Saturday, September 22, 2012

Horseradish Cherry Tomatoes

Attending a football viewing party and need an easy, tasty and unique munchie to share with the group?  Why not try these Horseradish stuffed Cherry Tomatoes.  I saw these in a Bon Appetit spread on "Tomato Starters" and immediately knew I had to try them!

I used:

Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes
Prepared Horseradish

As you'll see from the photo, 3 out of 4 ingredients came directly from Trader Joe's.

I made these on Labor Day Weekend - and had 2 parties to attend.  One was a BBQ on Sunday, and the other was a pool party on Labor Day Monday.  I opted to take these tasty treats to both parties.

The process is pretty simple, but I'm going to give a few pointers that I figured out between the first batch and the second batch.  If you follow the pointers, perhaps you can avoid some of the problems that I ran into on the first batch.  Use a small sharp knife to core the cherry tomatoes - then scoop out the centers.  This sounded a lot easier than it turned out to be - but it is do-able!    I tended to core out the top, where the stem would have met the tomato - but when they were filled, they wouldn't necessarily stand upright.  Here's a great hint that Brian figured out - place the tomato on a plate, and whatever end it stands up on, core out the opposite end.

Meanwhile, mix two parts mayo to one part horseradish - I used three big tablespoon scoops of mayo and one and a half big tablespoon scoops of horseradish.  Spoon the blended mix into the tomato cavities.  Top with chopped chives, and chill in the fridge until ready to serve.

Here's a hint on the horseradish - I used the Trader Joe's fresh horseradish, which is chunky with grates of horseradish and juicy with liquid.  The water in the horseradish thinned down the mayo and made my filling a bit runny.  The second batch I made I squeezed the liquid out of the horseradish, and while the final filling was less juicy, I also thought it lacked some of the horseradish deliciousness.   Next time  (and I WILL make these again!) I would try using the creamed horseradish that is more the consistency of mayo right out of the jar.

IF you make these for a UTAH football party, I suggest just using the red cherry tomatoes - so you'll be color-appropriate.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Penne Pasta with Chicken, Spinach and Asparagus

I had such good intentions of regularly posting again on this blog, but wow, where did the month go?  I'm not going to try to answer for the entire month, but just this weekend we went to Riverside to attend a college soccer tournament featuring Brian's niece's team.  She's the rookie head coach of the Southern Utah University women's soccer team (they're in Cedar City Utah).

After the game on Saturday (at which we sported our finest SUU shirts - lovingly supplied by Coach Becky) the team, family and friends went to "Ye Olde Spaghetti Factory" for the team dinner.  And since we had pasta, I figured I should hurry and write a Pasta Post - so here's a simple pasta dish that we enjoyed a few weeks ago...

Ingredients are simple - and quite honestly were based upon what we had in the pantry and fridge.

One box Penne Pasta - cooked per box directions.
1/2 pound Asparagus spears - microwave blanched.
1/2 bag fresh spinach - microwave blanched.
1 to 1/2 pounds frozen chicken tenders - seasoned and broiled.
Butter, canola oil and bottled crushed garlic - just the right amounts.

Microwave blanching of vegetables is one of my new favorite ways to prepare fresh vegetables.  The concept works for most everything - asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini - any number of vegetables.  You simply spread out a sheet of plastic wrap - lay the washed and trimmed vegetable on the plastic, sprinkle with a little bit of water - wrap up, and microwave for a minute or two - depending on how large your vegetable serving is.  It's quick, simple, and doesn't require cleaning a pot afterwards!

First I prepared the chicken tenders.  These were previously frozen and thawed.  I spread a little oil on both sides, then seasoned with a non-salt multi-spice seasoning (OKAY - YES - I got it at Costco), and broiled until cooked and tender.  Set aside and the cut into bite size pieces.

Bring a pot of water, with a splash of canola oil and a dash of salt, to a boil and add in the boxed penne pasta - cook per box directions.  While that's cooking -

Trim and microwave blanch the asparagus - set aside.

Blanch the spinach - I used a bowl - filled it with spinach - sprinkled water - covered with plastic wrap and zapped for just enough time to start to wilt the leaves.

Drain the pasta - leaving it in the colander so you can re-use the pasta pot.  Melt a combo of butter and canola oil, with a nice size helping of crushed garlic - you must decide how "decadent" you want to go with the "sauce.

Transfer the drained pasta from the colander back to the pot, and drop in the asparagus, spinach and chicken.  Toss, toss, toss - till the pasta is coated with the yummy garlic butter oil, and the veggies are evenly distributed - then serve.

And look how quickly it was gobbled up!

If you must - serve with a side salad.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Stove Top Strawberry S'Mores

On a recent trip to visit nephew Patrick and Brittany in Huntington Beach, our plan was to have a fire pit roast on the beach.  But the wind was so bad that we opted to return to their apartment and cook and eat there.

Dessert was to be s'mores - cooked over the fire pit.  Instead we settled for s'mores - cooked over the gas burner stove.  Either way - it's a tasty treat to follow up your weenie roast.

You'll need:

Graham Crackers
Chocolate Bars (preferably Hersey's - just because)
Sliced Strawberries

Turn your gas burner on medium.
Put a marshmellow on a skewer or fork and heat over the burner.

Get a nice brown on the marshmallow, but try to avoid an absolute burn!

Meanwhile, put some chocolate bar on a graham cracker, and heat briefly in the microwave oven.

Put the roasted marshmellow on top of the strawberries and top off with another graham cracker.

For a variation, add sliced strawberries on top of the semi-melted chocolate.


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Pioneer Day Punch - For Adults

All across the world, well in Utah and some parts of Idaho, July 24 is celebrated as "Pioneer Day" - to commemorate the day that the Mormon Pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley and Brigham Young declared: "This is the place" - and they settled the new Zion - now known as Salt Lake City.

And for some reason OTHER than Pioneer Day, Brian and I often find ourselves in Salt Lake that weekend, and we try to have a "Summer Party" with our SLC friends, sadly many of whom are traveling out of town for the holiday weekend.

Whatever, this year we had our Summer Party, hosted by the ever-wonderful and gracious Kyle and Greg.  Our Summer Party often features a punch to be enjoyed by the adult guests (not that there are any children who attend).  This year, I'm sharing the secret Pioneer Day Punch recipe with you!

Here's what to mix in a 3 gallon punch bowl, give or take:

1 can Lime Ade frozen concentrate
1 can Cranberry-Rasberry Cocktail frozen concentrate
(use the concentrate can as your measuring "cup" for the next 3 ingredients:)
4 cans Water
1 and 3/4 cans Gin
3/4 can Rum
1 2-Litre Bottle Fresca (or grocery generic Diet Grapefruit Soda)
1 Lemon - sliced.

Mix the first six ingredients together in a punch bowl.  Cut the lemon into thin slices, removing the seeds, then float the lemon slices in the punch!  Voila!

Of course you can't just serve punch, even to the adults.  So here are some suggested side items:

Assorted Cheese and Crackers - I found a wonderful Wasabi-Horseradish-Cheddar at Costco - it was a love-it or hate-it cheese.  I was on the "Love it" side, as was Denise.

Mozzarella-prociutto pinwheels with crackers.
(as well as a blueberry wrapped goat cheese).


Beer-Boiled and Broiled Brats.

Red-Cabbage Slaw.

Sugar Peas, Sliced Baby Bell Peppers and Jicama, with Hummus dip.
Mike's Famous Salsa and Hal's Artichoke Dip.

And don't forget to include several of your favorite friends.

Since it IS Pioneer Day weekend - of course you can expect fireworks!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Zucchini Breakfast Bake

Joerg offered to bring some "squash" to our weekly Saturday breakfast gathering, so I was looking forward to a couple of squash from his garden.  Imagine my surprise when he handed us two huge bags of zucchini and yellow squash.  Apparently the Baker Ranch had company who brought an entire farm's worth of produce.  Of course I want to make some zucchini bread, but I also wanted to discover other ways to utilize this crop.    My "Where's Mom Now That I Need Her" cookbook - a silly collection of Mormon recipes published in Sandy, Utah in 1983 -
offered a Zucchini Bake recipe.
I decided THAT'S what I would have for breakfast this morning.

Here's the list of ingredients (as modified a bit by Gourmet Gibbs):

2 Zucchini Squash - peeled and cubed.
3 Eggs
1/4 cup Half and Half
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Pepper
2 Tablespoons Flour
1 Cup Shredded Cheese
1 small Onion - diced
1 half Orange Bell Pepper - diced
(you really could use any color of pepper - Orange is just what I had in the fridge.)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Cook the diced zucchini until almost tender.  I find the best way to do this is put the zucchini in a microwave safe bowl, sprinkle a little water over it and cover with plastic wrap.  Microwave for 2 minutes or so; then pour out on a paper towel to drain excess water.

Dice the onion and bell pepper - set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the Half and Half, Egg, Baking Powder, Salt, Pepper and Flour.  Then stir in the cheese.

Next fold in the zucchini, onion and bell pepper.

Bake in a greased casserole dish (I recommend PAM cooking spray) for 30 minutes covered, and another 10 minutes uncovered.

Remove from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

2 Zucchinis down - 20 to go!  I think we're going to be sick of zucchini after this weekend.