Sunday, July 27, 2008

Deer Valley Picnic

The Utah Symphony did a tribute to the Beattles at Deer Valley this weekend and I was in charge of the food. Going to outdoor concerts can be a challenging food opportunity because you need to have food that will keep for the long drive, easily portable and yet still pure cusine yummy!

I chose to make pine nut and lemon orzo with salmon and sides of fresh peaches and strawberries, cheese and crackers and sparkling strawberry lemonade. I did it total Ina Garten style using individual meal containers, wine glasses and good silverware with linen napkins to make my guests feel special and it WORKED!

Pine Nut and Lemon Orzo:
From Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2008
4 cups uncooked orzo (rice-shaped pasta, about 1 1/2 pounds) - I just used 1-one pound box
2 tablespoons grated lemon rind
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoon extravirgin olive oil
3/4 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley - which I completely forgot to put into my recipe.
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting slat and fat. Drain. Combine rind, juice, salt and pepper in a large bowl. slowly add oil to juice mixture, sitrring constantly with a whisk. add pasta to juice mixture, toss to coast. Cool to room temperature. Stir in parsley and pine nuts.

I cooked three pieces of salmon with olive oil and a little bit of dried dill at 400 F for 10 minutes, let it cool and broke it into bite sized pieces and added it to the orzo.

The difficult part of this cusine picnic was the sparking strawberry lemonade. I wanted to have a fun special drink, but making this drink in the picnic arena was a little challenging. Especially because it rained on us most of the night.

I squeezed the juice of six lemons into a food processor with 6-7 frozen strawberries (they don't have to be frozen, I just had a bag of frozen strawberries) and a couple of packets of equal. Blend until smooth, put through a strainer to get all the strawberry seeds out....I of course forgot to do this, but you can learn from my mistake. I put this mixture into a twist on tupperware container so it would travel well. In a wine glass, combine 4 tablespoons of strawberry lemon mixture and add sparkling water.

We had a fantastic time despite the rain and tha fact that I forgot the battery to my camera when we got to Park City. This picture was taken with my cell phone!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Tikka Masala

Alex wants you all to know that he threw the cashews on top and it makes the picture look cute!
After I got strong responses from my friends Jen and Amanda about Dave Lieberman being gay I started thinking more about Dave Lieberman...not about Dave being gay, but about his yummy food. While surfing his web site I learned that he has two cook books out. I scored his second cook book, Dave's Dinners, on Amazon for $10 and that includes shipping! Amazon's personal sellers are the way to go!

I was pretty trepidatious the first time I tried Tikka Masala at Kasbah Grill in Layton, but my courage paid off! This is one of those meals I would have hated as a child. As you see the pictures (with my comments included), you will understand better.

Chicken Tikka Masala:
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup plain whole milk yogurt
3 large garlic cloves, pressed
1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 teaspoons sweet paprika
10 cardamom pods, cracked lightly (I just used ground cardamom)
2 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
20 grinds fresh black pepper
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 cup heavy cream

Cut the chicken breasts roughly into 2x2-inch cubes. In a large bowl, mix together the yogurt, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, cayenne, paprika, cardamom, honey, salt and pepper until thoroughly combined. Add the chicken pieces to the yogurt mixture, cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour or as long as overnight, but bring to room temperature before cooking. (It looks barf, but it is just marinating).

In a large skillet, heat the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent. Stir in the curry powder....(what the crap have you done to the onions?!)

then the tomato paste and cook a couple of minutes. (Now the onions are covered in goo!)

Add the cream and mix together until smooth. Slide in the chicken and marinade, stir well and bring to a simmer. Cook about 15 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through but still tender and moist. The mixture should thicken. Serve over rice.

The chicken came out so tender! It is the coolest thing ever when you can cook your favorite restaurant meals at home! OH! I also added a 1/2 cup of half and half because the tomato paste really thickened this up. Next time I would add a half cup of chicken stock instead...just for a different taste.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Chicken Salad Sandwich

Chicken Salad can never go wrong with Chicken Salad. It is total comfort food for me. I love all the variations you can create with Chicken Salad. I don't combine meat and fruit, but this is one thing I make a concession on.

I have been turned on to Ellie Krieger lately because she makes your favorite recipes healthier. As a result, I have adopted her concept of using plain yogurt in the place of mayonaise in recipes. She doesn't tell you to forgo the mayo all together, but replace some of it. So that's what I did on this one. You can't tell a difference what-so-ever! I have started doing this with EVERYTHING! Thank you, Ellie Krieger!
Chicken Salad Sandwich:
1 can Kirkland branch canned chicken
2 tablespoons low fat mayo
2 tablespoons plain yogurt
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
3 green onions
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup chopped pecans

Mix all ingredients together and put on whole wheat bread.

You can put any kind of fruit in this salad, any kind of onions along with any kind of nuts. I dig crunchy textures and nuts fit that bill. I also used the chicken salad as left overs in a tortilla with seriously can't lose with chicken salad!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

A Weekend with My SWEETIE!

Alex and I had a killer weekend doing my favorite thing...hangin' out with eachother.

We started the weekend off with a midnight bike ride on Antelope Island. We started Friday night at 10:30 p.m. and rode 22 miles from the Marina to Garr Ranch and back in an hour and a half.

Check out our cute riding jersey's! Alex was Super Grover...otherwise known as Super G...and I was Curious George in space! Alex looks so cute in his jersey, I can't stand it!

Saturday Alex and I went to Deer Valley to see the Utah Symphony perform the 1812 Overture. This is my FAVORITE performance of the summer outdoor concert series. In addition to the great music, they have cannons that boom and echo in the background.

This is the last season that Keith Lockhart will be the artistic director of the Utah Symphony. I have to say, I am pretty broken about it. He has brought so much to our stuffy old symphony. He brought 'Pops' to the mountains. They performed pieces by Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copeland, John Williams, Leroy Anderson and tributes to Billy Joel and Elvis Presley. Keith Lockhart sang 'I can't stop falling in love' was SOOOOO COOL!!!

For the occassion we put together a fantastic picnic to eat on the mountain side as we listened to the music. We had a pre-roasted chicken from the grocery store, fresh cherries and blueberries, and a baguette with brie and blue cheese. It turned out that Alex and the whole a bite he gave me and I ate the bread and cheese. Dessert was my 'How to Score a Husband Cookies'. That's not really the name, but that's what Alex and I call them...can you guess why? I made these cookies for my second date with Alex. He was so impressed, he proposed.

This is Williams Sonoma recipe with a fun twist on plain old chocolate chip cookies. These babies are anything, but healthy...but taste oh so yummy!

Tiny Chocolate Chunk and Toffee Cookies
(otherwise known as "How to Score a Husband Cookies"):
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 egg
6 oz. semisweet chocolate, cut into 1/3-inch pieces
1 cup (5 oz.) chopped chocolate-covered toffee

Preheat an oven to 375°F. In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine the brown sugar, butter and vanilla. Using an electric mixer set on high speed, beat until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg. Reduce the speed to low, add the flour mixture and mix just until incorporated. Then mix in the chocolate and toffee. Spoon the batter by heaping teaspoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets, spacing the cookies about 2 inches apart. Bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes, switching the pans and rotating a half turn halfway through baking. Transfer the cookies to racks to cool. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.

Makes about 40 cookies.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Lifestyles Series, After Dinner, by Kristine Kidd (Time-Life Books, 1998).

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Pastry Fruit Pie Disaster

Baking really isn't my gig, but I saw this recipe in 'The Pastry Queen', the one I got the stellar muffins from, and HAD to check these out. When you see the picture in the cook book they look just like the Hostess kind that are 500 calories a pop. I was pumped because I had the intention of baking, not frying them and making them healthy! I am sure it would have turned out FABULOUS at the hands of a better baker.

I scored some Mount Rainier cherries in the hopes of making these killer pies. They were sweet, succulent and makes my mouth water to even think about them now. The recipe says to combine the fruit with their preserves to make the filling. That kinda sounded barf to me so I decided to branch out and make my own filling. Interestingly, that wasn't what turned this incident into a tragedy. I combined 1/4 cup water and 1/2 cup sugar and added the cherries. I cooked until a thin sauce was created and added 1 tablespoon of corn starch to thicken it up a little.

Destructive Part:
The dough. I have NEVER been good at making pastry dough. It always ends up being thicker and not as malleable as I would like. But that doesn't even describe this dough. I followed the recipe to the tee. I even used ice cold water and extra cold butter...not frozen, but cold. Right from the outset the dough was tough like I had worked it too much. I went through the motions any way because I secretly hoped they would turn out the yummiest fruit pies ever. They didn't. The filling ROCKED, but the dough was chewy and tasted of raw flour. Alex made the glaze and even that turned out fabulous. They look spectacular and cute...but that damn dough!

After further discussion on this recipe I was told that I should have used crisco instead of butter. I am pretty certain these would have been a little different if I had fried them...but I couldn't stomach the idea of fried fruit pies. If I had wanted fried fruit pies I would have gone to the Hostess store and stocked up.

I am including the recipe as it is in the cook book so you can tell me out it works for you.

Fourth of July Fried Pies:
Blue Berry, Peach and Cherry Fillings
1/2 pint fresh blueberries
1/4 cup blueberry preserves
2 white peaches, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch dice
1/4 cup peach preserves
1 cup fresh cherries, pitted and chopped
1/4 cup cherry preserves

(Damn) Dough:
6 cups all purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups ice water
Safflower oil, for deep frying

1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

To make the fruit fillings: In 3 separate bowls, combine the blueberries with their matching preserves, the peaches with theirs and the cherries with theirs.

To make the (damn) dough: Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Cut the butter into 1/2-inch cubes. Work the butter into the dry ingredients with a pastry cutter or your fingers until the mixture resembles corn meal. add the ice water and gently form the dough into a ball. Divide the dough into thirds (each ball should be about the size of an orange). Sprinkle a think layer of flour on a pastry board or other flat surface. Roll out each portion of dough to 1/16-inch thickness; a little thicker than a tortilla. Cut out dough circles with a 5-inch-diameter cutter. Each ball of dough should make 4 rounds. Put 1 tablespoon of 1 filling flavor in the center of each dough round. Fold the dough rounds in half; wet your fingers and press to seal the edges with water. Crimp the edges with the tines of a fork.

To fry the pies, pour about 3 inches of safflower oil into a deep frying pan and set it over medium high heat. The oil is hot enough when a scrap of dough dropped in the pan sizzles and bubbles. Fry the pies on paper towels.

To make the glaze: Whisk together the powdered sugar, milk and vanilla extract. Using a pastry brush, glaze the warm pies. Serve immediately.

For baked pies:

Preheat oven to 375 F. Beat 1 egg with 2 tablespoons water. Brush the top of each pie with the egg wash. Bake them on a greased or parchment lined baking sheet for about 12 minutes, until golden brown. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. these are best if served warm and best eaten on the same day they are made.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Spicy Hot Wings!

These hots wings are the BEST! I LOVE a good hot wing and these are the best. Why are they the best? THEY AREN'T FRIED!!! Serious. I scored this recipe from my Food Network Favorites cookbook. On a side note, now that I have been checking out food blogs, I see that there are a bunch of complainers about Food Network. Who the hell cares if these chef's wash their hands after touching chicken on their aren't eating it! I could watch Food Network ALL DAY, and some days I do! I am a Food Network Junkie! Which is an added bonus for all of you.

Now, back to these KICK ASS Hot Wings! The recipe is from Dave Lieberman. Alex and I argue all the time as to whether or not Dave Lieberman is gay. Alex thinks he is and I disagree...I'm curious for your feedback. :) One way or the other, Dave Lieberman has hit the Jackpot with his Hot Wings and we love him!

This is the simplest recipe EVER! Check it out:

Spicy Chinese Five-Spice-Rubbed Chicken Wings
with Creamy Cilantro Dipping Sauce:
40 chicken wing pieces or 20 whole chicken wings
2 tablespoons Chinese five-spice powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Creamy Cilantro Dipping Sauce (see recipe below)

Creamy Cilantro Dipping Sauce:
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 cup light sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup plain yogurt
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 500 F. If you have whole chicken wings, cut off wing tips and cut the wings in half at the joint. Discard wing tips or freeze to make stock. Place the wings in a large bowl. Sprinkle five-spice powder and cayenne on the wings; add generous pinches of salt and about 15 grinds of black pepper. Rub the mixture into all the wings until no more loose rub remains.

Line the wing pieces up on a baking sheets so the sides of the wing that has the most skin is facing up. Roast until cooked through, browned and crispy, about 25 minutes. Serve hot with Creamy Cilantro Dipping Sauce.
When you make this recipe, put tin foil down on the baking sheet so you don't end up with a huge mess! It makes clean up easy!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Yummiest Cupcakes EVER!...I mean muffins

HOLY CRAP! These are the BEST muffins ever....yes, they are actually called 'muffins', but they are the most decadent muffins I have ever had...maybe it's all the butter the recipe calls for. The caption to this recipe actually says, ' No need to butter these, they are rich and delicious au naturel'. These are better than birthday cake!
This recipe comes from a cook book my sister-in-law, Anne, gave me for Christmas a couple of years ago called, The Pastry Queen by Rebecca Rather. She has a bakery in Texas called Rather Sweet Bakery & cafe.

The recipe says it yeilds 'About 8 Texas size muffins'....but it yeilded me 6 large muffins and 12 small muffins. It makes me wonder if Texans say stuff like that to make the rest of us feel inferior. I can't begin to imagine how big those 'Texan size muffins' turn turns out the recipe says '3 1/2 inches in diameter and 2 inches deep'.

Essence of Orange Muffins:
1 cup Milk
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Zest of 1 orange, preferably organic

Orange Glaze
1 /4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon grated orange zest, preferably organic

To make the muffins: Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease 8 Texas-size (3 1/2 inches in diameter and 2 inches deep) muffin cups with butter or cooking spray or line them with muffin wrappers. Whisk together the milk, orange juice, sour cream, eggs and butter in a medium mixing bowl. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients and stir just until the flour is incorporated. Gently fold the orange zest into the batter and fruit if you are adding.

Spoon the batter into the muffin pan, filling each cup just to the top. Bake for 25 minutes, until they are golden grown around the edges and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the muffins in the pan for about 5 minutes, then transfer them to a cooling rack and glaze. (This would be a good time to eat them, too.)

To make the glaze: combine the orange juice, powdered sugar and zest in a medium bowl. spread the mixture on top of each muffin. Serve warm or at room temperature.

This recipe has a kick ass glaze! I have tried other recipes that you cook the glaze to melt the sugar and it is always too watery and the muffin or bread you are making completely absorbs it and stays wet. This creates an actual glaze. ENJOY!!!!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Meat and Salad

We had my mom over for dinner tonight. She got to benefit from this week's blog cooking. :) I made an oldie, but modified it to be a goodie...Spinach -Stuffed Turkey Meat Loaf from the Williams Sonoma Eassentials of Healthful Cooking.

I HATE meat loaf, but this recipe ROCKS! Alex and I have made this recipe before and it was pretty good. The tomato sauce that the recipe calls for is a bit too exotic for me, so I concocted my own this time and it turned out FABULOUS!!! I have included the recipe as it is in the book so you can see how exotic it is and try it out for your self and then I will tell you what I did to change it up.

I love how pretty this recipe plates up. I dig the 'pin wheel' look of this meat loaf. It makes me feel creative each time I make it.

Spinach-Stuffed Turkey Meat Loaf
1 1/2 teaspoon canola oil
6 slices white bread, crusts removed and bread torn into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup milk
2 lbs ground turkey breast
2 tablespoons Dijon Mustard
2 teaspoons dried oregano
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 large egg white

For the Stuffing:
2 lbs fresh spinach or 1 lb frozen chopped spinach
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 green onions, green tender tops only chopped
1 large egg white
Freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup grated Romano cheese
4-5 cups Spicy Tomato Sauce
1 teaspoon grated orange zest (too exotic for me)

Line a cookie pan with aluminum foil and brush with 1/2 teaspoon of canola oil.

In a bowl, using a fork, mash the bread with the milk until the milk is fully absorbed. Squeeze the bread to eliminate excess milk. In another bowl, using a fork, combine the turkey, mustard, oregano 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add the soaked bread and egg white and mix until creamy 2-3 minutes. Spread in the prepared pan to make an even layer. Cover the pan with plastic wrap. Refrigerate 1-3 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

To make the stuffing, thaw frozen spinach in microwave for two minutes and squeeze excess water out. Heat olive oil in sauce pan and add spinach and green onions. Heat through until dry and fluffy. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Stir in the egg white and season generously with pepper.

Take meat from refrigerator and spread stuffing evenly over the meat. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the stuffing. Lifting the foil along the long side facing you, roll up the meat and stuffing like a jelly roll, pushing it foward a bit at a time and lifting the foil away, until a long log has formed. Brush with the olive oil and center it on the pan.

Bake the meat loaf uncovered, until an instant read thermometer inserted into the center registers 170 F about 1 hour. Let rest for 15 minutes. In sauce pan combine the tomate sauce and orange zest and heat until hot. Spoon 1/2 cup of the sauce onto each plat. Cut the meat loaf into 8 to 10 slices. Place a slice in the center of the sauce and serve.

Spicy Tomato Sauce: Again, this is the Williams Sonoma version, I made it more like an Italian pasta/pizza sauce. I added Oregano, Thyme, basil and red pepper flakes. I can't even begin to tell you how much I used because I just tossed it in.

1 teaspoon freshly ground white or black pepper (or red pepper flakes if you like the spice!)
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (too exotic for me)
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger (too exotic for me)
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves (too exotic for me)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can (28 oz.) whole plum tomatoes with juice
1 can (28oz.) chopped tomatoes with juice
2 cups (16 fl. oz.) tomato sauce

In a large Dutch oven or other deep heavy pot over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion and saute until beginning to soften, about 4 minutes. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and cook untl it releases its juices, about 5 minutes. Stir in the minced garlic.

Add the plum tomatoes and their juice. Using a wooden spoon, break up the tomatoes into 1-inch chunks. Add the chopped tomatoes and their juices and the tomato sauce and then stir in spices (again, use your judgement on the spices). Raise the heat to medium-high and bring the sauce to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the sauce has the thickness of tomato puree 15-20 minutes.

Remove form the heat and use immediately or let cool, cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 2 months.

Waldorf Salad:
We served this 'Meat Loaf' up with a yummy Waldorf Salad that I got from Williams Sonoma too. I LOVE WS recipes. You can put anything you want in your salad, but the BEST part is the dressing that accompanies this recipe. I use it all the time for veggie wraps. Is sweet and tangy and smooth.
Waldorf Salad Dressing:
3/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon fresh mint - I substituted dried mint because the store didn't have fresh mint and my mint is still to small to harvest.
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Again, you can add apples, pecans, celery, red bell peppers lettuce...any thing you choose.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Southwestern Egg Rolls

I scored this recipe from (again, THANKS, Mindie!) This is a GREAT recipe! Alex and I LOVE Chili's Southwestern Egg Roll appetizers and this recipe nails it! Make if often and when you do, think of Alex and I...and the mormon house wifes we got the recipe from. LOL!
When Alex and I BBQ'd up the cedar smoked salmon from the 4th of July, we also cooked up some chicken breasts, spicy sausage links and pork
tenderloin. The grilled chicken worked wonderfully with this recipe. All I had to do was chop it up and throw it into the pan. I chopped the chicken up finely because I don't like big chuncks of meat. Alex and I dig spicy food so I added a red and green jalapeno for spicy factor leaving in all the seeds. I tell you, I am REALLY liking the red jalapenos. They have such amazing flavor. I used the fresh uncooked tortillas from Costco, they are PERFECT for this recipe. Since you are cooking them fresh...they are already nice and pliable.

When you add the chicken and veggie mixture, don't add too much. You'll be tempted, but they will get fat and squishy...not squishy as in wet squishy, but they hold to together better if they are smaller. I rolled them up like a burrito and put them on a cookie pan with a silpat and brushed the top with olive oil and cooked them for 7 minutes at 375 degrees with an additional 2 minutes on broil to make sure they are brown and crispy.
This picture here to the left is Alex's handy work. He thinks he should be taking pictures for William Sonoma cookbooks now. I have the cutest husband ever...and a fun new camera to share our cooking escapades!

Everything about this recipe ROCKS!!!!!!

Southwestern Egg Rolls & Avocado Dipping Sauce1 Chicken breast fillet
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
2 Tablespoons green onion, minced
1/3 cup corn
¼ cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
2 Tablespoons frozen spinach, thawed & drained
1 small can green chilies
½ Tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon salt
dash cayenne pepper
1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
flour tortillas

For eggrolls; grill or cook the chicken in a frying pan until golden brown and cooked through. Remove chicken and set aside. Saute the onion and red pepper in a saute pan with 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil, until tender. Cut the chicken into cubes and add to onions and peppers. Add the corn, black beans, spinach, chilies, parsley and seasoning and warm until spinach is separated and soft. Remove from heat and add cheese.

Warm the tortillas slightly so they are more pliable. In the center of the tortilla, put a large scoop of the mixture and wrap up very tightly. You can hold with a toothpick if you need. Preheat 4-6 cups of oil to 375 degrees. Deep fry the egg rolls in the hot oil for 12-15 minutes and remove to a paper towel or rack to drain for about 2 minutes. For a healthier version of these egg rolls, grill the tortilla wraps or put them on a George Forman with a little olive oil to give them nice grill lines and warm them up until cheese is melted. Slice each egg roll diagonally lengthwise and arrange on a plate around a small bowl of the dipping sauce.

Avocado Ranch Dipping Sauce:
¼ cup smashed, fresh avocado (about half an avocado)
¼ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup sour cream
1 Tablespoon buttermilk
1 ½ teaspoon white vinegar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon dried parsley
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
dash dried dill weed
dash garlic powder
dash pepper
Blend all Ingredients of dipping sauce together until smooth.

Friday, July 4, 2008

4th of July

As far as 4th of July goes, this was a pretty SWEET 4th of July. I got an insane amount done today! I made three belated-birthday cards for my nieces, Megan and Erin and my nephew Sean. I hit the gym and ran 5K...without slowing down...except for the time I accidentally hit the stop button when I was peeling some tape off the tread mill...SERIOUSLY!!! I signed up for a web site (thanks Mindie!) that shows you the grocery deals around town and then went shopping! After dinner Alex and I hit the fireworks in Layton.
The recipes for today: Cedar Grilled Salmon Tacos with Mango Salsa & Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwiches on Chocolate Cookies.
I started with the Ice Cream so it could spend some time in the refrigerator before putting it into the ice cream maker. I always skip that step because I am so excited to have yummy ice cream! It definitely benefits the recipe to cool it before throwing it into the ice cream makes it thicker and more custard like.
I shaved a bitter sweet chocolate bar with a potato peeler...which irritated Alex because he wanted 'Big Chips' of chocolate in his ice cream. I don't like 'Big Chips', so we did it my way.
Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
4 Egg Yolks
1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Mint Extract
2 cups Heavy Cream
2 cups Half and Half
½ teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 pinch Salt
1/2 cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
Green & Blue Food Coloring

Beat the egg yolks, sugar, and mint extract together in a small bowl until smooth and pale yellow. Set aside.

Set aside 1/2 cup milk. Combine the cream, remaining milk and vanilla in a saucepan heat to not quite a boil and stir frequently for 5 minutes.

Prepare an ice bath by placing ice cubes in a large bowl and adding enough water to cover them. Set aside.

Whisking constantly, pour a small amount of the hot cream mixture into the egg mixture. Then pour all the egg/cream mixture back into the remaining cream mixture. Stir constantly over medium-low heat until thickened. It should coat the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining 1/2 cup milk.

Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl and immerse it in the ice bath. Stir until completely chilled. Stir in the green and blue food coloring a few drops at a time until the mixture reaches the desired color (blue food coloring will give mixture a darker color of green). Chill the mixture for 4 hours….or less if you are impatient.

Transfer mixture to ice cream maker and follow manufacturer directions.
I found a great recipe for chocolate cookies at Christmas time and decided to use it for the cookie part of my ice cream sandwich. Since we were going with Mint Ice Cream, I thought it appropriate to add smashed candy canes left over from Christmas for added flavor. The only draw back from these cookies is that they don't spread out while cooking. I made this same mistake when I made them at I should have remembered, but they turned out stocky versus the flatter cookies I was hoping to turn into Sandwiches. When we tried to put the sandwiches together...yeah, it didn't work they way I wanted, so they will make a nice side to the Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream.
Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
1/4 teaspoon salt1 cup sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg
1/4 cup crushed red-and-white-striped candy canes or hard peppermint candies (about 2 ounces)

Preheat oven to 375 F. Combine flour, cocoa, and salt in medium bowl and set aside. In a separate larger bowl, beat sugar and butter until well blended. Beat in egg. Add dry ingredients; beat until blended. Refrigerate dough 1 hour. Cook for 10-12 minutes.
Cedar Grilled Salmon Tacos with Mango Salsa
Normally when I make these fish tacos, I use tomatoes instead of mango, but Alex wanted mango salsa so I thought I would indulge. I also changed up the heat I normally use. I combined both red jalapenos and green jalapenos for some serious heat! But the flavor was HEAVEN!
Cedar Grill Salmon
2 pieces Salmon
Cedar Plank
Soak Cedar Plank in cold water for 20 minutes. Spray plank with pam to keep salmon from sticking to the plank while grilling. Put soaked plank on grill and cook for 12 minutes until salmon cooked through.
Mango Salsa
1 Mango cut into small pieces
1 small Red Onion diced
1 Red Jalapeno diced (with or without seeds)
1 Green Jalapeno diced (with or without seeds)
1/4 cup Cilantro roughly chopped
Juice of 1 Lime
Pinch of Salt
Combine all ingredients and let flavors meld together for 30 minutes.
Heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in frying pan and put corn tortilla into pan. Heat the tortilla through on both sides. Fill tortilla with cooked salmon, breaking into bite sized pieces and scoop salsa on top. ENJOY!!!