Olive & Garlic Foccacia Bread

I have never been one to crave bread, choose to consume it on a whim or eat multiple slices while waiting for dinner at a restaurant. However, for me, focaccia bread is in its own category. I absolutely adore the buttery taste of this bread that is often complimented by simple ingredients like sea salt, pepper and garlic. For this time, I added kalamata olives and roasted garlic to spice it up.

Step 1: Stir Yeast, Salt, Pepper, Olive Oil and Water Together

Step 2: Chop Kalamata Olives

 Step 3: Stir in Flour and Let Rise

 Step 4: Season, Bake and Eat!

For me, this results in a simple equation: balsamic + olive oil + focaccia bread = buttery goodness. Perhaps it’s a good thing I don’t have bread too often!

Cheers!

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Tomato Crostini


Sometimes, it is just nice and convenient to be able to throw a quick appetizer together for a dinner party or get-together. This recipe was no different. Considering this recipe uses only five ingredients (not including salt & pepper) and creates one of my favorite ingredients (sun dried tomatoes minus the sun), I became absolutely smitten.

I made these as an appetizer this past Christmas for my family. My brother, who is quite a picky eater, does not usually appreciate my cooking and choices; however, this time, he actually really liked this appetizer. So, for your next get-together, make sure to make these (even the most picky eater will like them!): Crostini With Thyme-Roasted Tomatoes.

Step 1: Cut Tomatoes in Half Lengthwise

Step 2: Place Tomatoes on Pan With
Olive Oil, Thyme, Salt and Pepper; Roast

Step 3: Slice Bread and Bake in Oven

Step 4: Place Roasted Tomatoes
on Top of Bread and Eat!

If in a bind, this is perfect for a last-minute recipe since it uses normal household items. Plus, it results in a simple, yet delicious result!

Cheers!

Grilled Honey Lime Chicken

Cooking with limes always reminds me of Summer barbecues and Mint Mojitos.  I love the light and fruity flavors that result out of summer dishes because the Fall and Winter seasons definitely encompass more heavy and comfort-filled items. Despite the fact that the season of Summer has come and passed, I still enjoy cooking with limes year-round. So, I was ecstatic (and very thankful) when I found this recipe for Honey Lime Chicken from The Enchanted Cook. I had also recently been in the mood to grill so this recipe was absolutely perfect.

In addition to my penchant for limes, I love the fact that grilling (for the most part) can be quite easy and takes little time and effort. For this recipe, I just measured the dry ingredients, zested and juiced a lime and then combined all the ingredients into a Ziploc bag with the chicken to marinate. All this recipe took was less than five minutes of prep time before work and then it was ready to throw on the grill after coming home. All in all, this was a very flavorful recipe that tasted very light – exactly what I needed amidst all the heavy and calorie-laden options for Fall foods.

Cheers!

Stuffed Tomatoes

Whether in sauce, on a burger, in salads, sundried or whatever other combination, I absolutely love tomatoes. Just think about it, tomatoes already exist in endless combinations of recipes and food concoctions. At least for me, I deem the esteemed tomato to be a staple. But, it seems like I’ve just gotten used to the same tomato-based recipes for the last few months. Plus, in many of my dishes, the tomato was just a side ingredient and not the main hero. So, I decided to find a recipe that was both different and featured the tomato as the main deal: Stuffed Tomatoes (Sunny Anderson from the Food Network).

Step 1: Chop Basil and Garlic; Cut Tops Off
Of Tomatoes and Remove Insides 


Step 2: Combine Parmesan Cheese, Basil,
Garlic, Bread Crumbs, Olive Oil, Salt, and Pepper 


Step 3: Stuff Mixture Into Tomatoes


Step 4: Bake and Enjoy!

I actually really liked this recipe. It was super simple and I loved the tomato as the main feature!

Cheers!

Fresh Lemon Pasta


If you haven’t noticed already, I’m literally all about “ease, ease, ease” and “few ingredients, few ingredients, few ingredients”. Rarely a time exists where I cave and use a recipe that requires over 12 seperate ingredients. That being said, this Tuesday was no different. A friend from college came over to visit my roommate and I. I decided to make a simple dinner and one that would require few ingredients (of course!!).

I had already picked up a lemon at the store a few days prior and decided I wanted to incorporate it somehow. Since I already had pasta on hand, I figured I’d try to figure out some type of pasta-lemon duo. After some glancing around the cupboard, I decided to make Fresh Lemon Pasta as a nice, summery dish.

Step 1: Smash Garlic and Chop Finely


Step 2: Grate Parmesan; Juice and Zest Lemon


Step 3: Combine Zest, Juice, and Olive Oil


Step 4: Combine Cheese, Cooked Noodles, Sauteed
Garlic, and Olive Oil/Lemon Sauce Together; Enjoy!

Although it almost seems too simple, my tastebuds were not disappointed and my wallet was sure happy with me too. As cheesy as that sounds, it is completely true! Anyway, the key to this recipe’s success is lots of garlic (lots!) and playing around with the lemon-to-olive oil ratio in order to make a sauce that includes enough lemon, but doesn’t make your mouth pucker in a sour grin. Next time, I’d like to add chicken or perhaps olives and tomatoes. Until then…

Cheers!

Chickpea Salad with Lemon, Parmesan, and Fresh Herbs


After making this recipe, the song “My Favorite Things” from Mary Poppins started to play in my head. At first this seemed strange, but then it dawned on me why this song was stuck in my head — this recipe encompasses many of my favorite ingredients: lemon, basil, cheese, and garbanzo beans.

But, to be perfectly honest, I usually do not make “bean salads.” So, nonetheless, I was a bit hesitant to try this recipe of Chickpea Salad with Lemon, Parmesan, and Fresh Herbs; however, since it contained my favorite ingredients, I was hoping that the marriage of these elements would produce a fantastic result.

This recipe was a definite hit. The only modification I would make is to reduce the amount of lemon juice. But, other than that, this recipe is so simple that I will continue again and again to make it on days when I’m not in the mood to cook!

Cheers!

Cheddar Jalapeño Bread

I LOVE spicy food. Just ask my friends — I excessively douse my scrambled eggs, Asian inspired dishes, sandwiches, and tortilla chips with Salsa, Tabasco, Sriracha, or Secret Aardvark sauce (or any combination thereof). But, in addition to my love of fiery, heat-loaded sauces, I also happen to enjoy jalapeños. In my opinion, jalapeños are a perfect addition to nachos, sandwiches, soups, and rice dishes to provide an extra kick of flavor.

Two weekends ago, I indulged in cheddar jalapeno bread for the first time at a friend’s house. I was completely enamored by the salty, spicy, and cheesy flavors that mixed together with the bread. I’ve always put jalapenos on sandwiches that are already overloaded with other ingredients; however, I had never thought to just make bread solely with jalapenos as one of main ingredients. I found a recipe for Cheddar Jalapeno Bread; however, my first attempt resulted in a massive failure. Now, that’s not to say that the previous recipe is flawed, because it is definitely not (this recipe is one of the top ten bread recipes on Epicurious and has plenty of amazing reviews). I would totally recommend anyone to make that recipe. My main problems resulted in the fact that the yeast I had on hand did not rise for some unbeknownst reason as well as that the bread takes about 6.75 hours to make from start to finish. Even though I love to bake and I’m completely willing to take the time, I’m usually not that patient (especially after I messed up the first time!). So, I decided to take a previous recipe for bread (as seen here), and add onto it by putting cheese and jalapenos on it at the end!

Step 1: Make Other Bread

Step 2: Slice Fresh Jalapeño Dough; Grate Cheese


Step 3: Place Cheddar Cheese, Sliced Jalapeños,
and Jarred Jalapeños On Top of Bread and Bake!


[I usually wouldn’t prefer anything “jarred”
over fresh — but, in this case, jarred jalapeños
are even spicier and bake really well!]

I was a bit nervous to make this recipe; however, I’m happy at the results. For next time, I’ll definitely make one modification: add the cheese and jalapeños just a few minutes before the bread is done baking. That way, the cheese-y flavors will be more pronounced!

Cheers!