Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Warm Goat Cheese - Updated

We loved the Salmon Salad that I made the other day so much that we made it again!  This time I googled warm goat cheese and got a little bit closer to what I remember from the restaurant.

The secret seems to be to dip the cheese rounds into egg, press it gently into the panko and then refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.

Goat cheese after a quick swim in an egg dip and then panko.
Ready to cool off in the refrigerator

I sprayed the pan with some cooking spray and let it get medium hot, then added the cold goat cheese and Wha La!  Goat Cheese yumminess!
Yummy, just slightly melty, golden brown, warm goat cheese!

A perfect addition to a weeknight feast!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Back to School Rush = Few Feasts and Fewer Fabrics

The Back to School craziness has seriously interfered with my creative juices and there hasn't been much output in the way of feasts or fabrics here.  The kiddies are all settled now in their schools/jobs and, as of today, I am back to school too...

Back to the school routine means less time to immerse myself in sewing projects, but I am determined that this year I will make time to sew a little bit each week.  I still have several late summer sewing projects for myself that I want to finish up and then the roman blinds for the breakfast nook that have been waiting years for me to finish.

The next big event in our family is my mother's birthday party.  My sister, daughter and I have been busy with pinterest gathering ideas for decorating tables, food, etc. and have started to pull it all together this week.

Here's a little sneak preview of the colors and table settings.

We're going with a "Night in the Garden" Theme
So what do you think?  Like?  I was excited to find the bamboo forks and knives.  I think they are a bit of a step up from plastic, no?  I'll post more pictures as we get closer to the event!

I'm sad to say goodbye to the summer, but happy to get back to my other passion - teaching.  If only school could start just a bit later in the day...I am sooo not a morning person!

Hope the end of your summer is filled with friends, family, and whatever else makes your heart sing!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Favorite Salmon Salad Copycat

My favorite salad at one of our local restaurants is the Salmon Salad with Warm Goat Cheese.  We had a busy - but oh so fun - weekend (We saw Barry Manilow in concert Friday and then saw Mary Chapin Carpenter last night.)   With two late nights and low energy levels my husband and I were both feeling that a light dinner was in order.  It seemed like the perfect night to attempt to recreate my salmon salad.

Salmon with warm goat cheese salad...Yum!
Although it wasn't exactly the same as the one from the restaurant, it was pretty close and probably 500 calories less!  This is one of those salads that you can add whatever you have on hand and it will probably taste delicious. I wanted to keep it simple (We must be getting old because two late nights wiped us out!) so I wimped out and used bottled dressing - one less step.

Here is the basics of what I did:

Salmon Salad with Warm Goat Cheese Salad

2 Small Salmon filets
Montreal Steak Seasoning
1 cup green beans (Cut into 2 inch pieces)
5 small red potatoes, quartered
Olive Oil
1/2 large ripe tomato (Chopped)
6 pitted no sugar added dates (roughly chopped)
3 cups torn Romaine lettuce
1 cup torn red leaf lettuce
2 -3 Tbsp Paul Newmans light Balsamic dressing (I go on the light side here)
1/4 cup Goat Cheese
2 Tbsp Panko Bread Crumbs

1.  Par boil the potatoes until almost tender, remove from water with a slotted spoon.  Put them in a bowl and toss lightly with olive oil.  Grill on a grill pan over medium high heat until potatoes are tender on the inside and slightly crisp on the outside
2.  Add the green beans to the hot potato water and cook until just crisp-tender.  Remove them from the hot water and immerse in ice water to stop the cooking and keep that nice bright green color.
3.  Lightly sprinkle both sides of the salmon filets with montreal steak seasoning and cook to taste.  Here is a good guide for grilling times: Salmon Grilling Times
4. In a large bowl toss the lettuce, tomato, dates, green beans, potatoes, and salad dressing.  
5.  Spread the salad mixture on a plate or large bowl and top with the grilled Salmon and warm goat cheese.

--Serves 2

...Yes...I did not tell you how to do the warm goat cheese.  That would be because my attempt at warm goat cheese did not go as planned.  It was ok, but not as yummy as the warm goat cheese at the restaurant.  The cheese started to melt too soon and then it stuck to the pan so I had to sort of scrape the bread crumbs off the pan and restick them to the goat cheese.   Here is what I did and what I think I would try next time...

Warm Goat Cheese - for Attempt #2

1.  Form the goat cheese into disks about 1/2 inch thick and 1 1/2 inches in diameter.
2. Spread the panko crumbs onto a small plate and press both sides the goat cheese disk into the crumbs.
3.  Here is what I didn't do that I will do next time...Refrigerate the goat cheese for about 30 minutes (I think if the goat cheese starts out really cold, the bread crumbs will have time to brown before the cheese melts and gets all sticky and gooey.)
4.  Lightly spray the crumb covered goat cheese disks and place them in a hot non-stick skillet until the coating is golden and the cheese begins to warm. (I tried putting olive oil in the pan and then adding the goat cheese, but it was too oily.  I think that spray on the crumbs in a dry pan will work better.)

Has anyone out there made warm goat cheese?  Suggestions Welcome!  
Hope that you are having a marvelous Monday!  

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Beading at the Beach

So... all those cloudy days at the beach that I told you about in my last post also left us plenty of time to do some beading at the beach.  A couple of years ago we discovered this cute little beading/coffee shop in Frisco where we stay.  So we headed over for a couple hours of fun playing with beads.

Here is my effort:
My effort at a bracelet and necklace set

I made the bracelet on the first rainy day and the necklace on a rainy day towards the end of the trip.
Bracelets and earrings made by my daughter and her friends

The shop is run by a lovely mother and daughter team.  The real charm of the shop is how welcome they make you feel. Both are extremely talented artists and are generous in helping you find your inner jewelry designer. It is almost as if they have invited you into their home for a little craft party!  Truly a great experience.  And you have a beautiful piece of beaded jewelry to wear when you get home!

So...I wouldn't say that I will ever be a jewelry maker, but it was fun to try something new and especially fun to spend a couple of rainy day creative hours with the getting-pretty-grown-up girls in my life. 

I'll have to think of some more crafty activities that a 40-something mom and 20 something daughters can work on together.  Suggestions?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Evening Bag Gone Wild!!!

Hi!  I took a little blogging break to head with the family to the beach.  Although the weather was a bit rainy, we were able to get some fun in the sun time each day.  

Usually the day would start out raining so that we could have a nice slow start to the day. Then it would clear up in time for some sand and sea time and we would have thunderstorms in the afternoon.

The clouds made for some beautiful sunsets over the sound!

The beautiful thing about a rainy day at the beach is that there is nothing to do but give in and relax.  So we had plenty of time for board games, watching the Olympics and I even managed to get in some time for stitching.

I was able to complete another UFO from my Stitchin' Charleston Adventures of years past.  This little cutie is a crazy patch evening bag that Laura Jenkins Thompson designed.

Isn't this purse a cutie!
 I was surprised how much I actually had finished and how quickly I was able to finish it up!  I think I was delaying because I was worrying about attaching the frame, but it all went together easily!  So satisfying to finish up another UFO!  :-)

Just the perfect size for a few evening bag essentials!
Now, I just need an evening occasion to take it to!  Ha!  

I hope that you are finding some time for a little walk on the wild side before summer is gone!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Sharp Gingher Scissors = Sewer's Bliss!

I sent off my Gingher scissors to be fixed/sharpened after someone - apparently named "not me"- used them to cut something metallic. I got them back today! Oh the beautiful swishing sound of a pair of perfect sewing scissors!

Now to figure out a way to attach a padlock to them...or...electric shock system... Mwhaaaahahaa!!!

But really. If you sew you know what I mean!

Sewing scissors - Fabrics only please!!!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Tomatoes and Sauce and Lasagna and Bracciole and Pesto...Whew!

The garden has been very generous this year!  I found myself with a bumper crop of roma tomatoes and basil that had to be used soon or would be lost.  So my lovely daughter and sous chef, Carolyn, and I went to work getting some things in the freezer to be used during our upcoming beach trip and also made a yummy dinner for tonight.

Anyone who knows me knows that the only TV that I really watch is the Food network, cooking channel, Say Yes to the Dress,  What Not to Wear,  and Project Runway.  A couple of my foodie shows lately have featured Italian Bracciole.  So with a bumper crop of tomatoes we set about making some tomato sauce (apparently called tomato gravy up North?) and some bracciole to cook in it.

Here is the result - a patchwork of different recipes and a few of my own ideas.

Bracciole with homemade tomato sauce and polenta

I love a savory dish with a pop of sweet so the filling is bread crumbs, celery, carrots, onions, pine nuts, egg and golden raisins.  I was really happy about how it came out.  Just the right amount of sweet.

Usually Bracciole is served over pasta, but we decided on a twist and used a tube of polenta that we had in the fridge.  Just cut into 1/2 inch slices and brown in butter and olive oil (just like a grilled cheese sandwich).

Our other project was to make a couple lasagnas to freeze for our upcoming trip to the beach.  The recipe I was using called for pesto.  Pesto?  I have basil!

Beautiful basil - the essence of summer!

A couple years ago my sister found this  recipe on the foodnetwork site.  I  cut down on the oil a bit by adding about 3/4 of the 1/2 cup and then subbing water for the rest.   There is no difference in taste.  I add a healthy palmful of salt and several good grinds of pepper and a little more garlic than the recipe calls for.

All the ingredients in the food processor ready to turn into pest!

I love how you don't add the cheese until you are ready to use it.  Also, adding the last of the olive oil over the top at the end really helps to preserve the nice bright green color even after freezing.   We made a lot of this last year and froze it in some of the small plastic containers that you can buy in the grocery store.  We ate up the last of it just as this year's basil was ready to use!

Presto!  Pesto!

So...a very productive day with a delicious dinner waiting at the end:

Tomato sauce - check
Pesto - check
2 lasagnas - check
2 loaves zucchini bread  -check
Meat for Fajitas marinading in the freezer -check
And...Bracciole to finish the day -check

Feeling very Rachel Ray Week in a Day!  :-)  

Pam's Very Non-Traditional Bracciole

1-1/2 pounds top round steak thin sliced (You buy it this way)
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup minced onion
2 Tbsp pine nuts
2 Tbsp golden raisins
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
1 egg
Tomato sauce

1.  Saute the onion, celery and carrots until just tender and the onion begins to brown slightly
2.  Add the pine nuts and raisins and saute 2-3 minutes
3.  Add the bread crumbs and allow to brown slightly
4.  Beat the egg in a medium size bowl
5.  Add the bread crumb mixture and mix until combined
6.  Lay out the top round steaks and salt and pepper the steaks.  Divide the bread crumb mixture so that you have a small (1/3 cup) on the widest end of the steak.  
7.  Starting with the bread crumb end, roll up the meat - tucking the sides of the rolls in as you go.
8.  Tie the rolls around both ends with cotton cooking twine
9.  Brown the meat rolls in a non-stick skillet in a small amount of olive oil until well browned and carmelized on all sides.
10.  Add tomato sauce about 1/2 - 3/4 up the meat rolls (homemade is best, but jarred marinara sauce would also work.)
11.  Bring sauce with meat to a slow simmer and allow to simmer, partially covered, for 2 1/2 - 3 hours until meat is fork tender.
12.  Cut twine off of the meat rolls. Cut each roll in half diagonally and serve with polenta slices or pasta and plenty of sauce.

I hope that you are enjoying summer's bounty!