At Least Twice A Week

Posts Tagged ‘recipes

Summer!!!

Posted on: June 6, 2010

Does anything say summer more than food cooked on a charcoal grill?  I don’t think so.   We have used a gas grill for years just because of convenience.  Something lately has made me want to smell the fire and taste that the food was actually grilled.

We bought a small Weber grill so we could do just that.  And ya know, it was wonderful.  Watching the coals change from black to grey with the fire burning red-hot in them.  I was so excited.

I figured we would take it quick and easy and make hamburgers for our first adventure in charcoal.  What could be better? 

And they were.  Grilled perfectly medium rare.  You know the flavor that comes from the grill and I know you love it as much as I do. 

It is a sign of summer.  Sitting outside with a beer or margarita, enjoying the company of family and friends and eating food with flavor that you can’t reproduce in the kitchen. 

Luckily I live in a place where summer stretches out for a long, long time.  Unfortunately though some of the time when it is hovering around 100 degrees and the humidity is sky-high it is unbearable to be out in it.  But we make do.  A few friends, cocktails and a dip in the pool can make it good again.

And as for the finished burgers…..(sorry for the picture quality, the plate was moving so fast that I had to snap it fast.

There is no place closer to heaven than Texas in April.  Every year the wildflowers come up with no help from anyone other than a higher power.  And they are always spectacular.

Take a drive along any highway in central Texas during late March or April every year and you are treated to a wonderful show of colors.  Oranges, many shades of blue and purple, yellow, they are all so beautiful.

Years ago, Blue Bell Ice Cream had an ad campaign that simply said something like ‘ice cream s0 good,  the cows think Brenham’s heaven’.  I think the cows are right.

We packed a picnic and enjoyed the sights and it was a great day.  And now we know that there’s no place like Texas, especially in April!

Picnic Lunch:

Turkey Sandwiches with Basil Mayonaise (remember to keep these chilled) – Your everyday turkey sandwich but jazzed up with basil mayonaise.  Gives it a little more flavor and makes it special.

Fruit Salad – mixed fruit with a honey yogurt sauce.  We dipped ours instead of eating it with a fork.  Lent itself to a more romantic picnic for the two of us.

Jolly Rancher Martinis – Mix at home, pour and enjoy.  For the adult crowd only..

1 oz watermelon pucker

2 oz vanilla vodka

1/2 oz sweet and sour mix

1/2 oz cranberry juice

Shake over ice and strain into glasses.

Then enjoy.

I read the recipe.  And then I read it again.  I wasn’t sure I could do something like cut the backbone out of a chicken.  I hated the week in high school cooking class dealing with chickens so much that I skipped class the day that we learned how to properly cut them up.  Yes, yes, now I know how important that lesson is but then, it was as bad as the frog in biology.  But anyway back to now, the recipe is out of Everyday Food by Martha Stewart’s May 2010 issue.  I am a member of an online cooking group, Mario Bosquez’s Weekend Cooking Challenge and that is where I came across it.  One Saturday a month, we all cook the same recipe and compare notes and results while helping each other learn new techniques.

The ingredients are so simple, a  3-4 pound chicken, a quartered onion, quartered new potatoes, thyme, lemon slices, olive oil, salt and pepper.

After you do surgery on the bird by spatchcocking, season him up, slide some lemon slices under the skin along with thyme springs.  Toss the onion, potatoes, thyme and olive oil in a bowl then season with salt and pepper. 

Lay the chicken in a roasting pan or very large cast iron skillet flat (yes it will lay completely flat) then add potatoes and onion.  Cook at 500 degrees, that’s right, 500 degrees for 30-40 minutes.  Cooking Lesson 101 – Chicken should always be 165 degrees away from the bone.

It is unbelievable how good this is.  The chicken skins is crispy and lemony.  The meat is so moist and juicy.  The potatoes roast perfectly.

I may never roast a whole chicken any other way but this.

This week’s Martha and Me item was picked by Brette.  And wow, what a choice.  I wanted an excuse to make this and I was so happy with the results.

The recipe is in the April issue of Martha Stewart Living and along with the cake they offer a chocolate frosting.  The recipe on the website  is slightly different than the one in the magazine.  I followed the magazine  but I am sure they are both wonderful.

I made cupcakes since they have to go to work with me and cupcakes travel easier.  My hubby has no willpower so if I keep this kind of thing in the house, he indulges.  Anyway,  the cake was so easy, sift the dry add the eggs, buttermilk, oil and vanilla and voila, you are done.  I used vegetable oil because I didn’t have safflower but it worked wonderfully. The cake was moist and not too crumbly and had a good, rich chocolate flavor.  I will definitely be making this batter again.

The frosting was a bit more involved to make.  Cream the butter and cream cheese, sift the powered sugar, salt and cocoa, melt the chocolate add the sour cream.  There were a lot of bowls to wash when I was done.  And there was so much frosting left over.  While I would say the taste was good, it was way too sweet for me.  See the milk in the picture, it is a must have with this frosting.

Another good thing about this recipe is I had everything on hand.  However, next time I am icing these delicious cupcakes with a chocolate glaze and I think that will be perfect.

Ok, I’ll admit it.  I am now a blog junkie.  I subscribe, I read and some times I go back and read them again.  But the most important thing is I learn from them and I am trying the recipes and crafts that I see other blogger’s doing.  It’s a new dimension in my life.

Yesterday, Geneva and I made Focaccia.  I have always wanted to learn how to bake bread so I jumped right in.  I found this recipe on Alexis Stewart’s blog ‘Whatever’.  Yes, Martha Stewart’s daughter, she cooks too.  The recipe actually comes from Saveur.

I was amazed at how easy it was and I decided that all of my past failures with bread have to do with one little thing, water temperature.  I don’t think I ever checked the temperature of the water before mixing it with the yeast. Now I know.

Getting back to the bread….yeast, sugar and water mixed with flour, salt and sugar after it foams.  Add warm water and oil, knead and leave it alone to rise.  But it in a cast iron skillet to rise again.  The recipe calls for olives but Hubby isn’t a big fan so we substituted onions and I threw on some crumbled bacon with the halved cherry tomatoes.  I can’t tell you how much the bread lover in me liked this.

The weather is bad and neither Hubby nor I want to go out to the grill.  We took the next best alternative and turned on the oven.

I made this up as we went.  And after the smoke settled on – wrapping them in foil or not, we got things going.

I made a sauce with 1 1/2 cups of catsup, 2 teaspoons dry mustard, 1 tsp red pepper flakes, 1 tablespoon honey,  1/2 cup brown sugar, 2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce, 1/2 medium onion (diced small), and 3 gloves of garlic (diced).

Heat the oven to 350.  Season the ribs with salt and pepper and place on rack in a roasting pan.  Brush on sauce heavily.  Bake for 2 to 2 1/2 hours basting every 20 minutes or so.

They were pretty good.  Not the best but when you can’t get outside, they will do just fine.

This one also came from the January/February issue of Everyday Food.  I don’t think I will be making this one again though without some alterations.

You mix honey, vinegar and soy sauce.  Then it is a basic stir fry. Prep everything, brown your chicken. Remove it and put in your ginger and garlic.  Add peppers (I put some green peas in also) and soy mixture then put your chicken back in until cooked through.

Even with the ginger, garlic, soy and honey there wasn’t much flavor.  The chicken was bland that their just wasn’t much to it.  As I said earlier, I won’t make this one again without my own revision.

Live well, Love much, Laugh often!


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© Karen Schaeffer and At Least Twice A Week, 2009-2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Karen Schaeffer and At Least Twice A Week with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.