Sunday, July 5, 2020

Berry Caprese Salad with Chicken Quesadillas

You would've  had to be there to fully appreciate the stunning moon/fireworks display over the lake last night. My phone camera did not do "justice " to its splendor. 
A full July moon in North America is often called the Buck Moon, Thunder Moon or Hay Moon. At this time of year, buck deer begin to grow velvety antlers, while farmers are working to put hay in their barns, and trying to avoid the summer season’s frequent thunder showers. Of course here in Minnesota, we are just trying to stay cool. 

Here are some really easy food ideas. One requires no cooking.
  Berry Caprese Salad (Red White and Blue)
Cook's Notes: The perfect side to a BBQ meal. 
Cooking Tip: Refrigerate mixed fruits in a bowl until serving. Add mozzarella pearls and drizzle with balsamic just before serving. Garnish with fresh basil. 
Ingredients:
  • Diced strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Blueberries
  • Mozzarella Pearls (balls found in deli) 
  • Dark Balsamic Vinegar good quality (I used Chocolate Balsamic) 
  • Fresh basil
Directions: 
  • Mix fruits, mozzarella pearls and drizzle with balsamic. 
Chicken Quesadillas with Caprese Berry Salad
Cook's Notes: I raided the refrig for this meal. I used leftover chicken, sweet peppers. onions and cheese. You could be even more creative by adding in diced avocados and tomatoes, black beans, corn or whatever you have on hand. The quesadillas were served with salsa. LOL it was so hot outside as I was trying to get a photo, the salsa kept sliding off the lettuce! I used the griddle part of my panini maker but a fry pan works just as well. 
This was the perfect amount for 2 for lunch.   
Ingredients:
  • Cooked chicken slices or pieces
  • Red and yellow mini sweet peppers
  • Onions
  • Grated Colby Jack cheese (cheddar would work too) 
  • 6 inch flour tortillas
  • Olive oil
Directions:
  • Stir fry onions and peppers in a little olive oil. Add in chicken pieces to warm them up. 


  • Heat pan that has been lightly greased.  Place chicken mixture on one half of tortilla. 


  • Fold other half over and cook until warm, cheese melts and toasted on both sides. 



Saturday, July 4, 2020

Flag Special Old Fashioned Brownies

There's nothing like a pan of quintessential good old fashioned brownies to add to your 4th of July celebration. Enjoy the day!
Cook's notes: This recipe comes from Taste of Home Magazine. It's so easy to put together using only one bowl for preparation. Some optional add-ins include: nuts, chocolate chips, sprinkles and Kahlua or Amaretto. The frosting is enough for 2 pans (8 x 8) of brownies. Freeze half and next go around you are all set! How good is that.
Brownie Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup baking cocoa
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1/3 cup chopped nuts
  • 1/2 cup mini or regular semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
  • Optional: 1 TB. Kahlua or Amaretto
Brownie Directions:
  • Line a 8 x 8 glass pan with foil that has been greased. Make sure edges of foil extend over the sides and corners are creased inwards. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a large bowl beat sugar, eggs and vanilla for 3-5 minutes to increase the volume. Beat in melted butter with Kahlua or Amaretto if using, mix well.
  • With a whisk combine the flour, salt, cocoa espresso powder and baking powder. Add to butter/egg/sugar mixture and mix well 
  • Fold in nuts and chips,pour into the prepared pan. Bake for 22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out of center clean.
  • Cool brownies in pan for 10 minutes, then use foil edges to lift brownies out and place foiled brownies on a wire rack to cool. 

Frosting Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2-1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 TB. Kahlua or Amaretto
Frosting Directions:
  • In a saucepan add milk, sugar, butter and chips.
  • Over medium heat bring to a boil stirring frequently. Reduce heat and simmer 3 minutes
  • Remove pan from stove, stir in powdered sugar and vanilla. Use a mixer and beat until smooth, add more milk if necessary for correct consistency.
  • Add in Kahlua or Amaretto if using.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Buttermilk Pecan Waffles with Cherry-Apple Chutney

Top your waffles with Cherry-Apple Chutney
Cook's Notes: Cherry-Apple Chutney elevates your waffles to a whole new level. Fresh cherries simmered with apples and spices make this meal shine. Buttermilk waffles are as easy to prepare as regular waffles and offer an exceptional taste.  The chutney is also a delicious side for grilled entrees or served over warmed Brie with crackers.  
Cooking Tip: Frozen cherries not thawed can substitute for fresh cherries.
Cherry-Apple Chutney
Recipe adapted from cuisineathome August 2020
Ingredients:
  • 2 cups frozen or fresh cherries
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • 1 large crisp firm apple, peeled and diced e.g. Honeycrisp
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice or water mixed with 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoon minced tarragon or 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Pecans
Directions:
  • Simmer cherries in a saucepan with red onion, diced apples, brown sugar and mustard. Heat until cherries plump up. Add in cornstarch with water or orange juice and cook on low until thickened, 2-3 minutes. 
  • Stir in vinegar and tarragon, season with salt and pepper and cook 1 minutes longer.
  • Serve at room temperature.  Top with a sprinkle of pecans.
Buttermilk Pecan Waffles
Cook's Notes: For those waffle purists, I photographed a traditional route; waffles with bacon and syrup. These classic buttermilk waffles are easy to make and come out fluffy and crisp each and every time. It’s a must-have recipe for turning an ordinary morning into something extra-special
Cooking Tip: To crisp up leftover waffles, toast each quarter. 
Recipes makes 6-7 waffles and was adapted from Taste of Home.
Ingredients:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder 
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons chopped pecans
Directions:
  • In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, cinnamon and salt; set aside.
  • In a large bowl, beat eggs until light. Add buttermilk; mix well. Add dry ingredients and beat until batter is smooth. Stir in butter.
  • Pour about 3/4 cup batter onto a lightly greased preheated waffle maker. Sprinkle with a few pecans. Bake according to manufacturer's directions until golden brown. Repeat with remaining batter and pecans.
ALERT and HEADS UP: Blogger (part of Google) is making huge changes to their site in July and so far the reviews I've read are quite concerning, especially the part about accessing photos from one's photo gallery and resizing. I am not sure what to anticipate this month as I have been perfectly satisfied with the site the past 10 years with some 4,000 posts during that time. Would be difficult to make a switch. So we shall see how this all unfolds.  

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

It's All About the Cherry

The Bing Cherry season is back in full swing. They're sweet, delicious and perfect for a variety of summer recipes. My cherry pit tool is ready to take on any cherry recipe. 
Since their cultivation in the 1870s, Bing cherries have become the most popular of North American cherries, surpassing every other kind. Their deep red color of the cherries, and  consistently sweet taste make them a standout for a variety of recipe or snacking. Bing cherries are still true to their home roots, with the largest cherry producers on the Pacific coast states. Their season is relatively short.
Well you can breathe a sigh of relief if don't have a cherry picker as frozen cherries all pitted

for your convenience makes this crisp easy to put together. 
Skillet Cherry-Almond Crisp 
Recipes serves 2-3 and adapted from Cook's Country August/September 2016 
Ingredient Spotlight:Frozen sweet dark cherries are the backbone of this crisp but a handful of dried cherries added, punches up the cherry flavor with a concentrated sweetness and intense fruitiness. No need to thaw frozen cherries.  
Cooking Tips: Topping ingredients can be prepared ahead. If using fresh cherries increase the water from 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup.

Topping Ingredients:
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup dry oatmeal (old fashioned or quick) 
  • 1 tablespoon each white sugar and brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla 
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2-1/2  tablespoons melted butter
Topping Directions:
  • Use a whisk to combine all ingredients except butter. Add in melted butter and use hands or pastry cutter to mix in butter. Mixture should resemble wet sand and no dry flour remains. Set aside.
  • In an 8-9 inch skillet over medium-low toast almonds, about 3 minutes. 
  • Add in topping mixtures, cook stirring constantly, until lightly browned. Transfer to a plate to cool.   
Filling Ingredients:
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 10 oz. frozen or fresh sweet dark cherries  (about 3 cups) 
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon each vanilla and almond extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup dried cherries
  • Optional (but highly suggested) 1 teaspoon cherry brandy
Filling Directions:
  • Combine 1-1/2 teaspoons sugar and cornstarch. Set aside. 
  • In the same skillet, wiped clean, combine cherries,water, lemon juice, vanilla and almond extract, salt and rest of sugar.
  • Cook on low heat covered until cherries thaw, release their juices and mixture begins to simmer 4-5 minutes. Stir halfway through cooking. 
  • Uncover and stir in dried cherries and simmer 2 minutes.
  • Stir in cornstarch mixture and cook until thickened, about 40 seconds. Mix in cherry brandy if using. 
  • Remove pan from heat. Sprinkle topping evenly over cherry filling. Return pan to a medium low heat until filling is bubbling around the edges, about 1 minute.  
  • Serve warm and a small scoop of ice cream is just the piece de resistance!
Cherry-Apple Chutney

Monday, June 29, 2020

Meet Minnesota Author Pat Dennis

NAC 2020 VIRTUAL AUTHOR TOUR
MEET MINNESOTA AUTHOR PAT DENNIS
Pat Dennis is an award-winning author whose work appear in magazines such as Minnesota Public Radio’s Minnesota Monthly, Woman’s World and the Pioneer Press. She is the author of numerous novels and short stories published in various anthologies. Pat worked as a stand-up comedian for over twenty years with over one thousand performances at comedy clubs, Fortune 500 companies, women’s expos, and special events. She has appeared at the same venues as Lewis Black, Phyllis Diller, and David Brenner. Pat is known for her wacky and often twisted view on life.

Some of her books include:
THE BETTY CHANCE MYSTERY SERIES

The series includes the "Murder by Chance" (set in Minnesota), "Killed by Chance" (set in Mississippi) "Dead by Chance" (set in Deadwood, South Dakota), and " Vegas by Chance"(set in Las Vegas.) 
Book One "Murder By Chance"
Synopsis: At fifty, Betty is unemployed, divorced and penniless after her husband left her for a fatter, older woman. But with her stunningly beautiful niece Lori, she opens Take A Chance Tours, specializing in gaming junkets. The perky, effervescent, and ex-con tour bus driver Tillie adds to the fun of discovering not only jackpots at every casino but a dead body or two. Betty puts her amateur sleuth skills to work to solve the mystery. 

"KILL ME! MY HUSBAND’S RETIRED"

Pat Dennis created and wrote this fun coloring book for reluctant adults "Kill Me! My Husband’s Retired". 
Synopsis:Twenty tongue-in-cheek, stress-relieving, single-sided pages to color, rip out and crumple into a ball, stomp on...whatever you need to do to relieve your stress now that your husband is retired.

"FAT OLD WOMAN IN LAS VEGAS: Gambling, Dieting and Wicked Fun"

Synopsis: Pat’s ability to takes an honest and often hilarious look at aging, declining health, out-of-control gambling and a myriad of neuroses, make this an inspiring, funny and enjoyable read. After fighting off physical indignities that would keep a lesser woman in her recliner, she sets out on a solo journey by car, train and Greyhound bus, to experience the loves of her life—Las Vegas, gambling and all-you-can eat buffets.

Pat can be found these days hiding in her basement until the pandemic is over, working on her website patdennis.com. In fact, her latest short story, "Snackers" concerns our new normal we face today. The story will be released shortly and Pat will announce the day of its publication on her Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/pat.dennis.1481) and/ or at patdennis.com

Send your email address to penurypress@hotmail.com and Pat will add your name to her sporadic newsletter for updates. All of Pat Dennis's books and short stories can be purchased through Once Upon A Crime independent bookstore in Minneapolis or online at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Northwoods Art and Book Festival 2018
(little known fact Pat has been a participant at every NAC Art and Book Festival since it started) 

Sunday, June 28, 2020

4th of July BBQ

WEEKEND ROUND-UP Part Two: Grilled with Sides
Add some sizzle to your 4th of July festivities with Hawaiian Sweet and Sour Chicken Kabobs and White Chocolate Lemon Cheesecakes Tartlets when a small bite will do.

Hawaiian Sweet and Sour Chicken Kabobs 
Cook's Notes: Recipe makes 6 large kabobs and was inspired from carlsbadcravings.com
The meal was paired with Parmesan risotto but basmati or brown rice would be other options. If using wooden skewers be sure to submerge in water for 30 minutes before threading on meat, fruit and veggies. Grilled fresh pineapple was a shining star in this meal. Fresh grilled corn the perfect side for this meal.
Cooking Tips: Partially freeze chicken for easier cutting. I grilled kabobs on foil just in case some of chicken pieces, fruit and veggies might fall through the grate. Do not use fresh pineapple juice for marinade as it contains the enzyme bromelain which could leave chicken mushy. In canned pineapple the bromelain is extracted so juice will infuse your chicken with flavor without becoming mushy.

Ingredients:
  • 1 lb. skinless chicken breasts, cut in large chunks
  • 2 cups Roma tomatoes (they are firmer)
  • 2 cups peppers red and yellow cut in large chunks
  • 2 cups red onions cut in large chunks
  • 2 cups fresh pineapple. cut in large chunks Sweet and Tangy Marinade/Glaze Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup canned pineapple juice
  • 3 tablespoons each red wine vinegar, brown sugar, ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon each garlic powder, ginger powder, red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
Directions: 
  • Prep chicken, veggies and pineapple-set aside.
  • In a glass measuring cup add pineapple juice, red wine vinegar, brown sugar, ketchup, garlic, ginger powder and pepper flakes and mix well.  
  • Add 1/3 cup marinade and chicken pieces to a zip loc bag. Seal bag and place in a bowl. Refrigerate 2 hours.
  • In a small saucepan add remaining marinade and cornstarch. Whisk and cook on low heat until thick. Use this mixture to glaze kabobs during grilling time.
  • Thread skewers alternating with chicken pieces, pineapple, onions, peppers and tomatoes. Grill about 12 minutes on a side, turn and grill 12 minutes more. 
White Chocolate Lemon Cheesecake Tartlets
Cook's Notes: These tartlets are a creamy, no bake dessert filled with your favorite cheesecake filling. Athens Mini Fillo Shells (found in the freezer section) are perfect for these mini bites. You will need two boxes for a total of 24 shells.
Ingredients:

  • 5 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips, melted in microwave-use a high quality chocolate e.g. Ghirardelli
  • 3 tablespoons lite sour cream
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • Pre-made tartlet shells
  • Fresh berries for garnish
  • Optional fresh mint for garnish 
Directions: 
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Crisp shells for 3 minutes and set aside to cool. 
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese adding in melted white chocolate, sour cream, lemon juice and zest.
  • Whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form and fold into cream cheese mixture.
  • Spoon a heaping tablespoon into tartlet shells. Top with fresh berries and more lemon zest.
  • Refrigerate until serving.

Watermelon and Tomato Salad with Herb Vinaigrette

Berry Caprese Salad with Chicken Quesadillas

You would've  had to be there to fully appreciate the stunning moon/fireworks display over the lake last night. My phone camera did no...