For many years Spence and I enjoyed Scallops Chambord on New Years Eve with a chilled bottle of Prosecco, a roaring fire and a great movie. We looked forward to this decadent meal with the anticipation of kids on Christmas morning.
That changed after I lost Spence in 2017. I put the tradition on pause, it felt too sad to continue it. I hoped I’d feel differently one day and this year I did. The passage of time, gratitude for good health and so many blessings in my life allowed me to embrace our tradition once again. It was fabulous!
On March 9th I started a new Instagram account featuring photos of meals I’ve prepared and food enjoyed during my travels. With our world in crisis this account has connected me with chefs and foodies around the globe – and right now we can all use more connections. You can find me on Instagram at laurasprettyfood
Having just created a new twist on my flatbread-for-one recipes, I wanted to share it with my followers.
Caprese-Style Chicken Flatbread
1/2 c chopped rotisserie chicken
1/4 c spiced ricotta (see recipe below)
1/2 c chopped heirloom tomatoes
fresh basil and parsley leaves – torn
1/4 – 1/3 c shredded mozarella
aged balsamic vinegar – to drizzle
Heat oven to 400. I use my cast iron skillet and like to preheat it for 5 minutes while prepping the flatbread and toppings.* Brush the bottom of the flatbread with a little olive oil. Place it into the skillet and bake for 5-8 minutes. Remove from oven and spread the ricotta, followed by the chicken and tomatoes, basil, parsley and mozzarella. Drizzle balsamic over the top and return to the oven for 5-6 minutes, until the cheese is melted.
*Flatbreads can be done on a grill pan – or right on the grill.
Spicy Ricotta – enough for 4 flatbreads
1 c ricotta
1 t garlic powder
red pepper flakes – to taste
1/4 t Trader Joe’s Chili Lime Seasoning
2 t olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
Mix ingredients together. Refrigerate for an hour….overnight (even better).
Lately I’m a bit obsessed with flatbreads. Often its a challenge – what to make for a delicious dinner….for one person. Enter flatbreads, something I frequently order off appetizer menus and my recent love-fest with HelloFresh has only intensified my obsession and imagination.
Today I raided the fridge for ingredients. I’d had company for several days during which I cooked great meals that left me with some amazing leftovers….this is what I created.
Barbecue Chicken Flatbread
1/2-3/4 c chopped rotisserie chicken
2-3 T herbed, garlic ricotta (see recipe below)
Grape tomatoes 6-8 sliced in half
1/3 c Italian shredded cheese blend
red pepper flakes
Heat oven to 400. I used my cast iron skillet and like to preheat it for 5 minutes while prepping the flatbread and toppings. Brush the bottom of the flatbread with a little olive oil. Spread the ricotta, followed by the chicken and tomatoes. Drizzle barbecue sauce over the top, add red pepper flakes and cheese. Place into hot skillet and bake 10 minutes.
Remove from oven and top with Italian parsley. After 5 minutes, cut into wedges and serve.
Herbed garlic ricotta (enough for several flatbreads)
1 c ricotta
1-2 t garlic powder
fresh herbs – I used chopped chives and thyme
1-2 t olive oil
Mix ingredients together and refrigerate. I like to make this at least a few hours or the night before I use it.
Tonight I turned to my fridge, freezer, pantry and herb garden for inspiration and made this delicious meal for one. It was so tasty I wanted to share it here.
Shrimp and White Beans over Angel Hair Pasta
15-20 cooked shrimp
8 oz white beans
8 oz heirloom grape & cherry tomatoes – halved
4 oz angel hair pasta
1/2 c toasted panko bread crumbs
1 large or 2 small garlic cloves – minced
1 T chopped shallot
1 T olive oil
2 T fresh lemon juice
1 T dry white wine
2 T butter
1 t oregano
1 T toasted pine nuts
red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to taste
Mix toasted panko bread crumbs with oregano.Chiffonade fresh basil. Cook angel hair pasta as directed on packaging. In a large skillet add olive oil, garlic and shallots and saute for 3-4 minutes at a medium heat, Add red pepper flakes, shrimp and white beans.. After 2-3 minutes, add tomatoes, lemon juice and wine, lower heat and allow to simmer for 3 minutes, add butter, salt and pepper to taste.
In a bowl, layer pasta then add shrimp and bean mixture. Top with pine nuts, panko and basil and serve immediately.
Mom is joining me for today’s Easter dinner and for the last week I was on the fence about what I’d fix. Mom is easy as she loves everything I cook – and tells me I should be on Chopped (home chef edition), with my inevitable win launching my own Food Network show but I digress.
A few days ago I saw rack of lamb and the decision was made. Mom and I both love lamb chops and I’ve made those many times. I’ve cooked rack of lamb only once and grilled it. It was delicious though my friend Terry had to start my grill as the one time prior that I’d lit it, I blew the lid back and lost all my arm hair. Spence was always my grill master and though Mom would (and could) light my grill I had decided to go a different way.
After scanning cookbooks and Pinterest for ideas I quickly realized that I hadn’t picked up fresh herbs – never a problem from May-October when my herb garden provides more than I need. What’s a girl to do? It was noon, my homemade croutons were done and cooling, our favorite Rhubarb Custard pie is in its final 20 minutes of cook time, sweet potatoes poked and ready for baking, my dijon vinaigrette prepared. I’m still in my jammies and not enough time to shower and run out for fresh herbs before mom arrives. Though dried herbs might work, I knew I could do better.
Then it hit me – make a crust using pesto with its lovely green color and fresh herb flavors mixed with Panko breadcrumbs, both of which were in my gourmet pantry! Brilliant kitchen hack if I don’t say so.
Pesto Panko Crusted Rack of Lamb – serves 2-4
1 rack of lamb
1 c Panko breadcrumbs
2 T pesto
salt & pepper
Several hours before dinner mix together the breadcrumbs and pesto. Score the fat side of the rack, salt and pepper to taste. Wrap the bones in foil to prevent burning. Cover all sides of the rack with the breadcrumb mixture using more on the fat side which will be face up when cooking. Pat it down to make the crust. Refrigerate for several hours.
Two hours before you’d like to serve dinner, remove the rack from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature for 45-60 minutes. Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a rimmed baking pan with parchment paper and place the rack into the pan. Drizzle a little olive oil over the rack.
Cook time will depend on how rare you like your chops – check at 15-18 minutes for rare to medium rare (my preference) by inserting a meat thermometer look for the internal temp of 120 degrees. Remove from oven and tent, the temperature will increase to 125-130 degrees; allow it to rest for 10 minutes.
Remove the foil. To preserve the crust for serving and presentation, I cut them 2 bones per chop. I served these with a nice bottle of red wine, spinach salad with homemade croutons and Dijon vinaigrette, the aforementioned baked sweet potatoes with butter and fresh grated nutmeg – and of course the pie.
When I received my box on Tuesday this week I was disappointed to see that the two entrees I received were not the ones I selected. The good news was two-fold 1) the ones they sent were meals that looked delicious and 2) when I called, they immediately applied a credit to my next order. I offered to send photos and it was not necessary. An email arrived within minutes apologizing and documenting their resolution. I couldn’t ask for more.
Especially now that I’ve had both meals – absolutely loved them.
The first one I fixed the day I got the box. Although I’ve enjoyed some pretty spectacular burgers in my lifetime, it would be easy to say this might have been the best one ever.
The Melty Monterey Jack Burger with Red Onion Jam and Breaded Zucchini. Seriously. This burger rocked my world.
Tonight I fixed the Sweet as Honey Chicken with Green Beans and Jasmine Rice. And again, I had a meal that was delicious and flavorful but also it was one of two 540 calorie meals that were offered for this week which was a nice benefit (others being higher in calories but still balanced and healthy). If I’d had this in a restaurant I would have sent my regards to the chef. As it was, I patted myself on the back.
So far, I’m a fan of HelloFresh and with each new box, I feel certain that my positive experiences will continue.
This blog represents my opinions and enthusiasm but no compensation from HelloFresh. From inception I didn’t want to have advertisements on my blog, (no judgements) simply my preference.
Recently my friend Tom, a fellow foodie, recommended a documentary that he considers a “must see”. It’s on Netflix right now and sounded interesting so I poured a glass of wine and queued it up. If you’ve followed my blog you know that I’ve made very few movie recommendations over the last four years, only doing so when it’s one that has inspired me to share.
Released in 2012, Jiro Dreams of Sushi is the fascinating, joyful story of Jiro Ono an 85 year old Sushi Master and owner of Sukiyabashi Jiro, a Michelin three-star restaurant. Sukiyabashi Jiro is a 10-seat, sushi-only restaurant located in a Tokyo subway station. Jiro Ono serves a tasting menu of roughly 20 courses, for a minimum of 30,000 Japanese yen ($281 USD). with a well deserved reputation of creating the best sushi in the world. And his is the only Michelin star recipient whose restaurant doesn’t have its own restroom (though you can use one in the subway).*
The movie is sub-titled which is worth mentioning though it does nothing to detract from the fascinating and mesmerizing story. I was enthralled by the artistry and mouth-watering sushi but Jiro is the star here. His life story is incredible and his passion for his craft is inspiring. The old saying that “when you love what you do you’ll never work a day in your life” has never seemed more accurate.
The movie is a feast for the eyes and a story that will stay with you long after you’ve seen it. Suffice it to say that this blogger feels compelled to share her recommendation that you make a point of watching this documentary.
If you need more Jiro, check out YouTube as there are many short clips worth seeing.
* Some content is from Wikipedia with photos from Pinterest.
For those following this blog you know I love to cook. I have my Doctorate from the Food Network (okay I’m making that up), dozens of cookbooks, numerous Pinterest foodie boards and an overall obsession with great food. I was aware of these meal services – HelloFresh, Blue Apron, Home Chef – but felt they weren’t for me.
Until a week ago…..
Having passed the one year mark since losing Spence, I started looking at these meal services through a different lens. Cooking for one with a love of food but a small appetite, I’d been finding that food was going to waste – especially produce. Cooking for one, I rarely try new recipes and was in a bit of a rut. I checked out several sites and for me it came down to looking at the meal choices. HelloFresh had me at “Hello” (random Jerry McGuire reference).
The smallest commitment, two 2 serving meals per week (from a choice of ten) made sense for me. There’s no contract and you can skip a week(s) or quit anytime, flexible and hassle free.
Via text updates, I knew my shipment would arrive on Tuesday via UPS. Everything was well-packaged and super fresh, a huge re-usable cold pack inside and the box was lined with a cooler-type insert.
My chosen meals were Lemony Cheese Tortelloni with Pancetta, Peas and Zucchini and Pan Seared Duck Breasts with Duck-Fried Potatoes, Asparagus and Grape Tomatoes.
I made the Tortelloni first, using half the ingredients which were more than ample for a single serving.
I made the recipe exactly as written, making any notes on how I’d enhance the second portion later in the week. I’d add toasted pine nuts, a pinch of red pepper flakes and shave Parmigiano Reggiano over the top adding both texture and flavor.
I love duck and when I see it on a menu I order it – but I’ve never prepared it. HelloFresh gave me a fool-proof recipe and opportunity to try something I’d never done. Count me in…
The Pan Seared Duck entrée was…..perfection! I savored every bite and I can’t wait to make the second portion in the future. I don’t think I’d change anything!
There are lots of enticing first-time offers by these meal services that ultimately make your first order inexpensive and with no long-term committment what have you got to lose?