Main Dish · Recipes · Salad · Vegetarian

Meatless Monday

This chopped vegetable salad is delicious.  It’s from Wolfgang Puck’s book: Live, Love, Eat!, with a few adjustments.  I love the combination of the vegetables, the crunch of the carrots, celery and green beans, and the creaminess of the avocado makes me happy.

The Environmental Working Group has challenged us to go meatless one day everyweek.  We don’t have to be vegetarian to eat healthier, but we can make a lasting impact on our health and our planet by making even small changes in our diet.

Chino Chopped-Vegetable Salad

Dijon Mustard Vinaigrette

  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Salad

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup cut diced frozen artichoke hearts
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 cup diced green beans
  • 1 cup diced red onion
  • 1 cup diced radicchio
  • Fresh corn kernels, from 2 cobs
  • 1 diced celery
  • 1 cup small cherry or grape or pear tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 Hass avocado
  • grated parmesan cheese, to taste
  • 4 cups mixed baby greens
To prepare the vinagrette: In a small bowl , combine the mustard and vinegar.  Whisking continuously, slowly pour in the olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.
To prepare the salad:  In a small saute pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Add the diced artichoke hearts, season with salt and pepper.  Saute for 3 minutes.  Set aside.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Blanch the carrots and green beans for 2-3 minutes.  Transfer to an ice water bath to stop the cooking process, drain and set aside.
Combine artichokes, green beans, celery, carrots, radicchio and red onion.
Add the tomatoes and avocado.
Add the parmesan cheese.
Toss with some of the vinaigrette to coat.  Season to taste.  Toss the greens with the vinaigrette.
Divide the greens among 4 plates.  Mound the chopped vegetables on top and serve.
Who’s driving Sunshine’s car?
Pearl can’t watch.  Okay, maybe she can, but only out of one eye.
Recipes · Side Dish · Vegetarian

yummy asparagus

I love asparagus.  Throw in some French feta, some of your favorite olive oil and a nice crank of freshly ground pepper, and you’ve got something special.  I can not take credit for this concoction.  I found the recipe in Bobby Flay’s Grill It! cookbook.  I modified it ever so slightly.

Grilled Asparagus with Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, Feta Cheese and Black Pepper

  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and coarsely ground pepper, to taste
  • 6 ounces feta cheese (I like French feta), cut into small cubes
Heat grill to high.
Snap the woody ends off of the asparagus.  Place asparagus on a baking sheet, toss with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Grill asparagus perpendicular to the grates for 3 to 5 minutes on each side or until crisp tender.
Transfer the grilled asparagus to a large platter.  Add 3 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper and feta, and toss to combine.  Serve!
Pre-Photoshop days.  My crafty brother, Chris, taped a couple of pictures of Sunshine and me together.  I’m cracking myself up.  Must be the haircut, and maybe the sweater.
Check out the recipe index page on my blog.  I finally put it together.  Now I can even find some of my recipes.  I know, it’s about time.
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.

Cakes and Cupcakes · Dessert · Recipes

Suzie’s insanely delicious cake

Look what we got in the mail!  Suzie made this amazing cake and sent it to us!  It’s insanely delicious.

She warned me not to get carried away with garnishing it, but I just couldn’t help myself.  It really doesn’t need a thing.  Suzie’s cream cheese pound cake makes my mouth water just thinking about it.

She was kind enough to include the original recipe from Bon Appétit along with the cake.  The cake is put into a cold oven, and then slowly bakes at increasing temperatures.  She said you’ve got to follow the directions exactly, otherwise it won’t turn out.  Here is the recipe as originally written.

Cream Cheese Pound Cake

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 8-ounce block of cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 large eggs, room temperature
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups sifted all purpose flour
Butter and flour a 12-cup bundt pan.  Using electric mixer, beat butter and cream cheese in a large bowl until fluffy, about 4 minutes.  Add sugar and salt; beat 10 minutes, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl.  Add eggs 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition.  Beat in vanilla.  Beat in flour at low speed until batter is smooth (do not overbeat).  Transfer batter to pan.
Place pan in cold oven.  Set temperature to 200° F; bake 20 minutes.  Increase to 275° F; bake 10 minutes.  Increase to 300° F; bake until tester inserted nearest center comes out clean, about 1 hour longer.  Cool cake in pan on rack 15 minutes.  Turn cake out onto rack; cool completely.  Can be made 3 days ahead.  Wrap; store at room temperature.
Nice packaging!
Smells so good, even through the wrapping!  Buttery love.
Mom sent her favorite grand dog another pretty little dress.  Paige wore it for 3 days straight.  She really likes dressing up.
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.

Travel

Fifty and Fifteen

That’s me and my beautiful niece Isabel.  I am a ripe young age of fifty.  She is fabulous at fifteen.

We’ve decided to join 798 crazy souls to compete in the 20th annual Alcatraz Sharkfest Swim.  This is the swim the Anglin Brothers and Frank Lee Morris attempted in their successful escape from Alcatraz the night of June 12, 1962.  I’m happy to say we didn’t have to break out of prison like the brothers and Morris.

I did the Escape from Alcatraz swim last year.  It was a tough swim.  I got picked up by an escort and redirected because I was heading for the Golden Gate Bridge, which was not good.   If I missed the entrance to the Aquatic Park, I would not be able swim against the current to make it to the finish.

This year I thought it would be a lot more fun to swim it with Isabel.  She’s an awesome swimmer, so I knew she would have no problem finishing strong.  She was kind enough to “man up” to the challenge.  As for me, well, I just wanted to finish without getting picked up by one of the rescue boats.

Race day.  We’re ready!  We got up early, suited up and headed for Starbucks.  A little caffeine should make me go a little faster.  If not, at least I would be awake for the entire event.  Right?

Feeling strong…showing off a little.

Made it on the ferry…and so did Sunshine, and Suzie, and Mom and Dad.  That was very good news.

Let’s do this.  Our goal was to get off of the ferry in the middle of the pack.  We didn’t want to go first because we would just be treading water waiting for the rest of the athletes.  We definitely didn’t want to get off last for fear of missing the start.  That is exactly what happened to me last year.

Touchdown!  The water was surprisingly warm!  A toasty 62-ish.  Totally doable.  Not too cold, and not too hot with our full wetsuits.

And we’re off…to the start anyway.

There are a lot of crazy people, see?  We’re the one in the yellow swim caps.  Okay, everyone is in a yellow cap.

Isabel makes it to the finish!  She kicked some major butt!  A mere 43 minutes later!  And look how strong she looks!  Just another walk in the park for her.

Woohooo!!!!!!!!!  She’s pretty happy.  Who wouldn’t be?

I made it too…I was happy to see the emergency dude, but didn’t really need him.  Thank the dear Lord.

Woohooooo!!!!!!!!  No rescue boat needed.  Glory Hallelujah.

But wait, there’s more.  Check out the video that Sunshine made.

Brother Chris, you’ve gotta man up next year.

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:)