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Showing posts from June, 2017

American Flag Caprese Salad

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This new take on caprese can be the centerpiece at your summer party. Build an American flag with purple potatoes, tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. A large wooden cutting board lined with parchment makes the perfect serving platter.

Recipe courtesy of Food Network Kitchen
Total: 1 hr 50 min
Active: 40 min
Yield: 12 servings
Level: Easy

Ingredients
18 small purple potatoes (about 1 pound)
Kosher salt
1 pound herbed cheese spread, at room temperature
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
26 cherry tomatoes, halved (about 2 pounds)
24 1-inch mozzarella balls in brine, drained well and halved

Directions
Special equipment: 12- by -17 1/2-inch wooden cutting board, pastry bag fitted with a small star tip.

Cook the potatoes in generously salted boiling water until fork-tender but not falling apart, about 20 minutes. Drain well and allow to cool completely. Cut in half crosswise.

Fill a pastry bag, fitted with a small star tip, with the herbed cheese spread. Cut a piece of p…

Cozying Up To Humility

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Humility is what popped into my head when looking back to this past weekend. It was my son's bar mitzvah and I had spent countless months preparing for this momentous occasion. I had a mental picture of who would be there to help us celebrate such a big milestone in my son's life. A few of the main people, who I wished could be there and should have been there, weren't. My grandmother has been ill so I understood her absence but I was still saddened that she couldn't be there. And some of my family members sat out for absolutely no reason that I've been yet told. The feeling of not being supported by those I cherish so much was sad and eye opening. The eye opening experience wasn’t until days later, when I empathized with my family without yet speaking to them. I understood the difficulties that some members of my family have when it comes to social situations. I hesitantly didn’t allow my disappointment to shutdown my empathy. I battled with myself for a few days…

Thai Beef with Peppers

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Recipe courtesy of Ree Drummond
Total: 16 min
Active: 16 min
Yield: 4 servings
Level: Easy

Ingredients
1 package pad Thai rice noodles or linguine
1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons sherry
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon red chili paste or a few dashes red chili oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lime, halved
1 pound flank steak, sliced very thin against the grain
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium yellow onion, sliced
1 red bell pepper, cored and sliced into rings
1 tablespoon diced fresh jalapeno or 1 teaspoon diced hot pepper
Fresh basil leaves, for garnish
Fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish

Directions
Cook the noodles according to the package directions.

In a small bowl, mix the soy sauce, sherry, cornstarch, brown sugar, ginger, chili paste, garlic and the juice of half the lime. Pour a third of the marinade into a bowl with the sliced beef and toss to coat. Reserve the rest of the marinade for later.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil …

Life is Full Of Pleasures: Cyndi's Top 3

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Quote of The Day

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Quote of The Day

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Grilled Chicken with Creamy Caper Sauce

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Recipe courtesy of Sandra Lee
Total: 27 min
Active: 15 min
Yield: 4 servings
Level: Easy

Ingredients
4 chicken boneless skinless chicken breasts "Thin- Sliced"
2 teaspoons lemon pepper seasoning
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, diced
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
2 tablespoons capers
1 cup white wine or chicken stock
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley leaves
2 tablespoons sour cream

Directions
Heat a grill pan or outdoor grill over medium to medium-high heat. Brush the grate of the grill with canola oil just before you grill the chicken. Season the chicken with lemon pepper and put on the grill. Grill for 4 to 5 minutes on each side.

Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic and saute for 2 minutes. Add the capers and white wine and reduce by half. Whisk in the mustard, and parsley and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Let simmer for 1 minute, then remove from heat and whisk in the sour cream.

Arrange the chicken on a…

Grilled Chicken with Dijon and Meyer Lemon

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Recipe courtesy of Anne Burrell
Total: 2 hr 35 min Active: 10 min Yield: 4 servings Level: Easy
Ingredients 4 Meyer lemons, 2 zested and juiced and 2 halved 1 cup Dijon mustard 2 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary leaves 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 2 (3-pound) chickens, backbone removed and split in 1/2 Extra-virgin olive oil Kosher salt
Directions Combine the lemon juice, zest, mustard, rosemary and crushed red pepper in a small bowl. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the mustard mixture to loosen it. Paint this mixture generously all over the chicken and let sit for up to 2 hours at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator. If you have any of the mustard mixture left over, save it for repainting while the chicken is cooking. 
Preheat the grill to medium (you want the chicken to cook on the grill as long as possible without burning to develop lovely crispy, tasty skin). Brush off any crud on the grill with a wire grill brush and run an oiled towel over the gril…

Jerk Chicken

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Recipe courtesy of Jeff Mauro
Total: 4 hr 35 min
Active: 45 min
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Level: Intermediate

Ingredients
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 scallions, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic
1 habanero or scotch bonnet chile, seeded
Kosher salt
Vegetable oil, for drizzling and oiling the pan
8 pieces mixed chicken thighs and breasts, boneless and skin on
Mango Chutney, recipe follows
Fresh cilantro leaves, for serving

Mango Chutney:
1/3 cup dark raisins
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, grated
2 mangos, cut into small dice
1 jalapeno, minced
Kosher salt
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon turmeric

Directions
Combine the sugar, soy sauce, thyme, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, scallions, garlic, habanero and a pinch of salt together in a food processor and blend for a couple of minutes, scraping up any pieces that cling to the walls to make…

Three Italian Desserts

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Recipe courtesy of Ina Garten
Total: 5 min
Active: 5 min
Yield: 1 serving

Ingredients
Italian Dessert No. 1:
Vanilla ice cream
Freshly brewed hot espresso
Frangelico, hazelnut liqueur
Shavings of dark chocolate
Toasted hazelnuts, chopped
Biscotti

Italian Dessert No. 2:
Pound cake, store-bought or homemade
Amaretto, almond-flavored liqueur
Swiss Chocolate ice cream
Toasted sliced almonds

Italian Dessert No. 3:
Vin Santo, sweet Italian dessert wine, chilled, for dipping
Biscotti
Clementines
Chocolate covered salted caramels

Directions
Italian Dessert No. 1:
Place one scoop of ice cream in a glass dish and drown the ice cream in espresso. Add a generous splash of Frangelico and scatter shavings of dark chocolate over the top. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the hazelnuts over the chocolate and garnish with a Biscotti. Serve immediately.

Italian Dessert No. 2:
Place a thick slice of cake on a dessert plate and drizzle generously with Amaretto. Place a scoop of ice cream on top of the cake and sprinkle the almonds over th…

Life is Full Of Pleasures: Cyndi's Top 3

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Quote of The Day

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Quote of The Day

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Summertime!

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Summer break is here and that means that my children are home complaining about being bored and hungry! I have to admit that it’s been a lot smoother this summer than other years, the kids are older and they have more activities to do on their own. A shift happened this year, my role as their summer break planner is a lot different than in other years, and I’m hesitantly adjusting.

With the shift, came a moment of reflection, I saw how hard I’ve been on myself in previous summer breaks. The huge expectations and pressure I put on myself trying to make the summer, “the best summer, yet!” At the cost of running myself ragged and crazy, I would set out to visit every place on our list for the summer. The list was long and overwhelming but I would push through. My thought was that I needed to make the summer memorable for the kids, but when I looked back on the pictures while reflecting, all my kids ever talked about was if I bought them that donut, ice cream, or souvenir. They don’t reall…

Chicken Noodle Casserole

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Recipe courtesy ofFood Network Kitchen This casserole based on a favorite soup will satisfy any comfort food craving. Partially cooking the egg noodles allows them to soak up the flavorful sauce without becoming too soft.

Total: 1 hr 35 min
Active: 10 min
Yield: 8 servings
Level: Easy

Ingredients
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing dish
Kosher salt
12 ounces extra-wide egg noodles
10 ounces white mushrooms, halved or quartered
Freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups frozen pearl onions, thawed
1 medium carrot, halved lengthwise and sliced thinly across
1 large stalk celery, sliced thinly
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 cup dry white wine or vermouth
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken, skin and bones discarded
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 cup shredded Gouda (about 4 ounces)

Directions
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish.

Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Add the egg noodles and cook unt…

Almost-Famous Chimichangas

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Recipe courtesy of Food Network Kitchen
Total: 1 hr
Active: 30 min
Yield: 4 servings
Level: Easy

Ingredients
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 white onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, diced (remove seeds for less heat)
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Kosher salt
1 small tomato, chopped, plus more for topping
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 1/2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
1/4 cup sour cream
1 15-ounce can refried beans
4 10-inch flour tortillas
1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese, plus more for topping
Mexi-sauce, for topping (see below)
Shredded lettuce, for topping
Mexican rice, for serving

Directions
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Melt the butter with 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a skillet; transfer to a bowl. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in the skillet.

Add the onion, garlic and jalapeno and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the chili powder, cumin, cinnamon and 1 teaspoon salt;…

Shredded Chicken and Tomatillo Tacos with Queso Fresco

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Recipe courtesy of Bobby Flay
Total: 25 min
Active: 15 min
Yield: 4 servings
Level: Easy

Ingredients
6 tomatillos, husked, washed, and grilled until blackened
1 serrano, grilled until blackened
Olive oil
1/2 small red onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 lime, juiced
2 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
8 blue corn tortillas
1 cup crumbled queso fresco

Directions
Preheat the grill to medium. Add the blackened tomatillos and serrano to a small saute pan and briefly saute in a little olive oil on the grates of the grill.

Place the tomatillos, serrano, onion, garlic, cilantro, lime juice, and honey in a blender and blend until smooth. Place the tomatillo mixture in a large saute pan and place on the grates of the grill. Bring the mixture to a simmer, add the chicken, and heat through.

Place the tortillas on the grill, and grill for 20 seconds on each side. Spoon the chicken mixture into the tortillas and top with a few tablespoons of …

Life is Full Of Pleasures: Cyndi's Top 3

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Quote of The Day

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Quote of The Day

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Our Common Ground...

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I recently heard an inspiring story on NPR about a basketball game that has taken place each year, for the past five years at an unusual place…The San Quentin maximum-security prison! The game was between the Golden State Warriors, coaches and support staff that travel to San Quentin to play a basketball game against select prison inmates. On the radio, the game was what you would expect, the screeching rubber of the players' shoes, spectators cheering for their team, and the announcers calling each play. The voices of people being interviewed during for the game had excitement and normalcy. I pictured a game like you would see on TV, players running back and forth, trying to score points for their team.

When the host interviews spectators standing nearby, they state their name and how many years they’ve been in prison, and how many years they have left to serve. Some of the guys were on death row and others had 15 years-to-life sentences. A proud heckler was cheering for the Golde…

Shrimp and Avocado Salad

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BestieNote: We substituted mayonnaise with Extra Virgin Olive Oil for the salad dressing

Recipe courtesy of Food Network Kitchen
Total: 30 min
Active: 25 min
Yield: 4 servings
Level: Easy

Ingredients
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced, plus 3 tablespoons
chopped celery leaves
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 limes
1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 hass avocados, diced
1 5-ounce package baby kale salad mix (about 8 cups)
1 small bunch radishes, thinly sliced

Directions
Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium high.

Make the dressing. Combine the mayonnaise, celery leaves, 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, 1 tablespoon water, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper in a large bowl. Grate in the zest of 1 lime and squeeze in the juice.

Toss the shrimp with the vegetable oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper in a bowl. Arrange the shrimp on the grill and cook until pink and just firm, a…

Outrageous Brownies

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This was adapted from a recipe for chocolate globs in the Soho Charcuterie Cookbook.
Recipe courtesy of Ina Garten

Total: 1 hr 5 min
Active: 30 min
Yield: 20 large brownies
Level: Intermediate

Ingredients
1 pound unsalted butter
1 pound plus 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
6 extra-large eggs
3 tablespoons instant coffee granules
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups chopped walnuts

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Butter and flour a 12 x 18 x 1-inch baking sheet.

Melt together the butter, 1 pound of chocolate chips, and the unsweetened chocolate in a medium bowl over simmering water. Allow to cool slightly. In a large bowl, stir (do not beat) together the eggs, coffee granules, vanilla, and sugar. Stir the warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and allow to cool to room temperature.

In a medium bowl, sift together 1 cup of flour, the baking powder, and salt. Add to…

Chipotle Beef Tostadas

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Recipe courtesy of Food Network Kitchen
Total: 30 min
Active: 15 min
Yield: 4 servings
Level: Easy

Ingredients
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound ground beef chuck
1 large white onion, minced
Kosher salt
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons chipotle chile powder
1 10-ounce can Mexican-style diced tomatoes with green chiles
1 15-ounce can pinto beans, drained
1 medium zucchini or yellow squash, diced
2 cups coleslaw mix or shredded cabbage
Juice of 1 lime, plus lime wedges for serving
Freshly ground pepper
8 tostadas (flat crisp tortillas) or taco shells
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (about 4 ounces)

Directions
Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef, half of the minced onion, 1 teaspoon salt and the chipotle chile powder; cook, stirring and breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until the meat is browned and the onion is tender, about 7 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, beans and zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally, until the zucchini is just tender, about 6 minutes.

Mea…

Life Is Full Of Pleasures: Cyndi's Top 3

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Quote of The Day

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Quote of The Day

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Chicken Bahn Mi with Apple-Kale Slaw

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Recipe courtesy of Food Network Kitchen
Total: 40 min
Active: 20 min
Yield: 4 servings
Level: Easy

Ingredients
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons fish sauce
1 apple, cut into matchsticks
1 carrot, cut into matchsticks
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced kale
1/3 cup almond butter
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Sriracha (Asian chile sauce)
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 11/2 pounds)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon soy sauce
Kosher salt
4 hero rolls, split and toasted
Torn fresh basil and mint, for topping

Directions
Make the slaw: Warm the rice vinegar and fish sauce in the microwave. Combine the apple and carrot in a large bowl and add the vinegar mixture. Stir in the kale and let stand 15 minutes.

Make the almond mayonnaise: Mix the almond butter, mayonnaise and Sriracha in a small bowl; set aside.

Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium high. Coat the chicken with the vegetable oil, soy sauce and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Grill until cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes per side. Let rest 5 minu…

Going In For The "Small Wins"

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I just started reading Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, And Finding Joyby Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant. I couldn’t get through the entire book without talking about this powerful paragraph she wrote,Like many, I’ve struggled with self-doubt throughout my life. In college, every time I took an exam, I feared that I’d failed. And every time I didn’t embarrass myself or even did well, I believed that I’d fooled my professors. I later learned that this phenomenon is called the impostor syndrome, and while both women and men feel it, women tend to experience it more intensely. And here I thought all of these years I was the only college student back then, feeling like an impostor, and still cringing and beating myself about the memories of those days.

Sheryl transported me back to my first week of college. I spent more hours beating myself up for everything I did wrong than studying. I was late to class, forgot my notebook, and didn’t have enough money to buy my books. For…