Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Chocolate Amaretti Cake

I am 100% in love with this cake! Its texture makes me think of a brownie and a cheesecake. When I came across this recipe by Giada de Laurentiis, I knew I would fall in love.


* 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
* 1 cup slivered almonds
* 1 cup amaretti cookies
* 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
* 2/3 cup sugar
* 2 teaspoons grated orange zest
* 4 large eggs
* about 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, for sifting

Before we start, spray a 9-inch spring form pan with nonstick spray, place it in the fridge, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small bowl, melt the chocolate chips, stirring every 30 seconds, until melted and smooth.

Combine the almonds and amaretti cookies in a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Transfer that to a bowl and set aside. Place the butter, sugar and orange zest in the food processor and process until smooth and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, with the machine running. Finally, add the nut mixture back to the processor along with the melted chocolate. Pulse until blended.

Pour the batter into the spring form pan and bake for about 35 minutes, until the center puffs up and a tester comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool for 15 minutes before sifting the cocoa powder. Enjoy!

Monday, March 08, 2010

Baked Tilapia, Lemon Spaghetti, Broccoli and Green Beans

This meal makes for a very beautiful plate! Using the freshest of foods whenever possible really does infuse the flavors of your meals. Even though you have three parts to this meal, it is simple to put together. Keep in mind that any of these three parts can be served with other sides or your main dish. The spaghetti makes 6 side dish servings and the broccoli/green beans make 4 side dish servings.

Ingredients (Tilapia)

* 2-3 Tilapia filets
* Fish Seasoning: ½ teaspoon each of chili powder, garlic powder, salt and black pepper

Ingredients (Lemon Spaghetti)

* 2/3 cup olive oil
* 2/3 grated Parmesan Cheese
* 1/2 cup lemon juice (from about 2 lemons)
* 3/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
* 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
* 1 pound dried spaghetti
* 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
* 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

Ingredients (Broccoli and Green Beans)

* 8 cups broccoli florets
* 1/2 pound green beans, rimmed
* 1/2 cup olive oil
* 2 garlic cloves, minced
* 1 1/2 teaspoons dried red pepper flakes
* 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
* 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus more to taste

Let’s begin with the fish. Lightly drizzle the filets with olive oil. Sprinkle both sides of the fish with the seasoning mixture and bake in the oven at 400F for 18-22 minutes or until it flakes easily.

Let’s prepare the Lemon Spaghetti. In a bowl, whisk the oil, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Set aside. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add in the spaghetti and cook according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water, and add the spaghetti to the lemon sauce, tossing with the basil and lemon zest. Add 1/4 cup of the pasta water at a time to moisten. Season with more salt and pepper if needed.

In a large pot of salted boiling water, add the broccoli and cook just until the color brightens (about 2 minutes). Transfer the broccoli to a bowl of ice water to cool then drain and set aside. In the same pot of boiling water, cook the green beans about 4 minutes. Transfer to a boil of ice water to cool then drain and set aside. In a large sauté pan, heat the oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Add in the broccoli and green beans, along with 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Sauté for about 5 minutes until the veggies are heated and crisp-tender. Season with more red pepper flakes, salt and pepper if needed.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Grilled Shrimp with Arugula Pesto

Pesto is extremely easy to make and very versatile (and freezes well). You can serve it with toasted Italian bread or top it over pasta. Adding shrimp (or any other meat) to this meal makes for a light weeknight dinner that is healthy and filling.

Ingredients (Pesto)

* 2 cups (packed) fresh baby arugula
* 1 garlic clove
* 1/2 cup olive oil
* 1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
* 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
* 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
* 12 oz pasta (your choice)

Ingredients (Grilled Shrimp)

* 1 teaspoon plus 2 tablespoons of olive oil
* 1 pound jumbo shrimp, shelled and deveined
* 2 tablespoons salt
* 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Let’s get started. First, place a pot of water on the stove, bring to a boil, and cook your pasta of choice according to package directions.

In a food processor, blend the arugula and garlic until finely chopped. With the machine still running, slowly add the olive oil until blended. Transfer the pesto to a bowl and mix in the Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper. Mix over your choice of cooked pasta.

Prepare an indoor grill (our outdoor if you prefer) on medium high heat with 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Brush 2 tablespoons of olive oil over the shrimp, and then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill the shrimp until cooked through, about 3 minutes per side.
Plate the shrimp over the arugula pesto pasta and enjoy!

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Roasted Eggplant Pasta with Goat Cheese

Who doesn’t love Eggplant Parmesan? This recipe reminds me of just that, without all of the frying and breading! You cannot see the eggplant in this dish, but trust me, you certainly can taste it. The goat cheese crumbled on top adds a nice creamy texture!


* 2 small, firm eggplants, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
* 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
* Salt and freshly ground pepper
* 6-8 garlic cloves, cracked from the skins
* 1 lb penne rigate pasta
* 1 medium onion, finely chopped
* 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
* 20-25 fresh basil leaves, shredded
* 2 cups Goat Cheese, crumbled

Let's cook! Turn on the oven to 425F while you cut up the eggplant and crack the garlic. Place the garlic and eggplant on a baking sheet (you may need two). Brush the eggplant and garlic with 1/2 cup olive oil then lightly add salt and pepper. Roast for 18-20 minutes.

Cook your pasta according to package directions. While the eggplant is roasting and the pasta is cooking, chop up the onion and basil. Here is a trick I use when cutting fresh basil. I gather several leaves together and roll them up. Then slice. You have nice little strips of basil when you are finished.

Ok! Heat a large skillet over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sauté the onions. Meanwhile, the eggplant should be finished. Take it out and place it into a food processor and process into a smooth paste. Add the paste to the onions and stir in the tomatoes. Adjust salt and pepper as needed and heat the tomatoes. Right before serving, stir in the basil then top with the goat cheese. Enjoy!

Friday, March 05, 2010

Winter Minestrone

I love wintertime. And I love all of the soups that come with this season. Since we are nearing the end of winter in Georgia, I really wanted to share this Italian classic with you. There are as many ways to make minestrone as there are cooks who make it, but this version was inspired by the one Food Network chef Giada de Laurentiis makes (with a few tweaks, of course). It is a very nice “comfort type” soup.


* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 onion, chopped
* 2 carrots, peeled, chopped
* 2 celery stalks, chopped
* 3 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, coarsely chopped
* 2 garlic cloves, minced
* 1 pound Kale, stems trimmed, leaves coarsely chopped
* 1 russet potato, peeled, cubed
* 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
* 1 fresh rosemary sprig
* 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained, rinsed
* 2 (14-ounce) cans low-sodium beef broth
* 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
* Salt and Pepper
* Parmesan Cheese

Let’s get started by heating the oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add the carrots, onion, celery, pancetta and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Sauté for about 10 minutes. Add in the kale and potato and sauté for 2-5 minutes. I actually covered the pot at this point to help the greens wilt down. Add the tomatoes and rosemary sprig (I de-leafed mine first). Simmer until the greens are wilted - about 10 minutes.

While the greens are wilting down, blend 3/4 cup of the beans with 1/4 of the broth in a processor until almost smooth. Add the pureed mixture, remaining broth, remaining beans and a nice sprinkle of Parmesan Cheese to the vegetable mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 30 minutes until the potato pieces are tender, stirring occasionally.
Ladle the soup into bowls, top with some parsley, and most importantly, Enjoy!