Saturday, September 21, 2013

Strawberry Spinach Salad with Walnuts

This is really a pretty easy salad, but is a favorite of many people I know. I'm posting it here not really because I need the recipe, but I need the reminder. You know how sometimes you just get stuck in a rut and think "I don't know what I want to eat!!!" - well that's when I get online or open a cookbook and peruse through the pictures, recipes, and various ingredients until I see something I know I like, or something that sounds interesting, easy, or delicious enough to try. Sometimes, we just need a nudge in the right direction, so I hope this will be it for many of you.

However, if you've never tried this type of salad, it is certainly worth a go! It's more substantial than most  leafy green salads, in my opinion, because it has a heavier dressing and the walnuts and strawberries add body and flavor which make for an amazing blend of satisfaction of both taste and appetite.

1 Bag baby spinach
2 cups sliced strawberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Poppy Seed Dressing - I prefer Briannas

Wash and dry spinach. Add about 1/2 bottle of dressing, and toss until spinage is evenly coated. Move to a serving plate, and sprinkle walnuts and strawberries on top.

Serve cold.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Raspberry Freezer Jam

Once this was done and in jars, I bounded into the room where Forrest was and proclaimed my undying love of raspberries and how I will now be able to enjoy disgusting amounts of sugar and fresh raspberry flavor during the cold winter months in New York.

This recipe is the same one that is contained in the SureJell Pectin insert. I'll post my own version of the directions here, but the pectin packet will contain details that are helpful to first time jam makers. It's worth looking over for certain.

3 cups crushed raspberries
1 6oz packet of SureJell Fruit Pectin
5 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup water


Place raspberries and sugar in a large bowl and mix throughly. Let sit for at least ten minutes. Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan, mix water and pectin over high heat until boiling. Continue to boil for one minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, and pour into raspberry sugar mix. Stir for about 5 minutes minimum and long if sugar is not totally dissolved. Once sugar is dissolved, pour into jars, stopping about 1/2 inch from the top to allow for expansion in the freezer. Wipe edges clean, screw on lids, and let set 24 hours before freezing.

Makes about 7 cups of jam.

Mango Peach Lemonade

I am obsessed with lemons. Someone once gave me a large paper bag full to bursting with lemons from their lemon tree and I used or ate every single one in under a week.

This delicious drink mixes my basic lemonade recipe with two of my other favorite fruits to give you a satisfying and refreshing treat. It's great with a scone or two and a small slice of cheese as a late afternoon tea or snack.

The tartness of the lemonade is curbed slightly with the velvety sweetness of the mango and is either started or finished with a tasty peach slice.


4 cups Basic Lemonade
1 mango, cubed or 1 cup frozen mango chunks
1 peach, sliced


Divide mango cubes amongst 4 glasses. Fill each glass with about 1 cup lemonade. Make a small incision into four of the peach slices, and slide the slice onto the edge of the glass. If desired, dice remaining peach slices and add to lemonade.

Serve cold.

Basic Lemonade

Lemonade is easy - as long as you don't mind juicing lemons. I don't mind as I love everything about lemons. The fragrant puff of lemon oil that plumes into their air when it's squeezed, the tangy, sour juice it yields, and all the versatile uses leave me loving a good lemon. Heck, I don't even like the color yellow, but few things in the kitchen are as beautiful to me as a bowl of lemons.

So back to lemonade being easy. It's all about ratios. You can adjust this make any size portion you want, which makes it fabulously versatile. As long as you keep the ratios, you should be fine. As always though when cooking, taste it often and make adjustments as necessary.

For absolutely superior lemonade, juice you're own lemons. I use a wooden reamer, but you can use the fork method, a hand held one, or a cradle one. I love my reamer, fyi. Make sure to strain your juice to avoid seeds, or if you like the pulp, use a spoon to fish out the seeds. Store bought lemon juice can be used, but it won't be as good. However, it is a lot easier than juicing lemons.


1 part lemon juice
1 part sugar
4 parts water


Mix together in a large pitcher or carafe and serve cold. Told you it was easy.

Serves 6

For those unfamiliar with the 'parts' concept, here is the idea of it. Pick a measuring device and designate that as one unit. For example, if I chose 'cups' as my unit for this, I would make the following:
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
4 cups water

However, if making it for a large group, you could do gallons and it would yield 6 gallons total rather than 6 cups. Make sense? Leave a comment if you have questions!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Stuffed Acorn Squash with walnuts and dried apricots

Acorn squashes have an elegant, colonial beauty to them. The dark green skins are a handsome contrast to the light orange flesh. The flavor is also charming in that it's gentle and malleable enough that you can make it either sweet or savory elements and have it turn out great either way.

 In this recipe, I've done a sweet interpretation of the graceful gourds with a pop of tartness that comes from the apricots, and a subtle nuttiness that comes from the walnuts - both of which combine with the squash to make it a perfect 'hands free' meal that seems like you slaved away making something gourmet. 


2 acorn squashes
5-7 dried apricots, chopped
1/4 cup walnuts, diced
1 Tablespoon sweetener

You can use almost any type of sweetener you like for this - sugar, brown sugar, agave nectar, honey stevia, etc... 

Cut the top inch or so off the squashes and clean out seeds. Mix apricots and wanuts together, divide, and fill squashes with them. The squashes should not be totally full as the dried fruit will expand

Place squashed upright in a greased slow cooker and add about 1 inch of water to the bottom of the pot. Cook on high for about 2-3 hours, or low for 5-6 hours. 

Remove using tongs to hold and stabilize the squashes while sliding a large spoon underneath and move to a serving plate.

Dried cherries, pecans, and maple syrup.
Dried Pineapple, dried apricots, and orange marmalade.
Strawberry jelly, then top with brie cheese once cooked

Note - for the grammar fanatics out there, I found that the plural of 'squash' can be 'squashes' or simply 'squash' '

Friday, September 6, 2013

Salted Caramel Popcorn

Salty, sweet, and crunchy, with a creamy buttery overtures makes this a fabulous snack to have around Occasionally though - only have this around occasionally. If you make it and eat it frequently, you'll likely start cursing me for your rapid weight gain and insatiable sweet tooth. So to avoid profanities make this only as a special treat.

I've been making this Salted Carmel Popcorn since I was 14 and living with my dad. I can't remember why I started making it (maybe because it was freaking amazing!?) but I remember opening the side pantry, pulling down my moms worn out, splattered, flour stained Betty Crocker Cookbook and flipping to the sticky page that held the gloriously simple recipe.

My mind would always fill with wonder and excitement as the baking soda caused the thick dense carmel to bubble and foam like shaving cream. The emotions quickly shifted to gleeful anticipation as I poured the fluffy mixture over the salted popcorn and stirred until it was properly coated. Consumption begun immediately as I poured the sticky morsels into a pan and put it in the oven. It would make my teeth stick together before it was cooked, and it would yield a satisfying crunch after the oven had worked it's caramelizing magic.

Mmmm, good times are always to be had when carmel popcorn is involved. Make it for a light summer snack or put a large bowl out for holiday parties, this recipe is good all year round.


12 cups popped popcorn (about 1/3 cup unpopped, btw)

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup butter

1/4 cup corn syrup

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda


Spray or grease a bowl to comfortably hold all the popcorn. Add popcorn and set aside.

In a medium pot, heat sugar, butter, corn syrup, and salt over medium heat until it starts to bubble. Keep it as a soft bubble for 2-3 minutes. Add the baking soda, mix quickly, and remove from heat. It will instantly foam like shaving cream, so watch out! Immediately pour over the popcorn and stir with a large spoon, coating the popcorn evenly.

Crunch carmel corn: Pour onto a greased cookie sheet and bake at 200ยบ for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Allow to cool, and store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

Gooey carmel corn: (perfect for popcorn balls) don't bake it, and simply store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. If you want to form it into shape, now is your chance!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Pot Roast Stew

In the rare chance that you or your family ever has left over Pot Roast, this makes for a great pick me up dinner mid week. What I recommend is that if you have Pot Roast as a Sunday dinner, you have this on a Wednesday or Thursday night the same week. 

And just a word to the wise - if you are planning on doing this in a house where the term 'left over pot roast' is almost comical because it is as rare as seeing a three legged duck, I recommend you reserve the amount of roast you'll need immediately after cooking it and never let it reach the table. Tuck it away in the fridge along with the reserved broth and other veggies (mainly onions and carrots). 

When I've planned this into the weeks menu, I buy a roast that is slightly larger and toss in the extra veggies during the initial cooking so this dish ends up being a quick mid-week wonder. 


1/2 lb leftover Pot Roast*
1 cup cooked carrots*
1 cup cooked pearl onions*
1 6oz package baby button mushrooms, washed and halved
4 cups beef broth*
1 teaspoon garlic powder, or 2 garlic cloves diced
1/4 cup flour 
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil or Butter 

*preferable reserved from the pot roast

In a medium pot, heat olive oil over medium high. Add flour and stir quickly. Add broth slowly, stirring vigorously to combine throughly. Add mushrooms and garlic then bring to a boil - about 5 minutes. Reduce to a simmer for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, dice carrots and cube left over roast. After mushrooms start to soften up, add carrots, onions, and roast. Cook an additional 5 minutes until roast and veggies are hot. 

Serves 4-6

Pictured here over Garlic Mashed Potatoes (coming soon!)