Cold Asian Noodle Salad

IMG_9116 On steamy days like these, I absolutely hate slaving over a hot stove — an outdoor grill is fine, but my kitchen stove? No thank you. Lately I’ve been cooking much of our dinners in the mornings when the temperature is still cool, then refrigerating everything and assembling the meal right before we eat. This “cook & cool” method (I just made up that term, do you like it?) works really well for pastas, rice, and other hearty grains because they store well, and taste great chilled. For this Cold Asian Noodle Salad, the pasta only takes a few minutes to simmer, so it’s easy to do right before you leave for work. Just drain the noodles, then cover and refrigerate (and if you’re feeling extra ambitious, chop the veggies and store separately in the fridge). Then when you get home, all you have to do is whip up the dressing, then toss everything together. Voilà! Done! And this easy summer salad can be served alongside grilled chicken, or dished up as a vegetarian entrée. Either way, you’ll thank me tonight when you’re enjoying a cool meal on the patio rather than sweating in the kitchen. Continue reading

Easy Summer Salads

Alright, friends, have we all agreed to stop buying frozen, grocery store hamburgers and unanimously decided instead to try making our own patties this summer? Have the last couple days of me preaching from my soapbox convinced you that there are better ways to barb-e-que? Yes? Good. Now we can move on to fantastic salads to accompany those delicious burgers! Below are two, super easy salads that pretty much go with any main dish. Continue reading

Spectacular Sides for the 4th of July!

IMG_8711Tomorrow’s the 4th of July and if you’re anything like me, you’ve waited until the very last minute to make plans. Again. But that doesn’t mean you should let a little procrastination stop you from enjoying a fantastic meal. Which is why I decided to throw together these super easy, incredibly tasty (and, I might add, spectacular looking!) side dishes to jazz up your celebration. As my husband says, If you wait until the last minute, it only takes a minute! So why not whip up these dishes tomorrow before the party gets started — I guarantee you’ll get as many ooh’s and ahh’s as the fireworks do. Continue reading

Pesto Pasta Salad

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Well the Mid-West is finally getting those hot temperatures that we’re known for, which means that my stove will be getting no love for a couple months. I just can’t think of anything worse than sweating over a hot oven after spending the entire day sweating over everything else in the house. Now, it’s only been in the 80’s for a couple weeks, but I’ve already burned my family out on salads and grilled meats, making meal planning a challenge. In the mornings I find myself standing in my kitchen staring at my stove with utter contempt, thinking How can I avoid firing you up tonight? And that’s when a brilliant idea occurred to me: why not cook dinner early before the house heats up, then serve it cold come evening? Why not turn the pasta I was planning to make into a cold noodle salad? Why not? I said, and so I did!

Pesto Pasta Salad

Serves 4-6

  • 1- 1½ lbs. thin spaghetti, broken in half
  • 1 bunch of asparagus, tender parts only, cut into 2″ pieces
  • 2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 4 cooked chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces (see recipe below) – omit to make this dish vegetarian
  • ½-¾ cup pesto (see recipe below)
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
  • Fresh grated parmesan cheese for serving

Cook pasta per package instructions, and at the end of the cooking time add asparagus to the pot and cook for 2 minutes. Pour pasta and asparagus into a colander and run cold water into the colander until pasta and asparagus are cool. Shake the colander to remove excess water from pasta and place pasta and asparagus in a large serving bowl. Add tomatoes, pesto, and chicken and toss to combine (now I like to use my hands because I don’t mind getting dirty and it’s easier to incorporate the ingredients without tearing the pasta, but a pair of cooking tongs will work as well). Season with salt and pepper. Either serve immediately or refrigerate, covered, for up to 2 days. Sprinkle with parmesan just before serving.

Lemon Chicken

  • 4-6 chicken breasts
  • ½ cup dry white wine, like Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc
  • ½ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Fresh cracked pepper, to taste
  • Cooking spray

Place chicken and all remaining ingredients in a large resealable plastic bag and allow to marinate, refrigerated, for at least 30 minutes and up to 8 hours.

Mist a large skillet with cooking spray and set over medium heat. Add chicken, cover skillet, and cook until brown on the skillet side and the chicken starts to become opaque throughout, about 5 minutes. Flip, cover skillet, and cook until the other side is brown and chicken is no longer pink in the center, about 3-5 minutes.

Transfer chicken to a plate and allow to cool before cutting. Chicken can be made and refrigerated up to 3 days prior to being added to the salad.

Homemade Pesto

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Homemade Pesto

  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 4 cups fresh basil leaves, torn
  • ¼ Tbsp. pine nuts
  • ¼ Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ tsp. Kosher salt
  • ¼ Tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 4 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • Fresh cracked black pepper to taste

Add garlic, basil, pine nuts, Parmesan, salt, lemon juice, and 1 Tbsp. oil to a food processor. Process until just beginning to come together, then while the machine is still running, slowly drizzle in remaining oil and continue to blend until smooth and paste-like. Season with pepper and more salt if needed.

 

Farmers’ Market Ratatouille

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Hi, my name’s Emily and I am a farmers’ market junkie. No really, I have a serious problem. When May arrives and my local farmers’ market reopens for the summer, I visit every week. Sometimes twice. It takes me hours to peruse every stand and talk to every farmer. I usually spend way too much money buying way too much produce - more than my family could possibly eat in one week. When I get home I artfully arrange my trophies in cute little baskets on my countertop, and because I’m a total geek, I take pictures of my displays and text them to my husband with cheesy notes that say: “Look what’s cookin’ tonight!” or “Got Produce?” His replies go something like, “Um, that’s a lot of peppers, honey.” By the end of the week I’ve only used about half of what I bought, and I’m left with extremely ripe, eat-me-right-now veggies that are in threat of going to waste. Which is how I found my other addiction: ratatouille. This super healthy, one-pan meal uses up all my leftover odds-and-ends-produce, freeing up my counter for another visit to the market.

 Farmers’ Market Ratatouille

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This vitamin-rich dish can serve as a vegetarian entrée (say on Meatless Monday), an accompaniment to grilled meat, or an easy sauce when thrown into a pot of cooked pasta. Sometimes I even spoon it over a slice of toasted baguette for a quick lunch. 

Farmers’ Market Ratatouille

Serves 4 as an entrée or 6-8 as a side dish

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 2 zucchini squash, diced
  • 2 yellow summer squash, diced
  • 1 small eggplant, skin on, diced
  • 4 tomatoes, seeded
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme, minced (or another fresh herb such as oregano, basil, or parsley)
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh crack black pepper

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In a large straight-sided skillet set over medium-high, heat oil until shimmering. Add onions and peppers and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften. Add the garlic and cook until just fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add remaining ingredients to the pot, stirring and cooking for about 5 minutes. Turn the heat to low, cover pot, and cook, stirring occasionally, until everything has softened, about 30-40 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve with crusty bread to sop up all those lovely juices.IMG_7146

Local Farmers’ Markets

These days almost ever town in America has a weekly farmers’ market (typically open May through October). My local market runs twice a week during the summer, which is a great way to feed my addiction, but come December I start itching for a fix again. Thankfully, I’ve always lived within a stone’s throw of a major city that has a year-round farmers’ market. Usually housed in an permanent structure, these markets are just like the townie ones only on steroids. In addition to selling produce, farm-fresh eggs, and meats, many of these larger markets will offer an array of other attractions such as local cuisine, homemade soaps and lotions, art, flee market items, and rides & games for the kids. I’ve visited quite a few over the years, but my favorites are Pike Place Market in Seattle, Union Square Greenmarket in NYC, and City Market in Kansas City, MO, which I’ve visited a few times this season already…IMG_0070 (1)

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*To find a farmers’ market in your area, click here.

Stuff My Kid Eats: Beer Can Chicken with Grilled Asparagus & Avocado

IMG_9181Now here’s a chicken that has `Merica written all over it: cajun spices, a grill, and beer – not to mention the crude jokes that will inevitably follow once you shove the beer can up it’s…well, can, for lack of a better term.  But cooking the chicken this way provides more than just a good laugh, it keeps the meat moist and raises the bird up off the fire allowing the skin to get nice and crispy it without burning or sticking to the grate.

IMG_9182This is me last summer with my first attempt at beer can chicken, and since then I’ve cooked close to two dozen of these tasty hens. It took me a few tries to fine tune the spice rub and perfect the cooking method, and in doing so I had to eat pounds and pounds of delicious meat. It’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it. You’re welcome. And an unforseen bonus to my family’s repetitive poultry consumption is that this chicken quickly became my toddler’s favorite meal. When I pull the bird out of the fridge in the morning to start brining it, she’ll do her little happy dance (a combination of clapping and jumping) and sing, “It’s the yummy chicken! We’re having the yummy chicken!” (As opposed to all the other non-yummy chickens I make her eat.) And even better is when I put the can inside the chicken and she asks, “Why are you putting soda in his tushy, Mommy?”

Beer Can Chicken

Serves 4-6

  • 1 5-6 lb. whole chicken, neck and gizzards removed
  • 1 12oz. can of beer, a lager or amber works best (and if you’re able to get your hands on a local brew, even better!)
  • ½ cup Kosher salt
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup sweet paprika
  • 2 Tbsp. cayenne pepper (And don’t skimp on the cayenne, I swear it doesn’t make the chicken too spicy)
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 13×9-inch disposable tin baking dish
  • 1 gallon resealable plastic bag

To make the brine and spice rub, combine salt, sugar, and all spices (but not garlic cloves) in a large bowl and mix with a fork.IMG_6803

Place chicken in a plastic bag set inside a bowl big enough to hold it. Set aside. (Folding over the edges of the bag makes it easier to pour in the brine.)

In a medium sauce pan, bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Reduce heat to low and add garlic cloves and ½ of spice mixture, about ¾ cup (reserve remaining spice mixture to rub on chicken before grilling). Simmer, stirring occasionally, until salt and sugar have dissolved, about 5 minutes.IMG_6808

Remove from heat and add 2 cups of ice. Let sit until liquid has come to room temperature, it’s okay if the ice hasn’t melted all the way.IMG_6809

Using a large measuring cup, carefully pour brining liquid and garlic cloves into plastic bag with chicken until liquid almost reaches the top of the bag. Fold the edge of the bag back over and seal the zip lock. Place the bag and bowl in the refrigerator for 8-12 hours. (Brining the chicken is a key step in helping preserve its moisture and flavor under the high heat, so don’t skip this step, people! Seriously, it only takes about 5-10 minutes of prep time in the morning.)IMG_6812

Once chicken has finished brining, remove from liquid and pat dry with a paper towel.IMG_6846

Rub the remaining spice mixture all over chicken, making sure to completely cover both sides, under wings, and in all the other cracks and crevices.IMG_6851

Prepare grill for high, indirect heat:

For a gas grill, lift the grate and place the disposable tin baking pan to one side of the grill, then fill the pan half-way with water (this will keep the drippings from starting a grease fire in your grill). Turn on all but 1 burner (the one under the baking pan). Replace grate. Close the lid and allow the internal temperature to reach 350-400°F before cooking chicken.

For a charcoal grill, lift the grate and push the coals to one side of the grill, baking up the side, and place a disposable tin baking pan on the other side. Fill the pan half-way full of water, then light coals and replace grate. Close lid and allow the internal temperature to reach 350-400°F before cooking chicken.

IMG_7251{Note: If you have a top warming rack like is pictured here, you’ll want to remove it otherwise it will knock the chicken over when you try to shut the lid. Which is a big mess. Just trust me on this one.}

Meanwhile, use a can opener to remove the top of beer can and pour out ½ of the beer into a glass. (I strongly advise drinking the extra beer before proceeding.)IMG_6854{In case you were wondering, I didn’t suddenly grow hair on my knuckles, these are my husband’s incredibly masculine hands.}

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Slide the ½-full beer can into the cavity of the chicken, legs pointing down (now here’s where the jokes start).IMG_6868

Carefully place chicken and can on the indirect portion of the grill over the drip pan. You may need to position the legs like a tripod to stabilize chicken. Close the lid and cook.IMG_6881

Okay, so every chicken recipe I’ve ever run across says, “Cook chicken until an instant-read meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 165F.”IMG_6886

That’s fine, however, I’ve found that the chicken isn’t always cooked through when I rely on this method, so in addition to inserting a thermometer into the thigh, I also insert one in the top of the breast, like so…IMG_6885If the temperature here also reads 165°F, then you’re good to go. With a 5-6 lb. chicken, cooking at 350-400°F, and a train leaving Station A at 6 o’clock, this will take about 45-65 minutes. (If using charcoal, you may need to add more to maintain heat.)

Transfer chicken to a plate and allow to rest for 10 minutes before carefully removing the beer can and carving. (Don’t dump the beer just yet, because if you slice into the chicken and it’s not quite done, you’ll want to pop it back on the can and put the whole shebang back on the grill a little while longer until cooked through.)IMG_6889

Sidekicks: Serve with beer, of course, and a couple of these grilled sides. While the chicken is resting, throw these veggies onto your hot grill and everything will be ready at the same time. Brilliant!

Lemony-Garlic AsparagusIMG_6887The acidity of the lemon and the sweetness of the asparagus are an excellent counter to the slightly salty, slightly spicy chicken. And the garlic? Well, I added that just because I love garlic.

Lemony-Garlic Asparagus

Serves 4

  • 1 bunch of asparagus, tender parts only
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

In a small bowl, combine butter, garlic, and lemon juice. Whisk until combined. Line a grill tray with a piece of tin foil (you don’t want all those delicious juices to be lost to the fire), and place asparagus on foil in a single layer. Drizzle with butter mixture and season with salt & pepper.

Place basket on grill set to high heat, close lid and cook for 2-3 minutes or until crisp-tender and the tips start to brown. Transfer to a plate and serve immediately.

Grilled Avocados with Salt and LimeIMG_9334Now I like guacamole as much as the next gal, but this is hands down my favorite way to eat an avocado — and it’s probably the easiest side dish in the history side dishes. (Recipe slightly adapted from Bon Appétit) 

Grilled Avocados with Salt and Lime

Serves 4-6

  • 2-3 ripe avocados, halved with pit removed
  • 1-2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 4-6 lime wedges
  • Kosher salt to taste

Brush each avocado half with oil, and mist the grill grate with high heat cooking spray. Place avocados flesh-side down on a grill set to high heat. Cover and cook for 3-5 minutes or until avocado easily lifts from grate and has sear marks. Serve with a squeeze of lime and a sprinkle of salt.

Last-Minute Cinco de Mayo Party at Home: Smoky Beef Brisket Street Tacos

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With Cinco de Mayo only cinco days away, it’s time you started thinking about your party plans. You know, and I know, and all the other sane people on the planet know that every Mexican restaurant from here to Jupiter is going to be jammed packed with people fighting for a table. Even if you were forward-thinking enough to make a reservation, you’re still gonna wait a long time to be seated. Sure it’s fun to go out and celebrate with tequila-guzzling, sombrero-wearing, chips-and-salsa-munching party animals, but doesn’t it sound more fun to have a few friends over for a casual party where you can enjoy good food, good conversation, and still make it to work the next day (btw, Cinco de Mayo falls on a Monday this year, yeesh!)? Below is a quick and easy Cinco de Mayo menu that you can prep the day before, then throw into the crockpot to cook while you bide your time at work waiting for the festivities to begin.

Smoky Beef Brisket Street Tacos

Also known as carne deshebrads, these super easy, super tasty tacos take a couple minutes to prepare, and even less time to vanish. Seriously, beware because they are highly addictive and will be requested by family and friends for every occasion from here on out. Consider yourself warned!  Just don’t forget to marinate the brisket overnight so that it can reach its full flavor potential. (Recipe slightly adapted from Muy Bueno cookbook, by way of my aunt, by way of her daughter-in-law)

Serves 4-8

Tacos

  • 2-4 lbs. beef brisket, fat trimmed (½ lb. per person)
  • 2 oz. brisket marinade, (preferably Claude’s Brisket Marinade Sauce), or 2 tsp. liquid smoke per pound of brisket
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 12 oz. beer (preferably Blue Moon)
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Fresh cracked black pepper to taste
  • 8-16 corn tortilla, warmed (about 2 per person)

Toppings (choose any combination of the following or add your own)

  • 1-2 cups crumbled or shredded Mexican cheese, such as cotija or queso blanco, or another cheese
  • 1 cup Crema Mexicana or sour cream
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, torn
  • 1-2 cup white onions, diced
  • 1-2 cups fresh tomatoes, diced
  • 2-4 avocados, sliced
  • 3-4 cups shredded cabbage or lettuce
  • 2-3 limes, cut into wedges
  • Lots of pico de gallo/salsa

The night before:

Place all of the taco ingredients (except tortillas) into the baking dish of crockpot or slow cooker, then cover and refrigerate overnight to allow the brisket to marinate.

Chop and prepare all the taco toppings (except for the avocado which will turn brown), cover and refrigerate.

The day of:

Place baking dish in the crockpot and set to cook on LOW for 8-10 hours or HIGH for 4-6 hours.

About 30-mintues before the brisket has finished cooking, slice the avocado and remove the other toppings from the refrigerator. Also, warm the tortillas by stacking 5 of them on top of each other, then wrap in tin foil and place in an oven preheated to 350° for 15-20 minutes (you can warm multiple packets of 5 tortillas at the same.)

Remove the brisket from the crockpot and place on a large serving platter. With two forks, shred the meat and drizzle a couple tablespoons of cooking liquid over top.

Set out toppings and allow guests to build their own tacos.

Sidekicks:

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  • Serve tacos alongside Mexican rice, and guacamole with chips.
  • With this meal you have plenty of wonderful thirst-quenching companions. Serve with Mexican beer such as Pacifico, Modelo, Sol, Dos Equis, Victoria, or Carta Blanca, to name half-a-dozen, and/or a pitcher (or three) of homemade strawberry-watermelon daiquiris.

Guacamole

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Guacamole

  • 3 ripe avocados
  • ½ tomato, seeds removed, diced
  • ¼ white onion, diced
  • 1 small jalapeño, seeds removed, minced
  • the juice of 1 lime
  • 4 sprigs fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
  • 2-3 dashes hot sauce (optional)

Cut the avocados in half and remove pit. Scoop out avocado from the peel, put in a medium bowl. Mash avocado with a fork until slightly smooth with some chunks of avocado left.

Add tomato, onion, jalapeño, and lime juice. Stir until combined, then season with salt & pepper, and a few dashes of hot sauce if you’d like. Serve with tortilla chips.

*If you have a small food processor, you can use it to chop the ½ tomato, ¼ white onion, jalapeño, and lime juice until chunky, then add it to the mashed avocado. Or, for a super quick version, add ½ cup jarred salsa to mashed avocado and mix until combined.

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Guacamole is best served fresh, but if you do refrigerate it, place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of guacamole, the cover the entire bowl with an additional piece of plastic wrap.

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Mexican Rice

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Mexican Rice

Serves 6-8

  • 2 Tbsp. olive or vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 green pepper, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 2 cups dry long-grain white rice
  • 1½ cups spicy tomato juice (2 – 5.5oz cans of V8)
  • 2 cups chicken stock (see recipe in Homemade Stocks)
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen (thawed) peas
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes, seeds removed
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
  • chili powder (optional)
  • 4-5 sprigs fresh cilantro, finely chopped

In a large, straight-sided skillet, heat oil until shimmering. Add onion and pepper and sauté until soft and onion begins to become translucent, about 5-8 minutes. Add garlic and cook until just fragrant, about 1 minute. Add rice and cook until it begins to toast, about 1-2 minutes.

Add tomato juice and chicken stock and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Once liquid begins to boil, immediately reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes, or until rice is soft but not mushy.

Add peas and tomatoes and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes. Season with salt & pepper and chili powder, if you like it extra spicy.

Transfer to a large serving bowl and sprinkle with cilantro. Serve hot.

*Rice can be made the day before, refrigerated, then quickly reheated in the microwave the day of the party.

Strawberry-Watermelon Daiquiris

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The thing I always hate about making frozen drinks at home is that unless you own a Vitamix (which I desperately want but feel bad about dipping into the Toddler’s college fund to buy), I always end up with huge chunks of unblended ice that clog up my straw. By pre-freezing the watermelon for a few minutes and using frozen strawberries, I’ve found that I can bypass those pesky ice cubes altogether and still get the creamy, frosty effect that you’d get from your favorite Mexican restaurant.

Strawberry-Watermelon Daiquiris

Serves 4

  • 2 cups peeled, seeded, and cubed watermelon
  • 2 cups frozen strawberries
  • ½ cup light rum
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice
  • ¼ cup triple sec
  • ¼ simple syrup *

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Place watermelon in a bowl and pour rum over top, then freeze for 40-60 minutes. In a blender, add watermelon and remaining ingredients and blend on high until smooth.

Pour into glasses and garnish with a wedge of watermelon.

*To make simple syrup, add 1 cup white sugar and 1 cup water in a sauce pan. Bring water to a boil and stir until sugar has dissolved. Allow to cool. Simple syrup can be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.

CHECK BACK FRIDAY FOR A QUICK AND EASY MEXICAN DESSERT YOU CAN SERVE WITH THIS MEAL!

Deviled Easter Eggs

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Since the time I was young, I have always had a hard time letting go of holidays. The anticipation leading up to Christmas, or Easter, or my birthday was so great, that once the date had come and gone, I would go into what my family called a “post-party depression.” I was the kid that would stand in the front yard weeping as my dad hauled our dried-up Christmas tree out to the curb, and the one who would leave Valentine’s Day cards taped to my wall well into summer, and the one that wouldn’t eat my carefully dyed Easter eggs, instead hiding them in my room until they began to smell. Now that I’m older (and only slightly wiser), I’ve gotten better at boxing up our holidays and storing them away until the next year, but I can see that my daughter has inherited my sentimentality. Our Christmas tree (which we never got around to disposing of – oops) is stashed in a corner of our backyard behind the tool shed. Every so often when she’s playing outside, my toddler will wander over to “visit” the tree and offer some encouraging words about its possible return to the living room where it once stood proud. So as Easter approaches, it dawned on me that I may have some difficulty getting her to relinquish the eggs she so happily dyed and decorated last week. Being 2½, she has absolutely no reason. There’s not a snowball’s chance that I’ll be able to explain the concept of “rotting eggs” in a way that she will either a) understand, or b) give a crap about. Again, she’s 2½. So that’s when I put my thinking cap on. How could I preserve her eggs a little longer without sacrificing a dozen perfectly good hardboiled-beauties and still keep my sanity? The answer was so obvious it almost smacked me in the face; deviled eggs! But not just any deviled eggs, dyed deviled eggs. And so yesterday morning when my toddler woke up, she found that not only did the Easter Bunny leave her a fun basket of gifts, he magically transformed her Easter eggs into a colorful lunchtime treat! (I’m hoping this trick works for a couple more years, but probably not!) Anyway, here’s how I did it…

Deviled Easter Eggs

Makes 12

  • 6 eggs
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • food coloring (red, blue, green)


In a medium saucepan set over high heat, place eggs in a single layer and cover with 2 inches of water. Once water begins to boil, set a timer for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove saucepan from heat and place in the sink. Run cold water over the eggs for 1-2 minutes.

Crack egg shells and carefully peel under cool running water. Gently dry with paper towels. Slice the eggs in half lengthwise, removing yolks and placing in a medium bowl. Place the whites on a serving platter. Mash the yolks into a fine crumble using a fork. Add mayonnaise, vinegar, mustard, salt, and mix well. If the mixture is lumpy, use a hand blender to beat the chunks out.

Divide mixture into 5 separate bowls. To the first bowl add 1 drop of red food coloring and mix well, this will be your pink filling. To the second bowl add 2 drops of blue food coloring, and to the third bowl add 1 drop of green food coloring (these will be your blue and green fillings, obviously). The fourth bowl is a little trickier because purple is a hard color to make when you’re starting with a yellow base. I recommend using 1 drop of blue and 1 drop of red, mixing, then adding more of whichever color you need to make it look purple (which will inevitably look grayish, but oh well). Don’t do anything to the fifth bowl because that will be your yellow filling.

Evenly divide the five fillings into egg whites, alternating colors. An easy way to do this is to fill a small sandwich bag with a couple spoonfuls of filling, then cut the tip off one corner of the bag and squeeze the filling into the whites – kind of like you would icing from a pastry bag.

Bonus: thess deviled eggs are so colorful that they don’t need a garnish! Serve eggs immediately, or refrigerate (covered) for up to 1 day.

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More from Movie Colony

More from Movie Colony image It’s another beautiful day in Palm Springs! Here are more vacation photos from our little palace located in the luxurious Movie Colony neighborhood (plus a yummy little poolside dish my aunt prepared for us).

{ Welcome to Movie Colony }

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{ The Toddler and Grandma coordinate their vacation attire }

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{ Looking down a hallway lined with Persian rugs and fine artwork } image

 

{ Our feathered friends are even kickin’ it in style with this two-story high ornamental bird house } image

 

{ A close-up of the mini avian palace } image

 

{ The view from my office } image

 

{ Cousins }

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{ Three peas in a pod }

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{ Surrounded by luscious succulent plants… } image

 

{ …and beautiful pottery } image image image image image image image

 

{ Blogging and jogging, because you can’t drink daquiris all day and expect to still fit into a bikini }

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{ And last but not least…snacks! } image

Easy Mexicorn Dip

  • 2 cans Mexicorn
  • 2 cups shredded Colby Jack cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups mayo
  • 1 4-oz. can diced jalepeños
  • 2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken (optional)
  • Corn chips (such as Frito scoops) for serving

Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine all ingredients in a large ovenproof baking dish. Bake until bubbly, about 20 minutes. Serve with corn chips and Mexican beer. Kick back and enjoy the rest of the day.

Avgolemeno (Lemon Orzo Soup) with Homemade Hummus

Avgolemeno (Lemon Orzo Soup)

Avgolemeno is a traditional Greek soup made with a few simple ingredients: chicken stock, lemon juice, egg, and orzo (a type of small pasta). The first time I tried it was at a Greek restaurant in Seattle that probably doesn’t exists any longer. It was a cool old place on Capital Hill, the kind of mom-and-pop joint with murals on the walls, surly waiters, and a popular cheese appetizer that they would set on fire and yell “Opa!” every couple minutes. In the years that I visited, I don’t think I ever ordered an entrée – I went strictly for the soup and hummus. It was a light dinner that I could count on to fill me up without weighing me down, and just the kind of meal I’ve been craving now that Spring is upon us. Both the soup and the hummus are very easy to make, low in calories, and high in flavor.

Avgolemeno (Lemon Orzo Soup)

Serves 4

  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • ½ cup orzo
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • ¼ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice, from about 2 lemons (see How To for the best juicing method)
  • 2 cups precooked chicken, shredded (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh chopped parsley (for serving)

In a large soup pan over medium heat, bring chicken stock to a boil, then immediately reduce heat to low. Add orzo to stock and allow to simmer until soft, about 18 minutes.

In a bowl, whisk together eggs and lemon juice until combined.

Once pasta has cooked, carefully ladle about ½ cup of soup into the egg mixture, while whisking constantly. (This is called tempering. Eggs harden when they cook, so you need to slowly increase the temperature of the egg to keep it from scrambling.) Repeat with a second ½ cup, whisking constantly.

Remove the soup from the heat and slowly pour in the tempered egg mixture, whisking constantly, for about 5 minutes.

If you’re adding chicken, now is the time to do it. Stir until warmed through, about 2-3 minutes.

Ladle into preheated bowls and sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Homemade Hummus

Hummus is an excellent source of protein, and tastes great when spread on sandwiches, mixed into salads, or used as a dip for  veggies and pita bread. Sure, you can buy good hummus at the grocery store, but why would you when it takes 5 minutes and a food processor to whip some up at home?!

Hummus

  • 1 15-oz. can chickpeas, 2 Tbsp. canning liquid reserved
  • ¼ cup tahini (see Notes)
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice (from about ½ a lemon)
  • 2 gloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • ¼ tsp. Kosher salt
  • Fresh cracked pepper to taste
  • ¼ tsp. paprika, plus more for serving
  • 1 tsp. fresh chopped parsley (for serving)
  • Assorted cut vegetables, Greek olives, and pita bread for serving

In a food processor, combine all ingredients except parsley. Blend until smooth and creamy and no chunks remain, about 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with paprika and parsley. Serve with cut vegetables, Greek olives, and sliced pita bread.

Notes: Tahini is a sesame seed paste that can be found in most grocery stores, either with the peanut butter, or sometime in the ethnic food section.

How To:

Juice a Lemon

Hand squeezing citrus (lemons, oranges, and especially limes) can be a frustrating ordeal. Up until a few years ago I was cutting the fruit in half, then using a spoon to basically mash the pulp into submission, with varying success. It wasn’t until I attended a cooking demonstration at a wine festival (of all places) that I learned this fool-proof method.

1) Cut one end off of the fruit, about ¼-inch thick:

2) Cut 3 sides off the lemon, creating a triangle:

3) Set a strainer over a small bowl and squeeze lemon, end piece, and 3 side pieces until there is no more juice left in the fruit. Brilliant, right?!

Sidekick: With this light meal a dry white wine would work best, such as a Sauvignon Blanc or a Pinot Grigio.