Sometimes a few simple ingredients can be combined to make something wow-worthy — and I totally feel that way about this easy to make summer salad of grilled peaches and arugula. I made this salad for a summer rosé party held by The Urban Grape, and it was a hit — the sweetness of the grilled peaches is a perfect balance for the peppery arugula and tang of reduced balsamic. Check out the recipe below and be sure to click over to Boston.com to read the full article with smart tips from Hadley & TJ of The Urban Grape  to throw your own rosé party!

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Ingredients:

  • 6 Peaches
  • 1 cup of Mozzarella balls
  • 8 cups of Arugula
  • 1/8 cup Pine Nuts
  • 1/3 cup Balsamic Vinegar

Peel peaches and cut into wedges. Heat grill and lightly coat with cooking spray to keep peaches from sticking. Grill peaches until marked on all sides. Set aside to cool. In a small saucepan, heat the Balsamic Vinegar on a medium-high heat, and let it reduce in half, about 5-8 minutes. As the Vinegar is reducing, toast pine nuts lightly in a small pan (be careful not to burn). In a large bowl, assemble arugula, layer mozzarella and peaches on top, and then sprinkle with pine nuts and dress with the balsamic reduction. Toss to serve.

Photography: Brian Samuels Photography

 

One of the easiest dishes for entertaining is kabobs — they’re easy to prepare in advance, are pre-portioned, and look really beautiful when plated for the table. When working on a summer rosé party held by The Urban Grape, I made a simple rosemary sirloin version that’s perfect for summer entertaining. Check out the recipe below and be sure to click over to Boston.com to read the full article with smart tips from Hadley & TJ of The Urban Grape to throw your own rosé party!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 lb of sirloin tips
  • 1 large red onion
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 red pepper
  • Fresh rosemary
  • 2 lemons
  • Salt and pepper

Marinate steak overnight in a sealed plastic back with the juice of two lemons, salt and pepper, and 3-4 sprigs of rosemary. Soak wooden skewers in water overnight to prevent burning. When ready to assemble the kabobs, begin by preparing the vegetables; slice a zucchini, peppers and red onion into large chunks. Alternate the vegetables and meats until the skewers are full. Use fresh rosemary sprigs and remove the needles from the bottom half of the stalk to create. Press the sprig into the first few pieces of meat and vegetables to thread the rosemary through the skewer. Grill kabobs to desired wellness and serve on a bed of arugula.

Photography: Brian Samuels Photography

 

 

 

 

A  few weeks back I popped into Olives & Grace in the South End and stumbled upon Sfoglini pastas in the shop. My siblings and I essentially considered everything bagels our main food group for most of our childhood, so I had to grab a bag when I saw they made an everything bagel-flavored pasta. Fast forward to my crawl along the Vermont Cheese Trail a week later when visiting the Cabot tasting room I secured some everything bagel cheddar cheese. It was carb and cheese kismet — frankly it would have been irresponsible not to dream up a way to combine these two everything-bagel-flavored treats.  Sometimes a great idea just presents itself to you, and Everything Bagel Mac & Cheese was one of those great ideas. I modified my usual mac and cheese recipe, and just swapped in the everything bagel flavored ingredients (and just because that wasn’t enough, I crushed up bagel chips in lieu of bread crumbs). I’m a certified crazy person for even thinking something like this up, but oh man was it tasty. (Full disclosure: next time I’d probably hold back on the bagel chips because it tasted a little bit like mac and cheese combined with stuffing due to their texture — not that mac and cheese stuffing sounds like a bad thing). So, there you have it. In case you thought making donuts into s’mores was the fattest idea a person could ever have — I’ve topped myself once again. 20140625-193739-70659660.jpg20140625-193737-70657713.jpg20140625-193740-70660538.jpg20140625-193738-70658704.jpg20140625-193741-70661319.jpg

There’s something a bit funny about me posting a recipe for a fish dish because  I never really had a taste of seafood until a few years ago. My husband loves fish and slowly got me to taste it when we would go out to eat at restaurants. Now I’m a seafood lover –I’m thankful he broke me of that picky-eating-habit — but cooking fish at home has been intimidating for me! I’ve experimented though and finally cracked a good basic recipe of baked cod that I then mix up with different toppings (kalamata olives and tomatoes is a favorite!). We saw some sweet yellow corn at the market this weekend and I decided to experiment with a baked cod dish that has a summer spin: corn, tomatoes, shallots and thyme — full recipe below!

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Ingredients:

  • 1lb of fresh cod
  • 2 tbsp of white wine
  • 2 tbsp of parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 3 thinly sliced small shallots
  • 2 ears of corn
  • Fresh thyme
  • Lemon
  • 1 tbsp butter, melted
  • Salt & Pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees, and in a shallow baking dish arrange the pieces of cod. On top of the fish, pour 2 tbsp of white wine, and then sprinkle 2 tbsp of grated Parmesean cheese. Next, arrange 1/2 cup of quartered grape tomatoes, 3 thinly sliced small shallots, and corn kernels from two ears of corn. Top all of the ingredients with a generous amount of salt and pepper, 6-8 fresh thyme sprigs, the juice of one lemon and 1 tbsp of melted butter. Pop that tasty summer dish into the oven and let it bake for 15-20 minutes, until the fish is cooked through. Serve over rice with fresh thyme.

Lemon and basil are one of those flavor pairs that I just can’t get enough of. I had a bunch of leftover lemons from a photo shoot last weekend, so I decided to dig through the pantry and make up something tasty to use them in.  My tasty result was a lemon basil pasta with skillet chicken and shallots. It was tasty, and you can  make it too — recipe below!

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Boil water and cook pasta to al dente, reserve a few tablespoons of pasta water for sauce. In a skillet, heat olive oil and sauté two thinly sliced shallots. Once they begin to soften, add in chicken breasts that has been seasoned with salt, pepper, and herbs de provence. When the chicken is browned and cooked through, remove to a plate and let rest. Add 1/4 cup of white wine to the pan, scraping up the shallots and browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Then add in 1 tbsp of butter, the juice of one lemon, and the reserved pasta water and let the sauce reduce for 4-6 minutes. Chop up the chicken into bite-sizes pieces, and toss back into the sauce with the pasta to combine. Then sprinkle the dish with freshly chopped basil and parmesan cheese before serving! Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

I hope you’re sitting down while reading this, because I’m about to share a recipe with you that combine donuts… and s’mores. Yup, you read that right! With National Donut Day later this week, I knew I had to put my thinking cap on to take my love for donuts to the next level.  What I came up with is the easiest of easy recipes with just four tasty ingredients: donuts, marshmallows, graham cracker crumbs, and butter.  I took store-bought mini-chocolate donuts and skewered them with cake-pop sticks. Then I melted about a half a bag of marshmallows with 1 tbsp of butter over low heat (stirring constantly) until it had a smooth consistency. Dunk those chocolate donuts into the melted marshmallows, and then while it’s still hot, dip them into the graham cracker crumbles. Then set them out on a piece of parchment paper until they cool (or feel free to sneak a bite of a hot one, I won’t judge you). How cute is that? I am definitely bringing these to BBQs this summer — it’s a tasty little treat that’s perfect for us city-dwellers that don’t have a fire for s’mores making!

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I have a major back-log of recipes I’ve been meaning to share here, and with the chilly grey weather in Boston this week, a highly caloric comfort food recipe just seemed like the right choice to share. We celebrated my mother-in-law’s birthday in early May and I made a big tray of twice-baked potatoes, loaded to the brim with bacon and cheese-y goodness. They were a crowd-pleaser, which is always a treat when they’re actually so simple to make!

20140504-141733.jpgPreheat oven to 350 degrees. Scrub baking potatoes thoroughly, and use a knife to slice a few holes to let steam out. Pop them in the oven and let them bake for about an hour. While the potatoes are baking, prep your toppings: shred sharp cheddar cheese, chop up scallions and/or chives, and crisp up bacon and chop it into bits.

After the potatoes are done baking, use a sharp knife to slice the top 1/4 inch off the top of the potato horizontally and discard of the skin. Using a spoon (I think a melon-baller works great!), scoop out the inside of the potatoes into a bowl. In the bowl, combine the potatoes with salt, pepper, and sour cream — I used about 1/8 cup of sour cream per potato, you may need a bit more if they’re really big. Mash the combination together to thoroughly combine and then fold in some of the chives, bacon, and cheddar cheese.

Then you’re ready to re-stuff the loaded mashed potato goodness back into the potato skins. You’ve added more to the mixture, so they’ll heap over the edges a bit at this point. Then add more bacon and cheese on top and pop them back in the oven for 5-10 minutes until the cheese is melted; sprinkle with fresh chives before serving.

This weekend I tackled a fun item on my 30 before 30 list: baking macarons from scratch! I took a class last summer (and marked that off my list too!) which was super helpful background when trying to recreate them on my own. The verdict: I was 50/50 on macaron success. I made a batch of lemon macarons that were  a bust, they lost their shape and cooked unevenly. But batch #2 — a raspberry macaron with raspberry champagne butter-cream filling — came out great. They weren’t perfect, but they were tasty and looked pretty good! I filled up a footed bowl with them and brought them off to Easter celebrations.

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Let’s talk about my new obsession: orange basil water. I’ve been trying to up my water intake lately to replace my love for diet cokes and coffees. But there’s only so much water a girl can drink, I need flavor! So I’ve been cutting up an orange and a few basil leaves and infusing water in a big pitcher in the fridge. It’s delightfully delicious and actually makes me crave water now — plus, how pretty does it look?
Orange Basil Water

I love digging through my Grandma’s cookbooks to see the little notes and edits she’s made to the recipes over the years (inside the front cover of the book we borrowed is a note to my Grandmother from sister-in-law, and it’s dated 1967, when she received it as a gift!). When I was home at my parent’s house this weekend, my sister and I decided to borrow an old cookbook from my Grandma and make a family favorite recipe — Chicken Champagne. Her version has those little notes written in the margins of the pages (for example, her version omits the chicken livers, PHEW!), and I’ve adapted it a little bit more to omit some of the hard to find ingredients (like shaved truffles). Excuse the grainy cellphone pictures I took of our version — we were in quite the rush to dig in — it’s far more delicious than it could ever look in a photo! Find the full recipe below:

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset 1394975448.660773.IMG_1576 Ingredients:

  • 4-5 boneless chicken breasts, cut up into bite-sized pieces
  • All-purpose flour
  • Jarred mushrooms, drained
  • 1/2 cup of butter
  • 5 thin slices of prosciutto, diced
  • 1/2 cup of heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup of good Champagne (drink a little while you’re cooking too!)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Serve with angel hair or thin spaghetti  (fresh is best if you can find it, it absorbs the sauce so well)
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Instructions:

  • Toss chicken breast pieces with flour until lightly coated, season with salt and pepper.
  • In a large pan, melt 1/2 cup of butter, and add chicken. Cook chicken in butter until browned.
  • Once chicken is fully browned, add in mushrooms, prosciutto, and heavy cream. Stir to combine and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Add champagne, stir, and cover for another 10 minutes.
  • Season with additional salt and pepper as needed, and toss with fresh grated parmesan.
  • Serve over fresh pasta with additional parmesan cheese on the side, and don’t forget to pour a glass of champagne to compliment the meal!

Note: The sauce doesn’t reduce as well if you double the recipe, instead, use 2/3 of champagne and cream.