Strawberry Lemonade Slushy

1 20 oz blender bottle
juice and zest of one lemon
8 roughly diced strawberries
10-12 ice cubes
2-4 tsp sweetener (to your taste. I usually go 3 tsp of Apriva or a mix of Apriva and sugar.)
water

Fill bottle with the lemon juice, zest, strawberries, ice, and sweetener.

Add about 3-4 inches of water.

Blend.

Shake it up a couple times and blend again.

You may need to add more water to make it more of a drink.

This is a thick, fruity icee..

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Things I learned from this weekend

This weekend was an exercise in cooking gluten free while also cooking within my own allergies. I am that rare person who is allergic to all grains except wheat and rice. As a result, when I was asked to make something without wheat, it limited my playing field severely. I searched the internet and found a few rice based recipes, but when I compared the shopping list of what needed to be purchased, with purchasing something pre-made, well the difference was immense for ingredients that I probably would not use again before they expired. On top of that, I was also searching for a means to make my recipes work for a gluten intolerant person. So that meant no fillo dough, no wheat based pastry, and no homemade bread in my kitchen. Some would say at this point that I could still bake using gloves, but truthfully, I couldn’t. For me to bake with anything outside of wheat or rice was to basically make myself ill for the next 3-5 days depending on how much of the ingredients I inhaled.

So the hunt was on for creative ways to make my recipes still work. Luckily, I found a fellow blogger who posted a recipe for Kibbeh using Quinoa. That worked wonderfully since the event was about the “Crossroads: Silk Road” from the medieval perspective. I then found rice crackers and experimented with them for a crust for my vegetable tarts. I found that if I put two crackers down and added a piece of cheese between them that the bottom cracker remained crisp while the top on joined with the veggie tarts. Another friend suggested a watermelon based salad. So I hunted around for different recipes and wound up ditching almost all of them for my own concept of watermelon, mint, feta, and a raspberry vinaigrette.

I was still stumped for the bread, though. I kept looking around. I ran into many different wraps, etc, but nothing truly looked appetizing. The wraps I found looked bland and tasteless. I finally settled on a rice based bread that did the trick. So my question for those of you who are gluten intolerant, do you have a tasty recipe for a wrap that I can add? I wanted to make a pita or a wrap, but never did find a good one. If you do have a good recipe for one, please post a link below.

3 Cheese Dip

This is one of my family’s favorite appetizers and it is SO easy to make. It takes under half an hour to get everything melted just right. Use a whisk once the cheese starts to melt. That will take down the globby factor!

Words of advice on this one. Understand that cheese is made at different consistencies. Some may be stringier or creamier than others. It is always better to take a melted cheese recipe with a “rule of thumb” and be prepared to either add more cheese or milk depending on how the cheese melts. The creamier mozzarella is divine, but even the cheap stuff can and will work, you just have to watch it closely and stir it well. Also, you can use a cheddar instead of Colby-Jack, but the flavor will be changed. I prefer CJ because it is my son’s favorite cheese. I’ll admit that I use rough estimates because different varieties of the same cheese melt differently and I usually use whatever is left on the block I have in my ‘fridge.

8 oz White American
1 C Colby-Jack shredded, loosely packed.

1 C Mozzarella shredded (This one becomes stringy FAST so go lower rather than higher)
2 1/2 to 3 cups of 2% milk (Start with lower add if you want the dip less thick)

1) Put one cup of milk in a sauce pan to warm up on low to medium low. You do not want the milk to scald or bubble.
2) Add the American cheese. Stir regularly as it melts in. Use a WHISK.
3) Add the Colby-Jack and another cup of milk. Stir until these melt in.
4) Check the consistency here before you add the Mozzarella. If it is thick and globby, add more milk, about a 1/4 to 1/2 cup.
5) Add the mozzarella and stir until it melts in.
6) Once it is melted, check the consistency and add milk by the 1/4 cup until you have the consistency you want. I prefer a thicker cheese dip, so I go lower on the amount of milk.
7) Serve it in a bowl with some chips and put a spoonful of pico de gallo in the middle for garnish.

Options: You may mince up jalapenos and other peppers to add in, but be careful. They become too hot fast. Start with 1/4 to 1/2 of a single one and let it cook in for about 1/2 hour before you add anymore. Check it before you add more. Also remember that if you add the seeds, that the “hot” quality will intensify.

If you have leftovers, they go very well on top of noodles for a quick mac and cheese 🙂

Cold Salsa Soup

8 Roma Tomatoes

2 Jalapenos

1 Banana Pepper

1 medium-large Sweet Yellow Onion

1 medium-large Red Onion

10-15 sprigs of cilantro

8-10 sections of garlic minced

Juice of 1 lime

Zest of 1 lime

3 ears of corn

¼ c sugar for the water

1 Tb salt for the water

  • Fill a soup pot about ½ to ¾ with water. Add sugar and salt.
  • When it boils add the corn. Boil for 12 minutes. Take the corn out to cool.
  • Dice up the onions and garlic. Sautee in a non-stick pan. Use no or minimal olive oil
  • Dice up tomatoes and peppers. Do not throw away the centers. Keep the juices. Put them into a big mixing bowl. Make sure to remove all seeds and pith.
  • Mince up the cilantro leaves and add to the tomatoes and peppers
  • Zest your lime and add it to the mix
  • Juice your lime and put it to the side
  • Take the corn off the cobs and add it to the mix
  • Add the onions and garlic
  • Mix it all together and put it into the fridge for an hour or so.
  • The juices will mingle. Stir it before you serve it.

 

*It makes for a “mushy” salsa or a really good cold soup.

**If you are after a true salsa, use Plum Tomatoes for their texture and do not cook the onions.

***I use this one on top of cooked meat, too. It adds a nice texture and flavor to pork and chicken. It also makes for a good topping on rice.

**** Another variation is to add black beans.

This version is not very spicy. If you want to make it more so, keep the pepper seeds or add hotter peppers.

Apple Fillo Tarts

This dish was a spur of the moment throw together at a party I went to at the beginning of summer. I had all the ingredients because of other things I was making and decided, “Why not?” These were not on a plate more than 5 minutes before they all disappeared despite all of the other food and desserts everyone else had brought. There’s just something about apples and cinnamon that says “Home” and “Happy”.

Apple Fillo Tarts

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Preheat oven to 400 (375 for dark pans)
4 apples peeled, cored, and diced (I use Granny Smith but others can be used as long as they are not soft and mealy)
1 stick of salted butter separated into 4 Tbs each
1 tsp cinnamon
3 Tbs dark brown sugar
2 Tbs white sugar
¼ tsp ginger (Optional)
¼ tsp cardamom (Optional)
½ tube of fillo dough
Decoration (Optional): Cinnamon Sugar Pecans 1 ½ C whole pecans, 1tsp cinnamon, ¼ C sugar, 1 Tbs butter
For the tarts:
1) In a medium fry pan on low to medium low, melt 4 Tbs butter.
2) Add apples and saute stirring to coat all of the pieces with the butter.
3) Add the spices and sugars. Stir to ensure an even coating.
4) Stir slowly frequently but not constantly until all apples begin to soften.
5) Set aside off the heat once they are softened.
6) Melt the other 4 Tbs of butter in a bowl,
7) Taking a pastry brush, coat the walls of the muffin tin with butter and set aside
8) Take out one tube of fillo. Cut it in half through the plastic and put one half in a Ziploc bag to put away.
9) Taking the ½ of the tube left, unroll it and slice it into 3 section roughly 3”X3” per section

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10) Working quickly, take 5-6 pieces to line each muffin tin. I don’t count these, I just make sure I have at least 5 pieces. Fewer and the filling will soak through. You may have some pieces left over. When I do, I gently add these into any area that looks “weak”.
11) Using a soup spoon, fill each muffin round. This recipe will fill exactly one 12 piece muffin tin.
12) Taking the pastry brush and the extra butter, coat the fillo dough edges that are hanging out. If you don’t they will still bake and brown, but will appear “floury” and the flavor will be off. On this step you may rearrange the “petals” a bit. You do not want them hanging down onto the tin, They need to be up off of the metal.
13) Bake 10-12 minutes at 400 or 375 for a dark pan.
14) Remove from oven and allow to sit for 10 minutes.
15) Place one or more pecans on top for decoration
16) Serve Hot.

Cinnamon Sugar Pecans
1 ½ Cups whole pecans
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ C sugar
1 Tbs butter
Preheat oven to 400 or 375 for dark pans
1) Melt butter in a fry pan
2) Add pecans, sugar, and cinnamon
3) Coat well and remove
4) Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
5) Place pecans on the sheet in a single layer
6) Bake for 5-10 minutes being careful to not let the pecan over-bake and burn
7) Allow to sit for 10-15 minutes before using
8) Decorate.

Optional: The tarts may be made using only cinnamon. You may add nutmeg, raisins, almonds, etc. This is just a very basic, easy to throw together dish. The pecans are truly optional. When I made this dish the first time, I didn’t have them and no one cared, they gobbled them all up.

NOTE: When working with fillo it is very important to be gentle but quick. Fillo is a very dry dough and will dry out to crumble in your hands if you are not fast. One method that I use when making more than one recipe is to keep the pieces that I am not working on in a ziploc bag. Sometimes, if the fillo is especially dry, I will add a paper towel that has a smidgeon of water on it. NOT wet or damp, but just a bare hint of wet. If the sheets tear on you, don’t despair, just put them in place and add another sheet on top. They will still work. If ALL of them rip, layer the rip on top of itself. Once baked, it will usually continue to hold its shape.

Potato-Egg Hash

potato hash 4 

1 medium to large potato

2 green onions diced

1/8 of a medium white or red onion diced

½ cup of left over meat (steak or ham work but I’ve also used deli meat.)

½ C milk (I use 2%)

4 eggs

1-2 tsp Kosher salt (this truly depends on how big your potato is. The larger it is, the more salt you may need)

1 tsp ground black pepper

1 Tbs butter (olive oil may be used, but I prefer butter when working with potatoes, Taste preference) The idea is to use enough so it does not stick.

  • Microwave your potato for 41/2 to 5 ½ minutes depending on wattage of your unit. The potato should “squeeze gently” when you pull it out without any hard spots. It should NOT be wrinkled up and filled with air pockets. Chunk it up when it comes out.
  • Dice up your veggies and meat while the potato is cooking.
  • Put the onions and potato into the pan with butter. Add 1 tsp salt and all of the pepper. Cook on medium to medium high. Stir every couple of minutes. Do not constantly stir because then your potatoes will not get the crispy browning that is preferred.
  • When the onions begin to caramelize add the meat and taste the potatoes. At this point you may want to add more salt or pepper. Keep in mind that different types of potatoes will be sweeter and need less salt than others. While some will simply gobble up the salt as if you never applied it.
  • Cook this mixture until the potatoes are browned. The meat will brown with them and the onions may appear to almost dissolve away.
  • Mix the eggs with the milk in a separate bowl.
  • Once the potatoes are browned, add the egg mix to the pan and stir. Not constantly but enough to allow the eggs to “gel” a little on the underside before you “turn” the mix over. Do not treat this like an omelet. It will completely fall apart on you if you do. There are too many items that are heavy with edges for the eggs to work with as an omelet.
  • Once the eggs are finished cooking, serve it.

This will serve 4-5 people, maybe more depending on if other items such as toast, bacon, etc are also being served.

Optional: jalapenos, bell peppers, cheese, freshly minced garlic

For the lactose intolerant, you may substitute orange juice for the milk. It will give your eggs a slightly sweet and tangy flavor, but is delightful. It will also make them a bit more delicate.

Pan Seared Zucchini and Red Onions

Pan Seared Zucchini and Red Onions

Olive Oil

½ tsp Rosemary

½ tsp Basil

½ tsp lemon pepper

1 large zucchini sliced into relatively thick “fries” or “fingers” (I usually cut my zucchini in half so that my fingers are no longer than about 3 inches.

¼ sliced red onion

¼-1/2 tsp Kosher salt (Optional. Many people do not use salt at all. I use just enough to make the other flavors pop. Not salty at all)

  • Heat pan to medium high
  • Drizzled the bottom of the pan with olive oil
  • Coat the bottom of the pan with the herbs and spices except for the salt
  • Add the red onion until it caramelizes then remove them to a small plate or bowl
  • Add the zucchini to the pan. Sear the sides until they brown slightly
  • Return the onions to the pan, mixing together gently
  • Sprinkle Kosher salt on top
  • Serve

This takes 10-15 minutes depending on how hot your pan is.

Optional: green onions, chives, fresh minced garlic, sliced grape tomatoes

Keep in mind that spices and herbs change potency when used fresh. Fresh ones tend to have more water in them, so while stronger may also add liquid to the dish that will need to be cooked out.

Fruit Salad with a Kick

When I was in high school my Gramma and I were making fruit salad. We cut up the watermelon, the honey dew, the cantaloupe. We added peaches, split grapes, sliced strawberries, and blueberries. We mixed it all up and I was thinking it was a pretty decent fruit salad. I, however, was very wrong. My Gramma had a different plan for the fruit.

With a twinkle in her eye, Gramma looked at me and said, “It’s pretty boring right now. Let’s take it up a notch!” So, with a sassy grin, she reached into my parent’s liquor cabinet and pulled out the Grand Marnier. Looking at the bottle, I went to get a measuring cup and she kinda chuckled at me. She said that a good fruit salad doesn’t need a measuring cup, it needs someone to dazzle it and a good taster. That day I learned all about jazzing up fruit salad. Since then whenever I add Grand Marnier to anything I think of Gramma, remember that day, and grin.

Fruit Salad with a Kick
1/2 of a good sized watermelon diced
1 cantaloupe, chopped into bite sized pieces
1 honey dew, chopped into bite sized pieces
1 quart of strawberries sliced in half
1 pint of blueberries
1 bunch of grapes cut in half
3-4 peaches, sliced and chunked
(any other fruit you want to add)
1/2 to 3/4 Cup Grand Marnier

1) Mix up the fruit into a very large bowl
2) Add the Grand Marnier and mix thoroughly
3) Allow to CHILL for at least an hour
4) Serve

Optional: Sometimes it works out better to just cut the fruit, dish it up, then drizzle the alcohol on top. If you do it this way, it does not saturate into the fruit as well.
Other alcohols I have used are Amaretto and Frangelico. Both give a nutty flavor to the fruit. I’m sure there are lots of others you may want to try. Be creative 🙂

Sauteed Buttery-Lemon Green Beans

½ pound fresh green beans
1-2 tsp lemon pepper (some brands are more potent than others)
Zest of 1 lemon (no white pith)
1 Tbs butter
Salt

1) Coat the bottom of the pan with the lemon pepper
2) Put the zest directly in the pan
3) Add butter and turn pan onto medium-low. When the butter is melted swirl it around the pan. The lemon and pepper will release their aroma to let you know it is hot enough.
4) Snap off the ends of the green beans and put them in the pan and stir to ensure even coating.
5) Add as much salt as you wish. I generally at about a teaspoon if that much just to make the rest of them pop.
6) The outside of the green beans will begin to shrivel and may brown a little. They are done at this point. 5-10 minutes depending on how hot your pan is. Keep in mind, if you cook them too high, the beans will burn.

Do not worry if the butter turns colors slightly. It is combining with the lemon zest. The butter may also brown a little. Do not let it go past golden. If it does when combined with the zest, it may become bitter.

Optional: Garlic, Rosemary, Oregano, or Thyme are great additions to the beans. Also sun dried tomatoes are delicious cooked with them. Sometimes I add slivered almonds, too.

Simple Pork Roast

Simple Pork Roast

2-3 Lbs of pork roast
3 potatoes peeled and chunked into bite sized pieces
1 onion peeled and sliced (I usually use a sweet, yellow preferably Vidalia)
4-6 carrots peeled and chunked into bite sized pieces
4-6 parsnips peeled and chunked into bite sized pieces
Garlic
Salt
Pepper
Rosemary
1-1/2 C Water

1) Preheat oven to 350
2) Coat the bottom of a 13X9 pan with the spices in a light coat (I never measure these, I simple make sure that there is some a little bit of everywhere)
3) Rinse off the roast, then place it in the center of the pan
4) Place the cut veggies around it leaving out about ¼ cup of onion
5) Coat the top of the roast with the spices, then cover that with the left-over onion
6) Sprinkle the spices over the veggies
7) Bake at 350 for ½ hour, stir the veggies making sure they are not sticking
8) Add water. There should be enough water to rise about a ½ inch up on the pan
9) Return to the oven and bake another 30-45 minutes until the top of the roast is nicely browned (Watch for the top of the roast to crisp up just a bit on the edges. The fatty portions will brown and the rest will turn golden. Also, check the veggies at this time. If they are not done, cover the roast with aluminum foil and put it back in for up to 30 minutes. I had an oven that always read the right temperature but baked slower than slow, so just make sure)
10) Once the top is browned insert a meat thermometer for the desired temperature. (Here I will actually slice my roast to see if it is the color that I desire. I go for a very soft pink inside with no running bloody juices.
11) Take the pan out of the oven, cover with aluminum foil and let sit for 15-20 minutes before serving.
12) The carrots will still have a little crisp to them, the potatoes should be sliceable with a fork.

Variations

1) Sometimes I use broth or V-8 instead of water. Both add a separate richness to the meal. But when I just want the taste of the pork, I use water.
2) I have also used turnips, northern beans, and other assorted vegetables. It truly depends on my mood. They all work, but some will disintegrate and become mushy.
3) Another variation is when I choose to use apples with the onions. Then I swap out the garlic and rosemary for sweeter spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, ginger. I also use sliced fresh ginger.

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