Monday, July 30, 2012

Food for thought

My main mission is to create delicious food every day. Our meals are so good that they nourish not only our bodies, but also our souls. Get into the kitchen and start cooking!

I bake very often these cranberries-chocolate-almond scones. They are very buttery, flaky, and not-too-sweet. I like to eat them in the afternoon with a cup of tea, but my husband eats them with a glass of cold milk or cold frappuccino. Either way, this a healthy way to spend the time between lunch and dinner.

Cranberries-chocolate-almond scones with cold frappuccino

I like to make different salads to avoid boredom. Here, I mixed fingerling potatoes, broccoli, and kalamatas. Serve the salad with whole-wheat breadsticks and you have a complete mini-meal. Eating salad before your main dish helps you stop feeling hungry.

Broccoli-fingerling potatoes salad with kalamatas and breadsticks
Inspired by the traditional Greek chicken souvlaki, I came up with this Souvlaki Pizza. It has a mixture of sauteed onions and red bell peppers, roasted chicken, and tomato slices. To top it, I prepare yogurt-lemon sauce. It keeps the pizza moist and also provides extra protein from the Greek yogurt.

Chicken Souvlaki Pizza topped with yogurt-lemon sauce

A great dessert can be a healthy dessert: light and delicate profiterol is filled with chocolate sorbet and topped with fresh strawberries jam. The pairing of dark chocolate and strawberries is one of my favorites. 

Profiterol filled with chocolate sorbet and refrigerator jam

Since I made a lot of strawberries refrigerator jam, on the next morning, I prepared whole wheat banana waffles and topped them with the jam! I have to tell you, bananas and strawberries are great together.

Banana waffles topped with Strawberry Jam and banana slices

For simple and delicious lunch, I prepared this easy salad: pasta shells mixed with roasted eggplants, zucchini, summer squash, and red bell peppers. The feta cheese biscuits are salty and buttery. Soooo good.

Pasta shells salad with roasted antipasto veggies and feta cheese biscuit
Here is an update of my potato and broccoli salad. I added some roasted red bell peppers for sweetness. In addition, the peppers are full with Vitamin C and other important vitamins. 

Broccoli-fingerling potatoes salad with roasted red bell peppers

Everybody knows what is a ratatouille! It is a French meal, made of zucchini, eggplant, peppers, and other summer vegetables. I created this pizza, using the same vegetables and I called it "pizza-touille". It is so simple: start with goat cheese and add your favorite vegetables on top!

Pizza-touille (from "ratatouille") with goat cheese spread

This is the best way to serve my mini cheesecake bars. I use some ground pecans to position the chocolate sorbet. I put some of the cherry sauce on the side, just in case the bars need somemore. Chocolate and cherries is a combination similar to the popular chocolate and strawberries one. Try it, you will like it, I am sure.

The best way to serve my cherry cheesecake bars

I cooked some broccoli florets and then I used the stalks to make a delicious cream soup. It is so far my favorite cream soup! It is better than the asparagus one, better than the carrot one. Delicious. So velvety, so tasty. I served it with my feta biscuits :)

My new favorite soup: broccoli cream soup with goat cheese!

I put kidney beans and bottled roasted peppers in my mini-chopper. The result is a creamy spread, which is delicious on pizza, on toasts, or as a party dip. It is very nutritious and pairs well with chicken, kalamatas, and cheese!

Kidney beans-roasted garlic spread pizza with chicken and kalamatas!

Ok, we have been eating zucchini and summer squash all summer long. But these are delicious! I serve them with goat cheese and pine nuts. The biscuit is optional, but it also adds more cheese, since it is stuffed with feta. Cheese is great for our bones and general health!

Antipasto salad with pine nuts and seasoned goat cheese
I made this dish for a dinner party with friends and they really liked it. I filled the chicken breast with spinach, feta cheese, and sun-dried tomatoes. Then, I served it over basmati rice and decorated the plate with broccoli puree. It is a light meal, which is great, since everybody wants to save room for dessert.

Chicken breast stuffed with spinach, feta cheese, and sun-dried tomatoes
For a weekend brunch, I like to prepare easy dishes, full of flavor. Here is a healthy pasta: it is mixed with eggplant-sausage tomato sauce and topped with goat cheese. We eat goat cheese all the day, but it is so tangy and creamy, we can not get enough of it!

Pasta with Eggplant-Sausage Sauce and Goat Cheese

When I have people over, I like to make the table extra-special. For instance, colored wine glasses are very pretty and fancy. Also, ironed napkins are a great touch!!! 

Dinner party. Simple table, big flavors

The dinner menu was written on my board. It was simple: antipasto platter, chicken stuffed with spinach, cherry cheesecake, and choco sorbet. It prepare guests with what is coming and open their appetite for delicious food!

The menu for our dinner with friends
Lately, I like to serve a whole bread instead of individual dinner rolls. Here, I used a pecan bread. It was a hit. The good thing you can serve it at the beginning of the dinner and it can be enjoyed with the antipasto plate, as well as with the main dish.

Pecan bread is a nice addition to the table!
This time my center piece is a big fruit plate. It is just decorative, but it looks so colorful and adds more life to the table. You can also try with a variety of vegetables!

The center piece is a bowl with fresh fruits!
I baked this sweet challah bread for our morning sandwiches. It is super universal, it goes with sweet and savory toppings. We don't toast it, because it is like a pillow. So sweet and velvety...

Sweet challah bread is the best for morning sandwiches
This classic salad is delicious! Slices of sweet, ripe melon, topped with peppery arugula salad, soft prosciutto di Parma, and crunchy pine nuts. I love it. It is so summery and refreshing :) 

Classic melon and Prosciutto di Parma salad with arugula and pine nuts
I made shrimp fra diavolo and served it over our homemade pasta. The sauce is a little bit spicy, so I added a piece of sweet challah bread to balance the flavors. Any seafood would work here, but make sure you cook it on a low heat, so it remains soft. Otherwise, it will be overcooked and rubbery.

Shrimp Fra Diavolo with homemade pasta and challah bread
Polenta and shrimps is inspired from the classic shrimps and grits meal, which is so popular in the South. I like it served with feta cheese, to add a little bit to the salty side.

Polenta with feta cheese and shrimps a la Provencal
This is one of my favorite weekday lunch: farfalle salad with tuna and all the Nicoise ingredients (green beans, tomatoes, olives). I make myself a nice green tea and warm a small challah roll to soak up the delicious dressing.

Farfalle Tuna Nicoise Salad with Challah Roll

I made these Challah Rolls for a Burger Party. They are fabulous. A little crunchy on the outside, because of the poppy seeds and sesame seeds. The size is just perfect, for four-five happy bites!

Challah Rolls for Burgers
The challah burger buns are pretty and on the sweet side. They are great with any filling or just by themselves.
Challah Rolls are topped with sesame and poppy seeds
Jicama, avocado, and oranges salad is a new one in my kitchen. It is very well flavored, because of the balsamic vinaigrette. The essential ingredient is the feta cheese on top. If you can find Bulgarian feta, use it. It is creamier and in my opinion, the best cheese on this planet!

Jicama, Avocado, and Orange Salad
I made pesto with our garden basil. Then topped it with artichokes, cheese, prosciutto, and arugula salad. The saltiness of the prosciutto goes very well with the acidity of the artichokes. Yummyyyy.

House Pesto, Artichokes, Prosciutto, and Arugula Pizza
I invented this banana bread. The recipe will be published in my book. Basically, it is a mixture of flaxseeds, mashed bananas, hazelnuts, and chocolate chips. The best one ever.

Flaxseed Banana Bread with Hazelnuts
I used to do this tart with almonds in the past, but I imagined it would be also delicious with hazelnuts. And it is! Perfect, fudgy, and not too sweet.

Hazelnut Upside-Down Chocolate Tart

I used a removable bottom tart pan and the edges came in a pretty pattern. Lovely and easy. Also, it is great for a party. Just slice it in very thin slices, because it is dense and a little bit goes a long way.

Hazelnut Fudgy Chocolate Upside Down Cake

To serve the chocolate tart, I prepared strawberry sauce from fresh strawberries. It is a nice color and a very tasty addition.
Chocolate tart on top of fresh strawberry sauce

 A restaurant quality dessert needs to be platted like the professionals do it :)

Chocolate Tart over Fresh Strawberry Sauce (a better plating)

I made some avocado-yogurt spread and served it with gravlax, capers, and tomatoes. A great savory breakfast, full with protein.

Avocado-Yogurt Spread, Gravlax, Caper, and Tomatoes
Burger night is fantastic idea for a dinner party. Easy to prepare and something everybody likes. Comfort food, but with an elegant twist. 

Casual Dinner Menu
Even for burger nights, I make an effort to dress up the table. This is my gourmet touch when it is time for dinner :)

The table is dressed even for burger nights
Ground chicken is stuffed with sun-dried tomatoes and feta cheese. Then it is paired with avocado-yogurt spread, caramelized onions and a nice ciabatta roll. To round out the meal, I added roasted brussel sprouts. Delicious: one of my favorite burgers!

Chicken-feta-sun dried tomato chicken burger, avocado spread, caramelized onions and brussels

Red cabbage and brussel sprouts are not usually mixed together, but here I am inventing a new salad. I topped it with pine nuts, dried cranberries, and feta cheese. It is crunchy and very nice. 

Red Cabbage, Roasted Brussel Sprouts, Cranberries, Pine Nuts, and Feta Salad

I think this is the best sushi roll I have ever made. It has roasted red bell peppers inside. They give the salmon a little sweetness and they help to balance the flavors of the salty soy sauce. The cream cheese is nutty, so I added crunchy salmon skins to give it some extra texture.

Roasted Red Bell Pepper, Gravlax, Cream Cheese Rolls. The best!
I made a delicious pesto with pine nuts. I topped a homemade pizza dough with it. Then I added slow roasted tomatoes, shrimps with herbs de Provence, and drizzled some extra virgin olive oil. So good, you can eat it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!

Pesto, Shrimps Provencal, Slow Tomatoes, and Cheese Pizza

For a healthy, full of protein lunch, I made Quinoa Shrimp Nicoise Salad. Instead of the traditional green beans, I used sugar snap peas. They are sweet and delicious. An oatmeal roll is a nice addition to my multi-grain lunch! 

Quinoa, Sugar Snap Peas, Shrimp Greek Salad with Oatmeal Roll

This is the best cherry yogurt cake I have ever made. I used fresh cherries, which are in season now. The fruits and the yogurt keep the cake moist. I slice it and drizzle it with a little honey. It is the best afternoon snack and a healthy alternative to any store-brought pound cake.

Cherry Yogurt Cake

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