Summer is all about grilling, farmers markets, and easy meals.  So this simple but delicious combination is just how I like to cook.

I like to salt & pepper any meat for several hours or overnight.  It helps with flavor and tenderness.  I added a small baste of “UB”, that’s “Urban Barbecue” sauce.  Delicious when you don’t have time to make your own.  I grilled the meat on a high flame approximately 6 minutes per side.

Fresh vegetables from the farmers market sautéed in olive oil, lemon, sea salt, and pepper.  I added leeks, padron peppers, banana peppers, garlic, and okra… makes a perfect side dish.

 

 

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recipe: cranberry apple cake

January 28th, 2014 | Posted by admin in Desserts | RECIPES - (0 Comments)

Easy and delicious are the best words to describe this dessert.  We were having another couple over for a very casual pizza & chopped salad dinner and movie.  I had picked up several flavors of gelato but just had that feeling that I needed something else to add to the dessert menu.  (I am a lover of all things sweet!!!)

I had these wonderful fresh cranberries that were frozen and I had wanted to use them… sitting on the counter were a bunch of honey crisp apples.  So I Googled easy dessert recipes using my two fruits… Ina Garten’s “Easy Cranberry Apple Cake” appeared on my screen.  I have included Ina’s recipe for you to follow, but I did add another 1/2 cup of cranberries and an additional 1/2 of an apple.  I like the fruit and it worked perfectly filling up my deep-dish pie pan.

I popped this cake in the oven only a few minutes before my guests arrived.  The recipe took maybe 20 minutes… so fast, east, and I have to say, delicious!  The cake was so good my guests took two helpings of dessert.  I hope you try this recipe and let me know what you think.  Enjoy!

 

 

INGREDIENTS:

• 12 ounces fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked over for stems
• 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and diced
• ½ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
• 1 tablespoon grated orange zest (2 oranges)
• ¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
• 1-1/8 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
• 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
• 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
• ¼ pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• ¼ cup sour cream
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

 

 

DIRECTIONS:

• Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

• Combine the cranberries, apple, brown sugar, orange zest, orange juice, and 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon in a medium bowl. Set aside.

• In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs on medium-high speed for 2 minutes. With the mixer on medium, add 1 cup of the granulated sugar, the butter, vanilla, and sour cream and beat just until combined. On low speed, slowly add the flour and salt.

• Pour the fruit mixture evenly into a 10-inch glass pie plate. Pour the batter over the fruit, covering it completely. Combine the remaining 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar and ¹/8 teaspoon of cinnamon and sprinkle it over the batter. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean and the fruit is bubbling around the edges. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

 

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recipe: snicker brittle butter cookies

December 9th, 2013 | Posted by admin in Desserts | RECIPES - (0 Comments)

The combination of Snickers and cookie dough is a match made in heaven.  Any left over candy… some still in my freezer from Halloween can be used to make these cookies.  Use your imagination and have fun!

 

INGREDIENTS:
• 2 sticks softened salted butter
• 3/4 cup light brown sugar
• 3/4 cup white sugar
• 2 eggs
• 1 Tbsp good vanilla
• 2-1/2 cups flour
• 1/2 tsp baking soda
• 3/4 cup toffee brittle
• Snickers, either mini or regular, cut up into approx. 24 cubes

INSTRUCTIONS:
• Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

• Whip together softened butter, light brown sugar, and white sugar.

• Add 2 eggs and vanilla and mix well until blended.

• Add flour and baking soda and mix.

• Add toffee brittle.

• Take a small scoop of dough, put snicker cube in the middle and roll into a round ball.

• Place on the cookie sheet and bake 10-15 minutes until edges are brown.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

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farmers market dinner

October 17th, 2013 | Posted by admin in Meals | RECIPES - (0 Comments)

We have been blessed with gorgeous weather the past several weeks, so Saturday morning at the market was wonderful.  I am a big fan of the Evanston’s Farmers market because there is so much variety and many organic gardeners selling their products.  I picked up a bag of fresh arugula, cippolini onions, heirloom tomatoes, and a variety of gorgeous purple and orange carrots.  At my next stop I filled my bags with sweet onions, beautiful white potatoes, herbed goat cheese, and fresh butter.

I didn’t stop as I found a vendor selling wonderful pork tenderloins, I couldn’t pass them up.  I added some candied onions, a variety of apples, peppers, and a delicious watermelon.  We spent the rest of the morning wandering around the different neighborhoods of Evanston.  I have always been drawn to college towns, there seems to be an added vibe of energy, creativity, and community in this beautiful town.

I decided to make a few small ramekins of apple crisp because what better dessert for fall.  Then I made quick salad of arugula, heirloom tomatoes, crumbled goat cheese, pine nuts, and cucumbers.  I used my go-to dressing, a simple vinaigrette.  But if you don’t have time to make your own use “Brianna’s”, it’s delicious!  I’m not proud but the big addition to this meal was a very delicious piping hot, extra crispy Lou’s special deep dish Pizza.  It was an easy and perfect fall Saturday night meal.

Sunday I usually feel like cooking, so in that spirit I marinated the pork tenderloins in a fabulous marinade by Jill and Jewels Elmore “The Family Chef”.  This recipe is easy, perfect for two or a crowd, and great if you are lucky enough to have leftovers!  I boiled up the white potatoes, maybe 3/4 of a pound, mashed them (skins on) with a 2 tsp of horseradish, fresh butter (4 tbsp), and a ¼ cup of cream.  I added a dash of kosher salt to taste… mmm soooo good!

I had a head of red cabbage from the last market so I shredded 1/2 of that and added thinly sliced candied onions to the cabbage.  I made a dressing of 1/2 cup of olive oil, juice of one lemon (4 tbsp approx.), 2 tbsp of horseradish, 2 cloves minced garlic, 1 tsp of sugar, 1/4 cup of mayonnaise, and dash of salt & pepper.  I use my hand emulsifier to mix and poured 1/2 over the cabbage.  (I ended up adding more but add to your taste).  For added color and spice, you can also mix in thinly sliced poblanos or whatever pepper you like to use.

My next step was to take the tenderloins out of the marinade.  You need to heat a cast iron skillet (or you can use you grill) till it looks like it is smoking, then sear and brown all sides of the tenderloins.  I had two but you can double that with the marinade recipe below.  Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and when your tenderloins are browned put them on a sheet tray and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

The tenderloins will be juicy and delicious. Wait a few minutes for the meat to set and slice.  My husband was going back for thirds until I said… I’d love a few leftovers for tomorrow!  I am excited about lunch.  This can be a summer, winter, or fall meal.  You can also heat up tortillas, add beans and guacamole and put the pork and slaw together for a great tasting meal.  I also cut up the market watermelon and drizzled reduced balsamic for a small side dish.  These are just a couple of ideas for dinner.  If you are like me the crisp air makes me want to cook… and so happy we can still enjoy the bounty of the farmer’s market.

 

RECIPE: Achiote Marinade (Inspiration & credit “The Family Chef” Jewels & Jill Elmore)

 

INGREDIENTS:
• 1/4 cup of Achiote paste (you can find at specialty markets, usually Mexican, it comes in a small block)
• Achiote marinated pork tenderloin
• 1 recipe of Achiote marinade (see above)
• 1/4 cup orange juice
• 1 1/2 tablespoons of brown sugar
• 2-4 pork tenderloins

 

INSTRUCTIONS:
• Put marinade in a large plastic Ziploc, add your meat, and keep over night.  I have also started the marinade early in the day if I happen to forget the night before.  You can use this same recipe for chicken or beef.

 

 

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I made farfel with mushrooms for my husband for years because he had asked me to.  I wasn’t that excited about the side dish but it was delicious.  I decided to use shiitake and cremini mushrooms which added to the flavor.  Another tip was to boil the farfel in chicken broth.  My husband was happy, so that makes this another go-to side dish!

 

INGREDIENTS:
• 12 ounce (2 to 2-1/2 cups, depending on the size) farfel or egg barley, toasted
• 4 ounce (1 stick) unsalted butter
• 2 large (1 pound) yellow onions, chopped (about 2 cups)
• 12 ounce (3/4 pound) mushrooms (button, shitake, or cremini) sliced or chopped
• 2 teaspoons kosher salt plus more to taste
• 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper plus more to taste
• 1 large egg (optional)
• 1/4 cup soup stock, chicken or vegetable (optional)
• 1 tablespoon unsalted butter (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS:
• Bring a large pot of salted water (4 quarts water with 1 tablespoon kosher salt) to a boil.

• Add the toasted farfel and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain, but do not rinse.

• In a large saucepan, heat the butter.

• Add the onions and sauté until translucent, 7 to 8 minutes.

• Add the mushrooms, salt and pepper and continue cooking, stirring often, until the mushrooms have given off most of their water and the mushrooms and onions are soft, about 30 minutes.

• Stir the farfel into the sautéed mushrooms and onions adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.

• Bake the farfel, stir in the egg and soup broth (if using).

• Transfer to a greased 2-quart baking dish. You can store the farfel covered in the refrigerator at this point for up to 2 days.

• Before serving, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the top browns and the farfel is heated through.

 

 

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recipe: grilled open face sandwiches

September 18th, 2013 | Posted by admin in Entrées | RECIPES - (0 Comments)

After a morning at Evanston’s Farmers Market, I had fresh arugula, heirloom tomatoes, and sweet onions in my bag.  I had also picked up a loaf of fresh bread, prosciutto, and sliced mozzarella from my favorite small Italian grocery store, Poeta’s in Highwood.  It was a gorgeous day and several people were stopping over, so I decided to make an open face sandwich with all my purchased goodies.

Heat, clean, and oil your grill.  Cut your loaf of bread in half and drizzle it with olive oil.  Place the bread open side down to crisp and grill, being careful not to burn.  Take your bread off the grill and set aside.  Finely dice several cloves of garlic and sprinkle over bread.  Next I cut up all my goodies from the morning shopping trip.  I sliced my tomatoes and onions, washed my arugula, and snipped and diced some fresh basil from my potted garden.  I sliced a ripe avocado (drizzle lime juice over the slices to prevent browning) and sliced the prosciutto and cheese.

Now it’s time to have fun!  I made one sandwich with meat and veggies and one with avocado and veggies.  The important thing to remember is start with a layer of cheese and end with cheese on top.  You can layer your veggies and herbs also adding a dash of kosher salt and cracked pepper.  The next step is to place them back on the grill until the cheese melts being careful not to burn the bread.  Slice and serve!

 

 

 

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recipe: summer vegetable ceviche

September 17th, 2013 | Posted by admin in Meals | RECIPES - (0 Comments)

This recipe is fresh, delicious, and bursting with summer flavors.  Try adding your favorite vegetables.  Remember the fresh lime is the key to bringing out the best taste.  It is inspired by a recipe from David Frenkiel and Luise Vendahl of Green Kitchen Stories.

 

INGREDIENTS:
• 1 cup fresh lima beans (from about 1-1/2 pounds in the pod) or other shelling bean (frozen and cooked)
• 1 tsp finely grated lime zest
• 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
• 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
• 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 scallion, thinly sliced
• 1 jalapeño, seeded and thinly sliced
• 1 small shallot, thinly sliced

• Sea salt
• 1-1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (from 2 ears)
• 2 nectarines, cut into thin wedges (optional)
• 8oz edamame
• 2 small cucumbers, skin on
• 1-1/2 avocados, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
• 1 large orange bell pepper, finely julienned
• 1 pint heirloom cherry tomatoes or mixed heirloom, halved
• 1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro

 

 

INSTRUCTIONS:
• Prepare lima beans and edamame until tender, about 10 minutes.

• Drain the beans and rinse under cold water.

• In a large bowl, whisk the lime zest and juice with the olive oil, scallion, jalapeño, and shallot; season the dressing with salt.

• Fold in the lima beans, corn nectarines, avocado, orange pepper, cucumbers, and tomatoes.

• Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

• Fold in cilantro, just before serving and serve chilled.

Make ahead, the salad can be refrigerated for up to 8 hours.

 

 

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recipe: peach dumplings with bourbon sauce

September 13th, 2013 | Posted by admin in Desserts | RECIPES - (0 Comments)

If there is one dessert you need to try it’s this one.  It’s peaches to perfection!  I happen to loves peaches simply sliced off the pit, nothing added.  But when you fill it with a mixture of brown sugar and butter and wrap it in a wonderful puff pastry, then top it with an amazing bourbon sauce… you have the best dessert ever!  The crust is warm and crunchy, the sauce is melting over the dumpling, and a caramel goodness is oozing out of the dough.  It’s so good!  I credit another blogger Deb Perlman of Smitten Kitchen with this recipe.  I used premade dough, only Dufour, but it’s not hard to make your own.  Enjoy!  Let me know what you think.

 

FILLING INGREDIENTS:
• 3 large peaches
• 1/3 cup (65 grams) light or dark brown sugar
• Pinch of salt
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• Few fresh gratings of nutmeg, or a pinch of ground
• 1 tablespoon butter, cut into 6 pieces, kept cold
• 1 large egg, for glaze

SAUCE INGREDIENTS:
• 4 tablespoons (55 grams or 1/2 stick) butter, at room temperature
• 3/4 cup (95 grams) confectioners’ sugar
• 1 tablespoon bourbon

CRUST INGREDIENTS:
• Dufour pastry dough or make your own!

 

 

INSTRUCTIONS:
• Roll pastry dough to a 12″x18″ rectangle, and divide into six 6-inch squares.  If dough gets too soft or warm while you’re rolling it, continue to the square stage, but then transfer the squares to a parchment-lined baking sheet and chill them in the freezer for a couple minutes, until they firm up again.

• Halve peaches, and remove pits.  Scoop a little but extra out of the pit so that there is more room to pack the filling.

• Mix brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg together in a little dish.

• Spoon 1 lightly packed tablespoon on top of each peach, smooshing as much of the sugar mixture as you can into the center.

• Dot the top of each with a piece of the cold butter.

• Center a peach half, cut side up, in your first pastry square.  Bring corners up to meet each other over the center (if it feels tight, or as if you’re short of dough, make sure that the dough underneath is flush with the peach curve; it tends to get slack) and seal the seams together, pinching with your fingertips.

• Arrange peach dumplings in a buttered 9″x13″ baking dish, and chill for 30 minutes.

• Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

• Whisk egg together with 1 teaspoon water to form a glaze.

• Brush glaze over the tops and exposed sides of dumplings.

• Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until pastries are puffed and bronzed on top.

• While baking, make the sauce.  Beat softened butter, confectioners’ sugar, and bourbon until smooth.

• Scrape into serving dish.  When pastries come out of oven, dollop each with a heaping spoonful of the sauce, and serve pastries with the sauce melting over the sides.

 

 

 

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Summer means Saturday Farmers Market shopping, and dinner is determined by the fresh veggies I find.  Today it was shiitake mushrooms, arugula, and these amazing garlic bulbs.  I sautéed 2 bulbs of garlic with 2 tbsp of olive oil (note the bulbs have seeds that can be pulled off the bulb and used).  I added 2 cups of cleaned and sliced shiitake mushrooms and 1/3 cup of pine nuts.  Prepare your choice of pasta al dente and set aside.  Save 1 cup of pasta water.  Add 1/2 cup of wine and the mushrooms to a sauté pan and cook for 2-3 minutes.  Add cooked pasta.  Stir in 1/4 cup of pasta water and 1/2 cup shaved parmesan.  Toss and add 1 cup of cleaned arugula.  I like to add fresh lemon zest and the juice of 1 lemon.  You can add any additional veggies that are fresh and tasty!

I have never used this type of garlic before but I loved the color and taste of the little pinkish buds.

 

 

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Flank steak is a great summer beef entree.  It’s easy and serves a crowd.  I also served this recipe on the fourth.  The marinade is delicious.  It is based on two recipes, one from Serious Eats and one from Simply Recipes.  Enjoy!

 

INGREDIENTS:
• ½ cup Worcestershire sauce
• ¼ cup soy sauce
• 3 tablespoons brown sugar
• 4 anchovy filets
• 2 cloves garlic
• 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
• 2 tablespoons tomato paste
• ½ cup vegetable oil
• 2 tablespoons chopped chives
• 1 medium shallot, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
• 1 whole flank steak, about 2 pounds

 

DIRECTIONS:
• Combine Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar, anchovies, garlic, mustard, tomato paste, and vegetable oil in a blender and blend until smooth, creamy, and emulsified.

• Transfer 1/3 of marinade to a small container, add chives and shallots, stir to combine, and reserve.

• Place flank steak inside a gallon-sized zipper-lock bag with remaining marinade. Press out air, seal bag, and allow meat to marinate, turning occasionally, for at least 1 hour and up to 12.

• Take the steak out of the marinade bag and sprinkle generously on all sides with coarse salt and freshly ground pepper. The salt and pepper will help form a savory crust on the steak.

• Place steak on the hot grill. If you are using a gas grill, cover the grill. Grill for 4-6 minutes on each side. Half way through grilling on each side, turn the steak 90° so that you get more grill marks.

• Flank steak is best eaten medium rare; well done will make it too tough. When the steak has cooked to your preferred level of doneness, remove from the grill and place on a cutting board. Cover with aluminum foil to hold in the heat and to keep the steak from drying out, and let rest for 10 minutes.

• Make very thin slices, against the grain, and at a slight diagonal so that the slices are wide.

Serves 6.

 

 

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