Monday, April 18, 2016

A Twist on a Classic

Happy Tuesday! The temperature is warming up and I'm looking forward to the week. After a busy weekend and a work training on Saturday, I took Monday off to catch up on my normal weekend errands. There was a lot of cooking, grocery shopping, laundry and cleaning - and let's be real, a few episodes of Fuller House thrown in there. I'm looking forward to a slightly shorter work week and sharing this recipe with all of you! It is a dish that I have been making for years, but realized that I've never shared it on my blog. It's simple, delicious and comes together in a flash.

So, let's take a step back. You've probably heard of chicken parmesan and eggplant parmesan before as they are both well known Italian dishes. Today, I'm putting a new twist on this old favorite with one of my all time favorite vegetables. The ingredients list is minimal - a secret veggie, breadcrumbs, an egg for binding, marinara sauce and of course, cheese... so what could it be?


The star of this show is low in calories and rich in potassium - it's zucchini! Spring is here and many of us will be planting our summer gardens soon; the obvious choice being to add zucchini.  If you give that plant plenty of TLC, it will grow like crazy and you will soon be up to your eyeballs in this beloved green squash! At that point, you will start asking yourself how many loaves of zucchini bread one person can make and what else you could possibly do with this squash. While this is a beautiful spring recipe, it's also great for summer when the zucchini grows like wildflower.



If my kitchen walls could talk: The marinara sauce helps to make this dish shine. I recommend using your favorite high quality sauce (my personal fave is Rao's) or feel free to make your own marinara if you are feeling ambitious. You can also triple this recipe if you are going to be feeding a crowd. When cooking with a large zucchini, which typically aren't found until summer, I recommend cutting the slices into rounds.


Zucchini Parmesan 

Ingredients

2 small or 1 large zucchini
1/2 cup gluten-free breadcrumbs
1 tbsp Parmesan cheese
1 egg
2/3 cup marinara sauce, warmed
1/3 cup shredded provolone or 2 slices provolone cheese

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice zucchini lengthwise into strips about 1/8-1/4 an inch thick and 3-4 inches long.
2. Combine breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese, set aside. Beat egg in a small bowl. Dip zucchini strips in egg, then breadcrumbs. Place on baking sheet. Repeat until all strips are used. Bake for 20-25 minutes until lightly browned, turning halfway through.
3. Remove zucchini strips from the oven, leaving 2 on baking sheet. Top with cheese, place back in over 3-5 minutes until cheese is lightly browned.
4. Layer marinara sauce, zucchini strips, cheese. Repeat until all is used, top with browned zucchini strips from the oven.

What's your favorite zucchini recipe? 

Friday, April 15, 2016

4.15.16 Friday Favorites

Happy Friday! This week flew by and I can hardly believe it's already time for the weekend. I'm looking forward to a malnutrition seminar this weekend, checking out a friend's new house and brunch with my girlfriends on Sunday. Since it's Friday, I'm sharing my favorites of the week and joining the party that Life in Leggings started by linking up. Let's get started!!


Life In Leggings

Food - Tomatoes + Mozzarella = Bliss


  • Caprese salads!!! Chop your favorite kind of tomatoes, slice fresh mozzarella and throw into a bowl with romaine and basil. I like to drizzle mine with olive oil, pepper and a balsamic reduction. The perfect spring side. 

Fashion - Skinnies and Sunnies 
  • It's full on maternity clothes over here and I'm loving these white skinny jeans from the Gap. They have a full panel and fit true to size. I was craving a pair of white skinnies for the spring time and these have been my go to! If you're pregnant and clumsy like me, definitely make sure you have a Tide pen on hand when you take these out for a spin ;) 

  • I've been wearing these BP Abbey Road sunglasses every day! They're a great dupe for pricier Karen Walker pairs and at $12 are a steal. 

Found on the Web
  • Emily's tutorial on how to clean your wedding rings  - mine have never been so shiny!
  • Jessica's chocolate stuffed oatmeal bars - I need these ASAP 
  • Julie's post on what she wished she knew before her baby was born 
  • My chocolate dream pie - full of chocolate and totally delicious! 

What are you loving this Friday? 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Back to Basics: My Top Kitchen Essentials

I focus many of my posts on recipes, but what's the key to any successful recipe? Quality kitchen tools. With wedding season on the horizon and spring in full bloom, many people are revamping their kitchens by registering or taking the plunge for new items.

When it comes to kitchen tools, quality doesn't always require spending your life savings. You can find plenty of tools at lower price points that won't break the bank. Today, I'm sharing my top kitchen essentials. Whether you're a bride-to-be planning your registry, a college graduate looking to stock up the kitchen of your first apartment or anyone looking to live a healthier lifestyle, then this post is for you! You can skimp on cutting boards, oven mitts and spatulas, but these are the items you truly need - I've linked my favorites below along with budget friendly options.


Cookware Set
  • This is your ultimate kitchen staple. You need pots and pans for making scrambled eggs, boiling pasta, sauteing veggies, cooking up that stir fry or making that large batch of risotto. If you're debating what to spend your money on, this is it. A quality set that lasts will be around for 10 years and longer if you care for it correctly. Calphalon is my favorite brand - I received a hand me down set from a family member that lasted me for years until I got married and upgraded to a new set of my own. I've found the pans cook food easily, are resistant to scratching and come with a lifetime warranty. I've listed what you should look for in your set and linked a few options below!
    • Stock pot 
    • Small omelette/frying pan 
    • Large omelette/frying pan
    • Medium saute pan 
    • Large saute pan 

Stoneware Baking Dish 
  • I use my stoneware baking dishes for everything; I'm sure you've seen them all over this blog - baked pasta dishes, casseroles, homemade fajitas, dessert bars - you name it and it's probably been cooked in a stoneware dish. They're easy to wash and heavy duty. They range in all price points - you can spend more or you can spend less, but my first stoneware baking dish was on clearance for $7.00 and I use it weekly and have for years. 

Food Processor
  • This is an absolute must have! The ultimate workhorse of the kitchen. I use my food processor for pureeing bananas for breads, chopping nuts, whipping up pizza dough, shredding cheese, chopping herbs, crushing beans, making homemade nut butters, creating salad dressings and more. Food processors come in all makes, models and sizes. You can find affordable mini food processors for around $30, but keep in mind that these have smaller motors and won't be able to perform all of the tasks of a larger food processor. Most larger food processors come with multiple blades for shredding, slicing, chopping and more. 


Pizza Stone
  • Who doesn't love pizza? It's so easy to make your own using fresh dough. A definite must have that gets use in our kitchen every weekend. I love mine because it's coated in a protective glaze and can even go on the grill - definitely on my bucket list to try this summer. 

We've covered my kitchen essentials, so now let's talk about the non-essentials that I've been dreaming of! The kitchen is one of my favorite rooms of the house and I love to spend my time there, so let me share what's on my wish list.

High Quality Gas Range
  • My dream kitchen would include a restaurant quality gas range, like these by BlueStar. I love cooking on a gas range - I feel like you can control the temperature of the food so much better. While I love our gas range, these truly look out of this world. Plus, you can even build your own dream appliance. You can pick the amount and types of burners and can even customize the color to match your kitchen, right down to the knobs!  


Vitamix
  • Is there anything this magical blender can't do? I don't think so. It purees anything, can heat up soups and makes divine smoothies. It can even puree an entire apple. Let that sink in!

Excalibur Dehydrator
  • I can't justify the price of a super pricey dehydrator, just for making my own macaroons and kale chips, but a girl can totally dream right?
What are your kitchen essentials? What kitchen items are you dreaming of? Share in the comments below!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Chocolate Dream Pie

It's Monday and the week is off to another start.....I know sometimes Monday can be a little dreary, so instead let's talk about something incredible. It's chocolate cream pie. Crisp chocolate cookies form the shell, rich chocolate filling is layered in and it's topped with homemade whipped cream. You'll never go back to the canned variety after you taste this!


If my kitchen walls could talk: I recommend doing this recipe in steps as it can be a lengthy process. I suggest making the crust ahead of time as it needs to be cold prior to the addition of the filling. Do not skip the parchment paper step or else your filling may develop a film on top. Sliced strawberries would be a colorful addition instead of chocolate if you want to jazz up this pie for summer or even use strawberries and blueberries for a 4th of July or Memorial Day pie!



Chocolate Dream Pie, adapted from Epicurious 

Ingredients

Crust
10.6 oz package chocolate creme cookies
4 tbsp butter, melted

Filling
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
4 egg yolks, large
3 cups whole milk
7 oz bittersweet 60% chocolate
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 tbsp vanilla

Topping
1 cup whipping cream, chilled
Chocolate shavings/chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a small food processor or using a ziplock bag and rolling pin, crush chocolate cream cookies until fine. Combine crushed cookies with butter and lightly press into bottom and sides of pie plate, about ~1 inch up the sides. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove, set aside to cool.
2. In a medium saucepan, whisk together sugar, cornstarch and egg yolks over medium heat. Whisk in milk and turn up to medium high. Continue whisking until mixture begins to bubble and thicken. Continue whisking 1-2 minutes until mixture is thick. Remove from heat, stir in chocolate, butter and vanilla, whisking until smooth.
3. Place filling in a large bowl, cover tightly with parchment paper. Chill ~3 hours.
4. In a stand mixer, whip the whipping cream with the whisk attachment on high until soft peaks form. Add chocolate filling to cookie shell, top with whipped cream and chocolate shavings or chips as desired.

What's your favorite kind of pie? 

Friday, April 8, 2016

An Exciting Announcement

Happy Friday! I always share my favorites on Fridays, but today I've just got one... a very special announcement about someone who is near and dear to my heart. 


I couldn't be more excited to announce the anticipated arrival of this little lady who is due in August! We couldn't be more overjoyed. She is truly our little miracle and we cannot wait for her arrival. 

In addition to my normal blog posts, I'll also be sharing periodic glimpses into my pregnancy. Now, the lack of posts over the past few months makes a lot more sense doesn't it? It's hard to blog about food when you're feeling nauseated. If you aren't down for baby posts, feel free to skip those and come back for the normal antics. Have a wonderful Friday!