p to the seventh panini

The school year has finally come to a close, and I’ve accumulated a lot on the way.

Confession: I lug around a lot.  You can tell by the weight of my backpack as I struggle up the metro escalator (I believe that life’s to short to stand on an escalator).

So I like to hang onto things, and it comes in handy sometimes.   My friends put up with my embarrassingly large bag so they can take advantage of my phone charger.  I’m kind of like Mary Poppins when she pulled a lamp post out of her enormous diaper bag. 

Oh so you need a pencil for your test? I have a pencil case full of mechanical pencils (one of which works).
Just opened your yogurt and need a spoon? I have a set of clean silverware in the front pocket.
Getting a pedicure during your free period? Don’t fear, I have extra flip flops.
Forgot you have to wear shorts in PE today?  I have a razor and travel soap.
That boy from 7th period texted you and batteries at 2%?  I have three iPhone chargers.  Worship me.
See? All my mismatched items come together harmoniously into one, supercharged survival kit.

… kind of like this sandwich (that was not the smoothest transition, but bear with me).  This sandwich has a crazy hodgepodge of things: sweet pears, seedy raspberry jam, an assortment of cheeses, seedy bread, and bacon… lots of bacon.  However, it all comes together harmoniously into one, supercharged sandwich.  It also has an awesomely nerdy name: P to the 7th Panini, because I was procrastinating from my math homework when I invented it.

Pears, prosciutto, preserves, Parmesan, provolone, poppyseed bread, and a panini press.
7 words that all start with P.  Mash-bang them together and you have this beauty of a sandwich. I’m a genius, what can I say. 


With love, 
Erica



Ingredients

  • 4 slices poppyseed bread 
  • 4 tablespoons raspberry preserves
  • 2 thinly sliced red pears
  • 6 strips cooked bacon (or other salty meat like speck, prosciutto or even ham)
  • White cheddar
  • Provolone
  • Parmesan
  • 1-2 tablespoons butter
  1. Preheat griddle or panini press to medium-high heat.
  2. Assemble 2 sandwiches in this order: bread, 1½ tbs. preserves, pear, 4 slices bacon, 2 slices cheese, bread.
  3. Spread butter on top and bottom of sandwich, sprinkle with Parmesan, and grill for 4-8 minutes, or until cheese is melted and top is golden brown.
Note:
My slices of bacon were pretty small and thin,
which is why I used 4 on each sandwich (gulp). I think 2 regular slices
per sandwich would be plenty. 

 
© Cannella Vita. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission/linking back to Cannella Vita. If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.

the perfect lunch (lox and rye and brussel sprouts!)

The perfect lunch is different for everyone.  Some may fall head over heels for a big, juicy cheeseburger and fries.  Others might go crazy for a kale and quinoa salad.

look at those grill marks!!!

For me, the perfect lunch is dark, crusty bread, thinly sliced lox, a big smear of cream cheese, and a few leaves of spinach for color.  I (generously) butter the bread and it gets all crispy and succulent in the panini press.   Heaven.

On the side, I love to have some veggies.  But not just any old veggies — my famous candied Brussels sprouts.  Some of my friends who normally would never touch a vegetable with a hundred yard stick fell head over heels for these Brussels sprouts.  It’s true, and mildly creepy — almost like those Hidden Valley Ranch commercials where the kids choose cauliflower over popcorn.  These sprouts are mind-bogglingly addictive, in a totally good-for-you way. 

What’s your idea of the perfect lunch?
With love,
Erica

Erica’s Famous Candied Brussels Sprouts

Ingredients
2 cups Brussels sprouts
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1/4 cup dried cranberries
salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Add Brussels sprouts.  Sprinkle with brown sugar.  Cook until outsides are lightly brown and caramelized (3-5 minutes). Add cranberries and salt and pepper to taste.

© Cannella Vita. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission/linking back to Cannella Vita. If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.

instarecipe: quinoa fried rice

I have a confession.
Sometimes, I throw together amazing recipes… and I gobble them up before I can grab my big old DSLR.  I’m sorry, I can’t help it.  When I go back and try to recreate them for you all, I can’t remember what I did, and I end up not sharing my new culinary discovery. 🙁
Those of you who follow me on Instagram know that I am Instagramming 24/7 — updating you all on  my socks, my dog, and my new nail color.  From now on, I’m also going to Instagram my spontaneous culinary creations so that I can share them with you all before I forget.
Lets start with lunch.
We just got back from vacation a few days ago, and the kitchen is still quite sparse.  We had egg whites, quinoa, and a bunch of frozen veggies.
Fried rice brings back elementary school memories for me. My mom would make it for me at least twice a week with salami and egg.  That flavor combination will always have a special place in my heart.
Today, I made a healthier and more grown-up version of this childhood favorite of mine.  I replaced the white rice with quinoa and replaced the salami and egg with vegetarian sausage patties, egg whites, and a ton of green veggies.
This lunch packs a ton of protein from the quinoa, egg, sausage and edamame, and a ton of vitamins from all of those green veggies — so it’ll keep you feeling strong all afternoon!
With love,
Erica

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup quinoa (dry)
  • 1/2 +1/8 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup shelled edamame (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/2 cup sliced baby carrots
  • 2 frozen sausage patties (I used Morningstar farms)
  • 1 cup frozen spinach
  • 1 cup frozen broccoli
  • 1/2 cup egg whites
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon curry powder

Add the quinoa and water to a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and cover.  Cook for 12 minutes, and let stand for 5 minutes.

In the meantime, put the sesame oil into a large frying pan and cook the egg whites.  Once set, add the saugsage patties and all of the frozen vegetables.  Cook until everything is defrosted.  Add the cooked quinoa and stir. Season with the soy sauce, ginger, garlic powder, and curry.  Cook on medium-high heat for 5-10 more minutes.  Enjoy!

tomato soup

My dad said that he could have soup and a toasty sandwich every day, and never get tired of it.

This soup is traditional, mellow, and has a lovely tomato flavor.  It conjures up peaceful, childhood memories — without coming from a red and white can.

As the days get cooler, and the air gets nippy, I start to think about comfort food.  Mac and cheese, lasagna, and warm biscuits come to mind.  Unfortunately, most of these dishes contain dairy, and my mom has sensitivity to dairy products. Luckily, this tomato soup is dairy free.  It’s nice, thick and creamy… but contains no heavy cream!  How do I achieve such a rich texture without dairy? Ritz crackers.  My dad always crumbles Ritz crackers onto his tomato soup, why not put them in the soup? When crumbled into the broth they act as a delicious, buttery thickening agent.

This soup is extremely easy to make, and uses all fresh, wholesome ingredients.  One of the things that makes this recipe unique is that it 100% fresh, roasted tomatoes.  Nothing comes from a can, bag, or freezer — resulting in an extremely rich, tomato flavor.

Whip up a pot of this steamy soup and cuddle up for some good, wholesome comfort.

With love,
Erica

Ingredients:
2 pounds fresh tomatoes (use small tomatoes, like plum or cherry)
4 garlic cloves (skin on)
4 small Vidalia onions, cut in half (or 2 regular onions)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons dried basil
2-4 cups water (depending on how thin/thick you like your soup)
1/2 cup crushed Ritz crackers
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Slice the tomatoes in halves and place them on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil.

Place the garlic cloves and onion halves on a separate baking sheet and
drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Place both baking sheets in the oven and roast the vegetables until soft, about 20 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let cool.

Peel the skin off the garlic cloves and place with the rest of the
vegetables, in a food processor. Add about 2 cups of water and puree
until smooth. Add more water to reach your preferred consistency. Add to a large pot on the stove top and add Ritz crackers.  Simmer for 20 minutes. Adjust
the seasoning with salt and pepper if desired.

Adapted from Cup of Jo

lemon chicken quinoa salad

 We don’t have a cafeteria at my school, but we are allowed to go out into the town for lunch to Chipotle, McDonalds, Papa Johns, Panera (a personal favorite!), and other fast-food places. However, going out to lunch can get quite expensive. That’s why I usually bring my lunch to school.

Bringing my lunch doesn’t have to be soggy, cold, or depressing.  If I say so myself, this salad is quite the opposite. It’s full of fresh herbs and veggies. The quinoa gives it a nice texture and adds a lot of protein to keep me going throughout the day. The lemon dressing and tangy feta cheese make it simply perfect.  I’d take this over an $8 Panera panini anyday!

Do you bring your lunch?
With love,
Erica

Note: this recipe makes a lot, so I like to keep it in the fridge and scoop it out throughout the week.

 
Quinoa Salad with Grilled Lemon Chicken



10 chicken tenders


1/4 cup olive oil


1 lemon, zested and juiced


6 cloves garlic, minced


1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper


1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt






For the salad:


2 cups quinoa


2 large red bell peppers, diced


5 Persian cucumbers, diced


1 small red onion, diced


1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved


1 cup golden raisins, rehydrated in warm water


1 cup  feta cheese, crumbled


1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped






For the dressing:




1/3 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. crushed dried mint
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. seasoned salt


To
make the dressing, whisk together everything in a small bowl to blend
and set aside in the refrigerator until needed. 
 
For the chicken, add the
olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, salt and pepper into a
large bowl. Mix together and add the chicken. Stir well to coat, then
cover the bowl in plastic wrap. Allow the chicken to marinate for at
least 2 hours and up to overnight.
 
I like to cook my chicken in the panini maker, but any grill will do. It takes about 5 minutes in the panini maker. 

Cook the quinoa as directed on the box, and allow to cool.

In
a large mixing bowl, combine the quinoa,  all of the vegetables
and drained, re-hydrated raisins. Mix to combine. If not serving
immediately at this point, you can refrigerate this mixture until ready
to eat, it usually keeps in my refrigerator for up to a week. When ready
to serve, toss in the feta cheese and enough dressing to lightly coat.
Eat cold or at room temperature and serve with the warm chicken.

Adapted from Un-Deux Senses


avocado salmon toast

Sometimes, the best lunches are the simple ones that happen on a slice of bread. Today, I am going to share a recipe that’s less of a recipe and more of a guide to one of my favorite lunches.  This is a summery take on one of my all time breakfast favorites: lox and cream cheese on a bagel. The avocado melts into the toast like some sort of magical green butter. Top that off with some thin, salty slices of lox and some briny capers, and you have one of the simplest delicacies of life.

With love,
Erica

Ingredients 

  • slices of your favorite bread
  • avocado
  • lox
  • capers
  • freshly ground pepper
  • mixed greens
  • olive oil

Toast your favorite bread until nice and warm. Spread the avocado (I usually do about 1/4 avocado per person) onto the bread. Top with thin slices of lox. Sprinkle with capers and freshly ground pepper. Toss greens and about a tablespoon of olive oil and serve on the side.