Thursday, June 30, 2011

Crispy Corn Fritters with Chipotle Cream Cheese Dipping Sauce

With sweet corn season upon us, there is no better time to make Crispy Corn Fritters with Chipotle Cram Cheese Dipping Sauce. They’re impossibly simple to make and impossible to resist.

Crispy Corn Fritters with Chipotle Cream Cheese Dipping Sauce
Makes 14-16 Fritters

2 teaspoons canola
1 ear fresh sweet corn kernels (about 1 cup)
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 small red bell pepper, diced
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup biscuit mix
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon cumin
The zest of 1 lime
¼ cup milk
1 large egg

Dipping Sauce:
3 ounces Philadelphia cream cheese, softened
¾ cup chipotle salsa
1 to 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm 2 teaspoons canola oil. Add corn and saute 2 minutes or until golden brown. Add scallions and red bell pepper, and saute 3to 5 minutes, or until vegetables are browned but not too soft. Stir in the cilantro. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large bowl stir biscuit mix, salt, cayenne, cumin, and lime zest. Whisk the milk and egg and add to the biscuit mixture. Stir until just combined. Add the vegetables and stir until just incorporated.

In a deep, heavy bottomed pot, add 2 inches of canola oil, and heat to 375 degrees F. Drop batter by the teaspoonful into the hot oil and fry a few at a time, 30 to 60 seconds, flipping once, until golden brown all over. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate. Repeat.

To make the dipping sauce: Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and stir until well blended. Serve with hot fritters.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Grilled Portobello Mushrooms with Tomatoes and Fresh Mozzarella

Trying to eat healthier? Or perhaps trying to eat meals that won’t weigh you down? Well, do I have a recipe for you that’s oh-so simple, utterly delicious and truly satisfying. Bet you’ll be making this all summer long.

Leftovers? What’s that? Turn them into the most divine salad by cutting up the Portobello mushrooms and adding the tomato mozzarella mixture to spinach with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and toasted pine nuts. You’re welcome.

Grilled Portobello Mushrooms with Tomatoes and Fresh Mozzarella
Serves 4

3 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for greasing grill pan
4 large Portobello mushrooms (about 5 inches in diameter), stemmed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 small to medium sized vine ripened tomatoes, cut into ½ -inch pieces
8 ounces fresh water-packed mozzarella, drained, cut into ½ -inch cubes
¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves

Prepare the barbecue (medium-high heat).

Drizzle 3 tablespoons of olive oil over both sides of the mushrooms. Sprinkle the mushrooms with salt and pepper. Drizzle olive oil on grill pan to prevent mushrooms from sticking. Grill until the mushrooms are heated through and tender, about 5 minutes per side.

Meanwhile, whisk the extra-virgin olive oil and garlic in a medium bowl to blend. Add the tomatoes, cheese, and basil and toss to coat. Season the tomato salad, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Place 1 hot grilled mushroom gill side up on each of 4 plates. Sprinkle with more salt and pepper. Spoon the tomato salad atop the mushrooms, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil to finish, about 1 tablespoon and serve.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

One of my all-time favorite bar treats is the classic chocolate chip cookie bar. Are you surprised since I am obsessed with chocolate chip treats? I love chocolate chip cookies, chocolate chip muffins, chocolate chip ice cream! Everyone needs this easy recipe for chocolate chip cookie bars!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
Makes 24 cookie bars

2 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
12 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups chocolate chips
Sea salt, for sprinkling over bars-optional

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Spray a 9x13-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the melted butter and sugars together until combined. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla extract and mix until smooth. Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix on low, just until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Pour cookie dough into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with the spatula. Sprinkle cookie bars very lightly with sea salt, if desired. Bake cookie bars for 25-30 minutes or until the top of the bars are light golden brown and the edges start to pull away from the pan. Cool bars on a wire rack to room temperature. Cut bars into squares and serve.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Portobello Stuffed with Sausage, Spinach and Smoked Mozzarella

I just picked up the biggest Portobello mushrooms from Sam’s Club this weekend. What to make with them? Hmmm… How about stuffing them with sausage, spinach and smoked mozzarella? Doesn’t that just sound delish? Oh, and it was…

Portobello Stuffed with Sausage, Spinach and Smoked Mozzarella
Serves 4

¾ pound mild Italian sausage
6 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup dry red wine
8 ounces fresh spinach leaves, stems removed and coarsely chopped
½ cup water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
4 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
12 ounces fresh smoked mozzarella, cut into small cubes
4 large Portobello mushrooms, stems removed
2 plum tomatoes, thinly sliced

Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

Brush sausages with olive oil and place on the grill. Cook until browned on all sides.

Put the sausage into a sauté pan, add the wine and cook until the wine is completely reduced. While the wine is reducing, break up the sausage into small pieces. Add the spinach, ½ cup of water and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the spinach has wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the 2 tablespoons of the basil, 2 tablespoons of the parsley and the cheese and let cool slightly.

Heat the grill to high.

Brush the mushroom caps on both sides with the remaining oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the mushrooms on the grill, top side down and cook until golden brown, about 4 minutes.

Remove the mushrooms from the grill and place on a flat surface, cap side down. Fill the mushrooms with the sausage mixture and top each with a few slices of tomato. Season the tomatoes with salt and pepper and place on the grill, cap side down, close the cover and cook until the mushroom and filling have heated through, the cheese has melted and the tomatoes are soft, about 5 minutes. Remove to a platter and sprinkle tops with the remaining parsley and basil.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Cantaloupe, Prosciutto and Arugula Salad

Take your fruit servings beyond an apple a day with this recipe. This is a fresh interpretation of the classic Italian antipasto of melon and prosciutto. This salad should be attempted only when melons are in season - it's a great addition to an al fresco dinner in the heat of summer. So simple, so refreshing, so satisfying.

Cantaloupe, Prosciutto and Arugula Salad
Serves 4 to 6

¼ cup champagne vinegar or white-wine vinegar
1 tablespoon minced shallot
½ teaspoon minced garlic
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
½ cup vegetable oil or vegetable-olive oil blend
1 tablespoon minced mixed fresh herbs (such as basil, chives, and parsley)
8 ounces fresh arugula, rinsed and spun dry
1 cantaloupe, halved, seeded, peeled, and cut into thin wedges
6 to 8 thin slices prosciutto, torn into bite-size pieces

In a mixing bowl combine the vinegar, shallot, garlic, mustard, salt, and pepper and whisk to combine. While continuously whisking, add the oil in a slow, steady stream until completely incorporated. Whisk in the herbs, and set aside while you prepare the salad.

Drizzle in ¼ cup of the vinaigrette over the arugula in a large bowl and toss to combine. Add more vinaigrette to taste, if desired, and season lightly with salt and pepper. Toss gently to combine.

Arrange the cantaloupe wedges on a large serving plate, top with the arugula salad and the prosciutto. Serve immediately.

Helpful Hint: Any unused vinaigrette can be stored in a nonreactive, airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Pork Sandwiches with Cilantro-Jalapeno Slaw

Today’s recipe is more about the slaw than the pork. I used my Coca-Cola shredded pork for this sandwich, which I posted here in March. If you haven’t made it yet, please do so. Thank you. You don’t have to use pork. You can use any shredded meat like chicken or a braised brisket. The beauty here is the slaw! I usually add twice as much slaw as meat. The medley of meat drippings and creamy dressing from the slaw create a flavor explosion that is quite sinful. I apologize now for corrupting you. I won’t hold it against you if you slurp it up and lick your fingers.

Pork Sandwiches with Cilantro-Jalapeno Slaw
Serves 12

Pulled pork
1 whole onion, peeled and quartered
1 whole pork butt (pork shoulder roast)
Salt and pepper
1 can (11 ounce) chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
2 cans Coca-Cola

½ heads cabbage, sliced thin
½ heads purple cabbage, sliced thin
1 whole jalapeno, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
½ cups whole milk
½ cups mayonnaise
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
¼ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 cups cilantro leaves, barely chopped

12 tablespoons butter
12 whole good quality Kaiser or deli rolls

Pulled Pork: Peel the onion and cut it into wedges. Lay them in the bottom of a large slow cooker.

Generously salt and pepper the pork roast, then set it on top of the onions in the pot. Pour the can of chipotle peppers over the pork (include the sauce.) Pour in both cans of Coke. Place lid over pot, then cook for ten hours.

Remove meat from pot and place on a cutting board or other work surface. Use two forks to shred meat, discarding large pieces of fat. Strain as much of the fat off the top of the cooking liquid as you can and discard it.

Return the shredded meat to the cooking liquid, and keep warm until ready to serve. (You can also refrigerate the meat and liquid separately, and then remove hardened fat once it’s cold. Then heat up the liquid on the stovetop and return the meat to the liquid to warm up.

Slaw: Combine shredded cabbage and sliced jalapenos in a bowl. In a separate bowl mix milk, mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, salt, and cayenne. Pour over cabbage. Toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate two hours. Before serving, toss in cilantro leaves.

Sandwiches: Butter both halves of Kaiser rolls, then brown them on a griddle or skillet until golden and crisp on the surface. Load up each sandwich with shredded pork, and then REALLY load them up with the slaw.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Pineapple Salsa

I love pineapple salsa. Sweet, colorful and refreshing, it’s the perfect accompaniment during the summer. Put it on chips, fish tacos, pork or chicken. The possibilities are endless. Make sure you use fresh pineapple for best results.

If you are looking for a new salsa to try this summer, make a bowl of this fresh pineapple salsa. I know I’ll be making this salsa all summer long – as long as my tongue allows me to eat it.

Pineapple Salsa
Makes about 2 ½ cups

2 cups diced fresh pineapple
1 cup diced red pepper
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
3 tablespoons finely chopped jalapeno pepper, stemmed and seeded
1 clove garlic, minced
Juice of 1 large lime
Salt, to taste

In a medium bowl, combine pineapple, red pepper, cilantro, red onion, jalapeno, garlic, and lime juice. Stir until well combined. Season with salt, to taste. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Sesame Toasted Sugar Snap Peas

Sugar snap peas are delicious on their own and can be eaten raw. The less you do to them, the better, to let their crunchy sweet taste shine. This recipe makes the peas glisten with just a smidge of nutty sesame oil. A quick burst of heat enhances their naturally sweet flavor and vibrant color. Just remember, do not overcook.

Sesame Toasted Sugar Snap Peas
Serves 4

1 (12-oz) bag Sugar Snap Peas or snow peas
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
Pinch salt
2 Tbsp water
1 tsp sesame seeds

Heat skillet or wok over medium-high heat.

Mix peas, sesame oil, and salt in a mixing bowl until evenly coated.

Toss peas into skillet. Add water and quickly stir-fry for 2-3 minutes until water evaporates and peas are bright green and still crisp.

Remove from heat and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Jamaican Jerk Burgers

Looking for a way to spice up a summer barbecue? Try this hamburger seasoned with a Jamaican spice mixture of Scotch bonnet peppers, thyme, cinnamon, nutmeg and garlic. Scotch bonnet peppers, or their habanero cousins, are insanely hot, so you don’t really need much. You can substitute jalapenos, but the flavor is really different, so I would stick to Scotch bonnets or habaneros if you can get them. Cool off the chili heat with a citrus, mayo-based coleslaw. The oil in the mayo helps to absorb the spicy chili, to take the edge of the heat.

*Note: Scotch Bonnet and habanero chile peppers are very hot and can cause extreme pain if they come in contact with your eyes. Strongly recommend wearing protective gloves while handling the chilies and the jerk mixture.

Jamaican Jerk Burgers
Makes 6 burgers

2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 Tbsp water
½ Scotch bonnet or habanero chili pepper, seeds removed, minced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp fresh thyme
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon molasses
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ pounds ground beef, at least 16% fat
2 cups shredded cabbage
Pinch of chopped thyme
3 Tbsp mayonnaise
2 Tbsp of orange juice or lime juice (if using lime juice add a teaspoon of sugar)
1 teaspoon of grated orange or lime zest
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a food processor, put the vinegar, water, chili, garlic, thyme, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, molasses, ½ teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Pulse until finely chopped. If you do not have a food processor, finely mince the chili and garlic. Mix ingredients together in a bowl.

Using your hands, gently mix the jerk mixture in with the ground beef in a large bowl until just incorporated. Do not over-mix. Shape into patties, about ½ inch thick and wider than the diameter of your hamburger bun. Chill about 30 minutes or until you are ready to cook. (Remember to wear gloves while handling jerk seasoning or thoroughly wash hands with soap and water after handling.)

In a medium bowl, gently mix the cabbage, thyme, mayonnaise, citrus juice, zest, salt and pepper.

Prepare gas or charcoal grill for cooking over high direct heat. Place the patties on the clean, well-oiled grill grate. Grill the burgers for about 5 minutes per side. Do not press down on the burgers while cooking. If you don't have a grill, you can use a grill pan or a cast iron frying pan.

Serve burgers topped with coleslaw, with or without hamburger buns.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Cinnamon Almond Butter

Almond butter is one of those great pleasures in life. It is somewhat pricey so when I saw a recipe for homemade Cinnamon Raisin Almond Butter I knew I had to try it. I am typically a raisin hater but the raisins disappear after processing. Besides they add just a hint of sweetness to the almond butter. This is great on toast, sandwiches, a great dip for apples or stirred into oatmeal. Plus, the recipe only has four ingredients – almonds, cinnamon, raisins and vanilla. You can’t get any easier than that!

Cinnamon Almond Butter

2 cups almonds
¼ cups raisins
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread almonds on a 9x13 baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool for 20 minutes or so.

Place roasted almonds in a food processor and process for 10 minutes, occasionally scraping down the sides.

Add remaining ingredients and begin processing again.

Process until smooth, occasionally scraping down the sides. About 3-5 more minutes.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Strawberry Sorbet

This is a surprisingly quick and nutritious sorbet and the mint is a great garnishment to use in the summer since it cools and calms the temperament. It’s the perfect dessert after a long, hot day.

Strawberry Sorbet

2 cups frozen wild organic strawberries
¼ cup rice milk
2 tablespoons honey
Mint sprigs for garnish

Put frozen fruit in blender and add rice milk (use only enough to get blender going, may not need all). Pulse a few times until mixture is smooth but still chunky.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Taco Burgers

I love tacos. But a taco burger? Whaaaat? This recipe is so simple and the burgers turned out great. The patties were nice and moist, juicy and so full of flavor. All of the flavors worked really well in burger form, surprisingly, though they were a bit messy.

Taco Burgers
Makes 4 burgers

1 pound ground beef
3 tablespoons taco seasoning
4 buns
4 slices cheddar cheese

Mix the taco seasoning into the ground beef.

Form into 4 patties ¾ inches thick and press your thumb into the middle to form a depression on top prevent bulging.

Brush the patties with oil, place on grill and cook until golden brown and slightly charred, about 3-5 minutes per side.

Set aside, cover and let rest for 10 minutes.

Assemble burgers to taste.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Okay, these are a little funny looking. But boy, are they delicious. Churros remind me of county fairs, carnivals and Disneyland. They make me feel like a kid again with the sugar (or chocolate in this case) sticking to the corners of my mouth. Mmm… Hungry yet?

Makes 20 small churros

For the Churros:
Canola or vegetable oil, for frying
½ cup, plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup unsalted butter
1 cup water
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 large eggs

For the Chocolate Sauce:
½ cup dark chocolate chunks
Scant 1 cup heavy cream
Pinch of salt
½ teaspoon espresso powder (optional)

Add enough oil to a large saucepan or deep skillet to measure 2-inches deep. Attach a candy/deep fry thermometer to side of the pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together ½ cups sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, melt butter, water, 1 tablespoon of sugar and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and add flour all at once. Quickly stir together with a spatula until no lumps remain, and the mixture begins to form a ball. This will take about 30 to 45 seconds. Remove from heat and place loose dough ball in a large bowl.

With a spatula, beat the eggs into the dough one egg at a time. The mixture may appear to be a broken mess, but keep stirring. Keep the faith.

After the eggs are added, the mixture will be slightly gummy and slightly thick. That’s perfect.
Spoon batter into a large pastry, or strong Ziploc bag with a large open star tip attached.

Heat the oil, over medium heat, to 350 degrees F.

Carefully pipe about 4 inch long dough segments into the hot oil. Use a pair of kitchen shears to cut the dough from the star tip. It’s hard not to splash yourself with hot oil, just be as careful.
Fry dough for 5 to 7 minutes. This might seem like a long time, but the dough through the center needs to cook through. The churros will be a deep golden brown, and may split slightly when cooked. Keep an eye on the timer. Remove churros from hot oil and place on a paper towel. After slightly degreased, toss in cinnamon sugar mixture and place on a plate to serve.

To make the chocolate sauce:
Place chocolate chunks, pinch of salt, and espresso powder (if using) in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a boil. Pour the heavy cream over the chocolate pieces. Let rest for 1 minute before whisking. Whisk until chocolate is completely melted. Serve warm with warm churros.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Grilled Philly Cheesesteaks

Father’s Day is next Sunday. If I know my husband, he’ll want a big, juicy steak. Here’s a recipe to serve Dad a good steak without spending half the week’s food budget. Not to mention it calls for tender rib-eye which is better than the cheaper, chewier cuts. And you only need one steak for four hearty sandwiches. I purposely omitted the onions but feel free to add them if you’re so inclined. So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and enjoy the afternoon with him!

Grilled Philly Cheesesteaks
Serves 4

1 Tb. olive oil
2 Tbs. steak sauce, such as A-1
1 Tb. soy sauce
1 tsp. each: garlic powder, paprika, coarsely ground black pepper
1 rib-eye steak (about 1 pound and 1 inch thick)
½ of a 12-ounce jar fried peppers, oil drained and reserved
4 hoagie or sub rolls
Olive oil and red wine vinegar for drizzling
4 slices provolone cheese, halved

Mix oil, steak sauce, soy, garlic powder, paprika and pepper in a small bowl. Place steak on a plate; prick all over on both sides with a fork. Spread half the marinade on one side; turn steak(s) over and repeat on remaining side; let stand while grill heats. (Can marinate at room temperature up to 2 hours or refrigerate overnight.)

Heat gas grill igniting all burners on high for at least 10 minutes. Clean with a wire brush, then lubricate with an oil-soaked rag, the portion of grate where steak will grill.

Place steak on hot rack; cover and grill until impressive grill marks form, about 4 minutes. Cook steak to desired doneness, 4 to 5 minutes longer for medium. Sauté peppers in a large cast-iron or heavy ovenproof skillet, remove steak from grill, let rest 5 minutes, and then slice thin. Reduce burners to low; add buns and grill until toasted and warmed through, 2 to 3 minutes.

To assemble, drizzle each bun with a little olive oil and vinegar. Fill with a portion of steak and peppers; top with cheese. Return sandwiches to warm grill; cover and continue to grill until cheese melts, a couple of minutes longer. Serve immediately.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Roasted Caprese Salad

Nothing beats a good, simple salad, especially a caprese salad. This is a unique take on it, roasting the tomatoes! I love roasting vegetables (asparagus, broccoli); however, I would have never thought of roasting tomatoes for this recipe but it adds another depth of flavor to an already fabulous salad.

Roasted Caprese Salad
Serves 4

8 cups organic heirloom style grape or cherry tomatoes
6 cloves garlic, sliced in half lengthwise
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 oz low fat mini bocconcini cheese, sliced in half
12 leaves fresh basil
Sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350F.

Cut four pieces of aluminum foil large enough to fold.

Toss tomatoes, garlic, oil, and vinegar in a large mixing bowl and season with salt and pepper.

Divide tomato mixture evenly among cut foil and fold to make a pouch. Using a fork, carefully puncture each foil pouch a few times and place on baking tray. Place in oven and roast for 20 minutes, until tomatoes are soft and fragrant. Slightly open each pouch and drain excess liquid. Evenly distribute cheese among each pouch and place back ion oven for five minutes more. Allow to cool for a 3-4 minutes before serving. Top with basil leaves.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Dulce de Leche Ice Cream Sandwiches

Dulce de leche normally takes hours to make. And quite frankly, I don’t have the time for such drawn out recipes. The recipe for this method is much snappier and makes for a quick clean-up, and to my surprise tastes awesome. Make these this summer and you’ll be the hit at every picnic, neighborhood block party or potluck gathering.

Dulce de Leche Ice Cream Sandwiches

2 cans of sweetened condensed milk
1 cup of butter
1/2 cup of sugar
pinch of salt
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 box of vanilla ice cream

Remove the label from the sweetened condensed milk cans. Place the cans in a pot and cover completely with water. Bring the pot to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer and let simmer for about 2 ½ – 3 hours, making sure to add more water as necessary to keep the cans fully submerged in water. Remove the cans of dulce de leche from water and let cool to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Cream together butter, sugar and salt and add the flour and combine. Roll out the dough to ½ -inch on a lightly floured surface. Using a 2 ½ – inch round cutter, cut out shortbread cookies and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

To assemble the ice cream sandwiches, open the cans of dulce de leche. Note: since the ice cream was melting so fast, I decided to do two sandwiches at a time. Lay half of the shortbread cookies on a tray. Spread dulce de leche on one half of the cookies. Grab ice cream and cut off a 1/2 inch slice and lay on cutting board. Grab 2 inch round cutter and cut out ice cream. Place the ice cream on the cookie and top with the other half. Lightly press down and wrap in saran wrap and place in freezer until ready to serve. Repeat.

{The boxed ice cream is a must. It makes assembling these ice cream sandwiches super easy. I cut about a 1/2 ice cream slice and cut it with a 2 inch cookie cutter. I used a cookie cutter smaller than the one I used to cut the short bread cookies. Act fast. Ice cream seems to melt much faster when working with it.}

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Wasabi Cucumber Sesame Salad

Fresh, crunchy cucumbers are always a welcome sign of good summer eats. If you're craving something refreshing, light and just a little spicy – this will be right up your alley. This simple recipe makes a light supper without weighing you down, making it the perfect summer dish.

Wasabi Cucumber Sesame Salad
Serves 6

3 medium sized cucumbers, sliced thin
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 teaspoons prepared wasabi
¼ teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar

In a colander spread sliced cucumbers out and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of salt. Let stand and drain for about 15 minutes. Gently squeeze out any excess water and add to bowl.

While cucumbers are draining, toast sesame seeds in dry pan over medium, until browned, stir/toss occasionally. About 5 minutes.

Mix together vinegar, wasabi, soy sauce and sugar.

Toss cucumber, sesame seeds and wasabi mixture until combined well.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Pretzel Bites

This is great recipe to make with the kids. I made a cheese sauce to go with the savory pretzels. My kids had a lot of fun rolling out the dough, twisting, boiling and baking the pretzels. They are perfect for dipping and snacking. And more important, sharing!

Pretzel Bites

Soft Pretzels:
1 ½ cups warm water
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 package active dry yeast
3 ounces unsalted butter, melted
2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
4 ½ to 5 cups all-purpose flour
Vegetable oil
3 quarts water
¾ cup baking soda
1 whole egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water
Coarse sea salt

For the cheese sauce:
½ Tablespoon unsalted butter
½ Tablespoon all-purpose flour
½ cup milk
8 ounces Cheddar cheese, grated

For the Pretzels: Combine the water, sugar, yeast, and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix with the dough hook until combined. Let sit for 5 minutes.

Add the salt and flour and mix on low speed until combined. Increase the speed to medium and continue kneading until the dough is smooth and begins to pull away from the side of the bowl, about 3 to 4 minutes. If the dough appears too wet, add additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Remove the dough from the bowl, place on a flat surface and knead into a ball with your hands.
Oil a bowl with vegetable oil, add the dough and turn to coat with the oil. Cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap and place in a warm spot until the dough doubles in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Bring the water to a boil in a small roasting pan over high heat and add the baking soda.
Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a flat surface. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces, about 4 ¼ to 4 ½ ounces each. Roll each piece into a long rope measuring 22 inches and shape. Cut the dough into one inch pieces to make the pretzel bites. Boil the pretzel bites in the water solution in batches. We did about 15 bites at a time. Boil for about 30 seconds. Remove with a large slotted spoon. Place pretzel bites on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Make sure they are not touching. Brush the tops with the egg wash and season liberally with the salt. Place into the oven and bake for 15 to 18 minutes until golden brown.
Remove to a baking rack and let rest 5 minutes before eating. Serve with cheese sauce.

To make the cheese sauce: Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and cook until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and stir in the Cheddar cheese until smooth and all of the cheese is melted. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake

This cake is great for breakfast, brunch, a sweet snack or dessert. The chocolate and cinnamon combination is delightful.

Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake
Makes 9-12 pieces of cake

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips

Cinnamon Sugar Topping/Filling:
¼ cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set dry ingredients aside.

Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and 1 cup sugar until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add in the eggs, one at a time, beat until smooth. Beat in the sour cream and vanilla extract. Mix until well combined.

Slowly add in the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. In a small bowl, make the cinnamon sugar topping/filling. Stir together sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Pour half the batter into the prepared cake pan and sprinkle with half the cinnamon-sugar and half the chocolate chips. Spoon the remaining batter over the filling, spreading gently. Sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon-sugar and chocolate chips.

Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool to room temperature and serve.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Salmon Burgers

How many of you think making a salmon burger is a complicated, time-consuming process? I did. But it’s neither. In fact, you can crank out these salmon burgers in about the same time it takes to heat a frozen pizza. And they are good.

You might even have most of the ingredients on hand for this recipe: salmon, Dijon mustard, shallots, bread crumbs and capers. The “secret” is that you let the food processor do most of the work, followed by a little stirring. Shape the burgers, cook them in a nonstick skillet, and you’re done.

These burgers are firm but juicy, and the capers add a nice surprise to each bit. Dress them any way you wish or let them hold their own on a bed of greens. To each his own. Bon appétit!

Salmon Burgers
Makes 4 burgers

1 ½ pounds skinless, boneless salmon
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 shallots, peeled and cut into chunks
½ cup coarse bread crumbs
1 tablespoon capers, drained
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
Lemon wedges
Tabasco sauce
Optional burger toppings: lettuce, red onion, Provolone, tartar sauce

Cut the salmon into large chunks, and put about a quarter of it into the container of a food processor, along with the mustard. Turn the machine on and let it run – stopping to scrape down the sides if necessary – until the mixture becomes pasty.

Add the shallots and the remaining salmon, and pulse the machine until the fish is chopped and combined with the puree. No piece should be larger than a quarter inch or so; be careful not make the mixture too fine.

Scrape the mixture into a bowl, and stir in the bread crumbs, capers and some salt and pepper. Shape into four burgers.

Place the butter or oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet, and turn the heat to medium-high. When the butter foam subsides or the oil is hot, cook the burgers for 2 to 3 minutes a side, turning once. Alternatively, you can grill them: let them firm up on the first side, grilling about 4 minutes, before turning over and finishing for just another minute or two. To check for doneness, make a small cut and peek inside. Be careful not to overcook. Serve on a bed of greens or on buns or by themselves, with lemon wedges and Tabasco or any dressing you like.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Tuna Melt

I love tuna melts. They are not the healthiest meals but boy do they taste delicious, especially when they’re on an English muffin. It brings back fond childhood memories…. This colorful, spicy tuna salad topped with Swiss cheese is the perfect comfort food for lunch.

Tuna Melt
Makes 6 sandwiches

5 ounces, weight tuna
¼ cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1 whole fresh jalapeno, finely chopped
2 whole hard boiled eggs, chopped
6 whole sweet gherkins, finely chopped
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Splash o pickle juice
Salt and pepper, to taste
6 whole English muffins, split
12 slices cheese (Swiss, Provolone, Muenster)

Combine tuna with bell pepper, jalapeno, eggs and gherkins. Stir in mayonnaise, Dijon, and pickle juice. Add salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed; be sure not to undersalt.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place English muffin halves on a large cookie sheet. Place a large spoonful of tuna salad on each of the twelve English muffin halves. Use the spoon to spread/flatten. Put pan into the oven for five minutes, then briefly remove and lay a slice of cheese on each muffin. Return to oven and turn on broiler. Watch carefully to avoid burning; bake until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Remove from oven and serve immediately.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake

If you like strawberries and chocolate, you will love this recipe. It is simply heavenly! The cake batter has a double dose of chocolate – cocoa powder and chocolate chunks. Trust me when I say it didn’t take long for my house to smell like chocolate and that the smell is simply torturous. You won’t be able to wait to taste it, believe me. Incredibly moist and extremely decadent, you have to make this cake. It’s a chocolate lover’s dream!

Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake
Makes one 9x5 loaf

¾ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
¾ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
¾ cup buttermilk
½ cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
8 ounces good-quality dark chocolate (60-72%), coarsely chopped
Whipped cream and strawberries, for serving

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and position the rack in the center. Butter a 9 by 5 inch loaf pan, dust it with flour, and knock out the excess flour.

Place the brown sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Press out any lumps with the back of a large spoon. Add the cocoa, flour, granulated sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and egg yolk until blended, then add the buttermilk, oil, and vanilla; whisk until combined. Turn the mixer to low and slowly stream the wet ingredients into the dry ones, mixing just until combined. Stir in the dark chocolate chunks by hand.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes, and then turn it out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Slice the cake and serve with whipped cream and strawberries. Make layers if you’re so inclined. Enjoy!