Stone Fruit & Prosciutto Salad

Stone Fruit & Prosciutto Salad

Dear Summer,

Please don’t ever leave.

I love how you bring the bright, radiant sun out to warm us.

I love how you encourage me to wear flip flops every day (even to work).

And I love how you bring out the incredible sweetness and intense flavor to stone fruits. It makes me want to eat them all the time! Nectarines, peaches, plums, pluots….oh, the endless possibilities!

Stone Fruit & Prosciutto Salad

And Summer, you also inspire me to eat light and fresh dishes. So I decided to take your hint and threw some delectable stone fruits into some greens. A salad filled with all types of mixed greens to give that peppery verdant flavor, a needed savory element with the thin prosciutto slices, a salty & nutty profile from the parmesan cheese and much needed texture from the chopped pistachio nuts.

I don’t even bother with a vinaigrette. Instead, I opt for a bit of freshly squeezed lemon juice for acidity and a drizzle of EVOO for that needed richness.

Divine.

So Autumn, please push the snooze button a few more times to allow my Summer to stay a bit longer.

xoxo.

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Stone Fruit & Prosciutto Salad
Serves 1

Ingredients:

2 cups mixed greens (arugula, romaine, baby spinach, etc)
¼ cup sliced peaches
¼ cup sliced nectarines
¼ cup sliced plums or pluots
1 tablespoon roughly chopped pistachio nuts
1 ounces parmesan cheese shavings
juice of 1 lemon wedge
1 tablespoon quality extra virgin olive oil
2 pinches kosher salt
2 pinches coarse black pepper

Plate the first six items on a serving dish. Squeeze the lemon juice over the plate, followed by the drizzling of olive oil. Season with the kosher salt and black pepper. Enjoy!

Spicy Shrimp and Sausage Pasta — Surf & Turf Made Easy!

Spicy Shrimp & Sausage Pasta
Now let me admit this to you.

Some girls love flowers delivered to their door and some gals love chocolate.

Me?

You’d have my attention with a nice bottle of vino or meat. :)

Yes, you read that correctly.

 

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So when our friends at Farmer John sent over a box of their latest Cheese & Wine Flavor Smoked Sausage, I squealed with joy.

Seriously…squealed.

Not only because I was so excited to try it out but we coincidentally were having our monthly Sunday Family Dinner just a few days after. Complete divine intervention since a part of our menu required for us to bust out our beloved habachi grills.

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It was perfect since our proteins mainly consisted of seafood (calamari, prawns, shellfish, lobster) and sausage was a much welcomed addition.

We sliced a few links up and threw them on the habachi which imparted even more of a smoky flavor. The sausage itself turned out to be a tad on the sweeter side (likely because of the wine) but it paired well with the salty-briny seafood.

So when it came time for me to use the sausage in a dish, I wanted to make sure to balance out the flavors.

Cue in spices, herbs and tomatoes.

 

Spicy Shrimp & Sausage Pasta

I played around with a few ideas and decided to use the browned sausage with a heavily spiced shrimp in a tomato sauce.

I finished the whole sha-bang with a mountain of fresh herbs and tossed it with linguine — a pasta that can hold up to a hearty sauce.

 

Spicy Shrimp & Sausage Pasta

It. Was. Delish.

Don’t believe me?

Well…shame on you!

Because it was.

Fo’ reals!

Spicy Shrimp & Sausage Pasta

The entire dish was then showered with a mound of freshly shaven parmesan cheese….and then I paused…..

Because when you make happy things in your kitchen, it deserves a moment of silence…

Followed by a serious dance-it-out session and a swig of chianti…or whatever you’re sipping on.

It’s completely mathematically sound.

Spicy Shrimp & Sausage Pasta

And yes, all of the flavors balanced out perfectly.

The salty, sweet sausage paired well with the spicy shrimp. The acidic tomato sauce with its aromatics added the much needed punch to the dish. And the cheese—well, the cheese added love.

Obvi.

Much thanks again to our friends at Farmer John - we love ya!

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Spicy Shrimp and Sausage Pasta
Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

½ pound shrimp, cleaned and deveined
½ teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning (or other Cajun spice blend)
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
black pepper
½ teaspoon garlic salt
kosher salt
olive oil
1 pound smoked sausage (I used Farmer John® Wine and Cheese Sausages), sliced
¼ cup sliced shallots
1 tablespoon minced garlic
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
¼ cup white wine
1 28-ounce can crushed Roma tomatoes
5-6 fresh thyme sprigs
½ tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 pound dried linguine
¼ chopped Italian parsley
1 cup parmesan (shaven, grated, etc.)

In a bowl, mix the shrimp with the Old Bay Seasoning, cayenne pepper, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, garlic salt, ¼ teaspoon kosher salt and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Set aside.

Heat 2-3 tablespoons oil in a heavy bottom, deep skillet (or pot) to medium. Add the sausage slices and brown on both sides. Toss in the shrimp and cook until they turn pink – approximately 2 minutes. Remove the contents to a clean bowl and set aside.

Add the shallots to the skillet and cook for a minute before adding the garlic. Cook for a minute and stir in red pepper flakes. Add tomato paste and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. Turn the heat to high and pour the wine into the skillet. Use a wooden spoon and scrape the bottom of the skillet to release all the brown bits. Allow the wine to come to a boil and reduce the liquid for 2-3 minutes on the high heat.

Add tomatoes with its juices and bring to a boil. Once it comes to temperature, lower the heat to medium-low. Use the wooden spoon to crush and break apart any large pieces of tomatoes. Stir in the thyme and oregano and simmer the sauce, partially covered for 20 minutes.

While the sauce cooks, boil the linguine for approximately 10-12 minutes in heavily salted water until al dente. Drain the pasta and reserve ¼ cup of the starchy water that the pasta was cooked in.

Stir the shrimp and sausage into the simmered tomato sauce. Toss in the cooked linguine, coating the pasta well. If you want a looser based sauce, add a tablespoon at a time of the pasta water until you reach your desired consistency. Season with additional kosher salt and black pepper as needed.

Plate the pasta and sprinkle each dish with parsley and the freshly shaved parmesan.

Enjoy!

 

 **Disclosure: I did receive products from Farmer John, but as always, my opinions are my own.**

Hair of the Dog – Bloody Marys

Hair of the Dog - Bloody Mary

It’s no secret… my seester T and I are rather in L-O-V-E with a good Bloody Mary. They’re schpishy, zingy and man…do they have some serious rejuvenating powers. Hair of the dog all the way!

But there’s nothing worse than a watered down, flavorless Bloody. Vodka in an iced glass of tomato juice does not make a Bloody Mary. Hell – that’s just spiked tomato juice. Yuck! 

A well crafted Bloody should be as complex and multi-layered as a beautiful dish. Savory while bright, spiced and full of umami (ugh, did I really use that word?), while still packing a strong punch.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to using a premade Bloody mix because there are some darn good ones out there. But even when I do use a premixed base, I always tweak it. Usually to give more spice and depth of flavor.

Hair of the Dog - Bloody Mary

So when one of my favorite meals comes around (Sunday Brunch of course), I’m the first to offer up one of my Bloody Marys. Starting off with a good tomato juice, I add some of this and some of that until the concoction is just right. And then, the Bloody has got to chill in the fridge so that the flavors have a chance to marry.

That gives you the perfect amount of time to get the “toppings” together. And that’s where things get fun. Pickled or fresh veggies, pepperoni, crispy bacon, shrimp, cheeses, kettle chips–anything goes! And want a tip? If you’re wary about having to pick up all kinds of ingredients to garnish a cocktail–fret not! Just swing by the salad bar of your local grocery store and grab whatever tickles your fancy. I usually fill a little box with all the fixings to jazz up my cocktails for under $2-$3.

Looking for a Pan-Asian spin on the Bloody Mary? Use Sriracha instead of hot sauce….swap out Worcestershire sauce for Maggi Seasoning Sauce… crush in some hot Thai chiles….and finally, top it with a SPAM musubi. HELL YEAH!

I’ve included a guide below of how I start my Bloody Marys but like my other cocktail recipes on the site, the measurements are loose guidelines and should be adjusted to your liking.

With that Friends….TGIF! Happy Friday and have a brilliant weekend!

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Hair of the Dog – Bloody Marys
Serves 2 (very hefty servings)

Ingredients:

3 cups tomato juice
1 heaping tablespoon prepared horseradish
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
½ tablespoon Tabasco sauce (or other hot sauce of your choice)
2 tablespoons olive juice (brine)
juice of ½ small lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
zest of ½ lemon
several dashes Old Bay Seasoning
1 teaspoon celery salt (more to rim the glasses)
¼ teaspoon kosher salt  (more to rim the glasses)
1/8 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
4 ounces premium vodka

Extra goodness:
grilled prawns
thick pepperoni slices
peperoncinis
cucumber slices
pickled hot cherry peppers
lemon wedges
lime wedges
celery stalks

In a pitcher or very large cocktail shaker, combine the first 12 ingredients. Stir well and refrigerate for about an hour.

While the cocktail chills, take wooden skewers and slide the garnish onto them.

Mix together 1 part celery salt and 1 part kosher salt in a shallow plate. Wipe the rim of two glasses with a lemon wedge. Roll the edges of each glass into the salt mixture and set aside.

Once chilled, stir the Bloody Mary concoction well. Fill the glasses with ice and divide the chilled liquid amongst the two. Garnish each drink with the celery stalks and prepared skewers.

Cheers!

 

Pan Seared Black Cod with Anchovy-Herb Vinaigrette

Pan Seared Black Cod with Anchovy-Herb Vinaigrette

It’s been non-stop for me over the past few weeks and although I’ve had a fantastic time, this gal was starting to feel a bit run down.

I needed sleep.

I needed to give my party pants a break.

And I needed to get back in my own {tiny} kitchen.

Pan Seared Black Cod with Anchovy-Herb Vinaigrette

And that’s where I was all weekend long.

Well, it was where I was after I went to the store to stock up on fresh produce because I think the only green thing I consumed over our 4-day Vegas trip was the lime in my grey goose tonic.

Gluttony is my name.

Pan Seared Black Cod with Anchovy-Herb Vinaigrette

To fuel up for the weekend of cooking, I wanted something light but fulfilling–definitely some fish. Now my default is usually sushi or fish tacos when I get a hankering for fish but I then remembered a nearby fishmonger that I’ve been wanting to try – Catalina Offshore Products. They get their product every day directly off the boat from the fishermen — cannot get any fresher than that!

So I popped on in….drooled over all of their premium grade uni, oysters, sushi grade fish and chopped it up with some of their staff. AMAZING!!! For all of you folks in the San Diego area who may be wary about seafood—come here! They’ll put to rest any fears that you may have.

I somehow practiced some self restraint and only picked up a few fillets of their gorgeous black cod for lunch. Black cod is a tender fish that is a bit on the fattier side –think of sea bass– and incredibly delish.

I chose to pan sear the fillets because it’s quick and gives the fish a lovely crunchy crust without overcooking the meat. And the secret to pan searing fish? You’ve got to get the skillet/pan screaming hot before adding the oil and do not —let me repeat…DO NOT mess around with trying to flip the fish around a gazillion times. You’ve got to let it crisp up on the first side and then when it’s ready, meaning when you can slide a spatula underneath it without any resistance, then flip it!

Pan Seared Black Cod with Anchovy-Herb Vinaigrette

Because I’m obsessed with anchovy paste lately, I decided to make a quick herby vinaigrette with anchovy paste for that much needed acidity to cut the natural fattiness of the fish. And for all of you anchovy haters — get over it! The paste adds a subtle, salty, sea flavor that I’m sure you wouldn’t guess it was anchovy if I hadn’t told you.

For reals…..

Since I was aiming for a lighter dish, I served my fish with these gorgeous heirloom tomatoes that I also tossed in some of the vinaigrette. They were beautiful and sweet. But if you’re looking for a little starch — a sunchoke puree or even garlic noodles would be the bomb-diggity.

Yeah….I just went there.

The finished dish is a show stopper if I dare say so myself. Crisp and tender fish with bright acidity from the vinaigrette. And guess what? If you get your act together, this beauty can be done in 20 minutes…..25 minutes if you want to take a leisurely approach.

Fantastic if you’re having folks over or just when you want to make yourself something delish. Because let’s face it, I don’t care if you’re just learning how to cook, an intermediate cook or chef extraordinaire —the food you create should make you want to smile and do a little happy dance.

And this little number made me do both….times 100.

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Pan Seared Black Cod with Anchovy-Herb Vinaigrette
Serves 2

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon anchovy paste
2 tablespoons minced shallots
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
1 cup roughly chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon roughly chopped Italian parsley
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 champagne vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt
black pepper
2 black cod fillets, skin-on, de-boned (5-6 ounces each)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3-4 fresh thyme sprigs
2 cups heirloom cherry tomatoes, quartered

Combine the anchovy paste, shallots, garlic, herbs, lemon juice and vinegar in a blender and blend at medium speed for about 20 seconds. With the blender running on low, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until the vinaigrette has become emulsified. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Score the skin side of each of the fish fillets and use paper towels to pat them dry. Season the fillets with kosher salt and pepper.

Choose a skillet that can handle a high level of heat (ie. cast iron, stainless steel, etc.) Heat the skillet over high heat so that it becomes screaming hot. Once it reaches the desired temperature, add the oil and swirl it around the skillet. Carefully place each fillet, skin side down into the oil. Using a spatula, gently press down on the fillets so that they don’t curl up on the sides. Toss the thyme sprigs into the oil on the side of the fish –this will help flavor the oil.

Cook the first side of the fish for about 3 minutes — depending on the thickness of the fillets. Be careful not to flip the fish before the skin has crisped up and formed a crust. Once the first side has cooked, about 2/3 way through, flip and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Remove the fillets from the skillet.

Toss the tomatoes in a few spoonfuls of vinaigrette. Plate 1/2 of the dressed tomatoes on each plate. Top each mound of tomatoes with a cod fillet. Drizzle the fish with additional vinaigrette. Serve immediately.

Almond Joy Milkshakes

Almond Joy Milkshakes

It’s been really hot these past few days.

How hot you ask?

HELLA hot.

Darn too hot to cook or even warm up food. So instead, I opted to make milkshakes for dinner the other night.

Almond Joy Milkshakes

I rummaged through the freezer and found some chocolate and coconut ice creams which I threw in the blender with some other goodies. And some how, I inadvertently made the most delicious milkshake with the flavors of Almond Joy. ‘Cause….

Sometimes you feel like a nut…
Sometimes you don’t…..

It was decadently yummy and helped keep me cool during the .5 seconds it took me to inhale the whole thing.

I love it when I make delish things by accidents.

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Almond Joy Milkshakes
Serves 1

Ingredients:

1 heaping scoop chocolate ice cream
1 heaping scoop coconut ice cream
½ cup almond milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon coconut extract
1 ounce creme de cacao (optional)
2 tablespoons toasted coconut flakes
1 teaspoon toasted almond slices
1 teaspoon cacao nibs or chocolate chunks

In a blender, add both ice creams, almond milk, both extracts, creme de cacao (if using) and 1½ tablespoons coconut flakes. Blend until the shake is smooth and frothy. Pour the contents into a glass and sprinkle the top with the remaining coconut flakes, almond slices and cacao nibs (or chocolate).

Enjoy!

 

 

Our Big Fat GREEK Sunday Family Dinner – OPA!!

June 2014 Sunday Family Dinner

As it turned out, the only Sunday we could have our June Family Dinner was on the same weekend of our big seester and B.I.L.’s wedding anniversary party………..

The same event that we were slated to cook/bake the entire menu as well as prep the decor and floral arrangements.

No big deal right? Good thing we’re robots.

June 2014 Sunday Family Dinner

 

But our monthly Family Dinners have become a tradition and I was determined to still make it happen without having to add any extra stress.

An easy, low-key menu was a must…..especially if we could prepare things in advance.

June 2014 Sunday Family Dinner

Enter Ina Garten to save the day!

I happened to catch an old episode of hers on TV where she was fixing up a Greek/Mediterranean spread to enjoy at one of her friends’ fabulous new homes. Nearly everything was made in advance and she just carted it over to the house when it was dinner time.

PERFECT!

June 2014 Sunday Family Dinner

And on another note, that woman has some pretty spectacular buddies in some amazing industries! Lighting specialists, florists, chefs, cheese makers,  vintners —I need to run in her crowd!!

But I digress….back to the food.

So with a loose Greek themed menu, we were off to the races.  For appetizers, we snacked on flaky, buttery, golden Spanakopita. I actually made them 2 weeks beforehand and stored them unbaked in an airtight container in the freezer. The day of our dinner as we sipped on chilled vino, I put them directly from the freezer into a preheated oven. 35 minutes later, our tummies were doing a happy dance.

 

June 2014 Sunday Family Dinner

As for the main menu, what’s easier than grilling? Especially if we can task the boys to do the grill work!

MAN LIKE FIRE. <insert curmudgeon caveman voice>

And since we were going Greek, we marinated chunks of lamb and chicken in Greek yogurt with tons of lemon juice, rosemary and garlic. The proteins bathed in the marinade overnight which I think helped to reduce any extra gaminess lamb is known to have as well as keep the meat tender.

Of course, the recipe is Ina’s and can be found here but I added about 1/4 cup of minced garlic to the recipe. No garlic?! Not me!

June 2014 Sunday Family Dinner

We served the chicken and lamb with an easy cucumber and fresh dill tzatziki sauce.

 

June 2014 Sunday Family Dinner

And how could we have a Greek outdoor feast without Pita Bread? Pita is something that is surprisingly easy to make (despite my first apprehension) and also can be made in advance. We ended up grilling the Pita to warm them but I think next time it would be better to toast them lightly in the oven because they got a tad crunchy for my liking. The recipe I used can from The Kitchn  can be found here.

I’d also be doing a disservice to the sis if I didn’t talk about the light Greek Salad she whipped up with feta, cucumbers, olives, fresh dill, tomatoes and red onions –it was our MUCH needed veggies!

 

June 2014 Sunday Family Dinner

As for dessert, we kept things relatively light –especially since we all inhaled a TON of desserts at the anniversary party the night before. So we opted for a simple Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta and topped it with a fresh fig & berries compote.

The panna cotta was a cinch to make and had similar tart flavors to Vietnamese yogurt. As for the compote, it was nothing more than cooking the figs, strawberries, and raspberries down with about 1/2 cup white wine, sugar and a bit of vanilla.

Truth be told, I was surprised how much I did enjoy dessert considering it was a last minute addition to the plate but it was  yuuuummmmmyy!

June 2014 Sunday Family Dinner

All in all, despite how crazy tired we were from the night before, Sunday Family Dinner was quite the success.

Lounging in the backyard, dangling our toes in the hot tub, sipping on vino, naps in the sun and good food with the family. The perfect way to spend a Sunday FUNday and nothing to it but a bit of work ahead of time.

Until next month - OPA!!!!!!!!!

June 2014 Sunday Family Dinner

 

Chimichurri Skirt Steaks for ‘Murica!

Chimichurri Skirt Steak

Okay gang…it is that last minute push to scrub down those grills….. stockpile on hotdogs, hamburgers, coleslaw, ribs and bust out your RED WHITE and BLUE…..

Because tomorrow the country will be celebrating ‘MURICA!

Chimichurri Skirt Steak

But if you’re looking to grill up something different to please your crowd, try throwing some flavorful skirt steak smothered with THE BEST chimichurri sauce. It’s super easy to make and is dang delicious with some lightly grilled tortillas.

And with that folks, enjoy the fireworks, some BBQ goodness, and have a fantastic 4th of July!!!

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Chimichurri Skirt Steak

 

Ingredients:
1 cup fresh cilantro
½ small white onion
4 large garlic cloves
1 jalapeno pepper
zest of 1 lime
½ cup fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon honey or agave
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
¾ tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
½ cup olive oil
2 pounds skirt steak
vegetable oil
1 cup chimichurri sauce

In a food processor or blender, add the first 14 ingredients. Pulse several times until the fresh aromatics have broken down. Place the skirt steak into a gallon size resealable bag. Pour the marinade over the steak and massage it through. Be sure to get most of the air out of the bag before sealing it. Put the steak in the refrigerator and marinate 4-6 hours.

An hour before you start cooking the skirt steak, pull it from the refrigerator to take the chill off of it. Heat your grill to medium-high. Brush the grates of your grill with the vegetable oil. Cook the steaks for about 1-2 minutes on each side –depending on the thickness of your steaks. Remove to a platter and cover with foil for 10 minutes.

Once rested, slice the steak thinly across the grain of the meat. Spoon the chimichurri sauce over the steak and serve with warmed tortillas, if desired.