Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Magic Sauce

This sauce is magic just like Heidi from 101 cookbooks promised.  It can be used in so many different, delicious ways.  Tonight I ate it without my little ones and am convinced that if they like it when they try it, it truly has magical powers.

Tonight, I used the sauce on top of an open faced asparagus and fried egg sandwich and will definitely be making it again in the very near future (maybe tomorrow for lunch).

Magic Sauce

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
2 medium cloves of garlic, smashed into a paste
1 well-crumbles bay leaf
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon + fine grain sea salt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Gently warm the olive oil over medium-low heat in a skillet or pan, until it is just hot.  When hot remove from heat.

While the oil is heating, lightly pound the rosemary, thyme, and oregano in a mortar and pestle.  Stir the paprika, garlic, bay leaf, red pepper flakes, and salt into the oil.  Then add the bruised herbs and lemon juice.

You can use this now, but know the oil just gets better as it ages over a few days.  Keep it in a refrigerator for up to a week/ten days-ish.  It thickens up when cold, so if you need it in a liquid state, place it in the sun or a warm place for a few minutes.

Recipe from 101 Cookbooks 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Texmex Sloppy Joes

Noah loved these sloppy joes.  He ate more than a half which never happens!  The guacamole sealed the deal for me.

Texmex Sloppy Joes

1 pound ground beef
1/2 tablespoon oil
1 onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
1 cup beef broth
1 15 ounce can tomato sauce
1 chipotle chili pepper in adobo, chopped (or to taste)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 handful cilantro, chopped
Guacamole to taste
Diced red onion
Queso fresco, crumbled
Cilantro, chopped

Heat nonstick skillet over medium high heat.  Add beef and onions; cook, stirring to break up the meat, 5 minutes or until browned and onion is softened.  Add bell pepper, jalapeno, garlic and cumin.  Cook until peppers are crisp tender.  Add beef broth, tomato sauce, chipotle chili pepper, oregano, paprika, cayenne, Worcestershire sauce and ketchup and simmer for 30 minutes or until mixture has thickened.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Mix in lime juice and cilantro.  Serve on toasted buns with guacamole, diced onion, crumbled queso fresco and cilantro. 

Recipe slightly adapted from Cooking Closet

Friday, July 27, 2012

Peach Tomato and Mozzarella Crostini

This is soooo delicious!  I am quite positive this is my new favorite combination of flavors.  This is the perfect way to eat fresh peaches and tomatoes while they are in season.  They taste so amazing and delicious together.  I don't think it gets much better than this!

Peach Tomato and Mozzarella Crostini

Baguette sliced and toasted in butter or olive oil
Fresh, ripe peaches, sliced thin
Fresh, summer tomatoes, sliced thin
Fresh mozzarella, removed from water and sliced
Fresh basil, sliced in thin ribbons
Coarse salt and freshly cracked pepper
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar or honey 

Bring the vinegar and brown sugar to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Turn the heat to low and reduce until syrupy. The vinegar will thicken as it cools. Refrigerate in a covered container.

Top toasted baguette with a slice of peach, a slice of tomato, a slice of mozzarella, and a second slice of peach.  Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.  Top with basil and a drizzle of the reduced balsamic vinegar.  Serve immediately.

Recipe slightly adapted from Joy the Baker 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Brownie Cookies

While my family was on vacation last week, I got a text from my Aunt Traci telling me that the brownie cookies she made were a success!  Of course it got me thinking about brownie cookies and so that night after everyone had fallen asleep, I sat on my hotel bed googling brownie cookie recipes on my phone.  It didn't take long after our arrival home for me to try out this new recipe and they were absolutely a chocolatey brownie cookie success!

Brownie Cookies

16 ounces Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate (60% cacao), chopped
4 tablespoons butter, room temperature
4 eggs
1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Melt chopped chocolate with the butter in a saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly until smooth.  Mix eggs, vanilla, and sugar in a medium bowl.  Combine thoroughly.  Set aside.

Sift flour, salt and baking powder together in a small bowl.

Add melted chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and slowly add dry ingredients.  When combined, add the chocolate chips and stir.

Scoop 1 1/2 tablespoons of dough onto prepared sheets.  Bake 10-12 minutes or until they are firm on the outside (dough loses its sheen).  Leave to cool completely on baking sheets.  Oh and I gave them a little sprinkle of Fleur de Sel.

*I used a little more flour than the recipe calls for because the dough/batter seemed a little more like batter than dough.  I was worried the cookies would turn into one big cookie.  With that being said though, the dough was never like a thick cookie dough it was a little more brownie batter like which seems obvious because they are brownie cookies.

Recipe adapted from the Brown Eyed Baker

Monday, July 23, 2012

Cookies and The Beach

This picture has a story and it's a great story about an eight year olds determination to make something big happen.  Back in 2008 we made our first trip to the beach in Carlsbad, CA with our little family.  We had so much fun that we had to go back the following two summers.  Lazy days playing in the sun, sand and ocean with family...is there anything better?

Summer 2008

Last summer we didn't plan very well and our summer beach tradition fell by the side and we had a very disappointed 7 year old.  Well, about 3 months ago, Preston my now eight year old, asked if we were going to the beach in the summer.  He asked me to check and see if there was a room available at the hotel where we usually stay.  Surprisingly there was a room available, but I explained to Preston that it is expensive to stay at a hotel for a 7 nights and we hadn't been planning on this trip.  Preston is a quite crier and as I turned to him, I could see his big blue eyes filling up with tears.  Preston is also a thinker and as I looked at his face, I could see that in his little mind he was making a plan.  He looked at me and said, "I am going to earn it!  Will you make cookies for me and then I can sell them."  Wait a minute...you want to earn $1500 for the hotel???  Selling cookies???  Well guess what...WE DID IT!!  I made cookies (A LOT of cookies) once a week and Preston and I would sit out on the corner selling Preston's Out of This World Cookies (he came up with the name in the middle of his outer space/rocket obsession) for eleven weeks through wind and heat and we earned enough to pay for the hotel.  Todd and Noah also played a big part because they would take turns watching Stells so that I could sit with Preston every week.  It was definitely a family effort and it will be an experience we will remember for the rest of our lives.  Amazing things can happen when a determined eight year old dreams big and comes up with great big ideas!

 Summer 2012

Monday, July 9, 2012

Grilled Avocado and Corn Salad

Happiness in the form of sweet summer corn and creamy grilled avocados!

Grilled Avocado and Corn Salad

2 avocados, halved and removed from their skin
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups fresh or frozen corn
1/4 teaspoon cumin
2 scallions, chopped
1 tablespoon diced jalapeno (more or less)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup crumbled cotija or feta

Add the butter to a hot skillet.  To that add the corn, cumin and a pinch of salt.  Sauté until corn is just cooked; 2-3 minutes then turn off heat.  Toss in the scallions, jalapeno and cilantro.  Taste and add more salt if needed.

On a very hot grill or grill pan place the avocados on the grill.  Let sit undisturbed for a couple of minutes.  Flip the avocados over and grill the other side.  Salt the avocados and place on a platter with the corn salad.

Grill some thinly sliced bread that has been drizzled with oil.  Brush the grilled bread with a garlic clove.  Serve alongside the salad.

Recipe from Not Without Salt

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Salted Toffee-Chocolate Squares

Salty, chocolate, nutty goodness (and so easy to make)!

Salted Toffee-Chocolate Squares

52 Keebler Club Crackers (about a 1/2 a package)
1 bag (8 ounces) toffee bits
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped toasted natural almonds
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup butter
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon coarse salt

Preheat oven to 350.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.  Place club crackers in a single layer on sheet, edges touching.  Sprinkle toffee bits and almonds over crackers.

In a small saucepan, bring sugar, butter and salt to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat and cook at a rapid simmer, swirling pan occasionally, until mixture is syrupy, 2 minutes.  Immediately pour over crackers.  Bake until sugar topping is bubbling, 12 minutes.  Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle chocolate chips and salt over crackers.  Let cool on a baking sheet on a wire rack.  Using a sharp knife cut into 2-inch squares.

*I think coconut would be an amazing addition to these toffee squares (next time).

*These are really yummy frozen.

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart