Sunday, June 19, 2016

Absence

My postings have been few and far between of late.  Sorry.  And now I need to go out of town and I have a bad feeling my desktop computer has died.  So I'm going to take some time off and try to get things in order.

I shall return.

See you later!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Make-Ahead Raspberry-Peach Crisp Breakfast Parfait


I am not a big fruit and/or yogurt fan.  So whatever possessed me to try these (is it that they're just so pretty?), I'm glad I did.

What a great healthy and very filling make-ahead breakfast.  The oatmeal mixed into the yogurt gives it a wonderful chewiness and the almonds give the crunch.  Make sure your peaches are ripe!

I made two and ate the second one on Day Three, so they keep well for several days in the fridge.  For step-by-step (and much better!) photos, click on the link below.

MAKE-AHEAD RASPBERRY-PEACH CRISP BREAKFAST PARFAIT (2 servings)

2 (5.3 oz) containers vanilla Greek yogurt
2/3 cup (uncooked) old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup milk (any kind)
2 tsp chia seeds
1 tsp vanilla
2 peaches, chopped
6 oz raspberry
1/4 cup sliced almonds

Stir together yogurt, oats, milk, chia seeds, and vanilla.  In a large bowl, scoop 1/4 of the mixture into the bottoms into the bottoms of two 16 oz mason jars with lids.  Top each with 1/4 of the peaches and raspberries, and 1 Tbsp of almonds.  Repeat layers then screw lids on top and store in the refrigerator.  Parfaits will stay good for 2-3 days.

Recipe Source: http://iowagirleats.com/2016/06/06/make-ahead-raspberry-peach-crisp-breakfast-parfaits/

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Pico de Gallo and Guacamole


This is just kind of a note for myself.  Years ago working at a restaurant in Red Wing, MN, we used to make pico de gallo.  It's really the simplest recipe you can find.  I recently had a craving for it, even with the addition of cilantro (see the info on cilantro-soap gene).  You can make this as spicy as you like....traditional pico calls for using jalapenos (with seeds for even more heat).  I choose to use poblanos as they have much less heat (see the difference on the scoville chart). 

With summer approaching and tomatoes coming into season, this will be a staple in many homes.  Keep a couple of avocados on hand (I'll buy them at different stages of ripeness so they ripen at intervals) and can always make this traditional guac or the different nouveau guac (Balsamic Guacamole).  

PICO de GALLO and GUACAMOLE (8 servings)

For the Pico de Gallo:
5 whole plum (Roma) tomatoes
1/2 large (or 1 small) onion
3 whole jalapeno peppers (I use equal amount of seeded poblanos)
cilantro
lime juice 
salt to taste

For the Guacamole:
3 whole avocados
Pico de Gallo
lime juice
salt to taste

Instructions:

For the Pico de Gallo:

Chop jalapenos, tomatoes, and onions into a very small dice (leave seeds in your jalapenos for a hotter pico).  Adjust amount of jalapenos to your preferred temp.  Next, chop up a nice-sized bunch of cilantro.  Just remove and discard the long, leafless stems before chopping.  No need to remove the leaves from the stems completely.  Place all of these ingredients together in a bowl and give it a good stir.

Squeeze the juice of half of one lime and into the bowl.  Add salt to taste and stir again.

For the Guacamole:

Start with buttery-soft avocados.  Halve them lengthwise and remove the pits.  Next, with a spoon  scrap the "meat" out onto a large plate.  Next, with the bottom of a clean cup (or with a fork) mash the avocados, making sure to leave it relatively chunky.  Add just a couple of shakes of salt to taste.  Next, add a generous helping of Pico de Gallo.  Fold together.  Lastly, squeeze the juice of half a lime over the top.  Give it one last stir.

Recipe Source: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/pico_de_gallo_a/

Friday, June 3, 2016

Pineapple Mango Salsa


Last week Aldi's had pineapples for $1 and mangoes for $.50.  I let them both sit for a few days to ripen and they were perfect.....so sweet and the mangoes were still firm but juicy.

This is perfect now that it's getting hot and humid.  Delicious with fish or chicken or, of course, nachos.  Don't make a bunch ahead of time, this is something that needs to be served pretty soon after making or it will get a bit mushy.

Click on the link below to see step-by-step photos and instructions.  Adjust ingredients to your liking (I used less pineapple-to-mango ratio).

PINEAPPLE MANGO SALSA

1 whole pineapple, peeled and diced
1 whole mango, diced
1/2 whole medium red onion, finely diced
1 whole jalapeno, seeded and diced (use 1/2 seeded poblano for less heat)
fresh cilantro, chopped
1 whole lime, juiced
dash kosher salt
dash granulated sugar, optional

Combine diced pineapple, mango, red onion, jalapeno, and cilantro.  Squeeze in lime juice and add salt and sugar (if needed).  Stir to combine.  Serve within an hour with tortilla chips or on top of chicken or fish.

Recipe Source:  http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/pineapple-mango-salsa/

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms




I do loves me mushrooms, no matter the variety or how they're prepared.  And for me, a stuffed portabella is a meal in itself.

This is a recipe from a restaurant I worked at years ago.  Two different stuffed mushrooms were offered, this creamy vegetable stuffed choice or an Italian sausage stuffed 'room.  Both excellent.  I just happened to have everything on hand to make this one.  Never a bad choice.

STUFFED PORTABELLA MUSHROOMS

4 portabella mushrooms (or you could use 12 large button mushrooms)
1 Tbsp EVOO
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 Tbsp chopped green onion
8 oz cream cheese (regular or reduced-fat), softened
3 Tbsp port or merlot wine
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 dashes hot sauce

Remove stems from mushrooms and finely chop them.  Heat olive oil in saute pan over medium heat.  Stir in mushroom stems, garlic, and green onions.  Cook and stir until soft.
Remove from the heat and allow to cool until easily handled.  

In a medium bowl, mix together chopped mushroom stem mixture, cream cheese, wine, Italian seasoning, both cheeses, black pepper, and hot sauce.  Stuff mushroom caps with mixture and bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Happy Birthday, Daddy


Happy Birthday, Daddy!

This was my father at the age of 19 (in 1944).  Had he not died in 1999, he would have been 91-years-old today.  He, as many young men during WWII, left high school to join the Navy.  I don't know many of the details of his service (those secrets he left only with my brother, Paul), but I do know he served in the South Pacific and was severely injured in a plane crash while serving as a bombardier (information his sister, Magdalene, shared with me).  I know his service haunted him and I don't know if he ever found peace.

He was, however, profoundly proud of this country (I can't imagine how he'd feel about it these days) and know that he felt strongly about honoring the men and women who died as hero soldiers defending this country.  

To the families, friends, and loved ones of those who gave their lives defending this country, my love and sincere sympathy.  Memorial Day isn't about the beginning of the summer months.  It's about them.  Please don't forget that.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Strawberry Coconut Water Lemonade




Are you ready for the unofficial start of summer, Memorial Day weekend?  It will definitely be feeling like summer here in SE Tennessee this weekends with highs around 90.  Ughhh.  
This is definitely a summertime drink, and pretty, too.  While I've used coconut milk for years, I had never tried coconut water.  It's a great addition in that it's not sweet-tasting on its own, but it does cut the tartness of the lemon juice, leading to less added sugar.  Hmmm, you learn something everyday.

Click on the recipe link below for lots of added tips (like adding sparkling water, getting the most juice out of lemons, adding alcohol, making popsicles, lots of beautiful photos, and step-by-step instructions).

STRAWBERRY COCONUT WATER LEMONADE (makes 5 cups)

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice (about 4 lemons)
1 lb strawberries, trimmed and halved
2 cups coconut water
sparkling water, optional

Stir together the water and sugar in a glass bowl then microwave for about 90 seconds.  Carefully remove from the microwave then stir until all the sugar has dissolved (you know have simple syrup).  Refrigerate until cool (this can be made several days ahead).

Combine lemon juice and strawberries in a blender then blend until very smooth.  Stir in coconut water then simple syrup to taste (start with 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp; amount used will depend on your taste and the sweetness of your strawberries).

Refrigerate lemonade until ready to serve then pour into glasses over ice and top with sparkling water (optional) just before serving.

Recipe Source: http://iowagirleats.com/2016/05/02/strawberry-coconut-water-lemonade/