Vegetable Topped Baked Grouper

I sometimes arrive in the grocery store, head to the seafood department and stand there with a blank stare on my face.  What should I try now?  I lately have an ongoing love/hate affair with some types of seafood.  I used to bake salmon weekly, now I don’t think I have baked salmon for over three months.  Recently, halibut and sea bass are some of my favorites, however, after selecting grouper fillets and making Vegetable Topped Baked Grouper, I think I have a new favorite from the seafood department!

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Vegetable Topped Grouper

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds grouper fillets
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 red onion, cut into thin slices
  • 1 green bell pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 cup white wine

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Oil a baking dish.  Squeeze lemon juice over fillets in baking dish.  Top fillets with onion, green pepper, and tomato.  Top with crumbled feta cheese.  Drizzle with olive oil and season with Italian seasoning.  Pour wine into baking dish.  Bake fillets for 15 - 20 minutes or until fish flakes easily.  Broil fish at high setting for a few minutes after baking until the cheese is browned.  

 

Grilled Chicken with Basil Butter

Oh let me count the many ways to grill chicken and the many recipes you will find.  One recipe search and you will find hundreds for grilled chicken breasts with every imaginable marinade or topping.  I think the key to a perfectly grilled boneless skinless chicken breast is to not overcook the chicken, so it is moist and delicious.  I have been topping grilled chicken with basil butter for years.  This is not a recipe that takes a rocket scientist to figure out!   Salt and pepper the chicken, grill over medium temperature turning frequently and top with a large dollop of basil butter.  Simple and spectacular.  

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Grilled Chicken with Basil Butter

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

Instructions

  1. Combine butter, basil and garlic salt; divide in half and set aside.  Salt and pepper chicken breasts.  Grill over medium heat turning frequently until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees, approx. 20  minutes. Each time you turn the chicken, top with a small teaspoon of basil butter.  When finished cooking, remove chicken to a platter and top each breast with a dollop from the remaining 1/2 of basil butter.  Serve

Strawberry Basil Ice Pops

One of my favorite things to eat when I visit Atlanta, GA is finding a King of Pops stand and having one of their ice pops.  They are not the ice pops you remember as a child in vivid colors and artificial flavors.  Their pops have extremely unique flavors.  One of my favorites is their sea salt chocolate, it is just delicious and really makes your mouth dance!  With the warm weather on the horizon, I thought this year I would try creating a few unique recipes to share and see how I do creating interesting flavors.  I think I have hit a home run with this combination; strawberries, basil and cream.   There are so many great ice pop molds on the market you can make ice pops in any shape you desire from rockets, cylinders and fruit shapes.  These Strawberry Basil Ice Pops would also be terrific made in a smaller mold and placed in a champagne glass and topped with champagne or prosecco.

 

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Strawberry Basil Ice Pops

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces hulled strawberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3-4 fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 pinch kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Combine all of the above ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth.  Pour into 6 - 3 oz. ice pop molds. Place in freezer and freeze for two hours, insert ice pop sticks in the center of each pop.  Freeze until solid.  Remove from mold and wrap in plastic wrap or in individual resealable bags.  Return to freezer and freeze for an addition 6 - 8 hours.  Serve.

    Freezing the pops for a second time in the plastic wrap will create a firm and icy pop.


Blueberry Crumb Cake

I keep finding blueberry recipes in my recipe stash from my mom.  If there is any time of year perfect for blueberry recipes, I think spring is the one. It also helps that almost every produce department is running a sale on blueberries this time of year.  Blueberry Crumb Cake is quick and easy to assemble cake;  perfect for breakfast with coffee, tea or as a dessert.   

 

 

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Blueberry Crumb Cake

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 cups blueberries
  • Crumb Topping
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons butter

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease and flour one 9 inch square baking pan.

    Combine Flour, baking powder and salt, set aside.  Cream butter and sugar.  Add egg and milk, beat until smooth.  Add flour mixture (reserve 1/4 cup) and beat until well combined.  Toss the blueberries with the remaining 1/4 cup flour mixture and fold into the batter.  To prepare topping, combine sugar, flour and cinnamon, cut in butter until it resembles coarse crumbs.  Sprinkle over cake batter in pan.  Bake at 375 degrees for 40 - 45 minutes.

Time for Dinner – Setting an Interesting Table

As you can tell by the title of my blog, A Passion for Entertaining, I love to entertain and create memorable dinners. I am always on the search for interesting dishes and serving pieces.  I think the most interesting tables I have set are those with many textures and patterns.  Bold patterns and interesting dishes enhance your table.  What fun it is to set a table with various dishes. Discount home stores, flea markets, estate sales, antique shops are always great places to start.  I have traditional place settings but prefer to switch things up when entertaining;  There is nothing better than expecting the unexpected.  

A few recipes that I have already posted are in the phot:os below:

Warm Caprese Salad – http://apassionforentertaining.com/warm-caprese-salad/

Italian Rolls http://apassionforentertaining.com/italian-rolls/

 

Grilled Flank Steak with Pepper Jack Cream Sauce

One of our favorite neighborhood Mexican restaurants serves a wonderful grilled steak with a cheese sauce along with a cheese enchilada  and beans.  It is so good, that we order it every time we go to that restaurant.  I had a flank steak in the freezer and decided I wanted to try my hand at this delicious entree.  I first combined lime juice, orange juice, garlic, diced jalapeno and a few other ingredients to marinate the steak.  I then made a basic cheese sauce and spiced it up with pepper jack cheese.  Served along side corn tortillas, tomato wedges, and avocados you will have a most spectacular presentation.   The cheese sauce is so good you will want to have plenty at the table to serve with the vegetables, tortillas and steak.  

 

 

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Jalapeno Marinated Flank Steak

Ingredients

  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar

Instructions

  1. Combine all of the ingredients, pour over flank steak, refrigerate and marinate 2 - 24 hours.

 

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Pepper Jack Cream Sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili seasoning
  • 4 ounces pepper jack cheese grated

Instructions

  1. In a medium saucepan over medium low heat, melt the butter.  Add the flour and stir until bubbly and all of the flour is incorporated.  Slowly stir in the milk.  Increase heat to medium-high and whisk constantly until bubbly and thick.  Add seasonings.  Continue stirring.  Remove from heat and add the cheese, stir until melted.  (If you made the sauce in advance and your steak is not finished on the grill, and your cheese sauce thickens - add a bit more milk to the cheese sauce and stir over low heat)

Pineapple Balls

I always like to reflect on my childhood and try to remember certain recipes that my mom would make for certain occasions.  I remember every spring and especially on Easter, she would always make something that included pineapple.  Pineapple salads, ham with a pineapple glaze, pineapple cakes, and fresh sliced pineapple is what I associate with spring.  These Pineapple Balls are just perfect when you want a small dessert after a wonderful meal.  They freeze beautifully so you can make them now and serve them over the spring holidays.

 

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Pineapple Balls

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup crushed pineapple, well drained
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, plus more for dusting, if desired
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons pineapple juice

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees

    Cream the butter and sugars.  Add the egg, pineapple, and nuts.  Combine the dry ingredients, add to the pineapple mixture and mix well.

    Drop the dough by rounded teaspoonsful (or use a one tablespoon ice cream scoop) onto a parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake 9 - 11 minutes.  If desired, drizzle with glaze and dust with additional finely chopped pecans.  Yields 48 balls

  2. Sugar Glaze

    Mix 1 cup confectioners sugar and 1-2 tablespoons pineapple juice, drizzle over cookies.  Sprinkle with pecans, if desired.

Cinnamon Waffles – I wish I was still at The Homestead!

My husband and I spent last weekend at The Homestead in Hot Springs, VA.  We wanted a weekend getaway and decided to head to The Homestead after many great reviews from friends.  After a long and winding journey through the western part of Virginia, we drove into the small town of Hot Springs and was greeted by the massive resort on our left.  I must tell you, after driving many miles through the country roads, I thought I had put in the wrong address into our GPS, because I just could not believe there would much civilization, no less a resort in the mountainous remote area we were driving through.)  How wrong I was, the town of Hot Springs and The Homestead are beautiful.  As you know, I am always looking for great food and interesting finds, I had to go no further than their breakfast buffet on Saturday morning.  Before we headed out for a round of golf, we had the most delicious breakfast buffet in their main dining room.  So many delicious choices, I could hardly decide what to select.  It didn’t take me too long to find Roderick making Cinnamon Waffles, a specialty at The Homestead.  What a delicious breakfast treat, along with a vegetable omelet and grits, a breakfast of champions for these golfers!  So, back to reality today and back to my kitchen.  I decided to make my own Cinnamon Waffle recipe this morning, what a great way to remember a great trip.  

Our view from the 14th tee box on the Old Course at The Homestead.

Roderick making Cinnamon Waffles

 

 

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Cinnamon Waffles

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Preheat waffle iron.  Beat eggs until fluffy.  Add remaining ingredients and beat just until smooth.  Pour batter into waffle iron and bake until steaming stops, approx. 4 1/2 - 5 minutes.  Remove carefully.  Makes 3 - 10 inch waffles.

 

 

White Truffle Popcorn

You cannot pass by this recipe.  The elegant taste of truffles tossed with popcorn is a taste sensation.  When I was playing around with ingredients one day, I brought out my bottle of white truffle oil and I had just made my Cantaloupe Tomato Salad and fresh Italian parsley was still on my cutting board.  I thought it was time for a glass of wine and I needed a break from recipe writing.  Out came a bag of microwave popcorn and I tossed in a few other items.   Time to sit, relax and enjoy the fruits of my labor.

5 from 1 vote
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White Truffle Popcorn

Ingredients

  • 1 bag microwave popcorn, plain
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon white truffle oil
  • 1/3 cup parmigiano reggiano cheese finely grated
  • 2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley minced
  • kosher salt,

Instructions

  1. Pop corn as directed on package.  Pour popped corn into a large bowl.  Toss with white truffle oil, add melted butter, toss.  Add cheese and parsley, toss.  Salt to taste.  Enjoy!

Cantaloupe Tomato Salad with Herb Dressing

I am always striving to create unusual salads and this is one combination you might not think about putting together.  The sweet cantaloupe combined with vine-ripened tomatoes and a hit of red onion, topped with a citrus honey herb dressing is the perfect salad to serve along side grilled chicken, fish or shellfish.   A crumble topping of feta sets this salad apart from all others.  A feast for the eyes and your taste buds!

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Cantaloupe Tomato Salad with Herb Citrus Dressing

Servings 8

Ingredients

  • 1 cantaloupe
  • 4 large tomatoes
  • 1/4 red onion, diced
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/3 cup Italian parsley, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons fresh mint, minced
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup crumbled Feta cheese

Instructions

  1. Cut cantaloupe, remove seeds, cut away rind and slice into thin slices.  Dice onion, and thinly slice tomatoes.  Layer in a salad bowl.  Combine dressing ingredients; lemon juice, cider vinegar, parsley, basil, salt, pepper, mustard, and mint in a container that you can seal and shake.  Add the olive oil and vigorously shake until well combined.  Pour over cantaloupe mixture, refrigerate for one hour.  Top with crumbled Feta, serve.