Rhubarb is not for Everyone

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Their are things that you try and just know you like it and then there are other things that you acquire a taste for.  Rhubarb may be that item in our home.

Rhubarb has a short season and I have never really done much with it.  In fact for the last few years I have seen it at a local market and been intrigued, but never purchased it until this year.  I was determined to give it a try as I am not even sure I have ever eaten it, or consciously done so.

I bought a small amount, three stalks and luckily the farmer whom I purchased it from had already trimmed it, so there was no room for error.  Thank goodness because the sheer thought that if I accidently served the leaves because we eat all different greens that I could poison my family is enough to scare a newcomer from trying it.

Most of the recipes for rhubarb involve sugar and making something sweet.  I love sweets, but I wanted to try something different, so I decided to try and roast rhubarb for a salad.

Roasted Rhubarb

1 Stalk Rhubarb, cut into 1/2″ slices

1/4 cup Maple Syrup

Toss Rhubarb in maple syrup and spread out on a baking sheet.  Roast in oven for 20 minutes at 375 degrees

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Allow rhubarb to cool and add to salad or eat as desired.

Well the rhubarb was musher than I expected, yet still had a bitter flavor.  I tossed it atop a salad of spinach, radish, and strawberries with a small amount of olive oil and a balsamic reduction.  The result, though eaten will not be served again.  It was edible but nothing that any of us particularly liked.

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Two more stalks to use and having googled and searched Pinterest as well as read several recipes from blogs I follow, I decided it was time to give rhubarb a try in what it is known best for.  Mixed with strawberries and maybe into a delicate spring dessert. Rather than a pie I found smitten Kitchen’s recent post for strawberry rhubarb crisp a good choice.  The bars came out good. They were simple enoug to make and the flavor was nice, but again nothing I would go searching for.  Mr. Mixture is not a fruit in his dessert person, but Little Miss Mixture pretty much enjoys anything with sugar.  She gave raving reviews to the bars as did so e others I shared them with.

Recipe for Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp can be found here.

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Attempt number three.  With just a small amount of rhubarb left, I decided to make a sauce that could be enjoyed in a yogurt parfait.  Well the sauce never happened.  I am not one to forget things, but Mr. Mixture arrived home early from a trip.  We were catching up on things that occurred over the week, it was raining and we needed to tend to some clogged gutters and OOPS what is that smell?  My rhubarb sauce was smoking and not in a good way.

Well we bought , we tried. We rated and now I know that rhubarb is not something this Mixture family will be yearning for or searching farmers markets for next spring.  However if it is a taste you enjoy, it is simple and versatile. I am glad we tried it.  The crisp bars really were good!

Orange Popovers

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Popovers and I have history.  Funny thing is I  never introduced my family to them until this past fall.  I would probably put them in the Treasure Chest of recipes, but I guess they got buried for the past fifteen years. Popovers are simple, take very few ingredients and are almost foolproof, or so I thought.

As a dietetic student in college I had a textbook that was a cookbook.  It was my senior year internship and I was living alone, so I had to learn how to make meals for one. When you are living in the lake effect snow region of the United States one cannot survive on salad alone.  I would often decide on a meal or two I wanted that I could make ahead and heat when I returned home from the hospital each night.   I had a couple of casseroles that I learned to make, but then I would be left with extra ingredients.  This happened a couple of times with eggs and milk.  So I began searching my Good Housekeeping cookbook to determine a way to use up my ingredients before they went bad, I found popovers took little more than milk and eggs and they were fairly quick to make.  I had a ceramic baking dish so rather than individual popovers, I made a giant one. My first attempt was a success and the light fluffy bread was a perfect accompaniment for myself on a salad night.

Fast forward to a recent family vacation and my father was awstruck by fresh popovers he found at a local farmers market.  So I decided to dig out my recipe from the trusty Good Housekeeping Cookbook, which I still have and reference occasionally, and give them a try.  Needless to say Mr. Mixture and Little Miss Mixture were very happy and a little taken back that I had never made these for them before.  They have now been made several times over this past winter.

As I browse pinterest I have seen a lot of popover recipes, one in particular caught my eye for coconut and dark chocolate.  I gave them a try. but was not happy with the consistency of them.  That is not to say I will not attempt them again, but when I think popover I want light and fluffy so if it does not rise to double what the batter began as, it is not the taste I am looking for.

Determined to make a sweeter more unique popover for a brunch, I decided why recreate the wheel.  So I referenced my trusty recipe and decided to tweak it by adding some orange zest and orange extract.  The result was a light and refreshing taste.  I also had some leftover grated chocolate from my failed coconut and dark chocolate popover attempt, so 6 of the mini popovers got that tossed in the batter as well.  Again a success. If you are looking for a light bread to go with a meal, a brunch, or you need to use up your milk and eggs give popovers a try.

Mini Orange Popovers

Ingredients

3 eggs

1 cup milk

3 Tbsp. melted butter

1 cup all purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp orange extract

2 tsp grated orange zest

3 Tbsp. grated chocolate (optional)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease 24 mini muffin cups

2. In a large bowl with mixer at low speed beat eggs until frothy.  Beat in milk and melted butter.

3. Continue at low speed and beat flour and salt into egg mixture

4. Add orange extract and orange zest and beat until well blended.  If adding chocolate do so at the end and store to incorporate.

5. Spoon batter into mini muffin cups filling each about 3/4 full

6. Bake in preheated oven at 375 for about 50 minutes

Popovers are best served warm.

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Printer Version mini orange popovers

Zucchini Walnut Feta Cakes

You know there are just some things that take you by surprise.  Well that would be the night I served my version of Zucchini Walnut Feta cakes.  

I consider our family adventurous when it comes to food.  I know we each have our hang ups, but don’t we all.  In recent years we have started eating a lot more meatless entrees and we enjoy them, though I have found certain ones tend to be more appealing to Mr. Mixture.  This recipe was one on the must make list from Little Miss Mixture.  I was excited to make it, though I had thoughts that I would be scouring the refrigerator for something else to ensure the other two were pleased and went to bed satisfied.  

Imagine my shock when not one but both Little Miss Mixture and Mr. Mixture enjoyed it and even stated they would happily eat it again.  Woohoo that is getting a 4 out of 5 Truffles rating.

The recipe was adapted from Cooking light Zucchini Walnut Feta Cakes.  I actually was going to follow the recipe but then I did not have enough dill and when it comes to seasoning I tend to go heavy rather than light.  So I improvised and decided to add fenugreek.  I have no idea why as I truly have very little knowledge of this spice, except to know that every time I order something with it at the Indian restaurant I enjoy my meal.  I have to admit I am not even sure when I bought fenugreek or what I used it for, but it worked with these flavors.  The result was a nicely seasoned cake that paired well with the cucumber sauce.

Zucchini Walnut Feta Fritter

  • 1/2 Cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1/4 Cup chopped walnuts
  • 4 1/2 Cups grated zucchini (about 2 medium)
  • 1/4 tsp salt 
  • 1/4 Cup thinly sliced green onions
  • 1/2  tsp chopped dill
  • 2 tsp. Fenugreek 
  • 3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 3 oz feta cheese, crumbled (about 2/3 cup)
  • 2 Large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 container plain nonfat Greek yogurt (6 – ounce)
  • 1 cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeded, and thinly sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 4 Cups mixed salad greens (about 2 ounces)
  • 1 tomato sliced
1. Place quinoa in a mini food processor; process 1 minute or until finely ground. Add chopped walnuts to processor; process until smooth.
2. Place zucchini in a colander, and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Toss well. Let stand 10 minutes, tossing occasion ally. Press zucchini between paper towels until barely moist.
3. Combine zucchini, green onions, dill, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, fenugreek, cheese, and eggs in a large bowl; stir to combine. Sprinkle quinoa mixture over zucchini mixture; stir well to combine.
4. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add 4 (1/3-cup) zucchini batter mounds to pan; flatten into 3-inch cakes. Cook 4 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove from pan; keep warm. Repeat procedure with remaining 1 tablespoon oil and batter to yield 8 cakes total.

5. Combine remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, yogurt, cucumber, and garlic in a small bowl. Divide greens evenly among 4 plates. Top each with a couple slices do tomato and 2 fritters.  Then add about 1/4 cup cucumber mixture and Serve

Monday Mixture

It is here the official start of the summer season.

I hope everyone is celebrating and has enjoyed time with family and friends over this long weekend.  We did have some friends over for dinner one evening and I had planned to sit by the pool and enjoy the weekend the start of summer, but instead I had some last minute travel plans.  While I will be taking the week off from my own kitchen, here is what we had this week.

1. What we ate May 19 – 24, 2014

Monday – MEATLESS MONDAY – Zucchini Feta Walnut Cakes over greens

Tuesday – Breakfast for Dinner with fruit salad

Wednesday – Ceasar Salad with Grilled Chicken

Thursday – Tortellini with Snap Pea and Pesto

Friday – Grilled Squash, Red Pepper &  Pizza

Saturday – Flank Steak, Grilled Radicchio & Fennel, Grilled Corn Salad

2. My recipe Must Make List  – A couple of weeks ago I wrote about Chicken Broccoli Mac with Bacon.  In the post, I discussed how Little Miss Mixture took the liberty of going through an entire magazine and marking all the recipes she wanted to try.  So I took this as a challenge as I am a list maker.  Over the years I have made many list of meal ideas, recipe try list, etc.  Well I decided to formalize her list and combine it with a couple of my own I found stashed away in my files.  You can find my Must Try List on this page.  Periodically as we try new recipes I will post them and provide our comments and thoughts along with the recipe. 

3. Top food trends of 2014 – recently I have been reading different articles online and I love the random “shares” that appear on my Facebook news feed regarding 10 best or 10 worst …  Earlier this year the National Restaurant Association indicated the Top 5 and Top 10 trends in food as well as Top 5 alcohol.  All the list included items such as locally sourced, artisan, sustainable.  Thus bringing awareness to our health and eating differently.  Yet the Huffington post had this the other day.  Where are these trends taking place?

4. Happy 1 year Anniversary to me and having a Vitamix.  I can honestly say I have enjoyed it.  Here are some of the recipes I have made with it recently.

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Cinco De Mayo Smoothie

PBB&D

Banana Bread in a Glass

Pesto

I will be posting some of my favorite Vitamix recipes in the next few weeks.

5.  Stocking Up – As the farmers markets are getting in full swing and the local fruit and vegetables are plentiful.  Do not forget to buy ahead.  Purchase more than you can eat and properly wash and freeze it so that you can enjoy fresh local food throughout the year.  I am not a big freezer person, but I do find it beneficial in healthy eating to stock up on fruits and vegetables.  Here is a link to “how to freeze” .  The link references blueberries but I have found this method works well with strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and okra.

Have a great week and enjoy.  Summer is almost here!

Pimento Cheese

It’s a southern thing.

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I remember having pimento cheese as a child and yes it was the completely processed type, not the type mom made from scratch and I liked it.  Orange and creamy with little red bits in it.  It is not a food that has been a staple in my life by any means as I have probably gone years without it, but every now and then I get a craving.  I always enjoyed it when I have had it.  I like it on crackers, on a sandwich with cucumber, or as a treat in a grilled sandwich.

As I have decreased the processed foods in our house for the last several years I have not given in the the craving for pimento cheese.  However, I recently got that craving again after having been out with some friends and they ordered an appetizer that included pimento cheese. Pimento cheese as an appetizer was new to me.  Indeed I grew up in the south, but I do not recall having it as anything other than an alternative to peanut butter, tuna, or deli meats for lunch.

Well the appetizer was unique in that not only was the pimento cheese clearly not completely processed and might have even been fresh made as I could make out the pieces of shredded cheese.  This cheesy concoction was paired with guacamole and called Double Dip.  Brilliant! Take a southern staple and add an adored mexican staple put them together on a tortilla.  Ta da whether created to appeal to different people who frequent the restaurant, or to expand people’s taste our food and our area have blended to cultural foods together.  Love it!

So now the craving for pimento cheese was only teased because double dip was an appetizer and not a well balanced meal I ordered all for myself, though the thought has crossed my mind in the last few days.  It would make a nice colorful meal for me – cheese, avocado, corn chips… I could think of worse.

Wanting to satisfy the craving, I began researching recipes.  I kept finding recipes that included Dijon mustard and fresh garlic.  I love garlic but my first attempt at homemade pimento cheese left me with a bitter bite of minced garlic, not the flavor I wanted.  So I combined a couple of recipes and came up with something that very much resembles the flavor from the restaurant and the flavor of the pimento cheese I grew up with.

Pimento Cheese

Ingredients

8 oz Sharp White Cheddar cheese, shredded
3 oz Cream Cheese, room temperature
3 oz Pimentos
1/4 tsp Paprika
1/8 tsp Garlic Powder
6 Drops Hot Sauce (Texas Pete)
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Directions
1. Place cream cheese in a glass bowl and allow to sit out until room temperature. This will make ease at mixing all ingredients. You can microwave cream cheese for about 10-15 seconds. The softer the cream cheese the easier to mix.
Cream cheese mixes best and blends to a creamy consistency if whipped with electric mixer for a few minutes.
Add shredded cheese to cream cheese and mix well.
Add pimentos to the cheese mixture. There is no need to drain, but do not allow too much liquid to mix with the cheeses.
Add all seasonings and mix to taste. Serve immediately or store in refrigerator.
Note if using for sandwiches this makes approximately 4 – 6 servings. For appetizer or small bites it can feed more.

Pimento Cheese Recipe print out

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