I found a secret stash of blog posts that I never published this summer. Dreaming of warm summer days already.
I could literally eat my weight in stone fruit but mostly peaches. I mean real peaches. Not peach flavored candy, seltzer, fruit cups, etc. Plain Nasty. Luckily I have living in peach heaven. They're everywhere!!!! I stopped into the Greensboro Farmers Market to see what was available. They were selling small buckets of gorgeous peaches for $8.00, score! As I was forking over my cash I saw buckets peaches for only $4.00. Apparently they were the less pretty, slightly banged up ones. They just screamed JAM! I walked away with WAY more peaches than I should have tackled but what the heck, you only live once. I peeled and chopped my way through my pile of goodies. Peaches look so pretty once they are peeled. They're glossy, golden hued and smell so good! Can I just roll around in a pool of peaches? J/K... or am I? I made some Peach Jam (a Food in Jars recipe) and some Peach soup. Before you knock it, try it. It's a cold soup, similar to gazpacho (my other favorite summer soup) It's refreshing and easy. The only sweetness in the soup is the peaches. I have paired it with steamed shrimp for an easy summer meal.
from Cooking Light
No, I'm not from Boston. EEEWWWWW (as Jimmy Fallon would say. Actually he probably wouldn't say that because he's from Boston). I was making my grocery list and dug into my Pinterest food board for some inspiration. Low and behold I have whipped up a batch of Chipotle Corn Chowder. But first let me mention...
MAJOR LIFE UPDATE: I know this isn't Facebook official but in case you haven't heard. My sweet boyfriend Nathan has moved down to NC to be closer to me!!!! Everything happened pretty quickly. He moved down in literally 2 weeks. Unfortunately we're still living kinda apart. His job is about 2.5 hours from Winston Salem where I work. He has moved to the little town of Morganton which is WAY cooler than Mocksville where I live. Luckily the distance between Mocksville and Morganton is only an hour. So I am spending lots of time checking out Morganton. I decided to trek out to see what the food supply was like around this place. Let me tell you, NC is the land of Walmart. I loath Walmart for a variety of reasons. But it is one of the few places I can snag food around here. There is a grocery store chain down the road called Ingles. I don't know if I should pronounce it IN-GLAZE (in my best Spanish accent) or INGLES (rhyming with tingles) who cares. Either way, the food shopping around here is pretty limited. As much as I hate to say it, Walmart had a surprising organic selection, crazy variety of produce and everything is way cheap. I got a box of organic kale for 99 cents. I can see why it's so alluring. It's essentially the devil of grocery stores. Somebody loan me a cross? Yet again I digress...
So I was gathering my supplies to make a feast of food for the next few days. Nate has been surviving on PB&J, raisins, nuts and milk. I don't know how that is even possible. I think he likes when I come around and make food. I can't imagine why...
So I dug up a recipe off Pinterest and made it. It was really easy, very tasty. I hope Nate eats it for dinner tonight. If he doesn't I will eat if for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I LOVE SOUP. It is a major staple of my fall and winter diet (diet as my daily food selection, not that i'm on a soup diet, can you imagine...lol).
I've also included some pics of Nate's new place and one of the cool breweries that's literally 5 minutes from his place. It's not Pinnochios but it will definitely do.
Chipotle Chicken Corn Chowder
1 can chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 poblano pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried thyme
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk
2 cups chicken stock
6 small red potatoes, peeled and diced small
4 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)
4 ounces Cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)
2 cups diced, cooked chicken
1 (30-ounce) can sweet corn, drained
1 (15-ounce) can cream-style corn
1 cup crushed tortilla chips
Juice from 1 lime (about 2 tablespoons)
Chopped cilantro, to garnish (optional)
1. Remove one chile from the can of chiles and mince it. Remove 1 teaspoon of the adobo sauce and set it aside to be used later. You can save the remaining chiles and sauce for another use.
2. Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven or stock pot over medium heat. Add the poblano pepper, red bell pepper, the chile from the can, cumin, thyme and oregano, and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the peppers become soft. Add the garlic, stir and cook for an additional 30 seconds, or until fragrant.
3. Stir in the flour with a wooden spoon and cook for 1 minute, or until there is no longer any visible raw flour. Slowly stir in the milk and chicken broth, scraping up any bits from the bottom of the pan as you stir.
4. Add the potatoes, bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender and can be easily pierced with a knife.
5. Add the shredded cheeses a handful at a time, stirring after each addition until the cheese is completely melted.
6. Finally, stir in the chicken, both cans of corn, the tortilla chips, lime juice and the reserved 1 teaspoon of adobo sauce. Cover and cook for an additional 10 minutes, or until the soup is completely heated through. Serve immediately.
Note: If you have leftovers that have been refrigerated and reheated, you may need to thin out the soup with some extra chicken stock, as it may thicken up in the refrigerator.
*** I strayed from this recipe a little bit to make it my own. For starters, I didn't have any of the herbs, so I left them out. I added a whole chopped red onion in with the peppers and I left out the tortilla chips. .All I could imagine was soggy chips, EEEWWWWW! I substituted frozen corn for canned. I think it's fresher, maybe that's all in my head. I also used 2% milk to shave some calories. ****
I found a bunch of old posts that I forgot to publish. This one is from a few years ago when I had first moved to North Carolina. Looking back on some of these posts makes me laugh. HAHAHAHAH I was so lame, but not really.
It's a good thing I like jam because Nathan barely makes a dent our stock of jam/jellies/pickles. I was horrified to discover he had gone to the grocery store and bought a jar of Smuckers Strawberry Jam for his PB+J. Apparently I jam I make is "too fancy for PB+J". I transformed into the hulk, "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?! I SLAVE OVER A HOT STOVE TO MAKE HOMEMADE JAM AND YOU BUY THIS CRAP!" Let's just say I made my point and there is no sign of that garbage anywhere in the apartment. On a positive note, when Nate does like something he will gobble it all up. I made some of Marisa McClellan's tomato jam last summer and have been slathering it on toast with cheese, sneaking it on burgers, basically using it anywhere you would stick ketchup. He was a bit resistant but eventually tried some and thankfully liked it. YAY!!! Since I knew it was a hit I added it to my list things to put up this summer. I got some great looking tomatoes for 1.50 a pound and made quick work of this jam. What I like most about it is how easy it is and you don't have to peel or seed these 'maters. Just chop everything up and let it cook down into a sticky, jammy mess.
Tomato Jam with Smoked Paprika
from Food in Jars
I went a little wild and bought 9 lbs of cukes at Produce Junction. *** this tale of massive produce buying will haunt in the future too. It was only last summer (2015) that I walked to the local farmers market for some eggs and came home with 10lbs of cukes because it was a great deal but also because I felt bad for the poor old farmer guy that everyone was ignoring. I will never learn.*** I only had 6 hours left in my mini vacation before I had to head back to work for 6 days in a row.*** Another side note, I have no fricken idea how I managed to work 6 nursing shifts in a row. I must have been Wonder Woman because now I only work 3 in a row at most and it literally kills me. Maybe I was high on New Grad knowledge or I was almost killing people without realizing it. *** It was now or never. Plus I had a bunch of peaches, tomatoes, peppers and meals for the week to cook up. Afterwards I am glad I got it all done but it was a mad dash to the finish line. I now realize I might have bitten off more than I could choose. In those six hours I made
Ham and Cheese grits
Salads for lunch
Afterwards I was L'exausted. I had to do something with all those cucumbers so I made 2 different recipes. Hop Pickles and Old Bay Pickles. I love scoping out different kinds of pickles and then trying to find a copy cat recipe on the internet. At Whole Foods they sell some tasty looking pickles but I'm not paying $7-10 for a jar of artesinal pickles. ARE YOU CRAZY! So when I saw that Brooklyn Brine Co. was teaming up with Dogfish head brewery for beer pickles I knew I needed to figure out how to make these. I was a little bit of rebel and didn't dunk my pickles in a hot water bath to process them. Before you freak out listen to my reasoning. After canning for awhile you develope a certain sense of comfort in fiddling with recipes. I have read in the past that for cucumber pickles they don't necessarily need to be processed as long as you are using hot jars, hot liquid and maintaining a 50/50 water to vinegar ratio. There is so much vinegar and salt in the brine that it is nearly impossible for anything to grow. That being said it is something you have to decide for yourself. This is the first time I have done cucumbers this way but I knew that I would be the only one eating them (Nate hates pickles) and I still give everything I can a close look before I gobble it up. You can still process them if you like. I was just looking for another way to make my pickles crisp and save some time.
from Cupcake Rehab
MARILLA’S HOP-PICKLES MADE WITH IPA
MAKES ABOUT 4 PINTSIngredients:
*** I omitted the 2 cups of water since you need a 50/50 ratio of acid to water/beer. It's always better to go a little heavy on the vinegar and skimp of the water instead of the other way around.****
Explanation from someone else on skipping the hot water bath...
Before anyone gets on my ass, no I didn’t process them. I figured the salt & vinegar was enough to ensure safety, not to mention the fact that I had a feeling they’d be opened & eaten fairly quickly. If you want to process them, then go right ahead. An experienced canner should know exactly how long, etc (as a general rule it’s 10 minutes for pint jars, 15 for quart). However there are a lot of pickle recipes (like this one) that don’t require processing, the lids seal as soon as the liquid/jars cool. I’ve never had a problem with doing pickles this way now & then, but obviously you need to make sure all of your produce is 100% clean and that your equipment is 100% sterilized, and that you’re using white vinegar with 5% acidity. Yes, yes, yes, I know the USDA would have my head for that. But whatever. I’m nothing if not a rebel.
Old Bay Pickles
From Coconut & Lime
4 medium zucchini, cut into forths and to fit pint jars (I just swapped cukes for the zucchini)
1 1/2 cup white vinegar
1 1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons pickling salt
2 tien tsin dried peppers
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dillseed
2 teaspoons Old Bay
2 teaspoons yellow mustard seed
2 cloves garlic
Bring the vinegar, water and salt to a boil. Prep the lids/jars. Evenly divide all of the ingredients between 2 wide mouth pint jars Pour in the vinegar mixture. Close the jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace and process for 10 minutes in a hot water bath. Allow to sit 2 weeks before eating.
Yield: 2 pints
I got real lucky when I found my current roommate situation in Mocksville. Not only is she really laid back but her Dad has a farm down the road from the house. One of the perks is that we get produce from the farm. Last time Kim went over she asked if I wanted any veggies. I said I would take whatever. Well that ended up being a whole bucket of beets, 8 heads of cabbage, 3 bags of kale, mushrooms and a bunch of onions. SCORE! I made quick work of the cabbage and made a second attempt at making kraut. This time I made sure if was submerge in brine and checked on it daily. But then I went to PA for a long weekend… when I returned the kitchen smelled REALLY funky. I know fermented stuff takes on an odor. When I checked on the kraut there was some colorful blooms of mold growing on the top of the brine (totally normal, just skim the funk off) but then I looked closer and saw a bigger problem. MAGGOTS! Ewww!!!!! Make my skin crawl! Lots of time little while worm things crawling everywhere. I called up my Mom to see if I could salvage the kraut and just skim them off. She said NO WAY! Throw it out. You need to watch kraut EVERYDAY, lesson learned. As I tossed the batch into the compost head I could smell the lovely scent of the sauerkraut from the bottom of the jar that was maggot free. Bummer. Luckily I had some kraut brewing in different jars that had not been affected.
I had to do something with the rest of the produce. I made kale pesto, stuck it into ice cube trays and froze those bad boys for a rainy day. The mushrooms were made into barley risotto Trader Joes style (apparently Nate says it’s one the the best things I have made in the past) and some oven roasted beets. It took me all afternoon to cook up this stuff but I am set for the week. All I need to do is nosh on my prepared meals. No cooking!!!!
This recipe is pretty loose. Feel free to add or delete whatever you like to suit your flavors.
Big bunch of kale (stems removed)
5 cloves garlic
½ c. nuts (I used pecans)
½ c. parm
¼ c. EVOO
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
A couple good shakes of crushed red pepper flakes
Pulse everything in a food processor, slowly add EVOO in while the processor is running.
Warning, this post might be a little sappy
I'm sure everyone says this but I have the cutest niece. I’m lucky to have a real cute niece who is turing 3 TODAY. It’s hard to believe that it’s been 3 years since she made “Christmas in July”(she was born on July 25th) I do remember I was in the midst of driving back and forth to Philadelphia that summer lugging all of my personal possessions for my final move at the end of the summer. Melissa was as big as a boat and I got the call that things had started to move. Luckily it took some time for Nora to make her appearance so I was able to see Melissa before the final labor process began. I was the FIRST of the Socha clan to get my hands on her. She was so tiny and cute I could have died! I soaked her up for the next month and then I had to head out to Philly to start my adventures in being a Nanny and hopefully get into a nursing program (Luckily I was accepted AND passed). The night before I left I went over to Lissa and T-Pet’s casa for some last bits of snuggles. I must have looked like a crazy person. Melissa is in the kitchen taking a break while I was with Nora crying. Melissa was alarmed, “What’s wrong?” I started balling that Nora wasn’t going to know who I was since she wasn’t going to be seeing me as often. Psshhh, I was freaking out over nothing. Skype dates gave me the chance to see Nora and I drove home as often as I could to see as much as I could. I love to go home but the real reason I go back as often as I do is to see Nora. I want her to know who I am. I wish Melissa didn’t have to feed her so much because she grew at an alarming rate. I guess that happens with kids. As Nora grew she became more and more exciting. It was fun to watch her roll around, then she was clapping, watching her starting to walk was fun too (like a drunk sailor) and then she started to talk. I could have died when she started to say my name. (Even though she still gets me confused with Emma, I don’t know how…) Every time I go home we get to do more and more things. Last time I went to VT we hit up Duke’s creemee stand, our first unsupervised outing. It took her FOREVER to eat her cone. It was only filled to the brim, not even a full baby creemee. Melted, sticky mess everywhere. While we were sitting there she was chatting away “ It’s a beautiful day, tomorrow we go to the library? Baby brother can’t eat ice cream, makes his belly sick” I just love her too much. Now when we Skype she asks me “ Whatcha doin Ashee?” and jumps around like a Mexican jumping bean. She says crazier and crazier things. She recently is really into “boobie shows”, I don’t even know what that is. She is just the best little person. My sister and T-Pet have taken the hard job of parenthood and molded such a wonderful little person. Now not only do I have the most wonderful little niece to love, I ALSO HAVE A NEPHEW! I can’t wait to see what kind of a person Henry turns into. I just know I can’t wait to go home and spend time with both of them, oh yeah and I guess I should probably see the rest of the fam too.
I don’t have much of a sweet tooth. In fact I have more of a salt tooth. Mom and I joke that we want to be buried with a salt lick around our necks when we croak. For the insane amount of salt I consume I have somehow been fortunate to have low BP but I know I’m living on borrowed time. When I do have the occasional pang for something sweet I usually have nothing in the house to eat and it’s usually fueled by raging lady hormones. I was having a major craving for my Aunt Val’s Black Bottom cupcakes. (Mom don’t kill me for sharing this wonderful recipe)
Mom would make these for holidays and special occasions. I remember them the most around Halloween. Mom tried to make up for not letting us go trick or treating by making baked goods to compensate. No trick or treating for the Socha girls? Yep, Mom and Dad said the neighborhood wasn’t safe enough and we weren’t supporting “The devil’s holiday”. Eventually I wore them out and was able to go trick or treating for the first time much to Mom’s dismay when I was in 7th grade. She assured me that Aunt Val was rolling in her grave at the thought of me trick or treating. Mom’s guilt trip obviously didn’t work. Since we were lacking in the costume department and Mom wasn’t going to buy me a costume I went as a scarecrow. I went with my gal pals to Woodcrest Circle, which was THE place for Halloween. There were tons of houses in that development. I couldn’t believe all the candy I got. All the excitement was followed by a slumber party at Kristina Steves. BEST NIGHT EVER (for a 7th grade girl)
These cupcakes are super easy to make which is good because I hate to bake. You have to be exact with baking, not my strong suit. I was feeling cheap and didn’t want to buy cocoa powder since I saw a can in the cupboard and Kim is more than happy to share pantry supplies with me. After whipping up the batter and sticking these puppies in the oven I noticed the color of the batter was a bit off. That’s when I checked out the expiration date on the cocoa powder. November 2010. Whoops, a little bit old but the cupcakes were already in the oven. Oh well, I can’t let good food go to waste. I ate them anyway. In fact I ate them for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This is one of the pitfalls of living without Nate. I have to eat everything I cook. I offered some to my roomie but she obviously declined. She had a whole cake to eat, which I helped a little bit with that too (I hope she didn’t notice/care).
Auntie Val’s Black Bottom Cupcakes
Makes 18 cupcakes
8 oz cream cheese room temp
pinch of salt
6 oz. chocolate chips
1 ½ c. flour
¼ c. cocoa powder
1 c. sugar
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 c. water
1/3 c. oil
1 tbsp. vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla
Mix cream cheese, egg, salt and chips together and set aside.
Sift together dry ingredients and set aside. Mix fluids. Next mix wet and dry ingredients together by hand. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full. Add 1 tbsp of cream cheese mixture to top eat cupcake. Bake at 350 for 30-35 mins.
Bourbon and BBQ are kind of a big deal around here. I'm trying to acquire a taste for bourbon. Mostly because I have a bottle of it back in PA that I have leftover from a bacon jam recipe. I found bourbon lemonade cocktail that I AMAZING. It’s refreshing, strong and let’s me taste a little bit of the bourbon flavor without being overpowering. It was so good that I bought a handle to have here in NC so I can have a cocktail at either house. A popular shot at the bars around here is the pickle back. It’s a shot of bourbon/whisky followed by a chaser of pickle juice. It sounds right up my alley. Since I eat pickles insanely fast I always have leftover pickle brine that is so jam-packed full of my favorite flavors that often ends up down the drain because I don’t know what to do with it. I was surfing the web for suggestions on what to do with this flavor packed pickle brine. I came across a blog with a recipe for pickle back ice lollies (popsicles). This sounded right up my alley. I was starting to like the flavor of bourbon in small amounts and I LOVE PICKLED anything. I filled my Popsicle molds with 2 tsp. of bourbon per mold and topped it off with spicy lemon cauliflower pickle brine. I stashed these puppies in the freezer overnight and couldn’t wait to try them out the next time after a long day at work. Alcoholic popsicles are a genius idea.
These popsicles are VILE. Don’t make them, EWWWW! It’s not the pickle juice that’s bad, they’re just so strong. I feel like I'm sucking on a rubbing alcohol ice cube. I tried multiple attempts to enjoy it but after 3 good licks I have to trash it. Luckily I only made 4. I’m thinking about taking the remaining ones and sticking them into a bloody Mary as a chiller. Too much concentrated bourbon flavor for me.
Instead I will enjoy my bourbon in this lemonade. I have also used rhubarb syrup from Food in Jars as my sweetener.
Rhubarb Syrup Recipe
BOURBON GINGER FIZZ
makes 1 glass
I've been a bit busy, I feel like that is how I start all of my posts lately. I have been lucky enough to spend some serious time in Pennsylvania over the last 2 weekends, unfortunately I have to drive 8 hours to get there so that bites into some of my free time. But overall it was nice to do normal errands with Nate and eat at our favorite places and sleep next to a warm and familiar body without worrying if someone was going to make me into a kebab while I slept. Here are some of the super cool things I've done...
I am an aquarius who likes long walks on the beach and the flicker of candle light. If you haven't noticed yet, Just kidding! I'm a Vermonter who has left my beautiful home state in search of adventure. This blog contains all of my favorite things, mostly food so that my family back home can keep tabs on me. Mom & Dad I'm still alive!!!! Side note: I am terrible at spelling and grammar. There are bound to be typos all over this blog. It's like Where's Waldo. If you look hard enough you will find an error.