Crazy for Pizza!

As much as we love going out for drinks on Friday to celebrate the weekend and put the week behind us, we also love staying in and having our friends over for our version of happy hour. Being the pizza fanatics we are, we decided to try and make our own. We took a shortcut (love that) and used pre baked crusts (you can also use Naan or Pitas) but I must say I was proud of the result and judging by how quickly we all devoured our slices, I’d say our friends liked them too.

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My favorite! Margherita (with a little sauce)

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Mike’s yummy creation… A Philly Cheesesteak pie (Wiz included)

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I LOVED this combination! Goat Cheese and Figs (balsamic glaze)

What is your favorite way to spend Friday???

Shortcut to Delicious

I’m usually one for going all out and cooking weeknight feasts…I said usually. Today I was just tired and not looking forward to spending an hour in the kitchen, so I decided to get a little creative and take some shortcuts. I’m sure you guys know by now I have a slight pasta addiction and that was definitely the first thing that came to mind. I tried this sauce a couple of weeks ago and was amazed at how delicious it is, so much so that I just had to have it again. I have never been a fan of jarred pasta sauce but this one can give some home made sauces a run for their money; it is perfectly seasoned (not too heavy on the sodium) and can stand alone or be a great companion to chicken or seafood. The ravioli have a butternut squash filling (light and savory) and the shrimp were pre-cooked to perfection (thanks Whole Foods!!!). I added a little chopped basil, arugula and spinach. Voila! Dinner in 15 minutes! I hope I can inspire you to be a little lazy too 😉

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Monday Meatballs Pomodoro

Few things are more comforting to me than a big bowl of pasta and it having been a crazy Monday, I can honestly say; comforting is much needed. This is a simple recipe that will instantly bring you back to all those Sundays spent at Nona’s house eating supper with la famiglia (provided you HAVE a Nona and she just happens to make kick ass meatballs). 😜

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For the meatballs:

1 lb lean ground beef
1 egg
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Combine all ingredients, form into balls, bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes (until golden and cooked through).

For the Pomodoro:

1 28oz can whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes, puréed in food processor
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 medium onion, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt
3 large fresh basil sprigs
12 oz. bucatini or spaghetti
2 Tbsp. cubed unsalted butter
1/4 cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino

Heat extra-virgin olive oil in a pan over medium-low heat. Add minced onion, cook, stirring, until soft, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add red pepper flakes; cook for 1 minute more. Increase heat to medium, add puréed tomatoes and season lightly with salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce reduces slightly about 20 minutes. Remove pan from heat, stir in basil sprigs, and set aside.

Meanwhile, bring water to a boil. Season with salt; add spaghetti and cook until aldente. Discard basil and heat sauce over low – medium heat; add meatballs and pasta, toss to coat. Remove pan from heat; add butter and cheese; toss until cheese melts. Transfer to warm bowls; serve with more cheese, if desired (to which I say: YES!).

Sangria!

You know what they say:

When life gives you leftover watermelon and Pinot Noir…you turn it into Sangria!

This is totally my version using whatever I could find in my fridge. But I think it turned out damn well.

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1 bottle Pinot Noir or your favorite red wine
1 cup club soda
1 cup grapefruit juice
1/2 cup sliced strawberries
1 lime, sliced
1/4 cup raspberries, muddled
1 cup diced watermelon
1 tbsp agave nectar
2 sprigs of mint

On my mind

I’m noticing a trend in my cravings lately; simple and comforting and when it comes to simple can you really beat a sandwich? Now this is not just any sandwich. It is in my opinion the best ever to have been invented and you can of course credit the French. This one is a version by Emily from Cupcakes and Cashmere and I can’t wait to try my hand at it.

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What do you think? Do you have a go-to Croque Madame recipe?

When Thursday is your Friday

Hi there!!! It’s been a while…too long actually. There have been many changes lately, my work schedule being one of them. Though I am not particularly happy about working 1 Saturday a month, I’ve decided to make the best of it. The upside is having the Friday beforehand off, which I’ve decided I’d treat just like Saturday only better; I’ll make sure to go all out with brunch (my favorite almond french toast), get things done around the house and maybe even go out for some shopping (minus the weekend crowds). So, I wanted to start my faux weekend with a fun dinner last night. Lobster pot pie was my pick. I’ve never made it before but have always wanted to try. I did a little recipe research online and took from several what I thought would work for my taste buds.

Here is the result and my simple recipe.

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You’ll need:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
½ cup frozen corn
½ cup frozen peas
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 cup clam juice
1/4 cup tomato sauce
2 tablespoons Brandy
½ pound cooked lobster meat (can be bought at the seafood counter)
½ teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and pepper
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed (keep refrigerated until ready to use)
1 large egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Set out two 2-cup individual ovenproof ramekins. Melt the butter over medium heat. Add diced onion and carrot. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Add Brandy and let it cook off (about 2 mins). Add corn and peas. Stir in flour, and cook 1 more minute. Add milk and clam juice stirring constantly. Cook until the sauce begins to thicken, about 5 minutes. Then remove from heat, add lobster and thyme, and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Remove the puff pastry from the refrigerator. On a lightly floured surface, flatten out 1 sheet of the pastry, using a floured rolling pin, to about 1⁄8-inch thickness. Using one of the bowls as a guide, cut the pastry into two circles. Spoon the filling into the bowls, and place one circle of dough on top of each potpie, pressing the edges to seal the pastry to the bowl. Cut a vent in the center so air can escape. Using a pastry brush, cover the surface of each pie with beaten egg. Place the potpies on a baking sheet and bake until pastry is puffed and becomes a golden brown shade, about 35 minutes.

And…the previously mentioned Almond French Toast:

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Serves 2:

4 large eggs
1/2 cup half-and-half or milk
2 tablespoons Cinnamon
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon pure Almond extract
1 tablespoon Orange Blossom honey
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 slices bread (any kind works)
Unsalted butter

In a shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs, half-and-half, cinnamon, orange zest, almond extract, honey, and salt. Soak bread slices in the egg mixture for a few minutes; turning once.

Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a sauté pan or griddle over medium heat. Add the soaked bread and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until nicely browned. Finish with maple syrup, confectioner’s sugar and your favorite fruit.

Nothing beats homemade

One of the not so healthy things I always find myself craving is a meatball sub. Nothing beats the combination of savory meatballs in marinara sauce, tons of melty delicious mozzarella wrapped in a toasty roll. So I decided to give it a try and attempt to make a healthier, lighter version at home so that maybe I can have them more often 😉 I opted for a lean 95, 15 ground beef, brioche buns from the Whole Foods bakery, mozzarella, and baby spinach for a little something green. The sauce is super light and if you have left overs I would highly recommend boiling some noodles and having a bowl of good ol’ spaghetti and meatballs.

This is how they turned out:

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For the meatballs:

1 lb. lean ground beef
1 egg
2 Tbsp. milk
1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
1/4 cup minced onion
1 tsp.salt
1 tsp. pepper
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped Parsley

Bake at 350 for 25 – 30 minutes.

For the sauce:

1/2 cup olive oil

2 small onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cans crushed tomatoes
2 dry bay leaves

Heat the oil over medium. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until the onions are translucent. Add the celery, carrots, and 1/2 teaspoon of each salt and pepper. Sauté until all the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and bay leaves, simmer uncovered on low heat until the sauce thickens. Remove the bay leaf, and toss in the meatballs!

What do you think, will you give it a try?

A Very Sweet Easter

We did not make Easter eggs or eat many of those delicious Cadbury chocolates. Instead we made our own yummy and very chocolatey dessert. Our Easter lunch/ early dinner consisted of two tried and true favorites; Beef Bourguignon and Julia Child’s Reine de Saba cake. It was my first time making the cake and I’m not sure I could have done it without my mom’s help; she is a wonderful baker and I love watching her move around the kitchen with an ease that is almost zen-like.

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter Sunday!!!

Here’s how it turned out:

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Keep it simple

There are few things more humble than a can of beans, but the best thing about them is their ability to be transformed, even into something rich. I personally enjoy them quite a bit even at their simplest so when I came across this recipe in Bon Appetit’s website I knew I had to try it. It was beyond tasty and I encourage you to try it too 🙂

Here’s how mine turned out:

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Is it Valentine’s Day yet?

I’m not sure if it’s the fact that I am a hopeless romantic, the abundance of chocolate and other sweets suddenly everywhere, or the variety of beautiful shades of pinks and reds splashed across greeting cards and decorations; but I look forward to Valentine’s day every year. So much so, that when strolling through the isles of my supermarket earlier in the week, I couldn’t help but pick up a Box of Pillsbury Valentine’s Day Fun-fetti cake mix and tub of icing to match. Now I will admit making cake or cupcakes from a box totally feels like cheating, but the way these turned out made me feel like good things can definitely come in small cardboard packages. I really enjoyed making and decorating these and they definitely have me looking forward to more V-day decadence. What are your plans to celebrate romance?

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The finished product.

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