Reinterpreting the Ham & Swiss Wrap

I am very lucky to live extremely close to my office – not only do I have a super short commute on rainy days like today but I also occasionally go home for lunch. Although I definitely don’t recommend going home every day (it screws with your work-home balance) it can be a really nice break on days where the work-load allows.

On the days where I do run home, occasionally I’ll take advantage and step up my standard boring lunch-fare. Today I changed up  my ham and Swiss wrap by throwing it into a pan, changing it into a faux-quesadilla!

The “quesadilla” is nothing more than 1 multi-grain tortilla, rosemary ham, Swiss cheese, arugula and honey mustard warmed in a non-stick fry pan (no oil or butter needed). Served with a side of Sabra hummus and carrot chips it was a delightful step up!

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Awaiting Spring with a Dinner Party

Like many, the start of Day Light Savings signals to me that spring is coming. To celebrate the sun not setting until 7PM I held an “awaiting spring” dinner with two friends last night.

Despite the chilly temperatures and cloudy day, I tried to make the menu feel very season-transitional. We started with an amazing salmon salad with fennel, orange and mint that I have made before. It is such a refreshing way to start a meal and provided a real transportation to the warm spring days ahead! Also, because it is a cold salad, it is easy to prep in advance and serve at your convenience.

The only adaption that I made to the recipe was to use Cara Cara oranges (sometimes called “red navel”) instead of classic navel as the recipe calls for. I sprung for the Cara Cara at the recommend of Fresh Direct – of course! The flesh is a beautiful dark pink (like a grapefruit) and it’s juice is just a little sweeter with noticeably less acidity – which made it a great addition to the salad! The only downside of using the Cara Cara is that the sections aren’t as easy to cut out as a navel’s are.

The second course looked back to the warming comfort foods of winter and was suggested by the lovely Nancy who found and recommended the Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Gouda Cheese Sauce recipe found on The Noshery. Although I originally intended on making the gnocchi myself as Nancy had done, when I realized I was trying to execute this dinner on a weeknight I relinquished and bought prepared Sweet Potato Gnocchi from The Amish Market for $3.98. New Yorkers are blessed to have high-quality freshly-made pastas very readily available, often at such a great price there is no reason to make your own!

Although I am positive home-made gnocchi would have been more delicious, the Gouda sauce really is the stand out of this dish! The milk used in the sauce was flavored with garlic, onion and sage, which gives it a wonderful complexity when mixed with the smokiness of the Gouda. This photo is missing the sprinkle of nutmeg on top that was very important since the gnocchi themselves were missing that spice. Also please don’t skip the minced fresh sage garnish on top – it really pushes the dish right over the top!

Lastly, we finished off the meal with my favorite non-indulgent dessert: Roasted Plums with Toasted Hazelnuts and Greek Yogurt. I love this dish becuase the flavor combination seriously tricks me in to thinking I’m eating something really rich! The plums are roasted in a small amount of butter and sugar and the final plate is drizzled with honey to keep the whole dish feeling sweet. Greek Yogurt serves as the perfect base (I use 2 Tbs Fage 0% at the bottom of each bowl) to give a creamy taste without melting like ice cream could. Finally the hazelnuts are what really keeps me coming back – something about their association with chocolate, the smell and taste of toasted hazelnuts just says “desert” in my mind, and taste buds!

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It’s all about the ingredients!

We all know the old adage that the quality of the final product is only as good as the quality of the ingredients – I bet you never thought to apply that to popcorn!

At this point my obsession with popcorn is well known – I think it’s the perfect versatile snack that can be dressed up with whatever your craving! This weekend I was craving sweet and made one of my favorite standards:

  • Just under 1 Tbs Unsalted Butter
  • Hefty dash of Vietnamese Cinnamon
  • 1 Tsp good-quality clover honey
  • Few turns of your favorite Sea Salt
  • 5 cups air popped popcorn

By using good quality ingredients a little can go a long way and you can have an amazingly delicious treat that tastes much more unhealthy than it really is!

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That came frozen?!

This isn’t my first time raving about Fresh Direct and I am sure it won’t be my last! This time I’m impressed by one of their frozen meals, Bay Scallop and Vegetable Risotto. Fresh Direct is known for their freshly made 4-minute meals but this kind arrives frozen and can be stashed away for the next time you’re desperately in need of a delivery alternative!

I should be honest, the photo above only shows about 2/3 of the meal – after scarfing the first portion I realized it was fantastic enough for a photo and forced myself to pause. For my taste it is the perfect proportion of vegetables, scallops and rice. Best of all it has a great mix of fresh vegetables – fire-roasted corn,  asparagus, fava beans & Romanesco cauliflower – that balance out the richness of the risotto and give a good variety of textures. At $7.99 they are a treat and a great alternative for times when you would otherwise have really splurged!

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Fabulous Grilled Cheese

Who doesn’t love a good grilled cheese sandwich? I know I do! This sandwich is certainly not the typical – have a with a cup of tomato soup – kind of grilled cheese sandwich. It honestly is the product of what was left in my fridge!

  • Multi-Grain Bread (Frozen Pullman Loaf from Fresh Direct – you never have to worry about it going stale!)
  • Sliced Brie
  • Fresh Direct Rosemary Ham, thick sliced (very important)
  • Sliced Granny Smith Apple (leftover used as “chips”)
  • Honey Mustard

A heavenly and decadent use of the odds and ends in the fridge – now it’s time to get some more groceries!

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Epic Burrito

I am a big fan of the burrito – I think it offers an incredibly versatile way to combine the common ingredients I usually have in my fridge into a quick and easy meal. Beyond the tortilla, I love a good breakfast burrito – again, my love of all things eggs, combined with the simplicity of the burrito!

One of the reasons I love the burrito so much is because of the freedom to combine ingredients without worrying about how they will stay together – unlike an omelet or sandwich. Basically it allows you to use more healthy ingredients and proportionally less cheese. In this amazing and colorful burrito above I let my creativity run wild and used ingredients that you don’t normally associate with “burrito”:

Like many things in the kitchen, when it comes to burritos, creativity is king.

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So much new fabric…

… makes me a happy girl!

This weekend I took a very short trip out to Banksville Fabrics in Norwalk, CT to pick up some additional yardage so I can finish my throw pillows. While I was out, a family friend dropped off some old decorating samples that were destined for the trash – as you can see I salvaged quite a few!  🙂

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