June 28, 2018

Beet lemonade {#CookoutWeek}

Sweet, tart, and a little earthy, beet lemonade is a delicious and different drink for a hot summer day! I had beet lemonade out at a restaurant last year and have been wanting to recreate it at home ever since. I was waiting for #CookoutWeek because I knew it would fit in perfectly with all the summery cookout, grilling, and picnic recipes. While this drink was new to me, there are recipes on the internet already (like everything!) so I read a bunch of them and played around until I got the flavor I wanted. You can adjust it very easily by adding more or less sugar, more or less beet, and more or less lemon juice, and also with more or less water. I like to use less water because I really enjoy the flavors, but you can dilute it more if you want. You can also top it off with a bit of sparkling water for some bubbles (or maybe even a splash of vodka). It's all up to you and your taste buds. This refreshing drink recipe will make about 6-8 servings. And, as always when working with beets, remember that they can and will stain!

June 27, 2018

Easy creamy grape salad

Make this cool and creamy side dish for your next cookout or picnic! It's so refreshing and always a big hit!

I'm sharing this classic grape salad as part of my #CookoutWeek recipe contributions. There are versions of this recipe floating around all over the web and probably in many people's own family collections. I don't know exactly where it originated, but this is the version I make since discovering it last summer. Gasp?!?! Last summer, you say?! Yes, last summer was the first time I had ever seen or tried this grape salad and now I'm hooked.

This is the perfect time to share it with all of you. It's so easy to throw together plus it's nice and cool for a hot day. Get the firmest grapes you can find - it makes a difference - you want them to "pop" in your mouth (not squish) when you bite them!

This recipe will make enough to feed a crowd - probably about 20 people as a side. It's always a winner at our family gatherings.

June 26, 2018

Honey cinnamon summer berry crisp {#CookoutWeek}

Disclosure: Chef Shamy provided me with two flavors of their butter as a #CookoutWeek 2018 sponsor. All opinions are my own and I was not required to post a favorable review.

Four kinds of fresh summer berries are baked together with honey and cinnamon and topped with a crisp made with seriously the most amazing butter ever -- Chef Shamy's Cinnamon & Brown Sugar Honey Butter. You guys, I'm not kidding at all when I say this butter is amazing. I may have eaten a little directly from the spoon because it is so flavorful and delicious! I knew I wanted to use this butter to create a summer berry dessert because I thought the flavors in the butter would mesh so well with the berries. It took a little playing around with the crisp topping since the butter is already sweetened, but I think I nailed it with the final product. This dessert highlights summer's seasonal berries and it's a perfect sweet treat to top off your next summer picnic or party.

Chef Shamy is giving all of our #CookoutWeek readers a special discount on their butters! I'm super excited and I really hope you all give it a try! Aside from this Cinnamon & Brown Sugar Honey Butter, I also have their Garlic Butter with Parmesan Cheese & Basil and it is fabulous on corn on the cob (popcorn, too). It would be another perfect addition to your summer cookouts. They have many other flavors as well and I know I'll be trying more (like Strawberry Honey Butter!).  

Visit Chef Shamy for more information and use the discount code 10BUTTER10 to get 10% off your butter order on Amazon. The code is good from June 25 - July 4, 2018.

June 20, 2018

Salmon burgers with lemon-chipotle mayo

Today I'm sharing these salmon burgers as part of June's Fantastical Food Fight hosted by Fantastical Sharing of Recipes. This month's theme is seafood! I love to make salmon patties with canned salmon. I think they are delicious and salmon is so healthy for you (and canned salmon is an economical seafood choice). I was inspired by those patties to make them into something like a burger. Also, I'm so very excited to report that both of my kids ate them (I put ranch on theirs instead of the chipotle mayo). I made the burgers mild because we were feeding two toddlers as well, but otherwise I would have added more chiptole to the burgers themselves (feel free to add a pepper if you like). Making burgers from canned salmon is also a time-saver! They salmon is already cooked and there are no bones - all you need to do is add flavor, form the patties, and give them a quick fry in a skillet. This recipe will make four burgers. I topped ours with lettuce and tomato and served them on a kaiser roll with a side of sliced pickles and roasted local asparagus.

June 12, 2018

Rhubarb oatmeal bread

Rhubarb season will be winding down in our region soon, but it's not too late to enjoy it! This quick bread has just a hint of spice which combines nicely with all the tangy rhubarb. This recipe is a spin-off of my blueberry oatmeal muffins, but this time baked into loaf form (to allow the rhubarb a bit more time to break down). It is loaded with rhubarb, and it's crumbly, moist, and best eaten within a couple of days of baking (which is never an issue in our house). One of my kids absolutely goes wild for muffins/quick breads. But, thankfully, he's also been gobbling up asparagus spears, too. So far he seem to have inherited his parents' love of food!

For my local readers, I've created a new Facebook group - WNY Seasonal Living & Cooking. It's a group for all of us in the western NY region who enjoy local and seasonal food. So please join us in you are interested in learning and sharing all that our region has to offer.

June 7, 2018

Old-fashioned rhubarb crumble

This dessert combines humble, tart rhubarb with sugar, a little bit of spice, and a delicious buttery crumb topping for a classic old-fashioned family favorite.

Sometimes simple is the best in my book. Rhubarb is often combined with strawberries or other fruits, but for this dessert, it's rhubarb all the way. You can of course substitute some of the rhubarb in this recipe for strawberries, blueberries, chopped apples, or any other fruits you like.

Plus, you can't beat a delicious crumble top on a dessert like this! I like crisp tops as well with oats in them, but for this dessert the crumble top is my favorite.

I've shared quite a few rhubarb recipes in the past, including this rhubarb recipe round-up. Rhubarb is something we grew up with - there was a giant plant growing in our backyard and backyards of pretty much everyone in our area. Now a days I feel like people don't eat rhubarb as much as I remember.

Serve it as is or topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, if desired (I really like it with a little ice cream, especially when still warm from the oven).

June 4, 2018

Roasted maple blueberries & a review of "The Fruit Forager's Companion"

Disclaimer: Chelsea Green Publishing provided me with a review copy of this cookbook. All opinions expressed are my own. 

When I saw that Sara Bir had a new book coming out dedicated to recipes for foraged fruit, I was super excited to say the least. But, this isn't just a book of recipes, it's full of information - why people forage fruit, doing so respectfully and safely, and also what makes these wild fruits special to us. Sara's writing is informational, quirky, and fun! The Fruit Forager's Companion: Ferments, Desserts, Main Dishes, and More from Your Neighborhood and Beyond combines my love of fruit, local food, nature, seasonal ingredients, frugality, and cooking all in one! My readers know that we dabble in foraging and that I'm a bit obsessed with U-Pick orchards and farms, especially apples and blueberries. We planted three pawpaw trees three years ago now and are anxiously awaiting their fruits in a few years. I try to get over to my father-in-law's to snag currants and raspberries before the birds get them all. You get the picture. We like fresh, seasonal fruits and we like to pick them ourselves when we can.

Sara's book is loaded with lovely recipes for fruits you are probably very familiar with like lemons, apples, blueberries, cherries, oranges, peaches, pears, plums, raspberries, strawberries as well as others which you may not be as familiar with such as hackberries, mayhaws (new to me!), loquats (Japanese plums), pawpaws, spicebush, sumac, crab apples, and barberries, along with many others. I chose to make the Roasted Maple Blueberries recipe for my review. Here in the WNY region, we aren't quite ready for foraging fruits just yet, so I had to buy them at the store (our freezer stash from last summer is depleted). The blueberries were absolutely delicious and super simple to make. We all enjoyed them with some pancakes for lunch. I'm looking forward to trying more recipes including Curried Crab Apple Sauerkraut Salad (hello, yum!), Five-Spice Pickled Cherries, Pawpaw Pudding, Cranberry Ketchup, and Persimmon Bread, just to name a few! Sara's book definitely deserves a spot on your bookshelf, especially if you like nature, fruits, and exploring new culinary ideas and recipes.