Sunday, August 31, 2008

Tuxedo Cake

Mmm . . . this is an awesome cake! It is from The Pastry Queen (Rebecca Rather in Fredericksburg, Texas). We visited her bakery-cafe when our friends Matthew and Gretchen got married. I thought this Tuxedo Cake would be a perfect treat for our third anniversary - and it was! Ken loved it (and so did I)!

Although it does require a little advance planning (mostly to cool before and between frosting), it is really pretty simple to make. And the results are definitely worth all the work and dirty dishes.

Tuxedo Cake
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups water
1 cup canola oil
4 cups sugar
1 cup [high quality] unsweetened cocoa powder
4 cups flour
4 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 tbsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. vanilla

Whipped Cream Frosting
4 cups heavy whipping cream, well chilled
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar

Chocolate Glaze
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup Lyle's Golden Syrup
2 tsp. vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of three 9-inch or two 10-inch cake pans with parchment paper, grease with butter and dust with flour (or spray with Baker's Joy).
2. Combine butter, water, and canola oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, stir together sugar, cocoa, and flour. When butter has melted, pour the butter mixture over the sugar mixture; whisk until smooth. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, then whisk in buttermilk. Whisk in baking soda, salt, and vanilla all at once. Transfer batter to prepared pans.
3. Stagger cake pans in the oven so that no layer is directly over another.
Bake 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Layers may be done at different times; monitor carefully.
4. Remove cakes from oven, cool about 15 minutes before inverting on to baking racks. Cool the cakes completely, at least 2 hours, before frosting (I cooled the cakes overnight in the refrigerator, in the cake pans).
5. For frosting: Using a mixer with the whisk attachment, whip cream on high speed until soft peaks form. Add powdered sugar and whip until thoroughly combined. On a platter, frost first layer of cake, add and frost second layer (repeat with third, if applicable), then frost sides. Refrigerate at least 1 hour to allow whipped cream frosting to stabilize.
6. For glaze: Place chocolate in a medium bowl. Heat cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until it is very hot and just beginning to steam. Pour hot cream over the chocolate; stir until chocolate has completely melted. Stir in syrup and vanilla. Allow glaze to cool for 10 minutes (not longer, as it will become too stiff to pour). Slowly pour glaze over cake, making sure to cover top of cake completely.
7. Refrigerate the cake until the glaze is set and the whipped cream frosting is firm, at least 1 hour. Slice cake with a long knife, dipping in hot water between each slice. Cake will keep 2-3 days in refrigerator.
- Recipe from The Pastry Queen

Notes: This recipe made enough for 3 layers of cake (I froze the third) and 12 cupcakes. I also had WAY too much whipped cream frosting (but I only frosted 2 layers and 4 cupcakes).

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Sneak Preview

Barefoot Bloggers: Butterflied Chicken

The second August Barefoot Bloggers recipe was Butterflied Chicken, chosen by Stephany of Proceed with Caution. I had to make some modifications . . . the original recipe (below) calls for grilling the chicken, but since we were having monsoon-like rain, grilling wasn't an option. So I decided to roast it in the oven, and also decided not to debone the chicken.

Ina Garten's Butterflied Chicken
1/4 cup chopped fresh rosemary leaves, plus 2 sprigs
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
Good olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 roasting chickens (2 1/2 to 3 pounds each), deboned and butterflied
(or 1 chicken - about 4.5 lbs. - butterflied but not deboned)
1/2 lemon, thinly sliced

Mix the chopped rosemary, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper together in a small bowl to make a paste.

Place the chickens on a sheet pan, skin side up, and loosen the skin from the meat with your fingers. Place 1/2 of the paste under the skin of each chicken. Rub any remaining paste on the outside and underside of the chickens.

Turn the chicken skin side down and scatter the lemon slices and sprigs of rosemary over each chicken. Season with salt and pepper.

I followed the recipe up to this point (see below for my alternate cooking method).

Roll each chicken up, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Heat a grill with coals. Spread the coals out in 1 dense layer and brush the grill with oil. Unroll the chickens, place them on the grill and cook for 12 minutes on each side.

My method: Instead of proceeding as directed, I put the chicken in a roasting pan, skin side up, baked it at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, then 325 degrees for about 40 minutes. I made sure it reached at least 165 degrees internally.

I was happy with the end result - the chicken was seasoned well, slightly crispy on the outside and moist inside. I'm sure it would have been equally good on the grill!

(Recipe courtesy of Ina Garten/

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Quick Fixes

It's not always possible to spend hours (or even one hour) in the kitchen on summer evenings . . . but you can still have a good meal! Here are two of our most recent quick dinners:

1) Kabobs

What makes these kabobs special? We used pre-seasoned skewers, which are awesome! I found them at Main Street Kitchen in Hannibal (check in your favorite kitchen store or upscale grocery store). The kabobs above are on the honey bourbon flavored skewer. I would not recommend placing tomatoes on honey bourbon skewers - it resulted in a . . . weird taste. The skewers are especially good for chicken and shrimp, which usually need a little more flavor boost than beef (in my opinion).

I didn't use the seasoned skewer for the bread (if I had used the garlic herb flavor, I would have!) . . . if you have never put bread on a kabob - try it! To make the bread kabob, I cut baguette slices in half, brushed them with olive oil, and sprinkled a little sea salt on them. We placed them directly on top of the meat skewers for the last 4-5 minutes of cooking (which as you can tell, was a few minutes too long in this case!). Yummmmm!

2) Skirt steak with crispy garlic potatoes & asparagus

Skirt steak & garlic potatoes
2 garlic cloves
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound red new potatoes, sliced 1 inch thick
12-14 oz.skirt steak, cut into 2 equal pieces

1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Finely chop garlic, and sprinkle with salt. Using a chef's knife, press flat side of blade back and forth across garlic to make a paste. Transfer to a small bowl; stir in thyme and 1 tablespoon oil. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss potatoes with garlic mixture; bake until browned on underside, 20 to 25 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet or grill pan over high. Season steaks with salt and pepper, and cook until medium, 4 to 6 minutes per side (depending on thickness of steak). Transfer to a plate to rest (allow ~10 minutes before serving).
- Adapted from Everyday Food

For asparagus:
Wash asparagus; snap off ends. Place on foil-lined baking sheet; toss with 1-2 tbsp. olive oil (depending on how much asparagus you use). Sprinkle with coarse salt. Add to 450-475 degree oven for 5-6 minutes (my asparagus was thin - it came out perfectly tender, yet crisp, after 5 minutes). Optional: add freshly-grated Parmesan cheese. I love freshly-grated Parmesan and added it to the potatoes as well . . .

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Garden Surplus Pasta

I think I flagged this recipe the moment I saw it in the July issue of Gourmet magazine. Not only was it a good way to use corn and zucchini from the garden, but you also top it with bacon and cheese - what's not to love about that?

Zucchini, Corn, and Basil Pasta with Bacon
6 bacon slices
1 pound pasta (*see note)
3 ears corn, kernels cut from cob
1 1/2 pounds zucchini, coarsely chopped (1/2-inch pieces)
1 (5- to 7-ounce) container basil pesto (or homemade pesto)
grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Cook bacon in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, turning occasionally, until crisp. Drain on paper towels; discard drippings from skillet.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in a pot of boiling salted water (3 tablespoons salt for 6 quart water) until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta-cooking water, then add vegetables to pasta in pot and cook, partially covered, 2 minutes (water will stop boiling). Drain.

Add pasta with vegetables to skillet along with pesto and 1/4 cup reserved cooking water and toss. Season with salt and moisten with additional cooking water if necessary.

Top with crumbled bacon, grated cheese, and freshly ground pepper.

Note: The original recipe calls for fusilli pasta . . . I used linguine, which worked okay - but next time I make it I will probably use fusilli, ziti, or even plain old macaroni. The long, slender noodles didn't work very well with the big pieces of zucchini and the small pieces of corn.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Easy Peach Cobbler

Fresh local peaches + a little sugar, flour, butter, and milk = VERY tasty!

I took this when we went to eat lunch with my in-laws, so I didn't get a picture of the individual portions - although I'm sure it would have looked better that way! Regardless of how it looks, this recipe is a great way to use up some fresh peaches!

Paula Deen's Peach Cobbler

4 cups peeled, sliced peaches
2 cups sugar, divided
1/2 cup water (may need to be reduced if peaches are very ripe and juicy)
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 1/2 cups milk
Ground cinnamon, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine the peaches, 1 cup sugar, and water in a saucepan and mix well. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Put the butter in a 3-quart baking dish and place in oven to melt.

Mix remaining 1 cup sugar, flour, and milk slowly to prevent clumping. Pour mixture over melted butter. Do not stir. Spoon fruit on top, gently pouring in syrup. Sprinkle top with ground cinnamon, if using. Batter will rise to top during baking. (Dumping the peaches on top of the batter doesn't seem like a great idea - but it really did work!) Bake for 30 to 45 minutes.

Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Barefoot Bloggers: Panzanella

For the first August Barefoot Bloggers recipe, Melissa, of It's Melissa's Kitchen, chose panzanella. Early August is a perfect time to make panzanella because of the abundance of ripe tomatoes, cucumbers, and basil.

I halved the recipe (approximately) and had panzanella for dinner. Although it was my main dish, this would also be an excellent side dish (especially for those whose husband believes that meat is the only acceptable choice for a main dish). I'm so glad I decided to participate in Barefoot Bloggers . . . I may have overlooked this delicious recipe if not for Barefoot Bloggers!

3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 small French bread loaf or boule, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large, ripe tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 red onion, cut in 1/2 and thinly sliced (I omitted the onion)
20 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons capers, drained

For the vinaigrette:
1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
1/2 cup good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a large saute pan. Add the bread and salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 10 minutes, or until nicely browned. Add more oil as needed.

For the vinaigrette, whisk all the ingredients together.

In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, red onion, basil, and capers. Add the bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette. Season liberally with salt and pepper (I think this [salt] is one of the reasons the panzanella is so delicious). Serve, or allow the salad to sit for about half an hour for the flavors to blend.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Please accept my apologies in advance - this is a long post!

I have tons of recipes flagged in cookbooks and magazines . . . a few months ago I decided to make a "priority" list of recipes I want to try. This is my 101st post, which seemed like a good opportunity to share the list of my top 101 recipes/items to make. I'm sharing this with you for two reasons:

1) to get feedback on my recipe "wishlist" - especially in the "misc. items" category - if you have a great recipe for any of these items, I would be grateful if you would share it; and
2) to help me stay organized - it is easier for me to find this list on my blog than it would be if I printed it out and filed it somewhere.
101 Things to Make:

Recipes from The Pastry Queen

1. Hill Country Peach Cobbler
2. Apple Smoked Bacon & Cheddar Scones
3. Peach Kolaches
4. Tuxedo Cake 8/27/08
5. Texas Pecan Pie Bars
6. Apple-Almond Chicken Salad with homemade mayonnaise
7. Brie & Brisket Quesadillas
8. Chicken Pot Pies 12/08
9. Pretty-in-Pink Shortbread Pigs 9/26/08
10. Bananas Foster Shortcake

Cookbook, Blog & Magazine Recipes, part 1
11. Buttermilk Frozen Custard with Bourbon-Roasted Peaches and Brown Sugar Walnuts - Visions of Sugar Plum 8/23/09
12. Cinnamon Toast Ice Cream - Epicurious
13. Braised Beef Cheeks - Gourmet
14. French Onion Soup - Thomas Keller’s Bouchon
15. Almond Cake - Alice Medrich’s Pure Dessert
16. Gianduja Roulade - Alice Medrich’s Pure Dessert
17. Cheddar-Polenta Biscuits with Ham Salad -Food and Wine, 2006
18. Warm Pumpkin Cake - Food and Wine, 2006
19. Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding - Paula Deen Celebrates! (Yes, this may be a little over-the-top, but seriously - doesn't it sound interesting?)
20. Butterscotch Bars with Brown Sugar Meringue Topping - Heirloom Baking with the Brass Sisters

Recipes from Cooking Light
21. Lemon Basil Sorbet
22. Asparagus, Ham, and Fontina Bread Pudding
23. Pork Saltimbocca with Polenta
24. Buttered Sweet Potato Knot Rolls
25. Citrus Cream Cheese Pull-Aparts
26. Lemonade Layer Cake
27. Baked Sesame Chicken Noodles
28. Peach-Glazed Barbecue Pork Chops and Peaches
29. Gruyere, Arugula, and Prosciutto-Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Caramelized Shallot Sauce 5/13/09
30. Mocha Latte Freeze

Recipes from The Silver Palate
31. Green Lasagna
32. Pheasant with Leek & Pecan Stuffing 12/3/08
33. Avocado and Ham Salad
34. Brioche
35. Apple Walnut Cake with Apple Cider Glaze
36. Hummus
37. Swiss Potato Gratin
38. Marinated Beef Salad
39. Crisp Roasted Asparagus with Gremolata 8/27/08
40. Pasta Primavera Gregory

Family Recipes
41. Fried Chicken with Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, Grandma Margaret
42. Spritz cookies, Grandma Margaret
43. Corn (to freeze), Ken’s family (Mom, Aunt and Grandma)
44. Deviled Eggs, Grandma Helen
45. Chocolate Chess Pie, Dad 11/08
46. Jambalaya, Aunt Nancy
47. Chicken Enchiladas, Mom
48. Georgia Peaches and Cream, Mom
49. Sugar cut out cookies, my Mother-in-Law
50. Homemade mayonnaise, Dad

Recipes I have flagged in Bon Appetit/Gourmet Magazine
51. Hot Milk Cakes with Strawberries and Cream
52. Quinoa with Black Beans and Cilantro 9/24/08
53. Chocolate Cake with Fleur de Sel Caramel Filling
54. Fried Mozzarella with Arugula and Prosciutto
55. Coffee-Marinated Grilled Pork
56. Farmer’s Market Salad with Spiced Goat Cheese Rounds
57. Basil Lemonade
58. Banana and Mango Spring Rolls with Chocolate Ganache
59. Spiced Banana Ice Cream
60. Beef and Avocado Finger Sandwiches

Misc. things to make (no recipe source yet)
61. Biscuits
62. Rice (I have problems cooking rice!)
63. Miso soup
64. Toffee
65. Crepes
66. Popovers
67. Quesadillas
68. Rosemary bread (like Twainland Cheesecake used to make)
69. White chicken chili
70. Pizza dough
71. Yeast rolls
72. Homemade donuts 5/25/09
73. Chicken or beef pot pie 3/5/09
74. Chocolate crème brulee
75. Fresh, homemade pasta
76. Mole sauce
77. Gnocchi
78. Marshmallows
79. Batter bread
80. Panna cotta 12/31/08
81. Thin Mint cookies (a replica of Girl Scout Thin Mints)
82. Palmiers
83. Beef Wellington - 8/27/08
84. Caramel corn
85. Brown sugar mojito
86. Pulled pork
87. French baguette
88. Sun-dried tomatoes (or maybe oven-dried)
89. Homemade beef stock

Cookbook, Blog & Magazine Recipes, part two
90. Creamy Chicken-Apple Chili, Everyday with Rachael Ray
91. Chocolate Flank Steak with Pineapple Salsa – Paula Deen’s Chocolate Celebration
92. Freeze-Ahead Lasagna Primavera – Everyday Food
93. The Barefoot Contessa’s Guacamole Salad
94. Hot Buttered Popcorn Bread – A Passion for Baking
95. White and Dark Chocolate Bread – A Passion for Baking
96. Stacked Crepe Cake – A Passion for Baking
97. Pheasant Ravioli with Rosemary Jus - Silver Spoon
98. Roasted Ricotta Roma Tomatoes – The Pioneer Woman Cooks 8/27/08
99. Portobello Lasagna Rollups with Tomato Sauce – The Food You Crave
100. Turkey Roulade with Apple Cider Gravy – The Food You Crave
101. Chocolate Gelato – Baking with Agave Nectar

Thanks for enduring this long post - let me know if you have experience with any of these recipes - or suggestions for any of the items I do not yet have a recipe for!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

"Tell me what you eat . . .

. . . and I'll tell you who you are." ~Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

If the saying holds true, you should know me pretty well (after the past 99 posts). But just in case you have some doubts about that theory, I have a few things to share with you:

1. I hate fish and seafood. HATE it. Even shrimp. Even lobster. Even lobster dipped in warm butter. I know, it's weird . . . but it's true.

Tonight, in honor of the 100th post on Kenzie's Kitchen, and because I want to stop hating fish, I tried salmon.

2. I talk to my parents a lot. In fact, I called my mom to tell her I was eating salmon tonight. I should have asked her to sit down first . . . I swear I could hear her jaw drop all the way through our cell phone connection.

3. I'm afraid of using the broiler. Approximately 9 of the 10 things I have tried to broil have burned to a crisp. I thought by broiling fish, maybe I could overcome two fears at once.

4. I love my dog. Love her so much that she's also going to have salmon for dinner. Well, at least that's what I'm telling her about why she gets salmon for dinner. (Shh . . . don't tell her it is really because, although I tried, I didn't like the salmon)

So there you have it: after selecting the best piece of wild caught salmon I could find and a recipe that actually sounded like it would be appetizing, I tried salmon and confirmed what I knew all along: I don't like it! However, if you do like salmon (and you should - it is good for you), you might like this recipe:

Miso-Glazed Salmon


1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons hot water
2 tablespoons miso (soybean paste)
4 (6 ounce) salmon filets (about 1 inch thick)
olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped


Preheat broiler.

Combine first 4 ingredients, stirring with a whisk.

Arrange fish in a shallow baking dish coated with olive oil. Spoon miso mixture evenly over fish.

Broil 10 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork, basting twice with miso mixture. Sprinkle with chives. - Adapted from RecipeZaar

5. I love to bake, which is really no secret at all. I like to try new recipes, but I also like old/simple recipes, too. And I really like giving old recipes a new twist; here is one of my new favorites:

Pan Toasted Rum Cake
In a skillet over medium-low heat, melt 1-2 tbsp. butter. Add slices of rum cake. Turn after 3-4 minutes (or when cake begins to turn brown and crisp). Toast opposite side 3-4 minutes. Serve with fresh whipped cream. I added almonds, both in the cake and over the whipped cream.

So, since you know what I'm eating and therefore who I am, I would love it if you would leave a comment and let me know who you are . . . or at the very least, let me know what you're eating and I'll try to guess!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

A Post-Wedding Feast for Becca & Caleb

My good friends Becca & Caleb got married last Saturday and to help them celebrate, Dad and I cooked the "post-wedding-gift-opening" lunch for them (and their families). Since Dad offered to cook, they let him choose the menu . . . after a few consultations with me and with his stash of Bon Appetit magazines, we ended up deciding on a couple of recipes he found in the August issue [of Bon Appetit] and a couple of my favorite summer dishes.

Although everything turned out to be absolutely WONDERFUL, there were a few times I began to wonder if people were going to have to stop at McDonald's on the way home . . . especially when I realized the couscous recipe called for raisins.

Grilled Lemon Chicken and Moroccan Couscous Salad
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 tbsp. ground ginger
2 garlic cloves, pressed
2 tsp. salt, divided
1 tsp. ground tumeric
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1 10-oz. box plain couscous
1/2 cup raisins
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (1.5 cups)
1-2 large red bell peppers, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (2 cups)
1/2 cup baby carrots
1 cup thinly sliced green beans (or trimmed sugar snap peas)
2 tsp. finely grated lemon peel
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

2 1/2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, plus additional for drizzling
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
6 large boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
3/4 cup plus 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
1/2 cup chopped toasted almonds (optional)
1 lemon, cut into 6 wedges

Couscous instructions:
Bring chicken broth, 1 tablespoon oil, ginger, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, turmeric, cinnamon, and cumin to boil in heavy large saucepan. Stir in couscous and remove from heat. Scatter raisins over, cover, and let stand until couscous softens, about 10 minutes. Fluff couscous with fork, breaking up any lumps. Transfer couscous to large bowl. Add cucumber, red bell pepper, carrot, green beans, and lemon peel. Whisk remaining 1 tablespoon oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and lemon juice in small bowl. Add to couscous; toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Chicken instructions:
Place 2 1/2 tablespoons oil, lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in large resealable plastic bag. Add chicken and seal bag, releasing any excess air; turn several times to coat. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes (or chill 1 to 3 hours and bring to room temperature before continuing).

Prepare barbecue grill (high heat). Brush grill rack with oil. Transfer chicken from bag to barbecue with some marinade still clinging and grill until slightly charred and just cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to platter and let rest 10 minutes. Stir 3/4 cup chopped cilantro into couscous. Sprinkle almonds over, if desired. Drizzle chicken with oil, sprinkle remaining 1/3 cup chopped cilantro over, and garnish with lemon wedges. Serve with couscous.
- Adapted from Bon Appetit (we tripled this recipe)

Note: I did not get a picture of the finished version of this recipe (although the couscous portion is the yellow stuff you can barely see in the metal bowl above). Between the bright yellow couscous, the colorful vegetables, and the lemon slices and cilantro, it should be an appealing dish to look at when it's all put together. About the raisins . . . they were actually not bad and gave the dish a nice bit of sweetness. However, if you hate raisins, it wouldn't have much of a negative impact on the final dish to omit them.

Grilled Eggplant with Caponata Salsa
1 12-ounce container grape or cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 celery stalks, finely diced
1/2 cup chopped Vidalia onion
5 large green olives, pitted, thinly sliced (about 2 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh oregano plus sprigs for garnish
1 tablespoon drained capers, rinsed
1 garlic clove, minced
Pinch of dried crushed red pepper
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil plus additional for brushing
1 large eggplant (1 1/2 to 1 3/4 pounds), trimmed

Mix tomatoes, celery, onion, olives, chopped oregano, capers, garlic, and crushed red pepper in medium bowl. Whisk red wine vinegar and 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil in small bowl; pour over tomato mixture and toss to coat. Season caponata to taste with salt and pepper. Caponata can be prepared 2 hours ahead (let stand at room temperature).

Prepare barbecue grill(medium-high heat). Peel eggplant lengthwise to create alternating 2-inch-wide intervals of peeled and unpeeled skin. Cut eggplant crosswise into 6 slices, each about 1 inch thick. Brush eggplant slices with oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill eggplant slices until slightly charred and very tender when pierced with knife, about 8 minutes per side.

Place 1 grilled eggplant slice on each of 6 plates. Spoon caponata over, garnish with oregano sprigs, and serve warm or at room temperature.
- Bon Appetit

Again, no picture of the final version (the chicken and eggplant were still grilling when I took the pictures). The "salsa" topping is in the glass bowl at the top right of the photo. Don't skip the step of seasoning with salt and pepper! Even the people who didn't think they liked eggplant enjoyed this dish!

2 oranges , sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rings
2 lemons , sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rings
3 peaches , pitted and cut into 8 wedges
1 pint strawberries , hulled and halved (optional)
3 bottles white wine (dry to semidry), such as Pinot Grigio
1 liter sparkling water

Place all fruit in a large pitcher or bowl, add wine and allow to sit at room temperature 4 to 24 hours. When ready to serve, add sparkling water and ice. Serve in a bowl with a ladle (make sure there's fruit in every serving)
- O, The Oprah Magazine

If you end up with leftover peaches in the pitcher - they are very delicious after "marinating" in the sangria (and twice as delicious with homemade ice cream)!

We rounded out the menu with:
Caprese Salad (using big tomatoes instead of grape tomatoes like I usually do)
Watermelon & Feta Salad (with cantaloupe)
Baguettes with Fresh Herb Butter (Basil/Dill/Chive)
Fresh Fruit
Strawberry Panzanella
Wedding Cake (leftover!)
Homemade Ice Cream (thank you to someone in Caleb's family!)

Although cooking in someone else's kitchen can be challenging, we really had fun making all these dishes . . . and using Becca's new Pampered Chef stuff! I wish someone would show up at my house and cook a meal like this! =)