Sunday, August 24, 2014

Watermelon, Basil & Feta Salad

As a kid, I always put salt on my watermelon.  Not sure who I learned it from but I love the combination of sweet and salty.  This feta cheese creates the same sweet and salty flavor in this delicious summer salad.  I added a drizzle of balsamic vinegar glaze.  Yum!

Watermelon, Basil & Feta Salad

1 small seedless watermelon (or 1/4 of a large one)
1/2 of a red onion (I omitted this)
16 leaves fresh basil
1/4 cup (2 ounces crumbled Feta
2 tablespoons e.v. olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
 Balsamic Vinegar Glaze

Cut the watermelon in half. Using a large spoon, scoop out bite-size pieces of the watermelon and add to a large bowl or platter (you should get about 8 cups).
Slice the onion into thin half moons and scatter over the watermelon. Then scatter the basil leaves over the top.
Crumble the Feta over the salad. Drizzle with the oil, lime juice, balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with the salt and pepper (about 6 turns on pepper mill).

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Say what you will about social media.  You either love or hate it.  Either way, it's amazing what it's done to promote the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

ALS  hits close to home at our house, my husband lost his Father to ALS.  I'd given little thought to whether or not I would take the challenge .... until Monday morning.  I received an email with an urgent subject line from the administrative assistant for the COO where I work.  Those are the ones you open quickly.  Turns out our COO had been challenged by a couple of companies to take the challenge and he was looking for some associates to join him.  Luckily for us, it was a hot August day in Nebraska and we were taking the challenge at 3:00 in the afternoon.  Unluckily for us, the ice water was being dispensed by a firetruck.  As it turns out the water wasn't that cold but it went on for what seemed like FOREVER!!  Despite being soaked, it was fun and I'm glad I did it.


I challenged my husband and three good friends.  It's been a fun week watching everyone pass it on.  
In addition to the challenge and the fun, it's important to not to forget to donate. 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Pasta with Brown Butter and Kale

I wish we lived somewhere where fresh local veggies were available year round.   Unfortunately Omaha, Nebraska is not that place. We've been members of a CSA for the past four years. As the time nears, I look so forward to our first basket and the season draws to a close, I am sad.

For the past two years our CSA basket has come from Camp Creek Acres. Matt and Matt are the farmer's behind this great farm. They practice chemical free farming.  Each year their operation grows.  This year they paired up with a local dairy farm, Chisholm Family Farm and offered a cheese share to go along with our produce. 

I like to cook from the fridge this time of year.  What to do I have and what can I make?  Kale, feta cheese and always pasta.  Whenever I can make a pasta dish without using a heavy sauce, I do so.  How about nutty brown butter, a little pasta water and the feta cheese? The end result, a delicious summery pasta! 

 Pasta with Brown Butter and Kale
  • 8 ounces uncooked pasta (I used penne)
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 3 cup packed kale, stems and ribs removed
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup pasta water
  • salt and pepper
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil, add pasta then cook according to package directions. Once there is 3 minutes left until the pasta is done, add the kale. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup for the sauce.
  2. Add butter to a heavy-bottomed frying pan and melt, while occasionally swirling the pan, over medium-low heat. Continue to swirl the pan until the butter starts to darken in color. You are looking for a light brown, the butter will smell nutty. Watch the butter closely, the butter can burn quite easily.
  3. Once the butter has browned, add pasta and kale, toss with the crumbled feta cheese. Serve warm.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Spicy Zucchini Stix

Can you believe it's August?  Where did summer go?  And how about the year?  Don't you wish we had a way to slow down time?  One event that I'm glad comes around each month is Secret Recipe Club.  Not familiar with SRC?  You can find the details here!

This month I am honored to be assigned Miz Helen of Miz Helen's Country Blogspot.  Miz Helen has 7 children, 12 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren.  She is a cookbook author, former business owner, art and Bible teacher.  Check out her blog and her Full Plate Tuesday party!!!

Zucchini season is here and who doesn't love Zucchini Stix?  I was tempted by Miz Helen's addition of cumin and chipotle powder to the crumbs in these Spicy Zucchini Stix!  Instead of traditional marinara sauce for dipping, you use salsa!  I used some of my salsa for dipping but you can the link to  Miz Helen's recipe below!

Spicy Zucchini Stix
2 to 3 medium Zucchini cut into strips
2 egg whites
1 whole egg
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 cup Panko Crumbs
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon Chipotle chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
Olive Oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Wash the Zucchini and cut into 1/2 inch X 3 inch strips
Place the strips onto a layer of paper towels and generously sprinkle with salt, set aside
This process will allow the extra moisture to be pulled out of the Zucchini
Next, in a medium bowl  mix the flour, Panko crumbs, cumin, Chipotle chili powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper together
In a medium bowl whip the egg whites and the whole egg with 1/4 cup water until mixed well
With a paper towel pat the tops of the Zucchini strips until the moisture has been removed
For the breading process, take just a few at a time so you get really good coverage on all sides
Drop several strips into the egg mixture and then into the flour and panko mixture
Generously oil a baking sheet with olive oil 
Place the breaded strip onto a well oiled baking sheet making sure that each strip has room and is not touching the other strip
Bake uncovered for 20 minutes then turn the squash strips and continue to cook another 15 to 20 minutes until lightly browned
Remove from the oven and let cool for 30 minutes before serving
Serve with Salsa



Sunday, August 3, 2014

Outrageously Easy Corn on the Cob

Nothing says summer like an ear of corn on the cob.  Here in the Midwest we are lucky enough to enjoy the bi color variety of this summer treat.  The traditional way to prepare corn on the cob, boiling on the stove,  is the best but creates a lot of heat and humidity into the kitchen.  Sometimes we leave the corn in the husk, soak it in water and put it on the grill.  To me this way is never as juicy as the traditional method.  When I saw this method of cooking it in the crock pot, I was skeptical but decided to give it a try.

The end result?  A delicious, sweet and juicy ear of corn.  Perfect for a hot summer night or  a summer BBQ.   

8-10 Cobs of Sweet Corn, Husked
1/3 Cup Water
Butter to taste
Pour water in bottom of large slow cooker.  Butter cobs thoroughly, place in slow cooker.  Cover and cook on low for approx. 3 hours.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Lemon Blueberry Trifle

Weren't lemon and blueberries just meant for each other?  I think so!  In search of a light dessert for a summer evening, I chose this Lemon Blueberry Trifle.  My favorite part of this dessert is the addition of the grated white chocolate chips.  Oh and in case you're wondering, how to grate chocolate chips? Use a hand crank grater that is often used for cheese, it works perfectly!

The original recipe was designed for a trifle dish, I used individual glasses instead.   This is a light yet, delicious summer dessert recipe!!

 Lemon Blueberry Trifle

  • 1 loaf (16 Oz. Size) Frozen Prepared Pound Cake (I used angel food)
  • 1 whole Lemon, Zested And Juiced
  • 8 ounces, weight Sour Cream (I used greek yogurt)
  • 1-½ cup Milk
  • 8 ounces, weight Cool Whip, Thawed And Divided
  • 2 packages (3.4 Oz. Size) Lemon Instant Pudding
  • 2 pints Fresh Blueberries
  • ½ cups White Chocolate Chips, Divided


Cut pound cake into 1-inch cubes. Place in a large bowl. Zest lemon and set aside zest. Juice lemon over the pound cake, stirring and watching for seeds.
In a medium bowl, combine sour cream, milk, half of the whipped topping and reserved lemon zest. Whisk until smooth, then add pudding mixes. Blend until mixture begins to thicken.
Wash and dry blueberries, setting aside 20 or so for garnish.
To assemble, in your trifle bowl layer 1/3 of the cake, 1/3 of the blueberries. Grate white chocolate chips generously over the blueberry layer.  Top with 1/3 of the pudding mixture. Spread evenly and repeat layers 2 more times. Reserve 1/4 cup white chocolate chips for garnish.
Pipe remaining Cool Whip onto the top of the trifle and decorate with reserved blueberries. Grate a bit more white chocolate on top, then sprinkle with remaining white chocolate chips, left whole.
Refrigerate 30 minutes or more before serving. This trifle can be made the day before.  

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Spent Grain Dog Biscuits

We've started brewing beer here at our house.  Along with our neighbors, we attended a beer brewing class and decided to take the plunge.  Our first brew, a Summer Ale .

One of our favorite breweries here in town serves pizza and the dough is made with the spent grain.  Spent grain is the leftover grains used in brewing their beer.  We had four cups from our first batch.  Curious if I could freeze the grains?  A google search showed, yes freezing is an option. That's a good thing,  because after brewing, trust me, you're too tired to bake.  I divided it into four one cup packages and put it in the freezer.

There's lots of recipes out there to use the spent grain.  I do want to make a loaf of bread but on this particular day, I was making a loaf of bread already.  (Which by the way, was somewhat of a fail, so no post about the bread).  I decided to give Spent Grain Dog Biscuits a try.

These were quick and easy to make.  Baking them takes the longest.  If you don't mind a softer dog biscuit, you don't have to bake them quite as long.  The original poster said, she wasn't responsible for the dogs who go crazy about the biscuits!!  I did a half recipe and it still made a lot of biscuits.  We shared them with some friends and Tim shared them with his coworkers.  Our dog Copper loves them and is thrilled about the new hobby of his owners.

 Spent Grain Dog Biscuits
Recipe courtesy of 17 Apart

  • 4 cups spent grain
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour ( I used white flour)
  • 1 cup natural peanut butter
  • 2 eggs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, combine and mix each of the ingredients thoroughly until a thick dough forms:

The mixture is very sticky at this stage, but added flour as needed to help roll into a ball. It will stick to your fingers but will harden up and become easier to work with the more you work with it

 Roll out the dough on a generously floured surface and cut out shapes with cookie cutters, lining them up on baking sheets. No greasing was necessary for the baking sheets.

If you don't have cookie cutters or want a more natural shape you can cut the dough with a knife, or use spoons to create drop cookies.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, then reduce temperature to 225 degrees and continue baking for 2 hours. Cooking them the additional time at the lower temperature will help ensure they dry completely, extending their shelf life.  The treats will keep about two weeks at room temperature, longer if frozen.