Memorial Day Sweets

Memorial-Day-4th-of-July-Labor-Day-Desserts-via-DiCorcia-Interior-DesignI have a huge sweet tooth! I eat relatively healthy throughout the day – usually a shake for breakfast, salad for lunch and lean protein for dinner – but towards the end of the day I always have to have something sweet! Usually it’s a piece of dark chocolate or some berries, but for holidays and special occasions I like to get a bit more festive (read: unhealthy) and jazz it up a bit!

I spent the better half of last night narrowing down my options, and these are my top 7 (although #5 doesn’t really count b/c it’s healthy!). Now the question is which one to make – they all look so good!

1. Fruited-Cheesecake Flag // 2. Raspberry Custard Brûlée // 3. Triple Berry Layered Lemon Cream Cake  4. Chocolate-Berry Meringue // 5.Fruit Pops // 6. Ombre Cake // 7.Mini Strawberry Short Cakes

My Favorite Salad

Beet-Goat-Cheese-Pecan-Salad“Favorite” is not a word I use often when describing food. “Top three” is more my speed. Top three favorite cuisines – French, Italian and Spanish. Top three favorite cheeses – chèvre, stilton and burrata. Top three favorite pastas – pappardella, cavatelli and gnocchi – and narrowing down those took me 4o minutes! So to label this salad as my “favorite” says something.

I’m not a dressing on the side kinda gal. A salad that serves as a meal needs to be a complex merriment of layered flavors, and fulfilling enough that I’m not hungry two hours later. This salad meets those requirements. A combination of roasted beets resembling little jewels, sweet and salty candied pecans, sour pickled red onions, velvety baby spinach, crunchy julienne carrots, creamy chèvre and a fresh lemon vinaigrette leaves me more than satisfied!

ROASTED BEET SALAD
Serves 2 as a meal, or 4 as a side.

Ingredients:

  • 1 small red onion
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 4 small beets, roasted
  • 6 cups baby spinach
  • 3/4 cup of julienne carrots
  • 4 oz. chèvre
  • 4 oz. of candied pecans (I like Emerald Glazed Pecans)
  • olive oil

Ingredients for vinaigrette:

  • 2 tbsp. of lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp. of good olive oil
  • 2 tsp. dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. of honey

Pickled onions

  • Place vinegar and 1 tbsp. of honey in a small pot and boil on low for 5 minutes. Place thinly sliced onions in a bowl and pour vinegar mixture on top. Let sit for at least an hour at room temperature or preferable overnight in the refrigerator, stirring occasionally. 

Roasted Beets

  • Preheat oven to 425°.
  • Remove top and roots of the beets and peel. Cut beets into 1″ chunks. Place on a baking sheet and toss with 1 tsp. of olive oil to coat. Add salt and pepper to taste. 
  • Roast until fork tender, around 25-30 minutes.
  • Adjust salt and pepper. Serve warm.

Vinaigrette

  • Whisk lemon juice, honey, and dijon in a small bowl. Slowly drizzle in olive oil, whisking quickly to emulsify mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste. 

Salad

  • Drain pickled onions.
  • Julienne carrots – or buy a bag already cut like I do 😉
  • Arrange spinach leaves on a platter.
  • Top with beets, onions, carrots, chèvre and pecans.
  • Drizzle with vinaigrette.
  • Serve immediately.

*You can also switch it up – pickle the beets and roast the onions!

Ginger Jalapeño Margarita

Ginger-Jalapeño-Margarita-DiCorcia-Interior-DesignIn celebration of my favorite weekday, I wanted to share this Ginger Jalapeño Margarita with you lovely readers. Wine will always be my first love, but as of late Billy and I have become quite the mixologists, thoroughly enjoying experimenting with different concoctions! A little bit spicy, a little bit sweet – jalapeño infused tequila, ginger cognac, fresh citrus juices and a tiny splash of cinnamon agave makes an incredibly refreshing drink!

GINGER JALAPEÑO MARGARITA 

Ingredients: 

  • 3 oz. jalapeño infused tequila (recipe below)
  • 0.5 oz. cinnamon agave
  • 1 oz. Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur
  • 1 oz. fresh lime juice
  • 0.5 oz fresh lemon juice

Instructions:

1- Combine all ingredients in a martini shaker.
2- Fill shaker with ice.
3- Shake until cold – about 10 seconds.
4- Strain into a martini glass and garnish with a slice of jalapeño or lemon curl.

JALAPEÑO INFUSED TEQUILA 

Ingredients:

  • 2  jalapeños, seeds removed and sliced
  • 1 1.75L bottle of Jose Cuervo Patron Silver Tequila

Instructions:

1- Place jalapeños in tequila bottle and let steep.
2- Remove jalapeños from the bottle after 2 days for a mild heat or leave them in as long as you dare (I never remove mine)!

*If you want to make these tonight and don’t have jalapeño infused tequila prepared, substitute a few drops of tabasco sauce.

I am not a big kitchen gadget person (automatic can opener? no thanks!) but this little contraption has won me over. It juices citrus fruits incredibly fast, allowing me to prepare a pitcher of margaritas in the amount of time it would normally take to make one – a definite plus!

Images via DiCorcia Design / Adapted from a drink I had at David Burke's Fromagerie

Healthy Granola

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Granola is one of those foods that is so much better homemade. This recipe is easy, healthy and much cheaper than buying it in the store! I like my granola over greek yogurt topped with fresh fruit. The fiber from the granola and protein from the yogurt keep me full and satisfied. Store in an airtight container and it will keep well for 2-3 months.

HEALTHY GRANOLA:
Yields ~ 3 1/2 cups

  •  2 cups of whole rolled oats OR quick oats
  • 1/2 cup of slivered almonds
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup of raw pepitas
  • 1/4 cup of shredded coconut
  • 3/4 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spices
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 cup of real Vermont maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons of honey or brown rice syrup
  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

Prep:

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Combine oats, almonds, sunflower seeds, pepitas and coconut in a large bowl. Mix well.
  • In a separate small bowl, combine spices, salt, syrup, honey and oil. Mix well.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.
  • Layer a sheet pan with aluminum foil and coat with a little cooking spray or vegetable oil.
  • Spread granola out on sheet pan evenly and lightly pat down.

Cook:

  • Bake for 15-20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes to ensure granola browns evenly.
  • Remove from oven and let cool.
Images via DiCorcia Design // Recipe adapted from My Father's Daughter

Moo-Shu Chicken Lightened-Up

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I grew up in Brooklyn surrounded by cultural diversity that afforded many benefits to my impressionable young mind. My family frequented an authentic Chinese restaurant down the road from our house regularly and Moo-Shu Pork was my favorite item on the menu. To be honest, the freshly killed ducks hanging in the storefront window probably generated my initial impression, but I still love Moo-Shu Pork to this day!

Traditionally prepared Moo-Shu Pork can be a bit cumbersome to make on a weeknight due to the construction of homemade pancakes and extensive chopping. This recipe has a few shortcuts like Mexican flour tortilla wraps in lieu of pancakes, a store-bought bag of coleslaw mix and this ridiculously easy method of cooking shredded chicken. It’s also lightened-up by substituting chicken breast for pork butt, and the option to use lettuce or flour tortilla wraps depending on your preferences and dietary restrictions (personally I like a combo of 1 and 1).

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MOO-SHU CHICKEN LIGHTENED-UP
Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of cooked shredded chicken (about 4 chicken breasts)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons hoisin, plus extra for serving
  • 3 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (about 2 medium cloves)
  • 3.5 ounces sliced shiitake mushrooms
  • 14 ounce bag coleslaw mix
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions (about 5 medium size scallions), reserve 1 tablespoon for garnish
  • 8 6″ flour tortilla wraps OR 8 large bib lettuce leaves OR a combo of the two (totally up to you!)

Prep:

  • Shred cooked chicken with two forks and set aside – I use Gina’s technique to cook the chicken, but you can substitute the chicken breasts with a store-bought rotisserie chicken.
  • Whisk cornstarch, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, hoisin and 1 of the 3 teaspoons of sesame oil in a small bowl.
  • Mince garlic and ginger.
  • Cut shiitake mushrooms into strips.
  • Slice scallions.
  • If using lettuce wraps, clean and prepare.

Cook:

  • Add the remaining 2 teaspoons of sesame oil to a frying pan (or wok if you have one) over medium high heat. Add garlic and ginger and sauté until fragrant, around 1 minute.
  • Add shiitake mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Add coleslaw mix and scallions to the pan and cook until vegetables begin to soften, around 5 minutes.
  • Add shredded chicken and liquid hoisin mixture, toss thoroughly.
  • Remove from heat and sprinkle with remaining tablespoon of scallions.

Serve:

  • If using tortilla wraps, place them on a plate and cover with a second plate. Microwave for 20 seconds, or until warm.
  • Serve moo-shu chicken alongside wraps of your choice and extra hoisin sauce.
  • To prepare wraps – spread extra hoisin on wrap (if desired) and place moo-shu chicken mixture on top. Wrap up and start eating!

*This is probably rudimentary, but prepping ingredients before you actually start cooking significantly increases your chances for a successful meal!

**My day-to-day is carried out based on a detailed check list, hence the bulleted list of instructions above. I find it easier to cook this way, but let me know if the bullets are driving y’all crazy and I will restructure my next recipe to follow a more traditional format!

Images via DiCorcia Design // Recipe adapted from Prevention

THE BEST OF LIFE IS AT THE TABLE

DiCorcia-Design-Best-of-LifeI picked up this cute little notebook at the book store a few weeks ago. The adorable illustrations are by designer Fumi Watanabe , whose enviable list of credentials include stints at Starbucks, Nike and Ikea. At less than $7 it would make a great hostess gift accompanied by a bottle of vino!

The title of the book is what initially caught my eye – The Best of Life is at the Table. I grew up in a family that takes food very seriously. Family bonding time was usually spent in the kitchen “discussing” the proper way to filet a fish or the consistency of the gnocchi. Luckily the tradition has continued into my own home. Most weeknights Billy and I get home from work and make dinner together. I start prepping the meal, he opens a bottle of wine and we talk about our day. Weekends are spent watching football games, going to check out a new art exhibit or entertaining family and friends. But food tends to be the motive behind most of these activities, considering many of our conversations usually go something like this: “The game is at 1:00, so let’s make French Toast Casserole and Mimosas for tailgating”, “Are there any new restaurants to check out by The Met?” or “Let’s make a big pot of Beef Bourgeon and have a few people over.” The best of life truly is at the table (or in some cases the parking lot of a football game;)!

In lieu of restaurant reservations we usually spend Valentines Day at home. As much as I love getting dressed up and going out to eat (see a list of my favorite restaurants here),  we’ve experienced one too many subpar “Valentines Day Menu’s” and rushed service. So tonight’s menu will start with:

Jalapeno-Margarita-Pea-Crostini-DiCorcia-Design Jalapeño Infused Margaritas and Pea Pesto Crostini,

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followed by Filet MignonGarlic Aioli French Fries and Roasted Asparagus,

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and the finale will be this heaven on earth, dangerously easy, Molten Chocolate Lava Cake.

I hope you have a wonderful Valentines Day!