Fresh Cherry Clafouti

I made this today with another variation – 2/3 cherries and 1/3 blueberries. I could pretty much could live off of fresh berries and fruit this time of year. It was amazing….

Source: Fresh Cherry Clafouti

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Hawaiian Pineapple Crockpot Chicken

On Sundays, I rarely want to make plans – I like to see how I feel as the day goes along – and many Sundays I don’t feel like spending hours in the kitchen. Here’s a great recipe for those lazy Sundays…or Mondays…or

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1 package (approx. 1.5 lb) boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 6 oz can pineapple juice

1/3 cup reduced sodium soy sauce

1/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

1/2 cup BBQ sauce

3/4 cup fresh pineapple, chopped into half inch chunks

Place all ingredients into a crock pot on LOW for 6 hours. I serve this with red pepper brown rice mixed with 2 tbsp mango salsa. This dinner is so easy and delicious you will want to make it all the time. You can also make this as a party appetizer – just chop the chicken into two inch chunks before cooking and serve right in the crock pot. Aloha!

 

Caribbean Rum Coconut Pie

I have been absent from this blog (but not from the kitchen) for a few months. There have been many recipes that haven’t made it from the kitchen to the computer – other priorities beckoned. I just returned from St. Croix and enjoyed many delicious fresh coconut dishes. The one thing I was craving was coconut cream pie – but there was none to be found on the island (I checked)  Here’s a great recipe I created today that is short on prep time and big on taste.

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Ingredients:

1 ready to bake rolled pie crust, brought to room temperature
1 1/4 cups sweetened flaked coconut
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups half and half
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon good quality vanilla bean paste or extract

2 tablespoons dark rum

1 cup tru whip or cool whip, thawed

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Carefully roll out pie crust onto 9 inch pie plate, using  pie weights to help keep shape. Bake 8-10 minutes, until lightly browned. Let cool.

Decrease oven temperature to 230 degrees F.
Spread the coconut out evenly on a baking sheet and bake it, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 5 -10 minutes.
In a medium saucepan, combine the half-and-half, eggs, sugar, flour and salt and mix well. Bring to a boil over low heat, stirring constantly. Add rum and continue stirring consistently for 1 minite more. Remove the pan from the heat, and stir in 3/4 cup of the toasted coconut and the vanilla extract.
Pour the filling into the pie shell and chill until firm, about 3-4 hours.
top with whipped topping and with the remaining coconut. Store leftovers lightly covered in the refrigerator.

Slow Cooker Browned Beef Stew

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This is a super easy way to have a hot and savory dinner on the table fast. I took another 10 minutes to make some Bisquick biscuits to top it off.  This recipe makes 4-6 hearty servings.

Ingredients:

2 1/2 pounds cubed beef stew meat

2 tablespoons all purpose flour

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 can Campbell’s Golden Mushroom Soup

8 ounces water

2 medium potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes

1/2 pound baby carrots

1 small onion, sliced

1/2 cup red wine

2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon salt

pepper to taste

Directions:

Place cubed beef in ziploc bag, and toss with flour. Place in heated saucepan with olive oil and brown beef evenly on each side – approximately 10 minutes.

Add beef, soup, water, onion, carrots and potatoes to crockpot. Cook on “high” for 5 1/2 hours.  Stir in wine and remaining ingredients and cook an additional 30 minutes.

Notes: Make sure you buy “golden mushroom” soup and not cream of mushroom soup. I found some nice rainbow baby heirloom carrots and they added a colorful touch to the dish. You can use any hearty red wine  – I used Barbera but pretty much any red wine will work. If you have port, that is even better…

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Summer Tomato Crostini with Whipped Feta

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Happy end of summer! I love late August – it finally starts to cool off around here (meaning the temperatures finally start to dip into the double digits), and people who have gardens have so many extra veggies they start giving them away. They magically appear in the break room at work and in little plastic bags on your front doorstep- yay! The tomatoes are perfect- they have fully ripened on the vine and taste nothing like those red cardboard globes you find in the produce section in January. This dish is both easy to make and really delicious – and there is no such thing as using too much garlic in it….promise.

Adapted from Barefoot Contessa Foolproof by Ina Garten, Clarkson Potter/Publishers, All Rights Reserved

6 ounces good feta, crumbled
2 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2/3 cup good olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced shallots (2 shallots)
2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
2 tablespoons good red wine vinegar
2 pounds ripe heirloom or cherry tomatoes, 1/2-inch-diced
1/2 sourdough or french baguette, sliced on the diagonal

3 tablespoons julienned fresh basil, plus more for garnish

For the whipped feta, place the feta and cream cheese in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse until the cheeses are mixed. Add 1/3 cup of the olive oil, the lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and process until smooth.

For the tomatoes, up to an hour before your’re serving, combine the shallots, garlic, and vinegar in a medium bowl. Set aside for 5 minutes. Whisk in the remaining 1/3 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Add the tomatoes, stir gently, and set aside for 10 minutes. Stir in the basil and taste for seasonings.

Place baugette slices on a foil lined pan and set oven to broil for 4-5 minutes.

To assemble the crostini, spread each slice of bread with a generous amount of whipped feta. With a slotted spoon, place the tomatoes on top. Put the crostini on plates and sprinkle with extra basil and serve.

Grilled Tri Tip Steak Salad

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We are doing some serious grilling around here in the month of June – nothing tastes like summer like delicious veggies and/or meat with a little char on it, right? This is a really awesome summer recipe that features two things native to California – Tri Tip steak and Sriracha Red Chili Sauce – the latter which has been in serious danger of disappearing from the grocery store after a year long drama. I never believed LA could be swept up in a pepper factory drama – but if you haven’t heard about it you can read the back story at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2014/05/14/theres-still-a-lot-of-drama-surrounding-the-sriracha-factory-in-california/

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This is the stuff – yum!

 

Tri Tip is a cut from the bottom sirloin originally sold as ‘Santa Maria Steak” after a guy in Santa Maria, California started marketing it there in the 1950’s.  It is also popular with cooks who use it in Chili Con carne. If you haven’t tried it – you are in for a treat.

This recipe is super easy and has a really unique flavor. We never get tired of  making it – and there is enough steak left for sandwiches the next day!

Ingredients:

1 large (6 ounce or bigger) bag organic spinach (I use Trader Joe’s)

1 Tri Tip Steak, approximately 1.5 pounds

juice of 1 lime

juice of 1 orange, plus 1/2 teaspoon zest

1 tablespoon Sriracha Red Chili Sauce

4 teaspoons seasoned rice vinegar

3 teaspoons canola oil

2 teaspoons honey, divided

5 tablespoons soy sauce, divided

1 teaspoon finely shredded fresh ginger

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 red bell peppers, seeded and quartered

1/2 fresh pineapple, cut into 1 inch strips

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Heat grill  to medium heat (around 400 degrees)

In a medium bowl, mix 1 tablespoon honey, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, garlic and ginger. Place in Ziploc bag with steak, toss to coat. (If you have time to prep in the morning or are prepping overnight, even better – the longer the steak marinates, the better it is)

Grill pineapple and peppers with lid down for about 3-6 minutes, or until lightly charred. Cut into 1 inch chunks and set aside.

Whisk together lime juice, orange zest and juice, remaining 3 tablespoons soy sauce, garlic, chili sauce, rice vinegar, oil and remaining honey in a small bowl, then set this aside and turn your attention back to the grill – its time to cook the steak! If you have a 1.5 – 2 pound tri tip, you should cook it 10-12 minutes per side, turning only once. The steak will continue to cook once you take it off the grill, so don’t over cook it! It should be light pink inside and not browned all the way through. Slice into 1/4 inch pieces, then slice into strips.

Toss together the spinach, pineapple, pepper, steak and dressing in a large bowl. Serve immediately. Bon appetit!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Strawberry Cottage Pudding Shortcake

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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 in the “Fannie Farmer Cookbook” published in 1966. The original Fannie Farmer Cookbook was published in 1896 (wow) and it has been updated and revised over the years. I am not sure why the cake was called Cottage Pudding Cake – maybe someone knows that story and you will share with me.  I found the recipe and I have been experimenting with the basic recipe. This shortcake is like a big sweet biscuit with a wonderful buttery vanilla flavor and a little bit of almond that really brings out the flavor of the berries. If you don’t want to buy buttermilk just for this recipe, then you can just substitute all milk instead of 1/2 and 1/2. I ran out of milk last time and I used all buttermilk and it turned out wonderfully! It is really important to macerate the berries for a few hours if you can on the countertop.  To macerate strawberries, all you have to do is sprinkle sugar on them, which draws out their juices so they become soft and sweet and deliciously saucy. This is the secret to the perfect deliciousness that is this strawberry shortcake recipe!

Ingredients:

2 cups minus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup vegetable shortening

1 cup plus 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided

1 egg

1/8 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (you can substitute good vanilla extract)

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 inch round layer cake pan with flour based nonstick cooking spray. Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl; set aside. Beat the shortening and sugar on medium speed with an electric stand mixer until light and fluffy. Don’t skimp on this step – it takes 3-5 minutes to get the right consistency. Add the egg, almond extract and vanilla bean paste and combine. Pour in the flour mixture alternatively with the milks, mixing on low speed until just incorporated. Do not overmix. Pour the batter into the pan and bake 25-28 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. This is a lightly browned, buttery sugary shortbread that is ready for your fresh berries!

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Clean, de stem and slice 2 quarts of fresh strawberries. Place in bowl with 1/8 cup water and sprinkle with 3 tablespoons granulated sugar. Let sit on countertop, stirring occasionally, for a few hours to macerate. To assemble, slice one 3″ piece of cake and split in half lengthwise. add 3/4 cup berries and top with your favorite whipped cream. I saw another farm stand on the way home and the cherries are ripe now for the whole month of May. Stay tuned for the most amazing cherry cloufiti recipe ever…..