I love a good cockatil but sometimes I'm just too tired to mix up a bunch of stuff. Those kinds of days I turn to the good old Stirrings brand mixers I can pick up down the street at the Food Lion. Today I turned to Lemon Drop, cranberry juice and bourbon. Inspired by a Blizzard cocktail I replaced the lemon juice/sugar of tradition with the ease of the lemon drop martini mix.
Lemon Drop Blizzard
3 oz Stirrings Brand Lemon Drop Martini Cocktail Mixer
2 oz Bourbon
1 oz Cranberries
Shake with ice.
Serve in highball (or if you are in the South like me a Mason jar) with a few cranberries.
After my second fall in the South I realized I don't see as many cranberries as I'm used to in my past life as a Northerner. I'm not talking about the sweetened dried variety, I'm talking a good plump tart cranberry in a salad or dessert. I know I see the sauce, but I want the berries! Since I don't live near any bogs I found the next best thing at my local Lowe's Foods freezer section, Cape Cod Select Cranberries! They are the beautiful plump berries I've been missing. They are great straight from the bag to keep a punch bowl festive and cold. Thawed, they are a perfect replacement for the fresh natural berry I'm used to in salads or desserts. Lately I was looking for something different so I put them in this favorite recipe of mine for gluten free breakfast bars. Inspired by a blueberry version at a co-op up north the cranberries are a natural here with a hint of orange to brighten them up. I used Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free flour here, Oats and Baking Soda here to share with my gluten intolerant friends.
5. Spread cranberry mixture evenly over cooked crust and press remaining oat mixture onto the cranberries, being careful as the cranberries are hot.
6. Bake bars 18-20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire rack. To cut bars, lift the parchment sling out of the pan and cut into desired sized bars. The bars will keep a few days in the fridge.
In our sous vide class this was my favorite dish. The vegetables with the horseradish creme fraiche is amazing and so simple! This helped sell me on the immersion circulator.
Olive Oil Braised Vegetables with Horseradish Creme Fraiche
Braise, Milwaukee WI
8 ounces baby beets, blanched, peeled and quartered
4 ounces carrot, cut into 1/2" logs
4 ounces rutabaga, diced
4 ounces parsnip, cut into 1/2" logs
4 ounces celery root, diced
3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh marjoram or thyme, chopped
Horseradish Creme Fraiche:
1 cup creme fraiche
2 tablespoons horseradish
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1. In a small bowl; whisk horseradish, lemon juice and salt into creme fraiche. Set aside.
2. In medium sous-vide bag; add 1/2 cup olive oil, carrots, rutabaga, parsnip and celery root, season with salt and pepper. Place in immersion circulator at 185 for 35 minutes. In small sous-vide bag; add 1/4 cup olive oil, beets, season with salt and pepper. Place in immersion circulator at 185 for 30 minutes.
3. To serve; gently spoon warm vegetables and beets into serving bowls and top with a dollop of creme fraiche.
In April of 2013 we began our sous vide journey. I signed us up for a class @ Braise Culinary School, one our favorite places on earth. We were going to learn how to do sous vide at home without buying expensive equipment. The class was great, very inspirational and ended with us heading straight to Williams Sonoma the next day to buy the Poly Science immersion circulator and a vacuum sealer. I was unsure that this was a good plan even after the class. What sold me was eggs! It's so easy to throw eggs in there and have them perfectly cooked.
Three years later we are still using it quite often. Matt will get meat that is already vacuum sealed and throw that in. We'll seal inexpensive cuts of meats in simple marinades. I was never a big fan of tempeh but cooked in a vacuum bag with a balsamic marinade makes one of the best things I've ever eaten! I've done many desserts in mason jars in there!... bread pudding, cake, cheesecakes, pudding to name a few. I have a long list of techniques to try. I even read you can brew beer in there!
Here is the reference we use most often from class. Times/temperatures are helpful and we've adjusted slightly for our tastes.
Another winner from one of my favorite co-ops, Outpost in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Peas are one of my favorite and carrots make a great companion. This makes great easy side dish.
Herbed Peas & Carrots
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
2 medium shallots, peeled and finely chopped
1/4 cup cold water
16 ounces frozen peas, thawed
1 tablespoon fresh italian parsley, minced
1. Heat butter and oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Once butter foams, add carrots and shallots and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until shallots are translucent and soft, about 10 minutes.
2. Add water and continue to cook until liquid evaporates and carrots are tender about 5-6 minutes.
3. Add peas and cook until heated through, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in parsley, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and serve immediately.
This is a recipe I've had since well before I moved South as I have always been a big sweet potato fan. This is a simple sweet hash from a book called True Grits... Tall Tales and Recipes from the New South.
I will confess I'm not a huge fan of soup... usually lots of effort for so so effect. J. Kenji Lopez-Alt completely changed my mind after I made his tomato soup from his comprehensive book, The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science. I hear him on my favorite podcast, Cooking Issues and finally checked out his book. It's a great read, with lots of basic tips on upgrading the usual favorites. My first one I tackled is the tomato soup and it has made it into the weekly rotation. So much I have the Muir Glen's on my amazon subscribe and save!
I started making this in winter when I didn't have fresh herbs so I topped with homemade basil oil which complimented this perfectly.
15 Minute Pantry Tomato Soup
The Food Lab by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups onion, finely diced
1 pinch red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 cans 28 ounce whole tomatoes , with juice
1/2 cup whole milk or heavy cream
black pepper, freshly ground
2 tablespoons whiskey, vodka, or brandy
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs - parsley, basil or chives
1. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until softened but not browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the pepper flakes and oregano and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, with their juice, and stir, scraping the flour up off the bottom of the pan. Add the milk or cream and cook, stirring occasionally and breaking up the tomatoes with the spoon, until the whole thing comes to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 3 minutes.
2. Remove the soup from the heat and puree using an immersion blender. Or transfer to a standing blender, in batches if necessary, and puree, staring on low speed and gradually increasing to high, then return to the pan. Season the soup to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the whisky, if using, and bring to a simmer. Serve immediately topping each serving with a generous drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of herbs, and if you like a crack or two of freshly ground pepper, with grilled cheese sandwiches alongside.
I love making granola bars. Here's one from Vegetarian Times. I found it a little on the sweet side but others I served too find it just right. Next time I'd reduce the amount of sugar. They are a little sticky so to store for on the go I wrapped in tin foil.
Chocolate Coconut Oat Bars
2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup almond meal
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 cup extra virgin coconut oil
1/2 cup agave nectar
1/2 cup natural cane sugar
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 275. Combine oats, almond meal, shredded coconut, and cocoa powder in a large bowl. Mix well.
2. Combine coconut oil, agave nectar, and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar dissolves and mixture is hot (not boiling). Pour over oat mixture and stir until well mixed and cooled slightly. Stir in chocolate chips, quickly but thoroughly.
3. Press the mixture into an ungreased 8x8" pan and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely. Cut into small squares.
I love to try new things... updates on classics like the Chocolate Chip Cookie top that list. This winner comes from Mary Jane Farm magazine's favorite things Feb-Mar 2010 and I agree! The addition of coconut and oats along with the chocoate and peanut butter chip combo really upgrades this classic!
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Mary Jane Farm
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup coconut shreds
2 cups semisweet chocolate chip
1 cup peanut butter chips
1. Preheat oven to 375. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats and set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt; mix well.
3. In a large bowl, combine butter and sugars; mix until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla; mix well.
4. Gradually add flour mixture to wet ingredients and stir just until combined. Stir in oats, coconut and chips.
5. Drop by rounded tablespoon 2" apart on prepared sheets. Bake for 10 minutes.
Horchata is a drink I love and am lucky enough to live near many great Mexican restaurants that serve this. After a recent drink special at my favorite place I couldn't get enough and wanted to make some at home. I remembered my Mexican cooking class at Braise and the version we made there.
Braise Culinary School, Milwaukee WI
12 tablespoons long grain rice, pulverized
12 ounces almonds, blanched
2 inch cinnamon stick
2 limes, zested
2 cups sugar
4 1/2 cups water, hot
1. Mix hot water with everything except sugar. Let sit overnight at room temperature.
2. In blender, blend until smooth and no longer feels gritty. Add 2 cups water. Strain through 3 layers of cheesecloth.
3. Add 2 cups water and stir in sugar.
is the smallest kitchen ever. We used to watch those decorating shows that said they were doing small kitchens and then could see that 4 of my kitchens would fit in their "small kitchens".
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