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.

SaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSave

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!

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.

SaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSave

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.

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.

SaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSave

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.

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.

Whipped Basil Feta & Cherry Tomato Toast

TOAST 2

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Oh, how I love summer vegetables! Lately, I don’t even want to think about eating meat. All I can think about are bountiful, beautiful summer vegetables and fruits. All the heirloom, cherry and grape tomatoes. All the basil (a real obsession… good thing it grows like a weed). I’m especially in the mood for light meals for lunch. Open-faced toasts are super popular today. You are familiar with the avocado toast revolution. You’ve seen the avocado rose break the internet. A nice change from all the avo are cherry tomatoes: plump, juicy and full of flavor. I picked up feta at the grocery store today for a salad I’m making later in the week. Looking through my fridge, I decided to, quite literally, whip together the feta with a little Greek yogurt. Seasoned with salt, pepper and a little onion powder. I folded in fresh basil because I simply cannot get enough of it! A rough chop releases all the herb oils, getting all that flavor into the cheese mixture. I like to be heavy on the salt and pepper. Under seasoning is a sin.

Check out your local farmers market and bring along a big basket! I’ll be stocking up on all the summer fruits and vegetables this weekend. Also pick up a big loaf of Ciabatta or Sourdough. Or, try this spread on smaller crostini for a party starter. Don’t worry– the avocado rose won’t mind taking the back seat this time. Go on and get toasty!

TOAST

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Yields: 4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 4 slices of Ciabatta or Sourdough bread
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • 8 oz crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup greek yogurt
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 10-12 cherry tomatos, sliced
  1. Drizzle olive oil on toast slices. Toast in toaster oven until golden brown. Set aside to cool.
  2. In a stand mixer or hand mixer, whip feta and yogurt on medium speed for 2 minutes until fluffy. Season with onion powder, salt and pepper. Whip for an additional 1 minute until incorporated. Fold in chopped basil.
  3. Spread feta mixture evenly on 4 slices of toast. Slice cherry tomatoes and distribute evenly on top of toast. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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!

1

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

2

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

3

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.