Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Prosciutto and Spinach Gnocchi

Fluffy, store-bought pillows of potato, slathered in a Parmesan cream sauce and topped with prosciutto and fresh spinach.  It's a delicious Italian dinner in less than 15 minutes, a perfect weeknight meal. Here's how it came together:

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 oz, thick sliced prosciutto, cut into strips
1 clove garlic, diced
2-3 tbsp chicken broth or dry white wine
1/4 cup skim milk
1/4 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
1 package store bought gnocchi (go gluten free!)
1/4 cup grated parmigiano reggiano
1 tbsp fresh basil chiffonade

Bring salted water to a boil on the stovetop.  While the water is coming up, start the sauce by crisping the prosciutto strips in a little olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-hi heat. Once crisp, add in garlic to saute lightly and reduce heat to medium so as not to burn.  When the mixture becomes fragrant, add the chicken stock to deglaze the pan.  Reduce for 2 minutes and add milk. Mix until it starts to bubble and then add the shredded cheese and stir to melt. Season with pepper (the cheese and pasta will be plenty salty so no need to add additional). Reduce heat to low and then drop the gnocchi to cook for 2 minutes in the salted water.  Once they start to float, strain and transfer into the sauté pan with the sauce.  Add the spinach on top, stir to coat until the spinach is wilted.  Top with the parmigiano reggiano and give a final toss. Plate and top with the basil chiffonade.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Sinful Cinnamon Toffee Pinwheels

Working on a few sweet treat recipes for a new contest, I came up with these little pinwheels.  These would be a great addition to a Sunday brunch or coffee meeting- a decadent bite with a crisp outer edge and chewy center.  Plus, using a store bought dough really cuts down on the prep time and (in my kitchen) the mess. Here's how they came together:

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg

2 tbsp melted unsalted butter
1 tube of Pillsbury crescent rolls
1/8 cup toffee bits
1/8 cup slivered raw almonds

Preheat the oven to 375°. Mix 1/4 cup sugar with 1/4 tsp salt and sprinkle liberally over a 13 x 13 space on a clean counter or work area.  Roll out the dough over the sugar/salt mixture, pinching the seams together to keep together as one sheet and using the rolling pin to spread the dough and push into the sugar.  Next, using a basting brush, liberally brush the dough with the melted butter.  Mix together the remaining sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg and sprinkle generously over the entire surface (you'll have some leftover which will be used to top the pinwheels when they are fresh out of the oven). Next, cover the surface area with the toffee bits and almonds.  Once the dough is evenly covered, roll the dough onto itself to form a log.  Using a sawing motion, cut the dough into 1/2 inch discs and place on a silpat on a cookie sheet, pressing each one down slightly to form more of a cookie than a roll.  Bake for 9-11 minutes until golden brown and the sugar has caramelized. Pull out the pinwheels, brush with the remaining butter and sprinkle some additional sugar/cinnamon mixture on top for a little sparkle and crunch!

Serve with a little cinnamon whipped cream - heavy cream whisked together with confectioner's sugar and cinnamon to taste. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Garlic Cheese Grits with Drunken Peppers and Sausage

Super quick weeknight meal with only a little prep - my kinda deal!   Two things that make this one cook up in a flash:  quick cooking grits and hot Italian sausage links.  Get out one large fry pan with a lid for the peppers and sausage and a sauce pot for the grits.  You'll be eating in 10 minutes flat!

Garlic Cheese Grits with Drunken Peppers and Sausage
Serves 4
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes


1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 large green pepper, thinly sliced
1 lb hot Italian sausage
1/2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
1/4 cup red wine
1/4 tsp fresh oregano

3 cups water
3/4 cup quick cooking grits
1 tbsp butter
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
1/2 tsp garlic paste
fresh cracked black pepper

Green onion for garnish

Start by coating the bottom of a non-stick fry pan with the olive oil and let it warm up over medium-hi heat.  In the meantime, get the water boiling in the sauce pan for the grits.  Add the sausage links to the center of the pan with oil and spread the sliced peppers and onions around the outside of the pan with a little bit of salt and pepper over the veggies.  Brown the sausages on both sides, taking about 3 minutes per to really develop good color and flavor. Once browned, hit the pan with the red wine and toss the vegetables around until equally coated.  Cover the pan and reduce the heat to let the veggies and sausage finish cooking in the liquid and steam. Stir in the chopped oregano at the end of the cooking process for a burst of flavor.

Onto the grits - once the water comes up to a boil, whisk in the grits, butter and salt.  Cover the pot, reduce the heat to a simmer and let it cook for 5-7 minutes (stirring occasionally).  Unlid, stir in the cheese, garlic paste, salt and pepper. 

Plate the grits first in a low bowl, slice 2 sausages in half, at an angle and place on top of the grits.  Spoon the veggies and sauce over everything and garnish with some fresh green onion.  Bon appetit!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Double Chocolate Gluten Free Cookies

On Saturday mornings, I like to sneak downstairs and turn on the Food Network to get some inspiration for the weekend. I see chefs and shows that aren't on weeknights so it's like a special little treat for me to kick off my weekend. This Saturday was even brighter because the theme was 'comfort foods'- isn't that what the weekend is all about?!  For those of you that missed it, Giada De Laurentiis did a little dessert that will now be archived into my index of cooking fame - Double Chocolate and Espresso Cookies.  Keeping on my gluten-free train, I modified the ingredients and baked them up before my husband was even out of bed.  Here's the original recipe and my swaps:

Double Chocolate and Espresso Cookies

Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis

Prep Time:
12 min
Inactive Prep Time:
Cook Time:
19 min
10 to 12 cookies


  • 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces (recommended: Ghirardelli)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup dark chocolate-covered espresso beans (I used a little less than 1/3 cup instant ground coffee)
  • 1 cup flour (I used Red Mill's Gluten-free All Purpose Flour)
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt (I used Kosher Salt)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (recommended: Nestle Toll House - I used Milk Chocolate)


Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats - my silicone mat worked like a charm for this recipe.  They slid right off with no trace of chocolate behind. 

In a small bowl, combine the chocolate bar and butter. Place the bowl over a pan of barely simmering water and stir occasionally until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth.
In the bowl of a food processor, finely chop the chocolate covered espresso beans (or instant coffee). In a medium bowl, whisk together the chopped espresso beans (coffee), flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.
In another medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, eggs, water, and vanilla extract. Gradually add the dry ingredients and stir until thick and smooth. Fold in the melted chocolate. Stir in the chocolate chips. Using a cookie or ice cream scoop, scoop level 1/4 cupfuls of the batter onto the prepared baking sheets (I used my small cookie dough scoop which yielded slightly smaller cookies, about 22-24 in total). Bake until slightly puffed and the tops begin to crack, 18 to 20 minutes. Allow the cookies to cool completely on the baking sheets and serve.

Thank you, Giada, for this amazing and simple recipe!