Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Fresh Broccoli Salad

Broccoli salad is a recent discovery of love in my life. It's fresh, sweet, tangy and perfect! If you can chop broccoli then you can make and believe me, once you do, you'll be wanting to make it everyday!

2 bunches of broccoli crowns ~ diced very small
1/2 cup of Veganaise (also Miracle Whip or Mayonaise could be used)
3 tsp of apple cider vinegar
2 TBSP of sugar
1/4 of an a sweet onion~ grated into a paste (or a diced red onion)
1/4 tsp salt
dash of pepper and garlic powder
1 tsp of olive oil
1/3 cup of raisins or dried cranberries
1/4 cup of sunflower seeds
1/3 cup of chopped bacon or real bacon bits
1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese

Whisk the Veganaise, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. Grate the onion into the sauce to give it it's flavor without the chunks of onion in the salad. (You can dice it up very small and toss it in if preferred) Taste to adjust seasoning to your liking. Pour over broccoli and add the final 3 ingredients. Stir to combine. Refigerate before serving. SO, so good!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Strawberry Vanilla Bean Cheesecake with a Lemon Cookie Crust

Three years ago, I was blessed with a daughter and my life has increasingly become filled with all things pink and girly! Because of my connection with my daughter, Alaina, I was inspired to host a Mother~Daughter brunch at our lovely Bella Cucina. It was a fun time with some of the mommies who are dear to my heart, their daughters and even some of their moms too! When planning it, I wanted to come up with something special to give all of the ladies coming but just couldn't pin point exactly what that would be. In the cookie aisle, while gazing at my favorite "Back To Nature" California Lemon cookie, it came to me! Wouldn't these make the best crust for a cheesecake! This cheesecake was a hit and made an already precious lunch with our little ladies even more of "girl's day out"!

Strawberry Sauce Ingredients:
3cups of strawberries
2/3 cup of sugar
1/3 cup of water
1/2 lemom
2 TBSPs of cornstarch

Add strawberries, sugar, water and the juice of half the lemon to a small saucepan. Simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add cornstarch and boil for a few minutes. Smooth in a blender. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Prepare a 9 inch springform pan
Lemon Crust Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups of ground lemon cookies
1/2 stick of butter
Zest of one lemon

Stir ingredients together and press pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Set aside.

Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees
Cheesecake Ingredients:
4~ 8oz packages of cream cheese at room temperature
1 3/4 cups of sugar
4 eggs
pinch of salt
2 TBSP of flour
1 pod of vanilla seeds (or just use 2 tsp of vanilla)

Whip cream cheese on high for 5 minutes. Stop and scrape down the sides and whip for 5 more minutes. This is to make the cream cheese light and airy. Combine all other ingredients in. Scrape down sides and stir. Pour onto the crust. Top with half of strawberry sauce and swirl with a knife or toothpick. Bake at 325 degrees for 65 minutes. Open oven door, don't move the cheesecake, for 15 minutes. Refigerate overnight. Serve with the remaining strawberry sauce drizzled. Enjoy!

*When cutting cheesecake, wipe the knife with a warm wet towel between slices* 

Bruschetta Stuffed Chicken

Beautiful, fragrant and delicious! And this meal is one of my favorite ways to use fresh basil from my fun, new basil plant I found at Wegmans! This chicken is simple to put together but gives you a gourmet meal to present to your family, which in our house helps alot when there are red and green "things" mixed in with their food! It's a great way to start off this great summer season.

Chicken Ingredients:
3 chicken breasts
Marinade- olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, 2 torn basil leaves
Butterfly 3 chicken breasts and marinate in olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and basil leaves. Refigerate for as long as you can.
(To butterfly a chicken breast, just filet it, slowly, across from side to side but stop before you slice clear through. You will be able to unfold it and have a wide flat piece.) 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Bruschetta Ingredients:
3 medium tomatoes
1/4 cup of mozzerella cheese
5-6 leaves of basil
dash of salt, pepper, garlic powder

Dice tomatoes and remove the wet seeds. Tear the basil into the tomatoes. Toss with remaining ingredients. Set aside.

Lay the chicken out, cut side up, and lay some of the bruschetta on one half of the breast. Fold the other side over and toothpick to secure. Repeat with other two chicken breasts. Bake at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes.