Iron Skillet Peach Cobbler

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Alright, this was one of the easiest desserts I’ve ever made…and probably one of the best. I like when that happens. So here is my quick solution to the evening dessert craving (made for two), hope you like it!

Iron Skillet Peach Cobbler:

Peach Cobbler

– 2 Cups Frozen Peaches (if fresh are not available). You can also substitute almost any other kind of fruit. Apples are great!

– 1/2 Cup Granola (I used Nature’s Path, Ancient Grains)

– 2 tbs. Vanilla Extract (I like to use a lot, scale to your liking)

– Whipped Cream Cheese (or Greek yogurt)

– Honey

– Sliced Almonds

– Coconut Oil

1. Heat one tsp. coconut oil in a cast iron skillet and add peaches & vanilla. Cook until warmed through (takes a little longer if you’re using frozen).

2. Add granola and heat for a couple more minutes.

3. Sprinkle sliced almonds, add a dollop of cream cheese, and drizzle some honey over the peaches & granola.

4. Serve warm in the skillet and be sure to share! Contrary to popular belief, I am able to share food…occasionally. 😉

Enjoy!!

See…it was good!

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Scallop & Spinach Salad

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I love cooking dishes that incorporate “special” ingredients, and most of all, I love recipes that are quick and easy (who doesn’t?).   This salad was so good, and it was ready in just a matter of minutes!  You have to try this one.

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– 1 lb Fresh Scallops

– Spinach

– Cherry tomatoes: halved

– Sweet Corn: cut fresh from the cob

– Green Onions: sliced

– Cilantro: chopped

– Fresh Garlic: 2-3 cloves chopped

– Olive Oil

– Fresh Ground Pepper

– Lemon Juice

– Apple Cider Vinegar

– Avocado: sliced

1.  Rinse scallops and pat dry.  Toss with olive oil and season with ground pepper.

2.  Make your dressing by combining a couple tablespoons of olive oil, one tablespoon of ACV, one tablespoon of lemon juice and fresh ground pepper.  Toss the spinach in the dressing until evenly coated.  Set aside.

3.  To a pan, add a tablespoon of olive oil, fresh garlic, and green onions.  Turn on the heat to medium and cook for a couple minutes.

4.  Add scallops and sear, cooking for about 4-5 minutes on each side or until they are a light golden color.

5.  Plate your salad and add corn, tomatoes, cilantro and fresh green onions.

6.  Arrange the scallops on top of the salad and add a few slices of avocado.

Enjoy!

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Monday Awesome Pasta

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Monday was a long day this week, and I was seriously contemplating the option of ordering take-out after work (super greasy Chinese seemed like the perfect ending to a busy day).  However, a sudden burst of creativity and the need to unwind in front of the stove (cooking relaxes me, I know I’m weird) made me think otherwise.  I made this within a half hour and it was sooooo worth the extra effort:

Steak & Mushroom Pasta

Steak & Mushroom Pasta

– 1 to 1-1/2 lb Flank Steak

– 2 Cups Mushrooms: Sliced

– 3 Cups Arugula

– 1 Cup Cherry Tomatoes: Halved

– 1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese

– One Package of Rice Pasta (Or regular pasta)

-1/2 to 1 Cup Cup Water

– Olive Oil

– Pepper

1. Bring water to boil and cook pasta.  Drain and set pot aside.

2. Add a few tablespoons of olive oil to a frying pan.  Turn on heat to medium and let the pan heat up.  Cut the flank steak in half (I got mine from Trader Joe’s and the whole thing won’t fit in a regular pan- you may have to add extra olive oil after the first cut is cooked).  Cook each cut of meat seasoning with a little pepper until each is cooked to your liking (I seared them for a few minutes on either side).  Set aside and cover.

3.  Keeping the pan juices from the steak, add the water a little at a time, stir and simmer.  Add the cheese and stir.  Turn the heat down and add mushrooms to the sauce.  Saute for a few minutes and then turn off the heat.

4.  Slice the steak thinly and add to the pasta.

5.  Add the mushroom sauce, cherry tomatoes and arugula to the pasta and mix well.

6.  Serve sprinkled with a little extra cheese and enjoy!

Steak & Mushroom Pasta 2

 

A Weekend with Basil

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When life gives you Basil…USE IT IN EVERYTHING!!! That’s just what I did this weekend. Here are some great recipes using this fantastic herb.

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Basil Strawberry Spritz:

– Strawberries: sliced

– 1-2 Tb. Raw Honey

– Fresh Basil: cut into long thin strips (chiffonade)

– Mineral Water

1. Toss strawberries and honey in a bowl. Place in the fridge until you’re ready to use.

2. Add a spoonful or two of strawberries and a few strips of basil to your glass and add mineral water. Mash the ingredients with a muddler…or in my case, a wooden spoon. Enjoy!

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Roasted Red Pepper Pasta

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– 1-1/2 Cup Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup

– 1 Yellow Onion: chopped

– 1 lb. Sausage (I used Mild Italian Chicken Sausage)

– 3 Cloves Garlic: chopped

– 1/2 Cup Sun-Dried Tomatoes: chopped

– Olive Oil

– 1/4 Cup Grated Cheese (I used a smoked cheddar)

– 16oz of Your Favorite Pasta (I used farfalle – bow tie)

– 2 Cups Spinach

– Handful of Fresh Basil: thinly sliced

– Lemon Juice

1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and toss with a little olive oil and lemon juice. Cover and set aside.

2. Add a couple tablespoons of olive oil to a saute pan and brown the sausage for about ten to fifteen minutes over medium to low heat.

3. Remove sausage from pan and add chopped onions. Saute for about five minutes. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and saute for another few minutes.

4. Slice the sausage and return to the pan. Add the soup to the pan and stir. Bring the sauce to a boil and simmer for about five minutes. Add spinach and stir until wilted. Remove from heat.

5. Serve pasta topped with sauce, fresh basil and a sprinkle of grated cheese.

Enjoy!

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Cilantro & Basil Pesto

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– 1 Cup Fresh Basil

– 1 Cup Fresh Cilantro

– 4 Cloves Garlic

– 1 Tb. Apple Cider Vinegar

– 1 tsp. Salt

– 1 tsp. Pepper

– 1 Tb. Lemon Juice

– 1/4 Cup Pine Nuts

– 1/4 Cup Red Onion: diced

– 1/2 Cup Olive Oil (or more if needed)

1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Place in the fridge until ready to use.  I poured the sauce over sliced chicken with a side of quinoa and roasted beets with fresh heirloom tomatoes – with added slices of basil, of course!  Enjoy!

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Cast Iron Skillet Wonderfulness

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Every time I make a trip home, I raid my parents storage room like a scavenger looking for treasure.  I think I’ve found my favorite items thus far: two cast iron skillets!  My father has cooked with these skillets for many years and has now passed them on to me.  Goody goody!  I’ve only cooked steaks on a cast iron grill pan, so I’m really looking forward to expanding my cast iron skillet skills.  They are seasoned with oil and in the oven as I speak…or write.  I’ve been instructed on basic seasoning rules when it comes to cast iron, but if you have any tips, Dos or Don’ts, please pass them along!  I also came across this website for some easy cleaning and maintenance tips:

Real Simple: Cleaning and Seasoning a Cast-Iron Skillet

Whats your favorite dish to make in a cast iron skillet?  Please pass any of those recipes along as well!

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I LOVE Fresh Fruit Pie!

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It’s summer time, and that means fresh and flavorful fruit!  I’ve been piling up blueberries, peaches, nectarines, raspberries and blackberries for breakfast and/or dessert and topping them with a spoonful of raw Heaton Honey (thanks to my dad’s busy backyard bees), chopped pecans and a dash of cinnamon.

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This past weekend I traveled up North to visit my folks and decided to make something special for dessert.  I love pie…so I made pie.  And when I say “love”, I’m not messing around.  Everyone had seconds, so I took that as a “job well done”!  It’s a pretty simple recipe and can be made ahead of time if you’re expecting company.  It would make a beautiful addition to your 4th of July table!

Fresh Fruit Pie

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We’ve got a few steps, so let’s make the crust first.  Since we’re making a fresh fruit pie, we won’t be baking anything more than the crust…yay!  Gather your ingredients:

– 1-1/3 Cups of Flour

– 3 Tb. Water (I like to infuse the water with saffron.  Just add a few pieces of saffron to a bowl with water and let them steep for several minutes while you prep the dough).

– 1/2 Cup Butter: Cold

– 1 tsp. Salt

1.  Mix the flour and salt together.  Cut in the butter and blend with a pastry cutter until the mixture forms small pea-sized lumps.  Add the water.  You may need to add a little more water to keep the dough together.  Add a little at a time until you reach the right consistency (not too sticky, but stickin’ together!).

2.  Form the dough into a ball and place on floured surface.  Roll out the dough and place in a pie pan (I usually use glass, but this time I used a Le Creuset pie dish and I had to bake it just a few more minutes).

3.  Bake at 350° for about ten minutes or until light golden.  Set aside on a baking rack to cool completely.

Now it’s time to make the fillings.  We’ll start with the cream cheese filling.

– 8 oz. Cream Cheese

– 3 Tb. Powdered Sugar

– 3 Tb. Honey

– 1 tsp. Vanilla

1.  Mix all of the ingredients together until smooth.  Set aside at room temperature…it makes it easier to spread onto the crust.

Fruit filling time!

– 6 Ripe Peaches

– 1 Cup any combination of berries (I used blueberries and blackberries).

– 2 Tb. Honey

1.  Peel the peaches and slice into a bowl.  Wash the berries, mix with the peaches, and drizzle with a little honey.  Set aside a few slices of peach some berries (about a quarter cup).  You’ll use these for the sauce…

Fruit Sauce!

– About 1/4 Cup Fruit (set aside from filling and chopped)

– About 1/4 Cup Fruit juice (from filling)

– 2 Tb. Corn Starch

– 1 Tb. Honey

– 2 Tb. Water

1.  Add the water to the corn starch in a small bowl first and then add all of the ingredients into a sauce pan.  Bring to a boil over medium heat.  Boil for a minute and then remove from heat and set aside.

Assemble!

1.  Spread the cream cheese filling over the pie shell (don’t forget the sides!).

2.  Pour the fruit over the cream cheese layer.

3.  Pour the fruit sauce over the fruit, spreading evenly.

4.  Place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Enjoy!!!

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P.S.

You may have noticed this is categorized as a “dessert” and “breakfast”.  Just think of it as a bagel topped with cream cheese and sliced peaches…really.  😉

Mango Edamame Summer “Salsa”

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Here’s a quick and tasty salad for the summer!  I made this little “salsa” as a topping for grilled chicken one night and pan seared salmon another.  Top over a bed of rice or quinoa.  It’s so good and such a great summer dish!

Mango Edamame Summer “Salsa”

Mango Edamame Salsa

– Cherry Tomatoes: sliced in half

– 1 Mango: chopped

– 1/2 Cup Edamamde

– 1/2 Cup Cilantro: chopped

– 1/4 Cup Red Onion: finely chopped

– 1/2 Cup Asparagus: chopped

– Apple Cider Vinegar

–  Olive Oil

– Lime or Lemon

– Salt

1.  Mix all of the fruit and veggies together in a bowl.  Toss with equal parts vinegar and olive oil until coated.  Add a tablespoon of freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice.  Add a dash of salt.

Enjoy!

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You did WHAT with an avocado?!

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So, a few weeks ago I made a cake.  I’ve been wanting to post the recipe, but I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had time to sit down to give you the details (and it’s not even that complicated)!  I have to say, I love Instagram…and I just took a pretty picture and shared it with the world.  But, I’m sorry for teasing you guys and it’s about time that I deliver the recipe.  So, the kicker is that this carrot cake is made with an avocado.  That’s right – an avocado!!  Mind you, I was not trying to find a healthier way of creating this recipe.  Dessert is dessert.  I was just short of butter and needed to improvise.  A quick search on Google for “butter substitute” led me to this twist that I am sure to repeat.   Let me remind you, I’m with Paula Dean as far as my love for butter goes.  But I definitely draw the line at deep frying butter…that’s just going too far.  Here’s what you need:

Easy Carrot Cake with Avocado

Carrot Cake

Cake:

– 2-1/2 Cups Flour

– 1 tsp. Baking Powder

– 1 tsp. Baking Soda

– 2 Tb. Pumpkin Pie Spice Cinnamon – A blend of Cinnamon, Ginger, Lemon Peel, Nutmeg, Cloves and Cardamom (you can always adjust, but I like my Spice!)

– 3/4 tsp. Salt

– 1 Stick of Butter (Can you believe I needed 3?!)

– 1 Ripe Avocado (mashed)

– 1 Cup Brown Sugar

– 1/4 Cup Honey (I like the taste of honey better, so I always substitute some in my baking recipes)

– 3 Large Eggs (room temp)

– 1 Tb. Vanilla Extract

– 1/4 Cup Water

– 3 Cups Shredded Carrots (About 6-8 medium carrots)

Frosting:

– 1 Package Cream Cheese (8oz)

– 1/2 Cup Powdered Sugar

– 1 Tb. Vanilla Extract

– Chopped Pecans or Walnuts

1. Preheat your over to 350° and grease your pans.  I like to use coconut oil and I baked my cake in a 13″x9″ glass pan.  I dusted the pan with flour as well.  It would be much fancier in two 8″ rounds!

2. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices together in a medium bowl.

3. In another bowl, cream the butter, sugar and honey together and then add the avocado.  Add eggs, one at a time and beat well.  Add vanilla and water.

4. Blend the mixture with a hand mixer or an immersion blender (the avocado tends to be a bit chunkier, so I do this to get the mixture smooth).  It WILL be green/brown!  Don’t worry.

5. Mix in the carrots.

6. Add in the flour mixture slowly.

7. Pour the batter into your pan/pans and place in the oven.  Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Completely cool.

8. Make the frosting: Soften the cream cheese and blend in the vanilla extract.  Add powdered sugar, a little at a time, until the mixture is to your liking (about 1/2 cup).  Frost the cooled cake and sprinkle with chopped pecans or walnuts.

Enjoy!

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Loving Leftovers

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I grew up loving leftovers. My mom would cook several meals during the busy week and then towards the end we would have a little smorgasbord of different flavors and cuisines. You can’t go wrong with that! It’s time to get creative with yesterday’s leftovers, and here’s what I did this week.

Steak Salad:

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– Leftover Sliced Beef Roast: Straight out of the fridge and chopped

– Spring Herb Salad Mix

– Cherry Tomatoes

– Golden Raisins

– Pine Nuts

– Red Onion: finely sliced

– Zucchini: grated

– Avocado: cubed

– Salad Dressings (see notes below)

1. Make your salad dressings. I tossed the lettuce in a vinaigrette dressing of 3 Tb. Apple Cider Vinegar, 1 Tb. Lemon Juice, Salt & Pepper, a dash of Trader Joe’s “21 Seasoning Salute”, and 1 Tb. Olive Oil.

2. Heap the dressed lettuce on your plate and top it off with the veggies, raisins and nuts. A sprinkle of goat cheese or nutritional yeast is always a good addition.

3. Top the salad with the steak. I made a second dressing to drizzle over the meat. Mix 1 tsp. ACV with 3 Tb. plain yogurt and add a dash of 21 and a little salt.

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Sweet Potato Cornbread:

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I got this great cornbread recipe from See Girl Cook.  I had leftover mashed sweet potatoes from my salmon cakes earlier this week.  This was the perfect way to make my leftovers great!

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Sunday Supper – Game of Thrones Style

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A lovely Sunday night dinner was inspired by my favorite TV series, GAME OF THRONES!!! Yes, I like it that much. So much, that I followed a few recipes from the series official companion cookbook titled “A Feast of Ice & Fire” by Chelsea Monroe-Cassel and Sariann Lehrer. Check out their blog that showcases the foods from the book: The Inn at the Crossroads.

These two talented ladies share the love of George R. R. Martin’s saga A Song of Ice and Fire and have brought it to life by creating mouthwatering dishes that are sprinkled throughout the series. With tips on how to stock a medieval kitchen, an array of cuisines by Regions, and descriptions on how to feast in style, this cookbook is an extraordinary way to bring the experience of the Seven Kingdoms to life. Now, while most of us don’t stock our kitchens with dragons eggs and live doves, they offer modern day substitutions and cooking techniques to make meals fit for a king.

Here’s what my beau and I made for our Sunday Supper – Game of Thrones Style.

Appetizer: Sweetcorn Fritters (King’s Landing)

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– 2 Tb. Butter

– Pinch of Salt

– Kernels from 2 Ears of Corn

– 1 Egg

– 1/4 Cup Milk

– 1/3 Cup Cornmeal

– 1/3 Cup Flour

– Black Pepper

– Olive Oil

– Melt butter in a pan over medium heat and saute the corn kernels for about 5 minutes. I added some grated zucchini to the corn as well. Sprinkle with salt and set aside.

– In a bowl, whisk together the egg and milk until smooth, then stir in the cornmeal, flour, pepper and corn.

– Heat 2 Tbs. of oil in a pan over medium heat. Drop in 2 tbs of batter at a time (I fit about three fritters in a medium-sized pan at one time – I need room to flip).

– Fry fritters until golden brown on each side, around 5 minutes total. Serve hot.

– I made a dipping sauce of apricot jam, apple cider vinegar, salt and red pepper flakes. You can also pair it with my recipe for Avocado Mayo found here.

Main Course: Aurochs Roasted with Leeks (The North)

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Just a note – An Auroch is the large extinct ancestor of domestic cattle that inhabited Europe, Asia and North Africa. You learn something new everyday! On to the recipe…

– Top Round of Bison or Beef (About 2-3 lbs)

– Leeks: well washed, quartered and chopped into 3″ chunks (I used about 2 large stalks)

– Carrots: Chopped into 3″ chunks (I don’t peel my carrots…buy organic)

– 1 Head of Garlic: cut and peeled into individual cloves

– Small bunch of fresh thyme, rosemary, bay and or sage

– Olive Oil

– Salt and Pepper

– Broth or water, if needed for basting

1. Preheat oven to 400° and take the beef out of the fridge 30 minutes before it goes in the oven. Place the veggies, garlic and herbs into a roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil (I used a 13×9 glass pan and that worked out well). I added about 1/2 cup water to the pan to add moisture and make sure the veggies didn’t scorch.

2. Drizzle oil over the beef and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the meat directly on top of the veggies.

3. Place the roasting tray or pan in the oven and cook for around an hour. Near the end of this time, check for doneness with a meat thermometer; 145° should be about medium.

4. Check the veggies halfway through the cooking process; baste and give them a little stir.

5. When the meat is finished cooking, transfer to a cutting board and allow to rest for 15 minutes. Slice it thinly and serve it with a drizzle of the juices from the pan and the veggies.

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After Dinner Drink: Iced Green Minty Drink (Across the Narrow Sea)

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This drink was amazing after a heavy dinner. I prepped the mixture before I cooked dinner so that it would be chilled. You could also add milk and make this into an amazing mint-matcha latte!

– 1/2 Tb. Loose Matcha Green Tea

– 4 Cups Boiling Water

– 1/4 Cup Honey, or to taste

– 1 Cup Fresh Mint Leaves

– Small Stalks of Lemongrass for Garnish

1. Pour the loose tea into the boiling water and steep for 2 minutes. You can steep in a tea pot, but I boiled the water in a sauce pan and then added the tea and covered the pan.

2. Stir in honey to taste and the mint leaves and then steep for another 4 minutes.

3. Strain the mint leaves and chill for a couple hours or overnight. Serve it garnished with a stalk of lemongrass.

Enjoy!!