Sunday, June 15, 2014

Marinated Tomatoes

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One of my favorite things about food is all the food memories that are tied to it.  The way eating your grandmother's pie always reminds you of the holidays or how a picture of smores remind you of your favorite camping trip.  Most people have loads of memories that are evoked from food.  A smell can tell a story and a taste can bring back an old emotion, food and food memories are a powerful thing.

When I was around 17 years old, I went to a family reunion for my mother's side in New York.  One day I came into the kitchen to find my dad, aunts, great aunts and consins all standing around a counter talking in loud excited voices.  Moving closer I heard them exclaiming how great whatever they were eating was.

So, I moved closer still and saw it was some sort of tomato dish.  I wasn't a fan of tomatoes at the time, so I back away.  I listened for a while as my dad went on and on about how tasty something so simple was.  My dad tried pulling me into the conversation and the food.  "Just try it" he said.  "This is what it's all about Brittany, just one bite."

Who was I to say no, I've spoken often on here about how picky I used to be and fruit, pasta and bread were starting to get redundant.  So I gave this tomato dish a whirl.  It just be true that sometimes fathers know best.  This crazy dish I was so afraid of was something as simple as sliced tomatoes, basil leaves and gorgonzola cheese for an appetizer.  Sprinkle that with a little salt and black pepper and you have bite-sized perfection (or two bite perfection for big tomato slices).

That day changed the way I thought about tomatoes though, and most importantly the way that I thought about food.  The ingredients were so simple, but they are pairings that have gone together for years.  It's something I will never forget because it taught me that simplicity must never be over rated.  Sometimes letting a few ingredients stand alone together is the best thing you can do for a dish.

Since then I have grown to use tomatoes a lot more in my cooking.  This recipe came to be because my dad's birthday was coming up and I wanted something to honor the memory that meant so much to me.  It's a mix of that fateful dish in New York, a tomato recipe my mom sent me and my love of balsamic vinegar.

~~~Seems just right to post this recipe on Father's Day given my dad's profound influence.  So to him I say I love you and wish you the happiest of day.  Thanks for always getting me excited about food, even when my food groups consisted of fruit and carbs and your a meat guy.  And happy Father's Day to all the other dad's out there!

Enjoy :)

Marinated Tomatoes
Makes about 2 cups (24 appetizer pieces)
15-20 basil leaves, chopped
1 bunch parsley, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 sprigs thyme, leaves removed
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
6 Roma tomatoes, quartered
1/2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp. kosher salt
Blue cheese crumbles or feta cheese *
1 baguette, sliced thinly on a bias, grilled or toasted

1.  In a large bowl, mix together all the ingredients except the tomato wedges, cheese and baguette.
2.  Add in the tomatoes wedges and toss to coat.
3.  Marinate at room temperature for 2-4 hours, stirring the mixture every 45 minutes to an hour.  Serve with grilled baguette slices.

*You can use your preference for the cheese, I made this for my dad and his favorite is blue cheese, but I have also used feta as well (which is the cheese that is pictured).

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Strawberry Drinks

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It's strawberry season!

Love love love strawberries, and not just in my desserts but in salads, salsas, sauces, and sandwiches (the 4 S's!!).  But most of all I love myself a little strawberry action in my drinks.  It's the perfect flavor and it pairs beautifully with so many other fruits, juices or other flavored drinks.  

So while looking for yummy summer cocktails to make that used strawberries, I decided to just do a round-up and post of the strawberry drinks that I was looking at.  There's a little bit of everything going take a look and enjoy and hopefully it will inspire you guys to try some strawberry drinks of your own.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Cake Batter Butterscotch Cookies with Lemon Curd Icing

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Simple and easy is the name of the game today....I'm taking semi-homemade style.

Everyone once in awhile, a girl just wants an easy recipe.  Something that takes most of the work out of the job and leaves you with something that is quick and easy and most importantly....delicious!

Inspired by Gimme Some Oven's Strawberry Lemonade Cookies, this is my take on a cake batter cookies.  I've added butterscotch chips to my batter, but you can go with white chocolate (which is what I am doing next time, I LOVE white chocolate) or any other kind you prefer.  Change it up and make it your own, I promise it will still be oh-so-yummy.

For the icing I cheated again and bought store-bought frosting.  I gave it a little personality by adding in some of my homemade Lemon Curd and ended up with delicious tiny little cookies to enjoy.  There is even enough so that you can share with others...if you choose too. :)


 Cake Batter Butterscotch Cookies with Lemon Curd Icing
1 (15.25 oz.) box vanilla cake mix
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1-2 cups butterscotch chips
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup vanilla frosting
4 tbsp. lemon curd

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2.  Using a large bowl, pour in the vanilla cake mix.  Add eggs and vegetable oil to the cake mix and mix until well combined.  Fold in butterscotch chips so they are evenly distributed throughout the batter.  Cover and refrigerate to firm slightly, about 20 minutes.
3.  Remove batter from fridge and using a tablespoon spoon out portions and roll into a ball.  Place dough balls in a bowl with the powdered sugar and roll around to lightly cover in powdered sugar.  After place on parchment lined sheet tray, about 2 inches apart.  Repeat with remaining dough.
4.  Bake for 10 minutes, until they are just slightly golden and cooked through.  Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.
5.  Lemon Curd Icing:  In a small bowl combine the vanilla frosting and lemon curd, stirring to completely combine.  When cookies have cooled slightly, drizzle icing over cookies and ENJOY!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Peach Mango Sangrias

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A good summer drink is something that can make or break a perfect summer day. 
     At least to me it can feel that way.

The right flavors, the perfect lightness.  Just the right amount of sweet or the perfect amount of tang.
Its what makes a summer drink, a SUMMER  drink. 

And what better combination then peach and mango.  It's something I love to blend together for a smoothie, so I thought why can't I put a spin on it and make it something to enjoy poolside or at the next summer cookout you host.

And so the Peach Mango Sangria was born.  Top it off with some lemons and limes to bring some acidity to your drink and this makes the perfect little (or big if your like me) drink to impress your guests or just indulge in at home.

I have to plug this part in...when I originally made this, I bought all of the ingredients and a bottle of Moscoto. 

Well...the wine didn't last before I made the Sangrias, because I had the bottle that night (OOPS)

So like any good parent my mom came to the rescue with a bottle of Riesling she got in Keuka Lake from Bully Hills Vineyard.

This is not an ad, I don't do promos (yet) but I had to sample first (duh!) to make sure it was the right wine for the drink.

Mind blown, I don't usually like Riesling and this would convert me, just sweet enough but not too dry (if your a sweet wine gal like my momma) but it was just perfect and I didn't even miss not having Moscoto.
Sign me up, I can't wait to blog about the vineyard when I'm there in July...which means stay tuned :)

Enjoy :)

Peach Mango Sangria
Makes 5-6 quarts
750 ml bottle white wine, Moscoto or Riesling
4 cups mango juice or nectar
I 1/2 liter Sprite (lemon - lime soda)
2 cups white rum
2 cups Peach schnapps
2 1/2 cups orange juice
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup lime juice
4 peaches, cut into thin wedges
3 lemons, sliced thinly
3 limes, sliced thinly
3 mangos, diced

1.  Place all on the liquid ingredients into a large pitcher abs stir to combine.
2.  Add in all of your cut fruit. 

Instead of dicing mango, blend mango with 2 cups water and place in ice cube trays and freeze.  Complete steps 1 and 2 and add mango ice cubes when read to serve.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Spicy Corn Salad

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Summer weather is right around the corner and with Memorial Day weekend starts for many the unofficial kick off to summer!  

Which in turn means lots of cookouts, and this weekend is usually the first of many.  

Whether your throwing the party or loading up your cooler and making the trek to a friends, cookouts are an American right of passage that most every adult can look back on with fond childhood memories (and adult ones too).

And of course, you can't have a cookout without the food.  That's the best part...Besides some of the tasty beverages. 

There are just endless possibilities of things you can do and so many different little traditions that people have.  Growing up, a go-to was always corn on the cob, cooked with a little salt and pepper and smothered in butter.

I figured, now's the time to jazz that side dish up and take the spice up a notch!!!

This is corn salad with a twist...
          Yummy charred corn, spicy fresh jalapeƱos, bright cilantro and salty addicting feta cheese brings life to this new corn salad and drool worthy flavors and aromas.

Enjoy :)

Spicy Corn Salad
Makes 4 servings
2 tablespoons butter
3 cups corn (about 4 ears), cut from the cob
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely diced
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 glove garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
1 handful cilantro, chopped
1 lime, juice
1 tbsp. chili powder
1/2 cup feta, crumbled, plus extra for serving
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1.  Melt the butter in a heavy skillet oven medium-high heat.
2.  Add the corn, toss and let it sit cooking until charred, mix it up a bit and let it char again, the whole process takes about 6-10 minutes.
3.  Add the jalapenos, garlic and shallots, and sauce for a minute or two until soft and then remove from heat.
4.  Mix everything together in a large bowl. Serve warm or at room temperature, with extra feta sprinkled on top.  

***Alternative version for grilling.  Using 4-5 ears of corn, grill corn until the kernels are slightly charred and corn is cook.  When cool enough to handle, cut corn kernels off and set aside.  Using the butter called for, lightly saute jalapeno, garlic and shallot until aromatic and softened over medium-high heat, about 2-3 minutes.  Add in the grilled corn kernels and toss together with the jalapeno-shallot mixture and heat through, 1-2 minutes.  Remove from heat and resume with step 4 above.