Appetizers and Snacks · Recipes · Side Dish · Vegetarian

magical mushrooms

I made these mushrooms for a birthday celebration for Stephanie.  The recipe comes courtesy of Mario Batali’s The Babbo Cookbook.  Sunshine is usually not a big fan of shitakes, but he really likes these.

Cool Roasted Shitakes with Barbecued Onions and Basil Oil

Serves 4
 
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 10 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary, leaves finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 pound shitake mushrooms, stems removed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon anchovy paste
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 large red onions, sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch slices

Basil Oil

Makes 2 cups

  • 1 cup packed basil leaves
  • 2 cups extra-virgin olive oil, chilled 2 hours
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
To prepare the mushrooms:
Preheat oven to 350º F.
In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup of the olive oil, sage, rosemary and chopped garlic, whisk to blend.  Place the mushrooms in a small roasting pan or casserole dish and pour the oil mixture over.  Season with salt and pepper and roast, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
Remove the mushrooms from the pan and set aside in a medium mixing bowl.
Add the anchovy paste, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to the pan.  Gently whisk in 3 tablespoons of olive oil and pour over the mushrooms.
Preheat the grill.
Brush the onion slices with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, season with salt and pepper and grill on the hottest part of the grill until tender and grill-marked, about 4 minutes each side.  Remove onions from grill and place them on a serving platter.  Remove mushrooms from the marinade and place on top of the onions.  Drizzle plate with basil oil and serve.
To make the basil oil:
Place all of the ingredients in a blender and puree until nearly smooth and uniformly green.  Strain through a fine sieve.

The spread…

A little wine, and Stephanie’s shoes.

Appetizers and Snacks · Recipes · Soup · Vegetarian

twisted gazpacho

This is easy, refreshing, and delicious.  It’s another Michael Chiarello recipe, modified a bit.  It got twisted with a splash of tequila.  Just a splash.  I swear.

Twisted Gazpacho

  • 2 cans (11.5 ounces each) tomato juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup fennel, fine dice
  • 1 cup cucumber(1 medium), seeded and peeled, fine dice
  • 1/2 cup red onion(1 small), fine dice
  • 1/2 cup celery(2 stalks), fine dice
  • 1 pint sweet 100 or other small cherry tomatoes, stemmed and quartered
  • 2 tablespoons italian parsley, fine chop
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, fine chop
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 2-3 tablespoons jalapeño pepper, seeded, fine mince
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • splash of tequila (that’s the twisted part)
In a bowl, combine tomato juice, lemon juice, fennel, cucumber, red onion, celery, tomatoes, parsley, basil and sherry vinegar.
Add olive oil to a small sauté pan along with minced garlic over medium heat, stirring until lightly browned.  Add minced jalapeño and cook, stirring for 15 seconds.  Add wine and cook until reduced by half.  Stir mixture into the gazpacho and chill for 1-2 hours.
Spoon mixture into small martini glasses and serve at once.  Add a splash of tequila, if you dare.

Nice fireworks.

Another one.

Another good one.

Appetizers and Snacks · Bacon · Chocolate · Cocktails · Dessert · Main Dish · Recipes · Salad

Pig Fest

Pig Fest 2011.  That’s right.  Sorry my vegetarian friends, this is not for you.  We had pig cocktails, pig appetizers, pig wrapped in pig and pig for dessert.  Laura even made bacon vodka.  It was quite a glorious feast.  We kind of felt like, well, pigs at the end of the night.

This is our Candied Bacon martini.  The candied bacon made a great stir stick.  We forgot the apple slice called for in the recipe, but it was still good.     We found this recipe in the Los Angeles Times.

Candied Bacon Martini

Candied Bacon:

  • 8 slices smoked bacon
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar

Candied Bacon Martinis:

  • 6 ounces premium vodka
  • 4 ounces Applejack brandy
  • 2 ounces amaretto liqueur
  • 2 ounces maple syrup
  • 4 thin slices tart apple
  • 2 slices candied bacon, halved crosswise

Preheat the oven to 400°.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.  Dredge the bacon on both sides in the brown sugar and arrange slices so they do not touch on the baking sheet.  Bake until bacon is richly caramelized, 15 to 25 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool and allow excess fat to drain.  In a cocktail shaker, combine vodka, brandy, amaretto and maple syrup with ice.  Shake until combined and chilled.  Strain into 4 martini glasses and garnish with apple slice and candied bacon.

Laura made her bacon jam.  It was awesome with a little crumbled blue cheese as a bruschetta.

Donna made the most amazing prosciutto wrapped salmon and scallops.   Oh man were they good.  We couldn’t take a picture fast enough to get the whole platter.  Sunshine said they were the best scallops ever.  The salmon was really good too!  Here is her recipe:

Salmon Kebabs with Parsley Vinaigrette

  • 5 tablespoons good-quality extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons good-quality red wine vinegar, such as Kimberley
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds skinned King or Coho salmon fillet (1″ thick), cut into 1 1/2″ chunks (or sea scallops!)
  • 4 ounces thinly sliced pancetta (Donna used prosciutto)
  • 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
Combine 1/4 cup olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a bowl.  Set aside.
Heat grill to high (450° to 550°).
In a large bowl, combine remaining oil with 1/4 teaspoon pepper.  Toss with salmon or scallops to coat.
Set out 3 rows of salmon chunks on a work surface.  Unroll pancetta slices into strips and wrap strips once or twice around salmon, weaving long pieces between chunks.  Skewer each row of salmon with chunks slightly separated.
Oil grate using tongs and a wad of oiled paper towels.  Set kebabs on grate and grill, covered, turning once until fish is barely cooked through, about 4 minutes.
Remove salmon and scallops from skewers and arrange on a platter.  Stir parsley into the dressing, spoon on top of the salmon and scallops.  Serve warm with crusty bread for dunking.

Pig wrapped pig.  We served it with a refreshing arugula salad.  This recipe is courtesy of Giada De Laurentis.  I’ve adjusted the cooking time according to the new chart on the National Pork Board website.

Honey-Mustard Pork Roast with Bacon

Roast

  • 1/4 cup dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 3 1/2 pound center cut boneless pork loin roast
  • 12 slices (1 pound) bacon

Salad

  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 5 cups (5 ounces)  baby arugula
Place an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350°.
In a small bowl, mix the mustards, honey, garlic and rosemary until smooth.  Spread the mustard mixture evenly over the pork.
Starting at one end, wrap a piece of bacon around the pork roast.  Wrap slice of bacon around the roast, making sure to slightly overlap the first piece.  Continue with the remaining bacon until the roast is fully wrapped.  Using 6 to 8 pieces of kitchen twine, tied at regular intervals around the roast, secure the bacon in place.
Place the pork in a 9″ x 13″ baking pan and roast for 1 hour.  Cover the pan loosely with foil and roast for another 5 to 10 minutes, until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the pork registers 145°.  Remove from the oven.  Cover and allow to rest for 20 minutes.  Remove twine and slice into 1/4″ thick slices.
For the salad:  While the pork is resting, in a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice and olive oil, season with salt and pepper.
Arrange the arugula on a large platter and drizzle with dressing.  Lay pork slices on top and serve.

Chocolate covered bacon.  Okay, this was not for me.  But Laura liked it.  She’s kind of like Mikey.  Remember him?  The Life cereal kid?  Give it to Laura, she’ll eat anything.

Now this was good.  Really good.  INSANELY good.  It’s the maple-pecan sundaes with candied bacon.  I made the vanilla ice cream with the last of the Tahitian vanilla.

What’s so funny, Stephanie?

Donna!  You look like you’re up to something.

Manly men tending the fire and talking about manly things, like fire.

Classic Laura.

Paige barks a lot.  The only way to get her to shut up is to pick her up.  So we bought this contraption.  God bless Steven for wearing it.  Of course it didn’t work, so we gave her some Benadryl.  Of course that didn’t work, so we’ve resorted to on-line training with the Dog Whisperer.  And I have some shocking news.  Mom, you might want to sit down for this one.  Paige is an ANIMAL.  And then she’s a DOG.  She is not our child in a furry coat.

What’s next?  I think maybe a retirement party.  Not what you think though.  I’ve got a Mexican dress that I’ve had for way too long.  It’s been my go to dress for every party.  So, one last hurrah for my mexi-party dress, and then I’ll retire it.  Anyone who has something they’ve worn to death and need to retire is welcome.  Send Sunshine your pictures dressed in your oldies but not so goodies and he’ll make us a slide show for the party:)

Appetizers and Snacks · Recipes · Salad · Vegetarian

watermarc beets

We had a tasty dinner at Watermarc recently.  Mom and Dad took us for Joey and Sunshine’s birthdays.  I shared a beet platter with Dad that tasted as good as it looked.  I’ve been getting beets galore in our CSA box, so I thought I would give them a try.  Here is my version…

Watermarc Beets

  • Baby beets
  • French feta
  • Micro greens
  • Olive oil
  • Lemon juice
  • Dijon mustard
  • Finely minced shallot
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400º.  Season beets with olive oil, salt and pepper and wrap them in foil.  Cook until they are tender when pierced with a fork.  Timing will depend on size.  It can take anywhere from 40 minutes to just over an hour.   Let cool and peel.

To make the dressing: mix two parts olive oil with one part lemon juice.  Mix in a little bit of mustard, salt and pepper.  Add shallots and mix to combine.

Toss the beets in the dressing, set on the platter.  Toss the micro greens with the dressing and create mounds on the platter.  Cube the feta and place on the platter.  Season to taste.

Can’t wait for the tomatoes!

Figs are coming too..

Paige can be a sweatheart.

She got a new kennel.  She’s getting used to it.  And then one day I’m hoping we will be able to sleep through the night!!!!

It looks like prison, but then again you can consider it to be her private suite.

Appetizers and Snacks · Healthy · Recipes · Vegetarian

delicate little kale chips

These delicate little kale chips are crunchy, a little salty, and I feel oh so righteous eating them.  The whole bunch is worth 3 points in Weight Watchers world.  Not only is it low in calories, it’s a great source of vitamins A, B6 and C, along with fiber, iron and calcium.

So easy to make…  just remove the center rib from the kale. I used Dinosaur Kale, but any kale will work.   Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a mixing bowl, and toss the kale to coat.  Season with salt or try spicing it up with a mixture of ancho chile powder, cumin and salt.

Spread kale on a parchment lined baking sheet in a single layer.  Bake at 300° for 20 minutes, or until crisp.

Our feet are ready for our vacation next week, thanks to Teresa at R Spa.  She is a miracle worker.  She gave us the most amazing pedicure ever!  We love Teresa, she is such a doll!  And yes, those are Sunshine’s toes:)

Appetizers and Snacks · Bacon · Recipes

Jalapeno Poppers

Super Bowl requires cheesy finger food.  Sunshine usually makes his Velveeta cheese dip and serves it with Fritos.  This year we wanted to “health it up”.  So we made onion dip with non-fat Greek yogurt instead of sour cream.  Stephanie REALLY liked that.  And now for the cheesy part, BBQ jalapeño poppers.   I love The Pioneer Woman Cooks by Lee Drummond and this recipe is from the book.  I made a few adjustments, like using low fat cream cheese.  They were still a hit.

BBQ Jalapeño Poppers

  • 18 fresh jalapeños
  • 8 ounce block of cream cheese (I used low fat)
  • 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 green onion (or minced shallot if you forgot the green onion like I did)
  • 18 slices thin bacon, cut in halves (well…mine was thick, just required additional cooking time)
  • Bottled barbecue sauce
  • Toothpicks (I got the wrong kind and had to cut them in half, oh brother)
  • Rubber gloves for working with the jalapeños (Oops, didn’t do that….ouch, I rubbed my eyes.  I won’t use gloves next time either, what a dork. )

Preheat oven to 275°.  Cut the jalapeños in half lengthwise.  Scrape out seeds and membrane.  Combine the cream cheese, green onions and cheddar cheese in bowl.  Stuff each jalapeño half with cream cheese mixture.  Wrap each half with bacon.  Brush with BBQ sauce, then secure with a toothpick.  Pop them in the oven on an unlined baking sheet for 1 hour, or more if you’re using thick bacon.  I liked them best at room temperature.

Ooooohhh…Lee mentioned something about placing two of these on top of your burger.  I like that idea!  Maybe I’ll try it on top of a chicken slider!

Really?  No one wants the pizza stone for the grill?  It’s still up for grabs if you want it.  Thom??

Appetizers and Snacks · Healthy · Recipes

grilled vegetable bruschetta

Melissa’a birthday, time for another party!  I wanted to make her something special for dinner that would be delicious, but not rediculously fattening at the same time.  I don’t know why I think a special dinner should be loaded with fat.  I feel like I need to sneak the good-for-you stuff in.  Fat does not equal love.

I decided on the vegetable bruschetta to start.  I did have a nice spread of  Cowgirl Creamery cheeses too, thanks Chik.  For dinner we had filet mignon topped with a sliver of an insanely delicious blue cheese, and served with a reduced demi-glace (I added a touch of flour to thicken).  I served that with a cauliflower and potato puree.  The vegetables for the bruschetta doubled as a side dish for our dinner.  You’ll have to check out my next post for dessert.

Grilled Vegetable Bruschetta

  • Onion
  • Zucchini
  • Asparagus
  • Fennel Bulb
  • Carrots
  • Red, Yellow and Orange Bell Peppers
  • Olive Oil
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Basil, chiffonade
  • Baguette

Grill any combination of vegetables seasoned with salt, and pepper, drizzle with olive oil.  Let the grilled vegetables cool, chop to fine dice.  Toss with a little more olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.  Add the basil.  Sometimes I add a little crumbled goat cheese or a snow flurry of parmesan cheese on top.  Warm up the baguette and slice.

Here she is!  Happy birthday Melissa!

Sooo…..I’ve got a pizza stone for the grill that I haven’t used in a while.  It’s just waiting for a new home.  Who wants it?