buon appetito

antipasto plate_jsorelle

We’re Italian and proud of it. We love our heritage and the Italian culture…and of course, the food! Our mouths water with the site of a good Antipasto Platter.

But, how do they do it? How do people create that savory “before the meal” plate that can bring people together and satisfy their cravings? What’s the secret to a beautiful and delicious Antipasto Plate?

We know an expert who can tell us…because we know a place that does everything right when it comes to Italian food and ambiance.

Parisi.

Christine and Simone successfully recreated a little piece of Italy in Denver, Colorado. If you haven’t been, you need to go. And, if you don’t live in CO, you need to add a visit to CO to your bucket list, and add Parisi to your must-eat list.

Here’s owner Christine’s tips for a delectable Antipasto Platter.

- Make sure there’s a balance of olives, cheese, cold cuts & toasted bread with topping.
- Include a mix of soft and hard cheese.
- Tempt the palette with new flavors because people always like to try new things, but also intermingle with a few familiar flavors.
- Keep the toppings simple for the Bruschetta using seasonal veggies. It’s nice to add a little sweet balsamic to the mix to balance out the savory.

parisi antipasto platter_jsorelle

And, what about the essential sidekick to a yummy Antipasto Platter, otherwise known as wine? Christine has us covered there too.
“Reds are a good choice for heartier antipasti plates such as a San Giovese blend {San Giovese is the grape used for Chianti and so many of the Tuscan faves),” she said. “But a refreshing Pinot Grigio isn’t a bad choice for those who insist on white.” 
She added, “Oh, and then there is one of my favorite red Italian blends from the Veneto region:  La Cappuccina’s Madego.. it’s organic and so smooth, but not boring. But I am all for blends these days…I can’t commit to just one grape.”
parisi antipasto platter_jsorelle
The list of ingredients from the mouth-watering plate Meredith Moran of Meredith Moran Photography snapped for us at Parisi includes…
Drunken Goat (harder goat cheese immersed in red wine)
Fresh Asiago
Pecorino Picante
Prosciutto di Parma
Finocchiona salame (with fennel)
Castelvetrano & Kalamata Olives
Mortadella
Pancetta
Bruschetta with an artichoke topping & a cherry tomato topping
parisi antipasto platter_jsorelle
Now are you ready to impress your guests with the most amazing Antipasto Platter ever? Of course, if you need some authentic Italian food for inspiration, a great sandwich for lunch, an impressive place to bring a special date, or you just want to indulge yourself because you deserve it, stop by Parisi. If you want to eat for hours like the Italian’s do in a more intimate setting, make a reservation right below Parisi at Firenze a Tavola {same owners}. I promise, you will want to go back for more. It’s special to us, not only because Florence is our love affair city, but also because Jenna and Will celebrated their rehearsal dinner at Firenze a Tavola, and that was just the beginning to a wonderful life together.
parisi denver_jsorelle
parisit denver_jsorelle
Thanks to Christine at Parisi and Meredith Moran for making this post possible.

gf cashew hummus {recipe}


My dad loves cashews. As for me, they are ok. But, Cashew Hummus. Sign me up. Seriously, it’s so good. My lovely neighbor made some for me, and I recently attempted the recipe. Easy, delish and so healthy. Not only are cashews are full copper, magnesium, zinc and manganese, but they also contain Omega 3 fatty acids and Argenine {a non-essential amino acid good for heart health}. On top of all that, lemon juice also boasts healthy essentials such as vitamin c, calcium and phosphorus, as well as anti-inflammatory properties. It’s a win-win.

This dish would be a lovely hostess gift served with crackers and fresh veggies in a basket, it will impress the pickiest of eaters {I know because my son is picky, and he loved it}, and one of the reasons I LOVED IT SO MUCH is because it’s the perfect appetizer for your vegan and gluten-free friends coming over for dinner. I love healthy people, but sometimes it’s hard to find a yummy recipe that will please everyone, and fit into everyone’s dietary needs. Unless you or a guest is allergic to cashews, this recipe is for you!

Gluten Free Cashew Hummus
recipe adapted from Sunfood Recipes
makes 3-4 cups homemade hummus {in other words, plenty to serve at a party…and to share with a neighbor}

Ingredients
3 cups raw cashews
3/4 cup tahini {my neighbor just roasted sesame seeds and used in place of actual tahini}
3/4 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice
6 garlic cloves
1.5 tsp fine Sea Salt
1.5 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp chili powder {my neighbor omitted this, and it was still delish}
1.5 tsp paprika

How To
Soak cashews for 3 hours.
Rinse and Drain the water several times.
Place cashews and all other ingredients in a food processor.
Puree until well blended.
It will probably be thick, so add water 1/4 cup at a time until you reach desired consistency.

{images via Tutto Bella}

we dig it

Gardens are a happy place. I really believe that. Maybe it’s because I have happy memories watching my grandpa and grandma tend to the garden with their sun hats, cherishing the sounds of birds chirping in the nearby bird bath, and taking in the smells and sounds around them…and then sharing their zucchini and garlic with us. I also know that gardening is therapeutic for people, and can be a place of solace where people connect with nature and themselves. With water and a little TLC, just a tiny seed can grow into a plant that can nourish a family. Amazing!

Having attempted a garden for two years, I’ve had successes and failures. I can grow carrots, strawberries, kale, spinach and basil. As for zucchini, well, the verdict is still out. The veggies that don’t like my garden, or my beginner gardening skills, are cucumber, beans and peas.

Now is the time of year many people are harvesting their summer garden and enjoying the fruits {and veggies} of their labor on the dinner table. So, this week is all about the garden. We’ll have recipes, inspiration and tips.

Today’s garden-inspired recipe is from a favorite family friend, Sandy Lessig. She made so many meals for our family when I gave birth to all 3 kids {and those of you with kids know how fantastic a cooked meal by someone else is post labor}, and recently had us over for dinner. I inhaled her delicious food, and she was kind enough to share her healthy appetizer recipe with me to share with you.

This makes for a wonderful party appetizer…and for all you wonderful gluten-free folk, this one works for you too!

Eggplant, Pepper and Onion Dip
recipe adapted from Sandy Lessig

Ingredients
1 red pepper
1 eggplant
1/2-1 Vidalia onion {if you like a stronger onion flavor, use 1 whole onion. And when Vidalia onions are out of season, use yellow onions}
4-8 tablespoons Olive Oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Food Should Taste Good, Olive Chips

How To
Cut red pepper, eggplant and 1/2 onion into large pieces. Keep the skin on the eggplant.
Toss the vegetables with olive oil, salt and pepper. I covered the veggies in about 4 tablespoons of olive oil, and 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper.

Roast veggies at 350 degrees until tender, about 30 min.
Use a food processor {or blender} to blend the veggies together. I added another 2 tablespoons Olive Oil to the food processor as I was blending it to make it smoother, but the amount of Olive Oil you add if your preference. You can add salt, pepper and even garlic salt to taste too.
Serve in a bowl or fancy individual cup with Gluten Free, Food Should Taste Good Olive Crackers. You can serve this warm or cold {it’s similar to hummus}, so you can make the day before a party and not worry about re-heating.
Enjoy!

{images via Tutto Bella}

{recipe} veggie christmas tree

This is one of my favorite appetizers, and its moderately healthy with the raw veggies. Plus, its colorful and absolutely delicious. We recently had a family gathering, so transformed an ordinary veggie pizza into a Veggie Christmas Tree in celebration of the holiday season.

You should add this to your list of apps this holiday season…seriously, so good!

Veggie Christmas Pizza
recipe adapted from my mom 

Ingredients
1 8 oz. package of refrigerated Crescent Rolls
8 oz. cream cheese softened
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp dry dill weed
1 tsp dry minced onion
2 cups finely chopped veggies {to keep in line with holiday colors, we used broccoli, cauliflower, red bell pepper and thin carrot sticks}
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped green onions

How-To
Spread Crescent Roll dough on ungreased cooking sheet
Press seams together
Bake at 400 degrees for approximately 10 minutes {watch it so it doesn’t get too brown…you want it golden brown}
Blend cream cheese, mayonnaise, dill weed and minced onion in a medium bowl
Once crust is done, let cool
Spread the cream cheese blend on the cooled crust
Use a knife to cut the ‘pizza’ into a large triangle tree, and use ‘unused tree parts’ for gifts and a tree trunk…and don’t forget to use a star cookie cutter for the tree on top

Arrange ‘tree’ and ‘tree accessories’ on a platter.

Decorate with veggies. You can even get creative adding ‘bows’ and ‘ribbon’ to the gifts. So fun!


Chill in refrigerator until ready to serve
Remember to cut the tree into pieces prior to serving so everyone can get a piece. You can ‘re-piece’ or place the small pieces together into the shape of the tree.
NOTE: Make 2 veggie pizzas because it will be gone in 2 minutes.

Enjoy.

{images via Tutto Bella}

pumpkin dip

If you’re looking for that easy, no-bake, semi-healthy appetizer for this year’s Thanksgiving party, snack for the kiddos or even a treat to share at the office this week, look no further. This pumpkin dip is delish.

Pumpkin Dip
recipe adapted from friend and former colleague, Elizabeth

1 8oz package cream cheese
1 can {15 oz} pumpkin puree
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon ginger

 Serve with ginger snaps, apples, graham crackers and pears.

{images via Tutto Bella}