Salads and Sides/ Vegetarian Recipes

Crunchy Broccoli, Raisins, and Walnut Salad

Crunchy Broccoli, Raisins and Walnut Salad ~ is one refreshing and colorful salad you’ll want to put on your list of salads this summer.  This is the salad you’ll want to make over and over again because it’s loaded with fresh vegetables as it offers a superb flavor and a nice crunch with every bite.

This salad is simply tossed with fresh chopped broccoli, fresh chopped cabbage, raisins, dried cranberries and walnuts with a sweet, Dijon vinaigrette. Then topped with crispy bacon just before it’s served.  It was so amazing, we all couldn’t stop eating it.

This fresh crunchy broccoli salad happens to be my take on a salad that I would often buy at our local deli.  The gentleman behind the counter was rude and reluctant to giving up his secret dressing (he reminded me of a bull dog).  Regardless, I tried to duplicate his salad, and with only a few attempts, I was able to come pretty close to the taste of that wonderful tasting dressing.

This salad will make a great choice to bring to any BBQ or any friends gathering this summer because it’s one that will definitely not wilt nor get soggy; in fact, it will remain fresh and crispy up to 3 days.

Crunchy Broccoli, Raisins and Walnut Salad is relatively easy to make. You only need a few minutes to chop the broccoli and cabbage. Once it’s ready and tossed all together, you’ll need to allow the salad to marinate for an hour or two before serving.  A vegetable salad that is refreshing, satisfying and healthy at the same time, is a win-win for everyone!
We promise, this will be a summer salad that will never disappoint either.  Everyone truly loves it!
Give it a try and let us know!  Have a great day!

Crunchy Broccoli, Raisins and Walnut Salad

  • 1 lb. fresh broccoli florets
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. table salt
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/2 small head white cabbage-thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup organic dried cranberries
  • 5 slices of bacon

1.  Clean and rinse broccoli. Cut broccoli florets from stems, and separate florets into small bite-size pieces. Peel away tough outer layer of stems. Finely chop stems.

2.  Whisk together mayonnaise, sugar, mustard, both vinegar, salt, and red pepper flakes in a large bowl.  Add broccoli, cabbage, raisins, cranberries, red onion and walnuts; stir to coat.

3.  Cover and chill for two hours.

4.  In the meantime, cover a paper plate with a paper towel and place bacon on the plate, then place another paper towel on top to cover the bacon.  Cook bacon in the microwave for 4.5 minutes.

5.  Remove and crumble the bacon into small pieces.  Set aside.  When ready to serve, toss in the bacon pieces, reserve a few pieces to garnish on top.  Serve.

Yields: 8 servings

*****      *****      *****
Hello Friends!  Hope you all had a lovely Easter this past weekend. The weather is beautiful here in Charleston and we are having a great time with a house full of guests these past few weeks. We will be back with more recipes next week. In the meantime, have a great weekend!

Appetizers/ Kid-Friendly Recipes/ Vegetarian Recipes

Spinach and Kale Bites

Spinach and Kale Bites ~ Little vegetable balls loaded with spinach, kale and Parmesan cheese then lightly coated with panko breadcrumbs and baked until crispy and tender.  These little bites burst with spinach and Parmesan cheese flavor! The taste of kale is completely hidden in this little appetizer, making them the ideal snack for the picky eaters.

 

I saw these little spinach and kale bites in the freezer section at Trader Joes and since I got hooked on Kale for the first time this summer, making scrumptious kale drinks like kale smoothies,  I bought a box and tried them for the first time.  They were very tasty, but a little too salty and a bit expensive.

So I decided to make them myself and duplicate the recipe as close as possible, only I decided to roll them panko breadcrumbs for some crunch.  The outcome was really terrific, crunchy on the outside and super moist on the inside.  The Parmesan cheese definitely adds depth of flavor to them.

These are easy enough to make a day in advance for a party, and throw them in the oven when guests arrive. They’re amazingly light and festive, definitely worthy for a fancy dinner or a holiday party.  Terrific to serve at football parties too.  You can also try our mini rice balls as another fun appetizer.

If you omit the panko breadcrumbs from this recipe, you’ll have gluten-free spinach and kale bites.

These bites can be expensive to buy frozen (about $5 for 10 bites).  And, most frozen foods are packed with high levels of sodium as well as some other unknown ingredients.  When you make them yourself, they’re definitely fresher and more cost effective.

I love them because they’re baked not fried, loaded with antioxidants and vitamins A, C, and K, plus I’m giving my family a healthier snack instead of junk food.

 

Some ingredients you may need:

Here’s a TIP: 
When working with this recipe, use 2  bowls or dishes, pour some panko bread crumbs into one. Take a teaspoon full of the spinach and kale mixture into your hand.  Make a small ball with your hands (larger than a quarter, smaller than a golf ball).

Then gently roll ball into panko bread crumbs to coat evenly.  Then bake them for 15 minutes and serve!

ENJOY!! 

Spinach and Kale Bites
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 20 bites
 
Spinach and Kale Bites ~ Little vegetable balls loaded with spinach, kale and Parmesan cheese then lightly coated with panko breadcrumbs and baked until crispy and tender. These little bites burst with spinach and Parmesan cheese flavor! The taste of kale is completely hidden in this little appetizer, making them the ideal snack for the picky eaters.
Ingredients
  • 1 small yellow onion- chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. salted butter
  • 6 ounce package fresh baby spinach (the equivalent to 5 oz. of frozen)
  • 2 cups packed with fresh kale, rinsed
  • 1 large scallion (green onion)
  • 1 egg
  • ⅔ cup panko bread crumbs, plus extra for coating
  • ½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • dash of organic cayenne pepper
  • organic olive oil cooking spray
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a frying pan, heat and melt butter with olive oil. Add yellow onion and sauté until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add spinach and kale and cook until they wilt, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. Place cooked contents into a food processor along with one chopped scallion and pulse for several seconds. Transfer mixture to a medium size mixing bowl.
  4. Add one egg, ⅔ cup of panko bread crumbs, and Parmesan cheese. Mix with a spoon until well combined. Add salt and black pepper to taste and a dash of cayenne pepper.
  5. In a second smaller bowl or dish, pour some panko bread crumbs. Take a teaspoon full the spinach and kale mixture into your hand. Make a small ball with your hands (larger than a quarter, smaller than a golf ball).
  6. Gently roll ball into panko bread crumbs to coat evenly.
  7. Lightly spray baking sheet with cooking spray. Place the spinach and kale bites onto baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. Serve warm.
  8. Yields: 20 bites

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Meat Dishes

The Perfect Filet Mignon Roast

The Perfect Filet Mignon Roast ~ is crusty on the outside, but also moist, juicy and tender on the inside and seasoned to perfection! The meat is so unbelievably moist, it’s like butter!

We gave this roast its full flavor by adding prosciutto, onions and seasonings. But the secret to making a perfect roast is keeping water at the bottom of the pan while roasting in the oven. We highly recommend using a roasting rack with this recipe.  This helps keep the roast super moist while cooking.  It’s also the reason why it’s so tender.

Not everyone prefers poultry, turkey or even a glazed ham for the holidays. Our family LOVES this Filet Mignon Roast on special occasions and it’s a nice alternative. Serve this roast as your main course with your favorite side dishes.And, don’t forget the wine!  Definitely a red! …we prefer to pair it with a Chianti.

Enjoy this fantastic feast!

The Perfect Filet Mignon Roast

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2.  In a large roasting pan with a roasting rack that fits most roasting pans, lay the slices of the prosciutto on the bottom of rack horizontally, overlapping slices.  Place the Filet Mignon roast on top of  prosciutto.  Season the meat with salt, pepper and garlic powder generously.

3.  Scatter sliced onions on top.

4.  Pour about 4 cups of water in the bottom of roasting pan, (under the roasting rack) just below the meat but not touching.  Drizzle olive oil over meat.

5.  Cook for 20 minutes per pound, about 2 hours.  Rotate the roast every half hour.
Remove from rack, and place onto cutting board, allow the roast to sit for 5 to 7 minutes before carving.

6.  Carve into 1-inch slices.  Remove the string, and transfer slices onto a serving platter.
Serve immediately.

Serve with our vegetable sides like garlic mashed potatoes and sweet baby peas with onions and capers.  Enjoy!

Serves 6 to 8

Casseroles/ One Dish Meals/ Vegetable Sides

Best Eggplant “Manicotti” Casserole

Eggplant “Manicotti” Casserole ~ is a smart way to eating your favorite manicotti without all the calories and carbs! Cleverly swap out crepes or pasta noodles for eggplant slices that have been roasted then filled with ricotta, rolled, and topped with tomato sauce and cheese. Baked in one casserole to resemble manicotti.  Not only is this dish so delicious, it also cuts the carbs, fat and calories to more then half! How great is that?


Traditionally, mom would always serve manicotti as the first course on Easter Sunday, followed by 10 other dishes as the main course.  But, ever since a Costco opened up in our parents neighborhood, (and I’m taking about years ago) my mom would buy them already made. Throw them into a baking dish, add sauce and cheese on top and bake.  Back then, my parents were so obsessed over Costco, they would shop there weekly.  They would constantly tell us how they much money they saved!
And we’d rolled our eyes, and say, Ok, we get it,  yeah – we know – you go broke to save money!  Haha…

So true.

Anyway, I made this eggplant “manicotti” for my family and realized it was so good, I had to share it with you.  My daughter Lizzy loved the idea of serving these eggplant “manicotti” as the first course instead of pasta.  Good idea – for everyone.  And, since I’ve have been testing a few recipes this past week in order to decide on the menu for our Easter dinner, the decision was unanimous!  Eggplant manicotti will be served as the first course.  Hands down!

With a little planning in advance, you can make this casserole of eggplant manicotti very easily.

First, you will need 2 cups of tomato sauce (marinara sauce is best to use), ricotta cheese, fresh basil, grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and shredded mozzarella. Good quality ingredients is what makes this dish so amazing!  You will taste the freshness of each ingredient as the flavors will burst in your mouth with every bite.  The dreamy creamy ricotta cheese melted, nestled inside of tender eggplant make this dish so irresistible, you won’t miss the crepes (or pasta), for sure!

Best of all, eggplant “manicotti” are so light, you’ll have plenty of room to enjoy the rest of your Easter dinner.

My family now believes it’s the BEST “manicotti” casserole they have ever had!  Who are they kidding, … it’s the only one they ever had!  …Enjoy!

Try this recipe!  Let us know how it turns out.  Have a great Tuesday!


Best Eggplant “Manicotti” Casserole

  • 2 large eggplants, (about 8 or 9-inches long and 5-inches in diameter)
  • 1 + 1/4 cups of ricotta cheese, (such as Polly O, or Galbani)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese -divided
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. dried parsley
  • 2 cups Mom’s Quick Marinara Sauce – divided
  • 3/4 cup shredded whole milk (or reduced fat) mozzarella cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil – divided

1.  Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

2.  Using a large, sharp knife, slightly square off the tops and slightly the bottom of each eggplant. Slice the eggplant lengthwise into 8 to 10 slices that are about 1/4-inch thick.  Don’t worry if they are not the exact size or thickness. When they bake, no one will notice any difference.

Then lay the eggplant slices on the prepared baking sheets. You can overlap them slightly.
Season with some salt and black pepper to taste.

3.  BAKE eggplants in oven for about 10 minutes, remove and lightly drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over each baking sheet.  Return them back to the oven to continue roasting for another 8 to 10 minutes, until the eggplant is golden and tender.  Remove and set aside to cool slightly.

4.  REDUCE oven to 350 degrees.  While the eggplant is cooling down, prepare the ricotta filling.
Combine and blend the ricotta with 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese, fresh basil and dried parsley.  Season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste.

5.  Spread 1 cup of the marinara sauce on the bottom of an 9 x 6-inch baking dish.  Set aside.

6.  Lay the roasted eggplant slices on a work surface, two at a time.  Spoon about 1 tablespoon (a good dollop) of the ricotta mixture onto an end of the eggplant slice and roll it up.

Place each eggplant “manicotti,” seam side down, in the baking dish, side by side and in two rows ( if you can).  Place as many as you can into the baking dish.  Spoon the remaining marinara sauce over the eggplant evenly.  Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese on top, then with shredded mozzarella.

7.  BAKE (at 350 degrees) for 15 to 18 minutes, until the cheese is heated through, bubbly and golden on top.  Remove and set it aside for 2 minutes.  Serve immediately.

Serves: 2 Eggplant “Manicotti” per person (yields: 5 to 6 servings)
Recipe adapted from Rocco Dispirito

Cooks Notes: When slicing the eggplant, don’t worry if they’re not exactly 1/4-inch thick, you may have extra eggplant slices, and that’s Ok, since some slices may get charred if too thin and cannot be rolled into manicotti, which is the reason why I use 2 eggplants.  Make two rows of the “manicotti” in the baking dish, this will make it easier for serving.  Also, you can prepare this casserole the night before (do not bake it), cover with foil wrap and chill over night. Then take it out of the fridge at least 30 minutes,or more (to warm up to room temperature) before baking, then bake it uncovered.

Holiday Treats/ Kid-Friendly Recipes

Easter Bark

Easter is coming and just in time for fun and simple homemade candy recipes! Have you ever heard of Easter Bark? Kids love making colorful creations for Easter especially ones that are delicious to eat! Imagine all the different combinations of barks we can make right now. They’re not only delicious to eat, they make a festive presentation and put a smile on every one’s face.

 

Easter Bark is made like all other barks. Just melt white chocolate and pour it out onto a surface, add your favorite toppings and then cut it into pieces! It’s very easy and a fun activity in the kitchen for the whole family to enjoy. To make it look more like an Easter bark, I dropped pastel colored M&M candies on the base layer and then scattered shredded coconut and some green sparkling sugar on top.

My girls love the taste of this white chocolate bark. It offers a pleasing flavor, the coconut adds a soft-chewy texture and the M&M candies offer a soft crunch in every bite.

My girls think it’s cool to make chocolate bark for the holidays. They love to package them into gifts and give them away to family and friends. They even make the perfect gift for teachers!

Spring colored barks like this Easter bark also make a wonderful festive gift for special occasions, showers, and Mother’s Day!

Personally, I enjoy making chocolate bark all year long especially during all holidays.

Happy Lent and have a great day! 🙂



Easter Bark

Using a double boiler and over low heat, melt white chocolate chips, gently stirring until it melts.
Be careful not to over heat white chocolate, or it will seize up.

Pour the melted white chocolate out onto a parchment lined baking sheet, and spread it out to any shape you like. ( I shaped it into a giant egg).  Drop pastel M&M candies on top and lightly press each one into the white chocolate layer.  Then sprinkle on top with some shredded coconut.  I even pressed some shredded coconut around the edges of the bark.  Then top with a sprinkle of green colored sparkling sugar.

Place the baking sheet into the fridge to cool and firm up, about 1 hour.
When the chocolate is completely hardened, cut into pieces with a heavy knife.  Store at room temperature or in the refrigerator.

Yields: about 20 pieces

Salads and Sides/ Vegetable Sides/ Vegetarian Recipes

Maria’s Best Carrot Salad

Mom’s Best Carrot Salad is an easy healthy one made with fresh carrots that are cooked with a quick boil until they are perfectly tender to bite, then tossed with a sweet vinaigrette made with fresh garlic, oregano, extra-virgin olive oil, and white balsamic vinegar. These ingredients make a vibrant and delicious carrot salad with texture, enticing flavors and gets rid of all the notions of the so-called “boring” vegetable.

The garlic and oregano give a distinctive but subtle favor, creating a reaction to ask-” What’s in this salad?” And the longer the carrot salad sits, the more the vinaigrette will infuse its flavors into the carrots themselves making them taste AMAZING!!

I have been making this carrot salad all year long, and even though we posted this one years ago, I finally got around to taking new photos, giving it a fresh look.  I felt I had to post this one again, since everyone’s been asking for the recipe.

This happens to be our mom’s recipe and we think it’s the best carrot salad is the world!  She puts her heart and soul into everything she makes. We even put her name on this one, Maria’s Best Carrot Salad, just because we know it’s always a huge hit at every gathering we bring it to.

We think this is a versatile dish to serve with practically anything.

Mom cuts her fresh carrots into sticks, similar to the size of French-fries.  The carrots are gently boiled until they are al-dente, tender to the bite.  Then she tosses them with her freshly homemade vinaigrette and sets her carrot salad aside to marinate for a while. You can make this carrot salad up to 2 days ahead, only need to set it out at least 1/2 hour before serving.

Mom has been making this classic Neapolitan carrot salad known as “insalata di carrote” as long as we can remember.  She used to make this salad weekly for Dad, it was his absolute favorite salad. Now, every time I make it, I think of him.

Her fresh carrot salad always brings a bright color, along with the refreshing taste of a carrots to the table. They’re neither bland nor boring.  Just a simple recipe to use your carrots in another salad as well as getting your family to eating more of them!

Enjoy!  …. and Thanks for stopping by!

Here’s a Tip: Mom always makes her salads using fresh carrots. However, if you are short for time, you can use frozen carrots, but you need to remember to under cook them because if you over cook them, they will lose their flavor, become soggy, and they won’t taste good.

Maria’s Best Carrot Salad

Peel carrots and cut into rectangular sticks, about 2 inches in length.  Place carrots in a medium pot of water, and bring water to a boil.  Add a pinch of salt and boil the carrots for a few minutes, about 3 to 4 minutes, until the carrot are tender to the bite. Do not over cook the carrots, they should be crisp and tender.

Drain, and quickly blanch them in ice cold water for a few seconds to stop the cooking.  Place the carrots into a colander and allow them to drain well.

Place them into your salad bowl or platter, drizzle with olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, add fresh minced garlic and salt and pepper to taste. Gently toss the carrots, until well combined.  Cover and set the salad aside at room temperature to marinate, at least one hour before serving.

Before serving them, I always recommend to taste the carrots once more, they may need a little extra olive oil and vinegar since the carrots will absorb some of the vinaigrette while it sits and marinates.
Best served cool or at room temperature.

Serves 6 to 8

Kid-Friendly Recipes/ Vegan Recipes/ Vegetable Sides

Oven-Baked Parsnip Fries

Oven-Baked Parsnip Fries~ are simple, delicious and are a perfect, healthy alternative from french fries. Trust me, these Parsnip Fries are packed with so much flavor, no need to bring out the ketchup, your kids will love them too!

Fresh parsnips are cut into 2-inch sticks and baked with olive oil and herbs, making this a delicious side, that is easy to make and wonderful to serve with some of your favorite dishes.

Parsnips are related to the carrot family and have a sweet taste. They are rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Plus, each 1/2 cup serving is only about 55 calories, a win-win!

I try to get my family to eat more vegetables these days by making a variety of them for dinner. A few weeks ago, I roasted parsnips to make a Roasted Garlic and Parsnip Soup, and my Lizzy suggested I try baking them as I would French fries.  I did and my family loved them!

Give the parsnips a quick rinse in cold water, then gently peel the skin.  Trim off the ends and cut into long sticks.  Next, scatter them onto a baking sheet, drizzle some olive oil, herbs and bake in 15 minutes.  It’s that simple!

We used our favorite blend of herbs, “Herbs de Provence,” which comes conveniently in one bottle, making cooking a pleasure.  The blend of herbs in one combination give so much flavor to the parsnips, you won’t need to add any salt.  But if you prefer, go ahead, we won’t mind.

Baked Parsnip Fries are so good!  Serve them with a roast or poultry, your family will enjoy them as much as we do.  We love eating them alone, but the kids of course – will ask for the ketchup.

Try serving them with a drizzle of Truffle Oil and some grated Parmesan cheese on top, then watch them disappear!

ENJOY!

Oven-Baked Parsnip Fries

  • 1 pound fresh parsnips (about 3 or 4)- peeled, cut into 2-inch sticks
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, and extra
  • 1 Tbsp. dried Herbes de Provence
  • optional: ketchup, for dipping

1.  Preheat oven 400 degrees.  Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil on the bottom of a 13 x 9 baking pan.

2.  Scatter parsnips onto a baking pan.  Then sprinkle with Herbs de Provence over them and toss the parsnips with a spatula or with your hands to blend evenly.  And, spread the parsnips again in a single layer so they will bake evenly.

3.  Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until they are golden and crispy.  Remove and transfer to a serving dish.  Serve them warm.

Serves 3 to 4

Salads and Sides

Refreshing Tomato Salad with Tuna, Olives, and Red Onions

Refreshing Tomato Salad with Tuna, Olives and Red Onions ~ Chunks of solid white tuna, fresh juicy ripe tomatoes, Spanish green olives and red onions are tossed with only extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper to create a refreshing, healthy Italian-style salad that’s packed with protein.

We grew up eating this tomato and tuna salad. Mom always made it during Lent and even throughout the hot summer months. It can be made in advance and served as a quick meal for lunch or dinner. Since it contains a few staple ingredients from our pantry, you can easily make this Italian-style salad in minutes.

The key flavor in this tomato and tuna salad is the canned tuna and olive oil. The olive oil is what gives this tuna-fish its rich full flavor. And when the tuna blends with the natural juices from the tomatoes, it creates an exquisite vinaigrette dressing all on its own!

 

This tomato and tuna salad can be a wonderful addition to your brunch buffet table. Made only with real ingredients, this is a delicious, refreshing salad to serve anytime, and feel good about eating all the time.

Another delicious idea to serve on meatless Fridays too!

Enjoy and have a great weekend!

Refreshing Tomato Salad with Tuna, Olives and Red Onions

Place all the ingredients into a salad bowl, and mix until well blended.  Taste, and season with fresh cracked pepper to taste.  Set the bowl aside, somewhere in a cool place about 1/2 hour before serving to allow all flavors to marinate and infuse together.  Then serve.

Serves 3 to 4

Dairy Free Desserts/ Desserts/ Vegan Recipes

No Bake, Dairy-Free,Vanilla & Toasted Almond Panna Cotta

 

No Bake, Dairy-Free, Vanilla & Toasted Almond Panna Cotta ~ Classic panna cotta is a no bake, creamy Italian dessert flavored to taste like our favorite Good Humor Toasted Almond ice cream bar; only this one is dairy-free!  Yum!

I can remember our summers growing up and playing outside with all the kids on the block and hearing that distinctive chime coming from down the street. It was the sound every kid was all too familiar with and it was a part of our summers! The one truck’s melody every one recognized, the Good Humor Truck!  Kids would come out running from their homes to wave the truck to stop. It was a big treat for kid’s back in the day.
I tried to recreate that same treat, only in a more healthful and adult way.

Vanilla and Toasted Almond Panna Cotta is a silky, creamy and delicious treat! Similar to the toasted almond ice cream bar I would stand in line for when that truck was nearby.

Instead of making this dreamy dessert with heavy cream, I decided to make it with a coconut creamer.  I remember making a Dairy-Free Pistachio Ice Cream a few years back using a coconut creamer without the heavy cream and without an ice cream machine and it turned out great.

I thought I’d try making this panna cotta with the same coconut creamer to see if I can get the same consistency and taste as if I used heavy cream.  After one taste, I knew it was a hit, and no one realized it was made using a coconut creamer. Perfect!!

Panna Cotta is usually served with fresh berries on top or on the side, but I quickly toasted some shredded coconut on stove top for about a minute and used it as the garnish.

I made this Vanilla and Toasted Almond Panna Cotta over the weekend and brought it to a friends dinner party for dessert (and for a taste test).  Thankfully, it received thumbs up by everyone!

Panna cotta is super easy to prepare.  It makes an elegant dessert to serve guests and can be whipped up a few hours before they arrive.

Also, try our Panna Cotta Pie with Lingonberries and Chocolate Ganache, or Panna Cotta Pie Cheesecake with Blueberry Sauce, or our Mini Panna Cotta Tarts.

 

Enjoy!

No Bake, Dairy-Free, Vanilla & Toasted Almond Panna Cotta

Pour 2 cups of coconut creamer into a small pot and over medium-low heat.  Add the vanilla, almond extract and sugar.

Whisk until the sugar is completely dissolved and the creamer is heated through.  Do not bring to a boil.  Remove from heat and add in the unflavored gelatin and whisk continuously until the gelatin is melted and completely blended.  Allow it to cool for 5 minutes.

Divide the mixture among four (4-ounce) glasses, or dessert cups or decorative molds. Cover and refrigerate for at least four hours or over night before serving.

Just before serving, in a small skillet add the shredded coconut and on low heat to warm the coconut until fragrant and turn golden color.  Turn off heat and set it aside. Toasting the coconut can also be done in advance and stored in a small container until ready to use.

When ready to serve panna cotta, fill a small bowl with warm water, about 1 inch.  Dip the glasses into the warm water for a few seconds and run the tip of a knife around the edge to loosen the panna cotta.  Invert each one onto a dessert plate or platter and garnish with a sprinkle of toasted coconut, and serve immediately.

Serves 4

 

Chicken Recipes

Chicken Thighs with Lemon, Garlic & Thyme

 

Chicken Thighs with Lemon, Garlic & Thyme ~ are roasted in a bath of lemon juice, white wine, and chicken broth and is easily prepared in one baking dish.  These thighs always turn out super moist, juicy and lemony-delicious!


Spring has officially begun and we have already been setting up our terrace to enjoy eating al fresco but the weather has been chilly and so unpredictable, my husband suggested to make use of the oven.

So instead of grilling chicken outside, I decided to roast the thighs with everything, all 6 ingredients, including cloves of garlic and fresh thyme.  Simple ingredients are what make these chicken thighs so flavorful.  Roasting everything together in the oven is definitely an advantage, as it freed up my time to get other things done.  A blessing in disguise !

Plus, while the chicken was roasting, I quickly made my Oven Steak Fries, threw those in the oven as well and served them as a side.  Dinner was complete in less than an hour.  Perfect for a chilly night!

You can also serve these roasted thighs with our Garlic Mashed Potatoes, or Sweet Mashed Potatoes with Mascarpone Cheese.

No matter which side dish you serve them with, when you serve chicken thighs, remember to pour the remaining lemon juices over them, making the thighs taste even more flavorful.

The best part of roasting in the oven?  The lemon, garlic and thyme create a wonderful aroma that permeates throughout the house, bringing everyone to the table with an appetite.

ENJOY!!

Chicken Thighs with Lemon, Garlic & Thyme

  • 6 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (about 2 lbs)
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 3 to 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1/4 tsp. salt and fresh cracked black pepper

Preheat oven at 375 degrees on ROAST.

Rinse the thighs in a large bowl with running water and rinse chicken a few times, until water comes out clear.  Trim any excess fat from the thighs and discard. Drain in a colander.

Place the thighs in an 8 x 11 deep baking dish.

Pour in chicken broth, wine and lemon juice.  Toss in garlic cloves and season the chicken with salt and pepper and drizzle over the chicken with olive oil.

Toss in a some sprigs of fresh thyme on top.

Place the baking dish on the middle rack in the oven.  Roast the chicken, uncovered for 45 minutes.

Serves 3 to 5

Breakfast Breads and Lattes/ Desserts/ Kid-Friendly Recipes

Death by Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

Death by Chocolate Zucchini Muffins~ are loaded with zucchini, super moist in the center, with a rich chocolate flavor and melted-gooey dark chocolate chips in every bite. To say these chocolate zucchini muffins are decadent – would be an understatement!  The first reaction you’ll get from these double chocolate muffins will be O-M-G! And, let me warn you, you can’t just eat one. These chocolate zucchini muffins are SO good, you will want to serve them as a dessert, rather than muffins. Maybe you’ll even consider making them for the holiday.


In our house we love chocolate. In fact, I have to eat a piece of chocolate every day – and I mean every day.  No kidding. So when I was craving something chocolaty, I spotted this recipe and decided to try it out.

I enjoy making all kinds of treats, muffins and breads especially my banana ones and always use sour cream in my recipes to get the moistness from them. Surprisingly, I never realized that zucchini would do the same trick.

 

Zucchini adds an incredible moist texture to this recipe, that is completely hidden in these muffins,  and since the cocoa powder and the bitter-sweet chocolate chips take over, no one will ever know!

I usually keep zucchini in my fridge, all year long.  So adding zucchini to this recipe was a no brainier. Plus, adding fresh vegetables to a muffin recipe is always a bonus, especially when serving to kids. Adding 2 cups of zucchini – just made these muffins a little more healthier!

We adore everything and anything made with chocolate from cookies to cakes but, they’ll all have to move over!  Simply because these Death by Chocolate Zucchini Muffins are by far the BEST chocolate muffins I have ever had!

Death by Chocolate Zucchini Muffins are amazingly light and decadent alone.  But if you consider making them as a main dessert, simply coat with your choice of powdered sugar, chocolate ganache, or chocolate frosting! Trust me, you’ll take these muffins to a whole new level.

Loaded with zucchini, unsweetened cocoa, bitter-sweet chocolate chips, vanilla, butter, eggs and flour are simple ingredients in my pantry make it super easy to whip up and bake in minutes.

Chocolate zucchini muffins go perfect with coffee, tea, or milk. Enjoy them as a rewarding treat or to satisfy a chocolate craving.

Best of all – the kids will never know the hidden secret ingredient. You have to try these Death by Chocolate Zucchini Muffins and let me know how they turn out for you!Looking for more muffins with a hidden vegetable inside?  Try our Cinnamon Sweet Potato Muffins!

ENJOY!!



Death By Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line the muffin pan with paper cups.  Set aside.

2.  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.

3.  In another large bowl, whisk together sugar and egg and egg yolk until smooth, about 1 minute. Add (sightly cooled) melted butter and vanilla extract and continue to whisk until smooth. Whisk in the zucchini, and slowly add in the flour mixture, until all the flour mixture is well incorporated, about 2 minutes or 50 strokes.  Finally, fold in the chocolate chips.

4.  Using an ice cream scooper, pour into the muffin cups evenly and fill them to the top.  BAKE for 28 to 33 minutes, some ovens vary, therefore check on them after 25 minutes. Muffins are done when toothpick comes out clean.  Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes.

Makes: 12 chocolate zucchini muffins

Cooks Tips: Grating zucchini takes too long and is tedious work.  Rather than grating them manually, I used my mini food processor to the job, and turned zucchini’s into tiny pieces. You can find the mini-food processor here on Amazon.  Also, 2 medium zucchinis gave me the 2 cups I needed for this recipe. Finally, allow muffins to cool completely before freezing. They freeze beautifully.

Also, try this recipe as a Chocolate Zucchini Bread! Just butter one loaf pan, dust with cocoa powder, and bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Allow bread to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to rack to cool completely.

                                                          Recipe adapted by Delish.