Thursday, June 30, 2016

Minestrone Salad for #CookoutWeek

It's day 4 people.  This party is nearly over.  Have you entered to win that great prize package yet?

If you haven't then you need to go to my Welcome Post right now and get your name in this fantastic drawing.  Trust me when I say you don't want to miss out on this opportunity.  Speaking of opportunity, I want to thank the wonderful family over at PinterTest Kitchen for setting this whole gig up.  It is a lot of work and I want to let them know how very much I appreciate them.

Today, I am sharing a recipe that was inspired by one in the latest edition of Cuisine at Home.  I knew as soon as I saw the title, Minestrone Salad, that I wanted to make it.  When my version turned out so incredibly good, I knew that I wanted to share it with all of you and this event gave me the perfect opportunity.

This is a great salad to use up all those bits and pieces of veggies in your crisper.
You can add any veggies or type of pasta you want, just like when you make Minestrone soup.

The dressing is a simple balsamic vinaigrette.
You could also use store bought if you want or use your favorite olive oil and vinegar dressing recipe.

This salad is topped with shredded Parmesan just like the soup of the same name.
I can see me adding some chunks of ham and salami and calling it a meal instead of a side.
It goes together in minutes and would be the perfect salad to bring to a potluck or picnic.

Minestrone Salad
adapted from Cuisine at Home, Issue #118

6 oz. small pasta, I used shells
1 c. fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into bite size pieces
1 c. broccoli florets
1 c. shredded carrots
1 c. summer squash, diced
1 c. zucchini, diced
1 pint grape tomatoes
1 (15 oz) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 T. garlic paste or 1 lg clove garlic, minced
1 T. Italian Herb paste or 1/2 T. dried Italian Herbs
salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan Cheese, shredded or shaved

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.  Add the pasta and cook per package directions, adding the green beans and broccoli during the last 3 minutes of cooking.  Drain and rinse with cold water. Place in a large bowl with the carrots, squash, zucchini, tomatoes and kidney beans. 

Place the vinegar, olive oil, garlic, herbs, salt and pepper in a small jar with a cap.  Seal and shake until thoroughly combined.  Pour over the vegetables and pasta and toss to coat.  Pour into a serving bowl and top generously with Parmesan Cheese.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours to allow flavors to meld.  Print Recipe

Here is what the rest of the crew cooked up for today.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

True Made Rootbeer Pulled Pork for #CookoutWeek

My regular readers know that I am a big proponant of sneaking veggies into my family's food.  I have shared my grilled vegetable pasta sauce , numerous cakes and muffins containing zucchini, carrots, spinach and I often add greens to my stews and sauces with no one being the wiser.  In fact, the Jamaican Me Happy muffins that I shared with you on the first day of #CookoutWeek contained zucchini and flax seed for some little added nutrition.

Today is day 3 of #CookoutWeek hosted by the gals at PinterTest Kitchen.  If you haven't entered to win the great prize package listed above you need to go do that right this minute.  I will wait for you to come back before I go on with my post.  

Welcome let me tell you about this new brand of foods that was sent to me by one of our sponsors.  True Made Foods has done, commercially, what I have been doing in my kitchen for years. They have developed products that are flavored and sweetened with vegetables instead of sugar.  Not only have they taken out a lot of sugar but they have added in a ton of veggies that will provide you with extra nutrition, vitamins and fiber.  Yes, but how does it taste?  Let me tell  you...I have always made my own bbq sauce because I have never found a store bought sauce that I liked.  That has all changed.  Frank, who is even pickier than I, when it comes to bbq sauce, loved it.  Of course, I did not tell him that it is chock full of veggies.  I did, however, mention that it was made by veterans. As you may know, Frank is a vet as were both of our fathers and two of my brothers.  Frank's brother and our son, Chuck, are still active military so we hold our vets in very high esteem.  That being said, as much as I appreciate their service to our country, I would never recommend a product that I didn't love and, folks.....I LOVE this product.

I was a little concerned because I wanted to cook my pork shoulder in rootbeer and liquid smoke. Then, when I got this gift package from True Foods, I almost changed my mind because who wants to add a lot of processed, high fructose corn syrup, to a dish that would be dressed with this healthier sauce?  I went on a mission and found a rootbeer that was made with cane sugar and contained no high fructose corn syrup.  My plan was back on!!

I was making a 9 lb roast which was too big to fit into my crockpot.  Luckily, I have my handy dandy electric roaster that works very well as a big crockpot.  I put in the roast with 2 bottles of the rootbeer, some onion and 3 tablespoons of the liquid smoke.  I let it cook on low heat (about 275*) for 14 hrs.It cooked overnight while we slept.  The next morning, I removed the roast to a cutting board and shredded the meat, discarding all bones, fat, gristle and the cooking liquid.  I placed the meat into my regular sized crockpot and placed it in the refrigerator until the following day.

The next morning, I added the entire bottle of True Made BBQ sauce, filled the bottle halfway with water, shook it up to get every last bit of goodness off of the sides and poured that into the crockpot as well.  Stirred it together so all the meat was coated and cooked it on low for 3 hrs. 

This was served up with a couple of salads, a muffin and a cupcake for dessert making a complete meal that I am sharing with you, one recipe each day, to celebrate #CookoutWeek.

I want to thank True Made Foods for their generosity in sending me a 3 pack of their products containing ketchup, hot sauce and this lovely bbq sauce I am sharing with you today.  I received no other compensation and, as stated earlier, would not promote any product on my blog unless I was completely happy with said product.  I will be purchasing this bbq sauce in the future and I feel very comfortable sharing this company with my readers.  

This recipe will easily feed a large gathering of 20-25 people.  You can adjust the measurements to suit your needs but keep in mind that it freezes extremely well and is perfect to have on hand in smaller portions for those busy days. Grab a package from the freezer and make pulled pork quesadillas, pulled pork sandwiches or a pulled pork pizza.  That is what I am using our leftovers for this time and I will be sharing the results with you soon.  Pulled pork in this house is like lasagna.  I never make it for one meal without making extras for the freezer.  

True Made Rootbeer Pulled Pork

1 (8-10 lb) Pork Shoulder or Butt Roast
1 onion, quartered
2 bottles root beer
3 T. liquid smoke
1 bottle True Made BBQ Sauce (or your favorite sauce)

Place the roast in a large crockpot or electric roaster along with the onion, rootbeer and liquid smoke. Turn to low heat (275*) and let cook for 12-14 hrs or until roast is fall of the bone tender and easily shredded with a fork.  Remove from roaster to a cutting board and let cool.  Discard cooking liquid.

When roast is cool enough to handle shred the meat discarding any fat, gristle and bones. (You can now store the meat in the refrigerator or continue with the recipe.)  Place shredded pork into a slow cooker.  Add the entire bottle of bbq sauce.  Fill the bottle halfway with water, shake to get all the remaining sauce from the bottom and sides and add to the slowcooker.  Toss with tongs to coat the meat thoroughly and cook on low for 2-3 hrs or until heated through.  Print Recipe

I'm excited to see what the others are sharing today...let's go take a look!!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Dilled ColeSlaw for #CookoutWeek

Welcome to Day 2 of #Cookout Week.  Today I am featuring another great product from Swine Dining.  Swine dining is a barbecue restaurant located in Erie, PA and they have recently branched out to offer their spice mixes that are so popular in the restaurant.  You can learn more about them on their facebook page and you can purchase their products in their Etsy Shop.

#CookoutWeek is hosted by The PinterTest Kitchen.  They came up with this great idea, found fellow bloggers to join in the fun, rounded up sponsors to provide the bloggers with great products and our readers with this wonderful prize package and took care of all the administrative duties.  These ladies do all of this out of the goodness of their hearts to spread love to fellow bloggers and our followers. May all their good works come back to them tenfold.

Disclosure: I received free products from sponsors for this event.  I did not receive any monetary compensation. I was not asked or required to use the products for this event.  I chose to use this product for recipe development.  All opinions are 100% truthful and 100% my own. 

Today's recipe is the perfect accompaniment to whatever you have on the grill, from steaks to hotdogs to fish to chicken to portabellas, this slaw will fit right in.  

I made a typical coleslaw dressing from mayo and apple cider vinegar but instead of my normal seasonings I used Swine Dining Dilly Dust.  The dilly dust came in a plain container with no ingredients listed.  The folks at Swine Dining hadn't gotten that far in their production yet but wanted to get the product to us in time for #CookoutWeek. 

 I tasted the dust and found that it was salted so I didn't add any additional salt, just some fresh ground pepper, a little sugar and the dilly dust.  When I tasted it, I couldn't think of anything that could improve the was perfect.

I whisked the dressing together and then added the slaw mix.  I bought premade mix in the interest of saving time since my food processor is one of the small appliances already packed away for the move.  I tossed until the vegetables were covered with the dressing and then garnished the slaw with some sliced scallions.  I think that I have found a new coleslaw recipe for this household.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Dilled ColeSlaw

1/2 c mayonnaise
2 T. apple cider vinegar
1 t. milk
1 T. sugar
1/2 T. Dilly Dust (you can substitute with dried dill and salt to taste)
fresh ground pepper to taste
6 c. shredded coleslaw mix
2 scallions, sliced, for garnish, if desired.

Whisk together the mayo, vinegar, milk, sugar, dilly dust and pepper in a large bowl.  Add the coleslaw mix and toss to coat.  Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with scallions if desired. Chill for at least 2 hours before serving.  Print Recipe

Make sure you take a look at what the rest of the Cookout Crew is sharing today

Monday, June 27, 2016

Jamaican Me Hungry Muffins for #CookoutWeek on #MuffinMonday

Hello and welcome to the first day of #CookoutWeek 2016.  You can learn all about this event and enter to win some great prizes by going to my Welcome Post.  This event is being hosted by the gals over at The PinterTest Kitchen, so you know it is going to be great!!

I love these events because I get to know so many new bloggers and I get a ton of great ideas for recipes and entertaining.  We grill out nearly every day in the summer so I know that I am going to be coming back to these posts time and time again to try the new recipes that are linked at the end of each post.

When you read my Welcome Post and Entered the Giveaway...You already did that, right?  Good. Then you know that Swine Dining is one of our generous sponsors.  They provided me with some Wimpy's BBQ Rub, Dilly Dust and Jamiacan Me Hungry Seasoning.  All of these products are handmade in small batches, packaged up by people not machines and sent along with a handwritten thank you letter.  Guess which one I used in today's recipe?  I'll give you a hint....look at the title of my muffins.

In the welcome letter that came with these spices was a sentence that read "I appreciate your honest opinion".  That was the only request in exchange for these products that they generously supplied to me as part of this event.  This is good because I only write and share what I believe to be true here on my blog.  You can rely on that.

I find, when doing these week long events, that it is much easier and I save a lot of time and energy if I cook an entire meal and share one recipe from that meal each day.  That is what I am doing this time.  My menu for this meal is:

  • True Made Rootbeer Pulled Pork 
  • Dilled Coleslaw
  • Minestrone Salad
  • Jamaican Me Hungry Muffins
  • Ginger and Rose Cupcakes
This meal was fantabulous!!!  I served it during one of my husband's classes and it was a huge hit.  I am sharing the muffins first because....It is #MuffinMonday folks.

Those of you who are regular readers know that I like to join Stacy of Food Lust People Love on the last Monday of each month to share a muffin recipe.  If you love muffins you need to stop by and see 
all our of lovely muffins by following our Pinterest board. Updated links for all of our past events and more information about Muffin Monday, can be found on our home page.

These spicy muffins have a delicious nutty flavor from the flax seeds with just a touch of sweetness.
They paired wonderfully with the Pulled Pork.  When I opened the Jamaican Spice jar I smelled so many wonderful flavors, I knew that they were going to be perfect in a muffin and I was soooooo right.

The recipe I am sharing makes 18 muffins.  They are also wonderful as a snack or to grab on your way out the door for breakfast.  They freeze well and keep for several days in a sealed airtight container on the counter.

I cannot begin to tell you how much I love these muffins.  With my first bite I thought "uhoh, I'm not sure about the flax seed" but then I got that crunchy nutty goodness and ate not one, but two muffins...just for testing purposes....yeah, that's it...I had to make sure the whole batch was as wonderful as the first muffin.  I didn't feel to guilty though because not only do these muffins have the added health benefits from the flax seed but I also snuck in some zucchini for added nutrition. You're welcome.

Stop by tomorrow when I share my recipe for Dilled Coleslaw and make sure you take a gander at all the other recipes being shared by our #CookoutWeek crew and our #MuffinMonday makers.

Jamaican Me Hungry Muffins

2 c. shredded zucchini
1/3 c. water
1/3 c. canola oil
3 eggs, beaten
1 t. vanilla
2 3/4 c. flour
1 1/2 c. sugar
1/3 c. flax seeds
1 1/4 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
2 t. Jamaican Me Hungry spice mix (or a mixture of your favorite spices)

In a small bowl mix together the zucchini, water, oil, egg and vanilla.  In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, flax seeds, soda, salt and spice mixture.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients stirring just until combined and all dry ingredients are moistened.  

Divide evenly among 18 muffin tins that have been lined with papers or treated with baking spray. Bake in a preheated 350* oven for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center removes cleanly.  Print Recipe

Here's what's Cooking at #CookoutWeek

An InLinkz Link-up

More Marvelous Muffins

Welcome to #CookoutWeek!!

I am so excited that it is finally summer, and you know what that means - picnics, BBQs, camping, pool parties, and... cookouts! This year, we've got something special to celebrate! We joined forces with around 50 of our blogging friends to bring you #CookoutWeek - an entire week filled with yummy summer recipes perfect for your next cookout, along with a fun giveaway, courtesy of some awesome sponsors. It's super easy to enter, and one lucky winner will get:
It's pretty much everything you need to host an awesome cookout this summer. It's a prize pack worth over $300! Thank you so much to all of the wonderful sponsors listed above, who have made #CookoutWeek possible.

I am personally sharing with you a #CookoutWeek recipe each day this week, including several that contain products that I received from True Made Foods and Swine Dining.  I love creating new recipes and trying new products and I am very proud of these I will be sharing.  I am starting today with Jamaican me Hungry Muffins because not only is it #CookoutWeek but it is also #MuffinMonday.  Please make sure you stop by that post when you are done here.

I want to take a minute....this very send out a huge THANK YOU to The PinterTest Kitchen for hosting this summer blast.  These events are a lot of hard work and the gals from The PinterTest Kitchen do an excellent job each and every time they host.

Enter now!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway  

Don't forget to check back throughout the week with all of the bloggers participating to get some yummy #CookoutWeek recipes.  I was so excited when I read this list.  Not only are some of my favorites here but there are also several blogs that are new for me.  I cannot wait to get to know these bloggers and see what they are sharing with us this week.  Here's the full list of participating bloggers, with links to their home pages to make it easy for you to visit:

The PinterTest Kitchen2 Cookin' MamasA Day in the Life on the Farmaddicted 2 recipesAimee Broussard & Co.Amy's Cooking AdventuresAngels Home Sweet HomesteadBakin' and EggcerptsBalancing MotherhoodBody RebootedCheese Curd In ParadiseCindy's Recipes and WritingsCook With 5 KidsCook. Craft. Love.Cookaholic WifeCricket's ConfectionsCrumb: A Food BlogEat, Drink, Be Healthy!Everyday EileenFairyburgerFood ParsedGet the Good Stuff!Goodie GodmotherHezzi-D's Books and CooksHome in the Finger LakesJennifer CooksJessie WeaverKate's Recipe BoxLife on FoodLittle House Big AlaskaLittle Scratch KitchenMaking MiraclesMoore or Less CookingRhubarb and HoneySavvy In The KitchenSeduction in the KitchenSimple Food 365Style IslandThanks for Cookin'!The Food Hunter's Guide To CuisineThe Hungary Buddha Eats the WorldThe Spiffy CookieThe Weekday GourmetThis is How I CookTramplingroseVintage KittyWest Via Midwest
Looking forward to sharing some yummy recipes with all of our readers starting with these tasty muffins!!  

Friday, June 24, 2016

Preserving Avocados for Guacamole

If you follow me on instagram, twitter or facebook you may have seen my post 2 days ago sharing a photo of some wonderful avocados sent to me by Melissa's Produce who is one of the sponsors of an upcoming event, #GuacSquad.

You know how you get a hankering for some great homemade guacamole so you go to the grocery story and all you can find are rock hard avocados that won't be ready to make guac for at least a few days?  You end up buying store bought guac instead to satisfy that itch but you really wanted to make your own?  I hate when that happens.

Well when these avocados arrived they were ripe and ready to go.  They were sent at the peak of freshness.  I was very excited.  Unfortunately, I wasn't ready to go, so I put them in the fridge hoping to find time yesterday.  I didn't and then today we flew up north to celebrate our great nephew's birthday so I didn't get to them again.   

During the flight home I started worrying about those avocados.  Don't pretend like you never worry about your fruit and veggies that are turning.  I know I am not the only one... Anyway, I started worrying about the avocados which got me to thinking about what I do when  I worry about other produce I have an abundance of....what if I were lucky enough to have an avocado tree in my back yard?  What would I do with all of the avocados that need to be harvested at the same time?  I would preserve them.  

As soon as I got home, I cut open the avocados, removed them from the shells, discarded any dark spots and chopped up the flesh.

I placed the cubed flesh into a freezer bag and added the juice of 2 limes.  Tossed the avocado so that the lime was distributed, removed the air from the freezer bag and sealed it.  Into the freezer it went, now when I am ready to make my guacamole, my avocado will be all prepared and waiting to be tossed with my other ingredients.

As you can see, our tour starts on July 9th and runs through July 22nd.  Each day a new blogger will be sharing a guacamole recipe that they created especially for this event.  My recipe will be featured on July 13th.  I think this event is going to be avocadelicious!!

Ukha (Russian Fish Soup) for #FoodnFlix

Our movie this month for Food n Flix was "I am Love" chosen by my friend Evelyne of CulturEatz. You can see Evelyne's invitation post here.  Any blogger is welcome to join us in this group.

This very tragic, sad and depressing movie is set in Italy.  I watched it with English subtitles.  It is the story of the life of a very rich family whose patriarch passes away starting a landslide of tragedy, betrayal, hidden secrets and despair.  The moral of this story:  Money cannot buy happiness nor can looking for love in all the wrong places.

I wasn't crazy about the movie.  It is difficult for me to concentrate on a movie with subtitles because I feel like I am busy reading instead of watching the actors faces, mannerisms and subtleties.  I don't know that I would have liked the movie any better in English.  The movie didn't make me laugh or smile even once and I feel like there is enough sadness in the world without watching fictional sadness.

What the movie did have going for it is food.  The movie started with a feast and continued with feasts until the very end.  The first feast in the movie featured a Russian Fish Soup called Ukha, that had special meaning between the mother (who came from Russia originally) and her eldest son.  The last feast also featured this soup which resulted in the son realizing his mother's secrets.  This resulted in a tragic dispute and ended the movie on a very sad note.

The soup is very easy to prepare.  The recipes that I found all varied as to the type of fish used.  The mother, Emma, when describing the soup to her lover, said that it contained many different fish and a very clear broth.  I created my own recipe, taking bits and pieces from those I found on line, to share with you today.

My week got all topsy turvy again.  We were supposed to have this soup for dinner tonight but then we decided to take advantage of the weather and head up north to see Spencer for his birthday.  I needed to make the soup as I had defrosted the fish and couldn't refreeze it but we had dinner plans to take Frank's sister out for her birthday last night.  I made the soup and, knowing that we wouldn't have an opportunity to eat it before Sunday, decided to take it to my brother's house for them to enjoy. My brother sent me this photo with the comment "mmmm nummy keeper".  I think he liked it.

Ukha (Russian Fish Soup)

1 T. olive oil
1 leek, white and light green, washed and thinly slice into half moons
2 carrots, scraped and sliced
1 celery stalk, diced
2 yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into small dice
1 qt. fish stock
1 1/2 lbs. assorted fish (I used salmon and cod) skinned and cut into cubes
2 T. fresh parsley, chopped
2 T. fresh dill, chopped
juice from half a lemon

Place the olive oil in a dutch oven or soup pot and place over med high heat.  Add the leek, carrots, celery and potatoes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the leeks are tender, 2 or 3 minutes.  Add the fish stock, bring just to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook until vegetables are for tender, 15-20 minutes.  Add the fish, parsley and dill.  Cook until the fish is poached, about 5-10 minutes.  Stir in lemon juice, taste and season with more salt and pepper, if needed.  Print Recipe

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Yes, I know it's only Thursday

But we are flying to Traverse City tomorrow to see our family there because we weren't able to attend Spencer's birthday party last Sunday.  Tomorrow's weather is supposed to be beautiful so we are going to take advantage of it.  Both Lil and Spence are working from 11-4 so we will have time to visit with Jen and Randy before they join us for dinner and we head home.  I'm looking forward to seeing them all.

It is hard to believe he is 14 and starting High School.
Where does the time go??

That means that I needed to plan my weekly menu today instead of tomorrow.  Next week we are celebrating #CookoutWeek.  That is good news for you, my readers, because each day not only will I be sharing a new recipe with you but 50 other bloggers will be sharing their recipes all week long as well.  We have a huge giveaway to raffle off to one of our lucky readers as well so make sure you stop by on Monday to learn more about it and enter to win.

Before I post my menu, let me share our plans for the week.  On Saturday, Frank is teaching a CPL class so I will be providing muffins and coffee for breakfast and lunch for the class.  When class is over we have a graduation party to attend.

Sunday, my friend, Vicki, and her daughter, Torie, are hosting a wedding shower here at our house. Frank and I are meeting Tingting and Melody at church down by their house.  After Mass we are going to the Farmer's Market nearby and then we will be bringing Mel home with us for the day. The rest of the week is pretty quiet but I am sure we will find things to keep us busy.  This month has 5 Wednesdays so I will be at the food pantry this week.

Here is what I am planning to make each day.....always subject to change as you well know.

Saturday-CPL Class
Muffins and Coffee
Pulled Pork Sandwiches
Cole Slaw
Pasta Salad

Pizza on the Grill

Meatless Monday
Poached Eggs on Toast
Fresh Fruit

Hot Dogs
Leftover Salads from Saturday

Out for dinner after Food Pantry

Chicken and Lemon Pasta with Summer Vegetables

Fish Friday
Sesame  Crusted Salmon
Asian Noodle Salad

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

An Early Harvest results in a fabulous Sour Cherry Strudel

Yesterday, Frank went over to help our son in law install some light fixtures.  He came home with a gallon bag of sour cherries that Pierre had gotten from their tree in the backyard.

They were beautiful and we spent a good while pitting them all.  I then used 5 c. for a Cherry Strudel that I will be sharing with you today and froze 5 c. that I will be using to make jam in the near future.

I was surprised to get these gorgeous cherries because, as you can see, my cherries won't be ready for a while yet.  What a difference 25 miles makes.

I have never made a strudel before.  I started out by cooking the cherries with sugar and cornstarch to sweeten, thicken and soften them.  They are now like canned cherry pie filling.  I placed them in the refrigerator overnight along with a package of frozen phyllo dough to thaw.

Once you have the cherries done the only other things you need are some panko bread crumbs, phyllo dough and melted butter.  With this recipe I was able to get 3 large and 2 small strudels.  You can make 4 large or 8 small  or any combination that floats your boat.  The amounts listed in the instructions are for the large strudels

You start by layering the phyllo dough buttering between each layer, using 5 sheets of dough. Sprinkle with the bread crumbs, place the cherries in the center, leaving a border at the sides and ends.

Fold it up like an envelope, brushing with additional butter to seal the seams.  Place it on a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment or covered with a silicone mat and bake in a preheated 400* oven for 20 minutes or until flaky and golden brown.

Remove from pan onto a cooling rack and allow them to cool completely before drizzling with glaze.

 Frank and I each enjoyed a slice for breakfast.  I wrapped this strudel up and sent it with Frank back to Nicole and Pierre's house.  

These tart cherries with a hint of almond and sweet glaze turned out more perfectly than I could even imagine.  This was my first attempt at strudel and all I can say is OH MY YUM!!!

Sour Cherry Strudel

5 c. pitted tart cherries
3/4 c. sugar
3 T. cornstarch
1 t. pure almond extract
1 roll (1/2 package)  frozen phyllo dough, thawed
1 stick butter, melted
1 c. panko bread crumbs
1 c. powdered sugar
1 1/2 T. half and half

Place cherries, sugar, cornstarch and almond extract  in a large heavy sauce pan over med high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently.  Reduce heat and simmer for 2 or 3 minutes, stirring often, until thickened. Remove to a bowl and set aside to cool completely. (Can be refrigerated overnight if desired)

Unroll the phyllo dough and lay on a flat work surface covering with plastic wrap.  Remove one sheet of dough and brush with melted butter, keeping the remaining dough covered with the plastic. Remove another sheet, lay on top of first sheet, brush with melted butter.  Repeat until you have layered 5 sheets of dough.  Sprinkle 1/4 of the breadcrumbs over the layered sheets.  Place a rounded 1/2 cup of the cherries in the center of the sheets, leaving a 2" border around all sides.  Starting with the long side, flip the layers over the cherries, fold in the short side like an envelope, flip over the second long side to cover and brush with melted  butter to seal seams. Use a sharp knife to cut 4 or 5 slices along the top to allow the steam to vent.  Repeat this process 4 times.

Place strudels, seam side down, on baking sheets that have been covered with parchment or a silicone mat. Bake in a preheated 400* oven for 20 minutes, until flaky and golden brown.  Remove from pan to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.

While strudel is cooling, combine the powdered sugar and half and half, adjusting ingredients if necessary to achieve desired consistency.  Drizzle over cooled strudels.  Print Recipe

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Taco Casserole

I had chicken tacos on the menu for today but then Father's Day happened and I was left with some leftover ground beef so I needed to use that up.  I also had leftover lettuce and tomato that we used to dress our burgers.  I started nosing around my pantry and pulled out a can of black beans and some homemade salsa that I had put up last season.  I had about 1/2 package of taco shells, a can of green chiles and in the refrigerator I found some shredded Mexican blend cheese.

So what's a girl to do but to make a Taco Casserole? Now just on a side is hot here today.  I am lucky enough to have an oven in my basement and an oven in my grill.  I used the one outside today for this dinner.  If you are not that lucky save this recipe for day when you aren't going to die of heat prostration if you turn on the oven.

It only takes a half hour in the oven.  Just long enough to heat through the layers, melt the cheese and crisp the shells on top of the casserole.

This casserole will feed 3-4 people or 2 for dinner with leftovers for lunch the next day.  Garnish with lettuce and tomatoes and serve.  A dollop of sour cream would be nice too but I didn't have any.

You absolutely are going to want to try this!!!  It contains just the right amount of heat and is ready in less than an hour which makes it the perfect weeknight meal.  Serve this up with one of Frank's Fantastic Margaritas and you will cool right down and start your evening off right.

Taco Casserole

1 lb. ground beef (or meat of choice)
1/4 c. taco seasoning
3/4 c. water
1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (4.5 oz) can green chiles
3/4 c. salsa
6 hard corn taco shells
1/2 c. shredded Mexican blend cheese
1 c. lettuce of your choice, in bite size pieces
1 large tomato, seeded and diced

Brown ground meat in a skillet over med heat.  Add taco seasoning and water.  Bring to a boil, stir in beans and cook until liquid is absorbed.  Crush up 3 of the taco shells and place in the bottom of an 8" casserole.  Place the meat and bean mixture on top of the crushed shells.  Combine the salsa and chiles and lay over the meat mixture.  Crush the remaining taco shells and combine with the shredded cheese.  Lay over the top.  Bake in a preheated 350* oven for 25-35minutes.  Garnish with Lettuce and Tomatoes.  Print Recipe

Monday, June 20, 2016

Poached Cod on Wilted Spinach with Blueberry Vinaigrette for #CrazyIngredientChallenge

Well the votes have been tallied and the Crazy Ingredients in this month's challenge are....drum roll please.....Spinach and Blueberries.   Wowza....can't get any crazier than that LOL.

Image result for spinach and blueberries

Well, okay, not very crazy unless you are talking about crazy good and then they are the perfect ingredients!

I considered taking the easy way out and doing a smoothie, but my blender is packed.  Then I thought about taking an even easier way out and making a spinach salad that contained blueberries...well, I kinda did that....but I felt guilty about it so I decided to try to amp it up a bit.

I had picked up a gorgeous bag of spinach when I was at the Farmer's Market over the weekend.  It is not blueberry season here yet in Michigan but the produce market was filled with some wonderful looking blueberries so I picked some up.  

I had bought some cod that was on sale to serve on Fish Friday and thought the Spinach and Blueberries would be a great foil for the fish. I decided to poach the fish in white wine flavored with jalapenos, salt and limes.  

I cooked down some of the blueberries with white wine, balsamic vinegar, a little brown sugar, and some minced jalapeno pepper.

When the blueberries were softened and bursting open, I strained them through a fine mesh, pressing to release all the inner goodness into the bowl.

I whisked in some extra virgin olive oil and while the vinaigrette was still warm I tossed it with the spinach and fresh blueberries to wilt it without cooking it.

I plated the wilted salad on a plate, topped it with the poached cod and drizzled on some extra vinaigrette.  It was very tasty.  The buttery goodness of the cod played off very nicely to the sweetness of the salad.  I paired this with a Domaine Daulny Sancerre from the central Loire Valley in France.  You can read about the pairing here.

I hope you enjoy my spinach and blueberry concoction.  You will find the other posts featuring blueberries and spinach following the recipe.  

Poached Cod on Wilted Spinach with Blueberry Vinaigrette

2 (6 oz) portions cod fillet
1 c. dry white wine
1 lime cut into chunks
salt to taste
1 jalapeno pepper, halved (remove seeds and membrane according to taste)
1 large bunch spinach, washed and dried
2 c. blueberries, divided
1/4 c. dry white wine
1/2 T. brown sugar
1 jalapeno, minced
1 T. balsamic vinegar
2 T. extra virgin olive oil

Place wine, lime, salt and jalapeno in a med skillet over med high heat.  Cover and bring to a boil. Add the cod, lower heat to low and simmer until flaky, about 7-10 minutes.

Place spinach and 3/4 c. blueberries into a large bowl.

Place 1 1/4 c. blueberries in a small sauce pan with the 1/4 c. wine, brown sugar, vinegar and jalapeno.  Bring to a boil and cook until liquid is reduced and berries are softened and bursting. Strain into a small bowl through fine mesh, pressing on solids.  Whisk in the olive oil.  While still warm add desired amount to the spinach and blueberries, tossing to wilt the spinach.

Divide the spinach between 2 plates, top with the poached cod and drizzle with additional vinaigrette if desired.  Print Recipe

More Spinach and Blueberry Combinations.