Easy Entertaining

December,5th,2011

Image by Rubber Slippers

Prosciutto with Grilled and Fresh Figs
Pumpkin Ravioli

Who doesn’t want to make a delicious dinner to impress all their friends without breaking a sweat? Here are two easy recipes that look like you spent all day making them but really you were sipping margaritas instead.

This is a great fall salad (sorry for not posting sooner) with arugula, prosciutto and fresh figs paired with a pumpkin ravioli dish from none other than Giada. You know what that means, super decadent but super tasty.

Image by bsykes

I once read an interview with Giada where she was asked how she stays so thin making all that rich Italian food. She responded that she really does eat all the food she makes, she only takes a couple bites and that’s it. So fill up on salad and enjoy a few bites of pasta…or a few more…I’m not here to judge!

Prosciutto with Grilled and Fresh Figs
From Mario Batali

Ingredients
18 fresh Black Mission figs, cut in half
6 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto di Parma
Generous 4 cups trimmed arugula, washed and spun dry
1/3 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Preheat a gas grill or prepare a fire in a charcoal grill (I used a griddle on the stove).

Place 18 of the fig halves cut side down on the grill and cook just until lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool.

Divide the prosciutto among six plates, arranging it artfully.

Add the remaining figs, the arugula, parsley, and rosemary to the grilled figs, then add the olive oil and vinegar and mix gently with your hands, so as not to break up the figs. Arrange the fig salad on the prosciutto and serve immediately.

Pumpkin Ravioli with Sage and Toasted Hazelnuts
Recipe from Giada de Laurentis

Ingredients
1/2 cup hazelnuts
Salt
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound fresh pumpkin ravioli
6 fresh sage leaves
Large pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 amaretti cookies (Italian macaroons)

Preheat the oven to 350. Please the hazelnuts on a large baking sheet and toast in the oven, stirring occasionally until nuts are golden brown, about 7 minutes. Let cool completely. Rub hazelnuts between your palms to remove the skins. Pulse nuts in food processor or chop coarsely by hand.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the oil, then the ravioli and cook until ravioli float to the top, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the ravioli to a large platter and tent with foil to keep warm.

In a small, heavy skillet, melt the butter oer medium heat until it starts to brown, about 3 minutes. Add the sage leaves and fry until they are crisp and fragrant, about 20 seconds. Remove from the heat and stir in the nutmeg. Pour the butter sauce over the ravioli and sprinkle with the toasted hazelnuts and Parmesan cheese. Grate the amaretti cookies over the ravioli and serve immediately.

Get the Skinny: Make sure to get fresh pasta from the refrigerated section. I actually used butternut squash ravioli since I couldn’t find pumpkin an it turned out great. It took quite a while to find the amaretti cookies and I finally found them at a specialty store but they’re not crucial. Feel free to omit them if they are not readily available in your area.

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Pink Champagne and Red Velvet Cupcakes

June,29th,2011


Red velvet mini cupcake with pink cream cheese frosting (on left) and pink champagne mini cupcake with pink champagne frosting (right)

As most of you probably know, I recently got married just a few short months ago and I am now “officially” part of a very close and very large family, with loads of cousins. Our weekends as of late of been filled with good times celebrating cousin’s birthdays, graduations, anything we can celebrate. This past weekend was my new sister-in-law Lisette’s 30th birthday and her sister Yezenia had a fabulous idea to throw her a pink themed birthday party and get all the women of the family together for it.

We had a blast listening to Ricky Martin, discussing the answers to 20 questions like, “Who was your first crush,” and “What is the one thing you got in the most trouble for.” The decor was amazing with little mason jars of old timey pink gumballs, lollipops and chocolates.

Yezenia called me and said she had been looking all over the city for pink cupcakes but was wondering if I could make them instead. Of course, I love any excuse to bake for other people so I consulted the all knowing google and found 2 delicious cupcake recipes. The one for Pink Champagne Cupcakes was super easy and turned out much better than I thought it would. The red velvet recipe is to date the best red velvet I have ever made (not to toot my own horn or anything) but it was. I made them in mini form just to get that extra “ahhh” factor too!

Cupcakes!

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Peanut Butter for Breakfast

March,11th,2011

Creamy Peanut Butter, Image by Olga Massov

When I studied abroad in college there were so many delicious foods available in Italy. I put on a good 15 pounds eating gelato, thin crust pizza, pasta, panini…you get the picture. However, there were many foods that I missed as well. I tried the only Mexican food place we could find in Rome and it was terrible. There was no sushi in sight, no peanut sauce, no pho, no cheeze-its. All these things I could really do without but the one thing I discovered I apparently can not live without was peanut butter. I had to have mailed to me both from home and from friends in Spain who could get their hands on it. I was definitely the most popular of my roommates once my package of peanut butter arrived.

Lately I’ve rediscovered my love for this wonderful butter of peanuts. I feel like it gets a bad rap for all the calories but in moderation peanut butter can easily be part of your healthy diet. I actually did a 2 week “peanut butter diet” in college in which every meal had at least one tablespoon of peanut butter in it and I lost quite a bit of weight! Peanut butter is packed with healthy fats and protein and the recipe included here tastes SO indulgent but honestly, it’s from my weight watchers cookbook. Try it when you want a sweet and utterly satisfying breakfast.

It’s Peanut Butter Jelly Time!

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Quick and Easy Pasta E Fagioli Soup

December,21st,2010

Image by Michael Verhoef

And…we’re back. Sorry about that short hiatus everyone-just a few things happened over the last few weeks. For starters, I got engaged woohoo!! We also moved (to a house with the world’s smallest kitchen, but that’s okay, we’ll make it work), went to Disneyland for a few days and had family in town. It’s been a delightful whirlwind overall and I’m so excited to plan our wedding-I love planning!!

With all the craziness and the cold (new house also only has one wall heater and was built in the 30′s) I’ve been hitting the soup pretty hard. I wanted to share one of my favorite soups from my mom’s recipe book. It’s ridiculously easy to make with very little chopping required. Especially if you have a Trader Joe’s nearby and buy the pre-made mirepoix mixture (the onions, celery, and carrots)-I love that store! The soup is caled Pasta e Fagioli (pasta and bean soup) and is a great weeknight easy meal with some warm french bread mmm!!

Souper Duper!

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Apple Pie in a Brown Paper Bag

October,18th,2010

Image by Just Add Ink


It sounds bizarre to say this but one of my favorite things to smell cooking is a brown paper bag. Nothing was more exciting than coming home from school to the smell of a paper bag cooking in the oven. Those were the days my mom was baking Apple Pie En Papillote (in a paper bag), easily one of my family’s favorite desserts.

When I could, I would sit and watch my mom through the entire process: rolling the crust to perfect thinness, patiently hand peeling the skin off the apples with one of our crappy knives, sweetening the apples (then of course she and I would both taste test to make sure they were okay), and then crumbling the delicious butter and brown sugar mixture all over the top. She would use the side of one of our butter knives to flute the edges before sliding the pie into a big brown grocery bag and stapling it shut. I felt like the process took hours to complete (little kid time, you know how that goes) but that just made the pie even more delicious.

The first time I was old enough to make the pie with my mom, I almost had to throw in the towel because my hand was cramping up during the peeling process. INow I’m (almost) a pro. I have to confess it took me years to get it right. Not that it wasn’t delicious the first time I attempted to make it without my mom, but it wasn’t even close to as good as hers used to be. Maybe it was the blood, sweat and tears she poured into hand peeling all those apples. My apple peeler-corer-slicer from Pampered Chef doesn’t exactly require the same amount of dedication.

My lastest effort this last week was by far my best, despite a little mishap of a smoldering hole forming in the bag. Luckily my boyfirend noticed that the kitchen smelled much more like fire than usual and we quickly transfered the pie to a new bag. Let me assure you, that’s the first time that ever happened to me and I think there was something on the bag so don’t worry, it’s a rare occurance.

Image by Edgar

Regardless of whether you hand peel or not, bake it with someone else or try it solo, please share this recipe with the ones you love. I hope your families love it as much as mine does!

Apple Pie Time

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