thirst quenchers…

You might be reading this post through my blog, or perhaps through the collaboration with Dashing Through Winston-Salem, a fun blog by my friend Christine Storch.  Either way, I thought the timing for this edition of Moose Mixology was very timely for the 4th of July week and a fabulous summer of 2014.  Enjoy quenching your thirst!

lemonade

I find there is a lot of truth in the old adage ‘you can’t beat the classics’.  After all, classics become classics for a reason.  So it is with many recipes and drinks, and todays featured classic is good old fashioned lemonade, a taste of summer in a glass.

So forget the powders, cartons of minute maid, or whatever it is you have bought recently at the store and give this a try.  So simple, so pure, and in my opinion the perfect thirst quencher for summer.  The recipe below is simple, non-alcoholic lemonade, so a great thing for you and the kiddo’s to do together.  My kids new discovery is an Arnold Palmer, half tea and half lemonade, they think they are so cool.  However, the library of mixology options for homemade lemonade is mind blowing!  If you could see my mind reeling with all of the pairing options for this lemonade- you might get dizzy.  Be sure to check out a few of my favorite summer cocktails below the recipe, for those of you wanting to change up your summer cocktail hour in a refreshing new light.  Enjoy the best of food and life, and make lemonade when life hands you lemons!

Homemade Lemonade

1/2 cup water

1-1 1/2 cups sugar

1 tbsp. grated lemon rinds (about 2 lemons)

1 3/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (this will take 13-14 lemons)

7 cups ice water

Bring 1/2 cup water to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Stir in sugar and grated lemon rind, stirring until sugar is dissolved.  Remove from heat.  Stir in lemon juice and water.

**To make limeade substitute limes for lemons.  I do orange-ade in a similar way, and if I don’t have enough of one I mix them all together.  You can get creative and add fresh herbs or mint, too!

Lemonade Cocktail uses:

~Mix lemonade with nice bourbon and splash of soda…garnish with lemon and or orange slices, serve in fun old fashioned glasses with large ice cubes, the kind grandma used to have.

~Muddle with fresh summertime berries in a glass…mix with your preference of vodka and garnish with fresh mint, poured over lime ice cubes.  (Lime ice cubes are easy, just freeze a lime wedge in each ice compartment and pour water on top before freezing.)

~and for you Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka drinkers, real lemonade is a game changer.

Enjoy summer, one sweet glass at a time!

 

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so you know…

I love blogging.  I have always said it has been the fun surprise about my business.  What I thought would be a great way for me to share my menu’s with customers has instead become my platform about life, through the eyes of someone who is passionate about food.  When I am inspired I write.  When I am sad I write.  When I am beyond happy over the moon, I write.  When I cook, I write.  The biggest challenge for me is writing down what I create in order to share it with you in a recipe format.

As I have been thinking about sharing more recipes and menu ideas over the summer, I realize what a great catalog I am creating of my days in food.  Part of sharing is the real stuff, the little things that aren’t perfect.  The things that happen to all cooks, even professionals, that make you feel better.  For some reason I never think of myself as a professional, but apparently I am.

So you know…this morning I was preparing my egg for breakfast.  I love a fresh natural egg, fried perfectly so it is slightly runny when cut into, the yolk creating a perfectly natural sauce for whatever it is set upon.  Many mornings this includes chopped tomatoes and avocado.  Today I was short on ingredients and decided to use salsa for my juevos.  Yum, I couldn’t wait, and just as I spooned the salsa on I realized I had used pizza sauce from the other night!  Really?  What’s a girl to do?  So I sprinkled a little parmesan on top for Italian eggs instead.  Not sure I would intentionally re-create it, but there you have it.  So you know, we all make mistakes.  The recipes and the pictures always look, and are good, but it happens to all of us.  Enjoy it, make the most of it.  Choose to laugh instead of cry.

Below is a very simple recipe for salsa, a great thing to keep on hand in the fridge over these summer days…breakfast, lunch, or dinner there are a lot of ways to use it- just don’t mistake it for pizza sauce!

Nell’s Favorite Homemade Salsa

1-28 ounce can whole peeled tomatoes (in summer fresh, very ripe tomatoes are perfect!)

½ bunch cilantro

¼ onion, cut into small pieces

1 small clove garlic, smashed

Juice of half a lime

*optional- half a seeded fresh jalapeno

Dash of sea salt & pepper

Combine all ingredients in food processor or blender until desired consistency and serve. Great when prepared a day or few hours ahead of time for flavors to marry.

if only…

I am not a person who has many regrets, if any.  Regret is like a poison that can darken your heart if you let it creep in.  I believe things happen in life for a reason, and although we often don’t understand for years to come, it is a part of what shapes us into who we are and what we do.  Blind faith if you will.

Yet today, I do find myself thinking if only.  You see, it is Father’s Day and I am missing my dad more than I have in recent years.  Time definitely heals, but I always miss him. Every day, at every event, at every birthday, at every sunset on the beach, and at every sunrise in the mountains.

If only…

I could see him today, walking through the woods, fly rod in one hand hiking up in his waders.

If only… I could hear his wise words and sweet laughter.

If only…I could hold his dark hand, oh how as a little girl in church I always loved playing with his callused and strong hands.

If only…I could see him with the grandchildren he never met and the joy and love they would bring him.

If only…I had one more chance to have him over for dinner tonight, share one more song, one more dance.

If only.

But each moment that passes in time is never to be recovered, and I am not regretting.  Instead I celebrate a life well lived and a dad who gave meaning to the word hero, teacher, friend, unconditional love.  Because of him, I celebrate the dad that my husband is to our children, and the memories we are building.

We are all dealt from the same deck of cards;  joy, sorrow, hope, despair, laughter, loss,  heartache,  optimism, choice of attitude.  How you play them is up to you.

Because of my dad, I find true meaning in the words I write with every blog, enjoy the best of food and life.  So here is to all the dads we remember, those with us now, and those yet to be.  Like a cookie cutter you shape our lives.

“Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.  And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.  And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.”  K.G., The Prophet

 

 

grilled bbq chicken sandwiches…a house divided

griled chx sammy

 I’ll make this short and sweet, like dinner tonight.  Our bbq grilled chicken sandwiches were a total hit, something we haven’t had in a while but I’m certain will be requested again soon.  Tender, juicy, flavorful, easy to eat, and hush…don’t tell- healthy!  Who would have known if they had just showed up and eaten with us, wiping all the juice off their elbow like it was a good summertime BLT eaten at the kitchen sink?  Easy and quick to prepare and grill, it’s the type of meal you can adjust to your own likings or change up each time.

Start with your preference of chicken.  We like the dark meat (we’re just smart like that), so we chose boneless skinless chicken thighs.  For all you white meat lovers out there, using boneless breasts is good too.  Just be sure to either buy thin cuts or slice the breast in half lengthwise yourself if you’re ambitious and practicing your knife skills.  Place chicken in a 9×13 dish, sprinkle with salt and pepper, then marinate in bbq sauce for a few minutes while you get a few other things ready.

BBQ sauce, thus the house divided part.  We had some leftover Sweet Baby Rays BBQ sauce to finish up from making BBQ Chicken pizza’s recently, check.  Then, of course, we had to open a bottle of SC mustard based sauce for my sand lapper husband.  I tell you one thing, two things you almost always find in my fridge door are Carolina Treet and a stray bottle of SC mustard sauce…really.  In fact, I will admit this because my husband is not reading this, but that SC mustard sauce sure is good.  (As long as you don’t call it bbq sauce.)

grilled bacon

Back to the sandwiches.  It’s super simple from here on out and I won’t question your grilling capabilities with the details.  Just grill your chicken over low heat so the meat cooks through well and doesn’t char, over indirect, low heat turning often.  (This would be a good time to mention that if you aren’t an equal opportunity grilling home, and the man does all the grilling, please give me a call this summer and we’ll put together a “Girls on the Grill” class.)  Although, I will give credit where credit is due, my husband is a great griller and cooked the chicken perfectly this evening, thank you.  Be sure to grill/toast the buns, too!

griled bacon

Next, a note about the condiments, a very important note as these more or less can make or break the whole sandwich.  Tonight we had a selection of sliced tomatoes with chives, arugula, spicy guacamole, applewood smoked bacon, mayonnaise and mustard, all of which were in the fridge and not bought for this dinner.  The apple wood smoked bacon, courtesy of Trader Joe’s, is an uncured, smokey bacon I would buy again for something like this.  Although it was too smokey to have alone at breakfast this morning, which we tried, it was absolutely perfect on this sandwich tonight. Enough flavor came through to taste it without overpowering the chicken, and by re-heating it on the grill it not only saved a dish, but had a great grilled look to boot.

tomatoes with chives & arugula

Setting up a fun selection of toppings is one of my favorite ways to fancy meals up a bit and let people create their own personal flavors.  It is a great way to turn these BBQ Chicken sandwiches into Asian Grilled Chicken Sandwiches (think chicken marinated with fresh ginger, dash of soy sauce, rice wine vinegar & olive oil, served with cilantro, srichacha mayo, Thai chili sauce, pineapple- lime cole slaw, slivered red peppers), or Tex Mex Chicken Grilled Sandwiches (think chicken marinated in chili powder, cumin, dried oregano, garlic salt, lime juice and olive oil served with grilled bell peppers, sliced avocado’s, chipotles, jalapeno’s, pepper jack cheese), Mediterranean Grilled Chicken Sandwiches (think olive oil, red wine vinegar & lemon juice for a marinade then serve with thinly sliced cucumbers, hummus, olive or artichoke tapenade, roasted red peppers on ciabatta bread).  Get creative but keep the toppings either easy for you to buy, or prepare, so this dinner stays simple and good for all!

mulberry margarita

My mulberry margarita (pictured above) was perhaps the second best item, but details on that will follow shortly on Moose Mixology…

I’ll wrap this up now, it has been a great day in the kitchen and a full afternoon spent by the pool with children and their friends.  Day is almost done, the sun is going down and this is one tired but happy mama ready to take it easy for a little bit.  This was such a satisfying & simple meal that came together in well under an hour start to finish, and I mean dishes done and napkins dirty start to finish!  Perhaps you’ll be tired of grilling burgers and just need a healthy meal that satisfies everyone.

Enjoy, the best of food and life, one dinner at a time!

 

 

 

summer bloggin’…having a blast!

shrimp tacos

Pictured above:  Oven Roasted Lemon Shrimp Tacos with Black Bean Salad

Summer is almost here.  Visions of lazy days reading, popsicles and lemonade stands, crabbing, sandcastles at the beach, and late afternoons at the pool dance through my head, teasing me of days to come.  Although the kids still have a few days left of school, mentally we have all clicked over to slower days and summer time fun.

I will be working most weeks at the farmers market, but I must admit I am looking forward to slowing down a bit and preparing more meals for my family.  Food is so important to me and our lives, and not just the eating part, but everything it encompasses.  I want to share the fun I have preparing and choosing ingredients with you, and of course the stories and adventures that often seem to accompany them.  So, drumroll please… this summer I am going to be blogging my way through with recipe ideas and menu’s of what I do at home and on vacation.  Best part is, I will focus on meals that are easy ones to inspire you and not daunt you!

Like the other night, I needed a quick dinner before a birthday party.  I had one last ziploc of SC shrimp I bought late last Fall then froze to get me through the winter until this summer’s shrimping season.  Can you think of a better excuse for Oven Roasted Lemon Shrimp Tacos?  Not sure I can, but if you need a little nudge enjoy this simple recipe you can pull off in no time.  Better yet, the shrimp will be swimming, nice and sweet, so take advantage of fresh summer shrimp.

I welcome you to share your ideas, recipes and summer stories with me as well.  Stay safe, stay cool, and I look forward to cooking with you soon!

Until then, enjoy the best of food and life and these beautiful summer days.

 

Oven Roasted Lemon Shrimp Tacos (Served with Black Beans topped with Fresh Avocado, Tomato & Cucumber Salad)

1 1/2 pounds peeled shrimp

1 tablespoon of your favorite taco seasoning ***click here for a great easy homemade taco seasoning recipe, you might never buy that little envelope again!

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon cumin

1 tablespoon Adobo

one lemon, cut into 8 wedges

olive oil

Place shrimp in medium sized bowl, being sure to leave enough room to stir without the shrimp falling out!  Sprinkle the first four seasonings over shrimp and stir well to coat, be sure to adjust if you want more or less seasoning based on your preferences.  Get creative- a nice addition not listed is fresh cilantro or fresh herbs in place of dried.  Finish by drizzling shrimp with enough olive oil to lightly coat.  Let sit in fridge 30-45 minutes to marry flavors, covered with saran wrap.

oven roasted lemon shrimp

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400.  Line a baking sheet with foil & spray with nonstick cooking spray.  Cut the lemon into 8 wedges, taking time to remove the visible seeds but don’t worry about every single one.  After shrimp has sat for 30 minutes or so, spread evenly in one layer on prepared baking sheet, tucking the lemon wedges in between.   Bake at 400, uncovered on middle rack, for about 15 -20 minutes.  Check shrimp for doneness based on their size, but they should be close to done unless you have really big shrimp!  Let lemons cool enough to handle, then squeeze a few wedges over shrimp with all that yummy, warm lemon juice.  Serve with your favorite tortilla’s and toppings.  I like to keep it simple so the flavor and pop of the shrimp comes through…such as salsa verde, slivered red onions, and chopped tomato.

Leftovers, what to do with that shrimp the next day?  Toss the prepared shrimp with black beans and veggies, squeeze lime juice over all, a touch of salt and pepper and quick drizzle of nice olive oil  for a fabulous lunch salad the next day!