Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Minnesota Wild Rice Apricot Salad

Apricot Wild Rice Salad
Over the weekend as I was making my grocery list, I pulled out a basket containing recipes that I've been collecting from magazines, newspapers, the web, etc. for years.  Do you do this?  Do you ever go back and make something?  I was curious to what I have saved and started going through them - some I had no clue why they might have appealed to me and others were like, yay, this looks good.  So now I have pulled out some of those recipes and put them in a new pile - recipes I want to try soon... we will see how that goes!

First up:
Recipe Source:  Midwest Living June 2003

This recipe caught my eye because it had wild rice and living in Minnesota, well, it was a no brainer.  This cold salad has a light dressing and colorful with dried apricots, red peppers and green onions.  Doesn't it look fresh and inviting??

It was delicious and went well with the sausage and peppers we grilled out for dinner.

Hmmmm... what to make next??   Stay tuned!

Minnesota Apricot Wild Rice Salad Serves: 8 Calories: 189 Prep Time to Table: 20 minutes plus 4 hours chilling time
recipe : Midwest Living

1. 1 1/4 cups (8 ounces) uncooked wild rice, rinsed and drained
2. 3 cups chicken broth or water
3. 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
4. 1/3 cup dried apricots, cut into thin strips
5. 1/4 cup chopped red sweet pepper
6. 2 tablespoons snipped fresh cilantro
7. 2 tablespoons rice vinegar or white wine vinegar
8. 2 tablespoons orange juice
9. 2 teaspoons honey
10. 1/4 cup olive oil
11. Salt and ground black pepper

1. In a medium saucepan, place wild rice. Add chicken broth. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 40 to 45 minutes or until rice is tender; drain. Transfer to a large bowl. Add green onions, apricots, sweet pepper, and cilantro; stir to combine.
2. For Dressing: In a small bowl, stir together vinegar, orange juice, and honey. Using a wire whisk, slowly whisk in oil. Pour dressing over rice mixture; toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and ground black pepper. Cover; chill at least 4 hours before serving. Store, covered, in refrigerator up to 4 days. Makes 8 side-dish servings.


Sunday, July 29, 2012


I love BLT's but only in the summer when garden fresh tomatoes are available.  I had a craving this weekend so I woke up with plan on Saturday to go to our local farmer's market.  I made it there just in the knick of time to get to the "Tomato  Guy's" stand and buy his last 3 tomatoes.  I then bought a pound of bacon made by a local business and searched for lettuce (but it is no longer in season).  From the FM, I stopped at the Harvest Grain bakery and bought a loaf of Old Fashioned White bread - now I was in business (well, needed a quick stop at Target to get some lettuce!).

I came home and guess what I found sitting on the counter - 2 tomatoes!  I hadn't realized WE might have tomatoes ready.  The Fisherman had done some picking while I was gone - oh well, I should have thought of that first!

I decided to go with our tomatoes...

 Old Fashioned White

Bacon from Hidden Stream Farm in Elgin MN (this bacon was awesome!)

I like to toast my bread and put Hellman's mayo on both sides of the bread... hmmmm - it was so delicious!

Anyone else out there that likes BLTs??  They are the best!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Limoncello Freeze

This Limoncello Freeze dessert is so refreshing.

When life gives you lemons, forget lemonade!  Pucker up for a real lemony dessert with a little Limoncello that kicks it up a notch!  I have a love affair with lemons and always on the search for a good, light and refreshing dessert.  This one fits the bill.

I was inspired from Cooking Light but tweaked it a bit to give it more layers and make it look a little more fancy pants (and maybe a few less more calories!).  I would say before starting, that less is more... meaning I would make them in even smaller glasses than what is shown above.  I think we could have split one and it would have been enough.  So when reading the recipe, plan on a serving of 4.

-crushed vanilla wafers (just enough to have a thin layer on the bottom)
-1 cup reduced fat vanilla bean ice cream, softened
-1/2 cup lemon curd that has been mixed with 3 T Limoncello
-cool whip or whipped topping

- place crumbs in bottom of glasses and press down a bit
-mix together ice cream and 3 T of the curd/Limoncello mixture and place evenly on top of crumbs
-divide the remaining mixture over the ice cream and freeze for about an hour*
-serve with favorite topping

*I only had ours in the freezer about 45 minutes.  With the alcohol, I don't think they would freeze rock hard but if they do, just set them out for a bit.

Life gave me lemons so I made my own curd from the Limoncello cupcakes, but honestly, next time I would just buy the jar in the grocery store - keep it simple!

The lemon dessert on lemon place mats - so chic :-)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Santa Fe Chicken Salad

This Santa Fe Chicken Salad is so flavor and makes a perfect appetizer.
I don't want to brag -well maybe a little, but this dish was awesome.  My taste tester, The Fisherman LOVED it!  I'm not sure what to call it - a main dish or an appetizer because it could be both.  For dinner, it could be served on lettuce or tortilla chips, like we did, and for an appetizer, served with tortilla scoops (I wouldn't prefill them as the chips would soften but serve in a bowl along side them).  The mayo mixture had fresh lime juice and chipolte adobo peppers - it has a little heat - you could adjust by more or less peppers but we like it spicy here.  Keep it easy too by using pre-cooked chicken (I use the frozen Target brand and just defrost).

Recipe Source:  Midwest Living June 2003

My favorite part is the fresh veggies.... so colorful and good for you

Mix with the diced chicken, add the dressing and refrigerate for about 2-4 hours

Dig in...and serve on new plates :-)   (Bobby Flay from Kohls)

Santa Fe Chicken Salad Serves: 4-6 Calories: NA Prep Time to Table: 15 minutes plus chilling time
Recipe : Midwest Living June 2003

-1/2 cup mayo
-1 T fresh lime juice
-2 tsp finely chopped canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
-2 ½ cups cooked chicken, diced
-1/4 cup finely chopped celery
-1/4 cup snipped cilantro
-3 T thinly sliced green onions
-3 T finely chopped red sweet pepper
-3 T finely chopped yellow pepper
-1/8 tsp sea salt
-1/8 tsp fresh black pepper

1. For dressing mix mayo, lime and adobo peppers
2. In medium bowl combine remaining ingredients and pour over mixture. Toss to coat and chill 2-4 hours.
3. Serve on lettuce or with tortilla chips Notes: this would make a good appetizer in tortilla scoops-just be sure chicken is diced small

Monday, July 23, 2012

I Heart Caprese Salad


I ♥ ♥ ♥ Caprese Salad - just look at some of my Pinterest items! I love the fresh ingredients and the combination of flavors and textures - a nice light salad especially on a hot night when you aren't in the mood for anything too heavy. 

For this salad, I found the perfect tomato at a veggie stand and picked some fresh basil from our garden (which now that it is weeded, I can find stuff easier - ha!), sliced some fresh mozzarella, drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled sea salt and fresh pepper and voila! a tasty fresh salad that was ready in 5 minutes.  As much as I longed to eat the entire plate, I shared with The Fisherman and he was glad I did.

If you are looking for another way to make a Caprese, take a look (here).  I fried the cheese and that was awesome too!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Summer Fresh Roasted Corn Chowder

Yum - it is that time of year where fresh veggies are becoming abundant!  I've had some really tasty corn in the last couple of weeks and it reminded me of a recipe that I first made about 9 years ago from Bon Appetit.  I know it's summer and where we live the heat has been on auto pilot for weeks.  I can't wait to get our next electric bill...and to add insult to injury we get monthly letters telling us how we rate against the neighbors.  I'm not saying but I might have a neighbor who uses more than us  - you know who are  :-)

Well, back to dinner.  Since I was lounging and drinking coffee yesterday morning, I didn't go to the farmer's market.  So today I ended up at a corn stand and met the nicest lady.  I was also looking for cucumbers (which they ran out of) and she offered for me to come back tomorrow and she would bring me some from her house.  Really sweet of her.

Recipe Source :  Bon Appetit (1994?)

Doesn't this corn look awesome...

Both the corn and pepper is roasted on the grill

Other ingredients include below - first the bacon is fried until crisp and the onion is sauteed

Chicken broth and potatoes are added and cooked until tender

The corn, roasted peppers and half&half are added last.

This soup is quite tasty!  I love the corn, bacon, peppers and potatoes all melding together... a happy dance for my taste buds!  Come back this week... I'm featuring some other fresh veggie recipes

Roasted Corn Chowder Serves: 6-8 Calories: NA Prep Time to Table: 45 minutes
Recipe : Not sure

 -7 ears fresh corn, husked
-1 to 2 red peppers
-3 bacon slices, diced
-1/2 cup finely chopped onion
 -2 T butter -3 T flour
-4 ½ cups chicken broth
 -2 large russet potatoes peeled and diced
-1 ½ cup half and half

1. Turn on grill and grill corn until slightly charred but still crisp-tender (about 15 minutes). Grill pepper(s) until black all over, place in Ziploc bag and let steam for about 10 minutes. Remove skin, seed and chop. Cut kernals from corn and set aside

2. Sauté bacon in large dutch oven until just crisp then add butter and onion and sauté until onion is soft and pale about 8-10 minutes. Sprinkle flour and cook 2 minutes stirring constantly

3. Gradually add in broth and potatoes. Simmer for 10 minutes or until soft

4. Add corn, peppers and half and half. Season with S&P. Simmer until slightly thickened – about 15-20 minutes


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Spaghetti with Sausage-Mushroom Sauce

You will want to put this Spaghetti with Sausage-Mushroom sauce on your menu soon!
We are slowly getting back in the groove from our vacation.  I think vacations need additional vacation days to rest up!  Do you ever feel that way?  Yes, vacations are relaxing, fun and it is great to get away but then you come home and need to unpack, do laundry, get groceries, go back to work, etc.  So I think my new rule will be to take off a day sometime during the week after vacation to get caught up!  Yes, sounds like a plan.

As you know we love pasta here and after a week of grilling and frying, I wanted to make The Fisherman a dish he would like and satisfy our pasta craving.  This dish comes together in about 30 minutes and I was able to use some of our fresh rosemary from the garden.  And with one of the main ingredients sausage - well - it was a no brainer that he would like it!

Recipe Source:  Adapted from Food Network

Go ahead, give it a twirl and use as much romano cheese as you want!

Spaghetti with Sausage-Mushroom Sauce Serves: 4 Calories: na Prep Time to Table: 30 minutes
Recipe : Food Network

• Kosher salt
• 12 ounces spaghetti
• 3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
 • 3/4 pound sweet or spicy Italian sausage, casings removed
• 1 8-ounce package sliced baby bellas
• Freshly ground pepper
• 3 tablespoons tomato paste
 • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
 • 1/4 cup heavy cream
• Shredded parmesan cheese, for topping (optional)

 Preparation: Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook as the label directs. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, then drain.

Meanwhile, heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

Add the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil to the skillet and increase the heat to medium high.

Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cook until lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and rosemary and cook, stirring, 1 minute.
Return the sausage to the skillet, then add the cream and 1 cup water; bring to a gently simmer and cook until slightly thickened, 8 to 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the spaghetti to the skillet and toss with the sauce, adding some of the reserved cooking water to loosen, if needed. Top with shredded parmesan, if desired.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Book Club Night

I was waiting all month for our book club to meet - I loved the book we read and was looking forward to hearing what everyone else thought - I really won't give anything away because you must read this book - we all LOVED it.  That might be a first for us - all agreeing... And the book was...


I see it is still on the best seller list and have a feeling it will stay there for awhile.  I could also see this as a movie...hmm, I'll need to think on who the actors should be.

Anyway, tonight we met at Anne's and as usual she had a lovely dinner and dessert for us.  But first it took three of us to get the cork out of the wine bottle - really Anne - you need a better cork screw!

Next up was a delicious chicken salad with almonds, taragon and snow peas served on a bed of lettuce with a side of grapes.

A lovely centerpiece

Some yummy chocolate - pretzel M&Ms and tiny PB cups from Trader Joes

Dessert was delightful - homemade crepes with berries and a topping of cream cheese mixed with orange juice.  I have never made crepes - have you?  I think I'm game to give it a try

Our next book is a pick by me called The Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry.  I thought it was appropriate!  Can't wait to start it...

Now, if you really want to know what I think of Gone Girl - email me and we can have a virtual book club!
Happy Reading!!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Vacation Time

Back from vacation - sniff.  We were in Cross Lake, MN and as I'm writing this, I still feel like I'm rocking on a boat!  We (as in The Fisherman, his brother Mike and "sister" Kris) spent a lot of time fishing this past week.  Though my idea of vacation is sleeping in and boating later in the day, the 3 of them went out every morning by 6 a.m. - I was impressed.  Fishing was a 3 time event most days - early morning, early afternoon and late evening before the sun went down (one night we didn't go out until 10 p.m. - what a beautiful sight that was with seeing all the stars and luckily our GPS got us back to port!).  We also had a wonderful weather week - a great all around vacation.

Here's some sights and eats from the week...

One night we had grilled pizzas (see a more detailed how to make version here).  These are always a big hit with the crew.  Our daughter Kristina and her husband Benj also happened to be vacationing near us and came by for dinner.

Here's our guys going off and getting ready to provide for the family

One of The Fisherman's many catches...

and here I am making sure the guys get a hearty breakfast (when they get back - not at 6 a.m.!)

Some pretty flowers by the cabin

Mudslide at The Wharf (bar and grill)

One of the many loons we saw while fishing

One day Kris and I went shopping in Nisswa and watched turtle races... so fun for the kids!

Well, then we just had to have some ice cream!

Tasty beverages were a must too - Appletinis

...and Lemon Drops

The last night we had a fish fry and some appetizers... a big o'plate of nachos... layers of chips, red and green peppers and red onion sliced very thin, jalapenos and a combo of cheddar cheese and marble monterey jack.  Layer a few times and bake at 350 until cheese is melted - serve with salsa and sour cream

The 4 different kinds of fishes for the week: walleye, bass, pike and blue gill.... remember I will cook the fish but I won't eat the fish :-)

...but I will eat dessert (found on web here)

Well, that's a snippet of our week... hope you get some time away this summer too for some R&R!
Here's the place we stayed at