Category Archives: Fruit

Best Fruit Forward

We had a fruit-tastic evening here at Casa de Kealey last night! I have been in heartburn hades because of el kiddo and the one thing I keep seeing to quell said heartburn is watermelon. Now, I’m not the biggest watermelon fan – my Dad is currently shaking his head in shame – but I was willing to give this delightful looking Watermelon Gazpacho from Bon Appetit a try and then, because I have cravings like a mad woman, their Pasta Salad with Melon, Pancetta and Ricotta Salata looked YUMMY! And it was!

To keep things a little more healthy I chose to use whole wheat orecchiette and low-fat feta (since I’m using feta in a dish later this week). Let me tell you, these two changes will not change the flavor of the dish which was awesome and very delightful even the next day. I’ve always been a huge fan of the prosciutto/melon combo and to put it in a pasta? Brilliant. Now to the Watermelon Gazpacho! I slurped this you guys. I took one spoonful and then exclaimed “that’s SO GOOD” and then proceeded to down the bowl. I followed this recipe to a T, even the basil syrup part which is just too fun to say and it makes you sound like a kitchen badass…”oh this?” you might say “it’s just a little basil syrup.” Sounds fancy but it was really easy and I wish I would have doubled this for leftovers today. I will make more this week and keep it on reserve for those undesirable heartburn moments. Really, the heartburn is quite a thing isn’t it mamas? Oh, one thing I did add was a dollop (ick, I hate that word, weird I know) of sour cream and some fresh chives at the end to you know, kill off any hopes of stopping my heartburn.

Pasta Salad with Melon, Pancetta, and Ricotta Salata:

Watermelon Gazpacho:

Pantry Party!

Typically through my menu planning process, I go through pretty much everything I purchase if not in the first week, then definitely in the next. But there are those rare occasions were the beckoning of a Polvo’s Crackerita is too strong or I’m just too darned tired to cook after baking in the kitchen. I decided to check my pantry for these rare occasion relics that might be lurking in my pantry and found cream of mushroom soup, piquillo peppers in a jar and canned whole cranberries. As I sat trying to remember what recipes these ingredients were for originally, I started researching some new fun ones to try and voila lambs, I found two!

Bobby Flay’s Loin of Lamb Marinated in Merlot, Garlic and Parsley with Piquillo Pesto. Now I didn’t change much except for, well, the main protein. We are on a tight budget after all the wedding festivities so I turned to my most favorite, cost-effective cut of meat – flank steak. It’s juicy, flavorful and worked beautifully with this marinade. Talk about simple and quick. I marinated the steak, made the pesto (in our new food processor, yippee!!) and then when David got home, I threw the steak on the grill and bam dinner was done. I turned this into a small salad with arugula, bleu cheese, halved cherry tomatoes and then placed the steak on the greens and drizzled the pesto on top. I also had enough pesto the next day to make David a snack with pita chips. Am I getting good wife points yet?

Moving on to the cranberries. I found this Jack Quesadillas with Cranberry Salsa from Cooking Light…yum! Keep this one in mind for the upcoming Thanksgiving holidays for sure. Although I substituted

Jack Quesadillas with Cranberry Salsa (Photo by Randy Mayor)

rotisserie chicken for turkey, what really makes it is the salsa. I can see canning this and giving it as pretty holiday gifts or it would even be great over some baked brie or on an old shoe, seriously it’s really good. I made extra and now we both have quesadillas and cranberry salsa for lunch today. YAY!

Now, what the heck am I going to do with that Cream of Mushroom soup?

Top Scallop

So we got all sorts of fancy over here at Casa Kealey – I made a gastrique!  This Scallops with Blood Orange Gastrique  from Bon Appetit just sounds fancy but honestly, it really wasn’t. This turned out to be a beautifully balanced scallop dish that was super elegant to serve but not hard to make. Totally a Top Scallop in my book.

Back in my food PR days I use to work with Sunkist, and as you can imagine I really got to know my citrus. I’ve always loved citrus, but through this experience I was introduced to new and delicious varieties that I had never encountered such as a  pummelo and the lovely  moro (aka blood) orange. Check out their citrus flavor wheel to learn about the different varieties available.

So what drew me to the moro orange? First, the color. You eat with your eyes and the interior color and juice of a moro is so eye appealing. Second, the flavor of course. It has a tart but slightly sweet taste so it’s versatile in sweet and savory dishes. I love making a simple moro orange salsa and serving it over roasted pork tenderloin. Drool.

Moro (Blood) Oranges From Our Kitchen!

The gastrique for this scallops dish was the most intimidating part. I’ve never made one and was a little nervous I would totally muck it up. Poodles, follow the directions on this and you will nail it! I followed every time and visual cue to ensure success and it totally worked! The rest of the meal came together in a flash and I followed their instructions to ensure you get a beautiful  caramelized scallop:  “Rinse it, pat it dry with a paper towel—and then get your pan really hot.”.

I found my blood oranges at Whole Foods Market and they are in season until about mid-April. I dare y’all to give this a try. Ooooooh, this would be beautiful to serve for Valentine’s Day! No onions or garlic. A beautiful deep red sauce on the sweet scallops and it’s filling without being too overbearing so you can keep on with your evening. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge. 😉

Mark Bittman Strikes Again…

Last month I featured this delicious recipe by Mark Bittman featured in Cooking Light and now he is in the January issue of Bon Appetit for healthy breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert and even snack recipes. Before I dive into the recipe I tested, a few tips he shares on maintaining weight definitely struck a chord with me. The abbreviated version:

(1) Go (Mostly) Vegan: From the time I wake up until dinner I eat (almost) like a vegan.

(2) Minimize the Meat: Dinner is not heavy but omnivorous. It has more vegetables and grains than the typical American diet. I eat meat or fish many nights, but in smaller amounts than my former life.

(3) Weigh it out: I watch my weight. At what level weight becomes an indicator of health is debatable, but as an indicator of whether you’re eating too much, it’s perfect.

(4) Cut youself some slack: No individual meal matters. No individual day matters. Even a “bad” week doesn’t matter much…What does matter is that the pattern of my diets has moved from one that’s heavy on animal products and processed foods to one that’s dominated by unprocessed plant food.

(5) Make it your own: These rules are mine. Regard them as guidelines to create your own rules.

I liked his rules for a lot of reasons. Coming from a family that has a bad history of  type II diabetes and heart disease, I’ve always made it a point to watch what I eat. I’m not too strict on myself but do try to keep my balance of processed foods, meats and cheese to a minimum and load up on fruits and veggies. Or so I thought. David pointed out last night that a few of the categories that you see to your right with the most posts is bacon is always awesome, cheesy cheese, beefy mcbeefy and pork-a-licious. But on the flip side my dose of veggies is high too. I’m going to try and cut back on the bacon/meat intake just a bit and see if I can get my dose of veggies, fruit and uber healthy categories up in 2011.

Now to help me with that is Mark’s Spiced Coconut Pancakes with Tropical Fruit. First this is super duper simple and makes a boatload of batter. I smell a brunch option!  Second, these gentle little whole wheat pancakes don’t skimp on flavor one bit. With the coconut, nutmeg, allspice, coconut milk and maple syrup it is a decadent little pancake without the guilt. Plus with the added benefit of fresh mango, pineapple and banana, it’s a perfect sweet start to your day.  Plus it’s very filling to get you through your busiest of mornings. I saved the batter and some of the salad for this morning and we’ve enjoyed this two days in a row.  I think kids of all ages would love this dish, maybe with a side of bacon too? 😉

Spiced Coconut Pancakes with Tropical Fruit (Photo by Marcus Nilsson)

My (Sticky) Date with Dates

Every month Bon Appetit does an At the Market section highlighting a particular piece of produce or food item, in this case dates, that are at the peak of its season. One recipe that jumped off the page was the Braised Chicken with Dates and Moroccan Spices. Isn’t she a beaut?

Braised Chicken with Dates and Moroccan Spices (Photograph by Kiyoshi Togashi)

LOVE is the first word that comes to mind when I think about this dish. Holy smokes, I’m like Celine Dion pounding my chest saying “lurrrrvvee” loud and proud. This was quite simple to put together and the spices, oh my the spices, made this sauce absolutely incredible. The chicken was fall off the bone perfection. I loved the shallots, dates, cilantro and crunchy almonds. This was my first time actually cooking with dates and let me tell you those are sticky little suckers when I was pitting and cutting them but well worth it because it was an awesome addition to the dish.

I served this with mashed sweet potatoes and shazam, dinner was served. For the lurve people do not pass go, do not collect $200 just go to the store, get the ingredients and get home ASAP to make this. Hands down one of my favorites I’ve made on this blog.

I like to eat, eat, eat…

Apples! For those of you who don’t know where this is from, click here, but watch out you will be singing this Barney tune

We definitely had an apples and bananas night with our Peanut Butter Banana Bread and apples in every which way we could think of. There is a huge section on apples in the new Cooking Light and one recipe that sounded so intriguing was this Apple Sangria. Apples! Sangria! Couldn’t suck if you tried! Alas, this was awesome. It’s fun, fall-ish and a pretty cool twist on sangria. Make this at your next party, I think your guests will love it.

Apple Sangria (Photo by: Gentl & Hyers)

To keep up our fiber-consumption we also made this Spiced Pork Tenderloin with Sauteed Apples. I followed this recipe to the letter and it was so simple to put together and absolutely delicious. I loved every single bite.

Spiced Pork Tenderloin wtih Sauteed Apples (Photo by: John Autry)

If you want to start enjoying this chilly fall weather and all of the apples that are in season right now, I would highly recommend these two recipes. I like to ate, ate, ate…

Thai Beef Salad

A flavorful salad that’s done in about 20 minutes max? Sold to the Thai Beef Salad from Cooking Light! In a section all about shortcuts and fast recipes this one stood out to me. One, I heart fish sauce. Lambs, I know that’s a crazy thing to swoon over but I love the salty bite and unique flavor it lends to dishes. Maybe I should produce an “I Heart Fish Sauce” t-shirt? Anyone with me?

Thai Beef Salad (Photo by John Autry)

Two, the flavor combinations looked to die for with cilantro, cabbage, soy sauce, lime juice, honey, orange zest, serrano chile and mandarin oranges. Three, it’s a simple, hardly no-cook recipe that worked around our current kitchen status. We simply broiled the steaks in our Wolf microwave/convection oven to medium rare and made the rest of the salad while it cooked. The one thing that really stood out to me was the dressing. After making it in the food processor I gave it a taste and then did a little jig in our kitchen. Emily jig = really, really good.

Give this one a try for a super fast, delicious and healthy salad, and don’t skimp on the fish sauce.

No-Cook Meal Week!

I’m not going to lie, it is HOT here in Austin. Yeah, I know it’s August in Texas so I should not be surprised, but it has registered more than 100 degrees since last week and it doesn’t look like it is letting up anytime soon. Is this why I chose a week of no-cook meals? I must admit the timing is perfect because it is so stinking hot outside, but actually, we are remodeling the kitchen and are in limbo until we get it done. Well you know me lambs, nothing was going to stop me from cooking, er, preparing a healthy meal for dinner so I set out to find recipes to suit our needs. Tah dah! Of course Cooking Light came through with a library of options. This week I’ve chosen:

Now, we do have a new Wolf brand microwave convection oven that makes me look like a kid at an aquarium; I literally stand there and go “ooooooooooohh, ahhhhhhhhhh” while it’s on. Last night for the refried beans (yes in a can!) I put the bacon in the oven and turned it on its “bacon” setting. You know this oven and I are going to be fast friends if it has a bacon setting. Minutes later the bacon came out perfect. Love, love it. I then dropped the bacon in the refried beans, heated up and served with the awesome Chicken and Guacamole Tostadas. The guacamole on this is so flavorful and delicious it truly made the smokey chicken sing with the cilantro, onions and tomatoes. David added some crumbled cotija cheese on top which was a fantastic, no-cook addition. For the cheese win!

I’ll let you know how the rest of our almost no-cook week goes. I have to say I’m kind of digging having a meal on the table in no-time flat with very limited dishes after the fact!

Bacon-Tomato Butter. The End.

By now it’s no secret that I’ve got a crush on Cooking Light. Their recipes are innovative, full of flavor and best of all they are healthy or at least attempt to reduce not-so-good for you items like calories, fat and sodium. Now, Bacon-Tomato Butter does not seem like it would be the healthiest option in the history of Cooking Light but goodness I’m a glad that someone put these ingredients together.

Originally, this bacon-licious recipe goes with Mahi Mahi but I wanted it on top of a medium rare, coffee and spice rubbed steak, like the Chile-Espresso Rubbed Steaks they have featured here. To make this a total steak and potatoes night, I made the Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with Dijon recipe, except I used baby reds instead of fingerlings because HEB hates me and didn’t have any.

The Bacon-Tomato Butter was simply delicious and super, super easy to put together. Bacon, garlic, smoked paprika and butter? Who knew?! I’m also a sucker for coffee-rubbed anything and the spice blend they use on the steaks with coffee or espresso, oregano, cumin, garlic salt and chile powder was spicy and delicious. Combine the steaks with the bacon-tomato butter and yep, you’ve got to give me a minute to pull myself together.

The ingredient list for the potatoes is short and simple but these turned out fantastic. One thing we decided to do was add in a smidge of honey to bring out a sweet note in the sauce before coating entirely. Sounds odd, tasted delicious – trust us. If you’ve got a meat-and-potatoes person in your home this is definitely the dish to try tonight. We now have a crush on you too Bacon-Tomato Butter Coffee Rubbed Steak goodness.

“Shut-Your-Piehole Puppies”

While I was thumbing through Food and Wine’s July 2010 issue featuring their Best New Chefs of 2010, I was intrigued by more than half of the chef’s recipes. One, because I love trying restaurant recipes and two, these are super simple, even for a novice like me. I’ve got a few on my radar this week but one that I had to try first was this Hush Puppies with Green Zebra Tomato Jam from Trummer’s on Main in Clifton, VA by Chef Clayton Miller. Let’s see what Food and Wine has to say:

Clayton Miller makes a highly seasoned, Indian-inflected tomato jam with ginger, cinnamon, cumin and cayenne. It’s a terrific accompaniment to his hush puppies—cheekily nicknamed “shut-your-piehole puppies” by the cooks in his kitchen.
Love it.

Trying to find Green Zebras late on a Sunday evening was just not going to happen. But hey, you all know me lambs, nothing gets in my way when I want to try a recipe even if it means tweaking it a bit. Having tasted a mountain of these beauts in my office (since I help out with the public relations side a bit) I grabbed a container of Sunbursts tomatoes, which are sweeter and have a heirloom flavor to them, and a container of sweet cherry tomatoes to pack a one-two tomato punch.The jam was really easy to put together and you simply let is simmer for 40 minutes until it’s well, jammy. The hush puppy batter I made in the morning and let sit in the fridge until it was time to fry these little bad boys up. We really, really, liked this recipe. The hush puppies were pretty standard in their taste and texture, maybe I’ll try it with the bacon fat next time (?), but the jam was excellent. Something about the honey, ginger, cumin and cinnamon with the tomatoes made me wish I had made two more batches so I could spread it on everything for the next few days. Key learnings for next time. Make these and shut-your-piehole!