Monday, July 27, 2015

Turkey Spinach Panini with a Citrus Aioli


Summertime calls for quick yet hearty food.  Sandwiches for a weekend lunch are my go to meal.

Do you love all the combinations that you can make with a sandwich as much as I do?   I hope so cause today's sandwich is a real winner!


I love hot sandwiches.  It might be the gooey cheese melting over the hot meat...or it might be the toasty bread.  This one has it all plus a wonderful citrus aioli.  Aioli is a fancy word for a mayonnaise and garlic spread.  This spread really makes this sandwich, so don't skip it!!!  It will rock your world.
Honest.

The light citrus in the spread is such a good compliment to the delicate turkey and tangy Swiss cheese.  Together this is a combination made in heaven!  You can change it up the way you like it as well by swapping out the spinach for lettuce or arugula, or choose your favorite bread.  I used a nice country sliced bread which toasted nicely.  


Anyway you build it will turn out a masterpiece.  Remember, don't skip the citrus aioli!

Enjoy!



Turkey Spinach Panini with a Citrus Aioli

2 T mayonnaise 
1/4 tsp lime zest 
1/4 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp lemon juice 
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
8 slices country bread 
1/2 lb sliced roasted turkey 
1 cup baby spinach
4 slices Swiss cheese
Cooking spray

Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat.  For the Aioli: Combine ingredients from mayonnaise through garlic in a small bowl.  Spread evenly over 4 bread slices. Top evenly with turkey, spinach, cheese, and the remaining 4 bread slices.


Coat grill pan with cooking spray. Arrange 2 sandwiches in pan. Place a cast-iron or heavy skillet on top of sandwiches; press gently to flatten. Cook 2 minutes on each side.  Repeat procedure with remaining 2 sandwiches.  Slice in half and serve immediately.  

Monday, July 20, 2015

'Bakery Style' Orange Blueberry Muffins


Last week MGG and I took a day trip up to Santa Barbara.  I just love it there.

We spent the day doing a little shopping, walking along the beach, stopped at the Biltmore Hotel for a drink, and of course sampled some tasty food.

On the way we always stop for a nice breakfast at one of our favorites places in Summerland.  The food is always on spot. This time we opted to a continental breakfast that came with a basket of bakery items.  I spotted a large 'bakery' style muffin and I knew I would be in heaven.  Bursting with blueberries and a hint of citrus.   Yep, I was right....Heaven!



I'm a blueberry lover you see.  I've made many blueberry items in the past here and here.  So this past weekend I got out my mixing bowls and made my own version of 'Bakery Style' Orange Blueberry Muffins.  Bakery style, means that are a little larger than life!  Juicy, ripe, hot, blueberries, bursting in your mouth.  The background has a hint of orange.  The perfect contrast to the tang of the blueberries. Not much better than this!



Great to serve on a weekend summer morning, or make for brunch, or a ladies tea. Be sure to pick up some fresh blueberries.  They are in season and so sweet this year.  If you don't have any, frozen will do just as well, but be sure to thaw them so they don't bleed all over your batter and turn it blue!

Try them soon, and tell me how you liked them.   Enjoy!



'Bakery Style' Orange Blueberry Muffins 

serves 12

2 cups fresh blueberries 

1/4 cup all-purpose flour 
2 cups all purpose flour 
4 teaspoons baking powder 
1 teaspoon salt 
1 1/2 cups white sugar 
1/4 cup canola oil
2 eggs 
1 teaspoon orange extract 
2 teaspoons orange zest
1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.   Spray muffins tins with cooking spray.


In a small bowl add your blueberries and sprinkle 1/4 cup flour over blueberries, toss to coat.


In a large bowl, add your flour, baking powder and salt and sugar. Whisk together. To a medium bowl, add your oil, eggs, orange extract, orange zest and milk.  Whisk to blend. Add to the flour mixture stirring just to combine. Fold in berries. Fill muffin cups almost to the top with batter.


Bake for 20 - 22 minutes.  Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.  




Saturday, July 11, 2015

Strawberry Shortcake Scones


I have a real thing for berries.

I do.  I swear.  Every year when berry season hits in Southern California I go hog wild.  Buying berries every week from the farmer's markets until I'm blue in the face....almost literally!  I buy them all, blackberries, raspberries (red and white), strawberries, blueberries...you name it.  I just LOVE them!

So with all these berries around I have to find new ways to use them.  Which often means searching for new twists on standards like scones.  I love a good scone, don't you? Since they are a little more involved than a quick throw together meal I usually save this type of item for my weekend breakfasts.  Perfect for sitting on the patio eating them with a nice cup of hot tea.  


So I've found myself with an excess of strawberries a while back and we've been eating them in desserts such as parfaits and strawberry shortcakes.  Our strawberries have been to DIE FOR this year.  So sweet they don't need any sugar!  

So I hit the Internet and came across the best recipe for a strawberry shortcake style scone.  Wow!  I knew that this would be right up my alley.  What makes these different from regular scones is the addition of ricotta cheese and whipping cream to the mixture.  These ingredients elevate your scones to a different level and make them so tender and moist.


Hands down, this is an excellent recipe for scones.  The strawberries are the highlight but the tender but moist biscuits make it heaven on a plate.

Enjoy!


Strawberry Shortcake Scones 

slightly adapted from BHG.com

Yield: 12 scones

1 cup chopped fresh strawberries
2 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1/4 cup whipping cream
Whipping cream

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.   In a small bowl, toss together strawberries and 1 tablespoon flour. In a large bowl combine the 2 1/2 cups flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, and salt. Using a pastry cutter, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in center of the flour mixture; set aside. 

In a medium bowl combine the egg, ricotta, and 1/4 cup whipping cream. Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture. Add strawberries. Using a fork, stir just until moistened. 

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead dough by folding and gently pressing it for 10 to 12 strokes or until dough is nearly smooth. Pat dough into a 10x4-inch rectangle. Cut in half lengthwise and in sixths crosswise to make 12 rectangles. 

Place rectangles 2 inches apart on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Brush with additional whipping cream.  Bake about 16 minutes or until golden brown. Remove scones from baking sheet. Serve warm. 


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Mongolian Beef


Everyone loves Chinese food don't they?  I know we do, and by the popularity of the stir fry dishes I've posted I'm going to take a leap and say that you do too.  Even better is that it's a great take-out dish. It's easy to order and pick up on the way home.  Well let's just say that making your own "take-out" is just easy.  Don't believe that?  Well just read on.

Mongolian Beef is a favorite dish of mine to order when we go to a certain Chinese restaurant in our neighborhood.  I just love the spicy and deep flavors the brown sauce lends to it.

I've been craving some lately and we just haven't had time to stop by the restaurant to pick some up, so I set out on a mission to recreate my own version of this dish. Let's forget the take-out and have take-in instead!



If you plan on making Chinese stir frys at home it is best to invest in some pantry items that you have on hand whenever the craving strikes.  Items such as soy sauce, hoisin sauce, ginger, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, and sriracha sauce are some of the ingredients I use regularly and try to always keep on hand.  These items are easily picked up at your local grocery store in the Asian section and I've even seen them at Trader Joes.   Tip:  make sure to keep the sesame oil in the refrigerator as it WILL go rancid if left out (speaking from experience...) yuk!!! You don't want to ruin your dish.

Mongolian Beef is our quest today.  It's a classic Chinese-American dish that has no reference to Mongolia except for the name. But who cares!  When you put a gingery-garlicky brown sauce together with strips of beef and vegetables I'm in heaven.  You will be too!



I took a nice sirloin steak and sliced it thinly and added some vegetables (onion and mini bell pepper mix) for some texture and crunch.  Make the wonderful sauce first so that you are ready to add it at the end when it's almost done.  Stir frys cook very quickly in a hot skillet or wok.  Having your items all ready to go prior to cooking is very helpful in these fast paced dishes.  No one wants to be frantic when cooking, and you've forgot to make the sauce!

Serve this mildly spiced dish over rice or wide rice noodles to catch all the sauce. I served it with rice and my Asian Cucumber Salad.  Great for a summer evening.  

Enjoy!



Mongolian Beef

serves 4

2 T low-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp cornstarch
2 tsp dry sherry
2 tsp hoisin sauce
1 tsp rice vinegar
2 tsp sriracha sauce
2 tsp oil
1 T minced ginger, fresh
1 T garlic, minced
1 pound sirloin steak, cut across grain into thin slices
1/2 yellow onion sliced thinly
2 bell peppers, julienne sliced (mixed colors, red, yellow, and orange)

To make the sauce,  combine the soy sauce, sugar, cornstarch, sherry, hoisin sauce, vinegar, sriracha sauce in a small bowl.  Whisk until smooth. 

Heat the oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add ginger, garlic, and beef and cook about 4 minutes or until beef is browned. Remove beef from the skillet to a plate. Set aside.  

Add the onion and peppers to the skillet and cook, stirring often about 3 minutes until crisp tender.   Add your meat and any collected juices back to the skillet and stir. Add the sauce mixture to pan. cook 1 minute stirring constantly, or until thickened. Serve over rice or noodles.


Sunday, July 5, 2015

Chocolate Chip Pecan Waffles


Hope everyone had a perfect 4th of July yesterday!

One of my favorite holidays for sure.  We had a great time at the pool with friends, and then on to a delicious grill fest for dinner followed by magnificent fireworks.

Boy, I'm tired today.  I did all the prep work ahead so that my day was open to enjoy party.  Today is my day to relax, and catch up before heading back to work.  My lazy Sunday as I call it.

To start the day off right I whipped up MGG and I some wonderfully delicious waffles.  Something a little sweet to get us going.  Plus I get to break our my new waffle maker!  It's so much fun to get a new kitchen item.  I have this old beat up waffle maker for 100 year and it was on it's last leg.  It was huffing and puffing and I knew it was time to retire.  So I believe that a "test taste" is due, don't you?  

Oh my this recipe!  You will just love the addition of decadent chocolate chips and crunchy pecans.   They give it a hint of sweet along with a nice bit of crunch.  You can splurge every once in a while. Keeps you motivated, I say.  


I hope you enjoy these.  Give them a try for your next weekend breakfast and tell me what you think.

Kitchen Tip:  Freeze leftover waffles and toast them in the toaster for a quick weekday breakfast or snack.  




Chocolate Chip Pecan Waffles

serves 4-6

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 T baking powder
¼ cup sugar
⅔ cup finely chopped pecans
⅔ cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
4 eggs
1 cup butter, melted 
2 ½ cups milk 
2 tsp vanilla 
Additional coarsely chopped pecans and miniature semisweet chocolate chips, if desired 

Heat your waffle maker according to manufacturer's directions. 

In a large bowl, mix flour, baking powder, sugar, pecans and chocolate chips.  In a medium bowl, beat eggs, butter, milk and vanilla with whisk. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and stir just until moistened. 

Pour batter onto waffle maker and bake about 5 minutes until steaming stops and waffles are deep golden brown. Remove to a tray and keep warm under foil or in a low temp oven. Repeat with remaining batter.  

Serve immediately with syrup and topped with additional pecans and chocolate chips if desired. Repeat with remaining batter.



Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Summer Corn Salad

 
Taking advantage of summer's fresh vegetables is the best way to eat fresh, light, and healthy food.

One of my favorite vegetables is corn.  We eat it all summer long.  Mostly preparing fresh corn on the cob.  I just love it soooo much that I don't think there is ever enough corn to eat!


This past Sunday MGG and I had a went to a concert in the park, taking a picnic dinner while we listened to a Bee Gees cover band.  So much fun!  I'm dating myself but I used to love the Bee Gees and it was great to hear all my favorite songs again.  Anyone else a Bee Gee fan?

So a picnic dinner calls for food that is easy to pack, and easy to eat.  While I could have taken some corn on the cob I decided to make a corn salad instead.  That way I could make a heartier salad by adding other vegetables in the mix.


This is a light and fresh salad, mixed with several fresh vegetables, and tossed with a wonderful vinaigrette.  Can't get much simpler than this.  Again, this is a perfect side dish for your 4th of July BBQ, a picnic, potluck, or concerts in the park.  It goes with all types of main dishes from BBQ, ribs, chicken, burgers, sandwiches...you name it. 

Enjoy this fresh salad this weekend!



Summer Corn Salad


serves 6

5 tsp olive oil, divided
1 T lime juice
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sriracha sauce
1 1/2 cups fresh corn (may use frozen)
1 1/2 cups multi-colored grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup cucumber, small dice
1/4 cup red onion, small dice
2 T fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled

In a small bowl, whisk together 4 teaspoons oil, lime juice, salt and sriracha sauce. Set aside. Cook 3-4 cobs of corn in the microwave, or in boiling water until done. Allow to cool slightly and then cut off the cob with a sharp knife. In

In a large bowl place corn. Add the tomatoes, cucumber, onion and basil. Drizzle with dressing and toss to coat. Chill in the refrigerator 1 hour. Sprinkle with cheese just before serving.


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