Category Archives: Recipes

Roasted Chicken, Rosemary and Goat Cheese Lasagna

  

Let me start by saying I am not a runner.  I never have been.  Being the exercise enthusiast that I am, I will even go as far as saying, I hate running.

Now that that’s out of the way, I’m excited to announce I recently just completed my first 6.5 mile, half relay marathon.  I know. I’ll explain.

Somewhere around the sixth month during my pregnancy is when it happened.  I began to really get the itch.  It was between the period when my knees were giving out on me and dealing with the 20 extra pounds I had gained.  (Well, it was actually a little closer to 25 extra pounds. Ok, ahem…50. Ish. But most of it was water weight, I swear!).

Around that time was when I made a vow to myself that as soon as I was cleared for exercise I was going to tie up my laces and hit the pavement, hard.  It was my way of mentally focusing on getting through the last months as my energy continued to decrease and my self-pity increased.

So, I stuck to my word and just a couple of Sundays ago I completed my first ever marathon.  My two best gal-friends and sister, who are all regular runners, coached me through the whole process from beginning to end.  Everything from how to stretch, how to train, when to train.  What to eat…

I was given strict instructions to eat LOTS of carbs the days leading up to the race.  Biscuits, pizza, dulce de leche bars.  Ok, I made that part up, but the carbs part was true. I ate toast with bananas for breakfast, a powerbar for lunch, and this lasagna for dinner the night before.  And boy did it help me finish.

I’m not exactly convinced it was the carbs themselves that helped, but the fact that the lasagna was so insanely good, and I had leftovers in the fridge waiting for me to eat for lunch after I got back, so I ran that sucker as fast as I could.

The answer, I will never know, but the important thing is, I finished!

 Roasted Chicken, Rosemary & Goat Cheese Lasagna

  • 8 cooked lasagna sheets
  • 1 1.5 lb roasted chicken, meat pulled off and shredded (about 3 cups shredded chicken)
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 2 large stalks fresh rosemary (about 3 tsp), roughly chopped
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • kosher salt and pepper
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella (2 cups plus ½ cup)
  • 8oz goat cheese log

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook the lasagna sheets and set aside while you prepare the sauce.

In a large saucepan melt butter over medium heat.  Whisk in flour and cook to make a roux, about 2 minutes.  While whisking slowly add the milk.  Add the rosemary, nutmeg and 1 tsp kosher salt, and cook stirring occasionally until thickened, about 5 minutes.  Turn heat off and stir in 2 cups of the mozzarella until smooth. Check seasoning, add more salt as needed, and add pepper.

Across the bottom of a greased 8×8 pan, spoon about ¼ cup of béchamel sauce (just to cover the bottom), ¼ of the chicken, ¼ of the goat cheese and then arrange 2 cooked noodles next to each other on top (you may have to trim the lasagna sheets if you are using the standard length).  Repeat this three more times, ending with a layer of noodles on top.  Top with remaining ½ cup cheese, cover tightly with foil and bake for about 35-40 minutes or until the noodles are tender.  Remove foil and place under the broiler to brown the cheese on top. 

Serve with crispy garlic bread. Enjoy!

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Filed under All Posts, Goat Cheese, Pasta!, Personal, Recipes, Recipes - Chicken

Chocolate Oat Dulce De Leche Bars

 

It’s not just one thing about these bars, it’s everything.  Starting with the rich espresso-spiked chocolate crust to the creamy caramely center and ending with a gooey chocolate top.  AKA a chocolate lover’s dream.

I made these bars last weekend when we road tripped it back to my old stomping grounds in Ohio to visit the fam.  I knew if there was anyone who would love an insanely decadent dessert more than myself, it would be my family (it’s no mystery where my sweet tooth came from).

I wanted something that would hold well for travel and that was easy for me to throw together in the busy day of packing and working prior to leaving.  These were perfect.  I used a can of dulce de leche, which you can usually find in the Mexican section of your grocery store, but I also have a recipe to make your own below. Either way, I’m fairly certain you will die very happily after trying these.

Chocolate Oat Dulce De Leche Bars

You can buy cans of dulce de leche, usually in the Mexican aisle, at the grocery store, or below is a recipe to make it yourself  from a can of sweetened condensed milk (not to be confused with evaporated milk).  It’s simple to make, but if you do make it, just allow yourself plenty of time for it to bake and cool before you start the bars.

Recipe adapted from Cake, Batter, and Bowl

  • 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
  • 3/4 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • Dulce De Leche (recipe below) OR  1 13.4-ounce can dulce de leche
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Combine flour, oats, brown sugar, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl and mix well. In a microwave safe bowl melt the butter and unsweetened chocolate together (microwave for 1 minute or until butter and chocolate are melted, stir and then continue with 30 second intervals). Add the melted butter mixture into dry ingredients and mix with a fork until crumb forms. Reserve 1/2 cup of crumb mixture. Place remaining crumb mixture in a greased 8×8-inch pan and press down evenly. Bake crust at 350˚F for 10 minutes.

Combine dulce de leche and milk in a small bowl and mix well until smooth. Spread dulce de leche over partially baked crust and then top with chocolate chips and remaining 1/2 cup chocolate crumb mixture. Bake an additional 12 to 15 minutes or until set. Cool 1 hour at room temperature and refrigerate 1 to 2 hours or until filling is set. Cut into 16 bars and store in the refrigerator.

Dulce De Leche

  • 1 13.4 ounce can sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Pour the sweetened condensed milk into a shallow baking dish and add a pinch of salt.  Cover with foil. Create a water bath by placing the dish into a larger sized dish and fill it with water, so that it reaches half way up the side of the smaller dish with the sweetened condensed milk. 

Bake for about 1-1 1/2 hours or until it becomes nicely browned.  You may have to check occasionally while baking to see if more water is needed (if it has evaporated).  Let it cool and stir until smooth.

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Three Cheese Grilled Pizza

I have two favorite things about living in New Jersey.  First is having the luxury of living in the secluded countryside while only being a short train ride away from one of the world’s biggest and greatest cities.  And second, is pizza.  Good classic Italian pizza (and all other Italian deliciousness you find everywhere).

I rarely make pizza at home because we are surrounded by so many wonderful restaurants with those blazing brick ovens.  The ones that cook your pizza to a crispy, flavorful perfection within seconds.  But sometimes in the summer, when grilling season is upon us, I love to put on my sweats, grab a glass of wine and put a cheesy pizza over the coals.  It’s the next best thing to the brick oven kind. 

And if you’re like me, you’ll seek out your favorite pizza shop and buy the dough already made for only a couple of dollars.  More time to sit back, relax and soak up these sweet summer nights.

Three Cheese Grilled Pizza

This is more of the method opposed to a recipe.  Use whatever toppings you like.  For the three cheese pizza I used Shredded Provolone, Fresh Mozzarella and Shaved Parm, and it was superb.

  • Prepared pizza dough
  • Tomato sauce, recipe below
  • Olive oil
  • Toppings (I used shredded provolone, fresh mozzarella and topped with parmesan and basil, but you can use whatever you’d like!)

Tomato Sauce

(This recipe makes a lot of sauce, so if you’re only making one pizza, freeze the rest of it in individual ziplock bags to reuse in the future.)

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 (28oz) can crushed tomatoes

Heat a saucepan to medium and add garlic, oil, red pepper and salt. Continue to saute for just about a minute. Add tomato paste, oregano and basil and cook for a minute longer. Add tomatoes, bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Simmer for about 5 minutes and then adjust seasonings according to taste.

For the Grilled Pizza

Roll out dough on floured surface.  I like a thin crust, but don’t roll it out too thin or else it will burn quickly on the grill. Once your dough is rolled out heat the grill to med/high and have your sauce and toppings ready to go. 

Place the floured dough on a pizza peel (or back of a cookie sheet) and slide the dough onto the grill.  It should only take a few minutes, but check frequently to ensure it doesn’t burn.  You want it to have a nice browned bottom.  Once the bottom is browned remove from the grill with a spatula and pizza peel.

With the grilled side up, brush with olive oil and then add your sauce (a very thin layer of sauce is all you need).  Add the rest of your toppings beginning with the cheese.  Place the pizza back on the grill and cook covered until the bottom begins to brown and the cheese melts. 

Finish with fresh basil if desired.

UPDATE: If you are using the back of a cookie sheet or other surface, instead of a pizza peel which is made specifically for handling pizza dough, make sure you dust it with plenty of flour to ensure your dough does not stick to the surface when trying to transfer.  Or, it may just have to be a two person job!

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Mango and Avocado Quinoa Salad with Blackened Shrimp

When I was precisely 16 years and 5 months old I went on a trip to Peru. I remember my age exactly because only my 16 year and 5 month old self would get on a plane to one of the most amazing and culturally rich places in the world, kicking and screaming.  It’s quite embarrassing for me to admit it today since I would go absolutely anywhere in a heartbeat, but at the time, I didn’t want to go.

I was the only one left in the house after my older sisters had all moved out and my mom and step-father (a native Peruvian) wanted to bring me along with them to South America.  Being the dramatic teenager I was I thought for sure that my life would end immediately if I missed out on three whole weeks of summer happenings in my tiny Ohio town.  The idea of doing anything other than painting my fingernails and reading teen magazines did not interest me.

The plan for the trip was to first fly into Lima to stay with some family.  After a week of exploring the city we would continue on to a few smaller towns, visit more family, and then eventually end up in Cusco to do a four day hike to Machu Picchu.  Which, by the way, I showed up in the Andes mountains for this half of a week long hike up a mountain, never having hiked before, wearing a pair of Sketchers boots, and a backpack full of Seventeen magazines and nail polish. I vividly remember standing on the top of the mountain next to a group of four Frenchmen, who had been training for this hike for months, as I flipped through and re-read my test scores from the “What kind of boyfriend is he” quiz. 

Lima, Machu Picchu, Cusco…none of those words really meant anything to me at the time because, not only had I never been to Peru, I had never been out of the country before.  I had no idea what it was like to see the world and my expectations were low (how could anything be better than Ohio?).  I was skeptical all the way up to, and even after, getting off that plane and stepping foot into Lima.  I remember how we sifted through taxi after taxi lined up outside to make sure we got in a legit car since they’ve been known to just slap a “Taxi Cab” sticker on the door to make a few bucks.  I remember how I was told that sometimes they’ll even kidnap you and hold you for a ransom to make a few bucks more.  I remember how we got in the taxi with a driver going 720 miles an hour, swerving through traffic while almost hitting a man walking a goat on a leash downtown Lima.   And then I remember thinking, Oh my god.  I’m going to love this place!

It was all so new and exciting and everything about it was intriguing. I especially loved the food. I had never experienced tasting the cuisine and dining cultures of a different group of people before and of all places, Peru seriously does it right.  Foods like quinoa and ceviche are everywhere. Fresh avocado, freshly squeezed oj carts going down the streets, I loved every bite of everything I put in my mouth.  Even some questionable things that I will refrain from sharing with you!

I am so grateful for the experience and it truly helped shape me into the passionate traveler and food lover that I am today.   When I eat foods like quinoa it always makes me nostalgic thinking back to the time when I had it first.  Every bite of the mild and nutty grain is better than the next.  It’s times like this that food…is more than just food.

 Mango and Avocado Quinoa Salad with Blackened Shrimp

Serves 2 large lunch sized portions, or 4 smaller portions

Quinoa

(you can use all water if you prefer, but I think the chicken stock gives it a nice added flavor)

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • salt
  • 1 large mango, pitted and diced
  • 1 large avocado, pitted and diced
  • 2 green onions, diced
  • Cilantro, a large handful chopped (about ½ cup)
  • Freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1-2 tbs olive oil
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • salt
  • pepper

Blackened Shrimp

  • 1/2 lb shrimp, peeled and devained
  • blackening seasoning (or you can buy prepared blackening seasoning)
  • salt
  • 2 tbs olive oil

Begin by rinsing your quinoa under cold water.  Next, add your quinoa, water, chicken stock and pinch of salt to a medium sized pot.  Bring to a boil and then cover with a lid and turn the heat down to a simmer. Continue to simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. 

For the shrimp, place all the shrimp in a large ziplock bag, add your blackening seasoning, a little salt and a drizzle of olive oil and shake to coat completely.  Heat another tbsp olive oil to medium-high heat in a large pan.  Cook the shrimp on each side for just a couple minutes, or until they turn pink.  Shrimp cook very quickly, so be sure not to overcook.

Mix the quinoa with the remaining ingredients, season with salt and pepper and serve with the shrimp and fresh cilantro garnish

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Wild Mushroom, Sage and Fontina Cheese Quesadillas

I’m reposting this recipe from last year when I told you about how my husband likes to accuse me of having a secret Mexican heritage.  Besides the fact that I go absolutely batty over flavors like cilantro, avocado, jalapenos (or all three combined, like this recipe: cilantro-lime jalapeno chicken salad) my obsession with tortillas is uncanny.  I eat a tortilla at least once a day, wrapped around my morning eggs, and sometimes I’ll have more for lunch or dinner in a quesadilla format.

Quesadillas are one of my favorite go-to meals.  We all face the same challenge of finding the time to cook, myself included.  Many of my days are spent cooking and shopping for clients (and caring for this little lamb chop), leaving me little time for personal cooking.

This is why I think it’s always important to have one or two versatile dishes you could cook in a synch with whatever you have on hand.  If you have a few staples to fall back on its less planning and preparation on your part for at least one or two nights a week.  And, it’s also a great way to utilize leftovers. I am a HUGE fan of re-inventing your leftovers.

Because I’ve been known to put just about anything in the middle of two tortillas and call it a quesadilla, I’ll share with you some of my favorites. Ham, egg and pickle for a little Cuban flair, a skirt steak & caramelized onion version, chicken & chorizo with peppers, or even an herb roasted veggie and cream cheese combo. 

And of course, I can’t forget this little number.  I could eat this everyday and be a very happy girl.

Wild Mushroom, Sage & Fontina Quesadillas

serves 2

  • 4 whole wheat tortillas
  • 4 cup of assorted wild mushrooms (cremini, shiitake, baby portobello) stems trimmed and cleaned
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • about 6 large sage leaves, chopped
  • about ½ -3/4 cup mild Fontina cheese, shredded
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • veg oil
  • salt and pepper

Heat butter in a large saute pan and add shallot.  Cook shallot for about 3 minutes over medium heat or until shallot begins to soften.  Add mushrooms and cook until tender, about 5-7 minutes.  If your mushrooms stick to the pan you need to turn the heat down and add a drop of water.  Add garlic and saute for a couple minutes more.  Season with salt and pepper. Turn off the heat and stir in sage leaves. Check for seasoning.

In large sauté pan heat oil on medium.  Add one tortilla and spread out cheese and mushrooms evenly.  Add top tortilla and press down lightly. Cook on each side for approximately 3-4 minutes or until lightly browned and cheese is melted.

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Kentucky Bourbon Balls

 

 

Believe it or not, I learned most about stereotypes long before I moved to New Jersey (surprising, I know!). 

As a native Ohioan, or more suitably I should say Cincinnatian, we have a serious love-hate relationship with Kentucky.  Depending on the situation, we will either turn up our nose and clearly make known, with all of our stereotypical glory, that the Ohio River creates a solid state line separating modern civilization with that other state.  Followed by some type of joke about cousins marrying cousins.

And then in other cases we’ll proudly proclaim that it is our sister state, our comrade, our next door neighbor that produces arugably the world’s best whiskey, hosts infamous horse races, and is home to the cowboy hat wearing, gun-slinging Mr. Raylan Givens (for all you Justified fans). 

In this case I think it goes without saying that Kentucky would be our friend.  Our close friend.  Dear friend.  Our great Makers Mark-producing, Knob Creek-making, cousin kissing friend!

In honor of the Kentucky Derby coming up I wanted to share these, but they are a really delicious treat for any type of party.  Make them ahead of time and store them in an airtight container for up to two weeks, sometimes I add coconut, sometimes I dip them in an extra layer of chocolate, and sometimes I just nibble on them with a glass of red wine.  Truly an easy and succulent treat.

Kentucky Bourbon Balls

Adapted from Williams Sonoma Cookies Cookbook

Makes about 4 1/2 dozen cookies

  • 1 box Vanilla Wafers, crushed
  • 6 oz dark, or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/3 cup Kentucky Bourbon (or can substitute other bourbon)
  • 2 cups toasted pecans, finely chopped
  • pinch of salt

Begin by crushing the vanilla wafers in a food processor (or by placing them in a large plastic bag and crushing them with the back of a spatula or rolling pin).

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave for 30 minute increments, stirring in between.  Remove the chocolate from the heat and add brown sugar, corn syrup, bourbon and salt.  Next, stir in the vanilla wafers and half of the pecans.

Measure out 1 tablespoon of dough and roll into a ball.  Roll the ball in the remaining half of pecans.  Refrigerate the cookies for at least one day prior to serving to allow flavors to merge.  

 

 

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Homemade Herbed Mayonnaise

If there is anything that I could say to convince you to make your own mayonnaise it would be: watch this video.  Although my days of learning to make mayo began long ago in culinary school, after watching Michael Ruhlman’s video I was in the kitchen urgently cracking eggs before it was even half way over.  Not only does he demonstrate how it takes less than 2 minutes to make with ingredients you most likely already have on hand, but he reminds us of the smooth luxurious taste that is incomparable to any type of store-bought kind. 

The video could not have come at a more appropriate time as I had just been informed that my husband was bringing company over in less than an hour.  Because I eat salads frequently I had arugula and cherry tomatoes in the fridge and because bacon is, well bacon, I always have bacon.  I took some leftover baguette from the prior nights dinner, (very) lightly toasted it, covered it with a smooth layer of herbed mayo, and although I secretly wanted to stop there, I topped it with arugula, tomatoes and bacon for a nice little BLT appetizer (and I still had time to snap a few pics!).  

You can use whatever type of herbs you’d like, but I used what I had growing on my window sill.  You can also add a little more lemon and garlic for a tasty dip, serve it with roasted veggies, make deviled eggs, eat it with hot crispy french fries or just pack it in your brown bag for your turkey & cheddar on wheat.  Whatever you decide to do with it, I’m fairly certain you’ll be a homemade mayo fan for life.

Homemade Herbed Mayonnaise

(adapted from Michael Ruhlman)

  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp water
  • 1 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • freshly chopped tarragon, chives and parsley

The fastest and easiest way to make mayo is by using a handheld blender (as shown in the video), but if you do not have one you can achieve the same results with a whisk.  Just ensure you are whisking vigorously enough to properly emulsify your ingredients.

In a medium bowl combine the yolk, salt, water and lemon juice.  Ensure your bowl will hold steady on the counter while you are whisking by folding a towel or moist paper towel underneath and begin to whisk ingredients together.

Slowly add the oil, in a wire-thin stream, while whisking vigorously.  Once your emulsion starts to become creamy, you can add the oil a little faster. From the beginning the mixture should be thick enough to hold its shape and look luxuriously creamy. Add the oil too quickly and it will break, that is, it will turn soupy.  When all the oil is incorporated add the chopped herbs and adjust the lemon if needed. 

(If the mayonnaise is too thick, it can be thinned by whisking in a little water or

If it breaks, put a teaspoon of water in a clean bowl and start the process over by drizzling in the broken mayonnaise while whisking.

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