Grilled Mozzarella with roasted garlic, tomatoes and basil

I’d love to say I came up with his all on my own, but I didn’t. I’m simply trying to recreate an appetizer I used to eat at a restaurant called Tramonti in Delray Beach, FL. My friend Elisa and I went there every week and though our main dishes changed ,two things remained constant; Grilled Mozz and Ruffino Reserva Ducale Ora. (Oh and the fun we would have, nothing beat those dinners) I miss her and those dinners.  Just thinking about it makes me want to go visit FL. I loved Tramonti. I STILL love Tramonti.

The Finished Product

So this is my attempt to recreate my favorite app of all time. Well favorite other than the Chicken Satay at Terrapin. Because anyone that knows me knows, Terrapin holds a special place in my heart, and always will.

Tomatoes seasoned, pre balsamicMushrooms Cooking

Here you have one of the simplest and most delicious dishes EVER! I’ve changed it up a bit. Originally they used shiitake mushrooms, but I usually use baby bella mushrooms, also I added tomatoes to it, because they really enhance the dish. It is an appetizer but with the mushrooms and tomatoes it is filling could easily be made larger to serve as a superb vegetarian entrée.

Mozzarella ready or the plate!

Grilled Mozzarella (For one serving)

  • Fresh mozzarella cheese
  • A bunch of fresh basil
  • Roasted garlic, an entire bulb, see here for roasting directions
  • Mushrooms, whichever kind you prefer, I use about 1/2C per serving
  • Olive Oil (I like to use the oil from the roasted garlic)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Tomato, one is enough for 4 servings depending on how much you like tomatoes
  • Balsamic vinegar

Directions:

  • Slice the Mozzarella about 1″ thick and set aside
  • Clean and slice mushrooms, about 1/4″ thick slices
  • Pluck basil, about 6 large leaves or 12 small leaves, just slice or tear them and divide into two piles.
  • Heat a small saute pan on medium
  • Add about a tablespoon of olive oil and toss in about 1/2C of sliced mushrooms, season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes, then add in a few (4 or so)  cloves of the roasted garlic, allow to continue cooking uncovered
  • Heat an additional small non stick skillet on medium heat
  • Cut the tomato into bite sized pieces and season with a little salt and pepper (I also add balsamic vinegar)
  • Toss half the basil in with the mushrooms and continue to cook for another 5 minutes or so, if you aren’t sure how done the mushrooms are just try one  🙂 When they are done turn the heat off, cover and set aside
  • Once the additional skillet is heated place the 1″ thick piece of mozzarella in it, it will sizzle
  • Cover, reduce heat to low and allow to cook
  • After about 5 minutes check the bottom using a spatula, it should be golden in color, and the top should be creamy and starting to melt
  • Flip the cheese, and still on low allow to cook for another 3 minutes or so. Use your finger to check for doneness. The cheese will feel “squishy” when done. You don’t need to brown this side, and you do not want it to cook so much it hardens, the goal is just to soften the remaining cheese
  • Transfer to a plate, top with the mushroom mixture and tomatoes, drizzle some balsamic on the plate,  sprinkle the remaining basil and va bene!

    Delicious!

I hope you enjoy this simple and delicious dish as much as I do. And when you do try it, I would love to hear what you think of it 🙂

Quick and Easy DIY Christmas Gifts

Christmas is coming….it’s actually practically here already. Scary right? Have you finished your holiday preparations? I know I haven’t :-0 !  In thinking about what to get people, I always have that age old internal debate; “to make or to buy.” It is a tough one, I most definitely prefer to make Christmas gifts, or if I do purchase, get one that is custom made. I once gave someone a custom flask with their favorite picture “glazed” onto it. It is by far, even still to this day, the single best gift I ever came up with. Bloody fantastic if I say so myself. 😉

So this morning we were chatting on the Green Skies and Sugar Trips facebook page about what people were making or wanting to make and the question came up “what  things that can be made before Christmas, and would be quick and easy but still a great gift?” So with that in mind I set out tonight to find the best of the spectacular DIY gift ideas available on the internet. And here is what I came up with. But please, feel free to add more, I would love to hear your ideas!  *** All photos below are not mine and have been taken directly from the websites I found the recipes/ideas on;  clicking on them will take you directly to the link for that item.

Sugar and Spice Candied Nuts, From “Smitten Kitchen” (A delicious and healthy gift idea)

Sugar and Spice Candied Nuts, Photo by Smitten Kitchen

This is a GREAT idea!!! You could easily make the nuts in a HUGE batch, and then package them in mason jars, or if you want to do smaller portions, those great little candy containers you can find at Michaels Craft Stores.  Then label using a blank label  and a festive sharpie or print out labels on your home computer for an even more “Martha” look. (We ALL love the Martha look)

Chocolate Mint Scrub, From Healthy Green Kitchen

Chocolate Mint Scrub, Photo by Healthy Green Kitchen

Winnie is the magic behind Healthy Green Kitchen. She is a dear friend and a wonderful woman. A really lovely and kind soul; as well as an all around just awesome person. A great sense of humor but also quiet and reflective. She (like Barb I mention below) inspires me. Winnie Rocks! 🙂  Now bak to the scrub. Let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a sugar scrub? The way they leave our skin feeling smooth and soft, and like we ACTUALLY spent some time on ourselves for once…. Oh wait, these are gift ideas for others…. No really, this is a great gift idea for your girlfriends, sisters, mother, any female (or a male in touch with his feminine side) who needs a little TLC. Or make it and keep some for yourself. 😉 

Cranberry Vodka, From The Food Channel

 

It really doesn’t get much easier or seasonal than this. And you have just over 2 weeks left to make it, so if you start this weekend it will be ready just in time for Christmas. Cranberries, Vodka and a bottle, that is really all you need. Not sure where to get a bottle? Head over to Michael’s Crafts, they have tons of bottles to choose from, or even homegoods. A solid gift that is sure to please.

Chocolate Candy Cane Marshmellows, from “A Field Journal”

Does this really even need a description?? Marshmellows, Candy Canes and Chocolate, and they even give you a link to print out the label! And again, head over to Michael’s Craft Store for the baggies or a container to put them in.

Coffee Liqueur, From Creative Culinary

How to make coffee liqueur, Photo by Creative Culinary

If you like Kahlua then you will LOVE this! Barb is not only a genius when it comes to all things edible, she is also an amazing woman and inspiration to me. This will not be ready to give by Christmas, by in the spirit of honesty, who do you really love enough to share something this amazing with?  Probably the only people you also love enough to cook for. So make this now, and in a month or so have a dinner party and serve it! And take a look at Barb’s site while you are there, she is a wealth of knowledge.

Homemade Vanilla, From Simply Recipes

Photo from Simply Recipes

Homemade Vanilla is another classic gift, you just can’t go wrong with it. And though it won’t be ready to use if you give it for Christmas, just include a little tag with instructions on how to care for it until it matures, and voila! If you decide to make this for a later gift date, then check here for a great packaging idea, complete with labels.

These are just a few ideas, there are tons more out there. Poke around on the websites these are from and you will find ever more. Or search Pinterest, there are thousands there!!!!! But I definitely have some ideas now on quick things I can make!

PS, Michael’s Crafts has no clue who I am, I just love the store and get most of my supplies and crafy things there cause its like Disneyland for me, it’s almost as great as Warren Cutlery 😉