Every Day/Evening Sangria

Our family has always enjoyed the properties of a single, simple glass of Sangria, especially following a L.O.N.G. day of walking streets, touring museums, scouring markets, and absorbing culture in a distant city…or simply picking up the 5 year olds for the week right here in ENC (Eastern North Carolina)! The top pics below are from a treasured Thanksgiving holiday in London, on a quiet little street in Brenton’s neighborhood, when she was there and studying at Sotheby’s. Dare I say a magical adventure. The London version is a white wine Sangria, and my recipe is for a delightful red wine Sangria. Cheers!

2 oranges, sliced
2 lemons, sliced
2 Tbs superfine sugar
2 (1/5th size ) bottles red wine
2/3 cup Grand Marnier
1 red apple, cored and sliced into thin wedges
Club soda to top up

Place half orange and lemon slices in large pitcher.
Sprinkle with sugar.
Leave to commingle flavors 15 minutes.
Add wine and Grand Marnier.
Refrigerate 1 hour or more.
When ready to serve, add apple slices, remaining orange and lemon slices.
Add ice to tall glasses and pour over.
Top up with small bit of club soda.

Strawberry Goat Cheese Crostini

It’s still strawberry season, so don’t sit under the apple tree; get yourself to the strawberry fields. Then bring the berries home, race to the kitchen, and make this treat to tickle those taste buds. And the crunch factor of the toast just adds a bonus to the mouth feel. Enjoyed by adults and children of all ages. Just sitting back smiling!

4 slices wheat/seed bread*
4 oz fresh goat cheese
Pint strawberries, hulled and sliced
3 Tbs maple syrup
2 Tbs olive oil
1/4 t salt
1/2 t fresh ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350°.
On parchment lined baking sheet, toss together strawberries, syrup, olive oil, and salt.
Bake, stirring twice, until berries are slightly shrunken and juices are syrupy, about 30 minutes.
Let cool slightly.
Toast the wheat bread and brush with olive oil.
Spread with fresh goat cheese.
Top with berries.
Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper.
Enjoy for breakfast.
Or cut into pieces for appetizers.

FYI…a cup of strawberries has more vitamin C than a cup of oranges, and almost as much fiber as brown rice. 
Leftover berries can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Makes 16 appetizers.

*My favorite wheat and seed breads are made by Food for Life, specifically Genesis and Ezekial.


I

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!

Grape and Goat Cheese Bruschetta

I mean seriously, have you ever seen the cooking show Naughty and Delicious? There is a wonderful Brit gal that is as charming as the English countryside…for me, that means the city of London… I’ve been watching her for a while now and hoped to bump in to her on my three day layover in London last year! Alas, that didn’t happen. But to satisfy all of us until I do meet her, here’s a great easy on the cook Bruschetta, reminiscent of her.

Dodge those raindrops outside!Appetizer Grape Goat Cheese Bruschetta
1/2 small sourdough loaf, cut into six 1/2″ slices
1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, cut in half
1 1/2 cups red seedless grapes, cut in half lengthwise
1/2 cup green seedless grapes, cut in half lengthwise
6 fresh mint leaves
3/4 cup soft goat cheese, room temperature
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon

Preheat oven to 400°.
Brush both sides of bread slices with oil.
Toast on middle rack 1 minute.
Turn and cook another minute until bread is crispy on both sides.
Rub each slice of hot bread with cut garlic clove as it comes out of the oven.

Add 3 Tbs oil to skillet over medium heat.
Add red grapes and sauté until warm and softened, about 3 minutes.
Add green grapes and toss just to warm. Remove to a bowl.

Add mint leaves to the hot oil and fry until crisp, 15 to 20 seconds.
Remove to paper towel to drain.

Spread goat cheese over one side of each piece of toast.
Top with mound of warm grapes.
Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper.
Top with a mint leaf.
Zest the lemon generously over each slice.

Frozen Lemon Pie

Friday Post Script, a day later than the Thursday Pie Post…Bull City Little League cancelled the weekend tournament. I must say that with my personal fear of Covid, I was relieved in a sense. the don and I were looking so forward to being with Liam for a few days, and Liam was very disappointed, as he adores baseball. Alas, healthy decisions were made by caring coaches and I say a warm thank you to Ray and all involved! Cheers to you and many future tournament weekends together!

I know…It’s been a second since I’ve been here; precisely it’s been 35,942,400 seconds! Yes, I calculated it (meaning that Google actually did the math)! But who’s counting?! Let’s move onward; summer may technically be over since Labor Day has come and gone. But the hot and muggy summer weather still persists here in good ole Eastern North Carolina. So whip up this light and breezy lemon fruit pie for the weekend. Perfection in a pie shell! I’m heading to see the Grands this afternoon, pie in hand. We’re ready for a weekend of Bull City Little League with Liam, all while being smart, wearing masks, and trying our darnedest to remain healthy.  Doing my best to stay safe y’all…my buddies know I’ve been totally reclusive since February! Let’s continue to take care of each other, and always eat pie when it’s available!
Dessert Lemon Pie III

This is All You need!
6 oz frozen lemon concentrate can, thawed
8 oz container whipped topping, thawed*
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 9” graham cracker pie shell, purchased or homemade

And This is How You Do It!
With electric mixer or blender, beat together lemon concentrate and condensed milk.
Fold in whipped topping.

Spread mixture in pie crust; cover and freeze, 6 hours or overnight.
Take pie out of freezer about 15 minutes before serving time.

Garnish with raspberries, blueberries, cherries, strawberries, lemon slices, and edible flower petals.
Slice and serve.

*I prefer Cool Whip Lite.
It does not change the consistency or flavor of pie, and saves those calories.

Strawberry Brunch/Tea Sandwiches

Brunch Strawberry Cream Cheese Tea Sandwiches.jpgYummy…All the Way Down the  Throat. No joke. This is a total software update for your palate…and speaking of which; it totally looks like the palette for a still life…calling Kristin!! Since strawberry season is in full swing here, I’m taking it straight to the kitchen. Hope that you do the same. With the marinade in this recipe, any strawberry will work if you live in an “off berry season”!

1 cup thinly slices strawberries
1 Tbs white balsamic vinegar
1 t honey
Pinch of salt and pepper
Vegetable cream cheese, room temperature (I prefer light)
Bunch baby arugula
8 slices white bread, edged, and cut in half

Toss together berries, balsamic, honey, and salt.
Let sit 30 minutes, then drain.
Spread cheese on all bread slices.
Season 8 bread halves with salt and pepper.
Layer strawberries across these halves.
Top with arugula.
Top with remaining bread slices.

Makes 8 tea sandwiches.

Stove Top Cinnamon Apples

Fruit Stove Top ApplesSimple old fashioned goodness here! The fresh fall apples are abundant and we need a little fruit with our turkey, right?! This recipe is ages old, but some things are just worth passing down. I added fresh Beelicious honey, nod to Judy and Matt, and loved the difference it made. Top it with vanilla bean ice cream and call it dessert. Gobble Gobble good people of the world wide web!

8 apples, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup honey
1 t cinnamon
1 t vanilla extract

Place apple chunks in soup pot.
Separately heat sugars, butter, honey, and cinnamon over medium heat 4 minutes until everything is dissolved.
Remove from heat and add vanilla extract.
Pour over apples.
Simmer on medium low 30 minutes, until apples are tender.

Lemon Dressed Melon

Zing into summer with this must eat! Simple, and rewarding. Just sharing the love of dressing up a simple melon lunch or supper “side”. Using my Beelicious honey from Judy and Matt again. Yum to the tum. Be on the lookout later this week for a savory mahi dish to pair with this melon salad…and the perfect refreshing Limoncello cocktail for pairing.Fruit Salad MelonZest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
1 Tbs dry sherry
1 Tbs honey
1/8 t kosher salt
1/4 t ground pepper
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cantaloupe
1/2 honeydew
3 Tbs fresh torn mint

In medium bowl whisk together lemon zest, lemon juice, sherry, honey, salt, and pepper.
Slowly add olive oil, whisking until combined.
Cut melons in half and remove seeds.
Slice into 2 inch wide wedges.
Using a mandolin cut melons into ribbons.
Add melon ribbons to dressing and toss to coat.
Place on plate.
Sprinkle with mint.

Of course, if you don’t have a mandolin, you can cube the melon or use a melon baller to shape into balls.Fruit Melon Salad III