|February 13, 2019||Posted by Wendy Perry under cherries, chocolate, Mindless Mutterings from the Teacher's Lounge, party foods, published, sweet treats, Valentine's Day|
Published in Carolina Country Magazine ~ February 2018
I do love cherries! Any kind of cherries, but most especially, maraschino cherries. There’s just something about those bright red sweet little nuggets that take me back to my childhood in an instant.
I suppose my cherry affection is genetic. My Daddy Hocutt and Ma Hocutt, my mama’s mama and daddy, planted cherry trees in their back yard in Zebulon when they built their house back in the early 1950’s. It was only the 6th house built in the city limits best I remember them telling me. When I was born in 1958, they planted me a tree! My Daddy Hocutt died when I was only 8 years old… he had a massive heart attack and they went off the side of a remote mountain road near Charlottesville, VA coming back from vacation in Washington, DC. He died then and there, and Ma Hocutt was torn all to pieces and was “invalid” the rest of her life until she died at 91.
Ok… so back to the story. Every year, when the cherry trees would blossom, Daddy Hocutt would cover them with this gauze kinda cloth to keep the birds from eating our cherries! He would let me help him do that. And I can remember waiting impatiently for “my” cherries to ripen so we could pull that cloth back and eat cherries until I had a stomach ache. After he died, the trees all just wearied themselves away, but I do have a few short years of those memories.
We had a place in town called the Dairy Bar. One side served the BEST cheeseburgers, hot dogs… and milkshakes! The other little room had a jukebox and bar stools where the cool teenagers would go hang out and dance. Daddy Hocutt would sometimes take me in there for burgers and a shake.
Ma Hocutt loved a cherry milkshake too! And after a few years of recovery from their accident, she was able to drive again. She would ride over the the Watkins Dairy Bar, just a few blocks from her house, and toot the horn. They knew she wasn’t able to get out and walk in to order, so they’d just make a cherry milkshake… and take it out to her! If I went with her, I’d go in and order them… “2 cherry milkshakes please!”
They were in those big old waxed cups… white, with red lines around them and best I remember, hearts around the tops. And big ass straws!
God I loved those things! And to this day, still my favorite of all milkshakes, but it’s near’bout impossible to find a good cherry milkshake anymore!
Did you know that Dairy Queen… yep, the Dairy Queen, doesn’t have cherries?
How in the hell can you have a proper sundae, or banana split, without a cherry on top? Silliest thing I’ve ever heard tell of! Cherries are a staple of such.
Sooooo… when coming up with ideas for the February issue of Carolina Country, my mind immediately went to cherries! I also associate cherries with Valentine’s Day. And I created some really yummy chocolate cherry truffles for Our State magazine years back too. I will have to throw those here on my blog soon too.
But for now, for my maraschino cherry brothers and sisters… I encourage you to make these rice krispie treats! They are cherrylicious… fun to eat AND share. Grab some icing in those tubes and sprinkles and let your aspiring little culinarians get creative in decorating.
Y’all have a Happy Valentine’s Day too… I love you all for being here!
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 1 16 ounce bag mini marshmallows
- 5 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 16 ounce jar maraschino cherries, drained & chopped (save juice)
- 8 cup Rice Krispies® cereal
- 1 cup toasted almonds, crumbled
- decorating icing and sprinkles
- heart shaped cookie cutters
Melt butter in a heavy pot over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until melted. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, cherries and cereal.
Using a buttered spatula, fold together until well combined. Pour out onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet and spread to about 1-inch thickness. Cool.
Cut, decorate and dust with toasted almonds.
Very Cherry Vanilla Treats
Make basic recipe, stirring in 2 tablespoons of red cherry gelatin powder.
Black Forest Treats
Make basic recipe, substituting chocolate Rice Krispies cereal. Stir 1 cup of milk chocolate chips in with cereal.
Cherry Juice Goodness
Wait! Don’t pour out that delicious drained cherry juice leftover from this recipe. Use in frostings, whipped cream or cake batter. A splash makes your hot chocolate into “Chocolate Covered Cherry” hot chocolate and will turn your cola drinks into fun cherry ones. Use to make lemon or limeade cherry ice cubes, too.
|January 31, 2019||Posted by Wendy Perry under beverages, chocolate, published, warm beverages|
Make a batch of this decadent Coconutty Hot Chocolate mix to enjoy often — and share, too! Topped with a dollop of fluffy coconut whipped cream, this dairy-free delight is just what we all need at the end of a chilly winter day … pajamas not included.
|January 30, 2019||Posted by Wendy Perry under dressings, gluten free, honey, low carb, Mindless Mutterings from the Teacher's Lounge, published, salads, slaws and such, sensational sides, wendy's signature recipes|
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.
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.
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…
- 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
- 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
Peel the citrus fruits and cut into thin slices, removing any seeds. Place onto platter along with avocado.
Garnish with pomegranate seeds, nuts, pepper and sprigs of mint.
To make vinaigrette:
Put all ingredients in jar with lid and shake to blend. Best if made at least one hour ahead.
|January 27, 2019||Posted by Wendy Perry under bacon & belly, contest creations, gluten free, honey, published, roasted goodness, sensational sides|
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
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.
- 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
Preheat oven to 425. Scatter pieces of bacon on large roasting pan and place in oven while preheating.
Prepare pears and red onion and place into large mixing bowl. Stir in drained onions and rosemary.
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.
Combine honey and cinnamon.
Once this roasted goodness is removed from the oven, drizzle with the cinnamon honey. Scatter with toasted pine nuts and blue cheese. Serve immediately.
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!
|January 21, 2019||Posted by Wendy Perry under cornbread & hushpuppies, published, soups, stews, chilies chowders and such, sweet potatoes|
Crispy-on-the-outside and moist-in-the-middle, these hushpuppies featuring NC sweet potatoes are the perfect side dish for this clam chowder (or any bowl of your favorite soup). Great on a brunch table, too!