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I wanted to do a large post before we embark on our trip.  I’ve been making a bunch of easy summer dinners, that are very straight forward.  Some of these will be repeats that I’ve made over the years.  Sorry trying to make it easy here. But I think this will be a post where anyone can find something they like.  I’m sure some of you are like…uggghhhh pizza again, or ice cream again.  Well no need to complain because this one will be filled with a bunch of yummy, and easy stuff to make.  Hope all of you are having a great summer.  I look forward to blogging while we are away!!!

1.  Flank Steak with sauteed corn and peppers

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This one couldn’t be more easy.  First season your steak with salt and pepper.  Make sure your meat is room temp.  Heat your pan (I prefer cast iron) make sure your pan is nice and hot.  Heat the oil, and at that last minute squeeze a full lemon onto the steak. Cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side.  Let your meat rest.  Next take two ears of corn and slice the corn off, and then chop up a red pepper.  Re heat pan.  Add a tablespoon or two of butter.  Sautee your corn and pepper in the same pan your steak was in so it takes on the meats juices, add salt and pepper.  While the corn and peppers are cooking, cut up a whole heirloom tomato, chop some cilantro, and zest of one lime.  Once the corn and peppers are browned and somewhat caramelized, add your tomatoes, lime zest, juice of one lime, and cilantro.  Next slice steak and serve with corn sautee.

 

2. Pan sauteed halibut, with fennel slaw

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This one couldn’t be more easy.  And I will say this has been my favorite thing to make this summer.  It’s light, clean, and really tasty.  To make your slaw thinly slice one fennel bulb, an english cucumber, pulled dill, juice of one lime, about 1/2 cup sour cream, and salt and pepper.  Toss, cover and put in frig.  Rinse your halibut, and then towel dry with a paper towel.  Season with salt and pepper.  Heat a pan, once it’s hot add a tab of butter.  Place fish in the pan.  Cook on both sides for about 5-7 minutes.  It depends on how thick your fish is. You can also finish it in the oven at 350, once you flipped it once.  Let the fish cool for minute before serving with slaw.

 

3. Green salad with spicy chicken sausage

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I swear any salad will taste divine if your can make a really good vinaigrette.  I love making my own dressings, so easy and so much better for you.   Add whatever you like to your salad.  This salad just has big chunks of heirloom tomatoes, avocado to make it creamy, and cucumber.  Simple as can be.  So to make a good vinaigrette.  Have a jar on hand that has a tight lid.  I save my jam jars, they work the best.  A pinch of kosher salt, a few spins of pepper, a teaspoon of a good Dijon mustard, about 2-3 tablespoons olive oil, and about 1-2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, you can also add some finely chopped shallot.  You can always add to your dressing, I just eyeball it all.   For your sausage just satuee in a hot cast iron pan, and serve with Dijon mustard, or a grain mustard.

 

4. Roasted chicken with dates, and olives, served with saffron rice

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This recipe comes from one my favorite cook books Jerusalem.  A friend had me over for dinner about 6 weeks ago and made this and it was to die for.  And not hard at all.  I knew I wanted to blog this as soon as I had it.  You will love this one.

Here’s the link for the rice dish

Here’s the link for the chicken

 

5.  Fish Tacos

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Link for fish tacos

 

6.  Jim’s Green chilli pozole

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Link for Pozole

 

7. Zucchini and Buratta salad

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Link for salad

 

8. Heirloom carrot salad

heirloom carrot and cucumber ginger salad....this is my new favorite summer salad

Link for salad

 

9. Marinated buffalo cheese tossed with heirloom tomatoes

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Link for salad

 

10. Vicky’s chicken salad

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Link for salad

 

11. And to make it worthy Pizza and chopped salad

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Link for Pizza and salad

 

END SCENE!!!!

 

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Summer so far is going by so fast.  Before I know it we are going to be on a plane to Houston-Philly-LA.  Three weeks total of travel and vacation.  We are going to Houston to celebrate my in-laws 50th wedding anniversary.  Wow…..can you say wow.  50 years!!!!!  Quite a big deal I’d say!!  Then we are off to New Jersey for a week at the beach.  That will be fun too, one because the beach is always relaxing, and two Oliver will be with his two cousins who are closer to his age, and they can run around on the beach and have at it.  I plan on posting while we are on vacation, hopefully more.

 

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I’ve been wanting to make a popsicle post for a while, but wanted to do something worthy and really tasty.  Believe me these are crazy creamy, yummy, and basically taste like ice cream.  Canned coconut milk is a dream come true for cooking any kind food, and desserts too.  I always forget about it, and need to use it more.  It’s heavenly and add some perfectly ripe roasted strawberries….end of story!!!!  If you like coconut or strawberries you are guaranteed to love these.

Our Friends Jeff and Emily invited us over for a BBQ the day after the 4th of July.  I was excited to see their new house, it’s awesome.  The house is great and big, and they have a beautiful park right across the street.  WOW!!!!  I decided to make these for the party.  I knew the adults would like them, but wasn’t sure about the kids.  Well I’m happy to say that the kids loved them.  Win win all around!!

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Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2  14oz. cans canned organic coconut milk (make sure you get full fat)
  • 1 lb. organic strawberries
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • popsicle sticks

 

Directions:

Pre-heat oven 425.  Wash and slice strawberries.  Place on cookie sheet, you can line it with parchment to make it less messy.  Cook for about 15 minutes.  Let strawberries cool.  Next take both cans of coconut milk, add sugar, and scrapped vanilla pod with pod, and bring to a simmer.  Once it’s come to a simmer take off the heat and let it sit for about 30 minutes.  Once it’s cooled strain into bowl, and add strawberries to bowl.  Mix and add to popsicle holders.  If you don’t have holders, just use plastic cups.  Make sure you add your sticks too.  Freeze for about 2 hours or over night.

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Ice cream is one of my favorite things to make, especially in the summer.  Oliver has taken a liking to ice cream, and who can blame him.  I made the custard part the night before, so the following morning when I was chopping the chocolate and cherries, I was explaining to Oliver that I was making ice cream.  Maybe not the smartest thing to tell your two year old at 9 am.  He kept pointing to the freezer and asking for ice cream, and then the melt down started.  Like I said who can blame him, ice cream is delicious, creamy, and satisfying.  And he’s getting his dairy and fruits right??!!!  As much I wanted to give into his whim, I dealt with his melt down, and promised he could have some later that day.

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We went you our friend Kyra and Greg’s house for a pool party.  It was a blast, and tons of fun.  I got to see a bunch of friends I hadn’t seen in a long time, which is always so nice to do, and catch up.  Oliver was the only kid there, so he had the run of the joint.  He helped himself to cupcakes (two I might add which turned his tongue blue, then red), rice krispy treats, Greg’s skate board (we had a face plant and scratched nose from that one), and then ice cream.  But before you judge me he did eat plenty of healthy food that day.  But I let him go wild, and he did, and it was fun for the day to see him enjoy it all!!  It was a great 4th of July.  Hope you all had a great holiday too.

 

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 6 egg yolks (room temp)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 4 oz. dark chocolate
  • 1lb. cherries

Directions:

Add yolks and sugar to bowl, whisk and place aside.  Next add your milk and scraped vanilla pod to a sauce pan.  Bring to a steep.  Once your there you want to temper your eggs.  Slowly add some of the milk to the eggs and sugar.  Whisk until it’s incorporated.  Then slowly add the rest of the milk.  Place sauce pan back onto stove, until it becomes more like a thin creamy custard.  Most likely about 5 minutes.  You need to be careful not to over cook it, and cook your eggs.  Next take off stove and strain into a bowl.  Then add your heavy cream.  Some like to cook the heavy cream in with the milk, I find it comes out creamier and smoother this way.  Cover and keep vanilla pod in bowl.  Place in frig and let it sit over night.  You can also let it sit for a few hours if you want it for that day, but I find it comes out nicer if it sits over night.  The next morning chop your cherries and chocolate.  Take out custard and add to ice cream machine.  Add your cherries and chocolate at the end.  Freeze til it to your liking, or just eat it then!!!  Enjoy!!!

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One thing I really enjoy making is pizza.  It’s really one of the easiest things to make. You can make your own dough, or buy a pre-made dough, or go to your local pizza place and ask them for dough.  Summer is officially here, and let’s enjoy it by eating homemade pizza, good fresh salads, and a glass of rose wine!!

I love eating out on our patio, even though now it’s covered in chalk, many mobile kid toys, and baby pool.  It looks a lot different from a few years ago, but now it looks used and lived in so to speak.  I wouldn’t change it for anything, well maybe some grass and rain would be nice, but we have beautiful weather day in day out, 75 everyday (okay I’m bragging a little ;)).  Enjoy!!!

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Whole wheat pizza dough:

1 cup water, heated to 110 degrees (very warm, almost too hot for comfort)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 envelope (2¼ teaspoons) rapid-rise or instant yeast
2¾ cups white whole wheat flour or regular whole wheat flour
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon sea salt

 

White Pizza with Leeks and Artichokes:

  • 1 leek
  • 1 jar artichokes hearts
  • 1 small container whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • olive oil for brushing and salt and pepper
  • 2 Tbs. butter

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 475 degrees
Whisk water, sugar, oil and yeast in a liquid measuring cup or small bowl. Allow yeast to proof for 5 minutes.
Pulse flour, Parmesan, and salt in food processor until combined. While running the food processor, slowly pour in the water mixture and process until a shaggy ball forms, about 1 minute.
Dump the dough onto a floured work surface and quickly knead dough a few times until it comes together. Halve the dough. Let dough sit in flour for about 20 minutes.  In this time you can prep your veggies or meats, or whatever you’d like to top your pizza with.  If your making this white pizza.  Cook your leeks first, you want them sort of caramelized.  Cook for about 10-15 minutes on low with salt and pepper.  On a floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll dough into two rounds about 11 inches in diameter. I used a large cookie sheet with parchment a baked my this way. When I used a pre-made crust from Whole Foods or wherever I just place this pizza on the oven rack.  Once you’ve rolled out your dough place it on the lined cookie sheet.  Brush the outer edge with olive oil.  Next top with mozzarella, leeks and artichokes.  Then top with ricotta.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook for about 15 minutes.
Chopped Kale Salad:

  • 2 cups tuscan kale (or whatever kale you like)
  • 2 cups hearts of romaine
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella or montery jack
  • 1/2 cup pitted green olives
  • 1/2 cup chopped salami
  • 1/4 cup salted pistatios
  • 1/2 cup diced English cucumber
  • 1/4-1/2 cup roasted red pepper
  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • 1/16-1/8 cup red wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

You can buy roasted peppers or make them yourself.  If you want to make them yourself, you can roast them in the oven at 450, for 20-30 minutes.  Or you can just place them right on the open flame on your stove.  Once the pepper has been blackened, let it sit for about 30 minutes.  Once it has cooled, peel off skin, and cut up.  Season with salt, pepper and a dash of olive oil.  For the salad, cut up your kale and romaine, and then pulse in your Cuisinart.  Put salad together. Then shake your vinegar and olive oil, salt and pepper.  Toss enjoy!!

 

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Warning…warning….. this post is going to be flooded with photos of my favorite two year old!!!  Our boy turned two.  I can’t believe he is two. Oliver is such a sweet, caring, loving oh so loving, and adorable boy.  There are days when I can not believe that I get to be his mama, me!!!  We are a pack, we all are!!!  I’ve realized that every birthday of his brings on new emotions that I feel about him.  When I say two is a magical number, it is, because everyday I feel like I know him more, then the day before if that even makes sense.  Or maybe it’s that I feel closer to him, then I did the day before.  You think how on earth can that be possible, but it is.  Here’s an example we go to story time every Monday, and I love I truly love watching him sing and dance and get excited.  And I know just how lucky I am that I get to be there with him, and I get to see that smile on his face.  I seriously get weepy when I see him do this, or whenever it’s something that gives him pure joy.  I see it over and over, and still have to hold back the tears in public and not make a coo coo fool of myself.  I don’t tire of it, I love it!!! I love this child beyond what I ever thought I could or would love another.  My baby is two, how did this happen so quickly, my baby is two!!!!

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And yes I do have a recipe here, in between all my weepiness.  Our friend just had a baby girl, and get this she had her on Oliver’s birthday.  I was going to make some food to send over to them, but instead decided to make chocolate chip cookies.  Chocolate chip cookies are seriously my favorite cookie ever…ever!!!  I change the recipe all the time, but here is the one I used this time…enjoy!!!

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I leave you with my favorite pictures of Oliver from 1-2 years

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Brown sugar chocolate chip cookies with lots and lots of salt

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter (room temp)
  • 2 eggs (room temp)
  • 1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup turbino (raw) sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour (or the flour of your liking)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 8 ounces dark chocolate, or whatever chocolate you like coarsely chopped
  • 4 -6 tablespoons flaked sea salt (maldon)

Directions:

Chop your chocolate into chunks. Beat butter until smooth.  Add sugar, beat for about a minute.  Add one egg at time after sugar is combined, then vanilla.  Push ingredients down, then mix again.  Next add all your dry ingredients…..DO NOT ADD THE FLAKED SALT TO YOUR DRY INGREDIENTS, THIS IS A TOPPER!!!  Then with a wooden spoon mix in your chocolate.  Roll into log onto plastic wrap.  Chill for an hour.  If you want you can just make these as drop cookies right away, you don’t have to wrap them into log if you don’t have time.  Pre-heat oven 375, once they’ve cooled for an hour.  Cut them into 1/2 slices.  Top with flaked salt. Bake for 9-11 minutes.  Once they’re cripy on the outside but soft in the center, take out of oven and let them sit on the sheet for 10 minutes.  They will still bake a little more.  The key to a good chocolate chip cookie, is the cripy edge and the chewy center.  If you don’t them this way, then you stink, just kidding.. cook them for about 11-12 minutes, and still let them cool on the tray for 10 minutes.  Then cool on wrack and then eat…yum yum…enjoy!!!!

 

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My mom came for a visit over the Easter holiday, and Oliver hasn’t seen my mom since Christmas, so he was a little shy when he first saw her Saturday morning.  He warmed up really fast, and was saying Meme, giving big hugs and kisses. We facetime a few times a week,  but seeing someone in person is the real deal.  It’s really sweet whenever we have a guests staying with us.  Oliver runs to the guestroom when he wakes up and pushes the door open.  Like I’m up let’s play, come on, hop to it.  It’s very sweet, but luckily our guests are up and he’s not waking them, at least I think so.

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We normally go with the flow when we have visitors, and maybe plan a thing or two.  It just seems to work out better that way.  One thing we did plan was a brunch at our house.  Dino and Kevin came, and Kevin brought his new puppy Willa, who Oliver is in love with.  Big dog lover we have here.  It’s so sweet to hear him constantly giggling at the dog, pretty heart exploding moments.

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My mom and I did a few other things on our visit that I will talk about in my next post.  I really want to share all the things I made for the brunch.  But for now I want to talk about the this amazing ricotta cheese cake.  This is my godmother Joy’s recipe, which comes from her mother-in-law.  It is oh so delicious, light, fluffy and full of yummy cheese.  And I’m so sad to say but all the great photos I took of the cake were mistakenly deleted:((  Trust me this makes me sad because it’s such a beautiful cake.

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I’ve known my godmother for all my life.  She is my mothers best friend from high school and still is.  She is very much like a second mother, and even a third grandmother to Oliver.  The same goes for everyone in our family, my sister and brother.  We’ve all grown up together.  But something is always missing when we see each other now.  Three and half years ago Fred passed away, Joy’s husband, and my godfather.  I have so many countless memories of him.  So many summer nights spent at their house, running around in the yard chasing fire flies, swimming in the pool, so many bbq’s,  hide and seek, every single fourth of July, Christmas eve, birthdays, and my wedding.  The thing about Fred was he was so much fun, his laugh was contagious.  He was such a great cook, and you could tell he loved cooking when he was doing it, and by how good his food was.  You always hear people say when someone passes that “they lived life to the fullest”, and it might sound cliche but I can tell you Fred did.  He enjoyed life, he was fun to be with, and his laugh, you can still hear it.  He is missed and will always be missed.  I’m sad that he didn’t get to meet Oliver, he would’ve had a blast with him. He was a lover of kids, and all around people person.  So making this cake made me think of him because this is his mothers recipe and my mom was here making it.  Yes, she was the one that actually made it, Oliver slept and I stuffed my face with hummus and pita chips and read her the recipe. It was perfect, the cake , the company, and the memories.

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Ingredients:

1 3/4 lb. ricotta cheese (room temp)

1 lb. cream cheese (room temp)

1 1/2 cups sugar

6 eggs (room temp)

6 Tbsp flour

1 pint sour cream

1 tsp. vanilla

cinnamon

 

Directions:

Preheat oven 350.  Beat together ricotta, cream cheese, and sugar.  Continue to beat adding one egg at a time. Add vanilla. Fold in sour cream and then flour.  Pour into greased and floured 10″ spring form pan. Sprinkle cinnamon on top.  Bake for one hour. When done turn off oven and let the cake sit for one hour in the oven.  When cake is cooled wrap in foil.  Place in frig and let it sit for 24 hours.  Eat the next day and enjoy!!!