Chocolate Birthday Cake

Today is a very special day in our household!

It’s my dog, Oliver’s 4th birthday. Oliver came into my life at a low point, and he has brought so much joy, love, and laughter into our lives. We really couldn’t imagine life without him. 

 In honor of his birthday, I am sharing my absolute favorite birthday cake recipe. If you have followed me along, you know how much I love cheesecake.

 Cheesecake has always been my choice of cake for my birthday, but last year I decided that it was time to change it up! So I celebrated my 22nd birthday with this amazing chocolate cake!

 This chocolate cake is the only recipe you’ll ever need. If you aren’t a big cream cheese frosting fan, no worries, use your favorite frosting and follow along with the rest of the recipe to assemble it.

 This rich chocolate cake is an oil-based cake which makes it extra moist and the cream cheese frosting helps balance out the sweetness of the cake thanks to the tanginess from the cream cheese. 

Anytime I bake, Oliver always joins me in the kitchen to scope out the situation, and of course to get a little treat. Cream cheese frosting is something he loves and knows that if he looks at me with those beautiful brown puppy eyes, he will get to lick the bowl!

 So Happy Birthday to the best dog in the world, Oliver! 

Come along and celebrate with a slice of this delicious chocolate cake.

 

Chocolate Birthday Cake
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Chocolate Birthday Cake
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Ingredients 

Chocolate Cake

  • ½ cup + 2 tablespoons canola oil

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • 1 cup brown sugar

  • 3 large eggs

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 2 teaspoons baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup buttermilk

  • 1 cup hot water

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Two 8oz. Packages of cream cheese, room temperature 

  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter, room temperature

  • 4 ½ cups of confectioners sugar

  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

  • 1 pinch of salt

  • 1 tablespoon of heavy cream

  • Assorted gel/food coloring

  • Assorted candies

Recipe

Chocolate Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350º. Grease  two 8-inch cake pans and flour with cocoa powder, set aside.

  2. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside.

  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat together the oil and both sugars on medium speed for 2 minutes.Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs and vanilla. Beat again. 

  4. With  the mixer on low, carefully add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Stop the mixer, and scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl, making sure there are any unmixed pieces. 

  5. With the mixer on low, stream in the hot water. Mix on medium-low until combined.

  6. Evenly divide the batter among the prepared pans. Bake for 23 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Let them cool on a wire rack before removing the cakes from their pans.

  7. Once they are cool enough to handle, carefully remove them from the pans and set them on a wire rack while you make the frosting.

Frosting

  1. In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk or paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together on medium-high speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. 

  2. Add the confectioners’ sugar, cream, vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt. 

  3. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to high speed and beat for 3 minutes until completely combined and creamy. 

*Add more confectioners’ sugar if frosting is too thin, more milk if frosting is too thick, or an extra pinch of salt if frosting is too sweet. 


Assemble

  1. Take 1 cup of frosting and divided into two small bowls, add your choice of coloring and mix it.

  2. Place 1 cake layer on your cake stand or serving plate. Evenly cover the top with non colored cream cheese frosting. Top with 2nd layer and spread remaining non colored cream cheese frosting on top and around the cake using a bench scraper or spatula.

  3.  Refrigerate for 15 minutes. Take your cake out of the refrigerator, and apply the colored frosting around the cake using again your icing spatula and bench scraper. Top with your assorted candies, if using. 


Pea & Mint Risotto

Going green in celebration of Earth Day!

This fresh and vibrant green Pea and Mint Risotto is luxurious while still being a light dish. It’s perfect for a weeknight meal, as it is very quick to whip up.

When the warm weather arrives, my backyard gets taken over by mint! All Spring and Summer long I have plenty of mint to cook, bake and make tea with. So this recipe helps utilize my garden’s herbs and celebrate this wonderful day! GO GREEN!


Ingredients 

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped

  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • 1-½ cups uncooked Arborio rice

  • 4 sprigs fresh mint

  • 4 ½ cups reduced sodium chicken broth

  • ⅓ cup white wine

  • 1/3 cup frozen peas, thawed

  • ½ cup parmesan cheese

Recipe

  1. In a small saucepan, heat the broth and keep warm.

  2. In a large nonstick pot, sauté onion in butter for 2-3 minutes or until tender.

  3. Add the rice, cook and stir 2-3 minutes. Add the wine, cook and stir until all of the liquid is absorbed.

  4. Stir in heated broth, a ladle at a time, stirring constantly. Allow the liquid to absorb between each addition.

  5. Meanwhile, in a blender, add the peas with a splash of water and blend into a puree.

  6. Cook until risotto is creamy and almost tender around 20 minutes. Add the sprigs of mint & the pureed peas. Cook until heated through.

  7. Remove the mint sprigs.  Add Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.

    Garnish with pea shoots or asparagus for an added bite.




Bacalhau à Brás (Cod fish with potatoes and eggs)

Tomorrow is Father’s Day in Portugal! In honor of my Dad, I have made his favorite recipe - Bacalhau à Brás, and one that he cooked often when I was growing up. Every bite brings me back to when I was a kid, seating at the dinner table and telling him that I hated olives! But now this is one of my favorites!

It’s such an easy recipe to do, cod mixed with onions, fries, and eggs. If there is a recipe to make someone fall in love with cod, it has to be this one! 

My Portuguese Mother // Bacalhau à Brás
My Portuguese Mother // Bacalhau à Brás
My Portuguese Mother // Bacalhau à Brás
My Portuguese Mother // Bacalhau à Brás
My Portuguese Mother // Bacalhau à Brás

Ingredients 

  • 1 pound dried salt cod

  • 7 tablespoons olive oil, divided

  • 1 1/2 pounds potatoes, peeled, cut into matchstick-size strips (about 6 cups)

  • Enough oil to fry potatoes

  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced

  • 8 large eggs

  • Salt

  • freshly ground black pepper

  • 4 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves, divided

  • 18 black or green olives

Recipe

  1. Soak the salted cod in water for 24/36 hours, changing the water 3 or 4 times – depending on the thickness of the cod

  2. Heat oil in deep heavy bottom pot

  3. When hot, add potatoes and fry until golden – you want the potatoes light golden not to crispy

  4. Dry on paper towel to get rid of excess oil

  5. Add the cod to a pot of water, bring to a boil.

  6. Lower the temperature and simmer the cod for about 10 minutes.

  7. Remove the cod pieces with a skimmer and onto a plate.

  8. Remove the skin from the cod and shred it, making sure to discard all the bones

  9. In a large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil. Add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes while stirring.

  10. Add the cod, mix and continue to cook for 5 minutes.

  11. Add half of the matchstick chips and mix.

  12. In a bowl, lightly beat the eggs with a pinch of salt and pepper.

  13. Add the eggs to the cod mixture and stir until the eggs are half-cooked.

  14. Add half of the matchstick chips, half of parsley and stir one last time.

  15. Remove immediately from heat to avoid overcooking the eggs

  16. Arrange in a dish.

  17. Garnish with leftover parsley and black olives.

Fennel Citrus Salad

I am a HUGE salad fan. I eat salad every single day! Boring, I know. But to make it exciting and delicious, I use a variety of different ingredients. One of my favorite ways is to add fruit to my salads. I like having a nice crushing bite of an apple or a refreshing orange, and it completely elevates the entire dish.

In honor of citrus season, I decided to highlight the citrus and add ingredients that would compliment them. Fennel is a great ingredient that I feel is not used enough! The licorice flavor is definitely not for everyone, but when paired well, it helps pull the entire dish together.

I used a mandolin to slice the fennel, as it is very fibrous, so slicing them very thin is the best way to eat it. In addition, the salad is topped with chopped pistachios, fennel fronds and drizzled with a light vinaigrette!

This dish is perfect for serving alongside a steak or a frittata for breakfast!

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Ingredients 

  • 1 cara- cara oranges, peeled & sliced

  • 1 grapefruit, peeled & sliced

  • 2 blood orange, peeled & sliced

  • 1 large fennel bulb, peeled & sliced

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil

  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice

  • 1 tsp. honey

  • ¼ cup. crushed pistachios

  • 2 tbsp fennel fronds

  • Sea salt

Recipe

  1. Halve and core the fennel bulb. Chop the fronds and set aside. Using a mandoline, carefully slice the fennel into thin slices. Set aside.

  2. Using a paring knife, remove peel and white pith from citrus, being careful not to remove too much of the flesh. Slice citrus into ½"-thick rounds.

  3. For the vinaigrette, using a small bowl, whisk the olive oil,  lemon juice, and honey together.

  4. To assemble, plate the citrus and fennel on a platter. Scatter the chopped pistachios and fronds over the salad. Sprinkle with sea salt and drizzle the vinaigrette. Serve immediately.

Citrus and Avocado Salad

I live in an area where I am lucky to have four seasons. My least favorite of all of them  has to be winter, from the cold to the mountains of snowfall each year, there is nothing I like about winter, except for citrus season.

Interestingly enough, citrus is at its sweetest during the winter. As it may be obvious, these citrus fruits are grown in temperate regions, such as California, Florida and Texas. Luckily for us, we can pick them up at our grocery store and celebrate the citrus season as if they were grown in our own backyards!

The best way to use citrus fruits in your meals during this season is to make them the star of the show. So, for this recipe, I wanted to keep it simple and compliment the balance of the sweetness of the fruit by adding  salted pistachios and  making a vinaigrette with avocado oil and lime. 

 This salad is a perfect pairing with fish, such as a grilled salmon or a great side to brighten up a steak dinner.

My Portuguese Mother // Citrus and Avocado Salad
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My Portuguese Mother // Citrus and Avocado Salad
 

Ingredients 

  • 2 cara- cara oranges, peeled & sliced

  • 1 grapefruit, peeled & sliced

  • 1 blood orange, peeled & sliced

  • 1 avocado, peeled & sliced

  • ¼ cup avocado oil

  • 3 tbsp. fresh lime juice

  • 1 tbsp. honey

  • 2 tbsp. crushed pistachios

Recipe

  1. Using a paring knife, remove peel and white pith from citrus, being careful not to remove too much of the flesh. Slice citrus into ½"-thick rounds. Cut the avocado into slices. Transfer to a medium serving platter.

  2. For the vinaigrette, using a small bowl, whisk avocado oil,  lime juice, and honey together. Drizzle over the salad.

  3. Scatter pistachios over the salad, finish with sea salt and ground pepper. Serve immediately.

Brownie Hearts

Who doesn't love a fudgy brownie!?

These fudgy brownies are so quick to make and come out perfect each and every time! Crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside, this recipe from The Smitten Kitchen is my ultimate favorite brownie recipe!

 Since Valentine’s Day is tomorrow, I decided to use a heart cut out for these brownies and packaged them up in a sweet festive box to gift to my loved one(s).

I used a 1 ½-inch heart shaped cutter, but you may use any size you want or just cut them into squares, if you wish.

There is nothing quite like receiving a homemade gift, so whip these up, give them away or keep them for yourself!! Indulge! 

My Portuguese Mother // Brownie Hearts
My Portuguese Mother // Brownie Hearts
My Portuguese Mother // Brownie Hearts
My Portuguese Mother // Brownie Hearts
 

Ingredients 

  • 6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped

  • 1 cup unsalted butter

  • 2 ⅔  cups granulated sugar

  • 4 large eggs

  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

  • 1 tsp flaky sea salt

  • 1 ⅓  cup all-purpose flour

Recipe

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and line a 9 X 13-inch pan with parchment paper, leaving a 1-inch overhang.

  2. In a medium heatproof bowl, melt chocolate and butter together in 30-second intervals in the microwave until the butter and chocolate are completely melted. Stir until smooth.

  3. Stir in sugar, then the eggs. Add the vanilla and salt.

  4. Pour batter into the greased pan, spread into an even layer.

  5. Bake for around 20-25 minutes, or until the toothpick comes out clean.

  6. Allow to cool.  Using the parchment paper overhang, remove the brownies out of the pan. Cut out the brownies with 1- 2-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter or whatever sized heart cookie cutter you have.

    Recipe by Smitten Kitchen

 

Piri - Piri Chicken & Crispy Potato Chips

One of the most classic Portuguese dishes is Frango Assado [Roasted Chicken].

Served with a side of rice, or crispy potato chips, this signature meal is found on every menu in Portugal. What makes it so famous is the way it is prepared, with lemon, olive oil, garlic, and the secret ingredient, Piri-Piri.

Piri-Piri peppers made their way to Portugal by ships from Mozambique and Angola, former colonies of Portugal. These hot peppers soon become a staple in many Portuguese dishes such as this one.

The peppers add a fiery note to this chicken that you’ll be wondering why you haven’t tried them out before.

They are also known as birds eye chili and are easily found in Portuguese specialty stores, but if you can't find them, substitute them for regular chilies, or cayenne pepper.

My Portuguese Mother // Piri - Piri Chicken
My Portuguese Mother // Piri - Piri Chicken
My Portuguese Mother // Piri - Piri Chicken
My Portuguese Mother // Potato Chips
 

Ingredients 

  • 1 whole chicken, spatchocked

Piri- Piri Sauce

  • 10 Piri-Piri Peppers (red eye or any other red chili peppers)

  • 100 ml olive oil

  • 4 garlic cloves, minced

  • 2 tsp. paprika

  • Salt & Pepper

  • Large bunch of parsley, plus more for serving

Crispy Potato Chips

  • 1½ pounds russet

  • Ice water

  • Vegetable oil, for frying

  • Salt and pepper

Recipe

Piri- Piri Sauce & Chicken

  1. Mix the chilies, olive oil, garlic, paprika, parsley, and salt and pepper, until it is all combined. Using a blender, blend half the mixture for the marinade, and preserve the half unblended mixture for basting.

  2. Place the chicken breast side down. Using kitchen scissors, cut the right side of the backbone, and repeat along the left side. ( you may save the backbone for future chicken stock or discard). Open the chicken, and turn over. Flatten the breastbone with the heel of your hand so that the meat is all one thickness.

  3. Place the chicken in a plastic bag or in a  large tray, pour half of the sauce over the chicken and allow it to marinade for an hour.

  4. Preheat the oven to 350 F.

  5. Place the chicken on a baking tray. Tuck the wings under the body of the chicken.

  6. Roast the chicken for a 1-1 ½ hour. For the last few minutes, turn on the broiler to crisp the skin of the chicken. Keep a close eye so the skin does not burn.

  7. Remove from the oven, baste with the remaining sauce.

  8. Garnish with leftover parsley, serve alongside, crispy fries, salad or rice.

 Crispy Potato Chips

  1. Using a mandoline or sharp knife, carefully slice potatoes about ⅛” thick. Place them in a large bowl of ice water. Allow the potatoes to sit for 30 minutes. Once the 30 minutes are done, drain, and pat dry.

  2. Heat up a heavy pot with a thermometer; pour in oil. Heat over medium-high until thermometer reaches 300°F.

  3. Working in batches, fry until golden brown and crisp, turning occasionally for an even cook, about 5-7 minutes per batch. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel–lined wire rack. Season with salt and pepper.





 

Heart Surprise Cupcakes

Valentine’s Day is only 5 days away and what a better way to show your sweetheart how much you love them than by making these cute cut out heart cupcakes.

I was inspired by the blog A Cozy Kitchen, which is one of my favorite blogs! Adrianna, not only makes the most delicious meals but also, photographs and presents them beautifully!

When I saw this cut-out heart cupcake, I knew I had to give it a try. I used her method and red velvet cupcake recipe for the cupcake.

I adapted it with my favorite vanilla cupcake recipe that is the ultimate go-to cupcake recipe! This vanilla batter creates a fluffy cupcake, that is an excellent pairing with the red velvet heart and of course, my favorite frosting of all time, cream cheese frosting.

The surprise heart will leave your loved ones speechless!

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Ingredients

Inside Heart

  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 3/4 cup buttermilk shaken

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 2 large eggs

  • 8 drops food coloring, less if using gel

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Vanilla Cupcake

  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar

  • 2 eggs

  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 2 1/2 cups flour

  • 1 1/4 cups milk

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature

  • 3 cups powdered sugar

  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream

Recipe

Inside Heart

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and line the bottom of a sheet baking tray with parchment paper.

  2. In a medium bow, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.

  3. In an electric stand-up mixer, with the paddle attachment, add the butter and sugar, beat until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Pour in the buttermilk, red food coloring and vanilla.

  4. Gradually beat in flour mixture on low speed until just combined.

  5. Pour the batter into the baking tray and spread the cake batter into an even layer. Transfer to the oven to bake for about 25 to 30 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean.

  6. Allow to cool completely. Stamp out hearts using a 1 1/2-inch heart cookie cutter.

Vanilla Cupcake

  1. Preheat to 375 degrees F.

  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the baking powder, salt and flour. Set aside.

  3. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time. Beat in vanilla. Turing the mixer on low, beat in the dry ingredients. Add the milk, and beat again until the mixer is just combined.

  4. Fill each cupcake tin with two tablespoons of batter, about halfway. Carefully, snuggle cut out hearts in the center of each cupcake batter, make sure to face them all the same way.

  5. Transfer to the oven to bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the white cake comes out clean. Cool in the pans on the wire rack.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and cream cheese until combined. Carefully, add the powdered sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and heavy cream. Beat again until all combined.

  2. Before frosting, it's important to give yourself an indicator to know which way to cut the cupcake. I lined them all in the same direction before frosting and then used a my sprinkle on top of the frosting to remind me which way to cut.

  3. Enjoy the surprise !


Adapted from A Cozy Kitchen


Roasted Citrus Salmon

Whether you follow a meatless Monday or just need a quick dinner recipe, this citrus salmon is the perfect go-to weeknight meal!

Cooked in under 10 minutes, the salmon is then topped with the easiest and brightest citrus salsa. Combined with lime zest and juice, it will cure all your winter blues.

Citrus Season is at its peak now, so this salsa is a perfect recipe to make use of oranges or grapefruits you might have around!!

My Portuguese Mother / Citrus Salmon
My Portuguese Mother / Citrus Salmon
My Portuguese Mother / Citrus Salmon
My Portuguese Mother / Citrus Salmon
 

Ingredients 

Salmon

  • 1 1-2 lb. salmon filet

  • 3 tbsps unsalted butter, softened

  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh herbs basil, cilantro or thyme, plus more for garnish

  • 1 garlic clove, minced

  • 1 tsp freshly grated lime zest

  • 1 blood orange, grapefruit or orange thinly sliced

  • salt & pepper

Citrus Salsa

  • 1 blood orange, grapefruit,  segmented and chopped

  • 1 orange segmented and chopped

  • 1 small shallot, diced

  • 2 tbsps fresh chopped cilantro

  • Juice & zest of 1 lime

  • salt & pepper

Recipe

Salmon

  1. Preheat the broiler. Line a baking sheet with foil.

  2. In a small bowl, mix the softened butter, chopped herbs, garlic, lime zest, and salt and pepper  together.

  3. Place your salmon on your lined baking sheet. Rub your butter herbed mixture on the salmon. Then, place your slices of citrus fruit on your salmon.

  4. Broil the salmon for 6-8 minutes, until your salmon is just opaque and your citrus slices are slightly browned.

  5. Flake your salmon, and serve with citrus salsa.

Citrus Salsa

  1. Peel, segment and chop your citrus and add them to a bowl. Add your diced shallot, cilantro, the juice and zest of 1 lime and salt and pepper. Mix until combined. Once your salmon is done, spoon your salsa over the salmon.



 

Pulled Pork

 Happy Friday!

I have your weekend plans covered with a delicious and juicy roasted pulled pork shoulder!

Dry rubbed with paprika, mustard and brown sugar; these spices create a crispy crust.

After cooling, and pulling apart, the pork is submerged in its juices, rehydrating the meat.

This recipe allows you to create a variety of dishes, like pulled pork sandwiches topped with pickled red onions and your slaw of choice, tacos or just as a topping on a nice bowl of rice!

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Ingredients 

  • 1 (5-7 lb.)  pork shoulder

  • 3 tbsp. paprika

  • 3 tbsp. Sea salt

  • 1 tbsp. garlic powder

  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar

  • 1 tbsp. dry mustard

Recipe

  1. Mix the paprika, garlic powder, brown sugar, dry mustard, and salt together in a small bowl. Rub the spice mixture all over the pork. Cover and refrigerate it for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight.

  2. Preheat the oven to 300° F. Place the pork in a roasting pan and roast it for about 6 hours, or until the pork is falling apart.

  3. Once the pork is done, transfer the meat to a larger platter and allow it to rest for about 10 minutes.

  4. While the pork is resting, deglaze the pan with ¾ cup of water over medium heat. Using a wooden spoon, scrape all the browned bits, and allow the juices to reduce by half. Once reduced, pour the remaining juices into a saucepan, and cook for 5-7 minutes.

  5. Grab two forks, and pull shreds of the meat off the pork shoulder. Put the shredded meat in a large bowl, and pour half the sauce over it. Stir well until all the pork is coated with the sauce.

  6. At this point you may add any barbecue sauce, serve as is in tacos, or burgers.

 

Raspberry Chia Seed Jam

Store bought jams are usually filled with  preservatives, and unwanted sugars, but making your own jam at home allows you to control what you are putting into it.

This superfood jam is made with 4 ingredients, and perfect for spooning over toast, crackers, oatmeal and yogurt.

The addition of the Chia Seeds not only adds more texture but adds an additional list of health benefits, such as omega-3 fatty acids, protein, fiber and antioxidants.

Make this jam and store it for the week for a quick topping for your breakfasts and snacks.

Tip: If raspberries aren’t your favorite berry, swap it for blueberries, blackberries or strawberries, or a combination of all.

 

 
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Ingredients 

  • 2 cups frozen raspberries

  • Zest & juice of ½ lemon

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons honey, agave, maple syrup, or sugar

  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds

Recipe

  1. In  a small saucepan over medium heat, add the raspberries, honey, lemon juice, and zest and allow it to cook until the fruit is thawed and the sauce is brought to a boil.

  2. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the chia seeds. Bring the pan back to the heat for 2-3 minutes until the jam has thickened.

  3. Store in jar for about 1 week. Serve over your yogurt, oatmeal, toast or waffles/pancakes.

 

Buckwheat Waffles

Eating a healthy breakfast doesn't mean you need to limit the good stuff!

Crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, these Buckwheat waffles are rich in flavor, filled with fiber and protein and are gluten free!

Easily frozen, making these waffles ahead for the week can ease your mornings!

Top them off with this deliciously tangy Raspberry Chia Seed Jam, or with yogurt or maple syrup.

 

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Ingredients 

  • 1 cup buckwheat flour

  • 2 tablespoon sugar

  • 1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • ¼ teaspoon salt

  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1 large egg

  • 1 ¼ cups buttermilk, shaken

  • 4 tbsp. melted butter

Recipe

  1. Preheat your waffle iron.

  2. In a medium bowl whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon together.

  3. In small bowl, or measuring cup, whisk the egg, buttermilk and melted butter together. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and whisk until just combined.

  4. Oil your waffle iron, pour the mixture into the heated waffle iron, cook the waffles until light and crispy.

  5. Serve with maple syrup, or with a dollop of raspberry chia seed jam.

*Waffles can be frozen up to 3 months. Allow them to cool completely, then transfer them to airtight plastic bag and place them in freezer.  To thaw, preheat a toaster oven, or a traditional oven and heat them until crispy.

 

Coconut Granola

Happy New Year!

Getting back into a routine after the holidays, or in my case after a trip is always difficult. This year, I spent NYE in Portugal, so my new year resolutions got slightly pushed back!

Now that I am officially back and in cooking mode, I am dedicating this month to healthy recipes and whole foods. Being Portuguese, I was raised eating a Mediterranean diet which if you haven’t heard is 2019 diet of the year!

So kicking off, I whipped up this quick granola recipe that can be enjoyed for breakfast or as a snack! This 8 ingredient granola could not be easier to make! Packed with nuts, chia seeds and big chunks of coconut, this recipe is also easily adaptable for your preferred flavors.

Once you try out this recipe and see how easy it is to make, you will never go back to store bought granola again!

 
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Ingredients 

  • 4 cups of rolled oats

  • ½ tsp cinnamon

  • ½ cup unsweetened large coconut flakes

  • 2 tbsp. chia seeds

  • 1 ½ cup sliced or slivered almonds

  • ¼ cup pistachios

  • ½  cup coconut oil, melted

  • ½  cup maple syrup, or honey

Recipe

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone matt or parchment paper.

  2. In a large bowl, combine the oats, cinnamon, coconut flakes, chia seeds, almonds, pistachios and mix to combine.

  3. In a small saucepan, heat the coconut oil and maple syrup until the coconut oil is completely melted and mixture is slightly warm. Whisking frequently, whisk  until the two mixtures are totally combined. Add the mixture to the dry ingredients, gently stir until the entire oat mixture is coated.

  4. Pour the granola onto prepared pan in an even layer. Bake until lightly golden, about 20-25 minutes.

  5. Let the granola cool completely. Break into clumps.

  6. Store the granola in an airtight container or sealed bag, at room temperature for 1-2 weeks or freeze for up to 2 months.

 

Cranberry Orange Chocolate Tart

First Monday of December, and I am in full holiday baking mode!

I’m starting the month off with this festive cranberry curd tart, made with chocolate graham crackers and a cranberry curd with orange juice and zest and topped with sugared cranberries!

This showstopper tart is sour and sweet and a great quick dessert to make for any holiday party.

Cranberries tend to be just a Thanksgiving time kind of berries, but since they are so good for you, I am on a mission to try to use them all year round. Thinking about adding them to a nice pork roast or even to a grain bowl If you have any ideas, let me know, and we will try them together!

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Ingredients 

Crust

  • 1 1/2 cups of graham crackers crumbs

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted

Filling

  • 8 oz. fresh or frozen (thawed) cranberries, plus 4 oz. for topping

  • 1 cup granulated sugar, plus 1/2 cup for topping

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1 large egg yolks

  • 1 tsp. finely grated orange zest

  • 1 tsp. finely grated lime zest, divided

  • ¼ cup fresh orange juice

  • Pinch of kosher salt

  • 6 tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into pieces

Recipe

Chocolate Crust

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

  2. In a food processor, pulse chocolate grahams until finely ground. Pour sugar and melted butter, pulse until mixture resembles wet sand.

  3. Place mixture into tart pan and press evenly into the bottoms and sides of the pan. Blind bake the crust by placing a piece of parchment paper, or aluminum foil on top of the crust. Pour in pie weights, or dried beans.

  4. Bake for 10-12 minutes

  5. Carefully remove the parchment/aluminum foil with the weights, or beans, and allow to cool.

Filling

  1. Bring 6 oz. cranberries, 1 cup granulated sugar, and ¼ cup water to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high. Reduce heat; simmer until cranberries burst and most of the liquid evaporates, 12–15 minutes. Let cool.

  2. Purée in a blender until very smooth.

  3. Cook cranberry purée, egg, egg yolk, orange zest, orange juice, salt, sugar, and 1/2 tsp. lime zest in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water.

  4. Stir with a rubber spatula and scrape down sides of bowl often, until curd thickens and coats spatula, around 10 minutes (might take a few minutes longer). Let cool until just warm.

  5. Using an electric mixer ,or whisk, beat curd.

  6. Add butter a piece at a time and incorporate after each addition until curd looks lighter in color and texture. Pass through a sieve, then scrape into crust and chill until firm, at least two hours 2 hours.

Cranberry Topping

  1. Bring ½ cup granulated sugar and ½ cup water to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add 4 oz. cranberries and cook until barely starting to soften, about 1 minute.

  2. Using a slotted spoon, transfer cranberries to a wire rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet. Chill until no longer sticky, 20–30 minutes.

  3. Toss remaining ½ cup granulated sugar and 1/2 tsp. lime zest in a small bowl. Toss cranberries in lime sugar.

  4. Top tart with cranberries as you like.

Braised Lamb Shanks & Creamy Polenta

First snowfall of the season and boy did it take us by surprise in New Jersey! 

There is probably nothing that I enjoy about the winter other than the excuse to stay in and cook! 

One of my ultimate favorite comfort foods are these beautiful Lamb Shanks. I think visually they seem a little daunting to people; however, this recipe is easy, foolproof and can make any beginner cook look like a master chef! 

The lamb shanks are rubbed with spices, and cooked in wine (oh yes), and served alongside creamy polenta.

The polenta is simmered to ensure a beautiful creamy and thick consistency that will absorb the sauce from the lamb.

If polenta is not your thing, egg noodles go exceptionally well with this dish!

Happy Weekend and Happy Cooking!

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Ingredients

Lamb Shanks

  • 3 medium lamb shanks

  • 4 medium onions, sliced

  • 6 garlic cloves

  • 4 tbsp of tomato paste

  • 3 tbsp of paprika

  • 1 bunch of parsley, coarsely chopped

  • 8 tbsp of butter, cut in small pieces

  • 1/4 cup of olive oil

  • 2 cups  white wine

  • ½ cup water + 2 tbsp

  • 3 tbsp of coarse salt & pepper

  • 3 bay leaves

Polenta

  • Kosher salt

  • 6 cups water

  • 1½ cups coarse polenta ( I used Bob’s Red Mills)

  • ¼ cup unsalted butter

  • ½ cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley

Recipe

Lamb Shanks

  1. Set the oven to 425 F

  2. In a mortar, grind garlic, parsley and salt into a paste. Mix in the paprika, pepper, tomato paste,  2 tbsp of water and olive oil.

  3. Rub the shanks with the mixture.

  4. Place the seasoned meat in a large roasting pan, top with sliced onions, bay leaves and butter.

  5. Pour in the wine and the rest of the water (½ cup) around the meat.

  6. Roast for 1 ½ hour , basting every half hour .

  7. Serve with Polenta.

Polenta

  1. In a large saucepan, bring 6 cups of salted water to a boil.

  2. Reduce heat to medium-low, whisking constantly, add in the polenta.

  3. Cook, and whisk often  until polenta is thick and smooth, 20–25 minutes.

  4. Season with salt and pepper. Add butter and ½ cup Parmesan to polenta and whisk until melted and incorporated.

  5. Serve warm, top with extra Parmesan.