Culinary Couture: Italian Stuffed Peppers

There’s nothing better than a home cooked meal on a Sunday, and I find that when I’m in to mood to chef on the weekends, I gravitate toward classic comforts, like roasted chicken and Italian dishes. One of my favorite dishes from childhood (which my parents picked up from my grandparents) is a gooey, bubbling, cheesy stuffed bell pepper. I re-create this one about once a month, and our little household can’t get enough. The easiest recipe in the world, ladies and gentlemen…

Detailed & Delighted // Culinary Couture: Baked Stuffed Italian Peppers

Reminder: your dish is only as good as your wholesome ingredients, so be particular!

Italian Stuffed Peppers:

You will need:

  • 4 large, rounded red (or green/yellow/orange) bell peppers (the sweeter, the better)
  • 1 lb lean (96%) ground beef {you can use ground turkey, if you prefer}
  • 1 package of organic Israeli cous cous (I like tri-color)
  • 1 jar of marinara sauce {flavor is up to you!}
  • Garlic salt, pepper, and seasonings to taste (red pepper flakes give these a nice kick)
  • Shredded skim mozzarella cheese (1 package)

Cooking Steps:

  1. Preheat your oven to bake at 450°
  2. Begin with your pound of ground beef – brown in a skillet , and season to taste (Garlic salt = life).
  3. Once browned through, set aside. Boil your cous cous according to the directions on the package, and simmer until all liquid has been absorbed. If you want a real flavor upgrade, you can simmer the cous cous in chicken or beef stock, instead of water – it makes a huge difference!
  4. On a cutting board, use a paring knife to carefully carve out the stem and surrounding ‘lid’ of each washed pepper. Pick out all seeds and other pepper matter inside, and rinse clean in cold running water.
  5. Spray a casserole dish or square baker (I use this square Le Creuset ceramic baker with a lid) with olive oil or cooking spray, and arrange the hollow peppers within it.
  6. Once the cous cous is finished simmering, add drained ground beef to the pot, and mix in the jar of tomato sauce. Bubble on low for 2-3 minutes, until all is mixed and simmering.
  7. Using a large tablespoon, spoon this mixture into each pepper, until full. Add a large pinch of shredded mozzarella cheese on top of each, and red pepper flakes if desired
  8. Bake at 450° for 40 minutes, until cheese is browned and bubbly, and peppers are soft to the touch.

Bon appetit!

Detailed & Delighted // Culinary Couture: Baked Stuffed Italian Peppers

Organic red peppers from the farmer’s market

Detailed & Delighted // Culinary Couture: Baked Stuffed Italian Peppers

Browning Ground Beef

Detailed & Delighted // Culinary Couture: Baked Stuffed Italian Peppers

Simmering tri-color cous cous

Detailed & Delighted // Culinary Couture: Baked Stuffed Italian Peppers

Hollowed out peppers

Detailed & Delighted // Culinary Couture: Baked Stuffed Italian Peppers

Mix in tomato sauce

Detailed & Delighted // Culinary Couture: Baked Stuffed Italian Peppers

Chloe, waiting until the Peppers have baked

Detailed & Delighted // Culinary Couture: Baked Stuffed Italian Peppers

Ta Da!

Culinary Couture: How to Make Indoor S’mores

Detailed &Delighted // Culinary Couture: Indoor S'mores!

NOTHING wreaks havoc on your cooking game quite like a full scale move – I’m currently without a functioning kitchen! Our utensils are likely in one of 300-ish moving boxes spread out around the living room, and I couldn’t tell you where any of the cast irons or pots + pans are at the moment. That said, a lot like Johnny Appleseed, I did happen to pack a single pot in my car during our move, and am strongly considering making the following this evening as an after-unpacking treat – what do you think? So quick and easy! Check out the video (and tons more like it) at PureWow, and get your marshmallow on…

Baked Stuffed Manicotti Con Manzo

“They say that gardens look better when they are created by loving gardeners rather than by landscapers, because the garden is more tended to and well cared for. The same thing goes for cooking. I only cook for people I love.”

– Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa

Baked Stuffed Manicotti // Detailed & Delighted

It’s true what they say about a home cooked meal: it’s the quickest way to show someone how much you love them. And in truth, this stuffed manicotti recipe is one the quickest (rapido!) dishes in my admittedly expansive Italian food repertoire. These fall into a category I like to call ‘schedule-saving meals’ – you can absolutely whip them up the day before (as in, on Sunday, when you’re not running from home to work to Yoga to a wedding meeting and the grocery store and then home again).

As per my usual, I’m incredibly particular about ingredients, because they are the building blocks of your dish – but you can find FANTASTIC local/organic ingredients just about anywhere, and they don’t have to be overpriced to be great! I’m a really big ‘Sprouts Farmers Market’ shopper, and Mollie Stone’s is a bay area gem as well.

Baked Stuffed Manicotti // Detailed & Delighted

Baked Stuffed Manicotti // Detailed & Delighted

Baked Stuffed Manicotti Con Manzo

You will need:

1 package manicotti pasta (fresh or boxed)

1 lb of extra lean ground beef, grassfed if possible

1 jar of your favorite pasta sauce (I use Rao’s or Mollie Stones’)

15 oz Fat Free Ricotta Cheese

Finely shaved parmesan cheese

Red Pepper flakes

Garlic Salt (dash)

Olive Oil

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 400°
  2. Bring 6 cups of water to a rolling boil in a large stockpot (Le Creuset works really well to boil quickly), and add in 3 dashes of garlic salt and roughly a tablespoon of olive oil (this will keep the pasta from sticking together later).
  3. Cook for 6-8 minutes, until pasta is al dente (for fresh pasta, follow instructions on the package).
  4. While pasta is boiling, brown ground beef with a few dashes of garlic salt in a sauté pan, and keep the chunks medium-sized (cook 5-10 minutes, until browned through). Remove from heat.
  5. Drain the pasta in a colander, and lay out in an olive oil-coated casserole dish to cool for 2 minutes.
  6. In a large bowl, combine the cooked ground beef, ½ the jar of pasta sauce, and 1/2 of the container of ricotta (in dollops – don’t blend!). Stir gently, to keep the meat and ricotta chunky.
  7. Stuff the manicotti with a small spoon, beginning at one end, and holding horizontally so the filling does not fall out. Once full, lay side by side in the casserole dish, until all manicotti have been stuffed.
  8. Pour the remaining pasta sauce over the casserole dish, and top with shaved Parmesan, and red pepper flakes for a bit of a kick (arrabiata).
  9. Bake at 400° for 30 minutes, until cheese and sauce are bubbly.

Buon Appetito!

Baked Stuffed Manicotti // Detailed & Delighted

Baked Stuffed Manicotti // Detailed & Delighted

Baked Stuffed Manicotti // Detailed & Delighted

Baked Stuffed Manicotti // Detailed & Delighted

 

Culinary Couture: Bay-Scallop Po’Boys with Kale Salad

In the mood for summer, and looking for a new twist on dinner? We typically stick to the protein/veggie/starch combo in our family 2-3 nights a week, but we’re always up for shaking things up with some seafood. These Po’Boy sandwiches, inspired by a Martha Stewart recipe, pack some serious punch with their spiced mayo and sweet Hawaiian bread buns. Easy to whip up and complement with a kale salad (we like red kale with goat cheese crumbles and avocado, tossed with lemon juice and ranch dressing), you can make them in under 20 minutes. Perfect for a work week evening!

Pro tip: buy scallops straight out of the seafood case at your local grocery store for ultimate freshness! They’re easier to toss in the breadcrumbs when they’re fresh as well.

Detailed & Delighted // Culinary Couture: Bay-Scallop Po'Boys

PREP: 20 MINS | TOTAL TIME: 20 MINS | SERVINGS: 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/3 cup light mayonnaise
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, plus lemon wedges, for serving
  • paprika
  • Hot sauce, to taste
  • Coarse salt (garlic salt works well!) and ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 pound bay scallops
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 4 ‘Sweet Hawaiian’ hot dog buns
  • 4 lettuce leaves (we like living butter lettuce)

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a small ramekin, combine mayo, chopped garlic, lemon juice, 1 teaspoon paprika, and a dash of hot sauce. Stir in garlic salt and pepper. Place in fridge to chill.

  2. In a medium bowl, combine breadcrumbs, flour, and a dash of paprika; season with salt and pepper. Add scallops, and toss in crumbs to coat thoroughly.

  3. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high, and add olive oil. Fry scallops, tossing occasionally, until golden and cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt, and remove from heat.

  4. Spread spicy mayo inside of buns, and line with a lettuce leaf. Add scallops, and serve immediately, with lemon wedges and kale salad on the side. Bon appetit!

Culinary Couture: 10 Tips for Creating a Perfect Cheese Plate

The cheese and charcuterie board is mainstay in our household – and as any of my friends can tell you, it’s my go-to party contribution and appetizer. You can prep a full spread of cheese and charcuterie beforehand, cover everything, and leave it in the fridge to chill while you go get ready. Magic!

A well composed cheese plate requires some thought, but when done correctly, will serve you equally well at a ladies night or a quick going-out pre-game (and is infinitely customizable). Have a good friend allergic to nuts (R, obvi…)? Swap them out for bitter dark chocolate pieces. Hate mustard? Replace it with pesto aioli or pink peppercorn jam.

Detailed & Delighted // Culinary Couture: The Perfect Cheese Plate

The Anatomy of a Perfect Cheese Plate

Here are our top 10 tips to make your cheese plate the best in the west:

1. Start with slate: there is no replacement for a good cheese slate or marble slab. When chilled, it will retain the cooler temperature, and keep your cheese from sweating/melting (yuck). We like this one, from Sur La Table ($42).

2. Curate your wine list BEFORE choosing cheese: this will help pave the way for organic pairings that are flexible, instead of having to hunt for cheese that ‘goes’ with your wine – which can be tricky! For a girls’ night, we’ll usually opt for a Cab Sauv (our favorite) like Stag’s Leap: Artemis, a good Pinot or Zin (feeling adventurous? Maybe try a red blend!) like Coppola, and a crowd pleasing white (a Sancerre, perhaps?) like Michael Redde et fils: Sancerre Les Tuilières.

3. Pick one type of cheese for each 2 guests: For a party of 10, I would typically choose 5 cheeses of different varieties. Here are my party go-to’s for the above wine list, in no particular order: Chèvre cheese log (goat, preferably with Blueberry coating but honey will do), Cowgirl Creamery Mt. Tam triple cream (cow), Cowgirl Creamery Humboldt Fog (goat, blue cheese), Dubliner or other Irish Cheddar, and a hard cheese, like a romano blend or soft blend asiago.

4. It’s all about the carbs: crackers? Bread slices? Mini toasts? Whatever you choose, make sure you balance sweet and salty, heavy and light. We like AkMak Australian crackers with a heavy creme Brie, and Raisin Rosemary Crisps with a punchy blue cheese. The ultimate combo of our dreams? Pretzel bread slices with blueberry chèvre. Divine. We may have done this last Friday night….

5. Accentuate like a pro: outside of the wine, cheese, and carbohydrates, you’ll want a few other pairing accents to complement the palette. Our typical favorites include nuts (unsalted for savory, salted for sweet pairings), Pickles (mini gherkins are the BEST. THING. EVER), olives, dried fruit (cranberries and apricots are popular), and chocolate. Bitter sweet or dark chocolate pairs really well with a number of cheeses, and is a great balance for the saltiness of the rest. You can also add in a few spreads, like the aforementioned aioli, rough grain mustard, or fruit spreads/jams to go with the carbs.

6. Meet the Meats: Charcuterie can be a daunting word, and implies an air of stuffiness. Our tip? Keep things light and Italian, and you cannot go wrong. Opt for thin cuts like Salumi, Capicola, Proscuitto, and Iberico ham (ok, that’s Spanish, but perfect). We like to layer the meats around the cheeses, to facilitate snacking from multiple parts of the cheese board. Keep them cold, and serve immediately out of the fridge. Trader Joe’s has a great starter pack of blended Italian meats for this purpose – definitely give it a try!

7. Hand everyone a small plate or cocktail napkin, and dig in! Seeing the hostess try the fare is a good indicator to your guests to start snacking. Okay fine, that was 3 less than ten, but after a few glasses of wine and some great cheese, who’s counting?!?

Bon Appetit!

 

Culinary Couture: Homemade Mac and Cheese

Detailed & Delighted// Homemade Mac and Cheese Recipe

There are very few people who dislike Mac and Cheese. It’s one of those favorite comfort foods that is rich and savory, and can be made in a single pot to share with your family (or eat by yourself on the couch!). Growing up, my FAVORITE was always the Kraft blue box with silly shapes – more pasta surface area within each bite. These days, I need a little less mass-produced packaging in my life, and a little more organic goodness. Enter: Whole foods. I shopped for all of the organic ingredients in this recipe there, but the real pièce de résistance was the fresh gigli pasta I found in their refrigerated section. It really made the dish fluffy and delicious.

We like this recipe a LOT in our household, because the cheese sauce is simple to make, and it’s easy to integrate a few vegetables into an otherwise indulgent dish. Test it out, and be prepared to be amazed – it’s exceptional!

Cook’s Tools:

Cast iron pan (deep!), Large colander, Cutting board, Chef’s knife, Deep pot for boiling, Wooden spatula

Ingredients:

8-ounces fresh pasta (gigli), uncooked
3 cups organic broccoli florets, Italian parsley (for garnish), and 1/2 organic yellow onion chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 free range chicken breast halves, cut into 1-inch pieces
salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
1 cup organic skim milk (or Lactaid)
1 cup organic chicken broth
1/4 cup organic all-purpose flour (wheat is fine)
1/8 teaspoon chili powder
1 cup organic shredded cheddar cheese

Instructions:

Cook pasta according to the directions on packaging.

Add broccoli florets to the pasta during the last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain, and set aside.

In the meantime, prepare the chicken. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 4 to 6 minutes, or until browned.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the milk, chicken broth, and flour. Add salt, pepper, and chili powder; whisk until well combined. Stir the milk mixture into the pan with the chicken. Cook 2 to 3 minutes or until sauce is thickened.

Add pasta mixture and cheddar cheese; stir until cheese is melted and continue to cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until heated through. Remove from heat.

Let stand 2 to 3 minutes. Stir and Serve. Bon appetit!

Detailed & Delighted// Homemade Mac and Cheese Recipe

Prep your ingredients and make sure you have what you need

 

Detailed & Delighted// Homemade Mac and Cheese Recipe

Prep your onion and chop into small diced pieces

Detailed & Delighted// Homemade Mac and Cheese Recipe

Brown your onions and chicken in olive oil

Detailed & Delighted// Homemade Mac and Cheese Recipe

Italian parsley works well, because its big and leafy

Detailed & Delighted// Homemade Mac and Cheese Recipe

Broccoli and Gigli boiled together

Detailed & Delighted// Homemade Mac and Cheese Recipe

Mixing the fresh cheddar into the sauce! Delish!

Culinary Couture: Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta

The holidays are over – there, I said it. Gone are the days of waking up early at my parents’ house to sneak a brownie before breakfast. The limitless cookie/dessert/cocktail supply has dwindled, and I find myself looking through more and more paleo/primal/green juice recipes than I know what to do with. Wah.

While I typically agree with ‘The Betches’ in their belief that dieting should happen silently (“sit there, eat your lettuce, and look sad. I don’t want to hear about your workout unless you faceplanted off the treadmill.”) – this post is going to err on the side of health conscious. Here’s the deal – when I found this recipe, I was totally skeptical, and frankly uninterested in anything that wasn’t buttermilk ice cream with a donut and funnel cake on top. And then I tried it. Consider me a convert.

Italian food tops my list of fantastic things, and traditional panna cotta is cool, creamy, and delicious. It’s also 90% heavy cream, egg whites, and sugar. This version is made with that veritable tabula rasa that I’ve been using as a healthy cooking substitute for the better part of a year now: plain nonfat Greek yogurt. It’s low cal, simple to make, and is guaranteed to curb your 10 pm sweet-tooth with far fewer consequences than a pan of brownie mix might. Try it with the homemade blueberry sauce (paleo friendly), or sprinkle it with honey and hazelnuts for a ‘Delarosa’ inspired dessert – toppings wise, the world is your oyster.

You can thank me later!

Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta, adapted from The Private Chef of Beverly Hills.

 Prep Time: 10 minutes, 3-4 hours to chill | Serves 4

Detailed & Delighted // Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta

Panna Cotta

Ingredients:

1 ¼ cups milk (soy/almond/rice/non-fat – your choice, I used soy)

1 envelope Gelatin (unflavored) OR 1 scant Tablespoon, depending on type

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/3 cup raw honey

2 cups (16 oz) non fat greek yogurt (I used plain, but honey or vanilla will work)

Blueberry Sauce

Ingredients:

2 cup fresh blueberries

4 teaspoons organic honey

1 teaspoon arrowroot powder OR cornstarch (your choice)

4 Tablespoons water

 

Directions:

To make the blueberry sauce, begin by combining blueberries and raw honey in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook for 5 minutes, until the berries begin to bubble and soften. In a small cup, mix cornstarch or arrowroot powder with water, and then add to the blueberry saucepan. Cook for 5 additional minutes, stirring every 60 seconds, until the sauce has thickened.

Spoon the sauce into the bottom of 4 small bowls or ramekins, and set aside.

Panna Cotta: in a small bowl, pour ¼ cup of milk and sprinkle 1 packet (or scant Tablespoon) of Gelatin over it. Set aside for 10 minutes, until gelatin becomes moist.

In a medium saucepan, bring the remaining 1 cup of milk to a gentle simmer. Add in vanilla and honey, and stir to combine. Add in the gelatin/milk mixture, and whisk vigorously until fully dissolved. Remove from heat, and stir in greek yogurt.

Divide the mixture into 4 small bowls or ramekins on top of blueberry sauce, adding more on top as desired. Refrigerate for 3-4 hours, until firm, and serve chilled.

Detailed & Delighted // Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta with Fresh Blueberry Sauce