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Watermelon Feta And Mint Salad!

IMG_0412OK I actually thought…..Uh Weird! cheese and watermelon but when you think of Apples and cheese or pears and cheese you’re like “move aside I need that cheesy fruit combo”, am I Right??
Well this is the now “go to bring along to anything dish ” for me, My husband is kind of over it. It couldn’t be easier to make and I’ll prove it!

WHAT YOU NEED :
1 small Watermelon, of course…. (try to make sure it is not over ripe, if it is really soft and really dark pink it may be a little on the old side so stick to bright pink and firm. If you buy it cut in half  you can see it.
8 Oz’s Feta Cheese – go crazy, buy a good one. A Greek one in water would be nice- just make sure to drain and rinse in gently.
1 fresh lime – not the ones with brown spots on them, bright green with a fresh bright scent, I actually like extra lime so you can add another if you want.
2 Tablespoons Fresh Mint chopped – sweet mint is the best there is a difference with spearmint, peppermint etc. You can tear a few extra for garnish too.
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WHAT YOU DO:
Cut the watermelon into 1 inch cubes -approximately or bite size – no need for a ruler.
Place it gently in a larg serving bowl – you know me, I like white.
Squeeze Lime over the watermelon and very gently fold them
Sprinkle over mint and crumble feta cheese but do not toss until you are serving on the plate.

This a light refreshing salad with a bite of salt and hint of mint, Your guests will love it and your husband will get sick of it!
Enjoy -T

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So Here We Sit, My little Lemon Tree & Me

So we were out shopping and that is the first problem  with my husband… My husband and I saw a little Meyer Lemon tree and I told my husband I had to have it!…. He of course told me I don’t need one and it is not on the list. SO I spent the remainder of the trip around the garden center complaining that “they never have these, they are rare, I looked them up last summer and I was going to order one on line but I just didn’t”…. “look that lady already is getting one of them and there are only 6 there!!!!” He said “they will have them when we come back next time”. I quickly followed with “but they won’t, they didn’t last year and I really want to get one!, I will go ask” so I ran over to the sales person, “uh excuse me….there are a few Meyer Lemon Trees over there and there are only 6…well now only 5, Are you going to get more of them” and they said “No we don’t ever have those, I think it is a 1 time thing”. Ah ha! “See! They will never have them again, ever!! I will never get the lemon tree I have always wanted, I read about how to bring them in for the winter too”
Herb….”FINE, (sowered face and stern no longer happy voice) put it in the cart- then that is it, no vegetables or anything else you wanted” -Me… “Ok all I want is a lemon tree and I want to write a blog about it”

So here we sit my little Meyer Lemon Tree and me. It is late afternoon and the sun is going down over the willow but not below the hedges. The sun is finally warm……

It was an awful winter. I really cannot remember why I stay here in the cold until the Spring pops up and days like this make me feel like Ahhh the is what Newport is. The smell of the salt in the air from the Ocean breeze, the birds chirping the water fall in the koi pond splashing into the bottom, Ive got the Bridge to the left of me and the lemon tree to the right, Here I am stuck in the middle.

The flowers are now starting to bloom and I am so excited, they are pink when they are buds and then yellow when they open.

3 week old and here is what we have: I will make recipes with my Myer Lemons so do not worry I have not branched out in to just writing!

T

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This is SERIOUS!

Really….this is above and beyond what a good dessert tastes like. Danielle, our friend said it is the “Its sweet but not too sweet.  Soooooo yummy and to me it tastes like a mix between Summer (with the strawberries) and Fall (with the cinnamon and honey graham crackers)” And she pretty much nailed it! That is exactly what it tastes like.

This was dreamed up when I got my first order of “WECK” jars. They are the most beautiful canning jars ever. If you want them order them from the WECK site on line they are way more affordable there then on other sites.
Now lets get to it…..this takes a little work but is the most impressive yet. Not only that, they are awesome to bring anywhere for anything and definitely to show your skills on making Drop Dead Delicious Desserts.
What to call it though??? “PARFAIT” isn’t really accurate but gives you an idea of what to expect,  “CHEESECAKE”…kind of but no eggs and no baking, “TRIFLE” is close but not quite right, “FRUIT LAYERED DESSERT” sounds boring but again gives you an idea of what’s coming but, Meh……

“Vanilla Bean creamy rich decadent cheese cake folded with fresh whipped cream fresh fruit and graham cracker cinnamon honey crazy deliciousness”

Yep that sounds about right. But use Trifle if you want, it’s easier.
This makes a lot so you can HALF THE RECIPE  but I wanted to have a bunch to give and I think I ended up with 8 or 9 and they are gone! 2 days ago & they are gone!!
If you do not have canning jars/mason jars you can use a Trifle dish. You want something glass and see through so the beauty of this dish is fully visible.

WHAT YOU NEED:
6 cups fresh fruit cut up in to bite sized pieces ( I did strawberries, Raspberries and Mangos but they sky it the limit, i wish i had done peaches too)
8 12 oz Weck or mason jars
2 Cups Plain greek yogurt (16 oz container)
1 Cup Sour Cream
16 oz container/tub Cream Cheese (room temp)
8 oz Marscapone Cheese (room Temp)
2 Cups Heavy cream (for whipped cream & simmering vanilla)
2 Vanilla Beans (fresh, soft)
1 Cup Sugar
1/4 Cup Light Brown Sugar
1/4 Cup Confectioners Sugar (powdered)
1/2 Cup Honey
1 Stick melted butter
1 2 to 3 inch Cinnamon Stick
1 Nutmeg (fresh nugget)
2 Packages Graham Crackers (20 full size crackers)

WHAT YOU DO:
Several of these steps can be done ahead of time if you like and then put together at the time you are ready to create your masterpiece.

First lets start with the yogurt…..
Using a cheese cloth strain the yogurt to remove the excess water. Simply put the yogurt in cheese cloth and tie it with kitchen twine then hang over a pot. If you look at the photos you will see I tied it to a wooden spoon and hug it over a large pasta pot. You can do this way ahead but it will work well if you can strain it for an hour or so. This makes the mix it nice and thick!!

The Vanilla….
`Cut the 2 Vanilla beans lengthwise and scrape with the back of your knife.
`In a small sauce pan heat 1 cup of heavy cream with the 2 Vanilla beans and seeds and 1/2 cup of sugar on LOW. Simmer for 10 minutes to melt the sugar and release all the Vanilla flavor into the cream. Do not let it BOIL just heated through.
`Set aside to cool completely the refrigerate for a 1/2 hour to get it cold. (adding warm ingredients will deflate the whipped cream and melt the cheese and that will not work).

Next lets do the “crust”…..
`In a food processor grind up the Graham Crackers until they are crumbs.
`Put them in a big bowl
`Using a Microplane grate the cinnamon stick until you have about 2 teaspoons in with the graham crackers. This is going to be the hardest part of this recipe, use your muscles….it’s takes a bit of energy but this is really important. The taste of fresh grated cinnamon is very different then the pre-powdered stuff. It has a lot more depth of flavor and a richness.
`Using the same Microplane grate in about 4 or 5 grates of fresh nutmeg (too much will add bitterness so just about a good “pinch”)
`Add in the melted butter, the 1/2 cup of honey and 1/4 Cup light Brown sugar and mix until all the ingredients are incorporated.
`In a large pan “toast” the Graham Crackers until brown on Medium heat, keep an eye on them and mix them in the pan to ensure even browning. (If you don’t have a pan big enough you might have to do it in batches. It should look like damp sand.
`Let them cool, they will become dry and crunchy while they sit.

On to the Whipped cream….
`Using a cold bowl makes the cream whip faster. Stick it in the freezer for 5 minutes.
`In the cold bowl add the remaining cup of Heavy Cream and 1/4 cup confectioners Sugar.
`Whip until it is nice and thick and has stiff peaks (with a hand mixer it should only take about a minute or two). Set aside

The Cheese Mixture……
`In your largest bowl add in Cream Cheese, Sour Cream, Marscapone Cheese, Yogurt and mix very well, there should be no lumps. I used a hand blender to quicken the process but if you are Popeye you can certainly whisk it by hand. This is why it is necessary for all the cheeses to be a room temperature.
`Once the cheeses are combined add in the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and incorporate.
`Strain the Vanilla Beans and Cream from earlier (that has cooled) and add to the cheeses and blend in.
`The last step on the cheese mixture is to FOLD in the fresh whipped cream. This will make the mixture rich like cheesecake but have a lighter, less dense-ness  about it.
`To fold, add in the whipped cream and using a rubber spatula cut down the middle and pick up at the side and fold over. Each time turn the bowl a quarter of the way around.
~Once it is folded in (NO MORE THEN 10 Times) stop. The idea is to make it light and airy. If you mix too much it will deflate the texture and will be “all not not”. If you re totally lost on “folding” you tube it and watch a video.

Now the Last step is to put everything together….
`Starting with one of the Jars, put in about 2 table spoons of the Graham Cracker Crumbs
`Spoon in about 2 Tablespoons of the Cheese Mixture (Adjust amounts based on your jars or dishes-if you are using a trifle dish layer crumbs, cheese, fruits and then back to crumbs)
`Top with fresh fruit
`Repeat
`I did all different versions to make it more interesting but the basics are layer one of each layer and repeat!
Be sure to package with some ribbon and bring in a nice basket to wherever you are going.
I really hope you enjoy and really hope you make this, it is a wonderful dessert to share and eat.


-T


ROOM WITH A VIEW

When we first bought our house, we knew we were close to the water, obviously. But when the deck went on a few years back it really turned out to be SPECTACULAR! Tonight was no exception.
We also cut out part of the wall of the kitchen staircase that shows the original stained glass window that came with the 1897 beauty (we could see the potential) that frames the picture perfect sunsets we seem to have every night. The Newport bridge that connects us to the “Mainland” seems as if it is in our back yard. So I find my self dropping my spatula and pushing the pans off the flame to run out and take pictures every night. About once a year we also get treated to an incredible display when the Navy sets off fireworks at the end of summer it’s like they are setting them off just for us. SO I wanted to show you one of the reasons why I love to be in the kitchen, My view. Even the gray clouds and the dark storms look beautiful. Hope you enjoy -T

HERBS ON ICE

Not long ago I did the Basil Ice Cubes Basil Ice Cubes and I wanted to show you more!!
These are even less work if you can believe it and had the same reward, fresh herbs in winter. Ok not totally fresh but you get the idea.

WHAT YOU NEED:
Fresh herbs of any kind
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Ice Cube Trays
Plastic Wrap

WHAT YOU DO:
~Pack herbs into the ice cube trays
~Fill each section with olive oil
~Use a chop stick or knife and gently press down all around the cube to make sure all the air is out and the herbs are covered.
~Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the herbs and oil, this keeps air out
~Wrap the trays really well with more plastic wrap and place in freezer for 12 hours.
~To remove slide a sharp knife along the sides and it will pop up and you can put in labeled Ziplocks for quick access.

These come in really handy and take no time at all to do. Hope you enjoy!
T

The Grill Is Gone, The Grill is Gone Away……..

But the THRILL is still here thanks to the Grill Pan!

The grill had seen its last Ribeye, although that may not be entirely true. I saw it go by in the back of someone’s truck yesterday when I was out running errands…. Apparently it was poached from the street where it was waiting for the garbage guys. Hopefully it has a little life left in it after all.
Grilled Peaches & Figs with Balsamic & Blue cheese Part 1
This is such a sophisticated dessert but totally easy and delicious.
Because it was so awesome I decided to keep on the Sweet & Savory path and make another grilled peach dish for tomorrow,  I will post that one next.
WHAT YOU NEED:
This is per person:
1/2 of a ripe peach (the more ripe the more juicy so you can do it anyway you like, mine was just ripe and still firm)
4 Mission Figs dried (what I have) or fresh
1 heaping Tablespoon crumbled Blue Cheese
1 Tablespoon Balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon honey
pinch of sea salt
1 Teaspoon olive oil

WHAT YOU DO:
~Preheat your grill pan (feel free to use a real grill) on med/high heat.
~Slice the peaches in half and remove the pit.
~Slice the figs in half as well.
~Lightly brush the cut side of the peaches and figs with olive oil, just slightly you don’t want to add flavor or to make the pan smoke like crazy.
~Place peach oiled side down in the hot grill pan.
~While they are grilling add the figs placing them in the pan cut side down too. They just need to be warmed.
~It takes about 3 minutes to get the grill marks on the peaches, you can tell by looking at the edges, they will start to show a little bit of the brown right at the raised part of the pan.
~try not to move them at all because it will mess up the grill marks and that is what you are looking for.
~Once they are done carefully remove them with tongs and a spatula. Be careful lifting, you don’t want to leave the grill marks behind (they can stick so that is why you brush them with the oil first)
~Remove the figs and set aside
~Place the peach half grill marks up on a plate and place the figs in a purposeful pile so you can see their grill marks too. (I tried putting them all around the plate and it didn’t look right because they are dark)
~Crumble the tablespoon of Blue Cheese onto the peach and in the small space from the pit. Don’t over load it.Cover with a piece of foil for a couple minutes to start to melt the blue cheese (optional)
~Drizzle a tablespoon of honey over the cheese and a little on the figs and serve the Balsamic Vinegar on the side with a tiny spoon, this is for a few reasons….1-people can control the amount they put on,  2-Balsamic is brown and unless reduced and thick it doesn’t look pretty for presentation,  3- it looks nice with the little  tiny bowl and spoon,  4-it makes the Eater part of the experience 🙂
~Lastly garnish with some mint and sprinkle with a very light pinch of sea salt to really enhance the flavors!
ENJOY – T

BEST-O PESTO

So I’ve been really slacking lately! This weather has me avoiding the office and I went away so…. that’s my excuse and I hope you accept it. However, I have been cooking…..
I decided to make PESTO to bring to a dinner we went to. They made amazing Egyptian food! What a treat for me!!

This is a quick fix and a super impresser!
WHAT YOU NEED:
3 cups fresh basil leaves (packed in)
1/2 Cup toasted walnuts (pine nuts are great here but a little on the pricy side)
1 Cup fresh Parmesan cheese (very important)
1 to 2 cloves garlic (minced or micro-planed)
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup Olive Oil (more or less to get desired consistency)
fresh cracked pepper

WHAT YOU DO:
Cut the cheese into small cubes or grate it in to the food processor.
Add in the basil, walnuts, pepper, garlic and lemon.
Turn the processor on and add in the olive oil a little at a time to smooth.
I like it to be like a peanut butter texture but you can do it to your liking.

Serve with fresh tomato & mozzarella or spread on a sandwich…..DELICIOUS
P.S. Thanks for the toothpicks mom

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