Chocolate Chip Cherry Muffins

One of my favorite things to do while I was living in New York City was to go out for brunch on the weekends. Brunch in NYC can be quite the affair. Crowds line up outside of their favorite neighborhood spots and are willing to wait for hours as long as they get to have their go-to eggs benedict or banana pancakes. We lived on the upper east side and we spent many Saturdays and Sundays at Sarabeth's sipping on mimosas and enjoying baskets of their famed muffins and homemade jams...Ah, how I miss those brunches!

I had some bing cherries that I needed to use and some leftover chocolate chips from my Toffee and Chocolate Chip Cookies so I thought what better way than to make chocolate chip cherry muffins for the weekend. Now I don't know if I would say that these are as good as Sarabeth's, but I bet that it had something to do with the company (my old roomies) and the NYC hustle and bustle of the city that made Sarabeth's muffins seem so tasty at the time. So neither of us might be having a New York City brunch this weekend, but make these muffins and have some eggs benedict and I assure you that you will be so very happy that you did.

 You Will Need:
  • 1/3 cup cane sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup diced bing cherries, de-stemmed and pit removed
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Here We Go:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • In a small bowl, combine the flour, cane sugar, baking powder and salt
  • In another bowl, whisk the egg, milk, oil and extract
  • Pour wet mixture into dry ingredients just until moistened
  • Gently fold in cherries and chocolate chips
  • Fill paper-lined muffin cups or greased muffin pan half-way full
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean

Makes 9 Muffins
Happy Feasting!


Moroccan Lamb Burgers with Mint-Yogurt Sauce

After five years of apartment living, and no grill, we are about to be the proud owners of a new Weber! I will say that I have become quite the grill pan master since we have been forced to make do, but there is something to be said about that unique grill flavor that chicken, fish and burgers all have after they have been cooked on a grill. These moroccan lamb burgers were done on our grill pan and they are so packed with flavor that I don't think you would be able to tell that they were cooked in our kitchen. I can't wait to make these burgers again when we can actually use our new grill!

Source: Food & Wine

You Will Need:
  • 1 cup plain whole milk yogurt
  • 1/4 cup chopped mint leaves
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 Tbsp dried currants
  • 2 Tbsp pine nuts
  • 2 Tbsp coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 3/4 pounds ground lamb
  • Vegetable oil, for the grill
  • 4 hamburger buns or kaiser rolls, split

Here We Go:
  • In a small bowl, mix the yogurt with the mint, garlic and 1 Tbsp of the lemon juice
  • Season the yogurt sauce with salt and pepper and refrigerate until ready to serve
  • In a mini food processor, combine the dried currants, pine nuts, chopped parsley, lemon zest, cumin, coriander and cinnamon with the remaining 1 tsp of lemon juice and 1 tsp of salt
  • Process the ingredients until a coarse paste forms
  • Scrape the currant–pine nut paste into a large bowl and add the ground lamb
  • Using your hands, gently mix the ground meat thoroughly with the seasonings and pat into 4 plump burgers
  • Set the burgers on a plate, cover them with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes
  • Light a grill or heat up a grill pan if you do not have a grill
  • Lightly brush the grate with oil
  • Grill the burgers over a medium-hot fire for 6 minutes per side for medium rare or a little longer for medium
  • Grill the buns, cut side down, until toasted
  • Set the burgers on the buns and serve with the mint-yogurt sauce

Makes 4 Burgers
Happy Feasting!


Shredded Chicken Tacos with Tomatoes and Grilled Corn

In August's issue of Cooking Light they did a section of easy five ingredient entrees for summer. Their tag line read " These easy five- ingredient entrees mean you can spend more time chilling, less time shopping and chopping." They were exactly right! I bought a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken and this weeknight meal took less than thirty minutes from start to finish. The fresh avocado paired with the smokey corn and tomato salsa made this a very satisfying dish. If you want to spice things up a bit feel free to add salsa or Tabasco for more heat.

Source: Cooking Light August 2011

You Will Need:
  • 2 ears shucked corn
  • 1 (12 oz) package baby heirloom tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 8 (6 inch) corn tortillas
  • 2 cups shredded chicken, boneless rotisserie chicken breast
  • 1 peeled avocado, cut into 16 slices
  • 8 lime wedges (optional)

Here We Go:
  • Preheat broiler
  • Place corn on a baking sheet and broil for 18 minutes or until charred on all sides, rotating every 6 minutes
  • Cut kernels from corn
  • Place kernels in a medium bowl
  • Cut tomatoes into quarters
  • Add tomatoes to corn and sprinkle corn mixture with black pepper and salt
  • Heat tortillas according to package directions
  • Divide chicken evenly among tortillas and top each taco with 1/4 cup corn mixture and 2 avocado slices
  • Serve with lime wedges, if desired

Makes 4 tacos
Happy Feasting!


Toffee and Chocolate Chip Cookies

Last night we had our neighborhood summer picnic. Being that we are new to the neighborhood, we thought that it would be a good idea to go and meet some of our neighbors. It ended up being great fun, despite the miserable heat, and we got the chance to meet a lot of people. Everyone was asked to bring a dish and I thought that cookies might be a good thing to make since whatever I made would be sitting out in the ninety degree weather all evening. These cookies were quite the hit if I might say! Kids and adults seemed to gobble them up. This recipe will make about 45 cookies and when we left the party I would say that there were about 5 still on the plate. So if you like english toffee and chocolate chips then you are sure to love these cookies!

Source: Love and Olive Oil

You Will Need:
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups english toffee (I used Heath bar candy bits)

Here We Go:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  • In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt and whisk to combine and set aside
  • In another large bowl, cream the butter and the sugars until smooth, about 3 minutes and add the egg and mix well
  • Add the vanilla extract and the flour mixture and beat thoroughly
  • Stir in the toffee and chocolate chips
  • Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets, leaving several inches between for expansion
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned
  • Cool the cookies on the sheets for 1 minute, then transfer to a rack to cool completely
Makes roughly 42 cookies
Happy Feasting!


Happy Hour Friday: Classic White Wine Spritzer

With temperatures rising all over the country, everybody is trying their best to stay cool in this unbearable heat. Another great way to still enjoy your white wine during the summer is with a white wine spritzer. I made this one for my happy hour cocktail and added some frozen fruit. I used strawberry, mago and pineapple and it gave the spritzer a nice subtle fruity flavor while the frozen fruit acts as ice cubes to keep your spritzer cooler longer!

You Will Need:
  • 1/2 cup club soda
  • 1/2 cup white wine (I used sauvignon blanc)
  • 2 or 3 pieces of frozen fruit

Here We Go:
  • Mix all ingredients together and enjoy

Serves 1
Happy Feasting!


Simple Greek Salad

I think that Europe has some of the best salads that I have ever eaten. They are so simple and fresh, using mostly basic ingredients, yet the flavors are always so divine. We are so used to thick and creamy fat-filled salad dressings in the United Sates whereas the Europeans are miles ahead of us using lemon juice, olive oil and balsamic as their main source of salad toppings. I made this simple greek salad using olive oil and lemon juice as the dressing and it was so tasty. We had this with rigatoni and sun dried tomato pesto (recipe to come) and it was the perfect summer dish!

You Will Need:
  • 2 cups hot house cucumbers, quartered
  • 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • juice from half of a lemon
  • 4 scallions, diced (white and light green parts only)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Here We Go:
  • Mix all above ingredients together and chill before serving

Serves 2 as a side
Happy Feasting!


Salmon with Strawberry Salsa

It feels great to be back in the kitchen! Having eaten out for pretty much three weeks straight, eating at home has been that much better. I wanted to make some good ole' salmon to get us back on track and when I came across this recipe I thought that it was screaming summer and I was definitely intrigued by the flavor combination - strawberry, scallion and tomato? As the other bloggers have also said, I wasn't too sure how all of these flavors would come together but it was quite the pleasant surprise. In fact, it was absolutely delicious and such a quick and easy weeknight meal idea.

Source: In Good Taste (Originally adapted from Annie's Eats via Good Things Catered)

You Will Need:

For the Salsa
  • 1 cup strawberries, rinsed, hulled, and finely diced
  • 1/2 cup grape tomatoes, finely diced
  • 2 scallions, white and light green portions, sliced thin
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

For the Fish
  • 2 salmon filets
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
  • Butter and olive oil

Here We Go:
  • Combine all of the salsa ingredients in a bowl, and refrigerate until ready to serve
  • Squeeze some fresh lemon juice over the salmon, and sprinkle with salt and pepper
  • Heat a good pat of butter and a drizzle of olive oil in a saute pan
  • Add the salmon, and cook until it flakes easily with a fork, about four minutes per side
  • Serve the salmon topped with the salsa

Serves 2
Happy Feasting!


And We're Back...

After an amazing three week European adventure, my husband and I are back stateside with a few extra pounds and a little jet lag. We had such an amazing trip as we ate and drank our way through Spain, Italy, France and Germany. I knew that all of you would be dying to see what we feasted on while abroad so I did my best to remember to take a few pictures before we dove into our food (it didn't always happen but I tried my hardest). From local markets in each city to amazing pizza, pasta and croque madames - we tried it all! So until I get back into the kitchen this week, I wanted to leave you with some food images that are sure to make your mouth water...happy feasting!

Proscuitto and Melon


From left to right: Blue cheese with walnuts, Ricotta with chives, Pecorino with pears and honey
Mussels in white wine and butter sauce

30 Minute Cheese Plate (You are to eat it clockwise in 30 minutes)

Spaghetti Bolognese
Rotini with fresh basil pesto and cherry tomatoes
Ravioli with eggplant mousse
Pizza with mozzarella, pecorino, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes
Spaghetti with garlic, olive oil, fresh basil and cherry tomatoes
Croque madame
Curried gnocchi
Fresh croissants for breakfast
Fresh soft pretzels in Germany
French Onion Soup
Fresh "Sausage" pizza
We thought we were getting sausage pizza and it was hot dogs!

Mercado San Miguel