Waffles…Morning, Noon or Night!

waffles 1As young as I can remember and now raising my own family, I find it very important that we all sit down to eat, rather than grabbing and going. As our lives are getting busier and busier with early morning school routine and all the extracurricular activities it is becoming harder to insure that all our meals are enjoyed at the table. Menu planning, prepping and stocking the fridge and freezer is the best way I know how to to quickly get everyone fed with whole, natural and nutritious ingredients.

Although I would love to have a three course meal ready on all occasions, that is not likely at this stage in our life and I am totally fine with that. Breakfast for dinner, dinner for lunch, or an array of appetizers for any meal is what you might find in my kitchen, but the girls are happy and we are fed!

Breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert, waffles are a favorite in my family. There is something so comforting about a homemade waffles, whether you are enjoying them alone or garnishing them with eggs, bacon, prosciutto, roasted bananas, chocolate or anything other toppings of your choice. The crisp outside and soft doughy center makes for a perfect meal. Two of my go to waffle combinations is thinly sliced prosciutto and shaved gruyere cheese for a savory twist and on the sweeter side, roasted bananas topped with a butterscotch syrup.waffles 2

The beauty of waffles is that they can be found all over the world. These perfectly shaped treats are on restaurant menus of all cuisines. From steakhouses, southern to American fine dining, waffles are sure to make you feel like a kid again.waffles 3

Classic Waffle
Yields 10
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Ingredients
  1. 2 Cups All Purpose Flour
  2. 1 Tbsp Baking Powder
  3. 1/2 tsp Salt
  4. 4 Tbsp Granulated Sugar
  5. 1 1/2 Cups Whole Milk
  6. 2 Eggs, Separated
  7. 1/2 Cup Butter, Melted
Instructions
  1. Preheat the waffle iron
  2. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl
  3. In a separate bowl whisk egg yolks and milk and whisk into dry ingredients
  4. Pour the melted butter into flour mixture and mix until fully combined
  5. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks and slowly add in granulated sugar
  6. Gently fold egg whites into batter just until combined, do not over mix or the batter will deflate
  7. Scoop the desired amount of batter onto a greased and warmed waffle iron and cook until golden brown (use according to the manufacture of your iron)
  8. Remove waffle when ready and serve immediately or freeze the extra waffles!
Notes
  1. Prosciutto & Gruyere Waffle
  2. Make the classic waffle recipe
  3. Whisk in 1/2 cup shredded gruyere cheese into the waffle batter
  4. Scoop the batter into waffle iron until golden brown
  5. Remove waffle from the iron and garnish with thinly sliced prosciutto, shredded gruyere and chopped chives
  6. Serve immediately!
  7. Roasted Banana & Caramel Waffles
  8. Heat oven to 350 degrees F
  9. Slice bananas into 1/2” thick banana rounds and place on a foil lined sheet pan
  10. Sprinkle the bananas with granulated sugar and roast for 10-15 minutes or until bananas are soft and sugar is bubbling.
  11. While the bananas are roasting, make the classic waffle recipe
  12. Whisk in 1/2 cup chopped pecans into waffle batter
  13. Scoop batter into waffle iron until golden brown
  14. Remove waffle from the iron and garnish with roasted bananas, toasted pecan pieces and caramel sauce of your choice
INK foods : In Nanny's Kitchen http://inkfoods.com/
Some of my favorite waffles around Dallas:

Nick and Sam’s Steakhouse
Brioche Waffle on Fois Gras
Jalapeño Cheddar Waffle on a Southern Fried Quail Egg with Molasses Syrup

Hatties
Buttermilk Fried Chicken over a Belgium Waffle with Red Pepper Flake Syrup

Del Frisco’s Grill
Red Velvet Belgium Waffle with Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese

Double Dose Bakery
www.doubledosebakery.com
100% Grain Free and Gluten Free Frozen Waffles shipped to your door!

Favorite Waffle Irons
Breville No Mess Classic Round Waffle Maker

All Clad Belgian Waffle Maker

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Chocolate Bark

bark 3As you are preparing for one of the most chocolate-filled months of the year, when everyone is trying to buy or make something extra special for their loved ones, a no-bake and no-recipe treat will be your new best friend. Chocolate bark is not only one of the most beautiful chocolate treats you can package up, but it is also so decadent with its pure flavors. As you prepare to make chocolate bark, it’s imperative you select a high quality chocolate, whether it be white, milk or dark. Once you have decided on the chocolate you would like to use, you need to decide how to top it. For dark chocolate, I prefer nutty and dried fruit flavors such as cranberries, almonds, candied ginger, pumpkin seeds, pistachios, dried figs and dried apricots. The options are endless for chocolate bark, you can nearly put anything your taste buds desire.bark 1

Chocolate Bark
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Ingredients
  1. 1 pound dark chocolate, finely chopped
  2. 1/4 cup almonds, lightly chopped
  3. 1/4 cup candied ginger, chopped
  4. 1/4 cup pistachios, shelled
  5. 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  6. 1/4 cup dried figs, chopped
  7. 1/4 cup dried apricots, chopped
  8. 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
Instructions
  1. Prepare a half-sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Place three-fourths of the dark chocolate in a microwave safe glass bowl.
  3. Microwave chocolate on high for 30 seconds, remove bowl and stir chocolate.
  4. Place chocolate back in the microwave for 30 second intervals until the chocolate is melted.
  5. Remove the bowl from the microwave and add the remaining one-fourth of chocolate into the melted chocolate and stir until fully melted.
  6. Pour chocolate onto prepared sheet pan and spread until even in thickness.
  7. Sprinkle dried fruit and nuts all over chocolate (add as much or as little as you like).
  8. Allow the chocolate to cool and harden at room temperature or refrigerate if you want the chocolate to set up quicker.
  9. Once the chocolate is cooled, crack the bark into medium size pieces.
  10. Keep in an airtight container or package up for gifts.
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bark 5

 

Winter Citrus

citrus fennel saladDuring the coldest months of the year, citrus is in the back of our minds but we should be tapping in to the fresh aromatic flavors of winter citrus. The vibrant colors and burst of flavors are what make winter citrus a true jewel this time of year. Oranges, grapefruits, lemon, limes, and kumquats are just a few of the seasonal flavors that are ripe, refreshing and perfect to add any menu.

grapefruit sage 75

Fresh squeezed juice and citrus syrups will brighten and sweeten any winter cocktail or mock-tail. A favorite cocktail of mine, French 75, is a classic menu item that I have modernized with a splash of grapefruit juice and sweetened with an herbal sage simple syrup. Whether you are mixing or drinking the juice fresh, sipping on winter citrus is sure to keep the cold weather blues away.

Grapefruit Sage 75
Serves 1
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Ingredients
  1. 1 oz Gin
  2. 3/4 oz sage simple syrup (see recipe below)
  3. 3/4 oz grapefruit juice
  4. Champagne
Instructions
  1. Shake the gin, sage simple syrup and grapefruit juice with ice until chilled
  2. Strain into a champagne glass and top with Champagne
  3. Garnish with a sage
Notes
  1. Sage Simple Syrup
  2. 1 cup granulated sugar
  3. 1 cup water
  4. 6 sage leaves
Directions
  1. Combine sugar, water and sage leaves in a sauce pan and stir until sugar is dissolved
  2. Bring sugar and water to a boil until slightly thickened; remove from the heat
  3. Allow sage syrup to cool completely and strain leaves out through a fine sieve
  4. Store simple syrup in a air tight container and store in the refrigerator for up to one week
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citrus fennel saladYour choice of winter citrus served with cheese, yogurt or sliced over a leafy greens, is a perfect way to kick off a meal. A variety of oranges; blood orange, cara cara, and navel and grapefruit will pair well with the pungent flavor of fennel, mint and silky goat cheese for a refreshing and light salad. Fennel not only has an aromatic quality, it is also rich in vitamin c. What we eat will help keep the common cold behind us.

Citrus Fennel Salad
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 2 small grapefruit
  2. 2 blood orange
  3. 2 navel orange
  4. 2 cara cara oranges
  5. 1/2 fennel bulb, sliced thin
  6. 1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled
  7. 2 Tbsp mint leaves, chopped
  8. watercress, garnish
  9. Champagne Shallot Vinaigrette
  10. 1/4 cup olive oil
  11. 1 Tbsp champagne vinegar
  12. 2 tsp shallots, chopped
  13. 1 tsp honey
  14. 1/4 tsp sea salt
  15. pinch of pepper (to taste)
Instructions
  1. Peel all citrus, removing as much pith as possible
  2. Slice citrus into thin wheels, removing all seeds
  3. Layer the sliced citrus onto a serving platter
  4. Garnish the citrus with thinly sliced fennel, crumble goat cheese, chopped mint leaves and watercress
  5. Whisk together champagne vinegar, shallots, honey, salt and pepper
  6. Slowly add olive oil into vinegar mixture until fully combined
  7. Drizzle 4 Tbsp of dressing onto citrus salad (add more or less dressing to taste)
  8. Serve immediately
INK foods : In Nanny's Kitchen http://inkfoods.com/
kumquat upside down cakeA sweet finish to your evening, candied citrus is as simple as it sounds. The peel of citrus is equally as flavorful as the juice that comes from inside. To enjoy the most basic form of candied citrus, it is best to blanch the peel in order to remove the bitter flavor and later coat in sugar to add a crunch. Candied citrus can also be enjoyed as a cake with a variety of winter citrus. I absolutely love the idea of kumquats, they are small, you can enjoy the whole fruit (skin and all) and they are best during the winter months. Although kumquats can have a bitter flavor, once it is combined with brown sugar and butter topped with a decadent butter cake, there is only love for this tiny fruit.

Kumquat Upside-Down Cake
Serves 6
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Fruit Layer
  1. 8 Tbsp unsalted butter
  2. 3/4 Cup light brown sugar
  3. 2 Tbsp honey
  4. 2 Cups Kumquats, sliced and seeds removed
Cake
  1. 8 Tbsp unsalted butter
  2. 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  3. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  4. 2 eggs
  5. 1 1/2 Cups all purpose flour
  6. 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  7. 1/4 tsp salt
  8. 1/2 Cup whole milk
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and prepare 8” cake pan with oil or non stick spray
  2. In a sauce pan over medium heat, melt butter completely, but do not brown the butter
  3. Add brown sugar and honey to the butter and stir until fully combined
  4. Pour sugar mixture into the bottom of the 8” cake pan
  5. Arrange sliced kumquats to cover the entire bottom of the pan (it is ok to overlap)
  6. Prepare cake while fruit layer cools
  7. In a mixing bowl with paddle attachment cream butter and sugar
  8. Add vanilla extract and eggs, one at a time
  9. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt
  10. Alternate flour and milk into mixing bowl and beat until fully combined (do not over mix)
  11. Spread cake batter over kumquats
  12. Bake at 350 degrees F for 35-40 minutes or until baked through
  13. Allow cake to cool for 10 minutes before flipping onto serving dish
  14. Enjoy!
INK foods : In Nanny's Kitchen http://inkfoods.com/
In the midst of winter, we tend to eat heavy, warm and comfort foods that are very familiar to us and satisfy our cravings but with these recipes and the fresh produce at our local markets, lighten up your cold weather must haves and let the bold flavors of winter citrus work for you.

This story was featured in The Dallas Morning News 

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The Feast of the Seven Fishes

tableGrowing up in a large family, we celebrated every holiday to the fullest and had many traditions.  Christmas Eve was and still is one of my favorite family traditions and one that I want to share with all of you. There is something very special about this day and has left me with vivid memories as a child and I still look forward to Christmas Eve every year. It is not about the gifts and getting to bed early waiting for Santa, it is actually the total opposite.  As a family Christmas Eve has always focused on cooking and enjoying a long evening of feasting.  

The feast of the seven fishes is a tradition that I thought everyone celebrated on Christmas Eve until I got older and realized this was an Italian tradition and a very special one! The origin of The Seven Fishes comes from the Roman Catholic Church to fast during Holy Week.  This fasting later turned into feasting with an abundance of food and celebration.  No one knows the exact meaning behind the specific number seven, but it is thought to come from the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church .

Leading up to Christmas Eve, the menu preparation of this Southern Italian tradition is quite elaborate.  Every family has a variety of seafood dishes but there are some that are more common and other that are family favorites. The dishes that sit at our table have been with us for many years: stuffed lobster tails, whole red snapper, clams and pasta, seafood salad, baccala in red sauce, garlic shrimp and mussels in a white wine sauce. It is very important to choose seafood that is fresh and can be purchased at your local gourmet grocer. Most of the seafood I found this year was purchased from Central Market, but can also be found at any local seafood market. Baccala is one of the more uncommon seafood dishes, it is also known as salted cod and sold in a slab form. The history of Baccala shows the importance of the preserved fish for an inexpensive meal when fresh fish could not be found. Because the fish is preserved it must be soaked for at least 3 days before cooking and can be found is very specialty shops or can even be found and shipped through amazon.com. Although it is a long process and more difficult to find, it is absolutely worth making!

As I had the opportunity to prepare every dish with my uncle, Mario Sorrentino, I felt the love for this holiday more than ever. Mario moved to Dallas 12 years ago from New York but was born and raised in Naples, Italy. He has shared so many wonderful and authentic recipes from his home town and we love having them at our table every year. I look forward to continuing this Christmas Eve tradition for my family and I hope you will share it with yours.lobster

Baked Lobster Tails
(serves 6 people)
Ingredients:
6 4-5 ounce Lobster Tails
1 cup Bread Crumbs
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
12 Tbsp Butter, divided for each lobster

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
Cut the top of the shell along the whole lobster tail with scissor and then using a knife make the cut deeper into the flesh and remove the vein
Combine bread crumbs, garlic powder, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper in a large bowl and mix to combine
Fill the lobster tail cavity with the breadcrumb mixture
Place 2 tbsp of butter on top of each lobster tail
Wrap each tail in aluminum foil and place a sheet pan
Bake at 400 degrees F for 30 minutes
Once lobster is cooked through remove from the foil and serve immediately

seafood salad

Seafood Salad
(serves 6 people)
Ingredients:
8 Cups Water
1/2 Cup White Vinegar
1 Tbsp Kosher Salt
1 1/2 lb. Large Shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 lb. Sea Scallops, cut in half
1 1/4 lb. Mussels, cleaned
2 lbs Squid Tubes
1 lb. Crab Meat, cooked

Sauce:
1 Cup Olive Oil
1/2 tsp Fresh Thyme Leaves
1 tsp Garlic, minced
Zest of 2 Lemons
1/4 Cup Lemon Juice
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
2 Tbsp Champagne Vinegar
2 tsp Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
1 Tbsp Parsley, chopped
1/4 Cup Celery, chopped
1/4 Red Bell Pepper, sliced thin

Instructions:
In a large sauce pan, combine 8 cups water, vinegar and salt and bring to a boil
Rinse and cut squid tubes into 2” pieces and place in boiling water for 2 minutes
Remove squid from boiling water and place in a large bowl (save water)
Bring water back to a boil and add shrimp and boil for 2 minutes or until cooked through
Remove shrimp and add to bowl with squid (save water)
Bring water back to a boil and add scallops and cook for 4 minutes or until cooked through
Remove scallops from water and add to bowl with squid and shrimp
You may discard water at this point
In a sauté pan, steam the mussels until they open and remove the mussel from the shell and place in the bowl with all other seafood
Make sure to drain seafood again to remove any additional water
Add crab meat to bowl with seafood and gently stir to combine

Prepare the Sauce:
In a sauté pan over medium heat, warm olive oil
Add thyme, garlic and lemon zest to the olive oil and cook over low heat for 1 minute
Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in lemon juice, mustard, salt, pepper and champagne vinegar
Pour the hot vinaigrette over the seafood and add in the chopped celery and parsley
Gently toss the seafood salad and garnish with fresh parsley and slice bell peppers

red snapper

Baked Whole Red Snapper
(serves 4 people)
Ingredients:
1 3 lb. Whole Red Snapper
1 Lemon, Sliced
2 sprigs of Thyme

Sauce
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Capers
1 Large Shallot, Chopped
1 tsp Fresh Thyme
1/4 Cup Lemon Juice
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Pepper

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and line a sheet pan with parchment paper
Scale and gut the whole fish
Place the fish on a lined sheet pan and season the cavity of the fish with sliced lemons and thyme sprigs
Score the top of the fish and season with salt and pepper, olive oil and arrange lemon slices around the fish; bake for 30-40 minutes
Prepare the sauce: heat olive oil in a sauté pan and add the chopped shallots, capers and thyme. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper
Once fish is fully baked, remove the skin from the fish and place on a serving dish with sauce covering the top

mussels

Mussels in White Wine Sauce
(serves 4 people)
Ingredients:
2 lbs Mussels
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
6 Tbsp Butter, Unsalted
1/2 Cup Shallots, chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 Cup White Wine
1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper

Instructions:
Clean mussels: place in a large bowl and soak for 30 minutes; Remove any mussels that are already open.
In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil and butter. Add shallots and thyme leaves and cook for 5 minutes.
Add the white wine and reduce the liquid to half.
Once the wine is reduced add the mussels into the wine reduction and season with salt and pepper.
Cover the pan and simmer over medium heat for 8-10 minutes or until mussels open completely (discard any that do not open).
Pour the mussels and sauce into a large serving dish and enjoy with toasted baguette.

garlic shrimp

Garlic Shrimp
(serves 4 people)
Ingredients:
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Garlic Cloves, sliced thin
1/4 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
1 lb. Large Shrimp, peeled and deveined, tail on
1 Tbsp Butter, unsalted
Salt and pepper

Instructions:
In a large skillet, heat olive oil
Add garlic and red pepper flakes; cook until garlic is fragrant and golden
Add shrimp to olive oil and cook until shrimp are opaque
Add butter and stir until shrimp are fully coated
Season with salt and pepper and garnish with fresh parsley
Serve immediately

clams and pasta

Spaghetti with Clams
(serves 4 people)
Ingredients:
2 lbs Littleneck Clams
1/2 Cup Olive Oil
4 Garlic Cloves
1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
1 Cups White Wine
1 Tbsp Fresh Parsley, Chopped
1 lb Spaghetti, Cooked

Instructions:
1. Soak and scrub the clams in water for 30 minutes to remove the sand
2. In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil
3. Add garlic and red pepper flakes to oil until garlic is soft and fragrant
4. Add white wine to garlic and simmer until half of the liquid is evaporated
5. Add clams to the white wine mixture and steam until clams have opened completely
6. Sprinkle the clams with fresh parsley and toss over cooked spaghetti
7. Serve immediately

baccala

Baccala Stew
(serves 4 people)
Ingredients:
1 lb Salted Cod (Baccala), soaked
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Garlic Cloves, chopped
1/2 Large Yellow Onion, sliced
1 Celery Stalk
2 Large Carrots
4 Yukon Gold Potatoes 1 Can (15 oz) Crushed Tomatoes
1/4 tsp Oregano, dried
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
1 1/2 Cups Water

Instructions:
Soak Salted Cod in water for a minimum of 5 days, changing the water 3 times per day before using
Cut salted cod into 2” pieces
Chop the onions, celery, and carrots into 2” pieces and peel and slice potatoes in half
In a large sauté pan heat olive oil and add onions and garlic until soft and fragrant
Add crushed tomatoes, carrots, celery, potatoes, oregano and 1 1/2 cups of water to onions and garlic; simmer for 15 minutes
Add the salted cod to tomato mixture and simmer until cod is tender, approximately 15 minutes
Season with salt and pepper and garnish with fresh parsley
Serve immediately

All recipes have been featured in The Dallas Morning News!  

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Cranberry Oatmeal Butter Bars

cran 3As I was baking these bars, I knew I loved the idea of them, but was not sure if they would turn out to be as good as I was hoping.  For me cranberry is one of my favorite holiday flavors, but they have to be sweetened perfectly in order to really enjoy every bite of them.  Let me just tell you….they are as good as I hoped. cran 2

The combination of the buttery and oatmeal crust with the sweetened cranberries is just perfect!  As you are baking for the holidays or any of your cookie exchange parties, I hope you will add these to your table!  Enjoy

cran 6

Cranberry Oatmeal Butter Bars
Yields 15
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cups all purpose flour
  2. 2 cups rolled oats
  3. 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
  4. 1/2 tsp baking soda
  5. 1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, melted
  6. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  7. 3 cups fresh cranberries
  8. 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  9. 2 tsp cinnamon, ground
  10. 1 tbsp orange zest
  11. 2 tbsp orange juice
Instructions
  1. preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a 9x13 pan with foil
  2. whisk together flour, oats, brown sugar, baking soda and salt
  3. add the melted butter and vanilla to dry ingredients
  4. press 1/2 the mixture into the bottom of the pan to form a crust
  5. bake crust for 8-10 mintues
  6. prepare the cranberries while the crust is baking: combine cranberries, sugar, cinnamon, orange zest and juice
  7. remove crust from the oven and spread cranberry mixture to cover the crust
  8. add the remaining crumble topping over cranberries
  9. bake for 15-20 minutes until crumb topping is golden brown
  10. cool bars completely before cutting and serving
  11. serve or store in an air tight container
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Holiday Wine and Desserts…A Perfect Pairing

wines and dessertAs the holidays quickly approach, wine and dessert are two of our favorite things. Although wines are usually paired with savory dishes and coffee paired with desserts, wine and desserts can find perfect harmony while livening up your seasonal soiree. So how do you know which wines are the best for your dessert selection? There are a few factors that you need to consider: acidity, intensity and sweetness. The rules are simple: wines pair with like colors; oaky wines go with simple flavors like vanilla bean, butterscotch and caramel; the sweeter the wine, the less sweet the dessert should be. With these easy rules and a list of wine and dessert pairings, step out of the box and try wine instead of coffee at your holiday table. –

Sauvignon Blanc originates from France, specifically Bordeaux and the Loire Valley. Sauvignon Blanc is a dry white wine and is very different than most due to it herb like flavors. While you are sipping on a glass, you are sure to taste hints of lime, green apple and passion fruit as well green bell peppers and jalapeño.
Dessert Pairing: Lemon Meringue Tart

Riesling is one of the most aromatic grapes in the world and is a highly acidic wine that originated in Germany. Riesling has several varieties; dry, semi sweet and sweet and the flavor will vary depending on the region that it was made. Some of the most common flavors that you will find while drinking riesling are lemon, apricot, peach, apple and honey.
Dessert Pairing: Apple Tarte Tatin

Chardonnay is known to be the most popular white grape in the world and it originated in the Burgundy Region of France. The fermentation process for this grape is done in oak barrels which brings out the buttery flavor. Vanilla and cinnamon are some of the flavors that you will taste as well as many tropical flavors such as banana, mango, melon and pineapple while drinking Chardonnay.
Dessert Pairing: Butterscotch Pot de Creme

Prosecco is a sparkling wine that comes from Italy. While sipping on Prosecco you will experience a hint of green apple, honeydew, pears and cream as well as some floral flavors. This wine can be enjoyed on its own or added to fresh squeezed juices or other refreshing cocktails.
Dessert Pairing: Fresh Berries and Whipped Cream

Pinot Noir is known for its subtle flavors of berries, cherries and cranberries. This grape is grown in cooler environments and despite being a weak grape and fairly hard to grow, the price of pinot noir is competitive to other red wines.
Dessert Pairing: Creme Brûlée or Chocolate Mousse

Merlot originating from Bordeaux, this grape has a dark and intense color that gives off flavors of plum, blackberries and leafy greens.
Dessert Pairing: Dark Chocolate Truffles or Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

Port wine is the most common wine to be enjoyed after dinner. Port is a sweet red wine that comes from Portugal and gives off flavors of berries, chocolate, caramel and nuts. This wine should be paired with something not to sweet and might add a touch of salt.
Dessert Pairing: Assorted Cheese Platter

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Rum Balls

IMG_4684We are almost one week away from my favorite day of the year, Thanksgiving!  I don’t know about you, but I love everything about this day; the most delicious food, our family is together all day, and there is no pressure of gifts.  Once we sit down for dinner, we don’t get up for a long time.  We eat until we can’t eat any more and then my family has a tradition to go around the table and say what we are thankful for.  It is really a wonderful tradition that brings out a lot of laughs and some tears, we reflect on everything the year has brought us.  I am so Thankful for the year that has passed, it has been such a wonderful time in my families life watching our two little ones grow and evolve into the funny, silly and caring girls they are. We are so blessed to have so many kids in our life bringing so much joy!!! And, our family is growing with another little one coming this week, I will have a new nephew.  This is what life is all about!   
IMG_4677I am also so thankful for my love of baking.  The kitchen is truly my happy place, whether I have a moment alone or my girls are sitting on the counter watching me and trying to eat everything I make :) As I start my holiday baking, this is one of my go to, simple and actually requires no baking.  Rums Balls are the size of a truffle, a strong rum flavor and are coated with sugar crystals for the perfect crunch.  Enjoy these for a holiday dinner or share them as a gift this season!

IMG_4736

Rum Balls
Yields 20
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Ingredients
  1. 1 1/2 Cups Pecan, finely chopped
  2. 1 1/2 Cups Vanilla Wafers, finely chopped
  3. 1/2 Cup Powdered Sugar
  4. 2 Tbsp Cocoa Powder
  5. 2 Tbsp Corn Syrup
  6. 1/4 Cup Rum
  7. Sugar Crystals (for coating)
Instructions
  1. In a food processor, finely chop pecan pieces and vanilla wafers; place in a medium bowl
  2. Add powdered sugar, cocoa powder, corn syrup and rum to pecan mixture
  3. Stir ingredients together until fully combine and forms a ball
  4. Scoop 1" balls on to parchment paper and roll each ball until smooth
  5. Dip and roll each rum ball into sugar crystals until fully coated
  6. Chill the rum balls for until ready to serve
Adapted from Joy of Baking
Adapted from Joy of Baking
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Rustic Italian….Spezzo

spezzo 1A few weeks ago I was treated to lunch at Spezzo, a rustic Italian restaurant with a modern feel.  As I walked through the doors, I was immediately drawn to the design of the restaurant as well as the attention to detail.  Black and white tiles and dried flowers hanging from the ceiling made me feel like I was in an old Italian home.  As I took a quick tour of the kitchen and smelled the fresh and handmade pizza dough, I knew it was going to be a great lunch.  Fresh and tasty appetizers, a large selection of handcrafted pizza (gluten free available), pastas and seasonal gelato, this family friendly restaurant is perfect for a authentic fast casual lunch or dinner and any of your holiday gatherings!  spezzo 2spezzo 4spezzo 5

As much as I enjoyed the food, I loved hearing about how Spezzo came to life, from COO Rob Goldblatt.  I will definitely be back for more!    

When did Spezzo Open? May 2015

What did you have in mind while creating the menu?  We started with a simple passion for creating authentic rustic Italian food and put a spin on it to make a fresh new concept: Chef-crafted meals, made from scratch, fast.

Who is the Chef that created the Menu and what is his restaurant background? We engaged Tom Fleming as our menu architect. Chef Fleming earned his superstar status with his contributions to local institutions like Pappas Bros. Steakhouse, Riviera, Mediterraneo, Lombardi Mare, Lobster Ranch, and his own Crossroads Diner.

Is everything made from scratch? Our Pizza dough, bread, sauces, dressings, meatballs and zucchini cakes are all made by hand from scratch. We roast our fresh vegetables daily for our pastas and pizzas. We make our own fresh mozzarella that is used on a number of our sandwiches, panini and pizzas. The calamari are hand breaded in house as well as the chicken for our Milanese and parmigiana platters and sandwiches. Our white bean soup is another of our specialties that is made form scratch.

Any organic or locally grown ingredients? We support local farms by buying their fresh produce and meats when we can.

Best 3 items on your Menu? Meatball Plate, No.5 Pizza ( Spinach, roasted garlic,local sausage, portobello mushrooms), Marco Pollo Panini (Chicken breast, prosciutto, tomato, sage, fontina cheese & pesto mayo).

Most popular dessert on your menu? Gelato is everyone’s favorite. Right now we have a couple of new favors for the fall – Pumpkin Cheesecake and Autumn Crunch.

Any secret/off the menu items that we should know about? We have an item we call the 3.14 Salad. It is a full size cheese pizza topped with our fresh mixed greens salad. (I usually make it a Caesar salad – a double secret!). spezzo 8Visit Spezzo at 4901 W. Park Blvd Plano, TX
Ink Foods Signature

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