Brown Butter Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

5Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Have you ever made brown butter before? Well…you might want to try it tonight. Blizzard 2016 is in full swing on Long Island. Everyone is hunkered down in their homes, relaxing and enjoying time with family. Make them happy tonight and break out the butter!! To make brown butter, aka “beurre noisette,” you start by melting butter over medium heat. Swirl the butter around in the pan often to be sure it is cooking evenly. As it melts, the butter will begin to foam. The color will change from yellow to golden to a warm brown. Once it smells nutty, take it off the heat and transfer to a heat-safe bowl to cool. (Technique courtesy of The Kitchn, www.thekitchn.com). That’s it! Now imagine pouring this hot, golden butter on top of butternut squash before you roast it. You can’t even imagine how incredible the kitchen will smell during that 45 minutes. When it comes out of the oven all tender, you’re more than half way to this creamy, divine soup. I ate it for lunch three days straight…some of my coworkers may have been jealous.


Prep time: 20 minutes — Cook time: 45 minutes to 1 hr — Total time: 1 hr 20 minutes

Soup Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1/4 cup diced celery
  • 1/4 cup diced carrot
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • About 4 cups chicken stock or canned low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups Roasted Winter Squash recipe (See ingredients below)
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half, optional

Roasted Squash Ingredients:

  • About 3 pounds butternut squash (preferably 1 large squash)
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage leaves (Substitute dried sage if you need to)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons Toasted Spice Rub (See ingredients below)

Toasted Spice Rub Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup (1-ounce) chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

Okay: here we go! Don’t be alarmed by the lengthy ingredient list above. There are just a few extra steps in making this soup turn into liquid gold! First, we start by mixing the spices for the toasted spice rub. Toasting them releases their oils and makes them more fragrant. It also adds another layer of flavor.

Toast the fennel seeds, coriander seeds, and peppercorns a small pan over medium heat. When the fennel turns light brown, work quickly. Turn on the exhaust fan, add the red pepper flakes and toss, continually. Immediately turn the spice mixture out onto a plate to cool. Put mixture into a blender with the chili powder, salt, and cinnamon and blend until the spices are evenly ground. Pour into a bowl and toss with the remaining ingredients. Keep the spice mix in a glass jar in a cool, dry place, or freeze.3Next, we roast the squash. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Peel the squash with a vegetable peeler. Halve lengthwise, discard the seeds, then cut into 1-inch dice. Place in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper.

Heat the butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. When the butter stops foaming and has turned a light brown, pull the pan off the heat and immediately add the sage, sugar, vinegar (stand back so as not to get splattered), maple syrup and 2 teaspoons of the toasted spice rub. Mix well and let simmer over medium-low heat for 2 minutes to let the flavors meld.

Pour the vinegar mixture over the squash and toss well, then transfer to a heavy rimmed baking sheet large enough to hold the squash in a single layer. Place in the oven and roast, tossing at least once, until very tender and caramelized, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Set aside until cool enough to handle but still warm, so the liquids are runny. Working in batches, if necessary, transfer the warm squash and all the cooking liquids to a food processor (I love my Nutri Bullet for this) and process until smooth. Use immediately, refrigerate for up to 5 days, or freeze for up to 2 months. Yields 2 cups puree.

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Next we go forth with soup! Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until hot. Add the onion, celery, carrot, cinnamon stick and sauté until soft but not brown, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Simmer for several minutes. Stir in the squash until smooth, then simmer gently to let the flavors meld, about 10 minutes. Discard the cinnamon stick. (Make sure you discard… I almost forgot).

Puree the soup in a blender until smooth. (The soup can be made ahead to this point, cooled, covered, and refrigerated for several days or frozen for about 1 month. It will thicken as it cools and may need thinning with stock or water when reheating.)

Return the soup to the pan and reheat gently. Add the half-and-half. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Keep warm until served. Garnish with roasted pumpkin or sunflower seeds. Enjoy!

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All photo credit: Ashley Cuoco

Recipe adapted from Michael Chiarello, www.foodnetwork.com

Chestnut Soup with Cognac Cream

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…” Nat King Cole says it best (or should I say, sings it best). I grew up listening to these Christmas words among others sung by the voices of Ella Fitzgerald, Bing Crosby and Johnny Mathis. When I close my eyes, I can still see the familiar scene: It’s evening. The light is dim and my mother is tidying up the kitchen. My father hasn’t returned from work yet. I’m in the living room, watching and listening. The tree is a-glow. Not a light, bow or berry our of place. They know that Santa’s on his way, he’s loaded lots of toys and goodies on his sleigh. So calm and so serene. This is Christmastime.

Although I didn’t grow up eating chestnuts, since I’ve been with my husband I’ve eaten them every Christmas Eve. His family roasts them and eats them warm. It’s a real treat, so soft and flavorful. Recently, a good friend of mine shared this recipe with me: chestnut soup. It sounded unreal… I love soups. And to boot, a cognac cream on top. Hello! This recipe comes from Bon Appetit magazine, from many years ago. It makes a perfect starter to your Christmas meal. I bought whole chestnuts so I could get the full experience. To save on time, you have the option of getting vacuum packed, ready-pealed nuts. Either way, this one is worth the effort! Merry Christmas, everyone!

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All Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco


Yields: 4 servings

Ingredients for Soup:

  • 2 Tbsp (1/4 stick) butter
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 small carrot, chopped
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp minced fresh thyme or 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups boiled chestnuts* (see instructions below for cooking) or 2 cups vacuum-packed chestnuts (about 10 oz), halved

Ingredients for Cognac cream:

  • 1/4 cup whipping cream
  • 2 tsp Cognac
  • pinch of salt
  1. To boil chestnuts (1 lb nuts will make about the 2 cups you’ll need): using a sharp, small knife, cut an X in each chestnut. Cook chestnuts in a large pot of boiling water until just tender, about 15 minutes. Transfer the nuts to work surface. Remove hard shell and papery brown skin while chestnuts are still warm.
  2. Melt butter with oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add celery, carrot, onion and thyme and sauté until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Add broth and chestnuts. Cover partially and simmer until chestnuts are very tender, about 30 minutes.
  3. Puree soup in batches in a blender. Season to taste with salt and pepper. This can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.
  4. To make cream, whisk whipping cream, cognac and pinch of salt in a medium bowl until thickened but not stiff. Bring soup to a simmer over low heat. Ladle into bowls. Swirl spoonful of Cognac cream into each bowl and serve. Enjoy!

Recipe courtesy of Bon Appetit Magazine.

Kale + Chickpea Hummus Salad

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Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Since I’ve been married (it’s already been a year and a half!) I’ve been watching Food Network on television almost solely. So I’m now quite familiar with Bobby, Alex, Scott, Ted, Giada and the bunch of them. I even got to meet a few of them in New York recently which was surreal!! Love them all. When I heard about Giada de Laurentiis’s new cookbook Happy Cooking, I knew I had to get it. She is a little Italian powerhouse. And not to mention that blinding, beautiful smile! This tasty, hardy salad is in her new book. It may look simple, and that’s because it is! Simple yet full of good-for-you ingredients and flavor. It’s basically a hummus vinaigrette coated onto fresh kale and chickpeas. It takes less than 10 minutes to whip up. Not only is it quick, but it’s seriously satisfying for a salad. Don’t let these greens fool you! And, my favorite part: make it one day and have leftovers for lunch the next day. Kale holds up really well in the refrigerator, making it ideal for this. Get your healthy on and get Giada’s new book!


Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons tahini
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 5 cups shredded kale
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 (15-ounce) can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • ¼ cup slivered sun-dried tomatoes (optional)
  • Za’atar (optional, see note below)
  1. Warm a small sauté pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil and the sliced garlic and cook just until the garlic is fragrant. Allow to cool slightly.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the tahini and lemon juice. Slowly add the warmed garlic oil, whisking constantly. Add the kale, salt, chickpeas, and sun-dried tomatoes, if using, and gently toss together, bringing the dressing up from the bottom to coat everything evenly.
  3. Serve, sprinkled with za’atar*, if desired.

Notes: Za’atar is a popular Middle Easter spice blend. It’s a mixture of herbs (basil, thyme, oregano) sesame and salt. You can also buy it here.

Recipe courtesy of Giada de Laurentiis, Happy Cooking, 2015.

1Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Spaghetti with Radish-Greens Pesto

3Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

I must admit: I am a pesto newbie. This was my first shot at it. And, I did not grow up eating it so I didn’t know what to expect as far as taste and texture. Being mostly Italian, I knew it had to be good…a little crunch, a lot of flavor! This autumn version is perfect. Who knew you could eat the greens of a radish? Not me. According to Food & Wine, you can also use beet or turnip greens, or even arugula for a similar outcome (I love arugula, have to try that one next). I was so pleasantly surprised by the final product. It was much less bitter and much more flavorful than I expected. I think the parmesan and the lemon are to thank. My favorite part is getting use of the entire vegetable– no waste! All combined, and topped with crushed pumpkin seeds, this pasta is sure to please this Thanksgiving. We’re almost there!!

Yield: 4 servings — Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • Greens from 1 big bunch of radishes (8 loosely packed cups), chopped
  • 1/4 cup parsley leaves
  • 3/4 cup roasted salted pumpkin seeds (3 ounces), plus more for garnish
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for garnish
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • 12 ounces spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  1. In a food processor, combine the garlic, greens, parsley leaves and the 3/4 cup of pumpkin seeds; pulse until finely chopped. With the machine on, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Stir in the 1 cup of cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. In a pot of salted boiling water, cook the spaghetti until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water. Return the pasta to the pot. Add the pesto, lemon juice and 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Season with salt and pepper and toss over low heat until coated, about 2 minutes; add more pasta water if a thinner consistency is desired.
  3. Transfer the pasta to bowls and garnish with pumpkin seeds and cheese. Enjoy!

Recipe courtesy of Food & Wine, www.foodandwine.com

2Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

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Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Potato-Leek soup with Pierogi

1Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Potato soup: humble, comforting and satisfying. For the many reasons you love the soft interior of a good French fry, so you love potato soup. Savory is my kind of soup. The leek and potato combination is a wonderful flavor– full and complete. This was my first time cooking with leek and my impression is that it is really not far from the onion and garlic. Similar flavor and I have seen it described as a more mild version of an onion. Now, take a lovely potato soup and add pierogi, bacon and chives. Woah! First, render the bacon until nice and crunchy. Then take that delicious pan, filled bacon fat goodness and sear the pierogi until golden on both sides. Top at the soup’s center, sprinkle on some chives and there you have it. Beautiful presentation and great flavors. My personal opinion is that this is more of a starter dish than a main course. Or a great lunch item, as I enjoyed earlier today. When the temperature in New York drops to 59 degrees (welcome October!) warm up and try this dish!

Yield: 4 servings — Active time: 35 min — Total time: 40 min

Ingredients:

  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 bunch leeks (white and light green parts only), thinly sliced and rinsed well
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 russet potatoes (about 1 pound), peeled and sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
  • 12 frozen or fresh mini pierogi (or 6 regular size)
  • Chopped fresh chives, for topping
  1. Melt the butter in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the leeks and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the potatoes, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until well coated, about 2 minutes.
  2. Add 3 cups water, the chicken broth and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Cook until the potatoes are very tender, 15 minutes. Discard the bay leaf. Working in 2 or 3 batches, puree the soup in a blender until smooth. Transfer to a clean pot and stir in the cream; season with salt and pepper. Keep warm over low heat.
  3. Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a nonstick skillet over medium heat, stirring, until crisp, about 7 minutes. Transfer to paper towels using a slotted spoon. Add the pierogi to the skillet and cook, flipping halfway through, until golden brown and warmed through, about 5 minutes. Top each serving of soup with pierogi bacon and chives. Enjoy!

Recipe courtesy of Food Network Magazine, 2015.

Country Style Apple Galette

1Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

I have always loved how pretty a galette looks. To me, it’s like half a pie. Or maybe its an open-face pie. However you see it, its a fun alternative to a traditional apple pie. And don’t feel limited to just apples, either. Think about trying this with peaches when in season, figs, a mix of berries or even vegetables for a savory version. Any way you slice it, this pastry is versatile enough to be either a starter or a dessert. My favorite part about this style is that it is great looking in freeform. No need for perfection here. I want to see those organic shapes! Rectangular, circular or something in between. There’s nothing interesting about perfection, right? I mentioned last week when I made apple butter (recipe below) that I was given an obscene amount of apples and thought: how in the world am I going to use all of these? Well, this galette took the last of them. There are about 5 small/medium sized apples layered in here. Apple season is at is peak in New York right now. Take a weekend trip to your local farm and bag up some apples! Don’t forget about the pumpkins… they’re on my farm stand shopping list next week. Get ready, October is just around the corner!


Yield: 8 servings — Total Time: 1 hr 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) plus 2 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/3 cup ice water (must be very cold!)
  • 4-5 Golden delicious or other sweet apple (Gala, Macintosh)
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp honey (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  1. In a food processor, combine the flour with the sugar, salt and butter and process for about 5 seconds. I like to add the butter in a little at a time and process after each time. You just want to coat the butter in the flour, not mix it in. Sprinkle the ice water a little at a time over the flour mixture and process until the pastry just begins to come together, about 10 seconds; you should still be able to see small pieces of butter in it. Transfer the pastry to a work surface, gather it together and pat into a disk. Wrap the pastry in plastic or wax paper and refrigerate until chilled. (You can also roll out the pastry and use it right away.)
  2. Peel, halve and core the apples and slice them crosswise 1/4 inch thick. Set aside the larger center slices and coarsely chop the end slices and any broken ones; about half of the slices should be chopped. Mix in the cinnamon and sugar.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400°. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the pastry to a 12-by-14-inch rectangle or circle and transfer to a large rimmed baking sheet. Spread the chopped apples over the pastry to within 1 inch of the edge. Drizzle the honey over the chopped apples. Decoratively arrange the apple slices on top in concentric circles or in slightly overlapping rows. Dot the top of the apples with the pieces of butter. Fold the pastry edge up and over the apples to create a 1-inch border. Spray the crust with coconut oil or brush with egg wash so it gets nice and golden brown.
  4. Bake the galette for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the pastry is nicely browned and crisp and all of the apples are tender. Transfer the pan to a rack and let the galette cool. Serve warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Food & Wine, www.foodandwine.com, Recipes from Essential Pépin by Jacques Pépin.

2Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Sweet Chile Hot Wings with Blue Cheese Dipping Sauce

1Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

It’s game day: what does everyone crave? Wings of course. Sticky, spicy and altogether succulent. The best part about this recipe is 1. you’re going to let the slow cooker do the work and 2. the meat falls right off the bone! Low and slow, baby. It’s a win/win. You’re happy, your man’s happy and your friends are happy. Broil these little guys at the very end for a crispy skin. If you need to cool down the spice, try this blue cheese dipping sauce. Game on!


Serves: 10-12 — Prep: 10 mins — Cook Time: 3.5-5 hrs

Wing Ingredients:

  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1/4- 1/3 cup sriracha (if you’re not a fan of super spicy, try a medium or mild wing sauce)
  • 4 pounds chicken wingettes and/or drumettes
  • 3 tablespoons roughly chopped cilantro, for garnish

Blue Cheese Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1-2 tablespoons milk
  • 4oz blue cheese crumbles
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a large slow cooker, whisk the soy sauce, honey and sriracha until blended. Add the wings and toss to coat. Press the wings to submerge (add water or chicken broth, if necessary. Cover and cook on high heat until the wings are tender, 3 1/2 to 4 hours. (I chose to cook on LOW for 5 hours. Low and slow makes the meat fall right off the bone).
  2. Preheat the oven to Broil. Using tongs, divide the wings between two foil-lined baking sheets. Broil, turning once, until crispy, 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer the wings to a platter; sprinkle with the cilantro.
  3. For blue cheese sauce, combine the sour cream, mayonnaise, garlic, and lemon juice in a bowl. Add in the milk, one tablespoon at a time until reaching desired consistency. Stir in the blue cheese and season with salt and pepper. Cover and let sit in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

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Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Wing recipe adapted from Rachel Ray, www.rachelraymag.com

Blue Cheese Sauce recipe courtesy of Food & Wine, www.foodandwine.com

Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Sage Brown Butter

3 FINALE!Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

The first time I experienced gnocchi was in Milan. I was 21 years old and I will never forget it: soft, melt-in-your-mouth, savory, comforting to the max. It’s no surprise that the Italians know how to do comfort and hospitality. This restaurant was warm, intimate, and oddly familiar. It was like being at my in-law’s Sunday dinner table. The conversation, the wine and the seemingly endless plates strewn before me and the group. Ever since then, it’s been on my bucket list of things to make at home. I found this seasonal version from Bon Appetit Magazine: Butternut squash gnocchi with a sage brown butter. My jaw dropped! What better way to incorporate the flavors of the cooler months with a traditional homemade pasta. For those of you who enjoy the art of cooking, this recipe is for you. It was about a 3 hour experience that I thoroughly enjoyed. The roasted butternut squash… what a simply delicious gift from God all on its own. When you close your eyes and take a spoonful of this gnocchi, you’ll be instantly transported to that familiar place in your mind: whether it be grandma’s fragrant kitchen or a small trattoria in the heart of Milan.

Ingredients:

  • 1 butternut squash (1 lb)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 12- to 14-ounce russet potato, peeled, quartered
  • 3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1 large egg, beaten to blend
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cups (or more) all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • Additional grated Parmesan cheese

Servings: 6 — Total Time: 3-4 hours

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut squash lengthwise in half; discard seeds. Place squash halves, cut side up, on baking sheet and brush with oil. Roast until squash is very tender when pierced with skewer and browned in spots, about 1 1/2 hours. Cool slightly. Scoop flesh from squash into processor; puree until smooth. Transfer to medium saucepan; stir constantly over medium heat until juices evaporate and puree thickens, about 5 minutes. Cool. Measure 1 cup (packed) squash puree. (*When I pureed my squash, it was already nice and thick. So I skipped the saucepan.)
  2. Meanwhile, cook potato in medium saucepan of boiling salted water until very tender, about 20 minutes. Drain. While potato is warm, press through potato ricer* into medium bowl; cool completely. Measure 2 cups (loosely packed) riced potato.
  3. Mix squash, potato, 1/2 cup Parmesan, egg, nutmeg, and salt in large bowl. Gradually add 1 3/4 cups flour, kneading gently into mixture in bowl until dough holds together and is almost smooth. If dough is very sticky, add more flour by tablespoonfuls. Turn dough out onto floured surface; knead gently but briefly just until smooth. Divide dough into 8 equal pieces.
  4. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment. Sprinkle parchment lightly with flour. Working with 1 dough piece at a time, roll dough out on floured surface to about 1/2-inch-thick rope. Cut rope crosswise into 3/4-inch pieces. Working with 1 piece at a time, roll gnocchi along back of fork tines dipped in flour, making ridges on 1 side. Transfer gnocchi to baking sheets. Repeat with remaining dough. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and chill at least 1 hour**. Can be made 6 hours ahead. Keep chilled.
  5. Working in 2 batches, cook gnocchi in large pot of boiling salted water until very tender, 15 to 17 minutes (gnocchi will float to surface but may come to surface before being fully cooked). Using slotted spoon, transfer gnocchi to same parchment-lined baking sheets. Cool. Can be made 8 hours ahead. Cover loosely and chill.
  6. Cook butter in heavy large skillet over medium heat just until golden, stirring often, 3 to 4 minutes. Add sage; stir 1 minute. Add gnocchi; cook until heated through and coated with butter, 5 to 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan. Serve with additional Parmesan. Enjoy!

Notes: *I don’t have a potato ricer. I used the smallest side of my cheese grater and this worked perfectly.

**To save time, I chilled in the freezer for about 10 minutes while the pot of water was boiling.

Recipe adapted from Bon Apetit Magazine, www.bonappetit.com

1Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

2Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Avocado Hummus

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Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Think about it: here you have the best of hummus and guacamole in a single dish! Creamy avocado adds a little something extra to the already crowd-pleasing hummus. This is the perfect afternoon snack or party starter. I warmed up some fresh naan for this and dug right in!


Yields: About 2 cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 (15 oz) can chick peas, well drained
  • 2 medium ripe avocados, cored and peeled (13 oz before cored and peeled)
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for serving if desired
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp tahini
  • 3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp cumin
  • Red pepper flakes, for topping
  • cilantro leaves, for topping (optional)
  1. Pulse chick peas, olive oil, tahini, lime juice, and garlic in a food processor until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add cumin and avocados and pulse mixture until smooth and creamy, about 1 – 2 minutes longer.
  2. Serve topped with more olive oil if desired and sprinkle with cilantro and red pepper flakes. Serve with naan, pita chips or tortilla chips.

Enjoy!

Recipe courtesy of Cooking Classy.

Crostini with Gruyere and Fig Spread

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Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

For as long as I can remember I have had a fancy (and often times, pricey) palette. I like to think of it as appreciation for the finer things in life. I.e., filet mignon, shrimp cocktail, lobster tail, good sushi, cheese and wine… the list goes on! Something about the thought of a salty, savory gruyere cheese with this sweet fig spread made my mouth tingle. This would be darling as an appetizer for an upcoming holiday party as we enter the cooler months. So classy, delicate and the flavor packs a punch. My suggestion would be to serve with a Sauvignon Blanc, pairing nicely with the fig flavor or Riesling (my personal favorite) which plays so well with the blue cheese crumble. Get a little fancy and wow your guests with this tasty Hors d’oeuvre!


Yields: approx. 12 servings

Ingredients:

  • 12 French baguette slices cut about ¼” thick
  • 1½ cups grated gruyere cheese
  • ¼ cup blue cheese crumbles
  • ⅓ cup fig spread*
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons honey

*I used Dalmatia Dried Fig Spread – Traditional (8.5 ounce) — it is out of this world delicious. You can find it in the specialty cheese section of Whole Foods.

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread baguette slices on a baking sheet fitted with parchment paper. I like to cut my baguette on a bias for more surface area for all the good stuff on top. It also looks pretty!
  2. Top baguette slices with grated cheese, then a teaspoon or so of fig spread, then blue cheese crumbles. I would be generous with the gruyere and lighter on the blue cheese. Depending on your taste, the blue cheese may be too strong and overpower the gruyere. Bake in oven for 5-7 minutes or until cheese has melted and edges of the baguettes are golden. Remove from oven and drizzle with honey and top with rosemary leaves.

That’s it… so simple yet so sophisticated!

Recipe adapted from www.foodiecrush.com