Friday, August 29, 2008

Until Tuesday

It is time to head to West Virginia again….. I wonder if I will manage to pack on three pounds like I did last time?? Maybe a pork tenderloin biscuit EVERY morning is a bit excessive. I have to tell you, they are soooo good though. The weather is going to be in the 70’s for the highs. Not very labor day, but I sure am looking forward to it. Until Tuesday, enjoy your cookouts!!!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Fig Salad

I don’t know where you are but here it is fresh fig season. The figs that are grown locally, are not super flavorful, which is the reason for “drying” them in the oven to concentrate the flavor. The dressing is the most complicated part of this simple salad. It is really good, and very pretty. If you don’t like goats cheese, use feta.

10 figs sliced
½ c. balsamic vinegar
¼ c, oil
2 tbs raisins
1 tsp brown sugar

Heat oven to 250. (note below this is a good time to toast walnuts) Line a baking sheet with sliced figs and cook for 1 hour. You still want them moist, you are just trying to concentrate the flavor. Put into blender of food processor. Add all other ingredients and mix until fairly smooth. This will be a thick dressing.

Bag of spinach
¼ of onion thinly sliced
¼ c. walnuts
½ c. goat cheese
3 fresh figs

Toast walnuts in oven for about 10 minutes. Set aside. Combine spinach, onion, goat cheese in a bowl. Top with walnuts and garnish with slices of the fresh fig. I would serve into bowls and put a dollop of dressing in the middle of each salad.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Zucchini Pasta Continued

Last night I had some zucchini, tomatoes and spinach that needed to be used. So I made moms pasta again but this time put in some spinach at the very end (last 2 minutes or so) and it was really good. This makes a really pretty sauce as well so I thought I would share a picture my hubby took. I think this would be good with addition of artichokes. Also, if you cooked this to thicken it just a bit, it would great on top of a light fish.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Grown up S’mores

This is soooooo good and a great and easy choice for a low key dinner or cookout. If you cookout you can do the marshmallow over the grill, otherwise, you can do it over the stove top (yes I said stove top…now I have gas, but I am pretty confident a coil burner would work too). Worse case, get the jar marshmallow fluff. The surprising part about these is you can actually make it ahead (3-4 hours or so) and keep it out at room temp and while maybe not quite as good as when it is first made it is 99% for sure. It is also good with white chocolate too.
Chocolate graham crackers
Package of the large marshmallows
Raspberry jam
Dark chocolate
Smear jam on graham cracker (don’t go crazy or you will have a mess but don’t be too spare or you will loose it), place chocolate on time and pop hot marshmallow. Viola! Too good to be so easy.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Celebrate Good Times!

Today we found out, for sure ,that my husband will be starting his own insurance agency! Yeah! It is such a relief and we couldn’t be more happy. We decided to celebrate with some thin crust pizza and some Layer Cake Primitivo. If you have never had this, must admit it might possibly be my very favorite red. McManus, is a second and much more cost conscious at 10 bucks a bottle. However, we had the Layer Cake both with the pizza and some very nice dark chocolate. It was like having two different wines and both were just sooooo good! I don’t know what your budget it like, but for us, about to have no money, it was indeed a splurge, but worth every penny, especially for such a great occasion!! Keep your finger crossed!!

Summer Pot Roast

Use whatever vegetables you have on hand. We used some parsnips and sweet potato that needed to be used, but summer squash, onion and tomato would be great. However, if you use a vegetable that requires less cooking time, wait to put it in about 15-20 minutes before roast is done.

2-3 lb pork lion
3 parsnips
3 stalks celery
2 sweet potatoes
Penzeys Greek seasoning
2 c. chicken stock
2 tbs garlic

Set oven to 350. Season meat really well with salt, pepper, Greek seasoning and garlic. If using root vegetables cut into small pieces and line the bottom of roasting pan with them (if you are using other vegetables, wait to add (you will want about 3 cups of vegetables per pound). Place seasoned meat on top. Season vegetables if you wish as well. Add stock and put in hot oven. Cook meat for about 30-40 minutes.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Sautéed Turnips

Okay this is nothing sexy other than it is new for me. I have to admit, I Vanessa, have never had a turnip. Turnip greens yes, turnip no. So I was at the store the other day and I saw these beautiful vegetables. They were this creamy white topped in a beautiful purple. They were not the size I think of turnips as being. I think of a turnip as being about the size of a baseball. These were between the size of a Clementine and a tennis ball. They were just so pretty, so I thought to myself, could something so lovely, really deserve the terrible reputation it has received? Why not try them, it is only food after all. So I did. So I got these lovely little globes at home and then realized I had NO idea what to do with them. I began to look through recipes with very, very mixed reviews. So then I thought to myself, “ now how are you going to know which recipe you would be interested in if you don’t even know what they taste like. “ So I tried a thin slice raw. Wow, this was good, but packed some heat. Imagine, radish meets horseradish. (I plan a salad with them in my future). However, people always cook them I thought, so lets see what this tastes like cooked. I sliced it thin and in the pan it went with a wee bit of olive oil. I sautéed it for about 3-4 minutes and tried it.. These were good, a bit sweet. Really a lot like sweet onion. So that is where this recipe was born. So many recipes a I read talk about the turnip overpowering the dish. I always was told it was ammonia-y. I did not find this to be the case at all, however, they were very small turnips and looked very fresh. Maybe that was the difference? But man am I glad I tried them!!
1 whole sweet onion sliced
3 small turnips
2 tbs butter
1 tbs lemon juice
Slice onions and start in skillet with half the butter and cook medium low. Meanwhile slice turnips as thin as you can and once sliced throw in skillet with the rest of the butter. Cook medium low for 5 minutes and reduce to low and cook until soft. Once done, season to taste. Sprinkle with lemon, toss to coat and serve.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Browned Butter Brussels Sprout

Say that ten times fast! These are good and a different way of having Brussels Sprouts.
4 tbs butter, browned
1 lb Brussels sprouts
1tsp lemon juice

Using the slicing side of the grater, grate Brussels Sprouts. If you don’t have a grater, starting at top and working to bottom core slice. It should resemble a coarse cole slaw. Set aside. Put butter in pan and over medium heat melt butter and keep on heat until it browns a bit. This gives a very distinctive nutty flavor to the butter, if you are not sure, under brown, over browning will just burn it. Add about a ½ tsp of salt to butter, then add sprouts and pepper and stir to coat. Cover and cook about 10 minutes or until it reaches the doneness right for you. Sprinkle with lemon juice, stir to coat and serve.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Worlds Best Crab Cakes

This is not something I made up, but we had them last night and honestly, there is no better. I have to tell you nothing irritates me more than when someone takes some wonderful crab and messes it all up by putting a bunch of bread and stuff in so that then end product tastes more of mustard and bread than anything else. I get that crab is expensive and you want to stretch it, but on the flip side it is expensive and you want to enjoy it. So ditch the fillers and try this, with just enough to hold it together but not so much to mess up the wonderfulness of the crab. ***Also, for a crab cake there is no reason you can not use back fin crab as opposed to lump and save yourself some change. However pick through the crab first to make sure you get any bits of shell out.

2 slices of bread
½ c. milk
1 lb crab meat
1 tbs Worcestershire
1 tbs baking powder
1 tbs mayo
1 tsp old bay

Set bread in milk and let set for 10 minutes. Squeeze out excessmilk from bread, and toss milk. Place bread back in bowl and add all other ingredients and mix thoroughly. Form into patties and fry until golden on both sides.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Mom Is Always Right

Okay, so she did fork over a zucchini after all and I tried her zucchini pasta. I have to tell you it was WONDERFUL. It was so fresh and light. I really thought I would like it but feel the need to doctor it, however, could not have been more wrong. It was the best of summer in a bowl. You really have to try it!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Summers Winding Down

Now is a perfect time to enjoy the evenings outside. It seems like the weather here has finally broken and a bit early to boot. The evenings are so beautiful. It is a great time to have a fresh from the garden pitch in. Have everyone bring something fresh from the garden and a bottle of wine or something else to drink. Afraid you will get a bunch of cucumber salad, and tomatoes with mozzarella (could you really have too much of that?) Here are some ideas
Using cucumbers or zucchini slice into 1 ½-2” disks, and hollow out seed center. This will leave you with a vegetable “donut”. Fill the center with some Boursin cheese and top with an olive. This is good, easy and really pretty.
Take those same veggies and fill with tuna or chicken salad and a sprig of cilantro.
Make some gazpacho with those fresh tomatoes!
1 clove crushed garlic
2 tbs olive oil
5-6 tomatoes chopped
1onion chopped
¼ tsp pepper
¼ tsp paprika
1 ½ tbs vinegar
1 ½ c. beef bullion
Mix all and refrigerate overnight. Put in a blender, and blend, add salt if needed and serve. This is also great with some cucumber or zucchini too.
Or make some fresh salsa with the tomatoes. Mmmm. Just make it easy, make it fresh and enjoy the weather with friends!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Shrimp and Bean Paste

1 lb shrimp cleaned
2 c. broccoli chopped up
1 tbs green curry paste
2 tbs black bean paste
4 tbs fish sauce
1 tbs minced garlic
1 tbs olive oil
Mix, curry paste, bean paste and fish sauce add shrimp and mix. Set in fridge for about an hour. Heat oil and garlic in wok, add broccoli, and cover wok if you can. Cook 3-5 minutes on medium low, just until broccoli is not tough. Add shrimp and paste mixture. Cook 3-5 minutes until shrimp done. Serve over rice.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Zucchini Pasta for Two

I haven’t had this yet, but apparently is so good that has been a summer staple over at my folks house this summer. This is a recipe of my mothers making. It apparently started its incarnation with just the zucchini, onion and seasoning and that is how they had it several times. Tonight she had a couple tomatoes and threw them is as well and thought it was too good not to share. She said this was born out of an over abundance of zucchinis this year that needed to be used. She promises that she will share a zucchini with me so I can try this lovely creation….however the summer is almost over and she is just NOW telling me about it. I don’t hold out much hope, I think they just might be enjoying it too much to share right now!
2TBS butter
1TBS olive oil
½ onion diced
1 small zucchini diced
2 medium tomatoes chopped
2 cloves garlic
½ lb pasta

Put past on to cook meanwhile, heat butter and olive oil together. Add onion saute just until soft. Add diced zucchini and cook about 5 minutes, just until almost done, but not mushy. Season with garlic, salt, pepper and basil to taste. Add tomatoes cook 3-5 more minutes or until heated through. Serve over pasta and grate fresh parmesan over.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Lazy Daze of Summer

I haven’t been posting as much because I haven’t been cooking as much. I am not sure where in the world you are but in Richmond, it is HOT. Which means I don’t eat as much or sometimes just want some fresh tomatoes from the garden, some good cheese, and some wine.
One thing I love is to see all the places in the world that people are from that come here. So again, I invite anyone and everyone to leave a comment. I would love to hear from you. If you tried one of my recipes and think it would be better another way, LET ME KNOW! I would love to try it.
So the next isn’t really a recipes as a suggestion. Summer is also a great time for gin and tonics. If you adore them as I do, try to mix it up next time you have them. Instead of that faithful lime, be crazy, put a lemon in (I actually like this better then the lime), or even crazier try both lemon and lime. If you are super daring, I suggest muddling some mint in the bottom of the glass (muddle is to really a fancy way of saying, smooshing or smashing) and rub a leaf along the rim. Mint is great in a gin and tonic. Stay out of the heat and ENJOY!

Monday, August 4, 2008

chicken curry

1 tbs olive oil
1 cu chopped carrots
2 bay leave
1 small chopped onion
2 cups chicken stock
2 chopped tomatoes
4 chicken thighs bone out skinless
1 tbs soy sauce
4 tbs Penzeys sweet curry powder
½ c. peas
Salt and pepper
Okay you can use any curry powder(and boneless skinless chicken if you must), however, Penzeys sweet curry powder is great. I just got it and this is the first time I have used it. Despite what the sales guy told me, it does pack some heat, just not the heat you typically think of when you think of curry. It has a heave cardamom flavor, which I adore.
Heat oil. Add carrots and onion and sauté for 3 minutes. Add stock and bay leaves and bring to boil. Add tomatoes and cook 10 minutes on low. Add chicken , curry and soy and cook. Once chicken is done or mostly done add peas., and cook for 3 minutes. Test for salt and if needed add salt. Serve over rice.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Artichoke Dip

I am probably one of the few people that loves to cook but consistently uses jared crushed garlic instead of crushing my own. I love fresh garlic, but it is not consistent. Sometimes I would use 3 cloves and not get the garlic flavor I wanted and other times 1 clove and felt overpower by the flavor….in the same dish. I still use fresh don’t get me wrong, but typically in fresh things like a bruchetta, or to rub over bread, or if I want to stuff meat. Otherwise, I like the ease and consitatncy of the jarred stuff.

1 c. marinated artichoke hearts or one can
1c. Mayonnaise (I always use low fat, it makes it far less oily, and if you want to make the dish with far less calories use half low fat mayo and half low fat sour cream, honest it will still be just as good)
½ c. Feta
½ c parmesan
3 tablespoons crushed garlic (the jar stuff, if you use fresh use far less)

Mix together and bake at 350 for thirty minutes. This is great leftover on a bagel, as a substitute for mayo on a sandwich or very best of all, in an omelet in the morning. Plus it is a party favorite, and great if you have vegetarian friends.