Tag Archives: Italian cooking

Carrot Souffle Heals All

Is  the saying that Spring is itself eternal or is it hope? When neither seems definite, me and my girl wait out the changing seasons in the kitchen. I like when new beginnings are on the cusp, so to me, the Spring tease and cold days are very welcome. The  cool evenings of March and sporadic tulips are a welcome contrast to the monotony of a full-blown season.  Everything is more exciting when it is ABOUT to happen.

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Mini me learning the ropes!
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I LOVE this dish.

Food cravings in these in-between moments are even more adventurous. Depending on where you live, the greens, golds, reds, and yellows of spring are slowly emerging. When it comes to culinary fare, Spring tends to lighten itself up. But, I find myself still clinging to darker fall flavors. I am fickle, choosing is painful for me.

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Spring peeks out!

Me and mini me have had some unique menus this month. Pear risottos, deep carrot souffles, rice salads and artichokes are abound in every way possible. March invites kale greens, but steeped in fall’s comfort foods. Pictured is mini me making our lightened carrot soufflé. We used about 2 lbs of organic carrots; cut them, steamed them, and pureed them with half a stick of melted butter. Then we mixed in 2 tablespoons of maple syrup, fresh cinnamon, a touch of nutmeg, 2 cage free eggs, half and half,  2 tb of coconut flour, 1 tp of baking powder, vanilla and 1 tp of kosher salt. We Mixed everything together very well, and baked it at 350 for 40 minutes in a well buttered casserole dish. The result is reminiscent of pumpkin pie, without the calories. You can add additional sugar, but I think the maple syrup is plenty. A good tablespoon of raw honey would be a nice touch. We paired our soufflé with a simple chicken piccata and kale salad.

In another month, menus will delve deep into light Spring fare, but for now,  relish in enjoying two simultaneous seasons at once!

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This work by menaanne.wordpress.com is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

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Lighter Pho Fare with Mini Me

wpid-2015-01-28_18.46.00.jpgMidweek, me and mini me try something out of our comfort zone to break up the monotony of our staple recipes. Routine bores me.  The chill factor climbed for us this month and heavy comfort foods are not comforting for my thighs! Sacrificing flavor for tight jeans is not my style either, so I found  a way to take my Italian cravings to the far east.

With some organic pork and ginger, our love for meatballs met my love for Vietnamese Pho.  While this traditional noodle soup is filled with mixed meats and seafood, portions can be heavy and the flavors can sometimes overwhelm each other.

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Isn’t She Lovely? Lighter Lasagna

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Often lasagna is like  a beautiful Italian woman in a tight red dress. She may look like a siren, but she may be good for you too.  Italians are known for overdoing it. We are impulsive, impetuous, extreme, but passionate. In the kitchen our personality is in full force all the time. Nothing is off-limits.

The new year is about shedding many things. In an attempt to embrace a new life.. ..I also let go of the calories and fat in my traditional Christmas Eve lasagna. Basically anything that does not add to your lasagna, needs to be left out. Sounds simple but it does wonders.

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Risotto Stuffed Tomatoes: Heaven!

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As mini me gets older, I find our closest times are almost always in the kitchen, or at the kitchen table. As a young girl I dreamed of that mother-child connection, especially over a family meal. Having my girl gave me that long awaited opportunity.
I take every chance to spend time in the kitchen with her, teaching her a new culinary skill. Nothing makes me feel more like a woman than preparing a meal and passing along tradition.

Tomatoes, in all forms are one of our favorite summer treats. Roma, yellow, green, tomatillos, beef, cherry; you name it, we love them all. When I am not stewing and pressing tomatoes for our homemade sauce I use them as little baskets to hold a gluttonous treat. What better way to push the envelope than to nest a creamy risotto inside their walls.

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With or Without You: Guilt-Free Baking

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Simple ingredients often fuse together and create a rare foodie surprise. The basics bring out unmatched flavor and passion. What better place to sharpen your minimalist skills than in the kitchen!

Going flour-less ( when possible) is one way to do it– my flour-less banana chocolate chip muffins sans the carbs is heaven for the hips and heart. Nothing beats when gluttony meets healthy. These petite muffins are full of fiber, potassium, healthier glucose, and powerful antioxidants. So, have another.. and another ! Then, go outside and jump in a pile of leaves:)

This oat-hearty treat can fix a sweet tooth, but also pair as a brunch favorite. Anyone who knows me, knows I love BRUNCH. I am always looking for ways that me and mini me can satisfy late morning cravings. We found it. After much tweaking, we perfected this little morsel, and it is now a fall staple!

Using steel oats might seem grainy, but the texture is unmatched. If you want something less filling, you can blend simple oats until they are smooth.

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An Italian Fall

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Being in the kitchen is heaven to me. If I have one regret it is that I did not go to culinary school and share my passion for food with the world. But, for now, it is a family affair!

Me and mini have wrestled with time lately, but one area we never let slip away is our meals! This week I showed her how I make one of many different variations of our Sicilian meatballs. Our sauce was our own, and made with crushed tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, basil leaves, half a cup of wine and a roasted red pepper puree. I make a lot and freeze it so it is ready to go.

These meatballs are a little different, and I adore anything out of the norm. I use veal , pork, chicken and beef. Then we dipped three pieces of bread in milk, wrung them out, tore them up and added the to the meat. We needed two eggs. Then, about a cup of romano cheese, a tablespoon of brown sugar, crushed red pepper, and chopped currants or raisins. Yes, raisins! ( No one will know they are there..you need to chop them very fine). We minced 4 cloves of garlic and grated half of a red onion into the mix. I always use a coarse sea salt, fresh pepper and dried basil.

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Fresh and Simple Summers

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Me and mini me have been enjoying every sprouting food market within a 60 mile radius this season and I love it. To me, nothing heals the mind better than love and food. Seeing the pride of growers, cultivators, creators and area cooks inspires me.  My life recently has been full of a lot of new colors, flavors and aromas. All of this has reawakened stalled dreams and brought new life even into my kitchen. What better way to celebrate this heightened sense of awareness and passion than with a simple, bright meal.

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How Sweet It is!

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Mini me shows me how it is done! Her simple blueberry pie
is a healthier version of the usual sugar laden staple. We use nothing but fresh blueberries, honey, lemon juice, lemon zest with a touch of starch to hold our little piece of heaven together. This one crust version, is complete with mini me’s light wheat crust. For a sweet touch, she always puts a heart somewhere in our baking. Love. Love. Love.

Pasta Pomodoro!

My recent ventures to some local and not-so-local markets has had me  and mini me eating well ! A well fed body and heart is all we  really need. Check, I have both covered! I made sure to pick up some fresh pasta from a small family eatery this weekend. Me and mini me do roll our own pasta, but we need to really try to infuse our variety. These new flavors have us inspired!20140523-233333.jpg

This week, I experimented with a red pepper cappellini, spinach fettuccini, and garlic-chive spaghetti .. so many possibilities. These fresh rolled bundles balance perfectly together.  Like the yin and yang of love, the flavors complement and enhance the fabulous union!

The art of bringing out their uniqueness, without masking their qualities can be challenging. When I want to enhance and not cloak..I turn to my homemade lemon-olive oil. I use a rich extra virgin olive oil  and 6 meyer lemons to create an oil that quickly infuses flavor without overdoing it. I store bottles of it and use it for skin care and culinary exploits.

I cooked 6 roma tomatoes, 3 cloves of garlic, a shallot, sea salt, crushed red pepper and a handful of capers in about 4 tablespoons of the oil. Once the tomatoes started to cook down, I added 8 torn basil leaves and 1/4 cup of fresh Romano.  When mixed together, I used tongs to create little nests of each flavor.  With some simple grilled chicken and a lemon vinaigrette, it was heaven. Close to it anyway!
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This work by menaanne.wordpress.com is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

Sassy Shrimp Scampi

 

There is nothing quite as bright as the hue of meyer lemons hanging over the Amalfi Coast. And every time I make our simple lemon basil shrimp, I feel like me and mini me have escaped to a land where cobalt blue meets canary yellow. We can dream, can’t we?

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The healing properties of lemon are innumerable, almost as innumerable as new love. This week, I’ve  been fighting a cold that is wreaking havoc on my mood and my nose, so I needed to call in the big guns !

I wandered through a small city market this weekend and found some beautiful meyer lemons, some ginger juice, incredible pastas, herbs and some fresh lettuce.

For the moment, I live in a landlocked town:( And I truly can’t stand it. I have always lived near the water or in pretty close proximity to a coast. It is challenging to find fresh seafood here. However, the city market was abound with well priced  fisherman stands and I made sure to stock up on some fresh shrimp.

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For our simple lemon basil shrimp, me and mini me used the juice of 3 meyer lemons, olive oil, sea salt, white pepper and oregeno. This is our basic marinade . It is important to let the shrimp sit in the marinade for at least two hours. Then we drain ig. We lay the shrimp in a baking dish lined with olive oil, and zest 1 lemon over the shrimp. We then chop three cloves of garlic in a bowl with a half cup of planko, two cubed tablespoons of butter and 5-7 torn basil leaves.  Take the dry mix and spread it evenly over the shrimp. We add crushed red pepper to taste  and some  shredded fontina. Simply cook it at 425 for 15 minutes until the shrimp is cooked through.

This is a light dish and is perfect with couscous and a bright spinach salad! Perfecto!

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This work by menaanne.wordpress.com is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.