Archive | October, 2012

The DIY Life: Homemade Bruschetta Mix

31 Oct

Round 3 of tomatopalooza resulted in 14 jars of this loveliness called bruschetta. The house smelled amazing. The jars looked gorgeous. I was going to mince and chop the tomatoes so fine that I wouldn’t mind eating it, but decided against that. I rough chopped them and thought hey, if I want to eat it, I can take the immersion blender to it so it’s a little smoother and less chunky for my liking. I love everything tomato but the actual tomatoes – so I don’t like them in chunks either. Salsa for me has to be fairly smooth. I know I know. It’s the texture. That firm mushiness just gives me the heeby jeebies. I can’t help it.

I did this with fresh tomatoes because I had some around. I have tons in the freezer too but think recipes like this are better suited for the fresh kind. I got this recipe straight off of the ball canning and preserving website. I didn’t have dry white wine, so I used a dry red. Instead of the dried oregano, I used dried chives. Instead of plum tomatoes I used Roma’s. Everything else I followed, because in the canning world, you don’t mess with acid ratios. Nope, no way no how. I doubled the recipe because I had so many tomatoes on hand that it didn’t make sense not to. I will certainly be gifting some of this loveliness come the holidays. And we will be enjoying it come the holidays.

For the recipe, click HERE.

For photos, look no further than below this sentence. Gorgeous!

Advertisements

The DIY Life: Living Frugal and making your OWN Smoothie Base!

22 Oct

Ever since I made the decision to watch what I was eating, exercise and finally shed this excess weight gain (damn you homemade and craft beer with all your deliciousness!!!), I have attempted to have healthier “snacks” or dessert options. After I got my cardio done for the day, I was enjoying a Chocolate Strawberry Smoothie from the freezer section. Now, $2.38 for a little bag of frozen berries and some chocolate yogurt chunks is kinda pricey as an almost daily treat. Especially when I’m sharing it with the hubs. Then I decided I could totally do it better and CHEAPER!

If you are a fan of smoothies, this is a great way to have a ready-made “mix” where you just add some milk, blend, and off you go!

I chose to purchase fresh berries because they were *shocker* cheaper than the already frozen. If you wanna skip that step and just buy frozen, go for it, but you just can’t beat sale berries! I’m going to buy up some raspberries and freeze them too into this mix to get a big boost of nutrients from all that red berry goodness!

Strawberry Vanilla Smoothie Base

Ingredients/Directions

2lbs strawberries – rinsed, cored and larger berries cut in half/quartered

1 large container vanilla Greek yogurt (I used Chobani)

Ice cube trays

waxed paper

rimmed baking sheet

Take a piece of wax paper and line the bottom of a rimmed baking sheet. Spread your strawberries in a single layer.

For the yogurt, spoon it into ice cube trays. Before stacking the trays for freezing, put a layer of saran wrap in between to keep the trays from getting messy. Freeze for 2 hours along with your baking sheet of strawberries.

Once items are frozen, toss into a gallon size freezer bag or freezer safe container.

To make a single serve smoothie, take 3 yogurt cubes, a handful of the strawberries and add to blender. Add a squirt or two of chocolate sauce, about 1/2 cup milk for a thick smoothie and blend until combined.

Voila! For $10 you get at least 16 smoothies. The frozen prepackaged kind? Double that!

Simple and tasty appetizer – GF Spicy Shrimp Cups

15 Oct

I love shrimp. And sushi. And cucumbers. And Sriracha hot sauce. Combine all those things and you have something FANTASTIC!!! I saw the idea for this appetizer over at Big Red Kitchen, where she puts everything and anything into jars. There are these little “grab a pint” mini meals to take on the go. She posted an option for spicy shrimp rolls. I drooled on the keyboard and wanted to eat the screen. I LOVE spicy shrimp rolls. When we go out for sushi, I get spicy tuna, spicy scallop, spicy lobster – you get the point. So I thought to myself, I’ve got to adapt this into an appetizer option for a larger crowd AND make sure it’s Gluten Free so my SIL can grub on it. Hence the cucumber “cups” – they are the perfect bite size option. They are a way healthier appetizer option since they are not fried and you are getting a veggie from the cukes and a nice bit of protein from the shrimp. I’m not going to lie. I could have eaten the whole tray of these by myself. And there was not one of these little cups left at the end of the night. They were being eaten like potato chips.

I ended up using 2 1/2 of the english cucumbers for my batch, so be sure to buy at least 3. Or buy 2, and then eat any leftover spicy shrimp mixture on a piece of bread. Or a cracker. Or just with a spoon shoving it straight into your pie hole. Whatever works for you!

After my shrimp mixture had sat in the fridge for an hour, there was what appeared to be a lot of liquid, like they had let a little more water out. So I put the mixture into a fine mesh colander and drained off the excess so I didn’t have soupy shrimp cups. This may not be an issue for you, but if it happens, you’ve just been given a solution!

Feel free to add more or less Sriracha to suit your tastes. I felt the heaping tablespoon was sufficient for the crowd I was feeding, but you might think it too spicy. Or not spicy enough!

While my adaptation was to make it an appetizer, this is also great as a lunch option for a couple of days, kind of like a shrimp salad but better. Healthier. I gave it a try as a twist on the lobster roll – whole wheat baguette, some baby spinach and arugula plus the spicy shrimp. It was a fantastic, healthy and filling lunch!

Enjoy!

Spicy Shrimp Cups

adapted from Big Red Kitchen

2-3 English cucumbers (long seedless cukes)

1 12oz bag frozen small shrimp – thawed and drained of excess water

3 tablespoons Hellman’s Olive Oil Mayo – see note

1 tablespoon Sriracha Hot Sauce

Black Sesame Seeds for garnish

Take your thawed small shrimp and add them to a food processor. Pulse a few times to chop up the shrimp.

Add chopped shrimp to a bowl along with the mayo and Sriracha. Stir to combine, refrigerate for 1 hour (or overnight).

Meanwhile, peel your cucumbers and cut into 1/2 inch slices. Using a melon baller, scoop out a portion of the seeded section, leaving a thin bit on the bottom to create a “cup”.

Add a scoop of the spicy shrimp mixture to each cup and top with sesame seeds for garnish. Keep chilled.

Note: Hellman’s mayonnaise is Gluten Free. If you are not concerned with the recipe being GF, feel free to use whatever you like. If you are following a GF diet and have other alternatives of GF mayo, you may substitute that for the Hellman’s Olive Oil mayo.

Fall Fabulousness for Adults – Apple Pie Sangria

8 Oct

You know Fall has officially arrived not just when the leaves start to change or the air is crisp – but when the recipes for all things pumpkin and apple start flooding the food magazines and the internet. This weekend we had our first fall fire outside with friends. As always, I had to have snacks and a signature beverage. I wanted wine, but something a little more classy than the box of Franzia Fruity Red Sangria. Don’t get me wrong – box wine is classy as hell. Who needs a bottle? But it is hard to add fruit to the wine bag inside the box. And I wanted to have a white sweet wine. And Moscato happens to be a fave of mine. We were going to the local Apple Festival on Sunday, but that was a day late for my Saturday shindig, so I had to get creative.

The apple pie “shine” I used is something I made – but there are many places coming out with versions you can purchase in the liquor stores. If you don’t have access to something like this, please see the note at the bottom of the recipe for an easy substitution. And don’t fret. I will be posting the recipe for the apple pie “shine” here soon. It is after all fall. And cider is in production all over the place.

This recipe is strong, so drink it slow and easy. Not strong in the overly boozy tastes like straight alcohol strong – strong as in you are drinking something that contains wine AND 190 proof booze. Ya. That kind of strong!

Apple Pie Sangria

Seasoned with Sarcasm Original

1 1.5 liter bottle of Moscato

3 apples – chopped (I used Gala)

1 pint apple pie “shine”

1 liter soda water

In a large pitcher or food safe storage container, combine your wine, apples and pint of shine. Refrigerate overnight for the best flavor, at least 2 hours if you don’t have that kind of time.

Just before serving, add in your liter of soda water and stir.

Enjoy!

Note: If you cannot locate a bottle of apple pie “shine, sub in 1 cup of apple cider + 1 cup vodka. Add a cinnamon stick to your mix as well to get a more pie like flavor. 

Trying new things: Cheesy Veggie Quinoa Bites

1 Oct

I try not to snub my nose at any foods unless I have tried them and KNOW with certainty that I don’t like them, as long as they smell appealing to  me and don’t contain any visible organ, lip or ass meat – hot dogs and bologna DO NOT count. I’ve been hearing about quinoa for at the very least, this past year. I’ve wanted to try it, but until recent months availability has been an issue. I didn’t want to have to special order a food item that could very well turn into a food staple in our house, which I thought this had the possibility of becoming. I picked some up at the local grocery recently and cooked it with just some sautéed onions and had it for dinner topped with eggplant, garlic, and more onions. It was fantastic. Cooked like you would rice, but with a slightly nutty flavor and it actually kept you full instead of hungry an hour later like rice. Hubs even liked it.

Enter in my sister-in-law and her attempt at a gluten-free lifestyle. I wanted to make an appetizer for a get-together she was having that she would actually be able to eat. Add in the fact that I’m on a newly started diet – not dieting where you only eat certain foods, more of a watching calories and trying to make healthier choices kind of thing – so I wanted something appetizer like without it being fried or laden with fats or mayo. I had a big fresh bag of quinoa and had seen recipes floating around where you use the grains to create an appetizer of some sort.

I stumbled upon Cheese and Vegetable Quinoa bites over at The Curvy Carrot. Sold.

With a few adaptations, I made it mine, gluten-free, and made enough to freeze some! Score. Hubs was digging this one too. Eating them kind of like they were potato chips. But with less guilt.

Cheesy Veggie Quinoa Bites

adapted from The Curvy Carrot

Makes 24 discs or “muffins”

Ingredients

2 cups quinoa, cooked to package directions

2 eggs – I used 3 since they were small fresh eggs

1/3 cup store-bought shredded carrot, microwaved to soften 60 seconds

1 ½ cups chopped baby spinach, fresh not frozen

1 shallot chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

½ cup Colby Jack cheese, freshly shredded

2 tablespoons cornmeal

kosher salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease or spray 2 – 12 count muffin pans. Add all ingredients but the cheese to a large bowl until combined. Add cheese and stir to distribute evenly through mixture.

Using a spoon or cookie scoop, fill muffin cups until 3/4 of the way full, pressing mixture down into pan.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, until crispy and set. Remove from muffin pans and serve immediately.

You can reheat these for 10 minutes until warm. For freezing, let cool completely and place in freezer safe container or bags. To serve from frozen, let thaw overnight. Reheat under broiler for 5-10 minutes until tops are crispy and rounds are heated through.