Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Gluten Free & Vegan Pumpkin Muffins




Are you gluten free or vegan -- or both? and feel like you're missing the pumpkin bread and muffin trend that happens during the holidays?  I know I do, so I developed this recipe to satisfy that holiday craving….. and it's a great muffin.  Fluffy and moist -- and all the tastes of pumpkin and fall spices.  Hope you enjoy them as much as we did at our house.

Recipe for Gluten Free & Vegan Pumpkin Muffins 

2 cups of gluten free "flour" (I used Bob's Red Mill GF Flour)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon xanthum gum 
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup coconut milk (you can substitute soy milk)
1/2 cup oil (vegetable or olive oil; for this recipe I used olive oil)
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
chopped pecans, if desired for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line cupcake tin with paper liners.  Set aside pan aside.

In medium bowl mix all dry ingredients.  Set aside.  In large bowl mix 'milk', oil, vanilla and cider vinegar.  Whisk well to incorporate all ingredients.  Now add flour mixture to wet ingredients.  Finally add pumpkin.  Stir well but be careful not to whip.  Scoop batter into liners and bake for approximately 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle row of cupcakes comes out clean.  

Makes one dozen regular sized muffins.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

wontons




These wontons are a favorite of mine -- and what I call an 'old-stand-by'.   I have been making since the early 90's.  It's one of my go-to recipes for parties and when I serve an appetizer.  They are simple, delicious and fun.  They're great for a holiday party and something all of your guests can enjoy…. even the vegetarians!  You can serve them with a sweet and sour sauce or spicy mustard.   Make extra because they will disappear quickly.


Ingredients:
1 package pre made wonton wrappers (found in the produce section of most supermarkets)
1 package of cream cheese
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried dill (you can substitute any dried herbs)
salt and pepper, to taste

1/2 cup olive oil (more or less, depending on frying)
1 teaspoon of cornstarch
3 tablespoons of warm water
  • Blend the cream cheese, parmesan, herbs, dash of salt and pepper, in a bowl.  Set aside.
  • Mix cornstarch and water in a bowl. Set aside.
  • Start to heat the olive oil in non-stick pan on medium high on the stove. (You don't want it to be too hot that it smokes).
  • Place wonton wrappers on a smooth surface (like a cutting board), preparing in small batches of six at a time. (Keep remaining wrappers under moist paper towel until you are ready to use them because they dry out very quickly.)
  • Take a small spoonful (about 1 teaspoon) of cheese filling and put it in the center of wonton.
  • Take your finger, dip it in cornstarch mixture and 'paint' the edges of wonton.
  • Fold over wonton, from corner to corner, to make a triangle.
  • Fold far corners of triangle together but don't seal this fold.  This step makes the wonton look like a fortune cookie.
  • Repeat until all wontons are stuffed and sealed.
  • Add about 6-8 wontons into heated oil.
  • Once they start to have a golden appearance (with bubbles) take tongs and flip to other side.
  • Remove from pan and place on paper towel lined plate to remove excess oil.

They are best served immediately or kept warm in an oven to retain crispness.  Serve with a sweet and sour dipping sauce.

Makes 24-36 pieces.

**The wontons can be made in large batches ahead of time, frozen and reheated in an oven at 350 degrees**


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Biscotti


Biscotti, a popular Italian cookie, derived from the roots "bis" meaning again and "cotto" meaning to cook. In other words, twice cooked. Traditional biscotti are baked first in a loaf shape and then sliced and baked again producing a hard biscuit.  Typically,  biscotti are served with a sweet wine such as a Vin Santo or capuccino.  These pumpkin biscotti have become a fall favorite in our house.  They are easy to make and are gluten free as well.  Biscotti keep well if stored in an airtight container, so these can be made ahead of time and stored for two weeks.  Enjoy!

For the biscotti:
2 cups gluten-free all purpose flour
1 cup of superfine sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp xantham gum
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 eggs
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
2 tsp vanilla



Heat oven to 300 degrees F.  In one bowl, mix all of the dry ingredients.  In another bowl, mix all of the wet ingredients.  Then blend the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until incorporated.  Do not over mix.  The dough will be slightly sticky. 

Grease and flour two cookie sheets.  Divide the dough between the two cookie sheets.  Shape into two flat loaves about 10 inches long by 2 inches wide.  Bake for 45 minutes until golden.  Remove from the oven.  On a cutting board, slice into 1/2 inch wide pieces. 

Place the pieces back onto the cookie sheets and bake for another 15 minutes.  Turn over each slice and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes or until golden.  Remove from the oven and cool.

For the icing:
1/2 cup of confectioner's sugar
2 tbsp of water

Mix the sugar and water together with a wire whisk.  Mixture should not be too drippy.  If it is too watery, add more sugar.

Once the biscotti have cooled, drizzle icing over the cookie with a fork.

Makes two dozen

Monday, November 18, 2013

Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps


This is a fun dish which can be made as an appetizer or part of a meal.  The recipe originally started as a chicken meatloaf recipe shared with me by my sister.  I enjoy entertaining and always plan a menu with recipes that can be made ahead of time which allows me to spend more time with my guests.  Therefore, I created these tasty thai chicken meatballs and serve them in lettuce wraps.  The chicken meatballs can be made ahead and frozen, which allows for easy prep the day of your event.  A hearty, flavorful hors d'oeuvre your friends will love!


For the chicken meatballs:
2 lbs of ground chicken
1 cup of panko breadcrumbs
4 spring onions chopped
1 tbsp ginger grated
2 tbsp fresh cilantro chopped
1 beaten egg
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/3c sweet and sour sauce

1/2 c sweet and sour sauce mixed with 1/2 cup of honey to brush on meatballs baking.

For the wraps:
1 container of boston lettuce leaves rinsed and dried.
1/2 cup of shredded carrots
1/2 cup of crushed peanuts
1/4 cup of chopped cilantro
additional sweet and sour sauce to top

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Mix the first eight ingredients until incorporated.  Spray a baking pan with cooking spray.  Form cocktail size meatballs and place on the baking pan.  Brush each meatball with the sweet and sour glaze.  Bake for 8 minutes then turn.  Brush the top of the meatballs with more glaze.  Bake for 8 more minutes until cooked.  Serve two meatballs in a lettuce leaf and garnish with crushed peanuts, cilantro and a drizzle of sweet and sour sauce.

To Freeze:
Omit the glaze.  Bake for 8 minutes then turn and bake for 5 more minutes.  Allow to cool.  Place each meatball on a clean baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  When frozen, place in a freezer bag and store in the freezer until ready to use.  Reheat in a preheated oven on 350 degrees F.  Brush on sweet and sour glaze and bake until cooked through approximately 5 minutes per side.

This makes approximately 15 servings.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sweet Potato Soufflé - So Simple and So Good


























Sweet potato soufflé is a favorite in our family, especially in the fall.  It's light but satisfying and can be a complete meal with a side salad.  So here's my recipe for a creative variation for sweet potatoes!  Enjoy.
  • 3 large sweet potatoes (baked in their skin, cooled to touch and skin removed)
  • 1 heaping cup shredded gruyere cheese (or good swiss cheese)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (or half and half)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 eggs
After you have baked the potatoes and peeled the skin off, put potatoes, cheese and butter in food processor and blend until smooth.  About 30 seconds.  While processor is ON, add cream and spices.  Add the eggs last and blend quickly (or pulse a few times).  
Pour the soufflé mixture into a greased baking dish.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 35-45 minutes, depending on depth of dish.  You’ll see that the mixture has risen and the top is slightly crusty.  That’s when it’s ready.  It’s best eaten right away but I never waste this dish and always enjoy leftovers the next day.   

Serves 4-6 people.


Here are some tips: 
  • I add the eggs at the end because the butter and cheese will have melted and cooled more and the eggs blend in better when added at the end.
  • You can use milk in place of the cream.  



Saturday, September 21, 2013

Gluten Free - Classic Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe





All the taste of the classic chocolate chip cookie -- sweetness, chocolate, touch of salt -- minus the flour.  These are made with a gluten free flour but are so delicious, you'll never notice the difference!

It took me several tries to get it right but I think I did it.  My husband even loved them.  But he really loves anything sweet! Try them out and let us know.  We love hearing from you.  

Classic Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe, Gluten Free


2 cups rice flour
1 teaspoon xanthum gum
1 teaspoon potato flour
1 teaspoon baking soda (GF)
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks of butter, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (GF)
2 eggs
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
1 package of semi-sweet chocolate chips (GF)
  • Preheat oven to 375° degrees.  
  • In a medium sized bowl add GF 'flour' mixture, baking soda and salt and set aside. 
  • In another bowl, fitted for mixing beat softened butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla. 
  • Mix until you get the look of soft cookie dough.  
  • Add both eggs and mix well.  
  • Next add the 'flour' mixture.  
  • Lastly, add the ground flax seeds and chocolate chips.  
  • Take a teaspoon or small muffin scooper to portion out the cookies and bake on ungreased cookie sheet for about 8-10 minutes or until edges are brown.  
  • Be careful using a spatula to lift off the cookie sheet.  These are a bit more fragile than traditional chocolate chip cookies when they are warm.
  • Put on wire rack to cool.  
Once cool, they are not as fragile - though they won't last long! they're so good, everyone is bound to gobble them up.

Makes 2-3 dozen.  

Enjoy!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Cooking Classes at Stonewall Kitchen





We're excited to announce that Wendy & Holly will be 
teaching several cooking classes this fall at Stonewall Kitchen.  
If you're in the Connecticut area and 
would like to join us for what is sure to be a fun evening
 of cooking, tasting, learning (and laughing!), we'd love to see you!

For more information and reservations (dates and menus below)
please contact South Windsor, Stonewall Kitchen at 860-648-9215.

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Friday, August 9, 2013

Barbecue Roasted Sweet Potatoes




Need a delicious side dish that is vegan and gluten free?  Roasted BBQ sweet potatoes is the answer.  I have made these several times this summer and they have been a big hit.  This recipe is simple to make and can be made the day of your event or prepared ahead of time and reheated.  The sweet yet tangy flavor can pair well with beef, chicken, pork or fish.   Enjoy this fun twist on sweet potatoes.   

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Spice Mixture:
1/8 cup red chili powder
1/8 cup brown sugar
1/8 cup salt
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp chipotle powder

Mix all of the spices.

4 sweet potatoes peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil

Put the potatoes and olive oil in a large plastic bag.  Seal the bag and shake to coat the potatoes with olive oil.  Add 1/8 cup of the spice mixture.  Shake and coat the potatoes completely with the spice mixture.



Lay potatoes on a baking sheet.
Bake for 15 minutes.
Turn potatoes.
Bake for another 15 minutes or until tender when pierced with a fork.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Fresh Spring Rolls with Summer Vegetables Recipe


All summer long we have been loving the fresh produce from our CSA, Devon Point Farm (you can visit their site at  http://www.devonpointfarm.com)

The produce is amazing... the color, the flavors and the variety.   Each week is a surprise! we walk into the CSA barn and are seriously giddy about all the veggies we get.  My daughter loves going with me and filling the bag with all the fresh produce.   It encourages us to try vegetables that we might never try.... such as summer turnips or mustard greens.  

Getting our share of vegetables each week challenges me to think of fun and creative ways to prepare them.   When I had an abundance of kale, summer greens, mizuna lettuce and mustard greens, I thought, "how about veggie rolls?"  And they were delicious!  Here's my take on a classic Asian style fresh spring roll.  Add some yummy peanut sauce or homemade sweet and sour sauce and it's a perfect summer meal.



I recommend having a large, clean work space and all of your ingredients prepared ahead (such as chopping the veggies, having the tofu fried or pre-cooking shrimp) so that you can wrap the papers quickly. 

Now this is a recipe that you can add or delete any type of filling that you choose.  You can stuff them full with just veggies, as I have done in this photo.  Or you can add cooked tofu, chicken, shrimp or any combination.  It's really fool-proff, once you get the swing of rolling them.  Personally, I make just vegetable rolls and I always use rice noodles because I like the noodles with the veggie combo.  

For an example of a basic recipe you can follow this one (it's from an earlier recipe that I posted). 

  • shredded lettuce, kale or any greens
  • shredded carrots
  • shredded purple cabbage
  • steamed fresh asparagus
  • chopped fresh mint or fresh basil (adds such a nice flavor)
  • bowl of steamed rice noodles (you can find these in most supermarkets, in the 'international/Asian' section.  They might be called rice vermicelli noodles, as well.  I buy my rice noodles at Stop&Shop).  To prepare them, boil water in a large pot, immerse dry noodles in water.  Stir.  Remove, rinse and drain well.  They cook quickly, not like pasta.
  • rice paper wrappers (You can see the photo of the one's I bought.  They come in varying sizes.  I could only find small/medium which I used here.  I usually buy mine at Whole Foods.)






Step 1: Take a large shallow pan and fill it 1/4 way with water.  Turn on burner to low.  You want the water to gently warm but not boil.  You don't want steam or bubbles coming from it because you will be dipping each rice paper wrapper in the water to moisten for wrapping.  If this is too hot, you'll burn your fingers and your paper will dissolve.

Step 2: Hold one edge of the rice paper and gently submerge it in the warm water.  Keep a hold of it (one tiny part will not soften, the part you are holding and that's OK).  Submerge for about 20 seconds.

Step 3: Remove it from the pan and place it on your cutting board, gently pulling it to smooth and prepare for stuffing.  Now you are ready to roll!


Step 4: Take the bottom part of the rice paper, fold it up and over the center of the ingredients tucking the top edge over and into the lettuce, while gently pulling the ingredients into the center of the wrap and rolling slightly away from yourself.

Step 5: Now 'roll' the wrapper away from you tucking it over the ingredients as you roll.  The rice paper is sticky at this point and will be your friend and help you make it a roll.  And like magic, you'll have this cute veggie roll.  Then keep going until you have finished each roll.

They will store for several hours or overnight in an airtight container.  But separate your layers with tinfoil and don't let them touch or the rice paper may stick and tear.

Serve with peanut sauce or sweet and sour sauce.  Enjoy! and let us know how you like making and eating them.

ps: we have a step-by-step posting of this process under an older post, labeled under:  "veggie rolls....so good!"  

Friday, July 12, 2013

Churros, a Spanish Style Treat


Here's a recipe for churros -- this is a Spanish style donut or sweet treat.  They are typically served with hot chocolate or even dipped in a dark chocolate which I have done with mine.  

Why am I creating a Spanish dessert, you may ask?  Well, some friends and I will be having a dinner party soon and our theme is "A Night in Barcelona" and we are serving up many different types of Spanish delights.  Now these friends are serious cooks.  So I had to come up with some creative dish for dessert.  No short-cuts allowed here!  And we have been working on our menu for sometime, focusing on fresh ingredients and tasteful dishes that work well together.  This is sure to be a great meal for all!

One of the dishes I was charged to make was dessert, so I thought I should rise to the occasion and whip up something very authentic.... so why not serve churros? They are the perfect bite of sweetness at the end of a meal.  I really hope our guests enjoy them because they are super fun to make and a really special treat.  Try them at your next dinner and let us know what you think!



Churros Recipe:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cup of water
1 cup, plus 2 tablespoons flour
2 eggs
vegetable oil for frying
  • In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter with salt, sugar, vanilla and water.  
  • Bring all ingredients to simmer and turn heat off.
  • Next add flour and stir very well.  It will look clumpy but keep stirring and it will form a shiny ball of dough.
  • Leave the dough in the pot and cover with a lid and let sit for 15 minutes.  
  • Meanwhile, set up your station to pipe and sugar the churros.
  • After 15 minutes, remove cover and add one egg to mixture at a time.  
  • This will look like it's separating but stir with a wooden spoon and incorporate the egg well.  
  • Next add the second egg and repeat the steps until your dough looks like cookie dough.
  • Add the batter to a disposable icing bag fitted with a large star shaped tip.  You might want to add the batter in two separate batches.
  • Pipe small sections (about 4-5 inches works well) into the oil.  Be careful because the oil is extremely hot.  I use cooking scissors to snip the dough so that it's easier (and safer) to make a clean cut.
  • Once they are 'browned' in the oil, remove from oil and dry on paper towel lined pan to remove excess grease.  
  • Now toss slightly cooled churros in sugar mixture.
  • Serve immediately.



For sugar topping:
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
shake of salt

Combine all ingredients in shallow and wide bowl and use a fork to mix well.  Toss fried churros in sugar, coating well. 

Makes approximately two dozen small churros.


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Melt butter with salt, sugar, vanilla and water.  
Bring to simmer and turn heat off.


Add flour and stir well.  
It will look clumpy but keep stirring and it will form a shiny ball of dough.


 Cover dough in the pot with a lid and let sit for 15 minutes.  
Meanwhile, set up your station to pipe and sugar the churros.


After 15 minutes, remove cover and add one egg to mixture at a time.  
This will look like it's separating but stir with a wooden spoon and incorporate the egg well.  
Next add the second egg and repeat the steps until your dough looks like cookie dough.


See! It looks more like cookie dough or thick cake batter.  This is the consistency you want.



Next add the batter to a disposable pastry bag fitted with a large star shaped tip.  
You might want to add the batter in two separate batches.



Pipe small sections (about 4-5 inches works well) into the oil.  Be careful because the oil is extremely hot.  I use cooking scissors to snip the dough so that it's easier (and safer) to make a clean cut.



Once golden remove from oil and place on paper towel lined pan.  
As soon as they are cool to the touch, gently toss in sugar and spice mixture.  



Sunday, July 7, 2013

Grilled Mahi Mahi Over Turnip Puree

This tasty summer meal was inspired by summer turnips Wendy shared with me from the CSA (community supported agriculture) she joined this summer.   Not being the biggest turnip fan, I wasn't sure what to do with them.  Since I have been grilling fish quite a bit this summer, I decided I would puree the turnips to accompany grilled mahi mahi.  Some of the turnips were bright pink which created an eye pleasing contrast to the white turnip puree.  By pureeing the turnips with a touch of butter and cream, their unique but biting taste was toned down a bit while still enhancing the mild taste of the fish.    

For the fish:

2 frozen mahi mahi fillets
olive oil
sea salt (to taste) 
juice of half a lemon
basil for garnish
  • Preheat grill on high.  
  • Brush fish with olive oil, season with sea salt and lemon juice.  
  • Turn grill to low and grill fish for about five minutes per side or until inside is opaque.  




Turnip  Puree

2 white turnips
2 pink turnips
2 tablespoons of butter
4 tablespoons of cream
sea salt (to taste)
2 cloves of garlic minced
  • Bring pot of water to boil.  
  • Add turnips.  
  • Boil for twenty minutes or until vegetables are soft.  
  • Drain.  
  • With an emersion blender or food processor, blend tunips with 1 clove of garlic, 2 tablespoons of cream, 1 tablespoon of butter and salt until creamy and no lumps.  
  • In another bowl,  follow the same process for the pink turnips.  
  • Coat the bottom of a bowl or plate with the white turnip puree then add a touch of the pink turnip puree.  
  • Top the puree with the grilled fish and garnish with basil.  


This will make two servings.




Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Heirloom Food Company's Recipe for the Ultimate Veggie Burger (Vegan and Gluten Free)

Our Summer Field Trip - Field Trip #1

Our "Field Trip" series returns this summer and we know you'll be as excited as we are because we have some amazing restaurants, beautiful farms and tasty treats that we'll be featuring.  So join us in a super delicious summer tour and try out the recipes as we wander through the warm summer days and enjoy all of the great foods that we discover along the way.

On our first summer field trip, we stop by a local restaurant that opened just over six months ago.  It's Heirloom Food Company, in Danielson, CT.  It's owned and operated by a very creative (and health conscious) couple, Wendy and Josh.  

Each day Heirloom cooks up organic, vegan, gluten free and vegetarian delights.  Heirloom Food Company is "changing the way you think of healthy food."  They use "local, fresh and organic ingredients" making delicious dishes and treats.  Everything from sandwiches, soups, salads, juices and fresh shakes.  Their motto is, "Once you give them a try, we know you'll be back for more."  That's so true....Holly and I are totally addicted!  We love everything they make, especially the Organic Pomegranate and Organic 73% Dark Chocolate Smoothie....yum!  

Heirloom has shared their secret recipe for the most delicious "White Bean Edamame Burger" you'll ever try.... and it's vegan and gluten free.  It's another Heirloom favorite around our house.  We're sure you'll love it as much as we do.  Give it a try and let us know.  We love hearing from you.



Heirloom Food Company's 
White Bean Edamame Burgers Recipe
(vegan and gluten free)

3 cloves garlic diced
1 medium onion diced
1 carrot chopped
1 can white beans
1 cup edamame
3/4 cup gluten free bread crumbs
1/2 cup daiya vegan cheese
1 tsp liquid smoke
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp tamari

  • Saute veggies in extra virgin olive oil until soft.  
  • While sautéing food process edamame and white beans but leave somewhat chunky. 
  • Add sautéed veggies to beans and pulse a few times.  
  • Remove from processor and put in large bowl. 
  • Add bread crumbs, vegan cheese, spices as well as liquid smoke and tamari. 
  • Mix by spoon and make into small patties. 
  • Brown in extra virgin olive oil in a pan.  

Makes about 6 patties.

We put it on a sprouted wheat bun and top with a vegan dill mayo, organic cheddar or vegan cheese, tomato, cucumber, onion, arugula, mixed greens, carrots, shredded cabbage. 
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Here's a link to their site:  http://www.eatheirloomfood.com


Here are a few photos of of the great people at Heirloom.  
Stop by and enjoy the food when you are in The Quiet Corner.







Sunday, June 16, 2013

Grilled Fish with Lemon Dill Aioli Sauce Recipe



My new summer passion is grilling fish.  Wendy got me hooked on grilled mahi mahi when she made it one night at my house.

What I love about this fish is, it is not "fishy" tasting.  For me personally, one of the deterrents of cooking fish is having to buy it fresh and cook it that day.  In the town we live in you have to make a special trip to the fish market.  Often the day goes by and I haven't had the chance to make that special stop.  But this recipe for Mahi Mahi can be bought frozen at your local grocery store which allows you to use it at your leisure.

Since Wendy brought it over for dinner one evening, I have made it at least once a week.  Grilled with a simple olive oil, salt and lemon marinade, for fish tacos.  For father's day I grilled it and made this delicious aioli dipping sauce.  All I can say is "Yummy!"

Aioli is a sauce popular in the Mediterranean and traditionally made of olive oil and lemon juice.  To make an aioli sauce you need an ingredient which will emulsify or bind the olive oil and lemon juice.  Traditionally garlic is used to emulsify the the olive oil and lemon juice.  I used garlic, mustard and honey to aid in the process.  The key to getting the ingredients to bind properly,  is after blending all of your ingredients, slowly add the olive oil.  Hope you enjoy this delicious accompaniment.

Aioli Sauce:
3 cloves of garlic
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tbsp dijon mustard
2 tbsp fresh dill
1/8 cup honey
1/8 cup of extra virgin olive oil

  • In a food processor, blend the first five ingredients.  
  • After they are well blended, slowly add the olive oil.  
  • The consistency should be like that of mayonnaise.  
  • Serve as a dipping sauce for grilled fish.


Grilled Fish:
Frozen mahi mahi fillets (defrosted)
olive oil
salt and pepper

  • Brush olive oil on slightly defrosted fish fillets.  
  • Season with salt.  
  • Grill on low heat for about 6 minutes per side or until fish is opaque in the center.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Salsa: Fresh and Spicy



We've been creating some fun dishes lately but we have to say, they haven't been the healthiest  So here's an easy recipe for fresh salsa.  I actually made this to bring to Holly's for a family bbq this holiday weekend.  It didn't last long!

I've always been a fan of fresh salsa, the tomatoes, peppers, spices..... yum!  And when I lived in Colorado, I ate the best salsas ever.  What I realized is that there really is no wrong combination when you are using fresh ingredients.  You can add as much -- or as little -- spice that you like.  Add green tomatoes or tomatillos, as I did in this recipe.  What you're looking for is a balance between fresh sweet tomatoes and a little kick.  Enjoy!




Salsa Recipe

8 medium sized tomatoes
3 tomatillos (you can substitute green or yellow tomatoes)
one small white onion
one jalapeno pepper 
few sprigs of cilantro, to taste
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
juice from 1/2 lime
pepper to taste
  • Coarsely chop the tomatoes and tomatillo.  
  • Add to a colander.  
  • Next chop the onion into very small pieces.  
  • Mince whole jalapeno.  
  • Add onion and jalapeno to tomatoes in colander.   
  • Let the tomato mixture sit in colander with a bowl under it for 10 minutes.  This will help drain the excess juices.  
  • Transfer to serving bowl.
  • Add the remaining ingredients and toss to incorporate spices into mixture.

Serves up to 12 as an appetizer with chips.  



chop the tomatoes, onion, jalapeño 
put chopped ingredients in a colander with a bowl under 
to drain excess juices
see the juices! 

Enjoy!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Chihuly Inspired Cupcakes


Who knew Jolly Ranchers were our 'secret' to this stunning topper?





Here's the background on this fun treat.

My daughter and Holly's three children attend the same elementary school.  It's a public school, nestled in a quiet country town.  And it's filled with wonderful, dedicated and creative teachers.  Including an outstanding and inspiring art teacher, Mrs. Herklots.  She has taught hundreds of students over the years, as the resident art expert and teacher.  But her teaching isn't simply showing the kids colors, shapes and doing crafts.  She incorporates all areas of art into her classroom.  And it all culminates at the end of the year in one highly impressive art show.

Several years ago, during my daughter's first week of kindergarten, she came home and told me how much she "loved" her art class.  I asked her what she did in it, thinking maybe coloring? or gluing noodles to a plate?  she said, "Mommy, we're learning how to color block like Mondrian!"  What? in kindergarten?  That's how amazing Mrs. Herklots is.  My daughter's experience in art is like that of so many at her school; she has been enriched and excited by what she learns and this will last a lifetime.
This year, Mrs. Herklots has taught the children about the artist, Dale Chihuly.  He is an American glass sculptor and artist.  His handblown glass creations are colorful and spectacular.  (We have posted some photos of the real Chihuly art below and a link to Dale Chihuly's website).

So the children have been inspired by him (and our art teacher) and created their own "Chihuly Art".  The annual art show is tomorrow and Mrs. Herklots (with the help of parents) will transform the hallways of the elementary school with this amazing, colorful, fun art that the children have worked on all year.  It's really breathtaking when you see these pieces hanging from the ceilings.

Since Mrs. Herklots is such a Chihuly fan, Holly and I thought we would honor her with a surprise treat tomorrow night giving her our "Chihuly Inspired Cupcakes".  I think we made about 150 cupcakes?! 

It's our way of saying, thank you for your inspiration and creativity and all that you have taught to our children.   We hope you enjoy them, as much as we loved making them!  




Recipe for Chihuly Cupcakes

48 mini cupcakes or 24 large cupcakes frosted (we used a box mix for this!)

1 package of Jolly Rancher hard candies
parchment paper
baking sheet


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  
  • While the oven is heating, unwrap the candies and chop them into small pieces on a cutting board and using a chef's knife, chop each candy into several pieces.  It is not necessary to chop them into crumbs. (Or you can do what Wendy does and put the unwrapped candy in zip top bag and break with a wooden spoon!). 
  • Cut the parchment paper into 4 inch squares.  You will need 4 to 8 squares depending on how fast you work.  (Or you can use one large sheet of parchment).
  • The candy hardens quickly, so start by making four at a time and once you get the hang of working with the melted candy, you may find you can make more than four at a time.  In the size of a quarter, sprinkle two colors of candy on each square.  
  • Bake for 3-5 minutes. 
  • Remove the baking sheet from the oven.  
  • Take one parchment square off of the sheet and let it cool for about 30 seconds.  
  • Carefully peel the candy off of the parchment square.  
  • If it is sticky and does not peel off easily, let it cool some more.   
  • Once it is peeled from the parchment, flatten and stretch with your hands.  
  • Have fun twisting and creating your own Chihuly inspired designs.  Continue this process until you have enough shapes to top each cupcake. Let your creations cool completely before topping the cupcakes.
 Getting the Jolly Rancher's ready
 Unwrapped.
 In bags to 'smash' them with a ladle!
 Put a small amount on parchment, on cookie sheet.
 After 3-5 minutes, remove from oven.
 Let cool for 30-60 seconds to be able to touch it.  They should peel right off! no spray needed.
 Gently stretch and form the warm candy into fun, abstract shapes.  There's no wrong way to do it!

Pretty, isn't it?  



Wendy's daughter and my three children each recognized these creations as Chihuly as soon as they saw them.  My four year old said, "Where did you get the Chihuly mom?"  My six year old proceeded to teach me how Chihuly creates his pieces step-by-step.  Pretty impressive knowledge, thanks to one amazing teacher!


You can see some photos below of Dale Chihuly's actual art work.  Visit his website at: http://www.chihuly.com  The photo below is directly from the site.



Photo courtesy of, Chihuly Garden and Glass
http://www.chihulygardenandglass.com/exhibition-hall