Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Push Pin Necklace Board

I love all types of jewelry and like having it out for ease. And I was eyeing my push pin board and thought to myself, " That would be the coolest little display to hold necklaces!" It can rest on a dresser and lean against the wall, in your bedroom or it can be hung on the wall in the living room or hallway, like a piece of art. The nice thing about storing your necklaces this way is you can put your favorites on your board available at your fingertips to spice up an outfit in a jiffy. Also, you can take away and add to your collection as the seasons change. You can check out June 8th post, A Bunch of Necklaces to see another way to display your jewels. Just use any push pin board or cork board that you love and clear push pins to hold your necklaces in place. Have fun and happy pinning! ;)

Luck & Gratitude

I've been obsessed with luck ever since I was a little girl. Ladybugs were my most favorite symbol of luck. I loved their polka dots most of all and their little bold red suits of armor. Even today, I get a little bit of a rush when I see one. And can't help think, "Today is going to be a lucky day." And usually it is. But I think what gives luck it's true power is a combination of thought, feelings and gratitude most of all. Horseshoes, spiders in the house, bells ringing all have their place in this thing we call luck, that everyone wants. Finding a penny on heads is great and I have to admit, if found on tails, I will flick it with my shoe until it lands on heads. I'm not flicking a bug away, no, no, it's the master plan to bring more luck into my life, one coin at a time. And with a sigh of relief as that coin finally turns and I pick up my shiny penny, so do my feelings about the day. "It's going to be a good day," I tell myself. Seeing a rainbow brings a feeling of promise that only good is coming. I have to admit it may be hard sometimes, especially when everything feels like it's going wrong. And that's when gratitude comes in to save the day. Being grateful for what you have is a guarantee to open the door for more goodness and luck your way. And many times, it's a matter of perception. switching the way you think about something. As my husband says, when something not so desirable happens, "It could have been worse" and for that, I am grateful, thankful and lucky, that it wasn't.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Spaghetti Korma

Going out for Indian food is such a treat for me because the nearest Indian restaurant is a about an hour away. So when I go, I savor all of the intense gorgeous flavors. I love the heat of the tandoori, the creaminess of a korma sauce, the crunch of poppadoms, refreshing raita sauce and a cooling mango lassi. I could have a mango lassi for dessert and be a happy girl. But when I want that Indian flavor at home, I make a pretty easy spaghetti korma. You can always serve the korma over basmati rice or have a nice bowl served with naan bread for a more traditional Indian meal but the spaghetti korma is fun and unexpected! This isn't a hot and spicy curry sauce, more of a spice infused sauce but if you want more heat, you can always add Sriracha sauce!  A touch of Sriracha sauce does wonders to this dish! And I love taking a bite of naan bread and coming across a coriander seed, so I added a little more of them to the sauce, so adjust the seasonings to your liking! Enjoy!

  • 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 head cauliflower, trimmed, using only the florets, reserving the stalks for another use
  • 1 10 oz box frozen peas
  • 1 small Vidalia onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 cups water, as needed
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 3/4 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon five spice powder
  • 2 cardamon pods, left whole
  • sea salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 1 pound spaghetti, cooked al dente
  • crushed pistachio nuts, for garnish

Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter and add the sliced onion. Saute on low heat until translucent then add all of your spices. You can always add a little bit and then add more as you need. Stir your spices until fragrant, then stir in the tomato sauce and 2 cups of water. Let this come to a boil and simmer for about half an hour, until the liquids reduce. Add in your cauliflower florets and 1 cup of water, if needed. Only add the water if your sauce is too thick, if the sauce begins sticking on the bottom, add more water. Simmer your sauce until the cauliflower is cooked through, about half an hour. Stir in the frozen peas and simmer for a few minutes. Next, stir in the heavy cream and the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, let it simmer for a few minutes until it thickens again. Discard the cardamon pods and toss the spaghetti with the sauce, topping more of the korma sauce on top and garnish with pistachio nuts. This serves 6-8 people. Great for leftovers too!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Pork Chops with Cherry Basil Sauce

Mmm...one of the highlights of summertime...eating fresh cherries, on a hot day while a cool breeze passes through. It inspired me to make a cherry sauce for pork chops. This cherry sauce is so rich and it would be equally delicious on vanilla bean ice cream. This meal is so indulgent, yet it doesn't take that much time to make, a little over 30 minutes but tastes as if it took all day. ;) This serves 3, so double if making a dinner for company. A nice green leaf lettuce salad tossed with buttermilk dressing would be nice as a start to this meal. And a great finish would be a chocolate mousse cake, along with a long walk. lol. ;)

  • 3 bone-in center cut pork chops, a little over a pound in weight
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup plain panko bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons raw sliced almonds, finely chopped plus 1 tablespoon raw sliced almonds for wild rice
  • Vegeta seasoning or any all purpose seasoning
  • canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter plus a pat of butter for wild rice
  • 3 cups fresh cherries, pitted and halved
  • 1 teaspoon or more sugar
  • a few basil leaves, finely chopped plus some leaves for garnish
  • 4 tablespoons heavy cream
  • fresh ground pepper
  • sea salt
  • 1 8.5 oz. packet of ready made wild rice

I've been obsessed with wild rice lately so I included a quick and easy side dish that complements the pork chops but you can make whatever side dish you love. To make your pork chops, make your almond coating, combining the panko bread crumbs, the finely chopped almonds and a little bit of the Vegeta, to taste. Set up your breading station, a plate with the beaten egg, a plate with the almond coating and a empty plate so you can place your breaded chops. Heat up your canola oil on low heat until nice and hot, test your oil by throwing in some panko crumbs if they start sizzling, the oil is ready. Dip your chops into the egg and then into the almond coating. Don't be afraid to pack on the coating, pressing it into the meat. Place your breaded chops into the oil, once it's ready. Fry your chops for about 10 minutes, then flip to fry for another 10 minutes until nice and brown. Carefully take them out of the oil and place on a paper towel lined plate so they drain. To make your cherry basil sauce, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter and add in the pitted cherries, bring to a boil. Once it boils, bring down to a simmer and throw in the chopped basil, fresh coarse ground pepper and a touch of sea salt. Let this simmer for about 8 minutes until it thickens. Stir in the heavy cream and cook for another few minutes and set aside. To make the wild rice, follow the directions on the package and stir in a pat of butter and 1 tablespoon of the raw sliced almonds. Serve up your plates and garnish with some basil leaves. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Grilled Eggplant "Steaks" with Cannellini Bean Salad

When I was a vegetarian, there were days when I just wanted to have a juicy steak. "Just take me to a steakhouse and don't judge me." lol But I didn't wane and stuck to my veggies. And the only way I would get that same satisfaction as eating a steak was when I would drizzle a nice amount of olive oil on the eggplant and let it sit for a while and then grill it. You would think that the eggplant would be drenched in oil but it wasn't. The eggplant would embrace the oil and it transformed the purple beauty into a juicy veggie version of a steak. If you want a little more of an indulgence, serve with Gorgonzola cheese and you can always have this with a baked potato on the side! ;)

  • 2 eggplants, cut lengthwise, about an inch thick
  • garlic powder
  • Vegeta seasoning
  • olive oil for drizzling
  • 1 cup chopped good tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • 1 15oz. can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup seedless cucumber, chopped
  •  a few basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon fig preserves
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons A1 steak sauce
  • 1 teaspoon agave syrup
  • Maldons sea salt
  • fresh ground pepper

Take a large pan and drizzle olive oil on each slice and season with garlic powder and Vegeta or any all purpose seasoning you like. It's okay to stack the slices on top of each other. Let them sit at room temperature for an hour. After the hour is up, turn your slices over and drizzle with more olive oil. You'll see where the eggplant needs it, noticing large white spots on them. You don't want to drown the slices in oil, just enough to give the eggplant a nice coating. Let them sit for another hour. While your eggplant is marinating, you can make the salad by combining the tomatoes, beans, cucumbers and basil. Make your vinaigrette by combining the olive oil, vinegar, and fig preserves. Season with a pinch of Vegeta and ground pepper. Once you are ready to eat, you can dress your salad. The eggplant, although meaty is also delicate at the same time and needs a steak sauce that won't overwhelm it and I think this is a good sauce to serve alongside it. Combine the yogurt, steak sauce, agave syrup and the ground pepper. Adjust the seasonings as needed. When you are ready to make your steaks, heat up your grill to about 500 degrees and throw your steaks on. I grilled them for about five minutes on each side, just until you get some good grill marks. Turn the eggplant so you get nice cross hatch marks on them. Keep an eye on them so they don't burn. Pull them off the grill once they are done, you will see your eggplant relaxed, yet still keeping their shape. Let them rest so they collect their juices. Top with Maldons salt, it gives them a nice finish and serve with your cannellini salad and steak sauce. This serves 3. Enjoy!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Farro & Chickpea Salad with Sun Dried Tomato Vinaigrette

I have fallen in love with farro! It's deliciously chewy and nutty and I was eating it right out of the pot, it's just so good! And it's super healthy too! It's jam packed with fiber, protein and iron. I have to admit, I overcooked mine a bit, you want your farro more on the al dente side, giving it more chew factor. So keep an eye on it. Farro is a versatile grain that you can toss into soup, salads. Use farro as a side dish tossed with olive oil, garlic and some herbs. I've had it for breakfast instead of oatmeal, topped with some walnuts, raspberries and a little soy milk and it was delicious! This salad is so satisfying, it can be a complete meal on its' own!

  • 1 cup pearled farro
  • 1 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup good ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped baby lettuces or spring mix
  • a few mint leaves *optional
  • 3 radishes, chopped
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • 1/3 cup grapeseed oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 3 sun dried tomatoes, packed in olive oil, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of the olive oil that the sun dried tomatoes are packed in
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper

Cook your farro according to the package instructions. Once al dente, drain and rinse with cold water. Have all of your veggies, chopped to about the size of the chickpeas. Combine the farro, chickpeas and tomatoes. Make your dressing combining the oils, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, sun dried tomatoes, and season with salt and pepper. Toss in the lettuce, avocado and radishes when you are ready to serve your salad. If you want to add a little more sweetness to the salad, just add in more tomatoes. This serves about 4 people. Enjoy!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Ditalini & Dandelion Greens Soup

Cooler, rainy weather has arrived! And that calls for soup! For anyone that isn't familiar with dandelion greens, they are a super bitter green that you can toss into salads combined with a milder one like bibb lettuce. Or you could saute them with a little olive oil and butter for a simple way to dress them and really enjoy the green for what it is. If you aren't a fan of bitter greens you can still make this soup using spinach. And for a leaner version instead of the pork sausage, you can use chicken or turkey sausage. For a veggie version, you can use veggie broth and throw in some cooked beans and wild rice. Great way to use the leftover pesto from Monday's recipe (July 16th post). This serves 4. Soup tastes great warm! Enjoy!

  • 1 bunch of dandelion greens, about 4 cups tightly packed
  • 1 1/2 cups ditalini pasta, cooked
  • 1 pound bulk Italian pork sausage
  • 32 oz. chicken broth, low-sodium
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried mushrooms. I used champignon but any kind will do, if large just chop them up a little bit.
  • 1 heaping teaspoon sun dried tomatoes packed in olive oil, minced
  • 4 eggs, cooked over easy
  • 4 teaspoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup basil pesto
  • sea salt
  • fresh ground pepper

Trim the tougher stems of the greens and roughly chop them, into small pieces. In a dutch oven, saute the sausage, stirring it and breaking it up often. Once the sausage is cooked through, stir in the garlic and the mushrooms. Saute for about five minutes. Stir in the chicken broth and bring to a boil. This soup is low in broth so you can always add more. Once it boils toss in the dandelion greens and the sun dried tomatoes. Cook on low heat for ten minutes. Toss in the pasta and give your soup a good stir. Adjust the seasonings if needed. If I'm not using my own chicken broth and using store-bought I like to get low sodium because you can always add more salt but you can't take it away. Once your soup is done, you can make your eggs in the butter. Ladle your soup into bowls, top each bowl with an egg and you can top with pesto or leave your pesto in a bowl to pass around. The soup is so good once your break the yolk, it thickens the soup beautifully and adds such great flavor.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Sauerkraut & Potato Phyllo Pie

I love pierogis! And made them many many moons ago on a rainy Saturday afternoon. I loved getting lost in the kitchen on a weekend. As the hours escaped, I was restored  and a beautiful meal was made. But did I get lost, as they take a long time to make! lol They are a true labor of love. First you make the filling, then the dough, flour is everywhere (at least it is when I make them, lol) and then they are boiled, a few at a time. All worth it, of course but I wanted to spend less time in the kitchen and put a different spin on the Polish dumpling. And I thought that making a "pierogi pie" using phyllo dough would be fun. Not quite a quick meal to make, I would still save it for when you have more time, where you can get a little lost yourself. ;)

  • 4 pounds sauerkraut
  • 3 small onions, finely chopped, about 3 cups
  • 10 oz. button mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus about one stick melted
  •  1/2 pound phyllo pastry sheets, 20 sheets (9"x 14") I got a box that was a pound with 2 easy-to-use rolls. Using one roll.
  • 3 cups instant mashed potato flakes, use a brand that is 100% real potatoes.
  • salt
  • fresh ground pepper

This recipe is a little complicated and I regret not taking more pictures but I'm gonna explain it in as much detail as possible. For this recipe, you will need a 9" spring form pan. Take your pan and measure it against the phyllo dough, Using a knife, trim the dough to fit the pan, leaving your phyllo dough square, no need to trim it round to be exact. Once you begin layering, it won't matter. Take half of the sauerkraut and rinse well with cold water and squeeze all of the liquid out. Squeeze, squeeze, squeeze! And with the remaining sauerkraut, you don't have to rinse it, just squeeze until dry. Instant mashed potatoes are great in a pinch! Add more milk as needed to the potatoes if needed so they spread easily. Reserve 1/3 of the prepared potatoes for the sauerkraut. This is my first time using phyllo dough and I followed the instructions on how to handle it. I was really nervous, I felt if I didn't follow the instructions on how to handle the phyllo dough it would crumble. I covered it with plastic wrap and then with a damp towel like the package directions said. And if it ripped, it still turned out fine. Have everything set up so your pie is easy to assemble.

Prepare your mashed potatoes according to the package instructions. Allow them to cool a little bit so they are easier to handle. Melt your 4 tablespoons of butter and add in the onion, saute until it is translucent. Add in your mushrooms and allow them to cook for 40 minutes, until they lightly brown. Do this on low heat and stir often. Add in your sauerkraut and 1/3 of the prepared mashed potatoes. Season and set aside. With the remaining mashed potatoes, divide them up in their bowl into 3 portions. Do the same with the sauerkraut and potato mixture. Have your pie making station ready, your phyllo dough covered, melted butter ready, a brush to use with it. Your fillings divided, for ease. Preheat your oven and you are ready to make your pie! Brush butter on the bottom of the pan and begin layering your dough. Brushing butter between every layer. Every layer should have 4 sheets of phyllo dough. Alternate the sauerkraut and the potato layers. Four sheets of phyllo, sauerkraut, potato and repeat. Using a spatula made spreading the filling easier. Don't worry about the excess phyllo dough in your pan, just push it down with the brush. If using this same size, you will run out of the pan size sheets, just use the halves, making them a whole sheet. Phyllo is much more forgiving than I thought! End with the remaining phyllo sheets brushing your top layer with butter also. Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees until browned on top. Make sure to place your pie on a flat cookie sheet, so any melted butter doesn't land in your oven but stays in your pie. Let cool for about fifteen minutes, release and remove your spring form and use a serrated knife to cut your pie. This makes about 10 servings. Serve with sour cream on the side. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Tea Scented Grilled Peaches & Strawberries over Greek Yogurt

I'm so excited, I grilled a tea bag! Not just a tea bag, lol. I added some fruit but I am thinking differently about the humble little bag. It infused the peaches and strawberries with a delicate rose hip flavor as it bubbled away over the flames. I went a little heavy on the mint in the Greek yogurt, so you can add or take away according to how much you like mint. Enjoy and happy grilling with tea bags! :)

  • 4 ripe peaches, halved and sliced
  • 1 pound strawberries, trimmed and halved
  • 2-4 tablespoons honey
  • 1 rose hip tea bag, I used Crimson Blossom from Trader Joe's
  • splash of vanilla extract
  • 17.6 oz. container of Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh mint plus a few leaves for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons blue agave sweetener
  • 1 tablespoon uncooked amaranth grain

Layer a few sheets of aluminum foil on top of each other and make a sort of bowl out of it, to hold your fruit in it. Heat up your grill to about 500 degrees. Take your tea bag and moisten it well, this is so it doesn't burn right away. It works almost like soaking wood skewers. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of honey over the peaches, strawberries and the tea bag. Toss well to combine. Place your aluminum bowl over a flat cast iron pan and place on the grill. Peek in on your fruit often, to make sure it doesn't burn and try to keep your tea bag on top of the fruit until the fruit releases its' juices. After about 15 minutes taste the liquid and see if you need to add more honey and add in the splash of vanilla extract at this time. While your fruit is grilling away, combine the yogurt, mint and agave sweetener and set aside. Your fruit will be ready after about half an hour. You will see it bubbling away with all of its' juices and then it will reduce. The fruit will begin to stick to the foil, once that happens, your fruit is ready. Once your fruit has cooled down a bit, remove the tea bag. Heat up your non-stick pan till it is hot on high heat and throw in your amaranth grain and gently shake the pan over the heat until they begin to pop. This serves about 3. Divide the yogurt, fruit among your bowls and top with the popped amaranth grain and mint leaves.

I was so obsessed with the amaranth popping! I originally wanted to just toast it to give the yogurt a little bit of a crunch. But as I shaked and shaked the pan over the flame, to my surprise it started popping. "How fun!" I thought! The batch below is a burnt one, but I couldn't help thinking how pretty and delicate it looks. After some trial and error, I learned that you have to heat up the pan nice and hot before you throw in the amaranth grains.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Scallion Lovers' Appetizer

This was my favorite after school snack. I used fresh soft Portuguese rolls, it was actually a green onion sandwich. My mom used to get butter from a small little grocery store where he would cut the butter from a big smooth creamy yellow slab that he kept behind the counter. He would weight it and was it a piece of heaven on fresh bread! And sauteing the scallions in the butter was pure bliss. I was sad when he closed the little shop and now every time I pass where that cute little grocery store was, I'm saddened and can't help think, "If only we bought more butter, maybe he would have stayed open." lol. Sigh. As a little kid, I loved running my fingers over the spice rack. He carried "Spice Islands" brand. I thought they were such pretty glass bottles. Another thing I remember now, he never aged. I think the secret may have been that big creamy slab, lol. Sigh, am I kicking myself for not asking him where he got his butter! ;)

  • 1 ciabatta bread, cut horizontally
  • 1 large bunch scallions, trimmed and cut into 2 inch sections
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 paper thin slices honey ham *optional
  • mayonnaise

In a pan on low heat, melt your butter and once it begins sizzling, add your scallions. Take some extra caution when tossing the scallions in because the butter can splatter. Allow your scallions to saute over low heat. Stir often, as they can burn quickly. This takes about 10 minutes. Once you see a few brown pieces and the lower white part of the scallion is tender, they are done. Use the bottom half of the loaf and reserve the top for a sandwich or two or you could level out the top so it sits evenly and double the recipe. On your bread spread some mayo so every inch is covered. Next take your ham slices and lay them over the mayo and then spread your scallions over your ham. I made it mostly without the ham, and I loved it. So you can skip the ham, either way it's yummy. With a good knife cut your bread into 9 pieces. This can be messy but worth it. This serves about 4 people. Enjoy!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Skirt Steak Platter

I loved this platter! And it combines a little bit of summer in every corner of it, a juicy sweet plum, a grilled steak, fresh basil made into pesto, relaxed creamy cheese and a perfectly ripe avocado. Enjoy with a nice glass of wine, while the sunset is going down.

  • 12 oz. skirt steak, cut into 2 pieces
  • 1 ripe avocado room temperature and halved
  • 1 ripe black plum, halved and pitted
  • 2 slivers of St. Andre cheese, room temperature
  • 2 oz. basil, (about 1 cup tightly packed)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup raw walnuts
  • 1/4 cup walnut oil
  • fresh ground pepper
  • Maldon sea salt flakes
  • a little drizzle of olive oil for steaks
  • 1 tablespoon white balsamic pear infused vinegar
  • juice of quarter of a lime
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley

Make your basil (almost pesto) chimichurri sauce. Combine the basil, olive oil, walnuts, walnut oil, salt and pepper with a hand blender. This makes 1 cup of pesto. Adjust your seasonings to taste. Reserve half a cup for another use. This is great for a quick dinner when tossed with pasta, just add some good Parmesan cheese. And if your pasta needs to be moistened a little more, add some pasta water. With the remaining pesto add the vinegar, lime juice and the parsley, combine well. Heat up your grill to about 500 degrees. Throw your steaks and plum halves on the grill. Cook your steaks how you like. I cooked mine for about 5 minutes each side and you really have to watch the plums, they grill quickly and get very soft. Maybe about 3 minutes for the first side. You will see the skin start to curl up at the ends and that's when I flipped it onto it's skin for a minute or so. They are really delicate especially if you got a good juicy one. Pull the plums off and let them rest. Remove the steaks from the grill and let them rest for about 5 minutes. Begin arranging your platter. Slice the steak diagonally and fan out, arrange the sliced avocado, cheese and plum on your platter. Scoop some of the pesto chimichurri sauce onto the platter. Sprinkle some salt onto the steak and the avocado. This recipe makes 2 servings, so double and triple as needed. Enjoy!


Friday, July 13, 2012

Kombucha Spritzer

Mmm...I love kombucha and they re-released the alcoholic version! (*cheers & claps*)  I have been waiting patiently for the day and am happy to be enjoying it once again. Now you have to be 21 to buy it though. My feelings get a little hurt when I'm not asked for ID, sigh, but that's ok as long as I have the goods, lol. As GT's bottle states, "Kombucha is a cultured tea that is low in alcohol however federal law requires a warning statement on any product that may contain more than 0.5% of alcohol per volume." It's the brown bottle labelled "classic" and to my surprise, I saw a new flavor not seen yet, "Third Eye Chai" and I immediately thought this calls for a fun Friday cocktail. It's so easy and I hope you enjoy this and your weekend!

  • 8 oz. Third Eye Chai kombucha
  • 4 oz. chilled black tea sweetened with honey

Combine in a pretty glass and enjoy.

Aww my honey must be thinking of me, my scoby is heart shaped! lol. Don't be afraid of the scoby, it's just bacteria and yeast, oh wow, sounds worse now that I explained it a little bit. But essentially kombucha is a health drink and it does require an acquired taste as it's a bit of a mix in flavor of vinegar, beer and wine. Once you try it, I'm sure you'll become a fan, it just may take a little time. For anyone new to kombucha, try the mango flavor as a starter and nothing beats gingerade on a hot day to quench your thirst!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Blueberry Crumble Ice Cream Soup

I can't be the only one out there that likes ice cream soup, lol. This is nice because it's not just melted ice cream, it's almost like a soft pudding and you can use this "formula" for any fruit based ice cream that goes well with Nutella. I was in the mood for blueberries, so I got blueberry crumble ice cream but this works with cherry vanilla, just top with fresh cherries. A banana chocolate ice cream works great, just top with fresh banana slices. A caramel ice cream would be delicious! Just top with some salt flakes! The list goes on and on for all you ice cream soup lovers out there! Happy ice cream soup making!

  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 3 heaping tablespoons blueberry crumble ice cream
  • 1 heaping tablespoon Nutella
  • a few fresh blueberries for garnish
  • a few hazelnuts, crushed with a knife, for garnish

Combine the sour cream, ice cream and Nutella until well combined. Top with your garnishes! This serves one. Stay cool and enjoy! :)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Pistachio & Panko Chicken over Baby Arugula

Summer and salads go together. This is a nice salad to pack for a picnic in the park. Just pack everything separately and pour the dressing over the greens when it's time to eat. Then lay back on your blanket with your honey and watch the clouds as the pass by. Happy picnicking! :)

  • 2 chicken breasts halves, pounded thinner
  • 2 tablespoons pistachio nuts, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup Italian style panko bread crumbs
  • 2 heaping teaspoons minced fresh parsley
  • canola oil
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 7 cups tightly packed baby arugula, ripped up
  • 2 oz. herbed goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons white balsamic pear infused vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1 tablespoon all natural raspberry preserves
  • sea salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • nasturtium flowers for garnish

Heat the canola oil, (enough to fry the chicken breasts in) in a non-stick pan. Combine the panko bread crumbs, pistachio nuts and the parsley. Dip your chicken breasts into the egg then into the breading. Really pack on the breading with your fingertips. Once your oil is nice and hot on low heat, you can put in your chicken breasts. I test the hotness of the oil by throwing in a few panko crumbs, once it sizzles your oil is ready for the chicken. Fry the chicken for ten minutes each side and drain on paper towels. Combine the olive oil, shallots, vinegar and the raspberry preserves and toss with the arugula. Season with salt and pepper if needed. When you are ready to make your salad, serve the chicken with the arugula and crumble the goat cheese on top along with a pretty nasturtium flower. To keep your chicken crisp for your picnic, let your chicken cool completely, then wrap in paper towels and place in a paper bag. This serves 2. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Ziti with Creamed Cucumbers, Mushrooms & Sun Dried Tomatoes

Sauteed cucumbers tossed in a creamy sauce with sun dried tomatoes and earthy mushrooms combined with ziti hits the spot quickly on a busy night! It's a special little dish that will put a smile on your face. :)

  • 1/4 pound ziti rigati, cooked al dente
  • 1/2 seedless cucumber, peeled and quartered to about the length of the ziti
  • 5 oz. baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 cut julienned sun dried tomatoes packed in olive oil
  • 3 oz. heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  •  sea salt & freshly ground pepper
  • freshly grated Parmesan cheese

In a colander salt the cucumbers and let them sit for about 20 minutes to draw the liquid out of them. Take a paper towel and pat them dry. In a dutch oven, melt the butter until it sizzles on medium heat, add in the cucumber until they brown lightly. Stir in the mushrooms until they brown and cooked. Next stir in the sun dried tomatoes with a little of the olive oil and saute for a few minutes. Add in the heavy cream and bring to a boil until it thickens. Season as needed with salt and fresh ground pepper. Stir in the cooked pasta and combine well. This serves 2, top with fresh Parmesan cheese and enjoy!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Grilled Oysters with Bacon Mignonette Sauce

I am an oyster lover! Nothing beats raw oysters on a hot summer day. But shucking them is another thing, lol. I've had a few oysters that I shucked with a unintentional "crunchy" garnish on top, (you know what I mean...shell pieces.) And it's not that tasty, so I keep it clean and grill them. You don't get the same cool smooth satisfaction that you get from the raw, but more of a substantial slightly smoky oyster that you can dress up a little.
  • 1 dozen oysters
  • 2 thick slices roasted bacon, minced
  • 2 tablespoons minced red onion
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup white balsamic pear infused vinegar
  • frisee lettuce
  • lemon thyme leaves

In a sauce pan, heat up your bacon on low heat. You can find roasted bacon at any Polish deli, and it's really REALLY good and worth driving miles out of the way for, lol, really good. Once you have your bacon lightly browned, add in your red onion and saute until the onion is translucent. Add in your butter, stir until it melts and sizzles a little then add in your vinegar. Increase your heat on high and bring to a boil until it reduces, about 3 minutes, stir often and it reduces quickly, set aside. Heat up your grill to about 500 degrees and put your oysters directly on the grill. They open up quickly also, about 5 minutes. Once they open up, use tongs to get them off the grill, onto a plate. Use pot holders to handle them. One by one, with a knife in hand and a flick of a wrist, your oysters are completely opened and the top shell is separated. I moved the oysters to the shell half that has a natural curve to it, to hold some of the sauce. Place some frisee lettuce leaves down, arrange your oysters around the lettuce, drizzle the sauce over the plate and garnish with some lemon thyme leaves and enjoy!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Garden Salad Cocktail

I know this doesn't sound too appetizing but it is! If you like garden salads and vodka together? lol. It's refreshing and goes down nice and smooth if you are in the mood for something crisp, fresh and light. I started making this drink last summer and I've even tried it with carrots, different types of herbs like cilantro and dill, lots of tomatoes and cucumbers and it's all good! Stay cool and get those veggies in., I think this counts as a serving. lol ;)

For one cocktail you'll need:
  • 2 oz. cucumber vodka
  • 1 good medium size tomato
  • 1/4 green pepper
  • 6 oz. seltzer
  • 1 slice cucumber, for garnish
  • 1 leaf of parsley for garnish
  • fresh ground pepper *optional
  • ice cubes

Muddle the green pepper to get all the pepper flavor out. Once you have muddled it, squeeze the pulp so you get all the juice out. Next take your tomato, (it's really important to use a good tomato because this is where you are getting your sweetness from)  half it and take all of the tomato seeds and put them in your glass. Give your tomato a slight squeeze to get any juice out. You can save the rest of the tomato to use for your morning egg scramble or to saute with garlic for a quick tomato sauce. Pour in the vodka and the seltzer and add some ice cubes. Give it a nice stir and top with fresh ground pepper, it gives it a little bit of a kick. Cut a slit in your cucumber slice and top with your parsley leaf. Add your garnish to your glass and enjoy!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Potato Chip Platter

There is something about summertime that pulls me to chips and dip. And you can make the humble potato chip a little fancier when paired with super creamy sour cream, smoked Nova salmon, salty capers and specialty mustard. If your budget allows, add some caviar to this platter and you have got yourself a little fancy feast. This can be great to munch on while you sip on some Prosecco or beer on a Saturday night with some friends or as a little starter to a main course where you are serving fish for company. I made this once before but made the mistake to have the chips premade with dollops of sour cream and as it sat around, it got really mushy and no one really likes a mushy chip. So this is great where everyone can make their own little chip with all the fixins.

I use shot glasses for condiments all the time and this is one of the platters that could really use them. Great to hold the mustard, horseradish and capers. For this platter gather together:

  • 1 bag of hearty kettle cooked chips, about a 6 oz. bag
  • 3 oz. package of smoked Nova salmon
  • 1 pint sour cream
  • 5 tablespoons heavy cream
  • capers, I used two kinds, one in brine and one packed in salt
  • horseradish in a jar
  • baby dill pickles, cut lengthwise
  • any specialty mustard, I used champagne dill (found in the mustard aisle)
  • fresh dill

I love that this is so easy to make and so good! Combine the sour cream and the heavy cream and put in a bowl. Sprinkle the salted capers around the sour cream. Put the mustard, capers, drained from the brine and the horseradish in your shot glasses or any small bowls. Rip up the salmon into bite size pieces and put on a plate, spread some freshly chopped dill on the side. Arrange your platter with the bowl of sour cream, the salmon, condiments, and the pickles and chips. Spread out some cocktail knives and forks and enjoy!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Shrimp & Grits

This isn't really the traditional shrimp and grits recipe with bacon and green pepper sauteed with the shrimp, this is more of a shrimp scampi and grits. And the grits have Parmesan and ricotta cheeses folded in it instead of the Cheddar cheese. I know, I know I am typing as fast as I can so you get the ingredients you need to make this tonight, lol. It's really good especially when the wine and butter garlic sauce meets the cheesy grits on your fork! What's good about this dish is it's quick enough for dinner when you are in a rush and nice enough for company, especially when paired with a caesar salad with chunky croutons and a flourless chocolate torte for dessert. Enjoy!

  • 1 pound shelled and deveined shrimp
  • 7 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup Moscato wine
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup stone ground corn grits
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1.2 cup ricotta cheese
  • freshly ground pepper
  • sea salt

In a dutch oven, saute the garlic, 1 tablespoon butter and the olive oil. Heat this on low heat, stirring often and make sure you don't burn it. Once your garlic is soft, stir in the shrimp until it turns pink around the edges. This happens quickly. Next add in the wine and let it come to a boil and flip the shrimp over. Increase the heat and add in the parsley and one tablespoon of butter. Stir and make sure the biggest piece of shrimp is cooked through and opaque. Season with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed. Meanwhile, you can make the grits according to package. Once they are done, keep the heat on low and stir in one tablespoon of butter, the Parmesan and ricotta cheeses. Season with salt and pepper according to taste. This serves about 4 people. Spoon the shrimp alongside the grits with lots of wine butter sauce. Serve with fresh ground pepper.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Grilled Poundcake with Blueberry Chamomile Butter

My favorite part of any holiday including the fourth of July is the morning of. I love the quietness of it and just taking it nice and easy. And this grilled pound cake with blueberry butter that has a hint of chamomile and vanilla is just the thing to enjoy in the calm of the morning. Enjoy and I hope you have a great 4th of July!

  • 1 pint whipping cream
  • 3/4 cup blueberries
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 bags of chamomile tea or loose tea about about 2 tablespoons
  • 1/4 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 pound cake, cut into thick slices
  • butter flavored cooking spray
  • raspberries on the side

Bring the whipping cream and the chamomile tea bags to a light boil. Remove and let it cool. Once cool, let it sit in the fridge overnight. Use bags that don't have metal staples in them. Once you bring it out of the fridge, this gets a little messy but it's worth it, remove the tea bags scraping any cream that has surrounded them. Squeeze the tea bags well, you want all of the chamomile essence in the cream. I ended up breaking one of the bags and left some of the chamomile leaves in the cream. Stir in the blueberries, vanilla extract and the confectioners sugar in and with a hand blender combine well until it begins separating. Once you see that the cream has come together into a consistency of butter, you want to strain it in a cheesecloth, (I used a paper towel) to get all of the liquids out. Once all you have is butter, you can use it right away or form it. You can put it into a decorative bowl and cover or form it into a log and roll in parchment paper. Fire up the grill and spray your poundcake slices and grill them until you get some nice marks. They grill up quickly. Spread your butter on them and it's a yummy start to a day of celebrating independence. :)

Monday, July 2, 2012

Homestyle Red, White & Blue Salad

Time is just flying by, I can't believe half of the "new" year is already over and we are in July. The fourth is just a few days away! Time for barbecues, dips in the lake, fireworks and good times to celebrate Americas' independence. When I was a little kid, I went through a "food separation stage," lol, you know what I talking about, where all your food had to be separate on the plate. My mashed potatoes could not touch the corn and the corn could not touch the meatloaf and gravy. That meeting on the plate equalled getting the cooties, lol. As I got a little older, I got over that stage and secretly loved when my potato salad and my macaroni salad met. A little potato with macaroni creaminess...Mmm. So if you have that little secret love too, this is a great salad to make for your Fourth of July celebration.

  • 1 1/2 pounds purple potatoes, cubed (about an inch in size) and cooked
  • 1 1/2 pounds red potatoes, skin left on, cubed and cooked
  • 1 pound of trottole pasta, or any fun pasta that is about an inch in size, cooked al dente
  • 3 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup grated carrots
  • 3 soft boiled eggs, finely chopped
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 heaping teaspoon deli style mustard
  • 2 heaping tablespoons relish
  • a few splashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Vegeta or any all purpose seasoning that you like

Combine all of your ingredients well and adjust the seasoning, if needed. This salad is even better when it's left to sit overnight in the fridge, so the flavors get to mingle. Enjoy!