May 27, 2012

Pickled Pink Onions

While I was browsing the most recent blog I was assigned for Secret Recipe Club, when I made the Spring Green Risotto, I found these beauties - Pickled Onions. Not something I had ever eaten plain or made, but intriguing and oh, so simple. Kate at a Spoonful of Thyme had whipped them up to use with her tacos and fresh made salsa, but I had another idea in mind. They just seemed the perfect little topping for deviled party eggs. {When our kids asked why they were named deviled egg, I couldn't explain, so we adopted my Aunt's name for eggs. Much more descriptive I think.}

I pickled an entire purple onion, so I had plenty to go around. Some of them, I served when we had friends over for barbecue. We put them on our barbecue sandwiches, instead of the traditional pickles like I normally do. I use a slow cooker recipe that has a can of Coke in it, because I DO live in Atlanta. I will share this recipe with you next week, but here's the photo (with traditional pickles).

Anyway, after the cookout and smore's roasting, there were plenty of the lovely pickled onions left over, so I came up with the party egg idea. Notice how one of them looks like the pink breast cancer ribbon??!!  How cool is that? I'm thinking fund raising party for anyone walking to raise money.

The last few of the onions got chopped up and tossed in my favorite broccoli salad. The one with mayo, red wine vinegar and Parmesan cheese? I could eat that salad almost everyday, even without the bacon. On your next barbecue or party, whip these beauties up and see what you can use them for. I'd love to hear what you come up with.

Pickled Pink Onions

1 med red (purple) onion
1/4 c apple cider vinegar
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt

Thinly slice the onion. Mix the vinegar, sugar and salt in a bowl. Add the onion slices and let sit in fridge for at least 30 minutes. Will keep for 2 days in fridge.

In hindsight, I'm guessing you could use the pink salt liquid that is created for pretty pink pickled eggs!


May 23, 2012

Spectacular Strawberry Angel Food Cake

Do you have some of these laying around? We have been eating strawberries almost everyday and I still don't get tired of them. We most often eat them plain or with breakfast, but I do make this Fresh Strawberry Cake, and this Strawberry Vinaigrette from my friend Chris. I love to take the kids strawberry picking because those seem to be the most delicious. This year, we planted strawberries and we've had a few small ones. Hopefully next year we will have a better crop.
This simple cake looks spectacular, but it's really easy. Bake or buy an angel food cake. I used an angel food Betty Crocker mix for this one. After the cake has cooled, split it in the middle. Fill the middle with cream and macerated strawberries and then put the top back on. Add more cream on top and decorate with whole strawberries. Delicious!

Whipped Cream Delight
1 pt whipping cream
1/4 c powdered sugar
3 oz mascarpone cheese or cream cheese, softened
Put the whipping cream in a mixer with wire attachment. Beat on higher until it seems to be getting thicker. Add powdered sugar and beat until it forms soft peaks. Stir in the softened cheese.

Macerated Strawberries
1 pt strawberries
4 tbsp sugar
Slice all but four or five strawberries into a bowl. Add the sugar and stir. Keep in fridge and stir occasionally. This can be made the morning or afternoon of when you want to serve the cake. The berries will create a wonderful syrup that you can pour into the bottom half of the cake.


May 21, 2012

Creamy Spring Green Risotto

Secret Recipe Club time! It's funny how you start to know many of the foodies in the Club as you participate month after month. When I got my assignment, I already "knew" Kate and her blog, A Spoonful of Thyme. I had tried to eat my way through the computer screen with her Pulled Pork Sandwich. Her husband has the most awesome looking smoker! Serious man grilling.

I eventually chose Kate's Spring Green Risotto since it's fresh and uses all the of the spring veggies I love like peas and asparagus. We eat asparagus all the time. My favorite way is tossed with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and thrown on the grilled for a few moments. The kids are big fans of the little charred bits that happen.

I adore risotto and normally serve it during the colder months. But Kate proved to me risotto could be a warm weather dish with the addition of fresh green veggies. It turned out delicious! My husband declared it restaurant quality and we agreed it should be "on the rotation" just like Kate said.

I made a few changes and rewrote the recipe because it seemed a little confusing to me and I thought it could read simpler. (I'm sure that had something to do with the fact that is a recipe from Ina Garten - just saying.) I did leave out the fennel, because it just didn't look good at the grocery store when I went. I added mushrooms because that's one of my favorite risotto ingredients and I added lima beans to up the protein. You could easily make this a vegetarian recipe by using veggie stock. It may seem like a lot, but it is just one dish and we made it our main meal. I added a couple of pieces of tilapia and some sweet pumpernickle bread and dinner was done.
Spring Green Risotto

1 lb asparagus
5 oz lima beans
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tbsp butter
3 c finely chopped leeks, white and light green parts (1 leek)
8 mushrooms, sliced 
1 1/2 c Arborio rice
2/3 c white wine
4-5 c chicken stock
5 oz frozen peas, defrosted
1 tsp pepper
2 lemons, zest and juice
1/3 c mascarpone cheese or cream cheese 
1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese 
3 tbsp chives, minced 

Bring a medium pot with a small amount of water (maybe 3 inches) to a boil. Put ice in a large bowl and add water to make an ice bath. Snap the tough ends off the asparagus and give to your very grateful chickens. Then cut the asparagus spears into 1 1/2-inch lengths (on the angle if you want to be fancy).  Put asparagus and lima beans in the boiling water for 3-4 minutes. Drain and plunge the veggies immediately in the bowl of ice water. Dry your pot over low heat to use for the next step. Drain the vegetables.
Heat the olive oil and butter in the dry pot over medium heat. Add the leeks and mushrooms, cook for 6 mins. Add the rice and stir for 3 more minutes. {There is a lot of stirring coming up, about 25 minutes of it, so if you can rope in a sous chef, this is the time. You really don't have to stir constantly, but you do need to stay with it. It's worth it - really.}

Add the white wine and simmer over low heat, stirring constantly, until most of the wine has been absorbed. Add the chicken stock, 1 cup at a time, stirring almost constantly and waiting for the stock to be absorbed before adding more. Immediately after adding the last cup of stock, add the asparagus, lima beans, peas, and pepper. Zest both lemons right into the pot.

Squeeze the lemon juice from both lemons into a small bowl, add the mascarpone. Whisk together with a fork.

After a total of about 25 minutes of cooking and stirring the risotto, all the liquid should be absorbed. Then you are ready for the next step. Turn off the heat and add the mascarpone-lemon mixture plus the Parmesan cheese and chives.

Serve with an additional garnish of Parmesan cheese and chives if you want to fancy it up.

May 17, 2012

Healthy {Drinkable} Teacher Gifts

Need a teacher gift that's fast, simple, easy AND healthy??? Uhhh, me too. I love giving them something, but I didn't have time to bake because I was so busy baking for the Awana teachers this year. I couldn't give the homeschool co-op teachers the shaft, so I had to think of SOMETHING.
While grocery shopping at Kroger, it all came together. First I picked up these cute insulated tumblers in pretty colors. Then I picked up the ingredients for some drinks they could enjoy in their new tumblers.
I love it when a plan [or lack thereof] comes together.
The entire gift came from the same store.
The day before we took these in to the teachers, I put it all together. Notice the "wrapping"?? Yep, it's a citrus bag. I've started saving those and apple mesh bags. They make cute wrapping for all kinds of things - even a fresh loaf of bread. Frugality with some cute thrown in.

Drinkable Teacher Gifts

reusable drink cups
limes (or lemons), in mesh bag

mint sprigs
kale, bunch
plastic baggies
ribbon, see you can get this at the grocery store too :)
paper and printer, optional

Print the recipe for kiwi kale smoothies onto cardstock or paper. Or just handwrite it out, especially if you are one of those who has super cute handwriting and can make anything look adorable (me, not so much). Put the recipe in the cup if you can see through it. You child can make a card and put it in there too if you like.

Dump all of your citrus out of their bags. Trim off any tags that are sewn on, but be careful not to cut the stitching. Put a couple of limes and/or lemons, kiwi, bananas in the bags.

Trim stalks from kale, see recipe. Put a wad of kale in a plastic baggie. Stuff that into the mesh bag. (Wait to do this step the day you are giving the gift. Put the baggies in the fridge until then if you are doing it ahead of time and give yourself a pat on the back for being so on the ball.)

Wash the mint if it has been ripped out of the ground by a precious four year old, who has tracked the dirt into the house along with the mint. Wrap the bottom of the mint stems in a wet paper towel to keep it fresh during the school day. Put that in the top of the mesh bag, sticking out of the top if you like.

Tie it all up with a pretty ribbon (I would have used all the same color ribbon if I wasn't being so frugal and using up my ribbon remnants) and include another recipe on the bag. I made up a recipe for Refreshing Mint Limeade, which I actually put in the tumblers and the Kale Kiwi Smoothie recipe on the mesh bags. You customize it up. Change it to Lemonade if you like and lemons are what you purchase. Change it to Citrus-ade if you buy both.

The teachers will love you because it's healthy and delicious AND useful. Seriously you cannot go wrong with this one!

        Refreshing Mint Limeade

·       Bunch of limes, sliced

·       Mint leaves, stripped of stems

Put lime slices and mint leaves in large pitcher. Mash them with a large spoon. Add water, seltzer water, pineapple juice, or other beverage. Mix and serve. Keeps in fridge for a couple of days.


May 15, 2012

Spring Has Sprung

I love this time of year - the flowers are blooming all around our yard.

The blueberries are growing and getting ready to put on their blue robes.

My beloved hydrangeas are shooting out petals everywhere
The herbs are ready for cooking. Look at those chives aren't they pretty!

A carpet of wildflowers awaits my two little princess girls and their adventures.

All of this beauty outside and this is where I am... inside.


Because I'm allergic to everyone of those blooming beauties and right about now they are killing me! Air conditioning and Claritin are my saving grace. Sometimes life is just not fair, but hey, at least I got outside long enough to take pictures. :) I hope YOU are able to enjoy the beauty of God's creation.


May 3, 2012

Kiwi Kale Smoothie

I have a confession to make, I've never tried a green smoothie, until now. Something about greens shredded up in a blender, just did NOT sound delicious to me. I love salads and adore my seaweed wrapped sushi, but mixed up with my favorite fruits...nah, I would always pass. It was way too Dr. Seuss- like. "I do not like green eggs and ham Sam-I-Am."

Last week, when my sweet friend Amy passed along some kale with that kohlrabi I figured I would saute it up like I normally do with greens like swiss chard or make these kale chips like I've done in the past.. But something on that stinkin Pinterest caught my eye (yes, I have an addiction and the boards to prove it). Those crazy green smoothies. They looked, well... yummy.  How bad could it be if so many people drank them? I had the kale and it was hot outside. Which at our house means I should be making smoothies or doling out popsicles. I figured if it was terrible tasting, I could always foist it off to the baby, because she'll eat/ drink just about anything. So I threw caution to the wind and made my first green smoothie!

I had a big bag of kiwi's from Aldi in the fridge. Hey, they are green and they would disguise the greenness of the kale. I had some apple juice and frozen bananas to sweeten it because adding my normal yogurt/ milk didn't seem right with vegetables.

Turns out this concoction was delicious, which probably most of you already know. I'm sure I'm the last green smoothie holdout, right? (It's like texting, I'm slow on the bandwagon, but I'm on now.)

This thing was REALLY tasty. Everyone liked it and asked for seconds. The baby finished hers first and was going around trying to steal from the others. So here's my endorsement, if you've never tried it, you might just like green smoothies....and ham, Sam-I-Am. Now please excuse me, I headed out to buy some kale.
Kiwi Kale Smoothie
8 leaves kale
1 c water
2 bananas, frozen is better but not necessary
3 kiwi, peeled
1 c apple juice

Strip the kale off the stem just like you do with flowers. Hold the stem with one hand and pinch it with the other and pull up until the leaves slide off the stem. (Need a step-by-step of what I'm talking about?)

Stuff the kale into a blender. Add water. Blend until you have a very green smooth pulp. Add the banana, kiwi and apple juice. Blend again until smooth. Now top off your blender with the ice and whirl until you have a frosty smoothie. Serve immediately with straws for fun. :)



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