Thursday, September 30, 2010

Spicy Stuffed Peppers...

One of the MANY blogs I follow is this lovely gal over at Her recipes are SO delicious and very healthy. This recipe for stuffed peppers was just what I wanted for dinner tonight. Here is what you'll need for this EaSy recipe: For 2-4 people(depending on how much you eat)

-2 large red peppers or any other kind you prefer
-1/2 a red or white onion diced
-2 cloves of garlic minced
-Quality olive oil (
-2 small cans black beans (rinsed)
-1 small can sweet corn (rinsed)
-1/2 cup water
-2 tsp cumin
-2 tsp chili powder
-1/2 tsp paprika
-1/2 tsp salt
-small pinch Cayenne pepper
-Shredded cheddar cheese or colby jack
-Fresh cilantro, parsley, salsa, or sour cream (optional for garnish)

Let's get cookin'...

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a small baking sheet with aluminum foil (for easier clean-up later). Wash your peppers and slice them length-wise. Place in oven and roast for about 25 minutes. The skins should be soft when you take them out.

2. While your peppers are roasting in the oven, place a few tablespoons Olive Oil in a large saucepan and bring to medium high heat. Add your diced onions and cook 3-5 minutes, or until they become soft and translucent.
3. Now it's time to make your kitchen smell HEA-VEN-LY!!! Add in your garlic and stir for 30 seconds or so...MmMm...gaaaarlic!! Also add in your black beans & 1/2 cup water. Stir well.
4. Place all your spices into saucepan. Look how beautiful all these different colors are. Trust me, the flavors are equally as amazing. Just wait!
5. Mix everything well, then cover and bring to a low simmer for about 30 minutes. Once finished, add in the corn and stir. I'm not going to lie...i did eat a few...ok SEVERAL spoonfuls of this stuff right out of the saucepan. And yes, I burned the You-Know-What out of my tongue in the process!!
6. All the hard work is done!! Now have a blast and stuff those peppers to the brim!!
7. Top with your favorite shredded cheese (I used Cheddar) and broil for about 3-5 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly...Is there anything better than bubbly cheese?!? Oh! We will get to that later. You could have SO much fun with this recipe. You could cook up some ground turkey and add in kidney beans. Or cook up some ground chicken and mix in sauteed mushrooms and spinach. Get creative!!! I'd love to know your favorite way to stuff peppers. Send me suggestions!

What on earth could make this meal better?? The BEST wine i've had thus far. I recently went to the Great Grapes festival here and tried this a-MA-zing bottle of sweet dessert wine by Horton.

I don't even know where to begin. Ok, i'll do my best. Imagine a wine that is so smooth you'd think it was in the same family as butter...but not just any butter...butter that tastes ever so slightly like cocoa. GOOD cocoa. THAT is what this wine is like. I would have never thought white wine + chocolate would be a good pairing....but this is my third bottle in 3 weeks. HOLD UP- I share!! I didn't drink it all by myself, most though ;) HAHAHA. Do yourself a favor. Go to your local TotalWine or go to as soon as humanly possible and order yourself a bottle of this. It's great in the afternoon, it's great in the's even great for dessert before bedtime. get the point. Go get it. Now.

I've missed you all. Hope you are still reading this blog...xoxo-C.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Housewife Biscotti

Unfortunately, I am not a housewife (yet)...but I can make biscotti!! I don't know about you all, but one of my many guilty pleasures is watching the Real Housewives reality show on Bravo. One of my absolute favorites are the Jersey Housewives. I'm not sure what it is about them exactly...maybe it's the accents, the drama, the bling...but regardless, one of these chicks really knows how to cook.

I may be Greek by birth, but most of my preferences fall closer to Italian backgrounds. For example, I don't like baklava but i'm in LOVE with cannolis. I don't like lamb but i DO love pasta of all shapes and sizes. Oh well, it is what it is. For those of you who also share my love for this reality series,you are no strangers to the name Teresa Giudice. She has a new book out called Skinny Italian. What more could I ask for?? A book full of authentic Italian recipes that are also very health conscious. This recipe for Double Chocolate Biscotti came from her book.

3 large eggs (preferably at room temperature)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
6 oz chocolate chips of choice (get creative!!)
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup sliced almonds

How To Make:
1. Place rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. This makes for really easy clean up.
2. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to blend eggs, sugar, vanilla, and almond extract.

Mix for about 3 minutes or until you have a pale, yellow mixture. 3. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt together.

This is so light and mousse-like!! At this point, mix in your chocolate chips and almonds or walnuts (whichever you have).
4. Flour or spray your work surface. Transfer your dough to your work surface and knead until everything is well blended. Shape your dough into a log about 12 inches long and 2 inches wide.

OMG, I wish I could have eaten this raw...but I didn't for obvious reasons. Ok, now place the biscotti log in the oven for about 30 minutes.
Once the 30 minutes pass, remove biscotti log from the oven and let cool on a rack for another 30 minutes.

LOOK at that!!! So warm and crumbly. Love it!!! If only I didn't have to bake it again.

Now, cut your log on a diagonal so each biscotti is about a 1/2 inch thick.

Here is the challenge...NOT eating the biscotti yet (because you have to bake them one more time briefly)...but I'll let you in on a little secret: The ends of the biscotti are more than likely totally go ahead, have yourself a little cheat snack.

Place individual biscotti back on baking sheet, lower oven to 325 degrees, and bake for another 8-10 minutes.

Then, something magical happened...I heard the most amazing sound in the sounded like this..."Beep, Beep, Beep, Beep"...MY BISCOTTI!!!! They were finally finished. Perfect timing, because they go absolutely splendidly with a cappuccino or iced latte.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Labor Day Weekend

This weekend was exactly what I love about this time of year. Clear blue skies and temperature highs in the upper 70s. Perfection. I was lucky enough to have this weekend off from work to spend doing what I love to do most- Cooking/Baking!! Today my entire family, kids and all, got together for a casual little cookout.

On the Menu:
-Port wine cheddar cheese log with Kashi crackers for an appetizer
-Wegman's cracked pepper sliders with whole wheat buns
-Homemade potato salad
-Homegrown, local tomato salad
-Coppola Merlot

And so we got started:
DaddyDeLuxe and I went to Wegmans (my absolute go-to grocery store) to stock up on some necessities. While there we found this lovely port cheddar cheese log.

Don't judge it by its color. This lovely "pink" delight is tasty!! It is coated with slivered almonds. I chose to serve it with whole grain Kashi crackers. What a healthy snack!! I ate that entire portion you see right there in the picture. Oops!!

Next, we cooked up these tasty little hamburger sliders. They are the cracked peppercorn ones. Best part is that Wegmans now has whole wheat slider buns. Wahoo!! Here are my little baby burgers on the grill.

They need just 5 minutes per side and they will be fully cooked. Half of these burgers were topped with Jalapeno cheese for an extra kick!!
The other half were topped with sauteed spinach and mushrooms for more of a savory, garlicky taste.
My sister requested a potato salad so I bought 2 bags of these yellow and red whole potatoes that can be steamed in just 8 minutes. No boiling water!!
My Mom worked her magic, added in a few ingredients, and Voila!!! A beautiful, healthy, delicious potato salad!!
I'm not the biggest fan of potatoes so I used some homegrown, local tomatoes and cucumbers, added in some S&P, oregano from Greece and olive oil to create a "Village style" greek salad. I left out the feta cheese because I already had some cheddar cheese for an appetizer and I planned on eating cheese on my burger. I thought I'd give my arteries a break!! So at the last minute we decided to throw on some delicious, juicy hot dogs. They were organic, no additives, etc. I'm sure you KNOW organic hotdogs don't come cheap....which is why letting ME "man the grill" was the biggest mistake anyone could've made. Just LOOK what happened to them!!!

OOpsies!!!! Y'all, i swear to the chocolate gods that I turned my back for just ONE minute...but who knows...maybe the couple sips of this lovely wine prolonged the actual time. Oh well, I'm sure the fam forgave me. Nonetheless, here's my lovely plate:
Drool...In my defense, i ended up eating a hot dog too and they were just fine...burnt and all. What a wonderful weekend with a wonderful family. I'm so excited for many more.

Ode to Lara

I'm in love...with a lot of things. One of them being Larabars. I'm obsessed!! Not only are they absolutely delicious, but they are also minimally processed and super healthy (most have less than 5 ingredients). You can't beat that!! Ok, so today I ventured over to Wegmans for my weekly Larabar stock-up. I was very delighted to find some new flavors. Here you have it!!

From top to bottom : Peanut Butter Jelly, CarrotCake, Peanut Butter Cookie, Choc. Chip cookie dough, and Peanut Butter Chocolate chip

Can you tell that I have a love for PB?!? Let me just say, I have already tried the PB cookie one. I'm REALLY excited to try the other flavors as well. Anyone out there work for the Larabar company?!? Feel free to send 'em my way. They will not go uneaten :) Thank you Lara...or whoever you are for making these fabulous bars that keep me going during my long shifts at work. Cheers to you!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Happy September!!

Today is September you know what that means?!? Autumn is right around the corner. YAY!! We are weeks away from hot toddys, apple picking, and decorating the house with pumpkins and gourds. Can you tell that it's my favorite season?? Ok, let's catch up a bit. In the past couple weeks I switched over to working night shifts at work. This means that 3 nights a week I go in at 645pm and return home around 8am. Sleeping during the day time took some getting used to (hence the lack of posting) but I'm pleased to say that now I have found some normalcy.

Tonight for dinner MamaDeLuxe and I are making this NEW pasta with her famous meat sauce. Ronzoni has a new light of pasta called "Garden Delights". While I usually only eat whole wheat pasta, this looked yummy so I chose to splurge on the enriched stuff. This particular box has tomato, carrot, and spinach enriched noodles. I'm excited to try it out!! Let's get started. First, we placed a package of lean, organic ground beef in a pot filled with an inch or so of water. This needs to brown & then drain so all the fat isn't in our meal. Does anyone else get grossed out by the smell of raw ground beef?? Weird, i know.
In the meantime, chop up a carrot, half an onion, and fresh Italian parsley. It's best to use fresh herbs at this point. They really do make a huge difference.
In a separate large pot, bring water to a boil so you can cook up your pasta noodles. While you're waiting, put some olive oil in a saute pan and add in your onions, carrot, and parsley. Throw in some delicious oregano, salt, and pepper. SIDE NOTE- where my grandparents live in Greece...WAY up in the mountains of central Greece, they have the most amazing smelling oregano. Our entire pantry here in the USA smells like the Greek Oregano. I can't help but think of my YiaYia and Papou each time I use this wonderful seasoning.
Add in your strained ground beef. Stir in with half a glass of sweet red wine. I got this German bottle from Trader Joes. It's really lovely, light, and sweet. The smell of what is in this pot reminds me of my childhood. It makes me think of the times my grandmother was here visiting us from Greece. Every morning before I'd leave for elementary school my YiaYia would ask me what I wanted to eat when I got home. My response was almost always "macaronada", which is Greek spaghetti and meat sauce. When I'd come home, the smell of cinnamon, bay leaves, and oregano would fill the air. Ok, now back to reality...I am unfortunately not in elementary school anymore...and my grandmother is now thousands of miles away.
Now, add in a large (28oz) can of crushed tomatoes, 1 or 2 bay leaves, a tsp of sugar, 1 or 2 cinnamon sticks, and 1tsp of white balsamic vinegar. I have found that adding in the vinegar evens out the sweetness from the acidity of the canned tomatoes. Stir in all your ingredients, cover, and simmer (on a level 2) for at least an hour. The longer and lower you let this simmer, the better your meat sauce will taste. This gives you a perfect chance to clean up your kitchen and do your dishes before dinner is ready.
My Mom whipped up an egg-free Caesar salad dressing. It was SO delicious. I absolutely love the flavor of anchovy paste. Here was our dinner result:

My big heaping pile of pasta + salad... And in about 7 minutes... GONE!!! Like magic :) Enjoy the rest of your week...come back because I'm planning on whipping up some amazingly yummy recipes such as: - Chocolate cinnamon rolls, -Cowboy cornmeal rolls, and -lemony date scones. MmMm