The perfect summer cocktail – the watermelon martini!

This is everyone’s new favorite summer cocktail! I bought a sugar baby seedless watermelon from the farm stand north of Yuba City this week. The 4th seemed like the perfect time to try a new cocktail so I juiced the watermelon in my juicer and ended up with the perfect cocktail starter!

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 Ingredients:

8 ounces fresh watermelon juice

3 ounces Absolut vodka

2 ounces simple syrup

juice of one lime

granulated sugar, for rimming the glasses

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled half full of ice. Pour into chilled martini glasses that have been rimmed with sugar. Top with a basil sprig. Serves two, but you will need to make more….

Easy Peach Blackberry Pie

Today we bought some amazing blackberries from the local roadside stand. The owner told us that his wife had just picked them this morning. We dug in as soon as we got home, eating them fresh right out of the box, and they were amazingly sweet and delicious. I wanted to bake something with them, so I dug out some of my old fruit pie recipes and modified one to use with the easy store bought refrigerated pie crusts. This pie is really delicious, flavorful and fresh tasting. It is not too sweet and not mushy or overcooked – the short baking time brings out the taste of the fruit while still keeping the fruit firm. The best way to top this is with a big dollop of homemade whipped cream with a sprinke of nutmeg over it. This pie is super easy to make and so worth it!

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Ingredients

3 cups fresh peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced

2 cups fresh blackberries, washed and patted dry with a paper towel

3 tablespoons cornstarch

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 box Pillsbury all ready pie crusts

2 tablespoons butter, melted

2 teaspoons cinnamon sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

fresh whipped cream, optional

Directions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Mix the fruit, cornstarch and sugar in a large bowl. Press one of the pie crusts into the bottom of a 9 inch pie pan. Pour the fruit mixture into the pie crust. Cover with the remaining pie crust and seal. Cut slits in the top of the crust to vent. Brush the top crust with the melted butter, then sprinkle the cinnamon sugar and nutmeg over the top. Bake in 450 degree oven for 12 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake another 25 to 30 minutes, until juices are bubbling and crust is browned. Let cool 30 minutes, then serve with whipped cream.

Summer Veggie Quinoa

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Everything is coming up in the garden this week! Tomatoes, peppers, all the fresh herbs. This zesty summer salad makes great use of all your garden veggies or what you picked up from the local farmer’s market. It is also low in fat and loaded with protein and vitamins.

Ingredients

3 cups flavored vegetable broth ( I like College Inn culinary broth in Thai Coconut Curry)

1 1/2 cups uncooked tricolor quinoa

1/2 cup coarsley chopped and seeded tomatoes

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

1/4 cup chopped fresh italian parsley

1/2 cup craisins (dried cranberries)

1/2 cup chopped orange bell pepper

3 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 green onions, finely chopped

1/2 cup cucumber, finely diced

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

Directions

Combine broth and quinoa in medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat. Simmer 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and fluff with fork, then set aside. In large bowl, mix together all other ingredients. Add quinoa and mix well. Refrigerate until chilled or serve at room temperature, if you prefer. This makes 8 large servings – with leftovers!

Breakfast Apricot Blueberry Crisp

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The origin of this wonderful breakfast crisp is – a road trip. A work road trip, to be exact. I spent a couple days in Redding and stopped by to say hi to Aunt Jeanette on the drive home. She has a giant apricot tree in her front yard, and it was filled with ripe apricots. We ate some right off the tree and they were amazingly sweet and tasty. She very generously offered to share some so I came home with this:

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So I had this giant box of fresh apricots and wanted to make some into a breakfast treat. This crisp is perfect for breakfast – a little tart, not too sweet and really crunchy. If you want, you can have a cup of vanilla yogurt on the side to get your protein in and kick start your day. Try substituting different fruits …plums would be great too!

Fruit mixture:

3 cups fresh apricots, stones removed and sliced into 1 inch pieces

1/2 cup fresh blueberries

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon flour

generous pinch of nutmeg, fresh if available

Combine all ingredients and spoon into a parchment lined 9 by 9 inch pan, then preheat oven to 400 degrees. It should look like this:

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Crisp Topping

4 tablespoons butter, melted

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup rolled oats

1/3 cup all purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup chopped raw almonds (or substitute my favorite Trader Joe’s candied pecans, chopped or a mixture of the two) It gives the crisp a nice crunch.

In a medium bowl, pour in melted butter.  Stir in sugar, then oats, flour, salt and almonds. Mix until combined, then use your fingers to sprinkle topping in chunks over fruit. Bake for about 30-40 minutes until topping is browned and fruit is bubbling. Serve warm.

French Toast Bake with Fresh Strawberries

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This is the perfect weekend brunch treat for friends and family. You can even prepare it the night before and store tightly covered in the fridge until you are ready to bake it. There is enough for 10-12 hungry guests!

Ingredients

1 loaf crusty french bread or brioche bread

8 eggs

2 cups whole milk

1/2 cup  heavy cream or 1/2 and 1/2

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg

struesel topping

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 stick cold butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1/2 cup candied pecans  (optional)

on the side

1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled, sliced and macerated in 1/4 cup granulated sugar.

Grease (with nonstick cooking spray or butter) a 9 by 13 inch or similar size rectangular baking pan. Tear the bread into 1 inch chunks and evenly distribute in pan. Whisk together eggs, milk, cream, sugars and nutmeg and pour evenly over bread. If you are making the night before, cover tightly and store in refrigerator. Make struesel topping, and store in sealed plastic bag.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a medium bowl, combine brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Add butter using a pastry cutter or fork, combine butter with dry ingredients until blended thoroughly and mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Bake 30 minutes, then remove from oven and top evenly with streusel topping. Return to even and bake an additional 20-30 minutes until medium brown on top. Serve immediately with hot maple syrup and macerated fresh strawberries.

Strawberry Cottage Pudding Shortcake

Susan:

I posted this almost 1 year ago today – and it is the first day I am making it again this year after purchasing some absolutely gorgeous strawberries from a roadside stand today. Go out and buy some strawberries – you must try this recipe!

Originally posted on Berries and Cocoa:

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I was driving down Highway 65 today and I saw the first “fresh strawberries” sign of the spring by the road. I tried not to spin too much gravel as I quickly did a U turn and pulled off to the side of the road.  Let me tell you, if you have never had fresh-picked-that-morning strawberries from the farmer who grew them, then you are missing out on a foodie flavor treat that simply cannot be replicated. The strawberries that are grown commercially are much sturdier and firmer since they have to travel well and stay fresh for at least 10 days in the store. They are usually picked greener too. Its like the difference between a home grown tomato and the ones you get in the produce section of Safeway. This is a wonderful shortcake recipe that is a variation of  the original Cottage Pudding Cake that was featured…

View original 479 more words

Southwest Avocado Cilantro Chop Chop Salad

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Happy Spring! I have been absent for a month and I know that is not a good thing for a blogger to do. I recently got promoted at work (yay!) but I am still doing my old job for a while too (insert descriptive and colorful adjective here) so I have been twice as busy at work.  I have still been thinking about food – trying new foods, new recipes and testing my favorites. This is an awesome spring salad recipe – crunchy, filling and packed with B vitamins and protein. It is so easy to make it will be your go to spring salad!

First – Chop Chop:

4 cups romaine lettuce, chopped into 1 inch pieces
1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
1 large orange bell pepper, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 cup corn, thawed frozen or fresh
1 cup jicama, finely chopped
4 green onions, finely chopped
1 avocado, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
2 cups diced cooked chicken breast (optional)

Next – Dressing:

1/4 cup good olive oil
1/2 avocado
3/4 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves, roughly chopped plus

1/4 cup loosely packed italian parsley, coarsley chopped
1 8 ounce container plain greek yogurt
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh garlic (I also like Christopher Ranch chopped garlic, sold in jars in the produce section of the store)
1 1/2 teaspoons wine vinegar (either red or white)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Directions:

Place all salad ingredients in large bowl. Place all dressing ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Toss salad with dressing. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Serve immediately on chilled salad plates.