Tuesday, August 4, 2015

You Can't Beat Fresh Peaches.

It's that time of the year for fresh peaches to be consumed.  They come from several states but the two best known for fresh peaches are Georgia and Colorado.

Now I like fresh ripe peaches no matter where they come from but you can't beat "Palisade Peaches" from Palisade, Colorado.  They have to be the juiciest peaches you can find.  It's probably a good idea to use one of those "Lobster Bibs" or you'll have juice running down your chin and all over your clothes.

I tell you people wait all year for the new crop to come in and start selling.  These peaches from western Colorado are the best in my humble opinion.

Now what can you do with fresh peaches?  The answer is all kinds of things; from the simplest dish of sliced peaches in a little sugar topped with ice cream to a warm peach cobbler.  They're great just eating one plain.

Be sure to take the time to look at a few fresh peach recipes and then try a couple.  I've got two this week that I think you will find quite tasty.  Tomorrow's recipe of "Grilled Marinated Fresh Peaches" will go well with any grilled dinner you might want to cook.  Then on Thursday, I have a recipe for a "Fresh Peach Pie" that will please you whether you use a bought pie crust or make one from scratch.

I don't have a lot to say about fresh peaches as they are such a simple fruit.  So "Happy Cooking" and be sure to eat some peaches.  If you get the chance, be sure and try those "Palisade Peaches" too.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Maple Bacon Peanuts


Maple Bacon Peanuts
(12 servings)

 
Ingredients:

2 tbsp. Olive Oil
12 slices (2½ cups) Thick Slices Bacon, thinly sliced
4 tsp. Bacon Fat (from cooked bacon)
6 cups Roasted Unsalted Peanuts
1½ cups Pure Maple Syrup
6 large Fresh Egg Whites, beaten until frothy
2 tsp. Thyme Leaves, roughly chopped
to taste Kosher Salt

Directions:

Over medium-high heat after a large sauté pan is hot, add oil and bacon.  Cook bacon stirring occasionally until crisp (about 5 minutes).  Drain bacon in a stainer over a bowl.  Then place bacon on paper towels and blot grease.  Reserve the needed bacon fat for later.  Place bacon in food processor and pulse until very fine.  In a large mixing bowl combine the bacon, bacon fat, peanuts, syrup, egg whites and thyme.  Pour mixture evenly into a rimmed sheet pan with a silicone mat or parchment paper.  Place pan in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 15 minutes.  Remove and stir mixture before returning to oven for another 15 minutes or until caramelized and syrup has reduced.  Season with salt immediately after removing from oven and let cool.  Break into clusters as it cools and store in air tight container.

Note:               You could try using other types of nuts or mixed nuts in this recipe.

Ideas for Future Efforts
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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Easy Mix Bars


Easy Mix Bars
(35 servings)

 
Ingredients:

1 pkg. Yellow Cake Mix
1 large Fresh Egg
½ cup Milk
1/3 cup Canola Oil
1 cup White Baking Chips
1/3 cup Jimmies

Directions:

In a large mixing bowl, combine cake mix, egg, milk and oil.  After incorporated, stir in baking chips and jimmies.  Spread into a greased 10x15 rimmed baking sheet.  Place in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 18-20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Cool on wire rack completely before cutting 5x7 for 35 bars.

Note:               These bars can be made ahead and frozen.  I freeze them individually on a larger sheet pan and then put in freezer bags.  That way you can take out just a few or all of them as needed.

Ideas for Future Efforts
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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Need to Start Thinking about Football/Tailgate Season

Hard to believe but "Pro Football Camps" are getting started and college ball isn't far behind.  That's one the great things about "Fall."  Football and "Tailgating" season get us started on the best time of the year.

I've covered a lot of the tailgating areas over the past 4 seasons in my blog here.  I thought for season 5, I should address snacks and sweets.

You've maybe already filled up on burgers, brats and dogs.  Or one of many other culinary delights on your tailgating menu.  Not it's time to sit back and relax before kickoff.  You still need something to nibble on.  That's were sweets or desserts come in to play.

Remember the sky is the limit here.  You can make or bring any dessert your heart desires.  Many will require plates and utensils.  But some of the best just need your hand.

Cookies and bars are great for finishing off that pre-game meal.  On Wednesday post I have "Easy Mix Bars" for you to try.  There also several other recipes that would work well for you under the "Desserts & Baking" tap up above.  Be sure to check them out too.

On Thursday, my recipe for you a great snacking item.  "Maple Bacon Peanuts" go great before the main food is ready or after the dust has settled but before kickoff.  It goes well with many an adult beverage too.

Remember again that there are a few more recipes like this under the "Odds 'n Ends" tab above.  In fact, it wouldn't be a bad idea for you to go back and check out the previous tailgating posts and recipes under the "Sandwich" and "Entrée" tabs.

Just a little reminder but to have a great tailgate event, it takes planning and execution.  So stop procrastinating and get ready for a championship year for your team.  "Happy Cooking" and get out there and party!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Avocado, Orange & Almond Salad


Avocado, Orange & Almond Salad
(4 servings)

 
Ingredients:

3 medium Fresh Oranges
24 small to medium rings from Spanish Onions (see note)
2 medium Ripe Tomatoes
2 medium Ripe Avocados
¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 tbsp. Fresh Lemon Juice
1 tbsp. Fresh Flat-leaf Parsley, chopped
to taste Salt & Black Pepper
¼ cup Toasted Slivered Almonds
12-16 Black or Kalamata Olives, pitted

Directions:

Slice off top and bottom of oranges.  Then slice down sides removing peel and showing the flesh of the orange.  Now slice them into nice rounds a quarter and 3/8 inch thick.  Line the bottom of 4 plates with the slices.  Scatter the onion rings over the orange slices.  Cut an X into the bottom of each tomato.  Drop the tomatoes into boiling water for 30 seconds and then remove to ice water.  Peel skins away, quarter, remove seeds and coarsely chop.  Place in a medium bowl.  Cut avocados in half, remove seed and scoop out in one piece using a spoon.  Cut each half into chunks and add to the tomato bowl.  In another medium bowl, mix whisk the olive oil, lemon juice and parsley together.  Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.  Add the tomato/avocado mix to this and coat carefully.  Scoop this mixture over oranges and onions.  Next top salad with the toasted almonds and olives.  Serve as a first course.

Note:               You can use other sweet and mild onions.  Slice onions into rings.  But only use the middle ones for this salad.  Use outer rings and small inside ones for other dishes.

Note:               You could put this together on a
                        large platter or glass dish with low
                        sides and serve buffet style.

Ideas for Future Efforts
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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Shrimp & Chicken Paella


Shrimp & Chicken Paella
(8 servings)

 
Ingredients:

2 tbsp. Olive Oil
2 lb. Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast, cut into bite sized pieces
1 lb. Chorizo, sliced ¼ inch thick
1 tbsp. Spanish Paprika
as needed Salt & Black Pepper
2 tbsp. Olive Oil
1 large Spanish Onion, chopped
4 cloves Fresh Garlic, minced
2 medium Red Bell Peppers, chopped
2 large Tomatoes, peeled, seeded & chopped
1 qt. Chicken Broth
½ cup White Wine
2 cups White Rice (see note)
0.7 oz. (.2g) Saffron Threads (see note)
1 lb. Raw Shrimp (26-30 ct.), peeled, deveined, tails-on
½ cup Flat Leaf Parsley
2 medium Lemons, cut into wedges

Directions:

In a large skillet (or paella pan) over medium heat, add the chicken after tossing in the oil, paprika, salt and pepper.  Also add the chorizo here.  Cook until all sides of both chicken and chorizo are browned lightly.  Then remove and set aside.  Add the remaining 2 tbsp. of oil to pan.  When heated, add onion and cook until softened (about 5 minutes).  Add the garlic and continue until fragrant and then add bell pepper.  Cook an additional 5 minutes and add the tomato.  Continue for 2 minutes before adding the chicken broth and white wine.  Stir mixture well and bring to a boil.  Stir in rice and saffron and return mixture to a boil.  Then lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  Return chicken and chorizo to mixture and stir well.  Now add the shrimp and mix in.  Continue cooking for 15 to 20 minutes until rice is tender and shrimp are pink and done.  If paella is a little dry, add a little more hot broth.  Remove from heat, sprinkle with parsley and serve with lemon wedges.

Note:               If you can find paella rice, use it.  If not, use a short grain rice or a non-sticky type of rice.

Note:               Saffron is very expensive but you only need a small amount to flavor dishes.  It is sold in very small packages and does last for some time.  You really do need to use it in this dish.

Note:               If you would like a little heat in your paella, add a little crushed red pepper flakes to the dish.  Remember that the chorizo has spice to it and should be enough.

Ideas for Future Efforts
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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A Little Spanish Cooking for a Special Dinner

Summer is a time for people to get together and enjoy the weather, friendships and good food.  This week I offer you a couple of recipes to create an enjoyable evening of family and/or friends.

I've picked a simple but slightly expensive Spanish meal.  It starts with a fresh salad.  "Avocado, Orange & Almond Salad" combines a with fresh ingredients with just a little olive oil, lemon juice and parsley seasoned with salt and pepper.

The entrée is a Spanish stable, "Paella."  Today's version is  "Shrimp & Chicken Paella."  Many paella recipes will call for mussels and small squid too.  This recipe does not because many of you will find it hard to get these ingredients fresh.  You can find and use frozen shrimp almost anywhere.  So that is the only seafood used in this dish.

Paella is originally a Spanish dish.  But it was brought to the Americas during the exploration days of Spain.  It is now a popular dish in many of the countries of South and Central America.

Regional influences and product availability make for many different variations of the dish.  A key ingredient in all though is "Saffron."  Saffron is one of the most expensive spices per pound in the world.  Fortunately you don't use much of the spice in any dishes.

I hope you find an occasion to try one or both of these recipes.  Sangria is a great beverage to add to the festivities too.  There are many recipes for this drink but you can find one in my drinks tab that will work well.

Enjoy and "Happy Cooking" until next week.