Monday, June 30, 2008

Food for the 4th

I love the 4th of July. I have fond memories of our annual block party complete with bike parade, talent show and backyard relay races. I also remember the food. Hot dogs, potato salad, cold watermelon even a cake decorated with strawberries and blueberries to look like a flag were a few of my favorites.

As I thought about what to bring to the BBQ in our neighborhood this year I hoped to make some of my favorites- just a tad bit more sophisticated. I am trading in the hot dogs, store bought yellow potato salad and cake for Grilled Kielbasa, Skillet Roasted Potato Salad and Chocolate-Berry Meringue. Wishing you all a delicious Independence Day!

Your Grocery List
Grilled Kielbasa
Skillet Roasted Potato Salad
Chocolate-Berry Meringue

photo from Better Homes and Gardens
add to kirtsy

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Grilled Kielbasa

Kielbasa sausage (one round of kielbasa serves 3-4)

Your favorite mustard

Hoagie Rolls

Optional- Sauerkraut


If you are grilling on the grill, cut the sausage into serving sizes (about 3-4 inch sections) and place on the grill turning just once and removing when the sausage is brownish pink and bulging a bit at the ends.

If you want to make this on your stove top I just put a little water at the bottom of a pan with the whole sausage. I cover the pan and cook until the color has changed to brownish pink and the ends are bulging.

I then drain the water and cook just a minute on each side to brown the sausage slightly. Let the sausage rest for a few minutes before cutting into serving sizes.

Take your sausage pieces and serve on toasted rolls with mustard.

**If you want to serve this with Sauerkraut buy the best quality sauerkraut (usually bagged or in a jar, not canned) and rinse it very well, pressing out excess liquid and heat until steaming. If you don’t rinse the sauerkraut you will get lip puckering sour taste.

Skillet-Roasted Potato Salad

From Better Homes and Gardens
6 side-dish servings

1 pound red potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces (do not peel potatoes)
2 tablespoons cooking oil or olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 medium summer squash, cut into 1-1/2-inch pieces (8 ounces total)
1/3 cup Italian vinaigrette, or other oil-and-vinegar salad dressing
1 small red sweet pepper, cut into 1/2- to 3/4-inch squares
6 cherry tomatoes, halved (Cherry and on the vine tomatoes are safe to eat)
1 teaspoon snipped fresh thyme
1/4 cup snipped fresh parsley


1. In a large skillet cook potatoes in hot oil over medium heat about 15 minutes, or until tender and brown on all sides, turning occasionally. Spoon potatoes into serving bowl. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper.

2. To same skillet add summer squash. Cook and stir over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes or until just tender. Add to the potatoes in the serving bowl.

3. Pour vinaigrette dressing over potatoes and summer squash. Add sweet pepper, tomatoes, parsley, and thyme. Toss gently to mix. Cool.

4. Cover and chill for 4 to 24 hours, stirring salad occasionally. Makes 6 side-dish servings.

Chocolate-Berry Meringue

From Better Homes and Gardens
10 servings

6 egg whites
1 cup sugar
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1-1/2 cups fresh raspberries
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
6 cups fresh blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and/or sliced strawberries
Bittersweet chocolate curls or shavings


1. Chocolate Meringue: Allow 6 egg whites to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cover a very large baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Draw a 10-inch diameter circle on paper, leaving a 1- to 2-inch margin outside the circle; set aside. In large mixing bowl beat egg whites with electric mixer on medium to high speed until soft peaks form (tips curl). Add 1 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating on high speed until stiff peaks form (tips stand straight) and sugar is dissolved. Gently fold in 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely shredded; 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder; and 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar. Spread meringue on circle on prepared baking sheet. Place in oven. Immediately reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees F. Bake for 1 hour. Remove from oven; cool completely on baking sheet on rack. Carefully remove meringue from parchment; transfer to a serving platter.

2. Raspberry Puree: In a blender place 1-1/2 cups fresh raspberries. Cover and blend until puréed; sieve, if desired. Transfer to a small bowl. Stir in 1 tablespoon sugar.

3. In chilled bowl beat cream, sugar, and vanilla until soft peaks form; spread onto meringue. Top with berries and chocolate. Drizzle raspberry purée onto plates. Serve meringue wedges atop purée. Serves 10.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Ahhhhh Mint

Nothing helps me to cool down and chill out better than the taste of mint. This week, we will combine the herb with a Moroccan style couscous salad, a refreshing fruit salad and mint ice cream. The Couscous Salad with Apricots and Spiced Chicken is full of flavor that's sure to please. Top it off with some (or a lot of) fruit salad and you will leave the table feeling refreshed and ready to face the heat yet another day.

If you have an ice cream maker you will want to dust it off and make this No Cook Mint Ice Cream. If you don't have an ice cream maker then you may just want to go out and get one so you can try this recipe.

Your Grocery List
Couscous Salad with Apricots and Spiced Chicken
Fruit Salad with Mint
No Cook Mint Ice Cream

photo from Wikipedia

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Couscous Salad with Chicken and Apricots

From Real Simple Magazine

For the Couscous Salad
1 1/2 cups instant couscous
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste
1 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, plus 6 sprigs
1 cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cooked chicken breasts, preferably Spicy Grilled Chicken Breasts (recipe follows)
3 fresh apricots (may substitute nectarines, peaches, or plums), pitted and cut into 1-inch pieces*
1 small shallot, thinly sliced
1/2 cup (2 ounces) unsalted pistachio nuts, shelled
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

For the Spiced Chicken
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground tumeric
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

Place the couscous, cinnamon, cumin, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper in a medium bowl. Bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil. Pour the water over the couscous. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Uncover and fluff with a fork. Stir in the parsley, mint, and 2 tablespoons of the oil. Set aside. Meanwhile, cut the chicken into pieces. In a large bowl, combine the chicken, apricots, shallot, pistachios, vinegar and the remaining oil. Season with the salt and pepper to taste. To serve, divide the couscous among individual plates. Arrange the chicken mixture on top and garnish with the parsley sprigs.
Preparation for the Chicken
In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon, cumin, and tumeric. Rinse the chicken and pat it dry with paper towels. Sprinkle with the spice mixture. Season with the salt and pepper and brush with the oil. Heat sauce pan on medium-high. Cook the chicken until cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes per side.

Fruit Salad with Mint

Fruit Salad with Mint

2 cups orange juice
1 package strawberries
1 package blackberries or raspberries
1 package blueberries
1 Cantaloupe or honeydew
2 sliced peaches
2 sliced kiwis
½ bunch seedless grapes
3 Tbsp finely chopped mint

Optional watermelon

Wash, slice, core or ball your fruit and combine in a large mixing bowl. Toss with the orange juice. Refrigerate until well chilled. Before serving stir in the mint and serve immediately.

If you have a large family, are having a get together or just love fruit salad. You can slice a thin strip off one side of a watermelon to make a base. Then, cut the watermelon in half lengthwise, remove the flesh of the watermelon with a melon baller and use the shell as a serving bowl. Use only 4 cups of the watermelon in the salad and reserve the rest for snacking.

No Cook Mint Ice Cream

From Martha Stewart Living

1 Cup Fresh Mint Leaves (washed and stems discarded)
1/2 Cup Sugar
1 Cup Milk
1 Cup Heavy Cream

Combine the mint and sugar in a bowl. Using the back of a wooden spoon, press the sugar into the mint leaves (mortar and pestle style) until the sugar resembles wet sand. Stir in milk and heavy cream; refrigerate at least 2 hours ( I like to do it overnight). Strain the mixture, and discard the mint solids. Freeze mixture in an ice-cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions.
* if you would like it to have a stronger mint flavor you can add a few drops of food-grade peppermint oil to the mixture before adding to the ice-cream maker.

Monday, June 16, 2008

When life gives you lemons...

...Throw a party and serve up heaping piles of Lemon Linquine and deliciously tart, Lemon Meltaways. The Lemon Linguine is one of my favorite summer dishes. It brings back memories of family dinners on the deck. I love it when it is served cold- not too cold let it sit on the table for about 5 minutes before eating. You can serve with a green salad or "Not So Fried Zucchini". The Lemon Meltaways are a perfect way to top off your theme. And, don't forget to serve ice water with lemon wedges.

Your Grocery List
Lemon Linguine
Lemon Meltaways

photo from

Lemon Linguine

By Jeanne Dunbar

2 pound uncooked linguini noodles (fresh noodles if you can find them are
the best)
1 Whole Chicken Breast
1 cup Olive Oil (the kind good enough to eat lots of)
Zest from 2 large lemons
Juice from 5 large lemons
1 cup chopped green onion
1 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
Freshly grated parmesan cheese, to taste about 2/3 cup

Boil linguini until al dente; drain well. (But make sure the olive oil
mixture is ready for the pasta to be mixed in so your noodles don’t cool and
stick together) Pan Saute the chicken breast with some (1Tnsp) olive oil
until it is a little brown on the outside and cooked through.

Meanwhile, in bowl, combine olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, green onion
and parsley. Add pasta and chicken; toss well. Season to taste with salt and
pepper. Toss in Parmesan cheese to taste. Serve warm or chilled. I think
chilled makes a great summer time meal.

I like to pour the whole mix into another serving bowl as the good
stuff likes to settle at the bottom even when you have tossed it.

Serves…well depends on how much your guests like it…I would say it serves
10-12 with some leftovers.

Lemon Meltaways

These lemon-flavored cookies are so tender that they seem to melt in your mouth.

1 1/4 c flour
1/2 c cornstarch
1/3 c powdered sugar
3/4 c butter, softened
1 T lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1 t grated lemon peel

3/4 c powdered sugar
1/4 c butter, softened
1 t lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1 t grated lemon peel

For cookies: in large mixer bowl combine all ingredients. Beat 2-3 min. on low speed until well mixed. Shape dough into two 8 x 1 inch logs. Wrap in saran wrap. Refrigerate 1-2 hours until firm. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cut logs into 1/4 inch slices. Place on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 8-12 minutes or until set. Cookies will not brown. Remove immediately. Cool Completely.

For frosting, in small mixer bowl combine all frosting ingredients. Beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Spread on cooled cookies.

A Land-O-Lakes Recipe

Monday, June 9, 2008

Some Favorites

I love Cheesecake Factory's Luau Salad. Love it- and I hope you do too. I find its easier to make a deconstructed version and I leave out a few ingredients just to ease my grocery list. You can decide for yourself how exact you want to be about re-making this delish salad. I find that my leftover carrots, snap peas and lettuce can easily be used elsewhere- its the cucumber that always goes bad. So I have included a great Cucumber Sandwich recipe as well as a Cinnamon Sugar Wonton dessert for the leftover wontons- if you have any.

Cheesecake Factory's Luau Salad

Cucumber Sandwich
Cinnamon Sugar Wonton
Your Grocery List

Cinnamon Wontons

What do do with your leftover wonton wrappers or crisps:

• 32 (3.5 inch square) wonton wrappers or ready made crisps
• 1 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted
• 3 tablespoons cinnamon sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
2. Lay the wonton out flat on a baking sheet. Brush evenly with melted margarine. Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon sugar over the top of each one.
3. Bake for 5 minutes in the preheated oven, or until crisp. Remove from baking sheets to cool on wire racks.

Cucumber Sandwich

What do do with your leftover cucumber:

• 2 thick slices whole wheat bread
• 2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
• 6 slices cucumber
• 2 tablespoons alfalfa sprouts
• 1 teaspoon olive oil
• 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
• 1 tomato, sliced
• 1 leaf lettuce
• 1/2 avocado, mashed
1. Spread each slice of bread with 1 tablespoon cream cheese. On one slice of bread, arrange cucumber slices in a single layer. Cover with sprouts, then sprinkle with oil and vinegar. Layer tomato slices and lettuce. Spread other slice of bread with mashed avocado. Close sandwich and serve immediately.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Luau Salad Revisited

An adaptation of Cheesecake Factory’s Luau Salad
photo from the Cheesecake Factory

1 bag of mixed greens
2 Grilled chicken or one grilled turkey breasts, cubed
Handful sugar snap peas, chopped
½ cucumber, chopped of sliced thin with a peeler
Mango, skinned and cubed
4 ounces carrots, peeled into thin sliced with peeler
1 ounce green onions, sliced thinly
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Optional (I made the salad without these and it was still Mmmmm good)
Red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
Yellow bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
Handful fresh green beans, blanched, cut into 3-inch pieces
1/2 Red onion, cut into small pieces

1 cup balsamic vinaigrette
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Top with:
8 (6-inch) egg roll wrappers, fried crisp AND sweet and sour sauce
OR simply use wonton crisps from the Asian food aisle
Handful toasted macadamia nuts, chopped
2 tablespoon sesame seeds

Place the lettuce, chicken, vegetables, and mango into a large mixing bowl. Season the ingredients with salt and pepper.

Whisk together the balsamic vinaigrette, seasoned rice vinegar, granulated sugar, and sesame oil. Drizzle the dressing into the bowl with the salad ingredients, and gently toss together.

Sprinkle individual salads with macadamia nuts and sesame seeds and wonton crisps (Otherwise, wonton’s will get soggy in the salad bowl).

Serves 4.

** To make it just like Cheesecake Factory’s use egg roll wrappers and all optional ingredients. Brush a little sweet and sour sauce onto each crispy egg roll wrapper. Build the salad in each serving bowl with alternating layers of salad mixture, a crispy glazed egg roll wrapper, more salad mixture, another crispy glazed egg roll wrapper and then the remaining salad mixture.
Garnish each salad with some thin sliced carrots and green onions.

Monday, June 2, 2008

No Knead Bread

My sister told me about Williams and Sonoma's adaption of the famous No Knead Bread. After making it she asked, "Do you remember the bread they serve at Macaroni Grill?" I began to drool over memories of the warm crispy outside, the oh so soft inside, drudged through olive oil when she said "Well, this is even better!"

I am trying the bread recipe this week. Be forewarned- there is no need to knead, but it does need to sit out for 12-18 hours. My sister also warned me that when the recipe says the dough will be sticky that means very very sticky. I am going to enjoy it with Ceasar Salad the first night and Tuscan White Bean soup the second night.

Your Grocery List

No Knead Bread
Ceasar Salad
Tuscan White Bean and Garlic Soup
photo courtesy of Restaurant Widow

No Knead Bread Recipe

From Williams and Sonoma. As the name implies, this homemade bread requires no kneading. See the end of this recipe for some delicious variations. Warning*** This must be prepared the day before you plan to serve it.
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
1 3/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese chunks (1/4-inch chunks)
Cornmeal as needed
In a large bowl, combine the flour, yeast, salt, black pepper, grated cheese and cheese chunks. Add 1 1/2 cups plus 2 Tbs. water and stir until blended; the dough will be shaggy and very sticky. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rest at warm room temperature (about 70°F) until the surface is dotted with bubbles, 12 to 18 hours.

Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Sprinkle the dough with a little flour and fold the dough over onto itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes.

Using just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to the work surface or your fingers, gently and quickly shape the dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel, preferably a flour sack towel (not terry cloth), with cornmeal. Put the dough, seam side down, on the towel and dust with more flour or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise until the dough is more than double in size and does not readily spring back when poked with a finger, about 2 hours.

At least 30 minutes before the dough is ready, put a 2 3/4-quart cast-iron pot in the oven and preheat the oven to 450°F.

Carefully remove the pot from the oven. Slide your hand under the towel and turn the dough over, seam side up, into the pot; it may look like a mess, but that is OK. Shake the pan once or twice if the dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with the lid and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until the loaf is browned, 15 to 30 minutes more.

Transfer the pot to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Using oven mitts, turn the pot on its side and gently turn the bread; it will release easily. Makes one 1 1/2-lb. loaf.

Walnut Bread: Use 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts in place of the cheese and black pepper.

Olive Bread: Use 1/3 cup pitted niçoise olives, 1/3 cup pitted dry-cured olives and 1/3 cup pitted picholine olives, all coarsely chopped, in place of the cheese and black pepper.

Adapted from Sullivan Street Bakery (New York City) and Mark Bittman, "The Secret of Great Bread: Let Time Do the Work," The New York Times, Nov. 8, 2006.

Ceasar Salad

1 tsp. salt
3 eggs
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
3/4 tsp. dry mustard
3 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. Parmesan cheese
4-6 cloves crushed garlic
6 tsp. red wine vinegar
1 c. plus 2 tbsp. salad oil
6 drops Worcestershire sauce
3 tbsp. olive oil

Mix in blender and refrigerate until serving with salad.

1 lg. head romaine lettuce
2 cups spinach leaves, washed and de- stemmed
2 c. croutons
8 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
Or 1 cup of cooked, diced chicken
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese

Tear lettuce in bite sized pieces in a salad bowl, add croutons, add dressing, toss to coat.

Serve with No Knead Bread

Tuscan White Bean and Garlic Soup

Giada De Laurentiis from Everyday Italian

2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 shallots, chopped
1 Tbsp Sage
2 (15-ounce) cans cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
4 cloves garlic, cut in 1/2
1/2 cup cream
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 slices ciabatta bread
Serve with No Knead Bread

Place a medium, heavy soup pot over medium heat. Add the butter, olive oil, and shallot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the sage and beans and stir to combine. Add the stock and bring the mixture to a simmer. Add the garlic and simmer until the garlic is softened, about 10 minutes. Pour the soup into a large bowl. Carefully ladle 1/3 to 1/2 of the soup into a blender and puree until smooth. Be careful to hold the top of the blender tightly, as hot liquids expand when they are blended. Pour the blended soup back into the soup pan. Puree the remaining soup. Once all the soup is blended and back in the soup pan, add the cream and the pepper Keep warm, covered, over very low heat.