July 12-16th, 2012- Amanda

I’ve just returned from an amazing weekend visiting with my college roommate and her incredible family.  They are family to me, and I’m so incredibly thankful for their strength, openness, and love.  We met up with another roommate of ours, with whom we used to throw fabulous parties with way too much food.  We kept up with tradition.  I was absolutely convinced that if we made crostini, her Aunt and Uncle (who I adore) would also come to our party.  It worked!  In addition to the  Magic Crostini, we made Roasted Tomato Soup (inspired by Chloe’s Kitchen), Lentil Salad, Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Pistachio Brown Sugar Cream Sauce, and Peanut Butter Bobs (also inspired by Chloe’s Kitchen).

A word on the Peanut Butter Bobs:  we originally were trying to come up with a clever name for these peanut butter truffles, and settled on Peanut Butter Bliss Bombs.  But “bombs” sounds a bit awkward, and the chocolate topping looked a lot like a toupe to me…. so we named them Bob. 

Magic Crostini

1 baguette, sliced and toasted

Bruschetta topping:

3 tomatoes, diced

1/2 cup basil, shredded

3 tablespoons balsamic, reduced until syruppy

salt and pepper to taste

Mango Salsa topping:

2 mangoes, diced

1/2 red onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped

1 lime, juiced

salt to taste

Avocado Salad topping:

1 avocado, diced

1 tomato, diced

1/2 lemon, juiced

salt to taste


1.  For each topping, toss ingredients in a bowl.

2.  Set out the bowls with the toast.  Allow people to scoop up their desired topping onto a slice of bread and enjoy.

Roasted Tomato Soup

4 1/2 pounds tomatoes, quartered

1 large onion, sliced

10 cloves garlic

1/2 cup olive oil

1 cup basil

1 box vegetable stock

1 28 ounce can tomato puree

salt and pepper to taste


1.  Preheat oven to 450 Fahrenheit.

2.  In a roasting pan, combine tomatoes, onion, garlic and olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper and roast until caramelized (about 40-50 minutes).

3.  Let cool and puree roasted tomato mix with basil.

4.  Add tomato puree and stock and heat on the stovetop until hot.

5.  Yum!

Lentil Salad

16 ounces lentils

4 celery stalks, chopped

1 onion, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 tablespoons balsamic reduction

salt and pepper to taste


1. Cover lentils with cold water.  Bring to a boil and let simmer about 3o minutes, or until soft.  Drain and set aside.

2.  Toss celery, onion and carrot with oil, salt and pepper.  Place on a roasting pan and roast at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 20-25 minutes, or until caramelized.

3.  Combine roast vegetables with lentils and balsamic reduction.  Season to taste.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Pistachio Brown Sugar Cream Sauce

Sweet Potato Gnocchi:

2 sweet potatoes, roasted, peeled and mashed finely

3 cups flour

1/4 tsp. nutmeg, ground

1 teaspoon salt

Pistachio Brown Sugar Cream Sauce:

5 ounces cashews, soaked overnight or boiled for 10 minutes

2 ounces pistachios, soaked overnight or boiled for 10 minutes

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, ground

1/2 teaspoon ginger, ground

3/4 teaspoon salt


1.  For gnocchi:  In a bowl, combine mashed sweet potato with spices and flour.  Knead until a soft dough forms.  Divide the dough into 6 pieces and roll out into ropes.  Cut the ropes into bite sized pieces.  Boil for 3-4 minutes, or until they float to the top.  Serve with pistachio brown sugar cream sauce.

2.  For cream sauce:  Drain the cashews and pistachios.  Put the nuts in a blender and cover with fresh water.  Puree until smooth and creamy.  Add more water if the sauce looks too thick.  It will be very thick, but should pour.   In a small saucepan, combine nut cream with brown sugar and spices.  Serve over the gnocchi.

Peanut Butter Bobs

1/2 cup peanut butter

3/4 cup powdered sugar

1 cup chocolate chips, melted


1.  Combine peanut butter and powdered sugar.

2.  Roll into balls and put  in the refrigerator to let them set.

3.  Remove the balls from the refrigerator and pour a dollop of melted chocolate over top of each one.

4.  Yum city!


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