SRC: Nectarine Caprese Salad

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It’s Secret Recipe Club Reveal Day! In the Secret Recipe Club, each participating blogger is assigned a blog from another participating blogger and secretly searches their site for something to recreate. The accompanying blog post then goes live on reveal day! So while I was immersed in my assigned blog, someone else was picking through mine! I’m so excited to be part of this group, to see what on my blog peaks other’s interests and to stumble upon new blogs and new recipes.

Tara introduced me to The Secret Recipe Club and ever since I was accepted into this fun blogging group I’ve been waiting for this day to come. The day I’d be assigned her blog, Tara’s Multicultural Table. (Tara was assigned my blog August 2014) When I saw my assignment pop in my email, I was on a walk with my mom and I literally yelled, “Yes!” and threw my arms up in the air. (You can go ahead and ask her! If you know her, that is.)

I have a dedicated Pinterest board to Tara’s blog so there wasn’t any stealthy searching for me to do this month. I’ve even commented on just about every post on her page in support of her incredible blogging career that’s blossomed over the past few years. Tara’s blog is quite different from mine and her dedication to her passion for international cuisine leaves me in awe. I don’t know how she keeps up with it! She is also the mother to two. Her kids love to join her in the kitchen and you can see fabulous photos of family bonding interspersed among stunning food photography.

Tara and I have known each other for 7-8 years, now. Our husbands were in the same ROTC class at Auburn and we were stationed in the FL panhandle together for 4 years. After that we parted ways and are hoping to be stationed together again soon!

Memorial Day 2015 we were able to reunite after almost a year apart at their home in the DC area. I got the opportunity to cook with her once again and witness her photography station. As if the timing couldn’t be perfect, we’ll be joining forces again this weekend when she comes to visit, I can’t wait for her to meet Treat! She is Firecracker’s godmother and we are godparents to Claire. The friendship we created in Florida has only grown while we’ve been separated, talking in one form or another almost daily.

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Okay, enough mushiness. On to the food!

I have made multiple recipes from Tara’s blog already, most posted on Sew You Think You Can Cook. There are even two or three dishes on my camera waiting for the right time to share them with you. I didn’t use those for today’s reveal though.

I gave Stuart a list of 4 things to pick from Tara’s blog: Burnt Honey Ice CreamCarrot Cheddar Crackers, Nectarine Caprese, or Popcorn Tacos. It wasn’t until after handing him the notepad with the choices that I realized we got to try the ice cream first hand during our visit last year (we’re the friends mentioned for the tea she made in her review of the cookbook, too)! The popcorn tacos have been haunting my dreams ever since she posted them and you’ll be seeing them pop up here eventually (pun slightly intended). Same goes for the crackers, I’m always looking for ways to get more veggies in Firecracker’s diet.

Stuart decided on the caprese though, and I am glad he did. While it’s quite a simple option, it’s entirely delicious. Particularly when stone fruits are ripe and readily available in these summer months. I served this salad as a starter to salmon with roasted root veggies – quite the healthy night! I have decided, without question or fail, that I do not like yellow peaches. White peaches however are fantastic. I didn’t know if the same would be true for nectarines so I picked up both varieties. Turns out, I enjoy both varieties of nectarines but would recommend the yellow for this recipe. My knife cuts weren’t exactly restaurant worthy so I decided to layer my salad instead of stack it the way Tara had.

Nectarine Caprese Salad (1)  Sew You Think You Can Cook

Nectarine Caprese Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 C balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2-3 ripe nectarines, sliced
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • fresh basil, julienned

Steps:

  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the balsamic vinegar and honey. Reduce by about 1/2. Set aside.
  2. Layer mozzarella slices and nectarine slices. Season with salt. Drizzle with balsamic reduction. Garnish with fresh basil.

*This recipe is adapted from Tara at http://tarasmulticulturaltable.com/nectarine-caprese-with-honey-balsamic-reduction/*

Nectarine Caprese Salad for #SecretRecipeClub from Sew You Think You Can Cook

To see the other bloggers who participated in The Secret Recipe Club this month click here:

Three Bean Salad

You guys, I have a story to share.

And it has absolutely nothing to do with the side dish I’m sharing with you. A dish that’s perfect for potlucks and looks like summer.

Today was a rough day. Tempers were running both short and high. The day started 45 minutes too early (when you have two energetic little boys at home, that 45 minutes is precious!), the broken garage door (full story on that Sunday) was being uncooperative putting me in a bad mood I couldn’t snap out of, and naps were not taken. My 2 year old didn’t listen even a little bit at the playground, and I have a “three strikes you’re out” rule which cut our trip quite short.

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When we got home all he wanted to do was play in his Duck Pond Water Table patio. I told him he had to prove to me that he could listen. He was charged with going into his room, getting a book, and sitting still while I read to him. My kid came back with a Chick-fil-A kid’s meal board book – a 4 sentence novel! FullSizeRender (1)Seriously, is my child that smart or was it simply coincidental? After some time playing in the water the boys had their first shared bath. Firecracker asked for dinner, which he didn’t eat. Treat was fussy, so I assumed he was also hungry (he did eat). At 6:20pm both boys were asleep at the table. Thankfully my husband was on his way home and I didn’t have to figure out how I was going to wriggle us out of our position. (See photo. –>)

It’s now 9pm and the boys are still sleeping in their beds! I’m a little nervous for what that means my tomorrow will look like. But I’m grateful for the date my husband and I ended up getting. We cooked dinner together and ate it on the patio. We then shared the kitchen clean up, and watched non-cartoon television. Ah, the exciting life of parents of young children.

Firecracker ended up waking around 9:30. He needed to come upstairs for a cup of water and to watch his nighttime programming. He then snuggled in our bed for a little bit before asking to go lay down in his room. Treat stayed asleep until his typical midnight awakening, and 4, and both were up between 6-6:30.

Three Bean Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb fresh green beans, cut in 1/2″ pieces
  • 1 can (15 oz) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (15 oz) red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 bell pepper, diced (I used a combination of orange and red)
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley (I used Gourmet Garden lightly dried parsley)
  • 1/4 C + 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 C canola oil
  • 3 tbsp agave

Steps: 

  1. Cook green beans in a pot of boiling salted water for 4 minutes, or until desired tenderness is achieved. Drain and place the beans in a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain.
  2. Toss green beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, pepper, and parsley in a large bowl.
  3. In a measuring cup, whisk together the vinegar, oil, and agave. Season to taste with S+P. Dress bean salad with as much dressing as desired.

*This recipe is adapted from Marcie at http://flavorthemoments.com/fresh-and-easy-three-bean-salad/*

Three Bean Salad - Sew You Think You Can Cook

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

CIC: Corn and Peaches

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I’m finally back with the Crazy Ingredient Challenge crew! It’s been half a year since I’ve been able to participate. While I did lose 3 months to our move across the country and lack of internet, usually I simply let it get away from me, not having enough time to pull something together. Often times the 20th of the month simply fell on another posting day for another culinary group and my ability to keep up with a double posting day is fairly lacking. But not this time!

This month’s crazy ingredient challenge was to come up with a dish combining corn and peaches. A perfect combination of summer flavors. I made sure to not only get this event written down in my planner, but also wrote down the day I’d be making the dish in my “to-do” column last week.

I’m not the biggest fan of peaches, (or so I thought) but my husband is and so I thought of him in coming up with an idea. I thought of doing something with the grill, maybe a salsa? And then all of a sudden an idea of cornbread came to me! I’m not sure where the inspiration came from, but I ran with it. I thought about grilling the peaches and then chopping them up into the dough. But let’s be honest, I don’t work the grill and I didn’t want to have to wait for Stuart to get home from work. So, “upside down cake” became the direction I went.

Peach upside down cornbread is such a fun take on the southern classic side dish. And one that makes cornbread that much better. I always find cornbread to be dry and begging for a dunk in honey or barbecue sauce. Not this one, it’s got the sweetness and moisture baked right on top of it!

Oh, and you know that side bar “or so I thought?” We’d picked up white peaches from Whole Foods instead of yellow and surprise! I found them to be amazing. Evidently I much prefer white peaches to yellow. Now I can’t wait to check the farmer’s market for some white peaches!

Peach Upside Down Cornbread

Ingredients:

  • 2 C cornmeal
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 C buttermilk
  • 1 C canned creamed corn
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1/3 C loosely packed brown sugar
  • 2 peaches, sliced

Steps:

  1. Place a cast iron skillet in the oven. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda.
  3. In another bowl whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, and creamed corn. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mix until combined.
  4. When oven is preheated remove the skillet. Carefully swirl the oil into the skillet and evenly spread out the brown sugar. Lay the sliced peaches into the skillet, covering the area. Pour cornbread batter over top.
  5. Bake 20 minutes until golden. Allow cornbread to cool in the pan 10-15 minutes. Place a large plate or cutting board on top of the skillet and turn it upside down.

*The cornbread recipe is adapted from Alton Brown at http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/creamed-corn-cornbread-recipe.html*

Peach Upside Down Cornbread for #CrazyIngredientChallenge from Sew You Think You Can Cook

To see the other bloggers who participated in this month’s Crazy Ingredient Challenge click on the link below.

SRC: Honeyed Lemon Fruit Salad

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Good morning and welcome to another edition of The Secret Recipe Club. For a little “behind the scenes” information, The Secret Recipe Club (SRC) is divided into three groups. Each group posts on a different Monday of the month. I am in Group C and always post on the 3rd Monday of the month. Which meant that during those special months with five Mondays there’d be two weeks without any fun reveal day! So now, on the 5th Monday of the month there is a themed reveal and it’s a “free for all,” which means that there aren’t any group restrictions. I’m looking forward to getting to know some of the other bloggers in the club.

The end of May unofficially marks the beginning of barbecue season and so today, the Secret Recipe Club is sharing recipes that would be perfect for your upcoming summer picnics and barbecues.

I was assigned the blog An Affair from the Heart written by Michaela. Michaela and I sound like we could be great friends! She describes herself as a “party thrower, gift giver, wish I were craftier, liver & lover of life” kind of gal. It’s that “wish I were craftier” bit that made me smile as I can relate completely. She is a stay-at-home mom to four children and has been married for 25 years this year!

I searched for great side dishes to accompany any summer picnic barbecue or family reunion. I always love a good pasta salad to eat alongside my grilled burger or dog and her Creamy Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad is definitely on my radar. Any family reunion isn’t complete without my Aunt’s 7 Layer Dip and Michaela’s Not Your Average Mexican Layered Bean Dip looks like it could compete (because it’s avocado free, an allergy I developed while pregnant with Firecracker that I won’t try again until I’m done breastfeeding Treat). Ultimately I went with a fruit salad, after being distracted by a Shirley Temple Float, because how could I not be?!

I altered her recipe to use fruits that were available to me and that met my family’s taste preferences. That’s the beauty of fruit salad – make it however you want! Because of my overall volume of fruit, I only ended up using one carton of yogurt instead of two. I didn’t adjust the honey accordingly and my local variety of Eucalyptus honey was quite over powering. I would of course make this fruit salad again (and use a sweeter honey). My husband loved having it as his mid morning snack in his lunches all week. Truth be told, this fruit salad was part of the very first meal we cooked in our new home!

P.S. I know I said in my SRC Reveal Post two weeks ago that I was supposed to get internet that day, well, it didn’t happen and now today’s the day! Theoretically. I’m not holding my breath on it though, that’s for sure. So, once again, I’m sorry to my fellow club members, but I promise I’ll be stopping by all your picnic worthy posts soon!

Honeyed Lemon Fruit Salad

Ingredients:

  • 2 C grapes, halved (I used red)
  • 2 C cubed fresh pineapple
  • 1 ½ C chopped strawberries
  • 2 tangerines, segmented
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, cubed
  • 1 container (6 oz) lemon yogurt
  • ¼ C honey
  • Juice ½ large lemon

Steps:

*This recipe is adapted from Michaela at http://www.anaffairfromtheheart.com/2015/08/honey-lemon-fruit-salad/*

Honeyed Lemon Fruit Salad for Secret Recipe Club from Sew You Think You Can Cook

To see the other bloggers who participated in the themed Secret Recipe Club this month click here:

#FoodieExtravaganza: American Pie

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It’s the first Wednesday of February and I’m taking a quick break from the #FreshTastyValentines event to celebrate “American Pies” with the #FoodieExtravaganza crew. My blogging friend Wendy over at A Day in the Life on the Farm is hosting today.

I’m not going to lie, I didn’t even look at what an “American” pie would be. All that comes to mind is apple, or maybe cherry. Pies aren’t my favorite dessert. I have an issue with warm fruit. My number one pie is Key Lime – cool and tart! Instead, I decided to go the savory route today and make a side dish that could work nicely with a brunch spread.

Yet another confession: I wasn’t happy with the photography. I struggle immensely with photographing cheese. AND the recipe actually called for gruyere, not cheddar. I accidentally deleted gruyere from my grocery list (it was part of this shopping fiasco) so I had to use what I had – cheddar. Which worked quite well, (Hey, cheddar is more American so maybe my dish does qualify after all!) but provided that yellow/orange tint. I was going to “give up” and try a different pie. But that was an even bigger fail! The only pie dish I have wasn’t large enough for the recipe I was making and everything had to be tossed into a dutch oven instead – delicious, but not pretty, and definitely not a pie. (Because it was a huge hit with Firecracker and myself, I will be trying it again with either a new pie dish or simply halving the recipe so it fits, so stay tuned for that one!)

So here I am sharing a fantastic recipe with mediocre pictures.

Cheddar Leek Potato Pie

Ingredients:

  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1 bunch leeks, thinly sliced
  • 1 large Russet potato, thinly sliced (I used a mandoline)
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 C half-and-half
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 C shredded cheddar cheese

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a pie dish with the thawed puff pastry. Trim and patch as needed to fit.
  2. Melt butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the leeks until cooked.
  3. In a small bowl whisk together the egg and half-and-half.
  4. In another small bowl whisk together the thyme, garlic powder, pepper, and salt.
  5. Evenly layer 1/3 of the sliced potatoes in the pie crust, top with 1/3 of the leeks, 1/3 of the spice blend, and 1/3 of the cheese. Repeat. For the final layer: place potatoes, leeks, and spices, pour the half-and-half over top of the pie, and top with remaining cheese.
  6. Bake 60-70 minutes, or until golden, bubbly, and a knife can cut smoothly through the potatoes.

*This recipe is adapted from Karen at http://www.karenskitchenstories.com/2015/03/potato-leek-pie.html*

cheddar potato leek pie for #FoodieExtravaganza from Sew You Think You Can Cook

Be sure to check out these other pies:

BLT Pie by Georgina of G’Gina’s Flavors Palatte

Cheeseburger Pie by Kathleen at Fearlessly Creative Mammas

Grapefruit Pie by Rebekah at Making Miracles

Ham and Broccoli Quiche by Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm

Homegrown Blackberry Pie by Carlee of Cooking with Carlee

No Bake Peanut Butter Pie by Lauren of From Gate to Plate

Peaches and Cream Pie by Elaine at Cookin and Craftin

Penne Pie by Terri at Our Good Life

Red Velvet Pudding Pie by Teri of The Freshman Cook

Tar Heel Pie by Tara of Tara’s Multicultural Table

The Impossible Coconut Pie by Stacy of Food Lust People Love

Walnut Crumble-Topped Apple Tart by Caroline at Caroline’s Cooking

Maple Glazed Brussels Sprouts

It’s no secret we like Brussels sprouts in this house and I love finding new ways to prepare them. Today’s version is one that is perfect for Christmas. Yesterday was all about last minute holiday recipes and this is the recipe that I was originally going to share with the Sunday Supper crew. The red bell pepper, red onion, and green Brussels sprouts look like Christmas and the glaze tastes like the holidays making it the perfect side dish to your ham or turkey this weekend.

I prepared these Brussels sprouts when my mom was here last month. She declared them her favorite sprouts recipe. (We actually cooked pork chops in the same pan from the Brussels sprouts – delicious!) She snapped a picture of the recipe on her cell phone and after her first grocery trip upon getting back home she messaged me saying she’d already bought the real maple syrup. That was her subtle way of informing me that I’d be making these again for Christmas. I will have to triple or quadruple the amount of Brussels sprouts and double the amount of glaze.

This recipe makes 3 servings.

Maple Glazed Brussels Sprouts

Ingredients:

  • 2 C halved Brussels sprouts
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 C real maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard

Steps:

  1. Cook Brussels sprouts in a pot of boiling salted water for 2 minutes. Drain, rinse, and set aside.
  2. In a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat saute the peppers and onions until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the Brussels sprouts and cook another 4 minutes.
  3. In a small bowl whisk together the syrup, soy sauce, and Dijon. Add to the skillet and coat the vegetable. Cook until glaze has thickened slightly.

*This recipe is adapted from Jeff at http://relish.com/recipes/maple-glazed-brussels-sprouts-video/*

Maple Glazed Brussels Sprouts  Sew You Think You Can Cook

CIC: Apples & Chives

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The ingredients I voted for actually won this month’s Crazy Ingredient Challenge! It did come down to a one vote swing though for the chives over graham crackers. I have to say, graham crackers and apples wouldn’t be that “crazy” so I’m glad chives took the lead.

I didn’t think this combination would be too difficult though. I ended up being surprised. I kept thinking of some sort of tart or pie type dessert, but honestly, I didn’t have the time (or energy) for that. I then decided to try making an apple jelly with chives. I found a two-ingredient jelly using just apple juice and honey and thought, “Now that I have time for!” I think I cooked the mixture too long because what I ended up with something closer to a candy. Had I realized it was candy I wouldn’t have put it in an ice cream dish to cool and instead have spread it on a baking sheet. The aforementioned ice cream dish was sacrificed to the garbage can (good thing it was a 59 cent thrift store find!). It was now back to the drawing board.

I settled on an Apple and Cheddar muffin recipe. I simply swapped cinnamon for chives. The batter really reminded me of a corn bread (although with flour instead of cornmeal) so I decided to bake these in my Mini Loaf Pan instead of a muffin tin. But then I ran into a dilemma of what to call these guys! They weren’t flakey enough to be biscuits, but lighter than a savory scone would be, and it wasn’t a muffin at this point. So… mini loaves it is!

We loved these mini loaves. They were a great accompaniment to some buttermilk brined chicken and green beans. The loaves were also begging to be dunked in a warm bowl of soup or chili or paired with eggs in the morning. I found them best eaten the same day however the do warm up nicely in the microwave.

Apple Cheddar Chive Mini Loaves

Ingredients:

  • 2 C flour
  • 1/3 C sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 C shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/3 C shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh chives
  • 1 egg
  • 1 C buttermilk
  • 1/4 C vegetable oil
  • 1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9-well mini loaf pan or a 12-well muffin pan.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the cheese.
  3. In a small bowl whisk the egg with buttermilk and oil. Stir into the dry ingredients.
  4. Shred the apple over the bowl and fold into the batter.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out cleanly. Allow loaves to cool in the pan 5-10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

*This recipe is adapted from http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/apple-cheddar-muffins*

Apple Cheddar Chive Mini Loaves for Crazy Ingredient Challenge from Sew You Think You Can Cook

To see the other bloggers who participated in this month’s Crazy Ingredient Challenge click on the link below.

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