Philly Cheesesteak Sliders 

So I must admit that sometimes, I make new recipes and write up blog posts on days other than Tuesday. I then save those posts for a rainy day – or a day when my toddler has been testing my patience since waking up at 6:30 and has a meltdown just before dinner 11 hours later. This was one of those days; it’s also one of those posts…


​My husband’s family consists mostly of carnivores. Beef tops the list of choice foods and the preferred vegetables (onions, green peppers) pair perfectly with beef. I, however, do not enjoy cooking hamburgers or steaks (though if anyone knows a great recipe for either of these, I’ll try them). I struggled to find easy, beefy, light meals to add to the menu while I was staying with them until I remembered seeing & saving a video for Philly Cheesesteak Sliders:

https://www.facebook.com/MrCookingPanda/videos/1200160193342004/

After a busy day running around with the family and eating a heavy lunch out, I decided to try some fruit and the Philly Cheesesteak Sliders for a late, easy dinner. I simplified the recipe a bit by using reduced-fat roast beef lunchmeat instead of cooking up steak like the recipe instructs. The sweet Hawaiian rolls complemented the roast beef nicely. I also appreciated the combination of textures: the veggies remain crisp, the cheese gets melty, and the rolls take on a nice crunch on the top and bottom. Now, if you aren’t a mayo fan, skip it in this recipe because the flavor does cut through. I’m undecided on whether or not I’ll use the mayo the next time I make these Philly Cheesesteak Sliders, and there will be a next time.

Peach Melba Ice Cream Cake

​So I’m doing an extra post this week because on Tuesday, I tried another new recipe: Peaches-and-Cream Ice Cream Cake. However, since I made it for my Mom’s birthday, I didn’t actually get a chance to eat it until today. 

As I made my purchases for this cake, I had every intention of following the recipe from Martha Stewart exactly. After all, who better to tell you how to make a delicious cake than Martha herself? Sadly, my shopping hit some hiccoughs. First, I couldn’t find peach sorbet at any store in the immediate area. Which lead me to go from a Peaches-and-Cream Ice Cream Cake to a Peach Melba Ice Cream Cake by replacing the peach sorbet with raspberry sherbet. Second, I had an oddly difficult time (given the season) in finding nicely ripe peaches. I thought the ones I bought would ripen in time, but they didn’t. Consequently, instead of making my own, I used store-bought peach ice cream and used the fresh peaches for garnish. 

These forced modifications made me all the more determined to exactly follow the directions for the buttermilk cake base. Frankly, I’m glad I did. My mom is a great person who deserves a special dessert on her birthday, and although the process was more complicated than I usually prefer in any given recipe, the result was a cake with a light, spongy, almost angel food-like texture and a sweet, full flavor. Ladies and gentlemen, I have finally found a homemade cake recipe that beats a boxed mix!

That said, I do feel that the flavor of the ice cream cake as a whole would have been better had I been able to use fresh peaches blended into vanilla ice cream. Nothing beats sweet, juicy bites of peach for taste and color. Another option, and perhaps one that would have been closer to what a peach melba dessert would actually taste like, would be to have only two main layers (one cake, one peach ice cream) separated by a thin layer of raspberry preserves. However, this dessert went over quite well with my family – lots of compliments and some second helpings, too.

Happy birthday, Mom! Let me know if you think I should try this dessert for you another time!

La Salade Niҫoise: A Salad for Solidarity

As someone who spent four years in a small city in France, speaking the language, enjoying all that the culture has to offer, I was horrified when I learned that the country had once again been the target of terrible violence. When I saw this post by a French blogger yesterday, I knew I had found my Try It Tuesday recipe because despite all the time I’ve spent in France and studying the language, I’ve never actually had a salad Niҫoise. More importantly however, it’s a small way in which I can show my solidarity with Nice and all of France as their people grieve.

I will admit that I did not use anchovies in my salad Niҫoise. I do not like sardines and I assumed that anchovies would have a similar taste and texture. I also added a dash of white vinegar to the salad, but otherwise respected the recipe. This salad is a perfect example of what makes French cuisine stand above all others. Despite what many Americans imagine about French food, it’s the simplicity of the ingredients, chosen for their freshness and combined in just the right way that make the dishes taste so fantastic. I enjoyed every bite of my salad Niҫoise. It was light, but satisfying thanks to the olives and hard-boiled eggs. The only thing missing was some crusty French bread, which is hard to come by in small-town America. I did, however, finish the meal with a piece of high quality chocolate. Mmmmm…

I highly encourage you to give the salad Niҫoise a try this week and stand with Nice.

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Je suis quelqu’un qui a passé quatre ans dans une petite ville en France. Tous les jours, je parlais la langue et me baignais dans tout ce que la culture française offre. J’étais, donc, navrée d’apprendre que le pays a été, une fois de plus, le cible d’une violence terrible. Quand j’ai vu ce poste par un bloggeur français hier, j’ai su que j’ai trouvé ma recette pour Try It Tuesday parce que je n’ai jamais mangé une salade Niçoise en mes quatres années en France. Mais plus important, c’est un petit geste de solidarité avec Nice et toute la France qui fait le deuil.

J’admets de ne pas avoir utilisé l’anchois quand j’ai préparé ma salade Niçoise. Je n’aime pas les sardine et j’imagine que l’anchois a un gout et un texture similaire. J’ai aussi ajouté un peu de vinaigre blanc à la salade, mais autrement, j’ai essayé de suivre la recette. Cette salade est un exemple parfait de ce qui fait que la cuisine française soit si respectée par tout dans le monde. En dépit de ce qu’imaginent les américains, c’est la simplicité des ingrédients, choisis pour être frais et combinés de manière juste et équilibré qui donne aux plats un gout si fantastique. J’ai aimé chaque bouché de ma salade Niçoise. C’était léger mais satisfaisant grâce aux olives et œufs durs. La seule chose qui me manquait était le pain croustillant français, mais il est difficile d’en trouver dans les petits villages aux Etats-Unis. Cependant, j’ai terminé le repas avec quelques bouchés d’un bon chocolat. Miam, miam !

Glazed Chicken and Peaches

When you think of summertime and food, my guess is you think of grilling out. It’s just what Americans do in the summer. I am not much of a griller, though. Don’t get me wrong – I can eat from a grill as well as the next gal, but I’ve just never cooked much on one. So this week was a double challenge: make a new dish and cook on the grill.

Since I’m staying with my parents for a few months, my dad showed me how to light their grill and set the temperature properly (the gauges on the outside are stuck at 350 and 500). Then he set me loose to cook up the glazed chicken and peaches. I had already prepared the glaze and sliced the peaches during my son’s naptime. The most complicated part about the recipe was alternating the cooking and cook-times between the chicken and the peaches, but even that was pretty simple as you can see from the full recipe here: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/223175/grilled-chicken-with-peach-sauce/ (just a little note, I used the print version of the magazine, which listed the recipe under the name I used for the title).

The family reviews of this recipe were mixed. My family thoroughly enjoyed the peaches. My dad commented on their nice, smoky flavor. They reminded me of my grandma Jean’s canned peaches. On the other hand, most everyone thought the chicken tasted bland. The glaze may have added more flavor as a marinade or even as a dipping sauce. I will say that we did not have the soy sauce that the recipe called for, so I subbed Worcestershire sauce. That may have affected the flavor of the chicken slightly, but I don’t know if it would account for the blandness.

If, like me, you’ve always hesitated at the thought of grilling your fruit for dessert, this recipe convinced me that it’s worth trying, even if the chicken may not be.

National Blueberry Muffin Day!

As far back as I can remember, my parents have had 4 blueberry bushes marking the border between their front yard and that of the neighbors’. When I was smaller, so were the harvests. Beginning in my high school years, the bushes produced enough fruit that my siblings and I would be called upon to help pick berries in July and August. I preferred to go out to the bushes by myself in the evening, when the neighbor’s house cast its shadow over the bushes. I would sit in the cool grass and pluck the deep, frosted navy berries. There would be enough to supply my Dad’s habit of blueberries on his morning cereal, but that was about it. In recent years, my parents have been inundated with bumper crops of blueberries and they simply cannot use them all. Right now in fact, we’ve got about 6 cups of blueberries in the fridge and we still have a bush and a half to finish picking. In a few days, more fruit will be ripe and the process will start all over again. My Dad jokingly calls it “Klineberry farms.”

When I realized it was National Blueberry Muffin Day (Thanks to the Foodimentary – National Food Holidays blog on WordPress), I decided to celebrate with a new recipe for blueberry muffins. I came across a recipe that swore to be Best Blueberry Muffins on food.com. Since I’ve had good luck with recipes there before, I chose to give it a try. Check it out here: http://www.food.com/recipe/the-best-blueberry-muffins-50719

I made two adjustments to the recipe. First, I reduced the sugar from 1 cup to ¾ cup. I also chose to modify the topping slightly. Instead of ¼ teaspoon nutmeg, I used just a dash and added ½ tsp cinnamon. Nutmeg is a delicate spice that should add a subtle, pleasant note to your dish, not jump in your face begging for attention.

Happily, the adjustments meant that all of your attention is directed at the blueberries. As I filled the muffin tins, I couldn’t help but feel that the batter was more blueberry than muffin, but in the end I liked how chock-full of fruit these muffins were. The texture was very light as well, which I liked for a muffin to accompany breakfast or for a snack. These may not work as well for breakfast if you like something substantial. On a less positive note, the muffin itself was a little bland. Perhaps adding a few spices or a crumble topping would help. All in all, my family and I enjoyed our little celebration of National Blueberry Muffin Day.

Firecracker Cake

20160704_121303Once again, I’m a day early. Once again, I have a good reason: the Fourth of July! This recipe for Firecracker Red White and Blue Bundt Cake from Betty Crocker showed up in my e-mail a few weeks ago and I’ve wanted to whip it up since I read it. The cake is festive and requires a bit more prep than I usually do for cakes (Full disclosure: I believe in homemade everything… except cake. I have never tasted a homemade cake that tastes better than a boxed mix. Feel free to share your favorite recipes if you have one that you think might change my mind). Because of the extra prep, it felt a bit more special for a holiday lunch with my husband and his entire nuclear family.

There were no big surprises on this particular recipe because it called for a boxed cake mix and store-bought icing. However, the lack of surprise means it tasted great. It looked cute, too, although I forgot to purchase sprinkles, which would have added some pizzazz to the look of the dessert and some crunch to the texture. If you have any more patriotic celebrations this summer, this dessert is a fast, cute, and tasty option!

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