Vegan Pumpkin Kale Pasta Casserole

The title of this recipe alone has so much good stuff going on I don't know where to start. I suppose why I made it is as good a place as any. The lovely Christie invited the girls over to christen her cozy new patio and usher in fall this past week. While it would be nice to survive on wine and s'mores alone, we were going to need something more. To relieve our gracious host of at least one burden I offered to bake an entree.

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Flavor Profile: Balsamic Cherry

It took a bit longer than expected but we finally reached fall! A season of some of the best scents and flavors the earth has to offer. One of the new flavors I've been experimenting with is balsamic cherry. Yep, you read that correctly. Balsamic vinegar does wonders for sweet stuff by adding its own sugars and that tangy zip only attributed to vinegar. I mixed 4 ounces of dried tart cherries with 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar in a saucepan and let is simmer on low for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. It will initially let off some overwhelming vinegar fumes that will singe your nose hairs if you're not careful. Once the mixture has thickened I removed it from the heat and placed it in a small ramekin for safe keeping. I'm not sure how long it will keep for in the fridge but I used mine within a week and that seemed to be OK.

I used the cherries a few different ways, the first was on a flatbread. On a Trader Joe's frozen pizza crust I spread a generous layer of ricotta topped with caramelized onions, sliced smoked duck and apple jack brandy sausage (one of the many fine products at Oscar's Smokehouse of the Adirondacks) and dotted it with spoonfuls of balsamic cherries. I would like to think that any chicken apple sausage would be a decent substitute for those not lucky enough to visit Oscar's. A nice combination of flavors and textures, this flatbread is easy enough to pull off on a weeknight but seems way more elegant and complicated than it appears.

The second way I used the cherries was in brownie mix. I use the Food Network fudgy brownie recipe (rave reviews every time) and stirred in 1/2 cup of the balsamic cherry mixture, mixing until sufficiently incorporated. I brought them to school to share with coworkers with a little trepidation that they might not go over as well as my other baked goods. Well, I couldn't be more wrong. They disappeared by noon and a handful of people complimented my creativity and two asked for the recipe. I love when I make something that inspires others to say, "Wow, I never thought of that combination." It makes me feel like a culinary pioneer even though I'm more of a nomad.

Balsamic cherries would also be a nice base for sauces meant for pork or game meat. I even stirred a few extra spoonfuls into some yogurt for a pleasant burst of acidity to cut the dairy. The possibilities are finite but boy, are they delicious. Until the next dish, ciao!

Saffron Honey Pistachio Biscotti

Saffron Honey Pistachio Biscotti

"When inspiration strikes but you don't have the time to execute" could be the tagline for my life. I constantly imagine combinations and variations of dishes but am usually so busy I don't have enough consecutive hours to accomplish anything. When I do find those glorious hours I try to make at least three different things so I can feel moderately productive. I found a string of hours this past weekend and finally made some biscotti I wanted to try out since the spring.

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Grilled Greens and Garlic Chickpeas with Pasta

Grilled Greens and Garlic Chickpeas with Pasta

In my quest to become a more healthful, conscientious eater, I wanted to challenge myself with my latest dish. I love my bacon, carbs and all sorts of sinful treats but in moderation. So what's a gal to do for the other dozen meals when she isn't stuffing her face with sugar? Well, here you have it.

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Triple Almond and Apricot Linzer Cookies

I have a slight problem when it comes to saying thank you. Chill out, I'm going to explain.

 I say thank you when necessary (and then some) but when I am so truly grateful for something/someone I find it difficult to thoroughly express myself. So I bake something for that person.  It's weird, I know, but I have yet to get any complaints. 

I have an upcoming formal event for which I needed a very nice dress. Said dress needed quite a bit of hemming and it wasn't easy material to work with. However, I have the best tailor in Westchester and, as I knew she would, she did an outstanding job. I couldn't thank her enough so what did I do? I baked. I had a jar of apricot preserves that needed using so I found a base recipe, which I then transformed into my own.

Almond flavor is one of my favorites, especially when combined with apricot. I upped the almond by using almond meal, crushed almonds and extract. One of my coworkers is also on the almond/apricot train so I made sure to save a few for him. I got a flurry of texts that night:

"omg SOOOOOO good"

"like serious good"


If that doesn't prove these cookies are a winner then I don't know what does. Oh, I should mention he knows his way around sweets: he's quite the baker himself and dates a pastry chef. Sooooooooo, yeah. These cookies are the ****. Until the next dish, ciao!


You will need:

1 cup flour

1 cup almond meal/flour

2 sticks of softened butter

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1 egg

1/3 cup dry toasted sliced/slivered almond, crushed

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp almond extract

1/4 tsp cinnamon (plus an extra dash or two)

3oz apricot jam

Powdered sugar

Combine both flours, crushed almonds and cinnamon, set aside. Using a hand mixer on low to medium mix the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and both extracts and mix well. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and gently combine, do not overmix.

Divide dough onto 2 pieces; press into small discs, about 1 inch thick. Wrap separately in plastic wrap and refrigerate 2 hours or until firm enough to roll.

Preheat oven to 350. Flour your work surface and roll out one disc to about 1/8 thick, perhaps even thinner. Using your desired cookie cutter, cut out the shapes and transfer them to a cookie sheet greased or coated in cooking spray. *I chose to NOT make them "window" cookies so you will have to adjust your cutting if you choose to do so*

You can reroll scrap dough but after the second time I suggest placing it back in the refrigerator and beginning the process again with another disc.

Bake for 12 minutes, until the cookies are light brown. Remove from oven and let cool on sheet. Spread a thin layer of jam on one cookie, place a second cookie on top and sandwich together. Repeat process and dust cookies with powdered sugar.




Calamari and Chorizo Pasta

Calamari and Chorizo Pasta

The days are getting lighter, longer and warmer, which means I want to spend less time inside cooking and more enjoying the outdoors. I was able to do just that the other night with this Calamari and Chorizo pasta dish. This dish came together in less than fifteen minutes but  you would never know. With hints of saffron and the bold spice of chorizo, this dish hits all the right flavor notes. 

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Lentil Mushroom Quinoa Burgers

Lentil Mushroom Quinoa Burgers

After a bit more of a hiatus than I'm used to (I didn't even post a darn thing on the 'gram) I have a few recipes worth sharing. I wish I could say that my hiatus was used for planning said recipes but that was not the case. I had a few curve balls thrown my way, nothing serious, but I started the week with my pants ripping open in the middle of teaching and ended it with a  volleyball square to the face. And there was stuff in between. So yeah. At any rate, the first of these recipes is a vegan Mushroom, Lentil, Quinoa Burger that has the vegan seal of approval. 

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Cauliflower, Rosemary and Roasted Garlic Soup

Cauliflower, Rosemary and Roasted Garlic Soup

In case you weren't aware via every form of social media it was beyond frigid last weekend in the Northeast. I went to college in New Hampshire for four years and don't ever remember it being this cold. The only way to handle meteorologic events such as this is to make a large batch of soup and catch up on your Netflix shows.

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