Tag Archives: food

High Hopes for the New Year: Update, Helping Those in Need

27 Mar

Back just a few months ago, when everyone was making New Year’s Resolutions, I posted a blog called “High Hopes for the New Year“. So far, so good.

Here is the update of what I’ve collected so far. It doesn’t look (or feel) like much, but the goal isn’t to save the world. The goal is to inspire others, and to even help a little bit. Something, after all, is better than nothing.

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The items I’ve collected, January – March:

  • Pads
  • Socks
  • Tampons
  • Razors
  • Instant Mashed Potatoes
  • Brown Gravy (2)
  • Lipton Noodle Soup
  • Hormel Compleats Smokey Bacon Parmesan Rigatoni
  • Motts Cinnamon Apple Sauce
  • Brown Rice
  • Canned Mandarin Oranges
  • Canned Cut Green Beans
  • Canned Sliced Peaches
  • Campbells Vegetable Soup
  • Chef Boyardee Beefaroni

That is 15 items, representing 15 trips to the store over 3 months. That is 5 trips per month to the grocery store. By the end of the year, that will equal 60 items.

I would still love to have someone join me! The rules are simple: 1) items have to be generally non-perishable, 2) you have to buy something each time you go to the grocery store, 3) items don’t need to be large or extravagent

 

Recipe: Cranberry Hazelnut Holiday Pesto

17 Dec

I’m a really big fan of pesto and the endless possibilities to make it! This pesto is a mild version with all of your holiday favorites coming together for one delicious dish. I served it at my holiday party and it was a huge hit!

Unfortunately (for you and me), because of the stress of working an 8 hour day then coming home to host a party, I don’t have any pictures to show you. With any luck, I’ll make it again before the end of the year and then you can see how beautiful this dish is. And I DO mean beautiful…it brings together the classic green and red we think of for Christmas.

When I was experimenting with ingredients for this pesto, I tried to make it season-appropriate, sticking with ingredients you see a lot of in the winter. I think I captured the holiday spirit well, and I really think you should make this at your next get together! Spring and summer are all about fresh and bright, and fall is a very earthy, warm season. Winter though, while warm, also is a lot about sweets and dessert, so I definitely made it a point to channel that into this recipe. This particular pesto is probably served best on bread or crackers, but you might also be able to do some interesting pizza-dessert type things with it, too.

 

Cranberry Hazelnut Holiday Pesto:

1/2 cup fresh cranberries
1 cup fresh kale
1/2 cup hazelnuts, shelled and roasted
1/4 cup canola oil (or more)
2 Tbs homemade salted caramel drizzle (more or less to taste)
dried cranberries (I used Craisins)
1/8 cup Welsh cheddar, grated
sea salt/kosher salt/coarse salt

2 french baguettes OR whole wheat crackers OR salted caramel crackers

Homemade salted caramel drizzle:

1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 Tbs butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp. salt

 

First, take the cranberries and toss them into the food processor. Make sure that you don’t leave behind any large pieces. If you only have one food processor, spoon out the cranberries into a bowl and set aside. Rinse out your food processor to get the remaining cranberries. We are going to process the kale and the cranberries separately to maintain the red and green – if you process them at the same time, your pesto will turn a brown color, and while it will taste the same, it isn’t going to be as visually appealing!

Next, you’ll want to blanch the kale. I removed the large stem parts of the kale so that only the leaves were left. Boil a small pot of water and have a bowl of cold (or ice) water handy. Dunk the kale in the boiling water for about 10 seconds. At the end of the 10 seconds, immediately take it out and dip it into the cold water (this will stop the cooking process). Take the kale out of the cold water, and gently pat the excess water off with a paper towel.

While the kale dries off a bit, take your hazelnuts and shell them (this is assuming you bought them in the shell – I couldn’t find any already shelled). Take these and toss them into a skillet over medium-high heat. Move these around in your pan while they are toasting until the get a deep, brown color. Make sure not to char them!

Now, toss the kale and the hazelnuts into the food processor. Once everything is pretty well processed, add your oil. You are going to want a smooth, easily spreadable consistency, but not liquid. Once you get there, add just a little more.

Take this out of the food processor, and grab the cranberries you processed and set aside earlier. Put these in the same bowl, and using a spoon, mix. You’ll see that really pretty red and green come together. I’m pretty sure this is what Christmas should taste like. This is your pesto! You can set this aside, because now we have to make the caramel!

(Don’t be scared, its easy!)

Grab a large saucepan, and toss in your sugar. Turn up the heat to high and stir, stir, stir! The sugar is going to clump, but keep on stirring and eventually it will melt. Once the sugar melts, keep stirring until it turns into your desired caramel color (light, medium, dark). Mine was classic medium.

Once you’ve reached your desired color, add your butter. It is going to bubble, but keep stirring until everything is melted together.

Now, you’ll slowly add the cream to this mixture. Cook for another minute, and then remove from the heat.

Stir in the salt. Allow to cool – for our purposes you don’t need to have it cool all the way because we will have to be able to pour it and we don’t want to have to warm it back up.

Now, its time to assemble everything! If you are using bread, I highly recommend cutting the bread, then toasting it in the oven until its a nice golden color. Because pesto is so versatile by nature, you can definitely use something other than bread if you’d like!

Take a spoonful of the pesto and spread it onto your bread or cracker. This next part is to taste, so more or less depending on what tastes good to you:

Take 2-4 Craisins and sprinkle them over the top of the pesto. Now take a pinch of the Welsh cheddar, and sprinkle it evenly over the top of the pesto. Finally, you’ll take a spoonful of the caramel and drizzle it in a zig-zag pattern over the top of everything. To top it off, take a pinch of coarse salt and sprinkle it over the caramel.

Voila! Your cranberry hazelnut holiday pesto is complete!

If you don’t want to assemble this for everyone, you can put your pesto into a bowl, toss the Craisins, cheddar, and caramel on top and folks can use it as a dip for their bread and crackers.

 

Tried my recipe? Sound off in the comments!

My Latest Food Endeavors

29 Mar

I don’t want to hear any of that nonsense about not actually using Pinterest. I use it all the time! And my most recent party was no exception. I made 4-ish new recipes and 1 old favorite. Unfortunately, a couple of the recipes didn’t do a very good job at describing how to use the recipe, so I had to wing it. In the end, they came out fine, but I still would’ve liked a little more direction.

That’s where I come in. You know I absolutely love sharing things with my friends and readers, so these are the recipes I tried:

Egg Roll Wrap Mozzarella Sticks

Bacon-wrapped Jalapeno Chicken Bites

Bubbly Cheese Garlic Bread

Strawberry-Mango Lemonade

Now, while you are perusing those recipes, here are some helpful tips I found:

Egg Roll Wrap Mozz Sticks

Cut string cheese into thirds, then use wonton wraps instead of egg roll wraps – the cheese sticks will be more bite size

Bacon-wrapped Jalapeno Chicken bites

1. Smaller cuts of chicken take less time to cook, and yield better results
2. If you like your bacon crispy, you only need 1/3 of a strip of bacon to wrap around the chicken piece. Wrapping the entire piece of bacon means the bacon on the inside doesn’t get crispy.
3. If you choose to do this on the stove instead of the grill, put a lid on your skillet to keep in the heat for faster cooking (nothing really happened when I didn’t have a lid).
4. The toothpicks make it hard to get the bacon to touch the skillet on all sides (the lid helps), so if you can think of a better method – use it!

Bubbly Cheese Garlic Bread

Not the best garlic bread I’ve had, but be careful about how much creamy Italian dressing you use. If you like creamy things, definitely use the whole cup. If you don’t like that creamy texture, use 1/2 cup, or even less. I would say more butter, less dressing if you don’t like creamy – it adds good taste, but butter crisps up and the dressing didn’t.

Strawberry-Mango Lemonade

This one was delicious, but the recipe doesn’t tell you how to make a whole pitcher, which is just silly! I did the math for you, so here’s the recipe to make a pitchers worth:

1 can lemonade concentrate (yields 64 oz when prepared)
2 cans Mango Nectar Juice
1 container of strawberries (the standard plastic container), tops removed
1 Tbs sugar (optional)
1/2 C. water (optional)

First, prepare the lemonade concentrate per package directions. I always skimp on the water because I like my lemonade more tart, but either way is fine! Next, just pour in both cans of Mango Juice. Finally, you are going to puree the strawberries. I added 1/2 C of water and 1 Tbs sugar to the blender with my whole package of strawberries, but you don’t have to do this. For me, it made my blender happier.

So yes, blend your strawberries into a puree, and then add that to your lemonade (I added 3/4 of what I made and made the rest into ice cubes, but you can add the whole amount, too). It’s really pretty, so you can leave it like that, or stir it how you’d like. And there you go – a whole pitcher!

Tried any new recipes lately? What’s your biggest pet peeve about finding recipes online? 

Why I Don’t Eat Salad

3 Sep

I don’t feel alone in my dislike of salads, in any respect. Lots of people don’t like them or don’t eat them, but I’ve found its usually a very different reason than mine.

Other people don’t like salad because they don’t like veggies. I don’t like salad because I don’t mix my foods or dressings. When I eat a salad, I eat one tomato, then a piece of lettuce, then a carrot, and so forth. There is no “bite” of salad. And because I don’t like dressings, its really like I’m just eating a whole bunch of vegetables in a row. Don’t get me wrong…I love veggies, but I prefer to eat a large one as a meal, or a small one as a snack, not a variety of small ones for a meal.

Do you eat salad? Is that ever a meal, or do you eat it before the main entree? Do you think my salad preferences are strange?

Pepsi-Coke Challenge

17 Jul

A friend’s post about Pepsi reminded me that I took the Pepsi-Coke challenge recently. I had my friend pour out random glasses of Pepsi or of Coke and recorded which one I liked best (with my eyes closed so that all the drinks were fresh).

It was always Pepsi.

Can you taste the different between Coke and Pepsi? Which do you like better? Have you taken the challenge?

Cancer Will NOT Take Over My Life

5 May

Take a look at the image above. Now replace all of the “possible side effects” with cancer.

That about sums up all the things on this planet. A little too much of anything and it can give you cancer. Why? Because all it takes is one wrong mutation in the DNA of a cell, and it will grow and replicate rapidly and out of control.

I’m a smart girl. I don’t do stupid things like smoke, but I’m not about to shut myself away from the world in order to stop something like this. The reason I bring this up is because today in my pharmacology class, we learned that deep fried potatoes of any sort increase the risk of cancer (and its not the fat or grease, its the potatoes). You know what else? So does cooking red meat and poultry above 120 degrees, and the point at which the FDA says you should cook meat is 140 degrees. Oh, eggs cause cancer, too!

I have sympathy for anyone who is unfortunate enough to have cancer. I hope that I never get cancer. But some things I’m just not willing to do.

What are some things that cause cancer that you think are ridiculous? Do you agree with me?

Egg Roll Wraps: Not Just For Egg Rolls (A Few Tasty Recipes)

25 Apr

Egg roll wraps are these nifty little things that are the biggest reason why I love egg rolls. Because they are my favorite part, I like to use them for other things. Here are a few recipes to try if you ever have some left over, or are just in need of trying something a little new:

 

  1. Deep Fried Burritos: Everything is better deep fried, right? Isn’t that like…the American dream? Well, burritos are no exception. Personally, I use refried pinto beans, some cheddar cheese, and some cut up green chili. A simple enough recipe that you can adapt for whatever you need and the green chili definitely adds good flavor. Just spoon a little bit of beans in the middle of your wrap, add some cheese and chili, and fold the edges over. Use some water to keep the edges from unfolding. Now, use a deep fryer or hot oil in a pot. Dunk your burrito in the oil and leave them in there until they are golden brown and bubbly on the outside.
  2. Chicken and Rice Stir Fry Wrap: This is a recipe that you can use with pretty much any foods you like to stir fry with your chicken. I am a huge fan of chicken and broccoli stir fry over rice. Whatever it is you are cooking, just spoon a little bit of it into an egg roll wrap, add some rice, and you have another tasty menu item! Just cook them like I mention with the burritos. This can be a little plain for some peoples tastes, so adding butter to the rice and maybe lemon-pepper to the chicken could kick it up a notch.
  3. Ravioli: You can use whatever ravioli filling you like, albeit spinach and ricotta, or 5 cheese italiano, or a variety of meat. Spoon that into your egg roll wraps, and it makes a convenient ravioli. The instructions say to deep fry them as I’ve mentioned before, but I wouldn’t say its too big of a leap to bake them in the oven. If I was going to try that route, I would probably dip the whole ravioli in water to soften the wrap, and them place them on a baking sheet at 350 degrees until I thought they were done.
  4. Chili Rellenos: I’m going out on a limb here and saying that I’m not doing my Mexican heritage justice by saying I’ve never had one of these. My family and friends swear by them, but I’m afraid the texture will freak me out. This recipe calls for 3 cans of whole green chili (or, if you’d prefer to take the home made route…just cook whole chili from your local market on a skillet until they are blackened, then peel) and the cheese(s) of your choice (I would most likely use cheddar, jack, or colby and I know some people who use cream cheese…which is the part that freaks me out). I won’t go into the details of how to make the filling, but basically just spoon that in like I’ve said before and deep fry. I always put a ton of garlic (and garlic salt) on any chili that I eat, so I would definitely do that here as well.

Those were just a few things out of I’m sure a variety of things you can use egg roll wraps for. Maybe even light and fluffy chips? Well, happy cooking!

How have you creatively used egg roll wraps? Have you tried any of these recipes? What were your favorites?