Caramelized Fennel Crostini and Mandarin Mocktail's

Movie lovers, the Academy Awards are here. Whether you're having an Oscars bash or watching the telecast from your couch, this fun light pairing will please all. Caramelized Fennel Crostini with Goat Cheese and Mandarine Mocktails. 

Crostini's are one of my favorite appetizers. This pairing was inspired from my organic produce home delivery service, Farm Fresh to YouThe only fruit and veggie left from my latest delivery, was the Murcott Mandarins and one Bulb Fennel. 

These crostini are simple. Creamy goat cheese topped with sweet and savory caramelized fennel. The mocktail is made with mandarin, strawberry and pineapple juices. This sweet drink works well with the flavors of the crostini. 

Caramelized Fennel Crostini with Goat Cheese

Recipe inspired from Putney Farm
Serves: 4

1 bulb fennel
1/8 cup white onion
1/8 cup olive oil
1/2 lemon
Pinch organic sugar
Sea salt
Fresh cracked pepper
Pinch red pepper flakes
Goat Cheese
French baguette
Olive oil for brushing

Slice the baguette into 1/4" slices. Lightly brush one side with olive oil. I use my convection oven and toast lightly until golden, about 4 minutes. Set aside.

Cut the tops and bottoms off the fennel bulb. Slice the bulb in half and remove the core. Cut fennel into thin slices and then chop into smaller pieces. Chop the onion. Add oil to skillet and saute fennel and onion, with a pinch of sugar, until they are caramelized and golden brown. About 10 minutes. 

Remove fennel and onion mixture from pan (drain off excess oil) and put into small bowl to cool. Season with sea salt, cracked pepper and add the juice from 1/2 a lemon. 

Spread goat cheese on crostini and top with caramelized fennel. Add another twists of cracked pepper and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Bon Appetit.

Murcott Mandarin Mocktail

Serves 2

12 Murcott mandarins
8 strawberries
1/2 cup pineapple juice - chilled 
1 teaspoon organic sugar

Slice the mandarins in half and juice using a citrus press over a bowl. Strain juice and chill for 30 minutes or until ready to assemble.

Slice strawberries and place in bowl. Sprinkle sugar on top and stir. Chill strawberries for 30 minutes. 

In a blender puree the chilled strawberries with the chilled pineapple juice.

Pour strawberry puree into champagne flute and top with chilled mandarin juice. 


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Vegetarian Pot Pie

When I became a vegetarian, chicken pot pie was one of the comfort foods I truly missed. I've tested many recipes over the years, but couldn't find one that I loved, until now. This comfort food classic has been converted to be vegetarian. I use Quorn Chik'n Cutlets because they are meatless and soy free. You can easily substitute potato cubes or any mushroom variety for the Quorn Cutlets. Hope your hungry!

Vegetarian Pot Pie

Recipe adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything

1 box Quorn Naked Chik'n Cutlets - cubed
1 (16 ounce) bag frozen carrots and peas
1 cup sliced white mushrooms
1/2 cup sliced celery
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 teaspoon black pepper
2 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped
32 ounce carton vegetarian broth for boiling (reserve 1 3/4 cups vegetable broth for sauce)
2/3 cup milk
2 (9 inch) unbaked pie crusts

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a pot, combine the Quorn Chik'n cubes, mushrooms, carrots, peas, celery and fresh thyme. Add the carton of vegetable broth and boil for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, drain (reserving 1 3/4 cup vegetable broth for filling) and set aside. 

In the saucepan over medium heat, cook onions in butter until soft and translucent. Stir in flour, salt and pepper. Slowly stir in reserved 1 3/4 cup vegetable broth and milk. Simmer over medium-low heat until thick. Remove from heat and combine with the Chik'n, mushroom, carrots, peas and celery mixture. You can add more vegetable broth if you like depending how runny you want your filling. 

Slightly bake the bottom crust before filling the pie, so it isn't soggy (4-5 minutes). Pour filling in the bottom crust. Cover with top crust, seal edges and cut away excess dough. Make several slits in the top to allow steam to escape. 

Bake in pre-heated over for 25 to 30 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.


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Creamy Delight - Sweet Potato Juice Blend

Did you know that you can juice sweet potatoes? Well you can, and you should because the juice is delicious. Plus it's loaded with antioxidants, vitamins and nutrients. Sweet potato juice, when combined with any fruit or vegetable juice, creates a rich, sweet, smooth "milk shake" texture. 

Creamy Delight - Sweet Potato Juice Blend

Serves: 2

2 sweet potatoes
8 carrots
1/2 pineapple
1 orange

Wash the sweet potatoes and carrots thoroughly. Cut the tops off the carrots and cut the sweet potatoes into pieces that will fit through the juicer chute. Slice off pineapple rind and cut into pieces. Cut the orange in half and peel. Press everything through the juicer. Stir to blend all the juices and drink immediately.

This juice blend is high in Vitamin A, C, B6, beta-carotene, minerals, potassium, magnesium and iron. It's packed with antioxidants and has natural anti-inflammatory properties. It also strengthens your immune system is good for a healthy digestive tract.

To our health!

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Pizza Love

Pizza Dough

Recipe from Mario Batali
Serves 4

1/4 cup white wine
3/4 cup warm water
1 1/2 ounces fresh yeast
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
3 1/2 cups flour

Place wine, water and yeast in a large bowl and stir until dissolved. Add the honey, salt and 1 tablespoon olive oil and mix well to combine. Add 1 cup of the flour and mix with a wooden spoon until it becomes a loose batter. Add 2 more cups of the flour and stir for 2 to 3 minutes, incorporating as much flour as you can with the wooden spoon.

Bring the dough together by hand and turn out onto a floured surface. Knead for 6 to 8 minutes, until dough is smooth and firm. Place in a clean, lightly-oiled bowl, using remaining tablespoon of oil and cover with a towel. Let rise in the warmest part of the kitchen for 45 minutes.

For two pizzas cut the dough into equal pieces and knead into rounds. For one large pizza, knead into 1 large round. For either, let rest for 15 minutes.

Bon Appetit.

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Healthy Hearts

My heart and soul craves chocolate. What can I say? Fortunately I crave dark chocolate, which is known to have many health benefits. Cacao is chocolate in it's raw form, before fat, sugar, and other “sweeteners” are added.

In the last 10 years, studies have found strong support for the healthy benefits of cacao powder. Cacao has more antioxidant flavonoids than any food tested so far, including blueberries, red wine, and black and green teas. Raw cacao powder is also a great source of magnesium, which is beneficial for heart health, good digestion, brain alertness, strong bones, and mental health.

These deep dark cacao chocolate hearts are easy to prepare and make a healthy indulgent treat with zero guilt. Chocoholics rejoice!

Cacao Coconut Hearts

1/4 cup cacao powder - I used Dagoba Organic Cacao Powder 
1/4 cup virgin coconut oil (melted)
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine coconut oil, maple syrup and vanilla. Stir, then add cacao powder. Stir very well until smooth. Pour into candy molds or pour in rounds on wax paper. Freeze until solid, and store in the refrigerator or freezer.

Experiment with healthy additions like orange zest, shredded coconut, almonds, hazelnuts, mint or rosemary. 

Put “eat chocolate” at the top of your list of things to do today. 
That way, at least you’ll get one thing done.   
- author unknown

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Jake's Chunky Vegetarian Chili

Football and chili are an American tradition. Every year my Dad would make his "famous" spicy chili on Super Bowl Sunday and have a huge party. However, my Dad's chili was a meat lovers dream, not a bean or veggie in site. 

We are carrying on this tradition, but with a lighter vegetarian version. It's healthy, hearty and has a kick! Prepare this chili in a slow cooker for an easy, crowd pleasing dish.

Jake's Chunky Vegetarian Chili

Serves 6-8

2 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped yellow bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 (14.5 ounce) cans stewed tomatoes, undrained
2 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinse and drained
1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 (15 ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 fresh jalapeno, minced (no seeds)
1 Anaheim pepper, chopped (no seeds)
1 package ground soy protein (optional)

We prepare our chili in a slow cooker but saute some of the ingredients first in a skillet. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add ground soy, onion, bell peppers and garlic. Saute 5 minutes or until tender. 

Transfer sauteed mixture to slow cooker, add sugar and all the remaining ingredients. Stir to blend and cover. That's it. Heat on high for 2 hours, then turn to low and cook for another 1-3 hours. It can be kept on low for many hours in the slow cooker. 

Serve with mini cornbread muffins. 


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