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Archive for June, 2012

by Sarah Steimer

Grilling fish is not easy, it stuck to the grate a lot even though I brushed it with olive oil first. I’m sure baking the fish instead of grilling it would give you nearly the same effect.

For the corn salsa:

  • 1 cup corn (fresh, frozen or rinsed from a can)
  • 2/3 cup black beans
  • 1/4 cup red onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, diced (de-seed if it’s a very hot pepper)
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper (again, lessen if this is too hot for you)
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients. Let sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour so the flavors can combine well.

The salsa is great just with chips as well.

For the fish

  • 3 tilapia fillets
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 6 small corn tortillas

Brush both sides of the tilapia with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill (or bake) until the fish is cooked through, which should mean it should be firm when you touch it in the center.

Remove the fish from the grill (or oven) and flake with a fork. Grill the corn tortillas and serve the fish with the salsa, along with additional tomato salsa and sour cream, if you please.

Makes three servings.

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by Caitlin Saniga

So, the story behind this dessert’s nickname is that I brought it to a recent get-together with some friends, and when people started asking what it was, another friend was quick to call it “Jello salad.” Only everyone else heard “jungle salad.” So I’m not sure what everyone was expecting when I cut into it … wild berries, plantain leaves, tropical edible flowers? Nope, this is red, white and blue pretzel salad: sweet, salty, creamy and light. And I’m naming it my signature dessert of the season!

  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup crushed pretzels (I used stale ones, and popped them in the oven for about 8 minutes before crushing them. I like the new flavor a lot.)
  • 1/2 pint whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon + 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 ounces strawberry gelatin dessert mix
  • 1 1/2 cup fresh blueberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small pan, melt the butter slowly, and add the pretzel crumbs. Stir constantly for about 2 minutes, then transfer the mixture in a 7″x7″ glass baking pan. Use a piece of wax paper to pat down the pretzel mixture into a flat layer at the bottom of the pan. Bake for 10 minutes, then transfer to the fridge so it can cool quickly.

Meanwhile, use the whisk attachment of an upright mixer or use an electric hand mixer on high to whip the whipping cream and 1 teaspoon sugar. When the cream has stiffened some, after about 1 1/2 minutes, transfer the whipped cream to another bowl. Add the cream cheese to the bowl of the mixer and beat until it softens, about 1 minute on high. Add the whipping cream, and beat to combine, about 30 seconds. Refrigerate.

Bring the water to a boil in a small pot. Pour the boiling water into a medium glass bowl, and add the gelatin mix. Stir with a whisk for 1 minute, or until the gelatin mix dissolves completely. Refrigerate for 1/2 hour.

When the gelatin has just started to set, it’s time to assemble the layers of this dessert. Pour the cream cheese mixture over the pretzel crust, and use a spatula to carefully spread the mixture over the crust. (Try to work from the center of the mound of cream cheese mixture out. It’s easy for crumbs to surface as you spread.) Next, arrange the blueberries in a single layer over the cream cheese mixture. Pour the gelatin over top, and refrigerate for 1-4 hours before serving.

Makes 12 servings.

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This blog has been here for more than two years and has always benefited from the fact that there are two contributors, Sarah and Caitlin, who share ideas, try new things and push each other. But we’re always looking for more ways to know our audience better because we believe that the better we know you and the more ideas we all share, the better this blog can be. So please, take five minutes to complete our survey. And leave comments at the bottom of this page to make note of anything we missed or anything you think we should know. We’ll share the results with you within the next couple of weeks.

Thanks for your input and time!

— Caitlin and Sarah

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by Sarah Steimer

I served this sloppy Joe with a side of lemony potato-fennel salad. That’s Bill’s Mexican-imported Pepsi he found at a convenience store. Made with real sugar! Wild.

  • 2 (14.5-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can petite diced tomatoes, drained OR 2 medium-sized tomatoes, diced
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 15-ounce jar prepared salsa
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 buns
  • cheese (optional)

Combine the beans, tomatoes, mustard, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, cumin, salsa and salt in a deep skillet. Cook over medium heat until warmed all the way through. Serve immediately.

Recipe from: Heather Likes Food

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by Caitlin Saniga

We made these pizzas the first day of my visit to Aunt Kay’s in New York. We used what she had in her fridge: little bits of produce, some bacon, spices and cheese. It was a delicious combination. So forage in your fridge. This is a great recipe to use for leftovers and scraps.

  • 4 6-inch flour tortillas
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • 4 strips bacon, cooked for 2 minutes in the microwave
  • 1 red pepper, roasted, skin removed and julienned
  • 1/2 small red onion, sliced into thin rings
  • 1 small zucchini, shaved with a vegetable peeler
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 3/4 cup shaved mozzarella cheese
  • cayenne pepper, to taste

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place 2 tortillas on each baking sheet. Brush the tortillas with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.

Use paper towels to soak any extra grease from the bacon, and cut the bacon into 1-inch lengths. Divide the bacon among the tortillas. Do the same with the red pepper strips, onion, zucchini, capers and mozzarella. Sprinkle with cayenne pepper.

Place the baking trays on separate racks in the oven. Cook about 7 minutes, then rotate the trays, checking for doneness. Cook 5-7 minutes longer, allowing the tortillas and bacon to crisp and the cheese to melt and begin to bubble. Serve immediately.

Makes 4.

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by Sarah Steimer

This was my first time making yellow cake from scratch – although I’ve made plenty of chocolate cakes (using this stand-by recipe). The walnut topping is totally optional, I just thought it needed a little flourish.

For the yellow cake:

Makes enough for one, 8-inch round cake, single-layer.

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter softened, plus more for parchment
  • 1 1/3 cups cake flour sifted, plus more for parchment OR 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used skim)

    I’ll admit that if I’m going to foray into unknown baking territory, I always head for Martha Stewart’s website.

Butter an 8-inch cake pan. Cut a circle out of parchment paper, using the pan as a guide, and place the circle at the bottom of the pan. Butter the top of the paper and lightly flour the pan, tapping off the excess.

In a medium bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and then beat in the eggs one at a time. Set aside.

In another medium bowl, sift or whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add this dry mixture to the wet mixture, alternating with the milk. Martha Stewart’s recipe said to start and end with the flour additions, but I didn’t do this and everyone survived.

Pour the batter into the pan and bake at 325 for 45-55 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown. Cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then remove from pan (don’t forget to take the parchment paper off) and cool on a rack completely. Do not ice the cake while it is still warm.

My cake, which I made with all-purpose flour, was maybe a little more dense than it would have been with cake flour. But it was still moist.

For the chocolate icing:

Cut this recipe in half if you only make one layer of cake.

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk (again, used skim)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt the butter. Add the cocoa powder and whisk to combine.

Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating with an electric mixer as you go. Can add additional milk if needed. Stir in vanilla. Use immediately.

Cake recipe adapted from: Martha Stewart

Icing recipe from: Hershey’s (right on the side of the cocoa box)

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by Caitlin Saniga

Roasting the garlic ensures that it doesn’t overpower the star of this pesto: arugula.

  • 6 cloves garlic, peel on
  • 2 cups packed fresh arugula
  • 1/2 cup lightly toasted shelled walnuts
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Asiago cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 3/4 cup olive oil

I love the way arugula pesto pairs with grilled summer vegetables. I sliced up some eggplant, zucchini and golden tomatoes and gave them a couple quick turns on the grill, then topped them with a hefty drizzle of pesto. Delicious!

Use about 1/4 teaspoon olive oil to lightly grease the surface of a small cast-iron skillet. Over medium heat, roast the garlic until the peel is spotted with brown, about 8 minutes. Let the cloves cool slightly, about 5 minutes, then remove the peels and add the garlic to the bowl of a food processor.

Add the arugula, walnuts, cheese, salt and pepper to the bowl of the food processor as well. Pulse the ingredients into a coarse meal and then slowly pour the olive oil into the mixture, pulsing as you go, until you achieve the consistency you desire. (I used the full 3/4 cup of oil, but I also had really packed in the arugula.)

Serve immediately, or store in a sealed container for up to 1 week.

*Presto is our June guide that proves pesto goes way beyond basil. Find all of our Presto pesto recipes here.

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by Sarah Steimer

I served the chicken over a tossed salad of carrots, green onion, cucumber, cilantro and spinach.

For the chicken:

  • 2 stalks lemongrass, peeled and chopped
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, grated
  • 1 birds eye chili, seeded and chopped OR I used a combination of jalapeños and crushed red pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

    The few things that fit on my little Chicago patio: A table, grill, herbs and beer.

  • 1/2 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound chicken breast, cut into cubes

Place the chicken in a glass or tin pan. Whisk together all other ingredients and pour over the chicken, stirring to coat. Refrigerate for at least one hour.

When ready, skewer the chicken. Grill over medium heat for about 5-8 minutes on each side or until grill marks appear and the chicken is cooked through.

Vietnamese dipping sauce:

  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 birds eye chili, chopped OR about 1 tablespoon or so crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • juice from 1 lime
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

I had a few leftover stalks of lemongrass from my Thai lemongrass iced tea and went searching for recipes – this guy won, hands down.

Whisk together all ingredients. Use as a dipping sauce or salad dressing with the chicken.

Recipe adapted from: Closet Cooking

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by Caitlin Saniga

I’ve made this French toast recipe a million times. Mom taught me how to make it when I was young, and I’ve been making it ever since. I got the idea for the syrup from her, too. Any time we had fresh berries on hand, mom would make a syrup on the stove so we could have it with breakfast, whether it was pancakes, waffles or my favorite, French toast. And this syrup is awesome. I served the French toast and syrup recently as an afternoon meal for me and Eddie, and when he was done with his French toast, he went back to the stove for the pan of sauce and ladled a few more scoops onto his clean plate.

For syrup:

  • 2 cups fresh blueberries, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For French toast:

  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 8 slices bread, halved
  • butter for greasing the pan

To make the syrup, combine the the blueberries, 1/2 cup water, lemon juice and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Bring to a boil. In the meantime, stir together the 1/4 cup cold water and cornstarch in a small bowl. Add the mixture to the boiling blueberry mixture and stir gently. Let the sauce cook until it thickens, about 3 minutes. Remove the syrup from heat and add the almond extract and cinnamon. Stir gently to combine, and reserve.

To make the French toast, whisk together the eggs, milk and cinnamon in a deep, medium-size dish. One piece at a time, dip the bread in the egg mixture to coat, flipping if necessary. Add a small pat of butter to a large pan over medium-low heat, and add a few slices of bread to the pan. Cook 1-2 minutes on one side, or until the underside turns a speckled golden-brown, then flip to cook the other side about 1 minute longer. Continue this process until all the bread has been cooked. Serve immediately with the warm blueberry sauce.

Makes 4 servings.

Syrup recipe adapted from: AllRecipes.com

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by Sarah Steimer

I loved the Mediterranean taste of this pesto – although I do wonder how different the taste or texture would be if I actually found jarred, oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes instead of just plain sun-dried toms.

  • 1 (8.5-ounce) jar sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil OR I used about 2 cups worth of dry sun-dried tomatoes which I rehydrated in warm water for about a half hour
  • olive oil (only if you didn’t use oil-packed tomatoes)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

In a food processor, combine the sun-dried tomatoes (including the oil if you found the jarred version), garlic, salt and pepper, and basil. If

I used this pesto as a burger topping this time around. My friend Logan doesn’t like a sloppy tomato slice on his burgers all the time and thought this was an awesome substitute.

you did not get the jarred tomatoes, drizzle in olive oil as the machine mixes until you reach a desired consistency. Be sure to scrape the bowl down as you go.

Remove the mixture from the food processor and mix in the Parmesan by hand.

Recipe adapted from: Giada De Laurentiis via the Food Network

*Presto is our June guide that proves pesto goes way beyond basil. Find all of our Presto pesto recipes here.

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