Caprese Salad

caprese salad (19) WM

It has been raining all week here in Northern Colorado, but the weather is supposed to make a change for the better – just in time for the holiday weekend!  The nights and mornings are much more crisp, fall is totally in the air!  I love fall but am not really looking forward to the snow and the lack of summer produce like the wonderful tomatoes and basil used in this salad.  (the bowl & spoon are from Greece, how cool is that!  My husband’s parents brought it back for us several years ago.  Greece is on my list of places to visit…hopefully soon!)

This salad can either be layered in rows – tomato, cheese, basil – or mixed up like it is here.

caprese salad (9) WM

serves 4

time: quick, about 5 minutes unless you cut really slowly

 

 Ingredients:

1 tomato (or half & half of red & orange, or whatever colors – you can also use cherry tomatoes)

handful of basil, torn up

buffalo mozzarella (the kind in water, though regular mozzarella will work too but it’s not as good)

balsamic vinegar

olive oil

pepper

Lawry’s season salt

 

Directions:

1) Cut the tomatoes up into bite sized pieces, tear the basil up, cut the buffalo mozzarella into bite sized pieces (if you are doing the layering method slice the tomato & mozzarella into circles) and place is a shallow bowl.

2) Stir up the balsamic vinegar & olive oil, about 3 teaspoons of olive oil and 1-2 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar.  Sprinkle in the pepper & Lawry’s season salt to taste. Pour the vinaigrette onto the tomatoes, basil and cheese – gently mix in the vinaigrette.

 

caprese salad (13) WM

Honey & Hoisin Chicken

Honey & Hoisin Chicken (4) WM

 

I eat a lot of chicken, so changing up the marinade is super important so that chicken doesn’t get boring.  This recipe hits the mark – it’s super tasty and a little different from other recipes that I have made!  I served with rice and a lovely salad.  And of course I washed it all down with a beer – wheat is my go-to in the summer.

 

Honey & Hoisin Chicken (11) WM

serves 4

time: about an hour

Ingredients:

chicken drumsticks & thighs

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons soy sauce

3 tablespoons hoisin sauce

1 tablespoon Sriracha

3 tablespoons mild honey

ginger thumb size, minced

1 teaspoon sesame oil

sesame seeds

rice

salad of your choice

 

Directions:

1) Mix the sauce ingredients together in a large bowl.

2) Place the chicken pieces into the bowl and stir to coat evening.

3) Start your BBQ.

4) Start your rice (cook according to package directions).

5) Place the coated chicken on the BBQ, cook until no longer pink.

6) Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve with rice and a salad.

 

 

Honey & Hoisin Chicken (1) WM

Sponge Cake with Strawberries & Rhubarb

Sponge Cake with Strawberries & Rhubarb (11) WM

 

This cake is a recipe for high altitude.  To be honest I don’t know what’s different between this and a non high altitude recipe.  If you are at sea level let me know!  The ingredients below are for one sponge cake – I made two so that they could be layered.  If you do make two make them in separate batches (you can bake both at once if you have two of the same sized pans). You could also make one cake and cut it in the middle to get two layers.

 

Ingredients:

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup cake flour (see note below about making cake flour)

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon cold water

4 egg yolks

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4 egg whites

 

1 container strawberries

3 rhubarb stalks

small carton of heavy whipping cream

sugar

vanilla

parchment paper

 

Sponge Cake with Strawberries & Rhubarb (9) WM

Cake Directions:

1) Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

2) Grease a 9″ or 10″ springform cake pan and line the bottom with a parchment paper cut to fit the pan.

3) Whisk together the all-purpose flour, cake flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, oil, water, vanilla, and egg yolks.

4) In a separate bowl whip the egg whites until they are white and fluffy.

5) Gently fold half of the whipped egg whites into the batter, then add the other half after the first half is mixed in.

6) Pour the batter into the greased and parchment lined cake pan; bake about 35 minutes until it is golden brown.

7) Let the sponge cake cool in the pan for about 5 minutes and then open the sides of the pan and let the cake cool completely.

8) Once the cake is cooled spread the strawberry rhubarb sauce over the top of one of the cakes.  Place the second cake on top.

9) To make the whipped cream pour the carton of whipping cream into a bowl and whisk on high until soft peaks form.  Pour in the vanilla (about 2 teaspoons) and sugar (to taste).

 

Strawberry Rhubarb Sauce Directions:

1) After washing the strawberries and rhubarb slice into bite sized pieces and place in a small pan and put it on medium-high heat.

2) After the strawberries and rhubarb start to “melt” a little and boil reduce the heat to medium-low.  Continue to let the mixture gently simmer until it resembles a sauce / jam.  You can add sugar if you want as the rhubarb is a little bit tart.

 

cake flour ingredients:

1/2 cup flour

1 teaspoon corn starch

cake flour directions:

1) Place the flour in a bowl removing 1 teaspoon of corn starch.

2) Add the corn starch and sift until the cake flour is light and airy.

Sponge Cake with Strawberries & Rhubarb (1) QM

Balsamic Reduction Lamb Chops

Balsamic Reduction Lamb Chops (16) WM

The first time that I had lamb was when I was in college; it was served with mint sauce and it was absolutely disgusting.  The second time I had lamb was a few months after I graduated college and my college friends and I went up to Guerneville, CA for a weekend to celebrate all of the libra birthdays (there were a ton of us!).  My one friend and I were camping and had brought hot dogs and other boring camping food.  We had befriended some older guys who were camping, and they invited us over for some fun drinks (I believe margaritas) – yes they camping in style, now know as “clamping” but that term wasn’t around in 2005! haha.  As we were sipping on our drinks dinner some how came up.  We told them that we were having hotdogs, and they said “No you are not!  You are going to have some lamb with us!).  They had been marinading the lamb in rosemary and white wine.  Again, this was camping and they were eating like queens!  I was blown away by my first grilled lamb.  Ah.maz.ing.

So, that’s my lamb story, after the dinner in Guerneville I became a believer of lamb.  The guys showed me that lam in fact is not nasty.

Balsamic Reduction Lamb Chops (2 WM)

Ingredients:

lamb chops (one per person)

1 cupsbalsamic vinegar

4 tablespoons brown sugar

5 springs fresh rosemary, chopped finely

3-4 cloves of garlic, crushed

salt

pepper

cast iron pan

 

Directions:

1.  Preheat your oven’s broiler.

2. Combine the balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, chopped rosemary and crushed garlic in a small pot over medium high heat.  Once the mixture has come to a boil reduce to medium low heat and simmer for about 10 minutes until it has thickened.

3. Place the cast iron skillet in the oven so it gets hot.

4. Season the lamb chops with salt and pepper on each side.  Place the lamb chops in the hot skillet Let one side sizzle for a second, then flip over.  Place the skillet with the lamb chops in the broiler and broil each side for roughly 3 minutes.  Lamb is like beef, you can eat it when it’s still pink (and you really, really don’t want to over cook it).  Which reminds me, I should have taken a picture with one of the lamb chops cut open.

5. Once the lamb chops have been cooked, place on each plate and drizzle with the balsamic rosemary reduction.  Serve with a fresh salad, and the carb of your choice.

 

Balsamic Reduction Lamb Chops (22) WM Balsamic Reduction Lamb Chops (8) WM

 

Buttermilk Biscuits

Buttermilk Biscuits (23) WM

I love homemade buttermilk biscuits, but for some reason I haven’t made them in awhile – my husband said that this is the first time I’ve made them with him and we’ve been together for 8 years.  So…it was about time that I made buttermilk biscuits again!!

We served this on the side of buttermilk fried/baked chicken.  Amazing combination.  You can find the buttermilk chicken recipe here.

timeButtermilk Biscuits (13) WMtime: 30 minutes

makes 6 biscuits

Ingredients:

2 1/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
9 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
3/4 cup buttermilk

Directions:

1) Heat your oven to 400 degrees and spray a round baking pan with oil.

2) Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda in large bowl. Using your fingertips (or a pastry blender, I need to get one!) mix the butter into dry ingredients until combined – try to not have any big clumps of butter and lots of dry flour.

3) Add the buttermilk and stir, then knead with your hands until all of the dough is moist.

4) Sprinkle a little bit of flour onto a clean & dry surface, turn the bowl over and dump the dough onto the floured surface.  Roll the dough to about 3/4 inches thick.  Cut out round biscuits using a cookie cutter or glass.  Place each biscuit into the sprayed round baking pan.

5) Bake about 12/15 minutes until the biscuits are golden brown on top.  Serve warm with honey & butter!

 

Buttermilk Biscuits (19) WM Buttermilk Biscuits (2) WM

Buttermilk Baked/Fried Chicken

buttermilk fried chicken (20) WM

I made fried chicken a few years back after watching Driving Miss Daisy.  I could not believe how much oil it took!  It was rather gross.  The problem is that I love fried chicken, so this recipe is pretty much a compromise.  Fried slightly and then baked, so you still get that yummy crunchy coating.  Serve with these easy buttermilk biscuits.

buttermilk fried chicken (11) WM

buttermilk fried chicken (1)WM

Ingredients:
2 cups buttermilk
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
4 tablespoons hot sauce
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 onion, coarsely chopped
5 garlic cloves, diced
chicken drumsticks & thighs
2 cups panko breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
cast iron skillet
Directions:

  1. For the chicken marinade: stir together the buttermilk, dijon mustard, hot sauce, paprika, salt, pepper, chopped onion and diced garlic in a bowl.
  2. Place the chicken in a plastic storage bag and add the buttermilk mixture, then squeeze the outside of the zipped bag to coat all of the chicken.  Place the bag of chicken & buttermilk marinade in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
  3. The next day, when you are ready to eat preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  4. Pull out the chicken from the marinade and discard the marinade.
  5. Pour out the breadcrumbs out on a flat dish.  Press the chicken pieces into the breadcrumbs to completely coat all sides.
  6. Heat your cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat.  Once it is hot pour 2 tablespoons of oil into the pan.  Heat up the oil, then gently place the chicken pieces in the skillet.  Brown each side of the chicken for about 4 minutes until they start to turn brown.  You may have to do this in two batches or use two cast-iron skillets.
  7. Once all of the chicken pieces are browned in the skillet transfer the entire skillet with chicken to the oven and bake for about 20 to 30 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.

buttermilk fried chicken (18) WM buttermilk fried chicken (7) WM

Broccoli Rice

Broccoli Rice (9) WM

During the World Cup hosted in Brazil, I decided to make a Brazilian dish.  I made Cachaca marinaded chicken and broccoli rice (arroz de brcolis).  From what I read, Brazilians eat rice every day.  I love broccoli and it was a really neat combination to plain ‘ol rice – I would have never thought to combine the two!  This meal (and the World Cup) made me miss Oasis Brazilian Steak House in Medford, MA – it was about two blocks from us and we would go there regularly for their pay-by-the-pound BBQ.  It was out of this world! Especially the fried plantains.  Another favorite was Muqueca in Cambridge, MA.  Muqueca is a Brazilian styled seafood stew that is so, so, so tasty!!!  We went there when it was super freezing / beginning of a snow storm…ah, the memories!

Onto the broccoli rice!

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 medium bunch broccoli, crown only, chopped finely
salt to taste
3 cups cooked white long-grain rice, hot

Broccoli Rice (28) WM Broccoli Rice (26) WM

Directions:

1. Cook the rice according to the package directions (about 1.5 cup dry rice).

2. Heat the olive oil in a skillet, then add the chopped onion and minced garlic. Saute until they are soft but not browned.

2. Add the chopped broccoli;  cover the pan and let the vegetables “steam” for about 3 minutes.

3. Add the rice and salt, stir to combine the garlic & onion and heat the rice if it has cooled at all.  Serve immediately.

Broccoli Rice (2) WM

Yellowfin Tuna Salad

yellowfin tuna salad (43) WM

I only make fish on a Friday or Saturday night.  It’s been my “rule” since I started working in offices. The smell of re-heated fish in the microwave is not pleasant.  This is a recipe that you can make any night of the week because you don’t really have to re-head the tuna and if you do it’s not really a “fishy” fish.

When you cook the fish you want to make sure that you don’t over do it, tuna is meant to just be seared on the outside.

I love this recipe because it is so fresh tasting, and uses Asian ingredients (one of my favorite types of foods to make as I’m sure you’ve noticed!).

 

serves 2

Tuna

 

1 Yellowfin Tuna (you can also use Ahi)
1/4 cup soy sauce

1 teaspoon corn starch

1/4 cup pineapple juice
1/4 cup honey

1 teaspoon chile garlic sauce or Sriracha

2 tablespoons black and white sesame seeds, toasted

drizzle of sesame oil

 

Salad

 

square wonton wrappers, cut into strips (if you want this to be gluten free use corn tortillas)
handful of mixed lettuce
1 can pineapple, diced

1/2 cup toasted sesame oil

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons pineapple juice

2 tablespoon rice vinegar

2 teaspoon chile garlic sauce or sriracha

1 tablespoon tahini

1 lime, juiced

2 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

back and white sesame seeds

yellowfin tuna salad (14) WM
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place the wonton strips in a single layer on a greased baking sheet.  Spray the wontons with olive oil. Bake in the preheated oven for about 5-7 minutes – you don’t want them to burn (like I did!) so keep a close eye on them.   You only want them to be a light golden brown color / just crispy.  Once they are browned remove the tray from the oven and set aside.
  3. Mix together the soy sauce and cornstarch in a small pot over medium-high until well mixed.  Then add the pineapple juice, the honey and  chile garlic sauce/Sriracha.  Bring this mixture to a boil; reduce the heat to low and let simmer for about 5 minutes until the sauce has begun to thicken.  Remove the pan from the heat.
  4. Heat a large cast iron pan on high and add a drizzle of sesame oil.  Pour in the sauce mixture until bubbling.  Place the tuna steak in the pan and sear the first side of the tuna steak, flip the tuna over and sear that side.  Remove the steak from the pan and slice into strips (or bite sized pieces).
  5. In a small bowl combine the hot toasted sesame oil, soy sauce, pineapple juice, rice vinegar, chile garlic sauce, tahini,  the juice of 1 lime, the fresh ginger and garlic.
  6. Place a handful of lettuce on each plate and sprinkle a few of the pineapple chunks on top of the lettuce.
  7.  Place the tuna steak strips on top of each lettuce/pineapple on the plates, sprinkle with the black and white sesame seeds, and drizzle with the vinaigrette.  You could also serve with sliced avocado, none of mine were ripe :(

yellowfin tuna salad (40) WM

 

Spiced Shrimp with Lime Cilantro Rice & Strawberry Mango Salsa Tortilla Bowls

Spiced Shrimp Strawberry bowls (5) WM

It is summer!  That means we have fresh fruits and veggies like avocados, strawberries and mangoes!  I absolutely love it!  This is the first time that I have made tortilla bowls, and they are pretty cool (not to mention super easy!).

 

Serves 4

Spiced Shrimp:

1 pound uncooked shrimp, peeled

4 tablespoons olive oil

5 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon smoked paprika
Lime Cilantro Rice:
1 cup uncooked basmati rice
2 cups coconut water
1/2 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
1 lime, squeezed
pinch of salt
Spicy Strawberry & Mango Salsa:
3/4 container fresh strawberries, chopped into pinky nail pieces
1 mango, peeled and chopped into bite sized pieces
1/2 jalapeno (or more / less depending on your spice level), finely chopped
1/4 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
Spiced Shrimp Strawberry bowls (29) WM
Bowl toppings & Tortillas:
Flour tortillas, one per person
1/2 bag of frozen corn, thawed
olive oil
1 can black beans
1 avocado
Mexican crema
Spiced Shrimp Strawberry bowls (16) WM
Directions:
1) Peel the shrimp. Combine the ingredients for the shrimp.  Stir the shrimp to coat.  Let sit until all other items for the bowl are ready to go.
2) Cook the rice with the coconut water and salt.  Chop the cilantro, set aside.
3) Chop and stir all of the ingredients for the spicy strawberry & mango salsa together in a bowl and set aside.
4) Heat your over to 400 degrees.  Get 4 oven safe bowls, turn upside down on a cookie sheet.  Heat the flour tortillas in the microwave for 30 – 60 seconds until soft, then drape over the oven safe bowls and press against the bowls.  Bake for roughly 10 minutes until they are hard and lightly brown.  Remove from the oven and set aside.
5) Heat a skillet to medium-high, place the corn in the skilled with a bit of olive oil and brown.  Set aside.
6) Heat the black bean until they are warm, once warm keep on low until ready to serve.
7) Once the rice has finished cooking, stir in the chopped cilantro and squeeze in the lime.
8) Slice the avacado.
9) When all of the items for the tortilla bowls are ready, cook the shrimp and sauce on medium-high heat until cooked.  Layer all of the ingredients into the tortilla bowls and drizzle with the Mexican crema – enjoy!  I know you will because they are supper tasty and refreshing!

Spiced Shrimp Strawberry bowls (42) WM

Rice Noodles with Shrimp & Cashews

Chilli Cashew Shrimp Noodles (52) WM

Serves: 4

Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

one package uncooked rice noodles
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1 lime, juiced
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 pound raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 clove garlic, minced
4 red chillies, chopped
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 cup whole roasted cashews
3 green onions, chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

 

 

Chilli Cashew Shrimp Noodles (36) WMDirections:

  1. Boil a pot of salted water, and cook the rice noodles according to package directions (don’t overcook as they will continue to cook in the sauce).  Drain and rinse the noodles in cold water.
  2. Combine the honey, fish sauce, soy sauce, hoisin sauce and lime juice.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Once the pan is hot spoon in half of the peanut oil, dump in the shrimp after the oil has gotten a tad bit warm.  Cook the shrimp until they are cooked through, then remove them from the pan.
  4. Add the other tablespoon of oil, the garlic, red chillies and red bell peppers; saute for about 3 minutes (you want the red bell peppers to still be crunchy).
  5. Add the cashews and stir fry for about a minute.
  6. Add the sauce and the shrimp to the vegetables then cook for another minute.
  7. Add the noodles and cook for about 3 minutes – stir until all of the ingredients are well combined.
  8. Scoop out the noodle mixture and place on individual plates, then top with the chopped green onions and cilantro.

 

Chilli Cashew Shrimp Noodles (70) WM

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