Thursday, June 24, 2010

Chilled Avocado Soup

It's funny the things you remember about your grandparents.  Every summer, my grandpa (or Pappo, as I called him) kept a glass bowl of this cucumber concoction in the fridge.  The concoction consisted of sliced cucumbers, sliced white onions, white vinegar, buttermilk, salt, and pepper.  As a child, I wouldn't go near it.  It just looked weird to me (not to mention it had raw onions in it, which I absolutely wouldn't touch as a kid).  As I've gotten older, though, I've found I sometimes expect to just magically find this concoction sitting on my refrigerator shelf when I open the door.  I'm not sure why; maybe it's Pappo's way of sticking around.

This easy chilled soup brings those flavors back and is every bit as easy and refreshing as that cucumber salad was to my Pappo.  The recipe doesn't yield a large batch, but trust me when I say it does serve two.  You won't need a huge bowl of the tangy mixture to satisfy your craving for a healthy and cool summery treat.  It might even satisfy your craving for a summer memory...

chilled avocado soup
Chilled Avocado Soup
from "Martha Stewart Living", August 2009

1 English cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks
1/2 avocado, peeled and pitted
1/2 c. low-fat buttermilk
1 small garlic clove
1 TBSP fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper, to taste

1.  Place all ingredients except salt and pepper in a blender or food processor.  Taste and season with salt and pepper.  Thin with water, if desired.

2.  Refrigerate for at least one hour.  Serve with diced cucumber or lemon curls as a garnish, if you wish.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Oat Chocolate Chip Cookies with Walnuts and Coconut

Yum, yum, YUM!  The cookies were phenomenal!  I can't say as I was surprised, though.  The recipe is from one of my most favorite places on the planet--Garland's Lodge in Oak Creek Canyon, Arizona.  They were full of flavor and, since I reduced the amount of sugar called for in the original recipe, not too terribly sweet.  They are very flexible, too.  I absolutely plan to make them again with dried fruit, different nuts, and plays on plain ol' chocolate chips.  The recipe said it would make about three dozen, but I ended up with over four dozen!  It's a good thing, too.  M and I loved them and so did everyone else at his office that got the extras!  I bet you'll love them too.

Oat Chocolate Chip Cookies with Walnuts and Coconut
adapted from Amanda Stine and Mary Garland, Sharing the Table at Garland's Lodge

1 c. butter, slightly softened
3/4 c. brown sugar
3/4 c. granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 TBSP buttermilk (regular milk would be fine)
2 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 c. unbleached flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 c. rolled oats
8 oz. chocolate chips
3/4 c. chopped walnuts (or nuts of your choice)
3/4 c. sweetened, shredded coconut (or dried fruit)

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. 

2.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about three minutes.  Stop the machine and scrape down the sides once during creaming.

3.  Beat in eggs one at a time, then mix in the vanilla and buttermilk.

4.  Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together.  Add to the butter mixture in three additions.

5.  Mix in the oats, chocolate chips, nuts, and coconut or dried fruit.

6.  Drop by tablespoons full (I used a cookie scoop) on a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat, parchment paper, or foil with the dull side up.  Bake for 9-11 minutes, until light brown and still slightly gooey.  Cool on a wire rack.

one year ago: easy weeknight chicken stir fry

Monday, June 21, 2010

Pizza with Prosciutto, Peppers, and Goat Cheese

Readers, I have to say I am so excited to share with you my very first pizza made with a homemade crust!  And what a pizza it was.  The prosciutto was wonderfully salty, the goat cheese creamy, and the peppers and basil perfectly sweet.  I know I'll be making this pizza again!

The original recipe, from Williams-Sonoma, is written for a grilled pizza.  Since I don't have a grill, I've adapted it for a pizza stone in the oven.  If you have a grill, a) you're lucky and b)follow the link below for the original grilling instructions.

Enjoy!  I can't wait to share many more pizza recipes!

Pizza with Prosciutto, Peppers, and Goat Cheese

1/2 recipe basic pizza dough
olive oil
cornmeal for sprinkling
1 red or yellow bell pepper (I used half of each)
1/2 c. tomato sauce
2 oz sliced prosciutto, cut into fine shreds
2 oz. fresh goat cheese (chèvre)
1/4 c. chopped fresh basil, divided
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1.  Preheat oven and pizza stone at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes.

2.  Meanwhile, slice the pepper and saute in a bit of olive oil over medium heat until slightly softened, about eight minutes.

3.  Sprinkle your work surface with cornmeal and prepare the dough by shaping it with your hands.  Brush lightly with olive oil.

4.  When oven and pizza stone have been at temperature for 30 minutes (carefully!) remove the pizza stone and transfer pizza dough.  Use a fork to prick a few holes in the dough.  Bake for five minutes.

5.  Remove the partially baked crust.  Top with tomato sauce, prosciutto, peppers, goat cheese, and half the basil.  Bake for 7-8 minutes more, or until crust is golden brown on the outer edges.

6.  Allow to cool three minutes, then top with the remaining basil, salt, and pepper and serve.  

two years ago: another great pizza, grilled Margherita pizza

Friday, June 18, 2010

31 While 31--Pizza Dough

I've been a major slacker on my "30 Things to Make While I'm 30" list.  Thankfully, it is now summer break and I plan on playing catch up.  Yay!

I've had Annie's recipe and tutorial for pizza dough marked for quite some time and am now kicking myself for not making it sooner.  It was so delicious (even if super puffy because I forgot to poke a couple of holes in it) and so darn easy!  Once I saw it was successfully rising, I realized that, despite my slacking, I have already achieved one of my goals behind my 30 Things list--I am no longer intimidated by yeast!  You shouldn't be either; it really is simple to work with.  The key for me was using a thermometer to make sure the water is the correct temperature.

Another bonus of this recipe is it actually makes enough for two crusts.  Annie thoughtfully included directions for freezing or immediately using the dough and I've passed them along here.  I can't wait to use the dough I have in my freezer to create another delicious homemade pizza!

Homemade Pizza Dough
seen on Annie's Eats
adapted from Baking Illustrated


1/2 c. warm water (approx. 110 degrees)
2 1/4 tsp. instant yeast
4 c. (22 oz.) bread flour, plus more for dusting
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 c. water, at room temperature
2 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil

1.  Measure the warm water into a two-cup liquid measuring cup.  Sprinkle the yeast over the top.  

2.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the bread flour and salt, mixing briefly to blend.   

3.  Measure the room temperature water into the measuring cup with the yeast-water mixture.  With the mixer on low speed, pour in the yeast-water mixture as well as the olive oil.  Mix until a cohesive dough is formed.  Switch to the dough hook.  Knead on low speed until smooth and elastic, about five minutes.   

4.  Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, 1 1/2-2 hours.

5.  Press down the dough to deflate it.  Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface.  Divide the dough into two equal pieces.  Form each piece of dough into a smooth, round ball.  (If freezing the dough, wrap in plastic wrap then in a freezer bag and freeze at this point.)  Cover with a damp cloth.  Let the dough relax for at least ten minutes but no longer than 30 minutes.

6.  To bake, preheat the oven and pizza stone to 500 degrees for at least 30 minutes.  Transfer the dough to your shaping surface, lightly sprinkled with cornmeal.  Shape the dough with lightly floured hands.  Brush the outer edge lightly with olive oil.  Top as desired.  Bake until the crust is golden brown, and cheese is bubbling, 8-12 minutes.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Frozen Cherry Limeade Pie

Two of my food blogging buddies, Amy and Jess, revived the monthly "You Want Pies With That?" blog event just a couple of months back.  I missed the first month because I was moving, so I was bound and determined to make it in for the June round up.  I was particularly excited when the theme was announced--pies inspired by summer drinks.  How fun!

As an Oklahoma girl, I grew up with Sonic.  It was founded in the state and one of the very first Sonics was built in the little town where my grandparents lived.  Let me tell you friends, nothing can cool you down on a hot summer day like a good ol' fashioned cherry limeade.  Well, nothing besides this frozen cherry limeade pie, that is!

Just be sure to begin the process the night before you want to serve it, as it does take some time to layer and fully freeze.  Sadly, I realized it took quite some time to freeze when I went to take my picture after the pie had been in the freezer all day and the cherry layer was still a bit runny.  Another couple of hours and it would've been fine.

Another sad realization...I had the wrong date in my mind and missed Amy and Jess' June round up.  Oh well.  At least I had fun bring back my childhood summers with this pie!

frozen cherry limeade pie
Frozen Cherry Limeade Pie
inspired by Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa Family Style

For the crust:
--> 1 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs (12 crackers)
1/4 c. sugar      
6 TBSP (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:
--> 8 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1/4 c. sugar
1 (14-oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
2 TBSP lime zest (from two limes) 
3/4 c. lime juice
1/4 c. Maraschino cherry syrup (from jar)
1/4 c. chopped Maraschino cherries  
green food coloring, if desired 

For the decorations:
whipped cream
lime slices
Maraschino cherries

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2.  For the crust, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter in a bowl. Press into a Springform pan, making sure the sides and the bottom are an even thickness. Bake for 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely.

3.  For the filling, beat the egg yolks and sugar on high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment for five minutes, until thick. With the mixer on medium speed, add the condensed milk.  

4.  Stop the mixer and pour one-third of the filling mixture into a small bowl.  Add cherry syrup and chopped cherries.  Pour into container and place in refrigerator.

5.  Add the lime zest, juice, and food coloring (if desired) to the filling still in the mixer bowl. Pour half of lime mixture into the pie shell, cover, and freeze.  Pour remaining lime mixture into a container and place in the refrigerator.

6.  After 1 1/2 to two hours in the freezer, the first lime layer should be frozen enough.  Remove cherry mixture from the refrigerator and stir.  Gently pour over the lime mixture.  Recover the pie and put back into the freezer.  If you are serving the pie for dinner the following day, you could leave the two layers in the freezer overnight and add the final lime layer first thing in the morning.

7.  After another 1 1/2 to two hours or overnight, repeat step six with the remaining lime filling.  Recover the pie and allow to freeze until dinner time or overnight.

8.  About an hour before serving, add the decorations.  To serve, run a knife along the inside of the pan to release frozen filling.  Cut into wedges and serve immediately.

two years ago: oven-fried chicken

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Spiced Peach Preserves

Remember how I was telling you how lucky I am to have tons and tons of wonderful family and friends?  Well, one of these family members lives on a large horse property and has a whole bunch of fruit trees.  Among these are peach trees.  And not just any peach trees, but ones that produce some of the sweetest and juiciest peaches this side of South Carolina.  I'm not exaggerating when I say juiciest.  I wouldn't have dared eat one of them without a couple of napkins.  If I could have those napkins and stand over the sink, it was even better.  One bite and I knew they were the perfect peaches for preserves.  

I've had this recipe on my radar for a while now and was happy to finally get to it.  As with all of Katie's other recipes, this one did not disappoint.  If you find yourself with an abundance of perfect peaches this summer, be certain to make these preserves.  If you can them, summer can last all year long.  What a sweet thought.

spiced peach preserves
Spiced Peach Preserves
slightly adapted from Good Things Catered


6 c. ripe fresh peaches, peeled and pitted
1 1/3 c. sugar
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. freshly-grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
4 oz. liquid fruit pectin

--> 1. In large pot, combine peaches, sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.  Over medium high heat, bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Let boil for 15 minutes, or until peaches have been crushed into smaller pieces. 

2. Turn heat up to high and bring to rolling boil.  Add fruit pectin, stirring constantly, and bring back to a rolling boil.  Let boil for one full minute, stirring constantly, until starting to thicken.

3.  Remove from heat, skim foam from top, and ladle into prepared jars.

4.  If canning, fill jars with preserves, leaving 1/4-inch head room, and boil for 10 minutes to prepare.  May be stored for up to a year.

5.  If not canning, pour into jars, seal and let cool completely.  Place in refrigerator and enjoy for up to two weeks.

two years ago: another use for summer peaches, bourbon-peach cobbler

Monday, June 7, 2010

Chicken with Roasted Pears and Wild Rice

It was 107 degrees here today and I'm craving fall food.  Strange.  I kept telling myself I should be eating the strawberries, peaches, and tomatoes I've longed for.  It didn't work.  I still wanted fall food.  A good old-fashioned baked chicken casserole.  I gave in.  I'm so glad I did.

This recipe was easy and tasty.  Not only did it take care of my craving, but it also gave me another recipe to add to my fall lineup.  Excellent.

Chicken with Roasted Pears and Wild Rice
adapted from The Complete Cooking Light Cookbook
2 small, firm Bosc or D'Anjou pears, cored and cut lengthwise into 1/2-in. strips
1 c. apple juice
2/3 c. water
1 1/4 c. uncooked quick-cooking wild rice or wild rice mix
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 in. pieces
1/2 c. dried cranberries
1 small red onion, chopped
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. dried tarragon
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees Farenheit.

2.  Arrange pear slices, in a single layer, on a foil-lined baking sheet.  Bake for ten minutes.

3.  Reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees Farenheit.

4.  Meanwhile, combine apple juice and water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.  Add rice, cover, reduce heat, and simmer ten minutes.  Drain excess liquid from rice and fluff with a fork.

5.  Combine rice, chicken, cranberries, onion, salt, pepper, tarragon, and cinnamon in a medium bowl.  Pour into an 11x7 casserole dish.  Arrange pear slices over the top.

6.  Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes or until chicken is done.

two years ago: anise biscotti

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Another school year down and one last potluck.  It's been a tough year for me.  Our school went through so many transitions, staffing changes, and infinite last-minute decisions from our district and state department.  Thankfully, it's now over.  There were some times when I questioned if I still wanted to be a teacher.  In the end, though, I knew there was nothing else I'd rather do than help children see what wonderful people they are and can be.  I can't wait to inspire next year's group...

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
adapted from Sing For Your Supper
originally from Bake at 350

12 TBSP unsalted butter
1 c. smooth peanut butter
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. light brown sugar, packed
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. whole-wheat flour
1/2 tsp. coarse salt
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. baking powder
2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

1.  Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease a 9x13 pan.  Alternately, line the pan with parchment or foil and spray with cooking spray.  (Recipe can also be halved and baked in an 8x8.)
2.  Whisk together the flour, salt, cinnamon, and baking powder. Set aside.
3.  Cream the butter and peanut butter together until smooth. Beat in the sugars until combined.
4.  Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Stir in the vanilla.
5.  Add in the flour mixture. Once mostly combined, add the chocolate chips and stir until combined.
6.  Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for about 40-45 minutes. (For an 8x8 pan, decrease time to 30-32 minutes.)  Cool completely before cutting.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Herbed Pork Loin with Sweet Onion Marmellata

I've been so lucky to meet some wonderful people throughout my life.  Gram is one of them.  From the day I met her, she has always smiled at me, hugged me, and been entirely warm and welcoming.  

When it came time to purchase this new townhouse, she was a gigantic help.  Gram has considerable amounts of real estate knowledge and knows a whole bunch of good people.  She was more than happy to pass that knowledge, expertise, and contact list on to me.  

I told you.  I'm one lucky lady.  

So when the townhouse was finally set up and I was ready for my first non-pizza-from-a-box dinner guest, Gram was the logical choice.  I was so pleased to have her over and even more excited when she loved the townhouse.  She kept talking about how cute it was.  I think that's a good sign!

This dinner looks quite complicated, but it couldn't be easier.  The only trick would be timing your pork loin.  I've made notes here based on two smaller pork loins.  If you choose to use one large piece of meat, please be sure to increase your cooking time considerably. 

Herbed Pork Loin with Sweet Onion Marmellata 
pork loin an "Apple a Day" original
marmellata from Giada DeLaurentiis, Giada's Kitchen

For the pork loin:
1 TBSP chopped fresh rosemary
1 TBSP chopped fresh thyme
1/4 c. chopped parsley
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly-ground black pepper
2 (1 1/2-2 lb.) pork tenderloins
1/4 c. olive oil

For the onion marmellata:
1/4 c. olive oil
4 large onions, thinly sliced (about 3 lbs.)
1/4 c. orange marmalade
1 TBSP chopped fresh rosemary
1 TBSP chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly-ground black pepper
2 TBSP balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. sugar, if desired (I omitted)

1.  Prepare the pork loin by mixing all herbs and spices in a small bowl.  Rub mixture on outside of pork loins and wrap both tightly in plastic wrap.  Place in refrigerator for at least two hours and up to overnight.

2.  For the onion marmellata, place a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and the onions. Stir to combine and cook until starting to sizzle, about two minutes. 

3.  Add the remaining ingredients. Reduce the heat to low. Cover the pot and cook over low heat for two hours, stirring every 30 minutes to scrape up any brown bits. The onions should be a soft, jam-like consistency and a deep mahogany color.

4.  While the marmellata is cooking, preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Remove pork from refrigerator while oven is preheating.

5.  Once oven has reached the proper temperature, drizzle bottom of a roasting pan with olive oil.  Place pork loins in pan and roll until coated in oil.  Place in oven and bake for 40-45 minutes.  Check internal temperature.  Continue cooking, checking every ten minutes, until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Farenheit.

6.  Once meat is cooked properly, remove from oven and place on a cutting board to rest for ten minutes.  

7.  To serve, slice pork loins into 1 1/2-inch thick medallions and place on a platter.  Serve marmellata in a gravy boat or individual sauce dishes.

two years ago: chicken with mango barbecue sauce