Final Post

Hi all,

Just one last quick note to thank you so much for your support and wonderful feedback. I will no longer be updating here, but would like to direct you to the new fresh365, www.fresh365online.com. Much to my dismay, your current fresh365 feed will not update automatically.

So, please manually update your feed to

Or for individual content feeds:
http://www.fresh365online.com/recipes/rss.xml (or /atom.xml)
http://www.fresh365online.com/photography/rss.xml (or /atom.xml)
http://www.fresh365online.com/ask-e/rss.xml (or /atom.xml)

See you over at the NEW fresh365!


A New fresh365!

Please visit www.fresh365online.com for the ALL NEW fresh365. Happy 2010!


Warm Winter Wishes...

I am so looking forward to the coming holidays and 11 days of vacation beginning tomorrow. I haven’t taken such a large amount of time off, without traveling since winter break in college. I plan to visit with family and friends, catch up on some reading, and sleep! It won’t be all play and no work however, as I have a huge to-do list, with redesigning fresh365 at the top. We will see if snuggling in bed wins out and how much actually gets done. Either way, I am very excited about the coming year and can’t wait to share all my plans with you—whenever they arrive. I hope you have a happy and safe holiday. Much love!

A few note-worthy holiday recipes…
Pan-Roasted Cauliflower
Eggplant Roll-Ups
Exotic Mushroom Gravy
Fall Panzanella with Pomegranate Dressing
Leek & Cauliflower Risotto
Arugula-Chicory Salad with Grapefruit and Pine Nuts


Grandma's Gravy

Remember that time I told you the story about the silly little Irish girl who went to college and smothered her pasta in Prego? Well that same silly girl also thought gravy was what you put on a turkey at Thanksgiving (yes, she used to eat turkey—I told you she was silly). Turns out when you are Italian, gravy is way more than a condiment. It is a way of life. It runs through your veins, pores seeping with basil and garlic. It is stashed by the pound in your freezer, for impromptu family get-togethers, which most certainly call for trays of ravioli and red sauce. If you are not lucky enough to be born Italian, you will have to do the next best thing—marry the cutest Italian boy you can find. If you are lucky like me, you husband will have a sweet grandma who doesn’t know just how good her cooking is, but is always willing to share.

Part two of this story, goes something like this…About a month back, I made this gravy one Sunday afternoon. I didn’t look at the recipe card, as I knew it by heart—garlic, tomatoes, olive oil and basil. We enjoyed it that night and my husband proclaimed, “this might be better than grandma’s gravy”. Proud, that I could finally live up to the family name, I didn’t realize until later that I had left the can of water out of the original recipe. Now I am not saying one recipe is better than the other, I am much smarter than that, and wouldn’t want to lose my status as favorite daughter-in-law (yes, I am the only one). But I will say one thing—the Irish girl can whip up a mean batch of gravy.

Grandma’s Gravy
serves one big Italian family

3 T olive oil
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 28-oz cans Pastene Kitchen-Ready peeled tomatoes
1 can water (optional)
1 bunch basil, coarsely chopped
salt and pepper, to taste

In large sauce pan, heat olive oil over medium. Add garlic, and sauté 3-4 minutes, until garlic begins to brown. Add tomatoes, water (if using) and basil. Cover and simmer at least 2 hours. Season, to taste.


Parmesan & Cracked-Pepper Crackers

When the wonderful Vicki of Simply Hue asked me if I would like to share a few holiday recipes with her readers, I immediately thought of this brie recipe. It is a crowd-pleaser, and the idea of updating it for the season seemed like something everyone would enjoy (along with an excuse for me to eat brie for dinner). I made it for friends this past weekend along with my favorite roasted red pepper dip. Both are ridiculously simple, which is perfect when you have a room full of people you can’t wait to catch up with.

Of course I needed something to scoop up all this goodness with, and I have had these cracked pepper crackers in the back of my mind for some time now. I really enjoyed the bite of pepper, which paired wonderfully with the simple flavors of the roasted red pepper dip. Enjoy the Parmesan & Cracked-Pepper Crackers recipe below and visit Simply Hue for my Baked Holiday Brie, 3-Minute Roasted Red Pepper Dip and more holiday inspiration from Vicki.

Parmesan & Cracked-Pepper Crackers
makes 3 dozen crackers . adapted from various sources

1/2 c flour
1/4 c whole-wheat flour, plus more for dusting
1 1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese (about 6 oz)
4 T unsalted butter, softened (1/2 stick)
1/2 t salt, plus additional for garnish
1 1/2 t cracked black pepper, plus additional for garnish
1-2 T milk (or water)

Preheat oven to 350F. In a food processor, combine the flour, cheese, butter, salt and pepper. Pulse 4-5 times, until the mixture is crumbly. With the motor running, add 1 T milk. Continue adding milk, 1 t at a time, until the dough forms into a ball.

Place dough to a lightly floured surface, and roll into a 1/16”-thick rectangle. Cut into 1” squares and gently transfer to a baking sheet. Dough will puff up a bit when baked, so pierce each square 2-3 times with a fork, if desired. Sprinkle with additional salt and pepper, and transfer baking sheet to oven.

Bake 12-15 minutes, until the ends just begin to brown. Remove from oven, and allow to cool before serving. Store, sealed, in the fridge, for up to 3 days.


3-Onion Soup

You might think this soup is another feeble attempt for me to profess my love for the mandoline, and while I couldn't go through this post with out at least mentioning it, I swear I'll keep the mandoline-obsession-talk to a minimum. In reality, my love of onion soup runs deep, holding the torch as my favorite soup for 20+ years running.

These days, it is rarely enjoyed outside my home (as with most soups, which are usually not vegetarian-friendly). Which perhaps making it even more of a treat with each bowl. Hours after meal time, my tongue is still tingling with a bit of pain, from a taste or two I couldn't resist sneaking from the pot. But the punishment is so worth it.

3-Onion Soup
serves 4

4 medium onions, sliced thin
4 large shallots, sliced thin
3 T butter
1 T olive oil
1 c red wine
1 T sherry
1 T flour
4 c water (or vegetable broth)
1/2 t pepper
1-2 t salt
4 one-inch slices Ciabatta bread
1 oz Gruyere cheese, cut into thin slices
2 T chopped chives

In a large pan, heat butter and olive oil over low heat. Add onions and shallots and cook 45-50 minutes, stirring occasionally, until brown and caramelized. Pour in red wine and sherry, scraping brown pits off bottom of the pan. Whisk in flour, until smooth. Add water, pepper and salt, to taste (add less salt if using vegetable broth). Increase heat to medium-low and allow to simmer 10 minutes.

Arrange bread slices on a baking sheet. Top with Gruyere and broil, 2 minutes, until golden brown and toasted. Divide soup among four serving bowls. Top each with a slice of bread. Sprinkle with chives and serve immediately.


Pan-Roasted Cauliflower

December is one of my favorite times of the year. My birthday, a handful of friends birthdays, Christmas, vacation days, visiting with friends who are in town, snowboarding and a lot of shopping, will all be crammed into the next 3 weeks. Yes it is packed, and I feel a bit stressed, but instead of complaining about the jammed parking lots and inevitable snow, I have decided to take a different approach. I am smiling at the twinkling lights, cranking the holiday tunes, and planning gifts I know will bring smiles to my families faces. I am enjoying every minute.

And speaking of enjoyment, let’s talk cauliflower. Perhaps a few of you are thinking, ehh, cauliflower, but there is something special, magical even, that happens to this unassuming vegetable when it is roasted. Unlike most others, it holds its structure, while the edges brown into a magnificent color and caramelized flavor. It is barely breakfast right now, but I am day-dreaming about my lunch leftovers. I hope my excitement is contagious for cauliflower, and well, December. Because they both can be so wonderful—just give them a chance.

Pan-Roasted Cauliflower
serves 4 as a side dish

1/4 c pine nuts
1 large head cauliflower, cut into tiny florets
2 T olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 t ground mustard
1/2 t salt
pepper, to taste
2 T chopped chives

In a large sauté pan, add pine nuts over medium heat, and cook, stirring often, 5-7 minutes, until toasted. Transfer pine nuts to a serving bowl. Place pan back on heat and add cauliflower, olive oil, lemon juice, ground mustard and salt. Cook, 10-12 minutes, shaking or stirring every few minutes, until cauliflower is golden brown. Transfer cauliflower to the serving bowl with pine nuts. Season to taste with pepper, and top with chives.