Happy Hour Friday: Somersault Ale

Somersault New Belgium Ale is the perfect beer for these final hot days and crisp, cool nights. We have loved having this beer around while we cooked out with friends and had crackers with cheese sitting on our porch.  It is easy on the palette and goes well with pretty much anything. Flavors of ginger and apricot come together for the perfect party for your taste buds. Enjoy this seasonal beer before it is too late!


Pancakes with Blueberry Butter

One great thing about the weekend, is that you can have lazy mornings and spend more time on breakfast than you usually would during your normal weekday routine. This blueberry butter is so unbelievably delicious with the perfect amount of sweet and salty with every bite. Perfect for Sunday morning pancakes or toast. It will keep in the refridgerator for up to one week and the best part is that the recipe calls for only three ingredients!

Source: Not Without Salt

You Will Need:
  • 1 stick butter, salted (or add 1/4 tsp salt), softened
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons Confectioner’s sugar
  • 3/4 cup fresh blueberries

Here We Go:
  • Combine the butter and the sugar
  • Mash the blueberries with the butter until the butter is lightly colored from the blueberry skins
  • You still want to maintain lots of nice blueberry chunks, so be careful not to over mash.
  • Store in the fridge for up to one week

Happy Feasting!


Old Skool Playa

My birthday was back in August and seeing how much I love to cook, and love a good sandwich, my brother and his girlfriend gave me a cookbook as part of my birthday present. This was not just any cookbook. This was "The Big New York Sandwich Book". The book is chocked full fabulous sandwich creations "from the city's greatest restaurants and chefs."

The Old Skool Playa is an oldie but a goodie and I couldn't help myself from making it for lunch. This is a grilled cheese West Village style according to the book. Murrays' Cheese Shop has been around since the 1940's and you will find hundreds of cheeses to choose from (tastings included!) They took a classic grilled cheese recipe, and rather than cooking it on the stove-top they broiled it in the oven for an even crunchier, tastier American favorite.

You Will Need:
  • 3 slices thick smoky bacon
  • 2 slices bread of your choice
  • Butter
  • 3 oz sharp cheddar cheese
  • 3 slices tomato

Here We Go:
  • Heat a skillet over medium-low heat and cook the bacon to desired degree of doneness; drain
  • Preheat the broiler
  • Butter the bottoms of each piece of bread and evenly distribute the cheese across both slices of bread
  • Put the pieces of bacon on top of one half of the bread slices
  • Place the bread on a baking sheet and toast until they're golden brown
  • Remove from oven, add tomato to cheese and bacon slice, and close the sandwich

Serves 1
Happy Feasting!


Fig, Tomato, and Sweet Onion Salad

I know that temperatures have been in the 60's this week here in North Carolina, and Fall has officially arrived, but I just can't seem to stop making some of my favorite summer dishes. This salad was featured in Cooking Light back in June and it was fantastic. The recipe called for fresh mint but since I prefer basil I went that route and it was delicious. The simple red wine vinaigrette is very light and really makes the flavors of the figs, cherry tomatoes and Vidalia onions stand out. If you want to make this a complete meal I bet adding grilled shrimp or chicken would be divine. Make this summer salad before it is too cold!

You Will Need:
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 cups fresh figs, quartered (about 1/2 pound)
  • 2 cups torn romaine lettuce
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 3/4 cup sliced Vidalia onion
  • 3 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup (1oz) feta cheese, crumbled

Here We Go:
  • Combine first three ingredients in a large bowl; stir well with a whisk
  • Add figs, lettuce, tomatoes, onion and basil
  • Toss gently to coat
  • Sprinkle with feta cheese

Serve 4 as a side
Happy Feasting!


Feta & Sun-dried Tomato Dip

This four ingredient dip is perfect with pretzel chips or crackers and is a great quick appetizer option when you are crunched for time but still want to impress your guests. The feta and sun-dried tomatoes give this creamy dip a very rich flavor that makes it seem like you have spent hours in the kitchen instead of five minutes. I would make this at least a few hours in advance to give the flavors time to blend. I made this the morning that we were having some friends over and it was even better when we had the leftover dip the next day.

Source: Real Simple July 2011

You Will Need:
  • 4 oz feta, crumbled
  • 1 cup low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Here We Go:
  • In a bowl, mash together feta, greek yogurt and olive oil
  • Mix in sun-dried tomatoes
  • Season with salt and pepper and chill before serving

Makes 1 1/2 cups
Happy Feasting!


Turkey Caesar Salad Bagel Sandwich

We are all always trying to spice up our lunch options. Lunch can oftentimes become redundant with the same old salad or turkey sandwich. Well, this turkey caesar bagel is delicious and such a creative way to eat your favorite caesar salad on a bagel. Layers of honey turkey, creamy caesar dressing, romaine lettuce, yellow onion, fresh parmesan and tomato make this my new favorite lunchtime combination! I will definitely be adding this into my weekly rotation and you guys should too!

Adapted from Cooking Light August 2011

You Will Need:
  • 1 sesame bagel, toasted
  • 2 or 3 slices of honey turkey
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp creamy caesar dressing of your choice
  • 2 or 3 thin slices of yellow onion
  • 2 or 3 pieces of torn romaine lettuce
  • 2 thin slices vine ripe tomatoes
  • 2 or 3 thin slices of parmesan

Here We Go:
  • Spread dressing evenly on cut sides of toasted bagel
  • Layer turkey, onion, lettuce, tomato and parmesan on bottom halves of bagels
  • Top with the top half of the bagel
  • Slice sandwich in half and enjoy

Serves 1
Happy Feasting!


Mongolian Beef

Chinese food is definitely one of my favorites. There is something to be said for a good shrimp fried rice, pork dumplings and an extra crispy general tso's. This recipe for mongolian beef is relatively easy and almost just as tasty as our good friend Peter Chang's. Tender pieces of flank steak coupled with green onions and yellow onions make a delicious stir fry to serve oven mei fun noodles or brown rice. If you wanted to pack the dish with even more veggies I bet the addition of red pepper and broccoli would also be fantastic.

Source: Love and Olive Oil

You Will Need:
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp ginger, minced
  • 1 Tbsp garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • vegetable oil, for frying (about 1 cup)
  • 1 lb flank steak
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 large green onions, thinly sliced

Here We Go:
  • Make the sauce by heating 2 tsp of vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over med/low heat
  • Add ginger and garlic to the pan and quickly add the soy sauce and water before the garlic scorches
  • Dissolve the brown sugar in the sauce, then raise the heat to about medium and boil the sauce for 2-3 minutes or until the sauce thickens
  • Remove it from the heat
  • Slice the flank steak into 1/4" thick bite-size slices
  • Dip the steak pieces into the cornstarch to apply a very thin dusting to both sides of each piece of beef
  • Let the beef sit for about 10 minutes so that the cornstarch sticks
  • Heat up one cup of oil in a wok or large skillet until it's nice and hot, but not smoking
  • Add the beef to the oil and saute for two minutes, or until the beef just begins to darken on the edges
  • You don't need a thorough cooking here since the beef is going to go back on the heat later
  • Stir the meat around a little so that it cooks evenly
  • After a couple minutes, use a large slotted spoon to take the meat out and onto paper towels, then pour the oil out of the wok or skillet
  • Put the pan back over the heat, dump the meat back into it
  • Add the onion and saute for one minute
  • Add the sauce, cook for one minute while stirring, then add all the green onions
  • Cook for one more minute, then remove the beef and onions with tongs or a slotted spoon to a serving plate, leaving the excess sauce behind in the pan

Serves 2
Happy Feasting!


Parmesan Almonds

I love almonds. They are a great snack on the go and are so good for your brain, hair, skin and even heart. I will say, though, that the best kind of almonds are the ones packed with tons of flavor. Raw almonds tend to be a bit on the bland side. I found this recipe for parmesan almonds on one of my favorite blogs, In Good Taste, and they are delicious and super easy! Make these flavorful almonds and have a great on the go snack for the rest of the work week!

You Will Need:
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 cups whole almonds

Here We Go:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  • Beat the egg white in a medium bowl with a wire wisk until peaks begin to form
  • Toss almonds in egg whites
  • In another medium bowl, combine cheese, garlic powder, paprika and oregano
  • Toss almonds with spices until evenly coated
  • Spread into one layer on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, tossing every five minutes so the nuts roast evenly
  • Let cool before serving 

Makes 2 cups
Happy Feasting!


Tomato Pie

As we unofficially say goodbye to summer, now that it is September and the cooler temperatures have made their way to North Carolina, I find myself frantically trying to cook all things summery before it is too late. I had not made a tomato pie all summer, and I knew that before all of the delicious local tomatoes left the shelves I had to make one of these southern summer favorites. This is a recipe that I have had since college and I have to give credit to my friend Sarah Bourgeois for this wonderful pie. A tomato pie is relatively easy as long as you drain the tomatoes long enough (ie: about an hour). Not draining the tomatoes long enough can result in a soggy pie, which is still tasty, but definitely not as pretty!

 You Will Need:
  • 4 tomatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup green onion, chopped
  • 1 (9 inch) pre-baked dip dish pie shell
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • salt and pepper to taste

Here We Go:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Place the tomatoes in a colander in the sink in 1 layer
  • Sprinkle with salt and allow to drain for about 1 hour
  • Layer the tomato slices, basil and onion in the pie shell
  • Season with salt and pepper
  • Combine the grated cheese and mayonnaise together in small bowl
  • Spread cheese mixture on top of the tomatoes and bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown
  • Cut into 8 slices and serve warm

Happy Feasting!


Shortbread Cookies with Raspberry Jam

The September issue of bon appetit was "The Restaurant Issue". It was chocked full of sweet and savory recipes from world renowned chefs across America. These shortbread cookies caught my eye because they reminded me of one of my favorite childhood cookies, Pepperidge Farm's Verona. I bet that you already have all of these ingredients in your pantry and if you are not a fan of raspberry jam feel free to substitute with another flavor but I will say that the raspberry is divine!

Source: bon appetit September 2011

You Will Need:
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 10 1/2 Tbsp salted butter, room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 Tbsp raspberry jam

Here We Go:
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • Whisk flour, sugar and baking powder in large bowl
  • Add butter; using your fingertips, rub in butter until coarse meal forms
  • Whisk egg and yolk in a bowl; add to flour mixture; stir to blend
  • Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper
  • Measure dough by 2 Tbsp and roll into balls
  • Place on prepared sheets about 2 inches apart
  • Make an indentation in center of each ball and fill with 1/2 tsp jam
  • Bake cookies until golden brown, about 12-14 minutes
  • Transfer to wire rack to cool

Makes about 16 cookies
Happy Feasting!


Happy Hour Monday: Classic Margarita

Since I never got the chance to post a happy hour cocktail this past Friday, I thought why not today. After all, it is Labor Day and most of us are not at work so why not toast to the end of summer with some good ole' Jose Cuervo. Happy Labor Day!

You Will Need:
  • 1 part triple sec
  • 3 parts tequila
  • 9 parts margarita mix
  • Salt for rim of glass
  • Lime wedges for garnish
  • Crushed ice

Here We Go:
  • Run the lime wedge around the rim of the glass and dip into salt
  • Fill highball glass with crushed ice
  • Pour first three ingredients into glass and stir
  • Garnish with a lime wedge and serve

Serves 3-4 highball glasses
Happy Feasting!