Saturday, June 30, 2012

Orzo with Artichoke Pesto and Grilled Corn

  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound orzo pasta
  • 2 ears corn, shucked and silks removed
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12 ounces frozen artichoke hearts, thawed (about 3 cups)
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup walnut halves, toasted (see Cook's Note)
  • 1/2 cup fresh oregano leaves
  • 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • Zest of 1 large lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved (about 28)
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan
  • Freshly ground black pepper
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and place in a large serving bowl.

Place a grill pan over medium-high heat or preheat a gas or charcoal grill.

Brush the corn with the oil, using a pastry brush. Grill, turning frequently, until the corn is tender, about 10 minutes. Allow the corn to cool slightly. Remove the kernels with a large knife and add to the serving bowl.

For the pesto: In a food processor, combine 2 cups artichokes, oil, walnuts, oregano, parsley, lemon juice, garlic, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Blend, scraping down the sides of the bowl, as needed, until the mixture is thick and smooth.

Chop the remaining 1 cup artichoke hearts into 3/4-inch pieces and add to the serving bowl. Add the pesto, tomatoes and Parmesan. Toss until all the ingredients are coated. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Cook's Note: To toast the walnuts, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Arrange the walnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake until lightly toasted, 8 to 10 minutes. Cool completely before using.

Source: Giada De Laurentis

We served it with grilled chicken marinated in the following: zest and juice of 2 lemons, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 garlic clove minced, sea salt and pepper to taste (makes enough for 4 chicken breasts, butterflied).

A Few More 4th Ideas

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Festive cake from theKitchn

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Pretty centerpiece from

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Free Flag Printable from Copy Cat Crafter

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Chicken Tostadas with Black Beans and Goat Cheese

Corn Tostadas (sold on the bread aisle near tortillas)
Refried Black Beans (you can make your own, but I just use canned)
Crumbled Goat Cheese
Rottiserie Chicken (shredded or sliced)
1 head romaine lettuce, shredded
1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 green onion, finely sliced
1/2 cucumber, diced
1 avocado, diced
1 lime, juiced
drizzle honey
dash cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Make dressing: lime juice, olive oil, honey, very small amount of cayenne pepper, salt and pepper - whisk all together and let stand a few hours (if possible) - can be made a day in advance.
Spread each tostada with small amount of beans.  Top with small amount of chicken and cheese and toast at 425 for about 7 minutes, or until cheese starts to bubble.  Meanwhile mix together lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, cilantro and green onions and coat with dressing.  Top each tostada with salad mixture.

Make Ahead Sunday: Tuna Artichoke "Casserole"

2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp Flour
2 oz cream cheese
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 1/2 cups milk
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese + extra for serving
1/2 onion finely chopped
1 1/2 cups peas
1 1/2 cups frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and chopped
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1/4 cup sherry or white wine
3 green onions, white and green parts choppe
2 cans white albacore tuna
salt and pepper to taste
1 lb bow tie pasta, cooked al dente according to package directions

Melt 1 Tbsp in sauce pan and the other Tbsp in a saute pan.  Add the onion to the saute pan and cook until translucent - about 7 minutes.  Meanwhile, add the garlic to the sauce pan and cook 1 minute. Whisk in flour until blended and cook about 1 minute.  Add cream cheese to melt and slowly whisk in milk.  Cook over low-medium heat 8-10 minutes (stirring frequently) until thickened then add parmesan.  Season with salt and pepper and set aside. When onions are cooked, add artichokes, lemon zest, salt and pepper and wine.  Allow to cook down until liquid is absorbed.  Add peas, tuna, lemon juice and green onion.  Combine veggies, sauce and pasta and pour into a casserole dish.  Store in refrigerator or freezer.  Microwave individual servings and top with extra cheese.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Roasted Summer Squash

2 zuchini (sliced 1/2 in thick)
2 yellow squash (sliced 1/2 in thick)
Olive Oil (~1/4 cup)
Sea Salt
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, finely chopped

Toss veggies in oil and seasoning.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange veggies (try to lay as many flat in a single layer as possible).  Bake 400 for 50 minutes then increase heat to 450-475 for 10 minutes to brown top layer.  This method allows the edges to brown while leaving the middle moist and tender.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Make Ahead Meal & Perfect Pairing: Bacon, Gorgonzola & Rosemary Mac

Bacon and blue cheese are an obvious combo, but adding rosemary takes things to a whole different level!  Here's a dish that takes advantage of all 3.  Another great idea for rosemary and gorgonzola is tossing corkscrew pasta with this gorgonozola cream sauce and topping it with grilled chicken, chopped rosemary, toasted pecans and a little parmesan.  Yum!

4 slice bacon, cooked and crumbled
4 cups large elbow macaroni, cooked al dente
sea salt & pepper to taste
fresh grated nutmeg, about 1/4 tsp
4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp flour
3 cups milk
4 oz gruyere cheese, grated
8 oz white cheddar cheese, grated
6 oz gorgonzola, divided
2-3 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary

Melt butter in a sauce pot over low/medium heat, whisk in flour and cook about 1 minute.  Slowly whisk in milk and cook over medium heat until thickened (about 5 minutes), stirring often.  Remove from heat and stir in gruyere, cheddar, 2 oz gorgonzola, salt, pepper and nutmeg.  Pour into a greased casserole dish and top with remaining gorgonzola, rosemary and bacon.  If making ahead, bake on 375 for ~45 minutes (30 covered, 15 uncovered).  Freezes well.

Make Ahead Meal: Mozzarella Turkey Meatballs

1 lb Italian Sausage, hot or mild depending on your taste (bulk or removed from casings)
1 package ground turkey (usually 1 1/3 lb)
1 1/2 Tbsp fennel seeds
3 Tbsp chopped fresh herbs (I use a combination of rosemary, sage, parsley and basil)
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste (1/2 - 1 tsp of each)
1 container bocconcini, small fresh mozzarella balls packed in water
olive oil for drizzling
1 can crushed tomatoes

Mix everything except the mozzarella and tomatoes with your hands until thoroughly combined. Take a small handful of the sausage mixture (about golf ball size) and flatten it in your hand like a hamburger patty.  Wrap it around a mozzarella ball and roll in your hand until the cheese is fully covered.  Place on a baking sheet and continue until you have approximately 24 balls.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.  Place the plan drippings in a sauce pan and add the crushed tomatoes.  Reduce for 5-10 minutes until the sauce thickens.  Freeze or refrigerate if you're making ahead.  Serve sauce over meatballs. 
*Using the drippings allows you to take advantage of the rich turkey broth and seasoning that is released as the meat cooks.  But it may make the sauce a little greasy so just remove what you can when it cools (the grease will rise to the top).

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Compound Butter

I make this and freeze it in icecubes.  Let your imagine run wild with variations (rosemary/parmesan, blue cheese/cracked pepper, chipotle/cilantro, etc).  It makes an easy side dish with any veggie, great sauce for fish, chicken or beef or an excellent spread for bread.  Tonight I made it with green beans.

1 stick butter, softened
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 Tbsp minced herbs (sage, parsley, basil, thyme, etc)
salt and pepper to taste
Combine all until light and fluffy.  Freeze in ice cube trays.

Father's Day Failed Attempt

I was trying to recreate this adorable picture from the The How to Mommy.

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No such luck!  This is the best I could do - talk about some uncooperative helpers! 
Maybe next year...

Homemade Ice Cream

I remember having this as a child and it was a rare treat because it was so much work!  You had to churn the ice cream maker by hand and mess with salt in the ice around the metal container that holds the ice cream to keep it from melting.  I just got an electric ice cream maker for $50 and it's a life changer!

Ben & Jerry's Sweet Cream Base

2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk

Beat eggs on medium for 90 seconds, until light and fluffy.
Gradually whisk in the sugar until fully blended, about 1 minute more.
Add the milk and cream.
Add to your ice cream maker and follow the manufacturers instructions.  Mine took 20 minutes and it did all the churning itself!

I added some chopped oreo cookies to make cookies and cream, but the possibilities are endless - fruit, other types of cookies/candy, nuts, etc.  I don't think I'll ever buy a $6 gallon of ice cream again!

Make Your Own Dried Herbs

This is a quick and easy method for drying seasonal herbs for use all year long.  I like to use it for oregano since it can sometimes be overpowering when it's fresh.
1.  Wash and remove stems.
2.  Place on a microwavable plate.

3.  Microwave in 1 minute increments until they feel dry and crumble in your hands (about 3-4 minutes for a single layer on a regular size dinner plate). The plate will be very hot so be careful when removing it. 

4.  Allow to cool, crumble and store.

Enjoy for up to 1 year.

Roasted Shrimp with Feta

  • 4 tablespoons good olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups medium-diced fennel
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/4 pounds (16 to 20 per pound) peeled shrimp with tails on
  • 5 ounces good feta cheese, coarsely crumbled
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 2 lemons

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a 10-or 12-inch heavy ovenproof skillet over medium-low heat. Add the fennel and saute for 8 to 10 minutes, until the fennel is tender. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the wine and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the liquid is reduced by half. Add the tomatoes with the liquid, tomato paste, oregano, salt, and pepper to the skillet. Simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes.
Arrange the shrimp, tails up, in one layer over the tomato-mixture in the skillet. Scatter the feta evenly over the shrimp. In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, parsley, and lemon zest with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle over the shrimp.
Bake for 15 minutes, until the shrimp are cooked and the bread crumbs are golden brown. Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon over the shrimp. Serve hot with the remaining lemon cut into wedges.

Adapted based on recipe by Ina Garten

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Beach Vacation Souvineer: Seashell Pots

We recently returned from a trip to the beach and I wanted to do something with the seashells Tatum found.  Now we can think of our trip every time we see this pot in the garden. Thanks to my cousin, Megan, (via my sister) for this idea.

Items needed:
Terracotta pot
Paint pen
Hot glue gun

Just glue the shells on and write the location and date of your trip.

Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

  • 3 scallions, white and green parts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, lightly packed
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 11/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon good olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup good mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup Greek-style yogurt, such as Fage Total
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk, shaken
Place the scallions, basil, lemon juice, mustard, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Puree for 15 to 20 seconds to make a smooth mixture. Add the mayonnaise, yogurt, and buttermilk and blend until smooth. Transfer the dressing to a container, cover, and refrigerate for 1 hour for the flavors to develop.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Homemade Pizza

I love this for summer because I always have all the ingredients around the house/garden and can easily whip it up without a trip to the grocery store.  We just got back from vacation so this was perfect.

1 cup warm water (105 degrees to 115 degrees )
1 teaspoon honey
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast, plus extra for rolling
Sea salt
olive oil
2 Tbps fresh rosemary, chopped

Mix water, honey, yeast gently in large bowl.  Let stand 5 minutes until yeast is dissolved.  Add  2 1/4 cups flour and 1 tbsp sea salt.  Mix together with hands and continue to mix with your hands until it is smoth and elastic (about 5-10 minutes).  Heat oven to 150 and then turn off the heat.  Place a small glass bowl filled with water on the bottom rack of the oven.  Meanwhile, cover the dough with a clean dish towl and place in the oven for 1 hour to allow the dough to rise.  Remove from oven and place on a floured surface.  Cut into 4 even pieces and form balls.  Place each ball into small bowls.  Cover each with a clean dish towel and return to the oven for 30 additional minutes. Remove from oven and reform each into a ball then flatten into a small disk with your hand.  Wrap in plastic wrap and store in refrigerator.  When ready to serve, allow the dough to come to room tempature.  Place on a floured surface and top with a small bit of flour then roll out using a rolling pin to desired size/shape (for average thickness, it should be about 10-12 inches round).  Drizzle with olive oil, sea salt and rosemary.  Bake 5-7 minutes on 400.  Top with sauce, cheese and toppings of your choice.
For best results make the dough at least 24 and up to 4 days in advance.

Today I roasted tomatoes for one of the toppings.

Roasted Tomatoes source: Ina Garten
  • 12 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise, cores and seeds removed
  • 4 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Arrange the tomatoes on a sheet pan, cut sides up, in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle the garlic, sugar, salt, and pepper over the tomatoes. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, until the tomatoes are concentrated and beginning to caramelize. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Summer Sides

Unfortunately, I don't have pictures, but these are two staples I have at most any summer get together.  They're super easy and can be made in advance.

Sesame Garlic Pasta Salad
1 bottle SASS Sesame Garlic Dressing (found in produce section at HEB)
1 lb penne pasta (cooked according to package directions), cooled
1 cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
Mix all together then refrigerate at least 4 hours.  If you aren't planning to serve the same day, I like to add 2/3 of the dressing in advance and reserve some to toss just before serving.  Otherwise, it can dry out. I typically serve this cold, but it's also delicious warmed up with some grilled chicken.

Love Dip
1 8 oz pkg cream cheese, softened
1 cup chunky salsa
Mix together until combined.  Refrigerate and serve with tortilla chips or veggies.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Make Ahead Sunday: Nick and Toni's Penne Alla Vecchia Bettola

  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 1 medium Spanish onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 cup vodka
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans peeled plum tomatoes
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • 4 tablespoons fresh oregano
  • 3/4 to 1 cup heavy cream
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Heat the olive oil in a large oven proof saute pan over medium heat, add the onions and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes until translucent. Add the red pepper flakes and dried oregano and cook for 1 minute more. Add the vodka and continue cooking until the mixture is reduced by half.
Meanwhile, drain the tomatoes through a sieve and crush them into the pan with your hands. Add 2 teaspoons salt and a pinch of black pepper. Cover the pan with a tight fitting lid and place it in the oven for 1 1/2 hours. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta al dente. Drain and set aside.  If you're making ahead, store the sauce and make the pasta the night you are serving.
Place the tomato mixture in a blender and puree in batches until the sauce is a smooth consistency. Return to the pan.
Reheat the sauce, add 2 tablespoons fresh oregano and enough heavy cream to make the sauce a creamy consistency. Add salt and pepper, to taste, and simmer for 10 minutes. Toss the pasta into half the sauce and cook for 2 minutes more. Stir in 1/2 cup Parmesan. Serve with an additional sprinkle of Parmesan and a sprinkle of fresh oregano on each plate. Freeze remaining sauce for later use.

Source: Nick & Toni's

Saturday, June 2, 2012


1 tsp onion, very finely chopped
juice of 1 lime
4 grape tomatoes, seeded and chopped
2 large avocados, cubed
sea salt to taste

Place onion in bowl, top with lime juice and allow to meld for 5 minutes.  Add tomoto and avocado.  Mash to desired consistency.  Add sea salt to taste.  Make up to 4 hours in advance.

Kiwi Crates

This little package came in the mail the other day and Tatum had a blast putting it together.  It included all the supplies to decorate the mask and cape as well as supplies to make a comet.  What a great idea for kids!

Thanks, Aunt Holly!

Spanish Rice

This is my version of my mom's classic.  Her's is better because she usually makes her own chicken stock, but I hate chicken bones. :)
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped (I actually use about 1/4 of a small bag of baby carrots, chopped)
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 cups rice
3 cups chicken broth
2 sazon goya packets, any flavor
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup, chopped cilantro

Add oil to medium size pot, saute veggies over low/medium heat until tender.  Add seasoning, rice and broth.  Bring to a boil then reduce to low heat and cover.  Cook 25 minutes.  Turn burner off and allow to cool 5-10 minutes.  Fluff and add cilantro (careful not to overmix).

Shrimp Cakes with Cilantro Lime Aioli

Shrimp Cakes

  • 1 pount uncooked large shrimp, peeled, deveined
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 green onion, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of ground black pepper
  • 2 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)

  • Add egg, shrimp, green onion, lemon juice, mustard, cilantro, hot pepper sauce, salt, and pepper to food processor. Pulse until mixed and shrimp is coursley chopped (don't overmix or it will be rubbery). Add 1 cup panko and pulse just until mixed in. Form mixture into twelve 3-inch-diameter cakes. Roll cakes in remaining 1 cup panko; transfer to parchment-lined baking sheet. Refrigerate 10 minutes. (Can be made up to 4 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

    Pan saute or place on greased baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil.  Bake 20 minutes on 350.  Broil 5-7 minutes until crust is golden.
    Based on recipe by Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar - Maui

    Cilantro Lime Aioli
    1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
    Juice of 2 limes
    1 garlic clove
    2 Tbsp dijon mustard
    1/2 tsp tabasco
    1 cup mayonnaise

    Blend first 5 ingredients in food processor until cilantro is finely chopped.  Add mayo and pulse just to blend.  Cover and chill.  Can be made a day ahead.  Also, good on salads, sandwiches or over fish.

    Banana Pudding

    1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk (Eagle Brand recommended)
    1 1/2 cups cold water (must be chilled)
    1 5.1 oz package instant vanilla pudding
    16 oz whipping cream
    1 box vanilla wafers
    3-4 bananas (depending on size)
    1 lemon

    In a large mixing bowl, add condensed milk, water and pudding mix.  Mix until dissolved.  Place in the refrigerator and let thicken for 5 mintues.  Meanwhile, add cream to another bowl and bean until stiff peaks form (3-5 minutes).  Stop as soon as you see peaks, do not overmix.  Gently fold cream into pudding mixture.  Slice bananas and sprinkle with lemon juice (this keeps them from turning brown).  Layer in a large glass dish (pudding, bananas, wafers) - 3 layers ending with wafers.