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Sunday, October 4, 2015

Fall Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette

I've received a few emails recently, asking about my dogs and why I haven't been posting much about them.

I guess I've been too focused on recipes!

Last week was Clyde's birthday, however, so I guess this is a good time for a Clyde-pic.

Here he is, November 2012, the day I brought him home.

And here he is last week on his birthday!  I snapped this photo right after he chased a squirrel under the fence.  That's the look he gives whenever the animal he's chasing disappears under the fence.

I don't know whether that look means "Did you SEE that?!" or "Aren't you going to HELP me?" --but I'm always relieved that he's so slow and dopey when he gives chase, because I don't ever want to deal with a look of victory on his face!

Temperatures have dipped recently; I'm not really in that fall-comfort-food mode yet, but I'm ready to embrace the fruits of the season!  When I was at the supermarket a couple of weeks ago and I saw fresh cranberries, I think I might have exclaimed, "YES!!" out loud.  With a little fist pump.

What did I do with them?  I made a vinaigrette.

Isn't it pretty?!

You can prepare it in less than 10 minutes.  Make it in advance because it needs time to chill.  Then throw together this very simple salad (greens, a sliced pear or two, glazed pecans, dried cranberries and crumbled feta)!

Today's Playlist
  • "Under Cover Of Darkness"...The Strokes
  • "Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground"...The White Stripes
  • "Dani California"...Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • "Why Don't You Get A Job?"...The Offspring
  • "The Girl Got Hot"...Weezer

Fall Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette (4 to 6 servings)

Dressing Ingredients:
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar (or white balsamic, or red wine vinegar)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Salad Ingredients:
  • 8 cups of your favorite greens (I used spinach and romaine)
  • 2 pears, sliced
  • 1 cup glazed pecans
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

Gather your dressing ingredients.

Stir together the cranberries, orange juice and sugar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.

Stir constantly until the cranberries start to pop.  You can actually hear them pop, and you will notice that the skins are split.

When all the skins have split, lower the heat and allow them to simmer for 2 or 3 minutes (to soften).

After they've softened, pour them into a blender and add the olive oil...


and vinegar.

I also add a couple of ice cubes.  The dressing usually needs to be thinned down a bit, so instead of adding water I add ice cubes to help speed the cooling-down process.

Blend for about 20 seconds.  Isn't it pretty?

Transfer the vinaigrette into a serving container and refrigerate until chilled.

 To assemble the salad:
Gather your salad ingredients.  Yes, I told you feta cheese crumbles, but I didn't realize that I didn't have any on hand until I was making the salad!  I forged ahead anyway.

You can use your favorite packaged glazed pecans, or your can make your own.  I made my own this time, using pumpkin pie spice for flavoring!  Click here to be taken to my recipe for glazed nuts.

To assemble the salad, simply layer the pears, nuts, cranberries and feta on top of the greens.

Next time, I'll remember the feta.

Drizzle the vinaigrette as you plate the salad.


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Our Latest Cooking Show: Cocktails & Tapas!

We filmed another episode of the cooking show last week.

My friend, Trish, cooked with me.  Trish and I went out to dinner last month along with another friend, Gayle.  We ordered our usual Lemon Drop Martini, and as we were toasting our friendship Trish suggested that I should do a cocktail-themed cooking show.

I gave her my standard reply, "only if you'll cook with me!"

Ply Trish with lemon drop martinis and she will agree to anything.  We decided on a theme of Cocktails & Tapas, because Trish has a love of deep-fried food. I knew I would need to use the deep fryer to keep her happy, and since there is no deep-fried cocktail my recipe repertoire it only seemed fitting to mix a few tapas into our cocktail show.

We started off with Blueberry-Peach Sangria.  This is my go-to sangria recipe.  And as you can tell by the nearly-empty pitcher in the background, it was a hit with everyone at the taping.

Click here to be taken to the printable recipe.

Then we mixed up a few Blackberry-Ginger Mojitos, inspired by my friend, Gayle, who confided that her recent trip to Puerto Rico sparked a love of mojitos.

Here's the printable recipe.

After we had the drinks prepared, we moved onto the tapas.

First up were the Stuffed Cucumbers with Feta.  

They're so quick and easy to prepare, and can be kept in the refrigerator until you're ready to serve them.    Here's the printable recipe.

Slow-roasting the tomatoes helps to concentrate their flavor, and they're especially good this time of year when you can still get your hands on tomatoes at the Farmers Market!  Or better yet, pick them from your garden (lucky you).

Next on the menu: Baked Chicken Taquitos.  Yummy, cheesy, fast & easy to prepare if you use a store-bought rotisserie chicken.  

Here's the printable recipe.

Then it was time to drag out the deep fryer, for our Fingerling Papas Fritas with Lemon Garlic Aioli.

Out of all of the dishes that we prepared, these were Trish's favorite.  I think they may have been the favorite of a few of the people at the taping, because at the end of the night, this was the dish that disappeared in a snap.  Here's the printable recipe.

While the first batch of potatoes was frying, we quickly prepared our Shrimp, Scallops & Arugula with Lemon Parmesan Vinaigrette.

Click here for the printable recipe.

And finally, while the second batch of potatoes was frying, we made Shisito Peppers and Prosciutto.

Shisito peppers are not hot peppers.  Not usually. About one in ten shisito peppers will be hot.  On the Scoville pepper scale, they range from 100 to 1000 heat units.  By comparison, jalapeño peppers range from 2500 to 8000 heat units.

This is my favorite dish that we prepared.  It did not disappear as quickly as the potatoes did, so I had leftovers the next day!

Here is the printable recipe.

We spent about two hours preparing eight recipes...and then proceeded to demolish just about everything you see here!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Stuffed Cucumber with Feta

When you're making appetizers, do you try to strike a balance between decadent (fried and cheesy) and relatively healthy?

Unfortunately, ho-hum crudités make me feel deprived, which only increases the chance that I'm going to put too many high-calorie appetizers on my plate!

These little cucumber bites are a nice balance between healthy and indulgent, and they're quick and easy to prepare!

Today's Playlist

  • "Run-Around"...Blues Traveler
  • "Hey Jealousy"...Gin Blossoms
  • "Sorry She's Mine"...The Small Faces
  • "By The Way"...Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • "Listen To Her Heart"...Tom Petty
  • "Got To Move"...Cake

Stuffed Cucumber with Feta
  • 1 English (cello-wrapped) cucumber*
  • 2 tablespoons feta cheese crumbles
  • 2 teaspoons fresh chopped oregano
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
  • pinch EACH sea salt and pepper
*I prefer English cucumbers because they have fewer, smaller seeds and are usually unwaxed.   
 Any cucumbers can be substituted, just be sure the skin is unwaxed!

Gather your ingredients.

Slice the cucumber in half lengthwise.  Use a spoon (or a melon baller) to remove the seeds.

Chop the oregano.

Cut one of the cucumber halves in half.  Slice that half into long strips...

...and then dice the strips into 1/4- to 1/2-inch dice.

Place the diced cucumber into a small bowl.

Add the olive oil and vinegar...



...and salt & pepper.  Mix to combine, then carefully spoon the mixture into your hollowed-out cukes.

Like this.  If your cucumbers are not lying flat and you feel as if they will tip over, take a vegetable peeler and peel a long strip off of the bottom of the cucumber.  This will prevent it from tipping.

Slice the cucumber diagonally into 1-inch pieces.  These little stuffed cuke bites may be served immediately, or placed in your refrigerator until you are ready to serve them.


Friday, September 11, 2015

Bruschetta with Oven-Roasted Tomatoes

Imagine a sliced baguette, the slices rubbed with garlic and lightly brushed with olive oil, toasted for a minute under the broiler and then topped with roasted tomatoes.  Tomatoes that have been slow roasted.  Slow roasted so that they are slightly dehydrated, the better to concentrate the sweet flavor of fresh-off-the-vine summer tomatoes.

You have been looking for something to do with the abundance of tomatoes from your garden, right?

Or the abundance of tomatoes that your neighbor (who is a gardening fiend) is begging you to take off her hands, PLEASE?  

You need to make this bruschetta.  Crunchy, yet chewy.  Savory, yet sweet--thanks to the garden tomatoes.

I hope that I've convinced you to make this.

Okay, there is a tiny caveat:  it takes two hours to roast the tomatoes.

But it's mostly hands-off time!

You can prep the tomatoes in 5 minutes, then stick them in your oven for two hours. The only moment that requires your attention is at the halfway-mark when you lower your oven temp from 250 degrees to 200 degrees.  You don't even need to open the door to do that.

After you've roasted the tomatoes you can either immediately assemble and broil the bruschetta (another 5 minute ordeal), or you can refrigerate the roasted tomatoes and wait until you're ready to spend 5 minutes assembling and broiling!

Today's Playlist

  • "Come A Little Closer"...Cage The Elephant
  • "Black Hearts (On Fire)"...Jet
  • "Welcome To Paradise"...Green Day
  • "Let Me Go"...Cake
  • "Don't Let Go"...Weezer
  • "Cannon"...The White Stripes
  • "Otherside"..Red Hot Chili Peppers

Part One:  Oven Roasted Tomatoes
  • 3 or 4 plum tomatoes (fresh-picked from the garden are best!)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon EACH fresh chopped marjoram and thyme
  • pinch EACH sea salt and pepper

Gather your ingredients.  Preheat your oven to 250 degrees.

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees. Lop off the tops of your tomatoes.  This will remove the stem as well as leave you with a flat surface to stand and slice.

Chop the marjoram and thyme.

Stand up your tomatoes on their flattened tops and slice lengthwise into slices about 1/4-inch thick.

Like this.  

Place the sliced tomatoes into a shallow bowl. Drizzle with the olive oil.

Sprinkle with the chopped herbs.

 Gently toss to coat with the oil & herb mixture.

Arrange the slices in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Season with the salt and pepper.

Roast the tomatoes in your preheated 250-degree oven for one hour.  After one hour, lower the temperature to 200 degrees.  Roast for one more hour.

Here they are, two hours later.  Slightly shriveled, partly dehydrated with an abundance of sweet tomato flavor.

Admire them for a moment.  Then decide if you want to continue on to part two (assembling and cooking the bruschetta, a five-minute ordeal) now or later.

Part Two:  Bruschetta with Oven Roasted Tomatoes
  • Previously prepared Oven Roasted Tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 1 baguette, diagonally sliced into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 2 cloves garlic, cut in half
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped marjoram

Gather your ingredients.  Set your broiler on HIGH.

Chop the marjoram.  Slice the garlic cloves in half.  Slice your baguette. Rub one side of each slice with the raw garlic.  Keep the bread slices garlic-side up.

Lightly brush the slices (on the same side that you've rubbed the garlic on) with olive oil.  Place the slices (oil-side up) onto a baking sheet.

Place your roasted tomatoes onto a cutting board.

Coarsely chop the tomatoes.

Place the baguette slices under your broiler and broil for one minute.

Here they are after one minute, crisp and slightly browned around the edges.

Turn the baguette slices over and lightly brush with olive oil on the flip side. You do not need to rub this side with garlic.

Top with the chopped roasted tomato.

Place the slices under your broiler once again for one minute.

Remove from your oven, sprinkle with the fresh chopped marjoram and serve immediately.