April 2012

smores-in-pot-guest-post-by-kirta

When Gretchen asked me to do a guest post, I had to think long and hard about what recipe I would want to share with her readers. Wait – that entire sentence is a lie. Gretchen didn’t ask me to do this – I invited myself – and I really only have about two recipes in my skill set so the decision was an easy one. Unlike Gretchen, I am not a master of the kitchen and in fact, just recently figured out that the “Lite” setting on my burners actually mean light the gas, not low heat. (Apologies to my husband and yes, my mother taught me better).

Anyway, now that I’ve totally destroyed any of my cooking credibility, I think it’s time to share a recipe for the best dessert in the world. The good news is that if there is one thing I do know, it is dessert.

I love S’Mores. But admittedly, I have a few problems with them. 1) Authentically speaking, the means of making them is hard to come by. The older I get the less time I spend by campfires. 2) They are small! The size of a graham cracker square makes for unavoidable portion control.

Fortunately, this recipe solves both problems! No campfire necessary and you can serve yourself as much as you want.

S’Mores In A Pot (or Skillet)

1 bag of chocolate chips
1 package of graham crackers
1 can of sweetened condensed milk (14 oz)
1 bag of mini marshmallows

Coat a oven-proof skillet with cooking spray. I am not sure  “oven-proof” is a term that actual cooks use, but I think you know what I mean. Take your graham crackers and pour them into the skillet. I used these new small graham squares but regular-sized graham crackers work too.

Crush your graham crackers. Use a measuring cup as your smashing tool if you left all of your non-elementary cooking supplies in Chicago when you moved to New York.
When your graham crackers are satisfactorily crushed, take your bag of chocolate chips and sprinkle them across the graham cracker remnants.
More graham crackers…

Once you’re done layering, open your can of condensed milk and pour on top of the graham cracker and chips.

I find this dessert works out best if you give it some settling time in your fridge to let the condensed milk soak into the crackers. I recommend 3-4 hours if you can wait that long.

Once you’re ready to cook, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Put your skillet in the oven and set your timer for 10-15 minutes. Check the contents after this initial time and make sure your chocolate chips have fully melted and that you can’t see any of pools of condensed milk. Once you’ve achieved this perfect ratio melting to absorption, add your marshmallows on top and put the skillet back in the oven.

After 5 minutes, turn on your broiler and toast the top lightly to give your ‘mallows that campfire crust.
Remove from the oven and enjoy immediately! I recommend serving over ice cream though it’s just as delicious on its own..and it’s just as delicious cold the next day. (Or later that night if you can’t wait that long). I’ve also substituted some of the chocolate chips for peanut butter or toffee chips and think that pretzels or saltine crackers would be amazing in lieu of graham crackers.
grilled-kabobs-of-every-variety
Oh Kabob, how I love you. Not just your ease of preparation, your versatility, and your tastiness, but for your name. Kabob. Kabob, kabob, kabob.
Last Sunday was a beautiful day, so we wanted to get out of the kitchen and grill something for dinner instead (note: I use the term ‘we’ lightly).  My husband is a huge fan of kabobs, and so we decided to make those. Plus, we got an amazing kabob platter from my sister Kirta and bro-in-law Matt, so I was very excited to use it.
See that? Awesome.
As usual, we couldn’t decide between steak, chicken, or shrimp. So also as usual, we decided on all three.  That’s totally reasonable for two people. There’s always leftovers, right?
The marinade for these turned out great, although I think it’s pretty hard to screw up a kabob.
Steak Kabob Marinade
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 dashes Worcestershire
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
Chicken & Shrimp Kabob Marinade
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
I don’t know that there was any particular reason that I chose to make two different marinades, but for some reason Worcestershire sounded great for the steak…but I wasn’t sure about the chicken. Chop the chicken and/or steak into large pieces, and marinate for about 8 hours or overnight.   The vegetables should marinate for a couple of hours, and the shrimp should only marinate for about 30 minutes. Those guys really soak it up fast.
For vegetables we chose the standards: red and yellow peppers, onions, mushrooms, pineapple (maybe not so standard, but deeeelicious), tomatoes, and red potatoes.
When your grill is nice and hot, thread the meat and vegetables onto the skewers (soak them first if they’re wooden), and grill for about 5-7 minutes on each side. The shrimp will only take a minute or two.  I served these with Grilled Corn Patties and Popovers, because popovers should be eaten at every meal.
Enjoy these fun and tasty kabobs, and if you want to get really crazy, wrap them in bacon. Kabob.

Grilled Corn Patties

grilled-corn-patties
I have a chronic case of writer’s block. I know, it’s true, I’m not really a writer. But I feel like most of my previous posts have come to me with ease, writing exactly what I’m thinking. Sometimes I was even funny, I thought.
Well, not anymore. Work has sucked the life out of me, and now you are all stuck with a lifeless, boring, blogger. I don’t even feel like I’m truly categorized as a ‘blogger,’ so I’m really just a lifeless, boring girl who happens to have a cooking blog, sharing tasty recipes to you with no charm or wit. Please, ignore me but not the food. I know my intro has really tempted you to keep reading, but please do.  These grilled corn patties were soooo good, and a solution to a problem I have endured for quite some time: what other truly delicious side dishes exist that are not some form of potato??? Well, here they are. And they still conveniently include chives and sour cream.
Recipe
  • 2 cups frozen corn, thawed
  • 3/4 cup mozzarella
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup fresh chives
  • 1 tablespoon sour cream
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Olive Oil
Heat the grill to medium high.  Place the corn in the bowl of a food processor, and blend until semi-smooth – you still want plenty of full corn kernels in there. Transfer the corn to a bowl, and mix with the mozzarella, 1/2 cup of the breadcrumbs, chives, sour cream, S&P.  Form the corn mixture into patties, then place on a plate and refrigerate for about 20 minutes.
Next, coat the patties in the remaining breadcrumbs and drizzle with olive oil. Place them on a grill pan, or on a sheet of aluminum foil if you don’t have that.
Grill the patties about 4-5 minutes on each side, and then serve with sour cream.
Can we say delicious and fun? I think so.
shredded-cheddar-with-red-pepper-jelly
This is the easiest appetizer ever, and I promise it will be a big hit at your next get together.
Mix one jar of Stonewall Kitchen Red Pepper Jelly (I highly recommend sticking with this brand) with about 1lb of freshly shredded sharp cheddar cheese. Don’t use the pre-shredded stuff because the jelly doesn’t coat it properly. Serve it with pita chips or crackers and eat your face off. I’ve had a long day so that’s all I have to share today. Have a good night!

Punch Bowl Mojitos

punch-bowl-mojitos
To make sure you all have a good time this weekend….

Recipe 

  • 4 750 mL Bacardi Light Rum (or about 1.5 of the big bottles)
  • 4 bunches mint leaves, washed and stemmed
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 5 cups fresh lime juice (or more to taste)
  • 3 bottles of club soda (or more if you’re a wimp)
  • 3-4 limes, for garnish
Place the mint leaves in a large ziploc bag, and add the sugar. Seal the bag, then roll a wooden rolling pin (or something similar…my generation has devalued the importance of the rolling pin)….. over the mint and sugar mixture for about 30 seconds to bruise the leaves. Pour the mixture into a punch bowl (or large pitcher if you’re making a smaller batch). Next, add the lime juice. Lucky for me I discovered that Central Market sells fresh lime juice by the quart, right after I had a mini-meltdown when I juiced about 30 limes by hand and it yielded about 1 cup of juice. I’ve always wondered why people buy juicers. Now I know.
Finally, pour in the rum and club soda, mix thoroughly and top with plenty of freshly sliced limes. Serve over ice in the backyard with Jimmy Buffett blasting on your iPod.
watermelon-avocado-salad-with-basil-and_17
I’ve already posted a recipe similar to this, but this time I added basil and mint. And woah…the unexpected flavor combination goes perfectly together. I also used a different salad dressing, but you can just use balsamic vinaigrette if that’s easier for you.
Recipe
  • 1 seedless watermelon, chopped
  • 3-4 ripe but firm avocados
  • 1 bunch mint, stemmed and chopped
  • 1 bunch basil, stemmed and chopped
  • 1-2 cups spinach (optional)
  • 1 package shaved or crumbled feta
  • 3 T red wine vinegar
  • 2 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
Mix the first six ingredients in a large bowl.  Combine the dressing ingredients separately and then pour over the salad and toss to distribute evenly.
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