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Sunday, June 28, 2015

Summertime Cool Down Smoothie



In our region of the PNW we typically do not experience high summer temps..maybe a few days here and there, but usually cooler than usual with rain mixed in. This summer has started out very different. We have been experiencing a very dry season and higher than normal temps...this last week and at least the week to come will be in the 90's low hundreds. Yikes! 

Last week I was out doing some shopping by myself and had stopped at a Jamba Juice to get a smoothie, I figured that was better than going to Wendy's and it sounded better too. I love that Jamba has started incorporating more fresh juices and a combo of fresh juices to their smoothies. So, I stopped in. I ordered a smoothie that was made from fresh carrot juice, orange juice, mangoes and bananas. The result was an incredibly delicious smoothie that was both healthy and about 1/2 the calories as the one I normally get. SCORE. I knew I could recreate this at home since we have both a juicer and a high powered blender (Vitamix). With the heat recently, I gave it a try and I will say, it was pretty darn close. Juices and smoothies are a great way to get extra veggies and fruit, or if you have picky eaters. I love juicing, but it takes a lot more fruits and veggies to get a decent amount of juice so I tend to do smoothies more often. I can't buy all organic (though I'd love to), so my rule of thumb typically is to buy the things on the Dirty Dozen list organic if I can...and usually if I'm going to eat the peel I buy it organic. I do buy lemons organic as well because I usually include the peel in smoothies.  

Ingredients: (for 1 smoothie)

1/2 c. fresh carrot juice (you can purchase carrot juice at the store)
1/2 c. orange juice
1 banana
1/2 c. frozen mango 

Combine all ingredients in blender. Blend till smooth. Adjust amounts according to taste. You can use fresh mango and use ice but I like using frozen fruit. 


With Joy UNquenchable,

Monday, June 15, 2015

Secret Recipe Reveal Day: Granita al Caffee con Panna

I am so excited about today's reveal day. Not that I'm ever NOT excited, but this one, well, I was really excited. The admins of Group C of The Secret Recipe Club, assigned me Manu's Menu, as my blog for June. I love receiving my blog assignment each month, browsing through and choosing recipes I might want to make, and then, finally deciding on one! Well, when I clicked the link for this months assignment, her subtitle was "Authentic Italian Home Cooking and More"...that sold me...Italian..yippee..my moms family is Italian. But then, I read that she was born to Sicilian Parents...WHAT!? Part of my moms family is Sicilian...Even more exciting. I was so curious that I asked family members where they all came from (my descendants that is). The ones from Sicily were from Cefalu, the others came from Abruzzo and Naples. What fun learning more about family. 

So, back to Manu, since this post is supposed to be about her and her blog and her amazing recipes, and there are many yummy sounding recipes. Manu lives in Australia with her husband (who is of Indian origin) and her kiddo's. What a fun mix of nationalities, and her recipes reflect that. Take time to read her About Me page to learn more about her family. 

I only pinned two recipes to try, even though there were so many more that I would like to make...it's been hot here in the Pacific Northwest and so I wanted to try something cold. Her Salted Caramel Gelato sounded wonderful and my family LOVES Gelato and ice cream. However, it was her Granita al caffe con panna that really caught my attention. One, it was a Sicilian recipe, and two I remembered the coffee shop in the grocery store we shopped at when I was younger, served a granita and I loved it. Granted it was coming out of a large machine..lol, but it was still good. This was the recipe I was going to make! I'm glad I did. It was a HUGE hit with my girl, and so perfect for the hot weather. I would love to try different flavors. 

This was an easy recipe, and fairly quick. I think I could've let it go just a bit longer, or maybe put it in the freezer for just a bit. It seemed to "melt" quickly and I'm not sure if that's how it's supposed to be. I took the leftovers out of the freezer the next day, let it soften, ran a fork through it and made it again...it held up a little better, and still tasted the same. My youngest actually liked when it was slightly melted. Either way it tasted great. 

*Notes: 
1.  I had instant espresso powder, but then realized I had coffee beans from the coffee shop that my daughter works at so I used those and made a small, strong pot of coffee.

2.  I didn't have caster sugar, so I just took my sugar and ran it through my Vitamix for a bit. I don't use white sugar, but pure cane or Organic pure cane and I find the granules are a bit larger.

Ingredients:

1 1/4 c. cold water
1 1/2 c. hot coffee (espresso)
2/3 c. caster sugar
Lightly Sweetened Whipped Cream (I'm not a fan of store bought whipped topping anymore, so we just make our own)

Instructions:

1. Stir sugar in to hot coffee and stir until it is dissolved. Add cold water and refrigerate for at least 2 hours till chilled. 

2. Pour in to ice cream maker and churn for 20-30 minutes or until it reaches a sorbet like consistency.

3. Pour in to a glass, top with sweetened whipped cream and enjoy! We topped ours with some chocolate covered coffee beans.

Thank you Manu for taking me to a place in my lineage that I have longed to go. I can't wait to keep following your blog and make more recipes. 
Check out more Secret Recipe Club recipes by clicking the links below. There's bound to be some amazing ones...probably all of them. 






With Joy UNquenchable,

Friday, June 12, 2015

Recipe: Quinoa Salad


I love finding new recipes, especially ones that everyone likes...SCORE! Last weekend we went to watch some soccer at a friends house. My friend brought out a Quinoa Salad she had made earlier. We had been snacking on fruit, crackers, cheese and salami. Her husband had told her not to bring out the salad because it really wasn't snack food...I'm so glad she didn't listen to him..lol. We loved it and I knew it was one I was going to make. I like quinoa, but have a bit of an issue with the texture, and I also seem to like it better cold than hot (unless it's in soup). I know, weird. 

Here is some great information on Quinoa. There seems to be mixed opinions about soaking quinoa, so honestly I'm not sure which is entirely correct or if it is simply a matter of opinion, and we all know there are a gazillion opinions floating around the world wide web. My friend soaks hers and so that is what I did. But there isn't much dispute over it's benefits. I like to mostly add it to soups or casseroles, but this salad will become a regular dish and it is one that can be changed up by adding different vegetables. I love versatile dishes.

It's been hot in our area of Washington State, yes, 80+ is hot to us. I much prefer mid to upper 70's. I wasn't in the mood for a fully hot cooked meal. This salad was perfect topped with a warm breaded chicken breast, which is what we did. A nice mix of hot and cold, and overall a light meal. Chicken breasts are pretty thick and so lately I have been slicing them in half, thus creating 2 "breasts" from one, a little thinner, quicker to cook, less calories, but perfectly filling and stretches the chicken further, which for me is important.

Ingredients:

1 c. dry quinoa
2 c. water
chopped cucumber, tomato, green onion and cilantro (amounts to taste)
1/2 can (or more) cooked black beans
1 garlic clove
2 to 1 ratio of olive oil and apple cider vinegar or vinegar of choice
salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

1. Soak quinoa overnight on counter. I simply poured quinoa in a covered container, filled it with water, put lid on and let it sit overnight. 

2. In the morning, drain through a fine sieve, give a quick rinse and place in pan with 2 c. water. Bring to a boil and cook approximately 10-15 minutes.  Mine didn't take long at all, maybe because it was soaked. Allow to cool completely. Place in a large bowl.

3. Chop vegetables into small pieces. Add to quinoa along with black beans. 

4. In a separate container, add ingredients for dressing. Adjust according to your liking. I had to add more vinegar and keep adding salt till it was the right flavor. Pour over quinoa mixture. Chill until ready to serve.

Honestly it's all about taste and adjust and your personal preference. You might want more liquid, or just a little. Play around with it, you really can't go wrong...well, maybe you can. LOL. I asked my youngest how it was and she said it was good, it just didn't taste like my friends, so we kept adjusting the flavor till it was "good enough". 

I totally loved this with the breaded chicken I made. Quick, simple, and light. Perfect on a hot day.


With Joy UNquenchable,

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Mixed Greens Summer Salad


It's finally feeling like summer here in the beautiful SW region of Washington (state that is). The temps are staying up there (75-90's), I'm having to water every day and it's the perfect time to serve salads. I have several on my list to make this next week. Not only are they just easy and perfect when you don't want to cook, but we are also trying to incorporate more of them in as a "meal" and not a "side". 

This salad was inspired by This Recipe, by Recipe Girl's blog. I did some things different. For example, no one really likes dijon mustard in my family so I used my sweet and sour dressing recipe. I also used a combo of chopped spinach and mixed greens. Instead of goat cheese, I used Feta.  

It was such a yummy, fresh salad and I have found a new love in toasted pine nuts...too bad they're so expensive. I did find mine in the bulk section and at over $15 a pound, I only bought about $3.50 worth. Other salads I have on the list to make: Chef Salad and another simple chicken salad. 
Ingredients:

Equal parts chopped spinach and mixed greens
1-2 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped, or shredded rotissierie
1/4 c. pine nuts
1 Roma tomato, chopped
1 avocado, cut in larger pieces
Feta Cheese

Instructions:

1. Assemble salad! Place spinach and greens in large serving dish.

2. In a shallow dry skillet, that has been warmed, place pine nuts and toast until light brown and beginning to release it's aroma.

3. Layer all ingredients. Sprinkle with Feta Cheese. 

4. We added our own dressing, this way if we had leftovers, it wasn't wasted. 

The flavors were perfect combinations and I probably could've eaten two bowls.


What are your favorite salad toppings?

With Joy UNquenchable,

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Recipe: Pierogi's with Cabbage and Kielbasa



While my mom's side of the family is Italian, (her maiden name is DiLuciano...other last names are Bove, Rosso, and I'm sure a few more. on that side) my dads side of the family is from Slovakia (his last name is Bozich, my great great grandmother's last name was Lasiski). I love having the heritage I have even though much of it seems to have gotten lost through the generations, which is sad. It's almost as though when families migrated to the US, they wanted to leave who they were behind. Maybe not entirely, but to some degree. I wish my family still spoke Italian (how fun to learn). 

 I love how many European Countries have similar dishes with their own twist. We have friends who are Romanian and it's funny how Romanians have a version of Stuffed Cabbage that is different than what my dads family made. My MIL is Swiss and she makes Bratzeli, which is a version of the Italian Pizzelle. 

Some of my favorite foods from the Slovakia region of Europe are Pierogi and Kielbasa. YUM!!! This recipe is a combination of both of those along with another favorite, cabbage! I think I could've eaten the entire dish myself. 

I have made homemade pierogi before and they are wonderful, but somewhat time consuming, so usually I buy them from the store. I like Mrs. T's brand. Their story on their About Page is kind of interesting. They have a variety of flavors which is great because you can change up your dish however you'd like, but I usually stick with the Classic Cheddar since that's what my youngest likes the most. This is one of those recipes that doesn't need measurements because it's all according to your preference and taste.

Ingredients:

1 or 2 boxes of Pierogi (depending on how many you will be serving)
1-2 Polish Kielbasa, sliced
chopped onion
Roughly Chopped Cabbage
Butter and Oil
onion powder
garlic powder
salt
black pepper
cayenne pepper

Instructions:

1. In a skillet, add about 1 tbs. oil. Add onion and kielbasa. Season with seasonings to taste. Cook on medium high until onions are soft and kielbasa develops a bit of a "crust" or just heated through. Remove from pan. 

2. Add another 2 tbs. oil and about 1-2 Tbs. butter (depending on whether pan is non-stick or not will depend on how much you need). Add frozen pierogi to pan (I suppose you can boil them first, but I like as few steps as possible). 

3. Cook, turning periodically until pierogi are soft and heated through, and slightly brown. Add back in to pan the kielbasa and onion, add in the cabbage and stir till slightly wilted. 

Serve and enjoy! It's a simple, quick dish that can be made in 30 minutes or less. 


With Joy UNquenchable,

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