“Cottage Pie”

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It’s that time of the year again..

Where the green beers flow and parades spring up across the island and city in celebration of Irish heritage..

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In the past it was like a sign that spring and warmer weather was right around the corner when shamrocks and leprechauns adorned the towns windows, doors and yards in anticipation..

Though in recent years March has been snowier and colder I still look forward to Saint Patrick’s day and all it entails..

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So in preparation of the merrymaking I decided to reach back to my Ó Céileachair (anglicized to Kelleher) ancestors and recreate my version of the “Cottage Pie”


Usually listed as “Shepherds Pie” in the local Irish pubs and eateries, Cottage Pie is traditionally made with beef while Shepherds Pie is made with lamb..

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Mine uses braised boneless short ribs, red wine and Jameson whiskey slow cooked with vegetables before being baked inside a pie crust with fresh whipped mashed potatoes on top..

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Makes for a pretty cool entrance when entertaining especially if served with some of the red wine & whiskey you cooked it with..

Hope you’ll give my creation a try for yourself, it truly won’t disappoint..


“Shepherds Pie” (Cottage Pie)

Ingredients:

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  • 2 pounds boneless beef short ribs

  • 10 ounce bag frozen peas

  • 1 1/2 cup chopped celery (I use the celery from the center of a bunch with the leafy greens and everything)

  • 2 cups baby carrots, halved (I use organic bunny luv brand)

  • 10 ounces pearl onions (you can use defrosted frozen birds eye in a pinch)

  • 1/2 cup Red Wine (Malbec, Pinot, whatever your preference is good here)

  • 2 1/2 shots Jameson’s Irish Whiskey

  • 2 cups Flour

  • 1 cup Beef bone broth

  • 2 cups of water or more if wanted

  • 22 ounces (1 1/4 pounds) prepared mashed potatoes (having extra is fine)

  • 1 1/2 ounces Stew Seasoning mix (recipe below or use McCormick brand if needed)

  • Fine sea salt and black pepper

  • Paprika, course salt and chopped parsley for garnish

  • Prepared pie crust (use your favorite or try the recipe below)

  • Springform Pan (I have a special 8 inch pan with extra high sides which comes in handy for this)

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil 

  • Butter or non stick spray for pan

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Options: (Gluten Free)

Replace flour in everything with your favorite gluten free alternative and equal parts cornstarch mixed with extra fine gluten free flour for a Wondra alternative (not perfect but close)

I have a Gluten Free pie crust as well that you can use below, its drier (extra gravy fixes that) and a little trickier to work with (breaks apart so you have to form it inside pan by pressing and shaping it) but good!

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Directions:

  1. Trim edges if necessary of unwanted fat off the boneless short ribs, then cut into chunks about 2 inches in size. Mix flour, 2 teaspoons of sea salt and 2/3 teaspoon of pepper together in a bowl. Toss the short ribs in flour mix to coat.

  2. Heat a deep sided pot with lid on medium high heat (I use a cast iron Staub Perfect Pan, but a Dutch oven pot or other can work similarly)

  3. Add oil and short ribs to pot, brown the meat, turning it every few minutes being careful not to burn or over cook it..

  4. Pour in the red wine and 1 1/2 shots of whiskey and then deglaze the pan getting up any browned bits stuck to the bottom. Add 1 cup of beef bone broth, your stew seasoning mix (homemade or store bought) and stir. Finish by adding 2 cups of warm water..

  5. Then cover, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 45 to 50 minutes, stirring occasionally..

  6. Meanwhile prepare your pie crust and pre-bake it in your springform pan. You can use your favorite recipe or my coconut flour or gluten free flour pie crust recipes (I’ve used in previous recipes like the spaghetti pie) After 7-10 minutes set aside to cool while you finish cooking..

  7. Prepare your whipped mashed potatoes by peeling, dicing, boiling and then mashing them with 2 tablespoons of butter and a little cream so they’re light and fluffy..

  8. After 45 minutes add all of the vegetables except for the peas and then continue to simmer, covered for another hour..

  9. Next strain off the gravy & pan juices reserving for later. Toss the short ribs and vegetables with the peas..

  10. Now fill your prepared pie crust with the meat & vegetable mixture gently pressing down for a tight fill (will help it keep its shape) until you’re about an inch or so from the top..

  11. Now either gently spoon the potatoes or like me use a giant zip lock bag with a large opening piping bag tip to evenly add the potatoes without shifting the filling below..

  12. After you’ve filled the entire dish (An saving any leftover meat, veggies & potatoes you couldn’t fit for later in a container) smooth the top and sprinkle it with a little paprika & chopped parsley..

  13. In a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven place the entire springform and bake for about 30 minutes until the top begins to lightly brown around the edges (careful not to burn)

  14. Remove and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes, sprinkle some coarse salt across the top and then run a small sharp knife gently around the edge of the springform to release the potatoes before opening it.

  15. Gently undo the latch/hinge of your pan and slowly ease it open (after putting it on whatever serving plate you plan to use)

  16. If you drained the gravy off and made your pie crust thick enough then you should be good here (failure is always an option but let’s be positive) So raise the springform sides off of your Shepherds(Cottage) Pie being careful of the potatoes and set aside..

  17. Take your gravy, heat it in a small pot to warm it up. To thin it add a little water or beef bone broth a tiny bit at a time if necessary. I was more then okay with the amount leftover but you can always create a larger amount adding store bought or additional liquid during the earlier cooking. Finish it by adding a little more Jameson’s whiskey a teaspoon at a time. Stirring it and tasting it to ensure you haven’t gone overboard (You want a hint of whiskey flavor in the finishing)

  18. Now serve with the prepared gravy on the side or poured over each piece cut. Cut like a cake but using a long serrated knife to gently cut down the sides and through each piece (the little extra effort helps keep the pie crust intact) and use a cake server to remove each piece and plate it..

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Notes:

I’ll serve it with gravy poured over top each piece but you can just use a gravy boat and let your guests or family decide how they like it..

I’ll also pour the same wine I used earlier in cooking as a pairing to this dish, whether it was a Pinot Noir, Malbec or other..

“Beef Stew Seasoning Mix”

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Instant Flour (Wondra or create a gluten free alternative using ultra fine gf flour & cornstarch mixed together equally)

  • 2 teaspoons dried Oregano

  • 1 tablespoons dried basil

  • 2 tablespoons + 1 tsp salt

  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons + 1 tsp Garlic Powder

  • 2 tablespoons + 1 tsp Paprika

  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 1 Tbs Celery Seed

  • 2 tablespoons + 1 tsp Onion Powder

  • 1 tsp. rosemary

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Directions:

  1. Measure all of the ingredients into a medium bowl, mixing very well. Pour into a jar, cover & add a label with directions for use..

“Potato Pie Crust”

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup gluten free flour (or regular)

  • 2/3 cup mashed potato flakes

  • 1 tablespoon ice water

  • 3 eggs

  • 1 tbsp peanut or canola oil

  • 1 teaspoon butter extract 

  • 1/4 tsp fine Himalayan pink salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1 scoop unflavored baking protein (If using Gluten Free Flour - 24g protein)

  • 1/2 cup light butter, softened & added in spoonfuls

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Directions:

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  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

  2. Whisk the eggs, water, oil & butter extract in a stand mixer..

  3. In another bowl whisk the remaining dry ingredients together until combined..

  4. Pour the dry and wet mixture into a mixer and combine on low speed..

  5. Add the cubed light butter. Process until it looks like crumbles (If Gluten Free, regular flour blends and holds better)

  6. Squeeze the crumbles together with your hands until you form a ball of dough..

  7. Roll out the needed dough between two pieces of parchment paper and flip over into pie plate or springform pan (Gluten Free pie crust will want to break, just use your hands to fill and form the dough inside)

  8. Using a fork randomly make holes into the bottom of the crust using the tines..

  9. Pre-Bake the crust 7 to 10 minutes or until lightly golden..

  10. Once cooled out of the oven, add your filling..

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“Split Pea & Red Lentil Soup”

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It’s winter time and you know what that means..

Soups on!

I mean what better way to take the edge off the cold weather is there but soup, glorious soup..

An this one is something special, one of those stick to your bones soups.

Thick, hearty and oh so filling.

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Mixing split green peas with my favorite red lentils and bone broth with ultra lean low sodium ham makes for a high protein, high fiber and healthy concoction you can eat all week..

Or freeze a little like I do too save it for the future..

So get the soup pot on the stove and try it for yourself today, it won’t disappoint..

“Split Pea Soup” with “Ham Steak”

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Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

1 medium red onion, chopped

2 medium carrots, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

2-3 garlic cloves, chopped

2 ham steaks (I used 98% lean low sodium ham)

2 teaspoons dried thyme

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1-2 tablespoons “better then bouillon”, chicken

1 bay leaves

2 pounds green split peas

2 cups split red lentils

12+ cups chicken bone broth

2-4 cups of water

Himalayan pink salt & black pepper to taste

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Optional Ingredients:

2 Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into small pieces

Sour cream and croutons (for serving)

Fresh parsley or chives for garnish.

Replace Chicken Bone Broth with a Vegan/Vegetarian alternative if desired.

Leave out Ham if Vegan/Vegetarian

Directions:

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  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, celery, and garlic; season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft, 10–12 minutes.

  2. Add potatoes (if using). Cook, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are just softened, 8–10 minutes.

  3. Add butter, thyme, oregano, bay leaves, split peas and red lentils.

  4. Toss and coat split peas & split red lentils. Then add bone broth, better then bouillon and water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered.

  5. Pan sear 2 lean low sodium ham steaks till lightly browned on both sides then add them to the pot, whole & uncut.

  6. Continue to simmer until peas & lentils are very soft and falling apart, 1 1/2 to 2 hours..

  7. Remove the ham steaks gently and bay leaf from soup. Process some soup with an immersion blender if necessary (I didn’t need to but you may) then dice the two whole ham steaks (they’ll shred slightly and you can remove the outer skin if desired while cutting them if you prefer) then add all the ham to the pot..

  8. Then season with salt and pepper to desired taste & continue cooking to desired thickness or to thin add additional chicken bone broth or water to thin.

  9. Serve soup with sour cream and croutons, with a sprinkle of fresh chopped parsley or chives if desired.


“Pasta Portofino”

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Love certain dishes..

You know; the ones you just cook again and again for family and friends..

This is one of those..

Using a recipe with a few small tweaks, that I got from my Dad, I’ve been cooking this dish for about 20 years now..

It never gets old..

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Pasta, butter, asparagus, sun-dried tomatoes, wine and au jus makes for a wonderful meal..

Then as with anything, the cooking is just the beginning..

Setting the table for guests is the next part and I just love it when a table looks as pretty as the meal you’re serving..

So try this wonderful dish out for yourself..

It won’t disappoint, I promise..

“Pasta Portofino”

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Ingredients:

1 clove garlic, roughly chopped

1 pound Asparagus, cut into 2” inch pieces (I’ll use more when I want extra veggies, or mix green & white asparagus)

1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, julienned in oil (occasionally I’ve sautéed grape tomatoes separately in oil with a little seasoning & served them on the side when making this for guests who aren’t tomato fans)

4 Basil leaves, torn

1/4 cup white wine

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3/4 cup of au jus (1 pkg. prepared powdered McCormick cooked down till thickened)

1/2 pound unsalted butter 

1/4 cup or more grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

Sea salt & Pepper to taste

1 pound Penne Reggati, cooked al dente (reserve 1/2 cup of cooking liquid)

Fresh chopped Italian parsley


Directions:

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  1. Cut vegetables, prep and begin cooking down Au Jus gravy when using powdered mix (beef demi-glaze prepared using jarred demi-glaze or by making it homemade is even better—though using the powdered is simpler for the average home cook)

  2. Melt butter in a large sauté pan with high sides on medium/medium-hi heat, add garlic and cook till lightly brown. Be careful not to burn butter or garlic.

  3. Add tomatoes. Cook till butter turns frothy. (about 4 minutes)

  4. Add asparagus to the mix and sauté for 4 minutes.

  5. Add wine (I prefer a Sauvignon blanc) and Au Jus (or demi-glaze) and cook about 5 minutes.

  6. Add the torn basil, sea salt and black pepper.

  7. Remove from heat, add cheese and mix together.

  8. Toss with the cooked Penne pasta adding a tablespoon or two of reserved cooking liquid at a time if necessary to slightly thin out the mix to the desired consistency.

  9. Sprinkle with a garnish of fresh chopped Italian parsley.

  10. Serve with fresh cracked pepper and grated Parmesan or Romano cheese on the side.

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“Sweet Lokshen Kugel” with “Streusel”

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I was definitely in a pasta state of mind over the weekend..


First with making a huge pot of Bolognese sauce I served with fresh made pappardelle pasta (then some angel hair the next day for yummy leftovers) but this too..


I had never attempted or ever even eaten Kugel, or noodle pudding, before but I’ve always seen it at some of the local delis and bagel shops here in New York..

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But after that first night of carbing out on pasta with the fresh pappardelle & bolognese I realized the next morning that all that pasta I had leftover soaked up a bunch of liquid, got a little soft and very stuck together..


Not wanting to throw it away and waste it I started ransacking the house and my brain for what to do..

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This is what I came up with..

Using a mix of light cream cheese, Siggi’s vanilla yogurt, cream, milk, sugar and some spices—I buttered a baking dish and mixed and tossed it all together with the slightly overcooked pappardelle I had leftover, covered it in foil and began baking..

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Always remembering how I never thought noodle pudding looked appetizing when I saw it, I decided to dress mine up by mixing together a batch of streusel topping from scratch..

After baking for a bit, you remove the foil, sprinkle the entire top with the streusel and I finished it with a tiny bit of added cinnamon dusted across it before back into the oven to finish..

I was worried whether my sweetie or I would like it but once we dug in I was surprised to find out how much I truly enjoyed it..

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Definitely a hearty dessert with the fresh pappardelle, cheese & sugar filling you up but also exceedingly tasty too..

I definitely will be making this again for family and friends; and I hope you’ll try it out to, because it is oh so “Definitely Delish”

“Sweet Lokshen Kugel”

Ingredients:

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FOR THE STREUSEL TOPPING:

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1-1/4 cups all purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled off

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon pumpkin spice 

1/2 teaspoon pink salt

1 1/4 stick unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/2-inch chunks

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FOR THE KUGEL:

2 12-oz bag wide egg noodles (or fresh made pasta–I used pappardelle myself)

4 large eggs

One 8-oz container vanilla yogurt

One 8-oz package light cream cheese, softened (microwave for 15-20 seconds to soften)

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup of milk 

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1-1/4 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon pumpkin spice mix

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OPTIONS:

I used more pasta overcooked & leftover from the night before so use additional sugar, cream, vanilla or streusel topping to cover if necessary (used a 18x11 inch pan)


Directions:

FOR THE STREUSEL TOPPING:

  1. Combine the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl. Using your fingers, mix until no lumps of brown sugar remain. Rub in the butter with your fingertips until the mixture has a clumpy, crumbly texture. Refrigerate until ready to use.

FOR THE KUGEL:

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  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F and set an oven rack in the middle position. Butter a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.

  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil (I use 2 teaspoons salt for 3 quarts water). Cook the noodles for 6 to 8 minutes, or according to package instructions, until tender. Drain well.

  3. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the yogurt and softened cream cheese and whisk to combine. Add the half & half, sugar, salt, vanilla, and cinnamon, and whisk until completely smooth.

  4. Spread the cooked noodles evenly in the prepared baking dish. Pour the custard mixture evenly over top. Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 35 minutes.

  5. Remove and discard the foil. The custard should be just set. Sprinkle the streusel topping evenly over the top, making sure to cover all the noodles. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes more, until the streusel topping is crisp.

  6. Let cool for about 20 minutes, then cut into squares and serve.

Notes:

Make Ahead:

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  1. The kugel and topping can be assembled and stored separately in the fridge up to a day ahead of time, and then baked before serving. (The kugel with the streusel topping may also be fully cooked a day ahead of time and reheated, however the texture will be denser than if baked fresh.

  2. To reheat, cover with foil and place in a 325°F oven for 25 minutes; remove and discard the foil, and continue baking for 20 to 25 minutes more, or until warm throughout and crisp on top.)

“Salisbury Steak” with “Potato Cannolis”

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When I was a kid growing up, and long before we even had a microwave in our homes, I would look forward to “Hungry Man” dinners with my family..

The main reason for this was the fact that I would get to have their “Salisbury Steak” dinner, which included the chocolate cake..

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Served hot, from an actual oven, in the metal tray with that mix of sweet & spicy flavors in the meat & gravy and the yummy cake..

There really was nothing like “TV Dinners” as a little kid..

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Nowadays, the quality is sadly different and the microwave just doesn’t cut it for cooking it nearly the same as an oven..

But I definitely still miss those simple things and simple day that would easily make me happy as a child..

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So after letting the nostalgia wash over me I decided I didn’t want to have to wait longer and instead I would try to recapture the flavors of my childhood with an adult version for me and my family to enjoy..

Working on this to make it Gluten Free as well made things slightly trickier but I’ll include the non-gluten free ingredients as well for those who don’t need to avoid it.

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As a side dish for the “Salisbury Steak” I’m including these delicious “Potato Cannolis” which are a little extra work but so tasty that to me it’s worth the effort..

I’ll hope you try this out for yourself because it is most definitely delish..

Bon Appetit

“The Best Salisbury Steak”

INGREDIENTS:

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1 can Gluten Free Progresso French onion soup (or Campbell’s French onion soup if not gluten free)

1 1⁄2 lbs ground beef

1⁄2 cup plain gluten free panko breadcrumbs (or regular panko if not Gluten Free)

1  egg

2 rounded tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese

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1⁄4 teaspoon salt

1⁄8 teaspoon ground black pepper, to taste

1  tablespoon GF flour substitute (or regular flour if not gluten free)

1⁄4 cup ketchup

1 -3  teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, to taste

1⁄2 teaspoon mustard powder

1⁄4 cup water

DIRECTIONS:

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1. Cook progresso gluten free French Onion soup down until thickened and reduced by about 7-8 ounces of liquid then allow to cool for a Gluten Free version of this recipe, otherwise use Campbell’s French Onion soup..

2. In a large bowl, mix together 1/3 cup of the French onion soup with ground beef, gluten free bread crumbs, Parmesan, egg, salt and black pepper.

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4. Shape into 6 or more small patties.

5. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown both sides of patties.

6. Pour off excess fat.

8. In a small bowl, blend gluten free flour and remaining condensed soup until smooth.

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9. Mix in ketchup, water, Worcestershire sauce and mustard powder.

10. Pour over meat in skillet.

12. Cover, and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

13. Allow gravy to thicken slightly, then remove patties and pour gravy overtop, serve while hot and garnish with parsley or chopped chives if desired.

“Potato Cannoli”

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INGREDIENTS:

1-2 (6 to 8-inch-long) russet potatoes

5 tablespoons butter, melted

1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and chopped

5 tablespoons butter, cubed

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1/2 cup light or heavy cream

3/4 cup Gruyere cheese, shredded

Pinch freshly grated nutmeg

Sea salt, to taste

Chives, minced

DIRECTIONS:

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1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Create a few tubes by rolling aluminum foil up lengthwise on itself. Spray these with cooking oil. Slice the russet potato on a mandoline lengthwise(or use a vegetable peeler to make long strips about 2 or so inches wide by 6 to 8 inches long and very thin[for rolling]), creating about 15 to 20 slices that are 6 to 8 inches long. Wrap each slice around the prepared tubes and place seam side down on a baking sheet. Brush the wrapped potatoes lightly with melted butter and sprinkle with coarse sea or kosher salt.

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2. Bake the potatoes for 9 to 11 minutes, until crisp and browned, be careful not to burn. Allow to cool slightly then remove from the aluminum foil mold while still warm. Set aside to cool completely on a wire rack.

3. Meanwhile, make the mashed potato filling. Bring a large pot of water to boil and add the gold potatoes. Simmer until potatoes are fork tender, about 20 minutes. 

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4. While the potatoes are cooking, warm the cream over low heat. Drain the potatoes, return them to the pot and mash them well with the butter. Add half of the warm cream and mash until mixed, then add the remaining cream and half of the cheese. Mix well, then mix in the remaining cheese little by little until all of it is incorporated. Add the nutmeg then salt to taste.

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5. Allow the potato filling to cool slightly, then put it into a piping bag (ziplock bag with a sharp corner to cut open works as well)

6. Pipe the potato filling into the cooled potato cannoli shells and sprinkle with chives. Serve immediately.

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"Coconut Flour Banana Bread"

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Summer is coming to a close and the fall season is approaching quicker then some of you would like..

But after a couple of months of heat, and humidity, I’m ready for some cooler breezes and fall leaves..

One of the things I remember from the Falls of my youth, was coming home after school to warm banana bread made by my Momma to snack on..

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But nowadays with kids allergies, and celiacs disease, as well as my own slowing metabolism—it’s not so easy to just count on anyone being able to eat bread, banana or otherwise..

So deciding to make both a healthier and gluten free version for anyone to enjoy, both young and old alike was my motivation for the weekend..

Now for the Fall you can make up a tasty and healthy treat for yourself and your family, trust me, cause it is “Definitely Delish

"Coconut Flour Banana Bread"

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Ingredients:
4 medium ripe bananas, 3 mashed (about 1 1/4 cups mashed banana),
 1 divided in half longwise for the top of the banana bread
1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon organic banana extract
1/4 cup unflavored baking protein (whey, brown rice, or other)
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon organic vegetable oil
1/8 truvia brown sugar blend
2 teaspoons stevia sugar substitute
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
Cinnamon sugar for sprinkling on top

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Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 8x4 inch or 9x5 inch loaf pan with parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray..
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer combine ripe bananas, vegetable oil, vanilla and banana extracts; mix until well combined, smooth and creamy..
3. Add in the brown sugar and sugar substitutes, then mix..
4. Next add eggs, one at a time and mix on medium speed until combined..
5. Mix dry ingredients together in a separate bowl till well combined..
6. With the mixer on medium-low speed, add in the mixed dry ingredients; run mixer again until just combined..
7. Now gently fold in the dark chocolate chips..
8. Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth top. Gently add the divided banana on top for decoration and sprinkle the top with a tiny amount of cinnamon sugar..
9. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until tester inserted into center comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool for 20 minutes, then carefully remove bread from pan using the parchment paper or by gently inverting using a plate or pan and place back on wire rack to cool completely. Cut into 12 or more slices..

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Notes:
For best results, use bananas with lots of brown spots. Alternatively you can roast the bananas in the oven until the skin blackens and the bananas get soft and golden inside (do only 3 this way as the 4th would be to soft to slice and decorate top with)

"Two Mazurek Tarts For Anytime Of Year"

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This is a traditional Easter treat for after Passover, but I think it's good enough to enjoy at any time..

 

Using two variations I've seen for a starting point and making a few alterations here and there to bring my own touch to them, I came up with these two beauties..

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Gluten-Free and delicious these traditional "Good Saturday" treats are known as Mazurek, Mazurka and Mazurek Krolewski as well as many other names..

For today though I've prepared these two; a "Royal Polish Mazurek" with apricot & four fruit preserves, followed by a "Chocolate Mazurka" with a mix of nuts, seeds and cranberries decorating the top in a slightly flowering motif..

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Definitely looking almost to pretty to eat when finished..

More like giant cookies, then cakes or pies, these two tarts definitely won't disappoint you or your guests wether you serve them for the holiday as traditional or any time of year..

Pretty, gluten free and oh so "Definitely Delish"

"Royal Mazurek with Preserves"

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Ingredients:
8 ounces room-temperature butter
4 tablespoons sugar
2 ounces (6 tablespoons) ground blanched almonds
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 1/2 cups gluten free flour
2 large hard-boiled egg yolks, sieved
1 large raw egg yolk
Pinch fine sea salt
Pinch cinnamon
6 ounces apricot preserves
6 ounces seedless red raspberry preserves
Confectioners' sugar

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Directions:
1. Cream together butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
2. By hand, stir in almonds, zest, gluten free flour, making sure to measure flour correctly, and hard-cooked egg yolks. Add raw egg yolk, salt and cinnamon, and mix into a smooth dough. This entire process, from step 1, can be done in a food processor, if you prefer..
3. Place dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes..
4. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Cut off 1/3 dough and return, wrapped, to the refrigerator. Roll out 2/3 dough and place on an 8-inch-by-11-inch tart pan with a removal bottom or a small sheet pan. Pierce the dough with the tines of a fork. Using pastry brush, egg wash (1 beaten egg with 1 teaspoon water) dough..
5. Roll remaining 1/3 dough and cut into 1/4-inch strips. Arrange strips lattice-style over dough.(Gluten free can be tough to work with for this, take your time and don't worry if it cracks, you can fix some on the sheet pan after moving them) Brush lattice strips with egg wash. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until light golden brown and crisp..
6. Allow to cool completely. Place pastry on a serving plate and spoon fruit preserves alternately into the open spaces of the lattice work. Sprinkle lightly with confectioners' sugar..

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Note: This can be a difficult dough to work with for some, but it is a traditional recipe. This pastry dough is not meant to be like pie dough. It is delicate and takes a little coaxing, but the flavor is definitely worth it..

 

"Mazurek with Chocolate Ganache"

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Ingredients:
8 ounces of butter at room temperature
1/4 cups sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups ground almonds
1 cup gluten free flour mix
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate pieces
Any kind of seed, nuts or sweets to decorate the top.

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Directions:
1. Cream the butter and sugar at medium speed on a stand mixer with a paddle attachment until it becomes light in color and fluffy. Add the egg, salt and vanilla extract while mixing for another 2 minutes..
2. Incorporate almond and gluten free flour, mix on low speed for 2 minutes. Clean the walls of the bowl with a rubber spatula, then mix well at medium speed until well combined. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let rest on the fridge for 30 minutes..
3. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Prepare a baking dish by lightly buttering it, covering with parchment paper and buttering again on the paper. Put the dough in the prepared pan. The dough will be malleable enough for you to be able to use your hands to make the dough cover the bottom of the pan and make a rim of dough about one inch tall. Using a fork pierce the bottom part of the dough in many places. Bake for 30 minutes. When the crust is nice and golden it's done. Place the crust on a rack to cool completely before handling..
4. Place the heavy cream and sugar together on a saucepan. Swirl the mixture around while cooking at medium heat until the sugar melts. Add the chocolate, turn off the heat and stir constantly with a spoon to melt the chocolate with the remaining heat. Pour the chocolate mixture on the cooled crust and spread it out evenly..
5. Let the chocolate set for about 30 minutes, then decorate the top with your selection of nuts and/or sweets. I attempted a pretty pattern but that's entirely up to you..

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"Baked Panko Crusted Chicken Parm"

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I’ve been enamored with “Sheet Pan” dinners lately..

Though I haven’t been posting recently; it’s mostly been from experimenting with my Gluten Free Bagel recipes or being extra busy with work..

These meals though are that perfect dinner item that requires very little time or extra work involved to make them..

An that can be a godsend during weeks of overworking or any time really..

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I did these gluten free but you don’t have to of course—an I’ve done it with a veggie side in the pan or a quick GK Skinny Pasta on the side as well..

So enjoy making a wonderful meal for the family or lunches for your entire week with just one pan in the oven..

"Baked Panko Crusted Chicken Parmigiana"

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INGREDIENTS:
1 cup panko bread crumbs (unseasoned)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 eggs, beaten
4 (5- to 6-ounce) boneless skinless thin-sliced chicken breasts
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch of paprika
1 can of Don Pepino pizza sauce (can from Pats marketplace)
1 bag Shredded part skim mozzarella
Additonal grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

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DIRECTIONS:
1. Heat oven to 400°F. Spray a baking sheet with non stick spray or line with parchment paper.
2. Combine breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, oregano, salt and paprika in shallow dish.
Then beat eggs and put in to a separate dish.

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3. Dip chicken in the eggs; then press forcefully into the breadcrumb mixture and coat both sides. Gently place chicken into prepared pan. Sprinkle with any remaining breadcrumb mixture and press down into chicken to help it stick.
4. Bake 18-22 minutes or until internal temperature of chicken reaches at least 165°F and chicken is no longer pink.
(This depends greatly on the thickness of the chicken and whether you set it out to come to room temperature before cooking--adjust if needed)

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5. Remove from oven and spoon pizza sauce on to each piece of chicken then sprinkle both cheeses on top and place back into the oven for 4 or 5 minutes (until the cheese melts and starts to turn golden brown at the edges)

Notes:
Use more breadcrumbs, cheese and spices if necessary (depends on how big they are or how many you’re making at one time)

"Pistachio Turkish Delight"

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A sugary sweet treat that would go great with any of my Mediterranean dishes; such as the "Greek Bifteki Meatball Gyros" or "Oven-Roasted Chicken Schwarma"

Try it for yourself today..

"Pistachio Turkish Delights"

Ingredients:
2 3/4 cups water
2 1.2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cups cornstarch
1/2 cup pistachios
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp lemon juice
*extra cornstarch and confectioners sugar for coating

Directions:
1. In a sauce pan mix 21/4 cups water, granulated sugar, and lemon juice. Bring the mixture to a boil then simmer for 10 minutes.
2. In a bowl combine 1/2 cup of water, 1/2 cup of cornstarch, and cream of tartar until smooth. Gradually blend the cornstarch mixture into the simmering sugar syrup while stirring with a wire whisk. It will splatter so please be careful.
3. Cook for 1 1/2 hours on medium heat stirring often so it does not burn. Cook until the mixture forms a soft ball or 234 F.
4. Keeps bubbling, then stirring, bubbling and stirring!!
5. Test the mixture by dropping a small amount of mixture into ice water. It should form a ball. When picked out of the ice water and held between two fingers you should be able to form a ball. 
6. Stop the cooking process and add the pistachios and mix well.
7. Pour onto a parchment paper or a parchment lined baking pan and let sit for at least 5 hours or overnight.
8. Combine together 1/8 cup of confectioners sugar and 1/2 cup of cornstarch. Dust the top of the Turkish delight then flip over and dust the other side.
9. Cut with a pizza wheel or a knife 1.5 squares and then toss into the confectioners and cornstarch mixture.
Eat and enjoy. Keep in a airtight box and do not keep in the refrigerator.

"Homemade Sourdough Bread & Starter"

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Sometimes you want the freshest of the freshest ingredients for a dish in your home..

An there is nothing like homemade bread to really impress your friends, family or guests when constructing anything from "Monte Cristo" or "Cubano" sandwiches, to "Challah French Toast" or my "BLT Casserole"

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This Sourdough bread and starter is a great way of adding flavor, that homemade touch and a little extra love to a dish-plus any bread you don't use for one will go great with breakfast or a lunchtime sandwich..

Me, I used this in my Bacon Lettuce & Tomato Casserole dish-so if you wanted to go that extra mile I figured why not let you try it out for yourself by adding it to the main page of "Definitely Delish"

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So once you check this out, be sure to subscribe by signing up for automatic email updates-there'll be more foodie recipes and reviews appearing here in the future..

Take care and be sure to always make it "Definitely Delish"

"Sourdough Bread"

Ingredients:
2 cups Bread Flour
1 1/2 cups Sourdough starter, recipe below
3/4 teaspoon fine Sea Salt

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Directions:
1. In an electric mixer with the dough hook, combine the flour, starter and salt, and knead until it no longer sticks to the sides or bottom of the mixing bowl..
2. Place a lightly oiled bowl, turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let dough rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Sprinkle lightly with flour and knead gently, removing any large air bubbles. Knead into a small circle, then shape into a tight ball, pinching the seams together underneath. Place on a well-floured board or baking peel, seam-side down..
3. Cover with a kitchen towels and let rest until doubled in size, about 1 hour..

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4. Preheat a baking stone, if available, on the bottom rack of an oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Form Dough into a loaf shape and make a shallow slice down the center line of the dough..
5. Spray lightly with a mister and transfer to the baking stone (or place on a heavy baking sheet lightly dusted with cornmeal) and bake until golden brown and the bread sounds hollow when thumped on the bottom, about 60 minutes. (Sourdough should have a darker crust than other breads, so leave in the oven 5 minutes after you think it is done.)
6. Remove the loaf from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes before serving..

"Basic Sourdough Starter"

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Ingredients:
3 cups warm water
1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon organic sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour

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Directions:
1. In a large bowl, combine the water, yeast, and sugar. Let sit until the yeast becomes foamy, about 5 minutes. (If the yeast does not foam, discard the mixture and begin again with a new yeast.)
2. Add the flour and stir vigorously to work air into the mixture. Cover with a towel let rest in a warm, draft-free place (an oven with its pilot light or light bulb turned on works well) for 8 to 12 hours. (The mixture should become very bubbly.) Use immediately or cover loosely with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator..
3. Preserving the Starter: Each time you remove a portion of the starter for a recipe, reserve at least 1/4 cup and replace the amount you have taken out with equal amounts of flour and water..

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4. For example, if you remove 1 cup of starter, you must replace it with 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of warm water. Whisk these ingredients into the starter until blended but not completely smooth, cover loosely, and return to the refrigerator..
5. Also, the starter must be maintained by feeding it every few days. Refresh by removing 1 cup of the starter (give to a friend or discard it) and adding 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of warm water. Whisk until blended but not smooth. Cover loosely and return to the refrigerator..
6. If you plan to be away longer than a week, freeze the starter in a sterilized, airtight freezer container. Thaw the starter 2 days before you plan to bake with it. Refresh as indicated above with 1 cup each of flour and warm water. Cover and leave at room temperature 12 hours or overnight before using..

CAUTION: Never keep your starter tightly closed! The gasses expelled by the yeast will build up pressure and may cause the container (such as a glass jar) to burst!

"Slow-Cooker Sauerbraten & Ginger Snap Gravy"

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Recently I went away on a much needed vacation to warm and sunny Jamaica with my Baby — then, literally a moment after returning home, I came down with a horrible case of Bronchitis..

Suffice it to say, I have not really had much energy between work and sick to do anything at all besides sleep..

 

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Today though, in anticipation of what was supposed to be another monster Nor’easter here in New York, I decided to give myself a snow day and stay out of the cold..

As I’m finally getting back into feeling healthy again (a little nasally still), I decided to try something different and delicious..

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Preparing it the night before to marinate, then searing it before placing it in the slow cooker for the day gave me a chance to get just a little more rest before returning to work on the morrow..

After simmering for hours it was time to put the finishing touches on what was my first attempt with a new recipe before serving it up for me and my Baby..

So try my recipe for “Slow-Cooker Sauerbraten” with “Ginger Snap Gravy” out for yourself..

I think you will enjoy it as much as we did, because it is oh so "Definitely Delish"

 

“Slow-Cooker Sauerbraten with Ginger Snap Gravy”

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Ingredients:
For Marinade:
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup Apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoon sugar
2 carrots peeled & chopped
1 small onion halved & chopped
3 cloves garlic smashed
1 tablespoon pink peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon juniper or caper berries
1 3-4 pound beef roast (bottom or top round roast)

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For Cooking & Finishing:
Strained Marinade
1 cup beef stock
2 cups water
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour with water
Sea salt & black pepper
20 ginger snap cookies finely crushed

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Directions:
For Marinade:
1. Trim beef roast and place in large plastic bag with Marinade ingredients..
2. Seal and set overnight or up to 2 days in fridge to fully marinate turning occasionally..

Slow Cooking:
1. Remove from the refrigerator and set on counter for 30-60 minutes. Meanwhile set up slow cooker by adding 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 cup of beef stock and 2 cups of hot water on high temperature..
2. Remove beef and pat dry; then strain marinade, adding it to the slow cooker with the stock and water..
3. Heat a pan on high heat, apply salt and pepper to the beef on all sides then sear & brown the beef in the pan on all sides (approx. 4 minutes per side)
4. Add roast to crock-pot and cook on high for 60 to 90 minutes & then reduce temperature to low & continue cooking 6 to 8 hours till fork tender. (Also can cook it on high for 5 to 6 hours)
5. Remove Roast from pot when done and place covered in foil on a cutting board for 5 minutes to rest..
6. Take 4 to 6 cups of cooking liquid and add to a saucepan with 2 tablespoons of butter and 20 finely crushed ginger snap cookies..
7. Bring to a low boil; mix the flour with a little water till smooth and add to the cooking liquid in the saucepan and stir until thickened—about 3 to 4 minutes. (If some of the ground/finely crushed cookie pieces are to big and don't dissolve in the gravy then you may need to strain the gravy after cooking and before using
8. Pre-slice the roast beef and pour over with some of the ginger snap gravy and serve with some egg noodles, spaetzle or dumplings—reserve the rest of the gravy on the side for serving to your family or guests. Enjoy!

"The Holiday Brunch"

"Cooking is like love, it must be entered into with abandon or not at all."

This is one of my favorite quotes and, in a sense, encapsulates who I am as a person and a Chef..

Now I'm sure that more then a few of you could agree that each and every year sees the holiday season come quicker and quicker; so that before you know it the kids have no sooner gone back to school then a crazy headlong rush to New Years Eve has begun, with decorations for Christmas competing with Halloween and Thanksgiving from the end of August onwards..

It becomes such a mad dash, and with the commercialized bombardment of each new holiday as it nears, an almost mind numbing onslaught..

It's truly times like these that I wish I could go back to when I thought things were simpler, warmer and more heartwarming..

To those days, as I kid, when the family's would gather around each new holiday and take their time, tell stories, hold grandchildren and relax in the warm glow of the holiday spirit..

To often it becomes about the gifts and the next big thing, instead of treasuring the time we have with those we love and cherish on this earth..
 
I think as I've gained in age, if not always in wisdom, I've come to regret not always remembering what truly should have mattered to me all along..

Now, with finally coming back to a place to call home and a community to share with, I've wanted to start some new but old traditions in me and my Baby's home..
 
The first one I'd like to talk to you about is the return of the "Holiday Brunch"

To me this idea reminds of early mornings at my Granny's house with the family gathered around talking, eating and opening presents slowly all morning long..

Nothing could feel better then the idea of having a large gathering of family in the house just spending time together, it's really what the Holiday's should be about after all..

As much as I love food, cooking and photography I could go on and on about each and every dish, from the tastes and aromas all the way to the lighting and display; but for today let me just say that a brunch is one of those meals that can truly run the gamut of tastes and flavors..

Being a mix of breakfast, lunch and dessert dishes gives you the freedom to truly get creative both in your presentation and choices. For me though, for this year, I wanted some simple, easy, warm and comforting dishes to choose from..

After a couple of trips to places like Pat's Marketplace and Gemelli's I got started on what would be my food fare for the family on Christmas morning..

Remember the choice is yours on what to make and the possibilities can be truly endless..

So this year I'm bringing it back, for my family and friends, and maybe with this for a little inspiration you might do it to..

Because it is, oh so, "Definitely Delish"

"Banana French Toast Bake"
This is one of my nieces personal favorites no matter what time of year, or time of day, it is...
I love it because it can be done a day or two ahead and kept refrigerated until you're ready to cook...

Ingredients:
French Toast:
4-5 small packages King's Hawaiian Rolls
1 8 oz. package Cream Cheese
2-3 Bananas, Sliced
6 Eggs
2 cups of Milk
2 cups of Half and Half
1/4 cup Sugar
1/4 Maple Syrup
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon

Maple Vanilla Sauce:
1/2 cup Light Brown Sugar
2 tablespoons Maple Syrup
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
4 tablespoons Butter
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Directions:
1. Cut King's Hawaiian Rolls into 1 inch cubes and place on baking sheet..
2. Bake in oven at 400 degrees for several minutes, until buns dry and turn slightly golden
in color..
3. Place half the cubes into a Baking dish or foil wrapped spring-form pan..
4. Cut cream cheese into small cubes and place over bread in dish. Top with sliced Bananas, 
then cover with remaining bread cubes. (You can also mix in Chocolate chips if desired)

5. In a large bowl, beat eggs. Add milk, half & half, sugar, syrup and cinnamon-mix well..
6. Pour mixture over bread, cover and refrigerate 8 hours-or overnight..
7. Remove from refrigerator approximately 30 minutes before cooking and cover with foil.
8. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees, then bake covered for 30 minutes..
9. Uncover and continue baking 25-30 minutes more, until a knife inserted into center comes
out clean..
10. To make the Maple Vanilla Sauce; combine all ingredients except Vanilla extract in a
saucepan and bring to a boil, lowering heat and simmering for 5 minutes. Remove from heat
and add vanilla..
11. Serve "French Toast Bake" warm with Maple Vanilla sauce drizzled over top and dusted with powdered sugar..

"No Fuss Eggs Benedict"
When cooking for a crowd it's always helpful when you can make multiple
dishes together or in the same pan. For this Brunch I did a mix of several of
these time saving techniques, such as store bought pie dough and using the
same pan for the candian bacon, bacon, sausage and chicken fried steaks.
The last trick used the pot I was cooking pasta in to help me with these
delish devils...

Ingredients:
English Muffins (as many or as few as you want to make)
Eggs (You'll need one for each Eggs Benedict)
Canadian Bacon (Again one for each sandwich)
Holandaise Sauce mix (I used Knorr's brand but any will do and home
made, time permitting, is always the best
)
1 cup of Milk
2 tablespoons unsalted Butter
Freeze dried or Fresh chopped Parsley

Other:
Pam or other Non-stick cooking spray
Plastic Wrap

Directions:
1. Mix powdered Hollandaise sauce mix with milk and butter in a small saucepan and heat stirring over medium heat. Set aside till needed (if it thickens or cools to much, add a tablespoon of water and heat till smoothand creamy)
2. Using a separate pot of water on the stove; bring it to a low boil, then go on to step 3. (I used the pot of water I was making my Pasta in for the brunch I was preparing)
3. Using a small bowl (like a ice cream cup); take a 1 foot section of plastic wrap and place over the bowl in center pushing down making and
indentation. Spray the plastic wrap with the cooking spray, then crack an
egg into the center of the bowl. Wrap the sides of plastic wrap around the
raw egg creating a bag or pouch, then set aside and repeat with the
remaining eggs you are using (as many eggs for as many Eggs Benedict you
are making
)

4. Toss the plastic wrapped egg pouches into the boiling water for 4 minutes; meanwhile slice and toast your English muffin halves, while frying the Canadian bacon in a pan..
5. Using a slotted spoon remove the eggs from the water and set aside till
cool enough to touch while you finish toasting and frying..
6. Now arrange your muffin halves on a tray; set one piece of Canadian bacon on top of each, then carefully open the plastic wrap and place one perfectly poached egg on top..
7. Now using a spoon, drizzle the hollandaise sauce over each-followed by a pinch of parsley for garnish.. 

Since learning this trick I've yet to fail in poaching an egg for just about any dish I've wanted to use one in, where as before I almost never got it cooked right..

"Vodka Sauce with Pancetta and Peas"
—I love this one for any meal, Brunch or otherwise, because it is such a
simple sauce to make but is always full of a wonderful amount of flavor. It's
definitely a recipe that's sure to please any guests.

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons Unsalted Butter
2 Garlic Cloves, finely chopped
1 28 oz. can Crushed Tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
1/2 cup of Heavy Cream
1/4 cup of Vodka (I always keep a bottle of our LIV Vodka from our local Long Island distillery on hand for this recipe)
4-6 ounces thick cut chopped Pancetta
1/2 cup of Frozen Peas (more if desired)
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shaved (extra on side for guests)
Sea Salt & Ground Pepper
2-3 Tablespoons Fresh chopped Italian Parsley
1 pound Penne Pasta

Directions:
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil and add Penne pasta,
cooking til al dente-aproximately 11-13 minutes..
2. Meanwhile, in a large deep Skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add
Garlic and cook until golden, aproximately 2 minutes. Add Pancetta and
cook for 2 minutes more-remove to towle to drain..
3. Add Crushed Tomatoes and red pepper flakes and simmer for 5-6 minutes..
4. Stir in Heavy cream and, stirring well, for 1 minute..
5. Add Vodka and continue stirring for 2 minutes more, season with salt and pepper..
6. Toss drained pasta with sauce, pancetta, peas, parsley and cheese-mixing well..
7. Serve garnished with additional cheese and parsley on top..

"Apple Cinnamon Galette"
One of my favorite things in the world is apple pie; that is why for a Brunch (when time is limited) I love taking out this simple french pastry technique, the Galette, to wow my audience. Always looks so amazing, and the taste, it never disappoints...

Ingredients:
2 Rome, or other large Apples
1 Stick of unsalted Butter
2-3 tablespoons of Organic Sugar
1/2 teaspoon of Cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon of Nutmeg
1/4 cup of Sliced Almonds
1 package Pillsbury pre-made pie dough (You can make your own, but when creating so many dishes it can be a life saver to use pre-made)
1/2 teaspoon of Cinnamon Sugar (McCormick, or your preferred brand)
1 tablespoon Sugar in the Raw (Turbinado Sugar)
1 Egg +1 teaspoon of Water (for Egg wash)

Directions:
1. Set butter in dish and allow to soften at room temperature (do not microwave), when the butter has softened enough to work with; add cinnamon, nutmeg and organic sugar then mix together well-adjust cinnamon and sugar til it reaches desired taste..
2. Then take your sliced almonds and crush them using a food processor into smaller pieces, mix the almond pieces with the cinnamon sugar spread till well combined.. 
3. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees f. Now core both apples; cutting them in half from top down afterwards, leaving you with two equal halves. Preferably using a mandolin slicer (but a sharp knife and steady hand will do), slice apples creating slices about 1/8 inch or more in thickness. Set aside til ready..
4. Take out one sheet of pie dough from package; roll it out onto a lightly floured piece of parchment paper, then spread the Cinnamon Almond Sugar Spread onto the center of the dough leaving a border about one inch from the edge clean..

5. In a circular pattern arrange apple slices; start from either the outside in or a spiral from the center out, this is more personal preference but it'll create a lovely look when baked and served..
6. Mix egg and water in a glass and using a pastry brush (basting brush), brush down the edge of pie dough-folding it over top of the edge of the apples. After working all the way around the Galette, brush down the pie dough on top and then sprinkle with the Turbinado sugar..
7. Take a few dash of cinnamon sugar and sprinkle it over the exposed apple slices; then set it in the oven to cook for approximately 60-65 minutes, the dough will turn nicely golden brown and the apples will soften when finished. (It can be made quicker at 425 degrees for 35-40 minutes if made by itself-to ensure several items for the brunch were done at the same time, I adjusted accordingly)
8. Serve alone or ala mode with Ice Cream, or homemade whipped cream..

“Vegetable Frittata with Pancetta and Cheese”
If you’ve never tried a frittata before, they are this incredibly versatile dish that is more than an omelet but less than a quiche. It’ll taste as good cold or room temperature as it does fresh from the oven; and luckily, it is also a dish you can prepare ahead of time. Thus making it a perfect accompaniment to your Holiday brunch..

Ingredients: 
6 ounces diced Pancetta (you can use boars head brand diced pancetta available at Pat’s market as well as Stop and Shop’s in your neighborhood-optionally you can use 4 slices chopped cooked bacon)
1 small Vidalia onion, sliced
Several baby Bell mushrooms, sliced
7-8 Eggs, at room temperature
3 tablespoons Cream
2-3 tablespoons Butter, just barely melted
2 teaspoons Olive Oil, plus additional butter for sautéing vegetables
6-8 Fingerling potatoes, sliced (I used a mix of gold and purple potatoes)
Asparagus, woody ends removed and cut into 2-3 inch long pieces
Grape tomatoes, a handful sliced in half (I used mini Marzano tomatoes available at Pat’s marketplace)
2-3 tablespoons Bel Gioioso Asiago, thinly shaved (though regular Asiago is also fine to use)
1-2 tablespoons Locatelli Romano (regular Romano cheese is also fine to use)
Fresh chopped Italian parsley
Sea Salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
Dash of Cayenne pepper

Directions:
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees, wrap a tart pan (if it one with a removable base) in foil and spray with cooking spray..
2. In a separate skillet, cook diced pancetta until it begins to crisp and place on paper towels to drain..
3. In same skillet heat the olive oil over medium high heat and cook the onions and mushrooms until they begin to brown, 10-20 minutes. (Add a teaspoon of butter if necessary)
4. Meanwhile slice and chop all other vegetables as needed, then crack eggs into a bowl and continue to let them reach room temperature. (cold eggs take longer to cook)

5. Remove Onion and Mushroom from skillet and set aside, then add a touch of butter to pan and cook thin sliced potatoes for 5-10 minutes until lightly browned. Remove and set aside, then finish by cooking the Asparagus in the same skillet for 5 minutes, till crisp tender..
6. Add half or more of the various vegetables (tomatoes, potatoes, etc.) and pancetta to the tart pan, then sprinkle with 2-3 tablespoons of the cheeses..
7. Now prepare the eggs by just barely melting the room temperature butter and adding it to the eggs along with 2-3 tablespoons of cream, salt, pepper and cayenne. Whisk gently, but be careful not to over-beat the eggs-then pour into your tart pan..
8. Finish by adding more of your cooked ingredients, as well as a few sliced tomatoes and a last sprinkling of cheese-then place into the oven to bake for 20-25 minutes (or until just set, but be careful not to overcook). Let the frittata cool for a few minutes before unwrapping foil and removing it from the pan..

Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and enjoy..

"Simple Homemade Coffee & Tea Gelato"

So, as is my usual, I decided to play around in the Kitchen again..

What I ended up creating, for me an my Baby, were two "Three Ingredient Gelato's

Well, truth be told, they went a little beyond three ingredients. I couldn't help it..

The First one was a scrumptiously tasty "Matcha Green Tea Gelato" followed by a delectably delicious "Chocolate Chip Espresso Gelato"

Now I know what you're going to say, there's four ingredients in Espresso Gelato-but really that's only cause I couldn't help tossing in several handfuls of mini semi sweet chips at the end, I mean could you have if you were me..

So each of these refreshing frozen treats involved Heavy Cream whipped til thick peaks formed an kept cool..

Then I mixed my other ingredient with either the home-brewed Espresso that I cooked down to thicken, or the Matcha Green Tea Powder I mixed with hot brewed Green Tea to liquify..

Folding each into its own batch of Whipped Cream, I then poured them into containers and put them into the freezer to set for a few hours..

Mmmm, they were both unbelievable..

So thick, rich and creamy tasting; and so easy to do as well..

The Espresso one was especially good; such a strong roasty smooth coffee flavor with the chips just adding that lil extra something special..

Of course I could be biased due to my love of all things coffee, think I could exist on it an nothing else some days. Lol..

But really both were excellent; have loved green tea ice cream since eating it at Bonbori's Sushi as a kid, so very much enjoyed both flavors immensely..

Definitely a Delish Dessert to make again as the warm summer days approach..

"Espresso Chip Gelato"

Ingredients:
4 cups whipping cream (3-4 tubs sugar or fat free cool whip)
Can sweetened condensed milk
6 tblspn instant coffee
3 tblsps espresso
1 tsp vanilla extract
Half cup or more mini semi sweet chocolate chips if desired

Directions:
1. Thaw Cool Whip or make homemade Whipped Cream..
2. Mix Instant Coffee with 3 tablespoons of brewed espresso or coffee..
3. Mix Sweetened Condensed milk with Espresso mixture, vanilla extract and heat in microwave for approximately 30 seconds; then stir to combine and set aside to cool..
4. Once Espresso mixture cools, fold into Whipped Cream or Cool Whip and mix lightly together until fully incorporated..
5. Finally add in mini semi sweet chocolate chips and fold together..
6. Pour into Tupperware and cover and cool in freezer at least three hours before serving. Keep in freezer to store..

"Green Matcha Tea Gelato"

Ingredients:
4 cups whipping cream (3-4 tubs cool whip)
Can sweetened condensed milk
7 tsp's green matcha powder
6 tblspns brewed green tea
1 tsp vanilla extract
2-3 packs stevia or 3 tblsps powder sugar
4 drops green food coloring if desired

Directions:
1. Thaw Cool Whip or make homemade Whipped Cream..
2. Mix Matcha Tea Powder with 6 tablespoons of brewed green tea..
3. Mix Sweetened Condensed milk with Matcha Tea mixture, Stevia, vanilla extract and heat in microwave for approximately 30 seconds; then stir to combine, adding green food coloring if desired and set aside to cool..
4. Once Matcha mixture cools, fold into Whipped Cream or Cool Whip and mix lightly together until fully incorporated..
5. Pour into Tupperware and cover and cool in freezer at least three hours before serving. Keep in freezer to store..

"Post Thanksgiving Hangover"

I want to say that I just love entertaining for family and friends. I mean, truly love it.
So much so that I can be a little much for my beautiful Baby to handle, because I want everything to be perfect and go exactly as I envisioned especially with how it all looks and tastes..

 

So for this past Thanksgiving holiday, here in the US, I most definitely was more then a little anxiety ridden. I say this because not only was I doing a decent amount of cooking myself, but it was also going to be one of the first Thanksgiving dinner in our new home in quite a while..

Well I have to say that things most assuredly did not go perfect (as far as my vision) but in the end were perfect despite me and my worry. (I can be more then a little silly)

 

You see, after waking early (after doing even more dessert and dinner preparation the night before) I got started on prepping my turkey for cooking—cleaning, buttering, seasoning and covering my bird with cheesecloth (I always use a cheesecloth, it traps the moisture in the breast meat and you're able to baste right through it till ready). Next I set the table with plates, bowls, napkins, utensils and decorations. (some chocolate turkeys at each place setting was a nice touch)

Finally after beginning the roasting and basting of the bird I brought out everything else I had pre-prepared all week, which included a delicious "Roasted Butternut Squash Soup" and
"Ratatouille"

The house was so cozy, warm and smelling of all these incredible aromas; and as everyone began arriving I started serving up some starters while cooking, cooking and cooking some more..                       

It was such a great day, and I loved it so much having everyone over to enjoy the various dishes and desserts I had worked so hard on...

Everything tasted so good that I can't help but share at least a few of the recipes from that day with you, my followers (here and on Facebook & Instagram), which includes one of my new favorite side dishes as well as something wonderful to help you stretch out those incredible Thanksgiving leftovers we all enjoy so much...

The first dish is an oh so yummy "Pan-Seared Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta" followed by my "Personal Turkey Recipe" and finally the delectable dish that is an incredible alternative to the turkey sammies, which we all love, and which I'll be calling my "Thanksgiving Leftover Soup"

It's so good and so simple; and just the thought of sausage stuffing matzoh balls in soup with carrots, corn and turkey—Mmm, I can't even, I may have to make a turkey and stuffing just to make this soup again sooner rather than later...

In the end everything looked beautiful, felt wonderful and tasted great. So why not try some of these for you and your family next year or any time; because they are, oh so, "Definitely Delish"

"Pan-Seared Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta"

Ingredients:
1 pound fresh Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 ounces thick cut pancetta, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Dash of red pepper flakes
1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
Pinch of fresh Thyme and Sage, finely minced (1/4 teaspoon)

Directions:
1. Partially cook the Brussels sprouts in a large pot of boiling salted water, about 4 minutes... (Or you can lightly steam in the microwave until slightly cooked)
2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the pancetta and sauté until beginning to crisp, about 3 minutes...
3. Add the garlic and sauté until pale golden, about 2 minutes. Then add the herbs and red pepper flakes, followed by the Brussels sprouts, to the same skillet and sauté until heated through and beginning to brown—about 5 minutes...
4. Season with sea salt and pepper, to taste. Then add the broth and cook until the broth reduces just enough to coat the Brussels sprouts, about 3 minutes...
Serve and enjoy...

“Herb-Roasted Turkey"

Ingredients:
1 fresh turkey (weight will affect cooking time)
Sea Salt & freshly ground Black Pepper, to taste
4 tbs. Turkey Herb blend (see below)
1 bay leaf
8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room  temperature
1 cup turkey or chicken stock
1/2 cup Madeira wine
1 cheesecloth 

Directions:
1. Let the turkey stand at room temperature for 1 hour. 
2. Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 325 degrees Fahrenheit..
3. Remove the giblets and neck, if included, and reserve for making gravy, if desired.
4. Rinse the turkey inside and out with cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Trim off and discard excess fat. Season the turkey inside and out with salt and pepper, and place 2 Tbs. of the herbs and the bay leaf inside the body cavity.
5. Spread 2 Tbs. of the butter over the turkey breast and evenly coat the outside of the turkey with the remaining 2 Tbs. herbs. 
6. Place the turkey on a rack in a large roasting pan. Fold a 3-foot square piece of cheesecloth into quarters, dampen with water and drape it over the breast, leaving the drumsticks exposed. Transfer to the oven. 
7. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the remaining 6 Tbs. butter with the stock and Madeira. After 30 minutes of roasting, begin basting the turkey with the butter mixture through the cheesecloth.
8. Continue roasting, basting every 20 minutes, for 1 1/2 hours more.
9. Then baste every 30 minutes with the butter mixture and the pan juices until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast, away from the bone, registers 165 degrees F—total cooking time will vary by weight...
10. Baste and gently remove cheesecloth and then baste Turkey again for a final 20 minutes in the oven to nicely brown the skin on breasts.
11. Transfer the turkey to a warmed platter, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for about 20 minutes before carving.

"Turkey Herb Blend"

Ingredients:
1 tbs. dried sage
1 tbs. dried basil
1 tbs. dried marjoram
1 tbs. dried thyme
1 tsp. parsley flakes
Pinch of dried mint

Directions:
1. Mix together evenly (double, triple or quadruple the amounts and save excess in a tin for future use)

"Thanksgiving Leftover Soup"

Ingredients:
1 large Vidalia onion, chopped
2 peeled Carrots, sliced
2 stalks Celery, sliced
2 Garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 large eggs
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt, plus more as needed
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 cups leftover stuffing
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 cups shredded leftover turkey meat, torn or shredded
1 cup leftover corn kernels
4-6 cups of low sodium Chicken Broth

Directions:
1. In a small bowl; whisk the eggs, flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and some black pepper together until smooth...
2. Add the stuffing and mix until well combined—cover and reserve in the refrigerator until needed...
3. Heat the oil in the pot over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and garlic and cook until soft and translucent, about 6 minutes...
4. Add the sliced carrots and celery, thyme sprigs, and broth and bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer...
5. Cook the vegetables until just soft, about 10 minutes...
6. Roll level tablespoons of the dumpling mixture into balls with wet hands (see note) and drop into the simmering soup; cook until dumplings float, approximately 4 to 5 minutes...
7. Gently stir in the turkey meat, corn, and season with salt and pepper (to taste), and simmer until heated through. Serve immediately and enjoy..

Note: Moistness of stuffing can vary; if the dumpling dough is too soft to roll, add flour a teaspoon at a time until it is firm enough to hold its shape while rolling...
 

"Skinny Mexican Taco Lasagna"

This "Skinny Mexican Taco Lasagna" was inspired by a post a friend made on Facebook as I sat scrolling one night..

Immediately upon seeing it the light-bulb went off and I started scribbling out ideas for ingredients and options..

 

I love when a recipe comes about that way, with just the slightest nudge and prodding by my imagination..

I love it even better when it’s successful and delicious, like this fusion of Mexican & Italian inspired cuisine using low fat, low carb, high protein ingredients that still pack so much flavor that you’re kids will never know the difference..

This is one your family is sure to love, so take "Taco Tuesday" to the next level and try this one out for you and your family—because it is, oh so  "Definitely Delish"

 

"Skinny Mexican Taco Lasagna"

Ingredients:
1 pound ground Beef, 90% lean
1 pound ground Turkey, 93% lean
2 (16 oz.) jars Chunky Salsa (homemade or favorite brand choice)
1 (7 oz.) bag 2% Sharp Cheddar, shredded
1 (7 oz.) bag 2% Colby Jack, shredded
1 (7 oz.) bag 2% Mexican Mix Cheese, shredded
2 (14 oz.) cans Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes, drained
1/2  teaspoon Onion powder
1 to 2 packages of low sodium Taco seasoning mix (use more or less to taste)
2 packages "Toufayan Bakery" Lavash Flatbread, Whole Grain with Flax (low-carb)
Sea Salt & Black Pepper, to taste
1 (16 oz.) container Low fat Sour Cream
4 to 6 ounces low fat Cream Cheese
1 tablespoon fresh chopped Parsley, plus more for garnish
1 teaspoon fresh chopped Cilantro, plus more for garnish
Fresh sliced Jalapeno pepper for garnish

Directions:
1. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and take out a 9 x 13 inch baking pan or dish and grease the insides with butter or a non-stick baking spray..
2. Take ground beef and turkey and saute until browned. Season with taco mix blend, onion powder, and a pinch of sea salt and pepper to taste, until evenly coated.. 
3. Add half a can of fire roasted tomatoes, two teaspoons of chopped parsley and a 1/2 teaspoon of cilantro. Mix together, then set aside till ready to use..
4. Next take the Lavash flatbread wraps and separate or cut them into even strips to fit your pan or baking dish (The Lavash Flatbread I buy comes in 2 serving sheets with a perforation in the center—3 servings fit my pan perfectly but you may need to cut or slice depending on brand), these will make up your "lasagna" noodle substitutes. You should end up with 9 pieces if using my brand otherwise it could range up depending on how you slice the Lavash wraps to make your noodle substitutes..
5. Now, in a bowl, mix together the 2 jars of chunky salsa with 1 1/2 cans of drained fire roasted tomatoes. In another bowl, mix the bags of low fat shredded cheese together in preparation—and finally mix 12 ounces of sour cream and 4 to 6 ounces of low fat cream cheese together until blended smooth..

6. To begin layering, start by ladling out 2/3 of a cup of salsa mix evenly into the bottom of your baking dish (I'll usually give the tray a few shakes back and forth to help spread the salsa). Then cover it with strips of the cut Lavash flax roll ups..
7. Cover the strips of Lavash flax roll ups with about 1/3 of the taco meat mixture, spreading it evenly. Follow that with some of the cream cheese and sour cream mixture. Cover that with a 2/3 of a cup of the salsa and tomatoes, then 1/4 of the total amount of shredded cheese..
8. Repeat with another layer of Lavash bread strips, taco meat, sour cream mixture, salsa and shredded cheese until only salsa and cheese remain..
9. After laying down the last Lavash flatbread strips, cover them with 2/3's of a cup of salsa and the remaining cheese-then garnish with sliced jalapeno and some of the chopped parsley and cilantro..
10. Place into the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until warmed through and the cheese is melted and golden brown. Serve with low fat sour cream, avocado slices, torn cilantro leaves and additional salsa or picante sauce, if desired..

Notes:
1. The "Toufayan Bakery" Lavash Flatbread I buy comes in 2 serving sheets with a perforation in the center--3 servings fit my pan perfectly but you may need to cut or slice depending on brand..
2. I use the "Toufayan Bakery" Lavash Plus with Whole Grain & Flax for this dish because of the higher protein and fiber, with low calories. (Each serving is 80 cals, 3 g fat, 13 g carbs, 5 g fiber & 6 g protein) This helps to keep the overall fat and carbs low while raising the fiber and protein a nice amount without affecting the taste..
3. You can add a small can of sauce to the ground beef if you feel its to thick, a 6 to 8 ounce can of plain low sodium sauce is preferable..
4. You can use completely fat free cheese (though that's not my preference) or all ground turkey instead of beef & turkey mixed..
5. You could also use different Flax roll ups or wraps; Damascus Bakery makes a high protein low carb flax wrap that would work great in this dish..

 


 

"Vegetable Frittata" With "Pancetta & Cheese"

The wonders of buttered eggs. I had never thought or heard of buttered eggs until reading one I discovered, what the French have never forgotten, the joys of hot buttered eggs..

As John Masefield writes- “Time, Tide and buttered eggs wait for no man…

 

So taking this new found knowledge, on how to create the silkiest eggs you’ve ever tasted, I applied it to the creation of the most wonderful custard'y textured frittata I had ever had.

If you’ve never tried a frittata before, they are this incredibly versatile dish that is more than an omelet but less than a quiche. It’ll taste as good cold or room temperature as it does fresh from the oven; and luckily, it is also a dish you can prepare ahead of time. Thus making it a perfect accompaniment to any Holiday brunch..

 

“Vegetable Frittata with Pancetta and Cheese”

Ingredients: 
6 ounces diced Pancetta (you can use boars head brand diced pancetta available at Pat’s market as well as Stop and Shop’s in your neighborhood-optionally you can use 4 slices chopped cooked bacon)
1 small Vidalia onion, sliced
Several baby Bell mushrooms, sliced
7-8 Eggs, at room temperature
3 tablespoons Cream
2-3 tablespoons Butter, just barely melted
2 teaspoons Olive Oil, plus additional butter for sautéing vegetables
6-8 Fingerling potatoes, sliced (I used a mix of gold and purple potatoes)
Asparagus, woody ends removed and cut into 2-3 inch long pieces
Grape tomatoes, a handful sliced in half (I used mini Marzano tomatoes available at Pat’s marketplace)
2-3 tablespoons Bel Gioioso Asiago, thinly shaved (though regular Asiago is also fine to use)
1-2 tablespoons Locatelli Romano (regular Romano cheese is also fine to use)
Fresh chopped Italian parsley
Sea Salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
Dash of Cayenne pepper

Directions:
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees, wrap the outside of a tart pan (if it is one with a removable base) tightly in foil and spray inside with cooking spray..
2. In a separate skillet, cook diced pancetta until it begins to crisp and place on paper towels to drain..
3.
In same skillet heat the olive oil over medium high heat and cook the onions and mushrooms until they begin to brown, 10-20 minutes. (Add a teaspoon of butter if necessary)
4. Meanwhile slice and chop all other vegetables as needed, then crack eggs into a bowl and continue to let them reach room temperature. (cold eggs take longer to cook and will cause the melted butter to solidify)

5. Remove Onion and Mushroom from skillet and set aside, then add a touch of butter to pan and cook thin sliced potatoes for 5-10 minutes until lightly browned. Remove and set aside, then finish by cooking the Asparagus in the same skillet for 5 minutes, till crisp tender..
6. Add half or more of the various vegetables (tomatoes, potatoes, etc.) and pancetta to the tart pan, then sprinkle with 2-3 tablespoons of the cheeses..
7. Now prepare the eggs by just barely melting the room temperature butter and adding it to the eggs along with 2-3 tablespoons of cream, salt, pepper and cayenne. Whisk gently, but be careful not to overbeat the eggs-then pour into your tart pan..
8. Finish by adding more of your cooked ingredients, as well as a few sliced tomatoes and a last sprinkling of cheese-then place into the oven to bake for 20-25 minutes (or until just set, but be careful not to overcook). Let the frittata cool for a few minutes before unwrapping foil and removing it from the pan..

Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and enjoy..

"Roasted Butternut Squash & Sweet Potatoes" With "Kielbasa & Apples"

Fall means busier schedules, so fast family-friendly weeknight meals like this simple Roasted Squash, Sausage and Apple One-Pan Dinner are so helpful to have on hand..

 

A mix of healthy ingredients and low calorie alternatives create a dish with an exceptionally sweet, and tasty, treat for dinner that even the young ones in your house will enjoy it..

So if you’re ready for fall colors and flavors, then throw a pan of this pumpkin spiced meal that will be sure to hit the spot..

 

Trust me, you won’t be disappointed..

 

“Roasted Butternut Squash With Apples And Turkey Kielbasa One-Pan Dinner”

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon, divided in half, apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1 ½-inch chunks (about 1 to 1/2 pound)
2 to 3 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1/4 cup, or less, light butter (I use Kerrygold or Smart balance light with omega 3)
2 tablespoonfuls of “Truvia Brown Sugar Blend” (Splenda makes a lower sugar, brown sugar blend also)
1/2 teaspoon smoked or sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
3 small apples (or 2 large) cored and cut into 1 ½-inch chunks (I mix green and red)
1 pre-cooked Turkey Kielbasa, sliced (I use Hillshire Farms or Johnsonville)

Directions:
1.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F, positioning the rack at above the mid level of the oven. Shake 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar, maple syrup and mustard in a small jar..
2. Meanwhile, toss squash, sweet potatoes, melted light butter (or substitute), Truvia brown sugar blend, paprika, sea salt, 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar, spices (cinnamon etc) and pepper in a large bowl to coat. Spread out on a large rimmed baking sheet..
3. Transfer squash to the oven and roast 10 minutes. Add apples & sliced sausage into the large bowl with melted butter and spices then toss to coat with the remaining liquid..
4. After 10 minutes remove baking sheet from oven and add the apple, sausage and any remaining liquid to the sheet. Return to the oven and roast, until the apples are softened and the squash is tender, about 18 to 22 minutes longer. Remove from the oven..
5. Drizzle the vinegar-maple-mustard mixture over the roasted mixture in the pan and toss to coat. Serve immediately..

Notes:
1. You can add other vegetables or squash types if desired. I will often add chopped carrots with the squash in step 2.
2. Some might prefer more or less of the spices, your personal preference, add more or less if desired or leave out if you don’t like a specific spice (say cloves or another)
3. Seen similar dishes which add a couple of handfuls of kale to their dishes—if you’re a Kale fanatic who loves adding the greens to a dish, then I would suggest adding it during step 4 with the apple & kielbasa..

"GK Skinny Pasta Spaghetti Pie" with "Coconut Flour Crust"

I love trying new things, especially taking a recipe that might be a little on the decadent side or that would send you into carb overload and making it healthier..

One of the things I love and almost rarely ever ate over the past several years was pasta..

Getting older isn't easy, and needing to change up your eating habits can be difficult but luckily for a lot of us there are a few companies who have heard our cry for a healthy pasta alternative that doesn't involve zucchini..

This particular brand is "GK Skinny Pasta"

Gabriella's Kitchen has been making pasta alternatives, gluten free and teff pastas for a while now, but my favorites by far are the high protein low carb pastas they've created..

An that's where this comes in..

This recipe was one I made years ago but it's so filling, and so carb and fat heavy, that I just couldn't bring myself to make it again..

Now taking my new discovery of skinny pasta, and a pie crust I've been experimenting with, I went about making a healthy version of an incredibly scrumptious dinner dish..

Using part skim, low fat, low carb ingredients with a minimum of oil and turkey sausage—I've gone about creating a meal that is anything but bad for you no matter how gluttonous you might feel enjoying it..

 

Full of tons of protein, vegetables and fiber—you'll definitely feel satiated after a piece of this..

So give it a try yourself, and give "GK Skinny Pasta" a try to—I know that you'll find them both "Definitely Delish"

 

"Baked Spaghetti Pie" with GK SkinnyPasta and "Coconut Flour Crust"

Ingredients:
1/3 cup plus 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 zucchini, large dice
1 yellow Squash, large dice
Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 pound mild Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
1/4 cup red wine
3 cups tomato sauce (plus 2 more cups for serving on the side
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2/3 pound GK SkinnyPasta, Spaghetti
1 pound part skim mozzarella, diced
1/2 to 2/3 cup Parmesan, Asiago & Romano cheese, shredded
1/2 cup or more part skim ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon Fresh chopped parsley
Coconut Flour Pie Crust (see recipe below)

Directions:
1. Heat  2 tablespoons cup of olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the vegetables and toss to coat in the oil..
2. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Saute the veggies until it is lightly golden and tender, about 10 minutes. Decrease the heat to medium. Add the garlic and saute until it is tender, about 2 minutes longer..
3. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetable mixture to a large bowl..
4. Add the sausage and wine to the same frying pan. Cook over medium-high heat until the wine evaporates and the sausage is brown, breaking the sausage into smaller pieces, about 8 minutes..
5. Add the sausage, parsley, tomato sauce, and crushed red pepper to the veggie mixture, and toss to combine..
6. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the GK Skinny Pasta and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly..
Drain. Toss the spaghetti with the mixture. Cool completely. Add the mozzarella and shredded cheeses and toss to combine..
7. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Follow the "Coconut Flour Pie Crust" directions and transfer to a 9 or 10 inch spring-form pan (I used a double recipe and 10 inch spring-form)
8. Spoon the mixture into the prepared bottom crust till full adding spoonfuls of part skim ricotta cheese here and there (more or less to preference)
9. Roll out a 10 inch circle of coconut flour pie crust on parchment paper, brush the exposed edges of the pie crust in the spring-form pan with egg wash and transfer the circle of dough on top sealing it by pressing the edges..
10. Lightly brush the top with egg wash and sprinkle a pinch or two of coarse salt on top—then cut small slots for the inside to vent..
11. Place in middle rack of the oven. Bake until the pastry is golden brown on top, about 30 minutes..
12. Use foil around the edges if they begin to darken to quickly..
13. When done let stand for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the pan sides and serve with some reserved tomato sauce on the side..

Notes:
1. You can pre-bake the bottom shell of pie crust till just beginning to lightly golden, to avoid the chance of it remaining to soggy, before filling. Just be careful not to overcook..
2. You can also switch up the vegetables if you wish, I added a small amount of eggplant to mine. You can use all yellow or all green squash, all eggplant-it's personal preference really..

"Low Carb High Protein Coconut Flour Pie Crust"

Ingredients:
2 eggs plus 2 egg whites
2-3 teaspoons peanut or canola oil
1 teaspoon butter extract
1/4 tsp fine Himalayan pink salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup coconut flour (Bob's Red Mill or preferred brand)
1/4 cup Vital Wheat Gluten (24g protein per serving)
1/2 cup light butter, softened & added in spoonfuls (or cubes)

Options:
1 tsp vanilla extract (only for dessert pies)
3 teaspoons Truvia (for dessert pies)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Whisk the eggs, oil & butter (vanilla extract & Truvia added here for a dessert pie recipe) into a stand mixer..
3. In another bowl whisk the remaining ingredients together until combined..
4. Pour the dry and wet mixture into a mixer and combine on low speed..
5. Add the cubed light butter. Process until it looks like crumbles..
6. Squeeze the crumbles together with your hands until you form a ball of dough..
7. Roll out the needed dough between two pieces of parchment paper and flip over into pie plate or spring-form pan (will want to break, just use your hands to fill and form the dough inside)
8. Using a fork randomly make holes into the bottom of the crust using the tines..
9. Loosely ring the top edges of your dough with aluminum foil if you're going to do additional baking after filling..
10. Pre-Bake the crust 7 to 10 minutes or until lightly golden..
11. Once cooled out of the oven, add your filling. Or if you're doing additional baking, fill and add your additional layer of pie crust on top before baking again..

Notes:
1. For Gluten Free version you can try switching out the Vital Wheat gluten for unflavored brown rice protein..

2. You can also increase the sweetness of the crust by adding additional Truvia (or your preferred sugar substitute), Vanilla extract or other flavors depending on what you plan to fill the crust with. (Sweet or Savory works great with this crust)

"Kataifi - Turkish Street Food"

I've been looking to try something new for a long while, months and months back in passing I saw one of the many videos that percolate through Facebook and YouTube involving street food..

It was barely a second or two but something about one of the dishes caught my eye—an that was KataÏfi or Knafeh or really as I was to discover dozens of other names and styles..

So after procrastinating for far to long I finally set out to try to bring together a version all my own..

I then went about scouring the internet; searching YouTube videos, and food blogs, predominately from the local chefs and cooks kind enough to add English translations in the Eastern Mediterranean, Turkey, Greece, Israel and the Levant when I could..

After learning as much as I could in a short while about the many different versions and styles this street food is created in throughout the region, I then finally decided upon the style I would attempt..

Taking my cues from several versions I saw, I then tweaked and touched up my version and went about trying to make it my own..

From chopping the shredded philo, to the decision to mix and match several eastern style white cheeses from the region, and finally to the small changes to my syrup..

It was surprisingly much easier to work with then I expected, especially as it was my first time working with philo dough of any kind—but I always love trying new things from around the world, it's part of the fun of cooking..

Everyone in my family loved it, as well as my Greek boss at work who took several pieces home to his family to enjoy—an I have to say I really enjoyed it myself too, was just the right mix of ingredients and the syrup was just to yummy for words on top of all that dough and cheese..

This Turkish inspired street food is much easier to make then you might expect so I encourage you to try it out at home for yourself—I know you'll find that it is oh so "Definitely Delish"

"Kataifi - Knafeh - Kunafa - Kadaïfi"

Ingredients:
Dough:
Knafeh Dough (Shredded Philo)
1 cup Unsalted Butter

Orange Blossom Syrup:
1 1/2 cups Water
2 1/2 cups Raw Sugar
1 tsp Lemon Juice
1 tsp Rose Water
1-2 tsps Orange Blossom Water
1 teaspoon Orange liqueur
1 teaspoon of finely grated Orange Zest
1 1/2 tsps fine Himalayan Pink Salt

Filling:
1/2 cup of Semolina flour
Mix of White Cheeses (unsalted if possible) 4 cups, shredded & loosely packed into a large measuring cup (I used a mix of Armenian string cheese, Greek Kasseri cheese, Akkawi and frsh Mozzarella cheeses)

Extras:
Chopped & crushed Pistachios, roasted & salted

Directions:
1. To prepare the sugar syrup:
2. Put the sugar and water in a small saucepan and place over medium heat..
3. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Leave to boil then add the lemon juice and keep on medium heat for 10 min until the syrup thickens..
4. Add the orange zest, orange liqueur, orange blossom water and rose water. Remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl..

For the Dough:
1. Put the knafeh pastry in a large bowl. Pull out and separate the strands as much as possible with your fingers so they do not stick together..
2. Chop the kataifi/Knafeh into shorter segments to fit inside the food processor. (I chopped with my knife on a cutting board, though you can do whichever is easier for yourself) Process half or more of the dough is shredded into small, crumbly strands instead of clumped together..
3. Divide the dough in half, keep some of the longer shreds for the top in one bowl.
4. Melt your butter and then pour the melted butter over each half of dough and work it in very thoroughly with your fingers, pulling out and separating the strands and turning them over so they do not stick together and are entirely coated with butter..
5. Lightly grease the sides of a parchment lined 9 x 13 inch baking dish or 12 in round baking pan..
6. Take the finer chopped half of dough and cover the bottom of the baking dish, and press with your hands to pack it down. Press some of it up the sides of the pan as well..
7. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and place your rack just above the middle of the oven..

For the Filling:
1. Add the mix of shredded cheeses together in a saucepan on medium heat..
2. Stir until some of the water oozes out. Discard the water..
3. Add in the fine semolina and 1/2 cup of the syrup and mix. When the cheese mixture melts together, remove from heat and pour over the knafeh/Kataifi dough..
4. Spread evenly and allow to cool for 5 minutes or more..

To Finish:
1. Sprinkle the other half of dough evenly over the cheese layer. Press it down softly to even the layer out..
2. Leave out for 5 more minutes before putting it into the oven. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until the top of the dough is visibly lightly browned..
3. Remove Knafeh from the oven, and let cool for at least 5 minutes (see notes about flipping)
4. Pour 1/4 to 1/3 of the remaining orange blossom syrup evenly over the dessert (depending on how sweet you would like it.)
5. Top the Knafeh with chopped, crushed pistachios..
6. Serve immediately, if possible, while still hot and with extra syrup on the side.
7. Slice, drizzle with extra syrup, and enjoy!

Notes:
1. Flipping it is optional, but can make the finished dessert more visually appealing. (Though doing like I did and using parchment paper to line your dish and transferring to a plate looks as good or better to me-personal preference)
2. First, loosen the kunafa from the edges of the dish with a knife..
3. Cover the top of the baking dish with a large, flat baking sheet or other large, rectangular serving dish..
4. Flip the baking dish while it is covered by the sheet, so it will end up on the baking sheet..

5. If you're going to flip I would suggest some of the longer strands for the bottom (reverse which half of dough from the earlier steps to use for the bottom)
6. If you're not going to flip then you can line your pan with greased parchment paper—and after baking and allowing to cool for 5 minutes, lift out or lift slide out side onto plate using parchment paper..
 

 

"Roasted Butternut Squash Soup"

This soup recipe is a little time consuming just because of the cutting and pre-roasting of the squash, but once that's done it definitely speeds up..

The roasting concentrates the flavor and gives the squash this amazing taste that's well worth the wait..

I find this one of the toughest soups to photograph as there is little variation in color or texture unless you garnish it just right—still just tends to look orange but she's got it where it counts, and that's in taste..

This is one of my Baby's favorite soups that I make here at home; sweet, savory, cinnamon spicy and oh so good..

Definitely worth making at home, especially now that Summer is coming to close and Fall is fast approaching us.. 

(Just looks so pretty as a starter before thanksgiving or any dinner during those fall months)

Though in this house, regardless of the time of year, this soup is a guaranteed to be a hit..

Try it out for yourself and your family; I think you'll find that it is, without a doubt, "Definitely Delish"

"Roasted Butternut Squash Soup"

Ingredients:
4 pounds Butternut Squash Cubes
3 tablespoons Unsalted Butter
1 Green Apple
1/2 Sweet Vidalia Onion
8 fresh Sage leaves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon Sugar in the raw (turbinado sugar)
2 1/2 cups low sodium Chicken broth(see notes)
1 cup Apple Cider
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon each of Allspice and Nutmeg
1/3 cup Heavy Cream
Garnish-see Note below

Directions:
1. Heat oven to 425 degrees and arrange rack in middle..
2. Line a baking sheet with foil and fill with cut squash. Then melt 2 tablespoons of butter and brush it over top the squash pieces and then sprinkle with sugar..
3. Season with sea salt and pepper, then roast till knife tender-about 50 minutes to 1 hour approximately..
4. Meanwhile; peel, core and cut the apple into a medium dice. Follow by cutting the onion half into a medium dice as well. Then melt the remaining butter on medium heat in a deep pot, or dutch oven, large enough to hold several quarts of soup..
5. Add the apple, onion, and sage to the pot and season with salt and pepper-then cook, stirring occasionally, until softened. About 7 minutes..
6. Remove the pan from heat and set aside till squash is don in the oven..
7. When the squash is done, add it to the pot with the sauteed apples and onions; then add the broth, cider, cinnamon, spices and water to the pot. Bring it to a boil over medium high heat..
8. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes. Stir occasionally and adjust heat if necessary..
9. Remove the pot from heat and stir in the heavy cream; now with an immersion blender, puree the soup inside of the pot. (You could also use a regular blender and puree in batches but I find the immersion blender saves on time and clean up)
10. Taste and season with salt, pepper or cinnamon as needed to achieve the desired taste..

Notes:
1. You can leave it slightly chunky if you prefer it that way. Also, you can garnish it with toasted pumpkin seeds, apple slices, dollops of goat cheese (I prefer honeyed goat cheese for this) or a few dashes of cinnamon - or even a mix of all of these..
2. Substitute the chicken broth with a light vegetable stock, Coconut cream (or cream substitute) for the heavy cream and use your preferred butter substitute (margarine, oil, etc) for butter to make this a Vegan or Vegetarian friendly dish..