Thursday, January 24, 2013

Bloody Mary Bar – January 25, 2013

I know that the Mint Julep is the drink of the Kentucky Derby and Churchill Downs, but I’m just not a fan.  My drink at the races is a Bloody Mary.  It’s also great for a hangover brunch.  Not only that, you can feel good about getting lots of veggies with your drink.  So, New Years seemed the perfect time for a Bloody Mary bar.  And, a Bloody Mary bar seemed like a great opportunity to get out all those great pickles I made all summer.  Here is my favorite basic Bloody Mary Recipe.

 Bloody Mary

3 c. tomato juice
1 freshly squeezed lemon
2 freshly squeezed limes
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. prepared horseradish
1 tsp. Tabasco sauce
1 tsp. celery seeds
¾ tsp. pepper

Mix all ingredients except tomato juice until well blended.  Add to tomato juice and chill.  Pour 2 ounces vodka in each glass filled with ice cubes and pour Bloody Mary mix over.  Serve with a collection of veggies.  I used celery stalks plus homemade okra, carrot, cucumber and green bean pickles and store bought olives.

We had a great New Year’s Day sipping on these.  Later that week we also made two family favorites, Portuguese chicken and pizza.  We were left with lots of tomato products in the fridge – tomato juice, canned tomatoes, tomato paste and pizza sauce.  I decided to saute onions and garlic with Italian herbs in olive oil.  Then, I tossed in the tomato products and some red wine and cooked to the right consistency.  It was great with left over homemade pasta from my brother in law.

One Year Ago - Black-Eyed Peas and Black-Eyed Pea Salad

Saturday, January 19, 2013

It’s Not Easy Being Green Soup – January 20, 2013

Well, as they say, the jig is up!  All the holiday cavorting is over and it’s time to get back to work, exercise and clean living.  I am a total convert to the book, French Women Don’t Get Fat.  Learning that when my pants get a little too tight, I can spend 48 hours eating leek soup to recover has helped me maintain my weight more than anything else.  But, I was looking for a new way to ring in 2013 and I heard a radio show about Green Soup which piqued my interest.  This recipe was especially great because it has very few ingredients and the key are big bunches of greens which came in my farmer's box.

I used one bunch of kale greens and another of collards.  These are both strong greens, so if your family does not love the taste of fresh greens, you might want to start with something milder like spinach or rainbow chard.  On the other hand, if you want to really ramp up the taste, use turnip greens.

Green Soup

1 sliced onion (I actually used two large shallots)
2 T. olive oil
2 bunches greens (cleaned and chopped, removing large stems)
2 c. water
2 c. veggie broth
Red pepper flakes to taste plus Sriracha if you like
Salt and pepper
2 T. Arborio rice

Saute onion in oil until wilted, then turn down and cook another 30 minutes until carmelized.  Add greens, water and broth.  Cover and wilt.  Add rice and seasonings to taste.  Cover and cook until rice is soft.  Pour into blender and blend.

I warmed up a bowl of this green soup and trust me it is very well named because it is GREEN.  The original recipe suggested a vegan serving plan which is to serve with Sriracha and a drizzle of really good olive oil.  It was yummy, and not the healthy tasting soup I expected.  Even so, I thought a non-vegan version could ramp it up a notch; so I tried it next with a dollop of sour cream – even better.  But, it was my lucky day!  My friend Mary O’Doherty had left a container of her fabulous horseradish dip in my fridge so I tried the soup with a dollop of it and zing, pow, wow, it was fabulous!  And, I am happy to say, Mary shared her recipe, so you can all try this healthy soup with a little something extra to start your year off right.

Mary’s Horseradish Dip (this is also great with any kind of veggie chips, roast beef or carrot sticks)

2 T. prepared horseradish
1 T. cider vinegar
1 tsp. dry mustard
3 T. mayo
1/2 tsp. ground red pepper
1/2 cup sour cream

Whisk together and taste to check on the horseradish. Mary says, “Sometimes -- depending on the strength horseradish -- I use an extra TBS.”  

Go ahead and get the prepared horseradish, because, next week, I’m ready to talk Bloody Mary Bar!!!!!

One year ago – 2012 – Homemade Vegetable Broth 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Cleaning Out the Freezer - January 12, 2013

It is a new year and so I decided it is also time to clean out the freezer.  I do this not only to toss anything that might have gotten freezer burned or too old to be tasty, but also to remember what all is in there so I can make use of it.  On her radio show, Splendid Table, Lynn Rosetta Casper plays a game where listeners call in and give her 5 ingredients in their refrigerator and she has to come up with a tasty recipe using them all.  I love to do this same thing with my fridge, but, it is easier because I don’t feel the need to use 5 disparate ingredients. 

When cleaning out this weekend, I found several packages of leg/thigh quarters from a local farmer, a zip lock bag of tomatoes I put up at the end of the season, and a bunch of homemade vegetable broth.  I also had spinach and sweet potatoes in this week’s farmer’s box.  Turns out, I have the perfect ingredients for Chicken Peanut Stew.  It was warm and spicy and delicious!

Chicken Peanut Stew

2 T. peanut or vegetable oil
1 chopped onion
2 minced cloves garlic
2 T. crushed ginger
1 lb. chicken thighs, cut in chunks
1 T. crushed red pepper
2 T. sweet curry powder
Salt and pepper to taste
4 c. vegetable or chicken broth
3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in chunks
16 oz. canned tomatoes with juices
1 c. chunky peanut butter
2 c. greens, coarsely chopped

Heat the oil in pot over medium and cook onions, garlic and ginger about 5 minutes.  Add chicken and cook until browned on all sides.  Season with peppers, curry and salt.  Pour broth and tomatoes over and add sweet potatoes.  Cover, reduce to low and cook 15 minutes.  Add greens and peanut butter and cook another 5 to 20 minutes until consistency you desire.

I also had a plethora of potatoes in my farmer’s box, so I put together a chicken pot roast too.  Actually, I think this would be great made in a crock pot. 

Pot Roast Chicken & Vegetables

1 3lb whole chicken
6-7 medium size potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
3 carrots, peeled & cut into about 2 -3 inch pieces
2 stalks celery cut into 2-3 inch pieces (optional)
1 onion, quartered
2 T. butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 - 2 T. olive oil
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup water
Seasoned salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Mince and mash the garlic and mix with butter.  Loosen the skin over the breasts and thighs to make pockets, rubbing the garlic butter mixture over the breast and thigh meat.  Heat the olive oil over medium heat in you dutch oven and get your pot really hot.  Add the chicken and cook, turning often, until nicely browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. 

Leave the chicken in the dutch oven, sprinkling with seasoning salt & pepper. Add the potatoes and vegetables around the chicken.  Add 1/2 cup chicken broth and 1/2 cup water over the chicken.  Place the lid on your dutch oven and cook at 400 degrees for about 1 1/2 - 2 hours or until the internal temperature in the thigh area reaches 165°F.  Check half way through and add more broth if needed. My only complaint about this recipe was the need for more liquid to keep the veggies moist and make plenty gravy.

Remove tender chicken to a platter and cut into serving pieces.  Place vegetables around the platter.  Cover and keep warm.  Now take the drippings that the chicken is cooked in. Using a bowl with a strainer placed on top strain the pan drippings.  Mix with flour water mixture and cook (adding broth or wine if needed) to make gravy.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Pineapple the Symbol of Hospitality - January 5, 2013

One of my Christmas gifts to John this year was a water dispenser with spout that looks nice enough to sit on the counter.  I envisioned us using it at the yurt to get water because we have to bring in drinking water as what comes from the spout there is filled with sodium from the well.  I thought it would be nice to stop using the 5 gallon plastic version we have always taken in the past.  Well, as you can see, John had other ideas for his Christmas present – infused vodka. 

First, John loves pineapple eating it each morning even though we try our best to purchase local foods most of the time.  Second, we spent the holidays at my mother-in-law’s house and she had it decorated so beautifully using natural items like magnolia leaves and PINEAPPLES! These very ripe pineapples were perfect to peel, core and cut into chunks.  We used two along with 1.75 liters of Tito's Vodka.  We had the first sipping after a week and it was delicious right out of the spout –just sweet enough to get you in trouble.  I actually added infused vodka to the same amount of Sprite Zero and it was even better.  Then we decided to get inventive with smoothies using the vodka soaked pineapple and raspberries and blackberries we put up in the freezer back in the Summer.

Pineapple Berry Smoothies

4 large chunks vodka infused pineapple
½-1 c. plain yogurt
1 banana (frozen if you have time and remember)
1-4 packets Splenda or honey to taste
½ c. frozen berries

Toss everything in a blender and blend, pushing down as necessary to get it started.

We plan to try other infusions in the coming months including tangerine and cranberries.  But, here are a few other ideas for the pineapple vodka.

New England Surfer

Cranberry Juice
Pineapple Vodka
Splash of Sprite

Mix cranberry juice and pineapple vodka to taste.  Pour over ice and add a splash of Sprite.  Garnish with lime.


1 c. Pineapple Chunks
Pineapple Vodka
Coconut Rum
Maraschino Cherry

Blend pineapple in blender.  Add vodka, rum and ice to fill blender to 5 cups.  Blend again and top with cherry.

 Enjoy and Happy New Year!