Basil Vinaigrette

A few weeks ago when Sister (I really do refer to her as “sister” in real life) and Chris were visiting we went to the beach and visited Dogfish Head Distillery and Pub.  I got a salad topped with a crab cake (which was delicious!), but the star of the meal was the basil vinaigrette.  It was so summery, fresh, fragrant and pretty!  I loved it!

While this dressing isn’t quite like the one from Dogfish Head, it’s still wonderfully fresh and delicious, and most importantly, easy.  This is also great drizzled on fresh tomatoes

Basil Vinaigrette

Makes about 1 cup

  • 1/3 cup pesto
  • 1 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 lemon zested
  • 1/2 lemon juiced (about 1 Tbsp)
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp water

Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and blend until well mixed.

I served this on a salad with chicken.  My tip for super moist chicken breasts is to drizzle a little olive oil on top, sprinkle with salt, pepper and any herbs you desire (rosemary is delicious).  Bake at 350°F for about 20 minutes until cooked through.  Enjoy!

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Light and fluffy waffles

I’ve been making waffles about as long as I’ve been making pancakes.  However waffles aren’t requested as frequently as pancakes.  Maybe it’s because in my family we eat them hot off the griddle and you can fit a lot more pancakes on at one time than the limited 4 portions determined by a waffle-iron.  Despite what many a friend of mine thinks, waffle batter and pancake batter are not the same.  At least not in this house.  Although you beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form for both, that’s about the only step that’s the same.  So if you have a waffle-iron laying around collecting dust, it’s time to brush it off and whip up these quick, light and fluffy waffles.  These are nothing like Belgian waffles that you’d order at a restaurant (for better, in my humble opinion), they’re much softer, almost delicate (which obviously means you can eat more!).

Light and Fluffy Waffles

Serves 6-8

  • 1 3/4 cups sifted flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 3 egg, separated
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 7 Tbsp oil

Sift dry ingredients into a large bowl.  Whisk together the yolks and milk, slowly mix into the dry ingredients.  Mix in the oil.  In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.  Carefully fold the egg whites into the batter.  Preheat your waffle iron.  Scoop batter onto the waffle iron, close and bake until golden brown.  Serve immediately.

If you want to be special (like me ;)), I recommend topping your waffles with creamy peanut butter, homemade syrup, and, if you have one on hand, banana slices…DELICIOUS!

Chocolate Decadence Cake

This is a recipe from my grandma.  It makes an entire sheet cake, so it’s perfect for a crowd.

Chocolate Decadence Cake

Serves about 30-40

  • 1 box German Chocolate Cake mix (or 1/2 recipe of German Chocolate Cake)
  • Eggs, oil and water according to cake mix directions
  • 1 (8oz) pkg cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup mini-chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Grease a large jelly roll/sheet pan with cooking spray.

Mix up the German Chocolate cake mix according to the directions.  Spread batter into the prepared sheet pan.  In a separate bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar together until smooth.  Pour cream cheese over cake batter.  Run a knife through the batter to marble the cream cheese.  Sprinkle the top with pecans and mini chocolate chips.  Bake cake for about 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Blackberry Coffee Cake

Since we had some blackberries to use up, I tried this coffee cake.  It’s a simple, rustic little cake.  Not very impressive looking, but with the perfect balance of sweet, tart, crumble and cake.  This makes a wonderful casual coffee cake.  If you don’t have blackberries you can sub in whatever fruit you have on hand.  You could probably use frozen berries as well, but I haven’t tried it myself.

Blackberry Coffee Cake

Makes 1 9″ cake

Adapted from The Pastry Affair

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup light sour cream
  • 12 oz blackberries

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease a 9″ cake pan and set aside.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt and ginger.  Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in the egg.  Mix in the sour cream.  Gradually add the flour mixture, mixing until just combined.  Spread batter into the prepared cake pan.  Top with the blackberries, pressing them lightly into the batter.

Crumble:

  • 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 3 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch of salt

In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well until crumbly.  Spread crumble evenly on top of the cake.

Bake for 40-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the top is golden.  Cool for several minutes before serving.

Shakshuka-Eggs poached in Tomato Sauce

I’ve been intrigued by this dish for a while.  Recently when I was in Boston I tried some and knew that it would be a dish Sister would love.  So when she and Chris were visiting last week, it was the perfect chance to try it.  We had Chris’s parents over for brunch and I think everyone really enjoyed this dish.

We didn’t have any jalapenos, so I didn’t make this dish spicy.  But I will definitely be making it again and want to try it with a spicy kick to it.

Shakshuka (Eggs Poached in Tomato Sauce)

Serves 6

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 jalapenos, stemmed, seeded and minced (optional)
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, crushed then sliced
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 1 large (28oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (15oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 cup feta, crumbled
  • 2 Tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • warm pita, for serving

Heat oil in a large 12″ skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onions and jalapenos (if using) and cook until soft and golden brown, about 5-6 minutes.  Add garlic, cumin, and paprika, stirring frequently for a few minutes until garlic is soft.

Add tomatoes and about 1/2 cup water into the pan and reduce heat to medium.  Simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens, about 15 minutes.  Season sauce with salt.

Crack eggs over the sauce so that eggs are evenly distributed across the sauce’s surface.  Cover skillet and cook until yolks are set, about 5 minutes.  Using a spoon baste the whites of the eggs with tomato sauce, being careful not to disturb the yolks.  Sprinkle shakshuka with feta and parsley.  Serve with pita for dipping.

Island Lime and Coconut Chicken

I LOVED this chicken.  The marinade for this was absolutely delicious.  The combination of spices made me feel like I was on a tropical island!  The coconut milk keeps the chicken moist and tender.  Don’t be afraid of the heat, it was just the right amount for a very subtle kick.  My eight-year-old cousin liked it, it’s definitely not a spicy dish, just very flavorful!  I can’t wait to make this again.

Island Lime and Coconut Chicken

Serves 6

Adapted from Pinned by Dani

  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lime zested
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • pinch of cayenne
  • 1 jalapeno, seeds removed and minced

Cut chicken breasts in half.  In a large ziploc bag combine all the ingredients and mix well.  Allow chicken to marinate in the refrigerator for several hours, at least two.  Heat a grill pan (or grill) over medium high heat.  Cook chicken on each side until cooked through.  Pour the left over marinade into a small saucepan and bring to a boil for 2 minutes, or until thickened.  Once chicken is done, pour cooked marinade over top and serve.

Green Bean, Corn and Potato Salad

Fresh from the farm produce is amazing.  On yet another fruit picking outing, Mom and I picked Honey Crisp apples, blackberries, and peaches.  We also picked up a whole bunch of vegetables while were on the farm.  This salad is a great way of showcasing your farm (or farmer’s market) fresh produce.  The dressing is flavorful but not overpowering.

Green Bean, Corn and Potato Salad

Serves 6

Adapted from Love and Lemons

  • 4-5 fist sized potatoes, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 3 cups green beans, blanched, chopped in 1 inch pieces
  • 1-2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 3 ears of corn, grilled and kernels cut off
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp capers, drained (optional)

dressing:

  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 clove of garlic, pressed
  • 1/2 tsp agave or honey
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Drizzle chopped potatoes with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden.

Whisk dressing ingredients together and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine roasted potatoes, blanched green beans, grilled corn kernels, basil and capers.  Pour half of the dressing on the salad, taste and adjust seasoning and/or add more dressing.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Pesto-Crusted Tilapia

Fish still kind of intimidates me, so in an attempt to conquer my fears I made this Pesto-Crusted Tilapia.  Unfortunately, I didn’t season the fish before dipping it in the pesto, so learn from my errors and make sure you salt and pepper (and maybe even add a little lemon juice) to the fish first.

Pesto-Crusted Tilapia

Serves 4

  • 2 large tilapia filets
  • 1/2 cup pesto
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup quick cooking oats
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Grease a 9″x13″ pan and set aside.

Rinse and pat dry the fish.  Season with salt and pepper.

In a wide,  shallow dish, whisk pesto and eggs together until smooth.

In a separate shallow dish, mix oats, salt and pepper together.

Dredge the fish in the pesto mixture, and then in the oat mixture.  Place fish in the prepared pan and bake for 15-20 minutes, until fish flakes when tested with a fork.

I served this with pesto pasta.  Mixed about 1/2 cup pesto with 3 cups whole wheat pasta.  Delicious!  The combo really played up the pesto flavor (and made up for the fact that I undersalted the fish).

Happy Birthday, Dad!! Happy Birthday, Grampy!!

I hope you both have a magnificent start to your new year!

And of course, may there be lots of cake!

German Chocolate Cake

Makes a three layer cake

Baker’s German Chocolate recipe

For the Coconut-Pecan Frosting:

  • 1 1/2 cans evaporated milk
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) margarine or butter
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 10 oz sweetened flaked coconut (most of 1 pkg)
  • 2 cups chopped pecans

Mix milk, sugar, margarine, egg yolks, and vanilla in a large saucepan. Cook and stir on medium heat for about 12-15 minutes or until thickened and golden brown. Remove from heat.

Stir in coconut and pecans. Allow mixture to come to room temperature before spreading on cake.

German Chocolate Cake:

  • 1 pkg (4oz) Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 4 egg whites

Line bottoms of 3 (9″) round cake pans with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350°F.

In your measuring cup, combine water and chocolate, microwave in 30 second rounds until chocolate is completely melted, stirring after each time.

Sift together flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the chocolate mixture and the vanilla. Add flour mixture in batches alternating with the buttermilk, beating until just combined.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites (with clean beaters) until stiff peaks form. Gently fold into the batter. Divide the batter among the three prepared pans and bake for 28-30 minutes, until cake springs back when lightly touched in the center. Run a spatula or knife around the edge of the cakes. Allow cakes to cool for 15 minutes before removing from the pans. Allow cakes to cool completely before frosting.

Enjoy!

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Broccoli Pesto Pasta

This was a surprisingly delicious dish.  It was even better the next day for lunch.  I’m a big fan of broccoli, so I loved this twist on pesto that uses cooked broccoli instead of an herb.  The lemon kicks this up a notch, adding a fresh, subtly tart note.  I highly recommend this!

Broccoli Pesto Pasta

Serves 4-6

Adapted from Whole Living

  • 2 cups cooked whole wheat pasta (I used rotini)
  • 5 cups broccoli florets and thinly sliced stems
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • 2/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 lemon zested and juiced
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt

Steam or blanche the broccoli until bright green and just tender.  Shock the broccoli in a cold water bath to stop the cooking.  Drain well and set aside.

To make the pesto, combine 2 cups of the cooked broccoli, garlic, 1/2 cup pine nuts, Parmesan, 1/4 tsp salt, and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse until well-mixed.  Add olive oil and Greek yogurt and pulse until smooth.

Toss cooked pasta, remaining broccoli, lemon zest and pesto in a large bowl, sprinkle remaining pine nuts on top.  Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to eat.