Mint Julep

The 2021 Derby is over, but Bourbon and Mint Juleps live on forever!
Here’s to the Weekend. May it be a great one for everyone!

5 sprigs fresh mint
2 sugar cubes
2 oz bourbon

Crush mint and sugar in bottom of glass.
Fill glass with crushed ice.
Add bourbon.
Stir vigorously and serve.

Photography by pegHARDEE

Wonton Cinnamon Crisps with Fruit

Happy Monday! I trust that this “Spring of Vaccinations” is bringing a freshness to you and yours…hope and recovery from 2020, and renewal, with positive refreshing energy changes. And speaking of energy, a couple of weeks back the grands and I joined forces for a bit of energetic fun in the kitchen to make these cinnamon crisps. It’s a “duck for cover” situation when you have 5 year olds mixing cinnamon and sugar free hand, but filled with smiles, love, and giggles. This house wasn’t built on gummy bears alone!

8 wonton wrappers, cut in half diagonally
Nonstick cooking spray
2 Tbs sugar
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups fat free vanilla yogurt
1 cup mixed berries of choice
4 t honey

Preheat oven to 400°.
Mix cinnamon and sugar together in small bowl.
Spray baking sheet with nonstick spray.
Arrange wonton wrappers on baking sheet.
Lightly spray wontons with nonstick cooking spray.
Sprinkle with cinnamon mixture.
Bake 3 to 4 minutes, or until lightly browned and crisp.
Set aside to cool.
Spoon yogurt and berries into dessert dishes.
Drizzle with honey.
Serve with cinnamon crisps.

Note: Cinnamon Crisps will last 3 weeks in zip top bag or sealed container.

Collards and Black Eyed Peas

Well Here Comes Peter Cotton Tail…And I have my Bunny Bait ready and waiting. No Easter Bunny is missing the house of my Grands! And my niece Jordan (Instagram @jblodgett1) makes this special concoction to insure that the bunny doesn’t miss your home.* She has that covered, so I’m covering your brain game with an excellent green veggie/starch combo for Easter lunch, or any meal actually! I promise you one thing; this simplified recipe will become famous. So, tuck your head down, don your mask, take your hand wipes, race to the grocery, break the “always fresh” recipe rules, and secure these simple ingredients. Make one dish easy on yourself with the best canned ingredients ever! Sit back, hit the pause button, and enjoy your Easter. I hope you have family and/or loved ones with you. Vaccinations are becoming more available; but please continue to be diligent in your efforts to stay safe and healthy. I cherish you all!

1/4 cup olive oil
1 large Vidalia onion, diced
2 t salt, divided
2 14.5 oz cans Margaret Holmes seasoned black eyed peas
2 14.5 oz cans Margaret Holmes seasoned collard greens
2 Tbs chipotle chili in adobo sauce, diced
3 Tbs lime juice
4 cups cooked rice
Chopped cilantro, for serving
Grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese, for serving

Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat.
Add onions, a pinch of salt, and cook until browned, about 8 minutes.
Combine cooked onions, peas, collards, and chipotle chili in large pot.
Bring to simmer and cook 20 to 30 minutes.

To serve:
Place rice on side of plate.
Place collard mixture half on rice and half beside rice.
Squeeze lime juice on rice and collard mixture.
Sprinkle with cilantro and cheese.

Note: This is also delicious served over Raisin Cinnamon Toast instead of Rice.
Voila!
*Jordan creates specialty items all year long for holidays and “every days”…so follow her Instagram for details. She specializes in all things wonderful! Respond to me if you can’t find her; I’ll get you there.

Lemon and Pepper Jelly Shrimp

The great Rocco DiSpirito was on The Drew Barrymore Show a couple of weeks back and I was blown away! Rather than totally freak out when I researched his life as a chef, I decided to Keep Calm, Munch On, Try his Recipe, and Order a Couple of his Books. No recipe hunting for you this weekend good folks; I’m just handing it out to you. Just enough spice to make you happy but not ring the fire alarm! This is so full of ease and joy to prep, that you will be cooking it quite often. Add a simple salad or asparagus (to my version) and you have a totally balanced meal, nutritious, and calorie conscious. This food is pure art; and…we’re off!

This is what you need:
1 lb large, cleaned shrimp
2 Tbs olive oil
1 t coarsely ground black pepper
1 t coarse ground salt
2 Tbs butter
Juice of a lemon
3 to 4 Tbs Pepper Jelly, to taste*
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

*I used Jammit Jams Garlic Pepper Jelly, so I omitted the 2 garlic cloves.

And this is how you do it:
Blot shrimp dry with a paper towel.**
Season with salt and pepper.
Heat large skillet over medium high heat.
Add 2 Tbs olive oil to skillet.
Add shrimp, seasoned side down, and sauté for 2 minutes.
While this is sautéing, season the “upside” of the shrimp.
Flip shrimp over with tongs and cook second side 2 minutes.
Immediately remove shrimp to separate bowl.
In hot skillet, add lemon juice, butter, and pepper jelly.
Stir until jelly is meted and all is combined, about 2 minutes.
Toss shrimp back in skillet and stir to cover with sauce.
Serve over cooked rice.***

**I blot most things dry before placing in a skillet…shrimp, scallops, chicken, beef, and pork fillets. It improves the texture during cooking if the protein is dry when added to the pan. Trust me!
***Rocco’s recipe calls for sautéed broccoli rabe to be served with this shrimp, which really cuts down on the calories. Unfortunately, that’s not one of my favorites, and honestly, I really like a little starch. OOPSIE !! I think we have a winner here; and speaking of winners, Super Bowl LV is in 8 days…who’s going to win?
P to the S. I have a favorite! TB for history, just saying.

Hand Held Blueberry Pies

Sliding in to Thursday on a Sweet Note you Good Folks of the InterWeb! I tried and tried to carve out time to make these yummies with my three golden grandchildren…alas, I was so lazily enjoying their hugs and conversation the last couple of times that we were together that I ended up making them on my own last week. But check out that cute little car that Liam left here 7 1/2 years ago; it still lives in my kitchen window sill. So that’s my garnish and nod to my grands, and the children in all of us who love a hand held pie memory from our youth! Yum.

Filling:
3 cups blueberries
1/2 cup granulated sugar 
3 Tbs cornstarch 
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1/2 lemon 
1 t vanilla extract 
Pastry
3 sheets frozen puff pastry (from two packages, such as Pepperidge Farm), thawed
1 large egg beaten with 2 Tbs water
Glaze:
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 

For the filling:
Combine blueberries and granulated sugar in medium saucepan over medium heat.
Bring to boil, reduce heat, and cook, stirring, until sugar is melted, and berries start to burst.
Stir together cornstarch and lemon juice in small bowl until combined.
Add to the blueberry mixture.
Add lemon zest and vanilla and continue to cook until glossy and thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool completely. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

For the pastry:
Preheat the oven to 400°.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment.
To make the pies:
Unfold the thawed pastry and roll out to 10-inch squares.
Cut each square in quarters, making four 5-inch squares from each.
Spoon 1 1/2 Tbs of cooled filling onto one corner of each square.

Brush around the squares with the egg wash.
Fold the pasty over the filling on each to make a triangle, pressing lightly to remove air pockets. Crimp the edges shut with a fork.
Put the pies on the prepared baking sheets.
Brush the tops of pies with egg wash.
Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.
Transfer to a cooling rack set over a baking sheet.
For the glaze:
Mix powdered sugar, vanilla and 1/3 cup cold water in a bowl until smooth.
Drizzle glaze over pies and let set until dry.

Cinnamon Elephant Ears

 

I had a special pajama clad helper in the kitchen one Sunday morning recently. No makeup, hair unbrushed…but it was magically delicious! I always thought these “elephant ears” were a short cut from a French pastry. Contrarily, my research revealed that it’s adapted from the Native Americans’ “sweet fry bread”…Either way, it’s quick, delicious, and this little three year old did most of it on his own!
A job opportunity awaits!

1 cup sugar, divided
Pinch kosher salt
1/4 t cinnamon
1 sheet puff pastry, defrosted

Preheat the oven to 450°.

Combine 1/2 cup of sugar and salt.
Pour it over a flat surface such as a wooden board.
Unfold the sheet of puff pastry onto the sugar mixture.

 

Combine 1/2 cup of sugar and the cinnamon.
Spread it evenly on the puff pastry.
(This is not about sprinkling, it’s about an even covering of sugar.)
With a rolling pin, lightly roll the dough until it’s a 13-inch square and the sugar is pressed into the puff pastry on top and bottom.
Fold the sides of the square toward the center so they go halfway to the middle.
Fold them again so the two folds meet in the middle.
Then fold one half over the other half as though closing a book.
You will have 6 layers.
Slice the dough into 3/8-inch slices.
Place the slices, cut side up, on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.

Bake the cookies for 6 minutes, or until caramelized and brown on the bottom.
Then turn over with a spatula and bake for another 3 to 5 minutes, until caramelized on the other side.
Transfer to a baking rack to cool.
Brunch Elephant Ears VI

Chicken Tenders, the Homemade Way!

I scream. You scream. Children scream for chicken tenders. Homemade that is. My three grands and another darling two year old all enjoyed these for Sunday brunch at Rock Dam (affectionate name of a fun filled home and kitchen)! Yep three generations gathered strongly; the grandparents of these lucky grands have been friends since ’round about the sixth grade. Nurturing relationships of long standing and building new ones, baby. That’s what we’re doing! Good food, good fun. (I’ll have to feature Gray’s veggie/egg strata soon!) But back to the chicken tenders…Yummy. Let’s just say that I bet you will never rarely serve your child or loved one a processed chicken product again.

Entree Chicken Gurmet Chicken Tenders I

Sautéing in light olive oil. You don’t even want to see an image of my very messy breading station!

1 cup flour
3 eggs
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/2 cup fine dried breadcrumbs
Handful flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 t granulated garlic
1 t dried oregano
Olive oil or vegetable oil, for shallow frying
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks (nice culinary term)

Place flour in a shallow dish; season with salt and pepper.
In another shallow dish, whisk eggs.
In a third shallow dish, mix panko, cheese, breadcrumbs, parsley, granulated garlic and oregano.
In a large, shallow skillet, heat 1/4 inch oil over medium-high.
Coat the chicken in flour, then eggs, then breadcrumb mixture.
When oil begins to ripple, add half the chicken.
Cook until deep golden and cooked through, about 2 minutes per side.
Transfer to paper towels or wire rack to drain.
Repeat with remaining chicken.

Serve with condiments of choice. I personally like mine dripping with honey!

Entree Chicken Gurmet Chicken Tenders II

Saturday is Game Day!

Son and Father, Justin and Wayne Hardee (L to R), Short Stop and Manager of the 1998 LLWS! (Pictured last week in Williamsport to cheer on the 2017 Greenville team.)

It’s Game Day Saturday, 3pm ESPN. Greenville North State will play for the United States Championship, and attempt to take their talents to the Little League World Series FINALS on Sunday. Yep. That’s what I said…a shot at THE title. That’s a lot for these young boys, their coaches, and families to take in. Well hello world…here comes Greenville, NC. So wake up early, break a few eggs in the skillet, lace up your shoes, jump in, and take heart. Our Hardee Family will be gathering in Raleigh at Gray and Marc’s home to watch together. There will be memories shared of the 1998 series when my brother-in-law Wayne and my nephew Justin (happily pictured above) were on the first ever Greenville team to play in the LL World Series.

Perfect Game Day Snack!

So grab a snack or three, and a beverage of choice, and give an illegally loud Whoop Whoop for the Greenville team!

 

Cream of Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

the don…It’s supposed to get cold and maybe even snow this weekend. I’ll go to the grocery if you’ll whip up a pot of that yummy chicken rice soup for the grands and me! My happy reply…dealeo! I’m here as the CFO (Chief Female Officer) of Forest Hills just helping to Empower Your Culinary Dreams, while offering a little nod to International Women’s Day.

soup-cream-of-chicken-and-wild-rice

Here’s What You’ll Need:
1 Tbs olive oil
4 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced
5 stalks celery, sliced
5 carrots, sliced
1/2 medium sweet onion, diced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 t salt
1/2 t pepper
2 bay leaves
1 t chopped dill
1 t celery seed
8 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 cup quick cooking wild rice
Breast meat of rotisserie chicken, chopped
Cup fat free sour cream
2 Tbs chopped fresh parsley

And Here’s How You Do It:
Heat oil in soup pot.
Add mushrooms, celery, carrots, and onion.
Cook, stirring often, until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes.
Add flour, and all other seasonings and stir until incorporated, about a minute.
Add broth, and bring to a boil.
Add rice, and reduce to simmer.
Cover and cook 5 to 7 minutes.
Stir in chicken, sour cream, and parsley.
Cook on medium 5 minutes, stirring half way through time.
Turn heat off, leaving pot on hot eye.
Stir again, and let sit for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Adapted from Cooking Light.
Serves 6.
380 calories for 2 cup serving.

Vegetarian Mini Enchilada

Stomp.jpg

I “Stomp”ed around Chicago with td (my husband of 41+ years!) and some friends for a few days just before the 2017 New Year. We happily played the usual suspects tourists…

beanposed with The Bean (formal name “Cloud Gate”) created and installed in 2006 by the amazing Anish Kapoor,

peg-heather-buddy

hung out with blues great, Buddy Guy, 2012 Kennedy Center Honor Recipient (please watch this video with Morgan Freeman presenting Mr. Guy with the Honor), seized this magical photo op with him at his club, Buddy Guy’s Legends), bavettesand hopped from one fantastic restaurant and hotel bar to the next. No lack there, my friends! BONUS, we enjoyed dinner one night with James Beard Award winning chef Rick Bayless at Frontera Grill. I mean, we just couldn’t even decide what to order; it all was so tempting…so we began with hand crafted margaritas. I was so inspired with our dinner, that I flew home and waked up my own kitchen, and prepared this concoction. So…take this little jewel to the bank and thank Rick B. and Peg all the way! And PtotheS…

Be Sociable, Share This! Everyone has been sharing a LOT lately, so let’s unite and share something yummy, just a nice little recipe-no politics ever on this blog-just joy and fun!

southwestern-mini-black-bean-enchiladas10 miniature 4” flour tortillas
15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
15 oz can refried beans
8 oz can red enchilada sauce
4 oz can chopped green chiles
4 oz shredded Monterey jack cheese
1 cup shredded iceberg lettuce
1/2 cup sour cream
3 Tbs thinly sliced green onions
4 Tbs chopped avocado
4 Tbs chopped cilantro
1 fresh lime, cut into wedges

Preheat oven to 350°.
Grease 12 cup muffin pan with olive oil or melted butter.
Tuck tortillas gently into cups.
Bake 12 to 14 minutes until crisp and browned.
Stir together black beans, refried beans, enchilada sauce, and green chiles in medium bowl.
Divide mixture evenly among baked tortilla cups.
Sprinkle with cheese.
Back at 350° until cheese melts, about 10 minutes.
Transfer enchiladas to serving platter.
Top evenly with lettuce.
Drizzle with sour cream.
Sprinkle with green onions, avocado, and cilantro.
Squeeze fresh lime juice over top.
Garnish with fresh lime.