Appetizers

Savory Fall Tart

Puff Pastry filled with Caramelized Onions, Goat Cheese, Butternut Squash and Brussels Sprouts

Here you have it! An easy and impressive looking/tasting tart that will start your holiday dinner off with a bang! 

Ingredients-

  1. 1 Large Vidalia Onion
  2. Balsamic Vinegar (Just a few Tablespoons)
  3. 1 Large Butternut Squash (peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes) You can also use one package of pre cut squash if you find it at the grocery store..just makes your life easier!
  4. About 25 Brussel Sprouts( (cleaned, dried and cut in half or quarters if their very big)
  5. 5 Oz Creamy Plain Chevre Goat Cheese (can also use Cranberry goat cheese)
  6. 1 Sheet of Frozen Puff Pastry Dough, thawed (I like Pepperidge Farm) 
  7. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  8. Salt & Pepper
  9. Red Pepper Flakes (Optional)
  10. 1-2 Tablespoons Honey
  11. Egg wash-1 egg lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon of milk

Steps-

While your caramelizing the onions roast the sprouts and squash!

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Caramelized Onions-

  1. Heat olive oil and butter, add onion slices: Use a wide, thick-bottomed sauté pan for maximum pan contact with the onions. Coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil, or a mixture of olive oil and butter (about 1 teaspoon per onion). Heat the pan on medium high heat until the oil is shimmering. Add the onion slices and stir to coat the onions with the oil. Spread the onions out evenly over the pan and let cook, stirring occasionally.

  2. Depending on how strong your stovetop burner is you may need to reduce the heat to medium or medium low to prevent the onions from burning or drying out.

  3. After 10 minutes, sprinkle some salt and black pepper over the onions, and if you want, you can add a dash of sugar to help with the caramelization process. One trick to keeping the onions from drying out as they cook is to add a little water to the pan.

  4.  Cook, stirring every few minutes: Let cook for about 30 minutes, stirring every few minutes. You want the onions to get nice and soft and a caramel color (but not hard and burnt!).When the onions are at this point add about 2 Tablespoons of Balsamic Vinegar to deglaze the pan and create more flavor.  Let the liquid evaporate. Set onions aside. 

Brussel Sprouts and Butternut Squash

  1. Spread out the peeled and cut squash on a sheet pan and drizzle with Olive Oil and sprinkle with salt and black pepper. 
  2. on a separate sheet pan spread out the cut Brussels Sprouts and drizzle with Olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  3. On separate racks in the oven, roast until fork tender and caramelized. 

Assemble the Tart- 

  1. On top of parchment or wax paper roll out the puff pastry dough until it is about a 10x16 inch rectangle. 
  2. Drizzle a little olive oil on the bottom of a sheet pan or rectangular roasting pan. Carefully flip the dough onto the prepared pan making sure it doesn't have any holes. Remove the parchment paper. 
  3. Leaving a 1 & 1/2 inch rim of bare puff pastry around the tart, spread on an even coating of caramelized onions. Use all of them!
  4. Then sprinkle and even layer of the Brussels Sprouts and roasted squash. 
  5. If you like, sprinkles a little red pepper flakes over the top as well as a little black pepper and salt.
  6. Drizzle a little honey over the top of the filling. 
  7. Fold in the sides of the puff pastry to create a barrier so the filling doesn't spill out. 
  8. With a pastry brush, baste the edges of the tart with the egg wash. 
  9. Bake the tart in a preheated 400F oven for 20 minutes or until the edges and bottom are golden brown. Remove from the oven and crumble the goat cheese over the top of the tart. Bake another 5 minutes or so or until the goat cheese melts slightly and everything comes together. 
  10. Option-drizzle some more honey or some balsamic reduction (you can buy at the store) over teh top of the tart for a little extra flavor and color. 
  11. Cut with a pizza wheel or knife and enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

Garlic Parmesan Wings

Growing up in a big Italian household we did not eat chicken wings…they just aren’t something Italians make! So then I went to college in Pennsylvania where you can find wings on every corner and what can I say…I fell in love! Not only did I fall in love with chicken wings, but I fell in love with a red headed, wing loving boy named Dan.  Now here we are 6 years later, living together and I’m making chicken wings for him in our tiny NYC apartment.  I try not to make the same wing recipe twice.  I am always coming up with new and innovative wing flavors that are quick and easy to execute. Here is my Italian take on chicken wings! You’ve got zesty spices and fresh herbs like rosemary, basil and garlic and the beautiful salty bite of the fresh Parmesan.

 

 

 

Feeds about 2 people

Ingredients-

  1. 2 ½ Lbs Chicken Wings (make sure the drum stick is detached from the small wing)
  2. ½ Teaspoon Ground Cumin
  3. ¼ Teaspoon Mustard Powder
  4. ½ Teaspoon Dried Oregano
  5. 1 Teaspoon Fresh Rosemary Chopped finely
  6. ½ Teaspoon Salt
  7. ¼ Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
  8. ½ Teaspoon Onion Powder
  9. 1 Teaspoon Dried Parsley Flakes
  10. Dash of Cayenne Pepper (or more if you like spice)
  11. 2 Tablespoons Melted Butter
  12. 2 Tablespoons Fresh Chopped Basil
  13. 2 Cloves of Garlic Minced
  14. ¼ Cup of Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese or Locatelli Cheese

Ranch or Blue Cheese Dressing to Serve

 

Steps-

  1. Preheat the oven to 425F.
  2. In a small bowl stir together the Cumin, Mustard Powder, Oregano, Rosemary, Salt and Pepper, Onion Powder, Parsley and Cayenne.
  3. Lay the chicken wings on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil sprayed lightly with cooking spray.
  4. Sprinkle the chicken wings with all of the spice mixture.
  5. Bake the chicken wings for about 20 minutes.  While the chicken is baking, mix together the butter, fresh basil, garlic, parmesan cheese and a pinch of salt.
  6. When the chicken is cooked through, toss the wings with the butter mixture until fully coated.  Then place the wings back in the oven for about 10 more minutes until they are golden and fragrant.
  7. Serve with the ranch or blue cheese  and even hot sauce if you’d like and enjoy!

Squash Toast

I would like to think I am not like all the other 20 something year old years, except for my taste in television shows. I have to admit I love the show The Bachelor. The drama, the unrealistic dates, the sappy proposal speeches, you just can't not get hooked! Why am I bringing this up? Well my sister, my best friend and I have Bachelor Mondays where we each take turns hosting the group for dinner and of course The Bachelor viewing. For the shows big finale, my best friend Rebecca had one wish, and that was for me to recreate her favorite appetizer from one of the best restaurants in NYC. Lucky for her, her best friend (me) is a chef, so helloooo challenge accepted and dominated, but of course I had to put my own "Got Room For More" spin on it.  I changed up the type of squash and added the beautiful nutty crunch of the toasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas). Well lets just say I totally got the rose that night...and so did Lauren B (who we were rooting for since day 1). You go girl! Now what to do until The Bachelorette starts..sigh. We cannot wait to cheer on JoJo the newly elected Bachelorette while we stuff our faces and cry about how we don't look as good in a bikini.

Ingredients-

  1. 1  2 1/2- to 3-pound Butternut Squash, Acorn Squash or kabocha, peeled, seeded and diced into 3/4 inch pieces  (NOTE: I use one acorn squash and 1 small butternut squash. I find the blend is very nice)
  2. 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus more for the bread
  3. ½ teaspoon dried chile flakes
  4. 1 Tablespoon Honey (I like a nice wildflower honey)
  5. 3 teaspoons kosher salt
  6. 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  7. ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  8. ¼ cup maple syrup
  9. 4 slices country bread, 1-inch thick ( I prefer Puglisi bread or ciabata
  10. ½ cup fresh, creamy ricotta cheese
  11.  Coarse salt & Ground black pepper to taste
  12. 4 tablespoons chopped mint
  13. 3-4 Tablespoons of toasted, hulled Pumpkin Seeds

Steps-

 

  1. Heat the oven to 450F. Combine the squash, 1/4 cup olive oil, chile flakes, honey and 2 teaspoons of salt in a bowl and toss well. Transfer the mixture to a parchment or foil-lined baking sheet and cook, stirring every 10 minutes, until tender and slightly colored, about 20-25 minutes or a little longer. You want the squash to be fork tender and slightly caramelized. Remove from the oven.
  2. Meanwhile, heat another 1/4 cup olive oil over medium heat, add the onions and remaining teaspoon salt and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are very soft and darkening, at least 20 minutes.Add the vinegar and syrup, stir and reduce until syrupy and broken down, again at least 15-20 minutes or so. You want it to be a nice caramelized, cohesive mixture that has a jam like texture. 
  3. Combine squash and onions in a bowl and smash with a fork until combined. Taste for seasoning.
  4. Drizzle some olive oil onto a baking sheet. Place slices of the bread onto the baking sheet. Drizzle the tops of the bread with more olive oil.  Sprinkle the bread with some ground black pepper. Toast in the oven on 400F until the bread is toasted and slightly golden, but not too toasted where it is very hard to eat. (but please toast to your liking! My grandfather likes it burnt..I mean completely burnt ;) )
  5. Spread the ricotta cheese on toasts, then top with the squash-onion mixture. Sprinkle with a small pinch of coarse salt, a little bit of the toasted pumpkin seeds and finally the fresh mint.

Acorn Squash with Apple, Sage Cream & Spiced Pumpkin Seeds

It is that time of year again! Thanksgiving is just 10 days away! Everybody knows that the turkey is just a showpiece, we all really look forward to the side dishes! Acorn squash is the perfect Thanksgiving side because everyone gets their own little "cup" of sweet and savory goodness. This recipe is beautiful and will surely take your Thanksgiving dinner Instagram pic to the next level. The squash is rich and slightly sweet with the addition of the dark brown sugar, and then the sage yogurt cream gives it this perfect tangy flavor that cuts through the sweetness, the apples give it a nice juicy freshness and finally we top it all off with spicy toasted pumpkin seeds which give this dish the most satisfying crunch. Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

Ingredients-

  1. Acorn Squash- 1 half per person
  2. Dark Brown Sugar (1 Tablespoons per half)
  3. Salted Butter (1 Tablespoon per half of squash)
  4. salt and black pepper
  5. Dash of Cinnamon per squash
  6. Dash of Nutmeg per squash
  7. Pinch of Clove per squash
  8. Olive Oil to baste the squash before baking
  9. 1-2 Apples shredded on a mandolin or cut into a fine julienne (I like honey crisp apples but granny smith or macintosh are great too
  10. Spiced Pumpkin Seeds (recipe below)
  11. Sage Cream (recipe below)

Pumpkin Seeds-

 

  1. 1/3 Cup light brown sugar
  2. 2 cups pumpkin seeds shelled
  3. 1 large egg white
  4. 1teaspoon cinnamon
  5. ¼ Teaspooon Ground Ginger
  6. ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  7. ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  8. a few dashes of cayenne pepper (if you like spicy you can add ¼-1/2 teaspoon)

Sage Cream-

  1. 1 Cup Plain Greek Yogurt (I use Fage 0% fat to cut calories)
  2. 6-8 Fresh Sage Leaves
  3. 1 Teaspoon Honey
  4. Small Pinch of salt and pepper

Steps-

Spiced Pumpkin Seeds-

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F
  2. Stir together all the ingredients.
  3. Spread the seeds out on a parchment paper lined sheet pan in one layer.
  4. Bake for about 15 minutes or until puffed up slightly and brown. Keep an eye on them because they can burn easily. Remove from the oven and stir them up a bit then pop them back in the oven for another 3-5 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven and allow them to cool and dry out . Sprinkle with a little extra salt if needed.

Sage Cream-

  1. In a food processor or blender, blend together the yogurt, sage leaves, honey, tiny pinch of salt and pepper. Blend until the sage is nicely chopped up and incorporated into the yogurt.  If it is too thick to blend add a drop of water.
  2. Set aside in the fridge until ready to serve. 

Acorn Squash-

  1. Preheat the oven to 425F
  2. Cut the Squashes in half horizontally. Scoop out the seeds and discard.
  3. Place the squash halves on a parchment or foil lined baking sheet. Drizzle the insides of the squash with some olive oil.
  4. Sprinkle each squash half with salt and pepper, a dash of nutmeg, a pinch of ground cloves, and a nice sprinkle of ground cinnamon.
  5. Bake the squash for 45 minutes, remove from the oven and top each squash half with 1 tablespoon of the salted butter and 1 Tablespoon of Dark Brown Sugar and place back in the oven. Bake for another 15 minutes then remove and baste the squash with the melted butter and brown sugar from the center of the squash. Bake another 10-15 minutes  or  so, until the squash is fork tender.  Remove from the oven.

**To assemble- Top each acorn squash half with some shredded apple, a nice dollop of sage cream and then finish it off with some spiced pumpkin seeds.




Brussel Sprout Slaw

Spring is coming! We have moved from 15 degree temperatures to 50 degrees within one weeks time and it feels oh so good.  Spring to me means fresh veggies and salads, or anything light and fresh.  Over the course of a few years, Brussel Sprouts have become HUGE!  They are one of the most popular items on restaurant menus and one of the easiest vegetables to pick up at the grocery store. I turned an American favorite, Coleslaw, into a unique slaw equipped with crunchy, shredded brussel sprouts, crisp granny smith apple and bright, green onion and celery seed.  Serve this one beside sandwiches at a luncheon or BBQ or with any dinner entree. Enjoy!


Ingredients-

  1. 1/3 cup mayo (you can use lite mayo or even creme fraiche)
  2. 2 Teaspoons Dijon Mustard
  3. 2 Tablespoons White Vinegar
  4. 2-3 cups Shredded Brussel Sprouts (I bought them pre shredded but if you cannot find them just cut the tough core off the bottom of the sprouts and then chiffonade the leaves (cut into thin slices)
  5. 1/2 Granny Smith Apple Peeled and Shredded (I use the julienne setting on my mandolin slicer or you can do it by hand or on the large hole of a cheese grater.
  6. 1/2 Teaspoon Celery Seed (a spice you can find in any spice isle!)
  7. 1 Tablespoon of Sugar
  8. 1/2 Cup of Chopped Scallions (green part only)
  9. Salt and pepper to taste
  10. 4 Tablespoons Chopped Flat Leaf Italian Parsley


Steps-

  1. Whisk together the mayo dijon, vinegar, sugar, celery seed and salt and pepper.
  2. In a separate bowl toss together the Brussel Sprouts, Apple, Scallions and Parsley.
  3. Pour the dressing over the sprout mixture little by little until it is dressed to your liking.  
  4. You can eat it right away but it is best to wrap it up and put in in the fridge for a few hours or overnight so the flavors really come together.

 

Three Bean Pasta Fagioli

Nothing is better than a hot bowl of Pasta "Fazool" on a cold winter day! Everyone knows February is award show month, and this is my "Award Show Meal."  I like to make a big pot of this and then cuddle up in sweats on the couch with my boyfriend and friends in front of the television. We sit and watch all of our favorite celebrities in awe, commenting on their wacky outfits and their butchered acceptance speeches...and the good ones too. 

Ingredients-

  1. 4 celery stalks diced small
  2. 1 cup carrot diced small
  3. 1 medium/large onion diced small (an onion about the size of a large orange)
  4. 4 pieces of bacon diced small
  5. 2 bay leaves
  6. 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  7. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  8. 2 Ounces Kale -Chiffonade
  9. 3 small garlic cloves minced
  10. 2 Sprigs of fresh rosemary chopped up finely
  11. 2 cups canned diced tomatoes with some of the juice 
  12. 1/3 cup dried brown or green lentils
  13. 14 oz canned Cannellini white beans
  14. 15.5 oz can of Chickpeas (Garbanzo beans)
  15. 14oz chickpeas 
  16. 6 cups Chicken stock/broth
  17. 1 cup white wine
  18. 1 Cup Small Pasta (I prefer Ditalini or small shells)
  19. Salt and Pepper to Taste
  20. Fresh Parmegiano Reggiano Cheese


Steps-

  1. Heat a large ceramic pot (like a Le Creuset if you have it) on medium-low heat. Add the bacon and cook until the fat renders, about 10 minutes. Remove the bacon and set aside (you will add it back in). Add the onion, carrot, celery, red pepper flakes and bay leaves and increase the heat to medium; cook, stirring frequently, until the onions become translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more, stirring constantly so the garlic doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan and burn.
  2. Add the wine and cook until it has reduced slightly. Add the bacon back to the pot along with the broth, beans, lentils, chickpeas, diced tomatoes and rosemary. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the lentils are just tender, 15-30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper as needed.
  3. Use a slotted spoon to transfer 1 cup of the bean mixture and a little liquid to a blender or food processor. Hold a kitchen towel over the opening to prevent splatters as the liquid is very hot. Purée until smooth and add back into the pot.  This will help to thicken the soup slightly.
  4. Add the dried pasta to the pot and stir to incorporate. Turn the heat up to a gentle boil and cook until the pasta is tender but still firm to the bite, anywhere from 8-12 minutes depending on the type of pasta you used. The soup will thicken a bit by the time the pasta is cooked. Discard the bay leaves.
  5. Ladle the soup into bowls. Drizzle each portion with a touch of extra-virgin olive oil and grate a good amount of Parmegiano Reggiano on top.

I love to serve this with some homemade Focaccia bread. Check out Tyler Florence's recipe! I just use his bread recipe without his toppings and add lots of fresh rosemary and sea salt to mine  before baking and it compliments the soup perfectly. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/fabulous-focaccia-recipe.html

Butternut Squash- Two Meals 1 Ingredient

I am a woman with a very demanding full time job and a big appetite.  I love a good home cooked meal as much as the rest of you, but we all know that time is of the essence during the work week. Stressful business meetings, long commutes, squeezing in time at the gym and keeping up with emails seems to be the weekly routine for most of us living in Metropolitan cities, but I can show you how you can prep one simple ingredient at the beginning of the week, maybe Sunday evening, and have several completely different tasting meals all week long. 

1. Roasted Butternut Squash-

  1. 1 Large Butternut Squash (peeled, seeds scooped out and cut into 1 inch cubes) I like to but the pre-cut squash in the produce fridge to save some time!
  2. Olive Oil
  3. Fresh Sage (About 3-4 Leaves)- Chiffonade (finely chopped)
  4. 3 Small Shallots Chopped
  5. Salt & Pepper

Steps-

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F
  2. In a roasting pan toss together the squash, sage, salt and pepper to taste and the shallots.  
  3. Drizzle on Olive Oil just to coat each piece of squash with a thin layer of oil.
  4. Roast in the oven for roughly 25-35 minutes tossing them mid way through the cooking process for more even cooking.  They are done when they are slightly golden brown on the outside and soft on the inside.  You want to be able to prick them with a fork easily.
  5. I like to eat the squash in a kale salad with a simple vinaigrette, dried cranberries or cherries, and chopped almonds or walnuts. You can also eat it as a side with any protein you like!

2. Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients-

  1. Roasted Butternut Squash with Sage (see above)
  2. Chicken Stock
  3. Fat Free Plain Greek Yogurt (or Creme Fraisce or Sour Cream)
  4. Salt and Pepper to taste

Steps-

  1. Blend the Roasted Squash in a blender until creamy.  Add a heaping dollop or two of the Greek Yogurt and some Chicken Stock until you reach your desired texture.  If you like you soup thick put less stock, if you like it a little thinner keep adding stock a little at a time. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Heat up in a pot or in the microwave and serve! Also good with toasted shelled pumpkin seeds as a garnish.  

 

 

 

 

Spaghetti Squash Fritters- Vegetarian "Crab Cakes"

I HATED leftovers as a child!  I always felt like they never tasted fresh, and being the foodie that I am, I didn't want to have the same dish multiple times in one week.  Once I started managing restaurants and cooking in professional kitchens, I realized how important it is to take the scraps and leftovers of your vegetables, meats, cheeses etc. and use them to create more dishes!  Ultimately, if you throw good, useable leftovers in the garbage, you are throwing money in the garbage!  This week I had a substantial amount of Spaghetti Squash leftover, so I got a little creative and created a delicious appetizer to bring to my friend's apartment for dinner. These fritters are crispy on the outside and soft and flavorful on the inside.  The pleasantly stringy texture of the spaghetti squash and the flavors of the capers, sun dried tomatoes and breadcrumbs oddly make these little patties taste just like crab cakes! My friends kept insisting that I was lying to them and that they were crab cakes and not vegetable fritters!  So if you are a vegetarian or have vegetarian guests, this is the perfect dish to serve!  You can even make a "crab cake" sandwich by making a larger spaghetti squash patty, put it on a nice brioche bun with a cajun style aioli and top it with some mixed greens..now how delicious does that sound!


Ingredients-

1 Medium Spaghetti Squash

Canola Oil

5 Sun Dried Tomatoes chopped fine (you can use more if you'd like)

2 Small Cloves of Garlic Minced

Seasoned Breadcrumbs (about 1 cup sometimes you need a little more)

1/3 Cup Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese

1  1/2- 2 Tablespoons Capers

2 Eggs beaten

Flour (you just need a few Teaspoons for the mixture to hold together)

About 4-5 Large Fresh Basil Leaves Chiffonade (sliced into thin ribbons)

Salt & Pepper


Steps-

Preheat the oven to 400F.  Cut the spaghetti squash in half vertically using a big chefs knife.  Scoop out and discard the seeds from the middle of the squash and then drizzle the flesh with olive oil and salt and pepper.  Place the cut side down onto a foil or parchment line sheet pan and roast in the oven about 35-45 minutes or until a fork can easily poke through the outer skin of the spaghetti squash.  

When the squash is cooked, using a fork scrape the squash flesh into a bowl.  It should fall into the bowl like spaghetti! Let it cool and set aside.

Once the spaghetti squash is cooled place in some paper towels or a clean kitchen towel and try to squeeze out any excess water that the squash naturally has.

Place the squash in a bowl and add the minced garlic, chopped sun dried tomatoes, parmesan cheese an capers.  Add the 2 beaten eggs and a dash of salt and black pepper.  Stir together until combined.

Add the seasoned breadcrumbs, about 1 Cup and stir together.  Add about 2 Tablespoons of Flour and stir together.  This will help to bind the mixture.  If you try to fry them and they are not crisping up and are just falling apart, add a little more breadcrumbs and flour.

Coat the bottom of a skillet with Canola Oil and heat on medium heat.  Test the temperature of the oil by placing a dot of the batter into the oil and if the oil sizzles around the batter, your mixture is ready.  Scoop about 1  1/2 Tablespoons of the mixture into you hands, make a ball, and flatten it out into a pancake shape.  You want them about 1/3 inch thick.  Place them in the pan with the hot oil and fry until golden brown and crusty on the bottom and then flip and brown the other side. Only fry a few at a time so they brown evenly and the oil temperature doesn't drop.

When they are cooked place them on paper towels to drain the excess oil. Serve with a dollop of the Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Crema! See below!


Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Crema-

Ingredients-

Plain Greek Yogurt

Sun Dried Tomato Pesto (you can also use regular pesto)

2 Large Basil Leaves Chiffonade

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Salt & Pepper

Steps-

1. Mix together some Sun Dried Tomato Pesto with the Greek Yogurt, a drizzle of Olive Oil and the chopped Basil. Add a pinch of salt and a dash of pepper, and give it a taste!  If you feel the flavor or color is too bland add more of the pesto! That is all there is too it!




Summertime Crostini

In the summertime we tend to have parties and celebrations to go to every weekend, whether they be graduation parties, summer BBQs, 4th of July bashes etc.  Here are three crostini recipes that are full of fresh, bright flavors, colors and textures.  If you bring any of these to your next get-together, your friends and family will think you paid a high-end caterer to make them..they look  and taste that impressive!  The best part is they are pretty darn easy! 

Fava Bean Ricotta Crostini-

Ingredients-

  1. Fresh Ricotta Cheese
  2. Baguette or 7 grain or Ciabatta (whatever you like!!)
  3. 1  1/4 Cups Shelled Fava Beans
  4. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  5. 7-8 Fresh Mint Leaves (washed thoroughly)
  6. The Juice of Half a Large Lemon
  7. 2 Small Garlic Cloves (or 1 Large Garlic Clove)
  8. Salt & Pepper
  9. Sugar Snap Peas for Garnish
  10. Parmesan Cheese or Manchego Cheese (Using a vegetable peeler make little shavings of the cheese)

Steps-

  1. Remove and discard the stem and natural "string" from each Sugar Snap Pea Pod. Set aside. 
  2. Fill a large bowl of water with ice and water and set aside. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil and then drop the Sugar Snap Peas in the water.  Boil them in the water for 2 minutes only and then using a slotted spoon remove them from the water and place them in the bowl of ice water to shock them.  This helps them retain their color and crunch and cooks them ever so slightly.  Once they are cooled in the ice water remove them and dry them off on paper towels (set aside in fridge for garnish).
  3. Do the same thing with the shucked Fava Beans but for about 3-4 minutes or until tender. Drain and shock in the ice water then remove the outer skin gently.  Try not to break up the beans you want them to hold their beautiful shape.
  4. In a food processor, blend together the Fava Beans, Mint Leaves, Lemon Juice, Garlic, about 2 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and a dash of Salt and Pepper.  You want everything to combine and become a soft, creamy, thick spread.  If it is too thick add more OIive Oil and a drop more Lemon Juice.
  5. Put in a small bowl or tupperware and squeeze a little lemon juice over the top, cover tightly and place in the fridge until you are ready to use it.  Tip: If you are gluten free or don't want the carbs you can each this like a dip with sliced raw veggies!
  6. Slice your baguette thin on a bias, drizzle them with olive oil, salt and pepper and place them on a cookie sheet.  Place them in the oven on 400F and toast them up until they are golden.  You want them to get crunchy but not so hard that they turn to stone.
  7. When you are ready to serve your guests, assemble your crostini by spreading about a teaspoon of ricotta on each slice of bread, then spread a little Fava Bean spread, then a few shavings of parmesan cheese (or manchego) and then top it with the Sugar Snap Pea.  Finish them with a tiny drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and a sprinkle of sea salt (or regular salt if you have no sea salt).

 

Tomato Mozzarella Crostini 

Ingredients- 

  1. Fresh Salted Mozzarella
  2. Heirloom Tomatoes Diced Small (I use a mixture of red, orange and yellow but if they are out of season the red will be just fine)
  3. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  4. Fresh Tarragon ( f you don't like Tarragon just use Basil but Tarragon has a unique flavor that I find is refreshing and delicious!)
  5. Minced Garlic
  6. Salt and Pepper
  7. Baguette (or any bread you like)
  8. Balsamic Vinegar (optional)

Steps-

  1. Mix the diced tomatoes, some chopped tarragon and a little minced garlic in a bowl.  Drizzle some extra virgin olive soil over the top along with some salt and pepper.  I didn't put amount here because it depends on how much you are making and it depends on taste!  Jus taste and season accordingly.  If you like a lot of garlic then put more, if not then just put a drop.
  2. Let the tomatoes marinate covered in the fridge for at least a half an hour or overnight if you are prepping ahead.
  3. Slice your baguette thin on a bias, drizzle them with olive oil, salt and pepper and place them on a cookie sheet.  Place them in the oven on 400F and toast them up until they are golden.  You want them to get crunchy but not so hard that they turn to stone.
  4. When you are almost ready to serve, slice the fresh mozzarella into thin slices that fit perfectly onto each slice of toasted bread.  
  5. Place one slice of mozzarella on each piece of bread and then top with a heaping spoonful of the marinated tomatoes. Finish with a drizzle of balsamic or balsamic reduction if you would like (I like to use the fig balsamic that is discussed in the next recipe below).

Balsamic Fig & Havarti Crostini

Ingredients-

  1. Fresh, Ripe Black Mission Figs
  2. Balsamic Vinegar (good quality)
  3. Havarti Cheese
  4. Fresh Sage (chiffonade- chopped in very fine slices)
  5. Salt & Pepper
  6. Baguette (or whatever bread you like)

Steps-

  1. Slice the figs into 1/4 inch slices starting at the top by the stem.  Place the figs in a small bowl and pour the balsamic vinegar over the top so that they are soaking in the vinegar.
  2. Cover and place in the fridge for at least 3 hours or overnight.  I even like to do this step 2 or 3 days in advance because the figs really marinate in the vinegar and also end up infusing the vinegar which is great for drizzling over your crostini or on your salad.
  3. Slice your baguette thin on a bias, drizzle them with olive oil, salt and pepper and place them on a cookie sheet.  Place them in the oven on 400F and toast them up until they are golden.  You want them to get crunchy but not so hard that they turn to stone. Leave the oven on.
  4. When you are almost ready to serve, slice the Havarti cheese into thin slices that fit perfectly onto each slice of toasted bread.  Place a slice of cheese onto each piece of bread and then put them on a sheet pan and place them back in the oven just until the cheese melts.
  5. Take them out of the oven and sprinkle each one with a little of the fresh chopped sage.
  6. Place one slice of marinated fig onto each crostini and drizzle each one with a little more of the fig infused balsamic.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and you are ready to serve!

Summer Lovin Salad- Fava Beans, Sugar Snap Peas, Watercress, Mint Vinaigrette & Manchego Cheese

 

We are in the final days of Spring and sailing right into summertime which to me means sunshine, the beach, relaxing in the park and...the BEST fruits and vegetables are in season!  This salad is the perfect addition to your summer BBQ or dinner party menu.  It is light, refreshing, crisp and very unique in flavor and appearance.  It is unique in that it doesn't have your typical ingredients like Romaine, Arugula or Iceberg.  It uses three things that are in season right now and they are Fava Beans, Watercress and Sugar Snap Peas.  Fava beans are not a common ingredient for most households but they should be! They are beautiful to look at and have a creamy, but crisp texture and almost a cheesy, earthy flavor that goes perfect with my mint vinaigrette and the Manchego cheese. 

Ingredients-

1  1/2 Cups Shucked Fava Beans

3/4 Lb Sugar Snap Peas Washed Throughly

1/2 Cup Watercress Leaves (remove the large tough stems)

1/3 Cup Pearl Onions (frozen and thawed)- You can use fresh as well but make sure you cook them through.

White Sugar (just a dash or two)

Manchego Cheese (Using a potato peeler or mandolin shave long thin strips of cheese and set aside)

Dressing-

1/4-1/3 Cup Fresh Mint Leaves

Juice of half a Lemon

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Canola Oil

1/2 Teaspoon Honey (you can always add more if the dressing is too bitter)

1 Heaping Tablespoon of Dijon Mustard

1 Small Clove of Garlic

Salt and Pepper to taste

Steps-

First prepare the dressing by blending the Mint, Dijon, Lemon Juice, Garlic, Honey, a dash of salt and pepper and a drizzle of both olive oil and canola oil (using a blend of oils prevents the dressing from being too bitter) in a food processor or blender.   Add more oil a little at a time until it reaches the consistency of a vinaigrette or lite dressing  Add more salt and pepper if needed. Seal in a container and set aside in the fridge to let the flavors meld together.

The Salad-

Remove and discard the stem and natural "string" from each Sugar Snap Pea Pod. Set aside. 

Fill a large bowl of water with ice and water and set aside. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil and then drop the Sugar Snap Peas in the water.  Boil them in the water for 2 minutes only and then using a slotted spoon remove them from the water and place them in the bowl of ice water to shock them.  This helps them retain their color and crunch and cooks them ever so slightly.  Once they are cooled in the ice water remove them and dry them off on paper towels (set aside).

Do the same thing with the shucked Fava Beans but for about 3-4 minutes or until tender. Drain and shock in the ice water then remove the outer skin gently.  Try not to break up the beans you want them to hold their beautiful shape.

In a small frying pan, place the peeled pearl onions and sprinkle them with a little white sugar.  Cook on medium heat rolling them around and coating them with the sugar until the onions caramelize/brown and they are cooked and heated through.  Set aside.  

Toss the Fava Beans together in a large bowl with the Snap Peas, pearl onions and the cleaned Watercress.

Dress the Salad with a little vinaigrette at a time, making sure you coat each pea and bean evenly but do not over dress.  

Spoon the salad onto a serving dish and then take a few shavings of the Manchego Cheese and lay it on top as shown in my photo.  You can also just shave the cheese and toss it with the salad!  

Enjoy!



"Gagoots & Eggs"- Zucchini & Eggs

Italian Americans have quite a Rolodex of slang terms especially when it comes to foods. Whether it be mootsadell (mozzarella), proschoot (prosciutto), manigot (manicotti) we've got a name for everything! One of my grandmother's famous dishes also happens to have one of the funniest names, and it is called "Gagoots and Eggs" or (Zucchini and Eggs).  "Gagoots" comes from the word "cucuzza" which is a word for squash in the Italian language. This recipes has just a few simple ingredients and is the perfect lunch/dinner time sandwich, or side dish with meat or fish, or just a great afternoon snack. You can ask my grandma, this simple dish is such a crowd pleasure that all 10 of her grandchildren have her hovering over the stove frying up pounds and pounds of zucchini so they can all get a taste. My gagoots brings the kids to the yard and they're like it's betta than yours... 
 

Feeds 2-3 people

Ingredients- 

  1. 4 medium to large zucchini (leave the skin on just cut the ends off)
  2. 4 eggs beaten and set aside
  3. Canola/vegetable oil
  4. Extra virgin olive oil
  5. Salt and pepper
  6. Bread of your choice (I like a baguette or any Italian bread)


Steps-

  1. Using a mandolin or sharp knife, slice the zucchini in very thin rounds. The mandolin is a great tool because it takes about 1 minute to slice the whole zucchini,  and it slices it paper thin, which is what you want. 
  2. Next, pour equal parts of canola oil and extra virgin olive oil in a large frying pan until the oil completely coats the bottom of the pan. You want about 1/8 inch-1/4 inch of oil in the pan. 
  3. Heat the oil on medium heat until it gets hot enough where it sizzles and little when you put in a piece of zucchini. The key to this is you want the zucchini to brown and cook evenly. Once the oil is hot. Place a single layer of zucchini flat around the pan in the oil. Let it cook until it gets golden brown and then flip each piece with tongs or a fork and cook on the other side until it browns. Once It's brown and cooked on both sides, using a slotted spoon or tongs take the zucchini out and place it onto paper towels to drain some oil out. Sprinkle them with a little salt and pepper while they are hot so it sticks. 
  4. Repeat the frying process until all the zucchini is cooked. In between each batch add more oil if you need to or it will burn.
  5. Once all the zucchini is fried wipe out the excess oil and grease felt the pan. Add a little more clean olive oil to the pan just about a tablespoon or so just to cost the pan and place it on medium heat.
  6. Pour all the browned zucchini back into the pan And spread it out evenly. Pour the beaten eggs over the top of the zucchini and let it sit a few seconds. When you see the eggs are starting to cook use a wooden spoon and stir the mixture all around as if you were making scrambled eggs and let the eggs cook and meld with the zucchini.
  7. Once the eggs are cooked and everything is blended together, pour the zucchini and eggs into a bowls and add a little more salt and pepper to taste.
  8. You can now eat it as is or put it on some nice warm, toasty Italian bread. 





Chicken and the Egg Soup

I know it's almost summer and the temperature is rising, but no matter what time of year, who doesn't love a nice bowl of homemade chicken soup! When I am sick, stressed or just in need of some TLC, chicken soup always delivers!  It just nurtures the body and soul from the inside out! Growing up my mom made homemade chicken soup pretty often, but she always put her own spin on.  The base of the soup is traditional, but we add some spinach leaves and beaten egg into the soup to give it an amazing egg drop soup consistency to it as well. I add some leeks to the mirepoix because they have such a rich, wonderful flavor to them that is less harsh then a traditional onion.  This is one of those one pot meals that you can throw together, set on the stove, get some chores done and then sit down to enjoy it..no fuss!

  1.  Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  2. 32 oz Low Sodium Chicken Stock
  3. 1  1/2  Cups Chopped Carrots (peeled) 
  4. 1  1/2 Cups Chopped Celery
  5. 1 leek finely chopped  (clean it thoroughly and cut of the top dark green part of the leaves)
  6. 1/2 large Vidalia onion chopped
  7. 2 Bay Leaves
  8. 2 Sprigs Fresh Thyme
  9. 1/3 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes (optional)
  10. 1 Tablespoon Fresh Parsley Chopped
  11. 2 Large Garlic Cloves Minced
  12. 1 Whole Raw Chicken (cleaned, gizzards removed)

  13. Salt and Pepper

  14. 1 packet (or cube) chicken bouillon powder

  15. About 4 Cups water

  16. 2 Cups of Spinach Leaves coarsely chopped (you can use baby spinach but I prefer the large spinach leaves.  Make sure you remove the thick stems)
  17. 2 Eggs beaten

Parmesan Cheese (optional)

  

Cooked Egg Noodles, Orzo, Ditallini Pasta, Elbow Pasta, Small Pasta Shells (whatever you like!) (optional)

 Steps-

  1. Drizzle 1-2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil into a large pot and heat on medium low.
  2. Drop in the chopped leek, Vidalia (or white) onion, bay leaves and Red Pepper Flakes and sweat for about 5 minutes to release the flavors.
  3. Add the chopped Carrots, Celery and minced Garlic and stir to combine.  Cook on medium low heat about 5-7 minutes or until the flavors come together.
  4. Add a dash of Salt and Pepper and the whole sprigs of thyme.
  5. Place the whole chicken in the pot and pour in the chicken stock.
  6. Sprinkle the chicken bouillon into the 4 cups of hot water and stir to dissolve.
  7. Pour the water/bouillon mixture into the pot with the chicken and vegetables.
  8. Bring the mixture to a boil and then cover and simmer on medium low heat for an hour and a half.
  9. After roughly 90 minutes, remove the chicken from the pot and shred I using tongs or your fingers.  Be careful it will be hot!!
  10. Place all the shredded chicken meat back into the pot with the soup and discard the bones. Remove the Thyme sprigs and Bay leaves from the soup and discard.
  11. Add the spinach leaves and parsley to the soup and stir until the leaves wilt. 
  12. Take the two beaten eggs and while whisking or making a beating motion with a fork in the soup, carefully pour in the raw beaten eggs into the soup.  You want the soup to have a slight fogginess but not have huge chunks of scrambled egg, that is why it is important for the liquid to be moving (by the motion of a whisk or fork) while pouring in the egg.
  13. Let the soup simmer for about 5 more minutes then serve!  If you want to have noodles or pasta in the soup, keep them separate and scoop a little pasta into each persons bowl.  Keeping the pasta separate is important because if you put it in the soup it will absorb all the liquid.
  14. Scoop some pasta into each persons bowl, pour in some soup, grate some fresh Parmesan cheese over top and enjoy!

"Angeled Eggs"

AKA Beet and Pomegranate Deviled Eggs

Theyre just too pretty and too healthy to be called Deviled Eggs!

People ask me all the time how I come up with my recipes and my honest answer is I dream about them! Sometimes I have food daydreams that are so detailed and so vivid that I am starting to feel like I am a food psychic, if that even makes sense. This recipe came to me in one of those daydreams.  In my dream I started picturing these beautiful red deviled eggs, which got me wondering how they got red in the first place.  I wanted the eggs to become red in a natural way so I thought of two of my favorite ingredients, beets and pomegranates.  Both have the natural ability to dye foods a vibrant color (and also your hands so watch out), and are also full of nutrients.  The beets give the egg yolk mixture a wonderful earthly flavor as well as some moisture which makes it creamy with no fattening mayo added.  The juicy pomegranate seeds burst in your mouth when you bite into the eggs, cutting through the richness and giving the eggs a fresh finish. These are the perfect edition to your Memorial Day or summer time BBQ!

 

Recipe Feeds about 4-6 people (I estimate everyone at a party will have at least 2 halves or one whole egg)

Ingredients-

  1. 6 Whole Hard-boiled Eggs
  2. 1 Teaspoon Dijon Mustard
  3. 1/3 of a Small Shallot
  4. 1 Teaspoon Honey
  5. ½ Cup Canned Red Beets Chopped (reserve the liquid the beets come in a set aside)
  6. 1/2 Teaspoon White Wine Vinegar ( You can put more if you like more of a vinegar taste)
  7. Dash of Salt & Pepper
  8. 1 Pomegranate (you will only need the seeds so cut the pomegranate in half and gently pop out the seeds)
  9. Fresh Parsley finely chopped (you can also use mint)

Steps-

  1. Using a sharp knife, slice the eggs in half lengthwise.  Scoop out the yolks gently so you don’t break apart the whites of the egg, and place the hard-boiled yolks into the bowl of a food processor or blender. Set the egg whites aside on a plate.
  2. Blend together the egg yolks, Dijon, shallot, honey, beets, vinegar and salt and pepper until creamy.  If the mixture is too thick add a few drops of the reserved beet juice until you reach the desired consistency and texture.  You want it thick, but still very creamy.
  3. Evenly scoop heaping teaspoons of the egg/beet mixture into the egg white halves.
  4. Garnish with some parsley and about 3-4 pomegranate seeds per egg half.
  5. Serve and enjoy! 

Pomegranate & Beet Salad with Spiced Walnuts, Arugula Pesto & Goat Cheese

There is something about beets that I have just grown to LOVE.  Fresh, roasted beets have this great earthy flavor, and a wonderful burst of sweetness.  The color of beets is so vibrant and beautiful that it brings life to any dish.  The pomegranate juice reduction, the spicy and savory walnuts and the “basil-less” pesto are three very unique flavor components.  The arugula pesto has a grassy, garlicky taste that mirrors the earthy taste of the beets without overpowering them, as a basil pesto may do.  When you assemble this dish just right, preferably on a neutral, solid colored plate, you will see an artistic, culinary masterpiece form before your eyes.  Your guests will be very impressed by your restaurant quality starter course, trust me!

Recipe feeds about 4 people (as a side or as a starter course)

Beets-

Ingredients

  1. About 3 cups of sliced beets (Fresh beets that are thoroughly washed,  peeled and sliced into ½ inch thick rounds)
  2. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  3. ½ Cup of fresh pomegranate juice (about 1.5 pomegranates if you are squeezing your own) (Tip: If you are using fresh, remove the seeds from the pomegranate, pulse them in a food processor and then strain it so you remove the seeds and are left with the juice!)
  4. The seeds from half a fresh pomegranate (to garnish the salad..its a must!)
  5. Orange Peel (use a vegetable peeler to peel off a 1 inch x 1 inch piece of orange zest)   
  6. 1 ½ Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
  7. 2 ½ Tablespoons Dark Brown Sugar
  8. 1 Sprig of Fresh Thyme
  9. 2-3 oz Goat Cheese

Arugula Pesto (See recipe below)

Savory Spiced Walnuts (See recipe below)

 

First make the spiced nuts-

Savory Spiced Walnuts-

  1. ¾ Cups Walnuts
  2. 1 Tablespoon Butter
  3. 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
  4. Dash of Cayenne Pepper
  5. Dash of Ground Ginger
  6. Dash of Salt
  7. Pinch of Black Pepper

Steps-

  1. In a medium skillet melt the butter on the stove. Add all the remaining ingredients and toss the nuts until they are evenly coated. 
  2. Cook the walnuts on medium-low heat until they are toasted and fragrant.
  3. Spread the nuts out evenly on some aluminum foil and let them cool and dry out completely.

 

Next start the beets!

Steps-

  1. Preheat your oven to 400F
  2. Toss the peeled/sliced beets in a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper and lay them flat on a sheet pan.
  3. Roast them in the oven about 45 minutes or until tender.  Be sure to check them half way through the cooking time and flip them over with a spatula so they cook evenly.
  4. Remove them from the oven but do not shut the oven off.
  5. In a small saucepan heat the butter, pomegranate juice, brown sugar, thyme leaves, orange peel and a pinch of salt and a dash of pepper.
  6. Heat on medium heat whisking occasionally until the mixture reduces by about 2/3.  You want it to turn into a syrup like consistency.
  7. After the mixture reduces, toss in the beets and coat them completely in the sauce.
  8. Using a slotted spoon remove the beets from the syrup and allow the excess sauce to drip off.  The syrup is fairly sweet so you don’t want it to be too overwhelming.  Place the coated beets back onto the sheet pan and roast in the oven again from 7-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.

While the beets are cooling slightly, make the pesto.

Arugula Pesto-

  1. 1 ½ Cups Fresh Arugula
  2. 4-5 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  3. ½ Clove Garlic
  4. A dash of salt and pepper
  5. 2 Tablespoons Walnuts

Steps-

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until it is a smooth, creamy texture. Set aside.

Next, assemble the salad!

Steps-

  1. Spread a nice layer of the arugula pesto onto your serving dish (or on individual salad plates).
  2. Nicely lay the pomegranate glazed beets on top of the pesto.
  3. Sprinkle some of the savory spiced walnuts on top, and then finish the dish with crumbles of the creamy, tangy goat cheese and a few tablespoons of the fresh pomegranate seeds.
  4. If you would like, you can garnish with some fresh thyme leaves and a little sea salt.

 

Cranberry Goat Cheese Tart

We are just 12 days away from the most anticipated holiday of the year…Christmas!  Over the next two weeks you may be attending a multitude of holiday parties and get-togethers that will require you to bring along something edible.  As fun and exciting as this season is, it can also be incredibly stressful due to the overwhelming crowds of people in the stores, the excessive amounts of money we all spend on gifts and decorations, and the question of what do we serve our guests for holiday dinner?  Here is a simple appetizer recipe that is beautiful, tasty and a crowd favorite! I top store bought puff pastry dough with a homemade cranberry, onion and balsamic chutney, creamy goat cheese and crunchy walnuts.

Cranberry Balsamic Chutney-

Ingredients-

  1. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  2. 1/4 cup finely minced shallots
  3. 1 bag (12 ounces) fresh cranberries, rinsed 
  4. 1 cup sugar
  5. 2-3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  6. Coarse salt and ground pepper
  7. ½ Teaspoon Fresh thyme leaves

 

  1. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium-low. Add shallots; cook, stirring occasionally, until shallots are softened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add cranberries, thyme,  sugar, vinegar, and 1 cup water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, stirring often, until most of the berries have burst and mixture has thickened, 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Season with salt and pepper and cool to room temp.

Note: You can use the extra chutney for baked brie, eat it with chicken, on sandwiches like gourmet grilled cheeses and even on traditional turkey clubs.

For the Tart-

Ingredients-

  1. One sheet of frozen puff pastry dough (thawed)
  2. 4 ounces creamy chevre goat cheese
  3. ½ cup roughly chopped walnuts
  4. Honey
  5. Salt and pepper 
  6. Fresh Thyme leaves (garnish)

Steps-

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F
  2. Spray a tart pan with nonstick cooking spray. You want to use a pan with a removable bottom so you can easily remove the tart from the pan.  I use a rectangular pan that is roughly 11 inches x 8.5 inches.
  3. Roll out the sheet of thawed puff pastry and press it into your tart pan so it comes up the sides of the pan and is even throughout.
  4. Poke the dough with a fork all over to prevent it from bubbling up when it cooks.
  5. Place the tart in the oven until it is slightly golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. IF you notice that the tart is starting to bubble up poke it again with the fork.
  6. Remove from the oven.
  7. Evenly spread a thin layer of the cranberry chutney on the tart crust.  I like to have about a ¼ inch thick layer of chutney.  Note: You will not use all of the chutney
  8. Crumble all of the goat cheese evenly around the entire tart.
  9. Sprinkle with the walnut pieces, salt and pepper and a drizzle of honey.
  10. Bake in the oven until the edges of the crust are golden brown, the cheese starts to melt and the nuts start to toast.
  11. It is important to make sure the center of the tart is crispy on the bottom or it will be soggy and hard to cut and serve.
  12. Sprinkle a few extra thyme leaves over the top to add color and flavor.
  13. Cut into rectangular slices and serve! 

Peanut Butter Hot Wings

Like many Americans, I have a serious addiction to peanut butter!  It is thick, nutty, earthy, sweet, creamy, sometimes crunchy and always delicious.  I eat peanut butter on bread with jelly or Nutella, put a spoonful of it in my oatmeal, blend some with yogurt and fruit in a smoothie, make cakes and cookies with it, even eat it plain on a spoon while watching TV, and oh yeah…I put it on chicken wings.  You may be thinking oh my, this girl has lost her marbles, but oh you are so wrong.  The creamy texture and nutty, semi-sweet flavors of the natural peanut butter combined with the spicy, tangy and slightly acidic hot sauce is nothing short of perfection. I bread my wings in Panko crumbs to give them the perfect amount of crunch when you bite into them.  The Panko breadcrumbs get nice and golden brown in color and make the wings look spectacular.  If you serve these babies at your next Super Bowl party or as an appetizer for an upcoming dinner party during the holidays, trust me you will be the talk of the party.  

Have you recently tried one of my recipes?  Share your feedback with me in the comments section below each recipe or tweet me @gotroomformore.  Instagram me a picture of your Got Room For More dish! 

Danielle’s Peanut Butter Wing Sauce-

(Makes enough sauce to coat about 20-30 small wings…depending on how much sauce you like!)

Ingredients-

  1. 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  2. 2/3 Cup Louisiana Style Hot Sauce (any hot sauce will do such as Franks Red Hot)
  3. 1 Medium Shallot Finely Chopped
  4. 1 Clove Garlic Minced
  5. 3 Tablespoons Dark Brown Sugar
  6. 1/3 Cup Creamy Natural Salted Peanut Butter 
  7. 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
  8. 1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce
  9. 1-2 Teaspoons Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
  10. Pinch salt and Pepper (be careful with the salt it may be salty enough)

Steps-

  1. In a medium pot pour in the olive oil, shallot and garlic and sauté until translucent.
  2. Pour in the Hot Sauce and stir until combined.
  3. Whisk in the brown sugar, natural peanut butter, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, and lime juice.
  4. Cook on low heat until all the flavors come together.
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste but be careful it may be salty enough.
  6. Set aside and allow the flavors to meld together off the heat while you cook the chicken.

Baked Chicken Wings-

  1. Salt & Pepper
  2. Paprika
  3. Onion Powder
  4. Mustard Powder

Steps-

Preheat your oven on convection setting on 400F (or 425F on Bake setting). 

Sprinkle the wings with a nice dusting of all the spices. There is no real measurement for this, just give it a nice coating. 

Place the wings on a wire rack sprayed with non-stick cooking spray and then place the rack on a sheet pan to catch the drippings. Line the pan with foil to reduce your mess. 

Bake for about 20 minutes then remove from the oven and lightly baste each wing with a little bit of sauce. 

Place them back in the oven for another 5-7 minutes or until they are fully cooked and golden brown. 

Toss them in the remaining sauce and serve! 

 

For the less healthy but crispier version-

Fried Chicken Wings –

Ingredients-

  1. A mixture of small wings and drumettes (small drum sticks).  You can also just use regular size drum sticks (You will wants a few per person depending on if you are serving this as an appetizer or entrée)
  2. Plain Panko Breadcrumbs
  3. Eggs
  4. Peanut Oil (or Canola) (Enough to fill up a large pot half way. I use a Dutch Oven style pot.)
  5. Salt & Pepper
  6. Cayenne Pepper

 

Steps-

  1. Heat the peanut oil in a deep pot until it reaches about 360F or when you drop a piece of breadcrumb in the oil it bubbles up and turns golden brown.
  2. While the oil is heating, beat a few eggs in a shallow dish.  In a separate dish pour in your Panko, a couple dashes of cayenne pepper, black pepper and salt. Mix together so the spices are evenly distributed.
  3. Dip the chicken wings and drumsticks into the beaten egg and then roll them in the panko crumbs so they are fully coated. 
  4. Drop 4 to 5 pieces of chicken (if they are small) into the hot oil at a time.  Allow the chicken pieces to get nice and brown and crispy in the hot oil and cook all the way through.  This will take about 8-10 minutes for small wings and drumettes and 12-14 for large drums.  Remove the cooked pieces of chicken from the oil with a slotted spoon and place them on paper towels to soak up the excess oil. Do not put in too many at a time or they wont get brown or cook properly.  If you are making a lot of wings you can keep them warm in a 200F oven on a cookie sheet.
  5. Toss the wings in my peanut butter wing sauce and enjoy!!

 

Pumpkin Soup with Crispy Sage Leaves

I’ve said it before, but there is nothing like a meal full of pumpkin and sweet and savory spices in the month of October.  As the temperature starts to drop and we start to retrieve our coats and scarves from storage, there’s nothing more comforting than a hot bowl of soup.  Since Halloween is quickly approaching, and you’re going to need a festive food to eat while you watch Hocus Pocus (I know you love it), I have developed the perfect Pumpkin Soup recipe for you.  It’s my own “witches brew” full of aromatic spices and rich, pungent flavors.  A creative and impressive way to serve this soup at your Halloween party or even Thanksgiving dinner, is to hallow out small pumpkins, ladle in the soup and have your guests eat right out of the pumpkins!

 

 

Recipe Feeds 2 People

Ingredients-

  1. 1 Tablespoon of raw bacon chopped fine
  2. 1/3 Cup White Onion Finely Chopped
  3. ½ Tablespoon Butter
  4. 1 Clove of Garlic Minced
  5. 1 Bay Leaf (leave it whole.  It is just a flavoring agent)
  6. 1 Cup Chicken Stock
  7. 2 Sage Leaves (Plus a few more for Garnish- optional)
  8. ¾ Cup Pumpkin Puree
  9. ½ Honey Crisp Apple or Macintosh Apple (peeled and diced)
  10. 1 ½ Teaspoons Dark Brown Sugar
  11. ¼ Teaspoon Cinnamon
  12. Dash of Ground Ginger
  13. Dash of Nutmeg
  14. 1 ½ Teaspoons Maple Syrup (optional-you may like it less sweet)
  15.  Salt & Pepper to taste
  16. ½ Cup Milk
  17. Garnish with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt, sour cream or creme fraiche

Steps-

  1. Heat a medium saucepan on medium heat.  When the pot is hot put the chopped bacon in the pot.
  2. Allow the bacon fat to render and for the bacon to brown and get crispy.  Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon and set it aside (use it as garnish later).  Leave the fat in the pot.
  3. Add the butter to the pot on medium-low heat.  When the butter melts add the chopped onions, whole bay leaf and garlic and sauté until soft and translucent. 
  4. Add the chicken stock, pumpkin puree and sage leaves.  Bring it to a simmer, stirring periodically.
  5. While the mixture is simmering, place the chopped apple in a microwavable dish and microwave it on high for 3-5 minutes or until soft and mushy.
  6. Add the cooked apple, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, maple syrup, salt and pepper to the pot with the pumpkin mixture.
  7. Allow to simmer with the lid on for 10-15 minutes to bring the flavors together.
  8. Remove from the heat and using an immersion hand blender or a regular blender, blend the soup until it is silky and smooth.  Pour the mixture back into the pot.
  9. Add the milk to the pumpkin mixture and simmer for another 5-10 minutes or so.
  10. Remove from the heat and serve! I heat up some olive oil in a pan on high heat and then fry up some sage leaves in it.  The sage gets crispy like a chip and acts as a great garnish on top of the soup.  You can also put a dollop of crème fraiche or sour cream and a drizzle of honey, or even some toasted pumpkin seeds!  The opportunities are endless.