I love recipes that are simple and elegant – the kind that produce finished dishes that look sophisticated but are quick and easy to prepare, and require no unusual or hard to find ingredients. This Pea Parmesan Soup hits the mark on all counts. You can throw it together at the last-minute on a busy weeknight, or prepare it ahead time for a fancy dinner party. I usually serve this soup as a first course, but you can make it a complete meal by omitting the prosciutto, stirring in chunks of good quality ham, and serving it with a salad and some crusty french bread.
Lay the prosciutto slices on a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes until crispy.
Here’s what the prosciutto looks like when it’s done. (more…)
When I developed this recipe I wanted it to be as colorful as possible so I called upon the mnemonic device we used in grade school to remember the colors in a rainbow – Roy G. Biv – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet. If you look closely at this salad you’ll see that the array of whole foods used in this recipe represents all the colors in that mystical spectrum of light. I’m counting the flecks of cabbage in the broccoli slaw for indigo and violet – maybe that’s cheating a bit but the important thing to remember about this salad is that it is beautiful, healthy, AND delicious. Save this recipe to make for your first picnic or backyard barbeque of the season.
Microwave the frozen corn and peas on high for about 2 minutes, stirring, and checking their temperature after each 30 second interval. You want to defrost them but not heat them through. Once they are at room temperature, blot away any excess water with a clean paper towel. If don’t own a microwave, or don’t want to use one, simply leave the peas and corn out on your counter, at room temperature, until they are completely defrosted.
I usually use grape tomatoes for this salad but you could substitute cherry tomatoes, just make sure you cut them into bite size pieces. My grape tomatoes were kind of big the day I made this salad so I cut them into quarters. Once they are cut up add them to the bowl of peas and corn and set aside while you make the vinegariette. (more…)
I was in Vermont recently, the maple syrup capital of the U.S., where I purchased a jar of maple walnut peanut butter, which quickly disappeared. Before I tossed out the empty jar I checked the ingredient list and saw that it contained just a few ingredients – peanuts, maple syrup, walnuts, and salt. Easy enough to make I thought, but since I’m more a fan of almond butter than peanut butter I decided to make Maple Walnut Almond Butter instead. The results were fantastic.
Put the walnuts and almonds on a sheet pan and roast them at 400 degrees F for 8-10 minutes until they are slightly toasted. Check the oven after 5 minutes to make sure they are not browning too quickly. I keep the walnuts and almonds separate on the sheet pan so that if one is toasting more quickly than the other I can remove them easily and return the pan to the oven until the other nuts are done.
Once you try this recipe it’s highly unlikely you will ever buy ketchup at the grocery store again. It’s so simple to prepare and you won’t believe the difference it makes in the way your food tastes. There is none of that harsh tang and excessive sweetness you get with store bought ketchup. It is simply the essence of tomato with a few savory additions that heighten the natural tomato flavor. It’s great on burgers and fries but also makes a delicious cocktail sauce for shrimp (just add horseradish if desired) and is a great base for barbeque sauce too. Pretty much anything you’d put store bought ketchup on will taste better with this as a condiment. And it’s a lot healthier too. It’s no secret that most ketchup is made with high fructose corn syrup – a refined sweetener that is unhealthy to consume. More and more food companies are replacing high fructose corn syrup with less refined, more natural sweeteners, yet it’s still found in most mass produced ketchup. All the more reason to make your own! One tablespoon of this ketchup has less than 1 gram of sugar versus 4 grams of sugar in your typical store bought ketchup. It also has 50% less sodium. Once I discovered this recipe I started buying the 6 oz. cans of tomato paste by the case at my warehouse store. Since the rest of the ingredients are, for the most part, pantry staples, I almost always have what I need on hand to make this.
You probably already have most of what you need to make this ketchup in your pantry right now.
Drizzle olive oil over the head of garlic before wrapping it up in aluminum foil. Some recipes will tell you to slice off the top of the head of garlic prior to roasting. This isn’t necessary. The garlic roasts just fine left intact so I eliminate this step to simply the recipe.
Gluten Free Spicy Coconut Cornbread a great twist on a classic recipe. If you’re tired of cornbread that is dry, crumbly, and too sweet then you’ll love this version. The creamed corn and sour cream in this cornbread make it super moist. True to its name, it’s more of a “bread” than a “cake”, containing no added sugar and deriving only a barely detectable sweetness from the coconut flakes. And, it contains no flour so it’s gluten free. The red bell pepper and cayenne give it a cool crunch and a spicy kick that make it the perfect accompaniment to chili. Baking it in a cast iron skillet gives it an authentic feel, but if you don’t own a cast iron skillet simply bake it in an 8 x 8 inch pan. As mentioned, this is not an overly sweet cornbread. If you like your cornbread on the sweeter side add 1 to 2 Tablespoons of sugar to the batter. You can also up the cayenne pepper to 1 tsp. if you’d like more heat, as this cornbread is only moderately spicy.
In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, baking powder, salt, cayenne, and coconut flakes.
In a small sauce pan melt the coconut oil over low heat and then brush the bottom and sides of an 11-inch cast iron skillet with 2 teaspoons of the oil.
In a medium bowl combine the remaining coconut oil, along with the sour cream and creamed corn. Mix well and then add in the eggs and red bell pepper. Add this mixture to the cornmeal mixture and stir until well blended.
Pour the batter into the skillet.
Bake for 40-45 minutes until the edges of the cornbread begin to brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing into wedges and serving.
Most creamed-style corn is gluten-free but check the label, or contact the manufacturer, to be sure.
When I was researching how to start a food blog I learned that recipe titles are extremely important and that using the right recipe title can often mean the difference between someone clicking to read your post or passing it by. It’s tempting to name a recipe something unique or fun, but when you do that you’re not giving the reader a window into what the dish will taste like. Instead you’re forcing them to read through the entire recipe (if they’re even still reading) and decide for themselves what the dish will taste like, what flavors are prominent, etc. It’s far better to sum up the dish with an appropriate title. Even so, my initial inclination was to name this recipe “Not your Average Meatballs” because of its unorthodox ingredients, until it occurred to me that the more descriptive name is far more enticing. Blue cheese and beef is a classic culinary combination and the rosemary adds just a of hint of savoriness that complements the two ingredients perfectly. In this recipe the wild rice takes the place of bread crumbs as a filler and adds an interesting and pleasing texture. It also makes them gluten free. You can serve these meatballs with homemade ketchup or marinara, and while we don’t normally think of meatballs as finger food, my favorite way to eat them is straight out of the refrigerator, cold, with just the tiniest sprinkling of salt – no utensils required. The turkey, goat cheese, and sun-dried tomato variation of this recipe is equally delicious.
The first thing you need to do for this recipe is cook up some wild rice. To yield 1½ cups of cooked wild rice bring ½ cup of uncooked wild rice and 1½ cups of water to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 25-30 minutes or until all water is absorbed.
Chopped fresh rosemary gives these meatballs an unbeatable flavor but if you can’t find fresh rosemary simply substitute 2 teaspoons of dried rosemary.
I’m new to the world of food blogging (this is only my 4th post) so one of the things I have been doing a lot of lately is reading other food blogs to see if I can figure out how this whole crazy thing works. Recently I stumbled upon a great food blog that’s been around for a while www.leitesculinaria.com and saw a recipe for Cheesy Fish Crackers in a post by Lara Ferroni, author of the book Real Snacks: Make Your Favorite Childhood Treats Without All the Junk . It brought back some fond memories of when my daughter, now 20 and a junior in college, was a little girl. She was wild about Pepperidge Farm Goldfish. They HAD to be in her lunch bag every school day. Back then I bought the famous Pepperidge Farm Goldfish in the giant milk containers and we went through them very quickly. Nowadays my daughter eats healthier snacks and even gave up gluten about a year ago. So when I saw this recipe, and remembered that I actually had a fish cookie cutter, I decided to make the gluten free version to send to her at college. Among the dozens of cookie cutters I own that I have never used is a Wilton fish cookie cutter. I have no idea what I had in mind when I bought this cookie cutter (certainly not giant gold fish crackers) but I’m always happy when I find a use for all those idle kitchen tools and gadgets that I simply can’t resist buying. I thought these crackers would be a little more interesting, and sophisticated, with some heat so I added cayenne pepper to the recipe. I also took the liberty of substituting parmesan cheese for the cheddar. If you want these crackers to have an orange cast, so that they more closely resemble the original iconic snack, then simply substitute a mild cheddar cheese for the parmesan, which is what the original recipe calls. (more…)
When my daughters were growing up this was my go-to recipe for the endless number of school related activities that required donating baked goods. I usually had all of the ingredients on hand and could throw it together very quickly, which was great because I often found out about them having to bring something into school around 10 o’clock the night before. Just as they were getting ready for bed I’d hear “Mom, I forgot to tell you, I have to bring in something for our class breakfast tomorrow”. God knows there was never enough extra time in the morning to run to the grocery store to pick something up – it was always easier to whip up this cake. Back then I put the entire recipe in a 9 x 13 inch disposable casserole tin so that I didn’t have to worry about the pan finding its way back home. That’s a good size cake for a crowd, but now I prefer to make two smaller coffee cakes (8-inch round) and put one in the freezer. The round cakes are a little more elegant and because I sometimes serve this as a desert – with a scoop of vanilla ice cream – wedges, as opposed to square slices, are a more suitable shape. This recipe was adapted from Tidewater On The Half Shell, Fine Virginia Recipes – a very old Junior League cookbook.
The blueberries and apples pair together wonderfully in this cake and make it extra moist.
After I chop up the apple I toss it with a few drops of orange juice to prevent it from browning (due to oxidation) while the rest of the cake is being prepared.
I’m not a fan of party appetizers that are messy or awkward to eat – the kind that drip and break apart after the first bite and leave you awkwardly cupping your hand under your chin to catch the falling food debris, all while trying to maintain your composure and simultaneously engage in cocktail chatter. That’s one of the reasons I love this appetizer. It’s not crumbly and is easy to eat with one hand, lest you not have to put down your drink! These are fancy enough to serve to company but simple enough to make for yourself – just to nosh on. So if your kids are getting tired of those mozzarella sticks that you put in their lunch boxes, and you have a few extra lying around, try making these. They take less than 10 minutes to prepare and make a great 100 calorie snack – with 10 grams of protein too. They’d also be a great addition to an antipasto platter. (more…)
The right balance of colors on a plate can rouse the senses before even the first morsel of food is put into your mouth. We taste with our eyes first. This salad is a perfect example of how just seeing a dish can fire up your taste buds and ready them for a delicious meal. Whenever I’m serving an entree that’s lacking in color I can always count on this salad’s bright and vivid ingredients to make an otherwise bland looking plate come alive. Using the peppers as a serving vessel provides an extra pop of color and makes beautiful presentation.
If you prefer, you can serve this salad without the pepper cups, as pictured above. In this case, you’ll only need 1 orange bell pepper for the recipe.
4 scallions, thinly sliced (white part and green parts)
3 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice
3 Tablespoons olive oil
¼ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 Tablespoons organic blue agave
cilantro (optional garnish)
Place the frozen corn in a microwave safe container, microwave on high for one minute, and then blot with a paper towel to remove excess water. Set aside to cool completely.
Make the lime citrus vinaigrette. In a small bowl whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, agave, cumin, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
Cut the top off of each of the four peppers. Remove the stems, ribs and seeds from each pepper and then chop the tops only.
Rinse and drain the black beans and add to a big bowl along with the chopped pepper tops, corn, avocado, grape tomatoes, and scallions.
Re-whisk the lime vinaigrette and pour over the black bean mixture. Combine thoroughly.
Spoon some of the black bean salad into each of the four peppers and garnish with cilantro if desired.
Serves 4 in the pepper cups with an additional 10 - 6 oz. servings. If you don't want to serve the salad in pepper cups simply eliminate all of the peppers except for the orange bell pepper. Then chop the whole orange pepper (in lieu of 4 pepper tops) and present the entire salad in a serving dish. Honey or maple syrup may be substituted for the organic blue agave.