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


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!


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)
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

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!


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)


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.