Corn Salad

First off, have you guys tried this stuff?

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It’s awesome. I’m not much of a soda drinker but you know those days in the summer when you’re sweating bullets and water just doesn’t seem to do anything for you? This stuff is perfect for those days. It’s a dry soda so it’s not overly sweet, but just enough to do the trick.

Bare with me. They make a cucumber soda and its ammmmmmazing. The orange was good, but the cucumber is really something else. Go try it. You can find it in most large grocery stores.

Now onto the salad.

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Yum.

This is a great thing to bring to bbqs and people will think you’re an amazing cook and everyone will want to be your friend.

I eat is as a salad, but it would be great over grilled chicken if you’re into that kind of thing.

I usually grill the corn first, which adds a nice smokiness to it, but we were out of propane when I wanted to make this salad. Fail. So I just boiled it.

The recipe below serves 2, but can easily be made to serve a crowd. Disclaimer: the proportions are a little but of an estimate, but you get the gist. Enjoy!

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3 Ears of Corn, blanched and cut off the cob

3/4 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half

1/2 cup sliced red onion

1/4 cup fresh parsley, cut

1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese

Olive oil

Red wine vinegar

Salt and Pepper

Boil (or grill) the corn until soft, then let it cool. Cut it off the cob and place into a medium bowl.

Combine the rest of the ingredients, drizzle with olive oil and red wine vinegar and season with salt and pepper to taste.

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Summer Lovin’…Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble

Oh hai there. Remember me? It’s been a while.

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What can I say? Things just got a little coo coo bananas. In a good way, of course.

Like many things in my life, I’m obsessed with rhubarb. So naturally I’ve been figuring out how many things I can put it in. This strawberry rhubarb crumble is a go-to this time of year when berries and fruits are finally coming back into season after eating no-so-fresh berries shipped ALL THE WAY from California all winter…guh, first world problems, right??

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Looks like summer to me.

So funny story.

I always forget to preheat the oven. Like always. Then I have to wait that extra 10 minutes to bake whatever I’m cooking when all I want to do it EAT THE COOKIES.

Anyway. This time I remembered to preheat the oven.

Then this happened.

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Yes, that is a blurry picture of my oven on fire. Oops. Good thing I’ve had a lot of birthdays.

This recipe was a little tough for me because its one of those dishes I usually eye-ball. BUT because I love you guys so much, I took careful notes this time. It has a nice bottom crust, sweet-but-tart filling, and of course a crispy topping.

But you know what it doesn’t have? Enough calories. So top it with some vanilla ice cream and you’ll be all set. Enjoy 🙂

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Ingredients:

4 cups rhubarb, chopped 1/4 in thick

4 cups strawberries, cut into thirds

1 tsp lemon zest

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 tbs corn starch

Topping:

10 Tbs cold butter

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 cup old fashioned oats

1 cup flour

1 1/2 tsp almond extract

Without setting your oven on fire, preheat to 350. Grease a 8×8 in pan.

In a small bowl, dissolve corn starch in lemon juice.

In a medium bowl, mix together strawberries, rhubarb, sugar and zest. Add the juice and corn starch mixture and mix well.

In another bowl, cut the ingredients for the topping together using a pastry cutter until the mixture is in pea-sized balls.

Press half the topping into the bottom of the greased pan (I tend to use a little less than half. Just enough to cover the bottom). Top with the strawberry mixture, then crumble the remaining topping on top. Cook for about an hour, or until the mixture is bubbling and the topping is golden brown.

BBQ Portabella Mushroom Burgers

Who says bbq season isn’t fun for vegetarians?

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My boyfriend just got this new toy. I haven’t cooked for him since. 

I always feel like people pity me when I go to bbqs. Like…oh, hows your veggie burger? Frown. Truth is, I love them. Maybe its just because I haven’t had a burger in so long I don’t remember how awesome they are. Or so my boyfriend says.

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So I’ve been getting creative with what to make on the grill. 

 

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So I made this guy. A portabella mushroom, smothered in bbq sauce, topped with spinach, melted mozzarella cheese and an egg. (My family used to camp a lot when we were younger. My dad used to make eggs on the grill in the morning. Apparently I used to say that Dad was barbecuing the eggs.  I’m taking a page out of your book, Dad.)

See? Barbecues can be fun for everyone!

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Ingredients:

2 portabella mushrooms

BBQ sauce of your choice

1 cup spinach

4 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced thinly

2 eggs

2 rolls

Mayonnaise

Method:

Marinate the mushrooms in sauce for an hour.

Fire up your grill and place a cast iron skillet (or an oven safe pan) on the grill and let it warm up.

Cook the mushroom for about 10 minutes, flipping occasionally.Keep the lid of the grill closed while it cooks..  When it is almost cooked, place the spinach and cheese on top, spray the cast iron pan with cooking spray and crack the egg in it. Salt and pepper the egg and close the lid for another 3-5 minutes, flipping the egg half way through.

When the egg is cooked and the cheese is melted, place the mushroom on a paper towel for a few minutes to allow it to drain (if you can manage, it helps to cut a small slit on the top of the mushroom before allowing it to drain. Otherwise, the bun just gets super soggy and you have mushroom juices dripping all over. Gross.)

While the mushroom is resting, throw the buns on the grill and toast them. Spread mayonnaise on one side, put the mushroom on bottom and top with the egg. 

 

Happy grilling!

Strawberry Salad

Do you ever have those weeks where it feels like you just can’t catch up? Like no matter what you do, your to-do list just keeps getting longer instead of shorter? And you find yourself wishing you had more hours in the day, but then realize that if there were more hours than its just more time for other people to fill with there crap?

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Yeah. I was having one of those weeks.

Theeeen I got my tax return. Suddenly everything seemed a little better.

So naturally I went shopping (don’t worry Mom, I saved some of it). But not your typical girl shopping (okay fine, I bought one pair of shoes). I splurged at the grocery store and the beer store.

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Nom nom nom. Max approves of my taste in beer.

Then I made this awesome salad. My favorite sandwich shop in Buffalo makes a salad like this one, so I thought I’d give it a try. I never made candied walnuts before, but I love them, and figured it was a good excuse to try.

They’re dangerously good.

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This salad is simple, yet complex enough to be very satisfying. It’s just mixed greens, sliced strawberries, goat cheese, candied walnuts, some torn basil leaves, and simple balsamic dressing. It’s tangy, sweet, crunchy, and just yummy. I’m not going to post a recipe, because…umm there’s not really one. It’s a salad. But below is the recipe for the walnuts.

Yum!

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Candied Walnuts:

5 oz walnut halves

2 tbs milk

1/4 cup sugar

sprinkle of salt

3/4 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. Spread the walnuts on a baking sheet, and roast for about 8 minutes. In a medium saucepan, bring all ingredients except vanilla to a soft boil over med low heat for about 6 minutes, or until it reaches 230 degrees. At this point, remove it from the heat and immediately add the vanilla. Add the walnuts and stir to coat. Immediately spread them over wax paper, ensuring that they do not overlap. Let cool for 1 to 2 hours.

Chai Infused Vodka

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Last fall I got super obsessed with infused vodkas. Some were really gross, but this one turned out particularly delicious.

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Chai tea and vanilla beans. That’s it.  Mmmmm. Then came the task of figuring out what to mix with it…because ice alone turned out to be dangerous.

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I thought I’d try something a like a chai latte. So I put it in a shaker with a little vanilla soy milk and honey and the result was amazing! It gets super frothy like a milk shake but better (fact) because it has vodka in it. And its good for you because black tea has antioxidants in it or whatever.  It’s also really good warm. Just warm the milk, making sure it does’t boil, then add the vodka and honey.

On a side note, its finally feeling like spring which basically means it’s almost summer! And I ran my first 5k this weekend which was super fun (congrats on the medal, Mom!). Life is good.

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What else could you do with this infused vodka? Something with apple cider maybe? Tell me your thoughts!

Vanilla Chai Vodka:

16 oz vodka

2 chai tea bags

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

Vanilla Chai Latte:

1 oz chai vodka

1/2 cup vanilla soy milk

2 tsp honey

cinnamon for ganish

For the Vodka:

Place the vodka, tea bags, and vanilla bean in an airtight jar and let sit for about 2 hours (you can vary the time depending on how strong you like your tea). Remove the tea bags, but leave the vanilla bean in the jar. Shake the jar before drinking.

For the Cocktail:

Place the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with 2 or 3 ice cubes. Shake well and pore through a strainer to keep the ice out of your drink. Garnish with cinnamon.

 

(Just don’t get a funny text while drinking it, you don’t want to JSMCTLOMPLSH which, apparently, is a thing)

Hooray for Pizza Day!

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Ahhhh Friday. The best day of the week. Yes, even better than Saturday. You know why? Dogs don’t understand the concept of sleeping in. You go to bed Friday night thinking  “ahh I can’t wait to get a few extra hours of sleep tomorrow.”  But sure enough, 7:30 am there is a black lab staring you down with eyes saying “Wake up! It’s such a great day to be a dog! We’re going to have to best day EVER!!”

Then you’re awake…I guess that means I have time to go to the gym, I guess I can clean the kitchen, I guess I can catch up on some work, etc. So much for relaxing.

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I have spent a lot of time perfecting this recipe. Which means eating a lot of pizza. I’m okay with that. The good news is it’s super easy and fool proof. The bad news is that it does take a bit of babysitting. BUT it freezes really well, so if you have a day off you can make a few batches, freeze it up, and take it out of the freezer whenever you’re ready to use it. The pizza itself cooks up real fast, so it’s a good quick, weekday dinner.

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If you haven’t worked much with yeast this is a good stepping stone. There isn’t much fuss involved with making pizza dough and the result is amazing. The only reason I said it needs babysitting is because you need to punch the dough down once or twice at 1 hour intervals (perfect if you’re doing laundry on your day off too). And who doesn’t love punching down dough?  poooof.

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The dough has to rise in a warm, dry place. This is easy to find if you have cats. Max is wondering why this bowl is taking his favorite sunbathing spot.

So here’s my recipe for perfect, crusty pizza dough and our favorite toppings. Enjoy!

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PIZZA DOUGH:

1 cup warm water (110 degrees F)

1 packet instant pizza dough yeast (regular yeast is okay if you can’t find this)

2 1/2- 3 cup AP flour (I use a mixture of bread flour and AP flour-it makes the crust crispier)

2 tsp white sugar

1 tsp salt

2 tbs olive oil

TOPPINGS:

3/4 cup pizza sauce

1 tbs olive oil

2 tbs balsamic vinegar

2 cloves garlic, grated or chopped finely

1/2 cup purple onion, sliced

1/2 med eggplant, sliced into strips or rounds

1/2 cup broccoli, chopped

3 oz sliced FRESH smoked mozzarella (have to use fresh. like the stuff that comes in a ball and is all slimy. makes a world of difference.)

4 large basil leaves, sliced thinly

DIRECTIONS:

Empty the yeast into the 110 degree water. Sprinkle the sugar over top and let stand until dissolved and creamy, about to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, measure flour, oil, and salt into your mixing bowl. Start the mixer on low and when you water/yeast mixture is ready, slowly pour it in with the mixer running. After about 5 minutes of the mixer going at med-hi, the dough should form a ball and pull away from the sides. If the dough is a little gooey, add more flour 1/4 cup at a time.

Covering your hands with flour, form the dough into a ball and put it into a covered bowl. Place this in a warm, dry place and let rise until its double in size, about 45 mins to an hour. If you have time, punch it down and reshape it into a ball and let rise again. If you’re pressed for time, one rise is enough and you can now put it in the fridge and let stand for at least an hour (I find the dough has more air pockets when you let it rise twice).

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.

After the dough has rested in the fridge for an hour, pull it out of the fridge and let it come back up to room temp while you assemble the rest of your ingredients. Cover a pizza pan (or bread stone) with cooking spray and stretch your dough to fit. Put the dough in the oven for 4-5 minutes while you prepare the toppings.

While the dough is pre-cooking, place the olive oil, vinegar, and garlic in a pan over med-high heat. Once it is heated, put the rest of the toppings in the pan and cook until tender.

Cover the dough with the pizza sauce, toppings and cheese, sprinkle with basil and cook until browned on top, about 20 minutes.

Happy Friday!!

Thinking Outside the Box (Mac ‘n Cheezeee!)

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Who doesn’t love some ooey gooey mac and cheese? Really. And I promise, this grown-up version of a childhood classic is even more delicious than anything you can get out of a box.

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No packets of liquid cheese involved. Although I confess, that used to be my favorite part. My brother and I used to fight about who got to lick the remaining cheese out of the packet when Mom would make it. I don’t do that anymore. I’ve come a long way in the past year.

I used three different types of cheese; smoked Gouda, aged extra sharp cheddar, and fontina. Although its not 100% necessary to use these particular cheeses, the result was quite tasty. When choosing what cheese to use, try to think about texture (cheeses like fontina and Gouda are soft so they melt smoothly) and taste (sharp cheddar has a strong tangy flavor that will really come through). As you can probably tell, I’m a big advocate of recipes that are versatile.  Use what you like or what you have in your fridge. I’m not here to boss you around. I really have no idea what I’m doing. I just get lucky sometimes.

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On that note, you can also add pretty much any veggies you want. We’re quite partial to broccoli, and mushrooms and cheese go so well together, that’s what I chose. But roasted eggplant would be yummy, or spinach, or kale, orpeppersorasparagusorbaconor….you get the picture. Again, use what you like. 

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The best thing about this recipe…you don’t need a plate. Enjoy!

 

INGREDIENTS:

3 tbs butter

2 tbs flour

4 tbs milk

2 cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped

¾ cup grated smoked Gouda

¾ cup grated extra sharp cheddar

½ cup grated fontina

½ cup chopped yellow onion

1 ½ tsp dried rosemary

1 tsp dried sage

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp red pepper flakes

1 cup chopped broccoli

1 cup sliced baby portabellas

Salt and pepper to taste

1 12 oz box elbow noodles

 

Topping:

1 cup panko bread crumbs

1 tbs softened butter

2 tbs parm

 

DIRECTIONS:

Bring a pot of water to boil for the pasta.

In a large saucepan (cast iron if you have it) melt butter over med-low heat. Add the flour and milk, stirring constantly, until the flour is completely dissolved (at this point the mixture should coat the back of your spoon and should be able to hold a line drawn with your finger as shown below). Add the cheeses  herbs and spices, and stir until melted, then add the veggies and turn down to a low heat until pasta is done cooking.

When the pasta is al dente, add it to the cheese and veggie sauce, as well as a cup of the pasta water to help loosen up the sauce. Stir until combined and let cook together for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, mix together the topping (best to do this by hand to break up the butter without destroying the panko).

At this point, if your saucepan is oven –proof, you can top it with the bread crumb mixture and throw it under the broiler for a few minutes, until the top is golden brown. Otherwise, transfer it to a baking dish, top it, and broil it. Then go buy a cast iron skillet. Seriously. Get with it.

 

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