Honeyed Cambozola Tartine

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Since I always like to stay true to my word, I am sticking to the nectarine theme with a new tartine. (Ha! That totally rhymes and I love it!) These are super simple to assemble and the flavors are incredible. I have to say that Cambozola is one of my absolute favorite cheeses on the planet! It is a cows milk cheese that is a decadent combination of camembert and gorgonzola. I always seem to be attracted to spreadable-creamy type cheeses, and this soft cheese incorporates some aged blue cheese that really adds a kick of pungency and sharpness, which pairs beautifully with sweet nectarines. It is an appetizer that hits all over your palate and truly melts in your mouth. I make this for friends as often as I can, because it is always a winner and nicely compliments a glass of bordeaux or a crisp chardonnay. Anyone up for a wine and cheese party?? 

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Honeyed Cambozola Tartine

Serves 4
A toasty baguette w/ creamy Cambozola, ripe nectarines, and sweet honey!


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Prep Time
10 min

Cook Time
13 min

Total Time
23 min

Prep Time
10 min

Cook Time
13 min

Total Time
23 min

Ingredients
  1. Half of one baguette, 15 slices
  2. 2 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
  3. 2 ripe nectarines, thinly sliced
  4. 5-7oz Cambozola cheese (or any blue cheese that you like), sliced in 15 segments w/ rind removed
  5. 2 green onions, chopped (green parts only)
  6. 1-2 TBSP organic raw honey
Instructions
  1. 1. Preheat oven to 400. Place the baguette slices on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil. Bake the toasts for 8 minutes.
  2. 2. Place the thinly sliced nectarines on each toasted baguette (I used 2 slices of nectarine on each). Top with a slice of the Cambozola and then place the sheet back into the oven and bake for 5 more minutes so that the cheese melts and the nectarines soften. Remove from the oven drizzle with honey, garnish with chopped green onions, and serve immediately.
Tip
  1. I like to score the slices into the whole nectarines, cut around the stem, and then slowly peel each slice away from the pit.
HONEYED HOME http://www.honeyedhome.com/

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Summer Cocktail: Nectarine Dream

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When life gives you nectarines, make a cocktail. Isn’t that how the saying goes?? Well, hopefully so, because my fridge has had a giant box of ripened nectarines begging to be used. For this reason alone, everything I will have posted this week has one underlying condition: MUST USE NECTARINES. If not, I might just have to stay in front of the fridge and try to see how many I can consume in one sitting; which by the way, doesn’t sound too awful…. Instead of eating 15 of them to myself I decided it would be better to incorporate them in any way, shape, or form in some new and exciting recipes. 

I used to bartend at a fantastic mexican restaurant in Laguna Beach for a greater portion of my life and here is where I tried mixing tequila with just about anything. The possibilities are endless, really. When summer came around we made a peach tequila bellini of sorts which inspired this new spin on the recipe. I used my favorite silver tequila and Patron Citronge but feel free to use any orange liquor that you like (i.e Cointreau or Grand Marnier).  The nectarine, lemon, and mint puree is super flavorful and would be excellent with vodka, gin, or champagne! Cheers! 

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Nectarine Dream

Serves 4
A delicious summer cocktail w/ fresh nectarines, mint, and lemon!


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Ingredients
  1. 2 ripe nectarines, sliced
  2. juice of 2 lemons
  3. packed 1/4 cup fresh mint, plus a few leaves for garnish
  4. 8oz silver tequila (2oz each)
  5. 4oz Patron Citronge (1oz each)
  6. ice
  7. soda water (optional: if you like it served over ice)
Instructions
  1. 1. In a blender combine necatrine slices and lemon juice and puree until smooth. Add the mint leaves, puree again, and then set aside.
  2. 2. In a tumbler, add ice, tequila, orange liquor, and 2oz of the nectarine puree. Shake vigorously to ensure the drink becomes really cold.
  3. 3. Serve in a champagne coupe and garnish w/ fresh mint.
Notes
  1. Note: My husband likes a slightly less sweet version and enjoys his over ice, in a mason jar, with only 1oz of the puree, and topped with soda water for a little effervescence. Both ways are delicious and fun!
HONEYED HOME http://www.honeyedhome.com/

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Summer Stone Fruit Crisp

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While at work this past weekend, I had been pondering the thought of what my next home-made meal would be. The weekend was coming to a close and I was looking forward to spending my Monday off in the kitchen. I knew that I had a bowl of super ripe nectarines sitting on my countertop at home that were begging to be consumed. I had been mulling over which way I would incorporate them into my next dish while hustling through the yard full of happy brunch diners. The idea literally hit me straight in the head. No seriously, I was hit in the head with a ripened purple fruit that fell from our blooming plum tree. It didn’t hurt but it did spark the plan I had for the sweet nectarines at home. I picked a few plums from the tree and delightedly took them home to join their orange colored cousins in an iron skillet with a crispy topping. A summer stone-fruit cobbler was in the works. Here is what I came up with…hope you enjoy!

The crumbled topping boasts a earthy and lemony flavor because of the fresh thyme and pairs wonderfully with the sweet and juicy filling. The dish is vegan, made with extra-virgin coconut oil, and full of fiber from the flax, almonds, and oats! Cobbler for breakfast anyone??

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Summer Stone Fruit Crisp {Vegan} 

Makes 1 10″ cast-iron crisp (6-8 pieces) 
Prep time: 25 minutes, Bake time: 30-35 minutes
 

6 ripe plums, pitted & sliced

4 ripe nectarines, pitted & sliced

1 lemon, juice & zest

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 TBSP maple syrup

1 cup spelt or whole wheat flour

1/2 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup almond meal

1/4 cup turbinado sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp sea salt

1 tsp aluminum free baking powder

1 packed tsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped

1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

1 “flax egg”- 1 TBSP flax meal + 1/4 cup water

6 TBSP extra-virgin coconut oil, in solid form

1. Preheat oven to 350º. Grease a 10″ cast-iron skillet.

2.  Place the sliced stone-fruit in a large glass bowl and sprinkle with brown sugar, lemon juice & zest, maple syrup, and let sit on the counter to macerate while you prepare the topping.

3. In a large bowl combine the flour, almond meal, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, and fresh thyme leaves. Mix well to combine. Add in the solid coconut oil 1 TBSP at a time (the coconut oil is difficult to measure at this point because of it’s solidity but just try to be as accurate as you can here). Mix the flour around the coconut oil and try to crumble with your hands as best you can before adding in the almond milk, flax egg, and rolled oats. Stir the mixture with a spatula to combine (you will see chunks of coconut oil throughout). Place the crumble topping in the fridge for 10 minutes.

4. Pour the stone-fruit into the cast-iron skillet making sure to add all the juice too. Crumble the dough over the top of the fruit (you want some holes in the topping so that you can see some fruit underneath). Bake for 30-35 minutes or until crumble topping is golden-brown and fruit and juice is sizzling. Remove from oven and let sit for a few minutes before serving. Top with yogurt for sweet breakfast or  vanilla bean ice cream for dessert! Enjoy!

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Mediterranean Israeli Couscous w/ Cherry Tomatoes

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“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass on a summer day listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is hardly a waste of time.” – Sir John Lubbock 

I woke up at 9:45am this morning and had a full-blown panic attack. How could I let myself sleep in so late on my day off? I have a million things to do today and now I am late! Great. I brushed my teeth with angst, turned on the Keurig, slammed my coffee while it burned on the way down, and then proceeded to tackle my list while my hands shook with anxiousness (or maybe it was the caffeine). Not a good start. No bueno amigos.

I often wonder how time flies by at, what seems to feel like, warp speed. How is it mid-June already? I am going to attribute this faster-than-light propulsion, at which we tend to live our lives, to one simple fact; we never allow ourselves the time to just stand still. I feel as though we plan tasks, events, and dates one after another, after another. I have realized that the only way I truly allow myself rest is when I happen to come down with a sickness that knocks me straight onto my bum. It is really only then, that I resist the urge to fill my entire day with to-do’s and I finally succumb to the fact that it is ok to let go. Rest is good people. We need to concede to the calmness. And, when I say we, I really mean me. Maybe, if I write these words I will actually believe them and pay attention to them. I am trying convince myself, you see. I shouldn’t have let myself be upset for the fact that I slept in, instead I should have relished in the achievement of actually sleeping. Rest is not idleness, it is time well-spent for the health of our minds, bodies, and souls.

My girlfriend at work was the first to share this recipe with me. She brought it as her lunch one day and I fell in love with combination of flavors. I often make this on Monday’s for a healthy snack to last me throughout the week. The flavors only get better too, the longer it sits in the fridge. Sometimes, I add canned tuna for a bit of protein and other times I serve it over a spinach salad with toasted pine nuts and red pepper flakes. It is always a winner for entertaining too. I have doubled the recipe and served it at several luncheons and showers and it always seems to be the favorite.  The secret ingredient is the garlic-infused olive oil drizzle that finishes the salad. It adds the perfect pungent flavor to round it out. It is only a small amount but so worth it!!

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Mediterranean Israeli Couscous w/ Cherry Tomatoes {Vegetarian}

Prep time: 10 minutes, Cook time: 15 minutes

1 80z box Israeli couscous

2 1/4 cups hot water

3-4 TBSP extra virgin olive oil, divided

1 lemon, juice and zest

8oz cherry tomatoes, halved

3 green onions, green & white parts chopped

packed 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped

1 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1/4 cup herbed crumbled feta cheese

1 tsp garlic infused olive oil

1. In a large stockpot heat 1 TBSP of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the coucous and toast until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add 2 1/4 cups of hot water, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cover for about 10 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. Remove from the heat and place the couscous in a large bowl to cool.

2. Add the other 2 TBSP of olive oil and the lemon juice and zest to the couscous and stir to combine. Add the chopped basil, green onions, tomatoes, salt, and pepper and mix well. To finish the salad top with crumbled feta and the garlic infused olive oil. Taste and adjust seasonings (I added a teeny bit more salt. Add more olive oil here if you like).

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Salted Dark Chocolate Cherry Cookies

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DSC_0127The other day, a friend of mine asked me when it was that I decided to follow my passion for cooking. I couldn’t give her a definitive answer. Was it as a child when I would watch my mother cook? Was it when I received an Easy Bake Oven and baked mini cakes for all my neighbor friends? Or perhaps, it was when I started working in the restaurant industry and really was able to experience all that dining out had to offer. I didn’t know the moment it exactly happened, but I did tell her that it started when I was young. When I was about 10 years old, I used to beg my mom to take me to the grocery store so we could pick up some flour to make banana bread or for some chocolate chips for fresh baked cookies. I was enamored with the whole baking process. I loved that you had to be so precise with recipes and measure everything with accuracy. It was in this exactness that I would be guaranteed a perfect cookie or a perfect loaf every time. There is something lovely about knowing exactly what the finished product will be even before you start. That is why I still love baking and consider it one of my favorite pass times. It brings out a zen-like mood for me; a place where I can just focus on the task at hand and loose all the chaos around me,  the hurried thoughts, or the anxiety of upcoming to-do’s.

The only difference in the adult version of myself,compared to that of my childhood, is that I do like to experiment a little now; think outside the box and manipulate recipes so that I can try new adaptations. Now, when attempting something the new, the finished product is not always known ahead of time. I usually modify a recipe that I’ve always loved, say a little prayer to the baking Gods, and hope for the best. I can say that this method doesn’t always have a successful turnout but the ratio isn’t too bad. This is what happened with these cookies and the result was exactly as I had hoped (and prayed) for. I was inspired by  Not Without Salt’s Cherry, Almond, Chocolate Chip Cookies and I began to think of ways to make the recipe with a vegan twist. I love to bake using a “flax egg” (flax meal & water) because it adds a little nuttiness with the addition of those healthy omega-3’s and lots of fiber. These cookies are incredibly chewy because of the almond meal and the cherries give the perfect tanginess to balance the sweetness. The Maldon sea salt is key and once you taste this cookie, you might never cease this little addition on any cookie from now on. The sweet and salty combination is just heavenly. It seems like these need a lot of ingredients; but once you have almond meal, flax meal, and a fancy sea salt in stock you will find any excuse to use them (they are that good). I suggest you make these as soon as you can get your little booty into the kitchen and get in the mood to loose yourself into the craft. What a wonderful way to de-stress!

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Dark Chocolate & Cherry Cookies {Vegan} 

Makes about 18 cookies
Prep time: 5 minutes, Bake time: 15 minutes 
 
FLAX EGG: 

1 TBSP flax meal

1/4 cup water

DRY INGREDIENTS:

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup almond meal

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup turbinado sugar

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

WET INGREDIENTS: 

5 TBSP coconut oil, in liquid form

1 TBSP organic maple syrup

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped

1 cup 72% dark chocolate, chopped (option to use Vegan chocolate)

1 or 2 TBSP Maldon salt, for sprinkling

1. Preheat oven to 350º. In a small dish make the “flax egg”; combine the flax meal and the water and set aside. In a large bowl combine all of the dry ingredients and whisk with a fork to combine and eliminate all the clumps. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, add the “flax egg” and mix to combine. Fold in the dark chocolate and the cherries. Using an ice cream scoop for even measurements, scoop out cookies on a silpat or parchment lined baking sheet. Sprinkle the cookies with a few flakes of Maldon salt and bake for 12-15 minutes. (These cookies will appear a bit under-done when bake time is up but don’t worry they are better this way!)

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