Grilled Corn with Cotija Cheese, Cayenne & Lemon

Hi my loves! This summer, you MUST get outside and grill some beautiful corn! This preparation of eating whole corn on the cob is a mix of my experience eating road-side roasted corn in India with my love for Mexican flavors (i.e. the salty Cotija cheese!). This is an easy appetizer to complement your grilled vegetables and meat at your next outdoor soiree. Enjoy!

Love,
Priyanka

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Ingredients
4 corn on the cob, husks removed but stem attached for easy handling on the grill
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup crumbled cotija cheese (available at most mexican supermarkets)
1 lemon, cut in half

Directions
Grill the corn on the cob directly on the grill until done to your liking. Meanwhile, prepare your cayenne-lemon paste. In a small bowl, juice the lemon halves and add the cayenne pepper. Using one of the lemon halves as a ‘spoon’, mix these two ingredients into a paste and reserve this lemon half to apply the paste to the corn! Just leave it in the bowl.

Once your corn is grilled, apply the cayenne-lemon paste to the corn using the lemon half. Finish the preparation by sprinkling the beautiful cotija cheese on top and enjoy hot! 馃檪

Quick Padr贸n Peppers

Padr贸n peppers (also known as Spanish pimientos de Padr贸n), are my favorite kind of green peppers because they are crispy, mild-tasting, and occasionally give you a spicy surprise! These beautiful peppers come from the ‘capsicum’ family (better known as bell pepper in the US), and this preparation is my favorite way to eat them (and they are my husband’s favorite healthy snack!). Rumor has it that the peppers grown towards August/September tend to contain more capsaicin (spiciness) than the ones of June/July.

All I know is that when spring and summer comes around, I go hunting at local farmer’s markets for these gorgeous peppers. If any of you have kids, let it be known that I fed these to my 8-year-old nephew who was visiting from India, and he LOVED them. His mom claims that he usually doesn’t eat vegetables, so moms out there, maybe this is your answer to getting your kids to eat some greens.

Enjoy! 馃檪

Love,
Priyanka

Padr贸n Peppers PK

Ingredients
2 cups of raw padron peppers, washed and dried
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive-oil
Kosher salt, to taste
freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
fresh lemon juice

Directions
Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add extra-virgin olive oil and add padr贸n peppers. Sprinkle with the salt, pepper, and lemon juice and cook for approximately 5 minutes, stirring every other minute. You want to let the peppers blister a little, so don’t worry if some sides are blackened (that’s when they are most delicious!).

Take them off the heat, sprinkle with more salt, if desired, and enjoy hot! Note: Don’t eat the stems, but use them to hold the hot peppers while you eat 馃檪 Enjoy! 馃檪

Smoked Salmon Crostinis

I make these crostinis a lot, but I made them recently and they flew off the table so quickly, that I realized that I just had to blog these for you. I get that warm and fuzzy feeling when a NO-COOK recipe is enjoyed so thoroughly (and I hardly had to do anything!). This recipe is simple, delicious, and easy to whip up as a beautiful appetizer for an impromptu meal or even a fancy shin-dig you had planned eons earlier. The salty bite of the capers is ever-so-important, so don’t forget those! And of course, one cannot over-stress the importance of fresh dill alongside gorgeous salmon slices. This is not season-specific so enjoy this recipe in summer, spring, or even winter!! PS…did I mention this is a NO-COOK RECIPE? 馃槈

Enjoy!

Love,
Priyanka

PS – I apologize in advance for being so general about the amount of the ingredients, however how much cream cheese and salmon you put on the baguette really depends on your personal preference (and the width and size of your baguette, which I simply cannot guess). Feel free to be as stingy or generous as you want with these ingredients 馃槈


smoked salmon crostini PK

Ingredients
1 fresh baguette (I prefer using garlic baguette to get that extra flavor, but you can use any baguette you enjoy)
2 teaspoons melted butter in a small cup
wild smoked salmon, amount to your taste (wild smoked salmon is amazing and much better than regular–splurge! the difference is noticeable)
cream cheese, amount to your taste
fresh dill, one sprig per baguette slice
capers, drained (you can buy these in a jar)

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Meanwhile, slice your baguette diagonally into approximately 1/4 inch thick disks. Place the slices on a cookie sheet or a flat baking pan. Brush them with the melted butter, sprinkle them with a dash of Kosher salt and into the oven they go for approximately 4-5 minutes. Flip the pieces of baguette at this point and check for doneness. [Note: You don’t want both sides to be super crispy! Lightly toasted is what we are going for here].

Remove the baguette slices off of the pan and let them cool for a few minutes. Spread cream cheese onto them, top with wild smoked salmon, and garnish with sprigs of fresh dill and capers. Serve immediately and enjoy! 馃檪

Oven-Roasted Lamb Kefta (Meatballs)

I love this recipe because of it’s simplicity, ease of putting together, and bold flavor profile. The spiciness of the chili powder contrasting with the rich flavors of the cinnamon, cumin, and garlic literally create a party in your mouth. My signature on these meatballs is the addition of fresh pesto – in my opinion, adding the pesto adds a nuttiness and a little fattiness that keeps the meatballs incredibly moist and divine.

You can serve these alone with some fresh yogurt to dip into (or get fancy and serve it with some tzatziki for an authentic Greek feel!). Make it a meal by stuffing whole-wheat pitas along with some lettuce and tomatoes and there you have your lunch and/or dinner ready! Or you can even throw these delicious meatballs into some tomato sauce and simmer them until ready, and you have a gorgeous lamb meatball in tomato-sauce dish that you can serve over cous cous or rice.

The options are endless, and I see this healthy, oven-roasted lamb kefta as a base recipe that can serve as a one-bite appetizer at a fancy party, or as the filling of a sandwich the next day for lunch (although it is highly unlikely there will be any leftovers of this recipe) 馃槈

Enjoy! And be sure to share this one with your family and friends, as all good food should be!

Love,
Priyanka

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Yields: Approximately 12 appetizer-sized meatballs

Ingredients

1 pound ground lamb (can substitute ground chicken, beef or turkey and still get a great result!)
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder (optional)
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon celery seeds
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons of homemade pesto (or any store-bought pesto works great too!)
1 medium white or yellow onion, minced
1 egg
1 tablespoon fresh chopped mint (or you can use dried mint)
Garnish: fresh mint leaves

Directions

Place lamb, cumin, paprika, chili powder (optional) garlic powder, celery seed, seasoned salt, cinnamon pepper, pesto, onion, egg and mint together in a bowl.

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Mix evenly using clean hands [I prefer putting on clean, disposable gloves and then mixing. For some reason, mixing ground meat with your hands is the best way to incorporate all the ingredients! No kitchen tool can replicate what your hands can do :)]

Mix gently until evenly combined. Form mixture into 12 meat balls (I use a 1/4 cup measure for each meatball – or you can use an ice cream scoop or melon baller, size of your choice). Round off each meatball in your hands using a circular motion, and place each meatball on a parchment-paper lined baking sheet that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Chill kefta until ready to use (up to 2 hours in refrigerator).

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Note: There are two ways to cook the kefta – you can lightly fry them on the stovetop or bake them in the oven.

Method 1: Heat extra-virgin olive oil in saute茅 pan. Once the oil is hot, add meatballs (be careful not to overcrowd the pan with too many meatballs (if needed, cook in batches). Turning the meatballs occasionally for even cooking, cook for about 6-8 minutes until desired exterior crispness and interior doneness.

Method 2: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the 12 meatballs on the baking tray you prepared them onto and bake on the center rack of the oven for 15-20 minutes until browned as desired. Serve hot with yogurt, red onions, and cucumber slices! Pair with flatbread, pita bread, or fresh rice for a whole meal! 馃檪

Sun-Dried Tomato & Olive Muffins

This recipe started years ago in my kitchen as an experiment for when a friend came over to my home. I made it once, and never made it again for some reason, even though we all really enjoyed them hot out of the oven! Fast forward a few years, and that same friend who I just co-hosted a baby shower for, specifically requested that I make these for her shower. I was so incredibly honored! 馃檪 At the same time, I realized that it had been so long since I had made them and had never written the recipe down…oops!

I tested this recipe until it’s perfection in time for the baby shower and it was a hit, again. The subtle flavor of the cheese mixed in with the tanginess of the olives and heartiness of the sun-dried tomatoes is divine. I hope you get to share this with your families and loved ones over this beautiful holiday season.

Cheers,
Priyanka

Sun-Dried Tomato and Olive Muffin

Note: You can make mini muffins or full-sized ones, just be sure to adjust your baking time accordingly!

Yield: 12 full-size muffins or 24-30 mini muffins
Ingredients
1 cup milk, (preferably not fat-free – I use whole milk)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg (can be substituted with egg-replacer powder)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup grated cheese blend (of your choice)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves or 1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
1 tablespoon dried or fresh tarragon (optional)
1 tablespoon paprika
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, drained
1/4 cup pimiento-stuffed olives
grated cheese blend of your choice, reserved, for topping the muffins

Directions
Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease your muffin pan with either melted butter or cooking spray.

In a large bowl, beat the milk, oil and egg using a fork or whisk. Fold in the flour, shredded cheese, basil, tarragon, paprika, baking powder and salt using a spatula, just until all of the flour is moistened.

Continue to fold in sun-dried tomatoes and olives. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups using a cookie scoop and fill each cup to approximately 2/3 full. Sprinkle the top of each muffin with the reserved shredded cheese.

Bake your muffins on the middle rack of the oven for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden brown (depends on your oven strength, so watch them!).

Immediately remove from pan to wire rack. Serve warm if desired.

French-Style Goat Cheese & Mushroom Baguette

This is a fabulous, vegetarian party appetizer where you hardly miss the meat! The wholesome mushrooms cooked in the sherry and fresh parsley and garlic is a delicious, French way of cooking these mushrooms. Coupled with cheese and baguette, you are truly eating like a Parisian!

If you are not a big fan of the tanginess of goat cheese, feel free to substitute with brie cheese (also a lovely combination!) for a more mellow taste, or even thinly sliced swiss cheese.

Enjoy! 馃檪

Ingredients

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound large cremini or button mushrooms, trimmed and sliced through the stem end
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/3 cup sherry (preferably dry sherry, but regular cooking sherry works)
1 teaspoon paprika (ideally use hot smoked Spanish paprika)
4 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
zest of 1 lemon
KosherSalt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Goat cheese, to taste
16 slices baguette (can be sourdough, whole-grain, etc.)

Directions

In a large saute pan, melt the butter with olive oil over medium-high heat, until frothing (but not smoking!). Add the mushrooms and cook while stirring frequently, until just cooked through and beginning to brown (approximately 3-5 minutes).

Now add the garlic and cook for 1 minute longer, or until fragrant. Add the sherry, paprika, parsley, and lemon zest, and stir for 30 seconds, or until most of the liquid is absorbed into the mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper. Note: Do a taste taste after you think it is done, and add more salt and pepper as desired.. Set aside.

Spread goat cheese on each slice of baguette and spoon about a tablespoon of the mushroom mixture on top of each slice.

Note: Another way to serve this is to lay out the baguette slices, goat cheese log, and bowl of mushroom mixture and allow your guests to assemble their own slices as they want (I prefer this method since many of my friends do not enjoy cheese, so they can omit that and still enjoy a mushroom baguette!). Whereas, if it was me assembling my own slice of baguette, I would lather on the goat cheese! 馃槈

Enjoy 馃檪

Pair it: with a great glass of Chardonnay!

Basil & Goat Cheese Filled Cherry Tomatoes

I served these recently at a tapas party and they were a hit! Feel free to use red or yellow cherry tomatoes, both taste and look beautiful! This is a great, no-cook recipe that is sure to be a crowd pleaser. If I would give one piece of advice for this recipe, do not skip the FRESH basil (i.e. dry basil is not a good substitute!).

If you are familiar with piping, feel free to fill the cheese mixture into a piping bag with a pretty styling tip, and pipe the mixture into the cherry tomatoes for a more fancy look!

Enjoy! 馃檪

Ingredients

1/2 cup goat cheese
1/4 cup minced fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon salt (be careful to not over-salt the cheese mixture since goat cheese is already tangy!)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
24 cherry tomatoes

Variation: Add grilled corn to the cheese mixture for an added sweet crunch! 馃檪

Directions

Combine the cheese, basil, salt and pepper in a bowl with a fork, until well-incorporated. Taste test the cheese mixture and adjust seasoning as desired.

Cut the top off each cherry tomato and using a small knife and spoon (or clean hands!) carefully cut and scoop out the pulp to make a hollow, yet sturdy, shell. Note: Drain off any juice that may be in the tomato shells.

Using a small spoon (or your clean hands!), fill each tomato shell with the cheese mixture.

Arrange beautifully in a platter and serve! Can be refrigerated a few hours ahead.