Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Watermelon Balls!

Watermelon is the fruit of summer. I could eat it everyday, all day. Ice cold watermelon. Yum.
At summer horse shows, we used to split baby watermelons in half and then dig in with a spoon. So refreshing after hours sweating it out in the sun.

Make watermelon more fun by using a melon scooper to scoop into balls. I like to squeeze fresh lemon (for sweetness) or lime (for tartness) over my melon in the summer - an easy twist. 

Grapefruit Margaritas

Summer has arrived!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend. I hope everyone got a chance to enjoy the sun and grill out. But most importantly, I hope everyone took time to thank our soldiers and their families for the sacrifices they make for our freedom. Their bravery is what makes our country beautiful. 

My weekend involved a trip back to Bloomington and a lot of pool time. I got back to Chicago in time to grill out with the family; we had ribs and pineapple chicken kebabs (for the recipe, click here!) Today, Mom and I continued to celebrate summer with Grapefruit Margaritas. 

This recipe uses only fresh fruit and juices, with no added sugar and nothing from a bottle (minus the liquor). Simply, tangy, and definitely summery. The first round was very strong, so for the second round we added ice to make frozen margaritas - this watered down version is what I'd recommend. These margaritas lightened our afternoon, and hopefully it lightens yours too!

Grapefruit Margaritas
Ingredients (Yields 2 margaritas)
3 oz tequila
2 oz orange liqueur, such as Triple Sec
6 oz fresh squeezed grapefruit juice (about 1 medium sized grapefruit, or 1.5 small ones)
2 oz fresh squeezed lime juice (1 - 2 limes)
Sea salt, for rimming the glasses

  1. Mix together tequila, Triple Sec, and juices, combining thoroughly. 
  2. Prepare glasses by rubbing the grapefruit rinds around the rim and then dipping into salt. 
  3. For on the rocks, pour margarita into prepared glass with a few ice cubes and a grapefruit wedge for garnish.
  4. For frozen margaritas, mix 6 oz margarita with 1 cup crushed ice. Blend in a blender, adding ice if desired. Serve in prepared glasses with a grapefruit wedge. 

Grilled Pineapple Chicken Kebabs

These kebabs are an awesome addition to a summer grill out. The charred pineapple lends sweetness while the peppers keep it subtlety spicy. Fun and easy to eat outside, standing up and playing backyard games. Prepare them ahead of time they're super easy to grill, making them great for parties. And only 160 calories per 2 skewers! Great summertime meal. 

Grilled Pineapple & Chicken Kebabs
Recipe from The Daily Herald, serves four
2 serrano chile peppers, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
2 limes, reserve at least 1 teaspoon juice and 2 teaspoons finely grated zest
2 teaspoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1" cubes
1/2 pineapple, cut into 1" cubes (about 12 oz peeled, trimmed & cubed)

  1. Combine the serrano peppers, cilantro, lime juice and zest, sugar, oil, and salt & pepper in a medium bowl. Add the chicken and stir to coat thoroughly; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 2 - 8 hours. 
  2. When ready to cook, prepare the grill for direct medium-high heat (450F). Have eight skewers ready.
  3. While the grill is heating, thread cubes of chicken and pineapple onto the skewers. Each skewer should have about 8 pieces total. 
  4. Arrange aluminum foil on the grate to shield the ends of the skewers from the heat of the grill. Carefully place the skewers onto the grate. Cover and grill for about five minutes, then turn the skewers, cover, and cook for another five minutes. Check for doneness. The size and shape of the chicken will determine cooking time. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Poached Eggs on Toast

For those of you who've been updated via facebook, I just got back from a wonderful trip to Scotland. I spent seven days hiking and driving the Highlands with my brother and it was an absolutely fabulous experience. The scenery was wonderful, the people friendly, and the solitude of the place very relaxing. Seriously, towns consist of five houses plunked over a few miles; needless to say Kyle and I only got one picture together because we literally saw no one else. But no complaints about the trip; I'm so grateful that my brother and I had the opportunity to go. 

Prior to leaving everyone warned us about the food - that it would be bland and gross and that we should enjoy ample whisky to make up for it. False. Every meal was amazing (note: this does not mean we didn't enjoy the multitude of Scottish beverages anyways). We stayed mostly in B&Bs, so we  got huge home-made breakfasts every day. Seafood is very popular there, as is lamb. Kyle and I tried two traditional Scottish dishes: stovetop porridge and haggis. To die for. You may not want to know what's in haggis or how it's made, so just don't google it because it's awesome and you need to try it when you visit Scotland.

Given that there is no way I'll attempt to make haggis (okay, maybe google would help you understand my reasoning why), I decided to go with my next favorite dish from Scotland: poached eggs over crumpets. I ate this every day for breakfast, first only to figure out what the heck a crumpet was and then every day after because it makes me happy and keeps me full during hikes. So, a crumpet is their version of an English muffin. But so much better than our store-bought brands. 

Here's a quick how to for poaching eggs. This was my first attempt and it turned out quite well, despite the egg-vom-water lurking post-cooking in the pan. Gross. But breakfast was good! Poached eggs are cooked in water so that the eggs whites envelope the yolk, cooking through while leaving the yolk runny. I like to spill the yolk over toast so it gets soaked up. Any leftovers were happily licked up by Jazz and Bailey haha. Serve with coffee, yogurt, and an orange and you're all set!

Double duty: Jazz on the plate, Bailey on the fork

Poached Eggs over Toast
2 eggs
Your favorite bread, toasted
  1. Fill  a saucepan with water. Cover and heat until almost boiling. You'll know its ready when the pot is lined with bubbles and steam rises from the surface. Do not allow water to boil; reduce heat if necessary.
  2. Crack one egg into a bowl. 
  3. Splash some vinegar into the saucepan. With a spatula, stir the water/vinegar to create a mild whirlpool. Hold the bowl close to the water's surface and slide the egg into the center of the whirlpool. The current will help the egg whites to circle over the yolk. 
  4. Cover and cook for roughly 4 minutes, ensuring the water does not boil. 
  5. Gently remove egg with a slotted spoon, and place on a paper towel to let it dry. 
  6. Repeat with the other egg, then serve both over toast. 
  7. Crack salt and pepper over the top and enjoy. Happy eating!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Mediterranean Omelet

Another morning workout finished and one day closer to graduation. I refuse to do the actual countdown. Besides, after a run/bike/lift all I can think about is a shower and food. Today, we're still working on cleaning out the fridge. So we're throwing together an omelet with spinach, roasted red peppers (canned), and feta.

It doesn't take long to cook an omelet, and the ingredients are always flexible. Throw in mushrooms, bacon, asparagus - whatever you have left over. If I had had fresh herbs, they would have gone in but I'm running low. Omelets are great for clearing the fridge - get creative!

Mediterranean Omelet
2 eggs
Roasted red pepper, chopped

  1. Heat skillet over medium heat. If you'd like add a drop of olive oil. Put two handfuls of spinach in the skillet and cover, cooking until the spinach has wilted.
  2. Removed the spinach. Add the pepper and saute lightly for a minute or two. Remove.
  3. In a separate bowl whisk together two eggs. Splash in some skim milk if you want. 
  4. Add the eggs to the bowl. Allow to rest and cook for 30 seconds - 1 minute. Then, gently pull at the sides with your spatula and tilt the pan to allow the liquid to fill in the exposed area. Repeat all around until the middle is mostly set.
  5. Add the spinach, peppers, and feta. Fold the egg in half; cook each side a little more. 
  6. Flip onto a plate, sprinkle with salt and pepper. I ate mine with coffee, a banana, and some greek yogurt. Yum!

Garam Masala Lamb Stew

Had another awesome weekend full of friends, horses, and hikes. Friday was spent hiking and at the barn riding and hanging out with the crew. Man am I starting to get sentimental about leaving. More than anything else I'm going to miss the barn. I've spent more hours there than any other place these past four years.

Saturday a bunch of people and I were up before the sun to drive down into Lexington, KY for the Rolex 3-Day Event - an Olympic level international horse trial. Seeing the riders gallop around the XC course was pretty inspiring; to be totally honest though, it's the first time I've watched cross country and not wanted to go for a gallop. I guess I'm finally converting to dressage.

Today was spent hiking up an appetite. It rained all day yesterday and looked like it might storm this morning, so before I headed out I threw this stew into the crock pot. The hike was awesome - went around eight miles and the weather was perfect. Came back, rode Bond Boy, and then dove into this stew.

Garam Masala is a spice mix from Northern India; each blend is unique, but most contain warm spices, including cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, nutmeg, and pepper. Coming home to a house smelling like that was too good to be true. I immediately had to taste it, even though had just gotten dropped off from a late lunch. Wholesome, warm, but not too heavy, this was a great post-hike stew. It heats up nicely as leftovers and makes enough for four people, more or less. 

Tip: For reheating, add a little water before microwaving. It keeps the broth consistent and prevents the meat from drying out in the microwave.

Garam Masala Lamb Stew
3/4 lb lamb stew meat, or 4 lamb loin chops
1 (15 oz) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
1 (14.5 oz) can whole tomatoes
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup chopped onion
4 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons Garam masala
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 - 3 cups spinach

  1. Heat crock pot to low; throw chickpeas, tomatoes, stock, masala and salt in the pot. Stir to combine. 
  2. Add the lamb, stir and make sure it's covered by the liquids.  Add the chopped onion.
  3. Using a large knife, make a paste from the four garlic cloves. For methodology, see this video: Click!
  4. Cook on low for 6 - 8 hours, keeping it covered. Resist the urge to lift the lid to smell/taste test.
  5. Before serving, add the spinach and cook 10 minutes or until wilted.
  6. Serve stew over rice, noodles, with naan - whatever's left in the pantry.

Frozen Raspberry Lemonade

Drank these on a hot afternoon last week, right before heading to the senior salute. It comes together in two minutes, and serves at least two very thirsty almost alums. 

The leftovers are great frozen; I've been eating them with a spoon all week - tastes like raspberry sorbet. Fresh, light, and delicious.

Frozen Raspberry Lemonade
1 (10 oz) can fozen lemonade concentrate
1 can water
4 cups frozen raspberries

  1. Throw into a blender. Blend.
  2. Pour into cup. Drink. 
Really taxing instructions, I know.