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Cranberry-Walnut Chocolate Bark (GF)

Each year, before Valentine’s Day, I try my hand at making some sort of sweet treat. Last year, I made Chocolate Dipped Dried Apricots (which were fantastic!) and, this year, I decided to make this Cranberry-Walnut Bark.

All I have to say is…YUM!!!

I melted the dark chocolate (you can do this in a double boiler, but I use the microwave method described below), spread it onto a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil and pressed walnut halves and dried cranberries into the chocolate. After a few minutes in the fridge, I melted some white chocolate and drizzled it over top. A few minutes more in the fridge, cut with a sharp knife and…Voila!

The key with any of these confections is to purchase the best chocolate that you can find; I love the Ghirardelli brand and I just discovered a new favorite, these Hershey’s Special Dark Chips. And while I love the combination of walnuts and dried cranberries, any dried fruit and nuts may be used, so go with whatever you prefer.

It’s an elegant little treat that’s perfect for Valentine’s Day 🙂  You can stack the pieces in small boxes lined with red tissue paper or wrap in cellophane bags tied with a pretty ribbon. What could be sweeter?!

Happy Valentine’s Day to all!

Xo,

Karen

Cranberry-Walnut Chocolate Bark

The key with any of these chocolate confections is to purchase the best chocolate that you can find; I love the Ghirardelli brand. And while I love the combination of walnuts and dried cranberries, any dried fruit and nuts may be used, so go with whatever you prefer.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups dark chocolate chips for best results, use high quality chocolate
  • ¼ cup walnut halves
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • ½ cup white chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Place the dark chocolate chips in a medium (microwave safe) bowl and place in the microwave for 30 seconds. After 30 seconds is up, stir the chips and microwave for another 30 seconds. Continue until the chocolate chips are fully melted (be careful not to burn the chocolate).
  2. Spread the chocolate in a thin layer (about ⅛-¼ inch thick) on the aluminum foil. Press the walnut halves and the dried cranberries into the chocolate, then refrigerate for approximately 15 minutes.
  3. Remove the chocolate bark from the fridge. Place the white chocolate chips in a small (microwave safe) bowl and microwave in 30 second intervals, just as you did with the dark chocolate.
  4. When the white chocolate is fully melted, scrape it into a small ziploc bag. Snip a tiny bit off of the corner, so that the chocolate may be squeezed out of the bag in a thin stream.
  5. Drizzle the white chocolate over the dark chocolate bark. Place the bark back into the fridge for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the bark from the fridge and cut into 2 inch squares. Store the bark in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Recipe Notes

Serves 8-10.

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Recipe: Salmon and Caper Spread (GF)

While searching for an appetizer recipe to make for a recent family gathering, I came across one recipe after another for Salmon Spread (or Salmon Paté). That seemed like a great choice for this particular group, but the problem is that nearly every recipe out there contains an entire block of cream cheese and you know me – I usually prefer to keep it light and healthy. So I drew inspiration from some of the recipes out there and played ‘mad scientist’ in the kitchen until I came up with a version of it that I like.

This Salmon and Caper Spread has a bit of mayonnaise (I used avocado mayo, but any mayo you like will do) and the bright flavors of lemon, capers, scallion and dill. A quick ‘whiz’ in the blender and the whole thing came together in minutes!

I served it with water crackers, but it’s also delicious with raw veggies (which also makes it gluten free). It’s certainly, much lighter and more flavorful than the cream cheese versions.

I hope that you’ll keep this easy appetizer in mind for your next gathering. And please be sure to snap a photo and tag me on social media, using the hashtag #wellegance. I love to see your creations!

Buon Appetit!

Karen

Salmon and Caper Spread

This Salmon Spread has a bit of mayonnaise (I used avocado mayo, but any mayo you like will do) and the bright flavors of lemon, capers, scallion and dill. A quick ‘whiz’ in the blender and the whole thing came together in minutes!

Ingredients

  • 2 6 ounce cans of salmon (boneless)
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp. Lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ tsp. Onion powder
  • ¼ tsp. Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 scallion sliced
  • ¼ tsp. Ground black pepper
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 3 Tbsp. Capers drained
  • 2 Tbsp. Dill chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Place the first 9 ingredients into the blender jar and pulse until the mixture is well-combined. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and fold in half of the capers and half of the chopped dill. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
  2. Garnish with the remaining capers and chopped dill. Serve with little slices of pumpernickel bread, crackers and/or raw vegetables.

Recipe Notes

Serves 10-12.

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Recipe: Chicken Française

This chicken recipe is perfect for a Francophile like me (mostly because, in addition to being very French, it’s extremely quick and simple to make!). Most Chicken Française recipes call for a lot of butter, which makes the dish much richer. However, I prefer to use a tiny bit of butter along with some extra virgin olive oil, as it lightens it up considerably.

Lots of fresh lemon, lots of fresh parsley…all you need to round out the meal is some brown rice and a vegetable (steamed spinach, roasted broccoli and roasted asparagus work especially well with the lemony sauce). Trust me when I tell you that this a recipe you will reach for on busy weeknights but, also, when entertaining at home.

Buon Appetit!

Karen

Chicken Française

Most Chicken Francaise recipes call for a lot of butter, which makes the dish much richer. However, I prefer to use a tiny bit of butter along with some extra virgin olive oil, as it lightens it up considerably. Lots of fresh lemon, lots of fresh parsley...all you need to round out the meal is some brown rice and a vegetable (steamed spinach, roasted broccoli and roasted asparagus work especially well with the lemony sauce).

Ingredients

  • 1 egg beaten
  • ½ lemon juiced
  • 1 cup all purpose flour gluten free flour may be substituted to make the recipe GF
  • ¼ tsp. Garlic powder
  • 1 pinch paprika
  • 6 boneless and skinless chicken cutlets pounded thin, if they’re not already cut thin
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 additional lemon juiced
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh parsley chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. In a shallow bowl/dish, mix together the egg and the juice of ½ lemon. In another shallow bowl/dish, combine the flour, garlic powder and paprika. Dip each chicken cutlet into the egg mixture, then the flour mixture.
  2. Heat butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken cutlets and cook until golden brown on each side.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the broth and the juice of 1 lemon. Pour this mixture over the chicken cutlets in the skillet. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for approximately 8 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Add the chopped parsley and salt/pepper, to taste.

Recipe Notes

Serves 6.

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Recipe: Mesclun Salad with Pear and Gorgonzola (GF)

This salad has become my new “go-to.” I served it at Thanksgiving dinner and it was such a hit that I ended up bringing it to Christmas dinner, as well. And I’ve made it twice since then. Yup, when something works, I stick with it!

The tender leaves of the mesclun are the perfect base for slivers of Bosc pear, sweet onion, Gorgonzola cheese and crunchy pecans. It’s all dressed in a basic balsamic vinaigrette – super easy to put together and a very elegant start to almost any meal.

I prefer Gorgonzola to Bleu cheese because Gorgonzola is a bit less pungent, but you can certainly substitute Bleu, if you’d like. Same for the pear – I like Bosc, but any other variety may be used. It’s the combination of the pear’s sweetness and the sharpness of the cheese that’s just fantastic! And it looks so pretty on the plate that it’s a great one to keep in mind when you’re entertaining. Below is the recipe.

Buon Appetit!

Karen

Mesclun Salad with Pear and Gorgonzola Cheese

The tender leaves of the mesclun are the perfect base for slivers of Bosc pear, sweet onion, Gorgonzola cheese and crunchy pecans. It’s all dressed in a basic balsamic vinaigrette - super easy to put together and a very elegant start to almost any meal.

Ingredients

  • 1 5 ounce box of mesclun lettuce
  • 1 ripe Bosc pear sliced
  • ½ sweet onion thinly sliced
  • ½ cup Gorgonzola cheese crumbled
  • 1 cup pecan halves
  • cup balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. In a large salad bowl, place the first five ingredients and toss to combine and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Stir well and add desired amount of salt and pepper.
  3. Pour dressing over the salad and give it another toss. Serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

Serves 8-10.

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Recipe: Winter Root Vegetable Soup

At about this time last year, I was interviewed for an article in Newsday, one of the Long Island newspapers. The newspaper has a regular column called, “Who’s Cooking?” And this column features a local person who enjoys cooking and shares one of his/her favorite recipes.

It was a fun experience and during the interview, I discussed (among other things) my passion for food/cooking, my creation of the Wellegance blog and tips for success in the kitchen. Note: I would provide a link to this article, except that you can’t access it without a subscription to Newsday’s online service 🙁

I shared this recipe for Winter Root Vegetable Soup, which is a seasonal favorite of mine. This soup combines hearty root veggies like carrots, parsnips, potatoes and leeks with fresh dill, lemon, ginger and turmeric. It packs a real flavor punch and is loaded with antioxidants and other anti-inflammatories. It’s also fantastic when someone is fighting a winter bug, or just wants to warm up on a cold day.

Comfort food…Health food…Soul food…

Buon Appetit,

Karen

Winter Root Vegetable Soup

This soup combines hearty root veggies like carrots, parsnips, potatoes and leeks with fresh dill, lemon, ginger and turmeric. It packs a real flavor punch and is loaded with antioxidants and other anti-inflammatories. It’s also fantastic when someone is fighting a winter bug, or just wants to warm up on a cold day.
Servings 8

Ingredients

  • 3 large carrots peeled and sliced
  • 2 stalks of celery sliced
  • 2 parsnips peeled and sliced
  • 1 large potato peeled and chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves peeled and chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. Turmeric
  • 6 cups water
  • Slice of fresh ginger approx. ¼ inch thick, peeled and chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. Fresh dill chopped (plus more for garnish, if desired)
  • Juice from ½ lemon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Fresh ground pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Place the leeks, carrots, celery, parsnips, potato, garlic and olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add the turmeric, then cover the port and “sweat” the vegetables over low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add the water and ginger to the pot. Turn the heat to medium high and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the veggies can be easily pierced with a knife. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly (approximately 5 minutes).
  3. Stir in the fresh dill. Purée the soup in batches, using a blender, food processor. Stir in the lemon juice, salt and pepper, to taste.
  4. Ladle isn't bowls and garnish with a lemon slice or a sprig of fresh dill. Serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

Makes 8 servings.

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Recipe: Swiss Chard and Mushroom Frittata

Ok, let me begin by saying that my daughter had NEVER agreed to eat Swiss chard OR mushrooms until she had this frittata. I made it for myself a few weekends ago (I had it along with a big salad for lunch) and it smelled so good that my daughter asked to try it (I, of course, concealed my excitement over the fact that she wanted to eat something loaded with veggies!). She loved it, as I did, and the two of us ended up having a big slice of it for lunch that day and another for breakfast the next morning.

Something about a frittata feels special…a big step up from an omelet. And this one is full of flavor – sautéed onions, green chard and mushrooms folded into eggs, seasoned with pepper and Parmesan cheese and beaten until they’re super fluffy. The frittata is partially cooked on the stovetop until it begins to form a crust on the edges, then the entire pan is put into a hot oven, where it finishes cooking and puffs up into a little pillow of veggie goodness!

During a time of year when food tends to be rich and heavy, this is a light breakfast that’s full of protein, fiber and nutrients. Add a bowl of soup or a salad and it’s a warm, satisfying lunch. Healthy comfort food, for sure!

Buon Appetit,

Karen

Swiss Chard and Mushroom Frittata

This frittata is full of flavor - sautéed onions, green chard and mushrooms folded into eggs, seasoned with pepper and Parmesan cheese and beaten until they’re super fluffy. The frittata is partially cooked on the stovetop until it begins to form a crust on the edges, then the entire pan is put into a hot oven, where it finishes cooking and puffs up into a little pillow of veggie goodness!

Ingredients

  • 4 Tbsp. Extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ medium onion sliced
  • 1 cup button mushrooms sliced
  • 3-4 large leaves of Swiss chard
  • 5 large eggs
  • ½ tsp. Salt
  • ½ tsp. Ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4-5 leaves of fresh basil sliced into ribbons

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Remove the leaves of the Swiss chard from the stems and chop the leaves. Set aside.
  3. In an ovenproof, nonstick skillet, heat 2 Tbsp. Of the oil over medium-high heat, until shimmering. Add the onions and cook until translucent (approximately 2-3 minutes). Add the mushrooms and cook until they turn a light golden brown (approximately 4-5 minutes). Add the Swiss chard, salt and pepper and continue to cook for another minute, until the leaves are wilted. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and set aside. Wipe the skillet clean and set it aside.
  4. Beat the eggs and 2 Tbsp. Of the Parmesan cheese until well combined.
  5. Heat the remaining 2 Tbsp. Of olive oil in the skillet over medium-high heat. Pour the egg mixture into the skillet and allow it to set until a light crust begins to format the edges. Add the vegetable mixture on top. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese and place into the oven.
  6. Bake for approximately 5 minutes or until the frittata puffs up a bit and turns a light golden brown on top.

Recipe Notes

Top with ribbons of fresh basil and additional Parmesan cheese, if desired. Slice into quarters. Serves 4

DID YOU GET YOUR GIFT YET ?  CLICK HERE to Grab your (FREE) guide –

Wellegant™ Mind, Body, Life: Nourish Your Body and Feed Your Soul

It contains my best healthy living tips, recipes and other resources to help you live your most Wellegant life. Enjoy!

 


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2017 Roundup: Top 5 Recipe Posts

As I’ve cooked (and blogged) my way through 2017, here are the Top 5 Recipe Posts (based on readers’ feedback). If you haven’t tried them already, I hope you’ll whip them up in 2018!

Buon Appetit!

Karen

Top 5 Recipe Posts of 2017 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DID YOU GET YOUR GIFT YET ?  CLICK HERE to Grab your (FREE) guide –

Wellegant™ Mind, Body, Life: Nourish Your Body and Feed Your Soul

It contains my best healthy living tips, recipes and other resources to help you live your most Wellegant life. Enjoy!

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