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colorful summer salad and a tomato tip

tomato halves

I’ve seen this cool tip for cutting a bunch of cherry tomatoes at one time all over the internet and on Pinterest. I’ve used it for sometime now, but keep forgetting to share it with you. It not only comes in handy for this salad but is especially fabulous for THIS RECIPE and any other recipes calling for roasted cherry tomatoes.

Summer Squash and Salmon Salad

Summer Squash and Salmon Salad

1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds zucchini, ends trimmed and then thinly sliced
2 tablespoons pepper jelly
3 pound salmon fillet, skin on
2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes
6 cups fresh spinach leaves
1/2 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
2 avocado, diced
1 cup chopped pecans

zuchinni

In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil and lemon juice, season with salt and pepper. Add the zucchini, toss to coat and let marinate at room temperature for at least 15 minutes.

coat salmon

Spread the pepper jelly on the flesh side of the salmon. Heat a grill or broiler to high.

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June 30, 2014   4 Comments

Meatless Monday

veggies

After visiting The Simple Farm last week, I was inspired to make a meatless meal.

This meal is “Connor Approved!”

flatbread pesto

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June 9, 2014   2 Comments

Connor’s Summer Salad

summer salad

Connor did not request this salad for his birthday dinner, but I needed something cool, refreshing, colorful and healthy to add to the menu that was heavy with ribs and BBQ sauce.

I’d be happy eating this all summer long! Add some feta or goat cheese if you’d like. I left it out because those aren’t Connor’s favorite things, and on your birthday, you should never have to eat something you don’t like!

summer salad stuff

Summer Corn, Cucumber & Tomato Salad

Cilantro Vinaigrette
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
tablespoon champagne vinegar
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
tablespoon chopped cilantro

Salad
16 ounce package frozen corn, thawed
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2  English cucumber, diced
1/2 red onion, peeled and diced
2 avocados, diced

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May 28, 2014   2 Comments

not just any old gazpacho

This was the “main course” for my Pool Party class at Les Gourmettes. It’s a bit chunky, a sorta soupy, kinda spicy, and really good!

fire roasted gazpacho2

Fire-Roasted Gazpacho

1 large onion, peeled and cut into 3 thick rounds
2 zucchini, trimmed and cut in half lengthwise
1 each red, yellow, orange bell peppers
2/3 cup olive oil
3 thick slices fresh sourdough bread
4 garlic cloves; 1 of the cloves peeled and cut in half and the 3 remaining cloves peeled and minced
8 large tomatoes, cored, seeded and diced
2 English cucumbers, peeled, seeded and diced
1/2 cup Sherry or red wine vinegar
2 cups tomato juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Garnish
2 green onions, green tops only; thinly sliced on the bias
1/4 cup finely diced red onion
1 avocado, diced

Preheat the grill to high heat.

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May 12, 2014   No Comments

what to do with leftover mussels

leftover mussels

I don’t know if you noticed just how big that bag of mussels was in yesterday’s post. There were over 140 mussels in it! I steamed them all on Sunday and then made another meal out of the leftover 60 or so mussels for dinner on Monday. I’ll get to the recipe shortly, but first I want to share a new favorite ingredient of mine with you – capers packed in sea salt.

capers in sea salt

Most capers we see in the U.S. are packed in a vinegar brine after curing. Often the brine overpowers the wonderful fresh caper flavor. Capers packed in sea salt are more flowery, more like flower buds, which is of course what capers are. The caper plant, Capparis spinosa, can be found all around the Mediterranean Sea and spreads its long, spiny branches over rocks and open into beautiful white flowers with long purple stamens.

I used the capers directly from the jar, with the salt clinging to them, for this recipe. I didn’t use additional salt for the dish, just the salt that was already present on the capers. For a salad or another dish where not as much salt is needed, the capers need to be cleaned of their salt. To do so; cover the salt-packed capers with water. Swish to remove any clinging salt and let stand a minute to let it settle to bottom. Lift out capers with a sieve, and taste. If still too salty, repeat the process.

I bought the capers while I was in Canada last summer and have looked for them here, but haven’t run across any yet. You can find them easily on Amazon.

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April 3, 2014   2 Comments

sausage and mussels

bag o mussles

Here is the second recipe I made on Sunday night with a portion of that huge package of sausage I’d purchased at Costco. I bought a huge bag of live mussels to go along with it.

mussels and chowder

Remember, I made the Corn, Potato & Sausage Chowder? We had steamed mussels too.

discard broken

It’s important to do two things with live mussels. First, pull out and discard any and all cracked or broken mussels.

cornmeal

The second thing; just before cooking,  pour a 1/2 cup or so of cornmeal into a large bowl.

add water

Add cold water and stir. Then add the mussels and let sit for about 20 minutes. As the mussels breathe, they take in the cornmeal and fresh water and expel sand and grit.

get rid of grit

Lift the mussels out of the water with a slotted spoon or spider and leave the sandy water behind.

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April 2, 2014   2 Comments

pasta and lamb

Yesterday it was pasta and beef – today it’s pasta and lamb.

Pappardelle with Lamb Ragu1

What’s going on? Honestly, it’s just a coincidence. This was my Valentine’s dinner gift to my guys. After dinner we went to see The Lego Movie – loved it!

The beef and pasta dinner was a couple of days later. Sometimes we all crave pasta.

pasta

The pasta used here is pappardelle which is a large, very broad, flat pasta noodle, similar to wide fettuccine. Pappardelle can be difficult to find in the grocery store. I found mine at Whole Foods.

scissor tomatoes

Tip: This recipe calls for canned diced tomatoes. If you only have canned whole tomatoes, an easy way to dice them is by using kitchen shears and cut the tomatoes right in the can.

This particular recipe is one that I adapted from a recipe I found in Food & Wine magazine.

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February 18, 2014   6 Comments

pasta and beef

A week ago yesterday, our neighbors, Allison and Ian, had a new baby girl. She joins two sisters, ages 2 and 3.  Since Allison obviously has her hands full (to say the least!) another neighbor, Kim, organized a sign-up for us to pitch in and bring dinners to the family for the next couple weeks.

genius

Kim used a great online tool called Signup Genius. I’d never heard of it before, but I guess it’s all the rage with mom’s of school age kids. I am so out of the loop! It really is genius though!

braised tri tip and spaghetti

Anyhow, I made a double batch of this dish yesterday afternoon. My three guys really enjoyed it for dinner last night. Hopefully Ian, Allison and their girls will enjoy it just as much tonight.

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February 17, 2014   1 Comment

Migas for the crew

Before I get into today’s post – I want to take a moment to wish my mother-in-law, Patricia Hopkins, a very happy birthday! I love you. xoxo

I made brunch for the fabulous crew from Forevergreen Landscape Designs, Inc., the great group of guys who’ve been redoing our front yard and patio area for the past month.

brunch on the patio

The project was supposed to wrap up last Friday, but because of a mistake by the rock delivery dude, who delivered the wrong color rocks, the project is ongoing… it should be done by the end of this week with a reveal sometime next week.

screen

Long before the nasty gray cement-like rock was delivered, I’d promised to make the guys breakfast or lunch on what was to be their last day… we settled on brunch. And since the majority of men on the job are Hispanic, I decided to make Migas.

As you can see, I was very stealth and snapped a couple photos through the screened windows of them enjoying their meal.

peak

Mexican or Tex-Mex Migas is a traditional breakfast dish consisting of scrambled eggs mixed with strips of corn tortilla, diced onions, chile peppers, diced fresh tomatoes, and cheese.

chips and such

My version uses crushed tortilla chips, minced serrano, and Parmesan.

Chip Custer is the owner of Forevergreen Landscape Designs. He is the very talented landscape designer who did our backyard. If you go to his website HERE, you can check out photos 2, 3, 8, 10, and 12. Those are a few of the before and after pictures of the backyard project we did with Chip five years ago.

Now you see why I happily cook for these guys!

onion tomato serrano

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November 13, 2013   4 Comments

Olive Garden Salad Knock-Off

Olive Garden Endless Salad

Even though I may be a food industry professional who generally avoids big chain restaurants, even I have to admit that Olive Garden’s all-you-can-eat salad and bread-sticks are hard to pass up!

all you can eat Olive Garden salad

Not that we are frequent diners at Olive Garden. In fact, I believe the only times we’ve eaten there in the past decade have been on road trips.

no much of a stretch

This is the salad I made for work-weary Marissa and Jeff on Friday night. I have a few more photos of the apartment kitchen too. Here you can see that 6′ 3″ Jeff doesn’t have to stretch much to touch both ends of the kitchen at the same time.

color strip

After I complained about how dark the sink area was at night, Dave went to Costco and bought a cool light strip that Jeff and I installed around the kitchen and over the sink. It even has a remote and you can have a full-color light show! Most importantly, it really lights up the place.

pumpkin happy

Lastly, Marissa used the velvet pumpkins I made for her last year, to cover up and camouflage the TV cords and components on her mantel. Cute!

And most wonderful of all… I found the Jarrahdale pumpkins, that I so love, at Marissa’s corner market which is only two blocks from her house. I smuggled home three of them in our luggage! So excited!

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October 8, 2013   3 Comments