I’m almost hesitant to say this but I believe winter is on it’s way out. I hope I didn’t just jinx it. It’s been a long, COLD unwanted one, and I for one am rejoicing in the prospect of spring and even longing for the dog days of summer, flip flops, top down on my convertible and for my GARDEN. Yes, my glorious garden. We have both raised beds and a large deck container garden and plant as much as we possibly can. I just can’t get enough. There’s something about fresh food you’ve grown yourself. It doesn’t get much better than picking a rip juicy tomato, sprinkling it with salt and popping it into your mouth. Or when they’re coming out of your ears (and they will) to oven roast them and preserve them in olive oil for later. Sweet sweet goodness.
(whispering) Hi my name is Paula and I am a coffee snob. There I said it. I feel so much better. What can I say. It’s true. Everyone knows how much I love coffee. I should clarify, GOOD coffee. I start MOST of my days with a cappuccino or espresso. I need my caffeine. Yes NEED. It’s necessary for the safety of all those around me. I will (with tears) not indulge in my daily dose if the coffee available to me isn’t up to par. Most of the time when I travel, sadly I go without. Although, I will say last week on my way to Houston I was THRILLED when I found a Lavazza kiosk in the Atlanta airport. I almost knocked 3 people over crossing over the freeway walkway to get to it. Nothing shall stand in the way of good coffee right?
One of my favorite flavor combinations in the world is tomatoes, fresh basil and mozzarella cheese. It works. Caprese salad is probably the most recognizable way to enjoy these ingredients but they multi task like nobody’s business. Try them on pizza, in pasta, on toast and yes even in quiche. Quiche is also a workhorse of a dish. What does that mean? It’s good served hot or cold and it’s great for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner. You can’t say that about too many dishes now can you.
Go ahead and get a pencil and paper ready to jot down this ingredient list because you are going to want to make this. I’ve made no less than a dozen of these cheesecakes since December. It probably has a lot to do with why I’m on the treadmill everyday but we’re not going to talk about that. Next to Tiramisu, cheesecake reigns supreme on my dessert list. I just can’t turn a slice down and I’ve tried. While I like all kinds of cheesecake, ricotta cheesecake wins the gold every single time in the cheesecake Olympics. Yes I’m having Olympic withdrawals and I also now believe I can snowboard. If you knew how insanely clumsy I am you’d laugh at the thought.
Looking for a baking mix that you can use to make pancakes, waffles, muffins, biscuits and more with? One that doesn’t come in a box with a lot of ingredients that you can’t pronounce let alone know what they mean without the expert help of google (but don’t google medical conditions it will scare the bleep bleep bleep out of you just trust me, apparently I have many incurable diseases – gasp)? We have a homemade version that dare I say tastes better than any boxed version (in my opinion of course). After lots of testing and tweaking over the years we have a homemade version that we can’t be without. It takes literally 5 minutes tops to mix up and then you simply store it in the refrigerator so it’s ready to go when you are. Time saving, delicious and budget friendly. What more can you ask for? Well besides having someone make it for you.
It’s blood orange season and I’m jumping up and down shaking my jazz hands with excitement. Okay not at this very moment, because really who can jump and type (with accuracy) at the same time. Not me. Have I mentioned I’m incredibly clumsy? There’s something about blood oranges. From their smell to their gorgeous color to the incredible tart flavor. And the fact that you can only get your hands on them for a very limited time is honestly appealing. I take it as a challenge to use as much as possible before they fade to black until next year. So far we’re off to a good start with this brown sugar blood orange glaze.
I’m so in love with the steam assist technology feature on my KitchenAid range. I’ve been blowing off steam for months now and not just vegetables mind you. You can steam everything from cheesecake (which I will be sharing with you SOON and trust me you’re going to want to make that one) to fish (at different times of course because clearly who would want to eat fish and cheesecake at the same time right?). The steam assist technology feature is such a smarty pants it takes ALL the guess work out of figuring out what temperature to steam at or for how long.Because honestly the only time I want to rack my brain with math is if I’m figuring out the % off a shoe sale or when I’m tallying up invoices. Then I’m suddenly a math whiz. Truth.
This post brought to you by Starbucks. Opinions are my own.
Brunch is the perfect easy entertaining scenario. I like brunch because there’s not as much pressure as there would be say hosting a dinner party. Plus there’s COFFEE, lots and lots of COFFEE. Something everyone who knows me knows I’m very passionate about. With the hustle and bustle of the holidays behind us now is actually the perfect time to host a casual brunch for friends and family. To catch up, chat about this and that and consume copious amounts of coffee and culinary creations. That’s exactly what I did last weekend.
Tortellini in Brodo means “Tortellini in Broth” or as my kids call it, Tortellini Soup. Whichever way you prefer to say it it’s always going to start with the broth. Since there are only 2 elements to this soup (well 3 if you add cheese and we always add cheese so okay 3) it’s important to make them count. Start with homemade stock. Making homemade stock couldn’t be easier I promise. If you can chuck everything into a stock pot, turn on the stove and later strain you can make homemade stock. Pretty much anytime I roast a chicken I’m making a batch of chicken stock afterwards. I leave a few jars in the fridge for that week and freeze the rest for later. Which is often. Amazing how many times I use chicken stock a week so I’m really grateful to have some in the freezer to thaw out as needed.
I’m pretty much a lemon-holic if there is indeed such a thing. I always have lemons in my refrigerator. They go with OH just about everything and they make one lip smacking tart to boot. This one is luscious, luxurious and a cinch to make. The hardest part will be arranging those raspberries on top. If you’re impatient and want to skip that step I’d totally understand. The lemon goodness is waiting just below and for us lemon-holics, it’s pretty irresistible.
If you’re a fan of sweet and salty then you’re going to love these no bake peanut butter pretzel bar treats. These are easy enough to whip up in about 30 minutes – you know in case you’re craving something besides a cookie OR if you’re still looking for last minute holiday gifts (tell me I’m not the only last minute girl), home-made treats are the way to go. Either way they won’t last long. There are only a few simple ingredients that you probably have in your pantry AND they’re easy enough that the kids can make these themselves with just a little help from the microwave. No bake remember!
It’s just not Christmas without a variety of fudge on our holiday dessert table. Yes my Mom always has quite the impressive dessert table. She’s an overachiever too (I get it honestly). It includes a variety of cookies, cakes, rolls/logs (is that considered cake?) and candy. I’m pretty sure we all know why I have a sweet tooth. My Mom has made fudge for as long as I can remember. Every different type of fudge but surprisingly not a Black Forest Fudge. I’m going to surprise her with some this year. Because you know we need another dessert on our dessert table.
Ugly. But. Good. That is the literal Italian to English translation of the name of these cookies. In my opinion they should be called light and irresistible or the incredible disappearing cookie instead of ugly but who am I to argue with the most beautiful language on the planet? I will just continue to refer to them as “Brutti Ma Buoni” because that sounds so much more appealing than Ugly. But. Good. Let’s focus on the good part now shall we? If you have a strong arm you can whip up a few baking trays of these meringue-esque beauties in no time at all. Luckily all my risotto making has trained me well for the whisking that goes into this recipe.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil is like liquid gold to me. I’m never without it in my kitchen. Ever. It’s the foundation for so many of my dishes and beyond. I even use it on my skin. It’s a fabulous moisturizer. Truth. There is no substitution for a good quality olive oil period. When Jovial Foods reached out to me and asked me to try their organic reserve blend of olive oil of course I said yes. This blend is created exclusively from three ancient varieties of olives grown in the Veneto region of Italy (which is right next to my beloved Fruili); Favarol, Grignano and Nostrano.
Everyone that knows me well knows that I have a very wicked sweet tooth. Always have and I’m pretty sure I always will. I blame my Mom but don’t tell her. Funny thing is as much as I love desserts it’s not my favorite thing in the world to make. If you’re coming to my house for dinner and ask what you can bring I will tell you dessert (or wine) every single time. Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely can make desserts and I do all the time (you do read my blog don’t you LOL). I just prefer cooking to baking if I have my rathers. I like the flexibility of cooking. Baking requires me to pay close attention and be specific with my measurements.
One of my “go to” desserts has always been panna cotta, which simply means cooked cream in Italian. Shocking because it is cooked cream right? It’s my go to for several reasons: One, I love it (what’s not to love about creamy and dreamy). Two, it’s incredibly versatile, you can add any flavor to it. Three, it’s ridiculously easy to make and can even be made in advance (big bonus points for party planning). What more can you ask for out of a dessert, unless someone else brings dessert and I’m always okay with that. Always.
I have been craving chocolate cake for a while now. A simple no fuss decadent from scratch chocolate cake that comes together in about an hour. Don’t worry most of that time is spent in the oven baking away. Plenty of time for you to enjoy dinner and then have it for dessert warm straight out of the oven. Did you hear me exhale? There is nothing better than a warm slice of chocolate cake dripping in chocolate ganache if you ask me. Unless someone else makes it, but that’s neither here nor there.
I’m an equal opportunity soup person. Meaning not only do I like all types of soup, I like soup year round. If there’s a choice of soup or salad well that’s an no brainer for me. It’s always soup. I do tend to gravitate to cream based soups. They’re calorie free aren’t they? No? Sigh, well I’m already hooked so I’m going to ignore that little tidbit. This creamy roasted pumpkin soup is high on my fall favorites list. Didn’t I mention that we’d be putting roasted pumpkin to good use. So far we’ve already used it to make Roasted Pumpkin Risotto with Pancetta and now we’re using it as the base for this soup.
Because sometimes you just feel like a nut right? If you like sweet salty and crunchy treats this fruit and nut brittle is for you. Now that it’s October (gasp I can’t believe I just typed that, where is this year going) I’m already starting to think about what homemade treats I’m going to be making for gift giving. My criteria usually includes quick and delicious. I’m super strict eh? This checks both of those boxes. You can whip up a few baking sheets of this beautiful brittle in no time at all. It reminds me of amber jewelry and I’ve been obsessed with those gorgeous chunks for as long as I remember. Something hypnotizing about it. I’m going to consider this my edible amber.
I was roasting a chicken this weekend because A. I was craving it and B. I also had high hopes to re-shoot said roasted chicken to update a VERY old and ugly post that is finger licking good but is buried in the ehem ugly photo post archives and no one comes to visit it. Of course once it came out of the oven, the smells intoxicated us and we had zero willpower. We carved in too quickly and alas no new photos. Boo. Happens every.single.time. Silver lining, while I was shoving chicken into my mouth eating, it occurred to me that I’ve never shared a simple recipe for making homemade chicken stock. Silver linings.