This is post is sponsored by LINDT & SPRÜNGLI (USA) Inc. As always all opinions are my own.

How to Host a Wine & Chocolate Pairing Party #LindtPairing

If you love dark chocolate and love wine then you are going to love todays post. Not only am I going to show you how to host the perfect wine and chocolate pairing party, but I have a pretty sweet giveaway, too! Last month, LINDT contacted me and asked me if I wanted to host a wine and chocolate pairing party… um yeah! I didn’t think twice when the opportunity came about. I love Lindt EXCELLENCE chocolate and I drink J. Lohr Estates wine often. It was a match made in heaven. When I started to think about where and when to host this event I decided this would be the ideal event for my brother in-law’s 35th birthday. He is a huge fan of J. Lohr Estates wine and of course loves dark chocolate. My mother in-law and husband had been hard at work on the menu and when I told them I would add in and do a little wine and chocolate pairing after dinner they both got excited. We kept it secret from everyone attending and when the rest of our family and a few friends arrived they are were all shocked and super excited. And also asking when we could start the wine and chocolate tasting! If you follow me on Instagram then you got a sneak peak of the wine and chocolate pairings we indulged on over the weekend.

J. Lohr Estates Wine #PerfectPairing

Here are a few tips on how to host a successful wine and chocolate pairing party:

  1. Set-up everything before your guest arrive. This is a given, but to be honest nothing like running around while guest are arriving to your home. I set this up as soon as I arrived to my mother in-laws house so I wasn’t trying to set up the party while everyone was arriving and/or already at the house.
  2. Don’t forget to chill your wine. As soon as I arrived to my mother in-laws I placed all the bottles of the wine in the wine fridge (my mother in-law is quite the wine connoisseur). Red’s went in the red area and whites in the white area. Give them a few hours to get to the correct temperature. If you don’t have a wine fridge you can place your whites in a regular refrigerator and I like to place the reds in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes before drinking. But it’s all preference.
  3. Remove the foil from the bottles prior to the party starting. This will help cut down on time wasted tending to wine bottles and give you more time to tend to your guest.
  4. If at all possible have both red and white wine glasses available. I didn’t have this option, so everyone drank from the single glass I gave them. But if you have enough glasses pair the correct glasses with the correct style of wines.
  5. Have a “dump” bucket available for guest. This is good to have at your table in case your guest don’t decide to drink the sampling of wine you pour for them. Most of my guest would go to the kitchen and rinse out their glasses before we moved on to the next wine.
  6. Keep it casual. Most people are intimidated by wine–not so much by chocolate. So keep it casual. It will make your guest feel more welcomed and they will be interested and not intimidated about learning about the wine and chocolate pairings.
  7. Do your homework. Learn about what wines pair well with what chocolates. You can learn about the five J. Lohr Estates and Lindt EXCELLENCE Chocolates we paired for our party below.

How to Host a Wine & Chocolate Pairing Party

My guest were excited to learn more about Lindt EXCELLENCE and how it allows you to elevate yourself to the ultimate chocolate pleasure experience. I think everyone has heard about the Lindt Master Swiss Chocolatier’s. Every single piece of chocolate is created by the Lindt Master Swiss Chocolatier’s unmatched expertise to perfectly combine the most refined intense dark chocolate and the finest ingredients into thin shapes. After we were done with dinner we all headed to the formal dining room where I had our party set-up. Everyone found a spot at the table. My husband is currently installing wood floors for his parents so we all stood around the table (hence the concrete in the background in the above picture). We kept our party super casual. Everyone had been swimming earlier in the day–no one was dressed up. I think it’s important to keep it casual when dealing with wine. Especially for those who might enjoy drinking an occasional glass but feel intimidated. For the purpose of our party and by the request from some of my guest they asked that I not photograph their faces, so I respected their wishes!

Lindt EXCELLENCE Pineapple paired with J. Lohr Estates Riverstone Chardonnay

Lindt EXCELLENCE Pineapple paired with J. Lohr Estates Riverstone Chardonnay

This by far was my favorite pairing of the evening. The brand new EXCELLENCE Pineapple was delicious. I’m so glad I have a bar leftover from our party because I’ve been eating a square each day as a little daily indulgence. At least half of my guest loved this pairing the best as well!

Lindt EXCELLENCE Pineapple paired with J. Lohr Estates Riverstone Chardonnay

Here is what you need to know about this wine and chocolate pairing: Bright aromas of apples, pears and lemons in this rich, well-balanced Chardonnay pair perfectly with the naturally sweet pineapple and roasted hazelnut pieces in the EXCELLENCE Pineapple bar, providing a delightful finish of caramel and cream. EXCELLENCE Pineapple, masterfully made to pair perfectly with Chardonnay, provides the perfect pairing for lovers of both Chardonnay and dark chocolate.

Lindt EXCELLENCE Intense Orange paired with J. Lohr Estates Bay Mist White Riesling

Lindt EXCELLENCE Intense Orange paired with J. Lohr Estates Bay Mist White Riesling

The EXCELLENCE Intense Orange is intense and full of flavor. It paired beautifully with our second wine of the night. Reislings are on the sweeter side and worked well with this chocolate. It was a toss up as to who loved this pairing, but the end result–everyone was happy they got to try the two together.

Here is what you need to know about this wine and chocolate pairing: Enticing notes of lychee, pear and orange are present in this bright and luscious wine. It is the ideal match for the sweet citrus profile and equally complex EXCELLENCE Intense Orange. Full fruit flavors and a balanced seam of refreshing acidity work in harmony to create perfection!

Lindt EXCELLENCE Sea Salt paired with J. Lohr Estates Falcon’s Perch Pinot Noir

Lindt EXCELLENCE Sea Salt paired with J. Lohr Estates Falcon’s Perch Pinot Noir

This was my husband’s favorite pairing of the night. He loved the sea salt in the EXCELLENCE chocolate.

Here is what you need to know about this wine and chocolate pairing: The fresh ripe berries in this wine are accompanied by a touch of earth and brown sugar that complement the sharpness of the Fleur de Sel and sweet cacao characteristics of EXCELLENCE A Touch of Sea Salt. Together they invoke flavors reminiscent of fresh cream, butter and finish with a pleasant tanginess.

Lindt EXCELLENCE Chili paired with J. Lohr Estates South Ridge Syrah

Lindt EXCELLENCE Chili paired with J. Lohr Estates South Ridge Syrah

You have to like spicy food to like the EXCELLENCE Chili! Just keep that in mind with this pairing.

Here is what you need to know about this wine and chocolate pairing: This is an elegant red wine with deep, rich fruit aromas and flavors of pomegranate, blueberry and prune with a spicy finish. Experience it with EXCELLENCE Chili, a fine aromatic sweet dark chocolate perfumed with premium red chili. Enjoyed together they create spicy warmth that bursts onto the palate.

Lindt EXCELLENCE 70% Cocoa paired with J. Lohr Estates Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon

Lindt EXCELLENCE 70% Cocoa paired with J. Lohr Estates Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon

Everyone decided to clink glasses one last time since we were on our last pairing.

Here is what you need to know about this wine and chocolate pairing: Ripe aromas of blueberry and black plum meld with a bouquet of chocolate and hazelnut in this superb wine. Pair it with the balanced and rich EXCELLENCE 70% Cocoa, which features notes of tobacco, leather and roasted nuts. They are a match in both depth and body and finish with a creaminess that coats the palate.

Lindt EXCELLENCE Dark Assortment

The next time you want to host a party think about how you can master the art of refinement, and host your very own wine and chocolate pairing party. All of my guest got to go home with a bag of Lindt EXCELLENCE Dark Assortment bags of chocolate as well as a chocolate bar or two of their choice.

Everyone had a great time. The next day, my father in-law was still talking about how much he loved the wine and chocolate pairing party. And then insisted that my mother in-law start opening up multiple bottles at a time so he can have his own wine tasting.

Now, for the giveaway. One lucky winner will receive a Lindt Chocolate Gift Box (retailed at $45)! All you have to do is fill out the rafflecopter widget below for a chance to win. United States residents only, must be 18 years of age or older. One winner will be selected at random. If the widget does not load, please click on the link to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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Easy appetizer recipe -- BLT CrostinisThe other weekend our friends invited my husband and I over for a barbecue. We get together with them 1-2 times a month. It’s always very impromptu and spur of the moment. They had a baby last May, so our sporadicalness has started to become a little more well planned, although there are still days where its Friday at 3 and we are all messaging back and forth about dinner that night. As my due date approaches each time we hang out, we all kid and say this could be the last time before baby. They told us we didn’t need to bring anything to dinner, but of course I can’t come empty handed.

BLT Crostini

The thought of BLT crostini’s had ran across my mind a few times over the past month. In my head it was going to be a quick and easy appetizer, a little on the fancy side, and hopefully satisfying. Oh and que in the messy part. That part I didn’t really think through until we were eating the bite-size BLT appetizer. Because I was tired and had been working on nursery projects that day I decided to go a short-cut route and serve it up with ranch dressing, although later I tested it with the Dill Buttermilk Salad Dressing and found it to be much more enjoyable. It’s all about preference. The day I made this recipe in my kitchen, I picked the cherry tomatoes from my garden. The only surviving tomatoes from our harsh Florida winter. I love green tomatoes, so I chose to cut up some of the unripe tomatoes from the vine.

Easy appetizer recipe -- BLT Crostinis

So, let’s rewind back to my friends barbecue. When I showed up with my individual containers everyone was intrigued. We had one person who despises tomatoes so her’s was just lettuce, bacon, ranch, and crostini, and then we have my husband and my other friend who don’t like bacon, so theirs had everything but bacon. This is really a versatile appetizer. And as you can tell even perfect for the pickiest of eaters!

Katie Original Recipe

BLT Crostinis

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 8-10

BLT Crostinis

Ingredients

  • 1 french baguette, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 12 strips bacon, cooked
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in quarters
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup shredded lettuce
  • 1/4 cup Dill Buttermilk Salad Dressing or Ranch Dressing
  • Fresh cracked pepper, optional

Directions

  1. Cook bacon according to package. Place cooked bacon on paper towels to drain excess grease. Cut into 1-inch pieces.
  2. In a bowl, combine sliced cherry tomatoes with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Give it a good toss and set to the side.
  3. Toast sliced baguettes for 2-3 minute or until golden brown.
  4. Place a drizzle of dressing on each of the baguettes followed by a slice of bacon, shredded lettuce, and tomato mixture. Drizzle with additional dressing and cracked black pepper if desired. Serve and eat immediately.

Notes

You can prepare the crostini's yourself or have a few prepared with all the ingredients surrounding it--allowing your guest to create their own BLT crostinis.

To bump up the bacon flavor, rub a little bacon fat on both sides of the baguette before toasting. It will intensify the flavor.

I have made this recipe with traditional red cherry tomatoes and a mix of red, orange, and green cherry tomatoes from my garden. Both yield a delicious BLT crostini and are all up to preference and availability.

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50 Healthy Super Bowl Recipes #appetizers #entertaining #recipes #superbowl #football

Today, I’m excited to announce that I’m sharing 2 healthy Super Bowl friendly recipes on my local Fox station morning show; Good Day Orlando. You can watch  live at 9:35 am (streaming if you don’t live in CFL) or I’ll have a clip to share with everyone later.

Some of you might be sick of seeing recipes centered-around one football game. However, I love it! I love any holiday that is centered around eating. Is that bad? I love seeing round-up post and right now it seems like everyone has a round-up of all things Super Bowl food. I decided to change it up a bit and feature 50 Healthy Super Bowl Recipes. Now, granted not all of the recipes are  not 100% healthy however they are lower fat than what you would normally consume during the big game. I.e., they use greek yogurt instead of 5 cups of mayonnaise, etc.

Earlier this week, I did my weekly Google+ Hangout with Christine from Cook the Story. We spoke about Healthy Entertaining with Liz from The Lemon Bowl. Liz and I have chatted back and forth for over a year now and it was so nice to finally get to “meet” her! We spoke about easy ways to entertain and still make food healthy (without your guest looking for all the fattening foods)!

I hope you were able to learn about some great tips and tricks for healthy entertaining. Here is my list of 50 Healthy Super Bowl Recipes everyone should make this weekend (well, ok, maybe not all 50 at once)!

  1. Avocado & Feta Dip from Katie’s Cucina
  2. Buffalo Cauliflower Dip from Mother Thyme
  3. Baked Corn Tortilla Chips from The Lemon Bowl
  4. Bangin Grilled Shrimp Skewers from Skinnytaste
  5. Kale and Artichoke Dip from Spoon Fork Bacon
  6. Candied Smoked Paprika Cherry Berries from Lipman Kitchen
  7. Easy Hot Black Bean Salsa Dip from Jeanette’s Healthy Living
  8. Thai Turkey Meatballs with Blueberry Sauce from KokoCooks
  9. Baked Vegetarian Southwestern Egg Rolls with Avocado Buttermilk Sauce from Katie’s Cucina
  10. Buffalo and Bleu Cheese Veggie Bake from Bake Your Day
  11. Roasted Cauliflower Hummus from Oh My Veggies
  12. Grilled Flatbread w/ Hot Italian Sausage, Peppers, & Caramelized Onions from Katie’s Cucina
  13. Quick-Roasted Asparagus with Parmesan Slivers from Cook the Story
  14. Asian Sweet Chili Baked Wings from Inspired Taste
  15. Eggplant Dip from Zaika Zabardast
  16. Smoked Paprika and Lime Spice Popcorn from Coupon Clipping Cook
  17. Savory Spinach Bites from The Curvy Carrot
  18. Artichoke Dip from Katie’s Cucina
  19. Baked Corn and Crab Cakes from Skinnytaste
  20. Crispy Baked Asian Chicken Wings from Just a Taste
  21. Turkey Sloppy Joe Sliders from Bev Cooks
  22. Watermelon Football Helmet from Watermelon Carvings
  23. Baked Buffalo Queso Fresco Wings from Katie’s Cucina
  24. Moroccan Carrot Dip from A Thought For Food
  25. Whipped Feta with Roasted Peppers & Garlic from Savor The Thyme
  26. Skinny Buffalo Chicken Dip from Gimme Some Oven
  27. Carne Asada Nachos by Foodness Gracious
  28. Mini Mexican Potato Skins from Katie’s Cucina
  29. Coconut LIme Wings and Mango Salsa from Oleander and Palm
  30. Brown Rice Greek Salad from The Lemon Bowl
  31. Amazing Shrapnel Dip from Mel’s Kitchen
  32. Moroccan Pork Kebabs with Sour Cream Dill Sauce from Katie’s Cucina
  33. Apple and Avocado Salsa from Family Spice
  34. Skinny Shrimp Salsa from Skinnytaste
  35. Sun-dried Tomato Hummus from bellalimento
  36. Individual 7 Layer Dip from The Girl Who Ate Everything
  37. Asian Turkey Meatballs with Chili Garlic Glaze from Aggie’s Kitchen
  38. Reduced-Guilt Caramelized Onion Spinach Dip from Bake Your Day
  39. White Bean Bruschetta from Katie’s Cucina
  40. Beef Nachos with Slow Cooker Chili Con Carne from A Spicy Perspective
  41. Watermelon Blueberry Salsa from Love & Olive Oil
  42. Grilled Key West Chicken Wings from Katie’s Cucina
  43. Homemade Hummus Two Ways from Table for Two
  44. Oven-Baked Zucchini Sticks with Garlic Chipotle Aioli from Damn Delicious
  45. Guacamole Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes from KokoCooks
  46. Baked Spicy Greek Yogurt Chicken Wings with Greek Yogurt Bleu Cheese Dressing from Katie’s Cucina
  47. Bruschetta with Shrimp, Mushrooms, and Green Garbanzo Beans from Bev Cooks
  48. Sweet Potato Tater Tacho Recipe with Black Bean Salsa from Culicurious
  49. Baked Oven Fries from Annie’s Eats

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Back in September, a few weeks before I left for Europe I was asked to appear on an episode of Life, Love, Shopping to film a short cooking segment. This was my first nationally televised apperance. It was taped as if it was live; however, it aired about a month later (while I was globe-trotting around the world). I never had the opportunity to share my first television appearance. I figured this was the most appropriate time to share since we are all starting to wrap our heads around all things football and the “big game” next weekend!

I think I did pretty good for my first televised segment. I also wanted to show viewers that you can entertain with ease and that you don’t have to serve all things fattening. That you can have a lighter menu and no one will miss the heavy mayonnaise laced dips!

Keep in mind, just one week later after filming this I was asked to do a cooking demo on The Daily Buzz (and that was taped LIVE as in no dropping F-bombs on national tv because there was no editing to be done)!

So if you are starting to already think about what to serve next weekend here are a few of my favorite recipes that were included in the segment I taped.

Grilled Flatbread With Hot Italian Sausage, Peppers, & Caramelized Onions

Grilled Flatbread w/ Hot Italian Sausage, Peppers, & Caramelized OnionsThink about creating a flatbread bar where all of your guest can create their own flatbreads. You won’t have to worry about the picky eaters or kids, because everyone will be able to find something that they like to eat!

Artichoke Dip

Artichoke Dip

This artichoke dip is light and healthy and contains no fatty mayonnaise! Perfect for a lighter chips and dip appetizer this football season. It also only takes about 5 minutes to make and the food processor does most of the work!

Grilled Italian Sausage With Grilled Sweet Peppers

Grilled Italian Sausage With Grilled Sweet Peppers

Simple to make and a crowd pleaser. You could even prep this before everyone comes over and just keep that warmed in the oven!

Mint Chocolate Chip Rice Krispie Treats

Mint Chocolate Chip Rice Krispie Treats

You can’t forget about dessert! Instead of using green dye use your teams colors and use a football cookie cutter to make football shaped rice kirspie treats!

What do you plan to make next weekend for Super Bowl?

*If you are looking for more football recipes… I’ll be on Good Morning Fox next Friday, February 1st at 9am sharing to awesome and easy recipes! Don’t worry if you don’t live in CFL I’m sure I’ll have a video to share on Katie’s Cucina!


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Do you love to travel? If your anything like me your always scheming of a way to travel at any given moment. The holiday season is in full swing and in case your plans don’t include jetting off to a vacation hot-spot you can re-create some of your favorite destinations (or destinations you dream of one-day visiting) in the comforts of your own home.

Mark Addison

I recently had the opportunity to interview, designer and entertaining expert Mark Addison. I asked him how us budget-friendly people can still throw a stay-cation bash without breaking into the vacation savings. I think we can all re-create those tiki bars and tropical drinks–all in the comfort of your own home with some of Mark’s tips and tricks.

1. Tell me about how to create a stay-cation party theme?

As with any theme you have to start with inspiration. Great inspiration for a stay-cation party can be found in the pages of your favorite travel magazines.  Choose a specific destination or you run the risk of your party becoming a cliché luau or a generic tikki party.

 

2. I love to travel and always maintain a strict budget. I do the same when hosting parties. Tell me how you recommend to throw a lavish party without breaking the bank?

Every budget conscious party planner begins with a comprensive party plan and a detailed budget to keep them on track, on budget and on time. Another cost saving tip is to look at what you already have at home that can be repurposed in unexpected ways; vases for food service, a festive throw or sarong as a tablecover, etc… Focus on decorative touches in areas of your home that your guests will frequent such as the front door, setting the tone when guest walk-in and in the bathroom as well (the two most visited places of the home).  The majority of your budget should be spent on food and beverages and using pre-prepared foods that you “spice” up can be a considerable time and cost savings.

 

3. How do you typically announce to your guest about the theme? Whether emailed or snail mailed, inviations are the first visual clue that you give your guests an indication of the theme and what is expected of them at the party.  Create a collage of your inspiration images in invitations to set the tone.  Travel themed invitaions such as passports and postcards can be very effective to set the tone with a little bit more work and creativity

The invitation is also is the place where you can request guests come in a particular attire to compliment the theme and if there are any special instructions you need to impart (i.e. prompt start time or prepared to participate in a specific activity)


4. Do you encourage others to dress the part?

The invitation is the place to request a specific attire; “flip flops and bathing suits” or “safari gear and ”.  Offer your guests a reward to dress the part, “come barefoot and beautiful to see what the future holds

 

5. Do you recommend guest bringing a dish or should the hostess do all the work?

Typically my hostess rule is if you are giving a party, then you really shouldn’t ask guests to “pitch in” or bring dishes unless your are clear that it is a pot luck dinner.  If your are set on having guests bring dishes, then very clear advance notice is required to insure guests won’t feel put off and will bring dishes that compliment the theme and each other.  Make a clear statement on the invitation that each guest is expected to participate and to what extent.

 celebrity-inspired holiday Stay-cation with Mark Addison

6. Do you have a particular stay-cation theme you enjoy most?

Living in New York, I tend to gravitate to a tropical destination theme like the Caribbean or an exotic themed destination such as South Africa.  Tropical and exotic themes offer the opportunity to serve frozen cocktails during the winter.  With Parrot Bay frozen pouches, making a frozen cocktail has never been easier. The time needed to prepare frozen cocktails usually takes away from the atmosphere. Parrot Bay frozen pouches makes it easy to entertain friends without the hassle of prep work and clean up.  They’re available in three different flavors – Strawberry Daiquiri, Mango Daiquiri and Piña Colada. You can glam them up with fresh fruit skewers* to compliment the three flavors. Create an interactive MYO fruit skewer station for the guest to get into the action and create their own drink garnishes.  The food should be specific to the exact destination as traditional food vary greatly from one tropical destination to another.  A classic ceviche* served with scrisp tortilla chips and Pineapple Shrimp Skewers are perfect for a tropical destination, while Cape Malay Sosaties* (aka kebabs) service with South African yellow rice* is ideal for an exotic destination. Theme the décor with items you may have around the house and summery beach towels and a festive sarong as table covers.  Brightly colored flowers and votives adorned with shells add tropical touches to the bar area and food stations.

Visit Mark’s blog to get drink and food recipes on the following themes:

For those who can’t travel this holiday season I hope this inspires you to throw a stay-cation themed party and enjoy a few comforts of vacation in the comforts of your own home.

Disclaimer: I was not compensated to interview Mark. I love to travel and entertaining and felt that this was a fabulous opportunity to share with my readers. 


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Father’s day is right around the corner and what better way to show your love to dad than cook him a nice meal! I know that’s the way to my daddy’s heart and that’s what I plan to do to show him my love and appreciation for him and all he does for my husband and I!

Start your meal off with a few tasty appetizers.

Candied Smoked Paprika Cherry Berries

Leek & Cheddar Dip

 

Next course up is the main event–make sure you make it spectacular. Try one of these recipes:

Grilled Italian Sausage w/ Grilled Sweet Peppers

Barbecue Beef Brisket 

Finish off your meal with a spectacular dessert that will knock dad’s socks off!

Banana Walnut Cream Cheese Cake

Apple Streusel Cheesecake Bars

 


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Y’all know that I’ve been into grilling lately–I can’t get enough of it. I was craving flatbreads the other week and picked up a package of Flatout Flatbread. I knew I could create some simple dinners utilizing leftovers and make them a bit more on the healthier side. I purposely made extra Grilled Sausage and Sweet Peppers knowing that I wanted to make a flatbread out of it.

Talk about an easy dinner after a crazy day at work–this is your magic ticket. I even entertained with this flatbread. Although, my first batch of flatbreads came out a little more on the crispier side since I wasn’t paying attenion to the time–and of course those are the ones I photographed. Pay no attention to that–these are quick and simple and can easily make 1 fabulous meal into 2 totally different and terrific tasting meals.

 

I mentioned that I entertained the evening I made the flatbreads. I have our neighbor over for dinner at least once a week and its almost always impromptu! On this night I fired up the grill, created a sumptuous flatbread and an even tastier salad with a homemade Italian vinaigrette *recipe soon to come. This is definitely one of those pantry meals–I used whatever veggies and meats I have leftover in the fridge. Although my salad was a little piece-mealed together it came out fantastic and I even had an avocado hiding out in the fridge that made our salad that much nicer. The sweet and spicy compliment each other in this flatbread and the cheese base of decadent Boursin garlic and herb soft cheese is tasted on each bite. Whether your entertaining or just looking for a simple dinner to make–give this recipe a try!

*I had to share this picture, too. I took this right after moving our flatbreads from where I was photographing to our little table in our outdoor living room where my neighbor and I ate dinner. This made for a great photo and I instantly had to snap a few shots to encompass how our impromptu dinners really look at my house!

 Katie’s Cucina original recipe.

Grilled Flatbread w/ Hot Italian Sausage, Peppers, & Caramelized Onions

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 7 minutes

Total Time: 22 minutes

Yield: 4

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Preheat grill to medium heat.
  2. In a frying pan preheat olive oil, add thinly sliced onions to the pan and cook on medium heat. Add the chicken broth and bring to a simmer until the onions have started to caramelized and all the juice has been absorbed (this will take about 10-15 minutes). Place the onions to the side. Follow the same steps for the grape tomatoes except you'll want to sweat these out and place them over high heat.
  3. Slice grilled hot Italian sausages in 1/4 inch pieces, chopped sweet bell peppers, and tear the basil.
  4. Begin arranging the flatbreads by smearing 2 tablespoons of Boursin Light Garlic & Herb cheese then sprinkle 1 tablespoon mozzarella and parmesan (each). Place the sliced Italian sausage, peppers, caramelized onions, and grape tomatoes equally amongst the 4 flatbreads. Then sprinkle each flatbread with torn basil; followed by 1 tablespoon each of mozzarella and parmesan cheese.
  5. Place on grill for 5-7 minutes with lid on for 5-7 minutes or until cheese is melted and flatbread is crisp not burnt.

Notes

*If your onions begin to burn during the caramelizing process lower the heat and add more broth.

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This is the first of three tomato inspired dishes for tomato week! My good friends (and the ones who are currently working on my blog re-design) told me about this recipe. They rave about it and say it’s probably one of the best things they’ve ever had. So of course it tempted me to want to make it. I bought all the ingredients (sans tomatoes since I had more than once could ever dream of having), and was ready to make this delectable appetizer (although it could easily be made into a meal). 

 The original recipe calls for a garlic-and-herb goat cheese. I’m not a fan of goat cheese nor is my husband, so I decided to skip that part and go with a softened garlic and fine herbs cheese (Boursin). Plus it was buy-one-get-one free, so I was happy to spend the $5+ on two packages of this tasty cheese.

 This tart is a labor of love. The onions really do take 20 minutes to cook. You want to cook them slowly and not rush the process or else you will risk burning them. I’ve made this tart twice now. Both times I loved it; however, the second time I stupidly picked up phyllo dough instead of puff pastry. It still tasted good but it was on the crunchier side. 



Source: Barefoot Contessa
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4 individual tarts

Ingredients:

  • 1 package (17.3 ounces/2 sheets) puff pastry, defrosted
  • Olive oil
  • 4 cups thinly sliced yellow onions (2 large onions)
  • 3 large garlic cloves, cut into thin slivers
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan, plus 2 ounces shaved with a vegetable peeler
  • 4 ounces garlic-and-herb cheese
  • 1 large tomato, cut into 4 (1/4-inch-thick) slices
  • 3 tablespoons julienned basil leaves

Directions:

1. Unfold a sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured surface and roll it lightly to an 11 by 11-inch square. Using a 6-inch wide saucer or other round object as a guide, cut 2 circles from the sheet of puff pastry, discarding the scraps. Repeat with the second pastry sheet to make 4 circles in all. Place the pastry circles on 2 sheet pans lined with parchment paper and refrigerate until ready to use.
2. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
3. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium to low heat and add the onions and garlic. Saute for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are limp and there is almost no moisture remaining in the skillet. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, the wine, and thyme and continue to cook for another 10 minutes, until the onions are lightly browned. Remove from the heat.
4. Using a sharp paring knife, score a 1/4-inch-wide border around each pastry circle. Prick the pastry inside the score lines with the tines of a fork and sprinkle a tablespoon of grated Parmesan on each round, staying inside the scored border.
5. Place 1/4 of the onion mixture on each circle, again staying within the scored edge. Crumble 1 ounce of goat cheese on top of the onions. Place a slice of tomato in the center of each tart. Brush the tomato lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with basil, salt, and pepper. Finally, scatter 4 or 5 shards of Parmesan on each tart.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. The bottom sheet pan may need an extra few minutes in the oven. Serve hot or warm.

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This is the last recipe given in the “meal set” from the awesome Cassoulet-Style Italian Sausages and White Beans I blogged about last week. I love caramel and pears and figured I would definitely go along with the dessert recipe that Pam wrote about. I made this dessert prior to dinner and let it cool in the fridge. I definitely did not leave enough time to let the pairs cool and because of this a lot of my whipped cream had semi-melted! I also did not have any brandy on hand, so I skipped that part! As Pam writes “If you like, omit the brandy; the moisture from the cream will soften the cookies.“. *I cut the recipe in half since I was only entertaining for 4. The recipe I’m blogging about is for 8 people. 

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes

Serves: 8


Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup packed dark or light brown sugar
  • 4 firm but ripe Bartlett pears, halved and cored
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 6 tbsp brandy or cognac, divided 
  • 40 small gingersnap cookies.
Directions: 


1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degree. 

2. Melt butter in a 13-by-9-inch pan in oven until nutty golden. Sprinkle brown sugar over butter, then place pears, cut side down, on sugar. Bake until pears are tender and sauce is thick and caramel-colored, about 40 minutes. Remove pears from sauce and pour sauce into a measuring cup (you should have about 1 cup; if not, boil to reduce or add water to equal 1 cup). Cool pears and sauce to room temperature. Cut each pear half into 8 chunks. 
3. When ready to assemble, whip cream to soft peaks in a medium bowl with an electric mixer, gradually adding sugar. Stir in 2 tablespoons brandy or cognac. 
4. Lightly brush 24 gingersnaps with some of the remaining 1/4 cup brandy. Arrange 3 cookies in each of eight goblets (I used white wine glasses). Drizzle each with a little of the caramel sauce and add a dollop of whipped cream and 4 pear pieces. Lightly brush remaining 16 cookies with brandy and repeat layering with 2 cookies in each goblet, caramel sauce, whipped cream, and 3 pear pieces. Repeat again with remaining caramel sauce and whipped cream. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 and up to 4 hours. When ready to serve, garnish with remaining pear pieces and a final drizzle of sauce.

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Yesterday, I wrote about an amazing new cookbook; Pam Anderson’s Perfect One-Dish Dinners: All You Need for Easy Get-Togethers.  Here is the appetizer I served prior to presenting my family with Pam Anderson’s Cassoulet-Style Italian Sausages and White Beans. I knew my mom would thoroughly enjoy this appetizer since she has a love for all olives. This was super easy to make, and very tasty. I would have never thought to put almonds, cream cheese, and olives together! All three ingredients are a match made in heaven! 


*If you haven’t entered yet, make sure you go HERE and enter to win a copy of Pam Anderson’s Perfect One-Dish Dinners: All You Need for Easy Get-Togethers.






Prep: 10 minutes
Serves: 2 dozen
Ingredients:

  • 1 jar Spanish Queen Colossal Olives
  • 24 roasted salted almonds
  • 1 block cream cheese
Directions:

1. Remove pimento from each olive and cut a thin sliver off the bottom of each olive so that it will stand up. 

2. Scrape an almond tip over cream cheese {to pick up a generous 1/4 tsp}.
3. Stuff almond into olive with cream-cheese tip pointing up. Set on serving tray and repeat with remaining olives. 


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