GRILLED CAPONATA AND ARUGULA SALAD

Yesterday a fruity Watermelon and Feta Salad...today a savory, garlicky grilled caponata salad. This was a fly by the seat of my pants kind of thing after my mom said she wanted to grill some eggplant and that I could do whatever I wanted with it. I made a trip to the grocery store for the rest of the ingredients for dinner and I looked in the produce department for something to pair with it and the cherry tomatoes looked like perfection so I went with it.

grilled caponata and arugula salad

 

GRILLED CAPONATA AND ARUGULA SALAD

what you need:

1 eggplant sliced into 1" thick rounds

1 red bell pepper

1 yellow bell pepper

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise

a handful fresh flat leaf parsley

a handful fresh basil

1 package of arugula

4 cloves of garlic, minced

red wine vinegar and olive oil

Prepare the bell peppers by cutting the sides off of the center core so you have 4 flat planks. Toss the eggplant and peppers with olive and salt and pepper and grill over medium heat so both sides get a nice char (not gonna lie, I didn't do this part...my brother manned the grill)

While that's happening, mix the minced garlic with the chopped basil and parsley and halved tomatoes. Add roughly a 1/3 cup of vinegar and 2/3 olive oil and season with salt and pepper and toss. Let it sit in the fridge for the flavors to marry just while you wait for the grilled veggies to finish. When they are done, chop into bite size pieces and toss with the tomato and garlic mixture while still hot.

Lay the arugula at the base of your serving platter, dress lightly with olive oil and salt and pepper. Lay the grilled caponata on top making sure to pour all the juice and vinaigrette that's collected at the bottom of the bowl over the salad. Serve while the caponata is still warm, the arugula will wilt slightly, don't be alarmed, it's a welcomed effect.

If you make this or the Easy Watermelon and Feta Salad, let me know what you think!

Cheers!

Catherine

EASY WATERMELON AND FETA SALAD

As promised, my Easy Watermelon and Feta Salad! If you're anything like me and you love savory and sweet in the same dish this salad will not disappoint, plus there's no cooking so it's awesome for hot summer days. The basil, watermelon and cucumber make is so refreshing and the feta takes it to another level...a delicious one.

Easy Watermelon and feta salad

EASY WATERMELON AND FETA SALAD

what you need:

half of a watermelon

half of an english cucumber

2/3 a block of feta cheese

2 handfuls of fresh basil

homemade red wine vinaigerette (see below)

Make the Red Wine Vinaigerette in the bottom of your serving bowl by mixing 1/4 cup red wine vinegar and 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper to taste, be generous. I whisk with a fork to combine everything.

Cube your watermelon (rind removed) into bite size pieces and place in bowl on top of vinagrette. Cut the cucumber lengthwise into two pieces then slice into thin half moon pieces and add to salad. I use an English cucumber because it has less seeds and the skin is tender enough that it doesn't need to be peeled. If you can't find one make sure you peel your cucumber first. Tear or chiffonade the basil and add to salad, sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss. Cut your feta into small squares, add to salad and toss. I like big bites of feta so I toss that in last so the cubes stay in tact as much as possible, but if you would like it more mild you can easily use crumbles. Place it in the fridge until you are ready to serve, you want it as cold as humanly possible. If you want it a little tangier toss the salad with a little more red wine vinegar before serving, I do that depending on who's eating it!

Tomorrow...my Grilled Caponata and Arugula Salad.

Enjoy!

Catherine

CELEBRATING WITH YOUR FAVORITE POSTS!

I love birthdays and parties and any reason to drink champagne and dance on a table! I'm continuing to celebrate The Asylum's first year this weekend and thought we should do that with a look at your favorite posts!

 

FAVE REAL WEDDING POST

Lara and Colin's gorgeous East Coast celebration complete with a custom blush wine stained wedding invitation suite by moi was the most coveted Real Wedding! Happy almost Anniversary Lara and Colin!

LARA-+-COLIN-MAIN-IMAGE.jpg

FAVE WEDDING INVITATION SUITE

These beautiful modern gold square cards were printed in white foil with a fresh mix of fonts...these would be my wedding invitations if I did it all over again.

FAVE TUTORIAL

You all seemed to need to make your own unique sized envelope as this post continues to be visited daily!

FAVE RECIPES

The most popular recipes were hands down the Strawberry Almond Gelato and Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble...and strawberry season will he here very soon so get ready!

FAVE PARTY INVITATION

The most visited OUT OF THE BOX INVITATION was the Campfire S'more Kit which will always be one of my favorites as well. I can almost smell the marshmallows roasting!

FAVE GUEST POST

And lastly the most pinned, most loved guest post was of course by my girl Kristen from House of Luciano with her awesome eyelash curling tutorial!

Thanks for visiting over the past year! Cheers to more faves, more invitations, more fabulous weddings and tutorials!

AWESOME APPLE BUTTER PANCAKES

This is the perfect Saturday morning Fall breakfast. And it's easy, the apple butter does all the work. I buy mine from the orchard where we go apple picking or at a farm stand that sells locally produced apple butter but if want to get all Martha you can make your own!

APPLE BUTTER PANCAKES 

What you need: 

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon each: salt and baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup each: buttermilk and apple butter
1 large egg
2 tablespoons flavorless oil, such as canola or vegetable, plus extra for brushing pan
Maple syrup for drizzling

Mix dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Measure buttermilk, apple butter, egg, and oil in a 2-cup liquid measuring cup (Ingredients can be measured the night before; cover and refrigerate milk mixture).

When ready to make pancakes, heat griddle or large skillet over strong medium heat and generously brush pan with oil. Dump wet ingredients into dry ingredients all at once; whisk until just mixed, adding a little water to make batter thick, but pourable.

When water splashed on the surface confidently sizzles, pour batter, about 1/4 cup at a time, onto the griddle, making sure not to overcrowd the skillet. When pancake bottoms are brown and top surface starts to bubble, 2 to 3 minutes, flip cakes and cook until remaining side has browned, 1 to 2 minutes longer.
Serve with maple syrup.

- See more at: http://threemanycooks.com/recipes/sweet-treats/apple-butter-pancakes/#sthash.X6a55JHV.dpuf

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup all purpose flour 

1/2 teaspoon salt 

1/2 teaspoon baking powder 

1/4 teaspoon baking soda 

1/2 cup almond milk 

1/4 cup water 

1/2 apple butter 

1 egg 

2 tablespoons vegetable plus more for the griddle

 

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl, once well combined measure and pour your wet ingredients in. Whisk until just combined. If your batter is too thick add a little extra water.

Warm your griddle to medium high heat. Brush with vegetable oil and when your griddle is up to temperature start making pancakes! You can make silver dollar size, Avy Gravy and The Dude like to pick these up with their hands and dip into syrup...The Big Guy likes a more manly sized pancake and a fork, thank God.

This recipe is adapted from ThreeCooksMany.com

I hope you enjoyed all the recipes from "An Apple a Day Week!" I had fun sharing them with you!

Cheers! 

Catherine

 

 

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon each: salt and baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup each: buttermilk and apple butter
1 large egg
2 tablespoons flavorless oil, such as canola or vegetable, plus extra for brushing pan
Maple syrup for drizzling

Mix dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Measure buttermilk, apple butter, egg, and oil in a 2-cup liquid measuring cup (Ingredients can be measured the night before; cover and refrigerate milk mixture).

When ready to make pancakes, heat griddle or large skillet over strong medium heat and generously brush pan with oil. Dump wet ingredients into dry ingredients all at once; whisk until just mixed, adding a little water to make batter thick, but pourable.

When water splashed on the surface confidently sizzles, pour batter, about 1/4 cup at a time, onto the griddle, making sure not to overcrowd the skillet. When pancake bottoms are brown and top surface starts to bubble, 2 to 3 minutes, flip cakes and cook until remaining side has browned, 1 to 2 minutes longer.
Serve with maple syrup.

- See more at: http://threemanycooks.com/recipes/sweet-treats/apple-butter-pancakes/#sthash.X6a55JHV.dpuf

 

1 cup all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon each: salt and baking powder 1/4 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 cup each: buttermilk and apple butter 1 large egg 2 tablespoons flavorless oil, such as canola or vegetable, plus extra for brushing pan Maple syrup for drizzling - See more at: http://threemanycooks.com/recipes/sweet-treats/apple-butter-pancakes/#sthash.X6a55JHV.dpuf

 

1 cup all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon each: salt and baking powder 1/4 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 cup each: buttermilk and apple butter 1 large egg 2 tablespoons flavorless oil, such as canola or vegetable, plus extra for brushing pan Maple syrup for drizzling - See more at: http://threemanycooks.com/recipes/sweet-treats/apple-butter-pancakes/#sthash.X6a55JHV.dpuf

 

FAB APPLE COCKTAIL!

Happy Friday...it's COCKTAIL TIME!  And since we have been having an unusually warm Fall here in the Northeast I'm thinking we need something refreshing instead of warming...

 GOLDEN APPLE SPARKLING COCKTAIL

What you need: 

1 bottle of Pinot Grigio 

1/2 bottle of Champagne 

2-3 Golden Delicious apples 

Pour the bottle of Pinot Grigio into a pitcher, slice your apples and add to the pitcher. Chill for an hour or two. When you are ready to serve, add some ice to the pitcher, enough to keep everything chilled. Pour your champagne in slowly so you don't lose the fizz. And serve!

Seriously...Pinot Grigio and Champagne in the same cocktail? Insane. Enjoy! 

Cheers! 

Catherine

APPLE SPICE CAKE, WITH SAUTEED APPLES

This cake is overly apple-y...if that's a word? Anyway, the applesauce and the sauteed apples are like a double threat. Serve it alone, top it with apple butter (oh my god) or with caramel or maple frosting.  Whatever floats your boat, I was really in the mood for Maple Syrup frosting.

The cake recipe is adapted from my fav Better Homes and Gardens cookbook...no shortening and the added sauteed apples take this one to another place. And BHandG doesn't frost their cake, I win.

APPLE SPICE CAKE, WITH SAUTEED APPLES 

What you need:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 cup butter, softened plus 2 tablespoons

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs

1/4 cup buttermilk or sour milk

1 cup applesauce

3 Cortland apples, diced

2 tablespoons brown sugar

 

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a saute pan, add diced apples and sugar. Cook on medium heat until softened. Set aside to cool.

Grease and lightly flour two 8x1-1/2-inch round baking pans; set pan(s) aside. Stir the dry ingredients and the spices in a medium size mixing bowl.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat the butter for 30 seconds. Add sugar and vanilla and beat to combine. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Add dry mixture, buttermilk and applesauce alternately to beaten mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined. Fold in sauteed apples and pour into prepared pans.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean. Cool on wire racks for a few minutes before removing the layer cakes from pans. Cool thoroughly on wire racks. Add frosting if you wish...a layer of apple butter between and maple frosting on the top is perfection. I use the Maple Syrup Frosting from Bon Appetit and an apple butter I buy at a local farm.

Cheers! 

Catherine

THE BEST PUMPKIN MUFFIN!

Last Sunday I tried a new recipe for pumpkin muffins, Avy's favorite flavor is pumpkin so I knew she'd be honest. Thumbs up from my girl! She ate them for snacks, lunch and breakfast all week. And I may or may not have smeared them with cream cheese frosting after I warmed them in the toaster for her. The best part is I made more healthy changes this week. Mom of the year right here. 

PUMPKIN MUFFINS

What you need: 

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1/2 cup almond flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 eggs

1 cup sugar

1 cup pumpkin

1 cup applesauce

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the dry ingredients, minus the sugar, in a bowl using a whisk to get out any lumps. In another bowl mix the eggs, pumpkin, applesauce and sugar. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir to combine. 

Pour into a buttered muffin tin. Bake for 40-45 minutes. Insert a toothpick to test for readiness at about 30 minutes, it may come out cleanly but not be completely baked, touch the top of a muffin and press down a bit, if the toothpick is clean and the muffin feels firm and dry, remove and let cool.

These muffins are super moist and are great plain. Or with butter. Or with cream cheese. Or cream cheese frosting. Oh my god just make them, you'll thank me.

Cheers! 

Catherine

HEALTHIER BANANA MUFFINS!

I always like to make my kids some kind of baked good on Sundays and warm them up for breakfast or pack one in their lunch for the first few days of the week...preparing ahead is always my motto.

Today I opted for Whole Wheat Toffee Banana Muffins because I had 3 bananas that had lots of brown spots and now my kids won't eat them, unless they are mashed in bread and they don't realize they are. And I love using every last bit of food and wasting nothing. I save a lot of money doing this and I love that it forces creativity. Today I tried some healthier substitutions as part of my secret plan to change their diets, and I feel pretty successful!

WHOLE WHEAT TOFFEE BANANA MUFFINS 

What you need: 

3 very ripe bananas, mashed 

1 egg 

1/3 cup applesauce, unsweetened 

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon 

3/4 sugar 

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour 

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 

1/4 baking soda 

pinch of salt 

1/3 toffee pieces. plus more for top 

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, line a muffin tin with liners and spray the liners with cooking spray. In a medium size bowl, mix the dry ingredients with a whisk to make sure they are fully combined and there are no lumps. In a blender or food processor mash the bananas, egg and applesauce. Once combined pour into the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix. Add toffee pieces, if you would like to add nuts, walnuts would be great...my kids would never eat it once they've spotted a nut so I left them out.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, testing to make sure they are cooked through. Cool on a wire rack and serve the next morning, they are always much better the next day. 

This recipe is adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book. I added the toffee instead of nuts because I think toffee bits are one of my best kept baking secrets. I also made substitutions for white flour to whole wheat and the fat has been replaced by applesauce. Next time I'm going to try almond flour and whole wheat flour and see what happens. Enjoy!

Cheers! 

Catherine

THE BEST SUMMER DESSERT EVER!

Family movie night always consists of pizza, popcorn and homemade chocolate chip cookies at The Asylum. But it's Summer and HOT...so The Dude asked for ice cream sandwiches instead. Avy Gravy wanted s'mores. And since I don't like arguments... S'more Ice Cream Sandwiches was the obvious answer.  I might Be the best mom ever.

 

S'MORE ICE CREAM SANDWICHES 

What you need: 

graham crackers

nutella 

vanilla ice cream 

marshmallow fluff 

 

Smear a graham cracker with marshmallow fluff and char it with a kitchen torch or put it under your broiler for a minute. Smear another graham cracker with Nutella and put a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top of that. Top with the warm marshmallow graham cracker and enjoy! 

*Do not heat Nutella, it does not like to be heated. Never let the warm marshmallow come in direct contact with the Nutella, you'll thank me for this advice. 

 

Cheers! 

Catherine

 

 

GREEN BEAN + AVOCADO SALAD

I've made variations of this salad for the past year and if you love avocados, it's going to be one of your favs too. The viniagrette is less conventional than most because of the tarragon and I think that's what really makes this salad such a hit with everyone when I serve it. 

GREEN BEAN + AVOCADO SALAD WITH DIJON TARRAGON VINAIGRETTE 

What you need: 

12 ounces of green beans

1 pint of cherry or grape tomatoes, halved 

2 avocados, pitted and cut into slices

1/4 thinly sliced red onion 

1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon 

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard 

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 

 

Blanche the green beans in salted water until bright green and tender, shock in an ice bath to stop the cooking. They should be fairly crisp, NOT mushy. Meanwhile, make the vinaigrette by whisking the olive oil, vinegar, mustard and tarragon in bottom of bowl.  Add the green beans, I think they soak up the flavors if they are still warm so I don't wait for them too cool, I also have zero patience. Next mix in the onion, tomatoes and avocado slices (which will soften and break up somewhat as you stir, you want that so don't be shy.) Salt and pepper too taste.

My mother mixed in left over corn from dinner the evening before that she had cut off the cob and it was fab too so I would give it a shot if you have some on hand.

 

Cheers! 

Catherine