Caprese Salad

There’s something about the combination of fresh picked tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella.  Add some salt, pepper, olive oil, and perhaps a drizzle of balsamic and you have heaven on a plate.  It’s a main dish, side dish, appetizer, maybe even a dessert for some.  Anyway you serve it, Caprese is easy, beautiful, and delicious.

Caprese Salad
Ingredients:

Fresh, ripe tomatoes (local or homegrown are best)
Fresh basil leaves
Fresh mozzarella
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar
Salt
Freshly Ground Pepper

Directions:

Judging by size & desired presentation, slice or chop the tomatoes.  Use either mozzarella balls, slices, or cubes.  Chop basil leaves if desired.

Combine tomatoes, mozzarella, basil in a serving dish.  Drizzle evoo and balsamic evenly over dish.  Top with salt & freshly ground pepper.

Do your best not to lick the bowl.  Oh, go ahead, why the heck not?!

Fresh Picked Peppers

The first peppers were harvest from the garden this week.  I was excited to try this recipe that I’d saved from last month’s Bon Appetit.  The dish was a tasty as expected, although a bit salty due to the combination of salt & parmesan cheese.  I’ll be more reserved on the sprinkling next time.

Parmesan Peppers
Adapted from Bon Appetit, June 2011

4 bell peppers (a mix is great, but I only had red)
fresh thyme & oregano
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Stem, core, and slice bell peppers; place on a baking sheet. Toss with herbs and extra-virgin olive oil; season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Arrange skin side down in a single layer and roast in a 425° oven about 15 minutes, or until softened, then top with Parmesan and broil for just a minute, until cheese is melted and peppers are slightly charred.

Pepperoni Bread

This is a favorite of a wonderful college friend.  She serves it at all of her parties and there’s never a bit left.  Perfect game day food!

Kara’s Pepperoni Bread

1 can Pillsbury French Loaf
Sliced deli pepperoni
Mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 egg, beaten

Unroll the bread onto a cookie sheet.  Layer pepperoni and cheese.  Fold up dough and tuck the corners forming a loaf.  Brush with egg.  Bake at 325 until golden brown.

Veggie Bars

I have no idea where this recipe originated, or even the first time I had it.  But, I do know this was one of my Mom’s go to party recipes and it was always a big hit.  Served alongside a Fruit Pizza, this could be a complete meal for me!

Veggie Bars
2 cans refrigerated crescent rolls
1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1-1/2 teaspoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dill Mix or dill weed
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups of a variety of fresh vegetables: zucchini, mushrooms, carrots, green or red peppers, green onions, seeded tomatoes, seeded cucumbers, etc.
1 oz. (1/4 cup) shredded cheddar cheese, if desired

Preheat oven to 350° F.
Spread crescent roll dough onto 13-inch baking stone and pinch seams together (you can probably use a cookie sheet as well). Bake 10-12 minutes until lightly browned. Remove from oven and let cool completely.
Blend cream cheese, mayonnaise, dill weed, salt and pepper. Spread the cream cheese mixture on top of cooled crust. Coarsely chop or crinkle cut chosen vegetables.
Sprinkle layer of each vegetable over pizza. Top with grated cheese, if desired. Refrigerate before serving.

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

For Father’s Day, the family gathered for “Asian Night.” My brother-in-law made sushi, my husband made beef dumplings, and I made lettuce wraps. This version is a little sweeter than P.F. Changs, but very close other than that! They were very, very good!

Chicken Lettuce Wraps
3 tablespoons oil
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 cup water chestnut, diced
2/3 cup mushroom, diced
head of iceberg lettuce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon rice wine vinegar

Bring oil to high heat in a wok or large frying pan. Saute chicken until no longer pink. Prepare the stir fry sauce by mixing the soy sauce, brown sugar, and rice vinegar together in a small bowl. Add mushrooms and water chestnuts to the pan. Add the stir fry sauce to the pan and saute the mixture for 2 minutes. Add special sauce and cook until thickened slightly. Drain the juices and serve.

Special Sauce
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon hot mustard
2 teaspoons water
2 teaspoon chile paste

Make the special sauce by dissolving the sugar in water in a small bowl. Add soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, ketchup, lemon juice and sesame oil. Mix well and refrigerate this sauce until you’re ready to serve. Combine the hot water with the hot mustard and set aside. When ready to serve, add mustard and chili sauce to the special sauce mixture to pour over the wraps.

Southwestern Salsa

Southwestern Salsa
Adapted from Cooking Light, JUNE 2008

1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (about 3 ears corn)
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup canned diced tomatoes and green chiles, drained
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained

Combine first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl; stir with a whisk. Add corn and remaining ingredients; toss well. Cover and chill 1 hour.