Spring Rolls

Here we are…in the dog days of summer. When we have hot days (which I love!) the last thing I want to do is turn on the oven and eat a hot meal. Light, cooling meals are perfect after a day in the hot sun and Spring Rolls were calling my name today! This is a great recipe because the only thing you really cook is the shrimp and that takes about 4 minutes.

While the shrimp only takes 4 minutes, making Spring Rolls are a bit time consuming. There’s a lot of chopping and soaking and the minutes fly by pretty quickly. Since there are a lot of steps to this recipe, it makes for a fun date night. Ben and I made these together when we first started dating and we had a great time in the kitchen together. You really can’t mess these up, so it is sure to be a success!

ingredients

Spring Rolls with Spicy Peanut Sauce- makes 6-8 rolls, original recipe

Ingredients
1 small carrot, peeled and julienned
1/2 cucumber, peeled and julienned
1/2 sweet pepper (red, orange, yellow, or purple) julienned
2 oz. cellophane noodles, really thin rice noodles
2-3 tbsp cilantro leaves
6-8 large basil leaves
16-20 shrimp, cooked, tails removed and cut in half through the middle
1tsp crushed peanuts
6-8 rice paper rounds, 8″ diameter
one recipe of peanut sauce, below

Peanut Sauce Ingredients
1/8 c. creamy peanut butter
1 1/2 tsp hoisin sauce
3/4 tsp soy sauce
1-2 small garlic clove, mashed into a paste
1/4 tsp sriracha chili paste, more for spicier sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp lime juice
3 tbsp hot water
1 tsp crushed peanuts

spring roll

In a bowl, pour boiling water over the cellophane noodles, let sit for 15 minutes, strain and cool. Once everything is prepared, fill a shallow bowl with warm water, I used a shallow pan. One at a time, place a rice paper round in the warm water for about 5-10 seconds, until pliable, and lay it on a work surface. Place a basil leaf, some cellophane noodles, carrots, cucumber, pepper, cilantro, and crushed peanuts on the rice paper then wrap like a burrito set aside. Continue to roll the spring rolls, one at at time, using 1/6 of the ingredients in each one.

To make the peanut sauce, combine all ingredients and whisk in water until it reaches the desired consistency. Add a little more water for a thinner consistency if desired. Pour into a serving dish that’s easy for dipping or spooning sauce from and top with crushed peanuts and a squirt of sriracha if desired. Serve the spring rolls with peanut sauce.

Spring Rolls

Enjoy!

Tips for making this recipe:

  • Preparing all the ingredients before you start to roll the Spring Rolls is the key to success for this recipe
  • You can make these ahead and stick them in the fridge until it’s time to eat.
  • On the other hand, these keep for a day or two in the fridge for leftovers
  • If the peanut sauce gets too thick in the refrigerator, just add another tablespoon of water
  • These are a perfect appetizer for a dinner party!

If you try this recipe, leave a note in the comments to tell me how it turned out! I’d love to hear from you!

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Filed under Party, Thai

Roasted Pepper Relish over Sautéed Fish

In the summer issue of the Cook Fresh magazine, I found a great recipe for a roasted pepper relish they recommend to top a grilled steak, chicken, or fish. It looked so delicious, I had to try it! This meal is my new favorite and I can’t wait to make it again!

Greek quinoa

Roasted Pepper Relish- makes 4 servings, original recipe

Ingredients
2-3 red or orange bell peppers
1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved
1/4 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped
1tsp dried oregano or greek seasoning
2 Tbs. thinly sliced scallions
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1-2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 minced jalapeño or serrano
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon plus a squeeze of lemon juice
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Place the peppers on a baking sheet and into the oven for 20 minutes. Rotate the peppers and bake for an additional 20 minutes or until charred. You can also roast the peppers on the grill, it’s up to you.

Put the peppers in a bowl and let sit until cool enough to handle. Peel the charred skin and discard. Don’t be too concerned if flecks of skin remain attached. Cut the peppers into strips.

Put the pepper pieces in a medium bowl and add the remaining ingredients, stirring well and seasoning to taste with lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

pepper relish

This relish pairs perfectly with meatier fish. At the store, I couldn’t decide between Halibut and Snapper, so I got one of each! I knew the relish would have a ton of flavor so I didn’t marinate the fish at all. I rinsed it, sprinkled on a little salt and pepper, and placed it skin side up in a medium hot sauté pan with a little olive oil.

fish

When cooking fish, there is only one rule: DON’T TOUCH THE FISH! If you try to move the fish at all before it’s done cooking, it will flake and stick to the pan which creates a huge mess (speaking from experience). If you keep the heat at medium, the fish should cook evenly. Serve the fish skin side down with the relish on top. If it’s cooked properly, it should easily come away from the skin.

Tips for making this recipe:

  • The relish keeps well in the refrigerator in a sealed container for at least a week. It’s best to make it a couple of hours ahead to allow the flavors to develop.
  • If you have left over relish, serve it another day with a delicious cheese plate.
  • Use whatever fresh herbs you have on hand to change up the flavor a bit: cilantro, parsley, chives, etc.

 

Enjoy!
If you try this recipe, leave a note in the comments to tell me how it turned out! I’d love to hear from you!

 

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Filed under Greek, How-To, Seafood

Seasonal Flavor- Cherries

Cherries

Hopefully, you’ve noticed the beautiful cherries that have showed up in the supermarkets and farmer’s markets over the past few weeks. Cherries are not only delicious, but they have a lot of health benefits such as: help ease arthritis pain, help fight cancer, help you sleep, help lower blood pressure, and help to keep you trim.

I couldn’t resist buying cherries at the supermarket last week. I knew I wanted to make something delicious with them but I wasn’t sure what. I was reading through old blog posts and saw a recipe on Smitten Kitchen for Cherry Galettes. That was it, I was going to try my hand at making a galette. As I was browsing Pinterest, I found even more recipes for Cherry Galettes and one in particular for “Drunken Cherry Galettes.” Sold!

cherry galette

Drunken Cherry Galettes- makes 2 galettes to serve 4-8 people, original recipe

Ingredients
1 package Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crusts
~1 1/4 lb cherries, (pitted to yield 1 lb)
1 cup champagne or sparkling wine (I used Moet Champagne but you can use any kind you like to drink)
1/4 cup sugar
Juice and Zest of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp cornstarch
1 egg whisked with 1 tbsp water
Coarse sugar for sprinkling
Vanilla ice cream, for serving

Pit the cherries and place in a shallow dish. Pour the champagne, lemon juice and zest, and sugar over the cherries stirring to mix well. Let sit one hour at room temp (longer is fine). Set a strainer over a sauce pan and pour the cherries into the strainer, scraping any undissolved sugar from the bowl, and drain well. Remove 1/4 cup of wine and reserve. Simmer the wine mixture in the pot until thickened and reduced to about 1/4 cup.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment. Sprinkle cornstarch over the cherries and add the reserved 1/4 cup wine, stir until well mixed. Unroll both pie shells on the baking sheet and mound 1/2 of the cherries in the center of each circle of dough. Fold the edges towards the center and drizzle 1-2 tablespoons of the liquid left in the bowl over each dessert. Brush the pastry dough with egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until bubbly and golden brown. Let sit for at least 5 minutes before serving. Brush wine reduction over the fruit in each tart, top with a scoop of ice cream, and drizzle with more wine reduction.

Cheers

Enjoy!

Tips for making this recipe:

  • If you’d prefer to make your own pie crust, go for it! Check out the original recipe (link above) for her version or the Smitten Kitchen (link above) for her version.
  • If you make your own crust, you can make 4 smaller galettes
  • These galettes are delicious hot from the oven or the next day. They will keep outside of the refrigerator for 2-3 days and up to a week refrigerated.
  • Try drizzling dark chocolate sauce or salted caramel sauce over the top!

If you try this recipe, leave a note in the comments to tell me how it turned out! I’d love to hear from you!

 

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Filed under Dessert

Chasing Flavor in…Jamaica!

There is so much great food to try in Jamaica and this girl was definitely not sad about being there for 10 delicious days! I knew there would be plenty of jerk chicken, but there were some surprises in store for me in Jamaica. Let’s start with the drinks.

jamaica drinks

 

I first tried a “Yellowbird” which was a pineapple fruity drink made with Jamaican rum, of course. I’m not such a huge pineapple fan, but this was pretty good. Wine seemed a little hard to come by in the restaurants, especially in Negril. One restaurant actually had to go to the store to get us a bottle! Red Stripe is brewed in Jamaica and is a great lighter beer. I prefer Red Stripe Light but the regular is okay too. We ordered it when we got home and it just wasn’t the same taste. Maybe it tastes better when you have an awesome view. Last but not least, is my absolute new favorite drink, the “Dirty Banana.” Like I said in an earlier post, this was my drink of choice in Jamaica and I had to have one every day!

Mystic India

photos taken from Mystic India’s Facebook page

While I was in Jamaica, I tried two different Indian Restaurants. Both times, the friends I was eating with ordered a ton of food for the table to share. This is such a great way to order when you are trying something new. In Ocho Rios, we went to Passage to India and had Butter Chicken, a delicious vegetarian dish- Karahi Vegetables, and Tandoori Chicken. It was so good, I couldn’t stop eating. This was the first time I had ever been to an Indian Restaurant and I was surprised at how much I loved it! After talking about this experience, another friend took Ben and I to Mystic India in Montego Bay and it was just as good! At Mystic, we tried Saag Chicken (cooked in a spinach gravy), some sort of Mutton- one bite was enough for me, and a few other awesome appetizers. I will be seeking out Indian restaurants here in Charleston now. If you have any rec’s, let me know!

Lobster

Each day we were on the beach in Negril, a Jamaican would kayak up to the beach with stingrays following him. Turns out, he was out fishing each morning and would clean the fish right in front of our hotel. The stingrays were harmless, they just wanted some breakfast! He was selling the fresh lobsters for $7/each. We had to try it! He was so nice, he took the lobster home and cooked it for us then brought it back. When he brought it back, it was still too hot to touch. This lobster was the most delicious lobster we have ever tasted. It was very sweet and we loved being able to crack it open on the beach.

patties

There was another lady on the beach selling fresh fruit and patties. Patties are the thing in Jamaica, you may have seen something similar to this in the freezer section of the grocery store. It’s a sort of savory pastry dough filled with chicken, veggies, or beef then flash fried. We tried the chicken patties and noticed some Jamaican and Indian spices in the chicken mixture. The more flavor the better! The fruit; pineapples, Jamaican apples, and bananas, were so much sweeter than we are used to. It was like dessert. Can you believe our lunch was $8?! Add two red stripes and call it perfect!

Jerk

Jamaican Jerk is something to write home about. I am still looking up recipes and methods of cooking jerk chicken and as soon as I get it right, I will share the recipe with you! If you’ve never had jerk, you can taste the smoke on the meat from the grill but also all of the spices they use for the rub. Each place has their own spin on Jerk sauce- some more sweet like Sweet Baby Rays BBQ and some very spicy! It’s all pretty spicy though. And delicious! Outside of bacon, I’m not a huge pork eater and I think I may have preferred Jerk Pork to Jerk Chicken. My favorite jerk sauce was at Scotchies at Discovery Bay- the sauce was sooooo spicy! In Negril, right at the Treehouse where we were staying, there was a little beach restaurant/shack where the Singing Chef would cook jerk chicken and pork each day. He calls himself the Singing Chef because he sings as he cooks. He was super nice and makes a great jerk sauce!

Negril Beach

Thanks, Jamaica! We will be back!

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Filed under Travel

Dirty Banana

I found a new summer drink while vacationing in Jamaica, the Dirty Banana. I became obsessed, I had to have one every single day. And then, in the airport while waiting on our flight I was overcome with the urge to buy Rum Cream at the Duty Free shop. You see, I was reading recipes online and found out that Rum Cream isn’t easily available in the States. While our flight was boarding, I ran over to the shop and scooped up a bottle. Hi, my name is Sarah, and I’m addicted to Dirty Bananas.

Dirty Banana

Michelle at Coco La Palm made my favorite version of this delightful drink. She eyeballed all the measurements, so I’m still trying to play with the ratios to get the perfect Dirty Banana. I think I will make another one tonight.

Dirty Banana- makes enough for 1-2 people

Ingredients
1 frozen banana
1 shot Jamaica rum cream
1/2 shot Kahlua or another coffee liqueur
1/2 shot Bailey’s Irish Cream
1/2 shot creme de cacao (I use Godiva dark chocolate liqueur)
ice

Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until completely smooth. The longer you blend, the better. The consistency will be similar to a milkshake. Garnish with a slice of banana if you wish.

Tips for making this recipe:

  • Add more or less of any ingredient if you desire a stronger/different flavor
  • Take the frozen banana out of the freezer about an hour or so before making your drink, it’ll be easier to peel
  • When freezing bananas, make sure they are ripe. Stick a few in there, you will want to make this drink again and again and again…
  • If you can’t find Jamaican Rum Cream, add a little milk

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Filed under Drinks/Cocktails

Traveling in Jamaica!

Ben and I love to travel! We each made lists of 10 places (5 stateside and 5 abroad) we want to go then compared them. We’re trying to hit as many places on our lists as we can. After our sightseeing trip to Paris, we both wanted a relaxing vacation. We found a Groupon for Negril, Jamaica and after some research (online and through friends, thanks Meghan!) we booked it!

Negril Jamaica

This was the second trip (Cozumel  was first) I’ve taken using Groupon or Living Social and again, we were not disappointed. Negril Treehouse was so easy to work with while booking our dates. The Groupon even included transportation to and from the airport which was nice since it’s about one hour and a half away.

Ben and I- Negril

While in Negril, we relaxed on the beach every day, it was so nice to just be lazy for a few days. After our two trips this year, we’ve decided we will alternate sightseeing vacations with relaxing ones, it’s a perfect combo.

Negril sunset

After we planned this trip, my regional manager mentioned that she needed help in our accounts in Jamaica so of course I volunteered. I was fortunate enough to be able to go to Jamaica five days early for work. While working, I stayed in Montego Bay at Half Moon Bay. It was an absolutely beautiful resort.

Half Moon Bay beach

From here, I traveled to Runaway Bay and Ocho Rios so I got to see a lot of the island (still a lot left however). The food was phenomenal (more on that later this week) and everyone I worked with couldn’t have been nicer. I learned so much about Jamaica while I was there. Ben and I can’t wait to go back!

Ben and I- Montego Bay

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Tequila Shrimp

Wow! Have I been busy this summer! I think this is the first weekend I’ve been home since the beginning of June, at least that’s what it feels like. Since I have been traveling a ton, I haven’t been cooking as much. I was able to make this awesome Tequila Shrimp dish a couple of times last month. It’s always delicious and an easy go to for a quick-to-put-together meal. Serve it with rice or as tacos, it’s up to you!

ingredients

Tequila Shrimp- serves 4, original recipe

Ingredients
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 white onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeño, minced
3/4-1lb shrimp, peeled, deveined
1/4 cup tequila
1 heirloom tomato, diced
2 ears of corn, cooked and cut off the cob
2 limes, juiced
1 handful chopped cilantro
1 avocado, peeled, pitted, diced
Salt and fresh ground black pepper

In a medium cast iron or saute pan with the olive oil, saute the onions, garlic, and jalapeño. When the onions are translucent, add the shrimp and continue to saute for 2-3 minutes. Then add the tequila and flame off the alcohol. Then add the tomatoes and corn and saute for another 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the lime juice and cilantro at the end. Serve over rice or with taco shells with avocado.

finished product

Tequila Shrimp Tacos

Tips for making this recipe:

  • You could also use lobster tails in addition to or in place of the shrimp. Cook the lobster first (pull out of water just before completely cooked, it will finish cooking in the sauce) and add it after adding the tomatoes and corn.
  • Save your leftovers (if you have any) this is great the next day for lunch.

If you try this recipe, leave a note in the comments to tell me how it turned out! I’d love to hear from you!

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Filed under Mexican, Seafood