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!

Lemon Zucchini Tea Cake

The garden is winding down a bit, and I’m OK with it. It looks like my zucchini and summer squash harvesting days are over but they were very good to us this year. I am going to go on record today and say that I am all set with making zucchini bread for the year. I even had enough very large zucchinis to make a few Christmas present loaves; I know I know I know it’s way too early to be bringing that up especially since it was like 90 degrees out yesterday. But timing is everything I have everything on hand and I am a get it done kind of person.

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So with being “all set” with zucchini bread and sharing my harvest with family and friends I started looking for something a little different. I came across this recipe while perusing my New Hampshire Magazine. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen a recipe and thought hey I have all or at least most of the ingredients on hand and decide right then to get everything out and make it or a resemblance of it.

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I have way too many lemons in the fridge, I asked my daughter to pick up a couple and she bought a bag UGH now what. Reading through the recipe I had everything except coconut oil. I have yet to get on the coconut “everything” bandwagon. I did have some applesauce in the fridge that I use in my zucchini bread recipe so why not use it in this one in replacement of the coconut oil.

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I tend to always break the rule of “no new recipe on guests” I seem to use that rule as more of a guideline and always try new things on people. This time was my co-workers; we were having a birthday graze day for one and I thought there would be other things to eat if this didn’t work out.

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This is my first one using their suggested amount of blueberries – we all felt every bite benefited from having a blueberry with it. Delish!!!

Well it worked out very nicely and everyone loved it, my family loved it so much and I had to use up some more of the lemons I’ve already made it again.

Lemon Zucchini Tea Cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

¾ cup applesauce – or if you want coconut oil
1 ¾ cups shredded zucchini – drained
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
3 eggs
1 ¼ cups sugar
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
¼ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla
Handful of fresh blueberries

In a stand mixer or use your hand mixer; combine the eggs and sugar on medium-high speed until light in color 1-2 minutes. Add the applesauce, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla beat until well combined another 1-2 minutes. Add the zucchini, beat till combined; another minute. Sift the flour, soda, powder and salt. Add this mixture to create the batter and beat till combined; do not over mix.

Grease or spray your pan and add the batter, place in the oven for about 40-45 minutes. Bake until your wooden toothpick comes out clean. Let the cake cool, loosen the edges and invert the cake onto a wire rack to completely cool. Once cool, spread cream cheese frosting and top with some blueberries

I used 2-8” cake pans but could be made in one larger cake pan; it doesn’t rise like you would think as it is a denser kind of cake.

Cream cheese frosting
1 8-ounce package of cream cheese, softened
¼ cup butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
1 16-ounce bag of powdered sugar (roughly 4 cups – I buy mine in bulk)

Lemon Bundt Cake

So I was having a wonderful morning sitting on my little back laundry deck enjoying a cup of tea reading a couple of magazines leisurely pondering what to do today. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to blog about; I always have a couple of recipes that I’ve made recently and feel they are worthy of sharing with you all; just sometimes I am not sure which one I want to write a little something about that particular day.

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Being a very busy family and lots of things going on, we have lived by the rule of “if it is not on the calendar; it is not happening” well up until 35 minutes ago I was relaxed and just enjoying a little piece and quiet. My husband went to finish up a job, my daughter was still sleeping and my son was not home yet. All of that changed in a very quick 5 minute period when Abbi came down Alex came home and they both came out to my quiet place. Them visiting me was fine, we were talking and catching etc. then all of a sudden my daughter said “it’s OK no one will be here until noon” the look on my face must have said it all; “who is coming and why?” she said I told you 3 weeks ago about ladies brunch UGH! Loved the idea 3 weeks ago, totally forgot about it and it WASN’T on the calendar.

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Didn’t know we were having company, didn’t know that there were going to be people here wanting to be fed; don’t get me wrong I LOVE entertaining but I usually clean the house, plan what to have on hand, not hang out 2 loads of laundry on the line. Ya know put on a good face UGH. I’m tensing up as I type. Ok I am done venting I think only because now I need to go take a shower.

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Oh and if you were wondering how I made my final choice of what to share with you was I now felt I needed to make something for her brunch and this was delicious. Hopefully I can pull it off in time! ***Update I did not, I didn’t even get to to finish my blog until now. Brunch was lovely and it is a beautiful day out so it all worked out and no one even mentioned my clothes on the line. I ended up making Shakshuka which is a Middle Eastern egg dish in a tomato sauce.

I will be making this sometime this week because Abbi picked up a bag of lemons!

Ingredients

3 eggs
1 ½ cup milk
½ cup canola (vegetable) oil
½ stick butter – melted and cooled
1 lemon squeezed
2 lemons zested
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

Glaze

1 cup powdered sugar
Lemon squeezed enough to make the sugar a consistency you can drizzle on the cake

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Directions

Pre-heat oven to 350°F

Coat a 10-inch fluted tube pan with nonstick spray. In a large mixing bowl whisk eggs, milk, oil, butter, lemon and zest.  Add flour, sugar, powder and salt. Whisk till smooth. Pour into prepared pan.
Bake about 60 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove cake from pan, cool and drizzle with glaze.

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cooling in the pan is important, apparently I was impatient as I made a mess of mine – but the flavor was excellent! 

Recipe adapted from BHG throwback

Baby Bok Choy

I will admit this ingredient has NEVER been on my radar, not only is it green (my younger self was very opposed to green vegetables) it was totally foreign to me. I will also admit that one of my favorite restaurants in town uses it in some of their dishes and my adult self has tried and actually liked it and it is kind of fun to say baby bok choy – I know you just repeated it, pretty cute huh!

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I usually make a nice dinner for my husband’s birthday, his day is on a very popular dinner date night and we are pretty last minute kind of people so getting in somewhere is usually impossible. we’ve tried a few times. This year’s’ dinner was going to be seared scallops over risotto and he wanted a bitter green. First one that came to mind was baby bok choy. Gosh I wonder why – this is one of the dishes at our favorite local restaurant where we first tried it.

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Searing scallops check, making yummy risotto check, preparing baby bok choy no idea! They are actually quite simple so I wanted to share with you a simple but effective way to maybe bring baby bok choy into your kitchen and not just for a special occasion.

6-8 heads of baby bok choy, trimmed, cut in half lengthwise
¼ cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic minced
½ tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly grated lemon zest
2 tbs fresh lemon
1 tbs white wine
freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 450’F. in a small bowl add oil, garlic and salt and toss with trimmed baby bok choy. Roast on lower rack, stirring a couple of times until wilted and tender crisp; about 6 minutes. Whisk lemon juice and zest along with the wine and pepper in a small bowl. drizzle over the roasted bok choy and arranged on your platter.

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Having a DVR is a great and terrible thing! I just got back from vacation and had WAY to many shows to catch up on. Thankfully no plans this weekend so I was able to binge watch most of them. One of the shows I just finished watching was Master Chef Junior. I can’t tell you how impressed I was with the 2 nine year old’s in the final round and at the same time how much more there is I need to learn. They know techniques and flavor profiles and are not afraid of any ingredients at age 9. I am far from 9 and there are a ton of ingredients I haven’t yet discovered. The only reason I am mentioning this show was the winner made her entree with baby bok choy and cooked it to perfection plus it wasn’t her first time using the ingredient. They made a souffle to get into the final round; I have always been intimidated by souffles but I will be making one soon!

 

whole fish red snapper

I’ve recently started visiting my local OK so not so local Whole Foods Market OK so I’ve really only been twice. It’s 45 minutes away but from where I live most things are 30+ minutes away. I’ve heard a lot of chatter about Whole Foods; one of my friends calls it Whole paycheck so I was pretty hesitant to check it out. A few weeks ago we were cooking a World Wide Wednesday meal from Croatia and they have a local cheese that; us being cheese lovers really wanted to try; it is called Paski Sir aka as Pag Cheese which was tooted as being the best cheese in Croatia. I googled where to get it it and guess who had it in stock; yup off to Whole Foods I went. I headed directly to the cheese section and started looking for Pag cheese, the guy behind the counter was extremely knowledgeable and not only knew what my scribbled note said he said oh wait I have a fig spread also from Croatia that would go very nicely with my Pag cheese.  I was very impressed.

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So on my second trip to Whole Foods; I took my daughter for her first visit and we walked by the meat and fish counters. I see why my girlfriend calls it whole paycheck, so many things to choose from.  I have always; well not “always” wanted to try cooking a whole fish and why not a Red Snapper; it is a wonderful flaky white fish and I don’t see it a lot at my usual market; I wish we had a local fish market.  Me never having prepared a whole fish before; this was going to be way out of my comfort zone. At least I thought it would be, yeah it kind of was but I prevailed. While I was pretty nervous and wanted to do the snapper justice, I had the butcher clean and scale the fish for me. I got them home; I bought 2 to feed the 4 of us; Abbi remembered her Anne Burrell cookbook had a red snapper recipe here we go.

 

If you are a little adventurous I recommend giving this a try. It was fairly easy, great flavor and a little bit of a show stopper.

Red Snapper

3 or 4 large potatoes Yukon gold  works well; I used some the ones I had in my garden, sliced 1/8 inch thick I used my mandolin.
6 cloves garlic (4 finely chopped; 2 smashed)
1 bunch fresh oregano (half finely chopped; half as whole sprigs)
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, slivered
Pinch of crushed red pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
1 3 -pound red snapper or bass, scaled, gutted and gills removed (have the butcher do this for you)
1 lemon, sliced
3 fresh bay leaves
1/2 bunch fresh Italian parsley
1 cup dry white wine

Directions
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large bowl, toss the potatoes, chopped garlic, chopped oregano, olives and red pepper; drizzle generously with olive oil and season with salt. Spread out in your roasting pan that is large enough to hold the fish. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes. Set aside to prep the fish.

 

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Make 3 diagonal slices about 1/2 inch deep on each side of the fish. Season the outside and inside with olive oil and salt. Place the lemon slices, bay leaves, whole oregano sprigs, parsley and the remaining smashed garlic inside the body cavity of the fish.

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Pour the wine over the potatoes, lay the fish on top and toss the whole thing in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until the eyeballs pop out – yes that is what I said and I was skeptical at first but now I’m a believer

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Remove the skin and bones and serve the fish over the potatoes.

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Grilled Chicken with Pineapple Salad

I seem to break the cardinal rule of “never make a new dish to serve company” fairly often. I also always confess up front that this is a new dish; I am not sure how it’s going to come out or taste. I think I confess upfront just in case it’s not a hit; kind of a cop out isn’t it! Maybe I will turn over a new leaf and just pretend “Oh I make this all the time” yeah I’m pretty sure that’s not going to happen.

I do take pride in making a family Sunday dinner. I actually take pride in making family dinner almost every night. When my kids came along no matter how hectic life got, we all sat down for more dinners together than not. I think that might be where the whole family being foodies came from.  I even have as part of my cooking class mission statement “Help bring your family together at the dinner table”

Last Sunday being Mother’s day I made my guys and in-laws a couple of new dishes that were on my list to make at some time during the week; which I never got around to doing, so Sunday dinner I made them both, a little worried that they didn’t necessarily “go together” I was making them both since I had bought all the ingredients and hoping for the best. They were both a hit and actually worked out really well together. I made a Roasted Tomato Panzanella salad and a Grilled Chicken with Pineapple Salad.

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Grilled Chicken

Because you are grilling, I suggest bone in skin on; they are more forgiving of not overcooking or drying out; however please use your favorite or what you have on hand

You can also make this on the stove or in your oven if you don’t have a grill

4-6 Chicken Thighs – bone in skin on (you can always remove the skin before you eat it)

Olive Oil

Kosher salt

Freshly cracked black pepper

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Grilled Pineapple Salad

Cut pineapple into spears

Grill 2-3 minutes per side or until charred. Remove from grill and cut into bite sized pieces

1-2 heads of radicchio

1 cup julienned carrots

2 tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tsp Dijon mustard

1 tbs chopped parsley

Olive oil

Kosher salt

Freshly cracked black pepper

Make the vinaigrette (you can do this ahead of time) whisk together the lemon juice, parsley, Dijon mustard and a drizzle of olive oil in a large mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper; add the chopped grilled pineapple, radicchio and carrots to the bowl. Toss and coat all ingredients in the vinaigrette.