Martha Mondays: 7/26

July 19, 2010

Thanks to Sarah at Mum in Bloom, our project for 7/26 is Chocolate Pudding.

Martha Mondays: PB Choc Semifreddo

July 19, 2010

It was my turn to pick this week’s project, which is in July/Aug Everyday Food: Peanut Butter Chocolate Semifreddo. Now I must confess something. My favorite thing in the entire world is Perry’s Peanut Butter Fudge ice cream. In high school, I worked at an ice cream parlor and one of the girls I worked with used to make us little hot fudge sundaes on the sly – a tiny scoop of Perry’s PBF in a plastic water dixie  cup topped with a bit of hot fudge. Sometimes I would buy a sundae and eat it in the car on the way home after work. Heaven. Thankfully, Perry’s is a local company and still makes PBF, although they only make it in the summer. The rest of the year I am in PBF crisis mode. It can get pretty ugly. Do not even suggest to me that I should try peanut butter cup ice cream. It is not even close.

So, when I saw the recipe for PBF semifreddo, well, you can imagine my excitement. Semifreddo is not ice cream, but it is  similar. I had semifreddo once before when my mom made it. It was ok, not great. I was willing to try this.

The recipe was a little confusing and involved halving and then halving again a peanut butter and whole milk and sugar mixture, which I found confusing. You whip some cream and mix in some of the PB mixture. You melt chocolate in water (which I think is nasty). Then you fill the pan halfway with the whipped cream/PB mix. Then you put in straight PB mix and choc in the center, cover with the rest of the whipped cream stuff and put PB and choc on top, then you swirl and freeze for 5 hours.

I had way too much for my loaf pan – I ended up dumping some and my loaf pan overflowed in the freezer. It was quite a mess. I also used a silicone loaf pan and then ended up cutting through it with a knife, trying to get this out!

The peanut butter/whipped cream part was pretty good. Semifreddo is not ice cream, but it isn’t bad – cool, creamy, and sweet. I thought the chocolate part was awful – mine was grainy. If I made this again, I would use hot fudge instead.  So, with all of that being said, this wasn’t bad and was kind of fun. And in the winter if I’m desperate for Perry’s PBF, I think this might work as a poor man’s substitute.

I’m feeling tired and lazy this morning so I’m not going to retype the recipe. Those of you who requested it, got it by email. If you’re reading this blog and would like a copy of it, just let me know. As soon as the recipe is up on Martha’s site I’ll come back and stick the link in.

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Rocks for Brains

July 16, 2010

I haven’t been cooking as much as usual, so I don’t have as much to share about food lately. The heat makes it hard and I’ve just been feeling tired of the constant dinner grind. So this morning, I thought I would share an interesting collection I’ve developed – rocks. I’m not fascinated by the scientific information about rocks – what they’re called, how they were formed. No, I just like them because they’re pretty. And they are a way of bringing home a piece of a place I’ve visited.

My fascination with rocks started when we rented a house in York Harbor, Maine for a week several years ago. The coast is very rocky there and the house was right on the water, with a very rocky and challenging shore. We spent a lot of time clambering around the rocks. So many of them were so beautiful that I started hauling some back to the house with me each time. This rock sits beside the doors to our basement and garage and I use it as a doorstop. I just love the wavy lines through it.

These are more Maine rocks. Thank goodness we drove, because I could never have gotten these home on an airplane! I love the pink rock and the amazing stripes in the blue rocks. I was like a kid in a candy store before we left – stuffing more and more rocks into the car. I did try to sift through carefully and only take the most beautiful.

A few years after the Maine trip. we rented a house on Cape Cod. Again, there were so many beautiful rocks! As you can see though, they are very different from the Maine rocks. I love the green ones the most.  Again, we were driving, so I didn’t have trouble getting them home.

These rocks are in a basket that came from Maine (I know, I should swap things around and put the Maine rocks in this basket.)

I put some of the smaller rocks in a rectangular glass container on a kitchen shelf. Next to it is driftwood I found on the beach there as well. Dude Martha and I spent a lot of time just walking on that beach, looking at rocks and exploring tide pools. As a kid, we vacationed in Maine, so a rocky beach is my ideal for summer vacation!

I was so enamored with the Cape Cod rocks that I took lots of photos of them because they are most colorful when they’re wet – right after a wave has washed over them. So I had to take some photos to preserve those bright colors. This photo sits on a shelf in my office and it makes me happy every time I look at it!

Our trip last summer to England and Scotland was magical. My entire life, I dreamed of going to Scotland. After we had crossed the border into Scotland, I said to Mr. MarthaAndMe that I couldn’t believe I was actually there. It was so beautiful that I had a tiny little cry. So when we got to Loch Ness and parked on the side of the road and climbed down some stairs to get to the beach, I couldn’t help but pocket a few rocks! They aren’t as colorful as the New England rocks, but they sit on a shelf in my office and remind me that I actually did go to Scotland.

I don’t have rocks from our trip to Hawaii (the goddess Pele would have been angry if I had brought home any lava rocks) but I do have some shells and coral, as well as a nice container of beach glass I found there.

This summer we’ll be headed to the Pacific Northwest – Seattle, Alaska and Vancouver. Maybe they’ll have some rocks I can bring home.

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Tuna, Take Two

July 15, 2010

If you read my post yesterday, you know I was ready to make a nice dinner of tuna steaks when most of the family suddenly had other plans. So the tuna was put on hold and I was finally able to make it last night.

Teen Martha loves tuna and she loves it practically still swimming – she just wants it seared on the outside. And she has to have wasabi with it. I cannot stand wasabi or anything hot and spicy and I am learning to like my tuna pink.

Now, listen, this recipe is not a big breakthrough by any means, but it’s something I’m a little proud of. I don’t usually order tuna in restaurants, but I have learned that I like it, so I wanted to experiment a bit. It seems Teen Martha is always getting sesame crusted tuna, so I decided to give that a try and make a mango salsa. I loved how it turned out. The salsa gave it a tropical feel and had just enough spiciness in it to liven the dish up. The tuna was cooked perfectly to my tastes (Teen Martha’s piece was left practically raw with a tube of wasabi set next to her). I’ll be making this again since it is quick and very tasty.

Sesame Crusted Tuna with Mango Salsa
4 ahi tuna steaks
olive oil
toasted sesame seeds

Rinse and pat dry the tuna steaks. Rub with olive oil and then sprinkle with as many sesame seeds as you like. Press the seeds into the tuna a bit to get them to stick. Do both sides. I grilled the tuna but you can also sear in a pan. Cook to whatever doneness you prefer – if you’re like Teen Martha, just sear it on both sides. If you’re like me, cook it a bit longer so it is cooked, but still wiggly. This took about 5-7 minutes on the grill.

Mango Salsa
1 mango
1 small gherkin sized cucumber
jalapeno pepper
1 tbsp chopped cilantro
juice of half a lime
1 tsp lemon or lime zest
salt and pepper

Cut up the mango into small pieces. Peel and dice the cucumber and add it. I am a chicken about hot pepper so I have a jar of sliced jalapeno and took just one little piece out and chopped it up. Use more if you like yours hot. Add in cilantro, lime juice, zest and salt and pepper. Allow the salsa to sit for about 30 min, refrigerated. Serve with tuna.

With this we had green beans, pretzel rolls from the bakery with whipped cream cheese and corn on the cob.

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They Bailed on Me

July 14, 2010

I was all set to make a lovely meal last night. I bought some tuna steaks and was going to grill them and serve with a lovely mango salsa. I had some fresh pretzel rolls from the store and local corn on the cob and some green beans from the farm stand. Then Mr. MarthaAndMe texted that he had a late meeting and wouldn’t make it. No problem – Teen Martha loves tuna so I would make it for the two of us. Then she went shopping for shorts, had a crisis (couldn’t find any!) and decided she had to keep shopping before going with friends to a fair. That left me and Dude Martha, who insists he does not like fish. The tuna remains in the fridge and I’ll try again tomorrow. (if you’re wondering, I had a salad for dinner and he had tuna from a can which does not qualify as fish, apparently)

In the meantime, this is a photo of my amazing clematis vine. I can’t grow much of anything, but this thing is going nuts. I originally planted it next to the garage where it did nothing at all. Then a few years ago I moved it to the backyard next to the deck. It went crazy and now gets tons and tons of flowers. This past winter my crazy dogs who now can run free in our newly fenced yard decided it would be fun to chew the vine down. By spring, there was nothing left. I was sure it was a goner, but it has come back to its full beauty. Now if I could just manage to tame it a little bit! It wants to just grow along the floor of the deck and I keep trying to get it to wrap around the posts.

Shrimp Remoulade

July 13, 2010

I had heard of Shrimp Remoulade, but never had it, until I ran across it in July Living. Anything that is served cold with a minimum of work is definitely a summer dish I’m interested in! This was incredibly easy – boil and cool some shrimp and mix up the yogurt based dressing which includes ketchup, mustard, capers, garlic, scallion and lemon juice. Add the shrimp, let it sit for half an hour and serve on lettuce. I ended up with more dressing than needed since I left some shrimp plain for Dude Martha, so mine is a bit gloppy looking. It was delicious though. The dressing was cool and creamy but not rich since it is made with Greek yogurt. It had just the right mix of flavors to keep it lively. I loved this and will definitely make it again. It’s a different way to make shrimp, which is always appreciated.

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Martha Mondays: 7/19

July 12, 2010

It’s my pick for the next Martha Mondays. My choice is Peanut Butter-Chocolate Semifreddo from July/Aug Everyday Food (if you need the recipe, let me know – it’s not online yet).

Here’s the schedule for the next round:

July 26 Mum in Bloom

Aug 2 Tiny Skillet

Aug 9 and 16 we’re skipping

Aug 23 At Least Twice a Week

Aug 30 City Interlude

Sept 6 Megans Cookin

Sept 13 Sassy Suppers

Sept 20 Perfecting Pru

Sept 27 Homemade Iowa Life

Oct 4 Brenda’s Canadian Kitchen

Oct 11 Stirrin It Up

Oct 18 Sweet Almond Tree

If I missed anyone, let me know. If you want to be taken off the rotation, let me know. And, as always, new members always welcome so just leave a comment or email if you’d like to be added.

I would also love some more Martha on Demand suggestions – a recipe from her site is easiest.

Martha Mondays: Greek Salad

July 12, 2010

As I think I’ve mentioned before, my family likes Greek food a lot. Mr. MarthaAndMe’s ethnic heritage is a bit unclear so we always joke he actually is Greek. Ana at Sweet Almond Tree chose this Greek Salad for today. I remember the episode when Michael Psilakis appeared on the show. I even got his cookbook from the library at one point.

Now I must admit I cheated a bit with this salad. I don’t care for iceberg lettuce, so I used Boston. I don’t like onions in my salad so I left those out. And I do not care for fennel at all, so that was out too. Oh, I skipped the olives as well since I’m not a fan of those either. All right, so maybe I changed it a lot! It was still good though. What I loved about this salad were the fresh herbs that were mixed into the salad. I never think to do that, and always add herbs to my dressings, but having the fresh parsley, dill, and oregano (and it was fresh – from pots on my deck!) added so much flavor to this. It was just fantastic. I also really like the scallions in the salad. This was a delicious salad!

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Rosemary Turkey Cutlets

July 9, 2010

I like turkey but find turkey cutlets hard to work with. They’re so thin that they can overcook very quickly. They also tend to be a little bit tough and flavorless. I happened upon a recipe in July Bon Appetit that involves marinating them and then grilling them, so I gave it a try. I had 4 cutlets and I marinated them in a mix of olive oil, lemon juice, 2 crushed garlic cloves and 1/2 tsp of rosemary, with salt and pepper for about half an hour. I grilled them. At the same time I also grilled some zucchini spears that I sprayed with cooking spray.

I was very pleased with how the turkey turned out. It was flavorful and pretty tender. Thumbs up on this method! The zucchini was also quite good. And I didn’t have to turn on the stove!

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Parmesan Rice

July 8, 2010

My family likes rice a lot. I almost always make brown rice in my steamer. We often eat it with just some butter on it or the sauce for whatever the main course is. I have a favorite, decadent rice dish that I make once in a while though, called Parmesan Rice. It’s incredibly simple but just fabulously delicious. I made it last night, but used some jasmine rice I had left in the cupboard.

Parmesan Rice (serves 4)
1 1/2 cups of rice
6 tbsp butter
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Cook rice according to package directions or however you usually make rice. I prefer to make this recipe with brown rice. Once the rice is cooked, put it in a square baking dish. Brown the butter and spoon over the rice. Sprinkle the cheese on top and cover the dish with foil. Allow it to sit for several minutes, until the cheese melts.

The brown butter gives this dish a wonderful nutty flavor and the cheese – well, cheese makes almost everything better! This dish can be made in advance and then reheated in the microwave. It also works well for large family gatherings – just double or triple the recipe. I almost always double this recipe when cooking for the 4 of us because we just love it so much.

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