Home Cook and Avid Runner

Roasted White Balsamic Grape and Ricotta Crostini

Grape Crostini.jpgIt has been WAY too long since I shared some wonderful recipes with everyone and it is time to change that!  I cannot wait to dive right back in to blogging and share some delicious recipes with everyone.  The first recipe I want to share is something that came out of some extra odds and ends from the fridge on appetizer night.  We love having appetizer nights in our house, and this recipe was an experiment that turned into a winner!  The white balsamic brings out the sweetness of the grapes, and the juice the grapes release is so delicious paired with the creamy ricotta mixture.  This recipe is great for a movie night in, but also fancy enough for entertaining.  Enjoy!


Roasted White Balsamic Grape and Ricotta Crostini

from Thyme to Beet Original



1.5 pounds seedless red grapes

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (I used garlic infused)

1 teaspoon white balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon thyme

1 French baguette, sliced into crostini

8 oz whole milk ricotta



Preheat oven to 450 F.

On a sheet pan, toss the grapes with oil, balsamic vinegar, kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Roast the grapes in the oven until softened and starting to release juices, about 15 minutes.

Mix the ricotta and thyme together in a small bowl.

Cut the baguette into ¼-inch thick pieces, crust off. Brush with oil and toast until golden.

To assemble: spread some ricotta mixture over the crostini, top with a few grapes, and finish with some of the grape juice from the sheet pan.

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Rocco DiSpirito’s Baked Ziti


Well everyone the move is officially over!!! That is not to say all of the boxes are unpacked by any means, but we are officially in our new home in Arizona.  First room that had to be unpacked is the kitchen of course.  This was crucial because after 1700 miles in a car with two tiny dogs and eating on the go constantly for the weeks leading up to the move, I needed to cook!  My new kitchen is amazing! I cannot wait to cook all kinds of new and exciting recipes for everyone.  I decided to start off cooking something from Rocco DiSpirito’s Italian cookbook.  When making it, little did I know the garlic bread from the same book would be such a big hit, so I definitely be sharing that with you in the future.  This was a lightened up version of the classic, but I did not feel like I was missing anything.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.


Rocco DiSpirito’s Baked Ziti


2 Tbsp kosher salt 

8 oz whole wheat rigatoni

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

2 cups marinara sauce (make your own or find a low sugar one such as Trader Joe’s)

16 large basil leaves, torn in pieces

2 Tbsp grated parmesan

3/4 cup fat free ricotta cheese

2 oz mozzarella cheese, sliced into small strips


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Boil 4 quarts of water and add salt. Add pasta and cook to al dente. Drain and return to pot.  Add pepper flakes and marinara to cooked pasta and stir.  Stir in basil and half the Parmesan.  Mix all together. Season with salt and pepper.  Transfer the mixture to a baking dish. Dollop ricotta on surface of the pasta. Place in oven and bake for about 7 minutes. Remove from oven and scatter mozzarella evenly over top of pasta. Then sprinkle on remaining Parmesan.  Turn on broiler. Place dish on center oven rack. Cook until cheese is lightly browned.

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Twice-Baked Shrimp Stuffed Potatoes


I have been having these potatoes on holidays for a few years now and they are so decadent and delicious.  With New Year’s Eve coming, several people like to entertain at home instead of going out, and this would be the perfect side dish for crowds.  You can make these up to a couple days in advance.  I like to make the potatoes the day before and refrigerate the filling and shells.  This makes it so easy to assemble and go the day they are needed.     You can either choose to leave your shrimp whole or chop them up into a couple pieces, which is the way I like to serve them since then you get some in each bite.  I also like to use different varieties of cheese, usually whatever is in my fridge.  I used Colby jack cheese for Christmas yesterday and they were delicious.  I hope everyone is having a great holiday season and enjoy!



Twice-Baked Shrimp Stuffed Potatoes

by  Paula Deen


  • 6 large Idaho potatoes
  • Vegetable oil, for coating
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 pound sauteed shrimp, peeled
  • 8 ounces grated Cheddar, plus more for sprinkling
  • Paprika, for sprinkling


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cover a baking sheet or pan with aluminum foil.

Begin by washing the potatoes, drying them and gently pricking them with a fork on the sides. Coat each potato with vegetable oil, place on the prepared baking sheet and bake for about 1 hour.

Remove the potatoes from the oven and slice the top third off of each potato. Gently scoop out the potato and place in a large bowl. Place the butter in the bowl. Using a mixer on high, mix together, and then add the sour cream and salt and pepper to taste.

Chop the shrimp into large pieces. Fold in the shrimp and cheese into the mixture. Gently stuff the mixture back into the potato shells, making sure not to break them. Pile the mixture as high as you can on top of the potato shells. Sprinkle each potato with more cheese and some paprika for color. Bake in the oven until browned on top, 20 to 25 minutes.

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Small Batch Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies


I do not have much of a sweet tooth, but there are times when I just crave chocolate chip cookies.  There is something so comforting about a warm chocolate chip cookie to me.  But, I do not make cookies a lot since most recipes make several dozens and then they just go to waste.  There is no way 2 people can eat 5 dozen cookies in three days.  I tried cutting down several recipes with not a lot of success because of the gluten free aspect, and then decided maybe letting them chill before putting them in the oven would help.  I used a new flour I had purchased and some of my favorite chocolate chips from Enjoy Life.  They came out great!  It only makes 8 cookies which is plenty to have for a snack for a couple days and the texture even with being gluten free is phenomenal. They are on the table in not time flat, hope you enjoy!

Small Batch Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies


  • ½ cup + 1 tbsp. gluten free flour ( I used Namaste foods)
  • ¼ tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ¼ cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ½ tsp. vanilla
  • ⅓ cup chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life which are soy, dairy, and nut free)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silipat mat and set aside. In your stand mixer, mix together the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until smooth. Add in the egg yolk and vanilla and mix until fully combined.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until fully combined, then fold in the chocolate chips.  Set dough aside to chill in the freezer for about ten minutes. This will help to keep your cookies from spreading too much.  Remove dough from the freezer and scoop out rounded balls of dough (about two tablespoons each) onto the baking sheet.  Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cookies will be slightly underdone, allow to cool for at least ten minutes on baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

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Slow Cooker Drunken Cornish Hens

cornish Hens


I have always walked through the grocery store and thought how cute cornish hens were, but I also always thought how hard they would be to prepare.  One day, I saw them on sale and decided to give cooking them a try.  I scoured the internet and Pinterest for a recipe.  Finally I saw the one below during Thanksgiving season as a perfect recipe for two.  I was a little leery about using a slow cooker since I had read in several recipes that cornish hens dried out easily.  So I put my hens in and hoped for the best.    Eight hours later I could have not been happier with the results!  They were juicy and cooked perfectly.  The meat fell right off the bone, so it made photographing them very difficult.  This is why I settled on a “before” picture.   The dish would make a great entertaining recipe, as well as a dressed up version of the typical poultry dish.  Just be careful to not let them sit in the slow cooker on warm due to the fragile bones, making them difficult to plate and eat.  Enjoy!



Slow Cooker Drunken Cornish Hens

from Thanksgiving for Two


  • 2 – Cornish Hens
  • 4-6 – Sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 2 – Small to medium sweet onions
  • 8-10 – Cloves of fresh garlic
  • Butter or margarine
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 Bottle White Wine, favorite varietal
  • 1 1/2 cups – Chicken broth


Thaw the cornish hens if frozen, and pat skin dry.  Slice onions to ½ inch thickness and place in the bottom of the slow-cooker.  Add 4-6 cloves of garlic and several sprigs of rosemary, as well.  Add to the cavity of each hen: 1-2 slices of onion, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 sprig of rosemary, and a spoonful of butter or margarine.  Rub the skins of the hens with butter or margarine.  Add salt and pepper to the skin and pat down.  Turn the hens over and repeat. Place both hens, with the wings and drumsticks facing upward, into the slow-cooker.  Add wine and chicken broth.  Cover. Cook on high for 4 hours, or on low for 8 hours, making sure the internal temperature of each hen reaches at least 165 degrees F.  (Note: It is not recommended that you allow these birds to sit on the “Warm” setting of your slow-cooker for an additional 8 hours after cooking–the bones are thin and fragile and will begin to break apart making the meat more difficult to extract.)

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