Chicken Milanese with Spicy Tomato Peach Salad

I find the best inspiration for cooking isn’t found in endless recipe searches on the Internet nor through a quick scroll through Pintrest. Going to the market and seeing what’s in season really gets my wheels turning. It’s like I’m a contestant on Chopped but without the stressful time limit. I have a few basic recipes in my head that I can alter to whatever I’m feeling for that day. I don’t need to get my Iphone greasy by trying to read a recipe as I go. This is cooking from the soul, my friends. (more…)

Chicken Milanese is an Italian classic that leaves you with a blank canvass with what to place next to it. To keep it on the lighter side, a salad seems to be the best option. I love combining sweet with savory so this Chicken Milanese with Spicy Tomato Peach Salad was a no brainer. Make sure your tomato and peach are perfectly ripe and you got yourself a show stopper. Spicy frisee pulls all of the elements together. Did I mention this is incredibly quick? Oh and butter.

Our chicken breasts are traditionally breaded and cooked in some olive oil and butter for good measure.

While our chicken cooks, our salad is combined. Capers are necessary here. Look at that cute peach peeking through. I’m soooooo glad it’s (almost) Summer!

I also pan-fried some prosciutto for one last crunch. So glad I did! A lot of people don’t enjoy prosciutto but when you fry it, its flavor changes. Check it out! I know there are a few more steps I didn’t picture but this recipe is very easy and ideal for a hectic week. Happy dinner or lunch making!

Clementine Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

Disclaimer: I made these cookies for Christmas and even had a Christmasy blog post ready for you. BUT, I didn’t get the chance to post so can we just act like it’s 2 weeks ago? Thanks in advance! (more…)

When we were kids, my siblings and I saved the stockings on Christmas morning for last. Although the items inside of them were much smaller than our gifts under the tree, I looked forward to “opening” my stocking the most. When the depression of all the gifts have been opened sets in, it was great to have another something to look forward to. There was never anything of too much value except for some candy and random little gadgets and knick knacks but one thing I always looked forward to was the chocolate orange. You know what I’m talking about. It was an orange, made completely out of chocolate with a hint of orange flavoring. Being a kid with too much adrenaline on Christmas morning, the best part about the orange was that you had to keep it in its orange foil and wack it against something hard. What happened after that was magic. When you tenderly peeled back the foil to reveal the chocolate orange, the orange literally split into clean, perfect slices, like a real orange! Pure, blissful, chocolatey magic!

Maybe that wonderful orange is why I naturally feel inclined to combine refreshing citrus with creamy chocolate at Christmas time. Like citrus, these clementine dark chocolate chip cookies are delicious all year round and you can change which citrus you use! But for me and this holiday season, it’s all about the heavenly combo of clementines and dark chocolate. These cookies are best enjoyed at any party or by a cozy fire.

Our ingredients are gathered. Our basic chocolate chip cookie recipe but with dark chocolate chips and clementine zest. We can hang with this!

Eggs,vanilla, flour, sugar, baking soda, clementine zest (you could use orange here, too!), dark chocolate chips, brown sugar (my nickname for my husband), salt, and butter.

The zest is combined with the granulated sugar first. We really want the oils from the zest to infuse the sugar. This reminds me of a sunset on a snowy winter day. Too much?

The butter is creamed with the sugars. My favorite part!

We add our eggs and vanilla. Keep mixing!

I mean….

Now, our flour! It’s ok if we make a mess; it’s the way of the cookie.

Chocolate chips are added and stirred in manually. This also allows for you to incorporate any left out flour from the edge of the bowl.

Instant gratification.

These cookies are so good! I can’t believe I didn’t make these many Christmas moons ago! They are crisp but chewy. They have some body but are completely soft. Everything you want in a cookie! Try the clementine dark chocolate chip cookies! There are plenty of snow days ahead to enjoy them! Happy cookie making!

Brunch Pad Thai

Life is stressful and sometimes, all you need is a warm bowl of noodles. Noodles of any form are what I consider real comfort food to me and I like ’em every which way! I was the kid on spaghetti night who preferred her spaghetti sans the red sauce and with the lovely addition of butter and parmesan cheese. My favorite part was biting into a huge forkful of pasta, not being able to fit the whole bite into my mouth,  and getting those cheesy, buttery noodle footprints  all over my face. I knew I was doing something right. Those same buttery delicious noodles get me through the hardest of days and longest of hours. Of course, I’ve traded in my green can of parmesan for the real deal. I love being a grown up! Well, other than the stressful part, of course. I tried to conjure up a few more Thanksgiving leftover recipes but honestly, I need a break from the holiday food for a sec. Feel me? Usually, Asian inspired dishes are what I turn to when I need a break from the usual rich and filling foods of the holidays. I introduce the Brunch Pad Thai! It’s a simple noodle dish made with the usual suspects of brunch: eggs and bacon. You could really eat this for any meal but isn’t it a fun thought to think of having a few friends come over for a unique brunch like this? All I know is that it’s delicious and I didn’t miss my eggs benedict…this week at least. (more…)

Our ingredient line up:

Asian rice noodles, beaten eggs, pea shoots, a mixture of tamarind paste, soy sauce, and fish sauce, mushrooms, bacon, sugar, garlic, crushed peanuts, and scallions.

The key here is to have a very hot wok or heavy skillet. We add our bacon and garlic. Be prepared. Your house is about to smell amazing.

This is how pad thai works; similar to stir fry. You cook meat and veggies on very high heat, remove, and repeat. You have to literally be on your toes during the whole cooking process so nothing burns. Here, we cook our eggs by swirling them in the pan so they cook fast and evenly. Burnt eggs equal gross so work fast!

Our noodles, pea shoots, and scallions are cooked. Our tamarind paste mixture is added. Tamarind paste is a must for yummy pad thai!

We kind of just throw everything else into the pan and toss! So much going on! So much flavor! Real talk: whatever you do, DO NOT overcook your rice noodles! This sweet little gal did and everything turned to mush! The horror!

Chaos. Perfect. Delicious. Chaos. You know what would be delicious with this? Cilantro and fresh lime juice! Don’t forget it at the grocery store like I did. Let me be the example. I hope you can find a calm moment in the midst of the holiday chaos and make yourself a nice bowl of your favorite noodles. Happy noodles making!

Roasted Bacon Meatballs

The best meatball I ever had was in Boston. Chris and I had ventured there on a whim to get him a tattoo; 8 hours on a train, just to be in Boston for the day. My, we were adventurers back in our dating days! The day was spent strolling the busy and historic streets of the city, finding cozy little restaurants and sub shops in the most unexpected places. Getting down poured on with no spare clothing for the long trek home is also a nice memory. It was actually a great trip looking back (maybe because we don’t take as many trips nowadays). One of my favorite memories is aimlessly wandering the wet, shiny streets in hopes of a good meal. We love Italian food so that is what we always look for while in a new city. There was a small restaurant, tucked into a larger building. It was burnt orange and had cute little windows. I wish I remembered its name. Any who, after rushing around all day, mainly on foot, and being incredibly soaked, we walked in. We were seated up against a wall and almost uncomfortably close to the people sitting next to us. It was cozy and perfect. What made it more perfect was my dinner. I didn’t care about anything else but the meatballs on my plate. I want to be those meatballs when I grow up.
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Since it’s getting cold and all, I like to feature comfort food. We all could use a little more comfort. In my list of top 3 comfort foods, meatballs are definitely included. And the best part is: they are a cinch to make. I bake mine, making the process so much easier and less messy. I use bacon instead of just ground pork because it adds the perfect smokiness and richness for a meatball. Tons of pecorino romano and fresh parsley make these meatballs so cheesy and fresh tasting. I like to make a big batch and freeze them. Perfect cure for a busy, cold day! Please make these! Your life is about to change. Are you ready?
Our meatball ingredient line up: From Top Left to Right: Ground beef, garlic (lots and lots), parsley, eggs, cream, bacon (it’s finely minced so it just melts into our meatballs), onion, pecorino romano, basil, and fresh breadcrumbs.

This! This is all I need! So much yummy in one picture. Take a fork and combine all of that yumminess.

Get your baking sheets ready! I like to use a small ice cream scoop to measure out 2 tablespoons of mixture. You could obviously make them bigger, they just might need to cook a little longer.

While our meatballs are in the oven, we make our sauce! I like to use red wine in place of sugar in tomato sauces. It adds a sweetness and depth that sugar really just doesn’t have. Always fresh herbs here!

See that? All of that wonderful cheese has melted. I like to call them my little flat bottoms because they aren’t perfectly round since they are baked.

Eat them with your spaghetti, eat them in a sub roll, or serve them as an appetizer. You are going to love these! Happy meataballa making!

Maple Brown Butter Oatmeal Muffins

The Amish Market. Have you been? I’ve always lived so close to one you can call me one spoiled little Amish supporter. Their pretzel dogs are magic, their whoopie pies are better than whoopie (not really but I HAD to), and their sweet and humble demeanor is refreshing. They also have a restaurant that always has a line of hungry, early birds attached to it. But if you are lucky enough to catch a table before the inevitable line, you’re in for a special and incredibly simple treat. Now I’m starting to sound like I’m writing a review but I’m not. There’s a point to my long-winded story. In this restaurant, they have baked oatmeal. This baked oatmeal is served with heavy cream and then a dollop of whipped cream (a little redundant I know). The warm, crumbly, spice filled oatmeal is complimented by the smooth, thick, cold, non sweet cream. It’s true comfort for a chilly Saturday morning. I have since gotten my hands on the recipe and have tweaked it to make it even more enticing, if that’s possible. Still with me? (more…)

When the leaves start to change and the air gets crisper, I want something baked in the morning. Is there anything better than waking up to the smell of oatmeal and cinnamon permeating the house? Well, I guess bacon would be better…These muffins are so simple to pull together for a lovely breakfast with friends…or family (sorry for the unwanted pressure). The muffins themselves aren’t too sweet but still have a rich, nutty flavor thanks to the brown butter. Serve them warm with a little touch of cream poured on top or a little dollop of whipped cream for a sweeter treat.

Our ingredient line up:

From Top Left to Right: Whole milk (never doubt it), vanilla, maple syrup, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, baking powder, rolled oats (old fashioned, not instant), eggs, and our butter.

This is liquid gold aka brown butter. It’s so delicious for being so simple but let’s not be that surprised that something simple and delicious came from butter. This adds a nutty, caramelly (sorry spelling check), flavor to our muffins. Pour this over pancakes or pasta or into your chocolate chip cookie batter. DIVINE!

We mix our dry ingredients.

We mix our wet ingredients. I’m obsessed with this color scheme right now!

Combine the wet with the dry. I know, hard work DOES pay off here. Hehe. Drop spoonfuls of muffin batter into the muffin tins. The liquid does separate from the oats, just make sure each muffin has equal amounts of the liquid. Time for the oven!

These muffins will make your house smell out of this world. It will make you think of every Fall you spent as a kid jumping in leaves and drinking hot apple cider (so this totally didn’t happen in my childhood but I’m kind of hoping it did for yours). These are great snacks or a fast breakfast. Or prop your feet up and enjoy that your windows can be open. I like mine with a leetle whipped cream on the side. Happy muffin making!

Mini Niçoise Tuna Melts

These are your childhood meets elegant. I love taking a classic and making it new. Not totally new where you can’t recognize it anymore. Just new enough that you taste the classic flavors but in a new way. That’s what gets me going. Tuna melts have my heart. They’re part of that special group of meals that you forget about until you eat them and then furiously wonder why it’s taken you so long to get here. Why don’t I make these more often?! That’s what goes through my head when I eat a tuna melt. And I bet I’m not the only one…or am I? Queue in the X-Files theme song. (more…)

Have you ever had a niçoise salad? It’s a salad composed of tomatoes, eggs, olives, and anchovies and dressed with a vinaigrette. Usually, fresh tuna is also added to make it a complete meal. In these melts, I make some changes from the usual: sun dried tomatoes instead of fresh, no anchovies (not because I don’t like them but because I didn’t want to get my blender dirty), and the biggest change of all: no mayonnaise. Yup. I’m sorry. But that is what takes these to the next level. Instead of a mayo based dressing, we make a vinaigrette that would normally be paired with the niçoise salad. BUT the creaminess of the gruyere and eggs make up for the lack of creaminess from the lack of mayo. Not confusing at all.

Our French ingredient line up:

From Top Left to Right: Baguette, sun dried tomatoes, parsley, gruyere cheese, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, Dijon mustard, olives, tuna, hard boiled eggs (look at those yellows), and shallots.
*Just a little tip when buying canned tuna. Make sure the can says dolphin safe or pole caught. It’s a better way to fish for tuna that won’t hurt dolphins in the process. Fishing can be a tricky thing!

We first make our vinaigrette. Can you guess how many times I had to google vinaigrette for spelling? Don’t. Just Don’t.

Then, we begin our niçoise madness. If I had a dollar for every can of tuna I have opened in my life, well, I’d have a lot of dollars. Does that saying ever go anywhere? Am I missing something or just not witty enough? I dunno. Our vinaigrette meets our tuna niçoise ingredients.

Time to top our cute little bread slices with some niçoise love. Oooo lala.

The gruyere is sprinkled on top. These are tuna melts afterall.

All we do is place them under the broiler for a couple of minutes. Easiest appetizer ever. This would also be a great tuna salad if you don’t do the cheese thing.

I love these. I really do. These would be great to kick start any football season. Oh and if you don’t like olives, I would encourage you to still add them. I don’t like them at all but loved them in this. The amount I have added makes then barely noticeable but essential! Happy melts making!

Greek Egg Scramble with Oregano Mayonnaise

You know how there are those recipes that your mom makes or your grandmom and you ask them for the recipe and they tell you it’s not really a recipe, they just add what they like? You know, a little bit of this, a little bit of that? Wow, what confidence! Most of cooking is this way though; you’re given an outline and you can fill in the blanks according to your tastes. Isn’t that a relief? If you don’t love red pepper flake, don’t add it (or maybe just as much as the recipe calls for). You love basil? Then add a little bit more than the recipe calls for. That’s how I want you to read my recipes. Of course, recipes are there to guide you and give you a good outcome, but never forget why you’re in the kitchen. If you aren’t excited about what you’re making or maybe a specific ingredient, change it to what gets you going! Really! Ok, end of rant… (more…)

I hardly call this egg scramble a recipe; it’s more like an inspiration. We eat our fair share of eggs so I’m always looking for new add in’s. Mushroom and cheddar omelettes, smokey bacon and paprika scramble, or fried egg sandwich with grape jelly (my husband’s fave). Eggs are a blank slate. With all of that being said, my recipe is just an outline, measurements to what I like. Add more or less of what you like. See how gratifying cooking can be?

Our ingredient line up:

From Top Right to Left: Eggs, feta cheese, dried oregano, bread of choice (if you wish), baby spinach, sun dried tomatoes, and mayonnaise. I always recommend farm fresh eggs! Good for you and your local farmers! Seriously, once you go fresh, you never go back? That saying works, right?

For our mayo: just mix the oregano with the mayo. I was thinking of adding anchovies but didn’t want to get my food processor dirty. I’ll let you know if I ever decide to add them.

We beat our eggs and cook them in some butter (always). Once the eggs start to come together, we add our sun dried tomatoes and spinach. Add the feta at the end. Voila!

Take your toast and spread the mayo. Plate your eggs. I made an egg sandwich that was just too messy to capture its gloriousness on film. This is perfect for the weekend brunch situation. So flavorful! Happy scramble making!

Sophisticated S’mores

Let me tell you a story about a girl. A girl who has no concept of time and has to be at a family BBQ in 3 hours. A BBQ that is an hour away and she wants to make cheesecake. Cheesecake that has to set for at least 2 hours or else she will have a chocolate mess on her hands. She decided to take her precious, Saturday morning time going to yoga. She needs to gather herself for the day. She goes home and starts to make her cheesecake. She’s calm and collected and isn’t even worried about her time allotment. Do you want to know how this story ends? It ends with a girl, frantically cutting and trying to pose chocolate that is literally melting in front of her. Don’t worry there’s a happy ending and it’s 50 people at a BBQ who don’t care what the food looks like as long as it tastes great. Lucky me, I mean her. Gosh, the nerve of some people. She needs to get her act together. I present to you: Sophisticated S’mores. (more…)

Here’s the ingredient line up:

From Top Left to Right: Eggs, melted butter, vanilla, heavy cream, marshmallow fluff (organic, of course), sugar, graham cracker crumbs, toasted coconut, greek yogurt, semisweet chocolate, and cream cheese.

We pulse our graham crackers until they are crumbs. We add our melted butter and some vanilla. Pulse again.

Place the graham crumbs in a 9×13 pan, lined with buttered foil (you’ll be thanking me later), and evenly press the crumbs into a crust like so. Finger outlines=homemade.

Now, for the reason we are all here: cheesecake! Cream the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, fluff, and yogurt. Add the eggs, one at a time. We got ourselves a filling! Pour onto the crust and bake. And whatever you do, do NOT open that oven door! Your cheesecake depends on it!

After the 3 annoying steps to bake this thing, your cheesecake should look (somewhat) like this. Let that creaminess cool completely. Please and thank you.

As you wait for the cheesecake to cool and you haven’t picked a leetle piece from one of the corners to sample, we can make our other additions that make this dessert something special. We toast our coconut in a dry pan over medium low. Keep an eye on those suckers. They want to burn so badly. Once they are golden brown, take them off the heat.

This is where our cheesecake goes from dessert to sheer decadence. Two words: chocolate ganache. It sounds so fancy but is only two ingredients. Chop your chocolate so it will melt easily and place in a heat proof bowl.

Put your heavy cream in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Pour over chocolate and whisk until melted. As the chocolate cools, it gets thicker. Look at that shine! No, this isn’t a shampoo commercial.

All we need to do is combine the trifecta! Pour that chocolate over the cheesecake and make sure it’s evenly distributed. Sprinkle with the coconut.

You will have something that looks like this. But here is where I made the biggest mistake. Instead of saving some extra fluff to drizzle on top, I thought eating it with extra graham crackers was a better idea. Save some fluff to heat up and drizzle on top of this goodness. You’ll be glad you did.

Like I said in my little story, I didn’t have time for my cheesecake to set before I had to cut it. That’s why the bars are dripping with chocolate. Make sure you allow yourself at least 2 hours for them to have fridge time. These take a little work but are soooo worth it. They are S’mores with a cheesecake twist. Sometimes, it’s good to be an adult. Happy sweets making!