Thursday, March 29, 2012

Super Healthy Quinoa Lunch Recipe

I have recently been trying to include this super food into my diet. Quinoa contains key nutrients such as, protein, fiber, magnesium, and iron. It's benefits include overall cardio health, aids in prevention of migraines, may help prevent cancer and heart disease, aids in digestion and lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes.

I make a batch of quinoa in the beginning of the week and divide it into 1/4 cup servings for lunch. Then I add in all different fresh ingredients. One day I will add in a little maple syrup, raisins, walnuts and berries and the next day I add in ingredients like the recipe below. It is very easy to make, it doesn't take any longer than making rice; about 15-20 minutes until the liquid has been absorbed.

Zucchini and Feta Quinoa 
Makes 1 serving

Olive oil
1/4 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 zucchini- thinly sliced half moons
2 cups baby spinach
1/2 tsp Dried oregano
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes-optional
1-2 tbsp feta cheese
Lemon juice-optional

1. In a non-stick skillet heat 1 tsp olive oil over medium high heat. Add in sliced zucchini and season with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and oregano. Cook until softened; about 5 minutes. Add in baby spinach and cooked quinoa. Cook until spinach is wilted. Season with more salt and pepper to taste.

2. Place mixture into a bowl and top with feta cheese and a little squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Whats on my DVR?

If there is a food show on television, it is most likely taped on my DVR. Besides the Ellen Show, cooking shows and competitions are the only thing I like to watch on TV. Well, that and Revenge, Parenthood, Modern Family, The Office, Grimm and Greys Anatomy :)

At the moment, my favorite shows are: Chopped, Top Chef, Best Thing I Ever Ate, Worst Cooks in America, Barefoot Contessa, Travel Channels: No Reservations and Bizarre Foods.
There is a rule in our house (given by my husband Tom) if I am going to make him watch food shows, I have to cook a big dinner with a lot of meat. In other words, soup and salad night means no food TV at night. I will admit watching these shows will make you drool.

The other day we were watching Bizarre Foods America. The episode was all about the food in Charleston, South Carolina. Andrew Zimmerman (host) was eating at a farm to table restaurant McCrady's and the food looked amazing. Coincidentally, my parents we on their way to Charleston a week later. I told them to make reservations at this restaurant. They said the food was outstanding. I am looking forward to trying this restaurant in the future.

A quick warning, not all the places they recommend on these shows have been a success. I sent Tom to a burger place in the city (Pop Burger) because I saw it on one of these shows. He was disgusted by the burger and had to throw most of it away. For those of you who know Tom, that burger had to be pretty bad. Its all part of the fun, trying these places, some good, some bad.

Here are a few pictures from their dinner.

Salad of Killed Baby Spinach, Pickled Quail Egg,
Crispy Potato, and Virginia Sorghum
Roasted Beets and Ambrose Strawberries Lettuces,
Almonds, and Anise

Duo of Berkshire Pork Cabbage Roasted in Embers,
Beet and Ginger

Duck, Aged and Roasted on the Bone, 
Pine Nuts in the style of Risotto, Turnips and Arugula

Dark Chocolate Ganache, Wadmalaw Pine,
Malted Milk and Barley

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Orange Sorbet

I use to cook over at my parents and in-laws once a week. It was a good time to experiment with some recipes and have a nice dinner with family. When Layla was born I put this on hold for a little while until I had a better routine. Now that she is a little older (7 months) it is easier for me to start cooking for family again. This past weekend, I wanted to cook something very refreshing and healthy. All this warm weather is making be crave light, fresh summer meals.

I decided to make fish tacos (you can find the recipe under Seafood on the recipe page) and for dessert I made fresh orange sorbet. This dessert hit the spot for a very refreshing way to end a healthy dinner. I made a few adjustments from the original recipe from Cooking Light.  I reduced the amount of sugar, 3/4 cup is more than enough sweetness and I served them in a frozen orange shell. Serve with whipped cream on top..yum!

This dessert is less than 90 calories per 1/2 cup serving and has 0 fat.

Orange Sorbet (adapted from cooking light)
Makes 6-8 orange cups

2 1/2 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
Orange rind stripes from 2 oranges
2 2/3 cups fresh squeezed orange juice (6-8 juice oranges)
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (2 lemons)
6-8 reserves orange halves-Place in freezer

1. Combine water and sugar in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Add in orange rind stripes; reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes. Discard the rind; remove from heat and cool completely (refrigerate to cool quicker)

2. Juice the oranges and lemons and stir together. (If you are using the orange shells, remove any pulp and place in freezer until ready to use) Add the juice mixture to the sugar water mixture; stir well. Add to ice cream maker and freeze according to manufactures instructions. Place in an air tight container; cover and freeze for 1 hour until sorbet is firm.

3. Remove the frozen orange shells from freezer. Using an ice cream scoop; place 1 large scoop of sorbet in each shell. Serve with whipped cream.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Greek Salad Pizza with Roasted Shrimp

Pizza is starting to be my favorite thing to make these days. For me, it is the perfect combination of baking and cooking. It's an easy way to experiment with all different ingredients and flavors.

My inspiration for gourmet pizza's comes from a wood- fired pizza place in NYC, Waldy's. It is a little place right in midtown and makes amazing thin crust individual pizzas. It's a great place to go to avoid the horrors of Penn Station food and the over priced restaurants in the surrounding area. Waldy's is located at 800 6TH AVE (27th St. between 6th Ave. & Broadway), definitely check it out if you are in the area. 

As I said above, my inspiration comes from that type of pizza, however, I like to create my own flavors and combinations. This is my attempted at a healthy pizza, and I have to say it came out exactly as I planned. Enjoy!!

The recipe below uses 1/3 of the pizza dough recipe. You can freeze the extra dough or double/triple the toppings to make 3 pizza's instead of 1. 

Greek Salad Pizza with Roasted Shrimp
Serves 2-3

1 recipe for pizza dough (recipe below) or store bought pizza dough
1 head of romaine lettuce-chopped
1 handful of mixed greens-optional
1 red bell pepper-chopped into bite sized pieces
10 cherry tomatoes-halved
5-6 pepperoncini's
1 small cucumber-sliced thin
4 oz feta cheese-crumbled
Kalamata olives-optional
Juice of 1 lemon
Olive oil
Dried oregano
Salt and pepper

For the Shrimp:
1/2 pound medium shrimp-peeled and devained
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Dried oregano
Dried rosemary
Dried Thyme

1. Prepare pizza dough (recipe below) and set aside.

2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and place red bell pepper on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and bake for 10-15 minutes until soft. Set aside.

3. Prepare the shrimp: On a baking sheet place shrimp on a single layer and coat with olive oil, salt, pepper, dried oregano, dried thyme and dried rosemary to taste. Roast in the oven for 5-10 minutes until done; they should be opaque and pink. Set aside.

4. Turn the oven to 500 degrees F.

5. Roll out the pizza dough into an oval or rectangle shape to fit onto a baking sheet. Brush the dough with olive oil and season with dried oregano and a little black pepper. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes until golden brown.

6. While the pizza dough is baking, prepare the lettuce. Place the romaine lettuce in a bowl and dress with lemon juice, olive oil, oregano. Toss together.

7. Remove the pizza dough from the oven. Let cool 5 minutes. Once the dough is cool enough to handle, top it with dressed lettuce, cherry tomatoes, pepperoncini, feta cheese, cucumber, Kalamata olives and roasted red pepper. Scatter roasted shrimp on top of pizza and serve.

Pizza Dough: (For recipe above, only use 1 of 3 dough balls, freeze extra dough)

1. Prepare the pizza dough: In a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine yeast, sugar and warm water, stir gently to dissolve. Let the mixture stand 5- 10 mins until it starts to foam.
2. Turn the mixer on low and add the salt and 2 tbsps of olive oil. Add in the flour a little at a time, mixing on lowest speed, until flour is incorporated. Keep mixing on medium speed, if it feels really sticky add a little more flour, if it is dry and crumbly add a little more water.Keep mixing for 5 minutes until the dough comes to a ball and become elastic.
3. Coat the dough with a little oil and place it back in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and a damp towel and let it rise in a warm spot for 1 hour.
4. Once the dough has doubled in size, divide into 3 even balls. Cover and let rest for 10 mins to make it easy to roll out. (If the dough is not rolling easily, let it rest a little while longer.)
5. At this point you can use the dough immediately, wrap the balls of dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use, or you can freeze the dough for later use.
6. When you are ready to use the dough, preheat the oven to 500 degrees with baking sheet in the oven.
7. Roll each section out into a 12" circle or oval shape. Place the dough on parchment paper.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Stuffed Turkey Breast

Try this recipe over the weekend for a miniature thanksgiving dinner. The turkey came out nice and juicy and the stuffing was moist in the center and crispy on the edges. It's an easy way to have all the flavors of Thanksgiving without roasting an entire turkey for hours. You can find boneless turkey breasts in most grocery stores these days. Try to find one with the skin on.

When you make the stuffing add in whatever dried herbs you prefer.

This came out so good, I told my dad I would make it again for him to try soon. Dad, I promise to make this for you one day in the near future.

Stuffed Turkey Breast
Serves 4

1 Turkey breast-bones removed and skin on
1/2 loaf of white sandwich bread- cut into 2" cubes (You can leave this sitting out for a few hours to become a little stale)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove-minced
2 celery stalks-diced
1 onion-diced
Poultry seasoning or blend of dried thyme, rosemary, oregano, sage
1 egg
1 tbsp melted butter or olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

2. In a small skillet heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add in onion and celery and cook until softened;8-10 mins. Add in garlic and cook an additional 30 seconds. Remove from heat and set aside.

3. To prepare stuffing, place bread cubes in a large mixing bowl and add in onion,cerlery and garlic mixture. Add in salt, pepper and all other spices to taste (about 1-2 tsp per spice). Make sure you taste the mixture before you add the egg and re-season if desired. Add in enough water to moisten the bread and add in 1 egg slightly beaten. The mixture should be wet and mushy with no excess water.

4. To prepare turkey, butterfly the breast by slicing it lengthwise in the middle and spreading it open (do not slice it all the way through) Spread stuffing mixture on the inside of the turkey breast leaving 1" border. Roll the turkey breast like a jellyroll, until it is back to its original shape. Use butchers twine to keep together.

5. Brush melted butter or olive oil on the skin of the turkey and season with salt, pepper and paprika.

6. Place the turkey seam side down in a roasting pan. Roast for 1 3/4 hours to 2 hours until cooked through and the instant thermometer reads 150 degrees in the center. Cover turkey with foil and lest rest at room temperature for 15 minutes. Carve 1/2" slices and serve with stuffing and gravy.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Babies First Lamb Chop

Last night I made Layla her first lamb chop. I baked in at 400 degrees for 12 minutes and then pureed it with a little water and some butternut squash. She loved it!! Of course she likes lamb chops, but will not swallow chicken or turkey. It seems she already has expensive taste when it comes to food. I will do you all a favor and not post a picture for this one, pureed meat is not the most appetizing thing to look at.

Lamb for baby: Makes 3/4 cup 
1 boneless lamb chop or steak(6 oz)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F . Line a roasting pan with foil and lightly oil a rack and place it in foil lined pan. Place lamb on rack. Roast turning once until cooked throughout and no longer pink; 12-15 mins per side. Remove and let cool.

Using a large knife, chop lamb and transfer to food processor or baby bullet system. Puree for 1 minute; with machine running add in 1/4 cup of water. Process until smooth. Add enough additional water to make it the right consistency for your baby. If you would like to make the lamb a little chunkier, it is okay to mince the meat extra fine for the baby to eat (mince like you would garlic).

Store in refrigerator for 2 days or freeze for up to one month.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Oil and Vinegar Marble Pound Cake

I came up with the recipe because of a contest by The Crushed Olive in Stony Brook Village. The contest was to come up with a recipe using their balsamic flavor of the month, which was Dark Chocolate Balsamic.

This idea was inspired by an olive oil cake I tried years ago from a Mario Batali cookbook. I wanted to try and create my own original version of an oil and vinegar cake. I googled oil and vinegar cake recipes and found no results, so I decided to experiment and was very happy with the results. This cake tastes delicious and I am excited to have a recipe that I conceptualized in my head and had great results in the end. I feel this is truly my recipe (which can be a challenge when baking) I am looking forward to baking this over and over again.

This cake has an orange scented olive oil batter and a dark chocolate balsamic batter. I swirl them together and top it with a dark chocolate balsamic glaze. It results in a flavorful, moist marble pound cake that you can enjoy toasted for breakfast or with a scoop of ice cream of dessert.  You can find dark chocolate balsamic at specialty shops, such as The Crushed Olive, or you can find varieties online. I hope you enjoy this recipe

Oil and Vinegar Marble Pound Cake
Makes 1 Loaf

2 cups cake flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup good quality olive oil
3 tbsp unsalted butter-melted
1/4 cup heavy cream
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
Zest of 1 orange
2 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp dark chocolate balsamic vinegar.
For the Glaze:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3 tsp balsamic
1-2 tsp water

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Position the rack in the center of the oven. Butter and flour a 9” x 5” loaf pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the butter, olive oil, and cream. The mixture should have a thick liquid consistency. If the butter hardens into lumps, heat the mixture gently until it melts again. Set aside.
4. Using a stand mixer or hand held mixer, fitted with paddle attachment; beat together the eggs and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy; about 4-5 minutes. (This may take a few minutes longer with hand held mixer)
5. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the flour mixture into the egg mixture until just combined. Fold ¼ of the egg/flour mixture into the butter/cream mixture to lighten it. Then fold in the remaining egg/flour mixture until just combined.
6. Divide batter in half in two separate bowls. In one bowl, add in the zest of 1 orange. In the other bowl, add in 2 tbsp cocoa powder and 2 tbsp of dark chocolate balsamic vinegar.
7. Scoop large spoonful’s of each batter into the prepared pan, alternating between the “white” batter and “brown” batter. Once all the batter is in the pan, take a knife and swirl the two batters together a few times.
8. Bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until the top of the cake is golden brown and springs back when you press it in the middle. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes.
9. Meanwhile, prepare the glaze by combining powdered sugar, dark chocolate balsamic vinegar and enough water to create a smooth glaze.
10. When the cake has come to a warm temperature, pour the glaze over top of the cake, letting it drip down the sides.
11. The cake can be stored in an air tight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Enjoy!!!!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Stuffed Artichokes

Stuffed Artichokes...easier than you think. I was always under the impression that stuffed artichokes were difficult and time consuming to make. I was very wrong.

Over the weekend, my brother Stephen came out to visit. We always like to cook together when he is here for a few days and decided to have a feast. My dad has been asking for stuffed peppers, so I decided that was going to be the main dish. Stephen suggested we do a whole "stuffed" theme for dinner so we came up with stuffed peppers, stuffed artchokes and mini calzones stuffed with spinach. An Italian feast, which left us feeling...stuffed.

This recipe is very easy and the artichokes come out delicious. It is the perfect time of year to try this recipe because the artichokes are in season right now (springtime). Enjoy!

Stuffed Artichokes
Makes 4

4 large artichokes
1 3/4 cups dry bread crumbs (Italian seasoned works well)
1 cup grated pecorino romano cheese (or parmesan), plus extra for sprinkling (about 4 tbsp)
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp pepper
Zest of 1 lemon-optional
1-2 garlic cloves -minced
5 tbsp olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Prepare the artichokes by cutting the top 1/4 off with a serrated knife. Discard the outer leaves and cut the top of any leaves that seem rough/thick. They are now ready to be stuffed.

2. Prepare the filling by combining breadcrumbs, cheese, salt, pepper, lemon zest and garlic. Add enough oil 3-4 tbsp to create a wet paste (constancy of wet sand).

3. Spread the leaves of the artichokes a bit to make room for the stuffing and work the stuffing down into all the leaves. Transfer the artichokes to a shallow baking dish and drizzle a little more olive oil over top.

4. Pour boiling water into the baking dish about 1" deep on the artichokes. Cover tightly with foil (spray foil with non-stick spray) Bake until artichokes are tender; about 50-60 mins. Remove foil, sprinkle a little more cheese on top, and broil for 2-3 mins until golden brown.

(Adapted from Saveur Magazine)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Information About Nitrates in Baby Food

I was reading the handout the pediatrician gave me about feeding your baby solids and I came across this warning on certain foods you should not home-prepare for baby. It says not to make the following vegetables at home:

Collard Greens

The reason is because these vegetables contain large amounts of nitrates (chemicals that can cause an usual type of anemia in infants) Baby food companies are aware of this problem and screen the produce for nitrates before preparing and selling the food. If you do decide to prepare these vegetables at home, it is best to serve them fresh, do not store. Storage of these foods increase the amount of nitrates.

Although the handout from the doctor states the above information, I have found articles that say the risk of your baby getting nitrate poisoning is very unlikely. Check out this website for more information.

Hopefully you will find this information useful when making baby food at home.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Banana Cake

Life handed me 3 over ripe bananas yesterday and I decided to make banana cake. Its pretty similar to banana bread, just a little less dense. The recipe also calls for cream cheese frosting which I decided to leave off. However, the recipe for the frosting is below.

One of Layla's favorite foods are bananas. I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that I ate a banana everyday when I was pregnant?  An over ripe banana makes for perfect baby food. It is also one of the easier foods because it doesn't require any cooking.

If you would like to make the banana cake and banana baby food, you will need 4 ripe bananas. Add all the bananas to a stand mixer and mix on low speed until pureed. Scoop out 1/2 cup for baby and leave the rest for the cake.

Banana Cake
Serves 8

3 ripe bananas (add one banana to make baby food)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 light brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs-room temperature
1/2 sour cream (I did not have sour cream so I added 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Zest of 1 orange
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)
Cream cheese frosting- (optional) Recipe Below

1. Preheat over to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 x 2 inch round cake pan.

2. In a bowl of an electric mixer with paddle attachment mix the bananas until smooth. (If you are making baby food, scoop out 1/2 cup now)

3. Add in granulated sugar and brown sugar and mix on low until combined.

4. With the mixer on low, add in eggs, oil, sour cream (or yogurt), vanilla and orange zest. Mix until smooth.

5. In a separate bowl sift together the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, and salt. With mixer on low, gradually add in dry ingredients until just moistened. Stir in chopped walnuts.

6. Pour the batter into prepared pan and bake for 45-50 mins. Cool pan 15 mins and turn cake out on the wire rack to cool completely.

7. Spread the cream cheese frosting and top with walnuts.

(Recipe from Barefoot Contessa- How Easy is That? cookbook)

Cream Cheese Frosting:
Makes enough for one 9" cake

6 oz cream cheese at room temperature
6 Tbps unsalted butter at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups sifted confectioners sugar

Mix the cream cheese, butter and vanilla on low speed until just combined. Add in sugar and mix until smooth.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Cobb Salad

This past Christmas by brother Stephen gave my husband Tom bacon-of-the-month club (The perfect gift for Tom) This month we had a few strips left and I decided this was the perfect salad for both Tom and me to enjoy. This version is a little "lighter" then the original by using a low-fat buttermilk dressing, less blue cheese and bacon. Although it is a bit healthier, it is still just as flavorful as any cobb salad you've ever tried.

Cobb Salad
Serves 4

1 head butter or Boston lettuce-chopped
1 head of romaine lettuce-chopped
2 tomatoes-diced
1 avacado-diced
2 stripes of bacon-cooked and chopped
2 eggs-hard boiled and chopped
1 cup croutons
1/4 cup blue cheese

1/4 cup blue cheese
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
1/4 cup light mayo or greek yogurt (I like to use yogurt)
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper 

1. In a large bowl combine all the salad ingredients (as seen above) and set aside in the refrigerator until ready to serve. 

2. To make the dressing combine blue cheese, buttermilk, mayo or yogurt, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Toss salad with dressing and serve. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Parmesan Hasselbeck Potatoes

This is a spin on a traditional Swedish recipe for Hasselback potatoes. These potatoes are simple to make and taste amazing. I like to place thin slices of butter and parmesan cheese alternating between each layer. You can create any flavor combination you desire. I have seen these potatoes with thin slices of garlic in between the layers and even topped with melted cheddar cheese. Enjoy!!

Hasselbeck Potatoes
Serves 4

4 baking potatoes ( most potatoes work well with this recipe)
3-4 tbsp butter- thinly sliced
2-3 oz parmesan cheese or pecorino romano-thinly sliced
Olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. With a sharp knife cut about 1/8" slices along the potato, working your knife all the way to the bottom, but not slicing all the way through. Continue with all potatoes.

2. In between each slice, place a thin slice of butter alternating with a thin slice of parmesan cheese; until each section is filled.

3. Coat each potato with olive oil on all sides and place of a baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Bake at 400 degrees for 50-60 minutes; until tender in the middle and crispy of the outside. Serve immediately.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Eggplant Rollitini

If you are familiar with some of my recipes you will notice that I like to use roasted Roma tomatoes in place of tomato sauce. I find roasting the tomatoes to be just as easy, if not easier, than making your own sauce. It may not be as easy as buying sauce in a jar, but it is very fresh and has a lot of great flavor.

In my version of eggplant rollitini, I like to slice the eggplant very thin and fill it with a ricotta, Parmesan and spinach filling. I then top it with roasted tomatoes and a little fresh mozzarella and basil. You can find the recipe for roasted tomatoes below.

"Lighten" this recipe by using part skim ricotta cheese in the filling and adding a thin slice of fresh mozzarella on top of each eggplant rollitini.

Eggplant Rollitini
Serves 4 (4 rolls per person)

Olive oil
Salt and Pepper
10 Roma tomatoes (roasted-see recipe below)
15 oz ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 large egg
1 large handful of fresh spinach-chopped
1/2-1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp dried oregano
2 large eggplants-thinly sliced into 1/8" slices
8 oz fresh mozzarella
Basil to garnish

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Using a mandoline or knife slice the eggplant into very thin slices about 1/8" thick. Making sure to have around 16 slices total.

2. Season eggplant with salt and pepper and arrange on a parchment lined baking sheet. Cover with foil and bake until tender; about 5-7 mins (depending on thickness of eggplant slices)

3. Meanwhile, to make the filling combine ricotta, parmesan cheese, chopped spinach, egg, oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp black pepper. Set aside.

4. Once the eggplant is tender, remove from oven and pat dry with paper towels. Dividing the ricotta mixture evenly and spoon mixture onto eggplant, leaving a 1/4' border on the sides. Roll up the slices and place seam side down in a baking dish, sprayed with non stick cooking spray.

5. Top each roll with the roasted tomatoes, mozzarella and basil.

6. Cover the dish with foil and bake 40 minutes. Uncover and bake 10 more minutes. Place under the broiler for 3-5 minutes until cheese is slightly golden brown. Let cool 5-10 minutes before serving.

Roasted Tomatoes:
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 and pepper (add oregano rosemary and thyme; if desired). Roast in the oven for 25-35 minutes until very soft. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Slow Cooker Lamb Stew

I put a lot of love into this stew yesterday and it definitely paid off. This cooked low and slow all day filling my house with the amazing smell of rich lamb stew. The cut of meat I used was lamb osso bucco, which is the shank cut into pieces with the bone. I like to keep the bone in while cooking the stew because it imparts a lot of great flavor. If you cannot find that cut of meat, you can use lamb shoulder or boneless lamb stew meat. It will taste delicious no matter what.

Now that Layla is eating some meat, I pureed some of the vegetables and a little piece of lamb for her. I tried to use the least fatty part of the lamb for her to eat.

Slow Cooker Lamb Stew
Serves 4-6


2-2 1/2 lbs lamb osso bucco (shanks) or lamb shoulder with bones (If you are using meat with no bones you can use 1 to 1 1/2 lbs of meat)
2 tbsp flour
Salt and Pepper
2 large carrots-peeled and chopped in 1" pieces
2 onions- peeled and roughly chopped
1 to 1 1/2 pounds red potatoes- quartered
2 tsp dried thyme
1 cup white wine
1 (15 oz) can low-sodium beef broth
3 sprigs fresh rosemary-stems removed
1 tbsp fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
8 oz white button mushrooms- sliced 1/4" thick
1 tbsp fresh parsely

1. In a large deep skillet coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil and bring to med-high heat. Season lamb with salt, pepper and flour on all sides. Add lamb to the pan and brown on all sides. Do not rush this step, it takes around 10-15 minutes per batch (You only have to work in batches if there is too much meat to fit into the skillet, do not over crowd) Once all the meat is browned, transfer to slow cooker.

2. In the same skillet, add in carrots, potatoes and onions. Season with a little salt and pepper and add in the dried thyme. Cook 8- 10 minutes until vegetables are warm and slightly brown. Transfer to the slow cooker with lamb.

3. To the same skillet, add in 1 cup of white wine and scrape off any brown bits from the bottom of the pan; cook 1-2 minutes. Add in broth and cook addition 1-2 minutes. Pour mixture over lamb and vegetables in the slow cooker. Add in fresh rosemary, thyme and bay leaves to the slow cooker.

4. Cover and cook on low 8 hours or high for 5 hours. Around 45 minutes before serving, add in mushrooms. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Healthy Honey Apple Oatmeal Cookies

I came across the original recipe from Ellie Kreiger for Honey Oatmeal Raisin Cookies while trying to find healthy cookies that were not filled with sugar and butter. I was recently given a dozen granny smith apples and decided to adapt this recipe using apples instead of raisins. I have also changed/added a few other ingredients. Please do not expect these cookies to taste like the oatmeal cookies that use 2 sticks of butter and cups of sugar. They are slightly sweet, perfect for a healthy treat. I also like to make larger cookies and have them for a quick breakfast. I hope you enjoy!

Honey Apple Oatmeal Cookies
Makes 2 dozen cookies

2 Tbsp melted butter
1/4 canola oil
1/2 cup honey
1 egg
1/4 cup almond butter
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup dry non-fat milk
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg or ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1 3/4 cups oats
1 Granny Smith apple- finely diced
1/2 cup coconut- optional

1. Whisk together the wet ingredients: butter, oil, honey, egg, and vanilla.

2. Mix together the dry ingredients: dry milk, whole wheat flour, all purpose flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and oats.

3. Combine the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until fully incorporated.

4. Mix in the diced apple and coconut (if using)

5. Drop tablespoonfuls of cookie dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, silpat or lightly greased with non stick spray.

6. Bake 12 mins and cool on rack.

(Adapted from Ellie Kreiger's Honey Oatmeal Raisin Cookies)

Monday, March 5, 2012

Ham and Asparagus Stuffed Chicken Breasts

This is a nice change from the typical stuffed chicken breasts. This is very quick and easy to prepare for a weeknight meal the whole family will enjoy.

Ham and Asparagus Stuffed Chicken Breasts
Serves 4 (2 rolls per person) 

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
16 thin slices of deli ham
8 slices of cheese (swiss, montery jack, mozzarella or provolone)
1 bunch of asparagus-cut off large ends and discard
2 tsp dijon mustard
2 tsp honey
1 tsp cider vinegar
1 tsp worchestire sauce
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt and Pepper
1 tbsp olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Combine mustard, honey, vinegar, worchestire sauce, cayenne pepper and a little salt and pepper in a bowl; set aside.

3. Slice the chicken breasts in half lengthwise and pound each half thin ( 8 pieces total). Set aside.

4. Set up an assembly line of ham, cheese and 16 asparagus spears (cut in half) and mustard sauce.

5. Working with one chicken breast half at a time, spread on mustard sauce and then layer with ham, cheese and asparagus. Roll chicken and secure with toothpicks. Continue with the rest of the chicken. Season the rolled chicken with salt and pepper.

6. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add the chicken rolls and cook until golden brown on all sides. Transfer chicken to a baking dish and cook in 350 degree oven for about 10-15 minutes until chicken is cooked through but not dry.

7. Remove toothpicks and serve.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Biscotti with Homemade Espresso Chocolate Toffee

I have tried many different recipes for biscotti, and this recipe happens to be my favorite. The homemade toffee makes these cookies extra special. When you first make the toffee it is very crunchy and gets stuck in your teeth, but as it bakes into the dough, it melts and distributes itself throughout the warm cookies and creates a delicious chocolaty bite. Enjoy these cookies with a hot cup of coffee or tea.

Biscotti with Homemade Espresso Bean Chocolate
Makes 2 dozen cookies

Coffee Chocolate Toffee

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips 
1/2 stick of unsalted butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons molasses
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons finely ground coffee or espresso
Pinch of salt
1. In a saucepan over medium high heat, combine the following: butter, sugar, brown sugar, molasses, vanilla, coffee, and salt. 
2. Stir until the butter is melted and the ingredients are combined. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, until the mixture reaches around 230-250 degrees on a candy thermometer. 
3. Continue boiling, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches 280-300 degrees.
4. Remove the mixture from the heat and pour onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper or a Silpat. Spread the mixture evenly on the pan. 
5. Sprinkle the chocolate chips evenly over the hot toffee mixture and allow to sit for 5 minutes
6. Spread the melting chocolate over the top of the toffee mixture.
7. Allow to cool completely before cutting or breaking into pieces.
(Recipe adapted from 

Biscotti Recipe:

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup homemade coffee chocolate toffee (broken into small pieces) 
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • large eggs

  • 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  • 2. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl: flour, granulated sugar, toffee, brown sugar, and baking powder.
  • 3. Combine the wet ingredients in a bowl:  canola oil, vanilla, and eggs.

  • 4. Mix the dry and wet ingredients together until fully incorporated. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead lightly 7 to 8 times. 

  • 5. Divide dough in half and shape each portion into an 8-inch-long roll. Flatten each roll into a 1" thickness and place rolls 6 inches apart on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray or lined with parchment paper. 

  • 6. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Place rolls on a wire-rack to cool for 10 mins. 

  • 7. Cut each roll diagonally into 12-15 slices. Place the slices cut side down on the baking sheet. 

  • 8. Reduce the oven to 325 degrees and bake additional 10 mins. 

  • 9. Turn the cookies over and bake another 10 mins. 

  • 10. Remove from baking sheet and cool on wire rack. 

(recipe adapted from