I’m a huge meat eater. I love chicken, beef, lamb… If it flies, walks or swims, I’m in. But every so often I want to take a break from the chicken and beef and eat a vegetable or two. It’s on those nights that I usually make a pasta dish or a dinner salad. While throwing together a quick salad or spaghetti is pretty easy, it also can get stale. I mean, how many times a month can one eat spaghetti marinara or a spinach salad? There just have to be other veggie options that are quick to whip up and don’t require dirtying an entire kitchen.
Carla Snyder had the same thoughts. She knew there were plenty of people out there who were vegetarians or ominvores and wanted to consume more vegetables without all the fuss. So, when she saw how successful her book, One Pan, Two Plates: More than 70 Complete Weeknight Meals for Two was, she decided to make a veggie version; only this time everything in the book would be made with vegetables or grains. The idea behind One Pan, Two Plates: Vegetarian Suppers was simple: make delicious, versatile vegetarian dishes that weren’t complicated, didn’t take a lot of time, but were still full of flavor.
Having the opportunity to sample a few of Snyder’s vegetarian dishes at Melissa’s Produce a couple weeks ago, I’m here to tell you she definitely succeeded. Everything I tried was delicious from the Superfood Salad made with quinoa and blueberries to the Crunchy Black Bean Tacos. But the dishes didn’t just have me going back for seconds (and thirds), they’re so easy to make. Snyder actually whipped up the tacos for us in about 15 or 20 minutes. I couldn’t believe it. And the fact they they only take one pan, makes them even more enticing. I mean, if you’re anything like me, the last thing you want to do at the end of a long day is spend an extra hour in the kitchen cleaning up a sink full of dirty pots and pans after you’ve spent an hour (or more) making dinner.
Now, I know it seems odd that you only need one pan to make a pasta dish, but seriously, that’s all I used. See, I boiled the pasta and the brussels sprouts in a large saucepan, drained them and then mixed everything together back in the same pot. The heat from the freshly boiled pasta melted the cheese and when combined with a little pasta water makes for a nice creamy sauce that coats everything. The recipe was so easy to follow I can’t wait to make it and several others in the book again.
Bow Ties with Brussels Sprouts and Gorgonzola
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 8 ounces Bow Tie Pasta
- 12-15 Brussels sprouts, quartered
- 4 ounces Gorgonzola cheese
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/3 cup sunflower seeds
- 2 tablespoons Italian parsley, minced
- pepper to taste
- Bring 2 quarts of salted water to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat. Add the pasta and cook about 7 minutes. Add the Brussels sprouts and continue to cook for another 5 minutes until the pasta is al dente and the Brussels sprouts are tender; drain, reserving at least a half cup of the pasta water.
- Return the pasta and Brussels sprouts to the same hot pan. Mix in the cheese, butter, sunflower seeds, pepper, 1 tablespoon parsley and at least a quarter cup of the pasta water. Continue to stir until a creamy sauce forms. If the pasta is still too dry continue to add the pasta water until the sauce reaches the consistency you prefer.
- Mound the pasta on plates, sprinkel with remaining parsley and serve.
We’re right in the middle of two of my favorite seasons: citrus and Girl Scout Cookie. Okay, I know Girl Scout Cookies aren’t necessarily a season, but they’re around for at least a month (and still available until March 12th) and that’s more than enough for me.
I’m a huge girl scout cookie fan. I’ve been eating them since I was a girl scout myself, many moons ago. As a matter of fact this year marks the 100th anniversary of girl scouts selling those awesome little cookies. Every time I get an email or text from my friends whose daughters are selling cookies, I immediately make my list of which ones I want. My favorites are the Samoas, Thin Mints and Do-si-dos (but there are several other flavors in case you want to pick some up). While I love munching on those three with a tall glass of milk, the Savannah Smiles are my go to when it comes to baking. It was actually this time last year that I made another recipe using the lemony Smiles thanks to Melissa’s Produce and the Girl Scouts of greater Los Angeles.
I prefer to bake with the Smiles because they’re light little cookies that taste of sweet lemons. While they’re delicious on their own or with a cup of tea, I like them in my desserts because they add an extra burst of lemon flavor, which is why I knew these little cookies would be a great base for a trifle. I’d only used cake before in trifles because it’s already soft and moist, so I wasn’t sure how the cookies would fare. But they were wonderful. Yes, they got a little soggy from the two different curds, but they still retained a slight crunch and melded with the rest of the trifle wonderfully.
Trifles are often thought of as spring and summer desserts. But since we’re right in the middle of citrus season, this is the perfect opportunity to make a beautiful dessert that’s light and delicious. While lemon curd is a common curd of choice when it comes to trifles, I wanted to add a little something extra. So I didn’t just make a lemon curd, I also made a blood orange curd. Not only does it make for some great colored layers, both curds really smack you with that delightfully tart citrus flavor. When combined with the raspberries and those Savannah Smiles, you get one awesome trifle and a dessert definitely worthy of those amazing girls and all they stand for.
Citrus Raspberry Trifle
- 1-1/2 cups butter, cubed and divided
- 1-1/2 cups sugar, divided
- 3/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 cup blood orange juice
- 2 tablespoons lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons orange zest
- 7 eggs, divided
- 8 egg yolks, divided
- a couple drops pink food coloring (optional)
- 5 pints of raspberries
- 3 boxes of Savannah Smiles
- Make the curds: Combine the lemon juice, 3/4 cup of sugar and 1 cup of butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
- While the juice mixture boils, whisk 5 eggs and 2 egg yolks with a pinch of salt in a large bowl.
- Reduce the heat to low and whisk the egg mixture into the juice mixture. Continue stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the curd coats the back of the spoon. Remove from heat, whisk in the lemon zest and set aside to cool.
- Combine the orange juice, 3/4 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
- While the juice mixture boils, whisk 2 eggs and 6 egg yolks with a pinch of salt in a large bowl.
- Reduce the heat to low and whisk the egg mixture into the juice mixture. Continue stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the curd coats the back of the spoon. Remove from heat, whisk in the orange zest and the food coloring (if you’re using it) and set aside to cool.
- Build the trifle: Place one-third of the cookies on the bottom of a large trifle bowl. Spoon half the lemon curd over the cookies and spread to the sides of the bowl. Cover with one-third of the raspberries. Repeat with the remaining cookies, curd and raspberries, alternating between the orange curd and lemon curd as you go. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.
Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. Melissa’s Produce provided me with the Meyer Lemons and raspberries, and the Girl Scouts provided me with the Savannah Smiles for recipe testing. As always, any opinion expressed is my own and is not influenced in any way by the manufacturer/PR firm as I only review products that I have personally tested and endorse.
Here’s the thing about the holidays, it seems from Thanksgiving to New Year’s every single weekend is booked. Between office parties and shopping and friendly get togethers, I never feel like I have enough time to do anything, including cook. I love to cook, though, especially for parties. So, I always find a way. Don’t get me wrong, I love spending hours in the kitchen cooking, but there are some days when I just don’t have the time or the luxury to do that. It’s on those days that I look for easy recipes that don’t require a lot of effort, but are ideal for a potluck or guests. This Baked Brie from Rachel Hollis is just such a recipe.
I was lucky enough to meet Hollis at an event at Melissa’s Produce a few weeks ago promoting her new cookbook, Upscale Downhome. It’s her first cookbook and it’s filled with easy recipes for both the family and parties, as well as entertaining tips. Hollis started out as a party planner, which is where she came up with a lot of these ideas. It’s a great guide that I know will become a permanent part of my collection. I know this because I’ve already made several recipes from the book and they’ve all been big hits.
This Baked Brie is the perfect example. It’s got to be one of the easiest recipes I’ve ever made. Plus, since it’s served warm, it’s great for winter parties. I know blueberries seem like a spring and summer fruit, but thanks to several South American countries, you can now get blueberries year round at the supermarket and bring a little spring to your holiday party. Why is this brie so easy? It only takes 4 ingredients and about 30 minutes from prep to presentation. Seriously, 30 minutes.
So, if you’re at a loss of what to make for your next holiday party or want a great appetizer to serve family before Christmas dinner, you can’t go wrong with this Baked Blueberry Brie. And if you’re looking for a great gift for your favorite foodie, I can’t say enough about Upscale Downhome. Both are definite winners.
Baked Blueberry Brie
- 1 pint fresh blueberries
- 1 round of brie cheese
- 1 frozen puff pasty sheet, thawed
- 1 large egg, beaten
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- Place a handful of blueberries on top of the brie round.
- Carefully wrap the puff pastry around the brie and berries, turning it over to seal the edges together. Transfer the brie to the prepared baking sheet and brush with the beaten egg wash. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the puff pastry is a nice golden brown.
- Let cool for about 5 minutes, transfer to a serving platter and serve with the remaining blueberries and sliced toast or crackers.
I LOVE cookies! They’re small, sweet, bite-sized circles or squares of deliciousness. So when Melissa’s invited me to a meet, greet and taste all about cookies, I was soooooooooooooooo in!
In case you aren’t familiar with the name, Dorie Greenspan is a “culinary guru” according to the New York Times. She’s been around the food world for awhile now, working with most of the greats including Pierre Hermé and Julia Child. Through all those years cooking and baking, Greenspan has written several cookbooks and made or created numerous cookie recipes. But until Dorie’s Cookies, she has never written a book about them. This 500-plus page book is filled with every cookie recipe imaginable. Looking for your basic chocolate chip? She’s got it. Want something fruity? It’s in here. Do you prefer nuts or peanut butter? Greenspan’s got you covered. She even has several recipes devoted to different types of brownies. I’m telling you, this book is going to be my cookie bible for years and years to come. The fact that Christmas and Hanukkah are three weeks away, makes this book the perfect go to for all those cookies we want to make.
Now while I’m usually all about sweet cookies, I know not everyone out there likes rich, gooey, sweets. Some people like savory bites instead. Well, don’t worry, there’s a whole chapter on savory options in here called Cocktail Cookies. It’s in this chapter that I discovered these awesome Bee’s Sneeze Nuggets. They’re lemony, salty, spicy bites that are great with a cocktail or some cheese. If however, you want to add a little sweetness, Greenspan suggests dipping them in some honey. I’ve tasted them plain and dipped and they’re great either way.
Wondering how Greenspan came up with the idea for these little nuggets? From a cocktail menu. She was at Booker and Dax, a cocktail bar in New York City, when her friend ordered the Bee’s Sneeze which was a gin cocktail made with lemon juice, honey, ginger and black pepper. Greenspan took one sip and knew immediately she wanted to turn it into a cookie. She kept all the ingredients from the cocktail and added a little flour and olive oil. What she got were flaky nuggets that are perfect for any cocktail party and a nice change of pace from all the sweet Christmas cookies you’ll be seeing this holiday season.
Bee’s Sneeze Nuggets
- 1-3/4 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3 tablespoons gin
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- finely grated zest of 2 lemons
- 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
- Whisk the flour, baking powder and pepper together in a small bowl.
- Whisk the lemon juice, oil, gin, and honey together in another bowl.
- Toss the sugar and salt in a large bowl with the lemon zest. Then rub the sugar, salt and lemon zest together with your fingers until the sugar and salt are moist and aromatic. Mix in the grated ginger. Add the flour mixture and stir until combined. Make a well in the center and pour in the lemon juice mixture.
- Using a fork, mix the dry ingredients into the wet. After a couple minutes you’ll have a soft dough. Fold and knead the dough gently just to pull it all together.
- Flour a work surface and turn the dough out onto it. Using your hands, pat the dough into a square shape that’s 1 inch thick. Using a knife or bench scraper, cut the dough into 1-inch squares.
- Place the nuggets on the baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes, rotating the sheets half way through the baking time, until the nuggets are golden brown. Let the nuggets cool completely and serve with honey, cheese or a cocktail.
I’ve always been a fan of mangoes. They’re sweet and a little tart and perfect for smoothies or desserts. Plus, my sons absolutely love them. They ask for them every chance they get. They don’t care if they’re fresh or dried, though they prefer them fresh, and I don’t blame them.
Fresh mangoes are amazing. They’re soft and sweet and melt in your mouth. So, you can understand how excited both my sons and I were when we received a batch of Keitt Mangoes from my friends over at Melissa’s Produce. The Keitts are unlike any mango I’ve ever had before. First off they’re huge! They easily weigh at least a couple pounds, and they’re so soft. When they’re ripe, they really do melt in your mouth. The reason these green beauties are so immense is because unlike other mangoes, the Keitts are left on the tree longer. That way you can eat them as soon as they’re plucked from the branches. The fact that the yellow flesh is less fibrous than other varieties make them ideal for blending into smoothies or cocktails or even popsicles. So, that’s what I did.
A few months ago I discovered a classic Indian drink called a mango lassi which is very popular during those humid Indian summer months. It’s super easy to make and quite refreshing. But while it’s delicious as a drink, I thought it would be even better frozen and served up as a popsicle.
These popsicles are creamy, sweet delights that are ideal for those warm remaining days of summer. While any fresh mango can work, the Keitt’s are the perfect choice thanks to their silky, smooth flesh. They blend up beautifully, and I’ll definitely be using, eating and blending them up again as long as I can get them.
Mango Lassi Popsicles (adapted from the Flavorful Shortcuts to Indian/Pakistani Cooking)
- 1 (6 oz.) container of lemon yogurt
- 1 cup fresh mango, chopped
- 6 oz. non-fat milk
- 1 cup ice
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- Pour all the ingredients into a blender and blend for several seconds until totally combined.
- Pour the contents of the blender into a popsicle mold. Add sticks and freeze for at least 5 hours or overnight.
- When ready to serve, remove the popsicles from the mold and enjoy.
Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. Melissa’s Produce provided me with the Keitt Mangoes for recipe testing. As always, any opinion expressed is my own and is not influenced in any way by the manufacturer/PR firm as I only review products that I have personally tested and endorse.