Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Quinoa Salad for Melissa

Last week I hosted a bridal shower for my daughter Melissa.  I made the decision to have the party at my home for a few reasons.  If Melissa had her way, she would be getting married in our backyard...The yard where she napped in the shade of the maple tree as a wee little baby...The yard where she spent countless hours on her beloved swing trying to touch the sky with her toes and swinging upside down from the trapeze...The yard where she and the neighborhood kids played red light green light, caught fireflies and splashed in the pool...The yard where she had her Sweet 16 and discovered that the four person hot tub could really hold ten.  But a wedding?  I can't make that happen, but a shower on the other hand, I could handle.

I also knew that Melissa would appreciate a mostly vegetarian menu that I could create, keeping her likes and dislikes in mind.  I was right.  I'm not going to lie, it was a lot of work and thank God for my good friend Barbara whose help was invaluable.  I owe her big-time.  This was truly a labor of love and I enjoyed every minute of it.  I wish I had taken photos of the process, but I knew that playing photographer would slow me down.  Everything was homemade with the exception of the rolls, which were purchased at a local bakery and the mini cupcakes, courtesy of Mike's mom Diane.  In the end, it was all worth it.  It turned out to be a beautiful day and Melissa has yet another backyard memory.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Zucchini, Bacon and Gruyere Quiche or Zucchini Explosion Part lll

Are you tired of zucchini yet?  Yes, like everyone else who has a vegetable garden, we've been eating a whole lot of zucchini.  When zucchini isn't the star of the meal, we've been eating the obvious side dishes: grilled zucchini, sautéed zucchini, zucchini with tomatoes sprinkled with a little feta cheese and on and on and on....
So the other night when Paul said, "I don't think we have anything in the house for dinner."  
I quickly replied, "Are you kidding, we have zucchini!"......  I thought I heard a groan.
I poked my head in the fridge and saw we really didn't have much in the house.  There was a small piece of Gruyere, eggs, milk, a little bit of cream, a few strips of bacon, some berries, salad greens, cucumbers, and two bottles of Guinness that have been hiding in the back for several months.  I opened my freezer drawer and saw a pie crust from...I don't know when.  Looks like we are having quiche.  Having a pie crust in the freezer made it a no brainer.   Although I would usually prefer to make my own crust, it was a warm humid night and even with the AC on, it wasn't the best of conditions to start messing with pie dough.  We were hungry, not picky.  It was already 6pm, so I defrosted the frozen dough in the microwave, grabbed the Gruyere, eggs, milk, cream, bacon and a few shallots I found hiding in my onion basket.  By 7:15 we were enjoying a piece of silky quiche, green salad and glass of Pinot Noir.  Not bad for having nothing in the house!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Zucchini Fritters with Chipotle Cream or Zucchini Explosion Part II

Last year, when I was drowning in zucchini, I tried making zucchini fritters.  I wasn't overly impressed with them.  I tried my hand at them twice.  The second time I added a little grated potato for body.  It was a slight improvement, but not blog worthy.  I've been thinking about those fritters...and then it came to me.  While I was searching for different appetizers from my favorite bloggers, I came across cornmeal cakes on Annie's Eats.  Cornmeal, that's it!  Cornmeal would be the perfect ingredient to give my fritters enough body without being bland.  Annie's recipe inspired me to try again.  This time, in my humble opinion,  I came up with a blog worthy recipe.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Zucchini Explosion!

Zucchini has taken over my garden.  We've had a bounty of zucchini over the past few weeks.  Several days ago, I checked on my garden before I left for work.  I eyed several young zucchini, and decided they needed another day to grow and planned to harvest them the following morning.  The following day came along with torrential rain, so I never made it out to the garden.  The day after that was hot and steamy.  I was running late that morning and didn't get a chance to check on the zucchini until I got home from work later that evening. To my horror...my zucchini turned into 10 inch monsters that resembled stubby baseball bats.  I'm guessing the rain and the intense heat accelerated their growth and left me with these monsters.  I know some people intentionally let their zucchini grow like watermelons, I'm just not one of those people.  Bloated zucchini tend to become seedy and flavorless.  It was depressing.  Never-the-less, I made the best of it.  I picked about a dozen of  the oversized beasts.  As I picked, I thought about all the things I would not be able to do with them.  One thing for sure, I could stuff them.  The other thing I could do, was give some away along with this recipe!

Don't be afraid to use what you have on hand.  You can add mushrooms or diced summer squash.  Make them meatless and add some cooked rice or quinoa.  The possibilities are endless.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Chocolate Raspberry Maryann Cake

This cake is dangerously delicious.  Consider yourself warned.  It's a match made in heaven, dark chocolate and raspberry, definitely rich, but not too sweet.  It was the perfect cake to celebrate the engagement of my daughter Melissa and my soon to be son-in-law, Mike, another match made in heaven.  Let me digress for a moment.  You may have noticed that I've neglected my blog for a while.  It's not that I haven't wanted to blog, I've just been busy.  Last month Paul and I headed west and toured the Grand Canyon, Bryce and Zion National Parks, Monument Valley and Lake Powell.  We had a fantastic time and when we returned home, I intended to sort though my 2000 new photos, do some inspired cooking and blog about some wonderful southwestern food.  But you can see by the large gap since my last posting, that never happened.
A few days after we returned home, Melissa and Mike announced their engagement.  Not only did they announce their engagement, but they also announced that the did not want a long engagement and planned to get married this September.  Yes, I said THIS SEPTEMBER...time to kick it in gear.  They are young, they are in love, and they have energy.  They will make this happen even if it kills them!  All wedding craziness aside, I couldn't be happier for them.  Melissa found her soulmate and we are so pleased to welcome Mike into our family.  They complement each other...just like chocolate and raspberry.
Saturday night, Mike's mother hosted a dinner in celebration of Mike and Melissa's engagement.  My job was to bring dessert.  After much consideration I decided to make a Chocolate Raspberry Maryann Cake and this tart.  If you are not familiar with a Maryann pan, take a look at it here.   I've read that Crate and Barrel also carries them.  It's sort of an old fashioned cake pan, so maybe your grandma has one buried in the cupboard.