Tuesday, October 7, 2008

TWD: Caramel Peanut Topped Brownie Cake

This week's Tuesdays With Dorie, was the mouthwatering Caramel Peanut Topped Brownie Cake. This was one of the first recipes that caught my eye when I got the cookbook.  It was chosen by Tammy of Wee Treats by Tammy, click on the link to visit her blog!

I decided to make these treats in a muffin tin.  For some reason I thought they wouldn't rise, so I filled my tins up most of the way.  These babies GREW!  So, they were big ole cupcakes.  Which was fine.  I tried to level them out to make them look a little prettier, but really with chocolate, peanuts and caramel, how can you go wrong?  My caramel took much longer to make than what was called for, but it came out perfectly.  And I burned myself not once, but twice trying it out.  It gets HOT!

Check out all the Tuesdays with Dorie blogs by clicking here

Next week, another great recipe I am very excited for:  Lenox Almond Biscotti

Thursday, September 11, 2008

BB: Grown Up Mac and Cheese

This months first Barefoot Bloggers pick, chosen by Heather of Randomosity and the Girl, was for Grown Up Mac and Cheese. I must say I was thrilled at this choice, I have been dying to make a Mac and Cheese, and I loved the grown up cheeses used!

My husbands immediate comment was: "oh my god, this mac and cheese is better than my mothers". Hehe. I said, no honey, its just VERY different. It was sooo good, though. I did not have a problem with the blue cheese being overwhelming. I thought the balance was perfect. I actually tasted mostly cheddar, then gruyere, and maybe just a hint of the blue. Any way you look at it, It was GOOD, as you can see by my GIANT side of the mac with my dinner. Boy was I full!! Also, notice the brocolli, I had to do something to feel healthy after all that mac and cheese!!

4 ounces thick-sliced bacon
Vegetable oil
Kosher salt
2 cups elbow macaroni or cavatappi
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
3 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated
2 ounces blue cheese, such as Roquefort, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch nutmeg
2 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
2 tablespoons freshly chopped basil leaves
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place a baking rack on a sheet pan and arrange the bacon in 1 layer on the baking rack. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the bacon is crisp. Remove the pan carefully from the oven - there will be hot grease in the pan! Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and crumble when it is cool enough to handle.

Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don't boil it. Melt the butter in a medium pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or 2 more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, blue cheese, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and crumbled bacon and stir well. Pour into 2 individual size gratin dishes.

Place the bread slices in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until you have coarse crumbs. Add the basil and pulse to combine. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the top of the pasta. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

TWD: Chunky Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Chocolate Chipsters

I love peanut butter, oatmeal, and chocolate chip cookies, so this cookie was for me!! I made them a few days ago, in a hurry, as I had company coming over, and they were GONE before I could get a picture! Sorry - I hate when that happens!

But they were good. Mine came out somewhat flat, but thats not a bad thing. They were soft, and chewy, with just a subtle peanut butter flavor, a hint of spice and a little crisp around the edges. I used chunky PB, and also added extra chocolate chunks! I was CRAVING chocolate like crazy while I was making them, and wanted them to be all good and melty, so I added extra.

Thanks to Stefany of Proceed With Caution for a great cookie pick, check out her blog for the recipe. But seriously, if you love to bake, Dorie's book is a must have. An investment well spent, I promise! Check out all the TWD bakers and blogs here.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

BB: Un-butterflied Chicken

Okay, okay, I'm a chicken (hehe). I just couldn't buy a whole chicken and debone and butterfly it. I just couldn't. I'm kind of new to this whole cooking thing, and I've been doing really well, and I wasn't in the mood for a disaster.

SOOO... I bought bone-in, skin-on breasts. And just rubbed the yummy "paste" under the skin. I grilled these babies, on medium heat on the grill for about 15 minutes on each side.
In the words of my husband: "This is the best chicken I've ever had". Seriously, it was good. So here it is, this weeks Barefoot Bloggers pick, Butterflied Chicken, chosen by Stefany of Proceed With Caution.

The recipe:

1/4 cup chopped fresh rosemary leaves, plus 2 sprigs
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
Good olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 roasting chickens (2 1/2 to 3 pounds each), deboned and butterflied
1/2 lemon, thinly sliced

Mix the chopped rosemary, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper together in a small bowl to make a paste.
Place the chickens on a sheet pan, skin side up, and loosen the skin from the meat with your fingers. Place 1/2 of the paste under the skin of each chicken. Rub any remaining paste on the outside and underside of the chickens.

Turn the chicken skin side down and scatter the lemon slices and sprigs of rosemary over each chicken. Season with salt and pepper. Roll each chicken up, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Heat a grill with coals (I used a gas grill- on Medium heat). Spread the coals out in 1 dense layer and brush the grill with oil. Unroll the chickens, place them on the grill and cook for 12 minutes on each side.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

TWD: Granola Grabbers

For this weeks TWD, Michelle, from Bad Girl Baking chose a cookie!  The Granola Grabbers!  They looked great in the book, and I was excited to try them out.

They were in fact, very good.  They were sweet, and tasted, as one would expect, like a granola bar!!  The only modification I made, was that I left out the wheat germ, and added some of the crumbs from the bottom of the granola and some extra flour to make up for it.  For the recipe, go over and visit Michelle's blog.  

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

BB: Panzanella

For this installment of the Barefoot Bloggers, chosen by Melissa of It's Melissa's Kitchen, we made a Panzanella salad. I had never heard of this salad before this, but it was very good. I halved the recipe, and I would say, there was enough for 3 very good sized servings, to eat as a meal. We loved this salad, it was light, refreshing and perfect for a summer afternoon.

Source: foodnetwork.com
Recipe below halved from original

1 1/2 tablespoons good olive oil
1/2 small French bread or boule, cut into 1-inch cubes (3 cups)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large, ripe tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/2-inch thick
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
10 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons capers, drained

For the vinaigrette:
1/2 teaspoon finely minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
1/4 cup good olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a large saute pan. Add the bread and salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 10 minutes, or until nicely browned. Add more oil as needed.

For the vinaigrette, whisk all the ingredients together.

In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, red onion, basil, and capers. Add the bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Serve, or allow the salad to sit for about half an hour for the flavors to blend.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

TWD: Black and White Banana Loaf

For my first TWD recipe, the Blueberry Sour Cream Ice Cream was the recipe, chosen by Dolores of Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity. Well, I don't have an ice cream maker, and have never made ice cream any other way, and I didn't want my very first TWD to result in a sloppy disaster. So, I opted to do last weeks recipe, the Black and White banana loaf, chosen by Ashlee at A Year in the Kitchen, which is where you can find the recipe. When I first got Baking - From My Home to Yours, I was immediately drawn to this recipe. Bananas and chocolate is a heavenly combination in my opinion! When I saw that it was chosen a a TWD recipe, I decided to join. I have been hesitating for awhile, not sure if I can commit 100%, but I am going to try, and I figure you really one HAVE to bake twice a month, not every week, and that I can definitely handle!

So, back to the banana loaf.

I read through a few of last week posts about this recipe, and I have to say I baked this with some serious reservations. A lot of people seemed to dislike this recipe. I went in with the understanding that this was NOT a typical banana bread. Didn't taste like one, didn't have the texture of one. That, I was fine with. I love chocolate and bananas!! I did cook it for the full hour and a half, since many people thought it came out runny, and I had no problems. I also only used about 1 1/4 medium sized bananas to cut back on the liquid as well. It wasn't runny at all, and the texture seemed perfect to me. I honestly loved this banana loaf. It has a unique banana, rum, chocolate flavor, each very distinct. The nutmug also comes through. It really was unlike anything I expected when I first saw the recipe, but I loved it none the less! Coming next week: Granola Grabbers! Chosen by Michelle of Bad Girl Baking (love that name!!).

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Cherry Muffins

Adapted from: recipezaar.com

I bought a bag of my favorite fruit, cherries, this afternoon, and I have been dying to make muffins, hence, these cherry muffins. I found a blueberry muffin recipe on recipezaar.com, so I just subbed out the blues for the cherries!

I made the batter, gave it a little taste, and thought, wow, this really isn't very sweet, maybe I need a bit more sugar... I turned for the sugar, and realized I never added ANY! Oops. So my batter was ultimately probably over mixed, and also probably not as combined as I would like, but the end result was still good. These were sweet, light and moist!


1 cup fresh cherries, pitted and quartered
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1-1 1/4 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Line or butter/grease 12 muffin cups
3. If using fresh cherries, rinse and thoroughly dry the berries.
4. In a small bowl, toss the fresh or frozen berries with the 1 tablespoon flour.
5. In a large bowl, stir together the 2 cups flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; make a well in the center.
6. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg and 1 cup of the buttermilk until combined.
7. Whisk in the vanilla and melted butter.
8. Pour the buttermilk mixture into the well.
9. Begin stirring the liquids, gradually drawing the dry ingredients into the well until they are almost, but not quite, combined.
10. If mixture is to thick, add the additional 1/4 cup of buttermilk and gently mix.
11. Add the cherries and fold in just to distribute evenly taking care not to overmix.
12. Evenly divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups.
13. Bake the muffins for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.
14. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then carefully turn out onto the rack.
15. Serve warm, or cool completely.
16. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Shrimp Etouffee

Source: Cooking Light

When I was flipping through my Cooking Light I was elated to see a recipe for shrimp etouffee. I was in New Orleans with some friends last month for my very first visit to the unique city, and I have to admit that I was pretty upset when it was time to leave and I had not had the chance to try all the restaurants/dishes I wanted to! Next time. On the flight home I immediately started thinking about the Cajun meals I wanted to cook for DH when I got home. I had a crawfish etouffee when I was out there, so I was so happy to see this lightened version of etouffee in Cooking Light I could prepare for us. 


4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 bay leaf
1/3 cup butter, divided
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (about 2 1/4 ounces)
Cooking spray
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
2/3 cup diced celery
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 tablespoon salt-free Cajun seasoning
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper (I used about 1 tsp of flakes, we like it SPICY!)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, divided
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (about 30 shrimp)
4 cups hot cooked long-grain rice

1. Combine first 4 ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat; bring to a simmer. Cover and remove from heat.

2. Melt 1/4 cup butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Add flour to pan; cook 8 minutes or until very brown, stirring constantly with a whisk. Remove from heat. Add 1 cup broth mixture to pan; stir with a whisk until smooth. Add remaining 3 cups broth mixture, stirring with a whisk until smooth; set aside.

3. Melt remaining 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon butter in a large Dutch oven coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add 1 1/2 cups onion, celery, and bell peppers to pan; cook 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender and onion is golden brown, stirring occasionally. Stir in 3/4 cup water, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add tomato paste, Cajun seasoning, garlic, salt, black pepper, and red pepper to onion mixture; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add reserved broth-flour mixture and Worcestershire sauce to pan, stirring well to combine; bring to a simmer. Cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add green onions, 1/4 cup parsley, and shrimp; cook 3 minutes or until shrimp are done. Discard bay leaf. Serve over rice. Sprinkle each serving with 2 teaspoons remaining parsley, if desired.

Makes 6 servings

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Pate Brisee

As Seen On: Brown Eyed Baker


Makes two 8- to 10-inch single-crust pies or one 8- to 10-inch double-crust pie
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut in pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water


Place the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor, and process for a few seconds to combine. Add the butter, and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 seconds. With the machine running, add the ice water in a slow, steady stream, through the feed tube, just until the dough holds together. Do not process for more than 30 seconds.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface. Divide in two. Place each half on a sheet of plastic wrap. Flatten, and form two discs. Wrap, and refrigerate at least 1 hour before using.

Blueberry Pie

Source:  Williams Sonoma
As Seen on:  Brown Eyed Baker

This was the very first pie, and pie dough I have ever attempted!  I can say that the taste was overwhelmingly positive for both!  As you can see from my photo, it is NOT the most beautiful pie, but maybe I meant for it to be "rustic" looking, yeah.  It's a rustic pie.  I can practice on the presentation later, I wanted to get the taste right this time around! 

2 rolled-out rounds of basic pie dough (see Pate Brisee recipe here)
4 cups blueberries
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice, strained
3/4 cup sugar
3 Tbs. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 Tbs. cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Fold 1 dough round in half and carefully transfer to a 9-inch pie dish. Unfold and ease the round into the pan, without stretching it, and pat it firmly into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Using kitchen scissors, trim the edge of the dough, leaving 3/4 inch of overhang.

Set the dough-lined pan aside, along with the other dough round, in a cool place until ready to use. Place the blueberries in a large bowl, sprinkle with the lemon juice and toss to coat evenly. In a small bowl, stir together the sugar, cornstarch, lemon zest, salt and cinnamon. Sprinkle the sugar mixture over the berries and toss to distribute evenly. 

Immediately transfer to the dough-lined pan. Dot with the butter. Fold the reserved dough round in half and carefully position it over half of the filled pie. Unfold and trim the edge neatly, leaving 1 inch of overhang, then fold the edge of the top round under the edge of the bottom round and crimp the edges to seal. Using a small, sharp knife, cut an asterisk 4 to 5 inches across in the center of the top to allow steam to escape during baking. 

Refrigerate the pie until the dough is firm, 20 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 375°F. Bake the pie until the crust is golden and the filling is thick and bubbling, 50 to 60 minutes. 

Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely to set, 1 to 2 hours. Serve at room temperature or rewarm in a 350°F oven for 10 to 15 minutes just before serving. 

Makes one 9-inch pie; serves 8. Note: If fresh blueberries are unavailable, use frozen blueberries (without thawing them first) and increase the baking time by 10 to 15 minutes.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Dorie's Chewy Blondies

Source:  Baking From My Home to Yours, Dorie Greenspan


I am not a part of Tuesdays with Dorie. I would love to be, but just the idea of having a new baked good in my house every week makes my pants tighter, so no TWD for me. But, I was inspired to buy the book!! And, in keeping with the TWD theme, and because I think it is the right thing to do, I will not post Dorie's recipe here.

I made these twice over 4th of July weekend. Once to bring to a cookout, I tried one, and loved it. Dorie calls for about a cup of 4 mix-ins in her recipe. Chocolate chunks, Heath bits, coconut, and walnuts. I bought a bag of each, and used roughly 1/2 of each bag to make one batch of blondies. I knew these would sit and waste away in my cabinet, so the day after the cookout, I made ANOTHER batch. This batch was for us at home to enjoy. And boy were they were good!

I did have to add about 7 minutes to Dorie's baking time, and I also let it sit in the pan about 5 extra minutes more than Dorie recommended, as I thought it would fall apart, but I think they came out perfect. Buttery, Chewy, Chocolately, Sweet, just delicious.

BB: Smoked Salmon Spread

Source: foodnetwork.com

Late July's Barefoot Bloggers selection was Ina's Smoked Salmon Spread. I am not a big fan of smoked salmon, although, every once in awhile, I will try a smoked salmon cream cheese on a bagel, or have a bite of my husbands lox on his bagel. I don't hate it, I just don't enjoy it as much as other things that are usually available to me at the same time!

I halved the recipe for this since 1: I don't love smoked salmon, and 2: It was only DH and I that would be eating it.

The spread was actually quite good. DH LOVED it. I did enjoy a little of it, actually more than I thought I would, but again, I didn't have the same feelings of love as DH had.

I'm glad he liked it, and I'm glad I tried it. That is the whole point of participating in a cooking blog, isn't it?? Thanks to Ashley of The Spicy Skillet for late July's selection! Can't wait to see whats to come in August!

Ingredients (already halved):

4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon minced fresh dill
1/2 teaspoon prepared horseradish, drained
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 pound (4 ounces) smoked salmon, minced


Cream the cheese in an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until just smooth. Add the sour cream, lemon juice, dill, horseradish, salt, and pepper, and mix. Add the smoked salmon and mix well. Chill and serve with crudites or crackers.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

BB: Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread

For our first July Barefoot Bloggers recipe, a jalapeno cheddar cornbread, was chosen by Sabrina and Alexander of Cooking with the Kids.

This cornbread was more cake-like in texture than the more common crumbly cornbread that I am used to. I think it kind of surprised me at first, but after my second piece, I started to enjoy it! This would be great dipped in a spicy chili during football season! I think I will save this one for then! It's coming up soon!!!

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 cups milk
3 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, plus extra to grease the pan
8 ounces aged extra-sharp Cheddar, grated, divided
1/3 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts, plus extra for garnish, 3 scallions
3 tablespoons seeded and minced fresh jalapeno peppers

Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, eggs, and butter. With a wooden spoon, stir the wet ingredients into the dry until most of the lumps are dissolved. Don't overmix! Mix in 2 cups of the grated Cheddar, the scallions and jalapenos, and allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking pan.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and sprinkle with the remaining grated Cheddar and extra chopped scallions. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool and cut into large squares. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

BB: Parmesan Chicken

Source: Foodnetwork.com

This is my first Barefoot Bloggers post! This is also my first Ina Garten recipe! It was tasty! I have wanted to try a few of hers, but was never able to get around to them... so I am excited to see what new recipes this group brings to us! One more first... it is my first blogging group that I have joined!!! If you are interested check us out at barefootbloggers.wordpress.com! Thanks to Megan of My Baking Adventures for choosing a great recipe!

As you can see, no photo...

Unfortunately, my camera is acting up. Hopefully we can figure it out soon, since I just started my own blog, and I have very few pics so far!

This recipe was EASY, so simple! Really, I am no expert cook, I followed the recipe to a T and it came out perfectly! The only thing I would change, it that I would use a spring mix as the salad topper. I love spring mix, and our grocer was sold out, so I used an Italian mix of romaine and radicchio. It was a little too bitter and had a bit too much crunch. So definitely spring mix next time!!

4 to 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 extra-large eggs
1 tablespoon water
1 1/4 cups seasoned dry bread crumbs
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving
Unsalted butter
Good olive oil
Salad greens for 6, washed and spun dry

1 recipe Lemon Vinaigrette, recipe follows

Pound the chicken breasts until they are 1/4-inch thick. You can use either a meat mallet or a rolling pin.
Combine the flour, salt, and pepper on a dinner plate. On a second plate, beat the eggs with 1 tablespoon of water. On a third plate, combine the bread crumbs and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan. Coat the chicken breasts on both sides with the flour mixture, then dip both sides into the egg mixture and dredge both sides in the bread-crumb mixture, pressing lightly.

Heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saute pan and cook 2 or 3 chicken breasts on medium-low heat for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until cooked through. Add more butter and oil and cook the rest of the chicken breasts. Toss the salad greens with lemon vinaigrette. Place a mound of salad on each hot chicken breast. Serve with extra grated Parmesan.

Lemon Vinaigrette:

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
1/2 cup good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Yield: 6 servings

Monday, June 16, 2008

Sparkling Sangria

Source: foodnetwork.com

What a perfect summer drink! I brought this to a BBQ at a friends house this weekend, and before too long we were asking the boys to run to the store and get us another bottle of Cava so we could make another batch! Yum!!

1 cup brandy
1/2 cup orange liqueur
1/4 cup sugar, super fine
1 orange, thinly sliced
1 pint raspberries
1 lime, thinly sliced
1 lemon, thinly sliced
2 bottles sparkling wine or cava, chilled

In a large pitcher, combine the brandy, and orange liqueur. Pour in the sugar, stir or shake the pitcher thoroughly to mix until the sugar dissolves. Add all the fruit at once. Add the cava and serve as is or on ice.

Father's Day

For Father's Day, DH and I hosted a clamboil for my parents. A clam boil is my absolute favorite summertime meal. We usually get to enjoy 2 or 3 a summer, this was the 1st one this year, and I already can't wait for the second!

Clamboil for 4

4 - 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 lb lobsters
4 lbs steamers
4-6 red potatoes (depending on size)
1 onion
1 1/2 lbs chorizo sausage
4 corn on the cob

Place steamers in cool salted water for about an hour. This will help the steamers "spit out" some of the sand in thier shell. After they have sit, remove and discard any clams that float, these are NO GOOD!

Get a large stock pot, bring about 1 -2 inches of water to a boil. Quarter potatoes and place in boiling water for about 8 minutes. Add Chorizo and Onion, lobsters, steamers, and corn on the cob. Cover. Cook for about 15 minutes until lobsters are bright red and steamers are open.

Enjoy the best one pot meal of the summer!! And be sure to have PLENTY of paper towels for hand and face clean up along the way, this meal is a messy one!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Grilled Eggplant with Caramelized Onion and Fennel

I had this recipe saved for some time. You see, I have never grilled eggplant, and thought this might be a good way to try it, but I had never gotten around to making it. Friday afternoon I was searching for something to make for dinner, and I came across this recipe in my que. I had already settled on Rosemary Steak Kebabs for dinner, but thought this would be a great start to that meal. And it was. DH loved it, and it is incredibly healthy. We plan on making it again when his family comes to visit!

Source: Cooking Light

1 (1 1/4-pound) eggplant (about 4-inch diameter), peeled
Cooking spray
1/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
2 3/4 cups chopped fennel bulb (about 1 large bulb)
2 cups finely chopped yellow onion
2 cups trimmed arugula
1 teaspoon white balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon extravirgin olive oil
1 cup quartered cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled goat cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

Prepare grill to medium heat.

Cut eggplant crosswise into 8 (1/2-inch-thick) slices. Lightly coat both sides of eggplant slices with cooking spray; sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Place on a grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 7 minutes on each side or until browned. Set eggplant slices aside.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add fennel and onion; sauté 8 minutes or until vegetables are tender and lightly browned.

Combine remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, arugula, vinegar, and oil in a medium bowl; toss gently to coat. Divide arugula mixture evenly among 8 appetizer plates; top each serving with 1 eggplant slice. Arrange about 1/3 cup fennel mixture on each eggplant slice; top with 2 tablespoons tomatoes and 1 tablespoon cheese. Sprinkle the chopped basil and thyme evenly over cheese.

8 servings

Rosemary Steak Kebebs

These are fantastic. I was perusing the internet for a good kebab recipe and came across this one, and thought, hmmm, steak and potatoes, DH will LOVE me! So I went for it. And he did, he loved them!! He insisted that we serve them again when his family comes down to visit in July. What an easy summer meal!

Source: Foodnetwork.com (an emeril recipe)

4 new potatoes, such as red bliss (about 3 ounces each)
1 large portobello mushroom cap, about 4 ounces
1 (14 to 16-ounce) steak
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
2 tablespoons minced garlic
4 (10 to 12-inch) thick, woody, rosemary branches, or 4 soaked, 12-inch bamboo skewers

Place the potatoes in a small, 1-quart saucepan and cover with water, by 1-inch. Set over high heat and bring to a boil. Cook the potatoes at a boil for 10 minutes, or until barely fork-tender. Remove from the water and allow to cool before cutting in half. Set the potatoes aside until ready to use.

Remove the stem and the gills from the portobello with a sharp knife and cut into 8 wedges. Place the wedges in a medium bowl.

Cut the steak into 8 even pieces, about 1 3/4 to 2 ounces each, and season with 1/2 teaspoon of the sea salt and the black pepper. Place in the bowl with the mushrooms.

Add the vegetable oil, balsamic vinegar, rosemary and garlic to the bowl and stir to coat the mushrooms and steak well. Wrap with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to marinate for up to 2 hours.

Remove from the refrigerator and skewer a potato on the rosemary branch, followed by a piece of steak, a mushroom wedge, followed by another piece of potato, steak and mushroom. Continue in the same manner with the remaining skewers and potatoes, pieces of steak, and mushroom pieces. Reserve any marinade remaining in the bowl for basting the skewers as they cook.

Heat a grill to medium-high and lightly oil the grill grates. Grill the kebabs, basting with the remaining marinade as they cook, for about 3 minutes. Turn and cook for another 3 minutes, basting, before turning over to cook on the first side again. Continue to cook on the first side for another 2 to 3 minutes before turning over and cooking a final 2 to 3 minutes. Season the kebabs with the remaining teaspoon of salt.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Buttermilk Pancakes

Source: allrecipes.com

5 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
6 tablespoons butter, melted
5 cups buttermilk
5 cups all-purpose flour
5 teaspoons baking powder
5 teaspoons baking soda
1 pinch salt (optional)
5 tablespoons sugar
Strawberries - or your favorite pancake filling!

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, butter and buttermilk. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and sugar; stir into the wet ingredients just until blended. Adjust the thickness of the batter to your liking by adding more flour or buttermilk if necessary.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and coat with cooking spray. Pour 1/4 cupfuls of batter onto the skillet, and cook until bubbles appear on the surface. Flip with a spatula, and cook until browned on the other side. Continue with remaining batter.

Makes a huge batch... 12 servings

Peanut Butter Heath Bar Cookies

Source: Hersheys

These cookies were fantastic, and incredibly soft. DH raved about them, and liked them so much more than the last batch of snickerdoodles I baked. I tried to explain that they are just a different cookie, and that my snickerdoodles were fine!! He loves chocolate & PB, though! Can't blame him!

1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup Peanut Butter
1-1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/3 cups (8 oz. pkg.) HEATH BITS 'O BRICKLE Toffee Bits, divided

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.

2. Beat shortening, peanut butter, brown sugar, milk and vanilla in large bowl until well blended. Add egg; beating just until blended. Combine flour, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into peanut butter mixture. Stir in 1 cup bits; reserve remainder for topping.

3. Drop by heaping teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheet; top each with reserved bits.

4. Bake 7 to 8 minutes or until set.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Cool Ranch Dressing

Adapted from allrecipes.com

This ranch dressing was so creamy and fresh tasting. It was fantastic. I will never buy a bottle again. The original recipe called for 1/2 cup buttermilk, I added more to thin it out a bit, and could have added even more, I think. I also double the seasoning of the original recipe since DH and I love a lot of flavor! The consistency at first was more that of a veggie dip, which I used the leftover for!! Yum!

1/2 cup light mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
3/4 cup low fat buttermilk
1 tablespoon green onion
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried dill weed
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, green onion, parsley, dill, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving.

Cobb Salad

Adapted from allrecipes.com

Okay, so, for my first post I have a Cobb Salad. Do you really even need a recipe for a Cobb salad? Really? I would say no, but hey, I have to start somewhere. DH and I have been craving a Cobb salad like crazy, and we both said we kind of felt like salad, so I figured I'd make one up for us. It was as good as I'd hoped - fresh lettuce, cucumbers, blue cheese... mmmmm. I also made a delicious homemade ranch dressing for it (Click here!). DH even asked what brand of dressing I bought because he thought it was so great! He was shocked that I made it myself! Silly man. So here it goes, a fresh Cobb salad, perfect for those days when it's too hot to cook!!

4 eggs
8 strips of bacon
1 head iceberg lettuce, shredded
1 rotisserie chicken (I used a premade chicken, purchased from the prepared foods section)
2 tomatoes, seeded & chopped
1 large cucumber, chopped
3/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
1 avocado, seeded & chopped

1. Hardboil eggs and chop
2. Cook bacon to a crisp, let cool, and crumble
3. Shred rotisserie chicken
4. Place iceberg lettuce on a large plate, drizzle homeade ranch dressing (or your favorite) over the lettuce, top with rows of each ingredient. Enjoy!

Makes 4 large salads.