Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Olive-Brie Burgers on the Grill




After a lengthy phone conversation with my brother John, I finally learned how to turn on my gas grill. And of course, as with all new toys, I'm obsessed with using it often.

I also love hamburgers. 

For this hamburger, I decided to improvise using what I had in the refrigerator, a jar of green olives and a small wedge of brie. I chopped both finely.

Oh, and before that......I poured myself a glass of my other new toy this summer....rose wine. Find a nice dry one, it's perfect wine for summer red meat grilling.



I formed the patties, sprinkled with coarsely ground pepper. 
Then I buttered a couple of onion rolls.
That ear of corn has also been slathered with butter and sprinkled with herbs of Provence. 





Cooking. Cooking. Cooking.



And voila! 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Perfect Summer Pasta


 


Last Saturday morning, I was watching Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, one of my favorite chefs on the FoodNetwork. She prepared this simple, Summer Garden Pasta (the link will take you directly to her version).

There is no-cooking involved (outside of boiling water for the pasta) that was so incredibly easy, and the best way to enjoy your summer bumper crop of tomatoes, that I had to try it. It is exactly what you want a summer dish to be...simple, light, and full of flavor.

Toss the ingredients for the 'sauce' together in the morning before you head out to the beach (so simple, it doesn't even need to be refrigerated!). When you get back, you'll have dinner ready to go...boil water, uncork a bottle of chilled white zinfandel (pink wines are my new summer favorite), take this out on the deck and enjoy!


Summer Pasta ala The Barefoot Contessa

Suzanne's Version Serves two.

Ingredients:

1 pint container cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
12 basil leaves, chopped finely
2 -3 cloves fresh garlic, chopped finely
1/4 - 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
red pepper flakes
pinch sea or kosher salt
freshly ground pepper


Process:

1. Combine all of the above in a small bowl, give a gentle stir, cover, and let stand at room temperature for 4 - 8 hours. (In other words, throw this together in the morning before you start your day, it will be ready at dinnertime)

2. Boil water. Cook whole wheat angel hair pasta, al dente.

3. Dump tomato mixture into a pasta dish. Dump cooked pasta on top. Toss both together. Grate parmesan cheese over top. Serve immediately.

So easy, and light, it's perfect for summer. It even tastes good cold the next day for lunch.

Monday, June 4, 2012

4 Ingredient - Foolproof, Easy Chicken Pot Pie




I love chicken pot pie. Unfortunately, the frozen, store-bought variety can be heavy on calories, sodium, and enough dough to  leave you feeling like you've eaten a cardboard box.

I've come up with an incredibly quick, and relatively light, alternative that requires only FOUR ingredients, making it perfect for an easy week-night dinner.

Ingredients:

2 cups of chopped or shredded chicken meat from a rotisserie chicken

2 cups mixed frozen vegetables (microwaved for 1 minute on high to thaw)

1 package crescent roll pastry dough

1 can cream of chicken soup -or- better yet, prepare your own  quick (and easy) b├ęchamel sauce (butter, flour, and milk)


Assembly:

Preheat oven to 350 F.

I used individual oven-proof soup bowls. However, you could also use one larger (2-quart) casserole dish.

1. Layer chicken and vegetables in the bottom of the individual soup bowl or casserole dish

2. Heat cream soup or b├ęchamel sauce, pour over chicken and vegetables.

3. Gently stir soup and chicken and vegetables to evenly distribute.

4. Drape crescent roll pastry over bowl/casserole.

5. Bake for 15 - 18 minutes until pastry is golden.

The result is the perfect comfort food...not too heavy, and  wonderfully delicious. Try this recipe once and it will become one of your family's favorites.

Enjoy!


Monday, May 28, 2012

Mac and Cheese Inspired by Country Living Magazine



Last year I went through some sort of compulsive subscription frenzy brought on by Amazon's $5 magazine sale at Christmas and ordered about a dozen other magazines, all of which I've since let expire. This year, I'm just keeping the core.

My favorite magazines are: Southern Living, Country Living, Better Homes and Gardens, Good Housekeeping, and Oprah (of course).  These are my tried and true, been subscribing to them for a hundred years and will still be subscribing to them one hundred years from today.  (Thanks to sister-in-law Kathy for sponsoring my Better Homes and Garden subscription for the past two years).

As I flip through these magazines each month, I generally find inspiration for a new dish that I want to try. This month it was Country Living's Macaroni and Gruyere Cheese. Would you believe that I've never made mac and cheese before? I know. Strange.

Here's my version of it, in which I changed up some ingredients to use what I had on hand, as well as the amount, to suit a two person household.

Ingredients:


  • 8 oz whole wheat pasta shells
  • 1 1/2 cups grated aged cheddar and gruyere cheeses
  • 1 1/2 cups half and half
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons butter melted
  • breadcrumbs to sprinkle
  • pepper, garlic powder to taste



Begin by boiling the pasta. In this case I used whole wheat shells. They're cute and healthy.



Measure out 1 1/2 cups half and half. That's right. Not milk, we're going for the rich stuff.



After you've drained the pasta toss it with about half of your shredded cheese.



In a small bowl, combine the half and half, two egg yolks, and two tablespoons of melted butter. Add freshly ground pepper and garlic powder according to your taste. Freshly grated nutmeg would also be wonderful.



Pour the mixture into the pasta shells and cheese and mix together. Sprinkle the top with bread crumbs.

Bake at 325 F for 30 minutes covered with foil, then top with half cup of remaining shredded cheese and bake for another 20 minutes uncovered.



And voila. I promise you, this recipe is easy to assemble and tastes so incredibly better than anything you will get out of a box.

The variations on mac and cheese are endless, so you can literally use anything you've got in the pantry and fridge to create wonderful comfort food.

Cheers!




Monday, May 21, 2012

Whole Wheat Oatmeal Waffles



Instead of using cake flour, as Joy recommended, I used whole wheat flour and oatmeal, because oatmeal is good for Mom's cholesterol, but she refuses to eat a bowl of cooked oatmeal. Hence my strategy of sneaking it into other things like waffles and cookies.

Then I added baking powder and apple pie spice, although you could add cinnamon, or pumpkin pie spice, or any other flavor that strikes your fancy. And a teaspoon of sugar...although I bet you could also just skip the sugar altogether without it making a difference to the taste. I'll try that next time, as I'm trying to cut down on sugar in my diet.


Now add the wet ingredients: three egg yolks (aren't they beautiful!) and then milk (or buttermilk would be wonderful).


A few vigorous beats, the batter will be thick, and then gently ladle into the waffle maker and spread out over the surface. And try not to make the mess that I create with batter falling over the edges.



This Black and Decker waffle maker, which I've had for years, actually chirps when the waffles are done. And it makes adorable heart shaped waffles. 

Serve with bacon or sausage, to get that savory / sweet hit, and a splash of maple syrup. Yum!


Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups Whole Wheat Flour

1/4 cup oatmeal flakes

1/2 teaspoon Apple Pie Spice or  1/4 t. Cinnamon

1 teaspoon sugar (omit if you're watching your sugar intake)

3 egg yolks

3 Tablespoons butter, melted

1 1/4 cups of milk or buttermilk

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda






Monday, May 14, 2012

Perfectly Easy Fruit Smoothie Protein Shakes



I don't eat enough fruit. Sometimes Mom's appetite isn't as hearty as it should be. And then there are mornings when we just want to throw together a quick healthy breakfast that doesn't involve the stove or cold cereal.



Which is when I get out my trust blender and throw together a protein shake. There are as many variations as there are ingredients in your pantry, but here are my essentials:


  • One bannana. The potassium is good for Mom since she has to take a lot of water pills, which sometimes results in leg cramps.


  • A handful of strawberries or blueberries (I've now started buying the large bags of frozen berries from Costco, so I don't have to worry about the cost of getting fresh fruit out of season).
  • Half a cup of plain non-fat Greek yogurt. It's high in protein.
  • A scoop of protein powder, the one we use also has vitamins in the mix.
  • A cup of low fat milk. Although I'll probably change this to Almond Milk eventually.
  • A handful of ice.
  • I'll probably begin adding a tablespoon of flaxseed in the future.

Blend to the consistency you like. This makes enough for two large shakes.


Mission Accomplished. And it's delicious.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Slow Cooker Beef Ribs and a Beautiful Table-scape



Mom wanted me to share this lovely table-scape with you. It was created with the red tulips she received for Valentine's Day.


The candlesticks are from a long-ago trip to Portugal. The plates are from a street seller in Kiev. The tablecloth is from a day-trip into the French countryside. The glasses are from our local thrift store.


I'm not sure where those decorative balls are from. I found them while unpacking one of the four thousand boxes I had in storage.


The pretty crystal basket holding the tulips and balls belonged to my grandmother. And the battery operated candles are from Wal-Mart.


But here's the really important thing...

Yesterday Mom had her quarterly appointment with her cardiologist and he told her that her heart is in better shape now than it was in Florida. He says he can't explain it other than she's enjoying life.

Which is a really wonderful thing.




He also told her she could eat whatever she wants, as long as she watches her salt intake.

Now for today's recipe, slow cooker BBQ beef ribs:

1 cup BBQ sauce
1 cup Mom's homemade beef stock
1/2 cup red wine
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tablespoon Minced Garlic
2 -3 lbs Beef Ribs


Place everything in slow cooker. Cook for 8 hours on low, 4 - 5 hours on high.

Serve with a vegetable of your choice.

Enjoy!