Monday, May 30, 2011

Star-Spangled Berry Lemon Cheesecake

Like most of America, I celebrated Memorial Day at a family cookout. When I was deciding what to bring, I knew I wanted something light, seeing that summer has come early this year, and something festive! I can never go wrong with a cheesecake, so I went with lemon cheesecake which is nice and fresh and topped it with fresh berries and homemade whipped cream. I use condensed milk in all my cheesecake recipes because it always comes out nice and creamy. I remember my mom making a flag cake for the forth of July, and it always looked so fun! That wouldn't work on my sphere canvas, so i did some research and found this star design on the Taste of Home website and assembled it with the fresh berries. The lemon flavor matched perfectly with the sweet cream and fresh berries.

In the spirit of Memorial Day, I'd like to honor my Avo (grandfather in Portuguese). In November of 2007, at 87, he passed away after a long battle with colon cancer. He is deeply missed by all of us and will forever live in our memories. He was such a kind man that was extremely proud of his grandchildren. My Avo never learned English. And although I'm not fluent in Portuguese, we never had a problem communicating. You'd be amazed how far a smile or a laugh can go.

My Avo and my brother Wes, Christmas 2005

Star-Spangled Berry Lemon Cheesecake
 recipe by Sabrina W. for eat.drink.and be merry.
yields 10 to 12 servings
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
3 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
3 large eggs
zest from 2 lemons
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 cup blueberries
1 cup raspberries
4 strawberries

Heat oven to 300°F. Combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter in medium bowl; press firmly onto bottom of 9-inch springform pan.

Beat cream cheese in large bowl with electric mixer until fluffy. Add sweetened condensed milk at low speed; mix until smooth. Add eggs, lemon zestl and 2 teaspoons vanilla; mix just until blended. Pour filling into pan. Bake 50 to 55 minutes or until center is set. Cool and then chill in the fridge.

In a large bowl, add whipping cream, sugar, and last teaspoon of vanilla. Whip with an electric mixer until peaks form. Fill pastry bag with a small tip with whip cream, and draw a big star on the top of your cooled cheesecake, making sure to leave a 1/2 inch of the cake to fit a border. Fill in the star with cream, and top with berries. Pipe a small border and cover with berries as well, and the fill in the spaces with the rest of the cream. Enjoy!

Happy Memorial Day Everyone!

Linked with Sweets for a Saturday

9-11 Remembrance –

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Roast Beef and Endive Salad

I saw this salad in my Food Network magazine a couple months ago. I love these types of salads. They are super quick, just a stop at the deli, a quick chop and you're good to go!

This was my first experience with endive. So I was excited to try it! For those of you who are new to endive too, here's a little info courtesy of wikipedia. Endive is prounounced "on-deev" and is a pale yellow green leafy vegetable from the daisy family. It has a somewhat bitter taste and needed the dressing. There are 2 main varieties, frisee, which is curly, and escarole, which is less bitter. It is a good source of fiber and minerals such as folate, and vitamins A and K.

I altered this recipe a little bit. The original called for a homemade shallot and dijon mustard vinaigrette with chopped walnuts. Which sounds delicious, but I decided to skip the vinaigrette and use something prepared to make it quicker.

This salad is a perfect summer side dish to juicy burger or grilled chicken sandwich.

Roast Beef and Endive Salad
original recipe by Food Network Magazine
adapted recipe by Sabrina W. for eat.drink.and be merry.
yields 4 servings
3/4 pound thick-cut deli roast beef, fat trimmed
1/4 pound gruyere cheese
5 heads endive
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup chopped bread and butter pickles
Bolthouse farms caesar parmigiano yogurt dressing

Stack the roast beef slices and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide strips. Cut the cheese into little bite sized cubes. Slice each head of endive lengthwise into 6 spears. Tossed together, drizzle with dressing, and sprinkle with salt & pepper.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Chocolate, Peanut Butter, & Banana Protein Smoothie

While in SC, we visited Boardwalk Coffeehouse where I tried their "Super Monkey" Smoothie. Chocolate. Banana. Peanut Butter. YES PLEASE! It was sooo good and soo refreshing on those hot days where you don't want to fill up on a big lunch or breakfast.

But this will definitely fill you up! So its excellent for a quick breakfast or lunch! I've been drinking them after I work out. It's kind of like my reward and knowing that I will be making one when I get home pushes me though my workout! (yes its that good haha!)

Chocolate, Peanut Butter, & Banana Protein Smoothie
recipe by Sabrina W. for eat.drink.and be merry.
yields 1 serving
5 to 6 ice cubes
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 ripe banana
1 heaping tablespoon smooth peanut butter
1 scoop chocolate protein powder
1/2 cup chocolate almond milk or chocolate soy milk

Blend all ingredients in a blend until smooth. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Sweet Potato Biscuits

It doesn't get more Southern than this! Here is the final recipe I'll be posting (for now) from Martha's book, Screen Doors and Sweet Tea. I hope you've enjoyed her recipes as much as I have. I have had so much fun working with new ingredients and flavors! and I'm thrilled to read that many of you will be trying them as well! I definitely think this book is a must buy, seeing there are tons of more recipes that look absolutely delightful!

Here is a recap of the recipes I've tried and shared with you this past week:

This recipe is perfect for when you have left over sweet potatoes! I whipped these up while I was cooking dinner the other night and they came together so fast. They are made with ingredients you most likely already have in your pantry so there is no excuse not to try them! I can't wait to eat them for breakfast tomorrow morning, topped with wilted spinach and a poached egg! Martha suggests to enjoy them with your favorite jelly or jam. I think they would also be great with some cinnamon and sugar flavored butter!

Sweet Potato Biscuits
recipe by Martha Hall Foose for Screen Doors and Sweet Tea
photo by Sabrina W. for eat.drink.and be merry.
yields 12 biscuits
1 cup mashed baked sweet potato (about 2 medium)
2/3 cups whole milk
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Grease a baking sheet and set aside. In a medium bowl, mix the sweet potato, milk, and butter. Sift together the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Add to the potato mixture to form a soft dough. Drop the dough by tablespoonfuls onto the preparen baking sheet.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until a deep golden orange tinged with brown. Serve warm or let cool on a wire rack.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Apricot Rice Salad

Day 4 of Southern Cooking!

While on vacation in South Carolina, we visited Brookgreen Gardens which is a historic rice plantation turned into an outdoor garden museuem. It is a must see if your visiting the area! The scenary is absolutely breath taking! We took a narrated cruise along the creek that runs through a preserved rice field. At the gift shop, I was able to pick up a sack of Carolina Aromatic Rice from the same rice fields we cruised along.

When I saw Martha Hall Foose's recipe for Apricot Rice Salad, I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to try my rice. Martha uses basmati rice in her recipe. She also serves this salad at room temperature or chilled. I couldn't wait so I ate mine warm, but I love the idea of a cold rice salad. It would be perfect for a summer cookout!

Apricot Rice Salad
recipe by Martha Hall Foose for Screen Doors and Sweet Tea
photos by Sabrina W. for eat.drink.and be merry.
Serves 6-8
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 green cardamom pod, crushed
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red onion
1 1/2 cups Basmati rice, rinsed thoroughly
1 inch piece cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup diced dried apricots
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup dried cherries or cranberries
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 green onions, white and green parts, thinly sliced on the diagonal

In a 10 inch ovenproof pan with a tight-fitting lid, briefly heat the cumin, coriander, and cardamom over medium heat to toast, shaking the pan to prevent scorching. When the spices are fragrant, remove them from the pan and let cool. Grind the cumin and coriander finely with a mortal and pestle or in a spice grinder.

Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the same pan and heat over medium high heat; add the onion, cooking a stirring occasionally for 4 to 6 minutes or until the onion is tender. Reduce the heat, and add the rice, spices, cinnamon stick, and bay leaf. Cook and stir until the rice is golden and each grain is coated in oil. Remove the bay leaf and cinnamon stick and mix in the dates, apricots, raisins, & cherries.

Add 1 cup of the orange juice, 1 1/2 cups water, and the salt, stirring briefly, just to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat; reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the rice is tender and has absorbed the liquid.

Using a large fork to fluff up the rice and fruit mixture, turn it into a serving dish, drizzle with remaining olive oil and 1 tablespoon orange juice, and combine using the fork. Allow to cool, covered by a clean dish towel, then serve at room temperature or chilled, sprinkled with green onion across the top.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Darkness on the Delta

Decadent doesn't even begin to describe this dessert! I was obviously attracted to it's title, and the delicious richness of it's chocolate-y photo. Even better, this is a no bake dessert that you can make ahead and keep in the freezer, and served cooled, which is perfect for a steamy summer night. If you are looking to impress guests at a dinner party or if your just looking to completely indulge on your own this recipe will not let you down!

This dessert tastes like a creamy piece of fudge or chocolate truffle. It is soooo good. I hope my pictures do it justice. I expected it to be good, but I didn't expect it to be this freaking good!  I can see adding a crunchy and creamy layer to it to make a torte, but believe me it is beautifully delicious all on its own.

For those who are wondering, Martha's title for this dessert was derived from the popular song "Darkness on the Delta" that was the theme song for Willie Morris's radio show in Yazoo City, Mississippi.

Darkness on the Delta: Cool Bittersweet Dessert
recipe by Martha Hall Foose for Screen Doors and Sweet Tea
photo by Sabrina W. for eat.drink.and be merry.
yields 8 servings
7 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2/3 cup whole milk
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
freshly grated nutmeg
1 large egg yolk
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon Bourbon
unsweetened cocoa powder, for serving
confectioners' sugar, for serving

Put the chocolate in a large bowl and set aside.

In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the milk, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, and a little nutmeg to a simmer. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and remaining 1 tablespoon granulated sugar. Slowly whisk in half of the milk mixture. Return the entire mixture to the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly until it thickens, about 5 minutes. Do not boil.

Pour the hot mixture over the chopped chocolate. Let sit for 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the butter a little at a time, and then add the vanilla and whiskey. Whisk until the mixture is very smooth.

Spray a 6 inch cake pan with nonstick spray, and line with plastic wrap. Scrape the mixture into the pan and smooth with a spatula. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 6 hours.

When ready to serve, invert the cake onto a serving plate and remove the plastic wrap. Dust with cocoa and powedered sugar.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Blue Cheese Pecan Bread

There is nothing better than the smell of bread baking in your oven. There is just something about it that brings you home. I love a nice,crusty bread, especially when its freshly baked and nice and warm!  I dont think there is anyone that would disagree here. When I saw this recipe with blue cheese and pecans, I was in heaven!

What I don't like about bread is the time it can take; endless kneading, waiting for it to rise, long bake times and not being able to open the oven door to check on it. Bread is high maintenance!

This is not one of those breads! It was sooo easy and absolutely delicious! It reminded me of a beer bread with a crusty outside, and sweet and moist inside. The crunch of the pecans and sharpness of the cheese took this bread to another level! Martha suggests to serve with a cheese platter, some red grapes, sliced apples, and a glass of white wine. How great does that sound! It also would make a wonderful gift paired with a bottle of wine.

Blue Cheese Pecan Bread
recipe by Martha Hall Foose for Screen Doors and Sweet Tea
photo by Sabrina W. for eat.drink.and be merry.
makes 1 8 inch round loaf
4 cups unbleached-all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces, chilled
2 ounces blue cheese, crumbled (1/2 cup)
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon buttermilk
1 large egg, beaten
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the butter until mixture looks like oatmeal. Add the cheese and nuts, and toss to distribute the flour. Make a well in the center and add the 1 1/2 cups of buttermilk and the egg. Stir with a sturdy spoon until you have a shaggy dough.

Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently to bring together. Form into a slightly flattened 6 inch round. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush with the remaining buttermilk and sprinkle with pepper. With a serrated knife, cut a shallow X in the top of the loaf.

Bake 10 minutes on 400 degrees. Then reduce the oven to 375 degrees and bake for 35 minutes. Cool on wire rack. You may need to tent with foil, if the loaf begins to brown to quickly.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Cornbread-Crusted White Chili

Day 2 of Southern cooking!

When I saw this recipe, I first thought I should probably save it for the weekend because it didn't look like something I could quickly whip up after work. After I read the recipe and began cooking, I was very surprised to find it was ready in 40 minutes! The recipe says to bake for 40 minutes, but I think my oven generally runs hotter than most.  My cornbread crust was perfectly golden in 30 minutes.

This was the first time I've cooked with hominy. I didn't even know what it was until now. Hominy is corn kernels that have been treated to remove the hulls. Grits are made from ground hominy and they come white or yellow.

The chili was amazing! It did have the quite the kick but the sweet cornbread crust offset some of the heat. I LOVE that there is cornbread on the top and bottom of the chili! If you don't like too much heat, I would just substitute monterey jack or white cheddar cheese for the jalapeno jack cheese.

Cornbread-Crusted White Chili
recipe by Martha Hall Foose for Screen Doors and Sweet Tea
photo by Sabrina W. for eat.drink.and be merry.
yields 8 servings
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 8 oz can creamed orn
1/2 cup whole milk
1 large egg, beaten
3 cups diced cooked chicken
1 small white onion. chopped
2 11oz cans tomatillos, rinsed, drained, and chopped, or 1 1/2 cups diced hulled fresh tomatillos
2 4.5oz cans green chilies, rinsed, drained, and chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 15oz can hominy, rinsed and drained
1 cup sour cream, plus extra for serving
1 cup shredded jalapeno jack cheese
cilantro, for garnish

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Make a well in the center and add the creamed corn, milk, and egg. Whisk together just until moistened. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the chicken, onion, tomatillos, green chilies, cumin, garlic, hominy, sour cream, and 1/2 tespoon salt.

Grease a 8x8 or 9x9 casserole dish, or cast iron skillet, and spoon half of the cornbread mixture and spread to an even, thin layer. Sprinkle with half of the cheese. Spoon the chicken mixture over the cornbread layer in the skillet. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Spoon the remaining cornbread mixture over the top and spread to an even layer. I used my fingers to spread out the mixture to make life easier.

Bake for 40 minutes, or until the crust is deep golden brown. I started to see it brown pretty early on so I ended up covering it with foil and removing it for the last couple of minutes. Allow to cool and settle for 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with additional sour cream and cilantro, if desired.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Watermelon Salsa

Here it is! My first recipe since vacation and also the first Southern recipe I've attempted from Martha Foose's cookbook, Screen Doors and Sweet Tea. I cannot stop flipping through this cookbook! There are post its marked on every other page! This is definitely a cookbook to add to your collection!

When I first saw her recipe for Watermelon Salsa, I knew I would be most definitely trying it! It is so very simple to throw together and perfect to bring to a summer cookout! It is so refreshing, and I love the sweetness of the melons paired with the little kicks of the diced jalapeno. I served mine with blue tortilla chips. The bright colors of the salsa and the dark blue chips draw your eyes right over to it! Martha suggests in book, to use the salsa for more than just a snack or appetizer, and to serve it over catfish, or with rice and black beans, or with a side of guacamole. I took her advice and served it over grilled lemon pepper chicken with black beans and rice for dinner one night. It was so good!

Watermelon Salsa
recipe by Martha Hall Foose for Screen Doors and Sweet Tea
Photo by Sabrina W. for eat.drink.and be merry.
Serves 8 to 10
4 cups diced, seeded watermelon cubes
1 cup diced cantaloupe cubes
2 green onions, white and green parts, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon raw sugar
1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon chopped basil
grated zest and juice of 1 lime

In a large bowl, combine the watermelon, cantaloupe, onions, jalapeno, salt, sugar, chile powder, cilantro, basil, and lime zest and juice. Chill for 30 minutes before serving.


Friday, May 13, 2011

I'm Back!....

...and I have fallen in love with the South!

Eric and I took some time off from work to visit his parents new house in South Carolina. We were definitely due for some time away, and it was one of the most relaxing and laid back vacations I've had.

This wasn't my first time visiting South Carolina. My family vacationed in Myrtle Beach a few times when I was a kid. This time, I was able to experience South Carolina as a home, instead of a resort.

I have always been proud to be a New Englander. I equally love all four seasons, I love the patriotic history, I love how the beach and the mountains are the same distance from me, I love the cities of Boston and Providence, and of course I love the food!

But there is something about the south that is so peaceful, simple, and still. The confusion and hustle doesn't seem to exist. Up North, I feel like we are always worried about our next step and how fast we can get there, and yelling at anyone that gets in our way haha. We are not focusing on the task at hand, and therefore rushing through time.

Our time down South was so refreshing. The weather was perfect! and the people were unbelieveably nice! and unlike many vacations, I felt like we had all the time in the world. Eric's parents bought a house 15 minutes from Myrtle Beach. Their house is beautiful in a new development in the countryside. The roads to get there were lined with white fences, houses I would imagine Paula Deen living in, and giant oak tress covered in spanish moss. 

Eric and I on a creek cruise through a preserved rice plantation.

Trees with Spanish Moss

Ruby had a great time too!

Celebrating 30 Years of Marriage with Eric's Parents

I brought back with me a Southern cookbook, Screen Doors and Sweet Tea by Martha Hall Foose. I picked it up in this awesome kitchen store in the downtown area. I was drawn by it's charming title. The recipes and pictures are beautiful, traditional with a modern twist, and each are accompanied by a sweet short story. I can't wait to try her Watermelon Salsa, Cornbread Crusted White Chili, and Sweet Potato Biscuits. (Just to name a few) So this week I have decided to post recipes from Martha's cookbook so I can further explore the South and increase my knowledge of cooking Southern food.

Stay tuned.....!

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