Monday, July 18, 2011

Vacation Requests

Not the type that cause drama in the workplace.  Recipe requests, of course!  I just got home from an awesome week spent on the beaches of Ocean City, NJ (our own little slice of heaven on earth) with the majority of my Mom's side of the family.  As we always say, "We're either eating food, talking about food, planning the food for our next meal, or shopping for food."  Basically, we like food.  So a week away with family definitely involved a lot of good food and also the swapping of recipes.  I'd like to post some links to a few of the recipes that my fellow beach-goers thought they might like to try.

First, we have a delicious, healthy recipe packed with good for you ingredients: Barley, Black Bean, and Avocado Salad from Reader's Digest's Eat to Beat High Blood Pressure.  I got this recipe from my best friend who even cooked it for me once :)  I usually follow the directions to make it with brown rice, but either way is yummy.

Next, we have Parchment Baked Halibut with Pesto, Zucchini, and Carrots from Health Magazine, which I've posted about before, but it's so good, it's worth mentioning again. You can use any kind of white fish you like. (Once again, here is a link to the recipe for Basil Pesto from Giada DeLaurentiis' Everyday Italian.  You can just follow the instructions for the sauce by itself.)

Next, we have a delicious Light Fruit Vinaigrette from Camilla Saulsbury's blog Enlightened Cooking.  I like to make a Blueberry version following the Large Batch instructions and substituting Blueberry Jam for the Raspberry in the "Summer Raspberry Variation."  All the other variations sound amazing, but so far I've stuck with the Blueberry.  I brought two bottles of this yummy dressing on vacation with me and even the four-year old enjoyed it.  Any recipe that gets adults AND kids to eat more salad definitely qualifies as a home-run in my book.

I also need to mention a breakfast favorite: Multi-Grain Pancake Mix from Cooking Light Magazine.  My grandma, aunt, mother, and brother are already fans of this recipe, so I'd say it has a pretty good track record.  Grandma even brought a double batch of this mix to the beach this year.  I found this recipe a few years back and we love it so much because it is yummy, healthy, and easy to whip up ahead of time. When you are ready to make some pancakes (or waffles), it's as easy as using store-bought pancake mix, but so much better.  Just follow the directions for Multigrain Pancakes and you'll have breakfast in no time.

And of course we can't forget dessert: Lemon-Cranberry Cake from Better Homes and Gardens.  OK, the recipe is actually for Orange-Cranberry Cake, but sub in lemon zest and lemon juice for the orange, and voila, you have Lemon-Cranberry Cake.  I just happen to prefer lemon, but either way could work nicely.

Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Special Request - Peanut Sauce

While discussing with Christy the amazing variety of products one can buy at Trader Joe's, she mentioned peanut sauce.  And true to form, I interjected: "I have a recipe for that!" So here it is from Cooking Light Magazine.  I've never made the full recipe, just the peanut sauce.  The only thing I do differently is to use regular peanut butter, because I don't buy reduced-fat peanut butter.  In a pinch, any hot sauce will work in place of the Sriracha.  I most often make this sauce to toss with whole-wheat spaghetti, sauteed onions, and veggie slaw (also from Trader Joe's) for a yummy peanut noodle dish.  You could also add chicken, but I'm usually too lazy for that.  Enjoy!

Monday, July 4, 2011

A Summer Favorite - Pesto (& Ways to Use It)

I got home from the farmer's market last Saturday with three beautiful bunches of fresh basil and immediately went to work making a double batch of Basil Pesto from Giada DeLaurentiis' Everyday Italian (The first list of ingredients and the first paragraph of the directions are all you need to make the sauce.)

I absolutely adore pesto and I always make extra in the summer months to freeze for the rest of the year.  After the sauce is made, I scoop it into a couple of ice cube trays. After the cubes are frozen, I just pop them out and transfer them to a freezer bag or container.  Then, when I am making a dish that calls for pesto, I just defrost the number of cubes I need depending on what I'm making.  One of my favorite recipes that calls for pesto is Parchment Baked Halibut with Pesto, Zucchini, and Carrots from Health Magazine.  You can use any kind of mild white fish for this recipe, but usually I use flounder or sole.  

I've also made my own copy-cat version of a recipe called Farfalle alla Nonna, one of my favorite dishes from Acquista Trattoria, one of my favorite Italian restaurants near St. Johns University.  Basically, I toss together bow-tie pasta, sauteed chicken pieces, pesto sauce, and strips of sun-dried tomatoes.  I've always skipped the mushrooms, but they probably would be a nice addition if you like them.  My version isn't as good as Acquista's, but it is still quite yummy. 

And finally, I got the inspiration for my third favorite pesto recipe from Anna Thomas's Love Soup.  It's basically a "gourmet" grilled cheese sandwich made with layers of soft goat cheese, strips of sun-dried tomatoes, and pesto.  I think you can figure that one out without the actual recipe.  I followed the recipe from the book the first time I made it, but now I just wing it.  It's the type of recipe where you go "why didn't I think of that?" because it's so easy and delicious.