Summertime Pasta!

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Summertime, don’t you love it 🙂

I love it when its not “humid” 😦  if you have a breeze then its not that bad, but here in the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area it seems to be humid a lot…or maybe its just that I only remember when I’m hot and humid instead of when its just hot without the humidity 😛

I recently bought some nice mini heirloom tomatoes and some oyster and shiitake mushrooms, not really sure what I was going to make when I got home but I knew I’d come up with something.

Once I got home I had some fresh spinach (from my Dad’s garden), I thought salad but then I was like I know pasta!!

I also had some fresh mozzarella, lets talk fresh mozzarella for a minute…I LOVE IT!!!

Give it to me any way and I love and for the summer once your tomatoes come up in your gardens 🙂
You can make Insalata Caprese with tomato slices, sliced fresh mozz, fresh basil, a touch of salt a drizzle of oil olive and you have it

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Now I like balsamic vinegar on mine and most of the time I only use the vinegar and no olive oil, and as I’ve said in several posts we sell a fantastic balsamic vinegar, this is so important to spend a little more money and get a good aged balsamic vinegar.  The difference will change you life…okay maybe not your life but your taste buds will be very happy 🙂 

So back to Fresh Mozzarella, it comes in many forms as you can see

sizes

For this dish I had the Ciliegine already in my fridge so that is what I used

and here is what else I put in my Summertime Pasta!!

Ingredients

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I started in skillet with a little olive oil and crushed red pepper, which you can leave out if you don’t like a little heat 🙂

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then I added my shallots and mushrooms, cooked them until a nice brown in color

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Then I added the tomatoes, some red wine & balsamic 

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I scrapped the bottom of the pan to get up all those good brown bits
Added a lid and turned it on medium low till all my tomatoes in all
their juiciness burst 🙂

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I added my cooked pasta and fresh spinach

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just tossed that through and added my fresh Mozz (ciliegine)

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and then served it right on up 🙂

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Recipe

1 pkg. spaghetti, cooked as directed
1 – 2 pounds mini heirloom tomatoes (cherry or grape tomatoes will do)
1-2 large shallots, sliced
8 oz – 12 oz mushrooms (I used oyster and shiitake)
2 tsp. fresh garlic, I wanted more garlic  so I used 9 cloves 🙂
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 – 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
3/4 – 1 cup sweet red wine***
1/4 cup good balsamic vinegar
2-3 cups packed fresh spinach
1 container of fresh ciliegine mozzarella
salt and pepper to taste

***Red Wine note – I used 100% concord grape wine, red moscato would work too, but can use red or a nice white as well, this is up to you and what you like…don’t want to add wine, add a little more balsamic and some of the pasta water to make it more saucy.

Cook pastas as directed

In a large skillet over medium heat add oil and crushed red pepper flakes if using, once oil is hot add mushrooms and shallots, cook until nicely caramelized.  
Then add tomatoes, red wine, balsamic and grated or minced garlic, stir, scrapping the brown bits off the bottom of the skillet, cover and turn on medium low.  

Once tomatoes start to soften and burst, taste for seasonings add salt or pepper if desired, drain pasta, add pasta to skillet along with spinach, toss through just as spinach starts to wilt, then fold in the mozzarella and serve!!

servings 4 to 6, cut in half for 1-3 servings.

Just look at that mozzarella melt…Love it…I hope you make this and enjoy!!!

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Strawberry Bruschetta

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A friend of mine was coming over because we were going to go see Theresa Caputo – The Long Island Medium.  She was in town doing a show, and if you know who she is or watch her show then you know who I’m talking about, no we did not get read.
But the show was much more then that, it was great experience and I’m happy for the people who came and might have gotten a glimmer of hope and peace.

And since we were not going to be having dinner, I thought maybe a little appetizer and a glass a wine before hand would be nice.

I had been thinking of this recipe and how I wanted to make it a little different then other recipes…well it came to me…maple syrup 🙂

(you can see from the pictures I cut the recipe in half, the recipe below is the full recipe)

Ingredients

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Dice the strawberries

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add balsamic vinegar and maple syrup

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add a pinch of salt and stir, let set for 1 hour

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add maple syrup to ricotta and a pinch of salt, stir

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Slice your baguette, brush with olive oil, bake to brown

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till light brown

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stack your basil leaves on top of one another, and roll like a cigar

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Chiffonade

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Ready to assemble 

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spread ricotta, then top with strawberries

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then basil….One done 🙂

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The rest done 🙂

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Recipe – makes 18 – 20 pieces

14 strawberries, diced (1 1/4 cup)
2 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. maple syrup
2 tbsp. good balsamic vinegar
 couple pinches of salt (I used Kosher)
1 cup ricotta cheese 
18 – 20 slices of a baguette
olive oil
Fresh Basil, chopped

In a small bowl add diced strawberries, vinegar, 2 tbsp. maple syrup and a pinch of salt, stir to fully coat all the strawberries, set aside for for 1 hour, stirring about every 20 minutes. You can leave longer, the strawberries will start to release their juices, this is a good thing since we will be using all the left over juice.

In another small bowl add ricotta and remaining maple syrup, along with a pinch of salt, stir to fully combine, keep in refrigerator until ready to use.

Take slices of baguette and brush with olive oil and bake on a baking sheet at 400 degrees until lightly brown.   Let cool.

Putting them together, divide ricotta among the slices of bread and spread over top, top ricotta with strawberries, but try not to get too much of the juice, you can drain, but reserve the juice for a tip later in this post.

Take you basil leaves and stack them on top of one another and roll like a cigar, take your knife and slice roll (like in photo above), this is called Chiffonade.

Top the strawberries with a few pieces of the basil and serve with the beverage of your choice…ours was some Sweet Strawberry Wine 😛

These were so delicious, what great appetizer for a party or a great dessert after a summer meal.  It’s light and it really it the spot 🙂

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Okay now I told you to keep the juice from the strawberries…which is now Strawberry Maple Balsamic Vinegar
Which you can put on a salad like I did, or you can whisk in a 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil as well and toss with your lettuce or mixed greens.
This would be great on a salad with sliced strawberries and candied pecans too!!

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Mango Avocado Salad with Balsamic Poppy Seed Dressing

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This is “Part Two” of my previous blog
“Mango Wrapped Coconut Macadamia Nut Crusted Tilapia”

I served this salad with it and I must say it just went perfectly together.

Now like I have said in a past blog I work for a local grocery chain (Remke bigg’s), and I will get products from time to time from our merchandisers.  I recently got this product, that is not out yet, but it’s

Hellmann’s  – Creamy Balsamic Mayonnaise
mayo jar

So I’ve been trying to think of something to do with it, I do like it a lot, I’ve already made tuna salad with it and it gave it great flavor.  So I was thinking about this salad that I have had before but used a creamy store bought poppy seed dressing.  And thought well why not make a “Balsamic” Poppy Seed Dressing instead…

And you know, it was really, really good I must say, along with this salad my family got to partake in the eating of the fish recipe as well, when I was putting these couple of blogs together.

Ingredients for Dressing – along with a little sugar

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add mayo, balsamic, sugar and half n half in a bowl and whisk it together

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then add the poppy seeds and mix

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Prep Mango and Avocado

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Leftover Coconut Macadamia nut crusted topping
(from fish recipe, one right before this one) I toasted it until brown

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Put a little dressing in a large bowl
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Then add your lettuce and toss with tongs to coat leaves

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I place the tossed greens on a platter,
then topped it with the mango & avocado pieces

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You can certainly serve it just like that or use the topping
if you just make the salad you can add some toasted almond slivers,
pecans or whatever  you like

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Mango Avocado Salad with Balsamic Poppy Seed Dressing

Recipe

Dressing
1/4 cup Hellmann’s Balsamic Mayo
2 tbsp. half n half
1 1/2 tbsp. aged balsamic vinegar
2 tsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. Poppy seeds

In a small bowl add mayo, half n half, sugar & vinegar, whisk to combine then add poppy seeds.  This can be kept for up to a week in a container in the refrigerator.

1 mango
1 Avocado
1 Mixed greens
1/3 cup of crispy topping

Peel and chop mango, open avocado, take seed out and scoop out fruit, chop. You may not use all the mango or avocado, its up to you and how much you want to use.  This is what I use with a whole bag of mixed greens.

In a large bowl pour in about half of dressing, then add greens, toss to coat, if you need more dressing, pour it down the side of the bowl, and toss again, this just allows the greens coat evenly.

Place greens on a platter or individual plates, then top with mango, avocado and topping then serve!!  Enjoy!!!

Spicy Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Corn & Tomato Salad

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I love using pork tenderloin, it really is a no fail meat.  This rub is nice and spicy with Cocoa and espresso powders, great for a nice thick steak as well.

I am pairing this with a Roasted Corn and Tomato Salad…hope you will try it!

Chef Amy’s Spicy Pork Rub

1 tbsp. chipotle chili powder
½ tsp. cumin
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. espresso powder
2 tbsp. cocoa powder
2 tsp. kosher salt

In a small container mix all together well, this will be enough for 4-6 pork tenderloins.  You can rub as must or as little as you want.

Pork tenderloin, fat and silver skin removed, rub spice blend all over pork, grill over medium heat, turning as needed until internal temperature registers 145 with a meat thermometer. 

Remove from heat, tent with foil and let rest for at least 10 minutes, then slice and serve with Roasted Corn and tomato salad.

Keep remaining rub in an air tight container.

Roasted Corn and Tomato Salad

3-4 ears of corn, grilled, kernels cut off (about 3 cups)
1 container of grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup queso fresco cheese, crumbled
2 tbsp. cilantro, chopped
1 tbsp. lime juice
zest of 1 lime
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
salt  and pepper to taste

If you don’t want to grill your corn, then just cut kernels off the cobs and in a large skillet over medium heat add 1 tbsp. oil, add corn and cook until soft, 3-5 minutes.  Cool corn slightly.

Whisk together lime juice, zest, vinegar and oil in a small bowl..
In a large bowl add tomatoes, corn, cheese and cilantro, toss with vinaigrette then season with salt and pepper.  Serve with Pork

Strawberry & Spinach Salad

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Strawberries are coming into season, I love this salad, its easy and delicious.

I use this balsamic vinegar that we sell in one of our stores

I absolutely love this, its aged and sweet the best I ever had, and I like that the bottle is refillable.  You buy the bottle filled for $11.99, then when you are out you can refill it for $6.99, best deal in town if you ask me.
So for me I use it all the time, oh even on vanilla ice cream, with sliced strawberries…YUM!!!

Strawberry & Spinach Salad

1 pkg. candied pecans (in nut aisle)

8 cups baby spinach, rinsed and dried, set aside
1 pound container strawberries, rinsed, hulled, cut into quarters, set aside

Vinaigrette:
In a small bowl add
¼ cup good-quality aged balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. honey or maple syrup
2 tbsp. lemon juice
¼ tsp. salt and pepper, add more to taste
whisk in ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil to emulsify

In a large bowl add spinach, strawberries and ½-3/4 cup of the vinaigrette, toss to combine.  Turn out on to a large serving plate arranging strawberries all round.  Top with glazed pecans. Pour remaining vinaigrette in a container, in case any one would want more.

You can serve this as the main entree or as a side with a frittata or quiche  Frittata recipe to come on Monday.

Have a great weekend!!