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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Chew on This | Morning Ritual Juice

Monday I wrote about my wavering tastebuds. Their need for savory or sweet, comfort food one day, and the next, only bright, fresh flavors. It has been somewhat maddening. However, one thing that hasn't been in flux these last few months is my overwhelming love, and need, for my Morning Ritual Juice.



I have become addicted to juicing and the above combination of fruits and vegetables is my absolute favorite (so far). Look at all of the beautifully vibrant color! All of that color equals a serious punch of health.



Brimming with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and energy boosting goodness - your body will be begging for more. And, it tastes great! It has become such a wonderful way to start my day. Try it, I'm quite sure you'll love it!


 Cares

Here's our recipe:


Morning Ritual Juice*
(makes 2-4 servings)

1 whole organic lemon, cleaned (with peel)
2 organic apples, cleaned and cored (with peel)
3 stalks organic celery, cleaned
1 1/2 C organic carrots, cleaned
1/2 large organic cucumber, cleaned (with peel)
1 organic red beet, cleaned (my beet was the size of a medium lemon)
1 inch ginger root, cleaned

Run all of your ingredients through your juicer. Pour over ice and enjoy immediately. 

*I don't usually designate my ingredient lists as organic or nonorganic. For this particular recipe, however, using organic produce (especially when juicing certain items unpeeled) will ensure your juice is pure and free of pesticides. If you use nonorganic produce, make sure to peel.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Chew on This | Sticky Toffee Pudding

I have found around this time of the year, during these cold, short, bleary days, that I have very conflicted food cravings. Maybe you do, as well? One day I'll want a light, fresh, citrus based meal. The next day, all I can fathom eating is something stick-to-your-ribs, warm and cozy. This new year is no different. In fact, my food cravings may be even more at odds.



You see, The Husband and I started off the new year taking a fabulous vacation to a tropical wonderland. So, when on a balmy island, all I wanted to partake in was balmy island food. Local fruits, vegetables, fish, and libations. Nothing heavy and everything crisp, fresh, and amazing. Now we're back home, back to the wintery cold and snow. So, when in frigid lands, I find I want to consume more comforting and toasty meals - for about five minutes - and then I'm off on a totally different eating tangent. Thus, my food yearnings are even more batty then usual.

Today, right now, the need for warmth and luxurious indulgence won out. Sticky Toffee Pudding it is. Brilliant! 


Cares

Here's our recipe:

Sticky Toffee Pudding
Cake:
6 ounces Medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped
1 C water
1 t orange zest
1 1/4 C flour
1 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
4 T butter, room temperature
3/4 C brown sugar
2 eggs
1 t vanilla

Sauce:
1 1/2 C heavy cream
1/2 C brown sugar
2 T honey
1/2 t salt

Preheat oven to 350℉. Prepare an 8x11" cake pan by spraying with baking spray.

For the cake, in a small sauce pan combine the dates, water, and orange zest. Bring ingredients to a boil. Remove from heat and allow to sit while preparing the rest of the cake batter. In a medium bowl, combine the baking soda, baking powder, salt, and flour. Stir to combine thoroughly. Now, in a mixing bowl, beat together your butter and 3/4 cup of brown sugar. Beat until fluffy. Add in your eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition. Finally, add in your vanilla, stirring to incorporate.

Before adding in your warm date mixture to the egg mixture, first mash your dates with a fork to smooth them out a bit. Now, add half of your flour mixture and half of your date mixture to the egg mixture. Stir to combine. Add the remaining date and flour mixtures to the batter and again, stir to combine. Pour the batter into your prepared pan. Place into the preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out with moist crumbs attached.

While the cake is baking, prepare your toffee sauce. In a sauce pan, combine the heavy cream, brown sugar, honey, and salt. Bring ingredients to a boil, while constantly stirring. Reduce to a simmer and allow the sauce to thicken for the next 5-10 minutes. Remove from the heat, sauce will continue to thicken as it cools. 

When the cake is done, remove from the oven and poke holes all over the cake using a cake dowel/sucker stick...whatever you can find to make small holes in the cake. Pour about half of your toffee sauce over the cake and allow it to soak in. When you're ready to serve, pour a bit of the sauce onto the plate and again over the cake. Serve with whipped cream, custard, or ice cream, if desired. Enjoy!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Chew on This | Baklava

Happy New Year! 

I'm here to do some tempting. I know, ruthless of me, but I don't think you'll be too angry. 



I made baklava for the first time. It was a complete success. I'm here to boast, to persuade, and to entice you to try it for yourself. I've had the misconception, for many years, that baklava was too time consuming and difficult to attempt. It really isn't. It just takes a few steps of organization and then you too can make a huge tray of indulgence.


Honestly, when I started the baklava making over the holiday, I went into it with nothing to lose. I had already wrecked two batches of peanut brittle, had four fruitless pursuits at my whiskey salted caramel sauce, and made a pound of crispy black bacon. Multitasking was doing its best to torture me. So when I tempted fate and forged on with my grand baklava making self, I was kind of shocked when I was handsomely rewarded with perfect baklava. 


Look at me, all full of myself and braggy because of baklava. Don't think you won't be shouting your baklava success from the roof tops, too. You will. And I applaud you. 

Cares



Here's our recipe:

Baklava
1 T butter, softened
4 C finely chopped toasted pistachios
1 C finely chopped toasted walnuts
2-3 t cinnamon

1 package phyllo dough
1 1/2 sticks butter, melted
pastry brush

2 C honey
1/2 C water
1/2 C sugar
1 t cinnamon
1/4 t clove
1/2 t cardamom
orange peel from one large orange (make sure any white pith from the peel is removed)

To begin the baklava process, allow the frozen phyllo dough to defrost in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

Preheat oven to 350℉. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9x13" baking pan with 1 tablespoon of softened butter. 

*If you haven't toasted your nuts yet, line a cookie sheet with foil and spread out nuts in a single layer. Toast nuts in your preheated oven for about 7-10 minutes. Remove from the oven, toss warm nuts with 2-3 teaspoons of cinnamon. When cool, finely chop the nuts and set aside. Reserve 1 T of chopped nuts to sprinkle on the top of the baklava before baking.

Unroll your package of phyllo dough, cover the dough with a slightly damp cloth (to keep the dough from drying out).

With a pastry brush, butter one sheet of phyllo dough, place it butter side down into the pan.  Repeat this process until you've stacked 8 sheets of dough. Now, sprinkle a single layer of your chopped nuts on top of the dough. Top the nuts with 3 sheet of dough - butter each sheet and place the buttered side down. Again, sprinkle with a single layer of nuts, 3 sheets of dough...continue this until you have a final layer of nuts. Top this final layer of nuts with 8 sheets of buttered dough, making sure to butter both sides of the very top layer.

Before baking, use a very, very sharp knife to cut the baklava. I cut mine on the diagonal to make diamond shapes. Place the pan into the oven and bake the baklava for 45-50 minutes, or until the dough is golden and crisp.

While the baklava bakes, make your syrup. In a sauce pan, combine your honey, water, sugar, spices, and orange peel. Stir to incorporate. Heat mixture over medium-low heat, bring to a low boil and then reduce heat to simmer. Simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring often. Take the syrup off of the heat, remove all the orange peels from the syrup and allow to cool down a bit.

When the baklava is finished baking, immediately pour the syrup over the warm baklava. Let the baklava cool, uncovered, for at least two hours. Serve and enjoy! If you have any leftovers (!), freeze them for later!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Chew on This | Homemade Irish Cream

Happy (almost) New Year!!


Want to ensure that your New Year is toasted and celebrated to perfection? Well, I've found the perfect drink to help you ring in 2015 with style, and fantastic flavor. Homemade Irish Cream - holy moly! Mimi and I made several batches of this tasty concoction to deliver to family and friends over Christmas. It has been gushed about ever since.


Irish Cream is so easy to make, there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn't be toasting the start of 2015 without it! Make it today and share the goodness!

Cares



Here's the recipe:

Homemade Irish Cream
(recipe via, and very slightly adapted, from design*sponge)

1 C strong coffee
1 1/2 C heavy cream
1 T cocoa powder
1 T granulated sugar
1 T honey
1 t vanilla extract
1 t almond extract
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
2 C Irish whiskey

In a medium sauce pan, bring your coffee to a simmer. Add in your heavy cream, cocoa powder, sugar, honey, vanilla and almond extracts to the coffee and whisk to combine thoroughly. Simmer these ingredients over low heat for approximately 20 minutes, whisk often. After 20 minutes, remove the pan from the heat and whisk in your sweetened condensed milk. Pour this mixture into a mixing bowl (heat-safe: metal, glass, or ceramic bowl) and allow to cool for about 5 minutes. Finally, add in your whiskey!!  Stir, stir, stir. You're done! 

Serve Irish Cream over ice - my favorite way to enjoy this amazing concoction. Or, enjoy in your coffee, tea, over ice cream...the possibilities are yours to create. Transfer any unused Irish Cream into a lidded container and store in the refrigerator. Irish Cream should be used within two weeks, or so. After being stored in the refrigerator, you may have to give your Irish Cream a shake before serving, to distribute and break up some of the cream. Enjoy!!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Chew on This | Homemade Hot Chocolate on a Stick

Still in need of a most excellent gift for family? Friends? Neighbors? Co-workers? Teachers? 
Running out of ideas? Running out of time? How about giving Homemade Hot Chocolate on a Stick? Making these adorable hot chocolate squares is super easy. They make an absolutely delicious cup of cocoa. And, they're a thoughtful, homemade touch no one can resist.


One batch makes between 25 -36 hot chocolate squares, depending on how you cut them. So you'll be getting a lot of gift recipients checked off your list with one batch. I wrap each square individually (one serving) and give at least two squares per recipient. To make the gift extra special, I purchased mugs, put the sticks in them, and wrapped them beautifully.


Happy gifting!!


Cares

Here's our recipe:

Hot Chocolate on a Stick
(recipe adapted via King Arthur Flour)
1/2 C heavy cream
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t cayenne pepper
2 1/2 C dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
1  1/4 C semisweet chocolate chips

8x8" pan lined with parchment paper
25-36 popsicle sticks
cocoa powder -  for dusting

In a sauce pan, combine your heavy cream, sweetened condensed milk, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper over medium-low heat. Vinously whisk the mixture, to incorporate the spices. Heat mixture until steaming. Remove the pan from the heat and add in your chocolates. Allow the chocolates to sit and melt in the milk mixture for about 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes, return the pan to the burner over low heat. Whisk the mixture continuously until the chocolate is completely melted. The chocolate should be thick and shiny.

Pour the chocolate into your prepared pan. Level the chocolate with a knife and allow it to set up overnight. When ready, turn the chocolate out onto a cutting board. Cut the chocolate into squares and dust tops with cocoa powder. Insert sticks into the top of each chocolate square. Wrap each individual square in plastic wrap or a small plastic bag. Gift away!!

*Make sure to give your recipient directions on how to use their Hot Chocolate Stick! 
Place a Hot Chocolate stick into a mug of hot milk, stir, stir, stir....enjoy!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Chew on This | Caramel Popcorn with Peanuts

The Boy found one of his Christmas gifts. Well, it was more of an accidental discovery, he didn't do it on purpose. I had sneakily hidden the present, the game Risk, under a pile of clothes that needed to be folded and put away. I knew it would be very, very unlikely anyone would discover it there. Amazingly, I was incorrect.


The Boy was in awe of the fact that he had found one of his gifts, until I convincingly said that I had purchased the game for someone else. I didn't smile, I didn't blink, and the words were spoken in a nonchalant way, so I was pretty sure I was in the clear. I sealed the deal by saying that I had found out that the would-be recipient already had the game and I would have to return it to the store.

It worked, he no longer thought the gift was for him! Yahoo! Yet he then spent the next fifteen minutes trying to sell me on the idea of keeping the game for him. "Please Mom! I love this game. I've always wanted this game...." On and on he went. On and on and on. Well, I guess I know he'll love opening it up on Christmas morning. Win!


Cares

Here's our recipe:


I'm sure you have plenty of people to love on over this holiday season. Why not make them some of this delicious, and addictive, Caramel Popcorn with Peanuts? It'll make their day!

Caramel Popcorn with Peanuts
12 C popped popcorn
2 C dry roasted peanuts
1/2 C (one stick) butter
1 C sugar
1/2 C honey
1/2 t salt
1 t vanilla
1/2 t baking soda

Preheat the oven to 225℉. Spread the popped popcorn and peanuts out onto 2 large baking sheets that have been lined with foil. Set aside.
In a deep sauce pan, combine your butter, sugar, honey, and salt over a medium-high heat. Stir constantly and bring to a boil for about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and quickly stir in the baking soda. Make sure to incorporate the baking soda completely. Pour the caramel over the popcorn. Toss gently until all the popcorn and peanuts are coated.
Place baking sheets into the oven for 40-45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow popcorn to cool on the pan. Break apart the pieces and enjoy! Store caramel corn and peanuts in an air tight container.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Chew on This | Cranberry Orange Scones

I had company over on Monday. The kind of company that you like to have linger because the conversation is meaningful and the laughing is contagious. The kind of visitor that will be missed when they walk out the door. 

We ate scones. They were delicious. 



You should carve out a couple of hours during this busy holiday season to have some special company over, too. It will brighten your day. 

You should serve them these scones. They're delicious.


Cares


Here's our recipe:


 Cranberry Orange Scones

1 1/3 C self rising flour
1/8 t salt
2 T candied ginger, cut into small pieces
1/4 C dried cranberries
2 t orange zest
4 T grated butter (very cold)
1 egg
orange juice, enough to make a 1/2 cup liquid when added to 1 egg
3 T sugar

Scone topping:
milk
sugar
orange zest
Preheat oven to 425℉.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, salt, candied ginger, cranberries, and orange zest. Grate, or cut, your very cold butter into your flour. Mix ingredients gently.

Crack 1 egg into a measuring cup, then add enough orange juice to measure a 1/2 cup of liquid. Stir to blend.

To the flour mixture, add a bit of the orange juice mixture, alternating with the 3 T of sugar. Mix gently after each addition. When the dough just begins to come away from the side of the bowl, transfer to a lightly floured surface. Shape into a round and cut into 8-10 pieces.  

Place scones on a greased baking sheet. Brush tops with milk and sprinkle with granulated sugar and orange zest. Bake at 425℉ for 10-12 minutes. Serve with preserves and whipped cream. Enjoy!