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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Next up: GEORGIA TECH vs Western Carolina 9/1/11




We've planned out which games we'll be attending this fall. We will be covering the Southeast (ACC and SEC). Can't wait! Now on to the food!

For this game, it's in Atlanta; it's my husband's alma mater; it's going to be hot as Hades; it's on a Thursday at 7:30PM, and we're tailgating with old friends and their friends. They have a designated tailgate spot, so we'll park and tote our food to them. It'll need to be easy to transport and tasty for a hot summer night in Atlanta, GA!


Here's what I'm thinking. Starters - we'll begin with really good chips and salsa. It sounds like a cop out, but this homemade salsa is delish!


SALSA WITH CUMIN

1 (14 ounce) can tomatoes and green chilies
1 (14 ounce) can tomatoes (with juice)
1 tablespoon & 1 tsp. jalapeno, canned, chopped
1/4 cup yellow onion, chopped
1/2-3/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon sugar

In food processor place jalapenos and onions.
Process for just a few seconds.
Add both cans of tomatoes, salt, sugar, and cumin.
Process all ingredients until well blended but do not puree.
Place in covered container and chill.

Another appetizer that's cool and delicious and very satisfying. And it'll go in cute little GT cups in keeping with our tailgate theme of course!

OR

I may serve this one:

Endive Appetizer with Homemade Mango Salsa


2-3 belgian endive
1 jalapeno chili
Juice from 1 lime
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 tomatoes
½ cup honey
1 red bell pepper
1 red onion
1 mango
Salt, to taste
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Trim the bottoms off the endives, then separate the leaves.
Finely dice the bell pepper, onion, mango, tomatoes, and chili pepper.
Combine the jalapeno chili, lime juice, mustard, tomatoes, honey, bell pepper, onion, mango, and cilantro in a bowl and add salt and black pepper to taste.
Put a teaspoon of salsa on the bottom end of each endive leaf and arrange them on a platter.


MEXICAN GAZPACHO


1 1/2 cups chilled Clamato juice, or 1 cup tomato juice and 1/2 cup bottled clam juice
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon hot sauce such as Tabasco
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 cup finely chopped white onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 firm-ripe California avocado, peeled, pitted, and cut into small chunks
1/2 lb fresh lump crabmeat (1 cup), picked over
1/4 lb cooked baby shrimp

I'll probably offer oyster crackers or saltines (optional)

Stir together Clamato juice, ketchup, lime juice, hot sauce, salt, onion, and cilantro in a large bowl, then gently stir in avocado, crabmeat, and shrimp. Spoon into 6- or 8-ounce glasses or cups. Doesn't get much easier than this recipe...


As long as we're on the Mexican theme, let's go with Mexican salads too. Easy peesy to transport and keep the ingredients cold, and if you are dying to grill in 90+ degree heat, then throw on a skirt steak or chicken breast and have at it. But, you CAN bring already grilled cold chicken cut up, and it'll be delicious.

MEXICAN SALAD

6 servings

6 boneless skinless chicken breast, grilled and sliced
12 cups iceberg lettuce (or a mixture including romaine)
8 oz. cheddar cheese
3 cups salsa
2 cups sour cream
taco chips

Grill chicken and slice it into strips. Place lettuce on plates (or prepared taco shells if you're so inclined), and top with the chicken.
Sprinkle cheddar on top. Add salsa and sour cream.
Top with taco chips and voila!

Optional toppings for a Mexican bar are: monterey jack cheese, black olives, chopped jalapeno peppers, scallions, salsa verde and black beans.


DESSERT!
I'm going with theme cupcakes - gold and navy of course. The best cupcake recipe is Amy Sedaris' so that's what I'll make and transport in a tupperware container made for cupcakes so there'll be no sliding or mess. They'll also be in a cooler right up until we head over to the tailgate party.




1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 cups milk

Turn oven on to 375 degrees F.
Put butter in mixer and beat at medium speed until somewhat smooth. Pour in sugar and beat well. Add 2 eggs. Mix well. Add: vanilla, baking powder, salt, flour, and milk. Beat until it looks like it is supposed to and pour into individual baking cups, until they are about 2/3 full. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Should produce 24 cupcakes.
I'll frost with Amy Sedaris' frosting, and will either tint the frosting or better yet, I'll decorate with gold and navy edible balls. They'll also be in a theme cupcake wrapper. Pics will follow!

Frosting:

1 box confectioners' sugar
1 stick unsalted butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract*
1/4 cup milk or light cream
food coloring (optional)

*Less than 1 teaspoon pure almond extract can be substituted.

In a bowl combine: one box of confectioners' sugar, one stick of unsalted butter, one teaspoon of pure vanilla extract, and 1/4 cup of milk or light cream and beat for a while. I occasionally add food coloring and sometimes substitute pure almond extract for vanilla.

Now to come up with a drink...we'll surely be serving Coronas and or Dos Equis, but for a fun drink that's uber refreshing, I think it's got to be some sort of amazing one. How about a watermelon mojito??? Yes, please.

WATERMELON MOJITO





courtesy of Ina Garten - trust me, these are amazing!
Serves 6
30 large fresh mint leaves
3 to 4 thick slices fresh watermelon
12 ounces light rum, such as Bacardi
½ cup simple syrup (see note)
6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (3 limes)
Sprigs of mint and spears of watermelon, for serving

Use a mortar and pestle to mash the mint leaves. Remove and discard the rind and seeds of the watermelon. Put the fruit into a food processor fitted with the steel blade and puree. Put the mashed mint into a large pitcher with 2 cups of pureed watermelon, the rum, simple syrup, and lime juice and stir to combine. Pour the mixture into a pitcher for serving.
Place ice cubes in 6 glasses and pour the mojito mixture into the glasses. Garnish with sprigs of fresh mint and spears of watermelon. Serve ice cold.
Note: to make simple syrup, put 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water in a small pan and simmer until the sugar dissolves. Chill.

OR

I'll go with preparing in advance a perfect frozen margarita (sort of gold in color to go with the school colors!) and transport in a thermos.

FOOLPROOF FROZEN MARGARITAS




1 (6 oz) can frozen Minute Maid Limeade
1 1/2 cups white tequila
3/4 cup triple sec
Ice
8 lime wedges

Put limeade in blender. Add the remaining liquids (you can use the limeade can - 1 can tequila and 1/3 can triple sec). Gently mix 10 seconds. Add ice to the top of the blender and blend until smooth and slushy. Serve immediately or pour into thermos and transport to your tailgate. Top each glass with a lime. Serves 8.



P.S. GOOOOOOO JACKETS!!!!!!!!

P.S.S. Look at the cute things I found:

Cupcake liners:

Edible gold balls for cupcake decoration:




Great gold (mojito!) cups:

Gold Beverage napkins:

Gettin' excited!!

One final thought - you may wonder why guacamole isn't included in my Mexican fiesta menu. It's probably my favorite dish BUT it doesn't keep well (turns an ugly brown), and I personally don't like making it at a tailgate spot, because you end up with green goo under your fingernails no matter what. But, if I was at home watching the game, I'd most certainly make a huge batch of my guac!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

FINGER FOOD!


In my experience, the foods that are the most popular are the ones that are bite sized and easy to eat. No one wants to cut a tough steak or chicken breast with a knife and fork while balancing a paper plate on their lap all while teetering in a tailgating chair or a cooler! Now THAT'S a recipe for disaster!

 Here are some great dishes that are delicious, easy and the only bad news is that you will not have leftovers! Noshes and appetizers are the way to go when tailgating! : )

CHEESE STRAWS
1 1/2 cups (6 oz.) shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces and softened
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. dried crushed red pepper
1 TBSP half-and-half

Combine first 5 ingredients in a food processor; pulse in 5-second intervals until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add half-and-half, and process 10 seconds or until dough forms a ball.
Turn dough out onto a well floured surface, and roll into an 8- x 10-inch rectangle (about 1/8 inch thick). Cut dough with a sharp knife into 1/4- to 1/2-inch-wide strips, dipping knife in flour after each cut to ensure clean cuts. Place on ungreased baking sheets.
Bake at 350° for 12 minutes or until ends are slightly browned. Cool on baking sheets on a wire rack 30 minutes. Break into desired lengths.
Note: To make cheese rounds, roll dough to 1/8-inch thickness, and cut with a 1 1/2-inch round cutter. Place on ungreased baking sheets. Bake and cool as directed. Freeze baked cheese straws or rounds in a heavy-duty zip-top plastic freezer bag up to 3 months. Let thaw at room temperature 30 minutes before serving.
Note: Baking time is 12 minutes per batch.

CRAB DIP

1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons fat-free mayonnaise
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon horseradish
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
8 ounces crab meat

Combine all ingredients, and mix.

HOT CHICKEN DIP

1 1/2 to 2 cups cooked, chopped chicken
12 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup chopped green onion tops
3 tablespoons chopped jalapeno peppers (3 to 4 whole peppers out of the jar)
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili power
1/2 teaspoon coriander
2 cloves of garlic, chopped

Mix all ingredients together, and pour into a glass pie pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 to 40 minutes or until bubbly in the center. Serve with Fritos Scoops or Triscuits.

CURRY ALMOND CHICKEN DIP

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
4 1/2 to 5 ounces mango chutney
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
2 teaspoons curry powder, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

Place ingredients in bowl of food processor, and blend until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides. Place in bowl, cover and chill for at least an hour. Serve with thinly sliced Asian pears or crackers.

BLT DIP

1 cup sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise
1 pound bacon, fried, drained and crumbled
Garlic powder to taste, optional
1 large tomato, finely diced

Combine sour cream, mayonnaise, bacon and garlic powder, if desired. Add diced tomato just before serving. Serve with chips, crackers or toasted bread.

HOT BEEF DIP

1 jar (8 ounces) dried beef, rinsed, dried and chopped
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1 package (8 ounces) sour cream
1 cup finely chopped red onion
Round loaf of rye or italian bread

Mix together dried beef, cream cheese, sour cream and onion. Hollow out loaf of bread, and set bread cubes aside. Pour dip into hollowed-out bread bowl. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes. Serve with bread cubes or crackers.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL SIN DIP

2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1/2 cup chopped cooked ham
1/3 cup canned green chilies
1/3 cup chopped green onions
1/8 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 round loaf (1-pound) unsliced bread, rye preferred
Buttery round crackers

Combine Cheddar cheese, cream cheese, sour cream, ham, green chilies, green onion and Worcestershire sauce in a bowl. Mix well. Cut a thin slice from the top of the bread loaf; set top slice aside. Remove bread from center of loaf, leaving 1/2-inch edge all around. Use this bread for another use or cut into cubes and toast to serve with dip. Fill hollowed bread bowl with dip; cover with reserved top slice of bread. Wrap loaf in aluminum foil. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour. Serve with crackers.

Olive-walnut dip

1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
3 green onions, thinly sliced, including tops
10 green olives, chopped
2 teaspoons juice from olive jar

Toast walnuts on a cookie sheet in a 350-degree oven until lightly browned. Combine with remaining ingredients and chill at least one hour. Serve with Pepperidge Farm butterfly crackers or wheat crackers.

Country ham dip

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup finely chopped country ham, cooked
Chopped pecans, optional

Blend cream cheese and Dijon mustard until smooth. Add ham, and stir until well-mixed. Chill. Roll mixture into a ball, and roll in chopped pecans. Serve at room temperature.


Clam dip

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
1 can (6 1/2 ounces) chopped clams, drained
2 tablespoons grated onion
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Garlic powder to taste

Combine all ingredients, and place in a serving bowl.


QUICKER BUFFALO CHICKEN DIP

1 rotisserie chicken, boned and shredded
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1 cup shredded cheese (mozzarella or your favorite)
Hot wing sauce, to taste

Mix all ingredients together, and heat in oven at 350 degrees until mixture is warmed.

MEXICAN ARTICHOKE DIP






1 c. light mayo (or, fat free)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 c. soft breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. hot pepper sauce
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
2 cans (14 oz. each) artichoke hearts, drained and roughly chopped
1 can (4 oz.) chopped green chilies
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350F. In a large bowl, combine mayo, Parmesan, breadcrumbs, Worcestershire, hot pepper sauce and garlic powder. Gently fold in artichokes and green chilies. Spoon mixture into a casserole dish (or any oven-proof dish) coated with cooking spray. Cover and bake for 20 minutes. Serve with tortilla chips, pita wedges, melba rounds, or veggies. Makes about 4 cups. ENJOY!


BBQ MEATBALLS
3/4 pound extra-lean ground beef
3/4 pound ground turkey
1 small onion, minced
1/4 cup egg substitute
1/2 cup Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
3/4 cup ketchup
1/3 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup low-sodium Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons dry mustard
Preparation

Combine first 5 ingredients; shape mixture into 1-inch balls.
Brown meatballs, in batches, in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Remove meatballs from skillet, and wipe skillet clean. Stir together ketchup and next 4 ingredients in skillet; bring to a boil.
Add meatballs, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes or until meatballs are no longer pink.

Prepare these in advance a day before, and reheat on the grill at your tailgate party. Serve with toothpicks!

COLESLAW
(Adapted from Gwyneth Paltrow)
While not technically a finger food, it's easy and light and oh so delish with the meatballs.

1 bag angel hair coleslaw (or any cabbage that you prefer)
2-3 TBSP veganaise
2 tsp fresh lime juice
1 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
Mix all together and serve.

KAHLUA BROWNIES
catebogue

This recipe is another one that I've been making for so long that I don't remember where I got it.  The brownies are rich and dense and oh so good! The kahlua takes it over the top!

1 1/2 c flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 c butter (which comes out to be 10 TBSP + 2 tsp)
3 (1 oz.) unsweetened chocolate squares
3 eggs
2 c sugar
1/4 c Kahlua
3/4 c chopped walnuts (optional)
catebogue
Melt butter and chocolate in the microwave in 30 second sections, stirring each time until melted.
catebogue

Beat the 3 eggs with 2 cups sugar.
catebogue

Stir in chocolate mixture and 1/4 cup Kahlua.
catebogue

Add dry ingredients (1 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp baking powder).
catebogue

Turn into greased 9 x 13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes.
catebogue
When cooled, brush with Kahlua. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, and cut into squares.
catebogue

catebogue

catebogue

Drinktime! 
 Let's go with a refreshing cold drink to enjoy in September - 
a twist on a classic margarita:

MARGARITA GRANITA

3 cups water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
6 tablespoons orange liqueur
6 tablespoons gold tequila
2 teaspoons grated lime rind
Sugar
Bring 3 cups water and sugar to a boil in a saucepan, stirring mixture constantly. Pour into a large bowl; add lime juice and next 4 ingredients. Cover and freeze 8 hours.
Process frozen mixture in a blender or food processor until slushy.
Dip margarita glass rims into water; dip rims in sugar. Spoon granita into glasses. Enjoy! Makes 5 cups.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

IT'S THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR!

No it's not the holiday season. It's August in the South, and that can only mean one thing - - - FOOTBALL SEASON! It's August.  The anticipation is similar every year. All of my favorite teams are undefeated, and there is hope in the air of bowl games, SEC and ACC titles and potential National Championships!

To go along with the excitement and hope of what lies ahead, I'm inspired to create new tantalizing menus:

Let's start with these appetizers:

Beer Cheese Dip

1 (2-lb.) block sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 small onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 (12-oz.) bottle amber beer, at room temperature
Salt and pepper to taste

Beat together first 5 ingredients at low speed with a electric stand mixer until blended. Gradually add beer, beating until blended after each addition. Beat at medium-high speed 1 minute or until blended and creamy. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and chill 2 hours. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 2 weeks. This spread can be frozen up to 1 month; thaw overnight in refrigerator.
Grilled Beer-Cheese Sandwich: Spread 1 tsp. softened butter evenly on 1 side of 2 bread slices. Place bread slices, buttered sides down, on wax paper. Spread 1/4 cup Beer-Cheese Spread onto 1 side of 1 bread slice. Top with remaining bread slice, buttered side up. Cook sandwich in a nonstick skillet or griddle over medium heat 3 to 5 minutes on each side or until golden brown and cheese is melted.

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue


TAPENADE

This spread is one of my all time favorites. It has all my favorite ingredients, and I could probably just eat the entire thing without stopping. But I won't. It's really good though.

1/2 pound pitted kalamata olives
2 anchovy fillets, rinsed
1 small clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons capers
2 to 3 fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Thoroughly rinse the olives in cool water. Place all ingredients in a food processor. Process to combine, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl, until the mixture becomes a coarse paste, approximately 1 to 2 minutes total. Transfer to a bowl and serve.

Have a platter of fresh vegies and crackers to go with the dips. I love it with belgian endive and radicchio sliced.

For the main course:

Platter of Chicken fingers from Chick-Fil-A and

BBQ BEEF SANDWICHES
(Adapted from MyRecipes.com)
Photo Credit: Myrecipes.com
1 (3 1/2-pound) eye-of-round roast (can cut in half)
2 teaspoons salt, divided
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 (10-ounce) can condensed beef broth
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup lemon juice
3 tablespoons steak sauce
1 teaspoon coarse ground pepper
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
12 Kaiser rolls or sandwich buns
Dill pickle slices
Cole slaw

Sprinkle beef evenly with 1 teaspoon salt.

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Stir together remaining 1 teaspoon salt, garlic, and next 7 ingredients.
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Pour half of mixture into a 5 1/2-quart slow cooker.
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Place beef in slow cooker, and pour remaining mixture over beef.
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Cover and cook on HIGH 7 hours.
Shred beef in slow cooker with two forks. Serve in rolls or buns with dill pickle slices and cole slaw.

HERBED CORN


1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1 large shallot, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
6 cups fresh corn kernels (cut from about 9 large ears - or a large bag or two of frozen Silver Queen corn)
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chopped assorted fresh herbs (such as basil, cilantro, chives, and parsley)
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1/4 cup chopped fresh tarragon
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Melt butter in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add shallot and cumin seeds.
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Sauté until shallot is golden brown, about 4 minutes. Add corn kernels, 1 teaspoon coarse salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper. Sauté until corn is tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and mix in all herbs.
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Season to taste with salt. Transfer corn to bowl and serve
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
And I seem to have more and more vegetarian (or at least non-meat eating) friends, so I'm including on each menu delicious items for them as well.

TUSCAN PANZANELLA

I have 3 recipes to choose from - both equally delicious, just choose your the ingredients to suit your taste. The 3rd one is the easiest.


4 cups torn pieces of sourdough or rustic peasant bread, 1 to 1 1/2 inches wide
3 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon drained capers
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup thinly sliced red onion
5 assorted ripe heirloom tomatoes, halved or quartered, depending on size and shape
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 yellow bell pepper, julienned
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced, fronds reserved
1/2 cup pitted and halved Niçoise olives
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Preheat the oven to 300°F.
In a bowl, toss the bread with the olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Spread the bread on a baking sheet and bake for 7 to 10 minutes, until slightly crisp. (The pieces should not be as crispy as croutons.) Alternatively, spread the bread cubes on a baking sheet and let them dry, uncovered, for about 24 hours.
In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, capers, zest, and garlic. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Whisking constantly, add the extra virgin olive oil in a stream until well incorporated.
Add the onion, tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumber, fennel, and olives and toss with the vinaigrette. Adjust the salt and pepper.
Tear the fennel fronds and add them to the bowl along with the basil and bread. Toss to coat. Set aside for 20 minutes.
Garnish with shaved cheese and serve.

Panzanella with Artichokes

1/2 pound ciabatta, French or sourdough loaves, cubed
2 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 red onion, chopped
1 jar (6.5 oz.) marinated artichoke hearts, coarsely chopped
1 can (5-1/2 oz) water-packed tuna, drained and flaked
1/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted; sliced
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
4 cloves garlic; minced
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

In bowl soak bread in 1/2 cup water for 5 minutes; squeeze out excess water. Add tomatoes, onions, artichoke hearts, tuna, olives, basil, garlic, vinegar, salt and pepper. Toss well to coat. Serve at room temperature.

Yields: 6 cups

Easy Peasy Panzanella



As you cut the tomatoes, remove some of the seeds and liquid. Your panzanella will be juicy enough. Leave the crusts on the bread chunks; they will stay chewier and give the panzanella more substance.
INGREDIENTS
4 cups tomatoes, cut into large chunks
4 cups day old (somewhat dry and hard) crusty bread (Italian or French loaf), cut into chunks the same size as the tomatoes*
1 cucumber, skinned and seeded, cut into large chunks
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 bunch fresh basil, torn into little pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup good olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
* If you don't have hard old bread sitting around, you can take fresh crusty bread, cut it into big cubes, lay the cubes out on a baking sheet, and put in a 300°F oven for 5-10 minutes, until the outer edges have dried out a bit (not toasted, just dried). If you use fresh bread without doing this, the bread may disintegrate into mush in the salad.
METHOD
Mix everything together and let marinate, covered, at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, up to 12 hours. Do not refrigerate or you will destroy the texture of the tomatoes.
Serve at room temperature.
Yield: Serves 6-8.

Portobello Burgers with Pesto, Provolone, and Roasted Peppers



1/2 cup purchased pesto
1/4 cup mayonnaise
4 sourdough, whole grain, or ciabatta rolls, split horizontally
4 portobello mushrooms, stemmed, dark gills scraped out
Olive oil
Roasted red peppers from jar, drained
4 cups arugula (about 2 ounces)
4 slices provolone cheese

Stir pesto and mayonnaise in small bowl to blend. Season with salt and pepper.
Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Grill rolls, cut side down, until lightly toasted. Transfer to plates. Spread grilled side of rolls with pesto mayonnaise.
Brush mushrooms on both sides with oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill, rounded side up, 4 minutes. Turn mushrooms over. Cover and grill until mushrooms are tender, about 4 minutes. Place 1 mushroom on each roll bottom. Top each with enough red pepper pieces to cover, then with arugula and cheese. Press roll tops over and serve.

And we'll follow up with an absolutely yummy dessert:

TOFFEE BARS
(Adapted from Epicurious)

Photo Credit: Epicurious
Crust
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour

Topping
7 to 8 ounces milk chocolate, broken into pieces, or 1 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips
1 cup chopped almonds, toasted
***NOTE - can substitute toffee baking bits for 1/2 of the almonds to heighten the toffee flavor!

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with parchment.
Prepare the crust. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg yolk, vanilla, and salt. On low speed, gradually beat in the flour just until mixed. The dough will be stiff. Pat the dough evenly over the bottom of the baking pan.
Bake in the center of the oven until pale gold on top, about 20 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven and scatter the chocolate pieces evenly over the crust. Return the pan to the oven for 1 minute. Remove the pan again and, using a knife, spread the chocolate evenly over the crust. Sprinkle evenly with the almonds.
Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Using a sharp knife, cut into small squares, then carefully remove from the pan with a small offset spatula or an icing spatula.

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Now for that signature drink...After spending years in Kentucky tailgating, I HAVE to include a kickoff menu that includes bourbon. But I'll also have a vodka one for us non-bourbonites.  Funny enough I got these recipes on a Delta Airlines flight - they were their "special drinks" of the month!

BOURBON BREEZE

Woodford Reserve Small Batch Bourbon
Cranberry & Apple Juice
Splash Orange Juice
Lime Wedge Garnish

SUNRISE SUNSET

Vodka
cranberry apple juice
a splash of orange juice
a squeeze of lime