Sunday, July 31, 2011

Grilled Caprese Bruschetta & My Week on Mt. Desert Island

This past week, my family and I stayed in a cabin in Mount Desert Island in Maine. I came to this part of Maine last summer and fell deeply in love with the area. Everything I could ever want is located on this quaint New England Island.

The Island is home to Acadia National Park, where you can hike, bike, kayak, and explore. Another favorite spot of mine is the downtown area of Bar Harbor, which has amazing restaurants, bakeries, and shops, right along the edge of the Atlantic.

We all know I love Maine and this is probably my favorite place in New England. The views are breathtaking! And it truly is a place you could run away too, even if only for a week!

With my Dad and Brother in Acadia National Park

View of the Sand Beach

Hiking with my hubby

Cori and I at Monument Cove

Another View of Monument Cove

Sunset at Cadillac Mountain

A rainy night calls for a Steak, Lobster, and Mussels dinner inside the cabin. My brother is definitely excited about it!

While on vacation, we ate very well at the local restaurants and over the campfire. One night, my brother's girlfriend, Cori and I,had a craving for bruschetta. I've made bruschetta many times before in the summer, but this time Cori had the wonderful idea of adding fresh mozzarella. Cori spent a semester in Italy (sooo jealous!) so she knows how to eat Italian, and her addition made this fabulous!

Grilled Caprese Bruschetta
recipe by Sabrina W. and Cori W.
serves 5 very hungry campers
6 to 8 ripe tomatoes, cored, seeded, and diced
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup fresh basil. chopped
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar or balsamic vinaigrette
sea salt to taste
pepper to taste
8 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced
1 baguette, sliced on an angle about 1 1/2 inches thick
1/4 cup olive oil

Toss diced tomatoes next 7 ingredients and set aside.

Brush bread slices with olive oil and grill on a gas grill or over your campfire. Watch carefully as they will toast up fast. Turn once to toast the other side and then assemble with a slice of mozzarella cheese and a tablespoon of bruschetta mix. Or assemble ingredients on a platter and let guests make their own. Use leftover bruschetta mix over pasta or on a salad.

While browsing through the many shops in Bar Harbor, I came across a cookbook I just had to have. It's kind of a tradition for me to pick up a local cookbook when I travel. This trip I picked up Dishing Up Maine by Brooke Dojny. This book not only had 165 wonderful recipes, but also has many beautiful pictures of the "Down East" area. Brooke offers traditional favorites with a contemporary flair. What I love most about the food culture in Maine is that is relies heavily on fresh local, and organic foods from seafood to vegetables. 

This week I will be cooking and posting some of Brooke's recipes from her book, just as I did after my trip to South Carolina. I am super excited to explore her book and learn more about the dishes and traditions of Maine.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Taking a Break

  I will be taking the next week off to spend with my family! :)
In the meantime, please feel free to browse my past recipes!
Looking forward to sharing new recipes when I return!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Pomegranate Glazed Chicken with Spinach and Mixed Berries

 I got the idea for this salad when I was looking through the produce department and spotted the perfect little assortment of mixed berries already prepared for me in a to go container. I love fruit in salads! Especially in the summer! I then had the idea to add chicken with a pomegranate glaze, just like I did for my Herb & Peach Glazed Chicken. And since I had some left over pecans in the freezer from the Green Beans with Candied Pecans and Bacon dish, I threw those in too, baking them with brown sugar and syrup first   of course! :)

I packed up the ingredients and took them over to my mom's place. I knew she would enjoy this salad just as much as me! I was so happy with the way it came out! The glaze had the perfect amount of sweetness to offset the candied pecans and berries, and the goat cheese helped to mix it up as well. I originally decided to dress this salad with balsamic vinaigrette, but then my mom suggested to dress it with the remaining pomegranate reduction and it was wonderful! You have to give this a try!
Pomegranate Chicken with Spinach and Mixed Berries
recipe by Sabrina W. for eat.drink.and be merry.
serves 4
4 boneless chicken breasts
1 1/2  cup pomegranate preserves
1 cup balsamic vinaigrette
5 oz baby spinach or 3 cups
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
1 cup pecans
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup agave and maple syrup blend (or just plain maple syrup)
1/2 pound mixed berries (blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries)
2 tablespoon fresh rosemary

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and coat with nonstick spray. Spread out the pecans and drizzle them with syrup and toss with brown sugar until they are all completely coated. Bake for 10 minutes, watching them carefully so they don't burn. Let them cool on the counter while you prepare the rest of the meal. Bring heat up to 350 degrees.

In an oven proof skillet over medium high heat, brown your chicken breasts on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Remove chicken and set aside. Lower heat to medium and add balsamic vinaigrette, pomegranate preserves, and rosemary. Let simmer and reduce for a 2 to 3 minutes. Add the chicken back into the skillet and coat with glaze. Cover and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until cooked through.

Arrange baby spinach, mixed berries, candied pecans, on 4 plates. Top with sliced chicken breast, goat cheese, and drizzle with the balsamic pomegranate reduction. Enjoy!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Antipasto Flatbread

I was looking to make a quick dinner the other night and still had quite a bit of ingredients leftover from my

I decided to make a couple small pizzas with Italian meats, provolone cheese, and other items I found in my fridge. For the crust, I used store-bought tandoori naan bread. They make the perfect individual pizza crusts.

Antipasto Flatbread
recipe by Sabrina W.
for eat.drink.and be merry.
serves 2
1 package tandoori naan bread (2 are in a package)
4 slices prosciutto, sliced into small strips
4 slices salami, sliced into small strips
3 slices provolone cheese, cut into small wedges
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1 small tomato, thinly sliced
olive oil
1/4 cup banana peppers
drizzle of deli dressing (or make your own with olive oil and italian seasonings)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Brush naan breads with olive oil and then top with tomato sauce.

Arrange toppings on your bread and drizzle with deli dressing. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes or until cheese is brown and bubbly.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Classic Italian Sub

or grinder as we like to call them in New England!

There is a small family-owned Italian restaurant called Ciao Bella and its located over on next block from my old job in the city. Amongst all their delicious Italian style dishes, the most impressive items on their menu were their grinders!

They were so huge! I remember the first time I ordered an Italian Grinder from them. I opened it up and saw a giant loaf of crusty Italian bread, stuffed with a generous helping of Italian meats, hots, and veggies. I remember thinking, "now that's a sandwich!" and then "how in the world am I going to fit this in my mouth?!".

Believe me, I managed to find a way!

Here is my version of their legendary Italian sandwiches. I kept it pretty traditional, but threw in a special spread I picked up from Rachel Ray. I saw her puree a jar of those marinated vegetables you can get in the international aisle at the store and spread it on a sandwich. I knew this was the perfect sandwich to try this out on!

Classic Italian Sub
recipe by Sabrina W. for eat.drink.and be merry. 
serves 2 to 4, depending on how hungry you are :)
1 large loaf of Italian Bread
1/4 lb of genoa salami
1/4 lb proscuitto
1/4 lb ham ( I used boars head rosemary ham)
1/4 lb provolone cheese
1/3 cup banana peppers
2 tomatoes, diced
1 jar marinaded vegetables
1/4 cup pickles (I used wickles because they are sweet and spicy)
mixed greens
2 tablespoons balsamic vinaigrette
deli dressing ( I used boars head deli dressing, but you could just add some Italian seasonings to extra virgin olive oil to make your own)
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

In a food processor, add marinated vegetables (remove stems of pepperoncinis if necessary) Add pickles, cheese, and a little olive oil and pulse until you form a spread. Chop tomatoes and drizzle with vinaigrette and let sit until ready to use. Slice bread lengthwise and spread vegetables across bottom layer. Top with salami, proscuitto, ham, cheese, and tomatoes. Add pepperonicinis and mixed greens and drizzle with deli dressing. Top with second layer and slice into 4 large pieces.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Green Beans with Candied Pecans and Bacon

This side dish is not meant to be healthy by any means, even though it appears to be a big bowl of green veggies.  I've always loved green beans, and usually I steam them and put them in abundantly nutritious salads like my Spinach Salad with Steamed Veggies, or my Lemon Pepper Chicken and Vegetable Salad.

Nope - not here; the soul purpose of this side dish is to be fancy and delicious! and indeed it is! I served these casually, alongside grilled steak tips one night, but they could be used to dress up any meal.

Green Beans with Candied Pecans and Bacon
recipe by Sabrina W. for eat.drink.and be merry.
yields 4 to 6 servings
1 lb green beans, washed and trimmed
1 1/2 cups whole pecans
3 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped ( I used applewood smoked from Trader Joe's)
1/3 cup agave and maple syrup blend (I found this at Trader Joe's, you could also use regular maple syrup)
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons balsamic vinaigrette 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and coat with nonstick spray. Spread out the pecans and drizzle them with syrup and toss with brown sugar until they are all completely coated. Bake for 10 minutes, watching them carefully so they don't burn.

Remove the pecans from the oven and let them cool for 10 minutes so they harden.

Steam green beans until they just start to get tender. You don't want to overcook them because they will cook more when tossed in the skillet.

In a skillet, saute chopped bacon on med to med-hi heat until they start to get crispy, about 5 minutes. Add the green beans, vinaigrette, and pecans and toss together. Remove from pan and serve. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

Caramel Apple Dip

This past week, one of my best friends Lisa came up to visit from Florida! Lisa and I met when we waitressed at a local family restaurant during college. She moved away to Florida about four years ago to follow her dream of becoming a teacher and living near the beach! Since then, we make every effort to see each other at least once a year! 

Lisa is probably one of the most easy-going and selfless person I know! She is like a breath of fresh air; always positive, always laughing, and always finding the good in people. Oh how I miss her!!!

Even though we don't get to spend as much time together as we used to, each reunion feels like we've never skipped a beat! They are just as fun, if not funner, then the times before and I love making new memories with her and our friend      Aly. You all met Aly a few months ago when I made her Orange Cupcakes. I seriously couldn't imagine my left without them! 

This past week we cooked out at Aly's place, had lunch at the lake, had a sleepover at my place, and walked along the streets of Newport, RI. Aly introduced us to a fabulous market in Worcester, MA called Ed Hyder's Mediterranean Marketplace. Their store is full of all kinds of Mediterranean specialties. We picked up two bags of goodies for our cookout including marinated beef, lamb, and chicken kebobs, homemade hummus and tabbouleh, a tomato and feta orzo salad, and an assortment of olives.

What we didn't pick up was dessert, so Lisa offered to make her Caramel Apple Dip! Let me tell you her dip was fantastic! It tastes just like a caramel apple! Thank god it is served with apples, seeing we ate soooo much of it!

Caramel Apple Dip
recipe from Lisa G.
serves 8 to 10 people
1 8oz package cream cheese, softened
3/4 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 package toffee chips
5 apples, we used granny smith 
lemon juice

Beat cream cheese, sugars, and vanilla together with an electric mixer. Fold in toffee bits and refrigerate until ready to serve. Slice apples and toss with a sprinkle of lemon juice to prevent browning.

always having a good time...always!

Lisa and I at my wedding! Her speech made us all cry!

getting ready for Aly's wedding :)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Food Adventure: Portland, Maine

OK so I know I haven't shared a Food Adventure with you in a while! When I first started this blog, it was my goal to share at least one a month. Unfortunately my crazy, busy, life has so much going on in it, I've found myself pretty off target. So when I received an email advertising a food tour in Maine, I knew I had to be there!

This past weekend, with my two partners in crime, we set off to Portland, Maine to take a Culinary Walking Tour of the Old Port area. Not only did we get to learn the history of Portland and visit many of its culinary venues; we also got to sample local favorites at each location! It was such an amazing and educational experience, and our tour guide, Pat, was absolutely amazing. I could've just followed her around that city all day listening to her every word. She was extremely knowledgeable and has a deep passion for food. annnd she is from Central Mass, like me!!

 I have always loved Maine. It is such a beautiful state to runaway to. It is simple and relaxed and it has so much to offer. The city of Portland is known for it's chefs, bakeries, and breweries and for the abundance of local resources; including organic produce, dairy products, and seafood. As you walk the streets, there are beautiful shops, farmer's markets, fish markets, bakeries, restaurants, live bands, and much much more. I plan to runaway to Maine someday! :)

Our first stop on the tour was the Old Port Wine Shop, where Pat introduced us to a few local Maine wines. My favorite was the Honeymaker Dry Hopped Mead, which is a white wine that is made with 100% wildflower honey, harvested in Maine and is aged with whole leaf hops. It has a wonderful taste and the hops make it extemely unique. Maine Mead Works has a whole line including a Blueberry Mead and Lavender Mead. I ended up buying a bottle of the Dry Hopped and Lavender.

We sampled the Dry Hopped Mead at the shop next door called Vervacious.

Vervacious is a family-owned store that sells high-quality balsamics, sauces, spices, and preserves. The store is absolutely GORGEOUS! You walk in a you feel like you are in a NYC loft. Everything is so trendy and unique, including their bottles and jars which are designed to stack on top of each other and to  sit side by side.

This was my happy place. If you read my recipes, you know how much I love balsamic! 

Along with the Dry Hopped Mead, we got to sample fresh pineapple dipped in their espresso balsamic and chocolate balsamic. It was heavenly! We also got to try their Star Anise Salt sprinkled on fresh cantaloupe, and their Harissa Spiced Hot Mustard, which was tossed with fresh maine lobster and served on a cracker. 

 I came home with a bottle of their Spiced Balsamic Reduction, which is made with a tellicherry black pepper. The flavor is woodsy and sweet but then the pepper gives you a pop at the end. I can't see this bottle lasting me very long!

We then headed over to K. Horton Specialty Foods, a small farmers market to sample a variety of native cheese. My favorite was the garlic and herb goat cheese. I don't think I've tried a creamier cheese!

Next stop was Stonewall Kitchen. Who doesn't love Stonewall Kitchen??? Stonewall originated in Maine. Here we tried warm and flaky scones with Wild Maine Blueberry Jam. They were seriously to die for! I love their products! They also have the best gift baskets and gift sets that you can order online. That day I came home with their Fig and Walnut Butter and my mom bought their Pumpkin Caramel Sauce.

Next on our list was the Harbor Fish Market. This place is another reason why I'd love to runaway to Maine. Their variety of fresh lobsters and seafood was unbelievable. They also have a vast selection of smoked seafood, chowders, and other "temptations" as they like to call them. We got to sample smoked trout during our visit, which is something I wouldn't be apt to try on my own. My mom definitely turned her nose at it, especially after hearing it was prepared with a broth made from miscellaneous fish parts haha, but we were glad we gave it a try. It was fabulous! and nice and smoky! I could have eaten the entire plate.

Next on our adventure, we stopped at Dean's Sweets to sample some wonderful chocolate truffles! What makes these truffles so special is that they are actually made with Aroostook County potatoes. Pat explained that in the 1800's farmers found that Maine hosted the perfect soil and climate conditions to grow potatoes. Although the market for Maine potatoes has declined since then, Maine foodies have kept their potato resource alive by using them in different ways, including in dark chocolate truffles! After sampling some of their truffles, including a chocolate, maple, and cayenne pepper, you would never know they were made with potatoes!

Next we headed over towards Two Fat Cats Bakery, which is home to Maine's original whoopie pie! The bakery is gorgeous and was actually featured on the Food Network and TLC! The whoopie pies were amazing and probably my favorite part of the tour! My mom has a great recipe for whoopie pies and they are pretty similar. We've already decided it's been way to long since she's made a batch, so when she does, I will definitely share them with you! :)

We concluded our tour at Shipyard Brewery where we got to sample a variety of local beers and learn a little history about the company. Then we headed off to grab some lunch. (yes even after all that, we still managed to fit more of Portland's goodness into us!) We ate at The Farmer's Table, which is the cutest little bistro. They serve all local and organic dishes. We were there for brunch so I enjoyed a wonderful hash made with sweet potatoes, onions, and beef brisket, slow cooked in beer. It was topped with two poached eggs and hollandaise sauce. My mom had a gorgeous salmon salad, and Eric had eggs, bacon, and toast (real adventurous!) 

In his happy place

We had a wonderful time exploring Portland, Maine and will return in the near future. I highly recommend this tour if you are visiting. Not only is it educational but it gives you and introduction to the area that will help you plan the rest of your stay!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Parmesan Orzo with Asparagus

Here is another perfect side dish to go along with your summer grilling recipes! We enjoyed this dish with some marinated chicken kebobs. It was quick and easy and done in 15 minutes!

Parmesan Orzo with Asparagus
recipe by Sabrina W. for eat.drink.and be merry.
yields 4 to 6 servings
1/2 lb orzo pasta
2 cups asparagus, cut into 2 inch pieces
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
zest of one lemon
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup pasta water
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt & pepper

Cook orzo according to package instructions. Drain pasta, reserving 1/4 of the starchy pasta water. 

Bring a small pan of water to a boil. Cook asparagus for 3 to 4 minutes. While cooking, prepare an ice bath is a small bowl to dump asparagus into when done. This will stop the cooking of the asparagus and keep them a bright green.

Toss Orzo with asparagus, cheese, pasta water, lemon zest, garlic, salt, and pepper. Serve immediately.

Linked with Yummy Mummy Summer Link Party

Monday, July 4, 2011

Sweet Potato Hummus

When I bought the Powerfoods cookbook I knew that this would be a recipe I would need to try! I love hummus and sweet potatoes, so this is right up my alley :)

This is such a healthy snack option! Serve with some pita chips or fresh vegetables and you have the perfect alternative to those creamy and cheesy dips we love so much.

This recipe makes quite a bit, so I think I'll be using the rest later in the week in a veggie wrap.

Sweet Potato Hummus
recipe from the Powerfoods Cookbook
yields 4 cups
1 lb sweet potatoes (about 2), peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 can (15 oz) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup lemon juice, from 1 to 2 lemons
1/4 cup tahini
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon hot or smoked paprika for garnish

Fill a large pot with 2 inches of water; set a steamer basket (or colander) inside the pot, and bring water to a boil. Add potatoes, reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until potatoes are tender. About 10 to 12 minutes.

Transfer potatoes to a food processor. Add chickpeas, lemon juice, tahini, oil, cumin, and garlic. Puree until smooth, about 1 minute; thin with up to 2 tablespoons of water if necessary. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and season with pepper. Let cool; refrigerate for up to 1 week in an airtight container. Garnish with paprika before serving.

Linked with Yummy Mummy Link Party


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