31 July 2012

It's Day Two of The Garden's Bounty recipe series hosted by Savannah of Hammock Tracks.


Today we are talking salads.  I've had this pasta salad waiting in the wings for a while now, ever since I made it for my daughter's second birthday party in early June.  I thought this would be a great time to share it with you.  While it's probably not what you would first think about when someone mentions salads and garden produce, it does have fresh veggies in it and it's perfect for summertime.  It's an adaptation of one I found at The Daily Dish Recipes.

Avocado Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad

1 lb. dried tri-color spiral pasta
¾ cup mayonnaise
¾ cup ranch dressing
2 avocados, pitted and cut into 1″ pieces
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
½ cup kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
12 slices bacon, cooked and cut into 1″ pieces

Boil the pasta as directed on the package. Drain and rinse with cold water to cool the pasta. Set aside.

In a small bowl, mix the mayonnaise and ranch dressing.  Set aside.

In another small bowl, toss the avocado in the lemon juice.

Pour the pasta into a large serving bowl. Add the tomatoes, sliced bacon, olives, and avocado. Gently stir in the dressing.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes.

Serve cold.

Makes 12 servings.

The combination of flavors in this pasta salad is amazing.  Creamy and buttery avocado, chewy and salty bacon, juicy and tart tomatoes, tangy olives, and a cool and mildly ranch dressing to tie it all together.  So good!  It does make a lot, so it's perfect for a crowd.  It does keep pretty well, except for the avocados.  I had some left over from my daughter's birthday party, so I kept snacking on it for a few days.  I just ate around the avocado. :)

Check out the other great salads below and come back tomorrow for a soup that's perfect for summertime.

30 July 2012

It's going to be a fun week here on Edesia's Notebook. I'm participating in another fun blog hop series hosted by Savannah of Hammock Tracks.  This series is called "The Garden's Bounty" and includes a week's worth of recipes chock full of fresh garden produce.


Today we are sharing with you casseroles or other hot savory dishes, tomorrow will be salads, Wednesday will be soups, Thursday will be preserves, pickles, or salsas, and on Friday we will share with you some sweet treats to end the week.

The hot savory dish I chose for today is a quiche that I created a few weeks ago.  My family loves quiche (my four-year-old daughter Lena calls it "egg pizza" because it's wedge-shaped), so I make it for dinner quite often.  I have already shared with you my Broccoli Cheddar Quiche and my Spinach Cheese Quiche with Potato Crust.  I happened to have a handful of mushrooms and some asparagus leftover from some other meals, so I thought they would be fantastic in a quiche together.  Since roasting is the only way I prepare asparagus, I tossed the mushrooms and asparagus together and roasted them for the quiche, maximizing their flavor.  The resulting quiche was amazing.

Roasted Asparagus and Mushroom Quiche

½ lb. fresh asparagus, trimmed
4 oz. fresh mushrooms, chopped
Olive oil
Kosher salt
6 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
½ tsp salt
9” pie crust

Preheat oven to 400°.  Line a baking sheet with foil.  Cut asparagus into 1” pieces.  Place asparagus and mushrooms on baking sheet and drizzle with oil.  Sprinkle with salt.  Roast 12 minutes, stirring halfway through.  Remove from oven and let cool.  Reduce oven temperature to 350°.

Combine eggs, cheese, and salt in a medium bowl.  Add roasted asparagus and mushrooms.  Pour into pie crust.  Bake 30-40 minutes or until set.

Makes 6 servings.

This quiche did not disappoint.  The roasted flavor of the veggies comes through nicely and gives the quiche an added depth of flavor.  I'm not a big fan of Swiss cheese, but it is very mellow in this dish and seemed to fit perfectly.  

Check out the great savory vegetable-packed recipes below, and come back tomorrow to see some great fresh-from-the-garden salads!

27 July 2012

Who's ready for breakfast?  Today I have for you a very simple, yet genius breakfast recipe.  Meatballs!  Meatballs for breakfast?  Yep!  It's a brilliant idea and recipe I found over at Budget Gourmet Mom.  Ground sausage, pancakes, and maple syrup all rolled into little bite-sized balls.  Pure genius.

Breakfast Meatballs

2 lbs. bulk sausage
¼ cup maple syrup plus a little extra to drizzle
1 egg
4 pancakes, cubed

Preheat oven to 375°.

In a medium bowl, mix the sausage, syrup, and egg together.  Mix in the pieces of pancake until evenly distributed.  Form into balls slightly larger than a tablespoon and place on a baking sheet.

Drizzle with some additional maple syrup and bake for 22-25 minutes.  Serve warm.

Makes 24 meatballs.

 Mix together sausage, egg, and maple syrup.

Chop up a few pancakes.  If you really want to make these meatballs but don't want to take the time to make pancakes first, you could chop up a few warmed up frozen waffles.  I haven't tried it that way, but I'm sure it would work.

 Mix pancake pieces into the sausage.

Shape into balls and bake.

Couldn't be easier.  And makes a wonderful, tasty breakfast.  If you want to turn these into a grab-and-go kind of breakfast, you could freeze them after baking (laid out on a baking sheet so they don't stick together), then throw them in a large freezer bag.  In the morning, take out however many you want, pop them in the microwave for a minute and you're good to go!

Be sure to come by on Monday, which is the first day of another great blog hop series I am participating in.  It's called "Garden's Bounty" and it's five days of recipes that use fresh-from-the-garden produce.  We will be sharing with you fruit and veggie filled recipes for hot savory dishes, salads, soups, preserves, and desserts.  Don't miss it!

19 July 2012

It's reveal day for the Improv Challenge.  The premise of this challenge is easy: each month there are two assigned ingredients.  The participants must make a recipe using both ingredients and blog about it.

This month's assigned ingredients were corn and butter.  Yummy!  Anything with those two ingredients has to be good.  I had made some corn cakes a couple of months ago, but hadn't posted them yet because I felt they needed tweaking.  This challenge gave me the perfect opportunity to do so!  I added cheddar cheese to them and topped the warm cakes with butter, which immediately melted and made the best topping.  Here's the recipe.

Golden Cheddar Corn Cakes

2 cups fresh corn kernels (about 4 ears), or 1 can of canned corn
½ cup green onions, sliced
¼ cup + 1 tbsp vegetable oil, divided
4 eggs, separated
½ cup flour
½ cup yellow cornmeal
1 tsp salt
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

In a blender or food processor, pulse corn until chopped but not smooth. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in green onions, ¼ cup oil, and the egg yolks.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, salt, and cheese. Add to corn mixture and mix thoroughly but gently.

In a clean bowl, whisk or beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Fold into corn mixture.

In a large frying pan, heat 1 tbsp oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches of 4, drop large spoonfuls of the corn mixture into pan. Cook until edges begin to set and undersides are browned, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook until cakes are browned and cooked through. Remove from pan and immediately top with butter.  Serve warm.

Makes 4 servings, 4 (2”) cakes each.

You may think it's kind of a cop-out to just put butter on top, but let me tell you, that is the best part!  The first time we had these corn cakes, we didn't top them with anything and ate them dry.  They were bland and just kind of "blah".  The addition of the cheddar cheese certainly helped a lot, but putting melty butter on them put them over the top.  We use real butter sparingly because it's so unhealthy, but this is one instance where a splurge is warranted.

I actually split this recipe and make two different batches.  I make half of it as written above, and I make the other half without cheese or butter for my kids, since my little one is allergic to dairy.  It really isn't that much extra work to split it in half like that.

These make a great side dish for summer grilling, and if you make them tiny, would make a great party appetizer with some kind of yummy topping.  They are really quite versatile.

Stephanie from Sustainable Cooking for One chose to make this recipe when she was assigned my blog for the Secret Recipe Club in February 2013.  Click on the button below to check out her post!

Secret Recipe Club

Check out all of the other great corn and butter recipes below, and come back next month to see what I create with tomatoes and peppers!

13 July 2012

 It's time once again for the Eating the Alphabet Challenge.  This month we had to chose a fruit, vegetable, grain, bean, or legume that began with the letter K or L.

K and L are pretty easy letters to work with.  Kale, kiwi, kumquat, lettuce, lime, lemon.  Lots of choices.  I decided on a recipe that used both of the assigned letters, K and L.  I made a pie with kiwi and lemon.  I found the recipe at RecipeLand.  Here's my adaptation.

Kiwi Lemon Pie

1¼ cups milk
1¼ cups sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch
3 egg yolks, lightly beaten
½ cup fresh lemon juice
Zest of 2 lemons
1 tsp vanilla extract
9” graham cracker crust
¼ cup apricot preserves
2 kiwi fruit, peeled and sliced

Preheat oven to 325°.

Heat milk over low heat in top of double boiler over simmering water.

Combine sugar, cornstarch, and egg yolks in a medium bowl.  Add a small amount of the warm milk, stirring constantly.  Add another small amount of milk to the sugar/egg mixture, stirring until combined.  Gradually add the sugar/egg mixture into the warm milk, stirring constantly.  Increase heat to a boil, then lower heat and cook 5 minutes, or until mixture thickens.  Whisk in lemon juice, zest, and vanilla.  Pour mixture into pie shell.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until center is set.  Cool pie for 10 minutes.

Melt preserves in the microwave and brush thin layer over surface of pie.  Arrange kiwis to cover top of pie.  Brush again with remaining preserves and cool in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or longer.

Cut into wedges and serve.

Makes 8 servings.

As you can see in the picture above, my pie turned out less-than-perfect, which is a nice way of saying "kind of messed up!"  I did kind of mess it up.  But it wasn't the recipe's fault, it was mine.  Well, the first problem I had was that it called for the juice of 3 lemons.  Well, the lemons I had were total monsters.  They were about twice the size of a normal lemon, which you can see above.  So I had to do some research to see how much juice to use.  

The second problem I had was that I ran out of cornstarch.  I needed three tbsp and only had about two.  I tried to compensate for this by removing some of the milk.  It kind of worked.  I had to cook the pie a lot longer than stated to get it to set up.  And well, there were some other complications, but I won't bore you with the details!  In the end, while it wasn't the prettiest looking thing, it tasted good, so that's all that matters!

 I took too long taking pics and the filling started to ooze out on me.  

I took pictures of the intact pie very strategically!  (Trust me, this was the "good" side!)

So yeah, I had some problems, but it ended up working out.  My husband loved it so much he said he wanted to stick his face in it.  That makes it a success in my book!

12 July 2012

 Today is an exciting day!  Today I am celebrating another milestone on my little blog.  Today I am posting my 400th recipe!  Wow!  I can't believe there are 400 recipes here!  If it wasn't for Blogger keeping track of my post count, I wouldn't believe it.  

I have chosen an awesome recipe to be my 400th.  Crispy breaded chicken thighs cooked on the grill.  Breaded chicken on the grill?  Yep!  I know, I was skeptical when I first saw it too, but it was a Food Network recipe and they very rarely steer me wrong, so I thought it was worth a shot. Best risk I ever took!

Crispy Grilled Chicken Thighs

⅓ cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp onion powder
½ tsp salt
8 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs (about 2¼ lbs.)
Vegetable oil, for brushing
1½ cups dry breadcrumbs
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp salt

Combine the mayonnaise, chili powder, 1 tsp onion powder, and ½ tsp salt in a large bowl. Add the chicken and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat a grill to medium low. Brush the grill grates with vegetable oil. Combine the breadcrumbs, 1 tsp onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, and 1 tsp salt in a shallow dish.  Add the chicken, turning to thoroughly coat. Grill the chicken, turning once, until golden brown and cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes per side.

Makes 4 servings.

I made a few changes, mostly adding seasoning to the breadcrumbs.  I thought they should be seasoned too. This chicken is amazing!  So crispy and crunchy on the inside, while tender and juicy on the inside.  Perfect.  

This was the meal I chose as my "grill take-over" on Father's Day.  My husband had always done all the grilling at our house, but I was starting to notice that not everything was turning out so well.  I'm just going to come out and say it: things were being burned.  Badly.  Like, beyond recognition.  I had a hunch that the problem was that my husband was grilling everything (burgers, pork chops, bone-in chicken, you name it) on high.  As high as it goes.  Like 700 degrees.  I think it's kind of a man thing.  Some fire is good, so more must be better, right?  Wrong!  Father's Day was the perfect time for my grill take-over because I disguised it as giving my husband the day off from grilling.  "I will make the entire dinner, honey. You don't have to lift a finger!"  My plan worked perfectly.  Until I noticed that every time I came back outside to check on the chicken, my husband was standing at the grill turning the heat up!  So I kept shooing him away.  I grilled that chicken on medium-low the whole time, while he sat there trying to read his book and not notice how I was doing it.  He was very impressed at how it turned out.  So I thought he had finally learned a valuable lesson that day and that he wouldn't cook everything on high in the future.

He was grilling earlier this week, and he said to me, "You know, I think sometimes it works out better to have the grill on medium instead of high."  *Forehead slap* Duh!  I guess sometimes you just have to learn things on your own!

Here's to another 400 recipes!

09 July 2012

Happy Monday!  It's Secret Recipe Club reveal day.   The Secret Recipe Club is a group of food bloggers who secretly make one of someone else's dishes and post them all on the same day at the same time.  It's really fun, choosing a recipe to make, making the recipe, then reading about everyone else's recipes.  It's a great way to "meet" other bloggers and check out some great blogs that you never knew about before.

Secret Recipe Club

This month I was assigned a blog that was new to me, The Keenan Cookbook.  The Keenan Cookbook is unique in that it has two authors, Chris and Rachel.  They are a couple who tag team the duties of food blogging: Chris maintains the blog, and does most of the cooking, while Rachel taste-tests and does the photography.  That's pretty neat!  They are the parents of an adorable little boy, and recently announced that they have another little one on the way! Congrats, Chris and Rachel!

Chris and Rachel have a great collection of recipes.  They have everything from appetizers to dessert.  I bookmarked several recipes to try: Zucchini Quiche, Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Scones, and Gnocchi with Roasted Asparagus Pesto, before deciding on one.  The one I chose to make for SRC this month was their Reuben Casserole.  I am not a huge fan of Reubens, but my husband is and often orders them at restaurants because I've never made them at home.  I thought I would throw the poor guy a bone, and give this baked version a try.  Since I knew it would be mostly my husband eating it, I halved the recipe.  

Reuben Casserole

8 oz. sliced corned beef
2 cups sauerkraut, drained
½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup Thousand Island dressing
1 cup Swiss cheese, shredded
¼ cup dry bread crumbs
Toasted rye bread

Preheat oven to 350°.

Place corned beef in the bottom of an 8x8 casserole dish.  Layer sauerkraut on top of the corned beef.  In a separate bowl, combine mayonnaise and Thousand Island dressing. Then spread the dressing on top of the sauerkraut.  Sprinkle the shredded Swiss cheese on top of the dressing.  Top with breadcrumbs.

Bake for 40 minutes.  Serve warm over toasted rye bread.

Makes 4 servings.

I increased the dressing to mayo ratio because my husband really likes it.  I took the quick route and used a bottled dressing, but I'm sure homemade would be even better.

I didn't eat very much of this, as Reubens just aren't my thing, but my husband LOVED it.  And here's the surprise of the day: my kids (ages 2 and 4) scarfed it down!  I almost didn't even give it to them, because I didn't think they would like it.  They are pretty good eaters, but I thought sauerkraut was a stretch even for them.  So I almost made something separate for them, but then decided to let them try it.  Why not?  Boy, was I surprised when my 2-year-old held up her plate, saying, "Mo! Mo! Mo!" (Meaning "more").  I had picked the breadcrumb/cheese topping off of hers because she is allergic to dairy, but she ate all of the meat, dressing, and all of the sauerkraut!  My 4-year-old did too, but I think it was partly due to the fact that we made a big deal about Eva eating all of hers, so Lena had do it too. You know how kids are! Lena ended up eating 2 (kid-sized) servings and Eva ate three!

Thanks Chris and Rachel for a great meal that my kids loved and got me bonus points with my husband! :)

07 July 2012

It's Crazy Cooking Challenge Day!  In this challenge, all the participants make and blog about the same dish each month.  Each blogger is to post a unique version of whatever that month's dish is.  This month's assigned dish was fried chicken.  So we were to find a great fried chicken recipe, make it, and blog about it.


This was an interesting one for me, because while I absolutely love fried chicken, I had never made it before.  I am not a fan of frying things, so I only eat fried chicken when we're out, but even rarely then.  I was quite intimidated by the thought of making it myself.  I was having trouble finding a recipe that I liked from a blog, but then our hostess Tina announced that we could get a recipe from anywhere.  We are no longer limited to recipes from other blogs.  That helped a lot in this challenge.  

I spent a lot of time researching fried chicken recipes.  I had trouble finding the perfect one. I knew I wanted to pan fry it, not deep fry.  And I wanted a simple flour coating, and I couldn't do a traditional buttermilk marinade because my little one is allergic to dairy.   Usually, for this challenge, I try to find a really unique version of whatever that month's assigned dish is.  But this month, since I had never made fried chicken before, I just decided to go with the traditional.  Nothing unique or fancy; just good plain fried chicken.  I didn't end up choosing a specific recipe to try; I had read enough recipes in doing my research, that I just went into the kitchen and winged it.  The results were better than I had imagined.  I made really good fried chicken!

Pan Fried Chicken and Country Gravy

1¼ cups flour
1½ tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
½ tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp black pepper
3 lbs. bone-in, skin-on chicken (I did 8 legs & 2 thighs)
1½ cups Crisco
1½ cups canola oil
2 tbsp flour
2 cups milk
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine flour, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, and black pepper in a large resealable plastic bag or large bowl with a lid.  Add chicken pieces, seal, and toss to coat chicken evenly.  Place a cooling rack on top of a baking sheet, and arrange floured chicken pieces on the cooling rack.  Place in the refrigerator for an hour.  Remove from fridge.

Put Crisco and canola oil in a 12” skillet and heat to about 325°.  Add half of the chicken pieces and cook until golden brown on one side, about 12-15 minutes.  Carefully flip each piece over and cook another 12-15 or until internal temperature reads 180°.  Remove chicken from skillet and place on a plate lined with paper towels.

Remove all but 2 tbsp of oil in the skillet.  Stir in 2 tbsp flour and cook for a minute or two.  Slowly whisk in the milk, and bring to a boil.  When it starts to thicken, reduce heat to low.  Taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper if necessary.  Serve with fried chicken and mashed potatoes.

Makes 4 servings.

Putting the chicken in the fridge for an hour may seem odd, but I used that technique when I made my Crispy Baked Orange Teriyaki Wings and they had the crispiest, yummiest golden brown skin, so I thought why not try it with fried chicken.  An hour in the fridge kind of dries out the skin just a tad so that it can't get soggy at all.  My fried chicken had a perfect golden brown crust that didn't have a tendency to fall off, like some do.  I was very pleased with it.

This chicken made the perfect summertime meal with mashed potatoes, pan gravy, and corn.  Yum!

While it turned out perfectly, I certainly won't be in any hurry to make it again soon.  It was pretty labor-intensive, a mess to clean up (I was reminded of why I don't ever fry things), and the oil splattered and burned me into 2 places.  But I am really glad I did it, and now I can say that I have successfully made fried chicken!

Check out all the great fried chicken recipes below and come back next month too see what kind of unique cheesecake recipe I come up with!

03 July 2012

Happy Fourth of July!! I hope you all get to enjoy the day, celebrating in your favorite way.  If you have been invited to a cook-out or get-together of some type, and haven't yet figured out what to bring, this cake is a great choice.  I saw a patriotic poke cake over at Love Bakes Good Cakes, and I thought it was a great idea.  I love poke cakes, but it had been a while since I had a good ol' jello one.  That recipe called for blue frosting, but I care for regular frosting on a light and fruity poke cake like this.  The only topping I ever had on a jello poke cake was Cool Whip, so I thought, "Why not do blue Cool Whip?"  It was perfect.

Patriotic Poke Cake

1 box (18 oz.) white cake mix 
Eggs, oil, and water called for on cake mix box
2 cups boiling water
2 (3 oz.) boxes cherry jello
1 container Cool Whip
Blue food coloring

Prepare and bake cake according to package directions, using a 9x13” cake pan. Let cool. Using the handle of a wooden spoon, pokes holes in the cake every ½” to 1”. 

Combine the jello and the boiling water. Stir briskly for 2 minutes or until the jello is dissolved. Pour over the cake evenly. Cover and refrigerate cake for 2-4 hours or until jello is set.

Stir blue food coloring into the Cool Whip until you get the desired shade of blue.  Spread Cool Whip on top of cake.  Cut and serve.

Store leftovers in refrigerator.

Makes 16 servings.

You could probably use raspberry or strawberry jello, but I thought cherry would be the reddest red.  I used Wilton's Royal Blue gel food coloring for the topping.  The Cool Whip really is a great topping for this cake.  It keeps it light and airy, which makes it a perfect summertime dessert.

Happy Fourth of July!!

02 July 2012

Today is the last day of the Fourth of July Blog Hop Series hosted by Savannah of Hammock Tracks


Today we are sharing beverage recipes.  There is a pin on Pinterest with a picture of a beautifully pink beverage and the pin description calls it "The Sarasota" and gives the recipe.  The problem with that pin is that the pin originator made up this drink recipe, but didn't bother to photograph it, so she posted the recipe on Pinterest with a picture of someone else's raspberry lemonade recipe that she stole.  It is Pinterest users like that who cause copyright problems.  :(  As soon as I found out the problem with the pin, I deleted it, and recommended that others delete it as well, but I did copy the recipe onto a Word document, because it did sound really good.

So here is "The Sarasota" with a real picture to go along with it!

The Sarasota

1 large bottle of Moscato wine
1 (12 oz.) can of raspberry lemonade concentrate
1 (12 oz.) can of Sprite
Fresh raspberries

Combine all ingredients in a large pitcher.  Enjoy!

Now, I have to say that I didn't make the recipe exactly as stated.  I couldn't find frozen raspberry lemonade in any grocery store around me.  I looked at two of them with no luck, then actually called three others, but no one carries it.  I know that Minute Maid makes it, but they don't have a "where to buy" function on their website, so I have no idea where to buy it.  We ended up getting some last minute from Schwann's, but it was a little bit different.  The containers were smaller, and they didn't make as much as the regular cans do.  So my version was improvised, but it was still really good.  I used Moscato, and a word of warning: it is very sweet.  But I love sweet fruity drinks, so I loved it.  If you don't like your drinks super sweet, try using a drier white wine instead of the Moscato.