Category: Sides

Perfectly Fall Pear Salsa!

A salsa does not have to be chunky tomatoes scooped up with crispy salty tortilla chips. Although delicious, the components of a traditional salsa can be used to make something new! So let’s see…a fruit, onion, chili peppers, and of course a cheese! The habanero has a fruity flavor if you can take the heat and pairs really well with a fruit based salsa.

Most recently, we ate this salsa chilled, alongside beautiful butternut squash wedges that were seasoned with lime and spicy sweet flavors. You can also prepare this recipe warm! Just put some oil in a pan and add the goat cheese last! I love a fruit salsa with a beautiful piece of fish, like salmon! Not sure? Trust me this is delicious!


Pear Salsa
2 pears, chopped (squeeze a little lemon so they don’t brown)
1/2 of 1 small red or yellow onion, finely chopped
1 small habanero or poblano pepper, finely chopped
1- 2 lemons, squeezed approx. 4 tbsp.
2 tbsp. your favorite honey, (Right now I looooove The Wright Stuff)
1/2 tbsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp. chopped cilantro or parsley
salt/pepper to taste
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese


In a mixing bowl, whisk together honey, lemon juice, and olive oil.
Add pears, onion, pepper, garlic, cilantro, and salt and pepper.
Mix to coat.
Add crumbled goat cheese and carefully stir.
Serve chilled.


Parmesan Crusted Pork Chops with Apple Pear Cranberry Risotto

My quick pan pork chops are just like grandma’s except I add a Parmesan crust. I use the traditional 3-step crusting process, egg dip, breadcrumbs, Parmesan topping. You might say why not mix the Parmesan and herbs with the breadcrumbs? Save a step? Yes, but you chance not getting half as much Parmesan to stick! We can’t have that! By tossing the pork chop twice, the tiny spots that the breadcrumbs didn’t cover get filled in with parm!



So I was totally in the mood for an apple -pear side dish to accompany these chops, something sweet but still fall. I came up with an Apple Pear Cranberry Risotto! The best part is I rehydrated the cranberries with Wigle Whiskey’s “Landlocked” rum!

With all of the favorite holiday flavors, this risotto would be fabulous alongside Thanksgiving dinner, your Holiday ham, or just because! Serve it with a savory meal or top it with ice cream for dessert!


Apple Pear Cranberry Risotto
Ingredients :
1/2 cup dried cranberries, soaked
in rum until plump
1 Granny Smith apple, chopped
1 red delicious apple, chopped
1 d’anjou pear, chopped
3 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp.sugar
2 cups arborio rice
3-4 cups milk
1 tbsp. Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. nutmeg

Melt butter in a large sauce pan.
Add apples, pears, and sugar.
Cook until they turn golden and soften.
Add cranberries with any rum left in the pan and arborio rice. Mix well.
Heat milk until hot but not boiling. I used my large glass measuring cup.
Add milk 1/2 cup at a time, constantly stirring and allowing the milk to absorb into the rice and cook each time. You will need anywhere from 3-4 cups. Keep adding milk and stirring until rice is al dente.
Remove from heat and add spices.
Mix well and serve warm.


Parmesan Crusted Pork Chops
4 -6 bone in pork chops
2 eggs
2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
2 cups fresh grated Parmesan cheese
3 cloves finely chopped garlic
1 tsp. chopped basil
1 tsp. chopped parsley
Salt/pepper to taste

Set up 3 pie plates in a row.
In the first pie plate, whisk 2 eggs.
In the second plate, add the Panko breadcrumbs.
In the third plate, add the Parmesan and remaining ingredients.

Dip the pork chops in the egg, flipping to coat both sides.
Then cover both sides with Panko breadcrumbs, and then the Parmesan mixture.
Continue with all chops.
Heat 2 tbsp. Oil in a large pan.
Add pork chops, flip when brown approximately 5 minutes per side or until internal temperature reaches 145 degrees.
Let stand to absorb juices and serve!


Fried Heirloom Tomatoes!

Traditional Southern fried green tomatoes are actually tart, unripened red tomatoes, breaded and fried in oil. Their firmness makes them perfect for frying! I was given some gorgeous, solid heirloom tomatoes that were so sweet, not mushy at all, so I decided to fry them for a sweeter version.  Of course topping them with parmesan cheese and fresh basil for a totally perfect mix of flavors!
Heirloom tomatoes are the best. Passed down from generation to generation, heirlooms’ taste will far exceed any tomato you find at the grocery store. Found in an array of colors, they all taste a bit different.

I made a Caprese salad last night using really ripened heirlooms. I’m not sure which ones tasted better yellow, orange, red/green striped, brown? They are all amazingly delicious!
Ok, back to frying them. So the trick is to use firm tomatoes, and fry them in a hot pan. This way the outside “crust” will be nice and crunchy.


Fried Heirloom Tomatoes
2 firm heirloom tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 cup flour
1/2 tbsp. dried basil
1/2 tbsp. dried rosemary
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. onion powder
2 eggs, whisked
1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
3 tbsp. olive oil
fresh grated parmesan cheese
fresh basil




Add olive oil to pan and heat on high.

Mix flour, basil, rosemary, garlic powder, onion powder in a bowl.

Whisk eggs in a second bowl.

Add Panko breadcrumbs to a third bowl.

Prepare tomatoes by lightly salting slices, coating in flour, dipping in egg, and covering in breadcrumbs.


Add slices to pan, fry until golden brown on first side, then flip.

Remove slices, let oil absorb on a paper towel covered plate.


Top with fresh grated parmesan cheese, fresh basil, and serve!


Party Time With Athens Mini Fillo Shells!!

A fillo shell is a simple, flaky, bite- sized vessel that is neither savory nor sweet. Fully baked with a perfect crunch, the fillo shells can be absolutely priceless in comparison to working with thin sheets of fillo dough. The tedious process also includes adding butter to the dough sheets- definitely unwanted calories! Mini fillo shells are an easy button time saver without losing quality, crispness or taste!


My favorite ready made shells are Athens mini fillo shells! With just two or three ingredients, you can make the most amazing party appetizers or desserts! As Athens puts it, “Just fill ’em!” The first time I ever used Athens mini fillo shells I filled them with goat cheese and caramelized onions and popped them in the toaster oven for 10 minutes! Everybody loved them!

Here are a few of my easy and delicious mini fillo shell recipes!


Chocolate Chip Cannoli

1 package Athens mini fillo shells, contains 15 shells
1/2 cup ricotta
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tbsp. cinnamon
1 tbsp. sugar
1/4 cup mini or full size chocolate chips (1/2 for filling and 1/2 for topping)

Whip all ingredients, except chocolate chips until light and fluffy.
Fold in 1/2 chocolate chips.
Fill shells and top with extra chocolate chips


Ham and Goat Cheese

1 package Athens mini fillo shells, contains 15 shells
Crumbled goat cheese
Your favorite cooked ham, diced
Chopped parsely for garnish

Carefully fill shells with ham and goat cheese.
Bake or broil in toaster oven for 7-10 mins. until cheese melts.
Top with chopped parsley.


Pulled Pork Taco

1 package Athens mini fillo shells, contains 15 shells
1/3 cup pulled pork (Slow cook pork shoulder roast all day seasoned with chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, or your favorite taco seasoning. Definitely can be made the day before and refrigerated.)
1 small tomato, chopped
1 tbsp. Mexican cheese blend
cilantro for garnish
sour cream, optional

To serve warm, carefully fill shells with all ingredients, except sour cream or cilantro.
Bake or broil in toaster oven 7-10 mins. until cheese is melted.
Top with sour cream and cilantro.

To serve cold, fill shells with all ingredients.


All opinions expressed belong to Parmesan Princess! I seriously love Athens mini fillo shells and would love to share more easy and delicious small bite recipes with you soon!



Connect with Athens Foods on Facebook for even more mini fillo recipes!

Greek Quinoa Salad!

Ready for the long weekend? Memorial Day picnics require the perfect picnic sides. Cold side salads are always a hit. One of my favorites is a Greek quinoa salad! A healthy, quick and easy salad bursting with the traditional and refreshing Greek flavors we love.


Tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, feta cheese, and a whole lotta squeezed lemon!

This heathy Greek quinoa salad can be served alone or alongside grilled favorites! No guilt and totally healthy, superfood quinoa is a protein powerhouse. Give this salad a try!


Greek Quinoa Salad

1-1/2 cups quinoa
3 cups water
3/4 cup tomatoes, chopped
3/4 cup cucumber, chopped
1 small/medium red onion, chopped
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
4 lemons, squeezed
Fresh parsley, chopped

Rinse quinoa in a strainer to remove any sediment.

In a medium saucepan, add water and quinoa.

Being to a boil and summer for 12-18 minutes or until quinoa is soft but still firm to the bite.

Drain quinoa well and cool.

Once the quinoa is cool, add all other ingredients to a large mixing bowl.

Squeeze lemon juice and add oregano, salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with fresh parsley and/or chop some and throw it in.



Easy Cinco de Mayo Cheese Ball!

Think of an inside-out jalapeño popper. That’s pretty much the taste of this delicious and super easy cheese ball! Cinco de Mayo perfection, but it’s also the perfect summer party appetizer! Save and file this one for a summer fiesta! Pairs really well with tequila ; )


Cinco de Mayo Cheese Ball
(Makes one cheese ball feeds 8-10 as an appetizer)


1 -8 oz. package of Cream Cheese, softened
1- 2 cup package shredded Mexican cheese
2 – jalapeño peppers, chopped (may substitute bell peppers or mild hot peppers to reach desired heat level)
1 large tomato, chopped
1 small onions, chopped
2 tbsp. chili powder
1 tbsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. cumin
salt and pepper to taste
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/3 cup finely chopped cilantro


Soften the package of cream cheese either by setting on the counter at room temperature for 30 mins or by placing cream cheese in a bowl of hot water for 10 mins.

Remove cream cheese from package and place in a mixing bowl.


Add shredded cheese and mix well.

Gently stir in peppers, tomatoes, onions, chili powder, cayenne pepper, cumin, salt and pepper.

Mold cheese mixture into a ball. It will be a little mushy.


Mix garlic and cilantro together and place on a flat plate.

Roll the cheese ball in the chopped garlic cilantro mixture to coat.


Wrap cheese ball in plastic wrap and refrigerate for two hours.



Vegetable Lemon Garlic Quinoa!

Spring has Sprung!


Here in Western PA we are looking at warmer temperatures and hopefully no more snow!!! I look forward to cooking with Spring vegetables and making beautiful, colorful, healthy dishes. I think this was the longest winer vegetable season ever!

Ready for the pool?
Bathing Suits in less than 2 months! What A great reason to fill our bellies with healthy foods!

Quinoa is a favorite superfood, protein-packed seed grown in the Andes Mountains in South America. Packed with essential amino acids, quinoa is essential to many vegetarian and vegan diets. I often substitute quinoa for rice or pasta for an extra healthy dish!


Butternut Squash And Tomato Lemon Garlic Quinoa
1 cup quinoa
1-1/2 cup water
2 tbsp. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups butternut squash, chopped
1 cup tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup parsley
1 lemon squeezed

Boil quinoa in water according to directions.

Meanwhile, Heat olive oil in a large pan.

Add garlic and cook until golden and softened (3-5mins)

Add butternut squash, tomatoes, garlic and cook until heated through.


Add drained quinoa.

Top with salt and pepper and stir.
Throw in parsley and squeezed lemon.

Mix well and serve!




Parmesan Crusted Artichoke Hearts !

Artichokes, when they are in season, are one of my favorite “vegetables” to prepare. The artichoke is actually the flower’s bud and is a great source of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin K, potassium, iron, and calcium!


One of our traditonal Italian family recipes is to stuff the artichoke leaves with a breadcrumb butter mixture. To eat, pluck the leaves and pull through your teeth to get a meaty, buttery, breadcrumby bite! Yum!

Don’t count out the great flavor of the artichoke hearts. Typically frozen or canned, artichoke hearts can be a pizza topping or a delicious casserole. Here is one of our favorites!


Parmesan Crusted Artichoke Hearts
(Serves 8-10 as a side dish)

2 lbs. frozen artichoke hearts, thawed (OR 2 cans artichoke hearts, drained)
3 tbsp. olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp. fresh basil
1/4 tsp. Sriracha dry seasoning (or red pepper flakes)
Salt/Pepper to taste
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/3 cup chicken broth
Brown Butter Breadcrumbs
3 tbsp. butter
1/2 cup bread crumbs


Heat olive oil in a large, deep frying pan, add garlic until softened and golden.

Add the artichoke hearts and cook until browned on edges.


Add basil, dry seasoning, salt, and pepper.

Cook 3-5 minutes stirring to blend together.

Add chicken broth and simmer.

Meanwhile melt butter in a small saucepan.

Add breadcrumbs until golden brown.


Transfer artichokes to a shallow baking dish and top with breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese.

Broil on high on top rack until golden brown.



Fontina Mac and Cheese! Winter Warmup Comfort Food!

Baby it’s cold outside!! We just cannot get warm here in Western PA with temps dipping into the teens and single digits. Winter comfort food to the rescue!

Why not a classic mac and cheese? Imagine creamy melted fontina covered noodles, a crunchy Parmesan bread crumb topping, all flavorfully finished with a hidden kick of Sriracha, cayenne pepper, and paprika.

This quick and easy recipe is the perfect dinner or side dish! Surprise your family with a homemade classic!


Fontina Mac and Cheese
Makes 10-12 side servings or 6 dinner portions(9X13baking dish)


1 lb. of your favorite shells or macaroni noodles
1/2 cup – 1 stick of butter
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup Sriracha sauce
1/2 tbsp. Cayenne pepper
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
4 cups fontina cheese
1 cup Parmesan cheese + 1 cup for topping
2 cups plain Panko breadcrumbs
1 tbsp. Paprika


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium saucepan, melt butter and whisk in flour to make a roux. (Thickening agent when making a sauce)

Add sriracha, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper.

Do not stop whisking. When thick and well mixed, add milk and cream.


Continuously whisk 10-15 more minutes – it will bubble and become thicker.

Remove from heat and add fontina cheese and 1 cup of Parmesan cheese.
Mix well and blend until smooth.

Meanwhile, boil pasta until al dente and drain.

Mix cooked pasta with the cheese sauce.

Pour cheese noodles into a deep baking dish.


Cover the cheese noodles with the breadcrumbs and an extra 1 cup Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle with paprika.

Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake 30 minutes.

Remove foil and bake for an additional 15-30 minutes or until golden brown.




Broccoli and Cauliflower Fontina Au Gratin With A Kick!

I tried a new side dish this Thanksgiving!
I still served the roasted marshmallow candied sweet potato casserole…

And roasted garlic mashed potatoes…

BUT with a golden bread crumb crust, creamy cheesy bites, and a Sriracha kick, the broccoli and cauliflower au gratin was the crowd favorite!!


I am a huge fontina cheese fan because of its creamy meltability and mild cheese flavor. Any chance I get to create a creamy, cheesy dish, fontina is my first choice!
We like a little bite to our food so adding a few squeezes of Sriracha added a slight kick without an overwhelming hot sauce presence.

I am making this side dish again for Christmas! You should try it! It’s quick and easy.


Broccoli and Cauliflower Fontina Au Gratin


2- 1 lb. bags frozen cauliflower florets or 2 lbs. fresh cauliflower, trimmed and chopped

1- 1 lb. bag frozen broccoli florets or 1 lb. fresh broccoli, trimmed and chopped

1 cup grated fontina cheese

1 cup whole milk

1 cup heavy cream

2 tbsp. Olive oil and a little to coat the baking dish

3-5 squeezes of Sriracha depending on desired heat level (approx. 2 tbsp.)

1 Tbsp. Paprika

1 cup Panko Breadcrumbs

1 cup fresh grated Parmesan Cheese,1/2 cup to melt and 1/2 cup for topping.


Boil cauliflower in a stock pot
of rapidly boiling water until tender approximately 10 minutes.

Remove cauliflower from water with a slotted spoon.

Add broccoli and boil until tender approximately 4-5 minutes.

Drain and transfer broccoli and cauliflower to an olive oil coated baking dish.

In a saucepan, add milk and cream and heat on medium flame.

Add fontina cheese and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and whisk while heating. Whisk continuously until melted, creamy, and smooth.

Remove from heat and pour over broccoli and cauliflower in the baking dish.

Squeeze Sriracha on top in a zig zag motion.

In a small bowl, mix together bread crumbs, 1 tbsp. Olive Oil, paprika, and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese.

Sprinkle evenly over the vegetables.

Bake 30-40 minutes until crumbs are golden brown and the casserole is bubbling.