Monthly Archives

April 2010

Grilling Kid Friendly Salmon Sauces, Salsas and More Seafood

Savory Strawberry Sauce with Grilled Salmon

 

Grilled Salmon with a Savory Strawberry Sauce

Many years ago when our family moved to the Pacific Northwest, one of our family’s first weekend trips was to the Washington Coast. This was long before the Twilight saga found light in contemporary society and made Forks, Washington a popular spot on the map.

As we were exploring the area, we found a sweet little seaside Inn that just so happened to have a restaurant.  Score!  Maybe.

It was in a remote area of Western Washington, and honestly, I was a little hesitant as to what this little Inn might offer in the way of a dinner menu.  Well hold the phone and pinch my arm!  My taste buds were pleasantly surprised.

Not only did they serve my two gals favorite food which was fried calamari but they also served grilled salmon with a savory strawberry sauce. It was a lovely sweet yet savory sauce that paired so beautifully with the grilled salmon.  

After the mini excursion I came home and promtply re-created the sauce.  Most fruit sauces are a reduction sauce of some sort and typically require time and attention.  However,  I wanted a simple sauce that allowed the pure, sweet, delicious taste of strawberries to prevail, while spicing it up with something fun – chipotle chili powder seemed the perfect kick.

The end result is a lovely, fresh and simple sauce that pairs perfectly with salmon. However, I also use this sauce for pork tenderloin, pork loin roast, chicken and duck. This is definitely a sauce to keep handy in the sauce repertoire.

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

Karista

Savory Strawberry Sauce with Grilled Salmon

Serving Size: about 2 cups

Ingredients

  • 1 lb fresh organic strawberries (watch for local organic strawberries at your Farmer's Markets)
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon fresh grated ginger
  • ¼ - 1/2 teaspoon Chipotle chili powder or 1/2 teaspoon Thai Kitchen Roasted Red Chili Paste
  • ¼ cup white wine (you can substitute with water and a teaspoon of white wine vinegar or lemon)
  • 1-2 tablespoons strawberry preserves (or more to taste)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Serve over grilled salmon or try it over grilled or roasted pork tenderloin.

Instructions

  • Slice the strawberries. Transfer the strawberries to a sauce pan, add the oil and heat on medium heat.
  • Stir in the fresh grated ginger, chipotle chili powder or chili paste, white wine and preserves. Bring the sauce to a lively simmer and let the sauce simmer on low for about 5 minutes.
  • Take it off the heat and let it sit while you grill the fish or roast the pork. The longer it sits the more the flavors will develop. It can be served room temp over hot off the grill fish or hot out of the oven pork.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Notes

    Options: A nice chipotle substitution is Thai Kitchen’s Asian Roasted Red Chili Paste. If you prefer savory but not spicy, omit the chili powder/chili paste and add a teaspoon or two of lemon zest. Recipe tester, Ann Detlef, recommended substituting Gran Marnier for the white wine (less than 1/4 cup), especially if serving with roasted pork. Ann rolled her pork in olive oil, spices, kosher salt and ginger and then grilled the pork. You could also roast the pork as well. Yummy!

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    Grilling Sauces, Salsas and More Sweets

    Maple Rum Sauce over Grilled Plantains and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

    Maple Rum Sauce over Grilled Plantians and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

    The Bennett Crew loves plantains.  Especially when they are green and we slice them up and fry them to make Patacones.  But because we were looking for something sweet to eat, I thought the plantains would make a decadent dessert.

    When plantains turn dark and soft, they are sweeter, much like a banana.  My sister in law, Paula, who is from Colombia, fries or grills the sweet plantains and then drizzles honey and cinnamon over the top as a dessert.   Sometimes she’ll prepare them with a little brown sugar and cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger and serve them over ice cream.  They’re so delicious I could absolutely eat my weight in these fried little sweets.

    Because my crew loves maple syrup I created a quick little maple rum sauce to top this yummy dessert.   After grilling the ripe plantains, I sliced them and placed over vanilla bean ice cream and then drizzled with the warm maple rum sauce.  Absolutely delicious!

    Serve them in pretty stemware and top with a mint leaf.  A beautiful and deliciously divine dessert!

    Maple Rum Sauce over Grilled Plantains and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

    This sauce is just as delicious over sliced bananas and ice cream, or warmed bananas and ice cream.  Yum!

    Serves 4

    Ingredients

    ½ cup Maple Syrup

    2 tablespoons Dark Rum

    2 cups Vanilla bean ice cream

    2 large very ripe plantains

    Directions

    Pre-heat the grill to 350F.  In a small pan, heat the maple syrup and dark rum on low.  Do not boil, but make sure the sauce is nicely warm.

    Peel the plantains and slice down the center vertically.  Brush the plantains with oil so they won’t stick to the grill.

    When the grill is heated, place the plantains flat side down and grill for a few minutes.  Turn the plantains and grill on the other side for a few more minutes.  The plantains should be soft.

    Remove from the grill to a cutting board and slice into bite sized pieces.

    Place ½ cup ice cream in the bottom of four martini glasses, stemware or bowls and then place a few sliced grilled plantains on top of the ice cream.  Drizzle a little of the warm maple rum sauce over the top and garnish with a mint leaf.

    Options:  If you want to prepare this without grilling the plantains, you can pan sear the plantains in a sauté pan with a little oil until the plantains are golden brown and soft.

    If you can’t find a ripe dark plantain, purchase a green plantain and then let it sit out in the open for a week and it should turn dark and soft.

    If you prefer, you can also use this recipe with bananas.

    Grilling Kid Friendly Pork

    Sweet and Spicy Grilled Pork Loin Chops with Grilled Apple Slices

    I stopped by our local meat market to purchase some sausages for a weekend breakfast, and spotted the most beautiful pork loin chops.  Well, I absolutely could not leave that market without those chops.  However, I hadn’t planned a meal with pork loin chops so I had to come up with something quick.

    Ranger Craig loves a good chop.  Especially one that’s slathered in a really tasty rub.  Of course, I didn’t have any sort of pork rub in the house, so I dug around my spice pantry for ideas.  A little brown sugar, some oregano, garlic powder, and my new favorite ingredient, chipotle chili powder.  If you don’t have any chipotle chili powder yet, you could substitute with smoked paprika and a pinch of cayenne pepper. 

    The great thing about this rub is that it can be as spicy or as sweet as you like.  It’s also versatile and can be used on grilled chicken and would be fabulous with grilled sweet summer peaches.   

    Make your next grill night sweet and spicy.   Happy Cooking!

    Serves 4

    Ingredients

    4-6 pork loin chops (preferably bone in)

    ¼ cup brown sugar

    ½ teaspoon chipotle chili powder

    ½ teaspoon ground cumin

    1 teaspoon dried oregano

    1 teaspoon garlic powder

    Olive oil

    Salt and pepper

    1 large apple sliced into 8-10 wedges

    Directions

    Preheat the grill to 375F.  Mix together the brown sugar, chipotle chili powder, cumin, oregano, garlic powder and 1 tablespoon of olive oil.

    Season the chops with salt and pepper.   Use ¾ of the rub for the chops.  Press the rub into the meat on both sides and let it sit for about 10-15 minutes, or put in the frig for up to 30 minutes. 

    Toss the apples with a drizzle of olive oil and then toss with the remaining rub. 

    When the grill is ready, place the chops on the grill and turn the heat down if needed.  Grilling pork chops can be tricky, so stay by the grill constantly checking on the chops.  For thinner chops, grill for about 4-5 minutes on each side or until the internal temperature of the chop reaches 160F. 

    When the chops are nearly done, place the coated apples on the grill and grill on each side for about 2 minutes. 

    Transfer each pork chop to a plate and top with a few apple slices.  Serve immediately. 

    I like these chops with a creamy parmesan risotto, roasted, mashed sweet potatoes or a salad of fresh greens with an apple or orange vinaigrette (recipes found under “sides” and “sauces”).

    Options:  During the summer I love these chops with grilled peaches! 

    Chicken Kid Friendly Sauces, Salsas and More

    Chicken Piccata with Lemon and Fresh Herbs

    My oldest daughter is a chicken and turkey kind of gal.  She loves a good chicken dinner with all the fixings (my Southernism for “side dishes”).    She was quite the happy camper a few nights ago when I prepared this tasty little dish.  I think she had several servings and asked when I might prepare this Piccata again.  I love it when my family loves the dinner!

    Lemon and chicken seem to compliment each other like pork and apples, or garlic and potatoes.  They just always taste great together.  Whether I’m stuffing a whole roaster with lemons and rosemary, or marinating chicken breasts in lemon and herbs, or preparing a chicken salad with preserved lemon vinaigrette, it’s always tasty and refreshing.

    And of course, it wouldn’t be a Karista’s Kitchen recipe if it didn’t have at least one or more variations.  Such as preparing the sauce to serve over a grilled, pan seared or baked fish.  One sauce… two recipes.  Gotta love it!

    Keep dinner fresh, simple and delicious.  Happy Cooking!

    Serves 4

    Ingredients

    4-6 organic or free range chicken breast cutlets (or chicken breasts pounded thin)

    Salt and Pepper

    Sunflower or Safflower oil (used for high heat cooking)

    4 large cloves garlic, finely chopped

    1 large shallot, finely chopped

    1 lemon zested and juiced (about 3 – 4 tablespoons)

    2 tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed

    ½ cup dry white wine

    ¼ cup chopped fresh basil

    Grated parmesan cheese for garnish

    Directions

    Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper.  When the oil is hot, sear the chicken breasts for 2-3 minutes and when they lift easily it will be ready to flip to the other side.  Sear the other side for another 2-3 minutes.

    Transfer the chicken to a platter.  Add the shallots and garlic to the pan and sear until wilted, for 2-3 minutes.  Next, add the lemon zest, lemon juice, capers, wine and half the basil.  Bring it to a brisk simmer and then place the chicken breasts back into the sauce.

    Let the chicken and sauce simmer on medium low for another 3-5 minutes or until the chicken is done and the sauce has reduced by half.

    Transfer the chicken back to the platter and drizzle the sauce over the top.   Sprinkle with the remaining chopped basil and grated parmesan.

    Serve with roasted baby red potatoes, garlic mashed potatoes, buttered pasta, wild or brown rice, or herbed cous cous and roasted broccoli with garlic and Romano cheese (found under “sides” in the blog).

    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Soup vegetarian

    Carrot Ginger Soup

    Carrot Ginger Soup // Karista's Kitchen

    A beautiful, local Artist, who is now a new friend of mine, asked me to prepare a few dishes for her birthday celebration last week.  It was one of the most fun events I’ve ever had the pleasure of catering.  Sandy loves vegetarian, and she loves color.  So we came up with a vegetarian menu that was fresh, colorful and delicious.

    Carrot ginger soup was one of Sandy’s requests.  I had a few recipes for carrot soup but nothing that truly “wowed” me.  After browsing through some old recipes I found a carrot ginger soup recipe from the famous five star restaurant, Victoria and Alberts.

    However, to keep the vegetarian theme and because I always have to “adapt” recipes to my tastes, I used the Victoria and Albert’s recipe as a guideline and came up with my own version.  I must admit, it is fabulous!  And, if you’d like to keep the recipe Vegan, just omit the small amout of cream that’s in the recipe.

    Although I haven’t served this as a cold soup, another friend of mine suggested this might make a fabulous summer soup.  Cathy, an excellent idea for all those summer carrots!

    However or whenever you serve this soup, it’ll refresh your taste buds and warm your soul.  A delicious and simple soup to be savored. 

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

    Karista

    Carrot Ginger Soup

    Serving Size: 4-6

    Ingredients

    • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 12 carrots, diced
    • 1 large shallot, diced (about 1/3 - 1/2 cup)
    • 2 ribs celery, diced
    • 2 cloves garlic, diced
    • ¼ cup chopped Italian parsley
    • ¼ cup sliced fresh ginger
    • 4 cups carrot juice (you can substitute with veggie broth, or use equal parts broth and juice)
    • 1 pint heavy cream (optional, but it does make it creamier)
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • Pinch of dried Basil, crushed

    Instructions

  • Heat the butter in a large Dutch oven or stock pot over medium heat until the butter has melted. Add the garlic, bay leaves, shallots, parsley, celery and carrots. Sauté for about 10 minutes or until all the veggies have softened.
  • Add 3 cups of the carrot juice and sliced ginger to the pot and stir. Bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer. Let the soup simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally.
  • Remove the bay leaves. Add the pinch of dried basil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Pour the soup into a blender or vitamix and puree. You may need to do this in stages as all the soup may not fit in the blender all at once. Pour the pureed soup back into the pot and stir in the cream. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
  • If the soup is too thick, add the remaining 1 cup of carrot juice to thin the soup.
  • Serve immediately. You can keep it warm on the stove if needed. Just keep the heat on low. This soup can be refrigerated and reheated stove top, or microwave. But it’s best freshly prepared.
  • Serve with seasoned croutons and a dollop of crème Fraiche.
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    Grilling Kid Friendly Salmon Sauces, Salsas and More Seafood

    Maple and Fresh Ginger Glazed Salmon

    I have to admit, this is one of those dinners that just happened.  I stopped at my favorite fish market, Gemini Fish Market, and grabbed what Fishmonger Jim calls “springer salmon” which is actually spring Columbia River King.  It’s a divine spring salmon that has the highest amounts of omega oils and is extra rich and delicious. 

    On the way home I was thinking I’d just throw it on the grill with a little lemon, salt and pepper.  Salmon is delicious simply grilled, but I was in the mood for something more than just plain salmon.  So I rummaged around my pantry and my frig and came up with Vermont maple syrup and fresh ginger.  I wanted to keep things simple and not add too many ingredients, not to mention, I was in a bit of a rush to get dinner served.  And honestly, a great piece of salmon doesn’t need too much fuss, especially if it’s being grilled. 

    I sprinkled the salmon with lemon juice, salt and pepper and then heated some maple syrup and fresh ginger on the stove.   A little basting while the salmon was cooking and then a little drizzle of the gingered syrup over the top when it was done.  Fabulous and Simple!  Yes, you could always jazz up the glaze with a little soy sauce, dijon mustard, five spice powder, or even a few tablespoons of brandy.  However, for something quick, this simple little glaze did the job.

    Have fun experimenting with the glaze, or just keep it simple.  Either way, it’ll compliment your grilled salmon and make dinner a snap.  Happy Cooking!

    Ingredients

    1 lb fresh Salmon

    1/2 cup Vermont maple syrup

    1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger (or more if you like)

    Squeeze of lemon

    Salt and pepper

    Options:  dash of soy sauce, 1/2 -1 teaspoon dijon mustard or 1/2 teaspoon five spice powder, or a few tablespoons of brandy

    Directions

    Preheat the grill to 400F.

    In a small pan heat the maple syurp and ginger to a slight simmer.  Transfer half the glaze to a bowl for serving with the salmon and use the other half to baste the salmon while grilling.

    Sprinkle the salmon with a squeeze of lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Grill the salmon skin side down or on a piece of foil.  While the salmon is cooking, brush with the glaze several times.  Turn the heat to medium if necessary and grill until the salmon reaches your preference of doneness.  Most Chef’s prepare salmon with the center still very pink, however, I like my salmon fully cooked. 

    When the salmon is done, transfer to a plate and drizzle with a little more glaze.  Serve with a mixed wild rice or white rice and grilled, roasted or stir fried mixed seasonal veggies.  Enjoy!

    Chicken Kid Friendly Sauces, Salsas and More

    Chicken Thighs Braised in Rosemary, Garlic and Tomatoes

    Chicken thighs are one of the easiest meats to prepare, and this recipe couldn’t be simpler.  Brown the chicken really well and then let it braise slowly in lots of garlic, tomatoes and herbs. 

    If I’m grilling chicken breasts, sometimes I’ll prepare the sauce by itself, let it simmer for a while and then top my grilled chicken.  Ranger Craig loves this sauce over grilled fish or a cornmeal fried Rockfish.  However you decide prepare this recipe, it’s simple, fresh and delicious!

    I love this recipe with a side of Creamy Parmesan Polenta (there I go again with the polenta, but I just can’t help myself).  It seems polenta pairs well with just about anything, not to mention it’s delicious.  If you’re tired of polenta and want a change of pace, try a big loaf of crusty bread to soak up all the yummy sauce.  Or how about  herbed brown and wild rice or garlic mashed potatoes.   Spring veggies are arriving daily so make sure to roast some spring broccoli or spring asparagus.  Recipes for those fabulous sides are found under “sides” in the category box to the right. 

    Happy Cooking! 

    Serves 4-6

    Ingredients

    6 large free range or organic bone in chicken thighs (or 8 smallish thighs)

    Sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper

    1-2 tablespoons refined safflower or sunflower oil (high heat oil)

    1 medium yellow onion, diced

    8 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

    1 28 oz can diced tomatoes (I prefer Muir Glen fire roasted diced tomatoes)(or in the summer, 2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes)

    ¼ cup good quality white wine vinegar

    1 large stalk of fresh rosemary

    Pinch of red pepper flakes or a dash of Tabasco

    Directions

    Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper.  Heat a high heat oil such as safflower or sunflower oil in a Dutch oven or heavy stock pot over medium high heat.  When the oil begins to get hot, place the chicken thighs, skin side down, in the pot and let them sear.  When the thighs lift easily and are a rich brown in color, turn them over and sear on the other side.

    When the chicken has been browned, transfer to a plate.  If there is excess oil in the bottom of the pot, remove all but 2 tablespoons. 

    Add the onions to the pot and sauté until translucent.  Add the garlic and sauté for a few minutes more. 

    Stir in the white wine vinegar and then the tomatoes.  Taste the sauce and season with salt and pepper.  Stir in a pinch of red pepper flakes and then the rosemary stalk. 

    Place the chicken thighs back into the pot and bring the liquid to a boil.  Once the liquid has boiled, turn the heat down to a simmer and cover with a lid.  Cook for about 20 minutes and then remove the lid and cook for 15-20 minutes longer to reduce the liquid in the sauce and finish cooking the chicken.

    When the chicken is done, transfer the thighs to a platter and ladle the sauce over the top.  Garnish with fresh chopped parsley or grated parmesan.  Serve with creamy parmesan polenta or your favorite pasta. 

    OPTIONS:  If you’d like to prepare just the sauce, begin with sauteing the onions instead of the chicken.  Follow the remaining directions, only cooking time is decreased to about 20 minutes.  If the sauce is too thin, simmer a little longer without the lid. 

    Creamy Parmesan Polenta

    ½ cup quick cook polenta (I like Moretti brand)

    3 cups whole or 2% milk

    ¼ cup fresh grated parmesan

    Season with salt and pepper to taste

    In a medium stock pot heat the milk on medium.  Stir every once and a while so the milk won’t burn on the bottom.  When the milk comes to a slow boil, add the polenta and stir. 

    Continue stirring the polenta until it thickens to a heavy creamy texture.  Take it off the heat and add the parmesan cheese.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

    Halibut Pasta Sauces, Salsas and More Seafood

    Basil and Roasted Walnut Pesto over Pan Seared Halibut

    When I was growing up I thought there were only two types of nuts, peanuts and walnuts.  My Mother adores walnuts.  If we were out of milk and bread, we’d still have an endless supply of walnuts. 

    We would often find them in our cookies, muffins, cakes, pies, on our oatmeal, in our cereal and sometimes on our spaghetti.  Walnuts were the Taylor family nut.  So, as you can imagine, it was a beautiful day when I discovered there were many other types of nuts to be consumed.  

    Consequently, I moved on to other delicious nuts such as pecans and hazelnuts.  And just like my Mother, I too have an endless supply of pecans and hazelnuts in my freezer.  

    As luck would have it, nuts are extremely healthy and highly recommended in our daily diets.  As well, I think my Mother knew a thing or two, because walnuts seem to get the highest of praise from nutritionists and doctors when it comes to heart healthy foods.   Here is a great article on the benefits of walnuts: http://www.healthcastle.com/walnuts-benefits-heart.shtml

    Naturally, I decided it was time to jump back into the walnut bag and create something yummy with these healthy little nuts.  Because walnuts aren’t my favorite, I roast them to give them a little extra flavor and crunch.  So when I was thinking about how to use my giant container of fresh basil, I thought, why not a basil and roasted walnut pesto?  It’s simple, delicious and can be whipped up in a snap. 

    I tested this recipe over pan seared halibut, however, I think it would delicious over any type of grilled or roasted chicken, or tossed with your favorite pasta and then sprinkled with toasted bread crumbs.  And of course, I’d even drizzle this lovely little pesto over my favorite creamy polenta.  I also tested this pesto over crostini, topped it with a little roll of proscuitto ham and thin slice of parmesan for a fun bruschetta starter.  Divine!

    Make dinner fresh, simple and delicious.  Happy Cooking!

    Serves 4-6

    Ingredients

    1 cup fresh basil leaves, packed

    ½ cup roasted coarsely chopped walnuts

    ½ cup fresh grated parmesan cheese

    2 tablespoons lemon juice

    ½ cup extra virgin olive oil

    Sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste

    1 ½ – 2 lbs fresh Halibut

    Directions

    Using a food processor or blender, add the basil, walnuts, parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and olive oil.  Blend until nicely pureed.   If needed add a tablespoon or two of water.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

    To pan sear the halibut, heat a large oven proof skillet on medium high heat with a high heat oil such as safflower or sunflower oil.  Season the halibut with salt and pepper and when the oil is hot add it to the pan.  Turn the heat down to medium and let the halibut sear for several minutes.  Typically the fish will turn easily when it’s ready. If it won’t budge, let it sit a little longer.  Sear on each side for several minutes, and if the fish is thick, pop it in a preheated 375F oven to finish cooking.

    To oven roast the halibut, preheat the oven to 375F.  Drizzle a little olive oil over the halibut and season with a little salt and pepper.  Place in a baking dish and roast until the fish is flaky to the touch.  This will be about 8-10 minutes depending on thickness

    When the halibut is done, squeeze a little fresh lemon juice over the halibut and then transfer to individual plates or a platter.  Top each portion of fish with a tablespoon of two of pesto.  Serve immediately.

    Options: This pesto is also delicious on grilled or roasted chicken breasts.  Serve with roasted fresh spring asparagus, roasted sweet potatoes with honey butter or a salad of fresh greens with citrus vinaigrette.

    Kid Friendly vegetarian

    Cucumber and Herbed Cream Cheese Sandwiches

    Everytime I went to visit my Auntie M, she would always have prepared a beautiful platter of these divine little sandwiches.  My Uncle Jim would pour my Auntie and I a glass of his favorite champagne and Auntie and I would have the lovliest visit over cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches and Uncle’s champagne.  These are some of my fondest memories with my darling Great Aunt and Uncle.

    I thought of these little sandwiches once again as I was preparing a menu for a client event.  She was looking for something fresh, delicious and a finger food that guests could pick up and enjoy without too much fuss.  Cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches sounded perfect.

    To make these sandwiches just a little different, I added an assortment of fresh herbs to the cream cheese such as chopped fresh dill and parsley.  Another yummy addition to the cream cheese, and a compliment in flavor to the cucumber, is to add a little chopped roasted red pepper to the cream cheese.  The red pepper also makes a beautiful color combination with the green of the cucumber and the white of the fresh bread.

    For your next event whether it’s a small cocktail party, brunch, baby shower, wedding shower, dinner guests or just a little nibble before dinner, these delicious little sandwiches make the perfect starter.  Oh, and don’t forget the champagne!

    Cucumber and Herbed Cream Cheese Sandwiches

    1 loaf soft whole grain white bread

    1 80z package cream cheese, equally divided

    1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs (I like dill and Italian parsley)

    2 tablespoons chopped roasted red pepper (you can roast these yourself or purchase jarred)

    Pinch of salt and fresh cracked pepper

    1 English cucumber, thin sliced

    Directions

    Mix together 4 oz cream cheese with the chopped fresh herbs, and the other 4 oz cream cheese with the roasted red pepper.  Next, using a 2″ biscuit cutter, cut out rounds of bread for the sandwiches.  If you have a square or other shapes you’d like to use that will work just as well.  Or, you can also cut off the crusts, spread the cream cheese, add the cucumber and then cut diagonally.

    Spread the cream cheese over each piece of bread.  Place 2-3 slices of cucumber on half the bread rounds, and then top each cucumber round with remaing cream cheese bread rounds.

    Place the little sandwiches on your most beautiful platter and serve.  If you need to prepare these prior to your event, place a moist, but not wet, paper towel or kitchen towel over the sandwiches  and then cover in plastic wrap, to keep the bread from drying out.

    One loaf of bread should make about 20 little sandwiches.  If you’d like to try other types of bread that would be a lovely option as well.

    OPTION:  Another idea is too spread your favorite hummus over the bread rounds instead of the cream cheese.  I adore the red pepper hummus with the cucumber for something just a little different.

    Enjoy!

    Chicken Kid Friendly

    Herbs de Provence Crusted Whole Roasted Chicken

    What can be easier than a whole roasted chicken?  Just rub it down and pop it in the oven, and in about an hour you’ve got dinner!  However, sometimes my taste buds just need something a little different than the traditional roasted chicken.  For a change of pace, I love the flavors of herbs, especially Provencial herbs that are commonly grown in the South of France.

    Herbs de Provence can easily be found in your local markets spice aisle.  However, if you’d like to blend your own Provencial herbs I’ve listed the recipe below.  By adding a little olive oil, mustard, or red wine, the herbs can be rubbed onto fish, chicken, pork or beef.  A delicious way to enjoy roasted or grilled fish and meats.  These herbs can also be added to a vinaigrette for a refreshing and zesty salad dressing. 

    This recipe uses the blended Provencial herbs with whole grain mustard.  Make sure you rub generously all over the chicken and underneath the skin on the breast and thighs.  If you happen to have some fresh rosemary in your garden, a few stalks stuffed into the chicken cavity will add additional flavor to the au jus.  Or for something a little fancier for dinner guests, use this delicious rub on cornish game hens.  A delight for dinner guests!

    Make dinner simple and delicious with a little bit of Southern France!  Bon Appetit!

    Serves 4

    Ingredients

    1 jar whole grain mustard (about 1/2 cup)

    1 tablespoon herbs de Provence

    1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

    1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper

    1/2 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt

    3-4 lb whole organic or free range fryer chicken

    1 cup white wine

    1 tablespoon unsalted butter

    Directions

    Preheat the oven to 375F.  Mix together the herbs, mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper.  Place the chicken into an oven proof  baking dish or roasting pan.  Rub the herbed mustard onto the chicken and under the skin of the breast and thighs.  Stuff the cavity with fresh herbs and garlic cloves if desired. 

    Roast for about an hour or until the internal temperature reaches 160 – 165F.  Make sure to test the meat near the thigh and leg.  When the chicken is done, let it sit for about 10 minutes to allow all the juices to distribute evenly and keep the meat moist. 

    Drain the liquid from the baking dish and add to a small saute pan.  Heat to a boil and add the white wine.  Simmer the liquid until reduced by half and then add a pat of butter.  If you don’t have much liquid you can use about 1 cup of chicken or veggie broth.

    Cut up the chicken and transfer to a platter.  Ladle the au jus over the top of the chicken and serve.  If serving cornish game hens, place the au jus in a gravy boat or bowl and serve with the hens. 

    Side dish options:  herbed cous cous, mashed potatoes, baby red roasted potatoes , roasted root veggies, fresh steamed or roasted veggies.

    Herbs de Provence Dried Herb Mix

    Ingredients

    1 tablespoon thyme
    1 tablespoon chervil
    1 tablespoon rosemary
    1 tablespoon summer savory
    1 teaspoon lavender
    1 teaspoon tarragon
    1 teaspoon marjoram
    1/2 teaspoon oregano
    1/2 teaspoon mint
    2 powdered or chopped bay leaves

    Directions
    Mix together all of the ingredients and store in a tightly sealed container.
    Makes about 1/3 cup herb mix.