Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sausage Potato Salad {#SundaySupper: Summer BBQ}

Sausage Potato Salad {#SundaySupper: Summer BBQ} |
When you think of cooking outdoors, on the grill - what do you call it?  For me, it's always been let's "cook out".  Or "wanna grill" tonight?  It's never, ever been "want to have a barbecue"?  It just sounds strange to me.  I think maybe calling it a barbecue is a southern thing?  Am I right on this one?  I grew up in Michigan and Indiana, and don't recall anybody using that term.

I used to get annoyed when I heard somebody say they were going to put some meat on the barbecue.  Don't ask me why.  I was all like "barbecue is a sauce, people".  {chuckles}  I've gotten over my aversion to calling it (or rather, hearing it called) a barbecue.  It is what it is, and over the years, I accepted that it was just another way of saying what I say.  Tomayto, tomahto.  I guess I grew up.  No comments from the peanut gallery.
Sausage Potato Salad {#SundaySupper: Summer BBQ} |
Now, let me just say that I love main grill courses (otherwise known as MEAT), but there's just something about the awesome array of side dishes that make their way to a table at a cook-out that makes me happy.  From baked beans to coleslaw to corn on the cob to pasta salad to potato salad...I love it all!

That said, I am extra fond of potato salad.  I like 'em all.  Well, except the ones that are more mayonnaise than potato.  I like potato salad with mayonnaise dressing, not mayonnaise salad with potato garnish.  Oh, and I despise Miracle Whip - so please put a label on a salad if you've made it with that, lest I lose it.  An unappetizing thought in and of itself.  But of them all, I probably love vinegar or mustard-based potato salads most of all.
Sausage Potato Salad {#SundaySupper: Summer BBQ} |
And I love "other" stuff in my potato salad.  Smoky bacon, spicy chorizo, smoked sausage or kielbasa with caramelized edges...crunchy radishes, green beans, or celery...even greens and herbs.  Heck, often times, I'd happily do away with the rest of the meal just to stuff myself with a good tater salad.  Strange?

Sausage Potato Salad

by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez
Prep Time: 10-15 minutes
Cook Time: 20-25 minutes
Keywords: side entree salad potatoes sausage summer

Ingredients (serves 4-6)
    for the salad:
    • 1 pound small yellow potatoes
    • 1 pound small red potatoes
    • 1 pound smoked sausage or kielbasa, sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds
    • 2 stalks celery (1/2 cup), finely chopped
    • 4 green onions (1/4 cup), thinly sliced
    for the dressing:
    • 4-6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (see instructions)
    • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
    • 1 tablespoon Whole Grain Dijon mustard
    • 1 tablespoon Spicy Brown mustard
    • 1 fat clove garlic, minced or pressed
    • big pinch of sea salt
    • few good grinds of black pepper
    starting the salad:
    Boil or steam the potatoes until they are just tender. Cut into halves or quarters (depending on how big they are), and place them into a large bowl. Add the celery and green onions to the bowl.

    While the potatoes are cooking, add the sausage slices to a medium non-stick (cast-iron, hard anodized, etc) skillet over medium-high heat and cook, stirring as needed, until the sausage has browned a bit. Lift the sausage slices out of the skillet, leaving as much of the rendered grease behind as possible, adding the sausage to the bowl with the potatoes.

    making the dressing:
    Measure the rendered grease from the sausage and put it into a jar with a tight fitting lid; really it depends on your sausage, but you should get about 2 tablespoons. Add enough olive oil to bring the amount of fat up to 6 tablespoons.

    Add remaining dressing ingredients to the jar, put on the lid, and shake like crazy until your dressing is thick(-ish) and well-combined.

    to finish:
    Pour the dressing over the salad ingredients in the bowl, and toss gently to coat and combine. Serve at room temperature.

    So, technically potato salad is a side dish - but I can eat a big portion of it (especially this variation) as a meal and be completely satisfied.

    adapted from Paula Deen
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    Sausage Potato Salad {#SundaySupper: Summer BBQ} |
    My neighbor pup always visits - but especially when she smells food!
    This week, with our host Jennie from The Messy Baker, the #SundaySupper crew is bringing you tons of recipes for a Summer BBQ/Cook-out!  Flip-flops, lawn chairs, kids running wild, cannon balls into the pool, squirt gun fights, music, laughter, cold drinks in the cooler, smoke from the grill, and a table laden with sides and condiments.  THAT is what I'm talking about!

    Here's what you'll find on the table this week...

    Hot Off the Grill:
    On the Side:
    Sweet Tooth:
    In the Cooler:
    Sunday Supper MovementI'd love it if you'd share some of your favorite recipes and contributions for a Summer BBQ/Cook-out in the comment section - summer's only just begun, and we have so much more outdoor cooking to do! Also, please join us for our live twitter chat tonight at 7pm (Eastern) using the #SundaySupper hashtag, and check out the Sunday Supper board on Pinterest.

     IT'S ALMOST HERE! Coming to Orlando July 19-21, the first annual Food and Wine Conference sponsored by #SundaySupper.

    Friday, June 28, 2013

    Olive Oil Poached Tuna ...inspired by Jiro Dreams of Sushi {food 'n flix}

    Olive Oil Poached Tuna |
    I didn't make sushi.  You'd think that when pulling inspiration from a flick centered around gorgeous, masterful sushi-making, I would.  But I didn't.

    It's not that I'm afraid to make it.  I'm really not.  It's just about not having access to the best ingredients, which for me matters - especially when it comes to sushi.  I'm extremely particular when it comes to sushi.  And when it came time (okay, past time - I procrastinated, as usual) to make something inspired by Jiro Dreams of Sushi, I was unable to get my hands on any superior fish or seafood.  I blame it on my distance from the ocean.

    Yes, our Food 'n Flix pick this month is Jiro Dreams of Sushi.  When Camilla told me that she'd be choosing this flick a few months ago, I was pretty excited.  The husband and I had rented and watched it not too long before that, and I was so inspired.  If she hadn't chosen it, I might have.
    Olive Oil Poached Tuna |
    It's the story of an 85-year old master of his craft, sushi making, Jiro Ono.  It's the story of how he became the best.  It's the story of his relationship with his son.  Well, sons actually - though the one set to take over his shop when he can no longer work is featured more prominently.

    But really it goes deeper than the sushi.  It's about find a craft and devoting yourself to it.  It's about mastering a craft.  It's about respect, dedication, and being the best at what you do (because why wouldn't you want to be?).  That's the basis of it, but I don't really do it justice.  I think that it is 81 minutes well-spent, and that you won't be disappointed if you sit down to watch it.

    And if you're anything like me, before it's over, you'll find yourself contemplating the logistics of hopping a plane to Tokyo.  What I wouldn't give to sit at Jiro's counter.

    Though I didn't go the route of sushi-making, I knew that I wanted to use seafood of some sort.   And while I may not think the raw tuna I can get at the market around here is sushi-worthy, it is still good.  I decided to go for an old favorite.  Something that blew my mind the first time that I made it years ago in culinary school.  A simple oil-poached tuna.
    Olive Oil Poached Tuna |
    If you've only ever opened up a can to fish out your tuna, you MUST give this simple method a try.  It produces moist, flavorful tuna that can be eaten as-is, or used in any way that you would normally use tuna.  You can vary the flavors that you infuse your oil around with them a few times to see how you like it best.  But once you've tried it, you may never go back to canned tuna again.

    I served mine as part of a simple pasta dish for lunch.  I had just enough pasta left in a box sitting in the pantry for one person.  Add a random yellow tomato, a few smashed kalamata olives, a smattering of capers, and some of the oil that was used to poach the tuna - and it's a basically a perfect meal.

    Once you decide on your occupation, you must immerse yourself in your work. You have to fall in love with your work.  Never complain about your job.  You must dedicate your life to mastering your skill.  That's the secret of success, and is the key to being regarded honorably.   ~Jiro Ono
    Olive Oil Poached Tuna |
    Olive Oil Poached Tuna

    by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez
    Prep Time: 10-15 minutes
    Cook Time: 20-30 minutes
    Keywords: poach entree dairy-free low-carb nut-free soy-free sugar-free fish tuna olive oil

    Ingredients (varies)
      amounts vary - this is more of a method than a recipe:
      • 1-inch thick tuna steaks or fillets
      • good quality Olive Oil (enough to cover)
      • fresh thyme sprigs
      • fresh oregano sprigs
      • bay leaf
      • rind of a lemon, cut into strips (yellow part only)
      • garlic cloves, peeled
      • dried red chile
      • black peppercorns
      • sea salt
      Start by choosing a pan that just is large enough to set your tuna steaks in, side by side, without overlapping, and without too much extra space. Add enough olive oil to that pan so that it will just cover the tuna, once you add it (but don't add the tuna yet) - so, maybe an 1-1/2 to 2 inches up the sides. Add a few sprigs of thyme and oregano, along with a bay leaf, a few strips of lemon rind, a clove or two of garlic, the dried chile, a smattering of peppercorns, and few big pinches of sea salt.

      Set the pot over medium heat until it just starts to bubble. Immediately remove it from the heat and carefully lower the tuna steaks into the hot oil. Let sit, undisturbed, for 20 minutes. At this point it should be just cooked through, with a tinge of pink at the center.

      At this point, it is ready to eat.

      Advance Preparation:
      Once the tuna is cooked, transfer it to a jar (or jars) with a tight-fitting lid. Pour the poaching oil over the tuna, making sure it covers the tuna. Put on the lid, and store in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.

      Serving suggestions:
      Use this as you would use canned, oil-packed tuna. I love to serve it with pasta that's been tossed with whatever veggies I have on hand, using the oil to drizzle and moisten the pasta. Use it to make the best tuna melt you've ever tasted. Use it in a salad nicoise. The possibilities are endless.
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      Olive Oil Poached Tuna |

      Food‘nFlix This round of Food 'n Flix is being hosted by Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla.  Although is the final day to submit a post, if you haven't seen Camilla's pick for this month, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, I still recommend watching's just so inspiring and (I think) awe-inducing.

      Also, I'm excited to be hosting again in July!  Stay tuned for an announcement post in a few days...we'll be watching Monsoon Wedding.  I hope you can join us!

      This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

      Thursday, June 27, 2013

      Nostalgia and #CrackerJack snacks {#giveaway}

      Cracker Jack Snacks giveaway |
      There is not a time that I don't remember craving Cracker Jack brand popcorn.  It almost always hits me at the same time ever year.  I get a massive itch for that caramel-drenched popcorn mingling with salty nuts once the Spring air begins to thaw.  That time that sneaks up between huddling on the bleachers in an over-sized sweatshirt with my legs under a blanket and sprawling on the grass wearing a t-shirt with the sleeves bunched up and pant legs rolled to my knees so that sun can kiss my shoulders and my pasty legs.

      Who knows what time I'm talking about?  That's right - BASEBALL SEASON!

      I grew up playing softball and loving baseball.  And baseball players.  Really.  If I dated a boy in high school, he played baseball*.  Apparently I had a type.  But even before then, when I was young enough to pedal my my pink Huffy down to the practice fields - mitt laced through one handlebar, my wooden bat with my name engraved on it balancing between my hand and the other handlebar - I've always loved the crack of the bat.  The magic of the dust flying through the air as somebody rounds the base at top speed.  And the reliable little rectangular boxes of Cracker Jack snacks that I could get from the snack bar...two stuck together for $1.00.  I would always rip those boxes apart as carefully as I could, so that I could eat one right away, and throw one into my basket to take home for later.
      Cracker Jack Snacks giveaway |
      And really, I guess that Cracker Jack snacks and baseball go hand-in-hand.  Know why?  Well, baseball is an American pastime.  And Americans have been enjoying Cracker Jack snacks for more than 120 years.  I didn't realize that they had been around that long!

      Now, I'm not sure if they sell them in the boxes like they used to.  But they do still have their signature prize inside.  Don't even tell me that wasn't your (secret) favorite part of eating a box of Cracker Jack snacks.

      Like the packaging, the prizes have been updated.  They include classic stickers with fun facts and special codes that offer digital codes that unlock surprises online through a free Cracker Jack-branded app featuring two nostalgic games (Baseball and Pinball).   Gotta keep up with the times, I suppose.  They have also added two new flavors: Butter Toffee (my new personal favorite), and Kettle Corn.  Plus, they've added more peanuts to the Original flavor.  Though, in my personal opinion - I'd love another giant handful of peanuts in mine!
      Cracker Jack Snacks giveaway |
      So, how 'bout you - have you tried either of the new flavors?  Does the mention of Cracker Jack snacks make you nostalgic?  What are some of your favorite Cracker Jack brand memories?  If you'd like a chance to try all 3 flavors (and you live in the USA), you can enter below for a chance to win!

      a Rafflecopter giveaway

      *Okay, they didn't all play baseball.  But the majority did.

      These Cracker Jack snack products were provided to me by Cracker Jack brand for my participation in a blogging/trial program.  Products were not intended for a favorable review.  No compensation was received for this post.  Cracker Jack brand will also be providing the product for the giveaway winner.  All opinions stated in this post are 100% my own.

      Wednesday, June 26, 2013

      Peach-Coconut Paletas {#SummerOfThePopsicle Guest Post: Muy Bueno}

      Hooray for Wednesday!  Why, you ask?  Well, if you have to ask, that means you've been missing out.  Every Wednesday since the last week in May, I've had the pleasure of welcoming some of my incredibly talented blogging friends to girlichef - and they come bearing popsicles!

      Who's Holding the Stick: Today, please help me welcome the stunning Yvette, one third of the mother/daughter blogging trio behind one of my favorite blogs, Muy Bueno Cookbook!
      Peach-Coconut Paletas {#SummerOfThePopsicle Guest Post: Muy Bueno} |
      It's summer time and the kiddos are out of school on summer vacation. Make it fun for them and take this opportunity to get them involved in the kitchen. Paletas are an easy way to introduce them to fresh summer fruits in season and get them to help you in the kitchen and have fun doing it.

      I love summer and all the fruits in season this time of year. I live in Colorado and Palisade Peaches are so sweet and juicy here, and I knew I needed to come up with a peachy surprise when girlichef invited me to share a paleta recipe. My kiddos and I headed to the farmers market and came home with a handful of peaches and lots of inspiration.
      Peach-Coconut Paletas {#SummerOfThePopsicle Guest Post: Muy Bueno} |
      I couldn't decide if I wanted a fruit based paleta or a fruit and milk based paleta, so I came up with a happy medium. This paleta is so refreshing – it’s like biting into a cold, juicy, fresh peach, and the light creamy coconut milk gives it a hint of a good old-fashioned creamsicle. What I love about using coconut milk is that it is dairy-free and the addition of diced peaches also adds a super fresh flavor. These paletas are perfect for eating on a hot day, and your kiddos won’t be begging you for money and chasing down the ice cream truck down the street.

      Buen provecho!

      Peach-Coconut Paletas
      a guest post from Yvette Marquez-Sharpnack of Muy Bueno Cookbook
      Prep Time: 10 minutes (+ time to freeze)
      Cook Time: n/a
      Keywords: dessert snack vegan soy-free nut-free low-sodium gluten-free dairy-free coconut milk peaches popsicles frozen summer

      Ingredients (8 pops)
      • 3 medium peaches, sliced
      • 3/4 cups coconut milk
      • 1⁄4 cup sugar
      • 1/2 cup peaches, diced
      In a blender add sliced peaches, coconut milk, and sugar. Blend until smooth.

      Add diced peaches into the mixture and pour into ice-pop molds. Insert a popsicle stick into each mold and freeze until pops are solid, about 6 hours or overnight.

      To release ice pops from molds, run the bottom of the molds briefly under warm water.
      Peach-Coconut Paletas {#SummerOfThePopsicle Guest Post: Muy Bueno} |
      Ripe, juicy peaches are such a source of nostalgia for me, and next to cherries, are my favorite fruit!  I know that I will be making a batch of these beauties very soon - thanks Yvette!  If you're not acquainted with Yvette and the other Muy Bueno ladies, I recommend heading over there stat to enjoy some of their wonderful recipes - from the ones handed down through the generations to modern day fare.

      You can also follow Muy Bueno on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.  Plus, they have a fantastic cookbook that was released towards the end of last year (you may remember seeing a Cookbook Spotlight here on girlichef devoted to it) that lover's of Mexican cuisine need on their bookshelves!
      Summer of the Popsicle 2

      Tuesday, June 25, 2013

      Fruit 'n Buttermilk Ice Pops + ZOKU Quick Pop Maker Giveaway! {#SummerOfThePopsicle}

      Fruit 'n Buttermilk Ice Pops + a ZOKU Quick Pop Maker Giveaway {#SummerOfThePopsicle} |
      You know that feeling that you get when you've worked really long and hard to achieve something, and finally it comes to fruition?   Time, care, precision, and sweat are the things that accomplishment are made of.  They result in a satisfaction that starts from a tiny ember deep-down inside, but eventually radiates from each and every pore.  There's nothing like in the world like it.

      Oh wait, yes there is.  It's called the thrill of instant gratification!

      That thrill is something that I live for.  It's one of the reasons that I went into food and cooking so many years back.  The look, the sounds, the scents, the mmmmm's and the oooooh's that escape from people as your food is set in front of them?  The murmurs of magnificence and devotion and love.  That is a feeling that is unrivaled.

      What am I getting at?
      Fruit 'n Buttermilk Ice Pops + a ZOKU Quick Pop Maker Giveaway {#SummerOfThePopsicle} |
      Well, if you know me (and if you don't, I swear it's true), you know that I'm a bit of a popsicle, ice pop, and paleta fanatic.  I mean, I devote whole (extended) summers to them.  They're cold, refreshing, tasty, and they come in endless variations.  And for the most part, they're quick to make.  The one and only hard part is the waiting.  The time that it takes them to go from liquid to frozen delight.  I mean, we're looking at 4 hours, at least.  Sometimes longer.

      But now, with the help of my new ZOKU Quick Pop Maker, I can have one in eager hands less than 10 minutes after I've poured the liquid into the molds.  It's pretty freakin' amazing...and fun to witness, to boot.  It's a little miracle in the quest for instant gratification.

      How would you like to the one to experience that thrill?  Picture a sweltering summer day.  The kind of day where the bright heat bends and warps the air before your eyes.  And all that you...your kids...the neighbor kids...want is a cold, icy treat in your hand.  Assuming that you have your ZOKU Quick Pop Maker hanging out in the freezer for just such an emergency, you could walk into the house, and walk back out 15 minutes later with those cold, icy treats in your hand.  People will think you're a mirage.  Until you've encouraged them to lift those treats to their parched lips; encouraged them to take a lick or a bite.

      This is where the instant gratification part comes in.  Yeah, it's like that.
      Fruit 'n Buttermilk Ice Pops + a ZOKU Quick Pop Maker Giveaway {#SummerOfThePopsicle} |
      Sounds good, right?  Well, my friend Vianney from Sweet Life and I have teamed up with ZOKU today in hopes of bringing that feeling to you.  Because so far, this summer's been a hot one - and YOU deserve a little taste of instant gratification!

      Fruit 'n Buttermilk Ice Pops
      by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez
      Prep Time: 5 minutes + freezing time
      Cook Time: n/a
      Keywords: snack dessert vegetarian soy-free low-sodium buttermilk fruit popsicles frozen summer

      Ingredients (10 (2.5 oz.) Pops)
      • 2-1/2 cups roughly chopped ripe fruit and/or berries
      • 1-1/2 cups cultured buttermilk
      • 1/3 cup orange blossom honey (or your favorite)
      • big pinch of sea salt
      Place everything into the jar of a blender and blend until smooth. Taste, add more honey if you don't think that it's sweet enough.

      Pour into popsicle molds and freeze for at least 4 hours, adding sticks at the correct time for your molds.

      You can use any combination of fruit and berries that you like for these pops. Pictured is strawberry/blackberry. One of my favorite combinations is banana/peach/cranberry. I've also tried kiwi/banana, tropical combo (pineapple/mango/banana), and banana/blueberry. Mix them up and find your favorite!

      If you're using a ZOKU Quick Pop Maker, simply pour the mixture into the frozen unit as directed, and wait for 7-9 minutes. Remove as directed, and enjoy.
      Fruit 'n Buttermilk Ice Pops + a ZOKU Quick Pop Maker Giveaway {#SummerOfThePopsicle} |
      So, what is YOUR favorite type of ice pop, popsicle, and/or paleta - and how badly would you like to have one in your hand in less than 10 minutes!?  The awesome team at ZOKU is providing TWO of their Quick Pop Makers, one each for my friend Vianney of Sweet Life and myself to give away!  How awesome is that?

      In honor of the Summer of the Popsicle, we are holding our giveaways together...and you have all sorts of chances to win.  Simply complete as many of the entry steps as you wish in the rafflecopter form below (it's the same one on both of our sites).  Best of luck!

      a Rafflecopter giveaway

      Summer of the Popsicle 2
      I was provided with (one) free ZOKU Quick Pop Maker to use as I pleased. Zoku is also providing the product(s) for the giveaway.  I received no compensation for this post, and all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own. 

      Sunday, June 23, 2013

      Fish in a Jar {#PicnicGame '13}

      Fish in a Jar {Picnic Game '13} |
      Picnic time!  Picnic time!

      I can hardly believe that it has already the fifth anniversary of the Picnic Game, organized by the incredibly sweet Louise of Months of Edible Celebrations!  I have participated every year so far, and look forward to many more.

      Are you familiar with the Picnic Game?  Basically, everybody participating picks one letter of the alphabet and brings a dish to the picnic that starts with "their" letter.  The first person will have an "A".  So they will say...  I'm going to a picnic and I'm bringing Apple Pie.  The second person has "B", so they would say... I'm going on a picnic and I'm bringing Apple Pie, and Bacon Sandwiches.  The third person would say... I'm going on a picnic and I'm bringing Apple Pie, Bacon Sandwiches, and Cranberry Salad.  And so on.

      Fun, right!?
      Fish in a Jar {Picnic Game '13} |
      This year I decided to think out of the box and bring something a little different.  Something that I've been wanting to try making.  Basically, it's steamed fish.  Very simple.  It's the technique...the method...used that brings a fun twist.  The fish and its flavorings are sealed in a jar and set into a pot of boiling water to steam.  Aside from the "cool factor", it's a great to keep your house from smelling like fish.  Which doesn't bother me all that much, but there are days when it could come in really handy.  Laundry day.  House-cleaning day.  Thursday.  You know.  Plus, my hubby the fish-hater appreciates it.

      I thought it could also be a fun thing to take on a picnic.  Assuming you're not going far to have your picnic.  Once the fish has finished cooking, you could lift the jars into an insulated container and slide it into your picnic basket.  Take the jar of dressing along.  Maybe a container of jasmine or basmati rice.  A loaf of crusty bread.  A bottle of crisp white wine.  Some ripe, juicy fruit or berries.

      That's my kind of picnic.

      Now that you know what's in my picnic basket, why don't we see what is in everybody else's picnic baskets for the 2013 edition of the Picnic Game!  (I will add updates as they come in - please forgive the empty lines below.)

      I'm going on a picnic, and I'm bringing...

      Aloo Gobi,
      Blueberry Cucumber Salsa,
      Crispy Curry Fried Chicken,
      Dying for Chocolate Chocolate Cake,
      Eton Mess, and

      FISH IN A JAR!
      Fish in a Jar {Picnic Game '13} |
      Fish in a Jar
      by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez
      Prep Time: 10 minutes
      Cook Time: 20-30 minutes
      Keywords: simmer entree dairy-free gluten-free low-carb nut-free soy-free sugar-free fish herbs

      Ingredients (serves 2-4)
        for the fish
        • 4 (4-6 ounce each) firm white fish fillets (cod, perch, etc)
        • 2 small bunches thyme
        • 2 small bunches parsley w/ stalks
        • 2 sprigs oregano
        • 10 black peppercorns
        • 2-1/2 tablespoons olive oil
        • 2 cloves garlic, peeled & smashed
        for the dressing
        • 5 tablespoons olive oil
        • juice of 1 lemon
        • 1 clove garlic, peeled & smashed
        • big pinch of sea salt
        • few grates of freshly ground black pepper
        To make this, you will need two low and wide preserving jars with watertight lids.

        Place one fish fillet in each jar. Place half of the herbs on top of each fillet, and then set the other two fillets on top of the herbs. Divide the peppercorns and garlic between the jars, and sprinkle each with salt and and half of the olive oil. Close and seal the jars.

        Place the jars in a wide pot so that they aren't touching, and add enough water to cover at least to the neck of the jars. Remove the jars from the pot and bring the water to a boil. Carefully lower the jars back into the boiling water (again, so they're not touching), and return to a very gentle simmer. Simmer until fish turns white, 20-30 minutes. Carefully lift the jars from the pot and let sit and cool for a few minutes before opening.

        While the fish is cooking, place all of the ingredients for the dressing into a jar with a lid and shake like a madman until they are well-combined. Let sit while the fish finishes cooking.

        To serve, lift fish out of the jar and serve on a plate with some of the dressing spooned on top.

        The broth that collects in the jars after steaming can be used to dress a bit of rice to go with the fish.

        slightly adapted from Recipes and Dreams from an Italian Life by Tessa Kiros
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        Fish in a Jar {Picnic Game '13} |
        I am also sharing this post with IHCC theme: June Potluck

        Saturday, June 22, 2013

        Lemon Drop Granita {she made, ella hace}

        Lemon Drop Granita {she made, ella hace: nieves} |
        Well, summer is officially here!  And to celebrate, Leslie and I decided to break out the Nieves for she made, ella hace this month.  Nieves are basically cold, icy treats.  The word nieve is used to describe all sorts of cold things, even snow or ice.  So, potentially we could have chosen to make paletas or ice pops, ice cream, raspados, snow cones, or anything along those lines to share with you.

        Knowing me, you'd think I'd have made some paletas to share, right?  Well, I don't want to overwhelm you with paletas - and since I'm bringing you at least one type every week for the whole summer, I decided that I wanted to go in a different direction today.  I had every intention of making a raspado.  I've been craving a coconut horchata raspado with bright summer raspberries.  And mi esposo has been craving a favorite of his that he used to get in Mexico, a rompope con pasas raspado - which I imagine is sort of along the lines of rum raisin ice cream.

        Unfortunately, the time flew by too quickly these past couple of weeks, and I haven't had the chance to make them yet.  But I will soon.  Promise.  Instead, I went a similar route and made a granita.  Which is definitely close enough.  The Italian version is a water, sugar, flavoring version where they are all frozen together (as opposed to making a flavored syrup to pour over crushed ice).  I went for one of my favorite hot weather flavors - sweet, tangy lemon.  BUT, with an added twist.  Vodka!  It's basically a Lemon Drop cocktail in frozen form.  Summertime fun for a sweaty, frazzled mami.  I like it.
        Lemon Drop Granita {she made, ella hace: nieves} |
        Now, mi amiga Leslie, on the other hand - she DID make a I'd give anything to have in my hands today as I walk outside into the hot and sticky 90° heat.  As a matter of fact, I think eating my Lemon Drop Granita, and Leslie's Nieve Raspada de Jamaica would be a match made in heaven!  What do you think?

        Also, be sure to visit Leslie all week long, because starting Monday, she's going to be doing a full week of Nieves Raspadas!  I cannot wait.  I know she'll inspire me to get my booty in gear and make the ones we are craving this week, as well.
        Lemon Drop Granita {she made, ella hace: nieves} |
        Lemon Drop Granita
        by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez
        Prep Time: 5-10 minutes (+ overnight in the freezer)
        Cook Time: n/a
        Keywords: snack dessert vegan nut-free soy-free gluten-free dairy-free alcohol lemons vodka frozen summer

        Ingredients (serves 4-6)
        • 3 cups simple syrup
        • 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from approx. 10-12 lemons)
        • 1/2 cup (4 fluid ounce) vodka
        • 1 lemon sliced paper thin, optional
        Whisk the simple syrup, lemon juice, and vodka together. Pour into an 8-inch square metal pan (or something similar). Add the lemon slices, if using.

        Place in the freezer overnight, occasionally scraping across the surface with the tines of a fork.
        When you're ready to serve the granita, rake a fork through it, and scoop it into cold serving glasses or dishes, with a spoon and/or a straw.

        to make simple syrup:
        Combine equal parts sugar and water in a pan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Store in a covered jar or bottle in the refrigerator. For the amount needed in this recipe, you'll need approximately 2 cups of each.
        Powered by Recipage
        Lemon Drop Granita {she made, ella hace: nieves} |
        What happens when two American girls who are both married to Mexican guys find out that although one of them lives in the U.S. and one of them lives in Mexico, they both love eating the same food?  Well, naturally they decide to get "together" the only way they can and cook up the same dishes.  Or perhaps take the same ingredients and talking about them in their own voice or using them in their own way. 

        Leslie and I have teamed up to occasionally cook/bake/make a our own versions of the same food.  We want to see how similar (or how different) they turn out.  Other times we will pick an ingredient and use it however we choose...or maybe just talk about it.  Good food knows no borders and we hope to share the food we love with you.  It's not a competition, it's a showcase.  We will post on the same day as each other and would love to hear your thoughts on what we've made and how you make it. 

        Join me (here at girlichef) and Leslie in her kitchen (at La Cocina de Leslie) for some delicious food.
        She Made, Ella Hace Banner- and

        Friday, June 21, 2013

        BLEND E-Book Release + Giveaway (over $1750 is prizes!) #BlendSmoothies

        BLEND E-Book Release + Giveaway (over $1750 in prizes!) #BlendSmoothies |
        photo by Faith Gorsky, reprinted with permission
        What do you do when you find out that two of your food blogging friends are releasing not just one, but TWO E-Books? You join in the fun, that's what! In this case, those friends are Alyssa from Everyday Maven and Faith from An Edible Mosaic. They've teamed up to create two gorgeous E-Books focusing on Artisanal Smoothies (and I have the sneaking suspicion that there are more to come).

        Now, I am a smoothie-lover. Especially during the hot months, but also for those mornings when I just don't have the time or the motivation to make much else. I grew up with that motto. You know the one. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. And I still believe that. Sometimes, you've just gotta take that breakfast in a power-packed liquid form.

        I know that some people think smoothies are boring - but they don't have to be. Alyssa and Faith demonstrate that beyond a doubt. BLEND has been a labor of love for Faith and Alyssa. Being smoothie-obsessed themselves, they had a common interest in artisanal smoothies, and the desire to take smoothie-making to the next level - elevate it, if you will. They've been up countless nights for the last year and a half developing, photographing, and refining recipes and flavors until they were just right.

        BLEND smoothies use anything from a few super fresh simple ingredients, to a well-thought out combination of a pinch of spice and a dash of extract to achieve their balanced flavor profiles. All of the pantry staples can easily be found in any health food store, and most regular grocery stores, if you don't already have them on hand.

        Not only are all BLEND smoothies made with clean, easy-to-find ingredients, but they are also dairy-free, gluten-free, and vegan in most cases.
        BLEND E-Book Release + Giveaway (over $1750 in prizes!) #BlendSmoothies |
        The first book, BLEND: The Basics, is packed with tons of tips and tricks to help you make the most of your smoothies, including how to wash fresh produce, flash-freeze fruit, make sure your smoothies come together as quickly as possible without sacrificing their artisanal flavor. There's also information on how to put together a "smoothie kit" - plus much, much more!
        BLEND E-Book Release + Giveaway (over $1750 in prizes!) #BlendSmoothies |
        This book is being released today (June 21, 2013), and the best part? It is FREE until July 5th! After that, it will cost $7.99. (So yeah, GO GET YOUR COPY NOW!)

        BLEND E-Book Release + Giveaway (over $1750 in prizes!) #BlendSmoothies |
        The second book, BLEND: Artisanal Smoothies for Food Lovers, Summer Volume 1 is a compilation of 25 summer and fall-themed smoothies such as Gingered Apricot, Minted Strawberry Melon, Vanilla Fig, and Concord Grape + Greens (YUM!).
        BLEND E-Book Release + Giveaway (over $1750 in prizes!) #BlendSmoothies |
        This can be purchased now for $9.99.  After July 5th, Summer volume I can still be purchased separately, or as a bundle with The Basics for $14.99.

        Now, how about seeing one of their delicious, nutricious, artisanal smoothies first-hand?  I wouldn't mind waking up to this every day.

        Maple Walnut Coffee Smoothie
        BLEND E-Book Release + Giveaway (over $1750 in prizes!) #BlendSmoothies |
        by Faith Gorsky & Alyssa Brantley, reprinted with permission
        Prep Time: 5 minutes
        Cook Time: n/a
        Keywords: beverage breakfast vegan dates nuts oats

        Ingredients (1 smoothie)
        • 2 tablespoons walnuts
        • 2 tablespoons rolled oats (old-fashioned or quick-cooking)
        • 3/4 cup (185 ml) plain, unsweetened almond milk
        • 1 packet (or 1/2 tablespoon) instant powdered coffee
        • 1 pinch sea salt
        • 1 packet stevia
        • 1 teaspoon maple extract
        • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
        • 2 Medjool dates, pitted and coarsely chopped
        • 6-8 ice cubes
        Add the walnuts and oats to a blender and pulse until they form a powder.

        Add all remaining ingredients (except the ice) into the blender and process until smooth.

        Add the ice and pulse until pulverized.

        Transfer to a serving glass; serve immediately.
        Powered by Recipage

        Win over $1750 in prizes during the BLEND: Artisanal Smoothies for Food Lovers Launch Party!

        Thursday, June 20, 2013

        Win a ticket to the Food & Wine Conference! #FWConf13

        Food & Wine Conference ticket giveaway |
        I have been blogging for four and a quarter years.  And I have NEVER, ever, ever been to a blogging conference.

        Like, ever.

        It bums me out a little bit.  There have been plenty that I've wanted to go to.  But I know I'm not the only one out here in food-blog-landia who hasn't attended one.  The glitter and the glam have a way of carrying me away.  It amazes me how people...well, food blogging people...can afford to do all of these glamorous things.  I definitely get caught up in "the dream".  I've always been easily star-struck, you see.

        But I am hoping that next month, I will be able to count myself among those bloggers who hop on an airplane and jet off to another state to be wooed and wowed by fabulous brands and informative learning sessions.  I am about halfway to being able to afford my first trip into "that world".
        Food and Wine Conference ticket giveaway |

        I'm talking about the 1st annual Food & Wine Conference in Orlando, Florida!  Have you heard of it yet?  There's going to be some fabulous speakers and sessions.  Here are the top 3 4 sessions on list (the ones I'm looking most forward to...though I want to attend them all):

        1. The Zen of Blogging for Business with Jaden and Scott Hair of Steamy Kitchen
        2. Writing that gets noticed by “the Media” | It’s more than just your blog! with Janet Keeler (Tampa Bay Times), Jeff Houck (Tampa Tribune), Gayle Guyardo (Tampa News Channel 8), and Pam Settle (Good Living Magazine)
        3. The Process of Writing a Cookbook with Bruce Shaw (Harvard Commons Press), Katie Workman (the MOM 100 blog), Doe Coover (The Doe Coover Agency), and Mary Goodbody (Author)
        4. The World Through Your Lens with Irvin Lin (Eat the Love), Carla Cardello (Chocolate Moosey), Cheri Alberts (The Watering Mouth), and Renee Dobbs (Magnolia Days)

        Plus, I am dying to see The Perfect Cooking Demonstration by the amazing Sara Moulton!

        These are just a few of the MANY fabulous things that the Food & Wine Conference has in their line-up.  There are also fabulous sponsors like #SundaySupper, Idaho Potatoes, Duda Farm Fresh Foods, Colavita, and Mario to name a few.  Plus the stunning Rosen Shingle Creek, which is where the conference is being held.  Seriously, one look and you'll be hooked!

        So, are you going?  Do you want to go?  Do you need a ticket?  Well, I just so happen to be holding a giveaway along 9 other fabulous bloggers - and we are giving away one ticket to the conference ($250 value)!  You have so many chances to win, it's ridiculous.  Simply enter through rafflecopter below.  You have from now until the end of the day on June 26 to enter!

        Head on over to the Food & Wine Conference website and check out the schedule and all of the fabulous sessions, speakers, and sponsors on the roster.  What are you most excited for!?

        a Rafflecopter giveaway

        Good luck!  (Fingers crossed that I will see you there.)

        Wednesday, June 19, 2013

        Parsley-Lemonade Ice Pops {#SummerOfThePopsicle Guest Post: Kahakai Kitchen}

        Please welcome my friend Deb today.  I think I've "known" Deb for about 4 years now - she was one of the first people I "met" when I first started blogging.  To this day, we still cook "together" by bringing our shared love of foodies movies and foodie books to life in the kitchen.  And she may be the only person in the world who loves soup more than I do.  Oh, and did I meantion that Deb lives in paradise (aka Hawaii)?  It's true, and I am jealous.  I can totally see myself on the beaches of Hawaii with one of these babies in each hand!

        Who's Holding the Stick: Deb from Kahakai Kitchen

        It’s the Summer of the Popsicle! Actually living in a place where the temperature comes in at the mid-70’s to mid 80’s°F, I enjoy popsicles most of the year. But still, when the trade winds die off and the humidity rises, there is nothing like a popsicle or paleta to cool down with. So I am very excited to be “holding the stick” this week for my pal Heather and offering up a popsicle inspired by the lemonade at my favorite restaurant.
        Parsley-Lemonade Ice Pops {#SummerOfThePopsicle Guest Post: Kahakai Kitchen} |
         If you come to Oahu and ask me for a restaurant recommendation (and are looking for excellent inventive food and not a touristy luau!), I am going to send you to Town in Kaimuki. In fact, I’ll meet you there! Town does everything well—their motto is “Local first, organic whenever possible, with Aloha always.”  Homemade bread and pasta, house-cured meats abound but I salivate just thinking about their French fries—perfectly crisp and fried with assorted herbs so in addition to the potatoes, you get pieces of crisp herby goodness with each bite. Lunch or dinner, it has to be started or accompanied by the fries and a something tasty to drink. Although they do have a fantastic menu of cocktails, at lunchtime I prefer a glass of Town Lemonade—a spot-on blend of sweet and tangy with a shot of parsley juice. I think a big part of the allure (we eat with our eyes), is the layer of bright green on top of the lemonade. But the little burst of the green, almost grassy herb is refreshing. Yep, a bowl of fries and a big glass of Town lemonade and you can color me happy.
        Parsley-Lemonade Ice Pops {#SummerOfThePopsicle Guest Post: Kahakai Kitchen} |
        Photos by Town Restaurant, The Honolulu Star-Adviser & Kahakai Kitchen
         When coming up with my guest post entry for Summer of The Popsicle, there are plenty of tropical fruits and things to choose from here. Still, my mind kept going back to the lemonade and how great it would taste frozen on a stick.  These pops might seem a little odd (although I prefer quirky like me!) and they are probably for more adult palates. Still, they do taste fantastic—fresh and sweetly tart. They are the perfect way to cool down on a hot day. And, with that parsley and lemon combination, they would make a heck of a palate cleanser too! ;-)

        Parsley Lemonade Ice-Pops
        By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen, inspired by Town Restaurant 

        For six pops (depending on the size of your molds of course):
        -about 2 cups strong lemonade: 
        • I used about 1 ¼ cups freshly squeezed lemon juice with about ¼ cup agave syrup and ½ cup water and 1 drops yellow food-coloring (optional to pep up the color). 
        •  You could also buy your lemonade—bottled or frozen concentrate. It is best if it is a bit stronger than you would drink it—so all of the flavor comes through when frozen).
        • Chill until you are ready to assemble pops. Layered pops work better and take less time when the liquids are cold. 
        -about ¾ fresh parsley juice: 
        • If you have a juicer use a medium-large bunch of fresh, flat-leaf parsley (leaves and stems), washed and patted dry. Juice parsley, strain if needed, and chill until ready to assemble pops. 
        • If you don’t have a juicer, place a large bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley, (leaves and stems) washed and left damp, into a good blender or food processor and puree on high until as smooth as possible. (You may have to add a little water to get it going in the blender.) Then put the mixture through a fine sieve, pushing against any solids with a wooden spoon to get as much juice as possible.  Chill until ready to assemble pops. 
        To assemble pops:
        •  Starting with the lemonade mixture, pour about an inch or so into the bottom of molds. Put the molds into the freezer and let set for about 30 minutes or until fairly firm. 
        • Pour about 1/3 to inch of the parsley juice on top of the frozen lemonade and return molds to freezer for about 40 minutes or until firm. (Note: the parsley layer seems to take longer to firm up. You can tell from the layering on some of my pops that my first parsley layer wasn’t as firm as it should have been. 
        • Continue to alternate layers until molds are full. At the final layer, insert the popsicle sticks. If you have trouble inserting the sticks into the frozen mixture, use the tip of a pairing knife to carefully make a slit into the center of the frozen pop, then insert stick. The last layer of liquid should freeze the sticks into place.  
        • Freeze for several hours, or overnight. When ready to enjoy, carefully remove molds and serve. 
        Parsley-Lemonade Ice Pops {#SummerOfThePopsicle Guest Post: Kahakai Kitchen} |
        There you have it! You could of course just mix it all up together rather than layering, but it looks prettier and it is fun to get a lick of the lemonade, then a hit of the parsley layer, and then back to the lemonade… you get the picture.

        Enjoy with Aloha!

        Summer of the Popsicle 2

        Mmmmm...these sound ridiculously refreshing, don't they!? Thanks so much, Deb! I hope you'll drop by and visit Deb at her blog, Kahakai Kitchen (psssttt.... if you make soup, salads, or sandwiches at any given time during the week, she has a weekly round-up on Sundays called Souper Sundays.  Send her over your posts and she'll share them!).  You can also find her on twitter.

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