I Heart Gourmet Magazine

I recently broke down and got myself a subscription to Gourmet magazine. It was time to break the habit of buying them here and there or getting them from the library because there’s just too much good info. in there.

Gourmet is definitely just that–Gourmet and for me, that means that sometimes the recipes and articles can be a little. . . stuffy for my taste. I might really like the recipe, but it will contain hard to get ingredients or a technique that’s new to me and I don’t have time to experiment. That being said, it’s also a great magazine. It’s got fabulous photography and a lot of recipes I really CAN use. . . or attempt to without too much trouble. And it’s been my goal with this blog to keep the recipes Real, if you will and somewhat easy to accomplish. As I’ve said, I’m not a chef or even someone with Culinary education, but I am a person with serious passion for good food and I love to cook. So, I gotta have me some food magazines around to feed the need to find new ways to explore food.

The August issue of Gourmet has some things worth pointing out. There are a couple of fabulous ones in the Quick Kitchen section–one for Skillet Potatoes with Olives and Lemon and also one for Zucchini-wrapped Fish Fillets. Feast your eyes on those below. Great summer meal! Continue Reading


I can’t stop eating the corn.

It’s peak corn season around these parts and honestly, it’s hard for me to stop myself from eating like, 3 ears a day. Because I totally could. I love that Butter and Sugar variety. It’s like candy–truly. This combined with my late-pregnancy “could eat around the clock” situation means that I’m in real danger of going overboard with the stuff. Today I even made corn bread. For real. As though munching on cobs every day at dinner wasn’t enough. I’m addicted!It’s my opinion that when corn is in season, the only thing to do with it is grill it or throw it in some boiling water for a few minutes, add butter and salt and chow it down. It’s so good–why monkey with it too much. That being said, I know some folks need more. I guess what I’m trying to say is if you need to do more with it, make sure it shines in the dish you make. Give it the spotlight it deserves, because pretty soon it’s gone. And the Jolly Green Giant just ain’t gonna cut it. Continue Reading


Pucker up!

One of the essential summer flavors has got to be lemon. It’s versatile—it goes with fresh berries, it goes with just about any seafood and it loves veggies, too. Sometimes a little lemon is really all you need to go from bland and boring to bold and exciting in no time. If I have a lemon and some olive oil, sometimes that’s really enough to dress a salad. But, if I have a few more ingredients on hand and a little more time, then this Lemon Vinaigrette is where it’s at:lemon.jpg

LEMON VINAIGRETTE

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves
4 cloves garlic
4 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

In a blender, combine lemon juice, parsley, garlic, lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Then, as it’s running, slowly blend in the oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

This vinaigrette has a multitude of uses. It’s fabulous on a fresh summer salad, but it’s also really wonderful on grilled asparagus . . .and grilled fish or SHRIMP! I’ve been known to add it to a bowl of plain couscous to jazz it up a bit. It’s too good not to use wherever you see fit. Continue Reading


Eating more green food

For some people (like my husband) it ain’t easy eatin’ green. When he was a kid his mom made up a little song to encourage him to finish his salad. The main lyric of it was, “Jamie! Jamie! Jamie! Jamie eat your salad!” I guess you kind of have to hear it. Anyway, I don’t think it did much to help him want to eat it.

I’ve found that sometimes the right dressing makes it so much more tolerable to the salad avoider. How about putting something green on your greens? I think this recipe for Creamy Green Dressing from Emeril is one of the better ones for making folks wanna eat their veggies. And again, it’s a great dip for veggies, pita chips or bread, or even for a hearty potato chip. It’s versatile. Use it well!

Creamy Green Dressing

1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 avocado, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons minced green onions
1 tablespoon minced parsley
1 tablespoon minced tarragon or dill
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon saltemeril.jpeg
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Toss all that in the blender and process until smooth! BAM! You got something to make your salad and veggies happy happy!


Sour Cherry—tangy, fruity fun

Admittedly I use this Sour Cherry Vinaigrette recipe much more in the winter than summer, but I’m not sure why. Either way, it needs to be included this week because it’s too yummy not to be. And It’s also somewhat versatile, like the basil sauce.

This dressing is great on mixed greens. My favorite combo is greens, good quality goat cheese, roasted beets, and toasted walnuts. Toss that up with this dressing and MMMMMMM!

And it’s also on a couscous and chick pea salad, as well as topping off a simple grilled chicken or pork dish. It can jazz things up in no time at all. Keep some on hand! Continue Reading


Basil in abundance

Probably the most popular summer dressing around here is this basil vinaigrette. With basil in abundance right now, this is a great way to use it—especially because it’s more than a salad dressing.  It’s great for drizzling over fresh tomatoes, or for marinating chicken or fish. I use it all over the place. It’s really an all-purpose basil sauce. Put it wherever you like!
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FRESH BASIL VINAIGRETTE

2 Cloves of garlic
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 — 3/4 cup of loosely packed basil leaves
1/4 olive oil
1/4 cup safflower oil
1/8 cup red wine vinegar
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
Freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Place the garlic and salt in the bowl of a food processor or blender pulse until chopped and well combined.
2. Add all the remaining ingredients and pulse until the basil is finely minced and the dressing is well-combined.

I’ve been known to freeze batches of pesto throughout the summer, just to take advantage of the amazing and aromatic basil. But, I’m looking for new ideas!!! What do you do with the abundance of basil?  Do you have favorite recipes or ways of preserving it that you can share?  If so, bring them on!

Here’s a cool variation on the recipe above—Fresh Tomato Basil Sauce from hellchef.com.


Honey Mustard—a Winning combo

So, we’re talking about salad dressings this week and I have to include this recipe first because it’s hubby’s favorite and maybe the kind we use the most around here. Being a health-conscious wife and mom, I feel obligated to do what it takes to get the veggies into the mouths of my boys. And if that means Honey Mustard dressing—so be it!

This couldn’t be easier to make and there are no fancy ingredients. It’s all stuff you probably already have on hand.  Here’s what we do to make a fresh, healthy salad that has all “hubby safe” foods in it:

Wash and spin the greens.
Mix up the dressing.
Toast some walnuts.
Grab a handful of raisins.
Grate a carrot.

Toss them all together in a nice big salad bowl. I know, very scientific.

HONEY MUSTARD SALAD DRESSING
This also makes a great dip!

1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Freshly ground salt and pepper
1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme

1. Whisk it all together, store covered in the refrigerator.

Need more? There’s a whole world of salad recipes at easysaladrecipes.com.

And for another take on the Honey Mustard thang, try this one from  Apple Cider Vinegar—yum!


Dress up your greens

We have more salad greens than we know what to do with. The CSA farm we get our share from is abundant with them right now, so it’s always a challenge to keep salad interesting. My husband isn’t the most fruit and vegetable friendly, so if I want help using the greens, I have to be creative.
If it were up to the husband, we’d use bottled dressings most of the time. To him, it’s just easier. To me, it’s. . .not as fun or interesting. I can try new flavors, use herbs right from the garden and get fun bottles to store them in! I’m all over it. So, this week we’ll get into some great recipes, but today we’ll talk about some good tools for making dressings.

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1. You gotta have a nice stainless steel mixing bowl. These are my 2 essential tools for mixing up a good salad concoction. Cooking.com offers one made by OXO that’s just perfect because it’s got an non-skid bottom that helps it grip onto your counter top making so much easier to whisk away. While it has a stainless interior, the exterior is white plastic, so your hands aren’t subject to the temperature of what’s inside. Nice! The 1.5 quart is only 10 bucks and totally a bargain. Continue Reading


An easy summer dinner

One of my favorite things on the grill is shrimp. I love shrimp anyway, really. I’m like Bubba from Forrest Gump. “Shrimp kabob, shrimp salad, shrimp creole. . . “ I like it all —and seafood in general.  But on the grill is really how shrimp is best, I think, so I recommend it as an addition to this cold soup recipe and it makes a super easy, quick summer meal. Refreshing, tasty and light. Just what summer calls for, in my opinion.

CHILLED AVOCADO SOUP

4 large avocados (about 2 pounds), diced
Juice of 1 lemon, chilled
2 cups chilled vegetable stock or water
1 pint yogurt, chilled
Freshly ground salt and pepper
Chopped dill or cilantro

In the food processor add avocados, lemon juice and veg stock or water. Blend until it forms a puree. Add yogurt. Blend until smooth. Test to see if soup is cool enough. If not chill for 1 to 1-1/2 hours, but not more. Salt and pepper to taste. Add some freshly chopped cilantro or dill for a kick of flavor! Serves 4.

Serve with:

GRILLED SHRIMP

16 medium shrimp, cleaned and deveined
1 tbs. olive oil
Freshly ground salt and pepper
4 Wooden skewers

Heat grill to medium-high. Soak skewers in water while the grill heats up.
Thread 4 shrimp on each skewer, brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill for 3-5 minutes on each side.

Done! Now that’s a quick and easy simple summer supper!


Pick your own

At this time of year there are lots of options for getting out there and picking your own fruits.  I remember when I was a kid going raspberry picking was the coolest thing. There was something fun about searching around for the ripest, ready fruits and picking them as fast as I could. It was sort of a contest because we had to fill our baskets, but we had to do so while also snacking on them. Who could resist? But eating along the way meant working faster so that you had something to show for all the time spent.

Blueberry picking happened right outside the door of our summer cottage in the summer. I can remember taking a little cup outside with me, still in my pajamas and finding some wild blueberries to take back home and plop into the morning pancakes. There’s simply nothing better.

If you don’t have blueberries right outside your door, but you want the experience, find yourself a good Pick Your Own farm. Chances are they will have Autumnal picking, too—apples, pumpkins, etc.  So, you can go back in October!

Today’s cold soup is a sweet, refreshing one that uses your fresh picked raspberries.

COLD RASPBERRY SOUPrasp.jpg

1 quart fresh raspberries, reserve a few whole ones
juice of a quarter of a lemon
3 cups water
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 cup heavy cream
whole mint leaves

In a saucepan, combine the berries, lemon juice, water, sugar, and salt and bring to a boil. Simmer for 7-9 minutes. With the cornstarch, make a paste by adding a little water, then add it to the soup. Stir and cook for 1 minute. Pour mixture into a sieve and force it through (this rids the soup of any seeds). Stir in the cream and chill. When it’s time to serve; garnish bowls with fresh mint leaves and raspberries.

If that’s not enough of a cold fruit experience for you—try this one from wholefoods.com—curried mango! I used to live in Seattle where I had a Whole Foods right around the corner. Now, I have to settle for their online recipes. It’s so not the same.