Monday, June 30, 2008

Summer Shrimp Salad

One of my favorite summer salads is this shrimp recipe that I got from my friend Erin. Any time shrimp, avocados and/or watermelon goes on sale, this salad is on the menu! We had it for lunch yesterday and again for dinner with some turkey tenderloin. It doesn't keep long in the fridge (it can get mushy after a while) but you shouldn't have any trouble getting rid of it quickly! :)

The recipe below is how Erin prepares it. I actually have never measured the quantities and it always comes out wonderfully. So feel free to make it in whatever proportions you prefer! Just be sure to keep the salad chunky.

Summer Shrimp Salad (serves 4-6)

1 lb shrimp, fully cooked and peeled
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
4 cups watermelon, roughly chopped
1-2 jalapenos, roughly chopped (I used 2)
2 avocados, roughly chopped
juice of 1 lime
1 tsp. honey
3 T. olive oil
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

1. In a large bowl, combine the shrimp, onion, watermelon, jalapenos, and avocado.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, honey, oil, salt, and pepper. Pour the vinaigrette over the salad and toss. Sprinkle with cilantro.
3. Set aside for 10 minutes to allow flavors to meld. Refrigerate.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Golden Evader

Someone needs to tell Deacon that he's a Golden Retriever. As far as he's concerned, life is one big game of keep away.

Sunday Morning Eyeopener

Back home in Virginia Beach there is this fantastic breakfast spot in a charmingly run down and antiquated hotel on the oceanfront. The Belvedere "Resort" Hotel has been around for as long as I can remember and the coffee shop is always packed with locals who know where the best breakfast in town is served!

I've only ever ordered one thing, and one thing only off the breakfast menu at the Belvedere. As I've posted before, I'm a big fan of the breakfast sandwich...and the "Eyeopener" at the Belvedere is my all time favorite. It's a delicious bacon, egg and cheese sandwich on an onion roll with parmesan encrusted tomatoes. The tomatoes are obviously what makes this sandwich different...and the best ever!

This weekend I decided to try to replicate the Eyeopener at home. I knew the trickiest and most critical part was the tomatoes. For my first attempt, they turned out pretty well. The sandwich itself was delicious, but the tomatoes didn't have the perfectly browned parmesan covering like the Belvedere cooks deliver. Which just means I'll have to keep trying and enjoying the results!

The Belvedere's EyeOpener (Take 1)

2 Onion Rolls
2 Eggs
1 Medium tomato
1/2 cup freshly shredded parmesan
1/4 cup Italian breadcrumbs
3 Slices Bacon
2 Slices American cheese

1. Fry the bacon over medium heat until crispy. Drain grease from pan and then fry eggs until over medium to over hard. Season eggs with salt and pepper.

2. Mix parmesan and breadcrumbs. Slice tomato and dredge slices through cheese mixture. Press cheese into tomatoes so it sticks.

3. Heat nonstick pan over high heat and coat with olive oil or cooking spray. Once the pan is hot, add the tomatoes and fry for about 1 minute per side.

4. Make the sandwich by layering egg, cheese, bacon and tomatoes. Enjoy!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Three Bean Salad

This recipe is a "go-to" side dish in our house. It goes so well with chicken, pork, and fish and is even great on top of couscous, rice, or a green salad. We have a teacher friend of my mom's to thank for this salad. I've always stuck to the recipe as it appears below but I think it would also be great with some fresh cilantro, diced tomato and corn.

Three Bean Salad

1 can (15 oz) black beans
1 can (15 oz) dark red kidney beans
1 can (19 oz) chickpeas
1 bunch green onions (for about 1/4 cup chopped)
1/2 red bell pepper
1/3 green or yellow pepper
1 clove fresh garlic
1/4 c red wine vinegar
3 T olive oil
1/4 t ground cumin

1. Drain and rinse all of the beans. Place in a medium sized bowl.
2. Slice the whites and enough of the green tops of the green onions to make 1/4 cup. Add to the beans.
3. Seed and finely chop the bell peppers and add to the bowl.
4. Make the dressing by mincing the garlic and whisking with the vinegar, oil, and cumin.
5. Drizzle over the beans and toss well to coat
6. Serve immediately or refrigerate!

This salad keeps well in the refrigerator for up to 3 days!

Thursday, June 26, 2008


I'm a "follow the rules" type of girl. So in the kitchen, I rarely veer away from a recipe. I'm finding, though, that the more time I spend cooking and baking the less I am measuring carefully and precisely and the more I'm channeling my inner wild child. Work with me here...I already said I'm a rule follower.

I was a little overzealous in my fruit purchases last week and so I found myself with very ripe raspberries and strawberries by the weekend. Throwing caution and my cookbook to the wind, I decided to come up with my own sort of cobbler/crisp to put the berries to use. Very dramatic stuff here.

Overall, I was pleased with the result. My husband thought it needed a little more sweetness and I thought it was maybe a little too sweet...and usually we're the opposite of that so I'm not sure what that means! :) Next time I will use a smaller baking pan to get a thicker crisp, too.

Strawberry & Raspberry Crisp

1 lb strawberries, hulled and halved
12 oz raspberries
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup butter, melted
Dash of cinnamon

1. Combine strawberries, raspberries and granulated sugar to make filling. Pour into greased 13x9 pan.

2. Combine remaining dry ingredients until well mixed. Add melted butter and mash into dry ingredients until crumbly.

3. Spoon the crumbly mixture over the fruit and bake at 350 for 35 minutes, or until golden brown.

And finally, here's a picture of Deacon during his first day at daycare!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Avocado Mango Salsa

This week at Publix they featured a tropical fruit sale...which meant all kinds of great fruit like pineapples, mangoes, etc were on sale...which meant I left the store with a towering shopping cart!

This recipe for Avocado Mango Salsa got great reviews on epicurious. I'm not entirely sure I'm convinced though. It was definitely tasty but I felt like it was missing something. I think next time I'll try adding some cilantro as some of the reviewers suggested. I also thought the jalapeno was really powerful in the salsa and would probably tone that down next time. I like some heat but with the fruit and avocado it was almost overwhelming.

It did jazz up some grilled chicken and was good on tortilla chips too! So while it wasn't my favorite salsa ever, I think it definitely has potential!

Avocado Mango Salsa

1 mango, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 tomato, seeded and diced
2 green onions, finely sliced
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 jalapeno, minced
1 avocado, peeled, seeded and diced

1. Combine first 5 ingredients in a bowl. (Can be made up to 3 hours ahead and refrigerated)

2. Stir in avocado and season with salt and pepper when ready to serve.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Peach Bellini's

Last week when my mom was in town we had brunch to celebrate her retirement! We started with fresh peach bellini's (recipe courtesy of my friend, Barbara) and she's been asking for the recipe so here it is! So simple and a great way to use extra ripe peaches.

Fresh Peach Bellini's
(makes about 6 drinks)
2 ripe peaches, pitted and diced
1 T freshly squeezed orange juice
1 t sugar
1 bottle chilled Prosecco sparkling wine

1. Put peaches, OJ and sugar in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth.
2. Press the mixture through a strainer and discard the solids.
3. Put 2 T of the peach mixture into each champagne glass and fill with sparkling wine.


Turkey Burgers with Grilled Onion Rings

I'm sure we've all had a not-so-great experience with the ol' turkey burger. They can be dry and crumbly and just not worth the saved calories and fat grams! This recipe for turkey burgers caught my eye mainly because of the fresh herb marinade...which seemed to me like a solution for dry burgers. Or at least a step in the right direction!

I'm not big on basting so I ended up mixing the 2 T of marinade directly in with the ground turkey. The result was an anything but dry, incredibly tasty turkey burger! Even my husband raved and he knew it was turkey (I usually have to try to sneak that by...and I'm usually unsuccessful!). We grilled the onion rings in the recipe too and they were excellent on top of the burgers with freshly shaved parmesan and spicy mustard. We'll definitely be making these burgers again...soon!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Fish Taco Fiesta!

I've admitted to my love of Mexican food on here already...probably more than once. And since I've been trying to prepare more seafood at home, fish tacos seemed like a great dinner solution!

This was my first fish taco recipe...and I don't think I need to look any further! These tacos were so delicious! I used a Bon Appetit recipe but I didn't make the mayonnaise sauce. And we didn't miss it at all! Between the salsa verde (I used store bought but the original recipe includes preparing your own salsa verde), avocado and other fixings there was plenty of flavor!

Tilapia Tacos
(Adapted from Bon Appetit, May 2008)

1 lb tilapia
2 cups chopped white onion
3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup oil
3 T fresh lime juice
3 T fresh orange juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 t dried oregano
Corn tortillas
2 avocados, pitted, peeled and sliced
1 medium tomato, seeded and diced
Lettuce Shreds
Salsa Verde

1. Stir 1 cup onion, 1/4 cup cilantro, oil, lime juice, orange juice, garlic and oregano together in medium bowl.

2. Sprinkle fish with coarse salt and pepper. Spread half of onion mixture in the bottom of a 2 qt casserole dish. Arrange fish on top of onion mixture and spoon remaining onion mixture over fish. Cover and chill for 30 minutes. Flip fish, cover and chill for 30 more minutes.

3. Brush grill grate with oil and heat to medium high.

4. Grill fish for 3-5 minutes per side.

5. Grill tortillas until slightly charred (about 15 seconds per side)

6. Coarsely chop fish and serve with tortillas, onion, tomatoes, cilantro, avocado, lettuce and salsa.

Here are pics of the taco I built and the taco my husband built! I'll let you guess which is which!

With a side of black beans with onions and some hot sauce, this was a great Mexican dinner at home! Deacon brought the beer! :)

Friday, June 20, 2008

Living on the Edge

I think I was probably the last person in America to hear about the salmonella/tomato outbreak. I tried to order a tomato and mozzarella flatbread at Seasons52 on Sunday and was shut down! Oops! :)

But clinging to the fact that "tomatoes attached to the vine appear to be safe", I couldn't resist trying out these blue cheese tomatoes the other night with our rib-eye steaks. Surely after a thorough washing and grilling over indirect high heat we're safe, right? So far so good....

I don't typically mess around with food poisoning, but for these tomatoes, I just might be convinced to do it again! They were so simple but looked so fancy. And the melty blue cheese topping mixed with breadcrumbs and a bit of olive oil was perfect over the warm, grilled tomato. The leftovers were great with our blue cheese burgers last night!

Blue Cheese Crusted Tomatoes
(Source: Bon Appetit, July 2008)

1. Heat the grill to high leaving on side unlit.

2. Mix 1/2 cup fine breadcrumbs and 1 T olive oil in a small bowl, mashing to coat.

3. Cut top 1/4 from each of 12 medium tomatoes.

4. Season tomatoes with salt and pepper and top with 1 T of blue cheese. Sprinkle with breadcrumb mixture.

5. Arrange tomatoes on unlit side of grill. Cover grill and cook tomatoes until slightly soft and cheese melts, about 13 minutes. Serve immediately.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Stump's Steakhouse

After a couple of lighter seafood dinners this week, I was really looking forward to a nice big steak last night! I found a great looking rib eye recipe through epicurious made up of basic ingredients I already had at home. The balsamic reduction was a great complement to the coarsely ground pepper rub and made the rib eye very flavorful. We prepared the steak as directed in the skillet, but then threw it on the grill for just a minute because I'm pretty sure everything tastes better when it's been grilled!

(Source: Gourmet, May 2000)

2 T whole black peppercorns

4 (3/4 inch thick) boneless rib-eye steaks

1 T olive oil

2 T unsalted butter

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

1. Coarsely grind peppercorns using a mortar and pestle (or if you're like me and don't have a mortar and pestle...i know, the horror...use any old heavy object in your kitchen!).

2. Pat steaks dry, season with salt, and coat both sides with peppercorns, pressing to adhere.

3. Heat oil with 1 T butter in 12 inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Reduce heat to moderate and cook steaks, 2 at a time, about 4 minutes per side for medium-rare.

4. Transfer steaks to a platter. Add vinegar to skillet and boil over high heat while scraping up brown bits. Simmer vinegar until reduced by 1/2.

5. Remove from heat and whisk in remaining T of butter until melted. Drizzle over steaks.

The picture may look like your typical steak...but trust me, it was excellent!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Shrimp on the Barbie!

Continuing my quest to try to cook more seafood at home meant grilled shrimp for dinner last night! We had never grilled shrimp (or any seafood actually) so this recipe by Bobby Flay seemed simple enough! We thought the marinade was just ok, but now that we know how simply and quickly we can grill shrimp, I'm anxious to try more variations!

Grilled Shrimp with Garlic
(Source: Bobby Flay of the Food Network)

3/4 cup olive oil

3 T freshly chopped thyme leaves

1 1/2 T ancho chili powder

6 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

24 large shrimp, shelled and deveined

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1. Heat the grill to medium.

2. Whisk together 1/4 cup of the oil, 2 T of the thyme, chili powder, and chopped garlic in a small bowl. Skewer the shrimp (on wooden skewers that have been soaked in water) and brush with the marinade.

3. Place the remaining 1/2 cup of the oil in a small saucepan, add the sliced garlic and gook until the sliced garlic is lightly golden brown. Remove the garlic slices with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels. Reserve the oil.

4. Increase the heat of the grill to high.

5. Remove the shrimp from the marinade, season with salt and pepper and grill until golden brown on each side, about 1 1/2 minutes per side.

6. Remove the shrimp from skewers, transfer to serving dish, and drizzle with some of the reserved garlic oil and garlic chips. Sprinkle with the remaining thyme and garnish with oregano leaves.

The only one who might have been a bit disappointed at how quickly the grilling was done was Deacon. He gets extra outside time to hunt lizards (his latest obsession) whenever we fire up the grill! Lucky for him, thick rib-eye steaks are on the menu for tonight!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Chili Rubbed Salmon

Despite having a mother who was born and raised on a tiny island in the Chesapeake Bay, and even though I really love all types of seafood, for whatever reason I have shied away from preparing a lot of seafood at home. But I'm working on it! :)

Since salmon fillets were on sale this week it seemed like a good place to start! This recipe from Real Simple was a great weeknight meal....literally 3 ingredients in the rub and dinner is done in 10 minutes!
1.5 T chili powder
1/2 t dried oregano
1/4 t salt
1.5 lbs skinless salmon fillet
1 T olive oil

1. Combine the spices in a small bowl and rub onto fish.
2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook fish about 5 minutes on each side or until desired doneness.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Happy Retirement, Mom!

My mom retired from teaching after 34 years this past Friday! I can't even imagine how amazing it must be to know you never have to set your alarm for Monday morning again! Since my parents were in town and my dad was tied up with a conference, it was a perfect day to have a girls' day to celebrate my mom's retirement!

We started the day with fresh peach bellini's and spinach and sun-dried tomato frittatas! These individual frittatas were so tasty and paired wonderfully with fruit salad and whole wheat toast. They definitely gave us enough energy to do quite a bit of shopping! With minimal prep work and a short baking time, this recipe also allowed us to do a lot of catching up without spending all morning in the kitchen!

Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomato Frittata
(From: SELF, April 2007)

Vegetable oil cooking spray
2 t olive oil
1 small shallot, chopped
1 cup packed fresh spinach, chopped
4 whole eggs
4 egg whites
8 sun-dried tomato halves, chopped
1/2 cup grated Asiago
2 T chopped fresh basil
1/4 t salt
1/8 t freshly ground black pepper
4 slices whole wheat toast
2 cups fresh berries

1. Heat oven to 425. Coat 4 small baking dishes with cooking spray and set aside.
2. Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat. Cook shallot until soft but not brown, about 2-3 minutes.
3. Add spinach; cook 2-3 more minutes. Remove from heat.
4. Lightly whisk eggs and egg whites in a bowl. Stir in sun-dried tomatoes, cheese, basil, spinach ,mixture, salt and pepper.
5. Spoon into baking dishes and bake until firm in center, about 12-14 minutes.
6. Serve with a slice of toast and 1/2 cup berries.

The recipe as posted serves 4. I halved the recipe (except that I used the full cup of spinach) and the result was very flavorful. I had to hurry and post this recipe because my mom is anxious to get back home and try it!

Congratulations on your retirement, Mom!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day!

We just got back in town from a great weekend over in Palm Coast, FL for Jake's law firm retreat! Very relaxing and definitely a great getaway! My parents were in town this weekend for a conference so we got to take my dad to dinner for Father's Day! So great! Living in different states has made it hard to get to celebrate father's day in person for the past few years so it was so wonderful to get to spend time with my dad on the day set aside to honor dads!

We celebrated by going to Seasons52 which is my parents favorite restaurant in Orlando. I'm always trying to get them to try a new spot but I have to's hard to beat Seasons52!! Their menu is constantly changing based on what foods are at the peak of their season. You can definitely taste the freshness in every one of their dishes! And with everything on the menu coming in under 475 calories you don't even have to feel guilty eating out! My favorites are the desserts that come in shot glasses...just the perfect little taste of something sweet to finish your meal!

Happy Father's Day, Dad!! I'm so blessed to have you for a dad!!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Sweet Vidalia

Some recipes are more sentimental than anything else. This Vidalia Onion Casserole is one of those for me. When this dish starting showing up on the dinner table it meant school was almost out for the summer. And we got to start eating out on the porch....which was always a big deal to me for some reason.

I'm not entirely sure where this "recipe" came from or if it even qualifies as a recipe! But having it last night for dinner made me excited about summer time and made me want to take dinner outside (the 90+ degree weather and torrential downpour prevented that though)!

Vidalia Onion Casserole

2 Vidalia Onions, sliced

4 T butter

1 Sleeve Reduced Fat Ritz Crackers, crumbled

1 3/4 cup Shredded Sharp Cheddar

1. Saute onions in melted butter until tender.

2. Place 1/2 of onions in small, greased casserole dish.

3. Top with 1/2 of crumbled Ritz crackers and then 1/2 of cheese.

4. Repeat layers and bake at 325 for 20 minutes, or until browned.

I honestly don't know why I bothered with the Reduced Fat Ritz...maybe a little bit of guilt since I work in a cardiovascular surgery practice and this side dish isn't exactly heart healthy! :) But it is tasty!

*The weather last night put a damper on our plans to grill chicken. So instead, I used the same pan that I used to cook the onions and seasoned the chicken with a little freshly ground pepper and rosemary. It turned out wonderfully with that little bit of sauteed onion flavor cooked in!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Turn that Frown Upside Down....with Cake!

One of my favorite food blogs is Food Blogga where Susan always has amazing recipes and photos....many of them even healthy! When I saw this Fresh Cherry and Peach Upside-Down Cake, I just had to try it! I've been buying cherries by the shoppingcart-full while they've been on sale at Publix!

It turned out amazing (if not quite as pretty as Susan's!)! The cake is really light and the brown sugar and butter glazed peaches and cherries are a fantastic topping. We like the cake best served warm with a little bit of whipped cream.

*One little tip: I don't own a cherry pitter so I had to improvise for this cake. I found a plastic decorating tip for spreading frosting that worked perfectly for pitting! I just removed the cherry stems, inserted the small end of the tip where the stem had been, and pushed the pit out to the other side.

I've never met a dessert I didn't like...just ask my family. But at least this one has fruit, right?!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Deacon is 6 Months Old Today!

From 14lbs at 8 weeks to 56lbs at 6 months!

Monday, June 9, 2008

South of the Border Breakfast

I love Mexican food. LOVE it. Unfortunately, we haven't found a Mexican restaurant in Orlando that we really like yet. So I end up making a lot of Mexican dishes at home. This breakfast sandwich is your typical bacon, egg, and cheese....topped with chunky guacamole. I'm on board with anything involving guacamole!

South of the Border Breakfast Sandwich

1/2 cup egg beaters (or 2 large egg whites)
2 pieces of cheese
2 slices of bacon, cooked and halved
2 whole wheat english muffins
1/2 avocado (sprinkle with fresh lemon juice), coarsely chopped
1 green onion, chopped
5 dashes of hot pepper sauce
1 small tomato, seeded and small diced
1/4 cup red onion, diced
salt and pepper to taste

1. Prepare the guacamole topping by combining avocado, green onion, hot pepper sauce, tomato, red onion, salt and pepper. Set aside.

2. Season egg whites with salt and pepper and poach to desired doneness. I cheated and used the microwave poacher....easiest way I know to get fluffy eggs quickly!

3. Toast English muffins and top with eggs, cheese, bacon and then guacamole. Enjoy!

Saturday, June 7, 2008


So it's a beautiful Saturday and we're stuck at home. Trapped by the confines of the 6 hour window the cable guy gave us. Great....

It's not all bad, though, because it gave me a chance to try out these Southwestern Chicken Wraps from the good people at Martha Stewart Living. They were so easy to throw together and made a great lunch paired with a fresh fruit salad. I adapted the recipe a bit to just make 2 wraps (read: 2 incredibly enormous wraps). And I opted to use a bit of cilantro and a fresh jalapeno rather than pickled...I'm pretty sure I've never met a pickled anything that I liked!

Southwestern Chicken Wraps

1/2 cup fat free sour cream
1/2 jalapeno, small diced
1 T fresh lime juice
1 T cilantro, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
2 sandwich whole wheat wraps (10" each)
1 cup Baby Spinach
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
1/2 of 15oz can of black beans, rinsed and drained
1 med tomato, thinly sliced
1/2 of small red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 of avocado, thinly sliced

1. In a bowl, whisk together sour cream, lime juice, jalapeno, and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Spread the sour cream sauce over wraps leaving a 2" border. In the center of the wraps, layer baby spinach, chicken, black beans, tomato, onion, and avocado. Fold 2 sides of each wrap over the filling and roll tightly ending seam side down.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Here we go...

I'm not entirely sure where to begin. I wanted to start a blog as a way to stay in touch with family and friends and after being inspired by all the foodie blogs I check out daily (which I have my friend Kara to thank for since I found them after getting hooked on her fabulous blog). I'm hoping this will be a place to share favorite recipes and fun happenings!

Becoming a wife (2 years ago! Hard to believe!) and being responsible for what someone else had for dinner led me to start spending more time in the kitchen. And in the process, I found out I really ENJOY cooking and baking (the planning of meals and grocery shopping I could do without though!). So now I'm taking it to the world wide web, I guess! :)

I don't so much have any fabulous recipes or pictures of the results just yet....but stay tuned! In the meantime, here's a picture of our little furbaby, Deacon (what else did you expect from 2 Wake Forest alums). He's a 6 month old Golden Retriever and we're definitely teetering on the edge of becoming "those" people that are completely obsessed with their dog! He's been a lot of fun, a lot of laughs, and a little bit of pure destruction!