Thursday, July 18, 2013

How about a Stay-cation Picnic?

One of my favorite things about a Stay-cation is having the time to be creative and experimental.  And boy did I get creative in laying out my Stay-cation picnic!  Haha I ended up combining colors and patterns that I would NEVER have tried during the normal time crunch life we live most of the time!
Here’s how it all pulled together in no time at all!  I mowed the lawn early ‘cause I wanted to get it done before it got too hot and also have the whole day ahead to do what I wanted!  So after getting the lawn finished; I have a really tiny lawn so I don’t want you to think this was any great feat, I hopped into the shower.  I could smell the scent of newly mowed lawn through the open bathroom window and that got me thinking……sometimes that’s a good thing…sometimes not!
Thinking about playing on the newly mowed grass when I was a kid; you know doing hand stands and cartwheels?  Well I don’t do gymnastics any longer for sure but hey….I can still enjoy the freshly cut grass!  That’s how I decided it was time for an impromptu back yard picnic!

First thing I did was to fire up the BBQ. Then it was what to make….chicken or lamb?  Yes I had both in the fridge so they became the main event.  Oh yes; had that too and corn on the cob is a perfect side to do on the BBQ….hey no heating up the kitchen for this picnic! Great I had some asparagus and peppers so I’ll figure out something to do with those too. Fresh fruit? Yes absolutely for a super easy and colorful dessert! What to drink? Well wine is great for sure but it’s really hot so Sun tea came to mind too. Hmmm this is looking like it’s going to be an absolute feast!
Let’s get started:
Gather up some blankets, quilts, and pillows. Mix and match to make it totally eclectic. You’ll be so happy you did I promise!  Now toss them out on the lawn making a seating reclining area and leaving an area for your drinks and dishes.  Plastic, paper, china…whatever YOU want to use.  It’s all going to pull together and be fantastic.  That’s the fun of doing a Stay-cation picnic.  Oh and don’t worry if it rains…hold your picnic in the living room and find an old movie to enjoy while you dine!

Rosemary Lavender Lemon Sun Tea:
1 Quart water
1 lemon
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon dried lavender blossoms
Slice the lemon and put it into a 1 quart carafe.  Add the rosemary and lavender.  Smash a bit with a wooden spoon.  Add the water and set in the sun for 2 to 4 hours.  Pour over ice and serve.

Pesto Rotisserie Chicken:
1 whole frying chicken
4-6 Tablespoons Pesto.  I always have my own pesto in the freezer so I used that. 
Separate the breast skin and massage a little of the pesto between the skin and the breast meat.  Rub the remaining pesto all over the inside and outside of the chicken. Put on the spit over med/low until done; about an hour and a half.

Grilled Lamb Steaks:
4 Lamb steaks or chops
2 cloves garlic
4 tablespoons basil (or mint if you prefer)
2 tablespoons parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
Mince together the garlic, basil, parsley and add the salt & pepper and olive oil.  Rub onto the lamb chops and set into fridge until ready to use.
Grill over med/high heat about until medium rare.  Time depends on thickness of meat.
BBQ Corn on the Cob:
4 Tablespoons Uncle Gary’s Pepper Jelly
4 ears Corn on the Cob
8 Slices Bacon
Spread one tablespoon of pepper jelly on each ear of corn. Wrap two slices bacon around each ear of corn.  Place on med/high grill turning often until bacon becomes crispy.  About 15-20 minutes

Pepper Asparagus Salad:
1 Yellow Pepper
1 Red Pepper
1 Bunch fresh Asparagus
½ small red Onion
½ cup vinaigrette dressing
Core and seed both peppers then cut in quarters. Remove woody stems from asparagus. Grill peppers and asparagus for about 10 minutes over med/high.  Remove blackened skin from peppers and slice. Mix peppers and asparagus together in a serving bowl. Chop the red onion and add to the peppers.  Toss with vinaigrette dressing.

Three Fruit Dessert Cocktail:
1 Cup Watermelon chunks
1 cup Pineapple chunks
1 Cup Blueberries
4 Tablespoons grappa or vodka
Layer the fruit in glasses and drizzle with grappa.  Chill until ready to serve.
Get it all together:
When the chicken is done remove to serving platter and let rest.
Grill the peppers and asparagus for the salad.
Put the corn on the BBQ and put the salad together.
Half way through the grilling for the corn put the lamb on the BBQ.
When the lamb and corn ore done put onto a large serving platter and bring out to the picnic along with the drinks and salad.  ENJOY

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Roasted Parmesan Tomato Panini

Roasted Parmesan Tomatoes are an ideal side dish to accompany beef, chicken and fish. Super easy to prepare and taking only 15 minutes to bake you can have a fresh side dish any time of the year! But one of my favorite Panini uses Baked Parmesan Tomatoes as the main ingredient! Juicy and flavorful, this panini will please even your hungriest teenager!
I'm so excited to share this family favorite with all of you not only because it's such a winning dish but I am also entering a blogger contest because "I want to win a week in one of your Tuscany villas!" which kind of makes this a double win:)
Is your mouth watering yet????
Here is the recipe; I do hope you enjoy this true Tuscan delight!!!
·         4 ripe tomatoes cut in half
·         ¼ cup grated Parmesan
·         ¼ cup bread crumbs
·         1 tablespoon oregano
·         ¼ teaspoon salt
·         1/8 teaspoon pepper
·         4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
·         1 baguette or 5 grain Italian bread
·         ¼ cup mayonnaise
·         3 tablespoons country  mustard
·         8 ounces mozzarella slices
·         4 lettuce leaves
·         ¼ cup chopped black olives

Preheat oven to 450°F.
Mix together cheese, bread crumbs, oregano, salt, pepper and olive oil.
Spoon mixture onto tomato halves.
Bake for 15 minutes.
Cut bread into 4 segments and then slice in half lengthwise.
Mix together mayonnaise and mustard and spread onto bread.
Add mozzarella slices and lettuce to sandwich bottoms and top with tomatoes and black olives. Place the top bread slice on the tomatoes and press down lightly.  At this point you can light grill both sides or serve as is.  My family never can wait long enough for them to be I guess that tell you something about how much they love these panini!

Serve with lots of napkins!
Here is a video demonstrating just how easy it is to transport your taste buds to Tuscany......