Sunday, July 27, 2014

Strawberry Lemonade



Nothing is much better than real lemonade during the hot summer months.

I've always liked lemonade.

My first memory of lemonade is with my grandpa.

He liked the powdered mix, Country Time Lemonade.

I remember buying it with him and mixing it up and having a nice cold glass to drink.

That was all I used to drink, because I didn't know any different.

Then, I discovered making my own.

From scratch.

Some lemon juice.

Some simple syrup.

And just a bit of water to make it right.

My girl cherub has always been a lemon fan.

I think that's my fault.

When I was pregnant with her, I craved lemons.

The Mr. would buy a bag of lemons to keep in the refrigerator for me.

I'd cut them into wedges and sprinkle a little salt on them and indulge.

My entire pregnancy!

She can do the very same thing, even now.

Matter of fact, the Mr. has to tell her to stop eating lemons!

I'm to blame.

Put her love of lemons together with her love of cooking and she made this recipe this week.

Strawberry Lemonade

12 lemons, juiced (to equal 2 cups) and zest from the lemons
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
1-14 oz bag frozen strawberries, thawed
zest of 3 lemons, optional

Place the sugar and water in a sauce pan and heat until the sugar is completely dissolved.  You do not necessarily need to boil the mixture. Once the sugar is dissolved, remove from the heat and zest 3 lemons into the simple syrup. Cool.

Meantime, while the sugar is melting, juice the lemons, to yield 2 cups.  Remove the seeds; pulp is ok, if you like pulp.

Puree the thawed strawberries until smooth.

In a pitcher, pour the lemon juice, lemon zest simple syrup and the pureed strawberries.  Add 1-2 cups of water, or until the desired dilution/taste is reached.  (She added about 1 1/2 cups of water, as we prefer a stronger lemonade).

Stir before serving and serve over ice.

Refrigerate unused portion.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Red Chili Enchilada Sauce

We love Mexican food.

Admittedly.

We have a terrible crush on chips, salsa, pulled chicken tacos, and most other Mexican-style food.

One thing, though, that nobody in our family really cares for is the red chili enchilada sauce.

Give us green.

Or sour cream.

Or even cheese.

But not red.

So think me crazy when I thought that I'd make enchiladas for dinner using . . .RED enchilada sauce.

If I didn't know better, I'd think I was having pregnancy cravings.

Because that's what was happening!

I was honestly CRAVING red enchilada sauce.

Of course, though, I didn't have any of the canned stuff.

I don't buy it.

But even if I did buy it, I wouldn't have it anyways.

Because that's the law of returning home from being out of town.

Whatever you need or want when you return from being out of town,

you don't have.

Period.

You have to go to the store.

But I wasn't going to the store,

because I didn't want to.

Plus, I don't even like what I was wanting to fix.

That crazy thinking, which I was completely aware of, led me to look for a recipe on the internet.

Everything is on the internet!

My thinking is that red enchilada sauce can't be hard to make!

Guess what!

I was right!

Twice!

There were recipes for a homemade version AND it's not hard to make.

Matter of fact, I didn't tell my family what I had made and the first thing out of the boy cherub's mouth . . .
"Mom, this is really good!"

There you go!  Another satisfied customer!

Red Chili Enchilada Sauce
(Modified from "Gimme some Oven")

2 TBSP vegetable or canola oil
2 TBSP  gluten-free flour mix (or you could use regular)
3 TBSP chili powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cumin
1 can  chicken stock
2 TBSP water
Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add flour and stir together over the heat creating a roux and "cooking" the flour so that it doesn't have a flour taste, 2-4 minutes, being careful not to burn the mixture. Stir in the next 4  seasonings, making a paste.   Gradually, add in the stock, whisking constantly to remove lumps.
Reduce heat and simmer 15-20 minutes, stirring occassionaly, until thick. It will thicken, but it does take time; be patient with it!  If you wish for a thinner consistency, add a bit more water or stock, but do this a little at a time so that you don't end up with runny chili sauce.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Vanilla Sugar Cookie Chex Mix



I'm really not sure why . . .

but I love chex mix.

I like different kinds of chex mix.

Sure, the standard savory recipe is fine,

but I'm talking all the new-fandangled choices!

It's kind of crazy what flavor concoctions can be created!

Several weeks ago, I whipped this chex mix up

and in a matter of hours we had devoured it.

But if you do the math, you would realize that's not too hard to do!

6 cups of cereal.

4 people.

That equals 1 and 1/2 cups of cereal per person.

Over the course of the day, it's easy to consume that little of cereal.

Especially when it's covered with white chocolate.

And sugar.

Here, try it for yourself and see how long it lasts at your house!

Vanilla Sugar Cookie Chex Mix
(Recipe is from Chex.com)

6 cups Rice Chex™ cereal
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 TBSP corn syrup
2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 oz white baking chocolate or 1/4 cup vanilla milk chips
Measure cereal in large microwaveable bowl. Line a cookie sheet with a silicone baking sheet, waxed paper or foil.
In 2-cup microwavable measuring cup, microwave butter uncovered on High 30 seconds or until melted. Add sugar and corn syrup; microwave uncovered on High 30 seconds until mixture is heated and can be stirred smooth. Stir in vanilla.
Pour over cereal, stirring until evenly coated.
Microwave coated cereal, uncovered, on High 2 minutes, stirring after1 minute. Sprinkle with powdered sugar; mix well.
Spread on lined cookie sheet to dry.
Microwave white chocolate on High 30 seconds or until it can be stirred smooth; drizzle over top. 
Allow the chocolate to set and chex mix to dry before indulging . . . or at least try! 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Mixed Nut Butter



I've been making almond butter for the Mr. some time now.

I used to make it in my (very) old food processor.

Matter of fact, my dad bought the food processor for me before I ever got married . . .

from a garage sale!

So I know it's at least 20 years old,

but probably older!

I bet when my dad did that he had no idea I'd still be using it!

That's money well spent, huh?

Recently, thought, the Mr. saw a "suggestion" to make mixed nut butter.

There you go;

enough said!
I've already made him two different kinds recently.

Regardless of your preference, I don't think you can go wrong!

The first I made was a combination of
  • walnut and pecan
Now, I've made a mix of
  • cashew and walnut
Next will be
  • pecan and almond
I think.

It's so easy.

Follow the general directions from the post about making almond butter:

http://karen-proverbs31.blogspot.com/2012/01/almond-butter.html

There's a bit of difference, but only slight, when you start working with other kinds of nuts because the oil  in the nuts can differ.

However, it's not enough to worry about.

Once you get it blended to the consistency that you prefer, you have it right!
Again, I only use nuts.

No oil.

No salt.

No nothing.

I do like to lightly toast the almonds, pecans, and walnuts and cool completely before turning them into butter.

The cashews, however, I did not.

Just dumped them right in!

Delish!

Mixed Nut Butter

1 cup of one nut
1 cup of another nut

Using the blade attachment, pour about 2 cups of roasted and cooled nuts in the container.

Attach the lid and turn the processor on high. 

My processor was able to make the almond butter without over-heating.  You will have to do what's best for your machine not to over heat, stop working, and possibly catch fire.  (OK, the catch fire part was just for a small chuckle.  But really, if your food processor can't work continuously, you'll have to stop and start this process.  It won't change the end product, it'll just take longer.)

Allow the almonds to be processed through the following stages:
  • dry nut meal
  • moist nut meal
  • it will finally clump together in a ball
At this point, you might become concerned.

Don't!

Basically, the steps are now going to be worked through backwards, which is going to result in a terrific almond butter.
  • the ball of butter will now, S.L.O.W.L.Y begin to redistribute
  • you'll get anxious and want to add the oil.
Don't!

Be patient!

  • Slowly, little by little, the oils begin to be fully released from the nuts and you'll begin to see the fruits nuts of your labor!
You'll have nut butter!

Smooth, creamy, and delicious!

Once the processor has done it's job, you may want your nut butter to be just a bit thinner.  If that's the case, slowly add the 1 tsp. of oil into the butter, with the processor on so that it's well incorporated.

Spoon your delicious treat into a container or jar.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

My Boy Cherub's Journey



It's been a journey this year for my boy cherub.

He has handled it well, but together, as a family, we are figuring things out.

It all started with his 15 year check up.

I received a small reprimand from his pediatrician that the previous year I didn't take him for blood work . . .

you know, just to get the base-line established and make sure things were well.

Here's the deal -- I need one-stop-shop when it comes to doctors!

If there's nothing wrong, then the "go get this done" thing doesn't usually get done.

It's not that I try to forget . . .

there's just nothing wrong to make me remember to get it done!

But this year, when an in-office test came back with out of whack result, I was quick to obey the doctor's request to follow up with blood work.

The short version, which included many blood draws and several months;

my boy cherub was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease.

The blessing:  he was minimally affected and he has gotten his medicine worked out and he's doing well.

That was until Spring Break.

Then things turned again.

He began getting very sick, loosing a significant amount of weight very quickly, and nothing was working.

No medicine cured, no test was conclusive, no diet made him feel better, no amount of rest or time was giving him healing or relief.

A little more than 2 months of this; a referral to another specialist;

an endoscopy test and a genetic blood test, and more days of being sick and loosing weight,

we finally had answers.

Another auto-immune disease.

It is not uncommon for these two to go together;

kind of like peanut butter and jelly!

The day we left the doctor's office,

with the advise from the doctor that said, "you either do it all in or don't do it at all"

was the day my boy cherub started getting better.

He received instant relief!

He is gluten free.

Not by choice.

But for health.

We have been on a journey.

A journey to both understand how to maintain his health as well as to understand what, exactly, makes this disease unique.

It is life long.

The only cure is through diet.

We are thankful.

Thankful that it is "only" this.

Thankful that this new diagnosis can be controlled without medicine.

Thankful that even though his body attacks itself, he can lead an active life.

The day he went gluten free, is the day I did too.

The Mr. and my girl cherub, they made the commitment to finish the gluten-filled food that was at home.

That's taken more time than I realized!

But they have almost accomplished the task!

They're achievers!

Once that's done, our home will be gluten free.

To be fair to my boy cherub, but more than that,

to support him.

That's what family does.

While I'm not saying this is a "gluten free" blog, most of my recipes will be reflective of how we are eating these days.

If you're not gluten free, I've tried to make the "regular" substitutions suggestions for you, especially if it is a baked good.  Most of the time, it should work to make it gluten-filled!  But occasionally, it may not . . . welcome to my world! 

We have found great tasting recipes that fit my boy cherub's needs.

Even if you're not gluten free as a life style, I do hope you'll continue to try the recipes and bring a little (gluten free) gourmet into your day!