Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Grilled Watermelon & Serrano Dressing

Who knew that Watermelon was loaded with amazing healing properties? Most of us just indulge in this a few times a year, Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day but this fruit aka a vegetable, when consumed has enzymes that work to create amino acids that help the heart and circulation system that help the heart and immune system. This amino acid action works to relax the blood vessels the same way Viagra treats “ED”. Who knew? So this is a great way to relax blood vessels without the side effects.
Another great benefit from these amino acids is that is helps remove the toxins from our bodies. If you can find a watermelon that has deep read qualities this will have the added value of Lycopene that we thought was only found in tomatoes but is also in red grapefruits. Lycopene is an anti-oxidant that helps protect the heart, prostate and skin.
Serrano Peppers are also a powerhouse of healing. Serranos aid in lowering blood pressure and improve circulation and metabolism.

For the Dressing

1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 Tablespoons Fresh Lime Juice

2 Tablespoons Sherry Wine Vinegar

1 Tablespoon Shallots, Diced Fine

1 Serrano Chili Pepper, Fire Roasted and Sliced Thin

1 Tablespoon Fresh Thyme

½ Teaspoon Sea Salt

Dash Cracked Black Pepper

Whisk together all ingredients and allow let stand for at least 4 hours to combine the flavors. Keep at room temperature.

For the Salad

1 lb Grilled Watermelon, Diced

1 Cup Fresh Arugula

¼ Cup Goat Cheese, Crumbled

2 Stalks Green Onions, Sliced Thin

Fresh Basil, Shredded

Brush watermelon slices with extra virgin olive oil and grill on each side. Dice and combine with arugula, diced green onions and fresh basil. Toss with dressing just prior to serving and add crumbled goat cheese.

This salad is wonderful served with grilled whole trout.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Homemade Ricotta

This summer I've spent a lot of time testing a lot of recipes and making condiments, everyday items we usually purchase from the grocery store as a convenience item to see how different these items taste when made from scratch. Making items from scratch enables you to control the ingredients, therefore reducing the amount of sodium, unnecessary additives and preservatives that change the flavor profile of food.

To my surprise, ricotta, which is an item that I never really liked in lasagna, ravioli, etc because of the texture and bland flavor was one of the more fabulous tasting items I tested. Ricotta of course can be made savory or sweet by adding your own flavors. One way I used it was as a breakfast item and I grilled some juicy white nectarines, added some toasted slivered almonds, fresh mint and a drizzle of organic raw honey. This was so wonderful and would be a great dessert for any dinner party.

Making ricotta from home is so easy and only requires a few minutes of your time. Time well spent. I had to laugh because I sent a message to my sister who loves to cook thinking she would give this a whirl and she shot me a message back saying, "sounds like a lot of work girl!" Work? This is so easy and the taste is so spectacular that I will never purchase ricotta in a tub again! Neither will you if you try it.

Make up a batch of this, use it as I suggested with grilled peaches or nectarines. Have your friends over and have a ricotta bar party, with grilled flat bread, savory toppings such oven roasted tomatoes, fresh herbs, extra virgin olive oil, or sweet toppings; honey, fruits or whatever your heart desires. It's fun and fabulous.

Homemade Ricotta

1 1/2 Cups Buttermilk, Full Fat
3 Cups Milk, Whole
1 Cup Heavy Cream

Bring all ingredients to a gentle simmer over medium heat. While it is simmering the milk solids will start to form. This only takes a few minutes. Once this happens, remove from heat and let sit for about 25 minutes to cool down.

Get out a large bowl and lay a strainer over it lined with a few layers of cheesecloth. Gently pour the milk over the strainer allowing the cheesecloth to catch the solids. Then take the edges of the cheesecloth and cover the milk solids and put in the refrigerator over night. You will want to drain the liquid and keep a pan underneath to catch the remaining liquid as it drains overnight. This process will allow the ricotta to firm up.

Use ricotta as desired. This will last approximately 4-5 days in the refrigerator covered in an air tight container.


Honey Ricotta

1 Large Vanilla Bean, Scraped
1 teaspoon Lemon Zest
2 Cups Homemade Ricotta Cheese
1/4 Cup Raw Organic Honey
Sea Salt
Cracked Black Pepper

Mix all ingredients together. Adding a pinch of sea salt and black pepper. Serve with grilled nectarines, toasted sliced almonds, fresh mint and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil - good quality of course!

I hope you try this...you will be so glad you did.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I CAN'T STAND THE HEAT! Strawberry Limeade

This is the most unbearable summer! My car temperature reads 109 today when I got in and it seems to never stop! I don't think I can take it much longer. One thing I can take is a nice cool drink and what a better way to use up some strawberries and limes at the end of summer.

Strawberry Limeade is much better when it's made a home and not through that drive up fast food place. (you know the one!)

I like to sweeten mine with sugar free Truvia Stevia. Make a simple syrup of equal parts of water and stevia, make sure it's dissolved and add in some strawberries, fresh mint and a squeeze of lime. If your in a feisty mood, add some vodka or rum. I'll never tell...


Friday, August 19, 2011

Lime Coconut Carrot Soup

I know, I've been on vacation for about 6 months and I'm sorry but I'm back.....I took some personal time after Valentines to recharge and spend time finding some inner peace.

Here is a lovely little soup that is simple and fabulous. Whip it up, put it in the fridge and zap it in the microwave for a quick meal when it's so hot outside. It's light and filling.

In the next few months I will be introducing my line up of new things, what's been stirring in my brain while I was away and getting ready for fall...my favorite time of year. This summer is has been a miserable time of year and it will be so wonderful to feel some cool air and start cooking again. Texas has had over 50 days of heat over 100 degrees this summer. I've never seen it like this before. So welcome Fall and Winter...

Lime Coconut Carrot Soup

1 Tbsp Butter
1 Onion, Diced
2 Garlic Cloves, Chopped
1/4 tsp Sea Salt
1/4 tsp Black Pepper
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1/4 Coriander
2 Tbsp Ginger
1 Granny Smith Apple, Peeled and Diced
2 Cups Carrots, Peeled and Chopped
6 Cups Chicken Broth
14 oz Coconut Milk
1 Lime, Juiced
Cashew Halves, Roasted and Salted (Garnish)
Fresh Cilantro, Chopped (Garnish)but

In a medium size pot over medium high heat, add the butter, onion and garlic and saute until onions are translucent.

Add the sea salt, black pepper, nutmeg and coriander and saute an additional 2-3 minutes.

Add the ginger, apples and carrots and saute a 2-3 more minutes.

Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until carrots are soft.

Transfer to a blender and blend until smooth.

Return the pureed soup to the pan and add the coconut milk. Simmer for 15 minutes.

Add the lime juice and serve with a garnish of toasted cashews and chopped cilantro.