Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Drunken Gummy Bears

Finally!   A reason to buy Gummy Bears even though my children are grown and grandchildren are far, far down the road.

What you will need:

Alcohol of your choice
Bowl….with a lid to prevent alcohol evaporation
Gummy Bears or any other type of gummy candy can be used

That’s it for ingredients.   Simple, huh?

Put the gummy bears in the bowl.  Pour the liquor you are using in the bowl and cover about a ¾ inch over the top of the gummy bears.

Put the lid on the bowl.

These MUST be left in the fridge, if not they will fall apart and turn into a huge glob of goo.

The minimum to soak these is about 5 days, but the longer the better for them!

Make sure to stir them 1-2 times daily to get them evened out.

Per this source website here are some interesting facts:

You can use ANY kind of alcohol to make them.

Alcohol by volume:  7-10 gummy bears equal one shot of the liquor you are using.

Yes, they will get you drunk – they are soaked in alcohol.     Keep them away from children!

They will stay good in the fridge for a very long time.

Serve them with a toothpick for cleaner eating.

Herb and Garlic Roast Pork Loin with Honey Mustard

1 ½ pounds boneless pork loin
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 T. olive oil
2 T. unsalted butter
1 T. chopped fresh thyme
1 T. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 ½ t. minced fresh rosemary
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1/3 cup plus 2 T. Dijon mustard
2 whole heads garlic
3 T. honey

Preheat over to 375 degrees.  Sprinkle the pork with salt and pepper.  Heat a large, ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the oil, add the pork and cook, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides.   Transfer the pork to a cutting board.

Return the skillet to medium heat.  Add the butter, thyme, rosemary, garlic; cook, stirring until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Stir in the panko and 1 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring, until the panko is golden, about 2 minutes.  Transfer the toasted breadcrumbs to a piece of wax or parchment paper.

Brush the pork with 2 tablespoons of the mustard and roll in the toasted breadcrumbs to coat.  

Return the coated pork to the skillet.  Halve the garlic heads crosswise and add to the skillet. 

Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the pork registers 145 degrees, about 45 minutes.  Transfer the pork and garlic to a cutting board and let rest 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the skillet over medium-low heat.   Add the honey, remaining 1/3 cup mustard, and ¼ cup water and stir until combined.  Simmer until the mixture is slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.  Slice the pork and serve with the roasted garlic and the mustard sauce.

I served the pork loin with green beans and pierogies (Polish potato dumplings) filled with mashed potatoes sautéed in a little olive oil.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Balsamic Glazed Carrots

Yellow carrots.

Yep, that was one of the veggies I served up with dinner tonight.   I found them at Trader Joe's in the freezer section.....a bag of sliced yellow and the more familiar orange kind.

They have yellow carrots?   Who knew?

Colored carrots aren't anything new.  

The Agricultural Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture have raised carrots that reflect every color of the rainbow.

Purple and yellow carrots were eaten more than 1,000 years ago in Afghanistan and 700 years ago in western Europe.

However, in earlier times carrots were grown for their leaves and seeds.   The roots weren't as popular as they are today.  

Tonight I tried this carrot recipe...and it's a keeper!

1 cup carrots, sliced
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 1/2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Saute carrots in oil for 10 minutes, or till tender.  Stir in balsamic vinegar and brown sugar.  Mix to coat and serve.  

Serves 4

We served these carrots along with grilled boneless pork chops and aged Indian basmati and wild rice with garden herbs and vegetables from Trader Joe's and a glass or two of their Charles Shaw Pino Grigio.  The Charles Shaw label is often referred to as Trader Joe's Two Buck Chuck...very nice table wine at an affordable price!!!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Hopping Into the New Year

After being out late and spending the day dismantling Christmas and packing each ornament, piece of garland and several strings of lights away I certainly don’t feel like hopping, but Hoppin’ John is one of those dishes you simply must have for New Year’s Day.

Luckily I have a man in the house who doesn’t mind cooking while I do other things and this recipe for Hoppin’ John is one of the dishes he prepared for us tonight along with a grilled pork roast, Sautéed Collards and Buttermilk-Cornmeal Biscuits with Honey Butter (see this link for the biscuit recipe)

Hoppin’ John is actually a dish that can be traced back to West Africa where it is still eaten today.   It’s very simple why Southerners eat Hoppin’ John on New Year’s…..tradition holds it will increase our luck through the year.  The peas are symbolic to coins.   Collard greens, of course, are symbolic of actual dollars since they are the color of money, and cornbread represents wealth since it’s the color of gold.
By eating some form of peas or beans to celebrate the new year we  actually are taking part in a custom folks followed back in the Middle Ages since the French and Spanish both traditionally had beans or peas on their tables for New Year’s.

It looks like we will have some Hoppin’ John leftover to enjoy tomorrow.  Traditionally the left over Hoppin’ John takes on the name Skippin’ Jenny.    I’m taking a few Advil in hopes I will feel like skipping tomorrow!

Hoppin’ John

This dish is prepared in two stages…..

Stage One:
1 pound dried black-eyed peas, rinsed and picked over
¾ pound Tasso ham, diced
1 onion, halved
3 cloves garlic
3 bay leaves

In a large Dutch oven or kettle, combine ingredients with 6 cups water.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer gently until peas are tender but not mushy, 2 to 2 ½ hours.

Drain the Black-eyed peas and ham, saving cooking liquid separately.  Remove and discard the onion pieces, garlic, and bay leaves.

This is how the Hoppin' John looked at the end of Stage One.
Stage Two:

½ pound bacon, diced
1 onion, diced
3 ribs celery, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
½ tsp. fresh Thyme
1 cup Cajun Grain rice (or good quality long grain rice)
6 green onions, sliced
½ bunch parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

All the chopped ingredients are ready to add to the kettle.
Wipe out the pot and return to stove over moderately high heat.  Add bacon and render until golden (8-10 minutes), then add the onion, celery, bell pepper, and jalapeno.  Using a wooden spoon, stir occasionally, cooking until onions are translucent (8-12 minutes).   Add the thyme and 2 ½ cups water, and bring to a boil.   Lower the heat, stir in the rice, cover and simmer until the rice is tender, about 17-22 minutes

Stir in the green onions, parsley, black-eyed peas and ham, season with salt and pepper, and adjust the consistency with the reserved cooking liquid.   The Hoppin’ John should be lushly moist but not soupy.

Serves:  6
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