Stracciatella Tortoni Cake with Espresso Fudge Sauce

By now, you probably know that I love entertaining and cooking for friends. Hosting a dinner party seems so adult, but I remember begging to help my mom with her dinner parties even when I was young. I’ll never forget the time I made Bon Appetit’s S’mores Coffee and Fudge Ice Cream Cake for a dinner party. I was 12. It was the cover recipe that month and I saw it and decided I had to make it.

Now, I’m twice the age and love the feeling even more of inviting friends over, planning menus, reading recipes and having a “grown-up” night in. And, I still love frozen desserts laden with chocolate sauce.

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Brussels Sprouts with Currants and Toasted Hazelnuts

 

Brussels sprouts are one of my favorite vegetables. My stepdad used to make them all the time when I was young, so I’ve had a constant vegetable love affair with these tiny cabbage look-alikes. They are, in fact part of the cabbage family. I love simply roasting brussels sprouts with olive oil and good sea salt. I love braising them, or just steaming them and tossing with fresh herbs and salt. The options are endless, but I made these ones shaved with added sweetness from apple cider-soaked currants and a nutty crunch from warm, toasted hazelnuts.

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Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel Truffles

It’s calling your name. Or at least, this dark chocolate salted caramel truffle is certainly calling mine. Right now, the leftovers are sitting in a glass tupperware in my refrigerator. It’s breakfast time, but I can’t stop thinking how wonderful one of these would taste with my coffee. Maybe just half of one?

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Making truffles is a labor of love in that you have to be patient. It takes time for these balls of heaven to chill, cool and set.

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Sugar, Spice and All Things Nice: Spiced Nuts

 

I am nuts for nuts, especially jazzed up nuts like the ones you probably love, too. I made these spiced nuts to have as a little appetizer before a dinner party where I knew everyone would leave stuffed. Sometimes I’ll serve an appetizer that’s a bit more filling, but I wanted people to munch and drink wine without filling up too much before dinner. Plus, I love having leftover spiced nuts to top on salads, or enjoy on their own.

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Polenta with Oven Roasted Tomatoes and Caramelized Onions, Mushrooms

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In Italy, polenta can be enjoyed at any time of day either sweet or savory. Polenta once was known as “peasant food” because it was cheap and readily available. But polenta or “Italian grits” is extremely versatile and extremely yummy. I used a gluten-free variety.

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I followed a recipe from Nutrition Coach Linda Wagner, but added my own twist with the mushrooms.

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Raw tomatoes, a blend of Roma and grape, are sliced, and laid on parchment along with whole, un-peeled garlic and herbs.

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Don’t let the color fool you: Green Smoothie

Don’t judge a book by its cover and don’t judge a smoothie by its color. I bring some variation of a green machine smoothie into work most days and most days I get stares of disgust, or at least looks of extreme question. People wonder why? Why would I drink something that looks that way? Well, their minds change once they have a sip. I get a lot of requests for the recipe to my healthy green smoothie, but the truth is I try and make each one a bit different. However, this recipe is tried and true.

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The best way to start a Sunday, or any day

I think there is something magical about mornings, Sundays in particular. It has everything to do with relaxation and the fact that most of us usually have no place to be right away. From the second I wake up on a morning when I know I can spend time eating and enjoying breakfast, I dream of what to make. Sometimes my indecision leaves me to drink far too much coffee. But this weekend morning, I woke with french toast on my mind. For me, morning breakfast magic typically begins with eggs.

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Chocolate + Avocados = Love

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Has anything ever looked more eat-able? So smooth and sweet looking — but, will I feel overly-full, over-sugared at the end? Nope. And here’s why: the main ingredient is four very ripe avocados, peeled and pitted. There is NO dairy, unless you choose to top it with homemade whipped cream like I did, and you get a serving a fruit. Win, win, win.

Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

It all starts with delicious semi-sweet chocolate chips just waiting to be melted.

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