Not Your Average Salsa

fruit_salsaI served this fruit salsa at a party I hosted over Labor Day Weekend and it was a huge hit. The original recipe from allrecipes.com suggests making your own cinnamon and sugar pita chips but I prefer to just buy Stacy’s Cinnamon and Sugar Pita chips (not really worth making your own).

Ingredients

  • 2 Kiwis peeled and diced
  • 2 McIntosh Apples peeled, cored and diced
  • 8 oz Raspberries, diced
  • 1 lb Strawberries, diced
  • 1 Tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons any flavor fruit preserves
  • Stacy’s Cinnamon and Sugar Pita Chips

How to Make it

  1. Mix everything into a bowl and refridgerate for at least 15 minutes.

Helpful Hints

  • Make this the night before! The prep will take some time so getting it done ahead of time will reduce your stress.
  • You can probably use whatever fruit you have laying around. I would stay away from bananas and melon – they tend to make everything taste like themselves.

Photo by the-girl-who-ate-everything.com.

Posted in Food | Leave a comment

August and September: Whats in Season

squashback720Okay so I missed August. It always goes by so fast and before I know it I have anxiety about going back to school (even though its been 6+ years). Anyway, berry season is wrapping up so its a good time to stock your freezer if you want them throughout the year. It’s time to get ready for Fall!

Apples (August-November): If you haven’t read my post about apples you can read it here. One word: McIntosh.

Winter Squash (August – December): Winter squash is a broad term for basically all squash that you see in the supermarket (butternut, acorn, spaghetti etc.). It is harvested at the end of August through October and is great for soups. Epicurious has a great winter squash guide here.

Flowers

My favorite fall flowers are the Chrysanthemum and Alstroemeria.

Posted in Food | Leave a comment

June and July: What’s in Season

Soo many berriesJune and July are my favorite months for berries. There are a lot that you can pick your self to use immediately or freeze to use later. I love to pick olallieberries for jam and strawberries for pie. I will also freeze a bunch to use in smoothies and pies throughout the year.

Olallieberries (June): An olallieberry is a cross between a youngberry and a loganberry. Each of these is a cross between a blackberry and a raspberry and a dewberry respectively. It looks like a blackberry but it has a great sweet and tart taste that makes it great for jams and pies. Olallieberry vodka is also awesome!

Strawberries (June-July): Strawberries have been around for a looong time and were even mentioned in ancient Roman literature. Technically strawberry season starts in May but I don’t like to pick them until June. I could eat my weight in raw strawberries but they are great in pies and mashed up on top of angel food cake with some whipped cream.

Raspberries (Mid June – July): Raspberries always remind me of my childhood. We had a couple of bushes in our backyard and my sisters and I would pick the ripe ones everyday. Pies and jams need a lot of fruit and since raspberries tend to be a little more expensive, I like to eat them raw.

Tips for picking your own:

  • Call ahead to see what time they open, what is available to pick and how much everything is per pound.
  • Bring cash and your own containers. Most places will have something you can buy if you don’t have anything at home to bring.
  • Think about what you are picking. If the bushes have thorns it is a good idea to bring some gardening gloves or you will be picking thorns out of your skin for weeks.
  • It is best to go when they open. Most places designate a certain area for picking each day. When the berries are gone they’re gone. It will also get really hot when noon rolls around.

Flowers

My favorite summer flowers are Gladiolus, Hydrangea and Iris.

Posted in Food | Leave a comment

May: What’s in Season

Okay, so May is half way over but I wanted to start a new category called “What’s in Season” so I can share fruits and veggies that you should look for at your local market. These choices should also be on sale at larger stores. There are about 50 fruits and veggies in season in May but here are a few that have seasons that are just starting, ending or are short. For a complete list visit The Southland Farmers Market Association.

Season is almost over!

Dates (January-May): Dates are thought to have originated from lands around Iraq and are mainly produced in the middle east. They are usually enjoyed pitted and dried and are delicious stuffed with cheeses and wrapped in bacon. 🙂
Cherries (April-May): Cherries are great right out of the bag but they are awesome in pies, jams, cobblers and even brandied. Look for cherries that are firm and glossy with the stems still attached. For pies and jams use sour cherries. I love Rainier cherries which are yellow with a kiss of pinkish red.

Season is just starting!

Apricots (May-June): Apricots are a great fruit to pick your self. They make great jams and go well with pork (apricot chutney?).
Figs (May-August): The fig is originally from the middle east and is one of the first plants cultivated by humans. If you can find fresh figs look for slightly wrinkled (but still plump) figs that are not weeping or leaking. Fresh figs are great in salads with goat cheese, arugula, radicchio, prosciutto and green apples.
Pears (May-October): Pears are interesting because not everyone likes their texture. My husband thinks they are a sweet version of a potato and will go on and on about how much he hates them. I tend to like them but only very ripe bartlett pears. They also go very well with pork.
Plums (May-September): Plums have really pretty flowers and are great raw. They are also awesome in a cobbler with some ice cream on top! I have found a decent amount of information about making plumb gin (fill a bottle of gin 1/3 full of chopped plums, 6-8 oz plain sugar, fill to top with gin, let sit for 4 months agitating weekly). I will try this and report back. 🙂

Flowers

My favorite spring flowers are daffodils, tulips and dahlia. Contrary to popular belief, Easter Lilies do not naturally bloom in spring. The bulbs need to be exposed to at least 40 weeks of “fake winter” and then bloom at a much higher temperature in a green house. If Easter Lilies were left to mother nature, they would bloom in mid summer.

Posted in Food | Leave a comment

The Best Breakfast for the Best Mom!

I have always been a huge fan of breakfast – I even served it at my wedding! It’s my favorite meal to share with friends and family and in case you have been living under a rock – this Sunday is Mother’s Day! Here is a really easy pancake recipe to show Mom how much you care.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • Cooking spray

How to Make Them

  1. Combine the milk and vinegar in a large bowl and set aside for 5 minutes to “sour”.
  2. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a mixing bowl.
  3. Whisk the egg into the soured milk.
  4. Pour the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and whisk until lumps are gone.
  5. Heat a large skillet or frying pan over medium heat and coat with cooking spray.
  6. Pour 1/4 cup of batter onto the skillet, and cook until bubbles appear on the surface.
  7. Flip with a spatula, and cook until browned on the other side.

Helpful Hints

  • Add 1 cup of fresh blueberries to the batter for a easy twist or cut up some strawberries to serve on the side.
  • Bake some bacon using my hands off approach while you are mixing up the pancakes!
  • Any Mother’s Day breakfast isn’t complete without a mimosa! Pour a glass of champagne and top it off with just a little orange juice.

Recipe courtesy of Allrecipes.com (with a little twist).

Posted in Food | Leave a comment

The Best Super Bowl Party Foods

The Super Bowl is right around the corner and is the perfect excuse to get together with friends, have a couple of beers and make a mess. Most people don’t expect too much but it is a good idea to have some food for grazing and getting pizza, subs or some type of delivery at half time is always appreciated. Here are some ideas for my favorite snacks during the game.

Guacamole

This party favorite is a good source of healthy fats and tastes great with tortilla or pita chips. Check out my favorite recipe from Alton Brown. If you don’t feel like making it Whole Foods has the best ready made guacamole (although a little expensive).

Pulled Pork

Pulled pork is a great alternative to the tired pizza and wings. Pick up some mini rolls and your guests can create their own sliders. I recommend Sweet Baby Rays Original barbecue sauce. You can also make some jalapeno cornbread to go with it!

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Ill admit this doesn’t exactly look appetizing, but it tastes great and I always have friends request it. This Buffalo dip goes great with tortilla chips, bread or just about anything.

Treats

For a quick dessert check out my rice crispy treat recipe. Everyone will reminisce about how long its been since they’ve had one. Add some team spirit by stirring in a couple drops of food coloring to the melted marshmallow to support your favorite team!

Bean Dip

Don’t have time to make anything? Stop by your local Trader Joe’s and pick up their taco seasoned beef, bean and cheese dip. It was rated the best bean and cheese based dip by Bon Appetit. Check out the runner up and the dips to avoid here.

If you’re really pumped for the game try making the amazing food stadium from holytaco pictured above. Desperate? Lazy? KFC Game Day Bucket Go Boom.

Posted in Food | Leave a comment

Simple Stock

It’s the perfect time of year for soups and stews and one of the key ingredients to these dishes is stock. Stock is made from a few key components: chicken or beef bones and mirepoix. Mirepoix is a classic combination of equal parts celery, carrots and onion. After you make the stock, you can freeze it, use it right away or store it in the fridge for about four days.

Ingredients

  • Leftover chicken or beef bones (whatever you have is fine)
  • One onion, cut in half, skin on
  • Two carrots, unpeeled, broken in half
  • Two celery stalks, broken in half

How to Make It

  1. Add all of the veggies and bones to a large pot.
  2. Fill the pot with water.
  3. Add one tablespoon peppercorns and two bay leaves.
  4. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for about two hours.
  5. After two hours, strain the stock into a bowl and dispose of the veggies and bones.
  6. Use right away, storge in the fridge until you are ready to use it or freeze.

Helpful Hints

  • I like to use chicken on the bone in my stock. I then use the chicken in the soup that I am making after I remove all the bones.
  • I usually don’t add salt to my stock until it is incorporated with all the other components in my soup. If you would like to add salt, add a teaspoon at a time, wait a couple of minutes and then taste again. If it needs more, repeat.
  • If you want to make a vegetable stock, don’t add the bones!
Posted in Food | Leave a comment

Great Alternatives to Burgers and Dogs

Summer is here and everyone is planning their barbeque for the 4th! If you are tired of the same old hamburgers and hotdogs try one of these crock pot recipes. They are quick and easy to prepare and you can leave them in the warm crock pot throughout the day.

Surprisingly Healthy Shredded Buffalo Chicken

BBQ Pulled Pork

Mexican Style Shredded Chicken

Need something to drink? These are great for a big crowd.

Sangria!

Refreshing Fruit Water

Spiked Sweet Tea

Posted in Food | Leave a comment

Mexican Style Shredded Chicken

The crock-pot is great for Mexican food that needs to be cooked at a low temperature for a long time. This shredded chicken is great for burritos, tacos, nachos or sandwiches. Try it this weekend for Cinco de Mayo!

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth

How to make it

  1. In a small bowl combine chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper and mix well.
  2. Rub the mixture into the chicken breasts and place them into a crock pot.
  3. Add the onions and pour the chicken broth over everything.
  4. Cover and cook on low for at least 6 hours.
  5. Shred chicken in crock pot with forks and serve (Serves 8-10).

Helpful Hints

  • If you don’t have chicken broth you can make some with a cup of hot water and a chicken bouillon cube.
  • If you forget to defrost your chicken, throw it in frozen! Just give it a couple more hours to cook.
  • Prepare the seasoning mix the night before and place it in a ziploc bag overnight to marinate with the chicken and chopped onion. In the morning, you can just dump the contents of the bag into the crock pot and add the chicken broth.

Recipe courtesy of The Everything Tex-Mex Cookbook by Linda Larsen (recipe pg 150).

Posted in Food | Leave a comment

A Reuben with a twist

One of my favorite sandwiches – born in the early 1900’s – is the Reuben. Traditionally, Reubens are made with 1000 Island Dressing and I don’t really care for it – but I LOVE mustard (the Dijon kind – keep that yellow stuff away from me!). With St. Patty’s Day coming up tomorrow a Reuben will be perfect for your left over corned beef.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 lb corned beef
  • 1-15 oz can of sauerkraut
  • 8 slices Swiss cheese
  • Spicy Dijon mustard
  • 8 slices Rye bread
  • Butter

How to Make Them

  1. Brown sauerkraut in a saute pan until dry
  2. Butter one side of each slice of rye bread
  3. Lay one piece of bread in a cold frying pan butter side down and spread Dijon mustard over the top
  4. Add three slices of corned beef
  5. Pile high with the browned sauerkraut
  6. Add two slices of Swiss Cheese
  7. Top the sandwich with the other piece of buttered bread, buttered side up
  8. Cover with a lid and turn burner on low
  9. Cook until golden brown and then flip to cook the other side
  10. Keep covered until cheese is melted
  11. Makes 4 sandwiches

Helpful Hints

  • I like to start off with a cold frying pan because it allows you to get a nice golden brown on the bread without burning it AND it gives the cheese enough time to melt. If you are making more then one sandwich check out the next hint below.
  • If you are making these for your whole family, saute the sauerkraut and warm the corned beef in the microwave or oven (be careful not to dry it out). Lightly toast the bread in the toaster and make the sandwiches on a baking sheet. Before adding the sauerkraut place the sandwiches under the broiler to melt the cheese. Add the sauerkraut and the top slice of lightly toasted bread.
Posted in Food | 1 Comment