Saturday, May 17, 2014

Cantaloupe Agua Fresca

With the days being warmer and spending more time outside it is nice to have a cool refreshing beverage to drink.  This year, I am trying to steer away from sugary drinks for the kids.  A little sugar or honey is fine but I want to avoid the cokes, overly sweet teas, etc.

I recently have developed a fascination with agua frescas.  They are so simple to make and taste so delicious and refreshing.   Best of all - they are naturally sweet.   Today, I made some Cantaloupe Agua Fresca.  I just took about a 3 pound melon, diced it and put it in a blender with some water.   I strained  the cantaloupe to remove the pulp.  Pour the juice into a pitcher, add a little sugar and some lemon juice.  Stir, chill, pour over ice  and you have yourself a tasty and refreshing beverage.

Cantaloupe Agua Fresca

1 (3 pound) cantaloupe cut into a large dice
3 cups water
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons sugar


1. Process the cantaloupe in batches with a small amount of the water.  Strain the cantaloupe puree using a fine mesh strainer into a large pitcher.
2. Add the remaining water, lemon juice, and sugar.  Stir well.
3. Chill for about 1 hour.  Taste and add more sugar if necessary.   Serve over ice.

Makes 1 1/2 quarts

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Cherry Couscous Salad

This salad is quite lovely, colorful, and delicious.  I love the flavors of the fresh tarragon, olives and the fresh cherries.  The Israeli couscous used in this salad adds a nice chewy texture to the salad.  When you bite into the fresh cherries you get a nice refreshing sweet taste.  All in all, this is delicious salad perfect for spring and summer days.

I found this recipe in "Food & Wine" magazine and it is so simple and quick to prepare.  The cooking time is about 13 minutes.  You start by heating some olive oil in a saucepan.  Add the Israeli couscous and cook for about 3 minutes.  To the Couscous you add water and cook for an additional 10 minutes.  Once all the liquid has been absorbed you transfer the couscous to a bowl.  To the couscous you add pitted cherries (I cut mine into quarter), chopped black olives, lemon juice, fresh tarragon.  Season with salt and pepper.  Your salad is ready to serve.  Enjoy.

Cherry Couscous Salad
From Food & Wine Magazine

In a saucepan, cook 1 1/2 cups Israeli Couscous  in 1 tablespoon olive oil over moderate heat, stirring, 3 minutes.   Add 2 cups water, cover and cook for 10 minutes.  Transfer to a bowl and stir in 1 1/2 cups pitted cherries, 1/2 cup chopped black olives, 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 1/4 cup chopped tarragon;  season with salt and pepper.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Broccoli Stir Fry With Ginger and Sesame

I love broccoli.  Getting other members of the family to eat it is another story at times.  When I prepare broccoli, I like to enhance the natural flavors.  This is  why I love this recipe I found on "Simply Recipes" website.

 This  recipe combines broccoli with the flavors of ginger, sesame, and garlic.  The result is an extremely flavorful veggie side.  The broccoli is stir fried quickly in some high smoke-point cooking  oil with minced garlic and ginger.  A sauce is then poured over the broccoli that consists of chicken broth, sesame oil, and soy sauce.   The broccoli is cooked in the sauce until fork tender and then removed with a slotted spoon.  The sauce is reduced and the broccoli added back to the sauce reduction.  Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and serve.

Every bite is bursting with flavor.  This recipe is a family pleaser at my house.  You can find this delicious recipe here.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day


Please take a moment to view this video.  It is wonderful.  It brought tears to my eyes when I saw it at our church.  

Friday, May 9, 2014

Salmon Patties

I remember eating Salmon Patties as I was growing up.  I haven't made them as much for my family as my mom did.  I don't know why, we all like them.  They are also very easy to make and quick.    Most of the ingredients you can find in your pantry.

I start by combining two cans of salmon with some minced garlic, spices, a beaten egg, and some breadcrumbs.  Mix them all together and form into patties.  Heat some oil in a skillet and fry the patties until they are golden brown.  Flip and repeat.

The patties are ready to serve.  I usually serve mine with a veggie and some rice.  I garnish with a lemon slice.  My older son likes to treat them like a salmon burger.   To his bun he adds some tarter sauce and some lettuce.  Which way you eat them it doesn't matter, they are delicious:)

Salmon Patties
2 (6 ounce) cans salmon, undrained and flaked
1 clove of garlic minced
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1 egg slightly beaten
1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1. In a large bowl mix all of the ingredients together, except the oil.
2. Form the salmon mixture into 6 patties.
3. In a skillet, heat the oil over medium high heat.  Cook the patties until browned on both sides.

Serves 6

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Tuna Rillettes

I am late in my post for French Friday's With Dorie but I am glad I took the time to make this delicious tuna spread.   This recipe comes together very quickly and it is so easy. Basically you put canned tuna, a shallot, curry powder, a pinch of ground allspice, heavy cream or creme fraiche, salt and pepper in a food processor.  You process the ingredients until they are smooth.   Chill for at least 1 hour before serving.

I served these Tuna Rillettes on crackers topped with a thin slice of jalapeno.    They were delicious.  I loved what the curry did for the flavor of the tuna.  

This recipe can be found on page 28 in "Around My French Table."

Monday, May 5, 2014

Southwestern Layered Beef Casserole

Happy Cinco  de Mayo

Today, I have an easy delicious casserole to make that is perfect for any Cinco de Mayo Celebration or an easy and delicious dinner.   I have made different variations of this casserole but I was anxious to try this recipe I found in Cook's Country magazine.    I was intrigued by this recipe because you started with toasted rice and added some very flavorful herbs to the casserole.   I felt this probably would kick the recipe up a bit.

Instead of putting cooked rice in the casserole, you toast the rice and then put it in the casserole dish and stir with some Ro-tel Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies and some chicken broth.   You brown the ground beef and add some onion, bell pepper, salt, pepper, chili powder, garlic, cumin and coriander.  The beef mixture is then spooned on top of the rice layer followed by beans, Monterey Jack cheese and corn.  Cook for about 60-70 minutes.  Let the casserole cool for about 10 minutes and serve with some sliced scallions.

The taste of this casserole is delicious and full of wonderful flavors.   It is a no-fuss casserole that is easy to prepare and makes a wonderful dinner for your family.  This would also be great for pot lucks.

Southwestern Layered Beef Casserole
From Cook's Country Magazine


1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3/4 cup long-grain white rice
1 (10-ounce) can Ro-tel Tomatoes & Green Chilies
1/2 cup chicken broth
Salt and pepper
1 pound 85 percent lean ground beef
1 onion, chopped fine
1 green bell pepper, stemmed,seeded, and chopped fine
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed
6 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (1 1/2 cups)
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
3 scallions, sliced thin on  bias


1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease 8-inch square baking dish.  Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Add rice and cook, stirring frequently, until deep golden, about 5 minutes.  Transfer rice to prepared dish.  Stir tomatoes and their juice, broth, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper into rice.
2. Wipe out now-empty skillet with paper towels.  Add beef, onion, bell pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper to skillet and cook over medium heat until beef is no longer pink and vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes.  Stir in chili powder, garlic, cumin, and coriander and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Stir in tomato sauce and cook until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.
3.  Add beef mixture to dish and spread evenly over rice.  Layer beans, then Monterey Jack, and finally corn over beef.  Spray 12-inch square of aluminum foil with vegetable oil spray and cover dish tightly with foil.  Place on rimmed baking sheet and bake until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, 60-70 minutes.  Uncover, sprinkle with scallions, and let stand for 10 minutes.  Serve.

Serves 6 to 8

Friday, May 2, 2014

Tamarind Agua Fresca

Agua Frescas are very refreshing and very delicious. Today, I decided to make some agua fresca using fresh tamarind pods. This agua fresca is a little more labor intensive than  some of the other the fruit ones I have made.    You use fresh tamarind pods that you boil.

Fresh Tamarind Pods

After you boil the pods you have to remove the pulp from the pods.  This is kinda of messy and somewhat time consuming.  A  fun job for kids if you want to enlist their help.

Boiling Tamarind Pods
Pulp (front) Seeds (left) Pods and Fibers (right)

I found this recipe on the Saveur website.  I kept the ingredients the same, but I modified the directions. Instead of of removing the pulp from the pods right after I boiled them, I let them sit for about 2 hours.   Letting the pods steep for a while made the liquid a little richer and the pods cooled.  I couldn't imagine removing the pulp of hot pods.  The next modification I made was adding sugar to a quart of boiling water and making a simple syrup.  Being that I let the pods cool a bit the syrup was cooling at the same time.

After you have removed the pulp of the tamarind pods you process them in a blender with 2 cups of the tamarind liquid.  Strain the puree and add to the tamarind water.  Add your simple syrup and stir.   Pour the drink over some ice and you have a delicious sweet drink that is slightly tart.  Perfect for your Cinco de Mayo celebrations or whenever you need something cool and refreshing to drink.

Tamarind Agua Fresca
Adapted from Saveur


1 pound fresh tamarind pods
3 quarts water
1 cup sugar


1. Rinse tamarind pods.  Bring 2 quarts water to a boil in a medium pot; add pods.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, until just tender and the water is brown, about 15 minutes.
2. Remove the pan from the heat, uncover  and  let the pods steep for about 2 hours.
3. Boil the remaining 1 quart of water in a small saucepan.  Stir in 1 cup of sugar and stir until the sugar is dissolved.  Let the syrup cool.
4. Remove the pods from the water.  Strain the water through a fine sieve into a 3-quart pitcher.   Remove and discard skin from each pod.  Using your hands, place as much pulp as possible from the softened fruit in a blender, discarding the seeds and fibers.  Add 2 cups of the strained tamarind liquid to blender; puree until smooth.
5. Strain puree through a sieve into a pitcher.  Add the syrup to the pitcher.  Stir well.  Serve over ice.

Makes 3 quarts