Appetizers, Salads

Watermelon, Feta and Mint Bites

The first official weekend of summer is finally upon us. Take a deep breath and let the beauty of that first sentence sink in … aahhhhh.

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Now, cube watermelon, crumble feta cheese, tear mint leaves, and assemble this lovely and straightforward gem of a summer dish. Wonderful as an appetizer or a salad. If you’re making this into a salad, place all of the ingredients into a bowl and toss together.

These three ingredients blend perfectly. Summer. Easy. Beautiful. Simple. Delicious.

You can’t mess this up … unless you use pre crumbled feta cheese … NEVER use pre crumbled feta. (Emily Always Cooks PSA announcement.)

Ingredients:

  • 1 watermelon, rind discarded and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 8 oz block feta cheese
  • Fresh mint leaves, torn into small pieces

Directions:

  1. Place watermelon pieces onto a plate or platter.
  2. Sprinkle/top with feta cheese.
  3. Top with fresh mint.

 

 

 

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Appetizers, Salads

Heirloom Tomato and Burrata Caprese Salad

Heirloom Tomato and Burrata Caprese Salad-2

 

“It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.” Laura Ingalls Wilder was right on.

The freshness of your ingredients – heirloom tomatoes, burrata cheese, fresh basil – make this simple salad so beautiful and delicious. Ideal for late summer gatherings with friends or family.  Pair with a good bottle of wine and fresh bread.

A simple post for a simple salad. I’d like to think Laura would wholeheartedly enjoy this. I’m certain you will.

Heirloom Tomato and Burrata Caprese Salad-1Heirloom Tomato and Burrata Caprese SaladHeirloom Tomato and Burrata Caprese Salad-3

 

Ingredients:

  • 3 large Heirloom Tomatoes
  • 2 balls burrata cheese (8 ounces total), torn into pieces
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Wash, dry, and slice tomatoes into 1/2 inch slices.  Discard ends and season tomato slices with salt and pepper.
  2. Arrange tomatoes on a platter, overlapping slightly.  Top with burrata and fresh basil.  Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Servings: 4 (side-dish) or 2 (main-dish with some crusty bread)

Pasta Recipes, Salads

Greek Tortellini Pasta Salad with Chicken

Greek Tortellini Pasta Salad2

 

Some of the best memories are made in flip flops … while eating this dish.

Summer’s back.  Time to make Greek tortellini pasta salad.  Here’s my update on the classic Greek salad. I mixed it up by adding cheese tortellini, shredded chicken, and a couple other tid bits.  I’ve always got cheese tortellini on hand for simple weeknight suppers.  Always a crowd (or, just me) pleaser.

I toss the cheese tortellini with chicken breasts (use a rotisserie chicken as a huge time saver), cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, artichoke hearts, chickpeas, kalamata olives, feta cheese, and parsley. On the side, I’ll put together a simple homemade Greek salad dressing.  Give it all a toss, and ,dinner is served.  Leftovers keep well in the refrigerator for a couple of days.  Lunch, a simple after workout snack, or even breakfast.  (Yes, I’ve been known to eat leftover pasta salad for breakfast before work. No shame!)

This also works wonderfully for picnics, potlucks, bbqs, or a weeknight meal.  Perfect for summer.  Bright and easy. Just like my favorite pair of flip flops.

Greek Tortellini Pasta Salad1Greek Tortellini Pasta Salad3

 

Ingredients:

  • 20 oz cheese tortellini
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 2 large breasts), or 1 rotisserie chicken
  • 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 1/2 cups cucumber (about 1/2 of a hothouse cucumber), peeled, seeds removed and diced
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 14 oz can artichoke hearts packed in water, drained and chopped
  • 14 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup kalamata olives, halved
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 5 oz block feta cheese, crumbled (I prefer feta packed in brine)
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Season chicken breasts with salt and freshly cracked black pepper.  Cook for 35 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.  Set aside until cool enough to handle and cut into bite sized pieces.  Alternatively, dice 3 cups of rotisserie chicken.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Cook tortellini in boiling water for 5-7 minutes, or according to package directions.  Drain and rinse under cold water until cool.  Set aside and reserve.
  3. Combine cooled tortellini, shredded chicken, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, artichoke hearts, chickpeas and kalamata olives in a large bowl.
  4. Make dressing by combining olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, salt, freshly cracked black pepper, and dried oregano.  Mix well.
  5. Toss salad with the dressing.  Start by adding half of the dressing and add more to suit your taste.
  6. Add feta cheese and fresh parsley.  Toss well and serve.

Note: Salad can be served right away but is best cooled in the refrigerator for a few hours.  Salad will keep well for 3 days in the refrigerator.

Greek Tortellini Pasta Salad4

Side Dish Recipes, Snacks, Vegetarian Recipes

Crispy Asian Brussels Sprouts

Crispy Asian Brussels Sprouts

 

I get it.

Telling you “Asian roasted Brussels sprouts are the perfect bar food snack” makes me sound like a food snob.  But if you’re reading this, you’re either already a food snob, or you’re on the road to becoming one.  So let’s embrace both our inner food snobbery, and this fantastically delicious and easy to make bar snack.

Like clockwork, 4pm rolls around and I begin craving a cold beer and a salty treat.  I look in the fridge to find something to curb my hunger.  My eyes keep going back to a bag of Brussels sprouts.  Conventional wisdom tells me my snack attack cannot be cured by Brussels sprouts.  Conventional wisdom be damned!

I crank the oven to high heat to get the Brussels sprouts charred and crispy, then toss them in a sticky Asian glaze.   Slightly sweet, a bit tangy, and nicely balanced by the heat from the Sriracha.

Kiss the mozzarella sticks goodbye.  You’ve evolved into a more sophisticated form of bar food.  Don’t forget the cold beer.

Crispy Asian Brussels SproutsCrispy Asian Brussels SproutsCrispy Asian Brussels Sprouts

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound fresh Brussels sprouts
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1-2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ½ tsp fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tbsp Sriracha sauce
  • A pinch of freshly cracked black pepper

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and set a rack on the very top level. Cover a large rimmed baking sheet with foil and reserve.
  2. Prepare the Brussels sprouts by cutting off the base of each sprout and slicing them in half.  Discard any loose outer leaves.
  3. Rinse Brussels sprouts under cold water and drain removing as much excess water as possible.
  4. In a bowl, toss Brussels sprouts with the oil and sprinkle with salt. Stir with your hands to ensure they are well-oiled and salted, and spread out evenly on baking a sheet.
  5. Place in the oven on the top rack for 45-50 minutes. After both 20 and 40 minute mark, stir the Brussels sprouts to ensure all sides get crispy.
  6. When Brussles sprouts are close to being done, prepare the sauce. In a small saute pan, combine garlic, ginger, soy sauce, fish sauce, honey, lime juice, Sriracha, and black pepper. Reduce sauce over medium-high heat until sauce is thickened (about 5 minutes).  Make sure to stir frequently to avoid burning.
  7.  When fully cooked and crisped on all sides, remove Brussels sprouts from the oven. Place them in a bowl and toss with some of the reduced sauce.  Add sauce the sauce a little bit at a time, as you don’t want the Brussels sprouts to be overly soaked. You want them to retain their crispy texture. You should have a little sauce leftover.
Breakfast Recipes, Snacks, Vegetarian Recipes

Maple Almond Granola

It’s made up of pantry staples.  It’s a whiz to throw together.  It’s the first request from my sisters when they come visit. It’s GRANOLA.  I can’t tell you how many requests I get to make granola.  When my sisters came to visit a few weeks ago, this version made an appearance.  A very short lived appearance … before being devoured.

Oats, almonds, cinnamon and a pinch of salt are combined then tossed with coconut oil, maple syrup, brown sugar, vanilla extract, and almond extract.  Lastly, a simple baking process and addition of dried cranberries.  The result is a perfectly crunchy, “un-sweet”, sweetened granola with a subtle maple flavor and a less-subtle nutty almond flavor.

Maple Almond GranolaMaple Almond GranolaMaple Almond GranolaMaple Almond Granola

 

I love versatile dishes.  Maple Almond Granola fits that description as it wears many different hats.  It’s a light yet filling breakfast.  It’s a grab and go snack when on the trails.  It’s a midnight craving buster.  It’s a homemade treat to bring to a friend.   Maple Almond Granola is something deliciously special … and it’s quite photogenic too!

Maple Almond GranolaMaple Almond GranolaMaple Almond Granola

 

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 4 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup, honey roasted sliced almonds (I used Trader Joes brand)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 cup dried cranberries

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees F and line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Set aside.
  2. Combine melted coconut oil, brown sugar, maple syrup, vanilla extract, and almond extract in a small bowl.  Stir to combine.  (Note: Add brown sugar to the coconut oil when it is still warm.  This helps to dissolve the brown sugar.)
  3. Combine oats, almonds, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl.  Mix to combine.
  4. Add liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients.  Mix well so all of the dry ingredients are thoroughly coated.
  5. Spread out evenly on the cookie sheet.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes, stirring half way through.
  7. Remove from oven, add dried cranberries, and toss to combine.  Allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

Note: Granola will last for 3 weeks in an airtight container.  Serve with yogurt and fresh berries, in a bowl with milk, or as is to munch on as a snack.

Snacks, Vegetarian Recipes

Garlic Herb Bread Twists with Parmesan Cheese and Easy Marinara Dipping Sauce

Grub-alicious dunk-alicious snack food here.  “Grub-alicious!” “Dunk-alicious!” Another sophisticated way to describe these bread twists is, “better than any bread stick I’ve ever had/will ever have again.”

Garlic Herb Bread Twists with Parmesan Cheese and Easy Marinara Dip Sauce

 

Clearly, I’m passionate about my snack time. These beauties won’t disappoint.  Perfect for kids and grown-up kids alike.  All the little nooks and twists are coated in garlic oil and packed with parmesan cheese, Italian herbs, and spicy red pepper flakes.  And, the red sauce … the perfect accompaniment.

oilcheese and oilGarlic Herb Bread Twists with Parmesan Cheese and Easy Marinara Dipping SauceGarlic Herb Bread Twists with Parmesan Cheese and Easy Marinara Dipping Sauce

 

Make some garlic oil, roll out your dough, slather with a combination of parmesan cheese, herbs and red pepper flakes, fold-cut-twist-bake, another layer of garlic oil, and another dousing of glorious cheese.  I know it seems like a lot of steps, but it couldn’t be simpler.  Bread sticks on steroids is what I have going on.  Twisty-Cheesy-Herby-Spicy-Saucy-Dunkable!

A twist in one hand, a bowl of sauce in the other – go ahead, get dunking.

Garlic Herb Bread Twists with Parmesan Cheese and Easy Marinara Dipping Sauce

Garlic Herb Bread Twists with Parmesan Cheese and Easy Marinara Dipping Sauce

 

Garlic Herb Bread Twists with Parmesan Cheese Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, skins removed and crushed but mostly left whole
  • 2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 lb pizza dough (I used store-bought dough from Whole Foods Market)
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
  • Note: You will need additional oil for greasing the baking sheet, and flour for rolling out the dough.

Easy Marinara Dipping Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 28 oz crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • A pinch of crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Prepare marinara sauce.  Heat olive oil in a small pot over medium heat.  Add onion and saute for 3-4 minutes until translucent. Add garlic and cook for an additional minute.  Add the remainder of the ingredients and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes or until bread twists are ready.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F and lightly oil a large baking sheet.
  3. Combine olive oil and garlic in a small saute pan.  Cook for 12-15 minutes over low heat until garlic starts to brown and oil becomes infused.  Stir occasionally to make sure garlic doesn’t burn.  Be sure to turn garlic so it has a chance to toast on both sides.  Remove from heat and reserve.
  4. Stir together oregano, red pepper flakes, and parmesan in a small bowl.  Set aside until you are ready to use.
  5. Remove pizza dough from your refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature.  This will take about 30 minutes.  Lightly flour a clean working surface and rolling pin. Roll out pizza dough into a 10 by 15 inch rectangle.
  6. Sprinkle the top of the dough with half of the herb cheese mixture, then fold dough in half  and roll lightly to form a 8 by 15 inch rectangle.  Measurements do not have to be exact, but try to keep them close.
  7. Cut lengthwise into 7 even strips with a pizza cutter or a sharp knife.  Strips will be slightly less than 1 inch.
  8. Twist each strip from both ends and place on baking sheet, arranging twists 1 inch apart.  Brush twists with the garlic infused olive oil.  You will use about half of the oil. Reserve the remaining oil.
  9. Bake bread twists until golden, 20 to 25 minutes total.  Turn the baking sheet half way through the cooking process to ensure even cooking.
  10. Meanwhile, stir fresh parsley and basil into remaining  herb cheese mixture.
  11. When fully cooked, remove bread twists from the oven.  Brush with remaining garlic oil (this will act as the glue), then sprinkle with the remaining cheese mixture.
  12. Serve warm with Easy Marinara Dipping Sauce.

Recipe adapted from: Gourmet Magazine

Garlic Herb Bread Twists with Parmesan Cheese and Easy Marinara Dipping Sauce

 

Appetizers, Sauces, Marinades, and Dressings

Whipped Feta with Herb Oil

I could give you this recipe with no narrative.  Read the above title to yourself…yup…it’s as delicious as it sounds. (I’ll give a little narrative anyway, ’cause I know you love reading ’em…right?)

Whipped Feta with Herb Oil

 

Whipped feta and I go together like milk and cookies, Jell-o and jiggle, coffee and donuts, a wink and a smile, peanut butter and jelly (insert your favorite combination here).  A match made in heaven!  I slather this stuff on anything and everything.  In this recipe, I pair it with a delicious herb oil.  Eat the whipped feta by itself, in a sandwich, on pizza, on a burger, with crudites as a dip, in these delicious cucumber canapes, or on top of a Greek salad.  You get the drift.  This can go with just about anything.

Last week I walked out of work and went straight to the grocery store.  Before I knew it, I was spooning this whipped gold straight from the bowl of the food processor into my mouth.

Normal behavior when dealing with whipped feta.

Whipped Feta with Herb Oil

 

Ingredients for the Whipped Feta:

  • 8 oz block feta cheese, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 3 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
  • A pinch of salt, optional

Ingredients for Herb Oil:

  • 1 cup fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley
  • 1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • 3/4 cup olive oil

Directions:

First, make the whipped feta.  Combine feta cheese and cream cheese in the bowl of your food processor and pulse until cheeses are well blended.  Add olive oil, lemon juice, and black pepper. Pulse again until whipped and smooth.  Adjust seasoning to your taste, add salt if necessary (I did not add salt to mine).  Transfer to serving bowl and reserve.  Note: Whipped feta will last up to 1 week in your refrigerator.

Next, make the herb oil.  Combine basil, parsley, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in the bowl of your food processor. Pulse until ingredients are roughly chopped and combined.  With the food processor running, slowly add the olive oil until herb oil comes together and is emulsified.  Note: Herb oil will last up to 3 days in your refrigerator (be sure to bring herb oil to room temperature before you use leftovers).  Leftover herb oil is wonderful tossed with warm pasta, and also makes a wonderful addition to a vinaigrette.

Drizzle the top of your whipped feta with the herb oil (as much or as little as you would like).

Serve immediately with fresh baguette toasts (I often times top mine with a slice of tomato, not pictured), or one of the many ways indicated above.