Truffled Eggs with Roasted Vegetables

Breakfast of Eggs and Roasted Vegetables

Weekend breakfasts are the best. You don’t have to rush anywhere and can really enjoy making a special, indulgent breakfast. I love hearty, savory breakfasts, but often get tired of same old eggs. I saw a brilliant idea of roasting mushrooms and tomatoes on the vine a while ago on one of Gordon Ramsey’s cooking shows. Adding these to a breakfast plate really brightens it up and makes it look restaurant-quality. Pour some truffle oil over eggs to make this meal completely indulgent.

By the way, you can get cheap and decent truffle oil at Trader Joe’s. Love, love, love Trader Joe’s for amazing finds like this one!

Trader Joe's Truffle Oil

Ingredients (for 2 servings)

4 eggs

1/2 bell pepper, cored and sliced

2 vines with 2-3 baby tomatoes

6 baby mushrooms

1 shallot, sliced

2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped

1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard

Olive oil

Vegetable oil

About 2 tablespoons truffle oil

Handful of fresh parsley leaves, chopped

Salt

Pepper

Directions

  1. Heat some olive oil in a small pan on medium. Add garlic, shallot and pepper slices. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until pepper slices are slightly golden and soft. Add mustard, season with salt and pepper and set aside.

picture of roasted peppers

  1. Heat some olive oil in another small pan on high, add mushrooms and tomatoes. Cover the pan and cook on high for about 3-5 minutes.Turn the heat off and let them rest covered, for another 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

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  1. Heat vegetable oil in a small non-stick pan. Add eggs and cook for about 5 minutes until whites are completely set while yolks are soft and runny. Season with salt and pepper, and garnish with chopped parsley.

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  1. Transfer roasted peppers onto plates and arrange eggs on top. Pour some truffle oil over eggs. Arrange the remaining vegetables on the plates and enjoy with toasted bread.

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Lemon Glazed Cookies

Lemon Cookies

I have to confess that I’ve never in my life made cookies. Yes, I love cooking and although I rarely bake, I’m a pretty good baker, but for some reason I’ve been intimidated by cookies. No joke! This week, my company is having a cookie (of course) bake off contest and I decided to face my fear and try this cookie thing out. After all, I really want that Target gift card!

I wanted to make something easy and different, so this recipe by Giada De Laurentiis has caught my eye. I loved that I didn’t have to refrigerate the dough for hours or even roll it out! I’m also a huge fan of lemon desserts (like this yummy lemon apple cake) so this recipe seemed right up my alley. These cookies turned out delicious! Now, all I have to hope for is to win the contest! Ah well, even if I don’t win it, I’ll have leftovers to enjoy and a great go-to cookie recipe.

I did make some adjustments to Giada’s original recipe  – I had to bake my cookies longer and added more lemon juice to the glaze because 3 tablespoons weren’t enough for 1 1/2 cup of powdered sugar to absorb. Also, these cookies definitely look and taste better when smaller, so I suggest scooping no more that 3/4 , even 1/2 tablespoons of the cookie dough for each individual cookie.

Ingredients (for about 40 small cookies)

Cookies
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 15 oz. container whole milk ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons lemon juice
Zest of 1 lemon

Glaze
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 lemon

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, salt and set aside.  In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar with a hand mixer until until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating until incorporated. Add ricotta cheese, lemon juice and zest. Beat to combine, stir in the dry ingredients and beat until the dough is smooth. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Spoon the dough (about 1/2 tablespoon) onto the baking sheets making sure the cookies are spaced out. Bake for about 20 minutes, until slightly golden. Remove from the oven and let the cookies rest on the baking sheet until cool.

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  1. Make the glaze. Combine  powdered sugar, lemon juice and  zest in a small bowl and stir with spatula until smooth (add more lemon juice if needed). Spread about 1/2 teaspoon of glaze on each cookie and let them rest until the glaze completely hardens for a couple of hours.

photo of lemon cookies with glaze

Pineapple Salsa

This is an effortless “recipe” that I just can’t help but share because it’s so delicious on its own as well as served with seafood dishes. Try adding some on top of the usual boring pan-fried cod or baked salmon to add more flavor and texture. I also love adding this salsa to salads to dress up bland winter greens. If you make it too spicy by accident, adding more olive oil would help tame the spice down a notch.

Ingredients (for a medium bowl)

1 pineapple, peeled and cored

2 tomatoes

1 shallot (or 1/4 of red onion), peeled

Juice of one lime

Cayenne pepper or hot sauce to taste

Handful of fresh cilantro

Olive oil

Salt

Chop pineapple, onion and tomato into small pieces, add lime juice and cilantro. Season with salt and cayenne pepper or hot sauce to taste. Add some olive oil, mix and serve with chips!

Butternut Squash Omelette

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I love summer and typically dread fall because of a long and cold New England winter which comes after it. This year, I feel surprisingly different about Autumn. I’ve truly been enjoying its gorgeous colors, cool weather, soft sun and the smell of fallen leaves in the air. I think my recent trip to a beautiful and romantic Quebec city made me fall into the fall. Was it a long spectacular drive through Vermont and New Hampshire with breathtaking mountain views and foliage colors? Maybe, postcard-like views of Quebec city’s streets – so picturesque during this time of year – did it. But I’m a foodie. So, it must have been those pumpkin spice lattes, French onion soups and traditional gross Poutine (which was just what doctor ordered after long walks in brisk air).

Although I haven’t always felt this passionate about fall, I’ve always loved its seasonal fruits and veggies. I get butternut squash pretty much every time I go grocery shopping now, sometimes forgetting that I still have some left at home. That said, I was getting pretty sick of one of my favorite soups, and wanted to try something new. The butternut squash omelette  turned out perfect! I highly recommend trying it out for a lazy weekend breakfast or brunch, even a light dinner.Image

Ingredients (for 2 servings)

5 large eggs

2-3 tablespoons milk

About 1/2 medium butternut squash, peeled and chopped into medium pieces

1 yellow onion, peeled and sliced thinly

About 2 oz. goat cheese (I had goat brie)

2-3 springs fresh thyme

Salt

Pepper

Chives for garnish

1-2 tablespoons butter

1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped

Vegetable oil

  1. Pre-heat the oven on broil setting. Heat a small skillet with some vegetable oil. Saute onion until translucent, add garlic, thyme leaves and 1 tablespoon of butter. Add butternut squash and saute on medium to low heat for about 10-15 minutes, season with salt and pepper. You may have to add some water to the skillet and cover it – make sure the squash is completely soft and cooked through.

  2. Make an omelette: whisk eggs with milk, salt and pepper.  Heat a large oven-proof skillet with some vegetable oil and the remaining butter,  and pour the egg mixture into it. Let the omelette set for about 5 minutes on low-medium heat. Arrange the vegetable mixture on top, sprinkle with you favorite cheese. I had goat brie and the flavor combination was absolutely fantastic, but feel free to use something else if you don’t like goat cheese. Transfer the skillet into the pre-heated oven and broil for about 5 minutes until the omelette is completely set. Garnish with herbs and enjoy immediately!

Pistachio Lime Squares

These creamy lime squares are easy to make and delicious – a guaranteed hit at your next dinner party! The crust is made out of graham crackers, so all you need to make is the filling. Cook them in advance and amaze your guests without spending hours in the kitchen.

Adapted from Martha Stewart Living

Ingredients (for about 10 servings)

For the crust

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for pan

2/3 cup shelled pistachios

1 cup (4 ounces) graham-cracker crumbs

1 tablespoons grated lime zest

 For the filling

2 large egg yolks

1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk

1/2 cup fresh lime juice

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush an 8-inch square baking dish with melted butter and line bottom and sides with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides.

2.In a food processor, grind pistachios with graham-cracker crumbs and lime zest; add the butter and grind until smooth. Press the pistachio/cracker mixture  into the baking dish bottom and sides. Bake until lightly browned for about 10-12 minutes. Cool the crust for about 30 minutes.

3. In a large bowl make the filling by whisking together egg yolks until they whiten, add condensed milk and lime juice; whisk the mixture until smooth. Pour the filling into cooled crust; carefully spread to edges.

4. Bake until set, about 15 minutes. Cool in pan on rack; then chill at least a couple of hours before serving or overnight. Using parchment paper overhang, lift out of pan, transfer to a cutting board and cut into squares.

Croque-Monsieur Sandwich

Croque-Monsieur is my favorite sandwich. Don’t be intimidated by its fancy name, it’s basically your typical ham and cheese panini but you make it with bechamel sauce and Gruyere cheese and voila – you got yourself a Croque-Monsieur. Put a fried egg on it and that’d be a Croque-Madame. Bread is key here – get country-style bread with thick crust (like pain de campagne).

Adapted from Martha Stewart Living

Ingredients (for 2 servings)

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 1/2 tablespoons flour

1 cup 2% milk

8 oz. Gruyere cheese, grated

4 pieces country-style bread with thick crust

Few slices ham or prosciutto

Dijon mustard

Coarse salt

Pepper

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

Few spring fresh thyme

Fresh finely chopped parsley

Directions

1. Pre-heat the oven until 425F and toast the bread until golden brown and crispy.

2. Make the bechamel sauce. Melt butter in a sauce pan over medium heat, add flour and cook for 2 minutes constantly stirring with a wooden spoon. Slowly add milk and cook whisking constantly until the sauce thickens, about 3-5 minutes. Add salt, freshly ground black pepper, nutmeg and 2/3 of Gruyere cheese. Mix well and set aside. The sauce should be very thick.

3. Brush the toasted bread with Dijon mustard to taste, cover two slices with ham, sprinkle with some cheese and thyme, and cover with the other two slices of bread.

5. Slather sandwich tops with the bechamel sauce and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake until lightly browned on top, about 12-15 minutes. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve with pickles and arugula.

“Peasant” Rosemary Lemon Potatoes

While many of us are often curious about how to say “hello” or “thank you” if a foreign language (and I’m speaking now of PG13 words ONLY, wink!), my friend has an unusual hobby of learning how to say “Do you like potatoes?” in every language. As I was pronouncing “kar-to-shka” as clearly as I could so she could memorize it (“kartoshka” means potato in Russian), I thought that it’s quite an odd phrase to be learning. Don’t you agree? Apparently, the rationale behind it is absolutely genius – EVERYONE likes potatoes. Seriously, who doesn’t? It’s a great conversation starter! Love it.

Not only everyone loves potatoes. There are literally thousands of ways to cook them.  What’s even better is that they’re always delicious! This new recipe I tried today is a great addition to my favorite potato recipes. The combination of lemon, rosemary and olive oil is so fresh and fragrant! Try this instead of boring mashed potatoes loaded with cream and butter.

P. S. OK, I take that sentence back about mashed potatoes being boring. Mashed potatoes are awesome! But this is just as good, trust me!

Ingredients (for 4 servings)

2 ½ lbs. baby potatoes

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/3 cup olive oil

Leaves of 2 fresh rosemary springs, finely chopped

2-3 springs green onion, finely chopped

Salt

Black pepper

Boil the potatoes in salted water for about 15-20 minutes until they’re completely soft when pierced with a knife. Drain and gently crush the potatoes with a fork. Add lemon juice, rosemary, green onion, season with black pepper and toss gently. This makes a great side to any meat or fish dish. If you like this recipe, also try lemon olive oil mashed potatoes!

The Best Guacamole Ever

What could be a better treat on a lazy fall weekend than a bowl of fresh home-made guacamole?

I love guacamole and will eat it anywhere, no matter how it’s been made and what’s in it.  As far as I’m concerned, if mashed avocados are involved, I’m in! But my favorite guacamole is the one I make. Very modest of me to say this, I know. But the undeniable truth is that the most delicious guac is the one you make yourself adding only your favorite ingredients. You can add or skip cilantro, make it chunky or mash the heck out of it until it’s super smooth (no offense, but why would you do that?)– you get the idea. So, trust me – your home-made guacamole will be the best you’ve ever had. And the best part? You can make a ridiculously HUGE bowl!

So, here is my staple recipe. I love chunky, spicy and flavorful guacamole with tomatoes and lots of cilantro. How do you like yours?

Ingredients (for 2 servings)

4-5 large ripe avocados

1 medium tomato, chopped

1/2 teaspoon hot sauce

1/2 jalapeño pepper, chopped

Pinch of cayenne pepper

Sea salt to taste

Juice of 1 lime

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 small garlic clove, peeled and chopped

1 shallot, peeled and chopped

Handful of fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

Halve, peel and core avocados. Gently mash them in a large bowl with a fork, leaving large chunks. Add lime juice, tomatoes, lemon juice, shallot, garlic, hot sauce, cilantro and jalapeño. Mix well, seasoning with salt and a pinch of cayenne pepper to taste. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes to one hour and serve with your favorite tortilla chips. Lime Tostitos highly recommended!

Thai Chicken Curry


I’ve been  craving Thai food all day today. As I was freezing in the office (ACs, sometimes I really hate you!),  it really seemed like a perfect way to end a very busy and stressful work day. I was walking to my car, feeling chilly in refreshing and crispy autumn air, dreaming of a delicious Thai takeout. But as I was driving home, I thought why not try making a Thai curry? Although I’ve perfected another curry variation (see: Coconut Chicken Curry), I’ve never actually made the Thai curry and thought I had to try it. Tonight. Yes, I get obsessed and can’t wait when I’m determined to do something!

I stopped by at Whole Foods next to my house and fortunately they had all the ingredients. And the recipe? Thanks to my dear iPhone I had the perfect recipe at my fingertips in minutes. I changed it a little bit by adding fresh ginger, cayenne pepper and some water – I wanted to have as much warm and spicy sauce as possible! It turned out PERFECT. Can’t wait to have some leftovers for lunch tomorrow!

Ingredients (for 4-6 servings)

1 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk,* whisked to blend

2 teaspoons Thai curry paste*

2 large bell peppers (pick different colors), cored and cut into strips

1 medium onion, peeled and thinly sliced

1.5 lbs. skinless boneless chicken breasts, sliced thinly

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon fish sauce

1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger (optional)

3 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped

Handful of fresh basil leaves (read – A LOT)

Juice of 1 small lime

1-2 cups water (depending on how much liquid you prefer)

Salt

Pinch of cayenne pepper to taste

1. Bring 1/4 cup of coconut milk and curry paste to boil in a large sauce pan, add bell pepper and onion slices. Cook for about 3-5 minutes – make sure to not brown but rather saute the vegetables, add some water if needed.

2. Stir in chicken, remaining coconut milk, sugar, ginger, fish sauce and water. Boil and cook on medium until chicken is cooked through,  about 10 minutes.

3. Add basil leaves, salt to taste, cayenne pepper, lime juice and tomato chunks. Simmer for another 5-7 minutes. Enjoy over rice!