Have you tried to pick out a healthy box of cereal lately. There's no telling how much of my life I've wasted standing in cereal aisle, staring blankly at shelves filled with rows and rows of cereal boxes. ⏱ All I want to do is choose a box of cereal for my family that's relatively healthy and not loaded with sugar. I used be a Raisin Bran fan but I recently read that Raisin Bran has the more sugar than MOST other cereals on the shelves. 😳 Wait - it's fruit right?
It seems like every week, I stand in the aisle, staring at the shelves trying to choose a new healthy cereal. It's easy to eliminate the boxes with pictures of cookies or doughnuts on them but there's a lot of unhealthy cereal disguised in healthy looking boxes too. I carefully scrutinize ingredient lists and nutritional information until my brain gets overloaded with facts and grams and calories. At some point, I end up just grabbing a box and hoping for the best.
It shouldn't be this hard to choose a cereal that's low in sugar and high in whole grains. I don't think that I'm an indecisive person. I feel like there are just more and more options on the grocery store shelves every single week. Have you seen the yogurt section lately? There are literally twenty different kinds of nearly identical blueberry yogurt varieties. 🍶
It's easy for me to get overwhelmed when I'm at the grocery store. I want to pick out the most healthy food to serve my family but it's getting harder and harder for me to navigate through all of the products on the shelves. Sooooo, I do my best to shop the fresh foods around the perimeter of the store and avoid the processed foods in the interior aisles. It's never going to be possible for me to eliminate processed food completely from my shopping list completely because I can't live without things like garbanzo beans and tortillas. 🌮 And who would want to?
Thank goodness for recipes with ingredients that I don't need to research ahead of time to make sure they're safe and healthy to feed my family. Cabbage, carrots, mint, lime and onions are all things that I can buy all year at my local Sprouts store. Grilled Coleslaw with Lemon-Herb Vinaigrette is the perfect side dish with delightfully fresh and easy to choose ingredients.
Grilled Coleslaw with Lemon-Herb Vinaigrette
1/2 small napa cabbage
4 Tablespoons olive oil
1 lime, halved
1 green onion, sliced thin
1 Tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh mint
Butternut squash is one my favorite of all of the edible gourds. (Doesn't everyone have a favorite gourd?) Any vegetable with BUTTER in the name is a winner in my book. I typically like to eat my squash roasted or grilled but for a nice change of pace in the Fall, I enjoy turning a big beautiful squash into soup. 🥣There's something about cool evenings, a blanket of crisp leaves covering the ground and a big bowl of butternut squash soup that I find so comforting. (I also like caramel apples and apple cider doughnuts in the Fall but I'm choosing to channel my energy into healthier seasonal cravings today.) 🍩🍏😂
The great thing about this Butternut Squash and Red Pepper Soup is that you can make it "light" and healthy or really go for it and create something super rich and creamy. You can make my recipe as written for a bowl of super flavorful deliciousness OR you can reinvent it and create your own bowl of squashy goodness. Stir in a tablespoon or two of cream, sprinkle toasted walnuts or roasted corn on top or toss on a few homemade croutons. Go crazy with your vegetable soup. So many herbs and nuts to experiment with.
Butternut Squash and Red Pepper Soup
4 ounces pancetta, cut into 1/2" pieces
6 cups butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1" pieces
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
4 cups chicken broth
1 Tablespoon sherry
Sprinkle individual portions with pancetta.
Who knew that eating my vegetables could be so delicious?
Does it mean that you're a foodie if you sign up for a cooking class while you're on vacation? (Not asking for a friend.) 😂 I'm fully embracing my foodie status today - There was no way that I was going to miss out on the opportunity to learn to cook LIKE an Italian FROM and Italian - in ITALY - even if it means I earn the title "foodie". 🇮🇹 Spending the day making classic Italian food with the love of my life in the beautiful town of Bellagio was pretty much a dream come true.
We started off our cooking class with a trip to the market where we shopped for our ingredients. Then we spent the afternoon creating the most delicious Italian food that I've ever tasted. Homemade pasta, bolognese sauce, bruschetta (aka ragu) and tiramisu - oh my.
I'll admit that it's possible that sitting at an elegantly dressed table under a grapevine awning in the middle of our favorite little Italian town on a beautiful Fall day, influenced my opinion of the food. I may have forgotten some of the details about that day, like the weight of the flour and the amount of fresh sage to put in the sauce, but I'll remember the memories that we made on this special day for a very long time.
It took 7 people (including 1 professional) 6 hours to create this dream Italian meal. I anticipated that it would take me roughly 3 days to recreate this meal at home - by myself. 😂 Soooo, I decided to tackle it in stages - or a series of days to be exact.
This is how my Italian cooking week went -
Day 1 - I shopped for ingredients including Italian tomatoes, ground veal and dried ladyfingers. (In case you're curious - I had to visit was 3 different grocery stores to get these special ingredients.)
Day 2 - I tackled the Bolognese sauce, divided it into containers and stored it in the refrigerator.
Day 3 - I made the tiramisu and let it sit in the frig overnight (A technique that our instructor recommended for better consistency.)
Day 4 - I made the bruschetta and homemade pasta, opened the wine and served my version of food.
My goal was to replicate the cooking class meal as closely as I could - with ingredients that are available on this continent. 😂 (I actually did a little happy dance when I ran across these tomatoes in World Market because this was the exact brand of tomatoes that we used to make our Bolognese in Italy.) Replicating the meal was easier than trying to recreate the beautiful ambience in stunning Bellagio.
1/4 cup olive oil
1 stalk celery
3 bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
25 ounces tomato puree
1 cup water
7 ounces finely chopped canned tomatoes
1 cup red or white wine
salt and pepper
1/3 pound ground veal
1/3 pound ground pork sausage
1/3 pound ground beef
Discard bay and rosemary and season with additional salt and pepper if necessary.
Serve ragu with pasta.
I made two separate batches of ragu because well, it's ragu and you and can never have enough. Just to be sure that I was being thorough in my research, I wanted to make a batch of the ragu made with white wine and compare it to a batch of ragu made with red wine. (All in the name of research. 😂)Turns out - even though I'm partial to a glass of red wine with dinner - I was a fan of the white wine ragu. Don't get me wrong - both ragu sauces were amazing and I would never turn down a bowl of either. I recommend doing your own "research" though. 🍝
Ciao from Bellagio!
I have a love/hate relationship with social media. It's been a great tool to help me stay connected to people that I don't get to see very often and reconnect with old friends that live far away. I also find that social media is a great way to connect with clients and I actually take a lot of catering orders through my social media accounts. I also scroll through Twitter looking for restaurant suggestions and I search Pinterest for recipe ideas when I need inspiration.
There are a lot of reasons to LOVE social media but I also find social media content that irritates me on a daily basis. I feel hypocritical when I criticize social media though because I've got multiple accounts on Facebook and accounts on Instagram, SnapChat, Twitter AND Pinterest. They're a great source of information but sometimes it's far too much information. (Facebook users know what I'm talking about.) Facebook users, please don't be offended by my scrutiny but I'm NOT interested in taking your surveys, "sharing" your chain status on my wall or donating to your child's hamster fund.
I'm sure that some of these very same people that I criticize for over sharing, would condemn me for posting too many food pictures on social media. I've actually had people hide my posts and unfollow me because they didn't want to look at my food porn. (Again: Pot - kettle) I willingly admit to over posting food pictures.
So here I go again - adding another recipe to social media that is already saturated with recipes. The difference is this. I actually made this recipe in my own home. I took pictures along the way to help you follow the step by step instructions. AND this is a real recipe and not just the abbreviated Facebook version created in high speed motion with the snap of a finger.
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
3 Tablespoons olive oil
4 (6 ounce) top sirloin steaks
1/2 onion, chopped fine
1 Tablespoon flour
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
3/4 cup + 1 Tablespoon sweet Marsala
4 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon minced fresh parsley
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Stir in parsley, lemon juice and 1 T. Marsala. Season with salt and pepper. Slice steaks thin and serve sauce over steak.
I don't feel like I accurately captured this steak marsala in photographs. The pictures on this post don't really do this recipe justice. Don't be fooled by the awkward pictures - this recipe really is delicious.
The pumpkin spice movement is in full swing. It is absolutely everywhere. I love a great pumpkin spiced drink but there are some things that just have no business in the pumpkin world. Pumpkin spice cereal, pop tarts, yogurt, protein powder, salsa, oreos, jello, applesauce, kale chips, popcorn, butter, marshmallows, peeps and almonds. I'm not kidding - I've seen pumpkin spice varieties of every one of these foods in the grocery store. (Do people really eat pumpkin spice peeps?)😝 I think we've taken this Pumpkin Spice Movement too far.
It seems like we heave ourselves into pumpkin season at the first sign of color on a maple leaf. Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts started selling Pumpkin Spice Lattes on August 21st this year! 😳 Personally, I like to wait until October before I indulge in a Pumpkin Spice latte.
If you're NOT a fan of pumpkin spice, I've got just the recipe for you. (Holly) It's packed with the fresh Fall flavors that you crave without even a hint of pumpkin. Apple Cider Doughnuts!!! I feel like the poor little apple has been pushed aside by the bright orange gourd as the featured fruit of the season. 🍎 I don't want to abrogate the pumpkin lovers. I love pumpkin as much as I love apples but I do feel like the pumpkin craze has overshadowed the appeal of a freshly picked, crispy Fall apple.
Apple cider doughnuts are just about the best thing about Fall. You can even make this dough ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator until you're ready to fry your doughnuts to save valuable time in the morning. They're perfect for breakfast, they make a great for a late night snack and they're a delicious addition to any brunch buffet.
Apple Cider Doughnuts
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup thawed apple juice concentrate
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup buttermilk
4 Tablespoons butter, melted
2 quarts canola oil for frying
Dip warm doughnuts in coating and place on rack to cool.
I'll bet that you can NOT stare at these pictures without craving a warm, apple cider doughnut. This recipes is definitely getting added to my "fall favorites" category on the blog? If you haven't checked out this category on the right side of the blog - you need to. Lots of yummy apple, pumpkin and cinnamon inspired recipes.
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