Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes with Roasted Onion Crema

I seem to find inspiration in the strangest places.

I was asked by a friend of mine who is a caterer If I would help her cater a large 50th birthday party. We needed to come up with several deliciously good, one-bite appetizers. As I sat at my kitchen table munching a bag of sour cream and onion flavored potato chips that my son had left in the pantry , I had begun pulling out an array of cook books looking for some brilliant ideas for this party.

Half-way through this bag of terribly fattening chips it hit me what a great combination potatoes and sour cream and onion is.  I make these Rosemary Roasted Potatoes all the time, especially for our Thanksgiving dinner, but for this one-bite appetizer I decided to add a flavorful Roasted Onion Crema dipping sauce.

I have found that the Peewee Dutch Yellow Potatoes from Melissa’s Produce work best for this dish, but if you don’t have access to this product Yukon Gold’s are also a good choice.

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes with Roasted Onion Crema 

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Sliced Onions for Roasted Onion Crema

Sliced Onions for Roasted Onion Crema

Mama’s Tips

You can use “spears” of rosemary to act as a toothpick for the potatoes.  Just pull off an inch or two of the rosemary leaves and push the branch part into the potato.

When roasting vegetables, make sure that they are all the same thickness and size to insure even roasting. Smaller pieces may burn, and large ones may not cook all the way through.

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes with Roasted Onion Crema

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes with Roasted Onion Crema

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes with Roasted Onion Crema

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes with Roasted Onion Crema

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

Recipe: Easy 

 
 

Panzanella Salad

Panzanella Salad

Panzanella Salad

 

I’m sure many of you are faced with the same harrowing dilemma that plagues my family week after week. You go to the market and buy one of those four-foot long French baguettes for dinner, everybody has a piece, and now you’re left with three and a half feet of bread and no clue what to do with it.

My solution to this age-old problem is the Panzanella Salad.  Traditionally a Panzanella Salad is a rustic Italian salad made from tomatoes, onion, and stale bread. I personally like  to add crisp Romaine lettuce and cucumbers to mine. But the best part of the salad is the seasoned and toasted cubes of bread that soak of the dressing, and make this dish taste more like a fresh tomato sandwich, than a tomato salad.

Summer is really the time when tomatoes are at their peak, so I urge you to give this salad a try for your 4th of July barbecue, or for a quick summer’s night supper.

Panzanella Salad

Panzanella Salad

Panzanella Salad 

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Brush bread with olive oil and toss with herbs

Brush bread with olive oil and toss with herbs

Panzanella Salad

Panzanella Salad

Mama’s Tips: 

When toasting the bread cubes, don’t toast them too much so that they’re brown and more like croutons. You still want them to have a little bread-like softness to them.

To de-seed the cucumber: slice the cucumber in half length-wise and with the tip of a spoon run it down the length of the cucumber removing all the seeds.

Here’s a nice little tutorial for cutting a “chiffonade” of basil.

Mini Panzanella Salad

Mini Panzanella Salad

Panzanella Salad

Panzanella Salad

Recipe: Easy

 
 

Grilled Shrimp Cocktail

Grilled Shrimp Cocktail

Grilled Shrimp Cocktail

It’s my baby’s birthday on July 3rd. Okay, so my baby is 26 and six-feet tall, but he’s still my baby. Every year we celebrate his July 3rd birthday with a backyard barbecue, then we bring the whole gang back the very next day to celebrate July 4th with an entirely different barbecue. Yes, we’re barbecue obsessed.

My baby, or as I refer to him in this blog as “the chef”, has requested shrimp cocktail on his birthday menu. I am not a fan of boiled shrimp, personally I think it’s a bit of an insult to the shrimp. I’m sure they much prefer to be served grilled. Grilling just brings out their natural sweetness.

Then of course there is the cocktail sauce.  Since we don’t want to offend the shrimp in any way, it is mandatory that you prepare the cocktail sauce fresh. Serving bottled cocktail sauce to these glorious shrimp is a real slap in the face, to the shrimp I mean.

And just because it’s so darn fun, I’m going to serve each shrimp in it’s own shot glass with a little spritz of lemon and it’s own personal dollop of cocktail sauce. Tell me what you’re grilling this July 4th!

Grilled Shrimp Cocktail

Grilled Shrimp Cocktail

Grilled Shrimp Cocktail 

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Marinated Shrimp

Marinated Shrimp

Grilled Shrimp Cocktail

Grilled Shrimp Cocktail

Mama’s Tips: 

When grilling your shrimp on long wooden skewers, soak the skewers submerged in water for at least 30 minutes (or overnight) so that they will not burn on the barbecue.

I rub my grill with a paper towel dipped in oil so that my shrimp will not stick to the grill. Plus it makes it easier to clean the grill. Home Depot told me so.

Cook the shrimp just til they are no longer translucent, a minute longer and they will be dried out. That could make you very unpopular.

Grilled Shrimp Cocktail

Grilled Shrimp Cocktail

Recipe: Easy

 
 

Strawberry Aqua Fresca

Strawberry Aqua Fresca

Strawberry Aqua Fresca

 

For Pete’s sake, I am obsessed with the Aqua Fresca. What is it you may ask. Well guys, it’s a drink popular in Mexico and throughout the Caribbean, and it’s simple, and refreshing and so darn easy to make. Aqua Fresca is basically sugar, water and fresh fruit, and it’s all I drink all summer long.

When entertaining friends in the backyard I like to make these with fresh pineapple, watermelon, cucumber, or if I wanna get funky I might even use some hibiscus. The key to the perfect Agua Fresca is to serve it over a lot of ice. And if you can, get those cute little, striped straws because they just liven things up!

Strawberry Aqua Fresca

Strawberry Aqua Fresca

Strawberry Aqua Fresca 

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Simple Syrup Infused with Vanilla and Thyme

Simple Syrup infused with Vanilla and Thyme

Strawberry Aqua Fresca

Strawberry Aqua Fresca

Mama’s Tips:

I don’t wash my berries until I am ready to use them as water will make them grow moldy quicker.  To “hull” the strawberries, I gently pull off the green, leafy top and then with the tip of a sharp pairing knife, I cut out the white core moving in a circular motion around the top of the strawberry, and discard the white part. There is a tool that you can use if you hull large quantities of strawberries on a regular basis, but I have never tried it.

Look in your cupboards and find some creative or unusual containers to serve the drinks in.

Strawberry Aqua Fresca

Strawberry Aqua Fresca

Recipe: Easy 

 
 

Pretzel and Potato Chip Cookies

Pretzel and Potato Chip Cookies

Pretzel and Potato Chip Cookies

 

One of the things I look forward to the most in my life, are the weekly visits from son #1, “the chef”.  He’s a hard working guy who works 5 to 6 days a week, 14+ hours a day. So I have come to cherish that hour a week he’ll come and sit at my kitchen table and just talk to me about what’s going on his life.

As we sit across the table from one another, there is usually some kind of snack or homemade treat plopped on a plate in between us, because serious talking must always be accompanied by food.  Last week I didn’t really have anything to put out, so I grabbed a bag of chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, some pretzels and potato chips. As we sat talking, we were sandwiching the two kinds of chips and the pretzels in between two large potato chips. We both kind of looked at each other and said damn, this is an amazing combination, bet it would make an awesome cookie!

I thought to myself, wow, how brilliant am I to have come up with this crazy-good flavor combination. Well, then I Googled it, and apparently thousands of other people have the same idea. So, I guess I’m not so brilliant. But you know what, I think you’re gonna really like these Pretzel and Potato Chip Cookies.  You’ve got your sweet, your salty, and your crunchy all in one convenient cookie.

Pretzel and Potato Chip Cookies

Pretzel and Potato Chip Cookies

Pretzel and Potato Chip Cookies

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Pretzel and Potato Chip Cookies

Pretzel and Potato Chip Cookies

Mama’s Tips:

I use an ice cream scoop to form my cookies. You want all the cookies to be the same size so that they will bake evenly.

If you can, get the “Kettle” chips as they are a sturdier chip. You don’t want the chips to get too pulverized or they won’t add crunch to the cookie.

Always add the chips, pretzels and potato chips last, and preferably mix these ingredients in by hand using a large spatula or wooden spoon.  Mix just until ingredients are incorporated.

You can take your butter and eggs out the night before or two hours before baking for room temperature ingredients.

Pretzel and Potato Chip Cookies

Pretzel and Potato Chip Cookies

Recipe: Easy