Grilled Artichokes with Bagna Cauda + Roasted Rack of Lamb with Basil Goat Cheese Sauce

This past Saturday was quite delicious!  We were graced with not having ANYTHING on our calendar so we spent most of the afternoon at the pool before heading home to feast on an amazing dinner.

artichokes

I’ve never tackled grilled artichokes at home and while they take a little bit of time, they really are quite easy to make.  I had watched Giada make them on a recent episode of “Giada in Italy” (I wanna go!) and that is the recipe I used.  Big Guy and I also watched a YouTube video on cleaning artichokes that was very helpful – I had no idea how hairy and spiky they are inside.  And I also have a whole new appreciation for jarred artichoke hearts and completely understand the cost now.

To make the artichokes, you combine white wine, water, lemon juice + the lemon halves, thyme, rosemary, a bay leaf, and salt in a large pot.  Add the artichokes (after cleaning!) cut-side down and bring the water to a simmer with a top on the pot.  Simmer for 10 minutes or until tender.

Remove the artichokes and drain.  Drizzle with EVOO and a sprinkle of salt and grill about 4 minutes on side.  The artichokes are then dipped into a luscious mixture of olive oil, garlic, salt and butter.

grilledartichokes

I simply love cooking new things in the kitchen with Big Guy.

For dinner, we made a roasted rack of lamb with an incredible goat cheese sauce.  I prepped the lamb and the carrots before we even left for the pool.  Simply process EVOO, garlic, oregano, basil, ground cumin, lemon zest and crushed red peppers in a food processor.  Season the lamb liberally with salt and pepper then rub the marinade over the top.  Arrange the carrots around the lamb on the baking sheet.  Cover and let chill in the refrigerator.

The lamb is roasted at 425 degrees for 15 minutes and then flipped and roasted for 5-10 more minutes.  Allow to rest 10 minutes before cutting.

And with the lamb the most delicious goat cheese sauce.  Simply combine room temperature goat cheese, 2% Greek Yogurt, honey, basil, lemon zest plus salt and pepper.

lamb

Those carrots were better than I ever expected and the lamb was cooked to perfection.  Please don’t leave off the goat cheese sauce – it’s TOTALLY necessary.

I am forever grateful for our little date nights at home.  A time to just relax and enjoy one another.

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Chocolate and Espresso Layer Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting

There are no words for this cake.  

It’s everything you want in a chocolate cake and more.

It’s rich and sweet but not overly sweet, thanks to the espresso.  (And don’t worry, Marlo, it doesn’t taste like coffee at all!)

And there’s actually quite a lot of texture – especially with the peanuts on top.

And the frosting…my favorite part.

Cream cheese + peanut butter.  I’m done.  My life is complete.

But I can’t lie.  The cake takes a little time.

I actually baked the cake the evening before I planned on eating the cake.  That gave the cake the opportunity to fully cool before I wrapped it up tightly and stored it in the fridge.

The next morning, I pulled out all the ingredients for the frosting to make sure they were at room temperature.

I could not wait to dig into a slice.

I was pretty impressed since I’m more of a cook and not the skilled at baking.

Not that it matters, but it was worth every.single.calorie.

 

 

Lobster Roll {and the unofficial end of summer}

My birthday week is officially here.  And my summer is unofficially over.  We spent our “last” summer weekend just being happy.  No rushing around, no traveling.

And lobster rolls seemed like the perfect ending to our weekend (and to our summer).  We’ve never cooked with lobster at home so it was fun to work with a new-to-us ingredient.

First we steamed the lobster tails for about 7 minutes and then shocked them in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.

After doing a Google search, we landed upon a YouTube video on how to remove the meat and it was actually super simple.

We chopped the meat and then allowed it to chill for about 30 minutes. While the lobster meat was chilling, I prepped the spicy mayo:  mayo, Dijon mustard, mustard powder, lemon juice, Old Bay seasoning, salt and Sriracha.

The lobster meat was tossed in a little melted butter, chopped tarragon and salt.

A buttery roll is crucial.  It can make the difference in having a good lobster roll and having an ohemgee good lobster roll.

The rolls is stuffed with the lobster mixture and then topped with spicy mayo and chives.

It seemed necessary to have a pile of Kettle Salt and Vinegar chips next to he lobster roll with a cold brew to wash it down.

Not bad for our first time experimenting with lobster.

Not bad at all.

 

Salmon with Lemon, Capers and Rosemary

I’ve got another “feel good” meal for you.

bach 003

 

Another salmon recipe from Giada.  Giada’s Salmon with Lemon, Capers and Rosemary stays incredibly moist because it’s cooked in a foil packet.

I typically don’t use capers (I had to buy some for this recipe) but something about the combination of capers with lemon and rosemary peaked my interest.

And the fact that it called for a little bit of wine.  Which meant I also enjoyed a glass of wine while cooking dinner.

The recipe is super simple.  I used a grill pan to cook the salmon and simply threw some asparagus alongside the salmon to complete my dinner.

I loved the addition of the capers.  It paired beautifully with the acidity of the lemon and the sweetness of the wine.  And rosemary is always welcome on my plate.

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Not only is the recipe simple, but clean-up is a breeze because of the foil packet.

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Capers – Love ’em or hate ’em?

 

Upcoming Weekend Plans

This has been a busy week!  Productive but busy.  Momma Bell has been in town the past two days helping me organize my kitchen – finding a place for all our new kitchen tools and gadgets and serving dishes.  I’m certain I have the most organized kitchen in our neighborhood.  Momma left this morning but my sister, brother-in-law and Baby Haines are on the way!  I am so excited for this weekend!!!  Instead of the usual Friday Favorites (I just haven’t had time to pin this week – GASP!) I’m going to give you a sneak peak into what might be cooking in my kitchen over the next few days.  It’s going to be a scrumptious few days.

Maggie and Brad will actually make it in time for dinner tonight, which I wasn’t prepared for (but I’m so excited about) and we have plans to grab drinks early in the evening – so it might be a crock pot dinner.  And it might actually be something I’ve made before (another GASP!) but Big Guy wasn’t home when I made it.

Dinner Friday night:  Crock Pot Sesame Honey Chicken over Rice with a veggie on the side.

Sesame Honey Chicken

Planning a menu with an almost 2-year old in mind is something I don’t have to do regularly.  But I think that this is kid-friendly (she’s not picky at all!) and it’s one of those set-it-and-forget-it kind of meals.  So while I’m toasted to KP’s 30th birthday, dinner will be cooking away.

Saturday AM:  We have a FUN day planned Saturday!  For breakfast, it’s going to be more of a grab-and-go kind of meals.  Fruit, yogurt and French Breakfast Puffs.  

Cinnamon and Sugar

I made these muffins years ago (probably 5 years ago) and they were on a recent episode of Pioneer Woman.  Big Guy doesn’t remember eating them so I think I’ll make another batch.  I have a feeling these little sweet muffins will make me Haines’ favorite auntie.  😉

Saturday lunch:  We’re grabbing lunch out of the house!  Hopefully I’ll have a fun place to share with you.

Saturday dinner:  Big Guy is set on making the Pioneer Woman’s beef tenderloin (total cowboy food).  We’re going to follow more of the recipe that she shared on her show but I’m excited – I love a good beef tenderloin.  On the side, a grilled summer vegetable platter.  The sauce that gets served on the side sounds divine!

grilled veggies

Now, we all know that I won’t be serving a Saturday dinner without an appetizer.  I have some blueberry goat cheese in the fridge that I know Maggie and I will devour.  But I’m also going to whip up Paula Deen’s Hot Pimiento Cheese.  Big Guy is so sad about the Paula Deen fall-out (that has gotten really out of control) so I figured I’d show Paula some love since the media isn’t.

hot pimiento cheese

And to sip?  Well, the boys will be boys, drinking ice cold beers and vodka but Maggie and I will be classing it up.  Raspberry-Peach Processo Punch will quench our thirst for an evening on the back deck.

sparkling punch

And for dessert – well, I’m going to keep mum about that.  But I will tell you that I”m going to break out my trifle dish!

Sunday morning:  A breakfast casserole!  I’ve had my eye on Cooking Light’s Sausage and Polenta Breakfast Casserole for a while now and I think this weekend is the weekend!  The best part – it’s prepped the night before.

break the fast

So there you have it.  Does that sound like a tasty weekend or what?

Now I just need Big Guy and Maggie to approve this menu…

Paradise Pizza

Last week was National Pizza Week so of course I had to participate!

Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives is a show that can be found playing on the t.v. at least once a week.  It’s a no-brainer show, meaning I can be doing other things while watching it and not have to worry about missing anything.  During an episode last week, a pizza from Psycho Suzie’s was showcased.  I immediately knew that was the pizza we were making on Saturday.

Paradise Pizza:  Canadian Bacon, pineapple, pineapple rum-soaked raisins and red onion atop a pile of mozzarella   

Pineapple rum-soaked raisins?  Yes, please!  Obviously I didn’t have a recipe to follow just an ingredient list.  To prepare the raisins, I soaked about 1/2 a cup of raisins in a mixture of coconut rum (Malibu) and pineapple juice (from the can of the pineapple chunks I was going to use).  Those were prepped about 5 hours before eating time.

pizzaburger 008

 

While the dough (I used a Bob Mill’s gluten-free mix) was resting I prepped the remaining ingredients.

pizzaburger 009

 

Pineapple chunks, pre-made pizza sauce, Canadian bacon (cut into quarters) and red onion (sliced thinly).  While I was prepping those ingredients, Big Guy was grating the mozzarella.  Tip:  If you’re grating a mozzarella ball, place it in the freezer for 10-15 minutes to make it easier.

Oh man…patience wasn’t easy while this pizza was baking.

pizzaburger 010

 

Once it came out of the oven, I was more than ready to dig in!

pizzaburger 011

 

Paradise Pizza perfection!  Don’t let the raisins scare you!  This combination had sweet, savory, salty and creamy.

I honestly escaped to paradise while enjoying this pizza.  Despite my tendency to never make a recipe twice…this may be an exception.

BQ Addiction

BQ isn’t lacking from attention these days.  I think Big Guy got to use the grill every day this past weekend…Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  They were both in heaven.  I had every intention of catching some rays on Saturday but the sun had different plans.  Plans of hanging out behind rain clouds and watching a tornado touch down near our house.  Needless to say, I didn’t put on the bathing suit over the weekend (I will this weekend, oh yes I will).  But we were able to whip up some delicious food and clear out some of the DVR.  So I can’t complain too much.

On Saturday we channeled Bobby Flay and had our own barbecue BQ addiction.

For an appetizer – Mustard Aioli Grilled Potatoes with Herbs.  To make the mustard aioli a little lighter – I used 1/4 cup mayo and 1/4 cup Greek yogurt.  Oh, and instead of chives, I used green onion.  These were addicting!!!!!!!

 

 

And then it was dinner-time.  Grilled Lamb Sausage with Goat Cheese and Herbs.  The vinaigrette was awesome – I used champagne vinegar instead of sherry vinegar.  And I didn’t use as much EVOO as the recipe called for.

 

Big Guy was obsessed with the potatoes.  I think he wanted more on Sunday to go with his sammie….