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Saturday, July 14, 2012

Asparagus Gratin

As a kid, I despised asparagus. Hated it beyond words. I thought it was the most foul looking and smelling food imaginable....besides meatloaf, but that's another story for another day. Well as a grown up, I have actually learned to like asparagus. I like it steamed, broiled, grilled, just about any way you can fix it. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that this is my absolute new favorite way of eating it. Cheesy, creamy, just the right amount of salty and boy oh boy, you have a wonderful new way of having asparagus as a side dish. Well honestly, I could eat this as a meal, but the hubby always says "gotta have meat to make it a meal" and as much as I disagree with that statement, I always try to keep the hubby happy. After 29 years,  yes, I can still say that! :)

Recipe Source:

2 pounds thin asparagus
3 cups water
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
¾ cup Parmesan cheese, grated and divided
½ cup Monterey Jack cheese, grated
Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat broiler to high. Line broiler safe baking dish with paper towels. Snap the woody ends off the asparagus and set both stalks and ends aside.
Bring water to a boil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add asparagus ends and ¼ teaspoon salt and cook covered, for 5 minutes. Using slotted spoon, remove asparagus ends and discard. Add asparagus stalks to skillet, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until nearly tender, 2-4 minutes. Transfer asparagus to paper towel lined baking dish. Pour asparagus water into liquid measuring cup. If liquid does not read 1-cup mark, add water until it does. Melt butter in now empty skillet over medium heat. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly until golden, about 1 minute. Stir in reserved asparagus water and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until thickened, 3-5 minutes. Off heat, stir in ½ cup Parmesan and Monterey jack until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and let stand for 5 minuets. Remove paper towels from baking dish. (most of the moisture should have been retained from the asparagus into the paper towels. Drizzle sauce over the asparagus and top with remaining Parmesan. Broil until cheese is golden and asparagus is tender, 4-8 minutes. Serve.

Spicy Sausage Pasta

After a week of excruciating humidity (well humid for So Cal) and heat, I had been so lazy about cooking and preparing much for dinner. Dollar tacos at the local Mexican restaurant, salads and well...just about anything that didn't require me being in the hot kitchen, was what we were eating. Last night, I finally snapped out of it, bit the bullet, (ok not literally or I wouldn't be able to be sitting here typing this) and made us something to eat. Scouring my Pinterest boards to come up with a recipe that sounded good, I decided on this Spicy Sausage Pasta. Can I just say "wow?" This pasta is so amazing, spicy just how I like it and super easy to prepare. If you are having company for dinner and they like a little bit of zip or spice to their foods, this would be a great meal to make for them.

Recipe Source:

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb smoked sausage
1.5 cups diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chicken broth
1 (10 oz) can Ro-Tel tomatoes
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 oz penne pasta
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 cup Jack cheese, grated
1/3 cup green onions, sliced

Heat olive oil on medium high heat in a large skillet. Add sausage and onions and cook until lightly browned, about 3 - 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook about 30 seconds. Add chicken broth, tomatoes, heavy cream, pasta, salt and pepper and stir. Bring to a boil, cover skillet, and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until pasta is tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup of the jack cheese. Transfer from the skillet into a greased 13 X 9 pan. Top with remaining cheese and sprinkle with green onions. Broil until cheese is melted, slightly brown, and bubbly.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Lemon Zucchini Bread with Lemon Glaze

I think I have found my favorite zucchini bread recipe in the world. Since I am growing copious amounts of zucchini in my garden, I am always on the lookout for new ways to cook it or incorporate it into my meals. So when Pinterest brought this lemon zucchini bread to my attention, I couldn't help but want to try it. I found it at a site called
(If you get a chance to check out her blog, she has quite a few great ideas and recipes on there.)
I'm not sure who Nancy is, but I am so thankful that she is creative, because  I will forever be thankful for this recipe!! It's got just the right amount of sweet, just the right amount of tart, and it turns out moist each time I make it. Next time, I might even try making it with lime, since my lime tree is beginning to show some signs of life. Now begins the prayers that the 200° summer days we are having don't burn up the limes. If they survive, then i will definitely try it with lime next time. Sounds yummy to me.  Ok, ok so I exaggerated just a wee bit with the 200° ....but 103° today was pretty bad and to me anything over 70 is just WAY too hot. I still haven't figured out why I live in So Cal when these hot summers hit! 

The original recipe is found here:


2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour 
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
Juice of 1 lemon (or 2 Tablespoons lemon juice)
Zest of 1 lemon
1 cup grated zucchini (no need to peel it first)

1 cup sifted powdered sugar
Juice of 1 lemon (or 2 Tablespoons lemon juice)

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour a 9×5 loaf pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, blend flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.
In a medium bowl, beat 2 eggs, then add vegetable oil and sugar. Blend well. Add the buttermilk, lemon juice, and lemon zest and blend well. Fold in zucchini and stir until evenly distributed.
Add the zucchini mixture to the dry ingredients in the large bowl and blend everything together, but don’t overmix.
Pour the batter into the 9×5 loaf pan and bake at 350° for 40-45 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool in the pan for 45 minutes to an hour and then remove the bread from the pan onto a wire rack and cool completely.

While loaf is cooling, make the glaze by mixing the sifted powdered sugar and the lemon juice. Stir until thoroughly combined. Spoon the glaze over the completely cooled loaf  of bread. Let it drizzle down the sides. Let glaze set and firm up. Glaze will set in about 15 minutes. Serve.

Tequilla Chili Watermelon

Can I see your ID please? That is what you would have to ask, I guess, if you served this fruit at a party. But then again, if you are having a party, chances are, you will not be asking for ID at the
 door ;)

I for one, happen to love chili powder on my fruit. I love spicy and sweet together. Ok truth....I love sweet with anything!! So when my daughter happened to mention drizzling tequilla over the melon, at first I couldn't imagine the combination. But last night, I decided to try it out. Would I say it's my favorite way to eat melon? No, but it sure was tasty. It's always nice to make a simple change and try something new.
 Watermelon, cut into chunks
Chili Powder
Coarse Sea Salt

*There are no measurements for this snack. Just put your chunks of watermelon in  dish. Drizzle a tiny amount of tequilla over the chunks. (If you drizzle too much, the tequilla flavor overpowers the melon flavor). Shake on a little bit of chili powder and shake on a very little amount of coarse sea salt. Enjoy!