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Posts Tagged ‘spring’

chop drop soup

This is not so much a recipe as it is a map or method to creating soul satisfying soup in five easy steps.  Let your imagination go wild, with the blessing of your taste buds of course.  Soups are a perfect way to use seasonal veggies that you may find at your local farmers market.  Say there is an unusual squash on the table, ask the grower if it is hard, bitter, sweet, or soft?  Bitter squash is not the best candidate for soups, at least in my view, so I avoid those.  Zucchini is about as bitter as I will go.  Give chop and drop a try!

Step 1

Empty the veggie drawer into the (clean) kitchen sink or counter.  Wash all skin-stay-on veggies.

Step 2

Peel and trim veggies.  Chop into manageable pieces.  Hint: the smaller the dice the hastier it cooks!

Step 3

Drop into a soup pot with a swirl of olive oil, sprinkle of salt and pepper.  Stir.

Step 4

Add liquids.  Choose your favorite stock, broth, bouillon, OXO, Knorr, or even tomato puree, or can of cream of whatever plus milk.

Step 5

Wait.  Poke the veggies to see if they are tender. Heck, you could even taste one or two.

You are ready to eat!

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This is an appetizer I came across in Martha Stewart’s Entertaining book, circa 1998.   These stuffed snow peas caught my eye for an attractive spring treat.  If it wasn’t so darned hot in Texas I might try to grow my own snow peas, green beans sort of worked last year until the drought set in.

Here is how I used Martha’s snow peas to inspire this little bite.

  • cream cheese, room temperature or at least until it’s workable
  • Epicure “3 Onion Dip Mix”  (about 1 tsp per 2 oz cream cheese)
  • 1 tbsp mayo (per 2 oz cream cheese)
  • dash hot sauce

Mix the above until well blended.  Set aside.  Strip the string off the front of the snow pea pods and carefully cut it open but not all the way in half.  Pipe the cream cheese mixture into the opened pods.  Chill before serving.  2 oz of cream cheese will easily fill a dozen pods, any leftovers can be snacked on later with a few crackers.

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Spring Cleaning

Warm southern winds whipped through our open doors and windows today.  This is the perfect time of year to air out the house.  Cool breezes free of insects are a welcome reminder of spring.

Hubby started in the garage, one of the places I rarely occupy here.  Over winter several objects, large and small, managed to cover the entire floor.  It was a bit of a hazard.  I followed Little Sister around as she picked up baseballs, sticks and leaves.  Inside the house wasn’t safe from the clean sweep instigated by my love – everything which was under my bathroom sink was on the bathroom floor.  I was about to go ape when he walked in and said the sweetest thing.  “Can we get rid of all that old stuff and buy you some new makeup?”  He might as well have asked if I wanted to trade in my car for a Shelby Mustang!  Just because of the sentiment, I cleared out an entire trash bag of crap from the bathroom (no pun intended!) without complaining.

All that hard work called for a light meal and refreshing drink.  Enter balsamic dressed steak wraps and iced jicama tea!

Iced Jicama Tea

Start the tea so it finishes steeping by the time you sit down to eat.  To 1.5L of boiled water, add a good cup full of dry jicama flowers and 3/4 cup of sugar or agave nectar.  Let the flowers release all their color (and therefore flavour), this will take about 10 minutes.  I like a strong tea since I fill my glass with ice and pour the raspberry scented elixir over the ice, it will mellow out as the ice melts.  You can find jicama flowers in Latin grocery stores, and possibly in a diversely stocked bulk food section of a natural grocery store.

Balsamic Dressed Steak Wraps



Gather up these ingredients to assemble your wraps:

  • 1 8oz steak
  • balsamic vinegar
  • Dijon mustard
  • honey
  • good olive oil
  • red onion
  • fresh cilantro
  • tortillas (or for a low carb version – lettuce leaves)

I keep a small container of balsamic dressing in the fridge for the week when I feel like salads or dipping fresh bread.  It’s all done by eye and taste bud, but generally there is a 2:1 ratio of oil to balsamic, then a squirt of mustard and honey, don’t forget a pinch of sea salt.  Whisk or shake vigorously to emulsify the mixture into a dressing.  Store in an air tight container in the fridge for up to a week, however this tends to thicken as it sits so it’s better used fresh.

Sear the steak seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic – or use your favorite steak seasoning.  Flip the steak and continue to a medium-well.  Remove the steak from the pan and let it rest for at least 10 minutes.  If you cut into a piping hot piece of meat all the juices will run out on to your cutting board.  Someone doesn’t have the patience for this step and I’m left with something resembling a sneaker.  So stand guard if you have to.

Warm the tortillas while thinly slicing red onion and tearing cilantro.  Slice thin strips of steak across the grain.  Load up your wrap and drizzle the balsamic dressing over the steak, onion and cilantro.

Kick back and enjoy 🙂

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My homeland is still suffering from frost-licked weather and spring break is around the corner.   The icy cold beckons my mind and there’s only one cure… ice cream!

I could just grab a small bowl of ice cream but that would be boring and I would have nothing to write about!

Nope.  A step above simple is my mantra.  Not complete gourmet over-the-top dessert either.  Something satisfying, yet 27º from the central norm.

This is a triple chocolate ice cream sandwich.  Take two chocolate chocolate chip cookies (use this cookie recipe for perfectly chewy chocolate chip cookies and add about 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder or until the dough looks chocolate-y enough) and fill with chocolate ice cream.  Serve with fresh mint and strawberry syrup, for a touch of glam.

Put the mint leaves inside the sandwich – I dare you.

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Food makes my soul happy.  I’m sure this is true for many, many people.  I’m not talking merely of the eating of food either.  I love to cook for my family, friends, or neighbours.  Sharing food, sharing the kitchen with Benjamin, sharing the joy food brings to people.  All that.  As I grow older (to the tender age of thirty) food, cooking, baking, playing in the kitchen keeps becoming more fun.  Watching my kiddos devour a creation is fantastic, but as they get bigger and bigger, I realize that I’m not a spring chicken anymore.  

I wanted something that looked healthy and tasted good, and was not hot because the days of summer are here to stay for a good while here in Texas.  What do we have in the kitchen today… chicken breasts?  How ’bout a salad.

You will need:

Spring Chicken Pasta Salad with a side of Naan

2 chicken breasts (prepare in a grill press or sauté pan)

1/2 lb rotini pasta, cooked al denté, drained

3 Tbsp lemon juice, fresh if you’ve got it

1 tsp dried tarragon

2 tsp finely chopped cilantro (sub. parsley)

1/2 tsp fine sea salt

3 Tbsp mayo

3 Tbsp ranch dressing (lite) or sour cream or plain yogurt should do the trick, note that you will want some pepper if ranch is not used.

1 tsp white champagne vinegar

1/2 of a large cucumber, seeded and diced small

3 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced small

3 green onions, sliced

1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and diced

Cool the pasta and chicken as the dressing is assembled.  In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing (lemon juice, tarragon, cilantro, salt, mayo, ranch, and vinegar).  Keep this cool in the fridge.

Prepare the veggies in a similar size dice.  Slice or shred the chicken.  Toss the pasta, veg, and dressing together.  Top with the chicken.

Enjoy!

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