Friday, March 29, 2013

Springtime Seed Sowing

It's hard to believe that something as beautiful as these ranunculus were once a gnarly bulb. Have you ever really looked at a flower bulb? It's knobby, dry and doesn't look like much but with some dirt, love, sunshine and rain, it becomes a beauty. It's hard to believe but we still have patches of snow in the yard and the other day, in the corner of my eye, I saw the daffodils beginning to push forth through the earth. It's a miraculous time of year. And as with our deepest desires, we must plant the seed first in our minds and give it the love to watch it grow. Make some time for yourself this weekend to give some thought to what kind of seeds you are planting, in your mind and garden. Give your seeds love and watch them grow all around in your life. Enjoy your weekend and all of the springtime holidays!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Deviled Egg Assortment

Variety is the spice of life and I think that whoever came up with that quote was thinking of deviled eggs. So, I have a secret to share, nothing too exciting just a little tip for making your deviled eggs even more delicious than they already are...Polish mayonnaise. When my husband first introduced me to this mayonnaise, the deliciously silky, smooth texture and distinct flavor sat on my taste buds. It's flavored with an assortment of herbs like tarragon, caraway, juniper, marjoram and coriander and has a high fat content of seventy-one percent. I never had anything like it before. And I couldn't wait to try it in my deviled eggs. And did it do the job of making them even more creamy, rich and decadent. And when you add an assortment of toppings, it just makes devilled eggs, all the better! (If you can't find "Kielecki" mayonnaise, use any mayonnaise that you have on hand, just use a little less and add in a little heavy cream.) You can find Polish mayonnaise down the ethnic aisle, if not there, at any Polish deli. While you are at it, pick up beets with horseradish, some mustard and some slab bacon! Just delicious with deviled eggs. Enjoy!

Going clockwise, goat cheese and dill, anchovy, capers, beet and horseradish, fresh tarragon, bacon, mint chimichurri and sun-dried tomato packed in oil.

For the deviled eggs:
  • 5 eggs, hard-boiled
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise 
  • sea salt
  • ground black pepper

Halve your eggs and remove the egg yolks into a bowl and mash with a fork. Add in your mayonnaise, salt and pepper and continue mashing. Using the back of a spoon works great once the yolks are broken up with the fork. Before filling the egg whites with the devilled egg filling, I sometimes take a little bit of the topping and layer it in the bottom of the egg white shell, before filling it, just for a little surprise and extra flavor. Then pipe on your deviled filling, topping it off with the same topping that was layered on the bottom of the egg. Some great toppings (and bottomings) are blue cheese crumbles, chopped olives, herbs of all kinds, mustard, Sriracha sauce, roasted red pepper slices, pan fried Italian bread crumbs or Panko crumbs, sauteed mushrooms and onions...The list goes on and on...Double the recipe as needed. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Onion Skin Dyed Eggs

When I was little, I knew that Easter was coming just by looking in the onion basket. When there were lots of extra loose onion skins among the onions, I knew my mom was saving them for dyeing eggs. I always looked forward to this, as her eggs were always the prettiest I've ever seen, deep in color. And, maybe it's just my imagination but it makes the eggs taste better. She always made them early on Saturday morning to be put in the Easter basket to be blessed. I always managed to have one before we left to church with copious amounts of my favorite mustard. I'm not sure if it was the egg I really wanted or the mustard, I think the mustard. Lol, either way, enjoy!

Pile the onion skins into a stainless steel pot with a tight fitting lid. (You don't want to use a Dutch oven for your onion skin dyeing. I made that mistake once, not thinking and the onion skin did dye it a little bit, but with time it did come off.) Cradle the eggs into the skins. (I think the more skins the better but this was all I had in my onion basket.)

Cover with cold water, enough to completely cover the eggs. Cover with the lid and bring to a boil. Once the water comes to a boil, take the heat off and let it sit in the water with the skins until the water cools. Once the water cools, remove the eggs from the water and allow to dry on a plate, one that is not light colored. Store in the refrigerator. Serve with mustard, mayonnaise or any condiments you like.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Pistachio & Herb Goat Cheese Balls

Herbed goat cheese bites rolled in pistachio crumbs are such a nice way to start an Easter dinner. I love these! I love starting meals with a cheese platter but come spring time, cheese can be a little heavy. But goat cheese is the exception, being the perfect cheese for spring, light, creamy and tangy. Combine with your favorite herbs and it's a special way to start a meal. These are also nice tossed into a spring mix salad with a balsamic vinaigrette. Enjoy!

  • (1) 10.5 oz. goat cheese
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon finely minced fresh dill
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced fresh tarragon
  • 1/3 cup raw pistachios
  • pinch of sea salt
  • fresh ground black pepper

Using a fork, combine the cheese, herbs, pepper and salt. Adjust the seasoning accordingly, adding more salt or pepper as needed. Feel free to add in any fresh herbs that you like, including parsley or mint. Scoop into heaping teaspoon size mounds and then roll into smooth balls. Using a hand chopper or food processor, make your pistachio crumbs. Roll the goat cheese balls into your pistachio crumbs. Serve right away or chill if making them ahead of time. Makes 17. Enjoy!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Grilled Lamb Chops with Mint Chimichurri

At my first Easter dinner having grilled lamb chops, (about more than a century ago at this point) I covered them with as much mint jelly as possible. I didn't appreciate them as much as I do today. When I was asked with a little bit of a smile, "Mary...are you enjoying your lamb chops?" I replied, "Yes...I just really, REALLY like mint jelly." (Which was true, I could eat mint jelly by the spoonful. I just love it.) But as the years past, I noticed I put less and less mint jelly on my lamb chops and have grown to enjoy them, especially around springtime. So, whether celebrating Easter, Seder dinner or just a nice dinner welcoming spring...Enjoy!

  • 8 lamb chops

For the mint chimichurri:
  • 2 cups loosely packed mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon raspberry white balsamic vinegar
  • generous pinch pink Himalayan sea salt
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • red pepper flakes* optional

Finely chop, mince and mash your garlic. Adding salt always helps with this process. Use a mortal and pestle if you have one, if not, keep mashing and chopping until you get a paste with occasional pieces of garlic, if you are a garlic lover. Combine the mint, garlic, olive oil, vinegar and peppers. Add more salt if needed and let sit at room temperature for about 2 hours, so the flavors blend together. Grill your lamb chops and serve with the chimichurri on the side. Serves 4. Enjoy!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Kale & Pineapple Juice

I wish that I swooned over kale the way everyone else does but it just doesn't excite me, when it comes to juicing those leafy greens. But I know of all the wonderful health benefits of greens and so I've been coming up with different combinations and this juice is by far the best I've made, combining it with pineapple but I still have some experimenting to do. I'm just not in love with it and I want to be! I want to drink kale juice every day and look forward to it. I couldn't help feeling the Friday sillies today and I came up with this poem. It made me laugh and I hope you get a good laugh out of it also. If not, please save your tomatoes for the juicer or your marinara sauce! Have a great weekend everyone!

(cough, cough)
Just clearing my throat.

Why is it when I see you,
I get pale?
And my taste buds fail?
I wish I could send you away by mail
or by sail;
to a foreign land.
Even though you are the Holy Grail;
when it comes to green juice.
But when I think of drinking you,
I rather go play with a moose.

Thank you everyone, goodnight! ;)

For the kale and pineapple juice, juice one LARGE bunch of kale and a quarter of a fresh pineapple. Enjoy! Serves 1.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Obsessed: Pink Himalayan Salt

Obsession is...well, maybe a bit extreme but I am in love with this salt! Is it TMI if I tell you that I like to let a few course grains dissolve on my tongue, one by one? Maybe it is TMI but it's too late now. Maybe I am deficient in something? This salt is abundant in many trace minerals and I'm sure that my craving for it is just my body trying to helping me out. But let's forget about my recently developed salt dissolving habit and get back to pure flavor making magic!

I add it to everything I make and it makes everything taste better, way better. Bland chicken salad? Not anymore, when you add a dash of this. I look at this salt as magic dust for food, enhancing everything from grilled steaks to plain green leaf lettuce salads tossed with olive oil. Don't forget everything else in between from homemade french fries to warm salted caramel brownies. It's a simple ingredient that my kitchen just can't do without! It's a great salt to have in the pantry or at the table. (Or in my case, a few grains around, just to snack on. Lol.) Enjoy taking your favorite dishes to new levels with this pink magic dust.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Grilled Leeks & Beans with Coriander Aioli

Ahh...the first day of spring, although you wouldn't know it looking out the window, with snow on the ground but that doesn't mean we can't celebrate with a light meal that is both rich and filling; grilled leeks alongside buttery beans. Pair this with boiled baby Yukon gold potatoes or brown rice and top with an extra creamy and a little spicy aioli to give it an extra special touch. Happy Spring! Enjoy!

For the leeks & beans:
  • 2 leeks
  • cooking spray
  • 1 15. oz. can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 Campari tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 sun-dried tomato halves, in oil, minced
  • a few capers, drained and rinsed
  • sea salt

For the coriander aioli:
  • 2 egg yolks
  • sea salt
  • 1 oz. olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed and well chopped
  • generous pinch smoked Spanish paprika
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon Sriracha sauce or more to taste

Bring some water to a boil and in the meantime, trim the leeks. Trim the green part and reserve for another use, like a soup or stew. Trim the root, leaving a little bit, keeping the leek together.

Slice down the center and once again lengthwise, cutting it into quarters. And give them a good rinse, removing any sand. Next, assemble them back like a puzzle and tie in place with kitchen twine. This is so the leek stays together and doesn't fall apart as it cooks. Once your water comes to a boil, toss your leeks in and blanch for about 5 minutes. Your leeks are done once the bottom is fork tender. Drain, seperate and spray with oil and season with salt until ready to grill.

While your grill heats up, make your beans and the aioli.  Into a frying pan, melt the butter until it sizzles on low heat. Add in the tomatoes and a little sea salt and increase the heat to medium, until it's bubbling and the liquids of the tomato evaporate, about 2-3 minutes. Toss in the beans and capers until heated through, giving it an occasional stir. Cover and keep warm. Next make your aioli, whisking together the eggs and sea salt, little by little whisk in the olive oil. Season with the paprika and Sriracha sauce for a little heat. Lastly, grill your leeks. I grilled them at about 400 degrees for only a few minutes per each side. But you can always leave them on longer for deeper grill marks. Assemble your dish and season with a little fresh cracked black pepper. Serves about 2.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Pineapple & Allspice Berry Cockail

Late afternoon yesterday, evening and late night were snowy. Spring is a only few hours away but winter is still holding on, strong. I was keeping an eye on the weather reports and knew we would be a little snow bound. I had a loose plan in place to make this drink, so I steeped the vodka with allspice berries Sunday night, just to enjoy it in time to watch the last snow fall. Didn't I think the last storm was the last snowfall? I did, but I realize now, it's not about it being the last or first snowfall, just that it was absolutely beautiful. Enjoy!

  • 4 oz. vanilla or plain vodka, divided
  • about 20 allspice berries, crushed
  • 8 oz. fresh pineapple juice, divided (about a quarter  of a whole pineapple)
  • 8 oz. lemon lime seltzer, divided

Combine the allspice berries and the vodka in a glass and let it sit about 24 hours. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit in the refrigerator. Strain the vodka and combine with the pineapple juice and lastly, top off with the seltzer, give it a light stir. If the pineapple isn't sweet enough, you can always add a little simple syrup to the juice. This recipe serves 2.

This drink is so nice and smooth, it would be great in a punch bowl! Just double or triple the recipe as needed. If making this for a party, making drink markers out of the berries is a fun idea. To make a drink marker out of the allspice berries, use a thick needle, like a crochet needle and thread through the center of each allspice berry, making a hole, like a necklace bead. Using a set of pliers to hold the berry or needle, helps, along with a thimble for your finger. Next, using any color crochet thread you like, thread a few allspice berries onto the thread. Tie a simple knot around your glass and trim the excess thread. You can thread as many or as little as you like, to differentiate the markers (for example, 1 through x amount of berries, depending on how many guest you have.) Or, even better, you can use a silver fine point marker and personalize them.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Cod with Tomatoes, Shallot & Olives

This is my favorite way to make cod. The sweetness of the tomatoes and the salty depth of the olives makes this fish dish extra special and it's on the table in no time. This dish is really simple, so fresh ingredients make a difference in flavor. If you have an olive bar in your supermarket, grab a handful for this dish, it just makes this so much better and grab a few extra so you have something to munch on while you cook. ;) Combine this with a quick brown rice and quinoa pilaf or orzo to complete the meal. You want a side dish that will help you along with enjoying all of the tasty pan juices. Worst case scenario: just get a hunk of bread and really enjoy! Serve with lemon wedges on the side, if you like. Enjoy!

  • 1 pound cod, cut into chunks
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/3 cup sliced thinly shallot
  • 4 Campari tomatoes, halved and sliced
  • about 10 oil cured olives, pitted and roughly chopped
  • handful of pale celery leaves, chopped
  • sea salt (obsessed with pink Himalayan salt right now.)

In a large heavy bottomed pan, combine the olive oil and the shallots and a light sprinkling of salt. Saute on low heat until the shallots are transparent, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in the tomatoes and saute for another 5 minutes until the tomatoes soften and release some of their juices, stirring occasionally. Toss in the olives midway and give it a good stir. Next, nestle in the cod pieces into the shallot, tomato and olive mixture, placing the thicker pieces in the hottest part of the pan. Cover and saute for about 3 minutes then turn over and saute another 3 minutes, until the fish pieces flake. Top with the celery leaves and cover, let sit for a minute or so and serve. Serves 4.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Colcannon with a Sunny-Side Up Egg

So, at the time I didn't know I was eating a traditional Irish dish. But really, when I think about it, colcannon is sort of like the filling in pierogis. When I was younger, my mom would sometimes make this for dinner on Fridays because it was meatless and would top it with a fried egg. My even more favorite version of this was made on non-Fridays, with chunks of fried slab bacon. (I know, I wrong yet, so right.) As I've grown up to make my own variation, I top mine with a sunny-side up egg and the yolk just runs into the natural butteriness of the potatoes (although butter does help the level of butteriness of this dish) and the sweetness of the cabbage. Such great comfort food. This is great for breakfast or dinner. If you like, top the colcannon with crushed potato chips for a little bit of crunch. Enjoy! Happy weekend and St. Patrick's Day!

  • 1/2 a head of green cabbage, sliced and roughly chopped (about 1&1/4 pounds)
  • 4 Yukon Gold potatoes, (about 1&1/2 pounds) peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 medium onion, sliced (a heaping cup)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter plus 2 tablespoons
  • 1/2 cup half and half, divided
  • sea salt (obsessed with pink Himalayan sea salt right now.)
  • 4 eggs *optional
  • a handful of kettle cooked potato chips, crushed *optional

In a large Dutch oven, combine the onions and 4 tablespoons of the butter, allow to sweat, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. (If you like your onions a little more caramelized, allow to brown a little more.) Next, add in your cabbage and sea salt. Cover and cook for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. If it begins to brown, add a little bit of water, about a tablespoon at a time, as needed just to stop the cooking process a bit. The water will evaporate. In the meantime, cook your potatoes until fork tender. Once done, add to your potatoes the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, 1/4 cup of half and half (milk or heavy cream is fine to substitute) and the sea salt. Mash until nice and smooth, although chunks are just fine, if you are in a chunky-mashed-potato-kind-of-mood. Once the cabbage is tender, add in the mashed potatoes and the remaining 1/4 cup of  half and half. Combine well and adjust the seasoning, if needed. If topping with the egg, make the eggs one at a time and keep the colcannon piping hot. Once ready, spread it on a plate and top with the egg and pass around the crushed potato chips. Serves 4.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Going Green Juice II

I'll admit, I haven't quite found the taste for green juices yet. Yet, being the operative word. One day...till that day, a pretty pink striped straw makes it go down a little smoother. Enjoy!

  • 1 cucumber peeled and cut into pieces
  • 1 bunch of beet greens
  • 1 green apple
  • 3 celery stalks

Juice all of the ingredients. Serves 1.

By the time I washed the juicer and got the camera ready, I turned around to find the juice to have separated into what appeared to be a watermelon in a glass, with a pink center and a green rind.

And it made me think of those watermelon ice cream cakes! Do you remember them? Are they still around? I'm going to have to find one! I always wanted one for my birthday and I think this year I'm gonna have to have one! Just that thought alone, made the juice go down a little smoother! Sometimes, it's all about the simple things in life that make me smile and pink striped straws and watermelon ice cream cake have that effect on me. ;)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Ugli (Pretty) Fruit Brulee

I detest that this pretty colored fruit is called ugly. "Can I have that ugly fruit over there?" I ask the guy at the fruit stand. It doesn't sound right and I can't imagine it encourages the young ones to bite into an ugly fruit-unless it's cool or something. "Yeah let's hang out and eat some ugly fruit and watch movies?" Am I over thinking this? Lol, maybe but I really like this fruit with an ugly name. Not only is it's color pretty but it's tasty with it being a mix of citrus flavors. And I think it's beautiful enough to serve for dessert. Enjoy!

  • 1 ugli pretty fruit
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Cut your pretty fruit in half and if needed, trim the bottom so it sits better on your board. Sprinkle the sugar evenly over your fruit halves. (I tried both regular sugar and raw and the regular sugar worked better.) Now the fun part, torch that baby until it starts sizzling and bubbling. I used a Bernzomatic torch with the flame about 3-4 inches away from the surface of the fruit, waving it back and forth slowly so the sugar caramelizes. (When working with your torch please follow all safety precautions.) This could be great when having company over, just use a kitchen torch for a more classier look, lol. ;) Serve a half per person with a scoop of a citrusy gelato on the side with a little mint as a garnish.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Great Northern Beans & Oil

This past Sunday was one of those Sundays where I just wanted to veg on the couch and watch some movies. There was a nice amount of snow on the ground from Friday's storm and it still felt like the familiar comfort and coziness of winter, despite the time change and promise of spring. I just wanted to relish in the last weekend of winter complete with a pot bubbling away on the stove. Once you set this pot on the stove, it's minimal effort to a filling and flavorful dinner. Because this recipe is simple, you want to use good quality ingredients. If you want, you can use more walnut oil and less olive oil. The walnut oil gives this dish the extra richness and creaminess that makes this simple pot of beans extra special. Enjoy!

  • 1 pound dried Great Northern Beans, soaked overnight
  • 5 cups water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons roasted walnut oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • about 5 allspice berries
  • pink Himalayan sea salt (I'm obsessed with this salt right now but any sea salt will be just fine.)

In a large Dutch oven, combine all of the ingredients. (You want to use a nice amount of salt.) Cover and bring to a boil. Once it boils, uncover and lower the heat to low. Simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. The water evaporates and it becomes a creamy almost mash. Discard the bay leaf and allspice and adjust the seasoning if needed. Serve with an extra drizzle of olive or walnut oil and a little fresh ground black pepper. This is nice as a main meal when served with rice and sauteed spinach with garlic. This is great to have in the fridge as a quick side dish. Serves about 4.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Beet, Blueberry & Ginger Juice

I made this juice on Saturday morning before running out of the door and it held me over until way into the late afternoon. It's not only filling but tasty too! If you aren't a fan of ginger you can leave it out or add more if you want more of that gingery kick. Enjoy!

  • 1 pound beets, about 2 large
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries, pureed
  • 1 small piece ginger, peeled
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate juice

Juice the beets and ginger. Combine with the rest of the ingredients and stir well. Serves 1.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Good Deeds Day 3/10

Good deeds can be done year round but it's nice to have a day dedicated to encourage the goodness in the world. On this day, why not share the goodness, no matter how big or small...

  • Getting a coffee that day at your local coffee shop? Why not treat the person in back of you?

  • Donate to a charity that you believe in.

  • Invite a neighbor over for cake and coffee and a shared laugh.

  • Pay the person's toll in back of you on the highway.

  • Donate to a food bank.

  • Buy some seeds for your garden and once it's time, share your harvest.

  • Order a tree for planting this spring.

  • Call someone to catch up and just to make them smile...

Whichever way you celebrate Good Deeds Day, enjoy the goodness of the day and keep spreading the goodness throughout the year...Happy weekend and good deeds day!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Eggplant, Oyster Mushroom & Bean Ratatouille

This is a nice recipe for a weekday dinner and is great for meatless Mondays or Fridays. It's on the table in less than an hour and is a good wholesome meal, especially when paired with a brown rice medley and a side green salad to start the meal. A good ratatouille is always great to have in the fridge for leftovers, especially for those nights when you want a good homemade meal for dinner, without the effort. Enjoy!

  • 1 pound Chinese eggplant, about 5
  • 2 1/2 cups good marinara sauce*
  • 3 1/2 oz. oyster mushrooms, bottoms trimmed and bunches broken up
  • 1 cup cooked Great Northern beans, cannellini beans or small white beans
  • olive oil
  • sea salt
  • ground black pepper

Cut each eggplant in half, lengthwise and drizzle with olive oil and season with sea salt. Grill the eggplant at 500 degrees, a few minutes per each side, until there are some grill marks on them. Once they are grilled, slice them diagonally about an inch in size. Combine the eggplant and sauce in a heavy bottomed pot so the eggplant are in one layer. Bring the sauce up to a boil on high heat, once it does, lower the heat to a low setting and simmer for 20 minutes, covered. Stir occasionally. Add in the beans and mushrooms and simmer for an additional 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Adjust the seasoning as needed. Serve with brown rice on the side to complete the meal. Makes 4 servings. Double the recipe as needed.

*Make sure it states gluten-free on the jar, if gluten is a concern of yours.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Oyster Mushroom Smothered Hanger Steak

The other night, I really craved a steak; a "steak house" kind of steak but didn't want to necessarily go out to dinner. So, with a plan in place to "stay in", I ran down to the grocery store and no rib-eyes...hmm...plan B...hanger steak, which I have never made. It looked pretty well marbled but I was a little suspicious and decided to impart it with extra flavors of earl grey tea, fruity vinegar and earthy mushrooms, just in case. And I was not disappointed, it was mouthwateringly delicious. And tasted like it came right out of a restaurant kitchen, ordered off a menu! Enjoy "going out for dinner" at home! ;)

  • (2) 8 oz. hanger steaks
  • 1 cup earl grey tea, cooled
  • 4 tablespoons apple balsamic vinegar, divided
  • 7oz. oyster mushroom
  • 1/2 cup sliced red onion
  • handful fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • sea salt
  • ground black pepper

Combine the tea and 2 tablespoons of the vinegar, sea salt (obsessed-with pink Himalayan salt right now) and black pepper in a glass bowl and place your steaks in it. Place in the refrigerator and marinate overnight or at room temperature for two hours, flipping, after one hour. While you heat up the grill, in a heavy bottomed pot, heat up the olive oil and the onion on low heat, until softened. If you want your mushrooms to have extra richness to them, add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter with the olive oil. Add in the mushrooms, a little sea salt, pepper, 6 tablespoons of the marinade and the remaining vinegar. Increase the heat to high and stir often. Cook the mushroom mixture down until most of the liquids evaporate, about 5-10 minutes. Stir in the parsley and remove from the heat. If you want your mushrooms and onions to have more of a crust on them, cook longer. In the meantime, dry your steaks and lightly salt them. Lightly drizzle a little olive oil on both sides of your steaks and grill to your liking. (I did about 4 minutes per each side at about 400-500 degrees, for medium doneness.) Let your steak rest, covered for a few minutes. Smother the steaks with the mushroom mixture and enjoy. Serves 2.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

R&R Tonic

I love the Relax tea that Pukka makes. It's wonderful late at night, when you are winding down and getting ready to rest and as the box states, "Relax." And for some reason when I think of truly resting and relaxing, I think back to lazy hot summers of childhood and biting into a juicy peach. There is nothing like that first ripe peach of summer, where the juice runs down your arm. Why am I talking about summer peaches in winter you ask. I just can't wait already! It's a chilly day today but the sun is warming up, making promises of warmer days, soon to come. And that's reason enough to celebrate anytime of the day with this rest and relaxation tonic. Enjoy!

  • 1 heaping cup frozen peach slices
  • 1 cup Relax tea, cooled
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • sprinkling of cinnamon

In a blender or using a hand held immersion blender, combine all of the ingredients. (Vanilla flavored almond milk works great also.) If you would like your drink a little sweeter, sweeten with stevia. Garnish with a sprinkling of extra cinnamon. Serves 1.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Earl Grey Tea Scented Cranberry Beans & Cabbage

Winter is not letting up and a pot of steaming hot beans is wonderful for dinner. It's on the table in about an hour but tastes like it was simmering on the stove all day. When thinking of beans, I'm sure that tea isn't something that comes into mind, but they are unexpectedly delicious when lightly flavored with the depth of Earl Grey tea. And it makes the house smell terrific! The parsnips in this recipe also give the beans a slight sweetness making it a mildly sweet and savory dish. This is really nice served over jasmine rice. Enjoy!

  • 4 cups chopped savoy cabbage
  • 1 cup fresh cranberry beans, (about 1/2 a pound in the pods)
  • 2 parsnips, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup minced red onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup of Earl Grey tea with the tea bag reserved
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 star anise
  • sea salt
  • fresh ground black pepper

In a heavy bottomed pot, combine the onion, garlic and the olive oil, saute on low heat until the onion and garlic are soft, about 10 minutes. Next add in the cabbage, beans and parsnip and cover with the liquids. Toss in the tea bag, (if it's a paper bag transfer the tea into a spice bag and tie with kitchen twine) and the star of anise. Season with sea salt and ground pepper. Cover and bring up to a boil on high heat, once it comes to a boil, lower the heat and simmer covered for about 50 minutes. Test the softness of the beans after 30 minutes and adjust cooking time as needed. Discard the tea bag and the star of anise and serve. Makes about 3 servings. Double the recipe as needed.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Cantaloupe - Green Tea Pick-Me-Up

The sweetness of the cantaloupe gives the green tea a nice twist. This can be made with any kind of fruit juice for a naturally sweetened green tea. Perfect on ice and it's a great little pick-me-up when needed! Enjoy and happy weekend!

  • 1 cup of cooled green tea
  • 1/2 a cantaloupe, cut into pieces and juiced

Blend the tea and juice. Serves 1.