Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Peaches and Arugula

I know this isn't really a full recipe, but I had to share this grilled cheese variation because it was a great summer sandwich!  I absolutely looooove summer peaches, and usually I just slice them up and eat them, but I bought a ton since they were on sale this week for super cheap.  Since I had some peaches to spare, I decided to slice up a couple to put inside grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner.  I used to be weird about mixing sweet and savory together, but I've really gotten into this lately.

The title of this post says it all, I just loaded up a sandwich with swiss cheese slices (which I loved with the peaches, but I bet other cheeses would taste yummy too), thinly sliced peaches (you can peel them if you want to) and a little bit of peppery arugula.  Make sure the outside of the sandwich is buttered, and cook like you would a normal grilled cheese sandwich.  I love making different grilled cheese sandwich combinations for a quick and easy dinner, and these peaches were great with grilled cheese :)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Tres Leches Cake

When I think about what desserts go best with a Mexican dinner, three desserts come to mind - flan (which I LOVE, but Kevin doesn't), fried ice cream (which is a pain because you have to deep fry it), and tres leches cake.  Kevin had never heard of tres leches cake (what?!) so I decided I had to show him what he was missing out on.

For those of you that never took Spanish, tres leches just means three milks.  This is called a three milks cake because after the cake is baked, it's soaked in regular milk (or heavy cream), evaporated milk, and sweetened condensed milk (although I did see one version that also used coconut milk....I may have to try that sometime!).  Because the cake is soaked in three milks, it is very moist and completely different than a traditional fluffy cake.  I used this recipe from allrecipes, and it was delicious!  Don't skip the homemade whipped cream on top :)


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), softened to room temperature
1 cup white sugar
5 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups whole milk (I used 1%)
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).  Grease and flour one 9x13 inch baking pan.

Sift flour and baking powder together and set aside.  Cream butter and the 1 cup sugar together until fluffy. Add eggs and the 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract; beat well.  Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture gradually; mix until well blended. Pour batter into prepared pan.  Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 minutes.

Let cake cool to room temperature and pierce cake all over with a fork.  Combine the milk, condensed milk, and evaporated milk together. Pour over the top of the cooled cake.  Cover with foil and refrigerate for at least a couple of hours (you can also let this soak overnight).

Once you are ready to serve the cake, make the whipped cream:  Whip whipping cream, the remaining 1 cup of the sugar, and the remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla together until thick. Spread over the top of cake (I just scooped a giant spoon full over each slice). Be sure and keep cake refrigerated.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Clam Chowder - Remembering Our Seattle Trip

Kevin and I visited Seattle earlier this summer, and while we were there we ate clam chowder at three different places.  One of the clam chowders was pretty bad, one was very good, and one was amazing (according to Kevin, it was the best clam chowder he has ever had).  The amazing clam chowder came from Pike Place Chowder which is located in the famous Pike Place Market, and I would definitely recommend trying it out if you visit Seattle!

While we were in Seattle, we hit up some of the usual tourist spots downtown, but we also spent a couple of days driving to some places outside of Seattle.  On one of the days, we drove up to Anacortes where we went on a whale watching tour through the San Juan Islands to see the orca whales.  We ended up seeing 7 or 8 different whales, and it was incredible watching them play and jump out of the water! 

On another day, we made the long drive (and ferry ride) over to the Olympic Penninsula to visit Olympic National Park, and I think we hiked about 10 miles that day!  Although we didn't quite make it to Forks, Washington, to see the Twilight sites (Kevin would have never gone for that!), we had an amazing experience at Rialto Beach seeing the Pacific Ocean and hiking to see the tide pools.  Afterwards, we went on a short hike to see a waterfall.  Our last stop before heading back to Seattle was to Hurricane Ridge to get a good view of the mountains.  Everything we saw was beautiful, and we had a great trip.  We will definitely be back sometime in the future!  Here are a couple pictures we got while visiting the Olympic Penninsula:

First up, a couple pictures that I took while exploring the tide pools at Rialto Beach....this beach was totally different than any beach I've ever visited before. 

Even though we didn't quite make it to Forks to see the Cullens, I saw these signs when we were around the outskirts of LaPush so I had to pull over and take a couple pictures (haha yes I know I am a dork)

We saw some wildlife on our hike up Hurricane Hill.

Here's a picture I took during our last hike of the day up Hurricane Hill.  Unfortunately, it was pretty cloudy that day so we didn't get the million dollar view we were hoping for, but it was still an amazing experience.  The pictures just don't do it justice....it is truly beautiful.

Okay, now back to food!  I wanted to make some clam chowder to remind us of our trip to the Pacific Northwest.  I adapted this recipe from allrecipes, and I was very happy with how it turned out!  I asked the clam chowder expert (my husband, Kevin) what he thought, and he said it was better than the very good clam chowder that we had in Seattle, but not quite as good as the Pike Place Chowder that he thought was the best he's ever had.  I can live with that :)


3 (6.5 ounce) cans minced clams
1 small yellow onion, chopped
3-4 stalks of celery, chopped
2 cups cubed potatoes (make sure they are bite-sized pieces - you don't want to leave them too big)
2 carrots, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 jar clam juice
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 quart half-and-half cream
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Salt & fresh cracked pepper, to taste
Chopped Chives and saltine crackers (or oyster crackers), for serving
Saute the onions, celery, carrots and garlic over medium heat for about 4-5 minutes in a large stockpot.  Add potatoes to the stockpot, and drain the juice from the minced clams over the onions, celery, potatoes, garlic, and carrots. Add the jar of clam juice plus just enough water to cover everything, and cook over medium heat until potatoes are tender.
Meanwhile, in a large, heavy saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour until smooth. Whisk in cream and stir constantly until thick and smooth. Add this mixture to the stockpot with the vegetables and clam juice. Heat through, but do not boil.

Stir in clams just before serving. If they cook too much they get tough. When clams are heated through, stir in vinegar, and season with salt and pepper.  Serve with chopped chives and saltine crackers.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Crispy Coconut Oatmeal Cookies

A couple of weeks ago, I baked some coconut oatmeal cookies that ended up having a great flavor but were way too thin so I didn't blog about them.  Since the flavor combination was really good, I decided to look for a similiar recipe so that I could give these cookies another shot.  I adapted a recipe that I found on allrecipes, and they turned out much better! 

Even though Kevin isn't a big coconut fan, he ended up liking these a lot.  I love coconut flavored anything so of course I loved them :)  The only bad thing about baking cookies is that I can't resist them so they all get eaten way too fast!  This recipe will make about 28 cookies.


1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup crushed cornflakes cereal
1 cup rolled oats
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/3 cups flaked coconut
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar and white sugar until smooth. Stir in the egg and vanilla. Sift together the flour, salt and baking powder; stir into the creamed mixture. Add the oatmeal, crushed cereal and coconut and mix until combined.

Drop dough by teaspoonfuls onto a cookie sheet. Cookies should be about 2 inches apart (this is important because these will spread....also make sure you don't make your cookies too big because you don't want them to spread into one giant cookie in your pan!). Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven. Cookies should be light brown at the edges and on the bottom. Remove from baking sheets to cool on wire racks.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Antipasto Pasta Salad

I have to admit...I'm not really a pasta salad person.  I don't even know why I don't like it because I like all of the components of pasta salad, but it's something that I will usually only take a tiny scoop of when it's served at a party.  We recently hosted a party at our condo where we were serving barbeque type foods so when planning the menu, pasta salad seemed like a logical fit for one of the side dishes so I needed to find a pasta salad recipe that I would like. 

I decided to adapt this recipe that I found on allrecipes because it looked much better than the "typical" pasta salad, and the combination of the salami, cheese, and vegetables sounded tasty.  I'm glad I found this recipe because I definitely thought this was one of the best pasta salads I've had.  I guess what I'm trying to say is - this is a good pasta salad recipe for people who don't usually like pasta salad.  This recipe makes a HUGE bowl of pasta salad so unless you are serving it at a party, I would cut it in half.   The only thing I would change for next time would be to add a couple of chopped scallions to add a little bit of onion flavor and a pop of green color.


1 (12 oz.) box of tri-colored rotini pasta
1/2 pound Genoa salami, chopped
1/2 pound Asiago cheese, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
3 tomatoes, chopped
1 (.7 ounce) package dry Italian-style salad dressing mix
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
salt and ground black pepper to taste
Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain, and cool under cold water.

In a large bowl, combine the pasta, salami, asiago cheese, red bell pepper, yellow bell pepper and tomatoes. Stir in the envelope of dressing mix. Cover, and refrigerate for at least one hour.

To prepare the dressing, whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Just before serving, pour dressing over the salad, and mix well.