Saturday, June 28, 2014

4 Favorite Burgers


Summer is here and the 4th of July is around the corner!

That means grill time....that means burger time!

We usually go all Americana on our 4th of July menu, keeping it to burgers and hot dogs.

So if you are craving a good juicy burger pick one of my four favorite choices.  Each are perfect for a party with friends and family.  Perfect for the 4th of July festivities, and so easy to make!


Here are the recipes starting in the upper left - going clockwise!  Enjoy!!

The Mushroom Swiss Burger

The Best Stuffed Grilled Cheeseburgers

Blue Cheese Stuffed Burgers

Grilled Santa Fe Burger

What hamburger wouldn't be complete without a great bun? If you are adventurous then try this...


And to quench your thirst...


Monday, June 23, 2014

Balsamic Herb Chicken


Have you heard of Craftsy?

You haven't?  Well, let me tell you a little bit about it.  It's an Internet site that offers online courses.  They have many topics to choose from such as art & photography, fiber arts (knitting etc), and cooking, to name a few.

When I learned about this site I was so excited to try a few classes.  I started with a free class on Perfect Pizza taught by Peter Reinhardt.  I mean...Peter Reinhardt!...teaching an online video class!  Wow, I am there.  Then I caught the bug and branched out to other classes.  One of the best features is that you can learn at your own speed.  Each class is divided into segments allowing you to stop and start as you choose.  You can then cook the recipe after the segment if you want, or not, before going on.  It really is a great way to gain a lot of knowledge and practice as you go.


One of my recent classes is Homestyle Pan Sauces.  The instructor, Martha Holmberg, provides a wealth of information.  It's amazing what you can learn.  The first sauce was a basic balsamic reduction.  Again, one would think this is an easy sauce, and it is, but the information that she provides on what it should look like, the shine, the consistency, is outstanding.  She even goes so far as to burn it on purpose to show you what happens along the way and where you went wrong (or not what to do).  Try out www.Craftsy.com if you want to take some fun and informative online classes.

So, being excited about this class I wanted to share with you my take on a balsamic reduction.  I jazzed up the chicken a little by adding an herbal rub which just adds some extra flavor but the basics are still there.


I hope you enjoy this wonderful pan sauce.  It goes great with chicken, pork, and beef.  Try it soon because it will definitely become one of your go to sauces!





Balsamic Herb Chicken

serves 4

1 T fresh oregano, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp olive oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 c chicken broth, low sodium
1/4 c balsamic vinegar

Pound each chicken breast between two pieces of plastic wrap to even out breasts.  

In a small bowl add the oregano, garlic, salt and pepper.  Add oil and stir to make a paste.  Rub mixture on one side of each chicken breast.  

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. (Try not to use a non-stick skillet).  Place the chicken in the skillet herb side down first.  Cook on each side about 4 minutes or until done, turning once.  Remove chicken from the pan and tent with foil to keep warm.

Add chicken broth and balsamic vinegar to the pan and allow to come to a boil.  Scrape up brown bit in the bottom of the skillet.  Boil for 2-3 minutes or until sauce is reduced slightly and has thickened.

Serve chicken with a spoonful of sauce over the top.


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Chocolate Chip Pancakes with Cinnamon Cream


I've been off all week.  

I mean I can't seem to keep track of what day it is.  On Wednesday I thought it was Tuesday.  To my surprise I found out it was Wednesday.  Then on Thursday I thought it was Friday.  It really, really felt like Friday. (Wishful thinking...hmm)

If that wasn't bad enough I was trying to plan a birthday lunch and kept saying that her birthday was a week from Sunday and that was the 22nd.  Which is actually this Sunday!  OMG! I thought we were a week behind and it was last week. 

 
What the heck?

So since I'm all mixed up I thought I would bring you a breakfast post that I was saving for this weekend...but I may forget what day it is!  So to be on the safe side I'll post it now and you can make them this weekend! 

This wonderful recipe for Chocolate Chip Pancakes is topped with a Cinnamon Cream.  I found this filed under my 'to make' Pinterest file and is by Paula Deen. (love her!)  It may sound like dessert, but isn't overly sweet and we just loved them for breakfast.


Enjoy them this weekend...it is almost the weekend isn't it?


Chocolate Chip Pancakes with Cinnamon Cream


Recipe Courtesy of Paula Deen

Servings: 10 servings

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 large eggs, separated
3 tablespoon butter, melted, plus 4 tablespoons, divided
1/2 cup miniature semi-sweet chocolate morsels
maple syrup, for serving


Cinnamon Cream:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Directions:

Preheat griddle to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.

In a small bowl, combine milk, egg yolks, and 3 tablespoons melted butter; add to flour mixture, whisking until smooth.

In a small bowl, beat egg whites at medium-high speed with an electric mixer until stiff. Gently fold into batter. Gently fold in chocolate morsels.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter on hot griddle. Ladle about 1/4-cup batter for each pancake onto hot griddle. Cook pancakes for 2 to 3 minutes, or until tops are covered with bubbles and edges look cooked. Turn and cook the other side. Repeat procedure with remaining 2 tablespoons butter and remaining batter.

For the Cinnamon Cream:

In a medium bowl, beat cream at medium-high speed with an electric mixer until thickened. Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar and cinnamon, beating until stuff peaks form. Cover and chill.

Serve pancakes with Cinnamon Cream and maple syrup.


Sunday, June 15, 2014

Simple Entertaining: Deconstructed Strawberry Angel Parfait


To us summer spells Entertaining...

When summer rolls around that's what we think about most. We love to dine al fresco and take advantage of the long evenings, sitting around by the pool, or having smore's over the fire pit. The addition of friends and family just takes it up a notch and creates some of our fondest memories.  

Sometimes we grill, other times we fix something quick indoors, but we always strive to make dishes that are easy to put together, flavorful, and delicious.  This is key to simple entertaining, keeping in mind that it's not about the process of cooking, or how elaborate the dish is, or perfection...it's about the mingling with friends, the conversations, and laughter.


Being stuck in the kitchen all night while everyone else is sitting outside is not my idea of entertaining. Besides, who wants to miss the fun?

So this dessert fits the profile of easy to put together. California has so much fresh produce on hand from local farmers that we always take advantage and tend to make dishes utilizing them.  Fresh berries are in abundance right now, and I'm in a strawberry mood!

This dessert is perfect for entertaining...or just for the family. I call it deconstructed because it uses the basic ingredients of a parfait...without the parfait glass.  The simple part is that it uses the help of a pre-made angel food cake that's been torn into bite sized pieces.  To round it out you have ripe, juicy, plump strawberries and blueberries sitting among some cheesecake flavored pudding. Topped with whipped cream you have one heck of a tasty dessert! 


Easy to put together, check!  Flavorful, check!  Delicious, double check!!

Simple Entertaining...


Deconstructed Strawberry Angel Parfait

serves 10-12 (make a many or as little as you like!)

2 pkg (3/4 oz) cheesecake instant pudding
4 cups of milk
1 pre-made angel food cake
1 pint of strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/2 c blueberries
whipped cream

In a large bowl combine the pudding mixes and the milk. Stirring to combine until all pudding granules are dissolved. Place cling wrap directly on pudding to avoid a skin from forming and place in the refrigerator to set.  

Tear the angel food cake into medium bite size pieces.  Hull and slice the strawberries.  To assemble:  Place pieces of cake on each plate.  Top with about 1/4 c of pudding drizzling over the cake.  Scatter about 1/4 cup of strawberries and a few blueberries over the pudding.  Add a dollop or two of whipped cream.  Serve.


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Banana Cream Pie Smoothie


OH! Its summer time around here, and that means smoothie time!

I am a smoothie girl to the max! I can't think of a better drink other than iced tea that I love more because of all the fresh fruits and different flavors that you can concoct in a smoothie.

I seem to always have bananas laying around. I love bananas.  I buy them every week and never seem to eat as many bananas as my eyes tell me I can! Therefore I have that "getting ripe" bananas sitting on the counter staring at me.  I actually don't like rip bananas (I like them a little green!) so this is a dilemma for me.  The only thing good about this is that you can make banana bread, banana muffins, and banana smoothies!


This smoothie came from my love of cream pies. I love love love chocolate meringue pie and banana cream pie. There were two of my favorites desserts growing up. Mom was a cream pie expert and I got my love of pies from her. Since I can't make a cream pie right now I thought I would take the flavors of a banana cream pie and put it into a smoothie. Genius!

This smoothie is decadent and creamy and has all the flavors of a cream pie. I even rimmed the glass with crushed graham crackers to give it that extra little something. This one's a winner and it's easy to make. I'm sure you're going to love it!

Enjoy!

Banana Cream Pie Smoothie

serves 2

1 large banana (ripe!)
1 c low fat yogurt, plain or vanilla
1/2 c 2% milk
2 tablespoons of crushed graham crackers (about 1/2 cookie sheet)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla (if not using vanilla flavored yogurt)
1 cup of ice cubes
graham cracker crumbs (optional)

Place all ingredients from the banana to the ice cubes in a blender.  Blend until ice is crushed and drink is thick and smooth.  Pour into 2 glasses and sprinkle with graham crackers if desired.  (or dip your glass rims in water and in the graham cracker crumbs for a nice touch)  Serve with a straw.

adapted from Cooking Light


Sunday, June 8, 2014

An Elegant Father's Day Dinner: Fig and Ginger Glazed Pork Tenderloin


Father's Day is around the corner!

What a wonderful way to celebrate all the fathers in your life by treating them to an elegant dinner with family and friends.

Often we always do the grill thing for Father's Day because it's manly, and an elegant brunch for Mother's Day. But why not switch it up some and do a wonderful elegant lunch or dinner for father.  I think this is a wonderful switch up to the typical celebration.

Since the temperature is rising outside you need something to cook that is easy, quick, and has little fuss. Pork tenderloin is perfect for that. You just sear it in a skillet and pop it in the oven to finish cooking.  Adding a glaze lends tremendous flavor that everyone will find delicious! You can't get much easier then roasting in the oven which practically does everything by itself!


I chose to do a glaze that is a little lighter in flavor, reminiscent of springtime. The fig and ginger flavors compliment each other perfectly and complement the pork as well. This is a great dish anytime of the year and just perfect for a celebration. Pair it with my Ginger Glazed Roasted Carrots & Green Beans as a side dish.  Add a tossed salad, and some beautiful white wine and you have an easy dinner fit for a king!

Enjoy!

Fig and Ginger Glazed Pork Tenderloin

serves 4

2 (1 lb.) pork tenderloins, trimmed
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt & Pepper
For the Glaze:
1/2 c Fig preserves
2 tablespoons minced ginger or ginger paste
Splash of white wine

Preheat an oven to 350°F.

Brush the pork tenderloins with the olive oil and season with salt & pepper coating all sides. On the stove in a hot skillet (over medium-high heat) sear the tenderloins on all sides until brown, about 5 minutes. Place tenderloins on a baking rack and place in the oven. Cook for about 20 minutes until done.

Meanwhile in a small sauce pan add preserves, ginger and wine. Stir to combine. Cook over medium low heat until the sauce has loosened up and is slightly bubbly. Reserve some about (2-3 T) for drizzling over the cooked tenderloins.

During the last 5 minutes of cooking the tenderloin, brush with the glaze. Transfer to a cutting board, cover loosely with foil, and let rest for 2 to 3 minutes before slicing. Cut the pork crosswise into slices 1/4 inch thick. Serve topped with remaining glaze.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Grandma Landon's Strawberry Cake


May is strawberry season in Los Angeles!

It holds the great Strawberry festival up in Oxnard, which is a blast!  We try and go each year and eat everything strawberry in site.  I usually come home with a flat of strawberries and a stomach ache!  They have everything from strawberry margaritas to strawberry nachos, even strawberry pizzas!

You can ride strawberry rides, listen to the Young Dubliners, or bungy jump to your hearts content.  Plus there are vendor's booths selling all sorts of hand made crafts.  But the main draw for me are the juicy, plump, ripe strawberries! Just thinking about them now is making my mouth water!


So what do you do with a big flat of strawberries?  Well I have lots of recipes that will use them up but first off I wanted to make my Grandma Landon's Strawberry Cake. Now this cake is famous among my family. When they heard I was going to break out my 9x13 pan and make Grandma's cake I immediately got all sorts or stories bringing back fond memories of this cake....and requests for the recipe.

My mom handed down this recipe and even she was in love with it.  She said the flavors are just outstanding and that the fresh strawberries in the icing are a must to make this cake the bomb!  She told me stories of Grandma serving this cake a family gatherings as it was such a crowd-pleaser and served a lot of people. Mom was smiling ear to ear as she recalled the fond memories of this cake.


I must say it is easy to put together as it uses a box cake mix to start.  I was blown away at the end result. This is one of the most moist cakes I've tasted and full of strawberry flavor. I did change up the icing just a bit from the original recipe. The icing calls for mashed strawberries to be incorporated in the icing.  I chose to chop my strawberries and fold them in leaving them chunky so that you get bits of strawberries throughout.  I must say it came out fantastic!  Everyone just loved the cake and there wasn't a bite left.

Guess I'll have to make another one!

Enjoy!

Grandma Landon's Strawberry Cake

serves 15

FOR THE CAKE:
1 box (18.25 Oz. Box) White Cake Mix
1 box (4-serving 3 Oz. Box) Strawberry Jello
¾ cup Oil
½ cup Water
¼ teaspoon Baking Soda
4 whole Eggs
½ cup Fresh or Frozen Strawberries
3 Tablespoons Flour
FOR THE FROSTING:
½ stick Butter
3 ounces, Cream Cheese, softened
1 dash Salt
1 pound Powdered Sugar
⅓ cup Strawberries, Fresh or Frozen, Thawed And Mashed (I cut mine into chunks)

For the cake:
Mix cake mix and box of Jello until blended. Add oil, water and baking soda and then beat 2 to 3 minutes. Add eggs and beat 2 to 3 minutes. Toss strawberries with 3 Tablespoons of flour. Fold the strawberries and any juice that may have accumulated into the batter mixture. Pour into a greased and floured 9″x13″ pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until done.

For the frosting:
Beat butter and cream cheese with salt until smooth. Gradually beat in half of the powdered sugar, then the strawberries, then the remaining powdered sugar until smooth. (Note: if you leave the strawberries chunky then fold them in after the frosting comes together, adding all the powdered sugar.)  Frost the cooled cake and enjoy.

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