Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Blueberry Peach Jam

The Farmer's Market was overflowing with fresh fruit last week.  My picks were blueberries and peaches.  I decided to combine the two to create this delightful jam for the cold winter months.

Blueberry Peach Jam

6 peaches, peeled and sliced
3 cups blueberries
4 cups sugar
1 box fruit pectin

Clean berries and combine with sliced peaches in a large saucepan.  Cook until soft.  Run all the fruit through a food mill and put return it to the juice left in the saucepan.  Stir in the sugar and bring to a b oil.  Add in pectin (made according to the manufacturer's directions).  Remove from heat and skim the foam off.  Can or freeze the jam.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Grilled Tuscan Pork Chops

Easy preparation and easy clean up...what could be better than enjoying these pork chops loaded with flavor?  

Grilled Tuscan Pork Chops

2-4 thick pork chops
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp oregano 
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder or 1 garlic clove, minced
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Combine everything, except the pork chops, in a large plastic bag that you can seal.  Make sure that it is all mixed together completely before adding in the pork chops.  Allow to marinade for 4 hours in the refrigerator before removing and getting ready to grill.  Remove from marinade and shake off any excess.  Grill until the internal temperature reaches 145°.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Grilled Colby Chicken Melt

What better way to begin the weekend either at home or at the lake than with an easy lunch that is sure to please.  You can use leftover chicken from the grill or some ready to go from the grocery store.  An expert sandwich flipper could make these on the grill.  I made them on the stove top.  I added in a special spread for extra flavor

Grilled Colby Chicken Melt
2 slices of your favorite bread - I used a Whole Grain Wheat
2 slices colby cheese
red pepper spread
butter, softened

Assemble just like a grilled cheese sandwich.  Butter the outside slices of bread and place one piece face down in a frying pan. Spread red pepper spread on top and lay down one slice of colby cheese over it.    Place slices of chicken breast on top of the cheese, top with a second piece of cheese, and then the other slice of bread, butter side on top.  Grill until a nice golden brown, carefully flip and grill the second side.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Sparkling Blackberry Lemonade

The polar vortex has passed and the temperatures have climbed again.  Time for a refreshing drink to celebrate on the deck.

Sparkling Blackberry Lemonade

5 lemons
1 cup blackberries, fresh or frozen
2 cups water
1 3/4 cups sugar

2 1/2 cups sparkling water

Juice the lemons and set aside.  In a small saucepan, combine 2 cups of water, the sugar and blackberries.  Cook until sugar has dissolved and berries have softened.  Strain the mixture into the lemon juice, push some of the blackberry pulp through the sieve.  Stir together and chill.  Before serving, pour in the 2 1/2 cups of sparkling water.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Garlic & Herb Cracker Spread

My weakness is crackers and whatever you can put on top of them.  My other weakness is cheese.  So feeding these two together - win-win for my tastebuds.  I used a product very similar to this to make mashed potatoes a few weeks ago.  It was kind of expensive.  I started thinking that I could make it much cheaper plus maybe healthier.  I mean, the base of it is the same as a cream cheese frosting.  I opted to use an organic Neufchatel cheese.  In it I used one of my favorite herbs - dill weed.  It adds so much flavor and it's kind of odd that I like it so much since I am not a fan of pickles.

Garlic & Herb Cracker Spread

1 - 8 oz Neufchatel cheese
4 tbsp butter

Let both come to room temperature and mix together completely.

Add in the following ~

1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp dill weed
1/8 tsp basil
1/8 tsp marjoram
1/8 tsp thyme

Stir in spices to they are evenly spread out in the Neufchatel mixture.  Place in your serving container, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Pizza Hamburgers

And now the reveal as to why I needed the hamburger buns....the pizza burger!  I made a quick pizza sauce to use as the condiment of choice.  You can stuff it with pepperoni or Canadian bacon.  I chose a slice of pepperoni which doesn't show in the photo due to the fresh mozzarella cheese that is oozing out of the burger.

Pizza Hamburgers

1# ground beef
fresh mozzarella
pepperoni or Canadian bacon
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Pizza Sauce

1 - 6 oz can of tomato paste
1 - 8 oz can of tomato sauce
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Put everything in a small saucepan and heat.  Super easy sauce.  Use it on the bun or on the side.

Shape the ground beef into patties.  Make an indent and add mozzarella cheese and pepperoni in the middle.  Cover the cheese and pepperoni completely and cook on the grill or in a pan.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Hamburger Buns

Ah the smell of baking bread...it is one of those comfort smells especially with the Polar Vortex in summer.  I forgot to pick up hamburger buns at the grocery store so what better than making some myself.  I've made honey wheat buns before so I went for plain white buns this time.  

Hamburger Buns

1 cup warm water
1 package (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
3 tbsp sugar

Mix together and let sit for 10 minutes.  

In a large mixing bowl, combine -

3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp sea salt

After 10 minutes, add in yeast mixture plus 2 tbsp melted butter and mix.  Put a dough hook on your mixture and completely combine the ingredients, scraping the sides of the bowl.  You can also use your dough setting on a bread machine.  Turn out dough onto a lightly floured board and knead until the dough is smooth.  Roll into a large ball and place in the mixing bowl that has a tablespoon of olive oil coating the sides.  Roll the dough over so all sides are covered in the olive oil.  Cover with a cloth towel and let rise until doubled.  
Turn out dough when doubled, and cut into 8 equal pieces.  Roll in your hands into 4" disks that are about 1/2" thick and place on a parchment lined baking pan.  Allow to rise again until doubled.  

Brush with an egg wash of 1 large egg and 1 tsp water mixed together.  Sprinkle on sesame seeds if you like.    Bake at 400° for about 15 minutes. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Lemon & Herb Grilled Chicken

I've had a dried bunch of oregano on top of my canister set waiting for inspiration.  I bought some chicken breasts with no plans in mind so with the addition of a lemon, this is the recipe that I created...

Lemon & Herb Grilled Chicken

2 chicken breasts, pounded slightly to they are an even thickness
1 tsp lemon zest
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper

In a large plastic bag that seals, combine all the ingredients including the chicken and let it marinate in the refrigerator for an hour.  After an hour or so, remove the chicken from the bag and shake off the excess juice.  Place on a hot grill, turning one time and cook until the internal temperature reaches 165°.  Grill the remaining lemon half for a couple minutes and spritz the top of the chicken breasts before serving.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Sweet Peas & Parmesan Risotto

I've never claimed to have a green thumb.  I can grow herbs, berry bushes and apple trees.  Out of 12 sunflowers I planted, one came up.  I'm hoping this is more due to a late start rather than any actions on my part.  My peas looked healthy when I started them inside early.  RIP little plants that did not survive the transplant.  I started over and managed to get healthy plants that my crop equaled just enough for this recipe...1/2 cup.  It's a good thing I have a few farmers markets to choose from in the valley.

Sweet Peas & Parmesan Risotto

1/2 cup Arborio rice
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup fresh peas
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
Salt to taste
1 tbsp butter

Bring the chicken stock to a gentle boil in a medium saucepan.  Stir in the rice, reduce heat to a simmer, cover the pan and let cook until the stock has been absorbed (approximately 30 minutes).  Stir in Parmesan cheese , butter and peas and cook until the peas are done.  Add in the freshly ground pepper and taste to see if it needs salt.  

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Grilled Honey Butter Sweet Corn

Another grilling favorite of mine is sweet corn. It's so easy.  Just place in aluminum foil, season however you like, seal the seams of the foil and place on the grill to cook.  Clean up is even easier!

Grilled Honey Butter Sweet Corn

Honey butter ~

1/4 cup butter, softened
1 tsp honey

Mix together.  Easy, right?

Rub the butter mixture on 3-6 ears of corn.  Place on top of heavy duty aluminum foil.  Sprinkle oregano and freshly ground pepper on top.  Wrap up the foil into a packet.  Place on indirect heat on the grill and cook for 15 minutes.  Careful opening the packet - it will be hot and there will be steam.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Tuscan Brunch Potatoes

A great way to start off the weekend is with a wonderful brunch.  This potato and sausage dish has a Italian mix of seasonings that your taste buds will be cheering molto bene when you take your first bite.

Tuscan Brunch Potatoes

1/2" sweet Italian sausage, browned and drained
1# fingerling potatoes, boiled for 20 minutes and cooled
1/4 cup onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp paprika
1 tbsp parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Heat a frying pan with 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil.  Cut the fingerling potatoes in half lengthwise and add to heated pan.  Brown and add in Italian sausage, onions and garlic.  Cook until sausage has warmed and the onions and garlic are cooked.  Stir in paprika, parsley, salt and freshly ground pepper.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Italian Hamburger

I love grilling season and Italian food so this burger combines the two in a most tasty way.  I went with the Juicy Lucy idea but with an Italian twist - would this mean it should be called a lucy succosa?  Um, no.  But it did have Fontina cheese oozing out.

Italian Hamburger

1# ground beef

1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
3 slices Fontina cheese

In a medium-sized bowl, crumble the ground beef.  Add the seasonings on top and fold in completely.  Shape into patties.  Make an indent and add cheese in the middle.  Cover the cheese completely and cook on the grill or in a pan.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Peach Crostata

Not the easiest (nor the hardest) of desserts but it certainly does showcase the star of the dessert ~ the filling.  My filling was the remainder of the delicious white peaches I had gotten.  Just think sweet juices peaches with a hint of cinnamon wrapped in a buttery dough.

Peach Crostata

Dough ~

1 cup flour
2 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp sea salt

Pulse to mix in a food processor.  Add in 1/2 cup of cold, slice unsalted butter.  Pulse until butter and flour make pea size pieces.  Add in 3 tbsp of ice water and pulse until it comes together as a dough.  Roll out onto a lightly floured surface and then form a disc and wrap in plastic.  Put in the refrigerator for 2 hours.  Roll out into a 9" circle and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Filling ~

3 peaches, peeled and sliced
1 tbsp flour
2 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Place the peach slices in a bowl.  Add in flour, sugar and cinnamon and toss until evenly coated.  Put the mixture in the center of the dough.  Fold up the sides, lightly pinching them together to hold.  Sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top before putting in the oven.  Bake for 20 minutes at 425°.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Grilled Pizza

The temperature climbed into the 90's and the wind and rain stayed away so it was time to grill.  And what better than to make one of America's favorites.  You can use a store bought dough if you'd like.  My toppings of choice this time was BBQ chicken and bacon.

Grilled Pizza

Dough -

1 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 tsp sugar
3/4 cup warm water

Mix sugar and yeast into the warm water and let sit for 10 minutes.

In a medium bowl,  combine 2 cups flour and 1 1/2 tsp sea salt.  Slowly mix in water.  Mix together (using your hands works best) until it forms a ball.  Knead for a couple minutes on a lightly floured surface and return to the bowl and rub 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil on top.  Cover with a towel and let rest for about 45 minutes.

My toppings were a cooked chicken breast that I cut into small cubes, 3 pieces cooked bacon, crumbled and 1/4 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce.  

After the dough has rested, stretch out into your pizza shape.  Lightly brush olive oil on both sides.  Place on a hot grill.  Turn after 2 minutes.  Watch closely so it doesn't burn.  After you turn it, work quickly and put on your toppings.  In my case, it was the chicken and bacon mixture.  I topped this with 1/2 cup grated Fontina and 1/2 cup grated Applewood Smoked Gouda cheeses.  Sprinkle on about 1/8 tsp of dried oregano.  Your pizza will be done when the cheese has melted.

Friday, July 4, 2014

White Peach Upside Down Cake

Happy 4th of July!

I'm just loving the white peaches this year and keep picking up more to use in cooking and baking.  And combining peaches with cinnamon is one of my favorite taste combinations.  Here's my dessert for the holiday ~

White Peach Upside Down Cake 

Bottom layer ~

1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup dark brown sugar

Pour the melted butter in a lightly greased 9" springform pan.  Sprinkle dark brown sugar evenly over the butter.  Add slices of 2 peaches (I used white) in a circular pattern.

Cake layer ~

1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cups flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup buttermilk

In a medium bowl, cream together softened butter and sugar.  Add in cinnamon, egg, vanilla and buttermilk.  Fold in flour, baking powder and salt.  Evenly spread cake mixture gently over the peaches.  Bake in a 350° for 45 minutes.  Place a piece of aluminum foil under pan because it might leak peach juice during baking.  Allow the cake to cool for 15 minutes before carefully turning over onto a serving plate.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Ground Beef & Sweet Potato Bake

High winds and intermittent rain showers, not to mention hungry mosquitoes, all combined to keep this cook inside.  I had previously made this recipe using regular potatoes but had been wanting to try it using sweet potatoes and it was a success.  Only one failure and that involved a mandoline and my knuckle.  

Ground Beef & Sweet Potato Bake

1 pound ground beef, browned with salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup green bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup onion, diced
1/2 cup carrots, diced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp celery flakes (or 1/4 cup diced celery)
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
3/4 cup beef broth
2/3 cup V8 juice
1 large sweet potato, sliced (if using a mandolin -  set it at 1/8")

Brown ground beef.  Remove from pan and add in 1 tbsp olive oil, place green pepper and carrots in the pan and cook on medium heat for 10 minutes (you can use this time to peel and slice the potatoes).  Add in onions and cook for 5 minutes.  Add in the garlic for an additional minute and the return the ground beef to the pan.  Pour in beef broth and V8 juice and add smoked paprika.  Taste to see if you need more salt and pepper.  Even better add in some Vegeta if you have it.

Line your greased baking dish with sweet potato slices (on the sides also).  Pour ground beef mixture on top and spread out evenly.  Top with a layer of sweet potatoes.  Cover and bake at 350° for 45 minutes.  Remove cover and bake for another 15 minutes.