It's been quite a week! Between a fun weekend in Minnesota celebrating our friends marriage, plus a very busy week catching up at work and oh, yeah, the official election of a new president, I'm ready to relax. It's been getting quite chilly around here and with ski season just around the corner we are banking on some serious snowfall.
This afternoon we are having a few friends over for a BBQ. Eric is planning on grilling a variety of meat on the Big Green Egg, a friend is going to make her specialty mac & cheese and her husband is also bringing over Rock Band! Certain to be a good time! I can't have folks over though without the serious itch to make something myself. It's a perfect time to make some of my favorite recipes.
I have to say I'm a bit proud of myself for this recipe. It's one of the few I've put together on my own. The idea came from a combination of watching Rachael Ray make mini pizzas one afternoon and one of Eric's favorite kinds. These are a great appetizer for parties since they are colorful and super easy to make. I only wish the picture was better!
- 1 tube refrigerated pizza dough
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 4 tbls chopped garlic (we use the stuff in the jar)
- 8 oz. mozzarella brick
- 1 tub grape tomatoes
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Roll out tube of pizza dough into a rectangle. You can either use a cup to form as many circles as possible or the easier method may be to just cut it into 3x3 inch squares or so.
- Brush each mini pizza with olive oil and rub about a 1/4 tsp of garlic on each one.
- Slice tomatoes in half length wise, and then slice each half again lengthwise. Slice cheese into 1/4 in thick slices into chunks that will almost fill the sections. Place a piece of cheese on each section of dough and arrange 3-4 tomato quarters on top so the stay put.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes, until edges of dough start to brown. Allow to cool slightly, sprinkle basil over top and drizzle with olive oil.
Well we had the first real snow of the season! I guess that means ski season is just around the corner, yippee! While freakin' cold, it was absolutely beautiful today. Perhaps it's the fact that we were in the 80's last week and a sudden 30 degree day feels like 30 below, but it was FREEZING! The early season snow collecting on leaves still changing with the autumn season made it colorful yet amazingly white. Perfect for trying my hand at taking pictures. We went to the Bobcat/Weber State game today only to watch them get sorely beaten. I love to watch football in chilly weather, bundled up and toasty, but today pushed the limits. At halftime we decided to head to Buffalo Wild Wings to watch the 2nd half in warmth while eating plenty of wings.
We also decided that the perfect way to end the first real cold day of the season was to have a chili cookoff, just the two of us. I'm pretty sure I won. Yep. Eric may argue, but in all reality you know I'm the champ. Ha! Seriously though, we both made very different but awesome batches of chili. Mine is more of a classic, thick meaty chili while his is more stew like and much more spicy. To counter a certain buddy of mine that thought I may only follow recipes, here is how I made mine (without looking at a single suggestion). :)
2.5 lbs ground beef
1 Sweet Onion
3 cans stewed tomatoes (chopped)
2 cans chili beans
1 can kidney beans
1 can pinto beans
1-2 cups mushrooms
One bottle Black Widow Oatmeal Stout
Add to taste:
Garlic Powder (around 2 tbls)
Chili Powder (around 3 tbls)
Cumin (around 2 tbls)
Oregano (around 1 tbls)
Cinnamon (yep!) (around 1 tsp)
Salt (around 1 tsp)
So I started with a tablespoon of olive oil in a cast iron pot, added some chopped garlic and let brown slightly. Add onions and saute until softened. Add the ground beef and toss around until browned and the beef really breaks down (I like it in really tiny pieces). Sprinkle in some of the spices to let absorb with the meat. Finally add in the rest of the main ingredients and add spices until the taste is what you like. The more it simmers, the more the flavors come out, so go light on the spices until it simmers for a bit. Let it simmer for awhile to reduce the beer and thicken.
I'm really satisfied with this recipe, but the joy of chili is that you can adjust to your taste. Between the batch I made and Eric's we'll be eatin' chili for weeks to come. It freezes great too, so store in medium containers so you can pull out just enough to last a day or two.
I received this trifle bowl last year for Christmas and haven't yet put it to use. Searching for trifle recipes I ran across this one and knew I had to make it for my mom's birthday. It is, simply put, awesome! The perfect combination of strawberries, chocolate and fluffy cream made from cream cheese, pudding and whipped topping, layered with ladyfingers brushed with coffee. Try it and enjoy!
Oh, and yes, it did get rave reviews!
- 1 quart fresh strawberries
- 1 1/4 cups cold milk
- 1 (3.4 ounce) package instant cheesecake or vanilla pudding mix
- 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
- 4 tablespoons strong brewed coffee, room temperature, divided
- 2 cups whipped topping (I used homemade)
- 1 (3 ounce) package ladyfingers, split
- 6 (1 ounce) squares bittersweet chocolate, grated
- Set aside three strawberries for garnish; slice the remaining strawberries. In a bowl, whisk milk and pudding mix for 2 minutes. Let stand for 2 minutes or until soft-set. In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth; gradually beat in 2 tablespoons coffee. Beat in pudding. Fold in whipped topping.
- Brush remaining coffee over ladyfingers. Line the bottom of a 3-qt. trifle or glass serving bowl with half of the ladyfingers. Top with half of the sliced berries, grated chocolate and pudding mixture; repeat layers. Cut reserved berries in half; place on trifle. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.
I can't believe it's already been a month since our "Jeep Week" trip. We gathered our friends, packed up 7 Jeeps and hit the trail in southwest Montana, each night bringing us to a different location. We camped in a beautiful meadow the first night and found amazing mountain lakes the other nights. While several folks stayed the full 9 days, we stayed only 5, which was plenty considering the amount of dirt we accumulated!
Our meals for the trip were planned so each couple only had to make one breakfast or one dinner. We had dinner and made pulled pork and this salad. I hadn't made it previously, so I put it together and hoped for the best. I was surprised by how much everyone liked it and how quickly it was wiped out. Based on this success I made it again for our trip last weekend to see Tom Petty at the Gorge (awesome concert both nights!). Again, everyone loved it. So, here I am posting it to share. Just a hint, I prepared all the veggies and combined in one bag, put the almonds in their own bag and stored within the veggie bag. The dressing was stored in a tupperware container and I just let folks add as much as they wanted.
Naturally I found it at Simply Recipes.
2/3 cup slivered almonds
8 cups (1 lb) coarsely shredded napa cabbage
12 ounces snow peas, strings removed, rinsed and thinly sliced
1 1/3 cups thinly sliced radishes
1 1/3 cups thinly sliced green onions (including greens)
1 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves
1 cup lightly packed fresh parsley leaves
3 Tbsp rice vinegar (seasoned or unseasoned)
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 clove peeled and minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder
1 cup mayonnaise
1 Spread almond slivers out in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast in a 350°F oven for 5-10 minutes, until nicely browned. OR toast in stick-free or cast-iron skillet on medium high, stirring frequently until browned. Set aside.
2 Combine cabbage, snow peas, radishes, green onions, cilantro in a large bowl. Can make this step a day or two ahead.
3 In a separate bowl, mix together the rice vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, garlic, sesame oil, ginger, and cayenne until sugar has dissolved. Whisk in the mayonnaise.
4 When ready to serve, gently combine the dressing and almonds with the cabbage mixture.
Lately I have a variety of recipes I really want to get up here, but just haven't had the time. Right now I'm relaxing after running a 10K race this morning and thinking these Watermelon Margarita's sound just about right. I made them the other night for our bimonthly girls dinner and was very very happy with them. Being a light and refreshing drink with a tasty watermelon flavor, I have to say I was impressed. I'm thinking these would be perfect mixed in a pitcher for a bbq, to be followed by something else, like oh, a cold beer. The recipe was found in an awesome cookbook my dad loaned me called Great Gatherings, which I'd really suggest picking up a copy of if you enjoy entertaining or just love good recipes. Each "chapter" features a famous chef and they put together a full menu for a themed affair, even suggesting music and wine pairings.
3/4 C. Sugar
3/4 C. Water
3 lbs watermelon with rind intact
1 1/2 C (12 oz) fresh lime juice
Crushed ice or ice cubes
6 shots (9 oz) tequila
To make the simple syrup, in a saucepan, combine the sugar and water and place over high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, and then cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes, or until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool completely.
Cut off and discard the rind from the watermelon. Cut the flesh into chunks, removing as many of the seeds as you can. In a food processor or blender, process the watermelon chunks, in batches as necessary, to a smooth puree. Pass the puree through a fine-mesh sieve placed over a bowl. You should have about 3 cups of watermelon juice. Add the simple syrup and lime juice and stir well. Transfer to a pitcher and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 3 hours.
Just before serving, remove the watermelon-lime juice mixture from the refrigerator and stir well. Fill 6 tall glasses with ice and pour 1 shot of tequila in each. Serve immediately. Mmmm!
In case you're not seeing the trend, I like baked goods. They're a great treat and easy to share, preventing me from eating every last one myself. Which... I would do since my husband isn't all that into sweets. I actually made this batch for an event my mom has organized for Friday night. I sure hope they like 'em!
These turned out surprisingly tasty! I was definitely intrigued by the recipe, a bit skeptical and was happy with the results. They are some what of a cross between a ginger snap and a sugar cookie. Although, I'm sure you already picked up on that from the name.
Anyway, this recipe came from my Food & Wine magazine. I've had the page in my clippings recipe binder for some time and I'm glad I've finally gotten around to making them. They are pretty easy to make and roll out, even with my high end blue plastic rolling pin (Target $1 bins!). You do need to watch them carefully while they are baking since they tend to brown really quick once they start. The original recipe called for 20 minutes, but I backed it down to 16-18 minutes. I'd still suggest keeping an eye on them.
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 sticks ( 1/2 pound) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the ground ginger, baking soda and salt. In a standing electric mixer fitted with a paddle, or using a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter with the sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the egg yolk and vanilla, scraping the side and bottom of the bowl. Beat in the dry ingredients at medium-low speed. Divide the dough in half. Pat each half into a round, wrap them in plastic and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350°. Position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each piece of dough 1/8-inch thick. Using a 2-inch biscuit cutter, stamp out rounds as close together as possible. Arrange the rounds on large baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. Gather the scraps and reroll, cutting out more cookies.
- Bake the cookies in batches for about 16-18 minutes, until golden; shift the pans from top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking. Let the cookies cool on the sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool completely.
Not only do I get excited to find I have all the ingredients on hand to whip up a batch of cookies, it's even more thrilling to find I can make something other than your basic standards. I ran across this recipe and thought they sounded interesting and quite possibly pretty good. Fortunately, I was not run astray and was delighted to find something I will make time and again. Not only are they quick and easy to whip up, but you can even vary them using lemon or maybe adding a hint of vanilla and omitting the citrus and seeds. These particular cookies taste like a sugar cookie with a hint of orange and the slight nuttiness of poppy seeds.
This recipe was found, naturally, at the Simple Recipes blog. As you'll see it was only yesterday's post.
- 2/3 cup of sugar
- 1/2 cup of butter, room temperature
- 1 egg, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon of orange zest
- 1 1/4 cup of flour
- 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
- Pinch of salt
- 1 tablespoon of poppy seeds
1 Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
2 Add the egg and the orange zest, beat for thirty seconds, scraping down the bowl part way through to ensure even mixing.
3 In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Slowly sift it into the butter mixture until just combined. Fold in the poppy seeds.
4 Place heaping teaspoonfuls on a non stick baking sheet, allowing them space as they will spread as they bake.
5 Bake at 350°F for 10-12 minutes or until just turning golden around the edges. Remove from oven. Let sit on the baking sheet for a minute or two to let the cookies solidify a bit, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.Enjoy!
Oh, and I have to say I'm thrilled with how perfectly round they are and I didn't even try!
Don't let the name worry you, Haricot Vert are merely long french green beans. I made this recipe last Sunday night while my husband smoked a rack of what was easily the most amazing ribs I may have ever eaten. He used his beloved Big Green Egg and basted them with Zeke's BBQ sauce (at World Market). We both agreed that this dinner was one of the top five we've ever cooked. This little side dish is super easy to prepare, quick and pretty healthy. The two of us have very different tastes in food (him - spicy, bold flavors/me - comfort food and sweets), so it's always great to find something we both agree on, like this. It's actually great cold too so you can have it as leftovers if, on the off chance, you don't finish them. Unlike us...
This was found at SmittenKitchen (another favorite site). The picture there is fantastic! Mine on the other hand, let's just say I'm still learning...
Haricot Vert with Shallots
1/2 pound of haricot vert, trimmed and tailed
2 teaspoon butter
1 small shallot, sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons diced tomato
Wedge of lemon
Bring a pot of well-salted water to boil. Boil haricot vert for 3.5 minutes (yes, that's three and a half). Plunge them into an ice bath and drain the beans.
In your empty pot (might as well save a dish) melt two teaspoons of butter over medium heat. Add the shallot and saute them until they’re just translucent, not browned–about one to two minutes. Add the drained and cooled haricot vert back into the pot and reheat them in the butter and shallots. Season with salt and pepper. Spread haricot vert and shallot onto a plate, throw the diced tomato over them and squeeze a few drops of lemon juice over the dish. Serve immediately.
There is some sort of true pleasure in finding I have all the necessary ingredients on hand to whip up a batch of cookies on a moments notice. Nevermind the fact that I "stock" for this purpose, but we'll leave that alone. I recently decided to whip up a batch of oatmeal raisin cookies to take with us camping for Memorial Day weekend. Knowing I could easily find a decent recipe in my seldom used Joy of Cooking cookbook, I summoned the inner (and not so hidden) computer geek in me and scanned my favorite foodie sites for a new recipe. Turns out the one I found is not so "new", but the resulting cookie was absolutely fabulous and went over very well with all our camping companions. I found the recipe on Simply Recipes (again... love that site!!) and only added a bit of nutmeg since I love what I call the "pumpkin pie" spices - nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, etc.
- 1 cup shortening
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup white sugar
- 2 eggs well beaten
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cup flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 3 cups oats (I used "quick" oats)
- 1 cup raisins (optional)
- 3/4 cup chopped walnuts (use 1/2 cup if using raisins) (optional)
1 Cream shortening and sugars, add eggs and vanilla and beat well.
2 Sift flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add to first mixture and mix well. Add raisins and nuts. Add oats last.
3 Spoon out by rounded tablespoonfuls on to greased cookie sheets. Bake at 350°F. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove to wire rack. Cool completely.
Makes about 2 dozen cookies.
Well, I suppose my great aspirations to maintain this fantastic "food, photography and whatever else strikes me" blog has not been well played. I suppose it's fine right now since no one even knows I exist. Regardless, I've decided which recipe to use as my first.
This recipe was first discovered by a friend of mine who also loves the Simply Recipes blog (truly addictive). Three girls and I get together on a biweekly basis to cook dinner and share favorite recipes. Every time we meet each person has a different part of the meal - appetizer and drink, side, main or dessert. It is always a great meal as everyone has a certain "taste" for different types of cuisine. We ultimately end the evening satisfied and truly stuffed, relishing girl time and good food. That being said, the gal that had main dish last time made this Mexican Lasagna and we all loved it. I even made it for a Cinco de Mayo gathering a week later to rave reviews. Everyone went back for seconds! I have made some modifications to the recipe to make it a bit easier, but if you'd like to do everything from scratch, you can view the original recipe here.
For the Mexican lover, this dish is truly comfort food. You won't find lasagna noodles and ricotta cheese here, but you will find a combination of everything that makes great tacos, enchiladas and tostadas in one easy to prepare and share dish. I set it out and let people create their own, topping it with shredded lettuce, sour cream, homemade guacamole and cilantro.
- 1 1/4 lbs ground turkey or ground beef
- Olive oil
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- 2 14-oz can refried beans
- 1 can green chilis
- 1 24 oz jar salsa (I used Pace, but you can try about anything)
- 12 corn tortillas
- 2 cups coarsely grated Monterey Jack cheese (about 8 oz)
- 2 cups coarsely grated mild cheddar cheese (about 8 oz)
- Sour cream
- Iceberg lettuce
1 Preheat oven to 350°F and lightly oil a 13x9x3-inch glass or ceramic baking dish.
2 Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large cast iron frying pan on medium high heat. Add the ground meat, breaking it up as you add it. Sprinkle with salt. Sprinkle on the chile powder, cayenne, cumin, and coriander. (Tip - mix the spices together in small bowl ahead of time, you can avoid the hassle with containers at this point) Increase the heat to high. Add another 2 Tbsp of olive oil. Do not stir the meat unnecessarily. Allow it to brown on one side, and then stir it so the other side can be browned. As soon as the meat is browned, remove the pan from the burner. The meat will continue to cook in the heat of the cast iron pan. Once you are sure that the meat is cooked through, use a slotted spoon to remove the meat from the pan to a bowl. Set aside.
3 While the meat is cooking, warm the refried beans in a saucepan. When the are warmed and stirring consistency, add green chilis. Keep heat at low so they stay warm.
4 Brush both sides of the tortillas with olive oil and place on baking sheet (about 4 at a time depending on size of baking sheet). Warm in oven for 5-6 minutes until slightly softened. Repeat until all tortillas have been done.
5 In baking dish arrange 4 tortillas in one layer, overlapping slightly (tortillas will not cover bottom completely). Spread half of bean mixture evenly over tortillas in dish and top with half of meat mixture. Sprinkle one third cheese over the meat and spread half of the salsa over the cheese. (Note: I started this process right after first 4 tortillas were done in the oven, I let the second batch go while I spread the other ingredients)
Repeat layering of tortillas, beans, meat, cheese, and salsa and top with remaining 4 tortillas. Sprinkle remaining cheese over tortillas. Bake casserole on the middle rack in the oven for 35 minutes, until the casserole is heated through and the cheese is completely melted and bubbling. Let the casserole stand for 10-15 minutes before serving.
Serves 8. Serve with sour cream, guacamole, chopped cilantro, and thinly sliced iceberg lettuce.