Saturday, May 26, 2012

Happy Memorial Day!

Happy Memorial Day!!!  This weekend is officially the start of the summer!  To celebrate, I am headed down to Key West to stay at a friend's house for some R&R and girl time.  While getting ready for the holiday weekend, I honestly haven't been cooking anything Cheese Please worthy :)  Unless you count enormous bowl's of sauteed kale, tomatoes and goat cheese.  If you need something low carb, very healthy yet really quick to cook  - try it out.  It's been my go-to, and I have to admitt I had it 3 times this week and for dinner last night... slight obsessed

Anyways, while I'm away (and hopefully having fabulous meals I will be re-creating for all of you), I'll leave you guys with some great past recipes I think would be phenomenal for this Memorial Day weekend! 

Watermelon Feta Salad - this is so delicious, great for bbq's too
Viet Grilled Chicken - delicious recipe for when you're grilling out
Shrimp Chorizo Burgers - spicy, sultry, yum
Grilled Rum Peaches with Mascarpone Cheese and Orange Blossom Honey - enough said
Chocolate Toffee Shortbread Bars - bringing these delicious guys down with me to Key West!

Have a great weekend!!!!!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Rustic Tomato Cheese Tart

Do you know those small mini magazine's you see at the grocery store while waiting in line to check out?  They aren't full sized magazines like Food and Wine or Cooking Light, they are the smaller ones. Normally these dedicated to holiday meals, brownies, or easy week night meals.  Sometimes I can't help but flip through them.  I think it's because they are mini sized magazines, and all things mini seem to call my name!

Anyways, today I spotted one with a rustic tomato cheese tart on the cover.  It was beautiful.  I was also starving at that exact moment and decided on the spot that I was scratching all dinner plans and making this gorgeous cheesy tomato tart!  (Even though you're not supposed to, I tend to always end up grocery shopping while hungry).  Unfortunately, the cashier interrupted my tomato cheese tart fantasy and yelled at me to hand over my grocery card.  Flustered from being caught fantasizing over a tomato cheese tart, I quickly handed my card over and started bagging my own groceries.  I never got to buy the mini mag, or scan the list of ingredients to mentally file them away.  Darn!

So this is what I imagine the recipe would say :)  Coincidentally I had made a previous stop at the farmers market for my orginal dinner plan, a bruschetta recipe chosen by Chef Laura as Home with The Food Matters Project.  I couldn't resist these gorgeous yellow and red local tomatoes, how pretty are they?  So instead of a classic bruschetta, I ended up with this tart!   So glad!  Thank goodness for mini magazines!!


1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, thawed on counter
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup goat cheese (approximately, use your own judgement)
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1 red tomato, sliced
1 yellow tomato, sliced
1 tbsp fresh basil
fresh parsley to garnish
non-stick cooking spray


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly coat with non-stick cooking spray.  Place thawed puff pastry on baking sheet.  Lightly brush with olive oil and sprinkle garlic powder on the puff pastry  Top with crumbled goat cheese, and then arrange slices of tomato in what ever patter you'd like.  Top with fresh basil and bake for 20 minutes.  Garnish with fresh parsley and enjoy!

This is such a great appetizer for the summer, I see myself making this again and again!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Blondies with Browned Butter & Nutella

Someone get this jar of Nutella out of my house!  It's doing evil things to me.  I'm aware of that jar at all times when I'm home.  It seduces me, gives me compliments and lures me to it.  Then afterwards, I feel guilty and remorseful.  No, we're not talking about dating, we're talking about the most amazing chocolate hazelnut spread on earth.  A couple of weeks ago I bought my very first jar of Nutella.  The jar's empty now. 

Did you know that when paired with Milton's multi-grain crackers, Nutella tastes like an E.L. Fudge cookie?!?  I kid you not. 

So when I needed a desert/thank you for letting us stay overnight gift for this weekend, I turned to Nutella.  I also have wanted to make a blondie for a long time.  Traditionally, blondies are essentially the same recipe as their cousin the brownie, but blondies use butterscotch instead of chocolate.  So, how about we swap out butterscotch, and add Nutella?  Sound good?  Okay, done.

These blondies turned out amazing.  I decided to brown the butter first before putting adding into the rest of the ingredients.  Browned butter is also amazing, it transforms ordinary melted butter into a rich nutty, delicious butter.  This nutty flavor and aroma compliments the blondie base and the Nutella swirls.  Go get a jar of Nutella and make these!
Basic blondie recipe adapted from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything

1 cup all purpose flour
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup unsalted butter, browned
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 large egg, at room temperature
3 1/2 tbsp Nutella

It's been good to know you Nutella, but we need a break.  It's not you, it's me


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease an 8 by 8 baking pan and set aside.  Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and kosher salt. Set aside.

Browned butter - for good instructions, go here.  In a large mixing bowl with a handheld mixer, mix together the packed light brown sugar, browned butter and vanilla extract.  Once combined, add in the egg and mix.  Slowly add in the dry ingredients until almost combined.  Take a spatula and fold the ingredients together.

Evenly spread the blondie batter into the baking pan. Measure out the Nutella. Drop the Nutella on top of the blondie batter. Drop the Nutella in three rows.  Swirl the Nutella up and down. Then back and forth.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

 Cool and then cut into squares. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Strawberry Salsa Fresca {with Blackened Mahi Mahi}

It's full blown strawberry season here in Charlotte!  You know you are getting old when on a single Saturday you have a choice of Cinco de Mayo, the Kentucky Derby, the Wells Fargo Golf Tournament (i.e. large social event) and a SC Strawberry Festival and you choose the Strawberry Festival.

What?  My 22 year old self is ashamed.  In the end we didn't end up going... let's just say Chris wasn't as excited as I was (shocker) ... which actually was okay, to be honest I knew it was a long shot :)   The local farmers market however was overflowing with sweet, ripe South Carolina strawberries.  I ended up buying two quarts!

{taken with my phone @ farmers market}
So what did we do with all those strawberries?  Well, I bought them two days ago, and they're now gone.  We made quite a few smoothies, we pureed them into a strawberry margarita (phenomenal btw), and we made a really delicious strawberry salsa fresca.  Salsa fresca simply means fresh sauce and by using just picked local berries, this it was!  

Sweet strawberries and kiwi are combined with a little bit of shallot, cilantro and lime juice.  A jalapeno pepper is added to up the heat factor.  It's up to you whether to use the seeds or not... I think it really depends on how you are using the salsa.  I choose to serve this strawberry salsa fresca over blackened mahi mahi.  Blackened fish is slightly spicy, so a fruity yet zesty salsa was the perfect accompaniment. 

Inspired by the Food Matters Project

Strawberry Kiwi Salsa Fresca
1 cup of diced strawberries
1/2 cup diced kiwi
1 tablespoon of chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon of lime juice
1 tablespoon of minced shallot
1 minced jalapeno pepper {with or without seeds}

Blackened Mahi Mahi
serves 2

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
pinch of cayenne pepper
2/3 lb of mahi mahi {or any other white fish}


In a large glass bowl, combine the strawberries, kiwi, cilantro, shallot, jalapeno and lime juice.  Stir together and cover.  Refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours. 

In a small glass bowl ,combine the onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper and paprika.  Sprinkle evenly on the top side of the mahi mahi.  Heat a caste iron skillet over high heat.  Add a little bit of olive oil and place fish in skillet.  Cook for 4 to 5 minutes and then flip for another 3-4 minutes.  Fish is done when it flakes with a fork.

Top fish with salsa and enjoy!