Must Try

Good morning! I hope you are all having a fantastic week. Last night I saw The Lion King musical and I was just blown away. From the costumes to the singing, the whole production was phenomenal. I highly recommend seeing it if you have the chance.

So, a couple weeks ago one of my favorite bloggers, Mama Pea, posted a recipe for Tofu Ricotta Gnocchi and I am so excited to share the testing results with you.  The verdict? Un-be-lievable! And so easy!

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I was going to pair the gnocchi with a simple tomato sauce but then I decided I wanted to make my favorite tomato cream sauce. I am so glad I did too because it was the perfect accompaniment to the pillows of tofu heaven.


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While the gnocchi were cooking, I sauteed some Cremini mushrooms in a touch of olive oil, salt, and pepper. After a couple minutes, I deglazed the pan with some beautiful Marsala wine just to deepen the flavor.


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Then I added a couple servings of this delicious marinara sauce from TJ’s


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And whisked in a couple ounces of the tofutti to make the perfect pink sauce.


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So delicious, so fresh.


Jenna’s Easy Creamy Marinara Sauce

2 servings

1 cup sliced Cremini mushrooms

1/2 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup Marsala wine

2 cups marinara sauce

2 ounces tofutti (or light cream cheese)


1. Pour olive oil into a medium sized pan and turn heat to medium-high.

2. Place the mushrooms into the pan so that they are even. Do not touch them for 2-3 minutes. Allow them to brown slightly. Then continue to stir for another 1-2 minutes, adding salt and pepper to taste.

3. Once the mushrooms are tender and sticking slightly to the pan, add the wine and stir until the mushrooms are coated evenly. Allow the mushrooms to absorb the wine. Turn the heat down to medium.

4. Then, add the marinara sauce. Once the sauce is heated through, add the tofutti and whisk until blended evenly and the sauce is slightly pink.

5. Serve over desired pasta or vegetable.

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Favorite French Toast


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Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. And if I have to narrow it down even further, french toast would be at the top of that list. My family always jokes that because my mom ate so much french toast when she was pregnant with me that it became my favorite food! Now, whether or not that is true, I really want to share my french toast recipe with you. Since I was a willful (err…picky) child, I often refused to eat the wonderful meals my mother prepared and instead chose to make my own dinner, which was usually french toast. So, I have had 20-ish years of recipe testing this bad boy.



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The key to good french toast is good bread. Occasionally, I will make this same recipe with a nice slice of Whole Wheat bread but the real magic happens if you can find a good “eggy” bread. Any challah or Hawaiian sweet bread would be perfect. In this case, I used an amazing Cinnamon-Apple bread I found at the Farmer’s Market. Just incredible.


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Toasted walnuts, fresh berries, and a drizzle of maple syrup serve as the perfect summer toppings.



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French Toast

2 servings


4 slices of bread (Approximately 1 inch thick and either challah or Hawaiian sweet bread)

2 large eggs

2/3 cup 1% milk

1 teaspoon good vanilla extract

Lots of cinnamon

Pinch of salt

Earth Balance/Butter (for cooking)

Toppings: Maple Syrup, Strawberries, Toasted Walnuts etc.


1. Combine the eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon and salt. Soak each piece of bread in mixture for 2-3 minutes on each side.

2. Heat up griddle to medium-high heat. Add desired amount of EB/butter ( I used about 1/2 tablespoon) and allow it to melt completely. Turn heat to medium and add the soaked bread slices.

3. Cook until golden brown on each side. This should take about 3-4 minutes.

4. Serve immediately with desired toppings.


Now, I am off for a really busy day which includes plans to see The Lion King musical tonight! How was your holiday weekend?


xo,


Jenna

Blood Orange Coconut Cupcakes

When I received some blood oranges in this week’s CSA shipment, I did not really know what to do with them. I love the flavor of citrus but I rarely eat oranges plain. I refused to waste them so I came up with what I think is that next best thing-a dessert! Cupcakes, no less!

These were perfectly light and refreshing. I brought them to work and they were gone in 15 minutes! Enjoy. πŸ™‚


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Blood Orange Coconut Cupcakes

12 Servings


1 1/4 c whole wheat pastry flour

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon blood orange zest

1/2 cup 1% milk

1/4 cup coconut milk coffee creamer (or another 1/4 cup milk)

3/4 cup unrefined sugar

2 tablespoons Earth Balance or Butter

2 tablespoons agave nectar

1 egg

Cupcake liners

Orange food coloring (optional)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Combine all of the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the zest, milk creamer, Earth Balance/butter, agave, and egg.

3. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until combined. Do not overmix. Add the food coloring if you desire a brighter orange cake.

4. Place cupcakes liners into the pan. Pour batter 2/3 way up.

5. Bake for 20 minutes. Allow to cool in pan for one minute and then transfer to wire rack for cooling.


Blood Orange Icing

1/4 cup light cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup Earth Balance or Butter, softened

2 cups confectioner’s sugar

1/4 cup fresh blood orange juice

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 teaspoons blood orange zest

Unsweetened coconut flakes for sprinkling


1. Combine the cream cheese and butter. Add the blood orange juice.

2. Add the confectioner’s sugar 1/4 cup at time until well mix. Add the vanilla and zest.

3. Once the cupcakes are cooled, dip the top of the cupcakes into the icing. Sprinkle with coconut.


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xo,


Jenna

For Gingi

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This next recipe is for my sister Gingi (real name: Lindsey). Every year on her birthday she has one request–that I make Arancini di Riso. Making the arancini (also known as rice balls) can be a tedious process because it requires making risotto first, which as we know takes a while to make. Making the final product, though, is always worth the effort because my family really enjoys them and they are gone before I know it. πŸ™‚


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Leftover risotto is mixed with 1 egg, fresh bread crumbs, and parmigiano-reggiano cheese plus a little extra salt and pepper. I use my (very clean) hands to mix.


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Roll a portion of the rice mixture into a ball the size of a clementine.


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Meanwhile, I chopped some fresh mozzarella into small cubes. I highly recommend using fresh mozzarella here. It melts beautifully and tastes even better. So creamy and slightly salty…mmm



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Press a small cube into the center of each rice ball. Then, move some of the rice mixture over the mozzarella and roll the ball in your hands a few more times until it is nice and round.


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Like this. πŸ™‚


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Meanwhile, heat up some oil in a large pan until it is about 1 inch deep.


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Roll the rice balls in some more bread crumbs until coated evenly.


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Place in the oil and cook until browned evenly on all sides.


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Serve with your favorite store bought or homemade marinara sauce.


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And maybe a Strawberry-Avocado Salad.


Arancini di Riso

4 servings


2 cups leftover risotto

1 large egg

1/2 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese

1 cup freshly grated bread crumbs

4 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, cubed

Vegetable Oil (for frying)

Marinara Sauce (for dipping)

Salt & Pepper


1. Combine the risotto, egg, cheese, and 1/2 cup fo the breadcrumbs.

2. Form small balls of the rice mixture (approximately the size of a clementine).

3. Press a cube of mozzarella cheese into the center of each ball. Cover the cheese with a bit more rice mixture and roll into an even, round ball.

4. Place the remaining bread crumbs in a small bowl. Roll each ball in the breadcrumbs to coat each one evenly.

5. Heat oil in a large heavy bottomed pan–about 1 inch deep.

6. Once the oil has reach 350 degrees, place about 5 arancinis in the oil and cook until browned evenly on all sides, about 5 minutes.

7. Place cooked arancinis on a plate lined with paper towels to drain a bit of the oil. Serve hot with a side of marinara sauce.


More recipes will be coming soon, including some Blood Orange Cupcakes that are incredible!


Now I am off to work on some new jewelry for an exhibition I am participating in on papersnitch. I am thrilled!


xo,


Jenna

Sweet Pea

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During the summer I usually find myself craving light, cool foods. However, the weather in Southern California last week was rather gloomy leading me to crave some warm and cozy. Then, when I saw that there were shelling peas in this week’s CSA, sweet pea risotto just seemed like a necessary meal!


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Reggie and I shelled a big bunch of peas while watching this week’s episode of Modern Family. So funny! My method of shelling is pretty simple and effective. I pinch off a piece of each end and then I slice along the indented ridge on one side of the pod. If you closely examine the pods themselves, there are two ridges. They appear to be identical but one is raised and one is indented. Make sure you slice along the right side otherwise the process will be much more challenging. Once the pod is opened, I slide all of the peas inside into a small bowl.


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Then I prepare my ingredients–mis en place if you will. πŸ™‚ This can be a bit tedious but trust me when you are making the risotto, you will be thankful you spent the extra time!


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After melting 2 tablespoons of the butter, I sautee the garlic for about 30 seconds. Then I add the rice to “toast” it a bit and deepen the flavor.


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Now, let’s talk wine! When it comes to risotto, it is true what people say about just using a wine you love to drink. Besides, you never use the whole bottle for the risotto so the rest can go…


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So weird! How did that get in there? πŸ˜‰

All kidding aside, you will need the wine at this point because for the next 25 minutes, you will keep stirring. RIsotto is not a particularly hard dish to make, just time consuming. Add small amount of stock, stir, and then once the rice absorbs that liquid, repeat! From my understanding, this process is what makes the risotto so creamy with such little butter or cream, because the starches from the rice are being released slowly.


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Sweet Pea Summer Risotto

6 servings


1 1/2 cups arborio rice

1 quart vegetable stock

1/2 cup good white wine (something you would like to drink!)

1 cup shelled peas

1/2 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese

2 teaspoons fresh garlic

3 tablespoons butter or Earth Balance

Salt & Pepper


1. Heat a large pan to medium high heat. Once hot, add butter/Earth Balance. Then, add your garlic and cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

2. Pour the rice into the pan and stir to coat in butter/garlic mixture. “Toast” for 1 minute.

3. Add white wine into the pot, stir, and allow the rice to absorb the liquid.

4. Once the wine is absorbed, keep adding 1/4-1/2 cup portions of vegetable stock to the rice mixture. Stir frequently to make sure rice does not stick. You will use almost the entire quart of stock but sometimes less. Cook until al dente.

5. Meanwhile, boil 3 cups of water in a separate pan. Blanch the peas for just 1 minute then transfer immediately to an ice bath.

6. Once the rice is finished cooking, add the peas, cheese, the last tablespoon of butter/Earth Balance, and salt and pepper to taste.

7. Serve hot–enjoy!


Stay tuned for Part 2 of this post, where I turn the leftover risotto into my favorite arancini di riso.


xo,


Jenna

Pancakes for all Seasons

I know most of the food posts that I have done have been centered around eating out but really, I love to cook at home. Cooking, for me, is one of those rare activities in life where I am truly at peace and feel the most relaxed. I need to start cooking more. Period.

I recently set the goal to cook dinner at home 6 nights a week. Also, Reg and I are trying to eat a completely vegetarian diet! So, to spark up the creativity for some fun meals in our home we decided to join a local CSA, JR Organics. For around $25.00 a week, we will receive a small box of seasonal, organic fruits and vegetables. Every week is different so I can say good-bye to falling into any kind of boring eating pattern. Plus, you are supporting a local business and doing something beautiful for the environment–what is not to love? πŸ™‚

Check out this week’s loot…


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A bag of shelling peas, 2 bags of mixed greens, a pint of strawberries, 5 blood oranges, 3 medium sized summer squash, 3 avocados, and a bunch of broccolini–all organic! Heaven.

I was really excited and immediately tried to devise a meal that would involve every single item in the shipment. Yes, I am a little crazy. What can I say? I was really excited!


So, I finally calmed down and decided on using the squash, strawberries, and the mixed greens. I really wanted to use the avocado too but they were not quite ready! With the squash, I immediately knew what I wanted to make–crispy, salty pancakes. Yes, pancakes. Just trust me. This was a good one.


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I took 2 of the squash and chopped off those ends. Just a little though!



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Then I used my trusty old-fashioned cheese grater to grate both pieces. I got a killer arm workout too. Score!


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Then I took some chopped garlic…


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a large egg…


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FRESHLY grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese. Grating it right before really does make all of the difference in the world…

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And FRESHLY ground whole wheat bread crumbs to make…


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This! Cheesy, veggie filled “pancake” mix!


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After heating up some olive oil, I placed about a tablespoons worth of the squash mixture into the pan. I cooked them for 2-3 minutes on each side until they looked like this:


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Hello, delicious.


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Speaking of delicious, can we take a moment to look at these strawberries? I am so glad it is strawberry season and, boy, were these babies sweet! I chopped 4 large strawberries and tossed them with 2 cups of the mixed greens and 2 tablespoons of Brianna’s Poppyseed Dressing. This is the first time I tried the dressing and I think I overdid it a little bit. A little definitely goes a long way but I would recommend trying it.


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I topped my serving with a bit of crumbled goat cheese.


Bon appΓ©tit!


Summer Squash Pancakes

4 Servings


2 medium-sized summer squash

2 teaspoons chopped garlic

3/4 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1/2 cup freshly grated whole wheat breadcrumbs*

4 teaspoons olive oil

4 oz. crumbled goat cheese (optional)

Salt & Pepper to taste


1. Cut off one end of each piece of squash and grate into a medium-sized bowl.

2. Add garlic, cheese, egg, breadcrumbs, salt, and pepper to squash mixture.

3. Place 2 teaspoons of olive oil into a frying pan and heat over medium-high heat until smoking.

4. Add rounded tablespoons of squash mixture to pan and flatten with back of the spatula. Lower temperature to medium heat and cook 2-3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.

5. Repeat with the rest of the mixture using the rest of the oil as needed.

6. Serve immediately and enjoy!


*I broil 2 pieces of whole wheat bread for 3 minutes per side then pop them in my Vita-Mix until crumbly.


P.S. Have you heard? Use the code SPRING10 (in the Message to Seller area) for 20% off any item in the Hello, I Love You Jewelry etsy store until May 22, 2010!


xo,


Jenna










I am back… and I brought cake!

I had every intention of posting more often but I spent the last week in bed sick with the most debilitating flu. I literally slept all day and had no appetite–and for a woman whose entire day is spent pondering her next meal, this is a big deal. Needless to say, I rejoiced when I woke up this morning and my first thought was “pancakes…mmmmmm.” I’m baaaaaaaack!

The best part of being healthy again is that my family is visiting from New Hampshire. I am so thankful that I am healthy enough to spend time with them this week. My Aunt Cindy is an avid baker and she brought a recipe for one of the most unique cakes I have every seen: Gum Drop Cake. Imagine a rich vanilla-cream cheese cake studded with whole gum drops. Or better yet, try it for yourself!

Gum Drop Cake

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 3/4 cup all purpose flour

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 cups gum drops, floured (otherwise they will sink to the bottom)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

Combine the wet ingredients (butter, cream cheese, eggs, vanilla) in a separate bowl. Mix well.

Combine the dry ingredients.

Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture.

Fold in the gumdrops.

Pour batter into bundt pan and bake for 1 hour (or until toothpick comes out clean)

Allow to cool completely then ENJOY!

xo,

Jenna

P.S. I posted some new earrings on my etsy shop (including some psychedelic mushroom earrings that I LOVE). Check them out and let me know what you think.