Sunday, August 18, 2019

Shrimp Tacos with Crispy Garlic and Salsa Mexicana

These Shrimp Tacos with Crispy Garlic and Salsa Mexicana are the perfect refreshing meal on a hot summer day! Simple and easy to make, these tacos come together in no time at all.

First, we're going to make a quick salsa using ripe garden fresh tomatoes, serrano pepper, garlic, green onion, cilantro, and lime juice. The salsa is fresh and delicious, even more so when the flavors have some time to meld together. Now let's cook the shrimp! We're talking big flavors here!

You can't cook shrimp without lots of butter and garlic and this recipe doesn't disappoint. It starts with butter and three large cloves of garlic. Next comes 2-3 thinly sliced serrano peppers. We are packing some heat here, folks! If you can't take the heat, then you might want to cut it down to one serrano, or maybe even half a serrano. Toss the shrimp in and within minutes you will be sitting down to enjoy the perfect summertime meal!

Shrimp Tacos with Crispy Garlic and Salsa Mexicana
Adapted from Rick Bayless Website
Serves 4-6

2-3 fresh serrano chiles stemmed, seeded, and cut into long slices
2 tablespoons butter
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoons black pepper
2/3 cup chicken broth
 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
vegetable oil
12 fresh corn tortillas
4 ounces (1 cup) shredded Mexican melting cheese*

Note: I elected not to use the cheese.

Salsa Mexicana
1 small garlic clove, peeled
fresh hot green chiles to taste, 1 or 2 serrano
1 medium-large round red, ripe tomato (1/2 pound total)
1/4 cup loosely packed) roughly chopped cilantro
1 small green onion, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
salt, to taste

Heat the butter in the skillet over medium heat, add the garlic and stir for a minute. Stir in the chile strips, black pepper, and broth. Raise the temperature to medium-high and boil until the mixture has reduced to just a few tablespoons and is noticeably thicker, about 8 minutes. 

Add the shrimp and stir until the pieces are nearly cooked through about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat, taste and season with salt, usually 1/2 teaspoon. 

Lightly oil the tortillas, lay them by pairs on a griddle or skillet over medium heat, flipping to warm through. Top each pair with a portion of the cheese (if using) and let melt, then top with a hefty amount of the filing and serve.

For the Salsa Mexicana: Drop the garlic and chile pieces one at a time into a running food processor, letting each get finely chopped before adding the next. Cut half the tomato into quarters and add it to the food processor, along with cilantro. Pulse 4 to 6 times until you have a coarse puree. Scrape the mixture into a bowl. Cut the other half of the tomato into 1/4" pieces and add to the bowl along with the green onion. Taste and season with lime juice and salt. This salsa is best if eaten with an hour or two but it will keep for a number of hours in the refrigerator.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Giada's Lemon White Pizza

So, white pizza has always been a favorite of mine. I don't like lots of pizza sauce on my pizza. In fact,  I'll just go ahead and admit that I don't even really like pizza sauce on my pizza. There, I said it. Feel free to call me crazy.

I'm just there for the cheese. And the crust. Giada's Lemon White Pizza reminds me of Italy and all the lemons on the Amalfi Coast. There is nowhere I'd rather visit than the Amalfi Coast. It's number one on my list of travel destinations. Maybe one day.

In the meantime, I'm getting my lemons from the Kroger here in Georgetown, KY. It's not the same, but I have a good imagination. I bought the best ricotta I could find, some fresh mozzarella pearls, and some fabulous Parmigiana-Reggiano. We have a Murray's cheese shop inside my Kroger so I am able to get my hands on some quality cheese.

The pizza comes together quickly. Warm the dough and let it rise. Roll it out on the backside of a large baking sheet.  Mix the ricotta, lemon zest, salt, and oregano. Spread it all over the pizza crust. Top with fresh mozzarella. Bake for about 20 minutes, until golden brown and bubbly. Top with a drizzle of olive oil (I say so), Parmigiano-Reggiano, red pepper flakes, and torn basil. Give it a squeeze of lemon if you really wanna get wild. Take a bite and close your eyes...

The pizza is light and delicious. There is a hint of lemon and the blend of three cheeses makes it so creamy. The fresh basil really adds a touch of freshness. Keep your eyes closed. It's summertime in Amalfi and there are good looking Italian men everywhere. You can hear their accents, you can feel the breeze, you can smell the sea. You have a delicious slice of pizza in one hand and a glass of Limoncello in the other. It is paradise.

Lemon White Pizza
Adapted from Giada's Italy
by Giada De Laurentiis
Serves 4-6

1 (16-ounce) ball of store-bought pizza dough
1 cup whole milk ricotta
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
all-purpose flour, for dusting
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, torn into pieces
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Place the pizza dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a towel, and allow it to rest in a warm place for 1 hour.

Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Preheat the oven to 450F.

In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, lemon zest, salt, and oregano. Set aside.

Using a touch of flour to prevent sticking, stretch out the pizza dough to an 11 x 6" inch oval. Turn a rimmed baking sheet upside down and drizzle with the olive oil. Place the dough on the baking sheet. spread the ricotta mixture evenly over the crust, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edge. Divide the mozzarella evenly over the ricotta.

Place the pizza on the lowest rack in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Rotate the pizza to the upper rack and bake an additional 10 minutes, or until deep golden brown. Remove the pizza to a rack and sprinkle with the Parmigiano-Reggiano, basil, and red pepper flakes. Cut into pieces and serve. 

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Ina Garten's Plum Tart

When I think of Ina Garten I think of two things. Number one: she cooks a lot of chicken for Jeffrey (she is definitely the Queen of Chicken).  Number two: she makes a lot of desserts with plums.

Plums are definitely underrated so you tend to notice when someone makes a lot of plum tarts and plum cakes and plum jam, like Ina does. The world should listen to Ina because the woman definitely knows good food and can be relied upon. So, PLUM DESSERTS for everyone! Really, people. Plums are both sweet and tart and they make some fabulous desserts. Please jump on the plum train while they're in season. You'll be so happy you did!

This plum tart is dead simple! It's so easy a little kid could make it. So you really have no reason not to give it a try. The crust doesn't require any rolling or any fussing about whatsoever. In fact, the crust is more of a crumble that is just pushed into a tart pan. Then you just cut the plums and place them on top before covering it with more of the crust which serves as a "crumble topping." It could not be any more simple!

Now, I am absolutely crazy for a crust loaded with brown sugar and chopped walnuts and this recipe definitely hits the mark on that. The plums and the walnuts pair wonderfully together. I also love a fruit dessert with a heavy hand of crumble on top and this recipe does not disappoint! In fact, this recipe may very well have more crumble topping than any other! Serve this alone or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and it will receive rave reviews!

Plum Tart
Adapted from Food Network
by Ina Garten
Serves 6-8

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
3/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
12 tablespoons cold butter (1-1/2 sticks), diced
1 egg yolk
2 pounds firm, ripe plums, pitted and quartered lengthwise (about 6 medium)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Combine the flour, walnuts, and sugar in a large bowl. Add the butter and the egg yolk. Mix, either by hand or with an electric mixer, until crumbly. 

Press 1-12 cups of the crumb mixture in an even layer into the bottom of a 9-1/2 inch springform or tart pan. Arrange the plums in the pan, skin side down, to form a flower pattern; begin at the outside and work your way in.

Sprinkle the rest of the crumb mixture evenly over the plums. Bake the tart for 40-50 minutes, or until it's lightly browned and the plum juices are bubbling. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and transfer the tart to a flat plate. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Two Summer Sippers To Help Cool You Down {Berry Spa Water & Cucumber and Lemon Verbena}

 Are you really posting water, Kim? Yes, yes I am. You see, I'm not a fussy person by any means.  I drink plenty of plain old water and I love it just the way it is. Lots of my friends have been troubling themselves by sprucing up their water for years. Lemons, limes, oranges, cucumbers, berries and all kinds of fussy preparations. I always think it looks pretty. I always think, "sure I'll make some of that fancy flavored water too." Then I just never do probably because I forget about it, but then also because I don't really care. I just like water.

So, since I've had spa waters, or flavored waters, on my to-do list for years, you can bet I'm sharing them. Look Ma, I finally did it! And not just one fancy water...I've got two!

The first version is Giada's Spa Water and it's basically lots of quartered strawberries, blueberries, and water. My daughter and I really liked both of the waters, but if I had to pick my favorite this one would be it. I love that it's a bit different and the skewer of fruit on top goes a long way in selling it for me. Plus, I took to spearing the fruit inside the glass with the skewer which upped the satisfaction of the water greatly.

 Spa Water
Adapted from Food Network
by Giada De Laurentiis
Serves 4-6

1 pound strawberries
1 cup blueberries
10 cups cold water

Hull the strawberries, set aside 4 whole small berries (for garnish) and quarter the rest. Add the quartered strawberries to a large pitcher. Set aside 8 blueberries (for garnish) and add the remainder of the cup to the pitcher. Top with the cold water and allow it to sit for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

On 4 small skewers or toothpicks, thread 1 blueberry, then a strawberry, followed by 1 more blueberry. Set aside until ready to serve.

Pour the spa water into four 16-ounce water glasses filled with ice. Serve garnished with the fruit skewers.

Whilst (I really like that word) vacationing in Gettysburg, our hotel had some lovely cucumber lemon water in the lobby and I was rather fond of it! I will confess that I liked it so well  I actually poured two glasses each and every chance I got.  

Giada's Cucumber and Lemon Verbena Water reminded me of the water I had in Gettysburg, so I wanted to give it a try. I didn't have lemon verbena, but I do have lemon mint that my mom planted years ago. It grows very well, like all mint, so I gave it a good haircut and put it in the pitcher with some cucumber. It wasn't quite lemony enough, and I really wanted to add lemon slices anyway, so I added a sliced up lemon to the pitcher as well. Delicious and refreshing, much like the water on vacation. This water was my daughter's favorite and she took to eating the cucumbers right out of her glass with her hands. Don't we sound classy?

So there we have it. I finally made flavored waters. We liked them, and I would definitely drink them again, but I don't know if I'd fuss enough to make them myself. Nothing against them.  I'm just not that fussy when left to my own devices.

Cucumber and Lemon Verbena Water
Adapted from Food Network
by Giada De Laurentiis
Serves 4-6

1 small cucumber, thinly sliced
6 sprigs fresh lemon verbena, torn
2 quarts (8 cups) water
1 lemon, thinly sliced* (optional)

Put the cucumber slices in the bottom of a large pitcher. Gently roll the lemon verbena sprigs back and forth a few times in your hands to release the scent, then add them to the pitcher along with the water. Add sliced lemon, if using. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Theme: Summer Sippers & Icy Cold Treats

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Giada's Italian Egg Sandwich

My family isn't Italian, but my friend's family is. When I was younger I absolutely loved going to her house and watching all the different things they made in the kitchen. The day before Thanksgiving the whole family would gather round the big dining room table and make a dozens of homemade ravioli for the big day. When they took a break from making ravioli they made Italian nachos, which was essentially tortilla chips topped with marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese baked in the oven until the cheese melted, but to me it was genius! In the early morning after a sleepover, or in the middle of the afternoon for a quick lunch, they would make Italian Egg Sandwiches, just like the one I'm sharing today.

Giada's recipe is an open-face Italian Egg Sandwich, but my friend's family used to make their Italian Egg Sandwiches with two slices of bread, more like a grilled cheese, with a slice of mozzarella and maybe even pepperoni or salami. To me, this was a brilliant idea! Why hadn't I ever thought of it myself? 

It's almost 40 years later and I still love going to their house, seeing all the amazing things that come out of their kitchen. It was always so clear that ewvery recipe was carefully considered and made with love, together. Enjoyed, together. In my opinion, that's how it should be. Food is important. It should be made as a family and enjoyed as a family.

So here is a delicious Italian Egg Sandwich that can be enjoyed as a breakfast, light lunch, or a snack. You could go with a jarred sauce, but I don't think that you should. It is much more gratifying, and delicious, to make the Simple Tomato Sauce that is shared below.

Italian Egg Sandwich
Adapted from Food Network
from Giada De Laurentiis
Serves 1

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 large egg
salt and pepper
1 slice rustic white bread (1/2" thick)
1 garlic clove
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan
1/4 cup warm Simple Tomato Sauce, recipe follows,
 or store-bought chunky marinara sauce, drained of excess liquid

Simple Tomato Sauce
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
salt and black pepper
2 (32-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
4 to 6 basil leaves
2 dried bay leaves
4 tablespoons butter, optional

For the Italian Egg Sandwich: Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a heavy small skillet over medium heat. Crack the egg into the skillet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover and cook until the white is firm and the yolk is almost set, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, toast the bread until golden brown. Rub the garlic over the toast. Sprinkle with the Parmesan. Spoon the drained marinara sauce over the Parmesan. Top with the egg. Place the open-faced sandwich on a plate and serve.

Simple Tomato Sauce: In a large casserole pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until soft and translucent, about 2 minutes. Add celery and carrots and season with salt and pepper. Saute until all the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, basil, and bay leaves and simmer covered on low heat for 1 hour or until thick. Remove bay leaves and check for seasoning. If sauce still tastes acidic, add butter, 1 tablespoon at a time to round out the flavors.

Add half the tomato sauce into the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth. Continue with remaining tomato sauce. If not using all the sauce, allow it to cool completely and pour 1 to 2 cup portions into freezer plastic bags. This will freeze up to 6 months.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Ottolenghi's Hummus with Ful

Hummus is one of my very favorite things to eat.

If I had to guess, I'd say hummus is beloved the world all over the world. How do I know that? They sell over 20 variations and dedicate an entire refrigerator case to it in the supermarket.

If you love hummus as I do, then leave that storebought hummus at the supermarket because NO ONE will ever write a better hummus recipe than Yotam Ottolenghi. I've made several versions, and all of them are good....come on, it's hummus people, HOWEVER Yotam Ottolenghi takes hummus to a whole new level. EVERY SINGLE TIME!

Years ago I made Ottolenghi's Hummus Kawarma with Lemon Sauce which is his basic hummus recipe with chunks of seasoned lamb, toasted buttered pine nuts, and the most flavorful lemon sauce. It was heaven on earth, and to this day, it remains one of the best dishes I've ever made on my blog. You probably already know this because I have not stopped talking about it and I likely never will.

Ottolenghi's Heavenly Hummus Kawarma with Lemon Sauce

Today's hummus recipe is much different than Ottolenghi's Hummus Kawarma, starting with the hummus itself. Ottolenghi's Hummus with Ful begins with a tahini-based hummus, much thicker and heartier than his basic hummus. This hummus with the tahini is like velvet. It's so smooth and creamy and decadent. Top that hummus with ful, a paste made of fava beans, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, and cumin. The ful is delightfully zingy from the hefty dose of lemon juice and carries a punch of flavor from the garlic and the cumin. When you pour the ful over the hummus you are in for a double bean flavor explosion. Then come more toppings: whole cooked chickpeas for texture, chopped parsley to add that herbaceous quality, a good dusting of paprika to add some earthiness, and more olive oil and lemon juice to round things out.

Proceed to have your hummus loving mind blown. This hummus was very good warm, but my eyes nearly rolled back in my head when I tasted it chilled. How in the world can something as humble as beans taste so very extrodinary? Is it just me?

Ottolenghi says to serve this hummus with onion wedges and quartered hard-boiled egg, which was very different than anything I've served with hummus before. I like onions, so I dunked an onion wedge in to the hummus and used it as a scoop...different, delicious, and not overwhelmingly oniony. Goes very well together. I love hard-boiled eggs and hummus, but thought they were just OK together so I'm not sure I'd mix the two together again. However, I absolutely LOVED eating this hummus with some warmed naan bread that I tore up and dunked right in. The naan bread is so soft and fluffy and it is so wonderful for dunking into this rich, decadent, heavenly hummus.

So, what are you waiting for? You have hummus to make! Go look up ANY Yotam Ottolenghi hummus recipe and get busy. It will change your life!

Hummus with Ful
Adapted from Plenty
by Yotam Ottolenghi
Serves an army

For The Hummus:
2-1/2 cups dried chickpeas
1-1/2 tablespoons baking soda
1-1/4 cups tahini paste
3 tablespoons lemon juice*
6 garlic cloves, crushed*
salt and pepper, to taste

For the Ful:
1-1/2 cups dried fava beans
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon ground cumin
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon salt

For the Garnish:
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
6 tablespoons roughly chopped parsley
3 eggs, hard-boiled and quartered
1 medium red onion, cut into 6 wedges

Pita, naan, crackers, and/or veggies for dipping and dunking

Soak the chickpeas and fava beans overnight. Place them in two separate bowls and cover with double their volume of cold water. Add 1 tablespoon baking soda to the chickpeas. Set both aside. The next day, drain and rinse both.

Place the soaked chickpeas and remaining baking soda in a medium saucepan and cover with double their volume of cold water. Bring to the boil, then simmer very gently for 2 to 3 hours (mine were cooked in less than 2 hours), or until totally soft and easy to mush. Add more water during cooking, if necessary, to keep them immersed. Drain them, retaining the cooking liquid**

Transfer the warm chickpeas to a food processor, reserving a few to garnish at the end, and add the tahini, lemon juice, garlic, and salt to taste. Blitz for a minute or two until totally smooth. Add some of the cooking liquid and blitz again. You want the mixture to be very soft, almost runny, but just holding its shape. Taste and add more salt if you like. (I found that I needed to add another clove of garlic and a few more tablespoons of lemon juice for more flavor). 

To make the ful place the fava beans in a medium saucepan and cover with double their volume of water. Simmer gently for about 3 hours (they may take longer), adding more water if necessary. By the end of the cooking time, hardly any liquid should be left in the pan (drain it out if needed) and the beans should have begun to disintegrate, or will do so easily when crushed with a fork. Remove from the heat and add the olive oil, lemon juice, cumin, garlic, and salt. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

To serve, spread the warm hummus in small individual plates. Spoon the ful in the center and drizzle the olive oil and lemon juice on top and around. Sprinkle with paprika, garnish with the reserved chickpeas, plenty of parsley, and serve egg and onion on the side. 

Sunday, July 7, 2019

My Top Five Favorite Pasta Salads!

As far as I'm concerned, pasta makes the world go round.  I've posted more than my fair share of pasta recipes here at Stirring The Pot and I don't plan on stopping any time soon.

In fact, I've posted so many pasta recipes, I think it's about time to do a couple roundup posts sharing all of my top favorite recipes. So, in the next little while, there will definitely be a My Favorite Pasta Recipes and maybe even My Favorite Macaroni and Cheese Recipes.

For now, since it's a thousand degrees outside, let's focus on refreshing, light, and healthy pasta salads. I think my all-time favorite may surprise you (and give you a new recipe to add to your "to-do" list).

(click on any recipe title to be directed to the original post and recipe)

Ellie's Tuscan Lentil and Macaroni Salad is hands down my FAVORITE pasta salad on my blog! Does that surprise you? While I enjoy a more traditional pasta salad, like the one directly below, Ellie's Tuscan Lentil and Macaroni Salad centers around hearty lentils and whole-grain pasta, which is such a welcome change and makes for a very hearty and satisfying dish.  I adore the mustard vinaigrette, as well as the addition of artichokes, carrots, and tomatoes. This is a terrific recipe and one that I have made again and again. Perfect for packing in your lunch, taking to picnics, or making just because. If these ingredients appeal to you at all, then I highly recommend this recipe!

If I'm craving a more traditional pasta salad, then Curtis Stone's Orzo Salad with Basil Vinaigrette is my typical go to. There are several chefs who have an orzo salad recipe that is similar to this and truth be told, you could probably use any of their recipes, but I am definitely vouching for this one! I love this pasta salad with a hefty, and I do mean hefty, dose of feta cheese. I also love to have this salad with some salmon served on the side!

I've made my share of sesame peanut noodles and I've got to say, Ruth Reichl's recipe is the silkiest and creamiest version around! I made my version very simple here, mostly because I wasn't in the mood for any interference (read extra ingredients getting in the way of the noodles), however I will tell you that these noodles are worthy of entertaining. I think you could grace the top of these noodles much like a Cobb Salad, with bits of chicken, veggies, seeds, herbs, etc and really make a show piece that people would go crazy for! This is THE peanut sesame noodle recipe!

Hugh's Herby, Peanutty, Noodly Salad wins the award for the most veggie-centric pasta salad! If you're looking for a pasta salad that is light, refreshing, and crisp...look no further. The crunch from the veggies and the peanuts in this recipe is addictive and the zingy lime vinaigrette is ultimately refreshing, making this salad perfect for even the hottest of days! 

There's just something about pasta shells, isn't there? I love how the peas and little bits of cheese get stuck inside the shells. This is a delightful spring pasta salad that is lemony and light!

Soup, Salad, and Sammie Sundays@ Kahakai Kitchen
Those are my favorite pasta salad recipes. What are some of yours?

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Ina Garten's Crusty Baked Potatoes with Whipped Feta

This Crusty Baked Potato with Whipped Feta is genius! Next level! Game-changing! If you love feta, you simply need to give it a try.

Never has more attention been paid to the outside of a potato. Ina creates a special coating consisting of chopped rosemary, thyme, lemon zest, and salt. She coats the potatoes in olive oil and then rolls the potatoes in the special seasoning. Hallelujah! Why hasn't anyone ever done this before? I mean really... have you ever seen so much attention paid to the exterior of a potato? I'm actually a little miffed I've never thought of this before.

Next, you have the pièce de résistance, the whipped feta. If you love feta cheese, then you simply must make this whipped feta and then proceed to put it on everything you can think of.  It is that good! Feta cheese, cream cheese, olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Whip that up real good.  It's tangy, it's creamy, it's salty and it provides a wonderful creamy contrast to the baked potato. This topping is a delightful change from the traditional baked potato. It is simply incredible!

I realize that there is a major heatwave sweeping the nation right now, and it's not really baked potato season, but you simply MUST MAKE this baked potato recipe! The whipped feta is such a lovely combination with the potato. I really loved the contrast of the hot potato with the cold creamy whipped feta. The potato itself is seasoned so well and it certainly doesn't need any other seasoning. It's perfect just the way it is. It's so good I instantly wanted another one and had to hold myself back from indulging any further. I really can't rave about this recipe enough. You really should give it a try!

P.S. I also feel I have to acknowledge that this version is way healthier than your standard loaded baked potato which is full of butter, cheese, bacon, and sour cream. You simply can't go wrong with this recipe, unless you don't like feta, at which point you and I probably can't be friends!

P.P.S. I was going to make Ina's Flag Cake for the upcoming 4th of July holiday, but then I saw the episode of her show where she made this baked potato recipe and the rest was history.

Crusty Baked Potatoes with Whipped Feta
Adapted from Food Network
Recipe from Ina Garten
Serves 4

For The Crust:
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
grated zest of 1 large lemon
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
4 large (8-10 ounce Idaho baking potatoes)
good olive oil
chopped fresh chives

For the Whipped Feta:
6 ounces Greek feta, crumbled
2 ounces cream cheese, at room temp
1/3 cup good olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
salt and pepper, to taste

*Notes: See below for instructions on how to make the whipped feta.

Preheat the oven to 400F.  Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil.

Place the rosemary, thyme, lemon zest, and sea salt in the bowl of a mini food processor and pulse 10 to 12 times (or chop finely with a knife). Spread the mixture in a shallow bowl or plate.

Scrub the potatoes, dry them well, and pierce them all over with the tines of a fork. Place the potatoes on the prepared sheet pan and rub them all over with olive oil. Roll each potato in the salt and herb mixture and put them back on the sheet pan. Bake for 60-75 minutes (depending on size), until tender. Slit the top of each potato, squeeze the ends together to open the potato, and top with a generous scoop of whipped feta. Sprinkle with chives or other herbs and serve hot with extra whipped feta on the side.

 Whipped Feta: Place the feta and cream cheese in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel bald and pulse until the cheeses are mixed (I used a mixer). Add the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste and process until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Giada's Limoncello Granita

In the summertime, I don't like rich, candy-laden, ice cream sundaes with lots of heavy syrup. Something so heavy is not even remotely tempting on a sweltering hot summer day. Instead, I like light, delicate, fruity ice creams that are light and refreshing.

Giada's Limoncello Granita is the perfect refreshing summertime dessert!

This isn't your typical icy granita. This granita has some creaminess from the addition of Mascarpone cheese and it is an absolutely lovely addition. The final product is mildly lemony with a whipped texture and a creamy consistency. It's like eating fluffy lemony clouds! Seriously, so good!

I would highly recommend this recipe, but I will give you a warning. The alcohol in the Limoncello and the addition of Mascarpone cheese is just not going to allow the granita to freeze all the way through. This is ok! Expect it to be a softer creamier texture and melt easily. Melting shouldn't be an issue because you will gobble this up in no time! It is delicious!

Limoncello Granita
Adapted from Food Network
by Giada De Laurentiis
Serves 4

1-1/2 cups lemon simple syrup (recipe below)
1 cup (8 ounces) mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup limoncello liqueur
pinch of sea salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 lemon, zested and juiced

To make the lemon simple syrup: In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, water, lemon zest, and lemon juice over medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the syrup to cool about 20 minutes.

Place the simple syrup, mascarpone cheese, limoncello, and salt in a food processor. Process until the mixture is smooth.  Pour the mixture into an 8x8 glass baking dish. Freeze for at least 4 hours or until the mixture is firm. (Note: I read the reviews on this noticed that many said the granita didn't freeze well.  I had trouble with mine freezing as well. I think an 8x8 baking dish is too deep and therefore takes longer for the ingredients to freeze. I think a more shallow pan would help this mixture freeze faster and hold a freeze better - worth a try anyway).

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Tessa Kiros' Fizzy Orange Drink

J is for June at I Heart Cooking Clubs this week. We are making recipes with ingredients that start with J.  This week I decided J is for Juice! Orange juice to be exact!

I don't drink soda pop or coffee. I only drink tea on occasion. Most of the time I drink water and it gets a little boring. I start to crave something fruity and fizzy, especially when it's hot outside. quenches my thirst.

I love lemonade, but I wanted to try something a little different so when I found Tessa's recipe for Fizzy Orange I had to try it. Tessa says this Fizzy Orange Drink is like a fizzy orangeade and I tend to agree. It is so refreshing and delicious! I love the fizzy bubbles from the sparkling water.

When you buy your oranges chose the ones that are heaviest. This means they are full of juice. Tessa calls for the juice of 4 oranges. I'd suggest buying a few extra oranges because I found I needed 5 oranges to get the required amount of juice. Plus, an extra orange would be nice for garnishing.

A quick simple syrup, the juice of a few oranges and some bubbly sparkling water and you'll have a delicious and refreshing drink that is a delightful summer sipper!

Fizzy Orange
Adapted from Apples For Jam
by Tessa Kiros
Serves 4

4 tablespoons sugar
one long strip orange rind, pith removed
4 tablespoons water
Juice of 4 oranges (about 1-1/3 cups)*
2 cups ice cold sparkling water

*Note: I needed about 5 oranges to yield 1-1/3 cups orange juice

Put the sugar, orange rind, and 4 tablespoons of water into a small pan.  Bring to a boil, stirring so that the sugar dissolves completely, then boil for a few minutes so that the orange rind flavors the syrup. Add the orange juice (I like to leave some fleshy bits that might get through, but no seeds) and let that bubble for about 5 minutes, or until it looks slightly denser. Allow to cool slightly then pour into a pitcher and refrigerate until chilled. When you're ready to serve, pour in the sparkling water, and mix well. Serve chilled over ice.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Chrissy Tiegan's Croissant Bread Pudding Ham Cups

Chrissy Tiegan published her first cookbook and I ignored it. I chalked it up to another celebrity cookbook that I didn't need. Then she published a second cookbook and I rolled my eyes and continued to ignore it. Both cookbooks were bestsellers and people raved about them and yet I continued to ignore them. I couldn't believe that people were giving these books the time of day. After all, how can a model know good food and write good cookbooks?

Then I kept seeing her recipes pop up on Instagram and each one looked more delicious than the next. I started to change my mind. On one of my trips to Target I picked up her cookbooks and quickly saw why so many people loved them! They were full of beautifully photographed food and the most delicious and completely different recipes. I bought both of them and quickly found myself bookmarking so many recipes.

I gotta tell you...these Cravings cookbooks from Chrissy Tiegan are hands down my favorite cookbooks right now! So far I've made her Croissant Bread Pudding Ham Cups, Crispy Bacon and Sweet Pickle Patty Melts, Parmesan Skillet Eggs, and her Skillet Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Blondies and each of the recipes I've tried have been insanely delicious! So, this summer I'll be sharing lots of Chrissy Tiegan recipes and I cannot wait.

To start, I have these Croissant Bread Pudding Ham Cups and they could not be easier! If you're looking for a quick brunch dish or a special breakfast, look no further. All you need is a handful of ingredients. This recipe comes together in no time.

A few day-old croissants, some eggs, half and half, sugar, and a pinch of salt go into thin slices of ham that are made into cups. A quick soak of the bread pudding mixture and you can pop this right into the oven.  A delicious breakfast or brunch in a cute little ham package!

I really like the sweet bread pudding version, but I'm also imagining a savory version using a few tablespoons of Dijon mustard instead of sugar and vanilla.  I think both versions would be equally delicious!

Stay tuned for next week because I'm sharing my new favorite recipe, Chrissy's Parmesan Skillet Eggs. They are mind-blowingly delicious!  

Croissant Bread Pudding Ham Cups
Adapted from Cravings Hungry For More
by Chrissy Tiegan
Serves 3-6

6 thin slices deli ham, patted dry
3 large eggs
3/4 cup half and half
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-2 croissants (3 cups chopped croissants)
Demerara or Turbinado sugar for decorating tops

Preheat the oven to 400F.  Coat 6 cups of a standard muffin tin with cooking spray.

Tuck one thin slice of ham into each cup, trying to make as much of a cup shape as possible with the edges sticking out on top. You're going to feel ridiculous doing this. It's ok. Life is ridiculous.

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs and half and half, then add the granulated sugar, vanilla, and a dash of salt. 

Tear the croissant(s) into 2-inch pieces (about 3 cups, so use more croissants to get to that amount if you need to). Throw the pieces into the egg mixture, toss to coat, and let sit 15 minutes.

Fill the ham cups with the croissant mixture and sprinkle each one with Demerara sugar.  Bake until the tops are golden and crusty, about 15 minutes (mine needed about 18 minutes).  Let them cool slightly, then unmold them by slipping a knife under the cups and gently transferring them to a plate. Serve with fruit, if desired.

Chrissy Tiegan's Cravings Hungry For More