Thursday, February 25, 2010

Kicked Up Tuna Melts

Is there something in your life that comes up seemingly out of the blue, but strangely happens every year?  Ash Wednesday is like that for me.  I know, there’s really no excuse, but I'm surprised every year.  Why the problem?  Well, my meal plan the Sunday before Ash Wednesday usually looks something like this: Monday, Macaroni and Cheese; Tuesday, Tortilla Soup; Wednesday, Beef Tacos; Thursday, Chinese Chicken; Friday, Pork Chops.  About midway through dinner on Tuesday night, I realize the next day is Ash Wednesday, and we have already consumed the two meatless meals I had planned for the week.  Scrambling ensues.  I throw the meat I had planned to serve in the freezer, and then I have to come up with something else, something meatless to serve on Wednesday and Friday.

These Kicked Up Tuna Melts usually do the trick for a quick Lenten meal.  The tuna is light with only a little bit of mayonnaise and bright with the olives, capers and lemon juice.  The provolone melts beautifully over the sandwich, and pairs nicely with the tuna.  But as much as my family enjoys them, I can’t serve them every Friday. 

So, I struggle to come up with quick healthy and meatless (but not necessarily fishless) meals during Lent.  If you have any suggestions, please let me know.  I would appreciate your input!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Lemon Thyme Tapenade

Last weekend was busy and fun with a trip to San Francisco to see Fiddler on the Roof, and a long ride in the new truck, but the highlight of the weekend was getting together with friends over at Beth and Scott’s.  We were really lucky meeting this group of friends through our son’s class at school.  I love getting together with them, because no matter where we meet, we all share the cooking duties, and these friends are all great cooks.  I always come away with something I want to make myself, like Scott’s chicken and Brian’s brisket.  And, last Saturday was no different.  Beth brought out a tapenade she served over fresh goat cheese.  I couldn’t get enough of it.  I probably ate too much, but I enjoyed every bite.  Beth told me how she made it, but didn’t give me any ratios or measurements.  I have recreated her tapenade to the best of my recollection here, and I think it tasted just like Beth’s.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Grilled Artichokes with Red Pepper Aioli

Sunday afternoon, I was riding along the coast in my husband’s shiny new red truck (perfect wouldn’t you say for Valentine’s Day?).  The sun was shining brightly, and I could almost pretend it was spring.  I could, that is, until I looked over to see the ocean absolutely churning.  The waves hitting the rocks with angry strength were from a storm system that passed through the day before.  The ocean was beautiful to watch as we drove along.  With the sunroof and windows open, we continued our drive through the Santa Cruz Mountains.  I could almost taste spring in the wind blowing through my hair.  I know our rainy weather doesn’t compare with the snow and ice in some areas of the country, but I’m tired of winter and I’m ready for spring.

When we arrived home I tasted spring again when I made these Grilled Artichokes with Red Pepper Aioli.   These beautiful artichokes were “local” according to their sign at the market. I chose to ignore my husband who suggested there might a Chilean town named “Local.”   These artichokes were delicious, and my whole family enjoyed them.  My son had his with plain mayonnaise, but my daughter, husband and I had ours with the Red Pepper Aioli.   I recommend you have a loaf of good bread on hand when you make these artichokes, because you’re going to want something to soak up the leftover aioli. 
Grilled Artichokes
4 Large Artichokes, ends trimmed
3 sprigs fresh thyme
freshly squeezed juice from 1 lemon
Kosher salt
1 tablespoon olive oil

Fill a large pot with water and add the artichokes, thyme, lemon juice, and 2 teaspoons kosher salt.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Boil the artichokes for about 20 minutes or until barely soft.  Drain artichokes and set-aside until cool enough to handle.  Cut the artichokes in half, and remove the choke with a spoon.  Brush the artichokes with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Heat a gas or charcoal grill to medium high.  Place the artichokes cut side down on the grill and cook for 5 minutes and then turn over, and cook the artichokes for another 5 to 10 minutes or until the flesh gives easily when pierced with a fork.  Serve the artichokes warm with the red pepper aioli.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Happy Fat Tuesday!

My son’s 4th grade class didn’t celebrate St. Valentine’s Day this year.  Instead, they are going to have a Mardi Gras feast today.  He is supposed to bring finger food, so I cut up the required salami and cheese, but we also made a King Cake for his class celebration.  My son was excited to help me make the cake, and he really enjoyed decorating it, but he was disappointed I didn’t bake a baby in the cake.  I didn’t want some kid choking on a plastic baby inside his or her piece of cake. 

I found this recipe on the Southern Living website.  This was an easy recipe to follow, and I like how it made two cakes.  My daughter wouldn't have been happy if my son had taken the only King Cake to school, so the two cakes saved me from having to double the recipe.  This King Cake is basically a cinnamon roll cake with icing and sprinkles, and we all liked the cake.  We’ll see how my son’s 4th grade class likes it!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Orange French Toast

My family loves breakfast.  Pancakes are my kids’ favorite for breakfast, although my daughter recently began making omelets for herself.  If he could have anything, Les would probably choose Eggs Benedict.  Me?  I would choose French toast every time.  And, Orange French Toast is my particular favorite. 

As a kid, I didn’t like syrup, so French toast with a light dusting of powdered sugar was perfect for me.  My mom just used whatever bread we had on hand, but I loved French toast anyway.  Now, when I make it for my family, I use thicker bread so it can soak up more of the egg mixture.  I also add a hint of orange, and I love the light citrus flavor in this custardy French toast.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Toffee Crunch Cookie Brittle

I have a new favorite cookie.  I didn’t start my weekend looking for a new favorite cookie.  I hadn’t even planned to make cookies, but a few days earlier, my son asked me why we didn’t have cookies in the house.  I told him we didn’t have cookies, because he hadn’t made any cookies.  He looked at me and said, “But I don’t know how to make cookies!”  Obviously, I needed to rectify that situation.  I promised him we would make cookies over the weekend. 

Friday, February 5, 2010

Carne Asada Tacos

As I’m typing this post, I am sitting here watching a recording of the season opener of Lost.  Have you been keeping up with Lost?  I’ve watched Lost on and off since the beginning, and I have to tell you, I’m not certain all of the loose strings are going to be tied up by the end of this final season. I guess I’ll have to wait to find out.  My husband wanted to have a Lost party last weekend, but we (read me) couldn’t pull it together in time, so we will just have to be content with the Super Bowl party we are going to on Sunday.

What does Lost have to do with Carne Asada Tacos?  Nothing really, but I do think they would have been perfect at our Lost party, or since we didn’t have one, for a Super Bowl party.  They are quick and easy, and taste great.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Tequila Lime Chicken Wings with Lime Cilantro Dipping Sauce

As a kid, I never liked the dark meat of chicken or turkey.  Thanksgiving would roll around, and my sister would happily gnaw on the succulent dark meat of a turkey leg, while on my plate were slices of turkey breast in all their dried glory.  I was as happy with my choice as my sister was with hers, but that was before I tried Buffalo wings.  Once I tried these spicy wings, I was converted to dark meat instantly, and I never looked back.  Sure, I still eat white meat chicken, but I love nothing more than a plate full of chicken wings.

I tried a recipe for Guy Fieri’s wings last year for Super Bowl, and they were a big hit.  So, when I saw his new wings in the current Food Network Magazine, I knew I needed to try them.  The Tequila Lime Chicken Wings are more flavorful than most other wings I’ve tried, because you put the marinade on the wings after they bake.  I was dubious at first, but after I tasted the tangy and spicy wings, I was convinced.


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