Category: gluten free

Winter Citrus Salad… with blood orange & red wine vinaigrette ~ Sunshine!

Published in Carolina Country Magazine… January 2018.

Winter Citrus Salad with blood orange & red wine vinaigrette

 

As I sit here on this really cold day, watching stories from temps in the midwest United States colder than Antarctica with records being broken, this salad came to mind. I created it for January 2018 issue of Carolina Country magazine… when citrus fruits are plentiful. Sure to break through the winter doldrums, this vibrant salad, both in taste and color, will break the monotony of heavy winter comfort foods, and offer a reminder of warm spring and summer days ahead. 

 

A few helpful hints:

Getting the arils (seeds) out of a pomegranate are not as challenging as one might think.  Don’t let that keep you from enjoying these tasty fruits. They are most plentiful and in season from November into the early part of the year.  Here are a couple of ways to get those crunchy little nuggets out in just a minute or two.

 

Seeding a Pomegranate in Water

Peeling and Seeding a Pomegranate

Pomegranates have all sorts of nutritional benefits.  Just do a quick google search to find a site you trust to “read all about it.”

When buying… look for smooth-skinned fruits that feel “heavy.” That means more juicy arils tucked inside!  They will keep for weeks in the refrigerator, and can even be frozen.

Ways to use pomegranate…

  • for a snack “as is”
  • on top of salads
  • scattered on yogurt
  • in grains and grain salads
  • in salsa and guacamole
  • over oatmeal
  • scattered over hummus
  • in cocktails and in champagne
  • over ice cream
  • in sauces spooned over grilled or sauteed meats
  • as a garnish for pureed vegetable soups
  • in relishes
  • tossed over vegetables like green beans or asparagus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What are blood oranges?
The blood orange is a variety of orange with crimson, almost blood-colored flesh. The distinctive dark flesh color is due to the presence of anthocyanins, a family of antioxidant pigments common to many flowers and fruit, but uncommon in citrus fruits. Chrysanthemin is the main compound found in red oranges.
Source:  Wikipedia 

The skin of blood oranges may be darker orange and “blood” toned like the flesh. It tends to be thicker also.  The flavor of a blood orange is different than your usual orange… some say it has raspberry undertones.  I don’t find that to be the case (I don’t care for raspberries but love blood oranges).  Due to growing conditions necessary for them, you will not find them year round.  Their season is from December to early spring.

When buying, look for those that feel “heavy.” Stay away from those that feel spongy.  They can be stored a couple of weeks in the refrigerator.  Use to spiff up winter salads or enjoy as is. Blood oranges have some great medicinal qualities too.  Just google to read from trusted sources.

Add these salad ingredients to your next grocery shopping list!  And add some sunshine to your table this week…

 

Winter Citrus Salad With Blood Orange & Red Wine Vinaigrette
Vibrant citrus fruits are plentiful in the dead of winter, and this is a great salad to brighten the dreariest of days. Don’t worry about exact measurements for salad ingredients. Use as much or as little as suits your fancy.
Course: Brunch, Dressings, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: blood orange, red wine vinaigrette, winter citrus salad
Author: Wendy Perry
Ingredients
  • 2 blood oranges
  • 2 naval oranges
  • 2 clementines or tangerines
  • 2 limes
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 grapefruit
  • seeds from one pomegranate
  • 1-2 avocados
  • 1 cup chopped pistachio nuts
  • freshly ground pepper (I like to use pink peppercorns for color)
  • fresh mint, optional
Vinaigrette
  • 1/2 cup grapeseed oil (or EVOO if preferred)
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon grapefruit juice
  • 2 tablespoons blood orange juice
  • 1 tablespoons blood orange zest
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried spearmint
  • pinch of salt
Instructions
  1. Peel the citrus fruits and cut into thin slices, removing any seeds. Place onto platter along with avocado.
  2. Garnish with pomegranate seeds, nuts, pepper and sprigs of mint.
  3. To make vinaigrette:
    Put all ingredients in jar with lid and shake to blend. Best if made at least one hour ahead.

Drop by my facebook community too!  

Sometimes you win… sometimes you lose! This time, I have a winner~ with Aunt Nellie’s!

Aunt Nellie’s Bacon & Rosemary Roasted Pears n’Onions… kissed with Cinnamon Honey ~ Aunt Nellie’s 2018 State Fair Cooking Contest ~ 3rd Place Sides/Salads Winner


I love entering cooking contests.  There’s rarely a win with so much great competition out there, but it’s fun coming up with ideas and getting in my kitchen to make what’s in my head come to life. But… every now and then, I end up with a winner, like my Aunt Nellie’s Bacon & Rosemary Roasted Pears n’Onions… kissed with Cinnamon Honey  

Aunt Nellie’s 2018 State Fair Contest Winners

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few months back, friend Lisa Prince, who knows my passion for both entering and judging cooking contests, sent me a note about Aunt Nellie’s “State Fair” Cooking Contest.  In case you don’t know, Aunt Nellie’s is a 90 year old company born in Wisconsin.  Their products now include six varieties of glass-packed beets, onions, three bean salad, and red cabbage.  Turns out, Aunt Nellie Jones (yep, there really was an Aunt Nellie) was a Home Economist like me… at the University of Wisconsin! And I didn’t realize until recently their first product was peas. 

The contest had 5 categories, and I spent a ton of time (not to mention money) creating, testing, styling and photographing a recipe for each category.  Of course, I surely was hoping for something more, (don’t we all?!?), but grateful for my 3rd place win in the “Sides and Salads” category.  The prize was $25 and a box full of Aunt Nellie’s products.  And I was very pleased with how this and all my recipes turned out. So maybe I will find other contests where I can tweak them and enter somewhere else since my entries are now the property of Aunt Nellie’s.  That is the downside of most contests. Their fine print in rules usually states that entries become the property of the company where you entered… they can publish, use, and even change the name of it!  

BUT… for those of you that don’t know but may be interested, recipes cannot be copyrighted. Processes to make a recipe can be, as are head notes/descriptives, but the recipe itself… nope. Anybody can take anybody else’s recipe and call it their own! But there is usually a way I can make revisions to a recipe to turn it into something else.  And like others, I sometimes get inspiration for a new recipe from another I run across. My goal is to always create something that hasn’t yet been done 1 or 100 ways. That can be challenging, but most ideas in my crazy head are unique.
I don’t know I will do that (revamp) with my Aunt Nellie’s entries… but I did come up with a few mighty fine recipes and it would be a shame not to share some day!

The Aunt Nellie’s categories were…
Appetizers, Salads/Sides, Soups, Main Dishes and Desserts/Sweets. 

So… one of these days, if I tweak my other entries, I’ll share those too.  And since most contests prohibit entries that have been previously published, I’ll refrain from sharing them now in case I tweak to enter somewhere else.  For now, I will enjoy this win as I’m sure there were hundreds, if not more, entries in the contest, and to be one of 15 is an accomplishment I’m tickled to enjoy!  I “beet” out a many a fine cook for this honor and am excited to share with you… be sure not to miss my recipe down below.

I do hope you will pick up some Aunt Nellie’s Onions and make this really easy recipe and if you do, come over to my facebook community and tell me all about it!

Aunt Nellie’s Bacon & Rosemary Roasted Pears n’Onions… kissed with Cinnamon Honey
We all love tasty speedy side dishes and this one can be thrown together in the time it takes to preheat your oven. This rustic sweet and savory combo is perfect alongside roasted meats. Roast a pork tenderloin at the same time for a complete supper. Or, turn it into a warm wilted salad by drizzling in a bit of balsamic vinegar when done and while hot, tossing with a big bowl of fresh spinach. No matter how you serve it, it’s sure to please… especially when BACON is involved! 
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: roasted pears and onions, bacon, aunt nellie's
Author: Wendy Perry
Ingredients
  • 8 sliced bacon, cut into 1/2" pieces
  • 4 pears, unpeeled-cored and cut into 8 wedges
  • 1 large red onion, peeled, quartered and sliced
  • 1 15-ounce jar Aunt Nellie's Holland-Style Onions, drained
  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary, crumbled with fingers
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425. Scatter pieces of bacon on large roasting pan and place in oven while preheating.  
  2. Prepare pears and red onion and place into large mixing bowl. Stir in drained onions and rosemary.
  3. Once oven has heated and bacon fat has started rendering, remove and pour bacon and drippings over pear mixture. Toss to coat well. Spread out onto hot pan and roast for about 30 minutes, tossing every 10 minutes, until onions and pears are caramelized and bacon is cooked. 
  4. Combine honey and cinnamon.

  5. Once this roasted goodness is removed from the oven, drizzle with the cinnamon honey. Scatter with toasted pine nuts and blue cheese. Serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

Another Serving Suggestion: 

For a rustic salad, while warm, toss the pear and onion mixture into a big bowl of fresh spinach to “wilt,” drizzle with the cinnamon honey and some great balsamic vinegar.  Scatter with the pine nuts and blue cheese. Also great alongside roasted chicken, turkey, pork or grilled steaks!

 

 

 

 

 

…not your usual St. Patrick’s Day celebration!

Okie Dokie… so my blog is getting a sloowwww start!  Life has a way of keeping us bizzzzy, which is one reason I even contemplated doing a blog for a couple of years (!) before heading into blog fog.  So don’t worry about my posts becoming invasive and ‘too much’ because I don’t think THAT is gonna be an issue… 

This week, St. Patty’s Day to be exact, is a special day for me.  Nope, I’m not Irish, but it is a day of celebration for me because…
March 17th is my Personal Day of Freedom Celebration! 

This March 17th, I’m dance’n a jig as I look back on being a ‘former’ smoker… my QUIT DATE was March 17th, 2005!
WoW…6 y.e.a.r.s it’s been!

My precious little nephew Wyatt came into my world the previous September, and as much as I wanted to quit before he arrived, I just couldn’t (or more like “didn’t”).  But as he grew, I didn’t want his little senses to be subjected to something even I found disgusting!  I didn’t want him to SEE me smoking… I didn’t want him to SMELL the nasty stinch on my clothes… so I did it!  Just six months after God blessed our family with him, I QUIT!  And haven’t had or wanted so much as a puff since that day…  So St. Patty’s Day will always be ‘my day,’ the day I started smelling better… breathing better… living better… and tasting foods ‘more better!’

Speaking of tasting… I found this recipe, or some form of it, years ago visiting the home of a personal chef colleague in Dallas, TX.  While hanging out in Donna’s kitchen and browsing through her cookbooks, I came upon this soup in a book I made note of as “Sensibly Thin.”  So that’s the best I have to offer in terms of giving credit where credit is due… but the picture is my own.  It was taken before I started learning ‘more better’ food photography tips… so ‘scuse the poor quality!

This week, grocery stores have the usually expensive Corned Beef Roasts on sale, so it’s a great time to pick one (or a few) up and crock pot tomorrow while at work for a tradtional Corned Beef and Cabbage supper tomorrow night.

Then, in a few days, stir up a pot of this really DEE-lish soup with the leftovers! (And y’all know I’m a ‘throw cooker’ so throw leftever cabbage into this soup too…just yet one more layer of flavor.)  It’s incredibly easy and fast to make and probably not a soup you’ve made before…  Sooooo 

celebrate something… if nothing but simply being alive with a roof over your head that a big fat wave didn’t just swoosh over, taking away everything you treasure and need to live each day, including loved ones.

With the events this past week in Japan, this Irish Blessing seems to be the appropriate one… so let us all stop to count our blessings today, and every day!
Blessings to your and yours…

Bless This House

Bless this house, o Lord, we pray.
Make it safe by night and day.
Bless these walls so firm and stout,
Keeping want and trouble out.
Bless the roof and chimney tall,
Let thy peace lie over all.
Bless the doors that they may prove
Ever open to joy and love.
Bless the windows shining bright,
Letting in God’s heavenly light.
Bless the hearth a-blazing there,
With smoke ascending like a prayer.
Bless the people here within…
Keep them pure and free from sin.
Bless us all, that one day, we
May be fit, O lord, to dwell with Thee.

Speaking of GROCERY stores… gotta run now… our *new* Piggly Wiggly store opened in town today (wheeee doggies!)… headed there right now!  Stay tuned… may be a blog post over there somewhere…. hope y’all enjoy this soup, just perfect for chilly winter’s eve on the doorstep of SPRING!!

 

 

 

 

 

This is the original recipe I created, but like my makeover one even better… that is the one you’ll find on the “Print Recipe” page!  Enjoy one, the other or both… or one you create with a little of both!!

Reuben Soup

Cream of Reuben Soup (original recipe…see edited below)

Serving Size: 8

1      small        onion — chopped
2      cloves       garlic — minced
1      large         carrot — shredded
3      T.              cornstarch*
6      c.               chicken broth
1      c.               skim milk (I use 1/2 and 1/2)
10    oz.              corned beef brisket — chopped
…from some you cooked or deli sliced
(more is a ‘good thang’)
8      oz.              Bavarian sauerkraut — drained and rinsed
(I just ‘throw in’ an entire can)
1/2  t.               thyme (I throw in a bit more)
1/4  t.               white pepper
1/4  t.               tarragon
1         t.              Old Bay Seasoning
1/3  c.              water (only if needed for consistency)
8      oz.               shredded Swiss cheese
Rye or Pumpernickel Bread (for croutons) – omit or sub for gluten free
…broken into pieces and toasted**

Cook onion, garlic and carrot in microwave-safe bowl on HI for 2 mins.  Drain.
Blend in cornstarch.  Add broth and milk.  Cook on stove over med. heat until thickens.
Add remaining ingredients and cook until cheese melts.
Serve with rye bread or croutons.
* Use a pure gluten free cornstarch to keep GF.

** I love breads, but living alone, I never eat an entire loaf.  So when I buy a loaf of rye or pumpernickel, I put some in freezer to have on hand for a change of pace sandwich or for croutons for soups like this.  If wrapped well, bread will last a longggg time in your freezer.  These breads also can be used in recipes that call for bread crumbs… think outside the usual box and use a different kind of bread to give your recipe needing bread crumbs a new and different layer of flavor!

 

Cream of Reuben Soup (edited)

As a throw cooker, it’s rare that things are the same any 2 times… that is especially true when it comes to soup.  I just made this recipe again, but with the following changes… basically an entirely “same but different” soup!  Both recipes are DEElish… but I think I’m partial to this one.  Just make some, and if you don’t have any one or more of these ingredients, as long as it is similar, you’ll be sure to enjoy the experience!
NOTE:  This recipe is Gluten Free if croutons are deleted or subbed with gluten free bread or cracker!  Also, use a gluten free pure cornstarch to thicken if desired.

Creamy Reuben Soup

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 2 hours

Total Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes

Yield: 8 servings

Creamy Reuben Soup

What to throw together...

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 3-4 tablespoons oil (I used garlic oil but use your fav)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large turnip, small dice
  • 4 leeks, washed and sliced into thin rings
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, (not peeled) small dice
  • 3 tablespoons garlic puree (I use the puree in tubes from produce dept)
  • 1 14.4 oz can Bavarian Sauerkraut
  • 1 fresh corned beef (3-4 lbs.), cooked and chopped )I cook in crock pot overnight)
  • 2 tablespoons dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon white pepper
  • Shredded Swiss Cheese
  • 8-12 sliced rye or pumpernickel bread (I use rye/pump swirl bread), cut into cubes and toasted

How to throw together...

  1. Cook onion, turnip, leeks and apple in butter and a bit of oil until tender and starting to brown and caramelize in saute pan.
  2. Pour into heated crock pot.
  3. Stir in garlic puree, kraut, corned beef, thyme and white pepper.
  4. Fill kraut can with chicken broth x 2 and with half and half x 2.
  5. Stir to blend and cover.
  6. Heat in crock pot on HIGH until hot and dried thyme is tender.
  7. Scoop into serving bowls. Top with grated Swiss and toasted croutons. EAT!

Notes

If preferred, make a cornstarch slurry with a bit of the juice and stir back into the soup to thicken. To keep gluten free, use a pure/gluten free cornstarch or thickener.

…a “Date with Cherry!”

Goodness gracious, February has evaporated!  My grandmas surely were right about that “time flying” thing when you’re “seasoned.”  (I strive to abstain from using the word old, older or any derivative of it.)  I surely don’t wish my life away, BUT, I cannot tell a lie (doesn’t that have some sort of relationship with cherry trees?)… I’m mighty glad to be seeing winter quickly moving into the rear view mirror.

I’m a Spring Chick!  The R A I N BO W spring brings makes me giddy.  I love looking upward to see GREEN buds on a palate of BLUE sky… and gazing down to see YELLOW buttercups already making their debut in my yard… I start looking forward to cute little roadside signs, often hand-painted, letting me know it’s time for RED strawberries…  and grin when I see Lavender chive blossoms burst open for my salads (although I mostly enjoy chomping on them right out there in the yard).  But there is one color I dread come spring… the glaring WHITE on my winterized legs!  Now I’ve never been a sun worshiper (boring!) and I do make sure to use sun protection, but I must admit that I do feel a little better with a tad of color when debuting shorts, skirts and skorts come Spring.

Soooo, back to saying buh-bye to February.  Being that it’s National Cherry Month AND being that cherries in any shape, form or fashion are about my FAV fruit, I couldn’t “march’ forward without some sort of cherry treat.  My foodie friends know I’m the quintessential NON-baker, so as I looked about for inspirations, “no bake” recipes screamed w.e.n.d.y.! I’m also not one of those folks who cannot exist without sweet stuff, so this concoction realllly got me out of the proverbial ‘box.’   But when I started digging to see what I had on hand to create a new masterpiece, a “no bake sweet treat” is what emerged.  I hope you enjoy making these FAST goodies as much as I did…
(“fast” + “EZ” + “no bake” = My Kind ‘o Throw Together Goodie)!


“A Date With Cherry”
…cherry chocolate chip date nut balls

…a recipe by Wendy Perry
Yield:  1 dozen
Prep Time:  less than 10 minutes

1      c.               asst. nuts/pieces* (salted or unsalted)
pinch of salt    (if your nuts are unsalted)
1/2  c.              dried cherries, unsweetened
3/4  c.              dates (whole or pieces)
1/4  t.               almond extract (Watkins)
1/4  t.               vanilla extract (Watkins)
2      T.              water (or if for adults, Amaretto, vanilla or cherry rum or chocolate liquer)
1/2  c.               mini chocolate chips
1/2  c.               flaked coconut (half toasted)**

* This is a great recipe to use up those tidbits of nuts because a mixture is a ‘good thing’ in this recipe.
For recipe creation, I used pecans, walnuts and some macadamia nut pieces (previously toasted for another recipe).

Throw your nuts and salt into a food processor and whiz until fine crumbs.  Throw cherries, dates, extracts and water (or alcohol) in and pulse until you have an ooey gooey paste.  With a spatula, fold in the chocolate chips.

Pinch mixture and make 1″ balls.  Roll in coconut and place into freezer to firm up for about an hour.  Keep chilled.

**Toast coconut in non-stick pan until some is toasted and some isn’t so you have a half-n-half mix.  Bu doing this, you’ll get a nice “chew” with the bits that haven’t toasted, yet a nice toasty crunch with the flakes that are toasted.

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Popcorn & Vintage Candy Bar! Fun for all…

 

Guests both young and old will love this fun festive popcorn and vintage candy bar!


Over 3+ decades of catering, I did many a party of every description… for young and old alike!  When my friend Jim called me to throw a surprise 50th for his wife, we talked about several themes, and ended up doing a variety of fun stations and bars, each features local and NC products.  There was a hot dog bar, hot and cold corn on the cob station, pickle tub, pimento cheese and field pea caviar area and for dessert… a blueberry and strawberry shortcake bar too.  Since there was a bunch of kiddos coming, he wanted something fun for them, so I did a great big table of old fashioned candies, peanuts and all sorts of popcorns with spicy shakes for those who wanted theirs spiffed up a bit.

Shake your popcorn…

Since Sunday was “National Business of Popping Corn Day”  (and forgot to post this then), I figured this would be a good time to share this popcorn bar!  With the holidaZe on the way and gatherings of friends and family, this would be a fun, budget-friendly and quick idea for your entertaining… 

Folks of all ages love popcorn and vintage candies.  Just keep it simple… pop corn or buy it in a big old tin… add some kettle, caramel and candied corns.  See what you have in your spice cabinet, or pick up some fun salts and seasonings. I’m a big fan of Savory Spice Shop and shop often at the Raleigh location, but they have other stores all over.  Or you can just shop online and have goodies sent right to your door!

Throw a sheet of burlap or something festive over a table… sit boxes of various heights up under there so you can put your containers at different levels on your table!  If it’s in a dark corner, don’t forget to sit a lamp on the table.  The light will give your display a “pop” and draw folks to it. 

TIP:  Do that with all your tables!  Lighting creates beautiful ambiance for your food displays, not to mention, it helps your guests see what they are getting in dimly lit areas. 

It’s also helpful to make little folded cards to sit by your foods for that same reason.  You can make with stickers right onto notecards or any number of ways.

Pick up some festive “take home bags” for folks to take a goodie bag with them so you’re not stuck with leftovers…

Enjoy your holiday season, and have FUN!  If you do a popcorn (or any other) bar, please do snap a picture and send me!  I’d love to share your ideas here with others.