Decadent Caramel Covered Strawberries

June 27, 2010 by Katie  
Filed under Dessert, Featured Recipes, Seasonal

I know I’m not the only one out there with a serious sweet tooth. Right around 3 ‘o clock everyday I start to crave something chocolatey. Normally, chocolate-covered strawberries are one of my favorite deserts, but it’s obviously not something I would whip up on a weeknight. Then, I stumbled across this recipe on the Steamy Kitchen Blog.  The idea of using caramel as an alternative to chocolate is pure genius, and the peanuts add a nice textural addition as well. The best part is that this comes together in less than 10 minutes and uses just 4 ingredients that you can find at any grocery store.

This is the perfect recipe to wow your friends and family. Take it to your next birthday party, baby shower, BBQ, whatever and you can bet everyone will be asking for the recipe!   If you want to take this desert to the next level, sprinkle some sea salt over the caramel once it’s melted.
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Couscous Stuffed Tomatoes

When I found out that Oprah was holding an open casting call/audition for her new “Own” television station, I couldn’t wait to apply!  I’ve spent the majority of my life dreaming and telling everyone my grandeur ideas.  But, I have a bad habit of not following through with those aspirations.  This year, I decided to turn over a new leaf and take action.  No more wasting time dreaming about what could be.  Instead, I want to take the steps to make those dreams a reality.

In order to portray who I am while showing my culinary point of view, I had to come up with a recipe that would essentially be “Katie on a plate” (in less than 3 minutes!)  With my food, I really value using seasonal, local ingredients in recipes that are packed with flavor yet still healthy (without being diet food).  For my featured recipe, I wanted to come up with something that utilized seasonal vegetables with other ingredients you can find at any grocery store.

I love these tomatoes because you can mix up the stuffing and use tons of different ingredients to switch up the flavors.  They work great paired with a salad for a light summer dinner, or you can make a big batch as a side dish for a large crowd.

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Zucchini Couscous Cakes

June 21, 2010 by Katie  
Filed under Appetizers, Salad & Veggies, Seasonal, Vegetarian

Technically speaking, spring officially started a few weeks ago. It didn’t really feel like it was here though until this last weekend filled with sunshine and blue skies. Even though Jason and I were stuck working, it seemed like everyone else was really enjoying the change in weather. We’ve spent the last few years supplying everyone else with their toys and our busiest days in the shop are often those 75 degree days where everyone wants to rent paddleboards, buy a trainer kite, or demo a longboard. It seems like the only time we get a breather is on those gray, drizzly days when the rest of the world is smart enough to stay home. Luckily for me, i’m more than happy holing up in my kitchen on those rainy days and braising a big chunk of meat til it falls of the bone.

But I digress. My whole point was that yes, spring is finally here. To me, that means making the transition to light, healthy cooking with all the fresh seasonal produce cropping up. These couscous cakes epitomize spring freshness. This recipe is a variation on the couscous cakes in Fine Cooking Mazagine issue No. 37. You can fill them with any type of veggie you love. I made these with whole wheat couscous so they were extra healthy (it’s actually all I had in my pantry to be honest) and filled them with zucchini, garbanzo beans and almonds. A simple salad played a supporting role while a roasted red pepper sauce brought the cakes to life.

The best part about these couscous cakes is that they’re not only a showstopper but you can fry them up and keep them warm in a warm oven while you put together the rest of your dinner.

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Cinnamon Spiced Bacon Waffles

June 20, 2010 by Katie  
Filed under Breakfast

My waffle obsession really started just before Jason and I were married. As a gift, my Grandma Joan gave us what we call a “waffle stick maker” that basically makes waffles in individually little sticks. Suddenly we were whipping up waffles for breakfast two or three times a week. I think you all have figured out by now that we eat pretty well in the Clack house. With pre-packaged waffle mix, there’s no excuse to not be making waffles more often!

Normally I’m happy with just smothering peanut butter all over my plain waffles with bacon on the side. But when I saw Giade De Laurentiis actually put bacon inside her waffle batter, I just about died and went to heaven. What a genius idea! I made a few tweaks to her recipe and this is what I came up with. The sugar helps bring all the other flavors to life without being overly sweet. In just 15 minutes you can enjoy an easy homemade recipe that will win over any guest.

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Prosciutto-Wrapped Halibut on Rosemary Skewers

June 17, 2010 by Katie  
Filed under Seafood

I can’t figure out why I’m having such a writer’s block when it comes to this post. Afterall, these prosciutto-wrapped halibut skewers are one of my top ten favorite things to make. Maybe that’s why. I’m struggling with finding the right words to capture how truly delicious these are. I should probably invest in a thesaurus. : ) These skewers are too awesome for words! They are the reason I counted down the days until halibut season opened last month. If you like to cook seasonally like me, now’s the time to buy halibut.

There’s a few philosophies I have about food and cooking that will become evident in a short amount of time. I’ll share one of the most important ones with you tonight since it’s relevant to the recipe.

#1. When in doubt, wrap it in bacon, prosciutto or pancetta.

Simple as that. You know how Bubba from “Forrest Gump” was the king of shrimp? “Shrimp salad, shrimp soup, bbq shrimp”….and he went on and on. Well that’s like me and bacon. I know this isn’t some revolutionary concept. Obviously everyone knows that salty pig fat is to-die-for, but I don’t think most of you embrace this food truth to the extent that I do. It provides that savory richness known as umami and is one of the elements that fuels my love of cooking.

Whenever I’m uninspired for dinner or feel the need to impress my guests, I wrap something in prosciutto and call it good. Some things I make are hit-or-miss, but I know without a doubt that anything wrapped in pig-fat will end up devoured by my meat-loving friends. So don’t be surprised when you start to see this common denominator start to crop up throughout my posts. Pancetta-wrapped pork loin, bacon-wrapped tequila shrimp, prosciutto-wrapped roasted pears with arugula….the list goes on.

Disclaimer: I’m all about eating healthy too. The trick to taking care of your body while eating bacon wrapped foods is simple. Don’t gorge yourself! Eat in moderation. Make sure the other 2/3 of your meal is comprised of fresh vegetables and whole grains. Also, because of the potent flavor that these pork products offer, you end up eating much less of it overall than you would something with a more muted flavor like ground beef.

I hope you’ll use the fresh rosemary skewer idea and run wild with it. Don’t be surprised when they take average veggie kabobs to the next level.
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Home-Made Guacamole Recipe

June 17, 2010 by Katie  
Filed under Appetizers, Featured Recipes, Vegetarian

I can’t believe tomorrow is Cinco de Mayo! If I was actually on top of things enough to know what day of the week it is (hard to keep track of when you don’t get a traditional weekend), I would have thrown something together a few close friends. I can’t think of a better holiday. Afterall, there isn’t a single person I know who doesn’t love Mexican food. Tequila on the other hand seems to be a little hit-or-miss, especially if you’re one of the many people who had one of “those” nights where you can’t even smell Tequila without gagging.

Cinco de Mayo is often confused with Mexico’s Independence Day which is actually September 16th. In reality, Cinco de Mayo commemorates Mexico’s victory over the French in 1862’s Battle of Puebla. Arguably, the fifth of May seems to have taken on greater meaning in the US than it has south of the border. Regardless though, it’s a day of national pride for hispanics, and a day where the rest of us show our respect and appreciation for their culture.

Jason and I are lucky enough to spend a good chunk of our time in Mexico in a little fishing village called La Ventana. We fell so hardcore in love with the area, we laid down our savings and purchased a little chunk of land. And after three years of sweat, landscaping, cinder block lifting, and more than a few pokes from all the cacti, we even have a casita we can call home. If I had it my way, we’d spend the entire winter down there. Everyone in the town is so friendly and welcoming. The more you give to them, the more you get in return. And I don’t mean material things. I mean getting to know the locals, smiling, waving as you pass by, respecting their culture and so on.

Where we are, the guacamole is often just a bowl of watered down green liquid that resembles avocado only in color. Great for drizzling over fish tacos but not something you can really mound on top of a tortilla chip. This is basically my mom’s recipe that’s been passed down to me. It doesn’t get any better than this. So even if you can’t make it out to your neighborhood taqueria, do me a favor and make this guacamole recipe. You can thank me later!

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Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Maple Glaze

June 17, 2010 by Katie  
Filed under Breakfast, Dessert

I can’t take credit for this recipe unfortunately, but Miss Ina Garten can! You probably know her as the Barefoot Contessa. I have most of her cookbooks and they’re perfect for finding foolproof recipes. If I’m looking to make one of the classics like lasagna or lemon meringue pie, she’s the first one I turn to. In fact, I can credit her with helping me build the foundation for my cooking.

This particular coffee cake has been a staple in my repertoire for years now. It was a hit back then and still doesn’t disappoint. The sour cream keeps it incredibly moist, and the walnut streusel in the middle adds the perfect amount of sweetness. A little maple glaze drizzled over the top doesn’t hurt either. Unlike most baking recipes, this one calls for using cake flour which you probably don’t have hanging out in your pantry but not to worry. There’s an easy substitute. It really does make a huge difference in keeping the coffee cake nice and light. Regular flour would result in a tough cake.

I hope you try this one, let me know how you like it!

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BBQ Oysters with Garlic-Sherry Butter Sauce

June 17, 2010 by Katie  
Filed under Appetizers, Seafood

If actions speak louder than words, and a picture is worth a thousand words…well then I must be a chatterbox! Truth is, I’ve never been that good with words. There are so many people out there who I admire that have the most amazing voice and tone with their writing. Me, on the other hand, not so much. In fact, when it comes to any sort of confrontation, I shrink into a blubbering idiot. I’m much more comfortable letting my actions do the talking for me. And that means letting my food speak for itself.

This is another dish that really defies words. Mostly because you’ll be too busy cramming these into your mouth to bother with speaking. Why waste precious time talking (or in my case typing) when you could be slurping the sweet garlic-butter out of the oyster shells?

My rockstar sister-in-law Megan is the mastermind behind this recipe. She’s always entertaining at her house and this is the go-to appetizer that wows her guests every time. So you can rest assured that if you make this at the next BBQ you go to this spring you’ll be a rockstar too.

Oh and if you thought you didn’t like oysters before, I guarantee this will change your mind. Heck, I’d eat rocky mountain oysters if they were smothered in garlic-sherry butter and cheese.

Here’s some tips for the Oyster Newbie
-Try to buy them the day you’ll be eating them
-Store them on ice in your fridge
-smaller oysters are more tender
-if the oyster is already open before you start, discard it b/c it’s probably either dead or may carry unhealthy bacteria
-rinse the sealed oysters under cold water and scrub them to remove dirt
-they’re excellent with a bubbly glass of champagne!

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Rosemary & Strawberry Scones with Lemon Glaze

June 17, 2010 by Katie  
Filed under Breakfast, Vegetarian

Yesterday I stepped out of my comfort zone. Sundays cause a sort of unexplainable gravitational pull towards my oven. It’s like someone declared Sunday to be baking day and I’m not complaining. To be completely honest though, baking has always terrified me. Just the idea that everything has to be so exact and measured out sends me into a state of panic. What if I overmix the dough? How do I know when it’s overmixed? How much do I need to knead the dough? The questions go on and on. I’m much more comfortable sticking to the stove top.

But once in a blue moon, I just HAVE to bake something. Maybe it was the drizzly Seattle Sunday afternoon that made me want to hunker down and be all domesticated. I saw a Giada DeLaurentiis recipe for strawberry scones with rosemary in the dough and it was right up my alley. I can’t believe how easily it all came together too. I took these photos so you could see each step of the process. Since I don’t bake often, I had to improvise on a few things. For instance, I found out yesterday that i don’t own a rolling pin. Oh well, I just floured up an empty wine bottle and used that instead.

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