Summer appetizer recipes round-up

Summer appetizer recipes round-up
Summer is upon us. Beach days, get togethers, barbecues and what brings people together better than food?  Here’s my round-up of summer appetizer recipes.
Cranberry vinaigrette dressing

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Patriotic ice cubes

Patriotic ice cubes

4th of July is just around the corner. Celebrate the day with these patriotic ice cubes that will cool any drink from water to your favorite cocktail. 

I came across these very cool round ice cube molds on ebay and thought it would be a fun idea to make a patriotic layered, colored ice cube. 

Patriotic ice cubes

I knew that the blue would be the biggest challenge. Even though there’s blue Gatorade and energy drinks, but as you know I don’t use anything processed in my recipes. So, the only thing I could do is to use natural blue food coloring. As the main liquid ingredient, I used coconut water because it freezes clearer than regular water. So here are the layers: 
red = strawberry juice
white = coconut water
blue = blue dyed coconut water
For the strawberry juice, I just pureed defrosted frozen strawberries in a blender with a little coconut water until it became nice and thin.



To achieve the layered effect, I filled the mold 1/3 way with the blue coconut water and put in the freezer for 4 hours. Once frozen, I poured in cold coconut water (so it wouldn’t start melting the blue) 2/3 full and put it back in the freezer for 4 hours, then filled the last 1/3 of the mold with the strawberry juice. Pretty fun, don’t you think?

Patriotic ice cubes                                                print

Ingredients

  • Coconut water
  • Strawberry juice
  • Natural blue food coloring

Directions

  1. Add coconut water to a jug with a spout and add 2 dashes of blue food coloring, mix.
  2. Pour the blue coconut water into an ice cube mold of your choice, 1/3 full.
  3. Freeze for 4 hours.
  4. When the blue water is frozen. pour cold clear coconut water into the ice cube mold, 2/3 full and freeze for 4 hours.
  5. When the clear coconut water is frozen, top off the final 1/3 of the ice cube mold with the strawberry juice, freeze for 4 hours.
Patriotic ice cubes

Friday Foodie Friends link party

Welcome back to another Foodie Friends Friday link party

Friday Foodie Friends link party

Here’s  to another week of delicious recipes…

From last weeks party…

Recipes with the Most Clicks


Host Favorite Recipes can be seen on 


FOODIE FRIENDS FRIDAY LINKY PARTY RULES TO FOLLOW!!

1. LINK UP ONLY RECIPES MADE BY YOU.

2.  LIMIT OF 3 LINKS PER WEEK (LINKS MUST NOT BE PART OF A REVIEW, GIVEAWAY, OR ANOTHER LINKY PARTY.

3. WE’D LOVE A LINK BACK TO FOODIE FRIENDS FRIDAY TO YOUR POST OR A BUTTON ON YOUR WEBSITE.

4.  THANK THE CO-HOSTS BY “LIKING” THEIR PAGE.

Adding Links back to Foodie Friends Friday and our Button is our only form of advertising to bring in more people to see YOUR recipes.
Please remember to do this. It benefits you! To thank you, we will continue to feature those with links throughout the year on various outlets.


foodie friends friday, rules
To thank you, we will continue to feature those with links throughout the year on various outlets.  
Adding Links back to Foodie Friends Friday and our Button is our only form of advertising to bring in more people to see YOUR recipe.  
Foodie Friends Friday


Don’t forget to follow our co-hosts this week



Now, let’s link-up…



3 cheese polenta with Italian sausage

3 cheese polenta with Italian sausage

I love cheese, all types, hard, soft, sharp and nutty.  So when a sample box of Sartori cheeses showed up on my doorstep, I was in cheese heaven.


I immediately opened the cheeses because I was excited  sample them all and they were all amazing and unique in their own way. The 3 cheeses that struck my taste buds the most were the rosemary & olive oil asiago, bellavitano gold and the sarvecchio parmesan. All rich and nutty along with the added rosemary made me think that the combination of these 3 cheeses would be outstanding in polenta.  


3 cheese polenta with Italian sausage
A big bowl of creamy polenta is so comforting and the addition of these nutty and creamy cheeses were the perfect finish, giving a hint of rosemary. But I wasn’t finished there, I wanted to make the polenta into a complete meal, so I made my own Italian turkey sausage with toasted fennel seed and sage and this served as a great meaty topping. To finish the dish, I topped it with more cheese, baked  until it was melted and bubbly, then topped with freshly chopped basil, the dish was complete.
3 cheese polenta with Italian sausage


3 cheese polenta casserole with Italian sausage                                       print

Ingredients
(serves 4)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Butter casserole dish and set aside.
  3. In a large cast iron skillet, add the fennel seed and toast over low heat until fragrant, remove and set aside. 
  4. Add the olive oil to the skillet and heat over medium high heat.
  5. Add the ground turkey, breaking up the meat and cook for 2 minutes.
  6. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes more until the onion is softened and the meat is browned.
  7. Add the chopped onion, garlic, paprika, sage, fennel seed, crushed red pepper flakes, black pepper and salt.
  8. Cook until the meat is browned, add the chopped zucchini and cook.
  9. In a medium saucepan, heat the chicken stock  and milk, bring to a simmer.
  10. Add the yellow cornmeal whisk  until combined.
  11. Cook at a very low simmer for about 15 minutes whisking occasionally until smooth and thickened for 30 minutes. If the polenta thickens too soon, add a little more stock or milk. 
  12. Add all 3 cheeses and the butter, stir until combined.
  13. Place the casserole dishes on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

3 cheese polenta with Italian sausage

Grilled pear and crispy prosciutto salad

Grilled pear and crispy prosciutto salad


After eating this salad, I wondered why I had never grilled pears before now. The sweet pears, crispy prosciutto, tangy goat cheese and toasted pecans, make for the perfect salad bite.



Pears are usually sold under-ripe, which is great for this recipe. If you try and grill ripe pears they will flop and fall apart. Anjous pears that are still firm are the perfect type for grilling, but not all supermarkets carry all varieties so any firm pear that you can find is perfect. 

Grilled pear and crispy prosciutto salad


When I was making the dressing for this salad, it occurred to me that it would be perfect to brush onto the pears before grilling, and let me tell  you, when that balsamic vinegar caramelizes with the pears, it’s perfection.

Grilled pear and crispy prosciutto salad                                                  print

Ingredients  
(serves 4)

For the salad

  • 1 cup pecan halves
  • 4 slices Prosciutto di Parma
  • 4 firm pears of your choice, sliced 1/8 inch thick
  • 4 ounces goat cheese
  • Salad greens of your choice, I used baby spinach and arugula

For the dressing

  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons light agave nectar or honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated ginger
  • Small pinch of salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a small sauté pan, add the pecans.
  3. Toast the pecans over medium low heat until fragrant, about 3 minutes per side.
  4. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place the prosciutto slices evenly spaced.
  5. Bake in the oven for 5 minutes or until crispy, remove and allow to cool on baking sheet.
  6. In a mixing bowl combine the lime, balsamic vinegar, agave or honey, ginger, salt and pepper.
  7. Whisk in the olive oil. Set aside.
  8. Preheat a grill pan over medium high heat.
  9. Brush both sides of the pear slices with the salad dressing.
  10. Grill the pears for 2 minutes on each side, remove and set aside and allow to cool.
  11. In a large mixing bowl add the salad greens and toss with the salad dressing, reserving some to add later.
  12. Divide the greens amongst 4 dishes.
  13. Divide the pecans between the 4 dishes.
  14. Arrange the cooled pear slices on the salad and top with the goat cheese.
  15. Crumble the prosciutto in your hands and sprinkle over the salads.
  16. Top with more dressing if needed.

Grilled pear and crispy prosciutto salad

My writing process blog tour



I was asked by my friend Erica from Erica’s Recipes to participate in a blog tour. I don’t have a new recipe for you today, but here’s the florentine cookie recipe from the picture, it’s a good one. 

The blog tour is about bloggers paying it forward to other bloggers, we all answer 4 questions about our writing process and then go on to introduce 3 of our  favorite bloggers.

I’ve learned a lot in my short 8 months of blogging (wow, where did 8 months go?). One of the biggest and most shocking thing I learned is bloggers supporting other bloggers. You would think it would be cutthroat and catty and I’ve found it to be the complete opposite. I’ve met some amazing and talented ladies (and a couple of gentlemen) and made some great friends, but more on that later. On to the questions about my writing process:
1. What am I working on?
At the start of blogging, I found myself a little unorganized and got flustered with my photography, styling and even cooking. I felt like I was just cooking, writing, and shooting everyday and not getting ahead. Now, I’m finally ahead. I have blog posts scheduled 2 weeks in advance with a list of more than 50 recipes like traditional British desserts and great summer recipes.

2. How does my work differ from others in my genre?
My blog tagline is ‘authentic recipes, honest ingredients’. This means that nothing is packaged or processed, everything is from scratch with real ingredients. Even before the blog, I would make my own chicken stock instead of boxed. This doesn’t work for everyone, but it works for me because I know exactly what ingredients are going in my dishes.

3. Why do I write what I do?
Because it’s all about the food. The intro into my recipes is all about the process that got me to the recipe and why I used certain ingredients.

4. How does my writing process work?
It doesn’t always work. Sometimes I sit down to write a blog post and can’t come up with an interesting intro. What I have found it, once I get the recipe written that helps the rest of the wrting come.

So back to my newly found blogging friends:

Culinary Hill – I got to know Meggan after noticing her beautiful photography on Foodgawker. I asked her to be a member of my group Pinterest board and we are now great friends that are in contact almost daily. Meggan has given me some great blogging advice that you can only get from first hand experience and that is very important to me.  Meggan ‘s blog has recipes that appeal to everyone from dishes like  Cocoa Cola chicken wings, to homemade ancho chile powder that could inspire anyone to get into the kitchen.

Healing Tomato – Rini has a great vegetarian blog. For those who think vegetarian eating is bland and boring you could not be more wrong. Rini comes up with inventive and unique recipes that would make  any hard-core carviore want to eat her food. From elegant vegetarian sushi rolls to comforting flatbread pizza with cherries, I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.

Christina’s Cucina – Christina and I have a lot in common and has become such an inspiration to me. Like myself, she was born in the U.K (Scotland for,England for me) and we now both live in Los Angeles. We seem to share similar personalities and a love for the food of our heritage. Christina makes dishes from her roots, not only her Scottish roots with recipes like Cranachan, A Lovely Scottish Dessert, Christina is also half Italian, so she also shares recipes from her mother and family like Zia Francesca’s Penne alla Vodka and her blog posts come with great family stories and history.

5 days of potato recipes round-up

5 days of potato recipes round-up
Raise your hand if you don’t like potatoes. I can’t see you, but I’m sure there’s not many of you. Potatoes are versatile, comforting and come in many varieties which makes them a blank canvas for so many dishes. I’ve taken 5 potato dishes from my fellow food blogger and put them into 1 great collection, 5 days of potato recipes.

Cheese lovers ultimate loaded potato soup
Traditional Irish colcannon
Sweet potato samosas with mango chutney