Appetizers, Drinks


Recipe ReDux

This month’s Recipe Redux theme is “Beat the summer heat with no-cook meals!” Two weeks of hot and humid weather made it easy to be creative with cold foods, and using fresh, raw ingredients only made it better. I was already planning on making a watermelon soup for this month’s recipe redux. But it needed more than just the refreshing watermelon. I needed it to hit your taste buds in all the right ways, and I think I found just the way to do it.

This cold soup is incredibly refreshing on a hot day. The tartness of lime, the bit of heat from cayenne, and the fresh greens make this a delicious and nutritious soup or on-the-go drink. To serve it up with a color on each side, I used a piece of foil to make a ‘divider’ and poured the chilled soups on either side, then carefully removed the foil. It won’t be a perfect pattern, but have fun with it!

Refreshing and colorful, this Green Watermelon Soup is packed with vitamins and minerals.

Green Watermelon Soup

Watermelon puree:
3 cups chopped watermelon
1 1/2 – 2 teaspoons agave (if your watermelon is super sweet, you may not need any)
pinch cayenne pepper
pinch salt
1 tablespoon vodka (keeps it from getting too icy)

Add everything to blender and combine on low speed. Transfer to shallow bowl. Chill for 1 hour or until slushy with ice forming around the edges.

Green puree:

2 cups kale, baby spinach, or combination of both, loosely packed (note: you could also use wheat grass if you like, just omit/reduce agave)
1/2 cup slushy watermelon puree
1/4  large apple, finely chopped or grated
1/2 lime, membrane removed & chopped
1 teaspoon agave
pinch salt
3 ice cubes, crushed

Add everything to blender, combine on medium speed to crush ice, about 10 seconds, then combine on low for another 20 seconds or well-combined.

Assembly: transfer watermelon slush to a measuring cup and stir to break up icy chunks so you can pour easily. Tear a small sheet of foil to use as a ‘divider’ to be placed in the middle of your soup bowl. Simultaneously pour red and green mixtures into bowl on either side of foil. Enjoy immediately.



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Happy Wednesday  everyone! Hope summer has been treating you well. It’s been hot and dry, and our poor lawn would love a good shower. On the upside: no bug bites for five whole days!

I’m combining my usual Flavor of the Week I normally post on Mondays with Wednesday’s WIAW sponsored by the wonderful Jenn at Peas and Crayons, so the Flavor of the Week is…PINEAPPLE!

There’s lots of ways to enjoy this bromelian beauty, and not just in fruit salads or pina coladas. Today I’ll be sharing a delicious and refreshing drink that not only helps beat the summer heat, but aids in digestion and supplies your body with lots of nutrients including calcium, protein, and Vitamin C.

Today I had a rather healthy appetite, so after my morning exercise I started the day with a pretty good breakfast:

Coffee, fried egg, toast, and fruit salad with a little chopped tomato sprinkled with a tiny pinch of salt (try it, it’s good!)

Here’s a close-up of the fruit salad, see the tomatoes? And tiny grains of salt on the grapes? Tasty!

Just a few pieces of fruit chopped up makes a great fruit salad. Add some chopped tomato and a teeny pinch of salt and you made it even better!

I was hungry sooner than I thought (2 1/2 hours later.) Lunch was leftover fish with orange-shoyu sauce with green beans and rice:

Fish with orange-shoyu sauce, green beans, rice & apple slices with Celestial Seasonings Blueberry Breeze tea.

Later on I was STILL hungry so snacked on some blue corn chips and a nice, big medjool date (no photo.)

Work has been a bit hectic the past few days, and I didn’t feel like cooking but wanted some good comfort food. My husband and I checked out The Hitchin’ Post Restaurant, just a few miles from where we are. Everything on the menu sounded great, but I decided on their Hitchin’ Post favorite, Seafood Dijon (sp?). It was served hot n’ fresh from the oven with the smell of buttery, garlicky goodness wafting up from the dish:

Seafood in a butter-garlic-wine sauce topped with a Parmesan crust and baked ’till bubbly!

If you can imagine two plump scallops the size of marshmallows, two pieces of succulent shrimp, tender flaky pieces of halibut and chunks of sweet crab meat simmered in a butter-garlic-wine sauce…that is what melted my socks off at dinner! :) It was such a treat, and I savored every bite. But after such a heavy meal, I needed something to help ease my stomach and satisfy my sweet tooth. We didn’t order dessert, but I came home and made something that would be the perfect finish: pineapple lassi.

Pineapple is one of my favorite fruits, and my Uncle Kenneth (the one who grows coffee) grows white pineapple that is so incredibly sweet, you’d think it was infused with sugar. But no matter what variety you have on hand, all pineapples contain an enzyme, bromelian, that helps with digestion by breaking down proteins in your gut. Pairing that with the beneficial bacteria found in dairy yogurt and you’ve got a delicious digestive aid.

Quick, easy and refreshing Pineapple Lassi.

Pineapple Lassi

Ingredients:

6 oz plain nonfat yogurt with active cultures
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh pineapple, core removed
1/4 cup fresh chopped orange, about 3-4 segments (optional)
1 teaspoon orange-agave syrup or regular agave syrup or honey
1/4 cup water (optional)

Directions:

Put everything except water in a blender and blend on medium to medium-high until smooth. Add water to thin, if needed. Add more syrup to taste. Garnish with fruit and mint (that one in the middle is pineapple mint!) Makes about 18 ounces.

Tasty and refreshing, this pineapple lassi is chock-full of vitamins and minerals.

What’s your favorite drink to beat the summer heat?

Several weeks ago I got a care package from my parents. In addition to mom’s delicious cookies, Uncle Kenneth’s coffee and some nori rice crackers, I had a special request for these home grown beauties:

Mom and Dad’s vanilla

Gorgeous, plump pods of flavor-packed vanilla! My parents have several vanilla plants growing outside the house. They’re orchid plants, and are not easy to cultivate because they require self-pollination from a specific type of insect. To make it even more difficult, the flowers bloom for only one day, making the window of opportunity rather small for natural reproduction. My dad keeps an eye out for blooming buds, so when the opportunity arises, he uses a ball-point pen to transport the microscopic pollen from stamen to pistil, then lets nature take care of the rest.  Here’s the ripening fruit of the plant several days after pollination, the dried blossoms are shriveled and ready to fall off the ends:

Vanilla plant, image source: http://www.orchidsasia.com/vanil16.htm.

Pretty amazing, isn’t it? And after several months of staying on the vine, they are ready to be harvested, dried, and used in your culinary delights.

Everybody is familiar with the distinct taste of vanilla, which is often second-banana to chocolate (did you know that both were cultivated by the Aztecs?)  and we often take this rather nondescript flavor for granted. But vanilla is a truly wonderful spice that not only gives its own easily recognizable flavor, but enhances others, including chocolate.

Chocolate just wouldn’t be chocolate without vanilla.

So how about adding some vanilla to your life? Let’s start of with the basics:

Vanilla Bean Syrup – Bring 1/2 cup water and 1 cup sugar to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat. Add 1 split vanilla bean, scraping both pod and seeds into mixture, stir and let cool. Reserve the vanilla pod and dry completely before storing for other uses. Pour into clean glass jar, keep tightly closed and let sit one day before using.

Vanilla Bean Paste – Scrape a vanilla bean and mix just enough light corn syrup to make a paste. Can use in place of vanilla extract.

Vanilla Extract – In a jar or bottle, add 2 cups of vodka and 6 vanilla beans. Store in a cool, dark place and let age for 4-6 months, shaking the bottle once a week to distribute the flavors.

Vanilla Sugar – Place a split pod in your sugar container for a delicate fragrance and hint of vanilla flavor.

Beautiful glistening seeds from a Tahitian vanilla pod.

Now that you have the basics, here are some recipes to use your newly made concoctions:

Vanilla Cream Soda – Mix vanilla bean syrup with cold seltzer and add a couple drops of lemon juice.

Panna Cotta (from epicurious.com)In a small bowl, sprinkle 1 envelope (1 teaspoon) gelatin over 2 tablespoons water, let soften for about ten minutes. Menwhile, in a medium saucepan bring 2 1/2 cups heavy cream, 1/2 cup whole milk and 1/3 cup sugar to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in gelatin until dissolved. Split a 2″ piece vanilla pod, scraping seeds and adding into milk mixture (alternatively, add 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract.) Divide between four ramekins, chill 8 hours or overnight. (options: float 1 star anise in each ramekin, serve with fresh mixed berries, or top with fruit compote.)

Spiced Vanilla Peach Jam – This was an accident when I tried making Rem Cooks’ Vanilla Peach Butter by following his recipe for Spiced Peach Preserves. As I was heating the peaches I thought, “Boy this smells great…but where’s the vanilla?” Looking over his post, I realized it was the wrong recipe! After pulling up the correct recipe I decided it would be easier to make a few modifications and simply add the vanilla bean. It still came out tasty, especially by following his lead and having it with cream cheese on sourdough toast…delicious!

Ingredients:

2 cups peaches peeled, pitted & roughly chopped
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
tiny pinch nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
4″ piece vanilla bean, split and scraped
4 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest

Directions:

Put everything in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil for 15 minutes or until peaches break up into smaller pieces. Remove from heat and let cool before transferring to a clean glass jar. Will keep in refrigerator for about 10 days.

This peach jam is great on toast, or as a glaze for chicken, ham, or roast pork loin.

In addition to all this sweetness, vanilla can also be used to enhance the flavor of savory dishes, and on Wednesday I will post a special recipe I concocted to celebrate my second wedding anniversary! Here’s a sneak peek at what I’m talking about:

Vanilla can season even the most savory of dishes!

More vanilla goodness coming your way, so stay tuned!

Last week I posted a recipe for radler, a refreshing lemonade-beer concoction perfect for enjoying on a beautiful sunny barbecuey day. I was about to make more ginger lemonade and decided to zest them before I cut them in half. Normally I would use the juiced lemon halves when washing dishes (it helps cut grease, I “wipe” my soapy pans with them) but today, in addition to saving the halves for dishwashing duty, I zested six lemons and added a cup of sugar to make a wonderfully fragrant lemon sugar:

The oils from the lemon distribute throughout the sugar, so to help reduce any excess moisture I put it in a large frying pan and heated it on low for about 5 minutes, giving it a stir every now and then. It will stay a bit clumpy because of the oils, so just let it cool down before storing it in an airtight jar and use within a few days.

You can use this sugar in any of your baked goods, tea, or wherever you want a bit of lemony sweetness. Here’s an easy recipe where lemon and coconut are combined to make a light, lemony macaroon. I adapted the recipe from one my sister gave me by replacing wheat flour with coconut flour and adding lemon juice. The macaroons came out nice and chewy with a light lemon flavor and lots of coconut throughout.

Gluten free, dairy free Coconut Lemon Macaroons

Coconut Lemon Macaroons (gluten-free)
Adapted from http://www.tasteofhome.com/Recipes/First-Place-Coconut-Macaroons

Ingredients

1-1/3 cups unsweetened flaked coconut
1/3 cup lemon sugar
2 tablespoons coconut flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 egg whites, beaten until frothy
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

In a small bowl, combine the coconut, sugar, flour and salt. Stir in egg whites and vanilla; mix well.

Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto greased baking sheets. Bake at 325° for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Yield: about 1-1/2 dozen.

 

Thanks for checking out my first “Flavor of the Week” post! Come back every Monday to see a new featured flavor at: https://thefoodery.wordpress.com/flavor-of-the-week/.

Hello, readers! I am entering my first food blog contest sponsored by Frito-Lay and presented by Recipe Redux, a monthly recipe challenge to make our favorite recipes healthier (and perhaps even tastier!) The best part about this contest is that even though I get to do all the fun cooking and blogging, you will have the opportunity to win this awesome Gluten-Free Prize Pack from Frito-Lay:

Gluten-Free Prize Pack courtesy of Frito-Lay

This prize pack includes:

– A chip and dip serving tray
– One bag each of Lay’s Classic potato chips and Tostitos Scoops! tortilla chips
– One copy of Nicole Hunn’s “Gluten Free on a Shoestring”

All you need to do to enter is leave a comment on this blog post and tell me what is your favorite gluten-free Frito-Lay snack…that’s it! But be sure to do it before midnight on Thursday, May 31st. If you’d like to increase your chance of winning, just refer a friend to follow my blog, send an email to me at thefooderyblog@gmail.com (or just message me in this post) to let me know who it is and I’ll TRIPLE your chances of winning! Be sure your friend comments on this post afterwards, and they’ll have a chance of winning, too!

I’ll announce the winner of this contest on Friday, June 1st. If no one claims the prize by Monday, June 3rd, I’ll announce the runner-up winner on Tuesday (I have to turn in the winner’s info in by the 8th!) Good luck to all!

Now, for my Frito-Lay gluten-free recipe submission! I like the idea of having mini-sized snacks because they seem special in their own little way, like they were made just for you. I used Tostitos Scoops! for this reason, and the big challenge was to create a tasty appetizer filling these little crispy Scoops, but not causing the chip to become too soggy.

I decided that mini-quiches would make a great gluten-free redux (did you know Frito-Lay Tostitos corn chips are only made with corn, oil and salt? Simple is good!) This recipe is fast, ingredients are readily available, and they have as much flavor in each little bite as the traditional flour crust recipe. I made a tray of these in my toaster oven and they came out perfectly. They cool off fairly quickly, so transfer them immediately from oven dish to serving patter and they’re ready to eat!

Mini Quiche Scoops

Mini Quiche Scoops – makes 16

16 Tostitos Scoops chips
2 tablespoons finely shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons fnely shredded reduced fat Parmesan or Asiago cheese
1 slice bacon, excess fat removed and chopped finely
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon minced red onion
1 egg
1 tablespoon Low-Fat Greek Yogurt
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper or paprika

2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley, divided
3 grape tomatoes, sliced thinly

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a small baking pan, arrange Tostitos Scoops chips facing up, set aside. Combine cheeses in small bowl and set aside.

In a small pan, cook bacon on medium heat until almost crisp. Add 1 tablespoon minced red onion, cook 1 minute more. Remove from heat.

In a small bowl, whisk together egg, yogurt, salt and cayenne until well combined. Stir in 3 heaping tablespoons of cheese mixture. Add bacon and onion mixture and 1 teaspoon of the parsley and stir until combined.

To each Tostitos Scoops, add approximately 1 teaspoon of egg mixture, about 2/3 full. Top with additional shredded cheese, tomato slice, minced onion and parsley.

Bake for 8-10 minutes or until egg is slightly firm. Transfer to serving plate and enjoy immediately.

Tostitos Scoops filled with a savory quiche filling


Disclosure: I received free samples from Frito-Lay of the products mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe
I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by Frito-Lay and am eligible to win prizes associated with
the contest. I was not compensated for my time.



Half lemonade + half beer = one refreshing radler

After a few days of rain, we’ve been getting some nice, sunny skies and warmer weather. I can’t tell whether it’s still spring or the beginnings of summer (I am new to living with four seasons,) so whatever it is we’re having, I’m loving it!  If you are also looking to take advantage of the sunshine with a backyard barbecue or a couples-only picnic, don’t forget to mix up a batch of Spicy Ginger Lemonade, the perfect drink for sipping on sunny days. And, if you’re in the mood for something a little different (and maybe even more perfect!) why not make it a radler?

Radler is a refreshing blend of lemonade and wheat beer you can get anywhere in Germany. Served ice-cold, it is a crisp, refreshing drink with just a bit of sweetness and light citrus taste. You can easily make this with one part bottled lemonade to one part wheat beer (look for any label that says white beer, wheat beer, weissbeir or hefeweizen)  or you can use the recipe below for Spicy Ginger Lemonade.

Homemade Radler with Spicy Ginger Lemonade
using ginger juice will make it spicier than using sliced ginger simmered in sugar and water

2 cups fresh-squeezed lemon juice (about 9 large lemons)
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup sugar PLUS Stevia equivalent of 1 cup sugar (if you’re using the Truvia brand it’s 1/3 cup + 1 1/2 tablespoons)
1/4 cup fresh ginger juice* OR peel and thinly slice a 4″ pice of ginger
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
chilled seltzer, club soda or cold water
light-colored beer (such as Stella Artois (good one for this drink,) HB, Franzis Kaner Weissbeir, Blue Moon Belgian White)
lemon slices and fresh mint for garnish (optional)

*(to make ginger juice: grate two 5″ piece ginger, put pulp into cheesecloth, squeeze & twist juice into a measuring cup. Discard pulp.)

Directions:

In a medium sauce pan, stir sugar and stevia into water (add ginger slices, if using) and heat over medium high heat until it just starts to simmer, about 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Let simmer for another two minutes, turn off heat. Add lemon juice, fresh ginger juice (if using) and stir well. Remove ginger slices and stir in cayenne. Chill at least 3 hours.

In a pitcher, pour in equal amounts of concentrated lemonade mixture and chilled seltzer or club soda. Gently stir to combine. If too sweet, add more club soda to taste.

In a tall glass, fill halfway with lemonade, top with cold beer (pour slowly, see below!) You can garnish with lemon and mint sprigs to make it extra fancy. Prost!

Whoops…be careful when pouring the beer into the lemonade, especially if you’re pouring from about 10″ above the glass!

 

Be creative by using concentrated pink ginger lemonade and floating the seltzer and beer on top! (dip a slice of fresh beet into the lemonade concentrate…instant color!)

Because of the sauce ingredients this dish is not 100% raw...but oh, so close!

Just when I thought spring has sprung, the weather started getting chilly again. It rained last night and drizzled a bit today, and the creek next to our house was flowing along nicely. The snow missed us, but it looks like it’ll be pretty cold and rainy for the rest of the week. I started making some cozy comfort foods over the weekend but now it’s time to search for more recipe ideas that’s not only filling and warming, but healthy, as well.

I’ve been wanting to try some zucchini “noodles” for some time. This is nothing more than very thin-sliced zucchini that is eaten raw and in place of regular noodles, but it’s higher in vitamins and minerals, easy to prepare and there’s no cooking involved! I wanted a creamy sauce to go with it, so I searched online for a dairy-free alfredo sauce, but when I was slicing the zucchini, for some reason I just thought, “I want satay sauce!”

I love peanut butter and peanut butter-based foods, sweet or savory, they’re all delicious to me. Satay is Thai-style grilled meat skewered and cooked over hot coals. It is accompanied with a peanut dipping sauce made with peanut butter and can include a combination of coconut milk, soy sauce, or fish sauce. This peanut sauce recipe is based off the one in The Best International Recipe Cooking Light cookbook. I still had it nearby when I made their moussaka the other night, so I flipped it open and found just what I needed.

Here are the ingredients for the sauce:

L-R: Coconut milk, raw sunflower seeds, lime, patis or nampla (fish sauce,) garlic, Sriracha, peanut butter, sugar.

This Native Forest brand of coconut milk is really good. Chaokoh used to be my regular brand, then I tried this  (on sale) and noticed how much fresher the cream tastes. The Asian markets will have the coconut milk, fish sauce and Sriracha, a popular Thai hot chili sauce that is thick like ketchup but hot like Tabasco (very different flavor, though.) If your market carries ethnic foods, you’ll probably find those ingredients there.

To make the zucchini noodles you can use a vegetable spiral slicer. If you’re like me and don’t have one, you can achieve similar results with a sharp vegetable peeler and a good knife. First, remove the skin from the zucchini. Use the vegetable peeler to peel of wide slices of zucchini, rotating after every two “peels.” The zucchini was slippery, so be careful and place it on the cutting board, holding it with one hand as you cut off slices with the other.

Slice them thin like noodles then place in a bowl. I was worried they'd get brown (like apples) but they stay nice and creamy white.

Rotate and slice until you reach the seeds. Stack two or three zucchini slices and carefully slice them into thinner noodle-like strands.

I wanted something satisfying but not heavy, and this really hit the spot! And it didn’t feel like I was eating a regular salad at all. The zucchini noodles were more filling than I expected, and the savory peanut sauce was rich and velvety. I served this at room temperature and it was just right for what I wanted: a healthy, creamy, satisfying dinner with a good dose of raw veggies. More importantly, my husband also enjoyed his super-size helping of fresh veggies! There’s enough sauce for four servings, so feel free to double the salad mix, or save the leftovers for the next day. Just be sure not to store the salad and satay sauce together, it will make the veggies soggy.

Zucchini Noodle Salad with Peanut Satay Sauce

Salad:

1 zucchini, cut with a vegetable spiral slicer or sliced into thin “noodles”
1 carrot, julienned (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup shredded cabbage
1 cup chopped celery

 Toss all ingredients in a large bowl, set aside.

Peanut sauce:

3/4 cup raw sunflower seeds, soaked for 2 hours, drained
1/2 cup no-sugar/no salt peanut butter
1/2 cup coconut milk
juice of 1/2 lime, about 1/4 cup
1/4 cup fish sauce
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon Sriracha
1 teaspoon sugar (use 1/2 teaspoon if using peanut butter with sugar)

Blend all the ingredients  until smooth, sauce will be thick. Add more Sriracha and sugar to taste.

Scoop 1 cup of sauce into zucchini salad mixture, toss well to coat. Garnish with cilantro, serves two.

Drizzle Sriracha on the plate if you need some extra heat.

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