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Posts from the ‘Features, Articles and Recipes’ Category

Coconut Caulifower Soup With Ginger And Turmeric

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Looking through Clean Soups the one that leapt out at me was the Coconut Cauliflower Soup, actually I decided on this soup before I chose which broth to make. You all know my love affair with cauliflower and I am such a big fan of pureed soups, this was the one I had to make. Turmeric has amazing medicinal, nutritional properties and I have it every day with milk and a grind of black pepper. When I saw the gorgeous golden yellow soup it was love at first sight. I am also a big fan of Thai flavors, lemongrass, ginger, lime and coconut are a happy marriage of flavors and make this silky pureed soup exotic and delicious. A touch of red Thai chili paste provides a gentle bite and the sum of all of the ingredients is wonderfully comforting and so yummy.

I made the soup exactly as written in the recipe but ended up tweaking just a bit as I wasn’t quite satisfied with the results. The cauliflower is roasted in a hot oven drizzled with olive oil and turmeric and what ended up happening is that it started getting too dark and the cauliflower was not tender enough,  I kept turning it and moving it around until the prescribed length of baking time was reached. I didn’t think the cauliflower was quite soft enough but continued, blending it with the other vegetables and I didn’t like the texture. Now it could be my wonky oven or maybe the florets were too big,  I don’t know. I ended up cooking the pureéd soup for about 20 minutes and then put it back in the blender so that it was velvety smooth. The soup is delicious and I would definitely make it again.

Coconut Cauliflower Soup With Ginger And Turmeric

2 1/2 – 3 lb cauliflower cut into 1 1/2 inch florets

3 tbs extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp ground turmeric

sea salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 yellow onion peeled and chopped

2 cloves garlic minced

2 carrots peeled and chopped

2 stalks celery chopped

2 tsp Thai red chili paste

6 cups Thai coconut broth plus more if needed (I did need more)

2 tsp grated fresh ginger

1 tbs freshly squeezed lime juice plus more if needed

garnish with fresh chopped mint or cilantro

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 425 degree’s. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Put the cauliflower, 2 tbs olive oil, 1/4 tsp turmeric, 1/2 tsp salt and the black pepper in a large bowl and toss until coated. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and spread to an even layer. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden and tender.

Meanwhile heat the remaining tbs of olive oil in a soup pot, then add the onion, a pinch of salt and the remaining 1/4 tsp of turmeric and sauté until translucent about 3 minutes, add the garlic, carrots and celery and 1/4 tsp salt and sauté until the vegetables begin to turn golden, about 10 minutes. Add the chili paste and stir to coat the vegetables. Pour in 1/2 cup of the broth to deglaze the pot, stirring to loosen any bits at the bottom of the pot. Let cook until the liquid reduces by half.

Pour 1/3 of the broth into a blender, add the ginger and 1/3 of the vegetables and cauliflower and blend until smooth adding more broth if needed. Continue to blend until all of the broth and vegetables are pureed. Pour back into the soup pot and cook over low heat until warmed,  add salt if needed and the lime juice.  Soup will keep 5 days in the refrigerator or up to 6 months in the freezer.

Clean Soups- Magic Mineral Broth and Thai Coconut Broth

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I’m a cookbook hoarder, well hoarder may be too harsh but I love my cookbooks, collect them and can literally spend hours in the bookstore looking at them and almost always leave the store with at least one if not more. When I received an email from the editors at Food52 asking if I would be interested in reviewing a cookbook for the Piglet Community Picks  there was no pause in my answer, a resounding YES.  I was given a choice of 6 cookbooks and Clean Soups was my first choice. It is not a voluminous cookbook, but offers some fantastic healthful and delicious basic broths used as a base for a variety of different types of soups.

I chose to make the Magic Miracle Broth,  a vegetable broth, and a stepping stone to another recipe Thai Coconut Broth which will  become a pureed soup. One thing I loved about this broth is that the vegetables are used unpeeled, everything, onion, carrot, garlic with the peels and all, it’s so easy to just throw it all in a pot and let it cook. If you love soup and clean eating I really recommend you purchase this cookbook. Part two of this post will be published in a few days, the finished soup.

Magic Mineral Broth

Makes approximately 1 gallon of broth

6 unpeeled carrots cut into thirds

2 unpeeled yellow onions, quartered

1 leek, white and green parts cut into thirds

1 bunch celery including the heart, cut into thirds

4 unpeeled red potatoes

2 unpeeled Japanese or regular sweet potatoes, quartered

1 unpeeled garnet yam, quartered

5 unpeeled garlic cloves, halved

1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley

1 (8 inch strip) kombu

12 black peppercorns

4 whole allspice or juniper berries

2 bay leaves

8 quarts cold filtered water

1 tsp sea salt plus more if needed

Rinse all vegetables well including the Kombu.
In a 12 quart or larger stockpot, combine the carrots, onion, leek, celery, red potatoes, sweet potatoes, yam, garlic, parsley, kombu, pepper, allspice berries and bay leaves. Add the water, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to low and simmer, partially covered, for at least 2 hours or until the full richness of the vegetables can be tasted. As the broth simmers some of the water will evaporate, add more if the vegetables begin to peek out.

Strain the broth through a large course mesh sieve (use a heat resistant container underneath) and discard the solids. Stir in the salt adding more if desired. Let cool at room temperature before refrigerating or freezing. Store in the refrigerator up to 5 days or in the freezer up to 6 months.

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Thai Coconut Broth

Makes approximately 2 1/2 quarts of broth

8 cups Magic Mineral broth

2 13.5 oune cans coconut milk

3 1 inch pieces of fresh ginger

2 shallots peeled and halved

3 kaffir lime leaves or 1 tsp lime zest

1 stalk lemongrass, cut in chunks and bruised

1/4 tsp sea salt, plus more if needed

In a 6 quart pot combine the broth, coconut milk, ginger, shallots, lime leaves or zest, lemongrass and salt, bring to a low boil over medium heat. Cook for about 20 minutes. Decrease to low and simmer for another 30 minutes. Remove the solids, taste and add more salt if desired.

Let cool to room temperature before refrigerating or freezing. Store in refrigerator for up to 5 days and 6 months in the freezer.

 

Happy Valentines Day-Chocolate Layer Cake With Whipped Chocolate Caramel Ganache Frosting

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I don’t really celebrate Valentine’s Day but one thing I love to do is make a special dessert, usually containing chocolate. The cake is chocolate, my favorite go to recipe from Hershey and the frosting is one that I developed and entered in a contest at Food52, I was lucky enough to win the contest with this simple and very delicious frosting, there is no added sugar so it’s not cloyingly sweet and is it’s very light. Three layers of cake piled high with chocolate caramel whipped ganache is a great way to celebrate this day that celebrates love. Speaking of love, February 13th is Percy’s gotcha day, I will forever be grateful to Emily for letting me adopt Percy and although he cannot have chocolate cake I will make him a special dinner, his outfit a vest, white shirt and red bow time was made by an uber talented designer I met on Instagram see her work @thestylishbisou, she is amazing.  I made a 8 inch 3 layer cake and the recipe for the ganache made just enough to fill and frost the top, you can easily double the recipe for more frosting to cover the entire cake.

I am bringing this special Valentines cake with me to Fiesta Friday #158 and the co hosts this week are Ai @ Ai Made It For You and Petra @ Food Eat Love Check out all the gorgeous food and join us all at the party.

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Hershey’s Best Chocolate Cake

makes 24 cupcakes, two 9 inch layers or three 8 inch layers

1 3/4 cup all purpose flour

3/4 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder

2 cups sugar

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp espresso powder (optional)

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 cup whole milk at room temperature

2 large eggs at room temperature lightly beaten

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup boiling water

Heat oven to 350 degree’s. Line muffin pan with liners or butter and flour cake pans.

Whisk dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. In 4 cup measuring cup add the wet ingredients and whisk together. Add to the dry ingredients and mix with electric mixer for 2 minutes. In the meantime put water on to boil and add the 1 cup boiling water to the batter and mix with electric mixer for 1 minute or until combined.

The batter will be thin, thats ok it’s supposed to be that way. Pour into prepared pans and for cupcakes bake 20-25 minutes. Layer cakes 30-40 minutes depending on size of the pan. Cake is done when tester inserted in middle comes out clean.

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Whipped Chocolate Caramel Ganache

Chocolate Caramel Sauce:
1 cup sugar
6 tablespoons salted butter cut into tablepoon-size pieces
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 ounces dark chocolate (I used bittersweet)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Put the heavy cream in a glass measuring cup and microwave on high for 45 seconds, add chocolate and microwave another 30 seconds Stir until its smooth, add the vanilla extract and stir to combine, add the butter to the warm chocolate cream and set aside .
In large saucepan add the sugar, turn heat to med/high and let sit until it starts to liquefy. Swirl the pot and gently move  with a heat proof spatula.  Cook until it turns amber in color.
Remove from heat and add the chocolate cream. Stir until its incorporated. Be careful when adding the cream and butter the hot liquid sugar will bubble and could burn you. Store in a container at room temperature until ready to use. If you make this ahead of time, simply place the bottle or jar in hot water to warm the caramel so it’s pourable. Note: I changed this slightly, instead of adding the butter and then the choolate cream. I added the butter to the warm chocolate cream and added it all at once after removing the caramel from the heat.
Ganache :
4 ounces dark chocolate broken into small pieces
4 ounces milk chocolate broken into small pieces
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon liquor (I like cointreau or kahlua) or vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate caramel sauce
Heat cream to scalding (not boiling). Pour over the pieces of chocolate that are in a mixing bowl. Let sit 5 minutes then stir until there are no pieces of chocolate and it’s smooth and shiny, then add the chocolate caramel sauce and stir to combine.
Place bowl in an ice bath or in the refrigerator until cooled but not COLD  — it will stiffen fairly quickly if it gets too cold. Remove from the ice bath and beat with a mixer or whisk until the ganache is fluffy and spreadable. Frost the cake immediately. Best served at room temperature.

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Percy

Percy

More From Teagan, Comfort Food For Pip- Souffléd Macaroni And Cheese

I absolutely love working with Teagan, and admire her and her wonderful work. This is another snippet from Teagan involving her feisty character Pip. We wanted to do something involving comfort food and when I think of comfort food one of the first things that come to mind is macaroni and cheese. In keeping with the 1920’s flapper theme of the story this recipe is from that era from another feisty and very talented woman named Clemantine Paddleford. Enjoy, and take it away Teagan!!

PS: The recipe is fantastic, light and flavorful really a wonderful change from the traditional macaroni and cheese.

Pip Arrives in Savannah
Thanks for letting me visit again, Suzanne!  Here’s another little vignette from the “universe” of my character Paisley Idelle Peabody, aka Pip.  This would happen after The Three Things Serial Story It’s inspired by Suzanne’s macaroni and cheese.

Pip’s dad didn’t appreciate her escapades in that novella. So now she’s been sent to her grandmother, to learn to cook!  I hope you’ll enjoy this tidbit.

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Pip Arrives in Savannah

The breeze that rustled through the fronds of tall palm trees was tinged with salt.  I inhaled deeply as I walked out of the tall arched door at Savannah’s Union Station.  I heard the bell of a streetcar, which had gone past a moment before.  I stretched to see the trolley, but barely got a glimpse of its back-end.

With a loud Bronx cheer I dropped my suitcase to the curb of West Broad Street.  I thought the Jazz Age slang for the rude noise I made was appropriate, since my Pops was continuing on the train to New York City.

Pops said I needed to be reigned-in, and Granny insisted that I needed to learn to cook.  Neither of them would admit that I was a modern woman.  No self-respecting Flapper needed to cook!  Anyhow, Pops had unceremoniously dumped me off the train, saying he’d visit with Granny and me on his way back.  I blew another raspberry at the streetcar that I had just missed — and at my wretched situation.

Union Station Savannah, GA

The ringing of the streetcar’s bell faded into the distance.  The first time I ever saw a trolley was during a visit to my grandmother, there in Savannah, when I was a very little girl.  I slipped away from her and Pops, and scampered onto a streetcar.  I didn’t get far, but Granny Phanny was mad enough to spit. 

This time, I had done the opposite.  Instead of getting on a trolley when I shouldn’t have, I had missed the one I was supposed to ride to get to her.  Now Granny would be waiting to meet me at some Chinese restaurant downtown, but I wouldn’t be on the trolley.  Horsefeathers!  She would be in a lather.

A nearby news vendor walked away from his stall, probably headed for a bite of lunch.  I called out and waved as I hurried toward him, my suitcase bumping along at my side.

“Hey Mac!  Was that the trolley that goes to Pearl Street?” I called out, but he didn’t hear me over the blast of a train whistle.  “Enjoy your lunch,” I grumbled and my empty stomach answered in kind.  “I sure could do with some of Granny’s macaroni and cheese.”

“Did you miss the trolley, sweet cheeks?” a clear tenor voice asked.

I didn’t see him until he moved forward.  He had been leaning against the opposite side of the newsstand.  He wore a suit and hat, but they had flair.  He cast a furtive glance over his shoulder, but then tilted his head back and blew a smoke ring into the air.

Applesauce!  He looked pos-i-lute-ly like the kind of character I had always been told to avoid, but he was as sexy as the Sheik of Araby.  Then his cigarette smoke drifted to me and I sneezed.  So much for me being a sophisticated Sheba.  I had to agree with Pops that smoking was a nasty habit.

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“You’re new in town, huh?  I’m Floyd.  I can take you where the giggle water flows aplenty.  It’ll be a real blow,” he said with a smile and a wink that made him even handsomer.

“Says you,” I countered coyly, thinking he was joking around.

“At least let me drive you over to Pearl Street.  Stick around until my pal gets back.  He’s picking up something for me,” he added gazing up and then down the street, as if looking for his friend.  Stay right here and I’ll get my machine.  It’s a sweet ride.  You’ll love it,” he called over his shoulder as he rushed away.  “Don’t move.  Promise.  I’ll be right back.”

I stood baffled, gaping at Floyd’s retreating form.  I was also feeling flattered by his interest.  There was an intensity about him that I found exciting.  Not to mention the fact that I was relieved that I might avoid Granny’s wrath over me missing the streetcar and leaving her waiting.

Signorina, do not be going with that man.  It would be a bad thing for you.  Trouble comes,” a voice, heavily accented with Italian, said from behind me.  “There will be other transportation.”

Turning, I saw a portly man in odd looking chef’s clothes.  He lifted his brimless toque and bowed.  A jalopy backfired so suddenly and so loudly that I jerked around to face the noise.  When I turned back, the chef was gone.  I didn’t see him anywhere.  It was as if he disappeared into thin air.

I quickly forgot about the odd occurrence when a wooden crate fell off a passing truck.  The driver pulled to the curb beside me.  Without thinking I went to help.  He had not been traveling fast, so little damage was done.  A few oranges rolled from a broken crate.  I started picking up the wayward fruit.1920s delivery truck

An Asian looking guy with a quasi-British accent jumped out of the driver’s door, apologizing even before his feet hit the street.  He gingerly hopped over the tailgate and began re-positioning the crates.  A couple of them looked ready to fall.

I noticed lettering on the truck proclaiming Wong’s Chinese.  Was that the name of the restaurant where I was supposed to meet Granny?  I was so resentful about being sent to Savannah that I hadn’t even paid attention to what she said.  I knew there wouldn’t be more than one Chinese restaurant on the street.

“Your place isn’t on Pearl Street by any chance, is it?”

“Yep, that’s Wong’s,” he replied with a grin, stopping his work.  “Hey, are you Pip?  Miss Phanny will be looking for you.  I’m Alastair Wong,” he bent from the truck bed and shook my hand.

I sighed with relief.

Then a brand new Ford stopped and gave a long blare of the auto’s horn.  “Hey! Move it,” my Sheik of Araby from moments before shouted angrily, and followed that with a racial slur.

Floyd got out of the automobile, moving toward us in a menacing posture.  I stood up, a smashed and dripping orange still in my hand.

“This cake eater’s bad news, Pip.  You don’t want to have anything to do with him,” Alastair Wong whispered as he stepped in front of me protectively.

In the distance a police whistle trilled.  The guy’s eyes widened and he looked over his shoulder.  Before I knew what was happening, he had hit Alastair in the head with the butt of a pistol.  I shrieked as he dragged me into the open Ford, my arms and legs flailing.

I could hear the coppers coming toward us, shouting and blowing whistles.  Suddenly the Ford was blocked between the delivery truck and police vehicles.  Alastair lay unconscious on the street.  The busted orange dripped juice all over my skirt.  The guy waved his gun around excitedly.  A maniacal gleam came to his eyes when he looked at me.

1920s Police car

An over eager copper fired his gun.  I heard the whiz of the bullet pass by my head.  Startled, Floyd jerked toward the policemen.  Movement from the delivery truck caught my eye.  A catawampus crate started to wobble.  Suddenly that crate and another one tumbled down to land on the windshield of the Ford.  Floyd started screaming and cursing, waving his pistol even more.

When he turned back to me, on sudden impulse I stuck the busted orange in his face and smeared it into his eyes.  By then the coppers had reached us.  They grabbed him before he could do any damage with the gun.

A copper helped me out of the Ford.  I ran to Alastair as another cop helped him stand.  Across the street I saw Floyd’s pal, the news vendor being held by a policeman.

“What just happened here?” I demanded.

A paddy wagon rolled up and the policemen pushed Floyd into it, along with his pal.

“Bootleggers,” a copper told me.  “As if we didn’t already have enough of those around here.”

“So Pip,” Alastair said while he held a handkerchief to his bloodied forehead.  “How do you like Savannah so far?”

I chuckled despite everything.  At least he had a sense of humor.

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“Well, I was afraid I would be bored to tears here,” I told him with a dramatic sigh.  “But I suppose it will be interesting enough.  So far I’ve learned three things.  Don’t take any wooden nickels.  Don’t get into Fords with handsome men.  And Wong’s Chinese is the right place to go.”

Alastair laughed.  “That’s a good slogan, doll face.  Mind if I use it?  How about we get you to the restaurant.  Miss Phanny will be getting impatient.”

And so began my adventures in Savannah.

The end

***

 

Copyright © 2017 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

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Souffléd Macaroni and Cheese

Makes 4 servings

Recipe by Clemantine Paddleford

1 1/2 cups scalded whole milk

1 cup soft bread crumbs

1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese Note: I used 2  cups cheddar cheese

1 cup cooked macaroni

3 eggs separated

1/4 cup diced pimentos

1 tbs chopped parsley

1 tbs grated onion

1 tsp salt

3 tbs butter melted

Pre heat oven to 350 degree’s Grease a casserole Note: I baked at 375 degree’s

Pour milk over soft bread crumbs, add cheese. Cover and let stand until cheese melts. Add macaroni. Combine and add beaten egg yolks, pimento, parsley, onion, salt and buttter. Beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry and fold into the mixture. Note: I sprinkled the top of the mac and cheese with breadcrumbs and grated some cheddar and gruyere on top.

Pour into prepared casserole. Bake uncovered for 25-35 minutes.

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Tomato Soup

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I have a good friend who used to live in Brooklyn and a couple of years ago moved into Manhattan, we don’t get to see each other that often and I was so happy that we set a date to meet and decided we would catch up over lunch. I offered to cook and thought since it’s cold outside a bowl of soup would be good, she lives near Sullivan Street Bakery and said she would bring bread. The first thing I thought of was tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches I’ve made tomato soup before, posted it a few years ago, it was actually an accident that turned into soup. This one is intentional and it’s phenomenal. I got the recipe from food network and reading it I thought OMG, there is something wrong for example it called for 3/4 cup olive oil 1/4 cup on the tomatoes and sauteeing the vegetables in 1/2 cup of olive oil, REALLY, don’t think so. Luckily the recipe from Michael Chiarrello had an accompanying video from his show. I followed what he said in the video and not what was written and the soup is awesome. I made a few changes adding some fresh tomatoes, rind of parmigiana but other than those two things I stuck to the recipe. The soup is delicious and quick and easy and I highly recommend. Who can resist dunking a gooey grilled cheese in tomato soup, it’s one of lifes great pleasures.

Homemade Tomato Soup

Makes 2-3 generous portions or 4 moderately sized portions

1 14 1/2 oz can diced tomatoes- juices drained and reserved

1 cup fresh tomatoes cut into pieces or if cherry or grape cut in half

1 stalk celery

1 small onion

1 carrot

1 1/2-2 cup (approximately) stock, chicken or vegetable or water

reserved juice from tomatoes

1 bay leaf

salt and pepper to taste

olive oil to drizzle on tomatoes and to cook the vegetables

small piece of parmigiano rind (optional)

fresh basil chopped (I used 3 large leaves)

1 tbs butter (optional)

heavy cream- I didn’t measure but if I had to guess it was a bit shy of 1/4 cup (optional)

Heat oven to 450 degree’s. Drain canned tomatoes and reserve the juice. Place on baking sheet along with fresh tomatoes, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast until caramelized – it took approximately 20 minutes

Heat some olive oil in heavy non reactive sauce pan or saucier. Add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic and cook until they start to soften and caramelize. Add the roasted tomatoes, reserved tomato juice, stock or water, bay leaf, rind of parmigiano and cook approximate 25-30 minutes until vegetables are tender add the basil now.  Remove bay leaf and you can use either your immersion blender or your blender and puree until smooth. Return to pan and add the optional butter and cream. Serve hot.

A Green Smoothie-Fiesta Friday Healthy Recipe Challenge

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Every Friday Angie, you all know Angie right, hosts the virtual party Fiesta Friday.  We all link our recipes on her site and you can bring whatever you want,  well this is a little different, she gave all of us that participate in Fiesta Friday a challenge. She listed two ingredients, leafy greens and pineapple and asked us to make something using them. This recipe has never posted on the blog before only a photo. I found this on Williams Sonoma website and searching it’s no longer there but luckily I had posted it on Instagram,  I put my own spin on it, adding some different ingredients and it turned out great, it’s delicious and healthful and uses both leafy greens and pineapple. I am so glad that Angie gave us this challenge because this smoothie hadn’t been on my radar and I am happy to have rediscovered it because it’s delicious, easy to make, nutritious and such a pretty color green.  There will most likely be dozens of green smoothies and they will be very similar but thats ok, here is mine and I love it. You can use whatever leafy green you like. I actually mixed kale and spinach. You get great results when you freeze your pineapple and banana, the smoothie is cold and thick and creamy. Oh I also should add that there are GREAT prizes for the winners of this challenge, yes first, second and third place winners will be chosen by a panel of judges. How exciting is this! You can submit as many recipes as you like. Hope you all enter.

A Healthy Green Smoothie

adapted from a recipe on Williams-Sonoma

makes 2 generous portions

1 cup cleaned baby spinach

1 cup kale, leaves only and tender stems – discard the tough ones

1/2 ripe avocado

1 cup frozen cubed nicely ripe pineapple

1 ripe banana cut into chunks and frozen

1-1 1/2 cups coconut water (freeze your coconut water in ice cube trays for a colder creamier smoothie) start with one cup and add more if you like a thinner smoothie

1/2 cup full fat coconut milk or 1/4 cup of the coconut cream scooped off the top of cold canned coconut milk

1 tsp fresh ginger grated or finely chopped

1 tbs fresh mint leaves chopped (or just throw in a few mint leaves)

juice of half a lemon

1 tsp matcha powder (optional)

Put all of the ingredients into your blender and blend on high until smooth and creamy. Enjoy immediately.

 

 

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Beef And Eggplant Ragu

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I love a good meaty pasta dish, it’s rich and perfect cold weather fare. This recipe couldn’t be easier, and has a surprise ingredient, eggplant which adds an amazing flavor and texture, it’s similar to a bolognese but not your traditional recipe.  I have posted recipes from Windy before, well, it was a few years ago and I posted her recipe for turkey meatballs in a cream sauce.  She doesn’t have a food blog but I think she should. Her recipes are delicious, nutritious and budget conscience. Whether making this for one or a family (it tastes even better the next day) you should give this recipe a try. You can use whatever type of pasta you like, whether long noodles or a substantial pasta like rigatoni it is wonderful, gnocchi would be great as well.

Beef and eggplant ragu

Serves 4 generously

4 garlic cloves chopped
1 shallot chopped
1/2 small onion (red or yellow)
1 lb 80% Lean ground beef
1 small Eggplant  peeled and cubed
1 28 oz can Tomato Puree
1 cup red wine
Salt
Pepper
3 Bay Leaves
1 tsp sugar (optional)

Dice and sautée garlic, shallots and onion for about 3 min. Add ground beef. Cook until ground beef is browned then add eggplant and cook about 4 min longer. Add canned tomato, wine, salt, pepper, sugar and bay leaves. Cover and simmer for about 20-30 min.
Cook pasta of your choice. I used fettuccine. Toss pasta with sauce and sprinkle pecorino Romano on top. Also good with a dollop of ricotta. 😋

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Cupcakes And Calendars

Cover of our calendar

Cover of our calendar

January is turning out to be a really busy month, work is busy and thats a good thing.This is also my anniversary month, 5th year blogging, honestly it kind of blows my mind.  I have been really busy also with the work I am doing with a group on Instagram @Grumble Inc, we are a rapidly growing group of pet parents that do fun events on Instagram and raise money for animal rescue groups. The need is great and never seems to end. We work with other rescue and charitable groups holding online auctions to not just benefit rescue but to help out individuals who may not have the funds to pay for emergency or much needed veterinary care which includes surgery and other urgent issues. We recently put together an 18 month calendar with photo’s of our Instagram friends and all the proceeds go to @pugqueen who does amazing work rescuing pugs. Percy is featured on October 2017. The calendars are $15 plus shipping and we have sold about 150 so far.

Percy upper right corner

Percy upper right corner

On the rescue front you remember the little puggle I spoke about, Luna. Well she is doing great and is in a foster home where she is getting much needed medical care and evaluation for her seizure disorder. The great news is that she has only had one seizure since she has been in foster care and is thriving and happy. We have someone waiting for her who is giving her a forever home as soon as she is ready for adoption.

Luna

Luna

I am president of our block association and every year I plan a holiday party, this year has been a disaster. We planned on having it in December at a members home but a few days before the event we had to cancel because she was sick. I rescheduled to January 7th, after the holidays but thats ok, we had to cancel because of bad weather. NYC got blasted with a major snow storm and frigid temperatures. Most of the day yesterday was blizzard like conditions with the wind blowing and snow coming down fast and furious. Now I am thinking we will have a welcome Spring party, plans are in the works. The weather forecast did not call for the heavy snow or blizzard like conditions so I made cupcakes to take with me to the party. My go to chocolate cake recipe from Hershey’s it never fails and always produces a moist, chocolately and delicious cupcake. My favorite way to serve them is with a cream cheese buttercream frosting. Simple and delicious.

cupcakes

cupcakes

The recipe for the cupcakes is so easy to make, the recipe also makes an excellent layer cake. I love that there is no creaming of butter and sugar, you put all the ingredients in one bowl and mix it all together. I have posted this recipe several times here but it’s so good I feel good about posting again. There is no butter in this cake only vegetable oil. You don’t have to use hershey’s cocoa but it’s best to use cocoa powder that is not Dutch Process for this cake, use natural cocoa powder. If you don’t understand the difference read this article on Epicurious about the different types.

Hershey’s Best Chocolate Cake

makes 24 cupcakes, 2 9 inch layers or 3 8 inch layers

1 3/4 cup all purpose flour

3/4 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder

2 cups sugar

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp espresso powder (optional)

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 cup whole milk at room temperature

2 large eggs at room temperature lightly beaten

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup boiling water

Heat oven to 350 degree’s. Line muffin pan with liners or butter and flour cake pans.

Whisk dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. In 4 cup measuring cup add the wet ingredients and whisk together. Add to the dry ingredients and mix with electric mixer for 2 minutes. In the meantime put water on to boil and add the 1 cup boiling water to the batter and mix with electric mixer for 1 minute or until combined.

The batter will be thin, thats ok it’s supposed to be that way. Pour into prepared pans and for cupcakes bake 20-25 minutes. Layer cakes 30-40 minutes depending on size of the pan. Cake is done when tester inserted in middle comes out clean.

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz softened (room temperature) unsalted butter

8 oz cream cheese softened to room temperature

4-6 cups powdered sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

approximately 1/4 cup milk or half and half

Cream the butter and cream cheese until soft and fluffy. Add powdered sugar a cup at a time mixing between each addition. Add the vanill and milk. When adding the milk do it slowely, and stop when it’s spreading consistency you may not need 1/4 cup or you might need a little more. You judge how much you add so that you reach the desired consistency.

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Pips Lemon Christmas- A Guest Post From Teagan Riordain Geneviene

 

Taken from Pinterest

Happy New Year Everyone.  On the first day of 2017 I wanted to do something special, not only are we starting a brand new year but this is my 5th year of blogging, in a few days will be the anniversary of A Pug In The Kitchen. Last year for my anniversary post I invited Teagan of Teagan’s Books to guest post and I had so much fun doing it I decided I would ask her again to collaborate with me. Teagans books are special, she takes me to a happy place with characters that come to life, mystical, magickal and a little bit of the supernatural are woven into stories that are so beautiful I honestly can’t and don’t want to stop reading. Whether it’s her amazing serials or a novel she never disappoints.  Teagan graciously penned this snippet with one of my favorite characters, Pip a flapper from the 1920’s. In doing some research of food in that era, citrus, specifically lemons were very popular so thats what we did, incorporated lemons not only into this delightful snipppet but also into a recipe for a lemony dessert.  I found a recipe for a lemon pound cake from the 1920’s that was served at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in their tea room. The cake was a disaster, it stuck to the bottom of the pan and didn’t come out in one piece,  but I didn’t let that deter me, I managed to salvage the cake, turning it upside down (the top of the bundt cake was missing) and serving it with a lemon sauce, like a lemon pudding cake, sort of.  I hope you all enjoy what Teagan has written for us all and again wishing all of you a joyous, healthy, happy and prosperous 2017. Take it away Teagan.

Pip’s Lemon Christmas

young-lucille-ball-pensive-peach

It had been a grand and glorious year.  However, it pos-i-lute-ly had ups and downs.  At that moment I was in one of the downs.  Even the long distance telephone call from my best friend Mona failed (miserably I might add) to cheer me.  She might not be sure where she wanted her future to go, but at least it was going somewhere.  All my friends were moving forward, going somewhere.  Me?  It didn’t look like I would ever get anywhere.

Not only was I going nowhere, I seemed to be going there all by myself.  Worse, it was Christmastime.  Even my Pops suddenly had to go up north on business.  I offered to go and keep him company…  Okay, so I begged. 

“Young ladies have no place at business meetings,” he told me in the stern, no nonsense voice that meant I wouldn’t get anywhere with my plea.

Idly, I looked at the lace covered table, lemons artfully arranged as a centerpiece.  I took one of the tangy fruits, tossed it in the air and caught it.  I pondered as I tossed the lemon. 

What would any self-respecting flapper do in such a situation?  Refuse to be a sourpuss, that’s what a flapper would do!

I decided as I tossed the lemon.  If all I had for Christmas was lemons, then I’d make lemonade — so to speak, especially after I found the bottle of hooch Pops had squirreled away.  I would have rather had the champagne I knew he hid some place, but that had been ages ago and I couldn’t remember where I saw it.

Gin will do just fine, I told myself.

Suddenly inspired, I gave the yellow fruit a final toss.  I went to the shoebox that held Granny’s recipes.  She had given me instructions for all sorts of citrus treats, and I was a sourpuss with a sweet tooth.

1920s-lemons-king-tut-brand

A little while later I was cleaning up the kitchen as it filled with citrusy baking aromas.  Just as I picked up the remains of my lemons, a loud knock pounded at the front door.  It startled me so badly that I ran to the door with barely a wipe to my juice drenched hands.

“Delivery!” the words came with another thunderous knock.

I threw open the door and the cool December air hit my face.  It was downright brisk, for Florida anyway.  There was a truck in the driveway and a young man with a name embroidered on his jacket — Ronny.  I took the package, barely looking at the guy who handed it to me.  My hands tore at the twine excitedly, even before I went inside.  Meanwhile Ronny the delivery man wrote something on the receipt clamped to his clipboard.

“If you’ll sign here, Miss?” he asked.

There was a card inside the package from my friend Mona.  The front of it said “I’m sorry you’re alone at Christmas.”  Hurriedly I stuck the edge of the note between my teeth and tucked the package under my arm so I could take the clipboard and sign the form.

Only then did I notice what a cutie the guy was.  He tilted his head all the way to his shoulder and read aloud the note while I signed.  As soon as I heard him speak the words, I blushed scarlet.  To make matters worse, he made a sympathetic aww sound that made me feel like a six year-old.

In my flustered flurry of motions, taking the note from my teeth, trying to stick it back in the package, and pushing my hair back… wouldn’t you know I touched a lemon coated finger to my face.  I yelped as the citrus stung my eyes.  It made tears stream down my cheeks.man_ray_tears

The guy sounded guilty when he pleaded to know what the matter was, as if he had caused it.  The only word I could manage to utter was, “Lemons!”

He pulled my hand away from my face and lightly sniffed it.  He gave a little chuckle that made me want to bean him.

“Yep, that’s lemons all right.  For a minute there I was afraid you got bad news,” he commented.  “But I guess being alone on Christmas Eve is bad enough.”

For some reason his comment made me lose my composure.  I burst out in real tears and sobs, no longer caused by the stinging citrus.  I plopped down on the porch and sat there with the package in my lap.  This upset poor Ronny.  He started blabbering apologies, clearly unsure of why he was asking for forgiveness.

“Look sweet cakes, you’re my last delivery.  Let me help you wash your face and get rid of that lemon juice before you put your fingers in your eyes again,” he offered in a contrite voice.

I insisted that it was okay, and with a sniffle, silenced my sobs.  Too embarrassed to look at him I turned my attention back to Mona’s gift.  Her card had fallen, but Ronny picked it up and handed it to me.  I took it from him and with a deep breath I spoke the words that humiliated me a moment before.

“I’m sorry you’re alone at Christmas,” I read the elegant script on the outside, and then opened the card.  “So you’ll just have to make your own party.”

Antique champagne Glasses

What?  Digging through the packing paper I found two sparkling etched crystal goblets.  I held up one of the glasses to watch the light play on it.  I looked at Ronny, feeling utterly bemused.  He returned my gaze with a twinkle in eyes that I suddenly noticed were a heavenly shade of blue.

Ronny picked up the other empty glass and playfully tapped it against the one I held.  I suddenly remembered where Pops hid the bubbly.

The end

***

Copyright © 2016 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

when life gives you lemons...

when life gives you lemons…

Pound Cake With Lemon Sauce

You can use homemade cake or just go buy Sara Lee Pound Cake for this. The star is really this pucker worthy lemony sauce served over the cake. It couldn’t be easier to make and has only a few ingredients.

Lemon Sauce

Adapted from a recipe on Epicurious

2/3 cup sugar

2 1/2-3 tbs cornstarch

1 1/2 cup water

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

zest of 2 lemons

1 tbs unsalted butter

Whisk sugar and cornstarch in heavy bottom non reactive saucepan, add the water and cook over medium high heat until mixture thickens and starts to boil, add the lemon juice and zest and continue cooking until it comes to a boil again and immediately remove from the heat, add the butter and whisk until combined. Refrigerate until slightly thickened and serve. It can be made a day ahead just bring to room temperature before serving.

Did the delivery man join Pip?

Did Ronny join Pip, I think so?

Happy Holidays

Christmas cards I had made

I want to take this opportunity to wish each of you a very Happy Holiday whether it’s Christmas or Yule or Hanukkah or Kwanza I hope you have a day filled with love and that you and your families and friends are able to enjoy this most wonderful of holiday’s together. On this day I have to pause and count my blessings for wonderful family and friends, a warm home, food, a job that I love and for all of you that have followed me on this journey for the past almost 5 years. It saddens my heart to think that there are so many that are not as blessed we are. You all know that a passion of mine is rescuing and placement of pets and right now I am working with Mollie Frugal Haus Frau to place a puggle with a seizure disorder that is in Maryland.  We are hoping for a Christmas miracle,  that someone will step up and take this little dog into their heart and home.

I saw this video on my friend’s site and thought I would share it with you, I love this song, we lost Leonard Cohen in November of 2016 and although I have never heard of this group I think they did an excellent rendition with a little modern twist. I hope you enjoy and again Happy Holidays.