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Sunday, September 30, 2012

CHICKEN FINGERS WITH HONEY MUSTARD SAUCE

My husband and I arrived back in the country, on a Sunday night, at 2am in the morning. Then I cleaned all that day in anticipation of family arriving the day after, so needless to say, I hadn't given dinner much thought. I joked we would be having chicken nuggets, then remembered I had this recipe for chicken fingers - perfect for kids, and yummy enough for adults.
My daughter wanted to help me cook, and once I had cut up the chicken, and set up the bowls with the buttermilk and breadcrumbs, and the cooking sheet, she was able to do the rest.

CHICKEN FINGERS WITH HONEY MUSTARD SAUCE



3 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut across into 3/4 inch slices
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
salt
pepper
honey mustard sauce (recipe below)

Heat the oven to 400F.
Combine the chicken and buttermilk in a shallow dish, turning the chicken once to coat with the buttermilk. Cover and chill for 15 minutes (I completely missed this step, but the dish still turned out ok).
Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray or foil.
Combine breadcrumbs, salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Dip each piece of chicken in the crumbs to fully coat and arrange on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until cooked through about 16 minutes. Serve with the mustard sauce.

HONEY MUSTARD SAUCE

1/4 cup dijon mustard
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons honey

In a small bowl, stir together the mustard and mayonnaise until smooth. Stir in the honey.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from USA Weekend, August, 2012
www.usaweekend.com/section/FOOD

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

BAKED PENNE WITH FARMHOUSE CHEDDAR AND LEEKS

I was going out for the evening with a friend and had planned to leave dinner for my family.
This baked penne has been a consistent favorite of mine. I have loved it every time I've made it, unfortunately I was to discover my family didn't enjoy it as much as me! After rushing to cook and leave a heart warming, home cooked meal on the table, I came home to discover my husband had made a whole different dinner, that the kids liked far better than my pasta dish.
However, I still count it among my personal favorites, and is one I will definitely make again.

BAKED PENNE WITH FARMHOUSE CHEDDAR AND LEEKS


1/4 cup butter
5 leeks, chopped (white and pale green parts only)
1/4 cup flour
2 1/2 cups whole milk
1 pound sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely grated (about 4 cups)
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
2 large eggs
1 pound penne pasta

Lightly butter a 15 by 10 inch baking dish.
Melt butter in a large saucepan, over medium heat. Add leeks, stir to coat. Cover saucepan and cook until leeks are tender, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes (do not brown). Uncover saucepan, add flour. Stir 2 minutes. Add milk, bring to simmer, stirring often. Add cheese, mustard, and pepper sauce. Stir until cheese melts. Remove from heat. Season cheese sauce to taste with salt.
Whisk eggs in medium bowl. Gradually whisk in 1 cup cheese sauce. Stir egg mixture into cheese sauce in saucepan.
Meanwhile, cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain. Return to pot.
Stir cheese sauce into pasta in pot. Transfer to prepared baking dish.
Heat oven to 400F. Bake pasta until cheese sauce is bubbling around edges, 25 to 30 minutes.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, March 2009
www.bonappetit.com/ideas/March-2009-issue/search

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

ROASTED ZUCCHINI WITH ALMONDS AND OLIVES and ZUCCHINI RIBBONS WITH FETA AND MINT

As I think I have mentioned, I have had a lot of zucchini to cook my way through! Thankfully there are a lot of interesting, delicious ways to serve the end of the summer bounty.
Both of these recipes are very quick, use few ingredients, but are delightfully tasty. The olives with the roasted zucchini, and the dressing on the zucchini ribbons, add a wonderful tang to the otherwise mild vegetable.

ROASTED ZUCCHINI WITH ALMONDS AND OLIVES


1 zucchini
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons pimento-stuffed green olives, chopped coarsely
1/4 cup whole almonds, chopped coarsely

Heat oven to 400F.
Using a vegetable peeler, slice zucchini lengthwise into long, thin strips and put into medium bowl. Add salt and toss to combine. Let sit for 5 minutes. Add oil, garlic, olives and almonds and toss lightly to coat. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake 20 minutes. Serve immediately.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Arkansas Democrat Gazette, August 2012
www.arkansas.com/dining/recipes/

ZUCCHINI RIBBONS WITH FETA AND MINT


2 zucchini
2 shallots, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
salad greens
3/4 cup feta cheese, thinly sliced

Using a Y-shaped vegetable peeler, cut zucchini lengthwise into very thin strips just until seeds are visible.
Mix together the shallots, mint, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Arrange zucchini ribbons over salad greens, top with shallot mixture and feta cheese.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Southern Living, June 2009
www.southernliving.com › Food › Recipes

Monday, September 24, 2012

FLOUNDER AND ROASTED TOMATOES

I was very excited for my Uncle to come and visit, and picked him up from the bus station last week. He had flown from New Zealand, taken a train from Los Angeles to Chicago, then a bus to Fayetteville via St Louis. Needless to say, he had see a lot of countryside, and met some very interesting people.
His first night with us, I wanted a simple, nourishing meal - something that wouldn't tie me to the kitchen, and would ensure lots of time to visit - and this dish was perfect.
We paired the flounder with a delicious bottle of American chardonnay, and lots of wonderful conversation.

FLOUNDER AND ROASTED TOMATOES


2 tablespoons capers
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
4 skinless flounder or sole fillets
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

Heat oven to 400F.
Combine first 3 ingredients in a small bowl, toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, top with basil.
Combine breadcrumbs, parsley and thyme in a shallow dish, season to taste with salt and pepper. Coat fillets with cooking spray, dredge in breadcrumb mixture.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of the fillets to pan, cook 3 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Repeat procedure with remaining oil and fillets.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light, May 2012
www.cookinglight.com › Food › Recipe Finder

Friday, September 21, 2012

SMOKED SWEET POTATOES

I was so excited when the opportunity came up to meet and visit with John McLemore, President of Masterbuilt Manufacturing and cookbook author of "DADGUM That's Good!" and "DADGUM That's Good, Too!". He was a lovely guy, and I really enjoyed talking with him and sharing stories about our mutual passion for cooking, entertaining, good food and great people.
Looking through cookbooks is a treasured past time of mine, and there were so many wonderful recipes in "DADGUM That's Good, Too!, I couldn't wait to get cooking. I loved that this book was full of John's personal memories, fun and fabulous people, and loads of interesting, delicious recipes.
John said one of his personal favorites is the Smoked Mac & Cheese, and I was especially intrigued by the Smoked Cabbage, Banana Wontons, and the Grilled Peaches and Plums with Honey-Citrus Sauce! Oh my gosh - so many fantastic recipes to choose from!
Friends were hosting a lobster bake, and asked if we would bring a side dish - I immediately looked through my latest cookbook, "DADGUM That's Good,Too!" and found this tempting recipe for Smoked Sweet Potatoes, which I thought would complement the lobster. We were not disappointed - the potatoes had a delicious hint of smoke, they paired perfectly with the sweet lobster and elicited rave reviews from everyone present.


SMOKED SWEET POTATOES


8 large sweet potatoes
2 1/3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons sea salt
1 cup butter
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 cup smoked or toasted pecans, coarsely chopped

Preheat smoker to 275F.
Wash and scrub each sweet potato well. Baste each with 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Sprinkle outside of each potato with 1/2 teaspoon sea salt. Place sweet potatoes in smoker and smoke for 1 hour. Remove from smoker, double wrap each potato securely with heavy duty aluminum foil and place back in smoker for an additional hour.
Remove potatoes from smoker and unwrap from foil. Slice potatoes in half and score flesh with a fork. Top each potato half with 1 tablespoon of butter, 1 tablespoon of brown sugar and 1 tablespoon of chopped pecans.
Enjoy!

Recipe from "Dadgum That's Good, Too", John McLemore, 2012
dadgumthatsgood.com/

Thursday, September 20, 2012

SQUASH CASSEROLE

Our kids decided they wanted to have a 4 course meal, because it was "fancy".
Joe set the table, complete with candles, the good china and chargers under the plates - one of the courses was this wonderful squash casserole, served with pork loin.
The whole evening was so enjoyable, but the excitement of the kids was the best part of all!

SQUASH CASSEROLE


4 pounds squash, sliced
1 large, sweet onion, finely chopped
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup chopped chives
1 (8 ounce) container sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1 1/4 cups freshly shredded parmesan cheese, divided
4 tablespoons butter, melted

Heat oven to 350F.
Cook squash and onion in boiling water, 8 minutes or just until tender. Drain mixture well.
Combine squash mixture, cheddar cheese, chives, sour cream, mayonnaise, garlic salt, black pepper, eggs and 3/4 cups parmesan cheese.
Spoon into a lightly greased 13 by 9 inch baking dish.
Stir together melted butter and breadcrumbs and remaining parmesan cheese.
Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture over top of casserole.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until set.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Southern Living, May 2010
www.southernliving.com/food/

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

PEANUT HUMMUS

I originally made this dip for an "unusual pairings" party, my husband and I hosted. Not being familiar with boiled peanuts, I used the roasted kind, easily found in every supermarket in this area. My first attempt didn't turn out very well - it resembled a satay sauce, rather than hummus!
My dear friend let me know that in fact boiled peanuts were very different to roasted and they were to be found in abundance down South. On a recent family trip through Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida, we came across many stands at the side of the road that were selling boiled peanuts - and I was excited to try them, and to attempt this recipe again. The texture was very like a large, soft bean, perfect for a hummus-like dip.

PEANUT HUMMUS


1 cup shelled boiled peanuts
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
pinch of ground red pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

Process first 7 ingredients in a food processor until coarsely chopped, stopping to scrape down sides as needed. Add olive oil, processing until smooth - adding more lemon juice and/or olive oil as needed.
Serve with pita chips, sliced carrots, cucumbers, and red pepper strips, as desired.
Enjoy!


Monday, September 17, 2012

TOMATO STACK SALAD WITH CORN AND AVOCADO

My husband decided he wanted to invite some acquaintances from twitter over for dinner. Having no idea what we were getting ourselves in for, we planned what we hoped would be a fresh and delicious menu. This was one of my favorite dishes, flavorful but light - and the dressing was one of the best I have tasted.
The evening could have gone either way, but thankfully, the group who came were absolutely fabulous, a truly wonderful, interesting mix of people, that made it a fun evening, full of great conversation, delightful appreciation of food, and who we would welcome back any time.

TOMATO STACK SALAD WITH CORN AND AVOCADO


2 bacon slices
1/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
2 ears shucked corn
4 tomatoes, cut into slices
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 ripe peeled avocado, thinly sliced
4 teaspoons olive oil

Heat the grill to high heat.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add bacon to pan, cook 8 minutes or until crisp. Drain bacon on paper towels, and chop.
Combine buttermilk, chives, basil, mayonnaise, vinegar and garlic, stirring with a whisk. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
Coat corn with cooking spray. Place corn on grill rack, grill 8 minutes or until well marked, turning occasionally. Remove from grill, cool slightly. Cut corn kernels from cobs.
Sprinkle tomato slices evenly with salt. Alternate layers of tomato and avocado on each of 4 plates.
Drizzle each tomato stack with about 1 1/2 tablespoons dressing and 1 teaspoon oil. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 teaspoon black pepper over salads, top each salad with chopped bacon.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light, August 2012
www.cookinglight.com/

Saturday, September 15, 2012

MOZZARELLA AND PEPPER PRESSED SANDWICH

I have been wanting to try this recipe for a long time! However, because I wasn't going on a picnic, but having a friend to my house for lunch, I attempted to press the sandwich under various heavy articles in my refrigerator as opposed to pressing them under picnic items at the bottom of a cooler.
I gathered the ingredients, and put them together on two sandwiches, not following the measurements exactly - but doing it to taste. I loved the idea of these, but they turned out a little soggy - although that may have been due to  the olive tapenade I added.

MOZZARELLA AND PEPPER PRESSED SANDWICH


1 5 ounce jar roasted red bell peppers, drained and roughly chopped
1 pinch hot pepper flakes
1 tablespoon roughly chopped parsley
6 ounces of fresh mozzarella, drained and sliced
(I also added olive tapenade and arugula to our sandwiches)
1/2 thin 18 inch baguette, sliced lengthwise, interior crumb removed

In a medium bowl, combine the first four ingredients.
Spread the bread with olive tapenade, fill the baguette with the mozzarella mixture and arugula.
Close the baguette and wrap it tightly in waxed paper, then in aluminum foil. Place the sandwich at the bottom of the cooler so the weight of the other contents compresses the sandwich and allows the juices to soak into the bread.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Cookie magazine, July 2007

Friday, September 14, 2012

SALMON WITH MAPLE SYRUP AND TOASTED ALMONDS

My husband and I have been trying to eat a little healthier, which for us, includes incorporating fish at least twice a week into our meals. This was easy to prepare, and was very moist and delicious - in fact, Rolf said it was my best salmon yet. I will definitely make this again!

SALMON WITH MAPLE SYRUP AND TOASTED ALMONDS


6 (6 ounce) salmon fillets
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 teaspoons sliced almonds, toasted

Heat oven to 425F.
Place fillets in a 13 by 9 inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Combine sugar, syrup, soy sauce, mustard, and black pepper. Pour maple syrup mixture over fillets.
Cover with foil, bake for 10 minutes. Remove foil, sprinkle the fillets with almonds. Bake an additional 10 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Serve with maple syrup mixture.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light
www.cookinglight.com/

Thursday, September 13, 2012

CHOCOLATE ZUCCHINI MUFFINS

We receive a weekly vegetable delivery, and lately there has been more zucchini than we know what to do with. I had been looking for ways to use them, when I came across this recipe. I decided to try it, thinking my kids would love it and they did!! It could have been the cocoa and spices, or it could have been the chocolate chips I added - either way, I was thrilled they were getting a tasty and somewhat healthy snack.

CHOCOLATE ZUCCHINI MUFFINS


3 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups grated zucchini
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

Heat oven to 350F.
Lightly grease or line two 12 cup muffin tins with paper liners.
In a large bowl beat the eggs. Beat in the sugar and oil. Add the cocoa, vanilla, zucchini and stir well.
Stir in the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom. Mix until just moist.
Pour batter into prepared muffin tins filling 2/3 of the way full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool on a wire rack. Store loosely covered.
Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

THE DERBY

My husband and I put the kids to bed, and settled down to watch our hometown of Fayetteville Arkansas, on the "Great Food Truck Race". I wanted a fun cocktail to relax and enjoy the show with, and I think the cool weather was inspired me to look to a bourbon drink. I added orange juice to this recipe, simply because we had half an orange in the fruit basket. It was a perfect cocktail, I loved the whiskey paired with the fruit juices - wonderful for a chilly evening

THE DERBY


1 ounce bourbon whiskey
juice of 1/2 orange
juice of 1 lime
1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
1/2 ounce orange curaçao

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the bourbon whiskey, orange and lime juices, sweet vermouth and orange curaçao. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Serious Eats
www.seriouseats.com/

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

BAKED FIG CROSTINI

I met with a friend recently, who told me about a pizza she had tried in Canada, with figs, proscuitto and blue cheese. I came across this recipe, bought the ingredients, and was excited to make it for my husband. We were trying to decide whether to go out for dinner or stay in one night, but once I mentioned this delicious dish, he chose date night at home.

BAKED FIG CROSTINI


Heat oven to 350F.
Stir together 4 ounces of chopped, cooked Canadian bacon, 1 tablespoon of finely chopped toasted walnuts, and 1 teaspoon of chopped fresh thyme.
Slice 8 fresh figs. Spread goat cheese on each crostini, spoon bacon mixture on top.
Bake on a baking sheet, 7 minutes.
Drizzle with 1 to 2 tablespoons of honey.
Serve immediately.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Southern Living, August 2010
www.southernliving.com/

Monday, September 10, 2012

GABRIELE'S ARKANSAS SUMMER TRIFLE

One of the sweetest, wonderful, most interesting ladies I know, attends our church here in Fayetteville.  Every time we see her, we come away glowing, and we have discovered she is a most gracious, thoughtful and attentive hostess, who can whip up incredible dishes in the kitchen, while effortlessly ensuring her guests are comfortable. 
Gabriele called me a few weeks back, and offered to make her fabulous trifle for our family to enjoy!! Well, what a sense of anticipation I had all day!! When it came time to take possession of the delightful dessert, my husband called to tell me he had enjoyed a couple of glasses of wine with our generous and engaging friends, and I would have to come pick him and the trifle up AND we were invited to stay for dinner!! I was even more excited, if that was even possible!! We very much enjoyed the incredible conversation, a pasta dish from Lothar and Gabriele's home country of Germany, the amazing view from their back deck, the relaxation that comes from children being well entertained - and then dessert!! WOW!! I think Gabriele says it best, "Yes, there is the classic English Trifle. What would Christmas be without it? But even better, there is the Arkansas Summer Trifle. Just like a cool mint julep, the Arkansas peach trifle is a classic at our house. With fresh, ripe, sweet fruit from our orchards, it's simply peaches and cream". I know this will definitely become a well used recipe in our home, and I do believe I will have to perfect the mint julep also.

GABRIELE'S ARKANSAS SUMMER TRIFLE


1lb pound cake
3 ounce package of vanilla pudding, cooked in 2 1/2 cups milk, cooled
1/2 pint heavy cream, whipped
8 medium ripe sweet peaches, peeled, pitted and cut into slices
2 ounces of slivered almonds

Cut the pound cake into 1/2 inch slices, arrange on the bottom of a trifle bowl. Drizzle with a little Grand Marnier or Amaretto. Pour pudding over cake, top with sliced peaches and some whipped cream. Repeat to make 3 layers. Finish with whipped cream, a sliced peach and almonds as decoration. Refrigerate 4 hours or more. Serve chilled and you will be in heaven!!
Enjoy!!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

MIXED FRUIT CHICKEN SALAD

This was one of my very favorite summer recipes. I made it for friends for lunch on many occasions, and was always excited have some left over, so I could have it again the next day.
I loved, loved, loved the combination of fruit, celery and chicken, and the vinaigrette was absolutely divine! I noticed the spiciness would change, depending on the heat of the jalapeño that was used. But I found the sweet spiciness to be irresistible!

MIXED FRUIT CHICKEN SALAD


1/4 cup chopped walnuts
4 cups chopped cooked chicken breasts
2 cups seedless red and green grapes, halved
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 (11 ounce) can mandarin oranges, drained
1 cup chopped fresh pineapple
1/4 teaspoon salt
orange vinaigrette

Heat oven to 350F. Bake walnuts in a single layer in a shallow pan, 6 to 7 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through.
Toss together chicken and next 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Add vinaigrette, toss to coat. Sprinkle with walnuts and serve immediately.

ORANGE VINAIGRETTE

1/2 cup orange marmalade
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons olive oil

Stir together all ingredients.
Enjoy!

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

Friday, September 7, 2012

KUMARA WITH HOT BASIL SAUCE

I love any reason to cook kumara, or Japanese sweet potato. I found this recipe when I was searching for a quick side to add to our meal, using ingredients we already had. I loved the pesto sauce with the sweet, roasted kumara and crunchy lettuce, and enjoyed it for dinner, and lunch the next day.

KUMARA WITH HOT BASIL SAUCE


1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic
3/4 cup fresh basil
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
400g kumara, sliced and cooked (I baked mine at 400F for 20 minutes, turning it once)
lettuce

Place oil, garlic and basil in a food processor and process until smooth. Place in a bowl, stir in cheese and microwave on high for 1 minute. Stir well.
Arrange lettuce on serving plates and top with kumara.
Spoon hot sauce over, garnish with freshly ground black pepper if desired.
Enjoy!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

GRILLED TOMATO BASIL SOUP

I had lunch with a friend who had recently returned from a year in Austria. It was wonderful to talk with her and catch up on her family's adventures, during their time away.
In Austria they would shop every day or two for groceries, and one evening she wanted to make a tomato soup I had featured - however her husband came home with pizza sauce instead of plain canned tomatoes!! As with any good cook, she was able to substitute, compromise, and serve her family a fabulous meal.
I added tomato paste to this recipe because I felt the soup needed to be a little richer (cream would be good too) In addition, I added lots of color to my picture - also to make it richer.

GRILLED TOMATO BASIL SOUP


2 pounds of tomatoes, halved
1 onion, peeled and quartered
olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
3 cups chicken broth
several sprigs of fresh thyme, parsley, celery top and a bay leaf, tied together
1/4 cup fresh basil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon or orange juice
1 tablespoon tomato paste
pinch sugar
plain yogurt or sour cream

Heat grill or broiler.
Rub tomatoes and onion with olive oil, salt and pepper. Grill or broil for about 10 minutes or until flesh is lightly charred, turning once. Remove skins.
Combine tomatoes, onion, carrot, garlic, stock, herb bundle and little salt in a large pot.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes, or until vegetables are soft.
Discard herb bundle. Puree vegetables until smooth, return to pot. Stir in basil, lemon juice, tomato paste and sugar.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve chilled or hot with a spoonful of yogurt and garnish with fresh basil if desired.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Arkansas Democrat Gazette, July 2004
www.arkansas.com/dining/recipes/

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

WHITE BEANS WITH LEMON, FENNEL AND AVOCADO

There are some ingredients I find intimidating to prepare and cook, and consequently, I usually stay away from a recipe that includes them, or I will leave them out. One of those foods, is fennel. I haven't ever used it, never have thought much about what to do with it. However, because I loved the sound of every other ingredient in this delightful assortment of foods, I decided to be brave and make this salad, following the recipe and using all of the components listed.
It was perfect with the grilled chicken that I served for dinner - and I found the fennel added a wonderful crunch and interesting anise flavor. It wasn't at all difficult to prepare - I would definitely recommend both this aromatic vegetable and the exploration of new foods.

WHITE BEANS WITH LEMON, FENNEL AND AVOCADO


1 can cannellini beans, rinsed
1 bulb fennel, trimmed and shredded or finely chopped
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup minced red onion
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
salt and ground black pepper to taste
2 avocados, diced

In a large bowl, combine the beans, fennel, tomatoes, onion, parsley and olives.
In a small bowl, mix the oil, lemon juice and basil to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Add the dressing to bean mixture and toss to coat. Fold in the avocado and serve immediately.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Arkansas Democrat Gazette, August 2012
www.arkansas.com/dining/recipes/

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

SPRING ONION PIE

One of the reasons I love this recipe so much, and remember it so fondly, is that I made it for lunch for a fabulous, dear-to-my-heart lady.
The pie came out of the oven very puffy, like a giant popover, and I served it with a plain salad. I didn't use all 5 ounces of the gruyere that the recipe called for, it just seemed like a lot of cheese when I was putting the ingredients together. However, once it was cooked, and I was sampling the final product, I decided I should have put in every last crumb of it. I know it sounds very ordinary and unexciting, but in my opinion, good food and great times are wonderfully intertwined. Quality company results in a tastier, deeper, more flavorful and delicious dish.
In the end, I decided it really was perfect, just like a simple lunch with a beautiful friend.

SPRING ONION PIE


6 to 10 spring onions
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup milk
3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons butter
5 ounces gruyere cheese, cubed

Heat oven to 400F.
Heat an oven proof dish or skillet in the oven.
Trim and discard roots from the onions, chop.
Whisk together eggs and milk. Sift together flour, salt, baking powder and ground pepper. Gradually add flour mixture to egg mixture, whisking rapidly 20 to 30 seconds or just until blended and smooth.
Stir in chopped onions. Let stand 5 minutes.
Carefully remove hot dish from oven. Add butter, and let stand until butter is melted.
Place dish over medium-high heat, and pour batter into it. Arrange cheese on top of batter, and cook about 1 minute, or until edges begin to set.
Transfer dish to top oven rack, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown and puffy.
Enjoy!

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

Saturday, September 1, 2012

BANANA MINI MORSEL BARS and BANANA AND GINGER MUFFINS

We have a new rule in our house - no electronics during the week. My youngest son asked about playing on the Wii, so I redirected him with baking. I asked him to help me make these bars, and we had great conversation while in the kitchen. These were very tasty right out of the oven, and were still delicious and moist a few days later.

BANANA MINI MORSEL BARS


2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (about 3) mashed ripe bananas
1 egg
2 cups mini chocolate morsels
powdered sugar, to serve

Heat oven to 350F.
Grease a 9 by 13 baking dish.
Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Beat butter, sugars and vanilla extract in a large mixer bowl until creamy. Beat in bananas and egg. Gradually beat in flour mixture, stir in morsels. Spread into prepared pan.
Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack.
Sprinkle with powdered sugar to serve.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Nestle
www.verybestbaking.com/recipes/

I was using up the pile of ripe bananas we happened to have lying around the house, and loved the idea of this recipe. With the honey and ginger I thought it would be fabulous. However, these muffins turned out drier than I expected, and the frosting was kind of skimpy.

BANANA AND GINGER MUFFINS


2 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
1/4 cup butter
3 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
2 ripe bananas, mashed

Heat oven to 425F.
Grease a muffin tin, or line with liners. Sift the flour and ground ginger together into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the brown sugar and chopped ginger, and make a well in the center of the mixture.
Place the butter and the honey in a small saucepan and stir over low heat until melted.
Remove from the heat. Whisk the milk and eggs together.
Add the butter mixture, egg mixture and the bananas to the well in the dry ingredients.
Stir until just combined. Spoon the mixture into the muffin pan. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the center of a muffin.
Cool the muffins in the pan for 5 minutes then lift out onto a wire rack to cool completely before spreading with the topping.

FOR THE TOPPING
1/2 cup cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons confectioners sugar
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon rind
crystallized ginger, to decorate

Beat the cream cheese, confectioners sugar and grated lemon rind until light and creamy. Spread onto the muffins and decorate with chopped ginger.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Cooking.com
www.cooking.com/