Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Prosciutto, Roasted Red Pepper, and Basil Rolled Flank Steak

I love finding great party dish recipes. I have a large European family and my husband has a large family too. We love when they come to visit and I often enjoy cooking for everyone. In which case, I'm always on the hunt for an easy and delicious dish that can be thrown together for the whole family to enjoy.

This recipe provides all of that. It's very easy to make despite the intricate appearance. I was slightly apprehensive of having to butterfly the meat and tie it together into a roll- something I've never attempted to do before. However, the instructions were self explanatory and simple enough to execute. The presentation of this dish is well worth the intimidation factor. It appears difficult, but is easy to pull off I promise!

Not only is it simple to make, it's convenient because it can be prepped in advance. The meat should be marinated for 1-2 hours and can be assembled and refrigerated overnight to be baked the next day. When you're visiting with family or friends, who wants to be stuck in the kitchen missing out on all of the fun? With this dish, you can enjoy your time with guests while at the same time accomplishing a delicious meal that everyone will enjoy.

I promise you they will enjoy it... this recipe is full of delicious flavors. The vinaigrette marinade flavors the otherwise bland flank steak. The fresh ingredients acting as the "stuffing" in the roll are all unique and powerful flavors that compliment each other, creating a dish with a balanced and memorable taste. It is definitely a wow dish that will leave your guests satisfied.

Follow these steps to recreate my new favorite recipe by Simply Recipes!

Assemble the vinaigrette in a small bowl, whisk until combined. Meanwhile, butterfly the meat by laying the flank steak with the grains running up and down as shown below:

Take a sharp knife and position it along the edge, begin cutting from the far right towards the left so as to open the meat up like a book. Leave 1-inch at the edge uncut to keep the meat connected, but doubled in size. Brush both sides of the meat with marinade:

Lay the roasted red pepper, 1 tablespoon of parsley, prosciutto, basil leaves, parmesan cheese, the remaining chopped parsley, and fresh cracked pepper over the flank steak:

Roll the flank steak by taking the end closest to you and rolling it up like a jellyroll. Take 3 pieces of cooking string about 10 inches long and tie it in 3 locations to secure the roll.  Tie the string at the far right end, center of the roll, and the far left end.  Once knotted, cut off extra string:

Put the roll in a shallow baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, basting with the juices 3 times to ensure it remains moist. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes before slicing.

Italian Party Flank Steak Recipe
Recipe from Simply Recipes
Prep time: marinade 2 hours, prep and cook 1 hour.
Serves: 4 as main dish or can be used as an appetizer served with sliced baquette for 6-8 people
(Printable Recipe)

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red-wine vinegar
2 coves of garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1/4 teaspoon coarse black pepper

Flank steak:
1 flank steak (3/4 in thick, about 1 1/4 lbs), butterflied
2 jars of roasted red peppers
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
6 to 8 thin slices of prosciutto or other cured ham
24 medium sized fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Kitchen string

Assemble the vinaigrette in a small bowl, whisk until combined. Meanwhile, butterfly the meat by laying the flank steak with the grains running up and down. Take a sharp knife and position it along the edge, begin cutting from the far right towards the left so as to open the meat up like a book. Leave 1-inch at the edge uncut to keep the meat connected, but doubled in size. Brush both sides of the meat with the marinade. Allow to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

Once the meat has marinated, being to assemble the roll. First, lay the roasted red pepper over the flank steak. Then sprinkle 1 tablespoon of parsley and lay the prosciutto. Then finish by laying the whole basil leaves, sprinkle the parmesan cheese, remaining chopped parsley, and fresh cracked pepper. Finish by rolling the flank steak.

Roll the flank steak by taking the end closest to you and rolling it up like a jellyroll. Take 3 pieces of cooking string about 10 inches long and tie it in 3 locations to secure the roll.  Tie the string at the far right end, center of the roll, and the far left end.  Once knotted, cut off extra string.  Put the roll in a shallow baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, basting with the juices 3 times to ensure it remains moist. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes before slicing.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Blueberry Cobbler

I love apple crisp... something about baked fruit is so warm and comforting. It's a shame crisps are only made in the fall and winter. Good thing someone created a baked cobbler to fulfill our cravings for baked fruit in the Spring and Summer months!

Cobblers are similar to crisps because of the baked fruit, but the textures are very different. Crisp has that slight crunch with the caramelized oatmeal and brown sugar topping, while this cobbler recipe has a light sponge like consistency. They are equally delicious and full of sweet fruity goodness!

I love this cobbler recipe in particular because it requires so few ingredients. It's a dessert I find is easy to throw together when I have a sudden craving for something sweet . If you stock the few baking ingredients I have listed on my Pantry Staples page, you can whip this dessert up any time you like!

Despite it's convenience, you have to be warned that it's an extremely fussy recipe. Out of all of the times I've made this recipe, about half of those attempts have failed. You would think that would discourage me from using it, but its so delicious I can't give up on it! Not to mention, I get special requests put in by my husband for it... how can I say no to him?!

So to help you through the fussiness, just keep in mind that the baking time may need to be adjusted. So how can you tell if its baked through? That's the difficult part... you can't perform the toothpick test. In fact, it will always look wet and runny in the center because the melted butter settles on top... hence my multiple failed attempts! So my advice to you would be to prep with finesse paying close attention to each step and when in doubt leave it in the oven to bake longer. As far as I can tell, you can never over bake this recipe.

Good luck!! This recipe is well worth the hassle!

To start, melt one stick of butter in the corningware dish. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, mix the sugar, salt, flour, and baking powder. Then mix in the milk.

In a small saucepan heat 3 cups of fruit. Any mix of fruit will do! Add some extra sugar if you would like it even sweeter. Then when all three components are ready, carefully pour the batter into the center of the coringware pan that is holding the melted butter. Then carefully pour the fruit into the center of the dish.

Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until center appears as cooked through as possible. Don't be weary of the melted butter that collects on the surface of the dish. As it cools, the center drops slightly and the cake sponges.

Allow to cool about 20 minutes and serve with vanilla ice cream!

Fruit Cobbler (Mom’s amazing Cobbler!!)

Servings: 6-8
(Printable Recipe)

½ cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup whole milk
3 cups fresh or frozen fruit

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Melt the stick of butter directly into your 1.5 quart corningware baking dish in the microwave.

In a mixing bowl, stir together the sugar, salt, flour, and baking powder. Mix in the milk.

Heat the fruit in a saucepan. Add some extra sugar if you would like it even sweeter. (Why not?) You can use any type of berry, and I like to mix fresh peaches and blueberries. Plums are also divine, but don’t bother peeling them. In a pinch (or in the winter), frozen fruit works too.

Pour the batter directly into the center of the melted butter. Pour the hot fruit into the center of the batter. Bake for 1 hour or until it looks golden brown.


Chicken Caesar Salad with Homemade Croutons

I love Caesar Salad. What's better than serving a pretty caesar salad that tastes incredible for a dinner party or sit down meal with friends. This recipe provides all of that. It's appearance is elegant with the shavings of parmesan cheese sprinkled on top and it's flavor is refreshing with the lemon juice and spicy mustard based dressing.

Not only does this recipe have an appealing appearance and flavor, it's also versatile. It can be used as a delicate appetizer or a main dish with added grilled chicken. It can be dressed up for a party or dressed down for a BBQ side.

AND as if things couldn't get any better, the homemade croutons sprinkled on top make this recipe addictive. They are SO good my husband and I eat them like CANDY! Any time I've made them for friends or family, I've left the extras in a bowl on the table and the bowl is always wiped clean. How can you turn down buttered parmesan encrusted croutons! The ingredients are slightly heavy, but if you're able to contain yourself by limiting a few to your plate, they are a purely satisfying splurge!

Follow these instructions to make this dish for yourself:

To start, combine all of the dressing ingredients in a small bowl except the olive oil. Stir until combined.

Slowly whisk in the 1/2 cup of olive oil until combined.

If you're making your ceasar salad with chicken, feel free to marinate your chicken in 1/2 cup of the dressing for added flavor.

While the chicken is marinating, begin prepping your croutons. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut up about 1/2 of a large loaf of bread into small cubes (4 cups worth).

Combine the bread cubes, garlic powder, and parmesan cheese in a bowl. Stir until mixed.

Melt 1 stick of butter in the microwave. Pour melted butter over bread and mix immediately so butter evenly coats all pieces of cubed bread.

Spread bread on a cookie sheet and bake until golden brown about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, grill the chicken at medium heat for about 10 minutes on each side until no longer pink, but still moist. Cut and rinse the lettuce and put into a large salad bowl. Toss with the salad dressing until well coated. Sprinkle with homemade croutons, shredded parmesan cheese, and sliced grilled chicken breast. Serve and enjoy!

Caesar Salad
Adapted from Bobby Flay
(Printable Recipe)

4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 cloves minced garlic
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 anchovy fillets or 1/4 teaspoon anchovy paste
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for shaving
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
romaine lettuce
homemade croutons
grilled chicken (optional)

Mix all of the ingredients except the olive oil into a small bowl. Slowly whisk 1/2 cup of olive oil into mixture, whisk until combined.

Reserve 1/4 cup of dressing to marinate the chicken in. Marinate for 30 minutes or prepare the night before and allow to marinate overnight for best results. Once the chicken has marinated, grill on medium heat for about 10 minutes each side, or until no longer pink, but moist in the center. Slice the chicken breasts into long strips.

Meanwhile, cut up and wash the romaine lettuce. Put into a large salad bowl and toss with salad dressing until well coated. Top with croutons, shaved parmesan cheese, and sliced grilled chicken breast.

Homemade Croutons

4 cups of fresh bread cut into bite sized cubes
½ stick of butter
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ cup parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt butter in microwave. While butter is melting, sprinkle cubed bread with garlic and parmesan cheese; mix well. Pour melted butter over bread and mix immediately so butter evenly coats all pieces of cubed bread. Spread bread on a cookie sheet and bake until golden brown about 20 minutes.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Chicken Piccata

For tonight's dinner I had some chicken breasts I needed to cook and some lemons on hand. Because of the rain we've had the last couple of days, I wasn't interested in braving the storm and grilling outside. Although, I am hoping to savor these quickly fleeting summer nights with more burger and salad recipes while I still can! However, for tonight's meal due to the circumstances, I decided to make one of my favorite, simple, and satisfying meals... Chicken Piccata.

I love this recipe because the combination of cooking the chicken on a skillet with olive oil and then baking it in the oven, allows the chicken to have an excellent consistency. The chicken is moist in the center and crispy on the outside. What more can you ask for?!

Not only is the chicken cooked to perfection, but the flavor of the sauce is so delicious. The lemon juice and wine provides a perfect balance of strong flavors. The addition of the lemon halves is genius, soaking the dish with the extra lemon it needs. This recipe doesn't make a lot of sauce, but the flavors are so powerful that you don't need a lot over the chicken for it to take on the flavors. You can double the recipe if you'd prefer more sauce to serve over pasta for example.

This dish is honestly restaurant quality and the credit can be given to Ina... because once again it's an Ina Garten creation that will not leave you disappointed. Follow these step by step instructions to recreating her amazing Chicken Piccata:

First begin by preparing the flour mixture, beaten egg, and bread crumbs in three separate shallow bowls for dipping.

Meanwhile, cut two chicken breasts in half (see the two left chicken breasts below) and beat with a meat pounder until thin (see the two right chicken breasts below). Salt and pepper both sides.

Once chicken is prepped, begin by dipping a piece of chicken in the flour, then egg, and finish with bread crumbs.

Warm enough olive oil on medium-high heat to lightly cover the bottom of a pan. Add each piece of chicken and cook until brown, about 2 minutes on each side.

Once the chicken has been browned, place on a baking sheet lined with foil and bake at 400 degrees for 5-10 minutes, until chicken is cooked through. While the chicken is baking, prepare the lemon wine sauce. Start by juicing 2 lemons until 1/3 cup of lemon juice is prepared.

Wipe out the pan that the chicken was cooking in with a dry paper towel. Over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and then add the lemon juice, wine, the reserved lemon halves, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Boil over high heat until reduced in half, about 2 minutes. Off the heat, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and swirl to combine. Add the capers.

Spoon sauce over the chicken. Add some lemon zest for garnish or slice one lemon and top over the chicken. Add sprinkles of parsley for an additional garnish if desired.

Chicken Piccata
Adapted from: Ina Garten
Serves: 4 servings
(Printable Recipe)

4 split (2 whole) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 extra-large egg
1/2 tablespoon water
3/4 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
Good olive oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons), lemon halves reserved
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons capers
Sliced lemon, for serving
Chopped fresh parsley leaves, for serving (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Place each chicken breast between 2 sheets of parchment paper or plastic wrap and pound out to 1/4-inch thick. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.

Mix the flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper in a shallow plate. In a second plate, beat the egg and 1/2 tablespoon of water together. Place the bread crumbs on a third plate. Dip each chicken breast first in the flour, shake off the excess, and then dip in the egg and bread crumb mixtures.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saute pan over medium to medium-low heat. Add the chicken breasts and cook for 2 minutes on each side, until browned. Place them on the sheet pan and allow them to bake for 5 to 10 minutes while you make the sauce.

For the sauce, wipe out the saute pan with a dry paper towel. Over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and then add the lemon juice, wine, the reserved lemon halves, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Boil over high heat until reduced in half, about 2 minutes. Off the heat, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and swirl to combine. Add the capers. Discard the lemon halves and serve 1 chicken breast on each plate. Spoon on the sauce and serve with a slice of lemon, and a sprinkling of capers and fresh parsley.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Creamed Mushroom and Chive Spread

I've been wanting to try this recipe and with the season change looming I thought this appetizer would be perfect for my friend Liz's birthday party in Boston! A group of my college girlfriends were getting together for a night out in Boston starting with wine, snacks, and a birthday cake at my friends, Colleen and Shannon's apartment.

This recipe was so easy to put together as I rushed to pack and make the two hour drive. It only took me about 20 minutes... the worst part of the recipe was having to chop up all of those mushrooms. Not so bad!

Not only was it a breeze to put together, it was also a perfect compliment to the rest of the delicious spread of finger foods they had. It was light, but flavorful. The simmering of wine, shallots, and cream added richness to the flavor. The creamy consistency helped to pull the mushrooms and chives together well on the cracker. For the trip to Boston, I used this recipe as a dip with crackers to make it easier to transfer, but I'm looking forward to trying it with buttered baguette toasts for something a little more fun!

Hope you try it out! Let me know what you think!

Creamed Mushroom and Chive Spread
From: Smitten Kitchen
(Printable Recipe)


1/2 pound mushrooms
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, more for toast
1 large or 2 small shallots, chopped
2 tablespoons dry white wine or white vermouth
1/4 cup heavy cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 baquette, thinly sliced or crackers
2 tablespoons fresh chopped chives and more for sprinkling of garnish

Clean excess dirt from mushrooms. Slice mushrooms in half lengthwise and brush away any grit; chop into 1/4-inch pieces. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots and sauté until very limp, about three minutes. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring, for about five minutes. Add wine, reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook for about five minutes more. Uncover pot and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated, about two minutes. Stir in cream; simmer until slightly thickened, two minutes longer. Remove from heat and add 2 tablespoons of chopped chives and mix. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

This spread can be served with buttered baquette slices or crackers for dipping. If serving with toast, butter the bread and put in oven at 400 degrees until golden. Top each toast with some mushroom mixture. Sprinkle with additional chives for garnish and serve. If serving as a dip, sprinkle with chopped chives and serve with crackers.

Artichoke & Green Olive Tapenade

I'm a big fan of artichokes... in fact one of my favorite aisles in the grocery store is the Italian section where all of the jarred olives, capers, marinated mushrooms, and stuffed cherry peppers are kept... OMG my mouth is watering just thinking about it!!

That might explain why I've been so eager to try this recipe. How can you go wrong with artichokes, green olives, and capers compiled into a finely chopped spread?! That is one dip that is packed with flavor.

The appearance of this spread by itself wouldn't attract the picky eater of the bunch... I've seen prettier dips. But there are ways to spruce it up if you're serving it at an event where pretty dips are mandatory! I recently used this as a dip served with crackers (see picture below), but you can butter and toast a thinly sliced baguette, drop a dollop of dip and serve with a sprinkling of shredded Parmesan cheese for garnish and an extra kick of flavor (see picture above).

Despite this less than attractive dish, the flavor exceeds all expectations! It's definitely worth trying and it is one that I will be making again in the future.

Artichoke and Green Olive Tapenade

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Serves: 6 servings
(Printable Recipe)

1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
1 cup large green pitted olives
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and drained
1 15-ounce can of artichoke hearts, drained
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large baguette, thinly sliced or crackers
Shreds of parmesan Cheese slices for garnish

In a food processor, process the garlic, olives, capers, artichoke hearts and olive oil to a coarse paste.

This spread can be served with crackers or with buttered baquette slices. If you choose to serve with toast, butter the bread and put in the oven at 400 degrees until bread is golden. Spread the olive paste thickly over the toasts and serve. Top with a shred of parmesan cheese for garnish if desired.

(Do ahead: The olive paste can be refrigerated for 2 days. Let it return to room temperature before using.)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Banana Bread Topped With Banana Glaze

One dessert that I've found should be in everyone's recipe collection is a good banana bread. I think many families buy bananas often to accompany their lunch or provide a healthy snack. I don't know about you, but I always have good intentions of eating each banana in the bunch, but by the end of the week I'm usually left with a few overly ripe ones. Instead of throwing them out and letting them go to waste, they can be made into a delicious banana bread.

This recipe is unlike others because of its banana glaze. It's absolutely addicting- no questions asked. It's made with a mashed banana, confectioner's sugar, butter, and vanilla. Despite its few ingredients, the glaze is full of flavor and adds a beautiful presentation to each slice.

I find this recipe perfect as a last minute throw together dessert for any occasion. It uses pantry staple ingredients and requires very few steps. It's an easy and completely satisfying dessert option that I hope you try and find yourself enjoying as much as my family does!

Mom's Banana Bread
(Printable Recipe)

1 egg
1 cup sugar
½ cup melted butter
3 bananas
1 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
Chopped nuts

1 tablespoon butter, softened
1/2 banana, mashed
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Beat egg. Add sugar and melted butter. Add mashed banana.
Sift dry ingredients into a separate bowl. Add sifted dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix.
Put batter into a greased loaf pan and bake for 45-55 minutes.

To prepare the glaze, mix 1 tablespoon soft butter, ½ banana (mashed), confectioners sugar, and ½ teaspoon vanilla. Add more confectioners sugar to thicken if necessary. Spread glaze over loaf once it has cooled completely. Sprinkle the top with chopped nuts to decorate.

Margarita Pizza

I was recently given a bag full of garden tomatoes. They looked so fresh and ripe I decided that although I'm often a planner of meals and recipes, I had to act quickly and on my toes to whip up a dinner using tomatoes. They weren't going to last much longer and I couldn't let them go to waste! With a few other ingredients I had on hand, I decided to use these tomatoes towards a Margarita Pizza.

I love pizza night and try to make it once a week as one of my "lazy" meals. A person can only cook so many time consuming meals in one week. So I like to make pizza when I'm in the need for a night off from cooking.

When I started living on my own, I used to buy frozen pizzas to provide that quick and easy meal. I have since learned that although buying frozen pizza is easy, it's also expensive and not the healthiest option. A better alternative is customizing your very own homemade pizza!

Making your own homemade pizza isn't as time consuming as I once thought. I still haven't learned to make my own pizza dough, but I hope to write a new post featuring my first attempt at it soon! In the mean time, I've been buying a fresh ball of dough that our grocery store sells from a local bakery. It's made with natural ingredients without preservatives. It's a great base for a healthy pizza. With the pairing of mozzarella and garden fresh tomatoes and basil this is the best quick meal option for tonight's dinner!

Margarita Pizza

(Printable Recipe)

Pizza dough
1 large tomato, thinly sliced
1 16 oz. log of mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup basil, thinly sliced
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil

Roll out the pizza dough into a circle. Brush a pizza stone with olive oil and sprinkle with cornmeal. Place the pizza dough onto the pizza stone. Brush the dough with a generous amount of olive oil. Slice one tomato into thin slices and lay over the pizza dough to cover the entire surface of the dough. Then cut mozzarella into 1/4 inch slices and lay over the tomatoes. Scatter the mozzarella with enough space in between each piece of cheese for the cheese to spread as it melts. Thinly slice about 1/2 cup of basil and scatter over the mozzarella and tomatoes. Finish by sprinkling salt and pepper and a little olive oil to maximize the flavor. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until the pizza dough appears golden and cheese begins to brown.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Balsamic Glaze

This balsamic glaze is sweet, tangy, and packed with flavor. It has a perfectly thick consistency that provides a nice finish to any dish.

It's a versatile glaze that can be used in many ways. A few examples I've wanted to try are tossing chicken in this deliciously thick glaze and grilling it for a family BBQ... or tossing it with cooked broccoli, snap peas, and chicken served over a bed of rice for an easy Asian inspired meal... or even tossing it with wings for a Superbowl party appetizer.

Without a doubt this is a great recipe to have on hand and experiment with. It's extremely flavorful and will leave you licking your plate!

Balsamic Glaze
Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis
(Printable Recipe)


1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
5 sprigs of rosemary
5 garlic cloves, halved
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons water

Combine the balsamic, honey, brown sugar, soy sauce, rosemary sprigs, and garlic cloves, in a large bowl. Stir contents with a whisk until the honey and brown sugar dissolve.

Place the marinade in a small saucepan. Bring the marinade to a boil. Then reduce the heat to simmer and cook over low heat for 10 minutes. In a little bowl mix 1 tablespoon of cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of water until the cornstarch smooths. Add more water if needed. Add to the marinade and simmer for another 5 minutes, stirring constantly until thickened.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Tomato, Basil, Mozzarella Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

There's nothing like a fresh salad of tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil in the summer. It's light, refreshing, and packed with flavor- what more could you ask for?! Personally, the basil is my favorite part of this salad.

Fresh basil is one of my favorite herbs. It's aroma is so alluring. If I could put basil in everything- I would! My mom has an amazing herb garden with a plentiful supply of it. I aspire to have that one day, but I don't have a green thumb.

I tried growing basil out of seeds this Spring. I had a pot sitting in my kitchen windowsill with plenty of sunlight, I watered it when I saw it was in need of water, and nothing grew! I had a few sprouts here and there, but they were so delicate that when I watered them they collapsed with the weight of the water. Gardening is NOT my forte... Thank God for the grocery store. Regardless of my black thumb, I buy basil often and am never without a supply when I need it!

Tomato, Basil, Mozzarella Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette
Serves: 4
(Printable Recipe)

1 container of small mozzarella balls or 1 log of mozzarella cut into bite sized pieces
2 large tomatoes, diced (or 1 container of cherry tomatoes)
1/2 cup basil, sliced thin
1/4 cup red onion, sliced thin
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 garlic clove, minced

Combine diced mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, and red onion into a bowl. Set aside and prepare the vinaigrette. In a small bowl combine the balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and minced garlic. Slowly drizzle the olive oil into the balsamic mixture and whisk until combined.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Three Bean Salad

My husband doesn't make requests often... in fact I often complain to him that he doesn't have a favorite out of all of the dishes I've made for him. His response is always, "but I love everything you make". His plate is usually wiped clean so I can't say he's trying to get off the hook... maybe there is some honesty to his answer, but over this past summer I've FINALLY found that recipe that he puts requests in for me to make it! Oddly enough, it is the simplest and most unimaginative dish I've made... Three Bean Salad!

I have to admit, three bean salad was my mom's BBQ staple and I grew to love it too. I was suddenly craving it this summer and asked if he'd mind having it with dinner. He's not usually a picky eater, but when I'm about to throw something on the table that hasn't been put there before, I usually like to give him a heads up. He looked up at me with a blank stare and asked, "three bean salad?, what's that?" I couldn't believe he'd never tried it before! I was determined to introduce him to a deceivingly sweet and flavorful dish.

Since his first experience with three bean salad he's bragged about it to friends, complimented my techniques, and put in requests for it. I never in a million years would have thought Three Bean Salad would have been his favorite... go figure! For those of you that have yet to try this side dish I highly recommend you do... you won't regret it!

Here's a copy of my families recipe in case your interested in trying this hidden gem!

Three Bean Salad
Serves: 6
(Printable Recipe)

1/2 pound green beans, trimmed, cut in half crosswise
1/2 pound wax beans, trimmed cut in half crosswise
One 15-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed, and drained
1/2 small red onion, minced, soaked in cold water for 5 minutes and drained
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced flat-leaf parsley

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Set up a large bowl of ice water. Add the
fresh beans to the boiling water, and cook until crisp-tender, about 4 to 5 minutes. Drain and plunge the beans into the ice water to stop the cooking and set their color.

In a medium bowl, combine the beans. In a small saucepan, bring the sugar, vinegar, oil, and salt to a simmer. Pour the liquid over the beans. Marinate the beans at room temperature for 1 hour, tossing several times. If you have the time, allow to marinate overnight for best results. Just before serving, add the diced onion, parsley, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve and enjoy! (This dish is best the next day)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Summer Vegetable Frittata

I recently was asked by my good friend, Liz, to feature a guest post on her successful blog Blog is the New Black. I racked my brain for a recipe that would inspire her fit and healthy readers. I came to the decision that my Summer Vegetable Frittata and my Chocolate Covered Bananas would be a perfect fit!

Before I begin with the recipe, let me start off by explaining how I know Liz. We met in college our freshman year and I am forever indebted to her for playing cupid and introducing me to my husband. Not only was she a matchmaker back then, she was also the life of the party. When Liz was around you could always count on a camera in one hand and a party straw in the other. She was the queen of AIM... if we had facebook, she would have crushed it hard! So its only appropriate that Liz have her very own blog to entertain the virtual world like she did our college campus back in the day!

Since our college years we've stepped into some grown up shoes with new responsibilities like cooking for our boyfriends/husbands, entertaining, and getting through our 9-5 jobs with the help of a good routine. I've found Liz's blog, while hysterical and entertaining, to also be full of helpful and useful tips as well as delicious recipes that have already made there way to my recipe collection.

A complimenting dish to her quickly growing recipe collection is my Summer Vegetable Frittata. My sister originally found it on the blog, www.fresh365online.com and recently made it for a family dinner. The blog called it Baked Summer Tomatoes, but with a few subtle changes I think a more appropriate name is "Summer Vegetable Frittata".

This dish is so delicious- after trying my first bite I couldn't stop listing everything that "made" the dish. The fusion of flavors are indescribable. Each vegetable adds the perfect balance, the feta provides the umph the recipe would lack without it, the balsamic glazed shallots adds an unexpected sweetness, and the egg frittata holds it together to create a beautiful presentation! I could go on forever... but i won't!

Here's how to make this refreshing, delicious, and healthy summer accompaniment to any summer BBQ spread. I hope you enjoy it!

How to begin...
Start by lightly greasing a cast iron skillet. Dice the ciabatta bread into 1/2" cubes and spread on the bottom of the skillet. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat.

Spread spinach and half of the beaten eggs.

Layer with mixed zucchini, then spread whole basil leaves over the zucchini, and spread the remaining beaten eggs.

Finish with a layer of sliced tomatoes, sprinkle with the sliced basil, and complete it with 1 cup of feta cheese. Bake at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until cheese begins to brown, eggs are cooked, and tomatoes appear softened.

While the frittata is baking, slice 3 shallots into long thin pieces. Warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat and saute for about 5 minutes. Then add 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and 1 teaspoon of sugar. Continue to saute at medium-low heat for an additional 5 minutes- be careful not to burn the balsamic glaze. Once the frittata is out of the oven, top with the shallots and serve!

Summer Vegetable Frittata

Adapted From www.Fresh365online.com
serves 6

(Printable Recipe)


2 cups cubed ciabatta bread (1/2" cubes)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups packed spinach
6 eggs, beaten together
1 yellow zucchini, chopped
1 green zucchini, chopped
2 large tomatoes, sliced
1 cup whole basil leaves
1 cup basil, thinly sliced
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 medium shallots, sliced thin
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar


Preheat oven to 400F. Lightly grease the cast iron skillet. Cut bread into 1/2 inch cubes and spread on the bottom of the skillet. Toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Top with 2 cups of spinach and spread half of the beaten eggs. Season with a few pinches of salt and pepper. Then lay the mixed zucchini, 1 cup of whole basil leaves and top with the remaining beaten eggs. Finish by laying the sliced tomatoes, 1 cup of shredded basil, and top with 1 cup feta cheese. Transfer dish to oven and cook 30-40 minutes, until eggs are set, cheese begins to brown, and tomatoes appear softened.

While casserole is baking, make the fried shallots. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add shallots and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar and 1 teaspoon of sugar over medium-low heat. Continue to cook 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove dish from oven, and top with shallots. Let cool for 10 minutes and serve!