Lobster & Potato Salad

DSC_0212

The temps are climbing and it is time to bring on some great summer foods. Of course, having lived most of my life on the East coast, summer equals seafood. Living in Maine, that means bring on the lobster! I’m a lobster purest and I’ve said it before, frankly the best way to eat one is with some warm butter, but if you want to switch things up a bit, like I do from time to time, it’s always nice to have a few other recipes up your sleeve.

This recipe calls for picked lobster. I made the mistake of cringing at the price of packed lobster meat, the tourists have arrived therefore the high prices have too. I decided to just buy the lobsters steamed and pick them myself. Well, I only saved $10 and while I’ve gotten good at picking them pretty quickly, it just isn’t worth it. So, do the math and decide for yourself. Me, I’d rather have that time back to sit on the hammock. Granted, I would have probably been cleaning or hanging out with the kids, but still.

Anyways, this is a really fresh salad. The flavors are bright, although pretty strong so taste as you go. It really does balance well with the lobster meat and potatoes. Make sure to use a nice white wine otherwise you’ll just ruin the poor dish. You’re using lobster, so don’t go cheap now! While I tend to love lemon and use a lot of it with seafood, I don’t always add a full lemon worth of juice. Taste as you go.

This is lovely for entertaining, but simple enough to enjoy for a weeknight meal. It can be used as either a side salad for a barbecue or the main event. You can enjoy leftovers, but the flavors will intensify.

Lobster & Potato Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lbs unpeeled small Yukon Gold potatoes
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 Tbsp Champagne or white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature (optional)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 3 Tbsp drained capers
  • 1 cup thinly sliced scallions (6 to 8 scallions)
  • 1/2 cup (1/4-inch) diced celery
  • 1/2 cup (1/4-inch) diced red onion
  • 1 1/2 lbs cooked lobster meat, 1-inch diced (about 4 to 5 lobsters)
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 Tbsp coarsely chopped fresh tarragon

Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover with water by 1 inch. Add 1 tablespoon sat and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 to 25 minutes, depending on the size of the potatoes, until just tender. Drain in a colander, cover the colander with a clean kitchen towel, and allow the potatoes to steam for 5 to 10 minutes. Cut them in quarters or halves, depending on their size, and place them in a large bowl.

Meanwhile, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, garlic, egg yolk, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. While whisking, slowly pour in the olive oil, making an emulsion. Stir in the wine and capers.

While the potatoes are still very warm, pour half of the vinaigrette on the potatoes and toss them gently, allowing them to soak up the vinaigrette. Stir in the scallions, celery, red onion, and lobster and add enough vinaigrette to moisten. Reserve any remaining vinaigrette. Add the zest and juice of the lemon, the tarragon, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and toss carefully. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour to allow the flavors to blend. Taste for seasonings and add more vinaigrette, if necessary. Serve at room temperature.

Source: Ina Garten Barefoot Contessa Foolproof

DSC_0053

On one of the warmest days so far, I had scheduled myself to make cupcakes. It has been a really long time since I’ve made them and I felt like we, and you all, needed some. I thought to myself, “Hey, the readers need to see some more delicious baked goods like back in the old days.” So, it was all for you, I promise! I dropped my daughter off at school and my little guy and I got started in the kitchen. I made the cupcakes and then realized I forgot to add the one ingredient that was really going to make these cupcakes pop. I could blame the toddler, but this mistake was all on me. I tossed half of the cupcakes in the freezer (because I will be making those other cupcakes again next week) and figured out how to save this situation.

I was going through some saved frosting recipes and I happened upon this Mint Chocolate Chip Frosting. I had everything I needed, except heavy cream. Sigh. I had been halted by a whopping two tablespoons of heavy cream. The next day, with heavy cream in hand, I made these adorable cupcakes. I loved the way they turned out and my teaser on Instagram and Facebook showed me that everyone thought they were cute too. Everyone was fooled when they realized that this wasn’t ice cream, but frosting! I think I am going to play around with this concept some more in the future!

The frosting is made a little thicker than normal, so that it sits up on the cupcake nicely. You could easily thin it out, but I wouldn’t go too far because there is something about having it thicker and it mimicking ice cream. This is a pretty forgiving recipe, especially if you have worked with butter cream before. Play around with the peppermint extract and food coloring to get what you desire. The cupcake recipe I used was one of my favorites and yields 30, but the frosting yields 14, so please keep that in mind.

DSC_0039

Mint Chocolate Chip Frosting

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (or 2 sticks) of unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp heavy cream
  • 1/4 tsp peppermint extract
  • 2 drops green food coloring
  • pinch of salt, as needed
  • 2/3 cup mini chocolate chips

In bowl of stand-mixer, beat butter on medium speed for 30 to 60 seconds or until smooth. Add sugar, cream, peppermint, and food coloring and beat on high speed for about 3 minutes. Adjust frosting to your liking (more sugar for thicker, cream for thinner, and salt if too sweet). Stir in chocolate chips by hand.

Using an ice cream scoop, scoop the frosting and place on top of cupcake.

Store in an airtight container for up to 4 days, if they last that long!

Frosting yields 14 heavily frosted cupcakes.

Source: Chocolate Cupcakes, Mint Chocolate Chip Frosting ~ Sally’s Baking Addiction

DSC_0047

I’m on a seafood kick now that it’s summer. While I eat it often during the winter, the summer really brings out that craving for it. That’s the wonderful part of living on the coast of Maine. What I really love about seafood is that it is so quick to prepare. I can whip something up while the little one is napping and eat an awesome lunch before we wakes up. Granted, I always save him some as well because he’s a big eater and knows when someone has eaten something and hasn’t shared. I’m telling you, he knows!

These shrimp pack just enough of a kick, but aren’t too spicy. I’ve said it before, I’m not into foods that are extra spicy and super hot. Since my husband doesn’t eat seafood, I’m making these just for me so I make them to my liking. The lime gives the flavor a nice bright pop to compliment the chipotle. These can be cooked on the grill or sauteed in a pan. Use on top of a salad, as an appetizer, or as a main dish. Heck, throw them on top of a nice steak and you have a little surf and turf!

Chipotle Lime-Glazed Shrimp

Ingredients

  • 1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 tsp lime zest
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp chipotle chile powder
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter

Combine shrimp, garlic,zest, salt, chile powder, and pepper in a medium bowl, tossing to coat shrimp.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add shrimp to pan; sauté 3 minutes. Stir in lime juice and butter; cook 1 minute, tossing to coat. Remove from pan.

Source: Cooking Light, December 2013

DSC_0147

Everyone has their favorite side dish to bring to, or expects, at a barbecue. Summer is the time for potato, pasta, garden, and veggie based salads. What I love about these well loved side dishes is that they usually are all pretty similar, just slightly tweaked from family to family and generation to generation. Each family holding on to their favorite as the best.

This is my family’s cucumber salad. You wont hear anyone calling it “Creamy cucumber salad,” but since I make a few that are vinegar based, like this Japanese Cucumber Salad, I had to differentiate. This Creamy Cucumber Salad has passed through the ranks of my family and of course I find it as “the best.” It has a creaminess that outshines those others that tend to be watery. It has just the right amount of sweetness, without being sugar laden.

Throughout the summer I am always collecting produce to have enough to make big salads like these. I usually make a double batch at least, or am collecting enough cucumbers to make pickles for canning. What usually happens is me panicking because I am afraid the produce will spoil before I get to use them.

OXOGreenSaver Collage

Did you know that more than 25% of the fresh fruits and vegetables purchased by U.S. consumers are wasted annually before being consumed. That equates to more than 226 pounds per the average U.S. family! Why do we waste so much produce? When you bring produce home, you usually keep it in the plastic bags or the container it comes in. Storing your produce like this is actually causing it to go bad faster — this is the reason you often find rotten and slimy lettuce when you go to make a fresh green salad.

There are three main reasons produce rots and spoils:
– Ethylene Gas: Fruits and vegetables give off ethylene gas. Exposing produce to ethylene gas speeds up the ripening process, causing it to over ripen and go bad.
– Improper Airflow: When produce rests against the walls of containers, bags or crispers, moisture can build up and cause rotting.
– Uncontrolled Humidity: Fruits and vegetables require the perfect balance of humidity to keep them crisp and prevent wilting. To make things more difficult, different kinds of produce require different humidity levels.

I was asked by OXO to try out the 5qt GreenSaver and I was excited to put it to the test. I bought these large slicing cucumbers and left them in the GreenSaver for over a week. Slicing cucumbers from the market are typically already on their way out, but these stayed nice and crisp and weren’t spoiled at all. Perfect for someone like me who buys a lot of produce in the store and gets busy later on in the week. I loved how I could change the settings to accommodate all kinds of produce and what I liked best is I took this uni-tasker and turned it into a multi-tasker by using the inside as a colander for all of my sliced cucumbers. Then, I used it to sweat the cucumbers and allow the water to drain into the main compartment!

OXO provided me with the OXO GreenSaver, but as always the opinions expressed here are solely my own.

DSC_0139

Creamy Cucumber Salad

Ingredients

  • 3 cucumbers, sliced thin
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 1 qt water
  • 1 medium Vidalia or sweet onion sliced thin into rings
  • 1 cup thick mayo or salad dressing
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk**

Add cucumbers, salt and water to a large bowl and let soak for two hours.*

Dry cucumbers on paper towels, pressing gently to squeeze excess water out.

Combine remaining ingredients and let sit for a few hours. Serve cold.

Source: The Way to His Heart

*We tweak it each time, but the end result is usually the same. Feel free to tweak as you go as well, adding a little more vinegar or sugar to your liking. Instead of soaking, you can also sweat the cucumbers and then do a quick rinse and dry.

**You can omit the evaporated milk, but that is what makes this so nice and creamy.