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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Lemon Apricot Apple Salad

Sometime over the last week, I read an apple salad recipe that caught my eye.  I hunted through the three cookbooks I read.  Nothing, nada, zip.  Hmmm.  I looked at a bunch of cooking blogs yesterday but can't access any of the recipes I saved because they're on my second screen at the office and I can only access the first screen.  I clipped a few recipes but they're in the stack to be taken in the car for our eight hour trip to Kansas City.  I need to sort a huge pile into try immediately, try and store probably never to be seen again.  Must be in there.  At any rate, we're trying some great new turnovers tonight and an apple salad sounded just perfect.  This is one of those times I just have to rely on the fact that I've cooked for a lot of years and should be able to figure out a recipe!  The verdict:  I loved the addition of the chopped apricots but the lemon curd underwhelmed me.  The mayonnaise did a nice job of mellowing out the lemon curd, but it didn't take away the extra sweetness it added.  So, if you're one who likes some extra sweetness in your apple salad, then by all means add the lemon curd.  If not, I'd stick with lemon juice and maybe a bit of sugar if necessary.

1 gala apple, cored and diced
1 red delicious apple, cored and diced
1 granny smith apple, cored and diced
20 dried apricots, diced
3/4 c toasted walnuts, chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
1/3 c lemon curd
1/3 c lowfat mayo

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Fresh Greens from the Garden

We've got a ton of fresh greens in the garden.  Some Connie sowed this year and some are volunteers from our crop last year.  Way too many to munch our way through.  But, having the big selection is so much fun.  Do you want butter lettuce, red lettuce, arugula, kale, sorrel, or what kind of greens?  It makes salads very interesting. 

Today, I was looking at other food blogs and I went on The Pioneer Woman Cooks.  Its my brother John's favorite food blog.  He's made tons of her recipes.  So, she was blogging about their trip to Disney World and eating at a restaurant called Mama Della's.  She said the salad was to die for and listed the ingredients.  Just the list, no measurements.  I looked at that and thought, hmmm, I can make this up.  So, I did.  As I was trying to figure out what to put in the salad, I hunted through the refrigerator and came up with three small bags of nuts.  So, I asked Connie what he'd like in the salad.  Whatever, he says.  So, he got all three.  And, they played well together and with the dressing and the cheddar.

Nutty Salad
1/4 c olive oil
5 cloves roasted garlic
2 t honey
2 t country dijon mustard
1 T balsamic vinegar
2 t lemon juice
1 T chopped shallots (freeze dried from Penzey's work just as well)

3 c baby greens
1/4 c toasted pistachios
1/4 c toasted sliced almonds'
1/4 c toasted pine nuts
1/2 c shredded white cheddar

Mash the garlic cloves in about a tablespoon of the oil.  Stir in the honey.  When that's well blended, add the mustard, lemon and balsamic.  Blend well.  Slowly whisk in rest of the olive oil.  Add the shallots and put aside while the salads are assembled.

Put about 1 1/2 c of greens in each bowl.  Top each with half of the nuts and half of the cheese.  Drizzle the dressing over.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Revising Cocktail Party Food

Mom loves to entertain.  She's done something that I really wish I'd done.  Since she started entertaining, she's kept a record of who's been at each party and what she's served.  How much fun would that be to look at?  Talk about a trip down memory lane!  One of her signature hors d'oeuvre's was a wonderful cheese toastie.  It was shredded cheddar, minced dried onion and a dash of Worcestershire all held together with mayo, schmeared on party rye bread then broiled.  I used to love to watch those come out of the oven.  The cheese was all melty and gooey and yummy.  Needless to say, their friends inhaled them.  When I started entertaining, these were one of the first hors d'oeuvres I started making.  My friends inhaled them too.  They were a special occasion treat.  Then, one day when I was perusing the cheese drawer for some interesting options for grilled cheese, it hit me.  These would make fabulous grilled cheese sandwiches!  DUH!

Kate's Special Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Cracker Barrel Extra Sharp Cheddar
dried minced onion
Hellman's mayo (we love their new olive oil mayo!)
Whole-grain bread
olive oil

Shred the cheese.  If you're using an entire block, you'll want to put in about a tablespoon of dried minced onion and about a teaspoon of Worcestershire.  Then, mix in mayo just until it all sticks together.  Schmear it on a piece of bread and top it with another piece of bread.  Pour a film of olive oil in a skillet and grill the sandwiches until they're nicely browned on both sides and the cheese is all melty.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Why is it that muffins sound so much healthier than cupcakes?  They're basically the same except that cupcakes have frosting.  Since I could do without frosting, it's a no-brainer for me.  I much prefer muffins.  Many years ago, I lived in Fort Wayne, IN.  My house had a garden thanks to the previous owners.  I was lucky enough to have inherited a great rhubarb plant.  One of my favorite things to make was strawberry-rhubarb muffins.  So, When I found a recipe for Cinnamon-Rhubarb Muffins, I figured it could be adapted to use strawberries.  Had I made just these, they would have been a star of the meal.  But, I made the lemon lavender blueberry muffins for the same meal and they totally stole the show!

Strawberry Rhubarb Muffins

2 c  flour
3/4 c sugar
2 1/2 t baking powder
1 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t kosher salt
1 c sour cream
8 T unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1 t vanilla extract
3/4 c diced rhubarb
3/4 c hulled and chopped strawberries
3 T sugar
1/2 t ground cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Mix the dry in ingredients in a bowl and set aside.  Melt the butter and cool it a bit.  Whisk it with the eggs, sour cream and vanilla.  Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.  Use a spatula and be careful to not overmix.  Stir just until the ingredients are combined.  Stir in the rhubarb and strawberries.  Pour the batter into 12 muffin cups.  Mix the sugar and cinnamon then sprinkle it on top of the muffins.  Bake for 18-22 minutes.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Scavenging in the Yard

Chef Daniel had a second dandelion recipe that we decided to try while the garlic vinegar was steeping.  We went hunting for dandelions.  Not too tough a hunt in our yard since we don't use any pesticides or weed killers.  We filled a colander with the dandelions and brought them in to wash them.  What do they taste like?  Interesting.  Bitter.  But, I'd never cooked with them so it was time to try.  Dandelions are really a power food so I was hoping I'd really enjoy them and want to rush out to the yard and pick more.  Alas, we both found them to be just ok.  Never did get the dandelion greens salad made.  But, we've very much enjoyed the wild garlic vinegar!

Dandelions with Potatoes and Sausage
1/2 gal dandelion greens, washed and dried
2 T olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves
1/2 lb Italian sausage, cut into 1/2" pieces
1 c chicken broth
2 T vinegar
4 red potatoes, thickly sliced

Roughly chop the dandelions.  Saute the onions, garlic and sausage in the olive oil.  Put the greens over the top then pour in the broth and vinegar.  Top with the potatoes and simmer covered for 25-30 minutes.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Oils and Vinegars, Redux

While I'm on a roll talking about my oils and vinegars, I'd be remiss if I didn't chat about one of my very favorites.  Daniel Orr is a chef who's created masterpieces in many of the world's finest restaurants.  Then, he decided to come home.  He grew up a bit down the road in Columbus, IN but decided to open his new restaurant in Bloomington, IN.  I'm lucky enough to have my Columbus office down the hall from the folks who manage the on-line side of his business.  They also happen to own the building...  Christmas, 2008, my gift was a bottle of BIG RED Cranberry Vinegar.  The bottle alone is reason enough to include this in your repertoire.  But, the vinegar, oh la la.  Fabulous stuff.  I could probably drink it plain!  This past Christmas they gave me Chef's most recent cookbook.  I'll confess my first reaction wasn't total joy.  I was kind of underwhelmed by the one cookbook of his that I already had.  This one, though is different.  Very approachable recipes.  And, my favorite part is that it has some of what I would call scavenging in the yard recipes.  We decided we had a bumper crop of dandelions and would try cooking them.  I started with Chef's FARM Bloomington cookbook.  Bingo - a wild dandelion salad with wild garlic vinegar.  We also had a bumper crop of wild garlic so the recipe was perfect. The vinegar had to be made a couple of days in advance so I started with that. 

Wild Garlic Vinegar

1 qt white vinegar
1/4 c sugar
2 t salt
15 black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
1 tsp red pepper flakes
10 wild garlic plants, washed

Boil the vinegar, sugar and salt.  When it's cooled a bit, add the other ingredients.  You'll want to use a sanitized stoppered bottle.  Make sure you use the stems and bulbs of the garlic and cover all the ingredients with vinegar.  I used a bit less vinegar but the same amount of seasonings.

adapted from FARM Bloomington, Daniel Orr 

Monday, May 24, 2010

Vinegars and Oils

Ok, I have a confession to make.  It's no wonder I have such limited counter space.  I just counted the oil and vinegar bottles tucked into a corner of my kitchen.  33, yup, you read that correctly, THIRTY-THREE bottles of various oils and vinegars.  And, I use them all. 

A couple of years ago on a visit to Phoenix, Connie and I went on a tour at Queen Creek Olives.  Talk about yummy stuff.  Their olives and olive oils are just about the best I've ever had.  I've ordered the regular olive oil and the lemon - plus, of course, lots of their olives.  Recently, though, we found a company in Indiana that sells flavored oils and vinegars.  It's called the Olive Branch.  We bought lemon oil, white truffle oil and tuscan herb oil.  Then, when it came to the vinegars we had a far tougher choice to make.  We wound up with dark chocolate balsamic and strawberry balsamic.  YUM!

In the Kraft Food and Family magazine, I found an idea for an appetizer that'd allow me to really show off the strawberry balsamic.  The recipe called for the regular stuff but I figured kicking it up a notch wouldn't be a bad idea.  Fortunately, I was right.

Strawberry Crackers

8 oz block of cream cheese (regular or low-fat)
3 sprigs fresh tarragon
Black pepper and olive oil Triscuits
pint of strawberries
1-2 T strawberry balsamic vinegar or regular balsamic vinegar

Whip the cream cheese and the tarragon until fluffy.  Smear a little on each cracker.  Hull and halve the strawberries.  Top each cracker with a strawberry half and drizzle with vinegar.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Baked Beans

Last weekend I found some baby back ribs on sale at Sam's.  John Marvel had just made the BEST baby back ribs for the MOPS March/April party so I was anxious to try the recipe for myself.  What goes with baby back ribs?  Cole slaw, au gratin potatoes, baked beans.  MMMMM, lots of good things.  Many times over the years I've doctored up a can of baked beans. But, I can't recall ever having made my own from scratch.  It was time to try.  Particularly since I had well over half a slice of ham left from the pork skewers for the MOPS party.  Gosh, it does sound like all the MOPS do is party and eat!  I started with some great northern beans and looked at a couple of recipes.  One of my favorite barbecue guys is Steven Raichlen.  I probably used his recipe the most.  But, his calls for canned beans.  I wanted to avoid those because of the sodium. 

Baked Beans
1/2 bag great northern beans (13 svg bag)
1/2 ham slice (3/4 of a pound)
1 kielbasa, cooked and diced
1 onion, finely diced and cooked with the kielbasa
1/4 c firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 c shagbark hickory syrup or maple syrup
1/2 c barbecue sauce
1/3  ketchup
2 T Worcestershire sauce
1 T dry mustard
1 T yellow mustard
1 T cider vinegar

Cook the beans.  You can either soak them overnight, then cook them or boil them for 10minutes then cover them and let them soften a bit.  Whichever method you choose is fine.  Then, you want to cover them with water and let them simmer for a couple of hours.  Add the ham in at the latest halfway thru the cooking.  Saute the kielbasa and onion.  Once the beans are tender, drain them.  Shred the ham and put it back in with the beans.  Put in the rest of the ingredients and heat through. 

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Hot Chicken Salad

Mom's having some of her friends over for lunch next week.  She said she'd like to have chicken salad but is kind of tired of the same old chicken salad.  I said there's one that I make a couple of times a year that's just different enough.  Of course I make a little change to it.  I add some curry powder.  Even those who profess to not like curry tend to like this.

Hot Chicken Salad
2 c. cooked and diced chicken breast
2 c of diced celery
1/2 small onion, finely diced
8 oz can of diced water chestnuts
1/2 c toasted and chopped pecans
3/4 c mayonnaise
1/2 t celery seed
2 T lemon juice
1 t curry powder
3/4 c shredded swiss cheese
handful of potato chips

Toss the chicken, celery, onion, water chestnuts and pecans in a bowl.  In a small bowl, mix the dressing ingredients (mayo, celery seed, lemon juice and curry powder.)  Fold the dressing into the salad.  Pour the salad into a baking dish.  8x8 is best.  Sprinkle the shredded cheese on top.  Crush the potato chips and sprinkle them over the top of the cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until bubbly.

adapted from Taste of Autumn by Gooseberry Patch

Friday, May 21, 2010

Crispy Salami Rolls

I seem to be on a roll this week with recipes from the holiday party.  This is one I created.  We made a huge batch and they were gone.  Just plain inhaled.  Next year, I'll make a double batch. Crispy salami is so much more flavorful than the plain old stuff.  That and it's a great way to get some of the fat out of the salami.  The leftover filling is great on crackers or grilled cheese sandwiches. Or you can stuff it into a chicken breast and broil it.

Crispy Salami Rolls
large package of salami from Sam's club
8 oz package cream cheese, softened
1 c pimento stuffed green olives, finely chopped

Coarsely chop half the salami.  Brown it until crispy then drain on paper towels.  Whip the cream cheese until it's fluffy.  Mix in the olives and the crispy salami.  Take a piece of the uncooked salami and smear it with about 1-2 t of the salami and olive mixture.  Roll it up.  Repeat until you run out of either uncooked salami or filling. 

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Blue Cheese

Another favorite ingredient of ours is blue cheese.  I mix it in hamburgers.  Put it in salads and pasta sauces.  Melt it in sandwiches.  Just about anyplace I can use the stuff, I do so.  This recipe is for a blue cheese spread that we typically serve at the holiday party.  I use the leftovers in a myriad of ways.  It's been known to show up in grilled cheese sandwiches or slathered on grilled chicken breasts.  I've mixed it with some veggies and pasta and created a yummy pasta dish.  I've also been known to sit down with some of this and a handful of crackers and call it lunch...

Blue Cheese Spread
1 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
1/3 c crumbled blue cheese
1/3 c lowfat yogurt
1/4 c chopped pecans, toasted
2 T minced chives

Whip the cream cheese and fold in the other ingredients.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours prior to serving to allow the flavors to blend.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Cole Slaw

Seems like most folks either like the mayonnaise based version or the oil and vinegar based version.  Me, I like both.  It's typically the side I order when it's on the list.  I love cole slaw on burgers, pulled pork, pork tenderloin, just about anything.  For years, I used the cole slaw dressing in a jar.  Then, one day I decided that was wasteful so I decided to make my own.  That was typically a mayonnaise based dressing.  A few weeks ago we ate at the Huber Family Farm on our way back from a business trip to Evansville.  Between the vinegar based slaw and the apple butter, I knew I had to have the cookbook.  Once our cabbage gets big enough we'll be making our own Huber slaw.  But, last weekend we had ribs and those just call out for what is undoubtedly my favorite cole slaw - bbq.  Just as a side note, a bit of history.  It seems that cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts and the rest of the brassica family evolved from a wild plant know as cole wart.  Various cultures nurtured the plants to evolve into what they preferred, ergo the various brassicas we know and enjoy today.

Barbecue Cole Slaw
Make your typical cole slaw dressing with mayonnaise, cider vinegar and sugar.  Then, kick it up with some ketchup, mustard and a bit of jerk seasoning.

1 bag cole slaw mix or one small cabbage shredded
1/3 mayonnaise
1 T cider vinegar
1 T sugar
1 T ketchup
2 t yellow mustard
1 T jerk seasoning
1 t wing sauce (optional - this will kick it up another notch!)

This is better the next day so mix all of your ingredients and refrigerate overnight - or at least let it sit in the refrigerator for a couple of hours prior to serving.


Tapenade is undoubtedly an acquired taste for most folks.  Olives, garlic and anchovies, however, are three of my favorite ingredients.  I remember one of our first dates when Connie and I went to Bazbeaux Pizza.  We looked at each other and both suggested the pizza loaded with anchovies.  YUM!  I've made my fair share of "normal" tapenades.  Like the one for the onion tart from Todd English's Olives cookbook.  This tapenade is different because it's made with herbs.  It's from a cookbook called The Store Cookbook.  The cookbook was a wedding present (1st wedding) from my cousin Tom and his wife Carol.  Both have since passed away so it's now a lovely memory too!  At any rate, I serve this dip with all kinds of fresh vegetables: peppers, snow peas, celery, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli...  Its piquancy is delightful.

Green Tapenade
1 can flat anchovy fillets, plus the oil in the can
1 T capers
2 T red wine vinegar
2 T finely chopped chives, shallots or onion
1/4 c finely chopped parsley
1 1/2 c mayonnaise
fresh pepper

Put the first 5 ingredients in the food processor and blend. 

Pour the mixture into a bowl and blend with the mayo.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving to allow the flavors to blend.

adapted from The Store Cookbook by Bert Greene.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Pork Tenderloin

You can tell my favorite cookbook by its deplorable condition.  The spine is cracked.  The pages are splattered.  In other words, it's been much used and much loved.  For many years it was out of print and I mourned not being able to give it as a gift.  But, last I heard, it's being sold again.  What is it?  It's called Back Home Again and it's by the Indianapolis Junior League.  I've found for the most part that the Junior League cookbooks are the best community cookbooks around.  This one is just exceptional.  We've used the pork tenderloin recipe for the tenderloin served at our holiday party.  It's also my go-to tenderloin recipe during the year.  I prefer the pork grilled but you can bake it or broil it if you so desire.

Pork Tenderloin with Scallion Mustard Sauce
1/4 c soy sauce
2 T brown sugar
1/4 c bourbon

2 pork tenderloins

1/3 c sour cream
1/3 c mayo
1 T finely chopped scallions
1 T dry mustard
1 1/2 t cider vinegar

Mix the marinade ingredients and marinate the tenderloins for at least 2 hours. 

Mix the sauce ingredients and let the sauce sit for the same amount of time.  Make sure both are in the refrigerator!  Grill the tenderloins until they're medium (they dry out if you grill them to well done.) 

Slice them very thinly and serve with the scallion mustard sauce.

Monday, May 17, 2010

More MOPS party

Our standing morning joke is to ask one another if you've fixed my eggs benedict yet.  Maybe because eggs benedict is an ultimate breakfast indulgence.  Maybe it's just because it tastes so incredible.  We've made several variations on the theme.  Our absolute favorite is crab cake benedict.  But, for a group of picky eaters, crab cakes are NOT a good idea.  So, I tried Benedict Baskets.  The original recipe in Cuisine at Home called for spinach and tomatoes.  I substituted asparagus and roasted red bell peppers for two reasons.  The chunks of asparagus are easier to pick out. (I know, who in their right mind would want to do that????) And, that's what we had lots of in the refrigerator.  These were good but I'd like to try them again with some modifications - which I've noted in the recipe.

Benedict Baskets (adapted from Cuisine at Home)
3 whole grain English muffins, split
2 T unsalted butter, melted
1 t prepared yellow mustard (try dijon - it's got more oomph)
1 small onion, diced, sauteed
2 cloves garlic, minced and sauteed with the onions.
2 c diced, cooked asparagus spears
1 c diced roasted red pepper
1 c cooked crumbled sausage or ham or crabmeat
6 eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 c shredded Swiss cheese
1/2 c shredded Parmesan
hollandaise sauce

Roll each muffin half out and put it into a greased muffin tin.  I used the mongo muffin tins.  Brush the muffins with a mixture of the melted butter and mustard and bake at 350 for 15 min.  They'll be lightly browned.  Mix together all your vegetables.  Now, the original recipe calls for immediately cracking the eggs into the shells so they'll start cooking.  I'd sprinkle some meat in.  I've added it to the ingredient list above.  Then, crack the eggs in.  Top them with the cheese, then the vegetables. Top with the Parmesan then bake for 15 more minutes.  Top with hollandaise sauce.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Lavender Lemon Blueberry Muffins

I had lemon lavender muffins in mind for the MOPS.  We've got a couple of lavender plants that are just about as happy as can be.  They produce some lavender buds but I've never harvested them.  I did buy a small bag of lavender a couple of months ago and have been looking for just the right recipe.  When I couldn't find the recipe I'd clipped, I turned to the internet.  A site for Briar Rose Bed and Breakfast in Boulder, CO had what looked to be a great recipe but it included blueberries.  So, fine, instead of putting all the blueberries into the fruit salad, I'd put some into the muffins.  In all the years I've known him, I've never known my brother's father-in-law Donald to wax euphoric over a food.  These accomplished that task.  They were probably the best blueberry muffin I've ever eaten.  Connie's immediate reaction was, "Jordan Marsh."  A long-gone department store that made fabulous blueberry muffins.  He said these rivaled theirs.  So, thank you Briar Rose!  I hope someday to be in Boulder and visit your B&B.

Lavender Lemon Blueberry Muffins

Cook time: 25—30 minutes

Temp: 350 F


•½ c butter

•1 ½ c sugar

•2 large eggs

•1 t vanilla

•2 t lemon zest

•2 c flour

•2 t baking powder

•¼ t salt

•½ c milk

•2 c blueberries

•1 t dried lavender blossoms

•Juice of 1 lemon


Cream butter and 1 cup sugar in large bowl.

 Add eggs to mixture one at a time.  Add the lemon zest and vanilla.  Then, sift the flour, baking powder and salt in separate bowl.  Add the dry to the wet a little at a time, alternating with milk, until just moist. Fold in the blueberries and lavender.

 Spoon into muffin tins (or pan) and bake for 25—30 minutes at 350.

 Whisk the lemon juice and remaining sugar to form glaze; pour over hot muffins.

 Let the muffins cool and remove from tins.

 from Briar Rose B&B

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Pork Skewers

Usually when the MOPS come for brunch I fry up a mess of bacon and sausage and let everyone dig in.  This time, I found a different recipe.  I loved the taste but didn't like the fact that the bacon wasn't as cooked as most folks want.  So, next time instead of baking it, I'll grill it.  Instead of using apple jelly, I used a jar of our own crabapple jelly.  Making that was an adventure.  We were doing our normal walk of the yard one evening last fall when we started talking about the crabapples.  Well, one thing led to another and pretty soon we were out there with a bucket.  We filled it to the brim, cleaned the leaves and stems and cooked down the crabapples.  Wound up with six jars of surprisingly good jelly.  This year all three crabapple trees appear to have what will be a bumper crop of crabapples.  So, hopefully, we'll wind up with enough to share with our family!

Pork Skewers
This makes six skewers.
1 c barbecue sauce
3 T apple jelly
1/4 t ground cinnamon
6 pork sausage links cut into quarters
6 strips thick-sliced bacon
12 1" ham cubes

Warm the bbq sauce and melt in the apple jelly.  Stir in the cinnamon.  To make the skewers, start with a piece of bacon.  Skewer an end, the add a piece of ham then wrap the bacon loosely around it and skewer it.  Next, a piece of sausage with bacon wrapped around it followed by a piece of ham...  The bacon looks like a bunch of "S" curves.  The original recipe (adapted from Cuisine at Home) called for wrapping a baking sheet in aluminum foil, putting cooling racks on top and baking the skewers.  I'd just pop the things on the grill and baste them about every ten minutes.  Be sure to flip the skewers regularly.  The original recipe called for baking them at 350 for 45-50 minutes but on the grill it should take considerably less time.  Be sure to oil the grates before grilling or you'll have a veritable mell of a hess to clean up!  The flavor of these was fabulous.  My only complaint was the undercooked bacon.  I think the grill will solve that easily.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Leftovers Redux

On the leftovers theme, we also had some of the sauce for the shrimp crostini and a couple of the pork skewers leftover from the MOPS party last Sunday.  Connie had picked a large quantity of spinach from the garden and I'd bought a couple of bunches of asparagus at the farmer's market last weekend.  So we combined all of that to make salads for lunch.  I've not yet blogged about the pork skewers so the short version is that they're bacon, ham and pork sausage, skewered, brushed with bbq sauce and baked.  I'll make them in the future just to use in this salad.

Piggy Spinach Salad

Per person:
large handful of spinach
from the pork skewers:
4 cubes of ham
4 pieces of pork sausage
2 pieces of bacon, crumbled
handful of cooked, chopped asparagus
small red potato, cooked and diced
handful of fresh mushroom slices
top with:
garlic shrimp crostini sauce
handful of shredded cheese (we used gouda but about anything would work)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Sometimes Leftovers are Just as Good

Last Sunday I went a bit overboard when I fixed the rosemary cream goat cheese appetizer.  I used the mongo log from Sam's club hoping I'd have leftovers.  Well, guess what, I did.  LOTS of leftovers.  Probably 3/4 of the log, in fact.  Tonight I'm teaching my Social Security seminar so I needed something really easy to fix at the office.  Voila -

Rosemary Cream Goat Cheese Pasta
1 1/2 cups farfalle
1 c leftover rosemary cream goat cheese appetizer (make sure to scoop up the cheese, cream and plenty of the roasted red peppers)
8 oz fresh button mushrooms, sliced
1 c (packed) fresh spinach

Cook and drain the pasta then toss it with the rosemary cream goat cheese.  I did this last night and refrigerated the pasta overnight.  Saute the mushrooms. (Or, you can sprinkle them with a little water and microwave them til they're done.)  Briefly saute the spinach - just until it's wilted.  Since I was reheating the pasta today, I microwaved the mushrooms and mixed them in with the pasta after it was about half heated.  Then, instead of sauteeing the spinach, I tore it and mixed it in and finished heating the whole dish.  We gave this a 5.  If I make the rosemary cream goat cheese just to make this pasta, I'll try half and half instead of cream!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Garlic Shrimp Crostini

My daughter-in-law, Kara, brought this to Thanksgiving dinner.  It's fabulous and tastes like you fussed when in reality it's super quick to make.  Her recipe calls for buttering the bread then frying it in olive oil.  Since the goat cheese appetizer was so rich, I decided to skip that step.  Loved the results

Garlic Shrimp Crostini


8 arugula sprigs
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 c mayo
1-2 tsp wing sauce
baguette, sliced very thinly
shrimp, cooked

Place the arugula, garlic, mayo and wing sauce in the food processor and blend until it forms a smooth paste. 

Toast the baguette slices on both sides.  Smear some paste on each crostini and top with a shrimp.

Sunday, May 9, 2010


Time for the May birthday and Mother's Day party for the MOPS (That would be Marvel, Martin, Orner, Peschau, Sullivan clan)  Brunch is the meal of choice for this party.  A couple of months ago I read an article in CuisineAtHome magazine and for probably the first time in my life, I loved the entire meal.  So, today I made practically the whole thing.  Well, with a few additions and changes - naturally!  Here's what we had:
Bloody Mary's
Rosemary & Goat Cheese
Spicy Shrimp Bruschetta
Strawberries Balsamic on Triscuits
Eggs Benedict Cups
Pork Kebabs
Hot Potato Salad
Fruit Salad
Lemon Lavender Blueberry Muffins
Strawberry Rhubarb Muffins
Stout Chocolate Pudding

The Rosemary Goat cheese appetizer is my version of the one served at Sangiovese.  It's very rich so we only have it on special occasions.

Rosemary Goat Cheese

1/2 c heavy cream
2-3 sprigs rosemary
8 oz. log goat cheese
1 roasted red pepper

Pour the cream into a heavy saucepan.  Add the rosemary.  Cook on low heat until reduced by half.  Remove the stems but leave the leaves.  Add about 1 0z of the goat cheese to thicken.  Put the remaining goat cheese in an ovenproof serving dish.  Chope the roasted red pepper and sprinkle it over the cheese. Bake at 350 for about 15 min until the cheese is heated through.  Remove it from the oven and pour the cream over it.  Serve on sliced baguette.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Pea N'Pork Risotto

Our first visit of the season to the farmers market!  How wonderful it was to be back there. We stopped by the Hickory Works stand and replenished our supply of shagbark hickory syrup.  We'll go visit them someday and see how the stuff is made.  That ought to rival the tomato farm trip.  Then, we bought a couple of heirloom tomatoes, a bunch of herb plants and some perennials for the new bed in the front.  The big snag of the day was a bag of pea shoots.  I remembered cutting out a recipe for a three pea risotto.  Pea shoots, pea pods, peas and brie cheese.  I knew there was no way I'd find the recipe in the mountain of recipes residing next to my chair.  So, I bought the pea shoots and figured I'd come close enough.  While making the bacon, sausage and ham skewers for the MOPS party tomorrow, I realized I had some leftover bacon and pork sausage links.  Hmmm, pork and peas play well together. 

Pea and Pork Risotto

Olive oil
Onion, chopped
Arborio rice
white wine
chicken broth
brie cheese
bacon, cooked and crumbled
pork sausage links, cooked and diced
frozen petite peas
 pea shoots
white truffle oil
parmesan cheese, shredded

Risotto is one of those dishes that as long as you know the basics, you can make the recipe for as many servings as you like.  The basics are to saute the onion in a mix of olive oil and butter.  Pour in the rice and get it nice and brown.  Pour in the white wine and stir til it's absorbed.  Start adding the broth about 1/2 cup at a time and stir til it's absorbed.  Once the rice is nice and creamy (btw - all that stirring disturbs the rice and causes it to become creamy) add in the last ingredients and serve.  We gave this one a 5*.

Rhubarb Time

It's been so busy for the last month that I've totally ignored this and Facebook and a lot of other fun things!  Last night we had one of our favorite salads.  Tomorrow, the MOPS crew is coming over for brunch to celebrate Mother's Day and the May birthdays.  (MOPS is the 1st initial of all the last names in the family.)  So, today we're heading to the farmer's market and the grocery store to finish buying the provisions for tomorrow.  One of our first stops will be the stand where they sell shagbark hickory syrup.  I remember reading about it in one of my cooking magazines - Gourmet or Bon Appetit or Saveur or another.  They said several famous chefs use the stuff and absolutely love it.  So, when I saw the stand, I couldn't resist.  At first I bought a very small bottle.  Last time, it was a much larger bottle.  Turns out you can use shagbark hickory syrup about any place you'd use maple syrup.  The taste is much subtler and oh, SO good.  I've created several recipes for the syrup but the salad we had last night is by far our favorite.  As soon as the rhubarb is ready to pick, this salad is on the table!

Rhubarb and Shagbark Hickory Salad
1 good-sized ruhbarb stalk per serving
1 t butter per serving
1 t shagbark hickory syrup per serving
handful of mild greens per serving (don't use arugula or anything like that)
1 T crumbled goat cheese per serving

Heat a small skillet.  While it's heating, chop the stalks in 1/4-1/2" pieces.  Toss them in the skillet when it's nice and hot.  Cook the ruhbarb (stirring occasionally) until the juices have caramelized and the pieces are sticking to the bottom of the pan.  The rhubarb will be very soft.  Add the butter and stir it in quickly.  Then, pour in the syrup and stir it in.  Have the greens ready to go on your salad plates.  Top the greens with the warm rhubarb then with the goat cheese.  Serve immediately.  The  goat cheese will get all melty and yummy with the warm rhubarb.