After several unseasonably hot days I decided to go a for light, chilled dinner. With a quick check of what I had on hand, I came up with this fresh, healthy and delicious twist on a Caprese salad.
Zucchini Carpaccio Caprese with Burrata
12 grape tomatoes
Fresh chopped herbs – basil, parsley & chives
1 -2 T pine nuts – toasted
1 T fresh lemon juice
3 t olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Slice the zucchini into very thin rounds and place in a single layer on a platter. Halve the grape tomatoes and arrange on top of the zucchini. Cut the Burrata into pieces and place on top followed by the herbs and then the pine nuts. Salt and pepper to taste. Mix together the lemon juice, olive oil, with a pinch of salt and pepper, drizzle over the top. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to eat.
Guacamole is one of my favorite foods and I’ve enjoyed it countless times – both at restaurants and my own. Yesterday realizing that I had everything I needed to make up a batch, I made (possibly the best) chunky guacamole I’ve ever had. Seriously, it was so good that I wrote down EXACTLY what I’d done with the hopes of capturing the magic in the future.
3 ripe avocados
2 plum tomatoes
1 large or 2 small jalapeños
1 large or 2 medium/small garlic cloves
1 lemon, juiced
2 limes, juiced
1-1 1/2 T chopped fresh cilantro
3-4 t sea salt
Halve avocados, remove pits setting them aside for later, scoop each avocado half into a large bowl. Halve the tomatoes, seed and then coarsely chop them – place into a second bowl. To that bowl add the jalapeño first removing the seeds and ribs and finely chopping. Mince the garlic and add to the second bowl with the shallot after dicing it. Add the sea salt to the second bowl and toss the mixture together. Add second bowl to the avocados, followed by the lemon juice and half the lime juice. Used a hand chopper, do a coarse chop over all ingredients and stir to blend. Chop again until it’s the chunkiness you desire. Add chopped cilantro, stir to blend.
Now for the tip: In the bowl which you are using to serve or store, push the avocado pits into the guacamole. Drizzle the last of the lime juice over the top and press plastic wrap over the guacamole, touching it to the surface rather than the bowl. Remove the pits just before serving. These steps keep the guacamole from turning brown, I deliberately waited 24 hours to take the photos and it’s still a vibrant green.
I have often said that I could live on bread, cheese and wine (if need be). I’ve been hesitant about baking bread, in particular because I’ve had little experience with yeast.
During the bitter cold, windy and icy winter days, I spent time on Pinterest and discovered several recipes that looked interesting. Today I gathered all the ingredients and decided to go for it. After all, what’s the worst that could happen? If it’s inedible, I can throw it out…..
Using this recipe, https://bakerbettie.com/easy-no-knead-skillet-bread/ I added garlic powder and poppy seeds to the top just before baking. The rosemary called for in the recipe was easy as I grow and dry it at the end of each summer. While Bettie’s recipe used a round cast iron skillet, mine is square and I went in the direction of a foccacia. The whole house was filled with the aroma of baking bread – reward enough for my effort.
Thanksgiving is hands-down my most anticipated meal of the year. My Roasted Chesnut Apple & Sausage Stuffing is hands down, my favorite part of the meal and I purposely make more than I’ll need. It freezes beautifully and this year I remembered a kitchen hack from Rachael Ray from early in her 30 Minute Meals days – Stuffin Muffins.
Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray, pack the cups with unbaked stuffing and freeze for three hours. Take them out of the muffin tin and place in a single layer into a large freezer Ziploc bag. When you need a single-serving and savory side dish with chicken, turkey or pork simply pop out one or more and bake at 375 for 35-40 minutes until they’re crunchy on top.
I’ve made versions of this salad over time, always with broccoli. Today knowing that I had both broccoli and cauliflower on hand, I decided to do a twist on my go-to recipe and share it with you.
Broccoli Cauliflower Salad
2 c broccoli florets
1 1/2 – 2 c cauliflower florets
1/2 c dried cranberries – add to 1/2 c very hot water for 1o minutes, drain
4 oz sharp cheddar, cut into small chunks
1/4 c chopped red onion
1/2 c pecans – chopped and lightly toasted
4-5 slices crisp bacon, chopped
1/2 c mayonnaise
1 T honey
1 T rice wine vinegar
1 t coarse ground black pepper
1 t dijon mustard
red pepper flake to taste (optional)
In a large bowl, combine the broccoli, cauliflower, cranberries, cheddar and red onion. Make the dressing by whisking together the mayonnaise, honey, vinegar, pepper, dijon and red pepper flakes. Dress the salad with the desired amount of dressing – you can always add more. Add the bacon and pecans, stir to blend. Chill for one hour and serve.
Let me start by saying, I love fried rice and I love to cook. That said, I’ve never made fried rice…until last night – with great success. I even dreamt about it. I had leftover baby back ribs from Sunday’s dinner which inspired me to do Pork Fried Rice. If you want, this recipe would be equally delicious with shrimp, chicken or amp up the veggies and make it a veggie fried rice as well.
Pork Fried Rice serves 3-4
2 c uncooked white rice
2 eggs – beaten with a fork
1 1/2 – 2 c cooked, chopped pork
3/4 c diced white onion
1/2 c diced carrot
1/3 c diced peppers
1 c frozen peas – thawed
sesame & peanut oil
liquid aminos or soy sauce
1/4 c Rice Wine vinegar
Start by cooking your rice (using a little less water than called for), early in the day or the night before. Spread it out and cool it on a sheet pan, allowing it to dry out a bit.
Compile your ingredients and heat your wok to medium high heat, add a teaspoon of sesame oil and 1 tablespoon of peanut oil.
Add the eggs to the pan, allow them to start cooking then break up with your spatula into soft scramble egg bites. Remove from the wok and set aside.
Add the same amount of oils to the wok as for the eggs then add the carrots allowing them to cook for several minutes. Now add the onions and peppers, cook for a few minutes more, then remove them from the wok and set aside.
Add the same amount of oils as in previous steps, then add the pork allowing it to crisp up a bit. Remove from the wok and set aside.
Add 2 T sesame oil and 2 T peanut oil to the wok, add the rice spreading it out to cover as much of the wok surface as possible. Let it brown for a couple of minutes, then move it around allowing it to continue to brown, repeating this step until it’s nicely golden. Stir in the Rice Wine vinegar and the liquid amigos/soy sauce to taste. Add the veggies and pork into the rice, stir to combine. Now add the peas, then the scrambled egg, stir to combine and it’s ready to serve!
I use a dutch oven pan to create more surface area for warming the berries. Place cranberries, sugar, jam and vinegar in the pan on a low to medium setting, stir. Zest one navel orange and then juice that orange, adding both juice and zest to berry mixture. Stir again
Using a veggie peeler or small sharp knife, remove about 1/2 the peel from the second orange, careful not to go beneath the “orange” peel (avoiding the bitter white part). Chop the peel fine (see below) until you have 1 tablespoon. You may use more peel if you end up with more or freeze it for later use.
Add peel to berry mixture. Cut the second orange in half and then section it, adding the sections to the berry mixture. Squeeze any residual juice from the second orange into the pan.
You will start to hear little pops from the pan, those are the cranberries bursting. Give it a stir, put a lid on the pan, reduce the heat to low. Check back every 15 -20 minutes for another stir, letting it simmer.. After 45 minutes, stir in the Grand Marnier, the berry mixture should be breaking down like a chutney. Continue to cook for 15-20 minutes more. Cool and serve. Makes 2-3 cups of relish. This can be stored in an airtight container in your refrigerator for up to two weeks and freezes beautifully, simply thaw and serve.
This is delicious as to serve not only with your Thanksgiving dinner but with chicken, pork or even seared scallops (trust me). For a festive appetizer, make a charcuterie platter with cheeses like brie or a spreadable goat cheese or camembert, manchego, sharp white cheddar, cornichons and marcona almonds with sliced baguettes! Get creative…..and always, enjoy!
Looking for other Thanksgiving or Holiday recipes? Here’s links to a few of my best recipes:
With Autumn upon us, I’m in that mindset to switch to my colder weather cooking – casseroles, crockpots and last Sunday, my mouth-watering pot roast. I’d bought the most perfect carrots at the Farmer’s Market and thought they’d be a colorful and tasty side dish.
While I could have dropped them in with the simmering pot roast I wanted to change it up and do something visually stunning and delicious. Though it’s in the seventies today, on Sunday our furnace was on and having the oven fired up was welcome, making the kitchen cozy.
After perusing lots of recipes, as usual, I took those ingredients that looked the best from several recipes and came up with this. Visually stunning – check. Delicious – check. I wanted to share it as it would make a perfect side dish for Thanksgiving.
Oven-Roasted Honey Glazed Carrots
6-8 large carrots, peeled and cut into 3 inch long sticks
3-4 T honey
1-2 T extra virgin olive oil
1/2 t coarse black pepper
1/2 t sea salt
2 t balsamic vinegar
chopped flat leaf parsley, chives and thyme for garnish
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a shallow baking pan with foil (for super easy clean up), drizzle with olive oil and smear to cover the surface.
In a bowl, mix the olive oil, honey, pepper, salt and balsamic till blended. Add the carrot sticks and toss to completely coat them. Place the carrots in a single layer onto the pan, use a spatula to get any excess glaze out of the bowl and drizzled over the top. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, onto your serving platter and top with the chopped herbs. If you don’t have honey or want to make this vegan, maple syrup would be wonderful as a substitution.
So I’m having my mom over for dinner today and along with my famous rotisserie chicken, I wanted to create a new side dish. Since Spence turned my mom onto sweet potatoes, she’s become a huge fan (as have I) and I came up with this idea. This would also be a nice way to change up left-over baked sweet potatoes.
Sweet Potato Brûlée serves 2-4
2 sweet potatoes
2 t brown sugar
Bake the sweet potatoes after rubbing the skin with olive oil and salt at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Allow them to cool then slice them in half and using a soup spoon, scoop out the flesh (as intact as possible) and place into a buttered baking dish.
Using a microplane, dust the potatoes with nutmeg (to taste). Using the microplane again, zest the orange over the top of the potatoes (to taste). Sprinkle with sea salt. Crumble the brown sugar so it is fine, no clumps, then sprinkle lightly over the potatoes.
Preheat the broiler, placing these on the next to top rack for a few minutes, keeping an eye on them so they don’t burn. When the top looks bubbly and like a brûlée remove from over and rest for five minutes, then enjoy!
Many years ago I tried morels after Spence returned from a visit to Charlevoix (in northern Michigan) with a paper lunch bag chock full of them. They grew on private wooded property belonging to his friend Don. I’d only heard of morels but knew they were not to be squandered. I proceeded to prepare scrumptious meals over the following days with this “gift”; we were in foodie heaven.
And I was hooked.
On very rare, random occasions I’ve come across morels since then and always succumb to their allure. A dear, lifelong friend was coming this past Wednesday for a visit and I was grocery shopping when my eyes locked on two boxes. They were perfect and they were mine. There was no price – I didn’t care! I now knew what the menu for the following night would be. After I’d purchased them I texted Jerene to ask “do you like Morels?“. Almost instantly she replied “I love them” (not a surprise as she is a fellow foodie).
My herb garden is bursting and I went foraging to find those which would complement the “recipe” I was formulating. “Which pasta?” I pondered. I recalled during my recent visit with her in Grand Rapids, I’d purchased a box of artisan Butternut Sage Pappardelle made at this amazing market that we’d visited. “Perfect!” I thought since I’d already planned to use the gorgeous sage growing on my patio. Funny how a plan comes together right? Here’s how I prepared it:
Morels with Herbed Butternut Sage Pappardelle serves 4-6
It is important to soak the morels in salted water for at least twenty minutes (per Pinterest morels have all these little crevices and tiny insects could be lurking…). Drain and rinse them thoroughly and place on paper towels in a single layer and let them air dry.
While the morels are drying, all the herbs should be given a fine chop. I kept them seperated so that I could add pinches as I went along, saving some for garnishing.
Heat a deep skillet, adding the butter and enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Add the shallots and saute for about 2 minutes.
Raise the heat to medium high. Toss the mushrooms with that little bit of flour, they’ll be coated very lightly. Add them to the skillet with the shallots. Move them around as you want them to cook for about six minutes, browning a bit. Start adding pinches of the various herbs to taste.
While they are cooking, prepare the pasta per the package instructions, drain and drizzle with olive oil, toss in some of the herbs. Add the morels to the pasta, tossing gently. Garnish with any herbs that remain. As a special treat, I fried 10 velvety sage leaves in a bit of butter till they begin to crisp and topped the pasta with them. Serve immediately and bon appetit!
I served this meal with a salad of baby spinach, sliced strawberries, dried cherry covered goat cheese, toasted pecans, slivered red onion and avocado chunks, dressed with a White Peach & Strawberry Vinegar, EVOO and a pinch of sea salt.
As a side dish, I wrapped bundles of 4 asparagus spears with a slice of prosciutto, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, fresh lemon zest and cracked black pepper, roasted at 375 degrees for about 10 minutes.