Follow by Email

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

MAPLE GLAZED SALMON and MISO GLAZED SALMON WITH GREEN TEA RICE and GINGER POACHED SALMON WITH ORANGE AND HONEY

There is no shortage of information around about the health benefits of salmon - which is one of the many reasons we include it in weekly meals as much as possible.
Another is that it is something our whole family loves. I can put almost any variation on the table and it will be enjoyed without complaint - from the slightly spicy Maple Glazed Salmon, to the sweeter Ginger Poached Salmon with Orange and Honey.

MAPLE GLAZED SALMON


2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 (6 ounce) salmon fillets
1 teaspoon maple syrup (I used more)

Heat oven to 400F.
Combine the paprika, chili powder, ancho chile powder, cumin and brown sugar. Sprinkle fish with salt, rub with paprika mixture. Place fish in a baking pan, sprayed with cooking spray, bake 7 to 10 minutes. Drizzle fish with maple syrup, grill 4 to 5 minutes, or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light, May 2003
www.cookinglight.com/food/recipe-finder/

MISO GLAZED SALMON WITH GREEN TEA RICE


1 1/3 cups jasmine rice
1/4 cup miso
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon rice vinegar
4 skin-on salmon fillets
1/2 cup loose leaf green tea
salt
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

Cook the rice according to the package directions and keep warm.
Position a rack 4 inches from the broiler and heat the broiler on high.
In a small bowl. stir the miso, soy sauce and rice vinegar together until blended. Put the salmon fillets skin side down on a foil-lined baking sheet. Pat the salmon dry and broil for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and spread the miso mixture over the top of the fillets. Broil until the salmon is just barely opaque in the center, about 2 to 3 minutes more.
Meanwhile, pour 2 1/4 cups of boiling water over the tea leaves and 3/4 teaspoon salt, and let steep for 1 minute. Mix green onions and sesame seeds into the rice and divide among four shallow bowls. Pour the tea through a strainer around each mound of rice, with a spatula, lift the salmon from the baking sheet (leaving the skin behind if desired), and place on top of the rice.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Fine Cooking
www.finecooking.com/recipes/miso-glazed-salmon-green-tea-rice.aspx

GINGER POACHED SALMON WITH ORANGE AND HONEY


1 orange, zested and juiced
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
2 teaspoons finely chopped pickled ginger
2 tablespoons honey
4 salmon fillets
1 to 2 tablespoons butter

Combine orange zest, juice, chicken broth, grated ginger, pickled ginger and honey, add to a skillet  and bring just to a boil, over medium high heat, stirring occasionally.
Reduce heat to medium low and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
Add salmon, cover and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, carefully turn fish over and cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until fish is cooked through.
Transfer salmon to a plate and cover loosely to keep warm. Increase heat to medium high and cook sauce in the skillet just until it comes to a boil. Whisk in butter, stirring until sauce is slightly thickened. Divide fillets among individual plates, spoon warm sauce over and serve immediately.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, October 2007
www.arkansas.com/dining/recipes/

Friday, April 26, 2013

CHAMCELLO

My husband was out late earlier this week, he had a rezoning meeting and a committee meeting following his regular work day. I had just brushed my teeth and climbed into bed with my book when he walked through the door, but we hadn't had a chance to connect all day, so I threw on a dressing gown and met him in the kitchen for a cocktail and a catch up.
I was in the mood for something with a shot of chambord, and looking up recipes super quick, I came across a variation of this Chamcello. We didn't have the exact ingredients called for, but we had some fun substitutions - I thought the lemony flavor of the limoncello would complement the raspberry flavored chambord.

CHAMCELLO


1 ounce chambord
1 ounce limoncello
1 ounce cranberry juice

shake all ingredients together over ice, pour into a martini glass.
Enjoy!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

ANZAC BISCUITS

ANZAC BISCUITS


While talking with Mum on the phone, she reminded me ANZAC day was today in New Zealand.
This day "marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australia and New Zealand forces during the First World War. ANZAC stands for Australia New Zealand Army Corp" (http://www.awm.gov.au/commemoration/anzac/anzac_tradition.asp) whose soldiers were known as ANZACS.
When I first moved overseas, I would make these biscuits (cookies) a lot - but it has been a while since I have indulged.
My daughter was excited to help me mix up the dough. I had made notes years ago in my Edmonds Cookbook, but I didn't understand my instructions, so I put in more butter than I should have, resulting in a lovely tasting, but very flat biscuit.

100 grams of butter (as the recipe states)
1 tablespoon golden syrup
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup coconut
3/4 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon hot water

Melt butter and syrup together in a large saucepan. Cool. Mix sugar, coconut, rolled oats and flour together. Stir into saucepan. Dissolve soda in water and mix in. Place rounded teaspoonfuls on a greased oven tray. Bake at 180C/350F for 10 to 15 minutes, or until golden.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from The Edmonds Cookery Book, 1992
www.edmondscooking.co.nz/

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

BRUSSELS SPROUTS WITH BAGUETTE BREAD CRUMBS

This was a lazy Sunday evening dish, thrown together with what was in the refrigerator. After a busy weekend following multiple recipes, it was lovely to leisurely search through my (large) pile of prospects and find one that was appealing, with all the ingredients close at hand.

BRUSSELS SPROUTS WITH BAGUETTE BREAD CRUMBS


6 slices proscuitto
1 cup fresh French Baguette breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/4 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved lengthwise
1/4 teaspoon salt

In a large skillet, cook proscuitto over medium heat until crisp, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels, cool.
Return pan to stove and add bread crumbs. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until toasted, about 3 minutes. Add 1/4 teaspoon pepper and transfer to a plate.
Wipe out skillet and add butter. When melted, add Brussels sprouts, cut sides down. Add 1/4 cup water, cover and cook over medium-low heat until just tender, about 4 minutes. Uncover and cook over medium-high heat until liquid has evaporated and Brussels sprouts are browned, about 3 minutes more. Season with salt and remaining pepper. Toss with proscuitto and toasted bread crumbs and serve.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Oprah Magazine, February 2013
www.oprah.com/.../Brussels-Sprouts-with-Brioche-Bread-Crumbs-Re...

Monday, April 22, 2013

ORANGE HUMMUS

I really like this hummus recipe because it is very flavorful but low calorie. Unusually, it doesn't include olive oil - which, even though a healthy fat, tends to add a lot of calories. The creaminess comes from orange juice, cider vinegar and, in an interesting twist, a little soy sauce. The perfect amount of moisture to bring all of the delicious ingredients together.
My husband and I were going to a wine tasting dinner with a group of neighbors, and sometimes we like to have a light nibble before a night out. I made a batch of this wonderful Orange Hummus in 10 minutes, and it didn't take us much longer to enjoy every last bite.

ORANGE HUMMUS


1 (15 ounce) can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained

heaped 1/4 teaspoon each
ground cumin
ground coriander
ground ginger
dry mustard
turmeric
paprika

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons orange juice
3 tablespoons tahini
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
cayenne pepper to taste

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and puree until smooth. Transfer to a bowl , cover tightly and chill.
Serve with toasted pita bread and raw vegetables.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from the Enchanted Broccoli Forest, Mollie Katzen, 1995

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

SPICED CHICKPEAS WITH YOGURT AND CRUNCHY PITA and TANGY CHICKPEA AND BULGUR SOUP

I love, love, love to read, and can be found with some kind of written material every spare moment I have.
"Jasmine and Fire" is a fascinating and delicious book about the authors year in Lebanon - her attempt to discover where she felt most at home and had the fullest sense of belonging, frequently through the lens of food - which I strongly relate to. After finishing this book, I also have a deep desire to visit Lebanon and eat my way around the country.
Salma mentioned a longing for both places in her life, America and Lebanon, and that she felt a "need to find a way to bring together the places and people that give my life meaning".
I have often thought the most perfect scenario would be to pull my two countries, New Zealand and America, closer together, perhaps even join them with a bridge.
I acutely miss my distant family and friends during the big events such as Christmas or birthdays, and I also miss sharing the ordinary activities, calling in for a cup of coffee or gathering for a casual Sunday dinner. It has been even harder since having kids, but I definitely have an amazing life, and attempt to focus on the positive. I'm very thankful that while I live here in Northwest Arkansas - it is an incredible town with awe inspiring people and a fabulous sense of community, we are able to spend time in New Zealand, and I love and appreciate that my children have a foot in two cultures.

TISS'YE
(SPICED CHICKPEAS WITH YOGURT AND CRUNCHY PITA)


3 1/2 cups boiled chickpeas (canned is fine, rinsed and drained)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 cups plain yogurt
1 tablespoon tahini
2 pita breads
1/2 cup vegetable oil for frying (optional)
1 teaspoon cumin
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup pine nuts
pinch of paprika

In a pot, heat the chickpeas in water (to cover) over medium heat, then lower heat to a simmer.
Meanwhile, mix garlic with 1 teaspoon salt in a bowl, then gradually drizzle in the lemon juice and keep mixing until you have a creamy paste. Stir mixture into yogurt, mix in the tahini, and set aside.
Tear the pita into pieces, heat the oil and fry or toast in the oven.
Drain chickpeas, place them in a bowl, and sprinkle with cumin and salt to taste.
A few minutes before you are ready to serve the dish, heat butter over medium heat and saute pine nuts until browned, being careful not to blacken them.
In a deep sided serving dish, place one layer of the bread pieces, followed by a layer of the chickpeas, and alternate layers until you run out of ingredients. Ladle the yogurt over the top. Sprinkle the pinenuts in their butter over top and add a pinch of paprika.
Serve immediately.
Enjoy!


ZINGOL
(TANGY CHICKPEA AND BULGUR SOUP)


1 cup flour
1 cup coarse bulgur
2 small onions, minced and divided
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 teaspoon dried mint
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup chickpeas (I used canned)
juice of one lemon plus lemon quarters for serving
1/2 teaspoon sumac (I substituted paprika)

Combine flour, bulgur, 1 minced onion, marjoram, mint, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 cup water in a mixing bowl until well blended (I had to add more water). Using palms, form mixture into small balls the size of grapes.
In a saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and sauté the remaining onion until soft and translucent, then add the garlic. After 1 minute, add the chickpeas, then the bulgur balls. Add water to cover, and let boil until broth thickens.
If some of the balls dissolve, that's fine, it will give the soup a more porridge-like texture. Stir in the lemon juice, season with additional salt to taste, and sprinkle with sumac (or paprika).
Serve with lemon quarters on the side.
Enjoy!

Recipes adapted from Jasmine and Fire, Salma Abdelnour, 2012

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

ARTICHOKE SPREAD

There is something truly marvelous about a Friday afternoon, when it is pleasant enough to be outside, but not yet too hot, the entire weekend ahead to be enjoyed. Gathering together friends for a quick catch up and a glass of wine before dispersing to the various activities the evening has to offer.
Even though there is currently not a Friday in sight, I just finished up this flavorful artichoke spread, left over from the last happy hour, recalling memories of the relaxing wonderful time, and the excellent start to a busy, fun weekend.

ARTICHOKE SPREAD


1 bulb garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 14 ounce can of artichoke hearts
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped
roasted carrots and bread to serve

To roast garlic, heat oven to 350F. Trim off the top of the garlic bulb to expose the cloves. Peel away the excess skin from the sides of the bulb. Place the garlic bulb in a shallow baking pan and lightly drizzle the top of it with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes until cloves are soft and lightly brown on top. Squeeze the cloves to remove the soft garlic from the bulb.
Place the garlic, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, artichoke hearts, parsley, oregano, salt and pepper in a food processor. Process until smooth. Re-season to taste.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Shape, April 2004
www.shape.com/healthy-eating/healthy-recipes

Monday, April 15, 2013

CREAMY DILL CUCUMBER SALAD and CHEESE POTATOES and PORK SHOULDER WITH ITALIAN DRESSING and STRAWBERRY LIMEADE MUFFINS

Often after a weekend of cooking and entertaining, there are ingredients left over from the recipes I prepared. I recently spent almost a week finding creative ways to use up the excess found in the refrigerator and pantry - always a fun challenge, and as interesting as coming up with a menu for a dinner party, lunch with friends or after school gathering.

CREAMY DILL CUCUMBER SALAD


2 cucumbers
1 cup thinly sliced sweet onion
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1 1/3 cups dill pickles, quartered and sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons pickling brine
1/3 cup sour cream
black pepper

Using a vegetable peeler, peel cucumbers lengthwise so they look striped. Quarter cucumbers lengthwise and slice into 1/2 inch pieces.
Mix cucumbers with onions and salt. Transfer to a colander set over a bowl, to drain. Set aside for 30 minutes. Pat dry.
In a bowl, combine cucumbers and onions with pickles and dill. Mix in brine and sour cream. Season with salt and pepper.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from The Wall Street Journal, July 2012
online.wsj.com/public/page/magazine-food.html

CHEESE POTATOES


2 1/2 to 3 pounds of potatoes
1/2 cup butter
1 cup flour
1 cup parmesan cheese
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Peel and cut potatoes into 1 inch chunks. Place in a large bowl and cover with water, refrigerate until cold.
Melt butter in a 9 by 13 baking dish. Place flour, cheese, salt and pepper in a plastic bag and shake to mix.
Once potatoes are coated in cheese mixture, place them in the buttered dish. Cook 45 minutes to 1 hour in a 375F oven, or until potatoes are tender, stirring once during cooking.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, July 2003
www.arkansasonline.com/news/features/food/

PORK SHOULDER WITH ITALIAN DRESSING



4 to 5 pound pork shoulder
16 ounce bottle of Italian dressing

Put pork and Italian dressing in the crock-pot. Cook on high for 8 hours.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Jewels in the Kitchen, December 2008
http://jewelsinthekitchen.blogspot.com/2008/12/pork-roast-with-italian-dressing.html

STRAWBERRY LIMEADE MUFFINS

 
2 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
1 cup greek yogurt
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 tablespoon lime zest
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 to 2 cups diced fresh strawberries

Heat oven to 400F.
Combine flour and 1 cup sugar in a large bowl, make a well in center of mixture.
Stir together yogurt, butter, lime zest, juice and eggs. Gently fold strawberries into batter. Spoon batter into lightly greased 12 cup muffin pans, filling 3/4 full. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup sugar.
Bake for 16 to 18 minutes, or until golden brown and a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on a wire rack 1 minute, remove from pans to wire rack and cool 10 minutes.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Southern Living, April 2012
www.southernliving.com › Food › Recipes

Thursday, April 11, 2013

ORANGE MIMOSA and COCONUT FLAN

This was the beginning and the end of our Easter feast.
With not having family in town, it was wonderful to have dear friends close with which to share the holiday. It was a joy to host a celebration for the entire clan - dogs included - although they didn't eat nearly as well as we did.

ORANGE MIMOSA


Place a sugar cube in the bottom of each glass, drizzle with a few drops of orange bitters. Top with
1 1/2 ounces of cognac, then sparkling wine.
Enjoy!

COCONUT FLAN


1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons dark rum
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 eggs
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (14 ounce) can light coconut milk

Heat oven to 350F.
Combine sugar and water in a small heavy saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves, stirring frequently. Continue cooking 3 minutes or until golden, stirring constantly (it took me a lot longer to get the golden color). Immediately pour into 8 custard cups coated with cooking spray, tipping quickly until caramelized sugar coats bottom of cups. Cool completely.
Combine rum, vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, eggs, condensed milk and coconut milk, stirring with a whisk until well blended. Divide the egg mixture evenly among prepared custard cups  (about 1/2 cup each).
Place cups in a 13 by 9 inch baking pan, add hot water to pan to a depth of 1 inch. Bake for 30 minutes or until center barely moves when custard cup is touched. Cool completely in the water bath. Remove cups from pan, cover and chill at least 4 hours or overnight.
Loosen edges of custards with a knife, place a plate upside down on top of each cup, and invert onto plates. Drizzle any of the remaining caramelized syrup over custards.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light, May 2003
www.cookinglight.com/food/recipe-finder/

Sunday, April 7, 2013

CUCUMBER LEMONADE CHILLER and SPRING SALAD WITH LIME VINAIGRETTE and WHITE PEACH CRISP

We were really looking forward to having some of the most fabulous people we know for dinner. What started out as a small gathering, grew to 12 adults and 14 children.
We started the evening outside on the deck, with a cocktail, and radishes sliced in half, spread with goat milk butter and sprinkled with sea salt. We then moved inside to dine on braised ox-tail, roasted vegetables and pork shoulder my husband had slow cooked in hoisin sauce and red apple ale. I rounded out the meal with a spring salad lightly dressed with a tangy lime vinaigrette and a simple white peach crisp served with whipped cream and coffee.
It was a delightful spring menu for an incredible evening, joyfully served to wonderful friends.

CUCUMBER LEMONADE CHILLER


3 cucumbers
1 tablespoon of fresh rosemary, chopped
2 cups gin
1/2 cup lemon juice
3 tablespoons of agave nectar

Peel and chop the cucumbers, transfer to a food processor. Add rosemary and puree.
Pour the puree through a fine-mesh strainer set over a large measuring cup. Press on the solids to extract all the juice. Add gin, lemon juice, and agave nectar to the cucumber juice, stir until the agave is dissolved. Divide among ice filled glasses and garnish with rosemary sprigs.
Enjoy!

SPRING SALAD WITH LIME VINAIGRETTE


FOR THE SALAD
1 green apple, cored and diced
grated zest of 2 limes
juice of 2 limes
3/4 cup artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
5 green onions, chopped
1 cucumber, peeled and seeded, diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
4 tablespoons parsley, chopped
1 cup seedless green grapes, sliced in half lengthwise
butter lettuce
1 avocado, peeled and diced
FOR THE LIME VINAIGRETTE
1/4 lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon horseradish
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon green onions, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste

FOR THE SALAD
In a small bowl, coat the apple with the lime juice and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine the lime zest, artichoke hearts, green onions, cucumber, celery, parsley, and grapes. Separate the leaves of the lettuce, and place one on each plate. Top with the vegetables, and arrange avocado on top.
FOR THE LIME VINAIGRETTE
Combine all ingredients and mix well. Drizzle over top of salads.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, June 2005
www.arkansasonline.com/news/features/food/

WHITE PEACH CRISP


STREUSEL
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, diced
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup sugar
PEACHES
1 1/2 pounds ripe white peaches, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon sugar

STREUSEL
Heat oven to 325F.
In a food processor, pulse together flour, butter, almonds and sugar until crumbly. Spread mixture on a cookie sheet. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Cool on sheet, then crumble into pieces.
PEACHES
In a medium saucepan, combine peaches, honey, lemon juice, and sugar. Cook over medium heat, stirring until peaches are tender and juices thicken slightly (I ended up adding a little cornstarch to thicken). Remove from the heat and cool.
Spoon 1/3 cup peach mixture onto each serving dish. Sprinkle each serving with streusel. Serve with vanilla ice-cream or whipped cream.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Oprah Magazine, July 2004
www.oprah.com/food.html

Saturday, April 6, 2013

GARLIC CHEESE GRITS and EASTER VIGIL COFFEE CAKE

I find it very difficult to resist a new recipe and when the call went out in church for cooks to contribute to the Easter Vigil breakfast - with recipe and pan provided - I knew that was a volunteer opportunity for me.
Even though these were both delicious for the holiday, the grits and coffee cake would be perfect for any celebration - from Saturday morning spent at home with family (which feels like something to celebrate and be thankful for in this busy life) to a festival with friends.

GARLIC CHEESE GRITS


8 cups water
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups uncooked quick grits (not instant)
2 (12 ounce) blocks of Mexican Velveeta cheese, cubed
1/2 cup butter, cubed
1/4 teaspoon red pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced

Bring water and salt to boil in a large saucepan.
Gradually stir in the grits and bring to a second boil, reduce heat and cook over medium heat for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring often.
Add the cubed Velveeta, butter, red pepper, and minced garlic to grits, stirring until melted and blended.
Pour grits into a 9 by 13 pan and bake for 30 minutes at 350F or until set and brown at the edges.
Enjoy!

EASTER VIGIL COFFEE CAKE


1 package yellow cake mix
2 (3 ounce) boxes of instant vanilla pudding
3/4 cup corn oil
3/4 cup water
4 eggs
1/2 teaspoon butter flavoring
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup toasted chopped pecans
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup granulated sugar
TOPPING
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
milk, as needed

Heat oven to 350F.
In a large bowl, combine cake mix, pudding, oil, water, eggs and flavorings. Beat with an electric mixer for about 8 minutes.
Combine cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl, set aside.
In a buttered 9 by 13 baking pan, spread chopped pecans over bottom. Pour half the batter over the pecans and sprinkle with cinnamon/sugar mixture.
Pour remaining batter and spread evenly.
Bake for 35 minutes, or until done.
Combine powdered sugar, vanilla and enough milk to make a runny mixture. Drizzle topping over coffee cake.
Enjoy!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

GREEK SALAD WITH AVOCADO, SHRIMP AND CAPER VINAIGRETTE and HELLO DOLLY BARS

The kids were out of school Friday, for Parent-Teacher conferences. Thankfully there were no surprises to be had during the meetings, and we feel very fortunate to have incredible teachers, who work extremely hard, and want the very best for their students.
With the day ahead of us, and the kids having earned some fun, we invited friends over for lunch and play. It was fruit, sandwiches and chips for the kids and a Greek salad for the adults - however we were all able to come together over dessert, and agree it was a scrumptious success for all ages.

GREEK SALAD WITH AVOCADO, SHRIMP AND CAPER VINAIGRETTE


VINAIGRETTE
1/4 cup olive oil
1 4 ounce jar of capers with liquid
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
3 hard boiled eggs, white part only, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped roasted red peppers from a jar
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
SALAD
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 to 3 avocados, halved, pitted, peeled and diced
3 cups of shredded hearts of romaine lettuce
1 1/2 cups feta cheese
1 1/2 cups cooked shrimp

VINAIGRETTE
Whisk all ingredients in medium bowl to blend. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
SALAD
Combine all ingredients in large bowl. Add vinaigrette to salad and toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit
www.bonappetit.com/recipes

HELLO DOLLY BARS


2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup melted butter
3 tablespoons sugar
2 cup chopped pecans
1 cup chocolate morsels
2/3 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1 (14 ounce) can of sweetened condensed milk

Heat oven to 350F.
Combine graham cracker crumbs, melted butter and sugar in a medium bowl. Press mixture onto bottom of a lightly greased 13 by 9 inch pan. Bake for 8 minutes. Sprinkle pecans, chocolate morsels, and coconut over hot crust. Pour condensed milk over top.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned and edges are bubbly. Let cool for 1 hour on a wire rack. Cut into bars.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Southern Living, April 2001
www.southernliving.com/food/kitchen-assistant/

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

SMOKED TROUT HORSERADISH DIP and OATCAKES and EDAMAME BRUSCHETTA and CREAMY LEMON NUT BARS

We just had what I call a wild and wonderful weekend of entertaining - we had friends over 4 days in a row - lots of fun cooking, excellent company and great conversation.
The fabulous ladies from book club helped get the festivities started. We met on Thursday night, and chatted, divulged, expressed, articulated, gabbed, shared, laughed long and laughed hard and even managed to talk about the book for about 3 minutes. It is an incredible group, and I very much look forward to our gatherings every month. My intention was to keep the menu light and fresh, with an eye to spring.

SMOKED TROUT HORSERADISH DIP


11.25 ounces of smoked trout
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream (I used reduced fat mayo and sour cream with good results)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons horseradish, or to taste

Discard skin and any bones from trout. Stir mayonnaise, sour cream, dill and horseradish together. Gently mix in trout and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with bread.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from epicurious
www.epicurious.com › recipes & menus

 OATCAKES


110 grams of rolled oats
3/4 cup wholemeal flour
1/2 cup self-rising flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
110 grams of butter, chopped
1 large egg, beaten

Heat oven to 190 C.
Process oats to a fine but still grainy consistency. Mix with flours, brown sugar and salt. Rub in butter until mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
Lightly mix in egg and turn on to a surface dusted with flour. Knead briefly and shape into a ball. Roll out to 5mm thick and cut into rounds. Bake on trays 20 minutes. Cool.
Serve with assorted cheeses.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from New Zealand House and Garden
www.nzhouseandgarden.co.nz/entertaining.asp

EDAMAME BRUSCHETTA


Cut a baguette into slices, toast. In a food processor, blend 12 tablespoons of shelled edamame, 8 tablespoons of grated parmesan, 8 basil leaves, 2 tablespoons of water, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 teaspoons of sherry vinegar, until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Top each with chopped red bell pepper, and basil leaves.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Self Magazine
www.self.com/fooddiet/recipes

CREAMY LEMON NUT BARS


1/2 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 3/4 cups flour, divided
1/3 cup pecans, chopped
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
powdered sugar

Heat oven to 350F.
Line a 13 by 9 inch baking pan with foil, spray with cooking spray.
Mix butter, powdered sugar and vanilla in a large bowl. Gradually stir in 1 1/2 cups of the flour and pecans. Press dough firmly on bottom of prepared pan. Bake 15 minutes.
Beat cream cheese and sugar in medium bowl with electric mixer on high speed until well blended. Add remaining 1/4 cup flour and eggs, beat until blended.
Stir in lemon juice and peel. Pour over baked crust in pan. Bake 30 minutes or until set. Remove from oven, cool completely. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and cut into bars.
Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

FUDGE PIE

My daughter had been asking for chocolate pie, and had picked out these adorable mini tart shells at the supermarket. After looking through many recipes, I chose this super easy one (the original didn't call for a crust and baked in one 9 inch pie plate).
We had family movie night, and all went to see Life of Pi - I had read the book in book club and was looking forward to viewing it on the big screen. It definitely generated a lot of great discussion, both in the car and once we were home and sitting around the table eating our delicious dessert - a wonderful evening of Pi and pie.

FUDGE PIE


mini Graham cracker tart shells
2 ounces chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350F.
Melt chocolate and butter together, either on the stove top or in the microwave, stirring frequently, until mixture is smooth. Let cool slightly, about 2 minutes.
Whisk in sugar, flour, eggs and vanilla. Whisking until well combined. Pour into tart shells.
Bake about 20 minutes or until a pick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, March 2012
www.arkansasonline.com/news/features/food/

Monday, April 1, 2013

MASHED POTATO CHOCOLATE CAKE

While looking into the history of April Fools Day, I learned that pranks should not be pulled after 12 noon on the 1st, or it will bring bad luck to the perpetrator. I had never heard that before, nor that the day supposedly began in the 1500's when the Gregorian calendar came into use. Previously New Years was celebrated on April 1st, and people who ventured to celebrate on the wrong date were teased as "April Fools" (snopes.com http://www.snopes.com/holidays/aprilfools/origins.asp).
Thankfully I pulled my prank early in the day, with this chocolate cake that includes mashed potatoes. I didn't tell the kids what was in their treat until afterwards, for fear they wouldn't try it. There weren't any complaints though, and they all cleaned their plates, so the cake must have tasted like dessert and not dinner. 

MASHED POTATO CHOCOLATE CAKE


2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 ounces chocolate, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup prepared instant mashed potatoes
3/4 cup buttermilk
confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Heat oven to 375F.
Grease and flour a 9 by 13 baking dish, set aside.
Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt, set aside.
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Stir in melted chocolate, vanilla and mashed potato. Beat in flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, mixing just until incorporated.
Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely. Dust with confectioners' sugar before serving.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, April 2009
www.arkansasonline.com/news/features/food/