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Pico de Gallo & Bean Tostadas (Vegan)

In Appetizers / Starters, Fun Foods, Holidays, Vegetables On May 1, 2017 0 Comments

Thinking of a quick, no-brainer recipe for Cinco de Mayo? Make these organic & delicious vegan tostadas. You’ll probably have to double or triple the recipe because these starters will vanish in no time!

Be sure to use Amy’s Vegetarian Organic Refried Beans®. This bean product contains meat or animal fat products. Anything you make with these beans will taste wholesome and natural.

Prep time: 15 to 20 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients:
4 medium vine-ripened tomatoes, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces (with pulp discarded)
1/2 cup finely-chopped red onion
1 teaspoon finely-chopped Serrano chile pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt (you may add more, to taste)
1/2 cup finely-chopped fresh cilantro leaves
One 15.4-ounce can Amy’s Vegetarian Organic Refried Beans®
12 blue or yellow corn, flat tostada shells
Avocado slices (from 1 avocado), optional
1/2 cup grated, dry cheese (Cotija, Parmigiano Reggiano or other variety)

Make Pico de Gallo Salsa:
1. In a 1 to 2-quart mixing bowl, combine the chopped tomatoes, onion, Serrano chile pepper, salt and cilantro leaves. Taste and adjust chile pepper & salt levels.

2. Set Pico de Gallo aside, covered.

Warm Up The Refried Beans:
1. Meanwhile, transfer the refried beans to a small saucepot.

2. On medium-high setting, warm up the beans, stirring constantly.

3. As beans warm up, if consistency is too thick or dry, add a little water.

Assemble Tostadas:
1. When beans are hot, spread about 2 tablespoons on each tostada set on a serving platter.

2. Top the beans with 2 tablespoons Pico de Gallo Salsa.

3. If desired add 1 or 2 thin slices avocado, followed by a sprinkle of grated cheese.

4. Serve with Margaritas or Tequila shots – Happy Cinco de Mayo!
Text & Photograph ©2017 Nancy DeLucia Real

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Green Omelet

In Eggs Selections, Holidays On April 7, 2017 0 Comments

The word “green” has a healthy connotation these days. If we’re eating “green”, then it can be assumed that your intake of foods consists mostly of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Here’s a recipe for a green omelet. The eggs turn green when you add finely-chopped spinach or chard. Add parsley, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and serve the omelet at your Easter Brunch! Happy Easter!

Prep time: 30 minutes
Serves:4 to 6

Ingredients:
1 cup fresh mint leaves, loosely-packed
3 cups spinach leaves (you can combine fresh chard & spinach leaves), loosely-packed
3/4 cup Italian parsley leaves, loosely-packed
10 to 12 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt
dash ground black pepper
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1/4 cup olive oil

Directions:
1. In a salad spinner, combine the mint, spinach (and/or chard) and parsley leaves.

2. Wash, drain and spin dry the leaves – finely chop all leaves.

3. After leaves are finely-chopped, set them aside in a 3-quart mixing bowl.

4. In another 3 to 4-quart mixing bowl, combine the eggs, salt, black pepper and grated cheese.

5. Using a fork or a wire whisk, beat the egg mixture.

6. When egg mixture is uniform, stir in the chopped leaves to combine.

7. Heat oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet; when oil is hot but does not smoke, pour the egg and leaf mixture into skillet.

8. On high setting, check that the edges of the omelet begin to curdle; immediately set heat on medium-low and cover the skillet.

9. Every so often, using a spatula, lift sides of omelet and title skillet so that the raw egg escapes to bottom of skillet.

10. Cover the omelet and cook for about 5 to 7 minutes.

11. When omelet top has set, using the spatula, cut it into fourths.

12. Gently flip each omelet fourth over and cook on low heat for about 4 to 5 minutes.

13. Check underside of omelet. If it looks golden-green, the omelet is ready to be served.

14. Transfer omelet to a serving platter. Cut omelet to yield 10 to 12 pieces. Serve as part of a breakfast menu or at lunch with a green salad.

Text and Photograph ©2017 Nancy DeLucia Real

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New Year’s Pie & Show “Waitress”

In Holidays, Pies & Sweet Tarts On December 28, 2016 0 Comments

Here’s a delicious and fun way to end 2016 and celebrate New Year 2017 – catch the show, Waitress, now on Broadway. And since the show is all about pies, no doubt you’ll be cravin’ pie afterwards.
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Simply make your own apple pie in advance. After the show, just hang out with your friends and enjoy pie with the bubbly! Check out this easy apple pie recipe with pre-made crust from Trader Joe’s®.

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Prep time: 30 minutes (cutting apples & assembling the pie)
Bake time: 35 to 45 minutes
Makes: One 9-inch pie

Ingredients:
6 large apples (Granny Smith, Pippin or a mixed variety)
1/4 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar (use unbleached or bleached sugar)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
2 Trader Joe’s® Gourmet Pie Crusts (follow thawing instructions, per package)
One 9-inch pie plate (discardable aluminum, porcelain or glass)
3 to 4 one-inch wide aluminum foil strips (for pie edges & to prevent burning)

Prepare the Apples:
1. Preheat oven to 425°F.

2. Peel and cut apples into fourths; remove cores and discard.

3. Thinly slice the apples and set them aside in a large mixing bowl.

4. In a small mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon and allspice.

5. Gently stir the dry flour-sugar-spice ingredients into the apples until uniform; set aside.

Assemble the Pie:
1. Gently unfold the thawed pie pastry (crusts).

2. Remove the top plastic wrap of one pastry.

3. Place inverted pie plate onto pastry.

4. With one hand underneath the bottom plastic wrap and the other on inverted plate, quickly flip the plate over on a work surface.

5. Remove the plastic wrap and discard.

6. Using a fork, poke random holes in bottom pie pastry in plate.

7. Using a large serving spoon, transfer the apples (in a mound – do not pack them down) onto the pie pastry in plate. Set aside.

8. Repeat removal of plastic wrap of second pie pastry. With one hand underneath plastic wrap and the other over pastry, quickly flip it over and onto the apple filling in plate.

9. The pastry should hang over plate edges by 3/4 to 1 inch. If it is longer than this, using a knife, gently trim it.

10. Using fingers, turn edges of pastry underneath and crimp the edges all around pie plate. To crimp edges, gently press pastry in between fingertips to seal the pie.

11. Cover pastry edges with aluminum foil strips.

12. Place pie on a rack positioned in center of oven and bake as follows:
Aluminum plate – 45 minutes
Glass or porcelain plate – 35 to 40 minutes (glass and porcelain cook faster, as they retain more heat).

13. During last 5 minutes of baking, remove aluminum foil strips so that edges can turn light golden brown.

Tip: To check doneness of pie, insert a pointed knife in center. If it goes through apples easily, it means they are tender and cooked. If not, bake for an additional 5 to 6 minutes.
Text and Pie on Blue Background Photograph ©2016 Nancy DeLucia Real

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Stuffed Mushrooms

In Appetizers / Starters, Holidays, Vegetables On December 8, 2016 0 Comments

Need a great starter to go with the bubbly at Christmastime? Assemble these stuffed mushrooms a few hours ahead and refrigerate them. At serving time, preheat the oven and bake them. Made with all-vegetarian ingredients, the mushrooms will be devoured in no time. Enjoy and Merry Christmas!

Prep time (stuffing): 15 minutes
Bake time: 15 to 17 minutes
Makes 12 to 14 stuffed mushrooms

Ingredients:
One 8-ounce package white mushrooms, rinsed and patted dry with paper towels
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup finely-chopped brown or white onion
3 to 4 slices day-old Italian bread
1 large egg, beaten
3 tablespoons grated Pecorino-Romano cheese
2 to 3 tablespoons minced, fresh mint leaves
1/4 teaspoon salt
Dash ground black pepper

Directions for the Stuffing:
1. Remove stems from mushroom caps; finely chop the stems and set aside in a small bowl.

2. In a 10 or 12-inch skillet, heat the oil on high.

3. As soon as the oil is hot (it should not smoke), lower it to medium-high and stir in the chopped mushroom stems.

4. Using a wooden spoon or cooking spatula, stir-fry the chopped mushroom stems on medium-high heat for about 2 minutes.

5. After 2 minutes, add the chopped onion and stir-fry for an additional 2 minutes or until onion is translucent.

6. Transfer the mushroom-onion mixture to a bowl – set aside to cool for a few minutes.

7. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400°F.

8. Take 3 bread slices and quickly pass them under cold water; squeeze the excess water out of bread slices.

9. Discard the crusts and crumble the softened bread into a 2-cup bowl.

10. Add the beaten egg, grated cheese, minced mint leaves, salt and black pepper; stir to combine.

11. Stir in the mushroom-onion mixture. If mixture is too wet and does not amalgamate, soak the remaining bread slice (discard crusts) and crumble it into the mushroom stuffing.

12. Taste stuffing for salt level. If needed, add a tiny amount of salt.

13. Divide the stuffing onto the inverted mushroom caps.

Directions for Baking the Stuffed Mushrooms:

1. Oil a baking sheet and place the stuffed mushrooms (stuffing side up) on it.

2. Set the baking sheet with stuffed mushrooms on a rack positioned in center of oven.

3. Bake the mushrooms for 15 minutes.

4. After 15 minutes, check to see if stuffed mushrooms have turned light golden brown. If not, bake them for an additional 2 minutes. Serve stuffed mushrooms hot.

Text and Photograph ©2016 Nancy DeLucia Real

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Grilled Zucchini, Yellow Squash & Fennel

In Holidays, Sides On November 8, 2016 0 Comments

Don’t know what new side to come up with on turkey day?

This year, you can pair Grilled Zucchini, Yellow Squash & Fennel with turkey or ham. And – without carbs you can enjoy a second or third serving. Just make sure to indulge in more wine or bubbly!

Best wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving to All!

Prep time: 20 to 25 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients:
2 pounds assorted zucchini or yellow squash, washed & dried
1 fennel bulb, top stems and bottom trimmed and discarded
1/3 cup olive oil
Salt and ground black pepper
Rosemary sprigs and fresh mint sprigs, for garnish

Preparing the Vegetables:
1. Make sure the zucchini, yellow squash and fennel are fresh and firm, with no marks or dents. They should look like this:
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2. Then, working on a cutting board, trim tops and bottoms of zucchini and/or yellow squash.

3. Cut the zucchini and/or yellow squash into 1/4-inch thick rings or circles; set aside.

4. Cut the fennel bulb into 1/4-inch thick slices (vertically); set aside.

5. Line an 18 X 12-inch baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

6. Using a basting brush, lightly oil the lined baking sheet.

7. Place the cut vegetables in rows on the sheet (see photograph below):
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8. Lightly brush the zucchini/squash and fennel slices with olive oil; sprinkle with salt and ground black pepper.

Griling the Vegetables:
1. Set the baking sheet on an oven rack set 6 to 7 inches below the top “broiler” element of oven.

2. Broil or grill the vegetables for about 7 to 9 minutes on one side or until they are golden brown and look grilled.

3. When vegetables look grilled, transfer the baking sheet to a counter or a trivet.

4. Using tongs, carefully turn over the vegetable slices; lightly brush the vegetables with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and ground black pepper.

5. Return the baking sheet with vegetables to top oven rack; broil the vegetables for 7 to 9 minutes or until they turn golden brown and look grilled.

6. When vegetables are done, transfer the baking sheet to a counter or trivet. Transfer the vegetables to an ovenproof serving platter (arrange them decoratively).

7. Garnish the vegetables with rosemary and fresh mint sprigs. Serve immediately.

8. Alternatively, this dish can be prepared a few hours in advance of a meal. If making this ahead: when vegetables are done, transfer them to an ovenproof serving platter without the rosemary and mint sprig garnish.

9. About 30 minutes before serving dinner, cover the vegetables with aluminum foil; warm in a preheated 350°F oven for about 25 minutes. Serve immediately.
Text & Photographs ©2016 Nancy DeLucia Real