Monthly Archives: February 2014

Coconut Macaroons

cmToday, my church friends and I are in the midst of preparing for the annual Spaghetti Lunch and Dessert Auction. It’s a tremendous amount of fun. So many very creative bakers spend a lot of time planning the most amazing cakes. The youth serve us lunch. It’s a great time.

This year, in addition to the Oreo Stuffed Brownies and a couple other things, I decided to make some Coconut Macaroons. I thought it would be nice to make something gluten and chocolate free for the sale table. I’ve never made macaroons before but they were very easy and fast! The recipe below is from The Joy of Cooking.

Coconut Macaroons
1- 7 or 8 oz. bag moist coconut shreds
2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
2 egg whites, beaten to stiff peaks

1. Combine coconut, sweetened condensed milk, salt and vanilla.
2. If you haven’t done it, yet beat the egg whites to stiff peaks. You’ll be done when you pull the beaters out and there is a little tower of egg white that doesn’t fall down.
3. Fold the egg whites into the coconut mixture.
4. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes until golden brown around the edges.

If I had some lime extract, I would have added a bit of that too. Another citrus extract would be good as well. Because I was striving to make something without chocolate and gluten, I had to fight the urge to dip these in chocolate. It goes without saying that they would be magnificent like that. And with the right Kosher for Passover ingredients, these would be a great homemade Passover treat, too!

My macaroons are all wrapped up in trios in little purple cellophane bags with green bows.

Time to get back to the kitchen! Enjoy!

Tomatillo, Chorizo and Corn Soup

tccIn my continuing series of recipes that remind me of warmer times, tonight I return to the Tomatillo. A member of the Nightshade family that thrives in North America, the tomatillo resembles a green tomato. It’s covered with a paper husk, and when cut open, is a little more dense than the tomato and has more seeds. The tomatillo has a slightly citrusy flavor. Some describe it’s flavor as similar to the green tomato.

I bought quite a few tomatillos a couple weeks ago and still had six left. I decided to make…

Tomatillo, Chorizo and Corn Soup
2 cups broth
6 tomatillos, husk removed and cut into quarters
1 poblano pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 – 1 lb chorizo, chopped and cooked
1 cup corn

1. Combine the first three ingredients in a blender and blend until they reach your desired consistency. I blended until my mixture was just shy of a puree. Set aside.
2. Cook your sausage until done.
3. Add the broth mixture and corn and heat.

You can serve this topped with some nice sharp cheddar. It would also be great with a wedge of lime. If your looking for an adult beverage to serve with this, it’s screaming to be served up with a Corona with lime.

Look at how lovely and green it is! Isn’t it beautiful?

28 days until spring! Enjoy!

Asparagus and Brie Orzo

aboSince spring won’t come to me, I will go to it. I made a lovely smoothie this week with one of my favorite fruits of spring; the strawberry. Today, I made some fantastic orzo with my favorite vegetable of spring; asparagus. And I threw in some brie because brie is French, and France in spring is also very nice.

Asparagus and Brie Orzo
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup or so chopped leek or onion
salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups orzo
3 cups broth
2 tbsp butter
2-3 cups asparagus, chopped and cooked for 4 minutes in the microwave
1/3 cup brie with the rind removed, cut in chunks

1. Heat the olive oil on medium in a pan big enough to hold all the ingredients.
2. Add garlic and leeks or onion and cook thoroughly.
3. Pour uncooked Orzo into the pan and stir around until coated with the oil, etc.
4. Add a half of the broth and cook on low until the broth is absorbed by the orzo. Stir a lot!
5. Add the rest of the broth and, still on low, cook until that’s also absorbed. Keep stirring! The orzo should look creamy and be soft. If it’s too hard, add 1/2 cup more broth or water and continue cooking until the liquid is absorbed. That should be enough.
6. Add butter and cheese. Stir until incorporated.
7. Stir in the prepared asparagus.

This looked and smelled so good, I could have eaten it right out of the pan. My Faithful Assistant agreed. He really enjoyed it a lot.

We had this with some salmon that I was not very creative with but that was just fine. The two dishes complimented each other very well. I could see this making a very nice start to a new Easter tradition.

For variations, you can add some white wine in place of some of the broth. You can also add a little less asparagus and use a little chopped red pepper in its place.

31 days until spring! We can do this!



Strawberry Orange Smoothie

sosIt’s nice to see strawberries back in the store. It’s a pleasant reminder that spring can’t be too far away. I normally wouldn’t buy them this early, but I needed them for a birthday cake. Then I decided they would make a great addition to a smoothie.

Strawberry Orange Smoothie
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup non fat yogurt
1 orange, peeled and sectioned
1 cup strawberries, cut up as needed for your blender
1/2 scoop vanilla whey protein

1. Put the ingredients in the blender in the order listed.
2. Start blending on low and gradually increase to high.
3. Serve!

If you find that your smoothies are getting very frothy, it helps to leave them on a lower setting for a little longer, especially if you are adding greens.

No veggies hidden in this smoothie. I decided to give the kids a break. They appreciated it. One of them said this tasted like it had cream in it. No cream! In fact, hardly any fat at all, but chock full of calcium, some protein and Vitamin C, which were very helpful as we tackled clearing even more snow. If you want to add veggies, I would suggest some shredded zucchini.



Chicken Enchilada Verde Pie

cevpMy little corner of Central Maryland is about to get another big snow. I shouldn’t be surprised. We get a big snow at this time of year just about every year. But like many of you, I’m a little sick of winter. I would like to experience some sun that warms my body and bronzes my skin. I want to sit at the pool with my friends. Sigh.

I may not be able to have actual summer, but thanks to an excellent produce section at the local market, I can have the tastes of summer, like the ones that come together in this…

Chicken Enchilada Verde Pie
1 1/2 lbs chicken, ground or chopped into small pieces and cooked
1 Poblano Pepper
4 Tomatillos
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 cup queso cheese or mozzarella plus more for the top.
1 pie crust

1. Chop the poblano and tomatillos and process in food processor or high power blender until coarsely chopped. Set aside.
2. In a medium sauce pan on medium heat, cook chicken, onions and garlic until the chicken is completely cooked. Drain any excess liquid.
3. Add the poblano and tomatillo mixture and heat through.
4. If the mixture is watery, you can add some flour to thicken it. Start with about 1/4 cup. You shouldn’t need much more than that.
5. Mix in the cheese.
6. Transfer to a pie plate which you’ve lined with one pie crust.
7. Top with another handful of cheese.
8. Bake at 375 for 45 minutes.

You can serve this topped with some light sour cream and a side of yellow rice.

I was inspired to make this by my brother who is a really fantastic cook. He is not intimidated by the most intricate recipes and follows them to the letter. I admire his patience when he cooks and the really incredibly wonderful results.  I visited him last week and while I was there, he made a really delicious Chicken Enchilada casserole. I planned to make the same thing when I got home, but I forgot to get tortillas at the store, so I turned it into a pie instead. It was still quite good.

While you’re at the store, picking up your TPMB (toilet paper, milk and bread), add some poblano peppers, tomatillos and chicken to your list. Then, when the snow is flying, crank the heat and pretend you are in the tropics! Stay safe and warm, everyone!