What I Miss & Perfect Pairs

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Yesterday was William’s 29th birthday. Cheers to my boy. His birth was truly one of the best days of my life. Missing him more than I can express I celebrate him in the best way I can. In the garden planting seeds and in the kitchen creating a few recipes inspired by him he continues to be a bright light in my heart. I’m thankful for my hobbies and my passion to want to learn and try new things. Getting through tough times? It’s all about the distraction. Cooking, baking and gardening do it for me. How do you do it?

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I have been practicing my food photography with a new camera and have already received some very exciting feedback from some recipe/food sponsors. Can’t reveal what that is right now, but it sure made me feel good about trying something new and difficult. These days’ recipe contests require quite a bit of work. I miss the old days when all I had to do was create a recipe, write it down and mail it in. Now, in addition to preparing an original recipe, I am required to be a food stylist, food photographer and a creative writer. My poor husband. He knows he is not allowed to eat anything in the house until I have photographed it…on many a day we eat the food cold.

Probably one of the more wonderful things that have been on my plate lately is teaching two really smart and joyful young ladies, ages 11 & 9 how to cook. Sharing what I know about cooking and baking with the younger generation is quite fun and exciting. We are cooking our way around the globe and just finishing up Mexico with a Mango Tres Leches Cake. I think I was channeling my favorite teachers of Mexican cuisine Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken of Too Hot Tamales. I miss those cooking shows that really taught me and helped build my knowledge in the kitchen.

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Mango Tres Leches “Celebration” Cake is perfect for a birthday or Cinco de Mayo

Are there any famous chefs that you have learned from and would like to meet? Wouldn’t it be great fun to travel  to the 2017 Vegas Uncork’d Expo food & wine event happening next week? Take a look at that celebrity chef schedule. Famous chefs like Gordon Ramsay and Giada de Laurentiis will be preparing their dishes alongside perfectly paired cocktails. There are a few I would love to learn from, but if I could only pick one my heart still belongs to Mary Sue & Susan as they opened up a whole new world of Mexican cuisine and especially cheeses to me.

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queso fresco on scrambled eggs makes a perfect pair

Speaking of cheese and back in my own kitchen I have been working on some new recipes for grilled cheese sandwiches. After a hard day in the garden cooking up something like a grilled cheese and dining out al fresco on the deck is an easy and delicious way to end the day. Heading into the warmer weather we often enjoy a cool glass of rosé wine with a grilled cheese sandwich. It’s a rustic perfect pairing, but who says wine has to be fancy? Rosé matches quite well with just about any cheese and bread. It’s not as elaborate as some famous celebrity chef dishes, but it works.

Cheers!

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Here is one of my winning cheese sandwiches from yesteryear. The salty bacon and olives with the sweetness of fruit, peppery arugula and luscious burrata pairs perfectly with a glass of Rosé.

Burrata & Bacon Ciabatta, Oh My

3 slices thick cut bacon

¼ cup apricot jam

1 (4-inch) ciabatta roll, toasted

2 tablespoons Mezzetta Napa Valley Bistro Homemade Style Basil Pesto

¼ cup arugula leaves

2 Mezzetta Sweet Cherry Peppers, seeded, diced

1-ounce burrata cheese (1/2 of a 2 ounce ball)

1 ripe apricot, sliced

4 pieces Mezzetta Sliced Greek Kalamata Olives, chopped

1-teaspoon balsamic vinegar syrup

Heat oven 400F. Line bottom of broiler pan with foil. Coat both sides of bacon with jam; place on broiler pan rack set over foil-lined bottom. Bake 30 minutes; transfer bacon to a plate. Spread bottom half of roll with pesto. Layer with arugula, cherry peppers, bacon, burrata, apricots and olives. Drizzle with balsamic. Cover with remaining bread slice.

 

 

Warm & Wild Blueberry Smoothie Latte

By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by the Wild Blueberry Association of North America and I am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

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Baby it’s cold outside! Get out the warm wool sweaters, favorite fleece lined boots and the blender. Blender? Yes, I said blender because we are making smoothies. Believe it or not winter is one of the most popular times of the year for smoothie making because it fits right in with those healthy new year resolutions. Smoothies are the easy way to pack more nutrition into your diet.

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Now let’s talk about wild blueberries.

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Wild blueberries are little purple powerhouses of nutrition. Grown in barrens across Maine and Canada wild blueberries are quite different from those that are planted or cultivated.  Wild blueberries have grown naturally under harsh conditions for 10,000 years, so they have adapted with more than 2x the antioxidants and fiber of cultivated blueberries. Frozen at harvest to lock in the goodness studies show that they may help prevent the onset of cancer, heart disease, alzheimer’s and diabetes.  With a well balanced sweet-tart flavor just about everything pairs well with these super fruits in a smoothie.

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Webster’s dictionary defines a smoothie as “a creamy beverage made of fruit blended with juice, milk, or yogurt.” Much to my delight it doesn’t seem like I am breaking any smoothie rules by going warm instead of cold because did you hear me earlier? It’s freezing outside here in Pennsylvania and I can use all the antioxidants I can get to boost my immune system. Fighting off a cold or the flu? I have a smoothie for you!

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and yes, I really did accidentally spill all that froth all over the counter

Infused with green tea, pomegranate and warm revitalizing cleansing spices this deliciously wild blueberry smoothie will certainly cure your winter blues.

Warm & Wild Blueberry Smoothie Latte

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 cup frozen wild blueberries

1 ½ tablespoons real maple syrup

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

1 cup water

2 green tea with pomegranate tea bags

1/2 cup milk (or almond milk)

Place blueberries and 1 tablespoon of maple syrup in blender. In small bowl, combine cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, nutmeg and allspice; stir to blend spices. In small saucepan, bring water to a boil. Remove from heat. Add tea bags and ¼ teaspoon of spice mixture; stir and let steep for 4 minutes. Meanwhile, heat milk with remaining ½ tablespoon of maple syrup and 1/8 teaspoon of spice mixture just to a simmer, stirring to combine. Stir and strain hot tea mixture into blender with blueberries. Add ¼ cup of the hot milk mixture; blend well. Re-warm mixture in pan on stove to desired temperature. Froth the remaining milk mixture with an immersion blender or tool specially designed for frothing milk. Divide the hot tea mixture among two mugs and top with frothy milk. Sprinkle with additional blueberries and spice mixture, if desired. Serve warm. 


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wish you could see my wild blueberry smoothie latte mustache right now

Frozen wild blueberries are available all year long.Click this link to find a store near you: grocery store. Click here if you would like to try my Easy as A-B-C Wild Blueberry Smoothie

 

Easy as A-B-C Wild Blueberry Smoothie

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By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by the Wild Blueberry Association of North America and I am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

Keeping a new year resolution to eat healthy has never been easier. Start with one simple idea liking eating real food instead of something processed. Just look around your kitchen. I bet you have a whole assortment of fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables ready for a quick smoothie buzz in the blender. What I especially love about smoothies is that they can be completely customized to your own taste. Right now I’m loving experimenting with wild blueberries. Sipped through a straw or eaten out of a bowl with an assortment of toppings wild blueberry smoothies bring us one step closer to a healthier lifestyle.

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Food trend predictions for 2017 will have you adding some rather unusual ingredients to your smoothie. How about charcoal or Peruvian maca powder? Ah-no thanks. Then there is blue-green algae, sorry, but not happening here. Lastly, and this one really blows my skeptic mind is something known as an “adaptogen” (is that a real word?) called ashwagandha….I can’t even. Just give me some real food like wild blueberries!

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And in case you did not know wild blueberries are quite different from cultivated blueberries. Wild blueberries are not planted, but occur naturally in fields in Maine and Canada. Smaller in size they have twice the antioxidants of regular blueberries and are more intensely flavored. They have a nice balance of sweet-tart and those flavors and nutrients are locked in at harvest when they are individually quick frozen (IQF). Find them in the frozen food section of the grocery store.

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My friend Marcie reminds me that something homemade is always good for the heart and soul. 

Back to easy! Open your fridge, check your pantry and grab some wild blueberries from the freezer. You will have everything you need to put together a super food delicious and jam-packed naturally nutritious smoothie. Not to mention you will save a ton of money not buying supplements created in some laboratory.  This A-B-C (apple, basil, Cinnamon) wild blueberry smoothie came together in a few minutes with what I had on hand today in my kitchen. Notice the subtle changing layers of flavors as you sip down to the delicious last drop. Your belly says, “thank you”!

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Easy as A-B-C Wild Blueberry Smoothie

¾ cup frozen Maine wild blueberries plus additional for garnish

1 (5.3 oz) container Greek nonfat blueberry yogurt

½ large red apple, quartered (do not peel)

4 large fresh basil leaves plus a sprig for garnish

1 tablespoon honey

1/8-teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 small frozen banana

2 tablespoons plain Greek nonfat yogurt

1 (5.3 oz) container Greek nonfat coconut cream yogurt

2 ice cubes

In high-powered blender combine blueberries, blueberry yogurt, apple, basil, honey and cinnamon until smooth. Measure out ½ cup and divide between two serving glasses. Add banana and plain yogurt to remaining mixture in blender; blend until smooth. Top off glasses evenly using just half of the blueberry-banana mixture. Add half of the coconut cream yogurt and the ice cubes to the remaining mixture in the blender; blend until smooth. Divide evenly between glasses. Spoon or pipe remaining coconut cream yogurt on top. Sprinkle with wild blueberries. Garnish with basil sprig. Makes 2 servings.

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