Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Manning The Grill: A dinner Party

SOOOOOOOOO I finally had a dinner party...
Something I've been meaning to do for about two years..
It was raging....
The food as well as the people.

On the Menu:

  • Garrett's Bacon wrapped Water-Chestnuts
  • Turkey Burgers with Caramelized Onions and Blue Cheese Mayonnaise
  • Watermelon Cucumber Salad with Feta, Mint, and Thai Basil
  • Emily's Grilled Asparagus with drizzled Balsamic
  • Ceriah's Sweet Potato Fries with A homemade Barbecue Sauce and a Chipotle Sauce
  • Fresh Watermelon Sangria
  • Ceriah's freshly squeezed raspberry juice
  • Grilled Peaches with Home-churned Butter-Rum Pecan Ice Cream
Everything was phenomenal.
AND refreshing for the gazillion degree heat.
Good people, good food.
What's better?!

Our Family's FAVORITE Turkey Burgers (they'll make you drool.. I'm just sayin'):

Your favorite Buns (I used fresh baked rolls so it was more like a little slider)
1 package 85/15 Ground Turkey (DON'T GO FOR THE LEAN, If you do they won't be epic.)
1/2 cup part skim Ricotta cheese
1 3/4 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
1 3/4 Worcestershire Sauce
Salt and Pepper

Mix all the ingredients together and form patties.


Caramelize a large onion in a skillet with a tablespoon of butter.

Blue Cheese Mayonnaise:
1/4 cup mayonnaise
less than 1/4 cup of blue cheese crumbles

Combine and Congeal.

This salad is SOOOO refreshing for summer. I have always been intrigued by the thought of watermelon as a savory sweet combination. This is what I came up with.

Chopped Seedless Watermelon
Medium Seedless Cucumber
Block of Feta
Thai Basil
Fresh Mint
Drizzle of Balsamic Vinegar

Chop watermelon into 1/2 inch little cubes. Slice the cucumber thin on a cheese slicer. Chop feta into 1/4 inch cubes. Combine watermelon, cucumber and feta. Tear a handful of fresh basil and mint leaves into the salad. Drizzle a tablespoon of Balsamic over the salad and gently toss. Use salt and pepper to taste.

Watermelon Sangria:
This sangria is DELICIOUS. I made up the recipe on the fly and it turned out delicious. I really recommend the sparkling Lemonade to give fizz and a cut sweetness with some yummy tartness! You could always squeeze in a Lemon or lime with Club Soda if you can't find the Sparkling Lemonade.

1 bottle White Wine (I used White Haven Savignon Blanc)
1 bottle Sparkling Lemonade
2 1/2 cups fresh Watermelon Juice
Some Watermelon Chunks
Fresh Blueberries
1/2 Cup Lemoncello Liquer

Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate.

1 lb Local Texas Peaches
Local Honey

Adapted from David Lebovitz's Butterscotch Pecan Ice Cream:
5 tbls butter
3/4 cup Brown Sugar
tablespoon Molasses
1/3 tsp. Salt
2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup whole milk
6 large egg yolks

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan, then stir in the brown sugar, molasses and salt until well moistened. Whisk in 1 cup of the cream and the milk.
Warm the Brown sugar and cream mixture. Pour the remaining 1 cup cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top.
In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm brown sugar mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.
Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scrapping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. Add the rum vanilla, then stir until cool over an ice bath.
Chill in refrigerator, then freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufactures instructions.

Butter Pecans:
1 1/2 cups pecans
1 1/2 tbls butter
1/4 tsp coarse salt

Toss pecans and salt with Melted butter.
Toast in an oven set to 350 degrees for 10 mins, turning once during baking.

SLice in half and take out the seed. Grill over medium heat until soft. Drizzle with honey and cook another couple minutes.

Serve Ice Cream over Grilled Peaches and crumble some buttered pecans over the top.

Beautiful People:

EM brought the BABY WEBER. Couldn't have done it without her.

Katelyn and Garrett

Ceriah, Cutest ever.

"Hey why don't you just come inside and take the picture?"

Oh yeah one more note, did I mention this was all done on the fly with little to ZERO planning?
Yeah. Go us.

This is what Gemma says about the whole thing....

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Gettin' Boozy with Homemade Vanilla Extract

So it's a thing.
Make your own Vanilla Extract.
Nothing is more simple... Or as lazy....

First get your beans.
Then pick your poison. (Alcohol)
Grab a jar.
Stick it in a cabinet.
Shake it every once and a whoodle for 6 weeks.


I used three different types of Alcohol with the Mexican Vanilla Beans I ordered off of Amazon.com
  • Rum
  • Bourbon Whisky
  • Vodka
Vodka is what is typically used if you don't want any other flavor with your vanilla bean. My favorite is the Rum. It gives a delicious flavor to all my bakes.

The ratio:
1/2 Pint alcohol to per 4 vanilla beans

I recommend ordering the vanilla beans in bulk because if you plan on going to whole foods and buying that overpriced bean in that fancy jar, you'd be better off buying their extract as well because you are going to turn yourself bankrupt.... I ordered 12 beans for 10 dollars!

Slice your beans down the center and scrape out all the little seeds. Shovel them into your jar along with your alcohol and the whole bean. Screw the lid on tight and store in a dark place for 6 weeks. Give it a good shake whenever you remember...

As for these classic amber bottles, I ordered them on http://www.specialtybottle.com/.
Unfortunately you will pay more for shipping than the bottles themselves....

Makes a great gift too!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

So close I can taste it.

Wowza How time flies.
It seems like only yesterday that I was dressed in my black leo with tights UNDER my leotard ;) Already it has been 5 seasons with the Houston Ballet. In words and numbers it seems like a long time but in spirit I feel just the same. The ballet world is like a time warp. You feel just as young as you did when you joined the company. It is like time stops in the world of sugar plums and nymphs but in the real world everything is flying by. The only thing reminding me of time is my body. It yells in the form of pain or sickness, "Hey, I'm aging with time" and "I NEED REST" It isn't until warnings like this that I stop and take a second to breath. Sometimes we are forced to stop by certain sicknesses or injuries. It's our bodies way of telling us to slow down. I can tell by my body that it is the end of the season. I've been sick way more often than I should in the past couple months and I cannot wait to give my body a well deserved rest and rejuvenation. This year I am not gallivanting around Europe or anything crazy. I am spending the summer with my family in beautiful Idaho. It is my dad's big "five-o" and I can't wait to spend it golfing, fishing, hiking and being goofy with him! I also can't wait to get my hands dirty in my moms beautiful garden. One thing will be different at home. My dog won't be there. It's one more thing that has flown by me that maybe I didn't take as reality. Something that doesn't seem real because it has never had to be real. I wasn't there, I just was told. Does that make it real? It's hard to believe it until you are there. She was the best dog in the world. I am going to miss her so much. It seems like yesterday that I put that blog up of her eating the carrots out of the garden. We made my great grandma Billy's Carrot Cookies from carrots out of the garden. Sandee's favorite thing in the whole world was a carrot.

Just to get me excited about garden fresh cooking and baking I asked my mom to send me pictures of the crumble she made out of homegrown Rhubarb. We were at central market one day while she was visiting, sampling all their delicious treats. One of them was this great crumble made with Texas blueberries and Texas peaches. It was YUMMMMMY. So when she got home she made it with her very own homegrown Rhubarb and blueberries. Here is how it turned out!

Homegrown Rhubarb

Crumbles are super simple and incredibly versatile. Use whatever fruit is in season and it will ALWAYS turn out delicious. The woman at Central recommends it will a DOUBLE CRUMBLE topping.... DUH!!! Who doesn't love a double crumble?!