Tuesday, May 23, 2017

All That...And A No Bake Peanut Butter Pie Too


"To be outstanding get comfortable with being uncomfortable" ~ Unknown

If you have been to North Carolina there is no disagreement, its a beautiful state from its bustling cities, expansive farmland, to the mountain landscape of southern Appalachia.

Getting off the beaten path and taking the road a little less traveled results in the adventure, more often than not, being worthwhile.  You have the opportunity to slow down, take your time and enjoy.

While visiting my family in North Carolina I had an opportunity to venture off the beaten path a couple of times. 

I finally had the opportunity to meet Rebecca Subbiah a long time and favorite blogger of mine.  She has taken her passion to a new level and has become a new farmer and founder of LadyBird Farm in Yadkinville.  A small vibrant farm community nestled among the rolling hills of the back country.  Rebecca is focused on growing farm fresh organic vegetables and edible flowers.  She also has a flock of happy hens enjoying the farm life.  I really enjoyed the time spent with Rebecca albeit too short.  


Another trip off the beaten path brought me to Hamptonville, North Carolina.  A small Amish community belonging to the New Order of the Union Grove founded in the 1980's. Today, there are about 31 New Order Amish families living in and around Hamptonville.  It was interesting to learn this sect of the Amish are allowed to use electricity off the power grid while still adhering to strict traditions of plain dress and travel by horse and buggy. 

Spent a lovely couple of hours with a best friend of my sister.  We enjoyed a wonderful deli lunch at the Shiloh General Store, while sharing good laughs, and stories.  

The view on this beautiful warm spring day was incredible.   Our lunch view included watching a momma keep a close distance and eye on her rambunctious foal.  These are moments when you believe, if only for a few seconds, in the simplicity of life.



A reminder not all needs to be complicated.  Here is a simple and delicious frozen No Bake Peanut Butter Pie (Think Reese's peanut butter cups).  Perfect for the hot months of summer. 


No Bake Peanut Butter Pie
Makes Two 9" Pies
Recipe from all recipes.com


Ingredients:
1- 8 ounce cream cheese
1-1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup whole milk
1 16 ounce frozen whipped topping, thawed
2- 9'' prepared graham cracker crusts

Directions:
Beat together cream cheese and confectioners' sugar.  Mix in peanut butter and milk.  Beat until smooth.  Fold in whipped topping.

Spoon into two 9" graham cracker pie shells; cover, and freeze until firm (about 2 hours).

Optional: Drizzle with chocolate syrup

Enjoy!










SaveSave

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Tuscan Style Ribolita with Sausage and Kale


Ribolita translated from Italian means "reboiled".  Translate "reboiled"  in english equates to "leftovers".  This is a hearty peasant stew with a thousand Italian family variations.  There are a few core ingredients; tomatoes, kale (dark green variety known as lacinato), cannellini beans, and stale bread.  I did not include the bread in this particular recipe but, you can easily prepare a few toasted croutons with olive oil and Parmesan cheese to top this delicious stew.

The idea behind this stew is to use what you may have leftover from a couple of days of meals.  If you are eating pretty good you will probably have a few vegetables to add to the pot, and maybe even  a leftover baguette from the weekend to make a few croutons.  The stew is versatile and can be made ahead of time and with any variety of vegetables you may have available.

This makes for a big pot on Sunday and a healthy lunch or dinner throughout the week.




Tuscan Style Ribolita with Sausage and Kale
Serve 4-6



 Ingredients:
1-1/2 lbs. sweet or hot Italian sausage (removed from the casings)
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 small red onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
8-ounces fresh kale, stemmed, ribbed and chopped
1-28 ounces can diced tomatoes
2-15 ounces cans Cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2 teaspoons chili pepper flakes
4 cups chicken stock


Directions:
Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large pot over medium-low heat.  Add onion, carrot, garlic and chili pepper flakes to the pot.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook, tossing occasionally, for 5-6 minutes, until the vegetables have softened.  Add the sausage and cook, breaking up the meat into pieces, until browned, for 3-4 minutes.

Add the diced tomatoes, cannelloni beans, chicken stock to the pot.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 10-15 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.

Add the kale to the pot and cook, covered, until the kale has wilted.  Season with salt and pepper, if necessary.

Enjoy!
SaveSaveSaveSave

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Mediterranean Style Three-Bean Salad

Beans are under appreciated in the American diet.  A budget friendly staple packed with fiber and plant based protein, not to mention a list of vitamins and minerals (Vitamin B6, Potassium, folate, magnesium etc...).  It's recommended we consume 25 mg of fiber each day.  A half-cup of cooked beans delivers a whopping 10 mg!  

So, why don't we eat more beans? Some will say they cause issues.....I say, add beans to your regular diet and the issues will go away. 

This Mediterranean inspired bean salad is tasty, super healthy and is loaded with a variety of beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, feta cheese, parsley, cilantro and tossed with a light lemon-olive oil vinaigrette.  This makes for a beautiful summer salad or as an entree with crusty bread.




Mediterranean Style Three-Bean Salad
Serves 4-6


Ingredients:
15 oz. red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
15 oz. black beans, rinsed and drained
15 oz. garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
Pint cherry tomatoes, halved
Small red onion, diced
1 English cucumber, seeded and diced
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
3 oz. crumbled feta cheese (generous handful)

For the dressing:
Juice from 1 lemon, more if desired
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3-4 Tablespoons olive oil (or more to taste)
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Directions:
In a large bowl, add beans, cherry tomatoes, red onion, cucumber, parsley, cilantro and feta cheese.

In a small bowl, or a mason jar with a lid.  Add lemon juice, garlic, Dijon mustard, olive oil, salt and fresh ground black pepper. Whisk (or shake) all the ingredients together until well blended.

Add dressing to salad.  Toss. Chill for about an hour.  Serve.


Friday, February 24, 2017

Savoring the Season: A Southern Old-Fashioned Cocktail


Our good friends invited us over for a new cocktail they were enjoying.  Typically, not fan of whiskeys but we were pleasantly surprised.

Old fashioned cocktails have a place in American culture. This cocktail dates back to 1806.   A recipe which included a mix of spirits of any kind, water, sugar cubes and bitters.   Leave it to the American mixologists to grow tired of the "traditional" and start adding a "new" fashioned approach to the "old" fashioned.  No doubt the traditionalists were agape in horror at the idea of adding oranges, cherries and even pineapples to a original four ingredient cocktail.  It would not be American if we did not twist and change the elements to bring about a modern twist on a very traditional cocktail.

On a whim we packed our bags and spent a few days in the beautiful city of Charleston, South Carolina.  With our friends cocktail still fresh on our minds, and an attempt to recreate it on our own prior to leaving town...our awareness was at a peak when we discovered the south takes it old-fashioned cocktail quite seriously.   This porch sipper gains momentum in the south with the first turn of autumn and continues long through the spring.

This version of the old-fashioned cocktail was discovered while on a walking food tour of old Charleston and belongs to the Cocktail Club Lounge located in the historic district and dedicated to the "art of the craft cocktail."

Enjoy the warm, sweet southern feel of a modern Old-Fashioned cocktail.




Southern Old-Fashioned Cocktail
Serves 1
Recipe from Cocktail Club (Charleston)


Ingredients:
2 brandied cherries
1/2 orange slice
3/4 oz simple syrup
3 oz. rye whiskey
Angostura or Peychaud bitters
soda water
lemon peel


Directions:
1.  Muddle cherries, orange and simple syrup in a tall glass, then fill with ice.

2.  Add rye whiskey and stir with a spoon.

3.  Add several dash of bitters, to taste, and stir.

4.   Pour into double old-fashioned glass, and top with a splash of soda water.

5.  Squeeze and twist the lemon over the cocktail, and run along the rim of the glass.

Enjoy!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Savoring the Season: Moroccan Chicken and Vegetable Soup with Chickpea Croutons


This morning I woke-up to a chill in the air.  The bone chill jumped started my winter weekend with an outrageously comforting healthy winter soup.  With heaps of seasonal vegetables, and rich sources of antioxidant spices like turmeric, cumin, ginger and cinnamon, provided incredible flavor and reduced the need to add additional fat or salt.

Who says soup toppings have to be boring when you can enjoy fiber rich chick peas tossed in warm spices and slow roasted.  Save the extra!  They are perfect for enjoying as a healthy snack.

This soup is easily doubled and tripled. Can serve a crowd or batch frozen to enjoy another day.



Moroccan Chicken and Vegetable Soup with Chickpea Croutons
Serves 4-6
Recipe from Clean Eating


Ingredients:

Chickpea Croutons
1-15 oz. can cooked chick peas, drained and rinsed, patted dry
1-1/2 tablespoons coconut oil
Pinch sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch ground ginger

Soup
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 stalks celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
1-1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric 
3/4 teaspoon each ground ginger and cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch ground black pepper
1-18 oz. unsalted diced tomatoes (with juices)
1 teaspoon sea salt + additional to taste
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced (about 1 lb.)
6 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth, or as needed
2 cups diced or shredded cooked chicken
1/4 cup each chopped fresh cilantro and flat leaf parsley
3 cups lightly packed fresh spinach leaves
1 lemon, cut into wedges

Directions:
1.  Prepare chick peas:  Preheat oven to 400 F.  Place chickpeas on a parchment-lined baking sheet; remove any loose skins.  Roast for 20 minutes.  Add 1-1/2 tablespoons oil and a pinch of salt; toss.  Return to oven; roast for 15 to 20 minutes more, until golden brown.

2.  Turn oven off.  Toss chickpeas with 1/4 teaspoon cumin, 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon and pinch ginger.  Return to oven with door closed and heat off for 1 hour, or until crunchy.  Set aside to cool.

3.  Meanwhile, prepare soup:  In a medium stockpot on medium, heat 2 tablespoons oil.  Add celery, carrots and onion.  Cook until tender, about 6 minutes.  Add turmeric, 3/4 teaspoon each ginger and cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon cumin and black pepper and cook for 1 minute, stirring.  Add tomatoes and 1 teaspoon salt.  Cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

4.  Add potatoes and broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered for 20 to 25 minutes, until potato is tender.

5.  Add chicken, cilantro and parsley and heat through, 2 to 3 minutes.  Add additional broth to thin out as desired; season with additional salt as needed.  Stir in spinach.  Top servings with chickpeas and serve with lemon wedges.




Monday, January 9, 2017

Fresh Buttermilk Dressing with Herbs

Never underestimate the power of a dressing to transform the most simplistic of salads into something memorable.  I have been unwavering with my family and friends to throw away bottled salad dressings.  Take a few minutes and make something real.  So, if you are willing to step-out and make a great salad dressing, here is a recipe for you.  Takes only a few minutes and you will never look back.

This dressing serves beautifully with a simple wedge salad,  blue cheese and crumbled bacon.  Finish it off with a few good cracks of black pepper and only good things will happen. This dressing also makes for a beautiful dip to serve with fresh cut vegetables.



Fresh Buttermilk Dressing with Herbs
Makes 2 cups
Recipe from My Recipes



Ingredients:
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons minced shallot
1 small minced garlic clove
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
2 teaspoons finely chopped chives
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon whole grain dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a 1-quart glass jar with a tight fitting lid.  Shake vigorously until well combined.  Chill for 30 minutes.  Refrigerate in jar for up to a week.

Enjoy!



Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Scenes from my pantry: Italian Bean Ramen

My youngest son departed for the college this year.  His exodus left us with an empty nest and ramen noodles.   A case of ramen noodles tucked into the trunk of his car now seems like overkill, and we are left with at least half of case of chicken flavored ramen noodles.  This may be destiny as we experience the waves of college expenses.  

Who knew the internet was filled with recipe ideas using packages of ramen noodles (Of course, minus the flavor packet).  I came across this very easy recipe with a twist on fast minestrone soup which is perfect for a weeknight meal or a work lunch box.  

This is proof you can create a healthy and satisfying meal from a package of ramen noodles.



Italian Bean Ramen
Serves 4
Recipe from allrecipes

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
3/4 teaspoon salt
5 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1-1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh or 1-1/12 teaspoons dried rosemary
3 medium carrots, sliced
2 large celery stalks, diced
1 medium boiling potato, died
4 cups water
1 (15.5 ounce) can cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 (3-ounce) packages ramen noodles, coarsely broken in package (flavor packet discarded)
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
6 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:
1.  Heat oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat.  Cook onion with salt, covered, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 10 minutes.  Add garlic and rosemary and cook, stirring, 1 minute.  Add carrots, celery, potato, and water and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until carrots are tender, about 15 minutes.

2.  Puree 1/2 cup of beans with 1 cup of soup broth in a blender.  Add to soup along with remaining cup of beans and diced tomatoes and bring to a boil.  Add ramen stirring occasionally, until just tender about 3 minutes.  Stir in parsley.

3.  Sprinkle 1 tablespoon Parmesan over each serving of soup.

Enjoy!