Sunday, December 29, 2013

Spiced, Sugared, Bourboned Pecans

Time stamp: 3:30 pm 12/28/13 - Full tin. 
This year has been a special Christmas.  It was my first year not at home in Atlanta.  We can blame the cute as a button-ness that is my new niece and the true blessing it is that my brother and his family are a mile away from me.  So, this year my parents came to Arlington for a Virginia Christmas.  And along with an SUV load of luggage and Christmas presents, my mom brought pecans.  Delicious, golden, soft, sweet pecans.  Her source?  The veterinarian's office of all places.  Don't ask.  Just find yourself some pecans to put in your face.  Preferably delicious ones.  

This recipe will last 5 adults about 6 hours or so.  And heaven forbid you let the tin go empty.  This was the third time tinkering with the recipe (ingredients as well as time and temp) and as the saying goes, third time's a charm.

1 egg white
1 T bourbon (you're only using 1T...  go ahead, grab the top shelf)
3 C pecan halves
1/2 C sugar
1/2 t salt
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t cloves
1/2 t nutmeg
1/4 t  cayenne pepper (more if you're feeling ballsy)

Preheat oven to 300.  Beat egg white and bourbon in a large bowl.  Stir in pecans letting soak while you mix up the sweet spice mix.  Mix up the remaining ingredients in a separate bowl.  Toss in to the pecans stirring to coat.  Cover a cookie sheet in foil (for easy clean up).  And put nuts on cookie sheet being sure to have a single layer.  Bake for 25 minutes, stirring and monitoring often.  The first (still edible) fail/attempt on Christmas Day was a bit charred.  Happy to do all the dirty work, so you can just go straight to the winning recipe.  Enjoy!  
Time stamp: 8:45 pm 12/28/13 - Nearly gone.
Also, a giant 5 pound cupcake for hermano's birthday. 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Epically Doctored Up Artichoke Dip

I'm grateful to have a foodie friend, who also wanted to avoid malls on Black Friday.  We managed to motivate ourselves yesterday for a trip to a winery and a field trip to Wegman's on the way home to get fixings to make ourselves a nice dinner.  (And as I write this post devouring a wheat carrot muffin from their bakery, I wonder why my life doesn't include more Wegman's field trips.)

Anyways, last night we landed on some bone in pork loin, homemade applesauce, and bacon cabbage reheated in an iron skillet.  And a weight watchers lemon cream pie - (I've altered it some, so maybe I'll post that on a rainy day.)  A last minute addition to up the veggies was 3 artichokes.  They were a game changer.

Anyways, after our trip through the check out with 3 piles - yours, mine, and sharing the cost for dinner - we headed back to my apt to get cooking.  The artichoke dip, a complete last minute brain dump of what we should dip artichokes in when we both kind of abhor mayo, I decided to doctor the heck out of it and made one hell of a dip.  I'll do my best to recall the approximate measurements.  But I would just read through for ideas and generate your own proportions and mix of flavors.

3 steamed artichokes ready for eating.
Awesome Doctored Artichoke Dip

Ingredients for Dip: (all approximate) 
2 heaping T light Hellman's Mayo
2 garlic cloves roughly chopped
1/4 tsp paprika
1 tsp olive oil
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp of magic honey that is lime and cayenne infused
1 tsp lemon juice

Puree in the immersion blender attachment.  Serve in ramekin.  Top with a sprinkle of paprika.  Devour with artichoke leaves.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Pumpkin Cheesecake Fro Yo aka Crack

Patience while it churns.
Go ahead and judge.  I might
make a hot water bath in
the sink to lick the frozen bowl. 
"Oh hey, is that fro yo in your hair?"  Why yes, maybe I was licking the bowl, beaters, and spoon over the sink...  I am truly not sure how this took so long for me to decide to create, since I've had this ice cream maker for 6 months now, but alas.  It was truly worth the wait.  My only complaint, if I had to make one, is that the cream cheese is clumpy because of my impatience to wait for it to warm to room temp.  But really, not a bad day if lumps of cream cheese in fro yo is your biggest complaint...

1 block reduced fat cream cheese warmed to room temp
1 C fat free plain greek yogurt
1 C pumpkin puree
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 T pumpkin pie spice

1. Mix everything.
2. Follow ice cream bowl instructions.  (ie: set up everything and turn it on stir setting before adding batter, and wait until it starts clicking.)
3. Save the majority in a container.
4.  Eat a little in a bowl, though you might need a straw when it's fresh.
5.  Lick the mixing bowl and spoons.  (Be careful your tongue doesn't freeze to the sides. I suggest a sink bath.) 

It's soupy and delicious
out of the ice cream maker.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Head of Cabbage + Bacon = The Way Cabbage Should Be Eaten

So when the CSA gives you a head of cabbage.... 1 week ago, it is well past time to make room for a new crop of veggies.  And that cabbage is looking at you, every time you open the refrigerator door. And CSA day is upon you again, what's a girl to do?  I am too stubborn to chuck it, so I will cook it in bacon.  And I may forever cook cabbage in bacon.

And if I am going to cook in bacon, I might as well go to the fancy pants butcher and acquire fancy pants bacon.  This was my first trip there, to any butcher actually, but certainly not my last.

Inspired by a few Irish recipes I saw....

1 head of cabbage
4 slices of delicious fancy pants bacon
1 tsp nutmeg; salt and pepper


1.  Roughly chop cabbage, discarding core.
2.  Cook bacon in a dutch oven or skillet, on medium heat, until crisped to desired consistency.
3.  Remove bacon.  (Reserve some bacon grease in a small mason jar for a rainy day.)
4.  Stand back.  Add cabbage into pot.  Stir to coat all of the cabbage in bacon renderings.  Put a lid on loosely.  Cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  I added 1/2 cup of water to steam/boil the cabbage faster.
5.  Add nutmeg and stir.  Salt and pepper to taste.
6.  Chop bacon and add to cabbage.
7.  Eat up!

Loose Smashed Cauliflower / Thick Cauliflower Soup

So much cauliflower..
Last week's CSA Day... My favorite day of the week.  Busy running around and not getting to dinner until 8, but I wanted to make a dent in the bounty of produce.  So, I concocted this mess.  Just a matter of perspective whether you want to call it a thick soup or loose smashed mock-potatoes.  Either way a bowl and a spoon help the situation.    

Loose Smashed Cauliflower / Thick Cauliflower Soup

Post pilates dinner: Punkin Beer;
Overcooked crock apples;
Smashed Cauliflower..
1 and a half heads of cauliflower
The immersian blender fixes
1 leek
1 C chicken broth
2 C water (In retrospect - use less water if you want it thicker and more like mashed potatoes.)
1/4 C parm
1/2 C 2% milk
2 T garlic powder
1 T olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
Reduced shredded cheddar blend

Break up cauliflower.  Slice leek.  Bring broth and water to a boil with veggies.  Simmer.  15-20 minutes until easily breaks apart with a wooden spoon.  Stir a few times during that time to make sure all parts get submerged at some point.  Add a healthy amount of garlic powder towards end.  If I'd had garlic cloves I would have added that from the beginning.

When cauliflower is soft, remove from heat.  Add parm, milk, and olive oil.  Add salt and pepper.  Whip out the immersian blender.  Immerse and blend to desired consistency.  Top with shredded cheddar.  Enjoy!  (I enjoyed this later in the week mixed with cheese grits and some crawfish tail meat.... it's quite versatile..)
Nom nom.  Kind of a grits

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Reminiscing About Honey Lemon Lavender Fro Yo & Lavender Farm Visits

An overdo funny story.

I have many awesome friends.  But there is one who is as nutty as I am about playing in the kitchen and we buy eachother epic birthday presents.  She changed my life with the ice cream maker attachment for my KitchenAid.  In anticipation this present, back in May, I trolled around online to purchase culinary grade lavender for my frozen yogurt experiments.  I settle on some from that comes from Pelindaba Lavender Farm (none the wiser that I would visit the farm months later.)

Beach week commences in May with a house full of friends in the Outer Banks.  The perfect opportunity to christen the ice cream attachment.  (Yes, a Kitchen Aid is totally portable... So is a bicycle... whatever.)  No need to serve it up all pretty at the beach, just a pile of spoons during a game night and a container of fresh Honey Lemon Lavender Fro Yo.  It is a winner.  I promise.

Honey Lemon Lavender Fro Yo
1 quart vanilla non fat greek yogurt

Juice of 2 lemons and their zest
1 T dried lavender
1/2 C half and half or whole milk or fat free half and half
1/3 C honey

1. Bring half and half to boil.  Remove from heat.  Add dried lavendar.  Let sit for 30 min - 1 hour. 
2. In large bowl mix everything else. 

3. Strain lavender and add to mixture.  I left some lavender in though, it looks neat.
4. Follow manufacturer's directions for using ice cream maker. 
5.  You could serve it nice and pretty.  Or you could give everyone a spoon.  Your choice. 

Now for the funny part.  A solid 3 months after this wildly successful fro yo experiment, I am on a 4 day San Juan Bike Tour with my Mom, and on Day 4, there is a visit to...... Pelindaba Lavender Farm!  As our guides were talking about stopping at Pelindaba, I kept having a weird feeling, thinking that it sounded familiar, but could not figure out why.  When I set foot in the gift shop, I spied with my little eye - the exact same tin cans of culinary grade lavender for sale!  I found this to be eerily serendipitous and super weird and super awesome.  But mainly super relaxing from the scent and sights of lavender and super delicious.    

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Sweet Milk Key Lime Pineapple Cookie Cake Thing-a-ma-jigs

Ohmygosh these are good.  Good thing I'm biking 100 miles tomorrow.  Do you ever get that sweet craving?  But it's raining, so you're just going to play the game 'what ingredients do I have on my shelf that I can make a cookie with'?  No?  Just me?  Weird.  Anyways, here is what happened on this rainy not getting out of pj's, yet, day.  I looked up a recipe, but mutilated it so much that I'm calling it mine.  Cut out a few things.  Added a few more.  (No shortening, but oil instead.  No sugar, but pineapple.  Totally normal.)

1 egg
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 C fresh diced pineapple
1/4 C canola oil
1/4 C key lime juice
2 tsp cream of tarter
1 C flour
1 C rolled oats

Preheat oven to 350.  Mix all of the things in a bowl.  Use cookie baller thing to scoop onto cookie sheet.  (This makes them stay round and almost like cake balls.)  Bake for 12 minutes.  Cool.  Devour.

Potato Eggplant Bake

Ricotta ready. 
Friday night consisted of laundry, tunes, and cooking before meeting friends for a pumpkin brew.  Not a bad evening at all.  This "recipe" was somewhat an improvise.  Brought to you by the ingredients found in the CSA.  Doing it again, I'd probably double the cheese amount and perhaps add in mozzarella to the layers.  But this was a nice simple, healthful side.  I froze half.  Cuz that's how I roll.  I ate this with phenomenal Eating Well parmesan chicken tenders.  Let's just say I'm looking forward to leftovers.

Eggplant ready. 
half dozen small potatoes
half dozen mini eggplants
half jar or so of marinara
1/4 C ricotta
1/8 C parm
salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano

Oven ready.

Preheat oven to 400.  Slice potatoes and eggplants.  Salt the eggplant and let sit for a bit.  Mix the ricotta, parm, seasoning, and egg.  Put a bit of sauce in the bottom of the baking dish so as not to stick.  Layer potato, eggplant, cheese, and sauce in no particular order.  Making sure to season the potato layer well with salt, pepper, garlic.  Make sure potato is covered in marinara.  Top with parsley.  Cover loosely with foil.   Bake for ~40 minutes or so.

Face ready.
Totally normal.  Most people have 3 kinds
of breadcrumbs, right?
(Used for chicken tenders.)

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Baba Ghanoush for the Road

Big eggplant half is in foil.
Road tripped to see my grandparents yesterday.  ~ 8 hours in the car thanks to thanks to traffic.  But I was prepared with my cooler of snacks/dinner.  I made baba ghanoush.  I had a bag of 1 week old tiny fairytale eggplants and now from this week's CSA, a half of a giant regular eggplant.  (Tina is back from TX, so the halving resumes.  Overwhelmed by eggplant, nonetheless.)

I decide to make baba ghanoush before my drive.  It is delish with the tini peppers from the CSA this week, and topped with chunked tomatoes from this week.  And add in some carrots, hummus, and pita chips and you have your self a hearty snack to hold you over until you are drawn in for a milkshake from Chick-Fil-A.


1 whole eggplant (Or a combo of half an eggplant and a dozen mini ones)
Cooked and pruney.
Canola oil to grease the pan/eggplants
1/4 C tahini paste
1/4 C lemon juice
A few cloves diced of fresh garlic (or if like me, you are blending at breakfast time and you don't feel like cutting garlic, a heavy hand of garlic powder.  Like 1 T at minimum, more to taste.)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Heavy drizzle of olive oil, ~ 1T

Preheat oven to 400.  Pierce eggplants.  Add a smidge of canola to grease the pan/eggplant.  Because I had only a half of the large one, I wrapped it in foil.  Worked like a charm.

Roast in 12 minute increments to simultaneously turn the little ones and check the doneness.  Some came out sooner than others.  You're looking for pruney flesh and soft insides when grabbed with tongs.  If done, take out and plunge in cold water/ice water.  All in all, not more than about 45 minutes.  When cooled peel flesh off or just toss in a ziplock in the fridge to deal with in the am.  (If you are doing this process at 10:30 pm while packing, this is a good point to stop and go to bed.)

(Wake up.  Make coffee.)  Then, blend all the things.  Because the eggplant is so full of water, a blender worked like a charm.  Add eggplant, lemon, tahini, garlic powder, salt and pepper.  I'm storing in a handy ball jar for lunches/snacks all week.  But packed a mini container for the road.

Voila.  Crisis averted.  Produce will not suffer because I go out of town.  And makes for an amazingly delicious way to use eggplant!

Don't worry, Mom.  I ate (and photoed) this at a rest stop.
Not actually driving. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Beet Sauce aka Beet Smoothie but Spoon Required

The CSA has been providing a bounty of glorious beets.  I do love roasting them and eating them on salads.  And also pickling them.  But recently I felt like making a smoothie.  I'm not huge into the juicing craze.  I like fiber too much.  But I threw these things in the food processor... And voila.  Beet sauce to be eaten with a spoon.

Beets: Trimmed, peeled, chunked if they are huge.  However many you have left in the veggie drawer.
Carrots: CSA whole ones preferred.  Washed and trimmed.  A handful or so of baby carrots works, too.
Unsweetened applesauce: 1 Cup or so.  I would've used whole apples if I'd had them.    
Mint:  However much your heart desires.  I discovered keeping mint in the freezer totally works fine for things like this.
Lemon: Juice of 1 lemon.  Keeps the colors bright and the flavor fresh.
Water: This is a thick goopy mess.  Water helps.

Put all the things in the food processor.  Press on.  Taste.  Add more of whatever.  Eat.   

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Stressball Bran Muffins with Blueberries and Smuggled White Currants

There is something therapeutic about playing in the kitchen for me.  When I feel overwhelmed by things out of my control, the kitchen is my sanctuary.  Feeling bogged down with deep thoughts for some reason tonight, I turned to the fridge and turned up the tunes.

Tonight - I roasted a chicken; made a whole wheat pasta with a CSA veggie ragu (eggplant, portobello, and tomatoes); made bran muffins; and pondered pickled beets and salsa... But you have to draw the line somewhere.  Most delicious were the bran muffins.   Just a tad sweet.  And tart from the currants.  These will be breakfast for several mornings... (Also, I wrapped several in foil to freeze... In small single serve packs of 2 muffins so I can pull out the night before to defrost for breakfasts much later.)

1 cup wheat bran
1 1/2 wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda (I forgot this.)
Sprinkling of cinnamon
1 cup milk
1/4 cup honey
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 T oil
2 eggs
1 heaping cup fruit of choice (I used CSA blueberries and White Currants smuggled back from my recent vacation in Washington State)

Directions:Preheat oven to 400.  Blend bran, flour, baking powder, and baking soda.  In separate bowl mix milk, honey, applesauce, oil, and eggs.  Add wet ingredients to larger bowl with dry ingredients.  Add fruit.  (A sprinkle of cinnamon never hurts..)   Spoon into greased mini muffin tins.  Bake 10-15 minutes.  Makes 24 mini muffins.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Watermelon Mojito Sorbet

My quest to play with my KitchenAid ice cream maker continues..  My adventures have been delicious, but one thing I've wanted to overcome is that homemade concoctions are rock hard in the freezer.  Reading up on ice cream, that's where sugar and fat helps are helpful. I made an attempt for booze to help with that problem... but still frozen solid.  Eat as soon as it comes out of the ice cream maker for soft serve or leave out for awhile to defrost when you are ready to eat.  Tasty stuff.  I'm wagering this would be good as a drink also.. probably with more rum.

1 quart pureed watermelon (~1/2 medium melon)
1 lime - zest and juice
6 mint sprigs
1/4 C rum

I used my immersion blender attachment to puree watermelon in batches - (a food processor would work too.)  Put watermelon puree in mixing bowl.  Zest lime, and add zest to watermelon.  With immersion blender or food processor add juice of lime, rum, and mint leaves.  Puree.  Add to mixing bowl.  Keep in fridge until ready to add to ice cream maker.  Add to ice cream maker and follow manufacturer directions.  

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Don't Panic, Just Pickle Your Beets and Cukes

Maybe it's just me, but nothing ensues more panic into a member of a CSA than ... a trip.  Last week, the CSA pickup was on Tuesday, and I had 1 day to eat or process veggies.  Ha.  But I decided to try an experiment in pickling beets.  I was roasting beets while I was simultaneously packing a suitcase. Normal, right?  I knew these were waiting for me when I came home to try.  The result?  I will be perhaps pickling more things...

3 beets
cucumbers (optional)
1 C apple cider vinegar
1/2 C sugar and 1 1/2 tsp salt
1 C water

Preheat oven to 400. Wash beets and trim ends. If some are larger, cut to be approximately the same size. Wrap loosely in foil. Roast for 40 minutes. Let cool. Peel, discard the skin. Slice beets.

Boil all the other things. Pour over sliced beets and sliced (raw) cukes in mason jar.

Leave for a few days. Enjoy on a salad or on their own.

CSA Salad: mixed greens, corn sliced off the cob, carrots, green pepper,
grapes, chickpeas, pickled cukes and beets, simple dressing of canola oil,
balsamic, honey, oregano, salt and pepper. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Poached Eggs in Zucchini and Tomatoes

After a week of feeling like a vacuum eating out of a trough at a conference, I needed a simple veggie-full breakfast.  Even though my alarm was set for PM today, I still managed to wake up in time and was able to pull this simple concoction together.  Delish.

1 tsp canola
1 small zucchini
2 whole tomatoes and some juice from a can of tomatoes
2 eggs
salt, pepper, garlic powder

In an iron skillet, saute diced zucchini in canola oil. Add salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Cook until edges are brownish, but not too long.  I like my veggies to not be overcooked.  Add in tomatoes.  Break them up with the edge of a spatula.  Pushing veggies aside, crack two eggs in the skillet on the juicy side.  Cook until the whites are set.  Eat!  I mixed it all up in a massive bowl.       

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Potato Zucchini Pancakes

A delicious CSA concoction for breakfast on a lazy Saturday where my bike ride ambitions are being overtaken by coffee and a movie.  This made probably 5 servings.  I ate one, and wrapped the rest in single serve wraps of foil and froze to have my own frozen dinners/breakfasts on the ready.  

3 zucchini shredded (~2 cups)
4 small/medium potatoes (~2 cups)
1 onion diced (wish I'd had this)
2 eggs
1/4 C flour
Salt, pepper, garlic powder

2 T canola oil

Mix everything - except oil.  Use oil gradually to cook pancakes on iron skillet. 

Made ~ 5 servings.  I served with unsweetened applesauce.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Waffle Para Uno

This has become my 4th of July tradition.  Delish... For the times when you want one waffle and no pesky leftover batter to deal with.

1 egg white
1/4 c skim milk1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp oil
1/4 c flour
pinch baking powder and pinch salt

Top with:
pile strawberries and blueberries
1T powdered sugar


Whisk egg white.  Add milk and vanilla and whisk.  Add other ingredients.  Waffle it up in the waffle iron.  (All this for 5 points for you weight watchers...) 

Banana PB/Sunbutter Fro Yo

This was a phenomenal concoction modified from a Chiquita Banana Recipe I found.  I substituted Sunbutter for the PB, because I had it in the fridge leftover from Memorial Day beach week -a perk from being the last to leave, I guess.  (Going out on a limb and guessing that was a Theo purchase?)

But I had these ingredients all on hand.  And plans that fell through on a Friday night.  May as well make fro yo, order pizza on a cracker from Domino's, and call over reinforcements who smartly shows up with wine and conversation.

This fro yo was so good I put the ice cream bowl in a hot water bath in the kitchen sink to properly scrape the bowl.  I may need to remember to do that all the time.  I got an extra cup it seemed.  Some for the freezer some for my face.

Serves ~8

4 ripe bananas (diced and frozen in a freezer bag before spoiling)
2 cups plain fat free greek yogurt
1/2 cup skim milk
1/3 cup peanut butter or sunbutter
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla extract

Puree all the things in a food processor.  Set ice cream maker up to directions.  Turn on, and pour batter in.  Because of the frozen bananas, it takes hardly any time at all to set up - like 5 minutes.  You can also just use unfrozen banana and it will take longer.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

"Couldn't Find Key Lime Juice" - Pie Frozen Yogurt

Key lime pie is one of my favorites.  So is 'Key Lime Pie Scream' an ice cream flavor I recall fondly from Luke's, a local Atlanta Ice Cream Shop near my college that puts an entire pie in their ice cream.  So rich and so delicious.

The fun of my new ice cream maker, is being able to lighten up recipes, having control over my ingredients, and it is just plain delicious.  I found this recipe on Wicked Yummy, and was inspired.  Problem being I couldn't find Key Lime juice at 4 grocery stores and I was getting desperate.  The ice cream bowl was in the freezer and ripe for the making.  I had all the other ingredients, and I had lemons and limes, so I went with it.  I was home watching tv and doing puzzles with the roommate.  We NEEDED fro yo.

Holy smokes, if there were straws in the apartment last night, I would have inhaled a quart of this in the soft serve state.  (Or 1/2 at least as my roommate would've fought me for it, probably.)  Instead we had a ramekin amount.  Twice.

32 oz container plain fat free yogurt
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup lemon juice (~ 2 lemons)
1/4 cup lime juice (~ 2 limes)
zest of 1 lime; zest of 1 lemon
4 sheets of graham crackers

Mix yogurt, sweetened condensed milk, lemon juice, lime juice, zest, and 2 graham sheets crumbled.
Put in ice cream maker according to directions.  With a Kitchen Aid, you set it up, turn it on, and pour it in.  20 minutes later add 2 more cracker sheets crumbled for a few minutes.  Voila.  Eat some soft serve style and freeze the rest for later and have a harder fro yo.