Dinner

Spicy Eggs with Peperoncini Piccanti

(This post is sponsored by President’s Choice.  I used their PC Black Label Peperoncini Piccanti to make these Spicy Eggs)

If you know me, spicy eggs are my favourite!  I can eat them for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. I love eggs! But this post isn’t about my love of eggs but of a recipe I created just for you using this amazing #PCBlackLabel Peperoncini Picante. The heat in these chili’s is unbelievably hot and complements this egg dish superbly.

When #PresidentsChoice asked me to partner with them for their #PCBlackLabel products, I knew it would be a good fit as I love to try new products and incorporate them into new recipes.  It allows me to be CREATIVE and it’s always fun to #PlayWithYourFood!

As I opened the PC Black Label black box, I was delighted to see Caponata Eggplant Antipasto and Peperoncini Chopped Hot Chili Peppers.  I was immediately drawn to the Peperoncicni Piccanti as I love chili peppers.

Spicy Eggs with Peperoncini Piccanti

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large potato, diced
  • 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tblsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp raw sugar
  • 1 small shallot, diced
  • 1 cup spinach, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 tblsp PC Black Label Peperoncini Piccanti Chopped Chili Peppers in Oil
  •  1 tblsp heavy cream
  • 2-3 large eggs, organic or farm fresh, if possible
  • salt and pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. In a large skillet add the olive oil, cumin seeds and diced potatoes and cook for 10 minutes on medium heat or until cooked through.
  2. Add the raw sugar and shallots and cook 5 more minutes.
  3. Lower the heat and add the spinach, crushed garlic clove,  PC Black Label Peperoncini Piccanti Chopped Chili Peppers in Oil and heavy cream. Cook for 2 minutes and mix thoroughly.
  4. Lower the heat to the minimum setting and spread the mixture evenly in the pan, creating 2-3 wells or indents for the eggs.
  5. Crack the eggs into the indents and cover the pan with the lid. Poach the eggs on low heat for 3-4 minutes until the eggs are cooked though but the yolks are still runny. Transfer to a plate and enjoy!


Spinach and Goat Cheese Tart with a Quinoa Crust *gluten-free 

I love this tart! It’s easy, simple and delicious.  And did I mention it’s vegetarian?

I’ll be honest, I was skeptical of my 6 year old son liking this tart due to the ‘green spinach’ layer under all that goat cheese but he devoured it for dinner alongside a vegetable soup. Yay!

It’s relatively easy if you follow my steps below and the pastry is quick and you can press it into the tart pan without having to fuss about rolling it out.  Easy peasy weeknight dinner sorted, great for meatless Mondays!

It’s the perfect main course served with a nice side salad or sliced into small squares or wedges and served as appetizers.
I hope you’ll enjoy it!

*And don’t forget, if you make this tart using my recipe below, please tag it #hautesucre on your social media accounts as I would love to see it!😊

Spinach and Goat Cheese Tart with a Quinoa Crust Recipe

Ingredients:

Crust:

1 cup quinoa flour

3/4 cup all purpose flour (or gluten-free flour)

3/4 cup cold butter, chopped

3-4 tablespoons cold water

1 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

1 4×14 tart pan with a removable bottom 

Method:

1. Combine all the ingredients into a small food processor and pulse into a dough has formed.

2. Roll onto a flour surface or press the dough into a tart pan with a removable bottom. Set aside.

3. Preheat oven to 425°F

Filling:

Ingredients:

2 cups baby spinach

3 garlic cloves

1 large egg

1/4 cup cream

Salt

Pepper

Fresh thyme

200 grams fresh goat’s cheese

*Dried shallots (optional garnish or add to filling)

Method:

1. In a small food processor, add the spinach, garlic, egg and cream.  Pulse until the spinach breaks down and the egg is combined. Add the salt, pepper and fresh thyme.

2. Pour the filling into the prepared crust and smooth evenly.

3. Crumble the goat cheese over top the filling covering completely.

4. Bake for 30 minutes.

5. Remove and let cool 15 minute before cutting.

Enjoy!😊

Austin, Texas 

Recently, I had the amazing opportunity to visit Austin, Texas in partnership with Visit The USA, Official USA Travel Guide to American Holidays.

I had heard and researched great things about Austin’s food and music scene snd was really excited to visit as it would be my first time visiting Texas. I had little or no idea what to expect.

I flew into Austin on the first of September, expecting a cool, summer-is-almost over feel, but boy was I wrong! Upon leaving the airport, I was welcomed with a hot breeze, cowboy boots, and sweet southern music! The people were so friendly and helpful in directing me to my hotel downtown.

We checked into the Hilton Austin on 4th Street, close to the hustle and bustle of downtown Austin.

We enjoyed some drinks whilst admiring the city views from the 25th floor lounge before heading out for the night.

We had dinner reservations at the highly acclaimed Uchiko,  which serves upscale Japanese farmhouse cuisine. We had tried various menu items and the desserts were out of this world!

As a pastry chef, I enjoyed them immensely and appreciated the various techniques that were showcased. Overall, the service and food were excellent and the ambiance was lovely.

The following day, we had brunch at the Magnolia Cafe, a classic 24 hour eatery which serves Southwestern/Mexican food.  My particular favourites were the migas, huevos rancheros, sweet hibiscus ice teas and the yummy grapefruit mimosas. This place was full of locals and definitely a classic Austin eatery with good eats!

After brunch, we headed out to do some shopping on South Congress Avenue, a favourite spot among tourists. We visited some interesting eclectic shops filled with a wide vaiety from vintage props to old fashioned candies to Mexican dolls.

After purchasing some cool souvenirs and candy, we headed out in search of tacos for lunch.

I had heard about the infamous Torchy’s Tacos and couldn’t wait to try them.  My favorites included the Baja Shrimp and the Democrat!  What a fun place!

We continued shopping along the South Congress strip after brunch stopping in some very nice retail clothing shops when all of a sudden, it started to storm like crazy.  That’s Austin weather for you, sunny one minute and hailing rain the next!

We ran for cover and ducked into a cute coffee shop called Mañana, a great little shop with a cozy atmosphere and very chic vibe. I tried some silky cortados with strawberry Macarons. Yum! I’m so happy that we stumbled upon it!

After a full day of walking under the Texan sun, we headed back to the hotel to relax and enjoy some snacks and cocktails in the Hilton hotel’s lounge.

Dinner was at the infamous Barley Swine headed by Chef Bryce (he was named Food & Wine’s best chef in 2010.) We were seated at the Chef’s table with a great view of the kitchen. It was a delight to watch the magic of the kitchen happen right before our eyes. Beautiful plates of food being served one course after the other.

Some of my favourites included the Hatch chile cheese pretzel, Akaushi Ribeye with corn pudding and bone marrow marrow hash as well as dessert; the lime mallow sorbet with cucamelon and olive oil cake and the Mango Koji rice pudding. A not to be missed restaurant!

After dinner, we headed back to the hotel and crossed through the infamous 6th Street in downtown Austin.  The hustle and bustle of the bars, clubs and loud music keeps this street alive until the wee hours of the morning. Popular amongst the students from University of Texas and tourists alike.

We reached our destination Voodoo Doughnuts, a 24 hour bakeshop. I finally had the chance to try these colourful, creative and quirky doughnuts and they did not disappoint!

The next day we walked our way around the city and explored Lady Bird Lake where we walked along the trail to the boardwalk. The lake is beautiful and it’s a great place where locals go to workout, kayak or stroll.

After a lovely walk through the city and visiting the Texas State Capitol, we ventured over to Second Bar & Kitchen for some amazing cocktails paired with a burger, fried chicken and biscuits for lunch. One of my favourite spots.

After lunch, we stopped into Con’ Olio Oils & Vinegars,  a lovely local foodie shop in downtown Austin selling a wide range of high quality olive oils and balsamic vinegars. We learned about how they are made and had an opportunity to do a tasting. We puchased a few lovely flavours such as Grapefruit balsamic and South African Chili oil. Can’t wait to pair them with my meals.

A great place to relax and grab a drink is the historical Moonshine Patio Bar serving classic American food and drinks. With an equally delicious cocktail menu, it’s hard not to find a favourite. I’m still dreaming and missing this Bourbon Renewal!🍹❤ The Bourbon Renewal quickly became my favourite drink which is made with Rye, créme de cassis, lemon and Angostura! Yum!😋

Moonshine Patio Bar also serve a tasty buffet style brunch on Sundays worth checking out, but get there early as the line ups can be very long (mostly filled with locals, they know good food!)

Another dinner restaurant worth mentioning is Emmer & Rye by Chef Kevin Fink on the ever popular Rainey St. We chose this restaurant as Chef Fink was named Best Chef of 2016 by Food & Wine.

Dishes are served small plate and dimsum style. Truly farm to table cuisine worth sharing that showcases up to 15 different kinds of grains milled in their kitchen, which demonstrates Chef Fink’s  passion for incorporating local ingredients into his cuisine.

For dessert, I tried the cocoa bean ice cream with red fife cookies. A great twist on a classic with this hearty grain, a nice highlight dessert on my trip.

Further down Rainey Street there are more bars and food trucks that are worth checking out for quick fare ranging from Grilled Cheese to Indian to Greek. It’s a really lively street lined with bars and lounges, similar to 6th Street but with a slightly older vibe (post graduate crowd).

Another cafe that is hip and upcoming is Launderette, which is a converted gas station serving gourmet new American fare such as Fried chicken and Asparagus eggs Benny.  The food was hearty and delicious with another great cocktail list, including the Rose Grapefruit cocktail which was the perfect accompaniment to the hot weather.

Not to be missed and truly Texan is the BBQ scene! While there are plenty of places to choose from,  I had the pleasure of trying La Barbecue and it did not disappoint but be prepared to wait as there are long wait times, but it’s worth it!

Be sure to try the Valrhona 70% chocolate gelato from Gelateria Gemelli next door. It’s the perfect afternoon treat!

Austin was a great experience for a city girl like me. The food scene is amazing and the city is really up and coming. There is new construction everywhere and you can feel the tech boom moving in.

It has a great vibe and I highly recommend visiting it, especially if you’re into the music scene. There are many amazing music festivals that I would love to catch on my next trip, until next time!

A special thank you to Visit The USA and Visit Austin for this opportunity and the hospitable staff at the Hilton Austin for a great stay.

Summer Raspberry Cake

Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes

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Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes
(Makes 12)

Ingredients:

Wet Ingredients:

1 zucchini, shredded
Pinch of fleur de sel (sea salt)
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup plain 2% yogurt

Dry Ingredients:

1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp ground vanilla bean (or extract)
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of fleur de sel (sea salt)

1/2 cup Guittard super cookie chips or any other dark chocolate,  chopped

Method:

Preheat oven to 350°F, prepare 12 baking cups or cupcake liners

1. In a large bowl, combine all the wet ingredients and whisk well.

2. Slowly incorporate dry ingredients and mix slowly, careful to not create any air bubbles.

3. Add the chocolate chips or chopped chocolate and gently fold into the batter.

4. Measure 1/4 cup of batter into each baking cup for 12.

5. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove and let completely cool.

6. Dust with powdered sugar or top with your favourite buttercream.
Enjoy!

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Aquafaba Meringue:

1/2 cup of strained chickpea water (from a can)
3/4 cup powdered sugar
Pinch of salt
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp ground vanilla bean

1. In a stand mixer, whisk the aquafaba, salt and cream of tartar on medium until frothy.

2. Slowly add the powdered sugar and continue mixing on high speed until you reach a meringue consistency, approximately 15 minutes.

3.Add the vanilla and whisk until combined.

4. Pipe or spoon the meringue over the tops of the cooled cupcakes.
Enjoy!

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Blueberry and Lemon Muffins

 

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Lemon + Blueberry Muffins Recipe:

Wet Ingredients:

1 large egg
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup Greek yogurt
Zest of 1 lemon or 1 clementine
1 tsp lemon extract
Pinch of ground vanilla bean or 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract

Dry Ingredients:

1 1/4 cup flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp fleur-de-sel (or kosher salt)
Pinch of baking soda
1 cup blueberries

Preheat oven to 350°F and line muffin tin with 9 liners.

1. Whisk wet ingredients well until the batter has doubled in volume.

2. Slowly fold in the dry ingredients and then the blueberries.

3. Divide amongst your baking cup liners and sprinkle the tops with raw sugar.

Bake at 350°F for 20 min.

Let cool + serve or serve warm with a dusting of icing sugar and some clotted cream and jam.

Havarti Cheese Puff Pastry Sticks

The lovely folks at Arla Dofino contacted me to create a delicious holiday recipe and how could I refuse given its for one of my favorite cheeses, Havarti!

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I decided to go with a classic appetizer that’s easy to eat and fun to serve! I tried the Havarti Inferno Cheese with Chipotle and Habanero.  If you follow my posts on Instagram, then you know my love of spice.  This cheese is the perfect balance of creamy and delicious with a kick of heat! Yum!

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Puff pastry is easy entertaining and you can have these Havarti Cheese twists ready in no time. In addition to the cheese, I also added my favourite fresh herb, thyme and my current favourite spice, nigella seeds.  Nigella seeds are a mysterious spice with a crunchy texture and with a flavour of toasted onions.  They’re often used in Indian cooking and adorn the tops of flatbreads such as naan. If you cannot find them, you can leave them out and replace with black sesame seeds, but they’re well worth getting and really highlight the flavour profile of these cheeses.

Havarti Cheese Puff Pastry Sticks Recipe
Makes approximately 24 sticks

Ingredients:
2 sheets puff pastry, thawed
300 grams Havarti Cheese (any variety) I used a blend of Creamy and Inferno
6 sprigs fresh thyme
Sea salt
Fresh cracked pepper
Nigella seeds or black sesame seeds
Egg wash (1 beaten egg + 2 tblsp water)

Instructions:

Preheat the oven at 425°F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment or silpat mats.

1. On a dusted surface, roll out 1 sheet of puff pastry at a time and brush with egg wash.

2. Sprinkle the cheese over top evenly and gently

3. Sprinkle the fresh thyme, salt and pepper on top of the cheese.

4. With a sharp knife or kitchen scissors, cut 12 puff pastry strips.

5. Roll each strip gently starting from the top and overlapping to create a spiraled strip. Place on baking sheet and repeat with remaining strips.

6. Once you have all of your twists ready, brush them gently with egg wash and sprinkle the nigella seeds over top. You can add more salt and pepper if you’d like.

7. Bake at 425°F for 15- 20 minutes until golden.

Let cool before serving. Enjoy!

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Tips for Hosting a Successful Dinner Party

I recently held a backyard bbq dinner party to celebrate the changing of the seasons in partnership with Cascade Platinum #sparklingclean.

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I had the opportunity to put the product to the test and I must say, I’m impressed! Not only did it remove the hard, cooked on food residue, it left all of my dishes sparking clean!

In order to host a successful dinner party, there are a few rules that are important to follow in my repertoire.  I’ve hosted numerous parties, whether they’re fancy affairs or simple gatherings, it all boils down to a few essential steps and making sure you’re always prepared.  I share my views with fellow Chef, Michael Smith who offers a few essential entertaining tips below:

1. Spend Time To Save Time:
Prep as much as you can in advance, from setting the table to prepping food. This allows you      to spend more time with your guests entertaining, instead of being in the kitchen.

2. Make Your Guests Feel Special:
It’s important to go the extra mile in making your guests feel special.  I love to decorate the house with fresh flowers, music, lovely table setting and sparkling dishes.

3. Clean As You Go:
While cooking, load the dishwasher so that you don’t have to do all the clean up after. This saves time and with Cascade Platinum, you don’t need to worry about pre-rinsing.

4. Share The Work:
Lighten the load and enlist the help of your guests if possible, this will help ensure the party runs smoothly between courses.

5. Grand Finale:
End the evening with a bang! Perhaps with a spectacular dessert, sparkling Champagne or a little gift for your guests, making the night memorable.

Here are a few highlights from our delicious backyard bbq dinner party. I’m so happy that my cleanup was made easy with the help of Cascade!

Rhubarb Lemonade:
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Marinated Garlic and Rosemary Lamb:
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Roasted Potatoes:
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Papaya Chicken with Roasted Cashews:
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Roasted Vegetables:
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Mexican Corn:
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Fire Grilled Jumbo Shrimps with Cilantro and Chipotle:
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Fresh Feta Salad:
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Mint and Cilantro Gremolata:
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*This post was sponsored by Cascade. All opinions are my own.

Financiers (Almond Tea Cakes with Fig Jam)

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Recently, I was asked to create a recipe on behalf of Bonne Maman using their Fig Jam.  Many of you may know them by their familiar jam jars with the checkered lids.  The first thing that popped into my mind was Financiers. These delicious golden gems pair filled with this delectable jam served with tea. For as long as I can remember, I have enjoyed eating Bonne Maman jams with my morning baguette and salted butter.  It’s such a treat!  Just one bite transports me back to France.
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For decades, Bonne Maman has created special preserves following traditional and cherished recipes. Today, Bonne Maman continues shaping the sweetest moments by producing their preserves in France using all natural ingredients with no artificial colorings, no additives or preservatives.
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The recipe for Financiers is straightforward and requires little fuss or expertise.  As these are petit fours, you can be creative with your choice of moulds or filings.  I have used rectangular financier mounds,  savarin ring mounds as well as mini cupcake liners.  You can also use a greased mini or standard muffin tin for ease. For best results, the batter must be prepared hours in advance or best if left rested overnight in the refrigerator.

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Recipe: Financiers (Almond Tea Cakes with Fig Jam)

Makes approx 12-15 mini cakes

Ingredients:

3/4 cup unsalted butter

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup ground almonds

3/4 cup egg whites (from 6 large eggs)

2/3 cup all purpose flour

1/2 vanilla bean scraped or 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

2 drops of almond extract

1 cup Bonne Maman Fig Jam

Mini baking moulds

Method:

Brown Butter:

In a medium sized saucepan, bring the butter to a gentle boil until it turns a light golden brown. Take it off the heat and set aside to cool. Strain the browned butter into a small bowl.

Preparing the Financier Batter:

  1.  In a large saucepan mix together the sugar, ground almonds and egg whites. Place the pan over low heat and stir for approximately 2 minutes until it’s heated through and the colour has changed slightly to white without overcooking the egg whites.
  2.  Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla, almond extract and the flour. Mix thoroughly and slowly incorporate the brown butter into the batter with a whisk.
  3.  Transfer the batter to a bowl and tightly seal with cling wrap.
  4.  Refrigerate for approximately 2 hours or overnight to allow the batter to rest and the flavors to infuse.

Baking:

  1.  Preheat oven to 410°F and if you are using silicone bake ware, you do not need to butter them. If you are using metal molds or a cupcake tin, butter the insides and dust the interior with flour, tapping out the excess.
  2.  Remove the batter from the fridge and place the contents into a large piping bag or a cookie scoop for even results and ease of preparation.
  3.  Measure 1 cup of the Bonne Maman Fig Jam and set aside until you’re ready to use.
  4. Fill the bottom of each cavity with an equal portion of the Financier batter.
  5. Pipe or scoop a thin even layer of the fig jam followed by a layer of the Financier batter.
  6. Set the molds on a large baking sheet and bake for approximately 15 minutes or until the Financiers are golden brown and cooked through.
  7. On a large sheet of parchment invert the molds and transfer them to a cooling rack.

Serve with your favorite cup of tea and enjoy!
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*Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Bonne Maman. I received a free sample of the product for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own.

Sweet Ricotta Fritters with Brie Cheese and Cara Cara Oranges

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Fritters! Who doesn’t love a fresh and piping hot donut, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar on a cold day! Yum!

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If you have tried a version of fritters made with ricotta, then you’re in for a real decadent. I decided to up the ante and play with the flavours by adding Cara Cara oranges which are currently in season and some velvety Castello Brie cheese.
It’s a sinfully delicious combination, one that will have you and your guests hurrying to finish your meal so that you can share these after dinner treats.
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The fritters are best served immediately after they’re fried (as is usually the case with homemade fritters).  The addition of the Brie cheese and oranges make them extra soft, they also pair well with gelato or a silky crème anglaise sauce.
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These serve a small crowd as they make approximately 15-18 fritters, I used a small cookie scoop for measure.  If you cannot find Cara Cara Oranges, you can substitute it with a another variety of sweet oranges or clementines. Be careful when working with hot oil and melting cheese, these don’t take very long to cook and you’re looking for a nice golden brown colour and a quick toss in the cinnamon sugar.  Enjoy!
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Sweet Ricotta Fritters with Brie Cheese and Cara Cara Oranges

45g all purpose flour
26g raw sugar
1 Cara Cara orange, (just the zest + 2 tblsp juice)
145g (3/4 cup) full fat Ricotta cheese
1 extra large egg
40g Castello Brie Cheese, diced (rind removed)
Pinch of kosher salt
Pinch of baking powder
Pinch of vanilla bean powder or (3 drops of vanilla extract)
Vegetable oil for frying

Cinnamon Sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Method

1. In a large bowl, mix the ricotta and the egg until combined. Slowly add the remaining ingredients and set aside while you get your deep fryer or pot of oil ready.

2. Test the oil by dropping a spoonful of the batter in, it should float to the top and you should see tiny bubbles around it. Fry for approx 2 minutes or until golden.

3.Repeat with the remaining batter using a small cookie scoop measure for the remaing fritters, taking care not to overcrowd the pot. Fry and drain on paper towels and quickly toss into a bowl with sugar/cinnamon and serve immediately. Enjoy!

*Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Castello Cheese. I received a free sample of the product for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own.