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.

Suzi and her Strawberry Bread

I met Suzi, by text and chat, through the Pandemic of Love organization. We’ve never seen each other in person, but had an immediate connection. She is, in a word, amazing. She’s a giver, fun, funny, spirited, a warrior, a survivor…she never quits, wouldn’t dare give up, and conquers it all. Here’s Suzi:

I am a Savannah girl who grew up spending summers with my grandparents, aunts and uncles in Lumberton, Fairmont, and Rowland. I am blessed with very good southern cooking DNA. My family lived in different areas of NC when I was growing up, New Bern and Lake Norman were 2 of my favorites.  
My mother instilled the importance of volunteering in my siblings and me. So, I have spent my life volunteering for a variety of causes and organizations. The Red Cross, Army Family Services, The Brady Campaign & Million Mom March, Junior League, local NPR stations, school and church organizations and more.  
The two closest to my heart have come into my life in just the last few years.  Bethematch.org, because I am a 2 time stem cell transplant patient. I have stage 4 DLBC Lymphoma. I am so very lucky because my 100% match donor was found relatively quickly through the National Registry. Many, especially those of color or mixed race, spend years waiting for a transplant. I am working to register 5000 new donors before reaching my 5th “ReBirthday” June 5, 2023!
The second organization is PandemicOfLove.com. This organization started on March 14, 2020 in the beginning of the global Covid Crisis. It was started by a mom in South Florida who saw friends and neighbors suffering as businesses and schools closed. Family incomes evaporated leaving people without food and means to survive. It is a simple formula of Mutual Aid. Those who need help register for assistance with utilities, groceries, diapers, car repairs etc. Those who have enough, register to help out a neighbor in need. I manage the NC chapters of Pandemic of Love. In North Carolina in 13 months we have matched over 1000 people who connect, and neighbors help neighbors. Globally the organization has matched more than a million people. More than 55 million dollars in direct mutual aid has been given. The organization has chapters worldwide and is completely volunteer driven. We have been featured on The Kelly Clarkson Show, ABC, CBS, chosen as a CNN HERO in 2020, and many print and media outlets. Shelly Tygielski, our founder is a Nationally recognized Mindfulness and Meditation leader.  

2 cups all purpose flour
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup Greek vanilla yogurt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup canola oil
1 1/2 t pure vanilla
1 1/2 cup fresh chopped strawberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Stir sugars and egg together, mix well. 
Add oil, milk, yogurt, vanilla, and stir together thoroughly. 
Add flour, baking soda and salt; stir to combine-lumpy is ok. 
Fold in berries to combine. 
Do not over mix. 
Pour into parchment lined loaf pan. 
Bake in center of oven. 
Test after 45 minutes by inserting a toothpick and see if the bread is cooked through. 
Every oven is different and honestly every  bread and cake are different!

Hasselback Tomatoes

Hello Hello! There’s a surprise guest being featured next Friday…just think amazing person, volunteer extraordinaire (PandemicOfLove.com), deep thinker, lots more, AND she’s sharing her homemade Strawberry Bread Recipe. After all, it is the season of helping others AND of fresh strawberries. I can’t wait for you all to meet Suzi, a very recent friend and wonderful person!

This is a vintage vegetable that remains modern, and will always stand the test of time; and it’s finding a stage again in many forms. I especially love this creation because you can use it year round, since you are cooking the tomatoes. The name is derived from the restaurant where they originally introduced Hasselback Potatoes…the Hasselbacken in Stockholm, Sweden in the 1940’s. And a wise chef later decided to use the same treatment on the tomato. Put some swagger in your veggies!

6 ripe plum tomatoes, cored
8 oz Gruyere cheese, shredded
1 cup fresh basil, chopped
6 Tbs olive oil
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 t salt
1/2 t pepper

Preheat oven to broil.
Adjust oven rack 6 inches from broiling element.
Place wire rack on rim of metal baking pan.
Using serrated knife, slice small bit off long side of bottom of tomato.
(We’re making it sit flatly.)
Place tomato on that now flat side.
Slice crosswise at 1/4 inch intervals, leaving 1/4 inch  at bottom in tact.
Combine half of the Gruyere, basil, oil, panko, garlic, salt, and pepper together.
Carefully open tomato slices, and spoon a bit of mixture between slices (about 2 Tbs per tomato).
Place tomatoes on wire rack.
Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
Broil until cheese is melted, about 4 to 5 minutes.

Egg and Sausage Flatbread

Raise your antenna and begin a slow clap! This is a Southern agenda where flavors comingle. Boom…for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner.

1 sheet Phyllo Dough Pastry, thawed overnight in refrigerator
3 Tbs Everything Bagel Seasoning
1 egg beaten
2 Tbs room temperature light vegetable cream cheese
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese
6 oz spicy sausage
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
Fresh tomatoes, sautéed
4 poached eggs
1 Tbs honey, for drizzling
Chives for garnish

Preheat oven to 400°.
Brown sausage and onion together until cooked through.
Drain on paper towel.
Fold all edges of pastry over 1/2 inch to form rimmed edge. 
Brush with egg.
Sprinkle with seasoning, and press to embed.
Spread cream cheese across pastry.
Sprinkle with cheddar cheese.
Top the cheese with sausage and onion mixture.
Top this with sautéed tomatoes.
Bake 12 to 15 minutes until browned.
While that’s cooking, poach the eggs.
Remove the flatbread, top with eggs, and sprinkle with Gruyere.
Bake in oven for 5 more minutes until cheese is melted.
Drizzle with honey.
Garnish with chives and serve!

*Author’s Note: the don prefers scrambled eggs to poached eggs. So you will notice in one of the photos above that I used poached eggs on one half of the flatbread, and scrambled eggs on the other half. Feel free to mix it up in any manner that you desire!

Shrimp Waldorf Salad

One of my MOST favorite paintings ever! There was this horrible oval floral painting, that the don and I were gifted from my paternal grandmother when we married in 1975. Soon thereafter, we found it hanging in the dining room on Forest Hills, where it remained for fifteen years to our dismay. But you know, family…So years later when Torrey and I opened our gallery, the don enlisted her help for a surprise commission from Wayne Trapp for my Christmas gift. Sweet way to rid us of that awful painting. It’s me in a “Walk in the Garden”! Do you dream in color or black and white?

And speaking of walking in gardens…here are lettuce, celery, apple, grapes, cranberries, and a few more added ingredients to make the perfect lunch, brunch, or dinner salad. Artful edges!

Dressing:
1/2 cup Greek yogurt 
1 1/2 t Dijon mustard
2 Tbs honey
1 t cider vinegar 
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Sea salt and ground black pepper to taste
Toss all ingredients together in small bowl. 

Salad:
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted 
1 small head Romaine lettuce, shredded
1 lb cleaned, cooked medium shrimp 
4 small celery ribs, chopped 
1 honey crisp or Granny Smith apple, cored and cut into small pieces 
16 red grapes, halved
1/4 cup dried sweet cranberries
Put lettuce in large mixing bowl. 
Add shrimp, celery, apple, grapes, and cranberries.
Spoon in dressing. 
Toss to coat. 
Divide between 4 plates. 

Pork Tenderloin Chop with Mustard Sauce

Knock Knock, it’s Peg. A true statement with some potential craziness is headed your way right here, right now. I love sipping bone broth from a mug, especially during allergy (RIGHT NOW), cold, and flu seasons. But I cannot stand meat on a bone. I want it all boneless…fish, chicken, pork, and the twice a year red beef. So, the only pork chop that I will enjoy is one that I slice from a pork tenderloin! Who wants that thin, dry chop on a bone when you can have this yummy thick delicious “chop”?!? Leave your love life to chance, but not your cooking!

Black peppercorn pork tenderloin
1/2 t salt
1/4 t ground pepper
Cooking spray
3 Tbs butter
1/2 cup fat free chicken broth
2/3 cup fat free Half and Half
1 Tbs Dijon mustard
2 t fresh lemon juice
1 cup mushrooms, stems removed
Fresh parsley

Slice pork into 5 or 6 pieces, 1 1/2” thick.
Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.
Heat large skillet over medium high heat.
Spray with cooking spray.
Cook pork 5 to 6 minutes on both sides, until cooked through.
Transfer to plate and keep warm.
Add broth to skillet and scrape to loosen browned bits in skillet.
Add Half and Half, mustard, lemon juice, and mushrooms.
Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 6 minutes until sauce is slightly thickened.
Slice each pork piece into thirds.
Place on plate, and top with sauce and mushrooms.
Sprinkle with parsley.

Serves 6.

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.

Thai Green Curry Shrimp and Beans

A little history regarding this specifically meaningful recipe…My dear friend (and best international travel companion) and I cooked prawns (along with other wonderful Thai delicacies while sipping champagne!) all afternoon one day at the Spice Spoons Culinary Institute, Anantara Resort, Bangkok, in 2017. A few fun bits emphasized regarding prawns vs shrimp…Prawns have three pairs of claw like legs, shrimp have one. Prawns have longer legs than shrimp, and may taste a bit sweeter and meatier than shrimp, that are more delicate. Prawns are most often served with their heads on, which can be disconcerting to the novice; I know this first hand! My initial experience with these freaky little heads was in the early nineteen eighties (YES I am a fossil) in New Orleans at Pascal’s Manale and I may have gasped out loud just a little, but it was delicious. Chef Ohm was amazing during our afternoon cooking session and later that evening prepared a sumptuous private dinner for the four of us outside on the lush lawn. We all agree that this was the best “friends trip” ever!!! So…here you are with a tasty Thai Shrimp recipe that Chef shared with us! This is wicked good…enjoy in excellent health my friends!

Sometimes you just have to sip fresh coconut milk from a freshly cooled and cut coconut when it’s offered. And this is what we are using in the following recipe!

Here’s what you need:
12 oz linguine
12 oz fresh green beans, trimmed, and cut into 2 inch pieces
1/3 cup green curry paste
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (plus additional leaves for garnish)
3 Tbs olive oil (add more if needed)
3/4 to 1 cup coconut milk (see pic above!)
1 lb large, cleaned shrimp*
1 cup pasta water (more if needed)
1/2 cup cilantro
2 Tbs fresh lime juice

*We love the shrimp, and everything, from Captain Jim’s Seafood, Atlantic Beach, NC
(if you’re in the area).
Typically, they deliver to Greenville every other Saturday.
Best seafood, and best personal service ever!

Here’s how you prepare it:
Bring large pot of water boil.
Add linguine and cook 5 to 7 minutes. (Check package directions.)
Add fresh green beans.
Cook until crisp tender, probably 3 minutes.
Reserve 1 cup or more of pasta water.
Drain pasta and green beans.
In large skillet, cook curry paste and cilantro in oil, over medium heat, stirring 2 to 3 minutes, until fragrant.
Add coconut milk, season with salt, and bring to simmer.
Cook 2 minutes until slightly thickened.
Stir in shrimp and cook 2 to 3 minutes.
Remove from heat.
Stir in pasta, green beans, and lime juice.
Add reserved pasta water to create a silky sauce.
Toss to coat.
Serve with lime wedges and cilantro.

Quick Cauliflower Soup

There’s a long version I can share if you really want me to; but I was in a hurry this go around. I have a dear friend who took a tumble and fractured her jaw. Long story short, she needs to eat cream, pudding, a bowl full of mush* (nod to Goodnight Moon) and yummy homemade soup… for weeks. So I raced to the kitchen and made this Speedy Gonzales version of Cauliflower Soup (bonus, no cream!) and it turned out deliciously. Took every possible short cut known to this gal, and I’m hooking you straight up good people. So resurrect your middle school trapper keeper and take some notes. You have a choice…keep your old habits, or make new ones. It doesn’t need to be a complex tapestry!

3 Tbs olive oil
2 bags frozen chopped onions
1/2 t red pepper
2 cans cubed white potatoes, drained
3 bags frozen chopped cauliflowers, garlic flavored
10 cups low sodium vegetable stock
2 t ground oregano
2 t dried thyme
2 t freshly ground black pepper
1/2 t kosher salt
1 1/2 t parsley paste**

In large soup pot, heat oil over medium heat.
Add onion and red pepper.
Cook until softened, 5 to 6 minutes.
Add potatoes, cauliflower, stock, oregano, thyme, pepper, salt, and parsley paste.
Bring to simmer, and cook covered, until tender, about 30 minutes.
Blend with an immersion blender (or standard blender) until smooth.

This recipe made 6 quarts.
May easily cut in half. But i have several friends in need of some love…and since we can’t hug currently, hanging a quart of soup and a loaf of homemade bread on the doorknob works rather well.
Simple bread recipe coming soon!
Freezes beautifully.

* pic of mush
** would usually garnish with fresh parsley, but since i was putting it in containers, I mixed the paste in for the added flavor.

Everything Bagel Cheese Twists

A word from my kitchen…This is just the perfect little accompaniment for your afternoon tea or appetizer for cocktail hour. In my household, they are loved equally by both children and adults. The children like cheese on all of the twists and bagel spices on only half of the twists. The choice is yours, and it’s always right. The children and I have been making these together for years, because a good recipe never gets old!

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed overnight in refrigerator
1 large egg, beaten
2 Tbs everything bagel seasoning
1/4 cup grated Assiago cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
Roll out dough to smooth creases.
Cut puff pastry sheet in half crosswise, (I like using a pizza cutter for ease!) on lightly floured surface.
Then cut each half into 1″ wide strips.
Brush with egg wash.
Sprinkle with bagel seasoning and cheese (The children and I made half with bagel seasoning and half with just cheese).
Roll with rolling pin to set the ingredients into the pastry.
Twist each strip a few times.
Place on baking sheet.
Bake 18 minutes; rotate baking sheet; bake 4 more minutes until golden brown.
Remove from oven and let cool.