Mrs. Carla Monti

Mrs. Carla Monti

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Spaghetti Squash Bolognese

I love everything about spaghetti squash, from the ease of baking it, to the flavor and texture. I think it's an excellent substitution for pasta or rice, and a fun spin on traditional dishes such as Bolognese.

I always soften my spaghetti squash by microwaving it for 4-5 minutes first, before slicing it in half and scooping out the seeds. While it baked in the oven for 40 minutes, I prepared the Bolognese sauce. I wanted to make something simple and quick, so I didn't follow a recipe. First I put a diced yellow onion and minced garlic in a hot pan with olive oil, and once those were softened, added a pound of ground beef. After the ground beef was browned, I drained the grease out, and added a few tablespoons of tomato paste. Once the meat absorbed the paste, I added half a cup of red wine to scrape up the browned bits at the bottom of the pan (this is where all your flavor is!), and added a can of crushed tomatoes. Finally, I added some salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes and let it all cook together for 20 minutes or so. Once the squash was done, I scooped out the "spaghetti" and topped it with the Bolognese meat sauce and some Parmesan cheese. This was SO tasty and everyone in my house loved it!





Cauliflower Crust Pizza!

I have definitely been on a serious cauliflower kick lately. One of my favorite grocery stores is our local Trader Joe's. On a recent visit, I came across a frozen cauliflower pizza crust. It seems very easy to make your own cauliflower pizza crust at home, certainly, but I figured this would be a good way to taste test the flavor at home and see if it was a hit.

Well you know it's a hit when your toddler asks for seconds! This was delicious. I recommend following the instructions carefully (pre-bake for 30 min, flipping after 15) and I got mine perhaps more toasty than others would like it, but it was perfect for us. I had a jar of red wine marinara sauce, and some shredded mozzarella cheese, so it was the perfect simple pizza.




Homemade Pop Tarts!

I am not a huge fan of pop tarts, because I do not like that overly processed chalky taste, but when I saw a recipe for homemade pop tarts using rolled pie dough and organic strawberry preserves, I was intrigued. I love making breakfast type baked goods over the weekend, and I had just finished a batch of strawberry lemon muffins, so I was looking for something new. This great recipe came courtesy of The Pioneer Woman (link here).










Mississippi Sweets BBQ

As part of my job, I have to order catered breakfast and lunch several times a month, depending on when we have investor meetings or board meetings. Since I am such a foodie, I love to mix it up and order from different restaurants every time, and my co-workers really enjoy the variety.

Last Friday I ordered a nice spread from a local BBQ restaurant (Mississippi Sweets) and the food was so tasty! We ordered three trays of meat, pulled chicken, pork, and beef, along with bbq sauces, hot sauces, buns, mac and cheese, salad, corn bread, and of course, sweet tea. The food was absolutely delicious and we barely had any leftover!






Monday, August 14, 2017

Baked Broccoli Tots!

I am really on a "tot" kick lately, huh? I made these broccoli and cheddar "tots" yesterday and a lemon garlic yogurt cream sauce to accompany them. They were nice and crispy, but I learned that I really prefer the taste of cauliflower and other veggies to broccoli. Duly noted for the future!

These were very easy. I bought a large head of broccoli, removed the stems, diced up the florets, and steamed them in boiling water for 10 min or so. I diced them, added them to a bowl with eggs, breadcrumbs, shredded cheddar cheese, minced garlic, and assorted seasonings. I used Greek yogurt, mixed with fresh lemon juice, and garlic salt as the sauce.

Recipe link here!





Sunday, August 13, 2017

Capital Grille: Generous Pour Event!

Every summer, the Capital Grille restaurant chain throws a fantastic wine tasting event called "Generous Pour" (details can be found here!) For $28, you get to try 7 different wines that have been ranked highly (90+) points by critics. Three whites and four reds, and the pours are certainly generous! The servers will ask you if you would like more of any of the wines, and you're free to have as much as you'd like. It's a fabulous deal, and a great way to discover some new wines to add to your kitchen! My favorite white was the Cambria Chardonnay and my favorite red was the Siduri Pinot Noir, both available at Total Wines, and newly added to my to do list of errands!

I also enjoyed the stories behind these two wines. The Cambria brand is a all female operation - only women work at the winery and they have an all female management team. The Cambria label also sponsors women by providing an annual grant to a different woman once a year that empowers and motivates them. The bottle even features a self-portrait of the grant winner! The Siduri label gets its name from the Babylonian goddess of wine, which is just awesome!

The restaurant is also running an awesome give away - fill out the form with your contact info and drop it in the fishbowl at the front desk. One lucky winner will win all 7 of the wines featured in the Generous Pour event, plus the funky wooden wine holder shown below! Fingers crossed :)


This appetizer was so delicious - prosciutto wrapped mozzarella with balsamic marinated cherry tomatoes.


Giant shrimp cooked in garlic and lemon over crostini in a small cast iron skillet.


My husband's entree - large seared sea scallops over polenta and corn with torn lemongrass on top.


A small amuse-bouche to serve as a palette cleanser between white and red wines. This was a small piece of fried salmon over a dill cream sauce on top of a slice of fresh cucumber.


My entree - butterflied filet mignon with creamed corn and bacon as the side. Yum! And needless to say, the meat went fantastic with the last two red wines served, both full-bodied Cabernets!


And of course, we had to end the meal with chocolate lava cake to go with the last mouthfuls of Cab!










Yes, I took the wine glass. But to be fair, my rose needed the water! :)


Grilled Cheese Dippers!

It has been rainy and stormy lately here in South Florida (hello hurricane season!) so I was craving some comfort food. I wanted to make a grilled cheese sandwich to accompany some tomato bisque I picked up at a local deli, but wanted to make it more "kid-friendly" for my toddler. I sliced the sandwich up to make little "dippers" for the soup and it was a hit! The key is definitely to use sourdough for the bread, it tastes so much better that way!






Cooper's Hawk Winery & Restaurant!

My parents and I took my toddler to a new baby gym up in Palm Beach Gardens, just a bit north of where we live. We stopped by the mall next door for lunch and discovered an awesome new restaurant - Cooper's Hawk Winery! This chain has locations in various states, and their main bottling location is based out of Illinois. The space itself is conceptually lovely - you walk into a huge Napa-style tasting room and gift shop, with a separate dining area for the restaurant. A tasting is $7 and you try 8 different wines, a mix of reds and whites bottled by the brand. Lunch was fantastic - I had a short rib grilled cheese and it was so tasty!







Veggie Burgers!

As usual, in my perusing of my Facebook newsfeed, interesting recipes and food videos abound due to all the foodie pages I've 'liked' over the years. Last week I came across a recipe for veggie burgers, with a base made from baby portabella mushrooms, black beans, and spinach. I love making interesting kind of meals like this, even though we are not vegetarian or vegan in my household, because it's fun to mix it up!

This recipe was a huge hit and you can find it here. Below are my modifications to it.

  • No onion
  • Used whole eggs instead of just the whites
  • Used store bought chipotle mayo
  • Added more spices (cayenne, smoked paprika, white pepper)
  • Baked the patties for 5 min extra on each side
This recipe made a pretty decent amount of patties. I made 6 patties and baked them, and I put the leftover "mix" in the fridge, I may use it to make a frittata for lunch tomorrow.

In the veggie burgers, I used multigrain sandwich thins and toasted them before assembling with the baked patties, romaine lettuce and chipotle mayo. My husband ate 4! I made sweet potato wedges to serve alongside the burgers, and it was the perfect tasty side dish.