Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Strawberry Fool, Blogger CLUE


Living in California's Central Valley, I have easy access to an abundance of fruits and vegetables. And, this time of year, the strawberries are popping up at roadside stands every day.  It is so hard to drive past those beautiful flats filled with red, luscious strawberries.  You see it is Blogger CLUE time and our theme for this month is "berries"!   Great choice for spring.  Wait! Guess I should hold on a minute as you may be wondering, "What is Blogger CLUE?"

I have participated in this group's recipe exchange for the last two months.  It is so much fun.  Here's how it works:  1) a blog is assigned; 2) a clue is provided, 3) find a recipe that matches the clue!  This was dreamed up by Liz at That Skinny Chick Can Bake.  Thank you Liz and fellow Blogger CLUE helpers...AND, a big thank you to all CLUE. bloggers for sharing some amazing recipes!

So back to the theme, "berries".  I was assigned Liz's blog, That Skinny Chick Can Bake, and after perusing for a loooong time, I selected the raspberry.  I had just seen some beautiful, plump raspberries and was determined that I would find just the right recipe.   Needless to say, I found a few recipes: Raspberry Mousse, Raspberry Chicken and Raspberry Brie Bites.  Yum! Somewhere along the way I learned that Liz is a raspberry fan so what better place to find a recipe using raspberries??  I have followed Liz's blog since 2010, when she started blogging, as we both began about the same time, and I was fascinated by her specialty and love....all of those wonderfully sweet dishes.   Choices were not limited on her blog.

So why is my post about strawberries?  (No, I am not confused.)  You see pictures of strawberries because it seems that the beautiful raspberries I had seen vaporized and in their place were some not so pretty ones.....

Since my choices at Liz's blog are not limited....I was on my way to the roadside stand....moving on to strawberries!  I decided to make the Strawberry Fool.

I made the recipe twice.  The first time I made it to take to a friend's for dinner.  We all loved it.  It had just the right amount of sweetness and the strawberry flavor was perfect....the problem was that I should have doubled the recipe.  There were four of us and it's not that we wanted a lumberjack serving "grin" but a little more would have been nice.

So, I decided to make it again.  This time I doubled the recipe for four people....except that I wanted some additional strawberries for the bottom of the glasses so I added about four more large berries.  I used the martini glasses for the adults and small glasses for my granddaughter and me!


Strawberry Fool

Serves: 4

6 ounces strawberries, hulled and medium dice
1/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon sugar, divided
Pinch of salt
1/4 tsp finely grated lemon zest
3/4 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
Fresh strawberries and mint for garnish, optional

Cook the diced strawberries, sugar and salt in a small saucepan, stirring occasionally until the mixture starts to simmer.  Add the lemon zest and lemon juice.  Bring the mixture to a boil and cook for two minutes.  Remove the pan from the heat.  Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature and then chill it in the refrigerator until cold.

Once the berries are cold, whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form.  Add vanilla and the remaining Tablespoon of sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.  

Reserve about 2 Tablespoons of berries.  Fold the remaining berries into the whipped cream.

Divide the mixture between four serving dishes.  Add a few teaspoons of berries on top of each serving.  Garnish with fresh berries and mint, if desired.

NOTE:  
1) If you desire additional berries so that you can layer it in a serving dish, you may wish to double the strawberry and sugar mixture.  
2) For four people I would suggest increasing the recipe by one half.



If you are curious about how the Fool originated, it is included in my previous post



Sunday, May 10, 2015

Spicy Caribbean Shrimp, SRC


Sometimes there is a reason that we do what we do.  For example, this month I found a recipe the first day I received my Secret Recipe Club assignment, Corey's blog, Learning Patience. There was a bag of shrimp in the freezer so I figured, "Why delay?" We had planned to have shrimp that night anyway, so, Spicy Caribbean Shrimp became the main course.  Besides, I wanted time to try out the other tantalizing recipes that I had found, such as Shrimp, Avocado and Tomato Salad and Asparagus, Mushroom and Artichoke Strata.  I determined that I was going to spend the month cooking yummy things and then choose one for the SRC post.

But then...you know the phrase, "The best laid plans.....?" It's the one by Scottish poet, Robert Burns, "The best laid schemes o' mice an' men / Gang aft a-gley." Well, that's what happened.  "The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry."  Today we most often think of those words in relationship to John Steinbeck who coined the phrase in his work, Of Mice and Men. It became very real for us recently.

As I said, that is exactly what happened.  The mister and I made the shrimp, I took a few pictures and didn't think about it again.  Then, I went to Seattle to do some granddaughter sitting and everything went awry! While I was gone, Terry got very sick and after five days, ended up in the hospital. The chain of events got worse for him as the infection was resistant to the medications he was given. After bringing in an infectious disease specialist, another treatment protocol was determined, he quickly responded, and he is recovering at home.....very weak and doing lots of resting.

It was at that point the I got the reminder about the SRC post.  Thank goodness for reminders.  And, while I didn't get to "cook yummy things all month and choose one..."  I feel very thankful that I was an early bird and prepared the dish right away.  I am also confident about the Spicy Caribbean Shrimp that we made. It was delicious...and we agreed that it was even more flavorful the second day.  We did change the preparation method.  We allowed the shrimp to sit in the marinade for about 15-20 minutes and then Terry put the shrimp on skewers and popped them onto the barbecue.  I made a Caribbean rice to accompany the shrimp and the meal was quite tasty!


Spicy Caribbean Shrimp
adapted from Learning Patience

2 pounds fresh or frozen raw shrimp, peeled and deveined, leave the tails on
4 Tbsp Coconut Rum
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp salt
2 limes, juiced
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro, for garnish

Rinse the shrimp and pat dry.  If the shrimp is frozen, be certain to thaw it first. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together the rum, olive oil, curry powder, cayenne, allspice and coriander. Set aside. Place the shrimp in a bowl and toss to coat.  OR, place the shrimp in a zip lock bag, pour the marinade over the shrimp and allow to sit for 15 to 20 minutes.  

Bring out the skillet OR, heat up the grill.

Skillet Method:  Heat the remaining one tablespoon of oil in a large skillet.  Remove the shrimp from the bowl and cook in the skillet a minute or two until done (They are done when they become opaque.)  Sprinkle with salt while cooking.

When the shrimp are cooked, remove them from the pan, toss with lime juice and sprinkle with chopped cilantro!

Grill Method:  Remove the shrimp from the marinade and place on skewers.  Sprinkle with salt. Grill the shrimp 1-2 minutes, turn and grill an additional 30 seconds to a minute. They will become opaque and firm when they are ready.  Watch them closely being careful to not overcook the shrimp.

 Remove the shrimp from the grill and lay the skewers on a platter. Squeeze fresh lime juice over the shrimp and sprinkle with chopped cilantro.

PRINTABLE RECIPE

Both of us enjoy Caribbean food so trying this recipe was a no-brainer for us.  I found the subtle flavor of the coconut very nice.  While the spices used in the dish were flavorful and spicy-hot, we did not think the shrimp was too hot.  It was fun to give this recipe a try and see where it would take us....I imagined tropical beaches with palm trees swaying and refreshing drinks with little umbrellas! It was a pleasant journey.

Corey at Learning Patience does just that....journey....she and her husband are quite adventurous and after their first year of married life, they decided to experience the world.  They moved to Trinidad and then to London where they currently reside....oh, and they travel everywhere in-between at every opportunity. Corey's blog is all about cooking, running and traveling. Her adventures are many with some cooking along the way...one must eat, you know!


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Sunday, April 26, 2015

Chicken and Mushrooms in Lemon Sauce

I am one of those people who collects cookbooks and along with the cookbooks, come the cooking magazines and newspaper clippings of recipes, but why stop there?  There are a multitude of websites dedicated to cooking....there are cooking show, chef and blogging websites, there are also recipes at brand name websites, and yes, each recipe can be printed.  So along with cookbooks, magazines, and clippings, there is a stack of papers, all of which need to be sorted or labeled in some way so that the special recipe can be found once it has been set aside with the good intention of making it....someday! So the question is:  Why haven't I organized everything?  Do I just enjoy watching the pile grow and the cupboard fill up?  Am I such a pack rat that I cannot make myself toss anything?  Or, has it become so overwhelming that I cannot face looking at any of it?  Is there just not a system?  I wish I could answer the question.  

So, just how are all of the resources managed?  At the moment, I am filing papers horizontally.  (Yes, I know that solves nothing....but it is somewhat tidy.)  And, just when I think I am going to start weeding the cookbooks....I find that one cookbook that is dogeared and stained, with pages falling out and notations here and there.  And, as I page through, I know that this is the one that I will be cooking from this week....I am easily distracted from weeding....

I did pour myself a glass of white wine as I began to gather together the ingredients while the mister pounded the chicken breasts to even them out...just a bit.  This is a recipe that we both remembered for the tender chicken and the wonderful flavor...and, the best part, it goes together easily! 


Chicken and Mushrooms in Lemon Sauce
adapted from Pacific Fresh by Maryana Vollstedt

Yield:  4 to 6 servings

5 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided
3/4 pound fresh mushrooms, thickly sliced
6 green onions, sliced, include some of the green tops, also
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup flour
1/8 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sweet paprika
4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, pounded slightly to even out
1/4 cup dry white wine
Juice of 1 lemon
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Melt 2 Tablespoons butter in a large pan over medium heat.  Add the mushrooms, onions, and garlic and saute until slightly soft, about 3-5 minutes.  Remove them to a plate with a slotted spoon.

Mix together the flour, pepper, salt and paprika on a plate.  Dust the chicken pieces with the flour mixture, coating them evenly.

Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter to the pan and melt over medium heat.  Add the chicken pieces (be careful not to crowd them) and brown them on all sides, turning frequently, about 15 minutes.  Remove the chicken from the pan and place it on the dish with the mushrooms and onions.

Add wine and lemon juice to the pan and bring it to a boil.  Using a wooden spoon, stir and loosen the browned bits.  Reduce the liquid by one fourth, about 1 minute.

Return chicken and mushroom mixture to the pan.  Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the chicken is tender and the juices run clear, about 8-10 minutes.  Add the parsley and serve immediately.

Note:  Serve the chicken with rice or noodles to absorb some of the delicious sauce.  The original recipe called for 8 chicken breast halves.  I reduced that by half but left the remaining proportions the same.  I love the extra sauce!



As was recommended with the Chicken Marsala, I reduced the number of chicken breasts and kept the amounts the same for everything else....who doesn't enjoy a few extra mushrooms and a little extra sauce with their meal?

This is a dish that can be served to company and you know that they will love it as much as you do. Yes, it is one of those dishes that must be finished just before serving...but, enjoy the wine and the conversation as you finish the sauce!

And.....I have determined to attack the cookbook issue by going back and weeding....and cooking can be the treat when I finish that task!

I am sharing today at Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Cottage.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Buca Garlic Mashed Potatoes

I remember the first time that I had garlic mashed potatoes.  It was in Claremont when my daughter was in college.  We decided to go to Buca Di Beppo Italian Restaurant.  Just walking in the door and I was in love...the aromas were heavenly.  Everybody said that the Garlic Mashed Potatoes had to be ordered regardless of what entry was selected.  I figured if they were that good, then I had to try them.

The potatoes did not disappoint...yes, there was garlic but there was another flavor that I couldn't figure out.  The combination of the two had me convinced that I would be back and that I would eventually figure out the second ingredient.

I found a reference to Buca Garlic Potatoes on Miz Helen's blog earlier this year and knew that I had to try them.  If they were anything like Buca's I was certain to love them.


Buca Garlic Mashed Potatoes

2 lbs (8 medium) red skin potatoes, washed (peeled or unpeeled, cook's choice)
1/4 cup minced garlic
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp salt
Fresh ground pepper
1 cup grated Romano Cheese
1/2 cup butter
Milk
2 Tbsp chopped parsley

Place the washed potatoes in a large pot, cover with cold water and some salt.  Cook the potatoes over medium heat until they come to a full boil.  Reduce heat to low, cover and continue cooking until the potatoes are very soft.  Drain the potatoes.

While the potatoes are cooking, mince the garlic.

Transfer the potatoes to a large mixing bowl or use the pan the potatoes were cooked in.  Use a potato masher to initially crush the potatoes.  Add the garlic, oregano, salt, a couple twists of fresh ground pepper, cheese, butter and about 1/4 cup milk.  With a potato masher or with a hand mixer, mash and mix in all of the ingredients.  Add additional milk to get the potatoes to the desired consistency.

Garnish with chopped parsley.

Notes:  I would reduce the amount of garlic and increase the amount of milk when making these a second time. That amount of garlic was over-powering to us.  I also needed to add more milk to get a better consistency.



While we prefer more of a hint of garlic, these would be great for those who love a strong garlic flavor.  I think that I will play with this recipe just a bit to see if I can get the flavors adjusted. The next time I make them I will use Gruyere cheese instead of the Romano just for fun.

I am sharing today at Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Cottage and Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Rattlebridge Farm.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Crack Dip...Really!

I couldn't pass up a recipe named Award Winning "Crack Dip"........who could?  Sounds intriguing. How did it get its name?  Well, Michaela at an Affair from the Heart, says it is so because it is addicting.  It is one of those dips that goes to the party and folks hoover over it and before the evening really gets started, they are gazing at an empty bowl!


I learned about Michaela's blog because she was my assignment for the Secret Recipe Club this month.   She is a gal after my heart...she too is a believer that the family should eat dinner together and she made certain that the family gathered together for the evening meal and, as was often the case at our house, whomever was there or whomever stopped by was also welcome!   There was always plenty of food.  It is the best way to share the day...

I have to admit that as I paged through her blog, I had a really hard time trying to choose which recipe I was going to make.  I really wanted to make her....."the best" Bloody Mary.  Like me she loves her Bloody Mary spicy with a salad on top!  I did get all of the ingredients and I will be making them...  Then I was distracted by her Frozen Triple Berry Lemonade and the Slow Cooker Green Chile Chicken Enchilada Casserole.  But...the Crack Dip kept calling to me.....much like an addiction I imagine, and I hadn't tasted it yet!

For the recipe to really step up and knock you over, it must sit overnight or all day before serving....Michaela suggests twelve hours.  I, of course, couldn't wait....I had some right away and she is right...to really get the full impact of flavors, it needs to rest.  Mr. T and I had it the next day....oh my goodness, I kept hoping it would have an alarm that said, "Please step away from the bowl."   To help myself, I packaged some up and sent it away so others could enjoy the addiction.  "smile"



Crack Dip

Yield:  About 5-6 cups

2 cans Mexicorn, drained
1 can green chiles, drained
1/2 cup Deli-sliced jalapeno peppers, chopped
Tops of 1 to 2 bunches of green onions, sliced (I only used one bunch of onions and included some of the light green onion, too.)
8-ounce package of Shredded Mexican Blend Cheese
1 cup real mayonnaise
1 cup real sour cream
Tortilla chips for serving

Mix together the mayonnaise and sour cream.  Stir in the remaining ingredients and place in the refrigerator.  Let the dip sit at least twelve hours before serving.  Serve with tortilla chips.

Variation:  Since the recipe makes quite a bit of dip...about 5-6 cups, we had a great deal left after our initial fix.  So Mr. T. thought we should use up the last four slices of bacon and add that to the mix...  He chopped up the bacon and cooked until crisp.  After letting it cool, he stirred it in.  Oh my...maybe it is now Crack on Steroids!

PRINTABLE RECIPE

No, I do not know what it is about this dip that has one scooping up bite after bite.  But I do know that I will take it to the next party.  I will probably add a few crudities to go along with the tortilla chips...that can be my rationale for eating just one more bite...before the alarm goes off!



Saturday, April 11, 2015

David's Chicken Marsala

Sometimes there are dishes that have a broad appeal.  I think that is the way with David Lebovitz's Chicken Marsala  recipe.  I first saw it on his blog, here.   Then Monique at La Table De Nana tried it and said it was worth making again.  That was followed by Penny at Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen who had also seen Monique's post and made a variation.  Well, there you have it...from my perspective, Chicken Marsala was a must to make.  Monique mentioned that she only used two chicken breasts but didn't reduce the sauce accordingly.  That was a great recommendation and as Monique says, "You can't have too much sauce."  That is what I did...and I agree with Monique!


This is one recipe that I can see being repeated for company or just the two of us.  It was delicious and worthy of numerous repetitions!

Chicken Marsala
adapted from David Lebovitz's blog Living the Sweet Life in Paris

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut in half crosswise
salt and freshly ground pepper
10 oz mushrooms, stems trimmed and sliced
3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup chicken stock
1 tsp corn starch
2/3 cup Marsala wine (preferably dry)
1 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp chopped parsley

Place the breasts in a ziplock or between sheets of wax paper and pound to 1/2-inch thickness.  Place in a bowl and season with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

In a large skillet, melt 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter over high heat.  When butter sizzles, add the sliced mushrooms, season with salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally until the mushrooms are seared and cooked through, 6-8 minutes.  Add the minced garlic to the mushrooms and cook, stirring for about a minute.

Scrape the mushrooms and garlic onto a plate.  Wipe the pan clean to remove any bits of garlic.

Dredge half of the chicken in flour, shake off any excess.  Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter.  Add the chicken in a single layer, do not crowd.  If you are using a large skillet and they won't be crowded, all of the breasts may be cooked at once.

Saute the breasts, cooking and turning midway until browned on both sides.  When browned remove them to a plate.  If cooking half of the chicken at a time, repeat the above with the remaining chicken pieces.  While the chicken is cooking, stir the cornstarch into the chicken stock until completely dissolved, then mix it into the Marsala.

When the chicken has been removed from the pan, pour about one-third of the Marsala mixture into the pan, scraping up any browned bits.  Add the remaining Marsala mixture to the pan, then return the mushrooms and the chicken pieces to the skillet.

Cook the chicken and mushrooms with the sauce over a medium heat.  Turn the chicken pieces occasionally to make certain that they are basted in the sauce.  Continue cooking until the chicken is cooked and the sauce has thickened, about 5-6 minutes.  Remove from the heat.  Stir in the remaining tablespoon of butter, the balsamic vinegar and the chopped parsley.  Taste the sauce and season with salt if needed.

Serve the Chicken Marsala with warm, wide noodles.

PRINTABLE RECIPE


We had enough left over for a second meal.  We were both sorry to see it disappear!

I am sharing today at Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Cottage.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Cowboy Vegetable Scramble, Blogger CLUE

It is April....already.  School will be out in eight weeks, the sun will be baking us with its rays and there will be nary a breeze to enjoy.  Geez, the things I have to look forward to...  Sounds pretty depressing, doesn't it?  But, let's enjoy today...it is breezy, there is a possibility of rain and the sun's rays are a welcome warmth.  That sounds like a much better picture and there is a lot to look forward to...

Today, I am looking forward to the Blogger C.L.U.E. reveal day.  It is the second time that I have participated in this group's recipe exchange.  It is so much fun.  So, here's the deal:  1) a blog is assigned; 2) a clue is provided, 3) find a recipe that matches the clue!  This was dreamed up by Liz at That Skinny Kid Can Bake.  Thank you Liz and thank you fellow C.L.U.E. bloggers for sharing some rock solid recipes!

I was so excited to be assigned Making Miracles authored by Rebekah.  I loved her words to live by:

There are only two ways to live your life.
One is as though nothing is a miracle.
The other is as though everything is a miracle.
-Albert Einstein

I quickly started sifting through Rebekah's blog.  I landed on a wonderful beverage...a Red Wine Berry Cooler, very sangria-esque she says...I was sold.  But then, I found a recipes for Baked Potato Skins and Pretzel Bites with Mustard.  Those would go with the Sangria.   But wait, I forgot all about the clue....I needed a vegetable recipe!  Sadly, no wine for me today, no pretzels either.  Back to the recipe index......Then, I found it, Cowboy Scramble.  We had just gotten home from vacation and I hadn't done any major grocery shopping.  This matched the clue and the available groceries!

I made a few adjustments as I was only serving two and added two vegetables that were in the frig in need of a recipe.  We usually do not fry in a large amount of oil so we used our method for preparing the potatoes.  I guess this could become a scramble but I took Rebekah's suggestion and added a fried egg on top!


Cowboy Vegetable Scramble
adapted from Rebekah at Making Miracles

Yield 2 servings

5-6 small white or red potatoes
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 - 1 tsp hot sauce (optional), not Tabasco
1/4 - 1/2 small onion, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
6 mushrooms, sliced
1 handful of spinach, trimmed and sliced in strips
4 thin tomato slices
1/3 - 1/2 lb. ground sausage
1 - 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
2 eggs, fried
1 Tbsp chopped parsley (optional)

Place the potatoes in a skillet and cover with water.  Bring it to a simmer.  Cook until the potatoes are just starting to become soft.  Drain.  Add one tablespoon of butter and one tablespoon of olive oil, and hot sauce, if desired.  Continue cooking the potatoes on medium-low heat until soft.  Stirring occasionally.  When soft, remove from heat and set aside.

In another skillet, combine crumbled sausage, onion and pepper and cook until it is no longer pink. Halfway through add the mushrooms and toward the end stir in the spinach.  When the spinach is wilted, add the potatoes and stir to mix. Wipe out the potato skillet.

Top the mixture with the desired amount of cheese.  Cover with a lid and remove from the heat. Allow to sit for five minutes to let the cheese melt and while you fry the eggs in the skillet used for the potatoes.

Dish up the potatoes, sausage and veggies.  Top with two slices of tomato and place the egg on top.
Sprinkle with parsley if desired and serve!



Rebekah, thank you for the great recipe!  We were so jetlagged after our travel, and with our inner clocks so very confused, we had breakfast for dinner.  It was quite filling..it is sure to become a family favorite!  Delicious.  I am still going to make the Red Wine Berry Cooler to go with the potato skins and the pretzel bites!



Join me as I check out the April recipes from fellow C.L.U.E. participants!