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Tomato Recipes

One of my favorite things to do for friends is pampering them with food. It's always been my way of saying "Hey dude, I really love you, thanks for always being so great." Plus it's a great opportunity for me to play around with new recipes and challenge myself to create something memorable. I cooked this particular (tomato themed) dinner for my dear friend Eric, who travels a lot and what does a traveler want the most upon returning home? A home-cooked meal.

No problemo homie.

We started off with a nice Summery (virgin) cocktail but please feel free to add a splash of Hendrick's Gin as my husband chose to do so -- it tastes reminiscent to a dreamsicle except without the creaminess and ends with a nice hint of fennel.

 Yellow Tomato Gazpacho was next on the list -- it took me awhile to get use to the concept of "cold soups" but this one is fabulous. I used mostly yellow teardrops for my soup and the sweetness was phenomenal! It's a great recipe to make ahead and it can also be served as an amuse bouche at parties.

Next came a simple salad topped with toasted pecans, goat cheese, and heirloom tomatoes drizzled with some Italian olive oil a dear friend brought back for me and a sprinkle of kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Feel free to squeeze a little lemon for an extra acid kick. Simple, healthy, delicious -- I know, I'm a baus.

You can also serve the salad in a bowl if plates aren't your thing. Or maybe because you ran out of plates. You get the idea.

This was probably my favorite, well after the main course that is. I took some sourdough, toasted it and melted it with some smoked gruyere and topped it with spicy tomato jam (I added a habanero in mine to give it a super kick), avocado slices and arugula.

 

The smokiness of the gruyere really paired nicely with the sweet and spicy jam -- the jam is also a great dipping sauce for meatballs or even better on top of some cheese and crackers.

Aaaah main course: Maryland Crabcake with Israeli Couscous in a Spicy Tomato Broth. It's amazing how generous you can be with the size of your crabcakes when you make them at home, I even had an extra dish of crab meat left over which I used for an omelet the next morning.

I made the broth from tomato juice, dashi and some thai chiles, which is the same liquid I cooked my couscous in. The Maryland crab cake recipe I used can be found here. As a Chef once told me "It's all about that Old Bay Seasoning." Amen to that Chef! I loved the light breading for this style of crab cake, it really gave the perfect texture I was looking for.

 

Unfortunately, there was no tomato themed dessert. Instead I just made some chocolate chip cookies and scooped some vanilla bean ice cream on top. All tummies were satisfied :).

As you can see, I kept all these recipes pretty simple. It's nice to not be stuck in the kitchen the whole time and be able to sit down and enjoy the meal with friends so make things easy on yourself: prep ahead of time, pick recipes with simple execution and have fun with it!

 

Share the love today and make your loved ones something home cooked -- not only does it replenish the belly but it renews the soul. Now get off that katoosh and get in that kitchen!

 

Happy Friendsgiving

 My favorite holiday of the year is hands down, Thanksgiving.  Growing up, my family didn't have many Thanksgiving traditions -- it was a foreign holiday that we never really embraced.  But I'd always dream about what kind of Thanksgivings I'd have when I grew up: the perfectly browned turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potato casserole with those nicely melted marshmallows on top, green bean casserole topped with crispy fried onions...the glory! Once I headed off to college and pretty much had to fend on my own, cooking was something that continued to stay constant in my life (Thank you mom!).  So before everyone would disperse for Thanksgiving every year, we'd get together, I'd make an epic Thanksgiving feast, and we'd eat ourselves stupid -- but in a good way. It was my way of showing my appreciation to my friends in the best way I knew how: through food.    Now as the years have passed I still maintain my annual Thanksgiving feast tradition.  I like that, tradition.  It takes a long time for something to become a tradition.

It was our first Thanksgiving feast in our new home this year so I knew I had to make it special.  To prepare a feast for 15 people can often be a challenge so I kept my recipes simple and made sure to start prepping as early as possible.  I created prep lists to keep track of all the tasks that needed to be completed and made detailed shopping lists of what stores and what items I'd need.  I started prepping 3 days before the event and once the big day came I wasn't running around the kitchen like a maniac.  I felt revived after not cooking for so long and yes there were some mistakes but overall the entire meal was a wonderful success.  People went back for seconds and thirds, others passed out from intense food coma, and of course to maintain "tradition" we ended the meal by forcing the cook to perform a piano solo.  (Thank you Jenni)  Apparently there is NO REST for the weary. :)

We had Cajun Turkey, Southwestern Cream Corn, Green Bean Casserole with Maitake Mushrooms, Cornbread Stuffing with Sausage and Apples, Sweet Potatoe Casserole with Marshmallows, Fresh Garden Salad, Roasted Vegetables with Walnut Gremolata, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Peanutbutter Chocolate Trifle, Caramel Apple Pie, Sugar Shortbreads and Peanutbutter M&M Cookies.  I'd like to share two recipes that I think many of you will enjoy during thanksgiving: Maple Corn Bread and THE Chocolate Peanutbutter Trifle. 

I adored this cornbread recipe that I found via Real Simple. It was easy to make and the results was a buttery sweet cornbread with a slightly crisp edge and top.  I wished I had made extra for tableside bread but I actually used this cornbread recipe for my stuffing.  I made the recipe two days beforehand to save time, plus this gave the bread time to dehydrate a little bit before cooking.  I even used some leftover cornbread pieces and used them for croutons on a salad.

I didn't discover the beauty of trifle until I started to date my husband.  Before that my main reference to trifle was through Friends when Rachel made a trifle, messed up the recipe because one of the pages were stuck to Shepard's Pie but hey Joey liked it -- custard, jam, meat, what's not to like?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=pqq_Wrwo5zw

My first real experience with trifle was through my Aunt Lauri -- she made this incredible trifle of moist cake, custard, cream, lots of chocolate...it was a beautiful thing.  I never was able to shake the memory of her wondrous trifle until the following year when we'd all get to have it again for Thanksgiving.  This time around I thought I'd try a trifle for Friendsgiving.

There were a few problems I'd like to note about my first trifle experience that will help you guys out --

1. Make BIG generous layers.  My problem I made the layers too small so when it came to serving time, all the layers kind of blended together.  I realized when you make big generous layers of every filling, when it comes to serving time, your guests will be able to differentiate the different layers you have going on for your trifle.

 

2. I originally used gingerbread for my cake layer.  I should've used a moist chocolate cake (which is what I changed the recipe to).  Ginger, chocolate, peanut butter -- not good. Chocolate, chocolate, peanut butter -- REAL good.

 

Other than that, the fillings were really quick and easy.  I found the peanut butter mousse and milk chocolate pudding via Epicurious  and the salted caramel sauce from Food and Wine.  The peanut butter mousse tasted very similar to the filling in a Reeses peanut butter cup and the milk chocolate pudding was rich and decadent.  I used a gourmet dark chocolate bar I found at my local store for a bolder flavor but feel free to use milk for a milder touch.  And the salted caramel sauce adds the perfect finishing touch and I used whatever was leftover and poured it on top of my Apple Streusel Pie so it became an Apple Caramel Streusel Pie. :)

 

 

Holidays are the best time to try your luck in the kitchen.  What better reason to discover your inner chef?  Whatever your drive may be, remember: food is always love.  Even if you happen to have a little meat in your trifle.  Happy Thanksgiving friends.  Best wishes for a wonderful time with family and friends and don't forget to go for extra helpings of dessert :) (in moderation) <--- who are we kidding?

 

 

Easter Lamb Recipe with Couscous and Asparagus

In the spirit of Easter I'm featuring a great lamb recipe over at Artizone.  We used Martha Stewart's recipe for inspiration for both the lamb and the couscous.  I love the bright green color and flavors for this dish, it just screams "ALAS! Spring is here!!"

We only have about a week left before Wells and I embark on our Epic European Adventure 2011 and my excitement is in full force.  However, I somehow let Wells convince me that backpacking would be the way to go, that is until I saw the size of my bag -- " UHM...I can only fit like 2 pairs of shoes in there, like max." "Yes that's the point -- your tennis shoes, flip flops and one pair of heels, the end."  Obviously he's forgotten who he's about to marry because being the shoe addict that I am that was by far the silliest request I've ever heard.  A few pouts and whines later I convinced him to share half of his bag with me, bringing my total shoe count to now 5 pairs of shoes (He knows in the long run it'd be better for both of our sanities :)).

Time has been kicking my butt lately and I've barely been able to find time to cook, hence the recent shortage of recipes.  With Easter right around the corner I wanted to prep a dish that was simple, light but flavorful.  I love lamb because it's easy to make, satisfying to the soul and the bold flavors of the meat can leave you happily satisfied through just a couple chops.  I'm lucky to live in Dallas and be able to have services like Artizone available to me.  They are a newly launched grocery delivery service that offers products from the top culinary artisans in Dallas.  Head on over to the Artizone blog to find how to make the lamb recipe with complete pictures that show step-by-step instructions.  Don't forget to browse through all the other artisan goodies while you're there, I highly recommend the Triple Chocolate Truffle Cake from La Duni.

I am also digging this couscous recipe, originally the recipe called for quinoa but since I didn't have that readily available I simple found the next best substitute -- couscous!  I blanched some asparagus and together these sides paired perfectly with the hearty chops.  It's the perfect dish to serve to health-conscious guests or any guests with diabetic issues as it is rich in magnesium, selenium and fiber and low in fat and cholesterol.

Ingredients for Quinoa, Pea and Mint Salad (serves 4)

Prep Time: 10 minutes Total Cooking Time: 30 minutes

  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup couscous, rinsed
  • 1 cup shelled green peas or frozen peas
  • coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, torn if large

Bring stock and quinoa to a boil in a 2-quart saucepan.  Reduce heat ot a simmer; cover and cook 10 minutes, then add peas.  Cook until quinoa is tender but still chewy and has absorbed the liquid, about 5 minutes more.  Remove from heat, and let stand, covered, 5 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper, then stir in the oil . Transfer to a serving bowl and let cool slightly (about 5 minutes) before gently stirring in the mint.  Serve salad warm or at room temperature.

 

POM Wonderful 5-Course Dinner

The almighty pomegranate is native from Iran to the Himalayas and  has been cultivated throughout the Mediterranean region of Asia, Africa and Europe.  This mystical fruit with its healing properties and majestic apperance has been featured in Egyptian mythology and art, praised in the Old Testament of the Bible and referenced in the Babylonian Talmud*.   It has even gained distinction as a royal fruit in the literatures of Chaucer, Shakespeare and Homer*.   Pomegranate fruits contain maximum health benefits best known for its concentrated levels of antioxidants and its ability to combat LDL cholesterol and lowering blood pressure. 

This month, the lovely folks at POM Wonderful selected a group of 100 bloggers from across the US to host a POM party and I was fortunately one of them!  I especially wanted to participate in this challenge because before this event I have never cooked with pomegranate before.  It was fun planning the menu and discovering all the versatile uses for this delightful fruit.
First thing's first.  I'll start with how to open a pomegranate -- easy schmeezy, nothing too tricky.
1.  Cut. With a sharp paring knife cut off the top about a 1/2 inch below the crown.
2. Score. Once the top is off, you'll see four to six sections.  With your knife point, score the skin at each section.
3. Open. Separate the pomegranate at each score, so that you have individual sections.
4. Loosen. Over a bowl of water, use your fingers to loosen the "arils" (the flesh-covered seeds) and drop them into the bowl.  The arils will sink to the bottom.
5.  Scoop.  Use a spoon to scoop out the pieces of white membrane that have floated to the top.
6. Strain. Pour the reamining liquid through a strainer.  Place the arils in your favorite dish and enjoy!
 
Since we're nearing the holidays, I wanted to throw a 5-course dinner for my lovely friends -- it's my way of saying 'Hey, I love you guys!".   Now when planning a 5-course menu for a dinner party, there are several things you should keep in mind:
  • Budget: How much are you planning to spend?  Usually when I throw a party I like to keep it at 8-10 people and keep my budget around $100.  Keep everything simple and ask your guests to bring the drinks!
  • Balance: Think about the different flavors, colors and textures that will go into your menu.  For a five course menu, there's a gradual progression of flavors -- start off light and build your way up to the main course and always end with something sweet :)
  • Be Organized: This is probably one of the most important things.  The more organized you are the better things will flow the day of your party.  Make shopping lists, make a prep list for your dishes, set your table settings the night before, write out what needs to be done, etc.
  • Timing and Execution: I always like to do a run through of how everything will be served the day of the party the night before.  Plan out your cooking times for your menu items so when it comes time to serve everything flows and you can still sit down and eat with your guests. 
  • Table Settings: I like to keep my settings simple, earthy and seasonal.  Plan out what kind of tone you'd like to set for your party and what color and contrast you'd like to use. 

 

For the first course I wanted something to get the party started, what better way then with a fancy jello-shot!  It's nice, light and playful -- not to mention it packs a surprising punch. 

Ingredients for Pomegranate Jello Shot: serves 8-10; prep time: 10 minutes total cooking time: 1 hour 20 minutes

  • 2 packets of gelatin (1 tablespoon)
  • 2 1/2 cups POM
  • 1/2 cup good-quality Vodka ( I used Luksusowa)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • raw sugar for garnish
  • pomegranate seeds for garnish

In a large bowl mix 1 cup of POM with 1 packet of gelatin, allow to sit for at least 5 minutes or until gelatin is dissolved. Meanwhile in a small saucepan dissolve the sugar and remaining POM and bring to a boil. Once it is boiling turn off the heat and mix with the gelatin mixture. Once thoroughly mixed, add the vodka.

Distribute the mix in shot glasses and place in fridge and allow to set for at least an hour. When ready to serve, garnish the shot glasses with raw sugar and top with pomegranate seeds. Serve immediately and enjoy frequently ** it is easier to use a glass pan when making jello so that it pops out easier when it is done setting.

For the second course I wanted to do a salad.  Salads are easy to prepare and I love this recipe for the warm panko crusted goat cheese and the contrast with the pomegranate seeds and vinaigrette.  Also the spiced candied pecans add a nice twist! 

Ingredients for Panko Crusted Goat Cheese with Arils Salad: serves 8-10; prep time: 30 minutes total cooking time: 45 minutes

  • 16 ounces goat cheese
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 4 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 lb organic field greens
  • 1 cup arils

Divide the goat cheese log into 16 - 1 ounce portions and roll into balls, if you're serving 10 divide it a little under -- plan for each salad will receive two goat cheese rounds. Place panko crumbs in a shallow dish.   Take each ball of goat cheese and flatten into a 1/4"-thick disk and roll in the bread crumbs, making sure all sides are evenly covered.  Heat oil in a large frying pan or skillet on medium high heat, when the oil is smoking add the goat cheese discs.  Fry each side until golden brown, about 1 minute and set aside on a plate lined with paper towels to soak any excess oil.  When ready to serve, simply reheat in the oven or toaster oven for 3-4 minutes at 350F. 

   

For the pecans:

  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Fill a medium pot with water and boil on high.  Once the water is boiling add the pecans and cook for an additional minute.  In a large bowl place the spices and powdered sugar, mix well.  Strain the pecans and mix in the sugar mixture, make sure nuts are coated evenly.  Spread on a baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes or until the outside becomes crunchy -- you can test this by taking a pecan out and letting it cool, if it's still soft give it an additional 5 minutes if it is crunchy take it out and set aside.  Once pecans are cool give them a rough chop and place in a container until ready to serve.

For the dressing:

  • 1/4 cup pomegranate reduction (see recipe below for tenderloin)
  • juice from 1 lemon, seeds removed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon water

Place reduction on a small saucepan at medium low heat.  Whisk in lemon juice olive oil and water, if the mixture is still a little thick add a little water -- it should have a syrupy consistency.  Set aside until ready to serve.

 When serving:

Warm up your goat cheese discs in the oven or toaster oven.  Meanwhile,toss salad greens with pomegranate vinaigrette and plate.  Top with spiced pecans, arils and warm goat cheese.  Serve immediately. 

For the third course I went with a nice hearty soup -- this was actually a spin-off of the Chiles en Nogada recipe POM provided us with from Chef Cindy Pawlcyn.  I loved the textures of the crunchy pancetta and the smokiness of the poblano in this soup.  This was Collin's favorite dish.

Ingredients for Chiles Nogada Corn Chowder: (serves 8-10) prep time: 30 minutes total cooking time: 1 1/2 hours

  • 4 tablespoons canola oil or butter
  • 1 x 16 oz bag frozen organic corn kernels
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 2 celery stalk, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 2 poblano chiles, roasted and deseeded*
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 8 oz pancetta
  • 1 cup walnut, toasted
  • 1/2 cup micro arugula
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 cup arils
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups water
  • salt pepper to taste

 

In a large pot add your butter or oil and melt on medium high heat.  Once butter is bubbling or oil is slight smoking, add the corn, spices,chopped vegetables and garlic and saute until softened, about 8-10 minutes.  Reduce heat to medium and add stock and water to mixture and cook for 30 minutes.  Using a hand blender, blend ingredients thoroughly -- if you do not have a hand blender a regular blender will do.  Strain soup through sieve if you prefer a very smooth texture or leave it like it is for a more rustic texture. Add in the chopped roasted poblanos and allow to simmer on medium low heat for an additional 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the pancetta.  In a large pan heat 1 tablespoon oil on medium high heat.  Once oil is smoking add pancetta and fry until crispy, about 4-5 minutes.  Drain on paper towel and once cooled, chop into tiny pieces and set aside.  When ready to serve -- heat the soup on medium heat and ladel into soup bowls.  Top with micro arugula, cilantro, crispy pancetta and arils -- serve immediately.
 
For the fourth course I chose this robust 5 spice roasted pork tenderloin -- the spices paired perfectly with the tanginess of the pomegranate reduction.  The smooth creamy cauliflower puree gave a nice contrast in textures with the arils and pork.
Ingredients for 5 Spice Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Garlic Smashed Cauliflower: serves 8-10; prep time: 30 minutes cooking time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • 1 pork tenderloin, about 3 1/2 pounds
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1/4 cup freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese five spice powder
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon  

In a large bowl mix the spices salt pepper and sugar together.  Using a sharp knife, make shallow criss crossed incisions along the top of the tenderloin - this allows the dry rub to soak in better.  Take the spice mixture and generously rub all over the tenderloin, especially the top where the incisions were made.  Allow the pork to marinate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large pan or skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil on medium high heat.  Once oil is smoking sear each side of the tenderloin until a crisp golden brown, about 5 minutes on each side.  Remove from heat and cover with foil -- if the pan is not oven proof transfer the tenderloin to a baking sheet and cover with foil.  Allow tenderloin to roast for 45 minutes to an hour - use a meat thermometer to track the cooking time.  The internal temperatures should reach 145 degrees for the perfect medium tenderloin, 160 degrees for well done.  Also keep in mind, the meat will continue to cook once removed from the oven so gauge appropriately.  Once the meat reaches desired temperature set aside until ready to serve, make sure it's covered in foil to keep the meat warm.

For Cauliflower

  • 2 head cauliflower
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • salt pepper to taste

Cut the bottoms off the cauliflowers, making sure to remove the tough stems and leaving mostly the florets.  In a large pot fill with water and immerse the entire head of cauliflower in there.  Cook each head for 15-20 minutes on medium high heat until cauliflower is completelysoftened.  Place the softened cauliflower in a large bowl and set aside.  In a medium saucepan saute the garlic with a little olive oil on medium high heat until browned add the cream and nutmeg and cook for an additional minute.  Remove from heat and pour into large bowl containing cauliflower.  Using a masher or a pestle, smash the garlic and cauliflower until it reaches a paste like consistency -- similar to that of mashed potatoes but grainier.  Taste with salt and pepper.  You can also use a blender if you do not own a masher or a pestle. 

For Pomegranate Reduction:

  • 16 oz POM pomegranate juice
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 lemon, juice only
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • In a medium sauce on medium high heat, heat the pom juice and sugar until reduced to a syrupy consistency,  about 15-20 minutes add lemon juice.  If it becomes to thick simply add the 2 tablespoons of water to thin it down. 

    When ready to serve, place a generous spoonful of cauliflower and thinly slice the pork tenderloin.  Arrange the tenderloin around the cauliflower puree and drizzle with pomegranate reduction.  Top with arils and micro arugula.  Serve immediately. 

    What better way to end a 5-course than with something light and sweet?  I made a silky pomegranate sorbet and folded boozy grand marnier sour cherries to give it a little pizazz. 

    Ingredients for Pomegranate Sorbet with Grand Marnier Sour Cherries: serves 8-10 makes 1 quart; prep time: 10 minutes cooking time: 1 1/2  hours

    • 3 cups of POM pomegranate juice
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1 cup water
    • 1 cup Grand Marnier
    • 1 cup Sour Cherries, frozen 
    • 1 cup arils

    Place sugar water and pomegranate juice in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until well chilled, about an hour. Meanwhile, place sour cherries in Grand Marnier and allow to soak for an hour.  When sorbet mixture is ready, process in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions and add cherries in once mixture is almost frozen. Serve garnished with arils and mint leaf.

     

       

     

    I'd like to share my prep list just to give you guys an idea as to how to plan a stress-free holiday meal for friends.  As long as you stay organized and think ahead, everything will go smoothly :).  If you notice, I kept my menu simple and incorporated colorful textures and colors to keep my guests intrigued and entertained throughout dinner.
    Two Days Before:
    • Make candied spiced pecans for salad
    • Toast walnuts for soup
    • Prepare reduction for the pork
    • Prepare dressing for the salad
    • Fry the pancetta
    • Make the sorbet

    The Day Before:

    • Make the jello shots
    • Make the soup
    • Roll the goat cheese balls for the salad
    • Marinate the pork
    • Make the cauliflower puree

    Day Of:

    • Garnish jello shots with arils and sugar
    • Bread the goat cheese and fry, reheat in toaster oven when ready to serve
    • Reheat soup on medium heat, keep at a simmer on back burner til ready to serve.
    • Reheat cauliflower puree in a waterbath, keep warm on back burner til ready to serve.
    • Begin roasting the pork loin right before serving the jello shot, this allows you time to sit and enjoy the courses and converse with guests.

    As you see, I've planned the menu items to where the day of I am just throwing on the last minute garnishes and toppings to the dish.  Most of the items just need to be reheated and kept warm until ready to serve. 

    Always remember to keep it simple.  Don't stress out if things don't work out the way they're suppose to, simply move on.  The most important thing is to have fun -- your friends and family are already thankful that you are cooking for them!  If you need help clearing the table and loading the dishwasher, see if one of your friends will lend a helping hand. 

    I hope these tips will help you plan your next dinner this would be the perfect guide for the holidays.  Bon Appetit and thanks again to the folks of POM Wonderful for the wonderful pomegranates and goody bags for my guests!

    I Can't Believe It's Not Butter Event: Coppell Farmer's Market

    This past weekend my friend Eric and I decided to go on an adventure -- to Coppell Farmer's Market! I Can't Believe It's Not Butter helped me host a farm to table lunch.  The mission was to choose a local farmer's market, find some wonderful fresh produce then go home and make a meal using ICBINB products and farm fresh produce.  Originally I had a pretty strong group going but then the morning of (we had to leave at 9am) the group quickly dwindled down to one.  YES, one. In amidst of questioning my popularity, Eric arrived at my place and I had to think fast.  So I knocked him out with a frying pan, tied him up and threw him in my car -- GOTCHYA, there's no escaping now!

    Okay so maybe that's not how it happened exactly but don't worry, no one got hurt.

    The two of us ventured out to Coppell,TX and found the wonderful farmer's market.  Though the market was relatively small compared to the Dallas Farmer's Market, I really enjoyed a lot of the vendors here.  The entire shopping experience was less daunting, with about 25-30 tents compared to the 100s at the DFM.  They had all your neccesities -- fruits, vegetables, grass-fed meats, honey and jams, fresh herbs, fresh breads and my favorite...a sorbet stand.  But I'll get to that later.

    There was a wonderful bread stand from Village Baking Co. -- by the time I got there it was slim pickins so I figured the bread must be good.  We chose the last Jalapeno Cheddar Loaf, because the cute guy selling the bread said it was his favorite -- what can I say, I'm a sucker for blonde hair and blue eyes AND JALAPENOS AND CHEDDAR! I warmed it up in the oven when I got home -- it was quite delicious with melted pockets of cheddar cheese and jalapeno slices scattered in every bite.  It was money for sure.

    OKAY now this was my favorite stand by far.  The folks at Savoy Sorbet are magical -- they make these sorbets that are not only all natural but they are freaking DELICIOUS.  They call it "like catnip for humans!" because it'd probably be inapproriate to write "like crack for humans!" because that's how addicting it was.  I wanted to buy the entire truck of sorbets and bury my face in it -- but apparently that's un-lady like.  I tried the lavender which was bright yet floral but it didn't taste like soap (which I thought it would) it was truly the most elegant sorbet I've ever tasted.  But my favorite by far had to be the Chamomile Orange, which tasted like sunshine rainbows and hugs.  Don't believe me?  Try it out yourself.  With the sweltering heat that day, there couldn't have been a better tasting remedy.

    We picked up the last of the summer squash -- zucchini and yellow squash, sweet yellow corn and a couple pounds of tasty grass fed ground beef and lamb sausage for our lunch menu.  We also swiped up some fresh SPICY salsa and corn tortillas and a watermelon (that turned out to be a dud).

    I kept the corn simple -- after Eric cleaned and husked the corn, I just threw them in a pot of boiling water for 3-4 minutes and served them as-is.  That's the beauty of fresh produce, you don't have to do much to it to get great flavors.  We used some ICBINB spray and sprinkled some seasoning salt ontop -- you can opt for lemon-pepper, cajun seasoning, or just plain salt and pepper.  I gave mine a dash of cayenne, cuz everyone can use a kick every once in awhile :)

    For the veggies I diced the zucchini and yellow squash in to 1" pieces and blanched them with some french green beans.  In a medium sauce pan I sauteed some minced garlic and shallot along with some salt and pepper with some ICBINB spray and tossed the veggies in the mixture.  Again, very simple to do and the veggies tasted fresh and crunchy -- I love blanching my vegetables for that very reason -- my heart always hurts a little when I taste overcooked mushy vegetables.  You are not only losing a lot of nutritional value that way but the beautiful natural flavors go away too!

    Ah, last but not least!  Our 1/2 lb grass fed beef burgers.  I bought Hawaiian hamburger buns (YES THEY MAKE THOSE!!) and the sweetness of the bread really complimented the earthiness and savory flavors of the beef.  I seasoned the patties with some cayenne and some coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.  When making the patties, if you poke a hole through the center (like a meat donut) it helps it cook faster.  I cooked the patties similar to the way I'd cook a steak --preheat your oven to 400F, heat up your skillet at medium-high heat and add your butter (I used ICBINB spray in this case).  Once the butter is bubbling sear your meat patties, about 3 minutes on each side at medium-high heat and finish the rest of the way in the oven (about 4-5 minutes) you can use a meat thermometer to get the perfect doneness level as follows.

    Rare Medium-rare Medium Medium-well Well done 120° - 125° 130° - 135° 140° - 145° 150° - 155° 160° and above

    Everyone loved the farm to table lunch -- everyone being me, Eric, Collin and the guy who helped us dig a ditch that day (We're installing a french drain so I can have my deck for my housewarming party, my fiance will claim I am a slave driver but I urge everyone not to listen to his lies.)  I'd like to thank I Can't Believe It's Not Butter for hosting the event, it was a blast!

    Here is some additional info on I Can't Believe It's Not Butter --

    • 0 Calories per serving
    • 0g Fat per serving
    • No gydrogenated oils
    • Is made from a blend of vegetable oils like vanola and soy
    • has no cholesterol

    You can find additional recipes at I Can't Believe It's Not Butter where they also have giveaways and promotions, so check it out!