Monday, May 22, 2017

Grilled Asparagus Tart and a Giveaway. Welcome to #BBQWeek

This post is sponsored in conjunction with #BBQWeek and Michigan Asparagus. All opinions are my own. I received product to make this recipe.

Good Monday morning to all of you and welcome to the first day of our BBQ Week celebration. This party is being hosted by my friend Ellen of Family Around the Table. Ellen says:
"Welcome to #BBQWeek. Let’s fire up the grill, serve up some burgers or steaks or chicken and some delicious sides and desserts! Follow #BBQWeek so you don’t miss one delicious recipe.There are more than 20 recipes this week from some amazing bloggers."

A group of us is gathering today, Wednesday and Friday to share some amazing BBQ recipes with you. I am interested to see what we all share. You see, here in the North/MidWest region of the Country BBQ and Grilling are one and the same. This is not true of our friends down south. BBQ is whole cooking style unto it's own. We understand this now, thanks to so many wonderful Southern BBQ restaurants available country wide but, at least I, still think of anything grilled when told that we are having a BBQ event.

So while I won't be sharing any "traditional" BBQ this month, I will be sharing 3 great recipes that are perfect for throwing on the grill (or "BBQ" as we call it) this summer.

I am starting with a great Grilled Asparagus Tart using seasonal and local produce from our wonderful and generous sponsor at Michigan Asparagus. Michigan Asparagus is offering our readers a great opportunity to win a gift card and two grilling trays. You can enter at the bottom of this post. Good Luck!!

My local grocer, Kroger, has taken to sending out seasonal recipes along with their coupons. Last month I used one of them in my first attempt at making Macarons and they turned out perfectly, so I was looking forward to this month's edition. I was delighted when the very first recipe featured asparagus and immediately adapted it to fit today's theme of BBQ.

I used fresh, local asparagus instead of frozen and grilled it instead of blanching it. Using a disposable grill pan makes life very easy when grilling veggies. Toss the asparagus in some olive oil with salt and pepper, place it on the grill pan and place the grill pan on the grill....easy peasy. I stuck pretty closely to the rest of the recipe and was very glad I did because it turned out beautifully. The filling was creamy and delicious, the grilled asparagus was perfectly toothsome and savory and the crust was flaky and light. This was a perfect appetizer but would also make a lovely lunch or brunch dish with a croissant and some fresh fruit.

Make sure you stop by and see what all the others are grilling up for today's kickoff. You will find the links following my recipe.

Grilled Asparagus Tart
adapted from Kroger

1 bunch fresh local Asparagus
olive oil
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 c. shredded gruyere cheese
1 c. ricotta cheese
2 egg yolks
1/2 t. kosher salt for filling
salt and pepper to taste

Snap woody ends from asparagus stalks, discarding the woody ends and placing the tender stalks in a bowl.  Drizzle with olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Toss to coat and transfer to a grill pan.  Grill over med high flame until slightly charred and tender crisp.  Remove from grill and set aside to cool.

Roll pastry, on a  lightly floured surface, into a 10x13" rectangle.  Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet. Using the tip of a sharp paring knife make a shallow cut along each side form a 1" border, being careful not to cut all the way through.  Using a fork, pierce holes inside the inner rectangle, covering the entire area. Place in refrigerator while preparing the filling.

Whisk together the ricotta, gruyere, egg yolks, salt and a couple of grinds of cracked pepper to taste. Spread over the inner rectangle of the chilled pastry crust.  Arrange the grilled asparagus over the filling and return to the refrigerator while the oven preheats to 400*.

Bake in a preheated 400* oven for 15 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350* and bake for another 15 minutes until pastry is golden and filling is set.  Let cool for a few minutes before cutting.  Can be served warm or at room temperature.  Refrigerate leftovers.  Print Recipe

More Amazing #BBQWeek Recipes


    Thank you to Michigan Asparagus for sponsoring #BBQWeek and offering this amazing prize package.

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Fresh asparagus is the taste of spring and Michigan is one of the largest domestic asparagus growers in the United States. Michigan Asparagus is available mid-May through June and is the only hand snapped harvested asparagus which means more usable asparagus and less waste. Local Michigan farmers produce approximately 25 million pounds of Michigan Asparagus during the state's 6-7 week harvest. Michigan Asparagus has excellent flavor and a long shelf life. It is a nutrient-dense, low-calorie vegetable with no fat, no cholesterol, and very little sodium.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Chilled Avocado Shooters #SoupSaturdaySwappers

Do you consider Avocado a vegetable or a fruit?  You may be surprised to know that, not only is it a fruit, it is actually a single seeded berry.  This I learned while reading an article all about Avocados by the Huffington Post. They also said that it was one of the few high protein fruits.  That got me thinking so, of course, I googled to see which other fruits are high in protein.

It turns out, according to this article at, that avocados contain 4 grams of protein per fruit.  This is beat out only by pomegranate at 4.7 grams per fruit and passion fruit at 5.2 grams. Who knew?  Now we do.

I found this all out on Thursday evening, by the way.  I got home from choir and went onto my scheduled blog posts, noting that my Fish Friday Foodies post was all set to go.  I checked my Crazy Ingredient Challenge post and made sure the link up was included and scheduled it to go out first thing this morning.  Then I went to my Soup Saturday Swappers post, Pot Roast Stew, and went to get the code for the linkup (which, by the way, I am in charge of) and it wasn't there.  Hmmmm.....I went to my inlinkz page and saw that I had indeed made the code and went back to the month's theme of English Stews.  Nope, it still wasn't there.

That was when I noticed that English Stew was June's theme and, as you know (and I should know) this is only May.  That led me to rush to the refrigerator in a panic where I found a few shriveled strawberries, a handful of raspberries growing fuzz, 1 clementine, a kiwi, an apple, an orange and an avocado.

At least my refrigerator got cleaned out and my hens were thrilled with their extra treats of strawberries and raspberries.  Their favorite fruit is watermelon.  They can barely wait for watermelon season!

Back to the couch to find out if I remembered correctly reading that avocado was actually a fruit or if it was just wishful thinking and rejoicing because I could work on a soup Friday morning without having to run to the store.  I shut off my computer and tuned in to the Master Chef Junior finale.  I was rooting for Justise.  And she choked.....Calamity......worse Calamity than my Calamity that I shared on Thursday morning.  I watched her grab her ramekin, hot from the oven, with her bare hand and I wanted to grab that strong, brave, little darling and kiss her booboo away.  Luckily, it wasn't an elimination round.....that came next.

Spoiler alert....if you are watching and haven't seen the finale yet....stop reading now and skip to the next bolded section.

The elimination round found Justise cooking goat.  She was pretty happy with the assignment as she knew she needed to impress and making a great dish with a difficult ingredient would ensure her making the final two.  And......she nailed it!!! Coming in first with her Goat Curry made in an hour using a pressure cooker.  Jasmine, the winner of the first challenge, took the other spot in the finale.

Image result for masterchef junior

Do you watch Master Chef Junior?  These are the most impressive kids ever!!  Sometimes, I feel like it is way too much stress to put on a young child but I guess it is not much different than the stress of any other competition.

These kids are amazingly talented and very driven but they are also very kind and helpful to each other.  There is no backbiting, no disrespect, no criticism.  I wish the adults who participate in cooking competitions would take some lessons from these kids.  One of the reasons that I love our food blogging community is that you find many of the qualities that these kids have, shared among us.

Image result for masterchef junior 2017 justice

What a competition!! I would not want to put my skills up against either of these two young ladies. Nose to nose after the appetizer course, we moved onto the main course, Jerk Lobster Tail for Jasmine and Cider Braised Pork Belly for Justise.  This course went to Jasmine.....Justise needed to let her pork belly cook just a bit longer.  As I watched this final show, it occurred to me that the reason I love Justise so much is that she reminds me, very much, of my Lili.  My Lili is one of the kindest, determined,  most respectful and empathetic young women I know and Justise seems to have all those same qualities.
Image result for masterchef junior 2017 jasmine and justice

Jasmine nailed dessert. I was on pins and needles as Justise presented her panna cotta.  The judges loved Justise's dessert.  As they went off to deliberate, I was worried that Justise's main course would lose this competition for her.  The guest judges had wonderful things to say about her so that gave me a little hope.  Alas, she lost but I am very happy for Jasmine who also was a very wonderful and humble competitor and deserved this victory.

Okay, back to our regularly scheduled blog post.

The following morning I found this recipe for Chilled Avocado Soup Shots from Bon Appetit.  I thought that these would make a great appetizer or for the dinner I was serving our friends, John and Kirsten, that evening AND I had everything I need to make it work with some minor adaptations.

I used a small avocado and reduced the other ingredients to make 4 servings instead of 8.  I added some cilantro and a dash of hot sauce to the mixture and garnished with cilantro leaves instead of breadcrumbs.

You will find links to the other Fruit Soup recipes right below mine.  Enjoy!!

Chilled Avocado Shooters
Adapted from Bon Appetit

1 medium avocado
1 c. chicken stock
2 T. heavy cream
small handful cilantro leaves, reserve a bit for garnish
juice of 1/2 a lime
Sea Salt to taste
dash of hot sauce

Place the avocado, chicken stock, cream, cilantro and lime juice in a blender and puree until smooth, scraping sides as necessary.  Taste and season with salt and hot sauce.  Add more chicken stock, if needed, for desired consistency.   Chill for at least 2 hrs and up to 4 hrs before pouring into shot glasses and garnishing with cilantro leaves to serve.  Print Recipe

More Fruit Soups

Onion Cuts #CrazyIngredientChallenge

You open your basket to find....Potato Chips and Soy Sauce.....Now that is some serious sodium overload!  That is exactly the ingredients we voted to use in this month's Crazy Ingredient Challenge.

CIC is a fun little group in which the members vote from items on two lists of ingredients.  The top vote getter from each group then determines what the group will be required to use in a recipe of their choosing.  Kinda like Chopped but with only 2 ingredients instead of 4.

I decided to peruse the Lay's Potato Chip website for recipes in which I could include soy sauce and found this recipe for an onion pie. It was a very basic recipe and I knew that it would be easily adaptable to this challenge.

The pie already had a potato chip crust with a quiche like filling.  I used the soy sauce to help caramelize the onions. I used whole eggs instead of egg whites, butter instead of margarine and some Alpine Cheddar cheese that I had gotten from Cabot Creamery for another event in which I had participated.

I baked it up in an 8x8x2" pan instead of a pie pan however, next time, I will use the pie pan as I think the pie slices would make a better presentation than the cuts.  I had decided to use cuts because I made this dish as part of an appetizer table and wanted smaller bites.

These little bites were not too salty as I had feared and seemed to be well liked. Guests were very surprised when told that the crust was made of potato chips as it was evident from the looks or taste of this dish.  One of the guests requested the recipe so I always feel the dish was successful when someone wishes to recreate it.

Onion Cuts
adapted from Lays Potato Chips

2 oz. (approx. 30) potato chips
1 large vidalia onion, thinly sliced
1 t. butter
1 t. low sodium soy sauce
1 c. milk
3 eggs
1/2 c. cheddar cheese, shredded
freshly cracked pepper to taste

Crush potato chips and place in the bottom of an 8x8x2" baking pan that has been treated with cooking spray. 

Melt butter in a large skillet, add the onions and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until they start to soften.  Sprinkle onions with soy sauce and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until they are golden brown and caramelized.  Transfer to the baking pan, covering the potato chips.  Sprinkle the cheese over all.

Whisk together the eggs, milk and cracked pepper.  Pour over the onion and cheese mixture.  Bake in a preheated 350* oven for 30-35 minutes until puffed and golden brown. Let cool for 10 minutes before cutting.  Can be served warm or at room temperature.  Print Recipe

More Onion and Soy Sauce Creations

Friday, May 19, 2017

Weekly Menu as the Month of May winds down....

It has been a Merry Little Month of May around here.  I have been crazy busy.  Anniversary celebrations, Birthday celebrations, traveling, Mother's Day, hosting out of town guests for our church, hosting dinner has been non stop.

But we can kick back, relax and breathe......

The calendar is quieting down and this week there is nothing out of the ordinary happening. Sunday, our friends, Steve and Sharon are coming for dinner.  I have a church meeting Monday night.  We get to keep our Angel Face on Tuesday and Wednesday, then her mama's internship is over so our time spent with her will be changing according to her mama's new work and school schedule. Thursday is choir.  And that's it.....nothing else on the calendar...yet.  I figured I should add in that yet because chances are life will get crazy again.

Next week we are celebrating #BBQWeek and I will be sharing several dishes from last weeks menu including Asian Inspired Pork Kebabs.  I will also be sharing the Ginger Marinated Tuna Steaks that I served to John and Kirsten for dinner tonight.  We had a great evening visiting and playing Sequence. The girls won two out of three.  Are you a Sequence fan?

Image result for sequence game

So here is what I'm cooking up this week.  What's on your menu?

Pork and Asparagus Stir Fry
Steamed Brown Rice

Ginger Chicken Soup
Caprese Salad
Pan Seared Filet Mignon
Smashed Red Skin Puffs
Garlic Green Beans
Lemon Bars

Meatless Monday
Cheese Ravioli

Homemade Potato Chips

Warm German Potato Salad with Chicken Sausage

Out before Choir

Fish Friday
Summer Shrimp Scampi
Angel Hair pasta

Salmon Tartare on Crostini #FishFridayFoodies

Welcome to this month's edition of Fish Friday Foodies, hosted by Cam of Culinary Adventures of Camilla.  Cam chose the theme Raw Fish for this month asking us to share our favorite ways to eat fish raw.  She mentioned poke, seviche and tartare.  I immediately thought of Japanese because I love sushi and sashimi.  But I was intrigued by Cam's mention of tartare. I had never heard of tartare using fish.  I had only ever enjoyed it using beef.

The recipe I found for Salmon Tartare from Bon Appetit sounded wonderful so I decided I would give it a try.  I adapted the recipe very slightly and I served it with Crostini.  I did make it ahead of time and refrigerate it so it may be more of a seviche than a tartare.  Whatever you call was incredible!!!

The best part is that it is so easy, peasy to make and so impressive to serve.  It only takes a few minutes to throw together so you could certainly serve it right away.  I was having a dinner party and like to be prepared ahead of time so I made it and let it chill for a few hours before serving.

You do need to plan ahead a bit because you want to put your salmon in the freezer for about 20 minutes so that it is easy to slice.  After 20 minutes slice the salmon into pieces about 1/8" thick.  Cut each slice into 1/8" thick strips and then cut each strip into 1/8" thick dice.

Then it is simply mixing together the remaining ingredients and adding the salmon to the marinated vegetables.

That's it!  Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately or chill until ready to serve.  This was part of an appetizer table at a dinner party I hosted and it was the first to go.  

Salmon Tartare
adapted from Bon Appetit

1 (8 oz) filet, sushi grade salmon
1/4 c. finely diced English cucumber
juice and zest of 1/2 a lime
1 1/2 t. minced cilantro
1 1/2 t. canola oil
1 1/2 t. minced, seeded jalapeno
1 1/2 t. minced shallot
1/2 t. minced ginger
1/2 t. sesame oil
freshly ground sea salt and pepper to taste

Place the salmon filet in the freezer for 20 minutes.  Meanwhile combine the cucumber, lime juice, lime zest, cilantro, canola oil, jalapeno, shallot, ginger, sesame oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl.

Remove filet from freezer and cut into 1/8" slices.  You should get 5 or 6 slices.  Discard the skin. Cut each slice into 1/8" strips.  Stack the strips and cut  into 1/8" dice.  Add to the vegetables and toss to coat the salmon with the dressing.

Place into a serving bowl and serve with a side of Crostini.  

To make crostini, cut a baguette into thin slices.  Place on a cookie sheet and bake in a preheated 350* oven for 15 minutes. Flip over and bake another 12-15 minutes until toasted and brown. Print Recipe

More Raw Fish Recipes

Thursday, May 18, 2017

When your Cake is a Fail.....Just Bundt #BundtBakers

This post was originally named "Extremely Chocolatey Chocolate Cake".

It was named thus because our host, Felice of All That's Left Are The Crumbs, asked us to honor our Father's this month in preparation of Father's Day and make his favorite cake.

Pops also loved his Buddy Boy.
I'm sure they are inseparable in Heaven as they were on Earth.

When I met with the Priest to plan Pops' funeral he asked me to tell him about my Pops.  Father was new to our parish and had not gotten to know Pops very well as at the end of his life he was no longer able to attend Mass as he always had.

I told Father that Pops loved God and family most of all. That his wife of 70 years was still the apple of his eye and his devotion to her knew no bounds.  He loved to fish, play cards, drink beer and he loved chocolate!!   My Pops was a chocolate nut so I decided to make the Extremely Chocolatey Cake in memory of him.

So I made up a chocolate cake batter and added white chocolate chips and milk chocolate chips just for good measure.  Then I put it in the oven to bake.  The plan was to make a bittersweet chocolate glaze to drizzle over the top making this a quadruple chocolate treat.

Oh.....Calamity!!!  I always, always, always generously treat my bundt pans with baking spray. When I reached for it and saw that I was out, I told myself to run to the store before finishing the cake. Then, that little devil on my shoulder said "Pshaw" and "What do you think they did before the days of baking spray".  So I pulled out the shortening and the flour and I really thought that I had done a thorough job of preparing that pan......I should have run to the store.  Oh......Calamity!!!

I also thought about naming this post "Don't Trifle with Me"  because what should you do if, God forbid, this happens to you and you are having 16 guests for dinner in a few hours? 

You should do as I and "Turn that Tragedy into a Terrific Trifle".  That would have been a good name for this post as well. Simply make up some pudding.  Whip up some cream.  Crumble the rest of that Bundt and start layering.  Throw some nuts on at the end just as a reminder of the nutty day you have had.

I know that my Pops would have loved this trifle....ooey gooey chocolatey goodness in each and every bite.  My guests were crazy about it and couldn't resist going back for seconds. The "Disaster turned into a Dreamy Dessert".  This post could have had numerous names!

Extremely Chocolatey Chocolate Cake

2 c. all purpose flour
3/4 c. unsweetened cocoa
1/2 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
3 sticks butter, room temperature
3 c. sugar
5 eggs
1 1/4 c. buttermilk
1 t. almond extract
1/2 c. white chocolate chips
1/2 c. milk chocolate chips

Mix together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt in a bowl.  Set aside.  In the large bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each.  Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture alternately with the buttermilk, beating after each addition, starting and ending with the dry ingredients.

Pour batter into a 12 cup bundt pan that has been liberally treated with baking spray.  Bake in a preheated 350* oven for 1 hr and 15 minutes or until a skewer inserted removes cleanly.

Let cool in the pan on a rack for 15 minutes before removing and cooling completely.  Drizzle with chocolate glaze if desired.  Print Recipe

Should a calamity occur

Super Chocolate Trifle

1 extremely chocolatey chocolate cake (find recipe here), broken into pieces.  
2 pkgs (6 cup serving) instant chocolate pudding,  made per package directions
1 pt. heavy cream, whipped until light and soft peaks form
1/4 c. sliced almonds for garnish, if desired

Place 1/3 of the cake crumble in the bottom of a large trifle bowl.  Add 1/3 of the pudding and 1/3 of the whipped cream.  Repeat twice more ending with the whipped cream and sprinkling with almonds, if desired.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Print Recipe

More Cakes Celebrating Dad


  #BundtBakers is a group of Bundt loving bakers who get together once a month to bake Bundts with a common ingredient or theme. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme or ingredient. Host: Felice; Host blog: All That’s Left Are The Crumbs ( You can see all our of lovely Bundts by following our Pinterest board. Updated links for all of our past events and more information about #BundtBakers, can be found on our home page. And don’t forget to take a peek at what other talented bakers have baked this month:

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

"In a Panic" Cherry Peach Cobbler Bars #FantasticalFoodFight

When Sarah announced the theme for this month's Fantastical Food Fight (Cherry Cobbler) I decided I was going to do bars.  I marked it on my calendar and I even decided when I was going to make them as I was having a dinner party and decided that they would be one of the desserts that I served.

Then, as so often happens, life throws a curveball.  You know......that phone call you get letting you know that 5 people will be arriving for dinner in an hour and a half.  Oh, and by the way one of them is Vegetarian.  What do you mean, you don't know?  Of course, you know.  Everyone knows.  Oh C'mon....please don't say these things only happen to me!!

Not one to panic....I actually work pretty well under stress....I think it's a result of working as a cop for so many years.  Okay, so forget the plans of Pasta e Fagioli...let's do a Minestrone instead.  And I will just move the cherry cobbler bars from when planned to the impromptu dinner.   A quick google search finds a fast, easy recipe for cherry cobbler bars using packaged oatmeal cookie mix.  Great, that will work!!

So, I run to the store and, of course, there are no tart frozen cherries to be found.  Change of plans again.  I can still use the idea of the cookie mix.  I head over to the canned goods.  I find an organic tart cherry and peach dessert filling. Perfect.

Run home, throw together the soup.  While the soup is simmering, combine the cookie mix with butter and set a cup of it aside.  Add egg and almond extract ( I used Nielsen-Massey that I had received as a sponsor gift for another event) to the remainder and press it into the bottom of a baking pan.  Open the dessert filling, and pour it over the crust, sprinkle with the reserved cookie mixture and throw it in the oven.

Put the dishes into the dishwasher, pour yourself a glass of wine and when the guests arrive......your house smells wonderful and you are relaxed and ready to be a gracious host.  Life is good.......even if it is more of a crumble than a cobbler because in your panic you entered the wrong search engine.

Cherry Cobbler Bars
adapted from Midwest Living

1 (17 oz)  pkg. Oatmeal Cookie Mix
1 stick butter, room temperature
1 egg
1/2 t. vanilla extract
1/2 t. almond extract
1 (22 oz) jar tart cherry and white peach fruit filling

Empty package of cookie mix into a large bowl.  Cut in the butter using a pastry blender.  Remove one cup of this mixture and set aside.

Add the egg, vanilla and almond to the remaining cookie mixture and stir until well blended.  Press into the bottom of an 8x8x2" baking pan that has been treated with baking spray.

Pour the fruit filling over the bottom crust.  Sprinkle the reserved one cup of the cookie mixture over the fruit filling.  Bake in a preheated 350* oven for 45-50 minutes until topping is golden brown.

Let cool in the pan on a rack before cutting into bars.  Print Recipe

More Cherry Cobbler Creations