Friday, July 30, 2010


Basil and lime is such a great flavor combination that when I needed to make some "thank you" gifts for my friends at the local Hannaford Market (best service on earth!), I immediately thought about Basil-Lime Shortbread.  Since some folks may be a bit more conventional in their love of sweets, I also made a pan of Chocolate Shortbread.

Hopefully, everyone was happy.

Chocolate Shortbread

1 c butter
1-1/2 c confectioner's sugar
1-1/2 t vanilla
1/2 c unsweetened cocoa
1-3/4 c flour

Cream together the butter and sugar.  Stir in the rest of the ingredients.  Press dough into a ceramic pan (don't use glass).  Bake at 300 for 25 minutes.  Cool almost completely and cut into wedges or squares.

Note: a better Chocolate Shortbread variation

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Basil-lime salsa for salads

This salad is really good with leftover chicken or white fish chunks.  Or just serve it plain for a meatless meal.

Basil-Lime Salsa

1 clove of garlic
1/3 c green onions
2 T lime juice
1 T balsamic vinegar
1 T olive oil

Process the tomato, garlic, and onions until smooth.  Drain off excess liquid.  Add juice, vinegar, and oil and stir.  Serve with chips or over salad.

Romaine Salad

Head of romaine lettuce, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cucumber, chopped
2 T fresh basil
Salt and pepper
1 can of corn or fresh corn on the cob sliced off

Monday, July 26, 2010

Grilled peppers

We had an all-grilled-all-the-time meal a little bit ago, and I learned something important about peppers.  I grabbed some Italian sweet peppers just for variety instead of the usual squat-shaped bell peppers.  While the flavor was very similar, there was not nearly as much flesh on the Italian style peppers.  Once they had been grilled and the skin was peeled, there wasn't much left to eat.  Just a word to the wise...they look really cool, but there's a price to pay!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Fish with mustard-dill sauce

We had tilapia the other day, and one of the nicest things about this fish is that it is inexpensive so you don't feel bad about drowning it in some sauce or other!  I made my classic Mustard-Dill Sauce, but I didn't have fresh dill.  So I substituted dill seed and threw in a pinch of cumin seed too, grinding them with my mortar and pestle.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Chili-chicken salad

You can serve the chicken warm on top of the bed of vegetables, or make it far enough ahead to have it cold for supper on a hot night!  We added bread, and the meal was complete.

Chili-Chicken Salad

1 lb chicken breast tenders
1/2 c onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Water to cover

2 T chili powder
2 t cumin
Salt and pepper

1/4 c Dijon mustard
1/4 c lemon juice
1 T oil
1 can of corn
1/2 c green onions, chopped

1 c romaine lettuce, sliced

Cook the chicken and vegetables in a little bit of water till just cooked through.  Pour off most of the broth (save it!), and cut up the chicken to bite sized if you like.  Sprinkle the chicken and vegetables with the chili powder through the salt and pepper.  Set aside and keep warm if you plan to have a warm salad.

Mix the mustard through the green onions together and arrange over top of the sliced lettuce.  Top with the chicken mixture.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Strawberry salad

Before the wonderful local strawberries are gone from your market again, try this amazing salad that was featured on Eating Well magazine's website.  I made mine without the watercress, adding more spinach instead.  The shot above is my salad before it was gently tossed...there's really more spinach in there than it looks like!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Vegetable pie

My mother's vegetable pie could easily be a main dish.  It uses cheese, so if you are not a vegan, it makes a great vegetarian meal.  I showed a picture of this a few weeks ago after a visit to RuthAnn's house, and not surprisingly I received requests for the recipe.  Mom uses Bisquick, but you can substitute your own Master Mix version if you'd like.  Here is Mom's version of the Bisquick classic:

Vegetable Pie

2 c chopped fresh broccoli or cauliflowerets
1/2 C chopped Onion
1/2 C chopped Green Pepper
1 C shredded Cheddar Cheese (about 4 oz)
1 1/2 C Milk
3/4 c Bisquick
3 Eggs
Salt and Pepper

Lightly grease pie plate, 10x1 1/2".  Cook broccoli slightly.  Mix broccoli, onion green pepper and cheese in pie plate.  Beat remaining ingredients until smooth.  Pour into pie plate.  Bake at 400 until golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes (I cook longer, more like 50 minutes).  Let stand to cool for 5 minutes.   One package (10oz) frozen broccoli; thawed and drained can be substituted for fresh vegetable.  Do not cook the frozen broccoli if used.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

More adventures with steaming

When you steam rice, you need to use this little interior bucket, but with other foods, they mostly just go right into the steaming container.  I did some salmon (you need to use cooking spray on the bottom of the container to make sure it releases easily), and in 8 minutes it was cooked perfectly.

Then I tried asparagus.  Same thing.  Perfect tender crisp asparagus in no time.

The really fun thing was that the Black & Decker model we have allows you to add herbs so that the foods are subtly flavored as they steam.  I used tarragon while steaming the salmon, and a dried bay leaf for the asparagus.  Mike claimed he couldn't taste the bay, but I sure could!  The meal was delicious.  I'll share about the strawberry salad there in the picture next time! 

Monday, July 12, 2010

Do you use a steamer?

I never wanted one of these.  But then my parents downsized and sent one to me.  Now I'm not sure how I lived through a summer without one!

Between my grill, microwave, and steamer, I believe that my kitchen will stay much cooler this summer.  During the fall and winter, when I'm cozied up making stews and stir fries, I don't care at all about copious amounts of steam rising into the air; in fact, I love it.  But I was amazed by just how little steam arises from this Black & Decker steam cooker. 

Here's what I made from the rice:

Doing rice is different from doing other foods, so I'll be experimenting a bit in the next few days.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Grilled chicken...slow!

The other day, I shared with you my favorite tips for speeding up the grilling process with chicken.  But I also cautioned that there is really no substitute for slow-grilled mouth watering whole pieces of bone-in chicken.  So today I want to share my favorite marinades and sauces with you for when you have a nice lazy hazy crazy day of summer ahead of you!  Don't forget about the marinades and sauces that were listed with the fast cooked chicken too...those work for slow cooking as well.

You already know these two rules, right?
* Marinate in oils, lemon juice, vinegar, etc ahead of time
* Only add sauces containing sugar, like barbecue sauce, molasses, honey, etc for the last few minutes

Chipotle-orange barbecue sauce

Pineapple-macadamia nut sauce

Chipotle marinade and barbecue sauce (shown above)

Pineapple salsa

Red grilled chicken

Jack Daniels' barbecue sauce

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Now that grilling season is fully underway, even in New England, I want to remind everyone of a few tips for keeping it moist while cooking it fast!  Chicken can take a long time to grill properly when it's full sized bone-in pieces, and nothing can really match that taste.  But when you just don't have enough time to grill it slow and steady, here are two ways to speed it up a bit.

Chicken skewers with pineapple sauce (shown above)
Chicken tikka

Butterflying your chicken:
Grilling chicken fast

Monday, July 5, 2010

A week of glutony!

Lemon Cake

My mother makes some of the most delicious regular old food food that you've ever had.  No nouvelle cuisine for RuthAnn...just good rib-sticking food.  Here are some of the amazing things she shares with us when we visit.



 Vegetable Pie

Friday, July 2, 2010

Happy 4th of July!

I hope you have a wonderful holiday, filled with family, friends, and grilled food!  Please remember that we are (so far) the land of the free because of the brave.