Archive for category Vegetables
It’s freezing. Almost literally. I know all you people who live even 200 miles north of Florida can’t stand our posts about 85 degree beach days in the middle of January, so this weekend you are probably not feeling all that sympathetic that we are FREEZING! Just like Northerners, I always become inspired to cook comfort foods when it’s blustery out and, not wanting to venture into the biting wind, I was not about to go hunting ingredients further than my own kitchen.
I have a secret. It’s horrible. It’s embarrassing. It’s not something I’m proud of. Here it is: I love tropical storms. I love the power they exude. With the first announcement of a named storm, I am glued to NOAA. If I live in what my family refers to as the “cone of doom”, I check each update which occurs every 5, 8, 11, and 2 o’clock hour, am and pm. Living in Florida has taught me to have great respect for these storms. I have seen first hand the destruction that can occur from storms like Katrina, Ivan, Charley, and Andrew, so though I love tracking them and watching them develop, I do it with the understanding that lives can change, even end, as a storm passes. Still, I love watching the swirling clouds, the rain blow sideways, and the roar of the wind as it rushes over my house.
As the second named storm of the not-even-begun season put me and my family smack dab in the cone of doom, I started tracking the sucker. And planning what I would do as we waiting for Beryl to arrive. Now, this is a minor storm. It means that it’s going to rain a lot and be a bit windy, so we’re not packing up and leaving town. We’re preparing to be inside for awhile and keeping an eye on things. My first thought:
Knowing a storm is headed your way means a few things. First, you have to make your preparations and for this kind of storm, that just means, stock up on food and bring in any loose outside planters, toys, and patio furniture. So, knowing two days in advance that we would probably have a storm on the Sunday before Memorial Day, we decided to grill out as much as possible until we were forced inside. I am also going to note that I’m growing basil and have a cheese obsession. You’ll notice the theme as the weekend diary progresses.
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Today, I played an April Fool’s joke on myself. See, I hate fish. I’ve hated it for years. My dad used to grill grouper every summer and I suffered through each of those dinners, picking bones and making faces. So, it took a long time for Hubby to convince me to try ahi tuna, the trendy appetizer at almost every restaurant in the first decade of the millennium. Ok, yes, it was perfection on a plate. But I was holding my line in the sand, I hate fish. Then again, since my foray into the food blogging world, I have decided I need to be more adventurous and try things that I claim to hate.
On a whim, I bought tilapia filets. It’s presumably spring out, but in my sunny state of Florida, that means it’s summer. The thermometer reads 83, but I know its hotter. It is definitely grilling season. Grilled tilapia it is. I started making lemon butter based on this recipe I found via quick Google search. Minus the shallots and capers because I had neither on hand. Note to self, must remember to buy more capers, I love those little pebbles of briny goodness.
Hubby grilled the fish while I worked up herb risotto based on this recipe. I had to alter it a lot as I hate mushrooms. No, I’m not willing to give in to two of my stubborn beliefs in one day. The cup and a half of chicken broth was not near enough, so beware and have at least that much more on hand. Hubby grilled the last of our zucchini with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Overall, great meal! Turns out I liked the fish! A lot! I promised we could have it once a week without complaints from me and I’m willing to try some other varieties. Lesson learned, keep trying the things you think you hate, because one day you just might fool yourself into liking them!
It’s entertaining to watch me entertain. This past weekend, we had some of our best friends visit. We met in college and they loved me in spite of my disasters in the kitchen back then. You know, when I couldn’t make boxed brownies or even brown chicken into something edible. So, when they come to visit, a part of me feels this inexplicable need to show off a little and prove I can cook. What? Everyone wins in the end! They get entertained with my kitchen drama and everyone gets to eat palatable food that survives the drama!
I made almond chocolate truffles based on this recipe I found at SimplyRecipes. (Side note, I used the cool tool called ZipList that lets you save the recipe to your own account and makes a shopping list for you. Pretty nice!!) I made the truffles with 1/2 tsp of almond extract and 1/2 tsp vanilla and I planned on chilling them in the shape I wanted rather than roll them into balls. However, I knew they would stick in the mini muffin tins I was using, so I searched three stores looking for silicon muffin liners. No such luck. I cut out a small round parchment paper liner for the bottom of each muffin holder, put a thin layer of slivered almonds on the liner and then used my small ice cream scooper to fill the muffin tin with the chocolate truffle mixture before chilling. When it came time to remove the truffles, I ended up chipping into them before they finally got them to pop out only slightly damaged. Good thing I made 24 truffles! Go on, laugh. It was amusing.
Cornbread is such a versatile side. It can be spicy, sweet, or very savory depending on what you want to do with it. I found a wonderful recipe on allrecipes.com called Camp Cornbread. It had rave reviews and promised to be devoured quickly. Score! I had all of it mixed up before I realized that I didn’t have an 8 oz can of creamed corn, I had an 8 oz can of kernel corn. Awesome. What to do? I settled for replacing the creamed corn with my frozen Green Giant’s Niblet’s in Butter Sauce, cooked half way through. It added the butter flavor and a little texture. I’m sure the creamed corn would have been better, but I got points for resourcefulness!
I had to make my staple: braised pearl onions from Julia Child. She says the easiest way to peel the skins is to drop them in boiling water for 5-10 seconds to let the skins loosen. Then, cut the root ball off and squeeze, they pop out! Well, yes, they pop out a little too easily. Picture the scene in Pretty Woman where Julia Roberts looses control of the escargot. “Slippery little suckers!”
Funniest part of the night? Making sea salted caramel to plate the truffles. First mistake, didn’t look up a recipe. I thought, I’ve made caramel before, I can wing it. Probably some of the wine contributed to this thought. So, I melted sugar until it was amber. I added heavy cream, forgetting to remove it from the heat and go gentle. I’m lucky it didn’t foam out all over my hand. Didn’t add butter. Did add salt. I spooned some on the plates. Instantly, it hardened into an unbreakable crust on the plates. Now picture me and my friends chipping away at it with our spoons because when you did get some, it was very good. My poor spoons never worked so hard. You’ll be happy to know, I made it again the next night, and it was perfect.
We had a wonderful time. Most of the food was great and the company was better. Life should be one big dinner party.
Stuffed Fried Zucchini
(Based off the idea of fried zucchini blossoms, which I don’t have. Messy & greasy, but good!)
Slice 2 medium zucchinis to 1/4″
Mix 1 cup ricotta, 1 tsp lemon zest, and 2 tsps freshly chopped mint
Spread onto zucchini slice and place another slice on top to make a “zucchini sandwich”. Repeat until all is done.
Whisk 1 1/4 cups of flour & 1 tsp salt with 12 oz brown ale for batter.
Dip zucchini sandwiches into battter and fry in canola oil set at 350 F for about 10 minutes each, until golden brown.
Sprinkle with salt and serve hot.
This has been one of those weeks. You know those weeks. You running all day long and when you finally get home, you sort of wonder if any clear thought passed across your mind. I’m fried. What better reason to fry up some zucchini tonight?
I had one zucchini left in the fridge and once I discovered that my fresh green beans could no longer be described as fresh, I decided I needed to use the zucchini. I thought zucchini fries with panko bread crumbs sounded good. I didn’t even look up a recipe….just made this up based on past frying experience. Turns out these were good! Crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside. Go me!
Step 1. Cut the zucchini in eighths, then cut the strips in half.
Step 2. Put 4 tbsps of flour in a gallon sized storage bag and added the zucchini strips.
Step 3. Shaky, shaky!
Step 4. Bathe each one in a mixture of 1 egg and 2 tbsps milk
Step 5. The fun part……rolling each one in panko bread crumbs. GOOEY!
Step 6. Fry! (Canola oil about 1/4″ deep, med high heat, 2-3 mins on each side)
Step 7. Drain on plate with paper towels.
Step 8. Lightly salt and serve!