Strawberry Margaritas

 

I do not enjoy icky-sweet cocktails. These Strawberry Margaritas are just right with no added sugar or gross margarita mix. You can easily double, triple, quadruple, etc… this recipe.

Strawberry Margaritas

1 1/2 ounces tequila
1 1/2 ounces triple sec
1 1/2 ounces fresh lime juice
1/4 cup frozen strawberries
ice

lime slices, to garnish (optional)

Blend the tequila, triple sec, fresh lime juice, frozen strawberries, and about 1/2 cup of ice (more or less, to taste) in a blender until smooth. Garnish with a lime slice.


Minestrone Soup

Minestrone

I have been making this Minestrone Soup recipe for over 20 years. It’s one of our favorite soups. This soup is very versatile and can easily be tweaked to use what you have on hand. Garbanzo or cannellini beans are excellent substitutes for the kidney beans. Other veggies, like green beans, can be added to this soup. If you like a brothier soup, add 1 or 2 cups more of vegetable broth when you add the pasta. This recipe freezes very well.

Minestrone Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
8 cups vegetable broth
1 can (15.5 oz.) kidney beans, drained
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes with juices
1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
2 – 3 teaspoons dried basil
½ cup dry pasta (small shells, ditalini, or elbow macaroni)
2 medium zucchini, quartered and sliced
1 cup fresh spinach or kale (optional)
salt and black pepper, to taste
Parmesan cheese, for serving

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and celery and sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the minced garlic and sauté 2 more minutes. Add the vegetable broth, kidney beans, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, sliced carrots, and dried basil. Bring the soup to a boil, lower heat to medium low, and simmer 10 minutes. Add the dry pasta; return to a boil. Lower heat and simmer 5 – 7 minutes. Add the zucchini and spinach or kale, if using, and cook until tender, about 5 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve. A sprinkle of freshly grated Parmesan cheese is a perfect topping for this soup.


Hot Water Cornbread

 

This is another favorite from my childhood. It’s a Southern classic. My Dad used to add in shredded sharp cheddar cheese, minced onion, and minced jalapenos to his hot water cornbread mixture before frying. Experiment with the add-ins. The possibilities are endless. I like my hot water cornbread simple, plain. I’ve been known to dip mine in ketchup, but others like them drizzled with honey are maple syrup. They go great with a nice pot of pinto beans.

Hot Water Cornbread

2 cups cornmeal
1 tsp. salt
2 cups boiling water
oil for frying

Add about an inch of oil to a cast iron skillet. Heat oil over medium-high heat.

Meanwhile, combine the cornmeal and salt in a bowl. Add the boiling water and mix well. Let the mixture cool slightly. When the mixture is cool enough to handle, shape into patties by forming a ball with about 2 or 3 tablespoons of the mixture and then flattening it into a 1/2-inch patty with your fingers. Fry the patties in the hot oil in small batches, turning often until golden on both sides. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels.


Cilantro Gimlet

Cilantro Gimlet

This lovely green cocktail is a nice balance between sweet, sour, and herbaceous. The cilantro flavor in this drink is not too overwhelming.

I love cilantro, but I understand some people don’t care for the flavor. I think basil, spinach, or arugula could be substituted for the cilantro in this recipe with delicious results.

Cilantro Gimlet

makes 1 drink

1 handful of fresh cilantro (stems and leaves)
2 ounces gin
juice of 1/2 a lime
1/2 ounce of simple syrup (recipe below)
lime slice, to garnish

Fill a cocktail shaker 1/2 full with ice. Add all the ingredients and shake until very cold, about 30 seconds. Strain into a glass and garnish with a lime slice.

Simple Syrup

1 part sugar
1 part water

In a saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Bring to a boil, stirring, until sugar has dissolved. Allow to cool. Store in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks.


Zoodles with Peanut Sauce

I bought a spiralizer at a school fundraiser yard sale for $1 and now that it is summer and zucchini is pleniful, it’s a perfect time to use it to make zoodles (zucchini noodles).

I haven’t had much luck with growing zucchini in my garden. This year, I planted some zucchini in a bucket on my deck and so far have only gotten 2 zucchini from it. They were kind of funky-looking, but tasted great as zoodles.

I have worked on perfecting my Peanut Sauce for years and I think I have finally nailed it. This stuff is great on all kinds of noodles (rice noodles, spaghetti, zoodles, etc…) and as a sauce for grilled chicken (think Satay) and Summer Rolls.

The Peanut Sauce recipe includes a paste made from a clove of garlic. This is an excellent tutorial on how to make garlic paste with a knife. This is how I do it:

Zoodles with Peanut Sauce

Special tool needed:  spiralizer

1 tablespoon (or less) of mild-tasting oil (I used canola)
4 medium-sized zucchini, ends trimmed, spiralized
1 carrot, peeled and grated
prepared Peanut Sauce (recipe below)

fresh cilantro
crushed peanuts

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the spiralized zucchini and shredded carrots and cook, tossing often with tongs, until tender (but not mushy). Turn off the heat and add the peanut sauce to the zoodles. Toss to coat. Serve topped with fresh cilantro and crushed peanuts. Can be eaten warm or cold.

Peanut Sauce

1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced and made into a paste with the side of the knife’s blade (see tutorial video above)
1 – 2 teaspoons sriracha
juice of 1/2 lime
warm water (about 1/2 cup)

Combine the peanut butter, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, garlic past, sriracha, and lime juice. Add water, a little at a time, until you reach a somewhat thick, but pourable consistency. You want it just so that it coasts the noodles but isn’t too thick or too thin. Refrigerate any leftover sauce.


Cinnamon Rolls

cinnamon-roll-lid

Day 12 of LID. I won’t lie, I am sick of being on this low iodine diet. It is easier, in a way, this time, but that doesn’t change the fact it is a soul-crusher.

I had some time to bake this morning and I used my Easy White Bread recipe to create these Cinnamon Rolls. I was really, really happy with the results. These are quite possibly the best cinnamon rolls I have ever made. They definitely lifted my spirits.

Cinnamon Rolls

For the dough:
3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups flour, plus more for kneading
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons yeast

For filling:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 – 3 tablespoons Earth Balance Soy Free Buttery Spread

For icing:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
enough water to make a thick, but pourable icing

Put the dough ingredients into a bread machine in the order given. The yeast should be the last ingredient going into the bread machine. Set the machine to the dough setting and press start. Let the machine do the mixing and kneading for you. Once the machine is finished, turn the dough out into an oiled bowl. Cover and let the dough rise until doubled in size, about an hour.

Punch down the dough and turn out onto a floured surface. The dough will probably be sticky. Knead the dough a couple of times, adding a little more flour to prevent sticking. Flour a rolling pin and roll the dough out evenly into a rectangle that is about 9 X 13 inches. Spread the Earth Balance spread evenly over the top of the rolled out dough. Combine the brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and spread evenly over the Earth Balance spread. Starting at the shorter side, roll up the dough. Pinch the seam to close. Slice into 12 even slices. Spray a 9 X 9-inch square baking pan or a 9″ round cake pan with cooking spray and place the slices in the pan. Let rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

cin-roll

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Bake the cinnamon rolls for 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.

Meanwhile, make the icing. Mix the powdered sugar, vanilla, and a little water at a time until you get a thick, but pourable consistency. Drizzle evenly over the cinnamon rolls.

cin-rollls


Vegetable Jambalaya with Black Eyed Peas

vegetable-jambalaya-with-black-eyed-peas

Happy New Year!!

I’m not feeling too hopeful as 2017 starts. I am trying to counteract my bleak outlook with a New Year’s tradition for good luck, eating black eyed peas. This Vegetable Jambalaya is a delicious delivery system for black eyed peas. This recipe makes a big batch so there will be plenty to share with family and friends or to have for leftovers. I don’t recommend freezing leftovers, though. Upon reheating, the rice gets really mushy.

Serve the Vegetable Jambalaya with Blacked Eyed Peas with crusty bread and a salad for a complete meal.

Vegetable Jambalaya with Black Eyed Peas

3 tablespoons canola oil
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced
1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced
1 14.5 ounce can black-eyed peas, drained
1 15.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, with their juices
3 1/4 cup vegetable broth
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste
1 bay leaf
2 medium zucchini, diced
1 1/2 cups uncooked long grain white rice
2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley (optional)

Heat oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, celery, and carrots.  Cook, stirring, 1 minute longer.

Add the bell peppers, black-eyed peas, tomatoes with juices, vegetable broth, dried thyme, paprika, cayenne, salt, pepper, and bay leaf.  Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, partially covered, for 10 minutes for flavors to blend.

Add the zucchini, turn heat back up to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil again. Stir in the rice, cover, reduce heat to low. Cook for 20 minutes. Do not lift the lid or stir the jambalaya. After 20 minutes, check to make sure all of the liquid has cooked out. If some liquid remains, replace lid and cook a few more minutes or until all the liquid is gone. Be careful not to burn the bottom of the jambalaya. Remove bay leaf, fluff jambalaya with a fork, and mix in the chopped parsley, if using.