Tortellini with Pumpkin Sage Brown Butter

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

Seasonal mood is in full swing! At least in my mind. Last week I happily put on a new sweater, only to realized it’s still 75 degrees outside. I have no shame. When fall’s in the air, I’m happy and I’m going to show it. All the pumpkin recipes are starting to surface. While there are some things I think we need to keep pumpkin out of (like this…really?) pasta is pumpkin’s partner in this dish. Sage and brown butter have a long time, awesome thing going. Throw them all together with cheese tortellini and Parmesan cheese and you’ve got an addicting pasta dish you’ll want to make all season long!

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 4 fresh sage leaves
  • 1/2 cup organic pumpkin puree
  • 1 lb fresh cheese tortellini
  • 1/2 cup up parmigiano reggiano cheese
  • pinch cinnamon
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp light brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  1. To make the brown butter pumpkin sauce, add butter and sage leaves to a sauté pan over medium heat and swirl butter around in pan until it turns golden brown. A little brown bits are good! Don’t let it burn.
  2. Add the pumpkin puree, cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar, and pepper. Stir and remove from heat.
  3. Cook tortellini in boiling salted water according to package directions, drain, and toss into sauté pan with warm sauce. Stir in parmesan cheese and serve warm.

Recipe adapted from Food.com.

 

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Mizuna Salad with Burrata and Peach Vinaigrette

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

August 31st (my birthday!) marks the end of summer, at least in my own head. But with Labor day approaching, I thought we should hold onto it a bit longer. I was given mizuna, an Asian green typically found in baby lettuce mixes, in my CSA a couple of weeks ago. You can also use arugula, spinach or mixed greens. Get creative with it! I threw in all the things I love: burrata, figs, peaches, prosciutto, basil and mixed it up with a zippy peach vinaigrette. Relax, we’ve still got a few weeks left of Summer!

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Serves 4-6

  • 1 package of mizuna, arugula or other greens of choice
  • 4 slices prosciutto
  • 2 ripe peaches, sliced or diced
  • 4 figs, sliced in halves
  • 1 ball fresh burrata
  • 1 small bunch fresh basil, chopped

For Vinaigrette:

  • 1 ripe peach, peeled and cubed
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  1. Wash and dry your greens. Combine in a large bowl with prosciutto, sliced peaches, figs, and basil. Toss well.
  2. In a small food processor or blender, add peach, vinegar, salt and pepper. Blend until peach is liquified and other ingredients are well combined. On low speed, slowly drizzle in oil until well blended.
  3. Pour vinaigrette over salad and toss well, or serve on the side. Top salad with a generous ball of creamy burrata.

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Spicy Peach Caipirinha Mocktail

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

After a long couple of weeks at my office desk, I cannot express just how good it feels to get back in my kitchen! And I’ve managed to completely tear it up in less than 24 hours. Typical. But, what a beautiful mess it is.

Two years ago on August 17th I stayed up well into the night creating this website. Like most passions of mine, I became a woman on a mission. I started to fall in love, hard, with food photography. I stumbled my way through most of it, and still stumble often (aren’t we always learning?) and today I’m more proud than ever of what’s conspired. Not only in the physical but in my heart. Through the mundane tasks of life, my kitchen, my camera and this blog have been the silver lining– the thing I look forward to each weekend. My sweet escape in it all. I’ve said this before but it’s worth saying again: find what it is that keeps you up at night, the thing that keeps you on your toes: and do it!

In celebration of the 2nd anniversary of Cuoco Contento, I decided to have some fun with peaches. August is also my birthday month, and I always make a peach pie (at least once). There’s nothing quite like a big, juicy peach– one that falls apart in your hand and drips down your arm. Soft and sweet.

I’ve teamed up with the wonderful folks at Health-Ade for a special Anniversary giveaway!! We’re giving one winner a case of their outstanding Kombucha. It’s my absolute favorite, not only by itself but as an alcohol replacement in mocktails. It’s bubbly, fun and good for your gut. If you’re trying to kick the soda habit and need some carbonation, get yourself in on this giveaway! Details are up on my Instagram page! Health-Ade and I want you to #followyourgut, whatever that means to you. Get out there and make it happen.

Today I present to you a happy little anniversary mocktail, made with Healthade’s Ginger Lemon kombucha. A Caipirinha is traditionally made with sugar and lime. Here I’ve replaced the sugar with honey and added some spice. It’s a little sweet, a little spicy, and all together summer.

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Makes 4 drinks

  • 2 very ripe peaches, peeled and skins removed
  • Juice of 4 limes
  • 4 teaspoons honey
  • 8-10 oz Health-Ade Ginger Lemon kombucha
  • 2 limes, cut into wedges
  • 2 jalapeños, sliced
  • ice cubes
  1. Slice peaches (peel those skins!) and place in a blender. I use a NutriBullet. Add lime juice and honey. Mix until well blended.
  2. Prepare 4 chilled glasses with ice cubes. Divide the peach mixture among the glasses. Top with kombucha. Garnish with lime wedges and jalapeños. Spicy and sweet!

Scrappy Pesto, Zucchini & Burrata Pizza

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Scrappy (adjective): to prepare a dish consisting of scraps, i.e. food that typically gets wasted or thrown away. Used in a sentence: “Hey, that’s totally SCRAPPY!”

I am so inspired by the Sur La Table TV show Scraps, (airs 10:30pm EST every Sunday night on FYI), where national chef Joel travels the country conjuring up new, exciting recipes using things that normally get tossed! Think beet greens, shrimp shells, and bruised apples. I’ve mentioned the show before on the blog, but today I tried my hand at a second scrappy recipe! My inspiration? CSA, aka community supported agriculture.

My friend and I went in together on a CSA share in Oyster Bay. So far we’ve gotten a TON of radishes, tri-color salad and arugula. This past week’s share finally had some summer zucchini. I snagged a few extra and decided to highlight them in a dish this weekend. On top of that, our adorable farmer gave me premature carrots with tons of greens on top. I saved them in water in my refrigerator and told myself that I MUST put them to good use! I could hear Joel saying, “save your scraps!”

I’ve tried pesto with other things before, like radish greens, and the results were not nearly as delicious as what I’m about to share with you: carrot top pesto. Leaves only (no stems) and blended with a little olive oil, toasted walnuts, and parmesan cheese. Carrot leaves on their own taste a little bit like carrots. When made into a pesto like this, you get an earthy flavor reminiscent of basil pesto. I was so pleasantly surprised by the flavor. Keep your carrot leaves and you can pat yourself on the back knowing that you saved food from the trash! I prefer walnuts or almonds to pine nuts, but you can absolutely substitute them if you don’t have walnuts on hand. Spread this magic on everything from toasted crostini, fried eggs or pasta. It will keep in the refrigerator for about 2 days.

Watch full episodes of Scraps here!

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Pesto:

  • 1 cup loosely packed carrot tops (leaves only, no stems)
  • 6 tablespoons cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 tablespoons walnuts, toasted
  • 1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano, grated, plus more for sprinkling on top

Pizza:

  • olive oil for greasing
  • 1 ball fresh or frozen pizza dough
  • 1 medium zucchini, sliced thin
  • 1 ball burrata
  • 1 bunch fresh basil
  • Freshly cracked pepper
  • Red pepper flakes
  1. If using frozen pizza dough, remove from freezer the night before using and defrost in the refrigerator. If using fresh dough or when ready to use, let rise at room temperature in a greased, covered bowl for at least 1 hour.
  2. Grease a dark baking sheet with olive oil. Stretch dough out on sheet pan as thin as possible. Preheat oven to 425 F.
  3. To make the pesto, add carrot leaves, olive oil, garlic clove, salt and walnuts to a food processor. Pulse until well combined, about 1 minute. Add in cheese and pulse for an additional 15 seconds.
  4. Spread pesto on to dough evenly. Add zucchini slices. Sprinkle extra parmesan on top and bake for 8 minutes.
  5. Break up the ball of burrata and dollop onto pizza. Bake for an additional 4 minutes until crust is brown and cheese is melted.
  6. Sprinkle with basil, a pinch of pepper and red pepper flakes. Let cool for 5 minutes before cutting.

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Broiled Figs with Goat Cheese

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

Sweet, succulent figs. They have two distinct seasons, as told by Whole Foods:

There are two seasons for domestic fresh figs; the first or “breba” season is the first few weeks in June. The second or “new wood” season typically runs from August through October. The most common variety is the Black Mission fig followed by the Brown Turkey fig and the Green Kadota fig respectivly.

These Black Mission figs are halved, skewered on rosemary sprigs, drizzled with honey, broiled and topped with goat cheese. This is my favorite flavor combo: the sweetness of the fig, the savory rosemary and tangy, salty cheese. You eat these as they fall apart on skewers or serve on top of toasted crostini. I would even crush the fig, getting all that goodness on the crispy bread, and drizzle with extra honey for good measure.

 

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

 

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

 

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

 

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

 

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1/8 cup honey
  • 4 large figs, stems trimmed, halved lengthwise
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 oz goat cheese (I prefer Vermont Creamery Herb goat cheese log)
  • 4 wood skewers
  1. Soak 4 wood skewers in water for 15 minutes.
  2. Twist rosemary stems around skewers and slide fig halves onto skewers, being careful not to break them. Arrange on a baking sheet with the cut side of the figs facing up.
  3. Preheat the broiler to high. Squeeze lemon juice on top of figs. Drizzle each fig with a drop of honey. Broil figs till they are lightly browned and softened, about 2 minutes.
  4. Top each fig with a piece of goat cheese and broil for an additional 2 minutes until melted. Drizzle with extra honey if desired.

Recipe courtesy of Food.com.

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American Berry Swizzle

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

The 4th of July weekend is here! Its shaping up to be a hot one in New York. Cold drinks are a must. Alcohol is optional. I’m all about mocktails these days, for three reasons: one, there is absolutely no limit to how many I can suck down (the limit does not exist). Two, my all-time favorite alcohol substitute is kombucha: not only delicious, but actually GOOD for you. Three, mocktails are just plain trendy now. You don’t need to feel guilty about excluding the prego’s, the underaged or your 85 year old grandpa with health issues. Your gaurenteed to have a killer time when the whole gang’s counted in.

This drink is a “swizzle,” which originates in the Carribean and is traditionally made with rum. Today the name really just refers to the method of mixing: muddling or churning with a swizzle stick. You can swizzle anything you like. Check out this video on the FeedFeed where I demonstrate the swizzle. Celebrate safely and have a happy 4th of July!

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Serves 4

  1. Chill glasses for at least 15 minutes before starting!
  2. Divide mint leaves evenly in 4 glasses. Add a half of the frozen raspberries, blueberries and blackberries. Muddle with the back of a spoon just to break up the juices.
  3. Fill each glass almost to the top with crushed ice. Pour in even amounts of the kombucha, energy drink and blackberry juice.
  4. Using your swizzle stick (or a small bar spoon) hold the stick between the palms of your hands and rotate the stick rapidly by sliding your hands back and forth. Now you’re swizzling!
  5. Garnish with the remaining fruit and serve immediately.

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Coffee Cacao Breakfast Popsicles

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Did you know it’s #PopsicleWeek? Thanks to Billy of @witand vinegar, we all get to join the popsicle party!! One hardly needs a reason. I turned my all-time favorite smoothie into a breakfast pop, using my friends at MUD. Check them out here. They are a 4-ingredient, organic, paleo, vegan dessert with a coconut mouse base, sweetened only with dates, in three amazing flavors: chocolate, vanilla and coffee. I’m addicted. You can eat it frozen or soft (like a mouse) and use in any way you like. I am proof: it’s both breakfast and husband approved.

A big thanks to Billy for organizing all the glory that is #PopsicleWeek!

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Makes 8 popsicles

  • 14 fl. oz. MUD Coffee (Organic Coconut Cream, Organic Coconut Water, Organic Dates, Organic Raw Cashews, Organic Coffee)
  • 1/2 frozen banana, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk (or other nut milk of choice)
  • 1 Tbsp Tahini
  • 1 Tbsp Hemp protein powder
  • Cacao nibs
  1. In a blender, Vitamix or NutriBullet, blend MUD, banana, almond milk, tahini and hemp until well combined. Add a little extra almond milk if mixture becomes too thick to blend.
  2. Pour mixture evenly into popsicle molds. Sprinkle bottoms with cacao nibs.
  3. Let freeze for 15 minutes before placing in popsicle sticks. Freeze overnight or for at least 6 hours before enjoying.

Creamed Beet Greens with Lemon Breadcrumbs

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Have you all been watching Sur La Table’s new show Scraps? If you haven’t, drop whatever you’re doing and head here for full episodes! FYI has partnered with Sur La Table to produce the new series Scraps, where national Sur La Table Chef Joel Gamoran travels cross country creating incredible meals using the things most people throw away: scraps such as bruised apples, shrimp shells and carrot tops. What they’re doing is so creative and inspiring. They’ve taught me to think twice about the things I would normally throw away. You’d be surprised how absolutely delicious something scrappy can be. Save your scraps!

I recently bought beets for a cake recipe. Left over with a bunch of greens, I immediately saw this as an excellent opportunity to get scrappy. I’m a huge fan of creamed spinach. The beet greens and stems have a similar flavor. AND did you know that there’s even more nutrients in the leaves and stems than in the beets? Packed with antioxidants, fiber, zinc, protein, vitamin B6, the list goes on! Paired with a cream sauce and crispy lemon breadcrumbs for crunch, this is a serious keeper recipe. I’m pulling it out the next time I host a dinner party. Scrappy is the new sexy, y’all.

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

 

  • 1/2 cup plain panko bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • salt
  • 2 large bunches beet greens and stems, cut into 1/2″-1″ pieces
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium shallot, diced
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Combine breadcrumbs, oil, and lemon zest on a baking sheet and season with salt. Toast until golden brown, about 5 minutes.
  2. Cook beet green leaves and stems in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 1 minute. Drain and place into a bowl of ice water to cool. Drain well and squeeze well between paper towels to remove excess water.
  3. Heat butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots, beet greens and stems. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add cream and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until thickened, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Top with breadcrumbs just before serving.

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit.

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Spinach & Cherry Tomato Quiche

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

Summer’s here. I checked: a high of 94F in Long Island today. It’s totally official. Never was there ever a better afternoon for an iced coffee!

I checked out a beautiful farm in Eastern Long Island this past weekend. They were up to the brim in plump blueberries, greens, rhubarb and herbs. A lovely reminder that tomato season is soon upon us! Perfect raw, roasted or thrown into a quiche like this. I used cherry tomatoes, but you can use whatever you like. The best part? Throw in whatever you have (the sadder it looks in your fridge, the better) and give it new life in a quiche or frittata. This is my favorite way to use up veggies. All that protein in there makes this dish a triple threat– good for breakfast, lunch and dinner. All summer long.

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

  • 1 package store bought pastry dough or frozen pie shell
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups packed fresh spinach leaves, trimmed and washed
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2/3 cups creme fraiche
  • 1/3 cup grated sharp gruyere cheese
  • 6-10 cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
  • freshly ground pepper
  1. If using frozen pastry, take dough out of the freezer to defrost 2 hours before you’re ready to use it.
  2. Fit the dough into either a 10-inch quiche or springform pan, making sure you have enough dough to form a crust around the edge. Sprinkle the gruyere onto the crust.
  3. In a saucepan, heat the olive oil.  Cook spinach and until wilted, about 5 minutes. Spread the spinach over the cheese.
  4. Beat the eggs, creme fraiche and garlic together. Pour mixture over the spinach and cheese mixture. Slice cherry tomatoes and arrange on top. Sprinkle with chives and black pepper.
  5. Bake at 350 F for 45 minutes.

Recipe adapted from Food.com.

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Pork Chops in Sage Brown Butter

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

Sunday supper: pork chops in a well-loved cast iron pan. I grew up slathering apple sauce on pork chops. That’s still one of my favorite ways to enjoy them! But, there is nothing quite like the smell and savoriness of brown butter. Add in sage and you have a delicious little pan sauce to accompany the chops. Choose bone-in chops for much needed fat and flavor.

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

Serves 6

  • 1/3 cup light soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 Tbsp lemon pepper seasoning (see below)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 bone-in pork loin chops
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 4 sage leaves
  1. In a large bowl, mix soy sauce, oil, water, lemon-pepper seasoning and garlic cloves. Add chops to the marinade and let sit in the refrigerator at least 2 hours (preferably overnight).
  2. Heat the grill or stove top to medium-high heat. Let a cast-iron pan get hot over the flame. It’s ready when it begins to smoke lightly. Cook chops for no more than 15 minutes total time or until done. For chops 3/4″ or thinner, cook 5-6 minutes maximum per side. For chops thicker than 3/4″, grill 6-7 minutes maximum per side. Do not overcook.
  3. In the last 2 minutes of cooking, add butter and sage to the pan. Whisk and allow butter to brown. You’ll know its done when you see tiny brown bits in the butter and the smell is fragrant and nutty.

To make fresh lemon-pepper seasoning, combine the zest of 1 lemon with 1 teaspoon of course ground black pepper.

Recipe adapted from Food.com.