Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Chunky Beets and Icy Red Onions

I have loved beets.  We had them regularly when I was growing up.  What can be better than a pickled egg and beets?  Not much.  Last week we got fresh beets in our weekly veggie box and I was looking for something new to try.  I also hadn't been consistent in participating in French Fridays with Dorie so I visited her site and pulled out Around My French Table.  Chunky Beets and Icy Red Onions was on the list to prepare so that is what I did!

The dressing was a wonderful mixture that has sherry vinegar, honey, Dijon and fresh oregano!  It is chilled and poured over the beets.  Yum!  We loved the salad.

Would I make it again?  You bet.  I would, however, cut back on the onion.   For us, a little onion would be better.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Boats Have Many Looks!

I fell in love with Amsterdam when we visited last fall.  It is a city of many surprises and looks.  We spent our visit on foot, except for the short canal tour, and enjoyed exploring and sampling the menus at many restaurants.

The waterways wind through the city with each one mooring many colorful, beautiful boats.  Take a look...

Boats are for traveling...

 Boats are for living...

Sometimes there is no place to moor your boat...I guess one would call this double mooring!

Boats are for recreation...and sometimes, boats are forgotten...

I am anxious to visit Amsterdam again.  We had a wonderful trip!

I am participating in Outdoor Wednesday hosted by Susan at A Southern Daydreamer.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Grilled Rib-Eye Steak with Chipotle Honey Glaze and Roasted Pepper Relish

I had hoped to post this along with the wonderful mojito that I posted last week but was delayed.  So here, as promised it Bobby's wonderful steak and glaze.  The glaze that is used on this steak is a great combination of sweet and smokey with just a bit of heat.  The Kitchen Gnome raved about it.  In fact, he talked about it for three days.  He used the remaining glaze over the weekend...that recipe is for another time.

Original recipe by Bobby Flay

Serves: 2

Roasted Pepper Relish
2 roasted red peppers, drained and cut into thin strips (I used roasted whole sweet peppers.)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.

Chipotle Honey Glaze
½ cup honey
1 tablespoon chipotle puree
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Whisk together the honey, chipotle puree, Dijon, oil and salt in a small bowl until combined.  The glaze is much better if you let it sit for at least thirty minutes before using. 

Two 16-ounce rib-eye steaks
Canola oil
Salt and coarsely ground black pepper
Cilantro sprigs

1. Heat your grill to high or preheat your broiler. Brush the steaks with oil and season liberally with salt and pepper on both sides.  

If using the grill: Brush the steaks with oil and season liberally with salt and pepper on both sides. Place the steaks on the grill and grill until golden brown and slightly charred, 4-5 minutes. Turn the steaks over and continue grilling for 5-6 minutes longer for medium-rare doneness. During the last minute of cooking, liberally brush the top of the steaks with some of the chipotle-honey glaze. Remove from the grill and brush with more of the glaze. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

2. Top each steak with a large dollop of the roasted pepper relish. Garnish with cilantro sprigs.

This is totally a recipe I would repeat.  I am not the biggest fan of rib-eye so I would select a different cut of meat.  I was partial to the roasted pepper relish.  It was absolutely delicious!!


Monday, July 18, 2011

Dessert First and The Secret Recipe Club - Chewy Coconut-Lime Sugar Cookies

There are some days when one just needs to have dessert first!  I was having that feeling when I received my first blog assignment for The Secret Recipe Club hosted by Amanda at Amanda's Cookin'.  In this club food bloggers get together, their blog names are drawn and randomly distributed among one another, like a Secret Santa.  No one knows who is assigned their blog until the reveal date.

Being in a dessert first mood when I received my assignment, I went directly to Tessa's blog, The Cookin' Chemist!  I immediately found a cookie recipe that begged to be baked.  Chewy Coconut-Lime Sugar Cookies is the perfect summer cookie.  How can one pass up a cookie that has lime in its name?  These are the lightest, most flavorful, chewy cookies I have ever made.  They met the taste test...the Kitchen Gnome raved about them, my neighbor loved them and asked for the recipe as did my friends.

The only thing I did differently was decorate the top with raw sugar instead of regular granulated sugar.

Chewy Coconut-Lime Sugar Cookies
The Cookin' Chemist and Nov/Dec 2010 Cook's Illustrated


2-1/4 cups (11-1/4 oz) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut  

1/2 tsp. table salt

1-1/2 cups (10-1/2 oz) sugar, plus 1/3 cup for rolling

2 oz. cream cheese, cut into 8 pieces 

1 tsp. finely grated lime zest

6 Tbsp. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted and still warm

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 large egg

1 Tbsp. milk

1 Tbsp. lime juice

Adjust the oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, coconut, and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.  Place 1-1/2 cups sugar, cream cheese, and lime zest in a large bowl. Place remaining 1/3 cup sugar in shallow baking dish or pie plate and set aside.  

Pour warm butter over sugar and cream cheese and whisk to combine (some small lumps of cream cheese will remain but will smooth out later). Whisk in oil until incorporated. Add egg, milk, and lime juice; continue to whisk until smooth. Add flour mixture and mix with rubber spatula until soft homogeneous dough forms. 

The final dough will be slightly softer than most cookie dough. For the best results, handle the dough as briefly as possible when shaping the cookies. Overworking the dough will result in flatter cookies. 

Divide dough into 24 equal pieces, about 2 tablespoons each. Using hands, roll dough into balls. Working in batches, roll balls in reserved sugar to coat and evenly space on prepared baking sheet, 12 dough balls per sheet. Using the bottom of a drinking glass, flatten dough balls until 2 inches in diameter. Sprinkle tops evenly with 4 teaspoons sugar, remaining in shallow dish (2 teaspoons per cookie sheet), discard any remaining sugar. 

Bake, 1 tray at a time, until edges are set and just beginning to brown, 11 to 13 minutes, rotating the tray after 7 minutes. Cool cookies on baking sheets for 5 minutes. Using wide metal spatula, transfer cookies to wire rack and cool to room temperature.


I was going to have chicken after my dessert so I perused what Tessa had cookin' in that area.  I found recipe after recipe that I knew we would like.  It was decided that we would make the Chicken Shawarma.  The problem I ran into was finding the tahini paste.  After checking in three stores I decided that I would have to use the Tahini Sauce that I found.  I decided it should work and after tasting it I just increased the amount to three tablespoons.

Chicken Shawarma

The Cookin' Chemist and Cooking Light 

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced into strips (I used three chicken breasts.)
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. curry powder
2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
3 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 c. plain reduced-fat Greek yogurt
2 Tbsp. tahini (I used Tahini Sauce and increased the amount to 3 Tablespoons.)
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
4 pieces whole-wheat flatbread
1 c. romaine lettuce
2 tomatoes, diced

In a medium bowl, combine lemon juice, curry powder, olive oil, salt, cumin, and minced garlic. Add chicken and toss to coat. Let sit at room temperature for 20 minutes. To prepare the sauce, in a small bowl, whisk together yogurt, tahini, lemon juice, and 1 clove minced garlic. Set aside.

Spray grill grates with cooking spray and pre-heat the outdoor grill. Place chicken strips on the grill (can place on skewers if desired). Grill for 4 minutes on each side or until chicken is fully cooked. Place pitas on grill rack and grill for 1 minute on each side or until lightly toasted. Place 1 pita on each plate. Top with chicken, lettuce, tomato, and sauce.


These were delicious!  We had enough for lunch the next day.  We were eatin' good!

Since I still had three chicken breasts left to cook, I went back to Tessa's blog and decided to make the Chicken Carne Asada Tacos with Pickled Onions.

Chicken Carne Asada Tacos
with Pickled Onions

The Cookin' Chemist and Cooking Light, April 2010
Serves 4
1/2 c. fresh orange juice (about 1 orange)
1/2 c. fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 medium red onion, thinly vertically sliced
1-1/2 lbs. skinless, boneless chicken thighs (breasts) trimmed and cut into thin strips
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. ground cumin
3/4 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
cooking spray
8 (6-inch) corn tortillas
1 diced, peeled avocado 
1/2 c. (2 oz) crumbled Cotija cheese
lime wedges (optional)

Combine the first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring until sugar dissolves. Place onion in a small saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil; drain and plunge onion into ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain onion; add to juice mixture. Chill until ready to serve.

Heat a large cast-iron skillet over high heat. Sprinkle chicken with oregano, cumin, salt, and pepper; toss to coat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add chicken to pan; cook 4 minutes or until browned and done, stirring occasionally. 

Heat tortillas according to package directions. Divide chicken evenly among tortillas. Drain onion; divide evenly among tortillas. Top each tortilla with 2 Tbsp. avocado and 1 Tbsp. cheese; fold over. Serve with lime wedges if desired.


Did I mention that we were eating well?  Both of the chicken dishes were quick, easy to make, and tasty.  There was plenty left for lunch the next day too!

Tessa is a pharmacist who has a knack for creating the most exciting  and delicious meals.  I totally enjoyed cruising through Tessa's blog.  We seem to enjoy a similar cooking style and love of food.  In fact, I couldn't stop finding recipes on her blog that I wanted to prepare.  So, I chose just a few...

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Rum, Date and Pecan Ice Cream

In 1984 President Reagan designated July as National Ice Cream Month and the third Sunday of July as National Ice Cream Day as stated by the International Dairy Foods Association.  Hmmm, a day and a month dedicated to this scrumptious dessert that is consumed by 90% of the population of the United States.  In Reagan's proclamation he called for all people to observe these two events with "appropriate ceremonies and activities."  What could be a better activity than blog hop Ice Cream Socials sharing multitudes of recipes!  Suzy at Kitchen Bouquet is having an Ice Cream Social today and La at A Musing Potpourri is having one tomorrow!

When I read about President Reagan's designation I decided to do a little researching and learned that ice cream was popular with many of the nation's presidents.  It is noted that in the summer of 1790 President George Washington spent $200 for ice cream.  In 1813, at President James Madison's second inaugural banquet Dolly served a strawberry ice cream creation to guests.

President Thomas Jefferson's handwritten recipe for Ice Cream is among the many recipes at the Library of Congress.

As I tried to decipher his recipe I noticed that it is only a mixture of three ingredients:  cream, sugar and egg yolks.  I don't find a reference for the addition of vanilla.

Those three ingredients are the primary players in today's Date, Rum and Pecan Ice Cream.  I had an opportunity to sample a date shake recently and the wonderful flavor was fresh in my mind when I saw a recipe in The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz for Date, Rum and Pecan Ice Cream.  I have had great success with David's recipes so, why not give it a try?  Yum!

I went to California Fruit Depot a local fruit and nut stand to get some dates.  There were so many varieties available that I had no idea which would be the best in ice cream.  It was recommended that I use the "crown jewel of dates", the medjool dates.   They are larger than most varieties, have more meat and are sweeter.  I also learned that dates are to be stored in the freezer and that freezing them makes it easier to pit them.  They do not freeze solid due to the sugar content...they were lovely when I pulled from the freezer....delicious, too.

Date, Rum, and Pecan Ice Cream

adapted from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

Yield:  about 1 1/4 quarts


12 dates (4 ounces, 115 g) pitted
1/4 cup (60 ml) dark rum (I used Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum)

1 cup (250 ml) whole milk
2/3 cup (130 g) sugar
Big pinch of salt
1 1/4 cups (310 ml) heavy cream
6 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons dark rum (I used Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum)
1 cup Pecans, toasted


To prepare the dates, chop them into 1/2 -inch pieces. Combine the date pieces with the rum in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir. Cover and let macerate at room temperature for at least 4 hours (this can be done up to 1 day ahead).

To make the ice cream, warm the milk, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. Pour the cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top.

In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warm egg yolks back into the saucepan.

Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. Mix in the vanilla and rum, then stir until cool over an ice bath.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. During the last few minutes of churning, add the nuts and date pieces.


I don't know how to describe the ice was smooth, sweet, and delicious!  The rum didn't over-power the dessert.  It couldn't have been better.  We shared with our neighbors and they agreed....delicious!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Bobby Flay Mojitos

Today is Celebrity Cook-Along Day hosted by Lynn at Happier Than A Pig In Mud.  The featured chef this month is Bobby Flay.  Lynn had posted a wonderful rib eye with a chipotle honey glaze....that was what I had my mind set to make.  I still will make it but it will have to be a future post.

Since the mint has been wonderful this year, I have been "playing" with mojito recipes!  We tried out Bobby's recipe this week.  It was pretty good but a thought that a hint more lime and sugar would be nice.  Below is the recipe with the increases that I made.


Serves 4

4 tsp superfine sugar or simple syrup (I used 1 1/2 Tablespoon of simple syrup per glass.)
8 sprigs fresh mint
1 lime, quartered (I added/squeezed another lime quarter to top it off.)
1 cup light rum
1 liter club soda

Combine 1 tsp sugar and 2 mint sprigs in each of 4 tall (highball) glasses.  Using the back of a spoon, mash the mint leaves into the sugar.  Squeeze 1 lime quarter into each glass, then pour in 1/4 cup rum.  Add ice cubes and top off with club soda.  Serve immediately.


The drinks were refreshing and I would make them again....
probably to go with the rib eye which is next on my list!

I am also participating in Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Designs by Gollum.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Sweet Mustard Shrimp Revisited

Our gourmet group met recently.  We decided that we should take a relaxed approach to the evening...nothing fancy, just good food, good wine and good company!

It was my turn to take the appetizer and after much deliberation I decided that Sweet Mustard Shrimp would be a perfect start for our meal.  I have posted this recipe before but it is always nice to revisit those dishes that are reliable!

Sweet Mustard Shrimp

1/4 cup Dijon Mustard 
2 tsp dry mustard
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
6 Tbsp sugar
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 Tbsp fresh dill, minced (dried can be used)
2 Tbsp red onion, very finely chopped
2 lbs raw shrimp, peeled, tail on, 21-25 shrimp per pound, cooked 

Combine the first five ingredients in a bowl. Whisk in the oil. Stir in the dill and onion. Chill, tightly covered. If you are using fresh shrimp, peel and devein the shrimp. Steam or boil until done. If you are using frozen cooked shrimp, defrost in a colander under cool water, then steam or boil until done.  Place the marinade into a large Ziploc bag and add the shrimp. Seal tightly and chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight. Serve over a bed of greens.

Variation: The fresh uncooked shrimp may be marinated and then placed on a skewer and grilled on the barbecue. Grill over medium heat. When the tails begin to turn pink flip the skewers over and continue to cook until the shrimp tails are pink and the meat is opaque (white.)


This is one of those no-fail recipes that is a delicious appetizer.  They are succulent, bursting with flavor and perfect with a glass of wine!

I am participating in Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Cottage, Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Designs by Gollum, Flashback Friday hosted by Suzy at Kitchen Bouquet, and Fat Camp Friday hosted by Miranda at Mangoes and Chutney.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Butterfinger Pie the Easy Way!

Are you noticing a number of pie posts today?  Isn't social networking amazing?  I noticed an invitation to participate in a Pie Party across the internet and responded with a thumbs up.  It seems that a number of folks were discussing pies, how much they enjoy eating pie and making them and the fact that many of us are intimidated by making a pie crust.  It was suggested that July 5th be Pie Day and that pie photos be posted on Facebook and on, why not.  I always enjoy a slice of pie!

My grandmother made the absolute best rhubarb pie.  My fondest memories of my grandma's center around the numerous pies that she made and cooled on the porch railing!  My mom also makes wonderful pies.  She has the absolute best crust.  Her cherry pie is at the top of our family list.

As I thought about making a pie for today and turning on the oven, I also thought about it being 104° outside...and how hot the house was going to become so, my mind turned to an ice cream pie!  What could be better than a Butterfinger Pie!  It has myy favorite candy bar, vanilla ice cream and a graham cracker crust (make it or purchase it)....with just a touch of chocolate sauce!

This pie is really embarrassingly easy.  But on a hot day, it is just right!

Butterfinger Pie

1 (9-inch) graham cracker crust
1 quart vanilla ice cream
3 (2.1 oz) Butterfinger candy bars, coarsely crushed
chocolate sauce

Soften ice cream and evenly mix in crushed candy.  Place in graham cracker crust and freeze.  To serve top with a dollop of whipped cream, a drizzle of chocolate sauce and a sprinkle of crushed Butterfinger.


I don't usually measure on the candy bars....I crush a few and mix in enough so that I can be happy...remember, this is my favorite candy bar!!

I am participating in Make a Foodie Friend Monday hosted by The Saturday Evening Pot.