Showing posts with label sotasty. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sotasty. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Feta & Avocado Dip

This dip is one of the easiest and most delicious recipes you will ever learn. It is perfect to have in your back pocket just in-case of last minute company, or if you avocado's are perfectly ripe  and you have 5 minutes before they go bad! At first I wasn't sure how well avocado and feta would mesh, but then I thought about tacos and I love both on tacos so I gave it a try. I made this dip earlier this summer for a wonderful winery picnic Kev and I had. The directions are super easy and it takes minutes to make!

Directions & Ingredients:
Puree together 1 sliced avocado, 3/4 cup feta cheese, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil, with a small amount of salt & cracked pepper to taste in blender or food processor. This is perfect served with bread and veggie sticks.
Such a perfect day at Nashoba Valley Winery with my Feta & Avocado dip 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Healthy Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins with Cider Hill Farm

So if you follow me in instagram, (if you don't ,you should) you saw that I spent my day picking tons of blueberries and raspberries at Cider Hill Farm in Amesbury, MA.  The farm began in 1978 and is still being run by the same amazing family. They grow fruits and veggies on 70 of their 145 acres and many of those are pick your own (my fav).  Their goal has always been to provide the best quality food they can to their customers and man have they accomplished that goal. With the "food movement" booming and people starting to realize how important it is to shop local this farm will quickly become a must visit for you and your family. You all should know how much of a sucker I am for farms and gardening by now but in my opinion Cider Hill is dreamy. The farm store itself is worth the trip. Tons of fresh veggies, fresh bakery (with apple cider doughnuts), local meats & other gifts and goodies. You could spend a whole day just walking around. They have something for every season blueberry picking, peach picking, apple picking you name it! Cider Hill Farm is perfect for a family trip or if you are like me a nice stress free day of relaxing and picking blueberries for the perfect breakfast recipe. I picked enough fruit to last me all summer and the raspberries and blueberries have been amazing in my morning shakes too! 
I am sharing a healthy blueberry muffin recipe, using some of the juiciest blueberries I picked at Cider Hill Farm. I love this recipe and its perfect for us in the morning when we are both trying to get up and out the door. These and a fruit smoothie are the perfect way for me to start my morning, especially when those mornings have been starting around 5am lately, I need some serious fuel to get me through the day. I got this recipe from Cooking Light and I made some adjustments, like adding vanilla extract because I love it, so as always you can adjust these recipes to your liking and you can also double it if you want to make them for  your whole family. I substituted the whole -wheat flour with coconut flour because I had it handy and the buttermilk for some regular milk we had in the fridge, I also used cupcake tins for easy on the go wrapping. They came out delicious..clearly, pictured above if I do say so myself.

1 2/3 cups quick-cooking oats
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour (or coconut flour) 
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt 
1 1/2 cups low-fat buttermilk (or regular milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup canola oil 
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind 
2 large eggs 
2 cups frozen blueberries
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Cooking spray 
2 tablespoons granulated sugar 

1. Heat oven to 400°
2. Place oats in the food processor; pulse 5-6 times or until oats resemble coarse meal, Place in a large bowl. 
3. Spoon flour into dry measuring cups, add all dry ingredients (through salt) to the oats in the bowl and stir well. Make a well in the center for the wet ingredients.
4.  Combine milk and next three ingredients (through eggs). Add to flour mixture and stir until just combined. 
5. Toss berries with 2 tablespoons flour and gently fold into the batter. Spoon batter into muffin cups coated with cooking spray or into cupcake cups. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons granulated sugar (optional).
6. Bake for 20 min or until golden brown. Remove from pants and allow to cool on wire rack
7. Enjoy, they are perfect for an on-the-go weekday breakfast

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Cold Shrimp Salad with Feta & Pistacios

Remember this salad I made for lunch while I was in Florida? UGH take me back. I got a few requests for the recipe and finally have come around writing it all down! I never was a big fan of salad, if I did eat it, I had iceberg lettuce with a ton of ranch dressing, With age, and well my garden I have learned to appreciate and enjoy vegetables a lot more, probably because they taste so amazing when they are fresh picked! Especially lettuce, there is nothing quite like fresh lettuce, I used to pick the purple leaves out of my salads and now I won't buy lettuce up without it, unless I am just eating pure spinach, call me Popeye. I am also on a homemade vinaigrette kick, that or balsamic vinaigrette. I usually eat a salad for lunch almost every day, unless I run out of lettuce or have to eat leftovers. The only thing with salads is that you can get bored with them easily, so I always try to mix it up, I recently found honey goat cheese from Trader Joe's it makes my mouth water just talking about it. YUM!

Mixed Greens
Pistachios (shelled)
Feta Cheese
8 small shrimp
Salt & pepper
Kalamata Olives
Dried Cranberries
Balsamic Vinaigrette

Saute shrimp (tails off) in a small fry pan with a little salt & pepper, you can add a squeeze of lemon juice if you have some on hand. Let shrimp cool. You could easily replace this with chicken or steak if you are not a fan of shrimp. Add a few tablespoons of dressing to the lettuce in a medium bowl and toss. One thing I learned is not to over dress lettuce, it can totally ruin it, you can always add more, but you can't take away). Add the remaining ingredients and toss again, you can add less or more if you please. I love cheese so I always add a little too much into my salads! Place the salad onto a plate and place the shrimp on top! Enjoy!

Another new favorite salad of mine right  now is, spinach, honey goat cheese, walnuts (honey roasted use this recipe), dried cranberries & balsamic vinaigrette. So delish!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Honey Roasted Walnuts

Here is an easy recipe for an awesome snack to bring to your Easter party or a perfect ingredient for a goat cheese, cranberry, spinach and honey roasted walnut salad! Follow a few easy steps to the perfect new snack!

1 package of walnuts (either whole or chopped, your choice)
3-4 tablespoons honey
Pinch of coarse seasalt (use more or less per personal preference)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine walnuts, honey, and salt in a bowl. Toss to coat, and spread in a single layer onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake, tossing occasionally, until toasted, about 15 minutes. Let cool.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Homemade Pasta Dough

 Remember last week when I gave you my homemade ricotta recipe? Well this week I am giving you the recipe for homemade pasta dough, so that now you can make many amazing recipes, like this ravioli I made last week  and posted in instagram. To me there is nothing better than homemade pasta dough, I love fresh pasta, I could really eat it with just a bit of butter. I also don't like my pasta recipe to be too complicated, the easier the better.  I took Mario Batali's recipe and adjusted it a bit to my liking. Like I said last week, Simple & Delicious.

3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
4 extra-large eggs
Pinch of salt

Mound the flour in the center of a large wooden cutting board. Make a well in the middle of the flour, add the eggs. Using a fork, beat together the eggs and begin to incorporate the flour starting with the inner rim of the well. As you incorporate the eggs, keep pushing the flour up to retain the well shape (do not worry if it looks messy). The dough will come together in a shaggy mass when about half of the flour is incorporated.

Start kneading the dough with both hands, primarily using the palms of your hands. Add more flour, in 1/2-cup increments, if the dough is too sticky. Once the dough is a cohesive mass, remove the dough from the board and scrape up any left over dry bits. Lightly flour the board and continue kneading for 3 more minutes. The dough should be elastic and a little sticky. Continue to knead for another 3 minutes, remembering to dust your board with flour when necessary. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and set aside for 20 minutes at room temperature. Roll and form as desired.

Note: Do not skip the kneading or resting portion of this recipe, they are essential for a light pasta.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Homemade Ricotta

If you have never had homemade ricotta, you have not lived. Like seriously. I almost cried when I tasted it for the first time. I saw this recipe on one of the DVR'd episodes of Barefoot Contessa, because I am weird and DVR all of her shows and a ton of other cooking shows to binge watch, like Lidia's Italy on PBS, love her too! Anyways, I saw Ina make home made ricotta and it was SO easy, I wondered why I had never made it myself. I am addicted to cheese but my husband is lactose intolerant and doesn't really have that love for cheese I do, so my cheese intake has changed quite a bit since getting married, but for this I made him take some Lactaid and eat my ricotta anyways. I ended up using my homemade ricotta as a filling for homemade mushroom ravioli, that I will be posting the recipe for soon. I also wanted to made breakfast with the ricotta, honey and fresh fruit, but I ran out of ricotta, so I will need to make more in order to try that one. I guess I did to much "testing". I will let you know how it comes out when I do try it!

Please try this recipe, I promise it will not let you down, there is nothing better than fresh and homemade food, the older I get the more I learn to appreciate that. I also love Ina because she always says its not about complicated food, it is about good ingredients. This recipe is exactly that. Simple & Delicious. 

4 Cups whole milk
2 Cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons good white wine vinegar

Set a large sieve over a deep bowl. Dampen 2 layers of cheesecloth with water and line the sieve with the cheesecloth (they sell it tons of places, I got mine at crate and barrel)

Pour the milk and cream into a stainless-steel or enameled pot such as Le Creuset. Stir in the salt. Bring to a full boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat and stir in the vinegar. Allow the mixture to stand for 1 minute until it curdles. It will separate into thick parts (the curds) and milky parts (the whey).

Pour the mixture into the cheesecloth-lined sieve and allow it to drain into the bowl at room temperature for 20 to 25 minutes, occasionally discarding the liquid that collects in the bowl. The longer you let the mixture drain, the thicker the ricotta. (I tend to like mine on the thicker side, but some prefer it moister.) Transfer the ricotta to a bowl, discarding the cheesecloth and any remaining whey. Use immediately or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. The ricotta will keep refrigerated for 4 to 5 days.

Friday, January 16, 2015

No-Bake Energy Bites

So you need to make these balls of love this weekend, even if you are already over your new years resolution of eating healthier & if your not, these are so perfect! These are soo good I even got my husband to eat them, and like not just one, I have made three batches since I discovered these lovers. I did try a few different recipes, and this is the one that I found both of us actually enjoying and eating. The others were OK, but this one takes the cake! Not to mention, you do not bake them, you literally put the ingredients in and go. The recipe I am giving you is for one batch that makes about 15-20 bites, I doubled it the second time I made it and made around 40 bites. You can also adjust the ingredients if you like or don't like something. I kept the chocolate chips in mine, but if you are trying to be super good, you can swap them out for something like raisins.
1 cup quick oats (you can also use gluten-free oats if you want these to be gluten-free)
1/2 cup natural peanut butter (or any nut butter)
1/4 cup agave nectar (you can also use honey or maple syrup)
1 tsp. melted coconut oil
1 tbs. chia seeds
2 tbs.flax seed meal
3 tbs. mini chocolate chips
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
(Optional add-in's: raisins, nuts, dried fruit, coconut)

1. In a large bowl, mix together all of the above ingredients until well combined. Cover and refrigerate for 20-30 min.
2. Using your hands or a small metal scoop roll the balls. About 1-1/2 inch in diameter
3. Place balls into an airtight container and store in refrigerator (I add layers of wax paper to keep the layers of balls separate, but that option is optional)

1 ball - 90 calories & 5.3g of fat (as is)
I hope you enjoy this super easy, delicious and the best part, HEALTHY recipe! Let me know if you try them and how you end up liking them!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Balsamic Glazed Brussles Sprouts with Pancetta

I got my husband, yes my husband to eat Brussels sprouts with this recipe, I myself was even in question of Brussels sprouts for quite some time until I made myself this recipe a while back, now I can't get enough. If you think you don't like Brussels sprouts, but you like bacon or pancetta then you need to try this recipe. Trust me. Also, you can leave the balsamic glaze out if you or someone in your family (aka my mother) does not like balsamic. I also have a serious cheat for balsamic glaze that I will tell you about as well, its perfect for so many recipes like tomato basil and this one.
Don't forget to enjoy a glass of wine while cooking, it makes everything taste so much better.
1lb (ish) of small/medium Brussels sprouts
4 ounces pancetta cubed (adjust amount to your liking)
1/2 cup water or chicken stock
Salt & pepper to taste
1 table spoon balsamic glaze (1/4 cup balsamic) (**CHEAT: you can buy already "glazed" balsamic glaze from Trader Joe's in a squeeze bottle, its perfection, or you can be old fashion and reduce it yourself, you choose)

In a large saute pan over medium/high heat slowly cook the pancetta until golden brown (10 min). While the pancetta is browning, slice all sprouts in half. With a slotted spoon transfer the pancetta to a paper towel lined dish, and leave behind the fat, should be around 2 Tbs. Place the Brussels sprouts cut side down into the pancetta fat in one even layer into the pan. Cook undisturbed until lightly brown (about 2-3 min). When the sprouts are brown add 1/2 cup of water (or stock) and cover immediately, simmer until the sprouts are tender, test with a fork.

If you are using the Trader Joe's glaze done you are done! Add the pancetta back into the pan and add a few squirts of balsamic glaze over the sprouts and add the pancetta, then plate (salt & pepper to taste).  If you are making your own glaze, remove sprouts from the pan, add 1/4 cup balsamic into the pan with a little bit of salt & pepper, reduce down to a glaze (about 2 min). Add 1 tbs of butter, then return sprouts and pancetta to the pan and stir until sprouts are coated.
I think these Brussels sprouts are so good even our picky dog would eat them. 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Spiced Apple Cider

After the cold damn weather we had yesterday, I needed something seriously warm and comforting. I am a lover of apple cider, I love it hot, cold and more important spiced! Spiced apple cider also makes your home smell so amazing while it is brewing, its like a giant vat of plug in. I found this recipe from A Beautiful Mess a while back and it has always been my go to when it comes to spiced apple cider. I love their blog for food, DIYs and so so much more. I will continue to make this up until I turn onto my Eggnog kick, which don't worry that will come in the first few days of December. You need to try this recipe this weekend, it is the perfect beginning, middle and end to a fabulous fall weekend.
4-5 Cups of Apple Cider or Apple Juice (your choice)
1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
3 ounces spiced rum (optional // mainly on weekends!)
Cinnamon sticks
Apple slices to garnish

In a small pot or heat the cider or juice, spices and rum (if using) over low/medium heat. Stir often while the mixture is heating so the spices will blend into the juice. Once it is hot pour into mugs and garnish with apple slices and cinnamon sticks. Serve warm, and drink in front of a fire (if you have one). 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

How To Make Amazing Ribs In The Oven

Well this weekend marked the official time of year for some serious comfort food. We had our "first" snowfall of many here in MA on Sunday, while the snow didn't stick (thank goodness), it made me crave something seriously delicious. Hubby was craving ribs last weekend so when I saw these puppies on sale at the grocery store and decided I had the time so I might as well make some Sunday ribs, you all know I was not going to be standing outside making these ribs. I found this awesome recipe for ribs in the oven from The Kitchn, one of my go to websites for recipes. This recipe is a must try it was delicious and hubby approved. I made my own dry rub, but you can use which ever dry rub is your favorite. You just need a few hours and ta-dah, complete deliciousness. 
What You Need
4-5 pounds spare ribs or baby back ribs
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 cup dry spice rub (I used brown sugar, paprika, salt and pepper)
1 cup Barbecue Sauce 
Baking sheet
Aluminum foil
Cooling rack
Pastry Brush
1. Prepare the Baking Sheet: Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and set the cooling rack on top. Lay the ribs on top of the rack in a single layer. This arrangement allows for heat circulations on all sides of the ribs.
2. Season the Ribs:  Brush the ribs on both sides with the dijon mustard. Sprinkle the ribs with the dry rub and pat gently to make sure the rub adheres to the rib meat. Note: This step can be done the day ahead for a deeper flavor. Wrap the seasoned ribs in plastic wrap and refrigerate.
3. Broil the Ribs: Heat the broiler and place an oven rack a few inches below the heating element. Make sure the meaty side of the ribs is facing up. Broil the ribs for about 5 minutes, until the sugar in the dry rub is bubbling and the ribs are evenly browned.
4. Cook the Ribs: Set the oven to 300°F. Move the ribs to an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Roast for 2 1/2 to 3 hours for spare ribs or 1 1/2 to 2 hours for baby back ribs (I had spare ribs). Halfway through cooking, cover the ribs with aluminum foil to protect them from drying out.
5. Brush with Barbecue Sauce: About 30 minutes before the end of cooking, brush the ribs with barbecue sauce, re-cover with foil, and finish cooking.

6. Finish and Serve the Ribs: The ribs are done when a knife slides easily into the thickest part of the rib meat. Let them rest, covered, for about ten minutes, and then cut between the bones to separate the individual ribs. Serve immediately with extra barbecue sauce for dipping, a nice ice cold Sam Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale and a good football game. A roaring fire wouldn't hurt either!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Honey Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

In lieu of Halloween today I decided to share a recipe for the adults tonight and give you a suggestions for what to do do with your pumpkin seeds. There are a ton of different things you can do, and you can go in the salty direction, spicy, or sweet. Since hubby and I are not much into spicy I decided to go down the sweet & salty direction because well you cant really go wrong. I found this recipe from The Clever Carrot and I promise it could not get easier. 
Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 30 min

  • 2 c. pumpkin seeds (about 2 small pumpkins), cleaned
  • 2 tsp. pumpkin seed oil or olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. runny honey
  • flaky sea salt, such as Maldon

  1. Preheat your oven to 325 F.
  2. Cut open your pumpkins. Remove the pulp and stringy bits from the seeds and pat dry with a kitchen towel. Make sure that there is no remaining moisture.
  3. In a large wide skillet, warm the oil over medium heat and saute the pumpkin seeds until lightly golden, about 3 minutes.
  4. Add the honey and stir with a rubber spatula.
  5. Transfer the skillet to the oven. Roast for about 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally so that they do not burn.
  6. Taste one of the seeds. You want them crispy throughout, and not soft in the center. Continue to cook if necessary.
  7. When finished, tip the seeds out onto a parchment lined or non stick baking sheet to cool.
  8. While hot, sprinkle with salt to taste (if using Maldon, make sure to pinch the salt between your fingers to break up the flakes).
  9. Enjoy with ice cold beer.

If you really wanted to make this easy on yourself you could buy already roasted salted pumpkin seeds, and then roast them for just a few min with the honey and then sprinkle a small amount of salt just for an extra crunch! I also heated my honey up in the microwave for 25 seconds to get it to be a little more runny. Happy Halloween! Enjoy!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

How To Make A Cheap Bottle Of Wine Taste Amazing

So I am sitting here at a bar in Germany next to a man who is insisting on trying every wine the bartender has to offer, and is disapproving of each and everyone, mind you he is speaking German and I am not 100% sure of every word, but I know enough of the language to know what no sounds like... So, in lieu of this moment I have decided to share this post I read last week with you from my all time favorite blog Cupcakes & Cashmere. Hubs and I have recently fallen in serious love with wine. Well mainly my hubby, lets be honest I have always loved wine, while he always poo poo'd it because he thought it was a "girly" drink. I finally got him to try some, more than one sip and he fell in love (ok maybe a glass)! We try to frequent wineries in the area and drink wine now almost every night, but of course who has the money to only drink good wine, it seems like a waste of money especially when you are eating turkey tacos on a Tuesday. I have spent many months "testing" all of the the Trader Joe's wines and have fallen in love with many bottles that cost any where from $2.99 to $14.99 (for when we are feeling fancy). I have been "working on" aka drinking wine and taking photos of them all, so I promise I will share this soon. I have of course had the chance to try some very "fancy" and delicious wine in Germany and/or that my brother and dad have purchased for a good family dinner. Now don't get me wrong it is delicious, but until we hit the lotto,  I am going to keep drinking my $10 wine and share with you the post from my favorite blogger Emily & her advice from Sommeiler at Faith & Flower, Jared Hooper on how to make a cheap bottle of wine taste amazing!

1. Decant, even if you don't have a decanter. "I’m a freak for decanting. I think most wines open up and show their charm from some time in a decanter, but if you don't have one, any old pitcher will do. Half the fun is going back to the wine after a couple of hours to see if it's changed (it's kind of like checking a Polaroid picture to see if it's developed). Everything is better with a little bit of air. The exception to this rule: Don't decant old and delicate wines because if you give them air, they can go over the hill too fast. You're giving a wine oxygen, so it's the same concept as leaving a half-eaten apple on the table." 
2. Find the right help. "I firmly believe in finding the right help. A wine shop that you have a good rapport with will help you to find the right thing. There are people who run and work in shops that really care about what they do. If you have a relationship with them, you'll begin to develop your special language. Wine doesn't have to be expensive to be good, so they'll learn what you like, and keep you in mind when they taste a new batch."
3. Look for a specific region. "My current favorite region that is over-delivering for the price is Beaujolais Cru. I have many of these wines on my list that outdrink other wines at three times the cost."
4. Chill your wine. "Chill down the bottles, yes, even reds."
5. The occasion speaks to your wine. "If you're having an easy-going pizza night with wine, and the Dodgers just won, then the wine is going to taste fantastic. So, an inexpensive bottle can work wonders depending on the scenario. Don't be scared to purchase an inexpensive bottle for a low-key event."
6. Find the flavor you love. "The most important lesson to internalize, is that YOU have the most important palate in the world, you are the one tasting. Trust yourself, but never be afraid to open up to new tastes!"
Some of this advice seems to be obvious, but much of is so so true, we did not decant wine before this but when you do, I promise you will see a difference, we just need to buy a pretty decanter now that we are such vino's. We also never chilled our wine, I just chilled whites, I mean dah, but boy oh boy, it totally makes a difference, if you like your red wine "warmer" stick it in the fridge, take it out and decant it, by the time it is ready it is perfection. The more we try the better we get. So guess we must keep on drinking, poor us! Do any of you have any suggestions on "cheap" wine that you could totally trick even the biggest wine snob with? Or have any other suggestions? I would love to hear them!!  
Here are some other good articles on Trader Joe's Wine's if you are interested (1, 2, 3, 4, 5
(Photo Credit: 1, 2)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Homemade larabar recipe

I first bought a LaraBar from Trader Joe's a while back, but then soon realized how damn expensive they are. I read the ingredients on the back and realized I could totally make them myself, come to find out other people looking to save a little money had the same idea! The first time I made these I fell in love, they are easy to package and take with you, and you can make them in large batches. Also at Trader Joe's you can buy the dried fruit and nuts in large quantities for pretty reasonable prices. I originally got this recipe from here, then just made my own tweaks and adjustments from there. Below are the ingredients and directions I used, feel free to make your own adjustments, there are also a ton of variations if you scroll all the way down to the bottom!

Cherry pie larabars
 Nonstick cooking spray or mild vegetable oil for the pan
1 cup packed dried cherries
1/4 cup packed, pitted, soft whole dates
1 cup warm water
1 cup raw almonds
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt (optional)
1. Line a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap and spray with nonstick cooking spray or slick with a touch of oil.

2. Combine the cherries, dates, and warm water in a small bowl. (If the dried fruit you are using is already super soft and moist, you can skip the soaking step.) Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes, until the fruit is soft. The exact timing will vary according to the dryness of the fruit. Drain the fruit and pat it dry with paper towels.

3. Meanwhile, place the almonds in a food processor and process until finely chopped but not pastelike. Add the drained fruit, cinnamon, and salt (if using). Pulse the ingredients until the fruit is finely chopped and blended and the Larabar mixture begins to stick together and clump against the sides of the bowl and your processor starts hopping on the counter just a little bit. This could take up to 2 minutes or so.

4. Transfer the Larabar mixture to the prepared pan. Place a large piece of parchment paper, wax paper, or plastic wrap coated with nonstick cooking spray or slicked with a touch of oil atop the bar mixture and use it to spread and flatten the mixture evenly in the pan. Leave the paper or plastic wrap in place. (Alternatively, form the mixture into any size or shape you like, such as balls or mini bars.) Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

5. Using the paper or plastic lining the pan, lift the bar mixture from the pan and transfer it to a cutting board. Uncover and cut into 6 bars. Tightly wrap each bar in plastic wrap. The bars will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days, in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks, or in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months (let the frozen bars thaw for 1 hour before consuming).
Dark Chocolate Brownie Larabars
Prepare the bars according to the above recipe, substituting the following ingredients: 1 cup packed, pitted, soft whole dates, 1 cup warm water, 1/2 cup raw almonds, 1/2 cup raw walnuts, 3 tablespoons bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate, 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, and 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt (optional).
Apple Pie Larabars (Photographed above)
Prepare the bars according to the above recipe, substituting the following ingredients: 1 cup dried apples, 1/4 cup packed, pitted, soft whole dates, 1 cup warm water, 1 cup raw pecans or walnuts, 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, and 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt (optional).

Cashew Cookie Larabars
Prepare the bars according to the above recipe, substituting the following ingredients: 1 1/4 cups packed, pitted, soft whole dates, 1 cup warm water, 1 cup raw cashews, 3 tablespoons bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips (optional), and 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt (optional).

Peanut Cookie Dough Larabars
Prepare the bars according to the above recipe, substituting the following ingredients: 1 1/4 cups packed, pitted, soft whole dates, 1 cup warm water, 1 cup raw peanuts, 3 tablespoons bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips (optional), and 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt (optional).

PB & J Larabars
Prepare the bars according to the above recipe, substituting the following ingredients: 1/2 cup packed dried cherries, 3/4 cup packed, pitted, soft whole dates, 1 cup warm water, 1 cup raw or roasted peanuts, 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt (optional).

Cappuccino Larabars
Prepare the bars according to the above recipe, substituting the following ingredients: 1 1/4 cups packed, pitted, soft whole dates, 1 cup warm water,1/2 cup raw almonds, 1/2 cup raw cashews, 1 tablespoon roasted coffee beans, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt (optional).

Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Larabars
Prepare the bars according to the above recipe, substituting the following ingredients: 1 cup raisins, 1 cup warm water, 3/4 cup raw cashews, 3/4 cup old-fashioned or quick-cooking rolled oats, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt (optional).

Blueberry Cobbler Larabars
Prepare the bars according to the above recipe, substituting the following ingredients: 1 cup packed dried blueberries, 1/4 cup packed, pitted, soft whole dates, 1 cup warm water, 3/4 cup raw walnuts or raw pecans, 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats, 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (preferably organic), and 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt (optional).

Monday, August 11, 2014

Yellow Hearts at the Connecticut Wine Trail

Top: Forever 21 (old) / Shorts: American Eagle / Clutch: TJMaxx / Shoes: DSW / Necklace: Sheinside 

If you live in Connecticut, or even driving distance, like us, I have a great summer & fall activity for you! There are thirty-three amazing vineyards all over CT on the Connecticut Wine Trail. We spent last Sunday touring three of the thirty-three, and made a plan to visit the additional thirty before the end of the season. That's a lot of wine and I can not wait!! Not to mention, the CT Wine Trail, has a "passport" where you get a stamp at each vineyard you go to and if you go to all of them you have the chance to win a two week trip to Spain for two! UM YES PLEASE!

The three wineries we were able to get to were, Sunset Meadow VineyardsMiranda Vineyard, and Haight-Brown Vineyards. Three down thirty to go. It was such a beautiful day, not to hot, not to cold, the wineries were not too crowded, which was perfect. Some of my standout favorites where from Sunset Meadow, the 2008 reserve Merlot and we got a bottle of the Cayuga White. So delicious. There is nothing more relaxing than sitting on a porch, with a glass of wine, some cheese and great friends. The boys may have not been as into the wine as we were, but we will work on them, thirty vineyards left, they will love wine by winter!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Lobster Mac and Cheese

Happy hump day all -- A few weeks ago we had a nice New England summer lobster bake, with all the fixings, lobster, corn, muscles, clams, butter, etc etc. My hubby and a friend of his went up north to get everything super fresh and it was amazing. The only down fall of lobster is it's always so much work to eat it! But, it's still so good and soo worth it, so per usual they bought so much food we couldn't eat it all and like ten pounds of lobster for four people. I am from New England and you can not let good lobster go to waist so I took all the meat out and I made some even better Lobster Mac and Cheese...oh hello loverrrr. 

How good does that look, I mean seriously, here is the recipe from I used from Ina Garten (love her). No one ever said this was a healthy recipe. Sorry I'm not sorry. 

Kosher salt
Vegetable oil

1 pound elbow macaroni
1 quart milk
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
12 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated (4 cups)
8 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 pounds cooked lobster meat
1 1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs (5 slices, crusts removed)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Drixxle oil into a large pot of boliling water. Add the pasta and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain Well

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don't boil it. In a large pot, melt 6 tablespoons of butter and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. Still whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, 1 tablespoon salt, the pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and lobster and stir well. Place the mixture in 6 to 8 individual gratin dishes.

Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, combine them with the fresh bread crumbs, and sprinkle on the top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.

Share & Enjoy! Happy Summer, make sure you take advantage of the last few weeks of summer. Fall and Winter will be back before you know it. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

red wine braised short ribs

OK. So are you guys ready for one of the easiest and most delicious red wine braised short rib recipes out there? It is literally two steps! Can you tell I really enjoy a hassle free recipe. I love to cook, but there are many things I enjoy much more than cooking, especially in the summer. My love for short ribs all started when I had these amazing short ribs with fresh pasta at a restaurant near my parents house called Carbone's Kitchen if you live in CT in that area its a great spot, you must try! {Side note: I am also not usually the kind to order heavy meat like that off a menu, man have I been missing out.}These short ribs were soo good, I had to try to recreate them. I finally found this recipe on Bon Appetit, and it was a slow cooker recipe none the less, your welcome. 

Keep reading to see how I made Red Wine Braised Short Ribs (in my slow cooker).
4 pounds boneless short ribs
coarse salt & cracked pepper
2 cups dry red wine
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 6 ounce package button mushrooms (or baby bellas)
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
6 garlic cloves, peeled
6 fresh Italian parsley sprigs
2 bay leaves
1 lb homemade pappardelle pasta
fresh crusty bread

1. Sprinkle ribs with coarse salt and pepper. Please in an even layer in slow cooker. Add next 7 ingredients (red wine, tomatoes, mushrooms,onion, garlic, bay leaves, parley) cover, and cook on low heat until meat is tender, about 8 hours,

2. Using a slotted spoon, transfer ribs to serving bowl, discard parsley and bay leaves. Spoon fat off the top of the sauce and pour sauce over ribs, Serve with fresh pasta & crusty bread

I mean, how good does that look. While I made fresh pappardelle pasta with ours but you could totally eat these with mash potatoes or even alone. My hubby liked these short ribs so much he was practically drinking the sauce out of the pot! I hope you enjoy these as much as he did. 


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

vanilla bean simple syrup

So I decided I needed a healthier alternative to my usual coffee creamer that seems to sit in the fridge for months and never go bad, how does that happen? It's milk isn't it, right? Nope no dairy? What? Anywho, the vanilla bean simple syrup I ended up making is not only good for coffee, but I used it to drizzle over angle food cake and strawberries, umm yumm. You can really make any flavor simple syrup you want, but I prefer this vanilla bean recipe for my coffee. Simple syrup is one of the easiest things to make, and is a serious kitchen staple. You can store it in a glass bottle like I did, or get one of those plastic squeeze bottles from a place like the container store. Scroll down for the easy instructions. 

1 cup sugar
1 cup water 
2 vanilla bean pods
(you can find them in most grocery stores, look in the spice section, or even better buy them fresh)
1 glass or plastic container

Step 1
pour 1 cup sugar to 1 cup water into a sauce pan over medium heat.

Step 2
stir until all the sugar dissolves

Step 3
take a knife and slice down the middle of the two vanilla pods, then using the back of your knife scrap the beans out of the pods and add them into the sauce pan. 

Step 4
stir the mixture until combine and turn off heat and let cool

Step 5 (optional)
take a cheese cloth and strain the pods and beans; you can skip this step if you want, I always add the pods back into the container instead of throwing them out and wasting them. 

Step 6
once the syrup is cool, pour into storage container, and keep until your next cup of coffee, use it with or without milk/cream.

I hope this was helpful and a super easy way to swap out something processed for something homemade. Its the small things that make the largest difference. Enjoy! 
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