Comfort Foods and Indulgences

Triple-Cheese-Buffalo-Chicken-Enchiladas-I've had these on my mind for a while now. I'm not the biggest fan of traditional enchilada sauce but I will take buffalo sauce in an enchilada anytime! I stuffed these with ricotta cheese, Monterey Jack and of course blue cheese. More Jack on top and crunchy celery...this was a TOUCHDOWN.

I'm not sure your Super Bowl party will be complete without them. I made these in individual stoneware bakers, two enchiladas in each one. I admit I love serving food in smaller portions, it's always more fun. You could also make these in a large casserole dish, you'll just have to double or triple the amount of ingredients.

Even if the corn tortillas break a little on top when you roll them, it's okay since you will be covering it with lots of cheese. And I have a question, is anyone watching the Super Bowl this year for the game? It seems every one I have come in contact with says they are not thrilled with the teams. Most will be watching for commercials and the food. Ha-ha perfect. You better make extras!

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eggplantslices.jpgThere are many versions of eggplant parmesan. I probably like them all. The earthy sweetness of the eggplant and tomato sauce, the gooey mozzarella, and the sharpness of the parmesan all come together to make something delectable. Eggplant parmesan was the most satisfying vegetarian dinner I ate when I was growing up.

In some recipes the eggplant is breaded and fried. While this adds a whole extra layer of texture, I don't think it's necessary. The version I grew up with was one my mom made and perhaps it's just the familiarity of it, but I really do think it's the best. Because it isn't fried it's not greasy which is often what happens with eggplant. A hearty filling entree I wouldn't dream of serving it without spaghetti on the side.

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minty-chocolate-avocado-shakeWell folks I hate to admit it, but this is the only type of "green" shake I can get behind. And look, it's not even green, even though it sounds like it should be. 

But really, for those of you who have not experienced the rich and creamy avocado as a substitute for ice cream, it's a must. My family was clueless I had used it in their dessert. They were happily sipping away on their luxuriously thick chocolate shake when I dropped the A-bomb on them. My youngest said, "We're drinking guacamole?", you're not.

This shake is almost dairy free if that is important for you, but you would have to use non-dairy chocolate chips for it to truly fit that bill. And let's not forget the health benefits of the avocado; lots of potassium, fiber, vitamins C & K, B6 and folate. One whole avocado boasts lots of heart-healthy unsaturated fat, more than a 1/3 of your daily vitamin C needs and more than half of your daily requirement of vitamin K. What more could you ask for in a chocolate shake?

I wanted to satisfy my urge for a Shamrock Shake this month so out came the mint chocolate chips. They were the perfect addition and left behind these cute green specks in the shake after blending with my trusty Blendtec blender.

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mozzacookbookMy family is pretty loosy goosy about the holidays.  We’ve reduced the mania to a few key factors- a great night together with some Christmas carols, a $50 Secret Santa gift, and a fantastic meal. It’s simple and perfect.  My dad is normally responsible for cooking the dinner –which is never a disappointment because he is a fantastic cook.  This year, however, my folks had overbooked themselves on Secret Santa day and asked me to take care of the meal.  I was thrilled because I had found a few recipes I was dying to take for a test drive and I knew my family would be eager guinea pigs.

I have not yet had the pleasure of eating in, Nancy Silverton’s restaurant in Los Angeles but that didn’t stop me from buying the cookbook as soon as it was published.  Nancy Silverton has the same passion and dedication to the joy of cooking and eating without being a foodie douchebag that I hope to achieve some day.

Her recipes are always inspiring to read.  When I say this, I mean that as a chef I read her recipes and am automatically designing menus that will blend with and promote the flavors of the food she is describing.  She makes it easy because she understands how simple flavors can be intertwined to create something delicious.

Needless to say, when The Mozza Cookbook arrived in my household I spent hours devouring it, bookmarking so many pages that the book is bloated with post-its.  When the opportunity to cook for my family showed up, I knew my Mozza moment had come.  Almost everything from this menu is from that cookbook.

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crackers.mac.cheese.jpgMy girlfriend took one bite of these and said, “this tastes like Mac ‘n Cheese”.  Voila, the Mac ‘n Cheese cracker was born.

I had been wanting to make more savory snacks and this was a really great place to start.

What I love most about this recipe is that these can be made in big batches, baked right away or frozen for future use, making last minute entertaining, either in our own home or at others, easy and stress free.

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