Monday, July 25, 2011

Jax Approved! New recipes from the farm.

Last week during the incredible, awful, ridiculous heat - I escaped the safe haven of my completely air conditioned apartment to drive through New York City traffic to go sit outside. Sounds crazy - perhaps a little bit - but fortunately I was sitting pool side in the shade at my friend's apartment. Aside from the pool being 90 degrees it was delightful.

Since my mother told me never to show up empty handed I decided to make go ahead a few recipes to bring with me. They are jax - approved and a good addition to anyone trying to find something to do with summer veggies. I would advise grilling unfortunately we (Billy and I) have failed once again to be timely in getting a grill - if you know us we've had ceiling fans since last summer, a fireplace for the wall since last october and we've been talking about this grill since last summer - even sadder my parents gave us $500 to purchase a grill. We enjoy stowing stuff in our closet. Oh yeah, we also have 2 TVs we've yet to hang going on 2 years. Procrastination station stops in hoboken.

Big Veggie - Little Flavor
Unfortunately, while impressive huge summer zucchinis grown in gardens often lose some of their flavor so steamed or sauteed they might not make a big impression. I decided to make a lasagna replacing noodles with the big circles of zucchini from a zucchini my aunt gave me from her garden. I made a quick sauce with some canned tomatoes - however this is also a great place for a good store bought sauce. I took a roasting pan and placed sauce on the bottom then layered big slices of zuccini, sauce and mozzerella cheese and on the top both mozz and parmesan cheeses and some basil. I added a few pats of butter to brown the top and drizzled with olive oil and baked at 350 degrees for about 35-40 min until the cheese was bubbling.

Life's a Peach
But not when they go bad then it's the pits..get it? Bad joke. Last week when Billy was up at fiddle camp we met in Highland, NY on Sunday (start of the heat wave) and biked 20 miles in the awful heat around the bridge over the Hudson River and to FDR's homestead. On the way home to Jersey we stopped at a farm stand and got loads of veggies and fruit which Billy was eating before we left. But we still had some peaches so I peeled them and cubed them up and put them in a baking dish with 1/2 cup blueberries. I mixed together a 1/2 cup Bisquick, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1 cup of oats, and a few dashes of cinnamon (my mom's recipe). I combined the fruit with 1/2 the crumble topping and mixed it and then put the remaining topping over the top with a few pats of butter. That went in the oven with the lasagna for 30 minutes until brown and bubbly. Billy and I ate it post movie with vanilla ice cream we barely got home from the ice cream truck - it melts fast - non of the crumble made it to Jackie's - but it is Billy approved.

Roasted Corn
I tend to roast a lot of veggies - I love the flavor so when my 3 ears of corn were sitting in the fridge with no grill in buying sight - I decided to roast them in the oven with olive oil, salt and pepper for 35-40 minutes. I let them cool and then cut the corn from the cob. I used one ear in a roasted corn salad. On a base of baby spinach, arugula, and mixed greens I layered tomatoes, corn, 1/2 can black beans (be sure to rinse), cubed avocado, cucumbers and topped with a salad dressing of one lime's zest, 2 lime's juice, olive oil and salt and pepper. Jax approved and healthy and cheaper than Panera. If you're on the broke side and want to get together with friends - make it at home and have a food party. Have food - will travel.
For dinner that night I took the 2 remaining ears and combined with half a can of black beans (other half was in the salad), tomatoes and 1 red pepper with a lil of the lime dressing. served it with

Corona Lime Chicken
Nothing says summer like Corona, right? I've heard of chicken cooked on the beer can and once had amazing corona mussels at 10th and willow - I will recreate those one day - but I've never cooked with beer and chicken breast, which I always use since they are healthy and good for you and let's face it - easy. But, chicken is always bland and with no grill I was at a loss so we'll go with beer. I rinsed and dried the chicken and put on a lil salt and pepper, lime zest and cilantro flakes (I would use fresh but mine had died outside that day). I put the chicken in a glass baking dish, popped a corona and poured it on top. I baked it in the oven for 30 minutes at 350 and then browned it a grill pan until the outside was brown and the inside was cooked through. Having not cooked through chicken a few times I tend to cook chicken too much and always cut it open to make sure - if you are more confident - more power to you. The chicken remained moist and delicious and tasted delightfully like corona and summer. Went great with the corn salad and together with whipped sweet potatoes was a delish, healthy summer feast despite no grill. I really want a grill.

Jax Desserts - Watermelon Granita
Totally a Giada special. And a perfect dessert for a sweaty summer day or for those watching their weight - made a simple syrup. 1 cup water, 1 cup white sugar. Let that cool and combine with watermelon (I used 1 package pre-cut from the A&P) and maybe 2 tbsp mint. In the blender or Magic Bullet - blend until smooth - put in a baking dish or freezer safe plastic dish and let sit in the freezer - let sit for 3 hours then every hour use your fork to fluff it up. It looks like shaved ice. It's delicious. Jackie loved it - perfect pre-birthday dessert on a hot day.

Hope you get to tri these recipes and you enjoy them! Happy cooking!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Channeling my inner Ina

One of the perks of having some "free time" in the summer is that I am able to take day trips, including a day trip to the beach. The other day I went to meet friends in Long Beach and got to sit on the beach! Delightful!

I hate to arrive anywhere empty-handed so I brought a salad with me. My friend, Christine was a might impressed by my summer salad and asked how I came up with it. Well, here was my quick summer salad.

Strawberry Summer Salad
Need: Couscous, lemon, olive oil, S&P, 6 Large strawberries, ricotta salata cheese, mint and Basil
Cook 1 package of couscous following package instructions. Let it cool.
In a large bowl - wash and zest lemon and then juice it and add 1/4 cup olive oil and some S&P.
Add the cooled couscous and mix in with the dressing.
Hull and chop 6 large strawberries.
Chop mint and basil - bout 1/4 cup of each.
Cut ricotta salata cheese into 1/2 inch pieces.
Add remainder of ingredients to bowl - stir.
I actually made a bit more dressing in a lil bowl - lil lemon, olive oil and S&P and put that on top and gave one last stir.
Christine approved at Long Beach.

Now, when we were at the beach Christine and I talked about cooking and how infrequently she cooked because she's not sure of what recipes to use or how to "throw things together." Meanwhile I am constantly making up my own recipes or using the food network stars recipes as a base for imitation since I can't stand looking at a recipe unless it's baking.

I thought of this when I decided to cook Billy a homecoming meal today. Channeling my inner Ina I went with a roast chicken and potatoes with broccoli. Anyone who watches Ina knows that her favorite meal for Jeffrey on a Friday is a roast chicken so I went with that. I also made a side lentil salad. While I was cooking I tried to think about exactly what I was doing so I could repeat it and perhaps Christine could repeat it as well. (should she want to!)

Lentil Salad
I started off by rinsing and draining the lentil - combining 1/2 cups with 1 cup chicken broth and let it simmer for 30-40 min.
I let the lentils cool then added them to a medium bowl.
I chopped 2 tomatoes into 1 inch pieces - add them to the bowl
Chop 1/4 cup basil - add to the bowl
Chop mozzerella into 1 inch pieces and add to the bowl
Make the lemon olive oil dressing and add to the bowl - stir.

Roast Chicken
Preheat oven 400 degrees
Rinse and pat the chicken dry, removing the packet of insides
Olive oil the inside of a roast pan - add the chicken
Olive oil the chicken - it's like his sunscreen - and add S&P
Tie his little legs together and tuck in his wings (I must admit when I have no strings - sometimes I fudge this step).
Zest one lemon onto the bird and chop and squeeze half the lemon onto the chicken
Cut the other half into four and insert the four slices and fresh rosemary and thyme into the chicken.
I took a little crushed rosemary and thyme on the chicken
Add a lil chicken broth and white wine
Cook for 30 min at 400 degrees then reduce heat to 350 and cook for another 40-50min or until juices run clear.

Rosemary roasted potatoes
While you put in the chicken at 400 - you can add the potatoes.
Wash 5 large potatoes dry and put in the micro for 2 min - let them cool
Take a dish and drop some olive oil down add the potatoes
Add a little more olive oil, S&P and some fresh rosemary chopped
Mix with your hands - and put in the oven for about 30-40 mean until potatoes cooked through and brown.

Garlic Broccoli
Nothing compliments dinner like something green and billy loves broccoli.
I added a little olive oil to a pan and chopped some garlic and added that - letting it get a nice beach tan and then added the broccoli and sauteed it in the pan. I added a splash of white wine and some lemon zest and juice to the pan.
I toasted almonds - you could also use pine nuts and added them to the pan - let it get warm and put in a dish.

These recipes were delicious, sprint quick and also they allowed me to use all my home grown herbs in my garden - rosemary, thyme, basil, mint, etc.

Go ahead - tri them!