31 August 2014

It's time for this month's Secret Recipe Club! 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.  

This month I was assigned the blog Cookin' Mimi written by Micha.  Micha is a Southern California gal who has been cooking all her life.  She has a great collection of recipes. Her Cheddar Potato Bites certainly caught my eye.  How can you go wrong with cheese and potatoes?  Yum.  I was planning a fun picnic dinner for my family, so I wanted something kind of picnic-y.  We have started doing a "Family Fun Night" one night each week and that week we were going to an outdoor concert.  I thought it would be fun to eat a picnic dinner there, so I planned for egg salad sandwiches (my girls love them), chips, and bottled water.  We were missing something. . . ah yes, dessert!  I perused Micha's dessert offerings and came across her Lemon Iced Butter Cookies.  Butter cookies?  I had never made butter cookies before but I was very intrigued by the fact that they did not contain eggs.  I don't think I've ever made cookies that didn't require eggs.  But they sounded absolutely divine so I couldn't wait to try them.  They were perfect for our picnic. 

Iced Lemon Butter Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
½ cup + 2 tbsp sugar
½ tsp salt
2 tsp + 2½ tbsp lemon juice, divided
Zest of 1 lemon
2 cups flour
2¼ cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°.

In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and the sugar.  Mix in the salt, 2 tsp lemon juice, and lemon zest.  Gently fold in the flour.

Form cookies by rolling 2 tbsp dough into a ball.  Place balls on a cookie sheet, leaving room in between for them to spread.  Dip the bottom of a glass into a bit of flour and use the glass to slightly flatten the dough balls.  Don’t smoosh them all the way down; just flatten them slightly.

Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes, or until the edges just barely begin to brown.  Remove from the oven and let cookies cool for at least 10 minutes on the baking sheet.  Transfer them to parchment paper and let them cool completely before icing.

For the icing, stir together the powdered sugar and the remaining 2½ tbsp lemon juice.  The icing should be thick, but if it is too thick, thin it out with a little more lemon juice or water.  Smooth the icing onto the cookies and let them sit for at least 15 minutes.  If the icing is nice and thick, it will harden on the cookies enough for you to stack them.  The cookies will be very soft; handle them gently.

Makes about 16 cookies.

 This is how I flattened the dough balls.  You don't want them totally flat, because they will flatten out even more during baking.  

I didn't change much about Micha's recipe.  First of all, I doubled it because I knew before even starting that my family would devour them.  They love lemony desserts.  I also increased the lemon zest.  I just went ahead and zested a whole lemon.  It was really due to laziness; it was easier than measuring out the zest.  But I always say the more the better when it comes to citrus zest.  I love it.  I didn't use quite as much lemon juice in the icing as Micha did.  I wanted to be able to stack these cookies in a container to take them to the concert.  So I made the icing nice and thick and it did a great job of setting up.  It doesn't get super duper hard, but it gets solid enough to stack.

 These cookies are super delicate and soft.  Tender, you might say.  I had to be careful putting them in my container, because some of them wanted to kind of fold in half.  But the delicate nature of them is part of why they are so delicious.  The softness and the lemony-ness make them the perfect summertime treat.  They are the ultimate combination of tart and sweet.

My daughter Eva showing me how much she loved her first bite.  As a control freak mother, I appreciated how the icing set up so that these cookies weren't a horrible mess all over my kids' faces.

These cookies were just perfect for our Family Fun Night picnic.  I think the people sitting next to us were getting pretty jealous watching us savor our delicious homemade cookies!  It was a great send-off for summer.

Happy Labor Day!  School starts tomorrow.  Eek!


    An InLinkz Link-up

30 August 2014

This is the coffeecake I made for last month's Lutheran Confessions study at our church.  It's like a Bible study, but instead of studying the Bible, we study The Book of Concord.  My husband (the pastor) leads the study, and while I don't attend (I stay home with the kiddos), my contribution each month is supplying the goodies.  It's a morning event, so I always make either a coffeecake or muffins.  I saw this cake from Pillsbury, and since my husband loves all things orange, I had to give it a try.  

Orange Almond Coffeecake

1 can refrigerated orange flavor sweet rolls with icing
¼ cup orange marmalade
⅓ cup flour
2 tbsp sugar
¼ cup almond paste, crumbled
3 tbsp cold butter, cubed
2 tbsp sliced almonds, toasted

Preheat oven to 350°.  Spray a 9” round cake pan with baking spray. 

Separate dough into 8 rolls. (Reserve icing.) Press rolls in bottom of pan. Drop marmalade by ½ tablespoonfuls evenly over each roll.

In medium bowl, mix flour and sugar. With pastry blender, cut in almond paste and butter until mixture looks like fine crumbs. Sprinkle evenly over dough.

Place pan in oven on pan with sides. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Remove the lid from the icing container.  Microwave icing on High for 10 seconds; stir. Immediately drizzle over coffee cake; sprinkle with nuts. Cool 20 minutes.  Cut into wedges.

Makes 8 servings.

 Separate the rolls and flatten them slightly in the cake pan.  Top each with a generous dollop of orange marmalade.

 Streusel topping, then into the oven it goes.  So I have to admit that I have made this cake twice now, and have made mistakes with the recipe both times.  Oops!  Both times I forgot to add the butter to the flour/sugar/almond paste topping mixture.  That's why it looks so powdery and crumbly.  But just so you know, it's still really good even if you forget the butter!  All of the pics in this post are butter-less.  But next time I will try to remember to add the butter.

The other mistake I made the first time (the time I made it for the Confessions Study) was that I totally forgot to add the orange drizzle and the toasted almonds.  Doh!  That's the best part!  Amazingly enough, even without those awesome additions, it was a huge hit at the study and I was begged for the recipe.  Just wait til they try it with the drizzle and the almonds!

You can see the separation of the rolls a little bit, but it still stays together well when cut into wedges.

The orange and almond flavors pair so well together.  The sweetness of the marmalade and the drizzle and the toasty crunch of the sliced almonds take this cake to a whole new level.  It's absolutely divine with a hot cup of coffee.

29 August 2014

I didn't get great pics of this chicken, but I'm sharing it with you anyway because it's so good you just have to try it.  Looking for something a little more interesting than "burgers and dogs" to grill on Labor Day?  This recipe is what you need.  I love grilling chicken and I almost always have either thighs or drumsticks in the freezer because they go on sale so cheap, so often.  You can't go wrong by grilling them and slathering them with your favorite barbecue sauce, but sometimes it's fun to change up the flavor profile.  I found this recipe for honey mustard chicken on the grill at Simply Scratch.  Here's my version.

Grilled Honey Mustard Chicken

½ cup Dijon mustard
½ cup honey
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
½ tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp salt
6 drumsticks, skinned

In a small bowl, stir together the mustard, honey, vinegar, paprika, and salt.  Pour out ¼ cup and set aside.  Pour remaining marinade into a gallon-sized plastic bag.  Add chicken and seal bag.  Marinate as long as you desire: anywhere between 30 minutes and 8 hours.

Preheat grill to medium heat.  Place drumsticks on grill and discard marinade in bag.  Grill chicken for about 8 minutes per side, or until completely cooked through.  Remove from grill and brush each drumstick with reserved marinade.

Makes 4-6 servings.

My daughter saw this on the grill and asked why I was grilling apples.  They do look like apples, but they are red potatoes.  My Grilled Potato Wedges go really well with this chicken.

Oh my goodness.  This chicken is so good.  The honey mustard works perfectly as both a marinade and an after-cooking sauce to brush on.  The vinegar makes the chicken extremely moist and tender and provides the perfect amount of zing.  

You can certainly use boneless breasts for this too.  Just adjust the cooking time accordingly.  

What will you be cooking up on Labor Day?

27 August 2014

Something super exciting happened to me today.  I had two recipes published in the newspaper!  I know this is nothing special for a lot of food bloggers, but it's huge for me!  I got a call out of the blue last Wednesday from a journalist for the Kenosha News saying that they were doing an article on ways to use up garden tomatoes.  She kinda already knew me because she interviewed my husband and me back in February for an article on people who recently moved to Kenosha (we had lived here about a year then).  I happened to mention my blog during that interview, so then when she was assigned to this tomato article, she thought of me.  She had already perused my blog looking for tomato recipes and had picked out two that she wanted to highlight.  They are my Tomato Essence Sauce and my Tomato and Smoked Mozzarella Tart with Garlic Herb Crust.  They are both great uses for garden tomatoes.  Here is a link to the article, but I think you have to be a paid subscriber to see it in its entirety:  10 Things To Do With All Those Tomatoes

Here is a pic I took of the paper version:

You can click on the pic to see a larger version of it.

I provided points 3, 5, and 8.  I am referred to as "Kenosha foodie Lesa Roemke."  Love it!  This isn't technically my first time having a recipe published in a newspaper.  I was a finalist in a holiday recipe contest in Kalamazoo, Michigan in 2011 and that recipe was printed along with all the other finalists.  But today's article is kind of more like a "feature" of my recipes and my blog and it's so exciting for me.

Since this article is all about using up tomatoes, I was wondering if I had a recipe to share with you today that included fresh tomatoes.  I love tomatoes, so of course, I found one!  I wouldn't call tomatoes the star of this pizza (it does have bacon!), but it plays a very important role.  This is a pizza I've made a couple of times now and it's always a bit hit with my family.  It got it from BlogChef.

Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza

1 lb. pizza dough
½ cup ranch dressing
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked, and chopped
1-2 fresh tomatoes, seeded and diced
2 cups shredded cheese
½ lb. bacon, cooked and crumbled

Preheat oven to 425°.  Sprinkle a little cornmeal on a large pizza pan.  Stretch the pizza dough out on the pan to your desired size and thickness.  Bake in preheated oven 10-15 minutes or until it starts to lightly brown around the edges.  Remove from the oven.

Spread ranch dressing in an even layer over the crust. Top with chicken, bacon, tomatoes and cheese.  Return to the oven and bake until the cheese has melted and the crust is golden brown. 

Makes 1 large pizza.

This time of year, I grill the chicken, of course, but when grilling isn't possible, like in the winter, you can cook these chicken breasts any way you like.  On the stove top would probably be the fastest.

How can you go wrong with chicken, bacon, tomatoes, and cheese with ranch dressing?  I made a slight variation on this pizza once: my dough recipe makes a bit too much for one large pizza.  So I usually take off about a third of it and make a smaller pizza for my daughters.  Since my youngest is allergic to dairy, sometimes ranch dressing bothers her (esp if it's buttermilk ranch), so I made the smaller pizza with honey mustard instead of ranch.  I sneaked a bite; it was delicious too.

Like I said, the tomatoes aren't the star of this pizza, but the pop of bright color and bright acidity amid all the other heavy ingredients are really important.

What's your favorite way to use up garden tomatoes?

23 August 2014

Another zucchini recipe for you today.  I was blessed with some great garden zucchini while on vacation in Indiana in July, and I wanted to make some muffins for my girls.  I was definitely thinking chocolate, and I wanted to throw some oats in there too.  I had a hard time finding the perfect recipe.  Most chocolate zucchini muffin recipes called for yogurt or sour cream, which I wanted to avoid since my little one is allergic to dairy.  The other problem I had was finding recipes that were a little too healthy, calling for flax seed, gluten-free flours, and no sugar.  I wanted them somewhat healthy, but I also wanted my kids to eat them!  (And I had recently had a bad experience with some super healthy blueberry oat bars that tasted horrible.)  Finally I found the perfect recipe at Kelly's Cozy Kitchen.  It had chocolate, zucchini, and oats, along with other "normal" muffin ingredients such as eggs, flour, and a bit of sugar to make them palatable.  

Chocolate Oatmeal Zucchini Muffins

2 cups zucchini, grated
¾ cup quick oats
½ cup boiling water
½ cup canola oil
3 eggs
¾ cup sugar
1½ cups flour
½ cup cocoa powder
1¼ tsp baking soda
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp salt
Chocolate chips, optional

Preheat oven to 350°.  Coat 12 muffin cups with baking spray.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the zucchini and the oats.  Pour in the boiling water and mix to combine.  Add the oil, eggs, and sugar and mix.  Add the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.  Mix gently; just until the dry ingredients are barely moistened.  If adding chocolate chips, do so now.  Be careful not to over mix, though.

Fill the muffin cups completely full.  The batter will be wet, so it’s kind of messy.  Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool for 5 minutes in the muffin tin, then remove the muffins to a cooling rack.

Makes 12 muffins.

I was so confident that these muffins were winners that I went ahead and doubled the recipe the first time I made it.  That was risky!  (A risk that didn't pan out with the blueberry oat bars, pun intended!)  I'm glad I did because my daughters wolfed these babies down!  

You can see in the pic above that the little green flecks of zucchini are somewhat visible amidst all the chocolatey goodness.  I shooed the girls outside while I was making them so that they wouldn't see all the zucchini that was going in there (we had been eating zucchini pretty much everyday that week and I was pretty sure they were sick of it).  They did notice the green flecks, but that didn't deter them one bit from enjoying these muffins. You can reduce the visibility of the flecks by either peeling the zucchini or using a large zucchini that has a smaller skin-to-flesh ratio, but I feel like they're healthier with the skin included.

 My girls gobbled these muffins down so quickly that I was afraid I wouldn't get a pic, so I stashed a gallon-sized bag full of them in the freezer for later.  So the ones in the pics above were frozen and thawed.  Just as good as fresh.

I only made a couple of changes to Kelly's recipe.  She added 1 tbsp of coffee, but I left that out since I was making them for kids.  She also called for a whole tsp of salt.  I was doubling the recipe and couldn't fathom adding 2 tsp of salt, so I only did one.  Even with the salt cut in half, I thought they were a tad on the salty side.  So next time I think a quarter of a tsp will be fine.

You can certainly add chocolate chips to these and that would be heavenly, but since they already contained a fair amount of sugar, I skipped the chips.  

These would make great Back-to-School muffins!

If you like chocolate muffins, check these out:


21 August 2014

It's time for this month's Improv Challenge!

The premise of the Improv 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 beans and bacon.  Great combo!  I knew exactly what I wanted to make.  My first thought was baked beans.  I love baked beans.  Sweet, with a slightly tomato-y tangy sauce, made even better with some beautiful bacon crisped on top. Mmm, can't go wrong with that.  But have you ever had savory baked beans?  You don't see them very often, but they are just as tasty as their sweet counterparts.  And they are equally perfect for that end-of-summer picnic you've been invited to.  I made these for our church picnic a couple of weeks ago.  Perfect potluck side dish.  I got this recipe from Cooking Light a few years ago.  This recipe uses large lima beans, onion, carrot, and of course, bacon!

Savory Baked Lima Beans

2 cups dried large lima beans
10 cups water
4 bacon slices, chopped
½ large onion, chopped
1 cup matchstick carrots
2 tbsp butter, softened
1 tsp salt

Rinse beans.  In a Dutch oven, combine beans and 10 cups cold water.  Bring to a rolling boil; boil for 2 minutes.  Remove from heat; cover and let stand 1 hour.  Drain the beans, reserving 2 cups of the soaking liquid.  Rinse and wipe out the Dutch oven.

Preheat oven to 300°.

Cook bacon in the Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan with a slotted spoon; set aside. Add onion and carrot to drippings in pan; sauté 5 minutes or until beginning to soften. Add beans, bacon, reserved bean water, butter, and salt; stir well.

Cover and bake for 2-2½ hours or until beans are tender, stirring every hour.  When done, taste for seasoning, adding more salt if necessary.

Makes about 8 cups.

My six-year-old daughter, Lena, who doesn't like sweet baked beans, loves these savory ones.  I was surprised because I usually can't get her to eat beans of any sort.  They were also popular at the church picnic.

Cooking the beans in the liquid they soaked in is really the key to this recipe.  The Cooking Light recipe didn't call for that; it just said to drain the beans, then add 2 cups of water before baking.  But I remembered reading somewhere (can't remember where now) that it's good to use that soaking liquid for cooking.  Not only does it contain some of the nutrients that leached out of the beans, but it contains starch too, and that created the creamy consistency of the finished dish.  It was so creamy that my daughter asked what was in the "sauce" because she loved it.  She was very surprised when I told her there was no sauce!  Then we had a mini lesson on starches. :)

I use the quick-soak method for preparing the beans.  It's faster much faster and I think it gives great results.  The beans come out perfectly tender.  You will find that some of the skins slough off, but not too many.

I think this dish could very easily be adapted for the slow cooker.  I would go ahead and do the quick soak on the beans, then cook the bacon and saute the onions and carrot just as listed above.  Then instead of baking it, put it in a small slow cooker.  I think I would try cooking it on high, but I'm not sure how long it would take.  Definitely still stir it every hour to get that creamy consistency.  I will have to try it this way next time I make it.

So if you're looking for a great dish to take to your upcoming Labor Day cook-out, give this recipe a try.  People will be pleasantly surprised that baked beans can be savory!

Check out all the other great beans and bacon recipes below and come back next month to see what I make with milk and honey!


    An InLinkz Link-up

18 August 2014

Here's another great grilled meatless main dish for you.  Have you ever tried grilling quesadillas?  It's a cinch!  Not much different than doing them on the stovetop, and with the added benefit of being able to cook a lot of them at once.  On the stovetop it's always one at a time.  Since this was our meatless meal of the week, I just did a simple black bean and corn filling.  But you can stuff these with anything you like.  The possibilities are endless!

Grilled Black Bean and Corn Quesadillas

1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
¾ tsp ground cumin
Flour tortillas (12 small or 8 medium)
Olive oil
1 (15 oz.) can corn, drained
Shredded cheese
Salsa, sour cream, guacamole, if desired

Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

Place black beans in a medium bowl and use a potato masher to mash them to your desired consistency.  They should be mashed enough that they will help hold the quesadillas together, but feel free to leave some chunks in there too.  Stir in the cumin.

Take a flour tortilla and lightly brush one side with olive oil.  Place it oil side down and spread a thin layer of beans on the other side.  Sprinkle with corn kernels and top with shredded cheese.  Press down on the cheese to adhere it and the corn to the beans.  Top with another tortilla and brush the top with more olive oil.  Repeat this process for however many quesadillas you want.  You can stack them on a plate or a platter to take outside to the grill.

Lay the quesadillas on the grill and press down on the top as soon as the cheese begins to melt.  Cook for a few minutes until grill marks form.  Carefully flip each quesadilla over and grill for a few more minutes, or until grill marks form on second side and edges begin to get brown and crispy.  Remove quesadillas from grill.  Cut into wedges and serve with salsa, sour cream, guacamole, or anything else you desire.

Makes 4 servings.

Beautiful grill marks.

These were a big hit with my family.  And since the ingredients are all pantry staples, this makes a great go-to recipe for busy weeknights or sudden changes of plans.  They're great for lunches too.

15 August 2014

Hey!  Guess what!  This is the 600th recipe posted on my blog!  Wow!  I've been posting recipes here for almost 7 1/2 years, but since I don't post very regularly, it's hard to believe there are 600 recipes here. But Blogger's post count doesn't lie, so I know it's true!  Here's to the next 100!

This is a super summery recipe that I have made twice this season.  Pappardelle pasta tossed in a slightly lemony, slightly creamy sauce with lemon pepper roasted salmon.  It's adapted from Taming of the Spoon.

Lemony Salmon Pappardelle

3 (4 oz.) salmon fillets
Lemon pepper
8 oz. pappardelle pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, grated
4 tsp lemon juice
½ cup low sodium vegetable broth
1 tsp cornstarch
2-3 tbsp light sour cream
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
Zest of 1 lemon
Fresh dill, chopped

Preheat oven to 400°. Season salmon fillets with salt and lemon pepper and place on a foil lined baking sheet. Roast salmon in oven for 15-20 minutes or until salmon is cooked through.

Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling water, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add garlic and sauté until soft and fragrant, about 30-60 seconds.  Combine lemon juice, broth, and cornstarch in a measuring cup.  Add to the skillet and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, whisk in sour cream, stirring to combine. Add in Parmesan cheese; cook about 3 minutes to heat through but do not boil.  Taste and season with salt if necessary. Add pasta to cream mixture and gently mix to evenly coat noodles. Continue to mix until the sauce thickens slightly and clings to pasta. Break the salmon into large chunks and gently stir into the pasta mixture.  Garnish with lemon zest and fresh dill.

Makes 4 servings.

 This is the pappardelle I used.  Pappardelle is great in this dish, but if you can't find it at your regular store, you can certainly use linguine or fettuccine.  I couldn't find it the first time I made it and used one of those.  I like using the pappardelle though, because it's a little out of the ordinary.  I know Trader Joe's sells a lemon pepper pappardelle because I've used it before in my Lemon Pepper Pappardelle with Roasted Garlic Sauce.  I don't get to Trader Joe's very often, though, so I just used a pappardelle from my local Italian deli and grocery store.  

I love this dish!  It's perfect because it is slightly creamy, but not super heavy like an alfredo sauce.  Just a touch of creaminess coating the noodles.  And the lemon flavor is just perfect.  Noticeable, but not overpowering or sour.  And lemon pairs with salmon so well.  

I love dill and lemon together (especially on salmon), so I garnished this with fresh dill from my herb garden.  Lovely!

My daughters loved the pappardelle.  They thought it was hilarious to pretend the noodles were long wagging tongues.  (They are in a phase where they like to pretend they are puppy dogs.)

Even though it is starting to feel like fall here (it was 46 last night!), I am determined to keep making summery food!  Tonight I'm making another citrus-y salmon dish that I will share with you soon.

13 August 2014

Did you know you could grill a whole chicken?  No spatchcocking or beer can required!  This is something I had been wanting to try for a while now.  I did lots of research online about the best way to do it.  I was dissappointed to find that every article I read online said that you can't get a whole chicken to cook evenly on the grill without spatchcocking it.  If you are unfamiliar with that term, it means that you cut the spine out of the chicken and lay it out so it lays completely flat.  I know that it works really well and produces great chicken, but I really wanted to try it whole.  The only way anybody endorsed doing it whole was by sitting it on a beer can.  You no doubt have seen that.  I'm sure that works well too, but I don't like beer and wanted to lay this guy down on his back.  I was feeling discouraged, and then I remembered my old grilling pal, Steven Raichlen.  I have his grilling "bible" How to Grill and I love it.  I turn to it whenever I have any grilling questions.  I looked up chicken in the index in the back, and when I found the chapter on chicken, I was delighted to find that he begins with three different ways to grill a whole chicken.  Yes!  If Steven Raichlen recommends it, I know I can't go wrong!  This is seriously the easiest thing ever.  You just season your chicken, stuff some aromatics inside, set it on the grill, close the lid, and forget about it for two hours.  No flipping or moving around or anything.  So easy peasy!

Barbecued Whole Chicken

1 whole chicken (4-6 lbs.)
Lemon or apple
2 tbsp barbecue rub
Kitchen twine

Set up grill for indirect heat.  On a charcoal grill, place all the charcoal on one side, leaving the other side empty.  On a gas grill, turn burner on one side to medium and leave the other side off.  

Pat chicken dry with paper towels.  Put cut lemon or apple inside the cavity.  Tie legs together using kitchen twine.  Place some of the barbecue rub underneath the skin of the chicken on the breast and on the legs.  Sprinkle the rest of the rub all over the chicken, front and back.  It should be well coated.  

When the grill is hot, place the chicken, breast side up, on the cool side of the grill.  Cover grill and cook for about 2 hours.  Start checking it at 1 1/2 hours, especially if your bird is on the smaller side.  Use a thermometer to make sure it reaches 160°.  Remove from grill and let rest for a few minutes before carving.

Makes 6 servings.

The trick is indirect heat.  If you put the chicken directly over the hot flame, the skin will burn LONG before the meat is cooked through.  By turning off the burner right below the chicken and closing the lid, you are basically recreating an oven, which is the ideal way to cook a whole chicken.  On my grill, there are three burners and they run across left to right.  So I turned the back burner on medium, the middle burner on low, and the front burner off.  I set the chicken as close to the front as I could and still close the lid.  I was surprised that it was done at 2 hours since I had a big 6 lb. bird.  

I didn't get a pic after we carved this guy; we couldn't wait to dig in!  The dark meat (my fav) was juicy and fall-apart tender.  The breast (hubby's fav) was moist and tender also.  Perfection.  I used my favorite barbecue rub, but you can season this chicken any way you like. 

I served this chicken with grilled broccoli (I use a basket for that) and cheesy broccoli rice.  It was a truly awesome meal.

11 August 2014

You know what I haven't shared for a while? A new meatless main dish.  I have still been doing a meatless dish for dinner one night a week.  My husband and kids have come to look forward to these nights.  I have several recipes that are always popular that I can go to, but I'm always searching for new ones to try out as well.  Summertime brings a great range of new possibilities with grilling.  Using the grill for meatless dishes is a really great idea because the grill often invokes a "meaty" flavor to veggies or whatever you are grilling.  It kind of tricks your brain into thinking that you are eating meat when you are not.  I got the idea for these sandwiches from Better Recipes.  Grilled zucchini, squash, and mushrooms piled on a sandwich roll with creamy hummus.  I put my own twist on it by marinating the veggies in Greek dressing and topping the sandwiches with tangy feta cheese.  Not a chance of missing the meat with these awesome sandwiches!

Greek Grilled Veggie and Hummus Sandwiches

2 medium or large zucchini
2 medium or large yellow squash
8 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced
Greek vinaigrette salad dressing
Greek seasoning
6 Sandwich rolls
Prepared hummus
Crumbled feta cheese
Sliced Kalamata olives

Cut zucchini and yellow squash into thin planks.  Place them and the mushrooms into a large resealable bag.  Pour Greek dressing in the bag, just enough to cover the veggies.  Seal bag and marinate veggies in fridge for at least a couple of hours.

Preheat grill to medium-high.  Remove veggies from bag and sprinkle with Greek seasoning.  Grill on one side until grill marks form.  Flip over and grill the other side until veggies are tender.  Use a grill basket for the mushrooms.

Toast sandwich rolls if desired.  Spread each sandwich roll with a smear of hummus, pile on the grilled veggies, and top with feta cheese and sliced olives.

Makes about 6 sandwiches.

 This is what I mean by "planks".  I used Ken's Greek Dressing, but any Greek dressing would be great.  Of course, I used Penzey's for the Greek seasoning.

 You can use any veggies you like, of course.  Red pepper would be a great choice if you like that.

This is one heck of a sandwich!  

08 August 2014

Did you hear that it's National Zucchini Day?  If you have a garden, I bet you are still thinking up different ways to use your zucchini.  Zucchini bread is the first thing that comes to many people's minds, but have you noticed that it's always a sweet bread?  Zucchini is a vegetable, which is why I find it funny that you rarely hear anyone talk about a savory zucchini bread.  Well, you will today!  This is a recipe I discovered last summer.  A savory zucchini bread studded with cheddar cheese.  It's adapted from No Recipes.

Cheddar Zucchini Bread

Olive oil and flour for coating the pan
12 oz. zucchini, about 1½ medium
1 tsp salt
1½ cups flour
1 tbsp sugar
1½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
3 large eggs
⅓ cup olive oil
2 tbsp water
1 tsp dried dill
1¼ cups cheddar cheese, shredded, divided

Preheat the oven to 350°. Spread a thin layer of olive oil evenly onto every inner surface of a standard 9"x5" loaf pan. Dust with flour to coat evenly, making sure to not miss any spots.

Remove the ends of the zucchini, then shred it into a colander using the large side of a box grater. Add the salt and toss to distribute evenly. Leave the colander in the sink or over a bowl and allow the excess water to drain from the zucchini for at least 15 minutes. 

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, and paprika together.  In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, olive oil, and water together until the mixture has emulsified and it's light and frothy. Add the drained zucchini and dill in with the egg mixture and stir to combine. Dump the egg mixture into the flour mixture and use a spatula to fold everything together until the mixture is just combined. Stir in 1 cup of the cheddar cheese.  Be careful not to over-mix the batter or the bread will become tough.

Pour batter into the prepared pan, smoothing out the top.  Sprinkle the remaining ¼ cup of cheese on top.  Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes.  Remove it from the oven and allow it to cool for 10 minutes in the pan, and then transfer it to a wire rack and let it cool completely.

Makes 1 loaf.

 Isn't it beautiful?  The smoked paprika not only gives it great flavor, but it lends beautiful color as well.  

I suggest using  medium zucchini for this bread, and definitely don't peel it.  You want those gorgeous flecks of green running through the bread.  I don't recommend large zucchini because, first of all, you have to remove the large seeds, and second of all, the green-to-white ratio is lower with a large zucchini.  I would also suggest using the thicker-cut shredded cheddar instead of the fine cut.  That way you can see the flecks of orange in it too.

Dill is my favorite herb to pair with zucchini, but thyme would be good too if you prefer it.

I took this bread a party last weekend and it was a big hit.  It's not your run-of-the-mill zucchini bread.  I am not much of a baker, but it comes out perfectly every time.  It's good with a smear of butter, of course, but it definitely doesn't need it.  It's great all by itself.

So if you have plans to make zucchini bread this weekend, think savory!

03 August 2014

It's time for this month's Secret Recipe Club! 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 the blog Sweet As Sugar Cookies, written by Lisa.  I have been reading Lisa's blog for a long time and we've been in Group A together for three years now, so I was surprised to realize I had never been assigned her blog before.  Even though she has a few savory dishes on there, I knew that I had go sweet this month.  Lisa has so many great sweets.  I was tempted to try her Lemon Meringue Pie since I have never made it before, but in the end I went with something a little less daunting.   I needed to take a dessert to our friends' house when we went over for dinner, and I knew that my friend just loves shortbread bars, so I decided to try her White Chocolate Lime Shortbread Bars.  I thought they were just perfect for summer.  

White Chocolate Lime Shortbread Bars

½ lb. (2 sticks) butter, softened
¾ cups powdered sugar
1¼ cups granulated sugar, divided
½ tbsp vanilla 
2 cups + ⅓ cup flour, divided
2 large eggs, room temperature
Zest of 1 lime, grated finely
⅓ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
White chocolate, squares or baking chips

Preheat oven to 325°.  Coat an 8x8”, 9x9”, or 11x7” baking dish with baking spray.

In a mixing bowl, cream butter, powdered sugar, and ½ cup granulated sugar.  Stir in vanilla, then gently fold in 2 cups of flour.  Divide mixture in half and place half in the prepared baking dish.  Spread evenly on the bottom.  Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes.  Remove and let cool.

In another bowl, whisk together eggs, lime zest, lime juice, remaining ¾ cup granulated sugar, and remaining ⅓ cup flour.  Pour this mixture over the bottom crust.  Crumble remaining shortbread dough on top, covering it evenly.  Return to oven and bake another 25 minutes, or until filling is set and top begins to turn golden.  Remove from oven and let cool.

Melt some white chocolate in the microwave until it is the right consistency to drizzle.  Drizzle the white chocolate over the cooled bars.  Let sit for a few minutes, then cut into squares and serve.

Makes 9-12 servings.

These are so yummy!  The lime flavor is just right; not sour or overpowering.  I love the little flecks of green the zest provides. The white chocolate drizzle is optional, of course, and the bars are still good without it, but it adds a nice finishing touch.  And I think it's pretty too.  

I only made a couple of minor changes to Lisa's recipe.  Her recipe didn't say what temperature to bake them at, so I checked that out at the source she got it from.  I used large eggs instead of extra large because that's what I had. They seemed to work fine.  The only other thing I changed was that the original recipe called for baking after the addition of each layer.  I did it that way, but I had trouble getting the top layer to brown.  I felt like the lime layer got a little more done than necessary while I was trying to get the top to brown.  So next time I will bake the bottom crust, then add the lime layer and the top at the same time and bake those together.

I like how these bars are flexible on what size dish to bake them in.  I made two batches; one in an 11x7 to take to our friends' house, and a 9x9 to photograph later.  They both worked just fine.  And I'm sure an 8x8 would be fine too.

Our friends loved these bars and we did too.  They were a big hit with the kids and the adults alike.  Thanks for a great recipe, Lisa!


    An InLinkz Link-up