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Monthly Archives: January 2011

Tequila Lime Shrimp

This is a recipe is some of my favorite flavors of the spring and summer.  Over the weekend, I had had more than enough of the cold and gray of winter and I wanted some light flavors.  I also have used this marinade on chicken and it tastes great!

I used about 1 pound of 31-40 raw shrimp

Marinade:

About 1/2 extra virgin olive oil

About 1/4 cup tequila

The juice of 2 limes

2 TBS minced red onion

Handful of fresh cilantro, chopped

1/2 TBS minced garlic

Dash of salt and pepper

Mix all marinade ingredients together in bowl or ziploc bag (I use a bag, so that clean up is simple!) for at least 30 minutes and up to over night.  I put the shrimp on skewers and grilled them for about 5 minutes.  The shrimp are cooked when they turn a nice pink.  You could also saute the shrimp for a few minutes, flipping a few times.

Guacamole

I love avocado.  I love it by itself.  I love it in salads.  I love it on sandwiches.  I love avocado.  I cringe when I am looking for a nice ripe avocado and notice a guacamole “mix” to make your own.  I don’t understand how fresh from scratch guacamole is any more difficult than using a processed packet mix.  Gross.  Don’t do it, it’s the simplest thing in the world!  So, here’s how to do it.

To make sure you get a nice ripe one, give them a light squeeze.  You don’t want to put a lot of pressure and bruise it, but it should have a little give to it.  If it feels soft, it’s past it’s prime and it’s not for you.  If it’s really firm, just give it a couple of days and it’ll be perfect.  If they are all a little under ripe, but you need it ripe by the next day, put it in a paper bag, it helps speed up the ripening process.  When you cut into it, it should be a vivid greenish yellow.  Delish!  Oh and a simple way to get the pit out is to just cut it in half long ways (when you cut into it you will feel the pit, so just rotate the whole way around it).  Once you separate the 2 halves, hit the pit with your knife with a little force then just rotate the knife.  If the avocado is nice and ripe, the pit will release from the fruit easily and you can lift it right out!  Easy peasy 🙂

2 ripe avocados

fresh lime juice (pbly 1/2 – 1 whole lemon) I used lemon juice this time, because I had it

1 tomato (I used plum) diced

about 1 TBS red onion diced very small (to taste)

about 1/4 cup fresh cilantro chopped

salt and pepper to taste

Dice the tomato and onion and chop the cilantro.  In a bowl, mash avocado with some lime juice and salt (the salt helps it break down) with a fork.  Once it is chunky, add the tomato, onion and cilantro.  This (as pretty much every recipe) is a guideline, adjust to your taste with salt and pepper and lime juice.

Serve with tortilla chips or with tacos on scrambled eggs.  Endless possibilities!  Any way you serve it though, I promise you will get an empty bowl back!

Pizza Party!

Last week my friend Mandy and I had a pizza party.  I had picked up fresh dough at Trader Joe’s, 1 wheat and 1 herbed.  The dough turned out to be very good.  We decided to do margarita on the herbed crust and did 1/2 cilantro and shrimp and 1/2 blue cheese with caramelized onions.  The blue cheese and caramelized onion was my favorite!  For this pizza parties, real margaritas were a must!  It took Mandy quite some time to get to my place because of the roads.

So, this is not so much a recipe but a note of encouragement to take flavors you love to the crust!  What is your favorite combination for pizza toppins?

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake (Happy Birthday, Val!)

Wednesday was my coworker Val’s birthday, so I wanted to find a recipe for a special cake for her.  I saw one for a chocolate peanut butter cake, and I knew that I had to try it!  It was a simple recipe and turned out pretty well!

Found on: http://christyskitchencreations.blogspot.com/2008/10/reeces-cup-chocolate-peanut-butter-cake.html

For the cake:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt.
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled (optional) (I didn’t use this)

For the Icing:

1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup heavy cream

For the cake, center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 9×2″ round cake pans, dust the insides with flour, tap out the excess and line the bottoms with rounds of parchment paper. Place the pans on a baking sheet.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add the sugar and beat for about 2 minutes, until thoroughly blended into the butter. Add the eggs and yolks one at a time, beating for one minute after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk; add the dry ingredients in 3 additions and the buttermilk in 2 (beginning and ending with the dry ingredients). Mix each addition only until it is blended into the batter. Scrape down the bowl and add the melted chocolate, if using, folding it in with a spatula. Divide the batter between the prepared cake pans.

Bake for 26-30 minutes or until the cakes feel springy to the touch and start to pull away from the sides of the pans. Transfer to wire racks to cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unmold them and peel off the paper liners. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up.

Place the confectioners’ sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed until creamy, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as you work. Add the cream and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth.

To assemble the cake, place one cake layer on a cardboard circle covered in foil. Spread peanut butter frosting on top of the cake layer. (If desired, sprinkle with chopped Reese’s cups). Place the second cake layer on top of the frosting. Frost the top and outside of the cake with remaining peanut butter frosting. Decorate with halved and chopped Reese’s cups as desired.

 

Dacquoise

Oh, you fancy, huh!?!  I just realized that I hadn’t posted the grand finale for dinner a couple of weeks ago!  Nicky had mentioned doing lattes, so I wanted to find something coffee flavored.  I also wanted to keep dessert on the lighter side, so I found this great recipe through http://www.cookinglight.com.  The actual dessert style is French, and is baked meringue which is usually stuffed with butter cream frosting.  Cooking Light put a spin on the classic by substituting the butter cream with frozen yogurt. Very delicious!!

The recipe also included a mocha sauce, but I left that out (I did include the recipe for it at the bottom though).

Meringue:
5  large egg whites
1/2  teaspoon  vanilla extract
Dash of salt
2/3  cup  sugar
Filling:
3  cups  vanilla low-fat frozen yogurt, slightly softened
About 1/4 cup black coffee

Preheat oven to 275°.

Cover 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Draw 2 (9 1/2-inch) circles on paper. Turn paper over; secure with masking tape.

Place egg whites, vanilla, and salt in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until foamy. Add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. Divide the egg white mixture evenly between the 2 drawn circles. Spread egg white mixture onto the circles using the back of spoon. Bake at 275° for 1 hour or until dry. Turn oven off; cool meringues in closed oven at least 1 hour. Remove meringues from oven; cool.

To prepare filling, beat yogurt and coffee  until smooth. Carefully remove the meringues from paper. Invert 1 meringue onto a serving plate. Spread filling evenly over meringue. Top with remaining meringue. Cover and freeze several hours or until firm.

Mocha sauce:
1  cup  strong brewed coffee
3/4  cup  Dutch process cocoa
1/2  cup  light-colored corn syrup
1  teaspoon  cornstarch
1/3  cup  semisweet chocolate chips
1/4  teaspoon  vanilla extract

To prepare mocha sauce, combine brewed coffee, cocoa, corn syrup, and cornstarch in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in chocolate chips and vanilla. Remove dacquoise from freezer, and let stand for 5 minutes. Cut dacquoise into wedges with a serrated knife. Drizzle the mocha sauce over each serving.

Crescent Cream Cheese Appetizers

This is seriously one of the simplest appetizers to put together EVER (I know I have said that a few times already in just a handful of posts, but I’m serious!)  I love simple, delicious options that you can put together quickly when you have people over.  I love entertaining and cooking, but I hate to be stuck in the kitchen and miss any part of a party.  This appetizers solves that completely.  I’m not sure where this recipe come from for sure, but my sister found it years ago and it has been a staple for get togethers ever since!

1 block cream cheese

1 canister crescent dough

dill (I usually just use dried, but I’m sure fresh would be amazing also)

Preheat the over to 350.  Unroll crescent dough and press seems together.  You will actually only need about half of the dough.  Sprinkle the entire block of cream cheese with dill.  Please cream cheese block in center of the dough and wrap placing on the baking sheet seem side down.  You can definitely jazz this up by adding a cut out made with cookie cutters (or a creative person and a knife) and the left over dough.  Cook for about 12-15 minutes until the dough is golden brown.

Serve with crackers and/ or veggies and/ or apple slices.  I promise people will be fighting to scrap up the last bits of this!

This is also an incredible recipe to adapt; you could definitely use your favorite herb in place of dill.  I’m sure it would even be delicious if you would garden vegetable cream cheese!

Grilled Eggplant and Tomatoes

I got this recipe from  “Fine Cooking Annual, Volume 2″ and made a couple of loss adjustments.  It is beyond simple and absolutely mouth watering.  I have made this dish twice, the first time I did top with ribbons of fresh basil.  The second time I didn’t have fresh basil, but I drizzled a reduction of balsamic vinegar.  Both times I did sprinkle with lots of shaved parmesan cheese.  The really great thing about this recipe is that it’s good served hot or at room temperature, so it makes it a great dish to make while entertaining!

I slightly changed it up and used regular eggplant and just sliced in about 1/2″ sections, where as the recipe called to use several baby eggplants just cut in half and grilled.  If you are using baby eggplants, score the skin with a fork so that the oil and garlic soaks in and can flavor the dish.

3 cloves garlic, peeled and made into a paste

1/2 extra virgin olive oil

2 tsps kosher salt

freshly grated black pepper

6-8 baby eggplants (or 1 large eggplant)

1 1/4 pounds ripe but firm plum tomatoes

handful of basil leaves

1/2 cup shaved Parmigiana-Reggiano

Mash the garlic into a paste by sprinkling kosher salt over minced garlic and then running the side of your knife back and forth over the garlic.  It will break the garlic down into a paste.  Put that into a container or bowl and cover with the olive oil; let the flavors marry.  Slice the tomatoes in half length wise.  If they are really seedy, scoop the seeds out.  Slice the eggplant in about 1/2” slices (or in half if you are using baby eggplant).  Toss the vegetables in the oil to coat.  Grill the vegetables until desired doneness.  I cooked them until they were soft, but not falling apart or soggy, about 5 minutes.  I used a George Foreman to grill, so what you are using may definitely  effect timing.  When they are done, alternate tomatoes and eggplant on a platter.  Cut the basil in thin ribbons and sprinkle over the dish.  Sprinkle the cheese over the vegetables.

If you are interested in doing the balsamic reduction, just place about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar in a sauce pan over medium heat.  Stir it occasionally.  It will thicken as it reduces.  Once it’s the desired consistency you want, drizzle of the veggies.