Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Chocolate Dipped Peaches with Sea Salt

There is something special about combining chocolate & peaches and this dessert beautifully marries the two into an easy yet elegant offering. I love the simplicity of the preparation. Melt bittersweet chocolate chips in the microwave, dip the cored peaches in the chocolate, sprinkle with sea salt, then eat. Delicious, easy, impressive looking. Perfect for your next Summer dinner party or a casual night with family. Eat using a knife and fork or use your hands and a large napkin. Peach juice dripping down your chin? That spells summer to me.

Chocolate Dipped Peaches with Sea Salt
(makes 8)

8 peaches, skin on
10 oz bittersweet chocolate chips (I use the Equal Exchange brand)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
sea salt flakes
1/4 cup chopped mint leaves, plus 8 whole leaves for garnish

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Core peaches to remove pits. I do this by running a small paring knife around the center of each peach ensuring the pit is included. Then, using your thumb, push down on the core from the top, so it drops out the bottom.. Set peaches on the prepared baking sheet.

Place chocolate chips and olive oil in medium sized bowl. Microwave for thirty seconds. Remove from microwave and stir. Repeat for another 30 seconds. Continue this process at 10-second intervals until chips are completely melted, and chocolate is smooth, silky and very soft.

Using a tong to lift, dip one peach into the melted chocolate ensuring the bottom half is coated. It should look like this:

Set the peach on prepared sheet and sprinkle chocolate with the sea salt. Repeat with remaining peaches ensuring the sides do not touch.

Add one tablespoon of the remaining chocolate to the center hole of each peach. Move the sheet to a cool spot in your kitchen to allow chocolate to harden. On very hot days, place peaches in your refrigerator and allow to cool.

When ready to serve, sprinkle chopped mint leaves into the center hole of each mint. Garnish with whole mint leaves and serve.

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Summer means easy, breezy dishes made from fresh, just-picked produce and this week at Food Network's Summer Soiree we are celebrating Summer PeachesDo you have a favorite peach recipe? Share in the comments section and/or link to your blog if you have one. And be sure to check out the delicious sounding recipes from my blogger friends and Food Network. 

Virtually Homemade: Mixed Summer Fruit Baked Oatmeal
Homemade Delish: 
Bite-Sized Peach Panini
The Heritage Cook: 
Grilled Chicken with Peach Chimichurri Sauce (Gluten-Free)
Peach and Ricotta Crostini
Creative Culinary: 
Fresh Peach and Bourbon Upside Down Cake
Napa Farmhouse 1885: 
Chocolate Dipped Peaches with Sea Salt
Red or Green: 
Summer Peach & Tomato Salad
The Mom 100: 
Sour Cream Peach Cobbler
Domesticate Me: 
Peach Crumble Smoothie
Daisy at Home: 
Creamy Peach Popsicles
In Jennie's Kitchen: 
Six Ways to Savor Peaches
Healthy Eats: 
7 Healthy Ways to Use Peaches in Their Prime
Taste with the Eyes: 
Grilled Peach Salad, Over-The-Top Maple Bourbon Dressing
Swing Eats: 
Grilled Peaches with Greek Yogurt, Honey, Lime Zest, and Vanilla
Dishin and Dishes: 
Bacon Wrapped Grilled Peaches with Goat Cheese and Aged Balsamic
FN Dish: 
8 Juicy Ways to Eat Peaches Before They're Gone


I have started sharing my newest blog "California Girl in Taos."  Please visit and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Favorite BBQ Recipes Roundup

It is the middle of August; the weather is HOT, and the last thing I want to do is turn on the oven. So, BBQ and grilling to the rescue. This is one of my favorite summertime party meals. (and, hey, a party can be just two, right?) Green salad with grilled corn and pesto-topped bruschetta, smokey bbq ribs, grilled bbq elk burgers, grilled peak-of-season corn on the cob and fresh watermelon & herb margaritas. Throw some veggie burgers on the grill for the non-meat eaters in the crowd and you are all set. Cheers to summer!

Farmers Market Salad
(serves 8)
2 ears corn on the cob
5 thick slices good sourdough or whole wheat bread
extra virgin olive oil
16 handfuls mixed greens (your favorite combination of lettuces, spinach, kale, chard, etc.)
1 cup cherry tomatoes (cut in half if large)
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1 sweet red onion, sliced
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
Herb Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
Pesto (recipe follows)

Grill the corn on the cob. (I use this technique).  Cut corn off the cob and set aside.
Grill or broil bread until golden brown with grill marks on both sides. Brush olive oil on 3 slices of bread. Thickly spread pesto on remaining 2 slices of bread. Cut each slice of bread into 4 pieces. Set croutons aside
Add the greens, tomatoes, red bell pepper, onion,  to a large bowl. Add the reserved corn and large pinch each of salt and pepper. Drizzle salad with 1/3 cup vinaigrette and add the olive oil topped croutons. Toss salad. Add additional dressing if desired but take care not to overdress. Taste and adjust seasonings if desired. Top salad with pesto croutons and serve immediately.

Herb Vinaigrette
1 cup basil leaves
1 cup fresh herbs (1 or a mix, your choice of mint, tarragon, thyme)
1 clove, fresh garlic
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp coconut sugar
2 tbsp water
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
Place all ingredients in food processor. Process until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings if desired.

1/2 cup pine nuts
2 oz Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese cut into 2 pieces
2 garlic cloves
1 fresh red cayenne pepper (or other fresh hot red pepper), seeded
5 cups basil leaves (packed)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Toast pine nuts in a skillet until just beginning to brown.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Add cheese to a food processor fitted with the chopping/mixing blade.  Process until cheese is grated. Add cooled pine nuts, garlic and red pepper and process until all ingredients are finely grated.  Add half of basil leaves and 1/4 cup olive oil and process until smooth but with a bit of texture. Add remaining basil, remaining olive oil, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Process until well mixed.  Taste and adjust seasonings if desired. Scrape into a small bowl and cover with thin layer of olive oil.

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BBQ Pork Ribs 
(from Saveur)
serves 4-6

Rub Recipe

1 cup coconut sugar
½ cup paprika
3 Tbsp. ground black pepper
3 Tbsp. kosher salt
2 Tbsp. chili powder
2 Tbsp. garlic powder
2 Tbsp. onion powder
1 Tsp. cayenne pepper
2 racks St. Louis-cut pork spareribs (about 3 lb. each; see Barbecue 101. »)
Mix the sugar, paprika, pepper, salt, chili powder, garlic and onion powders, and cayenne in a small bowl. Rub onto all sides of ribs. Place ribs on foil-lined rimmed baking sheets. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour. 
BBQ Sauce Recipe
2 cups organic ketchup
½ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup coconut sugar
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. kosher salt
1½ Tsp. cayenne pepper
1½ Tsp. celery seeds
1½ Tsp. minced garlic
1½ Tsp. ground cumin
¼ Tsp. fresh lemon juice

In a bowl, whisk together ketchup, vinegar, sugar, mustard, salt, celery, cumin, cayenne, garlic, and lemon juice; set aside. 

Prepare your grill using the kettle grillbullet smoker, or gas grill method, (see links for instructions) using oak wood chunks or chips (see Fuel and Flavor). Place ribs, meat side up, on a grill grate. Maintaining a temperature of 225°-250° (if using a kettle grill or bullet smoker, replenish fire with unlit coals, as needed, to maintain temperature; see instructions), cook, turning once and basting with sauce the last 45 minutes of cooking, until the tip of a small knife slips easily in and out of the meat, 3–4 hours. Remove from grill, wrap in aluminum foil, wrap the foil packets with a kitchen towel and allow to rest for 2 hours. Serve ribs with remaining sauce on the side.

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Best Ever Elk Burgers
(makes 4)

1 lb ground elk
1/2 cup minced white onions
sea salt
black pepper
extra virgin olive oil (for grill)
4 whole wheat or sourdough hamburger buns
butter or olive oil
your favorite hamburger toppings i.e.
crisp lettuce leaves
sliced red onion
cheddar cheese if desired

Combine elk and minced onions in a small bowl. Form meat into four patties. Using your thumb, make a depression in the center of each patty. (This will help prevent shrinkage) Generously season each patty with salt and pepper. Set aside

Prepare coals if using an outdoor grill or heat grill pan until hot. Grease grate or grill pan with olive oil. Grill burgers 3 1/2 to 4 minutes per side. You want medium rare or medium...cooking any longer will result in dry, tough meat. If using cheese, add during the last minute of cooking to allow melting. Remove from heat and allow to rest for a few minutes.

Butter or olive oil insides of each bun. Grill for one minute being careful to not let burn.

Add elk patties to buns and add your favorite toppings. Serve immediately

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Perfect Grilled Corn on the Cob
(from Bobby Flay and Food Network

Corn on the cob (1-2 ears per serving)
Sea Salt

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (a really, good, big and spicy one)
Light a charcoal fire and let the coals burn down to ash red and medium-high heat. (medium-high heat means you can hold your hand over the coals for about 5 seconds before it is too hot.)

Pull down the husks and remove the silk. Replace the husks and put the corn in a large bowl of cold water with a large pinch of sea salt. Allow to soak for 10-15 minutes.

Remove corn from water and shake off excess. Place the corn on the grill, close the cover and grill the for 15 to 20 minutes. Rotate the corn on the cobs every 5 minutes, Continue grilling until you have grill marks on all sides. Remove from the grill, pull down the husks and spread and eat immediately. 

Fresh Watermelon & Herb Margaritas
(makes 8)

watermelon juice from a medium watermelon seeded and chunked 
juice of 2-3 limes 
1/2-1 teaspoon salt 
1 tablespoon mint (I used chocolate mint, but any type works), plus more for garnish
1 tablespoon basil, plus more for garnish

Blend watermelon, juice from 2 limes, 1/2 teaspoon salt and herbs together till smooth. You should get around 10 cups of liquid. Taste and add additional lime juice and salt to taste. 

Pour some of the juice into an ice cube tray to make watermelon ice cubes. Freeze until firm.
Refrigerate remaining juice until very cold.

When ready to serve, add 2-3 oz tequila to each glass. Add a couple of ice cubes and a few watermelon ice cubes. Fill glass with watermelon juice. Stir and garnish with herbs. Serve immediately.

Summer means easy, breezy dishes made from fresh, just-picked produce and this week at Food Network's Summer Soiree we are celebrating BBQ/GrillingDo you have a favorite BBQ recipe? Share in the comments section and/or link to your blog if you have one. And be sure to check out the delicious sounding recipes from my blogger friends and Food Network.

Creative Culinary: Limoncello and Herb Barbecue Chicken Thighs
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: 
Pan Grilled Kabab
The Heritage Cook: 
Cheesy Grilled Steak Sandwiches (Gluten-Free option)
Homemade Delish: 
Chipotle and Cherry BBQ Ribs
Virtually Homemade: 
Spicy Grilled Chicken Wings and Summer Slaw
Healthy Eats: 
Add Flavor, Not Fat: 5 Tips for Better Barbecue
Napa Farmhouse 1885: 
Favorite BBQ Recipes Roundup
Taste with the Eyes: 
Korean BBQ Chicken, Lettuce Cups, White Seaweed Salad
Domesticate Me: 
Quinoa Broccoli Slaw
The Lemon Bowl: 
20 Healthy BBQ Recipes
In Jennie's Kitchen: 
Seriously Delicious Ribs
FN Dish: 
Chefs' Top BBQ Dishes to Make Before Summer's End


I have started sharing my newest blog "California Girl in Taos."  Please visit and let me know what you think.