Happy Summer!

The summer night is like a perfection of thought. – Wallace Stevens

Happy Summer Everyone!  I hope that yours is filled with sunshine and happiness…

 

 

 

 

If you’d like to make these summer cookies, you can find my cutout cookie recipe here.  The cookie cutters can be found here and here

 

 

Chili Lime Cod with Peach Salsa

I think you know by now that I love to cook. That I am happiest and most relaxed when I’m in my kitchen. And…I think that I’ve mentioned this before… but there are some things that make me a little timid, uncertain, or not so confident in the kitchen. I’ll make something, and wonder if it’s good enough to share. Believe me; I can get myself into the mindset that everyone is just being polite, and the recipe isn’t as good as they say it is. I don’t know why, I just do. It’s just those pesky little insecurities that we all put ourselves through, I suppose.

Silliness, really.

And maybe that’s the case sometimes.

But not today.

Today…I owned the kitchen!

Today…I can tell you with the utmost confidence that this meal is absolutely delicious! There is a savory, sweet, and crazy delicious flavor coming from every direction! The flaky cod is seasoned with a chili lime rub, and topped with a sweet peach and corn salsa that gives off just the right amount of heat.

This one is for those hot days when you just don’t want to heat up the kitchen. This fish can be cooked right on the grill, or sautéed in a pan. Either way, it takes just minutes to cook, and you’ll have dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes!

Life is good. It’s a “In and out of the kitchen in less than 30 minutes to get outside and play…” kind of good.


Chili Lime Cod with Peach Salsa
 
Author:
Serves: 2-4 servings
Ingredients
The Peach Salsa
  • 2 ripe peaches, diced
  • Kernels from one cob of corn (or 1 cup frozen)
  • ¼ cup red onion, diced
  • ¼ cup sweet red pepper, diced
  • 1 to 2 tbsp jalapeno pepper, minced
  • 1 tsp lime zest
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • Juice of ½ lime
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp honey
  • Fresh ground black pepper and sea salt to taste
The Cod
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp garlic powder 
  • ¼ to ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 1 pound fresh cod fish, cut into four pieces ½ tsp lime zest
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp lime zest
  • Juice of ½ lime
  • Garnish: Your favorite greens. (I actually used leaf lettuce for this, and it was delicious!)
Instructions
The Peach Salsa
  1. In a medium size bowl, mix together the peaches, corn, red onion, sweet red pepper, jalapeño, lime zest, red wine vinegar, lime juice, olive oil, and honey. Stir until combined. Season with black pepper and salt to your desired taste. Refrigerate until ready to use. (This can be made the day before, and refrigerated until ready to use. It will last up to one week in the refrigerator).
The Cod
  1. In a small mixing bowl, mix together the chili powder, parsley, oregano, paprika, salt, and black pepper.
  2. Sprinkle the dry rub onto each side of the cod filet, and gently rub in.
  3. Heat the olive oil, butter, and lime zest over medium heat; or in a grill pan over low flame. Place the cod filets into the melted butter and oil mixture. Sauté for about 4 minutes on each side, or until fully cooked, creating a crispy outside. Remove from heat.
  4. Squeeze the ½ lime juice over the cooked fish, and serve on a bed of greens with the peach salsa, and lime wedges.. Drizzle with the juices from the pan.

 

Mushroom and Cheese Ravioli

I know that I promised to have this posted yesterday, and I would have. I had a whole post written about Mushroom and Cheese Ravioli, and how easy it is to make and fun stuff like that… but then I went to a party last night, and after talking to my Aunt Sharon and Uncle Duane about my photos, I decided that it might be a good time to discuss the props that I use for my recipes.

Of course, as my aunt and uncle, they were praising my work as any family member would do, and as their niece, I was eating that praise right up! My uncle mentioned one of my recent photos, and said… “It looks like there was a dirty towel in the photo…” Oh my goodness, I laughed, and had to explain to him that the towel wasn’t dirty at all. They sat there listening to me, with an incredulous look on their faces. So, so cute! And don’t get me wrong, in no way was he criticizing my work..not at all.

There are so many different food bloggers with different personalities, different tastes, likes, dislikes. Some you’ll find clean white backgrounds that are absolutely gorgeous. Their food stands out beautifully, pure, clean, and simple. I love that look, and always appreciate its beauty. Then there are bloggers who post close ups of food only. I love that too. They’re perfectly clear with every last ingredient that is in that recipe. Then there are the moody bloggers. A little dark, using vintage, sometimes tarnished, a lot of times stained props that we find in antique shops, attics, garage sales, and online.

That’s me.
I tend to be on the moody side.

Now, getting back to the incredulous look on my aunt and uncles faces…the props that I use are clean. As a matter of fact, the towel that Uncle Duane mentioned was actually brand new last week! While shopping at my beloved Wegmans, I came across the towel, a little green and white checked towel, that I knew would look lovely for the summer recipes that I have coming up. I brought that pretty little towel home, preheated my oven to 350 degrees, brewed a couple of cups of coffee, and poured that coffee right over the towel. I put the coffee saturated towel into the oven, and let it bake and get burn marks… all just to make it look old and tired…when in fact, it is a brand spanking new towel! Always know that I use vintage props, but the food that is shown in the photo, is always protected!

I’ve worked hard to create an image, one that people will know just by looking at one of my photographs, and say: “Oh, that’s Prudy…”
Now that? It just makes me happy!

And my inspiration? It comes from my readers. Truly.

Once I found my photography niche, it was easy to find people to share that same love of vintage with me. To me, it’s warm and welcoming, peaceful and comforting, with a touch of romance….and I think that is what draws them in, too. It’s old kitchen, warm and cozy, friendship and laughter…happy. It’s a common bond that that I have with my readers, and the excitement in sharing something new. I know that it makes me happy, and in turn, I hope that it will make all of you happy too.

 

Now, let’s talk about that mushroom ravioli. This recipe is all about the mushroom. Chopped mushrooms in a cheese filling, homemade pasta, rolled out and stuffed into ravioli… all topped with a mushroom ragout. It’s earthy, it’s saucy, and it’s cheesy. This is truly one for the mushroom lover, such as myself.

And it’s so simple to make! I hope that you never shy away from making your own pasta. Three ingredients combined into a dough that has to sit for a half hour, and then rolled through a pasta machine, which takes just a few minutes. In about an hour and a half (or less), you’ll have these ravioli made! The sauce? It takes about 20 minutes to throw together! The ravioli may not be as quick as I normally say… but I still maintain that it’s super easy!

P.S. There are a lot of photos following the recipe, so keep on scrolling!  This recipe is going to seem really long and intimidating.  It really isn’t, especially if you follow the photos!

Life is good. It’s a “Sometimes it takes family to make you see what others might be seeing…” kind of good.

Mushroom and Cheese Ravioli
 
Author:
Ingredients
The Pasta Dough
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 3 large eggs
The Filling
  • 8 oz baby bella mushrooms, chopped
  • 1½ cups ricotta cheese
  • ¾ cup Romano cheese, grated
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
The Mushroom Ragout
  • ½ pound bacon, cut into 1" pieces
  • 1 onion, chopped (about ⅔ cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 16 oz baby bella mushrooms, sliced thick
  • 15 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • ½ tsp granulated sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh thyme, basil, or oregano for garnish
Instructions
The Pasta Dough
  1. Mix the flour and salt, and mound on a clean work surface. Make a well in the center, and add the eggs.
  2. Carefully mix the eggs and flour together, pulling more flour in with your hands, kneading as you go. Don't worry if it seems crumbly at the beginning, the more you knead, the more it will come together. This will form a stiff dough.
  3. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and pliable.
  4. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, and let rest for 30 minutes. (While the dough is resting, make the mushroom and cheese filling and start the mushroom ragout).
  5. Remove from plastic wrap, and divide into fourths. As you work with each fourth of the dough, make sure that you keep the others wrapped, so that the outside doesn't form a crust.
  6. Begin rolling the dough on the widest setting of your pasta machine. Fold the first strip into thirds, and pass the dough through the same width again. Pass the strip at least two times through each width of the pasta machine, ending with the narrowest width, and a smooth strip of pasta.
  7. Lay that strip of pasta on a flat floured surface. Cut off the uneven ends to make the strip uniform in width and height.
  8. Begin placing about a tablespoon of mushroom filling about an inch apart along the bottom portion of the strip of dough. Be sure to leave about ¼" of space between the edge of the dough and the filling.
  9. Dip your finger in a bowl of water, and moisten the edges of the dough, and in between the dollops of filling.
  10. Take the upper half of the dough, and fold it down over the filling, matching the top edge to the bottom edge of the dough.
  11. Using your fingers, push the edges of the dough together and in between the cheese to form the pillows of ravioli.
  12. Use a crimper, or a ravioli stamp to cut the pillows of ravioli from the strip.
  13. Place on a floured baking sheet.
  14. Bring a pot of salted water (about five quarts) to boil, and place about five or six ravioli into the boiling water. They will rise to the top, and let cook for about four to five minutes. Carefully remove with a slotted spoon, and place onto a platter until ready to serve.
  15. If you're not planning on using it immediately, put the baking sheet of ravioli into the freezer to individually freeze them. After frozen, they can go into a container or baggie, and back into the freezer for up to three months.
The Mushroom and Cheese Filling
  1. In a large saute pan, cook the mushrooms until the moisture is evaporated. About five minutes or so. Just make sure that all of the moisture has evaporated, otherwise you'll have runny filling! There is no need for oil or butter, the mushrooms will cook just fine without it!
  2. In a large bowl, combine the sautéed mushrooms, ricotta cheese, Romano cheese, mozzarella cheese, egg, and parsley. Stir with a rubber spatula until completely combined. Place in refrigerator until ready to use.
The Mushroom Ragout
  1. Cook the bacon until crisp. Remove from the grease, and let drain on a paper towel lined plate, reserving the bacon grease in the pan.
  2. Sauté the onions and garlic in the bacon grease for about 5 minutes, or until the onions are tender and translucent. Add the mushrooms, and sauté until browned. No need to worry about the moisture evaporating for the sauce. Add the crushed tomatoes and sugar. Simmer for about 10 minutes or until thickened. Add salt and pepper to your desired taste.
  3. Add the bacon back to the sauce reserving a few crumbles for garnish, and serve the cooked ravioli on top of the sauce with crumbles of bacon, and grated fresh ricotta salata. Garnish with thyme, basil, or oregano.

 

 

 

 

Pizza Dough

I am obsessed with making pizza dough lately…You know, I used to think that pizza was all about the toppings. Now, don’t get me wrong. I take my toppings seriously. I do love a good cheese and pepperoni once in a while, but most of the time, I like a sloppy pizza. I want it almost impossible to eat. But really…the toppings, they’re just secondary. They don’t mean a thing if they’re not on the right foundation. A crust that is thin, but not too thin. A slight crunch on the bottom, but doughy and chewy in the middle. It’s all about the pizza dough.

I’ll tell you, this has been a long trial and error “perfecting pizza dough” quest that I’ve been on. Years, actually. Always hopeful, always thinking “this has got to be the one”… only to be disappointed time and time again.

Well, what I’ve found out over the years, with the advice of a friend at work who taught me that weighing ingredients gives you a much better result than measuring, and the amount of time you let the dough sit, and the temperature of the oven all play into the perfect crust. And the beauty of it? It’s not complicated at all!

This crust is made of simple ingredients, flour, salt, yeast, and water all mixed together in a bowl and left to rise overnight. What I’ve learned is that measuring the flour is inconsistent. There is a difference in the amount of flour measured versus weighing the flour. By using a scale, you will get the same result each time.

Okay, so I get that. I really do. Especially for the professional baker. But does the home baker really need to weigh ingredients? No. I don’t think so. I think of my Grandma Bucolo who used a little coffee cup and a spoon to measure everything. I don’t remember once thinking, “Geez grandma, you’re off your game. You should have weighed your ingredients”. No. When grandma baked, it was delicious. Perfect? Probably not. But it was grandmas home baking, and there was nothing better.

Now, having said that.. for this pizza dough, I weigh my flour. And that’s because I want it to turn out exactly the same every single time I make it. It all goes back to the perfect foundation for the toppings. I want it to be perfect. Every time.

If you let the dough sit for a few hours, it’s going to rise normally, and you really could use it then. But if you let it sit overnight, the yeast ferments releasing a sugary, tangy flavor that makes the wait all worthwhile!

And finally, the heat. A hot oven (between 450 and 500 degrees) will produce a pizza with that crisp on the outside, and that chewy goodness on the inside. A slightly charred crust that gives it a hint of that smoky flavor that comes from a wood fired oven!

As far as the toppings, that’s a personal preference. My cravings change constantly. Sometimes I want sausage and peppers, sometimes I just want cheese, pepperoni, and mushrooms. But most of the time? I want it all. (sans anchovies of course…) Like I said before, I want it sloppy, impossible to eat, with a stack of napkins and a fork and knife if need be. But no matter how you like your pizza, this is the perfect foundation for your toppings!

Life is good. It’s a “Simple ingredients, simple process, crazy delicious crust!” kind of good.

Pizza Dough
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 500 grams all purpose flour (or 3½ cups)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp yeast
  • 1½ cups warm water
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt, yeast, and water until it forms a lumpy dough. Move the dough to a floured surface, and knead for about three to five minutes until it forms a smooth ball of dough. Place in a greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and let sit overnight.
  2. This will make 2 pizzas. Roll out and top with your favorite toppings. Bake at 450 degrees for about 20-25 minutes, or until the pizza is bubbling and golden brown.
  3. Enjoy!

 

Open-Faced Chicken Sandwich with Charred Corn Salsa

I may be jumping the gun a little bit…I’m cooking as though we are in the midst of summer. But then again, I’ve never really been one to follow the rules, if there even are really any rules of the seasons. Nowadays, you can get pretty much any fruit or vegetable all year long, you know? And I had such a craving for charred corn, that I had to pick up some corn this weekend. That led to charred jalapeños, which led to grilled chicken, and then it just snowballed into this open-faced chicken sandwich with charred corn salsa.

The weather couldn’t have been more perfect this weekend at the cabin, making me feel as though we were already in the summer months. I had every single window open all weekend long, clearing the winter doldrums right out of the cabin. I’d wake up every morning to the sound of a grosbeak singing it’s sweet song, feeling happy and content, until I stuck my feet out from under the blankets, and the cold air told me that it was just too soon to sleep with every window open, even when the steam from my breath didn’t give it away! But that didn’t stop me from doing it again the second night! Like I said, I’m jumping the gun, and that’s totally okay by me! Cold tootsies never hurt anyone, right?

I spent the whole weekend trying to find the bird with that beautiful little song that woke me up every morning, overlooking a family of pretty little black and white birds with red breasts, the whole time thinking that they were woodpeckers! After endless hours of searching the trees, I finally stopped to look at those black and white birds perched on the suet, and realized that they were not woodpeckers. I looked them up in my bird book, saw that they were grosbeaks, and then googled their sound on my phone. Sure enough, what was right in front of my face the whole time, is what I spent hours looking for! The sweetest little things, their chatter and song just makes me happy…and along with this sandwich, they’re already my favorite part of what is soon to be summer!

So, this sandwich… is most definitely light and fresh, but with an attitude! There is a definite sweetness from the corn, tomatoes and dressing, with a hint of charred flavor from the corn and jalapeños, savory from the chicken and buttery garlic toast, a bite from the onions and jalapenos, a tang from the olives and blue cheese, and a creaminess from the avocados and eggs. I’m not kidding when I say that it’s a different flavor with every bite!

Life is good. It’s a “Sometimes what you’re looking for has been right under your nose without you even knowing it…” kind of good.


Open-Faced Chicken Salad with Charred Corn Salsa
 
Author:
Serves: 2 Servings
Ingredients
Charred Corn Salsa
  • 2 ears corn, shucked
  • ½ to 1 whole jalapeno
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tbsp red onion, minced
  • ¼ cup Variety of kalamata and green olives, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup sweet red or yellow pepper, diced
  • 1 avocado, cut into ½” cubes
  • 1-2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
The Dressing
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 tsp ground mustard
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp dill weed
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
The Garlic Toast
  • 1 baguette, sliced lengthwise
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp parsley
The Sandwich
  • Spring greens
  • 2 boneless chicken breasts, grilled (fully cooked, and sliced)
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
  • Crumbled blue cheese
Instructions
Charred Corn Salsa
  1. You can char the corn and jalapeño a couple of different ways. Put it directly over the flame on your stove, grill it, put it in a hot skillet over a fire or on your stove. For this, I used my skillet, and place the corn and jalapeños in the heated skillet, turning them until they had blackened marks on each side.
  2. When finished charring, carefully cut the corn from the cob. Remove the char from the jalapeño, slice it in half, clean out the seeds, and mince. (Divide it in half if you don’t want to use the whole pepper in the salsa, depending on your desired heat).
  3. Place the corn and the jalapeño in a medium bowl. Add the tomatoes, onion, olives, garlic, red or yellow pepper (or both), avocado, parsley, olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, salt and pepper.
  4. Stir to mix. Place in refrigerator until ready to use.
The Dressing
  1. Pour the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, ground mustard, sugar, Italian seasoning, dill weed, paprika, garlic, salt and pepper into a pint size mason jar. Cover. Shake until fully combined. Refrigerate until ready to use. (Shake again before pouring over sandwich)
The Garlic Toast
  1. Place the baguette halves under the broiler of your oven until golden brown. While the baguettes are under the broiler, mix the butter, garlic, and parsley together. When the baguettes are browned, remove from broiler, and spread with the garlic butter.
Assemble the Sandwich
  1. Place the garlicky baguette halves on the serving dish. Top with as much spring greens as you desire. Place the chicken slices over the spring greens. Divide the salsa between the two sandwiches. Sprinkle with chopped hard boiled eggs, and crumbled blue cheese. Drizzle with the dressing (as much as, or as little as you prefer).

 

Lemon Chicken

A special thank you to my friends at Hestan Home  for sharing this absolutely gorgeous pan with me! It was truly love at first sight the moment I opened the box, and I believe a love that will last forever..

You know me. And you know that I’m all about quick and easy when it comes to meals nowadays…from prep to cleanup. A simple lemon chicken with rice is one of my favorite meals to prepare, and even more so with a cooking surface that produces 35% more heat conductivity than any other aluminum-clad pan. And let’s talk about clean up… I’m not kidding when I say that a simple swish of the cloth, and the pan was clean because of its stain and scratch resistant surface! A non-stick pan that is stain and scratch resistant.  It just doesn’t get any better than that!

And although this pan is absolutely gorgeous, it’s not just another pretty face. It is state of the art, stainless cookware in molecular titanium. I mean, come on.. it’s cool to even say those words, let alone own one of these beauties!

I love this Lemon Chicken because not only is it delicious, but it is super quick and easy to prepare, with a quick sauté in butter and garlic, finished off with a squeeze of lemon. And who doesn’t love a buttery lemon sauce? Served with a lemony rice, this meal can be pulled off in about a half hour. No kidding.

Life is truly good. It’s a “Even more so with this pan on my stove…” kind of good.

Lemon Chicken
 
Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
Lemon Chicken
  • 2 chicken breasts sliced in half lengthwise
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Lemon slices for garnish
Lemon Rice
  • 1 cup uncooked rice
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper, and over medium heat, cook the chicken in the butter until fully cooked and golden brown on both sides. About 8 minutes on both sides. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, and parsley to the pan, and cook for another two to three minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan, leaving the lemon sauce in the pan.
  2. While the chicken is cooking, prepare the rice according to the directions on the package, using the chicken stock in place of water. When fully cooked, stir in the butter, lemon zest, lemon juice, and parsley. Add salt and pepper to your desired taste.
  3. Pour the rice into the pan with the reserved lemon sauce, and stir to combine. Add the chicken back to the pan, and cook for about three minutes to heat the chicken through. Serve immediately with lemon slices as garnish.

 

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