Friday, August 31, 2012

The Weekly Nightcap

no fancy drink tonight.

this is what my evening is consisting of:

that's right, pj's, a glass of wine (oyster bay sauvignon blanc), and either a little puppy on my lap, or a big one.

yes, i know it's friday night.

yes, i'm that cool.

and for those who are interested another peek into my exciting start to the weekend:

have a wonderful holiday weekend - cheers!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Buffalo Bleu Cheese Stuffed Zucchini

this recipe is so surprisingly easy yet delicious! i had the idea the other night to make enchilada stuffed zucchini but i didn't have the right ingredients on hand. what i did have was zucchini, ground turkey, and bleu cheese. of course, i always have hot sauce in my fridge so buffalo-style stuffed zucchini immediately popped into my head.

i am so glad it did.

if you happened to have made my buffalo chicken dip and liked it or just like buffalo chicken wings, you will love this recipe. the best thing is its a dish all on its own. if you feel like you need more, just serve over rice or with roasted potatoes.

Buffalo Bleu Cheese Stuffed Zucchini
serves 4-6

4 medium zucchini (you want them to be on the fatter side)
1 lb ground turkey or chicken
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 cup sour cream or greek yogurt
1/4 - 1/3 cup hot sauce (i use franks hot sauce or franks buffalo)
1/4 cup crumbled bleu cheese (i used gorgonzola)

preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

chop tops and bottoms off zucchini and slice them all in half longways. scoop out seeds and enough flesh to make a place to stuff meat.

meanwhile, cook turkey/chicken in large skillet over medium heat. add onion and cook until onion is tender and meat is just cooked through. remove from heat and drain juices well. add back to skillet and stir in sour cream/yogurt, hot sauce, and cheese. stir well until combined. spoon mixture into 8 zucchini boats. place zucchini on foil-lined pan and bake for 15-20 minutes until zucchini is just tender. remove and serve immediately.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

August Peaches

one of my favorite things about august is fresh, juicy, ripe peaches. i seriously can't get enough of them!

i love them every morning in my bowl of plain greek yogurt but also love these three recipes too.

enjoy these recipes while the peaches last!

Peach Ice Cream

Peach Almond Tart

Peach Brandy Pork Tenderloin

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Caprese Salad Bites

i am trying to use up my fresh herbs before they go by the way of fall's colder temperatures. pair that with the fact that i seem to have an abundance of cherry/grape tomatoes and this quick, easy appetizer is a no-brainer.

it's a great bite to throw together for unexpected guests or an impromptu happy hour. a cherry tomato, basil leaf, and small cube of mozzarella with a splash of  balsamic vinegar and you have a caprese salad on a toothpick.

Caprese Salad Bites

fresh basil leaves
cherry or grape tomatoes
fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into small cubes
tooth picks
balsamic vinegar

spear the very end of a basil leaf with a tooth pick. add tomato and cheese and finish with other end of basil leaf. repeat with all basil and place on plate. gently spoon balsamic vinegar over each bite. enjoy.

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Weekly Nightcap - Strawberry Mint Fizz

as we leave mid-august and rapidly approach the first day of school, it feels like summer is coming to a close. fall is right around the corner. can you feel it? i can almost feel the crisp, cooler nights. i am starting to long for boots and cozy sweaters. but, before we bit summer adieu, i thought it fitting to give summer it's last hurrah. send the dog days of summer off in style.

so here's to balmy summer nights, hot humid days spent lounging by the pool, lightning bugs, steamed crabs and cold beer, baseball every night, and the smell of charcoal grills filling the neighborhood air. here's to freshly cut grass, the hum of air-conditioning units, sundresses, flip-flops, and bikinis. here's to juicy, sweet peaches, sweet corn on the cob, ripe cantaloupe and watermelon seed spitting contests. here's to the sand between your toes down the ocean hon, picnics, and cannonballs in the deep end.

this strawberry mint fizz is the toast to another gone-too-fast summer. but another wonderful season is just around the corner. so let's also toast to wanting fall to arrive as much as we were desperate for summer to make its appearance 5 short months ago.

here's to summer - cheers!

Strawberry Mint Fizz
makes 2 drinks

8 strawberries + 2 for garnish
12 mint leaves
juice of 1/2 lemon (approximately 2 tbs)
1/4 cup simple syrup (1/4 cup agave nectar, 1/2 cup water)
1/2 cup prosecco/champagne/sparkling wine
1/2 cup sake

slice 4 strawberries thinly. place 2 strawberries and 6 mint leaves into the bottom of each glass. muddle together the strawberries and mint. fill the glasses with ice.

puree the remaining 4 strawberries in a small food processor. in a large measuring cup or glass, add lemon juice,  simple syrup, prosecco, and sake to the strawberry puree. stir well to combine and pour equal amounts into both glasses. garish with a strawberry on the rim and a sprig of mint.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Thursday Latelies - Introducing Harper

i haven't done a thursday latelies in a long time. but this week, i have something i am thankful for and enjoying. in fact, this one thing has been taking up much of my time this week (thus the lack of recipe posts). those of you who follow me on twitter, instagram, or facebook already know this, but we have a new addition to our family.

i'd like to introduce you to Harper!

we adopted him from an animal rescue in west virginia (pigs sanctuary - a wonderful place that adopts all kinds of animals). he is 10 weeks old today and making the adjustment into the wasti family quite well.

roxy is slowly started to accept that he is sticking around and even agreed to play with him a little bit today.

he is by no means a replacement for our beloved dignan, but we have managed to find room in our hearts to love this cute little bundle of energy. turns out he was born the same week we lost dignan and we like to think he has a little of dignan's wonderful spirit in him.

we are thankful he is fairly laid-back (for a puppy) and loves to sleep and snuggle as much as he loves to play.

i promise to keep all my photos of this crazy cute puppy contained to instagram and twitter, but i wanted to introduce him to all of you. happy thursday!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Honey Cumin Salmon

salmon is a weekly occurrence in our household. when sockeye, coho, or any other wild salmon is in season, you can find it on our table at least once a week.

that fact alone means i am always on the look out for salmon recipes. some of my standbys are balsamic glazed, tamari ginger, and barbeque.

but i happened upon this series of 50 salmon recipes from martha stewart. i started with the first one and it was delicious. i added a couple of things but the combination of sweet honey with cumin, coriander, and soy sauce was to die for!

Honey Cumin Salmon
adapted from martha stewart
serves 2

2 salmon filets
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tbs honey
3 tbs tamari or soy sauce
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp lemon juice
olive oil

in a small bowl, whisk together coriander, cumin, honey, tamari, garlic, and lemon juice. heat 1 tbs olive oil in medium skillet over medium heat. brush salmon filets with honey mixture and sear first side for 2-3 minutes. flip and continue to cook until desired doneness (i like it still slightly pink insdie). when salmon is done, remove from pan and set aside. pour remaining sauce into pan and let bubble for 1-2 minutes until slightly thickened. pour over salmon and serve immediately.

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Weekly Nightcap - The Tartini

this cocktail is an oldie but goodie in my book. i first sipped this heavenly concoction at woodberry kitchen years ago. i asked the bartender for the recipe and he happily obliged. i still have the coaster he wrote it on.

ever since then, it has been a summer favorite of mine. it's the perfect balance of sweet and tart and it just tastes so refreshing. you may even find me sipping this martini in the dead of winter when i am longing for summer, but it's best enjoyed on a warm summer evening while watching the sun set.


serves 2 
courtesy of woodberry kitchen

2 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 oz simple syrup (i make mine with 1 part agave and 2 parts water)
2 oz vodka
4 oz raspberry vodka
additional lemon juice and raw sugar for rimming the glass, if desired

run the wedge of a lemon around the rim of 2 martini glasses. turn glasses upside down and press into a small plate of raw sugar, twirling the glass so that the sugar sticks to the rim.

in a cocktail shaker full of ice, add ingredients and shake well.

strain into 2 rimmed martini glasses, sit back, relax, sip, and enjoy!  

Happy Birthday Dad!

no matter how old i get, one thing is for sure, i'll still always need my dad.

happy 60th birthday dad! may there be many (many, many, many, many) more birthdays to celebrate - i love you!

. . . talkin' bout . . .

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Homemade Mayonnaise

i'll be the first to admit, i'm not a huge mayonnaise fan. i don't like it on my sandwiches (mustard for me please) and i tend to prefer vinaigrettes over creamy dressing. however, there are some times when only mayo will do.

a really good, creamy, tangy bleu cheese dressing is so perfect on a wedge salad. and nothing else will really do in tuna salad or deviled eggs. as a chef, i just have to have mayo on hand. my go-to recently has been hellman's olive oil mayonnaise. the other day, i checked out the ingredient list and was appalled. i had always thought mayo was mayo, you know? eggs, vinegar, oil. what else does it need?


i don't think i need the sugar in there or the sorbic acid, calcium disodium edta, paprika oleoresin, and "natural flavor" whatever that is.

for some reason i had built homemade mayo in my head to be hard to make and finicky. turns out i was wrong. it was seriously easy to make! the hardest part is just having the patience to drizzle the oil in slowly. but honestly, it came together in less than 5 minutes - including gathering the ingredients time.

i seriously may never buy mayo again. it's that easy and the ingredients are that pure. the other great thing is you can add whatever you want to this mayo. basil and lemon, chipotle peppers, roasted red pepper and garlic, the possibilities are endless.

please note that you must use a light flavor olive oil, not extra virgin. i made the mistake of using extra virgin the first time around and had to throw it out. the extra virgin has such a strong flavor it just tasted like thick olive oil. the second time around i used light (in flavor) olive oil and it was perfect. i also use local, all-natural, free-range, cage-free eggs that i feel confident enough in to eat them uncooked. if you are worried about that, click here to see how to pasteurize your eggs.

stay tuned, recipes including my homemade mayo are sure to follow. (the following makes about 1 1/2 cups of mayo, but can be easily doubled if you need more. i prefer to make smaller batches because i don't use it very frequently.)

Homemade Mayonnaise

1 egg
1 tbs apple cider vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 cup light olive oil (not extra virgin)
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cayenne
any additional herb/seasonings you like

in a blender add egg, vinegar, and mustard and blend well. with blender running, slowly drizzle in olive oil. seriously, a super slow, thin stream is what we are looking for here. it takes a while for the mixture to immulsify. think of it as a free arm workout while you make mayo. once the olive oil has been added (slowly!), then blend in salt and cayenne and any other spices. store in an airtight container in the fridge for 1-2 weeks.

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Weekly Nightcap - Pineapple Mojito

there must be something in the water of late because i seem to have quite a few pregnant friends. don't worry, i don't think it's contagious, but it did make me stop and think. maybe i should add some mocktail versions into my weekly nightcap rotation.

this week (and some weeks) i will be offering a cocktail that can also be easily made alcohol-free for those wanting to join in on the fun. this pineapple mojito is a perfect example of just such a versatile drink. because of the fresh, tasty fruit and fruit juice, this drink is just as good with and without the rum.

if you are looking for a mocktail (a "mock" cocktail), simply follow the recipe and omit the rum. go ahead and serve it in a fancy glass with all the garnishes to make it a fancy treat! if you are making this a true cocktail, i used regular light rum, but pineapple or coconut rum would be excellent too.


Pineapple Mojito
serves 1

3-4 fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup fresh pineapple, cored and chopped
1/4 cup coconut water
1/4 cup pineapple juice
1/2 tsp lime juice
1 1/2 oz light rum 
mint and pineapple, for garnish

fill glass half full with crushed ice and mint leaves and stir roughly to release mint flavor. in a blender, combine pineapple, lime juice, pineapple juice, and coconut water and blend until super smooth. pour rum, if using, into glass and add in pineapple/coconut mixture. stir well to combine. garnish with mint sprigs and a pineapple slice, if desired.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Key Lime Pie

a couple of weeks ago, my aunt and uncle were visiting from florida. we went to dinner followed by an o's game. we had a wonderful time - but on the way home something happened. the same thing has probably happened to you before. it's late, you're on your way home and it strikes. a craving strikes. not just any craving but a mad-crazy, gotta-have-it-now, nothing else will do craving.

that night, it was a key lime pie craving. once i said it out loud, everyone in the car agreed. we could all go for a cold slice of perfectly sweet, yet tart key lime pie on a bed of crunchy, buttery graham crackers topped with a generous dollop of whipped cream. dang, we downright needed one!

it was at that moment we all agreed there needed to be a key lime pie hotline. one you can call 24 hours a day, tell the operator your location and he/she will direct you to the nearest key lime pie dealer in the area. wait, that came out wrong. i guess dessert can be like drugs in some ways, when a craving hits, nothing else will do.

i should get myself into the 21st century and say instead of a hotline, there should be an app for that. and not just key lime pie, but an app that you can type in whatever food you are craving (pizza, chocolate chip cookies, cupcakes, truffle fries . . .) and it will tell you where that gotta-have-it food craving can be found.

unfortunately, we all went to bed that night without key lime pie. (i mean seriously, there is NO place to realistically get key lime pie in batimore at 11:30pm. the only place is the frozen isle of the grocery store and that's not the kind of key lime pie i want to waste my calories on.) but my craving for my favorite pie remained.

i searched high and low for the "perfect" key lime pie recipe and with a few tweaks, i have finally landed on it. this is the perfect key lime pie. i like to think i am somewhat of an expert - it was our wedding "cake" after-all. and this is it. thankfully, it is very easy. so when a craving strikes, i can have one on the table (well within 5 hours - those darn chilling times will kill your gotta-have-it-now cravings).

i made two of these pies and took them to a dinner party and they were met with rave reviews. i heard several "this is seriously the best key lime pie i have ever had" comments. i have to agree. this is the only recipe i will be using from now on.

it's. that. good.

Key Lime Pie 

6 oz prepared graham cracker crust (or feel free to make your own)
2 - 14 oz cans sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup 2% plain greek yogurt
3/4 cup key lime juice
zest of 1 lime
1 tbs lime juice
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tbs powdered sugar

preheat oven to 350 degree F.

whisk together sweetened condensed milk, sour cream, yogurt, key lime juice, lime zest, and lime juice until smooth and combined. pour into pie crust. bake for 8 minutes. remove from oven and let cool completely. refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.

before serving, whip heavy cream and powdered sugar together until stiff. pipe onto pie and garnish with lime wedges if desired. enjoy!

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