31 July 2012

Thai Peanut Chicken & Zucchini Tartine

Forget cocoa puffs.  I go coo-coo for zucchini.  And with very good reason.  Any vegetable that can be baked with chocolate, layered with cheese, breaded with panko, grilled with garlic or mixed into lemon loaf is a winner.  This fabulous veggie is filled with moisture that makes your breads tender, your pancakes pop and your grill basket grin (not the best, but I like alliteration).  

Though I grew up with a garden where I could pluck a zucchini at whim, our second floor apartment is not exactly primo zucchini planting ground.  Most of the year, I am limited to the wee zucchinis available at the local market.  Delicious, but small.  Fortunately, has been a lovely hot summer with perfect zucchini-growing conditions.  Friends have zucchini bursting out of their ears and are feeling extra generous.  Needless to say, when someone left a zucchini the size of my thigh on my desk, I did not turn up my nose.  Rather, I took to the challenge with glee.  It has brought out some very creative and delicious new recipes, such as these delicious grilled zucchini tartines with Thai peanut chicken.  

29 July 2012

Roasted Fennel & Cherry Salad

In tribute to the Olympics, the athleticism, the drive and the passion of the games, we have had a series of sporting events in our little lives.  I believe there is no better way to support our team competing in London than some friendly competition back home.  So far, we're doing quite well, having earned a silver medal in the Wood-Fire Pizza Competition and two golds in Best Use of Pizza Leftovers and Best Wine.  Unfortunately, the we let the US down in our events this evening, not even medaling in the fiercely competitive Backyard Badminton.  In our defense, I strongly believe that the United States team needs to reconsider their Olympic selections based on the competition this evening.

Needless to say, after dragging our weary bodies home from the backyard in shame, a quick and cool dinner was in order.  Not only that, but we needed something to inspire our shattered souls and rally for my next event, Sand Volleyball.  Hence, this evening's salad was born.

28 July 2012

Mixed Berry Bran Flake Muffins

I love muffins the way most people love cupcakes.  I'll take a streusel topping over frosting any day.  They're wonderful fresh out of the oven, perfect reheated on day two, fabulous when toasted on day three or grilled up as tiny French toast rounds on day four.  Though often, they do not make it to day four in our household....skipping of steps may be required.

Probably my favorite type of basic muffin is the bran muffin.  They have sort of a bad rap, with many people I know thinking of them as hockey pucks that promote regularity.  However, when properly prepared, bran muffins are wholesome, moist, fluffy and light.  They have a strong enough flavor to support many types of mix-ins and toppings.  My personal favorite is plump mixed berries...who doesn't love a little sweet berry juice in the morning?

24 July 2012

Kale Meatball & Polenta Bites with Spicy Marinara Dipping Sauce

I believe that meatballs are a seriously underrated healthy food option.  It's kind of tragic.  I always had this idea that meatballs are these little fat-packed morsels that float amongst carby bowls of pasta, slathered in thick and salty sauces, smothered by mounds of fatty cheese.  Now if that description got you salivating, I totally understand.....but take a second to think of how you feel after you finish that meal.  Ugh.  Those are the moments I want to take my tummy out and put it away on a very high shelf, feeding it only leafy greens and fruit until it rejuvenates.

I like to challenge the fatty meatball stereotype every chance I get.  And on a very rainy and dreary summer day, a meatball felt long overdue.  It's still summer, so a hot bowl of pasta may not sound very inviting.  My solution: nix the pasta and bring on the polenta.

22 July 2012

Pacific Northwest Breakfast Toasts

Every once in a while, the hubs and I just need a little taste of home to start our day.  A warm and savory meal that fills our heart in addition to our tummy.  Everyone has a food or two that evoke fond memories and whisk you away to another place.  For some that is biscuits and gravy, bagels & cream cheese, waffles with maple syrup or sausage with applesauce.  For the hubs and myself, it is this delicious little open-faced delight.  

I've gone on plenty about the splendor of Pacific Salmon, but I do not believe I have been kind enough to introduce you to Tillamook cheese.  Their sharp cheddar is the cheese I grew up with.  We would eat it with apples, on top of pie and of course by itself.  This Oregon based cheese is amazing - pungent, sharp and insanely good melted on anything.  So any time we find ourselves in possession of both salmon and Tillamook cheddar, this breakfast sandwich emerges.  

18 July 2012

Stone Fruit Sangria

Sangria is one of my favorite things to bring to a summer barbecue.  It's light, fruity and refreshing...pretty much the perfect beverage for a hot day.  And with the awesome selection of fruit that is in season, there is no better time of year to chop up fruit and toss it into some booze for a good, flavorful soak.

The hubs is an enormous fan of peaches.  So last summer, I thought it would be fun to try a peach sangria with a white wine base rather than our typical red.  And woah buddy, what a hit!  This puppy had a double whammy of peachy flavor from both fresh fruit and peach schnapps.  It's a refreshing, summery treat that isn't overly sweet. Hey, I'm rhyming....neat!

15 July 2012

Cinco De Mayo Pizza

This dish is another of my recreations of a meal we loved in Mazatlan.  They called this the Cinco de Mayo Pizza, and it was certainly a fiesta in our mouths!  Ay caramba.  

This bad boy is meaty, spicy and incredibly gooey.  If any of those three descriptors don't appeal to you, this is not your dish.  But if you began salivating just by reading those words (as I did), then this is about to become one of your all-time favorite pizzas.  Crisp bacon, spicy chorizo and jalapenos swim in a sea of mild and melty Oaxaca, a Mexican cheese very similar in consistency to mozzarella.  They come together for a deliciously unique pizza that will turn even the most wary of jalapenos into big fans.

14 July 2012

Hubs in the Kitchen - Perfect Grilled Pork Tenderloin

The hubs is a grill master.  Give him a piece of meat and he can cook it perfectly on a barbecue.  It's pretty spectacular.  Fish, steak, chicken and pork, he can do it all.  Just one of the many, many reasons I love him.

Pork tenderloin is something that is a bit tricky to cook up.  It can go from undercooked to dried out very quickly, and often becomes completely charred on the grill before the center is even close when I attempt to cook one on the grill.  I simply do not have the patience for pork tenderloin.  But the hubs, he's a smart one.  His method for pork tenderloin on the grill is the easiest and juiciest I have ever tasted.  So today I bring you his grilling method for a perfectly grilled pork tenderloin.  Yum.

10 July 2012

Grilled Stone Fruit & Tilapia Salad

Have you ever grilled fruit?  If not, try it immediately.  They do this wonderful, saucy thing that can only be described as heavenly.  Think of the way a fresh blueberry bursts in a blueberry pancake...the way it explodes with intensified flavor and warm juicy goodness.  This effect carries over to peaches and cherries as well, which fall into the category of stone fruit (meaning they have pits).  

One of my favorite ways to serve grilled fruit is on a salad.  No need for dressing here, folks!  All that warm fruit juice translates into the healthiest, yummiest salad dressing you could ever hope for.  Step aside ranch, blue cheese and even vinaigrettes.  Just serve me up this tender, warm, juicy fruity topping and you will have a very, very happy lady.

09 July 2012

Summer Pasta Salad with Avocado, Tomatoes & Garlic Lime Shrimp

After over a week of 100+ degree days, a hot meal is on the low end of my appetizing foods scale.  I've been rocking salads, wraps and other luke-warm to cold dishes.  But after weeks of burger buns and tortillas, I  was really starting to get a hankering for pasta.  And while it does require boiling water, it does not require being served hot.  A cold pasta salad with the best flavors of summer is necessary now and again....and again, and again.......

08 July 2012

La Paloma

While we were in Mazatlan, we definitely partook in our fair share of the traditional margaritas, pina coladas and daiquiris along with the pletora of fruity specialty drinks that the resort offered.  They were delicious, but by day two, I had hit my limit for sweet drinks.  Being a whiskey rocks girl, I can only go fruity for so long before I feel like removing each of my teeth individually for an intense brushing session.  

Thankfully, one of the couples we befriended down there told us about this drink called "the dove" that was a simple, light and refreshing alternative to the sugary blended beverages.  That evening at dinner we asked for "the dove" and our favorite waiter said, "Oh si, la paloma!  Muy bien."  And then into our lives was brought the most simple, refreshing and easy cocktails we've ever had. 

07 July 2012

Blackberry Lemon Tart with Poppy Seed Crust

There's something about the seedy, nutty flavor of poppy seeds that the hubs and I both go crazy for.  They add a tiny little crunch and great savory flavor to any baked good.   Be it in bagels, muffins, cookies or pies, they are often sprinkled into our favorite dishes to take the flavor to the next level.  

Tarts are one of my favorite summertime desserts.  A light crunchy crust crust and fruity flavors are perfect for those hot days when you want a sweet treat without it being too heavy.  They can be prepared in advance, served at room temp and can stand up to heat at a picnic.  Perfect.  And this lemony, fruity little bite of heaven has pleased many a palate at summer cookouts.  

And to top it all off, it is low fat.  Yes, you read that correctly - guilt free eating here, folks.

05 July 2012

Chilaquiles with Roasted Jalapeno & Tomatillo Salsa Verde

So remember those amazing Mexican breakfasts I mentioned in my Mazatlan summary?  It's time to introduce you to my absolute favorite of them all - chilaquiles!  I ate this dish four times in seven days.  Needless to say, I loved it.

Chilaquiles are basically leftover corn tortillas that are cut up, fried and and tossed in a red or green sauce.  The tortillas become very crispy, then soften slightly when coated in the sauce for a crunchy, flavorful delight.  Topped with fresh cilantro, red onion and queso fresco or cotija, the flavor profile is bright and fresh.  They are excellent with shredded chicken or beef, but my personal favorite is served with refried beans and eggs at breakfast.

04 July 2012

Honey Roasted Rhubarb

Having officially been referenced in two different recipes now, I need to give this its own separate post.  Delicious rhubarb, quickly roasted with natural honey and vanilla.  The perfect side for ice cream, mix-in for oatmeal or topping for waffles.  Simple, delicious, amazing.

01 July 2012

Ladies that Lunch - Blueberry Pistachio Salad with Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette

While the hubs is away, the ladies will play!  My friend Jay has come into town for the holiday, providing some much needed girly time.  Shenanigans are pretty much guaranteed to occur.  And now I have a new palate to taste some of my favorite recipes on!

Every lady loves a light salad for summer lunch.  And with the temperatures in the 90's with no end in sight, cool lunches with cold cuts, crackers and cheese is simply divine.  And this is currently one of my favorite salads.  Everyone has had the traditional strawberry almond or walnut cranberry salad.  And why not?!  Fruit and nuts add wonderful texture and flavor.  Here, I simply bring to you one of my favorite variations on the traditional fruit and nut salad.