Archive for May, 2012

by Caitlin Saniga

This recipe makes a dozen small meatloaves. If your dog can’t make it through that many in a week, it’s a good idea to store the extras in the freezer. When I served these to my dog, I’d pop a completely thawed pupcake in the microwave for about 20 seconds and then mash it up with a fork before serving it in his dish. That way he couldn’t gulp it down all at once.

In my family, a dog’s birthday is cause for celebration. Mom used to make our dog a bone-shaped meatloaf for his birthday every year, and us kids would stand around in awe as he would inhale his birthday snack in seconds.

  • 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped
  • 5 carrots, grated
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and grated
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and grated
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup prepared brown rice
  • 1 cup regular rolled oats
  • 1 6-ounce can tomato paste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil the cups of a 12-slot muffin pan.

Knead together all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Divide the meat mixture into 12 clumps, rolling each into a bowl and pressing each into a cup on the muffin pan. The clumps should fill the cups and be rounded on top, like cupcakes.

Cover the pan in foil and bake for 25-35 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted into the center of a the loaves registers 175 degrees.

Allow the loaves to cool before serving. These pupcakes can be stored in the fridge for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Makes 12.

Recipe adapted from: AllRecipes.com

I recently marked one year since I adopted my dog, Sage. I’ll probably never know what his actual birthday is because the adoption agency where I found him had very limited records. If you ask me, I’ll say this was his second birthday. And it’s been one heck of a year since I brought him into my home. It’s been awesome to see him grow and mature from a skinny, skittish puppy into a happy, playful dog. For his birthday week, I made him a batch of pupcakes and handed out the extras to my friends who have dogs. There were no complaints! Even from the few friends who dared to try a bite themselves!

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by Sarah Steimer

I am not even remotely exaggerating when I say I’ve eaten this guacamole at least once a week for the last two months. This dip has turned guac nonbelievers into believers. So kudos to Bill – he doesn’t know how to make many dishes, but he has mastered his small repertoire.

  • 2 avocados, pitted
  • 1 tomato, seeded and chopped
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • juice from 1/2 lemon or lime
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon jalapeno hot sauce
  • 1 serrano pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons red pepper flakes (we probably use way more than this)
  • salt, to taste

Mash the avocados with a fork or potato masher. Mix in the tomato, garlic, lemon juice, onion and red pepper flakes. Add the salt and adjust to taste.

Refrigerate in a well-sealed container if you are not eating it right away. Anything less than well-sealed will cause the avocado to brown.

Serves 6-8? Maybe more? Maybe less? Not sure, Bill and I usually just tackle it between the two of us.

Recipe from: Bill Harris

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by Caitlin Saniga

Red onion and basil were the stars of this salad, adding so much brightness to the flavor. And whatever you do, be sure to go with fresh corn on this recipe. Fresh corn adds such a nice crunch.

  • 5 ears of corn, shucked
  • 1/2 medium red onion, diced finely
  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar (I used a peach white balsamic vinegar instead.)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the corn about 3 minutes until the starchiness is just gone. Drain and immerse it in ice water to stop the cooking and to set the color. When the corn is cool, use a flat-edge knife to cut the kernels off the cob, cutting close to the cob.

Toss the kernels in a large bowl with the red onions, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Just before serving, toss in the fresh basil. Taste for seasonings and serve cold or at room temperature.

Recipe adapted from: Barefoot Contessa

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California roll burger

by Sarah Steimer

The crab on top of this burger makes it extra rich, but also very summery. Other topping options could include pickled ginger, fish roe or other items usually offered at sushi restaurants.

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 6-8 ounce crab meat (tail, claw, whatever)
  • 1-2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon wasabi powder or paste (I added even more)
  • lettuce or spinach
  • tomato, sliced
  • avocado, sliced
  • nori strips (just take nori paper and slice into thin strips)
  • cucumber, sliced thin
  • sriracha (optional)
  • hamburger buns

Using your hands, combine the ground meat, fish sauce, salt and pepper. Form into four patties.

This is one tall burger – I highly recommend a soft bun so you can easily squash it down and jam it into your trap.

Mix together the crab meat with the 1-2 tablespoons of mayonnaise and set aside. Combine the 1/4 cup of mayonnaise with the wasabi, adjusting to your taste, to make the wasabi-mayo spread. Set aside.

Grill the patties to your desired “doneness” and remove from the heat. Pat off any excess grease with a paper towel – unless you enjoy that grease.

Place the tomato and lettuce/spinach on the bottom half of the hamburger bun (you’ll have too much balanced on top of the patties to add this later). Next add the hamburger patty, crab, nori strips, cucumber slices and avocado. Spread the wasabi-mayo on the top half of the bun, along with a swirl of sriracha if you so please.

Makes four burgers.

Recipe adapted from: Use Real Butter


Greek turkey burgers with pickled onions and tzaziki sauce

by Caitlin Saniga

I love that these burgers are bursting with flavor. And if you’re wondering about the bread I used, it’s double-round sandwich flatbread I saw on sale at Kroger. It was perfect for these burgers!

Pickled red onion (make ahead if using):

  • 1 red onion, sliced into 1/4-inch rings
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Tzaziki sauce:

  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup chopped cucumber
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill weed


  • 1/2 cup feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped kalamata olives
  • 1/3 cup fresh chopped parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1.5 pounds ground turkey (pork or lamb works, too)
  • 4 buns, pitas or flatbreads for serving
  • greens for serving

These super-easy pickled onions are a great way to get into pickling. They take minimal prep time, and most of the magic happens in the fridge. They last about 3 weeks.

To make the pickled onions: Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Add the onions, put the lid on and blanch for 1 minute. Drain in a colander. Put the onions back in the pan. Add the vinegar, salt and just enough water to cover the onion. Cover and bring to a boil. Simmer for two minutes.  Pour the onions and brine into a jar, cover and store in the fridge to chill. It’s best to make these a day before the burgers.

To make the tzaziki sauce: Mix all of the ingredients in a small bowl and store in the fridge to chill. This can be made up to a day in advance.

To make the burgers: Start up the grill or preheat a countertop grill (Foreman-style works.) if that’s how you plan to cook the burgers. (You can also make these in a pan.)

In a large bowl, mix the feta, olives, parsley, garlic, oregano, basil, pepper and salt. Add the ground meat and use your hands to thoroughly mash together the mixture. Shape the mixture into 4 round patties.

These burgers pack really nicely. I should know! I’ve been taking them for lunch at work for the past week. For picnics at the park, I suggest assembling the burgers with buns and greens, wrapping them in foil and packing the onions and tzaziki sauce separately to avoid mushy buns.

Grill or pan-fry the burgers until the internal temperature is 165 degrees, about 7-9 minutes on each side or 7 minutes on a countertop grill.

Serve on buns, pitas or flatbreads with pickled onion, tzaziki sauce and greens.

Makes four burgers.

Recipe adapted from: Food o’ del Mundo

Alfresco Refreshed is our spin on four traditional picnic staples: fruit salad, potato salad, iced tea and hamburgers. You can find all the recipes here.

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by Caitlin Saniga

Rose iced tea

I was so happily surprised by this tea, and so were the guests at a recent brunch at my mom’s house. Some were a bit skeptical of the strong rose fragrance of the tea, but the flavor is more delicate. Sipping on this tea is like drinking a rose! Rose water is popular in Middle Eastern recipes. Look for it at natural food stores, the ethnic food section of your grocery store or online. I picked up a bottle at Fairway in New York City, but before that, I’d been shopping around on Amazon and found some decent offerings.

  • 6 cups water
  • 1/4 cup honey (or to taste)
  • 5 single black tea bags
  • 1 cup rose water
  • 2 trays of ice cubes
  • Rose stems and mint sprigs for garnish

I froze rose petals in the ice cubes I used. If you decide to do the same, some tips: Fill the ice cube trays about halfway with water, add one or two petals to each slot, freeze, and then fill to the top with cold water. Freeze the cubes the rest of the way. This ensures that the petals don’t float to the top and become disconnected.

Bring the water to a boil in a large pot. Stir in the honey.

Remove the pot from heat, and add the tea bags. Let the tea steep about 10 minutes.

Remove the tea bags, and store the tea in the fridge for about 1 hour, or until it is mostly chilled. Add the rose water and ice cubes. Serve immediately in chilled glasses, garnished with rose stems and mint sprigs.

Makes about 10 servings.


Thai lemongrass and ginger iced tea

by Sarah Steimer

Caitlin went Middle Eastern – and I went Far East. My iced tea also has an ingredient you’ll have to make a little effort searching for: fresh lemongrass. Head to the Asian market! Lucky for me, there’s a whole Asian food district off the Argyle stop on the Red Line, only blocks from my apartment. I would also bet you could find this at a good produce market or ethnic grocery store.

  • 3 stalks lemongrass, white parts only
  • 1 small knob ginger – about an inch and a half – sliced
  • 6 cups water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 cups brewed black tea using two tea bags or two heaping teaspoons loose black tea (I used Darjeeling)

Using the butt of a knife, pound the lemongrass until lightly bruised. Slice into thin pieces – it doesn’t need to be perfect.

Keep the lemongrass-ginger syrup you don’t use! I have the rest of mine in the refrigerator for iced tea later this week. I’ll just have to make more black tea each time. In all, I probably made enough syrup for eight to 10 glasses of iced tea.

Add the lemongrass and sliced ginger to the six cups of water in a medium pot. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and let simmer for 10 minutes. Add the sugar and let stand, covered, for 20 more minutes.

Strain the lemongrass and ginger from the water – which at this point is a watery, flavored simple syrup.

Fill half of each glass with the tea, then the rest with the lemongrass-ginger syrup, leaving room for ice. Mix and serve with a stalk of lemongrass (the green parts you didn’t use).

Makes four servings.

Recipe from: Appetite for China

Alfresco Refreshed is our spin on four traditional picnic staples: fruit salad, potato salad, iced tea and hamburgers. You can find all the recipes here.

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Lemony potato-fennel salad

by Sarah Steimer

With the tarragon and fennel in this dish, it tasted like a French twist on the classic American potato salad. Which probably means “healthier.”

  • 4-5 potatoes (I used a combination of medium-sized yellow and red potatoes)
  • 1 medium bulb fennel, finely sliced
  • 1 shallot (this means the whole clove), minced
  • juice of 1 1/2 lemons
  • 1 1/2 heaping tablespoons plain yogurt
  • 1 heaping tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 handful flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • olive oil

Wash the potatoes and cut into 3/4-inch cubes. You may peel the potatoes if you wish, but I kept the skins on. Boil the potatoes in salted water until soft, about 10-15 minutes. Let cool in the refrigerator.

Whisk together the yogurt, mayonnaise and lemon juice. Set aside.

Place the potatoes, fennel and shallots in a medium bowl and toss with the dressing, parsley and tarragon. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4-6 as a side dish.

Recipe adapted from: Josie Lee


Garlic scape potato salad

Can’t find garlic scapes? That’s a bummer, but you could try substituting green onions or fragrant chives.

by Caitlin Saniga

  • 5 pounds red-skin potatoes, cute into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 1 medium yellow onion, sliced finely
  • 3 stalks celery, sliced finely
  • 1/2 cup chopped garlic scapes
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cub Dijon mustard
  • juice from half a lemon
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes, cook until tender but still firm, about 12 minutes. Strain the potatoes and transfer them to a large serving dish. Add the onion, celery and scapes.

In a medium bowl, combine the mayo, Dijon mustard, lemon juice and garlic. Stir to combine. Add the dressing to the potato mixture, and stir gently but thoroughly to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately, or chill in the fridge for up to 2 days.

Makes about 12 servings.

Alfresco Refreshed is our spin on four traditional picnic staples: fruit salad, potato salad, iced tea and hamburgers. You can find all the recipes here.

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The traditional Memorial Day picnic spread is great – it’s hard to argue with tradition. This year, however, we decided to keep the menu but ditch the recipes. Remember our Thanksgiving Twist guide from 2010? This is the summer version. We’re taking four traditional picnic menu items — fruit salad, potato salad, iced tea and hamburgers — and adding a new spin.

Although trying all of these new variations at a single party may upset a few people, you could just try one or two. Go ahead — shake things up a bit over the Tupperware this season.

Three-berry fruit salad with basil-mint syrup

by Caitlin Saniga

I love the idea that some of these ingredients can likely come from your very own garden. For me, I just had mint this time of year. But give it a couple of weeks, and I might have been able to use my basil and wild raspberries from the yard. I thought about using the mulberries from behind the house, too. This dish is very flexible. Use berries that are in season.

  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 3 cups strawberries, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups blueberries
  • 1 1/2 cups raspberries or blackberries
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint

Whisk together the honey, lemon juice and lemon zest in a small bowl.

In a large bowl, combine the fruit, basil and mint. Pour the syrup over the mixture, and stir gently to combine. Refrigerate at least 15 minutes or up to 6 hours before serving.

Makes 6 servings.

Recipe adapted from: Gal Time


Layered citrus-apple salad with honey-ginger syrup

by Sarah Steimer

A little sweet and very sour – thanks to those grapefruit. If you’d rather people not have to pull the grapefruit rinds off themselves, be sure to slice those off before serving.

  • 1 grapefruit, sliced horizontally
  • 1 granny smith apple, sliced horizontally
  • 2 clementines, peeled and separated
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 tablespoons honey, plus more for drizzling if desired
  • 1/4 cup water

Layer with alternating grapefruit and apple slices. Add the clementine sections throughout.

Whisk together the minced ginger, honey and water. Sprinkle the syrup over the fruit. Refrigerate for at least one hour so the syrup has time to soak into the fruit.

Serve drizzled with additional honey, if desired.

Makes 6-8 servings.

Alfresco Refreshed is our spin on four traditional picnic staples: fruit salad, potato salad, iced tea and hamburgers. You can find all the recipes here.

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by guest blogger Jackie Valley

The bacon-wrapped stuffed dates are a fan favorite at Firefly Tapas Kitchen and Bar in Las Vegas.

Firefly Tapas Kitchen and Bar is a locally owned restaurant in Las Vegas that specializes in tapas and sangria.

I visited: Firefly Tapas Kitchen and Bar, a locally owned tapas restaurant in Las Vegas. It’s a favorite among locals seeking quality food and a fun atmosphere without the price tag of restaurants on the Strip. (And it has a killer red sangria.)

I tried: Stuffed dates (bacon-wrapped, smoked almond, red wine reduction, blue cheese)

Jackie (right) met up with Kristina, a buddy from college who was visiting Vegas, to try the stuffed dates and other tapas at Firefly. “People are always visiting Vegas, so this place is something they probably wouldn’t know about otherwise,” Jackie said.

Why it stood out: Ask any Firefly fan, and the answer is almost always the same: The stuffed dates beat out all other menu items. That says a lot considering they’re up against several dozen other cold, hot, seafood and meat tapas. Served warm, the stuffed dates are the perfect combination of sweet and chewy — a great opening tapa before the meat and seafood dishes arrive. When I recently introduced visiting friends Kristina and Jordan to the stuffed dates, Kristina’s reaction summed up the experience: “So good, so good. I’m so happy.” The second-floor, patio seats overlooking the Las Vegas valley didn’t hurt either.

It cost: $4.50

Find out more:
Firefly Tapas Kitchen and Bar
11261 S. Eastern Ave. Suite 200
Henderson, NV 89052
We visited the Firefly closest to where I live, but there are two other locations, including one near the Strip.

*$6 Snacks is a recurring feature that reviews an area eatery’s snack — for $6 or less. Look at a map of the places we’ve tried. Help our map grow by submitting your own review. Find out how!

Firefly on Urbanspoon

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by Sarah Steimer

Fava beans, fennel and mint aren’t flavors a lot of people are necessarily comfortable with – particularly all mixed together. Make sure you have a willing crowd, or a back-up dish.

  • 1/2 cup whole or sliced almonds
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 pounds fresh fava beans, shelled OR 3 pounds frozen
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 ounces Parmesan cheese, cut into small chunks (1/2 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons finely shredded fresh mint
  • 1 small head fennel, very thinly sliced, then coarsely chopped

Sauté the almonds in a small pan over low heat until they begin to brown. Remove from the pan and, if whole, chop into smaller pieces. Set aside.

Not sure about all the dainty flavors? Add some crumbled bacon.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and blanch the shelled fava beans (or defrost the frozen beans) for about 2 minutes. Immediately submerge the beans in a bowl of ice water after blanching or defrosting to stop the process. Pop the beans out of their skin.

Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Add almonds, fava beans, cheese and mint, toss to combine.

Place the bean salad over a handful of the fennel on each plate. Serve with a slice of toasted bread.

Makes four servings.

Recipe from: Martha Stewart

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by Caitlin Saniga

Do these puffs look familiar? I used the same pate a choux recipe here that I used for my sausage profiteroles a few months ago. I had some trouble getting the puffs to rise the first time I made profiteroles, but this time around, I knew exactly what consistency to look for. Remember, if you’re cooking on a day that’s even remotely humid, you should start with just 2 whole eggs. My trick is to start with 2 whole eggs, beat them into the mixture, break the third egg into a cup, and use a hollow egg shell half to scoop out little bits of egg to add to the mixture. That way, I can be as precise as possible.

Pate a choux:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut in pieces
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 large whole eggs
  • 1 large egg white

Whipped cream:

  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar (Add it gradually, tasting as you go, until you achieve the perfect mild sweetness.)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • 3/4 cup sliced strawberries
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar

To make the pate a choux:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, and set them aside. Combine the butter, salt and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan, and place over medium heat. Cook until the butter is melted and the water just comes to a boil.

Remove from the heat, add flour, and stir rapidly with a wooden spoon. Return the pan to heat; cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes together and pulls

away from the sides of the saucepan as you stir, about 5 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat, and let cool for 5 minutes.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating vigorously until they are completely incorporate and the pastry is smooth. (It might be best to break the third egg into a dish, split the yolk with a knife, and add it in spoonfuls to the mixture. You might not need to use all of the final egg to achieve the correct consistency.)

Transfer the pastry to a pastry bag fitted with a small coupler (or a zip-top bag with the corner cut off to form a small hole). Pipe about 1 tablespoon of the pastry into a mound on one of the prepared baking sheets. Continue piping until all the pastry is used, spacing pastry about 1 1/2 inches apart.

Combine the egg white with 1 tablespoon of water to make an egg wash, and brush the top of each mound with the egg wash. Smooth any rough spot on the top with a water-dampened finger. Bake until the puffs are golden brown all over, about 30 minutes. (Start checking at 20 minutes.) Remove from the oven, and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Slice the pastry puffs crosswise, and set aside.

To make the whipped cream:

In the bowl of an upright mixer fitted with a whisk, combine the whipping cream, powdered sugar and vanilla, and beat on high until a semi-firm consistency is reached, about 3 minutes.

To make the strawberries:

Sprinkle the sugar over the sliced strawberries and stir to combine.

To assemble the cream puffs:

Put a few slices of strawberry and a dollop of whipped cream in the bottom of each pasty. Top cream puffs with pastry lids.

Serve immediately or chill up to 3 hours before serving.

Recipe adapted from: The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook — The Original Classics

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