Saturday, 31 March 2012

ABC - Apple, Beet, Carrot Juice

If you go to Whole Foods they sell this as an ABC- An Apple, Beet, Carrot juice.

 It makes me feel like I am sitting with Damon Salvatore (of course I like the bad brother better! those eyes!) in the library drinking. Come on, I like the way they take it out of the bag and pour it into a crystal glass.  I mean really. That's what all the civilized Vampires do!

You will need:

  • 1 small beet
  • 1 apple
  • 2 carrots (they can be bigger than the ones I have used)
  • juicer

Step 1: get out the Jack Lalanne juicer.

Step 2: chop the apple and beet in half, then juice the beet, the apple and the carrots.

Step 3: Drink it immediately after juicing for optimum nutrition.

Step 4: wash the 29 parts that the juicer breaks down to.

Friday, 30 March 2012

Natural Fruit Vodkas

“I went out with a guy who once told me I didn’t need to drink to make myself more fun to be around. I told him, I’m drinking so that you’re more fun to be around.” 
― Chelsea HandlerAre You There Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea

I have been making my my own fruit vodkas for years. As the spring and summer approaches I make whatever fruit comes into season and then leave the fruit steeping in the vodka until at least Christmas. It makes a great gift and you always have something special on hand if someone stops by for a cocktail. I have made some that I have left for as long as 1 year and they are all good. You can make so many different kinds. They are better than the store bought variety because they are made with two things fruit and vodka, not full of artificial flavours. I try to make something new every year. Last fall my neighbour Shelley gave me a huge box of apples she brought from the Okanagan Valley. Her son said "why don't you make some apple vodka?" and I thought.....why not. It was the breakout hit of the year!! I love to serve it like a liqueur in a shot glass with a couple of the same fresh fruit in the glass. I put a few fresh raspberries in the glass then pour over the raspberry vodka. This is fantastic with raspberry/blueberry and the pomegranate is really fun. It gives you a pop of fresh flavour at the end. You can also use them in your favorite martinis.

I have made:

  • pomegranate- put seeds in jar (this is made in Nov/Dec when in season)
  • apple 
  • blueberry
  • raspberry
  • strawberry
  • blueberry/raspberry
  • blueberry/ strawberry
  • blueberry/strawberry/raspberry
  • orange/vanilla/coffee- you stick coffee beans in slits cut in the oranges and add a fresh vanilla bean
  • clementine- peel them and stick them in the jar whole
  • lemoncello
They are really so easy to make.

You will need:
  • vodka (lots!) I start a pot with one bottle, then add more fruit and vodka as the pay checks get deposited. That way you don't feel the pinch all at once. They also don't look at you like you are a complete drunk at the liquor store.
  • fruit (lots) when something is in season go to a farm and buy a flat of fruit
  • a large container with a lid that will seal the fruit and vodka mix.
  • strainers/ coffee filters once completed- some fruit has sediment on bottom and needs to be poured through a coffee filter or several to make it clear.

Step 1: gather your fruit, your vodka and a clean glass jar with a lid. If you can use organic especially with something like apples which are typically a fruit on the "dirty dozen" list of fruit that is high in pesticides do it.

Step 2: wash and core apples. I use a melon baler. I then remove stems and chop into quarters. I do not peel the apples because the skins give the vodka a nice amber colour. Put in as many pieces of apple as you can fit into the jar.

Step 3: fill jar with vodka.

Step 4: seal jar and leave in a dark place for at least 2 months. If you have soft fruit like raspberries or strawberries I would leave it for at least 6 months - 1 year. This works perfectly if you start the vodka in the Spring when Strawberries are ripe then keep it until Christmas when you would serve it. You can make apple vodka at any time because they are available year round but, normally you need lots of fruit so you buy it when its at it's best and also cheapest.

This is after about 1 month-you see the fruit at the top of the jar is starting to get brown but the bottom is not yet. 

After approx 2 months or when all the apples are brown. I strain out the fruit (make sure you put a bowl under that strainer-you don't want to let your precious hooch go down the drain!) and disgard.
I then fill with another bag of apples and return the vodka to the jar and leave it another 2 months and strain.The apple vodka needs to be strained through coffee filters a few times to make it clear. The apple vodka is very smooth and similar in taste to Ice cider (not the hard cider you buy like a cooler) this is like "Neiges"- which is an iced cider made in Quebec and very similar  to Ice wine where they pick the fruit after the first hard frost and it is sweet and concentrated. (Neiges is a gorgeous product if you haveb't tried it it is excellent!)

This was my collection from last Christmas. I like to save my favourite Prosecco bottles that have great resealable lids for my moonshine! I also buy small vinegar bottles from the Dollar Store for gift bottles, they come with a nice little spout and they cost a buck! I try to pretty them up with labels and ribbons etc...

They are great served in a shot glass with the fresh fruit and really are like a liqueur or you can add them to a drink like a martini. They are so much nicer than the artificial flavoured vodkas in the store.

Drink it cold.

Make a lovely Martini like the Apple Martini or the Raspberry Martini shown here. Go to my other post called Raspberry and Apple Martinis for the exact recipe.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Chicken and Mushrooms

Chicken with Mushrooms and garden salad. 
Another quick fry chicken and a side salad. It's the weekday quick protein and veggie dinner.

You will need:


  • 2 chicken breasts- sliced to butterfly and pounded flat
  • 2 cups -any mushroom you like
  • salt/pepper
  • 1 tsp dry oregano (more if you like)
  • 2-3 tbsps white wine
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 clove crushed garlic
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley 

  • cucumber
  • romaine lettuce
  • tomato
  • 1 tsp oregano (dry)
  • 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt/pepper

Step 1: slice chicken until almost cut in two allowing the breast to be pounded flat(butterflied) between wax paper. Sprinkle both sides with oregano, salt and pepper.

Step 2: in a bowl add all vegetables and oregano. Wait until just before serving to add vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper

Step 3: in a hot pan quickly fry chicken on both sides . When cooked remove and deglaze pan with a splash of white wine. Cook for 2-3 minutes and turn off heat, finally add butter and it should make a simple pan sauce.

Step 4: In another pan fry mushrooms, garlic and parsley with a bit of olive oil. Once cooked add the pan sauce you made earlier.

Step 5: Finish salad by adding oil and vinegar. Toss.

Step 6: Serve chicken with mushrooms, sauce and salad.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Leftover 5 Minute Rice Pudding

I always have leftover rice. If you are looking for a quick dessert that takes 5 minutes try this jiffy rice pudding in just 3 easy steps.

Kids and husbands will never know it took you 5 minutes and you can create so many combinations.

You will need:

1 cup cooked rice (double the recipe for 4 portions)
3/4 cup milk (you could use almond, rice or cow!)
1 tbsp sweetened coconut
1-2 tbsp honey (or sweetener of your choice)
1/2 tsp vanilla

Toppings : Strawberries, blueberries, mango, raisins, granola, bananas, grated apple, chopped pineapple- you can also add a tsp of rum or vanilla to the berries if you like.

Step 1: in a small saucepan add cooked rice, (I used brown rice) milk, coconut, honey, vanilla. Cook 5 minutes -it may look too liquid but it will absorb into the rice as it cools.

Step 2: put into 2 glasses (if they are fancy it makes the deception even better!) Chill.

Step 3: serve your fancy rice pudding and your choice of topping and they will never know! 

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Czech Roast Pork and Dumplings with Sauerkraut

Bohemian cuisine is influenced by it's neighbouring countries. Many dishes have a strong Austrian, German or Hungarian influence. It tends to be heavy, hearty fare. There are lots of  roasted meats, potatoes, onions, dumplings, pickled vegetables, soups and breads.

This was called Roast Pork with "Kapusta" and "Knedliky" in my house. (which means roast pork with sauerkraut and dumplings) My mother used to make it for Sunday dinner. Everyone would come over and there was always a fight for any crispy pork crackling and everyone wanted the outside slice. It is fall apart tender and the sauerkraut is a really nice contrast to the rich meat and the soft dumplings which are more like a bread. If you have never eaten Sauerkraut and you think you won't like it you may be pleasantly surprised. The sour, salty contrast to the meat is so delicious. I always remembered my mother making it but, I never thought my husband would ever eat it. This was the fist time in 24 years I have ever made it and he loved it!

 Who Knew? 

You will need:

  • a pork shoulder/butt roast- mine is 1.5kgs (I just asked my favourite butcher to cut one they had in half)
  • 2 tbsp mustard (strong Dijon not hot dog mustard)
  • 2 tbsp caraway seeds
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic -crushed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • beer to cook meat in - just enough to cover onions and provide some moisture. 
  • 1 onion
  • 1 apple or  1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1 bottle of sauerkraut (usually in cooler where the kosher pickles are in grocery stores)
  • 2-3 slices bacon
  • 1 -2 tsp caraway seeds
  • 1 onion chopped fine
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 2 tbsp wine or water
  • stale bread cubed (3 cups)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • cheesecloth
  • Optional I like to add a bit of chopped parsley

Step1: remove roast from packaging and dry with paper towels. 

Step 2: prepare a paste with mustard (I have used a hot horseradish mustard), caraway seeds, garlic, salt, pepper, olive oil, apple sauce, garlic paste. Marinade covered in fridge 24 hours if possible.

Step 3: let the meat come to room temperature at least 1 hour before putting in oven. Set oven to 350 degrees F.

Step 4: chop onions and place in bottom of the pan. Place meat on top. Cover and roast in oven 1 hour.Cover onions with some beer, just enough to add some moisture. Uncover meat and roast another 2-3 hours, turning every hour. If pan gets too dry add a bit more beer. When meat is falling apart, it's done.

Step 5: rinse sauerkraut in colander under cool water for a few minutes. Squeeze and return to pot.

Step 6: in a saute pan. Fry bacon and once almost crunchy, remove and fry onions in same pan.

Step 7: add cooked onions and bacon to sauerkraut. Add water to almost cover and cook 20 mins add flour to white wine and mix to create a slurry/paste, add this paste to sauerkraut. Cook further 10 minutes.If it gets too dry you can add 1/4 cup of water. 

Step 8: prepare dumplings. add all dry ingredients to a medium bowl: flour, baking soda, baking powder,
and salt.Stir to mix. Add eggs and milk mixing well with a wooden spoon. Add stale bread cubes.

Step 9: lay out a piece of cheesecloth (double thickness) on counter and add half the dough. It is very wet so do not be alarmed. 

Step 10: roll up the cheesecloth and tie with kitchen safe twine.

Step 11: boil in salted water for 20 minutes

Step 12: cut ends and remove from cheesecloth as soon as you can handle.

Step 13: remove pork from oven and allow to rest covered with foil for 15 minutes. You can slice the pork or what I do is I separate the meat where it naturally wants to fall apart. I remove every piece of fat and serve beautifully cleaned chunks that can be pulled apart and really do not need a knife to cut.

Step 14: strain juice that is left in the pan, skim off oil and return to a small pan cooking to reduce liquid (you can also add 1 tbsp of cornstarch to 1 tbsp of cold water-stir to combine then add to pan juices to thicken)

Monday, 26 March 2012

Banana Breakfast Wrap

Next time you are thinking of a quick breakfast that you can eat in the car or take on the train. This is it!

My friend Deb made this many years ago. She used Vector cereal but, the options are really endless and very good. Try it!

You will need:

  • a wrap
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • cereal
  • a banana

  • you could use peanut butter, honey, cereal banana
  • almond butter, sliced almonds, banana
  • any nut butter, strawberry jam, cereal,  fresh strawberries

AS EASY AS 1,2,3

Step 1: I used small wraps. Spread a tbsp peanut butter on wrap. Crumble any cereal you like and sprinkle a thin layer on top of the peanut butter (don't use too much) Top with a banana.

Step 2: roll up tightly and it should stick together. 

Step 3: slice and go!

For some reason I heard Russell Peter's voice saying "take it and GO!"