Posts Tagged ‘mascarpone’

Pesto Chicken Pizza with Mascarpone, Spinach, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

This pizza may have a long name but it’s nothing to be afraid of and if you haven’t tried mascarpone on pizza before, you are seriously missing out!

Pesto Chicken Pizza 2

Most of the people in my life are not huge bakers/cookers and to some, food blogging is an exquisite realm full of weird ingredients and crazy techniques. And stories. I had to laugh when one of my best friends expressed her dislike for scrolling down a post to get past the story and to the recipe, because it’s true. When people use Google to find a recipe they want the recipe, myself included. Yet here I sit not writing about this pizza with its long name and unusual ingredients like “mascarpone” and “caramelized onions” and I’m okay with that because I started this blog to chronicle my food adventures and to share those recipes to anyone who wants to try it for themselves. I cannot tell you how many of my parents’ friends have been directed to my blog for the recipe for “X”. People besides my friends and family reading beyond the recipe is just a bonus (heck even my friends and family reading is a bonus). So whether or not you read this, leave a comment, or skip over it all to the recipe I appreciate you being here :-).

P.S. After trying this recipe you’ll want to put mascarpone on every pizza you make from now on.

Pesto Chicken Pizza 1

One year ago: Lattice Chicken and Sweet Potato Potpie

Two years ago: Apple-Cranberry Oatmeal
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Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells

Before I begin, let me preface today’s post by saying I 100% support the motivation of those people who have newly joined a gym and are actually using it and attending group fitness classes. I will always cheer on any person who makes a commitment to their health and well being. That being said…

At the beginning of each new year there is a large influx of new members to gyms everywhere, and the one at which I am a member is no exception. Parking spots have become a little harder to find, but who cares if I have to park further because I’m there to work out, what’s a few extra steps? Upon entering the gym, the cardio and weight lifting areas also have more people utilizing the space, but I purposely joined this gigantic Mecca because even with the influx there are still open machines here and there most of the time. If not there is a short wait.

However, I start to get annoyed when I have to show up at least 30 minutes early to the group fitness classes in order to get in. Thankfully (being a graduate student working in a lab), my schedule is flexible to an extent which allows me to leave a little earlier in order to stake a claim on a bike/mat/etc. But sometimes even getting there 30 minutes ahead of time isn’t enough and that’s when I get really annoyed. When that happens I try to make the best of it and use one of the ellipticals that may be open on the cardio floor instead. But it’s just not the same when no one is in front of you saying “FASTER”, “MORE RESISTANCE”, etc.

Anyway like I said in the beginning, I could never be mad at anyone who is trying to do the same thing as me. So hop on that spin bike and afterwards, make these awesome stuffed shells for dinner! Cause that’s what I would do ;-). Serves with roasted brussels sprouts.

Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells

One year ago: Peanut Butter Fudge Brownie Bricks

Two years ago: English Muffins
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Steph’s Virtual Bridal Shower: Stuffed Flank Steak with Potato Cakes and Amaretto Chocolate Cheesecake

Kita, from Pass the Sushi, contacted me about contributing to Steph’s (from Steph’s Bite by Bite) surprise virtual bridal shower and I definitely knew I wanted to be a part of it. Even though some of us (myself included) are already donating desserts to her dessert bar for the big wedding day, this was a fun idea to do in addition since it is after all, a surprise! Who doesn’t love surprises?

Another thing that I really liked about this idea, is that even though I am very aware that Steph is fully capable of pleasing her soon-to-be-hubby’s belly, she will now have a big new list of great date-night meal ideas to play with. I don’t know if that was the original intention behind this masterful plan, but I think it makes sense.

I decided to go all the way and do a full meal. Naturally, I created a huge mess in my kitchen making everything for this, but I drank a glass of wine in the process so it make it not seem so bad. And had another glass after cleaning up after myself. And then maybe I invited Katie over and we finished the whole bottle while watching Project Runway and being amused by my cat playing with a rubber band. Maybe… yes. Yes, I am getting sidetracked.

I prepped the potato cakes first, then let them sit for a few minutes while I prepared the flank steak. Once the steak was in the oven, I cooked up the potato cakes. The timing was just perfect and I can’t believe how well it all went together. The juicy flavorful steak was served curled up on top of the crunchy potato cakes that were super moist and heavenly. It is a fancified (I may have just made that word up) meat and taters!

As for the cheesecake, it was the logical choice for the end of this meal. With the Italian-ish feel of the steak, having a dessert with Amaretto and mascarpone just seemed right. And it is made one day in advance so the kitchen mess gets spread out between two days. But the dessert really doesn’t make much of a mess. Except maybe a mess of your diet, because I decided it needed a drizzle of Nutella on top while I was at it. Go ahead and try to tell me I was wrong.

Happy surprise virtual bridal shower, Steph!


Serves 2


10 oz. (ish) flank steak

2 oz. goat cheese, brought to room temperature to soften

1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, drained and chopped

3 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped

Salt and pepper

1 Tbsp olive oil


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Butterfly the flank steak, and then pound is to flatten it slightly. Sprinkle both sides of the steak with salt and pepper.
  3. In a bowl, combine the softened goat cheese, sundried tomatoes, basil, a few grinds of pepper. Spread the mixture on top of the flank steak, and then roll it up to form a log. Secure the steak with kitchen twine or toothpicks.
  4. Heat a large, ovenproof skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the flank steak and brown it on all sides. Place the flank steak in the oven to finish cooking to your desired level of doneness (about 1o minutes for me). Place the steak under a foil tent to rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing.


Makes one dozen


1 Tbsp unsalted butter

1 cup packed fresh spinach, stems removed

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 large Idaho potato, boiled and mashed

1/4 cup grated Parmesan

1/4 tsp finely grated lemon zest

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup dried bread crumbs

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Panko bread crumbs

1/4 cup canola oil


  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the butter, melt, then add the spinach and cook, stirring, until wilted. Transfer to a cutting board and let cool. Squeeze the spinach dry and finely chop; place in a large bowl. Add the egg and stir until well combined. Add the mashed potatoes, Parmesan, and lemon zest, and season with more salt and pepper; stir until well combined. Stir in the bread crumbs and flour until the mixture holds together. Pat into 2-inch by 1/2-inch-thick cakes.
  2. Pour Panko bread crumb into a shallow bowl. Coat each potato cake and press down slightly to adhere. Gently shake off any excess and transfer to a plate.
  3. Heat the canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the cakes and cook until lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes per side.


Makes 9 bars


1 stick unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces

1 cup + 2 Tbsp flour, divided

1/4 cup powdered sugar

8 oz. reduced fat cream cheese, at room temperature

8 oz. mascarpone cheese, at room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

3 Tbsp Amaretto

3 large eggs, room temperature

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1/3 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Nutella, melted


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8″ x 8″ square pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang, and set aside.
  2. Cut the butter into 1 cup of the flour and powdered sugar until crumbly. Press evenly  into the prepared pan. Bake for 15 minutes or until light brown.
  3. Meanwhile, beat cream cheese in large bowl until smooth. Add mascarpone and 2 Tbsp flour; beat until smooth, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl with rubber spatula.
  4. Gradually add sugar and beat until smooth. Beat in Amaretto. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.
  5. Divide the batter in half. Add cocoa powder to one of the batters and mix until fully incorporated.
  6. Pour chocolate filling into pie shell. Carefully spoon plain Amaretto batter on top. Scatter chocolate chips if using.
  7. Bake cheesecake until top is golden and cake is almost set (center 2 inches will still move slightly when pan is gently shaken), about 40-50 minutes. Cool cake on rack 1 hour before refrigerating uncovered overnight. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and keep refrigerated.)
  8. Before serving, lift out of the pan using the overhanging parchment paper before cutingt into 9 squares. Drizzle melted Nutella over the top is desired.

Source: Flank Steak from Elly Says Opa. Potato cakes adapted from Epicurious. Cheesecake adapted slightly from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody. Cheesecake shortbread crust from King Arthur Flour.

Eggplant Stuffed Shells

I fell in love with the eggplant burgers I made last week. So much in love that I wanted to try stuffing them into pasta and covering them in sauce. And that’s exactly what I did. Changed a few little things in the eggplant to go along with the Italian flavors, and then sauced it up with not one but TWO sauces. You will have leftover marinara sauce, but I assure you it will not go to waste.

And these stuffed morsels? I was at a loss for words after the first bite. It may take a but of time, but good grief was is more than worth it! Make it. Now. I promise you will fall in love – again.



1/4 cup yellow onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 can whole tomatoes

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp fresh thyme

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp paprika

4 oz mascarpone cheese

2 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped

2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped


20 jumbo pasta shells, cooked

2 large eggplants, peeled and cubed

1/4 cup yellow onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped, plus more for garnish

1 cup shredded Mozzarella

1 cup plain bread crumbs

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Pinch of salt and black pepper

Parmigiano-Reggiano, for garnish


2 Tbsp unsalted butter

4 tsp all-purpose flour

1 cup heavy cream, at room temperature

1/4 cup milk, at room temperature

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp nutmeg


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and lightly grease a 9 x 13 baking pan.
  2. First, make the marinara sauce. In a sauce pan, heat the olive oil and cook the onions for 4-5 minutes, add the garlic and roast for another 2-3 minutes. Pour in the can of tomatoes and remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer and simmer for 30 minutes.
  3. Using an immersion blender (or transfer to a blender), puree until you reach a desired consistency. Turn heat to low and cover until ready to assemble the shells.
  4. For the eggplant, heat a tablepsoon of oil over medium-low in a large pan and cook the cubed eggplant down to a mushy mass, stirring occasionally for approximately 25 minutes. Remove it from the pan and put it in a large bowl.
  5. In the same pan, lightly sauté the onion and garlic for 2 minutes. Add to the bowl of cooked eggplant.
  6. Stir in the parsley, Mozzarella, bread crumbs, and seasonings into the eggplant mixture. Get in there with your hands and mix it up. Set in the fridge for 20-30 minutes to chill.
  7. Meanwhile, prepare the bechamel sauce. Melt the butter in a non-stick sauce pan and slowly add the flour a teaspoon at a time, whisking until well blended (about 3 minutes). Next, whisk in the cream and milk and increase the heat to high until the sauce begins to simmer. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg- cook for another 3 minute then turn heat to low and allow to sit until time to assemble the stuffed shells.
  8. Pour the bechamel sauce into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Scoop a few tablespoons of eggplant filling inside each cooked shell. Place each pasta shell in the sauce, seam up. Dollop a spoonful of the marinara sauce over each shell. Cover the dish with foil and bake it for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and bake it for a final 15 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, if desired, and serve immediately.

Source: Stuffing adapted from Eggplant Veggie Burgers. Sauces adapted from Kitchen Belleicious.

Deviled Strawberries

Yesterday, Leah and I went to Art Jam’N and painted our little hearts out while drinking wine and snacking on wonderful things. What kind of wonderful things? Well, Leah brought her delicious layered Mexican dip and I made deviled strawberries. Yup, you heard me!

I got very excited when planning what to bring because I don’t have reason to make appetizers often, and as a result my list of recipes I want to try in that category expands constantly. (I should have a appetizer only dinner.) So of course I knew I had to seize the moment and make what was at the top of my appetizer to-do list. I actually had three different versions of stuffed strawberries saved, but this one narrowly won the battle.

And for good reason. The sweetness of the strawberries paired well with the less sweet mascarpone filling, and the hints of cardamon and cinnamon won me over. Not to mention they are awfully pretty to look at. But I would much rather have them in my belly!

Wanna know what the runner’s up were? Goat cheese stuffed and cheesecake stuffed strawberries. Know you know how hard of a decision it was!


1 pound strawberries, rinsed and dried

1/2 cup mascarpone cheese

1/3 cup heavy whipping cream

1 Tbs sugar

1 vanilla bean, scraped

1/2 tsp cardamom

Cinnamon, for sprinkling


  1. Halve each strawberry through the stem-end, and use a melon baller or paring knife to scoop out part of the middle.
  2. In a medium bowl, beat the mascarpone, cream, sugar, vanilla, and cardamom until soft peaks form.  Using a piping bag fitted with corner snipped off (or a round tip), fill each strawberry with the cream.  Sprinkle lightly with cinnamon, and serve.

Source: Pink Parsley

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