Thursday, June 28, 2012

Hello Summer!

 It seems like summertime has arrived in full force across the country. Here in Florida we rang in the start of summer with a tropical depression. Thankfully Debby has finally left our vicinity and we can all get back to the beach. I hear the middle of the country is experiencing temperatures well above 100 degrees! Whew!

  To me summertime is a time for light and fruity drinks with good friends. We made these in honor of the first day of summer. They're delicious so grab the supplies and have a couple. Or more.

To make these you'll need lemonade, lemons, sparkling wine, and cranberry juice.

For one drink you'll want:

1 part sparkling wine
2 parts lemonade
1 slice of lemon (squeezed into the drink)
splash of cranberry juice

Mix together over ice and enjoy. Actually I might suggest that you go ahead and make a pitcher to save yourself the effort later. :)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Yeast Crepes

  As a child growing up, birthdays were a big deal. For me, they still are. I demand that the world stop and recognize that it is the anniversary of my birth. It's my day and the one time I really enjoy being the center of attention. A tradition in our household was that each of us kids chose our birthday meal and what type of cake we wanted. Every year I asked for black bean burritos for dinner and a vanilla cake with that icing with sprinkles in it. Oh yeah!! My taste buds were obviously fabulous back then, along with my camera face. :)

  You might be wondering if I've once again gotten lost in my mind and begun rambling aimlessly about things that have nothing to do with the subject at hand. For once that hasn't happened. My baby brother always chose to have nutritional yeast crepes for his birthday. They were his favorite. In later years he would always be welcomed home from college to them and fresh baked chocolate chip cookies (spoiled much?!!). So I have always associated these with my not-so-little-anymore, getting ready to have a baby-baby brother and birthday celebrations.

  First things first, this recipe uses nutritional yeast flakes. Nutritional yeast is a fabulous source of B vitamins and is often described as having a taste similar to cheese. I personally use it as a topping on all types of foods including burritos and popcorn. I have lived places where numerous stores carry nutritional yeast and places where I had to have my parents ship me some! Here I am always able to find them in the bulk foods section at Whole Foods. Also, if you're familiar with Bob's Red Mill products (usually found in the baked goods section), I know they carry packaged nutritional yeast flakes. If you have a store with bulk goods, check there because they often carry them. 

  Second things second. :) Focus on the crepe and use your imagination for the filling, the possibilities are endless. I'm sharing a vegetarian recipe which is what my mom always made growing up, and evil little brother's favorite. I've previously added rotisserie chicken when my husband has wanted meat. You can also eat them plain, maybe with a little melted better over the top. Or use to make a dessert crepe, filling it with chocolate sauce and fruits. You get the picture. 

Here is what you'll need for the filling and the crepes for 4 people:
2 Tbl Olive oil (may need to add more during cooking)
4 cups frozen peas
4 Tbl fresh or dried dill weed
1/2 of an onion chopped
Shredded mozzarella cheese

2 cups of all purpose flour
3/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1/2 tsp baking powder
3 1/2 cups water
2 Tbl melted unsalted butter


  First you want to get your filling going. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat and then add the peas, onions, and dill. Stir regularly until cooked through. I personally like the peas cooked until they're really mushy and have turned slightly brown. I think the flavors come out more then. To get them to this point takes about 20 minutes and I like to cover them for the second half of the cooking time.

The crepes!
  Now the important part, your crepes. Mix together all of the ingredients in a medium bowl until well blended. The batter will be a little thinner than a pancake batter is.

  When you're ready, heat a pan over medium-high heat. Or, if you have a griddle you can use it so you can cook more at once. Also, a non stick pan will make your life much easier. If you don't have one, just be patient.

  Spray your pan well with non stick spray. Pour about 1/3 of a cup of the batter into the pan, tilting the pan a little as you do to allow it to spread out.
  They won't be perfect circles, don't worry! Let it cook until it starts to bubble up and the edges turn a nice brown color, like the photo above. Then flip it over to cook the other side.

  At this point I sprinkle some cheese on the crepe so that it can melt. The second side doesn't take very long to cook, I always lift up an edge and peek to see how it's doing. Once it's cooked, remove to your plate and add some filling down the middle.

  Roll the crepe up and enjoy!!! In our house we eat the crepes as they're ready. My husband usually floats around behind me holding his plate and waiting for more. If you want to serve everyone all at once, then you could put them in a warm oven until they're all ready.

  Also, don't get discouraged if your first couple of crepes seem to stick to the pan and get ruined. For some reason this happens to me often, just keep going and you'll get it! One thing is for sure, they are delicious! You'll love them. If you have any questions, just ask!!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Spicy Shrimp with Couscous

  Happy, Happy Wednesday!! I hope that everyone is having a delightful week so far. Any big plans for the weekend? I'm seeing a weekend involving water in my future, it is way to hot for anything other than palm trees and beach umbrellas! I went outside this evening to tackle some planting and almost melted. Seriously, it was tragic. And I'm pretty sure our neighbors think I'm always covered in potting soil with my hair sticking straight up. Which isn't too far from the truth I guess. At least we have the sun back! After a week straight of pouring down rain it felt soggy even when you were inside.

  The rain always makes me want to crochet for some reason and so I've been spending a lot of time curled on the couch with my hooks and yarn. I've got two blankets I'm working on and a pile of wash clothes. Not to mention the unmentionables, aka the projects hidden in my craft room. What I really need to do is put away the yarn and deal with the laundry. Maybe tomorrow.

  The other day I came across a recipe for shrimp with brown butter sauce here and I was immediately in love with the idea. So I was off buying ingredients and making a spicy shrimp with couscous for lunch. 

     Ingredients for 4:

1 cup uncooked couscous
1 cup baby portabella mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
20 large shrimp (add more if you like. Cooked or raw will work)
3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 Tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
5 Tablespoons butter (unsalted)
4 green onions, diced (optional)
4 Tablespoons chopped unsalted cashews (optional)

Preheat oven to broil.

Start your couscous cooking. Next mix 2 Tablespoon of olive oil with the spices (chili powder, garlic, pepper, and cayenne). Once they're mixed well, toss in a bowl with the shrimp and set to the side.

Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté them. Set to the side when done. Return the skillet to medium heat.

Back to your shrimp. I put these into the oven when I start browning the butter. Put the shrimp onto skewers and then onto a baking sheet, or you can always just lay them flat on the sheet if you don't have skewers. Put them in the oven on the middle rack and cook approximately 2-3 minutes on each side. If they're uncooked, insure that they're cooked through. 

Around now your couscous should be either cooked or almost done. Add the mushrooms into it and stir so that they warm up.

Add the butter to the skillet, stirring while it melts. Once melted, keep stirring until the butter browns. Add the browned butter to the couscous and stir together well. Divide amongst four bowls. Add the shrimp and top with cashews and green onions if you desire. 

We were huge fans of this recipe! It's full of flavor but still light so that you don't need to nap afterwards. My husband asked that it be recorded and made again soon! Yummm, I love shrimp!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Caprese & Paint

Have you ever wondered who used to live in your house? I've spent the day trying to tackle some of the countless projects I've started and not finished. Yes, my project list just seems to grown on a daily basis. Someday they will all be crossed off. Doubtful.

Back to the question. I've questioned if previous families wondered where all the closets are in this house. Really? Do people not believe in closets here? I've been spoiled in the past without realizing it, I did not realize how important closets were. Not for clothes so much as for hiding all that stuff you keep moving but don't really need nor want out in the open. Or maybe it is for the clothes, I never get them all put away anyway. Or yarn. Or a cat.

I've wondered if other wives have stood in the kitchen cooking while laughing at their husband on the couch. And what about the wives who lived here before someone started knocking down walls to create an open floor plan? That must have been hugely lonely.

 We have an odd little room off our kitchen that was a more recent addition to the house. It's had an identity crisis since we moved in here. We jokingly call it our closet/pantry/home to our ancient desktop computer. It is nice, but not quite big enough for all of the jobs we've given it. It's also the only room we still needed to paint. So that has been my unfinished project today that is still unfinished. When my husband left for work you could walk in that room, not the case now. Oops again. But hopefully the room will have recovered from it's identity crisis by the end of the weekend. Or maybe the end of the month. Okay, at least before we move again.

When I'm "working" I often forget to eat. I start drinking coffee, vibrating, and the next thing I know I've gone all day without a bite to eat and I'm crashing from my caffeine high. One of these days I will learn. These are days that I love to make simple salads, such as a Caprese.

All that you need is some fresh basil, mozzarella, and tomatoes. Along with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

I don't have amounts, I've never had time to measure things. Nor is it really needed. I use one tomato, a handful of basil leaves, and a nice thick chuck of mozzarella. In case you've forgotten, I love cheese. 

Just chop your ingredients up and throw them in a bowl. Toss with some oil and vinegar, I start with 1/2 Tablespoon of each and add more if needed. A fast and quick answer when you don't have time to make lunch!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Lemon Garlic Roasted Asparagus

  This is another wonderful asparagus recipe that I love to make. The best thing is that there are two different ways to make it depending on your mood. Here is what you'll need

1 bunch asparagus
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Juice of 1 lemon
Fresh cracked pepper & garlic to taste (I like to use a garlic & pepper grinder I have, you can also use fresh chopped garlic if you would like)

Optional toppings:
1/4 cup toasted almonds, chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
zest of 1 lemon

*Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Wash your asparagus and trim the ends. Lay the asparagus out on a cookie sheet.

Mix the olive oil, lemon, and pepper together. Drizzle the mixture over the top of the asparagus and put it in the oven. Depending on the size of your asparagus, cook for about 15 minutes until it's tender and browned.

Pull out your asparagus. Now you can serve it like this or add the toppings! I like it both ways.

If you're using the toppings, you'll want to toast the almonds before you cook the asparagus. Mix together all the topping ingredients and sprinkle over the asparagus. Serve with a smile!! Enjoy!

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