccoli into more of a sauce so I took out my handy blender and started throwing things in there. The outcome was another easy weeknight meal that’s comforting and pretty good for you. Of course you can use a whole wheat pasta or whatever you like.

Ingredients:

  • Broccoli – 1 large head or 2 small
  • 1-2 cups of fresh spinach
  • Basil (this is optional- a few basil leaves is a good addition I didn’t have when I made it)
  • Pignoli nuts (also optional, I didn’t have any when I made it but it’s a good for protein)
  • Olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • Chicken broth- a cup or so
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Avocado (optional addition, I used about 1/3 of a small avocado. The more you use, the less cheese and oil you have to use to get a creamy consistency)
  • 1 lb of the pasta of your choice

Directions:

Put a pot of water on the stove  and bring to a boil. Salt it and cook your pasta. In the meantime, you can make the pesto sauce.

Put your garlic cloves and oil in the pan on medium heat. Once it starts to sizzle add the broccoli and saute a few minutes. Add in the spinach. Let cook until it wilts and then add in the chicken broth. This will help steam the broccoli so it’s not rock hard in the blender. And sauteing it first in the oil will give it that nice flavor.

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When the broccoli is bright green and softens, it’s done.

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Then put the ingredients (less the broth) in the blender. Reserve the broth to thin out the sauce later if necessary.

Add parmesan cheese, avocado, salt and cracked black pepper. This would also be the time to add basil and nuts if you are using them.
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Pulse until it’s nice and chunky. You don’t want to pulverize it to death. If it’s a little dry add some of the broth you reserved in the pan. This will prevent you from having to add more olive oil but of course that’s a tasty option.

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Add your sauce to your cooked pasta, stir well and top with more cheese! You may need another spoonful of broth here. I also drizzled a tiny bit of olive oil on top which is not necessary but decadent and delicious. Season with more fresh cracked black pepper and enjoy!!

 

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Peanut Sesame Noodles

You know what sucks? When you make the decision to calorie splurge because you’re craving (fill in the blank) and you open up that delivery to-go container, take your first bite, and then get immediately disappointed. This happens to me a lot. When I’m craving something that’s not too good for me, I want it to be WORTH IT! So in an effort to make sure I enjoy my calorie ridden meals I sometimes make them myself. (See some of my comfort food recipes here). This recipe could be a lot worse in the not so good for you department but using the soba noodles and not frying the chicken in a sugar sauce really makes this meal pretty good for you. And it’s packed with protein!

This particular night I was craving cold sesame noodles. I had been disappointed after ordering them a few times recently. I decided to make a version of them for dinner with chicken breast and eat it warm.  You will need…

Ingredients:

  • Peanut butter- any kind you like
  • Soba noodles (or any type of lomein or noodle you prefer)
  • Rice Vinegar
  • Sesame oil
  • Sesame seeds
  • 1-3 heaping tablespoons of chili paste depending on your tolerance of heat
  • Soy Sauce
  • Tahini (optional)
  • 1 tsp of sugar
  • Chicken breast, cut up into bite sized pieces
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2-3 stalks of Celery, diced
  • Fresh ginger, grated (optional)
  • Scallions, chopped
  • Garlic, grated

A photo of most of my ingredients here:

Directions:

  • First start by marinating your chicken in soy sauce, a dash of sesame oil, fresh grated garlic, chili paste (if you like spice) fresh grated ginger and a sprinkle of salt

Place a pot of water on the stove and bring to a boil for your noodles.

Then make your peanut sesame sauce while the chicken marinates.

IMG_4305Place a heaping spoonful of peanut butter in a food processor. Add a few tablespoons of soy sauce and rice wine vinegar. You can choose the amount of chili paste to add but I put about a tablespoon. I also only used a tsp of sugar even though most recipes call for more (I prefer more heat and less sweet).

Add a clove of garlic, sesame seeds, a dash of sesame oil, tahini and a few tablespoons of warm water. I know my measurements aren’t exact but you have to go with your gut and use more of the flavors you like and less that you don’t. Blend and set aside. If it’s too thick add a touch more soy sauce and or water. 

Add sesame oil to a hot wok and add in your onions, stir for a minute and then celery. Let cook on high heat for another minute or two. 

Next goes in your chicken and stir. You want to brown all sides of the chicken. 

Shut the heat off your chicken and let sit. It shouldn’t take long to cook because you cut the chicken up into small pieces. 

When your noodles are done, add a dash of sesame oil to keep them from sticking and let them cool for a moment.

 

Its up to you if you want to combine the chicken with your noodles or keep them separate. I took some photos with and without.  Top your final Bowl with sesame seeds and add scallions. 


 

 

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Eggs & Avo “Everything” Sandwich

Avo toast is all the rage lately. Quite frankly it’s delicious if done properly. That means 1) finding ripe avocados and then 2) adding some flavor to make it stand out–whether with salt & cayenne pepper or my new favorite “everything but bagel” seasoning from Trader Joes. I love making breakfast and have come up with so many ways to combine eggs & avocado which go together so perfectly. The creaminess of the avocado acts like a cheese but it’s a tad bit better for you. The only thing this sandwich is missing is bacon–which I encourage adding if you have the time in the morning. This recipe is my quick n healthy before work go-to.

(PS- when picking out an avocado, make sure it’s firm but gives a little. It shouldn’t be like mush and it shouldn’t feel like a baseball. It’s the happy medium. Then, pick the little stem off. If it’s green behind there, then it’s green inside. If you see any brown then put it down!)

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg (scrambled, poached or fried- chef’s choice. )
  • 1/2 of a small avocado
  • Beautiful red juicy tomato, sliced
  • Toast (I used whole wheat english muffin)
  • Everything but bagel seasoning (pictured below)
  • Kosher Salt
  • Optional Addition: add cayenne pepper or your favorite hot sauce to kick it up a notch

Directions:

So this can’t be much easier… slice your tomatoes, mash your avocado, cook your egg, sprinkle with seasoning and put it all together on toasted bread.

Photos and tips below….

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In the summer, we grow tomatoes and it’s worth every minute of labor and the daily watering. There’s nothing better then picking a fresh tomato, cutting it like an apple and sprinkling some kosher salt on it. YUM! But I digress. If you have a juicy red tomato laying around, add this to your avo toast.

I do suggest adding kosher salt directly to the tomato slice in addition to the seasoning blend but that’s just because of my crazy obsession with kosher salt.

Start with the avocado. Put it on your toasted bread and mash with a fork. Add a layer of seasoning. If you’re making a sandwich I do recommend splitting the avocado mesh between both slices of bread so it’s on both sides of your sandwich.

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Add tomatoes and another layer of seasoning (plus the optional sprinkle of salt)

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Add your scrambled (pictured below), fried or poached egg and sprinkle one more layer of seasoning. Top with another piece of toast and take a bite. You can also make this open faced and eat it with a fork and knife if you’re watching those carbs.

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If you’re in a rush, skip the tomato and the egg!

Cherry tomatoes work too 🙂

Blistered Shishito Peppers

It’s always good to have easy appetizers in your back pocket. This recipe can be thrown together in 10 minutes and will please any crowd. Pair it with a creamy dip:  it’s healthy and not too spicy–just full of flavor. 

Ingredients 

  • Shishito peppers
  • Kosher or Sea Salt
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Paprika
  • Olive oil 
  • Mayo and/or sour cream
  • Half of a lemon, juiced
  • Dash hot sauce to taste 

Put your clean and dry peppers in a bowl. Toss with the seasonings and oil. Go a little heavy on the salt. 


To make the dip put equal parts sour cream and mayo with lemon juice and hot sauce to taste. Mix and let sit. 

Put your cast iron skillet on the stove and get it piping hot. Then turn to medium/high heat. 


Place your peppers in the pan and let cook for a minute or two then toss to blister the other sides. Cook for a total of 5-6 minutes. 

Serve immediately with dipping sauce. Sprinkle peppers with more salt on top and a dash of paprika in the sauce for a touch of color.  

To eat – pick up peppers by the stem, dip in sauce and chow down on everything but the stem. 

Homemade Salsa

Homemade salsa is one of the easiest appetizers to make. You can do it in advance and pull it out in seconds. I recommend making it the day before you want to eat it for best results. It also will stay in your fridge for a while in an air tight jar. So many people ask me for this recipe. Your friends will too.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large can San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes (pictured below)
  • Half of a white onion, quartered (has to be white, can’t substitute here)
  • 1 jalapeño, seeds removed
  • Bunch of fresh cilantro
  • Salt and fresh cracked pepper
  • Dash of cayenne pepper for extra heat

Note: the type of tomatoes you use will affect the outcome of this salsa. I recently tried a different brand and the taste was way off. You can get the ones in the picture below a lot of places including Whole Foods. I use them for my Italian sauces too. This is KEY to good salsa.

Instructions


Pour the ingredients into a blender. Pulse until desired texture. I like mine a little chunky so you can see all the ingredients in it.

 



Put it in a jar and refrigerate for 2 hours. It won’t taste good until the flavors have a chance to merry for at least an hour. Serve with chips and you’re done!

Homemade Ravioli

I’ve wanted to try homemade ravioli ever since I figured out how to make homemade pasta. A Valentine’s Day with wind chills in the negative degrees provided a perfect opportunity to stay home and accomplish this somewhat scary goal– and the hubby even helped! The pasta part really is a two person job. It is also time consuming but SO worth it. The best part is you can use any filling your heart desires. I couldn’t decide what to do so I made 4: 1) mushroom, truffle & goat cheese, 2) spinach, arugula and basil, 3) broccoli rabe and 4) ricotta and basil. This recipe made us about 50 ravioli. Keep in mind they are great to freeze so if you’re putting in the work, you might as well make a lot!

Ingredients:
For the pasta:

  • 5 cups of flour
  • 8 eggs at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup water

For the fillings:

Make sure you buy high quality cheese–fresh ricotta if you can. This will make a big difference in the final product.  
Truffle Mushroom & Goat Cheese:

  • Sautee one package of mixed mushrooms in oil and truffle butter. Season with sea salt and cracked pepper. Put the mushrooms in a blender and pulse. Then put in a bowl and add about 3 oz of goat cheese and some fresh parmigiano cheese.      

Broccoli Rabe & Garlic

  • I bought fresh roasted broccoli rabe and garlic with red pepper flakes from A&S fine foods in Stamford. I can’t make a better broccoli rabe and it takes out a few steps. If you are going to do it yourself you should par boil the broccoli and then sautee. Then put it in a blender and pulse. I added ricotta and fresh parmigiano cheese.  img_4879

Spinach, Arugula & Basil

  • Sautee spinach and arugula in some olive oil. You have the option to add chopped garlic as well. Put in processor and pulse. Add ricotta and parmigiano.  img_4881

Directions:

Make a well with your flower in a bowl and add the eggs and water to the center. Scramble the eggs with a fork and slowly bring flour into the egg mixture. This process takes a while. Be patient- you will probably think you did something wrong because the flour isn’t combining right away. Just keep working it.


Once you have incorporated all the ingredients, sprinkle some extra flour on the counter and knead the dough with your hands. You will probably have to put some flour on your hands so it doesn’t stick. You should work the dough for quite a few minutes with your hands until it smoothed out.

 Then place it in a bowl, put a dash of  olive oil on it and rub it all over the dough. Then cover the bowl with a dish towel. Let it rest.

My great grandmother used to roll the dough with a large rolling pin when she made pasta every week. That, I can’t imagine! I use my grandmother’s pasta machine which is much easier. I feed the pasta through twice on 8, twice on 6, twice on 4 and once on 2.

Although now they do make machines to do it for you–whichever way you choose is fine. pasta maker
When you are ready, roll the dough into a log and cut evenly into pieces.

You may want to cut only one piece at first to make sure it’s the right width. Making ravioli isn’t a science but I can already tell that the more you make these, the easier it will become.

Spoon out your mixture on to the pasta sheets. We learned after a few times that pressing the filling down to flatten it out will make a better ravioli.
  

We started by making square ravioli which we were messier to eat but it’s really just a matter of preference.

I don’t have fancy ravioli tools so I grabbed a pizza cutter and a fork. It worked!

What worked even better was when we found a small glass jar to cut the round ones.

I placed them on parchment paper with cornmeal to prevent them from sticking.

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To cook: bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. You don’t want a very high boil as it could damage all the work you just did! They cook in roughly 3 minutes.

For sauce: I found truffle butter and parmesan cheese on the mushroom ones were amazing! I also made a white wine and butter sauce with shallots and parsley that was delicious. And we had a few with tomato sauce. You can’t go wrong!


The cooked product! Yum!

And some with sauce…. Yum, yum, and yum!


  

 

One year later on Christmas day we made these again. It’s such a fun family activity–I highly recommend it! This time we made a pesto sauce and a red sauce. Mmmm mmm mmm!

 

 

Grilled Mexican Street Corn

Mexican street corn has recently gained popularity and when it started popping up on food shows and then local restaurants I was hooked. It’s a quick and easy recipe to make. When one of our legislators brought bags of fresh corn into the office from his farm, I immediately knew what I was doing with it.


Ingredients:

  • Fresh corn on the cob
  • About 1 tbsp Fresh cilantro, cleaned and chopped
  • 1-2 limes, juiced
  • 1 spoonful of mayo (more to taste)
  • Cotija cheese (You can use feta crumbles as substitute if you can’t find cotija)
  • Dash cayenne pepper
  • Salt & Pepper


Instructions:

  • Grill your corn, rotating it to get black marks on all sides (about 7 minutes or so total). You can choose to rub some olive oil on it before placing on the grill but not necessary.
  • Mix a spoonful of mayo with the juice of 1-2 fresh limes. You want it a little soupy so you can drizzle it over your corn. Add salt & pepper and combine well.
  • Plate your corn, drizzle the mayo and lime juice mixture over the top. Then add cheese crumbles.
  • Top with cilantro and a few dashes of cayenne pepper (more if you like it spicy!)
  • That’s it- it’s that simple. Eat and enjoy. It’s a great side dish to tacos, enchilladas, baked chiles rellenos, fajitas or my oven baked chicken & avocado taquitos (recipe coming soon-photo below). See my Mexican recipes here. 

You can also cut the corn off the cob and use the same ingredients to make a salad. Both ways are delicious! 

Homemade Jelly Donuts or Sufganiyot

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Anyone who knows me is understanding of the fact that I don’t bake, mostly because I don’t like dessert, but also because I hate following precise instructions. Donuts are an exception to that rule. I love donuts. Especially warm ones that are right out of the fryer. This year our family decided we would make some from scratch, in honor of Hanukkah of course. I did the research to make them relatively easy and they were good. The tricky part is you have to serve them immediately to really appreciate their warm and perfectly sweet qualities.

Ingredients:

  • 1 packet of active dry yeast
  • 3/4 cup lukewarm milk (not hot)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons of softened butter’2 1/3 cups of flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Vegetable oil for deep frying
  • Jam or preserves of your choice
  • Powdered s ugar

The Dough:

In a large mixing bowl combine yeast, sugar and milk. Let it sit for 5 minutes. They say it is supposed to become foamy. Mine really didn’t until I whisked in the yolks. Then add the butter.

We made the dough by hand because I didn’t have the proper mixer at my Mom’s house. Add half of the flour and stir with a spoon until it’s all combined. Then add the second half and the salt. Stir what you can with the spoon and then get your hands in there. Knead it for about 5 minutes. You should resist the urge to add more flour. The stickier the dough, the better it will be. When you add extra flour it makes tough and dry donuts. Wash the counter later…

Add a tiny bit of oil to the bottom of the bowl and put your dough back in so it can rest. Cover with plastic wrap. I let it go for about an hour while I did other things. I’ve read 20 minutes is fine.

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When you are ready, lightly flour your counter and roll the dough to about 1/2 inch thickness. I used a 2 inch round cutter and I think we got about 17 donuts. The scraps around the edges are great for testing your oil.

Set the rounds out to rise with a towel over them–about 30 minutes at room temperature.

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My sister and I wisely used this time to create a make-shift jelly bag to squirt the jelly into the finished donuts. Using the end of a straw, scissors, a plastic bag and tape… woila!

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We chose two kinds of jelly. In the end I preferred the raspberry, but next time I would like to try grape.

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Heat your 2 inches or so of oil in a cast iron pan. Check the temperature by placing one of your scraps in. You don’t want the oil so hot that it sizzles the way it does when you fry a latke or chicken cutlet. We found it ends up burning the donut and not cooking it all the way through. You want it just to bubble enough that it slowly browns the donut on each side – maybe a minute each?

2014-12-27 19.47.31 There was definitely some trial and error with our first few donuts. Don’t be ashamed. It takes some practice.

When the donuts came out I first placed them on a cooling rack and then transferred them to a paper bag lined with paper towels to soak up excess oil.

2014-12-27 19.51.09Then when they are cool enough to handle use the piping bag made with the straw to insert jelly into the middle of the donut. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and you got yourself a heavenly bite.

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I highly recommend making these. They are messy and they probably wouldn’t travel well, but if you are having company over it can be a fun after dinner activity! My Mom and sister helped the process go a lot smoother so if you have someone who can stuff the donuts while you do the frying, it would be a big help!

Real Deal String Bean Casserole with Home-Fried Crispy Onions

We have all eaten some version of string bean casserole. Campbell’s advertises their cream of mushroom soup around the holidays just for that purpose. You’ll even find a recipe on the back of the can. I happen to find canned creamy soup unappetizing so I set out last Thanksgiving to make string bean casserole from scratch–no preservatives or canned anything.  It was worth the extra effort. I promise.

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Photos courtesy of Lisa Effren Photography.

*You can make this in a cast iron pan but we don’t have one big enough.

Ingredients:

Crispy Onions
2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced (use 3 if you want to snack-it’s hard not to eat them)
1/4 cup flour
2 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs
Salt & Pepper
Canola oil, for frying

Mushroom Sauce
3 tablespoons or so butter
1 package of mushrooms, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
Kosher salt

1-2 shallots
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream or similar substitute

1.5 lbs of fresh string beans, trimmed and cleaned

Instructions:

Using a mandolin, cut your onion into thin strips.

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Toss the onions with the flour, bread crumbs, salt and pepper.

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Heat about 1/2 inch of oil in a pan and test the temperature by dropping one onion in. It should sizzle.

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Only cook a handful or so at a time in small batches. Place the finished ones on a paper bag lined with paper towels to soak up the excess oil. *Beware: hide these somewhere while you compile the rest of the dish- or they will somehow disappear.

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Par boil the string beans in salted water and then place in a ice bath to stop the cooking. The last thing we want are mushy string beans.

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

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To make the mushroom sauce:

Over medium-high heat, melt butter in the bottom of a pan or cast iron skillet. Add the mushrooms, salt and pepper and saute them for 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic, shallots and saute one minute more.

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Add the flour and combine.

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Add the broth a little at a time and keep stirring. Let it simmer for a minute or so, add the cream and bring to a simmer again while stirring. In about 5 minutes or so the sauce should thicken.

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Pour the mixture over the string beans in a baking dish. Add onions and bake until everything bubbles – about 15 minutes.

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No Bake Protein Bites

We have all reached for the bag of potato chips, chocolate cookies or in my case usually goldfish, at some point during the day. You’re hungry or bored (or hungry and bored) and you didn’t pack anything healthy to bring to work. Or the case may be that any healthy choices are uninteresting or too difficult. I’m not going to pretend to solve that problem totally but I have found something that is super easy to make, you can store it in your fridge for a week and they actually do taste delicious. The no bake protein bites have been a craze for a while now but they are new to me so I’m excited and sharing it with all of you. There are endless ways to craft these and I will probably try using raisins instead of chocolate chips and maybe some almond butter instead of peanut butter. But for now, this recipe works great! One ball if made the size of a golf ball is roughly 165 calories and  5 grams of protein. (You can also consider adding protein powder if you’re working out and need the extra protein).

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Ingredients:

This should make 12 snack bites.

  • 1 cup of dry oatmeal
  • 2/3 cup coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup honey (I used half agave nectar and half honey)
  • 1 Tbsp. chia seeds
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ (or flaxseed)
  • 1/4 cup or so of dark chocolate chips

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Instructions:

Put all ingredients in a bowl and mix together. Place in the refrigerator for 20 minutes or so to get everything cold. Then roll them into balls. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator and eat one for your late afternoon snack!

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Nanny’s Homemade Manicotti

Growing up, Nanny often made manicotti for the holidays and special occasions. Soft crepe like tubes, stuffed with ricotta cheese, topped with sauce and more cheese; it’s quite heavenly. Don’t confuse it with cannelloni which is more of a pasta type dough that is stuffed typically with meats and baked in a bechamel sauce.

Each year for Christmas day, Mom and I like to take on a cooking challenge. We have all day, we aren’t getting out of our pajamas, so why not cook something fun? We made just under 100 manicotti and of course froze some for Nanny and other family members. In my opinion, if you are going to put in the work, you might as well make a lot. We paired them with roasted racks of lamp chops (recipe to come later) and sautéed zucchini–a well-balanced holiday meal that hit the spot! These delicate cheesy bites of heaven will satisfy any crowd and you can have fun doing it!

Note: We altered Nanny’s recipe a little as she traditionally puts mint in her ricotta stuffing. We opted to put parsley, basil and mint which worked out well!

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Ingredients & Directions:

Stuffing-

  • 4 lbs of riccota cheese
  • 1 bag of shredded mozzarella cheese
  • About a cup of grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
  • Salt
  • 2-3 eggs
  • Fresh chopped basil, parsley and mint

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Manicotti Batter- (should make roughly 100)

  • 12 eggs
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 2 cups of milk

If you want to cut the recipe down to 74, us 9 eggs, 1 1/2 cups of flour, 1 1/2 cups of milk.

Place your ingredients in a bowl and set your mixer to 15 minutes on a low speed.

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The batter should be on the thin side and smooth. Now here comes the tricky part… making the manicotti.

Mom and I wish Nanny was with us to help guide us through the many batches of trial and error. It takes a certain technique. Is it thin enough? It’s too thick. It’s too long or it’s not fat enough. Eventually we got the hang of it. Don’t lose hope.

Heat your griddle or flat pan to about 300 degrees. Nanny says grease it once and once only. The batter will cook fast but you don’t want it to brown/burn. It will bubble slightly and should easily come off the griddle with a spatula.

We used a metal spoon and poured the batter in a horizontal line and using the back of the spoon pushed the batter around in the shape seen below.

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Next to your stove lay out some cooling racks. Transfer your finished manicotti to the cooling racks for a few minutes. You should have lined your counter with wax paper which you will then move the cooled manicotti too (seen below).

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Next comes the stuffing! Don’t be skimpy. Place the filling at the edge and then loosely roll it shut. Don’t roll it tight like a burrito.
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If you are going to freeze some for leftovers, place them in a box on wax paper.
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For the ones you are eating. Place a layer of sauce in the bottom of a baking dish. Then add the manicotti, top with sauce and parmesan cheese and bake covered at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes.

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Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm! Mangia!

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Mom’s Amazing Latkes

Latkes. Fried potato goodness dipped in sour cream and/or apple sauce. We eat them once a year on Hanukkah. They are worth every single calorie and every minute of frying. Of course if you are only cooking for a small family, it’s not that labor intensive. But if you are like us, and want to make 50+ latkes, it takes a bit of time…

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There are many, many variations on latkes. This year since Hanukkah falls on Thanksgiving, we are seeing lots of sweet potato latke recipes with sweet and fun toppings. We are sticking to the traditional. We only have them once a year and I want them the same way I’ve been enjoying them for the last few decades. 🙂 However, I highly recommend adding zucchini and even some garlic powder for some extra flavor and goodness. Using less potato and more vegetable is obviously a good thing, and you can’t taste the difference. It’s a great way to hide some veggies and make your kids eat them! 🙂 More photos to come post Thanksgivukkah!

Ingredients:

  • 6 medium potatoes (or substitute one or two potatoes with zucchini)
  • 1 onion
  • 2 eeggs, slightly beaten
  • 3 tbsp. flour – add more as needed
  • Salt & Pepper (season liberally!)
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • Vegetable oil for fying
  • Garlic powder (optional)

Instructions:

Peel and rinse potatoes in cold water. Half the potatoes to fit in the grater and then grate the potatoes and onion- I recommend a food processor with a grating disc. You can do them by hand but why bother? We use the julienne grater so our latkes have texture. Otherwise they’re like mush.

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Strain out the liquid. Add eggs, flour, salt, pepper and baking powder. Mix well.

You’ll want to keep your mixture cold if you aren’t frying immediately–especially if you have a large batch like us. Place ice in a large bowl and set your bowl with the mixture in it, in the ice bath.

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Using a slotted spoon, take a small spoonful of the mixture to the frying pan. I suggest using another spoon to press down on the latke making it thin and squeezing out any excess liquid. We like thin and crunchy latkes (see photo). If you want thick potato pancakes, look elsewhere. Then slide the mixture off the pan into the oil.

Taste one of your first latkes. You may need to add more salt so now is the time to test it 🙂

Fry until golden brown on each side. Drain on paper towel-lined brown grocery bags.

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Serve with applesauce and/or sour cream. We made a delicious sour cream topping by adding parmesan cheese and truffle salt.

Homemade Ricotta Gnocchi with Pesto

Homemade gnocchi has been on my food bucket list for some time now and the potato version remains on the list, but I can now cross off the ricotta thanks to my Mom’s birthday dinner wish! We didn’t follow the recipe exactly because well I hate directions, and who has hours to wait for their dough to rest??? I actually got out measuring cups for this one though and I guess it was worth it. Absolutely delicious!

I have quite a few different pesto recipes on my blog. For tonight’s dinner, Mom made a basil and parsley pesto which was delicious. Remember when making pesto, buying the best and freshest ingredients because they will yield the best results.

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Ingredients:

  • 1lb fresh ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated fresh

Directions:

Place ricotta in a strainer set over medium bowl. Chill in the fridge until the ricotta has texture of wet clay, about 1 hour.

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Mix ricotta, 1/2 cup of flour, egg & next 5 ingredients in medium bowl, adding more flour by tbsp until dough is slightly sticky.

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Cover and chill for 30 minutes.

Sprinkle rimmed baking sheet with flour.

Transfer the dough to lightly floured surface. Cut into 4 equal pieces.

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Using your hands, roll 1 piece on floured surface into 3/4 inch-wide log.

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Cut log crosswise into 1-inch pieces. Place gnocchi on prepared baking sheet, spacing apart. Repeat with remaining dough. Cover gnocchi with plastic wrap and chill at least 1 hour or up to one day. ( Ours chilled for maybe a half hour and we cut them afterwards)

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In a large skillet, melt the butter and keep warm.

Working in two batches, add gnocchi to large pot of boiling salted water, stirring to prevent sticking. Boil until gnocchi rise to surface of water, then continue boiling until cooked through, 1 1/2 to 2 mintues longer. Using slotted spoon, transfer gnocchi to skilled with melted butter. Toss with pesto and fresh grated cheese and serve! 20131118-105543.jpg

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Baked Eggplant, Tomato and Mozzarella Stack

I was somewhat complaining earlier today because all I had in my fridge for dinner was an eggplant and I didn’t feel like going to the store. I ended my night however with a meal that Kyle said was in my top 5 of all time. (Woo hoo!) I was able to pick some tomatoes right out of my aunt’s neighbor’s garden and somehow I came up with a healthy, heavenly, fresh summer dinner.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 Eggplant
  • 2 ripe tomatoes
  • Fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • Fresh basil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped (optional)
  • Fresh chopped parsley (optional)
  • Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
  • Whole wheat panko breadcrumbs
  • Balsamic glaze
  • Olive oil spray
  • Salt  & pepper

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Instructions:

Heat your oven to 400 degrees.

Cut your eggplant into thick slices.

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Whisk the egg in a shallow bowl and season with salt and pepper.  Add your breadcrumb mixture to another shallow bowl. Add fresh chopped garlic and parsley if you have it on hand- if you are using seasoned italian breadcrumbs it’s not necessary.  I also added some salt and pepper.  Then add oil to the breadcrumb mixture to wet it a bit. Since we aren’t frying the eggplant, wetting the breadcrumbs will help them crisp up in the  oven.

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Place each slice of eggplant in the egg mixture and then into the breadcrumbs. Coat it well. Then place on a baking sheet lined with tin foil and sprayed with oil so they don’t stick.

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After about 15 minutes turn the oven to broil so the breadcrumbs start to brown. Then turn the eggplant over and do the same to the other side. Spray with more oil if necessary.

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Slice your tomatoes and mozzarella into thick slices.

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I placed some fresh arugula on the plate (an optional step). Then layer the eggplant, tomato, mozzarella and drizzle some balsamic glaze. Repeat steps until the stack can’t grow anymore.

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Dig in with a knife and fork. It may get messy but don’t let that stop you.

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Italian Antipasto Crostini

In search of a new fun appetizer, I spent some time on Pinterest and Food Gawker this week. I was going to a coworker’s house for a BBQ after a 9 hole golf tournament so I needed something I could make in advance and pack in a cooler. I came up with a combination of ingredients that go together seamlessly after seeing many different inspirational dishes online. The key here is your ingredients must be fresh!! You can opt for a store-bought pesto but I don’t think it’s quite the same.

This is a multi-step recipe and a little time consuming (but you can multi-task) so I recommend you make extra of these ingredients. Keep them in the fridge to integrate in other meals throughout the week–especially the caramelized onions and pesto!

Serve to your guests with toasted slices of bread and let them assemble their own crostini masterpiece!

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Ingredients:

  • Fresh Basil
  • 3 bell peppers
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 log of goat cheese
  • 1 container of cherry tomatoes
  • 3 large sweet onions (more if you want extras)
  • 1/4 cup or so of pine nuts
  • Few tablespoons of parmesan cheese
  • Fresh arugula (1/2 cup)
  • Olive oil
  • 1 baguette cut into slices
  • Kosher sea salt & fresh cracked pepper
  • Balsamic glaze (highly recommend purchasing this even if it is pricey, it’s a great finishing sauce for many dishes)

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Roasted Tomatoes and Peppers

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees. Cut your cherry tomatoes in half and cut your peppers into small strips. Place on a cookie sheet lined with tinfoil (less cleanup) and add olive oil until the vegetables glisten. Add salt & pepper and mix well. Place in the oven for 2 hours. (If you don’t have as much time you can turn your oven to a higher degree like 350 for an hour.) Taste your pepper to make sure it’s soft and sweet. If you bite into a pepper and there is a crunch, they are not ready.

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Caramelized Onions:

Caramelized onions can be made at any time and kept in the fridge for sweet and savory additions to meals throughout the week. Cut your onions into thin strips (for guidance click here). Place in a hot pan with olive oil and season with salt. Cook on medium to high so they brown (be careful not to burn!). You can’t over cook them on low heat-they only get sweeter. About 20-30 minutes is a good time frame for a delicious final product.

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Pesto:

Fill the food processor to the top with fresh basil and then add oil, salt, pepper, pine nuts and a bit of arugula (optional). Turn it on for a few seconds to get most of the mixture combined. Then add cheese and combine again.

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Plating:

Make sure all your ingredients are cooled. Add the roasted tomatoes and peppers to the outside of your dish. If you place a bowl in the center it will help guide you. Then add onions still leaving a place in the middle for your pesto. After you spoon in your pesto mixture (don’t be shy to pile it in there – people looove pesto) then top with your log of goat cheese. I recommend cutting your goat cheese into pieces to make it easier. Serve with toasted bread.

Give your guests a spoon and let them make their own crostini!

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Spicy Italian Baked Zucchini Chips

I often am looking for a salty and crunchy snack in the afternoon or after dinner late night. Sweets don’t do it for me: I need the salt. Given that zucchini is a vegetable and you are baking them (rather than frying) this recipe is a smart alternative to the typical fried potato chip or goldfish (my personal favorite). You can modify these any way you’d like but I opted for a thicker slice so it would be crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside and I added lots of red pepper flakes for a real kick.  This recipe is a hefty snack for 2 people, double it if you are making for a group. It’s also great to make as an appetizer.  As per usual, I didn’t measure when I created this recipe so go with your gut when proportioning out the various ingredients in the bread crumb mixture. Enjoy!

Zucchini Chips

Zucchini Chips

Ingredients:

  • 1 zucchini, washed and sliced roughly 1/4 thick
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 or so tbsp fresh chopped parsley
  • 2 tbsp parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat panko break crumbs (or whatever kind you have/prefer)
  • hefty sprinkling of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp non fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 egg white
  • salt & pepper
  • Olive oil

breadcrumbs

Instructions:

  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees
  • Brush a layer of olive oil or vegetable oil to a cookie sheet
  • Combine egg white and yogurt in a shallow bowl and combine well
  • Combine bread crumbs, salt & pepper, red pepper flakes, cheese, garlic, parsley in a shallow bowl
  • Coat your zucchini slices in the yogurt mixture and then transfer to bread crumbs

yogurt

  • Place the slices on your cookie sheet. Using your misto, spray the slices with olive oil to dampen the bread crumbs.

Ready for oven

  • Bake at 400 until golden brown (about 20 minutes)
  • Serve with your favorite sauce

Italian Baked Zucchini Chips

Mexican Black Bean Quinoa Burger

I love burgers especially those huge juicy, cheesy ones topped with tons of fun things! However, I am always willing to try new things–especially if means a healthy alternative. In anticipation of our vacation next week, I decided to stick with low carb and low-calorie meals.  For that reason I opted to rest the burger on a bed of kale and spinach but I this would be phenomenal on a bun! I tried black bean burgers on their own which were delicious but the quinoa makes the burger a bit more hearty and filling.  As far as toppings go, the options are endless. I went with a small scoop of guacamole and some tomatillo salsa I had on hand. You could do caramalized onions, a fried egg, sautéed mushrooms, cheese, and much much more.

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Ingredients:

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  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • bell peppers (I used baby red, orange and yellow for nice color), chopped

Peppers

  • 1 jalapeno or serrano pepper for heat (optional)
  • 1 lime
  • 1 egg
  • 3 scallions, chopped (you can use onion instead)
  • 2-3 chopped garlic cloves
  • Avocado for topping
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Chili powder (1/2 – 1 TBSP)
  • Cumin (1 teaspoon)

Instructions:

  • Cook 1 cup quinoa with 2 cups liquid (water or chicken broth)
  • Strain the can of black beans and place in a bowl. Using a fork, mash up the beans so it will form into a burger. If you need to add a splash of water it will help the process along.

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  • Add the chopped ingredients to your bean mixture. Squeeze the juice of one lime into the ingredients and if you like lime zest like I do, add some to the bowl as well.  
  • Season with chili powder, salt, pepper and cumin.

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  • Add the cooked quinoa and egg to the bowl and mix well. I made 2 very large burgers with these ingredients. It might be more manageable to make 4 smaller patties – but it’s your call. 

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  • Heat a flat pan to medium high heat and spray with olive oil.
  • Place your burgers on the pan and cook until you crisp up each side and the ingredients head through (about 4-5 minutes per side)


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  • While they are cooking place half an avocado in a bowl with fresh lime juice, salt and pepper. Mix well to place on top of your burger.
  • Serve your healthy and flavor packed black bean burgers!

Black Bean Quinoa Burger

Black Bean Soup

Black bean soup has been on my food bucket list for a while now. (Yes, I have a food bucket list– which includes foods that I have never attempted to make. i.e. crab cakes, sushi, homemade ravioli, etc). Black beans are good for you and I happen to love them. And loving black beans is clearly a pre-requisite for making this soup. It’s easy to make and it’s a low-calorie, healthy anytime meal/snack (Kyle and I calculated a hefty bowl being under 300 calories). If you puree the entire batch (instead of adding ingredients back in for a hearty more chunky soup), it can be used as a delicious sauce on top of chicken or in a burrito. I know the photo doesn’t exactly make you salivate but I promise it’s good, real good. There were two ingredients I didn’t have in my house which I highly recommend adding; fresh lime juice for some acidity and fresh cilantro for a finishing touch.

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INGREDIENTS:
-4 cans organic black beans
-3-4 cloves of garlic
-1 red bell pepper
-1 Spanish onion
-Olive oil (for sauteing)
-1 Anaheim chile pepper (a jalapeño or other hot pepper of your preference is fine)

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-Broth – chicken, vegetable or beef is fine. It’s a matter of preference. I used vegetable because I had it on hand. I used about 1 box.
-Squirt of tomato paste (optional)
-Seasonings: Salt, Pepper, Ancho chili powder, cumin, oregano
-Optional Toppings: reduced fat sour cream, cheese, avocado, cilantro

INSTRUCTIONS:
-In a large soup pan on med-high heat, add chopped onions with salt and pepper. Let cook for about 1-2 minutes. Add in the peppers and garlic. Stir and let cook for another minute.
-Add the strained and rinsed black beans to the pot and mix well (personal preference, not necessary). Season with salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin and oregano. Stir again making sure everything is evenly coated. Let cook for a few minutes.

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-Take about 2/3 of the ingredients out and put in a small bowl to the side.
-Add your broth of choice. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer.

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-Using your hand held mixer puree the soup until smooth. If you feel your soup is not thick enough add some tomato paste or if its too thick add more broth. (If you don’t have a hand held mixer, you can pour half of your soup into the blender)

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-Add the mixture you set aside back into the soup bowl and let simmer until you are ready to eat.
-Serve with a small scoop of reduced fat sour cream, a slice of avocado, a sprinkle of Mexican cheese and topped with fresh chopped cilantro. You can use any or all of these toppings. I happen to think the avocado added a creamy and decadent flavor to the soup. Enjoy!

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French Toast Sandwich with Sauteed Bananas and Peanut Butter

This Saturday morning when I walked into the kitchen I saw bananas and bread. I got inspired to do something different. I’m more of an egg and cheese sandwich kind of girl but Kyle loves peanut butter and french toast so I got to experimenting. This was super easy to make and a nice weekend morning treat! If you have a sweet tooth like Kyle, I recommend drizzling some maple syrup on top and using a fork and knife instead.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 pieces of bread
  • 1 banana
  • Peanut butter
  • 1 egg
  • Dash of vanilla
  • Dash of cinnamon and nutmeg
  • Milk or half and half
  • Butter for sauteing
  • Sugar in the raw
  • Maple syrup (optional)

Instructions:

In a shallow bowl add egg, milk, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix well with a fork. Place your bread in the bowl and soak until all the mixture is gone.

Cut your banana into slices and sprinkle with a bit of sugar.

On a hot flat pan add some butter. Place your two pieces of bread in the middle and the bananas on the outside edges.

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When the bread is nice and browned, it is ready to flip. Same goes for the banana. The banana will be ready first so take those off after you see the nice crust develop.

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Cut the bread in half, add peanut butter and banana slices. Take a bite and enjoy!

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Spaghetti Squash with Broccoli and Cheese

I fell in love with spaghetti squash a few winters ago and made it almost weekly coming up with different recipes. There are so many ways you can use it–essentially you can substitute almost any spaghetti recipe. When you are watching your carb intake it’s a filling and warm winter meal! No, it’s not the same as pasta and don’t let anyone tell you that–but it’s still good! I previously posted my pasta with broccoli recipe which is one of my favorite dinners. The below recipe is similar but with… spaghetti squash.

Spaghetti Squash


Ingredients

  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • Olive Oil
  • Fresh grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt and lots of coarsely ground black pepper
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 shallot (optional)
  • Chicken broth- about 1/4 cup or so
  • Butter (amount to your liking- I used 2 spoonfuls of whipped butter)
  • Broccoli

Directions

To bake the squash, cut it in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds. Spray with olive oil and add salt and pepper. Put it in a 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes.

Put a small amount of water in a pan on high and steam your broccoli florets until bright green – about 3 or 4 minutes. Take out and run under cold water to stop the cooking. Then place on a cutting board and chop up into small pieces. You can also put them in food processor and give it a rough chop.

In a saute pan add olive oil, garlic and shallots and cook until translucent. Then add some chicken broth and let it simmer for 1-2 minutes.

garlic and shallot

Add the broccoli and butter.

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When your spaghetti squash is ready, use a fork to scrape out the “spaghetti”. (This time I scraped the seeds out after I cooked it)


Squash
Squash

Add the spaghetti in your pan with cheese salt and lots of black pepper. If you’d like, dress with some more olive oil. Toss together and serve.

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Squash and broccoli

Italian Garlic Bread with a Twist

Garlic bread is delicious. No matter how you make it, garlic with bread and oil or butter is going to be amazing. But, there is a way to fancy it up and make it even more irresistible. In Southbury, CT there was an Italian market called Villarinas where we always used to order garlic bread which came with roasted red peppers and fresh mozzarella. Since we don’t live there any more we decided to make it at home. This is quick and simple and can be used for an appetizer or side dish to compliment any meal. This would be a great addition to your Christmas Eve menu consider the beautiful colors.

Ingredients:

  • Fresh Italian bread
  • Garlic
  • Basil
  • Toasted pine nuts
  • Olive Oil
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Roasted Red Peppers
  • Fresh Mozzarella Cheese
  • Salt & Pepper

Directions:

  • Place basil, pine nuts, olive oil in a small blender and blend until smooth. Add some parmesan cheese, salt and pepper, and blend again until combined. Brush the pesto on your bread evenly.
  • Cut up the roasted red peppers and place around the bread.
  • Top with mozzarella.

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  • Bake in the oven at about 400 until the cheese is bubbly.
  • Cut up in pieces and mangia!

 

Fettuccine con Pesto

In continuing my theme of using ingredients from the garden, my friend Alex and I recently made pesto sauce. It’s a great time of year to make pesto and it is extremely easy to make. You can switch up ingredients depending what you have on hand making it a very versatile recipe.

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My favorite kind of pesto is a mixture of basil and arugula. Sometimes I use parsley or spinach but since I have a huge fresh basil plant, I wanted that to be my primary ingredient today. I also happen to have a small bagful of arugula in my fridge which I added. Pesto is great on pasta and you can easily add it to proteins such as grilled shrimp or chicken. You can marinate them in pesto or brush it on after it comes off the grill.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup pignoli (pine nuts) lightly toasted
  • 1-2 garlic cloves (remember the garlic is raw so the flavor will pack a punch and you don’t want to overpower the pesto)
  • 1-2 cups of fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup arugula
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup good olive oil depending on how much pesto you are making. You want your mixture to be smooth.
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese

Directions

Put a large pot of water on the stove, bring to a boil and salt well. Add your pasta. In the meantime, prepare your pesto.

Toast your pine nuts in a small pan until they start to produce an aroma and turn golden brown.

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Using a small food processor add the basil, arugula, pine nuts, red pepper flakes salt and pepper. Blend for roughly 15 seconds. I don’t have a machine that allows you to pour olive oil in while it is running. If you do, this is a great time to use it. If not, just simply add the olive oil and blend until smooth. Finally add the cheese and blend until smooth again.

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When your pasta is al dente strain it and set aside until your pesto is ready. Toss all together in a large bowl and serve with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.

If you have leftover pesto, put it in a small glass jar in the fridge and use it as seasoning on future meals. For example, the next morning I had a nice piece of Italian toast and put 2 slices of tomatoes on top from the garden. I then added a smear of pesto to each tomato. I topped the sandwich with a fried egg over easy. When you cut into the egg it will warm the pesto and you have yourself a fresh and delicious breakfast.

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Eggplant Balls

Italians are very familiar with meatballs, it’s part of our vocab from the time we can form words. “Eggplant balls” doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. They could really use a new name. But ever since I saw Giada make these I couldn’t get them off my mind. They are crunchy on the outside, tender and packed with fresh flavors from Italy on the inside. I don’t know why I’ve never made these before. My sister (the photographer) and I had a lot of fun making this dish! Wine helps.

I’ve never used a deep fryer before and I try to be healthy, but you can’t beat the color and texture a nice deep fry provides. I will try baking them the next time for a healthier spin, but for a splurge, this recipe was perfect and delicious. Here is the link to Giada’s recipe which I did modify.

Ingredients

2 Eggplants:

  • Olive oil spray
  • Eggplants cut in half, ends trimmed and halved lengthwise
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper

Filling:

  • 1 cup grated pecorino cheese
  • 1 cup Italian plain breadcrumbs, plus extra, as needed
  • Fresh chopped basil leaves
  • 1 large egg
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • A handful or so of fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Small mozzarella balls (optional)

Sauce:

  • 2 cups jarred marinara or tomato sauce (I do not like jarred sauce with one exception. Jerry’s sauce. See the photo below. It’s better than sauces I have in most restaurants.)
  • 3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Vegetable oil, for frying

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a small baking sheet or baking dish with cooking spray. Place the eggplant, cut-side up, on the prepared baking sheet. Make 1/2-inch-deep slits over the surface of the eggplant halves using a paring knife. Spray with the olive oil and bake until golden and tender, 40 to 45 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes.

For the filling: Scoop out the inside of the eggplant, using a spoon, and place in a food processor. Blend until the eggplant is smooth.

Add the cheese, breadcrumbs, basil, garlic, salt, pepper and parsley to a bowl and mix well.

Add the egg and eggplant. The mixture should be thick enough to form into balls. Add more breadcrumbs as needed. We made 15 balls out of the mixture, but we made them the size of meatballs. If you want these as an appetizer you could make them smaller.

We added an extra twist that Giada didn’t call for in her original recipe. We thought it would be fun to stuff these with a small mozzarella ball so there was a cheesy surprise on the inside.

For the sauce: Bring the marinara and red pepper flakes to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Keep warm over low heat until ready to serve. This is the amazing sauce I was telling you about. And it is now sold at Whole Foods. It’s worth every penny. Trust me.

Pour oil into a large heavy-bottomed saucepan to fill the pan enough to cover the balls. Heat the oil over medium heat until it starts to roll. (Giada says if you don’t have a thermometer, a cube of bread will brown in about 4 minutes. We just threw a piece of garlic in to see if it was ready) In batches, fry the eggplant balls until golden, about 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

Serve the fried eggplant with marinara sauce and the grated pecorino cheese. We enjoyed them with a nice big plate of pasta! What’s better than spaghetti and fried eggplant balls? We forgot to take a photo of our dinner plates because well, we were too busy stuffing our faces. Enjoy!

Poached Egg Parmesan

The Effrens have gotten very creative with eggs over the years. We will put a fried egg on almost anything so we can call it breakfast. But we do have some go to egg dishes that are always extraordinary and this is one of them. Here is our fathers day breakfast Mom and I made for Dad this morning, enjoyed outside on the back deck before a nice round of golf.

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INGREDIENTS: (for 3)
-3 slices whole wheat toast
-3 cups fresh spinach
-3 eggs
-1 cup leftover tomato sauce
-Parmesan cheese
-Salt & pepper

INSTRUCTIONS:
-Bring water to a low boil in a shallow sauté pan. Using a spoon mix the water in a circular direction. Add eggs one at a time. (If you add a dash of vinegar it will also help prevent the eggs from sticking)
-Heat up tomato sauce in microwave.
-When eggs are cooked to your liking take out of the water with a slotted spoon and set aside. We usually cook them easy so they’ll need a few minutes. If you pick them up in your spoon and give it a light shake you’ll be able to see if they are done enough for you.
-Add spinach to the same water and let cook 1-2 minutes. Strain the spinach and then place on top of toast.
-Place egg on top of the spinach. Then add a few spoonfuls of tomato sauce.
-Sprinkle with parmesan, salt and pepper.
-Cut the egg open with your fork and dig in.

The photos do all the talking.

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Texas Caviar

This is a recipe I cannot take credit for.  My friend Alexandra made it for me on my birthday two years ago and we fell in love with it.  Because it’s so healthy and versatile I started making it for family parties.  Turns out they love it too.  It is somewhat of a bizarre recipe. In fact, every time I make it, I turn my nose a little bit at the ingredients.  It doesn’t make sense, it’s not particularly appetizing and I always doubt it coming together.   But then, I dip my chip to taste it and all that goes away.  I hope I didn’t lose you… you just have to try it to love it.

NOTE: Tostitos scoop chips are the perfect accompaniment to this salsa.

Other ingredients you can add or substitute that I didn’t put this time around: chopped tomatoes, avocado, fresh cilantro (or parsley), jalapenos.  There are so many versions of Texas caviar out there so whatever you choose, I’m sure it will be great.  I also don’t let mine sit for 24 hours and it doesn’t suffer on taste or flavor.  Also, most recipes call for about 1 cup of sugar which I feel is completely unnecessary.

This salsa would be great in lettuce wraps, on fish tacos, as a side dish or as I always make it, a perfect party appetizer.

INGREDIENTS:

Sauce:

  • Cider vinegar (little less than a cup)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Sprinkle of sugar in the raw (this is my replacement for the cup of sugar)
Salsa:
  • 4 or so stalks of celery, finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/2 white onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small jar of pimento peppers
  • 1-2 cans shoepeg corn
  • 1 can chopped green chiles
  • 1 can black eyed peas
  • 1-2 can black beans
  • 1 can garbanzo beans
INSTRUCTIONS:
In a small sauce pan heat the oil and vinegar with a sprinkle of sugar.  Bring it to a low boil and whisk well.  Add salt and pepper and set aside to cool.
In a large bowl add all your canned and diced ingredients for the salsa.  Pour the sauce on top and refrigerate for 1-2 hours before serving.