Picnics

Crunchy Egg Dip

August 27, 2013

Blue Cheese Salad Dressing 2Crunchy Egg Dip

Bacon and eggs are more than just a breakfast staple; here they combine with cream cheese, blue cheese crumbles and crunchy vegetables to make a tempting dip.

INGREDIENTS

8 Ounces Softened Cream Cheese

4 Hard Boiled Eggs (Finely Chopped)

4 Strips Bacon (Cooked, Drained, Crumbled)

1 Tablespoon Blue Cheese Crumbles

1 Chopped Dill Pickle

1/2Chopped Medium Green Bell Pepper

1/2 Cup Thinly Sliced Green Onions (Including Tops)

1 Tablespoon Milk

1/2 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

1/2 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Pepper

In a medium-size bowl, stir together the cream cheese, eggs, bacon, blue cheese, pickles, green pepper, and green onions.  Stir until well combined.  Stir in the milk, salt, and pepper.  Cover and place into the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight.  Transport to the cooler if you are taking on a picnic.  Makes about 3 cups.

Raspberry Sponge Cake

August 23, 2013

Raspberry CakeRaspberry Sponge Cake

Today is National Sponge Cake Day so let’s celebrate with making a simple, but delicious sponge cake.  Many people wonder what the difference is between a sponge cake and a regular cake.  Sponge cake is a light, porous cake that is made by beating egg yolks and sugar until fluffy, and then folding in beaten egg whites.  The eggs are the only leavening agent in the cake.  There is a large proportion of eggs, but no shortening in a sponge cake.

INGREDIENTS

3 Large Eggs (Separated)

5 Ounces Sugar

4 Ounces Self-Rising Flour

1/8 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

Cream Cheese Frosting or Whipped Cream

1 1/2 Cup Fresh Raspberries

Fresh Mint for Garnish

Preheat your oven to 375° F.  Grease and flour two 9 inch cake pans. In a large-size bowl beat the egg yolks and sugar for 1 minute until thick and creamy. Set aside. In a separate large-size bowl beat the egg whites until they are stiff.  Fold the flour and kosher salt in to the egg yolk mixture.  Finally, fold in the beaten egg whites.  Divide the batter between the cake pans and place in the oven.  Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until light brown and springy to the touch.  Remember that all ovens heat differently so check at 20 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes.  Turn the cakes out on to a wire rack to cool completely.  When cool frost each cake with either whipped cream or cream cheese frosting.  Garnish with the fresh raspberries and mint leaves.  If you want to make this a single layer cake then place a layer of frosting or whipped cream between layers.  Makes either 1 or 2 cakes.

Whipped Cream:

1 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream

2 Tablespoons Sugar

1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

In a chilled medium-size bowl combine the whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla.  Beat until stiff peaks form.  The tips should stand straight.  Do not overbeat or it will turn to butter.

 

Cream Cheese Frosting:

8 Ounces Softened Cream Cheese

1/2 Cup Softened Butter

2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract

6 Cups Powdered Sugar

In a large-size bowl beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla until light and fluffy.  Gradually beat in the powdered sugar to reach spreading consistency.

Blackberry Cheesecake

July 30, 2013

Blackberry CheesecakeBlackberry Cheesecake

Today is National Cheesecake Day!

I love cheesecake.  Growing up I would go blackberry picking in my neighborhood.  There was always some area with overgrown blackberry bushes. Picking up my childhood sandbox bucket I would set myself to the task of bringing home a bucketful of blackberries.  Not many would make it home and the evidence would be all over my face.

INGREDIENTS

40 Crushed Vanilla Wafers

6 Tablespoons Melted Butter

16 Ounces Softened Cream Cheese

3/4 Cup Sugar

2 Tablespoons Unbleached Flour

2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract

1 Cup Creamed Cottage Cheese

1/4 Cup Cherry Brandy

3 Eggs

4 Cups Fresh Blackberries

Preheat your oven to 375° F. In a medium size bowl stir together crushed vanilla wafers and butter.  Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of an 8 inch spring form pan and set aside.  In a large bowl stir together cream cheese, 3/4 cup sugar, flour and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on low until smooth and set aside.  Place the cottage cheese in a food processor and blend until smooth.  Incorporate into the cream cheese mixture.  Next, stir in the 1/4 cup cherry brandy.  Beat in the eggs on low speed until combined.  Don’t over mix as you don’t want to incorporate too much air into the batter. Pour half of the cheese cake mixture into the crust lined pan.  Spread 1 cup of the blackberries on top.  Top with the remaining cheese cake mixture and 1/2 cup of the blackberries.  Place in a shallow baking pan in the preheated oven.  Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until center appears almost set.  Remove from the oven. Cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes.  Loosen the sides and cool completely.  Cover and chill for 2 hours.  To serve cut the cheesecake into wedges and top each with the blackberries. Serve with additional blackberry sauce if you like. Serves 10

Baby Eggplant Salad

July 29, 2013

eggplant 2Baby Eggplant Salad

INGREDIENTS

1 Pound Unpeeled Baby Eggplants

2 Garlic Cloves

1 Teaspoon Ground Paprika

1 Teaspoon Ground Cumin

3 Tablespoons Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

1 Bunch Chopped Fresh Italian Parsley

Fill a large size pot with water and salt.  Cut the eggplants into quarters (lengthwise).  Place the garlic cloves and eggplants into the water and bring to a boil over a high heat.  Boil until the eggplant pieces are tender.  Drain and throw away the garlic.  Place the eggplant pieces into a large size bowl.  Combine with the paprika, cumin, lemon juice, olive oil and chopped parsley.  Mix gently and place into the fridge for 2 to 4 hours.  Remove from the fridge when ready to serve. Serve chilled.  Serves 4

Blueberry Cookies

July 23, 2013

Blueberry CookiesBlueberry Cookies

If you’re tired of the same old chocolate chip cookie then give my scrumptious Blueberry Cookies a test run.  I wouldn’t quite put them in the “healthy” category, but close enough.

INGREDIENTS

2 1/4 Cups Unbleached Flour

1 Teaspoon Baking Soda

1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

1 Cup Softened Butter

3/4 Cup Sugar

2 Large Eggs

3/4 Cup Packed Brown Sugar

1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract

2 Cups Dried Blueberries

Preheat your oven to 375º F.  In a small size bowl combine the flour, baking soda and kosher salt.  In a large size bowl beat together the butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract.  Add the eggs one at a time.  Beat well after adding each egg.  Slowly beat in the flour mixture.  Stir in the blueberries.  Drop by teaspoonful onto parchment paper line baking sheets.  Place into the oven and bake for 9 to 11 minutes.  Remember every oven heats differently and if you like your cookies soft then you may want to take them out just a bit early as they will continue to cook for a bit after leaving the oven.  Remove from the oven and let cool for 4 minutes on the baking sheet.  Remove from the baking sheet and transfer them to wire racks and let cool completely.  Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Oatmeal Cherry Cookies

July 15, 2013

Oatmeal Cherry Cookies 2Oatmeal Cherry Cookies

Over the weekend I was in the mood for oatmeal cookies.  I looked all over my pantry for the box of raisins that I could have sworn was in there, but couldn’t locate them.  BUT I did see a container filled with dried cherries. The jury is in and I must admit that I like oatmeal cookies better with cherries.  Just sayin’.

INGREDIENTS

1/2 Cup Softened Butter

3/4 Cup Packed Brown Sugar

1/2 Cup Sugar

2 Eggs

1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

1 1/2 Cups Unbleached Flour

1 Teaspoon Baking Soda

1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon

1/2 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

3 Cups Old Fashioned Oats

1 Cup Dried Cherries

Preheat your oven to 350º F.  In a large size bowl, beat the butter, sugar and brown sugar on a medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy.  Add the eggs and vanilla extract.  Beat well.  In a separate medium size bowl combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and kosher salt.  Mix well Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture.  Mix well.  Add the oats and dried cherries and mix well.  Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until light golden brown.  Cool for 1 minute on the baking sheet and then remove to a wire rack.  Cool completely.  Repeat until you have baked all of the cookies.  Makes about 4 dozen.

Bastille Day Pain Française

July 13, 2013

French BreadBastille Day Pain Française

Tuna sandwiches à la française!  The best way to make this very large sandwich is to make it a day in advance.  This allows the delicious juices to soak into the French bread.  Make sure to use olive oil packed tuna instead of tuna packed in water.

INGREDIENTS

1 Large Loaf of French Bread (Round or Long)

2 Garlic Cloves Cut in Half

1/4 Cup Olive Oil

3 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar

1/4 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

1/4 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Pepper

3 Medium Sliced Ripe Tomatoes

1/2 Cup Fresh Basil

1 Tablespoon Fresh Mint

6 Ounces Canned Tuna Packed in Olive Oil

1/3 Cup Pitted & Chopped Kalamata Olives

2 Chopped Green Onions

1 Tablespoon Capers

1 Large Hard Boiled Egg Sliced

Cut your bread in half horizontally.  Take out some of the soft center from each half to make about a one inch shell.  Rub the inside of the bread halves with the garlic.  In a small sized measuring cup mix together the olive oil, vinegar, kosher salt and pepper.  Drizzle 1/4 of the olive oil mixture onto both halves of the garlic rubbed bread.  On the bottom half of the bread place 1/3 of the tomato slices.  Drizzle about half of the remaining oil mixture onto the tomato slices.  Next top with half of the basil and all of the mint.  Set aside.  Drain the tuna.  In a small size bowl flake the tuna.  Add the olives, green onions and capers.  Spoon the tuna mixture over the tomato and herbs.  Place the egg slices on top.  Put the remaining tomato slices and basil on top of the egg slices.  Drizzle with the remaining olive oil mixture.  Place the top half of the bread on top all of this deliciousness.  Wrap this large sandwich tightly with either foil or plastic wrap. Put in the fridge for at least 5 hours or overnight.  Remove from the fridge when ready to serve and cut into 4 separate sandwiches.  Makes 4 main dish servings.

Pain Francais

Three Bean Insalata

July 10, 2013

Kidney BeansThree Bean Insalata

I love beans and they are full of protein, vitamin B and iron.  They are low in fat as well (about 1 gram of fat per cup) and loaded with fiber.  If you are using canned beans please be aware that they are higher in sodium so make sure to rinse them well to reduce the salt content.

INGREDIENTS

2 Cups Cooked & Drained Red Kidney Beans

2 Cups Cooked & Drained Black Beans

2 Cups Cooked & Drained Pinto Beans

2 Cups Cooked & Drained Yellow Hominy

5 Large Chopped & Seeded Tomatoes

2 Cups Chopped Onions

1 Cup Chopped Fresh Cilantro

4 Tablespoons Fresh Lime Juice

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

3 Teaspoons Chili Powder

3 Teaspoons Ground Cumin

1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt

1 Tablespoon Freshly Ground Pepper

In a large size bowl combine the red kidney beans, black beans, pinto beans, yellow hominy, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, lime juice, olive oil, chili powder, ground cumin, kosher salt and pepper.  Mix well.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours.  Remove from the fridge when ready to serve and transfer to a serving bowl.  Serves 10

Summer Orzo Salad

July 3, 2013

Summer Orzo SaladSummer Orzo Salad

I get tired of the same old side salads so I created this lively Summer Orzo Salad that goes with just about everything.This salad is also great for a picnic or potluck because it doesn't contain mayo.

INGREDIENTS

1 Cup Cooked Orzo

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

3 Large Chopped Shallots

1/4 Cup Fresh Lemon Juice

1 Cup Halved Grape Tomatoes

10 Sliced Radishes

1/2 Cup White Beans

1/2 Cup Chopped Fresh Basil

1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

1 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Pepper

1/4 Cup Prepared Italian Dressing

Cook the orzo in a large size pot of boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes until al dente.  I used a fancy black and white orzo, but you can use any kind that you like or have on hand.  Drain the orzo and drizzle on the olive oil.  Give a good stir so the olive oil coats all of the orzo.  Set aside.  In a small size bowl place the chopped shallots and pour the lemon juice over the shallots.  Let the shallots sit in the lemon juice for about 10 minutes.  In a medium size bowl add the tomatoes, radishes, white beans, kosher salt and pepper.  Drizzle the dressing over the vegetables and mix well.  In a large size serving bowl add the orzo.  Drain the shallots and discard the lemon juice.  Add the shallots to the orzo and give a good stir.  Now add the vegetable and dressing mixture and combine well.  Finally add the chopped basil and give another good stir.  Cover with plastic wrap and place into the fridge for 2 to 4 hours.  You can make this ahead and let it sit in the fridge overnight.  If you need to add more dressing feel free to do so, but you really don’t want this salad to be drenched in dressing as it really should just be moist.  When you are ready to serve remove from the fridge and serve immediately.  Serves 6

Peas & Cipollini Onions

June 17, 2013

Peas & Cipollini OnionsPeas & Cipollini Onions

I love peas and this dish is a favorite of mine.  Featuring cipollini onions it makes a beautiful presentation.

INGREDIENTS

1 Cup Peeled Cipollini Onions (8 Ounces)

1/2 Cup Butter

1/4 Cup Water

1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

2 Teaspoons Chopped Basil

2 Teaspoons Chopped Cilantro

1/4 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Pepper

2 Packages Organic Frozen Peas (10 Ounces Each) Thawed

2 Cups Shredded Cabbage

In a medium size pot bring 6 cups of water to a boil.  Add the peeled cipollini onions and cook for only 3 minutes.  Drain and rinse in cold water.  Set aside.  In the same pot melt the butter over a low heat.  Add the cipollini onions, water, kosher salt, basil, cilantro and pepper.  Stir and cook for 2 minutes.  Add the thawed peas and the shredded cabbage.  Give a good stir and cook for 10 minutes over a medium heat.  Remove from the heat and transfer to a serving bowl.  Serve warm.  Serves 6

 

Hint:  I sometimes like to cheat and buy pre-peeled cipollini onions.  Sometimes a gal just gets a bit lazy!

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