Saturday, June 30, 2012

Limoncello


I started this recipe a week ago and fortune smiles on me because we were making "pepperoni pizza" with the leftover pepperoni sauce from last night and I needed a recipe for the blog.  I messed up and used 80 proof vodka.  It tasted like lemon vodka to me.  We needed to add some club soda or sprite to make it drinkable.  I think it will make a very cool ingredient in drinks but I can't see us sipping it by itself.  You should note that the simple syrup seemed to settle and freeze where the alcohol did not.  So we had to let it warm up a bit before we could mix it and taste it.

Limoncello
2 lb lemons,about 8 to 10
750    ml vodka,100 proof
2/3 c  water
2/3 c  sugar

Carefully remove the zest from the lemons using a microplane or rasp
grater, being careful not to remove any of the white pith. Reserve the
lemons to make lemonade or squeeze and freeze the juice for later use.
Put the lemon zest into a lidded glass container that is at least 2-
quarts in size. Pour the vodka over the zest, and let sit in a cool
dark place for 7 days.
After 7 days, strain the liquid through a fine mesh strainer lined with
muslin or several layers of cheesecloth and return the vodka to the
container.
Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan set over high heat and
cook, stirring continually, until the sugar is completely dissolved,
approximately 3 minutes. Once completely cool, add the sugar syrup to
the vodka, and stir to combine.
Cover and put the container in the freezer for at least 4 hours.
Limoncello can be stored in the freezer for up to a year.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Sopapilla Cheesecake Pie


Tonight we had some old dear friends over.  I hate to make them guinnea pigs, so I made roast chicken with pepperoni sauce for dinner.  Served with pasta with a garlic butter and baguette.  We had this dessert at the second of our progressive dinners and I figured that while my baking skills are subpar, I could pull this one off and knew in talented hands it was stellar.  This recipe came to me from the lovely and talented Gwynne who has her own website to help promote local businesses.  I love what she is doing to help create a supportive enviorment, and network for small business owners.
Sadily, in my less skilled hands the dessert was not as good as hers, but still pretty great!  It does somewhat violate what I am trying to do (making everything from scratch), as I am buying croissant dough, but there are some things that I will learn how to do when I have a bit more pastry skill;).


Sopapilla Cheesecake Pie

2    (8 ounce) packages cream cheese,softened
1 c  white sugar
1 t  Mexican vanilla extract
2    (8 ounce) cans refrigerated crescent rolls
3/4 c  white sugar
1 t  ground cinnamon
1/2 c  butter, room temperature
1/4 c  honey

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Prepare a 9x13 inch
baking dish with cooking spray.
Beat the cream cheese with 1 cup of sugar and the vanilla extract in a
bowl until smooth.
Unroll the cans of crescent roll dough, and use a rolling pin to shape
each piece into 9x13 inch rectangles. Press one piece into the bottom
of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Evenly spread the cream cheese mixture into
the baking dish, then cover with the remaining piece of crescent dough.
Stir together 3/4 cup of sugar, cinnamon, and butter. Dot the mixture
over the top of the cheesecake.
Bake in the preheated oven until the crescent dough has puffed and
turned golden brown, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and drizzle
with honey. Cool completely in the pan before cutting into 12 squares.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Thai Curry Turkey Burgers

I know we like burgers and seem to have found many good recipes for them and this one is no exception.  The thing I love about this one is that it seems pretty light, for a burger that is.  The site I got it from said it was like 600 calories. (as always click the recipe title for the link to the source when I know it)  That isn't bad for a burger.  They are plenty of ways to shave calories too. (lighter mayo, smaller burgers, no bun etc...)  I am not a huge fan of turkey, but the curry paste (I used red) makes the turkey really flavorful.  I think this is one we are going to have to repeat and soon;)

Thai Curry Turkey Burgers

1    -1/4 lb. ground turkey (not ground turkey breast)
2    Tbs. red or green Thai curry paste
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable oil,for the grill
1    medium lime
2/3 c  mayonnaise
3/4 c  thinly sliced seedless cucumber
1/4 c  fresh cilantro leaves
1    small shallot,thinly sliced
1    Tbs. seasoned rice vinegar
4    sesame seed hamburger buns
Sliced tomato,for serving
Prepare a medium gas or charcoal grill fire.
In a medium bowl, gently mix the turkey, curry paste, and 1/4 tsp. each
salt and pepper with your hands just until blended. Form the mixture
into four 1/2-inch-thick patties.
Oil the grill grate. Grill the burgers, flipping once, until an instant-
read thermometer inserted into the centers of the burgers registers
165F, 12 to 15 minutes total.
While the burgers cook, finely grate 1 tsp. zest from the lime, then
squeeze the lime to yield 1 Tbs. juice. In a small bowl, combine the
zest and juice, mayonnaise, and 1/4 tsp. salt. In another small bowl,
toss the cucumber with the cilantro, shallot, and vinegar.
Toast the buns cut side down on the grill until browned and heated
through, 1 to 2 minutes.
Spread the tops and bottoms of the buns with the mayonnaise. Serve the
burgers in the buns, topped with a slice of tomato and the cucumber
mixture.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Baby Spinach And Garlic Bread Pudding

My darling boy is back from a week at my MIL. He loves crab legs, so I got some for him. To go with them I thought this would be a great side as it is a starch and a veggie. It wasn't exactly what I think of as a savory bread pudding. It was more of a savory custard with a bread toping; it was kind of like cobbler. All the oddity aside, it was a very delicious dish. It won't reheat to the same dish because the crispy topping will soften, but I still think it will be tasty tomorrow for breakfast;). It would also make a good vegetarian main dish. A little bit of work; cutting up the baguette is what I'm thinking of. I also chopped the spinach after cooking it.

Baby Spinach And Garlic Bread Pudding

2 T  unsalted butter
15    ounces baby spinach,stems removed
2 T  water
1    small garlic clove,minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 lb French baguette,crusts removed, bread cut into 1/4-inch
2    large eggs
3/4 c  heavy cream
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1. Preheat the oven to 325. Butter a 6-cup souffl dish or other deep
baking dish. In a large skillet, melt 1/2 tablespoon of butter over
moderately high heat. Add the spinach, water and garlic, season with
salt and pepper and stir a few times. Cover and cook the spinach until
it wilts, about 2 minutes.
2. Set a colander over a bowl and drain the spinach; press very
lightly on the spinach to extract 1/4 cup of liquid. Spread out the
spinach on a rimmed baking sheet to cool.
3. Heat the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet.
Add the diced bread and cook over moderate heat until browned on the
bottom, about 3 minutes. Stir and continue to cook until the croutons
are crisp all over, about 2 minutes longer. Transfer the croutons to a
plate to cool.
4. In a bowl, whisk the eggs with the cream, reserved spinach cooking
liquid, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/8 teaspoon of pepper and the nutmeg.
Stir in the spinach and pour the mixture into the prepared souffl dish.
Spread the fried croutons evenly over the top.
5. Set the souffl dish in a roasting pan and pour enough hot water
into the pan to reach one-third of the way up the side of the souffl
dish. Bake the bread pudding for 35 to 40 minutes, or until set. Let
the pudding cool slightly, then serve directly from the souffl dish or
invert it onto a platter and serve.
Make Ahead The recipe can be prepared in advance through Step 3.
Refrigerate the spinach, and store the croutons in an airtight
container,  overnight.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Crunchy Pork Kimchi Burgers

Delicious but not photogenic
First of all a great big THANK YOU to The Red Apron for a second nomination for the Versatile Blogger award. I am very pleased and excited to be part of the food buzz blogger community.  I am getting to know so many cool individuals in one of the best ways possible, through their food!
As for the dinner, I was a little upset when I realized this wasn't a proper burger on a bun.  All that disappointment faded with the first bite.  When I googled the recipe in the grocery store, I saw some other bloggers had tried this and recommended adding to (some even suggested doubling) the amount of kimchi.  I decided to measure a full cup of the kimchi after chopping.  It was perfect.  The panko coating was wonderful substitute for a bun.  The mayo was great; the spinach was out of sight!  My only complaint was I would have made more spinach.  I liked an equal portion of pork and spinach with a little mayo for each bite.  We used almost all of the spinach for half the pork.  Now my leftovers won't have enough spinach:(.  My husband did not require as much spinach per bite thankfully:)  I also made two 6 ounce bags, so I was already making a bit more than the recipe called for.  I think next time I will make three bags.  YUM!!!!!


Crunchy Pork Kimchi Burgers

1 T  minced fresh ginger
1    large garlic clove,minced
2    scallions,minced
1 lb ground pork
3/4 c  finely chopped kimchi
Kosher salt
All-purpose flour,for dusting
2    large eggs,beaten
1 c  panko (Japanese bread crumbs),lightly crushed
Vegetable oil,for frying
2    5-ounce bags baby spinach (I chopped this but it wasn't called for)
1/4 c  plus 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 t  toasted sesame oil
1 T  soy sauce
Toasted sesame seeds,for garnish
1. In a bowl, combine the ginger, garlic, scallions, pork and kimchi
with 1 teaspoon of salt. Form the mixture into eight 3-inch patties,
1/2 inch thick. Dust the patties with flour.
2. Put the eggs and panko in 2 shallow bowls. Dip the patties in the
egg and then in the panko, pressing to help the crumbs adhere.
3. In a large skillet, heat 1/4 inch of vegetable oil. Add the patties
and fry over moderate heat, turning, until golden and cooked through, 5
to 6 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
4. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the oil in the skillet. Add the
spinach in batches, season with salt and cook over high heat until
wilted, about 1 minute.
5. In a bowl, mix the mayonnaise, sesame oil and soy sauce. Mound the
spinach on plates and top with the burgers. Drizzle with the sauce,
sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Greek Taco

You are probably  thinking what I was when I saw the title of this recipe, "uh isn't that called a gyro?"  And you know what we would be right, but a gyro is pretty darn tasty,  This is a basically gyro except the lamb is in crumbles.  It was very tasty but I do prefer the more laborious gyro meat.  I have never been a fan of ground meat broken apart and cooked so I may be a bit biased.  I thought the meal was tasty and my husband, who has no such bias, loved it.  The one thing I found annoying, was the order of the instructions really should be reversed.  I had scanned it, but neglected to notice that the relish was to be made an hour ahead of time.  It all worked out as my husband was late coming home and I was waiting to cook the meat until he arrived, but really it should gone at the beginning so I am moving it;).

Greek Taco

Lamb
1 T  olive oil
2 lb ground lamb
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2    red onion,minced
1 t  dried oregano
4 ea garlic,minced
1 T  tomato paste
2 T  dry red wine
Feta Mint Tzatziki
1    English cucumber
Salt
1 c  whole-milk Greek yogurt
1/2 c  crumbled feta cheese
1 ea garlic,minced or pressed
2 T  minced fresh mint
Cucumber Tomato Relish
1 T  extra-virgin olive oil
1 T  red wine vinegar
2    firm tomatoes,seeded and diced
1    English cucumber,seeded and diced
1/2    red onion,diced
Freshly ground black pepper
Sandwich Build
4    non-pocket pitas,oiled and lightly griddled on each side


For the cucumber tomato relish: Toss the olive oil, vinegar, tomatoes,
cucumbers and onions in a bowl and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
Cover and let sit at least 1 hour to marry the flavors.
For the lamb: In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat.

For the tzatziki: Grate the cucumber on the large holes of a box grater
and place in a fine-meshed strainer or cheese cloth fitted over a bowl.
Salt the cucumber and let sit 10 minutes. Then squeeze out any excess
moisture. Add the strained cucumber into a bowl with the yogurt, feta,
garlic and mint. Adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Add the lamb, sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook until the meat
gets nice and golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. With a slotted spoon,
remove the lamb and reserve. Lower the heat to medium and saute the
onions in the lamb juices until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the oregano
and garlic and cook until fragrant. Season. Add the tomato paste and
cook until it caramelizes. Deglaze with the red wine and scrape any
bits up that have adhered to the pan. Add the lamb back in, stir and
set aside.

For the sandwich build: Schmear the tzatziki on the pitas, then place
on the lamb and top with cucumber tomato relish.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Asian Meatball Subs With Hoisin Mayonnaise

I don't remember where I found this recipe originally, but a quick search turned up the food network site, so I am assuming I got it there.  It was pretty good; my husband loved it.  We both think that there was way to much bread for the filling.  We thought maybe in lettuce next time?  You also can't be stingy with the sauce.  I was at first thinking of it like mayo, but it is more like a 1/4 mayo and you really need a lot at least with all that bread. With extra sauce and some hot sauce, I did really enjoy it.  I just want to say thank you to Gwynne because we changed the dinner to this dish since we broke out the fryer for her party, we wanted to use it while it was out and full of oil.  Also, my husband, wanted to try a french fry technique that he heard on an NPR show.  Most restaurants use a twice fried method of making their fries.  One at a lower temp to cook the potato through and a second time at a higher temp to crisp the outside.  The show he was listening to (I believe the guest was from America's Test Kitchen) said that the same results can be achieved by starting the potatoes in cold oil.  While at at a restaurant, this would be hard since the fryers are always on, at home, where a double fry would be a lot of work, it is totally doable. The fries were awesome!
Asian Meatball Subs With Hoisin Mayonnaise

1 sl white sandwich bread
1 1/2 T  milk
1 t  soy sauce
5    scallions,white and green parts separated
1 1/4 lb ground pork
3    large cloves garlic,finely grated
1 T  finely grated peeled ginger (about a 2 inch piece)
1/3 c  water chestnuts,drained, rinsed and chopped
1    large egg,lightly beaten
1/3 c  chopped fresh cilantro
1 1/2 t  toasted sesame oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 c  hoisin sauce
1/4 c  mayonnaise
2 1/2 T  fresh lime juice
3    to 4 teaspoons Asian chili-garlic sauce
Peanut or vegetable oil,for frying
1 c  bean sprouts
4    7-inch-long pieces baguette split open
Tear the sandwich bread into small pieces, then toss with the milk
and soy sauce in a large bowl. Let stand 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, mince the scallion whites. Cut the scallion greens into thin
2-inch-long strands. Put the strands in a bowl of ice water and
refrigerate while you make the meatballs.
Add the scallion whites, pork, garlic, ginger, water chestnuts, egg,
cilantro, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon
pepper to the bowl with the bread; mix until combined. Gently form into
16 golf ball-size meatballs. Put the meatballs on a baking sheet, cover
with plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 to 4 hours.
Stir the hoisin sauce, mayonnaise, 11/2 tablespoons lime juice, the
chili-garlic sauce and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil in a
medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Heat about 1 1/2 inches peanut oil in a large, wide saucepan over
medium heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 350 degrees F. Add
the meatballs in batches and cook, turning occasionally, until browned
and cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined
plate to drain.
Drain the scallion greens and toss with the bean sprouts, the remaining
1 tablespoon lime juice and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Spread the
hoisin mayonnaise on the inside of the baguette pieces, then fill with
the meatballs and top with the scallion-sprout mixture.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Roasted Butternut Squash Pasta


Tonight I revisit a recipe I haven't made in a long time.  This one was once a frequent item in our kitchen but for some reason it fell by the way side for a while.  Perhaps it is because it is a simple recipe and I was looking to tackle more difficult items.  Perhaps it is just like most things in life and just part of a cyclical pattern.  My determination to have a year of different meals hurt and helped this little dish.  It got pushed away in the beginning (we are now about day 260 of that year) but ultimately I guess I was longing for an  oldie but goodie and I happened to get a lovely butternut squash in my Front Porch Pickings basket.  I left out the optional meat, but I do really like it with the prosciutto.  I usually just put a couple of slices in the toaster and toast until crispy. (it depends on your toaster oven but mine works best on the medium/ light setting) I am going to need to keep this post short, as I am helping a friend do the food for her party.

Roasted Butternut Squash Pasta

1/2    a butternut squash peeled seeded and roughly chopped
1    medium onion roughly chopped
5    -10 cloves of garlic,peeled and cut in ½
3/4 box of linguine or other wide pasta
1 t Sage
2 t  Brown sugar
Optional,crumbled cooked bacon or "toasted" prosciutto
1.Preheat oven to 375
2.Put the squash, onion, garlic, sugar, salt, pepper and olive oil in a
Ziploc bag and toss to coat
3.Roast veggies for about 35-45minutes (until nice and soft)
4.Cook the pasta so it will get done with the veggies
5.toss the pasta and veggies together with sage and some more olive oil

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Gumbo

Guest Chef tonight!!! This is dad/husband sitting in on the blog, so forgive the typos and creative spellings that are inevitable as I hunt and peck my way across the keyboard.  My wife and I don't see eye-to-eye on a few things, and gumbo is assuredly one of them.  For me, it is one of the best things to ever come out of ours, or any other kitchen...for my wife, not so much.  I don't know how long it has been since I've made gumbo.  I know it is a PBE (pre-blog-era) food, but it has probably been five years since our last gumbo, because our son claims to have never eaten it before.  Gumbo is a labor of love, so if you are not sure it is a food you like, let someone else make it for you the first time, or you will curse the colossal waste of time you will spend tediously stirring your roux.  The shopping list can be as basic or as complicated as you like, but the ingredients listed in this recipe should make it into the pot in some quantity.  The fine folks at Wikipedia just told me that the gumbo that I make is Cajun gumbo, which uses a dark roux, rather than Creole gumbo that has different thickeners.  Make no mistake, what makes this gumbo awesome is the roux, do not take this step lightly, attempt shortcuts,  leave unattended, try to rush it, stop stirring, or call it done before it is dark enough.  The roux must be cooked on low to medium-low heat in a large, heavy pot, and stirred constantly with a wooden spoon (I prefer the wooden spoon that is flat on the bottom, is this still a spoon?).  Have your veggies and meat chopped and ready ahead of time, because you will not have a free hand for quite some time now.  Start with equal parts of vegetable oil and flour.   Stir constantly until fully blended.  Once fully blended, continue stirring constantly.  Soon you will begin to see that nothing is happening.  Don't stop stirring!  Also don't splash yourself, just because nothing has changed, doesn't mean it isn't hot!  Continue stirring and you will eventually notice that your roux looks exactly the same as when you first started.  Don't give up yet, and if you need another drink, or have to use the facilities, have someone take over for you.   Just when you have begun to give up hope, you will start to notice a change, first in the presence of a nutty aroma, and then a slight change in color.  You won't believe your eyes at first, but remain optimistic, the color will start to change much more quickly now.  Don't stop now, keep going past caramel, beyond peanut butter, and when you are almost to maple syrup, then and only then should you add the veggies and stand back, there is a risk of steam burns at this point.  After the veggies cook for 3-4 minutes add the sausage.  Allow to cook on medium low for 3 more minutes, and then add the broth, hot sauce, cayenne, and salt.  Serve with rice if you wish, but eating it alone as a stew is OK by me.  The boy loved it, and so did the girl, so I am optimistic that we can gang up on mom and have it again in the near future!

Veggies:
1 onion chopped
1 large bell pepper chopped
8 stalks of celery chopped
(the above ingredients are not negotiable)
1 jalapeno pepper minced
5 garlic cloves minced
add any other veggies you have hanging around that you think will go well.
Roux:
3 cups vegetable oil
3 cups flour
Meat:
2-2.5 pounds of meat.
I used sausage only in this recipe (andouille, southern smoked, linguica, or even kielbasa would be welcome). 
Diced chicken or fish or really any meat at all will be fine, remember the flavor comes from the roux.
*if you use shrimp, be careful not to add until the very end, as it is easy to overcook.
Broth:
48 ounces of stock (chicken, beef, or seafood depending on your meat choice)
salt to taste
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Broiled Tilapia With Mustard-Chive Sauce

I wanted to do something lighter tonight.  I found his dish from Giada De Laurentiis on the food network website.  I didn't have high hopes because it was lighter but I do like Giada's recipes so I thought I would give it a go.  It was very tasty.  The yogurt gives the illusion of  cream. (yes it is full fat yogurt but there isn't much) So a light dish that tricks you in to thinking that it is not. And while it wasn't an OMG dish, it was very good for light dish.  My husband and I both thought a little more mustard would have been nice; the boy ate a double portion;).
Broiled Tilapia With Mustard-Chive Sauce

Fish
Vegetable oil cooking spray
4    (5 to 6-ounce) tilapia fillets
Extra-virgin olive oil,for drizzling
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Sauce
1/4 c  plain,full-fat Greek yogurt
2 t  agave nectar or honey
1 t  Dijon mustard
1/4 c  lemon juice (from 1 large lemon)
2 T  chopped fresh chives
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the fish: Preheat a broiler. Spray a small baking sheet or glass
baking dish with vegetable oil cooking spray. Set aside.
Drizzle the tilapia fillets on both sides with olive oil and season
with salt and pepper. Arrange the fillets in a single layer on the
prepared baking sheet and broil until cooked through and the flesh
flakes easily with a fork, about 6 to 8 minutes. Set aside to cool
slightly.
For the sauce: In a small bowl, mix together the yogurt, agave nectar,
and mustard until smooth. Whisk in the lemon juice and chives. Season
with salt and pepper, to taste.
Transfer the tilapia to a serving platter and drizzle with the sauce.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Strawberry Daiquiris


Well after a long day at the beach that included a pretty good hike around the nature trails of a local park, we had a late lunch of some giant slices of pizza at Lenny's.  We were all too full at dinner time to want to eat. Totally worth it; it was a great day of playing in some big waves, building enormous sandcastles and hiking through some beautiful scenery.  What goes better with beach than daiquiris?  Not too much.  So we invited some friends over to have some drinks and have a game night.  This is my mother's recipe for strawberry daiquiris but we also switched out the fruit and made some mango ones too.  It must be the heat, senioritis, or  whatever but I have totally slacked since Sunday.  I got to get back to work on proper meals tomorrow!  We did serve some meat, cheese and fruit with the drinks.  And after the company left, we nibbled on some leftovers, but those don't count as a recipe;).  So instead I share my mom's recipe that has been on every family vacation since my brother and I turned 21.

Strawberry Daiquiris

1    Frozen Package of strawberries in syrup (10 oz) (we used plain IQF strawberries)
1    small frozen limeade concentrate (6 oz)
1/2 cn of sprite
6 oz of white rum (or more or less as you like)
2    handfuls of ice

This is kind of complicated to pay attention to the steps
1.Blend

My Mother's recipe and she notes: Enjoy it is great any time but always on vacations! lol

Monday, June 18, 2012

Rhubarb Crumb Bars

Ok I am kind of cheating.  This was made as part of last night's Father's day dinner for my husband, but I knew we were going out to eat tonight so I made last night's desert tonight's post:).  Even though we went out, it was a fun family experience consistent with my whole eating dinner with the family mantra.  Unfortunately I have no control over how unprocessed it is but hey it was worth the trade off.  We ate dinner at a local restaurant we had gift certificates for.  Then walked over to the beach and strolled up and down the water as the last light faded from the sky.  The kids loved running on the sand and making footprints.  I showed them the turtle nests we needed to avoid. (big mistake for the 2 year old.  She all of a sudden became afraid the baby turtles were going to bite her.  No I have no idea why; one of her favorite stuffed animals is a baby turtle)  So a refreshing stroll after dinner then back towards the car and got a quart of our favorite coconut ice cream to take home from Hershey's ice cream just off the beach.  It was a great night.  So I feel only slightly bad for cheating.  This is a favorite of all of ours.  I wish there was more rhubarb, but as I am not a strong baker, (yet:) I am afraid to mess with the recipe.  Will additional fruit make it soggy?  It is still yummy light on fruit!

Rhubarb Crumb Bars

 FOR THE STREUSEL
6 T  unsalted butter,melted, plus room-temperature butter for
1 c  all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled),plus more for pan
1/2 c  packed light-brown sugar
1/4 t  salt
FOR THE CAKE
1/2 lb rhubarb,cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 T  light-brown sugar
1 c  all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1/2 t  baking powder
1/4 t  salt
1/2 c  (1 stick) unsalted butter room temperature
1 c  confectioners' sugar
2    large eggs
1/2 t  pure vanilla extract
[Note: Prep: 25 minutesTotal: 1 1/4 hours, plus cooling Rhubarb and
strawberries are a great match. You can substitute half the rhubarb
with an equal weight of quartered berries.  ]
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. Line
with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides. Butter
and flour parchment and pan, tapping out excess flour.
Make streusel: Whisk together butter, brown sugar, and salt. Add flour
and mix with a fork until large crumbs form. Refrigerate until ready to
use.
Make cake: In a medium bowl, combine rhubarb, brown sugar, and 1/4 cup
flour. In another medium bowl, whisk 3/4 cup flour, baking powder, and
salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and
confectioners' sugar until light and fluffy; beat in eggs, one at a
time.  With mixer on low, beat in vanilla, then flour mixture. Spread
batter in prepared pan. Sprinkle with rhubarb and top with streusel.
Bake cake until golden and a toothpick inserted in center comes out
with moist crumbs attached, 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool completely in
pan. Using paper overhang, lift cake from pan. Cut into 16 bars

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Crispy Roast Chicken And Shallots With Miso Gravy

Happy Father's day all you dads out there!  I let my husband choose tonight's dinner.  He choose this one because of the word crispy.  I got to say it was a darn good choice.  We all loved the moist chicken and the unbelievable gravy.  I think this is what I want to  make for thanksgiving from now on.  Shallots to add some $$ to the price of the dish, so to avoid that you could use very small onions quartered or pearl onions halved.  We bought a whole chicken and cut it into breasts and whole legs.  The wings, which weren't called for in the recipe, went into the freezer for future broths.  I used the red miso as that was what was available at my nearby health food store.  When salting the shallots and chicken, go light and make sure to use the reduced sodium chicken broth.  It is easy to over do it and the resulting gravy will be too salty. I served it with mashed potatoes and arugula salad.  I got exactly what I wanted with this dish, an over the top tasty meal that looked impressive too. 


I would like to give a big and heartfelt THANK YOU, to the Saucy Gourmet for nominating me for the versatile blogger award. (its a great blog, go check it out!)

The rules of this award are:
1. Thank the Blogger who nominated you.
2. Include a link to their site
3. Include the award imagine to your post.
4. Include the award image on your blog.
5. Give 7 random facts about yourself.
6. Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award.
7. When nominating other bloggers, include links to their sites
8. Let those bloggers know they have been nominated.

Ok 7 random facts....

1) I performed a belly dance routine with my instructor and 2 friends at my baby shower 8 1/2 months pregnant.
2) I have been... lets say swarmed (since attacked it a bit much) by animals in 3 countries (4 different cities) All when trying to feed them. They obviously did NOT fear me. (ducks, pelicans, pigeons and squirrels)
3) I love reading; Sci fi and fantasy are among my favorites
4) I love video games (yes I am the cool mom lol)
5) I'm a stay at home mom
6) I'm a nerd and proud of it:)
7) I am much less fascinating than I thought because it was hard to come up with 7 random facts that won't bore the pants off you;)

As for nominations, this was harder than the facts! But while there are so many great blogs, I wanted to recognize the following: (in no particular order)

1) Laurie"s Cravings
2) Palatable Jazz
3) Nilawan
4) We Are Not Foodies
5) Feed Your Soul
6) Noshing With the Nolands
7) Chef Dennis
8) Awkard Kitchenette
9) Saturday Night Suppers
10) Sarah Cupcake
11) European Cutie
12) Olivia Jason Kim
13) Baker Street
14) Virtual Wine Bar
15) Griffin's Grub


Crispy Roast Chicken And Shallots With Miso Gravy

8    medium shallots,7 halved lengthwise, 1 minced
2 T  extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 c  white (shiro) or red (aka) miso
4 T  unsalted butter,softened
2 T  minced flat-leaf parsley
2 T  finely chopped chives
2 t  finely grated fresh ginger
1 T  all-purpose flour
4 lb chicken breasts and whole legs on the bone,with skin
1 c  low-sodium chicken broth
1.Preheat the oven to 425. In a large roasting pan, toss the halved
shallots with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
2.In a medium bowl, mix the miso with the minced shallot, butter,
parsley, chives and ginger. Transfer 3 tablespoons of the miso butter
to a bowl and stir in the flour to form a paste.
3.With your fingers, gently separate the chicken skin from the breasts
and legs. Carefully work the remaining miso butter under the loosened
skin, spreading it evenly. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and
transfer to the roasting pan.
4.Roast the chicken in the center of the oven for 45 minutes, or until
the skin is browned and the juices run clear when the meat is pierced
with a knife. Transfer the chicken and shallots to a platter and cover
loosely with foil.
5.Pour the pan juices into a small saucepan and skim off the fat. Set
the roasting pan over high heat. Add the chicken broth and cook,
scraping up the browned bits from the bottom and sides of the roasting
pan with a wooden spoon. Pour the deglazed drippings into the small
saucepan and bring to a boil. Whisk in the miso-flour paste and simmer
until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Transfer the miso gravy to a
bowl and serve at once with the chicken and shallots.

Make Ahead
The shallot-miso butter can be refrigerated overnight. Let soften
before using. .

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Kale Chips With Almond Butter And Miso

I know I am trying to do a year of different dinners, but I am going to have to amend that to a a year of different recipes.  I got green beans again from my Front Porch Pickings basket and I have to make Fusilli with Green Beans, Pancetta and Parmigiano again.  It was just too good, but I am making kale chips with the kale I got in the basket.  I adore kale chips and this recipe looked so good, and I happen to have miso on hand for the dinner my husband requested for father's day.  Two things about the ingredient list. 1) Almond butter is quite pricey.  You can make your own. Click here to see one way to make it. 2) I love nutritional yeast!  It is my absolute favorite popcorn topping.  I love it on buttered toast.  I am always looking for ways to use it.  It is available on line or at health food stores.  I like it when it is sold in bulk.  Much better prices that way.  I told my son when he was like 2 that it was cheesy powder.  The name has stuck, and he still loves it. Oh and I did deviate a bit, I used red miso.  It was what was called for in tomorrow night's dinner.  I liked the result, but next time, an even thin layer of the sauce is crucial.  I didn't and those parts with extra didn't crisp up enough,  but still really tasty.  Go light on the salt at the end:)

Kale Chips With Almond Butter And Miso

1/2 c  almond butter
1/4 c  warm water
1/4 c  chopped onion
3 T  extra-virgin olive oil,plus more for greasing
2    garlic cloves,chopped
1 T  white miso
1 T  nutritional yeast
1 T  chopped fresh oregano
1 T  chopped fresh thyme
2 t  cider vinegar
2 t  tamari
1/4 t  turmeric
1/4 t  crushed red pepper
1 1/2 lb curly kale,leaves left whole and stems discarded
Sea salt
1. Preheat the oven to 200 and position 3 racks spaced evenly apart.
In a blender or food processor, puree all of the ingredients except the
kale and salt.
2. Grease 3 large rimmed baking sheets with olive oil and divide the
kale leaves among them. Drizzle the almond-butter mixture over the kale
and rub each leaf to season evenly. Arrange the kale on the sheets in
an even layer and season with salt. Bake for about 1 hour and 40
minutes, until the leaves are crisp. Switch the pans a few times during
baking and rearrange to help them cook evenly. Let cool, then carefully
lift the kale chips off the baking sheets with a spatula and serve.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Grilled Broccoli With Chipotle-Lime Butter And Queso Fresco

Tonight we had a bit of our own burger throw down.  We invited some dear friends (who made the most tasty Champagne mojito!) over to help us decide which burger was better, the BLT Burger with Garlicky Mayonnaise or the Italian Sausage Burger with Garlicky Spinach.  The sausage burger won hands down.  It's kind of sad really to see this BLT burger we absolutely loved, paled in comparison to the sausage one when they were eaten only 3 days apart they seemed so close.  It might be that the beef was more well done than we wanted.  We were testing making them as sliders and which bun worked better.  As a side we wanted to try this grilled broccoli recipe.  It was good but had some issues. Issue one, there was way too much liquid and the butter would not incorporate all of it.  We used a pinch of cream of tarter and a blender to finally mix it completely together. Issue two was it was no where as good as the similar grilled corn recipe.  Not bad, but not great.  I did like the slight char on the broccoli; it gave it a nice flavor. It is a keeper but I think the butter might need a tweak.

Grilled Broccoli With Chipotle-Lime Butter And Queso Fresco

6 T  unsalted butter,softened
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime
1 T  Tabasco Chipotle Sauce
1 t  honey
1    garlic clove,finely grated on a Microplane
Salt
4    heads of broccoli—stems trimmed,cut into large florets
Olive oil,for drizzling
1 c  crumbled queso fresco
1. In a bowl, stir the softened butter with the lime zest, lime
juice, Tabasco, honey and garlic and season lightly with salt.
2. Light a grill. Drizzle the broccoli florets with olive oil and
season with salt. Grill over moderately high heat, turning the florets
occasionally, until crisp-tender and lightly charred, about 8 minutes.
3. Transfer the broccoli to a platter and toss with the lime butter.
Garnish with the queso fresco and serve.
Make Ahead
The chipotle-lime butter can be refrigerated overnight. Soften it at
room temperature before using.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Baked Ziti

While this is a tasty dish, it is more notable for is ease and versatility.  Nothing could be simpler and who isn't comforted by baked pasta.  I made this and put it in the oven before going to my monthly wine tasting with the girls at Ormond Wine Co.  My darling husband didn't take a picture. That's ok, I don't have a real recipe;).  One on the things that makes this tasty (and easy) is the fact that the pasta is cooked in flavorful liquid.  It is completely adaptable to what you like in a pasta.  You want meat?  Brown some up and mix it in with the pasta before cooking.  You like veggies?  Throw them in.  This is a great dish to use up leftovers.  Any meat or veg from the previous night should taste great.  (ok maybe that hot curry from the night before wouldn't work but I game if you are lol)  I haven't tried it yet, but since it cooks for so long, any veg that tastes good boiled could go in raw in theory.  I even made a small baking dish of pasta without cheese for my dad who hates cheese. (yes I think the same thing, who hates cheese?) I am giving you the basic recipe, but I have mixed it up in all kinds of ways by changing the cheese, adding ricotta, using left over meats and/ or veggies and even cooking some sausage up for it.  Because it is an "easy" dish, I break a bit of a rule of mine and use jarred sauce.  Now I think that is ok as long as you read your ingredient label and a kid can pronounce all of the ingredients.


Baked Ziti

1 pound box of Ziti
1 (24 ounce)  jar of good quality pasta sauce
2 cups Mozzarella, shredded

Preheat the oven to 400
Put the pasta in a 9"x13" baking dish
Pour the sauce over the top
Fill the sauce jar  with water and pour into the baking dish
Stir to combine
Top with the cheese in an even layer
Cover with foil and bake 45 minutes
Uncover and cook for about 15 minutes or until the top is browned a bit

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Beef Burgers With Blue Cheese And Caramelized Onions

Well even though we have narrowed our burger choices for the next progressive dinner down to two, I am enjoying trying all kinds of burger recipes and making great use of our new grill.  Tonight's was very good, not  near as great as the BLT Burgers with Garlicky Mayonnaise or the Italian Sausage Burgers with Garlicky Spinach but pretty good! I didn't measure out the blue cheese; I just gave my husband all of it to put on the burgers as needed.  He thought he was supposed to use all of it.  Needless to say we had too much cheese on the burger and had to take some off.  Other than that, I really liked it.  You could smell and taste the tarragon.  I'm usually not a huge fan of tarragon (which I found out is names so since it looks like a dragon tongue:) but I liked it in this.  I also used an onion roll not the brioche or challah as I had onion rolls on hand.

Beef Burgers With Blue Cheese And Caramelized Onions

2    Tbs. unsalted butter
2    medium yellow onions chopped (about 2 cups)
1    -1/2 lb. ground beef (preferably 85% lean)
1    Tbs. chopped fresh tarragon
1    Tbs. Dijon mustard
1    Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
Vegetable oil,for the grill
4 oz blue cheese,crumbled (about 1 cup)
4    brioche or challah rolls split
Prepare a medium-high gas or charcoal grill fire.
Melt the butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium-low heat. Add the
onions and cook, stirring often, until golden and soft, about 20
minutes;  reduce the heat to low if the onions begin to brown too
quickly.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, thoroughly mix the beef, tarragon, mustard,
and Worcestershire sauce with your hands. Form the mixture into four
1/2- inch-thick patties.
Oil the grill grate. Grill the burgers, covered, for 3 minutes. Flip
the burgers and top with the cheese. Cover and continue to cook until
an instant-read thermometer inserted into a burger registers 130F for
medium rare, about 4 minutes more, or 145F for medium, about 6 minutes
more.
When the burgers are nearly done, toast the rolls cut side down on the
grill until browned and heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve the
burgers in the rolls, topped with the caramelized onions.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Peanut Butter Pie

I try to make my husband a desert every now and again,  I am not a baker, but he has a sweet tooth and I like to learn new skills.  His all time favorite combination is peanut butter and chocolate.  Give him a Reese's or a nutty bar and he is a happy guy.  In fact before we had kids, I used to give him nutty bars as a "father's day" present from the dog.  I decided to try a peanut butter pie.  This recipe is pretty easy and makes a tasty but off the charts rich pie.  I like a lighter and fluffier PB pie; this one is more like cheesecake.  It's kind of a good thing that he loves it and I think it's alright;).  In a weird genetic quark, my son, who will never turn down sweets when he can get them, doesn't like peanut butter and chocolate.  If he didn't look so much like my husband I would think maybe we had someone else's child.  Its not like I don't enjoy PB and chocolate!

Peanut Butter Pie

Chocolate Crust
1 1/2 c  (150 grams) chocolate wafer crumbs or Oreo Cookie crumbs
2 T  (30 grams) granulated white sugar
6 T  (85 grams) unsalted butter melted
Peanut Butter Filling
8    ounces (227 grams) cream cheese,room temperature
1 c  (240 ml) peanut butter creamy or chunky
1 c  (115 grams) confectioners sugar (powdered or icing)
2 t  pure vanilla extract
1/2 c  (120 ml) heavy whipping cream (double cream) (contains 36-40% butterfat)
Ganache
4    ounces (120 grams) semi-sweet chocolate coarsely chopped
1/4 c  (60 ml) heavy whipping cream (double cream) (contains 36-40% butterfat)
1 T  (13 grams) unsalted butter cut in small pieces
Garnish,(Optional)
Chopped Salted Peanuts

Chocolate Crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and
place oven rack in the center of the oven. Have ready a 9 inch (23 cm)
pie pan.   (A 9 inch spring form pan can be used.)
In a large bowl, mix together the chocolate crumbs, sugar, and melted
butter. Press onto the bottom and up the sides of the pie pan. (If
using a spring form pan, press the crumb mixture onto the bottom and
about one inch (2.5 cm) up the sides of the pan.) Place in the
preheated oven and bake for about 8 - 10 minutes or until firm. Remove
from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.
Peanut Butter Filling: In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a
hand mixer, beat the cream cheese and peanut butter until well blended
and smooth. Add the sugar and beat until fluffy. Scrape down the sides
of the bowl and beat in the vanilla extract. In a clean bowl, beat the
whipping cream until soft peaks form. With a rubber spatula, fold the
whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture. Pour the filling over the
cooled chocolate crust and smooth the top. Cover loosely and place in
the refrigerator for 3-4 hours or until firm.
Ganache: Melt the chocolate, cream, and butter in a stainless steel
bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water. Remove from heat and
let cool to room temperature and then spread the ganache over the
peanut butter filling. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts, if desired. Cover
and place in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight. The
Peanut Butter Pie will keep about one week in the refrigerator. Serve
in small slices.
Serves about 12 people

Monday, June 11, 2012

Croque-Madame Sandwiches

Today we had our 'dinner' at lunchtime since my husband will be away at dinner time.  I had always wanted to try a croque madam but have never made it before.  It was very good but very rich!  I had bread which had very large slices of bread so we all had too much to eat since it was so rich.  Half sandwiches for everyone next time;).

Croque-Madame Sandwiches

 5    Tbs. unsalted butter
2    -1/2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
1    -3/4 cup milk (whole or low-fat)
2    Tbs. brandy
2 t  Worcestershire sauce
1/4 t  fresh thyme
1/4 t  grated nutmeg
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 sl country-style white sandwich bread
4 t  Dijon mustard
4 oz Gruyère,grated (1 cup)
12 oz leftover roasted fresh ham sliced (or substitute sliced roast pork
1/2 oz Parmigiano-Reggiano,finely grated (1/2 cup)
4    large eggs,at room temperature
Melt 2 Tbs. of the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat.
Whisk in the flour and continue whisking just until it turns beige,
about 20 seconds. Whisk in the milk in a slow, steady stream; continue
whisking until smooth, thickened, and slightly bubbling, 2 to 3 minutes.
Whisk in the brandy, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, nutmeg, 1/4 tsp.
salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Whisk for 30 seconds; then remove from the
heat and set aside, whisking occasionally to prevent a skin from
forming.
Position a rack 4 inches from the broiler element and heat the broiler
on high.
Spread four of the bread slices on one side with 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
each. Layer the Gruyre and ham on the bread in this pattern: cheese,
ham,  cheese. Top with the remaining bread.
Melt 1 Tbs. of the butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Cook
2 of the sandwiches until brown and crisp, turning once halfway through
the cooking, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. Repeat
with another tablespoon of butter and the remaining 2 sandwiches.
Ladle the bchamel sauce over the sandwiches (it will run down the
sides) , and then top with the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Broil until
bubbling and lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a 10-inch nonstick skillet, melt the remaining 1 Tbs.
butter over medium heat. Crack the eggs into the skillet and fry them
sunny side up until the whites are set but the yolks are still runny, 3
to 4 minutes.
Use a large, flat spatula to transfer the sandwiches to serving plates.
Place a fried egg on each. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Chicken Saltimbocca With Lemon Sauce


I had planned on making a Chicken Saltimbocca recipe I had gotten from Food & Wine that was contributed by Lidia Bastianich.  I love that recipe and I was convinced it was pre blog so I could safely make it.  WRONG.  I had made it back in October.  Well what am I to do?  I don't want a repeat.  I have another saltimbocca recipe from Publix apron meals,  It is fast but not as good as the recipe by LB.  So to the computer and I found this one from Bon Appetit on food.com. (as always click the title to get to the original recipe when I know the source:)  It was quite good. I made a pasta sauce with some leftover marinara,wine, sun dried tomato pesto, garlic, olive oil, ricotta and cream.  It wasn't too bad and it got rid of 4 things in my fridge!  yay No wait 5 things.  I had accidentally cooked too much pasta a couple of days back so I was using that up too!

Chicken Saltimbocca With Lemon Sauce 

4    boneless skinless chicken breast halves
8    large fresh sage leaves
8 sl prosciutto (about 3 ounces thinly sliced)
1/2 c  all-purpose flour,plus
2 t  all-purpose flour
1 T  butter
1 1/2 T  olive oil
2 T  dry white wine
1/2 c  low sodium chicken broth
2 T  fresh lemon juice

1 Place chicken between 2 sheets of plastic wrap on work surface.
2 Using mallet, pound chicken to 1/3-inch thickness.
3 Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.
4 Place 2 sage leaves atop each chicken breast half.
5 Top each chicken breast with 2 prosciutto slices, pressing to adhere.
6 Spread 1/2 cup flour on plate.
7 Turn chicken in flour to lightly coat both sides
8 Melt butter with oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
9 Add chicken, prosciutto side down; cook 4 minutes.
10 Turn chicken over and cook just until cooked through, about 3 minutes.
11 Transfer to platter and cover to keep warm; reserve skillet.
12 Whisk wine with remaining 2 teaspoons flour in small bowl.
13 Add broth and lemon juice to same skillet; bring to boil.
14 Add wine mixture; whisk until sauce thickens slightly, about 30
seconds.
15 Season to taste with salt and pepper.
16 Spoon sauce over chicken.


Saturday, June 9, 2012

Spaghetti Squash With Ricotta, Sage, Pignoli, And Parmesan

Having recently been reacquainted with an old love (spaghetti squash), I decided to make it again. That is one of the wonderful things about getting a local/ seasonal produce basket.  Not only are you eating better quality foods, at a better price, and supporting local farmers, but it expands your palette.  You discover or are reintroduced to fruits and veggies that have eluded you. This dish served as the starch and veg of our meal.  With it I broiled some coho salmons with a thin layer of homemade Honey Mustard.  I went a little lighter on the pine nuts than the original recipe called for because a) I;m not the biggest fan and b) they are pricey.  I liked this recipe a lot.  The nuttiness of the pine nuts and brown butter were perfect with the sweet/earthy flavor of the squash.  The only issue I had with the dish was that when I salted and peppered, I left it a little under salted because of the parm that was to go on top.  Since it is so salty, I didn't want it to put it over top salt wise.  It didn't so we needed more salt at the table.  Easily fixed.

Spaghetti Squash With Ricotta, Sage, Pignoli, And Parmesan

1    whole Medium Spaghetti Squash (about 2 Pounds)
1/2 T  Unsalted Butter
2 ea Garlic,Minced
1 T  Minced Fresh Sage Leaves
3/4 c  Whole Milk Ricotta
1 oz Pine Nuts,(pignoli), Toasted
Salt And Pepper To Taste
1 T  (up To 2 Tablespoons) Parmesan Cheese
1. Cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds,
and microwave on high for 6-8 minutes. Shred the flesh with a fork and
then scoop it out with a big spoon into a casserole dish.
2. Heat the butter over medium heat until nut brown. Add the garlic
and sage leaves, saute until garlic is straw-colored, then add to the
squash.
3. Add the ricotta, pine nuts, salt, and pepper to the squash. Smooth
out the top.
4. Sprinkle the top evenly with a layer of Parmesan.
5. Broil until the top is brown in spots.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Agua Fresca

I didn't cook dinner tonight.  I insisted on finishing all the leftovers in the fridge.  It is the beginning of summer vacation and I want my fridge free to cook up a storm.  But I did make the drinks for tonight's dinner.  I used the lovely pineapple mint that came in my Front Porch Pickings basket.  The kid's and I loved it. It is a lovely refreshing drink for hot summer days.  I also like that you can control the sweetness. I think for summer parties this would be a great beverage because you can serve it to everyone, but can spike it with some rum for the adults that are so inclined.  It is also super easy.  It is best freshly blended; it tends to separate a bit after it sits.


Watermelon And Mint "Agua Fresca" (Fresh Fruit-Blended Water)
8 Servings

4 c  watermelon,seeded and cubed (about 3 pounds)
1/2 c  water
24    mint leaves,divided
8 T  super-fine sugar (adjust if too sweet when using a naturally sweeter watermelon),divided
4    very thin lime slices halved into half moons, divided
Add the watermelon and the water to a blender, and puree until
smooth. Divide the mint leaves, sugar and lime slices among 8 glasses
and muddle the ingredients. Add ice to each glass and pour in the
watermelon agua fresco. Stir and serve.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Twiced Baked Potatoes

Not a great or fancy dinner tonight but it was good enough.  I decided to use up the bits of green pepper. jalapeno and onion in the fridge in twice baked potatoes.  I was going to make the potatoes O'Brien of my youth, but it seemed like too much work.  Twice baked potatoes are a great way to use up odds and ends.  In addition to using up some produce, I got rid of 2 oz of goat cheese and some Monterrey jack too.  Basically to make twice baked potatoes, you bake them, scrape out the insides and make mashed potatoes of them and add whatever ingredients to them you fancy and bake them again about 20-30 minutes. Everything should be cooked before it goes in to the potato. I sauteed the veggies and added them to the mashed potatoes I made from the baked ones.  The only thing that I think is super important, is to make mashed potatoes with a ricer.  It makes a world of difference.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Fusilli With Green Beans, Pancetta, And Parmigiano

We are a crunchy veggie type of family and this recipe totally delivers on that.  I got these lovely green beans from my Front Porch Pickings basket.  Almost the same day I got this recipe from finecooking.com.  I took it as fate and put it into my recipe queue.  Oh thank you fate!  I love this recipe for so many reasons. First of all, I love a recipe that calls for a 1/2 a box of pasta rather than the full pound or worse the 3/4 box that leaves you with a 1/4 box to take up space in the pantry. (see my insanity posts to learn about my battles with the pantry and the fridge) This is perfect in that you have enough to make the recipe again and that it is a bit light on the pasta for the traditional recipe for four. (yes it says 2-3 in the original recipe, but with a salad it is plenty for 4) I love this recipe because it is simple and allows the veggies to shine without covering them with a ton of other flavors; I love that it is delicious, simple, fast and full of pantry staples.  My husband and I eat a wide variety of things and enjoy most of them; my son is still developing his tastes but eats more variety  (even if not totally happily) than any kid I know so I wasn't surprised when he ate heartily. However, the 2 year old, is totally about control (the parents know out there know why its called the terrible twos) and she, thankfully, exerts most of her control of her food by demanding fruit and refusing carbs and green foods.  She ate almost an entire 1/4 of the dish! The whole time repeating I love green beans; I love pasta! (again parents you know all to well the repetitiveness of a two year old:)   I did serve it with a small salad but only because I can't allow myself to count as my only veggie a starchy one like green beans.  It is a favorite for sure!  I can't believe how simple the sauce is.  Only word of advice; the pancetta and the parm are very salty.  You won't need much when seasoning.

Fusilli With Green Beans, Pancetta, And Parmigiano

Kosher salt
1/2 lb fusilli or other twisted pasta (I used Whole Wheat Rotini)
4 oz pancetta,sliced 1/4 inch thick and cut into 1/2" matchsticks
1    large clove garlic,smashed and peeled
1/2 lb green beans,trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths (2 c
Freshly ground black pepper
2   Tbs. unsalted butter,at room temperature
2 oz finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1 cup)
Bring a medium pot of well-salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta
until just barely al dente, about 1 minute less than package timing.
Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water, and drain the pasta.
While the pasta cooks, put the pancetta in a cold 10-inch skillet and
set over medium-high heat. When the pancetta starts sizzling, add the
garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until starting to brown, 1 minute.
Reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook the pancetta until
golden but still chewy at the center (taste a piece if youre not sure),
an additional  2 to 3 minutes. If the pancetta has rendered a lot of
its fat, spoon off all but 1 Tbs. of the fat from the pan.
Add the beans to the pan and cook, stirring constantly, until theyre
crisp-tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the garlic and season the beans
with salt and pepper. With the pan still over medium heat, add the
pasta, 1/2 cup of the pasta water, and the butter. Toss to combine. Add
another 1/4 cup pasta water and 3/4 cup of the Parmigiano. Stir well
and season to taste with salt and pepper. If necessary, add a little
more pasta water to loosen the sauce.
Transfer the pasta to a serving bowl. Grind black pepper over the top
and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

BLT Burger With Garlicky Mayonnaise

Tonight another test burger in anticipation of the upcoming progressive dinner.  This one is a close tie to the sausage burger.  OMG!  It was so good.  I did use the 2 pounds of meat, but I made 5 burgers.  I think they were still a little heavy on meat, but oh so freakin good.  My husband, who had already declared the sausage burger the one we were making, now couldn't decide between the two.  I think we may still make the sausage one, but only because there will most likely be lots of beef burgers  I used the teaspoon of hot sauce (chipotle Tabasco kind).  So here I am, sitting full and super happy with my meal and totally content when the discussion of tonight's meal begins.  We do this for thoughts for the blog, future uses of the recipe, and changes we might want to make etc...  The real star of the burger is the garlicky mayo.  It was super!  And then my husband ruin's my night by calling it baconaise.  Ewwww!  I can't believe the product that has been the focus of so much derision from us (and Stephen Colbert!) could be anything like this ambrosia.  It is crushing.  I still have no desire to try baconaise, but I will have to, perhaps, be a little kinder to it in the future.

Blt Burger With Garlicky Mayonnaise

8    strips of bacon
We had it with one of my favorite wines
8    Sun Dried Tomatoes,Oil Packed, Drained (1/4 cup)
1    garlic clove
1    chipotle in adobo sauce seeded, or 1 teaspoon hot sauce
1 t  cider vinegar
1/2 c  mayonnaise
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 lb ground beef chuck
Extra-virgin olive oil,for brushing
4    kaiser rolls,split
1 bn arugula,thick stems removed (6 ounces)
1. Light a grill. In a large skillet, cook the bacon over moderate
heat until crisp, about 7 minutes. Drain on paper towels, then chop
finely.
2. In a mini food processor, pulse the sun-dried tomatoes with the
garlic, chipotle and vinegar until finely chopped. Add the mayonnaise
and puree until smooth. Add the bacon, season with salt and pepper and
pulse just until combined.
3. Form the meat into 4 large patties, about 1 inch thick and brush
lightly with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and grill over a
medium-high fire for 9 minutes for medium meat. Brush the cut sides of
the rolls with olive oil and grill until lightly browned, about 2
minutes.
4. Spread the mayonnaise on the cut sides of the rolls and set the
burgers on the bottom halves. Top with the arugula, close the
sandwiches and serve.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Curried Spaghetti-Squash-And-Chickpea Toasts

As you may or may not know, I get a by monthly delivery of local, organic produce from Front Porch Pickings.  I was also honored to be picked to write recipes for their news letter on those same weeks.  I gave them the spaghetti squash frittata recipe I love, but also looked around for some more unusual applications for the spaghetti squash.  I happen to really like Indian spices and I think they go  well with the sweetness of the squash, but this recipe I hadn't tried yet. I liked it but I was sad that the squashes natural delicious flavor was smothered by the heavy spices.  I think it would make a lovely vegetarian meal and for a pretty healthy meal it was really tasty.  I think that the mixture would be nice over rice. We had this with salad, rice and I made 2 steaks as my husband, father and son prefer having some meat, but as there were only two we all had nice small portions and filled up on the toasts and the salad (with some very tasty peppers and tomatoes also from my FFP basket) mostly. Oh and I roasted the squash seeds and used them as the garnish:)

Curried Spaghetti-Squash-And-Chickpea Toasts

1    small spaghetti squash (about 3 pounds),halved and seeded
1/4 c  plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1    onion,chopped
1    carrot,finely chopped
1 T  ground coriander
1 1/2 t  ground cumin
1/2 t  crushed red pepper
1/2 t  finely grated orange zest
1 1/2 t  madras curry paste or curry powder
1    15-ounce can chickpeas drained
1/2 c  water
1/2 c  chopped cilantro
Grilled peasant bread and toasted pumpkin seeds,for serving
1. Preheat the oven to 350. Place the halved spaghetti squash cut
side up on a baking sheet and brush it with 2 tablespoons of the olive
oil. Season with salt and black pepper. Roast the spaghetti squash for
about 45 minutes, until the flesh is tender and lightly browned in
spots. Let cool slightly.
2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the remaining 1/4 cup of olive
oil. Add the chopped onion and carrot and cook over moderate heat,
stirring, until they are just softened, about 5 minutes. Add the
coriander, cumin, crushed red pepper, grated orange zest and curry
paste and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the
drained chickpeas and the water and simmer until the vegetables are
very tender and the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes.
3. Using a fork, rake the squash into strands; you should have about 2
1/2 cups of squash. Add the chopped cilantro and squash to the curry
and season with salt. Serve the curried squash over grilled peasant
bread, garnished with toasted pumpkin seeds.
Make Ahead The curried squash can be refrigerated overnight. Add the
chopped cilantro just before serving.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Fish With Spicy Garlic Butter

The origin of this dish is a little interesting. (at least to me;)  Long ago in the dark ages of my culinary experience, I created "Jalapeno Fish" for my son.  While not the culinary masterpiece my son thought it was, it isn't bad.  I decided now that I am a significantly better cook than I was then, I would play with the idea, so when he requests it (which he often does), we will have a better dish to eat.  We all loved the spicy butter that went with the grilled corn we had with the spicy lamb burgers a while back.  I thought that would be a great way to to jazz up the old recipe.  It is way more garlicky than hot, but it had a little heat.  In addition to the fish, I served a baguette and a salad.  I had some lovely tomatoes from my Front Porch Pickings basket.  They were wonderful. Good ingredients don't need a lot to make them tasty.  I have been making my own salad dressings for a while now, and I can't stand bottled dressings now. (Bottled dressing would have ruined these lovelies)  The simplest dressing (which can be enhanced with seasonings of your choice) was the right choice for these great ingredients I had for the salad.  If you start making your own dressings you will become spoiled too.


Fish With Spicy Garlic Butter
3 T  Spicy Garlic Butter,Recipe Bellow
4    Talapia,Or Other White Flaky Fish
1/4 c  Flour
Salt And Pepper,To Taste
1 T  Butter

Put the four on a plate and lightly coat the fish with it. Season the
fish with salt and pepper) Heat the butter in a skillet over medium
heat.   Saute the fish about 2 minutes a side. (or until cooked through)
. Remove fish to a plate and take the pan off the heat.  Add the 2
tablespoons of the compound butter and let it melt. Return the pan to
the heat and cook for about 30 seconds.   Return the fish to the pan
and coat it with the melted butter.  Place the fish on a plate and  top
the fillet with a 1/4 teaspoon of the remaining compound butter.

Spicy Garlic Butter:
2 sticks unsalted butter, slightly softened
8 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/4 habanero pepper, seeded
1/4 bunch fresh chives
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
mix ingredients.  place the butter in the center of a large square of
wax paper. fold the paper over on it's self and place a something with
a straight edge (baking sheet, square plate etc...) and slide along the
paper forcing the butter in to a tube.

Simple Salad Dresssing:
Drizzle extra virgin olive oil over the salad.  Just enought to lightly dress the salad.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Drizzle with balsamic reduction* and toss:)


I make my own by buying the Publix brand balsamic, put it in a sauce pan, add a heaping tablespoon of brown sugar and heat over medium heat.  Stiring frequently until reduced to one third of it's original volume.


Saturday, June 2, 2012

Italian-Sausage Burgers With Garlicky Spinach


I am totally not a fan of sausage.  In small bits its workable for me.  I can enjoy it on pizza or in sausage gravy but I never get it as a breakfast side or eat it as the main component as the meal.  I was making this one for the boys who love sausage. (that and my quest for an excellent burger for our next progressive dinner;) Imagine my surprise when I found myself totally digging the burger! I loved the spinach; it was awesome. I did use the anchovy paste and used only mild Italian sausage.  Next time I would like to try 1/2 mild and 1/2 hot.

Italian-Sausage Burgers With Garlicky Spinach
10    ounces baby spinach
2 T  extra-virgin olive oil,plus more for brushing
2    garlic cloves,minced
1 t  anchovy paste (optional)
Salt
1 lb sweet or hot Italian sausages (or a combination of both) casings removed
4 sl of provolone cheese
1/4 c  sun-dried-tomato pesto
4    round ciabatta rolls,split and toasted
[Note: Food & Wine reccomended a berry-inflected Zinfandel as their Pairing Suggestion   ]
1. In a large skillet, bring 1/4 inch of water to a boil. Add the
spinach and cook, stirring, until just wilted, about 1 minute; drain
and press out as much water as possible. Wipe out the skillet.
2. In the same skillet, heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil until
shimmering. Add the garlic and anchovy paste and cook over high heat,
stirring, until fragrant, 1 minute. Add the spinach, season with salt
and stir just until coated, about 10 seconds.
3. Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Using slightly moistened
hands,  form the sausage meat into four 4-inch patties, about 3/4 inch
thick. Brush the burgers with oil and grill over moderate heat until
browned and crusty on the bottom, about 5 minutes. Carefully flip the
burgers. Top with the cheese and grill until the burgers are cooked
through and the cheese is melted, about 5 minutes longer. Spread the
pesto on the rolls. Top with the burgers and spinach and serve.

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Queso Fresco Experiment

While the tide is turning in my favor in my battles with my food supplies, I know that if I am not vigilant they will regroup and then I will have to start over.  The food had some sneaky troops stationed neither in the fridge nor the pantry!  There were a plethora of tortillas, never opened, from a long time ago.  I turn to the fridge and note that there is a large block of queso fresco left over from our chilequiles.  Seeing as they are both ingredients for Mexican, but knowing that quesco fresco isn't exactly 'melting' cheese, I decide to experiment with it all and make a quesadilla and hope for the best.  So I am taking out the tortillas  and the queso before they go bad.  That's two.  I notice one lone small red pepper that some how was hiding behind the fruit and a small 1/2 of a red onion that needs to be used.  Ok all working so far.  I had the remnants of a large bag of shredded mozzarella.  Ha I will clean that up too:).  OH!  I have two open jars of salsa.  I;m going to be using one of you also. I also had some minced up onion.  What is going on with the onion in my fridge?  I round it out with an avocado that needed to be eaten today and some crema that needs to be used in the next month. (seeing how it is a bit of a speciality item, it should be used whenever it can be) All in all it came out pretty good.  No the cheese didn't really melt much.  It was kind of like fresh mozzarella in that it softened but not really melted. Tomorrow, a proper recipe!

Improv Quesadilla Experiment

1/2    Red Onion,Sliced
1 sm Red Bell Peppers,Sliced
6    Tortillas
Butter
12 sl Queso Fresco
1/4 t  Maggi Seasoning
1/2 t  Cumin
1/2 t  Chili Powder
1/2 c  Mozzarella
Crema,For Garnish
Cilantro,For Garnish
Salsa,For Garnish
Onion,Minced,For Garnish
Avocado,Sliced,For Garnish
Melt some butter in the pan and saute the onions and red pepper. Add
the cumin, chili powder and maggi and stir and cook for one more minute.
Remove them to a plate and wipe out the pan.  Melt some more butter
and put a tortilla in the pan and swirl it around so it gets coated
with melted butter.  Take it out and put it butter side up on a plate
or cutting board.  IF there isn't enough butter in the pan, add a little
more.  Place another tortilla in the pan and add 4 slices of the queso,
1/3 of the mozzarella and 1/2 of the onion and pepper mixture them top
with the buttered tortilla, butter side up. Cook each side until nice
and golden brown.
Cut the quesadilla and top with any and all of the garnishes.  I like
to fold my quesadilla triangle over a slice of avocado.