Posts Tagged ‘summer’

I decided it’s about time I start cleaning out my freezer and seeing what I can use and what needs to be thrown away. This package of drumsticks was occupying the back of the second shelf. I don’t really know a whole lot of things to do with drumsticks, but the first thing I immediately think of is barbecue. I kind of needed something quick and easy too – I didn’t want to spend all day in the kitchen.

This recipe does take some think-ahead time because you start the day before, partially cook the chicken, and let it marinate in the sauce until you’re ready to use it, but actual preparation the day of is very simple. You can use whatever barbecue sauce you like, and using a bottled sauce would certainly make it an even easier recipe, but I wanted to try one from Cooks Illustrated (originally published for serving with pork), and I’ve included that recipe here for you as well.

The chicken turned out great, and the sauce was sweet and sticky and good. It made for a great summer meal! You can also use this recipe for thighs, and I’m sure other parts of chicken as well. This is a halved recipe, so if you have more than two people you may want to double it.

Barbecue Chicken Drumsticks (Recipe found here)

  • 5-6 chicken drumsticks and/or thighs, with skin on
  • 1 cup barbecue sauce (or one recipe Cooks Illustrated sauce below)


In oblong storage container (I just used a large bowl), pour 1/4-1/2 cup barbecue sauce on bottom and tilt to evenly coat.

Put chicken into dutch oven or other large pot with a lid. Fill with water until water is about 2 inches higher than chicken. Bring to a boil and cook 15-20 minutes – no longer, or chicken will be tough. Pour into colander to drain water.

While chicken is in colander, turn on cool water, and while holding chicken leg under water, pull off skin and any fat (meat will be tender so be careful not to pull off any meat pieces).

Place each skinned piece into the prepared container. If using thighs, place the piece meat-side down, the side the bone isn’t sticking out of.

Pour the rest of the barbecue sauce evenly over the chicken, making sure to cover all the meat. Cover container (I covered the bowl with plastic wrap) and put into fridge either for the rest of the day or overnight. Because the chicken is hot, it absorbs more of the sauce flavoring.


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place coated pieces of chicken in greased oblong or square pan. Bake for 40 minutes. Alternately, you can grill.

CI Barbecue Sauce (Slightly adapted from Cooks Illustrated July & Aug 2009)

  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup molasses (calls for light or mild, all I had was dark and it was fine)
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar

Bring all ingredients to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat; cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce is reduced to about 1 cup, 5-7 minutes.


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This recipe came out of the most recent issue of Health magazine (June 2010). It looked so light and fresh, and looked easy too, which immediately drew me to it. And I love pasta salad, so I thought I’d give it a whirl.

If you like the taste of both red bell pepper and lemon, you’ll like this. It includes the juice and zest of one lemon, which gives it a lovely summer flavor. I did add more oil later to refresh it because I didn’t serve it immediately. JW likes our usual pasta salad better, but he ate this and enjoyed it. He said it tasted “earthy” (in a good way).

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

  • 8 oz farfalle
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • One can (14 oz) artichoke hearts, drained
  • 8 oz part-skim mozzarella cheese, cubed
  • 1/4 cup chopped bottled roasted red bell pepper
  • 1 cup frozen peas

Cook pasta according to package directions. While pasta cooks, combine lemon zest, lemon juice, and olive oil in a large bowl and whisk together.

Add artichoke hearts, cheese, and red pepper to lemon/oil mixture, and stir to combine.

Place peas in colander, and when pasta finishes cooking, drain pasta over peas. Add pasta and peas to artichoke mixture and toss.

Garnish with chopped fresh parsley, if desired. Chill until ready to serve. May need additional olive oil for refreshing prior to serving.

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Allow me to take a moment to brag.

This cheesecake was amazing.

Our receptionist of 19 years is leaving our office, so we threw her a surprise going-away party last week. This strawberry cheesecake and a german chocolate cake (made by another coworker) put on quite a show, perfect for honoring a dear friend.

This cheesecake recipe (without the strawberries, although they would have been a nice touch) was also the one I decided on last year for my sister-in-law’s wedding, after testing about 6 different recipes. It’s fantastic, it doesn’t use a water bath, it has a very unique baking technique, and I’ve never had one crack.


Cheesecake Supreme (Original recipe here – but mine has several changes)

  • 2 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 5 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 3/4 cups white sugar
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees F… (YES that is the right temperature!)
  2. Mix the graham cracker crumbs, 1/3 cup of sugar, and the melted butter together. Press mixture into the bottom of a 10-inch springform pan, and put in oven to brown while mixing up batter (10 min. or so? I never really keep track)
  3. In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, eggs and egg yolks; mix until smooth. Add the remaining 1 3/4 cups white sugar, the flour and the heavy cream. Blend until smooth. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  4. Bake at 200 degrees F for 3 hours and 10 minutes, until filling is set (my oven runs hot, so you may need a bit more time). Turn oven off, crack oven door slightly, and let sit for 1 hour. Refrigerate overnight.


The cake is wonderful as-is, but you may top with the strawberry topping if desired:

Jelled Strawberry Topping (Recipe found here)

  • 1 cheesecake, cold and still in springform pan
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 (3 ounce) box strawberry gelatin
  • 1 lb strawberries, or as needed
  1. Rinse strawberries under cool water and let drain on paper towels, with paper towels over top of them also.
  2. In medium saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch, add water and cook over medium heat until thick and clear.
  3. Add strawberry gelatin and stir to dissolve. Set aside to cool down.
  4. Meanwhile, cut tops off the strawberries and place cut side down onto cheesecake THAT IS STILL IN THE SPRINGFORM PAN. Start in center and spiral out to edges. (Note: If you have a store bought cheesecake, you can carefully wrap parchment paper then plastic wrap around it to create a ‘wall’ above the cheesecake to hold the gel in til firmed up).
  5. When gelatin has cooled to almost room temperature, gently pour it over the strawberries, being sure to cover the entire top of strawberries and cake.
  6. Place in the fridge for a minimum of 4 hours.
  7. Loosen cake with a knife between the cake and the pan. unlock the pan (or carefully peel off the plastic wrap and parchment paper).


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I was craving a light summery meal last night, so I made this pasta salad with deviled eggs and fresh-cut watermelon. I searched long and hard for a pasta salad that met our requirements:

  • No cold meat (per JW’s request)
  • No beans
  • No dump-a-bottle-of-Italian-dressing-on-it-and-call-it-pasta-salad recipes (although I’ve most likely eaten and enjoyed such recipes in the past – I wanted a little something more)

This pasta salad met our criteria, and with a couple of tweaks, it was perfect. The original recipe makes enough for a crowd, so I cut it in half. We loved the combination of rotini and cheese tortellini, and the pesto just pushed it to the top. It is a great and easy summer recipe I would recommend to anyone.

Pesto Pasta Salad
(Original recipe here)

  • 10 oz. cheese-filled tortellini, fresh or frozen (I used half of a 20-oz. bag)
  • 1/4-1/2 of a one-pound box of rotini pasta
  • 1 10-oz. container grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • A handful of kalamata olives, drained and sliced in half lengthwise
  • 2 Tbsp parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 6 oz mozzarella cheese, cubed (I used string cheese)
  • 4 oz. basil pesto
  • Olive oil as desired

Cook pastas; drain and set aside to cool (you may drizzle some olive oil on the pasta so they do not stick together).

In a large bowl, mix other ingredients together, and gently fold in cooled pasta. Serve immediately or refrigerate.

If served later, you may have to “refresh” this with a bit of olive oil. Adjust other seasonings to taste.



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We went to a cookout last night and I offered to bring these cupcakes I’d been eyeing for a while at Baking and Books. I LOVE strawberry shortcake, and these were perfect for an outdoor summer evening!

This recipe is great when you’re ready for a multiple-step, completely-from-scratch process that ends in something delicious! These were good, and really not too labor intensive if you started the day before.

I didn’t alter the recipe much, so I’ll just insert my notes (and pictures) where they apply.

Strawberry Filled Coconut Cupcakes with Whipped Cream Frosting
Click here for the recipe at Baking and Books

Step 1: Make the Strawberry Filling (I did this on Day 1)


  • 2 pounds strawberries (about 3 pints)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Remove the stems and thinly slice the strawberries. Toss them in a large bowl with the sugar and lemon juice. Let stand at room temperature, stirring occasionally, for 4 hours.

Transfer the strawberries to a large colander set over a large bowl to drain excess liquid. Put the drained strawberry slices in a blender and pulse until you have a thick strawberry puree (I used my immersion blender – LOVE it!). Return to the colander and allow to sit for another 30 minutes, allowing any extra liquid to drain.

*Instructions for filling the cupcakes in Step 3.

Step 2: Make the Coconut Cupcakes

Ingredients: Makes about 16 cupcakes [Note: I could have made more than 16 cupcakes, maybe even 20. You may want to plan accordingly.]

  • 2 13-to 14-ounce cans unsweetened coconut milk (you are going to use these to make reduced coconut milk)
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • About 1/2 pound of fresh strawberries

Reduce the coconut milk: (I also did this on Day 1)

Bring the coconut milk to boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook until reduced by half, stirring occasionally, about 25 to 30 minutes. You can measure this by dipping the handle of a spoon into the coconut milk before you bring it to a boil, then dipping the handle of another spoon into the milk after it has cooked for 25 minutes. Compare the two handles to see if the milk has reduced enough.

Remove from heat and cool completely. Transfer to small bowl, then cover and chill. You can do this step up to 2 days in advance.

NOTE: You are only going to use 1 cup of the reduced coconut milk.

Make the cupcakes:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and line sixteen (or a few more) muffin cups with paper liners.

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer (YAY KitchenAid!), beat the butter in large bowl until smooth. Add the sugar and beat on medium-high speed until well blended, about 2 minutes. Add 2 eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the vanilla and remaining egg, mixing well.

Add half of flour mixture and mix on low speed just until blended. Add 1 cup reduced coconut milk (I strained it in the colander to remove any little lumps) and mix just until blended. Add remaining flour mixture and mix on low speed until just combined.

Divide the batter among the muffin cups. Bake until the cupcake tops spring back when gently touched and a tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then gently remove the cupcakes to a rack to cool completely.

Step 3: Make the Frosting


  • 1 1/2 cups chilled heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar

In a chilled bowl beat the cream and sugar until the cream holds stiff peaks (I did this also in the Kitchen Aid mixer, with the whisk attachment).





Step 4: Assemble the Cupcakes

With a sharp knife gently cut a little cone out of the middle of each cupcake and set it aside. Cut off the bottom (pointed part) of the cones you cut out of the cupcakes, so that you just have a little round disc.

Eat the cone bottoms you cut off.


Now transfer your strawberry puree to a large ziploc bag and carefully snip off one corner of the bottom, creating a small opening.

Insert the open corner into the hole you’ve made in each cupcake, then press gently to insert the filling. Don’t press too hard or too much filling will come out at once. Slow and steady wins the day. You want to put a generous amount of filling in each cupcake.


Gently place the disc over the filling hole.

Spread the frosting on the cupcakes. Start with the capped hole to prevent any straggling strawberry filling from coloring the frosting.

Remove the stems for the remaining strawberries and slice them. Place slices on top of each cupcake.

Cupcakes will keep for 1-2 days in the refrigerator.




Hint: Be sure to cover these when you put them in the fridge so the cupcake does not dry out.

The great thing about these is that they are good, but not too sweet. The strawberries have a lovely flavor, and the cream has just enough sweetness to pull everything together. And the cupcake batter is SO good… not that I licked the bowl or beaters or anything.

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