Filet Mignon with Balsamic Reduction and Goat Cheese

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Too much of a good thing is impossible. At least when it comes to goat cheese.

I am a goat cheese fanatic, and I am always looking for new ways to incorporate this rich and flavorful cheese into my recipes. Plus, for those that are lactose intolerant, it’s an LI friendly cheese!

Now, although Pleadings & Pasta likes to create original dishes, sometimes you come across a flawless recipe that needs to be shared with everyone. This recipe is one of those.

Ms. Giada De Laurentiis is my culinary muse, and her effortless approach to cooking is embodied in this recipe for a filet mignon with balsamic reduction and goat cheese.

The tangy balsamic reduction brought me back to my epic dinner at Acqua al 2 in Florence, Italy where I had a similar dish. The goat cheese melts so beautifully and makes for a fancy, but easy meal.20131014-122808.jpg

Eat with all of your heart,

G

Nutella Banana Fold-Overs

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Sometimes you just want dessert. Warm, gooey, chocolatey dessert.

However you don’t have a whole afternoon to dedicate to making a decadent dessert. So in honor of a visit to a dear friend and fellow chef in training, I made these nutella banana fold-overs as the perfect finish to our meal.

As a young girl I grew up on Nutella sandwiches. All of the kids in the lunch room would ask me how I convinced my mom to make me “chocolate sandwiches” and at the time, I had no idea how I was so fortunate. But, later on I learned Nutella is a staple of many European households, and growing up Italian-American, we were no exception to this rule!

Although I don’t eat Nutella as often as I did when I was a kid, it is still such a special treat for me and this recipe is a great way to get your Nutella fix.

Nutella Banana Fold-Overs

1/2 cup Nutella

Frozen phyllo dough or pastry dough equivalent

Sliced Bananas

1. Defrost the dough, and cut into squares

2. Fill with nutella and a few bananas

3. Fold over into a triangle shape, bake on 400 degrees for about 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.

4. Serve warm (be careful though, I wasn’t patient and burned my  mouth in the process since it was fresh out of the oven)

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Eat with all of your heart,

G

Rosemary Rack of Lamb

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Fall is here.

With the changing leaves, and chilly temperature comes the desire for rich, flavorful dishes to usher out the light, refreshing ones of summer.

Rack of lamb has always intimidated me with its fancy presentation, and the ability to truly destroy it by over or undercooking it. However, I took up the challenge and the result was juicy, tender, and downright delectable.

Rosemary Rack of Lamb

Pleadings & Pasta 2013

1 Rack of Lamb

Olive oil

5-7 Sprigs of Rosemary

4-6 cloves of garlic

Salt and pepper to taste

1. Generously salt and pepper the rack of lamb. Crumble the rosemary sprigs and rub vigorously into the meat on both sides. Wrap the meat in plastic wrap and put in fridge for 2 hours.

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2. Remove lamb from fridge and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, still wrapped.

3. Heat up a skillet to medium to high heat. Remove lamb from wrap, and brown the lamb on both sides (about 3-4 minutes per side). Meanwhile heat up the oven to 400 degrees.

4. Transfer the rack to a pre-heated cookie sheet wrapped in foil and place in pre-heated oven.

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5. Cook for 12-15 minutes and then flip and repeat. Regularly check the lamb to determine how cooked the inside is. Some of my guests prefer their lamb more “well” whereas others like it more rare.

6. Remove and transfer to a cutting board. Slice according to the bone, and serve with mashed potatoes, asparagus, or your side of choosing!

 

 

Eat with all of your heart,

 

G

“Béchamel” Pumpkin Pasta

 

 

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Pumpkin, Pleadings, & Pasta. October will be featuring all kinds of fun ways to dress up the basic ingredient of pumpkin!

 

Today’s feature is something I whipped up when I was craving a festive pasta alfredo. Now, a few words on alfredo. Since I eat dairy free, it’s not something I can enjoy regularly. Further, it’s usually calorie ridden, heavy, and isn’t the most authentic Italian cuisine.

 

Enter bechamel. For those of you that don’t know what a bechamel sauce is, it’s actually a foundational component of a lot of french cooking.  Traditionally it is a roux of butter and flour cooked in milk, and infused with herbs sometimes.

 

I started with a bechamel-esque base (for those purists, it’s far from the original since I used almond milk and not a lot of butter), and built from there. The result was light and satisfying, yet comforting. It makes for a great addition to a cozy fall evening.

 

“Béchamel” Pumpkin Pasta

By Pleadings & Pasta 2013

1/2 cup almond milk

1/2 cup of pumpkin puree

2-3 oz of goat cheese

1 tablespoon of butter

1.5 tsp of flour

Several cloves of garlic

A few springs of fresh rosemary

Salt and pepper to taste

a dash of cinnamon

Pasta of your choice

 

1. Melt butter and whisk in flour. Add garlic cloves (crushed)

2. Heat through for 2 minutes then add almond milk and rosemary and bring to a boil

3. Once fragrant, add pumpkin puree and simmer until thickened.20131003-185523.jpg

4. Add goat cheese at the end, salt and pepper to taste and whisk smooth.

 

 

20131003-185536.jpg5. Boil pasta in salted water until al dente. Drain and add immediately into the “bechamel” pumpkin sauce.

6. Serve hot and enjoy!

Feel free to test run the recipe with other herbs too, including sage which is always a nice compliment to pumpkin.

Eat with all of your heart,

G

Avocado Eggrolls

 

One of my biggest guilty pleasures in life is the avocado egg roll from the Cheesecake Factory. Honestly, I could sit down and order 3 orders and eat them in one sitting. Nothing compares to that warm comforting avocado and the to die for dipping sauce.

However, a quick google search will alert you to the fact that these babies are high in calories, and at over $10 just for the appetizer, can be painful to your wallet as well.

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Enter Pleadings & Pasta. Sure I wanted to create my own at home but I also wanted them to be healthier than the original. Guess what? The do it yourself recipe I whipped up will satisfy that craving immediately and it’s easy to make. Such a great way to kick start off your meal.

 

 

Avocado Eggrolls

By Pleadings & Pasta 2013

Store bought eggroll wrappers (in the fruit and vegetable section by the tofu)

Filling

Cilantro

Olive oil

1 red onion

2-3 avocados (depending on size)

Salt, pepper, and a dash of cumin

1 Lime juiced

 

Dipping Sauce

2/3 cup honey

1/2 lime juice

Cilantro

Spot of Sriracha (if you want a kick!)

 

  1. Mix the filling ingredients together in a bowl. I like to chop my avocados into nice big chunks, as it looks prettier for presentation purposes. Also, dice the red onions as small as possible so you balance the flavor out in the roll.
  2. Line a pan with aluminum foil (oiled) or parchment paper.
  3. Fill the wrappers with a tablespoon full of filling. You don’t want these to be overflowing to the point where the filling falls out.
  4. To wrap: turn the wrapper so there is a pointy edge facing you (as opposed to a straight line). Then, fold the pointy edge away from you over the filling. Then take the left and right side and fold it on top of the side you just folded. Then roll the entire roll closed and place on parchment paper or oiled aluminum foil.
  5. Spread olive oil over the tops of the wrappers. This makes for a crispier egg roll!
  6. Once you’ve filled all of the wrappers, place in an oven at 400 degrees. Cook for 15 minutes or until wrappers are crispy and a light brown.
  7. For the sauce: Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. This is one part of the recipe where your own interests will really effect if you add more or less of the ingredients. Some people like it sweeter others more tangy, so go ahead and be creative!
  8. Once done, serve hot (oh that warm avocado!) with the sauce.

I dare you to have just one. Spoiler alert: It’s impossible.

 

Eat with all of your heart,

G

Bistro Sliders

 

 

 

Hamburgers for many foreigners are a symbol of American cuisine. What once was a basic beef patty, lettuce, tomato, cheese offering has morphed into a modern day art. Burger speciality restaurants have opened all across the nation, and chefs and restaurant goers alike are becoming more adventurous in their burger tastes. These “risk takers” range from lamb burgers to topping your patty with a fried egg.photo 4

Burgers are a great way to cover all of your food group basics in one meal, and allow you to truly be creative in your execution of the recipe. Plus with the fourth of July coming up, this recipe is a great one to try and share with your red, white, and blue clad guests.  I will be sharing some of my various burger hybrids on the blog but to start, I present to you the Bistro Slider. The mixture of flavors on this recipe was mindblowingly delicious. Savory, tangy, and down right delicious.

Bistro Sliders

By Pleadings and Pasta 2013

 

Ingredients

1/2 cup of sliced crimini mushrooms

Low fat feta cheese

Dijon Mustard or Trader Joe’s Garlic Aioli (a favorite!)

Lettuce of choice (leaf lettuce or spinach works)

Slider buns

1lb Lean ground beef

Salt, pepper, and olive oil

 

`1. Take the ground beef and mix a few drizzles of olive oil, and salt and pepper together. (I’ve gone back and forth on the use of eggs to bind burgers and for this particular recipe, I go without it and they turn out delicious!)

2. Heat a skillet on the stove top to medium heat and form the patties to fit in the cup of your palm. You want them to be small enough to fit on your slider buns

3. Cook thoroughly (about 4 minutes each side until inside cooked to your preference) and remove from heat.

4. Meanwhile toast the slider buns (Can be done on the stovetop by buttering and heating over warm heat, or in the oven, or a toaster. It’s up to you!)

5. Create the mushroom topping. Sautee the crimini mushrooms in a little olive oil until cooked through (approximately 6-8 minute). If you are feeling daring add a dash of soy sauce or terriyaki sauce for flavor.

6. Spread dijon mustard on the buns. Then lay lettuce, patty, mushrooms, feta, and bun in that order.

7. Serve with sweet potato fries or a fresh salad and enjoy!

I kid you not, I sat in my kitchen making “yum” noises the entire time I ate these burgers. The combination of flavors is that good.

What’s your favorite burger combination? Better yet, how daring have you been in your search for the perfect burger toppings?

Eat with all of your heart,

G

Protein Power Bites

Getting back into the swing of things with a workout regiment can be draining. Your body is eating up a ton of calories, and you need to refuel with the right stuff to make sure you can push through your workouts and have enough energy to go back for round two later in the week.

photo 3Lately I have been feeling exhausted after my workouts and I don’t feel like I’m ready to go full throttle into the protein shake and protein bar world quite yet. Holly of Eat Great BE Great made a post that inspired my recipe below. See Holly’s original post here.

Her collection of protein bites inspired me to make my own Pleadings & Pasta variation on these powerful and tasty protein bites for a post workout snack.

Protein Power Bites

By Pleadings and Pasta 2013

1 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup chocolate chips

1/2 cup coconut flakes or crushed coconut chips

1/4 cup ground flax seed

1/2 cup almond flour

3/4 cup natural salted peanut butter (I love trader Joe’s brand, the orange label)

1/4 cup honey

2-3 tbsp of cinnamon (depending on how much you like)

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Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl. Incorporate well. Form into balls and place in fridge. Will hold for up to one week. Note, the above measurements may vary a bit depending on how creamy your peanut butter is, so adjust as necessary.

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I’m warning you now, these are addictive! But they definitely cure the post workout hunger pangs, and give you a nice energy boost as a result of some healthy and delicious ingredients.

Work out with all of your might and eat with all of your heart,

G