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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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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Summer Cheese Board

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Happy Memorial Day! I’d like to tell you I’m currently lounging in the pool, sipping on a cold drink atop a float in the shape of a pineapple…but that simply would not be true.

I hope you are getting your fix of R&R this weekend. Believe it or not, my favorite thing to do with some extra time off is clean. Organize and clean. De-cludder, de-stress. They go hand in hand. Ever since I read Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I’ve felt an urge to purge. To rid myself of the unnecessary “stuff.” I’ve always loved purging, but this book gave me a whole new outlook on it. Things I had been hoarding became easier to say goodbye to. It became more simple to let go of the things that did not bring me real joy. Organized home, organized life!

I’ve decided to curate a cheese board each season, starting with summer. Memorial Day, the un-offical official start! I could eat cheese and charcuterie every single night for dinner. It just never gets boring. Why? Because there are endless combinations and configurations and ways to make each bite different and exciting. Textures and flavors, salty and sweet, soft and crunchy. There are countless ways to adapt to your tastes, offering a new experience with each little pick and taste.

For the summer edition, I centered everything around a cheese I recently discovered: French Brie with Garlic & Herbs. Brie is wonderful all on its own. The addition of the dried herbs takes it to level 2, with new depth and freshness that wasn’t there before. Creamy and dreamy. From there, I selected an assortment of fruits, nuts, and meats that say summer to me. I can personally guarantee that if you show up to any gathering with this in toe (don’t forget a bottle of Riesling, chilled) you will be the instant life of the party. No questions asked. Get on it!

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

  • Fresh burrata
  • French brie with garlic & herbs
  • Extra sharp cheddar
  • Black pepper salami
  • Prosciutto di Parma
  • Dried apricots
  • Red grapes
  • Blackberries
  • Sesame breadsticks
  • Black pepper water crackers
  • Parmesan crips
  • Walnuts
  1. Leave cheese and meats out at room temperature for 30 minutes prior to board assembly.
  2. Arrange cheeses, meats and remaining ingredients as you see fit. There is no wrong or right way in my book! Place things next to each other that you want your guest to experience together.
  3. Pair with chilled Riesling.

Parsley Pesto

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

I feel like a million bucks!

I decided I need to start drinking more water this year. I’ve known for a long time I’ve been dehydrated. This time of year last winter, my skin felt like a shriveled up prune. I would go at least 8 hours without drinking more than a 16 oz water bottle. I’m terrible at remembering to drink during the day. So I thought to myself: there must be an app for that.

I downloaded the My Water app (get it here) and I’ve been going 5 day strong! The app works in conjunction with Apple Health, taking your age and weight into account. It gives you a goal amount of fluid ounces for each day. Most agree you should drink half your body weight in ounces per day. The app keeps track of how much you’ve had and reminds you when to stop and take some gulps. I’m so proud of myself! I notice already that I have more energy and I’m not as fatigued during the day. Way to go, H20.

Over the weekend I made this killer pesto recipe for Food.com. The original recipe is for vegan pesto. I threw in a little parmesan/pecorino blend because I adore cheese. But, cheese aside,  this recipe holds its own. I picked up this pretty imported bow tie pasta from a local Italian shop. I am in love with the bold, garlic-y, nutty flavor and texture of pesto. If you’ve got some sad looking herbs in your refrigerator, break out the food processor! Vegans, rejoice!

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

Yield: 2 cups pesto

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 2 garlic gloves
  • 3 cups fresh parsley (or basil)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt*
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin cold-pressed olive oil

*if you’re going to add in parmesan or pecorino cheese, omit the salt. These cheeses are salty enough on their own, for my taste.

  1. In a small saucepan, toast pine nuts over medium-low heat until slightly brown. Toss around in pan to get even coloring.
  2. In food processor, add pine nuts, herbs, salt and pepper and blend well.  Slowly drizzle in oil and pulse until smooth. Add more olive oil if needed.
  3. Toss well with your favorite pasta. Choose one like bow ties with little pockets to hold all that good pesto. Also enjoy spread over crispy crostini or eggs!
  4. If not using immediately, store in the refrigerator with a little olive oil over the top to keep from browning.

Recipe adapted from Food.com

Stuffed Mushrooms

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

These are a staple on my family’s table. Mushrooms have that wonderful earthy, deep flavor. Organic white caps are perfect for stuffing. I love a good drizzle of olive oil and a light stuff with cheese, breadcrumbs and fresh herbs. The more cheese, the merrier. Roasted nice and long so that the cheese and crumbs become crispy and golden brown. You can’t have just one.

When it comes to stuffed mushrooms, I like to keep it simple. I’m not into stuffing with crab or extra fluff. Let the mushroom shine. They’ll steal the show.

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

Servings: 24 mushrooms

Ingredients:

  • 24 large mushrooms
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese (I prefer a 50% parmesan, 50% pecorino blend)
  • 1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated mozzarella for topping
  1. Clean mushrooms under running water to remove all dirt. Carefully remove stems from mushrooms and chop stems.
  2. In a medium skillet, melt butter and add garlic. Add chopped mushroom stems and saute until lightly brown. Add parsley stir, and remove from heat.
  3. Add cheese and stir to combine. Add bread crumbs, stirring until mixture is crumbly.
  4. Lightly fill each mushroom cap with the sauteed mixture, but don’t pack too tightly.
  5. Set on a rimmed cookie sheet lined with foil and bake in a preheated oven at 400F degrees for about 24 minutes (if they’re smaller caps, check them after 20 minutes).

Recipe adapted from Food.com

Summer Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette

4Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

One of the best things about summer is seasonal produce. Bountiful fruits and vegetables at farmers markets. Dinners made simple and easy. I love the idea of a big, filling salad that fills you up in the best possible way. Satisfying and nourishing. I crave a vinegar-y, bright plate of greens. Sometimes it’s nice to cut the meat and hoard all the beautiful vegetables! Try this salad with other things like sliced avocado or walnuts. Or swap the kale for your favorite green. Gather outside and enjoy this plate while the sun’s going down. Summer nights are calling!

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Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Total Time: 40 mins — Serves: 6 — Yields: 1-3/4 cups vinaigrette

Vinaigrette Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp Organic Mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 3-1/2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 garlic scape
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Salad Ingredients:

  • 1 large bunch kale
  • 2 cups baby arugula
  • 8 garlic scapes, blanched and shocked in ice water
  • 1/4 cup sliced radishes
  • 1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 small cucumber, thinly sliced
  • small bunch thin asparagus spears, cut into 3-inch tips
  • 1/4 cup snap peas, trimmed
  • salt and pepper
  • basil for garnish
  1. To make the vinaigrette, combine the mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, garlic scape and shallot in a food processor and 2 Tbsp of water. With the processor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until incorporated. Add 1-2 Tbsp of water if a thinner vinaigrette is preferred. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. To blanch the garlic scapes, bring a pot of water to a boil and drop in garlic scapes. Boil for 1 minute and remove with a slotted spoon. Immediately place into a bowl of ice water. This will “shock” the scapes, preserving their bright green color and mellow out the strong flavor. To assemble the salad, toss the kale, arugula, garlic scapes, radishes, tomatoes, cucumber, asparagus tips, and snap peas in a large bowl. Toss with dressing or serve on the side. Garnish with basil leaves and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Crispy Baked Chicken Wings

FullSizeRender-2Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Prep Time: 15 mins — Total Time: 35 mins — Serves: 8

Summer’s officially here! And with it, an increase in outdoor cooking, grilling, and chilling.

My husband and I live in an upstairs apartment, so… no grill for us! But I love our gas oven. Leave it to the oven to make something super crispy. We were in the mood for flavor-packed, tender chicken wings. We devoured these in minutes. For this recipe, I got a little help from the expert: Emeril. I can tell you this is my go-to recipe from now on! Fire up the, er, oven– and invite all your friends over! This pairs perfectly with a tasty arugula salad and baked sweet potato fries.

Ingredients:

  • 4 lbs organic chicken wings
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (juice of 2 lemons)
  • 1 Tbsp ground pepper
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil. In a large bowl, toss chicken wings with lemon juice. Add pepper, garlic and onion powders, and salt. Add thyme, crushing it between your fingers as you go. Add cayenne and melted butter. Stir mixture thoroughly, then arrange wings in one layer on baking sheet.
  2. Cook 20 minutes, then rotate sheet and flip wings. Cook until wings are browned and cooked through, 10 minutes. Glaze or serve with your favorite dipping sauce. I chose BBQ!

 

Recipe courtesy of Emeril Lagasse.

Roasted Mushroom and Kale Pizzettes

5Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

I was feeling under the weather today and took full advantage of my day at home. While I should have taken the opportunity to clean my apartment, I proceeded to make more messes in the kitchen. But remember: behind every messy kitchen and filled sink is an incredible dish or two (or three). I realize now more than ever that the kitchen is my favorite place to be.

Today I graduated from my old camera, a Fujifilm I had in college, to a shiny, new, sparkly (did I say already say shiny?) amazing, professional, Canon 6D and a 50mm lens! I did the happy dance all over the house today. I’d been hoping and praying to be able to upgrade this summer. When an exciting food photography job came my way, I decided it was time to step up the game. If I was holding a glass of champagne, I would say, “Here’s to the future of Cuoco Contento and may it be utterly delicious!” I wish happy cooking for everyone.

I’ve been a huge Giada De Laurentiis fan for a while now. I’ve never seen a girl more enthusiastic about cooking, never mind  a girl with such a killer smile. She is one energetic, passionate, and needless to say, happy, chef. She released her book Happy Cooking late last year and I pre-ordered it. It’s filled with all the kinds of things that make me swoon: pastas, soups, healthy snacks, party drinks and little hors d’oeuvres that make you want to drop what you’re doing and host a dinner party. I love the Italian in her and it always shines through her dishes. I’ve had my eye on a few of her recipes that I finally decided to tackle this week. We begin with these darling little things: roasted mushroom pizzettes (just a cute word for tiny pizza!) topped with mozzarella, roasted button mushrooms, ribbons of kale, and blue cheese. Giada’s recipe calls for gorgonzola but I had blue on hand. And if you’re a fan of blue like me, it’s t-a-s-t-y. I could hardly wait for these to cool before I ate three in a row. They’re small so who’s counting, right? These are so great for summer parties or game day eats. Add a little sophistication to the wings and guac table. Follow along with me this week as we delve into three flavor-packed recipes from Giada!

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Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

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Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

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Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

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Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

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Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

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Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz button mushrooms, de-stemmed, washed and sliced
  • 1 tsp olive oil plus more for drizzling
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 ball store-bought pizza dough (12-16 oz)
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1 small bunch kale, ribs removed, leaves sliced into ribbons
  • 2 oz blue cheese (or gorgonzola) crumbled
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss mushrooms with olive oil and salt on a parchment-lined sheet pan and roast for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Set aside.
  2. Roll out your pizza dough to 1/4″ thickness. Using a 3″ round cookie cutter (or drinking glass) and transfer pizza circles to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush the circles lightly with olive oil. Top each with a teaspoon of mozzarella, a little mushroom, kale and sprinkle of blue cheese. Drizzle a little more olive oil over each. Bake until bubbly and golden, about 10-15 minutes depending on your oven. Serve immediately.

Recipe/adaptation courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis.

Roasted Asparagus and Garlic Soup

7Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

It’s been extra spring-y lately. All I want to do is lay in the grass and nap in the sun, half in-half out of consciousness style. I find myself craving spring vegetables like asparagus. The asparagus and garlic combo is so tasty! Crack a generous amount of pepper and top with parsley. Restaurant worthy? Yes!

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds asparagus, tips trimmed
  • 10 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • 3 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 cup milk (replace with broth for dairy-free version)
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped parsley
  • cracked pepper and chopped parsley, for garnish
  1. Preheat your oven to 450F. Toss asparagus and smashed garlic with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange asparagus on prepared baking sheet over parchment paper in a single layer. Roast for 12 minutes, stirring half way through.
  2. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. Transfer asparagus and garlic to a blender. Add broth and milk, blending until smooth. Work in batches if necessary. Transfer soup to a soup pot and warm over medium-high heat. Thin with more broth if desired. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add finely chopped parsley and stir though. Enjoy!

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All Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Roasted Artichoke with Garlic Cloves

8Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

I’ve always stared at artichokes in the produce aisle with the blank look of confusion. Giant leafy green thing. I didn’t grow up eating them but this weekend I decided to give it a try. After a generous squeeze of lemon, drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper and a nest of 4 garlic cloves, this little guy roasted in the oven for 60 minutes. It came out smelling so fragrant and savory. When it cooled slightly I peeled away at the outer layers and made it to the center, where the layers were super tender and saturated in that unbelievable garlic-y goodness. Extremely tasty! Don’t be intimidated.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large artichoke
  • 1/2 lemon
  • salt and freshly cracked pepper
  • 1 Tbsp cold pressed olive oil
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut off the bottom stem of the artichoke and the top 1/3 off. Using a small knife, hollow out and discard the inner center leaves.
  2. Spread out the leaves as much as possible and drizzle with the juice of half a lemon and olive oil. Make sure it gets in all those layers! Season generously with salt and pepper. Don’t be shy.
  3. Nestle the peeled garlic cloves in the hollow center. Wrap the artichoke tightly in aluminum foil and roast for 60-65 minutes until very tender. Pull apart those leaves and devour! Eat the garlic, too.

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4369All Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco