TFF: Megan's Challenge, Quinoa Pilaf

It is time again for Megan's Challenge, our optional Tyler Florence Fridays recipe of the month, and I really, really pushed this one until the very end. This bowl is sitting on my counter right now, I haven't eaten it yet, just tasted.

I like quinoa but don't make it often as I'm the only one in the house who will eat it. So I was interested when I read Megan's selection for the month, but admit, I automatically decided I was removing the olives. I don't like olives. Or currents. Everything else I left the same, except I garnished with green onions (I didn't have any red on hand) instead of mint.

And I'm going to make one more change to it - I'm going to add in some crumpled feta cheese. My one taste found it needed something salty to replace the olives and to give it some umph and feta it will be.

I'm eating this for lunch today, which isn't that far away now, so I think I'll go add the feta in now, to give things time to mingle and meld together.

Btw, don't forget your congrats to Beth, last week's "winner" post, with her Roasted Tomatillo Salsa, who is featured on Tyler's blog.

Quinoa Pilaf
2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt and pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon preserved lemon rind, finely diced
1 tomato, finely chopped
1 (15-ounce) can artichoke hearts in water, drained and quartered
1/2 red onion, diced
(I didn't have any, used green onions, scallions, instead)
1/2 cup black olives, pitted
(left these out)
1/4 cup currants
(left these out)
Fresh mint leaves, for garnish
(I used more green onion)

In a small saucepan, combine broth, quinoa, bay leaf, turmeric, salt, pepper and olive oil in a saucepan. Stir in preserved lemon and cover. Simmer until water is absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes. Turn off heat. Add tomato, artichokes, onion, olives and currants, mix well to combine. Top with mint and serve.

At every wedding...

A little sun should shine.

Even if it is made of tissue paper and tape.

It was a lovely wedding, small but elegant, and a good start to the life of the newlyweds.

Guess which one I'm related to? (Hint - not the one who made this as their cake topper.)

If you said the guy with the hat, you are correct!

That's my cousin, affectionately known to his nieces as "Uncle Germ", and his lovely new wife. Instead of buying a card and putting in some money, or finding out what they'd registered for, my cousin and his lovely bride got a cake. A very big cake. With lots of chocolate involved.

This was my first wedding cake, so I admit I was nervous. The bride wanted chocolate icing and the outside to have a corrugated look to it, something I was not sure how to do. I consulted with a few baking friends, even checked with one of my favorite baking supply stores (who also make wedding cakes) and no one knew how to get the look the bride wanted. Then I came across some cookies and they give the cake the look she wanted. How luck was that?

My invitation to the wedding was yellow with white polka dots on it, and had white daisies on it, so that is the flower I chose for accenting the cake.

I'm sure some of my family members thought I would cringe at the site of all my hard work being cut up and placed out for people to help themselves to, but really, to me, that is one of the best things to see. It is very satisfying to see people enjoying my work, going back for a second piece, licking the icing off the spoon to get every last bit.

Lemon is one of my cousin's favorite flavors, so they had lemons throughout, decorating and accenting. I especially loved how all the place cards had a little bit of lemon trivia on the back of them. This one was especially appropriate to me.

Best wishes to the new bride and groom! May your life together be filled with happiness, your love for each other see you through the rough patches, and you always have lemons for lemonade.

Menu Plan Monday: Last minute decisions and farmers markets

It was a busy weekend, following a busy week, and I'm glad to be home. But that means that I did not plan out my menu plan well in advance. In fact, I finished writing it about 5 minutes ago. The upside to this is that I did not do my grocery shopping yet, so my menu plan was made keeping in mind what is in the freezer and pantry, knowing I will be picking up fresh fruits and veggies later today.

Sunday: Bacon, eggs and toast. I admit, usually when we come in from a trip on a Sunday night, I order in pizza or pick up hamburgers. This time, I picked up a carton of eggs, pulled bacon from the freezer, and we sat down and ate dinner as a family. Since my children had not been with us at the wedding this weekend, we had not sat down and eaten together in a few days. It was nice to reconnect that way.

And a dozen eggs is cheaper than burgers and fixins for four.

Monday: Hamburgers with salad. Homemade hamburgers.

Tuesday: Pork "Pernil" with cilantro-citrus adobo sauce. No idea for sides yet - whatever looks good in produce.

Wednesday: Pomegranate chicken legs with corn pudding.

Thursday: Spinach pasta ribbons with a choice of sauce: tomato for the hubby, alfredo for the rest of us.

Friday: My rescheduled birthday dinner is tonight (I'm going to Atelier, where the chef knows I'm coming with my camera.) I hope my husband remembered to reschedule his parents for babysitting (and if not - Hi C! Kids still okay to come over Friday evening?)

That seems like a good plan for the week, keeping in mind various activities throughout the week.

I'm itching to make it to a good farmer's market this week, thinking of going to the Ottawa Farmer's Market on Thursday afternoon (and again, Hi C! Want to come with me? I can pick you up on the way past.) I guess I'm spoiled for choice when it comes to farmer's markets around here. Most of them are Saturday and Sunday, but I still have alot of choices: Carp, Carleton Place, Byward, Parkdale, Ottawa Farmer's, North Gower....

While in North Bay this last weekend (the wedding was in Sudbury, but we spent some time in North Bay as well), I had a chance to go to the North Bay Farmer's Market. I was looking for flowers to be part of the wedding cake I was making for that afternoon.

As I said, I've been spoiled.

This farmer's market had about a dozen or so stalls - 3 of which involved baked goods, a majority of which had some sort of craft.

This is what I found for fresh produce:

There were one or two that had non-baked edible items, such as this stall for maple items. I stopped here with my mother while she made her purchase and I took snapshots of a few items.

I love the pretty packaging.

I never did get any flowers at the market, there were really none to be had, but at least my Mom came away happy.

Come back later today to see the pictures of the wedding cake I made, as I did end up finding the flowers I needed somewhere else.

Oh and don't forget to go see Menu Plan Monday for more menu plan ideas.

What do you get....

When you combine 4 pounds of butter, 1 pound of shortening, a dozen eggs, half a pound of chocolate, alot of flour, cocoa and icing sugar, plus ten boxes of Cadbury Milk Chocolate Fingers?

My cousin's wedding cake, that's what!

The wedding is tomorrow, which means no pictures for you yet, but I'll be back to my blog and computer in a few days and will put up some pictures then.

Have a nice weekend!

TTF: Chili, anyone?

I have several other Tyler selections available to me right now, but this is what suits my week right now. It seems likely that I have not broken my big toe, just hurt it badly, but it still means I have been limping as I move around, not moving very fast, and experiencing pain, so simple and easy is what I need for meals.

I'm not on Twitter, but I know that Tyler Twittered about this recipe for Chili dogs very recently. And while we like chili around here, what we like tends to be a chili made with chunks of beef, not something you want to slather on on a hot dog. Still, it looked like something easy to make and that might work. If nothing else, the boys would eat the hot dogs.

I skipped cooking the hot dogs with the bay leaf and thyme and garlic, choosing instead to just grill them. I also did not put any oil on the buns before toasting them and don't find it necessary to get a good toasting. And I did not make coleslaw to put on the dogs, going instead with cheese, cause cheese is a good topping for chili and a good topping for hot dogs.

I ended up being the only one to eat this, no one else was interested. And, sorry Tyler, it wasn't my favorite of recipes. It was okay, but since the chili consisted of ground beef, ketchup, mustard and chili powder, what I tasted was ketchup with ground beef in it.

Would I make this again? Maybe, but only if I had people over to feed that I knew would enjoy a basic chili. And I'd increase the chili powder, and maybe find something else to go in there to counter the ketchup and its sweetness.

Oh well, not every recipe can be a winner to everybody. With that said, this is still my submission for this week's Tyler Florence Fridays. Last week's selection to appear on Tyler's blog was Heather, from Girlchef, with her very pretty Roasted Chicken with Wilted Butter Lettuce and Peas. Congrats heather!

Menu Plan Monday: Sorry, I'm late

It's a good thing I'm late, actually. If I had posted on Sunday what I'd planned for the week, I'd just be here changing things anyways. That's why pencil is a good thing to use when writing down a menu plan.

My initial plan was very short. Until yesterday, it didn't need to be long - I was leaving town overnight Wednesday to Thursday, and then leaving with my hubby Friday to Sunday, with the kids getting grandparent time, so we weren't going to be here to eat. Things have changed slightly, we still won't be home Friday to Sunday, but my solo trip has been postponed until next week.

In addition to the changes of plan, there has also been a small change in circumstances: I tested for my yellow stripe in tkd on Sunday, and while doing so, broke my big toe. Toe breaks are a bit tricky. This one didn't seem more than slightly sore while I was in my test, and I had no problems continuing and doing my board break. By Sunday evening, my toe was sore and developing a bruise. By Monday, it was very big, very purple in several spots, and throbbing. Broken. Not a huge deal (other than for the shoes I bought for a wedding this weekend), but it means I'm having a few standing issues, and frankly, not really feeling great so not really wanting to eat. Bleh.

The family must be fed, however, so here we go:

Sunday: Bowtie pasta with meat sauce (the sauce made from some hot Italian sausages, yum.)

Monday: Pork tenderloin, rubbed with a fennel salt mixture, and mixed veggies.

Tuesday: I don't know yet. My initial plan involved sandwiches, but that will depend on how I feel later. Maybe nachos. We like nachos.

Wednesday: Pot roast with mashed potatoes and carrots.

Thursday: Pancakes. I do not need left overs here.

Friday: At my mother's house, so I will cook whatever I find in her freezer. Unless she cooks.

Saturday: My cousin's wedding. I'm making the cake.

That's it for me for this week. Not exciting, I know. You will probably find alot more exciting plans at Menu Plan Monday over at Go look.

And for those of you curious, here is a fun little video taken by my 6 year old, sideways, of my board break. I have not been able to turn it so you can see it upright, but you get the point.

Tyler Florence Fridays: Quick but tasty salad

A quicky this week, I've got lots to do, so I'm squeezing in my submission for Tyler Florence Fridays this week. Be sure to check out last week's winner, Michelle of Big Black Dog and see her lovely and creamy Strawberry Lemon Pudding. You can also see her post on Tyler's blog. Congrats Michelle!

Okay, my salad. This is a variation on Tyler's Grilled Steak Salad with Texas Peaches, Pecans and Limes. See any pecans in there? Well, that's cause there aren't any. I'm not a big fan of pecans, so I subbed my pecans for goat cheese. And trust me, that sub works just fine!

I also changed things a bit by not making my own chili powder but using some I had on hand, along with a bit of extra cumin. And I added some lime juice and honey to the olive oil before I drizzled it on the salad.

Yes, I deviated quite a bit from Tyler's actual recipe, but that's okay, I'm sure Tyler of all people would be okay with that. Especially since it was tasty and enjoyed by all. My children loved having peaches and goat cheese on their salad, my husband liked that I did not put goat cheese on his.

For those of you who want to try the original recipe, here it is:

Grilled Steak Salad with Texas Peaches, Pecan and Limes
by Tyler Florence, as found on FoodNetwork

4 pounds skirt steak, trimmed of excess fat
1 recipe Ancho Chili Powder, recipe follows
Extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 ripe yet firm peaches, halved and pitted
3 limes, cut into 1/4-inch slices
4 cups micro greens or baby mixed greens
1 cup toasted pecans

Lay the steak out on a large platter or piece of plastic wrap and rub both sides with the Ancho Chili Powder. Marinate for 1 hour so the flavors can penetrate the meat.

In the meantime, place a large grill pan on 2 burners over medium-high heat or preheat an outdoor gas or charcoal barbecue and get it very hot. Brush the grates with oil to keep food from sticking. Rub the peaches with oil and season with salt and pepper. Put the peaches cut-side down on the grill and cook for 5 to 8 minutes, until the flesh softens slightly and caramelizes. Turn them over with tongs and grill the other side for 3 minutes to char the skin; remove to a platter. Grill the lime slices for 2 minutes each side until slightly charred.

Scrape off the excess chili powder on the surface of the steak so it doesn't burn on the grill. Rub the steak with oil and season both sides with of salt and pepper. Grill the steak on the hottest part of the barbecue for 4 minutes per side, until well charred. Transfer the steak to a cutting board and let stand for 5 minutes. Cut the meat across the grain on the diagonal.

To serve: put the greens on a platter and arrange the peach halves, lime slices, and steak on top. Sprinkle with the pecans and drizzle the salad with the olive oil.

Ancho Chili Powder:

3 ancho chiles, seeded and hand-torn into pieces
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon sugar

This homemade chili powder will add a smoky depth to chili and as a dry rub for steaks. Toast the ancho chile pieces over low heat in a dry skillet until fragrant, shaking the pan so they don't scorch. Put the chiles in a mini food processor and pulse to a powder. Add the remaining ingredients and buzz again to combine.

Montly Mingle Round Up: Let the Fiesta begin!

What a great Mingle this has been! So much wonderful food to share with everyone.

So grab your sombrero, make yourself a margarita, and let's get eat!

Let's start with Megan's dish, for Rivera's Chipotle Chicken Enchiladas, featured on her site Feasting on Art.

Friends and family are able to keep Megan supplied with canned chipotle's so she is able to spice up this lovely dish. For those leery of the heat, sour cream is a must!

You can find Megan's post here.

Next up, a friend of mine who doesn't normally get involved in food posts (though he talks about food with me alot - apparently I make him hungry alot.)

Ktorrek broke into the foodie world with a step by step on how to make his version of a Barbacoa, using his slow cooker. This spicy, shredded beef is a work in progress for him, and has lead to the two of us browsing the online spice merchants for large amounts of cumin (and my trying to find chipotles in adobo somewhere around here, with no luck so far.)

You can find his post here.

If you like hot salsa, then check out this salsa made by Nupur from One Hot Stove, Chili de Arbol Salsa.

This salsa came about as a result of finding a hot and tasty salsa at a local restaurant, and then using the old trial and error method of making it at home. The color was not what Nupur wanted, but the flavor came pretty close.

Frankly, as a liker of mild, cilantro fresh salsas, this salsa scares me, but I am betting my husband would love, love, love it! If I ever come across that wall of dried chilis you were talking about, Nupur, I will have to grab some of these and make some for my hubby.

Next up, we have something a bit less spicy, but I doubt less flavorful, not with all that lovely green color that you get from the spinach and the cilantro.

This Mexican Green Rice comes to us courtesy of Faiza Ali's kitchen, all the way from the United Kingdom.

You can find the recipe for this lovely green rice here.

Soup anyone?

That's what Rara Avis, from Soulful Creations, brings to the Mingle, a black bean soup. I'm new to black beans, so I may have to make up a small batch of this and give it a try. Beans are so good for you, and so inexpensive, that having a good soup in my recipe rotation can't possibly be a bad idea.

You can find the recipe for the soup here.

Next up, Emma brings us a fabulous side of rice to go along with her own Mexican Fiesta (does that meal not look fabulous and make you want to dine Al Fresco tonight?)

The recipe for this side can be found at Food o'del Mundo, along with great step by step photos on how to make this rice.

Hey, Emma, what's everyone drinking with this feast?

Enchiladas are one of my favorite types of Mexican fare, so I was thrilled to see this entry from Supriya for Veggie Enchiladas.

I agree, enchiladas do take more time than a basic quesadillas, but are so worth the effort. And it sounds like Supriya's family agreed, these enchiladas look good and probably taste great as well.

You can find the recipe for these at Queen of My Kitchen.

Not to knock quesadillas when I say I love enchiladas, sometimes a simple quesadilas is just what my family needs for dinner, so this recipe for Chole Quesadillas will come in handy! And it is fusion cooking, combining an Indian chickpea curry with the Mexican quesadillas. What a great idea!

Suparna, I tip my sombrero to you, for coming up with such a unique combination for the Fiesta!

You can find her recipe on her blog, Mirch Masala.

Getting full yet? No? That's good, because there is lots more goodies to come.

Mermaid joins us in her first every blog event, bringing Mexican stuffed baked potatoes to the party. Welcome Mermaid, so glad you could join us!

Baked potatoes are such a versatile vehicle for so many flavors, so I can see how adding in Mexican flavor and beans could make this a meal in itself.

You can find the full recipe for this one dish meal at Naki Kate. Be sure to drop Mermaid a comment when you visit, encourage her to join in on more blog events!

I need a sweet break, so let's take a look at one of the desserts that made their way to the Mingle: Capirotada, a Mexican Bread Pudding.

Using a sugar syrup rather than a custard, and with the addition of cheese to the mixture, this bread pudding looks like a great way to use up stale bread. I know I'd eat it.

Thanks to Curry Leaf, over at Experiments, Emotions, Experiences with food, for this wonderful dessert.

Now that I've had a bit of dessert, I'm ready for some more yummy Mexican inspired dishes, including this dish from Shri, a Classical Mexican Rice, based on a rice recipe from Rick Bayless.

(Did I mention I passed up a chance to buy Rick Bayless' book at a flea market sale one day? I've been trying to use the books I have, so walked away and have been regretting it every since!)

Sorry, side tracked there.... Shri's rice looks so fluffy and flavorful, and lime juice can only have made it taste better. What can I say, I like lime.

You can find the recipe for this classic rice at Tasty Touch.

New mom Johanna at Green Gourmet Giraffe rarely has time for more than a quick bite, not with a baby to feed first thing in the morning, but still made the time to make these healthy and filling breakfast burritos. Not for breakfast, but who says breakfast type dishes have to always be for breakfast? Not me!

Filled with potatoes and a tofu-scramble, these sure beat a fat ladden burrito for nutrition, and probably taste much better too!

Thanks for taking the time to join the Fiesta Johanna!

By far the most colorful dish on the menu for our Fiesta are these wildly vibrant Beet Chalupas from Yasmeen at Health Nut.

I admit, I don't think I've ever had a Chalupas, but I'm interested now! Look at the color on these. Including the beet greens as one of the toppings for the chalupas just brings everything together.

If you visit Yasmeen, not only will you find the recipe for making these Chalupas, you'll also find a recipe for a Roasted Hot Pepper Cilantro Salsa. You can find both recipes here.

Fellow Tyler Florence Friday blogger Joanne bring us our only fish entry for this Mingle, a Seared Flounder with Zucchini and Toasty Garlic Mojo. (See? There is Rick Bayless' book again! I think I need to go back to the Flea Market and see if it is still there. Maybe someone else was as dumb as I was and its still there. I know, unlikely.)

This fabulous dish a great way to use up some of that fresh zucchini crop you have piling up. Made for two, remember, garlic cancels garlic, so don't be afraid to make this for a special date night.

You can find Joanne and her recipe at Eats Well With Others.

Smitha took advantage of a pile of July 4th left overs to make us some Mexican Fiesta Chutney Quesadillas.

Corn tortillas filled with beans and cheese, along with a choice of chutneys, these babies could easily have been served to her crowd of friends, vegetarian and non-vegetarian alike.

You can find the recipe for these Quesadillas here, at Kannada Cuisine.

Jelly brings us a Mexican dish from Italy, Tortillas "Fai Da Te", or "DYI" Tortillas.

I can't read Italian, so I'm so glad that Jelly gave an English translation to these Tortillas (but I admit, the recipe is so pretty to "read" in Italian.)

You can find the recipes, in English and Italian, for Jelly's Tortillas here, at Fragole & Cioccolato.

I'm running out of room but still have room to try a few more things!

How about this fabulous looking dessert, a Mango Flan, brought to us by Arjun and Soma at eCurry.

Would you believe, looking at this picture, that this flan was made in a pressure cooker? Poor Arjun, poor Soma, no working oven right, now, but my hats off to you for making this in a pressure cooker. I would not have believed you could do that, but I am a believer now.

I hope your oven is better soon!

The Monthly Mingle would not be the same without the wondeful lady that is Meeta. Her pictures and recipes are great, sure, but it the lovely lady herself that brings it all together.

This Mingle would not have been complete without an entry from Meeta, so I'm thrilled to say she was able to squeeze in time to make us some Black Bean and Goat Cheese Quesadillas. Made to feed a crowd of hungry boys (boy, do I know about those!), the boys used their hands to eat their way through ingredients and flavors their mothers swore they did not eat.

I don't think I'd have thought to mix black beans with goat cheese, so I'm glad Meeta did. I think I'll throw a couple of cans of beans in my pantry, and the next time my boys come through with friends taging along behind, looking for a snack, I'll be ready for them!

Many thanks to all the wondeful bloggers who joined me in celebration of a Mexican Fiesta! Ole to you all, I hope you had a great time.

Now, on to the dishes....

Munching through the Fiesta

When most people think of Mexican, they think tacos, enchiladas, nachos.... Your traditional Tex-Mex type fare. I've nothing against those types of meals, I love all of them.

But since I'm hosting the Monthly Mingle, and I picked the theme, I wanted something a bit different.

And since I completely forgot that I owned a Mexican cookbook, I went searching the internet for something different.

Introducing Mexican Chicken Wings.

Don't let the picture fool you. It isn't a big, lumpy mass of something, but a pile of chicken wings ready to be shared. Simple to make, with room for personalization, and good for a large gathering.

I found the original recipe here, and went on from it as my inspiration. I made 3 pounds, not 1. I hand crushed my tortillas to give them more texture and crunch. I increased the cumin and only used enough oil to let everything come together. And I "marinated" the wings in the oil and spices for a good hour before I tossed them in the tortillas and baked them.

These were enjoyed by everyone who ate them, with kids asking for more and the adults trying to behave themselves by not pigging out on them.

I served these along side the couscous salad I mentioned a few days ago, and it was a great combination.

Menu Plan Monday: Last day to submit your Monthly Mingle Fiesta dish

Another week of summer gone, and we've had more rain again. Not only is it really depressing, it is also totally ruining my usual summer menu choices. Who wants to eat salads and lighter dishes all the time when it is cold and dark and drizzly out?

Take last night, for example. I didn't make my grilled steak and peach salad on Friday as I'd planned last week, but instead made them last night for dinner. It was a lovely salad, hearty enough to be dinner, but light and full of flavors. We sat together as a family to enjoy our salads, but not outside in the sun on our deck. Instead we sat inside at the kitchen table, while the sky was dark and the rain kept coming down. I don't know about everyone else, but I find it depressing to eat salad in the dark of a rain storm. Rain storms call for comfort foods, like Mac & Cheese or something.

So if some things seem out of place on my menu plan for this week, not very summer like, the rain has gotten to me.

Be sure to check out all the other menu plans at Menu Plan Monday.

Sunday: Grilled Steak, Peach and Lime salad. This was supposed to be Friday's dinner, but neither the hubby or I felt like eating that night, so the kids wolfed down hamburgers and hot dogs while running through the mazes at Saunder's Farm that night, for their first ever Mazes in the Dark event. (I was with the boys, and those mazes are alot of fun in the dark, and even the simple ones, like the Spiral maze, seem completely different in the dark.)

Monday: Sheppard's pie. My oldest has asked to learn how to make this, so here is his chance.

Tuesday: Chili dogs with fries and coleslaw.

Wednesday: Something with shrimp. Not only is it on sale this week, my youngest has begged me to make something with shrimp for him. I just don't know what yet.

Thursday: Chicken with POM glaze.

Friday: I'm keeping this open, as well as Saturday. Saturday is my birthday and my hubby is going to take me out for dinner, however I'm still working on who all is coming and have not yet made reservations.

Don't forget to get your Monthly Mingle entry to me by the end of day today (your day, my day, whichever is fine with me). It is a Mexican Fiesta, but you are welcome to make a main dish, or a drink. Or a dessert. Or a side. Anything at all really! Just be sure to post about your selection and then send me an email at allthingsedible (at) gmail (dot) com with the subject line Monthly Mingle.

And stay tuned later today for my main dish choice for this mingle. The pictures aren't amazing but it was yummy!

TFF: A sweet little dessert

Before I get into my selection for this week's Tyler Florence Friday, did you see who "won" last week and was featured on Tyler's very own blog? It was me!!!

Thank you, thank you, thank you! I could not have done it without Tyler's lovely recipe, some good shrimp, and most of all, my family! I love you all! Hehehehe (Is that really how award speeches go? I never watch awards, so I was being silly in winging it, so seriously? Is that really the kind of thing people say when they receive an award?)

Okay that was fun, now back to the seriously stuff: dessert!

How about Tyler's Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Bars? While blueberries aren't quite in season yet, they freeze fabulously, so good berries are always available to make this tasty little bar. Okay, it is really a cheesecake baked square and cut into bars, but it's still tasty!

The only change I made was to use lower fat cheesecake instead of a full fat (I think I've said before that I like the extra tang you get from the lower fat version). Otherwise I followed it faithfully. I even cut it into the recommended number of bars. I didn't cut it evenly or well, but I did get the same number of pieces that Tyler told me I would.

Be sure to head over and check out some of the recipes Tyler has posted on his blog. There is quite the selection available.

Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Bars
by Tyler Florence, as found on Food Network

For the base:
Butter, for greasing
2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
9 graham crackers
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:
16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 eggs
2 lemons, zested and juiced
About 1/2 cup sugar, eyeball it
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
Powdered sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

For the base:

Grease the bottom of a 9 by 9-inch baking pan with butter. Then place parchment paper over the top, pressing down at the corners. In a food processor, process the sugar, cinnamon and graham crackers until you have the texture of bread crumbs. Add the melted butter and pulse a couple of times to fully incorporate. Pour into the lined baking pan and gently pat down with the base of a glass. Bake in the oven for 12 minutes until golden. When done set aside to cool.

For the filling:

Add cream cheese, eggs, lemon zest, lemon juice and sugar to the food processor and mix until well combined. It should have a smooth consistency. Pour onto the cooled base and then cover with blueberries. They will sink slightly but should still be half exposed -- as the cake bakes they will sink a little more and break down.

Bake in the oven for 35 minutes or until the center only slightly jiggles. Remove from the oven and cool completely before refrigerating for at least 3 hours. Once set, remove from pan using the parchment lining and slice into 10 rectangular bars. Dust with powdered sugar.

Let's get this Fiesta started!

Since I'm the host of this month's Monthly Mingle, the Mexican Fiesta, it seems only fair that I kick things off before our July 13th finale date.

So pull up a seat and enjoy some of this lovely Mexican inspired salad that I threw together for Canada Day last week. It has an very non-Mexican base, Israeli Couscous. Interesting way to start my Fiesta, isn't it?

Don't be fooled by the couscous though. This bowl of yummy is full of flavor: lime zest and juice, cilantro, cumin, and a touch of Ancho chili powder. Along with some deliciously flavored pieces of roasted sweet potato, green onion and some red pepper.

This make ahead, healthy salad is a great side dish. Served cold, and best after resting in the fridge for a few hours, it frees up some of the cooks time at dinner, with no last minute fussing or prepping needed. It was very well suited with my main Mexican dish (which I will reveal closer to the 13th), and was well received by everyone but the children. Fortunately, that night, six adults outvoted four children, so I call it a success!

I can't really include a recipe as I didn't follow one or write one down. I simply threw together a few things that I had on hand, tasted it, added abit more cumin, then left to do Canada Day type things with family and friends.

Hopefully my little salad has provided a bit of inspiration to those of you out there who were on the edge, thinking of joining in on the Mingle, but unsure. "Come on in, the water's great!" as the saying goes. Everyone is welcome!

Just be sure to send me your recipe link before July 13th, then I will be able to include you in the round up. The address is allthingsedible (at) gmail (dot) com.

Can't wait to see what everyone brings!

Happy 37th Birthday to Peabody

If you are a food blogger, you aren't asking who Peabody is right now. You know. You've been to her site and drooled over the pictures. You learned very quickly to not be eating or drinking while reading her posts, unless you like cleaning things up or are interested in buying a new computer.

How about if you aren't a food blogger? Well, have you ever heard of Refund Muffins? Those are Peabody's muffins.

What? You've never heard of Refund Muffins?

Oh my goodness. (Quick, follow the link and go read about them! Remember the warning about food or drink while reading her blog.)

Better now? Good.

Well, last week (yes, I know I'm late,) was Peabody's 37th birthday, which Elle proposed we help her celebrate in true food blogging fashion - by cooking for her! The twist was that we were to cook a recipe of Peabody's, from her blog.

Sure, I could have made Refund Muffins. It would likely have made my kids happy, but I wanted something different, something summery, even if we aren't really experiencing summer conditions. I wanted ice cream.

To heck with the lack of summer, I made ice cream, and really good ice cream. Homemade ice cream that made use of a local fruit and was still smooth and creamy and fabulous 4 days after I froze it (we got side tracked by other events and desserts, how else would ice cream stay in my freezer for so long?)

Raspberry Honey Ice Cream

by Peabody

1 quart raspberries
1/3 cup raspberry honey(or any honey will do, I use a regular honey)
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup half and half (I didn't have any, so used half regular milk and half heavy cream in its place)
1 tsp lemon juice
1- 1 ½ cups sugar(depending on how sweet your berries are)
3 egg yolks
¼ tsp salt

Add the yolks,sugar and honey to a medium-size bowl. Whisk together and then set aside.
Using a double boiler over medium-low heat, add the half and half, cream, raspberries and salt. Regularly whisk the mixture, heating until the temperature reaches approximately 145F. The mixture should begin to turn purple.
Once the cream mixture has reached the desired temperature, slowly add about half of the mixture to the eggs and sugar while whisking vigorously. This will prevent the eggs from curdling. Once the eggs and cream have been thoroughly integrated, pour back the egg mix into the remaining cream.
Whisk constantly and slowly as the mix rises in temperature. Once the temperature has reached 165-170F — or when the mix evenly coats th

e back of a spoon — remove from heat and add the lime juice and vanilla. Whisk them in completely and run through a sieve to remove any raspberries seeds. Move to a new container to cool. The mix can be placed in the freezer for 2 to 3 hours or, preferably, into the refrigerator overnight.
Churn according to your ice cream maker’s instructions. After churning, place in freezer to firm up. I recommend placing a seal of plastic wrap tight against the ice cream after making it to prevent a skin from forming on the ice cream’s surface. Serve once firm enough.

While Peabody's variation for serving this ice cream, in a cream soda float, sounded amazing, I made mine a bit more grown up and served it on slices of grilled lemon yogurt cake instead. It made a lovely dessert, simple and elegant, out of what was basically cake and ice cream. Cause you can't have a birthday without cake and ice cream, can you?

Happy Birthday Peabody! I hope 37 is everything you hoped it would be!

Menu Plan Monday: Still tweeking it

Is it really Monday already? Wow, that weekend was fast. We didn't really do anything or go anywhere, but wow, is it really Monday already?

I'm making a plan for this week, but I'm staying very flexible with it. Just in case. A menu plan can be a great stress reliever, knowing in advance what you need to take out and defrost, pick up at the store, and plan ahead for. But it can also cause alot of stress if you are locked into it, refusing to make anything else because that is what is written on your plan.

Have I ever mentioned I write my plan in pencil?

I've sort of written this one, just broke my pencil doing it actually, but like I said, I'm being flexible. Because you never know when you will need to change things up or scrap them entirely.

(And don't forget to go check out Menu Plan Monday, hosted by I'm an Organizing Junkie, for more menu ideas. I got a lovely muffin recipe from another blogger who menu plans just last week. Think I'll go have one of those muffins now, while I still have any left.)

Sunday: Butter chicken with rice, Naan bread, asparagus and carrots. An old favorite.

Monday: No idea yet. Seriously. If I can't figure something out this morning, without having to run to a store, we are having penee pasta with tomatoes, garlic and chili's.

Tuesday: By hubby request, chili.

Wednesday: Sandwich bar with fruit salad. Because we will all be eating at different times.

Thursday: Stuffed baked potatoes with sausages.

Friday: Grilled steak and peach salad.

Don't forget, you still have time to join me in this month's Monthly Mingle, the Mexican Fiesta! You can read all about how to join here, then head off to cook something fabulous for this event. Everyone is welcome, blogger or not, and I'm really looking forward to seeing what everyone has for the party.

Btw, need to do a "toot my own horn" announcement and invite you all to head over to Tyler Florence's blog today to see my very own post, chosen as last week's pick for Tyler Florence Fridays. I was so excited, so excited! (And I admit, seeing it makes me want to make more shrimp too.) ** NOTE ** As of 10:52 am EST, it isn't up yet, but I'm sure it will be today.