Thursday, July 21, 2011

Hot Hot Hot....and Cool Curried Chicken Salad

Oh, I love summer-time, and we had a fabulous week at the lake cottage in northern Michigan two weeks ago (below). Blue-sky days, bright sunshine, crystal clear lakes and temps in the high '70s. Add to that, my two (nearly grown) kids and about 25 extended family members (see all the kids second pic below), and you've got a week to remember! Perfection!!!

But then you come back to reality. Squeezed between my vacation and a work trip to New York City, I dealt with a broken cell phone and a cracked windshield (really, your windshield can pop a huge crack if you spray cold water from the hose on it on a steamy, hot day). Post-NYC, I also encountered a garage door totally askew and a broken vacuum cleaner! And in the meantime we're moving Barista into her new apartment before grad school starts.

But yesterday and today, when the Ohio temps inched up to wilting 97 degrees with total humidity (wavy, wavy hair), was Chip's two-day orientation at Ohio State! Totally fun (if a bit unbearably hot), the two days were invigorating for him (Go Bucks!) and he is all scheduled for fall classes. Needless to say, after two days trekking around the largest campus in America in this scorching heat, I did not feel like cooking. So I made a delish curried chicken salad, and enjoyed some down time with my flowers on the patio, below.

The recipe's grilled chicken (indoors, thank you) is mixed with crunchy veggies, sweet grapes, chewy dried cranberries, crunchy almonds and a full-flavored but very simple curried mayo. Check it out:

1.25 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 T olive oil
salt, pepper, garlic salt

1/2 cup light mayonnaise (I used the Hellman's with olive oil)
Juice from 1/2 lime
1/2 to 1 teaspoon curry powder (to your taste)
dash salt

1 stalk celery, diced
1/2 cup green grapes, sliced in half
2 T dried cranberries or dried cherries
1/4 sweet Vidalia onion, chopped
2 T chopped salted, roasted almonds
2 T chopped fresh cilantro

Rub chicken with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic salt. Heat grill pan. Grill chicken until just done. Let cool slightly and dice.

Mix mayo, lime juice and curry powder together. Mix chicken, mayo mixture and all other ingredients, stirring gently. Chill and serve!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Gluten Free Bacon and Date Scones

Barista was home from college last weekend so we decided to tackle something that sounded absolutely fabulous. Something with bacon. Bacon, as you know, is really "in" right now. I've even seen bacon vodka and bacon/maple doughnuts. But this recipe sounded out of this world -- bacon and date scones! Scones -- could we make them gluten free??? Yes! We could and we did and they were fantastic, even to my children who don't have to shun gluten. Here's what we did:

Gluten Free Bacon and Date Scones

6 slices thick cut bacon

2 cups gluten free flour blend (I used Gluten Free Pantry)

½ cup sugar

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

¾ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon coarse sea salt

¾ cup coarsely chopped, pitted dates

½ cup (1 stick) chilled butter

2/3 cup buttermilk

coarse sugar

Cook bacon until crisp, drain on paper towels and crumble. Pour bacon drippings into small bowl and reserve. Stir together flour, ½ cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Add bacon and dates and mix slightly. Stir in butter with a fork. Add buttermilk, using a wooden spoon or hands to slightly incorporate (do not mix thoroughly). Pat dough into n 8-inch round on cookie sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Cut into 8 wedges. Chill 2 hours. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush scones with 1 T of bacon fat and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake until golden brown, 16-18 min. Serve warm or at room temp.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

C'mon Spring!

There was ice on my little pond this morning. ICE! It's March 26th for goodness sake. I want sunshine. Green plants! Flowers! Flip-flops, not boots! I want my pond to look like the picture above, not a tiny ice-skating rink.

But Barista is home for "spring" break, so we've had fun, despite the dreary and oh-so-cold Ohio weather. She is deciding between two (yeah!) grad programs at Ohio State next fall so we've been doing a lot of talking about the programs so she can make her choice by the April 15 deadline. (Not such a bad problem to be forced to choose between two great options at OSU, mind you!)

Tonight we're going to dinner at some friends' house in Grandview. Barista would like to find an apartment in the quaint area and they may have some good advice. . . plus they're fun to be with! I offered to bring some gluten free appetizers, and have landed on the idea of a tray of three "small" offerings -- bacon-wrapped, almond stuffed dates; crab dip with GF crackers, and large, green olives. Recipes are below.

Bacon-wrapped stuffed dates
Cream cheese (may be light), cut into 18 (1/2 by 1/4-inch) pieces
18 pitted dates
18 salted and roasted almonds
6 slices bacon cut crosswise into thirds

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Stuff 1 piece of cheese and 1 almond into each date, then wrap one piece of bacon around each date and secure with a toothpick. Arrange dates, bacon seam down on a shallow baking pan.

Bake 5 minutes, then turn dates over and bake until bacon is crisp, 5 to 6 minutes more. Drain on a paper towel. Serve immediately or at room temp. (Note: mine took much longer than this for the bacon to get crisp!)

Crab Dip

1 (12-ounce) container whipped cream cheese, at room temperature

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 lemon, juiced

2 teaspoons white wine

Dash Frank's hot sauce

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Freshly ground pepper

1 (6-ounce) can crabmeat

2 tablespoons minced fresh chives, plus more for garnish

In a medium bowl, mix together the cream cheese, mayonnaise, Worcestershire, lemon juice, wine, hot sauce, salt, and pepper. Fold in the crabmeat and chives. Top with additional chives. Serve with crackers and veggies.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Happy Spring and Gluten-Free Asian Chicken Meatballs

Hooray, it's the first day of Spring! When my kids were little, we would talk about the Spring Equinox and how legend has it, you can balance an egg on its end. Then, we'd go outside and try it on the sidewalk. It actually worked! (Or was that the little indentation in the sidewalk that helped?)

Yesterday was gorgeous and I did one of my favorite spring tasks -- burning sticks. Nothing like picking up all the twigs and sticks in the still-muddy backyard, throwing them in the firepit and lighting a nice, afternoon blaze. What says spring like that, huh? Last night, though, brought an absolutely stunning full moon -- the largest full moon in almost 20 years. There is a scientific explanation (and name) for this but I can't remember what it is. But, on a crystal-clear Ohio night, oh, that moon was breathtaking!

For dinner last night, I wanted something low-carb, healthy and totally tasty that even 18-year-old Chip would like. These Asian chicken meatballs with ponzu sauce were just the ticket. They would make a great appetizer or light dinner.

Gluten Free Asian Chicken Meatballs with Ponzu Sauce

1/3 cup gluten free cornflake crumbs
1/3 cup gluten free brown rice breadcrumbs
1/3 cup flaked sweetened coconut (don't leave out!)
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons Asian chili sauce with garlic
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 pound ground chicken
1 egg white

1/4 cup gluten free soy sauce
2 tablespoons minced cilantro
1 tablespoon chopped green onions
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon white wine
1 teaspoon sugar
dash hot sauce (ie Frank's)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine all meatball ingredients in large bowl. Shape into 1 1/2 inch meatballs. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add 8 meatballs to pan and cook for 6 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove meatballs and arrange on cookie sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Repeate with remaining meatballs. Bake meatballs for 7-10 min or until done.

For sauce, combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Serve with meatballs. (Note: meatballs are great wrapped in a boston lettuce leaf, drizzled with sauce and eaten like a taco, or even better, served over white rice that has been adorned with some cilantro and a squeeze of fresh lime juice.)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Gluten Free Shrimp Etouffee and Hocking Hills, Ohio

Oh, winter, when will you head out and leave a balmy, green spring in your wake? Oh well, what can we do while we wait out Ohio's icy season? For me and my friends, at least one winter weekend means heading down to Hocking Hills in southern Ohio and renting a big log house, hiking, cooking, playing board games, sitting in the hot tub....and cooking! This year, though our numbers were smaller due to some winter illnesses that cropped up and unavoidable conflicts, we still managed to enjoy a lovely weekend and a short trek to Old Man's Cave (above). (Check out my cool boots that I got at a garage sale last summer -- real fur!) We would have hiked more extensively but a pesky ice storm two days before covered the trails with a good 2 inches of ice. Luckily Stu and Maryanne were ready w/ ski poles that had sharp ice picks on the ends! (Check out the frozen waterfall below. For a sense of how massive the icicles above and the whatever-you-call-the-frozen-ice-structure in the pool, note the size of the people hiking to the left.)

Back at the ranch, I made a tummy-warming shrimp etouffee. This was kinda based on a recipe from Emeril that I changed massively. And it was easy to cart down to the cabin -- I made the base the morning we left, and then simply put it all together in a big soup pot at the cabin. Add a blazing fire in the fireplace, a few glasses of red wine (or maybe an ale), and a little KD Lang on the CD player, and you've got a fabulous winter afternoon w/ friends!

Gluten Free Shrimp Etouffee a la Hocking Hills

5 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup gluten free flour
1 cup chopped onion
2 green peppers, chopped
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 can diced tomatoes with chiles (Rotel)
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspooon oregano
2 dashes Frank's Hot Sauce
1 quart chicken broth

3 pounds raw shrimp, shelled and deveined
4 chicken Andouille sausages, fully cooked, sliced and browned in a saute pan
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Freshly cooked white rice

Melt butter in large pot over medium heat. Add GF flour and stir to make a roux. Cook roux for 5-7 min. Add onions, bell peppers, garlic and cook for 10 min. Add tomaatores, bay lweaves, cayeenn and tspoices. Whisk in the chicken broth. Bring to boil and simmer for 45 min. (Can be made ahead. Cool, and cart to the cabin with the other ingredients).

At the cabin, heat up the sauce. Add the shrimp and sausage and cook until shrimp are pink and cooked through. Add chopped parsley. Serve in bowls topped with a big spoonful of freshly cooked white rice.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Late Summer in the Garden and Peach Tart

I never want to wish summer away, because I love so much about these sultry, sunny days, with brilliant flowers in bloom (top) and friendly green visitors in the pond (above). Plus I remember oh too well, the frigid white Ohio winter expanses of ice and snow, when I would longingly look out at my patio and remember summer days, watching the fish in the pond, the sun on the flowers, the doggie (Rio, below) at my feet. It has been, however, an incredibly hot and humid season, and I'm happily thinking welcome thoughts of fall. Autumn has, actually, always been my favorite. Crisp, clear days. Blue skies. Brilliant reds and oranges and yellows. The crunch of leaves underfoot. Fires in the firepit. Football. New theatre season. Bubbling soups on the stove.

And I'm suddenly seeing signs of a changing season everywhere. The sweet corn is not quite so good. Fields of corn and soybeans are slowly turning yellow. My morning glories are this close to blooming (finally). Black walnuts are dropping off my neighbor's tree (onto my roof in the middle of the night, ker-plunk). Mums are breaking out in bloom. The stars look brighter. Boys are donning cleats and pads and heading out on the football field. And all you see are "back to school" sales everywhere.

But last night Barista and Chip and I celebrated the end of summer with two fabulous things -- summer pasta (see previous post for recipe) which I made with some amazing yellow heirloom tomatoes (soooo good!) and an Ohio peach tart with a gluten-free sugar cookie crust. Hooo baby, it was great. We gobbled it all up and then went to see an old favorite band (that I grew up with in the '70s) outdoors called McGuffey Lane. Pretty nice late summer day if I do say so!

Here's the tart recipe:

Peach Tart with Gluten Free Sugar Cookie Crust

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cup gluten free flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

Cream butter and sugar together. Add egg and vanilla and blend well. Add flour and salt. Form into a disk, wrap in waxed paper and chill in fridge for at least a half hour. Remove, roll out between sheets of waxed paper, about 1/4 inch thick. Place dough in glass 9-inch pie plate.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake dough for 10-12 minutes until beginning to set.

Meanwhile, boil a pot of water. Plop 3-4 fresh Ohio peaches in water for 30 seconds or so. Remove with slotted spoon and slip skins off the peaches.

Slice peaches. Toss with 2 tablespoons sugar, a squirt of fresh lemon juice, and a dash of cinnamon and dash of nutmeg.

When dough is beginning to set, remove from oven. Pour peaches into crust. Return to oven for 15-20 minutes or until crust is golden and completely cooked, and peaches are bubbling. Remove from oven. Let cool slightly. Serve with vanilla frozen yogurt.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Picture Day and Salmon Tacos

Take one gorgeous late-summer day (with much lower humidity thank you very much) and add to it dozens of strapping young men in their new football uniforms, and you have a picture-perfect combo. Today was "photo day" for the football team -- they're looking really tough, above, and a little more relaxed below. I was fortunate enough to be able to pop out of work for an hour to take a few photos for facebooking and blogging. . . and ultimately scrapbooking. Hear me loud and clear, I am not a scrapbooker. I find even the rows and rows of scrap-b supplies in stores to be annoying. But I've decided to create a simple scrapbook for Chip's senior year of high school, so I'm already starting to collect stuff to put in it. (This is primarily fueled by guilt for not creating some sort of memory book tracking his entire high school career.) Oh well.

After such an exhausting afternoon, Barista and I made a simple but incredibly good dinner -- grilled salmon tacos. Using a "grill pan" -- a pan with holes in it that you place on top of your charcoal grill -- you quickly grill spice-rubbed salmon, red and green peppers and onions, and nestle them in charred corn tortillas.

Gluten Free Grilled Salmon Tacos

1 salmon fillet, skin removed, sliced into 1 x 3 inch pieces
1/2 green pepper, sliced
1/2 red pepper, sliced
1/2 onion sliced

1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin
Dash of garlic salt
Dash of lemon pepper
2 teaspoons brown sugar
drizzle of balsamic vinegar and olive oil

4 corn tortillas, each drizzled with a little bit of olive oil
Fresh salsa and sour cream

Place salmon and vegetables in shallow dish. Sprinkle with spices and brown sugar; drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Let marinate in fridge for 1/2 hour or so.

Prepare charcoal grill. When coals are hot, place grill pan (sprayed with Pam) on grill. Add salmon mixture. Stir fry salmon over coals until fish is cooked and peppers and onions are slightly charred. Remove to platter.

Remove grill pan. Place corn tortillas directly on hot grill. When beginning to char, flip and heat the other side. Remove.

Fill tortillas with the salmon mixture. Top with fresh salsa and sour cream if desired.