Monday, July 10, 2017

A Taste of Honey Fruit Salad

Mint, ginger and lime combine with honey to add a bit of refreshing but tangy sweetness.


Mist rose up from the lake in the cool early morning; later this Ozark camp setting turned wicked hot.


Last week Roy and I had the privilege of working at a church camp in Lebanon, Missouri to help pay the tuition for one of our Sunday School kids back home. As we have always found, when we volunteer, we are the ones who seem to reap benefits. We loved the beautiful setting, the wonderful people we worked with, and the experience that an angel would whisper a solution in our ears when we didn't quite know how to fix something! 


One of the families we worked with was from Florida. Besides working and raising a busy family of three daughters, they also raise bees, harvest and package the honey, and then sell it. Thaddeus, the dad, held a little tasting and explained some things to us about honey.


Not all honeys were created equal! Notice the difference in color?


I was surprised to learn that most of the honey we buy in stores comes from China but it can also contain honey from the Ukraine, Argentina, and Brazil. But what really shocked me was that the Chinese honey is so filtered that every bit of pollen is gone from it and up to 12% of it is allowed to be corn syrup. That means that all the health benefits that it is supposed to have are gone from the honey bought from a regular store like Walmart.


Thaddeus said that honey really does vary in taste according to what kind of flowers the bees are located around. He had some amazing tasting honey he called "Fire Tower Palmetto". He moved some of his hives to an area that had a recent wild fire and the only plants that had blooms were palmettos.


Now I understand why buying local honey from small batch producers is so important. However, Thaddeus told us that labeling honey as organic is really a falsehood. No one can tell where exactly a bee will fly off to before returning to a hive and bees often travel several miles more than bee keepers realize. 


After tasting five different kinds of honey we bought a couple of jars and I had to post this yummy fruit salad which uses honey in its zesty dressing.


For more information on  Penfield Honey Company and how to order their honey  Click Here. 



A Taste of Honey Fruit Salad

Ingredients:

6-8 cups fresh fruit, cubed (mango, cantaloupe, red or green grapes, blueberries, watermelon, pineapple) 
2 tablespoons fresh ginger root, minced 
2 tablespoons lime juice 
1 teaspoon lime zest, finely grated 
¼ cup honey 
¼ cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
A sprig or two of mint leaves 

Directions:

     Whisk ginger, lime zest, lime juice, and honey in a small bowl.  Set aside.  Mix assorted fruits and chopped mint in a large bowl.  Add dressing and toss to coat. Garnish with mint sprigs.



Thursday, May 25, 2017

Curried Broccoli Salad with Dried Cranberries, Walnuts, Pepitas, & Sunflower Seeds


There are plenty of raw broccoli salad recipes out there, but I like this one best. It's got curry powder and a sweet/tangy thing going on that I can't resist. A lighter version can be made by substituting olive oil for the mayonnaise and increasing the apple cider vinegar. It's even further variable because it can be loaded up with other options such as dried fruit, nuts, and raisins. Once I even threw a 1/2 cup of trail mix in and everyone loved it! This winter when we were RVing it down in Florida, it was my standard pitch-in offering. And, embarrassing but true, once I had such a bad craving for it, I actually made it in the motor home while Roy was driving 70 plus mph! 


Ingredients:



1 large head of broccoli
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup walnut pieces
1/4 cup pepitas 
1/4 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
Optional add-ins: 1/4 cup each of dried apple pieces, regular and/or golden raisins, almonds 


Combine together in large bowl.


For the Dressing:


1 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

*Lighter dressing: sub 1/2 cup olive oil & 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar for top 2 ingredients


Mix together until smooth.


Pour just enough dressing over broccoli mixture to coat.


Place in a serving bowl and enjoy.




Saturday, May 13, 2017

Say Hello to the Queen!



The other day I was scrolling through WordPress Reader, looking at posts of blogs I follow, when a "suggested" one popped up. It was actually a political rant from England, but it mentioned a dessert I'd never heard of before: Hello to the Queen. The narrative suggested that it was well known so I Googled it. It turns out it's a dish that served in the touristy places where backpackers in India hang out. I searched a bit and found it mentioned in a handful of blogs such as Salad Days. The consensus seemed to be that once a guy from Israel asked for all the ingredients in this sundae  - only in huge amounts. He put it all together and gave it a grand name. Other travelers thought it looked pretty good and so it became a common request along the hiking circuit in India. As far as I could tell it always has a base of a broken up Digestive brand biscuit or a graham cracker square, followed by warm chocolate sauce, caramelized bananas, vanilla ice cream, and finished with whipped cream. I read that some include chocolate chips, nuts, and even marshmallows - so I think anything goes.  It's so easy kids can make it if an adult helped them with the caramelized bananas.  Below is a no frills recipe for caramelizing the bananas as well as the steps in assembling this super easy glorified banana split.


Easy Caramelized Bananas  



Place 1/4 cup butter, 1/4 cup brown sugar and a couple bananas that have been cut in half and then lengthwise into a stick proof skillet. Gently give just a stir or two while the butter and sugar melt over medium high heat.  



Let the banana pieces sit undisturbed in the melted mixture for about 5 minutes a side or until they are lightly browned. Be careful when turning the banana piece over so it will stay together. 


Directions for Assembling Hello to the Queen:









Break up a Digestive biscuit or graham cracker square in the bottom of each serving bowl.





Drizzle one tablespoon of  warm chocolate sauce over the biscuit.




Add two caramelized banana slices to each bowl.





Set a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.




                 

 

 Heap on the whipped cream.





Drizzle another tablespoon of chocolate sauce over the top and dig in!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

David's Key Lime Pie with a Chocolate Crust





One of the best things about spending time in Southwest Florida is key lime pie. During my time there this winter, it was definitely my dessert of choice and I sampled lots of different varieties. Some were like cheese cake, others were frozen, and one was even blended with mango. However, this version won out because of the sheer boldness of pairing something tangy with an Oreo cookie crust. I got this recipe from Roy's childhood Sunday school/high school pal, Judy. She is a petite ball of energy with a huge heart. Her husband David developed this amazing dessert by using key limes right from a tree in their yard. Besides being a whole lot smaller and and a little bit harder to juice than regular limes, key limes seem to be tarter as well. I bet regular lime juice could be substituted, but the result might be less tangy. What ever juice is used, the first bite of the resulting pie will conjure up images of palm trees, sandy beaches, and endless summer! Enjoy! 


Ingredients:


3 egg yolks
1 egg
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
Juice from about 18 key limes (1/2 cup), or Nellies brand key lime juice
Oreo cookie pie shell
Whipped cream or Cool Whip
Extra lime slices for garnish

Directions:



Using electric mixture, combine all ingredients together for 3 to 4 minutes. 



Pour into Oreo cookie pie shell, Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes.



Let cool, then place in refrigerator to chill. Garnish with lime slices. Serve with whipped cream.



Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Lamb Lollipops with Lemon Yogurt Sauce



Last December we had the wonderful experience of exploring the South Island of New Zealand with two of our daughters. It is an understatement to say it is breathtakingly beautiful! In the Down-under, our winter is their summer and they were just coming out of spring when we were there at Christmas time. We found ourselves traveling from Dunedin to the old mining town of Cardrona on Christmas Eve. Since all the stores would be closed the next day, we stopped at a grocery along the way and I found a package of lamb lollipops that had been price reduced for a quick sale. This was a real find because, as it was explained to me, lamb in New Zealand is priced even higher than in the states due to the fact that most of it is exported. I fixed the recipe posted here on Christmas day and it was so, so delicious! Now that we are home and it is spring time, I found myself craving some lamb lollipops! Once again I lucked out and found it at Sam's Club for five dollars a pound (again reduced for quick sale). However, I had to do the lollipop prep myself. I just sliced the rack into chops and scraped the flesh on the bone downward to fashion out a rounded shape at the bottom. "They" say that marinated meat in citrus is a no-no, but in this case the combination of lemon, rosemary, and garlic with the flavor of the lamb is fantastic!


Ingredients and Procedure for Lamb Lollipops and Lemon Yogurt Sauce - Servers 4 to 6


2 pounds Frenched lamb rack
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves put through press or 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3/4 cup Greek yogurt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Remove lamb rack from package, slice into chops by cutting between bones, and push down flesh so remaining bone looks like a lollipop stick. Place in an oven safe baking dish.


Whisk together oil, lemon juice, garlic, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Set aside 2 tablespoons of the mixture. Pour remaining marinade over the lamb in the baking dish.



Bake 20 minutes if chops are less than an inch thick. If the chops are larger, bake 10 to 20 minutes longer. Internal Fahrenheit  temperature will be 145 for rare, 160 for medium, 170 for well done. 



Stir the 2 tablespoons of set aside marinade into the yogurt until well combined.


Serve the lamb lollipops with the lemon yogurt sauce on the side.



Saturday, March 25, 2017

Soup in a Snap: Kale, Butter Bean, and Ham



This winter when we were living the Florida RV life, the campground we stayed at in Fort Myers had an added amenity. It was right across the street from ECHO Global Farm and Research Center, a nonprofit faith-based organization that is dedicated to finding agricultural solutions to fighting hunger in Africa and urban food deserts in the United States. They used discarded tires, cement blocks and even old carpet to grow all manner of veggies - especially leafy greens. Every Friday, they sold the produce to the public and I found myself buying lots of kale. We ate it in salads and crispy fried it to sprinkle over eggs, but we also enjoyed it in soup. This one is healthy but still robust enough to be hearty on a chilly spring day. A bonus: it can be make in a snap!



Ingredients for Four Servings:




4 good sized cloves garlic, put through a press or finally minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 (8 oz.) package of diced ham or 1 cup of left-over ham
2 (14.5 oz.) cans beef broth
2 (16 oz.) cans butter beans, rinsed and drained
1 large bunch kale, ribs removed and chopped (Lacinato is nice, but any variety works.)
1/4 teaspoon pepper



Procedure:



Place olive oil in large saucepan over medium low heat. When the oil shimmers, add the garlic. Cook for a minute or until the garlic browns. Add the ham and cook, stirring occasionally, until it browns - about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the broth and scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen up any bits that might be clinging to the bottom. Then gently stir in the beans, chopped kale, and pepper. Bring the mixture up to a boil, then turn it back down to medium low heat and allow to simmer for five minutes. Ladle into soup bowls and serve.





Sunday, March 5, 2017

Asian Burritos



Last weekend I found myself in a little predicament. We had come back home after being in Florida just in time to host an extended family get together. Because of the circumstances, I fell back on my usual easy go-to meal for a crowd: Classic Coleslaw and Barbecue Baked Beans. But since it was way too cold to grill, I took the easy way out and oven roasted pork loin with a neutral rub. I served it sliced thin with BBQ sauce and little slider buns. That turned out great; my problem was that the next day, I still had a houseful of people to feed and nothing in the refrigerator but left overs! I had a package of flour tortillas, extra cooked pork, the remains of a vegetable tray, an unopened bag of coleslaw mix, and some Asian condiments. The perfect thing to do was make Asian burritos. It turned out to be a big hit - maybe even more fun than the dinner the night before. Everyone could make their own just the way they wanted and we all had a good laugh at my ineptness at rolling a burrito!


Ingredients:



Ingredients for Six Burritos:


1 pound cooked pork tenderloin cut into 18 slices (suggestions for cooking below)
6 large flour tortillas
1 1/2 cups carrots, cut into matchstick sized pieces
1 1/2 cups cucumber, cut into matchstick sized pieces
1 1/2 cups red onion, cut into thin slices
3 cups white vinegar
1 (14 oz.) package of coleslaw mix
1/2 cup olive or vegetable oil
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar or white vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon garlic chili sauce, divided (I used Huy Fong brand)
1 cup mayonnaise
Bunch of fresh cilantro 




Suggestions for Cooking the Pork Tenderloin



As I mentioned above, I just used a very neutral, but still delicious rub and baked it in the oven at 425 degrees. For a one pound tenderloin, a cooking time of 20 minutes will yield an internal temperature of 145. For those who like their pork on the well done side, 30 minutes of cooking time will bring it up to 155 degrees and 40 minutes brings it a bit past 160.


It could also be grilled over medium heat for the same amount of times.


Neutral Rub:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic gloves, minced or put through a press
1 tablespoon lemon pepper
2 teaspoons kosher salt


But - If planning ahead is an option, here is a recipe for an incredibly delicious marinade. It is the family recipe from my Vietnamese friend Kim. Whisk all the ingredients together and let the pork marinate for several hours. Kim says grilling is best, but baking works fine.


Thit Nuong:
4 cloves garlic, smashed
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon Maggi soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper



To Assemble the Asian Burritos:



Place the carrots, cucumbers, and onions is separate containers. Pour 1 cup of vinegar over each one and set aside for five to 10 minutes.


In a small bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil  and 1 teaspoon garlic chili sauce.


In a second small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise and 1 tablespoon garlic chili sauce. 



Heat the tortillas up by wrapping them in a couple paper towels and cook on full power in the microwave for 30 seconds.


Place the tortillas on serving plates.


Spread a heaping 1/2 cup of the coleslaw mix on each tortilla.


Sprinkle a tablespoon of the oil and vinegar mixture over each coleslaw covered tortilla.


Top each tortilla with three slices of tenderloin.


Drain the pickled vegetables and evenly divide them over each tortilla.


Sprinkle a heaping tablespoon of cilantro leaves over the top.


Spoon 1 tablespoon of the mayonnaise mixture over each tortilla.


Roll each one up by folding it in half, then pulling the top side halfway back. Next fold the perpendicular sides in and finally roll to close it up. 



Friday, February 3, 2017

Zucchini Fritters



Two weeks ago today our two youngest little birdies landed in our empty nester motor home. Jet lagged from flying in from the Philippines, they were finally back from an 18 month tour of the world. We were headed north after being in the Florida Keys and rendezvoused with them at the Fort Myers airport. The next 10 days were a flurry of activity as the girls rewrote resumes, had skype interviews, and reentered the U.S. culture. Sadly, Jenn has already left to seek her fortunes in California, but while she was here we followed her practice of no dairy, no wheat, no sugar. Some might say that sounds like no fun as well, but I had a ball rising to the challenge of cooking meals. Most of all, I loved having the girls there to cook for; they are always so appreciative! This post is one of the dishes I made for breakfast. It's simple, incredibly easy and very yummy!




Zucchini Fritters



Ingredients for four fritters:


2 medium zucchinis (about two cups shredded)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons of olive or vegetable oil for frying


Optional:
Poached eggs
Fresh chopped tomato and sliced green onions for garnish

Cut the ends off the zucchinis and grate into a bowl. Add the salt, stir, and let sit 10 minutes.
Line another bowl with a clean dish cloth and pour the grated zucchini mixture in the middle of the cloth. Gather the towel together and squeeze as much water as possible from the zucchini. Discard the resulting water.


Remove shredded zucchini from the towel and place back in bowl. Add slightly beaten egg and crushed red pepper flakes. Stir to combine.


Heat oil in skillet to medium hot. Scoop up 1/4 cup of zucchini mixture and gently overturn into skillet to make a patty. There should be enough mixture to form four patties. Brown each side for five minutes. Remove from pan and serve.




Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Black and a Little Bit Blue Shrimp & Grits


Last year, when we spent a week in the Florida Keys, it rained every single day.  What a disappointment! When we were deciding whether or not to take another chance on going for a week this January - I really had doubts. We decided to go for it and I am so glad because it has turned out to be absolutely gorgeous. The turquoise water is breathtaking and who doesn't love palm trees? One of the best things in southern Florida is the fresh seafood. We found a market the "locals" go to and I've enjoyed cooking up the fruits of the sea. The recipe posted here is a spin off traditional Shrimp & Grits. Whether the shrimp is grilled or baked in the oven, it's a yummy comfort food whatever the weather.



Ingredients for Four Servings



1 pound of 21-25 count raw shrimp
3/4 cup grits (not instant)
3 1/4 cups chicken broth
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese, divided
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup sliced green onion (for garnish)
4 slices bacon (for garnish)
3 tablespoons blackening spice  - store bought or recipe below


The Hot Stuff - Blackening Spice Recipe



Ingredients for Blackening Seasoning - yields 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons

2 Tablespoons smoked paprika
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoon roasted garlic (I used Penzeys brand)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (according to taste)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon oregano

Stir together until well combined. Store in a covered container.


Directions for Black and a Little Bit Blue Shrimp & Grits



Turn on and prepare grill or preheat oven to 425 degrees. Rinse the shrimp and drain. Pull off their little legs, take off the shells, and run the point of a sharp knife down their backs to de-vein them if desired. Put three tablespoons of blackening seasoning in a saucer and dredge the shrimp through it to coat both sides. Place shrimp on heavy duty aluminum foil with sides crimped up (to keep juices from going all over) and drizzle with olive oil. Either grill shrimp on foil over high heat 5 minutes per side, or bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for 10 minutes. Shrimp should be pink on the outside and opaque white on the inside when done. 


While the shrimp is cooking make the grits and cook the bacon.


To crisp the bacon, I place several layers above and below the bacon and microwave it on high power for about 5 minutes. Every microwave is different however, so if this method vs. frying is used, please check on it during the cooking process. After the bacon is crispy, cut it into crumbles.


To cook the grits, place the broth in a pan and bring it to a boil. Stir in the grits and turn the heat down to low. Cook for 10 minutes stirring often. Grits should be thick. Add the butter, pepper, garlic powder, cheddar, Parmesan, and 2 tablespoons blue cheese. Stir well until the cheeses melt and all the ingredients are well combined. At this point, the grits will be less thick and more fluid.


Place the grits on one big serving platter or four individual plates. Arrange shrimp on top of the grits and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons blue cheese, bacon crumbles, and sliced green onions.