Tag Archives: recipe

Pignolia. A Love Story.

29 Dec

Pignolia. Pine nuts. Whatever the name oh how I love ’em! This more than just a passing crush or a fanciful flirtation. J’adore! Flexibility with this seed means that they can go into so many dishes! Are you living a keto, vegan, paleo, or gluten free lifestyle? No problem. Bring on the pignolia. Not only that, with a busy lifestyle, the grab and go ease of pine nuts just add to their fabulousness!

Pine nuts often get overlooked. If you have eaten them in the past and gotten away from them, this is a little nudge to add them back into the mix. If you have never tried them, well, there is no time like the present.

These buttery textured delights can be a perfect addition to a granola snack mix, tossed on a salad, or blended into your favorite pesto and home made hummus. The flavor packed pine nut shouldn’t be saved for the special occasions-add them into the regular rotation of goodies!

Pine nuts are literally the seeds from pine cones. There are many species of pine nuts but don’t let that intimidate you. Don’t let the cost sway you away from these delicious little nuggets either. A little can go a long way.

Why add them into your diet? Pine nuts are rich in many nutrients that boost metabolism and bolster immune system health. So they not only taste delicious, they can help your body resist disease. Also, they are especially rich in monounsaturated fatty acids which can naturally lower bad cholesterol.

And if you still need convincing, look no further than your mirror. Pine nuts are rich in vitamin E. What does that have to do with your beauty regime? Vitamin E is excellent for cells-which helps maintain beautiful skin. Toss that makeup aside and start eating more of these flavor packed kernels.

They are delicious right out of the bag, but toasting pine nuts kicks my love affair with them into overdrive. Why go through the extra step to toast pine nuts? It intensifies their unique nuttiness and adds a slightly firmer bite. Adding them to a recipe, a salad, or even a creamy slice of cheesecake lends a wonderful toasty flavor layer.

And it is easy peasy to do. First simply toss the pine nuts into a dry heated pan. No oil is needed here.  Put them on a medium heat and spread in an even layer.

 

Put the pine nuts in a dry pan.

Keep your eye on them, stirring every few minutes while they heat up. They will become deliciously fragrant as they toast.

As these seeds toast they begin to emit a lovely warm fragrance.

Don’t leave the kitchen-nuts can burn quickly. While they toast, the enticing scents wafting through your kitchen will get your mouth watering!

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When they are perfectly golden brown, remove them from the heat and place them on a plate. It is hard to resist the temptation to pop those delectable nuts into your mouth by the handful while they cool.

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Now you can add them to your favorite recipe or simply sprinkle on anything! Put them on a salad. Add them as a cheesecake garnish. Make a big batch of pesto-some for now and some for later. Create some one of a kind home made hummus. Add them to a granola and nut snack mix. Let your creativity abound! One taste and you will fall in love with toasty pine nuts too!

Basic Pesto:

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup parsley leaves
  • 1 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 cloves fresh garlic finely minced
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup fresh Parmesan cheese, grated
  • salt and pepper to taste

Put all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Use as a sauce for pesto or vegetables, or brush on fish or chicken. 1/2 cup cream may be added for a creamy pesto sauce which is lovely on tortellini.

Hummus:

  • I 15 ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts, plus more for garnish
  • 2 T. Fresh lemon juice
  • 2 T. Tahini (may substitute 1-2 T. peanut butter or omit
  • 1 t. paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Place all items in blender and blend until smooth. May add more olive oil if necessary for desired consistency. Garnish by sprinkling more toasted pine nuts before serving.

 

 

Hearty Cocoa Oatmeal

16 Nov

November is here. It is the time of year for a hot nutritious breakfast so we can brave the cold. Take a break from the norm. My favorite winter weather breakfast is Cocoa Oatmeal. YUM! Wait…what? Cocoa for breakfast? Yes. Without a lot of unnecessary sugar this is the perfect hearty breakfast.

I use steel cut oats. They have double the fiber of rolled oats. The steel cut take a bit longer to cook than rolled oats, so make a big batch. The leftovers can do double duty as a healthy satisfying snack tomorrow.

Get these basic ingredients together and let’s get cooking. This is what you need.

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Start by melting your butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan. I prefer ghee for my oatmeal but regular butter works too.

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Then sprinkle in pure delicious unsweetened Cocoa

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Give that mixture a whisk to incorporate

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Enjoy the warm scents wafting through the kitchen. Next, add your steel cut oats.

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Keep stirring until your grains are all coated with the succulent cocoa and butter mixture.

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Next, add your water or milk. Both work for this recipe. I also add a touch of vanilla.

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Let the mixture slowly come to a boil, then turn down to simmer.

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While the oatmeal simmers, enjoy a cozy cup of coffee. Steel cut oats are loaded with beneficial fiber and other nutrients, but this grain cannot be rushed. these oats take about a half hour to simmer, but they are worth the wait!

You’ll know its ready when the oats are tender and creamy.

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Spoon a heaping helping of your luscious oats into a bowl. Drizzle a tiny bit of agave to add a touch of sweetness and enjoy!

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Don’t be fooled by the addition of the cocoa. It can help stabilize blood pressure, help control cholesterol levels and help maintain normal insulin levels. Cocoa also contains elements that can improve mood, making it a great way to start your day. It has potassium, magnesium, and iron as well. Add cocoa to your diet and leave the guilt behind.

This recipe is great as is or you can customize it. Shake on some cinnamon, stir in other cooked grains like leftover brown rice or quinoa), or sprinkle in some toasted almonds. Its up to you-but anyway you make it, you will have winning breakfast every time!

RECIPE:

  • 2 T. butter
  • 2 T. pure unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups water or milk
  • Agave or sweetener of choice

Melt the butter in a sauce pan. When it is hot and bubbly, sprinkle the cocoa in and whisk. Let that get good and hot, and add the oats. Stir until your grains are covered in the butter cocoa mixture. Add the liquid, the vanilla, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down so the mixture is simmering. Do not cover. Stir every 5-10 minutes. Cook for about 30 minutes, finish with your sweetener, and enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fresh Summer Salsa

28 Jul

The flavors of summer are ripe, juicy and bursting with colors. This season gives us sweet treats with fresh aromatic melon, juicy berries, and gorgeous tree ripened peaches. And we can’t overlook the herbs exploding in our gardens. Need a new way to enjoy the essence of sunny days and warm breezy nights? Summer salsa here we come!

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Look at this versatile summer fruit salsa!

Need some ideas as to what to do with this summer treat? This fruity delight is delicious with a spicy grilled tenderloin. Or on top of shrimp tacos. Or along side juicy chicken thighs.

Oh…you want it for an appetizer? You can do that too. This salsa is just as great with crisp yellow corn chips. It is a can’t miss with some baked brie cheese in puff pastry. The possibilities are endless!

Want more choices, more flexibility? This salsa recipe offers plenty. It’s bold flavor lends itself to endless substitutions to customize anything seasonal. This salsa is yummy with cilantro, but if your herb garden is overflowing with fragrant  rosemary or leafy basil, add that in place of the cilantro. Got blueberries? Toss those in with or in place of something else. Any firm fruit will do.

But first, lets start with the basic recipe. Where you go from there is up to you.

Begin by chopping your cantaloupe and peaches. Add them to a large bowl. Don’t crowd the ingredients as you will have more to add and a little stirring to do.

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Chop up some cantaloupe and peaches. Side bar-if you have a little leftover, sprinkle it with some bleu cheese and enjoy!

Add some luscious summer blackberries.

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Just look at those gorgeous colors!

Now it is time to jazz up the works a bit. Add in your cilantro and finely chopped onions. Give that all a good gentle stir. You are going to love how these flavors work together.

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A little salt and pepper, a drizzle of olive oil, a squeeze of fresh lime, another good stir and your summer salsa is ready! This gets better over time so make it ahead of when it will be served and let it sit in the fridge for a few hours. See the full recipe below.

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Amy’s Fresh Summer Salsa

  • 2 cups coarsely chopped cantaloupe or 1 cup each canteloupe and honey dew melon
  • 2 ripe peaches, chopped
  • 1/2 cup blackberries
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion or thinly sliced scallions including green top
  • 1/2 bunch chopped fresh cilantro (may substitute basil)
  • 1-2 Tablespoons chopped jalapeno pepper
  • 1 lime cut in half
  • 1-2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Add all ingredients together and gently stir. Refrigerate until use.

Secret Ingredient-splash 1 or 2 tablespoons over tequila on the salsa. Then serve with margaritas and fish tacos! Be sure to let me know how your salsa turns out and what you love about it!

Link

It’s (Still) Soup Season!

2 Mar

Step up kids. It’s time to get the soup on. Lets do this! Today we are putting together some tomato basil soup. We will also toss in a couple of roasted red peppers for a special touch. Tonight we have soup, tomorrow we use leftovers for a sauce. But first things first. On to the soup.

To get things going let’s start with flavorful mire poix. What is that you ask? It is a combination of vegetables that are gently cooked. A mire poix is a great base on which to start layering your flavors. I diced up some green onions, celery and some carrots. I also diced some garlic, but that needs to be added in later. First things first.

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Its okay to give these veggies a rough chop. We will smooth this out in a bit. Get your big soup pot out and heating up over a medium heat. After it warms up for a few minutes add some good quality olive oil.

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When your oil is heated up toss your veggies into the pot-but hold off on that garlic for a bit-it burns easily so we will ease that into our soup later.

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Give the vegetables a good stir. Add salt and pepper. I like to have a salt and pepper mix close by when cooking.

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The vegetables will soften and become fragrant. Let them cook for 4-5 minutes and then add the garlic. (Garlic is lovely when roasted but when it burns-well not so much, so it needs to be added right before the tomatoes). Keep stirring gently, and let the garlic cook for about 2 minutes. Now we will add good Italian tomatoes and some roasted red peppers.

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Add the entire contents of the tomatoes to the vegetables in the soup pot. With the peppers, take them out of the oil before adding to the vegetables.

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Keep the heat at medium, stir this all up, and enjoy seeing this bubbling goodness come together. The fragrance filling your kitchen will give you a reason to stand there and do some deep breathing. Yum. Let this simmer for 20 minutes or so, stirring every so often. Then get ready to add another layer of flavor to your soup.

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Now we add the chicken broth. If this will be a vegetarian soup, feel free to add vegetable stock instead. The soup will delectable either way. Also add parsley and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. I like a little heat, so I also add red pepper flakes, but that is optional. The winter soup delight is coming together perfectly.

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Time to add the basil. I grow basil in my summer herb garden, but since it is winter I bought some. Fresh basil is worth it in this soup so get it fresh if you can.

 

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Pull the leaves gently off of the stalks and give them a rough chop. We will use an immersion blender to cream the soup later, so don’t worry about your knife skills. Add the basil to the soup and stir.

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Grab your immersion blender. Don’t have one? Invest in one. I use mine for everything from smoothies to vinaigrette to soups and sauces. This kitchen tool is essential. Put your immersion wand into the soup and blend away. Be mindful of the hot soup and do not allow it to splatter.

You can also put the soup in the blender to smooth out, but be very cautious, go slowly and do it in batches to avoid burns and accidents. I using a blender pour the soup back into the pot. Let the soup simmer while you get your soup bowls out. Fill your bowl up, garnish with fresh parmesan cheese and basil, then get ready for tasty greatness.

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Keep your eye out for my next blog. We will explore ways to use your leftover soup-if you have any!

Oscar Glam

23 Feb

Need a glamorous appetizer for your Oscar Party? Then this show stopper will be on your list. If you have a little time to fuss over making this jam, it is worth it. Have a glass of your favorite Cab ready to go along side this dish and celebrate a win!

Grab a heavy saucepan, add 2 tablespoons of high quality butter, put the heat on low, and lets get started.

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Next, you need one or two vidalia sweet onions and thinly slice them. I like a mandolin to do this job. It is quick, easy, and you’ll get through cutting the onions without shedding a single tear.

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Now toss the onions into the sizzling butter. Add a bit of sugar, salt, red pepper and black pepper.

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Give that fragrant deliciousness a good stir. Now this is when a little patience comes in handy. Turn the heat to low, cover the pan, and let those onions get golden.

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While the onions are cooking away, its time to get ready for the next step. We will be adding dried fruit, sun dried tomatoes, 1/2 cup of white wine and some rich balsamic vinegar to the onion mixture.

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I used figs this time because I had them on hand, but I have also used dried cherries (my favorite!) and dried cranberries. This recipe is wonderful to customize to your taste. Chop the dried fruit and tomatoes. I used about 5-6 of each.

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After about a half hour its time to take the lid off the sauce pan and let the wonderful sweet fragrance of the onions pleasure your senses. Mmmmmm. After you take that deep breath in, add the tomatoes, fruit, balsamic vinegar and wine. Stir that all together.

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Leave the lid off and let that simmer down. All of the wine will cook off and the onion jam will thicken. When that happens, remove it from the heat and let it cool a bit.

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Get some crackers and some lovely bread ready to nosh. There is one last ingredient to add-bleu cheese. Layer that jam onto a cracker, top it off with bleu cheese and prepare to win the Oscar for Best Supporting Appetizer! Let the show begin!

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Hydrate Plus

18 Jun

It is not officially summer, but it is hot outside! Staying hydrated is really important any time of year, but dehydration can happen more quickly in the heat. Drinking plain water can be BOOOOOORRRING, and we are oh so stylish! Simple water just won’t do. How do we transition from boring old water to something exciting?

For starters, I invested in a pretty beverage dispenser. Seriously, this thing was less than twenty bucks, and I use it more than I thought I would. It’s glass, and so pretty whether it’s filled with Sangria for a Spanish dinner party or Spa Water (my cool version) for a summer evening cookout.

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Today I made a my delicious and irresistible Spa Water. I got creative with water and added some other goodies like cucumbers, lemons, melon, and strawberries to really please the palate. My Spa Water is more than refreshing,  it can help detoxify the body. And who doesn’t need that every now and again?

This is what i started with-

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I peeled the cucumber before slicing it. The skin can be bitter so I prefer to remove it for my Spa Water. Cucumbers aid in brain health and reduce inflammation, so what the heck-why not help out our gray matter! I always wash and dry the cucumber before slicing it. I save extra slices for later to have with hummus as a snack.

Next I cut up fresh cantaloupe to add to the water. The health benefits of cantaloupe include being rich in beta carotene which your body can convert to Vitamin A. This is important to eye health (and as an “over 40” woman that sort of uses readers I need that!). Vitamin A also contributes to a healthy immune system and healthy red blood cells. Cantaloupe is also rich in potassium and Vitamin C. Since I have some leftover cantaloupe, I will toss it with a bit of rich bleu cheese for a decadent side dish or snack. Yum!

I didn’t bother to do much to the lemons other than slice them. Lemons are a great source of vitamin C. The lovely oil in the lemon rind aids in digestion, is detoxifying in nature, and nourishes the skin so I left it on and added it to the water.

I didn’t have fresh strawberries, but had some in the freezer. I keep frozen berries on hand for my smoothies, but today frozen strawberries were getting thrown into the Spa Water. Strawberries have high levels of heart-healthy antioxidants so load up on ’em. They add just the right touch of sweetness to the water, and add a lovely rose’ color as well.

Put all that goodness together and this is what you get-elegant, healthy, and packed with flavor.

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Serve it in a wine glass, pour it in a glass over ice, or carry it with you to the gym. Any way you decide to use this water, it is a winner! This is THE way to stay hydrated this summer!

 

Breakfast Bliss

28 May

Breakfast does not have to be boring. It is time for your breakfast to explode! Are you an oatmeal fan? Well get ready-here we go! How about Chocolate Steel Cut Oats? YUM!

Here is what you need to create some breakfast greatness.

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Start by melting your butter is a heavy bottomed saucepan.

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Then sprinkle in pure delicious unsweetened Cocoa

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Give that mixture a whisk to incorporate

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Let that get all bubbly while amazing scents start wafting through the kitchen. Next, add your steel cut oats.

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Keep stirring until your grains are all coated with the succulent cocoa and butter mixture.

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Next, add your water or milk-I use some of each. I also add a teaspoon of vanilla.

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Let the mixture slowly come to a boil, then turn down to simmer.

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This is when you need to unpack your patience. Steel cut oats are loaded with excellent nutrition, but this grain takes a while to cook. Best to give this about a half hour to simmer. I make enough for leftovers, so this can also be a quick breakfast later in the week.

You’ll know its ready when it is really creamy.

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I usually have leftover quinoa in my fridge so any recipe can be quickly pumped up with protein and fiber. This is no exception. I mixed in some quinoa while the oats were hot

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And this is my finished breakfast. I drizzled a bit of agave over it to sweeten it a tiny bit

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Don’t be fooled by the addition of the cocoa, as it is loaded with beneficial nutrients. A few words about the health benefits of cocoa. It can offer include relief from high blood pressure, can help control cholesterol levels and stabilize insulin levels. Cocoa also contains elements that can improve mood, making it a great way to start your day. It has potassium, magnesium, and iron as well. Add cocoa to your diet and leave the guilt behind.

This recipe is great as is or you can customize it. Add in some maple syrup, shake on some cinnamon, stir in other cooked grains, or sprinkle in some toasted almonds. Its up to you-but anyway you make it, you will have winning breakfast every time!

RECIPE:

  • 2 T. butter
  • 2 T. pure unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups water or milk
  • Agave or sweetener of choice

Melt the butter in a sauce pan. When it is hot and bubbly, sprinkle the cocoa in and whisk. Let that get good and hot, and add the oats. Stir until your grains are covered in the butter cocoa mixture. Add the liquid, the vanilla, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down so the mixture is simmering. Watch this carefully-it can boil over quickly so it is important to get it down to a simmer and hold it there for the duration of the cook time. Stir every 5-10 minutes. Cook for 25-30 minutes, finish with your sweetener, and enjoy!