Friday, July 30, 2010

Grilled Pineapple

I love summer because it means grilled pineapple. Although I guess you could grill pineapple anytime of the year, there is just something really great about it in the summer.

I drizzle a little balsamic vinegar and fresh cracked black pepper and put it right on the grill. It is beyond delicious, and really brings out the flavors and the juices. It goes perfect with pork, beef, chicken, ice cream, you name it. I literally jump for joy when pineapple's are on sale at the food store just so that I can grill. We generally grill the entire pineapple and then whatever is left, if anything, I snack on the next day. YUM. I'm drooling just thinking about it.

The picture above it is paired with grilled pork chops, apple sauce and zucchini cakes.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

I heart Martha!

I love to hate Martha, I cannot lie. In fact my BFF and I went to her show. That's how much I love to hate her. And when I heard she was releasing a book about my favorite thing to bake...cupcakes, I about swooned. Okay I did.. a full on should be from the south swoon. What's next, I'll be eating grits. Oh but wait, I did that...
Anyhow, I got the book from my wonderful local library and I read it front to back in one night. Yes, I also love to read cookbooks. They are fascinating. In honor of zucchini season I picked out the Zucchini Spiced Cupcakes with Cream Cheese frosting to make for a friends BBQ.

What followed was almost euphoric. They were so simple, so delicious and I think I could probably have eaten the entire batch.

I also experimented with my mini muffin pan and that also turned out to be a really great experiment. I used my melon baller sized scooper from Pampered Chef!

Here is the recipe for the cupcakes and the frosting:

Zucchini-Spice Cupcakes
(Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes pg. 44)

3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
¾ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2 cups packed light-brown sugar
3 cups packed grated zucchini
1 cup walnuts (about 3 ounces), toasted and coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. In another bowl, whisk together oil, eggs, vanilla and zest until well blended; whisk in brown sugar until smooth. Stir in zucchini, then add flour mixture and stir until just combined. Stir in walnuts.

Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.
To finish, use a small offset spatula to spread cupcakes with frosting. Refrigerate up to 3 days in airtight containers; bring to room temperature before serving.

CHANGES I MADE: I did not toast my walnuts and used finely chopped and I used 4 cups of zucchini. I also omitted the lemon zest. Did not use freshly grated nutmeg, mine was from a jar. Next time I will cut the oil and use EVOO and applesauce instead.

Cream Cheese Frosting
(Martha Stewart Cupcakes)

Makes about 2 cups
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Place cream cheese in a medium mixing bowl. Using a rubber spatula, soften cream cheese. Gradually add butter, and continue beating until smooth and well blended. Sift in confectioners' sugar, and continue beating until smooth. Add vanilla, and stir to combine.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Where to start...

When describing our house to people, I usually say, well it's a big old (and I mean OLD) colonial farmhouse on 8 acres of property in Bear Country, NJ and we also have a cabin and a stream. This makes it sound like something right out of the pages of a story book, right?

The truth is, it's a 1840ish (we've heard probably earlier) colonial farm house, with a "dilapadated" cabin (according to our tax records) and a really pretty creek, that pretty much dries up in the summer. And I love it.

We have deer and snakes and bears and wild turkeys. We've got lots of woods to explore, only a few (and far between) neighbors and there's no traffic.

I won't lie, it's not pretty. There was A LOT of brush up against the house, so one of the first things we did was to take down a tree, and remove all the shrubs and crap that were growing up against or near the house. We haven't 100% finished this job as it has been 90+ degrees almost every day since we moved in, but eventually.

Hopefully our neighbors are just so excited that we are doing soemthing, they don't care that we've not finished the job.

Looking better already, right?

Both front doors will be painted Behr's Jazz Blue. The grill has been moved, and the ground cover is getting ripped out and that will be all rocks.

What did we discover through this project?

-We had a front walk way that had been covered for YEARS.

-A cute little garden snake.

-That we should probably get tetnus shots because there are a lot of random metal things hidden in there.

Just another Tuesday night!

It was just another Tuesday night at our house. I decided to do grilled vegetable sandwich's and grilled red potatoes after our planned leftovers from the night before got eaten by a certain foster dog. Rather than worry about defrosting anything, I whipped these tasty sandwiches and potatoes up.

Fabulous husband was a tad dissapointed because there was no meat, but he got over it.

Vegetable sandwich

1 White Eggplant
1 Yellow Squash
Garlic Ranch Dressing
Ciabatta rolls
Parm-Reggiano cheese
Salt & Pepper

Slice the eggplant and squash longways, slice onion. Drizzle with EVOO and salt and pepper to taste. Grill until desired tenderness. Brush rolls with EVOO on the inside and grill.
Spread ranch on bottom and top of roll, sprinkle with some Parm-Regg and load with veggies. Serve with Grilled Red Potatoes.

Grilled Red Potatoes
Red Potatoes
Fresh Parsley
Salt & Pepper

Cut potatoes, coat with EVOO, place on tinfoil (spray with PAM), spring salt and pepper to taste and place on Grill. Grill until cooked through. Remove from grill, toss with fresh parsley and serve.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Cherry Vanilla Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream

Say that 3 times in a row!!!

One of my favorite bridal shower gifts has been my Kitchen Aid Ice Cream maker attachment. I have used it 3 times since we moved and I opened it. It’s relatively simple, you keep it in the freezer for 15+ hours, then pop it onto your mixer and mix your mix, freeze that for 3+hours and POOF! You are a regular Ben & Jerry! Okay maybe not just yet, but I’ve got high hopes. While at the big W I found some Rival Ice cream mixes and picked a few up on clearance.

Using Rival’s Cherry Vanilla mix, 4 cups of whole milk, my Kitchen Aide Ice Cream maker attachment as well as some fresh cherries and chocolate chunks, I created a very fabulous Cherry Vanilla Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream.

Fabulous husband really liked this one as well. Sadly it just wasn’t the right taste to go with the cobbler. I’m really glad I bought two of these mixes because this one was delicious. However, I may try something other than whole milk. It wasn’t very creamy, and I think using a heavy cream or something like that would really improve upon it!

No final product pictures as I completely forgot and by the time I remembered, fabulous husband had finished it all.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Blackberry and Peaches, oh my!

This is a recipe I pulled from Whole Foods for Blackberry Peach Buttermilk Cobbler. In honor of fabulous husbands birthday, and lots of fresh peaches from the farmer's market, I decided to whip this up last week.

Without further adieu...

Serves 8
Sweet and juicy peaches are fantastic with this tangy buttermilk batter that crisps around the edges and is soft and tender in the center. Use peak-of-season fruits and serve with your favorite ice cream.
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon cornstarch
3/4 pound peaches, pitted and thickly sliced
1 (6-ounce) carton blackberries
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, cut into large pieces
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups lowfat buttermilk

Preheat oven to 375°F. In a medium bowl, whisk together maple syrup and cornstarch. Add peaches and blackberries and toss gently to coat; set aside. Put butter into an 8-inch round or square glass or metal cake pan. Heat in oven just until butter is melted, 2 to 3 minutes, then remove and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Stir in buttermilk and mix until just combined to make a thick batter. Pour into pan over melted butter without stirring. Scatter reserved peach mixture evenly over top of batter and bake until golden and bubbly, 50 to 55 minutes.
How good does this look! I could have eaten it like this!
Hope the oven is ready for this prettiness!

All done!
My notes:

-I used sugar free generic maple syrup as that was all we had. I think next time I will make sure I have some good VT maple syrup on hand.
-I used WW flour instead of regular.
-Ironically the WF that I shopped at did not have buttermilk, but they had a powdered buttermilk that you could use. So I used that. Not sure if it would taste differently or not with real buttermilk.
It was a nice treat and what a way to showcase fresh, perfectly ripe peaches. We did not have any vanilla ice cream (only Cherry Vanilla with Choc Chunk), and that would really have paired well with this.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Vegetable Tart

The inspiration for this adventure was a recipe for a Zucchini and Tomato Tart I found in a magazine a few years ago and never made. I kept going back to it every summer, but one thing was stopping me. I didn't own a tart pan!
I am happy to say I now own a tart pan! It was a gift for my bridal shower, which was last November and I finally got to break it in.

I used a variety of tomatoes, peppers, zucchini and onions (all from the farmers market).

1 pre-made pie crust

Spray tart pan with non-stick cooking spray, line with pie crust, bake for 10 minutes at 400. Then layer cheese on bottom (see picture below). The pile the veggies on and cook at 350 for approximately 30-40 minutes.

Yum!!! Even fabulous husband approved.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Banana Pancakes

My fabulous husband loves to make waffles. Not belgium, regular as he would say. He has his own waffle iron and I often buy him mixes. He makes outstanding waffles. Feel free to come visit and request them!
More than I love waffles, I LOVE banana pancakes. Fabulous husband tried to make banana waffles and they weren't bad, but they weren't what I was dreaming about. This past weekend, he made me banana pancakes and they were to die for. I don't have the recipe, except to say that he would pour the batter into the pan, place the banana slices on it and cook. I added some cinnamon to a few of them and oh it was heaven.

What's my obsession with banana pancakes? A few years ago I was in Negril, Jamaica and there is a fabulous little place there called Selinas and they made the best and I mean BEST banana pancakes i've ever and will ever have (sorry fabulous husband). The coffee, the pancakes, the tropical setting, the good friends...what memories.

Still do this day... how many years later... 5 or so I dream about banana pancakes. Jack Johnson even wrote a song about them! Well not Selina's but about banana pancakes... how could you go wrong, unless you don't like banana.
Anyhow, I digress, here are some pictures of fabulous husbands banana pancakes....

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Farmer's Market

One of the requirements for the location of our new house was that there be a farmer's market within a reasonable distance. Turns out the town over from us has one every Saturday starting mid-June. I have fallen in love with our Farmer's Market. It is more important to me this year because I was not able to plant a garden, and so I am completely relying on the local farmers to provide me with some outstanding Jersey produce. I hit pay dirt.
Aside from produce there is a local bakery that has the most amazing bread(s). There are farm fresh eggs, cheese, flowers, coffee, meat etc. It is sponsered by the Food Shed Alliance and they do a really amazing job.
One of my favorite participant's is Godlewsky Farms. Their produce is AMAZING! Everything but the peaches is from their stand.

The peaches below are from Bests Fruit Farm. They are so juicy! Look for a peach cobbler recipe to be coming soon using them!
If you are ever in the area on a Saturday, be sure to check out the market:

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Cookies N' Cream Cupcakes & A new camera!

My new camera (Nikon D5000) arrived in the mail yesterday, so of course I had to bake. Okay, I was already planning to bake, but the camera arriving was a bonus.

Here is my attempt at Cookies n' Cream cupcakes. The recipe is from my daily cupcake calendar which got it from the book 500 Cupcakes...

1 cup (2 sticks) sweet butter, softened
1 cup superfine sugar
2 cups self-rising flour
1 tsp baking powder
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
10 crushes oreos

3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 cup (2 sticks) sweet butter, softened
Pinch of salt
10 chopped oreos

Preheat the oven to 350. Place 18 foil or paper baking cups in muffin pans. Combine all cupcake ingredients, except the cookies in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth and pale, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in the cookies.

Spoon the batter into the cups. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove pans from the oven and cool for 5 minutes. Then remove the cupcakes and cool on a wire rack.

To make the frosting, beat the confectioners’ sugar, butter, and salt using an electric mixer. Spread the frosting on the cooled cupcakes and sprinkle with chopped cookies on top.

Store unfrosted in an airtight container for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

I followed the recipe pretty exact. I did cut it in half since I have no need for that many cupcakes, and in doing so overcooked the cupcakes. They were still tasty, but noticibly overcooked. Ooops. They made for a lovely photo session!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Zucchinni Season Continues... Zucchinni Cakes!

Here is the inspiration recipe:

Here is what I did:

2 cups zucchini
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon smart balance, melted
¾ cup seasoned bread crumbs
Old Bay to taste
1/3 cup of whole wheat flour
Vegetable oil for frying

In a large bowl combine zucchini, egg and smart balance. Stir in seasoned bread crumbs and seasoning. Mix well. Shape into patties, dredge in flour. In medium skillet, heat oil over medium high heat until hot. Fry patties in oil until golden brown on both sides. Blot oil with paper towel.

*Inspiration recipe calls for onion. The first time I made these, I included, but after omitting it yesterday, I don’t think it really needs the onion.
*I used my 4-cup food processer for the zucchini. I found that having it a little more chopped than shredded worked really better.
*Whole Wheat flour substituted for all-purpose gave a nice flavor.
*In the past I have used Old Bay bread crumbs, if you do this I recommend NOT adding Old Bay spice as it kills the flavor. I stick with seasoned bread crumbs and Old Bay spice.

We served it with grilled pineapple (drizzled with balsamic vinegar and pepper), grilled pork chop (with an applewood rub) and applesauce. Delicious!! We were both craving more zucchini cakes! Dessert was a store bought strawberry ruhbarb pie with homemade strawberry ice cream.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Semi-Failure in the Kitchen...

It's zucchini season here in NJ and last week I hit paydirt at the local farmers market. I had grand plans, but then a heat wave hit and all motivation ceased. However, last night inspiration struck and baking I did.

This is the inspiration recipe:

This is my take:
2 cups shredded zucchini
¾ cup white sugar
1 egg
¼ cup of apple sauce
¼ cup of evoo
1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
½ tsp of salt
½ tsp of baking soda
¼ tsp of baking powder
1 tsp of ground cinnamon
2 tsps lemon zest

1. Preheat over to 325 degrees F. Spray 8.5 x 4.5 inch loaf pan with pam.
2. Beat together the zucchini, sugar, egg and oil in stand mixer. In a separate bowl , sift together the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder; stir in cinnamon and lemon zest. Add flour mixture into zucchini mixture until just blended on low setting. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
3. Bake 45 minutes in preheated over or until knife comes out clean. Remove from heat, and cool about 10 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Except I forgot to add the sugar last night! Whoops. It's still very good, not as sweet, but otherwise tasty. I will be making a few more loaves over the weekend and will be sure to include the sugar!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Grilled Turkey Burgers Topped with Onion Caesar Style

Here is the link to the inspiration recipe:

I made a few changes:

-used ground turkey breast in place of bee
-used lite caeser
-used bib lettuce fresh from the farmers market
-used fresh rolls from the farmers market.

They were amazingly delicious. I should also note I added some parm cheese into the burger patty and DID NOT put dressing on while grilling.

I put some dressing on the warm bun, put the patty on, lettuce, onion and some cheese and served with a side of grilled seasoned fries.

Here are some pictures!