English Pea and Mint Crostini’s **Summer Simplicity

Summer is always a great time to look for light and healthy food.  And equally important easy, quick food!   The convenience of having some “go to” fast dishes for summer evenings, cook outs and family gatherings is amplified over summer.  I especially love the ones that travel well, I feel so fancy when I pack “apps” in a cooler for the beach- goes perfect with vino at sunset!

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Have to admit- when I see things that my Mom, Queenie, can do without calling me 3 times, and they look tasty, I am immediately attracted to them.  I just don’t like spending all day in the kitchen on the weekends in the summer- so simple, quick and tasty is perfect.

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My grandmother, Madame Margo, told me over 10 years ago about a dish she made with peas and mint, and I think maybe Greek yogurt…I stored the flavor combination away in my brain until a few months ago when I saw the them being played with more often.  We actually had a cooking competition the other day at work, based on the TV show “Chopped”, where the dessert ingredients the participants were given included English peas, ricotta and oranges.  I wanted to scream at them, mint, mint!!  But actually I found myself most impressed with one making something like a pea and ricotta ice cream with and orange sauce, I loved the high creativity!

Pea and Mint Crostini’s

Ingredients

  •  10 ounces frozen green peas, or fresh spring peas    
  • ½ cup part-skim ricotta cheese    
  • ¼ cup mint leaves, without stems    
  • 2 tablespoons fine grated parmesan cheese    
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt    
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • Butter spray/ cooking spray
  • Small baguette bread, cut into 24  1/3 inch thick slices    
  • Fresh tomatoes for garnish

Method

In a 2 quart sauce pan filled halfway with water heat over medium high until water comes to a boil.  Add the peas and return to a boil for one minute. Drain the peas into a colander and rinse with cold water.

In a food processor put the drained peas, and pulse.  Add ricotta, mint, Parmesan, oil, garlic, salt and pepper and blend until mostly smooth.  Transfer into a serving bowl and refrigerate or 30 minutes.

While the spread chills, preheat oven to 325°F. Arrange the bread slices on a parchment paper lined baking sheet  and spray with the butter spray.  Bake until lightly golden and crisp; cool and store in an airtight container until ready to serve.

Assemble just before serving with a tablespoon of spread on each piece of bread.  Garnish with tomato.

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The pea spread can be made a few days before and kept in air tight container- a perfect “get ahead” appetizer.  The bread toasts are best made the day of, but if kept in an airtight container you can do the day before.

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Inspired by my grandmother creativity and knowledge, and my mom’s love of life outside the kitchen!  With those two ladies in mind it is hard to not come out great!

Dill Pickle Crisps and Deviled Egg Brunch Dip

I know a lot of people that would swear up and down that a good party cannot be had without deviled eggs. Honestly, I have yet to meet one I haven’t liked. Hate to add it to a menu of mine as they are just so expected, and then the classic, down home southern girl inside of me tells me “what in God’s name am I talking about”, and they are saved from being 86’d from the buffet table. But nothing wrong with mixing it up, after all dip is equally important at all parties, brunch included!

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Some may say this is just egg salad, but it is served with crackers- so that obligates it to be a dip. Hands down, no question asked. The end. Dip.

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This recipe comes from way back on September of 2009 from Food and Wine Magazine

Deviled Egg Spread

1 dozen large eggs
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
Salt & pepper
Paprika for dusting

  • Place the eggs in a large saucepan and cover with cold water; make sure the water is a good inch above the eggs. Add in the vinegar and heat to a rapid boil. Place the lid on the saucepan and remove it from the heat. After allowing to stand for 15 minutes, drain the water from eggs and run cool water over them to cool. Add a few ice cubes to chill them faster.
  • Peel the egg shells and slice them in half lengthwise. Rough chop half of the egg whites and place them into a large bowl. Put the remaining whites and all of the yolks to a food processor along with the mayo and mustard. Process until smooth. Scrape the mixture into a bowl and blend with the chopped egg whites. Season with salt and pepper. Can be made ahead and refrigerated overnight.

Makes about 3 cups of DIP

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To add a special touch to the Deviled Egg alternative I took out the standard pickle in the dip and added it to the cracker- which came out great! I love the zip and sourness in the crackers- definitely a unique twist on a standard butter crack. Watch your back Keebler!

This Zestuous recipe has been slightly modified

Dill Pickle Crisps

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon powdered ranch dressing mix
  • ¼ cup chopped dill pickle (2 spears)
  • 1 egg, cracked and blended for egg wash
  • 1 teaspoon flaked sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon chopped dill
  • ½ teaspoon fresh course ground black pepper

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  • Using a food processor, add the flour and softened butter and pulse until combined. Add the oil and ranch seasoning and blend again. Add in the chopped dill pickle and mix until the dough forms into a ball. Remove the dough from the processor and shape into a disk, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • Using a clean surface, a piece of parchment paper or a silpat sprinkled with flour, roll the dough to about 1/8 thickness.
  • Using a cookie cutter, cut out the crackers and peel away the excess dough. Place the cut crackers onto a parchment/silpat lined baking sheet and lightly brush the egg wash over the tops. Sprinkle with the salt, dill and pepper. Prior to baking tap each cracker with a fork to allow are to escape and your crackers to remain flat.
  • Bake in a 400-degree oven for 12 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool and enjoy!

Makes about 50 crackers, depending on the size of your cutter.

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These Dill Pickled Crisps make a great vehicle for the deviled egg dip. Can’t get much more southern then this!  Cheers to all parties, especially brunch!

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#BrunchWeek is rocking social media this week- The #BrunchWeek Hashtag was even trending on Sunday!  So awesome! Of course, we couldn’t do it without the generous sponsors!  I can’t wait to see who wins the prizes!   Big Kudos to –  California WalnutsLodge Cast Iron, Vidalia Onions-The Flavors of Summer, Black Gold Farms, the Food and Wine Conference and Sunday Supper, Bob’s Red Mill, Whole Foods Market -Orlando, and Stonyfield Organic

For a chance to win one of the amaze-ball prizes just play in the a Rafflecopter giveaway!

Just look at this great list- all offer a chance to win! and plenty to get hungry over!

I can’t wait to see whats going on at Girl in the Little Red Kitchen!

Brunch Recipes with Eggs

Asparagus and Leek Frittata by Rachel Cooks
Baked Ham and Egg Cups by Culinary Adventures with Camilla

Veggie Quiche Cups by Take A Bite Out of Boca
Asparagus and Eggs in Mornay Sauce by Noshing With The Nolands

Brunch Recipes with Potatoes

Traditional Home Fries by Sarcastic Cooking

Meat, Poultry and Fish Brunch Recipes

Chicken Pockets by Jane’s Adventures in Dinner
Turkey Dill Crepes by Kokocooks

Breads, Grains, Cereals and Pancake-type Yums

Cherry Coconut Granola by Katie’s Cucina
Brioche by poet in the pantry by poet in the pantry
Gold Goddess Steel Cut Oats by The Vintage Cook
Quick and Easy Early Morning Parfaits by Cravings of a Lunatic
Caramelized Onion & Bacon Croque Monsieur by The Kitchen Prep

Fruit and Vegetable Brunch Recipes

Warm Salad Three Ways by Cook the Story

Spreads for Brunch

Black & Blue Thyme Jam by Cooking In Stilettos

Brunch Dessert Recipes

Crumb-Top Blueberry Muffins by Love and Confections
Banana Walnut Scone (Gluten Free/Dairy Free) by Around My Family Table
Croissant & Chocolate Bread Pudding by White Lights on Wednesday
Honey Poached Pear “Sundae” by Amanda’s Apron
Strawberries and Cream Muffins by The Domestic Mama & The Village Cook

Grapefruit Rose Marmalade

My neighbor has a grapefruit tree, one that fills our backyard with the most beautiful smell.  I often just step outside only to get a sample of the intoxicating perfumed air. I’m not sure if this tree’s aroma is the rule or an exception, in any case the scent is profound.  I really don’t care for grapefruit, it’s too bitter for me, but since becoming captivated with the trees aromatics, I have tried and tried to become a fan of the ruby colored balls.  

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I’ve found that while I don’t enjoy eating a grapefruit out of its skin, I do love it’s flavor for cooking and baking.  Our neighbor leaves a sack filled with grapefruit on our front door a few times each year, which I then return to them in form of a cake or a cocktail.  This year I took inspiration from my love of marmalades and the hope of spring flowers popping up soon. 

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This recipe came from Desert Candy.  The amount of rose water seems extreme, as a few drops go a very long way when dealing with rose water, but I promise it is perfect.  The most important thing to remember is to keep the pot on a very slow simmer so it caramelizes perfectly, without burning. 

Ingrediants

  • 3 large ruby red grapefruits
  • 3 cups water
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
  • 2 tablespoons rose water

 Directions

1. Set a large pot of water to boil. Cut off the peel of the grapefruits, working to get good thick slices, but leaving the inner white pith closest to the fruit still attached to the fruit. Cut the peels into strips. Blanch the peels by submersing them in boiling water for about three minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse under running water. Bring a fresh pot of water to a boil and repeat the blanching process again, this removes any bitterness. Drain and rinse again.

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2. Place the peels in a large pot. Cut off all the white pith from the remaining fruits then, working over the pot, cut between the grapefruit membranes so that the fruit sections fall into the pot. Squeeze juice from the membranes and discard them. repeat with remaining fruits.

3. Add the water and sugar to the pot and bring to a boil, stirring to combine. Lower the heat to a very low simmer. Simmer until the marmalade is thick and translucent, about 90 minutes. The marmalade may still appear a touch watery- keep in mind it will thicken as it cools.

4. Add the vanilla bean seeds and simmer another five minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the rose water (or lemon) and set aside to cool. You could can this and process in a hot water bath or simply store in jars in the fridge.

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The marmalades combination of citrus and floral captures the beauty of spring; vibrant colors, lingering floral smells and balanced sweetness spell out spring on your plate.

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Spread it on your toast, drape it over grilled fish or chicken, make vinaigrette for the garden greens, and even cover a scoop of vanilla ice cream with it.  Spring is in the air! 

Pimento Cheese- “Southern Pate”

Pimento cheese in the south is a staple.  Every southern cook has “the best” recipe, kind of like chili, meatloaf, and BBQ sauce! 

Pimento Cheese, Pate of The South!

Southern Living recently ran a compilation of Pimento Cheese recipes from acclaimed Southern Chefs- I adapted Louis Osteen’s recipe.  I somehow feel I have an attachment to him as I had a college roommate that worked at one of his restaurants, and I walked by the namesake restaurant daily.  As a college student, I only had the opportunity to walk by Louis’s, never dine!

Pimento Cheese is a Southern Treasure!

Ingredients

  • 3 cups freshly grated sharp Cheddar cheese ( 1/2 lb.)
  • 2-oz cream cheese, softened
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon grated yellow onion
  • 1 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 3 oz whole peeled pimento, drained and rinsed

    One bite is not enough!

     

Preparation

In a food processor combine all ingredients and pulse until desired texture.  You can also use a electric mixer to blend. 

Serve with fresh breads or crackers

Yield is about 1 ½ cups

A Southern Delicacy!

 
Best with fresh baked breads or artisan crackers
 
Happy Eats Y’all! 

Florida Key Lime Pie Dip

Another dessert dip- options are good!

Key Lime Pie is my favorite “non chocolate“ dessert, I love the zip of the little key limes!

Key Lime Pie Dip

 

Key limes are much smaller (ping-pong to golfball-sized) than Persian limes, nearly spherical, thin-skinned, and often contain a few seeds. Green key limes are actually immature fruits, prized for their acidity. As they ripen to a yellow color, the acid content diminishes greatly, resulting in a sweeter fruit

When you can’t get actual key Limes the juice makes a great substitute- just get some fresh limes to be able to include zest!

Some of my favorite ingredients!

 

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 5 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • 6 graham cracker halves, crumbled
  • Zest on 1 Lime

Directions

  • Beat milk and cream cheese together until fluffy.  Add in lime juice and incorporate.
  • In a different bowl, whip the heavy cream and sugar together until you have firm peaks.
  • Fold whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture, add graham cracker and lime zest and gently combine.
  • Refrigerate until ready to serve! Fresh fruit, vanilla wafers, graham crackers, chocolate dipped pretzels all are great to serve with dip!

Serves about 10 friends.

A Florida Must Have!

 

You can use light cream cheese to if you aren’t forgoing your diet today!  🙂

Quick, Easy and Tasty

 Wish everyone a safe and happy Super Bowl  Sunday!! 

Chocolate Chip Heath Bar Cookie Dough Dip! A Super Bowl Sunday First!!!

I was born a Steelers Fan- actually born into a Steelers family, with both my parents growing up in Pittsburgh.   So I have enjoyed many Super Bowl Sunday’s- some with victories and some with bitter defeats.   Either way it is always a fun day that I look forward to every year!  Super Bowl Sunday is not just for football fans- nope, it’s a day that even the most annoyed wives can enjoy, if not the commercials or the half time show then they definitely can enjoy the food!  The best part, if the Steelers aren’t playingJ

We plan for weeks, discussions of grilling, sandwich making and pizza assembling.  We coordinate who will bring what, hopefully avoiding 5 bowls of salsa!  Magazines are filled with ridiculously tempting pictures of food, tempting enough that you wish that photograph of wings was a scratch and sniff.

Speaking of too many bowls of salsa, or a bowl of onion dip, spinach dip, ranch dip, and Grandma’s dip (are there ever too many, I’m really not so sure).  One kind of dip that has never graced any Super Bowl Party I have been to is dessert dips….What!!! 

Chocolate Chip Heath Bar Cookie Dough Dip

 

This is so quick and easy- when I say easy, I mean- Mom, you can do this!  Not to mention how terribly good it is, eat it with a spoon type of good!

I was inspired by Robyn at In a Pinch– I was floored actually!

All stuff that you can find in your pantry!

 

Ingredients

  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1¼  cup powdered sugar
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup English Toffee bits

    Who doesn't love cookie dough?

 

Instructions

  • Mix cream cheese, butter and sugars together until creamy.
  • Add vanilla and remaining chips and bits.
  • Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  • Serve with vanilla wafers, graham crackers, pretzel sticks or apples

Serves about 12 friends!

 

  • Promise...No one else will bring a dessert dip!

 

Perfect to serve at half time!

One bite is not enough!

 

Yeah…so good it hurts….

Go Giants!!!!!!!!!

Brown Turkey “Figgy” Jam

Another creation from my Alabama mother-in-law’s backyard!  As always, my eyes are bigger and badder than my stomach; therefore, I insisted on traveling home to Florida with the remaining bounty of my backyard farming.  (No surprise when I realized the life of these beauties was nearing an end.) 

I did the best thing I knew and made jam!  Images of fig jam creations danced thru my head: croissants, Greek yogurt parfaits, chicken marinates, pork belly glazes, salad dressings…etc. –  You get the idea!

Alabama Brown Turkey Figs- Roll Tide!!!!

Fresh figs are in season beginning in July in the south, and a bit later in the summer as you travel north.  Many people we ask have never tried a fresh fig, and only refer to the almighty “Newton” or a dried figs as something they’ve tried.  Well there is more to figs than the “Newton” – the flavor is night and day. A fresh ripe fig has the texture of a ripe peach, and a juicy sweetness.

This is another really easy recipe that will provide endless results.  The shelf-life is great, so no need to feel like you have to use it up right away.  It is also perfect for canning.  **Mental note to myself -must learn how to can soon!!

Figgy Jam

  • 2 ½ cups Fresh Brown Turkey Figs, quartered
  • Zest of ½ a lemon
  • Juice of ½ a lemon
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (depending how sweet your figs are you may adjust)
  • 2 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup water (depending how plump and juicy your figs are you may adjust)

Figs cooking -Simmer slowly, let the sugars carmelize

This is super simple – just put the figs, lemon zest, lemon juice, and sugars into a heavy 2 quart pot and slowly simmer.  The sugars and juices from the figs will slowly release and start to caramelize.  My figs did not release enough juice so I helped it along, with a couple of tablespoons of water at a time.  When the figs had cooked down and a nice golden brown color appeared, I removed from the pot from the stove and ran the chunky jam thru a food processor, giving a smooth spread.  Allow it to cool and keep refrigerated for 3 months.

Cooked down figs- nice caramel color!!

Fig Jam! Spreads, sauces, marintates, dressings, and even homemade poptarts!!!!!!!

Happy cooking!!

Carroll