Friday, March 29, 2013

Easter Table: Carrot Napkins

I am really bad about keeping up with posts when there is a holiday coming up. This is probably the time I should be posting delicious recipes for Easter but I usually take on too much and have no time to cook and take pictures the week before.

My mother-in-law showed me this cute idea the other day and I decided it would be perfect for my Easter brunch. It is so easy to put together and looks really cute on the table. All you need is orange napkins, green utensils and ribbon. Have a great Easter!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Passover Coconut Macaroons

If you are celebrating Passover, bring these delicious and super easy coconut macaroons to your Seder. 

Sugar Dusted Coconut Macaroon (recipe from Martha Stewart Living)
Makes 18 cookies

2 1/2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
5 tsp pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
Confectioners sugar for dusting

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Combine coconut, sugar, egg whites, vanilla and salt in a large bowl using your hands or a wooden spoon; mix together well.

3.  Form 2 tablespoons of the mixture into 2 inch tall trees with your hands, using fingertips to make pointed top. Place each tree on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Alternatively  place 2 rounded tablespoons of mixture onto parchment lined baking sheet. Space 1" apart. 

4. Bake until edges are golden brown and cookies are firm, 12-14 minutes. Let cool on baking sheet on a wire rack at least 15 minutes. Cookies can be make up to 1 day ahead, dust with confectioners sugar before serving. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Guest Post from Attic Lace: D.I.Y Easter Egg Holders

Today we have a special guest post from my friend Sarah. Check out her blog Attic Lace where she shares beautiful D.I.Y projects, recipes and more... 

Today's post is all about Easter decor. I am so excited to try this project for my Easter brunch table. Thanks Sarah for the great idea! 

"I've really been enjoying seeing the ways that people have been reusing old plastic Easter eggs lately. I had a few laying around here also, so I decided it would be fun to reuse them to make some cute little egg holders for my real Easter eggs this year! I decided to make three of them, two of the same and one different. The two that are the same each use a top and a bottom of an egg, and the different one uses two tops (making it little taller). So I got together 4 plastic "tops" and 2 "bottoms". Then I gave them all two coats of white paint.  (I used craft acrylic paint, but you could spray paint them instead if you'd like)"

" After the paint dried, I used Krazy glue to attach the halves of the eggs together, end to end. Then I used a little more white paint to touch up any spots where the glue was visible."

"When everything was good and dry, I used some thin ribbons, trimmings, and tiny flowers to add a little sweetness to my new egg holders (I used a bit of hot glue here). This was the fun part:) I even used some gold paint to make a little scalloped pattern on my tall egg holder. The decorating possibilities are really endless here, you could even do family initials on each!"

"When I was all finished, I used a bit of Spanish moss to stuff the tops, to make little "nests" for my eggs! You could use Easter grass or crinkle-paper here too...."

"I had such a great time making these, and I hope you do too! It's nice to be able to give something old a new purpose once in a while! I'm so happy I got the chance to stop by today! Thanks Ali!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Twice Baked Potatoes with an Egg, Basil and Cheese

As I have mentioned before, I usually do breakfast for dinner once a week. It's convenient, budget friendly and who doesn't love breakfast?
This recipe is a spin on eggs and home fries. I added some fresh basil and Pecorino Romano to my twice baked potatoes, but you can add any flavors you like to this dish. I think cheddar cheese and chives would work great too...maybe even some crispy bacon crumbled on top. Enjoy!

Twice Baked Potatoes with an Egg, Basil and Cheese
Serves 2

2 large baking potatoes
2 tbsp butter-room temperature (you can add as much or as little as you would like)
2 tbsp sour cream  (you can add as much or as little as you would like)
Milk (if needed)
1/4 cup grates Pecorino Romano Cheese
1/4 fresh basil, chopped
4 eggs

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Bake potatoes for 50 minutes to 1 hour until very tender when pierced with a fork. Set aside until cool enough to handle (you can bake the potatoes ahead of time)

2. Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop out flesh of potatoes into a bowl, leaving 1/8" border in potato skin. Into the bowl with the flesh of potatoes, mash in sour cream, butter, basil and Pecorino Romano cheese. Add in enough milk to make the potatoes very creamy. Season with salt and pepper to taste. (This step is easy in an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment)

3. Add the creamy potato mixture back into the skin and place on a baking sheet. Make a well in the potato mixture and crack 1 egg on each half. Bake at 400 degrees F for 13-15 minutes (13 minutes will yield a runnier yolk)

4. Garnish with some extra chopped basil and cheese.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Healthy Snack or Lunch Idea: Apple Peanut Butter Rounds

I make this all the time for a healthy afternoon snack to hold me over until dinner or sometimes I eat this for lunch with a handful of G.F. pretzels and a piece of dark chocolate.

I also make this for Layla as a snack by thinly slicing the apple and just topping it with smooth peanut butter and cutting the "sandwiches" into strips that are easy to eat. I like to cut away the skin to make it easier for her to chew.

Apple and Peanut Butter Rounds

1 apple-sliced into thin rounds (save the other part of the apple for snacking)
1-2 tbsp all natural peanut butter or almond butter
Handful of raisins
Drizzle of honey
Toasted pine nuts,  chopped walnuts, pecans or almonds

Thinly slice the apple into 8 rounds. Top 4 apple rounds with peanut butter, raisins, nuts and drizzle with a little honey. Top each round with the other 4 apple slices and sprinkle with cinnamon. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Fifty Shades of Chicken: Please Don't Stop Chicken Recipe

"He sits down at the table, and jeez, does he look hot. He pulls off his white apron and runs a hand through that amazing just-cooked hair. I think I could faint before he even takes a bite. I'm in warm pieces all over the plate. My own juices mingle with the sticky sweet jam he's spread all over me. My skin feels melting and soft. He ignores the fine silver flatware and picks up a thigh with both hands. Wow. He slowly closes his mouth around my thigh, causing clear, hot juice to drip over his delectable lip"

I was recently given this cookbook Fifty Shades of Chicken by FL Fowler. If you're a fan of the series Fifty Shades of Grey, you will definitely get a kick out of this book. A major plus...the recipes are fantastic and delicious.

The books tells a story between a chicken and her chef. He uses all the tools, such as butchers twine and knives to put her into submission. The recipe titles are provocative, for example: Popped Cherry Chicken (Roasted Chicken with Cherries and Herbs), Extra Virgin Breasts, Chicken with a Lardon (Roasted Chicken with Bacon) Red Cheeks, Cock Au Vin, and Back door beer can many more.

The recipe below is simple to put together and really delicious. My family has already made this a few times. It is perfect for a weeknight when you want to get something in the oven with little hands on time. I hope you enjoy this recipe.

Please Don't Stop Chicken (Baked Chicken with Apricot Jam, Sage and Lemon Zest) Adapted from original recipe from Fifty Shades of Chicken
Serves 4

8 chicken thighs: bone in-skin on (This recipe will only work with skin on chicken)
1 1/4 tsp kosher salt
3/4 tsp pepper
5 sprigs of fresh sage-chopped
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon
1/3 cup apricot jam
1 tsp apricot jam
1 tbsp soy sauce-low sodium
1 garlic clove-minced (optional)

1. In a large bowl gently massage chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Add the sage and a tablespoon of oil and toss well. If you have the time, let marinate for 6 hours to over night. If you're in a hurry just continue with the recipe, it will still taste great.

2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grate the zest of 1 lemon, then squeeze the juice into a small bowl. Add the jam, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce and garlic to lemon zest/juice. Mix well.

3. Rub the sticky jam mixture all over the chicken thighs and lay them down in a 9" x 13" baking dish. Leaving room between each piece.

4. Bake for 45-55 minutes, until the skin is golden and caramelized and the juices run clear. Serve hot out of the oven and enjoy!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Lemon Yogurt Cake

I can't believe I haven't shared this recipe with you before. This is one of my favorite recipes for a quick and simple delicious cake. Most of the time I have these ingredients on hand, so this shows up in our kitchen quite often. It makes a perfect breakfast/brunch cake for guests or even a simple dessert served with some whipped cream and hot tea. This would be a great recipe for an upcoming Easter Brunch. Enjoy! 

The recipe below includes a glaze to pour over top of the cake. I usually do not add the glaze because my family tends to prefer the cake without the sweetness of the glaze. However, if you think you would prefer to add the glaze, by all means...glaze away. 

See if you can spy my sous chefs little hands helping me take the photos :) 

Lemon Yogurt Cake (Recipe from Barefoot Contessa at Home) 
Yields 1 loaf

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour 
2 teaspoons baking powder 
½ teaspoon kosher salt 
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt 
1 1/3 cups sugar, divided 
3 extra-large eggs 
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons) 
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
½ cup vegetable oil 
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice 

For the glaze: 
1 cup confectioners’ sugar 
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice 

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 ½ x 4 ¼ x 2 ½-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan. 
2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into one bowl. 
3.In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. 
4. With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it’s all incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

5. Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup lemon juice and remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.

6. When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan. While the cake is still warm, pour the lemon-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in. Cool.

7. For the glaze, combine the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice and pour over the cake. 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Flour-less Ooey Gooey Double Dark Chocolate Cookies

These are some of the best cookies I have ever made. They are a perfect mix of chewy, crispy and ooey gooey deliciousness. The outer shell of the cookie is a little crispy, similar to a french macaroon or meringue, and the middle is chocolaty and gooey, which makes up the ultimate cookie in my opinion.

I was immediately drawn to this recipe on pinterest because it was a flour-less cookie, making it gluten free. I was also happy to see that they have no butter and come in at about 72 calories per cookie. You have to try this recipe when you get a chance. They are positively addicting and best served warm out of the oven. Actually, writing this blog post is making me crave them right now..I think I'll go whip up a batch.

Flour-less Ooey Gooey Double Dark Chocolate Cookies (recipe comes from
Makes 24 cookies

1 1/2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips (about 9 ounces)
3 large egg whites, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar, divided (plus extra for dusting)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two baking sheets with non stick spray or line with parchment paper.

2. Melt 1 cup of chocolate chips in a glass bowl in microwave, stirring twice, about 1.5 to 2 minutes. Cool slightly.

3. In a bowl of an electric mixer, beat egg white to soft peaks. Gradually add in 1 cup of powdered sugar. Continue beating on med-high until mixture resembles soft marshmallow cream.

4. Whisk 1 cup of powdered sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch and salt in a medium bowl. On low speed, add in dry ingredients to egg white mixture.

5. Slowly mix in the lukewarm chocolate mixture and 1/2 cup of chocolate chips (dough will become stiff)

6. Place rounded tablespoons of dough onto prepared sheets (to coat with sugar after baking) OR roll 1 rounded tablespoon dough into a ball; roll into powdered sugar to coat and place on baking sheet. Place cookies 2 inches apart.

7. Bake for about 10 minutes until puffed and tops crack. Cool baking sheet on rack for 5 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool. I like to eat them warm out of the oven.
**If you did not roll dough in sugar, dust cookies with powdered sugar once cooled. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Portobello Mushrooms with Melted Gorgonzola Cheese

Every once in a while, my husband and I have what we call "Cheese Night". Instead of cooking a big meal for dinner we get a few good quality cheeses, crackers, and I make some other appetizers or salads to go along. This past "Cheese Night" I decided to try and recreate a dish I had at Maroni's in Northport. The original dish was Portobello Mushroom with Gorgonzola, balsamic reduction and a basil oil. The only difference with my version is I opted to use fresh basil instead of the basil oil. The dish was very similar and tasted great. I would definitely make this again, especially for company. It would make a great appetizer on top of a bed of  mixed greens.

Portobello Mushrooms with Melted Gorgonzola Cheese balsamic reduction and basil
Serves 4

Side Salad, Fresh Tomato with Basil, Pecorino Romano in Balsamic, Crostini and Portobello

4 Portobello Mushroom caps- stems and grills removed gently
Good Quality Gorgonzola cheese (enough for about 2 tbsp per mushroom)
Olive Oil
1 cup balsamic vinegar
Fresh Basil-chopped (reserve some for garnish)

1. To make the balsamic reduction: add 1 cup of vinegar into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10-15 minutes (sometimes it can take up to 20 minutes) and reduce liquid by half. Remove from the heat and let cool (vinegar will thicken even more as is cools, make sure to keep your eye on the vinegar to prevent it from over reducing and burning)

2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Brush mushrooms with olive oil on both sides and place onto  a baking sheet stem side facing up. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until mushrooms as soft. Remove from oven and soak up any liquid with a paper towel.

3. Crumble as much or as little of the Gorgonzola cheese as desired onto the mushroom and sprinkle with some fresh basil. Brush a little more olive oil on the outside rim of the mushrooms to prevent them from drying out. Place back in the oven for 10 minutes or until Gorgonzola cheese has melted. You can also place the mushrooms under the broiler to melt cheese.

4. Remove mushrooms from oven and transfer them to serving dish or plate. Drizzle with balsamic reduction and fresh basil and serve immediately.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Maroni's Restaurent: 20 course meal

I was a lucky girl this year for my birthday able to spend it with friends and family at Maroni's, a restaurtant located in Northport, NY. The meal consists of around 20 or so courses and includes as much wine, beer or soft drinks as you would like. The food and atmosphere of this place is amazing. You are surrounded by rock and roll memorabilia and Led Zepplin playing in the background. The decor couldn't be more perfect for my rock and roll loving husband. What could be better than listening to his favorite music, surrounded by pictures of rock legends while being fed 20 courses of food for 3 hours? It was a perfect night with perfect company and great food. I hopefully will be celebrating many more birthdays at this restaurant.

The pictures below are some of the courses we had the pleasure of trying. I will post a recipe this week of the Portobello mushroom with Gorgonzola that I recreated at home (one of our favorite of the night). I would definitely recommend trying this place. It is expensive at $125.00 per person but for a special occasion, I would say it is well worth it. I also have to add that they are accommodating to food allergies. You may not be able to taste everything but they will try to substitute when they can. I'll admit that I have a gluten allergy and I couldn't resist tasting everything. They did give my gluten free pasta, which was the BEST I have ever had!

Scallop Ceviche 

Homemade Potato Chip with Creme Fraiche and Caviar 

Seafood Platter with Shrimp Cocktail, Raw Oysters, Clams and King Crab Legs 

Portobello Mushroom with Gorgonzola Cheese, Balsamic and Basil Oil 

Braised Oxtail 

Veal Chop Parmigiana with Crispy Kale 

Black Pasta with Shrimp

Baked Clams 

Gluten Free Pasta with Homemade Tomato Sauce 

Upper Left: Crispy Crawfish Bottom Right: Ruffy with Asparagus and Fried Capers

Kobe Beef Sliders with Tater Tots

Chicken Cutlet with Fresh Mozzarella, Tomato and Bail 

Zucchini Parmigiana 

Lobster Crab Salad on Homemade Potato Chip 

Butter Poached Lobster on Mashed Potatoes 

Dessert WAS....Creme Brulee, Homemade Chipwiches, Homemade Dove Ice Cream Bars,
Cheesecake and Chocolate Mousse with Toasted Marshmallow