Archives for June 2011

Orange you Lovely!






Happy Thursday all,
I have good news…it’s almost Friday and for most of you that means the weekend is almost here…not to mention a 3 day weekend for those of you celebrating the 4th of July! I myself am absolutely ecstatic and cannot wait to celebrate. I just love celebrating the 4th…I mean what better way to celebrate the United States’ independence parading around in red,white, and blue, shooting off fireworks, watching neighborhood parades, and having a down home family barbecue in the backyard. Did I mention I love the 4th? Get ready for a tasty 4th recipe coming up this weekend! To celebrate Thursday, I thought I would make myself a cake. A while ago I mentioned a lady named Elana Amsterdam, the voice behind Elana’s Pantry, a gluten-free blog that I absolutely love! Anyhow, my sister is coming to visit this weekend so I thought I would make her something she can eat. She has a tendency to go to family events where she cannot eat anything but a plate of veggies because she is allergic to everything under the sun. Not to mention, it doesn’t help that my family is Italian, so normally at our gatherings the only thing you can find is a loaf of garlic bread, a pot of pasta, and meatballs rolled with breadcrumbs. Not so good for little miss Leslie who is allergic to gluten! Naturally, I turned to Elana’s blog for a good “snacking” cake. I have created a lemon cake before, but when I found Elana’s recipe for her Orange Cake, I knew I just had to try it. To me, summer just screams citrus fruits, so I decided that I might as well use these fruits to the best of my ability while I can. This is odd, seeing as I absolutely detest orange juice, and I rarely have a craving for oranges, yet the picture of the cake on Elana’s blog looked irresistable…so I caved. This cake is super dense, and not to mention, super simple to make. You just throw all the ingredients in your food processor or blender, give it a whirl, pop it into the oven, and bam…Orange Cake. I hope you all enjoy Elana’s recipe and once again, a big thank you to Elana for catering to the gluten-free community with her delicious recipes.

Gluten-Free Orange Cake (adapted from Elana’s Pantry):

Ingredients:
2 oranges
4 eggs
3/4 c. agave nectar
2 cups blanched almond flour
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. baking soda
powdered sugar, for dusting

Instructions:
1. Wash the oranges and boil them whole (peel and all) for 1 1/2 hours (or until soft).
2. Place the whole oranges (peel and all) into a food processor and blend until smooth.
3. Process in eggs, agave, almond flour, salt, and baking soda until well blended.
4. Bake at 375 F for 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean.
5. Cool in the pan for two hours.
6. Cut into 8 slices and dust each slice with 1 tsp. of powdered sugar.
7. Serve.

MANGIA!!!

Wordless Wednesday

A Lovely Spread of Nectarines!

Sooooo creamy…Ciao Mr. Mascarpone!

Honey-Vanilla Mascarpone and Ricotta Cream

Melt in your mouth Good!

Ready to Serve!


Roasted Nectarines with Honey-Vanilla Mascarpone and Ricotta Cream:

Ingredients:
4 nectarines, cut in half, pitted, and sliced lengthwise
2 Tbs. granulated sugar
1/4 c. mascarpone cheese at room temperature
1/4 c. ricotta cheese
1 tsp. honey
1/2 tsp. Mexican vanilla extract

Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. Place sliced nectarines in a 9×11 baking dish.
3. Sprinkle sugar over the nectarines and toss until the nectarines are completely coated.
4. Put the nectarines in the oven and bake for 45 minutes (the sugar will melt, boil, and begin to brown).
5. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.
6. In a small bowl, mix together the cheeses, honey, and vanilla until fully incorporated.
7. Place 1/4 c. of the nectarines into 4 individual serving dishes and top each with a dollop of the cream.

*Note: For a pretty finish, grate 1 tsp. of lemon zest over each serving dish and garnish with a sprig of mint!

MANGIA!!!

Some News and a Quick Recipe!!!

The Asparagus Prosciutto Mushroom Kit

The Good Stuff!

Yum!

Add a bit of basil for the finish!

Happy Tuesday all,
I am starting my week off on the right foot with some exciting news! Yesterday, I was honored to have my blog featured on my first ever guest post! You can check out my guest post on Life and Times of Me, where I share my favorite food blog recipe on Open Mic Monday! I would also recommend subscribing to Life and Times of Me, run by my friend Kendall Smith. I met Kendall about a year ago through Sanna (you know that girl whose wedding I was in?). Anyhow, Kendall and I were both bridesmaids in the wedding and I had lots of fun getting to know her. Kendall is so sweet, and not to mention, hilarious, so after finding out about her blog, I just had to subscribe! Let me tell you, it was so worth it! I enjoy reading her stories about her everyday life! She also shares some yummy recipes and great reviews on the latest must have products! Once again, follow her: you won’t be sorry! Also, big thanks to Kendall for featuring Mangia on her blog! Moving on, yesterday I went to Central Market in search of something to make for dinner. I wasn’t exactly in the mood to make anything complicated so I bought some garlic-lemon marinated chicken breasts, which were pretty amazing. As I was searching for a side dish, I stumbled upon an area of the store that offers in-house cooking kits for quick and innovative cooking. I was excited that I had found a solution to my weeknights where I just feel too lazy to create a new recipe. I was in the mood for some vegetables so I grabbed the Asparagus Prosciutto Mushroom Kit. Let me tell you, this recipe is absolutely delicious, not to mention cheap ($4.99 for a huge 4 person serving) and quick! I absolutely love prosciutto (especially with cantaloupe and watermelon…this is a recipe for another day), and it pairs so well with the sauteed mushrooms and asparagus, adding a salty flavor, along with a crispy texture! Of course, I had to make the dish my own so I added a little bit of the good stuff we drank at Sanna and Rich’s wedding, Bottega Petalo Moscato Sparkling Wine. This stuff is the bomb, get.some.now! Then I had a glass…or two! I hope you all enjoy this recipe and remember that once in a while, it’s okay to let the grocery store provide you with some tasty meal ideas!

Asparagus Prosciutto Mushroom Saute:

Ingredients:
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 Tbs. garlic, minced
1 shallot, finely diced
2 pieces of prosciutto
1/2-1 c. of sliced mushrooms
1 small bundle of asparagus spears
1/4 c. Bottega Petalo Moscato Sparkling Wine (or any good sweet white wine that you can find)

Instructions:
1. Heat saute pan over medium high heat.
2. Add olive oil, butter and garlic and heat for 30 seconds or just until butter bubbles and garlic begins to cook.
3. Add shallot and continue cooking for 30 seconds.
4. Add the prosciutto and cook for 30 seconds.
5. Add the mushrooms and cook until mushrooms have cooked all the way through (color will turn a darker shade of brown), approximately 3-4 minutes.
6. Add asparagus and mix all ingredients well. Cover with lid and let cook for 3-4 minutes or until asparagus has cooked to your liking.
7. Add wine and bring to a simmer for 2-3 minutes.
8. Serve immediately (garnish with fresh basil leaves and freshly grated Parmesan cheese).

Note: For a meal, I would toss this veggie saute with a bowl of penne pasta.

MANGIA!!!

A Wedding to Remember and A Cookie Recipe!

Cookies!!!

One Perfect Cookie!

Tower of Goodness!

Did I say Yum?

Walking down the aisle

The Gorgeous Bride

The Lovely Bridesmaids

Yours Truly

The Happy Couple

Getting my Grub On

Kendall and I (She has a great blog)

Best Friends

Sisters

Photo Booth Fun!

The end.

Happy Friday all,
I apologize that I have taken all week to post, but I have been recovering from some over-the-weekend wedding festivities: my best friend Sanna’s wedding. Now, let me tell you, this wedding did not come about overnight. Sanna and her husband, Rich/Clint (short story is his name is Richard Clinton, some people call him Rich and some people call him Clint), got engaged last June on a boat cruise with Sanna’s family. From the moment that I answered the phone call and from the tone in Sanna’s voice, she was surprised when I guessed that Rich had proposed. I just knew it! We were both overcome with excitement…I even started jumping up and down as though we were in the same room together…bahaha! I was even more excited when she asked me to be her Maid of Honor. Now, I knew the M.O.H. title came with a ton of responsibility, but with the history that Sanna and I have, I was determined to go the extra mile to make her wedding day flawless. Now, if you know Sanna, she is a definite romantic, as well as a planner, two of the best qualities to have. That being said, she planned to have the wedding a year from the engagement. After 12 months, 1 engagement party, 1 bridal extravaganza, 4 bridal showers, 1 rehearsal dinner (and some karaoke fun afterwards), and a couple of bride-zilla moments, we finally survived (I mean…made it) to the wedding day. Let me tell you, 12 months of planning was ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY worth it! The wedding was magical, like something you only hear about in fairy tales. The ceremony was held in an outdoor pavilion, overlooking a gorgeous lake surrounded by billowing oak trees swaying in the wind. The entire wedding party had made it down the aisle, now all that was left was the bride. Sanna arrived in a bright red classic car, and from the moment that she stepped onto the pavement, my heart sank. All I can say is, I hope that I look as beautiful as she did on her wedding day. I held back tears as her father escorted her down the aisle. The ceremony was short and sweet and then we spent the rest of the evening dancing the night away (and having some of the best champagne on planet earth). Sanna and Rich have found TRUE LOVE and I wish them all of the happiness in the world. Oh, I just love weddings. On another note, today I have a quick and yummy cookie recipe for y’all. Let’s just say that I made these last night and I have less than half of the batch left. Oops!

Almond Coconut Delight Cookies:

Makes about 14 cookies

Ingredients:
1/4 c. grapeseed oil
1/4 c. agave nectar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 c. almond flour
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 c. chopped walnuts
1/2 c. shredded coconut
1/4 c. golden raisins

Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. Using an electric mixer, combine oil, agave, and vanilla.
3. In a large mixing bowl, combine almond flour, sea salt, baking soda, walnuts, coconut, and golden raisins.
4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix thoroughly.
5. Drop the batter by rounded tablespoons onto a cookie sheet sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.
6. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown around the edges. Cool on a wire rack and serve.
MANGIA!!!

Happy Father’s Day!!!

Roasted Walnuts

Love these Raisins!

Honey-Wheat Bread

Now with a bit of Cinnamon Raisin Walnut Butter

Egg mixture

The bread takes an egg bath

Yummy Cinnamon Raisin Walnut Butter

Toasting in the pan

Up close and personal

Photo finish

Happy Thursday all,
I know it’s a bit early, but I wanted to post my recipe for Father’s Day today. I am celebrating Father’s Day today on my blog because this weekend my best friend is getting married and I am going to be partying it up Friday-Sunday! Anyway, today I just wanted to give thanks to God for my Dad! Some of the fondest memories I have growing up are of cooking with my Dad in the kitchen. Since I was a young girl, my father has always placed an emphasis on cooking together as a family. Whether it was grilling hamburgers and hot dogs on a hot summer day, or whipping up a big pot of homemade tomato sauce and meatballs, my Dad was the man behind the magic. I mean how many guys do you know who can design and build swimming pools, repair automobiles, motorcycles, and household appliances, while at the same time stitching up a pair of jeans and cooking a four-course meal? That’s my Dad! I’d like to give some credit to him for my interest in cooking, well maybe all the credit! One thing my Dad does very well in the kitchen is breakfast. From cream of wheat, to pancakes, waffles, omelets, and oatmeal, he is the breakfast man. When I was young, I could always expect a big stack of silver dollar pancakes for my birthday breakfast…and of course, he would always put a candle in the middle of the pancakes. However, my favorite breakfast that my Dad makes is his french toast. To this day, I still believe that my Dad makes the best french toast in the world. Now, this isn’t a fancy-schmancy french toast made with brioche bread and drizzled with Vermont maple syrup. We are talking about my Dad, not Ina Garten, people! So, today I have decided to be the chef and in honor of Father’s Day, I have created my own recipe for french toast, and I did get a little fancy by making my own nut butter. Thank you to all the father’s out there on Father’s Day, and a special thank you to my Dad for his love and hard work! I love you Dad! I hope that you all enjoy my French Toast stuffed with Homemade Cinnamon Raisin Walnut Butter.

French Toast stuffed with Homemade Cinnamon Raisin Walnut Butter:

Ingredients:

For the Cinnamon Raisin Walnut Butter:
2 c. walnuts
1/4 c. raisins
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla extract

For the French Toast:
2 slices of bread
2 Tbs. of cinnamon raisin walnut butter
1 egg
1/4 c. milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. cinnamon

Instructions:

For the Cinnamon Raisin Walnut Butter:
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Spread walnuts on a 9×13 baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool for 20 minutes or so.
2. Place roasted walnuts in a food processor and process for 10 minutes, occasionally scraping down the sides.
3. Add remaining ingredients and begin processing again.
4. Process until smooth, occasionally scraping down the sides, about 3-5 more minutes.

For the French Toast:
1. Spread 1 Tbs. of cinnamon raisin walnut butter on each slice of bread and sandwich together.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, vanilla, and cinnamon.
3. Dip the bread into the egg mixture, coating well on both sides.
4. Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat.
5. Add the french toast to the pan and cook well on both sides, turning only once, about 5 minutes on each side or until golden brown.

MANGIA!!!