Grilled Zucchini

Grilled Zucchini

I don’t like a whole lot of vegetables but the ones that I do enjoy I totally love. And zucchini is one of those vegetables. I could probably eat it every day.

I love grilled zucchini but I usually had trouble preparing it. I used to slice it into bite size chunks, place it in foil then grill it but I always seemed to overcook it and it just turned to mush. Not so good. One day I decided to just cut thick rings and throw it on the grill and it turned out perfectly. And what makes grilled food even better? A marinade. I just mixed up a simple oil and vinegar dressing then let them marinade in the fridge for as long as I could. Obviously, the longer they can marinade (up to overnight) the better they will taste but I have thrown them on the grill after only 30 minutes and it still turned out great.

This zucchini is a great side to grilled chicken or pork chops for a delicious, healthy and mess free meal!

Grilled Zucchini

1 large zucchini or 2 medium
1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp. basil
kosher salt, to taste
fresh cracked black pepper, to taste

Combine olive oil, vinegar, basil, salt and pepper in a sealable container. Seal container and shake until well combined. Wash zucchini thoroughly and slice into thick rounds. Toss in the oil and vinegar mixture and marinate for 30 minutes or up to overnight. Preheat grill to medium high heat. Place zucchini on the grill and cook for about 3 minutes then flip and cook another 3 minutes or until tender.

Roasted Banana Muffins

Roasted Banana Muffins
So if you haven’t noticed by now, I totally have a thing for muffins. They are always my go to option for a quick but delicious breakfast. They can be made up the night before and warmed just a bit in the microwave in the morning if desired. Then slathered with some butter…or not. Don’t judge. And muffins are so versitile with endless possiblities. I could make a different muffin recipe each week for a whole year and be entirely satisfied.

These roasted banana muffins are no exception. The roasting of the bananas makes them so sweet and super banana-y. Another plus to these muffins? I always have ripe bananas in the freezer ready to become something delicious.
Roasted Banana Muffins
Roasted Banana Muffins
recipe from Edible Existence

2 very ripe, medium-large bananas
2 cups flourlour (all purpose or 1/2 all purpose 1/2 whole wheat)
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup oil (sub melted coconut oil or applesauce)
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Crumb Topping:
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbsp. oil

1. Heat your oven to 400 degrees. Place the bananas (whole and unpeeled) on a baking sheet. Let the bananas cook until the skin is completely blackened and the fruit is very soft.

2. Meanwhile, combine the flour, baking soda, and sea salt. In a separate bowl, combine the sugar, eggs, oil, and vanilla. In another bowl, combine all of the crumb topping ingredients and set aside.

3. When the bananas are done roasting, peel them and mash them thoroughly, then add them to the egg mixture. Gently stir in the flour mixture.

4. Evenly distribute the batter between the muffin cups. Top each muffin with a tablespoon of the crumb topping.

5. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees, and bake the muffins for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Recipe linked to Mangia Monday, Totally Tasty Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday and Cast Party Wednesday.

Brown Butter Ice Cream with Pralined Almonds

It’s time again to break out the ice cream machine! That little fact pretty much makes my entire week. I have a thing for ice cream in a really bad way. It doesn’t really matter how full I am, I can still manage to find room for ice cream. I inherited this love of ice cream from my dad so whenever I visit my parents I try to whip up a little something for us.
Brown Butter Ice Cream with Pralined Almonds
When I came across this recipe, I knew it was one I would have to try out on my dad. We both love butter pecan ice cream and this recipe looks very similar to it but with almonds instead…even better in my opinion. I’m sure I say this every time I make homemade ice cream but this was one of my best attempts yet! It is super rich and creamy and the pralined almonds throughout add such a delicious, sugary crunch.
Brown Butter Ice Cream with Pralined Almonds
Brown Butter Ice Cream with Pralined Almonds
recipe from Portuguese Girl Cooks

For the Custard:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup whole milk
6 large egg yolks
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Pralined Almonds:
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup whole almonds, unblanched and untested
1/8 teaspoon coarse salt, preferably fleur de sel

For the almonds:

1. In a large skillet, combine the water, sugar, and almonds. Cook the mixture over medium-high heat, stir constantly with a wooden spoon, until the sugar has dissolved and the liquid comes to a boil.

2. Decrease the heat to medium and continue stirring for a few minutes, until the liquid has crystallized and becomes sandy. The crystallized sugar will begin to liquify, stir the dark syrup at the bottom of the pan, and begin to coat the nuts with it. Continue to stir and glaze the nuts with the syrup, until the almonds are glazed and become glossy and shiny.

3. Remove the pan from the heat and sprinkle with the salt. Pour the almonds onto an ungreased baking sheet and allow to cool completely. Once cool, break up any almond clusters that have formed. Chop up the almonds into small pieces and any sugar. Set aside.

For the ice cream base:

1. In a small frypan over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Cook the butter until it is a dark amber. Stir occasionally and watch the butter closely to avoid burning, about 6 minutes. Pour through a fine mesh strainer into a small bowl.

2. In a large saucepan, bring  heavy cream and milk to a simmer. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks, both sugars, and salt until well blended and mixture is thick. Whisk in the brown butter. Slowly whisk in the hot cream mixture into the yolk mixture. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium-low heat until the custard thickens and coats the back of a spoon and temperature reaches 170 degrees F. This takes approximately 5 minutes. Strain the custard into a large bowl. Refrigerate until cold. Stir in the vanilla.

3. Process custard in ice-cream maker according to manufacturers directions. Transfer to an airtight container and stir in the pralined almonds. Freeze until firm.

Recipe linked to Mangia Monday, Totally Tasty Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday and Cast Party Wednesday.

Smoked Gouda Risotto

Smoked Gouda Risotto
Joel and I enjoy watching Hell’s Kitchen for all the ridiculous yelling and silly punishments and all the risotto they make. We have been watching it the past few seasons and every time we say “we should try making risotto” then we never do. It always looks so creamy and delicious but I worried that it would be too difficult and fancy for us.

But it was surprsingly simple, it just took time and constant attention. This was my second attempt at risotto and the first one was great but this recipe was just amazing. Smoked gouda = Heaven. It was so rich and creamy and smoky…I probably could have eaten the whole pan. Well, maybe not but it was good enough to make an attempt.

Smoked Gouda Risotto
recipe from Fake Ginger

2 cups water
2 (16-ounce) cans low sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon butter
1/3 cup chopped shallots
2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine (I used chicken broth instead as we didn’t have any white wine)
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 ounces shredded smoked Gouda cheese

Combine water and broth in a saucepan and warm over medium-low heat. Melt butter in a large nonstick saucepan over medium heat. Add 1/3 cup shallots; cover and cook 2 minutes. Add rice; cook 2 minutes, uncovered, stirring constantly. Stir in 1/2 cup wine (or chicken broth); cook 30 seconds or until the liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and broth mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth mixture is absorbed before adding the next (about 20 minutes total). Stir in Gouda; cook just until melted.

Recipe linked to Mangia Monday, Totally Tasty Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday and Cast Party Wednesday.

New Orleans Food Tour {Part II}

I am going to start the second installment of the food tour with our favorite meal of the whole trip. We were wondering Magazine Street and found ourselves hungry. After trying to go to several places that were closed (since it was Sunday) we finally stumbled upon The Rum House. It’s a Caribbean inspired place that served the most amazing and unique tacos I’ve ever had. Oh yeah, and the most amazing drinks! So what if it was Sunday lunch, we were on vacation.

I ordered a jerk chicken taco and a calypso beef taco with fried plantains and mac-n-cheese. I know the mac-n-cheese doesn’t quite go with tacos but I just can’t resist it. And I’m so glad I couldn’t because it was some of the best I’ve ever had. It was cheesy, creamy, a bit tangy and packed full of garlic! They had so many delicious and unique side dishes so I decided to try something out of the box for me. I have never had fried plantains so I ordered them and hoped for the best. They were crispy on the outside and still a bit firm inside and a bit sweet. I didn’t love them but I didn’t hate them either. {The Rum House – New Orleans, LA}
Fried Plantains - The Rum House, NOLA
The jerk chicken taco was topped with a sweet mango salsa which I was a bit weary of before I tried it. I understand that the sweet mango balances out the spicy jerk seasoning but I just don’t usually like fruit with meat. Well, I’m glad I stepped out of my comfort zone and gave it a try because it was pretty darn delicious. As good as the jerk chicken taco was, the calypso beef was just out of this world. The beef was incredibly tender and was topped with citrusy lime sauce and big dollop of guacamole. Seriously, the best taco I have ever had! {The Rum House – New Orleans, LA}
Jerk Chicken and Calypso Beef Tacos - The Rum House, NOLA
Joel had fried oyster tacos that were topped with a caper relish and spicy remoulade. I can’t say that I tried them because, well, I didn’t like anything on them. But he said they were the best tacos ever so I thought I would share them with you all. {The Rum House – New Orleans, LA}
Oyster Tacos - The Rum House, NOLA
And we can’t forget the rum drinks we enjoyed at The Rum House. I partook in a Key Lime Coconut Punch while Joel had a Caribbean Punch with Homemade Strawberry Juice. Both were in a word, incredible! I’m not a big drinker. I just don’t like the taste of alcohol and always prefer a soda over a mixed drink. I absolutely could not taste the alcohol in either of these drinks making them just amazing. The Caribbean Punch was super refreshing and fruity while the Key Lime Coconut Punch was a bit stronger and zingy and I just loved that it was rimmed with graham cracker crumbs. {The Rum House – New Orleans, LA}
Key Lime Coconut Punch - The Rum House, NOLA
Carribean Punch with Homemade Strawberry Juice - The Rum House, NOLA

When I announced on Facebook that we were going to New Orleans I was told that I had to go to Cafe du Monde for beignets and cafe au lait. And when you are told by someone who has visited many times to go somewhere, you just have to listen. And who is going to turn down fried, sugar covered doughnuts? Not these guys. I’m not a coffee drinker so I skipped out on that but Joel had one and really enjoyed it. It was half coffee and half hot milk. He doesn’t like strong coffee so this was right down his aisle. The beignets were so airy, crispy, chewy and doused with powdered sugar. Our faces were quite amusing after we were done eating them. {Cafe Du Monde – New Orleans, LA}
Cafe Du Monde - New Orleans

The last stop on our food tour is the Cajun Cabin on Bourbon Street. We enjoyed true Cajun food there with red beans and rice and a crawfish po’ boy. The red beans and rice was served with andouille sausage and crispy chicken strips. The beans were so creamy and flavorful which made it very difficult to stop eating them. I tried a bite of Joel’s po’ boy and was pleasantly surprised by the crawfish. I have never had them before and thought they tasted like a subtle version of shrimp. This place was a definite winner. {The Cajun Cabin – New Orleans, LA}
The Cajun Cabin - New Orleans
The Cajun Cabin - New Orleans

Club Sliders with Avocado Ranch

Club Sliders with Avocado Ranch

I don’t think I can express how happy I am that grilling season is finally upon us! During the summer we usually grill at least 3 times a week and I miss it terribly once the cold strikes. Grilling is so simple and everything that touches those wonderful grates turns to pure delicious-ness!

You know why else grilling season is wonderful? My time cooking gets cut in half since Joel does the majority of the grilling around here although I do enjoy getting out there too. It’s so nice to just sit on the deck and watch the ducks in the pond while my dinner pretty much cooks itself.

These little guys take a little prep with the bacon and all but I can’t complain…because it’s bacon, glorious bacon. Totally worth the extra work. While Joel is grilling, I assemble the avocado ranch and get all of the toppings ready. And don’t let the long list of ingredients scare you away. It’s a Rachael Ray recipe so it should be done in about 30 minutes.

The avocado ranch dressing is cool and refreshing on these juicy little burgers and also great as a dip for veggies or chips.

These will definitely be a regular on our menu rotation this summer!

Club Sliders with Avocado Ranch
recipe from Taste and Tell
makes 8 sliders, serves 4

extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
6 slices bacon, chopped
2 pounds ground turkey
1 small onion
1 tablespoon hot sauce
2 tablespoons poultry seasoning
salt and pepper
1 avocado
1 cup sour cream
juice of 1 lemon
1 clove garlic, grated or finely chopped
a small handful of fresh chives, finely chopped
a small handful of fresh dill, finely chopped
a small handful of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
16 slices good-quality white or whole wheat bread (I found slider buns at the grocery store)
lettuce leaves, for serving
2 plum or vine-ripened tomatoes, thinly sliced

1. Preheat an outdoor grill to medium high. Place a skillet over medium-high heat. Add a drizzle of EVOO and the bacon to the pan and cook until crisp, about 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels to cool, then chop.

2. While the bacon cooks, place the turkey in a large bowl. Grate the onion on top of the turkey to get 3 to 4 tablespoons onion juice. Add the hot sauce, poultry seasoning, salt and lots of pepper. Add the cooked bacon, mix and form 8 slider patties, about 2 1/2 to 3 inches wide. Drizzle with EVOO to coat lightly. Cook on the grill, turning once, until cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes.

3. While the sliders cook, preheat the broiler (if you are using slider buns skip this step). Place the avocado in a food processor. Add the sour cream, lemon juice, garlic, chives, dill and parsley; season with salt and pepper. Process into a smooth, thick sauce.

4. Using a 3-inch round cookie cutter, cut out rounds of bread (or trim 1 inch of crust all the way around the bread slices to form small squares); discard the crusts (skip if using buns).  Arrange the bread on a baking sheet and toast under the broiler. Serve the bacon-turkey sliders with the lettuce, tomatoes and avocado-ranch sauce between the toasts.

Buffalo Chicken Pizza

I love everything and anything with buffalo sauce! So, whenever we visit a pizzeria I am always on the hunt for a buffalo chicken pizza and am never disappointed. Finally, I decided that I shouldn’t have to go out to have this yummy pizza so I made my own version at home.
Buffalo Chicken Pizza
And I’m so glad I did because this was one of the best pizza’s I have ever made. I chose to use ranch since we aren’t big fans of bleu cheese and it perfectly cooled down the spicy buffalo sauce. As you can tell, I kind of have a thing for cheese which also helps balance out the spice factor. I’m so glad we can have buffalo chicken pizza at home anytime using natural ingredients that we usually have on hand.
Buffalo Chicken Pizza
Buffalo Chicken Pizza

1 pizza dough recipe, or store-bought crust
1/4 cup ranch or bleu cheese dressing
3/4 cup buffalo sauce, divided
2 raw chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
3/4 cup mozzarella
6 slices provolone
Bleu cheese crumbles

1. Marinate chicken in 1/2 cup buffalo sauce for at least an hour. Heat skillet over medium heat and cook chicken until no longer pink. Remove chicken from skillet and toss with remaining 1/4 cup buffalo sauce.

2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Roll out pizza crust then pre-bake for 10 minutes if using the pizza dough recipe. Remove from oven then top with dressing of choice. Scatter evenly with chicken then sprinkle mozzarella, blue cheese and top with provolone slices.
Buffalo Chicken Pizza
Buffalo Chicken Pizza
3. Bake for 10-15 minutes. Broil for a few minutes to get the cheese brown and bubbly (make sure to keep an eye on the pizza as it can burn quickly).