Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Cherry Berry Cobbler for the 4th of July

(Raise.com is a platform to buy and sell gift cards. Their July 4 Fun campaign is intended to hear about everyone's holiday weekend, and share party and recipe ideas. For more creative July 4th recipe ideas, take a peek at the  "July 4th Fun" campaign with Raise.com, which features a lot of beautiful recipes for this holiday and a place where you can buy and sell gift cards that can help you save money before you even hit the stores!)

It never quite feels like summer has arrived until the 4th of July rolls around. Something about the parades, fireworks, patriotic shindigs, barbecues, and general merriment just makes the season, for lack of a better word, start.

Friends of ours hosted a 4th of July party (actually, as they call it, a 4th of Ju-Luau party, with a Hawaiian theme), and my contribution to the festivities was a cherry berry cobbler - sort of a variation on my mixed berry pie, in cobbler form, with a tweak or two.


Cobblers, as it turns out, are considered to be a pretty American dessert. Early European settlers used whatever ingredients were at hand in an attempt to make some of the familiar dishes from their homelands, and as such there are as many variations on cobblers as there were variations on settlers. In general, the requirements are some kind of fruit filling topped with some kind of crust, either a crumbly crust, a biscuity crust, or some combination thereof. Once upon a time, cobblers were served as main dishes for breakfast, or a first course for other meals. Eventually, they were relegated to the dessert category, and we sure do still love them!

This recipe was particularly nice to put together, as I still had a lot of cherries, black raspberries, and blueberries frozen from last summer, and this allowed me to make some room in the freezer.


For more great American-themed recipes and party ideas, check out Raise.com's 4th of July Fun blog post!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Zucchini Stew with Tomatoes and Onions

Wow, I did not mean to go more than two whole months without posting any new recipes! But school's finally out for summer, and I have a few things up my sleeve to share.

It's still a little early in my neck of the woods for most of our local produce to make an appearance, but one vegetable that has a recurring role at my dinner table is zucchini. There are many, many ways to prepare this veggie, but my favorite (and one of the few ways my husband will willingly eat it), is a sort of Italian-style stew with onions and tomatoes. My mom used to make this all the time when I was a kid, and for some reason we referred to it as "fixed" zucchini. Not necessarily because other ways of cooking zucchini were "broken", of course, but I think because it was "fixed up" with herbs and such.



This family recipe is very easy and can be adjusted for any number of servings. If you serve it with some nice crusty bread, it can stand in as a light main course, perhaps for lunch. It also pairs well with grilled chicken as a side dish. I still recommend crusty bread to sop up all the juices.


Monday, April 28, 2014

Grilled Shrimp with Homemade Barbecue Sauce (Guest Post)

Author Bio: This is a guest post by Elizabeth L. on behalf of Alexia Foods. Visit www.alexiafoods.com to find oven roasted French frieswhole wheat rolls, and more.

Are you dying to have some barbecue now that the weather is warming up? Try out this recipe to remind you that summer is definitely on its way. You can even make your own barbecue sauce! It will take about 37 minutes to prepare this dish so you won’t even need to slave away in the kitchen all day to have a great meal. It will be ready in no time at all!



Ingredients

Grilled Shrimp
  • 16 large jumbo shrimp
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper

Homemade Barbecue Sauce
  • 1 slice bacon
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 tablespoons red or white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika (or smoked paprika if available)

Method:

Shrimp: 
  • Use a pair of scissors or paring knife to slit the backs of the shrimp and remove the vein. 
  • Combine the shrimp and olive oil in a bowl and toss evenly to coat. Cover and keep refrigerated until ready to grill. 
  • Prepare homemade barbecue sauce (directions below).
  • Prior to heating, wipe down the grates of a large outdoor grill with oiled paper towel to create a nonstick surface. Next, heat the grill to medium-hot. 
  • Season shrimp with salt and pepper and place on the grill. Baste with the homemade barbecue sauce and grill for 3-4 minutes on each side. Brush with more sauce just before serving.


Homemade Barbecue Sauce: 
  • Wrap the bacon slice around the bunch of thyme and tie with kitchen twine so you have a nice bundle.
  • Heat about 2 tablespoons of oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. 
  • Add the bacon-wrapped thyme and cook slowly for 3 to 4 minutes to render the bacon fat and give the sauce a nice smoky taste. 
  • Add the onion and garlic and cook slowly without coloring for 5 minutes. 
  • Add the remaining ingredients, give the sauce a stir and turn the heat down to low. 
  • Cook for 20 minutes to meld the flavors. 
  • Once the sauce is done cooking, remove the thyme bundle and discard. 
  • Take about 1 1/2 cups of the sauce and reserve for serving alongside the shrimp and Alexia Sweet Potato Puffs at the table. Sweet potato fries would taste delicious with this, too!





Thursday, April 10, 2014

Fried Polenta with Italian Vegetables (Meatless Meals for Lenten Fridays)

Polenta is kind of a weird food. It's basically cornmeal that's cooked into a sort of paste, and depending on the consistency, can be served either as a soft, almost pudding like base for Mexican and Italian dishes alike, or shaped into a sort of sausage that can later be sliced and fried.

This dish, based on the Fried Polenta with Vegetable Marinara from The Pampered Chef 29 Minutes to Dinner cookbook, requires the use of the second type of polenta. I've made it a couple times before, and this time I played quite a bit with the veggies to make it more my own.


You can make your own polenta, but it's also readily available in most grocery stores.

Continue reading to find out how I made this, my way.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Caprese Chicken

Back in November, I was looking for a new and tasty but easy to prepare dish that I could serve when we invited our priest to dinner. In my search, I discovered a creative recipe for Caprese chicken from The Novice Chef, and it turned out delicious.

Last night, in my efforts to finish up a few odds and ends around the kitchen, I realized I had the ingredients to make Caprese chicken again. But this time, I added a few slight twists to make it my own.


The beauty of this recipe is that you can easily multiply the ingredients to increase the servings - or just make it for one! Here's how I made it.


Thursday, March 6, 2014

Spicy Sicilian Style Sauce (Meat Free for Lenten Fridays)

Since I'm finally getting back the energy and drive to cook again, it felt good to be in the kitchen, putzing with one of my favorite recipes. This was something I experimented with a couple summers ago when we had a boom year for tomatoes, and it was so tasty, this spicy Sicilian style sauce has become something of a standard in our house.


I'm not 100% sure if it's accurate to call this "Sicilian style", but based on what I saw and ate when I was actually in Sicily a few years ago, I think it's close enough.


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Stuffed French Toast

My holiday hiatus lasted way longer than I intended, and for good reasons. But now I'm back, and I have a delicious recipe to share with you today.

So what can you make with all of this?

Stuffed French Toast

Stuffed French Toast!

I've been sitting on this recipe for a while, partly because I forgot about it. But since I have a snow day and just made myself some "regular" French toast, it seemed a nice treat to post about.

Stuffed French Toast

There are many versions of this treat out there. I've even indulged in the version served at Cinderella's Royal Table in Disney World, which honestly was the best stuffed French toast I've ever had, despite not actually involving toast as far as I could tell. This particular version comes from What to Expect: Eating Well When You're Expecting.

(And since some of you out there may now be asking the obvious question, the answer is yes.)