Snacks

Turk-Ish Yogurt Parfaits

I have been named the "Brunch Queen" by my friends, family and clients, but with this reign comes a lot of pressure. I am constantly having to come up with new and innovative brunch dishes that will keep my guests excited.  This dish all started with my love for dried Turkish Apricots.  These apricots are the perfect amount of chewy and juicy and have a sweet but floral taste to them. Some of the classic Turkish desserts involve honey, rose essence, pistachios and spices so I decided to take these flavors and combine them into the perfect savory but sweet parfait. The good quality extra virgin olive oil I use in the granola just add this rich, savory element to the dish that is perfect with the sweet honey and apricots. 

 

Ingredients-

  • 3 Cups Plain Greek Yogurt (I prefer 0% fat Fage)
  • Rose Extract (only a few drops)
  • Clover Honey
  • Turkish Dried Apricots (or any apricots dried or fresh)

Pistachio Olive Oil Granola-

  • 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 ½ cups raw pistachios, hulled
  • 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds, hulled
  • 1 cup coconut flakes ( I prefer the unsweetened coconut chips)
  • ¾ cup pure maple syrup
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4  teaspoon ground cardamom (optional)

Preheat oven to 300F degrees.

  1. In a large bowl, combine oats, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, coconut chips, maple syrup, olive oil, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and cardamom.
  2. Spread mixture on a rimmed baking sheet in an even layer and bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until golden brown and well toasted. Store in an airtight container or mason jars if you do not use all of it right away.

Assembling the parfaits-

  1. Choose the parfait glasses or bowls you would like to assemble the parfaits in and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the Greek yogurt with just 2-3 drops of Rose Extract.  If you prefer a stronger rose flavor add more to your liking. Note that it is very strong and can be overpowering, you want the flavor to come through but subtly.
  3. Scoop a few tablespoons of the rose infused yogurt into each parfait cup. Drizzle the yogurt with clover honey, sprinkle it with a few pieces of the chopped apricots and the Pistachio Granola.
  4. Repeat the layers as many times as you like! Be sure to have the top layer include the granola, apricots and a nice drizzle of honey.  Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Granola Bars

 

New Year, new me right? Dieting is not my forte because I love sweets! I created a granola bar recipe that is overall pretty healthy and truly satisfies my sweet tooth.  The toasted oats, flax and nuts combined with the honey and almond butter give these bars such a warm, comforting and rich flavor. They are the perfect afternoon pick me up and an easy way to get yourself out of bed in the morning.  Make the batch on a Sunday and enjoy them all week long. You'll never get sick of these because you can change up the mix-ins up as you wish! Maybe try dried apricots and candied ginger, or how about a cinnamon and dried blueberry with yogurt chips! Make your own variation and get featured on our Instagram! @gotroomformore or facebook.com/gotroomformore 

 

Ingredients-

  1. 2 Cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  2. 1/2 Cup Slivered Almonds (not sliced, slivered- you can also used chopped whole almonds) 
  3. 3 Tablespoons Flax Seed
  4. 6 ounces honey, approximately 1/2 cup
  5. 3 Tablespoons Packed Light Brown Sugar 
  6. 2 Tablespoons Coconut oil
  7. 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  8. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  9. 2 Heaping Tablespoons of Almond Butter ( My favorite is the Classic flavor from The Nutty Spoon https://thenuttyspoon.squarespace.com/) You can order online! 
  10. 6 1/2 ounces chopped dried fruit, any combination of apricots, cherries or blueberries ( I used Dried Cherries)
  11. 2 Tablespoons Cocoa Nibs (I used dark chocolate coated nibs from Trader Joes but you can just use raw nibs if you like)

(Feel free to put in any mix ins that you like! Use different nuts like cashews or even put in some unsweetened coconut or sunflower seeds! )

Steps-

  1. Line a 9 by 9-inch baking dish with parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.(you can use a square dish too and have them a bit thicker) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Spread the oats and almonds onto a half-sheet pan. Place the flax seed on a separate sheet pan. Place pans in the oven and toast for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Flax seeds may be faster depending on your oven so check on them frequently! You just want them lightly toasted and aromatic. 
  3. In the meantime, combine the honey, brown sugar, coconut oil, vanilla extract and salt in a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook until the brown sugar has completely dissolved. Stir in the Almond Butter just until it is melted and incorporated. 
  4. Once the oat mixture is done, remove it from the oven and reduce the heat to 300 degrees F. Immediately add the oat mixture to the liquid mixture, add the dried fruit, and stir to combine. Turn mixture out into the prepared baking dish and press down, evenly distributing the mixture in the dish. Sprinkle the cocoa nibs over the top and and place a piece of parchment on top and press down to ensure the mixture doesn’t stick to your hands. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely (will take a few hours or so). Cut into squares (or whatever shape you like) and store in an airtight container for up to a week.

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.

Dark Chocolate Coconut Oatmeal Cookies

A massive blizzard named "Juno" was to hit New York City causing streets to be closed, subways to be suspended and millions of people trapped in their tiny apartments.  For me this is one of my guilty pleasures, mostly because my mother used to make Snow Days super special.  I have so many vivid memories of my sisters and I standing in the kitchen watching the snow pile up outside while we were elbow deep in dough.  Sometimes it was pizza dough, sometimes it was a sweet braided bread we called "Daisy Bread," and other times it was just chocolate chip cookies.  Even though the view out my window is now a brick wall and my mother is an hour away, I still keep these traditions alive.  While stuck inside with my lovely roommate Kristen watching bad reality television, we decided cookies were just what the weather man ordered.  I rummaged through my fridge and pantry to find 3 of my favorite ingredients: Chocolate, Coconut and Oats...and that is how these insanely delicious cookies were born.  They are crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside and the unsweetened coconut gives them this wonderful flavor and interesting texture.  These are a must try! Oh and if you are wondering about the blizzard, we woke up to a measly 6 inches on the ground, so here I am with an excess of eggs, milk, water and cookies but its off to work I go.  Oh well!

 

Ingredients-

  1. 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  2. ½ teaspoon baking soda
  3. ½ teaspoon baking powder
  4. 3/4 teaspoon salt
  5. 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still cool
  6. 1 cup dark brown sugar
  7. 1 cup white granulated sugar
  8. 2 large eggs
  9. 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  10. 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  11. 1½ cups Ghiardelli Bittersweet 60% Chocolate Chips (They are larger than normal chocolate chips. You can also use dark chocolate chunks or baking bars and chop into chunks)
  12. 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (I use Bob's Red Mill brand)

Steps-

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F; adjust oven racks to middle positions. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a small bowl; set aside.

3. Cream together the butter and both sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes using a stand mixer or hand beater. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and then mix in the vanilla. 

4.  Slowly stir in the flour mixture, then stir in the oats, chocolate chips and shredded coconut. Do not overheat, just mix until everything is evenly distributed.

5. Using 1  1/2  to 2 heaping tablespoons per cookie, roll the dough into balls and place on the cookie sheets, spacing them at least 2 inches apart (I use a small ice cream scoop used for cookie dough). Bake until the cookie edges are golden brown, but the middles are still quite pale, about 15-20 minutes depending on your oven. Rotate the sheets from front to back and top to bottom halfway through the baking time. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool for at least 30 minutes. With these cookies they are actually better after they have cooled for an hour or so! They are crisp yet chewy and so flavorful and delicious! You can even sprinkle some large granualted decorative sugar on top of the dough to give it a shimmery effect like below. :)

The Best Banana Bread

Ingredients

 

  1.         ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  2.         ¼ cup vegetable oil
  3.         1 cup white granulated sugar
  4.         ½ cup packed dark brown sugar
  5.         2 eggs
  6.         1½ cups mashed ripe bananas (I use 3 medium well-ripened bananas)
  7.         ½ cup sour cream
  8.         1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  9.         2 cups flour
  10.         1 teaspoon baking soda
  11.         ½ teaspoon salt
  12.         1 heaping cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips 
  13.         Additional brown sugar for the top 

Steps-

  1.         Mix together butter, oil, sugars and eggs.
  2.         Add mashed bananas, sour cream and vanilla, stirring together well.
  3.         Mix together the flour, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl and then add it slowly to the banana mixture.
  4.         Pour into 1 greased large loaf pan or into greased muffin tins or muffin tins lined with paper liners
  5.         Sprinkle additional brown sugar generously over top of batter
  6.         Bake at 325 degrees: large loaf pan for about 1 hour, for muffins around 25 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick comes out of the center clean.
  7.         Allow bread to cool in pans for about 20 minutes, then run a sharp knife around the edges, tap the pan on the counter several times to release the bread from the bottom of the pan, then invert pan over a wire rack and let the bread fall onto the rack to finish cooling completely.

 

Sweet Arancini- Fried Rice Pudding Balls


One year ago I was on the beautiful island of Sicily with my big, loud, Italian family.  There are many dishes that are specific to the Sicilian culture that I grew up eating, and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the “real thing.”  Canolis, Eggplant Caponata, Cassata Cake, Fig Cookies and of course Arancini.  Arancini are a popular street food in Sicily, so common that you can even purchase them at a gas station convenience store. Arancini are these dense, creamy, cheesy, fried rice balls that are often stuffed with things like ham, peas, ground beef and tomato sauce.  The Sicilians make these so well, that even when you purchase them from a sketchy “mini-mart” chances are they are still going to be down right delicioso.  I decided to reinvent Arancini and combine them with another classic rice dish, Rice Pudding.  My Sweet Arancini are crunchy, creamy bundles of gooey, rice pudding, coated in a blanket of delicious graham cracker crumbs and fried to perfection.  These bella balls are not complete without their silky, tangy Apricot and Peach dipping sauce.  Make these for your next soiree and I promise you everyone will not be able to take their hands off your rice balls.

 

 Ingredients-

  1. 2 cups water
  2. 1 cup  Arborio rice
  3. 2 1/2 cups whole milk (you can use any milk but whole works the best)
  4. 1/4 cup sugar
  5. 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  6. 1 egg
  7. Dash of Cinnamon
  8. Pinch of Nutmeg
  9. 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  10. 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  11. 2-3 eggs beaten
  12. 1 1/2 Cups Graham Cracker Crumbs- you may use a little less or more (you can buy the crumbs in a box in the baking isle or by the breadcrumbs or just crush plain graham crackers in a food processor)
  13. Canola Oil or Peanut Oil for frying
  14. Confectioners sugar for dusting

 Apricot Peach Dipping sauce-

Ingredients-

  1.  1 Cup Peach Preserves (jam)
  2. 3 Fresh Ripe Apricots (you can use any fruit you like!)
  3. 1 Tablespoon Butter

 Steps-

  1. First make the dipping sauce. Remove the pits from the apricots and chop the flesh into small chunks.
  2. Melt the butter in a small saucepan and add the chopped fruit. Cook down on low heat until some of the juices release from the fruits.
  3. Add the peach preserves and melt down until it thins out and becomes a sauce consistency. You may need to add some water if it is too thick. Place in the fridge until you are ready to use.  If the sauce gets too thick just add a little water and heat it up in a pot or the microwave for a few seconds until it is warm and thins out.

 Rice Balls-

Steps-

  1. In a medium pot, bring the water and rice to a boil. Stir, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the water has been absorbed. Add the milk and bring to a boil. Simmer gently, uncovered, for about 30 minutes, stirring frequently until the rice is tender. Set aside.
  2. In a bowl, combine the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and cornstarch. Add the egg and vanilla and combine with a whisk. Gradually pour this mixture into the rice pudding and cook for about 2 minutes over medium heat, stirring constantly, or until the rice thickens and becomes very sticky like risotto.
  3. Spread the rice in a baking pan or loaf pan and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for about 2 hours or until completely chilled.  This is a great thing to make the day before!  You want the texture to be very thick and gelatinous so you can form balls easily.
  4. Next, preheat the canola oil in the deep fryer on high temperature. Set a wire rack and paper towels aside.
  5. Place the flour, eggs, and graham cracker crumbs in three separate bowls. Set aside.
  6. With your hands, shape each ball of the rice pudding.  You want them to be a little bigger than ping-pong balls, but you can make them as big or as small as you like!  A small 1 1/2 inch ice cream/cookie scoop works well too! When doing them by hand flour your hands to prevent the rice from sticking to you. You can also stuff them with any sweet treat you would like if you wanted!
  7. Dredge the balls in flour and shake to remove any excess. Dip them in eggs and drain. Coat with the graham cracker crumbs.
  8. Fry the pudding balls, a few at a time until they are nicely browned and have a nice crunchy outside, about 2 to 3 minutes. Drain on the baking sheet and paper towels and continue with the remaining balls.
  9. Dust the rice balls with powdered sugar and serve slightly warm with the apricot peach dipping sauce!

 

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!

Fishy Chow: Peanut Butter & Chocolate Coated Pretzel Goldfish

It has been a while since I posted a scrumptious sweet treat!  Now that summer is almost here, you are going to need some good portable snacks to bring with you to the beach or on long car rides!  Ive said this before, but one of my all time favorite flavor combinations is peanut butter and chocolate..I mean unless you are allergic to peanuts, everyone pretty much loves that combo.  When I was at school at Penn State University, tailgating season was a huge production.  Picture 100,000 people flooding the parking lots surrounding the stadium enjoying some cold brewskis and lots and lots of delicious foods.  A popular tailgating snack was “Puppy Chow” or “Muddy Buddies” which is chocolate and peanut butter coated Chex cereal.  It is so yummy and so addicting, I can eat it by the pounds.  I decided to give Puppy Chow a salty sweet twist and replace the Chex with Goldfish Pretzels.  Goldfish pretzels are just fish shaped pretzels that are the perfect size for snacking! Now take a salty crunch pretzel shaped fish and coat it with peanut butter and chocolate..come on now its the bomb.

Ingredients-

  1. 1 & 1/3 Bags of Goldfish Pretzels
  2. 1/2 Cup Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips
  3. 1/4 Cup Creamy Peanut Butter
  4. 3 Tablespoons Butter
  5. 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  6. 1 to 1 1/4 cups Confectioners Sugar

Steps-

  1. Pour the Pretzel Goldfish into a large bowl and set aside.
  2. Place the chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter in a microwavable bowl and microwave for a minute.  Stir and microwave again in 15 second increments until the mixture is completely smooth and the butter and chips are melted. Remove from microwave and stir in the vanilla extract.
  3. Pour the chocolate peanut butter mixture over the Pretzel Goldfish.
  4. Using a rubber spatula carefully mix everything together and get all the Goldfish coated in the chocolate mixture. Be careful not to break up the Pretzels.
  5. Pour the coated Goldfish into a large Ziploc bag and pour in the confectioners sugar.  
  6. Zip the bag closed and shake it until everything is well coated and the Goldfish separate from each other.  If they are all too stuck together add a little more confectioners sugar and shake more.  Note: Some with be stuck together..don’t worry that just means you can eat more at one time :)
  7. Spread the fish onto a sheet pan covered with foil or wax paper and let it dry out for about an hour.  You can eat it right away, but I prefer to let it cool a little.
  8. Seal in a container or a plastic bag and you are good to go!!

"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! 

The Sicilian Breakfast of Champions- Spiced Greek Yogurt with Figs & Almonds

As I have discussed in my previous blog post, it is fig season, and I just can’t help but purchase a box every time I walk past the fruit stand on the corner.  The sweet, honey-like smell they give off when they are ripe, can put one in a state of trance.  After a long workout this morning I started rummaging through the cabinets for something healthy to eat for breakfast.  My friends and family can tell you that I don’t just have a sweet tooth, I’ve got sweet teeth…I just love sweets especially in the morning when I wake up and at night before bed (probably not the best habit).  What’s great about figs and honey, is they have natural sugars, so you’re still satisfying your cravings but not negatively effecting your health.  This super simple recipe can be eaten for breakfast, a lite lunch, or even as a dessert, because that is how delicious it tastes! Go Fig-ure!

It is as simple as this-

Serves 1 Person-

Ingredients-

  1. ¾ Cup Plain Greek Yogurt (I use 0% fat Fage brand)
  2. 3-4 Black Mission Figs (quartered)
  3. 1 - 1  1/2 Tablespoons Slivered Almonds (as much as you prefer)
  4. 1/8 Teaspoon Orange Zest
  5. A Sprinkle of Cinnamon
  6. A Drizzle of Honey

Steps-

  1. Place Greek Yogurt in a bowl.
  2. Top it with the sliced Figs and Slivered Almonds
  3. Evenly sprinkle the Cinnamon and Orange Zest over the top.
  4. Drizzle the honey over the top.
  5. Enjoy and then lick the bowl clean…

Nutella Banana Breakfast Shake

This morning I woke up extra early to get a good workout in before work, and on my way back I began to brainstorm what I would have for breakfast. Hmmm…Nutella and toast?…fruit and yogurt?...a nice cup of coffee for sure…AH HA! Ive got it! I combined some of these delicious elements into one thick, creamy, rather healthy shake, and I was ready to get my day started!  The Greek yogurt and banana in this shake gives it a great thick texture along with that wonderful protein your body needs, and that Nutella…oh that Nutella…it adds that sweet, chocolaty, nutty flavor to the shake, along with some calcium.  I add a hint of instant coffee to this drink to give me a nice energy boost!  This shake couldn’t be easier to make and truly filled me up!  A great meal replacement!

Ingredients-

  1. 1/3 cup plus 1 Tablespoon of Plain Greek Yogurt (0% fat or 2% fat is best.  I used Fage brand)
  2. ½ a Banana
  3. ½ Cup Skim Milk
  4. 1 Heaping Tablespoon of Nutella
  5. A handful of Ice Cubes
  6. ½ Teaspoon Instant Coffee Grounds
  7. Drizzle of Honey 

Steps-

  1. Put all the ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
  2. Pour into a glass and enjoy!

Frog & Peach: Grilled Peaches with Green Tea Ice Cream & Brown Sugar Vanilla Syrup

This dish is inspired by my childhood obsession, frogs, and my favorite fruit, peaches! There is nothing quite like a warm, succulent grilled peach combined with the contrasting flavors of an icy cold scoop of Green Tea Ice Cream.  Of course you can use any Ice Cream flavor you like, but the Green Tea has such a unique, earthy flavor that is mildly sweet, which compliments the sweetness and freshness of the ripened peaches.

 

Ingredients-

  1. 2 Ripe Peaches
  2. ¼ Cup Dark Brown Sugar
  3. 2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
  4. Green Tea Ice Cream (I love Ciao Bella Gelato)

(Feeds about 3 People)

Steps-

  1. Slice the Peaches into wedges and place them into a bowl
  2. Mix the Brown Sugar and Vanilla in with the Peaches and toss them around until they are fully coated.
  3. Let the Peaches sit in the sugar mixture for about 15 minutes.
  4. Put your grill pan on the stove on medium high heat (or heat up your outdoor grill).
  5. Grill the peaches for about 4 minutes on each side or until they start to caramelize and have nice grill marks.  You want them to be warm throughout. Make sure you set aside the extra Brown Sugar Syrup left in the bowl.
  6. Place a few slices of Peaches in each bowl and top them with a nice big scoop of Green Tea Ice Cream.
  7. Drizzle the extra Brown Sugar & Vanilla Syrup over the top of the Ice Cream.

Enjoy!

Guacamole with Honey & Cumin

When it is warm outside, the foods that come to my mind are barbecued foods like hamburgers, hot dogs, pulled pork, slaws and salads, fresh fruits and of course lots of yummy dips.  Everyone loves a good dip whether it is buffalo chicken, French onion, taco, spinach, or my personal favorite, homemade guacamole.  After researching recipes and making and eating several variations of this classic Mexican dish, I finally developed the perfect recipe.  This recipe is creamy, refreshing, savory and sweet, all in one!  The secret ingredients, honey and Cumin Seeds take this guac to a whole new level. Shout out to my Lebanese Best Friend, Chris for showing me how versatile cumin can be!   I serve this guacamole with the traditional tortilla chips, with quesadillas, or on top of a beef or turkey burger. 

Tip- Leave the avocado pit in the center of the guacamole until you serve it. This will delay the browning process.

(Makes 1 medium size bowl)

Ingredients-

  1. 2 Avocados (make sure they are ripe)
  2. 1 small lime
  3. 3  Tablespoons Red Onion (finely chopped)
  4. 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
  5. Dash of Black Pepper
  6.  ¼ Cup Tomato (diced small)
  7. 1/2 Teaspoon Cilantro or Parsley (minced)
  8. 1 Teaspoon of Honey
  9. 1/4 Teaspoon Toasted Cumin Seeds (you may like more so taste and add accordingly)
  10. 1/2 Teaspoon-1 Teaspoon of finely chopped Jalapeno Peppers (pickled or fresh...I used pickled)

Steps-

  1. First, cut the avocados in half, remove the pits and scoop out the flesh into a bowl. 
  2. Mash up the avocados until they are a nice and creamy/slightly chunky texture.
  3.  Next, squeeze the juice of the lime on top of the avocado, and stir it up right away to prevent it from turning brown. 
  4. Stir in the onion, salt, pepper, tomato, cilantro and honey until it is all evenly distributed.  
  5. Serve in a nice bowl next to some chips and salsa, put it on top of your burger, dip your quesadillas in it, or just eat it with a spoon! ENJOY!!!