Prosciutto Mozzarella Flatbread

I know I’ve been pretty MIA lately and my posts have been few and far between. I appreciate you stopping by; whether it’s out of anticipation of a new post, or a revisit to an old post for the recipe, or if it’s just the first time for you. Warm weather spurs something within my soul towards cooking I normally don’t feel in the Winter. Then I step outside and the thick Maryland humidity slaps me in my face and demands I wake up. Standing over a hot stove? I’ll pass. And the worst part is, IT’S NOT EVEN JUNE (well, I guess now it is but it wasn’t a couple of days ago!). I’m afraid I’m going to either melt before Summer actually gets here or chop off all of my frizzy, curly hair because a bun isn’t cutting it. Either way, we will get through Summer in one cool piece and we will savor it, because, you know, Winter is always coming. (more…)

In my absolute stubborn attitude of not wanting to stand over anything hot, I offer you flatbread! This flatbread was inspired by a simple and very delicious panini I enjoyed in my recent trip to Las Vegas. I know the words simple and Vegas don’t go together and trust me, this isn’t my last Vegas-inspired food post. But…I loved these ingredients so much together I needed to recreate it and so I did. I use unleavened Lavash as the crust. I get this from my local Trader Joe’s and it’s the perfect cheat to a thin crust pizza! Fresh pesto is best, although if you have landed yourself a good grocery store find, you can use that too. I love fresh mozzarella on pizza, it melts perfectly and feels familiar, like Italian grandmothers have been doing this for years. After a quick trip to the oven, a simply dressed arugula salad and salty, thinly sliced prosciutto ribbons are added last minute. I’m always tempted to add something more, just one more thing. But then I take a bite and can’t believe there is so much flavor in such a simple gathering of good ingredients. This is how I survive summer without withering from all the heat in my kitchen. Plus, who doesn’t want pizza for dinner?

We first “schmear” our lavash with some fresh pesto.

Top with fresh mozzarella.

Give it a quick trip to the broiler. Don’t walk away! It only takes a couple of minutes for the lovely mozzarella to melt.

Toss the arugula with a healthy pinch of salt, good extra virgin olive oil, and delicious prosciutto. This flatbread is light, herbacious, and the easiest dinner ever. Happy flatbread making!

Late Summer Salad

I like to think that at the end of a season, a better one awaits. There shouldn’t be mourning from one season to another, for we don’t know what the new season might bring. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way but transitions can be tough. Along with a new season, uncertainty, insecurity, and fear are close behind. Luckily, for me, the only major transitions right now are the seasons changing and the company I work for is moving to a new location. Both transitions are very much welcomed but I know that’s a gift. Here’s to making the best of transitions. (more…)

Ok, enough with my philosophical rant. I guess that’s what happens when I blog right before bedtime. But seriously, I love the Autumn and all that it brings. Lately, it feels like Summer doesn’t want to let go and Autumn isn’t telling her she should. With that stubborn attitude comes confusion in the kitchen. Do I roast a chicken or make a fresh salad? Do I grill or throw together that pumpkin pasta I couldn’t resist just leaving alone on the shelf? I’m very confused but one thing I know is that it’s definitely not the time for chili just yet. This salad is for those of you, like me, who love the vibrant flavors of the Summer but long for the coziness of Fall. The fennel and apple make this salad super fresh and help balance the acidity of the vinaigrette. Plus, did I mention honeyed goat cheese? No? Honeyed goat cheese.

Here is our late harvest ingredient line up:

From Top Left to Right: Extra virgin olive oil, red onion, apple, (I used Honeycrisp for a sweeter flavor but if tart is more your thing, Granny Smith will do just fine), fennel, lemon juice, arugula, dried cherries, shaved brussels sprouts, rosemary, Dijon, honeyed goat cheese, and apple cider vinegar.

I call this piece Controlled Chaos. We throw all of our ingredients that are not being used for the vinaigrette into a bowl. Save the goat cheese for last because it will dissolve if added in too soon. We admire this beauty and then move onto our vinaigrette.

Our vinaigrette is all sass. It’s tangy and with the rosemary, it has that subtle lemony herb flavor. We pour it over our greens and toss. Don’t add the goat cheese yet!

Sprinkle the goat cheese over individual servings or better yet, crumble the goat cheese and let your guests add it to their salad. It adds a wonderful sweetness that brings it all together. Side note: If you can’t find honeyed goat cheese, just add honey to your non-honeyed goat cheese. This isn’t a “good bye Summer” salad; it’s more of a “it’s been real Summer, now I’m going to hang with your friend Fall” kind of salad. Happy salad 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!

Sage Butter Pork Chops with Roasted Sweet Tomatoes

I came up with this recipe when dreaming of Fall a couple of weeks ago. The morning air was cool with no humidity in sight. I tried said recipe   and opted for a pizza night instead. If you spend your time and money on a recipe that goes awry, you deserve a pizza night. I can write you a doctor’s note if that’s what you need to convince your family. But again, who needs much convincing when pizza is for dinner. So I’m back at it, changing it up. Instead of a succulent loin, I’m using easy peasy boneless pork chops. Instead of smearing our sage compound butter all over the meat before cooking, we add a pat to each pork chop before they go into the oven. See, we all live and we learn. Thank you for accepting me. (more…)

Before my heart gets all pittery and pattery for signs of orange leaves and sweater weather, I wanted to send a nod to summer by using what’s left of the summer produce. Two things I know people are up to their knees in: peaches and tomatoes. Oh and squash. Tricky, tricky. Well, this tomato recipe is great for those tomatoes on their way out. You know, a little too soft to eat raw but not soft enough to consider the hungry bunnies anxiously waiting outside. We roast the tomatoes making their sweetness intensify and giving them a more satisfying texture. You could serve these guys with your summer squash or green beans. Also, these tomatoes make a simple and fresh tomato sauce for any lonely pasta.
Disclaimer: This post might feel super long but the amount of time it takes to make this recipe isn’t. I just got photo happy.

Our Summer meets Fall ingredient line up:

From Top Left to Right: Boneless, center cut pork chops, lemons, fresh sage, brown sugar, ground mustard, garlic powder, salt, butter, fresh thyme, olive oil, garlic, small tomatoes (these are heirloom but grape or cherry also work!), and balsamic vinegar.

We first make our compound butter so it can harden in the fridge. A compound butter is simply ingredients added to softened butter then is hardened in the fridge. Sage, butter, lemon juice blended. Roll it in plastic wrap and forget ’bout it…until you need it for the pork chops. I am using salted butter and will ALWAYS choose to do so. If you join me, keep that in mind as you season your pork. If unsalted butter is your thing, you might want to add a pinch more salt to the chops.

We season our tomatoes with olive oil, brown sugar, thyme, garlic, and balsamic vinegar

Our spice blend of salt, garlic powder, and ground mustard powder is rubbed onto the chops.

The pork chops are sauteed to get that golden color. Remember that sage butter? Slice it up and put onto the chops.

Then, to get even fancier, we slice our lemon and lay the slices on the pork. An easy step but a worthwhile step. Plus, look how cute those lemon slices look! Now time for the chops to get the oven treatment.
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This is what our tomatoes look like when done. Do you see the glorious sauciness and tenderness? I thought maybe the addition of mozzarella would make these extra good but the good, honest truth is that they are perfect on their own.

Tomatoes represent Summer in such a bright and sweet way; while the pork chops are bringing in their Fall flavor with the sage butter. I love it when we can all come together.

Now, I’m going to give you a big tip and you might owe me your first born because of it (not really but maybe take some pics?). If you have leftovers, put the whole thing on a bed of pasta. Leftover makeover: pork and tomato edition. A dab of that butter never hurt anyone, either.

Happy dinner making!

Rosemary Peach, Strawberry, and Lemon Cookie Crumble

Herbs in desserts. Let’s discuss. I know it might be making you feel a leetle uncomfortable and even doubtful that something as delicious as fruit desserts really need an extra punch. But trust me, friend. This is a a world undiscovered. A wonderland unknown. And I want to explore this place with you. Is that weird? Adding herbs to sweet treats has become trendy BECAUSE IT’S GOOD. You could do basil here if you wanted. You could do mint. Nothing says “adventure conquering” quite like rosemary in a dessert, though. And to top it off (literally), we add lemon cookie crumbles to our crisp topping. (more…)

I made this guy for my house warming party but didn’t put it out since there was already so much food for my guests. By the end of the night, my friends had found this beauty on my counter top and dug in. It wasn’t hot or fresh out of the oven. They didn’t even have the decency to add ice cream. But they loved it. Best. Compliment. Ever. If you aren’t into making complicated desserts then you have come to the right place. The most strenuous part of this crisp is waiting for it to bake!

Our delicious ingredient line up:

From Left to Right Clockwise: Brown sugar, peeled peaches, lemon cookie crumbs, granulated sugar, strawberries, butter, fresh rosemary, flour, lemon, cornstarch, and vanilla. I think salt got lost somewhere between cookie crumbs and sugar.

Not pictured: blanching rosemary for 30 seconds. We just bring water to a boil and place our rosemary sprig in for 30 seconds. Take out and mince. By blanching our herb, it takes away the very strong flavor of rosemary and makes it deliciously palatable for our crisp. Take rosemary, peaches, strawberries, lemon juice, cornstarch, granulated sugar, vanilla, and salt place in a mixing bowl. Let’s combine this yummy nonsense and move on. We place the mixture in a buttered baking dish. A deep pie plate works too! I like to keep you on your toes.

In another mixing bowl (I’m so unpredictable), we combine flour, brown sugar, lemon cookie crumbs, and melted butter. And by combine, I mean take those pretty paws and jump in! Look at those glorious clumps! Bet you never thought clumps could be glorious and said so on a food blog.

We just take the yummy, lemony cookie topping and sprinkle it over our fruit mixture. Doesn’t it already look like it has baked? Please exercise some self control and wait to dig in AFTER a trip to the oven. Those sweet juices over ice cream are all you need in life. Pinky promise.

This is lemony, this is peachy, this is herby. Word to the wise: that rosemary sprig is just for decoration, don’t actually bake it on top of your crisp. There is such a thing as too much rosemary (I know, I used to be in denial too). Serve this hot with any ice cream you like! I definitely do not discriminate against ice cream here. Happy crisp making!

Sweet Red Pepper Coleslaw

I had some left over roasted peppers that have been staring me down every time I opened my fridge but guiltily, I closed the door. I didn’t know what to do with them and I didn’t want them to know it. Then, it hit me: when in doubt, make a sauce! If I blend the peppers, they will disappear and leave behind a nice flavor and beautiful color. I think they were happy to leave that cold fridge! Personify much? Moving on… (more…)

As you can probably tell, I like my coleslaw. There are so many variations, it literally makes me go crazy. I just think there are few things better than a hot/cold combination. Chicken, hot off the skillet, paired with a cooling, creamy slaw, like I did here. Or tangy, smokey slow-cooked barbecue topped with a sweet, crunchy coleslaw.
After making my Summer Peach Barbecue Sauce and realizing the intense smokey, slightly spicy flavor needed a sweet contrast, I turned to this guy.

Let’s check out our ingredient line up! I did my usual greek yogurt/mayo combo, which makes for a thinner dressing. If you want a thicker dressing, add more mayo than yogurt. Or go nuts and add all mayo and no yogurt. You know yourself. Do what you like! And whatever you do, don’t regret using mayo. Ever.

From Top Left to Right:Shredded green cabbage, red onion, honey, lemon, garlic, mayonnaise, greek yogurt, roasted red peppers, and white wine vinegar. And no, that’s not make believe vinegar, it’s really there!

Here comes the most exhausting part: throw everything, except for the cabbage and red onion, into the blender and… wait for it…blend! I also chose to throw some lime basil in there last minute. Look at those adorable little leaves! You could also do regular basil if you feel so inclined. Don’t forget to season! Blend first then taste to see how much you need to add.

Put your cabbage and red onion in a mixing bowl. Drizzle with the dressing. Look at that light pink color! Purdy!

Toss everything together! This is a yummy side dish to any cook out or BBQ and you don’t feel carb guilty eating it. If you make the dressing with all mayo, it can make a great sandwich spread if you have any left over! Happy slaw making!

Balsamic Caesar Wedge Salad

Remember when eating salads meant you were on a diet? It didn’t matter what came on the salad, as long as it was a salad, you were eating healthy. I would be sitting there with my family and as they all ordered burgers and pasta, I would give a disappointed look to our waiter when he asked what I wanted to eat. “I’ll have the buffalo chicken salad with blue cheese dressing, I guess.” Wow! What a sacrifice! I was trying to lose weight and obviously choosing the calorie appropriate meal. I’ve come a long way in my salad eating repertoire and normally, I stick to the vinaigrettes. But when I’m craving something a little more decadent in a salad, I turn to this guy. I really enjoy salads in the summer: minimal cooking, crisp lettuce, a luscious dressing. This recipe is my favorite salad dressing. It’s a creamy Caesar, which I prefer over an oily one and it’s perfect for a weeknight meal or as a side dish. The iceberg wedge is drenched in tangy balsamic Caesar dressing and topped with crunchy, salty bacon. By roasting the tomatoes, their flavor is deeper and more sophisticated for a salad. Enjoy!

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Let’s check out our ingredient line up!

From Left to Right: Mayonnaise (always and forever), iceberg lettuce, greek yogurt, lemon, balsamic vinegar, parmesan cheese, bacon, anchovies, garlic, and tomatoes. I used heirloom but any smallish tomato works!

We begin with our tomatoes! Put them on a sheet pan and toss with extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place them in the oven to roast for about 20-25 minutes. They will look like this gloriousness when they are done. Spell check didn’t like that I said gloriousness.

Next, we take our ingredients for the dressing: yogurt, mayo, balsamic, garlic (this is really garlicky so one clove might be your style), parmesan, anchovies, lemon, salt and pepper. And here comes the best part: we just throw it all into the blender! No pre-cutting or mincing! Genius! Just blend until smooth and creamy. I added some olive oil for flavor and to stretch the dressing a bit. Totally optional! Also, taste and adjust to what you like in a Caesar. Make sure you add plenty of freshly ground black pepper.

All we have left to do is assemble our salad! Put one of the wedges on a plate, drizzle with the dressing, top with crumbled bacon and roasted tomatoes. This salad is perfect along side grilled chicken or seared steak.

If you want to make this for a cookout this weekend, just put the dressing in a container and refrigerate until ready to serve. Easy peasy! I hope you guys have a great 4th of July; filled with good food, great company, and thankful reflections.