Aug 31, 2010

Herbed Turkey Burgers

The perfect summer night for me is eating a wonderful meal outside and relaxing with a glass of wine – with my husband and dog, of course!   Summer food does not taste any better than this herbed turkey burger served with grilled corn on the cob and some homemade potato chips!   As I’ve mentioned before – my herb garden is overflowing – and I am doing my best to make use of the availability of fresh herbs while I have the chance.  (BTW - this herb garden is making me think about getting an aerogarden – does anyone have one and recommend it?) 
This meal is also great for an easy weeknight meal – since once you make the burgers you can easily freeze them to grill when ever you want!  Enjoy!


(makes 8 burgers)

  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 1/3 cup chopped red onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 lbs. ground turkey
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 Tbsp. minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 Tbsp. minced fresh sage
  • 2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves


1. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and sauté about 3 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook about 2 minutes longer, until the onion is tender.  Remove from the heat and transfer to a large mixing bowl; let cool.

2. Once the onion mixture has cooled, add the ground turkey, salt, pepper and herbs to the bowl.  Mix well so everything is evenly blended. 

3. Mix in the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Form the mixture into 8 equal sized patties. 

4. Cook immediately on a pre-heated grill or freeze for later use.  Serve with desired condiments.

Source: Annie’s Eats who adapted from Simply Recipes

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Aug 30, 2010

Tuna and White Bean Pitas

As soon as I saw this recipe I knew it was something that my husband and I would both enjoy.  It is healthy, fulfilling and super easy to put together.  No only did this make for a super easy dinner – it was also a great lunch to pack for work.  I could see myself making a bowl of this and eating it in pitas for lunch throughout the work week (but for now I usually have leftovers almost every day!).   Also a great meal when it is super hot outside and you don’t want to stand over a hot grill or stove.  Enjoy!


  • 2 (6 oz.) cans of tuna (packed in oil), drained
  • 1 (15 oz.) can white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 roasted red pepper, roughly chopped
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 2 Tbsp. capers, roughly chopped
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
  • pita pockets & romaine lettuce, for serving


1. Mix tuna, beans, red pepper, tomato, lemon zest, and capers in a large bowl.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and parsley. Pour over tuna mixture and mix to combine.

3. Serve salad in pita pockets with romaine lettuce.

Source: adapted from The Sweets Life and Erin’s Food Files

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Aug 26, 2010

Daring Bakers: Baked Alaska

The August 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Elissa of 17 and Baking. For the first time, The Daring Bakers partnered with Sugar High Fridays for a co-event and Elissa was the gracious hostess of both. Using the theme of beurre noisette, or browned butter, Elissa chose to challenge Daring Bakers to make a pound cake to be used in either a Baked Alaska or in Ice Cream Petit Fours. The sources for Elissa’s challenge were Gourmet magazine and David Lebovitz’s “The Perfect Scoop”.
I was really excited to try this months challenge – the pound cake sounded delicious and I love homemade ice cream.  And the use of a kitchen torch on egg whites is one of my favorite things to do (see here, here or here for more of that!)
I ended up making one quarter of the original recipe for the brown butter pound cake – and it fit perfectly into two small crème brulee cups.  Then I used two small pyrex cups to portion the ice cream – which fit perfectly on top of the cakes! 
I also used my favorite ingredient – peaches – in the ice cream.  I used Dorie Greenspans honey peach ice cream recipe (which is so good that it deserves its own post – so that recipe is coming soon!).  The honey/peach flavor really complimented the nutty, brown-butter pound cake.  And the toasted meringue on the baked alaska was the perfect topping.   Such a fun challenge – I can’t wait to see what is next!

Brown Butter Pound Cake

Ingredients (for the entire recipe)

  • 19 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cups sifted cake flour (not self-rising; sift before measuring)
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract


1. Preheat the oven to 325°F and put a rack in the center. Butter and flour a 9”x9” square pan.

2. Place the butter in a 10” skillet over medium heat. Brown the butter until the milk solids are a dark chocolate brown and the butter smells nutty. (Don’t take your eyes off the butter in case it burns.) Pour into a shallow bowl and chill in the freezer until just congealed, 15-30 minutes.

3. Whisk together cake flour, baking powder, and salt.

4. Beat the brown butter, light brown sugar, and granulated sugar in an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well, and then the vanilla extract.

5. Stir in the flour mixture at low speed until just combined.

6. Scrape the batter into the greased and floured 9”x9” square pan. Smooth the top with a rubber spatula and rap the pan on the counter. Bake until golden brown on top and when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes.

7. Cool in the pan 10 minutes. Run a knife along the edge and invert right-side-up onto a cooling rack to cool completely.


Meringue (For the Baked Alaska)


  • 8 large egg whites
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar


1.  Beat the egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt on high speed in an electric mixer until soft peaks form.

2. Beat in the sugar gradually in a slow stream until stiff peaks form.


Assembly Instructions – Baked Alaska

1. Line four 4” diameter tea cups with plastic wrap, so that plastic wrap covers all the sides and hangs over the edge. Fill to the top with ice cream (use any flavor ice cream that your heart desires!). Cover the top with the overhanging plastic wrap and freeze for several hours, or until solid.

2. Level the top of the brown butter pound cake with a serrated knife or with a cake leveler. Cut out four 4” diameter circles from the cake. Discard the scraps or use for another purpose.

3. Make the meringue (see above.)

4. Unwrap the ice cream “cups” and invert on top of a cake round. Trim any extra cake if necessary.

5. Pipe the meringue over the ice cream and cake, or smooth it over with a spatula, so that none of the ice cream or cake is exposed. Freeze for one hour or up to a day.

6. Burn the tips of the meringue with a cooking blow torch.  Or, bake the meringue-topped Baked Alaskas on a rimmed baking sheet in a 500°F oven for 5 minutes until lightly golden. Serve immediately.

Thanks Elissa of 17 and Baking for the great challenge this month!  And check out the Daring Bakers blogroll to see how everyone else did!

Guacamole Salad

This is such an ingenious recipe – it’s essentially guacamole without the mashing – plus a few other goodies added in.   You can serve this as a side dish – but you could also grab a bag of tortilla chips and eat just this for lunch or dinner.  
And just look at how colorful it is! 
Something this colorful has to be good for you too!  :) 


  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved (or 1-2 whole tomatoes, diced)
  • 1 red or yellow (or purple!) bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup red onion, diced
  • 1 minced jalapeno pepper, ribs and seeds removed
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lime zest
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/4 fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 ripe Hass avocados, seeded, peeled, and 1/2 inch dice


1. Combine the tomatoes, peppers, black beans, red onion, jalapeno, and lime zest in a large bowl.

2. Whisk together the lime juice, cilantro, olive oil, salt, black pepper, garlic, and cayenne pepper and pour over vegetables. Toss well.

3. Just before serving, fold the diced avocados.

Source: adapted from Pink Parsley Catering, originally from Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa at Home

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Aug 25, 2010

Chickpea Pasta Salad

This was the other dish I made for my sisters annual summer party.  I wanted to make a pasta salad that would hold up well outside and taste delicious too.  I definitely made the right choice.  This salad was out of this world!  Everyone who tried it loved it too.   It was a winning combination of sun-dried tomatoes, chickpeas, arugula, fresh mozzarella, walnuts and a balsamic vinaigrette dressing.  I would definitely make this again!    YUM!


  • 1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. fresh chopped thyme
  • 1 tsp. fresh chopped oregano
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 lb fresh mozzarella (cut into cubes)
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1 lb. medium-sized pasta shells (I used gemelli)
  • 1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
  • 2-4 cups arugula
  • 1 (3.5 oz.) bag sun dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup toasted walnuts


1. Drain and rinse chickpeas.

2. Combine vinegar, garlic, salt, thyme, oregano, pepper and olive oil. Whisk to mix. Stir in chickpeas and mozzarella. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 30 min-1 hour.

3. Make pasta according to box directions. Drain and add to chickpea mixture.

4. Toss with parmesan, arugula, sun dried tomatoes, and walnuts. Serve immediately.

Source: adapted from The Sweets Life originally from Mollie Katzen's Get Cooking

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Aug 24, 2010

Margarita Cupcakes

I have been waiting for the right time to make these cupcakes – and I finally had the chance for my sisters annual summer party.   I love margaritas and tequila – so it was no surprise that I loved these as well.  Although they were more like lime cupcakes than margarita cupcakes.  I opted to not add the additional tequila to the cupcakes for two reasons – one was that my cupcakes were so moist and crumbly already that I thought they might fall apart if I added anything else and I knew that some kids would probably want to try these.   So there was just a tablespoon in the frosting – so it gave them a hint of tequila flavor.  Maybe if you did a shot of tequila and ate one of these as a chaser – you would get true tequila effect ;)


For the cupcakes:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3 limes, zested and juiced
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk

For the frosting:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 large egg whites
  • Pinch fleur de sel (coarse salt)
  • 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2-4 Tbsp. tequila


To make the cupcakes:

1. Preheat the oven to 325˚ F. 

2. Line two cupcake pans with paper liners. 

3. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt; whisk with a fork to blend. 

4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes.

5. Blend in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Beat in the lime zest, lime juice and vanilla. 

6. With the mixer on low speed, mix in the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.  Beat each addition just until incorporated.

7. Divide the batter between the prepared cupcake liners, filling each about 2/3 full.  Bake 20-24 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool in the pan 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. 

To make the frosting:

1. Combine the sugar, egg whites, and salt in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water.  Heat, whisking frequently, until the mixture reaches 160° F and the sugar has dissolved.

2. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form and the mixture has cooled to room temperature, about 8 minutes.

3. Reduce the speed to medium and add the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, adding more once each addition has been incorporated.   Stir in the lime juice and tequila and mix until fully incorporated and smooth.

4. Frost the cooled cupcakes with the buttercream.  Garnish with lime zest, fleur de sel and lime slices as desired.

Source: adapted from Annie’s Eats who adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride, who adapted it from Martha Stewart

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Aug 23, 2010

Garlic Rice Pilaf

I posted a crockpot version of rice pilaf before – but this a recipe that bakes in the oven.   Fortunately I have a double oven – and this cooks perfectly in the smaller upper oven – which doesn’t really heat up the house.   I love the garlic flavor and even though this bakes for a long time (plan ahead when making this meal!) the rice ends up perfectly cooked.    It is a simple, flavorful side dish that pairs well with chicken, fish, pork or beef.  So it is definitely one of my go-to recipes!


  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup long-grain white rice
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken broth, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • Squeeze of lemon juice


1. Preheat the oven to 375° F. 

2. In a saucepan or skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat.  Add the garlic and rice to the pan and cook until both are golden brown, about 3-4 minutes.

3. Stir in 1 cup of the chicken broth, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. 

4. Pour the mixture into a 2 qt. casserole dish, cover, and bake for 25 minutes. 

5. Stir in the remaining 1 1/2 cups chicken broth and bake, covered, for another 45 minutes.

6. About 15 minutes before it is finished baking, stir in a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

Source: Annie’s Eats

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Aug 20, 2010

Peach Jam Scones

This is my weekly summer peach recipe – I added these to my baking list immediately after seeing them on so many blogs a few weeks ago as part of project pastry queen.  They looked so delicious – I had to try them right away.  I also made my own vanilla bean - peach jam last summer (pre-blog so no recipe to share!) and I still had a jar of it – that was perfect for this recipe.  
I made 2/3 of the original recipe and it still gave me 12 large scones!  I ended up freezing the 8 scones that I didn’t immediately cook – so I can make them for an easy breakfast treat anytime!  I’ve been freezing so many things lately, I feel like I need an second freezer just to keep up.   Enjoy!


(this is the full recipe – it will make HUGE scones – so it may be best to halve or make 2/3 of this recipe)

  • 6 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup high quality peach jam
  • 3 fresh peaches, pitted & sliced


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (if baking immediately).

2. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, process the flour, 1 cup of sugar, the baking powder and salt for about 30 seconds.

3. Cut the butter into 1/2-inch cubes and add it to the flour mixture. Pulse about 15 times, until the butter-flour mixture is crumbly.

4. With the processor running, slowly pour 1 1/2 cups buttermilk through the feed tube. Stop the processor as soon as the buttermilk has been added. If the dough has begun to stick together in a ball, remove it. Otherwise, add buttermilk one Tablespoon at a time and pulse until dough begins to clump up and form a ball.

5. Place the dough on a lightly floured flat surface. Pat dough into a 1/4-inch-thick rectangle, about 12×10 inches.

6. Spread a thin layer of jam length-wise over half the dough and arrange the peach slices in a single layer on top of the jam.

7. Fold the plain dough over the peaches making a 12 by 5-inch rectangle with the jam & peaches inside. Cut into 8-16 triangles and sprinkle the top with the remaining 1/4 cup sugar.

8. Bake on an ungreased baking sheet for 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.

note: if freezing – shape and cut dough – then place on baking sheets in the freezer until solid frozen. Then store in freezer bags.  When ready to bake – preheat oven to 425 degrees F and bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. 

Source: The Pastry Queen by Rebecca Rather, as seen on Delish

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Aug 19, 2010

Chocolate Toffee Cookies

Cookies prior to baking – just slice and bake – so easy!
I needed a recipe that I could prepare several days in advance and just have enough time to bake the day before I needed them.  So I searched around some of my favorite food blogs – and with Smitten Kitchen (no surprise there!) I found the perfect recipe.   She touts these as better than World Peace Cookies – and I have to agree they are right up to par with those!  
I would definitely go the route that I did – which was to freeze the dough in logs and then slice and bake.  It really helped to get the perfectly round and consistent cookie.  They are definitely best when cool – so they were perfect the next day when I needed them.   I seriously want to keep a batch of these in my freeze at all times and just slice and bake as needed – they are that good.


  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 pound bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 3/4 cups (packed) brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 7-ounces Heath bars, coarsely chopped [note: use the candy bar – not the toffee bits]
  • 1 cup walnuts, toasted, chopped
  • Flaky sea salt (fleur de sel) for sprinkling


1. Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in small bowl. 

2. Stir chocolate and butter in top of double boiler set over simmering water until melted and smooth. Remove from over water. Cool mixture to lukewarm.

3. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and eggs in bowl until thick, about 5 minutes. Beat in chocolate mixture and vanilla.

4. Stir in flour mixture, then toffee and nuts. Chill batter in refrigerator until firm, about 45 minutes.

5. Roll the dough into logs about 1.5 – 2 inches in diameter, wrap with wax paper and two layers of plastic wrap.  Place in freezer – can be frozen for up to a month.

6. When ready to bake – cut into 1/2-inch slices. 

7. Preheat oven to 350° F.

8. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.  Place sliced cookies on sheet about 2 inches apart.

9. Sprinkle with a pinch of flaky sea salt. Bake just until tops are dry and cracked but cookies are still soft to touch, about 15 -18 minutes. Cool on sheets.  Then let cool completely before serving.

Source: Smitten Kitchen

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Aug 18, 2010

Grilled Salt and Vinegar Potatoes

I was really intrigued by this recipe when I first saw it – since I love salt and vinegar potato chips – I had a feeling that I would love these as well.  And I was right – they had a great vinegar flavor and the grill gives them a nice crispy charred outside with the soft and creamy interior.   They are super easy to make so they are perfect for an easy side dish when grilling your main protein.  Enjoy!


  • 1 pound potatoes, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices [I used Yukon Gold]
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper


1. Bring potatoes and vinegar to a boil in a medium saucepan (vinegar should cover potatoes). Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer potatoes until just fork tender, about 5 minutes.

2. Let potatoes cool in vinegar for 30 minutes. Drain well, and gently toss with oil, salt, and pepper.

3. Preheat grill to medium-high. Grill potatoes in a single layer until browned on both sides and cooked through, about 5 minutes per side.

4. Sprinkle with additional salt before serving.

source: seen on Stylish Cuisine originally from Martha Stewart Living, June 2009

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Aug 17, 2010

Thai Basil Chicken

I finally got hold of some thai basil – but it was actually pretty easy – since I grew it in my backyard!  My mom actually started it from seed for me.  So it really started out tiny – and it has finally gotten big enough to use with out picking off every single leaf! 
This dish exceeded my expectations – it was super flavorful and delicious.  I ended up adding too many chilies (and seeds) so this was way hotter than I usually cook – but that is easily resolved by adding less next time.  This is perfect for a quick, weeknight meal and the leftovers were great too – so Enjoy!


  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 - 6 “bird’s eye” chilies, minced with seeds (use more/less to taste)
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 10 oz. chicken breast, ground or finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. soy sauce
  • 2 tsp. brown sugar
  • 1 big bunch Thai basil leaves, stems removed
  • 2 dashes ground white pepper
  • 7 oz. (half a box) rice noodles


1. Prepare rice noodles according to package directions. [I soaked mine in hot water for 20-30 minutes]

2. Heat a wok or a heavy skillet over medium high heat until very hot.

3. Add the oil, garlic and chilies and stir fry until until the garlic is very fragrant.

4. Add the shallots and continue stir frying until they have wilted. Add the chicken and fry until the chicken is cooked.

5. Stir in the fish sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar and white pepper. 

6. Add rice noodles to the pan and continue to stir fry until any liquid has evaporated and noodles are softened.

7. Add the basil and stir until the leaves are wilted and bright green.

Source: adapted from Gimme Some Oven

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Aug 16, 2010

Grilled Banana S'mores

In an effort to beat the heat this summer – I have been doing tons of grilling.  So I was really intrigued when I saw this recipe – since I have never made dessert on the grill before (although grilled peaches are high on my list to make – I know I’m missing out not trying that!).  Not only do you grill the bananas to get them nice and caramelized – you cook the graham cracker crust and chocolate/marshmallows right on the grill too.  I ended up finishing this with my kitchen torch – just to get the charred top – but these were a really nice after dinner treat!  Enjoy!



  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 egg yolk


  • 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter melted
  • 1 tsp. brown sugar
  • 2 medium bananas, firm but ripe
  • 4 cups mini marshmallows
  • 1/2 – 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips


1. Preheat the grill on medium heat.

2. In a large bowl, combine the crust ingredients and mix well.  Press into a 8x8 inch baking pan. 

3. Grill the crust on indirect medium heat (no directly on the flame) with the lid closed.  One firm and lightly browned – about 6-8 minutes, remove crust from grill and set aside to cool.

3.  In a small bowl combine the brown sugar and 1 Tbsp. of melted butter.  Cut each banana in half lengthwise, leaving the skins attached.  Brush the cut sides with the butter/sugar mixture.

4.  Grill the bananas directly over medium heat, until they soften – 2-4 minutes.  Set aside and let cool.  Then slice into cubes.

5. Fill the pan with 2 cups of marshmallows, top with bananas and half of the chips.  Then top with the rest of the marshmallows and chips.

6. Grill over indirect heat with the lid closed – until the marshmallows have puffed up and start to brown 5-7 minutes.  Using a kitchen torch – brown the tops of the marshmallows. 

7. Serve warm and spoon into bowls. 

Source: Weber’s Way to Grill

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Aug 13, 2010

Peach Blueberry Streusel Muffins

I have been blogging over 9 months and I have yet to introduce any recipes using my favorite food item – fresh, local, peaches.  The key word is local – since peaches are pretty much inedible otherwise.  So I have to wait all year until the end of July/beginning of August rolls around and I can finally indulge in the tastiest fruit on the planet!  So now that peach season is in full swing – I have been enjoying them in my yogurt every morning for breakfast and I have begun using them in as many recipes as possible.  So every Friday until I run out of time and peach season is over – I am going to share a new recipe using my favorite ingredient. 
First up, are these peach blueberry streusel muffins.  Wow – they were delicious and so easy to whip up.  I love muffins with a streusel topping and peaches and blueberries go really well together!  Enjoy! 


(makes 10 muffins)

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted & cooled
  • 2 Tbsp. buttermilk
  • 1 medium sized peach, pitted & chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh blueberries

Streusel topping:

  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans
  • 3 Tbsp. brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 3 Tbsp. cup flour
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon


1. Preheat oven to 375° F. 

2. Coat 10 muffin tins with baking spray or line cups using liners.

3. Combine all dry ingredients, flours through cinnamon in a large bowl.

4. In a small bowl, whisk the yogurt and eggs together.

5. Gently fold the yogurt-egg mixture into the dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in the melted butter, chopped peaches and blueberries. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.

6. To make the streusel topping: In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Mix in pecans.

7. Sprinkle topping evenly over muffin batter.

8. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffins comes out clean, approximately 25-30 minutes.

9. Let the muffins cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then flip out onto a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Source: adapted from Delish

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Aug 12, 2010

Chewy Brownies

Wow!  I have a tendency to make complicated and different desserts.  But sometimes just a simple brownie reminds you that the basics are just as good, if not better, than any fun variation. 
Not only were these brownies super easy to whip up – they were perfectly chewy and chocolaty.  They blow any box-mix out of the water with both flavor and texture.  My coworkers that got to enjoy these really loved them too!  Enjoy – this is a keeper!


  • 1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa
  • 1 1/2 tsp. instant espresso (optional)
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons boiling water
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
  • 4 Tbsp. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp. table salt
  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips


1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Make a foil sling using the following steps: Cut 18-inch length foil and fold lengthwise to 8-inch width. Fit foil into length of 13 by 9-inch baking pan, pushing it into corners and up sides of pan; allow excess to overhang pan edges. Cut 14-inch length foil and fit into width of pan in the same manner, perpendicular to the first sheet (if using extra-wide foil, fold second sheet lengthwise to 12-inch width). Spray with nonstick cooking spray.

3. Whisk cocoa, espresso powder (if using), and boiling water together in large bowl until smooth.

4. Add unsweetened chocolate and whisk until chocolate is melted.

5. Whisk in melted butter and oil. (Mixture may look curdled.)

6. Add eggs, yolks, and vanilla and continue to whisk until smooth and homogeneous. Whisk in sugar until fully incorporated.

7. Add flour and salt and mix with rubber spatula until combined. Fold in bittersweet chocolate chips.

8. Scrape batter into prepared pan and bake until toothpick inserted halfway between edge and center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer pan to wire rack and cool 1½ hours.

9. Using foil overhang, lift brownies from pan. Return brownies to wire rack and let cool completely, about 1 hour. Cut into 2-inch squares and serve.

Source: Cook’s Illustrated March 2010

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Aug 11, 2010

Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese

As you can tell – I am a fan of Buffalo Chicken, as evidenced in this salad , these sloppy joes and this chicken wing dip.  And I can say that proudly – since I am from Buffalo, NY – the birthplace of the Chicken wing!   All that being said – the key ingredient really is Frank’s Red Hot sauce – there is nothing else like it and definitely no substitute.  The other key ingredient is real blue cheese crumbles – I actually buy a little wedge of buttermilk blue cheese, and I crumble it myself.  It is so creamy and fresh that way.   So this macaroni and cheese recipe is just another way to enjoy those flavors.   I loved this dish (my husband was just – eh about it though – but don’t listen to him!)
The recipe below makes about four servings – so double it if you are serving a crowd.   This also tastes great as leftovers – I ended up eating it for lunch several days in a row and I never grew tired of it.   Enjoy! 
  • 1/2 lb. medium shell pasta
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 3/4 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup Franks Red Hot Sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups sharp white cheddar, shredded
  • 3 ounces crumbled blue cheese
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken (from 1 large chicken breast)
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 2 Tbsp. melted unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Lightly butter a 2 qt. baking dish and set aside.  Also bring a large pot of water to boil; season with salt once boiling.
3. In another heavy bottom pot, melt 2 Tbsp. butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1-2 minutes. Slowly stir in milk, cook, stirring frequently, until mixture boils and thickens (takes at least 10 minutes).
4. Add pasta to now boiling water and cook for 8-10 minutes or until al dente. Drain and set aside.
5. Once the milk/flour/butter mixture is thick, turn heat to low and add the hot sauce and cheeses.  Stir until cheese is fully melted and incorporated. Taste and season with salt and pepper as necessary.
6. In the now empty pasta pot, combine the pasta, shredded chicken and cheese sauce until thoroughly mixed; transfer to baking dish.
7. In a small bowl, combine panko bread crumbs, melted butter and seasoned salt until moist. Evenly spread the crumbs over the top of the macaroni and cheese. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and the topping is browned.
Source: slightly adapted from Norfolk Cooking Examiner
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Aug 10, 2010

Watermelon Sorbetto

There is nothing more refreshing than cool sorbet on a really hot summer day.  I had an entire watermelon for just the two of us – so I wanted to try to make something with part of it.  And this was the perfect choice – so cool and refreshing!   My husband went into the freezer to get some and asked me “why I left the seeds in it?”  I played along and told him that I was just following the recipe.  It wasn’t until he started eating it that he realized the ‘seeds’ are actually mini chocolate chips :)    Enjoy!


  • 3 lbs. watermelon, seeded and cubed
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tbsp vodka
  • 2 tbsp mini chocolate chips


1. Purée the watermelon in a food processor or blender. Run the watermelon purée through a fine mesh strainer. Measure out 3 cups of watermelon juice.

2. In a small saucepan, heat approximately 1/2 cup of the watermelon juice along with the sugar and salt until the sugar has thoroughly dissolved. Remove from the heat.

3. Combine the watermelon juice in the saucepan with the other watermelon juice and place in a medium sized bowl. Stir in the lime juice and vodka.

4. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator.

5. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions. During the last minute of freezing, pour in the chocolate chips.

6. Remove from the ice cream maker’s bowl and place in a container. Place the container in the freezer to finish freezing.

Source: The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

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Aug 9, 2010

Grilled lemon Green Beans

I don’t know why I have never tried grilling green beans before – but I know this will not be my last time.  Especially when you are already cooking your other items on the grill – I paired this with the Lemon Oregano Potatoes and some locally raised flat iron steak.  You obviously need to cook them on a grill pan – but it is really super quick and really brings out the fresh taste.   Enjoy this while you have time – before summer passes by and fresh, local green beans are gone! 


  • 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 lb. fresh green beans
  • kosher salt


1. Using a vegetable peeler, remove wide strips of the yellow zest from the lemon. 

2. Put in a small saucepan with the oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes.  Cook over low heat until the garlic simmers.  Let simmer for about 2 minutes, then remove from heat and let cool and steep for 30 minutes – 1 hour. 

3. Remove the lemon zest and garlic from the oil and add in 1/2 tsp. kosher salt.

4. Preheat grill and grill pan over medium for 10 minutes.

5. Pour oil mixture over the green beans and toss to coat.

6. Using tongs lift out the beans onto the grill.   Spread the beans on the grill in a single layer and cook until browned and tender – about 5 to 7 minutes. 

7. Remove from pan and season to taste with salt and freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Source: Weber’s Way to Grill

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Aug 6, 2010

Grilled Lemon Oregano Potatoes

This is the perfect summer side dish.  They are so flavorful and delicious – and I got to use more fresh oregano from my garden.  I had no idea how huge an oregano plant could get so quickly! 

The trick with this recipe is that the potatoes are cut in half and skewered (with wooden skewers), brushed with lemon/oregano/garlic infused oil and then microwaved to get softened.  Then when they are grilled the potato gets crispy on the outside – and it is already mostly cooked on the inside.  And to make them even better – the lemon/oregano/garlic mixture gets added in at the end to get a really fresh flavorful potato.   Definitely one of my favorites – and I’ve been making them every summer for the last few years – so they have to be good if I do that! :)  Enjoy!


  • Vegetable oil for cooking grate
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. chopped fresh oregano leaves, divided
  • 1/2 Tbsp. grated lemon zest
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound Red Bliss potatoes (about 9), scrubbed clean, halved, and skewered on wooden skewers
  • Ground black pepper
  • Lemon wedges, for serving


1. Preheat grill on high.  When hot, oil grates with vegetable oil and reduce heat to medium on half of the grill.

2. Heat olive oil, garlic, 1 tablespoon oregano, 1 teaspoons lemon zest, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in small skillet over medium heat until sizzling, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook until garlic is light blond, about 3 minutes.

3. Pour mixture through fine-mesh strainer into small bowl; press on solids. Measure 1/2 tablespoon solids and 1/2 tablespoon oil into large bowl and set aside. Discard remaining solids but reserve remaining oil.

4. Place skewered potatoes in single layer on large microwave-safe plate and poke each potato several times with skewer. Brush with 1/2 tablespoon strained oil and season liberally with salt. Microwave on high power until potatoes offer slight resistance when pierced with tip of paring knife, about 8 minutes, turning them halfway through cooking time.

5. Transfer potatoes to baking sheet coated with 1/2 tablespoon strained oil. Brush with remaining strained oil; season with salt and pepper to taste.

6. Place potatoes on hotter part of grill. Cook, with lid down, turning once, until grill marks appear, about 4 minutes. Move potatoes to cooler part of grill; continue to cook with lid down until paring knife slips in and out of potatoes easily, 5 to 8 minutes longer.

7. Remove potatoes from skewers and transfer to bowl with reserved oregano-oil mixture. Add remaining 1 teaspoons oregano and 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest; toss until thoroughly coated. Serve immediately with lemon wedges.

Source: Cook’s Illustrated

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Aug 5, 2010

Brown Sugar Salmon on a Cedar Plank

I bought a set of cedar grilling planks at the end of the summer clearance last year at my grocery local store – Wegmans.  They have been sitting in my garage since last year – and I finally decided that it was time to try them out!   And I am so glad I did – I wasn’t quite sure what to expect flavor-wise.   But there really was a woodsy flavor imparted into the salmon, and along with the black pepper/brown sugar coating – these were delicious.   Cooking fish can really be tricky – you want it done just to the right temperature – if its overdone, its really chewy and not too appetizing, and if its underdone – you are eating raw fish.   So I always use my themapen when cooking fish (and really – I use it all time with tons of dishes) but it is really important to get the right temperature.   And using the cedar plank cooked the fish slow enough that I was able to get these cooked absolutely perfectly.  YUM! 


  • 1 cedar plank – soaked in water for 1 hour
  • 2 salmon fillets
  • 1 1/2 tsp. brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. black pepper


1.  Preheat grill on High. Combine brown sugar and cracked pepper together in small bowl; mix well.

2. Arrange salmon on plank; rub brown sugar mixture evenly over fillets.

3. Place plank with salmon on grill; close cover. Reduce heat to medium; cook salmon 12-15 min, until internal temp reaches 130 degrees.  Remove from grill; let rest at least 2 min.

Source: Wegmans

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Aug 4, 2010

Garlic lemon Chicken kabobs

I wanted something healthy, fresh and easy to serve with the tabbouleh that I made.  I thought these garlic-lemon chicken kabobs were the perfect fit.   And I had two homemade pita breads left in my freezer – so this was the perfect, delicious (and super easy) summer meal.   I love the flavor of grilled chicken – and cooking it on a skewer makes this a super quick dinner.  I am definitely going to be making this recipe many times to come!  Enjoy!


  • 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch chunks


1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon zest, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper.  Add the chicken pieces to the bowl and mix to coat with the marinade.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 8 hours.

2. Pre-heat your grill to medium heat.  

3. Thread the chicken pieces onto skewers and discard the excess marinade.  Lightly oil the grill grates. 

4. Place the kabobs on the grill, cover, and cook until the chicken is opaque throughout, about 8-12 minutes, turning once or twice during cooking. 

Source: Annie’s Eats

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Aug 3, 2010


Tabbouleh is a Lebanese dish that consists of bulgur wheat, parsley and mint, tomatoes, green onions and olive oil.   Since I have an herb garden this year – and its overflowing with fresh herb goodness – I am making every effort to use fresh herbs in as many recipes as possible.   And tabbouleh seemed like the perfect recipe to do that!  It was very delicious and healthy – and super easy to make.  I had a bowl of this and a slice of pita bread for lunch the next day.  So healthy – and fulfilling.   Definitely recommend it – especially if you like trying new types of foods!


(note: the recipe below makes a large amount – I recommend making half if serving 2 adults and having some leftovers)

  • 1 cup bulgur wheat
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 2 lemons)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 cup minced scallions, white and green parts (1 bunch)
  • 1 cup chopped fresh mint leaves (1 bunch)
  • 1 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley (1 bunch)
  • 1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and diced
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


1. Place the bulgur in a large bowl, pour in the boiling water, and add the lemon juice, olive oil, and salt. Stir, then allow to stand at room temperature for about 1 hour.

2. Add the scallions, mint, parsley, cucumber, tomatoes and the pepper; mix well.

3. Season, to taste, and serve or cover and refrigerate. The flavor will improve if the tabbouleh sits for a few hours.

Source: Ina Garten from the Barefoot Contessa

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Aug 2, 2010

Buttermilk Waffles

Waffle batter and my rainbow whisk!
Waffles are one of those things that I really love but I don’t make often or even eat that often.  If for some reason I go out for breakfast – which is very, very rarely I almost always order an omelet.   Luckily (and unlucky for me) my camera decided to somehow lose a bunch of photos I took.  And well, these waffles were too good to not make again right way just so I could blog about them.  I think they are going to be something I make again and again.   They are quick to whip up and while the batter rests, you can pre-heat the waffle iron and get together your toppings together.     
The first time I made these I topped with some fresh local strawberries – and this time with some fresh blueberries – and of course, real maple syrup. Whatever you use top these with – they are sure to be a hit for a weekend morning breakfast.  Enjoy!


  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. table salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract


1. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Whisk well.

2. Add the milk, buttermilk, vegetable oil, egg, and vanilla extract. Whisk to blend well, so that few (if any) lumps remain. Set aside to rest for about 30 minutes.

3. Preheat a waffle iron on a medium color setting (will vary depending on your waffle maker).

4. Pour an appropriate amount of batter into your hot waffle maker (depending on shape and size of your maker – mine makes 3 waffles with this recipe). Cook until golden and crisp.

Source: Orangette

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