Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Avocado Tomato & Mozzarella Panini

Amazing just how nutritious and delicious avocados are; great for after school snacks, lunches, brunches and main dishes too.

I happen to adore avocados and so does my husband but not my daughter. She is adamant that she doesn’t like them. Well, surprise, surprise, surprise! She walked by the stack of Avocado Tomato & Mozzarella Panini I had just photographed and said “looks good, may I have one?” Of course, I answered, thinking she had not noticed the avocados. First one bite, then another, “hey mom, these are great” came next to my surprise! Seconds and thirds finished off the sandwiches. Marina absolutely loved them so I’m thinking you and your kids will too.

They really take no time at all and if you don’t have a Panini grill, just do them in a frying pan!

Ingredients for 4 Small Panini:
1 ripe avocado sliced
8 slices french bread
1 thin sliced tomatoe
grated mozzarella about 1/2 cup
butter for outside of panini

1. Top 4 slices of bread with a layer of mozzarella, tomato, avocado slices and another layer of mozzarella.
2. Spread a little butter on both outsides of the sandwiches and grill until bread is toasted and cheese is melted.
3. Serve warm and enjoy!

Avocado Tomato & Mozzarella Panini

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Avocado Nests

I'm creating and testing recipes this week that feature Avocados from Mexico.  Avocados are a healthy treat for after school when children especially need something filling and nutritious.
Here is a hearty after school snack that I hope will put a smile on your kids faces.  Avocado nests are filled with deviled eggs and sit on a bed of hash browns and bacon strips.  I made these this afternoon when Marina and her friend Anya wanted an after pool snack.  They both loved them and actually so did my husband.
I did not salt the deviled eggs because they would be eaten along with the bacon, but you may want to add a bit of salt to the hash browns and the eggs.


2 avocados
2 hard boiled eggs
2 cups frozen hash browns
4 strips bacon
salt and pepper


Cook hash browns according to direction.
Cut bacon slices into thin strips and bake or fry as you prrefere.
Make deviled eggs; mix a bit of mayonaise or cream cheese with egg yolks and divide equally into the egg white halves.
Cut avocados in half, remove seed and peel.
Place hash browns on plate and sprinkle with bacon.
Place eggs into seed cavity of avocados.
Rest avocados on the bed of hash browns and bacon.
Scroll down for Avocados from Mexico nutritional facts and storage tips.
Stop back tomorrow for another kid tested after school snack recipe!

Swiss Chard and Eggs

We really like Swiss Chard and prepare it often by just sauteing it with chopped onions and a bit of chopped garlic.  This time I served it with eggs and a beautiful heirloom tomato salad!  A wonderful combination of colors and flavors that was really simple to make!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Avocados from Mexico

I have just received a basket of Avocados from Mexico.  I'll be testing avocado recipes and sharing them with you so check back throughout the week!  I can't wait to get started on a couple of recipes I think will be perfect for afternoon snacks and child friendly main dishes!
In the mean time here are some avocado tips you might find helpful.  They come directly from the folks that know at; "Avocados from Mexico."
 How to pick and store an Avocado:
  • "An avocado is ripe when its pebbly skin turns from green to black and it yields to gentle pressure near the stem end."
  • "Firm avocados will ripen in a couple of days at room temperature or you can speed up the process by sealing them in a paper bag."
  • "Ripe avocados can be kept ripe in the refrigerator for several days."
  • "To store a cut avocado or guacamole, cover with clear plastic wrap and press tightly against flesh; refrigerate."
Here is the beautiful basket of Avocados from Mexico!
Avocado Nutrition:

  • "Avocados from Mexico supply nearly 20 vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, including postassium, vitamins B6, C, and E, folate and fiber"

  • "Mexican avocados have the "good" fats-mono-and poly-unsaturated fats that make avocados a good alternative to foods like dairy and mayonnaise that are rich in saturated fats"

  • "Avocados have only 50 calories per ounce-the amount typically added to a sandwich, salad or other dish"

  • "Avocados have just three grams of carbohydrates per serving, a good fit for some low-carb diets"

  • "Avocados have B-complex vitamins that support memory and brain function"
  • There are lots of recipes and more avocado informaion at the Avocados from Mexico web site: http://www.avocadosfrommexico.com/

Friday, August 27, 2010

Quinoa Portabello Cakes

Quinoa Portabello Cakes came out of making Quinoa and having a lot leftover; I did not realize just how big it gets when cooked!  The quinoa had been cooked with just a bit of salt and pepper and one bay leaf so it seemed a perfect base for something like a crab cake.  Alas, having no fresh crab in the house, I decided to to try using a couple of portabella mushrooms that I had bought this morning.  The nutty flavor of the quinoa and the gently mustiness of the sauteed mushrooms work beautifully together!  Filippo was not hungry but acquiesced to try one; well he quickly grabbed four more!  So I guess it's safe to say he liked them and so did I.

1 to 1 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1 sweet onion chopped
2 portabella mushrooms chopped
1 clove garlic chopped
1 egg
2 ounces whipped cream cheese
10-12 fresh sage leaves + 5 for garnish
1/3 cup fresh grated parmiggiano (4 T for the mix, the rest for the breading)
1/3 cup bread crumbs
1/3 cup panko
Salt and pepper

Saute onion in a bit of olive oil for 5 minutes
Add the mushrooms, salt and pepper and saute 5 minutes more
Set aside to cool just a bit
Beat together egg and cream cheese
Add the quinoa, bread crumbs, cheese, mushrooms and sage; mix well
Mix together panko and parmiggiano
Form into bite size balls and roll in panko and parmiggiano mixture
Saute in olive oil over medium heat until golden brown on both sides.
Drain and sprinkle with cheese and sage leaves; serve.

KC Quaretti-Lee

Chocolate Pots De Creme

Oh la la!  Dairy products are extremely important in France.  My goodness, the dairy section in the markets is huge!  Filled with a wonderful variety of yogurts, cheeses, pots de creme, creams, the list goes on.  So for National Pots De Creme Day, August 27th,  I thought I'd treat myself and my family to Chocolate Pots de Creme.  Chocolate pudding sort of ...maybe it's my memory imagination but I like this better!

I have adapted this recipe from a traditional one I used while living in France.  The original came from LaRousse De La Cuisine and called for 2 eggs and 6 whites, milk and creme fraiche.  Since I cannot get creme fraiche in Venice Florida, I have adjusted the recipe considerably and rather than bringing the mixture to a boil and chilling, I used a bain marie which I think is a bit simpler.  I do hope you try these pots de creme and let me know what you think!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Quinoa, Bok Choy & Leeks

The Incas may have called it "chisaya mama" or mother of all grains! But I have to admit, I am new to the super grain, Quinoa.  But I am determined to find out as many ways to incorporate it into our diets as possible!  With all five of the essential fatty acids, 12-18% protein, as well as being high in magnesium and iron; this grain is a must for my weekly menu planing!

Quinoa with Leeks and Bok Choy
This proved to be a super combo for dinner.  The bok choy and leeks served with plain quinoa were a match made in dinner heaven, their flavors danced over your taste buds like Fred and Ginger!

The cheeses were all from France: Boucherondine, the round cheese on the left is a pasteurized Goat's cheese that is so creamy and mild.  Truly not to be missed; even by those who are not too sold on goats cheese!  next is the Port Salut, the center cheese with the bright orange coating.  Very buttery and soft at room temperature and a must on my cheese platters.  This delicate cheese is loved by everyone and is super safe if you are new to cheese platters!    The St Nectaire is a firmer and more flavorful cow's cheese that is one of my family's favorites!  These three cheeses work well for mild cheese lovers and certainly will not offend a delicate palate!  I like to serve at least two breads; my preference is a hearty whole grain while my husband like only crusty white county bread.

I served the bok choy and the quinoa first and then brought out the mixed green salad and cheese platter.  I wish you could have seen the smiles on my family's faces when they saw the three cheeses!

KC makes S'more Chocolate Cake!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Taste and Create Blog Sharing Dessert Month

Taste and Create gives bloggers the opportunity to test each other’s recipes and then, naturally, blog about them. This is my first month participating; I am new to blogging, having been up and running only a couple of months. I was VERY lucky to be paired with an experienced blogger; No Reason Needed
You should see her blog! It is wonderful; filled with yummy recipes, family tidbits and crafts too.

Being as this is back to school time I searched her recipes for something I could put into my daughter’s lunch bag and I certainly found it! Chocolate Chip Muffins. They are easy to make; I followed her recipe to the letter with one tiny change; I made half mini muffins and half full sized muffins. My reason being, the minis, if they last long enough, will be perfect for a brown bag treat!  Light and fluffy, very flavorful with just the right amount of chocolate chips!  A definite MAKE AGAIN recipe!

Here is the recipe and I encourage you to give it a try!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Summer Zucchini & Tomatoes with Polenta

I absolutely adore ratatouille and find it well worth all the cutting, cubing and individual sautéing! But my daughter had recently developed a rather severe allergic reaction to eggplant, so severe in fact she now has to carry an EpiPen with her just in case. So, needless to say eggplant is now banned from my kitchen!

I developed this dish in hopes it would fulfill my summer yearning for the now impossible traditional ratatouille. Let’s face it, if you really adore eggplant you will miss its tangy flavor but I enjoyed this dish’s uncomplicated summer spirit and will serve it again! Both my husband and my daughter found this dish totally satisfying as a starter when served with thinly sliced, baked polenta.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Spot On Prawn & SalsaTacos

These tacos combine some of summer's best treats; tomatoes, peaches, avocados, corn and peas! But the very best, the ONE important ingredient is Alaska Spot Prawns.
For an extra super flavor treat, add 1/4th cup of fresh cooked and chilled Dungeness Crab to each taco.  The combo the the salsa, warm shrimp and cold crab will knock you off your surf board!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Peach Corn & Avacado Salsa

I had made this salsa to serve with salad and Tilapia, but my son surprised us with a quick visit home from FSU. He is a true red meat lover so I saved the Tilapia for the next day. Instead, I marinated and grilled top round steak with Teriyaki sauce and served it with the salsa and salad.

This salsa is perfect with fish or shrimp and now I realize steak too! When corn on the cob is in season and inexpensive, I like to grill extra ears to use in salsas, salads and even fritters!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Fantastic Desserts from the Real Women of Philadelphia

This week my home has been filled with the aroma of desserts!  As the Dessert Host for the Real Women of Philadelphia I have had the honor of making one dessert each day from the submissions for our dessert contest!  One recipe is chosen each day for sixteen weeks to win $500 and have the chance to be published in the Real Women of Philadelphia Community cook Book!

You can find the recipes and contest information at http://www.realwomenofphiladelphia.com/

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Summer Salad Triptic

Summer salads are a true joy to behold and this one gives you three salads in one!
A green salad with tarragon vinaigrette, vine ripened tomato basil mozzarella salad and hard boiled eggs topped with crumbled Gorgonzola cheese.  Served with fresh herb focaccia hot out of the oven you have the best summer combination imaginable!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Salmon and Spinach with Oven Roasted Portabello Mushrooms

The marriage of flavors and colors between Salmon and Spinach along with slices of fresh lemon create a truly inspired dish.  I decided to serve them with oven roasted Portabello Mushrooms.  The Portabellos turned out crunchy on the outside while super moist, juicy and flavorful on the inside.  With a base of plain yogurt, the tartar sauce is one of the lightest you will find, but also super easy to make!

This entire meal can be made in just over 30 minutes and is perfect for all levels of experience.  Delightful meal for entertaining; easy to prepare and beautiful on the plate.

Easy and complete dinner for 4

Ingredients for the Tartar:
1/2 Cup plain yogurt
1/2 dill pickle finely chopped
1 T. Capers
1 T. Lemon Juice
Salt and Pepper, just a smidgen of each
Ginger 1/2 teaspoon minced
2 T. finely chopped fresh Dill
1 Small Shallot finely chopped

Mix all ingredients together and chill while making the Salmon and mushrooms.

Ingredients for the Mushrooms:
2 large Portabello Mushrooms sliced about 1/4 inch thick.
1 Cup Panko (Japanese Bread crumbs)
1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese grated
2 Eggs
2 T. milk
Salt and Pepper, just a smidgen of each

1. Mix together the panko, cheese, salt and pepper.
2. Beat the eggs with the milk.
3. Dip the mushrooms int he egg and then into the panko/cheese mixture making sure to coat well.
4. Place mushrooms on non stick baking sheet
5. Bake in preheated 425 degree oven for 10 minutes
6. Turn mushrooms over and bake another 8 minutes

Ingredients for the Spinach:
1 medium onion finely chopped
2 T. Olive Oil
1 Package fresh baby spinach
Salt and Pepper

1. Saute onion in olive oil until translucent and soft
2.  Add the spinach and sprinkle with salt and pepper (Pan will be VERY full)
Cover and  saute over med/low heat while you cook the salmon.

Ingredients for the salmon:
 1 1/2 to 2 pounds fresh salmon fillets
2 T. Olive oil

1. Heat a large frying pan and add the oil.
2. Place salmon in pan skin side down and saute for 5 minute
3. Turn salmon over and cook another 2-3 minutes

Serve the salmon resting on the spinach and topped with tartar sauce or on the side.  I served the mushrooms in individual ramekins just for fun.  You could serve them on a separate plate also.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Grilled Pizza

Grilled Pizza with Broccoli and Fresh Tomatoes
I usually make my own simple pizza dough but then it’s super hot and I’m feeling lazy, there are great alternatives in your local market! You can buy readymade pizza dough by the biscuits or many markets have fresh dough available from the bakery section. Give yourself a break this week and buy your dough!


1. Package Pizza Dough

2. 3 Italian Tomatoes

3. 1 & ½ cup Broccoli heads

4. Cheese for topping ( I Package grated mixed + fresh Parmigianino)

5. Olive Oil and Garlic Olive Oil

6. Balsamic Vinegar

1. Slice tomatoes ¼ inch thick, drizzle with vinegar and roast in 225 degree oven for 35 minutes.

2. Drizzle garlic oil on broccoli and broil for 3-5 minutes.

                                                  3. Broccoli should be lightly browned.

4. Rough chop both broccoli and tomatoes but do not mix together.

5. Heat BBQ and spray with non stick spray.

6. Lay dough on grill with heat on low for about 3 minutes.

7. Turn over and top with Tomatoes, broccoli and cheese.

8. Grill approximately 5-7 minutes. Dough will be cooked and cheese melted.