4th of July Menu

Happy 4th of July weekend!! With a 3 day weekend this year, I’m sure a lot of you are celebrating with friends and family and indulging in food and fun filled BBQs so I thought I’d compile a few of my favorite past recipes that we continue to go back to again and again, especially on the grill or when we have friends over! Have a safe and happy weekend and I hope I helped you find something to add to your holiday menu!!

Mini Caprese Salads
(Makes 25 salad appetizers)


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8 ozs Mozzarella pearls packed in water
25 basil leaves
1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half
25 toothpicks
2 cups balsamic vinegar

1. In a saucepan, over medium heat, simmer 2 cups of balsamic vinegar until it is reduced by half and begins to thicken, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool before step 3.
2. Slide on a toothpick, 1 Mozzarella pearl, a basil leaf (cut smaller or folded), and cherry tomato cut crosswise.
3. Plate the “salads”, sprinkle with salt and pepper, drizzle with vinegar and serve.

Bacon-Wrapped Dates
(Makes 24 dates)

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24 large pitted dates
12 slices of bacon, halved crosswise
1/2 cup blue cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Place 24 toothpicks in a small bowl of water and let soak for 15 minutes. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and fit with a wire rack, set aside.
2. Slice dates lengthwise, be careful not to cut all the way through, to make a small pocket for the cheese. Place a small amount of cheese in the center of each date. Wrap a piece of bacon around each date. Secure bacon with a toothpick.
3. Place dates on prepared baking sheet. Bake until bacon is cooked through, about 20-25 minutes.

Moscow Mules
(Makes 1 drink)

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Ice
1/4 cup chilled vodka
1 Tbsp lime juice
6 ozs ginger beer
1/4 of a lime, cut into a wedge
1 sprig of mint leaves

Fill copper mug with ice. Pour vodka, lime juice and ginger beer over ice, stir. Squeeze lime wedge into drink, drop squeezed wedge in, stir and garnish with mint leaves.

Slow Cooked BBQ Ribs
(Makes 12-13 ribs, depending on size of rack)

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1 rack pork spare ribs
1/2 cup pork rub
1 cup BBQ sauce

1. Rub entire rack of ribs with pork rub, front and back. Double wrap in foil and refrigerate for 5 hours to allow the flavors to blend.
2. Prep a grill and set heat to low. Place foil covered ribs on grill and allow them to slow-cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, turning once at the 40 minute mark.
3. Open foil, slather ribs with 2/3 cup BBQ sauce, close foil and continue to cook for an additional 15 minutes.
4. Remove ribs from the grill, place on a large cutting board and cut ribs apart between the bones.
5. Drizzle with remaining BBQ sauce and serve immediately.

Rib-Eye with Mustard Butter
(Makes 2 rib-eyes)

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Rib-eye
2 rib-eye steaks
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
1 tsp finely chopped cilantro
Mustard Butter
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tsp dry mustard or mustard powder
1 heaping tsp Dijon mustard

1. Pat the steaks dry and rub them with the salt, chili powder, and cilantro. Refrigerate the steaks, uncovered for at least 1 hour, or up to 8 hours. (I think I did for 5 hours)
2. To make the mustard butter, in a small bowl, mash together the butter with the dry mustard and the Dijon. Form it into two mounds and chill on a plastic wrap-lined plate.
3. Heat a grill to medium heat and grill to desired temperature. For medium cooked steaks, mine were about 1″ thick and I cooked them for 8 minutes per side.
4. Remove the steaks from the grill and put on plates. Top each steak with half the mustard butter, allow it to melt a bit, and serve with a big pile of herb fries (recipe below).

Mexican Corn-on-the-cob
(Makes 4 ears of corn)

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1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 clove garlic minced (approx 1 tsp)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
4 ears of corn, shucked
1 lime, cut into wedges

1. Light a grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes, clean and oil grate before grilling corn
2. While grill preheats, combine mayonnaise, sour cream, cheese, chili powder, garlic and cilantro in a large bowl.
3. When grill is hot, place corn directly over heat to cook, turning occasionally, until cooked through and charred in spots on all side, about 10 minutes.
4. Once corn is cooked, transfer to a plate, coat each ear of corn evenly on all sides with cheese mixture. Sprinkle each ear with extra cheese and chili powder, drizzle with lime juice and serve.

Sweet Potato Fries w/Lime Mayo
(Makes 4 servings)

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2 large sweet potatoes cut into 1/2″ strips
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/4 tsp finely grated lime zest
2 tsp fresh lime juice
chopped fresh cilantro

1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Toss sweet potatoes and oil on a foil-lined large baking sheet; season with salt and pepper.
2. Roast, turning once, until golden brown and crisp, 25-30 minutes
3. While potatoes cook, whisk mayonnaise, lime zest and juice in a small bowl. Refrigerate until fries are ready to serve.
4. Season fries with salt, top with cilantro, and serve with lime mayo for dipping.

Red, White & Blueberry Popsicles
(Makes 6 popsicles)

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1 cup blueberries
1 1/2 cup raspberries
1 cup vanilla Greek yogurt

1. Use a food processor to puree the blueberries. If they come out a bit more purple than blue (like mine did) just add a spoonful or two of the Greek Yogurt and a few drops of blue food coloring until you get the desired shade of blue. When you achieve the right color, you want to make sure the fruit is pourable, if it is too thick, try adding a tablespoon of water. You can also puree your raspberries ahead of time, adding 1-2 tablespoons of water. Place pureed raspberries in a separate bowl and keep refrigerated until use.
2. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the  blueberry mixture into the bottom of each popsicle mold. After each pour you’ll need to do a little clean up, you don’t want too much extra on the sides of the mold as this will cause your stripes to look a little mangled. Don’t get too fussy because you want it to look a little rustic.
3. Put the mold in the freezer and freeze for 1 hour.
4. Remove molds from freezer and add a small stipe (about 1 tablespoon) of vanilla yogurt to each mold. After you’ve added the first layer of yogurt, insert your popsicle sticks, trying to push them into the layer of blueberry a bit. Hold the sticks in place by placing a piece of tin foil over each mold. Place back in the freezer for another hour.
5. Remove molds from freezer, remove foil and add a small stripe (about 1 tablespoon) of raspberry puree. The sticks should stand on their own at this point so you won’t need the foil any longer.
6. Continue alternating white and red stripes, freezing for 1 hour after each, until you have filled the mold (I had 1 large layer of blueberries, 2 layers of raspberries & 3 layers of yogurt).
7. When you are ready to serve, hold the mold under hot running water to loosen (be careful not to let water splash near the opening), after about 30 seconds you should be able to easily remove the popsicle from the mold.

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Lamb Chops with Farro, Arugula and Lemon-Thyme Vinaigrette

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What a weekend! Our Seahawks are going to the Superbowl again!! Such a fun weekend up in Seattle, watching the game and hanging with friends. Along with that, lots of yummy football food and drink. Which means we needed something a little lighter for dinner tonight.

If you don’t already read or subscribe to Cooking Light Magazine, this is the month to do it! The recipes in the Jan/Feb 2015 issue are mouthwatering! I have not dog-eared so many pages in a food magazine before as I did in the current issue, and tonight’s dinner was one of them.

Lamb Chops with Farro, Arugula, and Lemon-Thyme Vinaigrette
Serves 4
8 (4 oz) lamb loin chops
1/2 tsp kosher salt, divided
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, divided
8 ozs uncooked farro
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp finely chopped shallots
2 tsps. honey
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsps. finely chopped fresh thyme
2 ozs baby arugula

1. Heat grill to medium-high heat. Sprinkle lamb with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add to grill; cook 5 minutes on each side. Remove from grill; let stand 5 minutes.
2. Cook farro according to package directions. Drain and let cool.
3. Combine remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and next 7 ingredients (through thyme) in a small bowl.
4. Combine farro and arugula in a bowl. Add half of dressing; toss to coat. Divide farro mixture evenly among 4 serving plates; arrange 2 lamb chops on each plate. Drizzle remaining dressing over lamb.

*Original recipe from Cooking Light Magazine

Ginger-Soy-Lime Shrimp

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I got a text from my friend Nancy one day saying I had to try these shrimp. Nancy loves herself some shrimp, she is always trying different marinades and recipes on them when we go over for dinner. So when she told me I HAD to try this Bobby Flay recipe, I knew it must be the best yet. And boy was it! These make a great appetizer or side dish for your next BBQ, just throw the ingredients in a food processor or blender, marinate the shrimp for a couple of hours and grill them up. The original recipe calls for peanut oil, I didn’t have any so I used sesame oil instead. It also called for the shrimp to be unpeeled, but the shrimp absorb more of the marinade if they are peeled and you don’t want to make you guest peel shrimp before eating them…so messy!

Ginger-Soy-Lime Shrimp
2 large shallots, peeled and chopped
1 (2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
4 cloves garlic, smashed
3/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
2 Tbsp sugar
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/4 sesame oil
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
2 lbs large shrimp, peeled and deveined, with tails on

1. Place shallots, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, lime juice and sugar in food processor (or blender) and pulse until smooth. Add green onion and oil and pulse until combined. Season with black pepper to taste.
2. Place shrimp in a large bowl, pour marinade over and let them marinade, covered and refrigerated for 3-5 hours.
3. Preheat a grill to high, remove shrimp from marinade and skewer them, then grill for 2-3 minutes per side.

*Original recipe from Bobby Flay for Food Network

Mint & Cumin Spiced Lamb Chops

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I felt like I was at a restaurant while I was eating these! Incredible flavors that will impress all your dinner guests. The rub was delicious and would actually taste great on almost any type of meat. A great meal for a weekend BBQ, make the rub ahead of time, apply to the meat and let it sit in the refrigerator for the day.

Mint & Cumin Spiced Lamb Chops
Makes 24 Lamb Chops
2 medium onions, peeled, quartered
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves with tender stems
1 cup fresh parsley leaves with tender stems
1 cup fresh mint leaves
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp paprika
2 tsp allspice
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp ras-el-hanout or garam masala
Kosher salt
24 untrimmed lamb chops (about 5 pounds)

1. Pulse onions, cilantro, parsley, mint, cumin, paprika, allspice, red pepper flakes, and garam masala in a food processor until very finely chopped; season with salt.
2. Place lamb in a large dish and rub with spice mixture. Cover and chill at least 2 hours.
3. Prepare grill for medium-high heat and oil grate. Grill lamb to desired doneness, about 4 minutes per side for medium.
4. Let rest at least 5 minutes before serving, garnish with cilantro, mint and parsley leaves.

*original recipe from Bon Appétit

Pancetta Wrapped Pork Tenderloin w/ Cantaloupe & Red Pepper Salsa

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You wouldn’t normally think of cantaloupe for a salsa but it was so light and refreshing. This is a great meal for a summer night when you don’t want to turn on the oven because your house already feels like one, which is every night for me these days. It was also a pretty quick dish to prepare for a weeknight meal (20 minutes to prep and 25 minutes on the grill). I got this recipe from the new July issue of Cooking Light, it’s got tons of great summer recipes and I’m sure you’ll see a few more posted here soon.

Pancetta Wrapped Pork Tenderloin w/ Cantaloupe & Red Pepper Salsa

For the Salsa
1 cup finely chopped fresh cantaloupe
1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1 Tbsp finely chopped seeded jalapeño pepper
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1/4 tsp kosher salt

1. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring well. Cover and chill while you prep and cook the pork

For the Pork
1 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 ounces thinly sliced pancetta
cooking spray or oil for the grill

1. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.
2. Pat pork tenderloin dry with paper towels.
3. Sprinkle pork evenly with salt and pepper. Wrap pork in pancetta, with slices slightly overlapping.
4. Place pork on grill rack coated with cooking spray; cover. Grill 22-25 minutes or until a thermometer registers 170°F, turning occasionally to brown all sides.
5. Slice and plate the pork and top with salsa before serving.

Slow-Cooked BBQ Pork Spare Ribs

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On Tuesday, I had a late afternoon appointment downtown, my husband, however, was off work that day so I told him that morning that he was in charge of dinner that night. He leaves for the grocery store around noon to scour for both lunch and dinner fixings. He returns with a full rack of pork spare ribs, a pork spice rub and BBQ sauce for dinner. Mind you, he loves to do this, pretends like he can’t manage to make a piece of toast and then out of nowhere whips up lamb chops or lobster so tasty I think he might have been a chef in another life. I just shake my head at him and get ready to head out. Boy was I wrong to doubt him!

I asked him if I could share his recipe for these oh-so-delicious ribs, he was pretty excited that he’d made the cut for the blog 🙂 It is unbelievably simple to get these fall-off-the-bone ribs, the key is the slow-cooking, which makes them perfect for your summer weekend BBQ.

Now, if you have a favorite pork rub and BBQ sauce, by all means use those. I included a link to what my hubby used, both of which are our favorites so if you can find these at your grocery store, I highly recommend them. The pork rub may be a bit harder to find for those of you not in the Northwest as it is Rub with Love Pork Rub by Tom Douglas (a famed chef in the Seattle area) but it can be ordered on his website. The BBQ sauce is Stubbs Hickory Bourbon sauce.

Slow-Cooked BBQ Pork Spare Ribs
1 rack pork spare ribs
1/2 cup pork rub
1 cup BBQ sauce

1. Rub entire rack of ribs with pork rub, front and back. Double wrap in foil and refrigerate for 5 hours to allow the flavors to blend.
2. Prep a grill and set heat to low. Place foil covered ribs on grill and allow them to slow-cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, turning once at the 40 minute mark.
3. Open foil, slather ribs with 2/3 cup BBQ sauce, close foil and continue to cook for an additional 15 minutes.
4. Remove ribs from the grill, place on a large cutting board and cut ribs apart between the bones.
5. Drizzle with remaining BBQ sauce and serve immediately.