Posts Tagged ‘recipe’

Purple Goodness in a Glass

March 29, 2012 2 comments

Around our house, smoothies make a quick, healthy breakfast, lunch, snack, or dessert.  We pick blueberries every summer at MaryMac Farms and then freeze the berries for use year-round.  Smoothies are one of our favorite ways to enjoy the berries.  This smoothie recipe can be a base for other smoothies – add some extra frozen bananas, peaches, strawberries, or cherries.  Yes, we keep all of those in our freezer! 

Helpful hint:  We also have lots of bags with little cubes of things in the freezer. When we have extra yogurt, fruit juice, wine, pesto, lemon juice, fresh herbs, apple cider, and tomato paste, I freeze it in ice cube trays. Then pop them out and store them in resealable bags.

  • Yogurt:  I like to buy large containers of organic Greek yogurt, but we never seem to finish it.  The cubes are perfect for smoothies.  Frozen flavored yogurt cubes make good mini popsicles (just add a toothpick when it is almost frozen).
  • Fruit juice: We usually don’t finish a bottle of juice either.  Hate to waste it, so it gets frozen. Perfect for smoothies or depending on the juice, great in iced tea!
  • Wine:  Leftover wine doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, I freeze it.  The wine cubes are perfect for finishing up a sauce or gravy.
  • Pesto:  When the basil in the garden is going crazy, I make pesto and freeze it in ice cube trays. Oil the trays first for easy removal.  Just thaw a cube and toss with fresh, hot pasta or mixed vegetables.
  • Lemon juice:  When I make limoncello, I have almost 4 cups of lemon juice!  There’s just so much fresh lemonade we can drink. So, I freeze some in ice cube trays and some in larger containers for making lemon bars.
  • Fresh herbs:  To freeze fresh herbs (like basil, parsley, chives, and mint), just rinse, snip if they are large, place in an ice cube tray, fill the tray half full with water, freeze, fill trays with water, freeze, and then store them in resealable bags.  If you initially fill the trays with water, the herbs tend to float and they might get freezer-burned.  This method, though it takes more time, prevents freezer damage to the herbs. Another method is to freeze fresh herbs in olive oil.
  • Apple cider:  We get local apple cider from Scott’s and then freeze some in cubes for drinking hot in the winter.  It is also great with tea (hot and iced). And sometimes I eat the cubes in the summer, another popsicle-like treat.
  • Tomato paste:  Freezing is great when you need just a little tomato paste and have leftovers from the can.  It is much cheaper to buy cans of tomato paste than those little tubes. Oil the trays before filling to hopefully prevent them from staining. 


Blueberry Banana Smoothie

1 banana (fresh or frozen)

1 cup frozen blueberries (fresh or frozen)

½ cup juice (I used tangerine, cranberry, apple, orange, etc. juice is fine too)

¾ cup plain yogurt or kefir (any kind works – soy, coconut, regular)

Optional add-ins:  protein powder, dash of cinnamon, ground flax seeds, shredded coconut, (ice cubes if you use fresh fruit, I like the cold), flax seed oil, almond butter, ginger, cayenne, etc.

Pour contents into blender container.  Cover with the lid (otherwise you might end up with purple goodness all over the place!). Blend until smooth and purple.  Enjoy!

Servings:  2 snack-sized servings or 1 meal-sized serving




Post 11/13 – Oven Roasted Butternut Squash

January 16, 2012 2 comments

This summer, Matt and I tried our hand at raised bed gardening.  We were fairly successful with some vegetables:  butternut squash, zucchini, radishes, lettuce, sweet potatoes, tomatillos, and tomatoes.  We were not so successful with green beans, yellow crookneck squash, and cucumbers.  Thank goodness for local farmer’s markets! 

Butternut squash was probably the most rewarding vegetable we grew.  They matured faster than expected.  The vines lasted a long time.  We had a few separate harvests with good yields!  We still have some.  It’s one of our favorites, and it’s even better home-grown.

One night via Facebook, my friend Shelli asked me for butternut squash recipes.  I gave her a few ideas:  butternut and sage lasagna, butternut ravioli, and a butternut soup.  She said these suggestions sounded good, but she wanted something fast since it was a week night.  So I responded with my quick and easy roasted butternut squash recipe. 

Oven Roasted Butternut Squash

1-3 Butternut squash, cut into ¼”-1” chunks/cubes

1-4 tablespoons olive oil

Kosher Salt

Pepper (black and/or cayenne)

Optional seasoning:  cumin, Aleppo pepper, and chipotle pepper

Optional veggies:  golden beets, sweet potatoes, onions, potatoes, parsnips, and carrots

Preheat your oven and a cookie sheet with a lip (sheet pan or jelly roll pan) covered in foil (this makes clean up much easier) to 450º degrees F.  While preheating the oven and the cookie sheet, prepare your butternut squash (and any other vegetable you want to roast, like golden beets, sweet potatoes, onions, potatoes, parsnips, and carrots).  You can also add chopped garlic, but wait until the end to add it or it might burn.

Butternut squash can have a tough peel that makes them a little difficult to prep.  To me, the easiest way is to use a sharp chef’s knife to cut off the stem end and the bottom end.  This makes it more stable.  You can rest it on towel-covered cutting board and then use a vegetable peeler to remove the peel.  It seems easier to peel top to bottom before you cut it.  Remove the peel and cut off the neck.  Then, slice the bottom lengthwise.  Use a large, study spoon or an ice cream scoop to remove the seeds.  It’s like cleaning a pumpkin for a jack-o-lantern, but not as messy.  Slice it into half moons and then cut them into chunks/cubes.  You probably want the chunks about ¼” to 1” and relatively the same size.  Unless you are like me and you like some pieces tender and some crispy, then cut some pieces 1” and others about 1/4”.

Place the squash chunks in a mixing bowl.  Pour in a little olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper (I like Penzeys’ Black and Red pepper blend), and any other spices you might like (especially cumin or chipotle pepper).

Carefully spread it evenly on the hot cookie sheet.  It should sizzle a bit.  Check every 15 minutes and stir.  Roast until it gets tender and has a nice color.  The cooking time depends on your oven, the temperature of the cookie sheet when you start, and how many vegetables you are cooking.  Keep checking.  It should probably take about 30-40 minutes, depending on how crispy you like it.    

Post 8/13 – Caramel Panna Cotta

January 13, 2012 2 comments

I made this for our anniversary dinner this week.  It received high marks from both of us.  Will make this again next week for the Italian Dinner we are hosting for a church fund-raiser.  We have some vegetarian guests and guests with pork allergies, so we’ll also serve another dessert.  If you are making this for vegetarians or people with pork allergies, please tell them about the gelatin.  There are sources for Kosher and fish-based gelatin that might be preferable.  There is also seaweed-based gelatin (agar-agar) that I would like to try one day. Then, I’d attempt a vegan version with soy or coconut milk.

The recipe seems long and complex, sorry about that.  Not sure how to simplify it.  In a nutshell, you are: heating sugar, making a caramel by adding cream, then adding softened gelatin, vanilla, and salt.  In my experience, panna cotta seems simple, but it can actually be a bit tricky.  So I tried to explain it with probably more details than I should.  Oh well, here goes…

Caramel Panna Cotta

2¼-2½ teaspoons powdered gelatin which is one envelope Knox gelatin (or 2½ gelatin sheets*)

¼ cup cold water

½ cup sugar

2 cups cream (if you warm it first, it is less likely to seize when added to the sugar)

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste** (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean)

pinch of salt***

In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water.  Let it sit for 5 minutes and then stir.  If you use half-anf-half, it will probably look clumpy, almost like cottage cheese, but it will be fine since the lumps will melt once added to the caramel mixture.

Spread the sugar in a HEAVY bottomed, large pot.  Make sure it is evenly distributed.  Heat on medium until it turns a light amber color.  Do not stir!  This is difficult for me, because I want to stir it, but know it is a bad idea (it can get clumpy)!  If it looks like the sugar is not melting evenly, you can tilt and swirl the pan.  Take care to keep it from burning; you might need to lower the heat.


Once the sugar is completely melted, slowly pour in the warm cream (be careful, it can bubble up and burn you).  Mix well, with a long-handled wooden spoon or long-handle whisk.  If the caramel happens to seize (turns into a big glob of caramel), don’t panic. Just stir it over low heat until the caramel melts. Then stir in the softened gelatin/water mixture, the vanilla bean paste, and a pinch of salt. 


Pour the panna cotta mixture through a sieve into a large glass pitcher or measuring cup.  Place this container in an ice water bath to help chill the mixture.  You might want to cover the container with a lid or plastic wrap so water doesn’t get in it.  Use a pitcher or container with a spout to makes\ it easier to pour the panna cotta into martini glasses or other individual-sized glasses.  You can also pour it into a regular serving dish (4-cup capacity) and serve it family style.  Refrigerate for about 3 hours or until set.  If you don’t use the water bath, it can take longer to set, up to 6 hours.


Optional Chocolate Sauce & Finishing Salt Garnish:

3½ ounces dark chocolate, chopped (or use milk chocolate if you prefer)

4 ounces cream or half-and-half

1 teaspoon espresso powder (or instant coffee), optional

pinch of finishing salt***


A traditional method is to heat the cream in a double boiler and then pour it over the chopped chocolate.  This messes up multiple dishes and take more time…so here’s the Katie Way:

Heat the cream in the microwave for 30-60 seconds.  Stir in the chopped chocolate and the espresso powder. Presto – chocolate sauce!

Drizzle the sauce over the panna cotta, sprinkle with a pinch of flake salt, and serve!


A few notes:

*Gelatin sheets:  Have been around for a long time, but I’ve never used them.  They are not easy to find in Alabama.  You can order them online, but I never felt the need to do so.  However, when I was at Dean and Deluca in NYC, I bought some.  I used them for the first time this week.  They are cool.  They are not a requirement in this recipe, powdered gelatin works fine. However, if you can find the gelatin sheets, I would use them.


If you are using gelatin sheets:  soak the gelatin sheets in cold water for 5 minutes and then squish out all the water before adding to the caramel mixture.  Everything else is the same.


**Vanilla bean paste:  is an awesome ingredient to have on hand.  In Huntsville, you can get it at Earth Fare, The Fresh Market, or Williams-Sonoma.  You can also order it online.  I use Nielsen-Massey brand.  It is a thick vanilla paste with lots of real vanilla seeds.  It is not cheap, but it is less expensive than whole vanilla beans.  For a recipe like this, it is perfect.  Gives the same nice taste with the pretty flecks of vanilla seeds. Regular vanilla extract works fine too.


***Salt:  I used Murray River Pink Flake Salt.  To me, it is not as salty as Maldon Sea Salt.  Regular Kosher salt also works.  Or, you can leave it out if you want to watch your sodium intake.  I like the salty-sweet combo.