Thursday, January 30, 2014

Blood Orange Mint Gin Cocktail : Five O'Clock Friday

Chinese New Year, Groundhog's Day and the Superbowl - all within the 72 hours of this weekend.  Three reasons for a seasonal refreshing cocktail and not to wait until five o'clock.


Happy New Year, Think Spring & Go Team!



Blood Orange Mint Gin Cocktail  


1/4 cup fresh blood orange juice
1 1/2 oz. (3 Tbsp.) gin
1 Tbsp. mint infused simple syrup*
1/2 cup club soda

Stir to combine all ingredients, serve over ice.

Makes 1 cocktail

*To make mint infused simple syrup: In small saucepan bring 1 cup water & 1 cup granulated sugar to a boil. Remove from heat, add 6 springs fresh mint. Let cool completely.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Thai Vegetable Salad with Coconut Peanut Dressing

Surrounded by empty trees and winter white, a burst of color would be good for the soul 

(and my waist line)

For the Salad

1 cup shredded red or green cabbage
1 cup shredded iceberg lettuce 
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
1 cup thinly sliced or julienne daikon 
1 large carrot, peeled into ribbons
2 green onions, thinly sliced 
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
1/4 cup thinly sliced mint leaves
3 green onions, sliced

In a large bowl, toss all ingredients in a large bowl. Top with desired amount of dressing just before serving.

For the Dressing: 

Yield:  2 1/2 Cups

1 7-oz. jar sweet chili sauce
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup peanut butter
4 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
1 1/2 Tbsp soy sauce (gluten free please)
1/2 Tsp. Siracha sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
2 green onions, thinly sauced  juice of 1 lime (about 2 1/2 Tbsp.)

Combine all ingredients in food processor or blender. Pulse until smooth and well combined. 

Friday, January 17, 2014

A Wine Tip From A Lady Who Loves Wine : Five O'Clock Friday

"When dining out, always ask to have your your wine served in a brandy snifter - they will be more likely to over-pour and it's just more fun!" - Grandma J.


Friday, January 10, 2014

Cranberry Sauce Cosmo: It's Almost Five O'Clock Friday

It's been said a women become their mother at age 31 or when they have their first child. I would say at this age I've just come to appreciate her hot rollers, taste for a good cocktail and use for leftovers. Perhaps this is one of my finest recipes developed over this holiday season.

Cranberry Sauce Cosmo

In a cocktail shaker or Mason Jar filled with ice combine:

1/4 cup leftover whole-berry cranberry sauce
1/4 cup vodka
3 Tbsp. simple syrup*
1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice

Shake, strain and serve in martini glass.


* Equal parts sugar and water, heated until dissolved 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Polar Vortex Bean Soup

Just a good excuse to stay inside and keep warm by the stove when the temperature outside is is -2

Soak Time: 24-48 hours
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 4 1/2 hours
Yield: Enough soup to last until Groundhog's Days 

1 29-oz. package dried bean soup (such as Bob's Red Mill 13 Bean Soup Mix)
3 Tbsp. olive oil 
3 medium onions, diced (about 4 cups)
4 medium carrots, diced (about 2 1/2 cups)
4 ribs celery, diced (about 2 1/2 cups)
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped 
2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 cup white wine
3 quarts chicken stock
1 cured and smoked pork knuckle (see below)
2 fresh bay leaves
3 springs thyme
1 sprig rosemary
6 springs parsley, leaves removed and set aside

When the warnings of a potential winter storm or polar vortex begin scrolling across the television or 24-48 hours before beginning to cook, soak beans in warm water. Place beans in large pot and cover with water. Change water every 4-5 hours (except while sleeping) and add 1/4 tsp. baking soda to water if cooking with 'hard water.'*

Drain and rinse beans, set aside. In a large - really large, soup pot heat oil over medium high heat. Add onions, carrots, celery, garlic, salt and pepper, saute 4-5 minutes until vegetables have soften.  Stir in white wine and reduce, about 2 minutes. Add beans, chicken stock and pork knuckle to pot.

Create a modified bouquet garni. Using butchers twine, tie together bay leaves,  thyme, rosemary and parsley stems. Place herbs in soup, bring all ingredients to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer until beans are tender, about 4 hours.

To serve: remove herbs and pork knuckles. Place 2 cups of soup in food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Return puree to soup and heat through. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in reserved parsley leaves and serve with a drizzle of olive oil.

*Hard water, huh? - Have trouble lathering up the suds when washing? Chances are the water contains mineral salts that interfere with the formation suds - thus creating 'hard water.' (source)


Tips for Better Bean Digestion: 

* Soak for at least 48 hours
* Soak in warm Alkaline water (120 - 148°F is optimal)
* Change water often
* Don't rush - cooking long and slow, allowing more time for the hard to digest fibers to break down

Still have beans on the brain? Check out THIS Foodie-Geek friendly article


A Prized Pork Knuckle - an often overlooked delicious part of the pig

Monday, January 6, 2014

Always exciting to discover something new in the grocery store, or is it?

#CandiedSweetDillPickleStrips #InTheNameOfCulinaryResearch #WTF??? #PassThePepto

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Holiday Construction - The secret is in the icing

After years of trials, errors, and tears, gingerbread house success was no longer an elusive holiday dream.  The summer of 1995, when other 13 year old kids were hanging out at the pool or the baseball field, I joyfully stayed inside baking cakes to bring to a Wilton decorating class at the local Jo~Ann Fabrics. Despite my certificate of completion, I've yet to create those perfect grocery store bakery roses but the 'Wilton Way' did introduce royal icing to my repertoire and forever changed my gingerbread house game. Whether it's homemade gingerbread cookies or the classic graham crackers, a batch of the royal icing 'super glue' will have those walls standing in no time.

Wilton's Royal Icing from 

Makes:About 3 cups of icing.
Step 1 Beat all ingredients until icing forms peaks (7-10 minutes at low speed with a heavy-duty mixer, 10-12 minutes at high speed with a hand-held mixer).
Step 2 NOTE: Keep all utensils completely grease-free for proper icing consistency.
* For stiffer icing, use 1 tablespoon less water.

**When using large countertop mixer or for stiffer icing, use 1 tablespoon less water.
Thinned Royal Icing: To thin for pouring, add 1 teaspoon water per cup of royal icing. Use grease-free spoon or spatula to stir slowly. Add 1/2 teaspoon water at a time until you reach proper consistency.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Day 24 - I think?? Starting to lose track

Happy Holidays! Well the number for meals I'm cooking each day has decreased but my calorie consumption has doubled, if not tripled. Since I'm no longer required to incorporated mayonnaise into every recipe, I almost convinced myself that my yoga pants were slipping down because I was loosing weight. But I'm afraid after catching a glimpse of my profile, it's my expanding waistline that is causing my yoga pants to have the 'tights too tight, now rolling done my torso" effect.

This new 'normal' of mine has even startled me on occasion. Last Saturday stepped back into my old profession and spent the day babysitting. Once home, I poured myself a cup of tea and butchered my 4th deer this season. Other highlights of the week, mall-walking with a high school friend and her baby (it's didn't take long, our mall is 1/4 mile long and just 1 story) and purchasing a new pair of functional, not a bit attractive, waterproof snow boots.

Grams is doing well and has a good attitude. Just the other day she was asked, 'Are you excited to get to heaven and see Jesus?" Her response, "No, I'm just looking forward to seeing Doug." Doug is my grandfather and her husband of 50+ years. Fa-la-la-la lifetime has nothing on this love story.
New York, NY 1946

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Doctor's Order

When the doctor's suggests a beer to go with pizza, that's a prescription I'm glad to fill, especially at 10:45am. So here's Grams cheesing to her father's birthday - he would have been 125 years old today.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Day 9 in Central-PA

This week it's 'operation getting back to business' and getting my pants to comfortably button again. I'm finally getting out of the house and back to sleeping in a real bed. Since I was sans "domestic partner," baby, and shorter than 5' 5" this holiday weeklong I had a reservation for 1 on the couch. 

It's not that I miss working out, it's missing my sanity (and a reason to leave to the house) that had me signing up for local gym. It looked clean, had working treadmills, and was right next to the grocery store so I was sold pretty quickly. If nothing else, I will be at the gym each time I need to buy more food. Although I probably wont need to go for awhile.

Monday was a 'school is shut down' kind of holiday in these parts. December 1 marked the first day of buck season (that's deer huntin' for all you city folks). By 3pm there was a skinned and hung opening day deer in our basement. JoannE.'s Butcher Shop was officially open. There was a bit of learning curve, and a few more "mystery cuts" than I anticipated but that deer was broken down and vacuumed sealed by 8pm. Just think, if I was in Brooklyn I would have to pay $200+ to watch some guy break down a large animal. Total cost of yesterdays hands on/elbow deep "workshop" = a six pack of beer.

Today I got myself out of the house by 1pm, hit the gym and made an investment on an electronic tea kettle. While in-town I ran into 3 relatives, 2 high school classmates and a chatty stranger.  And within spending 1 hour "in town" I had left the following message:
"Hey, ran into your brother at The Store*. Heard he got a beautiful buck and shot him from your tree stand. Will you be in town by doe season?"

So it's fair to say, I'm settling in.
Bonus: It felt pretty amazing to not to have to write a $1,000+ rent check the first of the month, this hometown sabbatical may have a few perks.
~Happy Huntin'

*Since the sight of hanging deer carcase may be squeamish for some, here's a lovely pic of a personal-size gluten free apple pie