Secret Recipe Club and another Meatless Monday!!!

Happy Monday all!


Today I am prepping for Thanksgiving, i.e. writing my grocery list for the batch of goodies I am making. One of those goodies includes an appetizer consisting of thinly sliced prosciutto, spread with tangy goat cheese and sweet homemade jam. I haven’t decided what kind of green veggie I am going to use in these prosciutto roll-ups, maybe slices of romaine, or maybe peppery arugula. If you have any suggestions, feel free to leave me a comment speaking your mind. Now that I have exhausted y’all with Thanksgiving chatter, let’s get on to the good stuff!


I am excited to announce that my Secret Recipe Club reveal for the month of November is Lisa, the Authentic Suburban Gourmet. Can you guess where she lives? Not in Texas, y’all. However, like myself, Lisa has a passion for the countryside (especially if it involves wine tasting…I hear ya, girl), entertaining, shopping @ Williams-Sonoma and Sur La Table (O.M.G. it’s like crack), and of course, sharing her love of food and cooking with her readers. Plus, she is from San Francisco which gives her an A++ in my book. Lisa, I am so jealous right now…so jealous! After spending hours salivating over Lisa’s scrumptious-looking recipe collection, something occurred to me. Why not make a recipe that could assist me in prepping for my Thanksgiving appetizer. Bam.boom.done deal.


Lucky for me, Lisa is the queen of condiments and has some fantastic homemade jam recipes. Anyway, her recipe for Green Fig, Peach and Balsamic Jam looked particularly delicious and it had my name written all over it! Of course I had to make it my own, and because peaches aren’t really in season right now, I decided to call up my bff, Ms. Pear, and she and I arranged for her substitution for this fabulous recipe. Ms. Pear is totally in season right now, and if you haven’t noticed, we have become quite good friends. Plus, she accents holiday meals quite well, weather it’s being drizzled in honey, or the main event of a crisp dessert tart.


I mean, how pretty is that?

Ms. Pear and Mr. Fig met for the first time today…it was magical

Also, instead of using regular sugar, I substituted brown sugar…something about brown sugar just gets me every time. Plus, I totally forgot sugar at the grocery store and brown sugar was all I had on hand. Anyway, I made the old switcheroo and bada-bing, the pears and figs complimented each other very nicely, while the balsamic vinegar added an extra kick of flavor and a smidgen of sweetness to the jam.
This is what happens when pears and figs make a baby…glorious jam!

Love me some crackers and jam!


I lightly processed the jam at the end using an emulsion blender, just to make it a bit smoother. However, you can use a blender or food processor, or if you prefer a chunkier consistency, just let it be. It’s your call. I hope you all enjoy this fabulous recipe. Big thanks to Lisa for the recipe and inspiration, you are a rock star! I cannot wait to feature this in my holiday appetizer, its going to be ah-mazing! Don’t forget to check out the Secret Recipe Club and feel free to join in on all the fun! Tip: These also make great holiday gifts!


Fig, Pear, and Balsamic Jam:


Ingredients:
1 1/2 lb. figs, stems removed and coarsely chopped
1/2 lb. pears, peeled and pit removed and coarsely chopped
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. balsamic vinegar
1/4 c. fresh lemon juice


Instructions:
1. Combine the figs, pears, brown sugar, and balsamic vinegar in a large saucepan.
2. Bring to a simmer over medium to high heat. Then lower the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook.
3. Break up the large pieces and stir periodically until the jam thickens.
4. Remove from the heat and squeeze about a tablespoon of lemon juice, stir.
5. Taste and add more lemon juice if desired.
6. If too chunky, you can use a food processor to quickly pulse a bit smoother.
7. Spoon the jam into a container with a lid.
8. Using sterilized jar, spoon into jars, seal with jar and process in boiling water for 10 minutes.
9. Let cool and lids should seal.


MANGIA!!!


Follow the links below to enjoy all the recipes from this month’s Secret Recipe Club reveal!


document.write(‘

document.write(‘

Meatless Monday: Crazy for California Walnuts!

Walnuts are the new black…just saying.

Happy Monday y’all!

I am guessing you all read my posts last week about attending Foodbuzz Festival. I mean, how could you miss them? Anyway, if you didn’t, here is an abbreviated version: featured publisher for Foodbuzz, Foodbuzz has a festival for featured publishers, traveled to San Fran on a jet plane for festival, ate lots of good food, met new friends, ate more food, walked up and down San Fran, met T-Flo, ate more food…did I mention I ate tons of food? Hence, (FOOD)buzz festival.

Anyway, while I was at the tasting pavilion on Saturday I had the pleasure of meeting two nice ladies who were reps for California Walnuts. Now, I am a big fan of walnuts and all, but I wasn’t overly stoked about getting my hands on a cup of walnuts. However, that was until I discovered what was in these serving cups that the sweet ladies were handing out. Basically, they were cups filled with gold: roasted walnuts with rosemary and sea salt. O the heavens! Rosemary is one of my favorite herbs of all time, and coupled with sea salt it was a sweet and salty flavor explosion. The walnuts were perfectly crunchy and I finished my first serving in about five seconds. Did you notice I said first serving? I went back for seconds…and thirds! Who would have thought this would have been my favorite snack at the tasting pavilion.

With Foodbuzz behind me I have been having serious withdrawals from a variety of the dishes that I tasted. So, what do I do? I start recreating those recipes, beginning with Rosemary and Sea Salt Walnuts. Now, here is the original recipe from California Walnuts. Instead of using butter, I used Walnut Oil from one of my fave new shops, Con’ Olio Oils and Vinegars (o.m.g. I cannot describe how good their oils and balsamic vinegars are…check them out). The walnut oil really accents the flavor of the walnuts beautifully, without making them greasy.

Now, you can purchase sea salt from just about anywhere, but it just so happens that Con’Olio is right next door to the other new love in my life, Savory Spice Shop (basically its a spice castle filled with every spice you need, from baking a chocolate cake, to grilling a pork loin on the barbecue), they have ah-mazing spice mixes, check them out as well.

I swear, I am not being endorsed to say any of this by these companies. They are just that good! On another note, I doubled the recipe because I am a hungry girl and I needed a good size batch to snack on for at least the next three days.

Do you see what I mean? Love me some snackin’!

Obviously I would recommend these here walnuts for the ultimate snacking food. Do you Iike my little snack ramekins?

Perfect for party snacking!
Might I also suggest serving them over a salad of mixed greens. I myself have some MAJOR ideas for giving these as gifts to some pretty special people for the upcoming holidays. I really hope you all enjoy these because they have super powers and will knock you off your feet…literally.

Rosemary and Sea Salt Roasted Walnuts:
Ingredients:
4 Tbs. walnut oil (you can use butter if you want…little butter never hurt anyone)
1/4 c. finely chopped fresh rosemary
2 tsp. smoked black pepper
1 1/4 tsp. sea salt
4 c. walnuts, unsalted

Instructions:
1. Pre-heat oven to 300 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Pour walnuts into a large mixing bowl.
2. In a small bowl, combine the walnut oil, rosemary, black pepper, and sea salt.
3. Pour the oil mixture over the walnuts and mix well until the walnuts are covered evenly.
4. Pour the walnuts onto the prepared baking sheet.
5. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
6. Allow the walnuts to cool completely before storing them in an airtight container.

MANGIA!!!

Secret Recipe Club and another Meatless Monday!!!

Zucchini

Before being baked off…

Served up…now all I need is marinara dipping sauce

Crispy deliciousness!


Happy Monday all!

I hope your weekend was just swell. I had a fabulous weekend and actually met someone pretty famous…a celebrity chef, but I am saving that news for tomorrow’s post, so get anxious and anticipate because it is HUGE! You don’t want to miss it! Anyway, I was going through my emails on Friday and came across an email from The Secret Recipe Club with a reminder that my recipe reveal was this Monday. I must admit, I totally 100% forgot about my recipe reveal. I have been so busy with work lately I guess I just had a complete brain fart. I hadn’t even had a chance to visit my secret bloggers page, so, first thing Saturday morning I headed on over to check out my blog assignment. I am happy to reveal that my secret blogger is Danielle from Hugs and Cookies XOXO !

Now, when I arrived at Danielle’s page I was pretty darn excited because her backdrop is so psychedelic and sometimes I wish I could go back to the hippie era just for the clothes, I would give anything to wear bell-bottoms with a paisley white lace top and long feathered earrings (a la Jenn-ay in Forrest Gump). Now, the only thing that I was able to gather about Danielle is that she is a lover of teaching, family, and of course, all things cookies. And, wouldn’t you know? She has quite a few cookie recipes on her blog. While her cookie recipes looked absolutely delectable, not to mention enticing with her photos of macaroons dripping in chocolate, I am seriously cookied-out. I have baked so many sweets lately (a lot of them being cookies) and I need to take a break. I was looking for a recipe that was quick, easy, and that I could snack on, or maybe serve as a side dish.

As I was browsing Danielle’s archives I came across the perfect recipe that fit all of my needs, Zucchini Fries. Yes, I know that vegetables are a far cry from sweets, but seriously I was craving something savory, maybe a little bit salty, with some Parmesan cheese thrown in. Now, I may or may not have mentioned that I absolutely love zucchini fries, or anything that is coated in breadcrumbs and Parmesan and baked to a lovely golden crisp. I would also like to add that I have a fetish of eating these with ranch dressing, yes, that is one of my processed foods that I splurge on once in a while. You have to live once in a while, and ranch dressing is a must. For the sake of keeping my recipes unique I decided to create my own spin on zucchini fries, substituting the Italian seasoned bread crumbs for an Italian-seasoned pecan meal mixture that I whipped up. Everything else about the recipe I kept the same! These zucchini fries turned out beautifully! The pecan meal made the zucchini 10 x’s crispier, adding a nutty texture, while the Italian seasoning and Parmesan cheese created the flavors of an tasty Italian dish! I was 100% satisfied to say the least!

Big ups to Danielle for the quick, easy, and might I add, yummy-licious recipe! Head on over to Danielle’s blog and browse through her list of sweet and savory recipes, this gal definitely knows what she is doing in the kitchen. Also, just a reminder, feel free to head on over to The Secret Recipe Club and consider becoming a member if you have a blog and would like to participate in the monthly secret recipe reveal.

Pecan-Crusted Zucchini Fries:

Ingredients:
1 lb. of zucchini, cut into 4-5 in. sticks
1 egg
1 egg white
1/2 c. pecan meal/flour (if cannot find, grind pecans in a blender or food processor until a fine powder forms)
1/4 c. fresh grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbs. dried Italian Seasoning
1 tsp. salt

Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and set aside.
2. Combine pecan meal, Parmesan, Italian seasoning, and salt on a wide plate. Set aside.
3. Whisk together the egg and egg white in a shallow bowl. Set aside.
4. Working in small batches, dip the zucchini into the egg, shake them to remove excess egg, and roll in 2-3 tablespoons of the pecan flour mixture, adding more pecan flour as needed (you want to make sure not to work with all the pecan flour at once because it will soak up the moisture from the egg and won’t stick to the zucchini).
5. Place the coated zucchini strips on the prepared baking sheet and repeat until all zucchini strips have been coated.
6. Bake for 10-12 minutes in the oven, remove from the oven, flip each zucchini strip using a pair of tongs, then bake for another 10-12 minutes until the zucchini is crispy and golden brown. Serve immediately.

MANGIA!!!

Make sure to check out all of the amazing recipes for this month’s Secret Recipe Club reveal by clicking on the links below!

Meatless Monday and Family Weekend!!!

Run, Momma, Run!

So proud of my sis…all decked out in lululemon!

Beautiful!

Mini-Chips

Peanut Butter Goodness!

Chocolate Goodness!


I was running low on chocolate (or maybe I just was a little more generous with others)

Happy Monday y’all!!!
I hope your weekend was as fantastic as mine! I don’t mean to brag or anything, but this weekend my sister and I took our first road trip in a long time together back to the H for some much needed family time. It was awesome! I had some family in town visiting that I hadn’t seen in about two years so I was extremely excited to get to hang with them! Plus, my sister and I were missing our parents like cray cray and just couldn’t wait for some down time with the fam. Did I say down time? Well, some of it was spent just chilling, but the majority of the weekend turned out to be quite busy. On Saturday, I spent practically the entire day with my mom’s side of the family. My aunt and two cousins were visiting so we all piled in the car and headed to the grandparents casa for lunch. We made bagna cauda for lunch with all sorts of veggies, meats, shrimp, and of course, bread to sop up all the delicious goodness. Then we played some games…if you know my mom’s side of the family, we usually spend hours playing train (which is a game with dominoes). I am not much of a “game-player” so I usually flake out by the second round, but it is soooo much fun…and my family members get pretty competitive, this usually involves a lot of smack talking! Not surprisingly, my grandmother seems to effortlessly kick ass and take names every single time. After a couple rounds of train, we set out to do what we do best…shop! And boy did we shop, somehow I didn’t end up spending any money (basically because I had no money to spend in the first place) and because my aunts were in a generous mood. I got a new purse and I was absolutely ecstatic because it was $12, even though I wasn’t the one purchasing. My diet over the weekend consisted of Tex-Mex, and lots of it. I don’t know how this happened. Actually, I shouldn’t be surprised because Tex-Mex is a staple in my family and it is only better when you enjoy it with your loved ones. Not to mention, after a couple of margaritas my aunts are pretty freakin’ hilarious! Saturday night was laid-back…my dad, mom, sis, and two cousins hung out at the house, just enjoying some friendly conversation and reminiscing about funny family moments. I tell you, every time my cousins visit (and you have to know these two brothers), I laugh sooooo hard I feel like my stomach is going to explode! I made some homemade peanut butter cups for one of my cousins because like myself, he is an absolute peanut butter fanatic. He definitely didn’t waste anytime eating them. I was so excited that he enjoyed them! Honestly, I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end the day. On Sunday, my mom and sis ran a 10 mile race for the United Space Alliance, my dad and I were “race support” and cheered them on as we sipped our coffee! Haha! That’s just how we do things. Anyway, my mom and sis are pretty bad ass runners, my sis even finished second in her age group. Go Les! My mom was a track star back in her day and she still is today! Love you Mom! Did I mention the absolute best part of the weekend? It rained! No, it poured! Finally! If you haven’t heard we have had the worst possible drought round these here parts in Texas. So, rain was a breath of fresh air. I absolutely loved it! All in all, it was a great weekend, and my sis and I were pretty upset to be leaving the rents’…time spent with family is so precious. Switching gears a bit, the homemade peanut butter cups that I mentioned above are the meatless meal of the day! Did I mention that I made them gluten-free and dairy-free so little sister could enjoy them. Holy chocolate sauce Batman! These things are absolutely delicious, couldn’t even tell the difference between the gluten-free version and an actual Reese’s peanut butter cup. I was in heaven!!! I would suggest making a batch of these babies right away…don’t forget to share them with your family, they will thank you for it later!

Gluten-Free/ Dairy-Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups:

Ingredients:
1/2 c. vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)
3/4 c. crunchy peanut butter (I used 365 Whole Foods Brand, all-natural)
3/4 c. gluten-free graham cracker crumbs (or 10 graham crackers)
1/4 c. turbinado sugar (brown sugar will work too)
1 1/2 c. grain-sweetened non-dairy chocolate chips
1/4 c. unsweetened almond milk

Instructions:
1. Melt the vegan butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat.
2. Stir in the peanut butter, graham cracker crumbs, and sugar, and mix well.
3. Remove the pan from the heat and evenly divide the mixture, approximately 1 Tablespoon if you are using a mini-muffin tin (2 Tablespoons if you are using a regular muffin tin), among the muffin cups.
4. Combine the chocolate and milk in another pan, stir over medium heat until the chocolate is melted.
5. Spoon the chocolate evenly over the peanut butter mixture.
6. Place the muffin tin in the freezer for 60-75 minutes or until the pb cups are firm.

Makes 24 mini pb cups if using a mini-muffin tin, 12 if using a regular muffin tin.

Note: You can garnish the pb cups with chopped peanuts before freezing if you wish.

MANGIA!!!

Meatless Monday: Serious Sweet Tooth!

Gotta love cookie dough!

Fresh baked cookies

Sinful orange glaze

One cookie down…25 more to go!

Much better!

Happy Monday everyone!
It’s time for another Meatless Monday! Now, when you think of meatless dishes, the first thing that comes to mind for you is probably a dish consisting mainly of vegetables. However, meatless dishes are simply defined as any recipe that does not contain meat. This means that anything from appetizers to dessert is fair game. Like I said before my sweet tooth has been on a rampage lately and last week it was definitely at an all-time high. Did you see my lemon bar recipe…those things are my new addicton! So, what’s a girl to do? Well, when I have a sweet tooth, the first thing I do is start brainstorming and eventually come up with a new dessert recipe. I love cookies, I mean, who doesn’t? From peanut butter, to oatmeal, and white chocolate macadamia nut…honestly, there isn’t a cookie I have met that I didn’t like. When I was a kid my favorite cookies were the Mother’s brand iced oatmeal cookies, between the crispy oatmeal cookie and the sweet powdered sugar glaze on top, I didn’t know where to start. Luckily, my mom would always do a good job at slipping one or two of those babies into my lunch box. I wasn’t in the mood for oatmeal because it has been my favorite breakfast lately (oatmeal+almond butter+agave=oatmeal from heaven), so I went straight to my fridge to see what I had on hand for a quick cookie recipe. I saw half a cup of walnuts, leftover chicken, a stack of those lemon bars glaring at me, pumpkin bread, and then I saw it INSPIRATION: 2 small oranges nested on the side door. My plan of attack fell right into place, I would make a gluten-free citrus cookie with a zesty orange glaze. A few ingredients, a whirl of the electric mixer, and a few minutes in the oven and BAM, that is just what I had! Let me tell you, it was very difficult for me to wait for the little babies to cool from the oven…even more torturing was icing them with the orange glaze. I couldn’t stop licking my lips the stuff was so tasty! I really could have taken the bowl and eaten it with a spoon had I not only had 1/2 c. of powdered sugar to work with. Anyway, by the time I had glazed these cookies, they were mine for the eating, and boy were they good, if I must say so myself. To keep myself from going into sugar shock from all the desserts in my house, I brought the cookies to work as a treat for my co-workers. I have a friend that I work with who, like my sis, also has celiac, so she was thrilled! I was so glad that everyone enjoyed them as much as I did! By the time I returned to work on Saturday, my airtight container was empty! Love my team! Can’t wait to bake them more treats…get ready, it’s coming! I hope you all enjoy this recipe and always remember to get creative in the kitchen with whatever you have, you might end up creating a successful recipe that you will use for a lifetime!

Citrus Cookies with Orange Glaze

Ingredients:

For the cookies:
21/2 c. almond flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 c. arrowroot powder
6 Tbs. grapeseed oil
1/2 c. agave nectar
1 Tbs. Mexican vanilla extract
juice of 1 orange

For the glaze:
1/2 c. powdered sugar
juice of 1 orange

Instructions:

For the cookies:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Using an electric mixer, combine the almond flour, baking soda, and arrowroot powder.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the grapeseed oil, agave nectar, vanilla extract, and orange juice..
4. Using an electric mixer, stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until thoroughly combined.
5. Spoon the dough 1 Tbs. at a time onto the prepared baking sheets, pressing down with the palm of your hand to flatten, leaving 2 in. of space between each cookie.
6. Bake for 7-10 minutes, until lightly golden.
7. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 30 minutes.

For the glaze:
1. In a small bowl, combine the powdered sugar and orange juice until smooth.
2. After the cookies are finished cooling, brush each cookie with the glaze using a pastry brush.

Makes about 26 cookies.

MANGIA!!!