Monday, September 29, 2014

Almond Chocolate Biscotti

  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/4 cup almonds, slivered & toasted
  • 1/4 cup mini-dark chocolate chips
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • 4 tbsp. plain non-fat yogurt
  • parchment paper
Makes 3 dozen cookies (2 cookies per serving)
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
  2. Combine flours, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Add almonds and chocolate chips.
  3. In a mixer using a paddle or with a hand mixer, beat the butter, sugar, and lemon zest on medium-high until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the egg, egg white, vanilla and almond extract, beating well after each addition. Pour half of the flour mixture into the butter mixture, mixing well. Add yogurt and stir; then add remaining flour mixture and mix until just incorporated.
  4. Divide dough into 3 logs, each 6 1/2 inches long by 2 inches wide. Place on the parchment-lined sheet pan and bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Let cool for a few minutes.
  5. Transfer to a cutting board, removing them from the parchment with a large metal spatula if necessary. Using a serrated knife, trim 1/4-inch of end; then cut the logs crosswise into 1/2-inch slices. Return the slices to the baking sheet, arranging them cut side down.
  6. Bake until the biscotti are golden brown and dry, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool. They will crisp up as they dry. Store in an airtight container.
Note: This recipe appears in the New Sonoma Cookbook. Biscotti is a twice baked cookie that hails from Italy. Baking cookies twice gives them a nice, crunchy texture. The combination of almonds and chocolate is a heavenly guilty pleasure that can be good for you when it's done right. This was my first time making biscotti and the end result was a success. They were crunchy yet chewy due to the yogurt, egg, egg white and chocolate chips. You can use regular chocolate chips if you don't have mini chocolate chips; just chop them up with a knife or in a food processor. You'll have more chocolate flavor in your biscotti if you chop up the chips. You can also use pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts or cashews in this recipe as well as dried fruits in this recipe for your taste buds to try out. Biscotti goes great with tea, coffee or a glass of port for dessert and are perfect for any holiday celebration. 

Pizza Magherita with Roasted Grape Tomatoes

  • 2 pints grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 large red onion, halved lengthwise, then sliced crosswise
  • 2 large garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 14/ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 recipe Basic Pizza Dough-Semolina version
  • 1 (1 oz.) piece Parmesan cheese, shaved
  • 12 fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
Makes 4 Servings (1/4 of pizza per serving)
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Spray a large baking pan with olive oil nonstick spray.
  2. Place the tomatoes, onion and garlic in a single layer on the pan. Sprinkle with the vinegar, salt, and pepper. Roast until the tomatoes are lightly browned and have an intense, sweet aroma, about 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
  3. Arrange one rack on the bottom rung of the oven. Increase the temperature to 425 F.
  4. Sprinkle a work surface lightly flour. Turn the dough onto the surface; knead lightly. With a lightly-floured rolling pin, roll into 12-inch circle. Transfer the circle of dough to a nonstick pizza pan or baking sheet, gently pulling the dough back to a 12-inch circle.
  5. Spoon the tomato mixture onto the dough; top with half of the Parmesan chees and bake on the bottom rack of the oven until the crust is golden and the cheese melts slightly, 12-15 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese and the basil just before serving.
Note: This recipe appears in the WW New Complete Cookbook. This is what I call a sophisticated pizza and a compliment to Italy. Roasted grape tomatoes with onions and garlic is very aromatic. The key to baking the perfect pizza is placing a rack on the bottom rack of the oven so the crust browns nicely and is cooked fully through. This gourmet pizza is great to make on the weekend because  it will warm your kitchen and house. 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Ahi Tuna with Sicilian Salsa

  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
  • 44-oz. ahi tuna steaks
  • Sicilian Salsa
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
Sicilian Salsa:
  • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup red onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup homemade (or canned) diced tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp. kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
  • 1 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
Makes 4 Servings
  1. For the tuna: Combine the garlic, olive oil, rosemary, salt and pepper. Marinate the tuna in the mixture for 1 hour.
  2. Grill the tuna over medium-high heat about 5 minutes per side. Do not overcook the tuna or it will become very dry.
  3. For the salsa: Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, pepper and garlic. Cook 5 minutes, until the onion is soft, stirring often. Remove from heat.
  4. Place in a mixing bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Season to taste, spoon over tuna steaks and serve.
Note: This recipe appears in the New Sonoma Cookbook. This is what I like to call "Sonoma Goes to Italy." These flavors of Sonoma and California wine country are rich and colorful and they really wake up your taste buds. This dish really is a compliment to the Mediterranean with the salsa. You can serve this salsa alongside other fish, chicken, turkey, steak, or even veal. Also, don't overcook the tuna because it will get dry very quickly. This is a very sophisticated and simple dish that can be served for lunch or dinner for family and friends. This meal is better than what you would get at your local Italian restaurant it's that good.

Grilled Chicken with Summer Squash Relish

  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 (10 oz.) bone-in, skin-on chicken breast halves
  • 1 medium yellow squash, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 1 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 small red onion, finely chopped (1/3 cup)
  • 1 cup whole fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Makes 4 Servings
  1. Heat a grill to medium. Lightly oil the grill grates.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the coriander, cumin, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, the ginger and pepper. With your fingers, carefully lift the chicken skin without removing it. Rub the spice mixture under the skin and pat the skin down.
  3. Grill the chicken, turning it over halfway through cooking, for about 15 minutes, or until cooked through but still juicy. Let cool slightly.
  4. While chicken is cooking, in a medium bowl, toss together the yellow squash, zucchini, onion, parsley, lemon juice, oil and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt until well combined.
  5. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove and discard the skin. Serve the chicken warm or at room temperature with the squash relish spooned evenly on top.
Note: This recipe appears in the South Beach Diet Super Quick Cookbook. This is what I like to call better than fast food because it's colorful and more flavorful. I like to think of this meal as better than Chick Fil-A. Seasoning the chicken adds moisture and more flavorful. The yellow squash, zucchini and onion will fill you up along with the chicken. If you don't have access to a grill, you can broil the chicken and it will taste just as good. I highly recommend adding garlic to the spice mixture because garlic always makes everything better. I also highly recommend using Lemon or Garlic Infused Olive Oil from the Imperial Olive in Williamsburg, VA for a more lemony or garlic flavor. For more information, visit 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Lemon Ginger Tea

  • 2 tbsp. fresh ginger, chopped
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp. agave syrup
  • 1 pinch salt
Makes 4 Servings (1/2 Cup per Serving)
  1. Place ginger and water in a small pot. Cut lemon in half; squeeze juice into pot; add lemon halves. Bring to a simmer; cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Let sit for 10 minutes. Remove lemon halves.
  2. Stir in agave syrup and salt. Let cool. Strain before serving.
Note: This recipe appears in the New Sonoma Cookbook. This is a quick and simple drink that will cleanse your palate. You can use a combination of lemon and lime or use either lemon or lime in this drink or use honey in place of the agave nectar and your drink will still cleanse your palate. Lime and ginger will give this drink and Asian flare. Serve this drink to 5-Ingredient Chef Claire Robinson and she'll be happy.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Chicken & Mushroom Bolognese

  • 1 (9 oz.) package fresh fettucine
  • 4 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small carrot, chopped
  • 1 small celery stalk, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 lb. ground skinless chicken breast
  • 1 (10 oz.) package sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2. tsp. freshly ground black pepper.
  • 1 cup prepared fat-free marinara sauce
Makes 4 Servings (1 1/4 cups per serving)
  1. Cook the fettucine according to the package directions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, carrot, and celery; stirring, until the onion is golden, about 4 minutes. Add the chicken and cook, breaking it apart with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms, salt and pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes. Add the marinara sauce and bring to a simmer.
  3. Add the pasta to the Bolognese sauce and toss, adding enough of the reserved cooking water to moisten the sauce, if needed.
Note: This recipe appears in the WW in 20 Minutes Cookbook. This was a nice treat for a change. I was craving Italian food and was cleaning out the refrigerator at the same time and this recipe looked too good to pass up. This was a delicious dinner and a compliment to Italy. Plus, this dinner was tastier than takeout and just as good as what you would order at your local Italian restaurant. You can use any kind of pasta in this dish and your dish will still be delicious. If you're strapped for time, put the onion, celery and carrot in a food processor and then put them in the skillet. I highly recommend adding a touch of basil and oregano to the Bolgnese mixture because basil and oregano add such aromatic flavors to Italian cooking. I also recommend adding a touch of dry red wine to the sauce because wine always makes things taste better. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Whole-Wheat Avocado Bread

  • 2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 cup granular sugar substitute
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 ripe avocados, pitted, peeled and mashed
  • 1/2 cup nonfat yogurt or 1 % buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
Makes 10 Servings (1 piece per Serving)
  1. Heat the oven to 350 F. Lightly coat the bottom of a 9 X 5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar substitute, baking soda and salt.
  3. In a medium bowl, stir together the avocados, yogurt, eggs, oil, and vanilla. Lightly fold the mixture into the dry ingredients until just combined. The batter will be thick and chunky.
  4. Scrape the batter into the pan and spread evenly. Bake for 40 minutes, or until golden on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes our clean. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. Store leftover bread, tightly wrapped, at room temperature.
Note: This recipe appears in the South Beach Diet Super Quick Cookbook. When I saw this recipe, I thought it was to be an accompaniment at a Mexican dinner. I was wrong. You can eat this bread any time of day and it's still moist and delicious. It is surprisingly sweet. moist and filled with nice flavors. It's like a tea bread but better for you thanks to the avocado. You can even make this bread into mini bread loaves and either wrapped tightly in plastic and put into the freezer or even put this into a bread basket and be given as a gift.