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Thursday, May 30, 2013

ROASTED ORANGE GINGER ASPARAGUS

I didn't realize how much I appreciated our busy, but manageable, not too crazy life. Lots of activities, but sufficient time protected and set aside to spend together as a couple and a family.
However, our carefully planned schedule went awry - we endured a week with an event every night, then a trip out of town for me followed by my husband leaving to attend a seminar in another city the day after I returned. Needless to say, we were left feeling a little disconnected and out of touch - with our routine, children, and each other.
Although the addition of Cheer practice to our lives, thanks to my daughters recent interest, has caused us to have to change and juggle a few things, it has been wonderful to return to our regular rhythm once again. Which of course will all change again in a day when the kids are out of school.
While my husband was out of town, I dug to see what he had filled the refrigerator and pantry with while I was gone. Finding a large bunch of asparagus, and having all the ingredients for this wonderful summer recipe, enabled me to make the perfect dinner.

ROASTED ORANGE GINGER ASPARAGUS


2 pounds of fresh asparagus
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Heat oven to 400F.
Snap off and discard the tough ends of the asparagus. Place asparagus on a lightly greased baking sheet. Whisk together orange juice, olive oil, ginger, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper. Drizzle mixture over asparagus, tossing to coat.
Bake for 15 minutes, or to desired degree of tenderness, turning once after 8 minutes.
Enjoy!

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

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

BREAD AND TOMATO SALAD

Nothing says hot, sticky summer days like a perfectly ripe, juicy tomato - mixed with a little aromatic basil, it is a simple, heady combination.
I adore panzanella salads and this effortless and delicious recipe is no exception. It is quick to put together and needs to be made ahead of time - making it perfect for relaxed, serene summer entertaining.

BREAD AND TOMATO SALAD


4 tomatoes, cut into cubes
1/2 pound artisan bread, stale, crusts removed and cubed
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil
1 bunch fresh basil, stems removed, leaves torn into pieces
salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes and bread.
In a small bowl, whisk together the garlic, vinegar and oil. Pour the dressing over the bread salad and let sit for 30 minutes at room temperature.
Add the basil and salt and pepper to taste, and toss to combine.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from the Food Network
www.foodnetwork.com › Recipes › Holidays and Parties‎

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

CREOLE OLD FASHIONED

I recently sorted through and cleaned out my recipe box. I had accumulated so many, that it was taking me a ridiculous amount of time to search through them all when I was looking for something to cook.
Like clothing, food is seasonal, and there are certain items for special occasions - so I separated my collection into winter and summer and then further divided the recipes into categories such as St Valentines day, Halloween and Easter.
Since I was looking at so many fabulous sounding food and beverage combinations, I thought I would mix up a little something fun, and of course, seasonally appropriate.

CREOLE OLD FASHIONED


Fill a glass with ice. In a cocktail shaker, stir together 1 ounce cognac, 1 ounce dark rum, 1 to 2 teaspoons of agave nectar, and a dash each of Angostura bitters and orange bitters.
Pour the mixture into the prepared glass and serve.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Food and Wine, July 2012
www.foodandwine.com/‎

Monday, May 27, 2013

TOFFEE ALMOND BLONDIES

I love our Memorial Day weekend camping trip, spent with a fun and fearless group.
When Joe was in pre-school, friends asked us to camp with them over the long weekend, a tradition of theirs before they moved to town, and we look forward to it every year.
This is one of the desserts we enjoyed - a sweet ending to another great time with family and friends.

TOFFEE ALMOND BLONDIES


1/2 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1 package chocolate chip cookie mix
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 package milk toffee bits
3/4 cup toasted slivered almonds

Heat oven to 350F.
Stir together butter and egg in a large bowl. Stir in cookie mix and vanilla until a soft dough forms.
Stir in toffee bits and almonds until well blended. Press mixture into a lightly greased 13 by 9 inch pan.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden and a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
Cool in pan on a wire rack, and cut into bars.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Southern Living, August 2006
www.southernliving.com/food/‎

Thursday, May 23, 2013

LAMB MINT AND FETA MEATBALLS and CORNMEAL ROSEMARY CAKE WITH PINE NUTS AND ORANGE GLAZE

One of my very favorite events during Teacher Appreciation week, is the luncheon. I absolutely love to organize it, and the parents at the school really make an incredible effort - we want to make our teachers feel special and appreciated by providing a spectacular spread that can be leisurely (that's the idea anyway) enjoyed! This year it was held at a beautiful historic home, nestled among peaceful, seemingly endless gardens - it was a beautiful, warm day, and the tables were set up out on the gorgeous porch. We settled upon a Mediterranean theme, and, as always, the parents were excited and able to provide many fabulous dishes.
 
LAMB MINT AND FETA MEATBALLS



1 slice of white bread
1/2 pound of ground lamb
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 1/2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh mint, plus extra for serving
1 tablespoon grated feta cheese
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup flour

Remove the bread crusts. Put the bread slices in a small bowl and add enough water to soak the bread through (about 1/4 cup). With your hands, squeeze the water out of the bread and tear it into small pieces into a medium bowl. Add the lamb, onion, egg, mint, cheese, garlic, oregano, cinnamon, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper to the bread and mix thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight (I was running behind, so mine were in the refrigerator for about an hour).
With the palms of your hands, roll the meat mixture into 1-inch balls. Put the flour into a bowl, and dredge the meatballs through the flour, until well covered. Transfer to a baking sheet, shaking off excess flour.
Heat the oven to 400F.
Bake the meatballs for 20 minutes, or until cooked all the way through (the recipe called for frying them - which I know would have been delicious - I was trying to be a little healthier).
Arrange the meatballs on a platter, sprinkle with mint and serve warm.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Fine Cooking
http://www.finecooking.com/recipes/mini-crisp-lamb-meatballs.aspx

CORNMEAL ROSEMARY CAKE WITH PINE NUTS AND ORANGE GLAZE


Note: this cake is apparently fabulous any time of day - I ate mine for breakfast the day after the luncheon, served with Greek Yogurt and fresh berries - divine!!

FOR THE CAKE
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1/3 cup coarsely chopped toasted pine nuts
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup mascarpone, at room temperature
4 eggs
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
FOR THE ORANGE SYRUP
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
3 tablespoons sugar
FOR THE ORANGE GLAZE
1 tablespoon whole fresh rosemary leaves (stripped from the stem but not chopped)
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
5 tablespoons cream
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon grated orange zest

MAKE THE CAKE
Heat oven to 350F. Butter a 9X2 inch round cake pan, line the bottom with a round of parchment, and butter the parchment.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, pine nuts, rosemary, orange zest, baking powder, and salt.
In a large bowl, briefly whisk the mascarpone to loosen it. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking to combine. Add the sugar and whisk until smooth. Using a rubber spatula, fold the dry ingredients, in two batches, into the wet ingredients, mixing until smooth. Stir in the melted butter with the rubber spatula until blended.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, spread evenly, and bake until the entire top of the cake is a rich golden brown and springs back when pressed gently in the center, 40 to 45 minutes. A skewer inserted into the middle of the cake should come out looking a bit moist, and the sides of the cake may have begun to pull away from the pan.
MAKE THE ORANGE SYRUP
While cake is baking, combine the orange juice and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat.
Let the cake cool in its pan on a rack for 5 minutes. Run a small knife around the cake. Set an inverted plate over the cake pan and tip upside down. The cake should slide right out onto the plate.
Peel off the parchment, and place the cake right side up on serving plate.
With a wooden skewer, poke a few dozen holes all over the top of the cake. While the cake is still warm, brush the cake with the warm orange syrup. Continue brushing for several minutes, giving the syrup time to sink into the cake, until you've used all the syrup. Let the cake cool completely.
MAKE THE ORANGE GLAZE
Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Have ready a small bowl of ice water. Put the rosemary leaves in a small sieve and dip into the boiling water to blanch them for 1 minute. Drain the rosemary leaves and immediately set them (still in the sieve) into the ice water. Drain and spread the rosemary leaves on a paper towel to dry (personally I think you can skip this step - I don't think the rosemary leaves added anything to the cake). In a bowl, whisk the confectioners sugar, cream, and orange juice until smooth and then whisk in the blanched rosemary (if using) and the zest.
When the cake is cool, pour the glaze over the top of the cake. Let sit for an hour before cutting the cake, the glaze may or may not become firm, depending on the weather.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Fine Cooking
www.finecooking.com/.../cornmeal-rosemary-cake-pine-nuts-orange-gla...‎

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

CRAWFISH DIP and SAUCY CRAWFISH WITH WHOLE CORN GRITS

We were fortunate to be invited to two crawfish boils this past weekend and definitely relished the fresh, delicious crustaceans superbly seasoned and tipped out on newspaper covered tables with corn on the cob, whole heads of garlic, potatoes and artichokes.
Crawfish season is usually from March until June, when they can be enjoyed at their plumpest, with their relatively soft shells making them easier to peel. Although this celebrated season is coming to an end, the frozen meat is easy to find year round in the freezer section of the store, making it easy to indulge in these recipes any time.

CRAWFISH DIP


1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup green onions, sliced
1 red pepper, diced
1 (1 pound) package frozen, cooked, peeled crawfish tails, thawed and undrained
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (4 ounce) jar diced pimiento, drained
2 teaspoons creole seasoning
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
baguette slices, to serve

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat, add green onions and bell pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 8 minutes or until bell pepper is tender. Stir in crawfish and next 3 ingredients, cook, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Stir in cream cheese until mixture is smooth and bubbly. Serve with toasted baguette slices.
Enjoy!

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

SAUCY CRAWFISH WITH WHOLE CORN GRITS


GRITS
3 1/2 cups milk, divided
1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels
1 chipotle chile, canned in adobo sauce
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup uncooked grits
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
3 tablespoons sour cream (can use light)
CRAWFISH
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 cup chopped andouille sausage
2/3 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 tablespoon garlic
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons tomato paste
8 ounces of cooked crawfish tail meat (about 1 2/3 cups)
1 cup milk
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives, divided

To prepare grits, combine 1/2 cup milk, corn and chipotle chile in a blender. process until the corn is coarsely chopped.
Combine remaining 3 cups milk, 1 1/2 cups water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan, bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Gradually add grits, stirring with a whisk. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 11 minutes or until thick, stirring frequently.
Remove from heat, add cheese and 3 tablespoons of sour cream, stirring until cheese melts. Keep warm.
To prepare crawfish, place flour in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, cook 4 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring frequently. Remove flour from pan, set aside, wipe pan clean.
Return pan to medium heat. Add oil and sausage to pan, cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add onion, bell pepper, garlic thyme, and 1/4 teaspoon salt, cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add reserved flour, tomato paste, and crawfish, cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Stir in 1/4 cup sour cream. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon chives over crawfish mixture. Stir 3 tablespoons chives into grits, serve with crawfish mixture
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light, August 2012
www.cookinglight.com/food/recipe-finder/‎

Monday, May 20, 2013

GARBANZO BEAN AND BACON DIP WITH ROSEMARY PITA CHIPS and GRAPE LEAVES WITH BEEF AND GOAT CHEESE

After our new neighbors moved in, it took us a while to meet the sweet and fabulous family - and we were so glad we did.
Rolf and Jesse became work out partners - heading to the gym most mornings, the talented couple turned a  ramshackle property into an absolutely beautiful home, they gave us wonderful suggestions and advice when we took a recent trip to Asheville, North Carolina, we got to try Wisconsin treats such as cheese curds and Garretts Popcorn and it was always such a pleasure to see them around the neighborhood.
They insisted on hosting their own farewell party when they moved back to Wisconsin, something to do with an immovable vat of beer, but they did welcome appetizers. The Bean and Bacon Dip initially called for white beans, but since I was making Dolmas, I decided to go for more of a Mediterranean theme and substitute garbanzo beans.
Although we miss our friends, I don't miss the moaning and inertia from my husband after he returned from a particularly grueling exercise session.

GARBANZO BEAN AND BACON DIP WITH ROSEMARY PITA CHIPS


CHIPS
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed rosemary
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 pita breads, cut into wedges
DIP
4 bacon slices, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup chicken broth
1 (15 ounce) can of garbanzo beans, drained
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon paprika

Heat oven to 350F.
To prepare chips, combine dried rosemary, salt, garlic powder and black pepper. Arrange pita wedges in a single layer on a baking sheet. Lightly coated with cooking spray and sprinkle evenly with rosemary mixture. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden.
To prepare dip, cook bacon in a small pan over medium heat until crisp. Remove and set aside. Add garlic to the pan, cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add broth and beans, bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes.
Combine bean mixture, green onions, lemon juice, hot sauce, salt and paprika in a food processor, and process until smooth. Spoon mixture into a bowl, stir in bacon.
Serve with pita chips.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light, May 2003
www.cookinglight.com/‎

GRAPE LEAVES WITH BEEF AND GOAT CHEESE


1/4 pound lean ground beef
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 ounces goat cheese
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
grape leaves

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add beef and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, until no longer pink. Set aside.
Heat grill to high. In a large bowl, combine 2 tablespoons olive oil, beef, goat cheese, thyme, basil, rosemary, parsley, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
Place a grape leaf on a work surface. Scoop a spoonful of goat cheese mixture into the center. Fold the sides over the filling, starting from the end closest to you, gently roll up into a packet. Brush with olive oil and set aside. Continue with remaining leaves and filling.
Place packets seam side down onto the hot grill and cook for 1 minute, turn and cook for another minute, or until cheese is soft.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Shape, July 2012
www.shape.com/healthy-eating/healthy-recipes

Sunday, May 19, 2013

BAKED CHICKEN NUGGETS WITH TANGY BAR-B-QUE SAUCE and VANILLA CUPCAKES WITH CREAM CHEESE FROSTING and CARAMEL FROSTING

I met my incredible husband fourteen years ago today - and we recently celebrated 12 wonderful years of marriage. Three children, one new business and lots of travel later, I still always look forward to seeing him at the end of the day, and spending time together.
The traditional gift of linen was represented by the napkins at one of our favorite local establishments, which also happens to be the restaurant where we met. We always love Bordinos, not just for the nostalgia, but also for the outstanding food and service and excellent atmosphere, and because it is too fancy a place to take the aforementioned adorable kids.
However, they did get to dine on these delicious, kid friendly chicken nuggets, and we all celebrated together as a family with the yummy vanilla cupcakes.

BAKED CHICKEN NUGGETS WITH TANGY BAR-B-QUE SAUCE


1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into strips
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs

Heat oven to 400F.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, onion and garlic powders, salt and pepper. Toss chicken with flour mixture. Pour milk into a shallow bowl. Dip chicken pieces into milk. Pour breadcrumbs onto a large plate. Roll chicken in crumbs. Arrange chicken on baking sheet, spray with cooking spray. Bake for 20 minutes or until thoroughly cooked. Serve with bar-b-que sauce.
Enjoy!

TANGY BAR-B-QUE SAUCE


In a saucepan, stir together 1/3 cup barbeque sauce, 1 tablespoon of cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons of honey and 1 teaspoon of grated orange rind. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 4 minutes.
Enjoy!

VANILLA CUPCAKES

In a medium bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/8 teaspoon salt. In a large bowl, beat 6 tablespoons of softened butter with 2/3 cup sugar on high for 2 minutes. Beat in 3 egg yolks and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Beat in half the flour mixture on low. Add 1/2 cup milk and beat briefly. Beat in remaining flour just until combined. Spoon batter into paper liners in a 12 cup muffin pan. Bake at 350F for about 20 minutes.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Relish Magazine, March 2013
relish.com/issues/march-2013/

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING


1 (8 ounce) package of cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1 1/2 to 2 cups of powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Beat cream cheese and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add sugar and salt, beating until blended. Stir in vanilla.
Enjoy!

CARAMEL FROSTING


Bring 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar, 1/4 cup butter and 2 tablespoons of milk to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, and stir in 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1 cup powdered sugar.
Enjoy!

Recipes adapted from Southern Living, October 2010
www.southernliving.com/food/kitchen-assistant

Saturday, May 18, 2013

LOBSTER MACARONI AND CHEESE

Yummy! 

LOBSTER MACARONI AND CHEESE


8 ounces of dried elbow macaroni pasta
1 pound of cooked lobster meat
1 tablespoon butter
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, freshly grated
1 1/2 cups freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 cup Gruyere cheese, freshly grated
6 ounces of cream cheese
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup cream
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup breadcrumbs

Heat oven to 400F.
Lightly coat a shallow 3 quart casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray.
Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat. Add macaroni and cook according to package directions. Drain.
Coarsely chop the lobster meat, set aside.
Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the garlic and shallots and cook until softened.
Combine the cheddar cheese, 1 cup of the parmesan, the Gruyere and the cream cheese. Add to the saucepan and stir over low heat. Once cheeses start to melt, add the milk and cream and stir gently. When cheeses have melted, add the lobster meat and the macaroni. Stir to incorporate and cook for 1 to 2 minutes until mixture is heated through.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Transfer mixture to prepared casserole dish, sprinkle with the remaining parmesan cheese and the breadcrumbs.
Bake uncovered for 10 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from The Best Casserole Cookbook Ever, Beatrice Ojakangas, 2008
beatrice-ojakangas.com/2008/11/the-best-casserole-cookbook-ever/

Friday, May 17, 2013

CHICKEN AND TORTELLINI SALAD

I always feel like I need to be organizing my cupboards, but especially before we expect company.  While cleaning out the pantry recently, in anticipation of Mum coming to stay, I found a package of mushroom tortellini - one of the random items my husband tends to pick up when he does the grocery shopping. The misfit packet of pasta became the basis of this fresh, tasty dinner, and my shelves were a little less cluttered.

CHICKEN AND TORTELLINI SALAD


1 package of tortellini
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
2 cups chopped cooked chicken
1 cup frozen sweet peas, thawed
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Prepare tortellini according to package directions.
Process olive oil, parmesan cheese, lemon juice, garlic and worcestershire sauce. Toss olive oil mixture with tortellini, chicken, peas, green onions and parsley, season to taste with salt and pepper.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Southern Living, June 2011
www.southernliving.com/food/‎

Thursday, May 16, 2013

LAVENDER AND LEMON COOKIES

Although it already feels like a million years ago, it was Teacher Appreciation just this past week. I was eager to show the wonderful staff at our school a little of the gratitude and thanks I feel they deserve. So filled with warmth and affection, I baked up this treat.
In the same week, I was invited to dinner with an incredible group of ladies, with the most welcoming, lovely, gracious hostess you could imagine.
She prepared the entire gorgeous dinner herself, and because I don't like to turn up empty handed, I
I made these light, flavorful cookies a second time, once again while filled with warmth and affection.
I loved the combination of the two types of flours, and the sweetness of the honey and sugar with the tartness of the lemon, and I am also in love with the fabulous labels from Shindig Paperie (shindigpaperie.com/‎).

LAVENDER AND LEMON COOKIES


3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup almond flour
2 tablespoons arrowroot
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon dried lavender
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 stick of unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces, chilled
1 lemon, zested
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Heat oven to 350F.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a food processor, pulse together flour, almond flour, arrowroot, sugar, lavender, salt and baking soda.
Add the butter and lemon zest. Pulse until the mixture forms a soft dough. Form the dough into 1-inch balls and press into discs, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter and 1/4 inch thick (I used a glass and dipped the bottom in sugar so it didn't stick to the cookie dough).
Arrange on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until light brown around the edges, 8 to 10 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely, about 15 minutes.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Giada De Laurentiis
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/lavender-and-lemon-cookies-recipe/index.html

Friday, May 3, 2013

FRESH GARBANZO GARDEN SALAD

We found fresh garbanzo beans while shopping at a local Mexican grocery store - and I must admit I was initially underwhelmed. As my husband selected them, I expected him to prepare them, so I did nothing but push them around in the vegetable draw choosing other produce to cook with. However, after a week, I decided it was time to take action and I researched recipes online. Although there were many appealing dishes available, I wasn't planning a trip to the grocery store before dinner, so wanted to use what we had on hand. This fresh, tasty, herb filled salad was my choice, and it was absolutely wonderful.
I loved sitting on the front porch shelling the beans, while the kids played their version of baseball, and my daughter ran over frequently to eat the garbanzo beans right out of the shell. Delicious!!

FRESH GARBANZO GARDEN SALAD


3 cups fresh green (shelled) garbanzos (we didn't have this many)
15 cherry tomatoes, halved (I didn't have these, but I substituted red and orange bell pepper)
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped basil
1 cup cubed feta
½ small red onion, finely chopped
1/2 cucumber, ends trimmed, halved length wise, halved again and sliced
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt

In a mixing bowl, add all ingredients and toss gently to combine. Allow to sit at room temperature for 20 to 40 minutes, letting the flavors marry, mixing occasionally. Toss the garbanzo salad and serve.

Enjoy!
Recipe adapted from Califresh of California, Chef Jill Davie
http://califresh.net/recipes/ 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

ROSEMARY RHUBARB DAIQUIRI and SALMON GOAT CHEESE AND LEEK TART and COFFEE CARAMEL CREME BRULEE

This menu was a dinner party disaster y'all!!
Individually, each dish was all right, but when put together they just didn't work. No one was game to try my daiquiri, opting for the more familiar glass of champagne, and the creme brulee ended up with an unappetizing grainy texture. My husband had purchased the main dish that morning from the local farmers market - lamb sausages and broccolini - both of which I love for a casual dinner, but not a dinner party.
Thankfully the outstanding company and conversation more than made up for the food flop - so the evening wasn't a complete catastrophe.

ROSEMARY RHUBARB DAIQUIRI


2 cups water, divided
2 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup fresh rosemary leaves
3 cups 1/4 inch cubes fresh rhubarb
6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
1 1/2 cups white rum

Bring 1 cup water and 2 tablespoons sugar to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat, stirring often. Remove from heat, add 1/2 cup rosemary leaves. Let steep 5 minutes, strain.
Let syrup cool 1 hour.
Place rhubarb, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 cup water and 1/2 cup sugar in a blender. Process until coarse puree forms. Strain through a fine mesh sieve into a medium bowl. Discard pulp. Cover and chill rosemary syrup and rhubarb juice separately at least 4 hours and up to 2 days.
Mix rosemary syrup, rhubarb juice, remaining 5 tablespoons lemon juice, and rum in a pitcher. Fill glasses with ice, add daiquiri mixture.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, April 2009
www.bonappetit.com/recipes

SALMON GOAT CHEESE AND LEEK TART


1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 leeks, halved, thinly sliced crosswise
1 cup cream
1 5.2 ounce package of soft herb cheese (such as Boursin), room temperature
1 3.5 ounce package of goat cheese, room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons of chopped fresh thyme
2 eggs
4 ounces of thinly sliced smoked salmon

Heat oven to 350F.
Roll out puff pastry on a lightly floured surface to a 12 inch square. Line a 9 inch diameter tart pan with a removable bottom with pastry, cutting off excess at edge. Using fork pierce dough all over.
Freeze pastry 5 minutes. Cover pastry with aluminum foil. Fill with pie weights. Bake pastry 15 minutes. Remove weights and foil. Bake crust until golden, about 5 minutes longer. Cool completely on rack.
Heat oven to 425F.
Heat olive oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add sliced leeks and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add cream and simmer until leek mixture is reduced to 1 1/4 cups, about 5 minutes, Let cool.
Using wooden spoon, beat herb cheese, goat cheese and cream cheese in a large bowl until well blended. Stir in leek mixture, then lemon juice and thyme. Season mixture to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in eggs 1 at a time, blending well after each addition.
Spread half of filling over bottom of crust. Top with smoked salmon. Top salmon with remaining filling.
Bake tart until filling is set, about 30 minutes. Transfer to platter. Let tart cool to room temperature. Cut into wedges and serve.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, April 2004
www.bonappetit.com/recipes

COFFEE CARAMEL CREME BRULEE


2 cups cream, divided
1/4 cup dark roast coffee beans, crushed with a mallet in a plastic bag
1 cup sugar, divided
1/2 cup water
2 cups half and half
8 egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons raw sugar

Bring 1 cup of cream and the coffee beans to simmer in a heavy small saucepan. Remove from heat, cover and let steep at least 20 minutes and up to 1 hour.
Heat oven to 325F.
Stir 2/3 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water in heavy medium saucepan over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium high and bring to boil, brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush. Boil without stirring until syrup is deep amber, swirling pan occasionally, about 11 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Add remaining 1 cup cream.
Stir over low heat until caramel is smooth. Stir in half and half. Strain coffee infused cream into caramel cream, discard coffee beans in strainer.
Whisk yolks, salt, and remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a large bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in cream mixture. Strain custard into large measuring cup.
Arrange eight ramekins in a roasting pan. Divide custard among ramekins. Add enough warm water to roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
Bake until the custards are just set in the center, 65 to 70 minutes. Transfer custards from water bath to the refrigerator. Chill until cold, at least 3 hours and up to 1 day.
Sprinkle top of each custard with 1 teaspoon of raw sugar. Using a kitchen torch, melt sugar on each custard until deep amber. Serve custards cold.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, March 2009
www.bonappetit.com/recipes