7.28.15 Roasted Sweet Cherry and Honey Ice Cream

Here’s the thing with me and ice cream - I absolutely love it. Like, LOVE. And considering the fact that I’m currently 5 months pregnant with some serious ice cream cravings, combined with the fact that it feels like it’s about a million degrees outside, I’ve been eating a lot of it lately. Enough that I’ve reached the point where I feel like maybe I should be trying my hand at making my own. And here’s where I run into problems.

You see, as much as I love the stuff, actually making my own has historically been a bit of a problem area. It never sets right, or it’s all lumpy, or it just ends up terrible in some other way. And in general, I figured, no big deal. I mean this is Wisconsin after all, and with all that dairy our great state is known for, we have access to some of the best ice cream around. But then, things happen. Like you want to make a flavor that doesn’t seem to already exist. You know, something to use up all of those amazing Door County sweet cherries I’ve been buying up at the markets like there’s no tomorrow.

So here I was, totally stuck. On the one hand, making my own ice cream seemed so not worth it. On the other hand, once the idea of a sweet cherry and honey ice cream popped into my head, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. What to do? After some research, I came across something so spectacularly perfect, it seemed almost too good to be true. All it required was whipping some cream, stirring in some sweetened condensed milk, and freezing until set. It couldn’t be easier! Of course, per my original craving, I had to throw in some roasted sweet cherries and honey for good measure. The result was fantastic - a perfect accompaniment to all the pie I decided to make last weekend.

Roasted Sweet Cherry and Honey Ice Cream

  • 3 cups sweet cherries, pitted
  • ½ cup honey, divided
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Toss pitted cherries with ¼ cup honey and place in a baking dish. (If you like smaller pieces, you can cut the cherries into halves; I ended up just leaving them whole). Roast cherries until they are soft and juicy, about 20-25 minutes. Mash them slightly with a fork, then set aside to cool.

3. Whip heavy cream until peaks form. Fold in the sweetened condensed milk, followed by the roasted cherries and the remaining ¼ cup of honey. Pour into a freezable container (a loaf pan works great for this), cover with plastic wrap, and freeze until set - at least 8 hours or overnight.

4. Once frozen, use an ice cream scoop to scoop out and enjoy!

7.21.15 Key Lime Pie Popsicles

Guys, its hot out there. And all this hot, muggy, summer weather means my trusty popsicle mold is once again getting a good workout. In the heat of last summer, I used it to make all manner of frozen creations, including some pretty fantastic boozy pops. This summer, the fact that I am currently in the process of growing a tiny human has put any boozy popsicles on hold, but I’ve still been having a great time freezing up some tasty summer treats.

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Case in point, this most recent batch of key lime pie pops. It’s hard for me to say no to key lime pie in any form, but frozen on a stick seems particularly appealing when the temps are skyrocketing. And I’m pleased to report that these pops taste just like the real deal, with the added benefit of not having to fire up your oven to bake it. Ice cold and refreshingly sour, it’s hard to imagine a more perfect summer cooler. Or an easier one. Truly, the hardest part about making these popsicles is the part where you have to wait for them to freeze. But it’s totally worth it. Trust me.

Key Lime Pie Popsicles

makes 10 popsicles

  • 1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • ¾ cup plain greek yogurt
  • ¾ cup water
  • ½ cup fresh lime juice (or even better, key lime juice!)
  • 2 graham crackers

1. Mix together the sweetened condensed milk, yogurt, water, and lime juice and pour into your popsicle mold. Cover and freeze for about 1 hour so they are just beginning to set, then insert the popsicle sticks (this will ensure popsicle sticks stick straight into the pops, rather than floating at an angle). Freeze until firm - I like to let these set at least 8 hours if you can wait that long.

2. Finely crush graham crackers (I find that the trusty ziploc bag and rolling pin method works great for this), and pour into a shallow dish.

3. Remove popsicle mold from freezer and run hot water over the bottom of the molds for 20-30 seconds to loosen pops. Remove pops from molds and roll in crushed graham crackers to coat. Popsicles can be served immediately or individually wrapped in parchment paper and stored in the freezer for several days.

7.17.15 Chickpea Tabbouleh with Carrot Greens

It’s been a week. Overall, a good week; a week packed with fun activities, including a trip to the Twin Cities for some quality time with friends, family, and a Twins game (who totally schooled the Tigers btw). But also, a week filled with overly hot, humid weather, and a bathroom remodel which has rendered our only shower completely unusable. Let’s just say, I’m most definitely looking forward to a nice relaxing weekend ahead with no plans.

And with the weather continuing to look like more high heat and humidity for the foreseeable future, I’m going to be making more things like this chickpea tabbouleh salad. I say making rather than cooking because this is the sort of recipe where no actual heat or cooking is required. Just some chopping and mixing. Perfect for these hot, lazy summer days.

Also, if your herb garden is looking anything like mine these days, you’d probably welcome a recipe that uses 2 ½ cups of fresh herbs (I mean, we can’t let them go to waste here). Fresh parsley and mint are traditional, but my latest CSA box included a bunch of carrots with the most beautiful carrot greens. Obviously, I had to use them for something. After making the majority of them into a refreshing, summery iced herbal tea (as is my traditional use for carrot greens), I decided to try something a little different and use some in lieu of parsley in this most delicious salad. Carrots being in the same family as parsley, the greens’ taste is similar, but just different enough to add an extra dimension of flavor. And subbing the bulgur wheat traditionally used in tabbouleh with chickpeas makes this version especially quick and easy to make. Need I say more?

Chickpea Tabbouleh with Carrot Greens

serves 6

Feel free to use less chickpeas in this recipe if you prefer a higher herb-to-chickpea ratio. As a pregnant lady who is hungry literally all of the time, I’m going for lots of protein here - hence so many of these lovely legumes - but a lighter, more herb-heavy salad would also be quite tasty!

  • 1 cup carrot greens, tough stems removed (or sub parsley)
  • 1 cup fresh parsley leaves
  • ½ cup fresh mint leaves
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small shallot, roughly chopped
  • juice from ½ lemon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 (15.5 oz) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup finely chopped tomato
  • 1 cup finely chopped persian or english cucumber
  • 2 tsp za’atar (optional)

1. Combine the carrot greens, parsley, mint, olive oil, shallot, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper in a food processor and pulse until mixture is finely chopped and well mixed, about 20-30 seconds.

2. In a large bowl, mix together the herb mixture, chickpeas, chopped tomato, chopped cucumber, and za’atar if using. Season to taste with additional salt as needed.

7.14.15 Grilled Sambal Shrimp with Peach Salsa

As long as I can remember, I’ve loved spicy food.  I’m always finding ways to doctor up my food to make it just a little bit hotter - a generous sprinkle of chile flake, a glug of hot sauce,  smattering of fresh chile - the hotter the better in my opinion. That peppery, piquant, chile flavor always makes me happy.

So you can only imagine how happy I was recently when I grilled up these wonderfully spicy shrimp. And not only were they delicious, but also incredibly easy to make. A quick soak in a bright, flavor-packed sambal and sriracha marinade, a couple of turns on the grill, a brush with a bit more spicy marinade, and these fiery little guys were ready to eat.

Now I’m all about spicy food, but sometimes you need something to temper all of that heat a bit. Which is where this juicy, sweet, cooling peach salsa comes into play. Its sweetness rounds out the flavor of the shrimp, and keeps the dish from being too crazy hot. Of course, if you’re worried it won’t be hot enough, you can always add a few chiles to your salsa as well to keep the heat going. All told, this is a marvelous summer supper, whether eaten as is, atop a bed of greens in summer salad form, or even wrapped in a tortilla as tacos. In any case, it’ll make you happy.

Grilled Sambal Shrimp with Peach Salsa

serves 2-3

shrimp:

  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp sambal oelek (chile garlic paste)
  • 2 Tbsp sriracha chile sauce
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined

salsa:

  • 2 medium peaches, pitted and finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh mint
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped red onion
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 small jalapeno, finely chopped (optional)
  • pinch of salt

1. Heat your grill to medium heat

2. Make the marinade for the shrimp by whisking together the lime juice, sambal oelek, sriracha, brown sugar, and soy sauce. Place shrimp in a bowl and pour ¾ of the marinade over shrimp, tossing to make sure shrimp are well coated. Set remaining ¼ of the marinade aside and let shrimp marinate while you prepare the salsa.

3. For the salsa, combine all of the salsa ingredients in a bowl and mix together. Let salsa sit while you grill the shrimp.

4. Skewer the shrimp on metal or wooden skewers (if using wood, make sure to soak skewers in water first so they don’t burn), making sure to leave a little space between the shrimp.

5. Grill shrimp over medium heat until cooked through, brushing with the reserved ¼ of the marinade throughout the grilling process.

6. Remove cooked shrimp from skewers, place on a plate and serve topped with the peach salsa.

7.10.15 Grilled Peach and Bread Cheese Salad with Basil Vinaigrette

Last weekend, I came into a semi-ridiculous amount of peaches. Not that I’m complaining. I’d been forewarned by Forrest’s parents that when we visited them at their cabin for 4th of July last week, I’d likely be heading home with my fair share of them. You see, Forrest’s mom had bought a rather sizeable quantity from a farm truck, and by the time we saw her, nearly a week later, she still had enough left to fill an entire crisper drawer in the refrigerator. And then some. Needless to say, I was happy to take some off her hands.

This means you’ll probably be seeing a glut of peach recipes gracing the blog in the upcoming weeks, which surely isn’t a bad thing. One of the first things I decided to make with my peach surplus was this salad. We’ve been eating a lot of salads lately, and not just because our backyard garden and CSA share have kept us very, very well stocked with salad greens this summer. But also, because this time of year, salads are the perfect meal. Fruits and veggies are fresh and in season, not to mention the minimal amount of cooking it takes to prep a good one.

Of course, any good salad can be made even better with the addition of some warm, gooey pieces of melty cheese. The cheese in question, juustoleipa ( pronounced hoo-stah-lee-pah) or bread cheese, is some marvelous stuff. A squeaky Finnish cheese, it’s perfect for grilling, and after a short time over the coals gets beautifully melty without making a mess. Added atop this salad, along with caramelized, grilled peaches, fresh greens dressed in a basil vinaigrette, and topped off with hazelnuts, it made for one fantastic summery dish. Any salad that includes big pieces of warm, melty cheese is my kind of salad.

Grilled Peach and Bread Cheese Salad with Basil Vinaigrette

serves 4

Madisonians will likely recognize bread cheese as “that cheese they are always frying up samples of at the Saturday downtown farmer’s market”. Besides the markets, I’ve also had good success finding it a most local grocery stores, but if you’re having trouble, you can easily sub a similar style cheese such as Halloumi.

dressing:

  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper

salad:

  • 6 oz juustoleipa cheese (bread cheese) cut into large chunks
  • 2 large peaches, halved and pitted
  • 4 oz mixed lettuce greens
  • ½ cup hazelnuts, roughly chopped

1. Heat a gas or charcoal grill to medium heat.

2. Make the dressing: Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a blender and blend until well combined and emulsified, about 30 seconds. Alternately, place ingredients in a bowl and use an immersion blender, or vigorous stirring with a whisk to mix dressing.

3. Skewer cheese pieces on wood or metal skewers for easier grilling ( if using wood skewers, soak them in water first to prevent them from burning). Place cheese skewers and peach halves (cut side down) on the grill and cook, flipping cheese occasionally, until cheese is melty and golden and peaches are beginning to caramelize, about 7-9 minutes.

4. In a large bowl, toss the lettuce greens with the dressing to coat. Transfer greens to a serving platter.

5. Slice peach halves into 4-5 slices each, then arrange evenly atop dressed greens. Arrange grilled cheese pieces atop greens as well, then sprinkle evenly with chopped hazelnuts. Serve immediately.

7.7.15 Black Rice Salad with Chicken and Cherries

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks. Crazy fun of course, but still crazy nonetheless. Summer in Wisconsin is one of the best things ever in my opinion, and as a result, we once again decided to pack in as many fun summer activities as we could over the last couple of weeks. For us, this sort of thing is inevitable come this time of year. Boating, cook-outs, plenty of terrace time,  traveling, visiting with friends and family -  all in all, it’s been quite wonderful. Although I must admit, we’ve been so busy, I’ve barely had time to cook.

Not to worry though, because summer fun doesn’t always have to be crazy. This week, I’m looking forward to having some peaceful time in Madison to just sit back, relax, and enjoy the glorious summer weather. Things like long, leisurely, picnics come to mind. That’s where you’ll find me digging into a big bowl of this black rice salad.

Because here’s the thing about grain salads - they’re hearty enough to make a full meal, yet wonderfully refreshing and easily portable - perfect picnic food. And this one, made with nutty black rice, roasted chicken, fresh sweet cherries, herbs, and toasted pecans is no exception. Add a cold glass of bubbly (water, in my case), and a blanket and you’re ready to picnic away.

Black Rice Salad with Chicken and Cherries

serves 4-6

Black rice makes a striking visual contrast to the bright red cherries, but it can sometimes be hard to find. If you’re having trouble, wild rice or brown rice would be a good substitute.

  • 3 cups cooked black rice (from about 1 cup uncooked), cooled
  • 1 lb boneless chicken breasts
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 tsp salt, divided
  • 1 tsp black pepper, divided
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 ½ cups fresh sweet cherries, halved and pitted
  • ½ cup chopped toasted pecans
  • ½ cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • ¼ cup finely chopped scallions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Coat chicken breasts evenly with 1 Tbsp olive oil, then sprinkle evenly with ½ tsp salt and ½ tsp pepper. Roast in the oven at 400 degrees until cooked through and golden brown on the outside, about 25 minutes. Cool and shred.

3. In a small bowl or jar, whisk together the remaining 3 Tbsp olive oil, the apple cider vinegar, honey, dijon mustard, ½ tsp salt and ½ tsp pepper.

4. Combine the rice, chicken, dressing, cherries, pecans, parsley, and scallions in a large bowl, tossing to mix well. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper if needed.

6.23.15 Spicy Thai Kohlrabi Salad

Kohlrabi has never been my favorite vegetable. Okay, not even close. It’s more like my almost least favorite vegetable (sorry beets, you’re still the reigning champ there). It’s not that I dislike the taste or the texture of kohlrabi, it’s just that it’s so...blah. Me, I’d much rather be eating something bright and flavorful.

Of course, when one is participating in a CSA that, for some reason or other, seems to grow a lot of kohlrabi, one has to get over this dislike. It may be kohlrabi, but I still feel bad letting any of my beautiful CSA produce go to waste. Which is why I’ve had to become a bit creative in the kohlrabi department.

Case in point, our latest CSA box, which contained three (that’s right THREE) kohlrabi bulbs. Admittedly, they were on the smaller side, and also admittedly, they will probably be the last CSA kohlrabi until fall, but still. That’s a lot of kohlrabi. Fortunately, I had a plan. Since I’ve always felt that kohlrabi was a bit lacking in the flavor department, I usually try to prepare it in some way that adds a big hit of flavor. I tend to do things like pickle it, ferment it into kimchi, or in this case, make it into a spicy, flavor-packed salad.

Inspired by Thai green papaya salad, I shredded the kohlrabi, mixed it with fresh herbs, chiles, and shallot, then tossed it with an ultra-flavorful fish sauce and lime dressing. Topped with some crunchy peanuts, this salad makes kohlrabi - dare I say - delicious. Mission accomplished.

Spicy Thai Kohlrabi Salad

serves 2-3

If you have a food processor with a shredding attachment, now is the time to use it. You’ll be able to shred even the most daunting amount of kohlrabi in seconds.

  • ½ lb kohlrabi, shredded or finely julienned
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh mint
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh Thai basil
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 medium shallot, very thinly sliced
  • 1 red chile (or more to taste), very thinly sliced
  • 4 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 ½ Tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
  • ¼ cup dry roasted peanuts, roughly chopped

1. In a large bowl, combine the shredded kohlrabi, mint, Thai basil, cilantro, shallot, and chile.

2. In a small bowl or jar, whisk together the lime juice, fish sauce, brown sugar, ginger and garlic until well combined. Pour over the kohlrabi mixture, and toss to mix well.

3. Mix in ⅔ of the peanuts, then transfer salad and any juices in the bottom of the bowl to a serving plate. Top salad with remaining ⅓ of the peanuts and serve immediately.

6.19.15 Grilled Summer Squash Tacos with Avocado Salsa

A few days ago, I figured it was high time for some grilling to happen. And what better to grill, I thought, than some delicious taco fixings. We’d just gotten our first CSA share of the season and included in that box were some particularly tasty looking summer squash and scallions. When I saw those, I immediately began formulating a plan for these delicious grilled vegetable tacos.

When I told Forrest we were having tacos for dinner, he immediately got really excited. He loves tacos (but really, who doesn’t). When he finally got around to asking what kind of tacos and I explained that they were, in fact, going to be vegetable tacos, he immediately got way less excited about taco night. Forrest does not normally approve of vegetables of any kind in his tacos, and to have a taco that was (god forbid) all vegetables was a bit more than he could handle.

But, I explained to him, these weren’t going to be any old boring vegetable tacos; they were going to be spectacular. I marinated the summer squash, scallions, and some poblano peppers in a spicy chipotle marinade, grilled them to charred, smokey perfection, and threw them on some grill-warmed tortillas with a generous pile of chunky avocado salsa, crumbly queso fresco, and farmer’s market cilantro. Forrest, being the good sport that he is, begrudgingly gave the tacos a try and was pleasantly surprised. In fact, he ate his fair share of them. Making a convert out of a previous veggie hater and getting to enjoy some delicious tacos? I call that a win.

Grilled Summer Squash Tacos with Avocado Salsa

serves 2-3

vegetables:

  • ¼ cup (loose-packed) cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 2 chipotle chiles (the canned kind in adobo sauce)
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 small summer squash, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 poblano peppers, seeded and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 4 large scallions, cut into 1 inch pieces

salsa and assembly:

  • 1 avocado, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 small tomato (or a handful of cherry tomatoes) roughly chopped
  • 1 fresno chile, finely chopped (seeded if less heat desired)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • ½ Tbsp finely chopped shallot
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • corn or flour tortillas
  • crumbled queso fresco, fresh cilantro, and lime wedges for serving

1. Start by making the marinade for the vegetables. Combine the cilantro, lime juice, olive oil, garlic, chipotle chiles, and soy sauce in a blender and puree until smooth.

2. Pour marinade into a large zip-lock bag and add the chopped squash, peppers, and scallions. Press excess air out of bag, seal, and shake to coat veggies evenly with the marinade. Let vegetables marinate at room temperature while you heat your grill to medium high heat (about 20-25 minutes).

3. While vegetables marinate, make your salsa by combining the avocado, tomato, chile, lime juice, chopped shallot, and salt in a bowl and mixing well.

4. When grill is hot, skewer the vegetables on metal or wooden skewers (if using wood, make sure to soak in water first so they don’t catch fire) so they can be easily cooked on the grill. You can reserve any excess marinade to use as a sauce on your tacos.

5. Place vegetable skewers on the grill and cook, turning periodically until veggies are tender and beginning to char, about 20 minutes.

6. Once vegetables are cooked, remove from grill, cool slightly, and remove from skewers. Place tortillas on the grill quickly to warm, flipping once.

7. Assemble tacos by placing some of the grilled vegetables on each tortilla. Top with avocado salsa, queso fresco, and fresh cilantro.