I usually refuse to go to chain restaurants. There are so many choices out there, why waste your dining dollars on a chain where you know exactly what is on the menu and the masses will follow you there? Well, one reason is because sometimes you just crave a dish. And familiarity can be a comfort. For me, those times are few and far between, but that is one reason you might see me dining at Carrabba’s.
They bring you a basket of piping hot fresh bread to your table with a scoop of herb mixture which is then mixed with olive oil. Perfect for dipping. I made mine for a dinner the other night and had some left over. I mixed it with olive oil, marinated some chicken breasts with it and grilled them. Wow! Yum!
Carrabba’s Bread Dipping Spice
- 1 tablespoon minced basil
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley (Italian is best)
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt or 1/2 teaspoon ground sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon chopped rosemary
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
- 1/8 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1. Combine all of the ingredients, EXCEPT oil and lemon.
2. Put in a small food processor (I used my little food chopper). Chop briefly until all ingredients are about the same.
3. Stir in oil and lemon juice.
4. TO SERVE: Combine about 1 1/2 teaspoons spice blend to 3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil on a small Dish.
5. Dip sliced bread in mixture.
I am so punished behind how hot it is outside. We have been having temps in the high 80’s lately and it’s just a little too much for this former Florida girl to handle. I choose to cool off with some refreshing treats, of course.
I whipped up a batch of Cherry Limeade I found from Pioneer Woman. It was good, but add more cherry juice and don’t let your limes just sit in the pitcher of limeade. It makes it very bitter. Can you guess how I discovered this? *pucker*
Bottoms up Cherry Limeade
From Ree Drummond, Pioneer Woman
- 3/4 cup lime juice
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 liters lime-flavored soda water, chilled
- 1/2 cup maraschino cherry juice
- 8 maraschino cherries, with stems
- 8 lime slices
In a bowl, combine lime juice and sugar. Cover and refrigerate. Just before serving, stir carbonated water into lime juice mixture. For each serving, place 1 tablespoon cherry juice in a glass. Add crushed ice and about 1 cup of lime juice mixture. Garnish with a maraschino cherry and a lime slice.
Is there any snack that says summer more than Guacamole? I think not. Fresh and fast, this is an awesome one:
- 3 ripe Avocados, medium sized
- 1 -2 jalapeno, seeded, stemmed and finely chopped
- 1/2 medium white onion, diced
- 4 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 medium tomato, cored, seeded and diced
Cut avocado in quarters, discard pit and peel. Place in mixing bowl and mash minimally with a potato masher. Add remaining ingredients. Mix just until combined. Serve immediately, or store in fridge with pit in bowl to prevent browning.
Another treat that I equate with summer is Cream Cheese Olive Spread. Make ahead and pull out with crackers for a cool creamy treat while you are sitting by the lake watching then sunset with a glass of wine.
Cream Cheese-Olive Spread
- 1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup finely chopped pimiento-stuffed Spanish olives
- 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
Stir together cream cheese, Spanish olives, and 1 Tbsp. mayonnaise. Shape cream cheese mixture into 2 (6-inch) logs; wrap in plastic wrap, and chill at least 30 minutes, or store in the refrigerator in an airtight container up to 2 days.
Place pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan. Bake pecans at 350° for 8 minutes or until lightly toasted, stirring occasionally. Let cool 30 minutes or until completely cool.
Roll cream cheese log in chopped chives and toasted pecans just before serving.
Cheese balls show up on every Christmas sideboard, don’t they? And no wonder. They can be made ahead, kept in the fridge and just set out with absolutely no fuss…and they are delicious. Truly one of the world’s perfect foods. I enjoy them as a midnight snack with a few crackers, as well. This one is so simple it is crazy, but yummy!
Buttermilk Ranch Cheeseball
- 1 tablespoon sour cream
- 1 (1 ounce) package Ranch dressing mix
- 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
- 1/2 lb cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
- Mix the sour cream with ranch dressing mix in a bowl until smoothly combined. Add the cream cheese and Cheddar cheese to the bowl, and mix together with your hands until thoroughly blended. Chill the mixture for 5 minutes, then shape into a ball.
Place the pecans into a shallow bowl, and roll all sides of the cheese ball in the pecans to coat. Serve immediately.