Simple Sippin’ Syrup

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Tools: Saucepan and heatproof spoon, Ball mason jar

Ingredients:

1 sliced fresh peach

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

Method:

Combine all ingredients, bring to boil. Allow to boil, stirring until liquid has reduced by half. (Exercise caution- the culinary world calls boiling sugar napalm!) Chill uncovered overnight in the refrigerator for flavor to develop, serve.

Variations:

Fruit syrups: This is wonderful with blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries or pineapple

Paleo: Substitute sugar for coconut sugar, honey or maple syrup.

Frozen fruit: You may use frozen instead of fresh fruit. Use at least 1 cup frozen fruit, as the flavor of frozen fruit is subdued

Mint: Prepare sugar and water, add 2 sprigs fresh mint when mixture is cooling.

Flavored Iced tea: Add syrup to any unsweetened brewed tea

Italian soda: Add syrup to unflavored seltzer water, mix, top with a splash of milk of choice (coconut or cashew would be ideal)

Lace up your corsets and hoop skirts, it’s peach season.

This is one of my culinary highlights of the year. I have only been asked to leave two grocery stores for diving headfirst into their peach displays. Not only am I lucky enough to be a Southern Belle, I am by birthright a Georgia Peach. This is one of my nicknames with my New Mexico family. There’s a lot to live up to! I have to be sassy and handy with a pie crust. I’m working on the pie crust, sass was also a birthright.

I love the golden and amber shades of a peach. They are like the most beautiful colors of a sunset captured in time. And there is nothing like the perfume of a ripe peach! Do you remember the movie where two men spend time telling each other all the ways they can cook shrimp? I do that with peaches. Peach cobbler, peach rum punch, peach iced tea, spicy peach Barbecue sauce, peach ice cream, peach preserves, peach pie…I could go on.

You know I had to put my pretty syrup in a Ball jar. These are the champagne glasses of the South. We store all our finest treasures in these. Canned preserves, jams, jellies, chutneys, chow chow. I love how the contents glisten like jewels.

Please enjoy this syrup, I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of what you could do with mixed drinks! What will you make with it? Do you have any peach requests?

See my recipes on Pinterest!

Base- A- Roni

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Tools: Saucepan with lid, rice cooker, or instant pot

Preparation time: approximately 20 minutes

Ingredients:

1 cup rice

1 cup vermicelli pasta or pasta of choice (optional)

2 cups broth of choice (can be made with bouillon according to package directions)

2 tbsp. saute spread of choice (butter/ Earth Balance)

2 tbsp. Roasted Ranch ‘Rito spice mix or favorite spice blend of choice

1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained (optional)

1/4 cup minced onion

1 tsp. salt

Method:

Stove top: On medium high heat, saute onion until translucent. Add rice, pasta and spice blend, toast until rice has a nutty fragrance. Add broth of choice, bring to boil, reduce to simmer. Cover. Cook  mixture according to rice package directions. Uncover, fluff with rice and serve

Instant pot: On saute function, cook onion until translucent. Add rice, pasta and spice blend, toast until rice has a nutty fragrance. Add broth of choice, bring to boil, cook on rice setting. Allow to release, fluff with fork and serve.

Rice Cooker: Toast rice and pasta with spread/butter in a pan separately. Combine all ingredients in rice cooker bowl, set cooker on rice function (white or brown rice), fluff with fork and serve.

Variations:

Beef: Use beef broth

Chicken: Use chicken broth

Garlic and herb: Use vegetable broth, double the amount of spread/butter in recipe to 4 tbs. Add 1 tsp minced garlic or garlic powder and 1 tablespoon dried parsley to the spice mix of choice.

Wild Rice or Brown Rice: Simply substitute wild rice or brown rice and cook according to package directions.

Protein: Make this a one pot meal by adding ground beef when you toast the onion or adding diced chicken. If using Vegan beef or chicken protein crumbles, add at the last 5 minutes of cooking as it does not need a longer cooking time.

Vegetables: Add any you like! Add frozen mixed vegetables or broccoli when sauteing onion.

Indian: Use your favorite Indian spice mix or Add 1 tablespoon curry powder, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and turmeric, 2 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted coconut, and 2 tablespoons golden raisins before adding vegetable or chicken broth to cover.

Cheesy Broccoli: Add 1 cup frozen or fresh broccoli florets before adding broth. Before serving fold in 1 cup cheddar style cheese (I’m using Daiya Cheddar shreds.)

Asian Style Rice: Substitute favorite Asian spice blend or 1 tbsp. garlic powder, soy sauce and 2 tsp. fresh grated ginger or 1 tsp. ground ginger. Prepare as directed. You may also add a whisked in egg near the end of cooking time, stirring until completely cooked.

Paleo: Substitute cauliflower rice and prepare as directed.

My procrastination in going to the grocery store has become a clean out the pantry challenge.

When I do go to the grocery store, it’s going to be a massive trip. I haven’t figured out how to do this while transporting baby. Wait, I just realized I could wear him in a wrap. Nonetheless, my next shopping trip will be when my parents are in town for additional baby towing power.

I’ve been enjoying using what we have, it feels like a challenge. It’s time for lunch and I open my pantry. Why do I have twelve cans of chickpeas left? I also have about fifteen bags of different kinds of rice. My friend gave me some of her high quality bouillon from Puerto Rico and this recipe is born! I highly recommend you try some of this Goya Ham bullion. It’s the best I’ve ever had.

We don’t need to buy a box of rice, pasta and a salt lick in a packet at an outrageous markup. We can make our own! We can control our ingredients!  We can use whole grains so it has more fiber. We can avoid unnecessary gluten and MSG. And we save money.

When I was a child I took the motto on the box to heart. I imagined San Francisco had chandeliers made of boxed rice mix. I fantasized it was on every trolley. I was a little surprised when I visited the first time and discovered it was only at the grocery store like everywhere else.” The San Francisco treat, my foot!” Fortunately I also visited Chinatown and Ghiradelli and my food related expectations of this beautiful city were salvaged. Once you have crispy duck you tend to forget about packaged side dishes. (Yes, I was still a child when I visited.)

I call this Base-A-Roni because it really is a base for any flavors you would like. Please try it or let me know if you come up with any variations!

See my recipes on Pinterest!

Curry in a hurry

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Tools: Saucepan with lid, instant pot, slow cooker

Preparation time: Varies based on cooking method

Ingredients:

1 can chickpeas, rinsed

1 diced potato, skin well scrubbed or peeled

1/4 cup frozen peas

1/4 cup onion

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 cup broth of choice (vegetable, chicken, beef)

4 tbsp. tomato paste (may add more if you like)

1/2 cup full fat coconut milk with 2 tbsp. flour or cornstarch whisked in

1 tbsp. saute oil of choice or butter or ghee

1 tsp. cinnamon, cayenne pepper (optional), cinnamon, turmeric

1 bay leaf

2 tbsp. curry powder, Garam Masala, onion powder, smoked paprika

salt to taste after recipe is fully cooked

Method:

Stove top: Saute onion in saute oil of choice until translucent, add garlic, diced potatoes and all spices, cooking until fragrant. Add broth, chickpeas, peas, and tomato paste. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer, cover. Cook for thirty minutes. Uncover, bring to boil, add coconut milk/flour mixture and boil an additional 5 minutes or until sauce coats the back of a spoon. Adjust sauce to your liking, adding salt and additional seasonings, remove bay leaf. Serve with rice and naan bread.

Instant pot: Saute onion in saute oil of choice until translucent, add garlic, diced potatoes and all spices, cooking until fragrant. Add broth, chickpeas, peas, and tomato paste. Cook on manual for 15 minutes. Release, bring to boil, add coconut milk/flour mixture and boil using sauté function an additional 5 minutes or until sauce coats the back of a spoon. Adjust sauce to your liking, adding salt and additional seasonings. Remove bay leaf. Serve with rice and naan bread.

Crock pot: Omit saute oil, add all ingredients except coconut milk/ flour mixture and salt. Cook on low 6-8 hours or high 4-6 hours. You can lessen the cooking time if you need to as there is no meat. Move mixture to pot on the stove, bring to boil, add coconut/flour mixture. Boil 15 minutes or until the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Adjust sauce to your liking, adding salt and additional seasonings. Remove bay leaf. Serve with rice and naan bread.

Garnishes: Toasted coconut, cilantro, toasted fennel seeds, pomegranate seeds, saffron

Variations: You may add diced firm tofu,  goat, lamb or chicken in the beginning as you saute the onion. Continue with the recipe as normal.

Have fun adding whatever vegetables you like.You may also add cauliflower, diced squash, diced sweet potato, or carrots when you add the potato to the pan.

You may also whisk in 1/4 cup plain yogurt once removed from heat for additional creaminess.

For more of a tomato based sauce, omit tomato paste and substitute  small can of tomato sauce.

You may also add sliced almonds when you add coconut milk mixture.

I love Indian food but I don’t always love the price tag.

I completely understand the price because funding exotic ingredients can cost a pretty Rupee! My cravings for Indian food have led me to get creative and make my own. I’ve been nailing down a curry recipe for a while, balancing these flavors is completely new to me. It’s like learning a new language. I love that writing this food blog has increased my knowledge of web page design, food styling, and now Indian cuisine.

My tastes veer towards creamier Indian dishes, so my best friend coconut milk makes an appearance. I use hardly any cayenne pepper, so please feel free to tinker with the heat level as much as you like. This recipe really comes into its own the next day after the flavors have a chance to blend. If I were having company I would even consider making this the day before!

This recipe is wonderfully thrifty and versatile. You can use almost whatever you have on hand, make it vegan, paleo, and gluten free. Research has also shown a diet high in spices like turmeric to be incredibly healthy! I like to serve a side of basmati rice with a handful of golden rasins, saffron, and shredded coconut tossed in when cooking. For my paleo friends, go to your old standby cauliflower rice.

In Germany I absolutely could not find Garam Masala. Luckily, a thoughtful friend who travelled to the States brought me back a hefty spice jar full. I wish I had known Amazon carried this spice so affordably.

This recipe goes out to someone who has been my friend for 16 years! He requested and I am too happy to oblige. May this sustain you body and soul.

See my recipes on Pinterest!

Coconut Creamer Master Class

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Tools: Saucepan, spatula

Preparation time: About an hour for cooking coconut condensed milk

Ingredients:

1 can full fat coconut milk

1 cup milk of choice

1/2 cup vanilla sugar or regular sugar

Method:

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Liquid is 2/3 reduced and bubbles when ready.

Coconut Sweetened Condensed milk:

Cook full fat coconut milk and vanilla over medium heat, stirring until reduced by two thirds or until it coats the back of a spoon. This process takes anywhere from 45 minutes- 1 hour. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. (Some varieties of coconut milk may contain solids after cooking, a quick 5 seconds in a blender will resolve this and give you a nice frothy creamer.)

Add 1 cup milk, store in refrigerator (Mixture will thicken as it cools) and enjoy with coffee.

Variations:

Sweeteners: Use agave nectar, maple syrup, honey, whatever you like

Very Vanilla Creamer:  Add 2 turns from vanilla bean grinder or 1 split vanilla bean while cooking coconut milk. You could also add 1 tsp. vanilla extract added after mixture is removed from heat

Mounds creamer: Add 1 tbsp. cocoa powder to coconut milk while cooking on the stove

Very coconut creamer: Add 1 tsp. coconut extract once removed from heat

Thin mint creamer: Add 1 tbsp. cocoa powder while cooking coconut milk, add 1 tsp. mint extract once removed from heat

Samoa Creamer: Add 1 tbsp. cocoa powder when cooking coconut milk, add 1 tsp. coconut extract and 1 tsp. caramel extract (It’s vegan!) once removed from heat

Birthday Cake creamer: Add 1 tsp. butter extract once removed from heat. (Guess what? Also vegan!) Add sprinkles for some fun color (Optional) You can also add 1 tbsp. of yellow cake mix

Salted Caramel Creamer: Add 1 tsp. high quality salt while cooking coconut milk. Add 1 tsp caramel extract after removed from heat.

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Churro Creamer: Use honey to sweeten and add heaping tablespoon of cinnamon.

Oh, what a glorious morning! Oh, what a glorious day!

Thanks to sleep training I slept in my own bed for 9 hours. Do you know the last time that happened? Probably when I was pregnant. Well, maybe not. Pregnant sleep is not very high quality sleep. Try going to bed with a 15 pound beach ball strapped to your belly.  In light of getting actual sleep, I felt like my coffee needed something special. I used to love using sweetened condensed milk to make my own creamer. Guess what we can do now? The same thing with more control over ingredients. Please let me know if you feel extra naughty and try one of the fun variations. Don’t like coffee? I forgive you. Any one of these would be delicious drizzled over pound cake, ice cream, or fruit.

Two of my friends hail from different countries and have been giving me treats from home. (How do I keep this trend going?) The vanilla sugar here is from Germany. I love using this in baking, smoothies, and it was born to go with coffee. It’s sugar that has been stored with a split vanilla bean so it absorbs the amazing essence of vanilla. Guess what? You can get the real German vanilla sugar very affordably!

I love coffee- I’m a mom. It deserves a special place in my heart and in my bloodstream. I was telling one of my friends I wish we could drink coffee instead of water to hydrate our bodies. When I visited Italy our hotel provided us our own espresso pot, espresso coffee, and sugar. It was the only thing provided to the kitchen. I was the most energetic visitor the Vatican has ever seen. Drink up my friends!

See my recipes on Pinterest!

Southern Style Mac N’ Cheese

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Tools: Saucepan, oven proof baking dish, cooking spray

Preparation time: About 10 minutes

Ingredients:

2 cups pasta of choice, prepared according to package directions

2 tbsp. Spread/ butter of choice (plus more for breadcrumb topping)

2 tbsp. flour (See variations for gluten free method)

1-2 cups cheese of choice (Based on your tastes, I’m using Daiya Cheddar style shreds)

1/4 frozen mixed vegetables (optional)

1 tbsp. onion powder

1 teaspoon soy sauce (Or Coconut Aminos)

1 tsp dry mustard powder

1/8 teaspoon vinegar based hot sauce such as Tabasco

Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

1/3 cup panko bread crumbs for topping

1 cup milk of choice (If using dairy free, use unsweetened only. I’m using cashew milk)

Method:

Grease oven proof baking dish, preheat oven to 350 degrees/180 Celsius. Melt spread and add flour, stirring to combine. When flour appears to be fully combined with melted spread, add milk. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer. Add seasonings and cheese. Please taste and season accordingly- this sauce needs to be FULL of flavor for all those noodles!

Add frozen mixed vegetables, fold in pasta. Pour in prepared baking dish. Top with Panko bread crumbs and more pats of butter/ spread. Bake in oven until topping is golden brown and delicious- about 10-15 minutes.

Variations:

Gluten free: Use gluten free pasta of choice. Omit butter/spread/flour step. Combine milk, seasonings, and 2 tbsp. corn starch whisked into 2 tbsp. cold milk of choice. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer. Once sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, add your cheese, fold in pasta. Top with gluten free breadcrumbs (Or crushed gluten free crackers.) Dot with spread, bake.

Buffalo Chicken Mac N’ Cheese: Add 1 cup shredded chicken (Or vegan chicken substitute) and 1/3 cup buffalo sauce.

Carmelized Bacon and onion Mac N’ Cheese: Saute 1/2 diced onion in butter/spread until golden brown and caramelized. Add 2 slices crumbled bacon. Fold both in when you fold in cheese.

Gruyere and Onion Mac N’ Cheese: Saute 1/3 diced onion in butter/ spread until golden brown and caramelized. Fold in 1 cup shredded Gruyere instead of cheddar, continue with recipe as directed.

Pizza Mac N’ Cheese: Fold in 1/3 cup pizza/pasta sauce of choice and 1/4 cup diced pepperoni when adding cheese. Continue preparing as directed.

Let’s be honest: I hate the Proverbs 31 lady.

Every Bible study brings her up as a flawless example of a wife and a mother. Let’s read, shall we?

A wife of noble character who can find?
    She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
    and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
    and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
    and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
    for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
    she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
    where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
    and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.”

Proverbs 31: 10-30

I think if I had servants I could also laugh at the days to come! Tired from rocking baby at 3 in the morning? Ring a bell, in come one of your servants clothed in scarlet. Anytime this passage is brought up we all sit in reverence as it is read, nodding in quiet falsehood- thinking we have DONE enough or chastising ourselves for not DOING enough. I actually memorized this passage when I was looking for a Christian husband, thinking quoting it would impress the right kind of man.

You know how I met my husband? A dance class I took for myself doing what I LOVED. I thank God every day my own attempts at righteousness did not win me a husband. You know why? I am loved for who I am and I don’t ever have to keep up an act. Very much like why God loves us.

For fun, I thought I’d write what the modern Proverbs 31 woman would be like. This has been done many times, it’s not new. But it sure is fun!

“A wife that looks good in leggings who can find? She is worth far more than good hashtags. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of clean laundry. She brings him Pinterest worthy meals, not takeout, all the days of his life. She selects organic fruits and vegetables, and works to make her own yogurt. She is like the locally sourced restaurants, bringing food farm to table. She gets up while it is still Saturday morning to cook a healthy well balanced breakfast for her family.

She considers a home business and starts it, out of her earnings she buys homemade wooden toys from Etsy for her children. She sets about her workouts vigorously, her arms are strong for Crossfit. She sees that her home business is profitable, she lives on Starbucks so her lamp does not go out at night. In her hand she holds the Pinterest app and grasps the freshly folded laundry with her fingers. She opens her arms to the school Booster club and extends her hands to the Bake sales.

When it snows, she has no fear for her household, for all of them are clothed in matching artisanal flannel pajamas. She makes cloth diapers for her baby, she is clothed in Lularoe and Gywneth Paltrow’s workout gear.

Honor her for all her sleepless nights, and let her works bring her praise at the Mommy and Me group!”

I hope you understand this for the humorous take that it is. It is certainly valuable to work hard for your family and bring honor to your husband. I sincerely hope this doesn’t offend my home business ladies either, I love my Lularoe and good probiotics! On days like this, when my baby is not adhering to a sleep schedule, this all seems like too much! This is a day to bury my face into a dish of crispy topped Mac N’ Cheese. In case you aren’t feeling like cooking, here’s a Vegan Mac N’ Cheese in boxed version.

If you ever have a day like mine (I’m sure you won’t!) let this bring you some comfort. Please have fun with variations too! If you can think of anymore, post in the comments below. I’d love to see what you come up with!

See my recipes on Pinterest!

Antipasto Pizza Rolls

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Tools:

Baking sheet, cutting board, knife, spoon

Preparation time: about 5 minutes

Ingredients:

1 cup pizza dough or 1 tube crescent dough, cut into triangles

1/4 cup minced olives

4-5 slices pepperoni (optional)

1/4 cup minced Pepperoncini

1/4 cup tomato- based pasta sauce of choice

1/8 teaspoon seasoning salt, Italian seasoning

prepared balsamic reduction, for serving

Method: Combine ingredients except dough, drop by tablespoon full onto bottom of triangle, roll up. Bake according to dough directions. Serve with balsamic reduction. Feel fancy.

Variations:

Use gluten free pizza dough if necessary

I’ll be using whole wheat pizza dough when I make them from scratch

Endless. Use whatever you would enjoy on your pizza.

Bbq chicken pizza: Barbecue sauce and chicken

Bruschetta: fresh basil, tomatoes, and garlic

You’re an adult, it’s time to improve your pizza roll experience.

Honestly these look so fancy you could call these “Antipasto crescents” and people would be none the wiser. In my previous life (Dairy free,) it was always a treat to buy the bag of frozen pizza rolls. The dough was hard and the edges cut into the roof of my mouth. The filling was of the lowest quality. They were always so molten hot I burned the roof of my mouth. Still, there was something about them.

I’m feeling nostalgic today and certainly can’t have any filled with cheese. The greatest part of these? They’re so versatile. Fill with whatever you want on your pizza! The dough actually tastes good!

 Try this balsamic reduction if you can’t find it locally, it’s actually a better price than most places carry it for. What else can you eat this on? Grilled peaches. Grilled chicken. Ice cream. My own arm.

See my recipes on Pinterest!

Drunken Marinade

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Tools:

Dish that can go in the fridge. That’s all!

Preparation time:

About 1 minute, plus the time involved drinking leftover beer.

Ingredients:

1/4 cup beer of choice

1 tablespoon minced onion-dried or fresh

2 tablespoons ketchup

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons soy sauce

Method: Stir to combine. Marinade protein of choice in refrigerator, flipping halfway through (At least two hours to overnight.) Drink remaining beer.

Variations:

Gluten free: Use gluten free beer and soy sauce of choice.

Vegan: This marinade is Vegan as is, use a firm tofu, Seitan, or nice hefty mushroom caps would be delicious.

Soy free: Substitute Coconut Aminos for Soy Sauce

Glaze: If preferred, boil marinade down to a sticky consistency. Brush on in the last 2 minutes of grilling. This is wonderful if you are doing multiple proteins.

There is a world famous steak marinated with something very similar to this.

Often when I’m planning meals I ask myself, “If I could go to any restaurant in the world, what would I order?” Then I set out to make it a reality!

This is a knockoff of a marinade for a drunken Ribeye. Why stop there? Drunken chicken! Drunken tofu! Drunken Seitan! Drunken mushrooms! This really does taste good on anything.

My mother’s day has had many spoiling components. I was treated to dinner of my choice, a lunch of my choice, and was told I could cook any treat I like. Steak it is! I chose some beautiful New York Strips.

If you don’t have a grill like our poor souls, you’ll need a very good grill pan. It can give you beautiful grill marks (put food on very hot, pick up, rotate 45 degrees to get those beautiful diamond shaped grill marks.) A perk of using cast iron is the seasoning the pan gets! Click here for my pick, remember whatever you buy through that link gets me a small commission!

I’ve continued to be spoiled by three hour baby-less naps when my husband is off work. The gift of sleep! Could anything be better?

Maybe (Just maybe) A nice boozy steak.

See my recipes on Pinterest!