Monday, August 14, 2017

Mexican Grilled Corn (Elote Asado)

Coated in a cream and rolled in crumbled cheese, Elote Asado is a popular way of serving grilled corn at festivals and markets in Mexico. Soaking the corn in their husks prior to grilling keeps them from burning. Plus the steam that’s produced inside the husks, keeps the corn moist.




Mexican Grilled Corn

Servings: 6
6 ears corn on the cob in husks
1 tablespoon butter, melted
½ cup Mexican crema or sour cream
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 lime
1 bunch fresh cilantro
Cotija cheese or other crumbling salted cheese such as feta







In a large bowl or bucket filled with water, add corn in their husks. Cover with a plate to be sure the corn stays immersed in the water. Soak corn for about 1 hour.


Heat grill to medium. Place corn on grill and cook for 15-20 minutes, turning with tongs occasionally.


In a small bowl, combine crema, chili powder, juice from half of the lime, and two tablespoons of chopped cilantro. 


Remove corn from grill and allow to cool slightly. Remove husks and silk and brush corn with butter. Grill over high heat for another 5-8 minutes.


Remove corn and brush with crema mixture. Roll corn in cotija cheese and sprinkle with more chopped cilantro and lime juice.


(Recipe by Jennifer and Lynn Ruple) 

Monday, August 7, 2017

More to Dundee than meets the eye

Oftentimes, the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the words Dundee, Mich. is Cabela’s, the behemoth retail outlet for all things outdoors, visible from U.S. Route 23. Located just 17 miles from the Ohio – Michigan border, this small town has realized significant growth since 2000 thanks to the influx of visitors to Cabela’s and the restaurants and hotels that serve them. However, there's much more to Dundee than meets the eye.

Ford Park



Ford Park East and West
Located in the historic district of Dundee is Ford Park East and West. The park extends from both sides of the River Raisin and M-50. Amenities include a scenic riverwalk connecting the two parks, blooming perennials, three picnic shelters, fishing access, and a canoe and boat launch area. Free parking is available on the west side of the park behind Swan Creek Candle Company.




Day lilies line the Riverwalk at Ford Park.



River Raisin Canoe Livery
Rent a kayak or a canoe and spend the day paddling down the River Raisin. Half-day and full-day trips are offered daily through Labor Day and on weekends only through October. Reservations are recommended. Call 734-529-9029 or visit raisinrivercanoelivery.com.





Relax on the banks of the River Raisin.



Dundee Farmers Market
If you happen to miss all the Saturday farmers markets in the area, don’t despair. You still have a chance to catch the Sunday market in historic downtown Dundee right in the triangle of Riley and Park Place. 

The market, which features locally grown produce, herbs and plants, homemade soaps and candles, honey and handcrafted items, is held every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. through mid-October. On Sept. 17, the market will also include a Vintage/Antiques Street Market with antiques, vintage, and re-purposed items.




Dundee Farmers Market



River’s Edge Pizza Pub and Grille
A good choice for lunch or dinner is River’s Edge Pizza Pub and Grille located at 135 Riley St. The family-friendly restaurant is popular with visitors and locals alike and features hand tossed pizzas, slow-roasted ribs and pulled pork, mouth-watering burgers and pasta. 




River's Edge Pizza


Try a burger with fried jalape├▒os and cheddar, a Sicilian specialty pizza loaded with veggies and sans the sauce, or the summer special flatbread with basil pesto, mozzarella, fresh tomatoes drizzled with balsamic glaze. A second restaurant is located at the Carrington Golf Club in Monroe County.



Swan Creek Candle Outlet



Swan Creek Candle Outlet
While in downtown, visit the Swan Creek Candle Outlet. The company’s flagship location was established in 1997 and is located at 129 Riley St. in three restored historic buildings. There you will find over 5,000 square feet of candles, candle -related accessories, antiques and coffee.




Michcato is the wine of the summer.
   


St. Julian Winery Tasting Room
Sample award-winning wines at the St. Julian Winery Tasting Room, located at 700 Freedom Ct. in Dundee. At nearly 100 years old, St. Julian Winery, headquartered in Paw Paw Michigan, is Michigan’s oldest winery offering reds, whites, pinks, sparkling and dessert wines, plus ciders and spirits.




Shop the large selection of wine-related gifts.



While sampling, peruse the large assortment of wine-related and food items in the gift shop. Hours are Monday – Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tasting is $7 per person and includes six samples of your choice and a complimentary logo glass to take home. 



Diego enjoyed wading in the River Raisin.


Monday, July 31, 2017

Zoodles with Sun-dried Tomatoes, Basil and Pine Nuts

Eating your veggies has never been easier. It’s that time of year when farmers markets are in their full glory with piles upon piles of corn on the cob, tomatoes and zucchini just waiting for you to snatch them up and make something magnificent with them.





Skip the pasta and create zoodles, zucchini made into noodles with a spiralizer. You can use a knife to make the zoodles, but the spiralizer makes the job really fast. I purchased mine this past weekend at Williams Sonoma. 


This recipe will serve four as a side dish or two as a main dish. Don't want to skip the meat? Grilled shrimp or chicken would be a great addition for this ready-in-minutes dinner.








Zoodles with Sun-dried Tomatoes, 
Basil and Pine Nuts

Servings: 2-4
4-5 medium zucchini
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes, drained
Fresh basil, thinly sliced
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

With a spiralizer, cut zucchini into noodles. The strands will be long, so cut them about the length of spaghetti.


In a deep skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the zoodles and cook for 5-7 minutes, turning with tongs until they begin to soften but are still 
al dente like pasta.


Add sun-dried tomatoes, basil and most of the pine nuts. Toss with tongs and cook for 1 minute.



Remove pasta mixture from skillet, and place it in a large serving bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. Top with grated cheese, more basil and remaining pine nuts.




Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Back to the Bay

It’s funny how perceptions can change over time. Could it really have been 20 plus years since we had visited Put-in-Bay, The Key West of the North as it’s nicknamed? Considering we've been married for 20 years, it had been at least that long.

View of the harbor from The Boardwalk.
  


As youngsters, we knew South Bass Island, aka Put-in-Bay, to be the place to escape the daily grind of work, get away with friends on a Saturday and, get a little crazy, or a lot crazy I should say. 

We opted to make the trip on a Thursday, the better weather choice, and hoped there would be less of a crowd.




The quickest way to the bay is the Jet Express in Port Clinton.



Getting there is half the fun
The quickest way to the bay is the Jet Express. Board at Port Clinton, sit on the top level for the best view, and enjoy the approximately 30-minute boat ride to the island. 





Sit on the top level for the best view.



If you plan on visiting on a day other than a Saturday, take advantage of the Jet and Cart for Two offer, which includes: two adult round-trip tickets and two-seater golf cart to zip around in when you get there for $100, which I highly recommend so you can explore the entire island. 

There are some exclusions to the offer though … it’s not valid the day of purchase so book in advance, on Saturdays or on blackout dates. For details, visit jet-express.com.




Heading out to Lake Erie.



A blast from the past
We arrived on the island around noon, picked up our golf cart, which was extremely easy and there were no lines. As we drove around, we were pleasantly surprised at how pretty the island looked with flowers blooming everywhere.





Pulling in to the harbor.



Next, we strolled around the downtown area and visited old haunts such as the historic Round House bar. The 1873 establishment is known for its mural-painted plaster walls, overhead canopy, live entertainment and buckets of beer. 

The last time we were there, it was wall to wall partygoers spilling drinks all over each other. However, this time and being a Thursday afternoon, there were a few dozen folks enjoying some beer and great live music.




The historic Round House bar.


A bite to eat
After our walk, it was time for lunch. There is no shortage of burgers and fries on the island; however, we were in the mood for something with more Florida flair. 


We chose The Keys, which not only afforded us gorgeous views of the lake and harbor but a Caribbean-style menu with dishes such as Blackened Mahi Tacos, Lobster Salad Sliders and Chicken Teriyaki and Veggies.




Teriyaki Chicken and Veggies at The Keys Restaurant.



Taking in the scenery
Following lunch, we hopped on our golf cart for two and set out to see what else there was on this 2 x 4-mile island. Our first stop was the Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial. Unfortunately, the observation deck, rotunda, and plazas are closed in 2017 for cleaning and repairs; however, the visitor’s center is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily until October 1.




Heineman's Winery



From the monument, we headed northwest along the coast and enjoyed the ride while taking in the scenery of quaint cottages and beautiful homes situated just feet from the water. 

Also along our self-guided tour, we came across Heineman's Winery and South Bass Island State Park beach and campgrounds.




The garden at Heineman's Winery.

   
For the adventurous, we found a myriad of services on the island that offer activities such as charter fishing, parasailing, jet skiing, tubing and paddle boarding. 




Watercraft rentals.



A fond farewell
Prior to our departure, we wrapped up our island excursion with tropical cocktails from Rita's Cantina at The Boardwalk. 

Put-in-Bay was different this time around for us in a very good way, providing us with that relaxing, island getaway we were hoping for. 




    


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Hot Picks for Cool Summer Nights

And just like that, it's summer in the Midwest, roaring in with hot and humid temperatures well into the 90s. To help you beat the heat, here are some of my favorite finds this week to help you stay as cool as a cucumber. 





Lighten up with blush wines. A favorite brand of mine to serve at my annual Kentucky Derby party, 14 Hands Winery from the state of Washington, has just released a Rose'. 


It's described on the label as opening with a "delicate aroma of rose petals and rhubarb." Next the "refreshing flavors of melon and strawberries are followed closely by a kick of citrus in the finish."








Ditch the heavy scents and give your home some tropical ambiance of this three-wick Palm Leaves & Mango candle by Bath & Body Works.








Also from Bath & Body Works is Wild Lavender Mint foaming hand soap. Fill your kitchen or bath with the scent of summer's herbs. 








And lastly, what Cowgirl could resist these adorable cactus napkins to freshen up their bar cart? Both patterns were found this week at HomeGoods.





  

Cocktails, anyone?




    

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Get Grilling!

Memorial Day weekend has come and gone, bringing with it the unofficial beginning of summer. And that means it’s time to get serious about grilling. I am fortunate to work with a very talented local chef, Liz Donaldson, who creates menus for a food column I write. Liz and I make a great team – she preps and cooks the food, and I take the pictures 
and write about it.

Flat Iron Steak with Avocado Vinaigrette and Roasted Vegetables


Here is what Liz cooked up for the last article we worked on. It’s a perfect, three-course meal that will keep you out of the kitchen and grilling in the great outdoors. 



Red, White and Blue Salad
1 head romaine lettuce, trimmed
Extra virgin olive oil
2 tomatoes, sliced thick
Salt and ground black pepper
1 large ball of fresh mozzarella cheese, cubed
3 ounces crumbled blue cheese
Balsamic glaze

Brush the romaine thoroughly with olive oil. Oil the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Over medium heat, grill the romaine and the tomatoes until tender, turning frequently. 

Remove from the grill and slice the romaine down the middle. Garnish with blue cheese, tomatoes and mozzarella. Drizzle with balsamic glaze.




Red, White and Blue Salad


Flat Iron Steak with Roasted Vegetables

12-ounce flat iron steak
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and ground black pepper
Minced garlic
Baby potatoes and carrots
Balsamic glaze or Avocado Vinaigrette
Fresh chopped parsley for garnish


In a shallow pan, marinate the steak in oil, salt, pepper and garlic, overnight or at least 2 hours.


Give the vegetables a quick boil just to take the stiffness off. Coat the vegetables in olive oil.


Prepare the grill to roughly 375-400 degrees. Grill the steak for about 5 minutes on each side for medium rare. Remove the steak to a cutting board, cover with a towel and allow to rest. Meanwhile place the vegetables on the grill. Close the lid and grill for about 8-10 minutes, turning frequently. 


Slice the steak thinly and arrange with the vegetables. Drizzle with balsamic glaze or Avocado Vinaigrette. Sprinkle with parsley.


Avocado Vinaigrette 

2 avocados
1 tomatillo
2 cloves garlic
1 lime, squeezed 
½ bunch fresh cilantro 
⅔ cup extra virgin olive oil
⅓ cup white balsamic vinegar 
Salt and ground black pepper


Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper if desired.



Flat Iron Steak with Avocado Vinaigrette and Roasted Vegetables


Grilled Rhubarb Crisp

5 stalks rhubarb, peeled and cut in ½ inch pieces
½ cup white sugar
Juice from 1 lemon
1 cup flour
1 cup quick oats
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon 
½ teaspoon ginger 
¾ cup light brown sugar 
½ cup butter, softened, plus more for the pan
Vanilla ice cream for serving


In a bowl, toss the rhubarb with the white sugar and lemon juice. Set aside.


To prepare the crumble, in a bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Cut in half of the butter.


Rub the bottom of a metal cake pan with soft butter. Add the rhubarb. Top with the crumble.  Place on the grill at medium heat. Grill for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly. Serve with ice cream.



Grilled Rhubarb Crisp


Sunday, April 30, 2017

In Mint Condition... Celebrating the Kentucky Derby

The most exciting two minutes in sports is just days away. On Saturday, May 6, horseracing’s finest thoroughbreds will take their post positions during the 143rd Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.

Woodford Reserve is the official bourbon of the Kentucky Derby.



I had the pleasure of living in the Bluegrass State for 10 years, from middle school through college. This was when my love affair with the Derby began. 


As a horse-crazed tween, I soon learned that the Derby was about much more than just one, two-minute race. It’s an experience like no other with fancy hats and dresses, mouthwatering southern food, bouquets upon bouquets of red roses, and posh parties all playing an integral role.


   

Create a centerpiece by arranging red roses in a silver trophy bowl.



It was not until I was a freshman at Eastern Kentucky University when I was able to make my first visit to Louisville for Derby Day, which also happened to fall on my 19th birthday. 


Being my birthday, I was feeling very lucky, so I wagered all of my cash on a horse named Cousin Jen. Her performance yielded me $4.




Create wine stopper party favors by drilling holes in wine corks and then adding trophy toppers. Add a little epoxy to the holes before screwing in the toppers.



As it was a very warm day, it seemed only fitting to sample a refreshing Mint Julep. Having no prior experience in the bourbon department, I enthusiastically took a big gulp of my julep. Wrong move! 


I couldn’t seem to get the rest of it down the hatch, but I did take great comfort in knowing that I got to keep the cute souvenir glass it came in. Twenty some years later, my collection of Derby glasses has grown to 39, and my love for the Derby remains the same. Bourbon… not so much.



When planning your party menu, think southern. 


 
If you’re not able to make it to Louisville for the Derby, here are two essential recipes you will need to celebrate at home:


Woodford Reserve Classic Mint Julep
2 ounces Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon
½ ounce simple syrup
3 fresh mint leaves
Crushed ice

Express the essential oils in the mint and rub them inside the glass. 

To the same glass, add simple syrup, bourbon, and crushed ice. Stir. Garnish with more ice and fresh mint.
(Recipe from kentuckyderby.com)




Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie is a decadent Derby Day dessert.



Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie
Nothing says southern like bourbon and pecans. Throw in some chocolate and you’ve got a decadent dessert to take your party across the finish line.

Makes 6-8 servings
½ (14.1 ounce) package refrigerated pie crusts
1 ½ cups chopped toasted pecans
1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate morsels
1 cup dark corn syrup
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
¼ cup bourbon or water
4 large eggs
¼ cup butter, melted
2 teaspoons plain white cornmeal
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon table salt

Heat oven to 325 F. Fit pie crust into a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate according to package directions; fold edges under, and crimp. Sprinkle pecan and chocolate evenly onto bottom of pie crust.

Stir together corn syrup and next 3 ingredients in a large saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

Whisk together eggs and next 4 ingredients. Gradually whisk one-fourth of hot corn syrup mixture into egg mixture; add to remaining hot corn syrup mixture, whisking constantly. Pour filling into prepared pie crust.

Bake for 55 minutes or until set; cool pie completely on a wire rack for 1 hour.

(Recipe from southernliving.com)