Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Slice of Southern Strawberry Cloud



I have a confession....

I have strawberries up the wazoo!!  I bought a ton of fresh California strawberries last week and I think they must have multiplied in the refrigerator, cause now it seems they are peaking out of every nook and cranny. 

What to do?

Make lemonade!  Strawberry lemonade...yum! and I did...but they didn't go away....and then I tried the Strawberry Banana smoothie...and they were still lurking in there...

So now I've made up a dish I'm calling Slice of Southern Strawberry Cloud.  I know, I should just freeze my extra berries...but I'm obsessed.  Obsessed I tell you! 

This season is producing some BIG JUICY strawberries!  I LOVE THEM!

So, don't mind me but you may see another post or so on this luscious berry while I try and use up the never-ending stash...I swear they are multiplying in there!!!

This is an easy semi-homemade dish.  All you need is three ingredients
  1. Strawberries    (how did you guess?)
  2. Ice cream  (pick a good flavor!  I couldn't help myself and chose to make this twice each with a different flavor of ice cream.)
  3. Angle food cakes  (you can make your own or buy one...doesn't matter.  I found these little 4" discs of angel food cake at my local store and snatched those babies up pronto!)
Here is the assembly.  I sliced the angel food cake disc in half horizontally.  Placed the bottom of the cake on a serving plate.

Then I topped it with a couple of scoops of Cherry Vanilla Bean Ice Cream.  You know...the kind with the whole chuncks of real cherries in there?  Two fruits are better than one, I always say!

Then I added some sliced strawberries to the top of the ice cream.  Make sure to spill some over the sides...it looks purty!

Place the top of the cake on there at an angle, and voila! A Slice of Southern Strawberry Cloud.
Look at this baby!



Here is another version using a wonderful Dutch Chocolate Ice Cream...and a little whipped cream on top!  I know...I like to take it that extra decadent step sometimes...I'm bad like that!



See how yummy!!!  Want some?  Try this you'll like it!  MGG does...and keeps asking for more please!






What's your favorite use of strawberries? Tell me, tell me!


Here's some other strawberry sensations you may enjoy...(just click on the link!)


Monday, May 23, 2011

Pecan Sandies



I wanted to share with you one of my mom's favorite cookies. 

One of them, mind you, cause she is a cookie monster!  She loves snacking on cookies...always has them in the house...but this one is a favorite.  Pecan Sandies!

She loves pecans.  Pecans, pecans, pecans.  Pecan pie, pecan bars, and pecan sandies!!  My uncle in Texas had a pecan tree and he would send us fresh pecans every year...heaven!  So mom knows pecans.  (In fact, she still sends me store bought pecans LOL!)

These cookies satisfy that certain craving she gets for something sweet.

So here's a tribute to one mom's favorite cookies.  Bake some and share them with your family and friends.  They will LOVE you!

These are simple to make...as there is only 6 ingredients.  Here we go.

In a large mixing bowl beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy.



Add your vanilla and salt.  Mix well.  Use good vanilla, it will make a difference in the taste of your cookie!




With the mixer going, slowly add the flour.  Mix until well combined.


  

Fold in chopped pecans.  Ruff chop is good.



Dough will appear crumbly.  Pull it together with your hands.



Mike dough balls of 1 1/2" round and place them on a cookies sheet about 2" apart.



Flatten the balls slightly.



Bake about 13 min.  Watch them closely!  They will burn...trust me!



Super duper easy....super duper tasty!!! YUMM!



Pecan Sandies

Ingredients
1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 c golden brown sugar
1 3/4 t vanilla extract
1/4 t salt
1 c all purpose flour
1 c pecans, chopped


Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add vanilla and salt. Mix well.  With mixer on low, gradually add flour, beating just until combined. Fold in pecans.
Roll dough into 1 1/2-inch balls, and place on two baking sheets, 2 inches apart. Lightly flatten each ball.
Bake until cookies are golden brown, 13 - 15 minutes. Transfer to wire racks, and cool.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Strawberry Banana Smoothie




It's berry season!!!

Here in California we are BIG on berries.  This weekend is the...

2011 California Strawberry Festival CSF  Berry logo

Saturday and Sunday, May 21st & 22nd, 2011

10:00am to 6:30pm
Strawberry Meadows of College Park
3250 South Rose Avenue in Oxnard


The California Strawberry Festival celebrates the region’s rich agricultural heritage while raising funds for numerous Southland charities. Since its inception, over $3 million dollars has been collected to benefit others. Twenty-four companies harvest and cool more than 207,646 tons of sweet berries in the area from 11,538 acres with annual revenues topping $300 million to ship them worldwide from the region, known as California’s Strawberry Coast.

Ranked among the top Festivals in the nation. Since 1984, Festival guests have enjoyed award-winning attractions, interactive exhibits, gooey contests, the hottest names in entertainment, the largest collection of Fine Arts & Crafts with 200+ booths, and an unbelievable assortment of delicious strawberry foods and beverages. The Strawberry Promenade offers cooking demonstrations and presentations, Strawberryland For Kids boasts free rides, puppet shows, and more.

So if you are in the area try to go to this great festival!



In honor of strawberries I've brought you this great smoothie recipe.  MGG and I love smoothies...don't you?  He says that I make the best smoothies!  He can't seem to get the right balance or consistency down.  I must say I do make a MEAN smoothie!

I find that I make them all summer long while we have an abundance of fruit.....think I'm becoming a smoothie junkie! 

Who needs to go buy a smoothie when you can make healthy, creamy, real fruit smoothies at home!!!  Go make one now...

Strawberry Banana Smoothie

Serves 2

1 individual container of vanilla lite yogurt
1 small to medium banana
1/3 c 2% milk
6 medium hulled strawberries
1 cup ice cubes

Place ingredients in blender, putting the liquid ingredients if first.  Blend on high until smooth and all ice and fruit is crushed.  Serve.

 

 

YUM!!

 

 

Great Tips:

Freezing berries for year-round use…

The best method for freezing is first cleaning, hulling, and then pulsing the berries in a blender. By pulsing the berries, you have a more chunky texture. Add a tablespoon of sugar to each blender portion to prevent the pale pink color of the thawed berries. Pour this mixture into sandwich-sized plastic bags and freeze, placing flat in freezer. As needed, open the bags, break off a piece of the frozen product, reseal the bag and replace in freezer. The frozen section can be thawed for use on waffles, meringues, ice cream or in smoothies.


Sprinkle sugar over the berries once thawed to prevent pale pink coloration and maintain ruby color.
Strawberry fields forever...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Fried Rice



Don't you just love going to a Chinese Restaurant and ordering Fried Rice?
Doesn't everyone?

Here's a simple recipe that will allow you to forget the takeout and make this classic dish at home.  What gives it that wow factor?  The combination of flavors that you add by using this unique sauce.  It turned out awesome!

We served it with my tasty Hawaiian Chicken Kabobs.  You can link to that recipe by clicking on the title.  You can certainly serve this with a multitude of stir fry dishes as well.

So go make some Fried Rice you'll love it!





Fried Rice
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 T chicken broth
1 T rice wine vinegar
½ T low sodium soy sauce
¼ t salt
½ t sesame oil
1/8 t black pepper
1 T canola oil
2 eggs
1 c of vegetable mix, asparagus, corn, and carrots (fresh or frozen)

Combine chicken broth, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, sale, sesame oil, and pepper in a small bowl.  Set aside.

In a wok or large skillet, add oil and heat over medium high heat.  Add egg and stir fry until scrambled.  Add vegetables and stir fry until cooked crisp tender.  About 4-5 min.    Add rice and stir fry until heated about 2-3 minutes.

Stir liquid and add to the rice, tossing to coat evenly.  Serve.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Hawaiian Chicken Kabobs



MGG and I love to grill whenever we can.  We had planned on a nice grill the other day and then it decided to rain.

Not going to stop us though!  We brought the grill inside!  Grilling on the stove top with a great grill pan is a great way to go!  It's quick and easy, doesn't taste quite the same..but you get the drift!

MGG and I love to cook together.  He's never really cooked a wide variety of food but he's a quick learner and a great sous chef!

Here's what we came up with.  We love kabobs, all types of meat and flavors.  It allows for great creativity.  When I would visit my sister when she lived in Maui, we would always go to Azeka's Market and pick up some chicken to make kabobs.

So I wanted to recreate the prominent Hawaiian and Asian flavors that bring back such great memories, in this dish.  So we went with pineapple for the tropical feel and an Asian marinade for the chicken, along with vegetables that complimented the theme.  

This recipe is super easy and yummy as heck! 

Let's create this:

Cut your chicken breasts, or thighs if you prefer, into chunks.

In a plastic bag place your minced garlic, soy sauce, lemon juice, teriyaki sauce, olive oil, worcestershire sauce, and salt & pepper.  Mix well.  This is your marinade.  Add your chicken to the bag and marinate in the frig for 1 hour.

While this is happening you should soak your wooden skewers in water, if using wooden ones.  This keeps them from burning. 

Assemble your kabobs.  Start and end with a cherry tomato.  Next add a piece of chicken followed by a some pineapple.  Add a mushroom, another piece of pineapple and then some more chicken.  The order does not matter, you can create a pretty kabob to suit your taste.




Cook the kabobs over medium high heat.  We used a double grill pan on the stove top and that worked out perfectly. 




Make sure to cook them until the chicken is completely done.  About 4 minutes per side, or more if you chicken is really thick.




That's it...really simple but oh so tasty!



Hawaiian Chicken Kabobs
Ingredients:

3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
Pinch pepper
Pinch salt
1 pound chicken breasts, cut in to chunks
Fresh Mushrooms
Cherry tomatoes
Pineapple chunks


Directions:

Rub your indoor or outdoor grill rack with oil.  If using an indoor grill preheat grill pan to medium-high heat, and for the outdoor grill bring the temperature up to medium high.

In a large re-sealable plastic bag, combine the garlic, soy sauce, lemon juice, teriyaki sauce, olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, and salt. Add your chicken and marinate for about 1 hour. 

Pull chicken out and discard the marinade.   Thread the chicken, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, and pineapple onto the skewers. Note:  if using wooden skewers make sure to soak them for about 30 min so they will not burn while grilling. 

Cook over medium high heat until the chicken is done, turning once, about 4 minutes on each side. Serve with rice.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Cool Things

I wanted to share something pretty cool with you...

Doesn't everyone love Williams-Sonoma??  I know I do.
They have great products, wonderful cooking demonstrations and technique classes...

and their recipes are AWESOME!

So Williams-Sonoma was kind enough to give me a little widget to share with you.  It's a Williams-Sonoma recipe of the day!

If you look to the right of this post right under my "About Me" section you will see it!  Each day they add a new recipe to the roll and you can scroll through them, backwards and forward drooling as you go.

Once you find one you like you just click on it and it will take you to that recipe so you can copy or print it out.

I've been eyeing the Cinnamon Sugar Pillows on there...might have to try that one!

It's that simple!

And it's all for you!!!

Isn't that cool???

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Salisbury Steak in a Mushroom Gravy



Who doesn't love comfort food?

Sometimes comfort food is just what the doctor ordered...this dish is fits the bill. 

This is a recipe from way back.  My mom used to make this when I was growing up.  I also just learned that this was also a favorite of my Grandma and Grandpa's.  Mom has told me stories of them enjoying this dish so much that it makes me feel more comfort knowing they loved it so much.

It's pretty much all about the gravy.  The gravy is the BOMB!  So if you don't like mushrooms, leave them out, but make the gravy...you'll love me for it!
So here's an ode to Grandma and Grandpa Landon, and their love of Salisbury Steak in a Mushroom Gravy!


First, combine the ground sirloin, pepper, salt, and garlic.  Make patties, and place them in a heated skillet over medium high heat.  Cook about 4 minutes per side.



Remove from pan and keep warm.

Add butter to skillet and sliced mushrooms.  Saute 4 minutes until softened. 



Stir wine to the pan.  Cook 2 minutes. 

Stir beef broth and Wondra together.  Add to the skillet. 



Bring to a boil.  Cook for 5 minutes until reduced slightly and thickened.

Add patties back to the pan.  Add vinegar.  Cook for another 2 minutes.



Serve patties with mushrooms and sauce on top.

Oh boy!  Add a little mashed potatoes and some green beans...comfort galore!



Thanks Grandma and Grandpa for lovin' this dish...cause I love it too!


Salisbury Steak in a Mushroom Gravy
4 servings

1 pound ground sirloin
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 clover of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon butter
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
1/3 cup dry red wine
1 1/4 cups low-sodium beef broth
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour or Wondra
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
Combine beef, pepper, salt, and garlic. Shape into 4 patties. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add patties; cook 4 minutes on each side or until browned.  Remove from the pan and keep warm.
Melt butter in pan. Add mushrooms; sauté 4 minutes. Stir in wine cook 2 minutes. Combine broth and flour; add to pan, and bring to a boil. Cook 5 minutes or until thick. Add patties and vinegar to pan; cook 2 minutes.  Serve patties with mushrooms and sauce over them.


Linked To:  Hammock Tracks: Ground Beef Blog Hop

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Banana Waffles with Maple Walnut Syrup



Happy Mother's Day!

Let's pay tribute to all the fantastic Mother's we've encountered in our lives, and especially our own!

Isn't Motherhood an amazing thing?  I mean, a mother, someone who guides us through life, teaches us right from wrong, someone who is an advisor, mentor, and a friend.


My mother is all this and more.  She is strong but soft.  A mix of oak wrapped in velvet.  She's kind, generous, and loving....always there for support or to listen.  She's also a great cook that's taught me my love of food.

 
So here's to all the Mother's in the world...Hip Hip Hooray!


What better way to celebrate than with a Mother's Day Brunch?

Here is an outstanding recipe from a famous spa in Arizona, Canyon Ranch.  I'm so glad to have received this recipe and can share this with you!  These delectable waffles are heavenly, and the syrup is a delight.  Tangy and fruity, yet sweet with a hint of maple.


These are such a great addition to a Brunch, Sunday breakfast, or even for a late dinner.  They would go great with my Italian Scrambled Eggs.  (Click on the link to check them out.)

So let's make waffles!


First let's make the syrup.  Take some berry jam, I used a Olallieberry fruit spread from a local farm, add the maple syrup and orange juice concentrate.  Stir until combined.



On to the waffles.  Mash 2 ripe bananas in a medium bowl.


Add your oil, egg, milk, and vanilla to the mix and stir to combine. 


Add your dry ingredients:  a combination of whole wheat flour and all purpose flour, baking powder, and salt.


Stir to combine well.  I use a measuring spoon to scoop the batter in to the waffle iron.


Now let the batter sit a minute and toast your walnuts in a skillet over medium heat.  Watch them or they will burn.  Toast for about 3 min.



Scoop your batter in to a pre-heated waffle iron and cook according to your waffle iron's directions.  Usually when they stop steaming they are done...golden brown.  Serve with the wonderful syrup and sprinkle with the toasted walnuts on top.


Oh my!  look at these babies!


A delectable waffle made for Mom!


Enjoy, and let me know what you are doing or making for Mother's day!



Banana Waffles with Maple Walnut Syrup

Adapted from : Canyon Ranch Cooking

Active Time:  20 Minutes
Total Time:  20 Minutes    
Makes 2 waffles, or 4 servings

INGREDIENTS
For the Syrup:
2 tablespoons all-fruit cherry or berry jam
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoon frozen orange juice 

For the Waffles:
2 medium ripe bananas, mashed
1-1/2 teaspoons corn oil
1 egg or ¼ c egg whites
3/4 cup low-fat (2 percent) milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

4 teaspoons toasted and chopped walnuts
                                                                                                                       
DIRECTIONS
FOR THE SYRUP:
Combine all the ingredients for the syrup, mix well, and set aside. Preheat a waffle iron.
FOR THE WAFFLES:
Combine the bananas, corn oil, egg whites, milk, and vanilla in a bowl and beat until blended. Add the flours, baking powder, and salt and mix well.
Spray the hot waffle iron with non-stick cooking spray. Spoon 3/4 cup of the batter onto the center of the waffle iron. Cook until a golden brown, or until it stops steaming. Repeat with the remaining batter.
TO SERVE:
Halve each waffle and top each half with 1 tablespoon of syrup and 1 teaspoon of toasted walnuts.

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