Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Introducing Yogurt to Baby

Yogurt can be a nutritious addition to your baby's diet. Yogurt is usually introduced around 7-8 months, unless your doctor recommends a different age. It is important to give your baby pasteurized whole milk yogurt to allow maximum nutrition. Yogurt is full of protein and healthy fats needed for growth and development.

I recommend using whole milk plain yogurt and adding in your own homemade fruits. By making your own add-ins you can control the added sugar. Here are a few combinations that are favorable among babies:

Yogurt mixed with applesauce, puree of pears, mangoes, peaches and bananas.
You can also add in vegetables like avocado, carrots, sweet potatoes or pumpkin.
Add in baby cereal to make it a complete meal.
Try adding in a little cinnamon to applesauce or sweet potatoes for a new flavor combination.

Layla's favorite: yogurt with mango puree

If you don't want to make your own fruit and vegetable purees there are a lot of different baby yogurts on the market.

A question I had was "why is it okay to feed your baby cow's milk yogurt and cheese at 6 months, but not okay to give them cow's milk in a bottle until 1 year?"

With a little research I discovered the reason is because introducing small amounts of yogurt and cheese does not replace breastfeeding or formula feeding which give the full nutrition your baby need the first year of their life. Most doctors do not want you to introduce cow's milk in a bottle until 12 months to reduce the chances of parents replacing breast milk or formula.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Chicken "Wormesan"

My husband Tom gave me the nickname Worm and it has stuck for the past 7 years. He calls this dish chicken "wormesan", my take on chicken Parmesan. I replace standard tomato sauce with slow-roasted tomatoes and top it with fresh mozzerlla and basil. As the chicken cooks in the oven, the cheese melts and the basil get a little crispy.

This meal would work really well for company. You can make the chicken cutlets and roast the tomatoes ahead of time. Just assemble and bake while everyone arrives.

Chicken "Wormesan"
Serves 4
2 packages thin sliced chicken breasts (about 10 pieces)
1 egg
2 cups seasoned bread crumbs
10-15 roma tomatoes
Olive oil
2 tsp dried oregano
Fresh rosemary and thyme-optional
8 oz fresh mozzarella-thinly sliced 
1/2 cup chopped basil 

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Quarter the Roma tomatoes and place on baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, oregano and rosemary and thyme or season tomatoes to taste. Roast in the oven for 25-35 minutes until very soft. 

2. While the tomatoes are roasting, prepare the chicken cutlets. Beat 1 egg in a shallow bowl with a little water and place the bread crumbs on another shallow dish. Working with one chicken cutlet at a time, dip into egg/water mixture and then breadcrumb mixture. Continue breading all the chicken and set aside. 

3. On med-high heat coat a non stick skillet with olive oil. Working in batches, fry the chicken cutlets until golden brown; about 4 minutes per side. Remove from pan and place on a paper towel to drain off excess oil. 

4. Once the chicken has been fried and the tomatoes have been roasted you can assemble the rest of the dish. Place chicken cutlets on a single layer on a baking sheet (line with parchment for easy clean up) place 2-3 tomatoes on each chicken cutlet and spread to create a "sauce". Top with a few slices of fresh mozzarella and sprinkle with chopped basil. 

5. Place in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until the cheese has melted and chicken has cooked through. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Healthy Breakfast Cookies

I was in the mood to try something different for Tom's breakfast "on the go" this week. I decided to make healthy breakfast cookies instead of the usual muffins and scones. These cookies are full of whole wheat, oats and minimal amounts of sugar and fat. They are perfect to grab before leaving the house for the day.

I added chocolate chips to these cookies but raisins or nuts would work well too.

Healthy Breakfast Cookies
Makes 8 large cookies

3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp unsalted butter-room temperature
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp honey
1 egg
1/4 cup apple sauce
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup chocolate chips, raisins or nuts

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Combine whole wheat flour, all purpose flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a bowl .

3. In a mixer, combine butter, oil, sugar and honey. Mix on med-high speed 2-3 minutes. Add in egg and apple sauce, mix until combined. Add in vanilla; mix.

4. On low speed add in flour mixture and mix until just combined. Add in oats and chocolate chips; mix until just combined.

5. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or lightly greased, scoop out cookies using a standard size ice cream scoop. Make sure there is 2" space between each cookie.

6. Bake at 350 degrees F for 12-15 minutes until lightly golden brown. Cool on wire rack.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Healthy Fish Tacos

I am really excited to share this recipe with you. I was very happy with how it all came together. The great thing about this recipe is you can make all the condiments ahead of time and cook the fish right before you are ready to eat. These taco's are so fresh, healthy and flavorful. I hope you get a chance to make these, they will not disappoint!

Fish Tacos
Makes 8-10 tacos (serves 4 people)

1 1/2 pounds Tilapia fillets or other white fish
Salt and Pepper -to taste
1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4-1/2 tsp cumin

Cabbage Slaw:
1/2 head red cabbage
Handful of basil-chiffonade or chopped
2 tbsp cilantro-chopped
1/4 tsp cumin
Zest and Juice of 1 orange
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper- to taste

4 ripe tomatoes
1/2 jalapeno-finely diced (seeds removed if you prefer less spice)
1 tbsp cilantro-chopped
Olive oil
Salt and pepper-to taste
Juice of 1 lemon

Mango Sauce:
2 Mangos-peeled and diced
1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper-to taste
1 tbsp honey

Jalapeno corn:
1 tbsp butter
1 bag of frozen corn (about 8-10 oz)
1/2 to 1 jalapeno- diced
Salt and pepper to taste

To Serve:
Flour torillas
Sour cream

Make the condiments ahead of time:
1. Cabbage Slaw: Thinly slice cabbage and place in medium size bowl. Add in basil, cilantro and spices; mix together. Add in orange zest, juice and olive oil. Season with more spices to taste.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

2. Salsa: Place the diced tomatoes and jalapeno in a small bowl. Add in chopped cilantro, salt and pepper, olive oil and lemon juice. Mix together. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

3. Mango Sauce: In a small non-stick saute pan, add in diced mangos, cayenne pepper, honey and 2-3 tbsp water. Cook on medium heat until mangos are soft. Add more water as needed to prevent mangos from sticking. Season with a little salt and pepper. Add to blender and puree until smooth.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

4. Jalapeno Corn: On medium heat, melt butter in a saute pan, add in corn and jalapeno and cook until corn is warmed through; 10-15 mins. Season with salt and pepper- Set aside or refrigerate until ready to serve.

5. Fish: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Cut fish fillets into 3" by 1" pieces and place on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray or lined with non-stick aluminum foil. Season fish with salt, pepper, 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, 1/2 tsp chili powder and 1/2 tsp cumin. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until fish is done, no not overcook.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Pork Loin with Onions and Apricots and Puree of Apricot for Baby

This is a really nice weeknight meal when you want to make dinner a little extra special. This meal is very easy and requires very little hands on time. It is a very healthy meal with only 396 calories per serving. 

Apricots are another nutritious food for baby. This fruit is typically introduced around 6 to 8 months. If you will be using Dried Apricots, try to find those that do not contain sulphurs such as sulphur dioxide. Some babies can be allergic to sulphurs and sulphurs tend to be high in sodium
Apricots are high in Beta Carotene (Vitamin A), Vitamin C and Lycopene. 

Pork Loin with Onions and Dried Apricots (Recipe: Martha Stewart- Everyday Food Light)
Serves 4

1 tsp olive oil
1 1/2 pounds pork loin-tied in 1" intervals
Salt and pepper
1/2 pound cipollini onions or pearl onions (you can use frozen pearl onions)
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
2 stripes of orange zest
1/4 cup chopped dried apricots (add an additional 1/4 cup if you would like to make baby food)
1 tsp red wine vinegar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In a large dutch oven or heavy pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Pat pork dry and season with salt and pepper. Cook until browned on all sides; 10 mins. Transfer pork to a plate-set aside. Reduce heat to medium and add in onions; cook 3-5 minutes until golden brown.

3. Return pork to the pan and add in wine, broth, orange zest, and apricots. Bring mixture to a boil. Cover and transfer to oven. Cook until the internal temperature reads 140 degrees F; about 25-30 mins.

4. Transfer pork to a cutting board and tent with foil and let rest 10 minutes. Bring the cooking liquid to a boil over medium-high heat on stove top and cook until slightly thickened, about 3 mins. Stir in vinegar.

5. Thinly slice pork and serve with onions , apricots and sauce. 

To make pureed apricots for baby:
Boil 1/4 cup of chopped dried apricots in water until tender 15-20 minutes. Puree in blender with enough reserved cooking liquid to create a smooth puree. Makes 2 jars of baby food. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Recalls and Food Safety in Baby Food

Please check out the information below regarding recent news on issues with baby formula and baby food recalls. Hopefully neither of these issues affects your little one.

High Levels of Arsenic (poison) found in baby formula, see video below

Baby Food Recall:
"For all parents, Nestle is asking for everyone to return all GERBER BANANA BABY FOOD expiring 2012 because they may contain glass. Please copy and paste for all babies safety. Batch code 7613033089 73"

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Layered Potato Recipe

Layers of thin sliced potatoes and melted Parmesan cheese create a crispy delicious potato side dish. With only a few ingredients, which you probably already have in your pantry, this recipe is impressive and surprisingly not too bad for your waistline.

Layered Potatoes (recipe from Anne Burrell-Cook like a Rockstar)
Serves 4-6

3 russet potatoes
Extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Kosher Salt

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Using a mandoline, slice potatoes 1/8" thick or a thin as you can make them. Working quickly so they do not brown too much. (do not soak in water).

2. Coat an ovenproof 8-inch non-stick saute pan with olive oil. Starting in the center of the pan, lay the potato slices in concentric circles. (The bottom will be the top layer, so make sure it looks nice). Brush the first layer of potatoes with olive oil and add another layer. Brush each layer with olive oil and sprinkle every second or third layer with cheese and salt. After each layer, use a spatula to press down and compact the potatoes.

3. Bring the pan to med-high heat. When a golden brown crust starts to form, place the pan in the oven for 20 mins.

4. Remove pan from oven and place a lid on top, tip and drain off any excess oil (This is important because when you flip the potatoes over, you do not want to pour out hot oil and burn yourself) After the excess oil is drained, flip the pan over so the potato cake is turned out on the underside of the lid. Carefully slide potatoes back into the pan so the golden brown top is facing upwards and the bottom is not facing down.

5. Return the uncovered pan to the oven for another 15 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender. Cut into wedges and serve.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Braised Lamb Shanks

I love making dishes like lamb shanks and beef short ribs because you can make resturant quality dishes with cuts of meat that don't cost you a crazy amount of money. I also find it relaxing and comforting to have meal cooking slow in the kitchen all day, making the house smell amazing. If you do not have a lot of time during the week, try this on a weekend for a cozy comforting lamb dinner. 

Braised Lamb Shanks (recipe from Anne Burrell- Cook like a Rockstar)
Serves 4 (Time: about 3 1/2 hours)

4 Lamb shanks
Kosher salt
Olive oil
2 onions-roughly chopped
4 carrots-roughly chopped
4 celery stalks-roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves-smashed
1 cup tomato paste
2 cups red wine
2 tbsp fresh rosemary-finely chopped
4 bay leaves
1 bundle of fresh thyme-tied with butchers twine

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Season lamb with salt. Coat a large dutch oven with olive oil and bring pan to med-high heat. Add lamb to the hot pan and brown well on all sides. Do not rush this step, it could take up to 20 minutes.

3. While the lamb is browning, put onions, celery, carrots and garlic in food processor and puree into a coarse paste. Set aside.

4. Once the lamb is brown on all sides, remove from pan and set aside. Remove most of the excess fat and add in a little fresh oil. Add in the pureed veggies and season with salt. Cook until very brown and a "crud" has formed on the bottom of the pan; about 10 mins. Scraping the bottom occasionally.

5. Add in tomato paste and cook until it starts to brown; 1-2 mins. Add in wine and bring to a boil; scraping the bottom occasionally. Cook 3-4 mins.

6. Add 3-4 cups of water to loosen the mixture. You can taste it to make sure it does not need more seasoning, re-season if necessary. Place the shanks back into the dutch oven. If you do not have a dutch oven transfer the mixture and lamb shanks to a roasting pan. The liquid should be 2/3 of the way up the lamb shanks; if it doesn't add more water.

7. Toss in rosemary, bay leaves and thyme bundle. Cover with aluminum foil and place in the oven. Cook
2 1/2 to 3 hours. Check the shanks every 45 minutes and turn them. If the liquid has reduced significantly add more water.

8. Remove foil the last 30 minutes of cooking to allow liquid to thicken and reduce. Serve lamb with lots of sauce.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Introducing meat to baby

I went for Layla's 6 month doctors visit today. It's time to start introducing meat into Layla's diet. There is something about pureed meat that just seems unappealing, right? I figured it would be a little more appetizing if I made the meat myself. Something about jarred meat puree, just seems wrong! To try to make this the most enjoyable for my little one, I will combine the meats with some of her favorite vegetables. If she is anything like her dad, she will be a meat and potatoes kind a girl!

At the doctor's visit I was surprised to find out that Layla is able to eat a lot more foods than I thought she could at this age, such as soft foods like pancakes, muffins etc.. The doctor said it's safe to give her most food with the exception of shellfish, raw honey, scrambled eggs and anything she can easily choke on. She mentioned that it is okay to mince up whatever Tom and I are eating for dinner, letting her try some. I am excited about this. I can also start giving her lunch and introducing a little yogurt into her diet.

When starting baby on meat, here are some of the baby "super" foods:

Chicken: Provides lean protein to support growth
Beef: Top source of iron and vitamin B12 used to build new cells
Lamb: High in iron and B vitamins, also high in zinc which supports a healthy immune system.
Turkey: High in selenium with boosts immune system and helps with cell growth and development. Dark meat turkey is a good source of iron.

Here is a video of Layla trying broccoli for the first did not go over well. She also tried a little chicken last night but is not quite use to the texture yet. We will try again soon. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Roasted Baby Bok Choy

I recently tried baby bok choy for the first time a few weeks ago. I absolutely loved it. To me, it tasted a little like brussel sprouts/cabbage. It is usually used in Asian cooking but I think it can be a nice side dish to a lot of different cuisines. What I loved most about this vegetable was how the base was tender and the tops became crispy. I cannot wait to make this side dish again. I am definitely adding this to my frequently cooked dishes. 

Bok Choy is super nutritious with key nutrients like calcium and potassium. It helps support strong teeth and bones and helps with natural electrolyte balance. One cup of this vegetable only has 20 calories! 

Roasted Baby Bok Choy 
Serves 2-4 people
3-4 bunches of baby bok choy
1 lemon- juice and zest
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. 

2. Drizzle a little bit of oil on the baking sheet to prevent bok choy from sticking. Cut each bunch of bok choy lengthwise down the middle. Place each half, cut side down on the oiled baking sheet. 

3. Season with salt, pepper and lemon zest. Roast at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes until the bok choy is tender and slightly golden grown on the bottom and the tops become crispy. 

4. Squeeze a little lemon juice on top and serve immediately. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Fennel and Grapefruit Salad

This salad was inspired by a dish I ate at Kitchen A Bistro in St James, NY. I never ate raw fennel before and I ended up loving that salad so much I couldn't wait to recreate it at home. You definitely have to enjoy the anise flavor of fennel in order to appreciate the flavors of this salad. This salad is very refreshing and perfect for a winter side dish when grapefruit is in season. 

Raw Fennel has a substantial amount of vitamin C, fiber and is very low in calories

Raw Fennel and Grapefruit Salad
Serves 2 

1 fennel bulb- trimmed of outer layer and stems removed 
1 grapefruit- segmented 
Parmesan cheese-shaved slices
Olive Oil
1 Lemon
Salt and Pepper

1. Using a mandolin or a sharp knife, slice the fennel bulb into very thin slices. Place on salad plate. 

2. Segment the grapefruit and add 5-6 segments to each salad plate.

3. Top with shavings of Parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste. 

4. Squeeze lemon juice over salad and drizzle with good quality olive oil. Garnish with fennel tops; if desired. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Asian Style Salad for Two

I hope everyone had a nice weekend. Last week I was really into making all different salads and decided to share my favorite salad and side dish recipes this week. This is a healthy recipe for a Asian style salad. It is so refreshing to have a bright colorful salad in mid-winter among all the soup and stews we are so used to eating this time of year. You can easily add grilled chicken to this recipe to make it more substantial for dinner.

Asian Style Salad
Serves 2

1/2 head of napa cabbage- chopped
2-3 cups chopped romaine leaves
2 ripe mango's- sliced
1 red bell pepper-slices
1 large carrot-sliced with a vegetable peeler
1/4 cup roasted peanuts
1/2 can mandarin oranges-drained
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
1/2 cup Chinese noodles-located in the Chinese section of grocery store

3 tbsp of Mandarin orange juice (leftover from can)
2-3 tbsp rice wine vinegar or any mild vinegar
1 tsp grated ginger
3-4 tbsp olive oil
Salt and Pepper

Mix all the salad ingredients from napa cabbage to Mandarin oranges together in a large bowl and toss with the dressing. Garnish with Chinese noodles and cilantro.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Valentines Day Candy Ideas

Make your own treats this Valentines Day. Here are a few clever packaging ideas from Get started this weekend!

Also, see below a quick recipe for chocolate covered banana bites. Have a great weekend!

Here are the how-to instructions from
Photo one:

Photo Two:

Photo Three:

Chocolate Covered Banana Bites:
Makes 30-40 bites

3-4 ripe banana cut into 3/4" thick slices
12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
Crushes almonds, peanuts, coconut, crushes candies for garnish

1. In a microwave safe bowl, melt the chocolate for 1 minutes. Stir and then continue to heat in 30 second increments until fully melted and smooth.

2. Using a toothpick, dip half the banana slice in the chocolate and then roll in desired garnish. Place on wax paper; chocolate side up. Place in freezer for 30 minutes and then refrigerate until ready to serve. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Homemade Nutella Tart

I will continue Valentines Day week with this recipe for homemade "Nutella" Tart. This is a very rich, chocolate and hazelnut tart with a buttery flaky crust. If you enjoy Nutella chocolate spread you will definitely love this dessert.

I would recommend reading through the recipe before starting and plan how you would like to proceed with each step. I would bake the tart shell first (even the day before) and let it cool completely and then proceed with the rest of the recipe. If you would like to simplify this recipe you can purchase dough from the grocery store. I have highlighted all the resting and bake times to make it easier for you to plan ahead.

Homemade "Nutella"  Tart
Serves 10-12 (recipe from Flour by Joanne Chang)
1 1/2 Hour Prep Time plus 3-4 hours chill time

1 cup whole hazelnuts (140 grams)
2 cups heavy cream (480 grams)
1 pound milk chocolate-chopped (454 grams)
2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate-chopped (56 grams)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
10" tart shell (recipe below)

1. Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.

2. Spread hazelnuts on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 10-12 minutes; stirring occasionally. Transfer to plate and set aside to cool.

3. Set aside 15-20 hazelnuts for garnish and place half of the remaining nuts in food processor, pulse
until finely ground. Roughly chop the other half of the hazelnuts. Set aside separately.

4. In a small saucepan, combine the cream and finely ground nuts and scald over medium-high heat (until bubbles start to form around the edge of the pan, but the cream is not boiling)

5. Remove from the heat and let sit for 1 hour so the cream becomes infused with the hazelnuts. After 1 hour, strain the cream with a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl or pitcher.

6. Place milk chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate in a heat proof bowl. Place over (not touching) barely simmering water in a saucepan and heat; stirring occasionally until chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove from heat.

7. Whisk the cream into the chocolate until fully combined. Add in crushed hazelnuts, salt and vanilla; whisk until combined.

8. Slide a flat plate under the prepared tart shell and carefully pour chocolate-hazelnut mixture into the shell. Place tart in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours until the filling has set.

9. Remove tart from the refrigerator and garnish with reserved whole hazelnuts.

10. This tart can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2 days. For best results, remove from refrigerator 2 hours before eating so the filling can soften a bit.

Recipe for tart shell: 10 mins prep time-2 hours resting time and 30-35 min bake time

1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick) at room temperature-cut into 8 pieces
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup flour
1 egg yolk

1. Using a mixer, cream together butter, sugar and salt on medium speed for 2-3 mins. Scrape the sides with rubber spatula. Add in flour and beat on low speed for 30 seconds or until just combined. (The mixture should look like wet sand). Add in egg yolk and mix on low for 30 seconds until dough comes together.

2. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. This dough can be made ahead of time and refigerated for up to 5 days.

3. Remove dough and let rest 30 minutes to soften. Using a rolling pin bang and flatten the dough into a 1/2" thick disk. On a floured surface roll out dough into a circle 12 inches and 1/4" thickness. Make sure the surface and dough as well floured to prevent sticking. Don't worry if the dough breaks apart a little toward the edges it can easily be patched together.

4. Roll the dough around the rolling pin to transfer to tart shell. Press the dough well into the sides and bottom of the tart pan. Use any extra bits to patch up any tears. Make sure the entire surface is well covered. Trim the edge of the dough so it is even with the pan.

5. Refrigerate dough for 30 mins to allow the gluten to relax and prevent shrinkage in the oven.

6. Place tart shell in center of the oven and bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes until golden brown. (My oven cooked this a little faster so make sure to check around 20 minutes) Let the shell cool completely and continue with filling.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Candied Kumquats with a hint of Ginger

This recipe can be used for all different citrus fruits. It works very well with orange and grapefruit peels. If you feel like it, you can dip half into melted chocolate and dry on wax paper.

Candied Kumquats with a hint of Ginger

1 pint of kumquats- sliced with pits removes
1 1/2 cups sugar-divided (superfine sugar work best but is not necessary)
1-2 tsp ground ginger

1. Slice kumquats and remove pits.
2. In a sauce pan over medium heat, add 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar, bring to a boil. Add in sliced kumquats and simmer for 30-40 mins, until kumquats are very soft; stirring often.

3. On a sheet of wax paper, combine 1/2 cup of sugar and ginger. Dip each kumquat slice into sugar mixture and place of another sheet of wax paper until dry. (Dip in melted chocolate; if desired)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Healthy Dessert for Two

This is a healthier version of jello because you are using 100% grape juice with natural sugars, instead of the processed jello from the box.

This recipe makes enough for two glasses but it would be nice to make a large batch for a party in champagne glasses. You can use any berries that you have on hand. Make sure to submerge them in the juice before it solidifies.

This also makes a great and healthy recipe that kids will be sure to enjoy!

Grape Juice Gelatin Desserts
Makes 2 servings (adapted from Everyday Food Light by Martha Stewart)

1 envelope (1/4 oz) unflavored powered gelatin
1/2 cold water
1 cup 100% white grape juice
1 cup blueberries

1. In a bowl, sprinkle gelatin over 1/4 cup of cold water. Let stand 5 minutes until softened.

2. In a small sauce pan, bring remaining 1/4 of water to a boil. Pour over gelatin and stir in grape juice.

3. Divide berries into two glasses and pour gelatin mixture over berries. Make sure to submerge all the berries in the liquid.

4. Refrigerate until set; about at least one hour. This can be refrigerated for 5 days, covered with plastic wrap.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Valentines Day Strawberry Lemon Scones

The Giants are world champions!!!!! What a exciting (and stressful) night of football. This household of giants fans is having a very happy Monday morning!

Football season comes to and end....Next up: Valentines Day

Valentines Day scones, obviously named after the vibrant red color the strawberries give these scones. This is another variation on my favorite basic scone recipe. I have added lemon zest to the dough and topped each scone with slices strawberries and a little sugar.

Valentines Day Strawberry Lemon Scones
Makes 8 scones

2 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
Zest of 1 lemon
1 stick cold butter- diced into 1/2" pieces
1/2 pound of sliced strawberries (you can use thawed frozen berries or fresh)
1 cup heavy cream-divided
1 tbsp raw sugar

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and lemon zest. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in diced butter until incorporated into flour mixture. You should be able to see "pea" sized pieces of butter. Place in freezer for 5 mins.

3. Remove from freezer and pour in 3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp cup heavy cream, working dough with hands or wooden spoon until it comes together. Dough tends to be a bit dry.

4. Turn dough onto floured surface, or onto a sheet of wax paper and press into a 7" round circle and about 1.5" thickness. Cut into quarters and then again into 8 separate triangles.

5. Place a few slices of strawberries on each scone. Press down slightly. Place each scone onto the parchment paper. Brush with remaining 2 tbsp of heavy cream and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 450 degrees for 13-15 mins until golden brown.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Mediterranean Stuffed Peppers

I was in the mood for lamb this week and came up with the recipe for a healthy, filling weeknight meal. Most cuts of lamb can be on the expensive side, so when I saw the ground lamb at Whole Foods this weekend, I decided to try this recipe.

I was inspired by a lamb burger I had  Kat Cora's restaurant Kouzzina in Orlando, FL. Although I tried that burger years ago I remember the lamb had a perfect amount of spice and it tasted great with the feta cheese.

If you cannot find ground lamb, you can definitely substitute for turkey, bison, or lean ground beef. This meal doesn't need much in way of side dishes. It pairs nicely with a salad and some good bread. Enjoy!

Mediterranean Stuffed Peppers
Serves 6

6 Anaheim peppers or bell peppers
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onions diced
2 jalapenos-finely diced (remove seeds if you prefer less spice)
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 lb ground lamb
2 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tbsp chopped dill
2 cups baby spinach-chopped
4 cups tomato sauce (preferably homemade)
2 cups cooked brown rice (1 boil-in-bag brown rice)
8 oz crumbled feta cheese

1. Pre heat oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Remove the stems on the peppers. Steam the peppers in microwave, using microwave safe plastic wrap (about 4-5 mins) or you can steam them on stove top until slightly tender. Slice the peppers 3/4 of the way lengthwise. Set aside.

3. In a medium sized skillet add 1 tbsp olive oil to pan, saute onions and jalapenos until soft; 8 mins. Add in crushed red pepper flakes and ground lamb and cook until the meat has browned; stirring often. Season with salt and pepper- to taste.  Drain off any excess fat from the lamb.
4. With heat on medium-low, add in chopped spinach, parsley and dill; mix until spinach is wilted.
5. Add in 1- 2 cups of tomato sauce and 2 cups of cooked brown rice. Mix well. Turn off the heat.

6. In the bottom of a 13 x 9" baking dish, add the rest of the tomato sauce; about 2 cups. Place the peppers on top of the sauce and fill with lamb filling. Close the peppers best you can, and top with crumbled feta cheese.

7. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 30-40 mins until very tender.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Brussel Sprouts with Walnuts and Pancetta

I always like to cook brussel sprouts with bacon or pancetta, they go really nice together. This recipe comes out so tasty. The combination of the crispy leaves from the brussel sprouts, salty pancetta and crunchy walnuts made this my new favorite way to eat this veggie.

I don't have the best pictures for this side dish, I had to take them on a cell phone. I hope you try this recipe and enjoy!

Brussel Sprouts with Walnuts and Pancetta
Serves 4 (Recipe from Cook like a Rockstar by Anne Burrell)

Extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, smashed
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1/4 pounds of diced pancetta (You can substitute with procuitto or bacon)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 pint of brussel sprouts-stems removes and leaves pulled apart (I would recommend using 2 pints for more than 4 people)
Kosher salt

1. Coat a large saute pan with olive oil, add in the garlic, red pepper flakes and bring to medium heat. Cook 2-3 minutes. when the garlic has turned golden brown, remove from the pan and discard. You know have garlic infused oil.

2. Add in pancetta and walnuts, cook until pancetta is crispy and brown; 5-6 minutes. Add in brussel sprouts and toss in the pan. Season with salt, cover and cook 2-3 minutes, until wilted.

3. Remove the lid, raise the heat to medium=high and let brussel sprouts brown; 8-10 minutes. The more crispy they get, the better. Taste and season with salt if needed.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Easiest recipe for you and baby-Butternut Squash Soup

This is the easiest way to make yourself a healthy and delicious lunch or dinner, while also making your baby a healthy meal at the same time. One small butternut squash makes enough for 8 jars of baby food and 1 large bowl of soup. You can alter any amount of the seasonings to your taste.

As mentioned in a previous post, butternut squash is one of the first foods you can feed your baby. Winter squash, such as butternut, is packed with vitamins, beta-carotene and calcium.

The Easiest Butternut Squash Soup:
Makes 1 large bowl and 8 jars of baby food (Makes 2-3 bowls of soup without baby food)

1 small butternut squash
1-2 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock
Pinch of cinnamon
1-2 tbsp maple syrup
Salt and Pepper

1. Peel and dice the butternut squash into 1" cubes. Place in a pot of boiling water and cook until softened; about 20-30 mins.

2. Once the squash is soft, drain water and transfer half of the squash to a blender. To make baby food, add water and blend until smooth. Store in containers for 3-5 days or freeze for 2-3 months. To make the soup, add enough broth to puree smooth; add in cinnamon, maple syrup, salt and pepper to taste; blend together. Add in more stock to get the consistency you desire. Continue with the rest of the squash. Serve with a touch of heavy cream or plain yogurt.