Friday, July 31, 2015

Rebel Donuts - The Best

Today is my youngest birthday.  Tim turned 12.  He also shares a birthday with none other than Harry Potter.   To celebrate Harry's Birthday, there is a fantastic donut shop in our city - Rebel Donuts.  For Harry Potter's Birthday they make special Harry Potter Donuts.

Instead of having a Birthday Cake, Tim opts for Harry Potter Donuts.   Don't they look delicious.
After eating a few I can confirm they are delicious:)

Monday, July 27, 2015

Cherry Limeade

It was a scorcher here the other day.  We decided to have a cookout in order to keep the house cool.  To go with our cookout, I made some Cherry Limeade.    My kids have loved this beverage ever since they got their first taste of Sonic Cherry Limeade.   Over the years I have changed this recipe and have finally settled on a version that the family loves.

I start out by pitting and cutting in halves a pound and a half of fresh cherries.  I put them in a saucepan with some water, chopped mint, grated lime zest, and some sugar.

I bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer the cherry mixture for about 20 minutes or until the cherries are soft.   I remove the mixture from the stove and let them cool.

Once the cherries are cool, I process them in a blender.  I strain the cherries over a large bowl and pour the juice into a large pitcher.  To the pitcher, I add lime juice, chia seeds that have been soaked in water,  and the remaining water.  I then stir and serve over ice.  A wonderfully refreshing beverage for a hot summer day.   Enjoy:)

Cherry Limeade

1 1/2 pound cherries, washed, pitted, and sliced in half
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1 teaspoon grated lime zest
1 cup sugar
4 cups water, divided
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 cup lime juice

1. Place cherries, chopped mint, grated lime zest, sugar and 1 cup water in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until cherries are soft.
2. Remove cherries from heat and cool.  Soak chia seeds in 1 cup of water for at least 30 minutes.
3. Process the cherry mixture in a blender until smooth.  
4. Strain the mixture over a large bowl.  Discard the pulp.  Pour the juice into a large pitcher.  Add the chia seeds, lime juice, and remaining water.  Stir and serve.

Makes 2 quarts

Friday, July 24, 2015

Lime-And-Mint Macerated Cherries

A delicious way to enjoy fresh cherries.  Fresh cherries are pitted, tossed with some lime zest, lime juice, sugar, fresh mint, and some kosher salt.  They are chilled for about 1 hour and then spooned over some ricotta cheese.  MMM - fantastic.  A delicious combination of fresh cherry flavor with a hint of lime and the cooling taste of mint.

I spooned they cherries also over some Greek yogurt, ice cream,   a piece of pound cake.  Everything tasted delicious with these cherries.  I loved them - a very tasty way to enjoy fresh cherries:)

Lime-And-Mint Macerated Cherries
From Southern Living Magazine - July 2015

1 pound fresh cherries, pitted
1 tablespoon firmly packed lime zest
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
Ricotta cheese

1. Cut half of cherries in half crosswise. Place whole cherries and cherry halves in a large bowl; add zest and next 4 ingredients, tossing to coat. Cover and chill 1 hour.

2. Remove cherries from refrigerator, and let stand 10 minutes. Spoon over ricotta cheese, and serve immediately.

Serves 6- 8

Monday, July 20, 2015

Honeydew and Mint Agua Fresca

Agua Fresca is the perfect beverage, in my opinion, for a sweltering summer day.   It is cool and refreshing.  The recipe I found for Honeydew and Mint Agua Fresca hits the spot.   A mellow melon flavor with a hint of citrus and the refreshing taste of mint.  Add to this a light sparkling smoothness as it goes down.   Delicious.

I found this recipe on "Williams-Sonoma" website.  This recipe makes 12 servings.

Honeydew and Mint Agua Fresca
From Williams-Sonoma

2 honeydew melons, about 12 lb. total
Juice of 4 lemons
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup crushed fresh mint leaves
3 cups sparkling water, chilled
3 lemons, thinly sliced
Ice cubes as needed
10 to 12 fresh mint sprigs for garnish

Cut the honeydew melons in half and remove and discard the seeds. Using a metal spoon, scoop out the flesh into a large bowl. Working in batches, puree the honeydew melon in a blender or food processor.

As each batch is finished, transfer it to another large bowl. Add the lemon juice, sugar and mint leaves to the puree and stir to combine until the sugar is dissolved. Cover and set aside at room temperature for at least 1 hour or up to 4 hours to blend the flavors.

When ready to serve, pour the melon mixture through a medium-mesh sieve into a large pitcher or jar.

Add the sparkling water, lemon slices and ice and stir well. Pour or ladle into glasses and garnish each glass with a mint sprig. Serves 10 to 12.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Slow Cooker Stuffed Shells

Stuffed Shells.  So delicious and so easy to make.  Serve with some crusty bread, a salad and you have a delicious easy meal for your family.   I make my Stuffed Shells in my crock pot.

I start by spraying the crock very lightly with some cooking spray.  I then poured some sauce into the pot - enough to cover the bottom of the  pot.

Sauce Covering Bottom of Crock Pot

I cooked the pasta shells according to the package directions.   I then drained the shells, ran them under some cold water and placed them on a piece of foil that has been lightly sprayed with cooking spray.  This kept the shells from sticking together.

Shells Cooling On Lightly Sprayed Foil

Next, pasta shells which are stuffed with a creamy ricotta filling are placed face down upon the sauce.

Creamy Ricotta Filling

Stuffed Shells Layered on Sauce Face Sown

The shells are then covered with some  sauce followed by sprinklings of mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.

Shells Topped With Sauce

Topped With Cheeses

The remaining  shells are layered on the cheese followed by the remaining sauce and cheeses.

Second Layer

Topped With Sauce

Cook on low for 4 hours.  Spoon the shells onto serving plates and top with some minced parsley.

Final Layer

This recipe makes 8 servings and is very easy to make.

Slow Cooker Stuffed Shells

Special Equipment: Large Oval Crock pot

8 ounces jumbo pasta shells
30 ounces whole-milk ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
12 leaves fresh basil, cut into chiffonade
1 large egg
40 ounces marinara sauce
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, grated and divided
Minced parsley for garnish

1. Cook pasta shells according to package directions. Drain and rinse in cold water.  Place shells on a piece of foil that has been lightly sprayed with cooking oil.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup of  Parmesan cheese, parsley, basil, egg, some salt and pepper.  Stir until combined.
3. Spray your crock pot lightly with some cooking spray.  Pour enough sauce to cover the bottom of the crock pot.
4. Fill each shell with the cheese mixture and place face-down on the sauce until the bottom of the crock pot is covered.
5. Cover the shells with sauce, 1/2 of the mozzarella cheese, and 1/2 cup of the Parmesan.
6. Place the remaining shells face down  on the cheese layer. Top with remaining sauce and cheeses.
7. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours.  Serve and top with some minced parsley.

Makes 8 servings

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Slow Cooker Chicken Burrito Bowls

The other night as we were eating out, I saw a couple enjoying a tasty Burrito Bowl.  I wish I had ordered that I thought.  It was too late to change my order, my dinner was ordered and on its' way.   The next day, I scoured the Web for recipes on how to make a Burrito Bowl.  I found a wonderful recipe on "the kitchn" blog and it was cooked in a Slow Cooker.  I must give this recipe a try and so I did.

The ingredients are put in at different stages during the cooking.  You start off by putting in the chicken and it is cooked in a sauce consisting of tomatoes, chicken broth and some spices.  Cook in the Slow Cooker on low for about 4 hours.  Next you add some more chicken broth, rice, black beans, and corn. The ingredients are cooked for another 4 hours or until the rice is tender.

When the Burrito Bowl was done, I spooned some into a bowl and had various condiments the family could garnish their "bowls" with.  I used cheese, avocados, shredded iceberg lettuce, and some tomatoes for mine.

One of the best Burrito Bowls I had.  Flavorful, delicious, and satisfying.

Slow Cooker Chicken Burrito Bowls
From the kitchn
Serves 6 to 8

1 to 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, chicken thighs, or a mix
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 to 1 1/4 cups chicken stock, divided
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cumin
1 cup brown rice
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen corn
Optional toppings: shredded cheese, chopped cilantro, sour cream, diced avocado, salsa, hot sauce, diced green onions, shredded lettuce

Combine the chicken breasts, diced tomatoes, 1/2 cup of chicken stock, chili powder, salt, and cumin in the bowl of a 2 1/2- to 3 1/2-quart slow cooker. Make sure the chicken is covered. Cover with the lid and cook on low for 3 to 4 hours.

Diced Tomatoes,Chicken Stock,and Spices
Sauce and Chicken

Remove the lid and add the rice, black beans, frozen corn, and another 1/2 cup of chicken broth. Replace the lid and continue cooking on low for another 3 to 4 hours. Check the rice periodically in the last hour of cooking, stirring once or twice to make sure the rice cooks evenly and adding more chicken broth if the mixture seems dry. Cooking is done when the rice is tender — if the rice is done while there is still liquid left in the slow cooker, remove the lid and cook on high to let the liquid evaporate. Total cooking time from start to finish is 6 to 8 hours.

Beans, Corn, Rice Added To Chicken
Use two forks to shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces. You can do this either in the slow cooker itself and then mix it into the rice, or you can transfer the chicken to a cutting board if you prefer to keep it separate. Taste the burrito mix and stir in more salt or other seasonings to taste.

Serve burrito bowls with a selection of toppings. The burrito mixture will keep for 1 week refrigerated or for 3 months in the freezer. This recipe makes about 7 total cups of burrito mix.

Recipe Notes
Cooking the Rice Separately: If you won't be home to add the rice to the slow cooker, you can skip this step and cook it separately on the stovetop just before serving (use these directions). To modify the recipe, combine the chicken, diced tomatoes, 1/2 cup of stock, and spices in the slow cooker and cook for 6 to 8 hours on low. Add the black beans and corn, and cook for another 1/2 hour, or until warmed through, while you're cooking the rice (omit the remaining chicken stock).
Vegetarian Burrito Bowls: Combine the diced tomatoes, 1 cup of vegetable stock, spices, rice, black beans, and corn in a slow cooker. Cook on low for 3 to 4 hours, until the rice is tender and has absorbed all the liquid. Stir once or twice toward the end of cooking to make sure the rice is cooking evenly.
Beyond Burrito Bowls: Besides burrito bowls, you can use this filling to make regular tortilla-wrapped burritos or freezer burritos

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Arnold Palmer Fruit Pops

Popsicles are a great way to cool off.  I enjoyed them as a kid and I enjoy them as an adult.  They are very quick and easy to make.  You can use your favorite juice, beverage, ice cream, pudding, yogurt, etc.  to make your own customized frozen treat.

I made some Popsicles with berries I had on hand and some Arnold Palmer.  Instead of using black tea bags, I used white tea bags for my Arnold Palmer.

I tossed some fresh fruit into  Popsicle molds and poured in some Arnold Palmer.  Put the tops on the molds and froze  them until solid.  Remove the pops from the molds and serve.

You are ready to enjoy a nice refreshing treat that is welcomed on a hot summer day:)

Arnold Palmer Fruit Pops
1 pound fresh or frozen fruit of your choice
2 cups Arnold Palmer made with white tea bags. You can find the recipe here.
10 Popsicle molds

1. Cut the fruit in half if it is too large.  I left my berries whole.
2. Divide the fruit among the Popsicle molds and add the Arnold Palmer.  Place the top on the plastic molds and place in the freezer.
3. Freeze until solid or overnight.   REmove from molds and serve.

Makes 10 Popsicles

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

The other day I had this soup at Panera and it was fantastic.  A nice summery soup with a splash of citrus flavor.  I couldn't wait to try to make it at home.  About a week later I made some for the family.  I had some chicken left over and this soup would be the perfect way to use the leftovers.

This soup is very easy to make.  I made a major change to the original soup I had at Panera.  No spinach in the soup.    That is a big turn off for the kids in my family.

This soup is like your basic chicken noodle only you use orzo pasta and lemon juice.  Everything is put in a stock pot except the lemon juice and cooked for 30 minutes or until the veggies and orzo are done. When the soup is ready you pour in the lemon juice and serve.  I garnished the soup with a lemon wheel.

The recipe was just as good or better than the soup I had at Panera.  Light, flavorful, and delicious:)

Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

8 cups chicken broth
2 cups cooked chicken cut into bite-sized pieces
1 medium carrot, peeled and sliced
1 medium celery stalk, sliced
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dry oregano
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 cup orzo pasta
Juice of fresh lemon (about 1/4 cup)
Salt to taste

1. Place all of the ingredients except the lemon juice and salt in a stock pot.  Cover and bring to a boil.
2. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender and the orzo is cooked.
3. Stir in lemon juice.  Taste and add salt if needed.
4. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with a lemon wheel.

Makes 6 servings