Saturday, June 29, 2013

Tropical Hibiscus Cooler

3 hibiscus tea bags
1/2 cup sugar
4 cups pineapple juice
6oz white rum, optional
1/2 cup, plus 1 Tbs light coconut milk
6 fresh pineapple slices, for garnish
fresh mint sprigs, for garnish

1) Steep tea bags in 1 1/2 cups boiling water for 15 minutes. Strain and discard tea bags; transfer liquid to saucepan. Stir in sugar, and return liquid to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and boil for 15 minutes, or until liquid is reduced by half. Transfer to a bowl, and place in freezer for 10 minutes, or until mixture is syrupy.
2) Fill glassess with ice. Pour 2/3 cup pineapple juice and 1oz rum (if using) into each glass. Add 1 1/2 Tbs coconut milk, and drizzle 2 Tbs hibiscus syrup over coconut milk. Garnish with pineapple slice and mint sprig.

Review: I was lucky to find hibiscus tea on sale at Whole Foods tonight. The recipe suggested Red Zinger, but I've recently heard news about the brand and pesticide use. So, I decided to leave out the rum, as I'm making it for a mixed-age party. That way, everyone can enjoy it. I also dumped it all into a pitcher, since I'm serving it as a punch and not a pretty mixed drink. Somehow, the red tea, white milk and yellow juice combined to make a purple punch. Weird.

Adapted from:

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Chunky Artichoke & Chickpea Salad

1 12oz bag of frozen artichoke hearts, thawed, or 1 16oz can artichoke hearts, drained
1 12oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup chopped cornichons (French baby pickles)
1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp capers
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp seafood seasoning, such as Old Bay (or Penzey's Fox Point Seasoning)
1 tsp Dijon mustard

1) Pulse all ingredients in food processor until chunky.
2) Season with salt and pepper, if desired.
3) Chill at least 30 minutes, or overnight.

Review: As a vegetarian, I've lacked an alternative to chicken or tuna salad sandwiches. I've had this particular recipe for a few years, but have frequently chickened out of making it. I finally got brave and made it tonight, spreading it on sandwich thins. I had left my frozen artichoke hearts in the fridge all day to defrost, but they were still pretty frosty. This allowed my salad to be cold right out of the food processor, so I didn't have to wait for dinner! I had two sandwiches and admonished myself for not having made it sooner. It was very filling and had a consistency similar to what I remember from the meat-based salads (though it's been well over 20 years since I've had those!!). The capers, cornichons and Dijon mustard gave the salad a 'kick' - which left me very glad to leave the 1/2 onion out that was recommended. I have plenty of salad left in the fridge and will be feasting for the next few days. I will be making this every summer!!

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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Basil & Corn Farro Salad

1 (8.5oz) package precooked farro
1 1/2 Tbs sherry vinegar
2 Tbs olive oil, divided
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
1/2 cup chopped basil

1) Heat farro according to package directions.
2) Combine vinegar, 1 Tbs olive oil, Dijon mustard, salt, pepper and garlic in a medium bowl; stir with a whisk.
3) Heat 1 Tbs olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add corn to the pan; saute 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
4) In a large bowl, add cooked farro, corn and basil. Add the vinaigrette and toss to coat.

Review: This recipe originated in the Cooking Light magazine. I don't subscribe to that, so I think this was one of the recipes that get forwarded to me by my in-laws (thanks!). It was my first introduction to farro. The recipe states precooked farro is made by Archer Farms, which is the Target store brand. Always nice to snag a bargain, but I didn't find this at my local Target. Instead I got a great deal on some farro at Trader Joe's, but I had to cook it. It's really fairly easy to cook and takes about 10-12 minutes. It reminds me a lot of puffed wheat cereal. It was a great grain to use in a salad. This particular salad was on the spicy side. I subbed red wine vinegar for the sherry vinegar (I didn't have that variety), which added to the tang. Primarily, the 'heat' came from the mustard, basil and garlic. It had a great flavor and made a lot of food. It's also tasty served cold, making it a nice summer salad for cookouts!

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Monday, June 10, 2013

Southwestern Quinoa With Black Beans & Toasted Pecans

1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 Tbs plus 1 tsp olive oil, divided
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced (1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs), divided
1 1/2 cups red quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 avocado, sliced
2 Tbs, plus 1 tsp orange juice, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 15.5oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup coarsely chopped toasted pecans

1) Combine salt, cumin, coriander and cinnamon in small bowl.
2) Heat 2 Tbs oil in saucepan over medium-low heat. Add 1/2 cup green onions, cover and cook 5 minutes, or until softened. Stir in cumin mixture, then quinoa. Add 2 cups water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer 18 to 20 minutes, or until spiral-like germ is visible. Remove from heat, and fluff. Place folded paper towel over quinoa, cover pot with lid and let stand 5 minutes. Transfer to bowl.
3) Place avocado slices on plate, and drizzle with 1 tsp orange juice and 1 tsp oil. Season with salt, if desired.
4) Heat remaining 1 Tbs oil in skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and saute 30 seconds. Stir in remaining 2 Tbs orange juice, then black beans. Cover and cook 2 minutes, or until warmed through. Stir bean mixture into quinoa. Stir in pecans. Serve garnished with avocado, remaining 2 Tbs green onions and pecans.

Review: Oh, I got lazy with this one. I found a stray box of quinoa in the cabinet. I reviewed my collected recipes and settled on this, even though I had ordinary quinoa and not the red stuff. I also didn't have scallions. And, I didn't realize my pecans were supposed to be toasted (seriously, it's in the title, but I'm used to the first step of a recipe saying "toast the nuts"). Despite my issues, this was an incredibly delicious recipe! It had a slightly fragrant taste due to the cinnamon and coriander, but in a perfectly balanced way. It was still savory and VERY filling. It was also pretty easy to make, with lots of protein!

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