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Monday, June 25, 2012

GIN BLOSSOM


As I was driving the kids home from camp, I was thinking about the menu for the upcoming evening. I remembered the lavender chamomile syrup I had recently made and thought how well it would go in a cocktail. I found this recipe, that was very similar to my current favorite cocktail, and couldn't wait to try it.


GIN BLOSSOM



1 1/2 ounce gin
1 ounce elderflower liqueur
1 ounce fresh lemon juice
1 ounce lavender and chamomile infused simple syrup

Shake all ingredients together and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Add a light sprinkle of dried lavender buds to garnish.
Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

MINESTRONE

My husband recently had some dental work done - which turned out to be a bigger deal than either of us had realized.
Upon discharge he was instructed to follow a soft diet - steak night was out, and soup night was in!!
I was depending on the age old remedy of a restorative broth to aid my husband on his road to recovery, and I do believe this warm, nourishing and comforting recipe definitely helped the healing process.

MINESTRONE


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
salt and black pepper
2 potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks (I used sweet potatoes)
1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes
1 zucchini, cut into 1 1inch pieces
1 bunch kale, chopped
1 cup canned cannellini beans, drained
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (optional)

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, and celery. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring often, for 10 to 15 minutes or until vegetables begin to soften.
Add potatoes, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 10 minutes or until vegetables are a light brown. Add 4 to 6 cups of water, stirring to scrape up any brown bits from bottom of pot. Add tomatoes, bring to a boil, and then lower heat to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes.
Add zucchini and kale, raising heat if necessary to keep mixture at a steady bubble. Cook until vegetables are very tender, another 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in beans. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Add salt and pepper, if needed. Top with parmesan cheese and a drizzle of olive oil if desired.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Relish, March 2012
www.relish.com/

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

CARAMEL BROWNIES

The original and rather irresistible name of these brownies, was "knock you naked brownies".
They were pretty fantastic, although thankfully all present managed to keep their clothes on!!
They were super simple to throw together, and I liked that the caramel layer had time to chill and harden before putting the final layer in place.

CARAMEL BROWNIES


1 (18.5 ounce) package of german chocolate cake mix
1 cup chopped nuts or chocolate chips
1/3 cup plus 1/2 cup evaporated milk, divided
1/2 cup melted butter
14 ounce package caramels, unwrapped
1 cup chocolate chips

In a large mixing bowl, combine dry cake mix, nuts, 1/3 cup evaporated milk and melted butter. Press half of the batter into the bottom of a greased 9 by 13 inch baking dish.
Bake in a preheated oven 350F oven for 8 minutes. In a microwave or top of a double boiler, melt caramels with remaining 1/2 cup evaporated milk. When caramel mixture is well mixed, pour over baked layer. Cover with chocolate chips. Chill for about an hour or until the caramel is hard. Press the remaining batter on top of morsels. Return to oven and bake 28 minutes (or less for gooier brownies).
Let cool before cutting.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Arkansas Living, May 2012
www.aecc.com/arkansas-living-magazine

Monday, June 18, 2012

SPINACH, MANGO AND RASPBERRY SALAD WITH GOAT CHEESE

This salad was part of a menu for a dinner party to celebrate dear friends who were recently married!! My husband and I wanted to host a special gathering to honor the new couple, and the amazing journey they were embarking on - both in their personal lives and across the country to their new home.
It was a truly incredible evening, with a fabulous group of people - it was such a pleasure to plan and prepare, but the food definitely paled in comparison to the beautiful souls present.

SPINACH, MANGO AND RASPBERRY SALAD WITH GOAT CHEESE


2 packages fresh baby spinach
2 mangoes, peeled and sliced
1 (4 ounce) package goat cheese, crumbled
1 cup fresh raspberries
basil vinaigrette

Toss spinach and mangoes with 1/4 cup basil vinaigrette in a large bowl, arrange on a serving platter or individual plates. Sprinkle with crumbled goat cheese and raspberries. Serve with remaining basil vinaigrette.

BASIL VINAIGRETTE

Whisk together 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil, 1/2 cup raspberry vinegar, 2 crushed garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 2 teaspoons dijon mustard, and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and dried crushed red pepper until blended. Add 1/2 cup olive oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly until smooth.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Southern Living, February 2012
www.southernliving.com/food/

Saturday, June 16, 2012

CARAMEL APPLE DESSERT PIZZA

My daughter was looking through an American Doll Magazine, and came across this yummy sounding recipe - although she doesn't yet have an American Doll, she desperately wants one and currently makes do with looking at the dolls and accessories on the internet and in catalogues.
I agreed to help her make the dessert pizza, and we whipped it up prior to a play date, so she could share it with her friends.

CARAMEL APPLE DESSERT PIZZA


1 roll refrigerated sugar cookie dough
1 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons milk
 2 or 3 apples
lemon juice
caramel sauce

Press the sugar cookie dough into a greased 12 inch pizza pan or round baking tin.
Bake the dough in a 350F oven for 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool.
In a bowl, mix together the cream cheese, peanut butter, brown sugar, and milk until smooth. Use a spatula to spread the mixture on top of the cookie crust.
Cut the apples into thin slices. Toss the slices in lemon juice so that they don't turn brown. Arrange the apples on top of the cream cheese mixture.
Finish by drizzling caramel sauce over the apples. To serve, cut the pizza into wedges.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from American Girl Magazine, June 2012
www.americangirl.com/Magazine

Thursday, June 14, 2012

VEGGIE BURGERS

I made these one week night - a quick, easy, delicious and healthy dinner.
The patties held together well and I liked that they could be prepared and formed in advance - making for a leisurely summer cooking experience.
The recipe made an ample amount of burgers - I was able to feed my family, with enough left over to give to a friend when she stopped by to pick up her kids after a play date. Her and her family were on their way to England the next day and I was very glad to help her out, even in such a small way, by providing dinner - as simple as it was.

VEGGIE BURGERS


4 teaspoons olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 carrots, peeled and grated
1 yellow squash, grated
1 zucchini, grated
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 cup rolled oats
flour, for dusting
small rolls or buns
1/2 cup mixed greens

Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add onion and reduce heat to medium. Add the garlic and saute for 3 to 4 minutes, until soft. Mix in carrots, squash, zucchini, salt and pepper. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes more, or until soft. Mix in black beans, paprika, parsley and oats. Remove from heat, mix in egg and let rest at room temperature for 1 hour.
Divide the mixture into equal parts and form each into a flattened, round patty. Lightly coat each side with flour.
Heat remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add patties and cook for 5 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.
Serve on multigrain buns topped with mixed greens, if desired.
Enjoy!

Monday, June 11, 2012

VEGETABLE PASTA BAKE

My family loved this dish - I served it with a "make your own salad".  I set out a bowl of greens, baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, grated cheese, cucumber and croutons - that my son had picked out while shopping today. It proved to be a very popular dish, and made up the main part of the meal for my very picky older son.
While making the pasta bake, I thought the cheese sauce would be rather skimpy. It did cover all of the ingredients, but I would still have liked for it all to be a little more creamy, and would double the cheese sauce recipe in the future.

VEGETABLE PASTA BAKE


8 ounces penne pasta
2 1/2 cups cauliflower florets (1/2 medium head)
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 carrots, diced
1 stalk of celery, diced
1 bunch kale, stems removed, leaves torn
3/4 cup frozen peas
3/4 cup whole kernel corn
1 recipe cheese sauce
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 350F.
In a large saucepan, cook pasta according to package directions, add cauliflower the last 4 minutes of cooking. Drain, rinse.
In the same pan, cook onion and garlic in hot oil over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add carrots and celery, cook just until tender. Add kale, cook until just wilted. Stir in pasta mixture, peas and corn. Stir in cheese sauce. Transfer to 2 1/2 quart casserole, cover, bake 35 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with  parmesan, bake 5 to 10 minutes more.

CHEESE SAUCE

In a small saucepan melt 2 tablespoons butter, stir in 2 tablespoons flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper. Slowly add 1 cup milk, cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Reduce heat, add 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese. Cook and stir until melted.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens, January 2012
www.bhg.com/

Friday, June 1, 2012

BAKED ASIAGO HUMMUS

I hosted our most recent book club gathering, and wanted to keep it very simple.
We sat outside on the deck, and I offered cheeses, olives, nuts and wine, and made this baked asiago hummus. It sounded so delicious and intriguing to me, but wasn't as tasty and flavorful as I had hoped, even with the addition of lemon juice and feta cheese.

BAKED ASIAGO HUMMUS


2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 (15 ounce) can of garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon snipped fresh rosemary
juice of half a lemon
6 tablespoons shredded asiago cheese
1/4 cup feta, crumbled

Heat oven to 450F.
In a large skillet melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and sugar, reduce heat to medium-low. Cook and stir for 20 to 25 minutes or until onions are very tender and caramelized. Set aside.
In a food processor combine beans, olive oil, sesame oil, garlic, rosemary, 2 tablespoons of water, lemon juice, caramelized onions, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Process until smooth. Stir in 4 tablespoons of the asiago cheese, and the feta. Transfer to an oven proof dish.
Top with remaining cheese.
Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until cheese is browned and hummus is heated through.
Garnish with a sprig of rosemary if desired and serve with baguette slices, pita chips and carrot and celery sticks.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens, January 2012
www.bhg.com/