Monday, August 30, 2021

Summer Salad with Peaches and Blue Cheese


It is pretty rare that I make a green salad that doesn't include some sort of fruit. In the fall, I love including apples and dried cranberries, or pears and figs. In the summer, the choices seem to be endless: strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, peaches! 

I especially like the combination of peaches and blue cheese and decided to make a salad featuring those ingredients. I threw in some red onion and cucumber for both crunch and flavor contrast. But how to make a truly winning salad? Add the amazing sweet and spicy almonds.

I brought this to a family dinner and a certain young male teen even took seconds!  It's really good.  

Take advantage of the beautiful summer produce still available, and make yourself a green salad with lots of fruit.

Summer Salad with Peaches and Blue Cheese

6-8 cups mixed greens
1/4 cup balsamic vinaigrette, or more or less to taste
2 thin slices red onion, halved into half moon rings
1/3 large cucumber, sliced into half moons
1 large peach, or 2 small peaches, pitted and sliced
1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (or less)

In a small skillet over medium heat, toss the almonds in the sugar and cayenne. Stir frequently, or constantly, until the almonds are toasted and coated but not burnt. Watch carefully and stir!  Remove the almonds to a plate to cool.

In a large bowl, toss the salad greens and onions with the dressing until completely coated. Layer the greens on a large plate, and top with the cucumbers. Arrange the peach slices around the perimeter of the platter. Sprinkle with blue cheese crumbles. Break up the almonds into bite sized pieces and sprinkle on top of the salad.  Serves 6-8.

Monday, August 16, 2021

Coconut Cake and Custard Trifle

Necessity is the mother of invention, right? That's what happened with this recipe. It was SUPPOSED to be a coconut layer cake. Then this happened.

So, I decided to make the best of it. And, I think this trifle probably turned out better than my layer cake would have... partly due to the amazing coconut custard that I used for the filling. 

Not to mention all the crunchy toasted coconut layered in and placed on top!

This recipe uses some convenience products, like a boxed cake mix and cool whip. But the homemade custard more than makes up for any of that. And you don't even have to worry about getting the cake out of the pan nicely, because you'll just chop it up anyway! (There is nothing stopping you from using a homemade white cake and whipping cream. Do what you like best, and own it!)

This is so beautiful and impressive in a trifle bowl - but if you don't have one, any big glass bowl will work just fine. You could also use a glass 9x13 in a pinch - it will still taste good, but the presentation will be a little different.  Trifles don't look nearly as pretty when they're in an individual serving dish, but I can't overstate how delicious this is. 

If you have someone in your life who loves coconut, this is the perfect dessert!

 Coconut Cake and Custard Trifle

1 boxed white cake mix
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup water
3 eggs

1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup whole milk
1 can (14 ounces) coconut milk
4 egg yolks

For assembly:
1 8oz. tub Cool Whip, thawed if frozen
1 1/2 cups shredded sweetened coconut

For the cake, combine the cake mix, oil, water and eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix until well blended. Transfer the batter to either two greased 9" round cake pans, or a greased 9x13 pan. Bake according to the directions on the box for each pan type.  Cool completely, then cut into small, bite-sized squares.

While the cake bakes, make the custard. In a medium saucepan (not over any heat), whisk together the sugar, cornstarch and salt. Add in the whole milk, and whisk well to dissolve the cornstarch. Whisk in the coconut milk and the eggs. Once well combined, place the saucepan over medium heat, and stir constantly until the first big bubbles burst, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and continue to cook and stir for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and let cool.

Toast the coconut by spreading it out on a large baking sheet and placing it in a 400 degree oven. Stir after about 4 minutes, then watch carefully, stirring every 2-3 minutes until it is all toasty. Coconut burns easily, so watch it carefully.

To assemble the trifle, in the trifle dish or large glass bowl, layer cake cubes, custard, cool whip and toasted coconut. Repeat layers, ending with about 1/2 cup of toasted coconut on top.   (You will likely have leftover cake cubes. You can freeze them for later or serve them with ice cream at another time!)

Serves 10-12.

Monday, August 2, 2021

Sheet Pan Garlic and Butter Baked Salmon with Vegetables

Wow, that was quite a hiatus. I didn't intend to take a summer blogging vacation, but alas, I did. However, no fear, I have plenty of recipes to share as I have continued to cook this summer! 

You know I am a fan of the dinner trifecta: easy, fast, delicious. This fits that bill perfectly, and bonus: only one pan! Have you gotten on the sheet pan dinner bandwagon? I've made a few but I was especially interested to try this one since it also involved a new way to cook salmon.

This couldn't be simpler; just fill up that sheet pan with cut up veggies,

 let them roast a bit, then add the salmon and the delicious garlic butter sauce, and roast some more. 

In the summer, especially, I love having "extra" roasted vegetables - they make a great mix in for scrambled eggs the next morning!

Go easy on yourself this summer and make this fantastic dinner. (Note: the original recipe called only for potatoes and asparagus. I used a mix of green vegetables and mushrooms. If you want to include potatoes - which would be delicious! - see the link to the original recipe below.)

Sheet Pan Garlic and Butter Baked Salmon with Vegetables

16 oz. fresh salmon (either leave as one piece or cut into 4)
1 1/2 Tbsp. minced garlic
1/2 Tbsp. parsley
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 cup melted butter
4 -6 cups chopped assorted vegetables (zucchini, onion, broccoli, summer squash, asparagus, mushrooms, etc)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper

Toss vegetables with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.  Spread out on a large sheet pan and roast at 400 for 10 minutes.

In a small measuring cup, combine the butter, garlic, parsley and lemon juice. Stir well. 

Remove pan from oven and move the vegetables around to make room for the salmon on the pan. Place the salmon amongst the vegetables then cover the salmon liberally with the butter garlic sauce. Dribble any remaining sauce over the vegetables.

Return to the oven and roast for 10-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the salmon. If you like, you can broil the salmon for a minute or two to help crisp up the top. 

Serves 4. 

Recipe Source: Adapted from Cafe Delites

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