Sunday, October 23, 2011

Trader Joes Sweet Potato Gnocchi With Butter And Sage

Lazy Sunday with no time to cook. What to do? Heat up some Trader Joe's Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Butter and Sage. Steam some broccoli to go along, open a bottle of wine and you are all set.

Best Biscuits Ever!

I have made biscuits before but they have never turned out quite as good as the ones by The Flying Biscuit in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Baked to perfection and served with apple butter, yum! If you are ever in the area you must try these.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Roasted Tomatoes with Fresh Basil and Mozzarella

Easy and so good!

Serves 8 / An easy appetizer. Be sure to use a glass or enameled pan (not plain metal) to avoid any reactivity with the acidic tomatoes. Splurge on a flavorful, fragrant olive oil for the best results.

Good-quality olive oil
4 medium-large, ripe tomatoes
½ cup chopped fresh basil, plus whole leaves for garnish
4 large cloves garlic, crushed
8 very thin slices mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat oven to 450˚. Pour a little olive oil into a glass or enameled baking dish.
Cut tomatoes in half and roll cut part in olive oil; then turn over and arrange in dish, cut side up. Sprinkle each tomato with chopped fresh basil, crushed garlic, salt and pepper to taste, and a thin cheese slice. Drizzle again with olive oil. Roast for 20 minutes, until tender and lightly browned.

Garnish with whole basil leaves.

PER SERVING: 86 cal, 5g fat (2g mono, 0g poly, 3g sat), 18mg chol, 7g protein, 2g carb, 0g fiber, 177mg sodium

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Grilled Potatoes with Chèvre and Cilantro Vinaigrette

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Seared Scallops with Caramelized Onions and Arugula

Fall food is flavorful and filling, which I love, but keeping it simple and using healthy ingredients tops it all. This is a recipe that you just can't go wrong with. Added bonus, if you are single or a couple this recipe serves 2, perfect!

Recipe by;

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

I Am In Love With Late July

I love chips, the saltier the better. One might even call me a bit of a chip-a-holic. If I need to drop some weight I have to go through the painstaking process of eating all the chips out of my pantry (not in a million years would I think about throwing them out or giving them away) and then not purchasing anymore, which is not easy.

I am blaming Whole foods on my new found love and addiction to Late July Mild Green Mojo Flavored Chips. They just had to stack them all nice and neat in the main isle as I walked toward the register. Hmm, I thought, these look interesting, ooohhhh they are gluten free, I better test them out for my friend Brook, I thought to myself, because I want to help Brook find new gluten free products. So what happened? I purchased 1 bag, ate the entire thing, texted a picture of the bag to Brook for reference and then went back to purchase 5 more (in my defense they were on special).

Not only are the extremely tasty on their own but add some guacamole to the mix and you have your own little party going on. Oh yeah!

If you don't have a Whole Foods in your area you can also buy them online direct from Late July (they sell by the case, SWEET!).

Fall Flavors Are Back!

Apples, pumpkins, squash oh my...For me it is officially fall when Pumpkin Spice Lattes are back. Okay, I know there are other signs to fall, like the bright orange and red leaves I am currently looking out my window at. Or the cool sweet crispness to the early morning air. However, for my brother and I our official kick off is with pumpkin lattes.

This year I want to go to the farmers market more and cook with a variety of seasonal foods that I otherwise haven't. I tend to stick with the fall basics that I grew up on, but I have a feeling branching out this year will be good.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Lasagna al Forno

One of the best lasagna's yet!

Lasagna al Forno

Recipe courtesy Tyler Florence 

Total Time: 2 hr 40 min
Prep: 1 hr 10 min
Cook: 1 hr 30 min
Yield: 12 servings








Cook the lasagna noodles in plenty of boiling salted water until pliable and barely tender, about 10 minutes. Stir with a wooden spoon to prevent sticking. Drain the noodles thoroughly, coat with olive oil keep them moist and easy to work with.

Coat a large skillet with olive oil. Saute over medium heat, onion, garlic and herbs. Cook 5 minutes. Brown beef and sausage until no longer pink, about 15 minutes. Drain fat into a small container and discard. Stir in the tomato paste completely. Set aside to cool.

In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta, parsley and oregano. Stir in beaten eggs. Add Parmesan, season with salt and pepper.

To assemble the lasagna: Coat the bottom of a 13 by 9-inch pan with a ladle full of tomato sauce. Arrange 4 noodles lengthwise in a slightly overlapping layer on the sauce. Then, line each end of the pan with a lasagna noodle. This forms a collar that holds in the corners. Spread 1/2 of the meat mixture over the pasta. Dollop 1/2 of the ricotta mixture over the meat, spread to the edges with a spatula. Sprinkle 1/2 of the mozzarella on top of the ricotta. Top with a ladle full of tomato sauce, spread evenly. Repeat with the next layer of noodles, meat, cheeses and sauce. Top last layer with noodles, sauce and shredded mozzarella and Parmesan.

Tap the pan to force out air bubbles. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 1 hour. Remove from oven. Let lasagna rest for 30 minutes so the noodles will settle and cut easily. Cut into 2-inch squares and serve.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Ginger Pear Muffins

One thing I am fairly conscientious about is wasting food. I constantly find ways to use fruits and vegetables that have ripened past my liking. Below is a great example.

Have pears that are ripe past your liking? Make Ginger - Pear Muffins

By now you have figured out I love Mollie Katzen, I own all her cookbooks and sift through them on a regular basis to find the next great recipe.

"Studded with tiny pieces of sweet pear and even tinier bits of crystallized ginger - and laced throughout with gentle heat from grated fresh ginger-these muffins are quite heavenly."

Yield: 8 to 10 muffins
Preparation Time: 15 minutes, plus 20 to 25 minutes to bake (mine baked at 20 minutes just fine)

Nonstick Spray
1 cup finely chopped ripe pear (fresh, peeled)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 - 1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1/3 cup very finely minced crystallized ginger
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
1 to 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly spray 8 standard muffin cups with nonstick spray.
2. Place the chopped pear in a shallow dish, drizzle with the lemon juice, and set aside.
3. Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, sugar, and lemon zest in a medium sized bowl. Stir in the minced crystallized ginger, then comb through the mixture with your fingers to seek out any larger pieces. Cut them into even smaller pieces with scissors.
4. Measure the 1 cup buttermilk into a 2-cup liquid measure. Add the egg, fresh ginger, and vanilla, and beat gently with a fork or a small whisk until smooth.
5. slowly pour this mixture, along with the melted butter, into the dry ingredients. Using a spoon or a rubber spatula, stir from the bottom of the bowl until the dry ingredients are all moistened. Don't over mix; a few lumps are okay. Fold in the pears.
6. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups. For smaller muffins, fill the cups about four-fifths full. For larger muffins, fill them up to the top. If you have extra batter, spray one or two additional muffin cups with non stick spray and fill with the remaining batter.
7. Bake in the middle of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until lightly browned on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the pan from the oven, then remove the muffins from the pan and place them on a rack to cool. Wait at least 30 minutes before serving.

Chocolate Ricotta Muffins

I had a dinner party a week ago and served lasagna (recipe forthcoming), there was some left over Ricotta cheese. I had no idea what to do with it. Now I know, thanks to Mollie, it makes amazing muffins.

From "MollieKatzen's Sunlight Café"
Check out the above link for a print friend version of the recipe.

Preparation time: 10 minutes, plus 20 to 25 minutes to bake
Yield: 12 to 14 medium-sized muffins

  • These taste best made with whole milk ricotta, but will work with the low fat variety as well.
  • Canola oil can substitute for some or all of the butter.
Nonstick spray for the pan
2 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
6 to 8 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 cup sugar
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup ricotta
2 large eggs
1 1/3 cups milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly spray 12 standard-sized (2 1/2-inch-diameter) muffin cups with nonstick spray.
  2. Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, cocoa, and sugar in a medium-sized bowl.
  3. Place the ricotta in a second medium-sized bowl, and add the eggs one at a time, beating well with a medium-sized whisk after each addition. Add the milk and vanilla, and whisk until thoroughly blended.
  4. Pour the ricotta mixture, along with the melted butter, into the dry ingredients. Using a spoon or a rubber spatula, stir from the bottom of the bowl until the dry ingredients are all moistened. Don't over mix; a few lumps are okay.
  5. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups. For smaller muffins, fill the cups about 4/5 of the way. For larger muffins, fill them even with the top of the pan. If you have extra batter, spray one or two additional muffin cups with nonstick spray and put in as much batter as you have.
  6. Bake in the middle of the oven for to 20 to 25 minutes, or until lightly browned on top, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the pan from the oven, then remove the muffins from the pan and place them on a rack to cool. Wait at least 30 minutes before serving.

Very Crunchy Granola

My favorite season time for cooking, Fall. I am giddy when I go outside in the early mornings and late evenings sensing that smell in the cool crisp air kicking in. I even will go as far as to say I saw 3 orange leaves on my neighbors tree.

Below is one of my favorite granola recipes.

Mollie Katzen's Sunlight Café 
Go to the above link for a print friendly version

Yield: 6 cups or more, depending on how many additional ingredients you choose to add

Granola should be crunchy. Very crunchy. And here's a recipe that really works! It's very filling, so if you eat this for breakfast, especially with fresh fruit and any kind of milk or yogurt added, you'll be satisfied for hours afterwards!

Note: If you can't find barley flakes, you can substitute wheat flakes or just use all rolled oats. If you're adding wheat germ, do so right at serving time, directly from the freezer, so the oil won't break down.

Nonstick spray for the baking tray
3 cups rolled oat flakes
1 cup barley flakes
1 cup oat bran
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup chopped almonds
3/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup light honey or maple syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup soy protein powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup (packed) brown sugar
1 cup pumpkin seeds (optional, but highly recommended!)

Other possible additions:
1/2 cup sesame seeds
Up to 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
Up to 1 cup other kinds of nuts, chopped
Dried fruit (add after it is baked)
Wheat germ (add after it is baked)
Up to 1 cup roasted soy beans (add after it is baked)
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Spray a 13 X 18-inch baking tray with nonstick spray.
  2. Place the flakes, bran, sunflower seeds, and almonds in a large bowl. (Also look through the list of "other possible additions" and add sesame seeds, coconut, or other nuts, if desired.)
  3. Combine the oil, honey or syrup and vanilla extract, and pour this in. Mix thoroughly. (Use your hands, if necessary.)
  4. Stir in the protein powder and salt, and mix thoroughly (again, use your hands).
  5. Bake for 40 or 50 minutes, stirring a few times--until golden.
  6. Crumble in sugar as soon as it comes out of the oven. and let it melt in. Cool it on the tray, and add the pumpkin seeds as it cools. NOTE: The granola will get crunchy as it cools!
  7. Store it in a tightly closed jar in the freezer for maximum freshness.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Limited Time For Dinner? Sauted Brussel Sprouts, Stuffed Fish and Gnocchi

So I cheated tonight. I willing admit that most nights there is absolutely no time to cook and yet I still need to eat. So I have found some of my favorite "pre-made" items that are quick and absolutely delicious and in 30 minutes.

Hopefully you have a Trader Joe's near by because that is where I got all my ingredients.

True Belgian Brussel Sprouts - found in the freezer section
- defrost 1 minute in microwave
- slice in half
- season with olive oil, sea salt and pepper
- Saute in frying pan, add some balsamic vinegar
- Cook until browned and firm

Pacific Flounder with Crab Meat Stuffing
- cook according to package

Gnocchi al Gorgonzola
- cook according to package

Pour some wine and voila, dinner!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Summer Lentil & Couscous Salad

This is one of my favorites. I don't have a recipe for it but if you combine all the below ingredients it's hard to not have it turn out super delicious. Enjoy!

1. Cook 2 cups of green or brown lentils until tender (DO NOT overcook they should be still al dente).

2. Put the lentils in a bowl and sprinkle rice vinegar over the top, stir until coated. Refrigerate overnight.

3. Make 1 cup of wheat couscous - per instructions.

4. Mix the couscous with the lentils and refrigerate.

5. Make a homemade balsamic vinaigrette; Balsamic vinegar, Extra virgin olive oil, ground pepper, sea   salt, minced fresh garlic (2 cloves), fresh chopped basil and about 1 tbsp of dijon mustard. Mix thoroughly. The color should come out to a nice creamy brown.

6. Rinse a container of cherry tomatos, slice in have length wise. - Add to the lentils & couscous.

7. Take a small container of feta cheese - add to the lentils and couscous.

8. Small jar of Kalamata olives, drain, cut in half, add to the lentils and couscous.

9. Fresh basil, chop, add to the above.

10. Pour some, not all, of your dressing over the top of the salad and mix until coated.

Refrigerate to let all the flavors soak in. Then enjoy!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Pooles Diner

Tonight I had the pleasure of not having to do a pantry raid by dining out at a local Raleigh favorite, Pooles Diner.

I had heard foodies rave about Pooles Diner, but it wasn't until I experienced it myself that I fully understood what all the hype was about.

Thank goodness I was with some friends that all have the same idea when it comes to food, order a lot and everyone shares.

Sauteed Green Beans With Garlic

Watermelon Salad with Marinated Avocado, Goat Cheese and Basil

Fried Green Tomatoes with Aioli

Macaroni and Cheese

Tuna Tartar

Pooles Diner has officially been added to my list of local favorites!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Easy Pot Roast

Most weekends I am running around doing errands and keeping up with the house that in a flash its Sunday and I haven't eaten or cooked a single decent meal. Sigh! What's a girl to do? Keep it easy!

Pot Roast
Garlic cloves, peeled

Through all the above in a crock pot and cook on low for 5 hours until it falls apart and melts in your mouth.

Baby potatoes
Baby carrots
Garlic cloves, peeled

Toss all the above in a pot (not cutting or prepping necessary), boil until tender. Mash with butter, add salt and pepper to taste, mix in some shredded cheese of choice.

Marinated collard greens came from the deli counter at Whole Foods and are super delicious. I will learn to make these once things die down a bit with my work and volunteer schedule.

And dinner is served.....

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

All Else Fails, There's Always Tacos


Ground beef
Large white onion - chopped
Diced chilis - 2 small cans
Refried beans - 1 can
Sour cream
Grated cheddar cheese
Shredded iceberg lettuce
Hot sauce
Fresh salsa, East Coast Fresh Cut is my favorite brand aside from making it homemade.
Old El Paso Stand 'N' Stuff Taco Shells
Old El Paso

1. Cook the ground beef and chopped onion over medium heat until cooked.
2. Add the taco seasoning packet and water, per packet instructions.
3. Add green chilies.
4. Add 1 can of refried beans - stir until completely mixed and heated thoroughly.
5. Heat the taco shells per package instructions.
6. Top just the way you like.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sometimes it pays to keep it simple!

It's okay to keep it simple. Some Sundays you just don't feel like cooking. You've had a busy week followed by a crazy weekend, so why not keep it simple with one of my favorites.

Key - Bottle of good wine, my favorite is a nice bottle of Earthquake Zinfandel, courtesy of my friend Heath as a birthday gift. Thank you Heath!

Follow with - Glutino Crackers, super yummy and gluten free.

Add some - White Cheddar Cheese

Throw in some - Organic apple slices

And just for fun - deli sliced turkey

Oh and don't forget the strawberry's.

Dinner is served and it was quite satisfying.


Much anticipated for over a year now, Whole Foods Market opened up a store in North Raleigh.

Walking in I feel like a kid in a candy store. How can you not love Whole Foods?

This store will turn cooking into a new experience, it boasts new offerings of;
1. First Ever Guacamole & Salsa Bar - I tested this out yesterday and was quite pleased.
2. Cooking Classes.
3. On site Dietitian.
4. They have replaced bags with jars in the bulk section.
5. Aging and Smoked section in the meat department.
6. Entire section dedicated to cheese, a personal favorite.
7. Offer Growlers of Kombucha Tea from a local supplier
North Raleigh Whole Foods Market - 3 days prior to grand opening

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Pantry Raid - Chicken, Rice and Kale

So tonight's Pantry Raid was surprisingly tasty.

What did I have to throw together?

- Left over cooked Chicken Breast - Diced
- Left over White Rice
- Fresh Kale
- Garlic Gloves
- Tabasco Sauce
- Sea Salt
- Pepper
- Butter
- Lemon Juice

Rinse and chop the kale and saute in butter with fresh sliced garlic and a dash of lemon juice until tender.

Add chopped chicken, rice, salt and pepper to taste and saute until heated thoroughly.

Put a few dashes of Tabasco over the top and enjoy!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Pantry Raid - Lemon Chicken w/Ziti Pasta

Last minute cooking for a dinner party of 6, no problem!

Pantry Raid Menu:
1. Lemon Chicken
2. Ziti Pasta with Red Sauce
3. Mixed Greens - no dressing needed
4. Apple Lemon Cake

Results.....Rave reviews and happy guests.

This is the standard red sauce that I have posted in the past. Just pick any sort of fun pasta to go with it for a great side dish. Don't forget the freshly grated Pecorino cheese.

Salad mix, sliced radishes, sliced cherry tomatoes, sliced carrots, 2 cloves of garlic pressed, sprinkle with olive oil and sea salt then toss lightly until evenly coated.

1. Take 3 skinned boneless chicken breasts and slice them into thinner pieces full size (about 3 per piece).
2. Place cut pieces between two pieces of plastic wrap.
3. Pound with mallet until flattened.
4. Coat in an egg (take 3 eggs and beat).
5. Coat in Italian bread crumbs.
6. Add to olive oil to a frying pan, when heated add chicken and cook until browned on each side.
7. Sprinkle with fresh lemon juice and sea salt.

We cheated on this. I had a box of yellow cake mix in my pantry that I wanted to get some use out of. Mix the cake per directions, add in freshly squeezed lemon juice and grated lemon rind. Peel and slice some apples. Prep the cake pack with butter and flour. Arrange apple slices on bottom of pan. Pour cake batter over the top and cook as directed. Once completed, let cool then flip over on to a plate. Once completely cooled, sprinkle with powdered sugar.