Monthly Archives: July 2014

Cape Cod

I’ve been up on the Cape since Friday and won’t be back until Sunday, so I’m sorry for the lack of posts – I haven’t been doing any cooking (but have been doing a whole lot of delicious eating).  New recipes when I’m back. In the meantime, enjoy the gorgeous views from Chatham!


Lump Crab and Avocado Stacks

Kitchen Hacks. Do you own a measuring cup? Yes? Congratulations, you can make a really pretty-looking dinner with minimal effort. What is it about meals presented in neatly-rounded stack format that make them so appealing? I don’t know, but this is one of my favorites. I had some of my girlfriends over for a little dinner last week, and made these along with pear, prosciutto and honeyed goat cheese apps, those polenta fries with sage and a giant platter of one of my most-indulgent-while-still-being-healthy salads, an avocado and tomato salad with lemon olive oil and toasted almonds over arugula. Yummo. This is perfect for summer. 

LUMP CRAB AND AVOCADO STACKS (makes 5 1-cup portions)
– 20 oz. lump crab (make sure you get lump or jumbo lump)
– 4 avocados, mashed into larger chunks
– approx. 1/4 c. fresh cilantro, chopped
– 2-3 limes, juiced
– zest of 1 lemon
– 2-3 dashes of cumin
– chopped fresh chives
– kosher salt and pepper

1. Cube avocados, then mash gently (you still want them to be chunky so this can stand up to the crab). Mix in 1/2 the lime juice, a little kosher salt and about half the cilantro. Taste and adjust.


2. In a separate bowl, gently combine the lump crab, chives, the rest of the lime juice, cumin, lemon zest,  and a little kosher salt and pepper. Taste and adjust.


3. Now comes the fun part! Grab a 1-cup measuring cup, and gently put a layer of the crab mixture in the bottom of it. Add the avocado mixture, packing it in gently.

4. Get a plate, and swiftly but with confidence (don’t be nervous, this is going to look great!) flip the measuring cup upside down. Pull the measuring cup up, leaving the crab and avocado mixture. 


5. Step and repeat with the other plates. Serve and enjoy with a delicious lemon-marscapone cake (Goddamn Jonelle. That thing was too good.) Girlfrandz.




Poached Eggs with Thyme over English Muffins with Avocado, Cheddar and Tomato

Ok, seriously. Do you guys have any idea how simple it is to make poached eggs? These were the result of my first time ever making them. !!!  If I can do it this easily, you can too. There are a couple basic tricks that will make this a piece of cake. Get ready to wow whoever’s lucky enough to be over for breakfast.

POACHED EGGS WITH THYME OVER ENGLISH MUFFINS WITH AVOCADO, CHEDDAR AND TOMATO (serves 2)

– 4 eggs, super fresh (fresh is key)
– 2 whole English muffins, cut in half
– Fresh thyme
– Good cheddar, cut into curls
– Avocado slices (about 1/2 an avocado)
– Slices of plum tomato 
– splash of white wine vinegar
– kosher salt & pepper
– butter

1. Heat about 5 inches of water in a pot – temperature is key here. I slowly brought up the heat on this to medium, medium high, so that it was starting to gently bubble but definitely not boiling.

2. Crack an egg into a ramekin, making sure you keep the yolk intact.
3. When the water temperature is at that perfect “starting to bubble, definitely not boiling” temperature, throw in a splash of white wine vinegar and a little kosher salt. Make sure the salt dissolves.

4. Get a spatula and swirl the water in the pot into a little whirlpool. While the water’s spinning, gently slide the egg into the middle of the whirlpool (the eye? Do whirlpools have an ‘eye’ like tornadoes do?). You’ll see the egg start to swirl itself together, as it cooks. If it sticks to the bottom of the pot, gently nudge it up with the spatula.

5. Leave it alone for about 4-5 minutes. You want the egg center to be runny, not overcooked. This is probably the only hard part about this, trying to gauge when it’s ready. Keep practicing – it’s a delicious experiment.

6. When the egg is ready, scoop out with a slotted spoon. Set on paper towels to drain. Repeat with the rest of the eggs. 
 

7. Meanwhile, toast the english muffins. Top with a little butter, avocado slices, tomato slices and cheddar curls.

8. Put the eggs on top of the assembled english muffins. Top with a little kosher salt & pepper, and some fresh thyme, too.

9. The best part – gently cut into the yolk of the egg – the poached yolk is all you need for a topping on one of the most delicious breakfasts you’ll ever have.


Polenta Fries with Sage

Polenta fries. They’re healthier for you than traditional fries, about 100 times more delicious, and super simple to throw together, especially if you use pre-cooked polenta. You can mix up any sort of seasonings to dress them up, serve with any sort of dipping sauce, but for a little dinner party app, these – topped with sage and served alongside a little bowl of pasta sauce – were perfect. I had some of my girlfriends over for dinner and these were gone in about 10 minutes flat.

POLENTA FRIES WITH SAGE (serves 5)
– 1 package of polenta
– 2 tbsp. fresh chopped sage
– 2 tbsp. butter
– Kosher salt & pepper
– Pasta sauce (for dipping)

1. Preheat oven to 375.

2. Using a package of precooked polenta, cut into fry-shaped pieces. Place on one layer on a baking sheet.


3. Melt butter.  Add chopped sage to this, some kosher salt & pepper and mix well.


4. With a pastry brush, lightly coat both sides of the polenta fries.


5. Bake for about 20-30 minutes, flipping once or twice, until crispy.

6. Drain on paper towels, serve alongside a side of pasta sauce.

 

The Best Dressing Ever? Ever.

I tend to get a little obsessed with certain things. I can remember being younger and taping a song I loved off the radio (most likely, something by En Vogue, Richard Marx, or PM Dawn…yeah, yeah. It was the ’90s.) and playing it over and over until I’d start to get sick of it, then not be able to listen to it at all, then putting it away for a couple months, and then digging it out, listening to it and thinking “Why in the world did I ever stop listening to this??”, and repeating the cycle. Also – for those of you who remember trying to perfectly tape a song off the radio, props to you as it took serious skillz to capture the beginning and end of the song at just the right times before the DJ came back on and ruined it. This mp3 generation has no idea how much fun they’re missing out on.

Anyway, I did the same thing with books (David Sedaris and Chuck Klosterman? Check.). Same thing with Netflix – I realize that I should probably have more shame in admitting I binge-watched all 4 seasons of Breaking Bad in a week and a half just to catch up to the second half of season 5 and be able to watch the final episode in real time. But…I don’t. That show was awesome.

And, of course, food. I went through a meatball phase, a black olive phase, an artichoke phase, and I’m pretty sure I’ll always be in an avocado and feta phase.

But this dressing. This. Dressing.  It’s incredible. I want to put it on everything. I want to eat it with a spoon straight out of the jar. It’s creamy without being fattening, unbelievably flavorful, actually healthy, has the perfect texture, is a little tangy and packs a bit of heat, too. It’s fantastic. It’s a game-changer. If this is a phase, it’s one I never want to end.

THE BEST DRESSING EVER (adapted almost exactly from the gorgeous “It’s All Good”)
– 1/4 c. lime juice (2-3 limes – use a citrus reamer to get the most juice as possible)
– 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
– 1 tsp. honey
– 5 scallions, chopped (white and green parts)
– 1/2 smaller jalapeno, seeded and diced
– 1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
– 6 oz. plain Greek yogurt
– 1/3 C. EVOO

1. Prep everything. Don’t skip the jalapeno – I hate spicy things but this amount of heat is perfect, perfect, perfect. Just make sure you wash your hands really well after cutting it!

2. Combine everything in a food processor (in order of ingredients listed) or a blender until well combined.


3. Store in a mason jar – this will keep for a week, or 2 days if you love it as much as we do.  Meet my latest obsession.  <3


Chopped Summer Nectarines, Feta & Basil with Arugula

 
I swear I could eat summer nectarines every single day. I crave them like I crave pasta. They’re perfect – sweet, healthy and really pretty, too. You can serve them in a bunch of different ways, but one of my favorite versions is a chopped ripe nectarines with feta and basil. There’s basically nothing else this needs – a little lemon juice, a little olive oil, a little salt & pepper, and you can either serve it over arugula or just eat it by itself as a great summer snack that you can throw together in no time flat.


SUMMER NECTARINES, FETA & BASIL WITH ARUGULA (serves 2)
– 3 nectarines
– 6-7 basil leaves, chiffonaded
– 1/4 C. crumbled feta
– juice of 1/2 a lemon
– couple glugs of EVOO
– kosher salt and pepper to taste
– 2 cups baby arugula

1. Cut up the nectarines into little cubes.

2. In a bowl, combine nectarines, EVOO, salt & pepper. Stir to combine.

3. Add the feta to the bowl with the nectarines. 

4. Chiffonade the basil, then add to the bowl. Combine all gently.

5. Put the arugula in a bowl and season it a little bit with Herbamare or salt/pepper. Squeeze half a lemon over it, stir to mix.


6. Divide the arugula between two bowls, then top with the nectarine/feta/basil mix. Make sure you get any juices that have collected – this adds a nice little sweetness to the dressing.

7. Serve and enjoy.

Shrimp with Lime and Cilantro over Thai Peanut Quinoa

A bag of frozen shrimp should be a household staple. You can defrost it in ten minutes, put together some of the quickest, tastiest meals ever, and you probably have everything you need in your kitchen right now to get dinner ready, stat.  This recipe is soooo simple and so summery and great – shrimp, cilantro, lime & a little cumin – and you can serve it over pasta, rice, in a tortilla, or over quinoa dressed with spicy Thai peanut sauce, like we did. Shrimpy shrimp shrimp, how I love you so.

SHRIMP WITH LIME AND CILANTRO (serves 3)
– 1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
– juice & zest of 2 limes
– handful of cilantro, chopped
– 1 tbsp. butter
– 2 garlic cloves, chopped
– 1 tsp. cumin

1. If the shrimp is frozen, thaw quickly by immersing shrimp in a bowl of super cold water, and changing the water approximately three times over 10-15 minutes. Rinse and pat dry.

2. Add shrimp to a bowl, then add the lime zest & cumin.


3. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the tbsp. butter.  Add garlic and stir until fragrant, approx. 90 seconds. 


4. Add shrimp to the pan and cook, approx. 2-3 minutes on each side. Don’t over cook!


5. Remove from heat, stir in lime juice and cilantro, mix well. 

6. Spoon shrimp over whatever you’re serving this with, add lime slices for garnish, enjoy.



  

Summer Salads

Hands up if you need a little detox after the 4th of July weekend. Oh, you too? We’re officially into July, you guys, so what better excuse to dig up some of my favorite summer salad recipes. With the exception of the tortellini (which is still a healthy, super tasty salad), these salads are all clean-eating recipes that you can make almost exclusively with produce found at your local Farmer’s Market. Best of all, they’re perfect for those mid-summer picnics…no mayo, nothing heavy, just bright flavors that take advantage of all the summer has to offer.  So grab a produce bag and head down to the Farmer’s Market to pick up ingredients for some of the best summer salads on my list.

SUMMER SALADS: (Clockwise, from the top left)

1. Fresh Sweet Corn, Avocado, English Cucumber, Feta, Red Onion and Cherry Tomato Salad with a Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette

2. My award winning Zucchini Ribbon Salad with Lemon, Basil, Toasted Almonds and Shaved Parmesan (thanks, Scranton Times-Tribune!)

3. Farmer’s Market Veggie and Quinoa Salad with Basil and Feta in a Honey-Lemon Dressing

4. Chopped Chicken Salad with Summer Nectarines, Avocado and Feta in a Basil Vinaigrette

5. Tortellini Salad in a Lemon-Artichoke Tapenade with Red Bell Peppers, Parsley and Parm

6. Tuna-Chickpea Salad with Lemon, English Cucumber, and Red Onion (no mayo!)

I don’t know about you all, but my first thought this morning was that I’m only t-minus three weeks until vacation. Hope everyone had a great holiday weekend!

Turkey Arugula Burgers

I’ve really cut down on the amount of red meat I eat, which means ground turkey is a substitute for a ton of recipes. After I got out of work early the day before the 4th of July, I came home and made these awesome turkey-arugula burgers for lunch. The onion gives them a little crunch, the dijon mustard holds them all together, and they were ready in maybe 10 minutes flat, which was just enough time for me to throw together a summer salad to go with lunch. We put these on potato rolls and mashed up some avocado to use as a base for these, which was awesome. Brendan made these killer dark and stormys and we kicked off the 4th of July weekend right.

TURKEY-ARUGULA BURGERS (makes 4)
– 1 lb. ground turkey
– 1 cup arugula
– 1/4 onion, diced
– 2 tbsp. dijon mustard
– kosher salt & pepper (maybe 1 tsp. each)

1. Get the grill (or grill pan) ready.

2. In a bowl, combine turkey, feta, onion, mustard and salt and pepper.


3. Dig in with your hands and mix it all together.


4. Form mixture into 4 equal burgers.


5. Grill for maybe 3-4 minutes on each side.


6. Serve on a bun with more arugula and mashed avocado, and enjoy the weekend.