Pomodori Ripieni (Stuffed Tomatoes)

This is a traditional roman dish that is vegan, vegetarian and oh so delicious!

It’s a simple, quick summer dish to make and it even tastes better the next day. I know it might sound crazy that this would be a summer dish but it really just is.
So, if you find yourself with little time or rushing around with not enough time to dedicate to the kitchen I would say that this dish was designed specifically for you.
I wanted to share this recipe because even if it’s not something that I invented or something so known, it’s actually a very healthy and fast meal for either lunch or dinner. The original recipe calls for wedged potatoes to be baked along with the tomatoes but I left the potatoes out and made myself a side salad and or veggie dish. I really hope that you like as much as we did.

Here goes. Enjoy!

Pomodori Ripieni 3

Ingredients:
Serves 9

  • 9 Large Tomatoes
  • 9 Tbsp. Rice
  • 2 Garlic cloves
  • Few leaves of Basil &/or Parsley
  • Extra Virgin Olive oil to taste
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Rinse the tomatoes and slice the top off and set them aside to then use later to cover the tomatoes with.

Grab a medium sized bowl and with a spoon carefully scoop out pulp of tomato into it. Place tomato face side down and continue process until all tomatoes are done.
Now blend or chop up the pulp of the tomato and return to bowl. Add the garlic chopped finely to the bowl along with the evoo, basil, salt and pepper.
Now add the rice and mix all ingredients well, allow to sit for atleast 1 hour and 1/2.

Preheat your oven to 200°C (380° F).

Grab a baking dish drizzle some evoo and then place the tomatoes inside face up. Scoop rice inside each tomato and once completed top the tomato with the tomato tops you set aside.

Bake for an hour. And then you can either leave them to cool for the rest of the day or you can eat them right away. Either way I think they are delicious.

 

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My Gluten-Free Coconut-Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies

It’s been a fantastic week so far. We just got back a few days ago after a much needed mini-vacation from Florence and Montepulciano. It was so gorgeous, fun and extremely delicious. (I posted all the food pics on my facebook page).

I got back however and have been in a total baking mood which is odd for me as I don’t really care for sweets. Ok, well maybe that isn’t totally true I like fresh baked goodness, that isn’t too sweet and that is made from whole ingredients (healthier versions of what one would normally opt for). Yeah that seems about right.
I must say that my Husband must be rubbing off on me a bit because I do crave a little snack after dinner (which I generally never did) so now there is that part too. Or could it be age? Or women time? Whatever we’ll never know. All I know is that I am in a baking mood; so baking healthy things has definitely been in my adventurous/guessing/inventing/substituting daily routine of perfecting healthy yummy sweet things and this recipe is one of them.

Did I mention these are Healthy. Gluten-free. Delicious. Good then now we can move to the recipe. Enjoy!

Ingredients:Makes about 14 cookies

1 cup Peanut Butter

1/4 cup Honey

2 tbsp. Coconut Oil, hardened

1/2 tsp. Vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. Baking soda

1 egg white

2 cups Shredded unsweetened Coconut

1/2 cup Dark Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven @ 350°
Mix all ingredients in a bowl except Chocolate chips. Roll medium-small sized balls and place on a baking sheet flatten out a bit with your hand sprinkle with Chocolate chips & bake for 10-15 min.

Enjoy!

*Optional:
Substitute Peanut Butter for Almond Butter, also you can use smooth or crunchy depending on the texture you want.

Coconut Peanut Butter Cookies

 

 

Frittata ai Fior di Zucca

I love this time of year. And finally the crazy busy summer schedule has subsided, I have sometime off to focus on myself and my amazing Husband.

There is one thing that I truly enjoy about this country that somehow always makes me smile; the Farmers. They care so much about the whole vegetable/fruit and make sure that they work hard under the hot sun just so we can enjoy a delicious, juicy, pesticide-free and healthy vegetable and/or fruit. I particularly love going to the Market and just figuring out what I’m going to make by seeing what they have. They will explain everything to you; from how to cook it and eat it to when it’s going to be out of season and when it will be back, how it’s supposed to look when ripe and when it’s unripe. It’s a fascinating subject to me and I just love everything about it.

I had my first day off since April and I finally was able to go back to the market in tranquility without rushing around. I started looking at what vegetables where out and what I could potentially use for dinner. Before my Husband took off for work that morning, he had mentioned that he would like to have eggs for dinner as it had been quite a while since he had had them; so with that thought in mind I figured it would be a frittata kind of dinner with some sort of vegetables and fresh baked bread.
As I looked around the Market I spotted one of the most sophisticated & prestigious vegetables and knew that I was going to get them: Fior Di Zucca (which means Zucchini Flowers) 

Here in Italy it’s something that is generally dipped in a light batter and then fried. But I knew that there had to be a healthier way to make them and considering how delicate they are I knew that it’s would have to be perfect in a frittata. I got to talking with the farmer Lady and explained my idea and she looked back at me and said ‘Perfetto, sara buonissimo’ (which means Perfect, it will be delicious). With that she gave me a tip, she told me to not cook them before the egg, to lay them on-top of the egg because being so delicate I wouldn’t want to over cook them. She proceeded to tell me that it had unfortunately happened to her once. Ha!

I went home happy about my purchase and excited to be using Fior di Zucca for the first time. It came out delicious. Seriously, might have been the best frittata I have ever tasted. It was a proud moment that night when my American Bacon and Eggs Husband said that these were the best eggs he ever had and to add them to the roster of things to cook.
Yes, sometimes it’s the simplest things in life that give us the biggest satisfactions! I hope that you enjoy this recipe as much as we did.

Ingredients:

6 Fior di Zucca

6 eggs

3 tbsp. Parmigiano Reggiano, grated

2 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

S&P to taste

Delicately wash your Fior di Zucca and set aside to dry. Once dry slice them in half.

Place a medium sized skillet over medium heat (make sure that you have a cover for the skillet very important) add the olive oil and allow to heat.
In a small bowl crack your eggs, whisk and pour into your skillet. Gently add your Fior di Zucca, sprinkle salt and pepper and cover allowing to cook gently for about 5-7 minutes. Uncover sprinkle the parmigiano and by now you should see the consistency of the egg.
If it’s cooked turn off and serve, if it needs more time cover back up and allow to cook until egg isn’t runny anymore.

Something Sweet & Simple: Nectarines with whipped Honey Mascarpone

I’m in need of summer comfort food right now. Today I got a rhomboid muscle strain or spasm, which pretty much is in the upper back inbetween the shoulder blades which hurts immensely; but what hurts more than anything right now is the fact that I am going to have to be on pause with the whole working out factor because I just can’t and simple put: WORKOUT!! (that’s me shouting…I am so disappointed).

I know this isn’t the end of the world and that this is happening for a reason, as I have been working 12 hours 7 days a week non-stop since June and will continue till September (which is why I haven’t been blogging as much) but I haven’t stopped working out; OK well maybe I went from working out 6 days a week to 5 days a week but I have been on a roll, no matter how tired I am I still make time to work out and now I can’t even if I wanted to!! 😦

I guess I just have to deal with it, like many things in life this isn’t the worst thing that could happen but it is going to be tough to get out of this routine that I so much love. I guess its also a form of therapy for me and I just am afraid of not doing it anymore. And more so for how long I won’t be able to workout because as research shows it could take quite a few weeks to heal. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that mine will be only a couple of days.

With all that being said I just need something sweet and simple (other than the hubby) to comfort me that isn’t too heavy or fattening (as seeing that I can’t workout) but that can still hit the spot and this is exactly the dessert I am talking about. It’s totally seasonal, refreshing and so fast to make that you could whip it up without having to whip yourself out of shape (pun intended).
You can make the nectarines the day before or the morning of or whenever just make sure to allow them to sit for a bit. Enjoy!

Ingredients:Serves 4

For the Nectarines:

  • 4 Nectarines
  • 2 tbsp. Honey
  • 3 tbsp. Cointreau
  • 1 tsp. powder Ginger

For the Mascarpone:

  • 250 gr. Mascarpone
  • 3 tbsp. Honey

Slice the Nectarines and place them in a bowl with rest of ingredients cover and place in fridge for atleast 2 hours.

Once you’re ready to serve whip the Mascarpone with honey until smooth, a minute of two.

Serve your Nectarines topped with a few dollops of Mascarpone.
*If you like you could top with some Graham Cracker Crumbs, Crispy Granola, Nuts or just leave plain; you decide. Ciao

Nectarines with Honey Mascarpone

Dark Chocolate Covered Strawberries and 29

Well, this is my Birthday week. It’s my last year in the 20’s and although I really don’t feel any different, I am looking forward to what this year will hold for me in all senses.
I have to be honest I am actually happy to be getting older. I feel sexier, healthier and definitely way more comfortable under my own skin than I think I have my whole life or at least since I was 15 when things were easy and simple.

I have gone through so much in the past 9 years I think I could write a book.
I’ll tell you the top 9 things that happened to me since I turned 20; seeing that I’m turning 29 I’ll put one down for each year in my 20’s.

  1. I got married 9 years ago to the most amazing person ever. Not only is he intelligent, handsome, courteous, thoughtful, humble, funny and understanding. He also makes me smile every single day, his faith in me and support are things that I can only thank God for. I know that I am lucky and I will strive forever to be the best wife/friend/woman I can possibly be for him but mainly because I need him in my life (so for me)!
  2. I moved to the States 9 years ago, leaving behind my roots and following my husband along with what ended up being an amazing experience allowing me to become cultured in all aspects of life all the while sharing my experiences with a wonderful man by my side. I started my whole life from scratch, moving from Georgia to Florida back to Georgia. In this time I found some amazing people that are still close friends, I had a wonderful job, and I became a US Citizen.
  3. I got to see alot of the US; New York, Miami, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Washington DC, San Francisco, Napa Valley, Beverly Hills, LA, California, Savannah, Atalanta, Delaware, Annapolis, Charleston, Wilmington NC, Raleigh, All the Keys, Hilton Head SC, Tampa, St. Petersburg FL, Clearwater FL, Boston, St. Augustine. How lucky am I! All of which are unique and beautiful. I found something I love in each city.
  4. I learned a lot about health, from very Normal Eating to becoming a Vegetarian to Veganism, back to Normal Eating with a more wholesome, organic and biological aspect. I am thoroughly in awe about how much there is to discover in this aspect of life. Nutrition is a passion of mine.
  5. I was able to hang out in some of the best clubs in the USA with amazing DJs from Pete Tong, Tiesto, Armin Van Buuren, Paul Van Dyk, Eric Morillo, Deep Dish, Flosstradamus, Steve Aoki, Kaskade, etc….I also got to see Velvet Revolver play at Mansion in Miami; as well as (ok, hang on……) Hoobastank, remember “The Reason”, well I loved that song and they played in St. Petersburg, Dave Navaro again down in Miami, Bengi Madden with Paris Hilton (yeah back when they were dating), etc…
  6. I became a Yogi. I love Yoga the way it makes me feel is something out of this world. My favorites are Ashtanga, Power Yoga and Vinyasa. It really has strengthened my body. I also started with Pilates and find that the mixture between yoga and pilates is a fantastic combo. Not to mention that 6 month ago I started the Tracy Anderson Meta Program and this has been the best challenge became addiction, I can’t live without her 6 days a week. My Body looks better than ever.
  7. I wanted to go to an Island for some relax, sun and romance with my Husband. We did! Yes, it was Maroma in Cancun Mexico. What a paradise that was I mean the powder white sand, the massage in a cabana over the sea at sunset with only the sound of the waves, the lobster candlelight dinner with our own little cabana out in the middle of the sea, the bubble rose petal bath, the pool on our balcony overlooking the sea with champagne, the amazing fresh fish fished everyday and cooked to perfection, and all the romance that surrounded us the whole 7 days.
  8. We wanted to move to Italy and not save that on a bucket list, so we decided to sell all, quit our jobs and move to Italy. Has it been a journey, I mean coming back home and bringing back my amazing Husband has been a reward of a lifetime, challenging but rewarding. I love my country and it’s such a different experience to see it with him. We are taking full advantage of the farmers markets, fresh foods, wines and amazing cuisine. We went to Tuscany, Positano, Florence, Venice, Cinque Terre, Verona, Rome just to name a few. Oh man, I’m falling in love with my country more and more.
  9. Oh, did I mention we went to Paris. Yeah, such a gorgeous country. Okay I know that this is a lot of countries, but if there is one thing I love (and Thank God my husband does too) is to travel, we really love to take trips and see things that we will be able to enjoy now that we are young. We are making the most of our lives. So that when we have kids we can sit back and relax. (or enjoy their craziness). Ha!

Now, back to the recipe of the day (or that I will eat for my Birthday). I think it’s perfect because you can maintain your summer figure without giving up on a delicious dessert and still reap the benefits and nutrients that your body actually needs from the Strawberries and Dark Chocolate. This is definitely a favorite of ours and also just so simple to make. I usually make about 250gr. and save them in the fridge for about a week in an airtight container. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

250 gr. Strawberries, washed and patted dry

1 bar Dark Chocolate (I use 70%)

Parchment Baking Paper

Get a smaller pot fill with water only about a little over a quarter, place over medium heat bring to a boil. In the meantime get a smaller bowl (make sure it’s strong enough to withstand heat glass or ceramic should do the trick) that will be able to fit in the pot, get your chocolate bar and break it up placing inside of the bowl.

Once the water is boiling lower heat to a minimum and place the bowl with the chocolate inside give it a few minutes and you will see that the chocolate will start to melt, stir gently with a spoon and when it’s completely melted you may turn off heat.

Prepare a flat dish with the parchment paper laid out on top of it and now grab your strawberries, dip one by one and lay gently onto the parchment paper. Place the strawberries in the fridge for about 20-30 minutes then eat. Or leave them in the fridge until ready to eat. Simple.

The method I used to melt the chocolate is called Bain-Marie you can learn more here

Cherry Tomato & Asparagus Strozzapreti

Asparagus season has been taken full advantage of this year in my house. I have consistently incorporated it for the past month in as many meals as possible, which I’ve mentioned in my other post here. Whether it was the star or the side it was there.

I tried to be as creative with it as possible. Not just steaming, grilling or blanching it and serving as a side veggie but I really tried to let it shine on its own and give the dish that amazing, subtle flavor that it so pleasantly has and which I love.
My darling Husband loves his pasta. Sometimes I think that he is more Italian than I am when it comes to this food in particular; he could eat it everyday (like most Italians). So, of course I made a delicious pasta dish that incorporated his favorite (Fresh Tomato and Basil sauce mainly known here as Salsa Fresca) with a twist of Asparagus in it. It turned out nicely and was easy as can be. Let’s not forget HEALTHY as well!

I used Strozzapreti in this dish but any pasta will be just fine.
Strozzapreti meaning Priest Strangler in Italian is a typical pasta from my region in Italy, Romagna. Known for being the poor man’s pasta, it requires discreet and simple ingredients, it’s cut into strips about 1-1.5cm wide and about 5cm long.
There are several legends about this pasta and where the name derives from one of them being that the women would stay home and prepare this homemade pasta and offer it to the town Priest; making the Husbands angry and wishing that the Priest choke on the pasta.   Another one is that the reason why this pasta is made without eggs is because the Priest would take the eggs away and the Housewife would have to make the pasta without eggs and while the woman was kneading the pasta she would wish the Priest would choke on the eggs that she would’ve used to make the pasta for her family.

Lot’s of theories and stories behind this pasta, I think it’s delicious and was a perfect choice for this dish. Enjoy!

Ingredients:
Serves 2

200gr. Strozzapreti

6 Cherry Tomatoes

200gr. Asparagus

1 Garlic clove

6 Basil leaves

3 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Grated Parmigiano Reggiano (as much as you like)

Place a pot of salted water to boil.
In the meantime cut your cherry tomatoes in half. Grab your garlic clove, peel and lightly press down on it with your knife (just so it can open up a bit).

In a large saucepan over medium heat add the Olive oil, once the oil is hot add the garlic and wait about 1 minute before you add the chopped tomatoes. Allow to cook about 2 minutes.

Now grab your asparagus and chop about the same length of the pasta that you are using. Add to the tomatoes, stir all ingredients and allow to continue to cook at low flame. All in all I’d say 10 -15 minutes. Add your salt and the basil leaves. Stir and continue to cook.

By this point your water should be boiling throw in the pasta and follow cooking instructions on the package. Strain and add to the tomatoes and asparagus, mix well and serve. Enjoy.