Brie Cheese and Fig Salad

Brie Cheese and Fig Salad

How adorable is this mini brie cheese!? We both love all sorts of cheese, but brie is probably one that is always on our cheeseboard. We prefer to add a topping to it, as they can be slightly plain in taste. Brie cheese is so versatile and pairs really well with either sweet, salty or both additions. The sky is the limit when creating anything with this soft and creamy cheese.  

This salad takes minutes to prepare; it’s SO easy, delicious and with a beautiful presentation. Start by seasoning the arugula; in a bowl, whisk some good quality olive oil, champagne vinegar, salt and pepper. Toss the dressing with the arugula.

In a salad plate, layer some of the arugula on the bottom. Next, cut the mini brie cheese in the middle; we used Supreme Brie Bites, which you can easily find at your local grocery store. On the bottom half, spread a layer of your favorite fig jam and top it off with the other half. If desired, add a little more of the jam on top! Place the brie cheese on top of the arugula, add fresh cut figs, shaved almonds and top it all off with balsamic glaze.

Feel free to switch up some of the ingredients in this salad; instead of almonds, try pistachio or walnuts. Change the greens to suit your taste; mixed greens will go really well here. Omit the fresh figs if you don’t like it; it tastes so yummy without them too. 

It doesn’t get easier than that!! It’s a great appetizer idea for your next lunch or dinner party. Your guests will love this!!

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Taco Dinner Board

Taco Dinner Board

Tacos are always a good idea!! Don’t you think?

I have been loving serving our family dinners on a large serving board. Placing a food board in the center of the dinner table and letting everyone snack as they please is fun and reduces the number of serving dishes you have to clean. A few dinners I have served in a board are Pulled Pork Sandwich, Spring Rolls, Grilled chicken and cob salad, and of course… Tacos!

Tacos are not only easy to prepare, but it is also a crowd-pleaser. Most of the taco toppings (if not all) you can buy at grocery stores. But if you prefer preparing your own, it is even better, and there is really no secret.

I personally prefer preparing my pico de gallo, or also called “salsa fresca”. All you have to do is dice up tomatoes, onion, jalapeno and cilantro. Place them in a bowl and squeeze in the lime juice and add salt and pepper. Combine well all the ingredients and let them rest for at least 1 hour. You can even prepare one day in advance, and it will taste even better!

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As for the protein, I usually go more traditional with ground beef, chicken or carnitas.  But you can also add fish, shrimp, or just beans. I use the grocery store spice packets to season the beef, and then I throw it in a very hot skillet and let it cook until it is browned. I like it a bit saucier, so I add a tablespoon of beef stock.  That’s it!

Sometimes I add soft tortillas, and sometimes the hard shells. You can pick one or add both to your board. There is no right or wrong! Just make sure to add the tortillas and/or taco shells as the last item to the board. I keep them in the oven and bring them to the table when I am ready to serve.

I have listed below some of my favorite Taco Toppings:

–         Guacamole

–         Pico de Gallo or salsa

–         Lettuce

–         Grilled peppers

–         Black Beans

–         Cheese

–         Sour cream

–         Hot sauce

–         Jalapenos

–         Fresh cilantro

And follow these easy tips to create your board:

–         Choose a large food board.

–         In small bowls, add your favorite toppings: cheese, guacamole, black beans….

–         I like to serve hot items, like grilled peppers and tprotein in cast-iron dishes. They come from the stove directly to the board, and it will keep it warmer for a long time.

–         Add the tortillas and/or taco shells as the last item.

–         Add jalapeno and cilantro to finalize!

Once your board is assembled, you and your family are ready to dig in!

Pico de Gallo

Ingredients

  • 3 medium tomatoes (diced)
  • 1/2 medium onion (diced)
  • 1 jalapeno pepper seeded (diced)
  • 1/2 cup cilantro chopped
  • 1/2 lime (lime juice) 
  • Salt and Pepper

Instructions

  • In a medium bowl, combine the diced tomatoes, onion, jalapeno and the chopped cilantro.
    All the lime juice and season to taste. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1-hour.

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No Bake Tiramisu Trifle

No Bake Tiramisu Trifle

We love trifles, especially individuals ones.  They are so easy to make,  brighten up any dessert table and look so impressive. When I came across this recipe from ciaoflorentina.com, the picture looked so beautiful that I had to try it. It turned out to be SO delicious too! Barbara and I had to share this one since we love yummy recipes with a beautiful presentation. We call them winners! This no-bake tiramisu trifle is definitely one of them.

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Ingredients:

  • 6oz lady fingers
  • 1/2lb blueberries
  • 1lb blackberries
  • 1lb mascarpone cheese
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 5tbsp sugar
  • 3/4cup heavy cream
  • 4tbsp honey
  • 2 lemons
  • 2tsp vanilla extract
  • 2tbsp water
  • mint leaves to garnish

No Bake Tiramisu Trifle

Course Dessert
Author Florentina

Ingredients

  • 6 oz lady fingers
  • 1/2 lb blueberries
  • 1 lb blackberries
  • 1 lb mascarpone cheese
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 5 tbsp sugar
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 4 tbsp honey
  • 2 lemons juices
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp water
  • Mint to Garnish

Instructions

  • In a saucepan add the blackberries and blueberries together with the lemon juice, vanilla extract, honey and water. . Bring it to a simmer on low flame, cover with a lid and simmer together for a few minutes until the blueberries have popped. Allow to cool. Once cooled off strain the berry sauce separating the liquid from the solids.
  • Meanwhile using a mixer with the whisk attachment whip together the heavy cream with 1tbsp of the sugar. Transfer to the refrigerator and keep cold until ready to use.
  • In a different bowl cream together the egg yolks with 4tbsp of the sugar using the mixer with the whisk attachment. Start adding the mascarpone cheese a little bit at a time until incorporated.
  • Using a spatula add the chilled whipped cream to the bowl with the mascarpone and gently fold them together. Divide in two bowls.
  • Add the solid berries from the sauce to one of the bowls with the mascarpone and gently fold together. Set aside.
  • Dip the ladyfingers in the berry sauce and layer them in the bottom of the serving glasses or trifle dish. Add a layer of the berry mascarpone mixture followed by a layer of the plain mascarpone mixture. Repeat the layer until you run out of ingridients
  • Refrigerate for a couple of hours or until set.
  • Serve chilled garnished with some fresh blackberries, blueberries and fresh mint.

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Chocolate covered strawberries are extremely easy to make but are so elegant, beautiful, impressive looking and romantic. We love them! I mean, who doesn’t love them!? They are beautiful on their own, add elegance to a dessert table, or the final touch on top of a cake or cheesecake.

Ingredients

  • Strawberries
  • White, Dark or Semi-Sweet Chocolate Melting Wafers or Baking Chocolate Chips
  • Coconut Oil

The most important aspect of this treat is to select high-quality chocolate. Very important! We usually use Ghirardelli Melting Wafers or Ghirardelli Baking Chips, but any high chocolate works.

  • Wash and dry the strawberries. Make sure to dry them well; they must be completely dry. The water will prevent the chocolate from sticking to the strawberry. 
  • Line a sheet pan with parchment or waxed paper. 
  • Using a heatproof bowl, microwave the chocolate wafers and a little bit of the coconut oil, stirring every 15 seconds, until they are melted and smooth. Coconut oil is not essential, but it helps hardens the chocolate faster and makes it a little thicker. 
  • Holding the strawberry by the stem, dip it into the chocolate, turning it to coat. Lift and let excess chocolate fall off.  
  • Lay the strawberries on the parchment paper.
  • Wait 30 minutes for the chocolate to set, or place the strawberries into the refrigerator for 15 minutes to speed the process.
  • Enjoy them the same day, that’s when they are best. However, you can keep them in the refrigerator for 1 or 2 days.


Marbled Decoration

For a marbled effect, melt the dark and white chocolate as described above. Using a small spoon, drizzle some of the dark chocolate onto the white one. Do not stir! Dip the strawberries into the chocolate mixture, twist and turn when lifting up to create the marbled effect. Watch the video below for the full tutorial.

Cheese Fondue

Cheese Fondue

Is there anything better than staying home on a cold night enjoying cheese fondue and a glass of wine!? Sounds like heaven to us! So why not add one to your cheese platter!? We don’t know about you, but for us, we can’t get enough of cheese. 

Serving cheese fondue feels super special, like being in the Swiss Alps (lol), really simple to prepare and so cozy for a winter night. Although growing up in Brazil, we always enjoyed going to a fondue restaurant. I guess you can have it in any weather (lol)!!! 

There are many ways to make cheese fondue; however, use a Fondue mix for a quicker and easier way. Just make sure to make it on the stove and then transfer it to the fondue pot. Serve with crusty bread, crunch vegetables like broccoli or cauliflowers, fruits like apples and pears, cherry tomatoes and potatoes. Make sure you have enough skewers for everyone, the last thing you want is people sharing them.

Gingerbread Man Cake

Gingerbread Man Cake

It’s no secret that we love using shortcuts to create a fun and delicious recipe! A homemade cake is certainly healthier (if you can call a cake a healthy thing, lol!), but you don’t have to do everything from scratch when you are busy.

Just a few little tricks and you can create this delicious cake out of a box! It is safer to say two boxes, lol! One box of French vanilla cake mix and one box of gingerbread man cookies.

It’s so easy to make and definitely a must-try!!

Gingerbread Man Cake

Course Dessert

Ingredients

  • 1 box french vanilla cake mix
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 16 oz whipping cream
  • 1/2 can condensed milk
  • 1 box gingerbread man cookies about 8 cookies

Instructions

Cake

  • Mix the cake according to its baking instructions and add 1tsp of cinnamon and 1 tsp of ground ginger
  • Pour the batter evenly into two 6-inch cake pans
  • Bake according to its baking instructions

Chantilly Filling

  • Slowly beat the heavy whipping cream until it begins to thicken.
  • Add the condensed milk and 1 tsp of cinnamon and ½ tsp of ground ginger.
  • Continue to beat until the cream is very stiff and stands in firm peaks.

Assemble and decorate the cake

  • Use a large serrated knife to level the cakes
  • Place 1 cake layer on your cake stand, spread the Chantilly filling evenly on top.
  • Top with 2nd cake layer and spread the Chantilly filling evenly on top
  • Spread the Chantilly filling around the sides using an icing spatula, stick gingerbread man around the cake
  • Decorate the top with mini gingerbread man.

Elevate your Holidays with Mezzetta

Elevate your Holidays with Mezzetta

This Holiday Season, we are staying in and celebrating with our immediate family. This year it’s all about staying home, connecting with them, and trying new recipes. We will be cooking a lot!!! So, when Mezzetta sent us their castelvetrano and kalamata olives, their marinated artichoke hearts, and their sun- ripened dried tomatoes we wanted to create something yummy for our families to enjoy. After all, Mezzetta Makes it Betta!

This is a sponsored post by Mezzetta. All opinions are our own.

Olive Spread 

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Growing up, our dad always served olives, whether we had guests or not. He loves them so much; he could eat off a jar. Maybe that’s why we both love olives since we always had them in our pantry. They can strengthen the flavor of any dish but are also amazing on their own. Green or black, we love them all!  

 

Homemade Olive Spread is so delicious and comes together in minutes. We also love how versatile it is and how it adds a fantastic salty and savory flavor. You can serve it by itself, add to your charcuterie board, or on top of pizza, sandwich; so many possibilities!

As you probably already noticed, we are all about simple recipes that are full of amazing flavors! This recipe combines the buttery sweet flavor of Mezzetta’s castelvetrano olives with the rich and unique taste of Mezzetta’s kalamata ones. Mezzetta olives are so rich and delicious that it was not hard to create this appetizer that we can now rely on each time.

 This recipe has no secret! It is just a combination of high quality ingredients that will make this spread a success.

This recipe is loaded with Mezzetta Castelvetrano Olives, Mezzetta Kalamata Olives, Mezzetta Sun-Ripened Dried Tomatoes, olive oil, parsley, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper.

Place all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Since it’s a small amount, an olive spread can go a long way; we recommend using a small food processor or an immersion blender. Pulse a few times, but don’t overdo it; you want the olive pieces to be small but not pureed, a little chunky in texture. Serve with bread and crackers. 

Don’t be afraid to play with the ingredients; if you don’t like parsley, add your favorite herb. Or better than that, mix a few of your favorite ones. Also, you can try different varieties of Mezzetta olives; they have so many options that will please anyone. 

Orzo and Marinated Artichoke Heart Salad!

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Did you know that orzo is pasta!? It’s shaped like rice, but it’s actually pasta. This salad is such a hearty and filling one that you probably don’t need much else for dinner. 

When planning our holiday meal, we all tend to spend all the attention on the main dishes, the appetizers, and the desserts., and the side dishes tends to get overlooked. But with just a few steps, you can create an amazing salad that is as much as comfort food as the other traditional dishes. 

This hearty winter salad combines 6 ingredients that are profoundly delicious and comes together as a very festive side dish. We tossed the orzo with arugula to add lots of green, Mezzetta sun-ripened dried tomato for a sweet-tart flavor, pine nuts for a toasty crunch, parmesan cheese for a gritty texture, and finally, the artichoke on top. The Mezzetta marinated artichoke hearts add an essential briny flavor; it’s the perfect final touch. 

Start by preparing the orzo: boil water, add the orzo, and cook for about 7-9 minutes or until “al dente.” Be careful not to overcook it! Drain the orzo and gently run cold water over to cool off. We like to wait a few minutes for the orzo to dry a little and then add the other ingredients. Add the arugula, sundried tomatoes, pine nuts, shaved parmesan, and top it all off with Mezzetta Marinated Artichoke Hearts. 

For the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as needed. This salad also tastes great with only olive oil, salt, and pepper. It’s a great alternative for a simple and quick dressing. 

You can try different variations to this salad by switching the greens; spinach works well. You can swap the nuts; shaved almonds would work beautifully here. If parmesan cheese is not your favorite, try feta or your favorite kind of cheese. The sky is the limit; you can swap ingredients to the ones you like best. 

We hope you can enjoy these two recipes as much as we did! There is nothing better than cooking at home, staying in, and connecting with your family. Savor these moments! 

Olive Spread

Course Appetizer

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Place all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor
  • Pulse a few times, but don't overdo it; you want the olive pieces to be small but not pureed, a little chunky in texture
  • Serve with bread and crackers

Orzo and Marinated Artichoke Heart Salad!

Course Salad

Ingredients

Instructions

Orzo

  • In a large saucepan bring 5 quarts lighlty salted water to boiling
  • Add 1 lb dried orzo. Boil the orzo for 7-9 minutes or until "al dente". Stir occasionally to prevent it from sticking together
  • Drain orzo and gently run cold water over it. Set aside to cool to room temperature before adding the salad

Salad

  • In a large bowl combine Mezzetta sun-ripened dried tomatoes, pine nuts and shaved parmesan
  • Add the orzo, dressing and arugula
  • Top it off with Mezzetta Marinated Artichoke Hearts

Chocolate Raspberry Mousse Cake

Chocolate Raspberry Mousse Cake

With a chocolate cake base and creamy mousse topping, this make-ahead chocolate raspberry mousse cake is as easy as a pie and a great dessert for the Holiday season.
There is no secret! It is just a soft and moist chocolate cake, topped with a creamy chocolate mousse and covered with fresh raspberries! Does this sound amazing or what!?

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For this recipe, we used a boxed chocolate cake mix. It’s hard to beat the convenience of a box mix cake, and we are always looking for ways to simplify a recipe but keeping a delicious taste. The cake combined with the chocolate mousse will taste as you made it from scratch.

We made and baked the cake as directed on the box. You can bake it in a 9’ pan or in a 13 x ’9’ pan. The cake should not be too tall, aiming for a thin cake layer (about 2’ tall). We baked ours in a 9’ pan and ended up removing the top to make it thinner.

While the cake is baking, you can start preparing the chocolate mousse.  You will notice that this recipe calls for gelatin. The gelatin is a stabilizer and also helps maintain the light and airy texture in the mousse.

When adding the whipped cream, carefully fold into the chocolate and stop immediately when the chocolate mousse is incorporated.

It is also very important that the mousse has a firm consistency; otherwise, it will run all over the raspberries. We recommend chilling it in the fridge for at least 1 hour before adding it to the dessert.

When the chocolate cake is ready, and the mousse is firm, you can start assembling the dessert. Watch the video for the tutorial.

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Chocolate Raspberry mousse cake

Ingredients

  • 1 box Betty Crocker™ Super Moist™ devil's food cake mix cream (water, vegetable oil and eggs for the cake mix)
  • 7 oz semisweet chocolate chips
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 sachet unflavored gelatine (about 2 tsp)
  • cup whipped cream
  • Raspberries

Instructions

Cake Base

  • Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pans).
  • Make and bake cake as directed on box for 9-inch round cake pan or 13 inches x 9 inches cake pan. Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.
  • Place a round cookie cutter (or even use the same bowl you will serve) on your baked cake. Slowly apply straight downward pressure on the cutter until it has cut through the height of the cake.

Chocolate Mousse

  • Prepare the gelatin as directed on the box. Reserve.
  • In a pot over low heat, whisk together the milk, sugar, and gelatin until the gelatin melts. Do not boil at any time, or the gelatin will lose its properties. Remove from heat.
  • Melt the chocolate in the microwave, add the milk and gelatin mixture, and mix until well incorporated. Reserve and let the chocolate mixture cool a little bit.
  • With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whisk the heavy cream on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form.
  • Whisk ¼ of the whipped cream into the cooled chocolate. Then gently fold in the remaining whipped cream.
  • Put the chocolate mousse in the fridge for about 1 hour or in the freezer for 20 minutes.

Assembly

  • To facilitate assembly, place the mousse in a large pastry bag and make a medium cut.
  • Arrange the cake in the serving bowl and distribute the raspberries filling the entire base.
  • Cover the raspberries with the chocolate mousse.
  • Add raspberries on top of the mousse
  • Refrigerate the dessert for at least 4 hours before serving, but we recommend leaving it in the fridge overnight to ensure the perfect texture.

Blackberry and Vanilla Cake

Blackberry and Vanilla Cake

Sweet Summertime can become even sweeter with this Blackberry and Vanilla cake. These two flavors come together to create a showstopper dessert, that will have your guests reaching for seconds. It’s so easy to make and looks stunning. Definitely a must-try!!

Blackberry and Vanilla Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 box french vanilla cake mix
  • 700 ml heavy whipping cream
  • 1 can condensed milk
  • 3 cups blackberry
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 box ladyfingers

Instructions

Cake

  • Mix the cake according to its baking instructions 
  • Pour the batter evenly into two 6-inch cake pans
  • Bake according to its baking instructions

Chantilly Filling

  • Slowly beat the heavy whipping cream until it begins to thicken. 
  • Add the condensed milk and vanilla extract. 
  • Continue to beat until the cream is very stiff and stands in firm peaks. 

Assemble and decorate the cake

  • Use a large serrated knife to level the cakes
  • Place 1 cake layer on your cake stand, spread the Chantilly filling evenly on top, followed by a layer of blackberries
  • Top with 2nd cake layer and spread the Chantilly filling evenly on top
  • Spread the Chantilly filling around the sides using an icing spatula, stick the ladyfingers all around the cake
  • Decorate the top with blackberries and a few mint leaves

Lemon Mousse

Lemon Mousse

When life gives you lemons, make a lemon mousse!!

We pretty much love anything with lemons, they tastefully enhance the flavor of almost everything! This make-ahead lemon mouse is light, soft, and simple to make, truly the ideal summer dessert.  With only three ingredients, this sweet citrus flavor dessert will wow all of your guests.   And can we talk about the lemon bowls!? How adorable are they!?

Lemon Mousse

Course Dessert

Ingredients

  • 1 can condensed milk
  • 2.5 oz heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients until well combined
  • Refrigerate, covered, for an hour or until completely chilled and thickened. It tastes even better if refrigerated overnight (don't forget to cover the mouse)

Lemon Bowls

  • Cut off the top half of the lemon
  • Carefully hollow out each lemon with a spoon
  • Make a slight shallow cut on the bottom to make them sit straight
  • Carefully fill up each bowl with the lemon mousse
  • Garnish with lemon zest and mint leaves