Friday, August 30, 2013

Zucchini on the Grill




A quick and easy compliment to a marinated pork tenderloin.  And do I mean quick!  I was browsing through my iPad for something new to do with the Zucchini and Summer squash I had picked up from the local farm market and saw this recipe.  Our daughter was at her restaurant job and I knew our little man wouldn't eat it, so I did cut the amounts down a bit.  Perfect side dish that grills along side the main course.

Grilled Summer Squash and Zucchini
6 medium yellow squash and/or green zucchini (3 pounds)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons coarse-grain mustard
1/4 teaspoon sugar
Yield: Makes 6 servings. Active Time: 20 min. Total Time: 40 min
Prepare grill for indirect-heat cooking over medium-hot charcoal (high heat for gas). Trim squash and/or zucchini and halve lengthwise, then toss with salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons oil in a large bowl. 
Oil grill rack, then grill vegetables directly over hottest part of coals, covered only if using a gas grill, turning over once, until grill marks appear, about 6 minutes total. Move vegetables to area of grill with no coals underneath and grill, covered, until tender, about 4 minutes more. Transfer to a platter.
While vegetables are grilling, whisk together lemon juice, mustard, sugar, and remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a small bowl. Pour dressing evenly over vegetables before serving.




Sunday, August 25, 2013

It's a tie! The Great Salsa Show Down!

So yesterday morning I walked out to the garden to gather the mixin's for some fresh, home made salsa.  It is very simple to make and mixes up real quick.  I picked 3 tomatoes, 1 bell pepper, a couple of jalepeno peppers and some fresh parsley.  I went back to the kitchen and a grabbed my Better Homes and Garden cookbook.  Opened to the last page of the section titled sauces and relishes and began the preparation.  Fifteen minutes later I have a bowl of salsa chilling in the refrigerator for later.

Our afternoon was going to be spent watching our son play in the first round of his basketball tournament.  I was hoping for a win so that we would have been done about 3:30, we could head home for a little wine on the patio and then a great steak dinner.  Well, it did not turn out that way. They lost their first game and were set to play again at 5:30.  It was a double elimination tournament and there was a delay.  Game started after 6 p.m. and when they finished, with a win (back on Sunday) it was after 7:15.  

We headed home for the evening and while our son went off to play with the kids in the back yard, we settled in for a cup of coffee before heading up to the neighbors fire pit.  Next thing we know our foodie friends pop in, with a bottle of wine and his home made salsa!  

So this morning we out the two to the test!  My salsa is on the right.

Hubby says it's a draw, daughter says I win and our sone, the food critic says foodie's wins!

Salsa

1 cup finely chopped tomato
1/2 cup tomato sauce
2 jalapeƱos finely chopped (leave seeds in) 
1/4 cup chopped scallions
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
2 tablespoons of snipped cilantro or parsley
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 clove of garlic, pressed
Several dashes of bottled hot pepper sauce

In a mixing bowl combine tomatoes, sauce, jalapeƱo, scallion, green pepper, cilantro or parsley, lemon juice, garlic,  hot pepper sauce and 1/8 teaspoon of pepper. Place about half of mixture in a blender container or food processor.  Process until smooth, add back to tomato mixture.  Cover and chill for at least 4 hours, stirring occasionally. Use for tortilla dip, top chicken pieces fresh from grill or use over vegetables, eggs, etc.







Saturday, August 24, 2013

From Our Garden to the Dinner Table

We are back in the kitchen after a week or more of dining out. The garden is in full production,tomatoes are ripening and beginning to fall off the vines.  It was time to harvest some grape tomatoes and scour through the recipe binder to find something that highlights the tomatoes and that the kids would like.

It was also time to find something with a few fewer calories too.  After eating out for over a week I needed to cut back.  Cooking Light recipe to the rescue!  This one came from March of 2009 and is prepared each year when our tomatoes are in abundance.

We grilled up some chicken and sun dried tomato sausage and the side dish to this is recipe was fresh green beans from our garden as well.  When we first planted the seeds we only saw two plants come up.  So a couple of weeks later I planted more seeds and sure enough we saw about 8 more plants growing.  These are bush beans, which are low to the ground and with a lot of foliage to pick through.  The end result is delicious!  There is nothing more satisfying when you cook in the summer to use real home grown ingredients.




Tomato Ricotta Spaghetti

  • pints cherry tomatoes, halved (about 4 cups) 
  • 5 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 8 ounces uncooked spaghetti
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) ricotta salata cheese, crumbled

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Place tomatoes on a foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon oil; sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon salt. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until tomatoes collapse.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain pasta in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1/3 cup cooking liquid. Return pasta and reserved liquid to pan; stir in tomatoes, remaining 4 teaspoons oil, remaining 3/8 teaspoon salt, basil, pepper, and cheese. Toss well. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Dining week!

For the past few summers our dear daughter has gone to Disney World with her BFF and family for anywhere from 4 or 5 days to  a week this year.  It is a great opportunity for her and gives her Dad and Ia "taste" of what it will be like when she goes off to college.   Traveling with Mom, Dad and her little brother, no matter if it is NYC, the Virgin Islands or Maui can not compare to a week at Disney with your best friend. She loves her "Disney" family.



While she is gone hubby, the little man and I go out to eat each night. This is what we call "dining week".  Hubby and I started off dining week at P F Changs while little man had basketball  practice.  Ginger chicken, Mongolian Beef and Crispy Fried Beans  were on the bill for that night.  I love Changs, but lately I can't seem to find the dish that works for me.  However, who could pass up "fried green beans".   Our next night out was to Cantina Laredo for a little Mexican.  It was flavorful and something completely different than our normal dinners out.  My son and I had been there last year, but this was hubby's first time.  Chicken Enchilada's, shrimp enchilada's and chorizo tacos were the fare that evening.  The big hit for us were the tortilla chips and salsa!  We probably ate too much of them before our dinners came.

The following evening hubby was out of town so the little man and I treated my sister to Pasta's.  A great local spot that serves up wonderful homemade pasta and sauce.  You start off your meal with some great stretch bread and hot tomato oil.  We followed that up with two orders of basil pesto with portobello mushrooms and and order of Fettuccine Alfredo.  It was delicious.  Our little man had wanted to go there for his birthday dinner but a number of things were against us - did not take reservations, Mother's Day weekend and college graduations.  When we arrived that evening there was a 2 hour wait!  

Our next night out was also at the request of our son.  He loves another restaurant downtown.   He is a big fan of their calamari and loved their burgers in the past, however there was no big burger that night.  It was time for a little pizza.  We made reservations using open table, but when we got down there we would not of had any issue getting a spot.  The choice was given - dine inside or out on the patio out back.


You guessed it.  The only thing lacking that evening was a little music during dinner, but we had a solution. We used hubby's iPhone and a  Pandora.  A little Michael Buble made it a perfect evening.  I choose another gourmet pizza on the menu and hubby had the scallops appetizer super sized as an entree with roasted Brussel Sprouts.

Dining week was winding down when we were invited to a party and our little man wanted to spend the night at Grandma's for a little baseball, Yahtzee and pizza.  Our foodie friends cooked up a storm of great appetizers.  The hit of the evening was Deep Fried Italian Olives.  Giada strikes again!

And, so we closed out dining week at our favorite Italian spot nearby where we feel like part of the family!  It is time now to get back in the kitchen because our little princess is on  her way home from the Kingdom!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Why Dinergirl?

This past weekend we had my Mother over for dinner. She is 85 years old, lives alone so her cooking is not extensive these days.  But there was a time when I was growing up that she cooked for a lot of people.

My parents owned a couple of small town diners from 1958 to about 1976.  The last few years where off and on, generally when they had take the diner back from whomever they sold it to.  They mainly did breakfast and lunch, but I heard that when they started out they served dinner too.  Up until about 1973 we lived above the diner, but when we moved to a new location about 40 miles away from the small town I grew up in and we lived a couple miles away the second diner.  

The town was small so you knew everyone who came in and as the youngest of five you could say I was a bit spoiled.  I was the only child born during the time they had the diners, and the last.  According to my Mom, everyone knew when I was born because my father had to stop off at the local garage to tell them they we headed to the hospital. And since we lived upstairs over the diner, I am sure that even as an infant I made an appearance downstairs on a daily basis.  


The Jukebox was one of my favorite things at the restaurant!


So mom came over for dinner and hubby and I mixed up some delicious "treats" for her.  Our main course was grilled turkey tenderloins marinated in a lemon garlic marinade.  We picked up local sweet corn as a special treat for her and made a couple of great side dishes and a delectable dessert -Fresh  Lemon Mousse  (previously posted at Easter time). She made sure she took leftovers of the dessert home with her! 

Blue Cheese Coleslaw - Entirely my Hubby's dish (from Ina Garten)!  






Ingredients

1/2 small head green cabbage
1/2 small head red cabbage
4 large carrots, scrubbed or peeled
(or 1 bag of Regular Coleslaw mix and two small bags of red cabbage mix, has carrots already in the mix) 
2 cups (16 ounces) good mayonnaise
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon celery salt
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) crumbled Roquefort blue cheese
1 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
If you don't use the premixed coleslaw bags, please follow the following for cutting your own. 
Cut the cabbages in half and then in quarters and cut out the cores. Set up the food processor with the slicing blade (according to manufacturer's instructions) and place the pieces of cabbage, one at a time, lying horizontally in the feed tube. (If they don't fit, cut them to fit lying down.) Place the feed tube pusher on top and turn on the processor. Don't push on the feed tube pusher or the slices will turn out too thick! Continue with the remaining red and green cabbage quarters. Transfer into a large bowl, discarding any very large pieces.Change the slicing blade for the large shredding blade and cut the carrots so they also lie down in the feed tube. Since the carrots are hard, replace the feed tube pusher and press firmly with the food processor on. Transfer to bowl with the cabbages
Before you pour the dressing on the salad, save a handful of the grated vegetables to decorate for serving. . In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, both mustards, vinegar, celery salt, kosher salt, and pepper. Pour enough mayonnaise dressing over the grated vegetables and toss to moisten well. Add crumbled blue cheese and parsley and toss together. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours to allow the flavors to meld. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Easy Zucchini Bake

Ingredients

2 medium tomatoes, peeled and cut into wedges
2 small zucchini, sliced
2 small yellow squash, sliced
1/2 tsp thyme
1 tsp basil
1 tsp granulated garlic powder
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
1/3 cup dry bread crumbs
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese


Preheat oven to 350. Combine the tomatoes, zucchini, squash, seasonings, and cheddar cheese. Place in a 1.5 quart baking dish. Top with the Parmesan or Romano cheese and bread crumbs. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. If you want, you can then sprinkle the mozzarella cheese over the top and let stand 5 minutes, so the cheese melts before serving.


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Time for a casserole



This was from last Sunday and I forgot to post it....

Sunday afternoon in early August and it feels like fall.  Hubby has had a hankering for a casserole lately so he headed off to our small local store that carries cooked chicken cut up into pieces for casseroles and such. Sure beats cooking up some chicken when you need it.  This casserole is an oldie but a goody because it is so easy to make and so tasty.  It fits in very well with the #sundaysupper trend on twitter.

Nichols is a great little grocery store that caters to the shoppers with custom cut meats and excellent service. Their meat department is phenomenal.  Not main chain stores these days have actual butchers on staff.  On any given Saturday, when you walk by the meat counter you will find over five different people or more behind the counter.  They may be restocking the shelves out side the case or cutting up some custom orders.  And the quality of the meats and the prices can not be beat.  When I am looking for something special, like a great filet or prime rib, I do not hesitate to shop there.  

Now I posted this one quite a while ago, but it was worth the re-post as we head into the late summer early fall weather.

Aunt Liz's Chicken Casserole



Ingredients

2 cups chopped cooked chicken breast  
2 cups uncooked spaghetti noodles, broken into 2-inch pieces,about 7 ounces (make sure they are about 2 inches in length to make it easier to stir)
1 cup (1/4-inch-thick) slices celery
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
(10.75-ounce) cans condensed 30% reduced-sodium 98% fat-free cream of mushroom soup, undiluted 
Cooking spray
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese, divided

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Combine broth, salt, pepper, and soup in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add soup mixture to chicken mixture; toss. Divide mixture evenly between 2 (8-inch) square or (2-quart) baking dishes coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle 1/2 cup cheese over each casserole. Cover with foil coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 35 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 10 minutes.



This is from Cooking Light so less guilt when enjoying!


Now doesn't a nice casserole sound delightful?

Look how the garden has grown!

Remember back in May I posted pictures of the family working on the garden along the side of our house?  Well 2 1/2 months later we have veggies!  Tomatoes, peppers, beans, herbs, and more.  Today we will pick some tomatoes for a vegetable casserole later and use the herbs in  a variety of dishes.
Look how the tomato plants have grown.  We continually go out and stake them up.We have small beefsteak and cherry tomatoes, banana peppers, bell peppers, and jalapeno's.





Beans, parley, basil, rosemary, sage, oregano, thyme and cilantro.

And it's not all veggies...

Our backyard is a beautiful oasis, a peaceful retreat, finished off by a gas fire-pit.  Your welcome to come on over and enjoy!







Sunday, August 4, 2013

Glazed Blueberry Lemon Poppyseed Bundt Cake


  • Back from vacation and right to a full and busy week of work and activities.  I really needed a vacation again to rest up from our vacation, but that never happens.  I look forward to Saturday afternoon when all of the chores around the house are done and we can sit back and enjoy the beauty of our back yard, my weekend oasis, our stay-cation spot of choice!  



This past Saturday morning, we all had "chores" to do and things we wanted to accomplish early in the day so that we could enjoy the afternoon.  Hubby and our  daughter ran to the store and the farm market for ingredients for dinner and the cake he wanted to make.  Our little man had to mow the lawn and clean up before he could hang out with his friends.  My task of choice was to get the patio cleaned and set up, work in the garden deadheading and cleaning out, plus wash sheets so that they could hang out on the line.  Once hubby came back from the store he started to make this wonderful bundt cake, with a little help from me.   A perfect choice as we are in blueberry season right now. This is a classic from Cooking Light, so a little less guilt enjoying this after dinner treat.  







  • Glazed Blueberry Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake
  • Ingredients

  • Cooking spray 
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dry breadcrumbs
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened 
  • large eggs 
  • 3 cups  all-purpose flour 
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 3/4 cup nonfat buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (about 3 lemons) 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • Glaze:
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon nonfat buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice 

Preparation



  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. To prepare cake, coat a 12-cup Bundt pan with cooking spray; dust with breadcrumbs.
  2. Combine granulated sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients (through salt); stir with a whisk. Add blueberries to flour mixture; toss to coat. Combine 3/4 cup buttermilk, 1/3 cup juice, and extracts. Add flour mixture and buttermilk mixture alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  3.  Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool pan on a wire rack 10 minutes. Remove cake from pan; cool on rack.
  4. To prepare glaze, place powdered sugar in a small bowl; add 1 tablespoon buttermilk and 1 tablespoon juice, stirring with a whisk until combined. Pour glaze over warm cake; cool completely.