Doubly Cheesy Apple Panini

Since cheese and apples are best friends with my fridge-no matter the season-this triple decker seems to be a quick, recurring, home-alone meal (serves 2, in case you have company):
3 T fresh goat cheese
1/2 t nutmeg
1/2 t paprika
1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
6 slices multi-grain bread
1 Granny Smith apple-sliced into 1/4 in - 1/2 in wedges
1 shallot-cut in half, pealed, and thinly sliced
5 slices sharp cheddar cheese
1. Turn on your panini maker (alternatively, grill the sandwiches on the stove top in a grill pan).
2. In a small bowl, mix goat cheese with nutmeg, paprika, and pepper.
3. On a work surface divide the goat cheese, equally, between two slices of bread and spread evenly to the edges.
4. Top each slice with 4 apple wedges; then top apples with a second slice of bread.
5. Top each stack with shallots (divided equally between the two) and 2.5 slices of cheddar.
6. Place the last piece of bread on top of each stack.
7. Place the sandwiches into the panini maker (or on an oiled, pre-heated grill pan) and grill until the cheese has melted and the bread is brown and crispy.


Honey Honeydew Smoothie

Enjoy this sweet cool smoothie in the extreme heat of the summer! To adjust it for 'adult consumption', add one shot of light rum per person. Chef's note: Like men, some honeydews are sweeter than others; be sure to adjust the amount of honey you're using, depending on the sweetness of your honeydew. If you've happened upon a very sweet and ripe one, cut down on honey (to 1/4 cup), if your honeydew is lacking flavor, add honey gradually, until you reach the sweetness you crave (serves 4):
4 heaping cups ripe honeydew chunks (~ 1.5 to 2 lbs, ~2 to 3 inches each) plus 4, 1/4 inch wedges for garnish
1 cup Granny Smith apple wedges-skin and core removed (approximately one small apple)
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/3 cup honey
2 t cinnamon
1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth (depending on the size of your blender, you may need to work in two batches).
2. Refrigerate for ~30 minutes, garnish with honeydew wedges, and serve. Alternatively, add ice to the blender and blend until all ice is crushed; garnish with honeydew wedges and serve immediately.


Cherry Reduction Spiked Ricotta Crepes

Crepes are my go-to, quick fill when I'm craving carbs. They can be filled with anything and everything-savory, sweet, your mind is your limit (as one of my favorite instructors used to say). Cherries remind me of going to the summer lake in Russia, when I was very young. This was an annual tradition with family and friends. All the girls used to make cherry earrings-by searching for two cherries which were attached at the stem, and hanging them over our ears! This is a great summer treat-try substituting buckwheat flour for half of the AP flour. Alternatively, use whole wheat flour, in which case you'll need to add a bit more milk (or water) to make the batter the right consistency (makes 8 crepes):
2 eggs
1 cup low fat milk
1 cup AP flour
1.5 t salt
1 t cinnamon (plus 1.5 t for the filling)
1 t nutmeg (plus 1 t for the filling)
cooking spray
2 cups fresh cherries (~12 oz)
1 cup sherry vinegar
1 T + 2 t sugar
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1. In a bowl, whisk eggs and milk.
2. In a separate bowl, mix flour, salt, 1 t cinnamon, and 1 t nutmeg.
3. Add the wet ingredients into the dry and mix well (the batter should be the consistency of eggnog).
4. Heat a small, non-stick pan (~7.5 in) over medium-high heat and spray with cooking spray.


Turkey Bacon Wrapped Seared Brussels Sprouts with a Red Wine Reduction

With all the brussels sprouts critics out there, this one is great for converting the doubters (serves 2):
6 slices of turkey bacon
3 oz olive oil (divided into 1 oz and 2 oz)
6 Brussels sprouts (stem trimmed and cut in half)
2.5 t honey
1.5 cup green tea (steeped)
1/2 t cayenne pepper
3/4 cup red wine
2/3 cup chicken stock
1.5 T butter
salt-to taste
pepper-to taste
parsley-for garnish
1. Brown the turkey bacon in 1 oz olive oil until just cooked, but not crispy; remove and reserve.
2. Add brussels sprouts to the pan and cook on low heat; add honey, 2 oz olive oil, 2/3rds of the green tea, cayenne, salt, and pepper; cook until tender (approximately 15 min), adding more green tea as needed.


Simple Whole Wheat Roti

Over the years, my best friend and I inhaled an exorbitant amount of her mom's delicious roti (an Indian bread, very common in Trinidad, as well as various other parts of the world). Because my cravings for the flaky, soft, wheat bread have never faded, I decided to do a bit of research and make my own twist on this lifetime favorite. Since roti forms an inside pocket (after cooking), it's a great place for stuffing...stuff! Our most popular accompaniment to roti has always been a great cheese. Alternatively, try vanilla yogurt, jam, salsa, and [of course] picking up meat/curries with it (after all, that's the most frequent use of roti in its originating countries)! Although roti is traditionally made on a tawa (a flat iron pan), I've improvised here to accommodate those of us who are not in its possession. Makes 5 roti:
1 cup and 2 T whole wheat flour (plus extra for rolling out roti)
2.5 t salt
1.5 t paprika
1 t nutmeg
1 t cayenne pepper
1/2 cup lukewarm water
3 T canola oil (plus extra for pan)
1. In a food processor, mix flour, salt, paprika, nutmeg, and cayenne.
2. Using two tablespoons at a time, add water to the dry mixture, allowing it to be absorbed after each addition; repeat for remaining water. You've now formed a dough, which is only slightly sticky (if your dough is too watery, add a bit more flour; if it's too dry, add a tiny bit more water, being careful not to make the dough too wet).