Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Pulled Pork Pizza

Before the beginning of every school year, I make quite a good amount of food to freeze.  I know the start of the school year is hectic and, more often than not, I come home completely exhausted.  Instead of picking something up or ordering pizza, I know I can rely on something I've got at home.

This pizza is the result of putting together a few fresh items and a couple of things from my freezer stash--pizza dough and pulled pork.  It was simple to throw together and so, so delicious.

Pulled Pork Pizza
an "Apple a Day" original

1/2 recipe pizza dough
1 1/2 c. pulled pork
1 TBSP olive oil
1/2 c. barbeque sauce
1 1/2 c. shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 small shallot, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 green onions, sliced

1.The night before making pizza, remove the dough and pork from the freezer and place in the refrigerator to defrost.

2.  Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  If using a pizza stone (I highly recommend it), place in the oven at this time.

3.  On a floured work surface, roll out pizza dough.  When oven is heated, place dough on to pizza stone.  Bake for three minutes.

4.  Meanwhile, use 2 TBSP of the barbeque sauce to coat the pork.  Reserve remaining sauce.

5.  When dough is finished, remove from oven, still on the stone, and flip over.  Brush outer edge with olive oil and spread remaining sauce evenly over the middle.  Top with half the cheese, then pork, shallot, and remaining cheese.  Place back in the oven and bake 7-8 minutes more, until cheese is melted and beginning to bubble.

6.  Remove from the oven.  Sprinkle red pepper and green onions on top.  Let cool 3-5 minutes, then serve.  

one year ago: beer-braised barbecued chicken

Monday, August 29, 2011

Meatless Monday--Chile-Glazed Sweet Potatoes

This recipe is from the Foodbuzz 24x24 party I hosted way back in June.  My dinner party was called "Some Like It Hot" and featured chiles in every course from drinks to dessert.  I love, love, love sweet potatoes, so when I saw this recipe it was an immediate yes for the menu.

The chile flavor here was subtle.  If you're a spice fan like me, you could definitely up the recipe to use two chipotles.  But if you're looking for just a touch of heat, try the recipe as is.  It was definitely delicious, easy, and--all in all--pretty healthy.  A winner on all accounts, I'd say!

chipotle sweet potatoes

Chile-Glazed Sweet Potatoes
adapted from Williams-Sonoma, Essentials of Latin Cooking

2 lbs. orange-fleshed sweet potatoes
2 TBSP olive oil
1 tsp. salt, plus more to taste
1 TBSP dark brown sugar
1-2 chipotles chiles in adobo
1-2 TBSP orange juice
1/4 c. chopped cilantro
1/2 c. Mexican crema, low-fat sour cream, or Greek yogurt

1.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

2.  Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into 1 1/2 in. chunks.  In a bowl, combine the potatoes with the oil and salt.  Toss to coat well.  Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake, without turning, until tender-crisp, 35-40 minutes.

3.  Meanwhile, puree the brown sugar, chipotles, and orange juice.

4.  Remove pan from the oven but leave the oven on.  Using a thin spatula, carefully loosen the potatoes from the pan.  Drizzle with chipotle puree.  Spread back out into a single layer, if necessary, and return to the oven for 5 more minutes.

5.  Transfer the potatoes to a serving dish, drizzle with crema, and garnish with cilantro.  Alternately, serve the crema on the side.  Serves six.

three years ago: honey cake with honey-cream cheese frosting

Friday, August 26, 2011

BEST-EVER Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Readers, whatever you're doing, stop.  Right now.  Make these cookies NOW.  I promise you won't be sorry.  Well, you might be because it'll be near impossible to not eat the entire batch of these incredible cookies.

I know (well, I've heard) there are people out there who like crispy cookies.  I'm not one of them.  I like fluffy, soft, chewy cookies--the kind that puff up when they're baking and barely spread at all.  These cookies are just that.  Perfectly that, in fact.

I already had a really great chocolate chip cookie recipe, but I wanted to give these a shot.  I was a bit skeptical of the recipe when I saw cornstarch in the ingredient list,  but I decided to give them a try.  I know cornstarch is very light and figured that might add some lift to the cookies.  Whether it was the cornstarch or not, thse cookies definitely lifted.  I used a standard-sized cookie scoop to drop them on the cookie sheet and they came out perfectly round and uniform--just ready for a photo shoot.  And so, so good.  The best ever, in fact.  My new favorites :-)

best chocolate chip cookies

Best-Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies
barely adapted from Anna Olson, Food Network Canada

3/4 c. unsalted butter, softened 
3/4 c. brown sugar 
1/4 c. granulated sugar 
1 egg 
2 tsp. vanilla extract 
2 c. all purpose flour 
2 tsp. cornstarch 
1 tsp. baking soda 
1/2 tsp. salt 
1 c. bittersweet chocolate chips

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugars until fluffy and light in color. Add egg and vanilla and blend in.

3.  Mix in flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. Stir in chocolate chunks.

4.  Using a standard-sized cookie scoop or tablespoon, drop dough onto a prepared baking sheet.  Bake for 8-10 minutes, until barely golden brown around the edges.  (The tops will not brown, but do NOT cook longer than ten minutes.)

5.  Let cool, on the sheet, on a wire rack for five minutes.  Remove from baking sheet and let cool completely.  Makes approximately 3 dozen.  Try not to eat them all.

one year ago: Blackberry-blueberry pie, another one of the best things I've ever made.
three years ago: Greek-style turkey burgers with lemon-mint tzatziki

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Chicken with Tomato-Herb Pan Sauce

As soon as tore through my July Bon Appetit, I had this recipe marked.  I couldn't wait to make it.  Then I went on a cleaning spree.  Then I went out of town.  And started school.  See where this is going?  I got busy and forgot about this recipe.

I would say it was a mistake, but all that forgetting actually worked out beautifully.  I mean, I wish I'd made it sooner because it's so delicious, but it worked out to make it once school had started because it was so easy.  (Did you see that?  It was so easy I had to italicize the word!)  This recipe seriously required little more than dumping a few tasty and seasonal ingredients into a pan.  Honestly.  That's about it.  And it is so good.  So good, in fact, that I think I may have it again next week.  The only question left is if I should make chicken again or try the recipe with a nice, firm white fish...

chicken tomato herb sauce

Chicken with Tomato-Herb Pan Sauce
from Bon Appetit, July 2011

2 TBSP unsalted butter, room temperature
1 garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh marjoram or oregano
1/2 tsp. sweet paprika
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
2 c. mixed cherry tomatoes
1 TBSP chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (for garnish)

1.  Mash butter, garlic, marjoram, and paprika in a small bowl to blend. Season marjoram butter to taste with salt and pepper.

2.  Melt half the marjoram butter in a medium heavy skillet over medium heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Add to skillet, cover, and cook until no longer pink in center, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to a plate. Tent chicken with foil to keep warm.

3.  Increase heat to medium-high. Add tomatoes to skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to char and burst, about 5 minutes.  Crush tomatoes slightly to release juices; stir 1 minute.  Add remaining marjoram butter to skillet to finish sauce.   Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. 

4.  Spoon tomato sauce over chicken. Garnish with parsley. 

one year ago: savory peach chicken

Monday, August 22, 2011

Meatless Monday--Farfalle with Asparagus and Mushrooms

Now that school is back in session, I'm digging into my reserves of quick and easy dinners.  I've got quite a few stashed away after a summer full of ample time for more involved meals.

This simple pasta was a definite winner.  I loved it because it came together in a flash--a welcomed relief after a long day.  It was creamy and very comforting without being heavy.  With a couple of additions on my part, the sauce had plenty of flavor without being too assertive.  The mushrooms, asparagus, and mascarpone paired perfectly with one another, but peas would also be fantastic if you can't find decent asparagus or you want to be more budget friendly.  With so much going for it, this dish would be equally great for a weekday evening as it would a special night with company.

farfalle with asparagus mushrooms

Farfalle with Asparagus and Mushrooms
adapted from Giada De Laurentiis, Giada's Family Dinners

1 lb. dried farfalle (whole wheat would be great)
2 TBSP unsalted butter
1 lb. cremini mushrooms, thickly sliced
1 lb. thin asparagus, trimmed and sliced into one-in. pieces
2 cloves garlic
1 c. mascarpone cheese
pinch nutmeg
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
3/4 c. walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
salt and black pepper, to taste
1/4 c. freshly-grated Parmesan cheese

1.  Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.  Add the farfalle and cook according to package directions, stirring often to prevent sticking.  reserve one c. cooking liquid and drain.

2.  Meanwhile, melt butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat.  Add the mushrooms and sauté until tender and most of the juice has evaporated, about 5 minutes.

3.  Add the asparagus and sauté until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes.  Add the garlic and sauté one minute more.  Stir in the mascarpone, nutmeg, and red pepper.

4.  Add the farfalle and toss until cheese coats the pasta.  Add pasta water 1/4 c. at a time to moisten, until desired thickness is reached.  Stir in 1/2 c. walnuts and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

5.  Mound pasta into a large serving bowl.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and remaining walnuts.  Serves six as a main course.

three years ago: margarita cupcakes

Friday, August 19, 2011

Dijon Potato and Green Bean Salad

I had pulled pork on the menu and I wanted a potato salad to go with it.  But not your traditional mushy, mealy, mayonnaisey potato salad.  I was looking for something fresher, more interesting, and with more bite.  After some searching, I found a recipe on epicurious.  With a few adaptations, it turned out great.  The vinegar bite was a great compliment to the slight sweetness of the barbeque sauce and the crunch of the green beans was just right. 

dijon mustard potato salad green beans

Dijon Potato and Green Bean Salad
adapted from epicurious

8 oz. green beans, trimmed, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces 
1 1/2 lbs. mixed small potatoes (red, purple, butter), unpeeled, halved if necessary
2-3 TBSP apple cider vinegar
1 large shallot, chopped
1 TBSP coarse-grained Dijon mustard
2 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
2 TBSP chopped fresh parsley

1.  Cook beans in large saucepan of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, 3-4 minutes.  Drain. Transfer to bowl of ice water.  Drain again and lay out on paper towels to dry.

2.  Cook potatoes in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, about 12 minutes.  Drain and transfer to large bowl.  Let stand five minutes.

3.  Meanwhile, whisk vinegar, shallot, and mustard in small bowl.  Gradually whisk in oil.  Pour over potatoes and toss to coat.  Cool completely. 

4.  Mix in green beans and parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve cold or at room temperature.  (We liked it best at room temperature.)  Can be made one day ahead.

two years ago: My husband's all-time favorite dessert, lemon bars, made with homemade lemon curd.  So good I even made some for our wedding dessert table!
three years ago: zucchini-lemon muffins

Thursday, August 18, 2011

31 While 31--Sweet Tea Tiramisu for Josie

Today is such a sweet day today for me and so many of my blogging friends.  Today, we're celebrating Josie and the quickly approaching arrival of her precious baby boy!

If you're not familiar with Josie, let me try to sum her up in just a few phrases.  Aside from being the supremely talented cook and photographer behind Pink Parsley, she's mom to an absolutely adorable little girl, a serious Georgia Tech fan, and--as a true Southern girl--a lover of sweet tea, homemade desserts, and juicy Georgia peaches.

I am so happy to be a part of Josie's virtual bridal shower, as I know our hostess, Annie, and all the other ladies are.  I'm even happier to make her a dessert I think she'll really love.  With ladyfingers completely soaked in sweet tea, rich cream, and plump, juicy peaches and blueberries on top, this tiramisu adaptation has Josie written all over.  My only regret is that we can't share it in person.  Congratulations, Josie!  I wish you and your growing family all the best!

To see all the other incredible goodies from the virtual shower, visit either Josie's roundup or Annie's.

sweet tea tiramisu

Sweet Tea Tiramisu
adapted from Southern Living, May 2011

2 family-size tea bags
1 1/2 c. sugar, divided
16 oz. mascarpone cheese
1 TBSP vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
2 c. whipping cream
1 (6 oz.) package ladyfinger
2 peaches, sliced
1 c. blueberries
1 TBSP bourbon (optional)

1.  Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a heavy saucepan.  Add tea bags.  Remove from heat, cover, and let steep 10 minutes.

2.  Discard tea bags.  Add one cup sugar and stir until fully dissolved.  Bring tea to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, 20-22 minutes (mixture should be reduce to approximately one cu).  Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

3.  Meanwhile prepare other components for the tiramisu.  Stir together mascarpone, vanilla paste or extract, and remaining 1/2 cup sugar.

4.  Beat whipping cream at medium-high speed until soft peaks form.  Fold into mascarpone mixture.

5.  Cut ladyfingers in half horizontally with a sharp knife.  Arrange 24 halves, flat sides up, in an 11x7 baking dish.  Drizzle half the tea over the top and allow it to absorb.  Top with half the mascarpone mixture.  Repeat.  Cover and chill at least 12 hours.

6.  To serve, toss peach slices in bourbon, if desired (Sorry Josie.  None for you right now!).  Cut tiramisu into 16 (ish) pieces.  Garnish with peach slices and berries.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Chicken, Blueberry, and Summer Squash Salad

I know, I know--chicken, squash, and blueberries?  You must think I've gone off my rocker.  Not at all!  Trust me, readers, this salad is delicious.  It's loaded with seasonal ingredients at their best.  While it may sound like a bizarre combination, I assure you the components compliment each other beautifully to form one knockout summer salad.  The lemon dressing is tart, the blueberries are sweet, and the feta is the perfect salty bite.  Have I managed to entice you to try this yet?  I sure hope so.
chicken blueberry salad
Chicken, Blueberry, and Summer Squash Salad

1/4 c. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. honey
1/4-1/3 c. extra-virgin olive oil

salt and pepper, to taste
4 packed c. preferred greens
1 small summer squash, thinly sliced
2 TBSP fresh basil, julienned
2 c. cooked chicken breast, chopped
1 1/2 c. blueberries
1/2 c. feta cheese, crumbled

1.  To make dressing, whisk together lemon juice and honey.  Add oil in a steady stream, whisking the whole time.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

2.  To assemble salad, divide greens among four plates.  Top with squash, basil, and chicken.  Drizzle dressing over the top, then add blueberries and feta. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Meatless Monday--Veggie Enchiladas

Wow, wow, and WOW!  These were AWESOME!  We are both so glad I made them.  I almost didn't because I've always thought of enchiladas as very labor intensive.  These did take some time, but not nearly as much as I thought.  In fact, I made them on a weeknight without feeling rushed or eating much later than we usually do.

The filling was so delicious and hearty, I'm pretty sure you could fool even a total carnivore.  As much as I enjoyed every bit of the filling, though, the sauce really made this dish.  To help with timing, I made the sauce a couple of nights before I made the enchiladas.  It kept beautifully in the fridge and just the smell of it cooking away had me counting the minutes until I could devour the finished dish.

I definitely wasn't disappointed.  You won't be either.

vegetable enchiladas

Veggie Enchiladas 
adapted from Annie's Eats
originally from America's Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook
For the sauce:
1 tsp. canola oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 TBSP chili powder
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. light brown sugar
1(15 oz.) can tomato sauce
1/2-3/4 c. water
salt and pepper, to taste

For the filling:
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 TBSP canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 bell pepper (any time), seeded and chopped fine
1 (8 oz.) zucchini, halved lengthwise, seeded and chopped
6-8 button mushroom, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 c. enchilada sauce (above), divided
1 1/4 c. finely crumbled queso fresco or feta cheese, divided
3/4 c. minced fresh cilantro, divided
1 (4 oz.) can chopped canned green chiles, drained
salt and pepper, to taste

For assembly:
16 (6-in.) corn tortillas
1 c. shredded Mexican blend cheese

1.  To make the sauce, heat oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Stir in garlic, chili powder, cumin and sugar and cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Stir in the tomato sauce and water, bring to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

2.  Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.  Transfer half of the black beans to a bowl and mash with a fork until almost completely smooth.  Set aside.  

3.  Add the oil to a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and bell pepper and cook until slightly softened, 5-7 minutes.  Add the zucchini and mushroom and cook just until tender, 3-5 minutes more.   Stir in the garlic and cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Stir in the mashed beans and remaining whole beans and cook until warmed through, about 2 minutes.

4.  Transfer the veggie mixture to a large bowl and stir in 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce, one cup queso fresco or feta, 1/2 cup cilantro, and green chiles.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

5.  To assemble, briefly microwave the tortillas until warm and pliable, about 30 seconds.  Place a generous 1/4 cup of the filling mixture down the center of a tortilla.  Tightly roll up the tortilla and place in a 9 x 13-inch baking dish, seam side down.  (I couldn't fit all of mine in one dish, so I used an 8x8 dish for the last few enchiladas).  Repeat with the remaining filling and tortillas.  

6.  Pour the sauce over the enchiladas, spreading evenly.  Sprinkle the shredded cheese over the top of the sauce.  Cover with foil and bake until the enchiladas are heated through, about 10 minutes.  Remove the foil and continue to bake until the cheese is melted, 3-5 minutes more. Sprinkle with remaining queso fresco or feta and cilantro for garnish. 

one year ago: Greek salad
three years ago:  blueberry-yogurt muffins

Friday, August 12, 2011

Ginger-Soy Chicken

I flip through my cookbooks quite frequently.  I'd say I look through anywhere between four and ten cookbooks when planning my menus each week.  You'd think I'd know them all by heart now.  Not so.  In fact, this very recipe caused to think about how it is that I can look at my cookbooks so often and still not pay much attention to certain recipes.  I mean, if a recipe centers around an ingredient you don't really like, I get it.  But why in the world would a perfectly good recipe go unnoticed week after week after week until, one day, you see it and decide you have to make it?  

Whatever the answer to this question is, I'm glad I made this chicken.  It was easy, healthy, and full of flavor.  It had similar flavors to teriyaki chicken, but was much less sweet.  Served with brown basmati rice and a simple side salad, it was a filling but light summer meal.

Ginger-Soy Chicken
adapted from Williams-Sonoma, Bride & Groom Entertaining

2 TBSP fresh grated ginger
1 large shallot, minced
1/4 c. fresh lime juice
1/4 c. fresh lemon juice
1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
1/4 c. low-sodium soy sauce
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 green onions, thinly sliced

1.  In a small bowl, whisk together ginger, shallot, citrus juices, olive oil, soy sauce, and pepper.  Reserve half the mixture in a sealed container for serving.  Transfer the remaining mixture to a shallow ceramic or glass baking dish.  Place chicken in the dish, turning once to coat, and marinate at least 30 minutes (can be left covered on the counter for this length of time) and up to four hours in the refrigerator.

2.  When ready to cook chicken, prepare an outdoor grill or indoor grill pan to medium-high heat.  Brush lightly with olive oil.  When grill or grill pan is at temperature, remove the chicken from the marinade and cook 5-7 minutes on each side, depending on size of breasts.  Discard used marinade.

3.  Meanwhile, place unused marinade in a small sauce pan and simmer over medium-low heat 5 minutes until slightly thickened.  Drizzle over cooked chicken and garnish with green onions.

two years ago: summer shrimp salad
three years ago:  whole wheat apple-walnut muffins

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

Today's my first day of school.  Hooray!  I'm more nervous this year than I have been any other year besides my first year.  (In fact, I may be more nervous than I was my first year because I had blissful naivete on my side back then.)  Why so nervous, you ask?  I'm starting a new position this year.  I'm still with the same district, but I'm now teaching a class entirely made up of exceptionally gifted fifth graders.  I am so excited to get into their brains and really push them to achieve, achieve, achieve, but I'm nervous about knowing exactly what to do and exactly how to tap right into that incredible potential without wasting precious time.  I just really, really want to give these kids what they need and deserve.

As any teacher will tell you, the single most exhausting day of the school year is the first day.  Hands down.  Many teachers don't sleep well the night before, we get to school extra early to make sure everything is perfect, then we talk all day long.  We can't just jump into activities, we have to explain where everything is, where it goes, how we put it away, what happens when it isn't put away correctly, etc.  We talk through and practice the rules and procedures of every. single. thing. we do.  It's all worth it because setting the proper expectations will result in beautifully behaved kids for the rest of the year, but MAN is it exhausting.

When school is out and all my kids have successfully been walked to the bus, their parent, the daycare van, what have you, I love to go back to my room, sit down, and enjoy a snack in silence.  These peanut butter and jelly bars paired with an ice cold milk from the cafeteria will be just perfect.  Classic American school lunch flavors with an extra bit of comfort and sweetness.  Just the thing to help me relax after a great first day.

***Note: I doubled the recipe so I could share with my coworkers.  I used a 9x13 pan and increased the baking time to 35 minutes.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars
from Bon Appetit, March 2011

nonstick spray 
1 1/2 c. unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 c. smooth peanut butter
3/4 c. (packed) light brown sugar
1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 c. jelly or jam of your choice
2/3 c. salted dry-roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped

1.  Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line 8 x 8 metal baking pan with heavy-duty foil, leaving a two-inch overhang around edges. Coat foil with nonstick spray. 

2.  In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. 

3.  Using electric mixer, beat peanut butter, sugar, and butter in large bowl until smooth. Add in egg and vanilla and beat on low speed until smooth. 

4.  Add flour mixture, beating on low speed just to blend. Transfer half of dough to prepared pan.  Place remaining dough in freezer for 10 minutes. Using fingertips, press dough evenly onto bottom of pan.  Spread jelly over in even layer. 

5.  Remove dough from freezer; using fingertips, break into grape-size pieces and scatter over jelly layer. Sprinkle chopped nuts over top.

6.  Bake bars until top is golden brown, about 30 minutes. Cool completely in pan on rack.  Using foil overhang as aid, lift bars from pan. Gently peel foil from edges. Cut into 16 squares.  (Can be made up to three days in advance and stored in an airtight container.)

one year ago: fresh fruit tart
three years ago: One of my most popular posts and a great freezer meal, chicken enchilada casserole.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Meatless Monday--Zucchini and Hazelnut Salad

I've really been enjoying my Meatless Monday posts.  Just a few months ago I really only had an arsenal of maybe ten vegetarian dishes that I considered to be as good as meals centered around meat.  My mind has definitely been opened.  Not only do I look forward to Meatless Monday now, but I actually find myself cooking vegetarian two or three times a week.  What a change!

I made this salad for my mom and I.  We ate it with some simple toasted baguette slices with butter and it made for a truly enjoyable summer meal.  The balance of flavors and textures was so perfect.  I can't wait to make it again!

zucchini hazelnut salad

Zucchini and Hazelnut Salad
adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi, Plenty

1/2 c. shelled hazelnuts
1 3/4 lb. zucchini
4 TBSP olive oil
salt and freshly-cracked black pepper
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar, plus more for drizzling
5 oz. mixed greens
1 1/4 c. basil leaves (green and purple if possible)
3 oz. Parmesan, thinly sliced
2 tsp. hazelnut oil

1.  Heat a small dry skillet over medium-low heat.  Toast hazelnuts until fragrant and slightly browned.  Allow to cool, then chop.

2.  Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat until very hot--about five minutes.  

3.  Meanwhile, trim the ends from the zucchini and cut them on an angle into 1/2-inch thick slices.  Place in a bowl and toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  

4.  Once the grill pan in thoroughly heated, place the zucchini slices on the grill pan until char grilled, about two minuted per side.  Transfer to a mixing bowl and toss with balsamic vinegar.  Set aside.

5.  On each of four plates, arrange greens and basil.  Top with zucchini, cheese, and hazelnuts, then drizzle with hazelnut oil and additional balsamic.

one year ago: garlic rice pilaf

Friday, August 5, 2011

Lemon Buddies

Summer is almost over and I'd be willing to bet there are plenty of parents out there who, while very happy for school to begin, are also thinking about all the things they wanted to do with the kids this summer but didn't.  For plenty of parents, this wish list may have included spending time together in the kitchen.

When I was younger To this day, I love spending time in the kitchen with my mom.  As a girl, I loved seeing how she turned ingredients into yummy meals.  I loved the way we could just talk about whatever happened that day while we worked.  As an adult, I love hearing the stories behind family recipes.  I also love that I can now contribute my own cooking knowledge to our meals.

If you're looking for a simple, fun, and tasty recipe to make with the kids, this is a sure winner.  It's just like the childhood snack known as muddy buddies or sometimes puppy chow (I always thought that was kinda gross!) but with a lemon flair.  Yum!

lemon buddies

Lemon Buddies
from Chex

9 c. rice Chex cereal
1 1/4 c. vanilla or white chocolate chips
1/4 c. unsalted butter
4 tsp. lemon zest (from two large lemons)
2 TBSP fresh lemon juice
2 c. confectioner's sugar

1.  Measure cereal into a large bowl and set aside.

2.  Place all ingredients except confectioner's sugar into a one quart microwaveable bowl.  Microwave on high for one minute, then remove and stir.  Continue microwaving and stirring in 30 second intervals until ingredients are thoroughly mixed.

3.  Pour lemon mixture over cereal and mix completely.  

4.  Place cereal in a gallon size resealable bag.  Add confectioner's sugar, seal bag, and shake to coat.  Pour onto wax paper to dry.  Store in an airtight container up to one week.
one year ago: lemon chicken

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Mexican Shrimp Cobb Salad

I kinda feel like I should apologize for all the salad recipes lately.  But when I look back at the recipes, I feel like I should make them all again!  I guess it's a side effect of super hot summer weather.  At least it's a delicious and generally healthy side effect.

I made this salad for my dad and we both loved it.  It was light and refreshing and full of flavor.  It would make a great weeknight meal, especially if you make the creamy cilantro-tomatillo dressing and black bean mixture the night before.

mexican shrimp cobb salad

Mexican Shrimp Cobb Salad

For the dressing:
1/2 c. lowfat buttermilk
1/4 c. light mayonnaise
1/4 c. fat free Greek yogurt
1 small jalapeno, seeds partially or entirely removed
1/4 c. of fresh cilantro
1 tomatillo, husks removed, chopped
1 clove garlic
1 scallion
juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 tsp. dried parsley flakes
1/8 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper
1/4 tsp. salt

For the salad:
16 oz. cooked large shrimp, peeled
chipotle chili powder to taste
1 TBSP lime juice
salt, to taste
6 c. romaine lettuce, shredded
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 c. corn kernels, fresh or frozen
2 TBSP red onion, divided
2 TBSP cilantro, chopped (I used more for garnish)
juice of 1/2 lime
1 seedless cucumber, diced
2 c. diced tomatoes
1 ripe hass avocado, diced
1 c. reduced-fat Mexican blend shredded cheese

1.  To make the dressing, combine all ingredients in a food processor.  Can be made and refrigerated up to three days in advance.

2.  To prepare the shrimp, rinse and chop into large chunks.  Toss with chipotle powder, lime juice, and salt.

3.  In a small bowl, combine drained beans, corn, red onion, cilantro, lime juice and salt to taste.

4.  In a large glass trifle dish or clear bowl, layer the salad ingredients in the following order: lettuce, black bean mixture, cucumber, tomatoes, avocado, cheese and shrimp.  

one year ago: A fantastic celebration, our engagement dinner.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Meatless Monday--Buttermilk Waffles

I hope you all like breakfast for dinner.  I sure do.  Ever since I was a little girl, I loved having waffles, eggs, and orange juice.  Something about it was just so comforting.  Perhaps it was the delicious smells coming from the kitchen.  Perhaps it was getting to drench my pancakes or waffles with syrup.  Most likely, my love comes from the fact that I have so many fond memories of enjoying breakfast for dinner at my Mammo and Pappo's house. 

Some things have changed in my adulthood.  I'm more likely to have coffee with my waffles than orange juice.  I've traded the syrup for yogurt, honey, and fresh berries.  All I have left of my Mammo and Pappo are wonderful memories.  But one thing hasn't changed--my love of breakfast for dinner.

buttermilk waffles

Buttermilk Waffles
adapted from The All New Joy of Cooking

1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. whole-wheat flour
1 TBSP baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 TBSP light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
3 large eggs, well beaten
8 TBSP (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 TBSP vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. buttermilk

Optional toppings:
low-fat plain or vanilla yogurt
fresh fruit of choice

1.  Preheat a waffle maker according to manufactuer's instructions.  Whisk together all dry ingredients, flour through salt, in a large bowl.  Create a well in the center.  

2.  In a separate medium bowl, whisk together eggs, melted butter, vanilla, and buttermilk.

3.  Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients.  Combine until just mixed.  A few lumps may remain.

4.  When waffle iron is ready, spray with baking spray and spoon 1/2 c. to 1 c. (depending on waffle maker) onto the grid.  Using a metal spatula or wooden spoon, spread batter to within 1/4 inch of the edge.  Cook until golden.  Serve immediately or keep warm in a 200 degree oven until all waffles are cooked.

one year ago: macaroon bars with apricots and cherries