Friday, April 29, 2011

Garlic Shrimp and Chickpeas

This is a super easy, delicious dinner that I made when my parents were here visiting us. I almost always roast shrimp in the oven when we have it for dinner and I have roasted chickpeas in the oven before too, so the method wasn't new to me at all. However, I had never thought to combine these two ingredients- shrimp and chickpeas.

I am happy to say that this combination really works! If you have ever roasted chickpeas, then you know that they get nice and crunchy. That texture was wonderful with the shrimp.
We had a beautiful green salad on the side, with lots of spring greens and romaine, cucumbers, tomatoes and a few people at the table ended up putting the shrimp/chickpea mixture on top of their salad. I had to try it out and it made for a delicious salad.

Here is the recipe for Garlic Shrimp and Chickpeas from the Food Network Magazine
* I only used 3 Tablespoons of olive oil- 1 for the chickpeas, 1 for the shrimp marinade and 1 at the end
* I added the juice of 1 lemon to the shrimp marinade, it seemed silly not to

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Roasted Potato Salad with Parmesan-Herb Dressing

I took my Mom to the airport yesterday afternoon. She has spent the last 3 weeks here with us and it was a blast. My Dad was here for one of the weeks and I really enjoyed their visit.

While they were here we had a Easter dinner a week early with our family members that live nearby. I came across this salad and figured it would be a good side dish for our dinner.

We don't eat lots of potatoes, but when we do, I like to roast them in the oven. I have never thought of putting roasted potatoes in a green salad, so I was intrigued by that concept.

My Mom and I worked together to get this salad ready and we were in a rush. We didn't measure the lettuce and potatoes exactly. I think this made it so the dressing was spread a little too thin, although the salad was still tasty, I think the flavor would have been better if we had been more careful in our measurements. I didn't get a pretty picture of this salad either because we rushed off to the dinner and I had to snap a quick photo so I could share it here. Go ahead and check out the recipe below and you will find better pictures and a little bit more information about this fun salad.

Here is the recipe for Roasted Potato Salad with Parmesan-Herb Dressing from Perry's Plate
* My only mistake here was not being accurate when measuring the amount of potatoes and lettuce that I used. I think it would have been more flavorful if I had used the appropriate amounts.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Spicy Chard Soup

Do you dye eggs for Easter?
We do and this year, we might have gone a little overboard. Lots of lots of hard-boiled eggs.

The good thing is that we love to eat hard-boiled eggs around here. Well, at least the white part of the hard-boiled egg. My kids don't like the yolk and I only like a little bit of the yolk with my white and it has to be cooked perfectly. No green ring around the yolk and no dark yellow, crusty, not cooked all the way yolk. They must be perfectly creamy and dreamy light yellow.
I don't always get them just perfect, the way I want them, but this time I did have some success.

We always make these Egg Salad Sandwich faces with some of the eggs and eat them for snacks, but I wanted to do something else this year. Something new.

When I saw this recipe for Spicy Chard Soup in a recent issue of Food Network Magazine, I thought it would be the perfect way to use some of those extra hard-boiled eggs. I have never seen a hard-boiled egg in soup before, so I was intrigued. Plus, it contains swiss chard- my favorite food.
The soup was easy to make. Not too many ingredients, but yet the results were really fabulous.

What is your favorite way to use hard-boiled eggs?

Here is the recipe for Spicy Chard Soup from Food Network Magazine
* I used less olive oil than called for and didn't drizzle the soup with olive oil at the end
* I didn't have caraway seeds, so I just skipped them
*I didn't have cumin seeds, so I just used ground cumin
* I didn't add the hot sauce to the entire pot of soup. I put the hot sauce on the table and the adults added it to their own bowls. My son even got brave and added a couple drops to his soup.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Fresh Fruit Pizza with Lemon Curd

We had our family Easter dinner a week early this year. Grandma had to work all of Easter weekend (bummer) and some family members were going out of town, so we just decided to move it up a week.

I decided to make this Spring dessert to take to our Easter dinner.
I had some Meyer Lemon juice in the fridge that I had squeezed from my leftover meyer lemons, so I made the curd with that the night before.
I had some of my favorite sugar cookie dough in the freezer, so I knew that this would be easy to put together after we got home from church.
I did things a little bit differently than the recipe suggested. I used a square cookie sheet to bake my cookie dough. I cut the cookie into squares and topped each cookie square with the lemon curd individually. Then I placed a few berries on top.

I have made Lemon and Lime curd many, many times and I was surprised that this version from Cooking Light had just as much flavor and great texture even though it was a little bit lighter. It was fabulous.
This dessert disappeared very quickly. It was the perfect thing to celebrate Easter and Spring!

Here is the recipe for Fresh Fruit Pizza with Lemon Curd from Cooking Light
* I used this sugar cookie dough, because I had it in the freezer
* I didn't use a plum or the sprinkling of sugar at the end of the recipe
* I spread a little bit of blackberry or blueberry Simply Fruit
on top of some of the squares, before adding the lemon curd

Here is the recipe for Lemon Curd
*I used Meyer Lemon juice instead of normal lemon juice

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Meyer Lemon Coffee Cake

Sometimes there is an item that you see and for some reason, from that moment on, You cannot get it out of your mind.

This coffee cake was one of those items.
I don't even know how I found it. I think I was interested in Meyer Lemons and what to make with them, and I found this huge coffee cake. I was going to make it and then didn't.
Well, I bought more Meyer Lemons and then I did. I made this gigantic coffee cake for absolutely no reason. No reason at all.

This coffee cake has two layers of quickly boiled Meyer Lemon slices in it. It also has the most struesel topping that I have ever seen in my entire life.
And it is good. Really, really good.
The only thing I would do differently next time is to make sure that all my Meyer Lemon slices were exactly the same thickness, by using a mandoline or food processor with the slicing blade to slice them, instead of relying on my own slicing skills. Some of the slices were a little too thick and tasted just a tad bitter.

Here is the recipe for Meyer Lemon Coffee Cake from Martha Stewart
* I used low-fat buttermilk instead of sour cream
* I add 1 1/2 Tablespoons Meyer Lemon juice to the cake batter

Monday, April 18, 2011

Split Pea Hummus

I only have a faint memory about split peas from my childhood. And it isn't a really great one. I guess for that reason, I have never had the interest to make anything that contains split peas. I have never given them a second thought.

That all changed a few weeks ago when I was looking through the most recent issue of Southern Living Magazine and saw a recipe for Split Pea Hummus. It comes from an article about a woman who shares Greek and Southern heritage and the way that she came up with a menu that celebrated both of those things. The fact that the split peas are cooked and pureed made me think about my most favorite dip EVER which is made with red lentils and that's when I realized that maybe lentils and split peas have something in common. (Go ahead and laugh at me, it's ok!)

So, back to the split pea hummus. I decided to make it for a family dinner we had last weekend and the main reason was so that I could test this recipe with some true Southerners.

This dip/hummus is really easy to make and really delicious. I served it with mini sweet peppers, baby carrots, sliced cucumbers and pita chips. It was really good. I was surprised, in a very good way. Many of my Southern family members really enjoyed this dip.

Now I just need a delicious way to use the rest of my split peas. Any suggestions?

Here is the recipe for Split Pea Hummus from Southern Living

Friday, April 15, 2011

Light and Creamy Asparagus Soup

Asparagus is a family favorite around here. We love it roasted, blanched, steamed, stir-fried- really, we love it anyway it is prepared.
I saw this soup and thought it would be an interesting way to find out if we like asparagus pureed.

The verdict- we do!

This soup is quick and easy to make and it is very filling. Cannellini beans and a little bit of plain greek yogurt are the secrets to getting that thick and creamy texture without the added fat.

I don't particularly like bacon or cooking it, but I have come to appreciate the crispness and flavor it can add to a dish in small amounts. As the garnish here with the asparagus tips, it is wonderful.

This soup just screams Spring to me. It's beautiful color and light flavor really hit the spot.

Here is the recipe for Light and Creamy Asparagus Soup
* I added the juice of 1 lemon to the soup, since I added some lemon zest
* I didn't add the cayenne to the soup, I sprinkled it on top of the adult portions
* I added a garnish of lemon zest on top

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Lighter Everyday Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon rolls are a once in a blue moon treat for us around here.
Mostly because I think the work required is not really equal to the result. I do not mind a cinnamon roll every once in awhile but they aren't a favorite of mine.

I decided to give these particular cinnamon rolls a chance because they were both quicker and healthier, well, if a cinnamon roll can really be healthy in any way, shape or form. You know what I'm getting at.

This recipe is actually the first recipe that I have tried from The America's Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook and if this recipe is any telling of what the rest of this book has to offer, then I can't wait to get busy cooking and baking from it.

We could all tell that these weren't as decadent as a normal cinnamon roll, but they still had great flavor and the texture was just as good. Plus, they were ready in a fraction of the time. I mixed up the dough and right after that I rolled it out, filled it up and popped these in the oven.

My son was so excited that these were called "Everyday" cinnamon rolls because he figured that meant I could easily make them on a school morning. It is a possibility!
Recipe for Lighter Everyday Cinnamon Rolls
* using a bench scraper is essential so you can get this dough to roll up- it is very sticky and soft, but it is possible if you follow the directions
* I used low-fat buttermilk

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Lindsey's ABC Salad

Now that we've got all of those baked goods out of the way, that leaves room to talk about this delicious salad that I found over at one of my favorite blogs- Cafe Johnsonia.

It is called ABC Salad. It contains Baby salad greens-(to which I added some arugula), avocado, almonds, dried apricots, buckwheat, chickpeas and I figured while I was at it, I might as well top it off with some blueberry vinegar.

I've been trying to get more salads and veggies in my diet and eating a nice big salad for lunch is one easy way to do that. My only problem is that sometimes I get bored with salad. Especially if it always seems to contain the exact same ingredients.
That is what I loved about this salad the most- it had lots of fun flavors and textures, combining ingredients that I never would have thought to mix. And it's vegan.

So give it a try because it is delicious.

Here is the recipe for ABC Salad
*She has much prettier pictures and more details about this delicious salad

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Mint Brownie Ice Cream Pizza Pie

This is the last thing I baked before my brother left. It's a crazy concoction that we decided to call Mint Brownie Ice Cream Pizza Pie.

I'm not sure how this idea came about but my kids started talking about Ice Cream Pizza and I wanted to make the idea come to life. When thinking about it in my mind I decided that brownies would be the "crust", ice cream would be the "sauce", whipped cream and Peppermint Patties would be the "toppings" and sprinkles would be the "cheese". This was a thick pizza.

First, I made a batch of Thin Mint Brownies, but with Grasshopper Cookies instead of Thin Mints, in a 9-inch springform pan.
Then, I mixed chopped Cool Mint Oreos into some vanilla ice cream that we had in the freezer. I prefer lots of mix-ins when it comes to ice cream, so this ice cream was loaded.

I let the brownies cool and then I spread the ice cream mixture on top of the brownies and put the whole thing back in the freezer so the ice cream could firm up. This was not a good idea.

When I was ready to serve a piece of this pizza thing and top it with the whipped cream and sprinkles, cutting through it was an absolute joke. The brownie was rock hard.
So, I did what any person might do to save the dessert and scrapped off the ice cream layer from the brownie base. I put the ice cream back in the freezer and let the brownie thaw for a little while.
When the brownie was unfrozen and cut-able, I cut wedges of it and topped them with ice cream by spoon.
Then I piped the whipped cream on top of the ice cream, sprinkled sprinkles and put a Peppermint Patty on top.

Here is a diagram.
This dessert was quite decadent. It was a complete hit with my brother, my husband and my son. One of my daughters just ate the ice cream, whipped cream and sprinkles/candy. I thought the brownie was a little too much with all the other elements. I would've been just as happy with just the ice cream and a Peppermint Patty, but it was fun to create and certain members of our family ate more than one piece (I don't know how they managed it, because this was one heck of a sugar overload). Thank goodness we had a healthy dinner (just the vinaigrette over lots of mixed salad greens) before trying this dessert.

There isn't really a recipe for the entire thing, just a method to the madness. If nothing else, at least it will be a fun experiment!

Here is the recipe for the Thin Mint Brownies via the Food Librarian
* I used Grasshopper Cookies
* I baked my brownies in a 9-inch springform pan

I mixed 1/2 pkg of chopped Cool Mint Oreos into some Vanilla Ice Cream and returned it to the freezer until needed

I topped it all off with sweetened whipped cream- a tsp of vanilla extract and a few Tablespoons of powdered sugar- to taste- beat into heavy cream until stiff peaks form

Sprinkles and York Peppermint Patties were the final topping

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Grapefruit Honey Yogurt Scones

You should make these beautiful babies as soon as humanly possible.

Go now and gather the ingredients. Throw them together and you will not be sorry.
Especially if you enjoy grapefruit and/or scones.
You will not find another scone that is this light and full of flavor. These things are perfection.

Just ask my brother who devoured 1/2 of them in a matter of minutes.
They really are amazing.

That is all.

Here is the recipe for Grapefruit Honey Yogurt Scones from Joy the Baker

* I used 0% Fage Greek yogurt

Friday, April 8, 2011

Cornmeal Lime Cookies

Having my brother here was a great excuse to bake everyday. I knew that he would eat whatever I baked and that his youthful metabolism wouldn't mind at all about the butter, sugar and flour he was consuming.

Somehow I found these cookies and they looked like a great treat to make when he was here. We had a sort of citrus thing going on while he was visiting.

These cookies were easy to mix up, bake and devour. The cornmeal added a great little bit of texture and the glaze was the perfect way to top them off.

Between my brother and my kids, these were gone within 24 hours or so. Well, my husband ate quite a few too, but he said it was only because they had the glaze.
:D Gotta love the honesty!

Cornmeal Lime Cookies as seen here

Originally published in Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery + Cafe by Joanne Chang

Makes 14-16 cookies (I made smaller cookies and got about 26 or so)
1 Cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons finely grated lime zest (about 4 limes)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup medium-coarse yellow cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Lime Glaze
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons water
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (1 – 1 1/2 limes)
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest (about 1 lime)

Position rack in the center of the over and heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a handheld mixer or a wooden spoon), cream together the butter and granulated sugar on medium speed for about 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. (This step will take 10 minutes if using a handheld mixer or a spoon). Stop the mixer a few times and use the rubber spatula to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and the paddle to release any clinging butter or sugar. Add the lime zest and beat on medium speed for about 1 minute to release the lime flavor. Add the eggs and vanilla and continue to beat on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes, or until thoroughly combined. Scrape the bowl and the paddle again to make sure the eggs are thoroughly incorporated.

In a small bowl, stir together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt. On low speed (or with the wooden spoon), slowly add the flour mixture to the butter-sugar mixture and then mix until the flour is completely incorporated and the dough is evenly mixed.

Drop the dough in scant 1/4-cup balls onto a baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Flatten each ball slightly with the palm of your hand. (I used my cookie scoop, which made the cookies a bit smaller than that, maybe a Tablespoon and a half, or so of dough per cookie. I baked them for 10-12 minutes.)

To make the glaze:

While the cookies are cooling, in a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar, water, lime juice, and lime zest until smooth. You should have about 1/2 cup. (The glaze can be made up to 1 week ahead and stored in an airtight container at room temperature).

Brush the cookies with a thin layer of the glaze, then allow the glaze to set for about 10 minutes before serving or storing.

The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. The unbaked dough can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Cooking Light Virtual Supper Club- Mixed Greens with Blueberry Vinaigrette with homemade Blueberry Vinegar

Jerry picked our theme- 100 Miles of Flavor-for this month's Cooking Light Virtual Supper Club.
We were each to choose a recipe that showcased a local ingredient, something that could be found within 100 miles of where we live.
Here is how the menu turned out- the local ingredients are in parentheses.

Sandi - Peas and Orzo with Pesto - (peas, basil and Southern pecans )

For my local ingredients I decided to use blueberries and honey. I found this great recipe for blueberry vinegar that is used in a fabulous vinaigrette and it was the perfect fit.

I decided to use blueberries that I picked from my husband's grandmother bush last summer, that I had frozen to make the blueberry vinegar. (She lives about 7 minutes from us, so that is pretty local). I read the reviews on the recipe and someone else had mentioned that they used frozen blueberries to make the vinegar and it worked out fine.

Making the blueberry vinegar was really easy. I just combined a couple of ingredients on the stovetop and let the mixture sit, and then strained the vinegar. I let the vinegar sit overnight and then made the salad and vinaigrette the next day.

The salad is very simple. Baby arugula-I also threw in some spinach, red onion, blueberries and then a quick vinaigrette, which contains the blueberry vinegar, a little honey, dijon mustard, and olive oil. So simple and so delicious.
I had leftover blueberry vinegar and we have been drizzling it on all sorts of things. The other night we had salmon, quinoa, broccoli and cauliflower and I thought we could drizzle the vinegar over the salmon. My daughter liked it so much that she drizzled blueberry vinegar over everything on her plate. The rest of the family followed suit.

This was a great salad and it was really fun to learn how easy it is to make flavored vinegar.
Check out the rest of this great local menu above.

Here is the recipe for Blueberry Vinegar

Here is the recipe for Mixed Greens with Blueberry Vinaigrette
* I added baby spinach to the salad
*I omitted the frisee because I couldn't find it anywhere

Monday, April 4, 2011

Roasted Salmon and Lentils

On the Saturday that my brother was visiting we had all sorts of baseball and softball games and pictures to go to. Then came the rain. It started in the morning and didn't stop. My daughter stood out on the baseball field in the pouring rain for about 10 minutes and then they cancelled the game. The rest of the days games were cancelled as well.

I was already planning to make this dish for dinner on that night, but the rain and thunderstorms made it even more satisfying. I found some French Green lentils at Earthfare- aren't they pretty? The look like pretty little pebbles. And they have a really unique texture and flavor. It is very subtle, but if you look for it, you can taste feel the difference from your normal brown lentils.

The lentils are cooked with the onion, carrot and celery to give some nice flavor and then the veggies are diced and served alongside the lentils. The salmon is roasted and tops off the dish.

We accompanied this with a nice green salad and it was a complete meal. Perfect for a rainy night. Very comforting.

Roasted Salmon and Lentils from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan
1 cup lentils du Puy (French green lentils)
1 clove (I omitted this because I didn't have any whole cloves)
1 small onion
1 medium carrot, trimmed, peeled, and cut into 4–6 pieces (I used 2 carrots)
1 celery stalk, trimmed and cut into 4–6 pieces (I used 3 stalks of celery)
1 bay leaf
3½ cups chicken broth, vegetable broth, or water
1 1¼-pound piece salmon fillet, cut from the thick center portion, skin on, at room temperature
Olive oil
Freshly ground pepper
Chopped fresh parsley and/or snipped fresh chives, for garnish (optional)

Put the lentils in a strainer, pick through them, and discard any bits of stone that might have escaped the packers; rinse under cold running water.

Turn the lentils into a medium saucepan, cover them with cold water, bring to a boil, and cook for 2 minutes; drain the lentils in the strainer. Rinse the lentils again and rinse out the saucepan.

Press the clove into the onion and toss the onion, carrot, celery, and bay leaf into the pan. Pour in the broth, stir in the lentils, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a steady simmer and cook for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the lentils are almost tender. As the lentils cook, skim off the dark foam that rises to the top.

Season with salt and cook until they’re tender, 5 to 10 minutes more.

While the lentils are cooking, center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 475 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil.

Place a strainer over a large measuring cup and drain the lentils, reserving the broth; set the pan aside. Pick out the vegetables and discard the clove and bay leaf; if you’d like to serve the carrots, celery, and onion with the lentils (I always do, although they are very soft), cut them into very small dice. Rinse out the saucepan.

Put the salmon on the foil-lined baking sheet, rub a little olive oil over the top, and season with salt and pepper. Slide the baking sheet into the oven and roast the salmon for about 12 minutes, or until it is firm on the outside and still pink and just the tiniest bit jiggly at the center (nick the thickest part with a slender knife to test). If the salmon is done before you’ve finished the lentils, cover it lightly with a foil tent and leave it on the counter to rest.

Meanwhile, put ¾ cup of the cooked lentils into a food processor (a mini-processor is fine) or blender and add ½ cup of the reserved broth. Whir for a minute or so, until the lentils are reduced to a puree, then scrape the puree and the remaining cooked lentils back into the saucepan. Pour in another ½ cup broth, add the diced vegetables, if you kept them, and season with salt and pepper as needed. (You can make the lentils to this point and keep them, covered, at room temperature for a few hours or in the refrigerator overnight.)

Return the saucepan to medium heat and cook, stirring, only until the lentils are warmed through again.

Divide the lentils among four warm shallow soup plates. Slice the salmon into 4 portions and place a piece in the center of each plate. Drizzle the salmon and lentils very lightly with olive oil, dust the top of the fish with parsley and/or chives, if you’d like, and serve immediately.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Pickled Grapes

No, this is not some sort of April Fool's Day joke- These things are real.

A couple of weeks ago, my 22 year old brother excitedly told me about a salad he tried at The Wild Grape Bistro in Salt Lake City, that contained Pickled Grapes. He said that they were A-mazing! and found a recipe that he wanted us to try when he came to visit me. He was here last week and one of the first things we did was make Pickled Grapes.
Making the pickled grapes was really easy. You combine vinegar, brown and white sugar, ground cinnamon, ground coriander, and whole cloves (I used ground since I didn't have any whole) and bring that mixture to a boil. Then you add chopped crystallized ginger and diced jalapenos. Next, the grapes are added to the spicy, vinegar-y bath to take an overnight soak.

That was the hardest part for my brother- leaving these grapes alone overnight so they could soak in all the spices and flavor.
He said that at The Wild Grape, there was a small hole in each grape, made with a toothpick or something, that helped the grapes suck up some of the spices and flavor from the vinegar mix. We didn't do that to the grapes, but next time I think I will, to help them pack even more of a punch.

The day that the grapes were ready we made a nice big salad for lunch. It was one of those hodge-podge, anything goes salads, where we just chopped things up and added them to the mix.
We used a base of baby spinach, spring greens and baby arugula. Then we added chopped bell peppers, chopped cucumbers and the pickled grapes. Next some poached chicken and roasted pepitas. We topped it off with a balsamic vinaigrette.
Goodness gracious! What a tasty salad. These things are spicy sweet, tart and vinegar-y, earthy from the spices. What a mix.

We had them on another salad the next day and the day my brother flew back home, he took a large plastic bag of these little guys to snack on, while on his travels through the airport and on his flights. I was wishing that I had more than a few leftover because I really wanted to experiment a little bit more with them- maybe turning them into some sort of salsa or in a different type of salad or something.

I guess that is a good excuse to make more!

Just a little note- my brother and I both thought that the red pickled grapes were more delicious than the green ones, but I am still glad we tried some of both.

Recipe for Pickled Grapes
* I used mostly red grapes, but green too
* I didn't have whole cloves, so I added about 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves to the vinegar/spice mixture
* I removed some of the seeds from jalapeno, but left the ribs when I diced them