Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Cold Cucumber Buttermilk Soup

A little over a month ago, I took a cooking class entitled "Summer Picnic with Lucia's" which was taught by local restaurant Lucia's head chef.  It was me a two dear friends, and we had a blast!  The menu was amazing, and the atmosphere even better. 

I made their Cold Cucumber Buttermilk Soup yesterday, and it was just as I remembered it that night.  It has just the right amount of tang, is crisp and fresh - and perfect for any hot, summer day!

Now, I just have to share it with you - since I can't really have you in my kitchen :-)  I cut the recipe in half since I basically made it just for myself!  My family is not really into the idea of "chilled" soups, so I have to slowly introduce the idea to them . . . mwuah haha!  They will be loving cold soups before they know what hit them!

Cold Cucumber Buttermilk Soup
Original Recipe by Lori Valenziano
Serves 8

2 lbs. cucumbers
Kosher Salt
1/4 bunch Italian Parsley
2 cloves garlic
1/4 C olive oil
2 C plain yogurt
1 C half and half
3 C buttermilk
White pepper, to taste
8 sprigs of mint (optional garnish)

1. Peel, seed and coarsely chop the cucumbers.  Sprinkle with salt, place in a strainer and drain for 1 hour.  Pat dry and set aside.
2. Pick parsley leaves and chop.  Crush garlic cloves with 1 tsp. of salt (or use a microplane). 
3. Place garlic in a large glass bowl, beat in olive oil.  Stir in the yogurt, half and half and buttermilk.  Mix well.
4. Add the cucumbers and chopped parsley.  Puree (I used an immersion blender).  Taste for seasoning; adjust with salt and white pepper.  Chill well before serving - a few hours.  Garnish with mint.

This was my lunch today.

Enjoy and live with gusto!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Parmesan Crisps

A very dear friend of mine, whom I've known for most of my life recently had a baby - I was so honored to host a baby shower for her and her sweet, precious baby boy!  Not only did I get to hold him and hug him, but it also gave me a chance to cook and bake for a group of gals.  Woot woot! 

Here is what was on the menu -
Parmesan Crisps
Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarts - recipe to come later!
Fruit, Meat and Cheese

Today, here is the recipe for Parmesan Crisps.  It's a ONE ingredient recipe!  It was so elegant and light - perfect for an afternoon baby shower.  It pairs very nicely with sparkling wine, sparkling water and strawberries!

Parmesan Crisps

- 4 oz. Parmesan Reggiano Cheese

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Finely grate 2 oz. cheese, set in a bowl.  Finely shred another 2 oz. cheese and mix together with grated cheese.

On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, take 1/2 tablespoon scoops and pile on parchment paper.  I usually did 12 on a baking sheet.  place in oven and bake for 6 minutes.  Repeat until all cheese is used. 

Serve (can be made a couple of hours ahead of time). 

They were light, crisp, salty and very delicious!

And - here's a little peek of the cupcakes I made - those were also y.u.m.m.y.!!!


Please click here for a printable version of this recipe - Kitchen Groovy

Enjoy and live with gusto!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Vegetable and Feta Orzo Pasta Salad

A dear friend of mine asked me to provide dinner to a leadership meeting she is hosting at the end of the month - woop woop!  I'm honored and excited to do this for her.  She came over yesterday to help me prepare for a baby shower, and of course, I had to start testing recipes.  I made this yesterday for lunch and we LOVED IT!  We decided that for the meeting, we would add black olives - but it sure was great as is :-)

Actually, a few weeks ago, I was at a cooking class and we made something similar but I adjusted the recipe according to my friend's specifications.  At some point later, I'd love to post the original recipe as that was delicious, too!

Vegetable and Feta Orzo Pasta Salad
Original Recipe by Lucia
Adapted recipe by Kitchen Groovy

Kosher Salt
1 lb. orzo
½ C freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
Extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 lb. asparagus
1 pkg. grape tomatoes
1 cucumber, seeded and medium diced
¾ lb. feta cheese, crumbled
Parsley, or any other favorite fresh herb!

1.       Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 
2.       Place asparagus on baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and kosher salt – roast for 10 minutes.
3.       Fill large pot with water, add 1 T salt and bring water to boil. 
4.       Add the orzo, stirring occasionally to avoid sticking.  Simmer for 9-11 minutes.  Cook until it’s al dente. 
5.       Drain and pour into a large bowl.  Whisk together the lemon juice, ½ C olive oil, 2 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. pepper.  Pour over the hot pasta and stir well.
6.       Add asparagus to the pasta, toss in the remaining ingredients, adding the feta last.  Set aside at room temp for 1 hour to allow the flavors to blend, or refrigerate overnight.  If refrigerated, taste again for seasoning and bring back to room temp before serving.

 Note: more salt is needed when serving dishes cold.

Doesn't it look absolutely refreshing??

Please click here for a printable version of this recipe - Kitchen Groovy

Enjoy and live with gusto!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Perfect Turkey Burgers

I love turkey burgers, but my hubby despises grilling them at home (he says they fall apart alot easier than grilling beef).  I am not the master griller of the home, and I don't know a thing about grilling.  I don't even know how to turn our grill on.  So, whatever hubby says, goes. 

But, I've been on the hunt for a really delicious turkey burger that passes hubby's strict guidelines for grilling.  This one passed with flying colors - FINALLY!  I found it in my most recent Food Network magazine and I was glad I did.  It was loved by all, even Miss Sunshine.

I modified the recipe slightly, and I will post what I made :-) 

Perfect Turkey Burgers
Original Recipe by Food Network
Makes 8 burgers

6-8 oz. baby portobella mushrooms, coarsely chopped into 1" pieces
1 shallot, coarsely chopped
3 T lightly packed fresh parsley, or 1 T dried
1 1/4 lb. lean ground turkey
2 T extra virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
Kosher Salt and Pepper
8 slices of Swiss Cheese
8 English muffins, split
Dijon mustard, mayonnaise and sliced avocado, for topping

1. Place chopped mushrooms, shallots and parsley into food processor and pulse until chopped.
2. Transfer the mushroom mixture to a large bowl.  Add the turkey, olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, 1 tsp. salt, and pepper to taste; gently mix with your hands until just combined.  Divide into 8 burgers.  Put on a large plate, cover and refridgerate until firm, about 30 minutes.
3. Preheat a grill to medium.  Brush the grates with olive oil.  Grill the patties, undisturbed, until marked on the bottom, 4-5 minutes.  Give the patties a quarter turn and cook until marked again, 4-5 more minutes.  Flip the patties and grill until cooked through, 6-7 more minutes; top each with 2 slices cheese during the last 3 minutes of cooking and cover with a disposable aluminum pan to melt. 
4. Toast the English muffins on the grill, then spread with mustard and mayonnaise.   Serve the patties on the English muffins; top with avocado.

Chef Note: according to my hubby, it is very important to follow the grilling instructions.  It will make a difference in the end result.

It was really hard for both hubby and I to eat just one turkey burger!

Enjoy and live with gusto!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Quick Apple Sausage Quesadillas

Happy post 4th of July!  I hope you have all had a wonderful holiday enjoying our independance ;-)

A very good friend of mine, Liz, sent me this cookbook quite some time ago and I've been meaning to post a great recipe I found from it.  Liz: so sorry it took me so long to brag about this awesome cookbook!  Everyone else: it's called "No Whine with Dinner" and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it!  It's written by 2 dieticians, who are also moms, who also have a hard time finding healthy options for their kids to eat.  This cookbook is the answer if you have kids who are hard to feed.

This is one of our favorites from this cookbook so far:

Quick Apple Sausage Quesadillas
Original recipe by "No Whine with Dinner" cookbook, pg. 81

2 T canola oil, divided
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into 1/4" dice (1 1/2 C)
2 fully cooked apple chicken sausages, casings removed and meat coarsely chopped
1 C reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 C frozen corn, thawed
2 T BBQ sauce
5 8" flour tortillas, preferably whole wheat

1. Heat 1 T of the oil in a large nonstick skillet of medium-high heat.  Add the bell pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 7 minutes.  Stir in the sausage, reduce the heat to medium, and cook until heated through, 2-3 minutes.
2. In a bowl, stir together the cooked bell pepper and sausage, cheese, corn and BBQ sauce.  Spread the mixture evenly over half of each tortilla.  Fold over, press down gently, and set aside.
3. Heat 1 tsp. of the oil in the skillet over medium-high heat (you may want to wipe out the skillet first).  Add 2 of the prepared quesadillas and cook, pressing down occasionally with a spatula, until the bottoms are crisp and golden, about 3 minutes.  Flip them and cook until the other sids are golden, about 2 minutes.
4. Repeat with the remaining oil and quesadillas.  Cut into halves or quarters and serve.

We wrapped these up and took them to a softball game.  They travelled nicely and were delicious!

Please click here for a printable version of this recipe - Kitchen Groovy

Enjoy and live with gusto!