Respect Your ElderBerries

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Retirement? What’s that? I have never been so busy in my life. On any given day I am cooking/baking up a storm, baby-sitting my grand-daughter, tending the garden and traveling here or there. I am not complaining, but here is the thing. While my mind still thinks I am 30, the body knows I am double that number. I get a bit tired a bit quicker, but that is not going to stop me. While I always taught my children to respect their elders I just can’t believe I am that person now. I will do whatever it takes to stay healthy, vibrant and energetic because I have a sweet grand-daughter who is no longer walking, but running. “Wait for Kiki Annabelle”!

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Enter elderberries. Recently, I was gifted some elderberry products from Ann & Rodger Lenhardt of Norm’s Farms. The information on the web site is fascinating. I didn’t know much about elderberries, but in my research learned that Hippocrates (ancient Greek father of medicine) referred to “elders” as his “medicine chest”. High in vitamin C, iron, antioxidants and potassium elderberries outshine all those other “super fruits” that seem to have gotten lots of press lately. Not only are the berries nutritious, but they are delicious and come in a variety of supplements, syrups and jams to boost your immune system and good health.

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I very much enjoyed developing a few recipes with Norm’s Farms products. First up is a very simple appetizer (great for those outdoor deck parties y’all are throwing right now) using the most sweet and savory Elderberry Ginger Pecan Jam. I love the crunch contrast of the pecans mixed in with the fruit. Next Thanksgiving skip the cranberry sauce and serve this jam with your roast turkey. You heard it here first.

Crispy Melted Cheese Cups with Elderberry Ginger Pecan Jam

2 ounces cream cheese, softened

½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1-package (15 count) mini fillo shells

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Norm’s Farms Elderberry Ginger Pecan Jam

Heat oven 350F. Mix cream cheese, cheddar cheese and pepper until well blended. Remove shells from all packaging. Fill shells with cheese mixture and place on a baking sheet. Bake 8 minutes. Remove tray from oven and top each with a small spoonful of jam. Return to oven and bake 1 to 2 more minutes or until heated through. Makes 15 small bites.

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The next recipe uses Norm’s Farms Blueberry Elderberry Preserves. While developing a dessert recipe would have been the obvious choice I decided on another savory one. Plus this vinaigrette does double duty as a salad dressing and marinade taking full advantage of all the greens in my garden and the grill. After all, the weather is so fine right now I’m betting you’d rather be outside enjoying yourself rather than stuck in the kitchen.

Blueberry Elderberry Vinaigrette & Marinade

¼ cup Norm’s Farms Blueberry Elderberry Preserves

¼ cup canola oil

¼ cup fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar

2 tablespoons soy sauce (regular or low-sodium)

2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

Whisk all ingredients until well blended. Drizzle over your favorite salad as a vinaigrette or use as a marinade on fresh chicken and/or pork. I like to marinade meat overnight and grill the next day.

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Norm’s Farms products are sold in many stores across the USA and can also be ordered directly from their web site. Click on the link, Norm’s Farms for more great recipes, too. Enjoy.

Why-Elderberry

elderberries from Norm’s Farm

Super Bowl’s Best Appetizers

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Super Bowl parties are on the horizon. Planning one is never easier. Finger foods and dip recipes are in order. I bet you have the hot wings covered, so lets move into the end zone with some more winning ideas.

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Seriously, it’s not a party unless there is dip. Right? Here is my spicy new spin on the Middle Eastern chickpea puree known as hummus. It takes all of 5 minutes to make in the food processor and really tastes even better if made a day in advance. It can be served with the classic pita chips or if you want to get extra healthy and fancy serve it as a finger food stuffed into those cute little mini peppers. Using the harissa avocado mayo from one of my favorite brands, Chosen Foods, eliminates the need for several other ingredients like oil and spices.

Harissa Hummus

1 clove garlic

1 (15 oz.) can chick peas (garbanzo beans), drained, liquid reserved (aka: aquafaba)

¼ cup Chosen Foods Harissa avocado oil mayo

¼ cup plain Greek yogurt

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

3 tablespoons sesame tahini

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

With food processor fitted with metal blade and running, drop garlic through the feed tube. When garlic is finely chopped turn off machine. Add chick peas; process about 30 seconds or until coarsely chopped. Add remaining ingredients including 1 tablespoon of reserved aquafaba. Process mixture until smooth scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add additional aquafaba to thin mixture to desired dip consistency. Stored covered in refrigerator. 

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Since we all need balance on the field and on the table let’s go from super delicious healthy to super delicious decadence. Let’s face it. Decadence makes us happy. You need this in case your favorite team failed to make the play-offs, so dig in and enjoy yourself.

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Can you say Touchdown! These crispy chili beef spring rolls will have your friends coming over whether they like to watch football or not. Make a batch of your favorite chili. Enjoy some for dinner and set a cup or two aside to cool overnight in the fridge in preparation of these hand-held delights. I love this chili recipe from certified angus beef.

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Spring roll shells (NOT egg roll wrappers) are a must for a light crispy texture. Do you fear deep-frying? If so, the rolls can be shallow fried just by turning them to insure an even golden brown on all sides. Remember to roll them tightly and seal them well to keep all the beef chili goodness inside.

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Crispy Beef Chili Spring Rolls

Make at least 2 per person. For each spring roll you will need:

  • 1 spring roll shell
  • 1 tablespoon shredded pepper jack cheese
  • 2 tablespoons cold beef chili
  • vegetable or peanut oil for frying

Lay spring roll shell down on flat surface with a point towards you. Follow photo below for spooning cheese and chili on top. Fold point over filling and roll tightly sealing ends and sides with a bit of water. Heat oil to 350F. Fry until golden on all sides, about 2 minutes. Serve with your favorite salsa, sour cream, and guacamole for dipping. 

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See how super thin they are compared to egg roll wrappers?

When Two Friends Collide It’s An Easy Party Pate

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When my friend Steven came to visit I asked him if he had any great recipes using garbanzo beans. I explained that another friend had sent a can of beans to show off the new transparent packaging and in exchange I’d post a holiday recipe.

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This smoked trout dip is easy to make with a full smokey flavor balanced by the lemon and dill. It’s smooth and spreadable and goes well with crostini or a crisp plain cracker. I hope you all enjoy it.

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Smoked Trout Pate

1 (8 oz.) package smoked trout, skin removed

½ can (15 oz) Glory Garbanzo Beans plus 1 ½ tablespoons liquid

1 tablespoon heavy cream

2 cloves garlic, smashed

1 tablespoon chopped shallot

1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill

1 to 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon lime juice

¼ teaspoon smoked paprika

salt and pepper to taste

olive oil

Combine all ingredients except one teaspoon lemon juice in food processor. Process until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning with remaining lemon juice, salt and pepper. Spoon into serving bowl. Drizzle top with a little olive oil. Garnish with fresh herbs. Serve with toast or crackers.

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