Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Pickled Zucchini Ribbon Salad

All of these lithe Olympians had me feeling a little...ahem... un-athletic. So many hours of tempting television and so enjoyable with wine and snacks. I needed something light as a gymnast and quick enough that I wouldn't miss a minute of swimming (I've seriously watched hours).

I love zucchini this time of year and thought I would take advantage with a ribbon-style salad. This also helped me start my ribbon-dancing training for Rio 2016. At 31 I'd be an ancient/gigantic rhythmic gymnastics sensation.

Side note: Do you remember how awesome these 90s ribbon dancer commercials were?

Make your ribbons to start by sliding a vegetable peeler slowly down the zucchini. Give it an artistic flair at the end for extra execution points.

Fire up your onions and you're almost there.

Rice wine vinegar provides the unexpected hit of acidity.

I shall use the purple of the onions to inspire my leotard. I'm envisioning a lot of glitter hair gel in my future.

Pickled Zucchini Ribbon Salad
2-3 zucchinis -- ribboned
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon sugar
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar

Peel zucchini into ribbons using a vegetable peeler, discarding the seedy middle. Saute red onion in olive oil until onions are translucent; 2-3 minutes. Add sugar and rice wine vinegar and saute for 30 more seconds. Combine with raw zucchini and toss. Allow salad to marinate about 20-30 minutes. Also very enjoyable as leftovers the next day.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Spiced Peaches

Joining another family is one the most challenging and rewarding parts of getting married. I was fortunate enough to join a family with 1) an easier name to say than my given name 2) hearts full of love and humor and 3) an awesome book of family recipes. 

While I never had a chance to know the Husband's Uncle Phil, I think we would have gotten along. He ran an inn in Waterville, Kansas and spiced peaches were his specialty. Once you've tasted these peaches, you'll love Uncle Phil too. 

I should note that these are served in my favorite pottery piece, hailing from Salina, Kansas. Waterville? Salina? Maybe not such "flyover" places when you consider these peachy, pottery beauties. 

I started with a combo of white and yellow peaches. This is a great place to use your less-than-perfect peaches. 

Look at me going for a Cezanne-esque set-up. The key to the flavor of this dish are the amazing spices. Fresh cinnamon sticks and cloves.

I don't usually mind fuzzy peach skins, but they're not welcome in this dish. To easily remove the skins, they just need to be blanched in boiling water and then quickly dunked in an ice bath.

Let them hang out in the ice long enough to cool and they'll jump out of their clothes quicker than a risk-taking teen on homecoming.

Naked fruit!

Combine quartered peaches with loads of honey, spices and a bit of cider vinegar to cut the sweetness. And marinate overnight.

After an evening of anticipation, you'll have gooey, flavorful fruit awaiting you in the morning. We couldn't wait, so started our Sunday with multigrain pancakes with peachy topping.

Butter and maple syrup completely unnecessary. Peachy-keen and served with great admiration for Uncle Phil. Total marriage perk on the plate.

Spiced Peaches
2lbs fresh peaches (during the winter go with 2 13-oz canned peaches)
1.5 cups honey
.5 cup cider vinegar
3 cinnamon sticks
6 cloves

Boil a pot of water and prepare a large boil with lots of ice. Blanche peaches for 1 minute and immediately immerse in ice water. After the peaches have completely cooled, remove skins and slice in quarters. Combine honey, cider vinegar, cinnamon sticks, cloves and peaches. Refrigerate overnight, stirring a few times.

Peaches will keep in fridge for 2-3 days. Enjoy alone or atop pancakes or ice cream.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Summer Herb Corn Salad

In my book, nothing says summer like corn on the cob. We eat A LOT of this stuff every summer, but sometimes I'm crave something a bit different. Also, it's not the easiest thing to bring to a party or BBQ. 

This herb corn salad is a delicious way to mix it up without going over the top. It makes killer leftovers too. 

Start with the prettiest corn cobs you can find. And prepare for grilling. You could boil, but I really prefer the flavor of grilled corn and you won't have to heat up your whole kitchen. Don't know how to grill corn? Click it all up in here.

While you're grilling up your cobs, select some of your favorite herbs for the salad. My favorites for summer are basil, rosemary and parsley. Thyme or parsley would be great too.

Chop one red onion and combine with your favoritest herbs.

You'd never see such gorgeous color on boiled corn, just sayin'.

Slice the corn from the cob. Remember when we all had braces and had to eat corn this way? Thanks Mom and Dad for always cutting my corn off the cob...and for paying for me not to have crazy teeth. Good call parents.

The dressing is simple...just a bit of olive oil and cider vinegar. The cider flavor really sets off the sweetness of the corn. 

Oh so summery sweet. Refreshing and simple. Orthodontist-approved.

Summer Herb Corn Salad
5 ears of corn, grilled (instructions here) and cut from the cob
1 small red onion, chopped
1/4 cup basil, julienned
2 tablespoons rosemary, chopped
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
Salt and pepper

Grill corn and slice from the cob. Combine with red onion and herbs. Dress with oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Serve room temperature or slightly chilled.

Recipe interpreted from Ina Garten.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

When In Rome

"Yes... continue"

Gotta love a little Ron Burgundy. I was being business-y in Seattle this week and was luck enough to stay a mere block from Pike Place Market. Oh goodness, you can bury me there, so long as you cover me in briny oysters. Heaven.

Picked up a pound of Rainier cherries in between projects. Unbelievably delicious. I may have been tempted to move there and solely subsist on salmon and stone fruits. Did I just invent a new fad diet?

More recipes to come soon... still getting caught up on my real life after a crazy work life the past week. Thanks for still being my friend.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Herby Grilled Shrimp

What is it about shrimp that gets people so darn excited? I once worked with a certain infamous seafood restaurant and during their annual "shrimp 'til the end of time" promotion* people would get be so obsessed that the helpless servers turned to the internet in droves to complain about guests staying for HOURS enjoying the feast.
*Name changed for the protection of said former client and to avoid crowding the Google alerts of a poor PR intern.

People really love shrimp. Don't get me wrong... love me some shellfish... but shellfish for hours? Not really my jam.

Maybe instead of waiting all year for a shrimp promotion, you just make some at home? Crazy idea, I know. This preparation is only about 10 minutes of hands-on time. 

Familiarize yourself with the ingredients in this marinade, because this could be good on ANY fish, chicken or even pork. Add a bit more oil...boom...vinaigrette. Recipe inspiration from Ina, natch. 

Pop in your shrimp buddies and let them hang out for at least an hour (or longer if you're napping or something).

Key step for skewering... soak wooden skewers in water for an hour. You'd be smart to do this while your shrimp are marinating (fancy that). I've learned this one the hard way; if you don't your skewers WILL light on fire and you WILL lose precious shrimp friends in between the grill grates and you MAY cry if you've had a long day. Don't be like me. Let this be a PSA.

I just love the pink and green together in this dish. Such a preppy move for shrimp... they should totally wear pearls and monograms. And you can bet your best pair of Sperry's that these pretty, preppy shrimpies wouldn't be caught dead in a parking lot seafood restaurant!

Herby Grilled Shrimp
1-2lbs shrimp, peeled and deveined (seriously, you want to devein them)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 yellow onion, minced
3 tablespoons basil, chopped
3 tablespoons parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon dried mustard
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon

Combine marinade ingredients and whisk. Add shrimp and cover and refrigerate for at least an hour. Soak skewers and place about 6-7 shrimp on each skewer. Grill over medium direct heat for about 1 1/2 minutes on each side.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Sometimes I Eat in Front of the Fridge

Since starting this whole blog thing, a lot of people have commented that the Husband and I must eat very well. This is true... at least when I actually cook something.

The harsh reality is, like most of you, I have a job. I go to it every day and some weeks it kicks my ass (this being one). I try my best to plan for the week and have wholesome, delicious foods at the ready, but sometimes I fail. And sometimes I eat standing in front of the fridge.

If you saw the other side of this photo, you'd see me standing around in my underwear with smeary lipstick pondering a work presentation, all while the dog licks my foot. #glamorous

Deep dark secret is out then. I ate edamame and string cheese for dinner tonight. Had two baby carrots while I tried to make a crappy cell phone picture more colorful. That totally counts as a full serving of veggies, right?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Tomato Watermelon Salad with Feta and Barley

Do you ever leave a restaurant immediately craving what you just ate? Nevermind the full feeling... you just want MORE of that delicious plate. You loved it so much you licked the plate...longingly and with passionate groans...in public.

Been there. Did it last week at the Publican. I seriously lost my foodie shit over their octopus with barley, peas, pecorino and watermelon. Perfectly tender squid, nutty pecorino, crisp watermelon and chewy barley. And seriously, who knew? Watermelon and barley? A textural match made in heaven.

I was on a mission for more. Had to have it. Couldn't live without it. And sadly can't afford to eat at the Publican all the days of my life. Tomato Watermelon Salad with Feta and Barley came to be.

Okay... I know what you're thinking. Watermelon and barley together? In all honesty, I probably never would have put it together, but the restaurant dish inspired me. And what a great way to incorporate a hearty whole grain in a summer-y dish. Makes this option fresh and filling.

Cut your watermelon in lovely cubes and eat at least one slice of melon in the process. It would be unnatural not to.

I chose heirloom cherry tomatoes for their gorgeous color, but any tomato would work here. Green guys would be an elegant addition.

Toasted almond finish things with a crunch and feta provides tang.

I seriously can't put this stuff down. Dinner last night? Yup. Leftovers for lunch? Uh huh. Dinner again? Dunzo.

Tomato Watermelon Salad with Feta and Barley
6-8 cups seedless watermelon, chopped in 1-in cubes
1lb tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 cup pearl barley, rinsed
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons chopped basil
1 teaspoon salt

Bring 2 1/2 cups water to a boil and add rinsed barley. Simmer for 45 minutes and cool. Combine watermelon and tomatoes; sprinkle with salt and let stand for 10 minutes. Add almonds, feta, barley, olive oil, vinegar and basil. Toss to combine.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Cocktail Hour: Peach Gin Fizz

A steamy Midwestern March followed by a late freeze in April, very sadly impacted local farmers and their crops -- stone fruits being particularly decimated. Delectable Michigan cherries, plums and peaches have been woefully missing from Chicago's shelves and markets. 

My summer cravings are more disconnected from current events than a bad reality show contestant.  I'm dreaming in peaches. Sweet juice running down your arm as you tackle the mouthy fuzz. 

While it's nice to have the option of fruits from other parts of the country, by the time they get here the freshness factor just isn't there. New routes to satisfaction had to be found. I wanted the peach taste, but can't handle the mealy texture. A battle for peach perfection! Like so many things in life, liquor naturally is the solution. (okay, joking guys)

I started with good-quality gin, lemon juice and the Dixie Peach Juice from Trader Joe's in the cocktail shaker with ice.

Taking a cue from cocktails of 'yore, I used egg white for fizz. I recognize that this may gross some of you out, but once you have a full-bodied, foamy cocktail with egg white, you'll be convinced. Barrelhouse Flats in Chicago has a particularly good assortment. 

I believe they sell some sort of egg separator tool in the never-ending aisles of Bed, Bath and Beyond, but you don't really need one. Just split the egg and lightly move the yoke from one side to the other. Boom... egg separated. One less dish.

In to the cocktail shaker we go with anticipation.

Shake what yo' mama gave you. Like really get in there... you're fizzing things. If your shaker, like mine, was found in your grandmother's basement, it will leak all over.

Love me a frosty glass from the freezer, especially on a 100-degree day.

Mmmm... peach perfection achieved. Certainly less nutritious than an actual peach and here's to hoping the juice from this won't run down your arm. If that happens, you should probably switch to water for the rest of the night... you've been over-served.

Peach Gin Fizz
Serves 2

4oz gin
3oz peach nectar or juice
2 egg whites
Juice of one lemon
Peach slices, for garnish

Combine ingredients in cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a chilled glass. Garnish with peach slice.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Raspberry Zucchini Couscous Salad

Do you ever have those days where you feel listless and lost? Just without direction?

Sometimes I just wallow in the not-so-great and find that can't bring myself to come up with anything new. I wish I was filled with boundless energy and a bounty of fresh ideas... I really do. Whether it's the 9 to 5 or what is waiting afterward, creativity just isn't always there and that's okay.

These are the days that I'm really thankful for easy-to-follow recipes. I sincerely hope that this blog can be just that for some of you. For me, I turn the photo album I have of handwritten recipe cards and internet printouts. My friends and family know me well and when it came time for my bridal shower, they brought their most precious written recipes, along with plentiful kitchen gifts. I'm so thankful for each and every one...especially on these devoid days.

My mom's good friend, Peggy, provided this one. Raspberry makes for an unexpected partner with zucchini. Thank you Peggy for helping solve my grim day. Sunny raspberries are already making me look up.

The raspberries almost look like the misfit here. I know it sounds odd at first, but these go amazingly well together. Don't you wish we could all go "amazingly well together?" What a lovely place this would be.

Prep for grilling with wide cuts, olive oil and S&P.

Mmmmm...grilley goodness. I can already feel the day getting better.

Simply combine into greatness.

Raspberry Zucchini Couscous Salad
1.5 cups whole wheat couscous, uncooked
6oz fresh raspberries
1/2 cup basil, chiffonade
4oz crumbled feta
4 scallions, chopped
3 zucchini, cut on the diagonal
1/3 cup chopped almonds
Zest of one lemon

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Juice of one lemon

Start by cutting your zucchini in wide, diagonal slices. Lightly coat with bit of olive oil and S&P; grill over medium heat for 5 minutes. Toast almonds in a dry pan, watching closely to be sure they don't burn. Cook coucous accordingly to given instructions.

Combine couscous with cooked zucchini, raspberries, basil, feta, scallions, almond and lemon zest. Whisk together dressing ingredients and toss with salad until well mixed.

Serve alone. Also excellent on greens or with grilled meat or fish.