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Friday, April 18, 2014

Guest Post at The South Florida Sage: Sesame Glazed Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts

I’m guest-posting over at The South Florida Sage today! Holli and I met through our mutual love of the South Florida food scene. Her aunt is a good foodie friend of mine who introduced us last month at the March Meatball Madness. 

Holli and I have a similar palate — we love healthy eating, fun and creative appetizers, a good cocktail, and we also love our juice! She did a review of Raw Juce as a guest post for me not too long ago, so today I’m returning the favor. Head on over to The South Florida Sage to see a new twist on this Sesame Glazed Cauliflower (a Cupcakes and Kale Chips recipe). This time I added in Brussels sprouts!

Guest Post at The South Florida Sage: Sesame Glazed Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts

Head on over to The South Florida Sage for the recipe for these Sesame Glazed Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts! 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Mediterranean Pita Pockets #WeekdaySupper

I never eat sandwiches. I don't remember the last time I took two pieces of bread, stuffed something between them and took a bite. Like, honest to God. Can...not...remember.  But I love bread. Put a bread basket in the center of the dinner table and I'll go to town. Warm Italian bread right out of the oven, crusty sourdough, sweet rolls with all kinds of goodies tucked inside. But sandwiches? They don't appeal to me. I don't really know why my brain thinks this makes any sense.

However, I recently bought a pack of whole wheat pita bread because I wanted to make my own pita chips (which is super easy, kind of genius, saves money, AND saves calories). But there was leftover pita... What else could I make with it? I found inspiration from none other than this month's #WeekdaySupper theme: That's A Wrap! Basically, anything with a filling and something wrapped around it. And that's how I came up with these Mediterranean Pita Pockets! 

Mediterranean Pita Pockets #WeekdaySupper

I roasted eggplant in the oven, scooped out the flesh and pureed it with garlic, lemon, salt and pepper to make a baba ghanoush-like spread. Then I tossed chickpeas with a little olive oil and roasted them in the oven too. I got some tzaztiki sauce and roasted red peppers and went to town stuffing pita pockets. First a layer of eggplant, then a few slices of roasted red peppers, followed by a generous scoop of tzaztiki and topped with crispy, crunchy chickpeas to round everything out texturally. The ingredients paired beautifully and I loved each element of flavor. Since this was kind of a last-minute-idea dinner, there were two things I didn't do that I would totally 100% do next time I make these Mediterranean Pita Pockets. Add Feta (I didn't have any in the house at the time) and grill it on my panini press. 

Would you believe I actually ate a sandwich for dinner?

Mediterranean Pita Pockets #WeekdaySupper

Mediterranean Pita Pockets1 whole wheat pita pocket, cut in half
1 medium sized eggplant
3-4 garlic cloves
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper
1/4 cup chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 tbsp olive oil
tzaztiki sauce
roasted red pepper, sliced (the jarred kind works fine here)

Score the eggplant on all sides and broil on hi for 40 minutes, turning halfway through.

Toss chickpeas in olive oil and arrange on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Set aside. 

When the eggplant is done, remove and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cook chickpeas for 25-30 minutes or until desired crispiness is achieved.

Once the eggplant has cooled, scoop out the flesh and transfer to a colander to drain. Once most of the excess liquid has been drained, combine eggplant, garlic cloves, lemon, salt and pepper in a food processor and pulse until semi-smooth. 

Now make your sandwich! Use as much or as little of each ingredient as you prefer. Spread a layer of eggplant inside the pita, followed by slices of roasted red pepper, scoop the tzaztiki sauce over the pepper, and top with chickpeas.

Need more #WeekdaySupper inspiration? Check out the rest of this week's menu:

Meal Diva - Thai Portabella Mushroom Wraps

Melanie Makes - Skillet Stuffed Peppers

Momma's Meals - Crockpot Chicken Quesadillas

Gluten Free Crumbley - Skirt Steak Salad

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tapas Party: Quinoa Salad with Roasted Kambocha Squash, Dried Cherries, Toasted Pine Nuts and Balsamic

There is something to be said about simple meals that require you to just throw a bunch of things in a bowl and call it a day. They are always crowd pleasers, easily adaptable to just about any occasion, and full of so many different textures and flavors, it’s hard to stop shoveling forkful after forkful into your mouth.

I know this, because I do it a lot.

The last time I visited home, I made this Quinoa Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash, Dried Cherries, Pomegranates and Pepitas with a honey-citrus dressing (recipe adapted from Two Peas and their Pod) and it was a hit with my mom and my sister while we watched the Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony. When my boss told me I could make whatever I wanted for his Tapas-style birthday party menu, I knew a version of this dish would make the cut. But I wanted to change it up a bit. I really hate to make the same thing twice. Instead of butternut squash, I used kambocha; instead of pepitas, I toasted some pine nuts; instead of the citrus dressing, I simply tossed it in a little aged balsamic vinegar. And I left out the pomegranates. Because, well, honestly? I forgot to add them to the shopping list. 

Tapas Party: Quinoa Salad with Roasted Kambocha Squash, Dried Cherries, Toasted Pine Nuts and Balsamic

I liked using kambocha squash better than the butternut because you don’t have to peel it! Kambucha skin is so thin that it softened perfectly while cooking and is totally okay to eat. It also is a beautiful shade of green so it gave the dish another layer of color among the bright orange squash, deep red cherries, and the charred beige pine nuts. I could sit down to a bowl of this Quinoa Salad with Roasted Kambocha Squash, Dried Cherries, Toasted Pine Nuts and Balsamic any night of the week. 

The measurements below are meant for a side dish for a large party, but you can easily make less. Please adjust accordingly!

Tapas Party: Quinoa Salad with Roasted Kambocha Squash, Dried Cherries, Toasted Pine Nuts and Balsamic

Quinoa Salad with Roasted Kambocha Squash, Dried Cherries, Toasted Pine Nuts and Balsamic

1 medium kambocha squash, seeded and cut into 1-inch dice
1 tbsp olive oil
3 cups quinoa, cooked according to package directions
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
1 cup dried tart cherries
garlic powder, salt, pepper
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Toss diced squash with olive oil, salt and pepper,  and arrange on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Bake for about 30 minutes or until squash is tender.

Combine cooked quinoa, pine nuts and cherries in a large bowl. Add squash. Sprinkle garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste. Toss with balsamic vinegar. Serve warm.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Whole Foods Italian Wine Tasting #WFMwine

Have you ever walked into a grocery store to pick up a few things and suddenly find yourself in the midst of a wine tasting? Yep, that happens often, especially in Whole Foods. I remember one time I stopped in after the gym to get some fruit and all of a sudden I turn around and a woman offers me a taste of a yummy new champagne. Good morning! I never really purchase wine from Whole Foods since it can be a bit pricy, but every so often I’ll spot something out of the ordinary that I’ve never seen in Publix, Target, or Costco (I’m not including Total Wine here because that place is like Toys R Us for adults — they have EVERYTHING). When Whole Foods invited me to participate in their celebration of Italian wines, you know I jumped at the opportunity! What did that mean for me? Four bottles of wines from some of Italy’s most notable winemakers to taste and review during their #WFMwine Twitter Tasting with a bunch of other wine lovers all over the country. I looked over the list of wines I’d be receiving, and not one of them sounded familiar. Even better! I’m all for trying new wine! The best thing about these bottles is that they are all under $16, perfectly affordable for me if I ever want more!

I live with someone who really loves her wine and can pinpoint to a T what I will and won't like. We’ve drunk enough wine together that by now, I trust her to pick up a bottle for me from the store and even order a glass for me when we’re out. Naturally, she was my right hand woman for this tasting! We were due for our monthly homemade pizza night with our friend Patti and thought it would be the perfect setting for a wine tasting to go down! We made two pizzas — one with tomatoes and garlic pureed and smeared all over, topped with more tomatoes, shredded mozzarella and creamy goat cheese (finished off with fresh arugula), and one with the same base but instead of goat cheese we mixed the mozzarella with spinach and feta. The goat cheese pizza is always on rotation during homemade pizza night, but this new spinach-feta combo is definitely getting added! Dessert was a medley of decadent little pastries: coconut cream pie balls, key lime pie tarts, lemon bars, fruit tarts, chocolate mousse, mini eclairs, and red velvet cake balls. Homemade pizza, yummy sweet treats, and four bottles of wine to go around, not to mention a table full of good friends — is that not the most perfect night?
Whole Foods Italian Wine Tasting #WFMwine
Whole Foods Italian Wine Tasting #WFMwine

The four of us (me, my roomies Amy and Foodie, and Patti) put on our wine-tasting hats and chimed in with our opinions about each wine.

So, what was the verdict?

You always need a good glass of wine while cooking, so during the pizza-making process we opened the Presto Prosecco. This $11 wine was the perfect amount of bubbly to get the night started. It has notes of orange blossom, honey, apples, and citrus. It made my taste buds burst. Tart and crisp, and not too dry at all. Patti described it as “sexy,” which is totally appropriate for this light and fresh sparkling wine. 

Whole Foods Italian Wine Tasting #WFMwine

Sticking with the whites, we moved on to the Caposaldo Pinot Grigrio, a $12 wine that I thought tasted much more expensive than it was. It has notes of honeydew and kiwi, and smells of white fruit and flowers. The smell is sweet, but the flavor isn't. Instead, it’s smooth and spicy, but also a bit thick and heavy. Foodie found its initial taste to be sweeter than the rest of us had thought, but then he quickly changed his mind and said the sweet turned to bitter. Surprisingly, I enjoyed this wine even though I usually am not a fan of dryer white wines.

By now, the pizza was done and we were all at the table chowing down on our 2nd or 3rd piece. Time to open up the red! The Verrazzano Rosso is the most expensive of the bunch ($16), and turned out to be my favorite. It is a rich blend of flavors of fresh fruit, violet, Tuscan herbs, black currant, and pomegranate. We all agreed that this was the most “social” of the wines, something that everyone can enjoy. It’s a little peppery, but not too strong, and had a nice smooth finish. 

Whole Foods Italian Wine Tasting #WFMwine

The Monrosso Chianti was the last of the night, a $14 wine that is extremely easy to drink. It has aromas of lavender and cranberry and a beautifully balanced smooth taste. Chianti is a very light red wine, definitely suitable to my style, and I found this to be one of the most palate-pleasing red wines I’ve had in a while. 

It was so much fun hosting a little wine tasting at home with my friends, and participating in the #WFMwine Twitter Tasting was great too! I was able to connect with some really knowledgeable people. There were lots of wordy descriptions and wine jargon that I wasn’t totally familiar with, but I loved learning new terminology! Most of us were in agreement that each of these wines were all very enjoyable. I would purchase each one of them again! My favorite, though? The Rosso. There was something about it that was so deep and yet so simple. I liked how it paired with the rich flavors of my pizza, and it just really hit my tastebuds in a good, strong way.

I suggested to Whole Foods that we do these Twitter Tastings more often and maybe even put together a wine club where someone picks a wine (from WF obviously) that we’ll all taste and Tweet about together! They seemed to love the idea — maybe it’ll get picked up! There’s a lot you could do with it… Talk about food pairings, the winery it comes from, maybe even feature the winemaker and get them to participate on Twitter! Oh, the wonderful world of social media… How did we ever survive without it?!

Thank you to Whole Foods, the Whole Foods Boca Raton Marketing Team Leader, Andrew, and especially Teresa Shum from Brustman Carrino Public Relations for inviting me to experience a taste of Italy in the best way possible — through wine!

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post through Brustman Carrino Public Relations and Whole Foods. I received four complimentary bottles of wine from Whole Foods in Boca Raton in return for my participation in the #WFMwine Tweet-up and a blog post review. As always, all opinions are my own.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Creamy Goat Cheese Quinoa Stuffed Tomatoes for #SundaySupper

I like to eat "stuffed" food. It's fun to mix a bunch of things together and throw it into something, bake it, and call it dinner. You can make all kinds of wild and crazy combinations. Think about the endless options of things you can stuff! Eggplant, zucchini, peppers, mushrooms, tortillas, pita, puff pastry, cupcakes, even chicken, meat and fish. You can seriously stuff anything...

That's a good thing because we have a ton of "stuffed" recipes coming your way from #SundaySupper team. But no, we aren't stopping at "stuffed," we're rolling and wrapping things too! This week's theme is "Stuff, Roll and Wrap" and it's hosted by the lovely Amy of Kimchi Mom!

I saw a few different versions of goat cheese quinoa on Pinterest and knew I had to try them. I mean, as I've said countless times: goat cheese makes everything better. This would be the best quinoa ever. Creamy, tangy goat cheese takes quinoa to a whole new level. I added in a little bit of parmesan and some fresh parsley and stared at the bowl sitting in front of me. Now what can I stuff with this delicious mixture...

Creamy Goat Cheese Quinoa Stuffed Tomatoes for #SundaySupper

Tomatoes! Beautiful little Campari Tomatoes were sitting on my counter just begging to be stuffed with Creamy Goat Cheese Quinoa. I scooped out the gross tomato-y insides, and managed to get about two tablespoons worth of quinoa into each tomato. 

Creamy Goat Cheese Quinoa Stuffed Tomatoes for #SundaySupper

It looked and tasted pretty. Yes, tasted. Something about the combination of these flavors and textures made my tastebuds really happy and I was super content with having these four little tomatoes full of quinoa for dinner. Deeeeeelish!

Creamy Goat Cheese Quinoa Stuffed Tomatoes for #SundaySupper

Creamy Goat Cheese Quinoa Stuffed Tomatoes

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
3 tbsp goat cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
4 Campari tomatoes

Combine quinoa and water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer and continue to cook, covered, for 20 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed. Fluff the quinoa with a fork when finished. Add in goat cheese while the quinoa is still hot and mix until completely melted and combined. Stir in parmesan cheese and parsley. 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. 

Remove the inside flesh of the tomatoes and scoop 1-2 tablespoons of quinoa mixture into each one. Bake for 15 minutes. Broil on lo for another 3-5 minutes or until the top of the quinoa mixture has slightly browned. 

There are so stuffed, rolled, and wrapped recipes to check out! I love this group...

Starters and Snacks
Entrees and Mains

All things Sweet

Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. Check out our #SundaySupper Pinterest board for more fabulous recipes and food photos.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy! You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Tapas Party: Mango-Peach Guacamole Cups

Guacamole is one of those foods that every good party needs to have. What good is a tableful of appetizers if you don't have a variety of chips and dips?! Obviously, the first thing I like to do at a party is beeline it over to the food. It's a must for any foodie. We've gotta know what kinds of things the host put together and sample everything to see if it lives up to our expectations of what good party-food should be. Guacamole is one of the first bowls of yumminess I'll run to; after I find the tortilla chips, of course.

I've made Peach Guacamole before and it was definitely a hit in my house. For my boss's Tapas Party, I wanted to amp it up a little bit and add in fresh mango for a truly tropical guacamole! 

Tapas Party: Mango-Peach Guacamole Cups

I've always loved peaches, but my love affair with mango is pretty recent. When these fresh fruits are paired with rich avocado, it makes an intensely flavorful dip everyone will love. However, I didn't stop there... As a dip for your favorite tortilla chips, this is perfect. But already scooped out and portioned into little bite-size phyllo-dough shells? EVEN BETTER! Just pick one up, pop it into your mouth, and let the flavors run wild. The crunchy phyllo-dough shell, creamy avocado, and juicy chunks of peaches and mango... I'm in love.

Next time you're asked to bring a dish to a party, you won't need to scramble for a recipe — just make these Mango-Peach Guacamole Cups. It is the perfect finger-food for any appetizer display. Tapas are definitely the easiest way to go at parties.

Or stay home, make a margarita, hoard these Mango-Peach Guacamole Cups all for yourself. 

I won't tell anyone. 

Tapas Party: Mango-Peach Guacamole Cups

Mango-Peach Guacamole Cups
Makes 32 mini cups

2 packages Athens Phyllo-Dough Mini Shells (16 each)
3 ripe avocados, mashed
2 Roma tomatoes, small diced
2 large ripe peaches, medium diced

2 large mangos, medium diced
1/4 red onion, very small diced
6-8 garlic cloves, minced
juice of 2 limes

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Scoop 1-2 tablespoons of guacamole into phyllo dough shells. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve. 
Serve any extra guacamole in a bowl with tortilla chips (duh!)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

#BiteIntoSummer with Betty Crocker Watermelon Cupcakes

Many food brands are heavily influenced by the changing of the seasons and the temperatures outside. Betty Crocker has certainly let summer take full rein — where else would the idea for Watermelon Cake and Frosting come from?! This all-new cupcake mix is exclusively available at Target. Target is my favorite place to go to for baking essentials. You can find so much more in their baking aisle than in any grocery store. Sprinkles and candies in all kinds of colors and shapes, and a huge assortment of different cake, cookie, and brownie mixes and frostings. Make cupcakes or a cake perfect for summertime with this unique watermelon flavored baking mix. Top with the electrifyingly green watermelon frosting and you have a beautiful treat to bring to any BBQ or pool party you're been invited to this summer.
#BiteIntoSummer with Betty Crocker Watermelon Cupcakes

You can find great deals and savings here, including a couple for 50 cents off any 2 Betty Crocker Cake and Frosting products.

These cupcakes are a bright, beautiful shade of pink studded with mini chocolate chips meant to resemble watermelon seeds; the green frosting is bold and vibrant. To the eye, these are a work of art. To the mouth? Super sweet. If you like watermelon flavored candies and treats, then you'll like this mix. I personally LOVE watermelon — the fruit. I don't like that super-sweet watermelon flavor in other products, so these weren't for me. The frosting is the ultimate in sweetness, so be prepared to experience quite the sugar high if you try this mix. That's not to say you won't like it. Because hey, some people dig that sweets-induced coma that some desserts can cause. 

#BiteIntoSummer with Betty Crocker Watermelon Cupcakes

But me? I'll stick to a bowl of the real watermelon fruit. Thanks.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. The information and prize pack have been provided by General Mills through Platefull Co-Op. I received one box of Betty Crocker Watermelon Cake mix,  one container of Betty Crocker watermelon frosting and a Target gift card. As always, all opinions are my own.
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