Tag Archives: recipe

Sweet-Tart Homemade Lemonade (made entirely by the kids)

21 Aug

My son and niece (8 and 11 respectively) had made some sugar syrup* for me last week – they are pretty good with the stove these days and eager to see how things are done.

I actually used most of it for adult beverages (mango-chile mojitos and passionfruit mojitos), but in return for their help, I promised I would show them how to make lemonade. In fact, while they were squeezing the lemons, I was taking a shower, then we just measured and mixed and that was it.

It was extremely tasty and refreshing and very easy (especially for me, because they did all the work) and looked so pretty in a special bottle! We’ll be doing it again very, very soon!

So easy, why would you buy?

So easy, why would you buy?

Lemonade

½ Cup sugar syrup*

½ Cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

2 Cups cold water

Mix together and pour over ice

Makes 3 Cups

* sugar syrup: 1 Cup sugar, 1 Cup water, heated on the stovetop till clear and liquid, then cooled. Keeps in the fridge for a month.

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LENT: Big Up Your Tuna Salad

26 Feb

We’re approaching the second Friday of Lent (and my second week without cheese, Lord help me). It’ll be tuna salad for lunch tomorrow, but not your run-of-the-mill deli style tuna salad. I like my flavors a little bigger and bolder (except for the tuna, which I confess to liking on the milder side; I prefer albacore and try to purchase ocean friendly brands). Here’s my easy way of making tuna salad special.

I am trying to keep the carb load down, so I'll just have my tuna salad with lettuce.

I am trying to keep the carb load down, so I’ll just have my tuna salad with lettuce.

To one 5 oz. can tuna, drained, I add 1 Tbs prepared mayonnaise and 1-2 tsp each of prepared mustard, drained capers, chopped sun-dried tomatoes, chopped onion, and chopped roasted red pepper. Mix well, season to taste, and serve on bread or salad.

Sangría Tropical (and rainforest paradise pictures)

27 Jul

When the heat gets tropical, so should the drinks.

View from Noelia's where you can sit out on the deck and chat while waiting for dinner

View from Noelia’s where you can sit out on the deck and chat while waiting for dinner. See rapidly disappearing sangría in my mom’s hand

On a recent trip to the mountains of Puerto Rico, I was inspired by a wonderfully cooling and exotic sangría I had up around and about El Yumque (Caribbean National Forest, the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. Forest Service  system) at Noelia’s, recommended to us by Matthew at our hotel, Casa Cubuy EcoLodge — which is simple and wonderful and part of the rainforest.

An eclectic and friendly joint, with loads of Puerto Rico memorabilia and drums!

Noelia’s is an eclectic and friendly joint, with loads of Puerto Rico memorabilia and drums!

Your balcony looks out on the mountain, with walks to several rivers and waterfalls right out the back door.

View from the balcony at Casa Cubuy

View from the balcony at Casa Cubuy

It was a wonderful night with a local couple and Noelia herself telling us tales of their region and showing up the island of Vieques in the distance, spotting palomas sabaneras (an indigenous and endangered bird) in the trees, coqui frogs in the kitchen keeping Noelia company, eating garlicky mofongo and seafood from the nearby coast (the little guy sucking on the bones of his delicious fried chicken).

Noelia herself!

Noelia herself!

moonshine!

moonshine!

There’s moonshine up in those mountains and we brought some of that home too, but I am not revealing my sources. Note that our moonshine is a potent cane rum, best mellowed with local flavors like coconut and passionfruit.

A boy's paradise

A boy’s paradise

So when I got back to sea level, it was clearly time to enjoy some of that flavor and bring back the cool of the high hills. I used a couple of tablespoons of moonshine, but I offer worthy substitutions in the recipe. Continue reading

Sparkling Cosmo: A Festive Cocktail

26 Nov

Adriana and I had not seen each other for months. You may remember her from delicious recipes like her perfect lamb chops  and roasted Brussels sprouts, or the Cioppino Latino we invented or the decadent recovery from a big night blinis topped with egg and salmon roe.

So it was high time we played again.

An inventive garnish...tasty too!

An inventive garnish…tasty too!

Our evenings, which combine kids’ playdate and Mommy time, tend to be full of amazing food and lots of wine, which is my drink of choice and from which I rarely veer. But this time, we started off the way Adriana prefers: with a proper cocktail. And I am very glad we did!

This variation on the ubiquitous Cosmo worked perfectly to ring in the holiday season…a pale jewel-like pink, topped with the liquid bling of prosecco for some festive sparkle, and cool and crisp on the tongue….and we got a bit playful with the garnish…a segment of clementine (which you can find everywhere at this time of year) pierced through with a knife and then threaded with a boomerang cut of lime peel became our accessory to crime. It looked a bit like a baby turtle crawling to the sea right after being born, or a fish peeking over the rim of the glass to have a look.

Well hello there little fella!

Well hello there little fella!

The kids kept each other very happy and busy doing whatever it is they do when they are not bothering us, except for the occasional appearance to show us a different costume or some dance moves…and we got to the business of catching up. Fun! Fun! Fun!

Now this is the right way to have a playdate!

Now this is the right way to have a playdate!

Sparkling Cosmo

6 oz. vodka

6 oz. cranberry pomegranate juice (or your preferred berry-red juice)

1.5 oz triple sec

A splash of prosecco

A curl of lime peel (or my very sweet Clementine creature garnish – one segment per drink)

Pour the vodka, juice, and triple sec into a shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously and pour off into two generous-sized martini glasses. Top with a splash of prosecco or other sparkling white. Garnish and serve.

And another award-winner: My Banana Bread (with Chocolate Chips)!

3 Oct

I shared with you the great news of Leandro’s first place win for Oatmeal Walnut Cranberry Chocolate Chip Cookies at the Long Island Fair. Now I will share my more modest triumph…my banana bread took second place in the adult class!

Chocolate chips give it that extra prize-winning appeal....

Chocolate chips give it that extra prize-winning appeal….

My banana bread is very moist and banana-y, because I take any bananas that have gone too ripe for pleasant eating (as in the peel is black and the flesh is mushy and getting brown), peel and freeze them in a resealable bag until I have enough for banana bread. So the sugars are really present and there is quite a bit of juice.

I have been terribly busy — too busy to sit down and write something more substantive — so I’ll keep it short and give you the recipe, which is sure to become a go-to for you!

Slice and freeze for great lunchbox stuffers

Slice and freeze for great lunchbox stuffers

Banana Chocolate Chip Quick Bread

6 overripe bananas

1 Cup sugar (1/2 light brown and ½ white)

2 eggs, beaten

½ Cup vegetable oil

2 Cups flour (1/2 whole wheat, ½ white all purpose)

1 tsp baking soda

¼ tsp salt

1 Cup bittersweet chocolate morsels

Preheat oven to 350°. Mash bananas in mixing bowl. Add sugar, eggs and oil, one at a time, mixing well with each addition. Sift dry ingredients together and add to banana mixture. Fold in chocolate morsels. Pour in four greased mini- loaf pans and bake 55-60 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Second place for me

Second place for me

Basic Baked Meatballs: Simple, Adaptable, Freezeable

26 Jan

Great Super Bowl party buffet idea!

The other day I posted my recipe for fancy-cheesy meatballs. Here now, as promised, the basic meatballs that I did just in case we had a child who wanted something more simple (we did not). Baked and basic, you can add any seasonings or sauces to them to make them suit your mood. (Try Roasted Red Pepper Dipping Sauce)

(You can also try my albóndigas variation which is pretty easy and includes Old Bay, or Pedro’s pan-fried  albóndigas, or Ham & Cheese meatballs in the oven. I do like my meatballs!)

I now have a bunch of basics in the freezer, and will very likely pull them out for Super Bowl…and serve them with toothpicks. If I can find the right passionfruit juice, I will soon post a passionfruit sauce recipe that my friend Mayra used to do in PR. I just found the recipe among some old papers and I am eager to try it.

Otherwise, any BBQ-type thick dipping sauce will do!

Basic Baked Meatballs

Basic Baked Meatballs

Basic Baked Meatballs

1 egg

1 Tbs fresh parsley, chopped (or 2 tsp dry)

1 Tbs grated onion

1 tsp garlic, minced

1 tsp Adobo powder

1 grating black pepper

1 lb. ground beef (can include ¼ lb. ground pork)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Mix all ingredients except meat until combined. Add meat in chunks. Mix lightly until well combined and roll into 1.5” balls. Place on a foil-covered rimmed baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into one reaches 160°F. Serve as cocktail meatballs with your favorite sauce, add to pasta sauce, or make into sandwiches. They will adapt to just about any flavor palette.

Blackberry Bonanza: Syrup, Martini, and Lemon Iced Tea (plus a lesson in empirical evidence)

27 Aug

There is currently a beautiful blackberry crop at Restoration Farm (our C.S.A.) and there’s nothing more fun than walking down to the berry patch and picking a pint or quart of berries with your kid in a bucolic colonial setting.

You know which berries are ready because they are dark, dark, dark (which I suppose explains why they are called blackberries; I am a genius) and also, when you are harvesting, the ripe ones don’t resist a very gentle tug, but slip right off the bush into your fingers sans stem and core. If they resist, it is not because they are being difficult, but because they simply do not want to deliver themselves to you at anything less than their peak. Continue reading

Festive Turkey Salad (With sweetness AND crunch!)

25 Nov

Happy Thanksgiving all! Regular readers will recognize this post from LAST Thanksgiving!!! See you soon; I am off to make broth…

My favorite quick dress-up for food that takes me from workaday-dull to bright and shiny: dried cranberries and walnuts.

My take-to-work breakfast? Plain nonfat yogurt, swirled up with some honey, a handful of cranberries and another handful of walnuts (bought in big bags at Costco – they last and last). Crunchy, creamy and sweet – oh yeah.

At home, I add them to spike up instant oatmeal. I also substitute half the raisins in oatmeal raisin cookies with cranberries for a brighter flavor and add walnuts for crunch and depth.

Boring salad? Add handfuls of cranberries and walnuts and make it fancy-schmancy (especially good with orange/clementine segments, red onion and feta – separately or in combination).

Today I incorporated them into my leftover turkey salad. Zippy!

Leftover Turkey Salad

leftover turkey, removed from bone, gristly bits removed, and chopped into small squares (2-3 cups)

handful dried cranberries

handful chopped walnuts

one celery stalk, chopped fine (mostly because I don’t really like celery)

half a red onion, finely chopped

4 -5 Tbs mayo and nonfat plain yogurt in whatever ratio you prefer

1 Tbs brown or yellow mustard

Mix all together in a bowl and serve in sandwiches or over salad.

Notes: Cranberries (Vaccinium macrocarpon), blueberries and Concord grapes, are the only commercially-grown native North American fruits! They are loaded with vitamin C and dietary fiber and manganese and other good things and may very well help prevent some urinary tract infections in women, but the jury is still out on that.

Quick Cannellini Bean Salad (great with tomatoes or on toast!)

9 Sep

Cannellini beans have come to the rescue a couple of times this week – once when I needed something to take across the street to dinner that would show off one of the tomatoes we grew in our backyard and then when we had a mom and kid playdate and I wanted a quick addition to a snack-y type table, along with hummus, veggies, crackers, grapes, sun-dried tomatoes and cheese.

These little white beans are tasty right out of the can, so you are only seconds from a hearty snack when you have it in your pantry. I think I’ll be using this recipe a lot this winter to add dash and protein satisfaction to otherwise ordinary salads.

A delicious salad that makes a meal. Look at those glorious tomatoes.

Quick Cannellini Bean Salad (great with tomatoes!)

1 15oz can cannellini (white) beans, rinsed and drained

1/4 onion, peeled and minced (red onion preferred, but use what you’ve got)

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

¼ -1/2 tsp red or white wine vinegar

¼ – ½ tsp balsamic vinegar

½ tsp oregano/Italian herbs/your favorite dried herb. Double the quantity for fresh chopped herbs.

Pinch salt

Freshly cracked black pepper

(optional, small chunks of tomato, seeded)

Place beans and minced onion in a bowl. In a separate bowl or cup, whisk together oil and vinegars (you can adjust vinegars to your personal taste). Pour over beans, add remaining ingredients. mix thoroughly and serve.

 

Super Bowl: My Guacamole Kicks Your Guacamole’s …

29 Jan

An integral part of any Super Bowl strategy

The Super Bowl is only a game.

Super Bowl food, however, is serious business.

Guacamole is the bottom line of that business.

Guacamole (an appropriate linguistic blend of  the Spanish word for avocado: “aguacate” and “mole” or “milled/mashed”) is an integral part of the strategy of any self-respecting Super Bowl party, with avocado forming the base. I borrow this from Steve Inskeep on NPR’s Morning Edition to give you an idea:

Avocado consumption during the Super Bowl has become the stuff of urban legend. Most of the statistics are probably exaggerated, but that’s not going to stop us from repeating them. Because one says Americans will consume about 50 million pounds of the fruit as they sit on their couches watching the game. A more graphic claim comes from the California Avocado Commission (which)… has been quoted saying the amount of guacamole that Americans will eat this Sunday is enough to cover a football field – end-zone to end-zone, waist deep.

And when it comes to guacamole, I am the one who should have several big, fat Super Bowl rings studding my stumpy-sturdy, more-useful-than-beautiful, hands. Any time I serve it, I win.

I do not care what is traditional, what is correct, what should be, how anyone else does it. My guacamole has always and will always rock. I am proud of it and everyone loves it.

So now that we have dispensed with any pretense at humility, I will give you my recipe, which is a more-or-less one that you should taste while making, because that is what I do. It never tastes exactly the same, but it always tastes good.

Natalia de Cuba Romero’s Legendary Guacamole

2-3-4 Hass (small black pebbly) avocadoes, purchased relatively hard, 3-4 days before the game and scrupulously monitored for a gentle give before cutting open*

3-4 generous and fragrant cloves garlic, peeled (minced superfine if you don’t have a garlic press. If you do have a garlic press, wait for instructions)

1 tsp ground cumin (at least)

¼ cup fresh-squeezed lime juice (Key limes are the best, but not crucial; pre-squeezed from those plastic lime shaped containers is not an acceptable option)

¼ tsp salt

1 Cup nonfat plain yogurt

1-2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped

Handful grape tomatoes, halved, insides squeezed out haphazardly, then chopped

1 Tbs cilantro, finely chopped (unless you have some aversion to cilantro, which many people, remarkably enough, do)

Black pepper to sprinkle

Note: You really should have a garlic press for this.

Have a big bowl ready. Cut the avocado in half, remove pit and peel. Place in bowl. Press  (or add minced) garlic. Add cumin, salt, and some of the lime juice. Mash it to your liking (smooth or chunky). Add a couple of generous tablespoons of yogurt to taste (this is a stretching measure so you need to play with it and add as needed). Play with the spices a quarter tsp at a time and the lime a tsp at a time. When you like the flavor you have achieved, stir in the eggs and tomato. Et voila! The best guacamole ever. Serve with good tortilla chips (I like the blue corn ones, myself)

 *Do NOT wait till game day to buy your avocadoes because only the hard, unripe ones will be left. Buy several days ahead, let soften outside the fridge and if they give a LOT when you press, put them in the fridge immediately. The yogurt will save you if you don’t have enough soft or if you have too much brown flesh.

If using the Florida/Caribbean large, smooth-skinned variety, you may not need much yogurt, because they are more watery, not as dense.

 

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