Citrus Pistachio Biscotti

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I love making biscotti and am always on the lookout for new takes on it. They are perfect for the holidays since they yield so many and can be made well in advance, since they freeze beautifully. These were inspired by a Giada De Laurentiis recipe. I had wanted to add pomegranate seeds to the dough, but the ones I bought didn’t seem fresh. I still want to try that for the pop of color and seasonal feel. Dried cranberries would work well here too. The white chocolate chips I added were a great move🏻. These are amazing; the citrus zests add something special. I can’t stop eating them .

You Need:

3/4 cup yellow cornmeal

1.5 teaspoon baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 cup sugar

3 eggs

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1 TBS grated orange zest

1 TBS grated lemon zest

1/2 cup chopped pistachios

Directions:

Heat the oven to 325. Like a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl mix flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt.

In a separate bowl mix the sugar and eggs in an electric mixer. As you stir, slowly add zest. and then the flour mixture. Lastly, stir in pistachios. Let stand for 5 minutes.

Use a rubber spatula to transfer the dough to baking sheet and create two equal mounds spread apart.

Moisten your hands and shape the dough into two 11 x 4” logs.

Bake for 35 minutes and then let cool for 5 minutes.

Use a serrated knife cut the logs crosswise into 1/2 inch thick diagonal slices.

Place back on baking sheet and bake an additional 25 minutes.

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Full of Fiber 🥕Muffins

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Good morning! The only cereal I’m really eating these days is Fiber One. I’m mindful of portions but there’s so much fiber in a serving here so it fills me up well. I love that I can eat this without feeling guilty. I’ll add unsweetened vanilla almond milk, fresh blueberries, and a tbsp of granola to mix up textures and flavors. I like pretty soggy cereal so I’ll let it sit for about ten minutes before digging in.

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The base of these muffins are from the back of the Fiber One box. I added a bunch of ingredients for my own Lady Blaga twist, including protein powder. I also swapped almond and whole wheat flours for the white flour. I love carrot muffins, and these little treats froze so well. They’re a wonderful, healthy snack or breakfast option. Again, guilt free🏻🥕. Jeez, moms have enough to feel guilty about, right?

Ingredients:

Dozen muffin paper liners

1 1/4 cups Fiber One cereal crushed into crumbs

1 1/3 cups milk of your choice

1/2 cup yellow or black raisins

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 large egg

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup almond flour

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

3 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp cinnamon

/4 tsp nutmeg

1 cup shredded carrots

2 scoops vanilla protein powder.


Heat oven to 400. Line the muffin tin or just spray really well. In a medium bowl stir the crushed cereal, milk, raisins, vanilla, and carrots. Let stand until soft, about 5 min. Stir in egg and oil.

In another bowl, stir the flours, brown sugar, protein powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg until flour is moistened. Batter will be lumpy. Spoon batter into muffin cups. Bake 20 to 25 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. If using paper liners, remove from tin immediately. If not, let the muffins remain in the pan for 7 minutes before moving to a cooling rack.

Tip; to crush the cereal, place it in a ziplock bag and roll over it with a rolling pin.
This is a fabulous way to get in your Fiber🏻‍🏻‍.

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Truffle Parmesan Asparagus

Um, what??? This. Is. So. Good. Inspired by delicious French fries my kids and I had eaten the day before at one of our fave New York City restaurants, Noi Due, I was determined to bring these incredible flavors to something healthier and more diet friendly. Jackpot with the asparagus, though this can work with roasted potatoes, carrots, polenta/ jicama fries, or cauliflower or broccoli florets. This was a breeze to prepare. Truffle oil, fresh minced garlic, fresh chopped parsley, and shredded Parmesan. I broiled the asparagus partially, removed from the oven, mixed in the other ingredients, then put it all back in the broiler to cook and crisp. Ready for this life changing side dish? No more bland, kill me now veggies.

You’ll need:

Two bunches asparagus, bottoms trimmed.

Truffle oil

A cup of packed chopped fresh parsley

Three cloves minced garlic

A cup and a half of shredded Parmesan

Salt and pepper.

Spread asparagus spears in a single layer on an aluminum pan. No glass in broiler ever! Arrange oven rack a few inches below the top of oven. Turn on to broil setting. Drizzle spears with the truffle oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Broil partially until the asparagus looks bright green. Remove. Mix the garlic, parsley, and half the cheese. Distribute evenly then place back in a single layer with a spatula. Sprinkle rest of the cheese on top. Hit with another nice drizzle of oil to crisp up the cheese. Broil again for a couple minutes until cheese is golden brown. I’m soooo excited for you to enjoy this! If using other veggie options, bake or roast instead of broil. Rest of process is the same, cooking halfway then adding the other ingredients to finish it off. Love you.

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Grilled 🍑 Over Frisée w Red Onion and Mint

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I have never understood the whole grilled fruit thing. I know that cooking the fruit brings out its natural sugars to sweeten it but I generally like it raw. This summer though, the peaches were so big and bright. I had to think of a way to feature a perfect without slicing it. My goal was to create a fruity summer salad that was as clean and simple as possible. When the ingredients are perfect there is no need to overdo it. They shine on their own. This composed salad was sooooo good. The grilled peach halves caramelized beautifully and were delicious to the point that now I do get the grilled fruit thing. The crisp frisée was a nice way to anchor the peaches, while the diced red onion added some sharpness to cut the sweetness. Fresh mint leaves are my favorite summer garnish for most things involving fruit. This is an easy salad to travel with if you need to contribute a fabulous side dish to a get together. Just pack each of the components separately and quickly assemble on an attractive disposable platter. No mixing or tossing. The lettuce doesn’t even need to be dressed so as not to take away from the wonderful peach that holds the spotlight. Mama Nature knows her stuff.

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Ingredients:

One firm but ripe yellow peach per person. Peaches should be large.

One diced red onion.

A dozen fresh mint leaves.

One or two containers of frisée lettuce.

Cut the peaches in half and remove pits. Heat an indoor grill pan on medium, brush with olive oil, and grill peach halves flat flesh side down until there are dark grill lines, several minutes. Flip and grill on other side just a minute. You want to balance heat throughout but not make it mushy. The peaches should be sweet and firm (Oy vey). When setting aside don’t use a fork; that will make holes. Platter the peaches on top of the frisée grilled side up. Scatter the diced onions and mint leaves. That’s it! I served this to a friend and she didn’t believe me that I hadn’t added a sugary glaze. The extra peaches were a treat I kept in the fridge to snack on. Get this one in before season is totally over.

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Roasted Zucchini Basil Soup

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So in love with this delicious soup made with a base of perfectly roasted vegetables. Roasting in the oven instead of just sautéing in a pot really brings out the wonderful flavors of the vegetables. I think I made this move out of laziness at the time, but it worked so well that it’s now my go to method. Roasted veggies, vegetable stock, fresh herbs (in this case basil) all perfectly blended together. Great for babies too!

You’ll need :

Ten medium or eight large green or yellow zucchini’s cut into two inch pieces

One and a half Spanish onions cut into quarters

Three cloves fresh, unpeeled garlic sliced lengthwise into thirds (or just coarsely chopped)

6 cups of vegetable stock (a box and a half)

A cup packed fresh basil leaves

Four stalks diced celery

salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

Directions:

Toss the zucchini, onion, and garlic with olive oil, and not too much salt and pepper and roast on 400 until the veggies start to turn golden brown around the edges. We don’t want it too dark. Stir occasionally to prevent burning. Sauté and soften the diced celery in your soup pot in two tbsp heated olive oil. I like to add a quarter cup of the broth and sweat it with the lid on for a couple minutes. Turn off the heat until the vegetables are ready, lid off. Add the roasted vegetables to the pot with all of the the broth, as well as the basil. Add 1 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, and 3/4 garlic powder. Bring to an active simmer with the pot lid on, then lower to a calmer simmer, lid half on for 30 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool for 20 minutes if you can, then blend with an immersion blender. Adjust seasonings to taste. Always start with less salt and pepper. You can add but can’t remove.

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Red Lentil Pasta w Fresh 🍅🌿Sauce

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I find a these new variations of pasta thrilling (I need to get out more). They’re full of protein and fiber. Same carb content but with majorly added nutrients. My daughter has veered more towards vegetarian eating but she’s quite skinny, so these pastas made of wheat alternatives are perfect for her. I bought this red lentil one because I liked the color. Which led me to select yellow cherry tomatoes and bright green basil ️. Color is so important in cooking. This was beyond easy to prepare. Simple, fresh ingredients. When I was recently in Italy this summer I treated myself to a pasta entree the last night. It was handmade with cherry tomato sauce. I didn’t realize the sauce wasn’t really saucy; it was sautéed cherry tomatoes like I made here. I had my heart set on twirling my noodles with a fork in a yummy, thick tomato sauce so I asked for some. I figured no biggie since others at our table had that. Um... the waiter went batshit crazy. He called other waiters to the table; they were all equally appalled at my American ignorance and disrespect for their cuisine. I stood my ground while my daughter and her friends were rolling on the floor laughing at the hysteria. They just did not want to give it to me. Epilogue; I got what I wanted and enjoyed my food under their Mediterranean death stares. Whatever. Don’t mess with a chick who orders pasta once a year.

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Ingredients:

Red lentil pasta cooked accordingly to package directions.

Three large peeled garlic cloves chopped.

Two pints of mixed or mostly yellow cherry tomatoes.

A cup of packed basil leaves julienned. More if needed as to be used as garnish when serving.

Heat three to four tbsp good olive oil in a large saucepan with depth. Have vegetable broth and some white cooking wine on hand to deglaze the pan so as not to burn the garlic. I like adding the tomatoes to the hot pan before the garlic. Tomatoes give off water so the garlic won’t burn as fast. Season with salt and pepper.

Sauté tomatoes a minute or two then add chopped garlic. Sauté until the garlic is super fragrant and lightly browned, and the tomatoes are melted and softened (not mush!). Add tbsp of broth with a little white cooking wine to deglaze the pan as needed. Add the pasta to the pan, turn off the the flame, drizzle with some more oil, and stir in the basil. The flavors will all converge in the hot pan. Add some extra salt and pepper to taste only if needed. E. Z.

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Silan Drizzled Sweet Potatoes

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While visiting my daughter in Israel In February we ate at a little cafe in Old Jaffa. I had a delicious dish consisting of wonderfully simple yet perfect ingredients, as most excellent dishes often contain. This was a roasted drizzled with Silan, which is date honey. It’s a wonderful product that adds terrific depth and sweetness. I wanted to recreate the concept here with my own twist. This was so easy and simple to prepare, yet it presented beautifully. Optional crumbled feta for you cheese lovers. Toasted walnut pieces lent a great nutty crunch to balance the sweetness of the potatoes and honey.

Ingredients:

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One sweet potato per person, halved length wise.

Silan.

A cup of walnut pieces toasted on a dry skillet until golden brown and fragrant.

Crumbled feta cheese.

Rub the halves with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast face side down on 400 until fully tender and caramelized. Gently turn over the sweet potatoes with a spatula so as not to tear the flesh. Place on a platter. Drizzle each half with the Silan. Top with feta if desired. Sprinkle walnuts on top of each half as well. Could this be any easier?? Now all you gotta do is enjoy.

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Taco Tuesday Whenever 🌮🌯

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Omg so delish; vegetarian chili with sautéed cabbage and corn in a super low carb tortilla! Yes please! My current obsession are these delicious very low carb soft tortillas. They’re a brand called Mama Lupe and I got them on amazon. I have been using them to make omelet wraps, quesadillas, and other yummy meals. I crisp them up slightly by placing them flat in a dry, hot skillet. They just need a minute or two on each side. Flip gently with tongs to get both sides golden brown. So simple yet makes such a difference.

This recipe is great. Sautéed shredded green cabbage is a crunchy base for the chili. Sautéed fresh corn kernels add great color, texture, and summer sweetness on top. For the cabbage layer 🥬 sautéed half a head of green shredded cabbage in a couple tbsp heated olive oil, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.

Moisten pan if necessary with a tbsp or two of vegetable broth. Cook about five minutes, retaining the bite. This needs to still have some crunch. Set aside. Can be used warm or room temp. For the corn layer do the same, using fresh corn kernels shaved from two ears of corn. Don’t use frozen. Better to omit and top the tacos with guacamole, cheese, or sautéed onions. The corn just needs about two minutes to cook. Set that aside as well. You can prep this before making the chili or while it’s cooking, for the sake of efficiency.

For the chili:

A diced green pepper, a diced red pepper, a diced yellow onion, two cloves of minced fresh garlic, half an eggplant cut into one inch cubes, a diced small or medium green zucchini, a 6 oz can of tomato paste, a large 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes, half a cup of vegetable broth, two tbsp chili powder, 1 tsp dried oregano, 1 tbsp red wine vinegar, 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1 tsp salt.

Directions:

Sautéed the onion in several tbsp of olive oil in a large pot, adding the garlic when the onion is fragrant and turning golden brown. Deglaze with vegetable broth tbsp by tbsp as the pot dries up. You don’t want to burn your aromatics (or anything else). Add the red wine vinegar to the onions and garlic. This will make a fabulously flavorful base. Adding vinegar and seasonings to my aromatics is a favorite trick of mine. It sets the stage for maximum flavor. When it smells delicious (you’ll know), add all other ingredients, stirring gently to combine. Cover and bring to a strong simmer on medium heat. When there’s nice bubbling activity, lower the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook half covered for 30 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. You want cooked not mushy. You can of course substitute your favorite chili recipe, vegetarian or not. To assemble the soft tacos, make a layer of 🥬then chili then . Add any extra toppings of your choice, including chopped cilantro.

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Eve’s Buddha Bowl 🏯🍋🥬🥑

My eldest daughter has recently become a very healthy eater. She has also started taking an interest in learning how to cook. It’s been really fun this summer starting to teach her some basics. She really loves the independence that comes with making a meal, as well as the satisfaction of making something from scratch. One of her favorite dinners is this yummy bowl consisting of kale, quinoa, tofu, avocado, topped with some toasted slivered almonds. Bowls are great because they’re a meal but feel like a salad. For some reason a bowl is just a little more fun than a plate. These are Eve’s fave bowl ingredients, but def experiment with what you love. Ideally there should be a protein, a vegetable, and a starch if desired. I don’t like tofu so I’d make mine with a fried egg. A great family dinner idea is a Buddha Bowl Bar. This is also a really fun way to entertain. Just get cute bowls so guests can make their own.

Eve likes:

1/2 a cup to a cup of quinoa cooked according to package directions

Half an avocado cut into chunks

Two cups of chopped kale sautéed in olive oil and lightly seasoned with salt and pepper

A handful of toasted slivered almonds (toast on medium in a dry skillet until fragrant and golden brown)

Cubed and seasoned tofu

Now for the tofu, I use the kind that’s a firm block. I gently cut lengthwise then crosswise to make 1 inch cubes. I put them in a bowl and drizzle with olive or avocado oil, and I season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika, and dried Italian seasoning. Really just choose seasonings you like that you might use for chicken or fish. I carefully mix the tofu to distribute the spices. Then I heat a large skillet with three tbsp of the same oil I used for the marinade, and sear the cubes in a single layer. I add tablespoons of vegetable stock as the pan dries up to prevent the tofu from sticking. Shake pan occasionally to loosen the pieces. Gently flip each piece to get an even crust on each piece. One block of tofu makes a lot so you’ll have leftovers. After Eve assembles her bowl she likes to squeeze half a lemon over it, like mama. I became obsessed with during pregnancy since the citrus helps with nausea. Ok, maybe not the best idea to mention nausea in a food post.

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Jazzed Dried Fruit

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Two reasons for this post title:

1) Some people throughout my life have called me Jazz as a nickname

2) The real reason is that “dried pears and plums in white chocolate, crushed pistachios, and granola” was simply way too long.

The feedback I got from the dried peaches in dark chocolate and slivered almonds was terrific, so I wanted to expand on that concept. Dried fruit dipped in various melted chocolates and toppings is a very fast and delicious dessert. It’s perfect for the summer since no oven is involved. This is very helpful if you live in an apartment. Who wants to add to sweltering heat in an apartment, right? These treats freeze and set quickly and can remain in the fridge for up to two weeks. Just layer them in between layers of parchment paper in an airtight container. I had one of the peaches every night for desert; I must have something sweet at the end of dinner. This is truly a guilt free treat. See how easy it is to do something delicious for yourself?

You’ll need:

Dried pears, dried plums, or two other kinds of your favorite dried fruit

A cup of your favorite granola

A cup and a half of shelled pistachios coarsely crushed

A bag of white chocolate chips melted in the microwave (around a minute, stir until smooth).

Directions:

Set up each component like a conveyer belt, so you can dip quickly and efficiently. Prepare a baking sheet by spraying it with nonstick spray, then pressing a piece of wax paper down flatly to cover the surface. Dip each pear in the white chocolate then the crushed nuts and place on the baking sheet. Do the same with the plums but using the granola this time. Freeze until it sets then keep in the fridge the way I mentioned above. Along with the peach recipe you now have a lovely assortment that really looks so pretty and professional. No real cooking required! This is a great recipe for kids who are interested in getting into the kitchen. Almost no steps but major results.

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Tropical Caprese Salad 🍉

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Since I’m not a cheese fan, I’m not the one who ever would order the caprese salad. However, I have always appreciated the beautiful simplicity of seeing a few perfect ingredients stacked and served. If the two or three ingredients are of the highest, freshest quality, then it’s culinary proof that less is more. A classic caprese consists of sliced tomatoes, sliced fresh mozzarella, and fresh basil leaves. I wanted to infuse some other flavors, colors, and textures while preserving the feel of this layered classic. Watermelon in a summer salad is always a good move. Bright, crisp, pretty, and refreshing. I loved the idea of building on the theme by using sliced watermelon radishes. Cute right? Using mesclun lettuce tied in the hints of deep pink. Sliced fresh mozzarella that I bought pre sliced at my local gourmet market (I wasn’t wrestling with cheese), and fresh whole basil and mint leaves plucked from my garden. I added the mint for another hit of summer freshness. I made this salad composed on top of the greens to honor each of the components since they’re all so gorgeous, as well as to respect the essence of a caprese. I often serve salads on a curved platter instead of a bowl so I can layer it beautifully like this. Honestly this took five minutes and was delicious and so visually appealing. Just drizzle with your favorite quality balsamic. Since balsamic bleeds, you can always have your guests take and then have a vinegar dispenser on hand so they can do as much or as little drizzling as preferred.

Ingredients:

Four cups of mesclun greens

Two to three cups of cubes of fresh watermelon (save time and mess by buying precut only if it’s super fresh)

Presliced watermelon radishes (my produce store does this for me but if yours doesn’t then buy four and peel and slice)

At least a dozen slices of fresh mozzarella cheese

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Around 20 each fresh whole basil and mint leaves

Place the greens on the bottom and distribute evenly across the platter. Make rows of alternating watermelon, cheese, and radishes. I stuck whole basil leaves in between each slice of mozzarella, and whole mint leaves in between each slice of radish. That beautiful orchid came with my lettuce and was the perfect accessory for a tropical feel; use a well placed summery flower if you can find one as a pretty focal point. Serve then drizzle with good quality balsamic vinegar. Tip; keep all ingredients cold in fridge until it’s time to platter and serve. This salad needs to be cool and crisp; we are going for beachy/poolside vibes .


White Nectarine Kale Salad

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De. Lish. I swear these were all ingredients I had in the house. Red onions are a staple, my daughter loves kale, my son loves white peaches and nectarines, and I love raspberries. I have a nice selection of vinegars in my pantry too. This salad is really fabulous; bursting with sweet, summer flavor. I wait all year for stone fruits, especially the white ones. My mother in law, god bless her, once found me white peaches in January when I had a crazy pregnancy craving with my eldest. This salad is so visually appealing with its array of bright colors. The raspberries give a great burst of tartness in addition to that great pop of pink. Each element here has a job to do and they all work together cooperatively and beautifully. The Blaga crew was psyched that this was today’s lunch. Super healthy, light, and full of fiber and nutrients, this salad is a winner.

Ingredients:

Four cups chopped kale

Two firm yet ripe nectarines thinly sliced

Half a red onion thinly sliced

A pint of raspberries

Vinaigrette:

1/3 cup each olive oil and fresh lemon juice, two tbsp citrus champagne vinegar, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, a squirt of honey.

Whisk all dressing ingredients together well. Pour half the dressing on the salad. Toss gently so as not to crush the raspberries. Drizzle remainder of the dressing on top as desired.

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Chocolate, Nutty Dried 🍑

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Here’s the deal with dried peaches; they reek of ass. It’s undeniable. I like eating them and they’re my favorite dried fruit. That’s saying a lot since Jews and dried fruit have a special relationship. Funny anecdote: several years ago a bunch of close friends and I traveled to Israel for the bar mitzvah of the son of one of our crew members. On the last night in Jerusalem we were all planning on tearing shit up. Clubs, hookah bars, and drinking. Falafel munchies at 2 am. Feel me? We were all excited to be middle aged and free for a night on the town in a foreign country. Fast forward two hours after departing from the lobby and there we were, buying dried fruit and nuts from a kiosk 20 feet from the hotel. Then we went home, the end. Talk about a wild night! It was pathetic and hilarious. I was the only female in the gang, so for me personally it was a waste of a strategically placed belly chain. Oh well, we tried. It was one of those “this is 40” moments.

Funny dried anecdote number two: I was eating one last week in the pantry and my son started gagging and was like, “Jesus, Mom!!!”. See? Ass (I’m aware this tush talk might deter you from making this recipe). However, these little treats are easy to make and are a guilt free indulgence. There’s richness to them which means you won’t overdo it. One should really do the trick.

Ingredients:

Dried peaches, the natural kind with no added sugar

A bag of bittersweet chocolate chips melted in a double boiler

And crushed toasted slivered almonds (optional).

Directions:

Simply dip each peach in some melted chocolate, press into the nuts, and lay face up on a sheet or plate covered in parchment paper. Freeze until the chocolate sets then store in fridge until ready to eat. Check out these pervy emojis 🥜. Sorry, I can’t help it; I still think it’s funny looking up private parts in the dictionary.

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Yellow Pepper Soup

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Love, love, love this one. I developed it just for y’all last week. The blog is good for me in that it demands I keep my creative juices flowing and active. I made a fabulous red pepper soup in the winter, so I wanted to try one with its yellow cousin for summer. This soup can be served at any temperature, perfect as a cold shooter or appetizer on a hot day. It has a solid kick because of the jalapeño that was sautéed with the onion and garlic in the initial aromatic stage. I myself do not like spicy foods but I did like this, meaning you feel the jalapeño but it’s not really spicy. To lessen that just use half the jalapeño instead of the whole. As always when working with jalapeños, make sure you carefully scrape away the fiery seeds. And ALWAYS wash your hands we’ll immediately after handling them. God help you if you mindlessly rub your eye.

Ingredients:

Eight yellow peppers sliced

A jalapeño (whole or half) carefully seeded and diced

A Spanish or large yellow onion diced

3 cloves fresh minced garlic

6 cups vegetable stock or broth

1 tsp each smoked paprika and Zatar

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

1 1/2 tsp salt and a scant 1/2 tsp pepper

One or two stalks of fresh rosemary tied tightly in a mesh bouquet garnish bag or cheesecloth

Directions:

Heat 3 tbsp olive oil in a medium size soup pot. Sauté onions and jalapeño until the onions turn really fragrant and translucent. Deglaze as needed with a couple tablespoons of vegetable broth as the pot dries out. Add the minced garlic and sauté a couple more minutes. I add the garlic at the end since it gets brown so quickly. As the garlic gets fragrant add the smoked paprika and Zatar. Add the white wine vinegar. Mix and let the aromatics all blend a couple minutes. Then add the sliced yellow peppers and veg broth. Add the salt and pepper. I didn’t use the full half tsp of pepper. I’m always wary of over peppering; you can always add the extra dash later. Stir all well. Place the rosemary bundle in the pot so it’s nestled amongst the other components. Cover the pot and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Once the soup is at an active simmer, lower the flame to medium low. I like to usually keep lids on while the soup is cooking. Let the soup simmer 45 minutes, stirring every so often. When the peppers are really soft turn off the flame. Let it sit and calm down for about a half hour, if you have time, then remove the rosemary bundle and blend until smooth. Enjoy hot, room temp, or cold. Souper.

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Bruschetta Two Ways

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Bruschetta has always been one of the easiest ways to initially greet guests. “Ew, bruschetta” said no one ever. We all know the typical way it’s served, with diced tomatoes etc. I wanted to bring a fresh version of this tried and true appetizer to my most recent gathering. I leafed through one of my Martha Stewart cookbooks to get some inspiration. Often I just make recipes up as I go along but sometimes I need to call on the true queens of cooking to get the juices flowing. I love Martha’s “Meatless” cookbook; that’s where I drew inspiration from here. It’s a great book that’s essential for vegetarians. Bruschetta is great because you can use a variety of breads to toast for your base. There are so many toppings to choose from too. The hearty mushrooms and tangy olives were a great duo, and they looked lovely served alongside one another. I love giving options, that’s the nurturer in me. After all, isn’t feeding people one of the most nurturing acts one can do?

Lemon Olive Bruschetta:

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A loaf of French bread or the bread of your choice sliced into small rounds. Brush one side of the bread rounds with olive oil and toast or bake until slightly crisp. Set aside.

You’ll also need one cup chopped pitted good quality olives. I used a multicolored mix which was so pretty.

One peeled, seeded, and chopped lemon.

One tbsp finely chopped red onion.

one cup of coarsely chopped marinated artichoke hearts.

1/4 tsp sugar.

3 tbsp good olive oil.

Two to three tbsp chopped fresh mint.

Season with salt and freshly ground pepper and mix all and spoon on toasts. Martha used celery and parsley in place of the artichokes and mint, FYI. You have room here to vary. I thought the artichokes would go nicely with the tang factor, and that the mint would liven it all up. It worked beautifully.

Mushroom Garlic Bruschetta:

Same bread instructions. If you have another kind of bread it’s nice to use two different kinds to suit the two different toppings. Or, you can cut a regular loaf of bread into squares and toast those too.

You’ll need:

1 1/2 pounds chopped fresh mushrooms, any kind or kinds. I used a mix of porcini, chanterelle, and oyster.

Two cloves minced fresh garlic.

Two tbsp of fresh thyme.

1/4 cup Dry white wine on hand to deglaze as you’re sautéing.

Sauté all ingredients until mushrooms start to turn golden and release their juices. Deglaze with wine by the tbsp as needed. Season with salt and fresh pepper and top toasts with mixture. Garnish with some additional fresh thyme leaves. Alternate toasts on the same serving platter for a nice presentation. Have cocktail napkins on hand!


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Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins

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I’m in love with each word in this title. Nothing not to like. I whipped these up for a recent weekend when my girls had friends over. I cleaned up the white flour by swapping it for almond and coconut flours. Admittedly I was pressed for time so I kept the brown sugar that I was used to adding, but please let me know if you have a good substitution for that. These little treats did get a bit crumbly so handle gingerly. They were delicious toasted with butter for breakfast.

Ingredients:

1 cup almond flour

1/3 cup coconut flour

1 cup almond milk or the milk of your choice

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup rolled oats

2/3 cup granulated or packed brown sugar

3 tbsp vegetable oil

1 large egg lightly beaten

1tsp vanilla

1 cup chocolate chips (I used Lily’s, much less sugar).

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400. Grease and flour the bottoms only of a muffin tin. Sift together the dry ingredients except the sugar then add oats. Combine milk, sugar, oil, egg, and vanilla. Add to dry ingredients but gently mix only until combined. Over mixing muffins makes them dense.

Gently fold in chocolate chips. You can substitute raisins, craisins, or a combo. Spoon batter into the muffin cups 2/3 rds full. Bake about 20 minutes until tops are golden brown and a toothpick tester comes out clean. Cool significantly then gently remove. I used two spoons to lift them out. The alternate flours made them more delicate than had I used regular all purpose flour, but the sub was obviously so worth it.

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Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

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 I’m not a dairy lover so I’ve never been the Mac n’ cheese  gal in the room. However, I do have a daughter who just loves it. My boys like it too but only the gross neon orange kind from a box. It may as well say, “manufactured in Chernobyl”. So while my little guys would never touch a fresh version that’s made with a vegetable, my second daughter loved this variation. It might even be more of a cauliflower gratin, but either way it’s delicious. I really dug it too. I looked up a bunch of cauliflower Mac n cheese dishes online and almost all contained ingredients totally counterproductive to cooking healthy. Flour, butter, massive quantities of cheese. Frankly none of them seemed healthy or clean. I came up with this one and it was a big hit while keeping the load light.

Ingredients:

Two large heads cauliflower cut into small florets

1 1/2 cups shredded cheese of your choice

A small bunch of fresh oregano

1/4 pulverized original GG crackers to use as breadcrumbs.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400. Spread the florets in a pan and sprinkle with salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic powder. Bake until fork tender, about 40 minutes. When ready, mix with half the cheese and half the breadcrumbs. Put in a greased 9X13 baking dish.  Put remaining cheese on top, add the fresh oregano leaves, then remaining GG crumbs. Drizzle with olive oil and bake for 15 minutes until the cheese melts. If using a metal pan you can broil for a quick minute to crisp up the top. Don’t broil in a glass pan!  Can serve in individual ramekins or bake as such too. This is a sophisticated, zero guilt take on a classic favorite. Enjoy!

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Baked Veggie Omelette

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This is a fabulous breakfast or brunch dish. It’s fast and easy to assemble, it feeds a crowd, and you can use any vegetables you have on hand. I used sun-dried tomatoes, peppers, onions, parsley and cilantro. Really any combination of fresh herbs, cheese, and veggies work. I find cracking eggs to be so satisfying 🥚so this was a fun little sensory exercise pour moi. This dish cuts very neatly into squares and looked beautiful on the plate next to the salad and fish I prepared. It’s a light and lovely accompaniment to any meal, or as the featured protein.

Ingredients:

A dozen eggs

1 cup shredded cheese of your choice

1 white onion diced

A diced green pepper

A diced red pepper

1 cup julienned sun-dried tomatoes not packed in oil

3/4 cup skim milk

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1/3 cup each loosely packed chopped flat leaf parsley and cilantro (or dill).

Feel free to use sautéed mushrooms, asparagus, chopped plum tomatoes, or steamed chopped broccoli.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9x13 pan with non stick spray. Sauté all your chopped vegetables, the onion first. Always deal with your aromatics first, they set the stage flavor wise. Mix the vegetables in a large bowl. Add a dozen beaten whole eggs and all the other ingredients. Pour in the pan. Bake for about 35 to 40 minutes until the eggs are set. Cool slightly, slice, and serve🥚🥦🥑

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Fish and Slaw

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 This dish is much prettier than how I lazily titled this post (not sure why I crapped out here on creativity). It’s a fantastic lunch or dinner for warm weather. Crisp, colorful slaw is gorgeous on the eyes, fresh in the mouth, and is the perfect accompaniment to a cleanly sautéed or grilled piece of fish. I used Dorado here but I leave that to you. I love making salads that are bright, beautiful, and light. I never make creamy or thick dressings because I don’t eat them. The idea of mayo on a salad makes me 🤢. Most of the Lady Blaga dressings are similar vinaigrette’s since that’s how I cook and eat. I’d never drown a salad, it’s just not appealing to me. This was a delight to put together, fun to plate, and even better to eat.

For the salad:

A bag of shredded purple cabbage

Half a bag of shredded carrots

Two handfuls of white bean sprouts

A handful of golden raisins

A couple of handfuls of dried soybeans for crunch and texture- Relax, I wore gloves.

Half a cup of packed, chopped flat leaf parsley and a third of a cup of julienned fresh mint leaves. Mint in a salad is always a winner. 

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.

For the dressing; a third of a cup each extra virgin olive oil and fresh lemon juice, three tbsp apple cider vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Whisk well and gently toss over the dressing. Set aside or plate, then cook the fish. I bought two dorado fillets, skin on. I seasoned the non skin side with salt and peeper. I heated a large skillet with a couple tbsp of olive oil and let it heat very well. I placed the fish skin side down, let it cook 3 to 4 minutes until the skin was crisped, flipped it carefully, then cooked the other side over lower heat until golden brown. Serve a piece of fish alongside the slaw for a lovely, healthy, complete meal. You can totally make this into fish tacos using soft tortillas and guacamole.

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Rose’ Fruit Salad

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Easiest. Summer. Dessert. Ever. This was a last minute addition to our most recent food shoot. I was frantically trying to prep all my recipes, and the fire department had just showed up since apparently I forgot how to make toast. I like to be as efficient as possible during these shoots. Squeezing in as many recipes as possible is clearly ideal.

The night before I had bought some summer stone fruit for my son. He loves peaches, apricots, and plums. I love them too and it’s joyful each time they reappear at the market. I knew I had a bottle of Rose’ chilling in the fridge and voila; what’s faster and fresher than having some gorgeous fruit soak in some wine? This is the perfect light dessert for anyone who needs to end each meal on a sweet note, like this girl right here. Most fruits should work but the combo I threw together was perfect.

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I used a large white peach sliced, two apricots sliced, blackberries, blueberries, and two blood oranges cleaned and separated into segments.

I gently tossed them with 3 tbsp of Rose’, covered the bowl in plastic wrap, and chilled in the fridge for 30 minutes. I’d say do this for Max an hour so the fruit doesn’t get soggy. Add an extra tbsp of the wine if you want it stronger, but I liked how the 3 tbsp were there yet subtle; the fruit is so delicious on its own. Divide gently into little white bowls and garnish each with one perfect whole mint leaf.  People, summer is finally here.