Garden Fresh: A Few Grapes For Smoothies

I processed the few grapes I got this year into juice that I then add to my morning shakes. My neighbor gave me a handful of passion fruit, as an exchange for all my plums her toddler loves to eat. So I also added those to my shake this morning.

Not exchange was not necessary, he can have all the plums he wants! He’s a pandemic baby, born just as we went into lockdown, so I have probably seen more of him than I normally would, as mom and dad walked around the neighborhood several times a day and my office faces the street. Socially distant chats were a welcome diversion.

It’s been my pleasure to watch him grow and start walking and now starting to talk, enough to make his desire to pick plums from my tree clear. Still a nice distraction from work, as far as I’m concerned.

This morning’s smoothie:

Mixed Berry Smoothies

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 cup ea:  blueberries and raspberries, frozen
  • 4-6 whole strawberries, frozen
  • 1/4 cup fresh grape juice
  • 2 passion fruit (scooped from shell)
  • opt: 1 tbsp ground flax and 1 scoop whey powder

blender

Add all ingredients to the blender and blend well.  This makes 2 thick smoothies.  For more of a milkshake consistency, add 6 ice cubes and blend well. I use frozen fruit, so I don’t add the ice cubes, but sometimes a bit of water to make a smooth consistency.


x-posted at Annie DeMoranville

Super Bowl Sunday Favorite Snack Recipes

JeffreyW's Awesome Nachos

JeffreyW’s Awesome Nachos

It’s almost Super Bowl Sunday, when you sit down to stuff your face with favorite snack foods, drink beer and watch the Super Bowl Commercials.  I think there is some football in there somewhere.

It seems to have become a tradition to repost these recipes, some of my favorites. I’ve added JeffreyW’s Hot Wings to the group. Click here for his deep fried wings (pictured above) and Bleu Cheese Dip. For all his Hot Wing variations, click here.

You can’t go wrong with nachos – easy and easy to pile high with your favorites ingredients.

Here’s a kinda healthy version: Black Bean and Corn Nachos, recipe here.

JeffreyW gets creative with his pizzas, here , herehere  and if you want to see them all, here (the man does love a good pizza).

For something a little different, Buffalo Chicken Dip recipe is here.

Now it’s your turn, what are you planning on making this Sunday and more importantly what beer are you serving?  Do you make chicken wings or buy them from a favorite place? Most importantly, Broncos or Panthers?

Tonight’s featured recipes – one traditional, one a bit more creative:

Quick and Easy Chili

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 3-5 Jalapenos finely chopped (depending on heat)
  • 1/2 green pepper chopped
  • 1/2 sweet onion chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic crushed and chopped
  • Lg. can V8 Juice
  • 2 cans kidney beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 can Original Ro-Tel
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tsp cumin
  • 1/2 Tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika

Brown ground beef and drain. Saute jalapenos, green pepper, onion and garlic. In large pot combine all ingredients bring to boil. Lower heat and simmer, covered for at least 30 minutes.

In my house we serve chili with fritos and shredded cheddar, layered in a bowl – fritos, chili, cheese and more fritos.

Slow Cooker instructions:  Following instructions above, add everything to slow cooker, cook on high for 15 minutes, reduce heat to low and let simmer for 6 to 8 hours.

Also, if you are serving at a party, you can cook in large pot above for 30 minutes and then transfer to slow cooker on low or warm to keep it hot during the festivities.

Looking for a little more kicked up chili? Check out JeffreyW’s Chorizo Chili here.

And my favorites to take to a party:

Basic Tortilla Pinwheels

  • 1 (8 ounce) package whipped cream cheese
  • 10 (10 inch) flour tortillas
  • 1/2 cup green onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup black olives, chopped (optional)
  • 3/4 cup chopped ham slices

You spread the ingredients on the tortillas, roll them up and slice them into 1 inch pinwheels. Couldn’t get much easier.

So how do we add some dazzle? Flavored tortillas and a variety of fillings.

Here are some ideas I had:

Jalapeño & Cilantro Tortillas and Black Bean Tortillas

  • Cream Cheese
  • Pickled jalapenos
  • Sliced green chilies
  • Turkey
  • Salsa
  • Black olives
  • Shredded cheddar cheese

Roasted Red Pepper Tortillas and Sun-dried Tomato & Basil Tortillas

  • Cream cheese mixed with crushed roasted garlic
  • Spinach
  • Pepperoni
  • Grated Parmesan

=============

What will you be doing during the big game? Have any fun snack recipes to share? Don’t be shy, I’m always looking for something new and unusual.

I will have a Bixby/Scout update this weekend! And I have the makings for a post on how to overcome the winter cooking blues (when I really need to have some lighter, fresher dinner ingredients about this time of  year). Until then…



 

Gadget Post – Ball Jam Machine

I don’t have the recipe down yet  The recipe booklet that came with the machine give reduced sugar variants on the recipes.  I went with the reduced sugar recipe for some blueberries that I bought frozen.  The recipes all claim to produce 2 pints of jam but I have had two batches produce 3 pints when I followed a recipe.  The strawberry recipe I found online and was for Splenda, the blueberry recipe was from the booklet.  Neither produced jam that set.  Both were pourable.Not a big problem but it has been disappointing so far.

Friday Recipe Exchange: Filled Shortbread Cookies

Filled shortbread cookies

That blemish on that strawberry is going to haunt me. But the cookies were delicious. A bit of cooking going on this week. I’m also putting together my menu for my June visitors, which will probably be the topic for the next several recipe exchanges.

Tonight’s feature recipe was going to be used during that visit, but I won’t lie to you, it’s labor intensive and I decided there would be too much going on to try and attempt them. This is why I test-drive recipes. I refuse to be a tied to the kitchen when I could be having fun with my guests.

Before we get to that recipe, here is what else was cookin’ in my kitchen this week:

Rotelle No-Boil Pasta Bake – quick, easy and I love the little wheels. Click here for the recipe.

Leftover raspberries went into a nice salad: Pear-Raspberry Salad, recipe here.

Spring Roll step 1

And this week’s dinner menu was Chicken Satay and Thai Spring Rolls. Menu, recipe and shopping list are here and photo instructions for the spring rolls are here.

No Bixby this week (although his resistance video got picked up by I Love Great Danes and he’s quite popular. Insists on wearing shades when we walk now – no autographs please). But here is a little kitteh to end your week. She rules the big guy.

What’s on your plate this weekend? Have any warm weather recipes to share? Grilling, fresh greens, fun sweet treats?

Tonight’s featured recipe:

Raspberry and Strawberry Filled Shortbread Cookies

I was going to make my own filling, but when I realized how labor intensive rolling out shortbread dough was going to be, I went will all-fruit style jams instead.

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • dash of salt
  • 2-1/2 cup unbleached flour
  • fruit filling – I went with strawberry (hearts) and raspberry (circles)
  • parchment paper (not optional)

cookie cutters (sharper the better), rolling pin, baking sheets

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add salt and then flour, about a third at a time, mixing gently until all flour is incorporated.  Divide dough in half. Place one half on parchment sheet, cover with another sheet of parchment and roll to about 1/8 inch thick. Place on a baking sheet. Repeat with the second section of dough. Place baking sheet in the refrigerator and cool for an hour.

Remove one of the dough parchment packets (keep the other refrigerated until ready to use). Peel off the top piece of parchment and cut out the large shapes, then for half the shapes, use a smaller cookie cutter to cut out the center. Move the center pieces from the center to the parchment, so they don’t bake back together. I used the center pieces to make sandwich cookies. Place the parchment on a baking sheet and bake at 300 degrees (f) for about 15 to 20 minutes – remove them when they are light golden. Because they are thinner than regular shortbread, keep a good eye on them, they cook up quickly.

Repeat with the second parchment packet.

Remove cookies and let cool thoroughly before assembling. To assemble, place a spoonful of fruit filling in the center of the whole cookie and GENTLY press the cut out cookie on the top, allowing the fruit filling to spread to the edges and fill the center. (Resist the urge to lick the edges to smooth them out) Serve the centers plain or make fruit filled sandwich cookies as desired.

Makes about two dozen, depending on the size of the cookie cutters.

That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend – TaMara



 

Friday Recipe Exchange: Lots of Kabobs

Kabobs

Happy Labor Day weekend. This will be a quick exchange before I run out the door. Oh, I’m not going anywhere for the weekend, we’re still working on potty training with Bixby. LOL. His latest update is here.

I decided on shish kabobs for the recipe exchange because they are a favorite for large get-togethers. I can prepare them a day ahead and then pop them on the grill when guests arrive. They cook up quick and everyone can get theirs cooked to their idea of perfection. And if you’re lucky and everyone is staying at your house, you can form an assembly line to put them together.

Pictured above is one of my go-to skewers, easy marinade and simple to assemble for a small family dinner or a big get-together. It’s equal parts vegetable oil, soy sauce, lemon juice, and toss in some crushed garlic cloves. Mix together and marinate cubed pieces of steak (sirloin works well) for at least an hour or overnight. I remove the steak pieces from the marinade and then toss the veggies with the marinade quickly before alternating meat, vegetables and pineapple chunks on skewers. The ones above really need some cherry tomatoes, too. Grill over high heat, turning frequently until steak is cooked to desired style.

Some other fun food on a stick:

Fajita Chicken and Vegetable Kabobs can be found here.

Grilled Chicken and Papaya Skewers are here.

Lamb Kabobs recipe is here.

And a variety of other Marinades can be found here, to create any number of skewers to grill.

What’s on your plate for the weekend? Grilling anything tasty?

For tonight’s featured recipe, I thought it would be fun to make sure dessert was included in the mix.

Spicy Fruit Kabobs

You can substitute or add any fresh fruit you’d like in this recipe. 

  • 1 cantaloupe or honeydew melon, seeded
  • 2 pears, cored
  • 2 apples, cored
  • 2 bananas, peeled & quartered
  • 8 wooden skewers, soaked in water
  • ½ cup warmed honey
  • ½ cup warm water
  • ¼ cup limejuice
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded & chopped
  • 1 to 2 tsp chili paste

13×9 glass baking dish, blender

Cut fruit into large chunks, alternate fruit on skewers, ending with banana chunks to hold fruit in place. Place in baking dish. Blend together honey, water, lime, jalapeno & chili paste until smooth. Pour over fruit. Let set during dinner (approximately 30 minutes at room temperature. Grill over low coals 5-7 minutes, basting with marinade. Serve immediately.

Banana Split Kabobs

(serves 4)

  • 12 fresh large strawberries, hulled
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 bananas, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 12 fresh pineapple chunks
  • pound cake, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • chocolate syrup
  • shredded, unsweetened coconut

4 long bamboo skewers, 4 dessert plates

Roll strawberries in sugar, coating lightly. Alternate fruit and cake on the skewers. Place on plates and drizzle with chocolate syrup and garnish with coconut. Serve with additional syrup for dipping if desired.

That’s it for this week. Have a safe and fun holiday weekend.  – TaMara

========================

 

Thursday Recipe Exchange: Rice

JeffreyW makes a delicious rice side.

Rice is a staple in my house. I usually make a big batch and serve it with various things over the week. I’ve even switched over to brown rice pastas which I find far superior to most wheat pastas. Let’s get right to it. Here’s an overview of various types of rice:

Brown rice – I prefer long grain, though at the local Asian market I can get brown jasmine, basmati and aborio fairly easily, each with a unique flavor. Brown rice is nutty and a bit sweet.  It’s a great compliment with any fish, beef, poultry or pork.  The only addition it needs is a touch of butter and salt.  Besides being full of flavor, it is also packed with nutrients.  Per cup it has 5 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and niacin, as well as other vitamins and minerals.  It’s a great side that adds flavor to many dishes.  Brown rice cooks like regular rice in a 2:1 ratio of water to rice.  But it takes longer to cook.  About 45 minutes at a low simmer.

I still use white rice, though.  White rice varieties are more delicate and are necessary when you want the rice to take on the flavor of a sauce or spice.  Brown rice’s rich flavor can overpower the balance of flavors in some dishes.

Jasmine—A long grain rice, delicately fragrant, soft, moist and slightly sticky, compliments any Asian dish.

Arborio (white) – A medium grain rice, with a chalky white appearance. It is this chalky area that makes this grain unique, allowing the grains to absorb unusually large amounts of liquid and hence flavor during cooking. This is also what makes it especially suited to risottos, paellas, dolmades and other Mediterranean dishes.

Basmati— An aromatic long grain rice that has the unusual characteristic of doubling in length but not width during cooking. This dry, separating grain is especially suited to Indian and Middle Eastern dishes, such as curries, pilafs.

Time to hit the comments with some of your favorite rice dishes.  I’m curious if anyone makes a good paella. Next week: Soup

Now here’s a little something with brown rice:

Chicken and Rice Wraps

Substitute raspberries, peaches or plums if you like.

  • 2 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed
  • 1 cup baby spinach leaves
  • 1 cup sliced strawberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup cooked brown or wild rice
  • 4 large tortillas (flavored ok)

Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup Raspberry Dressing
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • Fresh mint

Mix together chicken, spinach, strawberries, pecans and rice. Mix together dressing ingredients, toss with chicken mixture. Let sit 15 minutes or more. Roll 1/4 of mixture in each tortilla.


Thursday Recipe Exchange: Super Bowl!

JeffreyW's Awesome Nachos look "super" in a "bowl"

It’s that time again.  Super Bowl Sunday, when you sit down to stuff your face with favorite snack foods, drink beer and watch the Super Bowl Commercials.  I think there is some football in there somewhere.  What’s on your Super Bowl party menu? Do you make your own snacks or go for the quick and reliable chips and dips?  Need some ideas for quick and easy snacks?

You can’t go wrong with nachos – easy and easy to pile high with your favorites ingredients. Here’s rather healthy (?) version: Black Bean and Corn Nachos,  JeffreyW gets a little more creative with his pizzas, here , here and here (the man does love a good pizza).

I’ll never turn down nachos, or pizza for that matter, but when I was thinking about favorite party foods, tortilla pinwheels came up pretty quickly.  So many things you can do with them. Four variations follow.

Now it’s your turn, what are you planning on making this Sunday and more importantly what beer are you serving?  Who has the best recipe for hot wings, a football must have food? (Up next week: Slow Cooker/Crock-Pot ideas)

Basic Tortilla Pinwheels

  • 1 (8 ounce) package whipped cream cheese
  • 10 (10 inch) flour tortillas
  • 1/2 cup green onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup black olives, chopped (optional)
  • 3/4 cup chopped ham slices

You spread the ingredients on the tortillas, roll them up and slice them into 1 inch pinwheels. Couldn’t get much easier.

So how do we add some dazzle? Flavored tortillas and a variety of fillings.

Here are some ideas I had:

Jalapeño & Cilantro Tortillas and Black Bean Tortillas

  • Cream Cheese
  • Pickled jalapenos
  • Sliced green chilies
  • Turkey
  • Salsa
  • Black olives
  • Shredded cheddar cheese

Roasted Red Pepper Tortillas and Sun-dried Tomato & Basil Tortillas

  • Cream cheese mixed with crushed roasted garlic
  • Spinach
  • Pepperoni
  • Grated parmesan

Plain Tortillas and Whole Wheat Tortillas

  • Cream cheese
  • All-fruit style strawberry preserves
  • Crushed red pepper flakes

The list is endless, limited only by your creativity.

Cross-posted at Balloon-Juice.

Holiday Gift Ideas: Fruit Pie Cookies

I made these last year.  These cookies are so pretty they make a great addition to any holiday cookie platter or box.

The recipe is for apple filling, but I then did another batch using strawberry, blueberry and apple fillings. I made 3 dozen, 12 of each flavor.  Strawberry, Blueberry and Apple.  It took 1 cup of fruit for each dozen.  The only changes I made was to use a splash of lemon juice in the blueberries and strawberries, instead of cinnamon and nutmeg.

From Oct 2010 (click over for more pictures).

I’m going to declare this recipe a success.  These are really good, not too sweet thanks to the butter cookie base.  I made a half batch, my usual technique when working on a recipe.  I wish I’d made a whole batch.  Partly because they are really good, but also because they are time consuming to mix.

I’ve had the idea in my head for a while and it just took some time for the whole thing to kind of come together.  It’s part butter cookie, part apple pie, part apple crisp – I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed making it.

Apple Pie Cookies

Butter Cookie Base:

  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups flour

Apple Pie Filling:

  • 2 Golden or Granny Smith, or other firm, apples – cored and chopped into small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 2 tablespoons water (as needed)

Crumble Topping:

  • 2 tbsp butter, soften
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats (not instant)

Bowl, saucepan, min-muffin pan, wax paper

In bowl, cream together butter and sugar, add cinnamon and vanilla, mix well. Add flour, blend until well mixed, but do not over beat. Spread onto wax paper and roll into a long tube, about 1-1/2” in diameter. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, until chilled and firm.

Meanwhile, in saucepan, melt butter and add apples and simmer on medium to medium-low. Mix together brown sugar and spices, add to simmering apples, mix in well. When apples are softened, sprinkle flour over them, mix in, add water as necessary to create a thick syrup. Let simmer on low until you are ready to use.

In bowl, cut together butter, flour and oats until fine crumbles.

To assemble: spray muffin pan with oil, remove dough from refrigerator, cut twelve 1/4-inch slices from the dough, then replace remainder back into the refrigerator. Press each disk into the muffin pan, making a little bowl. Add apple mixture and top with crumbles. Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cool slightly before removing from the pan. They should slip out pretty easily – I used a knife to help slip them out. Makes 36 cookies.

You’ll have to let the pan cool just a bit before you assemble the next batch, as the butter cookies melt pretty quickly.