Top 5 Kitchen Must-Haves

{our new kitchen}

Since I’ve recently moved into my own adult-like place, I’ve started navigating my way around our new kitchen. One of my resolutions is to cook more often in 2017 which I’ve started to do the past few weeks.

Over the last few months though, we’ve received some amazing housewarming gifts and christmas gifts for the kitchen that I’ve absolutely fallen in love with. Yes, we are very lucky to have some really great friends and family in our lives!

If you’re like me and have a wedding packed social calendar this year, I definitely understand the last minute scrambling of engagement gifts or wedding gifts. Here are my top 5 can’t live without, must-have, kitchen items that I’m hoping will inspire and spark some gift ideas. Hope you enjoy!

MacKenzie Childs Tea Kettle

Nespresso Machine

Le Creuset Pot

Wusthof Knife Block Set

Farberware Hot Plates

{This item might seem a bit random but my apartment currently has no gas which means no stove. I’ve had to be creative and buy an electric hot plate which I recently purchased and this one works amazingly well! }

Balsamic Chicken with Roasted Vegetables

FullSizeRender (1)This past long weekend, I did absolutely nothing. I watched a few movies I’ve been meaning to see on Demand (Trainwreck and 99 homes – both very good!), napped a bunch and ran a few errands aka. returned things at Bloomingdales I did not need! Other than that, nothing very interesting happened and let me tell you, it felt really good. Sometimes I have to hold myself back into thinking I need to plan trips, attend events or commit to plans because the truth is, it’s really nice to just do nothing at all.

In order to start this week on a health kick, I tried this recipe and it was SO easy and delicious. All you need are the below ingredients, mix them together, put them in the oven for 30 minutes and you are all set. Here’s to hoping I start cooking just a bit more this year!

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Ingredients:

  • 8 (4 oz each) boneless skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • fresh black pepper, to taste
  • cooking spray
  • 10 medium asparagus, ends trimmed, cut in half
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1 red onions, chopped in large chunks
  • 1/2 cup carrots, sliced in half long, cut into 3-inch pieces
  • 5 oz sliced mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 tbsp dried oregano or thyme
  • 2 leaves fresh sage, chopped

PS. Have you seen my leg of lamb recipe? Check it out!

Spiced Pecan Pumpkin Bread


If there is one place I can spend hours upon hours in it’s William-Sonoma. There are so many cooking contraptions, utensils and recipes scoured all around the store that tend to keep me extremely occupied. I always pick up all sorts of random things and fill my basket up pretty quickly with shenanigans- like a donut pan. Hey, I need to start making those apple cider donuts and I definitely need the donut pan!

There are also so many quick and easy William-Sonoma mixes that never disappoint. I picked up this Spiced Pecan Pumpkin Quick Bread Mix and I couldn’t wait to overwhelm my kitchen with the smell of pumpkin because tis the season! Paired up with the cream cheese frosting recipe on the back of the mix, this Spicy Pumpkin Pecan recipe did not disappoint. If you find yourself at William-Sonoma these next coming weeks, I highly recommend you pick yourself up a quick bread (now 30% off online too), it’s to die for!





PS. Check out my Homemade Apple Pie recipe and Chocolate Mousse Recipe!

Tzaziki


Tzaziki is like ketchup for me – I put it on everything and anything during the summer. BBQ, veggies, chips – no matter what I’m eating, I love Tzaziki as a dip & a bit of flavor. Even though the Greeks make it the best, I tried to make my own today. And I have to say, it tasted prettyyyy good!

Ingredients:

  • Garlic
  • Dill
  • Mint
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 3 Greek Yogurts (depending on how much you want to make)
  • 2 seedless cucumbers
  • Lemon

How to: 

1. Slice up cucumbers and drain all of the water from the cucumbers

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2. Take the Greek yogurt out of the fridge and scoop them into a bowl (mix the yogurt before putting it into a bowl)

3. Chop up the dill into fine pieces 


4. Chop up the mint into fine pieces


4. Squeeze the Garlic into the Yogurt bowl


5. Mix the dill and mint into the yogurt bowl and squeeze half a lemon


6. Flatten the dip out and top it off with an olive and piece of mint!

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PS. See my Fava Dip Recipe and Gemista Recipe if you’re in a Greek mood!

Homemade Apple Pie

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I love simple recipes. If I can whip something up that’s straight forward with just a few steps but that also tastes delicious then I know I have a winning dessert. This is my mom’s homemade apple pie recipe and it hits just the right sweet tooth spot. Paired with chocolate or vanilla ice cream and you have a perfect combination of flavors. I brought this apple pie as one of the desserts for the mother’s day BBQ and it ended up being a huge hit. Top the sliced apples up with a bit of cinnamon & sugar and voila, it’s ready to go!

Ingredients:

  • 4 big apples
  • 1 pie crust
  • sugar & cinnamon
  • 1/4 stick of butter

Oven Temperature: 350 degrees

Cooking Time: 35 – 40 minutes (or until golden)

How to:

Place pie crust into a rounded pan

Poke holes with a fork into the pie crust

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Thinly slice apples and start placing them into a rounded formation one slice on top of another
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Once completed all the way around the pan, add a spoon of cinnamon and sugar
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Place drops of butter onto the apples for flavor

Place in the oven at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown

Let it cool and serve with any flavored ice cream – enjoy!

PS. Have you seen this delicious chocolate mouse recipe or this amazing chocolate covered strawberries recipe?

Chocolate Chocolate Mousse

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Ingredients: 

  • 2 tablets 200 grams bitter sweet chocolate
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 12 eggs
  • 12 tablespoons of sugar
  • raspberries

** recipe should be made the night before

How to:

Melt butter and chocolate in belle marie

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Separate the whites and the yellow of the eggs into two different bowls
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Beat the yellow of the egg for five minutes until very light yellow colored

Add 12 tablespoons of sugar to the light yellow eggs. Beat for another 5 minutes

Beat egg whites separately until firm

When chocolate is melted, add the chocolate into the yellow egg mixture very slowly (so that the egg doesn’t cook)

When eggs whites are beaten, add it to the yellow mixture very slowly. Do not stir the two together, instead, fold the white part of the eggs into the yellow eggs and chocolate

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Once finished mixing, pour mixture into a nice crystal bowl

Let chocolate mousse sit in the fridge over night

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Top the mousse off with a few raspberries and voila – a little bite of chocolate to start off the week!

PS. Check out more sweets and treats c’est moi natasha recipes here, and here!

Marinating

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I am a carnivore. I eat a lot of meat (something I should probably cut down on). One thing I do love (hey, it’s the Greek in me) is a perfect leg of lamb. The way my mom cooks it and most importantly marinates it is perfect and so so good. Last weekend, I asked her to give me some pointers on how to properly marinate a leg of lamb so that is can be really juicy & yummy. We prepped the Greekster leg of lamb together, and here’s what I learned:

Ingredients to use:

  • 1 Leg of Lamb
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Oregano
  • 20 Garlic Cloves
  • 2 lemons
  • Olive Oil
  • White Wine
  • Butter

Instructions:

1. Cut small incisions into parts of the lamb and add a garlic clove (depending on incision size) a pinch of salt, pepper and fresh oregano. Keep repeating until entire lamb is fully marinated. This is so that the lamb absorbs all of the flavors.

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2. Freshly squeeze fresh lemon into a bowl

3. Add fresh lemon into already cut incisions and all over the lamb

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4. Add a drizzle of olive oil and a quarter cup of white wine on top of the lamb

5. Add a few dabs of butter on top of the lamb to finish marinating

 

PS. Here are a few more c’est moi natasha favorite Greek recipes – Fava Dip & Gemista!

Gemista (pronounced: Yemista)

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Since Sunday was Greek Easter, my mom and I cooked the entire weekend for a big, fun, family gathering. My cousins from France, very close friends, boyfriend, parents and brother all spent the day together and we had such a great time. A big part of Greekster is the food. The food is so unbelievable! My yiayia (grandmother) lives in Greece so it’s tough for the entire family to get together but I always love making her classic recipes.

One of my all time favorite dishes is Gemista (pronounced: Yemista) which is a Greek staple dish. It’s essentially vegetables stuffed with homemade rice and minced meat. Honestly, the recipe takes a good amount of time from the preparation to the finale, but hey all good things take time! Here, I wanted to share my very secret yiayia’s Gemista recipe – take a peak!

Ingredients:

  • 8 tomatoes
  • 4 green peppers
  • 2 eggplants
  • 2 red onions finely chopped
  • 3/4 garlic cloves chopped
  • 2 zucchinis
  • 500gr of rice (uncle Ben)
  • Small bunch of chopped parsely
  • Small bunch of fresh mint choppped
  • Pomi tomato pure about 14oz
  • Butter
  • Olive oil
  • Salt/pepper
  • Oregano
  • 250 gr ground beef

Instructions: 

  1. Slice off the top of the tomatoes; using a spoon remove the flesh of the tomatoes and keep it in a bowl. The flesh of the tomatoes will be used for the base of the tomato sauce for the Gemista.
  2. Slice off the top of the eggplants and remove the flesh, using a spoon. Cut the flesh of the eggplants in small cubes and set aside, as you will also use them later for the filling of the Gemista.
  3. Slice off the top of the peppers and remove the seeds and white parts from the inside. Place the empty vegetables on a large baking tray. Try to leave the vegetables as thin as possible, leaving just a little of the flesh, but be careful not to poke through the skin.
  4. Season the empty vegetables with a pinch of salt and sugar and add a little butter on the bottom of each one.
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  5. In a blender add the flesh of the tomatoes, 5-6 tbsps olive oil, the tomato pure, season with salt and pepper and mix to combine. Set aside.
  6. In a saucepan, add some olive oil and sautee the onions and garlic until translucent.
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  7. Add 250grams (8.8oz) of ground beef with the onions . 
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  8. Once the beef juices have been absorbed and the meat is done, add choppped parsley and min. Chop the zucchini flesh in small cubes, add in the saucepan and sauté for one more minute. At the end add the flesh of the eggplants (chopped)  until softened.
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  9. Add the rice and continue sautéing, until it becomes transculent.
  10. Pour in the Pomi tomato sauce and the tomotoe flesh sauce and season with salt, pepper, and oregano. As soon as the liquid has been absorbed, the stuffing is ready.  Note: the rice is not totally cooked, it will finish cooking in the oven when. Remove the pan from the stove.
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  11. Spoon the rice and minced meat filling inside the empty vegetables and pour some olive oil and if any tomatoes sauce over the vegetables and in the baking tray.
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  12. Cover the vegetables with their lids and add 2-3 glasses of water around the vegetables.
  13. Cover the Gemista with aluminum foil and bake in preheated oven at 180 degrees for 60-75 minutes. Halfway through cooking time, remove the aluminum foil and bake until nicely colored.

Prep Time: 45 -55 min

Cook Time: 60-75 min

Fava Dip

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On my way to work yesterday, I read on The Skimm (I am a HUGE fan of The Skimm and I highly recommend signing up) that a ton, 30K to be exact, Saba Classic Hummus containers could be contaminated with Listeria. No thank you Listeria, get outta my fridge.

As much as I love hummus, hummus is NOT Greek. I repeat, hummus is NOT Greek. Instead, Greek families like my family, eat a delicious spread made from split yellow peas called Fava. Fava is essentially hummus on steroids, no lie. It’s a really filling snack and it’s so good for you too.

So what’s a girl to do without hummus? Well, Fava. Here is a family recipe I whipped up this afternoon!

Ingredients:

  1. 500g yellow split peas (18 ounces)
  2. 3 red onions, roughly chopped
  3. 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  4. 1 lt warm water (3 and 1/3 cups)
  5. juice of 2 lemons
  6. 1/3 of a cup olive oil
  7. thyme
  8. salt and fresh pepper

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Instructions:

  1. Rinse the split peas with plenty of water.
  2. Heat a large pot over medium-high heat; add 2-3 tbsps olive oil, the chopped onions, garlic and some fresh thyme and sauté.
  3. As soon as the onions start to caramelise add the peas and blend. Pour in the warm water and the olive oil, turn the heat down to medium and season well with salt and pepper.
  4. Simmer with the lid on for about 40-50 minutes, until the split peas are thick and mushy. While the split peas boil, some white foam will probably surface on the water. Remove the foam with a slotted spoon.
  5. When done, pour in the lemon juice and transfer the mixture in food processor. Mix, until the peas become smooth and creamy, like a puree.
  6. Serve the fava with a drizzle of olive oil, a tablespoon of diced onion and some capper or chopped parsley.

Throw that hummus out and make some Fava, Greek style!

Fries

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{image via c’est moi natasha instagram}

If I could only eat one meal every single night forever and ever it would be….. a basket of french fries with Heinz ketchup. I am a HUGE french fries aficionado. No shame..it’s my number one weakness. If I read on a menu that a meal comes with french fries, I will solely order that meal so that I can have the fries. I know, I know, it’s pretty crazy.

McDonalds fries though…those are the absolute very best. They are perfectly salty, perfectly crispy and perfectly golden. I just can’t.help.it. When I read that McDonalds in Sweden was starting a Big Mac clothing line, all I could think about was but how about the fries?! I mean, I know the Big Mac is ya know THE Big Mac but hey give some love to the fries! I have to admit though, the clothing line is pretty brilliant.

As I was reading about the new clothing line, I found myself hungrily (not sure if that’s a word) scouring the internet for some cute fries gear. Below are some pretty cool looks!

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Now which one should I get my hands on..?

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