Sunday, July 31, 2011

Fresh Cherry Margaritas

I am enjoying my last couple days of summer (really, last couple days...I go back on Wednesday!! I take the GRE on Tuesday so that's pretty much it for me!). These cherry margaritas were perfect with the juicy fresh cherries in the stores and markets right now. A nice change from the regular margaritas and a great summer drink! We are also thinking of all the good names to use for these for a Halloween party because they could defintely look gory!!

Fresh Cherry Margaritas

makes 2 quarts

1 lb fresh cherries, pitted
1 cup silver tequila
juice of 2 limes (or more, I love lime)
1/3 to 1/2 cup simple syrup
1/4 cup maraschino juice
lime slices for garnish

Muddle cherries. (I used my hands because I only have a tiny muddler...I looked like I sliced my palm in half by the end!!) Smash them up really well and get a lot of the juice out of them. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Serve over ice.

adapted from Annie's Eats, originally from Fine Cooking

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Honey Lime Roasted Corn Salsa

After how much I loved the honey lime enchiladas from last week, I thought it would also be an excellent flavor combination in salsa. I like lime juice in my salsa, but hadn't thought of honey before, although I'm sure it's nothing new in the food world.
Norris' aunt and uncle grow corn so Norris brought some back for us last week. You can do whatever you like for the salsa--this is just my ideas and a flavor combination that I enjoyed!

 Honey Lime Roasted Corn Salsa

3 ears of corn, roasted (on the grill or microwave/boil first and then roast under broiler, then trim from ears)
1/2 fresh jalapeno, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pepper, finely chopped (I used a combo of green, yellow, red, and orange)
2 Tbsp lime juice
1-2 Tbsp honey
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 onion, finely chopped

Combine and let flavors marry in the fridge before serving. I think this would also be good warm or at room temperature.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Vegan Blueberry Banana Breakfast/Snack Cake

I wrote the title as breakfast/snack cake because you could definitely have it for either. Norris and I both really enjoyed this, although I will admit that while I was making it, I may have covered the part of the recipe title that said "vegan" just so he wouldn't not eat it due to that! This was just as moist and good as any regular cake/bread, but much better for you!
Blueberries are so good for you that it says so right on the container! As for the bananas--if you don't already do this, once you see your bananas going south, store them in the freezer and you'll have overripe bananas anytime the banana bread/snack cake mood strikes! I was really accumulating them, so I might be making something else with them soon...or this again because it's excellent!

Vegan Blueberry Banana Snack Cake

from Weekly Bite via Prevention RD

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (in a pinch, you can use 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour and 1/2 cup AP flour)
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
4 overripe bananas, mashed
1 cup fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 325 F. Spray a 9-inch square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and sugar and set aside. With an electric mixer, combine the sugar, canola oil, and applesauce.
Combine wet and dry ingredients with an electric mixer. Add in the bananas half at a time, combining after each addition but do not overmix. Fold in blueberries.
Bake for 1 hour or until it tests done.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Honey Lime Enchiladas

When I read the description of these enchiladas, they immediately went on my menu plan for the week. How can you not make something that another woman said her husband was shoveling into his mouth and not patient enough to wait for her to take a picture of them to start eating??

At first you may question the addition of honey in your enchilada, but don't doubt--just try it! The chicken is a little sticky and sweet, but it's not overpowering and with the chili powder, it just works. If your family doesn't typically go for green enchilada sauce, they'll never notice (Norris didn't!) because it gets mixed with light cream and looks like cheesy sauce. You could easily stretch your food dollar by adding some rice in place of some of the chicken. Try this soon--enjoy!

Honey Lime Enchiladas

6 tbsp honey
5 tbsp lime juice (juice of one big lime)
1 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 lb chicken, cooked and shredded
8 flour tortillas (soft taco size)
1 lb Mexican cheese, divided (I used about 8 oz total instead)
16 oz green enchilada sauce, divided
1/2 cup light cream (I used half and half)

Combine honey, lime juice, chili powder, garlic powder, and chicken. Marinate for at least 30 minutes.
Reserve ~1/2 cup of cheese. Pour 1/2 cup of enchilada sauce on the bottom of a 9x13 pan.
Combine the remaining enchilada sauce with the cream.
Fill tortillas with chicken and cheese, roll up, and place in pan. Top enchiladas with sauce/cream mixture and then with cheese.
Bake at 350 F for approximately 35 minutes.

as seen on Stephanie Cooks

Barbecue Pork Quesdillas

Norris has been making some awesome fall off the bone smoked pork lately. He comes up with his own idea for rubs and the last two have been really great. The most recent had some chipotle buffalo sauce on the outside instead of his normal olive oil and then a spice mixture and I loved loved loved it. The only problem was that we planned on feeding 10-12 people with it (we were at the lake where it's normally community dinner every night!) and there were only 5 of us eating it (where was everybody???)! This meant we had some leftovers, which I was not disappointed about, and have been eating for lunch a few days already. I put quesadillas on the menu and while I was looking through the freezer for meat, it dawned on me that the pork would be good in them. I heated up the pulled pork, mixed with Sweet Baby Ray's bbq sauce, and put it in a quesadilla along with mozzarella and cheddar cheeses. Oh my gosh, was it good! Of course, I wound up topping with a couple of jalapenos and serving with a little sour cream, and it was gobbled up by the boys on poker night. SO good!
I don't know what happened to my camera, so another even crappier phone photo goes with this.

Barbecue Pork Quesadillas
(not much of a recipe!)

two flour tortillas
barbecue pork mixed with a little extra barbecue sauce
sauteed sweet onions
mozzarella and cheddar cheeses (shredded) --amount is your preference

Make in quesadilla maker or on stovetop. Serve with jalapenos and sour cream.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Jalapeno Popper Dip

If you like jalapeno poppers at all, you will love this stuff! You can adjust the amount of jalapenos to your taste preference, but I love jalapenos and put them on anything I can find to put them on, so I put a lot in this dip and made it pretty spicy. This dip makes quite a bit and would be perfect this fall for football parties!

 Jalapeno Popper Dip

2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened (I used light cream cheese)
1 cup mayonnaise (I used light)
4 oz chopped green chiles, drained
chopped pickled jalapeno peppers (I used about 6 oz and the original recipe calls for 2 oz...adjust to how you like it)
1 cup shredded cheese (I used an Italian blend and some white cheddar...use whatever you want!)

Combine all ingredients and heat in a crockpot over low heat OR combine ingredients except a little cheese and put in baking dish, top with remaining cheese, and bake at 350 for about 25 minutes.

from allrecipes via The Rookie Chef

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Sauteed Summer Squash

Part of our girls' night menu, this side dish was even liked by one friend who doesn't like vegetables pretty much at all and another who doesn't like cooked vegetables! I was looking for dishes that could be made with ingredients that are in season right now, and squash and zucchini are abundant, so decided to go with them. The onions are from my grandparents' garden!

Sauteed Summer Squash

2 medium zucchini, halved and cut into 1/4-1/2 inch slices on the diagonal (makes it look prettier!)
2 medium yellow squash, halved and cut into 1/4-1/2 inch slices on the diagonal
2 small onions, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
~2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
crushed red pepper

Heat a pan large enough to fit your vegetables without crowding over medium high heat.
Add oil to pan and heat. Add all vegetables to pan at once and cook until crisp tender, stirring constantly. Season to taste, add balsamic vinegar, and cook for about 30 seconds to let vinegar heat. Sprinkle with crushed red pepper and serve.

Zucchini Jam

First I thought it would be fun to show a couple of pictures of my grandmas who I grew up cooking with. Gram and I were featured in the "Cooks of the Week" cookbook with a few recipes we loved to make together. Blarney Stones are still a family favorite every St. Patrick's Day! Granddad always let me make applesauce on days I was "sick", too:) Lots of fun cooking at their house!
 While my other grandparents lived two hours away, we got to see them almost as often! We would always spend time with them in the summer (normally camping in their RV) and see them a lot during the year as they would drive up for almost all of our games. I was the luckiest kid on the field/court with all four grandparents in attendance at almost everything! (and they all still come to as much as they can!) We also cooked with my grandma, but we liked to sew with her more. My favorite thing she makes is fried okra every August...I eat more than my fair share!
She called us to see if we wanted to make zucchini jam, and while at first I thought that sounded pretty strange, it sounded fun, too. We went down this week and made zucchini jam---you cannot tell at all that there is zucchini in it since you use apricot jello. It tastes like apricot jam, which I love! It took less than two hours from start to finish to make two big batches of this and clean up. Not bad for a canning project!

Zucchini Jam

6 cups grated zucchini

6 cups sugar
2 Tbs lemon juice
1can 10 0z crushed pineapple drained
2 pkg Apricot gelatin 30z

Combine one cup water and zucchini. Bring to boil for eight minutes.
Add sugar,jello,pineapple,and lemon juice and stir to combine.

Bring back to a boil for 8 minutes, pack in jars, and seal.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Girls night in the kitchen

Last night I had a great time in the kitchen with a few girlfriends! They had been asking me (for about a year, oops!) to do something like this, so I figured it was finally time. We ate some delicious food and had a great time in the kitchen together.
On the menu:
Cheesy Stuffed Chicken
Sauteed Summer Squash

These are all adapted from different places and I have put my own touches on them over time to create new versions of the recipes. I was looking for a menu that they would like and that would be easy enough to recreate for their hubbies and families. Anyone can impress with these dishes without spending all day in the kitchen!
We were too busy having fun to take many pictures, but here are a few, some taken from my lovely friends. Thanks for coming, girls!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Couscous Tabouleh

I hope it's okay for me to still call this tabouleh even though I used couscous! I love tabouleh with bulgur wheat, but couldn't find it in the store I was in and decided I'd just go with couscous and it was delicious.
My first teaching job was at a school in a really diverse neighborhood with great ethnic restaurants nearby--specifically Thai and Mediterranean food. One of my favorite restaurants in Wichita was caddy corner from the school so we spent many inservice lunches there. I hadn't had tabouleh in a while and ate my fair share in Daytona. I was looking for something for lunches, made a big batch of this, and it lasted me through the week with leftovers to spare. I just made 3 servings of couscous and added in a bunch of vegetables and a dressing, similar to how I made panzanella. Adjust it to your tastes, but if you taste it and it's missing something, it's probably lemon juice and salt!

Couscous Tabouleh
cooked couscous (how easy....boil water, put couscous in water, stir, cover, remove from heat, and fluff after five minutes)
cucumber, seeded and chopped
tomatoes, seeded and chopped
lots of parsley
mint if you have it and like it
red onions, chopped*
green onions, chopped
green peppers, chopped*
feta cheese*

olive oil
lemon juice

*from what I understand, these aren't "traditional" ingredients, but there isn't much traditional about this, so add what you want!

Mix it all together. I think it's best after giving the flavors a chance to get to know each other for a day or so and I like it cold or room temperature.