Color of Summer
August 12, 2011, 1:38 am
Filed under: Food and Recipes, Side Dishes | Tags: , , , ,

Last summer I started making this dish after receiving Ina’s cookbook, Back to Basics, as a birthday gift. It has been my favorite cookbook of hers, and I’ve made several recipes from it. One of which appeared in my first post on this blog.

It’s cheap as chips to make, uses up those vegetables that are in abundance right now, and showcases them for their full summer glory. Seriously, I could make a meal out of this stuff alone.

Go to your farmer’s market this weekend. Stock up. Make this with your dinner; it’s great served alongside a lean protien like baked chicken or a baked ham. You won’t regret that you did.

Ina’s Confetti Corn
Slightly adapted from the Back to Basics Cookbook
4 WW Points Plus per serving, makes 6 servings

4 ears fresh corn, husked and kernels cut off the cob
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 orange bell pepper, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1 small red or yellow onion, diced
2 tbsp fresh chopped basil
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt/pepper to taste

1. Heat a large sauté pan over medium high heat and add olive oil.

2. Once pan and oil is heated well (when the oil starts to shimmer), add onion and sauté until golden brown. At this time, add diced peppers, sauté another 2 minutes.

3. Add corn and butter, season generously with salt and pepper, and sauté another 5-6 minutes until the corn is crisp and no longer starchy.

4. Remove from heat, stir in basil, taste, adjust seasoning as necessary, and serve.


Fried: So Good
June 17, 2011, 11:21 pm
Filed under: Appetizers, Food and Recipes, Side Dishes | Tags:

Tons of people have been asking me for my fried green tomato recipe lately, so I thought I would share it. These perfectly completement any veggie plate you may be making this summer and taste like something directly out of my grandmother’s kitchen. We had these frequently since my grandmother always had a garden in her backyard, but you can find fried green tomatoes at your farmer’s markets and often at your local grocery store.

The recipe couldn’t be simpler!

Fried Green Tomatoes
Recipe courtesy of Ganache

Green tomatoes, sliced about 1/3 inch thick
Plain yellow cornmeal
Canola/peanut/vegetable oil
Kosher salt

Place your cast iron skillet over medium high heat and begin heating up your oil. Pour it in so it’s about one inch thick. Slice your tomatoes and place into the cornmeal, pressing the cornmeal onto the moist parts of the tomatoes so the coating adheres. Once the oil is hot, pan fry your tomatoes until golden brown on each side. Remove to a paper towel lined plate to absorb any excess grease. Salt immediately while hot and serve while still warm.

June 14, 2011, 10:47 pm
Filed under: Appetizers, Food and Recipes, Main Dishes, Side Dishes | Tags: , ,

The first time I had gazpacho was in Washington, D.C. at Charlie Palmer’s Steakhouse. Until this time, gazpacho had never sounded so appetizing to me. Traditionally served cold, it’s not something that runs to the top of my mind for a main dish. I didn’t relish the thought of cold soup. Until the chef at this restaurant sent out samples to each table. Not served ice cold, but more at a chilled room temperature, this soup embodied summer, full of spice, fresh vegetal flavor, and loaded with cilantro, which is definitely my favorite herb to cook with.

I have not since forgotten that culinary experience. We tried so many new things to eat while overlooking the sunset and the capitol. It was a special moment.

I bought my husband a series of cookbooks for our anniversary, one of them being a new Weber grill cookbook on charcoal grilling. Being the serious grill finatics that we are, we practically own each Weber grill cookbook out there. In this particular cookbook, there it sat, a recipe for a grilled and chilled gazpacho. We are just now getting around to making it a few weeks later, but it was so good and refreshing that I have a feeling we will be making it all summer.

Grilled and Chilled Gazpacho
Slightly adapted from Weber Grill’s Charcoal Grilling cookbook

3 red bell peppers
6 large plum tomatoes
2 medium red onions
1/4 cup fresh basil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
Tabasco sauce
2-4 cups low sodium tomato juice
English cucumber, diced
Olive oil

1. Core tomatoes and sliced in half lengthwise. Remove bell pepper seeds, cutting the bell pepper into about 4 chunks each, saving one slice for garnish. Slice onion into 1/2 inch slices.

2. Brush peppers, onion slices, and tomatoes with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill over direct heat for 5 minutes, flipping once, with lid closed as much as possible until all veggies are charred and soft. Remove to a heat proof bowl to cool.

3. In a blender, combine grilled vegetables and tomato juice. Blend until veggies are still slightly chunky. Add basil, a couple dashes of tabasco, amd vinegar. Blend again. Add more tomato juice if not yet soup consistency, or until the consistency you desire is achieved. Taste, adjust any seasonings as needed with salt/pepper/tabasco/vinegar. Place blender carafe into the fridge and chill as long as you have before dinner. Its even good slightly warm.

4. When you are ready to eat, pour soup into a bowl. Garnish with a good amount of diced cucumber, diced fresh red bell pepper, and a small drizzle of olive oil.

Revisiting and Reinventing

I’ve been returning to a few older recipes lately, ones that I find myself going to time and time again. We’ve enjoyed these variations; hope you do too!

I took the stuffing from these stuffed pork chops and stuffed some chicken breasts, using local spinach and goat cheese and omitting the cream cheese.

I make roasted broccoli almost once every other week. Sometimes I use lemon pepper alone and if I’m feeling adventurous, I’ll throw in a little crushed red pepper flakes and garlic powder.

I made these roasted potatoes, but instead of rosemary, I used just season-all. It tasted like French fries (which is never a bad thing).

An oldie but goodie is this caprese salad. It’s not reinvented, but it’s always a sight for sore eyes, and is a good way to use that basil that’s growing by the bundles now.

With persian chicken, we used boneless akinless chicken tenders, eliminating the need for skewers.

Going Local

The past few weeks, I have been hitting up the farmer’s market something ridiculous. All the fresh vegetables, fruits, and local organic meats have me fired up for cooking.

Reasons you should do this too:

1. It’s cheaper, my grocery budget dropped by nearly 100 bucks this past month.

2. You support local farmers and local economy. For some, it’s a way of life.

3. It’s healthy, you can buy what’s in season, know it’s fresh, and cook it within the week. Know your farmer, know your food.

4. It stretches you out of your comfort zone. We’ve found that we have cooked more varied, satisfying meals lately.

Here’s a little something to get you inspired:

Heirloom Tomato Salad
Recipe courtesy of Ganache

2 Heirloom Tomatoes (you choose the variety)
1 pack feta cheese (I used some from this guy)
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
1 bunch of basil

Roughly chop tomatoes, basil, and feta cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar, slightly more oil than vinegar. Toss, serve with crusty bread.

Pictured here with Lake’s Farm catfish, local kale and broccoli from Whitton Farms.

Cinco de Mayo in a Cinch

Well, we did arrive safely back from Chicago. Pretty much, over the past two weeks, we have been operating in the inevitable post-vacation slump: that time in which it takes you to become reacclimated to the real world and become productive once again. This picture sums it all up.

I did plant my garden and have harvested my first few basil sprigs of the season. That makes me happy.

I’ll share more on our trip later. Right now, I just want to give you a recipe that my husband and I have both been working on perfecting, and there’s no better time to share it than Cinco de Mayo. In fact, this is probably what we will be making ourselves on that day (I do love excuses to make Mexican food). We have long been fans of this genre of cuisine, and have been loving the new fresh burrito movement that’s been around for some time now with places like Chipotle and Qdoba. So we decided to venture out and try to make these at home. We might never turn back. I find myself craving them at least once a week now, and they have even introduced me to my new favorite ingredient: sriracha, a Asian inspired garlic chili paste. I’m pretty sure that it could heal a broken heart like chocolate. At least in my world. Hope you enjoy! Fiesta!!

Steak Burritos with Cilantro Lime Rice
Recipe developed by Ganache (and husband)


For the steak:
1 1lb flank steak
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tbsp chopped garlic
1 1/2 tablespoons hot chili sauce (such as sriracha)
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon finely grated lime peel
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
2 tsp kosher salt

For the cilantro lime rice:
3/4 cup basmati long grain white rice (Make sure it’s basmati. It makes the world of difference.)
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1 1/2 cups water
Juice of one lime

For the burritos:
Good Mexican blend cheese (I used Sargento Artisan Mexican blend)
Burrito size flour tortillas
Homemade or good store-bought pico
Chopped lettuce
Sour cream and/or guacamole as desired
Sautéed bell peppers and onions (as if for fajitas)

1. Combine all marinade ingredients for the steak in a plastic zip top bag. Smush around to combine. Add the whole steak. Seal, pressing out as much air as possible. Smush around until steak is well coated with the marinade. Let sit at room temp for 30 minutes.

2. While steak is marinating, make rice. Add olive oil to the bottom of a 2 qt pan and heat over medium high heat. Add rice, and stir. Sauté, stirring frequently, in the olive oil until grains smell toasted and you can see them turn slightly brown. Add lime juice, give a stir, and add water. Reduce to a simmer and cover. Allow to cook for around 20 minutes, or until water has been absorbed. Remove from heat and keep covered for 5 minutes to steam rice. After that, remove the lid, add cilantro, and fluff and combine with a fork.

3. Heat a grill pan over medium high heat. Remove the steak from the marinade. Grill on the pan for 8-10 minutes total, flipping once. If your steak is too long to fit in the pan at once, cut in half and work in two batches. Remove the steak from the grill to a clean cutting board and loosely cover with foil. Allow to rest while you cook the bell peppers and onions on the same grill pan. I used one sliced bell pepper and one sliced onion. Like you do for fajitas.

4. Get ready to assemble!! Thinly slice your steak across the grain. Steam your tortillas in the microwave in a damp paper towel for 30 seconds. Start with a little sour cream and cheese on the bottom, add rice. Then add steak and veggies. Then top with pico, lettuce, and guacamole as desired! Roll and enjoy!

Beginnings of Spring

Spring is here. Fresh vegetables are coming back in season, farmer’s markets are opening their stands, and warmer, longer, sunnier days are fostering growth and new life. I love these first few days of spring. It’s warm enough to enjoy the days, but not overly hot. My days off are normally spent puttering about the yard and garden, tending plants, and sipping coffee while enjoying my new porch furniture.

After a recent trip to see my dad, a trip to a local farmer’s market with a friend, and a drive home spent alone to think of cooking, I was craving some fresh, light, spring-inspired food. I came home, took what was in season, and made a pasta salad to take for lunches that week. I looked forward to eating this each day! You could pair it with a light protein or eat alone for a light meal. All additions to the salad are approximations and you can adjust, add, or swap based on your own tastes.

Here’s what I came up with. Hope you enjoy!

Spring Vegetable Pasta Salad
Recipe developed by Ganache

1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 bunch of asparagus, bottom ends trimmed off, cut into 1 inch pieces
8 oz reduced fat crumbed feta cheese
1 lb (box) small whole wheat pasta (penne or bow tie)
1 carton cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 green bell pepper, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 bunch of basil, chopped
Zest and juice of one lemon
Olive oil, salt, pepper to taste

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions. In the last 3 to 4 minutes cooking, toss in asparagus and zucchini. Drain, add to a large bowl.

2. Add all remaining vegetables and cheese. Add the zest and juice of the lemon and the chopped basil. Drizzle generously with olive oil and season with approximately 1 tsp kosher salt and 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper. Taste, adjust seasonings as necessary. May serve warm, room temperature, or cold out of the fridge. Flavors get even better the next day.