Monday, June 29, 2009

Grilled Chicken Sausage Sandwiches with Grilled Onion Chowchow

I have been looking for a yummy relish to put on grilled chicken sausages for awhile now. Originally I was searching for a mango salsa but when I came upon this while browsing recipe sites, I decided to give it a try. It was very good - a strong mustard taste (which I like, and Chuck doesn't like mustard but enjoyed this) combined with the charred onion and spicy jalapeno. I served this with Southwest Pasta Salad.

But don't limit yourself to chicken sausages with this - use on regular sausages, to top a steak, or even a regular hot dog. It would fit nicely in a topping bar at a BBQ as well.

I was making this in advance and I didn't want to turn on the grill just to make the onion/pepper skewers, so I simply coated my grill pan with olive oil and placed the individual pieces of onion as well as the whole jalapeno on the pan. Cook over high heat, turning occasionally, until you get that nice char all over the veggies. I also seeded my jalapeno to cut down on the spice.

Grilled Chicken Sausage Sandwiches with Grilled Onion Chowchow
adapted from Food & Wine
Makes about 4 servings

1 sweet onion, cut into 1/2" slices
1 jalapeno pepper
olive oil
1/4 cup cider vinegar
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons grainy mustard
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon tumeric
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 teaspoon water
kosher salt and coarse ground black pepper
4 links chicken sausages, any flavor
4 hot dog/hoagie rolls

Heat the grill to high heat. Skewer the onion slices and whole jalapeno pepper. Brush the vegetables with olive oil and grill until charred but still crisp, about 10 minutes (or see above for stovetop directions).

Remove from heat and coarsely chop the onions. Remove the skin from the jalapeno (if possible), seed if desired, and finely chop.

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the cider vinegar, brown sugar, mustards, and tumeric and bring to a simmer. Add the onions and jalapenos and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until sauce is slightly reduced, about 12 minutes. Stir in the cornstarch mixture and cook until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Grill the sausages according the package directions. Serve the sausages on rolls topped with the chow chow.

I had to include a picture with the beautiful lilies Chuck bought me for my last day of school!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Green Beans and Tomatoes with Shallot Vinaigrette

In keeping with what appears to be my theme so far this summer - salads - I was looking for a green bean dish I could serve room temperature or even cold. This ended up being served a little warm, only because I didn't make it far enough in advance of dinnertime, but next time I make this I will make the veggies in advance, add the dressing, then chill before serving and bring to room temperature. The original recipe calls for a warm vinaigrette but I think it's more important to serve everything at the same temperature.

My advice - only cook the green beans for 2-3 minutes in the boiling water, even if it looks like they aren't finished as they will still continue cooking a little bit, and it's very important that these remain fresh, crisp, GREEN beans (as you can see, mine turned a little drab green).

Green Beans and Tomatoes with Warm Shallot Vinaigrette
adapted from
Makes 6-8 side dish servings

1 1/2 pounds green beans, ends trimmed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup chopped shallots (about 2 large)
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
kosher salt and coarse ground black pepper, to taste

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add green beans and cook for 2-3 minutes until crisp-tender and bright green. Drain and plunge green beans into a bowl of ice water, drain and set aside.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots, saute until golden and translucent, about 4 minutes. Stir in vinegar, cook 5 minutes or until slightly thickened. Add green beans, tomatoes, salt and pepper to pan, saute 2 minutes more.

Chill for 1-4 hours. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Goat Cheese and Red Pepper Potato Salad with Warm Pancetta Dressing

Whew, can that name get any longer? It's fitting though, because this potato salad is chock full of delicious flavors - you can't pick just one to put in the title! I have been looking into making a warm, non-mayo based potato salad for awhile now; because I know some people don't like mayo, and the concept of a warm salad with a vinegar-y dressing sounded very interesting.

And I am glad I chose this one to start with. I made a lot of modifications because I felt like so much more could be done with the original recipe. If you can't find pancetta, you can certainly use the same amount of bacon; just don't cook it originally in the tablespoon of butter. There is enough fat in the bacon itself, and just add the missing tablespoon of butter in with the rest of it.

Also, I have found that goat cheese has a very low melting temperture, so add it once everything has cooled slightly if you want to keep the crumbly texture. I can't wait to make this again soon!

Goat cheese and red pepper potato salad with Warm pancetta dressing
adapted from Food & Wine
Makes 6-8 side dish servings

2 pounds fingerling or Yukon Gold new potatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces
4 tablespoons butter
4 ounces thickly sliced pancetta or bacon, cut into 1/4" dice
1 shallot, minced
2 tablespooons sherry vinegar (balsamic is fine)
1 tablespoon grainy mustard
kosher salt and coarse ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped
4 ounces goat cheese crumbles (or a 4 ounce log, crumbled by hand)

Place potatoes in a large pot of salted water. Bring to a boil, and continue to cook over high heat until potatoes are fork-tender, about 10-15 minutes. Drain and set aside in a large bowl.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt a tablespoon of butter over medium heat (just heat the skillet if you are using bacon). Add the pancetta or bacon and cook until browned, 3-5 minutes (then drain the fat if using bacon). Add the remaining tablespoons of butter, stirring occasionally, and cook until pancetta is cooked through and butter is just beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Add the shallot and cook, stirring, about 2 minutes or until shallot is translucent. Remove from heat.

Whisk the vinegar and the mustard into the pancetta mixture, season to taste with salt and pepper. Add to the potatoes, red peppers, basil and goat cheese (once cooled slightly) and gently toss until evenly coated. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Beach Bread

This appetizer was a hit at my mother-in-law's birthday dinner this past weekend. To be honest, you can't really go wrong with buttery bread topped with diced tomatoes and melted cheese! I can't wait to make this down the shore for happy hour!

I sliced my bread a little differently from the pictures on Melissa's site, so make sure to check out the link to see the variation. We also loved this so much that I made this again with different flavors last night to go with a spinach salad so my own variation on the dressing and cheese is in parentheses - you can really mix and match depending on your tastes! Amounts are approximate, I didn't really measure anything, just made sure I had enough to cover the surface of the bread.

Beach Bread
from Delicious Melicious
Makes about 8 appetizer servings

1 large loaf French bread
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
1/3 cup blue cheese dressing (or three-cheese ranch dressing)
1 large tomato, diced or 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (or three-cheese italian)

Preheat the broiler to high.

Slice the bread in half lengthwise. Butter the inside surface of the bread. Place on a baking sheet under the broiler until slightly toasted (be careful, this happens fast!).

Remove from oven and drizzle the dressing over both halves. Spread evenly with a knife. Top with diced tomatoes and then cover with shredded cheese.

Put back under broiler until cheese is melted and just beginning to turn brown. Cool slightly (so you can slice it), cut into appetizer-sized pieces and serve immediately.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Lemon Cream Cheese Mousse Cake

This cake was absolutely delicious - a perfect summer dessert. The taste of lemon, cream cheese, and graham cracker crust with a hint of white chocolate, all frozen together into one amazing treat.

It does take a bit of time to make - my kitchen was a disaster after I was finished because you need to use the food processor, electric mixer, saucepan, and several bowls; but believe me, it's worth it!

I would suggest removing the cake from the freezer at least 30 minutes before you want to eat it - otherwise it is very hard to cut and a little chilly to bite into. You can leave it out even longer but I was worried about it melting too much and losing it's shape.

The only thing I changed from the original recipe was to use crushed graham crackers instead of gingersnaps for the crust so I am going to direct you right to Peabody's website (she has prettier pictures anyway!):

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Mediterranean Tortellini Salad

Yeah, I know...ANOTHER pasta salad. It saves me from having to think about what to make for lunch all week, what can I say? I made a lot of changes to the original recipe with this one - to me, that's the fun of pasta salads - you add what you have on hand and change things according to your tastes.

In the recipe below, I doubled the dressing amounts that I used for you, because I found it very dry. But I am also known to pile on the dressing, so halve it again to get back to the original amounts if you wish. Oh and just a word about the green beans - if you are making this to save for a few days, just be aware that the beans will lose their bright green color after a day or two - but they are still good!

Mediterranean Pasta Salad
inspiration from Southern Living
Makes 8-10 side dish servings

2 (13 ounce) packages frozen cheese tortellini
1/2 pound fresh green beans, ends trimmed and cut into 1" pieces
1/4 cup light mayo
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons herbes de Provence (or Italian seasoning)
1/2 cup good quality olive oil
1/2 cup roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
2 tablespoons sweet onion, minced
feta cheese (I didn't use this, but think it would be really good)
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add tortellini and cook according to package direction, 8-10 minutes. During the last 2 minutes of cooking, add the green beans to the water. Drain and rinse pasta and beans with cold water.

Whisk together mayo, red wine vinegar, and herbes de Provence in small bowl. Continue whisking and add olive oil until emulsified.

Transfer pasta and beans to a large bowl. Add red peppers, olives, minced onion, feta cheese if using, and dressing. Toss gently until dressing is evenly distributed.

Chill for 4-24 hours. Mix in fresh parsley and salt and pepper to taste.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Chocolate Chunk Butterscotch Bars

I was searching for an easy dessert that didn't need to be refrigerated and could be eaten easily, and this one popped up on Dinners for a Year and Beyond - perfect! This was an easy and delicious bar cookie to throw together...kind of tasted like a chocolate chip cookie, kind of tasted like a butterscotch can't go wrong!

The only thing I changed from the original recipe was to use a bag of chocolate chunks instead of the dark chocolate chips. This was mainly because I couldn't find dark chocolate chips in my always-stocked grocery store (*sarcasm*), but in the end I am glad I went with the chunks, it added a nice texture to the finished bars.

Since I didn't change anything else, I will link you right to Amy's recipe:

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Summer Birthday Menu

My mother-in-law's birthday is this upcoming weekend and I offered to cook dinner at their house so everyone can relax on the deck and we can have a nice, leisurely meal. Plus, I have been itching to plan a dinner menu! I enlisted my sister-in-law Elizabeth as my trusty sous chef and Chuck of course will be manning the grill!

Summer Birthday Menu




Stay tuned for more recipes!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Gnocchi with Summer Vegetables

When I saw this recipe in the June issue of Everyday Food, I knew I had to make it. We don't have gnocchi that often and to make a dish with delicious summer vegetables was just what I had in mind for dinner. I served this alongside broiled flounder topped with lemon-pepper seasoning and garlic powder.

I changed around the amounts a little bit, because for my purposes there would have been way too many vegetables if I used the original recipe. Also, when I saw this over on Reservations Not Required, she mentioned how lovely the sauce was, and I wanted enough to coat all the gnocchi s I pared down the veggies a little bit.

Gnocchi with Summer Vegetables
adapted from Everyday Food
Makes 3-4 side dish servings

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 zucchini or summer squash, quartered and sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
kosher salt and coarse ground black pepper
1/2 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1 package (15 to 16 ounces) frozen gnocchi
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon butter
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add squash and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until squash is crisp-tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until juicy, about 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook gnocchi according to package instructions. Reserving 1/4 cup or so of cooking liquid, drain gnocchi and transfer to skillet. Toss gnocchi, adding enough cooking liquid to create a sauce. Remove from heat and stir in basil, cheese, butter, and lemon juice. Serve garnished with more cheese if desired.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Chicken Florentine Pasta Bake

I think if you read my blog even somewhat regularly, you can see my love for pasta. Lately I have been doing a lot of pasta salads because of the warm weather, but give me a good pasta bake any night and I am a happy camper. :)

This one fit the bill - a cheesy, semi-healthy (because of the spinach, right?), and filling dinner! The chicken melds nicely with all of the veggies, finished off by the cheese sauce...served with a green salad, it's a perfect weeknight dinner.

Chicken Florentine Pasta Bake
Makes 6-8 servings

12 ounces farfalle pasta
1 small onion, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
pinch of basil, oregano, parsley
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
2 cups chopped cooked chicken (I use 2 chicken breasts)
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups milk
kosher salt and coarse ground pepper, to taste
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
14 ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
10 ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1/2 cup oil packed sun dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
1/4 grated Parmesan cheese, divided
3/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 3-quart baking dish with cooking spray. (Or, use this method to make two separate dishes.)

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and cook pasta as directed, to al dente. Drain and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-heat. Add the onions and cook 3-4 minutes until translucent. Add the chicken and herbs and red pepper flakes and cook until heated through. Remove from heat, set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, and salt and pepper. Stir in the chicken mixture, Monterey Jack cheese, artichokes, spinach, sun dried tomatoes, half of the Parmesan, and cooked pasta.

Transfer to prepared baking dish(es). Bake, covered with foil, for 20 minutes. In small bowl, combine remaining Parmesan, bread crumbs, paprika, and melted butter. Sprinkle mixture over pasta and continue baking, uncovered, 10 minutes more or until golden.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Blueberry Coconut Yogurt Bread

I love making bread or cakes with yogurt - it makes the cake so moist without using too much fat. The original recipe popped out at me on my Google reader, and then I changed it up a little bit because I had some extra coconut I wanted to use. I am very happy with the result - a delicious bread with blueberry, coconut, and a hint of lemon - perfect for a summer breakfast!

Blueberry Coconut Yogurt Cake
adapted from Closet Cooking
Makes one loaf

1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
zest of one lemon (about 1 tablespoon)
6 ounces plain yogurt
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
1 cup blueberries
1/2 cup shredded coconut

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9x5 loaf pan with cooking spray (I use one with flour in it for baking).

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the lemon zest, yogurt, sugar, eggs, oil, and coconut extract.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into the large bowl. Mix gently with a spatula until just combined. Mix in the blueberries and shredded coconut.

Pour the batter into prepared loaf pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Garden Pesto Tortellini

This pasta dish has a lot of my favorite flavors in it - pesto, cheese and pasta, sundried I knew I would love it! Since you are not heating or doing anything to the pesto, I highly recommend making your own - it will taste so much fresher and add a great taste to the dish. You can use the recipe Ellie suggests here.

I did not use the spinach leaves the original recipe suggests, although I may if I make this again. Another option would be to include some roasted red peppers or artichokes in there as well - yum!

Garden Pesto Tortellini
Makes 3-4 servings

1 package of refrigerated cheese tortellini
12-15 spears of asparagus, bias-cut into 1" pieces
2 handfuls of baby spinach, coarsely chopped (I omitted)
1/3 cup oil-packed sundried tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped
options: 1/3 cup roasted red peppers or artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 cup basil pesto
1 1/2 - 2 cups cooked chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, cook tortellini until al dente according to package directions. With 3 minutes left to boil, throw all vegetables (except roasted red peppers) into the water with the tortellini.

Drain and return to pot. Add chicken (red peppers if using) and pesto, tossing to coat. You can serve immediately or this is also delicious chill and serve as a pasta salad.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Chocolate Drizzle Pie

You MUST make this pie soon - the decadent brownie mix combined with the cream cheese layer, all on a buttery pie crust is heaven! And that's not even talking about the chocolate fudge and vanilla ice cream yet!

I used a pre-made pie crust for this because I was lazy and didn't have a lot of time. I also changed the brownie mix from the original recipe, mainly because I couldn't find the one suggested at the store. But to my pleasant surprise, the Ghirardelli mix already comes with fudge to drizzle so I didn't have to buy a separate topping.

Don't worry too much if you can't spread the layers evenly (especially the top brownie layer), it all evens out while baking:

Chocolate Drizzle Pie
Makes one 9" pie

1 Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust (or make your own)
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 18-ounce Ghirardelli Ultimate Fudge brownie mix
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
vanilla ice cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Lay the pie crust in an ungreased 9" pie plate. Make sure it's smooth along the bottom and pinch the edges for a decorative crust.

Combine cream cheese, vanilla, sugar, and one egg in a medium bowl. Beat with a handheld electric mixer until very smooth. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix brownie mix, oil, water, and 1 egg until combined. (If you bought a different brownie mix, just follow the instructions on the package for amounts of oil and water.)

Spread half of the brownie mixture into the prepared pie crust. Carefully top with cream cheese layer and spread evenly. Sprinkle chocolate chips over cream cheese layer. Top carefully with remaining brownie mixture.

Bake for 40-50 minutes until crust is brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of the pie comes out clean. (The crust may turn brown before this happens, you can cover the crust with a layer of foil if you need to.) Let cool slightly or to room temperature.

Prepare fudge from brownie mix as directed. Top each slice of pie with a scoop of ice cream and a drizzle of fudge. (If you bought a brownie mix without fudge, just use jarred hot fudge.)

Lonely for some ice cream and fudge...

Much better!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Greek Orzo and Grilled Shrimp Salad with Mustard-Dill Vinaigrette

I found this recipe last summer pre-blog and fell in love with it. Like, loved it so much that I have been WAITing for the perfect warm weather occasion to make it again. Memorial Day happened to be perfect for it and I made enough on purpose so that I could eat it (sans shrimp) the rest of the week for lunch!

If you like, you can make the orzo salad beforehand, chill, and just bring it to room temperature before grilling the shrimp and serving. And the original amounts will give you WAY more than 4 servings, especially if you are serving it as a side dish.

I didn't really change anything from the original recipe, except for leaving out the green onions, so I will just link you to it here on the Food Network. Get ready to enjoy a delicious, summery pasta salad complete with a perfect mustard-dill and feta flavor!