Quinoa Tacos

Quinoa Tacos

If you are looking for a delicious vegetarian alternative to beef tacos, this is a great recipe.  It uses quinoa and the traditional Mexican spices like chili powder, cumin and a little oregano.  While you are cooking the quinoa, sauté and onion and garlic and add the cooked quinoa and some salsa to make the base.  I heated tortillas and garnished the tacos with lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, avocado, fresh cilantro, and some sour cream and served it alongside a salad with a cumin-lime vinaigrette.  You could add cooked beans to the filling as well.   Click here for recipe….

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Deviled Eggs with Bay Shrimp, Tarragon and Dill

Deviled Eggs with Bay Shrimp, Fresh Tarragon and Dill

Everyone always seems to love good old fashioned Deviled Eggs when they are brought out at a party.  They are so easy to make, but quite a few details go into making them really good ~ starting first with the cooking of them.  There are so many “no fail” ways I have seen to cook hard boiled eggs, but my method is the one my mom taught me and it is to place eggs in a saucepan and cover with 2 inches of cold water and bring them to boil.  Reduce the heat to low for 12-13 minutes and immediately drain and plunge the eggs in cold water and keep changing the cold water to avoid the dreaded grey ring around the yellow yolk.  It doesn’t sound so good to say, but using older eggs is better for hard boiling because they are easier to peel.  The eggs I bought must have been very fresh and a lot of them tore and were very hard to peel which was so disappointing and I didn’t have perfect eggs for the party.  If you are finding them hard to peel, gently crack the shell all around and let them sit in cold water to help loosen the shell and ease with the peeling process.  Always keep them refrigerated after they have cooked.  You can make the filling the day before and it’s best to fill the eggs just before you serve them so they don’t get a crust on top.  To make the filling I passed them through my food mill so they were very smooth and mixed the yolks with mayonnaise, finely diced shallot, bay shrimp, Dijon mustard, fresh tarragon, dill pickles, fresh dill, and lemon zest and juice and garnished them with bay shrimp and fresh herbs.  It’s important to taste the filling for the right amount of acid, salt and pepper.   I like to put the filling in a piping bag (or plastic bag) and fill them quickly and easily right before serving them.  A good rule of thumb is about 1.5 eggs  a person.  They always seem to disappear quickly at a party.  If you have leftovers, you can make egg salad sandwiches.  Click here for the recipe….

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Chicken Shawarma Burger with Tahini-Lemon Sauce

Chicken Shawarma Burger

I love this burger!  It’s a take on the traditional Lebanese chicken shawarma which also can be beef, or lamb that is grilled on a vertical skewer rotisserie and then sliced off to put in a pita wrap.  For this version, you can take equal amounts of chicken breasts and thighs and put them in the food processor to grind them, or just buy already ground chicken.  The spices are what make this burger so interesting.  You make a paste with olive oil, allspice, cinnamon, paprika, cayenne, turmeric and fresh garlic and drizzle it over the chicken, gently mix and then form into patties.  I grilled them, but you could also sauté them in a skillet with a little olive oil.  The tahini-lemon sauce is simple to put together with tahini paste (a ground sesame seed paste), lemon zest and juice, and fresh garlic and it really adds to the exotic flavors of the burger.  I added a little arugula dressed simply with some olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper, and if I had a tomato and pickled onions, would have probably put a nice thick slice on the burger as well.  You could put the burger in a wrap or pita bread, but it was also good on a hamburger bun.  Click here for recipe….

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Spot Prawns with Garlic Butter

Spot Prawns with Garlic Butter

One of the best things about living in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, is having nice friends who bring you live spot prawn caught minutes earlier and simply cooking them quickly in butter and garlic.  I think the taste is better than lobster and it was a wonderful treat to get these prawns.  I cooked these in a skillet on the bbq so I wouldn’t smell up the house with cooked seafood.  Get the butter very hot before adding the prawns, garlic, salt and pepper and quickly sauté them for a few minutes until the shells are a bright pink.  They really don’t need anything else! Click here for the recipe….

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Black Bean Burger with Cilantro Lime Aioli

Black Bean Burger with Cilantro Lime Aioli

 

These black bean burgers are a great vegetarian or vegan option and the burgers are packed with a lot of flavor like cumin, oregano, jalapenos, red pepper, garlic, fresh cilantro, and chili powder.  What really makes these delicious is the cilantro-lime aioli that has a lot of flavor.  I used a vegan mayonnaise, but you could use any mayonnaise.  I made the mixture in the food processor and ground the oatmeal to a flour consistency and reserved it in a small bowl, and then minced the onions, jalapeno, red pepper and garlic in the processor and then sauteed them along with the spices.  I put most of the black beans in the processor and added the cooked onion mixture and added cilantro and oat flour and quickly mixed in by hand the remaining whole black beans and corn.  You can sauté the burgers in a skillet with oil or bake them on a silpat lined baking sheet.  They freeze really well if you want to make a double batch.  I garnished the burgers with the delicious cilantro-lime aioli, pickled red onions, tomatoes, lettuce and avocado.  Click here for the recipe….

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Grilled Panzanella Salad with Balsamic-Basil Vinaigrette

Grilled Panzanella Salad with Balsamic-Basil Vinaigrette

This is such a great salad to make in the summer.  It’s hearty with the bread croutons, and flavorful with all the veggies.  Some of the veggies are grilled, and some are fresh which also add to the vibrant flavor of this dish.  It’s best to start out with day old artisan bread – either a French loaf, ciabatta, or sourdough loaf and cut it into half inch slices and allow to air dry overnight.  Brush the bread slices with olive oil and sprinkle salt, pepper and set aside.  Add some olive oil, salt, pepper and fresh garlic to a bowl and add strips of zucchini, onion slices, red pepper, and yellow squash.  Toss the vegetables and grill the bread and vegetables until lightly browned.  Remove, and when cool, dice into 3/4-inch pieces.  In a salad bowl, make a vinaigrette with olive oil, honey Dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper and some fresh basil and add the cold grilled vegetables along with some halved cherry tomatoes and diced cucumber.  I julienned some fresh basil and put that in the salad and tossed it.  Right before serving, I added some arugula for a little peppery bite and some shavings of Parmesan cheese. You can make the salad several hours ahead.  Click here for the recipe….

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Watermelon “Cake”

Watermelon “Cake”

I hope you had a nice 4th of July!  I had some friends over and decided to make this watermelon “cake” as an alternative to the cupcakes and other cakes I have made for previous parties in an attempt to keep it healthy.  I said attempt – because the fresh watermelon is frosted with cream cheese frosting, but I am sure the berries balance it out and bring it back to healthy.  I cut a watermelon in the shape of a cake and tried to frost it with some cream cheese frosting.  Because the watermelon is wet, it makes it a little difficult to get perfect.  I decorated it with berries and used a star cookie cutter to make little stars threaded on skewers and decorated them with blueberries.  I kept it in the refrigerator until serving so the frosting had a better chance of sticking to the watermelon.  Everyone seemed to like it so I would say it was a success.  Click here for the recipe…

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Deviled Eggs with Pico de Gallo

Deviled Eggs with Pico de Gallo

I helped with a bridal shower and we had lots of appetizers before dinner, and it’s so funny that the good old fashioned deviled eggs always seem to be some of the first appetizers to go.  I made several varieties – Deviled Eggs with Candied Bacon, Pickled Onion and Dill Pickle, Deviled Eggs with Bay Shrimp, Fresh Tarragon, and Dill and Deviled Eggs with Pico de Gallo featured in this post.  They are easy to make but there are a few good tips to follow.  My technique to cook hard boiled eggs is to take cold eggs, place them in a pot of water, bring them to a boil, reduce the heat to low and put a timer on for 13 minutes.  After they are cooked, immediately drain and fill the pot with ice and cold water several times to avoid the green ring around the yolks.  They can be hard boiled several days ahead and refrigerated.  It’s actually better to use older eggs if you want them to peel easier and not get ripped apart when you are taking the shell off.  I cut them in half and place the yolks in a bowl to make the filling and then place them in a piping bag with a star tip to easily fill the eggs.  The filling can be made the day before, and they are best to fill them shortly before you are going to serve them.  Click here for the recipe….

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Ravioli Lasagna Casserole

Ravioli Lasagna

This lasagna casserole can be made entirely from store bought products and put together quickly.  You can use any fresh ravioli you want to change the flavor up and use a cheese ravioli if you want a vegetarian dish.  Buy a good quality gourmet marinara sauce, and a bag of mixed Italian cheeses, and you are on your way to making this easy dish.  I sautéed an onion and garlic and added it to the marina sauce and had some fresh basil that I tore up and added to the sauce, but you don’t even have to do that.  Just layer some marinara sauce in the bottom of a casserole dish, add a layer of the uncooked ravioli, some cheese and keep layering and sprinkle some cheese on the top.  Drizzle about one cup of water around the inside of the baking dish to help the ravioli cook and bake until brown and bubbly.  It’s a great dinner to take and bake if you are in a vacation home and need something easy to make.  Click here for the recipe….

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Catfish Piccata and Fresh Fettuccine with Spinach

Catfish Piccata and Fresh Fettuccine with Spinach

This is a quick 15 minute dinner and the fresh pasta only takes about 3-4 minutes to cook. It’s light, fresh and full of flavor with the lemon zest and juice.  I lightly floured the catfish and pan seared it with some butter and olive oil and cooked it on both sides.  Then I put it on a plate and wrapped some foil over while I continued with the dish.  I added a little butter to the skillet and added some garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, rosemary and a tiny pinch of red pepper flakes before I added the spinach and a little rice vinegar for a kick.  Reserve some of the pasta water, and when the pasta is cooked, add it to the skillet and mix well.  Drizzle with some of the pasta water if the pasta seems a bit dry and serve the catfish over the pasta with a little sprinkle of the remaining rosemary and a wedge of lemon.  You could also use Dover sole, tilapia or cod. Click here for the recipe….

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