Sunday, September 25, 2016

Peach, Arugula and Blue Cheese Salad

Hi Foodies! Are you guys getting your fall on? I love the colorful leaves on the trees, pumpkin and cinnamon anything, and the idea that cooler air is on the way so I can pull out my boots!  It's all fabulous! I spent some time this weekend pulling out my fall decorations and hanging my wreath on the door. I'm ready. I'm even going to make some pumpkin muffins this afternoon. Can you believe how pumpkin anything has become so popular?! Nothing represents fall though like the beautiful pumpkin. 

I'm making the most of the end summer by savoring the last of the peaches. One of my favorite fruits, peaches are in season from May to late September with peak months being July and August. To pick the best peaches, look at the stem area as it should be wide and open rather than narrow and closed off. The lightest color of the peach should be a warm hue (cream, yellow, orange, etc.), no green. Many of us squeeze the peach to see if it's ripe. No squeezing please! It might seem like a good idea but we are bruising the peach. It is okay to buy a bruised peach though as you'll know they're ripe and sweet. 

I actually saw this recipe at the grocery store. They had recipe cards sitting by the peaches. It sounded so good that I went and bought all the ingredients and made it that same day. I'm sure that's what they hoped would happen! I fell for it and I'm glad I did as it was DELISH! I tweaked the recipe a bit and you can do the same. Make it your own by adding chicken, different nuts (pistachios would be good), even apples or pears as we move into fall. I used these almonds in my recipe.

Peach, Arugula and Blue Cheese Salad

2 large ripe, medium firm peaches, cut in wedges
1 package of baby arugula, washed and dried
1/4 cup nuts like sliced almonds or chopped pistachios
4 oz Blue Cheese crumbles, I recommend Point Reyes Blue Cheese if you can find it
Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup olive oil
1/8 cup champaign vinegar
Juice of one lemon
1 heaping teaspoon dijon mustard
1 heaping teaspoon honey
Salt and pepper

Make your dressing first. I use a Mason Jar.

Add all of your dressing ingredients to the jar. Shake to mix. Taste and adjust for your taste buds. I don't normally do the usual 1 part vinegar to 3 parts oil. I like my dressing a bit zing-e-er (a made up word). 

In a large bowl, add the salad ingredients and drizzle dressing on top. Toss to coat. You won't need all of the dressing so you can save some for another meal. Serve immediately. Hope you enjoy!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Blood Orange Salad with Fennel and Goat Cheese

It's blood orange season and spring is around the corner. I call it the "sassy" fruit because it it has an attitude with its dark red flashy flesh. You can basically use blood oranges any way you would use other citrus. Unfortunately, I think many shy away from it because of its dark color. Sometimes these oranges are hard to find as they blend in with all the other fruit on display at the grocery store. You may have to seek them out but it's worth it.

I think of this salad as an on the edge of spring salad. The citrus takes it from an ordinary salad to a bright, wake up your taste buds salad. When I'm making a salad, I try to incorporate all kinds of textures and flavors to make it interesting to your tongue. I know most of us usually fall back on the lettuce, tomato and cucumber salad with bottled dressing. I hope every now and then, you'll give something different a try. Be creative. Add some herbs and different veggies. Make your own dressing. I know you'll love it and if you're like me, you'll never go back to bottled dressing!

Blood Orange Salad with Fennel and Goat Cheese

Salad Dressing:
1/4 cup of blood orange juice
1/2 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
Salt and pepper

Add all ingredients to a jar and shake to mix well. Taste for seasoning.

1 head of curly romaine, washed, dried and cut or torn into bite size pieces
1 fennel bulb, cleaned and sliced thin
1/2 red onion, sliced thin
5 oz goat cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup fresh, chopped mint
1/4 cup fresh, chopped basil
1/4 cup sliced toasted almonds

Add all of the salad ingredients except the almonds and goat cheese to a large bowl and toss to mix. Add the dressing a tablespoon at a time until dressed. Sprinkle the goat cheese and almonds on top and serve immediately.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Peach Crisp (Gluten Free)

I almost posted another salad but I thought to be fair I should give you something else equally as delicious. I also love dessert!

I have wanted to make a gluten free crisp for a while now. Apple crisps are one of my favorites in the winter but I'm always trying get away from using flour where possible. The challenge is making it so you can't tell you didn't use flour, which can be challenging.

Peaches are gorgeous right now. They smell delicious and taste even better. Sometimes it's hard to eat them though before they go bad. It seems they all ripen at the same time. This recipe works great for those peaches that are getting a little too soft.

I remember growing up my mom used to fix us sliced peaches with milk and sugar. We didn't have it very often but it was a treat. This crisp, like the peaches and milk, is all comfort. Add some vanilla ice cream and really take it over the top. You'll be happy you did.

Peach Crisp

Peach Mixture:
2 large peaches, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
2 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot
1-2 tablespoons sugar (depending on the sweetness of the peaches)

Crumb Topping
1 cup gluten free oats (regular, not quick cooking)
1/4 cup almond meal/flour
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold butter cut into small cubes, plus 1 tablespoon for the ramekins

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter four ramekins.

Add the peaches to a small bowl with the cornstarch and sugar. Mix well and set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, combine all of the ingredients except the butter. Mix the ingredients with a fork. Using your hands, add the butter and incorporate the butter by working it into the crumbs to form small pieces of dough, until almost all the crumbs are gone.

Divide up the peaches and add them to the ramekins. Using your hands, add the crumb mixture to each.  Place them on a tray and place in the oven.

Baker for 15-20 minutes. Let sit another 20 minutes before serving. Great with vanilla ice cream or some whipped cream.

Print recipe

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Grilled Shrimp and Summer Salad

I think I'm on a salad kick. I just realized that I've posted quite a few salads. I wish I looked like I eat salads all the time! I do like to make fun salads on the weekend, especially during the summer with all the fresh ingredients you can get.

It was hard to get back into things this week as I went on vacation last week. My family all met up in Idaho for a 4th of July bash and some downtime hanging out with family. It was so nice to get away and spend some time with everyone and just to be outside. The pace is slower, there's no traffic and it is just a beautiful place.

My grandmother's garden (yes she does have a green thumb)

The view from my aunt and uncle's place

I hope you're enjoying the summer. It's going by so fast.

I highly recommend a vacation if you can manage it! If not, make this salad and sit outside. At least you can relax for a moment.

Here's a new widget I have added to my site call Bloglovin. Here you can see all of the blogs you follow in one place and they'll send you an update daily with any new postings. Cool huh?! Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Summer Salad

1 large head of romaine lettuce, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 cob of corn, wrapped in a wet paper towel and microwaved for 2 minutes and then cut off the husks.
6 bocconcini (fresh mozzarella cheese)
1/4 cup sweet onion, chopped
1/4 cup basil, chiffinade

Cumin & Lime Vinaigrette

1 large lime, juiced
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/4-1/3 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all of the salad ingredients into a medium sized bowl. In a separate smaller bowl or jar, add all of the vinaigrette ingredients. Shake or stir well to combine ingredients.

Grill up your shrimp on a grill pan or outdoors. I seasoned them with some garlic powder and salt and pepper before grilling.

When the shrimp are done, add some of the dressing to the salad and mix well. Serve with the shrimp. Enjoy!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Strawberry, Kale and Walnut Salad

Hey! How are you guys? Enjoying the summer I hope.

This recipe came about by accident. I was going to make my Kale and Apple Salad, however, I cut into the only apple I had and it was bad. The only alternative left was strawberries and so I went with it. As you can see, I thought it turned out REALLY good.

This dressing sounds weird and you'll think it will taste like onion. It doesn't. It really has great flavor and consistency. Especially if you use sweet onions. I buy a bag of Vidalia onions at Costco every summer and hide them in the coolest, darkest place in the house so they don't spoil. They really are like candy and the only onion that I usually eat raw. Seriously, the best onions ever. I have made this with regular onions though and it's still really good.

The summer is flying by as is every month. I feel like we didn't really have a winter in California. It's gone from fall to summer. It's amazing how dry we are versus the rest of the US. If only they could send some water/rain to California.

Until next time...happy cooking!

Strawberry, Kale and Walnut Salad

Salad Dressing:
1/4 large sweet onion, chopped
1/4 cup grated parmesan or romano cheese
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor and mix until liquid in consistency.

5oz bag of baby kale, washed (any kind of kale will work, just remove any thick stems and chop it up)
1/2 cup chopped candied walnuts (you can use regular walnuts. I get the candied walnuts at Trader Joe's)
1 pint of strawberries, cut in quarters
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all of the salad ingredients and then drizzle about half of the dressing over the mix. Toss and add more if necessary. Serve and enjoy!

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Sunday, May 31, 2015

Summer Quinoa Salad

Quinoa pronounced "keenwa" is an interesting grain. It looks a lot like couscous but has more texture and bite to it. It's similar to any grain in that you have to add flavor as it really doesn't have any on it's own. The key to cooking quinoa is to make sure it comes out light and fluffy, like rice. If you add too much liquid, it can be mushy and wet and you end up with a consistency similar to oatmeal which is fine if that's what you're looking for. Me, not so much. To be fair though, many people do eat it for breakfast because of it's higher protein content. One cup of uncooked quinoa has 24g of protein. It's high in carbs like other grains so keep that in mind when serving some up for yourself.

I have finally found the right ratio of quinoa to water/stock, thanks to America's Test Kitchen. Your quinoa will come out perfectly every time. Experiment and add anything you want like spices, fruits, veggies, nuts, and herbs. The list is endless. Here is a recipe that I saw on TV recently and changed it up a bit.

A couple of tips:
-Salt your water well as it provides some flavor to the quinoa. You'll use less later on.
-Rinse your quinoa before using it to prevent any bitterness

Summer Quinoa Salad

1 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
1 3/4 cup stock or water
2 tsp. fine sea salt
1 Tbsp. olive oil

Directions: Add your olive oil to a saucepan and let it get hot. Add your drained and slightly dry quinoa and let it get hot, stirring for a few minutes. When you hear it popping, add your stock or water and salt. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, take a fork and fluff it a bit. Make sure the water has evaporated and it's fluffy. If not, let it go for another 2-3 minutes. Remove it from the heat. Let it stay covered for about 5 minutes. Let your quinoa cool completely for this salad.

Salad Mixture
25 red seedless grapes, cut in half
1/2 of an English cucumber cut in 1/2 inch dice
1/2 cup of chopped mint
1/2 cup of chopped parsley
1/2 cup chopped sweet onion or green onion
1/2 cup chopped almonds (optional)
1 avocado, cut in 1 inch dice
2 limes juiced
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl, add all of your ingredients except the avocado, lime, olive oil and salt and pepper to the quinoa and toss to mix. In a small bowl, add your lime juice and olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix it well. Taste for seasoning. Pour over salad and mix well. If you like your salad with more tang feel free to add more lime juice. It's a matter of preference. I added one more lime to mine. Just keep tasting to get the balance of the lime juice and seasoning just right. Add the avocado last so it doesn't get mushy. I only add it to the salad I'm planning on eating right away. The rest I save and add it later so it doesn't turn brown. Hope you enjoy.

Adapted from The Kitchen
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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Avocado & Chicken Tostadas

There are many tostada recipes out there. This recipe is not your typical tostada recipe but it's just plain easy and good. My mom used to make us a corn tortilla with cheese and she would put them in the oven until the cheese melted and the tortilla got nice and crispy. They were a great snack and I haven't forgotten them.

I posted these so you could see how easy it is to make a simple lunch or dinner. They have these crispy tortilla shells that you can buy at the grocery store. I found some that are cooked in coconut oil which is even better. I mashed up some avocado, topped with cheese and added rotisserie chicken, lettuce and tomato. Basically things I had on hand. You could put refried beans, cheese, hamburger meat and any toppings you like. Kids really like them with just cheese.

Easy Chicken Tostadas

Pre-cooked tostadas
Rotisserie chicken
Ripe avocado, mashed
Shredded cheese, your choice
Shredded lettuce
Tomato, chopped

I didn't list any amounts because it's pretty much up to you.

Preheat your broiler on high. Take a tortilla shell and gently spread the smashed avocado over it. Add the cheese. Place in the broiler and allow the cheese to melt. Watch closely...doesn't take long. Remove from oven and add chicken, salsa, lettuce and tomato and any other toppings you like. Enjoy!

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Saturday, June 14, 2014

Fennel & Orange Salad

Hello, hello, anyone out there? I'm still here, really I am. I've quit putting pressure on myself to blog every week because it just isn't happening. Eventually I'll get back to it.

I am excited to say I have been cooking more. Creating and trying new recipes. You can only imagine how many mini left over meals I have in my freezer. You'd think I'd be posting more right? It's challenging to get photos for the blog. When I'm cooking a recipe that I think will be delicious, I have the camera ready. Of course that's when I'm disappointed and I think, no way is anyone going to eat that. It's when I don't think of being ready to take photos that a dish turns out great. It's funny how things work out that way. Anyway, I then have to make the dish again so I can get some good photos. The life of a food blogger. Rough, I know. :) I only want the best for you. What can I say.

This dish is so refreshing. I made this right before Memorial Day weekend. When my mom and dad arrived for the weekend, I handed a bowl of this salad to my mom and said let me know what you think. She devoured it as I did. She looked up after and said, I need that recipe. There you go...two thumbs up from two true foodies.

I've wanted to try raw fennel for a long time. I've seen SO many recipes with raw fennel that look really good. I was reading a cookbook (one of my favorite things to do) and came across this recipe and actually had everything except the fennel. Luckily it is in season so it's easier to find right now and cheaper to buy. I got out my madoline and sliced it really thin, which I recommend. You can use a knife if you don't have one. Just watch the fingers!

What is really crazy is you can see the two different oranges in the picture. One looks more like the color of grapefruit but it is an orange, really it is. The darker one came from the farmer's market and the other from the grocery store. Hum..what?! It was definitely sweeter too. Lesson learned. For the highest quality vegs/fruits, buy from the Farmer's Market...if you can. We know that but it's not until you see the same piece of fruit a totally different color that you know it's true.

Fennel and Orange Salad

2 fennel bulbs (2 lbs), washed and core removed. Sliced ~1/8 inch thin
3 large oranges, peeled, segmented or quartered and cut into 1/4 inch pieces (save the juice)
1/2 cup mild black olives, sliced
1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

Add fennel, oranges, black olives, mint to a large mixing bowl and toss well to combine. In a small bowl, mix the lemon juice, any remaining orange juice, salt and pepper. Add to the fennel mixture and toss to combine. Check for seasonings. Serve! Can be refrigerated for a couple of days.

Adapted from Best American Side Dishes
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Saturday, May 10, 2014

Greek Style Green Beans

Vegetables. We have a love-hate relationship. 

Most vegetables are pretty low on the flavor scale and they're another dish to cook and clean. Sometimes it's just easier to ignore them all together but then my conscious speaks up and reminds me that I need to eat my vegetables so what's a girl to do.

I give it my best shot. I always have the greatest intentions when I go to the farmers market or grocery store each weekend. The fresh organic vegetables look so good and I think, I'm going to create something fabulous.  Guess what happens...nothing! The end of the week comes and they're still in my veggie bin. 

Every now and then I hit a home run and actually clean my plate. Like when I made these green beans. They're flavorful and just something different. I think part of it is just spending some quality time with your vegetables rather than doing the usual steaming or sautéing. 

The dressing I used on the beans is my favorite greek salad dressing. Take some romaine lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, feta and this dressing and I'm in heaven. I have eaten it for days in a row. Really yummy. I think it would be good on about anything.

Greek Style Green Beans

1 lb. washed and trimmed green beans
1 tablespoon clarified butter (or your oil of choice)
2 large tomatoes, chopped
8 oz. crumbled feta cheese

Greek Dressing:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
30 whole pitted kalamata olives, chopped
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper

To make the dressing, add the olive oil, vinegar, sugar, garlic and salt/pepper to a small blender or chopper and mix it well (it also can be done by hand). In a mixing bowl, add dressing and stir in the olives. This will stay good in the refrigerator for at least a couple of weeks. 

In a large saute pan, add your butter or oil and when hot, add your green beans. Salt and pepper your green beans. Sauté the beans and when they start to get some color on them, add 1/2 cup water and cover to steam. When still green but with a slight crunch, remove from pan and add to a large bowl. Add dressing, cheese, tomatoes and mix well to coat all of the beans. Check for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed. Serve warm but also good at room temperature.

Greek Salad Dressing adapted from the Pioneer Woman

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Roasted Garlic Mashed Cauliflower

I've been wanting to make this cauliflower dish for a while. A couple of years ago I made some mashed cauliflower without the roasted garlic and it was delicious. Rich and creamy. I've been dreaming of it ever since. This is a lighter version but the flavor is amped up with the roasted garlic. It's one of those dishes you taste to make sure the seasoning is right, and believe or not, it was perfect the first time. This would make a terrific side dish for anything you'd normally serve with mash potatoes or polenta. You won't miss the potatoes with this one.

I've been cooking all afternoon. Every now and then I get the urge to prepare for the week ahead so I'm not scrambling at 7pm on Monday night trying to figure out what to have for dinner. I hate it when that happens because then I end up eating something not so good for me. Today I made a few dishes that I can eat throughout the week. One of my favorites that I made for the week and that helps me get my veggies in is this Crunchy Walnut Salad. I love it. It's great with sandwiches or a piece of chicken. 

Hope everyone has a good week ahead and has the time to make and enjoy a few meals! 

Roasted Garlic Mashed Cauliflower

1 large head of garlic
1 large head of cauliflower, cleaned and chopped in large chunks
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1/4 cup cream (could use half-n-half, milk or coconut milk)
1/4 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper 
Parsley, chopped (garnish)

In a large saucepan, add cauliflower and add enough water to cover cauliflower. Add 1 tablespoon of salt. Cover and bring to a boil. Remove the lid when boiling. Check cauliflower after 8-10 minutes to see if fork tender. When fork tender, drain the cauliflower and then add back to saucepan if using an emersion blender or to a food processor or blender. Add butter and cream. Mix or blend until creamy. Add a tablespoon of chicken stock until cauliflower resembles mash potato consistency. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as you prefer. Sprinkle with parsley and serve hot. Serves 4-6.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Blueberries with Lemon Curd and Mascarpone Cream

You never know what each day is going to bring. My uncle passed away unexpectedly on Friday. He was such a good man. I know he didn't realize how much and how many people liked and cared about him. A good life cut way to short. I dedicate this posting to my Uncle Jeff. A very special man who will be sorely missed.

Spring is here, actually it's been here since January in California. I think we had fall, skipped winter and went straight to spring this year. I know many of you on the East coast had the worst winter ever. It is nice to see flowers blooming and to hear the birds chirping in the morning. My kitty loves it!

A little bit about this recipe. It is great for company because you can make it in advance. I love strawberries with mascarpone so I thought it would be interesting to try something similar with blueberries. Lemon and blueberries go together like basil and tomatoes. They bring out the best in each other. It's a rich dessert so you don't need a lot. I added crumbled cookie to add some crunch to the creaminess. I think a great dessert is one where you have several different textures. Hope you enjoy!

Blueberries with Lemon Curd and Mascarpone Cream

1 pint blueberries (washed and dried)
4oz mascarpone
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons lemon curd (Trader Joe's brand is yummy)
Zest of one lemon
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cookie, crushed (I used an Amaretto cookie. Could substitute biscotti or something really crunchy)
1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped

Place a third of the blueberries in each serving dish. Add a tablespoon of lemon curd to each bowl. In a small mixing bowl, add the mascarpone, heavy cream, sugar and lemon zest. With a hand mixer, mix until the consistency of whipped cream forms. Add about 2 tablespoons to each bowl on top of the lemon curd. Sprinkle the top with the cookie crumbs. Garnish with fresh mint. Serves 3.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Beet & Goat Cheese Salad with a Blood Orange Vinaigrette

Sounds very gourmet-ish doesn't it? I love blood oranges, not necessarily to eat on their own but for sauces and vinaigrettes or even cakes. They're in season now so I usually get a bag of them and squeeze the juice out of each of them and either whip something up or freeze the juice in ice cube trays for later. This time I decided to make a vinaigrette.

Here's my thoughts on making a salad. If I make a fruity dressing, I don't usually pair it with tomatoes or cucumbers, stuff that you have in a typical green salad. Instead I will add goat, feta or blue cheese and then either some fruit, like strawberries or orange segments or caramelized onions, beets or even butternut squash. Then I top it off with some chopped nuts. It's a nice change to your regular green salad. Hope you enjoy!

Beet & Goat Cheese Salad with Blood Orange Vinaigrette

1 pkg or 4 cups of baby salad greens, cleaned and dried
1 pkg or 6-8 small cooked or roasted beets (I buy them already cooked), chopped into 1 inch pieces
8 oz. goat cheese
1/4 cup chopped nuts (I used the "Slightly Sweetened" Walnuts from Trader Joe's)

Blood Orange Vinaigrette

5-6 small blood oranges, juiced - should have about 1 - 1 1/2 cups
1 tablespoon unfiltered honey
1/2 cup oil some unflavored oil since you want the taste of the oranges to come through. (I use less oil than the typical dressing recipe which is 1 part acid to 3 parts oil)
1 tablespoon champaign vinegar
1 teaspoon dijon mustard (I love the Amora French mustard above)
salt and pepper

In a large mixing bowl, add your clean greens, beets, and goat cheese (torn into small pieces). Add a couple of spoonfuls of vinaigrette to the salad and mix lightly. Taste a green to see if you have enough dressing. If not add a bit more. Add nuts and mix well. Serve immediately.

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Sunday, March 2, 2014

Kahlua Hot Chocolate

Need something that will warm your belly and make you feel good all over. I've got it for you. This hot chocolate is not for wimps. It's rich and chocolately with a touch of coffee liquor to take it over the top. 

I think it's because of all the rain lately but this morning after lunch, a cup of hot chocolate sounded so good to me. I'm trying not to eat cow dairy except small amounts of butter or cream. Sounds strange but it works. As such, I had to get creative. My mom and I bought some Unsweetened Chocolate Almond Milk over the holidays as she had seen a really good recipe for Hot Chocolate that she wanted to try. I bought some knowing I'd find something to do with it. The key is "unsweetened". There is also the Sweetened Chocolate Almond Milk. Don't go there. My version has a lot less sugar in it.

I was going to do my taxes today but instead I'm watching the Oscars and enjoying a cup myself right now. I find it amazing that it's on the entire afternoon and into the evening this year. It's definitely Oscarmania!  Take a breather and enjoy a cup yourself!

Kahlua Hot Chocolate

1 cup Unsweetened Chocolate Almond Milk
1/4 cream (can use Half & Half or milk)
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tablespoons Kahlua (can do 1T if don't want to taste the alcohol)
2 squares bittersweet chocolate bar, chopped (like Ghirardelli) and a little extra for garnish
1 tablespoon sugar
pinch salt
Whipped cream (homemade or from the can)

In a small saucepan, add all of the ingredients except the whipped cream. Bring the mixture to the brink of boiling, stirring often. Then turn off the heat. Pour into cups. Top with whipped cream and chocolate shavings. Enjoy. Makes two small cups or 1 large cup. 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Turkey Tamale Pie

Happy Saturday everyone! I've been in the kitchen this afternoon cooking up a few recipes. Sometimes you're in the mood to cook and other days, not so much. I think the reason I'm not always in the mood to cook is the cleanup. I am a messy cook. I get stuff all over floor, in the crevasses (you know, between the oven and the counter), the stove, you name it. I don't mind the dishes, it's all the other disasters I make. It's usually worth it...depending on the day and how the dish turns out.

Tomorrow is Super Bowl Sunday. I think it's almost become more about the food than the game, depending on who you ask. It is the second most popular food and beverage consumption day after Thanksgiving. I can see that. They say Americans will eat over 1.25 billion wings tomorrow, drink 50 million cases of beer, spending an average of $68 on food for the Super Bowl. That's a lot of good food and drink.

Did you know that each winning player gets paid $92,000 and each losing player $46,000? I'm sure with the millions they make each season, this isn't much to talk about. The trophy itself is worth $25,000. A few interesting facts.

I had planned to post a Super Bowl worthy dish but ran out of time. My usual excuse. There are quite a few on the blog already that would be good if you're scrambling to find a recipe - Party Meatballs, Easy Turkey Chili, Olive and Cheese Crostini, and Crab Bites to name a few.

This Turkey Tamale casserole is great for a weeknight. You can even make it on Sunday and then heat it up on the night you want to serve it. The flavors are great. All you need is a salad or vegetable on the side and you're ready to go.

Turkey Tamale Pie

Meat Mixture
1 pound ground turkey
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup pitted green olives, chopped
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Salt and Pepper

Corn Topping
4 cups water
1 cup cornmeal
4 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese or I substituted 1 cup Pecorino Romano (sheep cheese)

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. In a medium saute pan, cook turkey, onion and garlic, salt and pepper until meat is cooked through. Add tomatoes, olives, cumin, chili powder, and cinnamon. Mix well. Taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper if needed. Transfer to a 13x9 inch pan.

In a large saucepan, add water and whisk in cornmeal over medium high heat. Mix well and and stir for about 5 minutes until the mixture is thick. Remove from heat and add butter, salt, pepper and 1 cup of cheese. Mix well. Taste for seasoning. Pour or spoon over the top of the meat mixture and spread it evening over mixture. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup of cheese. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the mixture is bubbly around the edges. Serves 8. Freezes well too.

Adapted from Better Homes and Garden Mexican Authentic & Delicious
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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Turkey & Vegetable Stuffed Peppers

Happy New Year! I am finally getting back into cooking mode. I think I ate so much good food over the holidays that my taste buds were spoiled.

I had such a great holiday. We did our usual which was to go up to my brother's place in southern Oregon. The weather was beautiful, probably the warmest Christmas we've ever had there. Both my brother and sister-in-law are terrific cooks and we eat REALLY well. It's all about food, laughter and just hanging out together.

On New Year's Eve, we decided to do drinks and appetizers. My sister-in-law made Oysters G-Feller which were amazing. We also made Olive Crostini,  Armadillo Eggs and Buffalo Chicken Wings. Talk about delicious...

On New Year's Day, we had our customary Fried Wontons. Someday I'll share this recipe with you because it is amazing and something we all look forward to indulging in each year. It's a family thing as we set up a wonton assembly line and all make them together. Believe me, this saves a lot of time.

They also did a smoked pork shoulder and a Virginia ham, among other things. Let's just say, we were pleasantly stuffed the whole time we were there.

Back to the recipe at hand. I have tried several stuffed pepper recipes and haven't been a fan of any of them. I saw this one on TV the other day and thought it sounded interesting. It's actually really good and the turkey meat stays moist from all the veggies which your kids will never know are there. Assuming you can get them to eat a pepper. :) I served it with a yummy greek salad. Something I could eat everyday. Here's the recipe...enjoy!

Turkey & Vegetable Stuffed Peppers

Greased 8.5x11 Baking pan:

5 red, yellow, orange peppers, cut in half and seasoned with salt and pepper

Food processor: 
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into one inch pieces
2 ribs of celery, cut into one inch pieces
1 medium sized zucchini, cut into one inch pieces
1 leek, cut into one inch pieces
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Small bowl:
3 slices of regular white bread or gluten free bread
1/2 cup milk or half-n-half or almond milk (plain) or coconut milk or half water/half cream

Large bowl:
1 large egg
1/2 cup Pecorino Romano Cheese
1 lb. ground turkey or beef

1/3 cup white wine
2 tablespoons clarified butter or oil

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Spray your baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray and place your seasoned peppers, cut side up.
3. In a small bowl, add your bread and milk and let it soak for 15 minutes. As the bread softens, use your hand to break up the bread into small pieces.
4. Add all veggies and spices to your food processor, pulse until well mixed.
5. Heat a saute pan and add 2 tablespoons of oil/clarified butter. Once hot, add your vegetable mixture. Cook for 5 minutes until hot and then add wine. Cook mixture for a few more minutes or until the wine is fully absorbed into the mixture. Remove from heat and let cool.
6. In the large bowl with the egg, turkey and cheese, add the cooled veggie mixture, and soaked white bread. Use your hand to mix well.
7. Fill each pepper with turkey mixture. Sprinkle tops with a little more cheese and drizzle with olive oil. I also sprinkled with salt and pepper.
8. Bake for 50 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
9. Serve! Great as leftovers.

Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis
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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Date Nut Cookies & The 2013 Great Food Bloggers Cookie Swap

Before I get to the Date Nut Cookies, let me share with you all the delicious cookies, biscotti and brownies I received in the 2013 Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap. There's nothing like opening a package full of cookies from all over the U.S. It's really fun to see where they came from and to check out each of their blogs.

You might recall us having done the Great Food Bloggers Cookie Swap the past couple of years where money is raised for Cookies for Kids Cancer. This year the bloggers raised over $13,000! It's always a challenge to get the cookies made and out in time since we have to ship them out right after Thanksgiving. I'm always scrambling the last day to ship them but it's worth it. This year mom was here visiting me so we were able to do them together.

All of the goodies we received were delicious. Lots of chocolate! Below you'll find a picture of each and a link to their blog. I'm taking a photography class for fun and have to turn in a portfolio of photos this weekend. Of course I chose food. I used my new friends goodies as props as you'll see below.

Salted Caramel & Nutella Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies from Krystal at Ink & Frosting.

Double Chocolate Almond Biscotti with Sea Salt from Laura at Blogging Over Thyme

Peppermint Brownies from Melissa at Being a Bear

I choose my grandmother's Date Nut Cookies to send to my swap partners which were Ink Foods in Dallas, TX, Yums and Loves in Issaquah, WA, and Eat Bake Drink Cook in Washington, DC. They all have beautiful blogs.

I have very fond memories of these cookies. My grandmother always had these around at the holidays. She would usually have some in a tin or they would be in the freezer. I loved eating them right out of the freezer. They're a little crunchier but the date filling stays soft. Here's a step by step run down on how to make them.

Hope you enjoy these cookies as much as I have over the years.

Date Nut Cookies 

Date Filling:
1 cup water
1 cup finely chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans)
2 pounds of pitted dates, chopped
1 cup of sugar

1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
4 cups flour, sifted
2 teaspoon cinnamon
10 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups sugar

To make the filling, heat a large saucepan and add the dates, sugar, nuts and water. Stir over medium heat about 10 minutes until it all melts together and thickens.

To make the dough, cream together the sugar, butter and eggs. Add vanilla. Stir together the dry ingredients - flour, cinnamon, salt and baking powder. Add dry ingredients to the egg mixture. Once it is mixed well, freeze for at least one hour. It makes a soft dough.

To make the cookies: split the cookie dough in quarters and take one of these quarters, put the rest back in the freezer or fridge. Roll dough into a rectangle or oval and a 1/4 inch thickness. Make sure you flour the board and rolling pin to keep it from sticking. Spread a quarter of the date mixture over the dough. Roll up the dough on the long end. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in freezer for at least an hour. Do the same with the remaining quarters of dough. When you want to make cookies, preheat oven to 375 degrees, take a roll of dough out of freezer, slice the dough in 1/4 inch thickness and place on a cookie sheet 2 inches apart. Place in oven for 8-10 minutes. The cookies should not get too brown but have a slight golden color to them when you pull them out. Cool on cookie rack. Makes ~8-10 dozen cookies. You can cut this recipe in half if you want less cookies. It's really nice to have these in the freezer though, either cooked or in a roll so that you can have/make cookies anytime you need them. Enjoy!

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Saturday, November 2, 2013

Fall Minestrone

There are many reasons I like soups, hearty soups as you can see from my blog. If hearty enough, they're a complete meal. You can add a slice of crusty bread or just eat it on its own. You can make it ahead and freeze in 1-2 size portions that you can pull out of the freezer when you need it. They're also an easy way to eat a lot of vegetables in one yummy meal...and they taste good.  So when the weather cools down a bit, I pull out my soup pot and make a big batch. 

I've include butternut squash and kale in this Fall version but you can add whatever you like. Some things you could add are small pasta, potatoes, sweet potato, spinach...and on and on. That's the best part about soup, you can add whatever you like. Just start with your protein, then a base of onions, celery, carrots and garlic. Add tomatoes and broth and any additional veggies you like. Cook until the startch/veggies are done. Wala!

Fall Minestrone

2 Tablespoons oil
1 lb chicken sausage
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
2 cups chopped carrot
2 cups chopped celery
2 1.5 cups or 1 butternut squash trimmed and cubed
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 (15oz) can cannellini or great northern beans
1 28oz can tomatoes (any kind)
4 cups chicken broth
1 bag or 5-6 cups chopped kale
1/2 cup white wine
2 tablespoons store bought pesto
Pecorino Romano Cheese
Salt and pepper

In a large soup pot, add 2 tablespoons oil. When hot add your sausage and when almost cooked through, add the onion, carrot, celery, squash, garlic and thyme cooking over medium heat for about 8 minutes. Add the canned tomotoes, chicken stock, the bay leaf, 1 tablespoon kosher salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper. Cook for about 20-30 minutes or until the squash is cooked through. 

Remove the bay leaf and add the beans and kale. It will look like to much kale but just stir it around. It will shrink down just like spinach. Then stir in the white wine and pesto. Check for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed. Turn it on low if planning to serve right away. Let cool if planning to freeze in individual portions. When ready to serve, spoon into individual soup bowls and add a tablespoon (or more) of Pecorino to each bowl. Serve hot. Serves 8.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Breakfast Sausage

Happy Fall! I can't believe it's almost mid-October. Fall is my favorite season so I hope it slows down a bit so I have time to enjoy it. 

Over the last few months, I've been gradually trying to change my diet to eat more natural foods and less processed items and I'm not just talking about Cheetos. I'm mean trying to eat everything more in it's natural state rather than from a box or bag. It's challenging at times. Especially when you're in a hurry or out and about. 

I love sausage and bacon but I know eating nitrate free is better for you and the sausage and bacon that you find that is nitrate free is REALLY expensive. I have found that it doesn't necessary taste that great either. With memories of Martha Stewart, I decided to make my own sausage. The first batch tasted great but was as hard as a hockey puck. Definitely overcooked. Round two, I pulled out my meat thermometer and checked the sausage after each side was browned. It doesn't take long for them to reach around 150 degrees which was when I took them off the heat. The second batch turned out much better and tasted very similar to what you would find in a box at the grocery store - and are much cheaper. I used 2 lb. of ground pork and got 19 2oz patties. Next I'm going to buy a pork roast and grind my own meat. This will cut the price even more. Definitely a Martha move. I'll let you know how it goes. 

The key to good sausage is having enough fat in the meat, at least 10%, and not overcooking I found out. Make sure you have a meat thermometer that you can test your meat with as it cooks. I would take it out of the pan when it is at or around 150 degrees and then let it rest and it will continue to cook. It will stay nice and juicy this way. Feel free to add whatever spices you like. If you don't like as much sage cut back on this spice here. I cook them all up and then freeze them in batches so I can pull out what I need.

Homemade Breakfast Sausage

2 pounds ground pork (you can use a mixture of pork/turkey)
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
2 teaspoons dried sage
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1/4-1/2 cup coconut oil or some other frying oil

In a large bowl, add the pork sausage. In a small bowl, add all of the spices and mix well. Combine the spices with the sausage and mix with your hands until well combined. Form into patties (whatever size you like). Heat a cast iron skillet or frying pan until hot, add two tablespoons of coconut oil. When melted, add some of the patties. Don't crowd them. You'll have to do several batches. Add additional oil to the pan with each batch. Cook until brown on each side and then check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer. When the patties reach between 150-160 degrees, remove from pan and let cool. Don't overcook. Makes 19 2oz patties.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Tarragon & Dill Potato Salad

There are a lot of really good potato salad recipes out there but when I saw this recipe, I just had to try it because I LOVE fresh herbs. I know many people don't cook with fresh herbs but I have found that the more I do, the more I love them and the flavor they add to dishes. You would not believe the flavor they add to this salad.

Tarragon is a popular herb used in French cooking and is really good in chicken, fish and egg dishes. It has a slight anise flavor but when combined with the dill it's very subtle. The dressing is tart with lemon, mayo and vinegar. The key to this salad though is seasoning. You need to season every step of the way on this one. Salt your potato water, your dressing and then do a final tasting to make sure the dressed salad has enough to balance out the tartness of the dressing.

I have served this with barbecue chicken and scallops so far. I think it would be great with any meat or fish dish though. It's one of those salads that I now crave. Imagine that! 

I know many of you don't like raw onion. I'm not a fan either but here's a tip. While your potatoes are cooking, chop up your red onion and soak them in a bowl of ice water. The water will take out the sharpness of the onion and leave you with a sweet crunch that is much more bearable. I do this all the time now if I need to use raw onion in a salad.

Hope you give this one a try. I think you'll enjoy it!


Tarragon & Dill Potato Salad

1 lb. Yellow Dutch or Yukon Gold potatoes, cleaned (I leave the skin on but you can remove if you prefer)
1/2 cup mayo
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon champagne vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
2 stalks of green onion, chopped
Kosher salt
Black pepper

Cut the cleaned potatoes into bite size pieces so that they are all close to the same size. You want them too all cook at the same rate. Add potatoes to a large pot of cold water. Add about a tablespoon of salt to the water. Bring the water to a boil and cook the potatoes until fork tender - 10-15 minutes. Don't overcook them though. Watch them closely. Drain the potatoes and cover with a dish towel for 10 minutes. 

In a small mixing bowl, add the mayo, lemon juice, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, pepper, and vinegar. Mix well. In a large mixing bowl, add the still warm potatoes, the mayo, herbs, and onions. Mix gently so you don't break up the potatoes too much. Taste for seasoning and add additional salt and pepper if needed. Let the salad sit for 30 minutes to the let the flavors develop before serving. Enjoy! Serves 4-6.

Adapted from the Barefoot Contessa
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Sunday, June 9, 2013

Balsamic Roasted Green Beans

I've been traveling quite a bit over the last couple of months and then had family visiting for Memorial Day weekend.  Had a really great time all around. I'm loving my work...who knew that could happen.  I really like the women I work with and it's nice to be able to say/hear "she must be PMSing" when one us of is in a bad mood. We all have different strengths that we play off of. I think that is why we all get a long so well.  

Next weekend I'm getting a new kitten. Here's a picture of her. No name yet. I have a few ideas. I've never had a kitten before so this should be interesting. She'll be fun to have around and I've always wanted a cat and a dog together so this is the start of my growing family that I never had. I'll let you know how it goes.

Yesterday it was 106 degrees here. So freakin hot especially when your air conditioner isn't working. Luckily there is a pool in the complex so I went and cooled off there. Amazing how much a dip in the pool can cool you off. I came back to my house and it was 87 degrees inside and it really didn't feel like it until maybe two hours later when I was trying to go to sleep. A little warm for sleep. Today is cooler though and I am so glad!

Okay, to the beans. These bean may not look edible but they taste like CANDY. Seriously! It's one of those wow moments. You know, you hesitantly bite into something and your tastebuds tune in, suddenly your brain registers and sends a message of OMG, these are good! The combination of the caramelized green beans and the balsamic sauce create a SWEET green bean. I think your kids will even like these.

Balsamic Roasted Green Beans

1 lb. green beans, washed and stems removed
1/2 red onion, sliced 
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon minced thyme
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1/3 cup toasted, roughly chopped walnuts

1) Cover a baking sheet with foil and add your washed, dried and trimmed green beans. Toss with red onion, olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in a 450 degree oven for 10 minutes.

2) In a small bowl, combine balsamic, honey, thyme, garlic. Remove beans from oven and using tongs, coat the beans with the balsamic sauce. Continue roasting until beans are a dark brown caramelized color and have started to shrivel, 10-12 minutes longer. Taste one for seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed.

3. Transfer beans to a serving bowl and sprinkle walnuts on top. Serve.

Serves 4

Adapted from Cook's Illustrated
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Saturday, May 4, 2013

EASY Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

I took a blogger break. You know how writers have writer's block? I had bloggers block. Not only that, but nothing I have cooked lately seemed to taste good. It could be that I'm trying not to eat gluten, wheat, eggs or dairy. I found out that I have some allergies to all of them. Not outwardly but who knows what kind of inflammation it creates on the inside.

Now I know there are a lot of good recipes out there that don't call for these ingredients but it seems like when you can't have something, it's hard to think of or find recipes that don't have them. It's a new challenge for me. It's definitely easier to make food taste good when you add cheese and butter to it but much more of a challenge when you don't.

This is a recipe that I got from a good friend about 20 years ago. She made it for me a few times and it was always delicious. We've lost touch but I always think of her when I make this sauce. It only takes a few ingredients that you probably have on hand. Not only that, but you control the ingredients and most importantly the sugar content. What's interesting is that the fennel seed gives the sauce a sausage like flavor. It's great because you don't have to have sausage in it for it to taste like sausage. I served it here with my favorite gluten free pasta called Jovial.

Enjoy and I'll be back soon.

Spaghetti Sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon fennel seed
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 lb ground beef, turkey, sausage or a combination of these
1 can diced tomatoes
1 8oz can tomato sauce
1 6oz can tomato paste
1 can small black olives, sliced or diced with juice (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons basil
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 tablespoon sugar
Salt and Pepper
Fresh basil and parsley, chopped (1 tablespoon each) garnish, (optional)

Combine first five ingredients in a sauté pan, salt and pepper, and cooked until meat is brown. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if needed before serving. Serve with parmesan cheese.

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Saturday, March 30, 2013

Lemon Almond Cake (Gluten Free)

Happy Easter! I hope you're having a good holiday weekend.

It's thundering outside right now and I am so excited. I have everything turned off so I can hear it. Probably sounds crazy but it must be because I grew up with thunderstorms and really miss them. My brother and I both feel the same way. It reminds me of really hot summers in the south and a thunderstorm would roll in and cool everything off...for about five minutes.

I'm trying to cut gluten from my diet. For a while anyway. We'll see how it goes. I know it can't hurt and maybe it will make me feel even better. Now if I could only cut out sugar, I'd really be getting somewhere. But one step at a time.

Here's a really nice, light and bright tasting dessert. I added a lemon sauce to it just to send it over the top but you certainly can just do the cake and it will be delicious. You can always grind your own almonds in the food processor if you can't find blanched ground almond flour.

Stiff peaks...

Almonds, eggs, sugar and zest

After you fold the egg whites into the egg almond mixture

Just out of the oven...

Ready to eat!

Lemon Almond Cake

1/2 pound or 1 3/4 cup blanched ground almonds or almond flour
1 1/4 cup superfine sugar
6 eggs, separated
zest of two lemons
1 teaspoon almond extract
Confectioners' sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Blend the sugar and egg yolks together until a pale yellow. Add lemon zest, almonds, and extract and mix well. Beat egg whites in a separate bowl until stiff peaks form. Fold in egg whites gradually to the egg almond mixture. Pour into a greased 9 inch springform pan. Bake 35-40 minutes until firm to touch and lightly golden brown. Remove outside ring and let it cool completely. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with lemon syrup below if desired. 

Lemon Syrup

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
Zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup water

Bring all ingredients to a boil. Turn off heat and let sit for 20 minutes to thicken. 

Adapted from Epicurious
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