Monday, June 25, 2012

Summer Beet Stacks

Are you a fan of beets?  I have to admit... they had to grow on me.  Growing up my mom LOVED them, my dad not so much, and me and my brothers - well - we were on the fence.  That is until a few years ago when I was introduced to roasted beets.  I fell in love with their intensely earthy, sweet flavor.  Plus their gorgeous red and sometimes vibrant yellow and orange coloring makes them pop on any plate.

Beets are a root vegetable known as beetroot or garden beets and they have been cultivated for centuries.  The tasty roots date as far back as 8th century BC Babylonia.  Aristotle even wrote about the ruby lovelies.  
Traditionally the dark-red roots are boiled, served cold over salads, or pickled (which I hate!).  In Eastern Europe they are one of the main ingredients in the popular cold soup: borsch. 

For me - roasting is the best way to prepare beets and so simple do.  This recipe makes a wonderful side to any summer meal!!  

Makes 4 beet stacks
  • 4 beets, small to medium sized
  • 4 ounces goat cheese
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup walnut oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, roughly chopped
  • salt & pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 350ยบ F.
  2. Scrub, rinse and pat beets dry then rub with a small amount of olive oil and wrap tightly in foil (two beets per foil packet).  Roast for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until beets are tender and easily pierced with a knife.  Allow to slightly cool then carefully remove skin.  (The beets will stain your hands and clothing! So I use rubber gloves.)  Set aside.
  3. In a small, dry frying pan toast walnuts until slightly browned.  Set aside.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together balsamic vinegar and walnut oil then season with salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside.
  5. Once skin is removed slice beets width-wise into three or four sections (depending on the size of the beet.)  
  6. In layers, alternate beet slices and crumbled goat cheese.  Drizzle stacks with balsamic walnut oil vinaigrette, fresh thyme leaves and the toasted walnuts.  Enjoy.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Cedar Plank Salmon

I find the best recipes are usually the simplest.  I used to think whipping up an impressive meal meant hours of prep work, lots of crazy ingredients and dozens of pots and pans.  This recipe is the exact opposite!

Four ingredients.  Juicy Lemons.  Fresh Dill.  Tender Salmon.  Cedar Planks.  Add a little salt and pepper and you have an elegant, delightful meal perfect for a summer dinner party or a romantic meal for two.
According to Great Lakes Grilling, the pairing of salmon and cedar planks started with Native Americans who occupied and fished in the Pacific Northwest.  In those days, the salmon was tacked on big wooden slabs and roasted over an open fire.

Unfortunately our condo association wouldn't take to kindly to us having an open fire on our wooden back deck.  Thankfully nowadays you can buy grilling planks almost anywhere.  The planks impart a wonderful smokiness to the fish without drying it out. 
I cannot take credit for this delicious and simple dish!  Sometimes you just come across recipes that are too good to be changed and this is one of them!

So for further details I will refer you to creator of this recipe - Allison Eats.  You need to add this food blog to your favorites!  I would also highly recommend the mustard dill sauce she pairs with the fish, too.  Enjoy!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Hum Sun Tea

Oh, Wendy See Wendy Do readers.... I do apologize!

I have neglected you!

To explain... I recently got a job.  A full-time job that seems to be taking my... well... my full-time. 

No excuses!  I am back and ready to blog.
It is nearly 90 degrees this weekend in Chicago which means one thing at my house - SUN TEA!!!  I love sun tea for so many reasons but mostly because it is fool proof.  All you need is a pitcher, a couple of tea bags, whatever add-ins for additional flavor and sun.  

Today I added lemon and local strawberries for a nice hint of tart and sweet.  My other favorite flavor combinations are: peach/mint, basil/raspberry and orange/fresh ginger (which is so spicy sweet!!)
Today I wanted to kick my tea up a notch - it is Saturday after all - so I added a healthy splash of my favorite Chicago-based "botancial spirit" Hum

This ruby-colored, rum-based liquor is infused with hibiscus, ginger root, green cardamom and kaffir lime to create an herby, spicy, intoxicating concoction that you can add to just about anything!  I love to add a splash of it to prosecco.  I have used in place of grenadine to make a spicy Manhattan.  Most times, I just enjoy a few ounces of Hum on the rocks with a squeeze of lime and some soda water.  Did I mention I LOVE this stuff?

So... Hum Sun Tea was created!  


  • Large pitcher
  • 2 large tea bags (I use Lipton)
  • One half of a lemon, sliced
  • One cup fresh strawberries, sliced
  • Hum liqueur  (Click here to find a store that sells Hum closest to you)
  1. Place lemon slices, strawberries and tea bags in pitcher and fill almost to the top with water.
  2. Place outside or near a window in direct sunlight.
  3. Allow tea to steep for at least one hour.
  4. Fill a glass with ice and add one to two ounces of Hum liqueur. 
  5. Top off glass with tea and garnish with a lemon.  Enjoy!