Monday, August 21, 2017

Poppyseed Egg Salad

A few weeks ago, with my nieces in town to hang out with my girls for what is known as Cousin Camp, we had a tea party with some other friends. I made PB&J and cream cheese and jam sandwiches in the shapes of hearts and flowers. But what about for the adults? I hadn't thought that far ahead. Fortunately, egg salad popped to mind, because all of the ingredients — including poppyseeds, which give this version a subtle nutty flavor and crunch — are always on hand.

My friend Ashley, who brought her girls to the tea party, and I were like "Omigosh, egg salad is sooooo good." There wasn't a whole lot of talking during the eating, actually.

Why don't I make egg salad more often? Well, the hubby is watching his cholesterol, and the kids won't eat it. But I'm here to tell you, my friends, that it's good to make dishes for just yourself (and a like-minded friend) sometimes. Besides, taste buds change, too. I now have one kid, Lucy, who absolutely loves this egg salad. I found out about Lucy's new love of egg salad when the leftovers that had my name (figuratively) all over them for a late post-cycle class lunch were half eaten when I got to them.

I hope you enjoy this simple, classic dish with a twist. I hope that sometimes you make something that only you like ... for now.

XOXO,
Amy



Poppyseed Egg Salad
12 hardboiled eggs
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon poppyseeds
Salt and pepper, to taste

Peel and cut up eggs; transfer to bowl. Add rest of ingredients and stir gently (so as not to make the eggs a mushy mess) until combined.

Question: Do you know how to boil eggs? That is, do you know how to boil eggs so that the yolks are perfectly cooked without any greenish hint of being overdone? And do you know how to boil eggs so that the shells come off easily, without taking out hunks of egg white?

No? Well, here is what to do. Place eggs in a pot and add water so that it there's at least an inch of water over the tops of the eggs. Add some salt to the water and set pot over high heat. Once the water comes to a rapid boil, allow water to continue its full-paced boil and the eggs to cook for another two minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove eggs and transfer to a bowl of ice cubes and cold water. Peel eggs immediately after they are cooled, within about 10-15 minutes.

Oh, and here's Lucy enjoying an open-faced egg salad sandwich.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Grilled Eggplant Caprese

Oh, sweet eggplant. Paired with tomatoes, basil, oil and balsamic, this purple beauty really shines.

If you are enjoying an abundance of tomatoes from your garden or farmer's market, this dish is a great way to put that fresh summer taste to work. The eggplant caprese makes a great side salad, appetizer or vegetarian main dish.

Never grilled eggplant before? It's a quick way to get a mellow, smoky flavor, and the eggplant will hold up well the next day, too. If you like, you can grill the eggplant ahead of time.

If you are like me and just can't get enough of grilled eggplant, try these dishes, too — Grilled Eggplant with Chimichurri Sauce or Grilled Eggplant Salad

Mangia! Mangia!
Andrea


Grilled Eggplant Caprese

1 medium eggplant, sliced into 1/4 slices
Olive oil (about 1/2 cup, plus more for drizzling)
Balsamic vinegar (about 1/2 cup, plus more for drizzling)
4 to 5 medium tomatoes, sliced
15 basil leaves, divided
1 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh salad greens, optional

Heat your grill to medium. Brush both sides of eggplant slices with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Place eggplant slices on grill and cook until lightly browned, about 3 to 4 minutes. Turn over and grill another 3 minutes or so, until eggplant is softened and nice grill marks appear. Remove from grill and set aside.

Layer salad greens on a serving platter. Arrange eggplant slices on greens. Top each piece of eggplant with a slice of mozzarella cheese, 1 basil leaf and a slice of tomato. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Slice any remaining basil leaves into thin strips and sprinkle on top of eggplant stacks. Add salt and pepper to taste.


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Jack Fruit Three Ways

My youngest son Sam is on a mission to try a new fruit whenever possible.

This means picking something exotic from the produce section at our local grocery store and trying it out. Sam's quest is known by our regular cashier and the produce manager. They often give us tips and previews on what we'll find inside a small spiky orb or a giant bumpy-skinned melon.

Some of the delicacies we've tried this summer are:

Passion fruit.
Dragon fruit.
Prickly pear.
Rambutan.
And then there is the Jack Fruit. At just $2, this baby supplied us with enough fruit for more than a week. It took some work, but it was totally worth it.


If you're a vegetarian, you might eat jack fruit all the time, as the yellow bulbs inside this behemoth can be used as a meat substitute in tacos and many slow cooker dishes. The seeds are edible, too, if you cook them.

The fruit is somewhat firm and tastes like a cross between a mango and a peach.

We went online to learn how to open this baby and harvest the edible parts. This video from Instructables.com was pretty helpful. A note if you watch the video: Do not be deterred! Our jack fruit was not as sticky as predicted and we were able to pry it open with just a knife.

It took me, Sam and my husband about an hour to remove all the fruity pods and seeds from the tough shell. We tackled the job on our patio to make clean-up easier.

Cut the jack fruit in half, and then into quarters.
Once your jack fruit is in quarters, you can start peeling away the stringy white pulp to reveal the yellow pods.
The jack fruit.
Jack fruit seeds can be seasoned and cooked.
The aftermath of our work.
Jack Fruit Salad


Once your jack fruit is ready to use, you can dice it into a fruit salad with strawberries and some mint.

Jack Fruit Salsa


Jack fruit holds up really well in a salsa, adding a sweet note.

2 cups jack fruit, diced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, diced
1 bunch green onions, sliced
Juice of 1 lime
2-3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Stir to combine. Chill or serve right away with tortilla chips.

Jack Fruit Fries



If you like sweet potato fries, you'll love this side.

2 cups jack fruit, sliced into 1/4 inch strips
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a medium bowl, toss sliced jack fruit with the oil until the fruit is well coated. Spread jack fruit on a large cookie sheet, leaving space between each piece of fruit. You may need two cookie sheets depending on the size of your pans.

Roast for 10 minutes, then flip fruit pieces over with a spatula and bake for another 10 minutes or until fruit is crispy and browned.

Remove from oven and let cool. Add more salt if needed. Enjoy!



Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Tequila by the Slice

A fellow baseball mom shared a recipe for this handheld cocktail in the middle of our summer season. So, so glad she did!

These adult "drinks" are light and refreshing on a hot day. Since I'm on vacation this week, they are top of mind (again!)

One tip: If you bring these to a gathering or party where children will be present, be sure to have some slices for the kids, too. This way you can avoid a little one taking a bite of "grown-up watermelon."

Another option: A friend added a drizzle of basil simple syrup when she recently served these. Also very yummy.

If you don't use a whole watermelon when you make this, you can use the rest for some delicious Watermelon Raspberry Rum Punch.

Mangia! Mangia!
Andrea



Tequila by the Slice
Inspired by KitchenFunWithMyThreeSons.com

1 seedless watermelon, quartered
Silver tequila
2-3 fresh limes, sliced
Coarse salt for topping

*Note: It is best to add the lime juice and salt right before you eat the watermelon slices. Doing so in advance makes the watermelon too salty.

Slice each watermelon quarter into 1-inch triangles. If you like, cut each piece in half to get smaller triangles.

Place watermelon slices on a large cookie sheet.

(Please pardon the drywall. Kitchen still a work in progress!)
Splash each slice with some tequila. Eyeball it. I used about 1/3 a bottle of tequila for a medium sized watermelon. Let sit 15 minutes. Turn over each slice and soak for another 15 minutes.

Serve each piece with a lime slice and some coarse salt.

To enjoy, drizzle with lime juice, sprinkle with salt and repeat!


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Mini Cherry Pies

Nothing says summer like cherry pie, so here you go!

If your family likes cherries, these sweet little tarts will hit the spot for dessert or a hearty snack.

And if you don't have a cherry pitter, I recommend investing in one. I found a model that pits 6 cherries at a time for under $20. My son Sam gets great satisfaction out of using it; I love having a helper in the kitchen.

This recipe calls for a homemade crust, and I recommend taking the small amount of extra time needed to make it. So yummy.

Mangia! Mangia!
Andrea



Mini Cherry Pies
Inspired by this recipe from Cooking Light

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
4 1/12 tablespoons chilled, unsalted butter, cut in chunks
1/4 cup ice water
2 tablespoons chilled vodka
5 tablespoons, plus 2 teaspoons turbinado sugar, divided
2 tablespoons corn starch
5 cups fresh cherries, pitted and halved
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Optional: 1 large egg white, lightly beaten

Items you will need:

  • Baking sheet lined with parchment paper. 
  • Six 4-inch tart pans. 

No tiny tart pans? Use mini foil pie dishes instead.

Place flour and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add butter and pulse a few times until mixture looks crumbly. Add 1/4 cup water and vodka. Pulse about 6 times or until the dough comes together.

Place dough on lightly floured surface and knead 2-3 times. Divide dough into 12 equal-sized balls.

Roll each ball of dough out into a roughly 4-inch cycle. Arrange on the lined baking sheet. Cover with parchment or plastic wrap and chill for 1 our or until firm.

Preheat over to 375 degrees. Move oven rack to middle position.

Combine remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, 5 tablespoons sugar and cornstarch in a large bowl. Add cherries and lemon juice, gently mix to combine.

Divide pie filling among the 6 tart or pie pans. Top each with second pie crust, or let your kids cut out fun dough shapes and use those instead.


Brush top crust, if using, with egg white. Sprinkle remaining sugar over crust or dough cut-outs.

Line a baking sheet with foil. Place tarts on baking sheet and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until mini pies are golden and bubbly. Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes.

Take pies out of pans to cool completely.

Serve warm or at room temperature. My boys liked these with ice cream on top.

Wrap and refrigerate leftovers.






Monday, July 17, 2017

Mom's Potato Salad

We had tons of family gatherings when I was growing up. That was a big plus to living where all of our relatives were within an hour's drive.

In the summer, potato salad was usually on the menu. My mom added a little twist to her recipe and I still love it — a chopped apple. The fruit gives the side salad an unexpected sweet crunch.

I remember my mom served it to a college friend's family when they were visiting. When I saw my friend's step dad again more than a decade later, he remembered the potato salad!

My recipe here may differ a bit from my mom's (because I make it for a family of 4 and she was usually serving 30+ people), but you'll get the same effect.

Mangia! Mangia!
Andrea



Mom's Potato Salad

1.5 or 2 pound bag of small yellow potatoes
1 bunch green onions, sliced and chopped
2 hard boiled eggs
1 large apple, peeled and diced (use Granny Smith, Honey Crisp of Fuji)
1/2 cup of your favorite mayonnaise
1/4 cup dijon or champagne mustard
1 teaspoon dill (fresh or dried)
*1 teaspoon dried spice mix for Green Goddess Dressing
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: 1/2 cup diced celery or bell pepper

*If you can't find this, use another 1/2 teaspoon dried dill, 1/2 teaspoon dried onion, 1/2 teaspoon dried celery flakes and 1 teaspoon minced garlic.

Peel the potatoes. Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Set the pot to boil. Once thee water boils, lower the heat a little and cook until a knife easily inserts into the potatoes.

Remove potatoes from heat and drain. Then rinse with cold water. Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, dice them and place in a large bowl.

Add egg, green onions, apple and any other vegetables, if using. Add mayonnaise, mustard, dill and Green Goddess spices.

Mix to combine, until everything is coated in the dressing. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve right away or chill before serving.

I liked this potato salad with barbecue chicken and grilled squash.


Refrigerate any leftovers.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Arugula, Beet, Quinoa and Orange Salad

Salads that work for lunch and dinner are my best friends this summer. Here's another one I'm loving. So delicious and so easy to make.

My husband and youngest son love beets. When I spotted these sweet little containers of the ready-to-use veggies I snapped up a few.

This colorful dish is great as a side salad or a main entree. It holds up well the next day, too, but the quinoa will start to turn pink.

Mangia! Mangia!
Andrea


Arugula, Beet, Quinoa and Orange Salad
Inspired by a recipe in Diabetes Focus Spring 2017 issue

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 large orange
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
4 cups cooked quinoa
5 ounce package baby arugula
1 seedless orange, peeled and diced
2 6.5 ounce packages prepared beets, diced

In a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, orange juice, salt and pepper.

Add quinoa, arugula, orange and beets. Gently stir to combine. Fold ingredients together until everything is coated with the vinaigrette.

Serve right away or chill until needed. Refrigerate any leftovers in an air tight container.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Grilled Pineapple & Watermelon Salad

I do love to grill and to me, there is nothing tastier than grilled fruit.

With pineapples and watermelon in season, I figured why not? 

Watermelon firms up over the flames and gains a mellow flavor. The pineapple becomes caramelized and even juicier.

The result was so tasty I ate nearly half the bowl myself. This smoky sweet side dish is a great partner to some spicy blackened grilled chicken. 

The next time you fire up the grill, give this a try.

Mangia! Mangia!
Andrea



Grilled Pineapple & Watermelon Salad

1/4 cup olive oil 
1 small pineapple, outer skin removed, cored and quartered
5 thick watermelon slices, cut from 1/4 of a large melon
1 bunch green onions, trimmed
1-2 teaspoons fresh basil, chopped

Heat grill to medium. Brush both sides of each piece of fruit with olive oil. Brush green onions, too.

Place each piece of pineapple and watermelon on grill. Place onions perpendicular to the grill grates.

Cook for 2 minutes or until nice char marks appear. Remove green onions and set aside to cool. Lower heat if fruit starts to burn. 



Turn over fruit and cook for 2 to 3 minutes more. 

Remove fruit and let cool until you can handle it. Cut off watermelon rind. Dice watermelon, pineapple and green onions into bite-sized pieces. 

Toss fruit and onions in medium bowl. Sprinkle with fresh basil. Serve warm or cold.


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Simple Cucumber Dill Salad

We've been eating lots of salads lately for a few reasons:
  • My kitchen is a work in progress. 
  • We have baseball practice or games almost every night. 
  • Our days are jam packed, too.
I know you fellow moms can relate. Here's my morning yesterday:

8 a.m. – Take dog for grooming appointment.
8:30 a.m. – Take Sam to baseball clinic, go to bank.
10 a.m. – Pick up Sam and drop off Max at baseball clinic. Go to post office and dry cleaners.
11 a.m. – Take Sam to saxophone lesson.
12 p.m. – Pick up Max from baseball clinic.
12:15 p.m. – Pick up dog from groomer.

Summer salads are easy, refreshing and can often be made ahead. One of my faves is Chick Pea Salad. If you make that and have some leftover dill, you can use it in this cucumber recipe.

Do you have a favorite summer salad? Let us know what it is!

Mangia! Mangia!
Andrea


Simple Cucumber Dill Salad

2 English cucumbers, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 bunch green onions, (about 5 or 6) sliced
2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
2 to 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Fresh ground pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and gently stir to combine. Let refrigerate for at least 1 hour to help the flavors blend.

Salt individual servings to taste.

Refrigerate any leftovers.


Friday, May 26, 2017

Slow Cooker Hawaiian Pork

When I wrote my last post at the end of March, I apologized for falling off the face of the earth because of our business move. Well I fell back off. As soon as we got settled in our new office, life got a little crazier. I was feeling relatively terrible because apparently morning sickness and exhaustion are twice as bad when you're pregnant with twins.

Yep, you heard that right. The husband and I are having identical twin boys! They'll arrive sometime in October, and we couldn't be happier. Especially now that I'm in my second trimester and eating more than crackers and cheese.

While the nausea reigned supreme, my family was subsisting on mac and cheese from a box while I laid on the couch like a cranky beached whale. But I'm back in the kitchen! And I was craving pork like you wouldn't believe.

I found this recipe on my Pinterest board, and immediately headed to the grocery store. When we sat down to dinner, I wasn't disappointed. The entire family demolished this meal; it is absolutely delicious. And you can prep everything ahead of time! The Pineapple Coleslaw might seem like an unnecessary extra step, but it's worth it. I ate my weight in slaw. The kids even helped me stir together the dressing.

If you're looking for an easy, delicious, filling, make-ahead meal, give Slow Cooker Hawaiian Pork a whirl. You're whole family will love it. Guaranteed.

Let's get cooking!
Erin


Slow Cooker Hawaiian Pork
Adapted from Half Baked Harvest

Pork 
1 1/4 cups pineapple juice
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sriracha
1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
3 pounds pork shoulder roast
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 tablespoons water
Chopped cilantro, for serving
Coconut Rice (recipe below), for serving
Pineapple Slaw (recipe below), for serving

Mix together pineapple juice, soy sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar, sriracha, and ginger. Set sauce aside.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Add pork and sear on all sides until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes per side. Add pork to slow cooker. Pour sauce over pork. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or until pork falls apart when you poke it with a fork. (My slow cooker tends to run hot, and my pork was finished cooking in 6 hours.) Remove pork to a plate and shred into bite-sized pieces.

Whisk together cornstarch and water. Whisk into cooking liquid in slow cooker. Turn the slow cooker to high and take off the lid. Allow the sauce to simmer until it's thickened, about 15-30 minutes. Stir shredded pork back into liquid and allow it to warm through again. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve with Coconut Rice and Pineapple Slaw.


Pineapple Slaw
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons pineapple juice
1 tablespoon plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon orange zest
Salt and pepper
2 1/2 cups shredded cabbage or coleslaw mix
1 cup pineapple chunks (fresh or canned)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Stir together mayo, pineapple juice, yogurt, vinegar, brown sugar, zest, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in cabbage, pineapple, and cilantro. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


Coconut Rice
1 cup water
1 cup coconut milk
Pinch salt
1 cup rice

Bring water, coconut milk, and a pinch of salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir in rice. Bring the mixture back to a simmer, then reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 15-20 minutes, until rice is firm but tender. (If you have one, you can certainly use a rice cooker in place of cooking rice on the stove.)

Monday, May 15, 2017

Old-Fashioned Cream Pie

I rip recipes from magazines (that I own, not say in waiting rooms) all the time. If I never tore another recipe from People, Real Simple and more, I'd easily spend the next couple years cooking my way through my "to make" recipe pile.

Anyhow, this year for Easter the kids and I decided a cream pie sounded tasty. I used a recipe from the June 2013(!) issue of Ladies' Home Journal. It was worth the wait, so give it a try sooner rather than later.

XOXO,
Amy


PS: What drew me to the LHJ recipe was the headline on the article — "The Pie That Made My Dad Propose." Here's a version of that story, originally published in LHJ. And below is a piece of art that ran with the story.



Old-Fashioned Cream Pie

Crust:
12 graham crackers, broken into pieces
2 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Or...
1 store-bought graham cracker pie crust (For less than $2 and a lot less hassle, this is my preferred option.)

Filling:
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cornstarch
 2 1/2 cups cold milk
4 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Fresh berries for serving

For crust: Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, blend graham cracker pieces and sugar until finely ground. Add butter and pulse until combined. Set aside 1/4 cup of graham cracker mixture for topping. Press remaining mixture into bottom and side of a 9-inch pie pan. Bake until lightly browned, about seven minutes. Cool while you prepare the filling.

For filling: In a 3-quart saucepan, whisk together sugar, salt and cornstarch. Add milk and egg yolks and whisk to combine. Heat mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly until mixture begins to bubble and then cook 1 more minute. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, nutmeg and butter. Place over and ice bath to cool slightly before pouring into prepared crust. Cover pie with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm — about 5 hours or overnight. Sprinkle with reserved graham cracker crumbs and serve with cold berries.


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Cilantro Walnut Pesto

Pesto is one of my addictions. I love it on pasta, steak, chicken, shrimp, vegetables -- it's so good on almost anything!

For years I've been a traditionalist, sticking to the basil, pine nut and Parmesan cheese varieties. I usually serve pesto swirled into angel hair pasta, as a side dish to grilled steak.

Boy, was I missing out. Turns out many fresh herbs and vegetables deliciously transform when you whip them into a pesto with some nuts and olive oil. Think fresh peas, or even trimmed broccoli stalks.

This cilantro version is the healthiest pesto I've ever encountered – no oil, no cheese. Trust me, you won't even notice.

I could not stop eating it. First on pasta, then later as a dip for veggies. It's nutty, earthy and fresh – with a little zip! – all at the same time.

If you're ready to welcome spring, add this cilantro walnut spread to your menu.

Mangia! Mangia!
Andrea




Cilantro Walnut Pesto
Inspired by a recipe from Dr. Andrew Weil

1 cup walnut pieces
2 heaping cups cilantro leaves, stems removed
1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt, more to taste
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/4 cup water

Using a food processor, finely grind walnuts.

Add cilantro, jalapeño pepper, salt, vinegar and 2 to 3 tablespoons of water. Blend until combined and smooth. Add more water to thin the pesto mixture.

Serve over pasta, top grilled meats or use as a dip.

To dress up this pesto, you could add a drizzle of olive oil.

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.











Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Twice-Baked Creamy Chive Potatoes

My son Sam is a big fan of my Aunt Dottie's twice baked potatoes. The last time she made then, Sam ate 3! Somehow, she gets her filling to be like velvet. When Sam requested these as a side dish recently, I went to work.

Unfortunately for me, I couldn't catch my aunt on the phone or by text. After reviewing lots of online recipes, it seems the trick is the right combination of butter, milk, cream cheese and sour cream mixed into the cooked potatoes.

And since I was experimenting, I made some of the potatoes with chives to suit my own tastes, leaving some plain for my kids.

Sam declared these "pretty good" but Aunt Dottie still wears the cooking crown in his eyes.

Mangia! Mangia!
Andrea


Twice-Baked Creamy Chive Potatoes

6 medium to large baking potatoes, like Idaho or Russet
1 or 2 tablespoons of olive oil
Kosher or table salt
2/3 cup of milk
3/4 cup of butter at room temperature, cut into chunks
1 8 ounce block of cream cheese, cut into chunks
3/4 cup of sour cream
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: 2 tablespoons snipped chives (or other fresh herb), plus more for topping

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Scrub potatoes and dry well. Prick all over with a knife. Lightly coat with olive oil, then rub with salt. Bake for about 1 hour, or until potatoes are soft. An alternative method is to cook potatoes in microwave first, until soft. Then transfer to oven for about 20 minutes until the skin crisps up.

When cooked, remove from oven and let cool until you are able to handle the potatoes but they are still warm.

Lower oven temperature to 400 degrees.

Carefully slice each potato in half. Using a spoon, scoop out the pulp and place into a large mixing bowl. Be sure to leave a thin layer of potato inside each potato skin for 5 of the potatoes, so that they make little boats. For the 6th potato, you just want the cooked potato pulp and you can discard the skin.

Combine milk, butter, cream cheese and sour cream and garlic powder with potato pulp. Use a potatoes masher or electric mixer to combine until creamy. If potatoes are too starchy or stiff, add more sour cream or cream cheese (your choice) until you get the consistency you want.

Add salt, pepper and chives or other fresh herb and stir to combine.

Arrange potato boats on a baking sheet and scoop filling into a mound in each potato skin. Sprinkle with additional snipped chives.


Bake for 20 to 30 minutes in a 400 degree oven, until the top of potato filling is slightly browned. Remove from oven, arrange on a pretty platter and serve.








Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Creamy Tuna Avocado Salad

Baseball season is underway for my two boys, and that means I need to be able to serve up fast and easy meals – or get used to eating hot dogs and concession stand popcorn every other day!

A video for this recipe caught my eye on Facebook, so I gave it a try (with a few little tweaks). The result? Super yummy and super quick to prepare.

Another bonus? By swapping out the mayo used in traditional tuna salad for avocado, you get a healthier dish.

Mangia! Mangia!
Andrea


Creamy Tuna Avocado Salad
Inspired by this recipe from Natasha's Kitchen.com

1 large can (12 ounces) and 1 small can (3 to 4 ounces) tuna in water, drained
1 English cucumber, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
3 medium, ripe, avocados peeled, pitted and cut into chunks
1/2 to 1 small red onion, quartered and thinly sliced
1/4 to 1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Juice from 1 large lemon
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
Fresh ground pepper
1 teaspoon salt, more to taste

**Note on the salt: If you are making this ahead, or if you are planning on leftovers, do not mix in the salt. Instead, salt each serving separately. The salt will make the cucumbers release water, which will make the salad soggy after a few hours.

Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Pour lemon juice and olive oil over ingredients. Season with salt and pepper.

Mix to combine. Add more salt and pepper to taste.

Serve alone or on top of mixed greens.

SaveSave

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Savory Spring Egg Cups

These breakfast treats remind me of the Italian Easter meat pie (pizza rustica) that my family would devour every spring. That hearty dish (best consumed cold) combines hard boiled eggs, mozzarella, prosciutto and ricotta cheese in a flaky double pie crust.

I still hope to make one of those savory pies before summer hits, but today's sweet little recipe satisfied my craving.  Better yet – my boys liked it. I served these egg cups for dinner and the leftovers held up great the next day. Lunch for me; hearty after-school snack for them.

You can use your favorite breakfast meat, like sausage or ham. I used bacon because it imparts a taste similar to the prosciutto used in my family's traditional Easter morning meal.

These would make a great addition to an Easter brunch menu, especially if you have extra eggs in the fridge. Or they might be a good way to use that leftover holiday ham.

Mangia! Mangia!
Andrea


Savory Spring Egg Cups
Inspired by a video from HomemadeHooplah.com

2 sheets puff pastry dough, thawed
Small container ricotta cheese
6 slices precooked bacon, chopped
1 dozen eggs
Garlic salt
Fresh ground pepper

**Cut recipe in half if you don't need 12 egg cups.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously spray a large 12-tin muffin pan with cooking spray. If you like, line each tin with paper or parchment muffin liners.

Place 1 sheet of thawed puff pastry on lightly floured surface and use a rolling pin to flatten into a square shape. Repeat with second pastry sheet.

Cut each pastry sheet into 6 squarish rectangles. Push 1 square of pastry into each prepared muffin tin. Flute edges of pastry so they stand up slightly. Spray pastry with cooking spray.

Fill each muffin cup with 1 or 2 tablespoons of ricotta cheese. Sprinkle with crumbled bacon. Push down gently with back of a spoon.

Crack one egg into each muffin cup. Sprinkle with garlic salt and pepper.


Place in preheated oven and cook for 20-25 minutes or until crust is lightly browned. Cook a few minutes less if you prefer a less solid yolk. (You can test the yolk with a toothpick.)

Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan.

Tastes great served warm or cold. Fresh berries make a nice side dish. Perfect for any meal!







Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Sheet pan Lemon Chicken with Olives & Capers

Sheet pan suppers are a great way to whip up a savory meal in less than an hour. This recipe is one I made with items I had on hand.

My pantry is usually stocked with olives and capers so this was a good way to put them to work.

The bonus with this dinner is that as the olives cook they release their oils, which blends with the juices from the lemon and chicken to make a nice sauce.

Mangia! Mangia!
Andrea



Sheet pan Lemon Chicken with Olives & Capers

2 pounds of chicken pieces (I used an assortment of boneless thighs, skin-on legs, and boneless skinless breasts.)
1 cup whole green olives, pitted and stuffed with pimento
1 cup whole kalamata olives, pitted
1 cup whole black olives, pitted
2-3 tablespoons capers
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 lemon, sliced
Juice from 1 lemon
Salt and pepper
Spaghetti for serving (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Spread 1 tablespoon on bottom of a shallow sheet pan. Place chicken pieces on pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper. In a bowl mix olives, capers, lemon juice and the rest of the olive oil. Pour evenly over chicken pieces. Top with lemon slices.


Bake at 400 degrees for 45 to 60 minutes or until chicken is browned and cooked through. Baste chicken pieces and stir olives occasionally during cooking time.

Serve chicken alone with capers, olives and pan sauce or on top of spaghetti.

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Friday, March 31, 2017

Fettuccine with Asparagus and Goat Cheese

Hello from this long lost blogger! Guys, I'm sorry I fell off the face of the earth for a while there. Life got away from me. The husband and I run a small business, and we recently moved to a new office. It was way more work than I anticipated. Like WAY more. Needless to say, blogging to a back seat to...survival.

Although my house was a giant disaster area (please don't open my closet door), I did manage to feed my family. Admittedly some nights we ate crackers and cheese for dinner, but when I was feeling slightly more ambitious, I relied on HDHH classics.

Now that it's Spring, and asparagus is on sale practically every week, I figured it was time to make Fettuccine with Asparagus and Goat Cheese.

This is totally a 20 minute meal. And it's easy clean up. Cook the pasta and asparagus in the same pot, then stir in tangy goat cheese, grainy mustard, and fresh dill for a creamy, Spring-y sauce. So easy and delicious, even I could manage it!

Dinner? You've got this!

Let's get cooking!
Erin


Fettuccine with Asparagus and Goat Cheese
Originally posted in April 2013
Serves: 6

1/3 cup pine nuts
1 pound fettuccine
2 bunches asparagus, trimmed and cut crosswise into thirds
5 ounces goat cheese
2 tablespoons grainy mustard
3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place pine nuts on a rimmed baking dish and bake for about 5 minutes, until they are golden brown and smell toasty. (Alternatively, you can toast pine nuts in a dry skillet over medium heat, but I always burn nuts when I toast them on the stove. Feel free to live dangerously, though.)

Cook the fettuccine to al dente according to package directions in a large pot of salted boiling water. Add the asparagus during the last 5 minutes of cooking. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water before draining.

Drain the pasta and return pasta and asparagus to the pot. Stir in goat cheese, mustard, dill, and toasted pine nuts. Add pasta cooking water and stir until the cheese is melted and the pasta is evenly coated with sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper.


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

4-Layer Birthday Cake

Both of my boys celebrate their birthdays in March – just nine days apart. And each year they get to pick what kind of birthday cake they want.

In the past we've done the traditional chocolate cake with chocolate frosting or yellow cake with chocolate frosting. One year lemon cake topped with fruit was the highlight.

This year, my oldest (now age 11) spotted a video on social media of a four-layer chocolate cake filled with caramel and chocolate, covered with a chocolate glaze and drizzled with white chocolate.

He showed it to me once, but apparently watched it himself multiple times. When we couldn't find the video a few weeks later to make sure we knew how to make his chosen birthday dessert, he was able to describe every step in full detail.

For me, the best part about this dessert was the fun of making it with my boys and my brother, who was in town for a visit.

When my youngest's birthday rolled around a week later, we made the cake again, with a few variations to suit his tastes. He (now age 8) wanted a yellow butter cake – with Nutella as the filling between every layer. I don't even want to imagine the calorie count!

We tried a mirror glaze on the first cake, but it required lots of ingredients and didn't thicken on its own, so we ended up adding chocolate spread to it. The second time around we went with a simpler chocolate topping that was much easier to work with.

If you try this out, let us know what you use for the filling between your cake layers.

Mangia! Mangia!
Andrea


4-Layer Birthday Cake

1 box of your favorite cake mix or your favorite recipe for two-layer cake
Caramel spread and chocolate spread
or
Nutella hazelnut chocolate spread
Chocolate glaze (see recipe below)
Chocolate shavings
1/4 cup white chocolate chips
Optional: Raspberries

Prepare cake according to package directions, using 2, 8-inch pans. Bake cake per instructions. Let cool, then turn out onto wire racks and cool completely.

Once cake layers are fully cool, carefully slice each one in half lengthwise, using a serrated knife. You will end up with four cake layers.

Set one cake layer on a cutting board.

Alternatively, you can use an angel food cake pan with the center piece removed to build your cake and hold it in place. (We tried this the first time around, but the layers slide around inside the pan. If you use this method, top the cake pan with a cutting board and invert so allow layered cake to slide out before glazing.)

Putting the cake together on a cutting board allowed us to gently move layers into place if they started to slip.

Also, if you have a cake lifter, life will be easier as you assemble and glaze the cake. You can also use a cutting board to help move and lift the cake layers.

Using a flexible spatula, gently spread filling on the bottom layer of cake. Top with second cake layer and spread on the second filling. Place third cake layer and spread the top of it with your third filling choice. Top with final piece of cake.

Transfer the cutting board with cake to try refrigerator so that it can firm up a little while you make the chocolate glaze.

Chocolate Glaze

1 cup heavy cream
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Pinch salt

Place chocolate chips and salt in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan, bring cream to a boil, then remove from heat and pour over the chocolate chips. Whisk until smooth. Let cool until mixture becomes slightly thickened.

Now it's time to glaze the cake. It helps to have a second set of hands for the glazing.

Set a large bowl on the counter and place a wire rack on top of the bowl. Carefully transfer the cake from the cutting board to the center of the wire rack. Slowly pour glaze over the cake, ensuring that glaze covers all sides.

You might want to repeat the process to make sure every centimeter of the cake is thoroughly coated in chocolate.

If you do, carefully lift wire rack with cake and set the wire rack on the cutting board. Pour excess glaze from large bowl back into small bowl. Replace wire rack and cake on top of large bowl and slowly pour glaze over cake again.

(My boys did close inspections of each cake we made. It took three pours of glaze to get their seal of approval!)

Let glaze drip off cake. Carefully transfer cake to a cake plate. Dust with chocolate shavings. Return cake to refrigerator to allow glaze to harden.

Place white chocolate chips in a small bowl and melt in microwave for 30 seconds. Stir and heat another 30 seconds if needed. Transfer melted chocolate to a small plastic sandwich bag and seal. Gently squeeze melted chocolate into one corner of bag. Snip a tiny hole in the corner.

Drizzle top of cake with white chocolate. Top with raspberries if desired.

This is the butter yellow cake filled wth Nutella. Luckily, I took a photo before we ate it all!


















Monday, March 27, 2017

Cucumber Vodka Gimlet

The vodka gimlet is my drink. Has been for years. And it doesn't even have to be fancy. Vodka and Rose's Lime Juice on the rocks is perfect, especially when made for me by my husband Jeff. But so much sugar. As for fancy ones, my favorite is the Market Gimlet, made with cucumber vodka, at The Palace Hotel in San Francisco. Cucumber in cocktails = so refreshing.

Anyhow, I recently decided it was time to make a less sugary vodka gimlet inspired by the cocktail I used to have while on biz trips to the West Coast. I opted to do this on a Tuesday afternoon. And why not? That's the beauty of working from home and being the boss.

XOXO,
Amy



Cucumber Vodka Gimlet
(Makes two gimlets)
6 ounces vodka
8 slices seedless cucumber (or regular cucumber with seed section removed)
1 ounce fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons sugar (granulated or powdered)

Muddle the cucumber with the sugar in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. (I used the handle of a wooden spoon.) Add the rest of the ingredients and half a cup of ice. Shake vigorously and strain into two glasses. Garnish with slices of cucumber or a lime wedges.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Cioppino (Seafood Soup)

Cioppino is an Italian seafood soup that originated in San Francisco. I love to eat it but had never prepared the meal myself – until this past weekend.

I wish I hadn't waited so long. The dish is easy to cook and you can vary the fish and shellfish based on your preferences or what's fresh (or on special).

I fell in love with this soup about eight years ago, after trying it through a meal service. Even though I grew up Italian, I'd never had it before. Fast forward to 2017. With my parents visiting on a Friday in Lent, it was the perfect recipe to try out.

The timing was good, too. What could be better than a steaming bowl of fragrant soup and a hunk of crusty bread on a blustery, snow-flurry-filled March day?

Mangia! Mangia!
Andrea


Cioppino
Adapted from this recipe by Giada De Laurentiis

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 large shallots, diced
1 large fennel bulb, cut in half and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
4 garlic cloves, minced
Pinch red pepper flakes
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes in their juice
1 1/2 cups Chardonnay
5 cups fish stock
2 bays leaves
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 pound mussels, scrubbed to remove sand
1 pound clams, scrubbed to remove sand
1 pound raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 pound halibut, skin removed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 pound salmon, skin removed and cut into 1-inch pieces
Fresh parsley, chopped

*A note about choosing your fish/shellfish: Vary the fish and shellfish as you like. For example, if your kids love shrimp, add more and leave out the salmon. Grocer only sell mussels in 2-pound bags? Go for it! Prefer crab over shrimp? Make a swap!

Heat the oil in the largest pot you own over medium-high heat. Add the onion, shallots, fennel and salt and cook about 10 minutes, stirring often, until vegetables are translucent.

Add the garlic, red pepper flakes and tomato paste and stir a few times while cooking another 2 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes and juice, the wine, fish stock and bay leaves.

Cover the pot and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer on low heat for at least 30 minutes.

Uncover the pot and add the clams and mussels. Let them cook until some of the shells start to open, between 5 and 10 minutes. Stir the soup, then add the shrimp and fish. Cook until the shrimp are pink and the fish is firm. Gently stir the soup again. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Discard any clams and mussels that did not open.

Serve soup in large bowls and sprinkle with fresh parsley and shaved Parmesan (optional). Be sure to have plenty of crusty French or Italian bread on hand to sop up the fragrant broth. A glass of Pinot Noir is perfect with this dinner, too!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Garlic Shrimp & Lemon Spiral Zucchini

We try to eat seafood once a week at my house, and while it doesn't always happen, we most often turn to shrimp because it cooks up so quickly.

I made this dinner from a recent Williams Sonoma mailer. Since I knew my boys would not even try  a lemon cream sauce, I used zucchini noodles instead of pasta. The husband and I are trying to cut back on the carbs. (My boys ate the shrimp with pasta and jarred tomato sauce.)

The end result was very tasty -- but you do need to eat this right away, as it will get a bit soggy as the zucchini sits.

Mangia! Mangia!
Andrea


Garlic Shrimp & Lemon Spiral Zucchini
Inspired by Williams Sonoma

2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined
Salt and pepper
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 medium zucchini, spiraled, or thinly sliced with a vegetable peeler or mandolin
1 bell pepper julienned
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 shallots, minced
1/3 cup, plus 2 tablespoons white wine
Zest and juice of 1 large lemon, plus more to taste
Pinch red pepper flakes
1/2 cup heavy cream
Fresh basil leaves, sliced, for garnish

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Toss shrimp, salt, pepper, garlic and olive oil in a bowl. Refrigerate while you make the sauce and cook the zucchini.

Use a spiralizer, mandolin or a vegetable peeler to turn your zucchini into noodles. Set aside, along with sliced pepper.

Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a large skillet. Add shallots and saute about 5 minutes. Add wine, lemon zest and juice, remaining butter and red pepper flakes. Bring to a simmer and add cream. Reduce heat to low and cook until fragrant, about 5 more minutes. Keep warm.

Place shrimp on a baking sheet and cook in oven until pink, between 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

Meanwhile, cook zucchini noodles and pepper strips in boiling water for 2 minutes. Remove to colander and drain well. Gently squeeze excess water from zucchini.

Add zucchini and peppers to lemon cream sauce, gently toss to coat. Top with shrimp and basil. Season with more lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.