Come along with me as I journal about my latest cooking and gardening adventures. Discover what grows in my zone five garden, and see what new recipes I try from my cookbook collection each week.

As I share recipes and information from my kitchen, I invite readers to comment and share ideas along with me in this blog. I am looking to increase followers to my blog, so that I may learn more about cooking and gardening.

Since moving to Midland, Michigan, I have been reading and researching many cooking journals, cookbooks and collected recipes from the past thirty years. Organizing pictures of gardens I enjoy has also been a joy for me, as I continue to learn about garden design and horticulture.

angel food cakes

angel food cakes
this kitchen is seasoned with love

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

fresh snap pea salad

from barefoot contessa's "how easy is that?" cookbook comes this fresh snap pea salad that is one of the best pea salad recipes around.  not only is it easy, but it is flavorful and perfect for a summer meal sandwich combo.

to make the salad:  first bring a sauce pot of water to a boil and add a splash of kosher salt.  next, fill a large bowl with ice water and have a strainer ready to use.  trim the ends from about 1 pound of sugar snap peas, and place them in the boiling water for less than one minute. remove from the water with the strainer and place immediately into the ice bath.  cool completely and then drain.  next, cut each snap pea in half lengthwise and place into the salad mixing bowl.
meanwhile, using either bacon or pancetta (i used pancetta). brown in a skillet over medium heat until brown and crisp.  drain and dry prior to adding to the salad.

next, make the vinaigrette:  whisk together 1/2 cup olive oil, with 2 tablespoons lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons champagne or white wine vinegar. 

pour over the snap peas, and add minced red onion, crumbled pancetta, 5 tablespoons fresh Romano cheese, 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper.
toss the salad well, chill and serve.

the chilling of the peas makes them very flavorful and crisp, lending a very fresh taste to this salad.  amounts can be decreased to make a smaller salad.  simply just decrease the measurements equally.

chicken reuben sandwich

summertime is a perfect time for quick meals and easy sandwiches.  here is a great Reuben sandwich with a special sauce that is tasty and easy to prepare.

another treat from Martha's everyday food magazine, which can be made in 15 minutes or less. purchase roasted chicken breast from the deli, along with a few slices of Swiss cheese, and a small package of sauerkraut.  drain and squeeze the moisture from the amount of sauerkraut that you plan to use for the sandwiches.

next, make the special sauce:  mix together 1/3 cup light mayonnaise with 2 tablespoons of ketchup.  set aside.

prepare the sandwiches with your favorite bread, adding the chicken, Swiss, kraut and sauce. broil the sandwiches or use a panini press to cook them until brown and heated.  serve 1/2 of a sandwich with a fresh summer salad for a tasty meal.

spinach frittata for one

many of my frittata recipes make an entire pan for serving 4-6 people, except for this version, which is a great meal for one.  the recipe can be easily doubled or even expanded for more, as the ingredients are easily increased.

begin by placing a 1 cup ovenproof baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet, and place in the oven.  preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  while the oven is heating, whisk together 1 large egg and 2 large egg whites.  add 1 tablespoon of grated Gruyere cheese, 2 teaspoons of milk, 1 teaspoon salt, and a pinch of ground pepper.  set aside.

in a small skillet, heat one teaspoon of olive oil and cook 1/2 small sliced shallot or onion, and cook until softened, about 2 minutes.  add 1 1/2 cups of baby fresh spinach, and cook until wilted, about 2 more minutes.  season with salt and pepper to taste.  add this mixture to the egg mixture.

remove the heated dish from the oven, and coat with cooking spray.  immediately pour the egg mixture into the dish and top with 1 tablespoon of grated cheese.

bake until the frittata is puffed up and golden brown about 15 to 18 minutes.  serve with a side salad.

i usually use a metal serving plate as the baking dish is very hot out of the oven.  the frittata will deflate a bit , but the taste is excellent. 

chocolate thumbprint cookies

there is always time for a bit of nostalgia when choosing to make a dessert.  i remember many years of chocolate thumbprint cookies purchased for my family from a small bakery in Charleston. their cookies were always so buttery and delicious.

so, i decided to try these on my own with a recipe from Martha's cookie book.  well, her recipe is splendid.  i followed the directions exactly and even baked the cookies for the exact amount of time suggested in the recipe.

these cookies are delicious and the recipe makes about 4 1/2 dozen to share with your friends.

to start:  preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  in the bowl of an electric mixer, beat 2 sticks of unsalted butter, with 1 cup of confectioner's sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 2 teaspoons of vanilla.  mix on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes.

next, mix in 2 1/2 cups of flour, beginning on low speed and then increasing.  form balls, using about 2 teaspoons of dough for each.  place 1 inch apart on the baking sheets and bake for 10 minutes.  remove them from the oven, and with a very small spoon or your thumb, make an imprint in the center of each cookie.

rotate the pans and return to the oven to bake for another 7-9 minutes more.  remove from the oven and check the thumbprints.  if they need more shaping, do that now.
cool the cookies.

to make the filling:  combine 6 ounces of semisweet chopped chocolate with 6 tablespoons of unsalted butter, and 2 teaspoons of corn syrup.  heat in a double boiler until melted and smooth.  allow to cool a bit until the mixture thickens.  next, fill the cookies with the chocolate and set aside to firm up.

cookies can be stored in single layers at room temperature for at least 3-5 days.