Thursday, May 22, 2008

Strawberry Lemonade

You know, it really isn't THAT much harder to make beverages FROM SCRATCH versus mixing a few glubs of powder into water. Really. It isn't.

And REALLY! It tastes SO much more refreshing. And it costs less. And it is healthier to use 'real stuff'. AND, it is way more elegant to say "Ah yes, Dah-ling. But of course this is made from scratch!" than to say, " Yup. I just threw a few bits of powder har and added water ober dar. You got a problem wid it? hehe. Totally joking, of course, on the last bit.

But. If ever you DO want to try something a bit more exotic, than I am sure you will find the results worthwhile.

First, put about 1 or 2 cups water in a saucepan and turn that baby up full throttle until the water boils. When that happens, add two cup of sugar and remove from heat: stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Put into a gallon pitcher and add 2 cups lemon juice. If you were to add the rest of the water now, you'd get yourself some right tasty, Plain 'Ole Lemonade. But. We want strawberries to perk it up a bit.

Next: Take a bag of frozen strawberries, and defrost half of them, then blend them to a PULP with your blender.

Add the pureed strawberries to the pitcher and mix, then fill the Gallon jug up with cold water and maybe a few icecubes (if you want.)

Then-take another pitcher or jug and pour your Strawberry Lemonade slowly through a fine mesh strainer into the serving pitcher or jug. This will strain out the seeds and large bits of pulp to give you a nice, smooth, refreshing drink.

Mmm Mmm Good.
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Jalapeno Jelly

*** Listen Here People: Do NOT discount this recipe if you don't like spicy things. Don't do it. Just DON'T DO IT! I have a FRAGILE tongue and I baby my tastebuds and even I love this. Please, make it. Try it. It will NOT disappoint you!***

This jelly sounds so spicy! In truth, I made it for my husband and never even opted to tastetest it myself. Then, I had some company who I knew loved SPICY things, so I brought out a jar, never intending to actually try it. But they gushed and gushed-eventually, I couldn't help myself. It is a teeny bit sweet and if eaten on it's own has a teeny bite at the end. BUT-if you put it on a cracker slathered with some cream cheese, there isn't any BITE at all-just sweet with incredible flavor!

Not to mention, it is handy to have on your shelf for unexpected company and it pretty enough to give away as gifts!

Here is the recipe, taken from the Ball Blue Book

3/4 pound jalapeno peppers
2 cups cider vinegar, divided
6 cups sugar
2 pouches liquid pectin
Green food coloring, optional

Wash peppers, drain. Remove stems and seeds. Puree peppers and 1 cup vinegar in a food processor or blender. Combine puree, 1 cup vinegar and sugar in large saucepot. Bring to a boil, and boil for 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in liquid pectin. Return to a rolling boil. Boil hard 1 minute, again, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim foam if necessary. Stir in a few drops of food coloring, if desired. Ladle hot jelly into hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Adjust two-piece caps. Process 10 minutes in a hot water bath canner.

Note: Wear rubber gloves when cutting or seeding hot peppers-and never ABSOLUTELY never rub eyes-if if they might turn all watery. ;-()

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Chive spread

Have you ever had those packaged crackers that are filled with 'Cream Cheese and Chives"? I decided it was high time I figured out how to make those myself so I created this dip using the plentiful chives out of my front door. When I served it, along with crackers, at a recent shower, it was gone in a flash. You might want to double the recipe.

You'll need:

4 oz. cream cheese
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. minced onion
about one T. snipped fresh chives.

Mix first three ingredients with an electric mixer. When smooth, snip chives and stir. Garnish with a purple Chive flowerhead. Serve with crackers.

(Yield: about 1/2 cup)
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Maple Cream

Delicious creme to accompany fruit!

1 oz. cream cheese
1 c. heavy whipping cream
1 T. confectioners sugar
1 t. Maple extract (or maple syrup)

Beat cream cheese until smooth in consistency and then add heavy whipping cream. Beat this until thickened a bit. Add 1 T. confectioners sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Then add 1 t. Maple flavoring.

For an extra special presentation, cut strawberries into quarters being careful not to cut the whole way through and fill with creme.

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Pita Pocket Chicken Salad

My trip to Indiana was very productive-even resulting in a few new (and already well-used) recipes. These next three recipes are thanks to Mrs. Bibby with an adaptation here and there.

2 cups cubed cooked chicken
1 ½ cups seedless red grapes, halved
1 cup chopped cucumber
1/2 cup sliced almonds
¾ cup mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup Kraft poppy seed salad dressing
6 pita breads (6 inches), halved
Leaf lettuce, optional

In a large bowl, combine the chicken, grapes, cucumber, almonds and mozzarella cheese. Add dressing and toss to coat (You may want more or less, depending upon your preferences..)

Line pita breads with lettuce if desired; fill with chicken salad. Yield: 6 servings

Mexican Lasagna

I first tasted this while visiting friends and it was so delicious I have made it several times since. So really-I stole her recipe but adapted it slightly to suit our family. The only real difference is that my host made it with noodles and I opt for tortillas. Seems to me tortillas finish off the 'Mexican' theme...AND they require NO prep and no addition cooking time! Can't beat that! But it really is delicious-no matter what you choose!

You'll need:

1 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic (or ¼ t. granulated garlic)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 cups cubed cooked chicken
3 cans (10 ounces) enchilada sauce (I used 2 red and 1 green)
2 eggs
1 carton (15 ounces) ricotta cheese
½ cup minced fresh cilantro
6 soft flour tortillas (or you could opt for noodles)
4 cups (16 ounces) shredded Mexican cheese blend

In a large skillet, cook onion and garlic in oil over medium heat until tender. Stir in chicken and enchilada sauce. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes or until slightly thickened.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the eggs, ricotta cheese and cilantro. Spread ¾ cup chicken mixture into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking dish. Layer with two slightly overlapping tortillas, 2/3 cup ricotta mixture, ¾ cup chicken mixture and 1 cup shredded cheese. Repeat layers twice. Top with remaining tortillas, sauce and shredded cheese.

Cover and bake 375o for 30 minutes. Uncover; bake 10-15 minutes longer or until bubbly. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting.

Yield: 10-12 servings

Ruby Relaxer

This is a tasty drink-and man, does it go down smooth!

If you like it strong, go with the 3 T. each, if you like to pare it down a bit- just use 2T. of each. I think it is delicious either way.

3 T. Malibu coconut rum
3 T. Vodka
3 T. Peachtree Schnaps
5 T. Cranberry Juice
6 oz. Pineapple Juice

Mix and fill remainder of glass with ice.