Thursday, July 29, 2010

Watermelon Popsicles

I took some of the watermelon that we grew and cut it up and stuck in a blender with some sugar and a couple tablespoons of lemonade, and froze it in our nifty Popsicle contraption. And the next day we had delicious and refreshing watermelon pops. This is so simple to do and you can do it with any fruit you like. Last year we did it with peaches and it was fantastic.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Summer Corn Soup with Shrimp

the tomato brushetta we made the second time around eating the soup. Simply cut some tomatoes and drizzle some olive oil a dash a balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper; mix well.
Then take some crusty bread and brush both sides with olive oil and stick in the oven to toast for 10 minutes. Its that simple.

This is another great summer soup recipe that I found on another food blog called Sprouted Kitchen. I think it came out really good and loved the shrimp and avocado topping. This minus the soup would even be good in tacos. We had a lot of leftover soup so we had the next night with some hard boiled egg and bacon crumbled on top with a tomato bruschetta on the side. Very tasty.
Here is what you need for the soup:
4 ears of corn, kernels cut from the cob
4 cups vegetable stock or chicken stock
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 medium yellow onion, sliced thin
3 small Yukon gold potatoes or 1 large cut into cubes
1 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
cayenne or red pepper flakes to taste
2 teaspoons oregano
salt and black pepper to taste

Here is what you need for the shrimp topping:
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large avocado, diced
1 poblano chile
juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
1 scallion, chopped

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Melt the butter in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the sliced onions and saute to coat. Cook until the onions just start to turn light brown. Peel the potato and cut into cubes, add it to the onion. Cut the kernels of corn off the cob, add them to the soup pot. Add the broth, spices and a few grinds of fresh pepper and allow everything to simmer, until corn and potatoes are cooked through.
Toss the shrimp in olive oil and salt and pepper and put on a baking pan. Cut the poblano chile in half length wise, and place it skin side up on the pan as well. Bake on the upper rack for 5 minutes until shrimp are cooked through. Remove the shrimp and set aside. Put the pepper back in the oven until the skin blisters. While waiting peel the tails off the shrimp. Remove the pepper and put it into a Ziploc bag to cool, this will help the skin peel off easier.
Check on the soup to make sure the potato and corn are cooked through. Using an immersion blender or regular blender, puree the soup. I left it a little chunky.
In a separate bowl, combine the shrimp pieces, lime juice, chopped herbs and scallions. Peel and cut the avocado and add to the bowl. Rub the skin off the chile, cut into small pieces. Toss together.
Serve soup in a bowl and spoon shrimp mixture over it.

The BEST Banana Bread

Ok, so I know I have written about several banana recipes and I am sure you all are thinking, enough already with the bananas. But I have to share one last recipe that I have found to be the best banana bread I have ever made. I have used several banana bread recipes but this one tops them all. The original recipe came from a bakery in Boston called Flour Bakery which I have never been to but I have seen it on the food network, and it looks amazing. So, Food Network was kind enough to post their recipe for everyone to share in its glory. I have switched up one of the ingredients in it which I think is the key to this breads moistness. The original recipe calls for creme fraiche or sour cream which I don't use, instead I use low fat buttermilk. What also sets this recipe apart from others is that you beat the egg and sugar together until it is light and fluffy, so the cake is very light and airy and puffs up a lot when its baking. So enough talking let me give you this recipe so you can get to baking. :)

1 2/3 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup oil (i use canola oil)
3 1/2 bananas, very ripe, mashed
2 tablespoons low fat buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Set oven to 350 degrees. Line bottom of a loaf pan with parchment paper.
Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Beat sugar and eggs with a whisk until light and fluffy, about 10 minutes. Drizzle in oil. Add mashed bananas, buttermilk, and vanilla. Fold in dry ingredients. Pour into a lined loaf pan and bake for about 45 minutes to 1 hour (depending on your oven, mine usually takes about 50 minutes).
let it cool on a wire rack in the pan for about 15 minutes. Then turn out onto a plate and let cool more.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Salmorejo Cordobes (Spanish Style Gazpacho)

We made a very good Spanish style gazpacho the other night for dinner. I found this recipe on Bon Appetit's website. It was so fresh and delicious. We simply served it with some chopped cucumber, hard boiled egg, and crispy pancetta (or you can use bacon). This is the perfect summer meal for these hot and humid days.
Here is what you need:

1 cups room temperature water
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
1 cups coarsely torn day old baguette with crust or any type of crusty bread you like
5 plum tomatoes, halved, seeded, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup coarsely chopped onion
1/8 cup sherry wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 garlic clove, peeled
1 cup lightly flavored extra virgin olive oil
2 hard boiled eggs, coarsely chopped
4 slices of pancetta or bacon, cooked till crispy and chopped
1/2 seedless cucumber chopped

Stir water and salt in medium bowl to dissolve. Add bread; soak for 30 minutes. Squeeze excess liquid from bread; reserve soaking liquid.
Puree half each chopped tomatoes, chopped onion, sherry vinegar, lemon juice, and garlic in blender until very smooth. With machine running, gradually add half of bread, adding reserved soaking liquid by tablespoonfuls if mixture is too thick to blend. Puree until very smooth. With machine running, gradually add half of the olive oil. Transfer to a large bowl. Repeat with remaining chopped tomatoes, chopped onion, sherry vinegar, fresh lemon juice, garlic, bread, and oil. Cover and chill at least 2 hours and up to 1 day. Or you can put it into your freezer for 15 minutes if you don't have 2 hours to chill it. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Divide soup into bowls; sprinkle with chopped egg, bacon, and cucumber. Drizzle with a little olive oil and serve. Serves 4

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Fruits of Our Labor

We birthed our first baby watermelon today! She weighed in at about 25 pounds and had a gorgeous green skin and delicious red juicy insides. We cut the umbilical cord and it was love at first bite. We have 3 more babies on the way and are very excited. Hopefully they will be just as tasty as the first.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Lamb Loin Chops with Salsa Verde and Mediterranean Cous Cous Salad

We were craving some lamb chops the other night so we made a simple salsa Verde to baste the lamb chops in while they were cooking which doubled as a dipping sauce later. This dinner came out great, and it was so pretty with all the colors.
To make the Salsa Verde you will need:
1 cup flat leaf parsley
2 green onions
2 tablespoons fresh mint
1 tablespoon capers, drained
1 lemon, juiced and zested
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup olive oil

In a blender, add the parsley, onions, mint, capers, lemon juice and zest, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper. Pulse until forms a thick paste. Then while the machine is running slowly add the olive oil. Taste to make sure it is to your liking, you can add more salt and pepper and red pepper flakes at this point. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 415 degrees. In a large cast iron skillet heat 2 tablespoons olive oil. Take the lamb chops and sprinkle with salt and pepper generously. Place them in the hot pan and sear till it is brown and forms a nice crust. Turn and baste the top with some of the salsa Verde. Then when the other side is browned turn once more and baste the other side with salsa Verde. Then turn the heat off and transfer to the oven to finish cooking. About 10 to 15 minutes depending on the size of the lamb chops.

For the Mediterranean Cous Cous Salad:
1 cup pearl cous cous
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1/2 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup shelled, unsalted pistachios, toasted
1 tablespoon fresh mint
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

In a medium sauce pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil, add the cous cous and toast until it starts to turn golden; then add the chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then simmer covered until almost all the liquid is absorbed and cous cous is tender. Drain any excess liquid and transfer cous cous to a bowl to cool. Once at room temperature add the tomatoes, toasted pistachios, mint, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper. Mix until well combined.

Roasted Chicken with The BEST Potato Salad EVER

The other night we had a very American meal, roast chicken and potato salad. You can never go wrong with the classics. I found this potato salad recipe on another fellow food blog called smitten kitchen. I have to say this has got to be one of the best potato salad's I have ever made. I am not a big potato salad person, I will rarely ever eat potato salad from a restaurant. Something about it doesn't sit well with me. I am not going to go into details about the roast chicken because I have posted a couple different roast chicken recipes that are really good, so please refer back to those when making this meal. Lets discuss this phenomenal potato salad, its really easy and can be made ahead.
Here is the recipe:

1 1/2 pounds medium red skinned potatoes, unpeeled, scrubbed, cut into 1 inch cubes
4 dill pickle spears coarsely chopped or I used dill relish which worked just as well (about 1/2 cup)
2 celery stalks, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
2 hard boiled eggs, peeled, chopped
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
salt and pepper to taste

Cook potatoes in a large pot of boiling salted water until fork tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and cool, then transfer to a large bowl. Stir in pickles, celery, onion, eggs, mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, and dill. Season potato salad with salt and pepper. Mix until well combined and let stand for 30 minutes at room temperature before serving. Serves 4

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Chocolate Cupcakes with Banana Butter Icing

So I acquired the best chocolate cake recipe ever! Thanks to my sister in law's Aunt Mary Anne and Granny. This is a family recipe that has been passed down from generation to generation and I promise if you try this you will know why. It is the most moist and light cake, you will feel like its almost good for you! :) Aunt Mary Anne makes versions of this cake for every one's birthday's and I think every one's most excited about eating the cake more than opening presents! So it was an honor that they shared this family recipe with me, hopefully I do them proud.
So instead of making a cake I took this recipe and cut it in half to make chocolate cupcakes for my Uncle Leon's Birthday which is today. And I had some bananas that need to be eaten or else they were going in the trash so I decided to try a banana butter icing..which is more like a glaze rather than frosting. Then topped the cupcakes with mini chocolate peanut butter cups. I have to say for the first try I think the flavor combination is pretty good. But you have to like banana because the icing does not have a subtle banana flavor. Oh and one other note the cupcakes are very delicate so I would suggest once they have cooled to put them in the fridge for an hour before you ice them.
Here is the famous cake recipe cut in half from the original: Makes 12 cupcakes
1/3 cup butter softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups sifted flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup boiling water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg until light. Add vanilla. In a different bowl, sift the flour three times with cocoa, baking soda, and salt (I honestly didn't sift these I just made sure that there were no lumps in the cocoa). Add dry ingredients to butter and sugar mixture alternately with buttermilk. Add boiling water last. Spoon batter into muffin tin lined with cupcake liners. Bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

For the Icing:
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/4 cup mashed bananas
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 5/8 cups confectioners sugar
Cream together butter, banana, lemon juice, and vanilla. Slowly beat in confectioner's sugar, adding more if needed. Consistency is more like a glaze.
Ice the cooled cupcakes over parchment paper so the excess drops onto parchment paper and put in the fridge for the icing to set about and hour.

Pasta Salad with Cherry Tomatoes, Italian Sausage, and Green Olivada

I think I have found our new favorite pasta dish. Its the new version of the pasta with sun dried tomato and sausage that I have posted before. I found this recipe from Bon Appetit and adapted slightly to my version by adding mild Italian sausage in place of the cheese. This is a great summer dish because its light and fresh. And in case your wondering an Olivada is an Italian olive spread, which has the consistency of a pesto. Its very flavorful and super easy to make.
Here is what you need:
1 garlic clove, peeled
2 cups coarsely chopped pitted green olives, divided
3 tablespoons capers, drained
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 mild Italian sausage links, sliced into bite size pieces
1 pound gemelli, fusilli, or rotelle pasta
1 pint cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano

In a food processor, add garlic with machine running through feed tube and process until finely chopped; turn off machine. Add 1 cup chopped olives, capers, red wine vinegar, anchovy paste, mustard, and crushed red pepper. Using the pulse button, process to chop coarsely. With machine running , gradually add 1/2 cup olive oil, forming coarse puree. Transfer to bowl; stir in remaining olives, season with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD (can be made up to 3 days in advance). Cover and refrigerate.

Cook sausage in a large skillet with a tablespoon of olive oil; until all sides are browned and sausage is cooked through. Take out and let sit on a plate with a paper towel, so the excess oil is drained off.
Meanwhile cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain well. Transfer drained pasta to a large bowl. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil; toss to coat. Let cool.
Add the Olivada, halved tomatoes, cooked sausage, and oregano to pasta; toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Pan Seared Halibut with Thai Coconut Sauce

Last night I tried a out a new recipe that I found on Bon Appetit's website. I changed it up a bit from the original by changing the fish and opting not to grill outside since we were having torrential downpours. The original recipe called for Mahi Mahi which I love, but unfortunately the market did not have it, so I thought Halibut would work just as well..or really any mild white fish could work.
The flavors that came out of this sauce were phenomenal. It tasted like that coconut chicken soup that they serve at Thai restaurants, that is one of my favorites. I think in the winter I will take this sauce recipe and turn it into a soup that you poach the chicken pieces in. And even better was how simple this recipe was. Even the most novice of cooks could do this. :)

Here is what you need:
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 8-oz. bottle of clam juice
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
4 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves minced
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced (you can use a Serrano Chile if you want more heat)
4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, divided
4 tablespoons minced green onions, divided
1 pound halibut fillet

Combine first 6 ingredients in medium skillet. Add minced jalapeno or Serrano Chile depending on the level of heat desired; boil until sauce thickens slightly and is reduced to generous 3/4 cup, 8 to 9 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in 2 tablespoons cilantro and 2 tablespoons green onions. season with salt and pepper.
Brush fish all over with some of the sauce; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place fish in an oiled non stick skillet over medium high heat. Sear on skin side down first until browned about 5 to 7 minutes. Then flip the fish over and sear again until browned. Baste the fish with some of the sauce while its cooking. Fish is done when opaque in the center. Divide the coconut sauce among the plates, top with fish. Sprinkle with remaining cilantro and green onions. Serve with jasmine rice. Serves 2 to 3 people

Fried Egg with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Asparagus, and Leeks

So after quite a busy weekend we didn't have much food in the fridge. And didn't feel like going out, so I took pretty much what we had left from last week and made a very delicious healthy meal. All I did was take a handful of asparagus, cherry tomatoes, and 1 leek that I cut in half lengthwise and then separated the layers. Just spread all of that onto a baking sheet and drizzled olive oil, salt and pepper and mixed it up until it was well coated. Then I popped that in a preheated 425 degree oven for about 25 minutes or until the leeks started to brown and the tomatoes started to break down. Then I just fried 2 eggs and served it up. It was a great meal!