Summer cooking: Deviled Eggs

So deviled eggs are actually a year-round side dish in our house, because it’s one thing that everyone will eat, amazingly enough. There’s something just so…yum about deviled eggs. What is it? I rarely follow a recipe when I make them, although I sometimes use this recipe as a starting point. But I don’t measure (anything) and I go simply by taste. Honestly, I think this is the best way!

Ingredients:

12 hard boiled eggs (I use this method of hard boiling), peeled and rinsed.

prepared horseradish

sweet relish

brown mustard

mayonnaise

celery salt

pepper

paprika

Directions:

1. Cut eggs in half lengthwise, scoop out yolk into a bowl and put whites on a platter.

2. Using a fork, smoosh egg yolks until reasonably smooth. If you want really, really smooth deviled eggs, you could use a hand mixer, but really, who has that time and who cares about a few lumps?

3. Add in approximately 1/4 cup mayo to start, plus about a Tbsp of sweet relish and brown mustard each. Mix. Add more of each to your personal taste.You may want more mayo or mustard especially.

4. Toss in about a tsp of horseradish, mix and taste. Depending on how much heat you like, and how hot your horseradish is, you may want more.

5. Salt (celery salt) and pepper to taste. At this stage you may also want to add a squeeze of lemon juice, for something different.

6. Scrape mixture into a sandwich bag. Cut corner of sandwich bag off and pipe into egg whites (confession, when I’m in a hurry I just scoop it in with a spoon, rather than using a sandwich bag. Might not be pretty, but it tastes the same!)

7. Sprinkle lightly with smoky paprika and either chill or serve immediately.

There are a TON of variations of the deviled egg recipe out there. Really, it’s all about trial and error and getting it to your taste. There’s no right or wrong way.

And now I wish I had some deviled eggs. Writing this made me hungry!

 

 

Summer Cooking: Grilled fish with cherry tomatoes & tapenade, Rice-Orzo side dish

Honestly, sometimes the parts of the meal that I like best surprise me. Yesterday we made grilled swordfish, cherry tomatoes and homemade tapenade. I wasn’t so sure I would like the tomatoes and tapenade, but was really looking forward to the swordfish. Turns out? We really loved the tomatoes, I loved the tapenade (no one else eats it) and we thought the swordfish was just okay (but we determined that was the fish itself, not the marinade).

So here’s an easy meal, great for summer because it doesn’t require you to turn on the oven or use the stove, and it’s SO refreshing.

For the fish and marinade: 

Fish, you can use swordfish, tuna, shark or other fish of your choice. Next time I’ll use tuna.

For the marinade:

1 cup white wine (grab a chilled bottle from your wine cooler. Pour a cup for marinade. Pour a glass for you to drink while cooking)

5 cloves minced garlic

2 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary (you grow rosemary, right? Why not? SO easy)

Combine the marinade and put fish in an 8×8 container, turning to coat. Salt and pepper top of fish, marinade at least an hour. Don’t overmarinate (no more than 4 hours).

To cook: preheat grill to medium high. Make sure the grill is clean! Drain marinade off fish, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook 4-5 minutes on each side, for a total of 8-10 minutes. Let cook on one side the full 4-5 minutes, until good grill marks are developed. Use tongs and a spatula to flip.

Serve grilled fish with a side of fresh cherry tomatoes and tapenade.

For the tomatoes:

1 pint cherry tomatoes, washed and halved

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp chopped fresh mint (and you’re also growing fresh mint, right? It grows like a weed!)

Toss tomatoes with olive oil and chopped fresh mint. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Let stand 10 minutes, while fish is grilling. Serve. Incredibly refreshing and delicious.

For the tapenade:

1 cup pitted kalamata olives

2-3 sundried tomatoes (from the jar, in oil)

2 cloves minced garlic

8 basil leaves torn into small pieces

2 Tbsp fresh mint chopped

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp dried thyme

One quarter of a fresh lemon

2 tbsp olive oil

Put olives, garlic and tomatoes in small food processor (this is the one I use and LOVE) and combine until chopped & mixed. Add fresh basil, fresh mint, cayenne pepper, thyme and olive oil and pulse to mix. Taste and reseason to your liking. Squeeze in the juice of the quarter lemon, mix with a spoon. Don’t eat it all while you stand there though!

Serve grilled fish with the side of tomatoes and a spoonful of tapenade. Save excess tapenade for sandwiches, crackers, etc. I also served the fish with fresh buttered bread rolls and the below rice/orzo side dish that’s a summer favorite at my house. You could also serve with this orzo dish.

Homemade Rice-a-Roni (sounds fancier when I say rice and orzo, right?)

1/2 cup orzo

1/2 cup white rice

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 cups chicken broth

2 tbsp butter

1. Melt butter in pan, add orzo and garlic and cook until orzo is lightly browned.

2. Add white rice and chicken broth, stir and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce to simmer, cooking 20 to 25 minutes until broth is absorbed and rice/orzo are cooked. Serve. If it gets too dry, just add a small bit of broth to remoisturize.

 

 

Summer cooking: Spicy Fish Tacos with Corn Salsa

I love fish tacos and it’s hard to find good ones where I am. Odd, since I’m near the ocean. But I’m in Maryland, and I must say that California (and Arizona and Texas) have much better fish tacos than around me. So I went searching for a recipe, and came up with this one from AllRecipes.com. Of course, I promptly changed it, but still. Loved it! Warning: these are spicy. If you want not spicy, you’ll need to change the seasoning on the fish.

Ingredients:

    For Salsa:
  • 1 cup corn
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 1 cup peeled, chopped jicama*
  • 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper (I omitted.)
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • For Fish:

  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoons salt
  • 6 (4 ounce) fillets tilapia (I used about a pound and 3/4) You don’t have to use tilapia, any white fish will work, including cod and catfish.
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 12 flour tortillas, warmed (original recipe called for corn. Blech!)
  • For sauce:

  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • leftover spices (anything you didn’t sprinkle on fish, or to taste)
  • 1/2 jalapeno
  • rest of cilantro (will probably be about 1/2 to 1 cup after you add 1 cup to salsa)
  • salt to taste
  • a dash of olive oil

*Jicama can be a bit difficult to find. Don’t look for it in Walmart, you’re going to have to go to a grocery store with a good produce section. I found mine separated from the other veggies, where they sell some of the more exotic veggies. If you’ve never had jicama, and are worried you won’t like it, or should skip it, don’t. It’s a tuber, one with a very subtle, almost sweet flavor. Once it gets in the salsa, you know it’s there, but it doesn’t have an overwhelming taste, and it adds a fantastic, and necessary, crunch. The salsa wouldn’t be the same without it.

1. Mix together cayenne pepper, black pepper, and salt in a small bowl. Sneeze repeatedly like I did from pepper floating through air. Don’t sneeze on the food. Brush fish with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with seasoning mix. The heavier you coat, the spicier it will be. Set aside.

2. Mix corn (I boiled corn on the cob and then stripped it from the cobs. You could use leftover corn or corn from the can, but fresh is best!), red onion (yes, red, not white or yellow, red), cilantro, jicama and lime juice in a bowl. This is your corn salsa and it’s amazing.

3. Grill or fry the fish fillets. I fried mine, using no more olive oil than I brushed on the fillets. It was perfect!

4. While you’re grilling/frying the fish, prepare the sauce. I used my mini food processor (have we talked about my love for this thing?) but you can use a blender or regular food process. Put all of the ingredients in the mini food processor and combine until in liquid form. This should be to your taste, so test it and add ingredients as you want. It’s meant to be a combination of spicy and cooling. I felt mine had too much lime this time (I used a whole lime) so next time I’ll use only half. You could add more sour cream, if you wanted to stretch it. Put the sauce in a bowl or squeeze bottle.

5. Serve the fish tacos. Lay out flour tortillas. Let hungry folk top their tortilla with fish, then salsa and sauce. Can also serve plain sour cream alongside.

6. Drink with beer to reduce spicy effect. Enjoy!

Summer dinner: Key West Chicken and Cilantro Lime Rice

I don’t mind BBQ chicken, but it’s not something I want to eat often. So when I knew we were having chicken breasts on the grill for dinner tonight, I went looking for something else I could do. On AllRecipes.com, I found these two recipes, which were easy to prepare. I marinated the chicken for only a half hour, as recommended. The chicken and rice together were amazing, the flavors perfectly complemented each other. A perfect summer meal. I would have loved to have some sliced mango or a tropical fruit salad to go with it. Next time.

Key West Chicken

*note, it would be easy for the soy sauce to take over in this recipe, so I suggest tasting before you add the chicken, to make sure the lime juice is coming through. Also, you don’t have to use fresh lime juice, just buy a bottle of lime juice and make it easy on yourself! Although comments on the recipe say they marinated overnight, be very careful about marinating too long. Chicken marinating in soy sauce can be marinated too long.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

Directions

  1. In a shallow container, blend soy sauce, honey, vegetable oil, lime juice, and garlic. Place chicken breast halves into the mixture, and turn to coat. Cover, and marinate in the refrigerator at least 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat.
  3. Lightly oil the grill grate. Discard marinade, and grill chicken 6 to 8 minutes on each side, until juices run clear.

Cilantro Lime Rice

Ingredients

  • 3 cups water
  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cups long-grain white rice (Use Jasmine. No really. Use Jasmine. Yum!)
  • 2teaspoon lime zest
  • 4 tablespoons fresh lime juice (I did use fresh lime juice for this portion)
  • 3/4 cup chopped cilantro

Directions

  1. Bring the water to a boil; stir the butter and rice into the water. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until the rice is tender, about 20 minutes. Make it right in your rice cooker.
  2. Stir the lime zest, lime juice, and cilantro into the cooked rice just before serving. Taste and add more lime juice or cilantro, as needed. I let this sit, covered in the rice cooker, about 5 minutes while we got everything else ready, and it allowed the flavors to really permeate the rice.
  3. You may wish to sprinkle lightly with sea salt before serving. I have this spiced salt, Florida Sunshine, which was wonderful for this.

I’m making fish tacos for dinner on Tuesday, and will keep the leftover rice to serve with (or in, as people prefer) the tacos.

Brandy Slush

This is a perfect summer drink. Last week I was at a friend’s house for a gathering (girls’ night out type of thing) and she served these as we sat outside (near the pool) and gossiped. She made hers from apricot brandy. I knew I had some peach brandy I’d been looking for a use for, so I decided to come home and make them. They’re delicious. Fruity and cool and sweet.

There are several versions of this recipe on allrecipes.com and they’re all slightly different. I’m going to share my friend Jennifer’s recipe, since that’s the one I made and I know it tastes good. Then I’ll tell you what I’ll do differently next time.

Jennifer’s Apricot Brandy Slushy recipe

Ingredients:

Make 2 cups of really strong tea (3-4 tea bags)

Add…
1 – 12 oz. can of Frozen Orange Juice
1 – 12 oz. can of Frozen Lemonade

After thawed add…
1 1/4 cups of sugar

After sugar is dissolved add…
1 1/2 cups of Apricot Brandy
7 cups of water

Freeze overnight (it’s a lot of liquid so it will take at least overnight. It will freeze to a hard slush consistency because of the alcohol)

To serve: scoop desired amount into a cup then add clear soda (7-up, Sprite, Sierra Mist) to make “slushy”. Serve with a stirring straw.

Okay, so what would I do differently? I’d probably not use flavored brandy at all. This is really sweet and after I made it, I was thinking I could have halved the sugar, but using non-flavored brandy would work as well. I did use peach brandy, but I also added a 1/2 cup of vodka because I wanted it a little stronger. If making it again, I’d use 2 to 2 1/2 cups of brandy and only one cup of sugar. And while I used black tea (Lipton’s tea bags) one recipe suggested using green tea. That might be tasty!

Also note, this makes a small metric ton of slushy, so if you don’t want that much, you could halve the recipe. I’m going to take it to a party tomorrow, so ours won’t go to waste, but next time, I’ll make half a batch.

 

2014 update: I now make this exactly as the recipe above states, except I use 2 cups regular brandy & 1 cup peach rum (you could use peach schnapps or peach brandy, or apricot flavored alcohol too). Doing it this way solved the “too sweet” problem.

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