Be Bold Blueberry Cockail

Posted on: Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Happy International Women’s Day! Since the 1900s, the holiday has been a global celebration of women’s achievements and a call for gender equality. We’ve witnessed some significant, historic shifts this year, and wanted to toast everyone’s courageous, unifying efforts … in the form of a cocktail.

Inspired by this year’s theme, #BeBoldforChange, we concocted a fierce, punchy, purple-hued cocktail using fresh blueberries and ginger beer. Dating back to the days of the suffrage movement, purple symbolizes justice and dignity. The addition of citrusy lime adds a touch of green, symbolizing hope. Here's our bold take on a classic to commemorate this day!
Be Bold Blueberry Cocktail

1/2 c fresh blueberries (plus more for garnish)
1 t granulated sugar
1/3 c water (to submerge the blueberries)
1 lime, wedged (plus 2 more wedges for garnish)
1 (12 oz) bottle ginger beer
3 oz vodka

In a small sauce pan, simmer the blueberries, sugar and water for 6-8 minutes or until the sauce has thickened and the blueberries burst. Remove from heat and let cool. Once cooled, sieve the liquid into a small bowl.

Fill two glasses with ice. Add 1 Tablespoon of blueberry syrup and a squeeze of lime juice to each glass. Add 1.5 oz vodka and half a bottle of ginger beer to each glass. Vigorously stir with a spoon or cocktail stirrer and serve with a lime wedge on each.  
"There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish." - Michelle Obama

Baci Sundae

Posted on: Monday, February 13, 2017

While studying abroad in Florence, I fell in love with Baci Perugina candies. I first opened one of the sparkly blue foiled wrappers at a mercato near my host home and was overcome by the dark chocolate coated mix of creamy and whole hazelnuts. The Baci (“kisses” in Italian) chocolates have been around since the 1930s, and have been symbols of affection for many Italians (each chocolate is wrapped with a tiny love note inside).
For Valentine’s Day, I was inspired to build a Baci-themed sundae. I recently discovered the craze of DIY chocolate shells by simply combining a chocolate bar and coconut oil. The way the melted chocolate turns into a crackly shell when drizzled over ice cream is sort of magical. I added a bit of flare to my chocolate shell with some hazelnut liqueur and generously drizzled it over rich vanilla ice cream with a sprinkling of toasty hazelnuts and a subtly sweet crunch of shredded coconut on top. Crack through the shell and enjoy!
Baci Sundaes with a Chocolate Hazelnut Shell

1 c (8 oz) chopped dark chocolate (I love Ghiradelli)
2 T coconut oil
1 T Frangelico hazelnut liqueur (optional)
Vanilla Ice Cream (I love Haagen Daz)
20 toasted hazelnuts, halved
1/3 c shredded coconut

Place the chopped dark chocolate and coconut oil in a bowl and microwave on high for 30 seconds. Stir in the Frangelico and then microwave again in 10 second intervals until the chocolate is smooth and glossy.

Scoop your desired amount of Vanilla Ice Cream into 2 bowls. Top with a generous drizzle of the melted chocolate sauce on top of each. Sprinkle the toasted hazelnuts and shredded coconut on top of the chocolatge. By then the chocolate should be almost firm. Crack in with your spoon and enjoy. Makes 2.

If you have leftover chocolate sauce, just pour it into a mason jar, cover tightly and refrigerate. When ready to use again, just reheat in the microwave and spoon. Or! Slice up some fresh bananas, dip them in the chocolate and place them in the freezer for a poppable dessert!

Greek Nachos

Posted on: Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Nachos are a must for Superbowl Sunday. The layered chips oozing with cheese and overflowing with toppings are the perfect nibbles while enthralled in the game.
To add a Greek flare to the traditional snack, I looked to my kitchen staples . Instead of tortilla chips, I grabbed Stacy’s Pita Chips to begin my layering. I sidelined ground meat for Loukaniko sausage, dolloped Tzatziki instead of sour cream, and subbed in some quick pickled green peppers instead of spicy salsa. The feta and Kasseri cheeses connected seamlessly like Brady passing to Hogan in the end zone. To finish, I sprinkled a medley of diced tomatoes, Kalamata olives and fresh mint atop the bubbling scape. The colorful Mediterranean myriad of red and white toppings atop a blue platter was an ode to our mighty Patriots.
Greek Nachos

1 green pepper, halved and thinly sliced
2 T red wine vinegar
1/2 t granulated sugar
8 oz plain Greek yogurt
1/4 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and grated
1 clove minced garlic
1 T lemon juice
1/2 t dried mint
1/2 t dried oregano
1 (18 oz) bag pita chips (homemade or I love Stacy’s)
1 c mild grating cheese (I used Kasseri, could use Monterrey Jack)
1 c crumbled feta cheese, (plus more for garnish)
3 links Loukaniko sausage, casing removed and diced
1 c diced tomatoes
2/3 c sliced Kalamata olives
1/4 c fresh mint leaves
2 shallots, diced
Salt and pepper throughout

Pickled Green Peppers: Mix the green peppers, red wine vinegar, big pinch of salt and sugar in a shallow bold and let marinate in the fridge- at least 30 minutes (and up to a day).

Tzatziki: In another small bowl, mix the Greek yogurt, grated cucumber, garlic, EVOO, lemon juice, dried mint, dried oregano, salt and pepper and let meld in the fridge.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. As the oven preheats, in a small skillet lightly fry the Loukaniko cubes. Once golden, pour onto a plate with paper towel to drain.

Assembly: On a large baking sheet, arrange a layer of half of the pita chips across. Cover with half of the cheeses, and half of the Loukaniko. Add another layer of pita chips and cover again with the remaining cheeses and Loukaniko. Sprinkle with the shallots and bake for 15 minutes or until the cheeses are bubbling and the chips are lightly golden. Next, top the warm nachos with the diced tomatoes, Kalamata olives, and Pickled Green Peppers (strained from the vinegar liquid). Dollop across with Tzatziki and sprinkle with the fresh mint leaves. Serves 4-6.
Go Pats!!

Busy Brussels Sprout Salad

Posted on: Thursday, January 19, 2017

As we jump into 2017, the new year debuts new recipes inspired by local spots and seasonal ingredients. One of my favorite neighborhood spots is Area Four in Cambridge. Whether stopping in for their A4 Sausage and Pickled Banana Pepper pizza or morning Frittata breakfast sandwich, they make most everything in-house with quality, fresh ingredients throughout the day and evening. While their pizza is my favorite in the Cambridge area, another go-to dish on their menu is the A4 Brussels Sprout Salad. The cascading sea of curly greens is packed with flavor, texture and pairs perfectly with a bubbling pie from the brick oven. 

At a recent family dinner party with my siblings and significant others, I decided to serve my own take on the salad alongside lemon and oregano roasted chicken and potatoes. Our plates popped with citrus, fresh flavors and vibrant colors. The thinly sliced veggies melded wonderfully with the tart apple matchsticks, sharp Manchego cheese and toasted hazelnuts. This busy salad will be a big hit at your next dinner party!
Busy Shaved Brussel Sprouts Salad with Hazelnuts, Manchego and Apple

1/3 c fresh lemon juice
2 T Dijon mustard
1 shallot, finely minced
1 small garlic clove, grated
2/3 c EVOO
1 lb Tuscan kale (about 1 big bunch), stemmed, leaves thinly sliced
1 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed, very thinly sliced (a food processor works beautifully here)
1 Honeycrisp or Gala apple, cored, cut into matchsticks
6 radishes, halved, very thinly sliced (a food processor works again here)
1 c (about 4 oz) Manchego cheese, grated
3/4 c hazelnuts, toasted and chopped
Salt and pepper throughout

To make the dressing, whisk together the lemon juice, Dijon mustard, shallot, garlic, a pinch of salt and pepper in a small bowl. While whisking, slowly pour in the EVOO and allow to emulsify. Set aside. 

In a large mixing bowl, toss together the chopped kale and sliced Brussels sprouts. Add about 1/2 of the dressing, and use your hands to massage the dressing into the greens. Taste and add more dressing as needed (you may not need all of it). Let sit in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes.

Before serving, add the the apple, radishes, cheese and remaining dressing. Toss together to combine and season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a salad bowl, and sprinkle the hazelnuts on top.

Feel free to add grilled chicken, salmon or a skewer of shrimp on top to further amp up this super salad!

Spicy Tortilla Chicken Soup

Posted on: Tuesday, December 20, 2016

With the winter chill setting in, I invited a few friends over for a festive Soup Fiesta lunch. I whipped up a big pot of my Spicy Mexican Tortilla Chicken Soup with all of the fix-ins, and let my friends mingle and assemble their bowls of soup...with Margaritas in hand, of course. 
This soup is the ultimate body warming dish with a hot, steamy broth and spicy, zesty accents. The addition of creamy avocado slices, melted cheese, lime, and crispy tortilla strips creates a fun layering of flavors and textures. Seated in the living room with big bowls in our laps, a late afternoon siesta followed for many of us.
Spicy Mexican Tortilla Chicken Soup

1 yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves minced garlic
1 T tomato paste
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
jalapeƱos, seeded and chopped
1 T chili powder
6 c chicken broth
4 c shredded roasted chicken
salt and pepper throughout

1 t Canola oil
4 corn tortillas cut into 1/4-inch strips
2 avocados, thinly sliced
grated Monterrey Jack cheese
1/2 c fresh cilantro leaves
2 limes cut into wedges

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Heat 1 T EVOO over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook for 3-5 minute, until translucent. Add garlic and cook for 2 more minutes. Add tomato paste, diced tomatoes (with liquid), 
jalapeƱos, chili powder, salt and pepper. Cook until liquid evaporates, about 2-3 minutes. Add broth, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Let simmer atop the stove for at least 30 minutes to let the flavors meld.

Meanwhile, toss the tortilla strips with the 1 t Canola oil on a lined baking sheet. Bake for 6-8 minutes until golden and toasty.

Evenly divide the shredded chicken among 6 bowls. Ladle the broth on top and evenly distribute the avocado, grated cheese, tortilla strips, and cilantro on top. Add two lime wedges on the side. Serves 6.

Have fun with the toppings - I sometimes add homemade pico de gallo, corn, black beans, or a spoonful of sour cream. This version is pretty spicy, so feel free to reduce or increase the seasoning to taste.

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