Sunday, July 6, 2014

4th of July

We sure had a wonderful, fun packed 4th of July weekend.  We spent time with family and friends hiking, biking, picnicking and relaxing.   While watching the fire works we were entertained by this little girl.  She orchestrated the fire works the whole time.  She was singing, Disney's Frozen "Let it Go".  How adorable is that!
For our picnic, one recipe I love making when there is going to be a crowd is my Black Bean Avocado Salsa.  It's a recipe I make all year round but in the summer when corn is available it's even better with the fresh roasted corn.  If (and that is a big IF) there is any left over it will keep in the fridge until the next day.  I just lay plastic wrap right on top of the salsa so that the avocado won't turn brown.   The next day it makes a great topping for a salad.  I just grill up some shrimp and it becomes an amazing shrimp fiesta salad.  

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Shrimp and Sweet Corn Caesar

A few weeks ago we ate at Coopers Tavern, which is in downtown Madison, Wisconsin around the Capitol Square.  It's known for European-inspired dishes, has a large selection of craft beer and the atmosphere is casual and relaxing.  They also have outdoor seating with a great view of the Capitol.  The reason for bringing up this restaurant is I had a delicious salad, Sweet Corn Caesar,  and I've been craving it ever since.  I had to recreate it at home.  This is how they make it - crisp romaine with poblano caesar dressing topped with sweet corn salsa, red peppers, avocado, hard-boiled egg, Parmesan, and croutons.  I changed it up a bit and used Marzetti's caesar dressing, roasted some sweet corn, left out the hard boil egg BUT added some sautéed shrimp and homemade croutons.  Now that I've made this salad at home I now can order something new next time I go to Cooper's Tavern.  Maybe brunch on Saturday morning!

I love making croutons with leftover hamburger/hot dog buns, works great!  They are so tender, not hard like the store bought kind.  Cut into bite size pieces and lightly coat with melted (real) butter,  sprinkle with garlic salt and toast 350 degree oven for about 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.  Tossing every 5 minutes.

This is a great way to roast sweet corn, no shucking needed.  Preheat oven to 350.  Place corn husks directly on the oven rack and roast for 30 minutes. (I used a cookie sheet when I removed them from the oven)  Peel down the husk and all the silk will slide right off.

Crisp Romaine 
Caesar Dressing (coat romaine with dressing)
Sweet Corn 
Red Peppers, chopped
Cooked Shrimp
Fresh Shaved Parmesan

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Stuffed Portobella Sandwich

My favorite place to be on a summer Saturday morning is at the Madison, Wisconsin Farmers Market.  I like to go early because the crowd really picks up after 8:00am.  My first stop is Colectivo Coffee for my favorite large triple shot, vanilla latte.  It's such a treat as it's my only latte I'll have all week.
  I never get tired of seeing our beautiful Capitol and what a beautiful morning it was. Just look at that blue sky.  Days like today I say to myself, "this is why I live in Wisconsin"!

For lunch I picked up some beautiful large portobellos and fresh spinach for stuffed portobello sandwiches.  I've made these sandwiches the last two Saturdays.  They are delicious!  
The portobellos are stuffed with sautéed spinach, artichokes and roasted red peppers then topped with  mozzarella and fresh shredded Parmesan cheese.  Served on a toasted ciabatta roll.

I first had this sandwich at The Great Dane Restaurant here in Madison.  Easy enough to make at home!


Portobello Mushroom caps (1 per sandwich) (buy large ones as they will shrink)
Stuffing: (just make enough stuffing for each portobello)
olive oil
Marinated artichoke hearts, chopped
Roasted red peppers, chopped
Baby Spinach (Spinach really cooks down so use a lot)
Shredded mozzarella and freshly shredded Parmesan for topping
Ciabatta rolls


First preheat your oven to 425 or turn on your grill.
Sauté roasted red peppers and spinach in a little olive oil for the stuffing.  Set aside.
Take the stem off the mushrooms and clean the gills off the bottom of the caps. (carefully not to break portobello use a spoon and scrape off gills)
Brush Portobellos lightly with olive oil. Place on a baking sheet (covered with foil for easy cleanup) or grill. Roast or grill for about 15-20 minutes.
When mushrooms are cooked stuff and cover with cheese, put back in oven until cheese is melted.
Serve on a toasted ciabatta bun.


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Grilled Oysters with Green Butter

I love oysters.  Growing up in Florida I've had my fill of raw, steamed and grilled oysters.  I've only had them at oyster bars and restaurants, that is, until today.  I picked up fresh oysters at Whole Foods.  The guy at the seafood counter checked each oyster to make sure  they were fresh.  If they're open and won't close they are no good.  A bad oyster can make you very sick.  Just make sure you get them from a reliable vendor because they aren't cheap and you don't want to get home and have to throw some away if they're dead.

No shucking needed, oysters can be cooked in their shells on your grill. The heat from the grill steams the oysters and pops the shells open.  I could of just eaten them steamed but topped with this green butter and parmesan took them over the top. These oysters were a delicious appetizer.  Now that it's finally grilling season I can't wait to make these again! 

Green Butter - butter, parsley, anchovy, garlic and white pepper

Green butter: (2 dozen oysters):
10 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup of parsley leaves
3 cloves of garlic
1 anchovy fillet in olive oil
1/4 tsp of ground white pepper
2 dozen medium-size oysters
freshly grated parmesan cheese (1/2 teaspoon for each oysters)
1 rustic loaf of bread, sliced and lightly grilled

Add all the ingredients for the green butter into a food-processor.  Mix until smooth.  Set aside.

Scrub the oysters with a brush or pad under running water.  If any are opened, discard them, they are dead.

Prepare the grill to high heat.

Carefully arrange the oysters on the grill and cook for about 5 minutes or until they begin to open.

Remove the oysters and place them on a baking sheet.

Using an oven mitt to hold the oysters, pry each open with an oyster knife or butter knife.  Be carefully of the hot liquid inside the oyster. Drain most of the oyster liquid out of the shells and make sure the interior is free from broken shells.  Throw away the top shell.

Fill each shell with a dollop of green butter and a sprinkle of parmesan.  Carefully put the oysters back on the grill in a way that the oysters are not slanting too much that the butter can escape.  Grill for another one to two minutes.

Place the oysters on a platter and serve while hot with the grilled baguette.  It's all about dipping the bread inside the green liquid gold.


Recipe adapted from:

Monday, May 12, 2014

Strawberry Rhubarb Jelly

It's rhubarb season and I love rhubarb!  I got this recipe from my Grandma Logterman and I make this jelly every year.  It keeps in the freezer all year, that is, if it's last that long.  After having this jelly no other jelly will do.  

     5 cup rhubarb, chopped
     1 (8 oz) can crushed pineapple, in juice
     1  cups sugar
     1 (3 oz) box strawberry jello

1. Combine rhubarb, pineapple and sugar in a large saucepan and mix well.
2. Bring to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes, stirring. Add jello and mix well until dissolved. Cool for 30 minutes.
3. Ladle mixture into freezer containers (I use 8 oz. jelly jars (makes 4) but you can use any other glass/plastic containers with lids that can go in the freezer). Refrigerate or freeze. If frozen,  thaw in refrigerator several hours before serving.


Friday, May 2, 2014

Bruschetta Chicken

We loved this Bruschetta Chicken.  So flavorful, easy and only takes 30 minutes, start to finish.   I've had a package of McCormick Gourmet Bruschetta Chicken spice mix in my pantry for awhile because someone mentioned how good this recipe was.  All you do is mix with olive oil (directions on the package).  Then you baste the chicken and tomatoes (directions call for plum but I used grape tomatoes) with this oil/spice mixture.  Bakes for 20-30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.  Then it's tossed with cooked pasta, balsamic vinegar and sprinkled with Parmesan.  It's that easy. Roasting the tomatoes brings out their sweetness and make a rich flavorful sauce.  Adding the balsamic vinegar makes everything pop.  So delicious!!

I used bucatini pasta for this recipe.  It's like thick spaghetti with a hole running through it.  It really has great texture.  It's one of my favorite pasta shapes.