The recipes on this blog are a combination of things I've learned over the years and meals inherited through generations of adoration for good food. They are a cherished property, so please be good to them.

You may not copy or otherwise reproduce any of this content without prior written permission.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Cran-Raspberry Granita

Granita is frozen dessert of sugar, water, and flavorings from Sicily. My husband and I love ice treats and the granita has really been making a comeback this year as a popular desert. I've seen recipe's that use vodka, but I didn't use any.

4 cups cranberry juice
1 c sugar
1/4 c fresh lime juice

Whisk the cranberry juice and sugar in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat just until the sugar dissolves. Pour the cranberry mixture into a 13 by 9 by 2-inch glass baking dish. Cool completely. Whisk in the syrup and lime juice. Freeze until the granita becomes slushy, about 2 hours. Using fork, stir to blend. Continue freezing the granita until frozen, stirring and scraping the fork across the granita like a rake, every hour or so to form crystals, at least 5 hours or overnight

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Oven Roasted Broccoli

My friend Sara made this during a girls weekend last year and it's become my most favorite way to eat broccoli.....and just couldn't be easier.

2 cups broccoli, florets only
good quality olive oil
4 cloves of garlic finely chopped
coarse salt and fresh ground pepper
Line baking sheet with aluminum foil. Lay broccoli on sheet, toss with remainder ingredients. Roast on 400*F oven for about 20 minutes or until cooked and a bit crispy. Make sure you shake florets around every 5-7 minutes while cooking.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Beef Tacos

Tacos are a quick meal for a weeknight and can be ready in very little time. Some nights, even I don't feel like devoting a lot of time or energy to cooking.
I made my taco shells out of corn tortillas. I usually use store prepared, but I love these because they aren't as hard and crisp as the store version. These are more crispy and chewy at the same time.
To make your own shells:
Heat an inch of oil over medium heat in a skillet.
Carefully add half of the tortilla (folded into a taco shape) and fry until golden (you will need to hold up the tortilla half the entire time.). Using tongs, carefully flip the tortilla to fry the other side until golden (continue holding the free edge to maintain the shape). Remove from skillet and balance the shell (Tepee style) on a paper towel until set. Repeat until you've got as many as you need.

For the filling:
1 lb ground beef
1/2 small onion finely diced
2 cloves garlic minced
1 tbsp each, cumin, coriander, chili powder and paprika
1 tbsp chili paste
2 cups beef broth

Heat large pan over med-high heat and brown ground beef completely. Drain and return to the pan, adding the onion and garlic. Saute for about 5 minutes. Add the powdered spices and paste and continue cooking for another 3 minutes. Deglaze the pan using the beef broth and simmer on low heat until most of the liquid is absorbed.

Serve in taco shells and top with toppings of your choice. Pictured with iceberg lettuce, fresh tomato's, extra sharp Cheddar and sour cream.

Calling all Food Bloggers!

I am now a proud member of the Foodie Blogroll. If you happen to find your way here, please leave me a comment!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Grilled Zucchini

Welcome to the easiest concept known. Since the grill has arrived in my backyard, I've been cooking everything I possibly can on it.
So, when I make an entree on it, I tend to grill the veggies that I'm serving with dinner.
For the Zucchini:
3 large zucchini (or as much to serve your needs); cut lengthwise
good quality olive oil
sea salt, coarse
freshly ground black pepper
pinch of zest from a lemon
Drizzle olive oil over zucchini and liberally apply salt, pepper and zest. Grill over direct heat for about 5 minutes, turning once. Keep an eye on your zucchini and remove as soon as they are fork tender.


I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who voted for me in the Culinate Grill Contest.

It was a complete honor and thrill to be nominated and end up in the Top 5!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Balsamic Barbecue Glaze

I've had a love affair with balsamic vinegar as long as I can remember. I decided to use the balsamic in lieu of another form of vinegar when making an easy barbecue sauce. By reducing the vinegar, the sauce is tangy, sweet and the perfect consistency.

1 c balsamic vinegar
3/4 c ketchup
1/3 c brown sugar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp Dijon mustard

Combine all ingredients into a sauce pan and cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally. Allow sauce to reduce until it sticks to the back of a spoon, about 20 minutes. ***Cooks note: This recipe yields about 1/3rd less the amount of sauce then at the beginning of cooking.***

Pictured and enjoyed painted on chicken breasts cooked on the grill.

It's Voting Time Again!

If you didn't get an email (check!).... is allowing those of you who have voted for me to vote again! Please do me the favor of clicking on another vote for me!

Use the "Send Me To Napa" voting button for easy voting!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Cherry Pie

I love making pies....but I've never made a cherry pie! I found some beautiful fresh cherries at the market and decided to go for it!

Basic Pie Dough:
2 1/2 c all-purpose flour
Fine sea salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes, plus more for greasing
1/3 c ice-cold water

Put the flour and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the cold butter cubes and pulse a few times until the mixture begins to become mealy and the butter forms plainly visible pea-size nuggets
Dissolve 1/2 teaspoon salt in the water. With the motor running, pour in the water and let mix, just until the dough pulls together. Do not over-mix the dough. If it appears dry and is not holding together, add a few additional tablespoons of water.

Form the dough into a ball, flatten, and wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until ready to use.
Lightly flour a board and a rolling pin and unwrap the dough. Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces and keep the second piece refrigerated. ***Cooks note: the key is to keep it cold!***

Roll out dough into rounds about 1/8 th of an inch thick. Lay first round into the pie plate and make sure it reaches the edges neatly.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375*F.
For the filling:
2 lbs cherries, pitted
1/2 c sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
Zest of 1/2 lemon

Fill the pie with filling. Remove second round from refrigerator and roll out to a circle larger than the pie plate (about 1 in overhang). Decorate pie top as you see fit. I used little cherry pie crust cutters, but a few slits in the crust will do. (This allows the pie to cook properly and release steam) Lay top crust on top of filling and seam all edges with a pinch pattern. Bake for about 45 minutes or until crust is brown and juices thicken.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

California Dreaming.....

I was just informed that I have been nominated (me...? me??) for a contest at Culinate for a grilling class at the Napa Copia Cooking School! (A total dream come true).

Please click on the link below (or the one to the right) and vote for me! You can vote for me until June 21st.

There are a lot of amazing food bloggers out there in the contest, and I encourage you to take a look at the list.

Monday, June 11, 2007

"Beer Can" Chicken

I've been hearing about this for years now....the phenomenon of cooking a whole chicken sitting on a can of beer. Until recently (how long can I go on about having a grill!) I haven't had the opportunity to try this new concept....until now.

Our good friends gave us a housewarming gift which was a beer can roaster. (I can't find the exact brand they gave, but that one is close) This little piece of grilling equipment, allows you to pour the beer directly into its own compartment so you can use any beer you might have on hand. If you don't have one of these handy items, a regular old beer can will do!

For the chicken:
1, 3-4lb chicken, cleaned and prepared
1 bunch of fresh rosemary
generous amounts of fresh ground black pepper and coarse salt

Prepare chicken by sliding several rosemary springs underneath skin of chicken (breasts and thighs are good locations for this). Heavily salt and pepper skin and massage to ensure good coverage. Pour 1/2 of a beer into compartment on roaster (or you can just drink/dispose half of a can of beer) and place several springs of rosemary inside. Humiliate the chicken by properly fitting the beer can compartment into the cavity (or onto the beer can) of the bird.

Grill using indirect heat (seen above) for @ 1- 1.5 hours or until the chicken reaches the internal temperature of 180*F.

This recipe/method is not only fail safe and easy, but the chicken was AMAZING! No wonder people swear by it. The amount of moisture and flavor from the beer is unbelievable. Run home right now and throw a bird on a beer!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007


There is no denying a good burger. Now that I am a grill owner, I am delighted to eat a grilled burger made with all the love in my burger loving heart.

I once saw Ina Garten make burgers and she talked about sticking a tiny pat of butter inside all of her burgers before she grilled them. She said it made the burgers super moist, perfectly cooked and full of flavor. Nuff said....

For the burger:
1 lb ground beef (4 burgers)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp each, fresh thyme and tarragon
coarse salt and fresh pepper to taste
4 small pats of butter

Mix first 5 ingredients in a bowl. Form into patties, adding the butter into the center and making sure it's covered completely by the beef mixture. Grill for about 4 minutes on the first side and 2-3 minutes on the other, or until done to your liking. Serve any way you like it. Picture with Cheddar cheese, mayo, lettuce and tomato.

Pasta with Sausage and Peas

I was at the farmer's market with friends this Saturday and there is a vendor there selling the best peas I've ever had! This dish has to be a top favorite in the catalog of pasta dishes in my collection. This recipe comes from my great grandmother, Nunzia (whom I never knew, but know well in stories). This is a simple dish, passed down through the generations. The fennel is the key ingredient, in my opinion. It picks up the flavor in the sweet sausage and gives a naturally sweeter taste to the sauce.

For the sauce:
1lb sweet Italian sausage
2 tbsp olive oil, plus 1 tsp
1 bulb of fennel, diced
1 onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 32 oz can crushed tomato's
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 c fresh peas
a generous handful of fresh basil

Heat a skillet over med-high heat and add 1 tsp olive oil just to coat the bottom of the pan. Remove sausage from casing and cook until browned. Set aside.

Heat another skillet over med heat and add 2 tbsp olive oil. Add onions, fennel and garlic and saute for 7-10 minutes or until translucent. Add tomato paste and saute another 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper, and the can of crushed tomato's. Stir well and cook on low simmer for about 1 hour. Stir occasionally. During the last 5 minutes, add your fresh peas. Top with fresh basil (Some cut, I rip mine for the rustic feel) and serve over cooked pasta.

***Cooks note: I always taste as I go, especially with sauces. If it's still a little tangy, add a swirl of olive oil and let simmer a bit longer. Feel free to use salt and pepper, but do it intermittently and not a huge amount all at once. ***

Monday, June 4, 2007

Shredded BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

My mother in law was over for a visit this weekend and since it was raining (for that my garden is ever thankful) we couldn't grill out as planned. I still wanted to serve something that reminds me of summer, so I did a really quick version of shredded BBQ sandwiches. I served these with some homemade coleslaw, sliced tomato's and ice cold lemonade.

1 c chicken stock
1 bottle Mexican beer
4 chicken breasts
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
For the BBQ sauce:
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp Tabasco
2 tbsp grill seasoning
3 tbsp dark brown sugar
4 tbsp tomato paste
Bring water and stock to a simmer in a small to medium skillet and add the chicken breast meat. Gently poach the chicken 10 minutes or until cooked through.
In a hot pan, heat olive oil and garlic and onion and gently saute until chicken is ready to come out of poaching liquids.
Combine the next BBQ sauce ingredients in a medium bowl and reserve.

When the chicken has cooked through, add 2 ladles of the cooking liquid to the bowl, combining with the sauces, spices, brown sugar and tomato paste. Remove chicken from pot, slice it, and using two forks shred to pieces. Add the shredded chicken to the onions and garlic and combine well. Add the BBQ sauce and simmer together 5 to 10 minutes, using extra cooking liquids to make your chicken as saucy as you prefer.
Serve mounded on soft rolls.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Grilled Shrimp with Lemon Herb Orzo

This is a simple and fast recipe that I can't get enough of in the summer. Orzo is a lighter way of fulfilling a pasta craving and its paired best (in my humble opinion) with fresh lemon and light herbs of basil and parsley.

For the shrimp:
1lb peeled and cleaned shrimp (Although I remove the tails before serving I leave them on during grilling for easy handling)
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
salt and pepper
1/8 c olive oil

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and let marinate for about 20 minutes.
Skewer the shrimp and grill for 3 minutes per side. Set aside and let rest until orzo is complete.

For the orzo:
1 cup orzo
2 qt water
salt for the water
parsley and basil
juice and zest of one lemon

Boil large pot of salted water and add orzo. Cook according to package directions.
Once the orzo is done, drain it and return to pot. Add big handfuls of coarsely chopped parsley and basil, the juice and zest and salt and pepper.
Cook the mixture over very low heat until combined. Continue to season to your tastes.
Remove shrimp from skewers and toss with orzo. Serve immediately.