Some more Favorite Summer Recipes

Thought I’d share some more of my favorite summer recipes.

Growing up we used to go to the Holy Spirit Hospital Street Fair. Always a fun time but always one of the highlights was the Chicken BBQ put on by either by the Shriners or the Fireman (I don’t recall). I still remember seeing the grills set-up and the smoke coming off of them onto the highway. The boxed chicken bbq was always awesome – sweet with some charcoal crispiness (you had to pre-purchase or you ran the risk of them selling out). Fast forward about 20 years and my Dad was at the Farmer’s Market getting some fresh chicken and he was offered this recipe for Fireman’s Chicken BBQ (super easy):

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 Cup Water
  • 1/2 Cup Butter
  • 3 T Sugar
  • 1 1/2 T Salt
  • 1/2 Cup Vinegar

Put all ingredients in a spray bottle.  Spray / baste chicken (works well with thighs and legs) every time your turn it.  This is a staple with my Dad and Brother.  My brother even has the recipe taped to an inside cabinet down the Shore.  And I have a picture of that recipe card on my phone (which is how I was able to post it!)

Some of my favorite foods are salmon, beets and avocado.  I was visiting my parents over the summer and my Dad was trying some new recipes from the Food Network.

Here is the Salmon with Sweet and Spicy Rub recipe by Ellie Krieger

Ingredients:

  • Cooking Spray
  • 2 T light brown sugar (packed)
  • 1 T chili powder
  • 1 t ground cumin
  • 1/8 t salt
  • 1/8 t fresh ground pepper
  • 6 – 6 oz salmon fillet, skin and any pin bones removed (I think this would also be good with chicken breasts too)
  • 1 T olive oil

Directions:  Coat your grill or grill pan with cooking spray and preheat over medium heat.  While the grill is heating, combine the brown sugar, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper.  Brush each salmon fillet with 1/2 tsp of olive oil, then rub each fillet with about 1/2 tsp of the spice mixture.  Grill the salmon, flesh side down, until charred – 4 to 5 minutes.  Flip the salmon and cook another 5 to 6 minutes for medium doneness.  For well done fish, cook an additional 1 to 2 minutes.  Remove to a platter and serve.

Salmon with Sweet and Spicy Rub by Ellie Krieger - photo from the Food Network

Salmon with Sweet and Spicy Rub by Ellie Krieger – photo from the Food Network

Here is the Beet and Goat Cheese Arugula Salad by Giada de Laurentiis (I think this is what made me fall is love with Avocados!)

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 medium beets, cooked and quartered
  • 6 cups fresh arugula
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries or dried cherries
  • 1/2 avocado, peeled, pitted, and cubed
  • 3 ounces soft fresh goat cheese, coarsely crumbled (crumbled blue cheese would work too)

Directions:

Line a baking sheet with foil. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Whisk the vinegar, shallots, and honey in a medium bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in the oil. Season the vinaigrette, to taste, with salt and pepper. Toss the beets in a small bowl with enough dressing to coat. Place the beets on the prepared baking sheet and roast until the beets are slightly caramelized, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes. Set aside and cool.

Toss the arugula, walnuts, and cranberries in a large bowl with enough vinaigrette to coat. Season the salad, to taste, with salt and pepper. Mound the salad atop 4 plates. Arrange the beets around the salad. Sprinkle with the avocado and goat cheese, and serve.

Beet and Goat Cheese Arugula Salad by Giada de Laurentiis - photo by the Food Network

Beet and Goat Cheese Arugula Salad by Giada de Laurentiis – photo by the Food Network

Any favorite recipes you would like to share?

Enjoy!!

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Favorite Summer Recipes

Back in April, my Mom and I went to Vegas (her first trip). We splurged for dinner at Rao’s at Caesar’s Palace. The food was great but we both loved the Caprese Salad that we split. What made it different was a version of fresh mozzarella called Burrata.  It was so creamy.

When I got back to NJ – I actually had to ask a friend what it was called because I forgot the name.  At first I couldn’t find it locally – my Dad was able to find some at the Farmer’s Market in Central PA.  But luckily I’ve been able to find it on a regular basis at Shoprite (go figure).  I’ve been on a caprese salad kick now – both with burrata or regular fresh mozzarella.  It is super easy:

  • Fresh Jersey Tomatoes (if you aren’t in Jersey – than your local tomatoes – they just aren’t the same 🙂 )
  • Fresh Mozzarella – either burrata (a little creamier) or regular
  • Fresh Basil (I’m even growing my own – use it for this and in my eggs for breakfast)
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (you can splurge on this too because this helps with the flavor).

Layer tomato, fresh basil, fresh mozzeralla – add desired amount of Balsalmi Vinegar and EVOO – and enjoy!

Caprese Burrata Salad – from vacation:

Caprese Burrata

Caprese Burrata

Double Layer Caprese Salad – from a BBQ last week:

Double Layer Caprese Salad with Fresh Mozzarella

Double Layer Caprese Salad with Fresh Mozzarella

A family favorite BBQ meal my Dad has been making – Grilled Shrimp Scampi with Saffron Rice.  It is from the Sunset BBQ Cookbook – 1962 (page 50) it is called Colby’s Scampies.  I just had it last week (and bummed I forgot to snap a photo) when I had a chance to visit with my parents.  It is soooo good (menu was Scampies, Saffron Rice, Asparagus and a Caprese Salad).

Here is the recipe (from the 1962 edition):

  •  6 large shrimp – fresh or frozen
  • 1/4 lb (1/2 cup) butter or margarine (we use butter)
  • 2 T Olive Oil
  • 2 T Steak Sauce
  • 6 Crushed Garlic Cloves
  • 1 t each crushed basil, tarragon, celery seeds
  • 2 T dry white wine (my Dad uses a very dry vermouth)
  • Salt to taste

Shell and de-vein the shrimp and split each in a butterfly fashion.  Combine all other ingredients except salt in the sauce. Marinate the shrimp in the sauce for at least 1 hour.  When colas in the BBQ have reached the glowing stage, spread the tails out on the grill, turning them and basting often.  When they show a little brown in color, salt to taste, rmove from fire, cut into 1 inch pieces and serve immediately.  Serves 6 for hor d’oeuvres, 2 as an entree.

The above gives the verbatim instructions from the 1962 cookbook. A couple of notes, my Dad uses extra large shrimp (~ 1 dozen – he normally does ~ 2 dozen and doubles the other ingredients) and puts them on skewers – and I personally like the shrimp a little crispy – aka a few burnt ends!

For presentation purposes – place the Shrimp Scampi over the Saffron Rice – it looks really pretty and is so yummy!  I think I may have to make it myself before the summer is over.

What are your favorite summer time recipes?

January Travels

I was in NYC and Tampa in January.  Not only were they great trips – but also found some interesting adult beverages.

While in NYC – had a great dinner at Bond45, hopped over to Times Square to be a tourist and hit an Irish Pub.  Tried something interesting and different I thought I would share.  A shot of Jameson followed by a shot of pickle juice.  Yes – you read that correct – a shot of pickle juice.  I joined my friends just as they were preparing to do this shot and really had no desire to try it.  But you know what happens when you are with friends – you fall to peer pressure.  I was surprised that the combination actually worked.  Had another a little later for good measure too!  No hangover the next day – bonus!  I didn’t know what it was called so when I got home the next day – I Googled it.  It is called a PickleBack.  I thought it was interesting that the best places use homemade pickle brine – who knew!  I checked the Irish Pub’s cocktail menu and this isn’t on the menu so I have no idea if their pickle juice is from  homemade pickles or from a jar of Vlasic’s!

So off to Tampa I went for MLK weekend for my goddaughter’s baptism.  It was a wonderful family event.  A family tradition is having a baby Guinness.  So I had to have one to be considered part of the family.  🙂  Note – this doesn’t have any Guinness in it at all.  It is a shot of Cafe Patron with Bailey’s poured over the back of a spoon – giving the shot the look of a Guinness.  All I can say is YUM!!  This will be on the tailgating menu this fall.  🙂

Technique for getting the true Guinness look.

Technique for getting the true Guinness look.

The final product - yum!

The final product – yum!

Dusting off an Old Favorite

Good afternoon. Happy Saturday. Hope you are staying warm.

Although I  enjoyed my Christmas and New Year’s with my family – it wasn’t without some not so fun times.  I’ve been sick since the Monday before Christmas.  I thought it was just a bad cold but it gradually got worse.  I finally went to the Doctor’s on Thursday (they squeezed me in – thank goodness) before the big storm.  I have a bacterial infection and I’m on the mend thanks to the zip pack I was given.  I’m actually getting some energy back. (Yeah!)

I’ve been laying low – getting rest, drinking lots of liquids and even eating soup.  I’ve missed working out (I’ve gotten a few walks in) and hope to get back on track on Monday.

Last weekend I dusted off a simple, favorite breakfast from my childhood.  Soft boiled eggs!  I did a couple of google searches on the timing – as although I like my eggs over easy – I like my soft boiled eggs really an in between version of hard / soft boiled eggs.

Here is my recipe:

  • 2 – 3 room temperature eggs
  • bring a pot of water on high to a slow boil
  • add the room temperature eggs to the water
  • set timer to 6 minutes (while eggs are cooking – toast you favorite bread or english muffins)
  • once timer goes off take pot off of the burner – add cool water
  • quickly peel eggs
  • chop up eggs in a bowl – salt and pepper to taste
  • Serve with buttered toast or english muffins

A picture from my breakfast this morning:

Soft boiled eggs (2) with English Muffins (Thomas' of course)

Soft boiled eggs (2) with English Muffins (Thomas’ of course)

Enjoy!

Holiday Favorite – Adult Beverages

A family tradition that I remember my Dad telling me about was a drink called a Grasshopper.  It was a drink my Mom-Mom and Pop-Pop served on Christmas Eve as everyone opened presents.  Over the years they added other drinks too (Manhattans and Brandy Alexanders) – although the Grasshopper was still made for my Mom-Mom.  I love the Grasshopper because it is such a pretty green – and who doesn’t love, spiked chocolate mint with ice cream! 🙂

It was a drink continued at our house – I remember either been near the end of high school or maybe even college having a Grasshopper before Midnight Mass.

It is such a festive colored drink for the Christmas Holidays.  Here is the recipe for a Grasshopper:

  • 1 pint of vanilla bean ice cream
  • 3 cups of crushed ice
  • 4 oz green creme de menthe
  • 6 oz white creme de cacoa (clear)

Put all ingredients into a blender, cover and process at frappe for a few seconds.  Strain into cocktail glasses.

Another drink that is fabulous is my Dad’s Egg Nog recipe.  In our family this is an Easter drink; however, I know many families drink it at Christmas.  This recipe does call for raw eggs.  I found this article from ABC News about Raw Eggs in EggNog

Here is the recipe:

  • 4 oz eggs
  • 20 oz milk
  • 2 cup eggnog (or french vanilla) ice cream
  • 2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 2 oz rum
  • 2 oz brandy (preferably cognac)

Place all of the above ingredients in a blender and mix well.  Serves 8 cups.  If you wish to make egg white topping, be sure to separate the 4 eggs and place the yolks in the blender only, setting the whites aside until last.  Place whites in separate bowl and mix with beaters at high speed, slowly adding a little sugar (about 3 tsps) and 1/8 tsp of cream of tartar.  When the whites form peaks, serve on top of each cup with a small sprinkling of nutmeg, if desired.

Do you have any holiday beverages that you love?  Feel free to share!

Not Your Usual Sweet Potato Casserole

Thanksgiving is just a week away – I can’t believe it!  Are you ready?  I’m not – good thing I’m not the cook in the family.  I’m responsible for the wine.

A staple growing up in my family was Candied Sweet Potatoes and I despise them! I’m not sure why – I love butter, brown sugar and sweet potatoes (well at least baked or roasted) – somehow the combination just isn’t in my wheel house. The funny thing is between my brother and I – I’m the one with the sweet tooth – can’t stand them and he LOVES them!

Now onto the Sweet Potato Casserole recipe. When I lived in the NoVA area in 1995 – we had a Thanksgiving potluck at work and a co-worker (originally from S. Carolina) brought this in as her covered dish – I loved it.

I don’t have it often because I’m the lone person in our family who doesn’t like our family Candied Sweets.  So I thought I’d share it in case someone wants to try something new (and note – no marshmallows either!).

Sweet Potato Casserole

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees

Ingredients:

  • 1 large can of sweet potatoes or yams (drained) (you can use fresh too – you will need to boil and peel them 🙂 )
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp clove
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 1/4 cup Kahlua

Mix all ingredients and put into buttered baking dish.

Topping Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 TBS Kahlua

Cook over stove until butter and sugar mixes together.  Stir in pecans and Kahlua.  Spread mixture over potatoes.  I sometimes make extra of the topping and add to the mixture (this might be my favorite part of the casserole).

Bake 30 minutes at 325 degrees.

What is your favorite Thanksgiving side dish?

Happy Thanksgiving!!

New Yummy Finds from Trader Joe’s

Last week after my Spin class I stopped into Trader Joe’s to get their unsweetened Almond Milk.  And to my dismay – they no longer carry it in the boxed form – they carry it in the refrigerated section – not overly happy.

almond milkI should’ve left then but nooooo – I had continue walking around and I spied these lovely little cookies.

They are yummy in coffee, tea and milk - I had to try all 3 so you would know!

They are yummy in coffee, tea and milk – I had to try all 3 so you would know!

I was telling a co-worker about these yummy little things and she told me that Speculoos also has something else at Trader Joe’s called Cookie Butter and people put it in their coffee to make a latte.  She sent me the recipe today so I had to get it as it sounded yummy.  I actually walked passed it today – but did find it just to the left of the other butters (Almond and Peanut).  The description on the label says:  A deliciously unusual spread reminiscent of gingerbread and made with crushed biscuits.  

The original Cookie Butter Latte and ingredients

The original Cookie Butter Latte and ingredients

While checking out of Trader Joe’s – the person helping me said – “the Cookie Butter should be a controlled substance.”

So I made the recipe above tonight (sort of – I adjusted it – not as much Cookie Butter, decaf coffee and I foamed the light cream-warmed of course.  Honestly just too much stuff in the coffee and I really didn’t taste much of the Cookie Butter.  So then I decided to get a spoon out and try it – OHEMGEE – it is a spreadable version of the yummy cookies!

So then I found this recipe.  So much better and easier for me (I will probably experiment with the amount of Cookie Butter since 1 TBSP is 5 grams of sugar).  I tried with decaf (so I’m not up all night).  And instead of  almond milk I used light cream – heated 20 seconds in the microwave and used my little frother.  It is delicious!  You must try it!! Enjoy!

My favorite Pumpkin Pie

Thanksgiving is right around the corner.  I thought I’d share my favorite Pumpkin Pie recipe.

I’d like to share the story behind this recipe.  Growing up my Dad had this paperback James Beard cookbook that was his go to cookbook (great recipes but also basic instructions).  My Dad loves to cook – he was always in charge of our Sunday dinners – which were always special growing up.  I’m not sure when he got the book – it might have been a wedding shower gift – I just know it is old and falling apart.  Lots of great family favorites from the cookbook – an awesome stuffed pork chop, blueberry pie, chateau briand and of course the pumpking pie.  For years, my Dad would look at old bookstores to see if he could find another copy as his was really falling apart.  It was such a cherished part of our childhood it was even discussed who would get this cookbook in the will – I graciously said my brother since I’m more of a baker.

There is no need to worry – my brother and I won’t be fighting over it.  One Thanksgiving about 10 years or so ago, we were discussing the cookbook and I decided to see if I could find it on eBay for my Dad.  As luck would have it – I was able to find 3 copies – before I would buy – I checked to make sure it had the porkchop, blueberry and pumpkin pie recipes.  We found out that the cookbook was a monthly selection from a book club – it wasn’t Book of the Month Club (which would’ve been funny as my Mom worked there when I was in college and retired from there).  The James Beard Cookbook was originally published in 1959, re-released in 1961 and my edition is printed from 1970.

Here is our adaptation of the original recipe from newly revised The James Beard Cookbook:

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of strained cooked pumpkin (yes – my Dad uses fresh pumpkin) – you can also use canned pumpkin too – just make sure it isn’t the pumpkin pie filling – Libby’s 100% pure pumpkin or Trader Joe’s organic pumpkin
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1/4 cup of cognac – we prefer brandy (when my Dad started making this he had Brandy in the house and one year he went back to the original recipe – we didn’t like it with the congac – too strong
  • 6 eggs lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup of finely shredded preserved ginger 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Mix all ingredients until well blended.  Pour into pie shell** and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes or until the filling is set around the edges but still a little runny in the center.

**Mom-Mom’s Pie Crust Recipe

  • 1 1/2 cup sifted flour (and yes you need to sift it)
  • 3 TBS ice water
  • 1/2 cup crisco
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Make a paste with 1/4 cup flour and 3 TBSP ice water.  Cut in crisco and flour to the size of peas and then add paste.  Mix and roll out.

Homemade Whipped Cream – this is from a sweet potato pie recipe and is so yummy.

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 T powdered sugar
  • 2 T brandy

In medium mixing bowl, beat together cream, powdered sugar and brandy until stiff peaks form.  Serve alongside with each wedge of pie.  If you don’t want to use the brandy – you could use 1 tsp of pure vanilla extract.

We love this pumpkin pie with vanilla ice cream and or homemade whipped cream!  And of course it goes very well with a great cup of coffee.  You have to eat this fast too – since no preservatives (if using the fresh pumpkin).  I’ve been known to have it for breakfast too. Enjoy!

PS:  Now if I actually made the pie – I’d post some pictures – however, this is a job my Dad has and the tradition continues with my brother.  I’m in charge of the wine and setting the table at Thanksgiving! 🙂  I did buy some canned pumpkin so maybe one of these days I’ll make the pie.  Have a great day!!

A little something sweet…

I love dessert. There are times where I’d rather skip dinner and go right to dessert. I know I’ve had ice cream for dinner at least once or twice (especially Creamery Ice Cream) in my life. 🙂

I wanted something sweet after dinner tonight and I went for a South Beach (probably the only recipe from that diet I remember) staple, Ricotta Creme.  I love chocolate so of course mine has chocolate in it.

Here is my version:

  • 1/4 cup of ricotta cheese
  • 5 drops of liquid stevia
  • capful of vanilla extract
  • Ghiradelli choc chips – to taste
  • Pecans – to taste

A bit of a ‘turtle’ type dessert minus the caramel.  It really hit the spot!

“Elaine Salad”

I had planned on grilling two filet mignons tonight – one for dinner and one for leftovers later this week.  The filets weren’t quite thawed and honestly I just wasn’t feeling it tonight.

I knew I wanted an Elaine Salad – aka a big salad – ‘its a salad, only bigger – with lots of stuff’ (although I’m not sure mine would be considered it lots of stuff – but it had enough).  I also had some fresh lettuce – picked from my neighbor’s garden yesterday.  So off to the fridge to see what protein I had and low and behold I had some Halloumi Cheese (purchased from Wegman’s).  This is cheese you can GRILL – yes I said GRILL.

Here is a view of it first on the grill:

Halloumi just placed on the grill (~300 degrees)

Halloumi just placed on the grill (~300 degrees)

You want it to get grill marks and you want it to look a bit like chicken when your grill it.  Something like this:

Halloumi Cheese with grill marks - looks a bit like chicken.

Halloumi Cheese with grill marks – looks a bit like chicken.

The rest of my salad included:  fresh lettuce, organic cranberries, pistachios and roasted peppers.  I also made homemade dressing – fig balsamic vinegar, EVOO, Dijon Mustard, Mediterranean oregano, fresh ground pepper and fresh ground himalyan pink salt.  I shook it up in a cruet (it has a line for vinegar, water and oil – I ignored the water line and just filled the vinegar up to the water line).  Making fresh, homemade dressing for you salad is so easy and good for you since you decide what goes in it.

Here is the final picture of the salad (note I did leave the cheese on a little longer – I burnt the one side – still very tasty).  The salad my not look like an Elaine Salad – it was – that salad was in a big salad bowl!

Yummy Halloumi Salad

Yummy Halloumi Salad