Winter

From the Huffington Post

cordials.jpgNow that fall is in full swing and you're trying to figure out how to bring back the flavors of the bountiful herbs and produce from the warm summer months, consider using them to infuse alcohols by making your own homemade cordials.  

Infusing your favorite alcohols and liquors with herbs and seasonal fruits lends an incredibly aromatic and flavorful combination that really enlivens the palate. To dig a little bit deeper into the world of culinary herbs outside of the conventional ways of using them for savory dishes in the kitchen, you can go out in your own garden, farmer's market, or even the herb section of the market, and "harvest" your own herbs to mix up unique blends and herbal infusions, creating your own personal herbal-infused liqueurs and cordials, using everyday herbs and berries that are readily available in a new and unique way.

When you get the hang of it, try hosting an "herb-harvesting and cordial-making session" with your friends, family, and/or neighbors, and make an entire fun-filled afternoon out of it! Set out pretty colored glass bottles with labels that everyone can infuse, create, and fill to their liking with their own cordial combinations.

Read article...

blackbeansoupI love soups and stews. I truly do. This soup is a derivative of fresh, previously fresh, and local flavors that all meld together in a literal melting pot of culinary delight.

Sausage from M&T Meats in Hawkinsville mixed with Conecuh Sausage from Evergreen, Alabama add a layer of savory, smoky flavor as well as depth to this soup. Stewed tomatoes, put up from last summer, and black beans all swirl around in a big ol’ pot with cumin, cayenne, and a Vidalia roux.

Rouxs rule! A roux, or a cooked mixture of fat and flour, is the flavor foundation for this soup. A roux is the classical thickener for the French mother sauces, yet a Cajun roux is a bit different from its classical cousin. The roux for this soup is more so of a Cajun roux, though not totally authentic…a Cajun roux takes a long time to properly make – this one not so much. I also did not use flour since I used onion powder and cumin, thus making up the starch portion of the roux’s makeup. Typically a one to one ratio fat to starch is called for in a roux…this combo works just fine!

Read more ...

blackbeansald.jpg As soon as the new year arrives, January becomes the month all about weight loss, getting fit, eating healthy, etc. We all put on the extra pounds during the holiday months by eating our favorite hearty comfort foods and then try to shed them as fast as we can. Just like everyone else, I too make a new year's resolution I don't quite keep. But this year I hope to follow through with my plan to eat more and more vegetables and a lot less meat. My way of eating during the winter months has always included lots of soups and stews that feature meat. But I'm finding that once I change the foods I eat and the techniques I use to cook them, that I can follow through with my plan. To achieve this, I try to think of the foods of summer, such as salads, grilled chicken and fish, and other recipes that remind me of healthier eating.

This brightly colored black bean salad not only reminds me of summer, but it also has the frugal sensibility of winter. The dried beans, once cooked, are combined with fresh vegetables that are available year round. For this recipe, I prefer using dried beans instead of canned, because they're more economical and I can control the flavoring of the cooking liquid as well as the texture of the beans. Most canned beans tend to be overcooked. This high-fiber salad is great for a quick lunch on its own or alongside a protein for dinner. It also works exceptionally well as a salsa for an appetizer when paired with baked tortilla chips. It's versatile, healthy, and flavorful. It makes for a great healthy start to the new year.

Read more ...

healthybreadI always crave banana bread -- moist, tender, nut studded slabs with plenty of butter on top. I don't always crave the calories that come with it. That's why I have been experimenting with a creating a healthier, reduced fat banana bread that will keep both tummy and my hips happy. I have succeeded.

This banana bread is low in fat and calories yet high in fiber, protein, and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Instead of fats such as butter or oil, I used healthier egg whites, low-fat buttermilk, non-fat yogurt, and orange juice. Instead of just plain white flour, I used protein and fiber-rich oats and whole wheat flour and omega-3-rich flax seed and walnuts.

The cherries are a seasonal surprise that add sweet juiciness to eat bite. Of course, you could substitute other fresh fruit such as apples or mangoes or dried fruit such as raisins or apricots. Oh, and don't worry. It tastes great.

Read more ...

orangealmondsaladThere is probably no other fruit more versatile than citrus. Most people would assume citrus fruit, because it's sweet, can only be used in desserts. But citrus is great in both sweet and savory recipes. Just think of lemons, which are widely used in Mediterranean cuisine. And oranges, too, are often used in savory recipes. Citrus juice also makes a flavorful marinade and tenderizer for meats. I love oranges in salads, especially when they are paired with Asian flavors in the form of a dressing. This salad features peppery watercress, flaked almonds for crunch, and tangelos, which lend wonderful flavor and juiciness.

My love for citrus fruit continues this week with tangelos. You have probably heard of tangerines, so that is half the story behind tangelos, which are a genetic cross between grapefruits and tangerines. The most popular variety is the Minneola, named after the city in Flordia. The fruit features a knobby stem end and has easy-to-peel skin and juicy flesh. The flavor and aroma of tangelos are very unique, not too sweet and exotically subtle. I've only been familiar with tangelos for a few years now, but I've come to love eating them almost immediately. Their juice is what makes them so renowned.

Read more ...