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Easy Weeknight

3 Easy Recipes for Fresh Summer Peaches

July means peach season in Ohio! And while it can be hard to find peaches grown locally (except at Quarry Hill Orchards, which is fantastic!), I always know when peaches are in season as the markets are full. Those beautiful fruits filling up the racks are just begging to be used in an infinite number of recipes. Today I’m sharing 3 of my favorite ways to use fresh peaches. First, I’m always up for trying a new cocktail so I concocted this Bourbon Peach-Tea Cooler. Second, I got hooked on this peach burrata salad I had a few weeks ago so I am making it again. And third, one of the easiest desserts you’ll ever make is a rustic tart with whatever fresh fruit is available – in this case, peaches! You could make any or all of these in one day. I dare say if you make them all at once it will be a veritable “peach feast”. 🙂 Let’s get started…

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Romantic Fireside Dinner For Two

I wanted to go out. And I really wanted to specifically go to the Cleveland Orchestra concert where they project the movie, Vertigo, and then play the soundtrack live! But alas, we waited too long to buy tickets and they were sold out. Hubs had a great idea – “why not watch the movie at home”, and I added “and we’ll make a delicious stay-in meal”! Done and done.

Nothing says romance like a fireplace, so I pulled a little bistro table set we have in our basement up to the living room for a special fireside dining meal. I really didn’t want to buy any new tablecloth or accessories, so I repurposed a plaid blanket into a cozy tablecloth. The heart-shaped ramekins added the right touch/color to our table.
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The Menu

We have been on a Paleo kick recently so I knew I didn’t want excessive carbs for our special meal. I decided on filet mignon with roasted asparagus for the main, champagne to start, a special bottle of wine, and chocolate for dessert! Yes, chocolate and wine were required and not Paleo. 🙂 I only buy meat from our local Heinen’s and found two perfect grass-fed steaks. It’s okay to splurge when you’re dining at home – it will still always cost less than a restaurant! Heinen’s had delicious chocolate cake by the slice, but I also made a pit stop at Malley’s (oh yeah) and bought chocolate covered strawberries for a particularly decadent treat.

The Drinks

The champagne was really a bottle of brut rosé sparkling wine from Two Sisters Vineyard in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario called “Lush” that came in this beautifully gold and pink labeled bottle with gorgeous packaging – perfect for romance! And the wine with dinner was a delicious bottle of Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon that Hubs got me for Christmas – taking us back to our time in Napa Valley last year, yum.
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The Dinner (or “how to cook filet mignon at home”)

Hubs was tempted to grill outside, in the cold, in the snow. But I said “no, they will be delicious made on the stove”. Here’s the key…butter and a hot grill pan. Take the steaks out of the oven 30 minutes before cooking, lightly dry with a paper towel and season with salt & pepper (or Montreal steak seasoning, as we like it). Preheat oven to 400F (this will be for the asparagus and to finish the steaks). Pop the asparagus in the oven about 10 minutes before you start the steaks. Heat an oven-safe grill/sauté pan on the stove until very hot (I used a Le Creuset cast iron grill pan). Add a tablespoon of butter for each steak and let it melt. Btw, I’m convinced that the butter I used – grass-fed pasteurized organic butter – also made a difference. Place the steaks on the butter to sear for 2-4 minutes on each side (these were 4 oz filets, so 2 min/each was enough). As the steaks are searing, tilt the pan and baste them with the melted butter several times, oh yeah. Once the sear is done, put the pan in the oven for another 2-4 minutes to desired doneness (we like medium-rare, so again we only did 3 min). Remove the steaks from pan to a plate and cover with foil to rest 5 minutes. Remove the asparagus from the oven and plate with the steaks. Oh my, bon appétit!
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The Dessert

Did I mention Malley’s? Um yeah, the box of chocolate covered strawberries is only available this time of year. Yes, I could have made them myself, but honestly this convenience along with the Heinen’s slice of chocolate cake made the meal so much less stressful and enjoyable. And how does romance not include some variation of chocolate.
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The Movie

I love curling up on the couch to watch old movies, especially with the Hubs. Vertigo had actually been on for us to DVR it, so we pretended the Cleveland Orchestra was playing and watched it with our remaining wine and chocolate and the fireplace keeping us warm. It would have been nice to go out but honestly it was perfect to just stay in.
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Turkey Goulash

Hi, friends! Today I have an easy weeknight meal that you can whip up lickety split. I’m doing this 21-day Superhero Challenge, so I modified the original recipe I have a bit to make Paleo-friendly and gluten-free, too. I found this some years ago when doing another challenge, Body for Life. And this became a quick go-to meal that is often in my rotation of weeknight meals as I can prep and cook it in less than an hour. Plus the leftovers are great to pack for lunch the next day! Because I’m doing this challenge on a week where I have to work full time plus have concerts almost every night, I also split up the prep work.
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Have you ever heard of the term, “Mise en place”? (roughly pronounced: meez awn plawss) It is a French phrase I love – it means “putting in place”. And if you’ve watched as many Food channel shows as I have, you will learn that it is often used in the culinary world to define the work that goes into preparing all the foods that will go into a dish. At the time of cooking then, the chef only has to put together the ingredients. I honestly think one could implement Mise en place in most areas of our lives (how about to keep the mail organized? to keep the bathroom clean?), but today we are using it in the kitchen. Sometimes I’ll do it in the morning on the day I want to prepare the dish. Or to save a lot of time, I might do Mise en place right when I get home from the grocery for the meals I need in the next few days. If I have a “sous chef” nearby, my husband :), then he usually does Mise en place and I cook when we prepare a dish together.

At any rate, Mise en place for this dish means – chopping the red peppers, onions, and zucchini, measuring out the basil, sauce, and the wine, and thawing the turkey if frozen. I put everything into dishes that I can easily grab when it’s time to cook and it makes cooking so much easier and joyful!
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I also wanted to mention that the BFL version of this recipe would serve it over egg noodles. But we are going to leave those off as I’m eliminating grains and carbs right now. But you could serve it over noodles, rice if you like (prepare separately and serve together), or nothing at all like me. Also, you see wine in the pictures but that is optional and can be left out if you are eliminating alcohol. I ended up using it because it’s only 2 TB and adds a lot of flavor to the dish.
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INGREDIENTS
1 onion, chopped
2 red bell pepper, chopped
2 zucchini, diced
1 lb ground turkey breast
2 cups tomato sauce (no sugar in the ingredients)
1 TB dried basil (or fresh if you have it!)
2 TB red wine (optional)

DIRECTIONS
Step 1 – do your Mise en place! and get everything prepped

Step 2 – put a little olive oil into a pan large enough to hold everything in the end, and saute the onion for ~2 minutes, add the peppers and saute for ~2 minutes, add the zucchini and saute for ~2 minutes. Remove the vegetables and set aside.

Step 3 – add the ground turkey to the skillet and saute until no longer pink.

Step 4 – add the vegetables back to the skillet with all your other ingredients. Simmer for 5 minutes to heat completely through, stirring occasionally.

Et voilà! A nice simple dinner is served…

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Smoky Chipotle Chili

Smoky Chipotle Chili

When fall is starting to cool the air and summer days get shorter and shorter, nothing sounds better to me than putting on a pot of chili and curling up with a good book, catching up on TV shows, or watching some football. I have tried many different flavors of chili and love to mix it up, but I have to say my go-to favorite these days for a hearty meat-based option is this Smoky Chipotle Chili. I can’t take complete credit for this recipe. At a previous company, a co-worker brought something similar to a chili cook-off. I never did get the full recipe but I recognized some flavors and decided to experiment on my own.
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The key ingredient in this chili is the chipotle chili peppers. I may have first discovered these wonderful gems in a Tyler Florence fajita recipe. And now I use them liberally in Mexican food dishes. They have a very unique flavor, not a lot of heat, but smooth smokiness that can’t be beat. They are easy to find in the Mexican food aisle at your grocery and will be in a can labeled “Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce” by brands like Embasa or Goya. You only need a pepper or even half of one to infuse the dish with flavor, so I like to store the remaining contents of the can in a ziploc bag in the door of my freezer. Then you can just pull it out and snip or slice off a portion you need and toss into your recipe.

Smoky Chipotle Chili
Another unusual contribution to the flavors in this chili might be the combo of meats I use. The first is chorizo sausage or andouille; the second is Bob Evans Savory Sage sausage, and the third is beef chili meat. I buy all my meat at Heinen’s and they have a great selection. The chorizo (more spicy) or andouille (less spicy) lends a decidedly Mexican influence to the chili and complements the chipotle peppers perfectly. The Savory Sage sausage limits the need for additional seasonings. And the chili meat rounds out the flavors and represents the cow in our, so far, pig-based chili!

Smoky Chipotle Chili
Now for some heat. At this point, I will say that I like a little heat in my chili. If there’s too much, I think it takes away flavor and just burns out your mouth. But whenever I want a little heat, I throw in some Sriracha sauce (an Asian spicy sauce that is good on almost anything, right?!) or you could also use Tabasco. I will just put a few quirts of Sriracha in with the meat as I’m browning it. And with that, I then only use a teaspoon of chili powder, because I find that the sauce plus the chorizo or andouille adds a significant amount of heat for my taste. The only thing left is tomatoes, beans, and cumin – three integral ingredients in any chili!

Smoky Chipotle Chili
Let this chili simmer on med-low on the stove minimum 30 minutes or all afternoon, and serve it with some cheese, sour cream, avocado, and/or tortilla chips. And maybe take a bowl back with you to the couch and finish what you were watching or reading. 🙂 Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS

1 lb chorizo or andouille sausage
1 lb Bob Evans Savory Sage sausage
1 lb chili beef
Sriracha sauce to taste
2 cans black beans, rinsed/drained
2 cans mild chili beans
3-4 Adobo chili peppers, diced
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
14 oz can diced tomatoes

DIRECTIONS

Brown the ground meat with a dash of sriracha, drain. Add the remaining ingredients, bring to a boil and simmer for at least 30 minutes.

Smoky Chipotle Chili

Margarita Grilled Shrimp Tacos with Chipotle Lime Aioli

Margarita Shrimp Tacos

Summertime, grilling, Mexican food, need I say more?  It’s time to throw some shrimp on the “barbie” and have a feast!  Of course we could grill shrimp several ways.  Right now, I love the idea of marinating the raw shrimp in lime and tequila – it’s like they’re drinking a margarita.  🙂  Add some flavors and spice, and we are in business.

Margarita Shrimp Tacos

If you have not tried Chipotle peppers before, you must.  You can find them in your grocer in the Mexican food aisle, and they will be in a small can labeled “Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce”.  They have a unique, smoky flavor without much heat and are delicious in Mexican food and chili, too.  Once you open the can, you can use the portion you need and freeze the rest to chop up as needed.  For these tacos, we’ll use some to create a creamy mayo-based dressing, aka an aioli.

Ok my mouth is watering, let’s get going already!

Margarita Shrimp Tacos

Margarita Shrimp Tacos

Margarita Shrimp Tacos

INGREDIENTS

For the shrimp:
15 large shrimp, peeled, deveined
1/4 cup tequila
juice from two limes
2 TB chopped fresh cilantro
dash cayenne pepper
dash sea salt

Chipotle lime mayo:
1/2 cup mayonaise
2 teaspoons chipotle peppers (canned in adobo sauce), chopped finely
1 teaspoon lime zest
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
salt and pepper to taste

Toppings:
shredded carrot, lettuce, cabbage mix
sliced grape tomatoes
diced avocado
chopped cilantro

1 pkg flour taco tortillas

DIRECTIONS

Combine the tequila, lime juice, cilantro, cayenne, and salt in a medium bowl.  Add the shrimp and marinate for at least 30 minutes.  Mix all the ingredients for the chipotle mayo and refrigerate.  Prepare all the toppings and set aside.  Thread the shrimp on 3 skewers and grill until opaque and cooked through.  Warm the taco shells for 30 seconds in the microwave with a taco warmer or on a plate under paper towels.  Assemble tacos with shrimp, toppings, and the mayo.

Margarita Shrimp Tacos

Pour yourself a cerveza, that’s Spanish for beer, ya know 😉 or a margarita and eat up!

Vamos a comer!  (ok, that means “let’s eat” in Spanish!)  I’ll stop now.  🙂