Wow! What an impression 9 simmering trays of meatballs made when you walked into Lisa & Vin Esposito’s kitchen this past fall for their 2016 Annual Meatball Competition! There were meatball’s with sauce, meatball’s without sauce, and some topped with hot cherry peppers. All I know is the aroma’s of the meatball’s, tomato sauce, basil, and garlic had you salavating in mere minutes in anticipation of sampling these delectable little morsels.
The Esposito’s actually started this meatball competition about 4 years ago with 22 meatball entries! Realizing that it was difficult to judge with too many to try in order to submit an objective ballot they are now down to 9 meatball entries in the competition.
It took a little patience to get thru the holiday’s to coordinate next week’s show, the winner of “Lisa & Vin’s 2016 Annual Meatball Throw Down” but it was worth it! Everyone loves a great meatball and I’m happy to say I had voted for the winner’s meatball in this competition! I’m excited to get you the recipe!
If you are wary of kale you won’t be after trying my scrumptious mango-kale smoothie! In fact, if you didn’t see that this mango-kale smoothie was green you would never know there was kale in it! It’s made from frozen mango chunks, fresh kale leaves, a pinch of banana and ginger, vanilla-bean Greek yogurt and light apple juice. The silky creaminess comes from using Cabot vanilla-bean Greek yogurt. And the “light” apple juice has the perfect amount of sweetness bringing it all together. The subtle flavors from the scant amounts of banana and ginger will have your guest’s trying to pinpoint exactly what they are. This most delicious concoction will have you licking your lips after the first sip!
My mango-kale smoothie is a real energy booster! I love that it’s super easy and convenient with store bought frozen mango chunks! My kitchen always has mangoes on the counter ripening for these mango-kale smoothie’s or my mango salsabut sometimes the timing isn’t right. That’s why I always have a bag of store bought frozen mango in my freezer. I can always depend on the the quality of the store bought frozen mango being deep orange in color offering a sweet mango flavor. Many times I cut up the ripened fresh mangoes using 1/2 cup fresh and 1 cup frozen in the mango-kale smoothie. Then I add any leftover fresh mango to the frozen mango bag and pop in back into the freezer for next time.
I make many different smoothies some of which you can find in my “Energy Smooties 101” but I think this is one of my fave’s because of the simpicity, delicious flavor and nutritional benefits. I add ginger in my mango-Kale smoothie for an immune system booster offering up anti-inflammatories and antioxidants. Kale is another antioxidant with more nutrients then spinach, if you can believe that one! It has calcium, potassium, vitamin C and B6 all helping to give you awesome looking skin & hair, and healthy bones & heart. Then there’s the mighty mango that’s known to help fight cancer with vitamin’s like A, C, E and B6!
This Mango-Kale Smoothie energy drink should be part of your weekly regimen. It’s a win-win for all us busy bees who just don’t have time for ailments! Enjoy 🙂 Now that I have you on a health craze you have to try my easy fresh salsa 101 that you can make 12 months of the year, or BEST guacamoleever. Don’t forget the Seared Sea Scallops, Salmon BLT Slider’sand how about ending it with someRicotta Pie!
Ingredients for Mango-Kale Smoothie makes 8 small glasses:
1 1/2 cups frozen mango chunks (I love Stop & Shop brand -bag of frozen mango)
You can change up fruit and swap out 1/2 cup mango for pineapple
1 cup PACKED, about 5 lg fresh kale leaves with ribbing removed
3 1/2″ slices frozen banana, (fresh banana’s sliced, placed into baggies and freeze)
1 1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger
1 cup Cabot vanilla-bean Greek yogurt- “Cabot”
1 1/2 cup light or unsweetened apple juice…the perfect amount of sweet
NOTE: Make sure the liquid is 1″ down from top of fruit and kale level
1/2 cup water OR Muscle milk …..If you need more liquid you can just add water OR a protein powder like muscle milk -vanilla is my favorite
1/4 cup crushed ice …helps to purée the kale to a fine, smooth consistency
Place the kale leaves into the blender first, followed by Greek yogurt, ice cube, frozen mango chunks and banana, zested fresh ginger and light apple juice
Purée for 1 minute til frothy and smooth
Pour into glasses and serve
NOTE: you can freeze any left over mango-kale smoothie in plastic container for future frozen “Italian ice” like snacks!
Add some vodka or rum to make delicious party cocktails!
No doubt about it once you try this feta-basil pesto you will be hook! The creamy, French sheep’s milk feta pushes this pesto into a whole new arena! Combined with the fresh, floral basil leaves, Italian Reggiano Parmeggiano, extra-virgin olive oil and garlic are a creation that’s just born to go together! Done in mere minutes in a food processor there’s no excuse not to make this delectable sauce bursting with flavor every chance you get!
Making fresh feta-basil pesto can’t be any easier then the convenience of your food processor! There’s no need whatsoever lugging out the ole mortar and pestle making a huge project out of something that literally take’s 2 minutes to make. No cooking, no baking, no washing, NO FUSS, just load up the food processor and pulse. Voilà, you have a gourmet sauce that turns around any dish you add it to into gourmet.
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!
Make tomato- basil sauceand leave simmering on low, ready for the meats to be sautéed and added
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
As each meat is finished draining stir it into your tomato sauce
Peel and slice 2 lg eggplants approx. 1/8″-1/4″ thick
Whisk 5 eggs in a medium bowl
Add 3-4 cups almond flour in another bowl for dredging the eggplant
Cover cookie tray with foil and spray with coconut oil
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
Then begin to lay the coated eggplant slices on the cookie trays
No need to spray the tops of the slices
Pop them into the oven for 20 minutes, just until tender
Note: the tops of the eggplant slices will not turn golden when baked
Begin to layer the pre-baked eggplant slices in a 13″ x 9″, 12″ x 8″ approx. baking dish
Spray bottom of baking dish with coconut oil
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
Change foil layers on cookie tray to clean foil
Place the Paleo Eggplant Lasagna onto the foiled tray and bake for approx. 35 minutes still on 350º until bubbly all over
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!!
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!
Seared scallops are so gosh darn delicious you really don’t need anything else to accompany them. They have a succulent and creamy texture that’s so tender they melt in your mouth when cooked correctly. All that is needed to sear sea scallop’s is a hot non-stick pan, a couple tablespoons of olive oil, butter for basting at the end, a squeeze of fresh lemon and violà, you have an amazing seafood dish in 4 minutes.
Butter is just one of additions to seafood that always seems to give one last flavor boost. That’s why I have you baste the scallops in the last few seconds in the show. Butter makes everything better, right? You can’t get any easier then making scallops in mere minutes. It is best to use a non-stick pan to sear these though because it will make for a smooth ride home and super easy to flip them over to get that golden sear on the other side of the scallop.
You really need to try my cold cucumber and fennel soup to go with your seared scallops. The flavors you will get from all the vegetables and herbs in the soup to the creamy scallops will put you over the top. The green goddess sauce II goes without saying when paired up with the seared scallops. If I’m serving the scallops for an appetizer I set a small bowl of green goddess sauce right in the middle of a platter for dunking and scallops placed all around…YUM!
It’s like BBQ sauce candy! My Homemade BBQ Sauce is the perfect balance of sweet, tangy and a little spicy! This recipe is one of my versions of a classic “Kansas City” style sauce, meaning it is a tomato based sauce with a sweetener and a vinegar. Ketchup, dark Molasses, brown sugar, cider vinegar and spices are the core ingredient’s that make up this delicious blend of barbecue sauciness. It’s not too sweet or too tangy and it has just a pinch of heat to remind you that it’s a BBQ sauce. It really can’t get any easier to make BBQ sauce then this here recipe. It will definitely make it hard for you to go back to the bottle stuff with the high fructose corn syrup. In fact, I guarantee that you will find yourself dipping that spoon back into the pot to get one more lick of this homemade sassy sauce!
One of my favorite things to do with this sauce is adding a couple tablespoons of bourbon in the last 5 minutes of simmering. Everyone will be asking you for the recipe for sure! If you have a mix of adults and children spilt the sauce into 2 portions, keeping one with bourbon and one with out.
Using the liquid smoke, which is simple to find at your local grocer now a days, is ideal for emulating that smokiness you would get with outdoor barbecuing. I have you adding in chipolte chile powder and a Spanish smoked paprika too which gives off a delicate flavor to the sauce without being too overbearing.
The 3 basic BBQ sauce type’s out there are a tomato based, a vinegar based and a mustard based. Believe it or not, there actually is a mayo based as well. The “Kansas City” style is the tomato based and probably the most popular through out the U.S. There’s a “Memphis” style similar to Kansas City with the tomato base but a thinner, more vinegar type sauce. The actual vinegar and mustard type sauce’s are quintessential to the Carolina’s. South Carolina being partial to the mustard type sauce and North Carolina to the vinegar type sauce. Then there’s that white BBQ sauce that’s mayo based, a signature sauce of Big Bob Gibson out of Alabama.
Having my green goddess sauce ll at your next party will be sure to turn heads. It’s kind of like wearing a new party dress! This green goddess sauce is made in mere minutes in a blender. It’s a blend of Greek yogurt, mayo, fresh mint leaves and cilantro, garlic, green onion, lemon juice, olive oil and rice wine vinegar. You don’t even have to waste time chopping finely because it all get puréed anyways!
Decorating your party plates with my green goddess sauce will make for a lovely presentation, a more formal one, but having a bowl or pouring cup of the sauce on the table will do the trick quite nicely! In fact, the latter might be better since there’s a good possibility your guest’s will be going back for seconds.
Making shrimp & scallop ceviche really can’t get an easier then this! Ceviche is a South American dish that’s usually served as an appetizer. The fish cures/cooks in citrus juice for an hour or two while you get all your salsa ingredients in order. The citrus curing juices are drained from the fish, leaving a tender shrimp & scallops to be tossed with salsa and voilà. The base of the shrimp and scallop ceviche here is my mango salsa recipe.
When I thought of making ceviche this week, sombrero popped into my head! I went to several store’s, costume store’s included which don’t exist anymore, and was out of luck. I then called my dear friend Maria who to my surprise had an authentic sombrero for me to borrow that her parents had picked up on a cruise to Cozumel, Mexico. I have to say it is a very cool hat, not to mention really beautiful. Although it has some weight to it so your neck gets a bit of a work out and you have to be careful not to knock into the walls because depth perception can be deceiving.
When I make this shrimp & scallop ceviche. or any ceviche for that matter, I like to cure my fish in lime juice and then drain that juice before adding the fish to my salsa ingredients. In my opinion, the flavors stay fresher that way. By draining the fish juice that’s released from the shrimp and scallops in the curing process it keep’s a better balance between fish and salsa. There are some recipe’s that have you toss everything into one bowl but I feel it taste’s better when you drain the curing fish juices prior to adding the fish into the salsa.
Since the texture’s of shrimp & scallops are a little different I have you cut the shrimp in 1/2 horizontally, and then dice, so the needed curing/cooking time between the two is closer. You could always change up the fish in this recipe to and go with all scallops or another favorite flaky fish. It’s all about being creative and using what’s freshest at the market!
1/2 lb. lg shrimp, peeled and deveined, 1/3″ diced
1/4 lb of sea scallops, 1/3″ diced
1/2 cup diced sweet mango
1/2 cup sweet onion – Vidalia onion -finely chopped
1/2 cup mini cucumber diced 1/3 cup cherry tomatoes finely chopped
1/2 cup cilantro chopped (1/2 cup after it’s chopped)
1/3 cup finely diced cherry tomato
1/3 cup finely diced avocado
1 jalapeno finely chopped without the seeds
juice from 1 lime – for the final ceviche
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice – for the final ceviche
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar – (“seasoned”)
juice from 4 limes for the shrimp/scallop for the curing marinade
salt and pepper to taste
dash of Tabasco
Bag of blue corn chips (optional)
Wash and devein the shrimp
Wash the sea scallops and remove little fibrous side muscle that’s attached to the scallop
Pat the shrimp and scallops dry on paper towels
Cut up the shrimp in 1/2 horizontally and then into 1/4″ pieces
Slice up the scallops in 1/2 horzintally and then into 1/2″ pieces
Put them into the same bowl… a non-reactive bowl like a glass bowl
Roll the limes to soften them up
Squeeze the lime juice over the shrimp and scallops
Make sure there is enough juice so all the shrimp and scallop pieces are submersed in the lime juice and place into the frig until they are opaque…and place into the frig for 1- 2 hours
NOTE: you should check the fish at 30 minutes intervals to see how it’s curing/cooking …depending on the coldness of the fish, kind and size it wil be ready at different time’s but it’s EASY – if it’s opaque then it’s done!
Finely chop the tomatoes, jalapeno, sweet onion, cucumbers, mango and cilantro and set aside in a large bowl
Drain all the liquid out from the shrimp and scallops and discard
Add the shrimp and scallops to the large bowl with the salsa, add in juice of 1 tbsp lemon juice, juice from 1 lime, 2 Tbsp olive oil, 2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar, dash of Siracha, salt and pepper to taste
Put back into the fridge for 15 minutes for flavors to marry
Shrimp scampi is one of those delicious dishes that’s sure to bring a smile to everyone’s face just on aroma’s alone! Shrimp sautéed in olive oil and butter with lots of garlic, shallots, clam broth, and white wine topped with fresh lemon juice, parsley and Parmesan make’s for a grand party atop a pile of linguine!
This quickie gourmet sauce I have created for you in this shrimp scampi dish is a light sauce, yet packed with flavor. The way we do this is by concentrating the juice’s released from those sautéed shrimp along with a couple of bottles of clam stock simmering for a brief seven minutes. The traditional and time consuming way to create this lovely stock would be to simmer the shrimp shells in white wine for a while like you would for a lobster bisque stock. The objective here was to take a short cut to accommodate our busy every day lives without foregoing taste by using bottled clam stock. Voilà, you have an amazing flavor base for our shrimp scampi with linguine in seven minutes.
One of my favorite way’s to serve the shrimp scampi with linguine is by offering up a Parmesan with red pepper flake’s mixed right into it. It’s nice to offer two small dishes of Parmesan, one with the pepper flakes and one without. By adding the red pepper flakes to the grated cheese guests are less likely to accidentally sprinkle on too much because it’s dispersed throughout the cheese.