Artichokes + Friday Happy Hour

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I love a good happy hour. Drinks and small plates at a discount always sounds good to me. But going out isn’t always an option… especially when happy hour ends before you get off work. On Friday’s I usually like to have happy hour at home. There’s nothing better than happy hour in your sweats. Oh wait, I go to happy hour in my sweats anyway. Call me lazy. It’s a bad habit of mine.

The key to happy hour at home is keeping it simple. A few ingredients that require little work. Things like cheese and crackers, bruschetta or bacon wrapped dates. Today we are having one of my favorites: Artichokes and lemon butter.

I love artichokes. They are flavorful, easy to prepare and something you don’t eat everyday. The lemon butter just adds an extra flavor and enhances the artichoke. I promise you will be addicted after the first one. I usually eat a whole one myself…. sometimes two. I’m not ashamed.

Friday Libations: Pull — Cabernet Sauvignon, 2010 Paso Robles

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Artichokes + Lemon Butter   >>Serves 2

2 artichokes

1/2 stick butter

2 lemons

Cut off the tops of the leaves with scissors. This will get rid of all the pointy ends and make it easier to work with. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Juice one lemon into the water and leave the lemon halves in the water. Put both artichokes into the water and make sure they are covered. Put a lid on the pot and cook for 30-40 minutes. The artichoke is ready when the leaves pull out easily.

When the artichoke is almost done, melt the butter and juice of one lemon together. Now you’re ready to plate! Peel off the leaves one at a time and dip in the lemon butter. The “meat” is at the end of the artichoke. Simple and satisfying.

Happy Hour at home can be just as good as going out!

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Stuffed & Fried Squash Blossoms.

I told you there was more to come from my farmers market visit this weekend. I have always wanted to make fried squash blossoms. I don’t know why. It’s so intriguing to me. Why did someone decide it was a good idea to pick a vegetable flower, stuff it and fry it? I have no idea. I needed to find out. And I am here to tell you that the crazy person who thought of this idea is a genius.

This was so simple to make. I stuffed the blossoms with cheese. Once you have washed the outside of the blossoms, carefully open the blossoms and stuff the cheese inside. Make sure they aren’t too full because you will need to twist the ends so the cheese stays inside. In preparation to frying the blossoms, you will need to dip each blossom in egg, then flour and finally in bread crumbs. After, fry on both sides and devour! It’s easiest to hold the flower by the stem and eat the blossom.

This is definitely out of the box, but I am positive you will enjoy it with no questions asked. I mean, it’s fried, obviously it will be good!

 

 

 

 

To the Farmers Market We Go.

It’s official. I need to live in a warm climate so I can go to the Farmers Market year round. Today I went to the Cherry Creek Farmers Market and was bombarded by vibrant vegetables, pastries, berries, food truck vendors, hatch chiles and so much more. Downside, it was very crowded. I went around 10 a.m., so word to the wise, go as early as you can!

When I was leaving the market, I realized almost everything I was leaving with could be fried. I guess that’s the southern girl in me. Here is a peak of what I walked away with and what’s to come…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dessert Pizza…is there any other kind?

Seriously, two words: dessert pizza. Oh so delicious. Fruit and nutella. What a combo. It’s the perfect way to get your chocolate fix while using summer foods. Strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and mint are at their prime. So why not take advantage of them and indulge in a non-traditional dessert.

This is how you do it:

I bought fresh pizza dough and rolled it out into small circles. Then I put nutella on top. In another bowl I had cut up strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and mint. The berries has been marinating in sugar and lime juice. I preheated the oven to 350° and put the pizzas in for about 15-20 minutes.

This is a fun, personalized and delicious dessert. I would recommend it for a night in or a dinner party. Everyone loves pizza, fruit and chocolate. What more could you ask for?

 

Lemon Tart with Rosemary Crust.

The other night I was in the mood to bake. Since I graciously received my kitchen aid mixer I have only used it a couple of times. I needed to use it. I wanted to use it. Since it’s summer I wanted to bake something citrusy and fresh tasting. I found this lemon tart on Happyolks. Instantly I decided it was what I had been searching for. It was such a simple recipe and so easy to follow. The rosemary and lemon went together so well. This is a very sweet tart. A small slice is all I could handle. The recipe called for the zest of a lemon. I realized I did not have a zester. After moving into my apartment I am finding I do not have a lot of gadgets I need. Anyway, since I did not have a zester I decided to use my vegetable peeler and put chunks of zest into the filling of the tart. It was just as delicious in my opinion and it gave the tart some texture.

I would highly recommend this tart. It’s light, citrusy and oh so delicious.

This is how you do it:

Lemon Tart with Rosemary Crust

for the crust

  • 1 1/3 cup spelt flour
  • 3 tablespoons cane sugar (I used regular sugar)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup cold butter, cubed
  • 1-2 tablespoon ice water

for the filling

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup cane sugar (I used regular sugar)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest (I used lemon shavings)

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Lightly butter a 9-inch tart pan and set aside.

Place the flour, sugar, rosemary, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times. Add the butter and pulse until little pea sized bits start to form. Add in the ice water, starting with just 1 tablespoon. Pulse a few more times, then check the dough to see if it holds together when pressed between your fingers. If not, add the 2nd tablespoon. The dough may still seem crumbly, but as long as it holds together when pressed it will be perfect.

Dump the dough out into the prepared tart pan. Starting from the center, work your way out to the sides by pressing the dough firmly into the pan. Make sure you press it up along the sides evenly. Pierce the bottom with a fork a few times and place in the oven to bake for about 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for at least 5 minutes before filling.

Meanwhile prepare the filling. Place the yogurt and sugar in a bowl and whisk until thoroughly combined. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, then add the lemon juice and zest. Whisk until smooth and everything is evenly combined.

Pour the filling into the crust and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until the center is set and only slightly jiggles when shaken lightly.

Allow to cool completely then place in the fridge to chill for at least 1 hour before serving. Tart can be made the day before and kept covered and chilled in the fridge.

Fried Egg Sandwich with Pancetta and Blue Cheese

A couple of posts ago I talked about my recent “egg kick”. Well, Smitten Kitchen is not helping me get off this egg kick. Once I saw her recipe for this fried egg sandwich I had to make it. This sandwich was extremely filling. I would recommend making them when you know you will be really hungry (or if you are eating with someone who could finish the rest for you… most likely a man).

Instead of bacon, I used pancetta. Since pancetta is in the shape of a circle, it just made more sense to me. Plus, it’s delicious. I also substituted frisée for arugula. This is only because I could not find frisée at the store, but the arugula was great on the sandwich. It added a little more pepper and spice to it. I would recommend this sandwich for any meal. Enjoy!

This is how you do it:

Makes 2 sandwiches

2 ciabatta rolls

1 1/2 cups frisée (French curly endive), torn into-bite size pieces (I used arugula)
1 bacon slice, preferably thick-cut (I used pancetta)
1 tablespoon minced shallot (from 1 small)
1 teaspoon smooth Dijon mustard
4 teaspoons red wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese

1 to 2 teaspoons unsalted butter, divided
2 large eggs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Split your rolls and put them in to toast.

Place frisée (or arugula) in a medium bowl. Cut bacon (or put pancetta in pan) crosswise into 1/4-inch wide lardons. In a small heavy skillet, cook bacon over moderate heat, until pieces are crisp. With a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels, reserving bacon fat in pan. Add shallot to bacon fat and cook for one minute, stirring. Add red wine vinegar and let hiss and bubble for 20 to 30 seconds, then remove from heat and whisk in Dijon. Immediately pour hot dressing over frisée and toss with drained lardons, salt and pepper. Don’t try the salad just yet or you will be tempted to eat it just the way it is when, I promise, it’s even better with an egg on top.

Toast the buns in the same skillet you cooked the pancetta in and divide frisee salad between each bottom bun. You’ll want to heap on more than seems feasible or needed, especially once you realize how tasty it is. Top each salad pile with half (2 tablespoons) of the blue cheese.

Reheat skillet over medium-high heat. Add the butter and swirl it to coat the pan. Crack one egg into the skillet, season with salt and pepper and reduce heat to medium. I like my fried egg to be cooked on both sides, but still have the yolk runny in the middle. This way the yolk is less likely to break when I put the sandwich together.

Remove the egg from the pan and place it on top of the bacon-frisée salad on the bun. Repeat with remaining egg. A perfect egg sandwich!

Roasted Cabbage.

What better place to blog than the airport? And that’s exactly what I am doing right now. DIA, coffee, breakfast, terminal C and my computer. I am on my way to San Antonio for one of my best friends wedding. I have been pretty  busy lately. Blogging from the airport has been on my agenda. So, here I am.

I found this recipe for roasted cabbage form Martha Stewart. It’s pretty genius. Who would have ever thought to cut cabbage up into wedges and roast it. I wish I would have thought of it first. This is a perfect alternative for a side dish or appetizer. It doesn’t take long to make and it’s satisfying. I was wondering how much flavor it would have. It actually has a lot of flavor. It’s not dull or tasteless at all. If you are a vegetarian, this would be a perfect vegetable to eat.

This is how you do it:

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 more tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium head green cabbage, cut into 1-inch-thick rounds
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon caraway or fennel seeds (This is what makes it so good!)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush a rimmed baking sheet with 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil. Place 1 medium head green cabbage, cut into 1-inch-thick rounds, in a single layer on sheet and brush with 2 tablespoons oil. Season with coarse salt and ground pepper and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon caraway or fennel seeds. Roast until cabbage is tender and edges are golden, 40 to 45 minutes.

Grilled Corn Salad with Cilantro Vinaigrette.

It’s a good thing I like to cook. I’m at the point where I can no longer not contribute to gatherings, even family gatherings. I must contribute now. I’ve always been one to want to contribute, or at least help cook. This Easter I was in charge of a side. I decided to make something light and summery. Grilled corn is definitely a summer staple in my book. So, a grilled corn salad it was. Now, I would love to say I came up with this recipe on my own. Not to say this isn’t the type of recipe I would make anyways, but (as much as I hate to admit it) I found this particular recipe on Pinterest (Authentic Suburban Gourmet).

Everyone loved this salad. It was crisp, light and refreshing. The only thing I would have done differently would have been to add fewer red onions. I found myself tasting onion all day, which isn’t always bad, but not always desirable. I ate on this the rest of the week and it remained just as delicious as the day I made it.

Avocado and Grilled Corn Salad with Cilantro Vinaigrette

5 Ears Corn, husk removed, brush with olive oil and grilled, remove corn with sharp knife
2 Avocado’s, diced and sprinkled with lemon juice to prevent browning
2 C. Tomatoes, red and yellow cherry variety or equivalent
1 Small red onion, finely diced
¾ C. Feta, crumbled
1 ½ C. English cucumber, skin on and chopped small dice

Add to a large bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.

Cilantro Vinaigrette

6 T. Olive oil

2 T. Sherry vinegar
1 t. Garlic powder
2 T. Fresh cilantro, minced
½ t. Salt
10 Grinds of fresh ground pepper

When you are ready to serve, toss the vinaigrette with the salad.

I would like to thank my brother for the amazing pictures. I am very jealous of his new camera. A camera will definitely be my next big purchase!

Baked Eggs.

I’ve recently been on an egg kick. I have never really been an egg person, but recently I am finding I can’t get enough eggs. A couple of weekends ago I decided I wanted to make baked eggs. I’ve also been searching for a reason to use my Le Creuset Cocotte’s. I decided to put one egg in each cocotte and add basil, parmesan and bacon.

I melted butter at the bottom of each cocotte before adding the ingredients. After the butter was melted I took the cocottes out of the oven. I cracked one egg in each. Then I added the chopped basil, bacon and finely grated parmesan. I cooked the bacon almost completely before adding it in the cocotte (I like my bacon crisp to the max!). Add a dash of salt and pepper on the top. I baked the eggs for 10-15 minutes at 375°. The cook time will vary depending on how you like your yolks cooked. I like my yolks a little runny.Once cooked, let the eggs cool a bit and devour!