A Bridal Shower and Pizza Puffs

Last weekend we threw a bridal shower for my sister so I had an opportunity to try a few new recipes. We featured mostly finger foods so guests could enjoy them while playing games and sipping on our signature cocktail for the afternoon. The spread included:

Nummy Pesto Sammie
Pizza Puffs
Double Broccoli Quinoa
Prosciutto & Gruyere Palmiers
Orzo with Everything Salad
Raspberry Lemonade Mini Cupcakes
Brownie Pops

These pizza puffs were well received and I personally enjoyed the bite size pizzas almost more then a regular pizza - which further supports my infatuation for all things cute and little. These would be great to serve for any party as an appetizer and they come together fast. The best thing is they freeze beautifully and your guests will never know :)

The bridal shower was a success and the bride was B&B (beautiful & buzzed) opening gifts and spending her last days as a single woman with good friends.

Pepperoni Pizza Puffs
24 mini pizza puffs
Recipe from Rachael Ray

3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup 2% milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
4 oz about 1 cup 4-cheese blend (Trader Joes) can sub mozzarella
4 oz pepperoni, small dice
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup pizza sauce (Trader Joes)

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder. Mix in the milk and egg. Stir in cheese and pepperoni. Turn oven to 375 degrees and let batter sit for 10 minutes while oven heats to temp.
When oven is ready, stir batter and fill 24 mini-cup greased muffin cups about 3/4 way full – sprinkle tops with parm cheese. Bake 20 - 25 minutes. Serve pizza sauce on the side for dipping.
Note: These can be made ahead of time. Place baked puffs on a baking sheet and put in the freezer until frozen about 25 minutes. Transfer to a storage bag. When ready to eat, preheat oven to 350 degrees, place puffs on a baking sheet, and bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until warm and heated through.

Orange Sherbert

One of my favorite ice cream flavors growing up was orange sherbert. There was always something about that bright vibrant hue of orange that would catch my eye. Back in the day when an ice cream cone was .35 cents was a real treat, now you can pay anywhere up to $5 bucks for it! My goodness - how old do I sound! Making it at home brought back all those loving childhood memories and then some. The sherbert was very refreshing and sweet but with a bit of tartness. Not so tart where your lips pucker, but just the perfect amount. I had an abundance of super tart oranges that were going to waste since they were too sour to eat, but made for the perfect sherbert. So depending on how sweet your oranges are, the results may vary a bit, but will be fantastic nonetheless. Enjoy!

Orange Sherbert

Recipe from Alton Brown
Makes about 1 quart

  • 7 ounces sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons finely grated orange zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice, approximately 2 to 3 pounds oranges
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups very cold whole milk*


In the bowl of a food processor combine all of the ingredients except the milk and process until the sugar is dissolved, approximately 1 minute. Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and whisk in the milk. Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator until the mixture reaches 40 degrees F or below, approximately 1 hour.

Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and process until it is the consistency of soft serve ice cream. You may serve now or transfer to a lidded container and place in freezer until firm, approximately 3 hours.

*I used 2%

Grilled Portobello "Benedict"

As I've mentioned before, breakfast is one of my favorite meals and this portobello "benedict" reminded me of the many reasons why I enjoy it so much. Anytime I order eggs benedict I can never seem to get past the over easy egg and always find myself eating around the yolk. This "benedict" however was right up my alley with the addition of pesto and scrambled eggs - YUM MAY! Substituting the english muffin for the portobello mushroom was a brilliant idea as well and added a bit of "meatyness" to the dish. Make your breakfast a little extra special and give this a try :)

Grilled Portobello "Benedict"

Adapted from Ellie Krieger, So Easy via Apple a Day Blog

cooking spray
2 portobello caps (about 4 oz. each)
1 tsp olive oil
4 slices Canadian bacon (1/8" thick)
Store-bought or homemade pesto, to taste
2 large eggs
4 large egg whites
1 TBSP milk or water
freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
2 tbs. freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
3-4 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade

1. Preheat a grill or grill pan sprayed with cooking spray over medium-high heat.

2. With a spoon, gently scrape out the gills from the inside of the mushroom caps, taking care not to break the caps. Brush both sides with the oil or spray with PAM olive oil and sprinkle both side with S&P. Grill the mushrooms until they are tender and their juices begin to release, about seven minutes per side or until cooked all the way through. Transfer each mushroom to a plate, top side down.

3. One the same grill or grill pan, cook the Canadian bacon slices until they are warm and grill marks have formed, about 1 minute per side. Place one to two slices of bacon on each mushroom cap. Spread pesto over the Canadian bacon.

4. While the mushrooms are grilling, whisk the eggs, egg whites, and water/milk together in a medium bowl until well combined. In a medium-sized skillet over medium-low heat, scramble the eggs until cooked through. Mine took about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and add basil and cheese.

5. Divide the scrambled eggs over the pesto and if so desired, sprinkle more cheese. Serve immediately.

Involtini di Pesce Spada - Stuffed Swordfish Rolls

I've been eating an obscene amount of glutinous food lately so I thought I'd make something healthier for a change. Apparently I'm trying to eat my way to utter oblivion so this dish stopped the madness. I had this meal for the first time when lobster and I were in Rome on our honeymoon. We ate at a restaurant called Sicilianbocca and the food was absolutely AMAZING. I still dream about our meals till this day. One dish I remember in particular were these stuffed swordfish rolls. They were thin slices of swordfish stuffed with raisins, pine nuts and cheese. I found a similar recipe online and it was a close rendition of the original but does not compare to the dish we had in Rome. Nonetheless, it was tasty, light and good for the waistline.

Involtini di Pesce Spada
Adapted from Epicurious
3 to 4 servings

For the involtini:
1/2 cup of breadcrumbs (freshly ground, if possible, made with day old bread with crust removed)
1 tbs of fresh young Pecorino cheese
2 tbs of grated Parmigiano reggiano
1 tablespoons pine nuts (pignoli), toasted
1 tablespoons raisins
1 cloves of garlic, diced
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
Freshly ground pepper
About 1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/4 pounds swordfish steaks, pounded thin*
Olive oil to fry

1. Place the breadcrumbs in a medium sized bowl. Add the Pecorino, parmigiano, pine nuts, raisins, garlic and parsley into a food processor and chop very finely. Toss together and season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.
2. Drizzle the mixture while tossing with 1 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and toss. The olive oil will help to hold the filling together but should not leave the filling soaked – use your discretion.
3. Flatten the swordfish slices further between 2 pieces of wax paper, pounding with the side of a mallet or heavy cleaver very gently so you don’t break through the flesh. Each slice should be about 5 1/2 x 3 1/2 inches.
4. Season each slice of fish with salt and pepper and spoon about 2 tablespoons of the filling on top of the fish. Be careful not to overdo it with the filling….a little goes a long way.
5. Fold in the sides of the fish. Tuck in the end nearest you and roll up the slice. Secure with a toothpick or kitchen twine
6. Repeat for remaining slices.
7. Brush some olive oil all over swordfish and season with salt and pepper. Prepare skillet at medium high and cook fish for two-three minutes. Rotate 90 degrees and cook one to two more minutes, then repeat twice to cook on all sides.
8. Plate and serve with slices of lemon

*Next time I think I'll try to freeze the fish for about thirty minutes and then slice it. Let me know if you try the recipe and it works out for you. Or ask the fish monger to slice it as thin as possible

Mesclun Salad Vinaigrette
Adapted from Ina Garten

2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Mix all ingredients together.

Feta Sun-Dried Tomato Turkey Burger Sliders

Feta, sun-dried tomatoes, and turkey. I don't know why I didn't realize I've made something similar to this in the past. I guess when you try a different recipe for every meal, some of them are bound to overlap - especially when they feature my favorite ingredients. If you've ever tried The Ultimate Meatloaf Sammie or the infamous 50,000 Burger, then you are sure to love these sliders. While the recipes are quite similar, the preparation and condiments are different so I thought it deserved its own NuM NuM post. These little sliders would make great party food and I think all things served in "mini-me" versions always please a crowd - or maybe just pleases me :D

While the burgers were full of flavor, I wasn't really a fan of the slider buns. While they were cute to look at, they were really dense so we removed some of the crumb and turned our sliders into turkey cups, which gave a better burger to bread ratio. These are also delicious topped with Trader Joe's Cheddar Jalapeno Pub Cheese which is HIGHLY ADDICTING if you wanted to forgo the aioli! Enjoy!

Feta Sun-Dried Tomato Turkey Burger Sliders
Adapted from Picky Palate
Makes about 10 sliders

1 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
10 oz ground turkey
1/4 Cup + 1 tbs crumbled feta cheese
2.5 tbs sun-dried tomatoes, jarred in olive oil, drained and finely chopped
1/4 Cup+1 tbs fresh baby spinach leaves, chopped
Pinch of Kosher salt, fresh cracked pepper and Garlic Powder with Parsley

Sun-Dried Tomato Aioli
1/4 Cup mayonnaise
1 Tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes, packed in olive oil, drained finely chopped
Baby hamburger buns or dinner rolls, split and warmed (Trader Joe's slider buns)
1/2 Cups fresh baby spinach leaves

1. Place turkey, feta, sun dried tomato, spinach and seasonings into a mixing bowl. Mix until just combined. Make a test patty and cook and check for seasonings. I had to add more garlic powder and S&P. Using a heavy duty baking sheet, remove meat from bowl and pat it down into a square using the baking sheet as your guide to about ¾-inch thick. Using a 2 inch cookie cutter cut out meat. Or you can also use a 1/4 cup measuring cup and shape into little patty’s and place onto a cookie sheet. Once all are formed, place under broiler and cook to 165. To broil burgers, turn the broiler to high in stove and let it heat up for a few minutes. Put the patties on the broiling pan and position the pan about 4 to 5 inches below the broiler. Flip the burgers once the first side gets brown, maybe about three minutes. Cook until the inside reaches the desired temperature. Or you can cook these on a grill or skillet using the 1 tbs of EVOO.

2. Toast buns then place mayonnaise and tomatoes into a bowl; mix to combine. Spread over insides of toasted warm rolls. Layer bottom roll with spinach and the burger. Close with top roll and eat.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake

Ever since I saw this dessert on Mel's Kitchen, I knew one day we would meet again. The hardest part about making a cheesecake is that it feeds an army! Which is fine if you have an army to feed, but when it's just the two of you, it's mucho difficult-o. I even cut the recipe in half and we still had 3/4 of it left. I served this for Valentine's Day and it was the perfect ending to the rich and hearty Osso Buco.

While I thoroughly enjoyed the cheesecake, I would have liked more of an even distribution of cookie dough balls in the batter, so I made my reflections below. While the cheesecake part was nice and tangy, some of my bites consisted of only cookie dough and it was a bit of an overkill - so I had to fish around my slice for an equal ratio of cheesecake to cookie dough. I think perhaps even using half the amount of cookie dough would work as well. Also during baking the top of the cake browned a bit too quickly - might have been due to cooking it in my toaster oven - but it did not affect the end result whatsoever. Rich, decadent and oh so sweet!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake
One 7-inch cheesecake
Recipe adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/4 cups chocolate cookie crumbs (I like to use chocolate Teddy Grahams but you could use any chocolate wafer cookie or even Oreos)

2 (8-ounce) blocks cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup sour cream (I used light and it worked just fine)

Cookie Dough:
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon water or milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup mini chocolate chips

For the cookie dough: In a medium bowl, combine the butter and sugars for the cookie dough. Add the water (or milk), vanilla and blend. Mix in the flour, salt and 1/2 cup of the chocolate chips. The dough will be fairly soft. Gently roll the dough into small balls (about a teaspoon size, maybe a bit larger) and place them on a wax paper lined plate or baking sheet. Place them in the freezer to harden while making the rest of the cheesecake.

For the crust: Lightly grease the bottom and sides of a 7-inch springform pan and wrap outside with foil to prevent any water from leaking into the pan. In a medium bowl, combine the butter with the chocolate cookie crumbs (you could easily use a food processor to crush the cookies and incorporate the butter). Press onto the bottom and about halfway up the sides of the prepared pan.

For the cheesecake: Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat the cream cheese, sugar, eggs until smooth. Add flour and blend until smooth. Add the vanilla and sour cream and mix just until blended. Be careful not to overmix – incorporating too much air into the batter can contribute to a cheesecake cracking on top during baking.

Pour half the batter into the prepared crust. Drop half of the cookie dough balls into the batter that is in the pan distributing them evenly in the pan. Gently stir in the remaining cookie dough balls and remaining half of mini chocolate chips into the remaining batter. Pour into the pan, spreading the batter to the sides of the pan and evening it out across the top (it is ok to see bumps of cookie dough here and there, smooth it the best you can). Place in a water bath using cold water. Bake the cheesecake at 325 degrees for 50 minutes to one hour. Cake should slightly jiggle in the middle. Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool completely on a wire rack. Refrigerate until chilled (ideally, overnight). To serve, cut into slices.

Recipe Source: adapted from Nate and Kylie W. (my brother and sister-in-law)

Osso Buco with Olives, Lemon, and Parsley

Lobster and I opted to stay in for Valentine's Day and dined at Chez NuM NuM. Our menu consisted of:

Bruschetta with Burrata and Heirloom Tomatoes
Osso Buco with Olives, Lemon, and Parsley
Rissoto Milanese
Sauteed Baby Broccoli
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake

Lobster always orders osso buco any time he sees it on a menu, so I thought I'd try to recreate it at home. I was a bit timid at first, but it turned out to be a total success! Ranked as one of the top recipes of all time on Epicurious, it was utterly foolproof. The meat was fall of the bone rich, tender, and juicy. The gremolata was a lovely surprise and a definite must since it cuts the richness of the meat. I did not try the bone marrow inside the veal shank ,but Lobster said it was delicious - it grosses me out - so I'll take his word for it. Risotto Milanese is the traditional accompaniment served with osso buco and it did not disappoint either. We finished our meal with a decadent Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake, not for the faint-hearted, and it was the perfect ending to Valentine's Day.

Osso Buco with Olives, Lemon, and Parsley

Recipe from Epicurious
Serves 2


For stew

  • 2 (10-12oz) meaty cross-cut veal shanks (osso buco; 2 to 2 1/2 lb total), each tied with kitchen string
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1.5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onions, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 small carrot, finely chopped
  • 1/2 celery rib, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 (15 oz) can whole plum tomatoes with juice (not in purée), coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata or other brine-cured black olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprig
  • 1/2 Turkish or 1/4 California bay leaf
  • 1 (2- by 1/2-inch) strips fresh lemon zest , cut crosswise into fine julienne
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste

For gremolata

  • 1.5 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated fresh fresh lemon zest

  • Special equipment: heavy ovenproof pot (wide enough to hold shanks in 1 layer)


Make stew:

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Pat shanks dry and season with salt and pepper. Divide shanks and flour between 2 large sealable plastic bags and shake to coat, then remove shanks from bags, shaking off excess flour. Heat oil and 1 tablespoons butter in ovenproof pot over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then brown shanks well in 2 batches, 10 to 12 minutes per batch, transferring to a plate.

Reduce heat to moderate and add remaining tablespoon butter to pot along with onions, carrot, celery, and garlic and cook, stirring, until onions are pale golden, about 5 minutes. Add remaining stew ingredients and bring to a boil, stirring. Arrange shanks in pot in 1 layer and return to a simmer. Cover pot and braise shanks in middle of oven until very tender, (about 2 1/2 hours) Remove strings from osso buco and discard along with parsley sprig and bay leaf. (If cooking day ahead – remove parsley sprig and bay leaf – remove strings just before serving.

Make gremolata and serve osso buco:
Stir together gremolata ingredients in a small bowl and sprinkle over osso buco. Serve immediately.

Cooks' notes: • Osso buco (without gremolata) can be made 1 day ahead. Cool completely, uncovered, then chill, covered. Reheat, covered, in a 325°F oven 30 to 40 minutes. (mine took a bit longer)

• Osso buco can also be cooked in a large roasting pan. Straddle pan across 2 burners for browning and boiling, then cover pan tightly with foil for braising.

*With leftover use pasta and eat with sauce too