• Thai Quinoa Salad

Paleo Eggplant Lasagna at Christine’s

paleochrisnmePaleo Eggplant Lasagna at Christine’s

The crusty almond flour coating on the eggplant helps to soak up the meaty bolognese goodness getting ooey, gooey and decadent. Like making you feel warm all over on a winter’s day. That’s how my friend, Christine, describe’s her Paleo Eggpalnt Lasagna that we made at her house last week! She hit it right on the money.

It was Christine’s cross-fit community that introcuced her to this fresh Paleo way of living. Even though It did take a year before fully committing she has been following it for a couple of years and really loves it. Paleo refers to foods eaten during the Paleolithic times so basically if the cave man didn’t eat it, neither can you. There are different levels of Paleo, but true Paleo doesn’t allow any dairy or legumes. Not sure if being a true Paleo is exactly for me since I live for cheese and cetainly wouldn’t give up beans. Although, there are certain aspects of Paleo I think are wonderful like the fresh way of eating, nothing manufactured or processed! Like Christine say’s, everything in moderation.

This Paleo Eggplant Lasagna is definitly a guilt free dish that shouldn’t taste this darn good! You don’t even miss the cheese here because every bite is luscious! I highly recommend that you to get on the ball and check out this fresh Paleo way of eating. You won’t regret it one bit and may find yourself with a big ole smile on your face!

While you are on a freshness roll you may want to try my Guacamole, Pulled Beef and Mango Salsa, Salmon B.L.T Sliders, Seared Sea Scallops or Sweet Potato Fries with Green Goddess Sauce!

IMG_7737

IMG_3234

IMG_7288

IMG_0668

IMG_6962

 

paeomeat

img_8286

paleosauce

 

 

paleoeggslice

paleoeggs

paleoalmond

 

 

 

 

img_8315

paleopan

paleospoon

 

 

 

 

img_8334

paleospat

paleoslice

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 large eggplants
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 recipe tomato-basil sauce (30 minute sauce) adding in an extra 28 oz can of puréed whole peeled tomatoes to the recipe OR Slow Cooked Old Style Italian-Tomato Sauce 101
  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 1 lb. gound veal
  • 1 lb. ground lamb
  • 1 pkg. almond flour
  • s & p
  • coconut oil spray
  • grapeseed oil for sautéing the meats

Directions – Pre-heat Oven to 350º

  1. Make tomato- basil sauce and leave simmering on low, ready for the meats to be sautéed and added
  2. Sauté the pork, veal and lamb separately and drain the oil from each of the meats after each sautéing, this will take about 5 minutes each
  3. As each meat is finished draining stir it into your tomato sauce
  4. Peel and slice 2 lg eggplants approx. 1/8″-1/4″ thick
  5. Whisk 5 eggs in a medium bowl
  6. Add 3-4 cups almond flour in another bowl for dredging the eggplant
  7. Cover cookie tray with foil and spray with coconut oil
  8. Dip each eggplant slice into the egg, then dredge into the almond flour flipping a couple of times to get a good coating on there
  9. Then begin to lay the coated eggplant slices on the cookie trays
  10. No need to spray the tops of the slices
  11. Pop them into the oven for 20 minutes, just until tender
  12. Note: the tops of the eggplant slices will not turn golden when baked
  13. Begin to layer the pre-baked eggplant slices in a 13″ x 9″, 12″ x 8″ approx. baking dish
  14. Spray bottom of baking dish with coconut oil
  15. Begin with a sauce layer, then eggplant slices, meat sauce, eggplant, meat sauce and so on until you reach the rim of the baking dish ending with a meat sauce layer completeing the Paleo Eggplant Lasagna
  16. Change foil layers on cookie tray to clean foil
  17. Place the Paleo Eggplant Lasagna onto the foiled tray and bake for approx. 35 minutes still on 350º until bubbly all over
  18. As with a traditional lasagna you want to let it sit for 10-15 minutes before slicing after you take it out of the oven…Mangia, mangia!!

Fresh Garden Tomato Sauce

Fresh Garden Tomato Sauce

When the aroma from your fresh garden tomato sauce smells exactly like a tomato plucked right out of your garden on a sultry summer day you know you have the right recipe! With all the beautiful weather we have had this summer everyone has an abundance of produce coming out of their garden’s. What a better way to dive right in and try your hand at making your very own tomato sauce. And when you taste how delicious the puréed tomatoes are as a raw sauce you may just stop right there. After that first taste of the raw tomato sauce there might not be any left over to go to the next simmering step!

I was very excited when some friend’s of mine, Becky and Mike, offered up a large bag of their fresh garden plum tomatoes. I knew I wanted to make fresh garden tomato sauce with them right off the bat. This is a bit nastalgic for me because it reminds me of when my mother used to make fresh garden tomato sauce for us when I was young.

It’s really an easy process of peeling, seeding and then puréeing the tomatoes with some sautéed onions and garlic. The more tomatoes you have the longer it well take but it’s so worth it. The fact that you can freeze the sauce for a later date makes it all worth while! What I love about making this fresh garden tomato sauce, other then the fact that it smells utterly amazing, is it’s just as delicious eating it raw as cooked. In fact, when I make this I can’t decide which I like better so I continue on to make both cause it’s so darn simple to do that once you are in the process.

Once you see how easy to make your own sauce it may become a new family staple for you. You just might get inspired to make it a family affair having everyone join in to make homemade gnocchi or zucchini pasta too. Don’t forget the gourmet Caesar salad and then of course there’s an amazing ricotta pie or go for the death by chocolate meringue pie!

IMG_7868

zucspaghetti

DSCN4572-300x225

IMG_7641

IMG_8098

 

img_8165fresh-core

freshboil

 

 

 

freshice

freshskin

freshseeds

 

 

 

 

img_8215

freshpuree

img_8249

 

 

 

 

 

img_8258

img_8240

img_8241

 

 

 

 

Ingredients:

  • 91 fresh garden tomatoes OR as many as you have
  • 1 tbsp sea salt, LESS if you have a smaller amount of plum tomatoes
  • 1/4 tsp finely ground pepper
  • 5 lg fresh basil leaves
  • 1 lg dried bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/3 cup red wine – for the simmered sauce
  • 1 tsp finely ground Italian seasoning
  • 1 small Vadalia onion finely chopped
  • 4 extra lg OR 6 medium size garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup white wine to de-glaze the sautéed onions and garlic

Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil adding in 1 tbsp of salt
  2. Core the stem side of all your tomatoes
  3. Get a large bowl of ice water ready to put the tomatoes in after you blanch them
  4. Add plum tomatoes to boiling water, 25-30 at a time and blanch for 30-45 seconds, it’s totally fine if it goes past 45 seconds cause it’s going to take you a minute or two to scoop the tomatoes out
  5. Remove the tomatoes from the boiling water and submerse into the ice water
  6. Repeat until you have gone thru all your tomatoes
  7. Begin to remove the loosened skins from the tomatoes then placing into another bowl as you go
  8. Cut or tear tomatoes in half with your hands and remove most of the seeds putting pulp in one bowl and tomato flesh in another
  9. Spoon off any excess water that rises to the top of the bowl with all the tomato flesh
  10. Sauté chopped onion and garlic cloves til tranlucent
  11. De-glaze onions and garlic with 1/4 cup white wine
  12. Let the alcohol burn off and reduce slightly
  13. Begin to purée tomatoes and sauteed onions in the food processor in batches
  14. Add the puréed tomatoes/onions back into the large pan that you blanched the tomatoes in as you go along
  15. When done puréeing add salt and pepper to taste and voilà there is your raw sauce
  16. FOR RAW SAUCE: top pasta with raw sauce and sprinkle some fresh julienned basil, Parmesan and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
  17. FOR COOKED SAUCE: Put the pot of puréed tomatoes/onion back on the stove and add in the 5 extra lg fresh basil leaves, bay leaf, sugar, Italian spices, red wine and simmer for 1-2 hours…mangia mangia!!

Death by Chocolate Meringue Pie!


Death by Chocolate Meringue Pie

“Death by Chocolate Meringue Pie” is the perfect title for this recent cooking show taped at my foodie friend’s, David and Eileen’s house. When you taste this most chocolatey mousse-like filling topped with fluffy peaks of meringue you will think you have died and gone to heaven! This wonderful chocolate meringue pie recipe came from David’s mother, Alice, and has always been a family favorite for the holidays! With four boys in his family growing up, David said his mother was always welcome to the idea of having more cooks in the kitchen. You could only imagine that with four boys you’re going to need more then just one pie. David and his brothers happily learned at an early age how to pitch in and get this task done.

David uses the “chocolate fudge” flavor of Jello brand, the cook and serve, not the instant. Come to find out, this “chocolate fudge” flavor can be a difficult category to find. But using Jello brand’s “chocolate” flavor is the next best thing, so don’t fret. Make sure to keep an eye out for the “chocolate fudge” flavor next time you are at the store and shoot me an email if you strike “fudge”!

What takes this Jello cook and serve chocolate fudge pudding to a completely different universe, into a rich, chocolate mousse-like texture is the addtion of egg yolks, sugar, butter and pure vanilla extract. You will find yourself eating each bite of chocolate meringue pie very slowly just to savour every luscious bite. Part of this decadence comes from the rich, flaky crust made with a special lard David gets from Firefly Farmers in Stonington, CT. You can purchase their products at the Stonington, Waterford and Bozrah Farmers Markets. It definitely makes a difference in your pie crust to use both butter and lard like in my Perfect Pie Crust in 5 Minutes but using this lard that David use’s really puts the crust over the top!

Last but not least is the meringue that tops this incredible chocolatey filling and brings the whole pie together. Whipping the egg whites to soft peaks is important to achieve the elegant curly cues you can create when dipping a spatula gently into the surface of the meringue. Then off to the oven briefly until those beautiful peaks turn golden.

This wonderful chocolate meringue pie recipe could have easily remained a family secret but David and his mother were gracious enough to share it with us. The only option I see here is for you to get busy and make this luscious dessert for your next holiday! Don’t forget to share the YouTube link to the show 🙂 ENJOY xxoo

You should check out David and Eileen’s Lobster Mac & Cheese show if you are looking for an amazing entré, Pulled Beef Taco’s or Salmon B.L.T. Sliders at Marco’s would make for very tasty dishes also. Try my Guacamole or Homemade Salsa 101 to start everything off!

lobmac

IMG_3234

Salmonslider

guaca

IMG_7479

 

 

 

chcocrusingred

IMG_8026chocdisc

 

 

 

chocorollcurust

chococrust

chocopiecrust

 

 

 

 

chocofork

IMG_8071

chcomerg

 

 

 

 

Ingredients for David’s Pie Crust – 1 Crust for lg Deep Dish Pie Plate (measurements below are 3/4 of full recipe):

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup lard frozen, grated
  • 1/4 cup butter refigerated, grated
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • approx. 2-3 tbsp ice cold water

FULL PIE CRUST RECIPE – 2 Crusts:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup lard or crisco
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3-4 tbsp ice cold water

Directions for Pie Crust – Pre-Heat Oven to 400º :

  1. Measure lard or crisco and put into freezer
  2. Grate lard or crisco and butter and place in separate bowls back in the frig til you are ready
  3. Add flour, salt, lard or crisco, and butter to food processor or mixer and begin to mix with paddle attachment slowly
  4. Then slowly add in 1 tbsp at a time while mixing, you may need to add another tbsp of water to have dough come together
  5. When dough comes together in 1-2 minutes turn dough onto wax paper forming into a disc shape and place into the freezer for 15 minutes
  6. Begin to roll out dough between wax paper until its large enough to fit pie plate
  7. Gently peel over top layer of wax paper flipping over into pie dish
  8. Gently push edges in all around and remove the other piece of wax paper
  9. Scallop the edges of pie crust
  10. Prick inside walls and bottom of crust with a fork
  11. Place into a 400º oven and bake 10 minutes until slightly golden around the edges
  12. Let pie crust cool and begin to make the chocolate filling

IMG_8075

chocopud

IMG_8084

 

 

 

chcomerg

chocopeaks

IMG_8098

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients for Chocolate Filling:

  • 2 boxes COOK and SERVE Jello brand “chocoate fudge” or “chocolate” pudding – NOT INSTANT
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 3 1/2 cups WHOLE milk
  • 1/2 heaping cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp pure extract vanilla
  • 1 pre-baked pie crust cooled

Directions for Chocolate Filling:

  1. Separate 4 egg yolks from whites and place into separate bowls (yolks for filling and whites for meringue)
  2. Add 2 boxes of chocolate fudge pudding mix to medium size sauce pan
  3. Add in chocolate chips, 4 egg yolks, sugar, 3 1/2 cups of milk over medium heat
  4. Continue to whisk while bringing ingredients to a boil, it will thicken quickly
  5. When it thickens take off of heat
  6. Whisk in 3 tbsp of butter and 1 tsp vanilla
  7. Pour into the cooled pre-baked pie crust and cool completely

Ingredients for Meringue:

  • 4 egg whites
  • 8 tbsp sugar – 2 tbsp per egg white
  • 1/8 tsp cream of tartar

Directions for Meringue – Pre-Heat Oven to 375º :

  1. Whisk egg whites until soft peak begin to form then start to add sugar 1 tbsp at a time
  2. Keep whisking unitl you get soft – stiff peaks – in between peaks – NOT STIFF
  3. Pour onto cooled chocolate pie filling
  4. Begin to smooth meringue over to touch edges of the pie crust making sure meringue seals all along the edge of the pie crust
  5. Once the meringue completely covers the chocolate filling begin to dip spatula in and out of meringue creating curly cue peaks
  6. Place chocolate meringue pie into 375º oven until peaks are golden
  7. Take out and let meringue cool, slice and mangia mangia!

Eggplant Balls at Adele’s

Eggplant Balls at Adele’s

These luscious eggplant balls look just like meatball’s but are a “no meat” kind of meatball made with eggplant, fresh garlic, parsley, eggs, Reggiano Parmesan and bread crumbs. They are formed into balls and broiled with a drizzle of olive oil until golden! They are vevelty on the inside with a little golden caramelization on the outside. They are so delicous all on their own and when you simmer them in a tomato-basil sauce they get even better, if that is at all possible! 

A few weeks ago, I got a message from a friend of mine that I needed to meet this family of amazing Italian cooks who were so much fun to be around and how it would make for a great show! Boy, was she right! Adele and her daughter Sonia are just lovely people. Adele is not only passionate about her recipe’s and cooking but about life in general. Sharing her memories from Italy made me feel like I was there with her. Adele’s vivaciousness is an inspiration to how life ought to be lived.

Now, I thought I was the eggplant queen, loving everything about eggplant and all that there is to create with eggplant, from eggplant parmesan, rollatini, to stuffed eggplants (haven’t had a chance to put the stuffed eggplant show together yet…but it’s on the list!) until I met Adele and had a bite of her unbelieveable eggplant balls! Wow, what can I say. The day she invited me over to taste these incredible morsels I knew I had to let the secret out and share this recipe with all of you so you too could experience this creation!

It looks like you now have an amazing reicpe to take care of all those eggplants you have in your garden. If you don’t have a garden, don’t fret there’s an abundance of eggplants at your local market, year round really. Can’t wait for you to make these eggplant balls of Adele’s and add this recipe to your “go to” Italian dishes to impress dinner guests! You might want to add a couple of apps to this like my baked asparagus wrapped in proscuitto, or crab cakes and don’t forget to throw in some incredible desserts like baklava, chocolate pecan pie or drunk blondies with a caramel bourbon sauce!…YUM!

iphone-pictures-572-300x225

DSCN45211-300x225

IMG_7568

wholepiepecan

IMG_6622

 

 

eggplantingred

IMG_7895IMG_7904

 

 

 

IMG_7918

eggcan

IMG_7922

 

 

 

 

eggbread

eggmix

IMG_7932

 

 

 

 

IMG_7953

IMG_7968

IMG_7972

 

 

 

 

Ingredients:

  • 12 cups cubed up eggplant – 6 small eggplants
  • 3 eggs
  • 4 cups – 1 full loaf of 1-2 day old Italian bread, wheat bread if you can get it, coarsely ground up in the food processor (Adele’s says you can even use a “Thanksgiving” bag of bread crumbs!)
  • 1 1/2 cup grated Reggiano Parmesan
  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Directions:

  1. Simmer tomato-basil sauce ready to add in eggplant balls
  2. Cut the ends off 6 small eggplants and peel them with a potato peeler
  3. Cut the eggplants into 1/2″ stips lengthwise and then crosswise 1/2″ inch – cutting into cubed size piecces – it will measure approx 12 cups
  4. Bring a large pot of water to a boil with 1 tbsp salt – filling the water only 1/2 way up the pot
  5. Add in the 12 cups of cubed up eggplant to the boiling water all awhile pushing pieces down, they will try to float up and cover
  6. Turn heat down to a simmer and cook 5 minutes
  7. Remove cover and stir eggplant pieces with a spoon to help evenly distribute the cooking
  8. Cover and cook another 5 minutes, total 10 minutes
  9. Drain into a colander, then make a well in the center of the eggplant pieces
  10. Cover eggplant well with a small plate and a large full can on top of that – to weight down eggplant helping drainage
  11. DO NOT RINSE with cold water
  12. Leaving draining for 1 1/2 – 2 hours
  13. During this time, at 30 minute intervals, stir the eggplant pieces then replace the plate and the can and continue to drain and cool – approx 4x
  14. When the eggplant is drained add it to a large mixing bowl
  15. Add in the rest of the ingredients in the list
  16. Mix by hand until combined and then shape into 2″ balls
  17. Cover cookie tray with foil and spray with Pam
  18. Place the eggplant balls on the tray
  19. Drizzle olive oil over the tops of all the eggplant balls and broil for 13 minutes
  20. Take eggplant balls out and carefully turn over without ripping the bottom of the ball
  21. Place back under broiler for another 13 minutes until golden
  22. Turn oven off and leave tray in the oven for another 5 minutes
  23. Take out and add to tomato-basil sauce and simmer 20-30 minutes
  24. OR freeze any eggplant balls you don’t need without the sauce for another time in ZIpLoc baggies
  25. Serve eggplant balls in the tomato-basil sauce with your favorite pasta!  Mangia…Mangia! 🙂

Adele’s Sangria:

  • 1 bottle favorite Pinot Noir
  • 3-4 peaches sliced

Add sliced peaches to a pitcher with as much red wine as you like, even better when you can let ferment over night in the frig!

Gnocchi at Louie’s

Gnocchi at Louie’s

IMG_7868The anticipation of these light and fluffy, melt in your mouth gnocchi is what keeps you focused while you are working away forming these little potato pillows. The recipe for these delicious gnocchi we made at my friend’s Louie and Rachel’s house last weekend is probably the easiest one out there. Having our other friend’s Marco and Sheryl (from the show’s “Salmon B.L.T. Slider’s at Marco’s” and “Lobster Mac & Cheese at David’s“) working together with us forming and shaping the gnocchi made it a breeze. in fact, it felt as though we were only working on the gnocchi for mere minutes before popping them into the salted water. Louie served his gnocchi with a gravy or sauce made from tomatoes, red wine, herbs, garlic, homemade meatballs and sausages where the aroma’s alone made you salivate when first arriving at their front door!

If you have never made homemade gnocchi before you must try this simple recipe. Louie has been making his family’s gnocchi for over 20 years so this is a solid recipe thru and thru. You begin making the gnocchi with only 2 large potatoes and believe it or not this is enough potato to make about 200 gnocchi pillows.The other ingredients in the recipe are ricotta, egg, flour and Parmesan which balance out the dough nicely keeping it super light.

So remember to have a few friends over when making these delightful gnocchi to help with the task and before you know it you too will have a plate of homemade gnocchi right in front of you! A wonderful sauce to have with these gnocchi is my bolognese made with veal, pork, bacon, red wine, heavy cream and rosemary..YUM! Or you could go with a traditional red sauce with beef or turkey meatballs. Don’t forget some appetizers to go with these melt in your mouth gnocchi at Louie’s like my famous Caesar Salad or Crab Cakes! Mangia…Mangia! 🙂

025

018

009

DSCN4572

DSCN4521

IMG_7806

gnocciingred

IMG_7818

 

 

 

 

gnocchiroll

gnocccutg

IMG_7828

 

 

IMG_7839

IMG_7856IMG_7868

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 ex-tra lg russet potatoes – 1.5 lbs. total
  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta
  • 1 lg egg
  • 1/3 cup grated Reggiano Parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Directions:

  1. Bring medium pan to a boil, adding 1 tsp salt
  2. Add in the 2 whole russet potatoes – NOT PEELED
  3. Boil the potatoes til tender, can pierce with a fork – APPROX 40 MINUTES
  4. Remove potatoes with tongs to a cutting board and begin to peel off the skin with a fork gently scraping the outer layer
  5. Cut the hot potato into half and load the potato ricer – MUST RICE THE POTATOES WHILE HOT for light and fluffy gnocchi!
  6. Push the potato thru the ricer onto a cutting board and spread out the potato now to cool
  7. Add 1 egg to a large mixing bowl and whisk
  8. Add in the riced potato and mix with a fork just to combine
  9. Add in the ricotta, Parmesan, salt and pepper and mix with the fork to combine
  10. Add in 1 1/4 of the flour and mix with a fork at first and as it comes together begin to mix with you hands, if it’s too sticky add a pinch more flour
  11. Turn dough out onto work surface with a small amount of flour
  12. Begin to cut off a little at a time from the lg ball of gnocchi dough and roll out each piece into a long 1/2″ x 18″ (approx) rope
  13. Cut rope into 1/2″ pieces and then roll each piece off a fork to form indents
  14. These indents help to hold the sauce
  15. Lay a dish towel over a cookie tray and sprinkle a little flour on top
  16. As you form these little potato pillows lat them onto the dish towel
  17. Bring a large pan of salted water to boil
  18. Swirl the boiling water with a lg spoon to create a circular whirlpool …help to keep gnocchi from sinking to the bottom completely
  19. Begin to add gnocchi to the boiling, swirling water
  20. They will sink a little at first and then when they start to float when they are cooked – 3 MINUTES
  21. Immediately begin to remove floating, swirling gnocchi with a slotted spoon to a large serving bowl with your gravy or sauce
  22. Continue to do this until you go through all the potato dough
  23. Cook what you want at this point
  24. TO FLASH FREEZE:  Line up the extra gnocchi onto cutting boards that fit into your freezer and begin to flash freeze them until solid, sprinkle a little flour directly onto each board – Do not use a dish towel at this point
  25. Then pop the frozen gnocchi off of the cutting boards and place frozen gnocchi into lg Ziploc baggies and back into freeze until future use

TIP:  When using flash frozen gnocchi in the future go directly from the freezer to the boiling water, give a couple of stirs so as not to clump at the bottom. NEVER thaw first or leave on counter too longer especially marble or granite because they will thaw quickly.

 

 

 

 

 

Best Guacamole Ever!

Best Guacamole Ever!

This best guacamole ever recipe will definitely change the way you look at that mixture they call guacamole at the market. I find most of the brands out there both watery and mysterious. Why chance quality. The simple fact is, when my best guacamole recipe is so simple to make why settle for second rate! Even the amounts of finely chopped sweet onion, tomato, jalapeño and cilantro in this recipe are minimal so there’s not a whole lot of prep going on either. These amounts are just enough to add hints of lovely flavors and not take away from the sweet creamy California avocado’s.

Avocado’s are on sale just about every other week at the market so take advantage of this and load up. You can never buy too many and they don’t all have to be perfectly ripened right at that moment. They will ripen on your counter in a matter of days.

If I am not serving this best guacamole ever right away I put one of the avocado pits back into the middle of the guacamole, cover it with saran wrap and put it into the refrigerator until I’m ready. The saran wrap should go directly onto the surface of the guacamole so as not to let the dip oxidize and turn brown. If part of it does oxidize just skim that part off with a spoon and there will be a fresh green surface underneath. And, when making guacamole it’s best when it’s eaten the same day, or definitely by the next.

If you are a big fan of avocado’s you really need to try chocolate avocado mousse! My pulled beef taco’s would be incredible with the best guacamole ever. Serve up a variety of appetizer’s for your get together and add in Sweet potato fries  and salmon gravlax, both incredibly delicious and fun eats! A chocolate pecan pie just might put the party right over the top! Enjoy! 🙂

SAM_0154

IMG_3234

IMG_0668

IMG_0964

wholepiepecan

 

iphone pictures 718

iphone pictures 732

iphone pictures 722

iphone pictures 724

iphone pictures 738

iphone pictures 740

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_7686

guaconion

guactom

 

 

 

guacjale

guaccilan

guacoil

 

 

 

 

guaccut

guacfork

guacsiracha

 

 

 

 

guaclemon

IMG_7744

IMG_7767

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients:

  • 3 small/med size ripened California avocado’s
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped Sweet or Vidalia onion (Georgia onion)
  • 1/4 finely chopped sweet tomatoes any color (cherry tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes…your fav)
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro (fill 1/4 cup first with whole leaves then chop that)
  • 1/2 of a lg jalapeno, finely chopped with seeds removed, approx. 2 tbsp
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar “seasoned” – (rice wine vinegar and olive oil are my secret ingredients that give the guac that little someting extra!)
  • 1 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 Tsp salt
  • 1/4 Tsp Pepper
  • 2 dashes of your favorite hot sauce …I use Siracha (which is sold right next to the Tabasco)

Directions:

  1. Slice and remove avocado flesh from the skins as shown in the photo above and place in a large bowl, save one of the avocado pits to add to dip at the end
  2. Slice off any black or dark spots on the avocado’s and discard
  3. Finely chop sweet onion, tomatoes, jalapeno and cilantro and add to bowl with avacado’s
  4. Add in s&p and olive oil and rice wine vinegar
  5. Begin to slice halved avocado’s with a knife to help break them up
  6. Then begin to mash with a fork and stir around all of the ingredients
  7. Lastly add Siracha (hot sauce) and 1 tsp of lemon juice
  8. Mix gently to combine and add pit to the middle of the guacamole
  9. The pit helps to preserve guacamole until it get’s all eaten up 🙂
  10. Serve with chips, turkey or beef burgers, salsa …be creative!

Ricotta Pie at Kathy’s

Ricotta Pie at Kathy’s

Kathy’s Ricotta pie gives you a filling with the creaminess of a cheese cake and the flavors of an Italian cannoli without all the work. My favorite part of this recipe is the cookie crust crunch that brings it all together! You just can’t go wrong here making this incredible dessert that’s also ideal for breakfast.

Ricotta pie is really a traditional Italian dessert served at Easter. There are so many different versions of ricotta pie out there. Both the filling and the crust vary from cook to cook and family to family who treasure this little treat. That’s what makes each recipe so special because it becomes very personalized. Whether it’s adding orange zest, lemon zest, cranberries or even Marsala wine to the crust to make it more in sink with the makings of a cannoli shell the avenues of creativity are endless.

Enjoy the show and I have a feeling this could very well be on your next dinner table! Not to mention, this would be a great little dessert to bring to any party. You might get a little ambitious and want to try some Cold Cucumber Soup with Seared Scallops, Lobster Mac & Cheese,  Salmon B.L.T. Sliders or Shrimp Scampi to go along with this delicious ricotta pie!

IMG_7242

IMG_7290

lobmac

IMG_2625

IMG_6822

 

 

 

IMG_7599

ricotcookie

ricottaflour

 

 

ricottadough

ricottdough

IMG_7611

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients for Crust:

  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 4 T vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Directions for Crust:

  1. Combine dry ingredients in the bowl of a mixer
  2. Combine liquid ingredients together and add to dry ingredients
  3. Mix on low setting until just combined
  4. Turn out onto a generously floured surface
  5. Shape into a ball
  6. Reserve 1/4 cup of the dough and set aside for cutting out small shapes to decorate the top of the pie on the ricotta filling…stars, leaves, hearts
  7. Roll into a circle to fit a standard pie plate, dough will be very soft
  8. You want the dough to be about 1/4″ thick
  9. Use rolling pin to transfer crust to pie plate

IMG_7613

ricottafill

ricottapour

 

 

 

ricottleaf

ricottcutouts

ricotleaf

 

 

 

 

ricottoven

IMG_7641

 

 

 

 

Ingredients for Filling:

  • 1 lb ricotta cheese – Whole Milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions for Filling – Pre-Heat Oven to 350º:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, stir or whisk together ricotta, egg, sugar, and vanilla
  2. Fold in raisins and chocolate chips
  3. Pour into crust
  4. Roll out the reserved pie dough, use cookie cutters to cut out shapes to decorate the top of the filling
  5. Bake for 45-55 minutes just til crust is golden
  6. Remember as with baking a cheese cake the center should not be set …it should look jiggly in the center not set!
  7. Don’t worry, It will set up a considerable amount more as it cool
  8. Can serve warm, room temperature, or chilled
  9. Cool for 1 hour on the counter, wrap and cool or store in refrigerator
  10. Options – can use all chocolate chips or all raisins, or sweetened dried cranberries with orange or lemon zest

 

Greek Baklava at Maria’s

Greek Baklava at Maria’s

You’ll know why this Greek Baklava is considered “The Dessert of the Gods” when you bite into the rich flavor of the walnuts, the sticky, syrupy bottom and the buttery-flaky top layers. Not to mention, hearing that sizzling as you pour the cooled honey syrup over the hot baked phyllo dough with layers of ground walnuts, cinnamon and cloves will make you mouth water!

It’s truly amazing how the top layers of the Greek baklava soak up that honey-syrup yet remain flaky and stay drier then those sticky and syrupy bottom layers of the Greek baklava -the perfect combination. The trick here to not having a gooey, soggy baklava is to make sure the baked baklava is hot and the honey-syrup is cooled. It’s important that they’re not both hot.

Looking at the gorgeous golden layers of phyllo and walnuts in the Greek Baklava you’ll automatically think that this may be too difficult to make. On the contrary, the Gods are very forgiving here because this really is a fail safe dish! Phyllo dough can be temperamental whether it’s your first time working with it or your hundredth . That fact is, it won’t matter whether you are layering with a piece that has a rip in it or not because the buttery layers completely flake up and turn golden when the are baked and you just can’t tell.

It was such a fun afternoon at my dear friend Maria’s house learning how to make her amazing Greek Baklava. I’m grateful she shared a family recipe that holds much tradition for the holidays. I hope you can add this incredible dish to your parties and or holiday’s too. Who knows, maybe some day I will get Maria to share with us her Moussaka recipe!

If you are craving the exotic Mediterranean flavors you should definitely try the yogurt chicken kabobs with roasted grape tomatoes, tzatziki and garlic toum that may be the most flavor chicken you will ever have to go with this lovely Greek Baklava. What a perfect dinner that would be! Or you could mix it up a little going down the road to Italy with my lazy-mans lasagna, homemade pasta, or spaghetti and a secret meatballs recipe from New Haven Apizza and Bakery! Enjoy 🙂

IMG_1897IMG_1851

IMG_5742

IMG_4327

IMG_7388

 

 

IMG_7518

IMG_7522

IMG_7543

 

 

 

IMG_7537baklanuts

bakcut

 

 

 

 

baklav

baksyrup

baklavspat

 

 

 

 

IMG_7568

IMG_7582

 

 

 

 

Baklava Ingredients:

  • 1 lb walnuts – pulsed finely in the food processor
  • 1 package phyllo dough thawed over night in the frig
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 dash of ground clove
  • 1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter (melted but not HOT)

 Syrup

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1/2 of a lemon
  • A lemon peel, a 1″ x 2″ piece

Directions for Syrup:

  1. NOTE: Make the syrup first and let it cool down while you are working on the baklava
  2. Add all the syrup ingredients to a saucepan over medium-high and heat bring to a simmer
  3. Simmer for about 10 minutes until a froth is formed
  4. Pour into a glass Pyrex (heat proof) measuring cup or similar to let COOL and set aside

Directions for Baklava:

  1. Preheat oven to 350º
  2. Pulse the walnuts in your food processor until they are finely chopped and put them into a bowl
  3. Add the cinnamon and clove to the walnuts and mix with a spoon to combine
  4. Use a brush to apply butter to the bottom and sides of a 13 x 9 pan
  5. Place a layer of the phyllo dough then brush the top of the phyllo dough with butter
  6. Repeat 8 times
  7. Spread about 3/4 of a cup of the walnut mixture at a time
  8. Add 2 more layers of phyllo dough and brush butter in between each layer
  9. Add another layer of walnuts and repeat process 3 more times or until nuts are gone
  10. Add 8-9 layers of buttered phyllo dough for the topping
  11. Make sure to butter the final top layer
  12. Cut the baklava into 3″ x 3″ squares with a very sharp knife, then slice those squares on a diagonal
  13. Bake for approx. 50 minutes until golden
  14. When the baklava comes out of the oven pour the COOLED syrup over the HOT baklava immediately and hear that wonderful sizzle
  15. Allow the baklava time to absorb the honey-syrup, about 2-3 hours or overnight
  16. Do not refrigerate or cover, can leave out on the counter for a week, although it won’t last that long lol …enjoy 🙂

Salsa 101


Salsa 101

When you learn to make my basic salsa 101 there will be no stopping you! It’s packed with flavor from the juicy summer tomatoes, sweet Georgia Vidalia onions, add in some fresh squeezed limes, chopped cilantro and jalapeño and you have yourself a fiesta!

When you know how to make a basic salsa the world your oyster! No food pun intended here, but seriously! From this salsa 101 recipe you can totally make it yours by adding in 1/2 cup of avocado, mango, pineapple or even cucumbers. Don’t be afraid to try adding your favorite’s to the basic recipe because that is how you learn to create, to taste different flavors. You can even try adding 1 cup of black beans to the salsa! YUM! Have fun and enjoy:)

Adding in the extra virgin olive oil and “seasoned” rice wine vinegar with the fresh squeezed limes keeps my salsa delicately balanced where one flavor isn’t over powering another. I love using the Georgia Vidalia onions because they are so sweet! If you are not a big onion fan these will surprise you for sure. You could also cut back on the amount of chopped onions even though I believe it’s a perfect amount in my salsa 101 when “finely” chopped. The beautiful thing about the salsa 101 recipe is you can use what ever tomatoes you want from heirlooms, to grape, to cherry, tiger tomatoes …what ever your little heart fancies!

You should try  Pulled Beef Taco’s to go with my salsa 101, or Zucchini Spaghetti, Roasted Garlic Bean Dip, or even Homemade BBQ Sauce on chicken wings and then end it with Drunk Blondies & a Bourbon Caramel Sauce and you will be The Belle of the Ball at your party!

IMG_3234

zucspaghetti

dipshrimp

IMG_7091

IMG_6622

 

 

 

IMG_7440

salsaonion

salsatom

 

 

 

salsajala

salsacilan

IMG_7458

 

 

 

 

IMG_7475

IMG_7479

 

 

 

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 heaping cups – (12 Compari tomatoes-these are a med/small size, can use Heirloom tomatoes, cherry, grape …your favorite tomato!  finely chopped
  • 1 packed cup – 1/2 of extra large Vidalia onion finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp – 1/2 lg jalapeño extra finely chopped
  • 1 cup cilantro coarsely chopped
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp “seasoned” rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice – 1 lime
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • OPTIONAL: dash of Siracha Hot Sauce or Franks or Tabasco

Directions:

  1. Finely chop tomatoes, Vidalia onion, jalapeño and cilantro
  2. Add to a large bowl
  3. Roll lime to get the juices flowing and squeeze over chopped veggie’s
  4. Add s & p, olive oil and seasoned rice wine vinegar
  5. Toss and serve with chips, chicken, fish, beef or pork!
  6. NOTE: Now that you have an incredible tasting basic salsa be creative and add 1/2 cup of chopped avocado, mango, pineapple, black beans, or cucumbers…Mangia Mangia!

Secret Meatball Recipe at Glenn’s New Haven Apizza

Secret Meatball Recipe at Glenn’s New Haven Apizza

One of the most delicious meatballs you’ll ever have and the mammoth size will knock you for a loop! Glenn Proto, at New Haven Apizza & Bakery, right here in our very own Madison, CT, shared his mother, Annette’s, secret meatball recipe with me this week. The ingredients he use’s in his meatballs couldn’t get any fresher because he even grind’s his own meats for these meatballs. Freshly ground brisket, short ribs, 80/20 beef and Longhini sweet sausage are the main ingredients in his meatballs. Oh, but let’s not forget what he calls his “secret” to the meatballs, his addition of finely chopped pepperoni! Glenn says this is what give’s these authentic Italian meatball’s that extra special something!

Once we get past all the freshly ground meat that goes into Glenn’s meatballs the love doesn’t stop there, he then caramelizes red onions, adds in Ricotta fina (a special and costly ricotta from the very best Liuzzi Cheese in North Haven,CT, eggs, grated Romano cheese, Italian cubed up bread soaked in heavy cream, and fresh garlic and herbs! Wow, he doesn’t hold back on quality that’s for sure. What an incredible ingredient list for these most flavorful and succulent morsels. Maybe I shouldn’t use the word “morsels” either because the size of these meatball’s are cray cray! It was a blast rolling the meat mixture into bigger then baseball size meatballs with Glenn and his son Dylan. Isn’t it wonderful how the tradition carries on as Dylan and his siblings grew up making these incredible meatballs just as Glenn did. And now, we can add some of this lovely tradition into our kitchen’s since Glenn was so kind as to share his family’s recipe with all of us. He believe’s traditions and recipe’s are meant to be shared so everyone can enjoy them!

Hope you enjoy this secret meatball recipe show and remember he serve’s up 3 of these colossal meatballs in one “spaghetti and meatball” order from his restaurant! You might want to start with a few appetizer’s like my crab cakes, buffalo chicken dip, Mediterranean layered dip, spanakopita or my hummus!

DSCN45211-300x225

buffdip

IMG_5437

cookedspan

IMG_5097

 

 

 

IMG_7328

IMG_7338

IMG_7342

 

 

 

IMG_7332

IMG_7334

IMG_7344

 

 

 

IMG_7351

IMG_7388

meatbll

 

 

 

 

 

Glenn’s Mammoth Size Meatballs 🙂

  • 2 1/2 lbs. of ground beef (.75 lbs ea. of ground brisket, short ribs and 80/20 ground beef)
  • 1 1/4 lbs. Longhini sweet sausage
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pepperoni
  • 2 cups Italian bread after soaked in heavy cream and squeezed slightly  (1 lb. about 1  loaf of Italian bread, cubed and soaked in heavy cream)
  • 2-3 cups heavy cream – to soak cubed up Italian bread
  • 3 lg eggs
  • 1 cup grated Romano cheese
  • 3/4 cup ricotta (ricotta fina if you can get it)
  • 3/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup fresh chopped basil
  • 1/3 heaping cup finely chopped fresh garlic
  • 1/2 cup caramelized red onions (finely chop 2 med. size red onions and sauté on medium/high with 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp butter for 5 minutes and then twenty minutes on low with adding 1 tbsp sugar and 1/4 tsp salt)
  • 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp finely ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp dried oregano

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400º
  2. Cube up the Italian loaf of bread to 3/4″ pieces
  3. Add cubed up bread to 2 – 3 cups heavy cream – should be enough to have all the pieces get saturated and soak for approx 15 minutes
  4. Add beef and sausage to a large bowl and combine with your hands
  5. Add in the pepperoni and the rest of the ingredients in the list and combine with your hands – Don’t over mixed meat …just until combined
  6. Begin to roll meat mixture into desired size meatballs dipping your hands in the left over the heavy cream to help smooth the edges of the meat while shaping them
  7. Place the meatballs onto a cookie tray..they can be right next to each other
  8. Note: the larger they are the longer you will bake them
  9. Bake for 45-60 until the tops are crispy and brown …mangia, mangia!