Summer means vacation and vacation means an intricate and extensive system of lists. I make lists for the things that I want to pack for the trip. I make lists of things that I need to do before I walk out the door. And I make lists on my phone and random scraps of paper to add to the master list if something comes to mind when I'm away from my master list. I think I need help. Or at the very least, a support group for compulsive list makers. 😂
Clean out the refrigerator is always on my list of tasks to complete before leaving for vacation. And I don't just mean throwing away any food that might spoil while I'm away from the house. I mean a thorough, deep clean that involves bleach and a scrub brush. You know, to avoid the humiliation of having a neighbor wander through my empty house, open the refrigerator and judge me as a poor house keeper because there is a smear of buttercream on the bottom of a frig shelf while I'm lounging at the beach. 🤦🏻♀️
I actually love a good frig clean out - mostly because I love the challenge of having to use the contents to create a new and delicious meal. I feel like some of my best culinary creations have come from pre-vacation frig clean outs. Grain bowls with yummy vegetables, hummus and salsas. Pasta dinners accented with bits of cheese and scraps of meats. And vegetable stir fry's with leftovers from the soups or salads from the week.
The most recent frig clean out creation is so good that I hesitate to even categorize it as such. This Roasted Vegetable Flatbread was amazing. My plan for this recipe was to use up all the bits and pieces of vegetables that had been lingering just slightly too long in the vegetable drawer. What I ended up with was a flatbread pizza that I would recreate for guests. It really was that good.
Roasted Vegetable Flatbread
1 pizza crust
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 portobello mushroom, sliced
1/2 medium zucchini, sliced
7-8 sundried tomato slices
1/2 red onion, sliced
1/2 yellow pepper, sliced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/3 cup ricotta cheese
2 Tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup fresh mozzarella cheese
Bake another 12-15 minutes.
Yogurt parfaits are one of my favorite treats - both to eat and to serve to guests. There's always been one problem though - the yogurt makes the granola soggy, almost immediately. Knowing there had to be a solution to the problem of soft granola in parfaits - I set out to find it. Turns out - the answer is ... granola wedges.
If you layer the granola and fruit between layers of creamy yogurt, the granola will inevitably get soggy. If you limit the amount of granola that has contact with the yogurt though - the granola stays crispy and crunchy. One problem solved. The next issue that I had to figure out was how to make the granola crispy enough to hold together and stand up on its own.
My research proved that the keys to crispy granola that sticks together so it can be cut into wedges is maple syrup and longer baking times. Thanks to all of the test batches that it took me to figure this out, I now have A LOT of granola in my frig.😅 It's all in the name of science - you're welcome.😂 And you should know that this granola will still be a little soft when it comes out of the oven but it crisps up when it cools. A lesson that I learned the hard way.🤣
This is a unique granola recipe without oats or fillers. It really is yummy and if you don't want granola wedges, you can always crumble it.
2 cups sliced almonds
1 cup walnuts
½ cup raw pumpkin seeds
¼ cup sunflower seeds
¼ cup coconut oil
½ cup plus 1 Tablespoon maple syrup
Chop almonds and walnuts in food processor. Add to a bowl with pumpkin and sunflower seeds.
Bake 15 minutes at 350.
Crack into wedges.
Today I'm celebrating these amazing dads.
Since I won't be able to be with all of them this weekend, the plan is to extend the Father's Day celebrations for at least a month. A month of honoring dads with celebratory dessert is never a bad thing.🤣 🎂
Today we're kicking off our month long celebration of dads with a waffle bar.🧇 Yup, I said it. A WAFFLE BAR!!! In this house Father's Day means bellying up to a board full of crispy, golden waffles, pitchers of warm syrup, bowls of fresh summer fruit, crunchy granola, dark chocolate chips, cool Greek yogurt and creamy almond butter.
Yeast waffles might just be my all time favorite breakfast food. I can't really think of anything more worthy of getting out of my bed for than a warm, crispy waffle dusted with powdered sugar. Oh wait --- yes, I can. A warm, crispy CHOCOLATE waffle dusted with powdered sugar.🤣 #chocolatemakeseverythingbetter
The question remains - Why have I never made chocolate yeast waffles before? I have no answer to that but I am so glad that chocolate yeast waffles are in my life now. And the extra miles that I'm going to have to add to my morning walk to burn off all the extra waffle calories is totally going to be worth it. Enjoy!
1 1/2 cups milk
4 Tablespoons butter
1/4 cup honey
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup almond flour
1 1/2 tsp yeast
1 tsp salt
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
2 teaspoons vanilla
The name of the game when you're cooking is taste along the way.👩🏻🍳 Trust me when I tell you that I learned this lesson the hard way. Ever tried a sugarless cake or a cookie made with salt instead of sugar? 🤣😝 It's embarrassing to admit but it's happened to more than once so now I sample everything that I make. It's a good way to prevent mistakes but it's also the best way to adjust seasoning, test for tenderness and learn how the food changes during cooking.
Baking and tasting is a great gig when I have to make a chocolate cake or buttery shortcake, but my role as a caterer requires that I make foods that I don't necessarily enjoy eating too. I'm a pollo-pescatarian which means that I eat chicken and fish but I don't eat a lot of pork or beef. As you might imagine, this presents a problem when trying to fine tune meat recipes to serve to clients.
This is where my food tasters come into play. There's a certain level of trust that has to exist between the cook and the food taster. And let me say for the record that my tasters can be just one bacon, tomato, swiss, peanut butter sandwich away from losing their title of food taster.🤣 🤪 🤣
In all seriousness though, I have a handful of trusted individuals who's opinions about food, I value and respect. I use their feedback to help me tweek my pork and beef recipes. I actually find it super helpful to get more opinions than my own on a recipe. After all, I want the food to appeal to the people who will consume it.
I used my food tasters to help me with my Short Rib Crostini recipe and I've got to say - they nailed it. I served these at a party at they were a huge hit. I heard nothing but rave reviews about the short rib crostini from my guests. I cooked the short rib ahead of time so all I had to do on the day of the party was assemble the crostini. It's always helpful to have a few make-ahead appetizers when I'm hosting a party too.
Short Rib Crostini
1 lb . bone-in beef short ribs
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 Tablespoon olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium carrot, cut into thick slices
1 stalk celery, sliced
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 Tablespoon honey
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper
twelve 1/2--thick slices baguette
1/4 cup olive oil
2 ounces blue cheese
2 ounces black cherry jam
fresh chives, chopped
Top each crostini with jam, cheese, short rib mixture and chopped chives.
For those of you who don't already know - I'm half Italian and I've been to my fair share of Italian weddings but to this day - I've never been served "wedding soup" at one of these matrimonial celebrations.😅 I couldn't help but wonder if my experiences were the exception, or if wedding soup really isn't served at Italian wedding receptions - so I googled it.
Turns out - "Italian Wedding Soup, is actually an ancient Neapolitan soup called minestra maritata, which translates to 'married soup', not wedding soup. It refers to the 'marriage' of bits of inexpensive meat and leafy greens which make up the main ingredients." 🍲🤦🏻♀️ I guess that explains why I've never been served wedding soup at an Italian wedding. 🤷🏻♀️
For 52 years - I've pictured brides and grooms all over Italy sipping from giant bowls of steaming hot wedding soup following their nuptials like it was good luck.🤣 Shows what I know. My assumptions about this delicious soup may have been shattered but that doesn't change my adoration for it. And now that I have more realistic expectations, I won't be disappointed when it's absent from the next Italian wedding buffet. 😅
My Italian wedding soup may look a little different from most. You might say that it's been Amy-fied. Chicken meatballs with chicken sausage - all the stuff I love. I swapped out kale for spinach, loaded it up with carrots and celery and finished it off with a bright squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese. If you love wedding soup, but not red meat - you need to try my chicken version. Even the meat lovers in the house agreed - this is delicious wedding soup.
Italian Wedding Soup
2 Tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 stalks celery, sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon dried thyme
8 cups chicken stock
2 bay leaves
½ cup uncooked acini di pepe pasta
1 sprig rosemary
3 cups baby spinach, chopped
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
¼ cup shredded Parmesan
½ pound ground chicken
½ pound chicken sausage, casing removed
⅓ cup Panko
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 large egg
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon dried parsley
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
Stir in acini de pepe, spinach, lemon juice and parsley and cook 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve with shredded parmesan.
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