Monthly Archives: August 2017

Basil Garlic Pesto

This summer has been pretty rough on my gardens. I lost my peppers, eggplants and all but 2 cucumber plants. My squash plants have been flowering quite a bit but not producing like in years past. Not to say we haven’t been eating anything, we have some wonderful potatoes, carrots, beets and apparently I only know how to grow enormous cabbages; who knew!
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he one up side are my herbs; they are amazing this year so much so I think I need to do some research on how to start drying them. I’ve never attempted drying my own herbs; how hard can it be right? Stay tuned!
IMG_5393Basil being one of my favorite herbs but never really having great luck in growing it in abundance; until this year, this is the first time I didn’t have to pick up a package from the store in order to make my yummy pesto.
IMG_5375I had taken out of the freezer some bone in skin on chicken quarters the other day that I needed to cook up. I can’t express enough that a liberal amount of kosher salt and black pepper on both sides and baked in the oven for about 45 minutes on 400’F and you will have the most tasty piece of chicken that honestly doesn’t need anything else but to cover it with a little garlic basil pesto and ahhhhhhh a simple but glorious dinner. I used my trusty little vegetable swirler; I don’t even remember what it’s really called; but for about $20 a few years it is pretty cool!. A small diced up onion sauteing in a little olive oil and add your swirled veggies a little salt and pepper and in a quick 3-4 minutes you have a wonderful side.
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IMG_5392Basil Pesto

6 Ounces of washed and dried basil leaves, stems removed
4 Ounces of pine nut
6-8 Cloves of Garlic
2 Ounces of grated parmesan cheese
Olive oil – Salt and Pepper
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Combine first 3 ingredients in a food processor or blender, pulse to combine. Add olive oil until you get the consistency you like, finish by adding the Parmesan cheese a little salt and pepper pulsing until combined.  Enjoy with and/or on just about anything.

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Red Sangria – Simple & Delicious

So does anyone even remember what we did before we could google everything we needed to know? I know in my family if any of us have a discussion and happen disagree wink wink; someone immediately pulls out there phone and googles whatever we were discussing. I guess we must have been SO isolated with our knowledge back then? My husband has gone as far to dub the passenger seat in his truck the “google seat” basically meaning if he needs to know something the person sitting next to him needs to “google it”. 99% of the time it’s our son and I swear he is the fastest googler I know.
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I am fairly certain that I have mentioned in the past how I google myself for my recipes all the time.  The other day I wanted to make a batch of Sangria and recall writing a blog about it.  So I type cookingatclarktowers/sangria and it popped up but the recipe, story and pictures were all gone – sad face! I then had to try to recreate it because I KNOW its good; I have had and have also made some that I just didn’t care for. Not all Sangria is created equal. Thankfully this is a recipe that is a super easy and the best one I have ever had. Bonus is you can drink it right away ever come across one that wanted you to wait 24 hours “to meld” umm no thank you!
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Red Sangria

1 bottle of inexpensive red wine – you still want it to taste good
1 bottle of Lemonade (equal size of the wine bottle plus another cup or so)
Plum Brandy – 1 shot or use one of your favorites
Grand Mariner – 1 shot – no need to buy a large bottle – buy a nip?
Apple – peeled and diced
Orange – peeled and sliced
Lemon – sliced
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In a large enough container combine all the ingredients – I fill to the top of my pitcher with more lemonade add some ice and serve

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I had some leftover blueberries – so I added those too!

Sauteed Scallops & Swiss Chard

I have been craving scallops lately; when I order them out I love them fried; when I make them at home I tend to always sear them.  They take no time at all to cook so this could be a wonderful quick weeknight meal. Even though I made them; I still want to go out for some crispy, tender, juicy fried scallops. They are just plain delicate and delicious!
IMG_5359My husband has taken over the task from my son who is now living with his girlfriend; of asking me “what are we having for dinner?” When I said sauteed scallops & Swiss chard over rice. His face lit up and said Risotto? Well I was thinking wild rice but we haven’t had risotto in quite awhile so why not? Now I can tell you why not; since scallops are on the lighter side for flavor the heavy Parmesan flavored risotto overpowered my sauteed scallops.  Not to say dinner was a disaster; it was absolutely delicious and I would make it again, but with either a wild rice or jasmine or even a basmati rice. IMG_5355

Ingredients

Scallops – I buy by the quantity I want to serve each person plus a couple of tasting
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
1 small shallot, minced
¼ cup dry white wine
½ cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon dijon mustard
½ teaspoon fresh thyme
1 tablespoon butter

Directions

In a large nonstick fry pan over medium heat, add a couple of swirls of the olive oil. Add the chard and season with salt and pepper. Saute until just softened, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and keep warm
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Scallops; remove muscle, pat dry and season with salt and pepper. In the same pan over medium high heat and another swirl of olive oil. Add the scallops and cook; without moving so they get nice and browned; after 3 or so minutes turning once to finish cooking. They are done with they are still springy to the touch and no longer translucent. Approximately 3 minutes on each side. Transfer scallops to a plate and keep warm.
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Add another swirl of olive oil and saute the shallots till they are softened a couple of minutes. Add wine and boil until it’s almost evaporated. Stirring to scrape up any browned bits. Add the broth, lemon juice, mustard and the thyme. Boil until slightly thickened. Remove from heat, add the butter and stir till melted. Season with salt and pepper.


Place a spoon or two of rice on a plate or in a bowl; top with the chard and then arrange the scallops on top and then spoon the sauce over it.
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Caramel Salted Nuts

Did I get you at Caramel? Salt? or the Nuts? I am going to apologize up front for sharing this with all of you, they are sinfully delightful! If you choose to make them; you will not be disappointed. I seem to have a problem with taking something somewhat good for you; the nuts; and adding a little more love; the salt and the caramel to bring it another level.
IMG_5364I have made this 3 times in the last couple of weeks. While that may sound like we have gone overboard on eating caramel salted nuts; we only got to eat 2 of the batches. I am not sure if I ever mentioned my crazy dog. I call him my ungrateful rescue; he has a severe case of separation anxiety and he only does this out of spite; he really has NO idea how good he has it. I am fairly certain that most would have given him up with all his shenanigans. Destroying shoes, clothes, stairs, doors to name a few. He has also been known to counter surf on occasion;  yep he found the sealed container of nuts on the counter, took them into the den and ate ALL of them. Thankfully there were no adverse effects to his digestive system. I wonder if he even enjoyed them?
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I do need to share that he does have some good quality’s as well; you will never find a more cuddly animal. He is most happy when sitting near or better ON you. And if we could all be so lucky that someone; anyone be SO excited when you walk into a door.
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If you have never made caramel before; it really isn’t that hard. There are a couple of things to keep in mind. Firstly it is VERY hot so don’t get any on you. Secondly stir it once and then leave it alone. You can swirl the pan but let the heat do the work and you will be rewarded in kind.

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Nuts
1 cup of almonds
1 cup of pecans
1 cup of cashews
1 cup of walnuts

On a sheet pan place in a 350’F oven for about 10-15 minutes. Just enough to barely brown them. Let them cool.
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Caramel
¼ cup water
1 ½ cup sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoon kosher salt

In a sauce pan place the sugar and water stir to combine and then let it be. You can swirl the pan a few times until it starts to brown. It will continue to brown so don’t take it too far. Remove it from the heat and add 2 teaspoons of vanilla.

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While the caramel is still hot add the nuts and salt into the saucepan. Working quickly spread the nut mixture onto the same sheet pan with either parchment or Silpat. Flatten out with a couple of forks the best you can. Once cooled and hardened break apart and enjoy!

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Recipe by Ina Garten