Friday, July 20, 2012

Creative ideas for cooking at home

Here are some creative ideas for what you can cook at home.

This is what I called "Antipasto Pizza". It has some of the ingredients you can find in a typical antipasto platter. I used my home-made Sicilian pizza dough. Then I topped it with slowly roasted roma tomatoes sauce. After that the possibilities are endless, but in this case, I tried grilled chicken (for meatiness), prosciutto (for saltiness), mozzarella cheese (for creaminess), and roasted red bell peppers (for sweetness).

Antipasto pizza: Roasted tomatoes sauce, grilled chicken, prosciutto, and roasted red bell peppers

This Beet and Cherries Salad was inspired by a salad we ate in "How to cook a wolf" restaurant in Seattle. The cherries were in season, so the chef prepared beet, cherries, mascarpone, and ricotta salad. Here is my version. In my opinion, it is even better. I roasted the beets and used their greens instead of lettuce. I used goat cheese, because I love the combination of the tangy cheese and the sweet cherries. I used bing cherries (pitted and halved), basil, and honey-mustard-white balsamic vinaigrette. The addition of roasted pecans (or walnuts) adds more nutty flavors!

Beets, greens, bing cherries, goat cheese, and pecan salad

My oatmeal-whole wheat honey rolls are slightly sweet, but still perfectly balanced dinner rolls. The good thing is that they contain flaxseed meal and whole wheat flour, which makes them a perfect candidate for people who want to incorporate more whole grains in their diets.

Oatmeal-whole wheat honey rolls

For these Pecan Whole Wheat-Buttermilk loaves, I used buttermilk in the dough, as well as old-fashioned oats and whole wheat pastry flour. The pastry flour is my new favorite ingredient. It is a whole grain, but it doesn't make my baked goodies very tough. They stay moist and soft. We sliced the bread and ate it with goat cheese and apricot jam for breakfast. It is also good with feta cheese and honey.

Pecan Whole Wheat-Buttermilk bread
To make the hummus for this pizzettas, I roasted a whole garlic head for 1 hour. It becomes so buttery. Then I purred it with cannellini beans, red bell peppers, salt, pepper, and olive oil. The hummus is so creamy and garlicly. To make my cherry tomatoes sweeter, I also roasted them for 35 minutes. They were like candies, so delicious. The rest of the ingredients is: chicken, cheese, and kalamata olives.

Cannellini-pepper-garlic hummus, roasted cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, chicken, and olives

For a delicious breakfast, I used the same cannellini-pepper spread and topped it with fresh mozzarella and the same roasted cherry tomatoes. I like to warm it in my toaster oven until the cheese is melted! You can pair this savory treat with green tea mixed with lemon juice. It is divine!

Cannellini-pepper hummus bruschettas with fresh mozzarella cheese and roasted cherry tomatoes

Brunch time is probably our favorite time of the week. How colorful is our lunch. The carrot soup is nice and orange, the sushi rolls are multi-colored, and the mimosa is super vibrant. This brunch is light, but at the same time very satisfying and healthy.

Brunche time: carrot soup, shrimp-avocado-pepper sushi, ponzu, and mimosa!

This is my newest recipe for sushi rolls. They are filled with cooked shrimp, avocado slices, and red bell pepper for some crunch and color. When we dip them in my ponzu sauce, it is heaven!

Sushi with shrimps, avocado, and red bell pepper

I used to make cream of carrot soup and it was good. But this time, I added roasted garlic and it was much better. The flavor of roasted garlic is mellow and sweet, so it doesn't overpower the velvety soup.

Cream of carrot soup with roasted garlic

 I made a light ranch dressing by mixing buttermilk, greek yogurt, lemon juice, and Dijon mustard. It is very tasty when served on top of sweet butter lettuce and roasted beets.

Bibb lettuce, roasted beets, ranch dressing, and pecans
This recipe is so easy to make. I cooked some mushrooms and then added tomato-basil pasta sauce. At the end, I simmered few shrimps. I served it with my homemade fettucine. The "fra diavolo" part comes from the red pepper flakes. Delicious!

Shrimp Fra Diavolo with Mushrooms and Freshly Made Fettuccine
Brownies are good with coffee, but also with honey anglaise sauce. One of the keys to do a dramatic dessert is to use a variery of textures. Here moisture from the sauce, crunchiness from the pecans, and creaminess from the brownies.

Pecan Brownie with Honey Anglaise Sauce
This is one of my new favorite salads. It is a salad made with two type of fingerling potatoes: the yellow and the purple ones. Drizzle some ranch dressing, chop some red bell peppers, add some breadstick, and chop some kalamatas. And that's it. You have a great tasty first course.

Two-Tone Potato Salad : Greek style
For lunch, I prepared this creamy orzo salad. I pan seared pink Florida shrimps and mixed them with green beans, fingerling potatoes, kalamatas, and tomatoes. It is like a creamy Italian version of Shrimp Nicoise salad!

Creamy orzo salad with fingerling potatoes, green beans, and pan seared shrimps

If you like to eat carbs, as I do, then you will love this pizza. It has caramelized onions, purple potatoes, goat cheese, and shrimps. It is so sweet and interesting. I really enjoyed it, especially the tangy goat cheese, combined with the sweet onions!!!

Carb-lovers pizzas!
 Look how pretty are these purple potatoes! They make a very nice contrast to the pink shrimps. Amazing...

Caramelized onions, goat cheese, purple fingerlings, and pink shrimps
Here is one way to serve my fresh cherries cheesecake bars. With cherries sauce and pitted cherries! It is fresh, clean, and pretty!

Fresh Cherries Cheesecake bar
Hands down, these are my favorite scones. The flaky layers are filled with dried cranberries and dark chocolate chunks. On top, crunchy almonds and turbinado sugar. Sweet, buttery, soft, and authentic :)

Chocolate-cranberries scones with roasted almonds
This is my newest salsa invention: nectarine, avocado, and jalapeño. It is so luscious. Sometimes sockeye salmon can get a little expensive (depending on where you live and the season). But if you serve it with rice pilaf, you can really stretch the buck!

Pan-seared Alaskan sockeye salmon with Nectarine-Avocado Salsa and Sage Pilaf

This time of the year, our garden chives are blossoming. So, I served my cherry cheesecake with chive blossom. It is such a nice color and I have seen it used in many fancy restaurants.

Fresh Cherries Cheesecake bar served with chive blossom

When I have many ripe bananas, I always bake goodies with them. Here, I prepared banana-oatmeal-chocolate cookies. They are almost like cakes and one of them is enough to satisfy any sweet tooth!

Banana-Oatmeal-Chocolate Cookies
Salmon tacos are a delicious twist to the typical Baja Californian fish tacos. I pan-seared my salmon and then used some of my leftover nectarine-avocado salsa. Instead of crema, I use natural yogurt mixed with some lime and salt. The tortillas are homemade and super healthy. They have flaxseeds, which makes them every nuttier and prettier.

Salmon tacos with Nectarine-Avocado Salsa, Yogurt Crema, on Flaxseed House Tortillas

Another way to serve my cheesecake is to add chocolate bark. Cheesecake and chocolate are often paired in one cheesecake (such as German Chocolate Cheesecake or Double Chocolate Cheesecake). By serving the bark on the side, I wanted to recreate those flavors.

Cherry Cheesecake served with Cherry Sauce and Pecan-Dark Chocolate Bark
Refrigerator Strawberry Jam is a nice way to use seasonal strawberries. It is easy to make and it can be paired with toasts, pancakes, or yogurt. Serve it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It is so versatile and healthy!

Refrigerator Strawberry Jam
Look how beautiful is my cheesecake. The patterns I made with the cherry sauce are pretty and original. After baking, I cut 12 squares and enjoy it!

Fresh Cherries Cheesecake is ready to bake
When my husband goes to work, I send him every day homemade lunch. This is my pasta with ground pork, roasted eggplant, cheese, and pine nuts. It is so mediterranean and so satisfying. Try it for your next work lunch and let me know what you think!

Pasta with Ground pork, Roasted Eggplant, Cheese, Pine Nuts for lunch at work


  1. Leading Cooking At Home expert Rebecca Bent has shared new recipes on her website to help everyone make family meal as easy and delicious.