July 22, 2014

Oh summer…the time of the year for fresh, light, and bright food items. There is so much produce in season, and it truly a time when I get creative in the kitchen. Or in this case: on the grill! Summer grilling: it’s a must! Today, I’m sharing a recipe for an easy to make grilled corn salsa. It’s full of color and flavor and is oh so versatile for your summer meals!

Grilled Corn Salsa

I have to be honest: I LOVE corn on the cob…but I hate eating it ON the cob. I always end up with corn kernels stuck between my teeth and it will bother me for hours on end. I was the girl who always had her mom cut the corn off of the cob for her as a child. And I still do it to this day. It can kind of be a process as well – running the knife down the side of the cob, the corn kernels cascading off and falling everywhere – some on the plate, some on the counter, some on the floor. I am notorious for making a mess when it comes to stripping corn. However, OXO’s corn stripper tool is a godsend! Not only does it run through the corn easily, it has a compartment to catch all of the kernels as they are stripped from the cob – all you have to do is dump the container into a bowl. My life just got a whole lot easier.

And can we talk about the amazingness of grilled corn? It is my all time favorite way to prepare it; the char from the grill adds such awesome flavor (and great color too). You can use any color you desire – I am personally partial to the bi-color variety. A quick brush of olive oil with OXO’s silicone basting brush, a sprinkling of salt and pepper, and a few turns with your OXO 16″ grill tongs once they hit the grill, and you’re on your way to grilled corn salsa goodness!

Grilled Corn Salsa

I decided to create a large batch of salsa this time around – it yielded about 3 cups in the end. Why, you ask? Because I have oh so many plans for this salsa. Today, I’m dipping into it with corn tortilla chips (classic – yum!). Later this week,  I’m going to share another recipe for a healthy and delicious Sunday Supper. Annnnd I even have a third easy weekday supper recipe in the works after that. So – stay tuned…you’ll be seeing much more of this salsa in the future!

This salsa is super easy to customize to your personal tastes as well. If you aren’t a fan of spice, leave out the jalapeno (you could even replace with bell pepper). Or, take it up a notch with even spicier peppers. If you plan on eating the salsa all in one sitting, some diced avocado mixed in would be delectable! Oh, the possibilities!

Have you made your own salsa? What do you add to yours?

Grilled Corn Salsa

Grilled Corn Salsa

Ingredients

  • 4 ears corn
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup red onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, diced
  • 14.5 oz petite diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  • Juice from 1/2 of a lime
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat your grill to medium/medium-high heat. Clean the ears of corn and brush lightly with the olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place ears of corn on the grill and cook on all sides for about 6-8 minutes, using grill tongs to turn the ears occasionally. Remove corn from the grill and place on a platter to cool.
  2. When the corn has cooled, use a corn stripping tool (or knife) to strip the kernels from the corn. Add to a large bowl along with the red onion, jalapeno, diced tomatoes, and cilantro. Squeeze the juice from 1/2 of a lime over the top of the mixture, along with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Stir thoroughly to incorporate all ingredients. Refrigerate until ready to serve!
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July 17, 2014

Are there some treats from your childhood that always bring back amazing memories? For me, there are some “pre-packaged” cookies that I indulged in years ago and still think of fondly as an adult. Oatmeal creme pies…those chocolate cupcakes with the swirl on top and white cream filling inside…and Fig Newtons. Creating homemade Fig Newtons has been an item on my “foodie bucket list” for a while now, so I needed to make it happen.

Homemade Fig Newtons

Here’s the funny thing: I enjoyed Fig Newtons as a child, but if you put a real fig in front of me there is no way I would ever have eaten one. No way, Jose. And I do have to admit: I still don’t eat them whole as an adult. I love them when they are a component of a dish, but not by themselves. A flatbread with figs, arugula, and goat cheese? Yes please. Figs dipped in chocolate on a tart? I’ll take a slice gladly.

Homemade Fig Newtons

But oh, if I could recreate a homemade Fig Newton at home, that would be grand. As luck would have it, Justin’s parents happen to have a fig tree in their backyard. Convenient, eh? The bounty of fresh figs definitely varies year to year; last year was a bit meager…but this year the tree is exploding with fruit. Of course, the birds also happen to adore figs so there is a constant fight to see who gets to them first. Those stinking birds have a tendency to peck a hole in a fig and then leave it to move on to the next one. What a waste. We were lucky enough to yield a nice bunch of figs the last time we visited my in-laws’ house, so I knew the time had finally come for my homemade Fig Newton dream to become a reality.

Homemade Fig Newtons

I scoured the Internet for recipe inspiration and tips. I have to say: there are a ton of different recipes out there, so it became a bit of a task to sift through and see where elements differed or were the same. Some simply cooked down the figs in water to make the filling. Some included an exorbitant amount of sugar in the filling. The list goes on. In the end, I created my own recipe and crossed my fingers my instincts were right with the proportions. Go figure. I live dangerously.

Homemade Fig Newtons

The result? Oh my goodness. I used the oh so genius tip on Food52 to slice the warm cookies and place them in a zippered bag to steam in order to give them that soft baked quality everyone loves. Best idea ever. The cookies are soft and chewy. The cookie itself is not super sweet, but the fig filling adds that touch of sweetness. The fig seeds add extra texture as well. I am lucky to have had any cookies left to take pictures to share – Justin and my family ended up devouring the entire batch in record speed. They have already requested a second batch. Ok. I’ll take that as a positive review!

14 Hands Riesling 2013

Although I enjoy noshing on these treats throughout the day, they do make a nice end to the day as a dessert. I paired my plate of homemade Fig Newtons with a fresh Riesling from 14 Hands Vineyards. I found the light yet sweet flavors to be a delicious complement to the figs…and it’s great for the summer season as well!

Have you tried to recreate a childhood treat? What did you make?

 

Homemade Fig Newtons

Ingredients

  • 1 lb fresh figs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp orange juice

Instructions

  1. First, prepare the fig filling. Slice the stems off of each fig and cut them into quarters (or small pieces). Add to a pot with sugar, water, honey, and cinnamon over medium heat. Simmer for 40 min, stirring occasionally until fig mixture cooks down to a dark hued color with a paste consistency. I turned my heat down to medium-low after 20 minutes to avoid burning my mixture; at that point it had darkened and thickened quite a bit. Just make sure to keep an eye on it as it cooks!
  2. When the mixture is finished cooking, use an immersion blender or food processor to pulse until consistency is smooth throughout. Allow mixture to cool fully. If the filling is still a bit too runny to spread, stir in a tablespoon of flour at a time until it reaches the consistency you desire. Refrigerate until you are ready to make the cookies.
  3. For the cookies, combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Mix together and set aside.
  4. Meanwhile, cream the butter and sugar with a blender. Then, add the egg, vanilla, and orange juice. When those ingredients are incorporated, begin adding the bowl of dry ingredients until a cookie dough forms.
  5. Remove dough from the bowl and place it on a large sheet of plastic wrap. Press dough into a flat disc shape, then cover and refrigerate overnight (or at least 4 hours+).
  6. When the dough has been fully chilled, preheat the oven to 325° F, then remove the dough from the refrigerator. Slice the dough into four equal pieces. Place one piece onto a heavily floured sheet of parchment paper and the three remaining pieces should be returned to the refrigerator. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out to about 1/4" thick, 4 inches wide, and 12 inches long, making sure the dough is floured liberally and can be released from the parchment. It will become sticky very quickly, so you have to work somewhat fast!
  7. Spoon the fig filling into a zippered sandwich bag. Snip the tip off of one corner, then pipe 1/4 of the filling down the center of the dough strip. Fold up the sides of the dough to close over the top of the filling, and press the ends together to close them up. Carefully roll the log of dough to be seam side down on a parchment lined baking sheet, then place the sheet in the refrigerator.
  8. Repeat the rolling and filling process with the remaining three pieces of dough, then bake the filled dough for 30 minutes, until the dough turns golden brown and is not tacky to the touch. Remove from the oven and allow the cookies to rest for 3-5 minutes.
  9. Before the cookies cool fully, slice the cookie dough logs into rectangular slices, then place the cookies into a gallon sized zippered bag and close it. This allows the cookies to steam and attain the soft baked texture.
  10. Enjoy!
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July 13, 2014

Happy Sunday everyone!

Today, I have the pleasure of sharing an oh so delicious ice cream treat I created in conjunction with Ice Cream Social, happening over on The Kitchen Prep this week!

ice cream social coconut macaroon ice cream pie

For my contribution of frozen goodness, I combined two of my favorite sweets: coconut macaroons and ice cream. The final result was a Coconut Macaroon Ice Cream Pie. It’s good. It’s really good. I’m biased, but please believe me.

Make sure you head over to The Kitchen Prep for the full recipe today!

Also, we have a lovely giveaway running for our Ice Cream Social week – make sure you enter to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

July 9, 2014
I don’t know about you, but these hot summer days definitely have me thinking about ways to keep cool and refreshed! I can go for ice cream, tons of ice water, the occasional soda…but I also like to enjoy a yummy cocktail every now and then as well! And wouldn’t you know it – a grapefruit cosmo definitely seems perfect in my book!
Grapefruit Cosmo
Ordinarily, I tend to be a “plain” vodka buyer; I add flavor to my cocktails with other ingredients. But I have managed to fall in love with a few flavored vodkas over the course of time. I discovered my penchant for this pink grapefruit vodka when a local grocery store went out of business a while ago. As luck would have it, not only was the entire store filled with food on sale, so was the wine, beer, and liquor. Whoa! All of the “plain” bottles were snatched off of the shelves without haste, but there were flavored versions left when I went by. It was then that I picked up my very first bottle of pink grapefruit vodka. I figured: hey – it’s 50% off – why not give it a try?
Grapefruit Cosmo
I’m so glad I did. I love the tart flavor of the grapefruit vodka – there are also hints of ginger and other citrus alongside it. For me, it’s the perfect summertime cocktail ingredient. And when you use it for a grapefruit cosmo, you can’t go wrong. I love the simplicity of the cosmopolitan; I almost always have all of the ingredients necessary to create one in my home at any given time. Other than a simple mixed drink or pouring a glass of wine, it doesn’t get much easier. Now, if only I could get my butt in gear to buy myself a new cocktail shaker. I’ve been meaning to replace my current one for a while now, but for some reason it always gets away from me…
Do you have a favorite cocktail to concoct during the summer season? What is it?
Grapefruit Cosmo
Grapefruit Cosmo

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 oz pink grapefruit vodka
  • 1/2 oz triple sec
  • 1 oz cranberry juice
  • Juice from 1/4 lime

Instructions

  1. Add vodka, triple sec, cranberry juice, and lime juice in a cocktail shaker filled with ice.
  2. Shake cocktail vigorously for 15-20 seconds.
  3. Strain into a martini glass and serve with a wedge of lime to garnish (if desired) - enjoy!
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