Friday, December 28, 2012

Roasted Squash and Goat Cheese Sandwich

We regularly make squash enchiladas this time of year but one night a few weeks ago, we had a delicious loaf of bread and decided to make squash and goat cheese sandwiches instead.  The marinade for this squash needs to become part of your rotation; Smitten Kitchen is truly a genius with the squash marinades.  Serve with your favorite chips or coleslaw and you will have a truly special meal.


Ingredients (4 sandwiches)

1 acorn squash
1/2 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
8 slices toast
2 cups arugula
1/2 cup goat cheese

1. Rinse acorn squash.  Dry thoroughly with a paper towel.
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
3. Cut squash in half and remove seeds.  Chop into 1 inch thick slices
4. Place squash on a cookie sheet and use two tablespoons of the olive oil to coat the squash.  Let cook 25 minutes in the oven.
5. Combine the rest of the olive oil, garlic cloves, lime juice, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper in a small dish.  Whisk to combine.
6. When squash is done, remove from oven and cut away skin.
7. Place squash meat in a bowl and add lime juice dressing, toss to coat.
8. Toast bread until nicely brown in a toaster.
9. Remove from toaster and spoon equal amounts of squash on the bread.  Top with arugula and goat cheese.
10. Serve and enjoy!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Spinach, Bacon & Feta Potato Frittata

This is a frittata for people that don't like a lot of egg in their frittata.  Seriously I love eating eggs in a lot of things, but not when I'm trying to enjoy other flavors like spinach, bacon, feta and onion.  The egg should be what holds the dish together, not the defining ingredient.  Deb Perelman from Smitten Kitchen has a great basic frittata so I used the base as the foundation for this dish.  Feel free to swap arugula for spinach and goat cheese for feta, the options are endless!



Ingredients (makes a 9'' round frittata)

1 lb small red or new potatoes, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 slices bacon (more if you desire)
1 small red onion, diced
1 cup chopped spinach (from about 2 cups loose)
1/2 cup feta cheese
2 eggs

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Toss sliced potatoes with olive oil and lay them evenly on a cookie sheet
3. Let cook about 25 minutes, turning over with a spatula about halfway through.
4. In a cast iron or other skillet, cook bacon slices until crispy.
5. Remove bacon to a plate lined with paper towels.
6. In the same skillet, add red onion and look about 4-5 minutes until lightly caramelized.  Then remove from heat.
7. Meanwhile chop bacon and set aside.
8. In a bowl, toss bacon, spinach, onions, and potatoes until mixed well.  Add feta and mix again to incorporate.
9. Return back to the skillet and spread evenly in the pan.
10. Whisk eggs together and evenly pour over the mixture in the pan.
11. Cook in the oven at 400 degrees until top is turning brown, about 15-20 minutes.
12. Carefully remove from the oven and serve!


Friday, December 21, 2012

Dutch Oven Bread - Perfected!

We have a few variations on this recipe, but I have finally perfected my go to bread recipe.  Combining my two favorite methods, the end product is so delicious it will be gobbled up in minutes so you might as well make two loaves!


Ingredients

1 teaspoon rapid rise yeast
1 teaspoon white sugar
1/2 cup warm water
3 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups warm water

1. In a small bowl combine yeast, sugar and 1/2 cup warm water.  Let sit until yeast is blooming, about 5 minutes.
2. In a large bowl combine flour and salt and whisk to incorporate and mix.
3. Add yeast mixture and 1 cup of warm water to the flour mixture.  Let sit 30 seconds.  Stir with a wooden spoon until combined.
4. If still dry, add the last 1/2 cup water and stir to combine.
5. Lightly dust a clean surface with flour.  Kneed the dough for a minute or two to combine, return to the bowl and let rest until it doubles in size, about 2 hours.
6. When ready to cook, preheat oven to 450 degrees.
7. When preheated, put dutch oven in the oven and set timer for 30 minutes.
8. Remove dough from your bowl and form into shape you want to cook.  Let sit on lightly floured counter.
9. After 30 minutes, CAREFULLY remove dutch oven after 30 minutes and put dough in, do not oil or anything!  Be carefully putting the dough in, the dutch oven is extremely hot.
10. Cook 30 minutes with the dough in the dutch oven.  When you are done and remove it from the oven it will look like the picture.  This bread will be devoured in minutes.


Monday, December 17, 2012

Mushroom Bacon Cheeseburger

Ok, I realize the last three recipes include bacon...what can I say?  Safeway had a buy one, get one on bacon and I couldn't resist!  I've made a lot of burgers in my day, but adding bacon to the ground beef really adds a subtle bacon flavor to this burger.  In addition to cooking the mushrooms in bacon grease, the homemade bun recipe from Smitten Kitchen is well worth the extra time if you have it!



Ingredients (4 burgers)

5 slices bacon (4 for the burger toppings, 1 for the patties)
1 lb ground beef
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
1 small shallot, diced
2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
7 mushrooms thinly sliced
1 sliced tomato
Cheese slices (your favorite!)
Arugula or lettuce
salt/pepper

1. Preheat saute pan to medium high heat, when hot add 4 slices of bacon.  Let cook.
2. While bacon is cooking, take last slice of bacon and chop.  Add to ground beef, shallot, panko, worcestershire sauce and sprinkle with pepper and salt.
3. Mix with your hands and form into burger patties.
4. When bacon is done cooking, put it on a papertowel lined plate.
5. Don't drain the bacon fat, instead add the sliced mushrooms and cook 5 minutes until softened.  Use a slotted spoon to remove.
7. Add burger patties to the pan and cook 7 minutes each side until browned and meat is cooked through.  Top with cheese and let melt.
8. Assemble burgers with buns, patties, mushrooms, bacon, tomato and arugula.
9. Serve with Tim's Cascade potato chips and enjoy your mushroom bacon cheeseburger!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Steak Au Poivre - Anderson Style

There is nothing better than a perfectly cooked steak.  One of our favorite dinners is from David's mom when she makes us steak au poivre (steak with pepper sauce).  It is always our request for birthday dinners.  "Anderson" style means this recipe can be made on a weeknight to provide a quick and delicious meal for you and your family.  Feel free to experiment with side dishes; in this recipe we used roasted butternut squash, parsnip and onion.  



Ingredients (for 2 people)

2 - 5oz filet mignons or other high quality steak
4 strips bacon
salt/pepper (generous amount of pepper!)
1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup beef broth
1 tablespoon butter mixed with 1 tablespoon flour

1. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add oil and butter.
2. Wrap bacon around steaks and secure with a toothpick or two
3. When butter has melted add steaks to the pan, let cook on each side about 7 minutes for a medium steak.
4. When steaks are done, remove to a warm plate and cover with foil
5. Add beef broth to the pan and deglaze the pan for a minute.
6. Add butter/flour mixture and whisk quickly to incorporate and form a gravy.
7. Serve steaks with gravy drizzled over and a large glass of red wine.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Brussels Spout Saute + Asian Noodles

This recipe will make you never want to order Chinese take out ever again.  The inspiration for this recipe goes out to my friend Betsy who informed me that fish sauce and brussels sprouts were an unbeatable combination.  Intrigued I had to try this combination and put my own spin on it adding some homemade yakisoba noodles.  If you don't have times to make your own noodles then please feel free to pick up some noodles from the grocery store (though you might be slightly disappointed).  Betsy, my hat is off to you!


Ingredients

Veggie Saute

1 1/2 pounds brussels sprouts
1/2 pound bok choy
1 medium carrot
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup cold water
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 garlic clove minced
1 tablespoon sriracha sauce (Rooster sauce!)

Noodles

1 1/2 cup flour
2 teaspoons salt
3 eggs

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Trim ends off brussels sprouts and remove outer nasty leaves.  Trim ends off bok choy as well.  Peel carrot and roughly chop.
3. Put veggies on a cookie sheet and lightly toss with vegetable oil.
4. Cook 20 minutes until veggies are crisp.
5. Meanwhile combine fish sauce through sriracha sauce in a glass or small tupperware to create your "dressing".  Set aside.  If you are not making your own noodles, skip to step 12.
6. Meanwhile combine flour and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine.  Add eggs and pulse to combine.  If the dough is wet, add a bit more of flour.
7. Kneed dough for a minute or two on a clean counter and let it rest 30 minutes.
8. Using a pasta roller or rolling ping, roll out dough until 1/4 in thick (setting number 4).
9. Heat a pot of chicken stock (4 cups) on the stove.
10. Take rolled out dough and cut into noodle shape or put dough through spaghetti pasta attachment to cut the noodles.
11. Cook the noodles in the boiling chicken broth for 2-3 minutes in small batches until cooked.  Set aside in a large bowl.
12. Combine noodles and roasted veggies in the large bowl and cover with "dressing".  Toss to evenly coat and serve immediately.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Sunchoke and Leek Soup

Sunchokes are also known as Jerusalem Artichokes.  They have an artichoke flavor but are basically the consistency of a potato.  They are perfect in this soup recipe because they add heft to the soup but also add a unique flavor (slightly different than the traditional potato and leek soup).  This recipes calls for lime juice, but feel free to substitute lemon or balsamic vinegar instead.  Serve with crusty bread and cheese for a complete meal.   Another note about the sunchokes and leeks.  Both can be vegetables that still have dirt on them so feel free to rinse in a cold bath of water before hand to get the grime off.



Ingredients

1 large leek, chopped (up to the light green parts)
2 lbs sunchokes cleaned, peeled (if possible) and finely chopped
1 small yukon gold potato, peeled and chopped
1 quart chicken broth
salt/pepper
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 cup heavy cream

1. In a large dutch oven, heat a few swirls of olive oil.  When hot, add the chopped leeks and stir to coat with olive oil.  Let cook 3-5 minutes until softened. 
2. Set heavy cream out so it can come to room temperature.
3. Add chopped sunchokes to the mixture and stir well.  Cook another 5 minutes until beginning to soften.
4. Add potato and chicken broth, let cook 30 minutes until all veggies are soft and soup is beginning to meld together.
5. Add salt and pepper to taste then add lime juice and let cook another 10 minutes.
6. Remove from heat and wait 5 minutes.  Then stir in heavy cream.  You are trying to prevent the cream from curdling here.
7. Serve in bowls with crusty bread for dipping!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Feta and Green Onion Biscuits

I recently purchased a Costco-sized container of feta and with the expiry date looming I decided to make some feta biscuits to accompany a carrot soup.  These are delicious but require no extra salt (feta is already quite salty).


Ingredients

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup feta cheese crumbles
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon white sugar
2-3 green onions chopped
5 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup of half and half

1. Preheat oven to 425.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a food processor combine flour, feta, baking powder, sugar and onion.  Pulse until combined, about 1 minutes.
3. Add butter and pulse to combine, another minute or so.
4. With the processor running, slowly add the 1/2 and 1/2, if the mixture seems to dry then add a bit more.
5. When ingredients are wet and combined, move mixture to a floured cutting board to shape into desired biscuit shape,
6. Place biscuits on cookie sheet.  Bake about 17 minutes or until golden brown.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Celery, Raisin and Garbanzo Bean Salad

I needed a protein heavy snack one afternoon and put this together based off something I saw on the menu for "Tavolata".  I've never had their version of the salad, but if it is anywhere near as good as the one I made (and chances are it is better) than I can't wait to get there for a dinner.  If you have pickled celery lying around (we did) then I definitely encourage you to swap it in for the regular raw celery.


Ingredients

1 stalk celery (finely diced)
1 15 oz can garbanzo beans
1/2 cup raisins
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lime juice
pinch of salt to taste

1. Combine all ingredients in a small mixing bowl and stir to coat evenly.  Serve immediately or let the flavors marinate for an hour or so.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Entertaining - Hosting an Autumn Harvest Social

This time of year is the perfect time to gather your friends around and celebrate the bounty of the harvest and enjoy the delicious foods that come with Autumn.  This can be your "friends-giving" or just an excuse to get together and carve pumpkins.  These recipes are easy to put together and really show the flavors of the season.  All you need to make this a perfect party are some nice martini glasses and simple plates and flatware.  The rest of the atmosphere will come from the relief of being inside during a cold and rainy day.


Menu for a fabulous party!

Cocktail - Blood and Sand Martini
Appetizer - Sesame Seed Kale Chips
Salad - Beet, Pear and Avocado Salad
Dinner - Shepard's Pie
Dessert - Pumpkin Cookies with Chocolate Frosting


Monday, October 22, 2012

Roasted Apple, Carrot and Shallots

We had the most fantastic summer in memory so the transition to autumn was definitely hard to do.  The first day of bad weather I made this dish and it was so delicious that I was able to make peace with the fact we are changing seasons and that isn't always a bad thing.  I love using season foods and right now, these three items are your best friends.  The apple adds a touch of sweet but doesn't overpower the other flavors.  Serving it with pork chops or chicken is a must!


Ingredients

1 small apple, a Grannysmith is perfect
3 large carrots, peeled and sliced diagonally
1 medium shallot, peeled and sliced
1 tablespoon thyme
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt/pepper to taste
2 slices bacon, cooked and chopped (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 425.
2. Core the apple and dice and place in a medium bowl.
3. Add sliced carrots and shallot to the apples
4. Sprinkle thyme, salt/pepper and then add olive oil and toss veggies to coat with oil.
5. Place on cookie sheet (even on a piece of foil to make clean up easy) and cook in the oven 30 minutes until shallots are starting to brown.
6. Remove and serve with your favorite autumn main dish (this veal piccata would be perfect!)


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Sesame Seed Kale Chips

I've been making kale chips all summer, but I finally decided to brighten up the dish with some of my favorite flavors...tahini and lemon!  These chips are irresistible so be prepared to add this to your weekly grocery list.  You will never look at kale the same way again (and that is a good thing!)



Ingredients

1 lb kale, leaves torn from stems
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon tahini
1 small lemon, juiced
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Pull out two cookie sheets.  You do not need to pre-grease these.
2. Whisk olive oil, tahini, lemon juice and salt together in the bottom of a large bowl.
3. Add kale and use tongs to evenly toss the dressing over the leaves
4. Lay out on cookie sheets so the leaves are not overlapping each other
5. Sprinkle with sesame seeds
6. Cook 20-25 minutes until leaves are dry and crispy.
7. Devour!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Carrot and Coconut Curry Soup

I love soups that don't require a lot of ingredients or a lot of babysitting.  This time of year there are a lot of carrots in the farmer's markets and this recipe is a great way to use them up and have a nutritional and satisfying meal.  This soup is definitely best served with naan or pita bread.



Ingredients

2 pounds of carrots, peeled and topped
1 red onion, cut into big chunks
2 tablespoons curry
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
olive oil
1 15 oz can coconut milk

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. On a rimmed cookie sheet, add carrots, onion and sprinkle with curry, cumin, salt and then drizzle with olive oil.
3. Allow to roast in the oven for about an hour.
4. When done, remove from the oven and place in a large soup pot.  Fill with water until veggies are almost covered.
5. Stir in coconut milk and reheat until bubbling.
6. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup.
7. Serve with naan or pita bread.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Beet, Pear and Avocado Salad

This recipe comes straight from Mollie Katzen's "The Vegetable Dishes I Can't Live Without".  The combination might sound really strange, but everyone I made this for loved it!  Feel free to substitute apple for the pear.



Ingredients 

4 roasted beets (see note below)
1 large pear (just barely ripe)
1 avocado
juice of one lemon
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup goat cheese crumbles
olive oil
salt
pepper

1. Roasted beets are pretty easy.  I tend to always have some ready this time of year due to a plethora of beets in the area.  Remove the tops of the beets, wash well to remove the dirt, dry with a paper towel, place on foil, drizzle with olive oil and create a "packet" with the foil.  The steam will cook them in an 375 degree oven in about 45 minutes.
2. Slice cooled beets and place on serving dish
3. Repeat with pear and avocado
4. Juice lemon over the salad mixture to prevent it from turning brown
5. Sprinkle chopped walnuts and goat cheese over the salad
6. Finally sprinkle a few tablespoons of olive oil over the salad and sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper.
7. Serve as a delicious side dish or autumn lunch with some fresh homemade bread.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Autumn Fruit and Nut Cake + Maple Glaze

My friend Hillary is an awesome baker and she made a version of this cake for a family friend's birthday.  I wanted to make this into a breakfast dish that would really hold up to a good cup of coffee and here is the final result.  This is also co-worker and husband tested and approved!



Ingredients

Cake
1/2 cup raisins + 1 tablespoon flour
2 eggs
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 stick butter, melted
1 3/4 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 medium size pear, cored and diced
1 small carrot, peeled and diced
1 cup chopped walnuts

Glaze
3 tablespoons real maple syrup
1/3 cup powdered sugar

1. Combine raisins and 1 tablespoon flour to coat the raisins.  Set aside.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a springform pan or other cake pan (even a muffin tin will work)
2. Beat 2 eggs on high speed about 1 minute.
3. Add sugar and beat until combined, another 1-2 minutes.
4. Add vanilla and melted butter and beat until combined, about 1 minute.
5. In a separate bowl combine remaining flour, baking soda, spices and whisk together to incorporate.
6. Slowly add to the liquid mixture and stir until combined.  This might seem a little dry, but that is okay because we are adding fruit and carrots.
7. Use a spatula to incorporate pear, carrot, walnuts and raisins.
8. Carefully pour into the greased cake pan and use the spatula to evenly spread the batter in the pan.
9. Cook about 45 minutes until toothpick inserted comes out clean and top is a beautiful even brown.
10. Let cool 15 minutes.
11. While cool, combine maple syrup and powdered sugar to create the maple glaze.  If it needs a bit more liquid, add a touch more of the maple syrup.
12.  Pour over the cooled cake and serve with some coffee.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Poached Salmon Sliders + Curry Aioli

Here is one of those meals that comes to being when the stars align and everything is in it's right place.  Salmon is so quintessentially Northwest that sometimes we take it for granted.  This salmon was given to us by my husband's family, caught in Alaska and immediately frozen to preserve the flavor.  Whether you make this for date night or game day, this will become a classic recipe in your house.  Thanks Hilde and Chi for the salmon!



Ingredients

1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped
1 small shallot, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup beer or wine (whatever you are drinking)
2 cups water
1 lb wild caught salmon fillet, cut into four equal pieces
3/4 cup mayonnaise
 3 tablespoons curry powder
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 small green onion chopped
1-2 cups arugula or other lettuce
8 rolls (we used Macrena bakery olive rolls)

1. Heat large sauce pan over medium heat, add a tablespoon or so of olive oil.
2. When hot, add the carrot, shallot, cumin, curry, red pepper flakes and saute 5 minutes
3. Add beer and let cook down 1 minute
4. Add water and bring to a boil
5. When boiling add salmon fillets (skin side down) and cook 4-5 minutes
6. Immediately remove from heat and use a slotted spoon to remove the salmon from the hot liquid.  There is nothing worse than overcooked salmon.
7. Meanwhile, prepare aioli.  Mix mayonnaise, curry powder, lime juice and green onion.
8. Carefully peel salmon meat away from the skin
9. Cut the rolls in half add a few leaves of arugula, add salmon and serve with the mayonnaise.

NOTE - You might have to cut the fillet into half again (thus having 8 pieces) depending on the size of your rolls.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Pear Rosemary Coffee Cafe

What do you do when someone gives you 10 pounds of fresh pears?  Make a lot of pear recipes!  This cake came together really quickly and hit the spot on a Sunday morning.  This is really adaptable and could be modified for any of your favorite flavors, even lavender instead of rosemary would be amazing!


Ingredients

1 teaspoon baking powder
1 pinch of salt
2 tablespoons chopped rosemary
1 cup all purpose flour
1 stick butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 small pears (your favorite type), cored and thinly sliced

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a spring form pan and set aside.
2. Mix all dry ingredients in a small mixing bowl.  Set aside.
3. Use a mixer or eggbeater to cream together softened butter and sugar.
4. When light and fluffy (or after 4 minutes) add eggs one at a time and incorporate into the sugar and butter mixture.
5. Add vanilla and let mix for 30 more seconds.
6. Slowly add flour mixture to the "wet" butter mixture.  Add about 1/3 cup of ingredients at a time. It should all be incorporated within 2 minutes.
7. Transfer to a pre-greased cake pan and use a spatula to evenly distribute the batter.
8. Top with pear slices
9. Cook about 45 minutes, until tooth pick comes out clean and the cake is golden brown on top.
10. Let cool 15 minutes before removing from spring form.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Roasted Corn and Tomatillo Enchiladas

I've never been so excited for a dinner to come out of the oven on an 80 degree day.  It was totally worth turning the oven on and the meal came together surprisingly fast.  I love enchiladas but rarely make them at home so this recipe was a nice surprise!


Ingredients

3 ears of corn
1 shallot
1 lime, juiced
1 15 oz can pinto beans, drained
6-8 tortillas (these homemade tortillas are the best!)
2 cups tomatillo sauce
2 cups Mexican style cheese
Toppings - Salsa, Sour Cream, Hot Sauce

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Remove corn husks and corn silk.  Take a sturdy butcher knife and remove the corn kernels from the cob.
3. Finely chop shallot
4. Heat skillet over medium high heat.  A a swirl or olive oil.  When hot add the shallot and corn and cook about 10 minutes.
5. Add beans to the veggies and squeeze lime juice over the veggies and remove from heat.
6. Take about 1/3 cup of tomatillo sauce and pour in bottom of 9''x13'' pyrex or other dish you will be using for the enchiladas.
7. Take a tortilla and fill with about a scoop of veggies.  Fold tortilla "burrito" style and lay in the dish.
8. Repeat with remaining tortilla and filling
9. Cover with remaining tomatillo sauce and then sprinkle the cheese over the dish.
10. Cook in the oven until cheese is bubbling, about 20 minutes.
11. Serve with salsa, sour cream, hot sauce and Corona beer!


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Basil Lemon Vodka Martini

Here is your cocktail to say farewell to summer.  This is so good, you will be waiting in earnest for the fresh basil to arrive again next year.  I modified a recipe from a fun site called "Tasty Trials", check out their other great recipes.  This makes 2 cocktails served in martini glasses.



15 basil leaves
Simple syrup (from 1/3 cup sugar and 1/3 cup water)
2 1/2 shots vodka
1/3 cup lemon juice

Do ahead - Prepare syrup.  Combine sugar and water in a sauce pan over medium high heat and stir until combined.  Then boil until liquid is clear (about 4-5 minutes).  Let this cool for at least an hour.

Cocktail - Tear basil leaves into a cocktail shaker.  Top with syrup, vodka and lemon juice.  Let sit 5 minutes.  Muddle the basil with the end of a wooden spoon.  Fill the shaker with ice and shake well.  Pour into chilled martini glasses.

Cheers!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Eggplant and Zucchini Parmesan

I didn't know there could be a meal as good as this.  The fresh tomato sauce mixed with dainty zucchini and firm eggplant is the most amazing combination of food I've had in a really long time.  I know eggplant is not a favorite veggie for many people, I am no different.  However, this recipe takes eggplant and transforms it into the most utterly delicious purple food on the planet.  Open a bottle of your favorite Syrah and say "Ahhh".  This is definitely a Sunday or Entertaining dinner, unless you make the tomato sauce in advance and have it on standby.  You could use another tomato sauce, but then we can't be friends anymore.



Tomato Sauce

1 lb mixed heirloom tomato or tomato on the vine, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 carrots peeled and chopped
1 onion cut into half
1 tablespoon oregano
salt/pepper

1. Heat a deep pot over medium high heat
2. Swirl a few tablespoons of olive oil in the bottom of the pan
3. When hot add chopped tomatoes, garlic, carrots and saute about 5 minutes until tomatoes start to break down.
4. Add onion halves to the tomato mixture, then stir in oregano, salt and pepper
5. Let simmer over medium heat for at least 45 minutes.
6. When finished, remove onions and use an immersion blender to blend the ingredients.
7. Use as your would any other tomato sauce

Eggplant and Zucchini Parmesan

1 medium sized eggplant
1 small zucchini
2 eggs
1 cup bread crumbs
1 tablespoon oregano
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt
6 oz mozzarella
2 cups tomato sauce (see below)
12 basil leaves


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper
2. Slice zucchini and eggplant into 1 inch thick rounds.
3. Whisk two eggs together in a small bowl
4. Combine breadcrumbs, oregano, red pepper flakes and salt in a pie dish or similar sized plate
5. Dip the eggplant and zucchini in the egg mixture and then dredge in the bread crumb mixture and lay on the parchment paper
6. When oven is preheated, drizzle a touch of olive oil on the eggplant and zucchini and then put it in the oven and let cook 15 minutes.
7. After 15 minutes, turn the oven up to broil and broil on each side about 5 minutes until browned and crispy, then remove from the oven.
8. Meanwhile take a 9 by 13 pyrex dish and ladle a small bit of tomato sauce on the bottom of the dish.
9. Layer the zucchini and the eggplant in the dish, top with remaining tomato sauce and place a piece of mozzarella on each piece of zucchini and eggplant
10. Return to broiler and broil until brown spots appear on the cheese and it is bubbling
11. Remove from the oven and serve with some sauce drizzled around the veggies.  Top with fresh basil and parmesan cheese
12. Serve with crusty bread and salad.




Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Lamb Meatballs + Greek Salad

I love meatballs, and to prove this I have created yet another meatball recipe to join the four other meatball related posts on this blog (and I am proud of them all!).  Serve these meatballs with the cucumber salad (recipe below) and your favorite smashed potato for a complete meal.


Lamb Meatballs

3/4 pound ground lamb
1 garlic clove
1 egg
2 tablespoons oregano
2 tablespoon chopped kalamata olives
1/4 cup feta cheese crumbles
1/4 cup green onion thinly chopped
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
salt/pepper

1. Add all ingredients in a mixing bowl and use your hands to combine until well incorporated.
2. Shape meatballs into about 1 1/2 inch think rounds and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper
3. Preheat skillet on the stove to medium high heat, add a swirl of olive oil and add the meatballs when hot.
4. Cook until browned and then gently turn to the over side to keep browning all sides of the meatball.
5. These are mostly cooked after 10-15 minutes depending on their size
6. If you happen to be drinking some wine, feel free to pour a bit over the meatballs for the last 2-3 minutes to give them an extra special glaze.

Greek Salad

2 cups cucumber pieces chopped in bite size pieces
1/2 pint tomatoes sliced in half
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives chopped
1/2 cup feta cheese crumbles
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt/pepper to taste

1. Combine all ingredients through the feta in a salad bowl.  Stir gently to mix well.
2. Drizzle with olive oil and add salt/pepper to taste.
3. Serve with meatballs or eat as a meal all on it's own!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Entertaining - Hosting a Late Summer Picnic

One of the best parts about the end of summer are the sun filled lazy weekends of August and early September.  By  now most of the Summer weddings are over and everyone is taking a breather before heading back to school.  I love to put together a basket of food and enjoy and go for a picnic to the local park with friends and family.  These recipes are easy, transport well and will be a hit with everyone you invite!



Bleu Cheese Greek Yogurt Dip + Veggies
Gazpacho Blanco and Prosciutto Bruschetta

or

Sun dried Tomato Bread
Cheese plate (A creamy goat cheese or medium cheddar would be perfect!)
Charcuterie selection - I recommend a country pate or pork rillete

If you plan ahead, you can also bring some wine (I love the Bandit Box wines for picnics...they are easy to transport!).  Just make sure to bring solid colored cups to hold your beverage.

Get out there and enjoy these last few days of Summer!


Monday, August 27, 2012

Bleu Cheese Greek Yogurt Dip

This is the most guilt free dip I have ever created.  I love bleu cheese and really wanted a way to make this a protein packed snack to eat with fresh veggies like carrot sticks and cucumber.  This comes together quickly and can be spiced according to your preference.  This would even be good served with spicy chicken wings!



6 oz nonfat plain greek yogurt
1/2 cup bleu cheese crumbles
1 green onion or scallion thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt/pepper to taste
dash of cayenne pepper

1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.  You could add garlic salt if you are a fan.
2. Serve with fresh veggies and enjoy your healthy snack!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Summer Succotash with Croutons

I'm not really sure if this is a real succotash recipe or not so I hope I don't offend anyone.  In our farm box this week we got three ears of corn, a pint of cherry tomatoes and green onions.  I spent a while thinking of what I could make with these ingredients without a lot of extra effort.  The result is this one pan dish that is breakfast for dinner you will eat again and again.  A fried egg on top is absolutely a requirement!


Ingredients

2 cups day old bread cut into crouton shape or bite size pieces
3 ears corn, kernels cut off the stalk
1 cup pre-cooked fava beans (lima or garbanzo beans would be just fine too)
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1 large green onion stalk, thinly sliced
3 strips bacon
4-5 basil leaves
eggs to fry (1 per person)
salt/pepper
olive oil

1. Heat large saute pan over medium high heat.  Add two or three swirls of olive oil.  When hot add the bread and saute until crispy and brown.
2. While croutons are browning, prepare vegetables, cutting the corn and tomatoes.
3. When bread is cooked, remove from pan to a small bowl and add another swirl of olive oil to the saute pan.
4. When oil is hot, add corn, tomatoes, fava beans and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Let cook about 10-15 minutes until everything starts to caramelize.
5. Meanwhile cook bacon (I put mine on papertowels on a plate in the microwave and cook one minute per slice).
6. Thinly slice green onion and basil, set aside and then chop the cooked bacon.
7. When corn and other veggies are done, remove from the pan and place them into a separate dish 8. Reheat the pan with some more olive oil.
9. Add eggs when the oil is hot and fry eggs to your desired doneness.
10. Plate the dinner with croutons on the bottom, topped by veggies, bacon, basil, green onion and topped off with an egg.
11. Serve with hot sauce if desired!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Apricot Freezer Jam

Here is a jam recipe for one jar of jam.  A few weeks ago I bought some apricots at the farmer's market that were very ripe, so ripe in fact I needed to make them into something as soon as I got home.  I discovered that freezer jam is actually a pretty easy way to convert fruit into something delicious with not a lot of effort.



3 ripe apricots
1 teaspoon citric acid (or juice from 1 lemon)
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon fruit pectin
1/4 cup boiling water
1 standard jam jar or container

1. Wash and dry apricots.
2. Place in a bowl and use potato masher to mash the fruit.
3. Add citric acid and sugar to the fruit.  Stir to combine well into the fruit.  Let stand 10 minutes.
4. Meanwhile prepare pectin according to package directions.
5. Set clean jam jar on the counter to be ready for the fruit.
6. Add prepared pectin to the fruit mixture and stir well
7. Add to the jam jar and cover with plastic wrap.
8. Let stand covered on the counter 24 hours before sealing and placing in the freezer.
9. When ready to consume, let defrost in the freezer and consume within two weeks.


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Gazpacho Blanco + Cantaloupe Prosciutto Bruschetta

The first time I heard of white gazpacho was at a recent dinner at one of my favorite restaurants "Hitchcock".  This was part of a chef's choice order and I could not have been more pleased to discover it.  This gazpacho is the perfect dish for someone who doesn't like tomatoes but is still looking for a similar option.  A cool soup is also ideal for really hot night when you don't want to stand over a hot stove.  These two dishes can be served separately but are delicious served together!  My suggestion here is to buy a loaf of delicious artisanal bread, a light sourdough is perfect, you will use the whole thing I promise!



Gazpacho Blanco

2 slices of the bread, crusts removed
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 glove fresh garlic
1/2 cup blanched almonds
2 cups cold water
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt/pepper to taste

1. In a shallow pan soak bread in vinegar + 1/2 cup of water
2. After 10 minutes, add bread, garlic, almonds, 2 cups water and olive oil.  Use an immersion blender to blend all ingredients together.
3. Salt and pepper to taste and then let sit in the fridge for an hour or so.  We didn't find it necessary to strain this but that is also an option.

Cantaloupe and Prosciutto Bruschetta

2 cups cantaloupe diced into small pieces
1/5 pound prosciutto end torn into pieces or diced finely
4-5 slices of your favorite bread
olive oil
salt

1. Combine cantaloupe and prosciutto in a small bowl.  Drizzle with olive oil and lightly salt.
2. Meanwhile toast slices of bread.
3. When bread is finished toasting, lightly brush with olive oil and then top with bruschetta mixture.
4. Serve immediately.

NOTE - Prosciutto ends are something new I'm seeing and it really worked well here.  Ask your local deli if they have the ends and you might even get it for free!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Sun Dried Tomato and Garlic Bread

I used to love the Sara Lee Sun dried tomato and Garlic bread when I was a kid.  I would toast up a few slices and slather them in butter for lunch or an after school snack.  This bread is my grown up version, taking a less processed approach.  We had this fresh out of the oven with some homemade mustard and charcuterie and then again in the morning for breakfast with eggs.  The bread is as versatile as it is delicious!



Ingredients

1 teaspoon yeast
1 teaspoon white sugar
1/2 cup warm water
3 cups flour
1 tablespoon oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup diced sun dried tomatoes in oil
3-4 large cloves of garlic, smashed

1. Combine yeast, sugar and warm water in a small container and let the yeast proof about 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, combine flour, oregano and salt in a food processor or Kitchen Aid mixer bowl.  Pulse or mix until well combined.
3. When yeast is proofed, add it to the flour mixture and mix until combined (about 15 seconds).
4. Add sundried tomatoes and about 3/4 cup water.  Mix until combined.
5. Add garlic and about another 1/2 cup water.  You want a wet dough, wet enough to be slightly difficult to manage but not soupy either.
6. Sprinkle about 1/2 cup of flour on a clean surface.
7. Dump dough onto the floured surface and need about 5 minutes.
8. Place in a well oiled bowl and let rice about 2 hours.
9. When ready to bake, heat oven to 375 degrees.  Roll dough into desired shape and place on parchment paper (you could also put in a well oiled bread pan).
10. Place bread in oven and cook about 20 minutes or until internal temperature is around 190 degrees farenheit.
11. Remove and let cool about 10 minutes before devouring.



Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Pancakes

Who doesn't love chocolate chip oatmeal cookies?  Who doesn't love pancakes?  Putting these two together was the best 'ah-ha' moment of the weekend (and I did this all before nine AM and finishing my coffee).  I think the genius part of this breakfast is that you have oatmeal in the batter.  Instead of eating a bunch of sugar for breakfast, you're at least getting a bit of whole grain to help keep you full longer.  The basic recipe is from Smitten Kitchen, but I have modified it adding the chocolate chips and using regular quick cooking oatmeal and replaced honey for vanilla because I like that much better.



Makes 8 small pancakes (enough for 2 people)

Ingredients

1/2 cup cooked oatmeal (from about 1/4 cup dry quick cooking oatmeal)
1/2 cup oat flour (take 3/4 cup dry oatmeal, process in food processor until flour like consistency)
3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
sprinkle salt
2 tablespoons melted butter
3/4 cup milk
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chocolate chips

1. Prepare cooked oatmeal first so it has time to cool.
2. Combine both flours, sugar, baking powder in salt in a small bowl and whisk to incorporate.
3. In another larger bowl combine melted butter, milk, egg and vanilla and stir until well incorporated.
4. Add cooked oatmeal and stir to incorporate
5. Add dry ingredients to the wet mixture and use a spatula to incorporate and mix in.  Once it is combined, add chocolate chips and fold in carefully.  Stop mixing.
6. Heat a griddle or cast iron skillet over medium high heat.  When hot add a tablespoon or two of butter to grease the pan.
7. Cook pancakes until golden brown on each side, adding more butter if necessary.
8. Keep in oven warmer until ready to eat.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Summer Squash Rice Quiche

I made some Korean tacos recently and made a boatload of rice.  Trying to figure out what to do with the leftovers, I started thinking about arancini (Italian fried rice) and decided to try and turn this rice into a crust of sorts for a summer dinner quiche.  Don't let the word "quiche" fool you here, this is not a heavy dinner by any means.  It is perfect with a simple salad and glass of white wine.  This is summer in a pan!


Ingredients


2 1/2 cups cooked and chilled white rice
1/4 cup melted butter
2 eggs
1/2 onion finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
salt/pepper
1 lb summer squash (zucchini or yellow squash)
1/2 cup goat cheese crumbles

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Butter or spray a springform pan (or other cake pan).
2. Combine 2 1/2 cups plain cooked rice with 1/4 cup melted butter.  Place in pan and evenly compact.
3. Beat 2 eggs.  Add thyme, salt/pepper, onion and stir to incorporate.
4. Pour egg mixture over the rice.
5. Thinly slice squash and place evenly across the top of the egg and rice mixture.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Sprinkle salt and pepper on top.
6. Put in the oven and cook about 20 to 25 minutes.
7. Remove and sprinkle goat cheese on top and put under the broiler another 5-10 minutes until goat cheese is nice and browned.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Strawberry Pineapple Vodka Cake

I've officially crowed this cake the top sweet of the summer!  I needed a simple and delicious cake to bring to a weekend gettaway with friends and the only thing I had on hand were strawberries, pineapple and vodka (like that is really a problem?).  I wanted to make a cake that would accentuate all of the flavors and this cake really fits the bill.  A nice caramel sauce with the fruit and vodka is pretty much heaven!  I modified the cake recipe from Smitten Kitchen and here is the final product!  You will want to make this in a spring form pan so you can easily flip the cake (since it is baked upside down after all).  Word to the wise, put the cake pan on a cookie sheet or another pan because some of the liquid will drip out and you don't want caramel sauce getting on your oven coils.


Ingredients

3/4 stick butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 can 16 oz pineapple chunks, 1/2 cup juices reserved and set aside
1 pint strawberries, tops removed and cut into chunks
1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
3/4 stick butter
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup vodka

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter or spray the cake pan and arrange cut fruit on the bottom.  Set aside for now.
2. Place 3/4 stick of butter in a small pan on the stove.  Watch it carefully and when melted, add the brown sugar.  Stir well and let cook about 5 minutes, until starting to bubble.  When bubbling, remove from heat and carefully pour over fruit in the cake pan.  Immediately put the pan you used to make caramel sauce in the sink and add hot water to prevent caramel from sticking to the pan and ruining it.
3. Combine dry ingredients and mix well in a bowl.
4. Beat remaining 3/4 stick of butter 2-3 minutes in a separate bowl.
5. Add sugar and beat with butter another 2-3 minutes.
6. Add eggs and beat to incorporate.
7. Add vanilla and vodka and beat until incorporated.
8. Slowly add flour to liquid mixture, beating until incorporated (generally about 1/4 to 1/3 of the mixture at a time).
9. Pour cake batter slowly over the fruit and caramel mixture, using a spatula if necessary to spread the cake.
10. Place the springform on a cookie sheet and put in the preheated oven.  Cook about 35-40 minutes until top is golden brown and toothpick inserted comes out clean.
11. Be careful when you remove the cake from the oven that you let it cool down before handling.  The caramel is extremely hot!
12. Remove the springform from around the cake, place a plat on top and carefully flip the cake so the fruit is on the top.  Carefully remove the springform bottom plate and rearrange any fruit that has moved.
13. Serve warm with ice cream!





Thursday, July 19, 2012

Goat Cheese and Basil Stuffed Mushrooms

I've never made a stuffed mushroom recipe before and it was surprisingly easy.  I don't know what I was so worried about (maybe removing the stem from the cap?).  These are a great meat free alternative in a tapas style dinner.  Served with cheese, good bread and olives you have a really special dinner that isn't too heavy on a summer night.  I can imagine endless possibilities with different fillings, so if you don't have exactly what is in this recipe, use whatever you have on hand.


Ingredients

16 cremini mushroom caps, stems removed
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup goat cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
16 basil leaves thinly sliced
2-3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Lightly oil a cookie sheet.
2. Place mushroom caps on the cookie sheet with the stem side facing up.
3. Combine bread crumbs, goat cheese, salt, pepper, basil, garlic and sun dried tomatoes in a bowl and mix until goat cheese is well incorporated
4. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil over the mixture and stir to combine again
5. Using clean hands, stuff each mushroom cap with an equal amount mixture.  Don't be afraid to overstuff as it will look nice to have the filling browned on top in the oven.
6. Place in the oven and cook about 18 minutes until tops are golden brown and mixture is heated through.
7. Serve (devour!) immediately

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Shrimp Tacos + Radish Salsa

This recipe might sound really strange but it is probably one of the best meals I have made at home EVER.  Yes, EVER.  David said he had no words to describe the flavor combination other than it would be a $17 taco at a restaurant.  If you are not a shrimp fan, you can substitute in one pound of flat iron steak and pinto beans instead of garbanzos.  Go make this now, or at least make the salsa and satisfy your curiosity.  Serving with our homemade tortillas is required :) .



Salsa

1 bunch radishes finely diced
2 tablespoons parsley
1 garlic clove
4 scallions
Juice of 1 lime
olive oil
salt/pepper

Shrimp Topping

1/2 pound medium size shrimp
2 cups corn kernels
1 cup garbanzo beans
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
salt/pepper
olive oil
 Juice of 1 lime

1. Prepare tortilla dough first.   It needs to sit for at least an hour so make sure you have that well on it's way.
2. Prepare salsa next.  Finely chop radishes, parsley, garlic and scallions and add to the same bowl.  Dress with lime juice, olive oil and taste to make sure you have a solid lime flavor.  Finally, salt and pepper to taste.  Set in the fridge until ready to serve.
3. Preheat the oven to the broiler setting.
4. Combine shrimp, corn and garbanzo beans in a small mixing bowl.
5. Combine curry, cumin, chili powders with salt and pepper in a small ramekin or small bowl.
6. Evenly toss spice mixture on the shrimp mixture until evenly coated.
7. Give a generous drizzle of olive oil and lime juice over the shrimp mixture and toss to coat.
8. Spread evenly on a cookie sheet and cook in preheated oven about 10 minutes or until corn starts to carmalize and shrimp are cooked but not overdone.
9. Remove from the oven and let sit a minute or two.
10. Serve with salsa and sour cream on homemade tortillas!


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Fava Bean and Ricotta Bruschetta

I really love simple and delicious food (clearly that isn't obvious from the fact I talk about it all the time).  But really, there is nothing more satisfying than experimenting with fresh, wholesome ingredients in the kitchen and discovering delights such as fava bean and ricotta bruschetta (you know, brusketta!)  The best way to take this recipe to the next level is to use this homemade ricotta cheese recipe from Smitten Kitchen.  The rest comes together quite easily.



Ingredients for 24 bruschetta


1 lb fava beans
1 baguetta
2 cups ricotta cheese
olive oil
salt/pepper


1. Heat a large pot of salted water on medium high heat, when boiling add fava beans and set timer for 3 1/2 minutes.
2.  Immediately remove from heat and using a slotted spoon, put veggies into a colander in the sink and run cold water over them for 2 minutes3. Next you need to shell the fava beans.  They should be in a long pod and to open you can carefully cut a slit in the bean with a small knife4. Remove the beans from the pod and set aside and discard the pods5. When you have accumulated the beans, now you have to squeeze out the actual bean from within this outer layer.  Once you try this you will know exactly what I'm referring too.  Be careful as these are slippery and can easily fall down the drain!6. Set the beans in a dish and discard the husks
7. Everything up until this point can be made and stored until you are ready to serve.
8. Thinly slice your favorite baguette into bite size (or 2 bite size) rounds.
9. Spoon a tiny bit of ricotta on each baguette and then sprinkle with fava beans
10. Drizzle the plate with olive oil and then top with a bit of salt and pepper

11. Serve with a delicious and crisp Sauvignon blanc!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Ginger Cilantro Meatballs

The best thing about meatballs is how versatile and easily modified they can be for any occasion.  A true favorite in our household is Swedish Meatballs and recently we posted about Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs.  Here I took some Asian inspired ingredients to create a meatball perfect to serve with rice.  Probably the most unique flavor in here is the use of pickled ginger instead of fresh ginger, but if can't find it, then regular ginger will do.  These can also be served as individual appetizers for a football game or other group get together.  Enjoy!



Ingredients for 24 medium meatballs

3 tablespoons pickled ginger, chopped
2 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 bunch cilantro
1 egg
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1 lb ground beef or pork (or even chicken!)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
pepper/salt

1. Prepare the inclusions first.  Chop ginger, garlic, onion and set in a bowl.
2. Remove cilantro from stems and finely chop and add to mixture.
3. Crack egg into bowl and add panko, meat, soy sauce and sesame oil.
4. Finally salt/pepper ingredients to your normal "taste".
5. Set a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper out before you start forming the balls
6. Use clean hands to mix all the ingredients together, really incorporating it all.
7. Shape meatballs to desired shape, but I go for about 2 inches diameter
8. Place on cookie sheet
9. You can either bake them in the oven at 425 until they are browned and cooked through (about 30 minutes) or pan fry them (about 20 minutes).  The choice is up to you, I think it really depends on what kind of dishes you want to do that night.
10. Serve with rice and simple salad.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Panna Cotta with Fresh Strawberries

My farm share with Tahoma Farms is starting to send me some serious produce, this past week it was a pint of fresh local strawberries!  I've wanted to try making Panna Cotta for a while now (thanks April) so I finally made a batch mixing two recipes (one from Giada and the other from Honest Cooking).  It's a fairly easy dessert so I would definitely recommend this recipe next time you have a dinner party!  This would be fun a bridal shower or brunch too.  Add some blueberries and you could use this for July 4th celebrations!


Ingredients for 4 servings

1 cup milk (whatever you prefer, but stay away from non-fat)
1 packet Knox plain gelatin
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 pint strawberries rinsed and thinly sliced

1.  Pour milk into a bowl and sprinkle gelatin on top.  Let stand five minutes.
2.  Heat a heavy bottom sauce pan over medium heat.  Add milk and gelatin mixture and stir to incorporate.  About 5 minutes.
3.  Add cream, sugar, vanilla extract and stir until incorporated (about 2-3 minutes)
4.  Remove from heat and pour into fancy glasses or even ramekins
5.  Let set in the fridge about 4-5 hours until "jello" like
6.  Remove and top with fresh sliced strawberries

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Entertaining - Hosting a Summer Cookout

When the weather is beautiful and the sun setting well after 8 PM, it is the best time of year to have a barbeque or cookout.  Setting a table outdoors means easy clean up and a few extra touches go a long way to delight your guests.


Tips for Success

Procure a large tray to help carry several items to your outside venue
Buy funny and cute plastic plates that can be easily thrown in the dishwasher
Invest in a large pitcher for drinks (Goodwill sells these by the dozen and for super cheap)
Paper napkins are your best friend!
Fresh cut seasonal flowers are the perfect adornment to your outdoor table

The Menu

Appetizer #1 - Hummus and veggies
Appetizer #2 - Grilled Radicchio with Goat Cheese
Appetizer #3 - Goat Cheese Stuffed Peppers

Entree - Hot dogs or bratwurst served with Homemade Sauerkraut
Salad - Fava Bean and Potato Salad
Side Dish - Corn Salad

Dessert - Chocolate Whiskey Cupcakes

Drink - Gin and Lemon Cocktails


Monday, June 25, 2012

Sauerkraut

I resisted this for so long and I'm so happy I finally gave in.  I thought for sure this would smell up the house or cause some crazy bacteria growth, but actually, homemade sauerkraut is officially a winner in my book.  Insanely easy and delicious on hot dogs (think upcoming BBQ holiday), sandwiches, salads, etc. you definitely have to give this a try.  The biggest thing here is to get a container that can hold all the ingredients. We used a large plastic container and draped a clean dish cloth over it to keep dust, etc. out.


Ingredients for 1 lb sauerkraut

1/2 head of cabbage, thinly sliced
2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
1 jalopeno, seeded and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons salt

1. Thinly slice all the veggies and add to the plastic or ceramnic container you will store the kraut.  A 2 gallon container is plenty big enough.
2. Add oregano, red pepper flakes and salt to the veggies and stir very well to coat
3. Place a smaller tupperware filled with water on an extra cabbage leaf to create a barrier.  Once the salt starts to extra the liquid from the veggies, it will eventually cover this and protect the kraut from bacteria.  If you don't have it covered by about 1 day, you can add water to cover the veggies.
4. Let sit at least four days to marinate
5. As you want to eat it, remove it from the container and serve.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Single Girl Dinner #3 - Strawberry and Bleu Cheese Salad

I haven't posted in this category for a while.  For those of you new to this blog, the "single girl" dinners are meals that I eat when David is out with his friends and it is just me for dinner so I can experiment and do different things.  This salad is so fresh and delicious and perfect for the upcoming summer nights.  Of course anyone can make it, but this recipe is just for one salad so make sure to multiply the ingredients as necessary.


Ingredients

1 small head butter or red lettuce
1/2 English cucumber, thinly sliced
1 small salad onion, thinly sliced
1 cup fresh strawberries, tops removed
1/3 cup bleu cheese crumbles
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
fresh black pepper

1. Clean and rinse lettuce and rip or cut into desired size.  Place on plate.
2. Top salad with cucumber, salad onion, strawberry and bleu cheese.
3. Drizzle olive oil and then vinegar over the veggies
4. Top with fresh black pepper
5. Enjoy with a delicious glass of white wine!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Pulled Pork Green Chili

This recipe is adapted from an insanely awesome looking Mexican Pulled Pork Stew from Rachael Ray.  I used less ingredients here to make it more user friendly and I was very pleased with the result.  I love pulled pork and I always forget how economical a piece of pork shoulder can be (and how many people it can feed!).  This recipe can feed a lot of people (6+), so make sure you are ready to serve to a crowd.



Ingredients

2 lbs pork shoulder
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
12 oz bottle of amber beer
1 onion or leek chopped
2 14.5 oz cans fire roasted tomatoes
1 7 oz can green chilis
1 can pinto beans, drained
1 1/2 cups chicken broth

1. Preheat oven to 275.  Combine pork shoulder, spices, salt, beer and onion in a dutch oven.  Place lid on dutch oven and put in oven for 4 hours.
2. Remove from oven after 4 hours, check that meat is tender and pulling away easily.
3. Use a fork to carefully pull the pork apart (watch out for the hot liquid)
4. Add fire roasted tomatoes and their juices, green chilis, beans and chicken broth to the pot.
5. Heat over medium high heat until the soup is bubbling.
6. Serve with homemade tortillas, sour cream, cheese and scallions!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Lavender Ice Cream

Our ice cream maker was one of the best presents we received when we got married.  I spent a lot of time making frozen yogurt last summer and this summer I'm determined to make a lot of real traditional ice cream.  This is my first pass and it is excellent!  The ice cream is really simple and has a perfect subtle lavender taste.  A big thank you to Christine for bringing me lavender sugar and inspiring this recipe!



Ingredients

1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons chopped lavender
1 1/4 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
2 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt

1.  Take a large heavy sauce pan (or enamel pan like Le creuset) and heat heavy cream and 1 cup of whole mean over medium heat.  You will bring this to a simmer (about 10 minutes).  Make sure to stir and watch that this does not boil!
2. Meanwhile, put 1 cup of sugar into a bowl and the lavender.  Use your fingers to rub the lavender and the sugar together to combine the essence of the herb and the sugar.
3. In another bowl, whisk together egg yokes and 1/4 cup sugar.
4. Here is the tricky part.  Once milk and simmered.  Remove from the heat.  Take a 1/2 measuring cup and scoop out warm milk/cream mixture.  Slowly and carefully whisk into egg mixture to temper the eggs and bring to the same temp as the milk.  Feel free to repeat this process with another 1/2 cup of milk mixture.
5. When eggs are tempered, slowly stir them back into the pan of milk/cream mixture carefully whisking to combine into the milk.
6. Cook this mixture over medium low heat until it coats the spoon.  About 10 minutes.
7. Move liquid to another bowl and add remaining 2 cups milk, vanilla and pinch of salt.  Stir to combine.
8. Cool mixture completely in the fridge, do not skip this step or you will regret it.
9. Put in ice cream maker of choice and go per manufacturer's instructions.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Entertaining - Hosting an Effortless Brunch Party

My friends will tell you that I love hosting brunch (and I'm always up early on the weekends so this is never a problem!).



The key to brunch is starting off with a nice beverage and "appetizer" pairing.  My the menu has two options for drinks (one alcoholic and one non-alcoholic).  This allows people to relax and enjoy conversation without feeling utterly famished while waiting for everyone to arrive.   Once all of the guests have arrived, you can move on to the more formal part of the meal, which I prefer to serve at a table on casual plates with a colorful napkin and simple flower arrangement.

Brunch is the entertaining event to really use colors that aren't necessarily "matching" but are appeasing to the eye.  If you have mismatched dishes they are perfect at brunch because most people are too sleepy to notice.  This also gives of a casual feeling while still keeping the paper plates in the cupboard.  I also recommend everyone have at least one tablecloth that is bright and emits a feeling of energy, this is the perfect occasion!

Check out these cute napkins from Anthropologie - Storybook Romance Dishtowels

You will notice there is no meat on this menu and it is something I do often when serving to a large number of people.  When food is this delicious, they even hardly know it's missing and your vegetarian friends will be silently thanking you.

Menu

Starters:

Blueberry Lemon Coffee Cake
Prosecco cocktail or Faux-secco cocktail - Replace prosecco and vodka with sparkling water

Main dish:

Creme Fraiche Quiche with Chard
Rhubarb Applesauce

Dessert:

French Press Coffee
Apricot and Mozzarella Dessert Caprese



Wednesday, May 30, 2012

3P Biscuits - Parsley, Parmesan and Pepper

Sometimes I just don't want to cook anything on the weekends but then I remember how delicious a fresh homemade biscuit can taste and how quickly they can be prepared and baked.  Add a fresh egg and some slices of bacon and you have a breakfast that is better than any option dining out.  Here I've gone with items in my fridge, but you can substitute almost any herb and cheese for the parsley and parmesan I've used here.  These are delightful and easily modified!



Ingredients (for 6 biscuits)

1 1/2 cup white flour
1/2 cup wheat flour
1 teaspoon sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons black pepper (the coarser the better)
1/2 cup parsley leaves finely chopped
1 stick of butter
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 cup of buttermilk

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Combine all dry ingredients (including parsley) in a food processor.  Pull until combined, about 1 minute.
3. Cut butter into 4-5 chunks and drop one chunk in at a time, pulsing in between to combine the flour into the butter.
4. When all butter is in, add parmesan and pulse for a minute, then add buttermilk and pulse until well mixed (about 2 minutes).
5. Remove mixture to a well floured counter and carefully dump onto the board.  Use your hands to mold the dough into about a 7 inch diameter circle, making sure to incorporate any extra bits into the dough.
6. Cut into six equal slices (like a pie)
7. Place on parchment paper and cook until tops are lightly browned, about 16-18 minutes.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Gambas al Ajillo - Prawns with Garlic Sauce

One of my favorite tapas of all times is gambas al ajillo - prawns/shrimp in a garlic sauce made with olive oil and garlic.  This dish is simple, impressive and can be either a dinner for two people or tapas for 4-6.  Once again, we were lucky to find these fresh caught spotted prawns from our favorite HamaHama Oyster co .  If you are in the Olympic Peninsula area and want a place to visit, it would be totally worth the visit!

Serve this dish with a side of arroz con frijole negro "rice with black bean" or pan "bread".



Ingredients

1/2 pound uncooked fresh prawn tails
4-6 cloves garlic minced
1 jalopeno seeded and finely chopped
1/3 cup olive oil

1. Heat deep pot or cast iron over medium high heat.
2. When hot, add garlic, jalopeno and olive oil.  Stir for about a minute or so, don't let the garlic brown too much.
3. Drop the prawns in and stir to coat.  Allow to cook about 3 minutes until the meat turns white.  It is important not to overcook these because then they will get tough.
4. Remove from heat and stir a few more times to coat the shrimp in the delicious oil.
5. Serve with black beans, rice or crusty bread to soak up the garlic oil.  You will have to peel these and be careful, they are hot!



Sunday, May 20, 2012

Toast met Champignons (Toast with Mushrooms)

Here is another classic recipe from my mother in law.  This meal is really filling and delicious and definitely made for a busy weeknight.  You could also serve this as an appetizer or at a brunch with an egg on top.  The point is this dish has bacon, mushrooms (yes I put bacon first), shallot and parsley.  How simple and easy can that be?



Ingredients


3-4 strips thick cut bacon
2 small shallots finely chopped
1 lb mushrooms (we used shiitake) chopped into bite size pieces
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
olive oil
salt
pepper

1. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.  Cook bacon until mostly crisp, about 5-7 minutes.
2. Remove bacon to a plate lined with a paper towel
3. Add shallots to bacon grease and allow to cook about 2-3 minutes
4. Add chopped mushrooms and allow to cook another 3-4 minutes
5. If you dish looks dry you can add a tablespoon or so of olive oil
6. Add parsley, salt and pepper to taste. Set aside and cover.
7. Prepare toast from your favorite loaf of bread.  Brush with olive oil if you like.
8. Place toast on a plate and cover generously with mushrooms.  Serve with an egg on top or a salad on the side.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Whole Wheat Dutch Oven Bread

The inspiration for this bread came from my dear friend Hillary who is the best baker I know.  I combined two of her favorite recipes (one using a dutch oven and the other all white flour), but I doctored this one up with some whole wheat flour to see if it would still taste good.  Lucky for you, it does!  Cooking the bread in a dutch oven is absolutely required and will give the results a normal home oven can't normally replicate.  Try mixing in any of your favorite bread inclusions (rosemary, cheddar cheese, thyme, etc.)!



2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
2 cups unbleached whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon yeast
1 tablespoon salt
2 cups warm water

1. Combine dry ingredients with a spatula in a plastic bowl and stir with a spoon to incorporate.
2. Add water until dough is looks like a shaggy ball (I don't really know what a shaggy ball would be defined as, but go with your gut here).  Mine looked like a mostly wet doughy substance.
3. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise 12-18 hours
4. Preheat dutch oven in a regular oven to 450 degrees.
5. Generously cover hands and counter with flour and turn dough onto the counter.
6. Shape into desired shape (remember if has to fit in your dutch oven) and let rest until regular oven is preheated.
7. CAREFULLY remove dutch oven and carefully put bread in the pan.  Place lid on top and put in oven for 30 minutes.
8. Remove lid after 30 minutes and return dutch oven to the regular oven for another 15 minutes to let the bread brown
9. CAREFULLY remove the entire apparatus from the oven and take the bread out with oven mitts and place on a cooling rack
10. Cut and serve after letting cool about 15 minutes

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Rhubarb Margarita

Yes this sounds insanely delicious and it lives up to it's reputation.  Rhubarb simple syrup + silver tequila = elegant margarita!  I got the rhubarb simple syrup from 101 cookbooks.com and made a few modifications to fit my needs.  The end result is out of this world.



A few notes about the simple syrup.  You don't need to put any rosewater in the final product (unless you happen to have some sitting around).  I also doubled the amount of lime in the recipe.  You can actually make 1/2 of the recipe and still end up with enough syrup for 4 drinks.  If you are confused by this math, welcome to my world ;)

Ingredients

1.5 parts good silver tequila
1 part rhubarb simple syrup (see link above)

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake about a minute.  Drain into a frozen martini glass and garnish with a strawberry or a maraschino cherry.
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