Sweet Escape 2014 is 1 Month Away

Sweet Escape 2014 Culinary Retreat
Don't miss out on your chance to join in on this unforgettable summer culinary retreat in Vermont. Round-trip transportation from NYC is included!


Creamy Green Vegetable Soup with Bacon

I believe the best quick soups start and end with bacon. You don't even need much, but it adds an unmistakable richness and level of background flavor that's otherwise tough to recreate unless you have hours.

(And I am very impatient, so I rarely have hours.)

For this soup, I follow up the bacon with handfuls of green things--asparagus, zucchini, spinach--cooked just barely, then pureed until smooth and creamy. A bit of lemon for brightness. Garlic for spice.  Toasted pumpkin seeds and the reserved bits of bacon, for crunch.

I made this soup on one of those days when I needed a filling meal, but didn't want chicken or shrimp or pasta or any of the other things in my fridge.

It was soothing and cozy and (so so) easy.

I pureed this until velvety smooth in my blender--a super high powered Ninja that I love, but you can also use an immersion blender or a food processor. Whatever you have.

Love Always Order Dessert? Let's connect! Follow me on Twitter or Pinterest, become a fan on Facebook, or sign up to receive my once-a-week e-mail updates. And if you ever need any entertaining or cooking advice, please don't hesitate to e-mail me. Thanks for reading!    

Creamy Green Vegetable Soup with Bacon
Serves 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 strips bacon, cut into 1" pieces
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1 medium onion, diced
3 large garlic cloves, crushed
1 bunch asparagus, woody ends trimmed and discarded, chopped into 1" pieces
3 large zucchini, diced
4 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
1 teaspoon kosher salt 
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup loosely packed parsley
5 cups baby spinach
Juice of 1 large lemon

Fry bacon in oil in a large pot over medium heat, until bacon is crisp and fat is rendered. Remove crispy bacon and set aside (reserve bacon fat in pot). Add the pumpkin seeds, and saute 2 minutes, or until toasted. Remove and set aside alone with cooked bacon.

Add the onions and garlic, and saute 2 minutes, just until fragrant. Add the asparagus, zucchini, water and salt, and let simmer 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add the parsley, spinach, and lemon juice, and puree until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning, then serve garnished with pumpkin seeds and bacon. 


25 Awesome Breakfast Recipes You Have to Try

Start your day off on an amazing note with one of these 25 Awesome Breakfast Recipes. Whether you are looking for something sweet or savory, you'll definitely find something to satisfy your cravings.

Scroll down and get inspired!

1. Spicy Maple Candied Bacon. This killer bacon side dish really doesn't need much explanation as the name says it all. One tip: you should double the batch--it goes quickly!

2. Running behind, but still need a quick breakfast side? Try this 10-Minute Sweet Potato Breakfast Hash. So so good, and ready in a snap!

3. Have guests coming over? Give these cute little Baked Hash Brown Cups a try! Crispy on the outside and filled with all sorts of goodness. It's the perfect brunch dish!

4. Cranberry Chocolate Chip Pull-Apart Bread. This is one of my FAVORITES! (Eugene's too.) Tart cranberries and chocolate chips layered between slices of buttery, fluffy bread.

5. Homemade Sopapillas (little pillows of fried dough) are delicious at any time of day, but I love them for breakfast, served alongside a pot of warm honey. Such a fun weekend treat!

6. Chocolate Parker House Rolls. This cocoa-twist on the classic parker house roll recipe is perfect for brunch. Serve with some sweet butter and your favorite egg dish.

7. Ice cream for breakfast?! Totally cool when it's dairy-free Chocolate Banana Ice Cream--made from frozen pureed bananas, it's basically a smoothie--but way more fun.

8. Mix up your morning yogurt cups with one of these 8 Sweet DIY Yogurt Cup Ideas.

9. Almond Croissant Oatmeal--all the decadent flavors, in a totally wholesome package. This is THE ultimate breakfast oatmeal recipe.

10. Cinnamon Dulce de Leche & Poached Pear Chopped Bread. Chopped bread is so much fun to make--you basically attack a ball of dough (and some yummy fillings), then bake all the chunks together for a delicious treat that can be pulled apart.

11. Spinach Goat Cheese Ham Cups are a fun idea. I love to make these in advance so I can enjoy them on busy weekday mornings.

12. Eat chocolate for breakfast with this gluten-free Triple Chocolate Quinoa Granola.

13. These easy Baked Apple Cider Donuts are lightly spiced and not too sweet; perfect for a weekend brunch or served alongside a cup of coffee as a mid-morning snack.

14. Homemade S'Mores Granola tastes just like your favorite summer treat, but in breakfast form! (I also love a bowl of this with milk as a midnight snack.)

15. I'm a firm believer that granola bars should always be chewy--which is why I love these Chocolate Hazelnut Chia Granola Bars. Super chewy with amazing flavors.

16. Zucchini & Chorizo Egg Muffins: These bite-sized frittatas are perfect when serving a crowd--or for easy weekday breakfasts. Packed with a mix of veggies and chorizo, they're so so good. Another recipe you may want to double...

17. Tortilla Espanola is a classic Spanish recipe. A large omelet filled with sliced potatoes and onions. Wonderful for breakfast, it's also a great afternoon snack or low-key dinner.

18. Don't feel like standing over the stove flipping pancakes? Make A Dutch Baby Pancake, instead! You simply mix up a batter and then bake it in the oven. Served with a delicious cinnamon-orange syrup, it's an easy brunch recipe.

19. Fluffy Orange Ricotta Pancakes: The fluffiest pancakes you've ever tasted.

20. Some days you need something cozy for breakfast. That's when this sweet and comforting Cremita de Maiz (Puerto Rican Breakfast Cornmeal Porridge) comes in.

21. Apple Pie Oatmeal--it's like having dessert for breakfast!

22. You'll need a special aebleskiver pan for these pancake balls, but it's totally worth it! Yummy Pancake Balls Filled with Cream Cheese.

23. Few things as delicious as a slice of toasted Classic Banana Bread topped with butter or cream cheese.

24. Need a fun Paleo breakfast idea? Try this Giant Flourless Chocolate Cashew Muffins. You won't believe they have NO flour in them!

25. The Best Blueberry Buttermilk Pancake Recipe ever. Seriously.

Cookies & Cream Waffles

Yup, I put cookies in my waffle batter. And now, I want YOU to put cookies in your waffle batter.

Earlier this month, I was contacted by the folks at Loacker--the brand behind these amazing little bite-sized Italian wafer cookies that I've been obsessed with for a while.

They were planning a recipe contest, and wanted to know if I'd be interested in taking part. I'm not usually super into recipe contests, but I was in a bit of a cooking slump and thought it would be a fun way to force me to get creative.

So I said yes, and waited for my supplies to arrive. The brand sent me one bag each of three of their most popular flavors, and I got to work.

(Work in this case meant eating cookies and thinking about things I can do with them.)

And then I heard this loud beeping coming out of the kitchen. Thinking it was a fire alarm, I ran in to see what the fuss was, when I noticed that I'd somehow accidentally turned on my waffle iron while wiping down the counter, so it was beeping to let me know that it was ready to cook.

You guys...the waffle iron was basically talking to me and telling me to make waffles.

So I did! Cookies & Cream Waffles, to be exact.

I decided to use the Quadratini Dark Chocolate cookies, which are layered waffle cookies filled with a dark chocolate cream. Chopped up into small pieces (think chocolate-chunk-sized), they were perfect to fold into a creamy, vanilla-scented batter.

And the results? SO SO good!

The waffle is light, sweet with the perfect amount of vanilla flavor, and the little chunks of cookies add a delicious crunchy chocolate surprise with each bite.

These are fun dessert waffles, and I actually prefer them served plain, but I wouldn't get mad if you drizzled a bit of syrup on top.

(I bet a scoop of ice cream would be good, too!)

(See how you can see the bits of cookies inside the waffle?) FYI that this recipe makes about 2 large waffles or 8 small square waffles (all waffle makers are different, but that should give you an idea. This, by the way, is my favorite waffle maker.)

Do you like this recipe? It would be so cool if you could please pin one of these images from this post and include the hashtag #pureingredients--that's how the folks judging the contest will be able to tell who the winner is.

And be sure to let me know how you like the recipe!

Want to try these cookies for yourself? Click here for a coupon on your next purchase of Loacker cookies.

You can also follow Loacker on Instagram or Facebook to learn about other fun contests and discounts. 

Thank you!!

Love Always Order Dessert? Let's connect! Follow me on Twitter or Pinterest, become a fan on Facebook, or sign up to receive my once-a-week e-mail updates. And if you ever need any entertaining or cooking advice, please don't hesitate to e-mail me. Thanks for reading!    

Cookies & Cream Waffles
Fluffy vanilla waffles studded with chunks of chocolate wafer cookies. Recipes yields about 2 large waffles or 8 small waffles

2 cups chocolate filled wafer cookies (such as Loacker Quadratini Chocolate Wafers or your favorite brand)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter, melted

Preheat your waffle iron. Use a knife to chop wafer cookies into 1/2" pieces. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, buttermilk, vanilla extract, and butter.

Pour wet ingredients in to the dry and mix just until combined. Fold in the chopped cookies.

Prepare waffles in waffle iron, according to your manufacturer's instructions.

Serve immediately with your favorite waffle toppings.

Italian Chicken Meatballs with Saucy Kale

I am fairly certain I've eaten a version of this meatball dish for lunch or dinner at least 5 times over the past couple weeks.

Possibly even more than that.

(Probably even more than that.)

With a little prep, it's such a simple recipe. The chicken meatballs can be made and baked in advance, then kept frozen for fast meals on those days when you can barely handle more than a few minutes of waiting for things to heat up.

To make the final dish, simply combine the chicken meatballs with your favorite tomato sauce (homemade or jarred--I'm obsessed with Rao's Arrabiatta sauce) a little broth and a huge handful of kale. Let simmer and serve.


So easy. So good. You don't even need pasta because the kale turns into the perfect base to soak up the sauce, and the meatballs are packed with flavor.

This also works with other meatball recipes, so feel free to substitute your favorite (or use one of my other recipes like this awesome Turkey Bacon Meatballs or these Pepperoni Meatballs).

Love Always Order Dessert? Let's connect! Follow me on Twitter or Pinterest, become a fan on Facebook, or sign up to receive my once-a-week e-mail updates. And if you ever need any entertaining or cooking advice, please don't hesitate to e-mail me. Thanks for reading!    

Italian Chicken Meatballs with Saucy Kale
Serves 4-6

2 cups stale bread torn into pieces (I like something crusty and whole grain)
1/2 cup whole milk
1 medium onion, finely diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 lbs ground chicken (mix of white and dark meat)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 small bunch parsley, finely chopped
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano

2 cups prepared tomato sauce (such as marinara)
3/4 cup chicken broth
5 cups chopped kale
parmesan cheese, for serving

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Combine bread and milk in a large bowl until soaked.

In a medium skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and add the onion and garlic. Saute until softened, then add to the bread and milk mixture along with the ground chicken, cheese, parsley, salt, pepper, and oregano. Divide into 24 meatballs and arrange on baking pan.
Bake 20 minutes, or until cooked through.

Combine meatballs with sauce in large pot over low heat, add broth and cover with kale. Cover pot and let simmer 10-15 minutes, or until kale is tender and sauce has thickened. Stir once, then serve topped with parmesan cheese.

Homemade Chocolate Coconut Water

The grocery service I use occasionally surprises us by adding a free thank you gift to my usual order. These little gifts range a sample of a new product to a sweet treat from their bakery. It's always a welcome surprise, and--more often than not--I find that the new product is actually so good that it ends up in regular rotation on our future grocery orders.

A couple years ago, they added a bottle of Zico chocolate coconut water to my order. I tried it, and was instantly smitten. The drink was refreshing with tons of great chocolate flavor, but then I flipped the bottle around to check out the ingredients, and was disappointed to find the addition of sugar as well as other additives.

I tweeted a message to the company, expressing my disappointment that they would add sugar to something like coconut water that is already naturally sweet, but they said it wasn't very much and still much less sugar than one would find in store-bought chocolate milk.

True, yes, but I would never purchase or drink chocolate milk so it was a moot point.

I never purchased that brand again, and soon moved on to preferring 100% raw coconut water brands like Harmless Harvest and Copra, which are about as close to coconut water that is fresh out of a coconut as you can get.

And then a few days ago, I had an idea!

While sipping from a bottle of coconut water, my eyes laid on an open container of cocoa powder leftover from an earlier baking project. I added some to my water, shook, and took a taste.


Chocolatey coconut water with the perfect level of sweetness and zero added sugar or other additives.

A tiny pinch of sea salt added a bit more balance, and suddenly I knew I had something amazing on my hands. It's become a new favorite around here, and so I figured I'd share.

It's so simple, but so good, and wonderful when you're craving something chocolate.

Even though coconut water is pretty high in natural sugars (about 21g in my 11oz bottle), those sugars are mostly glucose, which is metabolically easier on your system.

With the addition of a few teaspoons of antioxidant-packed natural cocoa, it's a refreshing, healthy treat you can feel good about drinking.

Love Always Order Dessert? Let's connect! Follow me on Twitter or Pinterest, become a fan on Facebook, or sign up to receive my once-a-week e-mail updates. And if you ever need any entertaining or cooking advice, please don't hesitate to e-mail me. Thanks for reading!   

Homemade Chocolate Coconut Water
Makes 1 serving. Multiply as desired.
1 cup (8oz) coconut water (preferably choose an organic raw brand like Harmless Harvest or Copra, or use coconut water fresh from a young thai coconut--the flavor will be so much better than the processed varieties!)
1 1/2 teaspoons natural cocoa powder
1 small pinch sea salt or kosher salt

Combine coconut water, cocoa, and salt in a small bottle or jar. (You can add the cocoa and salt to the coconut water bottle, if you'd like.) Cover and shake vigorously. Best enjoyed within 24 hours. 
NOTE: I found that the bottles of Copra coconut water come in 11oz bottles; if you use that size, just increase the cocoa to a full 2 teaspoons.

Guacamole with Mango and Pomegranate

I first made this fruity guacamole recipe back in January for a live morning TV segment I did on Univision about Super Bowl party foods. The theme was party foods with a twist, so I shared this Guacamole with Fresh Mango and Pomegranate.

The recipe was a hit that day. So much so that as I sat in the break room at the station sipping coffee and waiting for my car service, I watched as one-by-one the producers, camera operators, and even the anchors came into the kitchen to serve themselves a plate of the leftovers from my set.

By the time I left, the bowls were totally clean and people were asking if I had anymore.

(And this was at about 7 in the morning!)

I was inspired to make this guacamole again last weekend after I received my first box of goodies from a new subscription box company called Hampton's Lane.

This really cool service delivers a box of curated ingredients and kitchen gadgets based on a different monthly theme. This month, the theme is Southwestern Fiesta, and the box (2 boxes, actually!) arrived with a jar of spicy Mexican salsa, two different spice mixes, a jar of Salt Trader's Pink Margarita Salt with Chipotle, a bright green lime juicer, and a GORGEOUS authentic Mexican molcajete.

There are a billion different subscription services out there, but I was really impressed with the quality and value that came in this box (those molcajetes alone are often sold for up to $50!). In fact, I reached out to them and asked them if they could offer up an exclusive discount code for my readers and they agreed.

So if you're interested in trying out a Hamptons Lane box, pop on over to their website and use the code "CincoDeMayo" and you'll save $10 off your first box, so you'll only pay $35 and get $75+ worth of goodies.

Now back to the recipe!

As you may have heard, there is a lime shortage going on here in the US, thanks to a mix of bad crops and crazy Mexican cartels who are literally holding limes hostage (seriously?!). The cool thing is that the tart pomegranate and fresh mango actually mean that you have to use less lime juice than you typically would for this recipe.

Although mangoes and pomegranates are probably still more expensive than the most expensive lime, so you'll probably still end up in a hole...

Whatever. It's still worth it! ;)

Love Always Order Dessert? Let's connect! Follow me on Twitter or Pinterest, become a fan on Facebook, or sign up to receive my once-a-week e-mail updates. And if you ever need any entertaining or cooking advice, please don't hesitate to e-mail me. Thanks for reading!  

Guacamole with Fresh Mango and Pomegranate

1/4 red onion, finely diced
1/2 jalapeño, seeded and finely minced (Use more if you like it super spicy!)
1 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
3 ripe hass avocados
1/2 mango, dice into 1/2" cubes
1/3 cup fresh pomegranate arils
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Combine the onion, jalapeño, salt, and 1/2 the  cilantro in a molcajete or bowl and mash together to form a paste.

Add the avocados, and mash into the paste until evenly incorporated (I like to leave it a little bit chunky, but keep mashing if you prefer it super smooth.)

Fold in the diced mango, pomegranate arils, and remaining cilantro. Mix in the lime juice, and then taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
Back to Top