Thursday, September 27, 2012

Grilled Veggie Skewers with Herb and Garlic Marinade

Fall has officially arrived but that doesn't stop me from heading outside to fire up the grill. Yes, I am the neighbor you see dashing in and out of the house grilling in all types of weather. I do own a cast iron grill pan but it can't beat the flavor of food cooked on my outside grill. I suppose you could make this recipe year round but I find that it is best using veggies fresh from the garden or farmer's market.

Grilled Veggie Skewers with Herb and Garlic Marinade
recipe adapted from Food Network

½ cup olive oil
½ cup lemon or lime juice
¼ cup water
¼ cup Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 ears fresh or frozen sweet corn, thawed and quartered
1 cup red onion chunks
1 cup white button mushrooms
1 cup zucchini or yellow squash chunks
1 cup red, yellow or green bell pepper chunks
1 cup cherry tomatoes

Wooden skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes

Make the marinade: Whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl. The marinade can be prepared in advance and held covered in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.

Place the corn on a microwave-safe plate. Cover with waxed paper. Microwave on high for 2 minutes.

Place the vegetables in a shallow dish or container. Pour marinade over vegetables. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Preheat an outdoor grill to medium heat.

Remove vegetables from the marinade, reserving marinade. Thread vegetables onto skewers, alternating colors. Cook skewers on grill until vegetables are lightly charred all over, about 10 minutes, basting with reserved marinade and turning occasionally.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Grilled Rosemary Chicken Kabobs with Apricot Sauce

Before my sister's wedding this summer I was able to get my cousins together for a trip to northern Michigan. One of our many adventures included a stop at Pond Hill Farm

picture via Following The Dream

Pond Hill Farm has tons of activities that are great for the whole family. We started with lunch in The Garden Cafe followed by petting and feeding the animals on site. Next up was wine tasting from the Harbor Springs Vineyards & Winery. We opted to do the wine tasting that included 2 different types of hard cider. Eight rather large tastings later, we headed to try out the Squash Rocket. Here you can fling squash at targets set up in the field. Just be careful not to hit any animals!

picture via Following The Dream

Pond Hill Farm also has a store where they sell various canned goods using the produce grown on the farm. After an afternoon of wine tasting and squash flinging I was more than happy to test out some of their homemade goodies. One of the many items I bought was the Apricot Spoon Jam. The jam made a perfect compliment to these grilled chicken kebobs.

Grilled Rosemary Chicken Kebobs with Apricot Sauce
recipe adapted from Pink Parsley originally adapted from Tracey's Culinary Adventures via Fine Cooking 

3 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary, divided
1 teaspoon dark brown sugar 
1 teaspoon kosher salt 
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 
1 tablespoon vegetable oil 
1 ¼ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
½ cup apricot preserves 
2 tablespoons rice vinegar 

Combine 2 teaspoons of the rosemary, the brown sugar, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes in a small bowl. Place the chicken in a medium bowl, and drizzle the oil over it, tossing to coat. Sprinkle the spice mixture over the chicken and toss to coat well.

Preheat your grill to medium-high heat (400-450°F), and oil the grates lightly. While the grill is heating, thread the chicken cubes onto skewers.

Meanwhile, make the dipping sauce: Combine the remaining teaspoon of rosemary, the apricot preserves, a pinch of salt, and the rice vinegar in a small saucepan. Set over low heat and stir just until the mixture is heated through. Remove from heat and reserve half the sauce for dipping and place the remaining sauce in a small bowl for basting the kebobs.

Arrange the kebabs on the grill and cook, turning every 3 minutes or so, brushing with the apricot sauce. Grill the kebobs until they are slightly charred on all sides and cooked through, about 12-15 minutes total. Transfer the kebabs to a platter to rest for about 5 minutes. Serve with the reserved apricot dipping sauce.

Note: I made these kebobs on the outdoor grill but you could use a grill pan on the stove top. I have also made these under the broiler with good results.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Stuffed Baby Eggplant with Ricotta and Baby Spinach

This is another summer to fall transition recipe. The original recipe calls for stuffing zucchini but my family needed a break from the excess of zucchini we have been eating lately. I bought some beautiful baby graffiti eggplant at my farmers market on a whim and this recipe was a great way to enjoy it.

Stuffed Baby Eggplant with Ricotta and Baby Spinach
recipe adapted from Dirty Girls Kitchen

4 baby eggplants
2 cups Homemade Ricotta Cheese
1 egg
5 ounces baby spinach
3 cloves garlic
½ cup grated parmesan cheese, divided
pinch of nutmeg
salt and pepper
¼ cup fine bread crumbs
1 small can San Marzano tomatoes
1 sprig basil leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 400°F.  

Put the spinach and garlic in the food processor and chop finely. Place mixture in to a large bowl and stir in the ricotta, egg, nutmeg, and ¼ cup of the parmesan cheese.

Cut each baby eggplant in half lengthwise and scoop out the middle. Fill the eggplant halves with the ricotta mixture and place on a greased cookie sheet. Stir together the breadcrumbs and remaining cheese and sprinkle the crumbs over the eggplant.

Add the San Marzano tomatoes with juice, basil leaves and olive oil into the food processor and blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.  

Drizzle sauce over the eggplant and place in the oven. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the eggplant is cooked through and the bread crumbs are golden. Drizzle a little extra olive oil on top and sprinkle with extra parmesan, if desired.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Garlic Feta Cheese Dip

With fall sports season kicking off I like to have several quick and easy appetizers to whip up for game day. I already shared the recipe for my favorite Pizza Puffs which can be made with or without meat. This recipe is nice to have on hand for a vegetarian option. I like to serve this dip with fresh vegetables, crackers or mini pita breads. Using a hand mixer will ensure the feta, cream cheese, and sour cream will blend together smoothly, even if you don't have time to let the cream cheese come to room temperature.

Garlic Feta Cheese Dip
recipe adapted from

4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
4 ounces cream cheese
1/3 cup sour cream
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ teaspoon dill weed
1/8 teaspoon onion powder

In a mixing bowl, combine the above ingredients with mixer until blended well. Cover and chill until ready to serve. Serve with vegetables or crackers.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Funfetti Cake Batter Blondies

I am a confirmed chocolate fiend but if a recipe has cake batter and funfetti in the title than I have to try it. There is something so cheerful about those little rainbow sprinkles that I cannot resist. These colorful blondies are chewy gooey cake batter heaven!

Funfetti Cake Batter Blondies
recipe courtesy of Girl Meets Life

1 box yellow cake mix
¼ cup canola oil
1 egg, beaten
¼ to ½ cup milk
¼ cup rainbow sprinkles
½ cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease a 8 x 8 inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.

Combine cake mix, oil and egg in a large bowl. Add the milk slowly just until the batter is combined. Start with ¼ cup and add no more than ½ cup total. The cake batter should be as dense and thick as possible. Fold in the sprinkles and white chocolate chips.

Pour the batter into your prepared baking pan and add a few more sprinkles on top, if desired. Bake for 25-30 minutes or just until the edges turn golden brown. The blondies will still be gooey in the middle. Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes so the center sets, before cutting into squares.