Creamy Deviled Egg Salad

This creamy deviled egg salad recipe is easy to make and it tastes delicious. After you try it, you may have to double the recipe and add it to your brunch menu. Whoever loves deviled eggs will love this recipe. Served as a side, in a sandwich or over a bed of butter lettuce with sliced heirloom tomatoes and celery sticks for a complete meal on its own. I could literally take a spoon and eat this right out of the mixing bowl!

Continue reading “Creamy Deviled Egg Salad”

Back to School Lunch Ideas

I can’t believe how quickly this summer has gone by. The first day of school is just a few days away. Uniforms…check, books and supplies…check. Last thing to do is to come up with fresh and new ideas for back to school lunches. This has always been kind of frustrating for me because I have everything from the picky eater, to the vegetarian and everything else in between.

Continue reading “Back to School Lunch Ideas”

Jenn’s Homemade Chicken Soup

It’s been raining like crazy in my little corner of the world this past week. This has kept me focused in the kitchen, which I love, but it has also given me a craving for homemade chicken noodle soup. This recipe is so easy you won’t hesitate to make it anytime. Best part is you probably already have the ingredients in your fridge and pantry and it’s done in under 45 minutes from start to finish. I hope this chicken soup warms your soul as it always does mine!

Continue reading “Jenn’s Homemade Chicken Soup”

Buttermilk Cinnamon Pancakes

On the weekends I usually have some more time in the mornings to make something a little special for breakfast. Since at our house, it’s usually milk and cereal or bagel with cream cheese on weekdays, I like to give the kids a chance to make a special request on the weekends. Many times it’s homemade pancakes as it was this past Saturday. Their favorite is buttermilk cinnamon pancakes and maybe some chocolate chips as a treat.

Stack of homemade buttermilk cinnamon pancakes
Stack of homemade buttermilk cinnamon pancakes

Pancakes are a big deal at our house so when it came time to settle on our favorite recipe, we ended up with a combination of what some of my kids and my favorite flavors are. The three special ingredients are cinnamon, buttermilk and…

Continue reading “Buttermilk Cinnamon Pancakes”

Grilled Peach and Ricotta Crostini

The best fruit of this summer season in my small corner of the world has been the PEACH and this peach and ricotta crostini is my new favorite. There are still several weeks of summer left and I have a feeling you’ll be making this recipe even beyond that. Since I started my food blogging venture a bit late in the season, I’m working overtime to share some more summertime recipe before we start rolling out recipes for fall.

Let me warn you, these crostinis are addictive. I know this because as I was testing different versions with my hubby we could not stop eating them. Seriously, I almost didn’t have enough to take the pictures. Although other versions I tested were good, this one blew my mind.

Grilled peach and ricotta crostini with crispy prosciutto and sweet basil
Grilled Peach and Ricotta Crostini

In general, crostini recipes can be easily modified to serve 4-8-16 people. When you slice the baguette thin for crostinis, it can yield between 30-32, 1/2 inch slices. The ingredient quantities in the recipe I created is for 8 servings (2 crostinis per serving because you can’t just have one trust me) so that’s 16 slices in total. If you make the entire loaf just double the recipe. If not you’ll have about half of the baguette to use for something else.

I have to admit, when I met my husband and started cooking more Italian foods, I had a super hard time with ricotta cheese. It’s just one of those cheeses that is different in consistency and lacks in flavor so it has to be seasoned. Ricotta can knock a recipe out of the park or it can totally ruin it for me if it’s not prepared properly. That said, I’m so excited for you to try this grilled peach and ricotta crostini because I’m convinced this ricotta is like butter it’s that good.

Testing the recipe

The crunch of the baguette, the creamy ricotta, together with the slight saltiness of the crispy prosciutto, and the sweetness of the grilled peach… top that with fresh sweet basil and a drizzle of maple syrup….YUUUUMMM. After testing several versions by unanimous vote, this is the recipe that will definitely be on the menu for brunch. You can really make this for any occasion for breakfast, lunch or dinner, I would totally have this for dessert. Everyone will love it. As I was testing the recipe, my second favorite was drizzled with balsamic glaze. I just love love love balsamic glaze and use it in may recipes. If you decide the try it with the glaze, be careful to drizzle lightly because too much will overpower all the other flavors. This is why I chose the version with maple syrup. Maple syrup (the real thing friends, not that high fructose syrup stuff) is honestly one of those things you can never have too much of.

Toasting the baguette slices

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and bake for 8 minutes. Just set the timer. My favorite part is you don’t have to keep an eye on them because they always come out perfect. A few minutes before I put them in I brush some olive oil on them and sprinkle some coarse sea salt. I only brush the tops by the way. When they’re done set aside. This can actually be done several hours before hand if you way to get it out of the way.

Grilled peach crostini with a lemon zest and maple infused ricotta, crispy bacon and sweet basil
Toasted baguette creamy ricotta crispy prosciutto sweet peach and basil drizzled with maple syrup

It was pouring at my house when I was making this so, I decided to bring out my panini press. I made everything on my counter instead of having to fire up the grill outside. Even though the whole process only took me about 15 minutes from start to finish, the panini press was a time saver. While I was grilling the peach slices on one half, I was cooking the prosciutto on the other. Since a crostini is a type of “finger food” meant to be eaten in a couple of bites, I think a little goes a long way as far as the amount of toppings. Also, making sure that everything is chopped so the toppings don’t fall off (for the most part) when you take a bite is key.

The ricotta

Meanwhile I prepared the ricotta (whole milk ricotta is so much better for this recipe). One cup was just enough. I stirred in the zest of one lemon and 1 1/2 tbsp. of real maple syrup. If you add more, the ricotta becomes a bit liquidy. Stir in a pinch of kosher salt (it made all the difference) and that’s it.

Grilling the peaches and prosciutto

For the peaches and the prosciutto… preheat the grill to 420 degrees. Give the peaches a quick rinse in cool water. You don’t even have to peel them. Just remove the seed and slice into 1/2 inch wedges. For the next step you really do have to stand by because it happens fast. Place half prosciutto slices on the preheated grill and then do the same for the peach slices. Close the press and count to 30. Don’t peek! It’s that fast. Remove the peaches first and then the prosciutto. The first batch I made, I left on for just a bit longer and they got mushy. Place the slices on the baking sheet and then go for the second batch. Rough chop the prosciutto, this will help to give a clean bite every time. It’s that easy, you’re ready to put the crostini together.

How to put this crostini together

Baguette slice – spread 1/2 tsp. ricotta mix – pile on the prosciutto bits – top with 2-3 slices of peach and basil chiffonade – drizzle with maple = HAPPY DANCE for you tummy!

grilled peach and ricotta crostini is a must have on every brunch menu
Grilled peach crostini is a must have on every brunch menu

Ingredients

  • Baguette loaf cut into 1/2 inch slices (16 for this recipe)
  • Two ripe peaches, thin sliced wedges
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • Coarse Kosher salt
  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. real maple syrup, plus more for drizzling
  • 4-6 thin slices of Prosciutto Di Parma
  • Pinch of Kosher salt
  • Fresh basil leaves (chiffonade)
Fresh yellow peaches and sweet basil
Fresh peaches and sweet basil

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place baguette slices on a baking sheet and brush with the tops with good extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with coarse Kosher salt.
  3. Bake for 8 minutes. Then set aside.
  4. In a small bowl stir together the ricotta, lemon zest, maple syrup and kosher salt. Place in the fridge while preparing the peaches and prosciutto.
  5. Preheat panini grill to 420 degrees.
  6. Rinse the peaches in cold water. Remove the seed and slice into 1/2 inch wedges.
  7. Take half of the prosciutto slices and place on one side of the grill and half the peach slices on the other.
  8. Close the grill and cook for 30 seconds. Remove the peaches and spread out on a baking sheet. Then do the same for the prosciutto. The peaches are delicate when sliced thin for this recipe so keep an eye on them. You don’t want to overcook them or you’ll be making peach compote instead. Repeat with the second batch.
  9. Rough chop the prosciutto.
  10. Spread 1/2 tsp. of the ricotta mix on each baguette slice.
  11. Sprinkle on some prosciutto. Be generous πŸ™‚
  12. Top with 2-3 slices of peach.
  13. Sprinkle the basil and drizzle with maple.
  14. Enjoy!
Print

Grilled Peach and Ricotta Crostini

The very best brunch, lunch or dinner appetizer for the summer!! So good you can even serve this for dessert and everyone will love it. Crispy baguette slices, creamy ricotta, salty prosciutto, sweet peaches, basil and maple syrup.

  • Author: Jennifer
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 9 minutes
  • Total Time: 29 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x
  • Category: Appetizer, brunch, Dessert, lunch
  • Cuisine: American
Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 Baguette loaf (cut in 1/2 slices)
  • 2 ripe peaches sliced in thin wedges
  • 1 tbsp good olive oil
  • coarse Kosher salt
  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta
  • 1 lemon (zested)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp real maple syrup
  • 46 thin slices Prosciutto Di Parma
  • pinch of Kosher salt
  • 6 fresh basil leaves (chiffonade)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place baguette slices on a baking sheet and brush with the tops with good extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with coarse Kosher salt.
  3. Bake for 8 minutes then set aside.
  4. In a small bowl stir together the ricotta, lemon zest, maple syrup and kosher salt. Place in the fridge while preparing the peaches and prosciutto.
  5. Preheat panini grill 420 degrees.
  6. Rinse the peaches in cold water. Remove the seed and slice into 1/2 inch wedges.
  7. Take half of the prosciutto slices and place on one side of the grill and half the peach slices on the other.
  8. Close the grill and cook for 30 seconds. Remove the peaches and spread out on a baking sheet. Then do the same for the prosciutto. The peaches are delicate when sliced thin for this recipe so keep an eye on them. You don’t want to overcook them or you’ll be making peach compote instead. Repeat with the second batch.
  9. Rough chop the prosciutto.
  10. Spread 1/2 tsp. of the ricotta mix on each baguette slice.
  11. Sprinkle on some prosciutto. Be generous πŸ™‚
  12. Top with 2-3 slices of peach.
  13. Sprinkle the basil and drizzle with maple.
  14. Enjoy!

Notes

Try a light drizzle of balsamic glaze instead of the maple for a more savory flavor.

You can toast the bread a few hours in advance and keep at room temperature.

You can prepare the ricotta mixture up to 24 hours in advance and refrigerate in an airtight container.

If you use an outdoor bbq grill, don’t put the peach slices directly on the grill. Instead use a grill pan over the bbq to get the gill marks.

Jennifer Lopez

Blueberry Bourbon Smash Pitcher

Offer me a drink where a good bourbon is involved and I’m in. It’s always 5 o’clock somewhere right? Today happens to be Wednesday and what better than a refreshing mid-week cocktail after a long day.

My favorite Bourbon for a smash is Woodford Reserve. It just blends so well with sweet cocktails. The original version of a smash goes back to the 1800’s and its a concoction of spirits, sugar, mint and fruit in juice and for the garnish. Even though I didn’t have any mint on hand during the making of this cocktail, I did have more blueberries than I could possibly consume in a fruit salad. This got me thinking of what I could create to make the BEST use of them and what better than a blueberry simple syrup that would go perfect in my cocktail. Logically this would help me think better of what I was going to do with the remaining blueberries right. πŸ˜‰

Continue reading “Blueberry Bourbon Smash Pitcher”

Heirloom Tomato Caprese Salad

There is nothing better than cooking with fruits and vegetables that are in season. Now a days we can find pretty much anything in the market, in season or not. But when you bake a cobbler with ripe in-season peaches…GLORIOUS! For the best tasting Caprese salad ever, I chose beautiful heirloom tomatoes because Summer=Tomatoes=Happiness.

sliced yellow and red heirloom tomatoes, bufala mozzarella, fresh basil leaves and balsamic glaze
Quick and easy summer time salad with heirloom tomatoes and bufala mozzarella

WHAT IS A CAPRESE SALAD AND WHY THE HEIRLOOM TOMATOES?

Potted herb garden with basil thyme and rosemary
Basil, thyme and rosemary from the garden

Caprese salad is a simple Italian salad made with tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, sweet basil and seasoned with olive oil, salt and pepper. Not only does this salad pack a punch of flavor but you can make it in 5 minutes, really. The tomatoes are sliced and are arranged on a plate alternating with thick slices of fresh mozzarella and garnished with basil. This is a very popular summer salad because its refreshinf, tomatoes are in season and did I mention its so easy to make. This is typically served as an appetizer but add slices of (store bought..yes you read correctly) roasted chicken breast for an delicious weeknight meal. This is a great time to use fresh basil from your garden. My garden is really small as I’m not so great (I’m terrible actually) at growing plants but herbs are a bit more manageable in small containers that I can place right on my windowsill. For my twist on the traditional Caprese, I left out the cracked pepper and olive oil. I did add a drizzle of balsamic glaze.

As I was shopping ingredients for another recipe I happened upon the most beautiful, colorful, perfectly ripe heirloom tomatoes today and voila an heirloom tomato salad appeared on my kitchen counter for lunch. I’m a little embarrassed to say that the first time I saw an heirloom tomato was not that long ago when they opened a Whole Foods market in my area. I’ve been a city girl my whole life so farmers markets were not something I had the opportunity to frequent growing up. When I finally did see them in the market though, I have to say, I walked right by them for the longest because, let’s be honest, they are a little weird looking. Until I saw them on a cooking show so I took the plunge and goodness was that a great choice. I look forward to summertime every year just to have a bite (or two or more but who’s counting) of these delicious treats.

Bowl of red, yellow and green heirloom tomatoes
Farm stand heirloom tomato varieties

Heirloom tomatoes have been grown by generations of gardeners who did not genetically modify the tomato seeds. This means heirlooms are not as resistant to disease and have a shorter shelf life. This is also what gives them that strong tomato flavor that you won’t get from a regular tomato. Heirloom variety tomatoes are open-pollinated which means you can actually take the seeds and plant them to grow your own.

Ingredients

  • 3-4 medium – large size heirloom tomatoes of your favorite variety and color, sliced thick
  • Fresh Mozzarella, sliced thick
  • 10 sweet basil leaves
  • 2 tsp. of balsamic glaze
  • Coarse sea salt to taste

Directions

Platter of bright and juicy heirloom tomatoes with fresh mozzarella balsamic glaze and basil leaves
Best summer salad with fresh Burrata juicy heirloom tomatoes and sweet basi
  1. On a serving platter, arrange the tomato slices alternating with the mozzarella slices.
  2. Garnish with sweet basil leaves throughout.
  3. Sprinkle with sea salt.
  4. Drizzle with balsamic glaze.
  5. Enjoy!

Notes

sliced yellow and red heirloom tomato salad with bufala mozzarella and toasted crostini
Serve this delicious heirloom tomato and bufala salad with a
toasted crostini or baguette slices
  • This can be served on its own or with crunchy slices of freshly toasted crostini.
  • You can drizzle good quality olive oil and season with fresh cracked black pepper for a closer version of the traditional.
  • This can be made up to 24 hours in advance but do not season until ready to serve. This includes the balsamic glaze and the olive oil, if using.
  • You probably won’t have leftovers but if you’re lucky then cover and refrigerate. Consume the following day. Note, it will not look the same as the glaze will spread and remember that the salt will bring out the juices from the tomatoes so you will see some liquid. It should still be very tasty.
Print

Heirloom Tomato Caprese Salad

Best summer salad ever. Make in 5 minutes with fresh mozzarella, ripe juicy heirloom tomatoes, sweet basil, sea salt and balsamic glaze.

  • Author: Jennifer
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Appetizer, Salad
  • Cuisine: Italian
Scale

Ingredients

  • 34 medium to large heirloom tomatoes (sliced thick)
  • 4 oz. Mozzarella Burrata
  • 8 sweet basil leaves
  • 2 tsp balsamic glaze
  • sea salt (to taste)

Instructions

  1. On a serving platter, arrange alternating slices of tomato and burrata
  2. Garnish with sweet basil
  3. Sprinkle with sea salt
  4. Drizzle with balsamic glaze

Notes

  • This can be served on its own or with crunchy slices of freshly toasted crostini.
  • You can drizzle good quality olive oil and season with fresh cracked black pepper for a closer version of the traditional.
  • This can be made up to 24 hours in advance but do not season until ready to serve. This includes the balsamic glaze and the olive oil, if using.
  • You probably won’t have leftovers but if you’re lucky then cover and refrigerate. Consume the following day. Note, it will not look the same as the glaze will spread through the tomatoes and the salt will bring out the juices from the tomatoes so you will see some liquid. It will still be very tasty though.

Mushroom Saffron Risotto

Rich and Creamy Mushroom Saffron Risotto

It’s no secret to all who know me that I absolutely LOVE RICE. It came as no surprise that a few years ago I thought my world was coming to an end. Due to some health issues, my Dr. said I had to change certain things about my diet, one of which, was eliminating rice altogether. Needless to say, from that point on, my mission was to do everything I could to get better and bring “rice” (and everything else that was taken away) back on the menu. Long story short…mission accomplished.

Some of my fondest memories as a child were dinners at my grandmas house. I’m pretty sure I got my love for food and cooking from her. Thank you grandma! I remember playing with my cousins and all of a sudden stopping to take in the amazing aroma coming from inside the house. It always amazed me how she would cook every meal to perfection with ease. Of all the wonderful dishes she made, I cannot remember a single meal which, “rice” was not included and sometimes even took center stage as the star in one of my all-time favorites “Arroz con Pollo” (creamy yellow rice with chicken, garnished with green peas and roasted red peppers). By the way, this was the only way, they could get me to eat either of the last two ingredients. I will soon share more about that dish so stay tuned.

Let’s talk about what is Risotto

Risotto is a traditional Italian creamy rice dish made with a short-grain, starchy variety of rice called Arborio. Naturally, the first time I tasted “risotto”, I fell in love. There are many types of risotto but what makes it consistent is the method of cooking, which allows the rice to release its starch and gives it that creamy-rich consistency we all crave, right (my mouth is actually watering right now). My favorites include seafood risotto, mushroom risotto, butternut squash risotto and for an easy to make yet so comforting meal Parmesan risotto.

It’s really hard for me to go to an Italian restaurant and order something other than whatever risotto special they have on or off the menu. That being said, I have been craving all kinds of comfort food lately and it’s made me go crazy in the kitchen whipping up all kinds of deliciousness which lead me to sharing my take on Mushroom Risotto with you today.

The first time I made mushroom risotto at home, I followed the recipe by Ina Garten. She has been such an inspiration to me. Many of my family’s favorites come from her cookbooks (which I own every single one). When I first made this dish, I followed her recipe to the letter and it is absolutely glorious. One day though, when I wanted to make it but couldn’t get to the market, I had to use what I had on hand and it turned out so good. This is the version I am going to share with you in this post. I hope you and your family love it as much as I do. First let’s talk about…

Is Rice and Risotto good for you

Whenever I make a rice dish and I give the left overs to my fan club (my parents and sisters) I always get “the look”. You know the one I mean. I know in many weight loss diets out there, rice in general is a no no for reasons I don’t believe to make sense for all of us. I am NOT a dietitian so I did a little research to find some kind of evidence that would advocate the health benefits of rice so I won’t feel so guilty every time I’m enjoying a bowl. On WebMD I found there actually is a diet that’s been around since 1939 and gained a new wave of popularity when the Rice Diet Solution was published. It claims you’ll lose weight by slashing calories, sodium, fat, sugar, and protein, while cleansing and detoxifying your body. That is a win win win for me. Of course the plan has restrictions and includes fresh fruits and vegetables among other things as well as exercise. To read the entire article you can go to WebMD and look up The Rice Diet. This being said and noted πŸ˜‰ there are low-carb diets out there which can promote weight loss and improve health for many people. However, this may not apply to everyone. My motto will continue to be “Everything in moderation.” Now that I got that out of the way let’s talk about…

How to make risotto

There are tons of recipes out there for risotto and I’ll be sharing all my creations with you because essentially it is rice which is basically a blank canvas that you can pair with just about anything, it’s fairly easy to make and it can be a meal on its own. The process for making risotto is a labor of love but if you have 20 minutes to dedicate, I promise it’s well worth the time and effort. The base for all risottos is rice and stock. There are four basic steps.

  • The first is to heat up the stock to a simmer. This is really important as when you ladle small amounts into the risotto as it cooks you want the temperature to remain constant. I use homemade stock for this recipe, but if you don’t have any a good quality, low sodium stock will be good too.
  • Next you melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed pot or a dutch oven. By the way, in all of my recipes whenever you see butter as an ingredient ( in case I forget to tell you later) I always use unsalted butter. If the risotto recipe calls for onions or another ingredient that needs to be sauteed, as this one does, you’ll want to do that at this point before adding the rice. Otherwise, stir in the rice making sure all the grains are coated in the butter (about a minute or two). If the recipe calls for wine, which most do, you’ll add that and cook for about two minutes. This will allow the alcohol to cook off. A rule of thumb for all recipes with wine, I only use wine that I will actually drink myself. This is so important for the final flavor of the dish. Besides most recipes only call for a small amount which leaves the rest for me to drink πŸ™‚ If you prefer to leave it out all together, you can (it just won’t taste as good).
  • Reduce the heat. While stirring with a wooden spoon, begin to ladle in the stock. For the first time, add 2 ladles full . Allow the rice to cook (don’t touch it) for about 5 minutes. Keep an eye on in to make sure it doesn’t dry up completely. Ladle about 1/2 cup or one ladle at a time, all the while stirring gently in between. Each time, cook until you see the liquid has been mostly absorbed, before adding more. You’ll continue this process for about 20-25 minutes until the rice is cooked through, but still al dente. You’ll know its done when the risotto looks creamy and thick from absorbing the stock. It should not be dry at all.
  • Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese and any fresh herbs the recipe calls for. You’re done!

It’s as easy as that.

Dried Procini Mushrooms, Diced Pancetta, Arborio Rice

Ingredients

  • 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1/2 lb. fresh baby bella mushrooms
  • 5 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 8 tbsp. unsalted butter( 1 stick)
  • 4 ounces diced pancetta
  • 1 cup finely diced yellow onion
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1/2 dry white wine
  • 1 tsp. saffron threads
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, preferably freshly grated

Directions

Sauted onions, pancetta and mushrooms
Stir in the stock mix a ladle at a time and stir every few minutes
  1. Place the dried procini mushrooms into a bowl with 2 cups of really hot water. Set it aside for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, remove the stems of the baby bella and chop them. Wipe the caps with a damp paper towel to remove any dirt. Slice them and set these aside.
  2. Scoop out the porcini mushrooms, pour the liquid through a strainer and into another bowl. Chop the porcini in half and remove any stems. Set the mushrooms and liquid aside separately.
  3. In a saucepan, heat up the stock and the mushroom liquid to a simmer.
  4. In a heavy bottomed pot, melt the butter. Saute the onions and pancetta for about 5-8 minutes until the pancetta begins to brown a bit and the onions are translucent. Add the porcinis and baby bellas and saute for another 5 minutes.
  5. Add the rice and stir to coat all the grains. Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes.
  6. Stir in 2 ladles full of the stock mix, saffron, salt and pepper. Simmer over low heat for about 5 minutes until most of the stock is absorbed. Continue to add the stock mix 1 ladle at a time, stirring every few minutes. Each time, wait until most of the stock had been absorbed before adding more.
  7. Continue this process until the rice is cooked through and there is a ladle of stock left, about 20-25 minutes. The risotto should be creamy and thick from absorbing all yummy stock and not dry at all.
  8. Remove from the heat and stir in the final ladle of stock and the Parmesan.
  9. Serve right away and don’t forget to sprinkle some extra Parmesan.
  10. Enjoy!
Best for a comfort food craving and to add to a fall menu
Print

Mushroom Saffron Risotto

Creamy dreamy risotto with mushrooms and saffron

  • Author: Jennifer
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Main Course
  • Cuisine: Italian
Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 oz dried procini mushrooms
  • 1 lb fresh baby bella mushrooms
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups liquid from mushrooms
  • 4 oz diced pancetta
  • 8 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 cup yellow onion (finely diced)
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tsp saffron threads
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese (freshly grated)

Instructions

  1. Place the dried procini mushrooms into a bowl with 2 cups of really hot water. Set it aside for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, remove the stems of the baby bella and wipe the caps with a damp paper towel to remove any dirt. Slice them and set aside.
  2. Scoop out the porcini mushrooms, pour the liquid through a strainer and into another bowl. Set the mushrooms and liquid aside separately.
  3. In a saucepan, heat up the stock and the mushroom liquid to a simmer.
  4. In a heavy bottomed pot, melt the butter. Saute the onions and pancetta for about 5-8 minutes until the pancetta begins to brown a bit and the onions are translucent. Add the porcinis and baby bellas and saute for another 5 minutes.
  5. Add the rice and stir to coat all the grains. Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes.
  6. Stir in 2 ladles full of the stock mix, saffron, salt and pepper. Simmer over low heat for about 5 minutes until most of the stock is absorbed. Continue to add the stock mix 1 ladle at a time, stirring every few minutes. Each time, wait until most of the stock had been absorbed before adding more.
  7. Continue this process until the rice is cooked through and there is a ladle of stock left, about 20-25 minutes. The risotto should be creamy and thick from absorbing all yummy stock and not dry at all.
  8. Remove from the heat and stir in the final ladle of stock and the Parmesan.
  9. Enjoy!

Notes

*You can omit the wine, if you prefer.

*To make this a vegetarian dish, you can leave out the pancetta.

*Serve hot and don’t forget to sprinkle some extra Parmesan cheese on top before serving.

Β 

Tomato Mozzarella Crostini

Crostinis are so versatile and easy to make. I have made countless different types both savory and sweet. I can’t resist making some version of a crostini at every party. They are the perfect cocktail appetizer and once you make this recipe you will know why.

Before I get to this recipe, I have to tell you there was a time when I used the words crostini and bruschetta interchangeably. To me they meant the same thing (a toasted piece of bread topped with something delicious). Although that is partially true, one day early on in my marriage, as I was so proudly passing around my delicious “bruschetta” appetizers to my guests, my mother-in-law, who is Italian, asked me if I knew the difference between the two. Honestly, it had never occurred to me. I have to share this with you in case someone ever asks you that same question, you’ll be armed with knowledge. So here’s what I found when I looked into the meaning of the two besides the fact that apparently the main difference is the type of bread.

Crostini literally means “little toasts” in Italian. They are thin round slices of toasted bread cut from a small baguette type loaf. They are typically brushed with good quality olive oil and most of the time used as a canape, topped with cheese, tomatoes, all kinds of pesto, olive tapenade…. well you get the idea. My mother-in-law maintains these are best used as croutons for soups and salads. While I love using them for that too, I love to serve them as a bite sized appetizer. Perfect for cocktail parties.

Bruschetta comes from the Italian word bruscare meaning “to roast over coals” Who knew? Not me. The slices are long, thick and cut from a rustic Italian or sourdough loaf. As the original meaning suggests, the bread was grilled over fire which gives it that charred effect for a crunch every bite. Traditionally the bread is rubbed with a raw garlic clove, drizzled with olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt.

Ingredients

  • Baguette Loaf
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 pint of cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup of red onion
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp. fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 4-5 ciliegine (mozzarella balls), small dice
  • Coarse sea salt
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

How to make the crostini

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Slice baguette diagonally into 1 inch thick slices and place on a baking sheet.
  3. Brush the bread with good quality extra virgin olive oil. Don’t be shy with this..make sure you get it on there all the way up to the edges.
  4. Sprinkle with sea salt.
  5. Bake for 8 minutes or until you see the edges of the bread starting to brown.
  6. Meanwhile dice the ciliegine, tomatoes and the onions. Set aside in a small bowl.
  7. Mince the garlic and add to the bowl.
  8. Squeeze the fresh lemon juice and add to the mix.
  9. Sprinkle salt and pepper.
  10. Stir to combine and set aside.
  11. Allow the crostinis time to cool to the touch and top with the tomato mix.
  12. Sprinkle with fresh basil.
  13. For the final touch, drizzle the crostinis with balsamic glaze.
  14. Enjoy!

Notes

  • These are best served room temperature.
  • The tomato mix can be made up to 24 hours in advance, covered and refrigerated.
  • Drizzle the balsamic glaze once you’re ready to serve.
  • If you have any left over of the tomato mix, it will keep for a few days in the refrigerator.
Print

Tomato Mozzarella Crostini

Thin sliced baguette topped with my delicious twist on a pico de gallo salsa

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 8 minutes
  • Total Time: 18 minutes
  • Yield: 10 1x
  • Category: Appetizer
  • Cuisine: Italian
Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 Baguette loaf
  • 2 tbsp good quality olive oil
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup red onion (small diced)
  • 23 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil (finely chopped)
  • 1 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 45 ciliegine (mozzarella balls) (diced)
  • Coarse sea salt to taste
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp balsamic glaze

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Slice baguette diagonally 1 inch thick and place on a baking sheet.
  3. Brush the slices with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.
  4. Bake for 8 minutes or until edges begin to brown and the crostini looks golden and toasty.
  5. Dice the ciliegine, tomatoes and onions. Place in a small mixing bowl.
  6. Mince the garlic and add to the mix.
  7. Squeeze the lemon juice and pour over the mix.
  8. Sprinkle with kosher salt and cracked pepper.
  9. Stir the mix to combine.
  10. When the crostinis are cool to the touch, top with the tomato mix and sprinkle of fresh basil.
  11. For the final touch drizzle the crostinis with balsamic glaze.
  12. Enjoy!

Marinated Mozzarella Ciliegine

Marinated mozzarella

Thinking back on my childhood I can remember not liking cheese at all, not even on a burger (I’m still particular about that by the way). Boy did that change! Especially this summer, I’ve been on a rampage making every other recipe with some kind of cheese. This particular recipe happens to be one of my favs because I can literally make this in 5 minutes, it looks so pretty on the table and everyone loves mozzarella. I like to use the 16 oz. mason jar with the wide mouth. This will fit about 28 ciliegines plus the oil, herbs and spices.

Don’t let the fancy name for these Mozzarella Ciliegine (small balls of mozzarella) trick you into thinking it’s as hard to make as it might be for some of us (me included) to pronounce because it really is super easy. You can prepare this up to 2-3 days in advance and they’ll taste even better if you do. About half an hour before serving, take it out of the refrigerator. This will bring the oil back to room temperature. Ciliegine is a bite sized ball of delicious melt-in-your-mouth-fresh mozzarella. If you can’t find Ciliegine in your local market, you can use Bocconcini as well. They’re just a tad larger and I don’t think any one is going to complain about a larger bite of this deliciousness. I love to serve appetizers at all my parties whether it’s a cocktail party, dinner party or birthday party. Since I can make these ahead of time and every one always loves them, I make them often. These can be served along side most any other appetizer you make and they will be amazing! I like to prepare these in a mason jar and place them right next to a charcuterie board. I love to enjoy them with crunchy bread sticks, but they will disappear just the same if served on their own.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. fresh ciliengine or bocconcini, drained of any liquid
  • 3/4 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic gloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp. flat leaf Italian parsley, finely chopped
  • 3 sprigs of fresh thyme, just the leaves (about 1tbsp.)
  • 1 tbsp. fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes or to taste
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1tsp. Kosher salt or to taste
Good quality extra virgin olive oil, parsley, basil, thyme,garlic, red pepper flakes, lemon zest, salt and pepper

Instructions

1. Remove the mozzarella balls from the container and place in a mason jar or glass bowl. I like to use the wide mouth 16 oz. size which will serve about 8 (28-30 ciliegine). Depending on the brand or package you buy, you may have some left to use in another recipe.

2. In another small bowl or measuring cup stir together all the other ingredients until well combined.

3. If preparing in a mason jar, pour the mixture over the ciliegine, close with the lid and give it a few shakes to make sure all that yummy goodness is well distributed throughout the entire jar. If preparing in a bowl stir the olive oil mixture with the ciliegine, cover with plastic wrap.

4. Let it rest on the counter for at least 20 minutes and up to 2 hours before serving so the mozzarella has time to absorb the flavors of the marinade.

5. Enjoy!

Extra virgin olive oil and fresh spices with delicious mozzarella bites

How to serve these delicious bites

I like to serve these at a party with crunchy bread sticks, pita chips, or toasted baguette, but they are just as good on their own for a small snack too.

These are also a nice compliment to a platter with cured meats and veggies like roasted red peppers, artichokes, marinated olives, cornichons…this takes it to another level!

Notes

After a couple of hours in the refrigerator, the oil will solidify so don’t forget to allow time for it to come to room temperature before serving.

For the lemon zest, I like to use a peeler and cut a couple of thin slices of the zest and finely chop them. The lemony taste of the thyme and the chopped lemon zest really jump out in the great flavors of this recipe.

Print

Mozzarella Ciliegine

Creamy fresh mozzarella balls marinated in extra virgin olive oil, fresh herbs and spices

  • Author: Jennifer
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 120 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x
  • Category: Appetizer
  • Cuisine: Italian
Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. Mozzarella Ciliegine
  • 3/4 cup Olive oil (extra virgin)
  • 3 cloves Garlic (minced)
  • 1 tbsp. Fresh flat leaf parsley (finely chopped)
  • 3 sprigs Thyme (stems removed)
  • 1 tbsp. Fresh basil (finely chopped)
  • 1/2 tsp. Dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. Crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp. Lemon zest (finely chopped)
  • 1 tsp. Kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Remove Ciliegine from the store bought container and place them in a glass bowl or mason jar and set aside.
  2. In a separate bowl or measuring cup add all other ingredients and stir until well combined.
  3. Cover and let rest at room temperature for 20 minutes and up to 2 hours if you can. The longer it sits the better it will taste.
  4. Enjoy!