Friday, July 31, 2009

Oven Fried Okra

I am not an expert on okra. Nor am I a true Southerner.

My father-in-law showed up the other day with fresh okra, tomatoes, and squash that he had picked from the garden.

My only memories of okra as a child were not good ones. My grandpa had a huge garden and he grew everything imaginable. I mean everything. The only way he ever served okra was stewed. It was gluey, it was sticky, it was gross. Therefore, okra disappeared from my life for awhile.

Then, I married a Southerner. He loves fried okra. I have learned to like it and have made it a couple of times. Only on special occasions- like his birthday, or when someone is visiting or something like that because I don't like to fry food at home.

So, with all the okra I received, I didn't know what to do. I started looking through cookbooks and found this recipe for Oven Fried Okra from Cooking Light.
It sounded good and I was very curious to see how it would compare to the usual fried kind.

You slice the okra, soak it in buttermilk, then dredge it in cornmeal, which has a hit of cayenne, and oven fry it for about 40 minutes.

I thought it was good. Not as crunchy as fried, but still good. My kids and hubby liked it too.

But, I am not a Southerner, so I didn't mind that it wasn't just like fried okra. Some of the people who reviewed this recipe were not pleased. (you can rate and review recipes on myrecipes)

If you do make this, make sure when you are dredging the okra in the coating, that it doesn't get on there too thick. That happened to some of my pieces and they were a little dry.

I thought this made a good snack and was a nice alternative to fried okra. What do you do with okra? If you have a fave recipe, please share!

Recipe for Oven Fried Okra

Thursday, July 30, 2009

CEiMB-Cobb Salad

This week's Craving Ellie in my Belly recipe, Cobb Salad, was chosen by The Feast Within.
I haven't ever made Cobb Salad before. I decided I would serve this when my dear friend came over for dinner with her 3 kids. I prepped all the different ingredients- chopped cherry tomatoes, blue cheese, avocado, crispy ham, bell peppers (not called for in the recipe, but I had some, so I chopped them), cooked chicken, chopped hard-boiled egg, and placed each of them in a little bowl with a serving spoon. Then, I mixed the romaine and baby spinach (the recipe called for watercress) and placed them in the center of the table.

I let everyone "make" their own salad and dress it with the delicious dressing if they wanted to.
My hubby thought the layout on the table was really pretty and asked me if I had taken a picture of it. I didn't, but I was impressed by his comment. Thanks, honey!

I instead took a pic of an individual serving, minus the fabulous dressing.

This was a really great dinner. Everyone was really happy with the salads they created and I found out my 4-year old loves blue cheese.

Check out the CEiMB Blogroll to see the other tasty salads this week!

Find the Recipe for Cobb Salad here

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Rainier Cherry Crumble and Vanilla Ice Cream- Philadelphia Style

My daughter loves fruit.
Recently, she has been begging for these beauties- Rainier Cherries.
They are a little expensive, but I like it that she wants healthy foods, and I saw a buy 1, get 1 free sale, so we got 2 containers.

There was a recipe in the July issue of Cooking Light for Rainier Cherry Crumble. In the back of the magazine, at the bottom of the index, there is a little section where the magazine lists the "Greatest Hits" of that particular issue. The Rainier Cherry Crumble was a greatest hit, so I went for it.

I decided that since there are just 2 adults and 3 kids at our house, we really didn't need the full crumble, so I made 1/4 of the recipe. I also had these really cute mini dishes I wanted to use, so making a smaller amount worked perfectly.

Well, if you are having a warm fruit dessert in the summer- you have to have vanilla ice cream, right? (I love my vanilla beans)
I unpacked my ice cream maker, and remembered a great post by Nancy about David Lebovitz's Vanilla Ice Cream-Philadelphia Style- which means, no egg yolks involved. You steep the vanilla bean in the cream, meanwhile dissolving the sugar, and then it cools in the fridge for awhile. 30 minutes later, you have this stuff.

One of the other great things about this recipe, is that you don't add any sugar to the filling- just a little cornstarch and fresh lemon juice.

Sometimes warm fruit desserts, like crisps, cobblers and crumbles are too sweet for me. This one was perfect. The cherry filling was slightly tart, with the topping adding the perfect amount of sweet and crunch. The ice cream was fabulous. I used some of the leftover ice cream to make root beer floats- Yum!

The ice cream recipe says that you can use either all cream or a mixture of cream and whole milk, which is what I used.

I highly recommend both the crumble and the ice cream.

My husband ate an entire little pink dish full, so the kids and I split the other one 4 ways.
I figure eating 1/16th of a Cooking Light recipe really can't do that much damage. I hope.
And if it does, it was worth it.

Nancy's post about this ice cream

Recipe for Rainier Cherry Crumble

Please locate the recipe for David Lebovitz's Vanilla Ice Cream-Philadelphia Style here

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

TWD- Vanilla Ice Cream

Tuesday's with Dorie- it has been awhile. I haven't participated yet in July but I did make the Vanilla Ice Cream that Lynne of Cafe Lynnylu, chose for this week- last year.
And now that we are all settled in our house and I feel close to organized, I will be able to get back on track with baking and posting for TWD.
I made this ice cream last year when we made Dorie's Chocolate Chunkers for TWD, because Dorie suggested churning the cookies into her Cinnamon Ice Cream, which is a variation of her vanilla ice cream. And I had 6 egg yolks hanging out in the fridge, leftover from making a meringue of some type.
My sister loves all things cinnamon and I remember her really, really loving this cinnamon ice cream. In fact, everyone who ate it loved it. It was very, very good.
You can get the recipe from my post mentioned above or go to Lynne's blog and you will be able to find it.
Please check out the TWD Blogroll to see what other flavors and variations people made out of this week's recipe!
I also included a couple of pictures from my Perfect Party Cake back in June since I finally downloaded all my photos. That is a good cake.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Garden Sliders

I saw these little guys in a recent issue of BH&G, and thought they were just so cute. They were featured with some other yummy bbq recipes and I thought they would be perfect for our 4th of July meal.
My sister had some very delicious White Bean Hummus with Basil and Pine Nuts from Trader Joe's, so I just used that instead of making my own white bean spread. I also just roasted my veggie slices in the oven instead of on the grill and it worked out great.

I thought these were the perfect size to eat in a couple of bites and they would make a great snack. Plus they can be made ahead and chill out in the fridge for a couple of hours.

Easy and delicious is just the way my summer is going. (Too bad all of that is going out the window since school starts in 10 days. We aren't ready!)

Garden Sliders
adapted from Better Homes and Garden Magazine
  • 1 15- to 16-oz. can Great Northern or cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (1 tsp.)
  • 1/2 tsp.Italian seasoning, crushed
  • 1 medium yellow summer squash, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 24 1/4-inch-thick slices baguette
  • 2 medium roma tomatoes, cut in 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 1 small cucumber, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • Small celery top sprigs, small tomato wedges, and/or pickle slices (optional)


1. For bean spread, in blender or food processor combine beans, 1 tablespoon of the oil, the garlic, and Italian seasoning. Cover; blend or process until smooth. Season with salt and ground black pepper.

2. To grill squash, toss squash slices with remaining tablespoon olive oil. Place in a grill basket. Place basket directly over medium coals for about 5 minutes or just until squash is tender, turning once.

3. Spread one side of each bread slice with bean spread. Top half of the bread with tomato, squash, and cucumber slices. Top with remaining bread slices, spread side down. Secure sandwiches with wooden picks. Top with celery sprigs, tomato wedges, and/or pickle slices. Makes 12 appetizers-size sandwiches.

Make-Ahead:Make the bean spread up to 2 days ahead; refrigerate, covered. Slice vegetables up to 24 hours ahead. Assemble sliders 2 hours ahead

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Blueberry-Lemon Banana Bread Muffins without Cream Cheese Glaze

My husband knows how much I love to bake.

A couple of weeks ago, he suggested that we take some kind of baked good to the people who were selling us their house.

We got a really good deal because they had to move. We even managed to get their fridge.

From the day we moved from Utah, to the day we moved into our house, I think I baked 3 things. That really isn't very many considering I was baking multiple times a week before that. I even went a whole month without baking a single thing.

Maybe that doesn't sound like a big deal, but for me, it was wierd. I love being in the kitchen.
I love baking.

Here is one of those 3 things.

I baked these muffins to take to our house-sellers. They weren't home. We ate them instead.

Now, this is supposed to be a banana bread loaf, but I was thinking that mini servings are easier to share, so I made muffins and I also decided to just do a simple powdered sugar/fresh lemon juice glaze instead of the cream cheese one that was included with the recipe. I didn't want to take away from the banana/blueberry thing that was already going on.

We all enjoyed this variation. And it just happens to be blueberry season, right here in good
ol' GA.

Blueberry-Lemon Banana Bread with Cream-Cheese Glaze adapted

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup mashed ripe banana (about 2 bananas)
1/2 cup egg substitute (I used 2 eggs)
1/3 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
Cooking spray

Glaze: (I didn't use this glaze. I just mixed some powdered sugar with fresh lemon juice)
1/4 cup (2 ounces) block-style 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons water

Preheat oven to 350°.

To prepare the banana bread, lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt, stirring with a whisk to combine.

Place granulated sugar and butter in a large bowl, and beat with a mixer at medium speed until mixture is well blended (about 1 minute). Add mashed banana, egg substitute, sour cream, and vanilla; beat until blended. Add flour mixture; beat at low speed just until moist. Gently fold in blueberries and lemon rind. Spoon batter into an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray or a muffin tin. Bake at 350° for 1 hour and 15 minutes or 20-25 minutes, if you are doing muffins, or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool the bread 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove the bread from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

To prepare glaze, combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, lemon juice, and water, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Drizzle the glaze over cooled bread or muffins.

I got 17 muffins from this recipe.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Summer Favorites- Panzanella

This is another recipe that I make all the time. Especially in the summer, when tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, and basil are ripe and easy to find.

I first made this recipe last summer with the Barefoot Bloggers and I am so glad I did.
I always reduce the amount of oil and instead of sauteing the bread cubes in the oil, I drizzled the oil on the bread cubes and toast them in the oven- I do whatever I can to save a few calories here and there.

People are always a bit suspicious when I tell them I am making bread salad, which is a common name for this dish.
They quickly get over it as soon as they try it.


Panzanella adapted from Ina Garten
3 tablespoons good olive oil (I used 1 Tbls)
1 small French bread or boule, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large, ripe tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced
1/2-inch thick 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 red onion, cut in 1/2 and thinly sliced
20 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons capers, drained
For the vinaigrette:
1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar (I used white wine vinegar)
1/2 cup good olive oil (I used 1/3 cup)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a large saute pan.
Add the bread and salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 10 minutes, or until nicely browned. Add more oil as needed.
Instead of preparing the bread cubes this way, I preheated the oven to 400 degrees. Then,I put the bread cubes on a jelly roll pan that was coated with cooking spray and drizzled 1-2 Tbls olive oil over the cubes. I tossed the cubes with the oil and put the pan in the oven for about 12 minutes, stirring the bread cubes once.
For the vinaigrette, whisk all the ingredients together.
In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, red onion, basil, and capers. Add the bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Serve, or allow the salad to sit for about half an hour for the flavors to blend.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Summer Favorites- Watermelon-Nectarine Salad

Watermelon is Sweet. Delicious. Thirst-quenching. Dessert-satisfying. The perfect summer food.
Add a few ripe nectarines, a fabulous lime syrup and you have got yourself the best fruit salad/dish/dessert. Ever.
We first made this salad 2 years ago as part of our 4th of July celebration and it has been circulating through my summer meals ever since. I have posted about it twice before-HERE
and HERE. (I replaced the photos from both of those posts with these pictures because the ones here are much better) I have made it multiple times this summer and finally got some good photos. I am posting about it again, because it is just that good.
You make the lime syrup ahead of time and then, right before serving, you add the nectarines and syrup. This salad is a definite crowd pleaser and it is easy peasy. If you like watermelon at all, I am sure you will love this salad.

1/3 cup sugar
2 T fresh lime juice
2 tsps freshly grated lime peel
6 cups seedless or seeded watermelon chunks
3 ripe nectarines

1. Put sugar and 4 T water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 2 to 3 minutes, stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat; stir in lime juice. Refrigerate until cold. Refrigerate watermelon in serving bowl.

2. SHORTLY BEFORE SERVING: Cut nectarines in wedges; add to watermelon. Stir lime peel into syrup, drizzle over fruit and toss to mix and coat

Thursday, July 23, 2009

CEiMB- Oven Baked Onion Rings

I like onion rings. Well, more than like.

I have never attempted to make them at home- I don't fry things very often. I save them for an indulgence when we go out, sometimes.
I chose this week's CEiMB recipe- Oven Baked Onion Rings.

I have been interested in making onion rings, so, I thought this was the perfect chance to try them out.

I didn't change the recipe at all. I made it exactly as it was printed. Sara, on the other hand, has made this recipe multiple times and has worked out a version that she prefers, which adds a few more spices to the coating.

I made these on the 4th of July, for our meal that we enjoyed before we went to the National Mall to get ready for the festivities.

I should have tripled the recipe. These were marvelous. All the kids LOVED them. And so did the adults.
My 7 year old said, "These are better than the Varsity." Coming from a kid, who was comparing my baked rings to the greasiest ones on the planet, I thought that was a pretty impressive compliment.

My kids have begged for them again and they will be making their way into my cooking rotation. What's not to love about a onion ring that tastes great and isn't bad for you?

Hopefully everyone else loved them as much as we did. To see what the rest of the Ellie's thought, go check out the CEiMB Blogroll!

I also made a couple of the recipe I have missed in the past 2 months.
I made the Aromatic Noodles with Lime Peanut Sauce and they were good-warm or cold.
I also made the Vegetable Cheese Strata when I was in DC. We enjoyed it before we set out to hike the Billy Goat Trail.

(Don't you just love the beautiful dishes my sister brought back from Portugal? It is kinda obvious I love them.)

Oven Baked Onion Rings by Ellie Krieger

  • Cooking spray
  • 4 cups baked potato chips
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 cup lowfat buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 to 2 large Vidalia onions, peeled


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Spray a baking sheet slightly with oil and set aside. Place potato chips in the bowl of a food processor and process into crumbs, about 20 seconds. Transfer to a shallow bowl, add cayenne, and set aside. In another bowl, combine buttermilk, 2 tablespoons of flour, salt and pepper and set aside. Slice onions into 1/2-inch circles and separate into rings, keeping only large, whole rings (reserve rest of onions for other uses). You should come out with about 12 to 14 rings.

Place the remaining flour in a sealable plastic bag, then add onions, and shake to coat. Dip onions 1 at a time into the buttermilk mixture, then dip into potato chip crumbs and place on baking sheet. Spray canola oil evenly over rings and bake for 20 minutes, or until coating is crisp. Season with salt, to taste, and serve immediately.

Recipe for Vegetable Cheese Strata

Recipe for Aromatic Noodles with Lime Peanut Sauce

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Cake Slice-Marbled Lemon Blueberry Butter Cake

Wow- it feels like it has been forever since I actually baked something and posted about it! We are finally in our house and have internet service. Who knew it would take so long?

I am a day late posting for The Cake Slice. This month's cake was Marbled Lemon Blueberry Butter Cake. I made this in DC, when we were up visiting my sister for the 4th. My little nephew was so entraced with the cake layers and swirls, he couldn't stop praising my work.
My sister thought she had 3 cake pans that were the same size, but after searching for awhile, I decided to make this cake in 2 8-inch pans and a springform pan. Then I just cut the layers down to the same size.
The blueberry preserves in the middle and swirled in the layers were delicious. The recipe says to strain out the peels of the berries, but I didn't, because I like that part and preserves to me are supposed to be a bit chunky and full of pieces of fruit.

I also used Dorie's cream cheese frosting to frost this cake instead of the frosting called for. Dorie's frosting has a great lemon flavor. We had big plans on the 4th and I didn't want to be in the kitchen all day.

This cake was a big hit. Everybody loved the flavors and it felt very summery. We made trifles with the cake scraps that we trimmed off. Check out what everyone else thought about this cake by looking at The Cake Slice Bakers!

Marbled Lemon Blueberry Butter Cake from Sky High by Alisa Huntsman and Peter Wynne
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
2 tsp grated lemon zest
1½ tsp lemon extract
7 egg whites
3 cups cake flour
4 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1¼ cups milk
Fresh blueberries, for decoration

Lemon blueberry preserves (below)
Lemon buttercream frosting (below)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottom and sides of three 8 inch round cake pans. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.
In a mixer, cream together the butter, sugar, lemon zest and lemon extract until light and fluffy. Gradually add the egg whites 2 or 3 at a time, beating well between additions and stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Combine the flour, baking powder and salt, whisk gently to blend. In 2 or 3 alternating additions, beat the dry ingredients and milk into the butter mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl several times. Beat on medium-high speed for about 1 minute to smooth out any lumps and aerate the batter.
Scoop 1 cup of the batter into a small bowl. Divide the remaining equally among the 3 prepared pans, smoothing the tops with a spatula. This gives you a smooth surface to work with. Add 2½ tbsp of the lemon blueberry preserves to the reserved batter and blend well. Drizzle heaping teaspoons of this blueberry mixture over the batter in the pans. Use a skewer to swirl the blueberry mixture in short strokes to drag it down through the lemon batter without mixing it in.
Bake for about 25 minutes or until a cake tester or skewer stuck in the centre comes out clean and the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan. Lat the layers cool for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack, peeling off the paper and leaving to cool completely.

Lemon Blueberry Preserves
3 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
¾ cup sugar
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1½ tsp grated lemon zest
1 tsp grated fresh ginger

Puree the blueberries with any juices that have exuded in a blender. Pass the puree through a coarse strainer to remove the skins.
In a heavy medium saucepan, combine the blueberry puree with the sugar, lemon juice, zest and ginger. Bring to a gentle boil over a medium heat, stirring often for 20 minutes, or until the preserves have thickened and are reduced to 1 cup. To check the proper thickness place a small amount of a saucer and put in the freezer until cold. Drag your finger through it. If a clear path is made through the preserve then it is ready. Let the preserves cool before using. (Can be made up to 5 days in advance).

Lemon Buttercream Frosting
1 cup sugar
¼ cup water
2 eggs
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Bring to the boil over a medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Continue to boil without stirring, occasionally washing down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush until the syrup reaches the soft-ball stage, 238 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Immediately remove from the heat.
In a large mixer bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed, beast the eggs briefly. Slowly add the hot syrup in a thin stream, pouring it down the sides of the bowl; be careful to avoid hitting the beaters or the syrup may splatter. When all the syrup has been added, raise the speed to medium,-high and beat until the mixture is very fluffy and cooled to body temperature. This can take 15-20 minutes.
Reduce the mixer speed to medium-low and gradually add the softened butter 2 to 3 tablespoons at a time, beating well between additions. As you’re adding the last few tablespoons of butter, the frosting will appear to break, then suddenly come together like whipped butter. Beat in the lemon juice, and the frosting is ready to use.

To Assemble
To assemble the cake, place a layer, flat side up, on a cake stand. Spread half of the lemon blueberry preserves over the top. Place a second layer on top of the first and spread the remaining preserves over it. Finally place the third layer on top and frost the top and sides with the lemon buttercream.
Decorate with fresh blueberries and serve.
Makes one 8 inch triple layered cake.

Coming on Thursday- My pick for Craving Ellie in My Belly!