Monday, June 13, 2011

Taste of Summer

We certainly know what summer feels like, but how does it taste?  I believe it is safe to say that a majority of us would first recall summer tomatoes or summer stone fruit.  After having this meal, this is exactly how summer tastes to me!  Tomatoes (mind you, my heirloom tomatoes weren't completely in season so in the heart of July this will be an even better dish) and the season's first basil all in a perfectly simple balsalmic dressing.  Hard to beat. Light, fresh and tasty! 
This meal was shared with Meg and her family on our screened in porch - it was a perfect early summer evening - fresh food shared at a common table.

Angel Hair Pasta Alla Checca

3 c. chopped ripe tomatoes, summer heirlooms are best for taste and looks
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1/4 c fresh basil, torn
1/2 c. or less if you prefer, good quality EV olive oil. 
(remember from my earlier post, good quality is important when the ingredient is a star player)
8 oz. bocconcini mozzarella balls.  I used 16 oz and had I used less, I would have been disappointed. 
2 Tbs balsalmic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
1 lb angel hair pasta

Combine all ingredients (except the pasta) in a bowl.  Cover and let stand at room temperature for half an hour.  This is your checca sauce.  Boil the pasta, in water that tastes like the sea. 
Toss Pasta with the checca sauce and garnish. 

I served the pasta and the sauce seperately - and will probably continue to do so.  Call me type A, but I do think ahead and b/c there is a chance of leftovers, as this serves 4-6 people, I always think about what the sauce will do to my noodles overnight and personally, I don't want my pasta sitting in balsalmic vinegar for any length of time.  So, I keep the two seperate at the dinner table as well as when I store the leftovers.  

Now, if only I had a picture of sweet Jude "cranking" his pasta in via his ears.  My little Lizzie still pops that trick out at the dinner table and its weeks later.  Just this morning, she "cranked" in her banana nut pancakes!  Pretty sure Jude made a lasting impression on her - what a lady killer!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Deeelicious Red Thai Curry with Shrimp

Although I refrain from titling this post "HOT HOT HOT" as I do not want to give anyone reason not to try this dish , I will not delay any further mentioning that this dish is VERY spicy if you do not take precaution with the curry paste.  As a first timer with this recipe, I followed precisely the measurements, but I'll definitely back the curry paste down to 1/2 or at the most, 1 Tbs instead of 2 Tbs. next time.  And there will be a next time.  This was a hit with Brad and next time will be with me.  I could tell it was very good, but I just couldn't get past the small inferno I ignited on my lips, in my thorat and the excessive runny nose.  I was a pretty sight!  So bad I opted for a cold bowl of cereal.  What a shame but I just don't do heat of that caliber.  I felt so awful for not being able to prewarn my trusting recipients.  They already tasted the meal before I could and thus my apology/disclaimer was a little too late. But, everyone reassured me that it was still delicious and through the heat I did like the flavor of the sauce and all the fresh veggies.  

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Chicken and Pasta with Roasted Red Pepper Cream Sauce

 I love pasta dishes.  Something just hearty and soul warming about them and this week, I was feeling pasta-ish!  The cayenne pepper in this one puts a whole other meaning to soul-warming too!  Measure down if you aren't up for spicey.  Little one and I had Grandpa over for this family dinner meal and Grandpa's poor lips were on fire he said.  This coming from someone that doesn't touch mexican food and thinks Big Red gum is "too spicey to enjoy".  Not too credible if you ask me.  We love him, but he's a little tender in the taste buds.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Official Spring/Summer 2011 Drink of Choice and Pea Nutty Noddles

Growing up, there were two drinks I loved and begged my mom to give me...a Shirley Temple and a half lemonade/half iced tea.  Shirley Temples, with 5 maraschino cherries please, are versatile and can easily be consumed during the winter holidays.  Little ol' Shirl can make any occasion feel fancy.  I only really remember consuming the half and half (now known as an Arnold Palmer) during the summer.  They were the pool-side/court-side/porch-side drink of choice for me. Beyond the half and half, summers also meant long days at the pool, honeysuckle, lightening bugs, later bedtimes, avocados, shrimp cocktails, bike rides, hammock time and night drives in my parents old convertible fiat. Summers were fun and free.

We are in the middle of spring here.  Days are getting longer.  There is a 10 inch thick blanket of pollen on just about every exposed surface.  I even saw my first mosquito yesterday. Everything is in full bloom.   
Summer is right around the corner.  I can feel it.  I don't want to rush anything and I definitely am not ready to let go of 50 degree nights, but this grown up version of the half and half might just push me there.  I am officially announcing it as the 2011 Summer Drink of Choice for this household.  It is really freaking incredible.  I made it for the first time the other weekend when we had some friends for brunch and have made it three times since. Introducing ginger-tea lemonade with basil and a sneak peak at the dinner for this Tuesday Night Swap.

I realize this picture doesn't quite display the iced tea in all of her deliciousness.  Please note adorable boy in background playing with trucks and Easter eggs.

Monday, April 18, 2011

"I Love" Chicken Schnitzle

This has been a good week.  Lizzie is showing progress on the potty, her big girl underwear came in the mail (they are Adorable on!)  and we've had lots of rain - to wash away all this nasty overwhelming yellow pollen!  Also, I've been working hard to be consciously grateful for all things I love thanks to an inspiring book my Aunt Laney gave me called "The Secret the Power" by Rhonda Byrne.  There are lots of lessons to be taken from this book, but this is just one I'm concentrating on now.  And I'm happy to report, it does make one more happy feeling to accentuate the positive (Johhnny Mercer was on to something) and be consciously grateful of people/sitatuions/events/things you encounter daily.  It is challenging, to be conscious of your thoughts and steer them into positive directions when they tend to linger (more like lurk) towards the negative.  Its only human nature, but we do need to take control more often than not.
Anyway - with the help of my new read, I'm working to mentally acknowledge things that I love and make this a daily practice.  My sweet lizzie and my amazingly helpful husband who is so tender and loving with our little girl and with me - are at the top of my list among some very trivial things like "icecream..... anytime" and "stormy nights which lead to excellent slumber".

Monday, April 11, 2011

Soy Good Salmon with Edamame Succotash

I received a great package in the mail a couple of months ago.  This was the best kind - packed with books and sent with love from one of my favorite friends.  Nestled amidst the great new reads for Jude was Laurie David's, The Family Dinner.  David is a huge environmentalist and was a producer behind An Inconvenient Truth.  Her work is impressive to say the least.  I respect her passion for the environment and was curious how it would translate to a cookbook.  The recipes, I discovered, are written by Kirstin Uhrenholdt who at one point worked for the Davids.

After setting up Jude with his new reading material, I began to leaf through my new treat.   Wow!  This is a great book.  I guess it is technically considered a cookbook, but it is so much more than that.  David weaves together recipes, conversation starters, gorgeous photos, post-dinner games and interviews of interesting people (Alice Waters, Michael Pollan, Jamie Oliver, etc) about their experiences with family dinners.  It is the kind of book you want to keep picking up for inspiration.  I have especially enjoyed the section on table talk.  She encourages bringing books, poetry and newspapers to the table to stimulate conversation and offers loads of suggestions for questions to get everyone talking and sharing and having a good time.  Patrick, Jude and I sit down together for most breakfasts and dinners and I have this lofty notion that this is where we will share the most important details of our days/hearts with one another.  I can't wait for the day when our conversations evolve beyond big trucks dumping dirt and blowing bubbles.  Don't get me wrong, I am thoroughly enjoying this stage with Jude, but I can't wait to really, really see what he has to say and offer to this world.

I decided to try out The Family Dinner's Soy Good Maple Salmon with Edamame Succotash for this week's swap.
Photo taken from  The Family Dinner website 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Another recipe with Ketchup?!? Turkey Meatloaf!

Here I sit, with my cream cheese bagel and lemon water, typing my post much sooner than I got the last post out and might I mention......I'm doing this post amazing and much needed yoga session with my dear friend Joan.  I hestitated leaving the house with Lizzie since we are on our 5th day on the Potty Train

* note the very proud pottier with her potty stickers and FIRST EVER marshmellow PEEP! 

not to mention the dark dreary day it is, but I (and baby) needed this time for our bodies....and Lizzie needed a little outing.  Also, Lizzie had what I politely call, potty success, before we left the house so I was feeling confident on the way out of the door and as expected......amazing on the way back in.  Win-Win.  I've digressed, so let me get back to our dinner from Tuesday night.