Reese's Peanut Butter Ice Cream

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Sometimes you can just taste a recipe as soon as you read the title. That is true of this peanut butter ice cream with chunks of Reese's peanut butter cups. To quote my friend Chef David Lawrence who devised this creation... "Ri-dic-u-lous!" I can't think of a better way to describe this dense, peanut buttery goodness.


Reese's Peanut Butter Ice Cream - Recipe

Makes a scant 2 quarts

  • 1½ cups whole milk
  • 7 large eggs yolks
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups heavy cream, lightly whipped
  • 1 cup mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, chopped

Heat the milk in a pan, and while it’s getting warm, beat together the sugar and egg yolks in the bowl of a freestanding mixer with a paddle attachment until the mixture is thick, pale yellow and falls back on itself in a ribbon, about 3 minutes. When the milk is just below the boil, slowly drizzle it into the egg mixture in a thin and continuous stream while whisking briskly so the egg is gradually warmed up. Return everything to the saucepan and cook while stirring with a wooden spoon. Make sure that you are constantly scraping the spoon across the bottom of the pan so the custard does not scorch. The custard is done when it has thickened slightly and can evenly coat the back of the spoon and when you run your finger along the back of the spoon and it holds the “line.” Don’t let the mixture come to a boil, or it may curdle.

Strain the custard into a metal bowl through a fine sieve to remove any bits of egg and stir in the peanut butter and vanilla. Nestle the bowl of custard into a large bowl of ice water to cool more quickly. I do this because I’m incredibly impatient, but you could just put the whole thing in the fridge to cool completely. Lightly whip the cream until it holds a very soft peak and fold into the cooled custard. Continue stirring occasionally until mixture is cold, about 20 minutes.

Transfer the custard to an ice cream machine and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. When the ice cream is almost finished churning add in the chopped peanut butter cups. Put the finished ice cream in a storage container and freeze until firm.

Photo Credit: Chef David Lawrence


Grilled Asian Skirt Steak

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Skirt steak is one of my favorite cuts of meat to grill. It has an intense beefy flavor that beats some of the more expensive steaks. The key is to marinade it, grill it over a high heat and then allow it to rest and retain its juices. This recipe by Chef David Lawrence adds some wonderful spices including cinnamon and cloves to the marinade. Be sure to marinade the meat as long as possible to get the maximum flavor.

Grilled Asian Skirt Steak - Recipe

Serves 4

FOR THE MARINADE

  • 1 six-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 4 large cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 4 teaspoons dark-brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 6 cinnamon sticks
  • ½ cup good dry sherry
  • 6 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

FOR THE STEAK

  • 2 small skirt steaks (about 1 pound each)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped, for garnish

In a medium bowl combine the sliced ginger, garlic, brown sugar, ground cinnamon, cinnamon sticks, dry sherry and soy sauce. Whisk in the olive oil and pour marinade over the flank steak in a heavy gallon sized Ziplock bag, which in my opinion is the easiest and best way to marinate meat. Marinate for at least 30 minutes at room temperature, or even better for several hours in the refrigerator. The longer the meat swims in the marinade the more flavorful it will be.

Preheat the grill to high.

Remove the flank steak from the marinade and brush off any slices of garlic and ginger, as they’ll just burn and char on the grill. Place the meat on a layer of several paper towels and blot off as much of the liquid as possible. This is an important step because if the meat is too wet it won’t sear, it will steam which is the surest way I know of to end up with gray steak! Season both sides generously with salt and pepper.

Grill the steak without moving it around or poking it so it has a chance to sear and get those beautiful grill marks, about 4 minutes per side for medium rare. Transfer steak to a cutting board and allow it to rest loosely tented under aluminum foil for at least 5 minutes before slicing into thin strips and scattering with a shower of chopped cilantro for garnish.

Photo Credit: Chef David Lawrence

Bing Cherry Mojito

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You know summer has arrived when your finger tips are consistently stained from the sweetness of fresh cherries. The seasonal deliciousness of this fruit was used in a refreshing mojito by Chef Vivianne Bauquet Farre on her beautiful site, Food and Style.  The result is a unique twist of the usual mojito that is perfect for a summer evening on your deck.

Bing Cherry Mojito - Recipe

serves 2
active time: 10 min

  • 1/2 large lime - cut in 1/2” pieces
  • 8 large mint leaves
  • 2 teaspoons organic sugar
  • 12 Bing cherries - pitted
  • 3 oz white rum
  • 3/4 oz Cherry liqueur (Cherry Heering)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cherry bitters
  • club soda or sparkling water
  • fresh mint sprigs as garnish

Step 1: Place the lime, mint leaves and sugar in a mixing glass. Using a muddler, crush the ingredients until the sugar has dissolved and the lime has released its juice. Add the Bing cherries and continue to muddle until the cherries are well mashed and have released their juices. Top with ice cubes, rum, liqueur and bitters. Shake vigorously until very cold.

Step 2: Place a few ice cubes in 2 tumblers. Strain the mixture into the glasses. Top with a little club soda or sparkling water (the proportion should be 3 parts drink to 1 part club soda). Garnish with a mint sprig and serve immediately.

Photo Credit: Chef Viviane Bauquet Farre


Classic Picnic Macaroni Salad

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Some of the best memories of summertime include family barbecues or picnics with classic American fare like corn on the cob, fried chicken and potato salad. When I saw this recipe by Wicked Good Dinner's Chef Dawn Viola, it immediately reminded me of my mom's macaroni salad she would make just about every summer. The memories of hot summer days and swimming with friends came flooding back. Good food can add to the sensory experience that helps us recall those carefree childhood experiences.

Classic Picnic Macaroni Salad Recipe

Yield: Serves 10
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 8 minutes
Allergy info: soy-free; contains wheat, gluten, eggs

Ingredients:
1 lb. dry elbow macaroni
1 cup homemade mayonnaise
3/4 cup minced red onion (about 1 medium)
3/4 cup diced carrot, 1/8-inch (about 3 carrots)
3/4 cup diced celery, 1/8-inch (about 2 large stalks)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons organic sugar
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Directions:
In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook macaroni 8 minutes. Transfer to a colander, rinse under cool running water 2 minutes. Drain and transfer macaroni to a large bowl. Add 1/4 cup of the mayonnaise, stir to combine. Cover, refrigerate 30 minutes.

Remove macaroni from refrigerator. In the same bowl add remaining mayonnaise, onion, carrot, celery, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. Using a large soon, gently mix to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve cold.

Food safety note:
Because this recipe contains mayonnaise, it should be kept cold at all times. If serving outdoors, place the bowl of macaroni salad in a larger bowl of ice, set on ice packs, or keep inside an ice-filled cooler.

Photo and Recipe Credit: Chef Dawn Viola, Wicked Good Dinner

Summertime: At Home in Colorado

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It's been a great summer for us. After years of wanting to raise my own organic food, we were able to make some strides towards that goal. We built and installed some raised beds. Finding a space for the beds was never an issue as we are fortunate enough to live in a rural area in the mountains west of Boulder. But Colorado is a very dry state and we've had water issues in our area. Our neighborhood recently built a reservoir to enhance our water storage and as long as water isn't wasted... we can now plant our gardens.

This may not have been the best news for my husband who is the "builder" in the family. He put a lot of work into not just raised beds but spent several weekends converting an old somewhat useless shed into a chicken coop.

billcoopbuild.jpgOne of the many things I love about him is he always does things the correct way (vs. the fastest way.)  Plus he looks great in a toolbelt! Everything is built to last and is made from good quality materials. And, he was a very good sport about the whole experience. Working on my little projects took time away from his outdoor passions like mountain biking. But he'll be happy when we're enjoying fresh heirloom tomatoes and our own backyard organic eggs. Thanks Honey.

One little surprise was discovering that one of our cute little chicks wasn't a little hen but a rooster. Oops! Meet "Rooster Cogburn." A name suggested by several people on my Facebook fan page. He's definitely full of True Grit wouldn't you say?

rooster.jpgWe already loved spending out free time at home. With our little rural farmstead it's even tougher to get us to leave home! As you can see we have some unique "neighbors" like the local elk who like to spend summer and fall in our neighborhood. Our son Wyatt calls them our "elk buddies." Not everyone in our family is thrilled about the elk visiting. One of our dogs made this about-face when she got just a little too close. Although we laughed, she could get hurt so we're glad she had a quick change of heart! Fortunately, the elk buddies have stayed out of the garden beds... so far. A fence is probably in our near future.

kenaielk.jpgEven July 4th was spent at home. It's hard to be motivated to fight all the crowds who are up here visiting Rocky Mountain National Park. So we opted to barbecue and watched Wyatt conduct his own fireworks show. I love the look on his face!

wyattsparkler.jpgAs I look at these photos I feel a deep sense of gratitude for our wonderful life and home. We're lucky. We're happy, healthy and live in a wonderful place. Sometimes it's good to remember to be grateful as the world can be challenging to navigate. This beautiful cloud that appeared over our house yesterday reminded me that even in a storm the proverbial silver lining always appears. I know. It's a corny cliche'.. but so true.

coolclouds.jpgI hope you and your family are enjoying a happy and fun-filled summer too!

-Laura





Restaurant-Style Roasted Salsa Roja

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In our house, we eat a lot of salsa. It doesn't matter whether it's fresh chopped Pico de Gallo, red, green or tomatillo... we enjoy it all. My husband prefers his to be somewhat nuclear on the heat scale. I'm more of a "medium" heat girl. This recipe is one of our favorites because it's very simple, has great texture and uses roasted vegetables. Whenever you roast anything it magnifies the flavors. It isn't too chunky and isn't too runny. This is the ideal salsa to dip into freshly made tortilla chips. But a warning.... as written, this recipe is hot. It's very spicy. That said, the heat can really vary depending upon your chiles. If you would prefer a mild or medium salsa, simply reduce the number of Serrano peppers. The first time you make this, I recommend you roast all the chiles then slowly blend them in one at a time until you find your brand of hot!

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Homemade Roasted Salsa Roja - Ingredients

  • 10 Roma Tomatoes, halved and seeds/liquid removed
  • 8 Serrano peppers, stemmed
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1-2 white or yellow onions, peeled and sliced
  • 1 "bunch" of cilantro leaves, plus some for garnish
  • 1 TBSP sea salt
  • 1 chipotle chile
  • 2 TBSP adobo sauce from canned chipotle chiles

Method:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Place tomatoes, garlic, onions and serrano peppers on a large baking rack. Bake for 30-40 minutes until onions are translucent and all vegetables are roasted. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a rack for 10 minutes.

Place all remaining ingredients and roasted vegetables in a food processor or blender (I used our Vitamix) and pulse until blended to the desired consistency. Season to taste and add more or fewer peppers to obtain desired heat.

Cook's note: If you like some fresh chunky vegetables in your salsa, simply chop some additional veggies (not roasted) and stir into salsa. Another great addition is corn kernels off grilled corn on the cob or black beans - sky is the limit on variations!

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Bocconcini and Basil

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"Perfectly vine-ripened seasonal sweet tomatoes with melt-in your mouth mozzarella and a spicy olive oil command the attention of your taste buds."

This is how Chef Viviane Bauquet Farre describes one of her favorite seasonal salads she makes at least once a week when tomatoes are ripe and in season. Fresh, simple and healthy... this salad will become one of your summer favorites too. Be sure to visit Viviane's website Food and Style as it's been recently redesigned and has gorgeous seasonal recipes for all occasions.

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Bocconcini and Basil - The Recipe
serves 4

  • 2 medium red heirloom tomatoes - cut in 1/4” slices
  • 1 medium yellow or orange heirloom tomato - cut in 1/4” slices
  • 1 medium green heirloom tomato - cut in 1/4” slices
  • 1/2 pint mixed heirloom cherry tomatoes or husk tomatoes
  • 1 lb bocconcini (baby mozzarella balls) - drained on paper towels
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup small basil leaves
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Arrange the tomatoes and bocconcini into 4 plates. Drizzle lavishly with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Garnish with the basil and serve with sourdough or Italian country bread.

Photo credit: Viviane Bauquet Farre - www.foodandstyle.com



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