Thursday, December 29, 2011

Strawberry Carrot Smoothie

Smoothie's have been a huge hit in our house lately.  It has been a great way to load up on fruits and veggies.  We also got a really awesome blender from Costco. It's the Ninja Professional one. It's the next step down from the Blend Tech and the Vita Mix, and way cheaper!

Turning raw fruits and veggies into smoothies is way better for you than just juicing.  When you juice, you lose the fiber. This way you are still getting the raw fruits and vegetables. If you have a rough time with the texture, you can always steam the fruits and veggies and it will help them to be less grainy and more creamy.  You can lose some nutrients that way, but it's better than most juices and smoothies.  Also, add in the leftover juices from steaming and that will add some flavor and nutrients back in. (substitute that for milk or other liquid)

Strawberry Carrot Smoothie

25 frozen Strawberries
2 carrots peeled and cubed
2 cups liquid (I used 1 cup milk and 1 cup water)
1/2 C sugar (or to taste)

Toss all ingredients in blender. Blend until smooth.

Tip: if you are steaming the strawberries and carrots... you may want to add in ice to thicken it up and get it cold again.  You may also need less liquid

Monday, December 26, 2011

World's Best Caramels

My mother in law shared this caramel recipe with me a few years ago. It has been a yearly Plastow tradition to make these puppies.  They are so delicious.  I have never tasted anything better.

The first thing you need to do before starting this recipe, is pull out a good book or put on a good movie, cause you'll be at the stove for a while.  They key to making these shine, is the slow process.  Plan on anywhere from 1-2 hours depending on your stove.  Trust me, it's worth it!

The Most important thing to remember...Each pan and thermometer is different, so you'll need to test it out a little to make sure the right temperature to get it to. The best way to check is to drop the mixture into a bowl of ice water and let it sit for a couple seconds until cooled.  Then pull it out and check it's consistency. Too runny, keep it boiling,  just right... it's done, too hard... take it right off the stove and tell them it's supposed to be that way :)

The Worlds Best Caramels

2 c. Sugar
2 C. Whipping cream, not whipped
2 C. Dark Karo Syrup
1 Square unsalted butter

Mix sugar, syrup and 1 c. cream. Stir constantly and boil until it reaches 260 degrees. Set off stove and add 1 cup cream. Stir cream in and boil again but do NOT stir anymore. Get back up to 260 degrees. Take off stove and stir in butter. Pour into buttered cake size pan and let cool. For dipping caramels, you can use the same recipe and steps only stop at 230 degrees at both points instead of 260.

(My pot seems to work better at about 250 degrees instead of 260)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Easy Egg Salad

I think this is the first thing I'd ever made without a recipe.  It's no Creme Brule but hey I was 16!  I used to work for a place called the Flight Deck Cafe.  One day the owner told me to make a batch of egg salad.  He told me what went in it, but no measurements, and left me at it. So I created my very own version. Everyone said that mine was way better than any other. I had one customer that would come in faithfully and order a bowl of egg salad.  She said it didn't need any bread it was so good.  She would just eat it with a spoon.  If that doesn't make a teenage girl feel like a million bucks, I don't know what does.

Easy Egg Salad

5 Eggs (hard boiled and smashed with a fork)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

Combine all ingredients and serve on bread or eat with a spoon.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Mama Mia’s Minestrone Soup

I was first exposed to Minestrone soup when I tried it on a whim at Olive Garden a couple of years ago. I really enjoyed it. I came across this recipe about a year ago and fell in love with it!  The bacon really adds a delicious flavor. 

I adapted this recipe from Real Mom Kitchen.  I just use a good Italian seasoning instead of the different amounts of each herb. Make sure that it contains thyme, oregano and basil in it.  I got a good one from Costco.

Mama Mia’s Minestrone Soup

1/2 lb bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup celery chopped

Saute the onion and celery in bacon grease until tender.

2 cans Petite Diced Tomatoes
2 cans beef broth
2 small cans tomato juice
1 can northern white beans, drained and rinsed
1 can green beans, UNDRAINED
3 carrots, cut into chunks
2 cups shredded cabbage (not the pre-cut coleslaw mix, it’s too stringy when cooked)
2 cups of water
2 tsp Italian seasoning (make it a good one)

Bring the above ingredients to a boil, then reduce to simmer.  Simmer until vegetables are tender.  Then add:

1 cup of macaroni (rotini or shells work well)
Cook until macaroni is tender.  Top each bowl with Parmesan cheese to serve.