Recipe Box

It is great to have a place to share healthy recipes made using seasonal and locally-produced ingredients with you!  

Heart Healthy Eating
To keep our heart health in check we have to be vigilant about making wise food choices daily.  Here is a great infographic care of Heart Deadly Foods vs. Heart Healthy Ones-- which side are you going to be on??!!

Black Bean & Sweet Potato Tacos
Creativity is key to using the last of the winter season's carry-over vegetables as we await spring's fresh flavors to arrive.  This vegetarian dish can easily have your meat of choice added to it, or pour on some chicken broth and you have a fabulous soup. Butternut squash can be substituted for the sweet potatoes if desired. 

2 medium sweet potatoes, cubed (peels left on)
2 Tbs olive oil, divided
1 sweet onion, diced
Two 15 oz. cans organic or low sodium black beans (rinsed & drained)
1 c fresh salsa or pico de gallo
1 Tbs cumin
soft flour or corn tortillas
Optional Toppings: kale/greens, onions, cabbage, carrots, micro greens  cilantro (Early fall may have-  tomatoes, roasted red peppers, corn, etc.
For the sauce:   
½ ripe avocado (or 3Tbs sour cream or Greek yogurt)
¾ c cilantro, hardy stems removed*
Juice from 1 lime
1 clove garlic
1 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp agave/honey
1/8 tsp salt
*For a spicy kick, swap cilantro for  1Tbs sriracha sauce
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  On a rimmed cookie sheet, toss sweet potato cubes with 1 Tbs olive oil, salt and pepper.  Roast in the oven for approximately 45 minutes, or until edges begin to caramelize—turning the potatoes once or twice during baking.  (If prefer, can also steam potato cubes until knife-tender).
     In a deep sided pan over medium heat, add remaining 1 Tbs olive oil and diced onions.  Allow onions to cook until slightly caramelized, about 10 minutes. Add black beans, salsa, and cumin to the pan. Cook for about 10 minutes until heated through; stirring occasionally. (For a creamier consistency, you can mash some of the beans after heating)   
     Meanwhile, to make the avocado sauce, add all sauce ingredients to a food processor or blender and blend until combined.  You can add a teaspoon or two of water to thin the sauce if necessary.  Season as desired with cumin, cayenne, salt & pepper. Set aside, or refrigerate if making ahead of time. 
     Gently fold potatoes and beans together to evenly distribute and coat. Taste and season with salt & pepper as desired. Spoon some of the black bean mixture in the center of the tortillas,  drizzle a small amount of avocado sauce over the top, add your seasonal toppings, and enjoy.  This dish can also be enjoyed over brown rice, quinoa or a plate of greens.  

Healthy Meal Planning with Mason Jar Salads
While planning your lunches for the week, think about making some trendy Mason Jar Salads!  You can make them in advance for the week, and just add the protein day of, or have fun with your leftovers each evening as you prepare one for the next day.  Here is a great infographic care of to guide you to making the perfect jar!

Grilled Summer Sausage Salad
Take advantage of your grill this summer by cooking all of your seasonal ingredients on it and combine them into one great salad using the grain of your choice.  Here I chose quinoa for its easy and the added protein, but orzo pasta, couscous, faro or even French green lentils would work perfectly.  Also, feel free to add to your grill other seasonal veggies like zucchini or eggplant that would also marry well in this dish.  Enjoy!  (Photo To Come!!)

Grilled Summer Sausage Salad  
1 cup quinoa rinsed and cooked according to the package directions
2 Italian sausage
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes
2 small red onions
2 red bell pepper, halved and stem/seeds removed
2 Tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp Sea salt
2 c baby arugula
¼ c cubed pieces of fresh mozzarella
2 Tbs grated Parmesan cheese

Optional: 1 can (14 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 small bunch fresh basil, chopped

3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
¼ tsp fine grain sea salt
1 clove garlic, finely minced
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Soak 5 bamboo skewers in water for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, toss the tomatoes, onions and bell pepper halves with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Place the tomatoes on the bamboo skewers leaving room to handle skewer and a small space between each tomato. 
Place sausages on a medium-high heat grill.  Cook the sausages for 12-15 minutes being sure to rotate sausages to different sides to ensure even cooking. Also on the grill, cook the pepper halves and onions until they are softened and are showing grilling marks-- about 10 minutes.  And at the same time, cook the tomatoes until they begin to show charring marks and even start to burst open, 5-8 minutes.  You may also have to turn the tomato skewers, pepper halves and onions during the grilling to ensure even cooking. 
Remove all items from the grill onto a large platter and allow to rest for 5 minutes.  Cut the pepper halves and onions into thumb-tip sized pieces. Slice sausages into rounds or on a bias.
In advance, or while items are grilling, make the vinaigrette dressing by whisking together the listed ingredients. 
Combine the cooked quinoa, vinaigrette, grilled tomatoes, pepper & onion pieces  (also any juices that the grilled veggies released onto the platter), sausage slices, arugula, mozzarella cubes, Parmesan and fresh basil (and optional chickpeas). Toss well, season again with salt and pepper if needed and serve.

Seasonal Egg Roulade
This is a quick and easy way to enjoy a season's bounty for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  Use this recipe as your base and then be creative with combining what you have left in your fridge with seasonal flavors and fresh local eggs.

Seasonal Egg Roulade 

6 large local eggs
1 tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbs olive oil-- split
¼ c Swiss cheese, shredded
Chopped seasonal veggies of choice:  For example: ½ c chopped bell peppers, tomatoes, arugula, potatoes, etc
2oz Chevre (goat cheese)
Break eggs into a bowl, and lightly beat with a whisk or fork.  Add thyme and salt & pepper to taste. Stir to combine.
    Heat ½ Tbs olive oil over medium heat in 12-inch skillet; rotating the skillet to coat all sides. Add egg mixture to skillet, and allow to sit for 1 minute.  Begin rotating skillet to move uncooked egg from the center to the outer edges of the pan in an effort to expand your egg “pancake”.   Once most of the egg is cooked, carefully and quickly flip the ‘pancake’ to the other side.  Evenly top “pancake” with Swiss cheese, followed by seasonal vegetables (saving a little to sprinkle on top of finished roulade).  Allow to cook for 1 minute, or until cheese begins to melt. Gently slide ‘pancake’ onto platter, and using a clean dish towel, begin to roll the ‘pancake’ into roulade.  Garnish top of roulade with crumbled goat cheese, and a sprinkle of the leftover seasonal fillings, and salt & pepper.  Allow to sit for 3-4 minutes before serving.

Roasted Butternut Squash & Bacon Pasta

This dish is a fall/winter favorite of mine, and the flavors go together amazingly! Using just a little bacon really goes a long way-- just be sure to use a preservative free bacon like a local-sourced product for best quality.

Roasted Butternut Squash and Bacon Pasta 

1 butternut squash (1 ½lbs), cut into bite-sized cubes

½ c sweet onion, diced

3 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil

1 Tbs unsalted butter

1 lb high fiber pasta; orecchiette, fusilli, penne

3 slices nitrite/nitrate-free bacon, chopped (locally sourced preferred)

1 Tbs fresh sage, chopped

¼ c pine nuts, lightly toasted

½ c grated Parmesan

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400.  On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the squash and onion with oil, and spread in a single layer.  Season with salt and pepper. Roast until golden and tender, about 45mins.   Cook pasta al dente as per package directions. Drain and reserve 1 cup cooking water. Cover pasta to keep hot.
     While pasta is cooking, heat large saute pan over med. heat.  Add bacon and saute until bacon is crisp, about 4-5 mins.  Pour off all but 1Tbs of fat, and return to heat.  Add sage and saute for 30 seconds.  Add the roasted squash and cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 2 mins.  Add in hot pasta, butter, and ¼ c pasta water, and stir to combine.  If seems dry, stir in a little more pasta water.  Fold in pine nuts, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to serving dish and sprinkle extra Parmesan cheese over top. 

Eating for a Healthy Heart

17 Heart Healthy Super Foods as shared on
Salmon                                  Soy
Oats                                       Berries
Avocado                                Dark Chocolate
Nuts                                       Citrus
Flax Seeds                             Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Tomatoes                               Potatoes
Spinach/Kale                         Legumes
Green Tea                              Coffee
Red Wine

American Heart Association Heart Healthy Recipes Link
Healthy Waist to Height Ratio Link

Shaved Fall/ Spring Vegetable Slaw Recipe to Come


  As the recipe reads, these ball-shaped “treats” are packed with a ton of nutrition that will give you the power to keep you going strong throughout your day, all the while being sweet and tasty like a dessert!  I hope you make these all the time throughout the school year for you and your family, because they are the perfect lunchbox or after school treat!

1c peanut butter (or almond, soy, cashew butter)
1c pure honey
3c old-fashioned oats
½ c ground flax seed
1c mini chocolate chips
1c seednut/dried fruit combo (chopped peanuts/almonds/walnuts/pecans, raisins, dried cranberries/dried blueberries/dried apricots, chia seeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin or sesame seeds)
With a spatula, mix nut butter and honey until smooth. Gradually add in 3 cups oats and ground flax.  Add chips, nuts and fruits, and mix gently with a stand mixer, or smush together with your hands. 
      Roll into ping-pong size balls, and place on a wax-paper lined cookie sheet.  Place in fridge for several hours to reduce stickiness.  Store in fridge, in an airtight container layered with wax paper, or freeze up to 3 months.

Rustic Almond-Mint Pesto Chicken

This is my go to chicken recipe from the moment the mint is coming out of the ground in our garden! Experiment with other herb and nut combinations to add flavor to your favorite dishes-- and check out our recipe for traditional Basil Pesto by scrolling down. Enjoy!

Almond-Mint Pesto Chicken  
1 whole chicken, butterflied
1/2c fresh mint leaves, 🍃
1/2 cup toasted & chopped almond slivers
3 cloves garlic, mashed

1 tsp local honey
1/4c lemon juice
1/2c extra virgin olive oil 

Place the butterflied chicken bone-side down (internal cavity side), and grill for approximately 35 minutes on medium low heat with the grill top down.  Then flip the chicken to breast side down and continue cooking the chicken until
 temp reads 165F & juices run clear; approximately 10-15 more minutes. In the meantime, make the pesto by combining the remaining ingredients-- I prefer the texture yielded from using a mortar & pestle or simply chopping rather than a food processor.  When the chicken is fully cooked, cut it into pieces, slather it with the pesto and serve. Yum!!

Smoked Salmon Spread
This spread is a delicious use of leftover salmon…the spread can be used on a bagel, with crackers, or toss it with pasta (and a few Tbs of the hot pasta water) to create a creamy salmon sauce.

Smoked Salmon Spread
8 ounces cream cheese
1 Tbs capers, rinsed and drained
1 Tbs red onion, diced small
1 to 2 tsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice
8 dashes of Tabasco pepper sauce (more or less to your taste)
¼ tsp freshly- ground black pepper
6 oz smoked salmon (or grilled wild-Pacific salmon), coarsely chopped
In a large bowl, cream cheese, capers, red onion, lemon juice, Tabasco, and smoked salmon.  Stir until well-combined, and serve.

Spring Cabbage Soup

 Many of you know I have a passion for cabbage-- I  pre-chop the cabbage and store it in a ziplock bag in my fridge and eat off of it for over a week (see favorite Asian Slaw recipe below).  One cool early spring afternoon I wanted to whip up a quick lunch with ingredients in the fridge, and Wa-la-- I came up with this very delicious and nutritious soup....which I ended up eating several times over until the cabbage was gone... good health in a bowl!!

Spring Cabbage Soup
1 head of local green cabbage, chopped and divided (for this recipe need 1c)
3c organic low sodium chicken broth
1 scallion (spring or green onion) with greens, chopped
1/2 c shredded greens (I used local mustard greens because what I had in fridge, but kale, chard, spinach, or arugula would substitute fine)
1 Tbs of caramelized onions
2 local carrots sliced into thin rounds
pinch of red pepper flake
Optional: Parmesan cheese
Over medium heat, bring chicken broth (I use Aldi Simply Natural brand--$1.79) to a boil.  Add 1 cup of shredded cabbage, spring onion, shredded greens of choice, caramelized onions, carrots, and red pepper flake into broth and lower to a simmer.  Cook until the cabbage wilts-- approximately 10 minutes.  Remove from heat, and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. 

Healthy Eating on the Run
 In today’s world we are constantly on the “Go, Go, Go”; making healthy eating a challenge….especially if you are like most Americans and eat food prepared by someone else for most of your meals.  The question is how do we make fast, easy and healthy food to fit our busy lifestyles.  The key is to be nutrient-dense in all of your choices, whether at home or away.  The following are links to several blogs that offer great recipe collections that will inspire you when trying to "Eat on the Run"!

90 No Heat Lunches @ Katlyn's Kitchen

24 Ways to Use Shredded Chicken @ Taste & Tell

50 Things to Grill in Foil @ Food Network
50 Healthy Recipes @ Brown-eyed Baker

Sicilian Melon Salad
This salad is the perfect dessert for when you want to celebrate the juiciness of summer!
Sicilian Melon Salad
3Tbs agave nectar (or 1/4c sugar)
1 lemon
1c blueberries
4c cubed watermelon
2Tbs chopped mint leaves
Bring agave/sugar and ¼ cup of water to a simmer in a saucepan.  Stir until agave/sugar dissolves, and then remove from the heat and allow to cool.  In a large bowl, combine blueberries and watermelon.  Add the juice and zest from the lemon, along with the mint.  Pour sugar syrup over melon and gently fold to combine.   Let stand 15 minutes to macerate. Enjoy! **For an adult only version, my nonna would traditionally substitute Limoncello for the simple syrup.

The Perfect Summer Slaw

 Cabbage is in season right now and readily available at your local farmers market or grocer at a great price....making it the perfect dish to prepare for a crowd-- like for a Memorial Day BBQ!  When purchasing, look for a clean, white cut at the base of the cabbage, which is a sign its freshness.  And you can pre-chop the slaw and store in a ziplock bag in your fridge for a week; along with prepare the dressing in advance as well so that they will be ready to bring to your table or stash in your lunchbox throughout the week.

Easy Asian Slaw 
1 head of local green cabbage, shredded
5 scallions (spring or green onions) with greens, chopped
4Tbs sliced almonds, toasted
1/2 c canola oil
3Tbs rice wine vinegar or white vinegar
2Tbs sugar
ramen noodle chicken season pack
1 tsp fresh-cracked pepper                                   
Put all dressing ingredients in a jar and shake rigorously to combine (can make 2 days ahead). Right before serving, toss in green onions and dressing, and top with nuts.

Belizian Juice

In January, I traveled throughout Belize and discovered an array of  flavors that made my palette sing!  As soon as I arrived home, I couldn't wait to make this Belizian condiment that was found on every table throughout the country to be used on everything from eggs to red beans and rice. My version is so tasty, and can remain in your fridge indefinitely-- just keep adding more to it as you use it!

Belizian Condiment "Juice" 
2 c minced onion
2 habanero peppers, desseded, sliced
2Tbs minced cilantro
6 allspice seeds
1 1/2 c vinegar
1/2 c water
1 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients and marinate for 2 hours or overnight.  For a Southerner, this is a perfect topping on sauteed collards...but its uses are indefinite-- Enjoy!

Gina's Granola

You will want to double this granola recipe and store some in the freezer for future consumption, especially when your family get a taste, it will be gone before you know it!  
Gina's Granola
4 ½ c old-fashioned oats
1 c coarsely chopped combination of walnuts, pecans and almonds
1 c coconut flakes
½ tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
½ c canola oil
½ c local honey
1½ c coarsely chopped dried fruit: raisins, cranberries, blueberries, cherries, apricots, figs, mango, pineapple, etc
Other optional add ins: pumpkin seeds (pepitas), sunflower seeds, flax seeds, mini chocolate chips, toasted wheat germ, sesame seeds
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl, stir together oats, nuts and coconut (optional cinnamon).  Drizzle oil over oat mixture; toss with a wooden spoon. Drizzle honey over mixture, and toss again to distribute throughout. Pour granola onto sheet pan (may need to use 2) and spread evenly. Bake, stirring occasionally, until golden (about 25 minutes). Let granola cool completely on a wire rack. Break it into chunks, into a large mixing bowl, and add mix ins...dried fruit, and other suggested options. Store in an airtight container for several weeks, or freeze for up to 6 months. Makes approx. 8 cups.
** Perfect served over Fat Free plain Greek yogurt that has been sweetened with a drizzle of local honey! 

Chocolate Greek Yogurt Dip

Oh my!  This healthy yet sweet dip is the perfect mid-afternoon snack to satisfy my chocolatey-sweet tooth while giving me ample amounts of protein to help energize me through my day.  Serve with apple slices, graham sticks, or my favorite: simply with a spoon!
Chocolate Greek Yogurt Dip
1c fat free plain Greek yogurt
3 Tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tbs agave nectar
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
3Tbs mini chocolate chips
Mix all ingredients except chips until smooth, ensuring there are no lumps of cocoa.  Chill in the refrigerator.  Enjoy!!  

This savory dip is refreshing and full of flavor....reminiscent of Indian raita.
Savory Greek Yogurt Dip
1c fat free plain Greek yogurt
1 avocado, finely chopped
1/2 c tomatoes, finely chopped
1/2 c cucumber, finely chopped
1 tsp dried dill
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp red pepper flake
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
salt to taste
Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl.  Chill in refrigerator.  Enjoy with carrot sticks, cucumber slices or crackers.

Zucchini Fritters

People are always asking me how to use all the zucchini they have growing...and this is the perfect recipe because not only is it tasty & healthy, but it can accompany any meal, and you can keep them in the fridge for up to a week, or freeze for future use.  I substitute gluten-free flour for the AP flour, and they turn out great.

Zucchini Fritters
2 large zucchini, grated on box grater
1 tsp salt
1 egg
1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of cayenne pepper
salt and fresh-ground pepper to taste
1 large green onion, chopped
1Tbs olive oil
Place grated zucchini in a bowl and sprinkle salt; tossing to coat. Allow zucchini to sit for 10 minutes to draw out extra liquid.  In the meantime, in a separate bowl, whisk together egg, flour, baking powder, cayenne, salt & pepper.  Place zucchini in a clean dish towel and squeeze out as much excess liquid as possible from the zucchini.  Add zucchini and green onions to egg-flour mixture, and stir to combine.  If too wet, add more flour-- one Tbs at a time-- it should feel wet to the touch.  
    In a large skillet over medium high heat, warm the olive oil.  Test oil with a piece of battered zucchini to confirm it is hot enough for fritters.  Form small patties out of the zucchini mixture and place them in the pan.  Allow to cook for 2 minutes on each side.  Once golden brown on each side, remove from skillet and serve.  Perfect for breakfast with an over-easy egg on top, or as a side with a topping of fresh tomatoes and basil, or as a snack with a spicy dipping sauce. 

Healthy Creamy Tomato Soup

In this soup we replace heavy cream with non-fat Greek yogurt to create this soup's creamy consistency.  This soup is another great way to capture the summer's tomato bounty, and enjoy it in the cooler seasons to come.

Tomato Soup
1 Tbs olive oil
1/2 large sweet onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
pinch red pepper flake
4 large tomatoes, cut into chunks
1/2 tsp dried oregano
8 basil leaves, torn into pieces
1/2-1 c chicken broth
1/2 c non-fat plain Greek yogurt
1/2 c shredded sharp cheddar cheese
additional basil pieces and cheese for topping
optional:  raw sweet corn kernels
In a pot over medium high heat, warm oil.  Add onion, and saute for 2 minutes.  Add garlic and red pepper flake, and saute for 3 minutes more, or until onions are translucent.  Stir in tomato chunks, oregano and basil, and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.  If tomatoes released a good amount of liquid, add 1/2 cup of chicken broth, or add more if necessary.  Remove from heat, add in yogurt and cheddar. Using a submersion blender, puree soup until smooth consistency (or allow to cool and then use a standard blender). Place warm soup in serving bowl (add optional corn at this time), and top with additional cheddar and basil.  Enjoy!

Traditional Basil Pesto

With basil presenting itself in its bounty, now is the perfect time to make a big batch of pesto--making sure to preserve some for the winter days ahead!  Thanks to Mount Holly's Backyard Farms, we produced a luscious batch at the Mount Holly Farmers Market on 8/18, and we slathered it on a beautiful, fresh piece of tuna from Lucky Fish to create "Tonno Genovese." Though I helped my Little Nani make pesto many times, we never served it in this application, and it was delizioso-- thanks Mike from Lucky Fish for suggesting we prepare this dish together at the market!

Basil Pesto 
 3 large cloves garlic (or more to taste)
4 c basil leaves, stuffed
1/2 - 1 c extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c pine nuts, toasted
1/2 c Parmigiano Reggiano
In a food processor, process the garlic until finely chopped.  Add the basil into processor bowl, stuffing it in to fit, and drizzle on 1/2 cup oil.  Pulse processor until basil begins to tear and form a paste; pushing down sides with a spatula as needed.  
Add pine nuts, and continue to pulse; drizzle in additional olive oil necessary to reach desired pesto consistency.  (Stop at this point if planning to freeze for future use).  Stir in cheese, cover with plastic wrap touching the surface, and allow to sit for 10 minutes for flavors to come together.  Enjoy pesto in many applications-- pasta, chicken, beef, grilled cheese, tomatoes, and even tuna!

Blackberry Vinaigrette

A tasty summer twist on a traditional dressing....and a delicious way to use the delicious blackberry!  Be sure to make extra since it can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 weeks!

Blackberry Vinaigrette  
1/2 c blackberries
4Tbs olive oil
juice from 1 lemon
1tsp dijon mustard
2 tsp local honey
pinch of salt
freshly-grated black pepper to taste   
Mash blackberries using a mortar and pestle (or blender/food processor will work) until liquid-like in consistency.  Place mashed berries and all remaining ingredients in a mason jar and shake for 1 minute.  Enjoy vinaigrette on a salad with toasted walnuts, chevre and fresh figs.  

Summer Corn Salad

Besides a fresh tomato off the vine, there is nothing tastier in the summer than some local Silver Queen Sweet Corn!  This salad combines grilled corn with several seasonal flavors, to make a perfect paring with grilled chicken or steak.

Summer Corn Salad  
6 ears of Silver Queen Corn, grilled & corn kernels removed
3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
juice from 1 lemon
1 tsp smoked paprika
generous pinch of salt & fresh ground pepper to taste
1 medium red onion, finely sliced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2c chopped fresh cilantro and parsley 
In a large bowl, whisk together oil, lemon juice, paprika, salt and pepper.  Gently stir in corn, onions, tomatoes and herbs.  Allow to marinate for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve with optional crumbled feta. 

Grilled Peaches -- Amen!!

Local Carolina Peaches are irresistible this time of year! Whether we pick some up while on our way to the mountains somewhere off of hwy 11, or on the way to the beach off of hwy 74, or from our favorite local producers (Barbee and David Goforth), we never are without a full peach basket on the counter in the summertime.  The following two recipes are ones that we use when a couple of peaches manage to soften a tad before we can gobble them down.  The chutney is a delicious way to preserve peaches to enjoy throughout the fall/winter too!  Happy Summer!

Grilled Peaches 
3 large peaches
1 Tbs olive oil
4 oz fresh chevre (goat cheese)
1 Tbs milk
3 Tbs local honey
pinch of salt
Optional: toasted pecans or black walnuts, lavender sugar, flavored balsamic   
Cut the peaches in half and toss in a large bowl with olive oil.  Place peaches, flesh side down on grill for about 6 minutes, turn and repeat on other side (or until you see the black grill marks).  In a separate bowl, combine chevre, milk, honey and salt.  Remove peaches from grill, and place a dollop of the cheese mixture in the center of each peach, and place on platter.  Drizzle peaches with honey, and sprinkle with optional toasted nuts, lavender sugar or flavored balsamic. 

Grilled Peaches & Fig Chutney
1 tsp olive oil
1 hot chile pepper (we used cowhorn variety); finely chopped
2 large peaches, grilled per directions above
8 ripe figs, cut into pieces
2 Tbs dried fruit (blueberries, raisins or currants)
1/4 c white wine
1/2 tsp of freshly grated ginger
juice from 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp of fresh thyme leaves
pinch of salt
Heat oil in pan over medium-high heat.  Add chile pepper to oil and heat through for 1 minute. Add peaches, figs, dried fruit and wine to pan, and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.  Add ginger, lemon juice, thyme and salt.  Continue to simmer for an additional 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.  Store in jar in fridge for 2 weeks, or can for future use.  Serve in a bowl as an appetizer with your favorite meat & cheeses, or simply enjoy atop a slice of pound cake or vanilla bean ice cream.

Black Bean Gazpacho Salad

This salad has all the flavors of summer with a Latin twist!  It will become a favorite on your summer menu for sure, and if you are seeking to change it up and give it any Italian twist, substitue with cannellini beans, and rather than cumin and cilantro, use red pepper flake and fresh basil! 

Gazpacho Salad
1/3 c extra virgin olive oil
¼ c fresh lime juice (lemon with substitute fine)
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp salt
½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
2c cooked black beans (2 15-oz cans, rinsed and drained)
2c sweet corn kernels
3 small bell peppers, (combine colors) seeded and chopped (1 ½ c)
2 pickling cucumbers, diced
2-4 jalapeno chiles, seeded and finely minced
1 small red onion, finely chopped
3 Roma tomatoes, chopped
½ c fresh cilantro, chopped
  In a small bowl, whisk together first 6 ingredients and set aside. In a large bowl, combine beans, corn, peppers, cucumbers, chiles, onion and tomatoes. Toss together gently.  Add dressing and toss again.  Cover and chill for several hours to allow flavors to blend.  Just before serving, add cilantro and toss well.  **You can make this salad up to 2 days in advance, just leave out the cukes and tomatoes, and add those in about 3 hours before serving, along with an extra squeeze of lime juice and drizzle of olive oil. 

Pizza on the Grill

Cooking pizza on the grill is a perfect summer pastime!  The trickiest part about making them is that the timing can vary from grill to grill...just be aware of your grill's hot spot as so not to burn the last tip: warm the sauce in advance so that the cheese will melt more efficiently-- Delizioso!!

Grilled Pizzas 
Toss or roll out pizza dough into crust, shape and place onto hot grill. While on grill, oil top side of crust.  Peek at bottom side and ensure bottom is cooked—about 4 minutes.  You may have to rotate crust to avoid hot spots and ensure even cooking.  When bottom is “ready”, flip crust over. Reduce burners to low. Lightly oil top of crust, then add sauce, cheese and toppings.  Close grill lid, and allow cheese to melt and pizza to finish cooking-- about 4 minutes.  Slide onto large cutting board, and serve immediately.

Beet & Carrot Salad

Another delicious & easy beet recipe to add to your repertoire...our Beet & Carrot Salad!  I loved grabbing a fresh bunch of beets and carrots at the Mount Holly Farmers Market this morning, and knew this was the salad we were going to prepare.  I look forward to hearing from you and how much you are enjoying your beets....visit Bocca Felice on Facebook and drop us a comment! 

Beet & Carrot Salad
2 medium beets, peeled
3 medium carrots 
1/2 medium red onion
3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 Tbs apple cider vinegar (for a healthy boost, choose one with live cultures like Braggs)
2 Tbs goat cheese, crumbled
1 cup of arugula, torn into strips
salt & freshly ground pepper
Using a mandoline slicer set on the thinnest setting, or very sharp knife, slice the beets, carrots and red onions.  Cut the onion into smaller slivers, and cut the beet slices in 1/2 so they match the size of the carrot rounds.  Place beets, carrots and onions in a large bowl.  Toss the slices with olive oil, apple cider vinegar & salt & pepper to taste. Allow to sit for 5 minutes.  Just before serving, top with goat cheese and arugula, and enjoy!  (This recipe is delicious with the addition of grilled sweet corn kernels-- yum!)

Grilled Beet Carpacio

Growing up, the beet was always a food I refused to eat because I thought it tasted like dirt.  On their own, I still think beets taste that way....but because they are so nutritious, and beneficial in detoxifying our livers, I had to find a way to prepare them that my family and I would enjoy....and here it is!

Grilled Beet Carpacio with Goat Cheese Drizzle
6 medium beets, peeled
1 1/2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil (divided)
salt & freshly ground pepper
2 Tbs goat cheese
juice from 1/2 small lemon
5 large basil leaves, torn to pieces
salt & freshly ground pepper
Fire up your grill at medium heat. Using a mandoline slicer set on the thinnest setting, or very sharp knife, slice the beets and place slices in a large bowl.  Toss the slices with 1Tbs olive oil & salt & pepper to taste.  Place beets in a grill basket, and allow to cook, tossing occasionally until the edges begin to brown; about 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together 1/2 Tbs olive oil, goat cheese, and lemon juice.  Place beet slices on serving platter, drizzle with goat cheese mixture, sprinkle with basil leaves, and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Enjoy!

Tomatoes!!  Salad photo to come....

I was always told by my Italian Grandmother to never waist anything.  This Tuscan salad is the region's specialty, and makes the most out of summer leftovers.  Here is our family's basic recipe, but there are many variations based on what seasonal veggies you have small bits on hand to use up, but all use up any leftover stale bread to give it some "filler".  

Panzanella--Italian Bread Salad 
2-4 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard (optional)
1/2 tsp agave nectar
3 Tbs white wine vinegar (or other acid like lemon juice)
1/2 c extra virgin olive oil
2 c of stale crusty bread that has been cut into 1" cubes
3 pickling cucumbers, peeled & sliced into 1/4" rounds, then quartered
1 red bell pepper, seeded & chopped
15-20 basil leaves, coarsely chopped
1/2 c feta cheese crumbles
optional:  fresh mozzarella balls, corn, salami pieces, etc.
In a small bowl, whisk the vinaigrette ingredients (1-7) together.  In a large bowl, toss the grilled bread, tomatoes, cucumber, red bell pepper, red onion and basil. Add the vinaigrette to the large bowl of salad and toss together to coat.  Generously season with salt and pepper to taste.  For best flavor, allow the salad to sit for 30 minutes before eating. *For additional summer flavor, first brush stale bread with olive oil, and grill on each side for 2 minutes.  Allow to cool, and cut into cubes.

Healthy Chocolate-Pumpkin Muffins

Based on a old Weight Watcher's Recipe that uses store-bought spice cake mix, this recipe for Healthy Chocolate-Pumpkin Muffins is a favorite of mine to share because not only is it easy to prepare for all of us multi-taskers, but it is doles out a healthy supply of Vitamin A and close to ZERO fat per serving!!

Choco-Pumpkin Muffins
1 package of chocolate cake mix (I prefer a natural brand like Bob's Red Mill, Arrowhead Mills or Dr. Oetaker's, which are available at your local grocer....and even Walmart)
1 15-oz can of pumpkin puree  (or roast fall pie pumpkins; then puree into filling & freeze )
1/4c of mini dark chocolate chips  (optional)                                   
Preheat oven to 350*.  Mix the cake mix and pumpkin puree until well-combine. Stir in chips.  Mixture will be thick and sticky (do not add anything else the package says).  Spoon into lined mini muffin tin, and bake for 13 minutes (bake 22 minutes for regular muffin size).  Allow to cool on wire rack....enjoy!  Great for kids' lunchboxes and after school snacks too....we are so sneaky!!

Take Healthy Comfort in a Big Bowl of Chili!

Brrrr! The chilly winter temperatures have finally found their way here! And there is nothing better to warm your belly than a steaming bowl of chili.  We shared this dish at our Chocolicious class this month, and added chocolate mole sauce to it to transform it into the traditional Mexican dish... but, in the end, we all enjoyed our version better.  Cook some up for your family today. We use a large stock pot, but a crock pot will make an easy substitution!

Gina's Chili
1Tbs olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
1/2 tsp red pepper flake
2lbs ground turkey
1lb ground pork
1tsp cumin
1Tbs cayenne
3Tbs smoked paprika
4Tbs chili powder
2tsp ground black pepper
1tsp salt
1 -28oz can plum tomatoes, pulsed in processor 5-6 times or until coarsely chopped
1 -15oz can tomato puree
4c beef broth
3 -15oz cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
In a large stock pot over medium-high heat, add olive oil, onions and red pepper flake.  Cook onions until softened, about 4 minutes.  Add turkey, pork and next 6 ingredients.  Cook meat and seasonings until browned.  Pour in pulsed plum tomatoes, tomato puree, beef broth and beans. Reduce heat to medium low, and allow to simmer for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally.  At this time, the chili flavors should have come together, and some of the liquid cooked off.  Re-season the chili by adding more salt, cumin, cayenne, smoked paprika and chili powder to your taste. Serve warm with a sprinkle of raw chopped onions, shredded cheddar cheese, and a dollop of light sour cream  Cozy! Cozy! 

Make the most out of your Beer--Bake It!
There is nothing more comforting than a slice of freshly baked bread right out of the oven!  This Beer Bread recipe is super easy...taking less than 5 minutes to whip up, and 50 minutes to bake!  It is the perfect accompaniment to some homemade soup!  Give it a try, and you and your family will be so happy you did-- plus it makes amazing french toast in the morning!

Honey Beer Bread 
3 c whole white wheat flour, sifted (or all-purpose flour)
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp coarse salt
¼ c local honey, slightly warmed (or cane sugar)
Optional: 2 Tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped or 1 cup of shredded sharp cheddar
1-12oz beer of choice
1/4 cup melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and grease a 9″ x 5″ x 3″ inch loaf pan.  In a large bowl, whisk all dry ingredients together (including optional rosemary or cheese).  Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients.  Pour beer and honey into the well, and gently stir until ingredients are incorporated; being sure not to over mix. Pour batter, which is quite thick, into loaf pan.  Pour melted butter evenly over batter. 
     Bake for approximately 50, until top is golden brown, and toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Serve immediately.  (Because the crispy end pieces are the envy in our family, we love placing our slices in the toaster oven so each slice has the crunchiness of an end piece!)

Savor the Flavor!
Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the delicious combination of seasonal flavors in this Spaghetti Squash dish that we prepared at our January Cooking Classes.  Please share it with your friends and family, and create your own spaghetti squash dishes, as it serves as a perfect platform for your culinary curiosity!  Have fun!

Spaghetti Squash, Arugula, Feta and Cannellini Beans
1 spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
2 Tbs olive oil
1 sweet onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
½ c crumbled feta cheese
2 Tbs chopped fresh basil
1 c chopped arugula
1 15-oz can Cannellini Beans (or other white bean), drained and rinsed
2 Tbs toasted pine nuts or almond slivers
Optional: Italian sausage
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a rimmed baking sheet.  Place spaghetti squash cut sides down on the prepared baking sheet, and bake for 45 minutes, or until the inside is knife tender. Remove squash from oven, and set aside to cool enough to be easily handled.
   Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sautee onion until tender, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic, and continue to sautee for 2 to 3 more minutes.
  Use a fork to scrape the stringy pulp from the squash, and place in the sautee pan with the onions and garlic, and mix together.  Place squash mixture in your serving bowl, and toss with feta, basil, arugula, cannellini beans and pine nuts. **Optional flavor boost: serve with Italian sausage, bacon or pancetta.

Fall's Finest Gnocchi

Take some time this coming weekend to visit your local winter farmers market and pick up these ingredients that marry so incredibly well in this easy to create dish!  Be sure to look for a tender kale variety like Red Russian or Tuscan kale to use....and if fresh Italian sausage is available at your market too, be sure to pick up some to add!  The authentic pork flavor brings another layer of irresistible yumminess!  Enjoy!

Butternut Squash, Kale and Gnocchi 
2Tbs unsalted butter, divided
1/2 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs fresh sage, chopped
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
sprinkle of salt
1 1/4c low-sodium chicken broth
1 bunch of tender kale, stems removed, and roughly chopped (about 8c)
1-1.75oz package of potato gnocchi
3/4c grated Pecorino Romano cheese (or Parmigiano Reggiano)
Optional: local Italian sausage links, cooked & sliced
Melt 1 Tbs butter in a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add the squash and cook, stirring, until slightly soft and golden, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, sage, red pepper flakes and 1 tsp salt; cook until the garlic is soft, about 2 more minutes.
     Preheat the broiler. Add the chicken broth to the skillet. When it starts to simmer, stir in the kale and cook until it wilts slightly, about 2 minutes. Add the gnocchi, stirring to coat. Cover and cook until the gnocchi are just tender, about 5 minutes. Uncover and stir in ¼ c Parmesan and the remaining 1 Tbs butter. Sprinkle with the remaining ½ c Parmesan; transfer to the broiler and cook until golden and bubbly, about 3 minutes.