Friday, May 30, 2014

Overnight Mexican Egg Casserole


Weekends call for relaxation in my book. Of course, this applies when there is no gardening or laundry, so for me this weekend doesn't qualify. But last weekend sure did! You already know that Alex and Zoe were home and because of that I made sure to not have anything to do! I like to spend all of my time with them. I'm not sure it always works that way on their end, but they give it a good try! 

Making this egg casserole was one way to keep things simple. Our family is together not often enough, in my opinion, so I love to start with a proper breakfast. And since Zoe didn't arrive until midnight Friday, it seemed a good place to begin. Breakfast often gets overlooked and I think that's just too bad. Breakfast helps set the tone of the weekend and when the kids were young we always had at least one big breakfast scheduled. Actually, looking back, I think we did it because it was one way to guarantee them waking up before noon. Hey, it worked, and most of the time they were half asleep, but in a pretty good mood.

During their high school years I used to make this breakfast casserole, because it seemed upon waking there were always a few more souls in our house. I also made it when there were a lot more souls, for events like prom and homecoming. Our house was quite popular back then and it probably has to do with the fact that our lower level opens to the outside. I am sure there was plenty of sneaking in and out during the late night hours.


Well, it has been a long time since I made this, but it still lives up to its reputation. It is easy and quick and upon waking only requires a preheated oven. I had some cinnamon rolls in the freezer and took those out to serve with it. Bacon is always good, too and a bowl of fruit works nicely. It is a satisfying breakfast and on the right occasion is my absolute fave. Trust me. 15 kids will devour this in an instant, without even swallowing.

I know you have seen this recipe around. It is a keeper. I'm going to give you my new highlighted version which is another name for blogger hindsight. I should have put this. Or that. Yes, it will be a lot better with the chorizo and onions, I wish I'd added. On the other hand, no additions are needed. Because who doesn't love waking up to breakfast, however it is served?

Notes: I made this for the four of us in an 11x7 pan which is about 8 servings. If you want to make this in a 13x9 pan just add 4 more eggs and 4-6 T more of milk.


Overnight Mexican Egg Casserole
Serves: 8-12 depending on size of pan
Ingredients:
4 c. frozen, shredded hash browns or O'Brien cubes (Buy the large bag, but you may not use them all.)
3-4 c of shredded cheese (I used a combo of cheddar and pepper jack)
2 4 oz cans of diced green chilies (drained) or Hatch chilies
1 lb chorizo cooked and drained (Depending on the size of pan, you may not use this all)
1 c diced onions cooked with the chorizo
8 eggs
1 c half and half or milk
1/4 c heavy cream
3/4 c sour cream or plain yogurt
3/4 t of garlic powder
1 t of Lawry's seasoning salt

Directions:
Butter the dish you are using. Take your potatoes of choice and put about a 1 and 1/2" layer of frozen potatoes in the pan. Sprinkle with 1/2 of the cheese. Spread green chilies on top of cheese. Put layer of chorizo/onion mix on top of the chilies. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top of that.

Beat eggs, half and half or milk, cream, sour cream or yogurt and seasonings. Whisk well. Pour over potato layers. If layers are not covered with liquid, feel free to pour more milk or cream over the top. (You just want the layers covered.) Now cover with wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight.

The next morning, take pan out of fridge. Preheat oven to 375. Bake 50-60 minutes until golden. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes. This can be served with salsa and sour cream or green or red chile.

Now make a cup of coffee. Get the Sunday paper and relax until everyone wakes up!

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Other great Breakfast Dishes:





Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Red Canyons and Black Bottom Cupcakes


 Sometimes I think spring break was invented just so I would want to go to college. Of course, I didn't know that until I went to college, but I have to admit that upon graduating college, (yes, I did!) I really missed spring break. It took about 10 more years in the work force and then 5 more years before my kids were old enough, to start back down the spring break road. And now I miss spring break again!

Though Alex is out of college now, he reminded me of the time Manservant and I went to Moab one spring break. Now Alex wasn't on spring break,  (yeah, I know you are getting tired of those two words), but ski season was over and work was slow so he decided to go with friends and raft part of the Green River. Well, many moons ago, I think about 36, Manservant and I went backpacking in the Canyonlands area, and camped on the Green River. 

After a dose of realizing I am now old, well, at least older than Alex, I took the time to remember my Edward Abbey moments and the fact that I was able to hike down and then back up, through steep red canyon walls and live to tell about it. Canyonlands is special and if you haven't made it there or placed it on your bucket list of national parks to see, you should! The solitude and peacefulness of the place has never left my memory. Well, that and still being able to marvel that I actually carried everything I needed for, I think, 3 or 4 nights in the wilderness.

Anyway... Alex came home for a few nights to see his sister who came home for Memorial Day. (If you have been wondering why I haven't been commenting on your blogs it is because when Zoe is around, my time is truly consumed.) And Alex's trip triggered my memory of my long ago adventure and this cake! No, I did not pack this cake into my backpack way back when... But I did make this cake as cupcakes for our road trip to Canyonlands. And during those 3-4 nights camping by the Green River, those cupcakes were taking up space in my orange hatchback rabbit left in the parking lot, waiting for us to return.

So while we were consuming our beans and our soup and our basic grub, these cake/ cupcakes were being dreamt about. And of course, the moment we made it back to my bright orange car sitting in the hot sun,  we discovered these black beauties. With sweat and dust dripping down our faces, we devoured them. One by one. Two by two. Those puppies were gone to wherever good puppies go!

And so it was, that Alex and Moab reminded me that it was time to resurrect this recipe. With Zoe coming home a celebration  cake was on the menu. After all, she hasn't been home since Thanksgiving! And so these truly memorable cupcakes became a cake. Because cake is special. And so is Zoe. And Canyonlands. And Alex. And Manservant. And family.

Okay. Maybe you can't get to Canyonlands, but you can bake this cake.  Then get our your favorite Edward Abbey book. Sit in the hot sun. And dream. Of red canyons and muddy rivers and wide open spaces. It does the soul good.


Black Bottom Chocolate Bundt Cake or Cupcakes

Serves:  12 as a cake or about 20 cupcakes
Preparation Time: About 15 minutes active time, 40 minutes baking
Ingredients:
8 oz softened cream cheese
1 egg
1/3 c sugar
1/8 t salt
1/2 t vanilla
1 c chocolate chips

1 1/2 c flour
1 c sugar
1 t baking soda
1/4 c unsweetened cocoa (extra for dusting pan)
1/2 t salt
1 c water or coffee
1/3 c vegetable oil ( about 1-2 T extra for greasing pan)
1 T white vinegar
1 t vanilla

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Grease a Bundt pan really well. I brush it well with oil and then sprinkle cocoa on the sides to dust the pan.

Place cream cheese, egg, sugar, vanilla and salt in a bowl. Beat well until smooth and fluffy. Stir in chocolate chips and set aside.

In a large bowl, add flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa and salt. Stir well. In a large measuring cup, combine water or coffee, oil, vinegar and vanilla. Make a well in dry ingredients and stir in wet ingredients. Combine well.

If you are making cupcakes, fill cupcake liners 1/3 full. Top with a dollop of cream cheese mixture. If you are making cake, pour about half the batter into the Bundt pan. (This doesn't make a tall cake as there isn't quite enough batter, but it does work!) Now spread the cream cheese filling over the batter. Top with the other half of batter. Spread well, so that the cream cheese filling isn't showing.

Bake at 350 on the middle rack about 40 minutes for a cake, 25-30 minutes for cupcakes.

You can top this with a chocolate glaze. I take about 2 T of cocoa and 1 cup of powdered sugar and add 2 tablespoons of milk plus a 1/2 t of vanilla. Stir with a whisk until the lumps are out. If it is too thin, add some more powdered sugar. If it is too thick add more milk.  If you want it  plain, just leave the cocoa out. I used plain and chocolate, just to make it decadent, but one or the other will do!

Tomorrow is the last day to enter the $25 Whole Foods gift card giveaway!



Bring your favorite chocolate dessert to Roxana’s home baking #chocolateparty and win amazing prizes from Imperial Sugar®Gold Medal Flour®Safest Choice™ Pasteurized Eggs and KitchenAid®




Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Cauliflower Chutney for the Girl Who Doesn't Like Mango!


So you think you want the cauliflower chutney recipe? I admit I thought it was a bit odd to pair with crab cakes but since Tribeca Grill did...well, it was worthy of a try. Yes, I must admit that they know what they are doing and they are certainly way more creative than me. I would have been happy with French fries but sometimes it's good to shake things up. Yes, you all, this chutney did just that.

Little did I know that chutney is really just a relish made to add flavor to food. It can be sweet or spicy, wet or dry. And it can contain almost anything. Typically the ingredients involve something acidic such as lemon juice or vinegar, and a fruit, vegetable and a spice. I love Indian food and my only experience with chutney has revolved around that. I've had mint chutney and cilantro chutney and the above mentioned mango chutney. Now I adore mangoes, but not in chutney form!

Different varieties of chutneys are found in different regions of India. It seems the sky is the limit when it comes to chutney. Kind of like thinking Heinz 57 except with a lot more varieties. And that is kind of how I think of chutney now that I did a little more research. Though chutney is certainly not ketchup it could be used to jazz up most any food in the same way that I used to use ketchup as a kid. Well, I admit to also using it to cover the taste of foods I didn't like, and maybe that's what some chutney lovers do too!


Using cauliflower in a chutney doesn't seem very common, but I'm not sure there is anything common about Tribeca Grill. However, tomatoes and raisins are found a bit more often. I adapted this recipe from a book I'm really enjoying, "Made in America-Our Best Chefs Reinvent Comfort Food" by Lucy Lean. (Love her name!) Cauliflower chutney was a recipe even Manservant enjoyed and he is not big on vegetables. Flavorlicious and a touch spicy, I could even see this on a burger, or a rack of lamb. Or a piece of grilled fish. You know what I'm talkin' about!

I used tomato sauce, instead of tomato paste. I like things a bit saucier, so I took liberties, one says. My mother might say I made it more ketchupy. Good word, huh? Time now to think outside the box and get on with it. This is seriously good stuff!


Tomato, Cauliflower and Raisin Chutney
Adapted From: Tribeca Grill
Serves: 2 as a side dish or a chutney!
Time to prepare: about 45 minutes total
Ingredients:
1 1/4 c cauliflower, cut in good sized florets, caramelized
2 T butter
1 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 shallot, thinly sliced (My shallot was big, so I am guessing it was about 1/3 c)
1 c tomato sauce
1 T anchovy paste or 2 anchovy fillets
1 T sugar
Pinch of red hot pepper flakes
8 plum tomatoes quartered 
1/4 c white wine
1 t capers
1/3 c golden raisins

Directions:
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 T butter. Add cauliflower and toss in butter. Cover. (This helps cook the cauliflower while also letting it get nice and golden.) Check every few minutes so that it doesn't burn. Let it get golden on all sides until it is nicely caramelized. This takes 10-15 minutes. Do not cook on too high a heat or you will burn the cauliflower and not cook the inside of it!

Remove from pan and set aside. In the same pan, add 1 T of olive oil and saute the garlic and shallots over medium heat for about two minutes. Add the tomato sauce, anchovy paste or fillets, sugar and pepper flakes. Add tomatoes, wine and capers and let simmer for about 15 minutes. Do not overcook or reduce further. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. (If you want it spicier, saltier or sweeter, now is the time!)

Fold in cauliflower and raisins and cook about 3 minutes longer.

More to try:


Thursday, May 15, 2014

Time for Crab Cakes!


Something about the smell of spring always finds me needing crab cakes. It appears to be a biological urge related to my pregnancy, about 24 years ago. Yes, I know it sounds weird. I also "needed" McDonald's small cheeseburgers, that now I would probably throw up if I had a bite. The same street also found me at a Chinese restaurant needing sesame chicken. And I kid you not; that was the best sesame chicken I ever ate. Alas, that restaurant is a long time gone. Luckily, I have the recipe and make it when necessary. But today I'm feeling crab cakes.

No, Denver is not known for crab cakes. But the year I was pregnant found me doing a lot of travelling. Yes, I was doing as much as I could before being home with two babies. And I was charmed and feeling good. I couldn't stand the smell of breakfast, but anything after that was fair game. So, April of that year found me in DC and Baltimore where Manservant had a conference.

I remember I had a big red top with a white Peter Pan collar which made me a very stylish, very pregnant, woman. Definitely one that  was on a quest to find the best crab cake in the area. While Manservant was busy doing whatever it is manservants do, I was off tasting crab cakes. Really. I went to the market in Baltimore. I went to Annapolis. I went to where ever anyone told me I should go. Yes, I was on an adventure to digest as many crab cakes as I could before I had to fly back to Denver. After all, big red tops hide a lot! Presumably.


I like crab cakes. They aren't as messy as eating the crab with the shell. And they almost always come with French fries. They are easy to make, totally simple to eat and they are special. At least when you live in Denver. Shout out here, please. Do any of you East coasters take crab cakes for granted? I hope not. And don't even get me started on clam rolls or lobster. Those were devoured on another trip to Cape Cod and I wasn't even pregnant then.

So Trader Joe's opened across the street, about a mile down the road. (That totally makes sense, I know.) In Denver, this was a BIG deal. I am really not believing the traffic because of this. But anyway, I've never had a Trader Joes to shop at, and I am still wondering what all the fuss is about. However, what I've bought from there is really good. And really cheap. For the most part. Maybe that is what all the fuss is about!  I just wish they would give their flowers water. Poor flowers.


Well, you know where I'm going with this. Trader Joe's had lump crab meat. And It was labeled Abbe's crab meat. Well, not really. But I do really feel it had my name on it. It was packaged by Chicken of the Sea and though it didn't come from Baltimore, it was pretty good. Not quite as salty sweet as the ocean, but in Denver we have learned to sacrifice. And I did sacrifice one 8oz can to make 4 good sized crab cakes which was enough for Manservant and me.


No, I didn't make the French fries. We are on a diet. Hush, I say. And are crab cakes dietetic? Well, I suppose that depends what kind of diet it is and my lips are sealed. Well, this diet requires a lot of protein and that's all I'm saying. After all, the best crab cakes are filled with crab, not breadcrumbs. This is an important fact when it comes to crab cakes. You get what you pay for, folks! Don't pay crab prices for bread! The crab monger in Baltimore told me this. And he told me how he makes crab cakes, which is basically what I do. At least the part I remember. After all, it was a long time ago...

This recipe is a fancy Baltimore crab cake. At least how I remember a Baltimore crab cake. I'd be happy to visit again to see if my memory serves me right! Always buy lump blue crab, if possible. You have to splurge a bit because you really want to be able to taste the crab and having big pieces of crab allows that. I have also bought good crab at Costco, and I'm telling you that because I know we are on a need to know basis here. Right?

I served my crab cakes on a cauliflower chutney. Weird, I know. But it was really good. I mean REALLY GOOD. I'll give you that recipe next. The spicy sweetness of the chutney really blended well with the richness of the crab. And besides the recipe was courtesy of the Tribeca Grill, so you know it has got to be good. Let's face it crab cakes are good on their own, on a brioche roll with tartar sauce, or even over mashed potatoes. From my experience there is no bad way to have a crab cake, UNLESS it is a bready crab cake. Horrors!

So let's get to it. Be ready to stuff your face with crab!


Old Bay Crab Cakes
Adapted From: Tribeca Grill
Yield: Serves 2
Ingredients:
8 oz lump crab meat
1 T finely diced red pepper
1 T finely diced yellow pepper
1 T finely diced red onion
1 T Old Bay seasoning (this is also great on fries or potato chips)
1 1/2 T mayonnaise
1/2 T yellow mustard
1/2 T dijon mustard
1 large egg
1/2 t Worcestershire sauce
1 t minced Italian parsley
1/2 c panko bread crumbs or cornmeal

In a mixing bowl, add peppers, onion, Old Bay, mayonnaise, mustards, egg, Worcestershire, parsley and 1/4 c panko bread crumbs. Mix well. Slowly fold in crab, trying hard not to break up the big pieces.

Form into 4 cakes. Dredge on all sides in the other 1/4 c of panko crumbs or cornmeal. I like that, too! Place on plate and chill in fridge for at least 20 minutes before cooking.

Heat 2 T oil in a nonstick skillet over medium high heat. When oil is hot, add the crab cakes and cook on one side until golden brown. Flip carefully and brown the other side. This usually takes about 5 minutes per side.

Serve this in the chutney which is coming next or serve on a nice soft toasted bun with fancy tartar or cocktail sauce. Or you can eat these without any accompaniments at all! These are out of this world. And remember, you should always trust a pregnant woman, even when she isn't pregnant!

And don't forget to enter the $25 Whole Foods gift card giveaway!

More to try:




Tuesday, May 13, 2014

NanaCakes Chocolate Banana Bread and a #Whole Foods #Giveaway!


Every now and then it is nice to have a helping hand in the kitchen. I'm not necessarily
talking about an extra pair of hands-though those would be nice-I'm talking about something that would help take breakfast, lunch and dinner decisions off my plate. At least every once in awhile. Let's face it-even the best of us get in a rut here and there. So, it was with anticipation that I awaited the latest Whole Foods box to see if they could help.

This month Whole Foods was kind enough to send a sample of the chocolate variety of NanaCakes, but they also come in multi-grain and oatmeal. (How did they know chocolate was my favorite?) Just to let you know, which you must if you read my blog even a tiny bit, I don't use many convenience foods. I mean I don't even know what to look for when I go to the grocery, because I just don't buy the stuff. No reason, really. I just prefer my own. 

Well, the times are slowly changin'. And these NanaCakes helped do that. Looking at the label revealed nothing that I wouldn't put in my own pancakes or baking mix. And probably they were even healthier than what I would do.
      


 So, that left the real question. How did they taste? No, I didn't make the pancakes; but I have enough mix to do that this coming weekend. I decided to take pity on the three brown bananas on my counter and make some chocolate banana bread. 

Yum! Total yum!  This stuff is really good. Moist and chocolatey and great texture. No one would ever know this bread wasn't from scratch. Plus one can bake so much with it. Yes, I know life is to short to eat boring pancakes-at least that's what NanaCakes says. I agree. But life is also to short not to have brownies and muffins and cakes and sometimes time is of the essence. Check out their website and Facebook page for tons of ideas.


May is the perfect month to remember mom-yes, I know Mother's Day is over, but who said Mom is just limited to a day? Make her some pancakes for brinner. Or top some with ice cream and syrup for dessert. May is also a great month to recognize teachers and what teacher wouldn't want a loaf of this bread and a mix of their own? 

NanaCakes are a Colorado product. They are found in regional Whole Foods and King Soopers and online! Ask for NanaCakes if you can't find them. Make your kids happy to wake up in the morning. Serve them NanaCakes. Serve me NanaCakes, too!

Whole Foods is giving away 1 $25 gift card to help fill your basket.  All opinions expressed are mine, baby. All mine. This giveaway is easy to enter as long as you live in the US. Giveaway closes on May 29th. Subscribe if you don't want to miss the announcement of the winner or tune in on May 30th to see if you won!  The winner will be chosen by a Random Number Generator! So now, to enter: (dahdah, dah, dah, de DAH!) Enter once by leaving me a comment and telling me what you would make with a NanaCake Mix. Enter again by following me on Pinterest or Facebook or Twitter. I'd love you to subscribe. Hey, I'll give you 2 entries for subscribing!


NanaCakes Chocolate Banana Bread
Yield: 1 8x4 loaf 
Ingredients:
1 c ripe mashed bananas - about 2 or 3
2 eggs
1/3 c oil
1/3 c sugar
1 t vanilla
2 c NanaCakes Chocolate Mix
1 c chocolate chips
3/4 c fresh raspberries (These are optional, but they do give this deliciously sweet loaf a little tang!)
Hershey's syrup - (Totally optional, but totally good!) 

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Grease an 8x4 loaf pan. Mix bananas, eggs, oil, sugar and vanilla in a medium bowl. Stir in 2 c of mix and chocolate chips and raspberries, if using. Scrape into prepared pan. Spread Hershey's syrup on top of loaf and use a knife to marble it in.

Bake for about 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into middle of loaf comes out clean or with just a few crumbs. Let cool. Slice and enjoy!


   

Friday, May 9, 2014

Every Mom Needs a Gardener!


It's not Mother's Day yet, but I'm getting ready. There will be no kids to bring me flowers or make me breakfast this year, but that's OK, I understand. Really, I do. Really, really, I do. Yes, I do. Maybe a card will come in the mail, but yes, life does move on and I do get to see them both soon and I just saw them a few weeks ago, so I'm not complaining. But I did love Mother's Day when they were young. It was fun to see their cooking skills improve as they got older. Yes, they made me eggs benedict with smoked salmon, but usually it was an omelet. Manservant used to do that part. And they always brought it to my bed on a tray that was needlepointed for me by Ilse, my third grandma. The blue tray always always held the one bloomed red tulip that was in the front yard closest to the front door.

Usually the weather was nice, so we went for a bike ride on the canal and sometimes we I even made a picnic. Often we did yard work and planted flowers and it was the one day they were always eager to help. Well, this year will find me in the yard if the weather holds, (though it isn't supposed to) because I am way behind in my yard work. We have an incredible amount of dandelions and I have no idea why. The weeds are already tall and I need to get things in shape before Zoe arrives for Memorial Day.

Gardening has put me in the mood for one of my new favorite cocktails. I discovered this when we ate at Alex's restaurant. Well, not really Alex's restaurant. Don't I wish? But the restaurant where Alex works. Matsuhisa makes what they call a gardener's cocktail. I don't know where this came from, but now that I am paying attention I see they are on a lot of restaurant menus, though they are all made a bit different. The one key ingredient they all seem to have is something fresh and herby and green. I've seen these made with cucumbers and basil but Matsuhisa's is made with ginger and jalapeno and cilantro.



I only consumed one while we were there, so this drink is based on my incredible memory and a few questions I asked the bartender. Manservant did the rest. He is the mixologist in our family. I am the drinker. I just wanted that to be clear. I am the cook. He is the eater. We have very established roles in this pack. 

And now I can see why many bloggers post drinks on Friday. What a great day to get the weekend started. Yes, I am sitting here in this highly charged, very creative environment, sending out this somewhat dizzy blog. And this doesn't feel like work. It feels like I need a nap. And then maybe when I wake up there will be a fresh one waiting for me!


My highly creative environment with one too many computer screens!
I love this drink. Yes, it does work great with Asian food, but it would be great with Mexican food, too. Or a burger for that matter. It has some spice, some herbiness (is that a word?) and it is such a beautiful shade of green. My kitchen is painted bright green, so I like green. And green does remind you of a garden, right? Well, maybe not my garden... I have never had much of a green thumb, but I try really hard.

We made this drink in Phoenix when we were visiting and my mother had a sip. Then she had two sips and before you know it, it was gone. Now, on a side note I should mention that my father has a really incredible wine cellar. And they both love wine. But I discovered something about my mom. She loves cocktails. Yes, she does. And cocktails love her. She relaxes and smiles more and I think really enjoys the happy hour. Especially the French onion dip. She even complained when Manservant made me a drink and didn't offer her one. Yes, I do think she'd choose a cocktail over a glass of wine. 



As a child, I remember my mom and dad attended many cocktail parties. She always wore a little cocktail dress and blue eye shadow and Joy or Shalimar perfume. She smoked her cigarette while she applied heavy makeup in the bathroom. She doesn't smoke or wear heavy makeup anymore, but I just needed to set the scene. She always had hair that looked a lot like Jackie's. Her clothes looked a lot like Jackie's, and if you don't know the Jackie I'm talking about, just look up 1962. I was 5. And my mom was gorgeous. And glamorous. And I loved to watch, but I hated that cigarette. And then they left; after the babysitter had come. And the lingering trace of perfume and smoke was in the air, while we ate pizza rolls and watched Disney or Batman.

So Mom! This drink is for you! Have Dad make you one. Or two. And enjoy your Mother's Day. I'm thinking of you. Here's sending you a virtual hug and kiss and a Happy Mother's Day. And the best part is, I'll be drinking one, too. Love you, Mom!



The Gardener (by way of Matsuhisa and the Manservant)
Yield: 1 Cocktail

Chill your glass. I used what you see, but a martini glass works, too. Or a high ball. You can do this on the rocks or not. I am not picky. Keep your gin chilled, too. It is important to always be ready, because you never know when the need for a drink will strike. Make sure you use clean ice, because the freezer can impart weird flavors to the ice. Manservant told me to rinse the ice. I did.

Ingredients:
Ginger - Peeled, so there are no floaties. Manservant told me to say this. When it comes to drinks, I take him on his word. You will need 1 peeled slice, about an 1/8" thick and in a 1" round size. Ginger is not perfectly sized, so do your best.

Jalapeno - 1 unseeded 1/4" thick slice

Cilantro - 1/8 c (No need to chop)

Now put those three things into a shaker. Muddle them well. Be aggressive. Manservant told me I wasn't being aggressive enough when it came to muddling. So just break that shit up.

Now add:
1/2 shot of freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 shot of Agave nectar or simple syrup
1 shot of Hendricks gin

Add some ice (no fancy ice in this house) to your shaker that is filled with cilantro, jalapeno and ginger. Add the lime juice and agave and gin. Now shake. Be aggressive with the shake, too. Strain into glass of your choice. Drink. Feel the green. Be a wild and crazy mother for Mother's Day. Your kids will not forget, I promise. That is if they are there...

Matsuhisa says to try another version made with fresh red peppers. We haven't gotten to that yet. But we will. I also think that adding club soda to this would make a lighter, more sparkly drink for  the wummer. I mean summer. Your choice. Happy Mother's Day!


One too many gardeners!









Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Hearts of Palm, Avocado and Orange Salad or Have a Heart!


So you want something to go with that Peruvian chicken? Or maybe something to impress Mom on Mother's Day?  After all, hearts of palm are really the heart of the palm tree. They are the inner core of various palm trees and are now cultivated so that the entire palm tree doesn't have to be destroyed for our enjoyment! And yes, some of us know them as swamp cabbages.

 I'm not sure when I first ate them but I believe my mother used to extoll the virtues of this gourmet ingredient. I'm sure they were probably diced up and sprinkled on top of a Bibb lettuce salad and drizzled with a bit of vinaigrette. That is always a good way to go with hearts of palm. But this is better.

I don't know about you but I always seem to have one avocado laying around that needs a home. And I always keep a can of mandarin oranges in the pantry. When my kids were young they often ate them straight from the can. Cute little orange slices help make kids eat their food-even if it is a salad. Plus they are pretty. And colorful. And hearts of palm? Well, those are just a good pantry staple to have on hand. Let's face it. If company is coming, they help take a salad from ordinary to extraordinary.





If you haven't had hearts of palm, it is hard to describe how they taste. They are mild, and though they aren't crunchy, they do have a bite to them. They taste a teeny bit salty and lemony and are often used in place of artichoke hearts. Or vice versa. They have a rich mouth feel and I could eat them straight out of the can or jar. They have about 4g of protein and fiber in each cup, which isn't bad for a cute little swamp cabbage.

So now you know how this salad came about. That chicken was staring us in the face and it needed a salad. Have some hearts! Serve mom some hearts! And enjoy!



Hearts of Palm, Avocado and Orange Salad
Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:
1 T mayonnaise
1 T sour cream
6-8 drops Cholula hot sauce or your favorite
2 t fresh mint
1 T chopped cilantro
1/4 t salt
3 grinds of fresh pepper
1 c drained hearts of palm
1 can of mandarin oranges in light syrup, drained
1 avocado, peeled and cut in chunks or slices
1 T minced red onion

Combine mayonnaise, sour cream, hot sauce, mint, cilantro and salt and pepper in a bowl. mix well. Add in sliced hearts of palm, drained oranges, and avocado. Stir in red onion. Toss well. Serve and enjoy something different!



Great Foods for May: