Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Avocado Vitamin Appetiser from Ibiza Land & Sea

Abrams’ October release, Ibiza Land and Sea, 100 Sun-Drenched Recipes by Françoise Lefébure of Les Terrasses Finca restaurant is a feast for the senses. Just paging through the book, looking at the beautiful photos of bright blue skies, clear water, and delicious food, as well as people enjoying it, will make you want to drop what you’re doing and head straight for this tranquil island in the Mediterranean Sea off the eastern coast of Spain. Each recipe presented — preceded by a charming note from the author — is fairly simple yet with complex results, every mouthwatering photo tempting. There were so many recipes that I wanted to try — hello, chocolate macaroons! — but an aging bag of avocados beckoned, so my first recipe was the Avocado Vitamin Appetiser. Being more of a savory than a sweet person, I found this a wonderful way to start my day. It is a bowl of flavorful freshness with a bit of a kick (I substituted pickled jalapeño juice for the water — wow!), and will be enjoying this again and again. If you have no current plans to head to Ibiza, bring the food to you by way of this delightful and inviting book, and do yourself a favor and give this recipe a try. 
Avocado Vitamin Appetiser
Slightly adapted from Ibiza Land and Sea

1 ripe avocado
1 English cucumber
2 spring onions
1 celery rib
1 handful flat parsley
1 Granny Smith apple
4-5 rocket (arugula) leaves
1-2 tablespoons water or juice from
Melissa’s Pickled Jalapeños 
Juice of one lemon
Olive oil*
Freshly ground pepper
Mixed organic seeds such as
linseed, sunflower, sesame, etc. (optional)
Basil leaves for garnished, if desired

Peel and cube the vegetables, chop the parsley, apple, and rocket, and put everything into a blender or food processor; blend. Add a little cold water or jalapeño juice. Chill for one hour.

Just before serving, stir in the lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.

 Pour the gazpacho into bowls (I used ramekins) and decorate with mixed seeds and a few basil leaves. Drink this vitamin-loaded brew at any time of day, or serve as a starter along with a salad.

*I did not use

If you like your avocado soup a bit spicier, you might want to try this version.

This post contains affiliate links.

Disclaimer: I was provided with a complimentary copy of this book by Abram Publishers in exchange for an honest review. I am a member of the 2018-2019 Abrams Dinner Party.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Meal Plan Monday

Fellow blogger, Gina, of The Cannary Family blog has long done something that I admire, and that is to make a meal plan each week. Because I’m nosy and always looking for ideas, every Monday I pop over to see what she’ll be fixing for the week. Week after week I tell myself that I’m going to do the same, but generally I’m too scattered to plan that far ahead. Well, not this week. This week I decided to, for once, be organized and plan a week of meals. So, my friends, here is what I’m having. (Click on the highlighted name to get the recipe.)

Monday - Creamy Ham Towers (Dad has had a craving, so he inspired this), Parmesan Roasted Broccoli

Tuesday - Pizza night with the grandkids

Wednesday -
Ham Steak with Red-Eye Gravy (Using leftover ham from Monday), mashed potatoes, green beans

Thursday - Neighborhood Christmas Luncheon, day off!

Friday - Roast Chicken, Autumn Rice Pilaf (because, technically, it’s not winter yet), Roasted Carrots

Saturday - Prosperity Sandwich (Another idea from dad when he mentioned how my mother used to make the recipe from the old St. Louis Mayfair Hotel,) Cup of Soup (from my freezer stash)

Sunday - Taco Casserole (because I’m feeling spicy)

What are you all having this week? I am ALWAYS looking for ideas! By the way, I am asking Santa for one of these.

My place setting of the week.

 This post contains affiliate links.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

The Burn Cookbook, Reviewed

I don’t know about you, but I am shocked that we are as close to Christmas as we are. Despite the fact that Thanksgiving was early, that we’ve had cold weather for a long time, and it has felt like winter for months, it still comes as a surprise that it is so close. My Christmas list really hasn’t changed much from when I was a little girl. Back in the day I used to frustrate my mother by asking for books, records, stationery, and purses, year after year. I no longer want records, of course, but I still love books, I still love beautiful writing paper (avid letter writer that I am), and a colorful purse still turns my head.
Cookbooks are always a fun gift to both give and receive this season, and there are a lot of clever new ones available. If you are shopping for an avid cook who seems to have everything, a fan of the movie “Mean Girls,” and looking for a bit of culinary fun, look no further. The Burn Cookbook, a Parody, Real Recipes to Feed Your Inner Plastic (An Unofficial Unauthorized Cookbook for Mean Girls Fans) by Jonathan Bennett and Nikki Martin is an absolute delight! Colorful, whimsical, and fun, if the pictures of that hunky Jonathan Bennett don’t draw you in, the photos and recipes of the delicious food certainly will. 
This is a serious cookbook, in addition to being a whole lot of fun. It is interactive in that you can add your own photos, comments, recipes, and answer quizzes. Plus there are loads of movie facts and trivia, not to mention recipe titles that will have you laughing out loud, case in point, “Face Smells Like a Foot Peppermint Bark.”
Reading this cookbook will provide you with a wonderful time, as well as some truly unique, clever, and tasty recipes. All of them are simple with easy-to-locate ingredients, and the wide variety offered are sure to please everyone you know. The names are clever, the illustrations and layout unmatched, and I honestly can’t tell you the last time I had so much fun with a cookbook. Not only are there recipes for mouth-watering food, but there are also recipes for beauty products such as Coconut Face Cream and Full-of-Secrets Hair Volumizing Mask.
Whether you are a “Mean Girls fan or not, this cookbook is sure to please. It will bring a smile to your face, and goodness to your tummy. Don’t let this one pass you by.

 For more info, click the picture below.

This post contains affiliate links.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Asian Chicken Noodle Soup

When I am in need of comfort, nothing beats chicken soup. It is a literal panacea for all ills. It is something I like to keep in the freezer at all times because, occasionally, the need for comfort can blindside you. Today, as I watched a surprising amount of unpredicted snow fall, I decided that it was as good a time as any to replenish my supply. I decided to wander a bit from my norm and give my soup a bit of an Asian flair. Wow, I loved it! The flavor was so rich, complex, and immensely satisfying. Try this, and with cold and flu season looming ahead, you might keep a quart or two in the freezer. Just in case. 
Asian Chicken Noodle Soup

3 garlic cloves
1 tsp. black peppercorns
1-1/2” piece Melissa’s ginger, peeled, rough chopped
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 quarts chicken stock
3 tbsp. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup diced carrots
1 5-oz. can sliced water chestnuts
1-2 cups egg noodles (or noodle of your choice)
2 cups diced cooked chicken
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 cup fresh bean sprouts
4 scallions, sliced into 1” diagonals

Use a mortar and pestle to pound the garlic, peppercorns, and ginger into a rough paste. Heat oil in a large pot over high heat and fry the paste for 30 seconds to 1 minute or until fragrant. Add the star anise, chicken stock, soy sauce, salt, celery, carrots, water chestnuts, and noodles. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and gently simmer for 15-20 minutes until noodles are done. Add chicken, parsley, bean sprouts, and scallions. Simmer for 5-10 more minutes until heated through and serve.

Chicken soup purists will enjoy this recipe.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Chai Tea

After watching “Victoria Wood’s Nice Cup of Tea,” a documentary available via Acorn TV, I became obsessed with making tea. I dug out all of the bags, boxes, and loose tea tins that had piled up in the back of my pantry, and every day would brew a different variety. I enjoyed this on many levels. First of all, it forced me to relax, something that tends to be a bit foreign to me. Secondly, it allowed me to enjoy my small collection of teapots in a way that I hadn’t previously, when I made tea in more of a rush. Lastly, this daily ritual allowed me to savor each sip, and in the doing I found myself appreciating every aroma, unique flavor, and nuance of the various types of tea that I tried.

In the process, I found myself becoming interested in something I had previously resisted (largely because it seemed so, well, “millennial,” not that there's anything wrong with that), and that is chai tea. I think the fact that it’s loaded with milk and sugar is what put me off of it the most. I decided to tinker around with the main ingredients, lightening up both the sugar and milk to see how I would like it. While I didn’t have a proper pottery cup made of mud from the bottom of the River Ganges in which to enjoy it, I surprised myself by liking it. To me, it was more like dessert, and something to be enjoyed after a meal. Still, the kick of the spices and heat of the peppercorns, coupled with sweet, might just make this a nice morning eye-opener.
Chai Tea

3” piece Melissa’s ginger, cut into thin rounds
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
6 cups cold water
6 bags of black tea (Darjeeling is best)
1 ¾ cups whole milk
¼ cup brown sugar

 Combine first 6 ingredients in medium saucepan. Using the back of large spoon, lightly bruise spices. Add 6 cups water; bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover pan, and simmer gently 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Add tea bags and steep 5 minutes. Discard tea bags. Add milk and sugar. Bring tea just to simmer over high heat, whisking until sugar dissolves. Strain into a teapot and serve hot.

If you prefer coffee to tea, this spicy Mexican Coffee is a great winter warmer.

This post contains affiliate links.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Café Sua Da (Vietnamese Iced Coffee Ice Cream)

I don’t know about you, but I love coffee. I mean, I REALLY love coffee. The first thing I do in the morning, my eyes barely open, is hit the button on the coffee grinder, and start filling the coffee maker with filtered water. My day doesn’t start without it. I like coffee in the morning before breakfast, in the afternoon with a cookie or two (or four if you must know), baked into fudge, cakes, used in barbecue sauce, as a rub on pork chops and steaks, and in this delicious Vietnamese Iced Coffee Ice Cream. Easy, festive, and a special treat for your friends over the holidays, make it now and store it in the freezer. I have an ice cream maker, and recommend everyone have one because they are so versatile, but if you don’t, you can easily pour this into a loaf pan and freeze it, and scoop your ice cream from there.
Café Sua Da (Vietnamese Iced Coffee Ice Cream)
Adapted from Cafe Fernando and David Lebovitz

1 cup espresso or very strong coffee
1 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup heavy cream or whole milk
Pinch of coarse ground coffee

Whisk to combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Chill until cold, and then process in your ice cream maker according to the instructions.

If you prefer chocolate ice cream, you will love Billie’s Chocolate Ice Cream.

This post contains affiliate links.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Santa's Favorite Christmas Cookies

Some of you may have been wondering where I’ve been. Others may not, but whether you have or you haven’t, I’m going to tell you anyway. I fell victim to a post-Thanksgiving funk. The weeks prior to Thanksgiving, I was like a woman possessed! I cleaned floors, windows, removed all of the slats in all of my blinds, washed them in the sink and replaced them. I cleaned my fan blades, registers, switch-plate covers, hardwood floors, and baseboards. The house looked and smelled so fresh. In addition to that of course, I made food, I set the table, I set up a [hugely successful] bar cart, the works! The day after Thanksgiving found me crumpled in a heap in the corner of the room. I’m not sure if it was all the work that I did ahead of time, or simply old age, but I didn’t feel like doing anything.

I ate leftovers for days on end. When the leftovers were gone, I started foraging in the freezer, microwaving icy casseroles, questionable pieces of meat, and anything else I could find in order to avoid cooking. I had no interest in doing anything.

But, today is December 1, and I have a new attitude. Number two son, Andrew, came over to visit me yesterday and helped me with things. What a difference it makes to have help. He got the Christmas tree upstairs and put together, he installed and activated dimmer switches, installed my ring doorbell (fitted with seasonal sensors and chimes), and made me feel a whole lot better about things.

Today as far as I’m concerned marks the beginning of cookie baking season, so in this post I’m going to share a baker's dozen of my favorite Christmas cookie recipes with you. Click on the name beneath each picture to get the recipe.

Now, let’s get baking!

This post contains affiliate links.