Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Honeydew, Blueberry and Mango Salad

I saw this on Mel's Kitchen Cafe and just had to try it.  I'm not a huge honeydew fan usually, but if you put mangos with something, it's always gonna taste good.  And that's the case with this.  Fabulous.  I'm supposed to bring a fruit salad to a family get-together in a couple of days, and I might just have to whip this baby up again.

Honeydew, Blueberry and Mango Salad

*Makes 6 cups

1 tablespoon grated lime zest from 4 limes (zest limes before juicing)
1 cup fresh lime juice (from the 4 grated limes and an additional 3-4 limes as needed)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Pinch table salt
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced (about 1 tablespoon)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 small honeydew melon, seeds and rinds removed, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
2 mangoes, peeled, pitted and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
1 pint fresh blueberries

In a small, heavy-bottomed non-reactive saucepan, simmer the lime juice, sugar, and salt medium-high heat until syrupy, honey-colored, and reduced to 1/4 cup, about 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add the lime zest, ginger, and lemon juice. Let the mixture sit and steep for 5 minutes. Strain the syrup through a fine mesh strainer. Combine the honeydew, mangoes and blueberries in a medium bowl; pour the warm dressing over and toss. Serve immediately at room temperature or cover with plastic wrap, refrigerate up to 4 hours, and serve chilled.

Ranch Taco Chicken Salad

This is such a fun meal to have in the summertime.  So light, fresh, and easy.

Ranch Taco Chicken Salad

1 lb. chicken, cooked and cut into strips
1 tsp. oil
1 tsp. chili powder
16 oz. salad greens
1 cup shredded cheese
ranch dressing
tortilla chips

Cook chicken, oil, and chilli powder for 8 minutes or until chicken is cooked.  Toss all other ingredients together with the cooked chicken into a salad.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Hamburger and Green Bean Casserole

I got this recipe from one of my roommates back in college.  I'm so sorry you can't see the hamburger!  It's in there, I promise.  This is a great way to use up green beans from your garden - I picked several thousand green beans from my mom's garden this week.  Yummmm.

Hamburger and Green Bean Casserole

1 lb. hamburger
1/4 of an onion, chopped
1 can of drained green beans, or 2 cups of fresh steamed green beans
1 bag of frozen tater tots
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup milk

Brown hamburger.  Add onion and cook until the onions are tender.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Put the hamburger in the bottom of a 9X13 pan.  Lay green beans on top.  Put the frozen tater tots on top of the green beans.  Mix the soup and milk together, then pour over the tater tots.  Bake at 350 degrees for one hour.

Cashew Pork and Pea Pods

I got this from my sister's Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.  This is one of my faaaavorite meals.  It is so good, so good, you see. (Dr. Seuss)  Aaaand it was another way to use up the sugar snap peas I got from my mom's garden.  Badda-bing, badda-boom.

Cashew Pork and Pea Pods

Makes:  4 servings

1 pound lean boneless pork
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup orange marmalade
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp. grated fresh ginger or 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 Tbsp cooking oil
2 cups fresh pea pods or one 6-oz pkg frozen pea pods, thawed
2 peaches or nectarines, peeled and diced, or 1 1/2 cups cubed papaya or frozen peach slices, thawed
1/2 cup cashews or peanuts
2 cups hot cooked rice

1.  Slice the meat into bite-sized pieces.  For sauce, in a bowl stir together orange juice, marmalade, soy sauce, cornstarch, and ginger.  Set aside.

2.  Pour oil into a wok or large skillet.  Preheat over medium heat.  Add pork.  Cook until done.  Stir in pea pods and fruit.  Push ingredients from the center of the wok.

3.  Stir sauce; pour into center of wok.  Cook and stir sauce until thickened and bubbly.  Stir in meat mixture to coat with sauce.  Cook and stir for 2 minutes.  Stir in nuts.  Serve with rice.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Buttery Peas with Thyme

I made this a few months ago and really loved it.  Since I just inherited several billions of pounds of peas from my mom's garden (is there anything better than peas fresh from the garden??) I decided to make it again for our neighborhood's barbeque tonight.  And then I realized I don't have this on my blog yet.  Doh.  So here it is.  It's from Mel's, of course.

Buttery Peas with Thyme

2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup yellow onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 medium onion)
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 medium garlic cloves, finely minced
3 cups frozen peas
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (or 1 teaspoon fresh)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and add the onion, sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook until the onion is softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Stir in the peas and thyme and cook, stirring often, until the peas are just heated through, about 3 minutes. Season with black pepper (and additional salt if desired) and serve immediately.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Blackberry Peach Cobbler

My sister got married last summer while I was stuck in China.  I'm still sad about it.  A couple of weeks after her wedding, she wrote me an e-mail and told me all about it. She happened to mention that they had blackberry peach cobbler for dessert for their rehearsal dinner, and I just about broke down and cried.  I was in China, the land of no blackberries.  No ovens.  No baked goods.

I'm still traumatized by my stay in China.  For reals, yo.  I just barely made my first Asian-inspired meal since we've been home.  And we've been home 10 months.  It was just that bad for me.

Kay.  So when Lex told me about this dessert, I filed it away into my brain:  Oh yeah.  I'm soo making that next summer.

And right now, the time is right.  Peaches are on.  Blackberries are on.  So the other night, I searched for a recipe, and this one from seemed good.  And boy, was it ever.  Mama mia.  It's a keeper.

Oh, and I've tweaked it a little bit - they said to use cold butter straight from the refrigerator in making the dough, and that ended up being a fiasco for me.  Next time, I'm going to soften the butter a bit before blending it into the flour.  I've had enough experience with dough to know that will work just fine.  So that's the change I've made below.

Blackberry Peach Cobbler

Gourmet | September 2005

Yield: Makes 12 servings
Active Time: 25 min
Total Time: 1 1/2 hr (includes cooling)

2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 cups plus 1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/4 lb blackberries (5 cups)
2 lb peaches (6 medium), peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons whole milk

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 425°F. Butter a 13- by 9- by 2-inch glass or ceramic baking dish (3-quart capacity).

Whisk together cornstarch and 1 1/2 cups sugar in a large bowl, then add blackberries and peaches and toss to combine well. Transfer to baking dish and bake until just bubbling, 10 to 15 minutes.

While fruit bakes, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in another large bowl, then blend in butter with a mixer until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add milk and stir just until a dough forms.

Drop dough onto hot fruit mixture in 12 mounds (about 1/3 cup each), then sprinkle dough with remaining teaspoon sugar. Bake cobbler until top is golden, 25 to 35 minutes. Serve warm.

Cooks' note:
Cobbler can be baked 6 hours ahead and cooled completely, uncovered, then chilled, covered. Before serving, let stand at room temperature 1 hour, then reheat in a preheated 350°F oven until warm, about 20 minutes.

The Best Blueberry Muffins

Holy Mother of Pearl, are these ever good.  I couldn't even believe how amazing these were.  Sooo not ever buying a box mix for blueberry muffins again! These were totally easy to make.  And they taste seventeen million times better.

And yep, I got these from Mel's Kitchen Cafe.

The Best Blueberry Muffins

*Makes 12-16 muffins

*Note: I’ve made these with fresh or frozen blueberries…both work great but use fresh, if you can. I’ve also made them eliminating the blueberry syrup step and tossing both cups of blueberries in with the flour mixture. You don’t get the delicious blueberry syrup effect on top of the muffin, but they do come together more quickly and are packed with blueberries (still top them with the lemon-sugar mixture).

Lemon-Sugar Topping:
1/3 cup sugar
zest from one lemon

2 cups frozen blueberries (or 2 cups fresh)
1 1/8 cups (8 ounces) plus 1 teaspoon sugar
2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/4 cup oil (vegetable or canola)
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the topping, stir together sugar and lemon zest in a small bowl and set aside.

For the muffins, adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a standard muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray. Rinse one cup frozen berries under cold water and spread on a double layer of paper towels to dry well. Bring remaining one cup berries and 1 teaspoon sugar to simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, mashing berries with a spoon several times and stirring frequently, until the berries have broken down and the mixture is thickened and reduced to about 1/3 cup, about 6-8 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and cool to room temperature, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. Toss the berries that have dried on the paper towels in with the flour mixture. Whisk remaining 1 1/8 cups sugar and eggs together in a medium bowl until thick, about 45 seconds. Slowly whisk in the butter and oil until combined. Whisk in the buttermilk and vanilla until combined. Using a rubber spatula, fold egg mixture into flour mixture until just moistened. The batter will be lumpy with a few dry spots of flour – don’t overmix. This is the key to moist and tender muffins.

Using ice cream scoop or large spoon, fill the muffin cups until they are about 3/4 full. Spoon a teaspoon of cooked berry mixture into the center of each mound of batter. Using a skewer (or a chopstick), gently swirl the berry filling into the batter using a figure eight motion. Sprinkle lemon sugar evenly over the muffins.
Bake until the top of the muffins are golden and just firm, 17-18 minutes. Cool muffins in the muffin tin for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and cool 5 minutes before serving.