March 28, 2019

Lemon-Ginger Tea Quick Pickles




Ingredients:
3 "baby" cucumbers, sliced into 1/4 inch coins
2 1/4-inch thick lemon slices, halved
1/4 small red onion, sliced into thin half-moons
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon caraway seeds
2 bags Stash Tea Lemon Ginger Herbal Tea, divided use
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup white wine vinegar

Directions:

In a small bowl, toss together the cucumbers, lemon slices, onion, bay leaf, mustard seeds, caraway seeds and the contents of one Stash Tea Lemon Ginger tea bag. Place the mixture into 1 1-pint jar. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, place the remaining tea bag, salt, water, and vinegar. Bring to a rolling boil and whisk to dissolve the salt. Remove the tea bag. Pour over the vegetables in the jar. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 day prior to serving. Store, refrigerated up to 2 weeks.



My thoughts:
Stash Tea got in touch and wanted to know if I wanted to create a new dish for a blogger contest they were having. My husband loves tea so of course, I agreed. I wanted the challenge of creating something savory with tea and thought about it a long time before I came up with this. I had a lot of ideas but this one really stood out to me.

I love pickles and preserved things and often serve them as appetizers at parties. This pickle has a lovely floral aromatic flavor to it thanks to the Stash Tea Lemon Ginger Herbal Tea. The ginger gives just a hint of heat, the hibiscus a touch of sweetness and the lemon gives it a lively zing that is perfect for heading into spring. These pickles would be great on an Easter or Passover (if you do not keep strictly Kosher) spread or as part of a cheese board. You could even chop them up and put them in some egg salad!

Use the code COCONUTANDLIME-SC at check out for 10% off your order at Stash Tea.

Please follow Stash on social media: Facebook,  Twitter,  Instagram, and Pinterest. Check out the hashtags #stashtea #stashtearecipechallenge and #stashtearecipes for more cooking with tea inspiration.

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March 26, 2019

Sesame-Feta Chicken Salad



Ingredients:

2 cups cubed cooked chicken breast
handful Italian parsley, chopped
1 “baby” cucumber, diced
1/2 small red onion, diced
3 oz crumbled feta (tomato basil flavored if possible)
1 tablespoon nonpareil capers
2 teaspoons tahini
3-4 tablespoons mayonnaise
salt
freshly ground black pepper
zest of one lemon

Directions:

Place the chicken, parsley, cucumber, onion, feta, and capers in a large bowl. Toss to evenly distribute all ingredients. Set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the tahini, mayo, salt, pepper, and zest. Spoon over the chicken mixture and stir to combine. Serve immediately or refrigerate up to 48 hours.

Serving suggestion: I served this on lavash with sliced cherry tomatoes.



My thoughts:
I made a different sesame chicken salad 11 years ago(!!) using sesame oil and sesame seeds and haven't made it since for no real, good reason. I really liked the flavor of sesame in the chicken salad so I thought I'd try it again but this time using the sesame paste, tahini,  for the sesame flavor. I love the tahini/feta/caper combo so those were obvious add-ins and I chopped up some cucumber for crunch.

I really hadn't thought of sharing the recipe (I was trying to use up some rotisserie chicken from Costco) but it was so good, I have too! It was really satisfying a super flavorful. The flavors really complemented each other and the dish was easy to make but the final product seemed a lot more exciting than traditional chicken salad. Plus it's always good to have a use for tahini that isn't hummus or baba ghanoush!

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March 21, 2019

Marshmallow Lovers Rice Krispie Treats




Ingredients:
6 cup crisped rice cereal (aka Rice Krispies)
1 cup plain or multicolored mini dehydrated vanilla marshmallows*
6 tablespoons butter
2 10-oz bags mini marshmallows
1 teaspoon vanilla


Directions:

Butter a 9x13 inch pan. Set aside.

In a large bowl, toss together the cereal and dehydrated marshmallows. Set aside.

In a large, heavy-bottomed pan, melt the butter. Stir in 1 1/2 bags marshmallows and vanilla. Stir until they are fully melted. Turn the heat to the lowest setting. Stir in the cereal mixture. Remove from heat and stir in the remaining half bag of mini marshmallows. Immediately scrape into the prepared baking dish. Very gently, smooth it out so it is an even layer without pressing down and compressing the mixture. Allow to cool at room temperature until firm enough to cut into squares. Turn out the dish and cut into squares. Store at room temperature in an airtight container.



*I bought these in bulk at a farm stand/old fashioned candy store while on a road trip but they are also available on Amazon.



My thoughts:
Rice Krispie Treats, 1980s commercial aside, are one of the easiest desserts you can make yet still I find myself tweaking the recipe. The back of the box recipe is fine but they can be a little dense. A bakery near us makes huge, thick squares of Rice Krispies Treats that are very good, soft and marshmallow-y but cost roughly the same as a whole box of cereal for one treat. It was worth it to try once but I can't bring myself to keep buying them when they make a whole slew of delights I can't or won't make at home.

Thus began my quest to make an extra-marshmallow-y, extra soft treat. Not surprisingly, the trick is to add way more marshmallows than you'd think. Not only did I up the amount I melted by half, I also stirred in some more marshmallows at the very end so they don't fully melt and leave marshmallow pockets. This is twice as many marshmallows as the official recipe! Then I added even more marshmallows in the form of dehydrated marshmallows (don't worry, they soften up). The dehydrated marshmallows added a bit more flavor and texture to the bars. The whole thing came together to make one super marshmallow-y, very vanilla Rice Krispie Treat.




Note: I did use generic marshmallows and "crisped rice" cereal I purchased at Aldi for this recipe. I don't like Jet-Puffed marshmallows and I can't tell the difference when it comes to the cereal. The marshmallows are only 88¢ a bag and the box of cereal (I only used half!) was $ 1.29. You can't beat that.

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March 15, 2019

Dilled Roasted Vegetable Orzo Salad with Gorgonzola



Ingredients:

3/4 cup (dry) orzo
1 zucchini, cubed
1 Spanish black radish, cubed
6 oz crimini mushrooms, quartered
1/4 lb asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
olive oil
a sprinkle of jalapeno garlic seasoning (I use this but you can sub in ground jalapenos and granulated garlic)
freshly ground black pepper
salt
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 (loose) cup chopped dill
2 oz gorgonzola, crumbled




Directions:

Preheat oven to 350.

Cook orzo according to package instructions. Drain and allow to cool.

Line a baking sheet with parchment. Arrange the zucchini and radish in a single layer, drizzle with olive oil and seasonings. Roast for 20 minutes.

Add the mushrooms and asparagus to the pan, toss to mix. Roast for 15 minutes or until all vegetables are tender. Allow to cool.


Place the orzo, red onion, and roasted vegetables in a bowl. Toss with fresh lemon juice and olive oil to taste. Stir in fresh dill and gorgonzola. Serve immediately or refrigerate up to 24 hours.


My thoughts:
This is another recipe that helps bridge the seasons. Spicy Spanish black radishes are in season, asparagus is starting to make an appearance and mushrooms and zucchini are pretty delicious year round. The gorgonzola is almost gilding the lily but it adds so much flavor for such little effort, it's worth it. It's strong enough to stand up to the pungent black radish but doesn't overpower the more delicate flavors. The salad is a little on the hardy side but I think that is fitting when it still getting down near freezing at night. Excellent for a side dish or light vegetarian main dish.


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March 12, 2019

The Italian Club





Ingredients:
1 lb thinly sliced good quality  roasted turkey deli meat
1 lb thinly sliced lean capicola
1/3 lb imported smoked provolone
iceberg lettuce, sliced
3/4 lb crisp bacon strips
1/4 lb jarred roasted red peppers, drained
mayonnaise
12 pieces white toast

Directions:

Arrange 4 slices of toast on a platter or cutting board. Spread a thin layer of mayo if desired. Top with cheese, then turkey, capicola, bacon, lettuce then red pepper. Top with the second slice of toast and repeat. You may have leftover deli meat, don't feel like you have to overfill the sandwich. Top with a final slice of toast and cut each into 4 triangles, securing with long picks. Serve immediately.

Yield: 4 sandwiches

My thoughts:
We actually made this way back in January when we had our numbers themed NYE. Double decker sandwiches were an obvious choice for New Year's Day lunch. I took the picture and then it languished until today. 

The sandwiches were so good, I thought it was worth sharing. Everyone knows the typical club sandwich. A place near us makes excellent club sandwiches so there is no need to make one at home. The Italian club, on the other hand, is a different thing altogether. Okay, I admit I made it up but it's very good and worth a trip to the local Italian deli to pick up some capicola to make it yourself. Imported smoked provolone is so much more flavorful than the domestic stuff, it adds a lot of depth to the sandwich. Tomato season is months away so using roasted red tomatoes, another flavor found in Italian dishes, instead worked really well. Make sure you drain them carefully so they aren't too wet or they will make your sandwich soggy. 

The whole sandwich is just a delight to eat. a great mix of flavors and a fun twist on a classic.




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March 08, 2019

It's Almost Spring Minestrone




Ingredients:

2-3 stalks celery (with leaves), sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2-3 carrots, sliced into coins
1 medium purple-top turnip, cubed
2 zucchini, cubed
1 large Russet potato, cubed
1 cup diced green beans (about 1/3 lb)
15 oz can diced fire roasted tomatoes
15 oz can cannellini beans, drained
8 cups chicken or vegetable stock
salt
freshly ground black pepper
3-4 tablespoons pesto (homemade or jarred)
1 cup cooked ditalini pasta*
parmesan for sprinkling

Directions:

In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, saute the celery, garlic, onions, carrots, turnip, zucchini and potato until the onion is translucent. Add the tomatoes, green beans, beans, and stock. Simmer for 45 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Add salt and pepper. Stir in pesto. Divide into bowls, stir in a few tablespoons of noodles and top with a sprinkle of parmesan.


*I cook the pasta separately and store any leftovers in separate containers. If stored together, the pasta absorbs all the broth overnight and makes for a soggy mess. If you are planning to eat all of the soup at once, add the noodles to the pot, not each bowl.

My thoughts:

I've always liked minestrone soup. We ate a lot of Progresso minestrone for lunch when I was a kid and it's still one of my go-tos for when I need a quick lunch and don't have leftovers to heat up. I recreated that soup eight years ago and haven't thought of making minestrone myself since.

Then I was reading an Italian cookbook and they had a recipe for a vegetable soup with pesto swirled in. It seemed a lot lighter and less tomato heavy so I thought I'd try to make my own spin on minestrone using what's in season and available now.

It's that time in winter when there isn't much in season but you feel like something lighter and more vegetable packed. Turnips are always great this time of year, as are carrots and celery. Zucchini is one of those vegetables that I feel like are fine to eat in the winter even though they aren't in season. Unless it is some heirloom variety, the winter supermarket conventional zukes taste about the same as the homegrown. Tomatoes aren't in season but fire roasted canned ones add a ton of flavor. The pesto was an amazing shortcut to a ton of flavor in the soup. Why have I never done that before? What else can I put pesto in? I had this soup for three days in a row happily!

Serving idea: I had some leftover pesto so we mashed into 1/4 cup softened butter and ton of chopped garlic and some parmesan and spread it on crusty Italian bread to make pesto garlic bread. It only took about 10 minutes.






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March 05, 2019

Hot Cocoa Cookies





Ingredients:

2 cups flour
3/4 cup instant hot chocolate (cocoa) mix (I used this)
1 cup (unsalted) butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
10 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup vanilla dehydrated mini marshmallows*
pinch salt



Directions:



Preheat the oven to 350. Line 2-3 cookie sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment. In a large bowl, cream the butter, vanilla, and sugars for 5 minutes. Add the eggs, beat 5 minutes. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix until a very thick dough forms. Fold in the chips and marshmallows. Refrigerate, covered, 30 minutes.

Form cookies by dropping 1 heaping tablespoon of dough two inches apart. I used this scoop. sprinkle with additional marshmallows if desired.

Flatten slightly then bake until light brown, about 14-16 minutes. They may look slightly shiny in the middle but the bottoms and edges should be solid. Slide them out on the baking mat on to a cooling rack and allow them to cool 5 minutes on the baking mat/parchment on the wire rack before removing them to cool directly on the wire rack. Cool completely before serving.


*I bought a bulk bag of these at a large "old fashioned" candy store/produce market. I've oddly seen them a lot at Amish markets.

Yield: about 2 1/2-3 dozen cookies

My thoughts:
It may be March but it is still quite cold! Our house has a tendency to be cool (even at times, cold) on the first floor where we spend most of our time and then positively boiling in the second floor at night when the weather is cold but sunny. I've found the best way to avoid this is to bake something.

My husband bought me an industrial sized tub of Galaxy last year which was tasty but then he found a fancy super dark hot chocolate that I like more for straight drinking leaving me with a seriously overwhelming amount of hot chocolate mix in the house. I also had a bag of dehydrated marshmallows I picked up on a road trip so it seemed fated to make something hot chocolate inspired.

I strayed a bit from my usual chocolate chip cookie technique: I really beat the butter and eggs until they were smooth and quite soft and then I refrigerated the dough for half an hour. Since the marshmallows were dehydrated, I wanted to give them time and liquid to help them soften so it wouldn't be like eating crunchy bits of styrofoam.

The final cookie really does taste like hot chocolate (or cocoa!) in cookie form! There is a very creamy chocolate taste in the cookie, punctuated by the dark chocolate chips and the texture is slightly chewy from the marshmallows.

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