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Wednesday
Sep212011

Grilled gruyere and zucchini sandwiches with smoky pesto

This is Week #38 of my 2011 cooking challenge! Click here to view all recipes from this challenge. All recipes created for this challenge come from the Food and Wine Annual Cookbook 2010: An Entire Year of Recipes.

It is a small miracle that I got these sandwiches made. And a big miracle that I got them photographed. I was simultaneously watching my little Sammy, who I sometimes refer to as My Little Tornado. I'll give you a snippet of how things went: put zucchini slices on grill, chase Sam down driveway, flip zucchini, blow up beach ball for Sam, put English muffins on grill, make sure Sam isn't eating rocks again, and so on. After finishing, and after wondering how in the world I managed to pull that off, I chased My Little Tornado around with sandwich in hand. I was glad it was a portable meal because once I bit into it, I did not want to set it down.

In a food processor, combine:

1 cup packed basil leaves

1 large garlic clove, coarsely chopped

1/2 teaspoon hot smoked paprika

Process until finely chopped. With the machine on, gradually pour in 3 tablespoons of olive oil until blended. Season the pesto with salt.

Light a grill. 

Cut a zucchini lengthwise into 4 slices. Brush the zucchini slices with olive oil and season with salt. Grill over high heat until nicely charred and just tender, about 2 minutes per side. Cut each zucchini slice in half crosswise.

Grill four English muffins, cut side down, over low heat until just soft, about 30 seconds. Turn and grill until the muffins start to brown, about 1 minute. Spread the cut sides of the muffins with the pesto.

Layer on top of the four English muffin bottoms:

1 slice of Gruyere cheese

2 zucchini pieces

1 more slice of Gruyere cheese

English muffin top

Brush the tops and bottoms with olive oil and grill over low heat, turning, until they are crisp on the outside and the cheese is melted, about 4 minutes total. Cut the sandwiches in half and serve!

Grilled Gruyere and Zucchini Sandwiches with Smoky Pesto

The smoky pesto on this sandwich makes it killer! (Source: Food & Wine Annual Cookbook 2010)

Contributed by Megan Porta from pipandebby.com.

Published Sep 21, 2011

Serves: 4

Total time: 30 min

Fruit and Spinach Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup packed basil leaves
  • 1 large garlic clove, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot smoked paprika
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • Salt
  • 8-ounce zucchini, cut into 4 lengthwise slices
  • 4 English muffins
  • 4 ounces Gruyere or Appenzeller cheese, cut into 8 thin slices
Instructions:
  1. In a mini food processor, combine the basil, garlic and paprika and process until finely chopped. With the machine on, gradually pour in the 3 tablespoons of olive oil until blended. Season the pesto with salt.
  2. Light a grill. Brush the zucchini slices with olive oil and season with salt. Grill over high heat until nicely charred and just tender, about 2 minutes per side. Cut each zucchini slice in half crosswise.
  3. Grill the English muffins cut side down over low heat until just soft, about 30 seconds. Turn and grill until the muffins start to brown, about 1 minute. Spread the cut sides of the muffins with the pesto. Layer 1 slice of cheese, 2 zucchini pieces and 1 more slice of cheese on the bottom halves of each muffin. Close the sandwiches; brush the tops and bottoms with oil. Grill over low heat, turning, until they’re crisp on the outside and the cheese is melted, about 4 minutes total. Cut the sandwiches in half and serve.

 

 

Sunday
Sep182011

Pecan ice cream balls with chocolate-fudge sauce

This is Week #37 of my 2011 cooking challenge! Click here to view all recipes from this challenge. All recipes created for this challenge come from the Food and Wine Annual Cookbook 2010: An Entire Year of Recipes.

The crisp fall weather we are experiencing has been one of the factors that has completely transformed my mood. In all honesty, I hated this summer. It was oppressive on so many levels. I will not look back upon it with much fondness, aside from the times that involved spending time with my boys. It feels incredible to be genuinely enjoying life again. Doing more than the bare minimum. Going above and beyond. Cleaning my house because I want to. Once again looking through recipes and cooking with excitement. Spending more time feeling happy than anxious and sad. Life is good.

To add to the good-ness, my little boys and I are getting more time with my husband now that skydiving season is slowing down. He came home from work early due to bad weather today, so we had some free time on our hands. We decided that Elijah desperately needed some one-on-one love, so I took him to McDonald's for an Elijah-Mommy date. It was fabulous! We enjoyed our time. I love that kid. When we got home, I finished up these pecan ice cream balls that I had started making on Saturday. The bowl that you see in these photos was consumed in approximately 5 minutes, being passed from mouth to mouth to mouth to mouth. The four of us took turns. It was the perfect treat to end the weekend. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Put 2 1/2 pints of vanilla ice cream in the refrigerator until just softened, about 15 minutes. Line a baking sheet with wax paper and transfer it to the freezer.

Meanwhile, spread 2 cups of pecans on a baking sheet and toast until fragrant and browned, 8 minutes. Transfer to a food processor and let cool completely. Coarsely chop the nuts and transfer to a pie plate.

Using a standard ice cream scoop, scoop a 1/2-cup portion of ice cream onto the pecans and roll into a ball, pressing lightly to help the nuts adhere. Transfer the ice cream ball to the prepared baking sheet in the freezer. Repeat with the remaining ice cream and pecans. Freeze the ice cream balls for at least 3 hours before serving.

Once the ice cream balls are sufficiently frozen, add the following ingredients to a medium saucepan:

One 12-ounce bag semisweet chocolate chips

One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

4 tablespoons butter

Cook over low heat, stirring, until the chips are completely melted and the sauce is smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.

Transfer the sauce to a pitcher or bowl. Serve the ice cream in bowls or sundae cups and drizzle with the warm sauce.

I love that the pecans are frozen onto the ice cream. And more than that, I love that my boys and I enjoyed this treat together.

Click here for a printable recipe!

Wednesday
Sep142011

Pecan-maple sticky rolls

This is Week #36 of my 2011 cooking challenge! Click here to view all recipes from this challenge. All recipes created for this challenge come from the Food and Wine Annual Cookbook 2010: An Entire Year of Recipes.

This week has been a nutty one, so it has not the best week to be behind in cooking and blogging. Somehow, I'm managing to get things accomplished. And thankfully, these sticky rolls, much like my last recipe, were easy to make. 

I have never made sticky rolls quite like these. They are filled with comforting deliciousness, which suits this cool fall weather nicely. I loved them. Everyone in my family loved them. 

To begin, preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Spread 3/4 cup whole pecans in a pie plate and toast in the oven for about 6 minutes, or until fragrant. Set aside.

Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray.

In a food processor, pulse to combine:

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Pinch of salt

Add 1 stick of cubed, chilled butter to the the flour mixture and pulse until it becomes the size of small peas.

Add 1 cup of buttermilk and pulse a few times, just until a soft dough forms.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead 3 times. Pat or roll the dough into an 8x12-inch rectangle. Brush with 2 tablespoons of melted butter.

In a small bowl, combine:

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the dough.

My cute flour-duster and dough-shaper.

Beginning at a long side, roll the dough into a tight cylinder.

Pinch the seam closed and cut the dough into 12 slices.

In a small bowl, combine:

6 tablespoons pure maple syrup

2 tablespoons melted butter

Divide the syrup-butter mixture among the muffin cups. Scatter the toasted pecans in the cups.

Top with the dough pinwheels. 

Bake in the preheated oven for 18 minutes, or until golden brown. 

Place a rack over the rolls and invert them onto the rack. Replace any pecans that get stuck in the cups and let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Pecan-Maple Sticky Rolls

I love the sticky bottoms of these rolls. A quick and delicious breakfast! (Source: Food & Wine Annual Cookbook 2010)

Contributed by Megan Porta from pipandebby.com.

Published Sep 14, 2011

Serves: 12

Total time: 1 hr, 5 min

Pecan-Maple Sticky Rolls

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup whole pecans
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter - 1 stick cubed and chilled, 4 tablespoons melted
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 6 tablespoons pure maple syrup
Instructions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Spread the pecans in a pie plate and toast for about 6 minutes, until fragrant; let cool slightly.
  2. Meanwhile, spray a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray. In a food processor, pulse the 2 cups of flour with 2 tablespoons of the sugar, the baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the cubed butter and pulse until it is the size of small peas. Add the buttermilk and pulse a few times, just until a soft dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead 3 times. Pat or roll the dough into an 8x12-inch rectangle. Brush with 2 tablespoons of the melted butter.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar with the cinnamon and sprinkle all over the dough. Beginning at a long side, roll the dough into a tight cylinder and pinch the seam closed. Cut the dough into 12 slices.
  4. Divide the maple syrup and the remaining 2 tablespoons of melted butter among the cups. Scatter the pecans in the cups and top with the dough pinwheels. Bake for about 18 minutes, until golden; place a baking sheet below to catch any drips. Invert a rack over the rolls and invert them onto the rack. Replace any pecans that get stuck in the cups and let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

 

 

Monday
Sep122011

Minty green olive-celery salsa

This is Week #35 of my 2011 cooking challenge! Click here to view all recipes from this challenge. All recipes created for this challenge come from the Food and Wine Annual Cookbook 2010: An Entire Year of Recipes.

I am weeks behind in my cooking challenge, so please forgive me. I'm attempting to catch up this week, amidst the craziness. My oldest munchkin started his second year of preschool yesterday! He is such a big boy, and he is so happy to be back with his "fwends" and teachers. Time continues to fly by us, and life seems to get crazier all the time. Is it just me?

Due to said craziness, I have been loving easy recipes. This recipe was easy, quick and ridiculously tasty. I love that it is considered a "salsa." I also used it as a topping and a side dish. And thankfully, my husband has an aversion to olives, so I had it all to myself! Perfect!

In a small skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add 2 lightly smashed and peeled garlic cloves and cook over moderate heat until golden, about 2 minutes.

Let the oil cool, then discard the garlic cloves.

Transfer the garlicky oil to a medium bowl, along with:

1 cup finely diced celery (3 ribs)

1 cup finely chopped pitted green olives (5 ounces)

2 tablespoons drained capers, chopped

2 tablespoons chopped mint

Freshly ground pepper

Toss and serve! It tasted amazing atop tilapia fillets. It was great with crackers, as well, but I ate most of it by spoon. 

Enjoy!

Minty Green Olive-Celery Salsa

You will want to pour this delicious salsa over EVERYTHING! (Source: Food & Wine Annual Cookbook 2010)

Contributed by Megan Porta from pipandebby.com.

Published Sep 12, 2011

Serves: 2 cups

Total time: 30 min

Minty Green Olive-Celery Salsa

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, lightly smashed and peeled
  • 1 cup finely diced celery (3 ribs)
  • 1 cup finely chopped pitted green olives (5 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons drained capers, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped mint
  • Freshly ground pepper
Instructions:
  1. In a small skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic cloves and cook over moderate heat until golden, about 2 minutes. Let the oil cool, then discard the garlic cloves. Transfer the garlicky oil to a bowl and add the diced celery, chopped green olives, capers and mint. Toss the salsa, season with freshly ground pepper and serve.

 

 

Thursday
Sep082011

Layered rainbow cake - my Chef Dennis guest post!

I was honored to be asked to write a guest post by the talented and generous Chef Dennis! He was one of the first bloggers to reach out to me when I entered into the world of food blogging. I have found him to be incredibly resourceful and kind, not to mention the fact that his blog is filled with delicious food. Thank you so much, Chef Dennis, for this wonderful opportunity!

I decided to make a cake for my guest post because today is also my one-year anniversary for starting this blog! How fitting, right? I figured I would go all out and create the most eye-appealing cake I could think of. And what could possibly be better than a bold, edible rainbow?

Please head on over to Chef Dennis' blog to say hello....and to learn how to make this rainbow cake!