Coconut Margarita

Coconut Margarita

I added a little cream of coconut to a Margarita and fell in love with the results. OMG, why have I not done this sooner?

Margaritas are notoriously high in calories. Some can go as high as 600 calories per drink. Yikes! Triple sec and cream of coconut can add a lot of calories to a drink. By using only a small amount of triple sec and cream of coconut and by not adding sugar (or using a drink mix…which I would never do anyways), I was able to get this Coconut Margarita to come in at 172 calories.

Coconut Margarita

1 1/2 ounces tequila
1 tablespoon (1/2 ounce) triple sec
1 heaping teaspoon cream of coconut (like Coco Lopez)
juice of 1/2 lime

Shake ingredients together with ice in a cocktail shaker. Strain into a glass and serve with a wedge of lime.


Vegetarian Hot and Sour Soup

Vegetarian Hot and Sour Soup

It’s not the prettiest soup, but it is loaded with flavor. I omitted the traditional tofu (and pork) and then added cabbage, carrots, and bamboo shoots to this vegetarian version of Hot and Sour Soup. It’s a delicious and filling soup and it only comes in at around 59 calories per 1 cup serving.

Vegetarian Hot and Sour Soup

Dried shiitake mushrooms and black fungus are some of my favorite ingredients found in an Asian market. They are essential for this soup. Yet another reason to visit an Asian market. Go.

Vegetarian Hot and Sour Soup

6 dried shiitake mushrooms
handful of dried black fungus (also know as wood ear mushrooms)
3 cups hot water
8 cups vegetable broth
2 cups thinly shredded cabbage (green, Savoy, or Napa)
1 carrot, peeled and julienned
1/2 5 ounce can bamboo shoots, drained and julienned
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2-inch piece ginger, peeled and finely minced
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 tablespoons Chinese cooking wine
1 teaspoon sambal olek or sriracha
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 6 tablespoons water
2 eggs, lightly beaten

In separate bowls, soak the dried shiitake mushrooms in 2 cups of hot water and the dried black fungus in 1 cup of hot water until soft, 15 to 20 minutes.  Remove the stems from the shiitakes and discard. Slice the rehydrated mushrooms thinly and return to the soaking liquid. Set aside. Thinly slice the rehydrated black fungus. I find it easier to stack a few pieces, roll them up, and then slice with a very sharp knife. Add the sliced shiitakes and their soaking liquid, as well as the sliced black fungus to a soup pot. Discard the black fungus soaking liquid.

Add the vegetable broth to the soup pot and heat over medium-high heat. Add the shredded cabbage, julienned carrot and bamboo shoots, minced garlic and ginger, soy sauce, rice vinegar, Chinese cooking wine, sambal olek (or sriracha), sesame oil, salt and black pepper. Bring to a boil and cook until the cabbage is tender, 10 minutes.

Stir in the cornstarch/water slurry and cook until the soup slightly thickens, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and then slowly add the beaten eggs in a thin stream while stirring the soup. Serve immediately.


Cilantro Lime Shrimp with Cheesy Poblano Grits

Cilantro Lime Shrimp with Cheesy Poblano Grits

I made this for dinner last night. It was easy and very flavorful.

Cilantro Lime Shrimp with Cheesy Poblano Grits 2

Despite having been in South Carolina for 5 years, I’m still not completely gaga for grits. They taste boring. The addition of cheese and roasted poblanos definitely make grits more exciting for the taste buds.

Cilantro Lime Shrimp with Cheesy Poblano Grits 3

Cilantro Lime Shrimp with Cheesy Poblano Grits
Makes 4 servings

For the grits:
2 poblanos chiles/peppers
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups milk
3/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup grits (not the quick cooking kind)
4 ounces Monterrey jack (or pepper jack) cheese, shredded

For the shrimp:
1 pound shrimp, shelled and deveined
2 tablespoons butter
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
juice of 1 lime

To roast the poblano chiles:
Preheat broiler to high. Place the poblano chiles on a baking sheet and broil, turning every 5 minutes until each side is blackened and charred. Alternatively, if you have a gas stove, you can char the peppers over a flame, using tongs to turn them. Place the roasted poblanos in a large bowl and cover with foil. Let stand 15 minutes. Peel the skin off the chiles, cut in half lengthwise, discard seeds and membranes, and chop.

For the grits:
Bring the water, milk, salt, and butter to a boil. Gradually whisk in the grits. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, stirring often, for 15 – 20 minutes, or until desired consistency. Stir in the chopped roasted poblanos and shredded cheese and take off the heat.

For the shrimp:
Melt the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and cook 2 – 3 minutes, or until no longer pink. Add the garlic and cook another minute, or until the shrimp are completely cooked through. Add the cilantro and lime juice and serve over the grits.


Peach and Blueberry Crumble

Peach and Blueberry Crumble

I picked up 3 pounds of locally grown South Carolina peaches this week at Aldi for only $1.38! I used some of those peaches and some blueberries from our blueberry bush to make this crumble. We ate the crumble with a dollop of whipped cream, but vanilla ice cream or even just a splash of cream is delicious too.

Peach and Blueberry Crumble

4 peaches
1/2 cup blueberries
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup oats
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup sliced almonds
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter (or substitute coconut oil)

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Cut the peaches in half and remove the pit. Slice or chop the peaches and place in a small baking dish. Add the blueberries to the peaches and sprinkle with the sugar (you can skip the sugar or adjust the amount to suit your taste) and gently stir to combine.

In a bowl, combine the oats, flour, sliced almonds, and brown sugar. Work the butter into the mixture with a fork, pastry cutter, or your hands. Spread evenly over the fruit in the baking dish. Bake at 350° for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the crumble is golden brown and the fruit is bubbly. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 


Baba Ganoush

Baba Ganoush

After hearing about my eggplant dilemma, my friend, Donna, directed me to this recipe for Baba Ganoush. I am a big fan of Mediterranean food, but surprisingly, had never had Baba Ganoush. I simplified the recipe a bit and it turned out well. I included it as part of a mezze-type-thing with fresh pita bread, kalamata olives, hummus, sliced grilled zucchini and fresh tomatoes with balsamic glaze, and sweet mini peppers. There was also a salad of chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet onions, and bell peppers. I intended to add feta to the table, but totally forgot. I served Vinho Verde, a young, light, and slightly bubbly Portuguese wine with our meal.

Baba Ganoush

1 large Italian eggplant
1/4 tahini (plus more, if needed)
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (plus more, if needed)
pinch ground cumin
salt, to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat the oven to 375° F.

Using a fork, pierce the eggplants all over. Place the eggplants on a baking sheet and cook in the oven for 1 hour, turning half-way through cooking. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Cut off the ends of the eggplants and discard. Peel off the skin. Use a spoon to scrape off any flesh left on the backside of the peel. Place the eggplant flesh in a large bowl. Using a fork, mash the eggplant.

Add the 1/4 cup tahini, garlic, 1/4 cup lemon juice, and cumin and mix well. Season with salt, then taste and add more tahini and/or lemon juice, if needed.

Spread into a serving dish and drizzle with the olive oil. Serve with pita bread.


Cucumber Gin and Tonic

Cucumber Gin and Tonic

This is a very refreshing cocktail. The cucumber slices and celery bitters add vegetal flavors that really enhance the classic Gin and Tonic. I found celery bitters at a local liquor store, but you can buy them online too.

Cucumber Gin and Tonic

Cucumber Gin and Tonic

1 1/2 ounces gin (I like navy-strength gin)
4 cucumber slices (plus another for garnish)
2 – 3 dashes celery bitters (optional)
ice
4 ounces tonic water
lime wedge (plus another for garnish)

Combine the gin, cucumber slices, and celery bitters. Add ice and then top with the tonic water. Squeeze a wedge of lime in the drink. Garnish with a cucumber slice and a lime wedge.


Kale and Posole Soup

Kale and Posole Soup

This is one of my favorite soups. I make it often.  If I happen to have some poblanos in the fridge, I will chop one up and add it to this soup to kick up the spice level a bit.

Kale and Posole Soup

1 tablespoon oil (I use canola mostly)
1 medium onion, chopped
6 medium cloves garlic, minced
8 – 10 cups vegetable broth
1 bunch kale, cleaned, ribs removed, and chopped
1 jalapeno, stem and seeds removed and minced
1 15.5 ounce can hominy, drained
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes and their juices
1 medium zucchini, diced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste

Heat the oil in a soup pot. Sauté the onion over medium heat until soft, add the garlic and continue to sauté for another minute. Add remaining ingredients, except the zucchini and cilantro. Bring the soup to a boil on high heat. Once it comes to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes, uncovered. Add the zucchini ands simmer another 5 minutes. Add the cilantro and season the soup to taste with salt and pepper.

Serves 4