Eggless Nutella Stuffed French Toast

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Last weekend a legend passed away: Michele Ferrero the owner of Nutella (not to mention the richest man in Italy) died on Valentine’s Day (of all days!!!). In his honor, I had to use Nutella this past weekend (let’s be honest, it was just another excuse for me to use Nutella). Recently my mom made me a delicious stuffed french toast, so I used the same concept and added a few delicious things.

When you hear French Toast, you probably think of something decadent and unhealthy. Don’t get me wrong, this is very decadent, but definitely not super unhealthy. Its a simple and satisfying item to make for brunch and it’s sure to please your friends and family!

Eggless Nutella French Toast:

  • 4 slices cinnamon-swirl bread
  • 3-4 tbsp Nutella
  • 1/2 cup fat-free half & half
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup cinnamon-sugar mix
  • PAM Butter Flavor
  • sliced strawberries
  • raspberries
  • cinnamon whipped cream (recipe below)

Cinnamon Whipped Cream:

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream – chilled
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp sugar

1. Spread about 1 tbsp of Nutella on each of the 2 slices of cinnamon-swirl bread. Top with the other non-Nutella sides to create a sandwich. In a shallow and wide plate pour in fat-free half & half and add in vanilla extract, mix. In another shallow and wide plate, add in the cinnamon-sugar mix. Lightly dip each side of the Nutella sandwich into the milk mixture, and shake off access. Dip each of the wet sides into the cinnamon sugar mix. Repeat for the second Nutella sandwich.

2. Spray a on-stick skillet with PAM and place over medium-low heat. Once the pan is hot, place in the french toast one at a time. Grill on each side for about 2 minutes. Remove, and cut in half on the diagonal. Top with fresh berries, whipped cream and powder sugar (optional).

Cinnamon Whipper Cream:

1. In a clean and chilled bowl, pour in heavy cream and using a hand mixer beat on medium speed until it becomes frothy then slowly sprinkle in the cinnamon and sugar. Continue to beat on high until stiff peaks. Wrap bowl in plastic wrap and place in fridge until ready to serve.

Eggplant Rollatini with Spinach Pesto

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This past Christmas we decided to relax at home and I cooked up a vegetarian Italian feast! I decided to make Eggplant Rollatini as the main dish, but of course with a twist. I first made a homemade marinara sauce using San Marzano crushed tomatoes the night before. I spiced up the traditional ricotta filling with a homemade spinach pesto and pine nuts. It was delicious and fairly simple to put together.

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Eggplant Rollatini:

  • 2 large Italian eggplants – cut into 1/8 thick long slices
  • salt
  • 1 cup plain breadcrumbs
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup lowfat buttermilk

1. Place the eggplant slices on a slotted cookie sheet/large colander. Sprinkle generously with salt on both sides. Let sit (I placed them in the sink), so all the moisture drains out – for about 15-20 minutes. Rinse thoroughly and pat dry with paper towels.

2. Place a large skillet over medium-low flame. Pour in olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan, and fill about 1/8 of the way up. Meanwhile, place the buttermilk in a large shallow plate. Sprinkle in the cayenne pepper and black pepper. Stir. In another shallow dish, add the breadcrumbs and basil – stir. Carefully dip each eggplant slice into the buttermilk, coat well on both sides, and then dip in the breadcrumb mixture. Press the breadcrumbs into each side, gently shake off excess crumbs. Place slice into the hot skillet. Place about 2-3 slices at a time – you do not want to overcrowd the pan, so adjust this based on how big your pan is. Cook about 3-4 minutes on each side until browned and crisp. Remove and lay on a play that’s lined with foil and paper towels to drain excess oil.

Spinach Pesto – Ricotta Filling:

  • about 1 cup baby spinach
  • 1 clove garlic
  • red crushed pepper
  • black pepper
  • salt
  • about 2 tbsp roasted garlic olive oil/extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 12 oz lowfat ricotta cheese – drained in a cheese cloth to remove excess liquid
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts – toasted
  • 1 tbsp grated pecorino

1. Place spinach, garlic, red crushed pepper, salt, and black pepper in a food processor. Pulse until relatively chopped. Turn to low and drizzle in olive oil and continue grinding until its a thick paste. Mix in the toasted pine nuts and grated pecorino, set aside.

 Assembly: 

  • 1 bunch of basil leaves (enough so each eggplant gets 1 leaf), plus some more for garnishing
  • 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella
  • 1 jar homemade/favorite store-bought marinara sauce
  • 1-2 balls fresh mozzarella – sliced into 1/4 inch thick slices

1. In a large oven-safe casserole dish, place about 1/4 of the homemade sauce on the bottom of the dish, and spread evenly to cover the entire surface.

2. Once the fried eggplants have cooled and drained, place each one gently on a clean surface/cutting board. Place about 2 tbsp of ricotta filling at the fat end, and gently roll making sure the filling is not squeezing out. Repeat with the rest of the breaded eggplant slides and then carefully place each roll in the saucy casserole dish close to one another until the dish is covered completely,

3. Pour the remainder of the sauce all over the eggplants, making sure to cover everything. Place a slice of fresh mozzarella on each rollatini. Top the entire dish with shredded mozzarella.

4. Cover with tin foil and bake at 350 degrees for about 10-15 mins, or until bubbling. Remove foil, and switch oven to maxi broil, and bake for a few minutes, until cheese its melted and slightly brown. Carefully remove, and let rest for 2 minutes before serving. Take the reserved fresh basil leaves, and tear over the top before serving.

Enjoy!

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Garlicky Broccoli & Brussel Sprouts with Almonds

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I love green vegetables (how can I not, I’m vegetarian!). I specifically loveee broccoli, spinach, brussel sprouts, asparagus, etc etc ETC. I had some fresh broccoli and brussel sprouts on hand, so I decided to combine them. Below is a super simple and fast side dish you can put together if you have these veggies on hand. If you don’t then you can always combine other greens – broccoli and spinach, or asparagus and brussel sprouts.

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Garlicky Broccoli & Brussel Sprouts with Almonds: 

  • 1 cup baby brussel sprouts – cleaned and dried
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 3-4 dried red chilies
  • 2 tbsp slivered almonds – toasted
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary – rosemary separated from the stem
  • 3 cloves of garlic – peeled and smashed, but should retain whole shape (not minced)
  • salt
  • pepper
  •  1/4 cup grated pecorino – for garnishing (optional, especially if vegan)
  • olive oil
  • PAM Olive Oil flavor

1. In a large skillet, spray with PAM and add olive oil (couple of tbsp), set over medium flame. Add in the garlic and chilies. Saute for a few seconds – we don’t want the garlic to burn. Add in the brussel sprouts and broccoli florets. Toss with the garlic and chilies and saute for about 3-4 minutes. Add in the fresh rosemary and continue sauteing. You’re going to be cooking this for another 10-15 minutes until the veggies are cooked through, not soggy. Generously season with salt and pepper. Taste.

2. Once the veggies are cooked through, add in the slivered almonds and toss. Remove from heat. Right before serving, top with the grated pecorino and serve immediately.

Burrata with Truffled Cherry Tomato-Basil Salad

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Does this really need an introduction?

Burrata with Truffled Cherry Tomato-Basil Salad:

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  • 1 fresh burrata cheese – good quality burrata is now available at Costco (Whole Foods sells the same brand)
  • 1 box fresh cherry tomatoes – can be any size box, no real measurements here
  • a hefty handful of fresh basil
  • black pepper
  • salt
  • 1 tsp red crushed pepper
  • 1-2 tbsp good extra virgin olive oil
  • about 1 tbsp good quality white truffle oil – I bought mine from Dean & Deluca
  • 1 Italian/French baguette
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • shaved dark chocolate (optional and it’s not pictured)

1. In a bowl, mix together the tomatoes, black pepper, salt, red crushed pepper, olive oil, truffle oil, and tear in the basil. Mix and let sit for a good 10-15 minutes so all the flavors can marinate together.

2. In the meantime, slice your baguette on a diagonal, rub the clove of garlic all over it, drizzle with olive oil and toast in an oven or in a pan until golden brown.

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3. In a large serving dish, place the burrata in the middle, and slightly score with a knife until it starts oozing. Toss together the tomato mixture and place around the burrata. Drizzle the entire dish with a bit more extra virgin olive oil and top the burrata with a sprinkle of black pepper and salt. Serve with the crusty bread.

4. If using shaved dark chocolate, when serving, top with about 1 tsp of shaved dark chocolate. The sweetness and bitterness of the chocolate combines nicely with the creaminess of the burrata and strong flavors of the truffle.

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Eggnog (Lowfat)

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Not sure if this needs any introduction at all, but that this was the first time I made Eggnog. I’ve generally not ventured into the realm of eggnog, as it is super fattening and most of the time it is raw (there are recipes where you can temper the yolks so they’re cooked, or a raw version). The recipe I created gives the look and feel of regular full-fat eggnog, but just healthier! It’s also very easy to make. I also used the leftover eggnog to make Eggnog Lattes the next morning!

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Eggnog (lowfat):

  • 4 large eggs – yolks and whites separated
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • About 1 tbsp granulated sugar (for egg whites)
  • 2 cups lowfat milk (I used 2% Lactaid Milk)
  • 1 cup Fat Free Half & Half (I used Landolakes Brand)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • Whip Cream – to serve (I used Redi Whip)
  • Ground Cinnamon – for garnishing
  • Shaved Dark Chocolate – for garnishing (optional)

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1. In a small sauce pan, pour the 2 milks in, add the cinnamon stick, and nutmeg. Simmer over low heat until heated through, fragrant, and slightly simmering. Remove from heat and let cool COMPLETELY.

2. Meanwhile, in a large clean bowl, whip together the yolks and 1/3 cup sugar on high speed until light, fluffy, and a pale yellow color. Once the milk mixture has completely cooled, pour into the yolk mixture slowly with the mixer on medium speed.

3. In another cool and clean bowl (preferably steel), whip the egg whites on high speed (make sure to use clean beaters), and as they start becoming fluffy, slowly add in the 1 tbsp of sugar. Whip until stiff peaks. Pour in the milk-yolk mixture into the whipped egg white while keeping the mixer on medium-low (not high). Mix until combined. Chill completely (I chilled it in the fridge for about 6-8 hours).

4. Once chilled, pour into a serving glass, top with whipped cream, garnish with a dash of cinnamon and shaved dark chocolate.

Enjoy!

Stuffed Italian Hot Peppers

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There are a lot of vegetables that are overlooked, especially when it comes to vegetables used in Italian cooking. My family (especially my dad) have always loved long Italian hot peppers – they’re usually offered at Italian restaurants in Staten Island. This Christmas when we decided to cook an Italian feast I decided I’d make these Roasted Italian Hot Peppers as we usually get, but stuffed with roasted garlic and bread crumbs. It’s super east to make and a wonderful side dish.

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Stuffed Italian Hot Peppers:

  • 6 fresh long hot Italian peppers – slightly slit in the middle
  • 10-12 cloves of garlic – peeled
  • a little more than 1/4 cup of plain bread crumbs
  • a little less than 1 tbsp dried basil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 tbsp fresh grated parmigiana
  • extra virgin olive oil

1. In a large skillet, pour in olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan and place over medium flame. Add in the cloves of garlic and saute for about a minute until the cloves become fragrant and start to cook. Add in the peppers and saute on all sides until slightly blistered and the skin starts peeling away.

2. In the meantime, mix together breadcrumbs, seasonings, and cheese. Set aside.

3. Place blistered peppers on a baking sheet, with the slit side facing up. Carefully place 1-2 cloves inside the slit of each pepper. Place the breadcrumb mixture inside the pepper with the garlic and generously on top. Drizzle with a generous amount of olive oil set aside (cover with foil) until ready to bake.

4. Place in an oven that’s been preheated to 350 degrees. Bake until breadcrumbs are golden brown. Remove and top with shaved parmigiana. Serve hot.

 

Rose Red Velvet Cake Truffles with Cardamom-Chocolate Ganache

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I don’t think these need much of an introduction, but just picture moist red velvet cake flavored with the delicate flavors of rose and en-robed in rich cardamom chocolate ganache. Yeah. Trust me, even those who don’t like “exotic flavors” (hate those people), will love these. Perfect for Holiday parties!

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I actually made these for a co-workers baby shower, and they were a hit! People were eating 2-3 at a time! :)

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Rose Red Velvet Cake Recipe

Chocolate Cardamom Ganache:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 8 oz dark chocolate 70% cacao or more- chips or block chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom, plus more for garnishing

1. In a saucepan, set the heavy cream over low heat and bring to a slight simmer. While that’s heating, place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Once the cream comes to a slight simmer, pour over the chocolate, vigorously whisking at the same time. Continue whisking until complete smooth and shiny. Add in the ground cardamom and let cool to room temperature before drizzling/dipping the cake truffles.

 

 

Spicy Veggie Quesadilla with Roasted Pepper Crema

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It was Mexican night at the Naik household this past weekend! We wanted something simple yet satisfying, and of course I just worked with ingredients that we already had on hand – was not about to venture out in the freezing cold for some nachos ya know. We decided on Quesadillas since we had a lot of tortillas on hand, and then just used some creativity.

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Spicy Veggie Quesadilla: 

  • 4 flour tortillas
  • 1 large yellow/orange bell pepper – thinly sliced
  • 1 medium red onion – thinly sliced
  • 1 medium white onion – thinly sliced
  • 1 jalapeño – thinly sliced into half moons
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 clove of garlic – minced
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 tbsp habanero chutney (store bought) – optional
  • reduced fat Mexican blend cheese
  • reduced fat pepper jack sliced cheese
  • handful of coriander – chopped
  • PAM/Olive Oil

Roasted Pepper Crema: 

  • a little less than 1/4 cup of jarred Roasted Red Peppers
  • 2 tbsp fat free sour cream
  • 1 small clove of garlic
  • 1 jalapeño
  • 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • splash of fresh lemon juice
  • salt
  • pepper
  • sprinkle of fresh coriander
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

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Quesadilla Filling:

1. In a medium skillet over medium flame, spray with PAM and add in a little olive oil just to lightly coat the bottom the pan. Add in the cumin seeds, allowing them to pop a bit. First add in the peppers, onions, and jalapenos. Saute for 30 seconds or so, then add in the minced garlic, habanero chutney, salt and pepper. Saute the mixture for another 5-8 minutes, until the veggies are slightly caramelized and cooked through by not soggy. Set aside.

Roasted Pepper Crema:

1. Add all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Taste for salt. Place in a squeezy bottle (optional).

Assembly:

1. Take one tortilla, rip the pepper jack slice in half and place on one side of the tortilla. Place about 2-3 tbsp of the filling on that side of the tortilla, and spread evenly. Top with some chopped coriander, sprinkle a generous amount of shredded cheese and fold over. Spray a skillet with PAM and place skillet over medium flame. Carefully place the quesadilla in the pan, and spray the top with PAM. Cook on both sides for 2-3 minutes, or until golden brown, crisped, and cheese is melted. Place on a cutting board, cut in 4 wedges, and place on a serving dish. Drizzle with a generous amount of the Roasted Pepper Crema, top with Pico de Gallo (optional), and serve with a side of Guacamole.

 

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Open Faced Paneer Sandwich with Avocado Cream & Pomegranate

 

 

 

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We had a little family gathering this weekend, and instead of making the usual appetizers, I decided to create something with food/ingredients that we already had in the house. The day before my mom had made an Indo-Chinese paneer manchurian, and we had tons of leftover. I also noticed that we had  pau or Indian buns, pomegranate, and avocados. I wanted to combine these ingredients, so I kind of just threw all this stuff together, and it came out great! I think this recipe is great as an appetizer, lunch, or snack! You can also make different variations, like sub in mint instead of coriander, or use tamarind chutney instead of the avocado cream. Enjoy!

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Indo-Chinese Paneer:

  • 1/2 package paneer – crumbled
  • 1/2 white onion – finely diced
  • handful fresh coriander – chopped
  • red chili paste
  • vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • 2 loves garlic – minced
  • 2 dried red cayenne chilies

Avocado Cream:

  • 1 avocado
  • 2 tbsp reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1/4 cup lowfat buttermilk
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • pinch of lemon zest
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped coriander
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil

Open Faced Paneer Sandwich:

  • 1 package Indian Pau Bread or 8 slices of white bread
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate arils
  • 1 Roma tomato – sliced into 8 relatively thin slices
  • 1 tsp chat masala (optional)
  • PAM Spray

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The Paneer:

1. In a medium saute pan, add in vegetable oil (about 1 tbsp), add the onions, garlic, ginger, and chilies. After about 2 minutes, add the paneer, red chili paste, turmeric, salt, and pepper. Saute for about 5-8 minutes, until paneer is softened and coated completely with masala. Taste for salt and seasonings. Remove from the heat, and add the fresh chopped coriander.

The Avocado Cream:

1. In a blender, add all of the ingredients, and blend until completely smooth. Place in an air tight container and in the fridge until ready to serve.

Open Face Sandwich Assembly:

1. Take the pau (or slices of bread), and using a small bowl or a 4 inch cookie cutter, cut out 8 circles – if using pau, cut each circle in half to create 1/2 inch thick circle pieces.

2. In a large pan, spray with PAM and place the circular pieces of bread in the pan and toast both sides until golden brown. When you take them out of the pan, immediately sprinkle with chat masala.

3. Dollop about 1 tbsp of avocado cream on each slice, top with a slice of tomato, then carefully top with a generous amount of paneer. Drizzle with more avocado cream and sprinkle with pomegranate arils. Serve immediately.

 

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Smorgasburg: Review

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A few weeks ago I went to Smorgasburg in Brooklyn for the first time! I’ve been trying to go for weeks, but never had the time. Finally, I was able to go with a few of my friends. We went to the Brooklyn Heights location and it was pretty cool! Set right by the Brooklyn Promenade, and if you’re a New Yorker, you know that the Brooklyn Promenade has awesome views of the city. Unfortunately, it was a humid and muggy day, so we weren’t really dressed appropriately for the occasion.

At first I was overwhelmed by the amount of people and food stands. We devised a plan to first scope out all of the stands to check out what foods were actually being sold. We quickly realized that everything was super expensive – minimum $4 for a drink and at least $6 for a food item – and all was cash only. Furthermore, we were all starving, so I wanted to make sure not to fill up on anything bad.

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Below is my review of Smorgasburg and some Quick Rates:

Quick Rates (1-10, 10 being the best):

  • Food: 7
  • Beverages: 8
  • Service: -
  • Ambiance: -
  • Price: 4

Now to review each piece of food I ate (and I ate a lot…):

Jack’s Chedbred: http://www.chedbred.com/

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I think this was my favorite item of the day – for $2 he gives you a large piece of moist cornbread, topped with a corn crumble. I loved the taste – could’ve used more spice in the jalapeno, but overall very tasty. I think for $2-3 though he could’ve thrown in a flavored butter or something a an accompaniment.

Pizza Moto: http://pizzamoto.com/

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Good pizza, over priced. I believe we paid $13 for an heirloom tomato and fresh mozz pie, cut into 4 slices. Definitely nothing extraodinary – I wouldn’t go back for seconds (but I’m also a pizza snob, given that I’m from NYC, and Staten Island has some of the best pizza). The crust was good and I liked that they offered to drizzle EVOO on top when it’s fresh out of the oven. However, to make it stand out and for $13, they should offer cool ingredients, such as truffle, fruit toppings, different cheeses, etc.

Takumi Taco: http://tacotruck.marketmymarket.com/

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This was by far my LEAST favorite dish. For $5 you get 2 small soft-shell tacos. I felt that the flavors were bland, and I really didn’t like this Asian-taco concept. I feel that if you are trying to fuse two cuisines together, then there should be very distinct flavors from both. However, I didn’t feel any particular Japanese or Mexican flavors coming through. I also felt that for $5, they could’ve given some chips and salsa with it.

Schnitz: http://www.schnitznyc.com/

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This along with the Chedbred was my favorite. I loved that a traditionally eastern European meat dish, was made availible to vegetarians. It was called The Yonz. It was a delicious and soft pretzel roll, filled with a crispy squash and corn schnitzel, jicama-fennel slaw, and honey-siracha mayo. It was packed with flavor, and for $8, they give you a pretty large sandwich. I loved the food and the value.