Easy Fourth of July Recipes for Your Patriotic Party Needs

June 28, 2013 in Uncategorized

Patriotic Cookie Tarts

Easy enough for a preschooler to make. And – Pretty enough for a fancy picnic.

So if you come to my house anytime in July – and. really, who am I kidding? August, too – you will see red white and blue decor everywhere. Little Uncle Sams and Betsy Rosses abound. Flags in various shapes and sizes. And, I LOVE making red, white and blue food. Isn’t it nice of Mother Nature to produce red and blue fruits for us on the Fourth of July???

So, here, food fans, is two of our favorite from right here at Apron Strings. Easy. Last minute. Festive. Flavorful. (( No saluting required! ))

How about these Red White and Blueberry Cookie Tarts that you can even make with tiny kids! Can’t wait for Little Miss Ruby to get old enough to make these with me! (And, yes, I pointed that out so that I could post a cute pic of my little grand darlin’)

Ruby Fourth of July

Itsy Bitsy Betsy Ross!

And finally, I am re-sharing these American Flag fruit skewers I just posted a week ago. An astute commentor pointed out that I had the stripes going the wrong way. Dang it. So, no worries – here are new photos with the correctly positioned stripes!

Fruit Skewers 1

Check out the original INCORRECTLY placed stripes on our original post of American Flag Fruit Skewers.

And, here’s another pic just to reaffirm that I do know what the American flag looks like!

Fruit Skewers 3

Have Fun on the Fourth All!

– posted by Donna

Real Fruit Flavored No Sugar Lemonades

May 30, 2013 in Uncategorized

Flavored Lemonades

Summertime and the Livin’ is Easy, especially if you are sitting on a porch swing with a flavored lemonade to sip. Southern Belle fan optional, but recommended.

I love making lemonade with a simple syrup base. But I have discovered that using stevia makes lemonade that is just as delicious. This is when the fun starts. Fruit and herb flavorings for lemonade turn a classic drink into a Wow! drink. I like this ratio: 8 cups water; juice from 4 lemons (plus a little lemon zest if you like), and 1/2 cup stevia. The sweetness level is between you and your taste buds, but I like mine less sweet.

As for the additional flavorings, the possible combos are endless. I do have some favorites so far, although I must add that I will be experimenting all summer long on this one. == Must sacrifice in the name of research, no? == So here are my top three – so far: Pineapple Thyme Lemonade, Cucumber Dill Lemonade and Peach Ginger Lemonade. All refreshing.

The key to getting intense flavors into your lemonade is using freshly muddled fruit and herbs – the technique is hilariously demo’ed over at Chow.

I am not the only one who loves flavored lemonades. Check out some other food bloggers. These lemony drinks are easy enough for kids to make. Or, they can be fancied up for guests with fruit ice cubes.Smoked and Salted Lemonades? Why not? Must try Basil and Mint Lemonade next. I’m also craving sparkling Rosemary Ginger Lemonade.

So many lemonades! So few lazy summer days!

Flavored Lemonades 2

 

– posted by Donna

Remembrance

December 17, 2012 in Uncategorized

Blog Remembrance

Peach Cobbler Upside Down Cake Recipe

September 5, 2012 in Uncategorized

Peach Cake Square

Peach Almond Upside Down Cake

Classic peach cobbler flavors can take so many forms – why not cake?

Peaches always bring back such great summer childhood memories for me.

My brother and I would visit our grandparents in Cochise Stronghold in southeast Arizona and we would earn money by picking peaches. Juicy, ripe white-fleshed peaches. Eat right off the trees peaches. Drip down your elbows peaches. In the Arizona heat after several hours peach fuzz  got everywhere – all over our hands and arms, in the sweat that was dripping down our necks,  in our hair and even tickling our nostrils.

But we pressed on – knowing we were getting rich on that paycheck of 50 cents an hour. And a splash in a cool mountain stream – and picking wild watercress – awaited us at the end of the day. We picked bushels and bushels, and ate ourselves sick as we picked. And then there was grandma’s peach cobbler at night. I am pretty sure there is a law somewhere that says if you’re a grandma, you MUST make peach cobbler. Not optional.  This grandma had only two dishes that were predictably exquisite: beans and ham hocks and peach cobbler.

Peach cobbler is one of my very favorite desserts. And, I’m in good company – even the fabulously low-glycemic Kalyn of Kalyn’s Kicthen has a weakness for this peachy deliciousness.  Maybe that is why I love this cake so much –  peach cobbler flavors and textures. This cake is mostly soft, sweet baked peaches with a little cake at the bottom. And I love the upside-down approach!

Peach Almond Upside Down Cake

– posted by Donna

 

Read the rest of this entry →

Slow Cooker in the Summer: Mediterranean Eggplant Salad

July 30, 2012 in Uncategorized, Vegan Recipes

Slow Cooked Mediterranean Eggplant Salad

 

It’s more or less accepted that Portland is the Food Cart Capital  of the nation, right? Naturally, I get a lot of inspiration from the highly evolved food truck fare around here. My most recent inspiration came from the cart called Gonzo, which specializes in Israeli and Mediterranean street food. Their falafel, made from dried and soaked chickpeas, is by far the best I’ve ever had – and I consider myself at least a casual authority on the matter after eating it from various sources nearly daily during the second trimester of my pregnancy. (I was a tad obsessed.)

So it was the falafel that pulled me in, but another menu item kept me coming back – a cold eggplant salad with a fantastic, mildly smoky slow-roasted flavor. I set out to make it right away, but the thought of keeping a pot on the stove for hours during July temperatures was less appealing, even if the result was a cool salad. Solution: Slow cooker, of course!  I tried this two ways: once sauteeing the onion and peppers first and then transferring them to the slow cooker with the rest of the ingredients, and then a second time just throwing it all together at once. Honestly, the difference was negligible, so I say go with option 2 if you need to save time.

The overall flavor results were terrific – and a good reminder to me to make more regular use of the slow cooker in the summer. Read the rest of this entry →

Garden Gazpacho Recipe in a Jar – A Gift of Love from Your Garden

July 26, 2012 in Uncategorized

Gazpacho in a Jar – A gift from the Garden

I still remember the first time I got a gift from a garden. It was when I had a newborn baby and was in a new town and didn’t know a soul. I was feeling that overwhelming Oh-My-Gosh-I-am-Responsible-for-This-Tiny-Creature! feeling, and very isolated. One day I opened up my front door to a huge pile of produce – blackberries included! – with a sweet note from the gardener. Naturally, I cried. And that gardener became one of my very best friends – of all time. To this day, we talk regularly and laugh and cry together as only old friends can do together.

This year, we at the Kellys have an over-abundance of produce this year – including cherry tomatoes – those little globes of Mother-Nature made candy. So nice of her to create tomatoes in a travel-friendly form.

So, I decided to depart from my usual Salsa Fairy duties ((I am known throughout the neighborhood for leaving jars of spicy smoky goodness on doorsteps)) and spread Gazpacho Love through my little corner of the world.

BTW, did you know that gazpacho was a soup that originally had no tomatoes? Because there were none in Spain until the conquest of the new world. At least that’s what food geek Alton Brown explains in his 1 minute gazpacho production video – worth a look if you’re an AB addict like me.

I decided to make it pretty and layer the veggies in a jar and let the blending be done just before eating.

So,  just attach a note proclaiming Gazpacho Love – with instructions to blend and add tomato juice and seasonings at will.

Even my neighbor kids ask about my garden gifts in anticipation now, so – Be forewarned: You will have a reputation to uphold for generations to come!

– posted by Donna

Read the rest of this entry →

Maple Bacon Coconut Milk Ice Cream: Extreme Dairy-Free Decadence

April 27, 2012 in Desserts, Gluten Free, Uncategorized

Maple Bacon Coconut Milk Ice Cream

I remember the first time I heard of bacon ice cream. It was in the second season of Iron Chef America, and this was a completely shocking thing in 2005. Intriguing, yes, but definitely not at all trendy or chic. Even Alton Brown himself seemed wowed by Cat Cora’s creation. I thought it sounded downright bizarre – I had been a vegetarian for so long by this time I was starting to eat a little bit of fish and the occasional chicken dish, but bacon? So far off my radar I actually thought it sounded kind of gross, and surely bacon ICE CREAM was purely made for shock value –  the Howard Stern of dessertstuffs.

In the intervening years, bacon has been having a bit of a renaissance, including other sweet applications. Turns out it pairs really well with sweetness, especially maple (think maple syrup dripping off your pancakes onto the side of bacon beside it). I got to try the ice cream itself at Michael Symon’s restaurant Lola, and was deeply impressed. A few years later, I myself made a cranberry bacon brittle after being inspired by Michael Ruhlman at the 2010 BlogHer Food conference. And now I live in a city that arguably has the biggest bacon fetish of any municipality: Portland, Oregon: The maple bacon donut is one of the most popular items at Voodoo Doughnut, to name only the most famous example.

But I’ve recently been avoiding dairy as much as I can. Ice cream is my dessert of choice, for sure, so you’d think I’d be feeling deprived. But thanks to the advent of coconut milk ice cream, gone are the days where soy and rice milk versions were the only alternatives. If you’ve never tried it, you absolutely must. As delectable as Coconut Bliss and So Delicious brands (among others) are, though, I doubt they’ll be coming out with a bacon version.

As soon as I had the idea, I couldn’t get it out of my head. I had to try and synthesize the two: the ultimate in sweet-meets-savory delight of maple and bacon plus the  creamy, dairy-free deliciousness of coconut milk ice cream. Read the rest of this entry →

Vegetarian Recipe Retrospective: All-Time Faves!

March 1, 2012 in Oh My!, Uncategorized, Vegan Recipes, Vegetarian Entrees

Wholegrain Confetti Zucchini Cakes: Inspired by Crab Cakes

A few days ago, the folks at Veg Online let us know they’ve decided to recognize our site as an Outstanding Vegetarian Blog. We’re especially pleased to hear this, as a blog that is not entirely vegetarian but loves to do a whole LOT of vegetarian cooking.

(Note from Donna: When Anne and I reunited as a birth mother and daughter in 1999, it was cooking that made our reunion so joyful. She was the first vegetarian I knew who was also a phenomenal cook. She and I shared our love of cooking and bonded over my kitchen stove. We spent long hours well into the wee hours of the mornings getting to know each other and sharing our best recipes. And the rest, as they say, is history!)

We’ve always been big fans of the Meatless Monday concept and site, and our first cookbook was entirely vegetarian. In case you missed the memo, this was our first collaboration:

Our first cookbook!

And this is where the famous Ultimate Veggie Chili made its debut, eventually earning us a spot on Food Network’s Ultimate Recipe Showdown (title of recipe preceded show, just a fortuitous coincidence).

So we thought it was a perfect time to share some of our favorite vegetarian and vegan creations from the past 3 years (!) in our blogging life. Read on . . .

Read the rest of this entry →

Marinated Vegetables for a Refreshing Salad in the Dead of Winter

February 27, 2012 in Uncategorized, Vegan Recipes

Marinated vegetables

Marinated Vegetable Salad with Kale, Carrots and Peppers

Crisp, tart, acidic vegetables may just be a cure for the winter blahs.

I have decorative pretty jars of marinated vegetables behind my sink in my kitchen. They are so colorful and festive. But.  It just dawned on me a few days ago that it might be a great way to make a salad: marinate my own veggies!

This method works great – it is not as acidic as a “pickling” liquid, but softens the veggies and makes them bright and flavorful. I even added kale, which is normally pretty tough when it is raw. The marinade gives the kale a lovely texture, as it does all the veggies.

The key is that you need to slice your veggies according to how much marinade you want them to soak up. Thin slices = more marination.

This is a mix-and-match kind of recipe, and you can create your own veggie combo. I used kale, red bell pepper and carrots as my main veggies. I also used some slices of fresh mozzarella, which act like little sponges in the jar.

These veggies need at least a day in their tart bath, and most recipes said they would only last a day or two, but mine only started to get mushy after a week.

Happy Winter Meatless Monday, Veggie Lovers!

– posted by Donna

Read the rest of this entry →

Zero Calorie Noodles, Asian Style. No, really – ZERO Calories. ZERO Carbs. Maximum Satisfaction.

January 11, 2012 in Uncategorized, Vegan Recipes

Zero Calorie Noodles 1865x1865

I can tell you the exact moment I learned about ZERO calorie noodles -one of those moments that makes your heart skip a beat, never to be forgotten. I mean, seriously: zero calorie pasta? Could it be true?

Yes, indeed: Shirataki noodles. You can buy these miracles-in-a-bag in Asian specialty markets, or many enlightened mega marts. The noodles come in two forms:  Zero calorie version, made entirely from fiber from a yam, or add just 20 calories per serving and you can buy noodles made from yam fiber plus a little tofu, which gives them more of the taste and texture of traditional pasta.

After some research, I can’t find a single downside to these noodles. Zero calories. Zero carbs. Gluten free. High fiber. Vegetarian. Vegan. Pretty much the best food a dieter can eat.

Either way, I love these noodles. They don’t have much flavor on their own, but I make them with Asian flavors and veggies, and the whole plateful is about 120 calories, and very VERY low carbs.

I like the House brand, a company which makes fabulous tofu. Some folks complain about a fishy smell to their noodles when they opened up the bag, but the House brand at least does not have any “off” smell.

So, if you’re like me and still have some holiday pounds to lose, put these miracles on your menu!

Read the rest of this entry →