Sunday, June 26, 2011

Homemade Basil Pesto

We have lots of basil and after picking a full bag, I knew today was going to be homemade Basil Pesto day!   It is simple and so good!

Homemade Basil Pesto

  • 2 C fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 1/2 C Parmesan
  • 1/3 C Pine Nuts, toasted
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 quick squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 C olive oil
Directions:   Toast your pine nuts in a small pan over medium heat.   Using a food processor, combine basil, Parmesan, pine nuts and garlic.   Slowly add the olive oil while the food processor is running.   You may have to scrape the sides a bit.   Add the quick squeeze of lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper.   Pulse a few more times in the food processor and serve or store in a glass jar in the refrigerator.

ready to use
simple pasta with pesto

Friday, June 24, 2011

...and the winner is...

Congratulations to...

Christine Lamb 

She's the winner of the $100 Williams-Sonoma Gift Card.

Thank you to everyone who participated and keep your eyes peeled as I'll be doing another one soon.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Beer Burgers

I've got an incredible marinade recipe that uses Shiner Bock beer.   While making burgers one day, I decided to add some to the ground beef and came up with this gem of a recipe.   With blue cheese, shallots and the marinade, you get a beautiful burger that is juicy and moist.  Of course, the marinade goes well with almost very protein!

Beer Burgers

  • 1/2 C Bock Beer Marinade (see below)
  • 2 lbs. ground chuck (80/20)
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1/2 C blue cheese, crumbled
  • salt and pepper
Bock Beer Marinade ingredients:
  • 1 bottle Shiner Bock beer
  • 1/3 C dark brown sugar
  • 3 T soy sauce
  • 3 T Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/3 C pineapple juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 T molasses
  • 1 T fresh ginger, grated
  • salt and pepper
Mix all the ingredients together.  I like to put it into a large mason jar, shake it to use, then keep the remained in the refrigerator.   Just watch for the carbonation!

Directions:   Combine beef with 1/2 C Bock Beer Marinade, shallots and blue cheese.   Mix with hand to incorporate.   Form into 6 equal patties, salt and pepper and grill to desired doneness.   I always butter the buns and mark on the grill.   Add your favorite fixings for a great burger!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Lemon and Blackberry Bars

Growing up in England, I had the lovely experience of wild blackberries.   These brambles would grow everywhere and my friends and I would harvest whenever we saw them, without washing, and pop them into our mouths. In fact, they grew along the back hedge of one of the schools I attended and we'd eat them during recess, staining our hands and mouth a delightful purple.

With big, fresh blackberries showing up in the grocery store, I thought I could add these to the standard lemon bar and enjoy two favorite flavors in one bite!  The results - YUM!   The crust is flaky, the lemon bars are zesty with a blackberry surprise and then I had to top it off with a creamy cheesecake topping.   Dessert is served!

Lemon and Blackberry Bars

Crust Ingredients:
  • 1 C butter
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 2 C flour
  • 1 t salt
Lemon Ingredients:
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 C sugar
  • 1/2 C flour
  • juice of 4 lemons
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • 1 C blackberries
Cheescake Topping Ingredients:
  • 1 pkg cream cheese, softened
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/3 C powdered sugar
  • zest of 1 lemon
Directions:   Heat over to 350 degrees.   Grease bottom of an 8x8 pan and set aside.   In a medium bowl, blend together butter, sugar, flour and saltl.   Press into pan and bake for 12 minutes.

In a large bowl, mix together the sugar and flour then whisk in the eggs and lemon juice.   Pour over the hot, baked crust.   Add the lemon zest and blackberries and bake for 25 minutes.   Cool.

In a separate bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth.   Add the lemon juice and powdered sugar and beat until silky, about 4 minutes.   Spread this onto the cooled bars and sprinkle the lemon zest on top as a garnish.  Chill in refrigerator for about 1 hour before serving.   Chilling makes them easier to cut.  They won't last long...

Friday, June 10, 2011

Lemon Shrimp

I dream about food often and if I've had a particularly vivid dream, I'll write down the idea for a recipe.   This is the case with my Lemon Shrimp and I scribbled a semi coherent recipe down as soon as I woke up.   It happens to be one of those recipes that you just know will be good.   My husband scarfed down about 75 shrimp and kept making those "mmmmm" sounds as he ate.   Serve with lots of napkins and enjoy!

Lemon Shrimp
  • 2 lbs large shrimp, peeled and deveined with tails on
  • 2 lemon grass stalks, peeled, smashed and sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 T fresh tarragon, minced
  • juice of 4 lemons
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • 2 T chili pepper flakes
  • 1/2 C olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 C white wine
Directions:   Rinse, peel and devein shrimp and set aside.  In a medium bowl, add remaining ingredients and taste before adding the shrimp to make sure it's spicy enough or seasoned enough to your liking.   Add the shrimp and toss to coat.   Let marinade, covered, for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

Skewer shrimp and grill until done.   In the mean time, pour the marinade into a small sauce pan, add the white wine and simmer over medium high heat, until reduced by 1/3.   Once reduced, pour through a strainer and hold.

To serve, I plated with jasmine rice, lemon shrimp and the sauce.   It's delicious!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Simple sauteed carrots

Since it's so hot outside and the AC is trying to cool the inside, I don't want to stand over a hot cook top for too long preparing dinner.   Also, with the temperatures soaring past 100 degrees here in Austin, our meals have taken a turn for the LEAN as we are just not that hungry!   In addition to our grilled chicken last night, I blanched some carrots then quickly sauteed them in a little olive oil with salt and pepper.   They were a perfect accompaniment to the arugula and chicken and something I will do more often.

Simple sauteed carrots
  • 6 - 7 carrots, peeled and sliced on the diagonal
  • 1 T olive oil
  • salt and pepper
Directions:   Peel and diagonally slice the carrots.   Blanche in boiling salted water for 4 minutes and drain well.   In a saute pan over high heat, quickly cook the carrots and season with salt and pepper.   Perfect side dish for many meals!
 with a little olive oil 

our yummy dinner last night

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Pico with Pizazz!

With fresh tomatoes at every Farmer's Market - it's time to make Pico de Gallo.   We love this zesty condiment on almost everything we eat.    Chopped tomatoes, sweet onion, jalapenos, cilantro and lime juice... then I add a special secret ingredient to throw a spin on a simple recipe to add a bit of pizazz!

Pico de Gallo with Pizazz

  • 6 medium fresh tomatoes, seeded, cored and chopped
  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped
  • 3 jalapenos, seeded and minced
  • 1 large bunch cilantro, rinsed and minced
  • 2 T fresh lime juice
  • 2 T tequila
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Directions:   Wash your ingredients well and dry.   Combine all the chopped/minced ingredients in a large bowl, stirring to incorporate.   Add lime juice, tequila, salt and pepper and taste to see if you need to add additional seasoning.   Serve with chip (I love blue corn tortilla chips), on a salad, as a side to grilled steak or chicken.   Delicious!