Pumpkin Mascarpone Parfaits

I was walking through a department store yesterday and passed a girl wearing a shirt that read “BUT FIRST, PUMPKIN SPICE.” We giggle, but let’s get real: we all feel this way. At least a little. Admit it!

Tis the season for everything pumpkin. I fully embrace it. This is one of my favorite seasonal recipes I shot for Genius Kitchen last year. It’s everything you love about pumpkin pie, in a glass!

Serves 12

  • Two 15-oz cans organic pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups mascarpone cheese
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups crushed Biscoff cookies*
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the pumpkin puree with the spices, salt, 2 cups of the mascarpone and 1 1/2 cups of the powdered sugar until thick and creamy.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat the heavy cream with the remaining mascarpone and 1 cup of powdered sugar until soft peaks form.
  3. Spoon half of the pumpkin mixture into 12 glasses and top with half of the mascarpone mixture and half of the crushed cookies. Repeat the layering process. Refrigerate the parfaits for 1 hour. Top with more cookie crumbs and a whole cookie before serving.

*If you can’t find Biscoff, use graham crackers!

Recipe adapted from Food & Wine. Photos by Ashley Cuoco for Genius Kitchen.

Shrimp Tacos with Avocado Crema

Here’s the next round of tacos for #nationaltacoday with Sur la Table! I could not get enough of these. The shrimp is cooked with chipotle in adobo, one of my favorite flavors on the planet. It’s smoky, a little spicy and insanely good. Pair that with a cool and crunchy slaw, avocado cream, cilantro and lime juice? This is my ideal taco. Get your friends together and make a batch of these to celebrate! It’ll be messy, but it’s gonna be worth it.

Makes 4 servings

Slaw:

  • 2 cups finely shredded red cabbage
  • 1/2 cup peeled and shredded carrot
  • 1 medium jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Avocado Lime Crema:

  • 1 medium avocado, peeled and pitted
  • 1/3 cup Mexican crema
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Shrimp:

  • 1 lb medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon chipotle paste (the adobo sauce that comes in cans, or pureed chipotle peppers)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice

For Serving:

  • 8 corn tortillas
  • 1 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges
  • 1 bunch radishes, sliced thin
  1. To make the slaw: In a large mixing bowl, toss all slaw ingredients together. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  2. Avocado crema: Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Blend into a smooth sauce, taste and adjust seasonings with salt. Transfer to a small bowl, set aside.
  3. For the shrimp: Preheat pan on medium-high heat. In a medium bowl, toss the shrimp with the oil, chipotle paste and lime juice. Season shrimp with salt and pepper. Cook the shrimp tossing in the pan for about 1 to 2 minutes per side.
  4. To serve: Fill each warm tortilla with grilled shrimp, a small amount of slaw, lime crema, and cilantro leaves. Serve with lime wedges and remaining slaw on the side.

Recipe courtesy of Sur la Table, by Joel Gamoran, Sur La Table National Chef.

 

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Baja Fish Tacos

Earlier this month I flew into San Francisco for a food photography workshop with Bella of @ful.filled and Sarah of @bromabakery in Napa Valley. It was everything I’d hoped for and more, so much so that I’ll need to devote a special post to the experience! Before flying home, we stopped at a little taco place called Tacko. We had perfect grilled fish tacos and guacamole. Everything I crave about tacos, these tacos delivered. So there I am, enjoying tacos on a sunny day, when my friends at Sur la Table ask me to photograph a few of their taco recipes for #nationaltacoday! I mean, was anything more meant to be? With taco in hand, I said yes (obviously) and today I’m sharing the recipe for their Baja fish tacos. It doesn’t get more California then this right here! Don’t skimp on the lime wedges. And slather on the avocado sauce. It’s non-optional. Let’s go!

Makes 10 tacos

  • 2 Hass avocados –halved, pitted and peeled
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 1 small jalapeño, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons minced red onion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 5 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 small head of green cabbage, finely shredded (4 cups)
  • vegetable oil for brushing on the fish
  • 2 pounds thick red snapper fillets with skin, cut crosswise into ten 2-inch-wide strips
  • Ten 7-inch flour tortillas, warmed
  • 2 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • Hot sauce, for serving
  • Lime wedges, for serving
  1. Light a grill or heat a grill pan over medium-high heat.
  2. In a medium bowl, mash the avocados, sour cream, jalapeño, red onion, cilantro and 3 tablespoons of the lime juice. Season the guacamole with salt and pepper and press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the guacamole.
  3. In a large bowl, toss the cabbage with the remaining 2 tablespoons of lime juice. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Brush the fish with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill over moderately high heat until lightly charred and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Transfer the fish to a platter and pull off the skin.
  5. To assemble each taco, spread a dollop of guacamole on a tortilla. Top with a piece of fish, a few tomato slices and a large spoonful of the cabbage slaw. Serve with the hot sauce and lime wedges.

Recipe courtesy of Sur la Table. Tested and perfected in the Sur la Table kitchen.

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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.