Blondies

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Blondies… as much as I love chocolate, blondies are pretty special! If I had to choose 1 not sure which it would be, so I always add chocolate chips to my blondies – then I get the best of both worlds.

Ingredients:
1/2 c butter, melted (1 stick)
1 c light brown sugar or coconut palm sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 c all-purpose flour
3/4 c sweetened shredded coconut flakes, loosely packed
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c white chocolate chips
1/2 c semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8-by-8-inch pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside.

In a medium microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter, about 60 seconds. To the melted butter, add the brown sugar and stir to combine. Add the egg, vanilla, and stir to combine. Add the flour, salt, and stir until just combined, taking care not to over-mix or the blondies will be tough. Fold in the coconut. Fold in white chocolate chips and pour batter into prepared pan, smoothing it lightly with a spatula or offset knife if necessary.

Bake for 23 to 27 minutes, or until edges begin to slightly pull away from sides of pan, center is set and golden, and a toothpick comes out clean; do not overbake.

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Bay Shrimp Quesadilla

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My step-mom made these for lunch today, and I have to admit shrimp quesadillas sounded a bit weird to me. She’s a great cook, so I trusted her and she was right! These were wonderful and easy!

Ingredients:
2 c shredded jalapeño jack cheese
1 c bay shrimp
1/4 tsp cumin
8 tortillas
Salsa

Combine shrimp with cumin. Lay it four tortillas, top with shrimp and cheese and another tortilla. Repeat.

Cook over medium heat about 2 minutes on each side. Cut and serve.

Serves 4.

Caprese Salad

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I know summer is finally here when I can eat Caprese salad everyday! So simple, so amazing – the fresher the tomatoes the better!

Ingredients:
2 tomatoes, sliced into 1/4 inch thick slices
2 burrata rounds, sliced into 1/4 inch slices
15 basil leaves
Capers
Olive oil
Salt
Espelette pepper

Layer tomato, basil and cheese, drizzle with oil, salt and espelette pepper.

Serves 2.

Corn Pancakes with Triple Cream Cheese

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These corn pancakes from Food&Wine are the bomb!! The cheese takes them to a whole new level. i cut the recipe in half, glad I halved it, I would have scarfed up ever last one. You need toile these now! I opted to leave out the oil and cook them on my griddle. I also doubled the corn and green onions – I’m drooling thinking about them.

Ingredients:
2 c frozen corn
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 c water
3/4 c flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 c finely chopped green onions
2 ounces triple-cream cheese, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

In a large bowl, beat the egg with the water. Sift the flour, salt and baking powder over the egg and whisk until a batter forms. Stir in the corn kernels and scallions.

Heat a griddle over medium high heat. Once hot, spoon a scant 1/4 c of the batter into the skillet for each pancake and cook over moderate heat until browned on the bottom, 1 to 2 minutes. Flip the cakes and top each with a piece of cheese. Cook until the cheese just starts to melt and the corn cakes are cooked through, about 2 minutes longer. Transfer the corn cakes to a serving platter and season with black pepper. Repeat with the remaining batter.

Serves 2.

Carnitas

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Sometimes you cook with what you got – that is how I came up with a healthier version of carnitas. The spice offers a nice heat and its great for the weekend because it is mostly hands off. I served it with coleslaw, quesa fresco, avocado and tortillas.

3 lb boneless pork loin roast, cut into 4 large pieces
2 tsp Kosher salt
4 tsp ancho chile powder
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1-2 Tbsp canola oil
12 fluid oz beer
1/2 c orange juice

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Combine spices in a small bowl. Spread spice mixture onto a plate. Evenly coat the pork pieces on all sides with the dry rub.

Heat oil in a dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add pork, sear all sides until browned. Remove pork from the dutch oven.

Pour in the beer and scrape the bottom of the dutch oven to deglaze and release the browned bits of pork. Add in the orange juice, and bring mixture to a boil.

Add in the seared pork. Cover and place in oven for 1/2 hour. Turn pork over, and return to oven–uncovered–for about 1 1/2 hours, or until the pork is fork-tender, turning the pork pieces 1-2 times.

Shred pork right into the sauce using two forks. Toss the pulled pork with the reduced sauce.

Serves 8.

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Ahi Tuna Salad

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Once again I got sushi grade ahi from my fish monger – bam! This recipe was inspired by a PAtricia Wells recipe in Salad as a Meal – I used Ahi instead of halibut. This is the perfect lunch for a hot summer day.

Ingredients:
1 lb ahi, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 avocado, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 tomato, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 jalapeño, minced
1 TBSP olive oil
1/2 c cilantro, minced
2 TBSP lime juice
Salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients into a bowl and serve.

Serves 4.

Thai Pizza

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This week it’s Thai Pizza Salad – salad because there is a salad on the pizza and its wonderful!

Preheat oven to 500, with baking steel or pizza stone inside for at least 45 minutes.

Ingredients:
Pizza Sauce:
1/4 c natural peanut butter
3 TBSP water
2 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp fish sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 inch piece of ginger, minced

Mix together and set aside.

Pizza:
8 oz chicken, cooked and cut into small pieces
8 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 red onion, thinly sliced
4 peppers cut into small pieces

Roll out dough spread with pizza sauce, chicken, onions, peppers and cheese.

Bake for 8 – 12 minutes until crust is crispy and cheese is melted.

Salad:
1 c shredded carrot
1 c shredded cabbage
4 scallions, sliced thin
Cilantro

Combine:
1.5 TBSP lime juice
1 TBSP canola oil
1/2 TBSP fish sauce

Toss salad with dressing.

Remove pizza from oven. Cut into slices then top with salad.

Serves 4.

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Eggplant with Tomato Sauce and Ricotta

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Eggplant, tomato and cheese – three of my favorite things! I roasted the eggplant, filled with some fresh ricotta and then topped with a quick tomato sauce, fresh basil and some ricotta salata – heaven. Serve with a crusty loaf of bread and your set for dinner.

Ingredients:
Tomato Sauce:
1 28 oz can tomatoes
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
1 tsp celery seed
Salt
Red pepper flakes

Combine all of the above in sauce pan and cook for 40 minutes over low heat. Mash up the tomatoes and keep warm.

Eggplant:
4 small eggplants, cut into 1 inch thick rounds
Olive oil spray
Salt and pepper
4 oz fresh ricotta cheese
Basil leaves
2 oz ricotta salata

Preheat oven to 450.

Spray a baking pan with olive oil. Place eggplant on baking pan, season with salt and pepper and spray with olive oil. Roast for 20 minutes until they start to brown. Flip and roast 20 minutes on the other side.

Remove from oven and place a dollop of ricotta on each round. Bake for 10 more minutes.

Top with sauce, torn basil leaves and ricotta salata.

Serves 4.

Fig and Almond Gratin

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Patricia Wells comes up with the best recipes – seriously never had a bad one from her!! This is another winner! The thyme sugar is what really takes this over the top! I’m going to use it my ice tea too!! It’s gluten free!!!

Ingredients:
2/3 c creme fraiche
4 springs thyme
4 eggs
1/2 c sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 c finely ground almonds
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
2 lbs figs, stemmed with X cut half way through the figs

Thyme Sugar
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp thyme leaves

Preheat oven to 375. Spray a 10 1/2 inch round baking dish.

In a small pan, combine thyme sprigs and creme fraiche. Cook over moderate heat until it starts to bubble. Cover and remove from hear. Let steep for 1 hour. Remove stems.

Whisk together eggs, sugar and salt at high speed for 3 minutes until think. Stir in almonds, vanilla and creme fraiche.

Pour 1/2 the batter into the pan and bake for 10 minutes.

Arrange figs over the batter. Pour remaining batter over fruit and bake 30 minutes.

Prepare the thyme sugar by combining sugar and thyme in a spice grinder and grinding to a fine powder.

Remove from oven, sprinkle with sugar and bake 10 minutes.

Serves 8.