Goat Cheese and Zucchini Tart

Autumn is my favorite season. I can’t wait for the leaves to fall and turn crisp, for everything in Trader Joe’s to be pumpkin flavored, and for it to be acceptable to make heartier, more buttery food. But, before I can dive into autumn, I must part ways with summer. Summer, though not my favorite season food-wise (or weather-wise if I’m being honest), is overflowing with fresh produce. If you live somewhere like California where there isn’t much of a season change, you maintain most of your produce quality year-round. But here in New York, there’s a relatively large disparity between what’s seasonal in the summer and autumn months. So, until Labor Day, I will be making recipes highlighting seasonal summer foods, as a sort of going away party for the season.

As a food blogger I really enjoy looking at other people’s food blogs and Instagrams to see what recipes they’re trying, and often, creating. A few months ago, I came across a food blogger (hautesucreblog.wordpress.com) whose food I’ve been itching to try. After a minute on her site, I found the perfect recipe for my going-out-of-season theme: a zucchini tart. Below is the original recipe, which actually uses feta instead of goat cheese.

Original Recipe: http://hautesucreblog.wordpress.com/2014/07/24/summer-zucchini-tart/

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INGREDIENTS:

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed

1 large, or 1 1/2 medium zucchini, sliced very thinly using a mandolin (don’t try this with a knife!)

6 oz. crumbled goat cheese

Olive oil, for drizzling

Salt

Pepper

Herbs de Provence (I used Sunny Paris Seasoning from Penzy’s)

3 sprigs rosemary

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Unfold the puff pastry on the baking sheet. Top with some goat cheese and a little bit of olive oil. Put a layer of zucchini on top, leaving a border of the pastry untouched as the crust. Hit with some salt, pepper, and herbs de provence, then repeat steps.

Lay rosemary sprigs across the top. Bake for 25 minutes or until pastry is puffy and golden brown.

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Enjoy!

Leslie

Simply Delicious Crostini

Sometimes I find myself surrounded by remnants of meals past; some mozzarella and basil from that lasagne I made, some tomatoes from that sauce I cooked, some bread from me eating that loaf of bread… you get the picture. I hate throwing out food since it’s wasteful and not cost effective, but it can be hard to concoct a meal out of leftovers. How are you supposed to find a recipe that uses everything you have laying around your kitchen? Often, you can’t, but if you only have to run out and  buy one new thing in order to make a recipe that involves most of your leftovers, why not?

I came up with this crostini recipe when I saw that an old loaf of Italian bread was about to be thrown out. I looked around and saw that we had some tomatoes, which we normally keep in the house to put in salads, and some basil leaves from our basil plant out back. I had never made crostinis before, but one of my classmates had made them recently, so I had a rough idea of what making them entailed. Luckily, I discovered that cooking crostinis is very simple. As long as you don’t burn the bread (which I’m sure you won’t), there’s not much that can go wrong. Since this recipe was intended as a way to use leftovers, I left the ingredient amounts loose so that you can adjust it to fit your pantry.

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INGREDIENTS:

 One loaf of few-day-old Italian bread

Olive oil

Kalamata olives

A couple of small-medium sized tomatoes (not cherry tomatoes)

Mozzarella cheese (fresh is always preferable, but feel free to use prepackaged like I did here)

Feta cheese

3-4 torn basil leaves

Garlic salt (if you don’t have garlic salt, you can use a pinch of garlic powder and coarse salt)

Pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Slice bread into 1/4 inch slices. Brush both sides of each slice with olive oil so that the middle appears yellow and slightly moist- no need to drench them! Sprinkle each side with garlic salt and pepper.

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Lay the crostini on a baking sheet (or two, depending on how many you’re making). Put crostini in the oven for about 15 minutes, or until they no longer appear moist and the crust is a deeper brown than when you put them in. Let cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet(s).

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Chop the kalamata olives and mix with feta cheese. Take half of the bread off of the baking sheet(s) and top with kalamata-feta mixture. Set aside.

Cut tomatoes so that each piece is no larger than the size of a nickel. Do the same with the mozzarella. There should be about the same amount of mozzarella and tomatoes. Tear the basil leaves and mix with the tomato-mozzarella mixture. Put on top of the remaining crostini.

Combine both types of crostini on a serving plate, and sprinkle with a few pinches of pepper.

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Enjoy!

Leslie

Cappuccino Confetti Cupcakes

I met one of my best friends when I randomly moved into her apartment two years ago. Her birthday was only a few weeks after I had moved in, and I had no idea what to get her as a gift since I hardly knew her.  I felt that it would be awkward to spend a lot of money on the gift (again, we had just met). Then it hit me: when in doubt, bake. Baking allows you to show how much you care by putting a lot of time, rather than money, into a present. I made her these cappuccino cupcakes, which went over VERY well; like I said she’s now one of my best friends.

The recipe for the frosting comes from The Sweet Little Book of Cupcakes, which is written by the good people of Sweet Cupcakes in Boston, and is my go-to when I need a one of a kind frosting flavor. I chose to use a chocolate box mix for the cake part; the cake recipes in this book, though flavorful and unique, are a lot denser than I like my cupcakes to be. I prefer a lighter, airier, texture.

Buy The Sweet Little Book of Cupcakes here: http://www.amazon.com/Sweet-Little-Book-Cupcakes/dp/1441303510/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1406994862&sr=1-1&keywords=sweet+little+book+of+cupcakes

INGREDIENTS:

One box chocolate cake mix

1 cup, plus 2 tbsp room temperature cream cheese (I suggest taking it out of the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before you start working)

6 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature (ditto)

4 cups confectioners sugar

2 1/4 tsp cinnamon

2 1/4 tsp vanilla extract

2 1/4 tsp coffee extract

Round rainbow sprinkles

*Please note that this frosting recipe makes more than enough frosting for 24 cupcakes when frosted generously.

DIRECTIONS:

Prepare the box cake using the provided cupcake instructions.

Beat the cream cheese and butter until creamy. If you are using an electric mixer, use it on medium speed.

In another bowl, sift the confectioners sugar and cinnamon together.

Add the confections sugar and cinnamon mixture into the cream cheese mixture one cup at a time while beating on low speed.

Add the vanilla and coffee extracts.

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Keep the mixer on low speed for a few minutes, then switch it to medium speed until the frosting reaches its desired consistency. If you are mixing by hand, as I did, simply alter the speed at which you’re mixing.

Insert frosting into a piping bag, and pipe onto cooled cupcakes one at a time. Sprinkle round rainbow sprinkles on top. Be wary of putting on too many sprinkles, as this type is crunchy.

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Enjoy!

Leslie