Thursday, July 28, 2011

Mango, Macadamia & Goat Cheese Salad with Mint Vinaigrette

One of my favorite things to do on an early summer evenings is to eat outside with my hunny, puppy, and a cold beer. While the view isn't perfect (read: there is a massive, netted trampoline in the neighbor's touching backyard), it's relaxing to watch the sun go down, see the palm trees in the other neighbors' yards, and to just live on island time. The Bud Light Limes really help with all that, too.

This recipe comes from The Bride and Groom First & Forever cookbook we received from a catering company we were interviewing for our wedding. The macadamias give it the perfect crunch, the goat cheese gives it the perfect earthiness, and the mango (canned peaches work great, too) just brings it on home. Please do yourself a favor and try this as soon as you can ... outside!

Mighty Mint Vinaigrette
Makes: 1 C


Ingredients:

  • 3/4 C EVOO
  • 1/2 C firmly packed fresh mint leaves (*Even if you don't have fresh mint leaves, this vinaigrette is perfect with the salad!)
  • 1/4  Cwhite wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper
Directions:
  1. Combine the olive oil and mint in a blender and blend until pureed, about 15 seconds. 
  2. Add the vinegar, mustard, honey, kosher salt, and pepper to taste and blend until just incorporated, about 5 seconds. Do not overblend or the vinaigrette will be too thick. The vinaigrette will keep, covered and refrigerated, for up to 1 week.
Butter Lettuce with Mango, Goat Cheese, and Vinaigrette
Serves: 2

Ingredients:
  • 4 C lightly packed torn butter lettuce leaves
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 C roughly chopped mango (*Again, canned peaches are great, too!)
  • 1/4 - 1/2 C macadamia nuts, roasted and salted, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp crumbled goat cheese (*We use a LOT more. Do it "to taste.")
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped green onions, both white and green parts
  • 3 tbsp mighty mint vinaigrette, or as needed
Directions:
  1. Put the lettuce in a large bowl and season lightly with kosher salt and pepper to taste. 
  2. Add the mango, macadamia nuts, goat cheese, and green onions and toss with enough vinaigrette to coat.
  3. Serve immediately.
Et voila!
(P.S. Check out my new everyday salad gear I purchased at the Marine Gift Shop!)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Balsamic-Grilled Summer Veggies with Basil-Quinoa Salad

I've mentioned our unofficial "Scrounge Nights" around here when we basically hunt through the cabinets and try to make a meal out of whatever we can piece together. Here's a delicious summer recipe that doesn't require a trip to the grocery (well, if you keep fresh produce on hand)! Even if you don't stay well-stocked, this recipe is definitely worth the trip to the store.

This recipe comes from VeggieBelly. I've mentioned it here before and want to do so again. Sala, the chef/blogger/photographer behind it all, is really a girl after my own heart! She loves bright colors, fresh foods, hunger-inducing food photography, and popcorn (::swoon::).

Serves: 2 hungry adults


Ingredients for Balsamic Dressing:

  • 1/4 C balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tbsp EVOO
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt and pepper
Ingredients for Main Dish:
  • 1 small Italian eggplant (about 2 C when cut into big cubes)
  • 1 small zucchini (about 2 C when cut into big cubes)
  • 1/2 small red onion (1/4 of a large one)
  • 3/4 C cherry tomatoes
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves stripped (*As always, you can use dried thyme if that's all that you have. Just a dash ought to be sufficient.)
Ingredients for Basil-Quinoa Salad:
  • 2 C water
  • 1 C quinoa (*We didn't have quinoa in the cabinets, so we substituted with couscous and it came out great!)
  • 1/4 C basil leaves, loosely packed, chopped
Other Ingredients:
  • 1/2 C pearlini mozzarella balls, or bocconcini mozzarella balls, tossed in a little salt and pepper (substitute with pan-fried tofu or toasted pine nuts or walnuts for a vegan dish)
Directions:
  1. Whisk together all the balsamic dressing ingredients and set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, boil water for the quinoa salad. Add quinoa and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer covered, til all the water has been completely absorbed, about 20 minutes.
  3. While quinoa is cooking, cut the eggplant and zucchini into 1 1/2" cubes. Cut the red onion into rings. Place cubed eggplant, zucchini, red onion, tomatoes and thyme leaves in a bowl. Pour half the balsamic dressing over the vegetables and toss well.
  4. Brush grill grates (indoor or outdoor) with EVOO or non-stick spray. Heat grill to medium-high. Grill the vegetables about 3 minutes on one side or until grill marks appear. Flip them over and grill the other side until vegetables are tender but still a bit firm. Tomatoes will cook quicker, remove them from the grill as soon as they start to blister.
  5. *If you don't have a grill, broil the vegetables on the top rack of the oven until one side is golden. Flip and broil the other side.
  6. Reserve the balsamic dressing that remains in the bowl, to serve with the meal.
  7. When the quinoa finishes cooking, toss it with the second half of the dressing. Stir in chopped basil, salt and pepper.
  8. Spread quinoa on a platter or bowl. Arrange the grilled summer vegetables and mozzarella around quiona. 
  9. Serve warm with reserved balsamic dressing on the side.

(I couldn't pick just one photo now that I'm lusting to make it again so you can enjoy both photos, too.)
Et voila!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Crepes

My best friend here on Okinawa (Kara!) recently had a great friend from back home in the States visit. I'm so glad Kara was able to spend a whole month with her and really show her how wonderful Okinawa really is. Like me, both of these girls are adventuresome and have the travel bug which led us to many conversations about travel in general.

Naturally, Paris came up since that's where hubby and I honeymooned two years ago. I've said it before and will say it again (in my best attempt at a French accent): j'adore Paris! It will forever hold a special place in my heart. And so will crepes. (Yeah, I said it.)

Walking the streets of Paris was sensory overload (in a good way). I could just lose myself in the sounds, sights, smells ... ahhh, the smells ... fresh coffee and crepes. It was outside the Louvre that I enjoyed my very first one. A nutella and banana crepe, to be specific. I'm bummed there are no photos of us devouring them, but it's probably best since I'm sure I had it enthusiastically shmeared across my happy face.



It took a full two years before I tried making them at home, and I am happy to report that it was a complete success! Try your hand at these and picture yourself relaxing at some open-air bistro with a giant mug of frothy cafe au lait. ::le sigh::

(Recipe from AllRecipes)
Makes 12
Prep Time: 5 mins. / Cook Time: 30 mins. / Ready In: 35 mins.

Ingredients:

  • 1 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 C milk
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
Directions:
  1. Sift together flour, sugar and salt; set aside. In a large bowl, beat eggs and milk together with an electric mixer. Beat in flour mixture until smooth; stir in melted butter. 
  2. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 2 tbsp for each crepe. (*I recommend using a soup laddle.) Tip and rotate pan to spread batter as thinly as possible. Brown on both sides and serve hot. 
  3. (*These buttery flaps of heaven are delicious as-is, but if you're looking for the fully Monty, I highly recommend topping with powdered sugar, apricot jam, nutella and/or fresh fruit.)

Et voila!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Ring the Dinner Bell!

I'm ringing the metaphorical dinner bell here, y'all! I know it's been a long time coming, but I promise I'm back and will share what I've been up to (and cooking up) by tomorrow night.