Monthly Archives: August 2014

To My Subscribers

I have a confession to make.  I have been leading a double life. I don’t just share my recipes here on my website, I also use social media to get my recipes out. Did you know that I have Face Book Page, cleverly named Mama D’s Kitchen?  While all of my posts that appear here, go to Face Book, there are times when I publish a recipe directly to Face Book. The F.B. posts tend to be shorter, thus you can read them in less than a minute, check out the recipe, and get on with your life.DIGITAL CAMERAVegetable Hash with Toads in the Hole

These lots of other recipes are here at Mama D’s Kitchen of Love on the Recipe page. Just click on the word RECIPES in the upper left hand corner of the post page. If you haven’t taken a minute to check out this page, please give it a look.  You’ll find things like:

Grilled Portobello with Quinoa DIGITAL CAMERAZucchini Bread,DIGITAL CAMERAAnd Spaghetti SquashDIGITAL CAMERAIf  you aren’t visiting the RECIPE page when you are reading a new post, why not take a minute and give it a look-see. If you are already checking out the recipe page, thank you for your interest and support.DIGITAL CAMERAMango Peach Crisp

I also have a Pinterest Page Mama D’s Kitchen that has all of my recipes. If you are into that, check it out and re-pin any recipes that tickle your fancy. You can also follow my Pinterest page.

As I head into my second year of Mama D’s Kitchen of Love, I am trying to build a broader reader/viewer/subscriber base. You are my inaugural subscribers and hold a special place in my heart. If you enjoy these musings and meals of mine, please consider sharing the site with your friends.  I know that this sounds a little like a paid political announcement and maybe it is, but one of my goals is to grow this “hobby” into a career and this is one way I’m trying to accomplish that.

So check out the RECIPE page, Face Book, and Pinterest, and stay tuned for the next Mama D post coming soon.

Holding On To Summer

The calendar says August. The thermometer is registering 80 degrees. The humidity outside can be cut with a knife. That sure sounds like Summer to me.  Yet most schools are back in session, or will be soon. The stores are filled with “Back To School” clothes and if you look beyond the Halloween displays there is the faintest hint of Christmas creeping onto the shelves. I was in retail long enough to know that is all part of the corporate marketing plan, but wait a minute (or at least a few weeks). It’s still SUMMER!!!

The air conditioning is on more than it is off in my house. There are still tomatoes on the vine, but last week I opened my mailbox and found a Fall food magazine…I’m not ready for this. I’m still enjoying the fruits of summer, and the vegetables, too. I grill out almost every night (okay, I do that a lot at other times of the year, but still…). Living in the Midwest, Fall means Winter, and that means cold and snow and ice. There will be plenty of time for hearty soups and squash gratins, so let’s put all of that aside and focus on the here and now of Summer.DIGITAL CAMERA

Vegetables are still at their peak. We are blessed with fresh local sweet corn. Local meaning the ears were in the fields this morning less than five miles from home. DIGITAL CAMERAI admit that I am a Midwestern corn snob. I love it on the cob, brushed with butter, sprinkled with a little salt and pepper. DIGITAL CAMERAI adore it grilled as is or off the cob used in recipes. Corn is having its heyday and that’s just fine with me.

Grilled corn is a wonderful addition to many dishes. I recently used it in a Gazpacho that featured cucumbers, peppers, and of course tomatoes. DIGITAL CAMERACall it a soup, call it a liquid salad, it’s a wonderful way to use summer’s vegetable bonanza. Use what you have or what calls to you at the market. This gazpacho recipe will give you a jumping off place like the diving board at the deep end of the pool.

Gazpacho
Print Recipe
Servings
4
Servings
4
Gazpacho
Print Recipe
Servings
4
Servings
4
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Peel the cucumber and chop into pieces about 1 inch. Quarter the tomatoes. Core and seed them and chop into pieces about the same size as the cucumber. Put both in a large bowl.
  2. Chop the onion into one inch chunks. Do the same with the bell pepper. Add them to the bowl.
  3. Roughly chop the garlic, parsley, and cilantro and toss them in with the other vegetables. Mix everything together.
  4. Cut the corn kernels off the cobs and set aside
  5. Place a manageable amount of the vegetable mixture into the processor bowl. Add some of the vegetable juice and process until the mixture is slightly chunky. ( make this as smooth or chunky as you like) Put the processed vegetables back in the bowl.
  6. Continue to process the vegetables with the vegetable juice until they are all the consistency you want. Add the corn to the bowl of vegetables and stir to mix everything well.
  7. Add the juice of the lemon half, the vinegar, paprika, and cumin. Stir well and taste for seasoning. Add a little salt and any more of the flavorings that you want.
  8. Cover and chill for several hours. Serve in soup bowls or goblets and garnish with cilantro or whatever you would like.
Share this Recipe
Powered byWP Ultimate Recipe

Summer is salad time. I’ve shared lots of different kinds this season. There is a salad that provides the healthy veggies that you need and has the crunchy chew of crusty bread. I’m talking about Panzanella. Any vegetable can join the merriment and any rustic or crusty bread will provide the perfect counterpoint. Again, this recipe is a basic guideline to be played with like croquet mallets on a summer lawn.

Panzanella Salad
Print Recipe
Servings
4
Servings
4
Panzanella Salad
Print Recipe
Servings
4
Servings
4
Ingredients
Dressing
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Spread the bread cubes on a baking sheet that has been lightly sprayed with olive oil cooking spray. Spray the bread cubes lightly with the olive oil spray. Bake 15 minutes until the cubes are lightly browned. Set aside to cool.
  2. Quarter the tomatoes lengthwise. Remove the seeds and cut crosswise into 1/2 slices. Cut the onion in half crosswise. Cut each half in thin vertical strips.
  3. Put the onions and tomatoes in a large bowl. Add the chopped pepper, cucumbers, and the bread cubes. Tear the basil leaves into bite size pieces and add to the bowl.
  4. Dressing: Mash the garlic, anchovy paste and a pinch of salt in a mortar. It should be a fairly smooth paste. Combine the oil, vinegar, herbs, and the garlic anchovy paste in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake until the dressing is completely blended.
  5. Pour the dressing over the ingredients in the bowl and toss to coat. Cover and chill for several hours. Serve.
Share this Recipe
Powered byWP Ultimate Recipe

These are two of many recipes that shout summer to me. From early June to the last harvest, the bounty of summer vegetables can bring health and tasty variety to your table. Summertime seems to fly by more than any other season. The long days and warm nights are gone far too quickly. So, I’ll ignore the sweaters and boots in the stores and turn a blind eye to the Halloween costumes…there’s plenty of time to go there when it really is Fall. I’m holding on to Summer a little longer. Love, Mama D

Birthday Memories and Grilled Shrimp Scampi

We just celebrated my son’s birthday. As I’ve been doing since my sons were celebrating their first trips around the sun, I prepared the dinner that he requested. Birthdays have always been kind of a big deal in our family. When the boys were growing up, there was the “friends party” and the family dinner. We lived in a family dense complex in California and friends were as close as walking out the front door. Scan_Pic0053The common courtyard was always alive with kids having fun. Scan_Pic0054Even adults got into the act. (No apologies,..it was the 80’s)

I was (in)famous for my themed parties that always featured the appropriately themed cake. Scan_Pic0057From dinosaurs to super heroes Scan_Pic0056I did it all…and Ninja Turtles twice. Scan_Pic0055Scan_Pic0058Whatever the boys were into, I was right there with a sheet cake. It’s amazing what you can do with a cake mix, food coloring, and decorating icing tubes.

Once the “friend party” was over, there was the family dinner. As soon as they were old enough to make the request, I prepared whatever meal they wanted. Yes, there were times that we had pizza or macaroni and cheese. Then there was the time we had Big Macs. I’m sure grandma was glad she flew over 2000 miles for that taste treat. The boys grew up and their palates expanded. Artichokes, crab, and Fettuccine Alfredo took over the menu. Now that they are grown up, their choices have grown up with them, more or less… Fried chicken three years running may be an exception to that, but I aim to please.

Now, back to the Shrimp Scampi, (another three-year running request) I usually make scampi in the traditional manner; on the stove with butter, olive oil, garlic ,and lemon. I lovingly place it on a bed of al dente linguine and dust it with Romano cheese. This year something got into me. Most likely it was the fact that this dinner also needed to include barbecued ribs and there seemed to be no natural bridge. Being Mama D, I was of course able to come up with a solution. The shrimp would become the appetizer.

All the flavors that went into scampi would become a marinade.  So, lemon juice (and zest) joined lots of garlic, a little red pepper and vermouth.DIGITAL CAMERAAfter several hours the shrimp were extremely happy. They glistened with olive oil and their sweet scent of the sea mingled with the garlic.DIGITAL CAMERAI tossed them in our trusty grill basket where they cooked quickly aided by lots of tossing and moving about on the grill. DIGITAL CAMERA

When they were cooked to perfection; plump and pink and slightly translucent with a good bit of spring in their step, They were plated to the happiness of all present.

DIGITAL CAMERAWe repeated this three times, cleaning the plate every time. The shrimp were tender and juicy and the flavor was amazing. There is something about the combination of sweet seafood and the smokey grill that are just magical. I think this may be the new standard for shrimp scampi, and no one seemed to miss the linguine.

Scampi
Print Recipe
Servings
4
Servings
4
Scampi
Print Recipe
Servings
4
Servings
4
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Once the shrimp are shelled and deveined, dry them thoroughly between paper towels. Place the shrimp in a zip top plastic bag.
  2. Mix the remaining ingredients together in a small bowl. Pour the marinade into the bag with the shrimp. Seal the bag and refrigerate for at least 2 - 3 hours or as long as 4 -5.
  3. Heat a grill basket over a medium high fire. Spray lightly with olive oil non-stick spray. Remove the shrimp from the marinade and add to the grill basket. Discard the marinade.
  4. Cook, stirring frequently and gently. Move the basket around the grill as needed to keep the heat uniform. Cook until the shrimp turn pink and curl up slightly. This should take 7 - 10 minutes or so. Do not over cook.
  5. If you are using a broiler, give them 3 minutes or so than flip them and give them 3 -4 minutes more they should be pretty in pink and slightly curled up.
  6. Bake these little beauties at 375 degrees for 5 - 8 minutes or so turning half way through.
  7. Remove the shrimp from their heat source and arrange on a platter. Serve with picks as an appetizer. These can also be served as a main dish with side dishes of your choice.
Share this Recipe
Powered byWP Ultimate Recipe

DIGITAL CAMERAI did make these again, because you really can’t have too much of a good thing. I paired it with an artichoke and tomato panzanella salad for a dinner that was quite wonderful. So this is the appetizer that can easily become  a meal. However you want to enjoy it, you’ll find that it is easy to prepare. As long as you have a few hours to spare for the marinating, it’s quick, too.

Birthdays are a once a year event, but meals cooked with love should happen every day.

                                                           Love, Mama D

Those Lazy, Hazy, Salad Days of Summer

Nat King Cole sang about “Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer” touting the pleasures of soda, pretzels, and beer along with weenies, beaches, girls in bikinis, and drive-ins. It was the early 60’s and I was bursting into my teenage years. I was old enough to know that the song was corny, but young enough to memorize all the words.

Here in the Midwest, August brings the hottest and haziest weather. It’s a time that can make one lazy and perhaps a little crazy. While soda, pretzels, and especially beer have their place now, these are the salad days of summer. Gardens and farm stands are bursting with a bounty of fruits and vegetables. Even grocery stores are featuring produce from closer to home. Farm standThe weather is warm and the kitchen can be hot so a salad makes a perfect supper. A bed of greens can be topped with almost anything, be it grilled, sautéed, or even left over, creating a one plate meal that is satisfying, healthy, and easy on the cook as well.

A recent al fresco supper featured a Cobb Salad Mama D style. Mixed greens, were graced with grilled chicken, pepper bacon, and aged gouda cheese. A drizzle of Ranch Dressing was a perfect topping. Subtly different but familiar enough to please everyone.DIGITAL CAMERAA salad can be created on the spur of the moment using whatever is on hand. A few Sunday nights ago, supper started with a visit to the pantry followed by a browse through the refrigerator. Cannellini beans spent some quality time with chopped red bell pepper, red onion and a bit of olive oil and white balsamic.DIGITAL CAMERAWhen everything was well acquainted, it joined some mixed greens, olives, tomatoes, feta cheese and toasted pine nuts to create a tasty and healthy meal.DIGITAL CAMERAThere are other times when my salads are carefully thought out and planned around specific ingredients. I had some wonderful Rainier Cherries that were begging to take center stage. These cherries have red and gold skin surrounding golden flesh that seem to shout for attention. The flavor is sweet yet slightly tart. Pitted and halved they were beautiful. Turning my back on dessert, I decided to feature them in a main dish salad. Toasted walnuts and grape tomatoes were other colorful additions.DIGITAL CAMERA

Herb coated chicken breasts were sliced and added to the salad giving it a protein boost that was incredibly tasty. The “secret” ingredient here was olive oil/cracked black pepper low-fat mayonnaise. Mixed with fresh herbs it coated the chicken and kept it moist and oh, so flavorful! This would make a wonderful main dish with a vegetable of your choice as well.DIGITAL CAMERAA honey, mustard, and white balsamic vinegar dressing brought out the tangy sweetness. I used a lemon infused olive oil to make the vinaigrette, but any extra virgin olive oil would be perfect, too.  A few crumbles of blue cheese gilded the proverbial lily.

DIGITAL CAMERA

Chicken and Cherry Salad
Print Recipe
Servings
2
Servings
2
Chicken and Cherry Salad
Print Recipe
Servings
2
Servings
2
Ingredients
Honey Balsamic Dressing
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Mix the parsley, chives, and thyme with the mayonnaise. Spread the mixture on both sides of the chicken breasts.
  2. Heat a fry pan over medium heat. Spray lightly with non-stick spray. Add the chicken breasts and cook, turning once until cooked through, about 5-7 minutes per side. Remove from pan and allow to cool slightly.
  3. Make the Dressing: Combine the dressing ingredients in a small jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake until everything is blended together. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  4. Toast the walnuts over low heat in a small fry pan. Cut the cherries in half and remove the pits. Cut the grape tomatoes in half lengthwise. Set all of these aside.
  5. Divide the lettuce between two large plates. Slice the chicken thinly and place on top of the lettuce. Sprinkle the cherries, tomatoes and walnuts on top of the chicken. Drizzle some of the dressing over the salad. Top with the blue cheese crumbles and serve.
Share this Recipe
Powered byWP Ultimate Recipe

Summer still has a few more weeks to reign supreme. Many fruits and vegetables have yet to reach their peak. I’ll be romping through the garden (and produce department) many more times and I’m sure I’ll have some interesting things to share. I’d love to hear about your latest salad adventure…Keep in touch.  

                                                               Love, Mama D