Thursday, July 28, 2011

Roasted Beet and Potato Borscht*

Beets are sweet and earthy roots that for years were under utilized in my house. When I was growing up, my mom would put pickled beets on the table from time to time in the same fashion that people put olives on the table at Thanksgiving. The first apartment I rented after college had a garden in the back. I was very poor and lived off that garden all summer long. Since the last homeowner had planted beets, I ate a LOT of beets that summer. They are so delicious that this summer I planted beets in my garden. I used some of my own beets for this recipe. They were delicious!


2 lbs red beets, scrubbed, peeled and diced
1 lb russet potatoes, peeled and diced
2 shallots, coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp olive oil
coarse salt and pepper
5 cups chicken broth
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
Sour Cream and parsley for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 400˚F. On a cookie sheet, toss together beets, potatoes, shallots, and olive oil. Sprinkle with coarse salt, pepper, and thyme. Arrange in a single layer and roast for 45 minutes.

Add mixture to a medium pot along with chicken broth. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. With a potato masher, mash the vegetables until soup is thick and chunky. Stir in red wine vinegar. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and sprinkle with parsley. (I didn't have sour cream today so I skipped that step.)

*Borscht is a fancy name for any of a variety of eastern European soups made with beets, cabbage, potatoes, or other vegetables and served hot or chilled, often with sour cream. It is pronounced: bore-sht.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Piña Colada

It's hot! I mean it's really, really hot! Go to the pool and take a dip hot. Turn on the radio, listen to Kenny Chesney, and wish you were in the Caribbean hot. Unfortunately, we don't have the coins for the Caribbean, but I did pick up the ingredients for this tropical treat. The kids totally love it and have asked for it three days in a row.


4 fluid oz Cream of Coconut
4 fluid oz unsweetened Pineapple juice
2 cups ice
maraschino cherries and frozen pineapple chuncks (if they are handy)

Combine the Cream of Coconut (NOT to be confused with coconut milk. Cream of Coconut is found with the mixers), pineapple juice, and ice in a blender. Blend well. Garnish with marachino cherries and frozen pineapple chucks in you have them. I went a step further (and the girls felt like royalty). Add a few drops of red food coloring to a small bowl of granulated sugar and mix with a fork. Wet the rim of the glass in a little maraschino cherry syrup and dip it in the sugar. It's an extra step, but it adds a little class to this summer treat.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Homemade Lemonade

I am loving the summer! A few weeks back the kids decided to open a lemonade stand. The watered down lemonade (made from powder by eight year olds) gave me a craving for the real deal. So I rooted up this recipe...maybe someday I'll live in a house with a lemon tree in the backyard. Wouldn't that be paradise!

For homemade lemonade, you will need:

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
4-6 lemons
3 to 4 additional cups cold water (to dilute)

Heat 1 cup each of sugar and water in a small saucepan until the sugar is dissolved completely. While the sugar is dissolving, use a juicer to extract the juice from 4 to 6 lemons, enough for one cup of juice. Mix the juice and sugar water to a pitcher. Add 3 to 4 cups of cold water to dilute. You can add more or less depending on how strong you like your lemonade. Refrigerate 30 to 40 minutes. If the lemonade is a little sweet for your taste, add a little more straight lemon juice to it. If you are feeling fancy serve with ice and sliced lemons.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Dessert Island

Here is a cute snack that the kids can help make. It would be cute for a beach themed or pirate themed party, but we couldn't wait that long.

You'll need:

Pudding cups
graham crackers
Pirouette wafers (I used Pepperidge Farm)
green Laffy Taffy candies

Put the graham crackers into a sealed plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin. Remove the lid from a pudding cup and pour the crushed graham crackers on top of the pudding. Place the cookie stick in the cup. With clean scissors, carefully cut four leaves out of the green Laffy Taffy candy. Pinch the leaves together at one end. Use a small amount of icing to attach the leaves to the top of the cookie stick. Place two Whoppers in the "sand" for coconuts.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Blueberry and Peach Pie

Look at all the blueberry juice that just bubbled over the side! It looks so good! When Roger came downstairs this morning he said I was just being mean. Why would I make a pie with blueberries when he doesn't like blueberries? Well, my philosophy about cooking is to try all kinds of things and decide afterwards if I don't like it. I'll ease my husband and children into different foods by introducing them over and over again. This pie had a happy ending (well, not if you are the pie). Roger took one taste from my fork and asked me to dish him up a slice, too.

Ingredients for the crust:
2c flour
1/2c sugar
1t salt
2/3c butter, softened to room temp
6T cold water

Ingredients for the Filling:
1 1/2c sugar
5T quick cooking Tapioca
1/2t salt
3lbs peaches, peeled and sliced
12 oz blueberries (about 2 cups)
3T lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
2T cold butter, cut into small pieces
Preheat oven at 425˚F.

Pie Crust:
Mix the dry ingredients. Cut butter into dry ingredients using a pantry cutter. Add water and mix lightly. Don't kneed it too much. Divide into top and bottom, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Mix together the sugar, tapioca, and salt. Add peaches, blueberries,and lemon juice. Mix together.

Lightly flour a rolling pin and roll out your bottom crust to a 12 inch round. Spray pie pan with Pam. Add bottom crust. Pour in filling and dot filling with cold butter.

Roll out the remaining crust, also into a 12 inch round. Put over the pie. Trim the excess around the edges and crimp edges. Cut little vents into the top crust. Brush top crust with water and sprinkle with a little sugar.

Set the pie pan on a rimmed cookie sheet to protect your stove from the overflow. Bake at 425˚F for 20 minutes, then lower temperature to 350 F and bake for another 25-30 minutes.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Cucumber Salad

This cucumber salad is my favorite to bring to a summer gathering. It's so light and crunchy. It's sweet and a little tangy. You can eat it as a side at the BBQ, put it on a burger, or eat it as a snack. It's not going to be in your refrigerator very long.

1 medium cucumber, sliced thinly
1/4-1/2 medium onion, sliced thinly
2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp vinegar
1 cup cold water
1/4 tsp pepper
tomato for garnish

Thinly slice the cucumber and onion. Combine all the ingredients and chill before serving. I like to dice up a tomato to garnish the salad, but it doesn't affect the flavor. This recipe serves about four so I always double it so there is a little something for me to snack on later. Like many great recipes, this salad is even better the next day.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Pulled Beef Brisket Sandwich

This was a very humbling recipe for me. I'll be honest, I've never cooked (or even bought) a brisket before. I looked in the meat section of my grocery store, but couldn't find it. I asked the butcher if he had any brisket.

He sneered at me, and waved his arm toward the right side of the meat fridge, "It's down there."

I did the only polite thing to do. I looked him straight in the eye and said, "I don't have any idea what it looks like and I couldn't find it overthere (waving my arm in that direction) could you point it out for me?"

Win/win situation. The butcher got to feel superior. I got the cut of meat I needed for this recipe. It was worth it. Saying this, I should probably tell you that I'm not usually a BBQ fan, in fact, I avoid it as much as possible. This recipe, however, is the exception. It was really good without tasting like it came out of the bottle. The pickles were a nice touch to finish off the sandwich. I'll be adding it to the menu more often.

3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 3-4 pound beef brisket
1 18-ounce bottle of barbecue sauce
2 onions, chopped
1 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
12 Dinner rolls

Mix the minced garlic, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika and pepper. Rub over the brisket. In a small bowl mix the barbecue sauce, onions, Worchestershire sauce and liquid smoke. Place the brisket in a slow-cooker and pour over the sauce. Cook on low for 10 hours. Remove the beef and shred with two forks. Ladle the cooking liquid into a glass bowl and skim off the fat. Mix the sauce back into the pulled beef. Serve on rolls with pickles.

This recipe can be made ahead, stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat before serving