Saturday, July 27, 2013

A rainy day at the beach sure beats....

A rainy day at the beach sure beats.....!  You fill in the blank.  For me it could be a day of laundry, gardening, work.  It is not going to rain all day, and I did get in some sun this morning.  

So we wait out the rain with a little shopping and sight seeing.  Just finished a light lunch at the pool bar and we plan on going back, but in the mean time..... We are still on vacation!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Where's Waldo, oops no, where's Joanne?

Wondering what kitchen delights we have been preparing this week?  Well the answer is really nothing. Ok, maybe scrambled eggs and toast from our room here in Orlando, but nothing else.  That's right, you guessed it.  We are on vacation!  A much needed one too.

Sitting this morning on our balcony in Orlando looking out over the "lake" towards the rising sun over one of the 9 pools at our resort.  Kids are still asleep.  It has been hot, sunny with an occasional brief rain shower.   Those showers come in the late afternoon, which is just about the time to come in from the sun and get ready for dinner.  

Dining this week has been very good.  We found PF Changs on Saturday, which was good and predictable.  Sunday we went to Wolfgang Puck's dining room in Downtown Disney.  Our dinner was wonderful.  Butternut squash soup and spicy beef goulash, which was out of this world. Need to find that recipe. Monday was 11 hours at the Magic Kingdom which was nothing spectacular as far as eating goes, just a lot of fun. And last night we went to Brio Tuscan Grill.  A great italian meal all around the table.  

So now it is Wednesday morning and we are sitting on our balcony deciding what time to hit the outlets, what time to come back to the pool.  You know those really important decisions.....

Ok, not the best shot, but you get the picture!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Quick...before they are gone- Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream

Ice Cream, Were gonna eat Ice Cream!  One of my favorite Bill Cosby skits.  Here is a summer favorite for you to try, but be quick because fresh local strawberry's are limited.

This was a great investment that I made several years back.  The Cuisinart ice cream and sorbet maker.  I bought it to show the kids how easy homemade ice cream is to make.  I also wanted some peppermint ice cream which is not easy to find in the summertime.   I did blog last year a blueberry ice cream recipe when we all spent the afternoon picking blueberry s.  So last Sunday I broke out the machine to make a Strawberry ice cream recipe from Williams and Sonoma.

  Williams and Sonama Strawberry Ice Cream

2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups strawberries, stemmed and coarsely chopped

In a bowl, combine the cream and milk. Add the sugar and salt and whisk until the sugar begins to dissolve. Stir in the vanilla. Set aside, stirring occasionally, to allow the flavors to blend, about 15 minutes. Cover and refrigerate the mixture until chilled, at least 3 hours or up to 8 hours.

In another bowl, using a fork or potato masher, mash half of the chopped strawberries; they should break down into small chunks. Add the remaining coarsely chopped strawberries to the bowl. Cover and refrigerate the strawberries for about 1 hour.

Pour the milk mixture into an ice-cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. When nearly frozen and the consistency of thick whipped cream, add the strawberries. Churn or stir until just blended. Transfer the ice cream to a freezer-safe container. Cover and freeze until firm, at least 3 hours or up to 3 days, before serving.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Spinach and Strawberry salad


Strawberry season is almost over, but if you can still find some check out this recipe.  It became an instant hit with the family after our dinner with our foodie friends.  Very simple to make and quite tasty.  The dressing is very easy and prepping everything to throw together right before we ate was so great.  

With our big interest in cooking we have learned that prepping everything ahead of time helps as cooking time draws near.  We use our little Pyrex bowls, and a set of stacking bowls I picked up as a stocking stuffer for hubby last year.  We have multiple cutting boards to multitask the prepping and the best part is bring the rest of the family into help.  

This salad was served with swordfish steaks grilled on our gas grill then topped with prepared pesto, a roasted potato dish and to tell the truth - a dessert that flopped....  You won't see that recipe here.

So pick up some strawberry and enjoy this salad before they are all gone.

Spinach and Strawberry Salad

  • 3 cups baby spinach
  • 1 cup packed small mixed fresh herb leaves such as basil, mint, and parsley
  • 2 Tbs. packed tarragon leaves
  • 1 cup quartered strawberries
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 3 oz. fresh goat cheese
In a large salad bowl, combine the spinach, mixed herbs, and tarragon leaves. Gently toss with the strawberries and a few pinches of salt and pepper.

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Toss the salad with enough vinaigrette to coat and crumble the goat cheese on top.

Friday, July 5, 2013

"Family" for Dinner

Last weekend we had our foodie friends and the new college graduate, their son Paul, over for dinner.  They had just returned from moving Paul into his first apartment.  It is a pleasure to celebrate the milestones in his life with him.  We don't consider them as friends, they are really family!
We have fond memories of watching Paul grow up.  We remember babysitting him and his sister so his parents could go out when they were little, our family trip to Aruba together years ago and numerous dinners we have shared.  We are very proud of Paul and wish him great success as he starts his first job and his first apartment.
Paul and our little man about 8 years ago

The college graduate now!
So dinner started off with a new dip recipe.  I subscribe to Fine Cooking Magazine and found this recipe last Saturday while scouring the magazine for something new to make.  (other dinner recipes to follow in future post...)

Grilled Onion and Gorgonzola Dip

1 medium yellow onion, trimmed, peeled and sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick rounds (4 slices)
Olive oil, for brushing
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 oz. crumbled Gorgonzola
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. minced garlic
2 to 3 dashes hot sauce
Snipped fresh chives 
Prepare a medium (350°F to 375°F) gas or charcoal grill fire. Brush the onion slices  with oil and season with salt and pepper.
Grill the onion slices until grill marks form on one side, about 7 to 8 minutes. Flip the slices and continue to grill until tender, about 7 to 8 minutes more. Stack the onions on a large piece of foil, wrap the onions up, and let them sit for 10 minutes to soften further.
Pulse the onions in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Add the yogurt, mayonnaise, Gorgonzola, lemon juice, garlic, hot sauce, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper; pulse until combined but still chunky.
Transfer to a serving bowl, cover, and chill for at least 1 hour. Garnish with chives before serving.
Make Ahead Tips
The dip can be made and refrigerated up to 1 week ahead. Return to cool room temperature to serve.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Ravioli Salad for summer

This is an old favorite of mine.  I stumbled upon it years ago when a local grocery store would include recipes with their Perdue chicken breasts.  As I just pulled the recipe out of my box I realized just how old this is.  Instead of putting a web address down to search they have a address to send away for more 30 minute menus with Perdie Fit'n Easy.  So I guess this was from before Al Gore invented the Internet.  Ha ha!  The salad is paired with a Roman Grilled Chicken that uses a bottled dressing as a marinade base.  I don't make that recipe very often, but the salad side dish is a summer favorite.

This is also a favorite recipe of our little guy.  Ok he is not so little anymore.  He is taller than his sister, which she is not too happy about, and now taller than me. So, I try to wear heels around him so we can see eye to eye. He has grown so much in the past year and losing the baby face to become a wonderful young man.  His father has taught him well.  It is such a pleasant surprise when he opens and holds the car door for me.  He must be still in a major growth spurt because he is also eating a lot these days.  He  loves anything pasta, so this is a great salad for him.

Ravioli Salad (or Tortellini Salad)

Cook 1 package (7ounces) cheese ravioli or tortellini following package directions. Use the fresh stuff in the dairy case.   Drain and toss with 1/2 cup reduced calorie olive oil vinaigrette salad dressing with balsamic vinegar, 1large red bell pepper, diced, 1/2 cup chopped celery, 1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions, 2 tablespoons grated Romano cheese and salt and ground pepper to taste.  Serve salad at room temperature.  Garnish with fresh basil leaves.

Roasted potatoes- another great recipe!

Cooking has taken the back seat this past week.  It has been extremely hot and humid and we have been very busy as well.  The kids have been either attending or working basketball camps, I have been traveling and my hubby has been keeping everything running  smoothly here at home.  

I just returned from a 3 day business trip to have crockpot sloppy joes waiting for our dinner.  It is back to work for one more day then VACATION time!  So tomorrow with be either leftovers or grabby something quick from a local restaurant. Then time to pack.  Maybe my next post can be from various restaurants while we are traveling?  Hmmm, sounds like a plan.

So for now, here  is a new recipe for roasted potatoes that I made for dinner a couple of weeks ago for our foodie friends.  It is from a recent FineCooking magazine.  This is a great magazine that has  some wonderful recipes and great hints for working in the kitchen.  I started getting this a few years ago as a birthday gift and since then cancelled other cooking magazines  that we received but kept this one. 

Herb and Onion Roasted Potatoes

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil; more for the baking sheet
  • 2 lb. small (about 1-1/2-inch) potatoes, halved
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 Tbs. coarsely chopped mixed hardy fresh herbs, such as rosemary, savory, and thyme
  • 1 large onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped mixed tender fresh herbs, such as chives, parsley, and tarragon
  • Flaky sea salt for serving (optional)

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 450°F. Oil a large rimmed baking sheet.
In a medium bowl, toss the potatoes with the olive oil and 1 tsp. salt to coat.
Sprinkle the hardy herbs over the bottom of the baking sheet, spread the onion slices over the herbs, and top with the potatoes, cut side down. Scrape any olive oil remaining in the bowl over the potatoes.
Roast until the potatoes are tender and brown on the edges, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer the potatoes and onions to a bowl and toss with the tender herbs. Season to taste with sea salt, if using, or kosher salt and serve.