July 25, 2011

Cherry Almond Ice Cream

I really, really like the ice cream I made today.  Perhaps, only because I'm a huge fan of almond extract.  It gives this recipe an amazing flavor!  The recipe is simple and the result is delicious!

2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups fresh cherries, pits removed and chopped into small pieces

I followed a recipe on allrecipes.com pretty closely, taking note of some online reviews which said that the almond extract needed to be reduced and the cherries needed to be chopped smaller (both of which are reflected in my version of the recipe).

Please note that it will look like very soupy ice cream after 15 minutes in an ice cream maker, but I promise that it freezes up beautifully!

July 18, 2011

Spinach Basil Pesto

Some of our plants have perished in the July heat, but luckily not my basil plants.  In fact, they're actually flourishing.  I cut enough to make a batch of pesto tonight but then decided to stretch out the pesto by adding CSA spinach

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: N/A
Ingredients (1 cup / 8 oz)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1 1/2 oz Parmesan cheese, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and quartered
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups spinach leaves, packed (1 1/2 oz)
  • 3/4 cup fresh basil leaves, packed (3/4 oz)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Pulse the walnuts, Parmesan cheese, garlic, and salt in a food processor.
  • Then add the spinach and basil leaves, and pulse just until combined.
  • Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula, if necessary.

Recipe adapted from: Cuisinart
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Peanut Butter Cookie Cups

I do not like traditional peanut butter cookies, but I really love peanut butter cookie cups.  It all started last November when I ran out of Reese's peanut butter cups the first time I made this recipe.  I don't like chocolate, so I sampled the chocolate-less version and loved them.

Without the Reese's cup, you're left with a chewy, almost dough-like, peanut butter cup cookie but only if you use a mini muffin pan.  This recipe does not work nearly as well, if you bake them on a cookie sheet.

I took the photo below tonight, and I swear you can tell how insanely hot it is right now just from the photo.  The cookies almost look steamy!  Or maybe it's just me...perhaps the heat is affecting my head :)

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1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk

Another option is to use a tart shaper to create space for candy in the cups.  This past spring I made the version you see below with Reese's Pieces eggs.  I like this version because the chocolate is easily removable :) 

July 17, 2011

Soba Noodle Stir-Fry

Before making dinner this evening, I scoured my recipe archives for something that would utilize the broccoli and kohlrabi leaves in my vegetable drawer.  We have been making stir-fry a lot lately, however this Brown Eyed Baker recipe looked like a great variation from what I've been making.

8 ounces buckwheat soba noodles
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 cup kohlrabi leaves, torn
1 cup broccoli florets
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
4 scallions, sliced thinly
Extra-virgin olive oil
Crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
3 tablespoons almond butter
3 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce

Unfortunately, the recipe needs some tweaking.  The soba noodles were way overcooked, the amount of fresh ginger in the recipe was overwhelming, and the recipe was veggie light, and noodle heavy.  Initially we discussed the changes we'd like to make the next time we tried this recipe, however we ended up deciding that we'd just prefer to make Mama Pea's Soba Salad with Peanut Sauce instead.

July 16, 2011

Creamy Basil & Zucchini Pasta

When I saw Joanne's blog post last night, I immediately knew what I wanted to make for lunch today.  There are two things I have an excess of right now, and that is basil and summer squash, so her recipe was ideal.

This is one of those dishes that Chris could not stop complimenting, and I totally agreed.  It's a perfect flavor combination! 

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1/2 lb penne pasta
1 lb zucchini, sliced into 1-inch thin strips
2 tsp butter
1/2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1/4 cup whipping cream
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup basil, chopped finely
1/4 cup parmesan cheese

Chris also grilled polish kielbasa for lunch, and I have to admit, despite my meat-hating ways, the kielbasa was really good with the pasta!  Whipping cream is typically associated with heavy meals, but there's not much in this recipe, so it really is a great summer dish.

Triple Berry Cocktails

When I saw a triple berry mojitos blog post today and read Jessica's suggestion (below) I thought it was an ideal way to spend a Friday evening...minus the fresh mint part.

"I think it would be an excellent idea if you stirred up these little gems and sipped them tonight… on your porch… in the dwindling sunlight. Smell the fresh mint. Sit too close to someone you like. Eat some pizza."

Neither Chris nor I are fans of mint mojitos, so he consulted The Cocktail Bible to find a suitable alternative for our Friday night cocktails-on-the-patio plan.  We considered making mint-less mojitos, or a daiquiris, which are just mojitos minus the mint and club soda.  Then decided we'd better make both to compare :)

I had my cocktail in the Spy's Demise glass I earned at the Safe House.  I couldn't tell you what is in a Spy's Demise cocktail because they state on the drink menu that the ingredients are classified information.  However, I can tell you that if you finish your drink, you get to keep the glass :)

The photos above show the drinks before I mixed them with a chop stick.  We used to own these proper cocktail stirrers...not sure what happened to them.  As you can see, I did not take the Jessica's advice in straining the seeds, and was left wishing I had, because I didn't realize there would also be pieces of blueberry skins.

Oh well, despite the seeds and skins, it truly was a fantastic drink!  We both preferred the mint-less mojito, following Jessica's recipe pretty closely.

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2 ounces of simple syrup
2 ounces of rum
2 ounces of club soda
3 ounces of mixed berry juice
the juice of one lime

We had quite a bit of mixed berry juice remaining because I wasn't sure how many servings the recipe made and doubled it to be safe.  I ended up straining the remaining juice, so we'd have smoother juice for our next round of cocktails, which might still be tonight :)

July 11, 2011

Baked Zucchini Cakes

I received four gorgeous summer squash in my CSA box this week, so I made zucchini cakes tonight.  After trying out several ways to make these, I'm very happy with this version.

Chris and I had these topped with a bit of ranch dressing tonight, but I think they'd also be delicious in a hamburger bun topped with lettuce, tomato and pickle like the zucchini cake minis on the Ruby Tuesday menu.

Baked Zucchini Cakes

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients (12 cakes)
    Zucchini Cakes
    • 3 cups grated zucchini (from 2 medium zucchini)
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
    • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
    • 1 egg
    • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
    • 1/4 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning (or substitute below)
    • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
    • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
    • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

    Old Bay Substitute
    • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
    • 1/8 teaspoon onion powder
    • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • 1/8 teaspoon dried oregano
    • 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
    • Heat oven to 400 degrees and spray two baking sheets with cooking spray.
    • Grate zucchini on the large holes of a box grater.  Squeeze grated zucchini in a clean kitchen towel. Zucchini should be fairly dry, and you should have about 2 cups after removing it from the towel.
    • Place zucchini and remaining ingredients in a bowl; mix well.  Form into 12 patties (approximate 2-inch diameter), and place on prepared baking sheets.
    • Bake for 10 minutes. Then turn each cake over and bake for another 8 minutes.  Remove from oven and serve immediately. We like ours with ranch dressing.
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    July 10, 2011

    Naan Pizza with Onion Confit, Chevre and Walnuts

    My favorite item made in the cooking class I attended last month was the pizza.  I had never heard of confit prior to that evening, and I'm happy the instructor introduced it to us because it is simple and delicious.

    According to Wikipedia, confit is "is a generic term for various kinds of food that have been immersed in a substance for both flavor and preservation."  My first attempt at confit looks different than the instructor's version, but it tasted exactly the same, so I'm happy with it.

    Printer-Friendly Recipe

    2 tablespoons butter
    2 medium (1 lb) onions, chopped
    3/4 cup red wine (I used Merlot)
    2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
    1/2 tsp dried thyme
    freshly ground pepper
    walnut pieces
    Chevre goat cheese
    naan bread

    The confit takes awhile to make only due to a long simmer time.  I was nervous about leaving it unattended during my first attempt, so I pulled a dining chair up to the kitchen counter and read a Martha Stewart magazine while monitoring the confit...and sipping some of the Trader Joe's wine used in the recipe :)

    July 01, 2011

    Soba Salad with Peanut Sauce

    I made Mama Pea's noodle salad with peanut mmmm sauce tonight for dinner, and we both really liked it!

    The only thing I didn't like was the length of the noodles, so I plan to break them next time before cooking them.
    Soba Noodles Bowl with Peanut Sauce
    Prep Time: 10 minutes
    Cook Time: 10 minutes
    Ingredients (4 servings)

    Peanut Sauce
    • 1/2 cup light coconut milk
    • 1/2 cup fire-roasted diced tomatoes
    • 1/4 cup peanut butter
    • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
    • 2 tablespoons lime juice
    • 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
    • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
    • 1 tablespoon agave or mayple syrup
    • 6oz soba noodles (broken into pieces)
    • 6 cups of water
    • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
    • 2 cups bok choy, chopped
    • 2 cups frozen edamame
    • In a food processor or blender, combine all peanut sauce ingredients, blending until smooth.
    • In a large saucepan, bring water for the noodles to a boil. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add vegetables and saute until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.
    • When the water comes to a boil, add noodles and stir. Lower to medium heat and simmer for 3 minutes. Drain noodles in a colander and rinse thoroughly with cold water.
    • Add drained noodles and sauce to the vegetables, and toss to coat. Serve hot immediately or refrigerate until serving and eat cold.
    Recipe Source: Peas and Thank You
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    How To Store Fresh Strawberries

    June in Wisconsin is a lovely time of year. I could eat local year-round, if every month were like this. Last weekend, Chris and I went to Barthel Fruit Farm in Mequon to pick strawberries and sugar snap peas. After our experience, I have a new found appreciation for the effort it takes to pick fruits and vegetables every Thursday for CSA shares.

    After picking 5 pounds of strawberries, I wasn't sure as to the best way to store them. So I consulted Google, and found this Chowhound discussion, which suggests using glass jars in the fridge for up to a week.

    I'm happy to report that the glass jar method worked really well!  All of the strawberries looked and tasted great one week later.

    I left a few strawberries out, which I hulled and washed. By the way, I love the strawberry huller tool from Pampered Chef (now sold as a combo tool).

    The strawberry fields were very crowded; the pea fields not so much. I did hear a couple urine jokes in relation to the pea bags sign, so although there were fewer pea people, they were having a good time :)