S’mores Dip

Melted Chocolate and Toasty Marshmallows!!! This is a hit for your next party or just for your family. Who says it’s only for camping out? This was made in the oven very quickly and came out perfectly delicious and perfect all year round.  A few minutes in the oven and a few minutes to prep and you have a delicious most fun dessert to serve. Serve it with graham crackers or graham cracker sticks and watch it disappear. You can also mix it with peanut butter chips for a little bit different spin on S’mores. All I can say is yum!

Ingredients:

app. 1 regular size bag of  chocolate chips, you can use semi-sweet, milk chocolate, peanut butter chips or any combo.

Marshmallows- start out with a whole bag — you’ll probably use 3/4 of the bag –you can use minis or the large ones but I just used regular sized this time which are readily available

Graham Cracker Squares–for dipping

I used an 8 inch cast iron skillet– it makes for a great presentation and it cooks perfectly– just be very very careful with serving it because skillet will be very hot — careful supervision with this one

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and spray the cast iron pan with cooking spray ( this will help with clean up)  Pour the chips you’re using in an even layer on the bottom of the skillet.  Bake for3-4  minutes or until chocolate chips are melted . Watch closely because you don’t want to burn. Using an oven mitt –remove the skillet from the oven and stir the chocolate around  then cover the top with the marshmallows completely. Bake for another 4-5 minutes or until marshmallows are browned on top. ( see photo)  Serve immediately with graham cracker squares —only tip is to be very careful , because the dip and the pan will be very hot!!!! you’ll have to supervise with little ones and even some of the over anxious adults. You can let it rest for about 4-5 minutes before serving. But it should be served hot.

*if you don’t have a skillet you may use another oven-safe baking dish like a 9×13 pyrex would work . Chocolate does melt more evenly in cast-iron skillet and it retains heat better. 

*you can adjust the amounts of chocolate and marshmallows to your liking, and the size of the skillet. Some of these photos show the jumbo sized marshmallows which will work just as well or you can cut them in 1/2. 

*use whatever kind of chips you like, and any kind of marshmallows you like — mini marshmallows work well here too.

Farmers Market to Table Gazpacho

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Delicious fresh vegetables from the local farmers market went into this gazpacho. This time of year you must take advantage of the awesome selection of fruit and vegetables at your local farmers market. In Colorado there is so much local produce it would be a pity not to . I bought the tomatoes , cucumbers, peppers, garlic and red onion all from our local farmers market. Whole Foods also sells many local products which is so amazing.  It’s just quite wonderful to put food on your table from your own garden or at least from one within 100 miles of where you live. Farm to Table . Simply put it’s the best .

Ingredients:

1 cucumber or 2 – 3 Kirby size cukes, halved and seeded , but don’t peel . If not Kirby cukes you can use a hothouse cucumber. Go organic, because you are eating the peel.

2 yellow bell peppers, cored and seeded. Of course you can use red bell peppers, but not green.

4 tomatoes — Whole Foods and most grocery stores have beautiful produce this time of year so use the heirlooms if you can get them or any of the fresh tomatoes will do.

1 red onion

3 garlic cloves, minced or throw them into the food processor along with vegetables

3 cups Spicy V8 or use regular tomato juice

1/4 cup champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar

1/4 cup good olive oil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

*1/2 to 1 whole jalapeno depending on how spicy you like it, remove seeds from jalapeno

* cilantro, chopped is a nice touch for garnish

*avocado cut up is also nice garnish

*shrimp is also a nice garnish

Directions:

I cut up cukes, tomatoes, bell peppers and red onions into app. 1 inch cubes. Put each vegetable separately into a food processor with steel blade and pulse until it is coarsely chopped. Do not make baby food, don’t over process.

After each vegetable is chopped up combine them in a large bowl and add the garlic ( if you haven’t already) , juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix well and chill before serving. It’s a good idea to chill for a while, the longer it sits the more the taste develops.

The second night I added shrimp and avocado.

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BBQ Chicken Marinade

Last night I put together this marinade and it was so very delicious. It has a definite Chinese flavor which we love. It’s sweet and savory all at the same time. You don’t have to marinade over night. I marinated the chicken for about 2 hours. Of course you can marinade overnight if you’d like but not necessary with this one. Easy to obtain ingredients — you may have to buy Chinese 5 spice powder if you don’t have in the house, this makes the flavor so don’t omit. Very easy prep on this one; most of the ingredients come out of bottles of which I had all in pantry or fridge. I cooked on the outside grill on a medium setting so as not to burn the chicken. Cooks in about 10 -12 minutes. This chicken would be delicious the next day but we didn’t have any leftovers. I cut in 1/2 for the two of us. We also prefer thighs which we like best but this would be just fine on white meat as well but timing may vary. Serve alongside a salad , some rice and a vegetable and you’re good to go. The leftovers would be amazing over fried rice — just saying. If no outdoor grill use a grill pan.

Enjoy! it’s my marinade for the summer.

Ingredients:

2 -2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs

2 large garlic cloves, minced

1/2 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup hoisin sauce

3 Tablespoons soy sauce

2 Tablespoons Ketchup

4 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

Directions:

Pat the chicken thighs with paper towels to remove excess moisture

In a large bowl ( big enough to hold chicken) stir together the minced garlic, five-spice powder, honey, hoisin, soy sauce , ketchup and sesame oil. I whisk all ingredients together.

Remove about a cup of the sauce to a small dish for glazing the chicken.

Add the chicken to the bowl, coating all pieces well. Cover with plastic wrap and since I only did for a few hours I left it on counter . If you’re doing over-night place in fridge but take out and bring to room temp. before cooking. You can marinade for as little as 30 minutes or up to over-night.

I pre-heated grill to medium and I cooked chicken for about 10-12 minutes depending on the size of the thighs. I basted with a brush some of the marinade at the very end ( app. 2-3 minutes)Transfer to a platter and let sit for a few minutes.

That’s it — very simple and very delicious week night meal or BBQ for guests.

White Bean Caprese Salad

An easy side salad for the lazy hazy last days of Summer and really good anytime of the year. White Beans from the can which is always in my pantry works to make this an easy simple delicious side salad. You can add some arugula or just serve alongside any protein and it’s perfection with simple ingredients.

Ingredients:

1 14 oz. can white beans such as cannellini, rinsed

app. 5 oz. small cherry or grape tomatoes , halved

app. 5 oz. small mozzarella balls such as cilliegine which is available in most grocery stores in an 8 oz. container. You can also use any good quality fresh mozzarella torn into bite size pieces.

1/4 cup loosely packed basil leaves , I like them cut up

2 Tablespoons olive oil, plus more if needed —

Kosher Salt and Black Pepper to taste and sometimes a pinch or two of crushed red pepper if you like a little kick

2 Teaspoons good – quality balsamic vinegar, plus more if needed

Directions:

In a medium bowl, combine the beans, tomatoes, cheese and 1/2 the basil. Gently toss together.

Add the olive oil and season the salad with salt and pepper. Gently stir to combine.

Drizzle the salad with the balsamic vinegar and top with the remaining basil and taste and adjust the seasonings to your liking.

Add a drizzle or so more of oil and vinegar if needed.

Enjoy!

Lime Shrimp with Corn and Avocado

IMG_8249 (2) IMG_8233 IMG_8228 (2)All I can say is Wow!!!! This is truly one of my most favorite recipes ever.   I cooked about a pound of beautiful shrimp and I wanted to use it in a delicious light salad incorporating some fresh corn and avocados. This salad has some of my most favorite ingredients in it.  I used fresh corn, fresh tomatoes, jalapeno, red onion, and shrimp! Limes are the secret ingredient here because they add all the flavor to this super light dressing.  This has got to be one of the healthiest most delicious salads.  Totally not fattening but filling because of the shrimp , corn and avocados. If you’re into these ingredients this is a must go to for summer entertaining. Light and Fresh , low in calories and so so easy to make.

If you like cilantro I would chop some up and add it, but a lot of people hate it so much I chose to not add. I removed all the seeds from the jalapeno and probably used 3/4 of a large one. One small seeded jalapeno is perfect and not hot at all. Be careful handling the peppers and the seeds,  I’ve taken to wearing surgical gloves to cut up the peppers.

This is a perfect salad just don’t add avocados till you’re ready to serve,  everything else can be assembled ahead of time. I put together in the morning of the day I was serving and then added my avocados right before I served. This is what I did.

Honestly one of my most favorite salads.

Ingredients:

1 lb. cooked shrimp (after cooking it should be 1 lb.) I then cut it up into smaller pieces. I probably cut each shrimp into 4 pieces. Remember I used under 10’s. So that’s 10 shrimp to a pound. You want the shrimp pieces to be bite size but not too small.

1/4 cup chopped red onion

3 cobs of fresh cooked corn ( just put cobs in boiling salted water, bring to a second boil and remove and plunge into an ice bath) let corn cool and remove kernels from cobs.

2 limes-juiced , I use my juicer to juice because it’s tough with limes and you need as much lime juice as possible from 2 limes. I squeezed a third lime over at the end, but it’s probably not necessary. The citrus helps keep avocado from turning brown as well.

1 Teaspoon Olive Oil

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

a few grinds on the pepper mill–to taste

I put in about 1/2 pint of small grape tomatoes, but you can eyeball if using larger tomatoes, I didn’t want tomatoes to over power the other outstanding flavors –if you prefer you can cut tomatoes in 1/2. I sometimes do this if I am not using the small grape tomatoes.

2 avocados–sliced and cut into cubes

1 small-medium jalapeno–seeded and minced

*a handful of chopped fresh cilantro if you love it

Directions:

  • We Cook shrimp- peel and de-vein or buy it cleaned and de-veined whichever works best for you. I like cooking my own shrimp but you can certainly use a “cooked shrimp” readily available in most markets. I cut shrimp up into bite size pieces but not too small.

Cook corn and allow to cool down. When corn is cooled completely down I cut kernels off.

In a separate small bowl, place chopped red onion, lime juice, olive oil and salt and a little black pepper. Whisk together .

I placed Shrimp, Corn, Jalapeno and Tomatoes into a large bowl. About an hour prior to serving I poured the lime juice combination over the bowl of Shrimp.

Mix well and allow to sit and marinade. You’ll want to mix a few times before adding avocados to circulate the marinade.

Taste for Salt and Pepper but it should be good.

I added the 2 Avocados right before serving and squeezed a little more lime over it, probably not necessary but I did. If you’re adding the cilantro go ahead and add it now.

That’s it–perfect summer salad.

Coconut Rice — Chrissy Teigen Recipe

This is my go to rice recipe — sweet and salty delicious recipe. Perfect served alongside a savory BBQ or any meal for that matter. Always a hit at our house. I like Chrissy Teigen’s recipe of all the coconut rice recipes. And don’t skimp on the toasted coconut. This is not diet food — but it’s delicious and worth the few extra calories. Absolutely yummy!

Don’t forget to rinse the rice and let it dry — it takes another 1/2 hour or so and is absolutely worth it. I just rinse it through a mesh colander– run cold water over rice and move rice around a little with your hands and let it dry . Rinsing or washing rice removes that excess starch, resulting in grains that are more separate when cooked.

Enjoy and thanks again to Chrissy Teigen for this wonderful recipe.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1 1/2 cups Jasmine Rice ( rinsed and drained)

1 14 oz. can coconut milk– full fat not light

1 3/4 cups water

1/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

Directions:

In a dry pan, toast coconut over medium-low heat, stirring until lightly brown and fragrant. About 4-5 minutes. Watch carefully . Transfer to a plate to cool.

In a medium saucepan, combine all other ingredients including rice, coconut milk, water, sugar and salt.

Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Once it boils reduce heat to a barely simmer until rice is fully cooked and liquid absorbed keep covered. About 20 minutes. I time it for 20 and check on it at 15 minutes. Remove from heat when all liquid is absorbed and fluff with a fork. Then re-cover the saucepan and let it stand for at least 5 minutes before serving. Last night I made an hour ahead and let it sit and it was perfect.

Transfer to a sering bowl and top with toasted coconut.

Enjoy!

A Berry Patriotic Trifle

I made this for the Fourth of July and it was so very pretty and pretty yummy too. I honestly didn’t care how good it tasted because it looked that good but it really was very yummy. Very easy to make and no baking involved. Perfect for the Fourth or Labor Day or really any old time . Actually this would be lovely made with all blackberries , all strawberries and just serve it any old time if you’re not feeling the Patriotic theme. It’s delicious and an easy solution for dessert for those summer bbq’s.

You’ll need a Trifle Bowl — worth the investment.

Ingredients:

1 store bought angel food cake

For the syrup:

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup water

1/4 tsp. Almond Extract

Whipped Cream Cheese:

2/3 cup sugar

1 lb. Cream cheese , at room temperature

2 cups Heavy Cream, at room temperature

Fruit:

2 pints blueberries

2 pints strawberries, hulled and sliced

Directions:

Heat 1/4 cup sugar, lemon juice , and 1/4 cup water in a saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and stir in the almond extract.

Cut the pre made angel cake into 1 ” slices

Brush both sides of the sliced cake with syrup — I put on a rimmed baking sheet to do this

Cut the slices into 1″ cubes

Beat 2/3 cup sugar and the cream cheese with a mixer with paddle attachment on medium speed until smooth and light. Add the cream and beat on medium-high speed until smooth and the consistency of whipped cream

Arrange half of the cake cubes in the bottom a 13 cup trifle dish. Sprinkle evenly with a layer of blueberries. Dollop half of the cream mixture over the blueberries and gently spread

Top with a layer of strawberries

Layer the remaining cake cubes on top of the strawberries. Then sprinkle with more blueberries

Top with remaining whipped cream and finish with the remaining strawberries and blueberries, arranging them in a decorative pattern. Cover and refrigerate for at least a few hours. Overnight is perfect and what I recommend.

Like I said any berries will do , it’s a lovely dessert.

Blueberry Crumb Bars

photo (2)photophoto (3)photo (4) It’s summertime and blueberries are abundant and deliciously sweet. These blueberry bars are great to make and keep in freezer till you need them. I combined a few recipes that I had and kept my fingers crossed and made a mess in the kitchen and used too much butter and here it goes. Sometimes I just don’t feel like using electric mixer even though I seemed to use a lot of different mixing bowls for this one. I had seen another recipe for a blueberry crumble but it called for shortening, so I substituted butter. It’s a lot of butter I know, but how much can be in one piece? My plan is to eat a little of this and freeze the rest for when my family comes out next month. As I was cutting it up to freeze I managed to eat way more than I should have and they were really beautiful and delicious. Just the right amount of sweet. I let them sit in fridge overnight, and they were way easier to cut into right out of the fridge. They are now nestled in the freezer except for the few pieces I left out to eat. I would keep unused and unfrozen pieces in the fridge and take out and bring to room temp. when you’re ready to eat them. You can also heat up in microwave if you prefer them warm. Either way, once you taste this buttery fruity combo you’ll be hooked.

Enjoy! and Happy Fourth of July.

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar plus 1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 sticks cold unsalted butter I cut it up into small diced pieces. I sliced stick in half, and then cut up into smaller pieces which would be easier to blend in.

1 egg

3 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 teaspoons cornstarch

1/4 cup of lemon juice and zest of one whole lemon ( I did use a large lemon)

4 cups fresh blueberries

9 x 13 inch pan , I used a glass Pyrex and it was perfect

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and Spray 9 x 13 pan. I used Bakers Aid Baking Spray because there is enough butter in this already.

In a medium size bowl, stir together 1 cup sugar, 3 cups flour, and baking powder. Mix in salt and lemon zest. Using a fork or pastry cutter blend in the cold butter pieces and egg. Then with clean hands I played with the dough a bit and got a crumbly texture going. I took half the dough and patted it down gently into pan with my hands. I made as clean an edge as I could, but I wouldn’t worry too much about that.

In another bowl, stir together the sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Gently mix into the blueberries. Sprinkle the blueberry mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble with your clean hands the remaining dough over the berry layer.

Bake in preheated oven for about 45 minutes or until top is slightly browned. I baked for 50 minutes , then checked on them. I baked for another 5 minutes. Cool completely before cutting into squares. I actually cooled in refrigerator over night, and cut up the next day.

Chicken Shawarma

I got this recipe from Pamela Salzman’s cookbook Kitchen Matters. I absolutely loved it. I made the chicken and then proceeded to turn it into a rice bowl. The rice bowl accompaniments can be whatever you like. I use Tzatziki Sauce instead of Tahini white sauce. You can also serve over salad which is quite delicious as well. Greek Salad in particular would be great! Add some delicious pita or Naan bread and it’s perfection! I made a side order of roasted peppers and onions and you can add mushrooms as well. I did this in the oven about an hour before dinner. (cut up peppers and onions add a little olive oil to coat and salt and pepper and 400 degrees for about 45 minutes )Big thumbs up on the peppers and onions in the rice bowl. Feta cheese is a must here! (buy a good one) and pepperoncini in mine!

I cooked on my outside grill but this can be cooked indoors on a baking sheet at 400 degrees for about 35 minutes. Or use a grill pan which would probably cook faster — either way it is delicious.

I also highly recommend marinating for as long as possible. I prepared the chicken in the morning and probably marinated for about 7 hours. Minimum of 1 hour and you can do overnight as well. This marinade was very flavorful.

Thanks to www.pamelasalzman.com

Marinade:

1/4 cup good extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice– I used 2 average sized lemons

2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 teaspoons cumin

2 teaspoons paprika

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon — I used a heaping 1/8 teaspoon

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper– I used a heaping 1/8 here too

Several grinds of freshly ground black pepper –probably 1/4 teaspoon as well

4 minced garlic cloves

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs

Directions:

prepare the marinade– Combine all the marinade ingredients in a large glass bowl. Add the raw chicken and toss to coat. Marinade in the fridge for as many hours as you can — this was key. Remove the chicken from the fridge about 1/2 hour before cooking.

I cooked on my outside grill for about 7 minutes on each side. I like the outside edges a little crispy since I don’t have a revolving spit to cook my chicken on this is as close as I could get.

I sliced up chicken served it in a rice bowl and we each used different accompaniments. The peppers and onions were perfect with it. Highly recommend it and you can buy store bought tzatziki which would be just fine. Would be good with some delicious toasted pita or naan bread.

Summer Bolognese

I call this summer bolognese because it’s lighter than my regular bolognese recipe . It’s made with fresh tomatoes which makes all the difference. I made this sauce the other night and I have to say it was just perfect . It cooked up in no time ( about 1/2 hour) and tasted fresh and delicious. Of course if you would like it vegetarian just omit the chicken. I wanted the protein so added a pound of ground chicken you can also use turkey and if you want ground beef. This time I kept it fairly light and used ground chicken. Used a thick ropy pasta — Bucatini and it was perfection on a plate made with fresh tomatoes.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

8 garlic cloves– minced– I use a mini food processor always for mincing garlic — just makes it easy

1 lb. ground chicken, turkey or beef

Kosher Salt to taste

1/4 cup dry white wine

4 Tbsp. tomato paste if you use double concentrate use 2

1 lb. cherry tomatoes ( which are abundant and fresh right now)

12 oz. Bucatini or any spaghtetti you like or rigatoni or penne would work here as well

about 1 cup of Pasta Water — which you may or not need

Finely Grated Parmesan for serving

Directions:

In a large skillet or pot heat oil then add garlic and cook till softened ( a few minutes) don’t brown it just soften it — sometimes you’ll need to turn off stove and let it just cook for a couple of minutes to soften.

With pan at medium high add chicken and cook, breaking up chicken for about 5 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink and fully cooked.

Add wine and reduce heat to medium low. Continue breaking up meat till it’s small pieces until wine is evaporated– another 5 minutes or so. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring till absorbed into chicken and cook for another few minutes.

Add tomatoes and let it cook down, stir to coat the tomatoes with the mixture — allow the tomatoes to cook till they are ready to burst — about 5 minutes. I used a masher ( see photo) and I smashed down on the tomatoes and burst all of them. You can leave some whole if you like but I didn’t because this is where the sauce will come from. Stir occasionally on medium low but don’t allow to burn. Allow sauce to thicken for about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water until very al dente ( at least that’s how we like it)

Reserve about 1 cup of cooked pasta water because you may need it if sauce is too thick.

Taste sauce for salt and add accordingly. I probably added a teaspoon of Kosher Salt — everyone’s taste is different for salt so add to your liking.

Drain pasta and I used tongs and transferred pasta to pan with sauce. Tossing it in and cooking at a low simmer the pasta and the sauce thickened and I added a little pasta water at a time till I reached a perfect consistency . I probably used about 1/2 cup of pasta water. ( which also contains salt so consider this and don’t over-salt sauce — you can always add salt but it’s tough to take away if you make it too salty. The sauce was creamy and delicious .

Remove from heat and if you’d like add fresh basil.

Transfer to pasta bowls and top with Parmesan.