Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Garlic & Mushroom Bruschetta

If you are a mushroom lover like me, this is going to be your new favorite appetizer. So I have a secret, I really just can't stand tomatoes. No matter how much I try to like them (I mean, I really want to like them) I just don't. With that, I clearly am not a fan of traditional bruschetta. So, I've decided to put my own spin on it. This is a simple appetizer that is packed with flavor if you pick the right mushrooms.

Recipe yields 4 servings (as an appetizer)

1 loaf olive oil ciabatta
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
oz. baby bella mushrooms
4 cloves garlic

Rinse off your mushrooms and slice them.

Mince the garlic.

Heat a skillet with the butter and oil. Add in the mushrooms and cook on medium heat for 5-6 minutes as they begin to reduce.

Throw in the garlic and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. You want the mushrooms to be soft and the garlic to be fragrant.

While your mushrooms are finishing up, slice open the ciabatta and butter each side. Place the bread under the broiler for 4-5 minutes, just until it is golden and crisp. Be sure to keep an eye on the bread so it does not burn under the broiler.

Slice the bread and top with the mushroom bruschetta. It is ideal to serve these fresh and warm, so you don't want to assemble until you are ready to eat. If the mushrooms sit on top of the bread too long, their juices seap in and turn the bread soggy, so it loses all its toastiness.  

Monday, August 26, 2013

Chickpea & Cucumber Salad

I love going to BBQ's in the summer. There is no better treat than a BBQ hot dog right off the grill. However, it can be difficult to eat healthy with all the mayonnaise based salads laying around. This side salad is perfect for a BBQ and filled with healthy vegetables and chickpeas. Next time you are invited to a BBQ, bring over a bowl of this salad and it is sure to turn some heads with its cool and refreshing flavors.

Recipe yields 5-6 servings

1 can chickpeas
3 tbsp olive oil
1 small tomato
1 small red onion
1 cucumber
2 celery stalks
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp fresh dill
1 1/2 tsp red wine vinegar
1/2 lemon
1/2 lime
1 tbsp fresh parsley

In a small skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the chickpeas, cut the heat and cover. Cook for 5 minutes. 

In the meantime, chop the onion, tomato, cucumber, celery and garlic. Add to a serving bowl. Top with the fresh dill, red wine vinegar and the juices from half a lemon and half a lime. Mix.

Add the chickpeas and mix to combine all ingredients. Top with fresh parsley. Serve and enjoy!

(Sorry for the lack of photos, this dish is so simple and comes together so quickly, I forgot to pick up the camera and snap any photos!)

Friday, August 23, 2013

Crispy Coconut Shrimp

Shrimp is such a light protein for the summer months. It is so versatile and cooks up in no time. Adding this crunchy layer of coconut breading to the outside gives it that extra-summery feel. I served mine alongside some pasta with fresh veggies. Quick and easy. You could also serve alongside a sweet and tangy dipping sauce for an appetizer.

Recipe yields 4 servings

1 lb large shrimp, cleaned
1 large egg
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 425F degrees. Prepare the breading station. Mix together the Panko and coconut in one bowl. Put the flour in a second bowl and the egg in a third.

For each shrimp, first coat in flour. Dunk into the egg and cover in the bread crumb mixture. Arrange on a well greased baking sheet.

Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Flip and cook for an additional 6 minutes. Remove to a serving dish. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Apple Nachos

The first day of school is right around the corner and quick, healthy snacks are an afternoon essential. I might not be in school anymore, but I still like the idea of a healthy afternoon snack. These apple nachos are a sweet, but smart, treat and come together in under 5 minutes. I chose to use two different types of apples to add some more flavors. Feel free to switch up the toppings to your liking. I am sure these would be great with some dried berries or butterscotch chips.

Recipe yields 2-3 servings

2 apples (I used 1 Gala and 1 Golden Delicious)
3 tbsp creamy organic peanut butter
2 tbsp shredded coconut
2 tbsp sliced almonds
2 tbsp chopped pecans
2 tbsp semi-sweet chocolate chips

Core and slice the apples. Arrange on a plate and drizzle with peanut butter. Sprinkle with toppings. Enjoy!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Baked Zucchini Rounds

I love simple baked eggplant rounds sprinkled with a little grated Parmesan cheese or dipped in tomato sauce. With that in mind, and plenty of zucchini flowing from my crop share, I decided to slice up the zucchini and prep it like I would an eggplant. These are similar to fried zucchini sticks but have two key differences. First, they are much healthier since we are going to bake them and not fry them. Secondly, it is much easier to cut these rounds than it is to slice the zucchini into sticks. A healthy and easy treat, let's get started!

Recipe yields 3-4 servings (as an appetizer)

1 large zucchini
1 large egg
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 400F degrees. Peel and slice the zucchini into 1/4" slices. Prepare your breading station with the usuals - egg and water in one bowl for your egg wash, flour in a second bowl and bread crumbs in the third bowl.

For each piece, first coat in flour, then dip into the egg wash and finally cover in the bread crumbs. Coat a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray and arrange the prepared zucchini rounds.

Place the tray in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Flip each piece and bake for an additional 8 minutes. You want the zucchini to be golden brown and crispy on the edges. Remove to a serving dish alongside tomato sauce for dipping.

Serve as an appetizer or alongside a bowl of pasta. Enjoy!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Swiss Chard & Onion Frittata

Frittatas are a great way to slip vegetables into a delicious breakfast. Unlike an omelet, a frittata has all the fix-ins mixed in with the eggs, instead of folded in like an omelet. Also, frittatas are great to eat at room temperature, which makes them perfect for brunch with the girls.

Recipe yields 6 servings

2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion
1 large bunch Swiss chard
8 large eggs
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Salt & ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 400F degrees. Slice the onions.

Roughly chop the Swiss chard. Rinse it off and dry it.

To a large skillet, melt your butter and add your sliced onions. Cook on medium-low heat so the onions caramelize and really get a nice flavor without burning.

Add the Swiss chard on top of the onions and stir until they wilt down to about half the original size.

In a mixing bowl, combine your eggs, cheese and some salt and pepper. Whisk it all together.

Pour the egg mixture right over your vegetables. Cook for 5-6 minuntes on medium heat until the edges have set but the top is still a bit runny.

Place the pan right into the oven (make sure your using an oven safe pan!) and cook for an additional 5 minutes to set the top. You will see it really puffs up nice when you pull it from the oven.

Slice the fritatta and serve with some toasty bread. A great way to start the morning with some healthy greens. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Simple Cucumber Salad

Cucumbers are in an abundance this summer and I have been getting them week after week from my crop share. This simple salad is a great way to prepare the cucumbers for an easy summer snack. It is cool and refreshing and the perfect healthy snack. 

Recipe yields 4 servings

2 large cucumbers
1 lemon
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp chili powder

Peel and slice both cucumbers into 1/4" slices. Place in a bowl.

Coat the cucumbers in juice from one lemon. Add the olive oil and stir to coat all cucumbers. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and chili powder.

Cover and refrigerate for up to 4 days. Enjoy as a healthy snack!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Tuna & Pea Macaroni Salad

In my family, no BBQ is complete without this Tuna & Pea Mac Salad. My Nanny has been making this for years and I have become addicted to it. It is always the first thing to go at any party, so that must mean something, right?

Recipe yields 10-12 servings

1 lb elbow pasta
2 5 oz. cans albacore tuna in water
1 8.5 oz. can sweet peas
1/4 cup mayonnaise
Ground black pepper

 Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and run the pasta under cold water to cool temperature.

In a bowl, add drained tuna and mayonnaise. Using a fork, combine the ingredients and break up the chunks of tuna fish.

Add pasta to a large bowl and top with the tuna fish mixture. Using your hands, combine the ingredients so the tuna fish is evenly distributed. This is your chance to get a little dirty. Top of with the peas and combine. Make sure you drain the peas of their juices first.

Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving. Keep the pasta salad in the refrigerator until you are ready to eat. Serve and enjoy! Store any leftovers in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Monday, August 12, 2013

An Inside View: Olive Oils

Up today on 'An Inside View' is Olive Oils in Point Lookout, NY. Olive Oils is the neighborhood Italian restaurant serving up traditional Italian flavors with a fresh perspective. With its outdoor seating, it is a great spot during the summer months. Inside, the location is split into the dining room for the restaurant and a pizza bar. The pizza has a perfectly crispy crust and comes with a variety of toppings.

Whenever you go to Olive Oils, they always start you off right. A basket filled with warm, seasoned bread and a plate of their secret seasoning mix for dipping. The seasoning is a combination of grated Parmesan cheese, Italian seasonings and crushed red pepper. Mix it all together with some high quality olive oil for a delicious treat.

Next up, we ordered some appetizers to share. The baked clams oreganata and the homemade rice balls with marinara sauce.

Look at that cheesy filling. These rice balls are made fresh and filled with ground beef, peas and mozzarella cheese. If you know whats good for you, you will give them a try. (Trust me!)

For my main, I ordered the Captain Al's Calamari Fra Diavolo served over whole wheat penne. The sauce was spicy and flavorful and the calamari was fresh.

We also had the Chicken Saporito - sauteed chicken breast with artichokes and sundried tomatoes in a garlic and white wine sauce with roasted potatoes. This dish is packed with flavor and ingredients that complement each other.

To round it out, the Salmon Portofino - pan seared salmon over sauteed spinach with roasted peppers and potatoes in a lemon white wine sauce. The salmon was fresh and cooked to perfection.

After a delicious and filling meal, I finished off with a scoop of chocolate gelato. 

Overall, Olive Oils is a neighborhood staple for good reason. They continue to serve up fresh and high quality dishes. Whether you live in the area or are visiting the beach during the summer, put Olive Oils on your list. You will be happy you did!

Olive Oils - 28 Lido Boulevard, Point Lookout, NY - (516) 432-0000