Strawberry Cocktails

Recently I’ve been in a “get the most out of what you can” state of mind. This means that whenever I bring home an item from the store whether it be food, wine, or object that is in a box I try to think of how to reuse a specific item before throwing it out. I like to think of it as a salvaging project. Of course I can’t recycle everything but I like to search the web and see if anyone else had ideas of what I can do with scrap before throwing it in the trash.

I’ve already come across many ideas that I can’t wait to try out and post in the salvage section of this blog. This post relates to old strawberries. I have the tendency to buy a large quantity of fruit when I go to the store. I get caught up in my crazy life which causes me not to use the fruit up right away. I used to just get rid of the fruit unless it was bananas, I knew I could make awesome bread from it.Β  I started realizing that there are many ways I can use fruit if it isn’t attractive to eat. If It doesn’t have an ecosystem growing on or around it, it doesn’t mean you cant still eat it. Just use it in a different fashion.

I took these 2 week old strawberries I had left in the refrigerator and turned it into a refreshing summer drink. Add alcohol and you could have a cocktail. The zest from the lime and orange really make this drink. Garnish it with whatever you please, mint would be a great addition as well. This recipe makes great strawberry mojitos or mimosas! πŸ™‚

Prep Time: 5 Minutes

Total Time: 15 Minutes

Ingredients:

-1 Cup Sugar

-1 Cup Water

-1 Cup Strawberries, stems removed

-1/3 Cup Lemon Juice

-1 Lime

-1 Orange

-Alcohol of choice, optional

-Mint, optional

Method of Prep:

-In a pot over medium heat dissolve sugar in the water to make simple syrup.

-While waiting for sugar to dissolve, zest the lime and orange on top of the strawberries.

-Pull simple syrup off the burner. Add in strawberries and zest.

-Using a masher or whisk, begin to mash the strawberries. You can leave them mostly whole, just squish them up a little to release the flavor.

-Add in lemon juice, stir.

-Let steep for 10 minutes.

-Fill a glass halfway with the strawberry liquid, top off with water (sprite, and champagne work as well)Β  and 2 ice cubes. If your using alcohol, put desired amount of alcohol in glass, add in strawberry liquid and a splash of soda water or other juice.

Enjoy!

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Hummus

Since I’ve begun eating healthier, my body feels I’m hardly eating if anything at all. I’m still not at the point where I’ve eliminated all the unhealthy, processed, fatty foods from my diet. I continue going out to eat too often and never want to get a salad, which always seems to be the only healthy option on the menu. I hate dining out 3 times a week but you try being at work all day where your job is to cook for 8 hours. Trust me the last thing you want to do is come home and prepare a meal for another 20 minutes. If I have the motivation in me I will easily go all out on whipping up a fantastic meal.

As I slowly continue my journey to a healthier lifestyle, I carry on with research for simple and healthy recipes to make when I have the free time and expenses to stock up my kitchen with goods to cook. As I mentioned above my body is always hungry due to me eating lighter foods. I’m not used to it primarily because I break these rules when I’m at work. Always having to taste food, and eating what ever is on the menu in the employee dining hall isn’t always the best for my diet. When I do break the rules I make up for it as soon as possible.

Do you always get hungry in between meals or right before bed and know you shouldn’t eat anything because of the timing? This happens to me a lot because my body never feels full anymore. If I don’t eat a little something I usually get moody and irritable, someone you don’t want to be around during this time. I’ve decided if I’m going to snack on something it needs to be healthy. Whether it be a banana, yogurt, or a salad. Hummus is my favorite dip/spread hands down. It’s simple to make and can last for a couple weeks if not eaten right away. This makes a light snack if your getting hungry before a meal or around bedtime. This dip is great with raw vegetables such as carrots, celery, and cucumbers, I enjoy eating it with pretzels. This also makes a great spread on sandwiches or wraps.

Prep Time: 5 Minutes

Total Time: 15 Minutes

Ingredients:

-1 Garlic clove

-1 Lemon

-1 Tablespoon Tahini

-1 15 Oz can Garbanzo beans

-5 Parsley leaves, chopped fine

-1/2 Cup Vegetable oil

-Salt and pepper, TT

Preparation:

-In a food processor, add a teaspoon of oil and garlic clove. Chop up garlic clove until smooth.

-Add in garbanzo beans and juice from lemon along with zest. Blend for 1 minute. If mixture is not blending well add in a little oil to get it moving.

-Add in Tahini. Slowly begin adding in oil and continue to puree. About 2 minutes.

-Season with salt and pepper during blending stages.

-Once consistency is smooth transfer dip to a mixing bowl and fold in parsley. Adjust any seasoning or citrus if needed.

Enjoy!

Corn on the Cob

<—Corn on the Cob.

Today marks the official first day of summer. With that said, most folks have begun eating lighter meals throughout the day. Summer is a great season due to the longer days and great weather. For me, its more about the availability of great produce that is around from late spring through early fall.

If you enjoy corn on the cob, this is the perfect time to indulge in purchasing and cooking with it. In this post, I’m going to share:

A few things about corn you may or may not of known

How to reuse your corn on the cob scraps before throwing them away

A few of my favorite corn recipes

Good to know about Corn:

Did you know Corn is America’s number 1 field crop?? Corn is also used to produce fuel alcohol. Fuel alcohol makes gasoline burn cleaner reducing air pollution and it doesn’t pollute the water. Corn grows in ears each of which is covered in rows of kernels that are protected by the silk like threads called corn silk and is encased in a husk.

For some, corn may be a staple (tacos, polenta, tortillas) and for others corn is a snack (popcorn, chips, summertime cookouts). Corn has a unique source of health benefits. Corn isn’t on the dirty dozen list, however there have been recent articles on organic corn finding pesticide use somewhere in the farming process.

When you purchase corn, its best to use it the day of purchase. If you aren’t using it right away you can store corn in an air tight container or tightly wrapped plastic bag in the refrigerator. Don’t remove the husks, for this keeps in the flavor of the corn.

Source: WHfoods:Corn

Think before you toss:

I try to recycle and reuse as much as I can out of my food scraps. I think of all the people and other countries that aren’t as fortunate to have what we have not to mention my own food cost coming from my wallet. After enjoying some wonderful corn on the cob a few weeks back, Brandon mentioned a clever idea of making a corn stock from the cobs. Its very simple to do, all you need is a few ingredients and your done. With this stock we made two very delicious meals. The smell of sweet corn lingered in our apartment for days,Β  this method is worth it.

Corn Stock:

Prep time: 5 minutes

Actual time: 2 hours

<—Corn stock

Ingredients:

-4 or more corn cob scraps, kernels removed

-1 Yellow onion, rough medium dice

-4 Sprigs of thyme

-4 Quarts water

Method of prep:

-Dice up Onion.

-Add onion, corn and thyme into pot. Cover with water.

-Bring to a boil on high heat.

-Reduce heat to medium cover with a lid and let simmer for 2 hours.

-Set in refrigerator, keeping cobs and everything in place and let steep overnight. Make sure to keep lid on as well so refrigerator flavors don’t mingle with theΒ  flavor of stock.

-Strain the next day into a plastic container or freezer bags. You can freeze if you don’t plan to use right away.

<—Finished corn stock.

Lastly I would like to share with you a couple great recipes you can use this corn stock for. You get a great sweet corn flavor from this stock andΒ  is a great substitution for chicken stock or water in polenta. When I make polenta I don’t use a recipe. I go with the flow because Ive made it many times.

<—Finished polenta

Polenta is commonly used in dinner entrees to pair with proteins such as lamb or beef. I enjoy eating polenta as a breakfast item. Below is an example of a breakfast Brandon made using polenta.

<—Half a grapefruit, polenta and a fried egg.

Another great use for Corn stock is Corn Chowder.

Ingredients:

-2 Heads fresh corn

-1 Cup Diced yellow onion

-3 Cloves garlic, minced

-Heavy cream

-Salt and pepper, to taste

-Blonde roux, if needed

Method of Prep:

-Cut corn kernels off of cob. Reserve the cob.

-Sweat onions, garlic, and corn until fragrant and translucent. Lightly season in layers.

-Add in enough cream to cover the corn, bring to a simmer.

-While corn and cream is coming to temp., cut cob into 1 inch sections and add into pot.

-Simmer corn and cream for ten minutes with cobs.

-Steep for another 10 minutes by turning off the heat. Leave on the stove.

-Discard cob pieces.

-Lightly blend with immersion blender. Adjust consistency with more cream or roux.

-Season with black pepper, salt and a splash of hot sauce. For this recipe I recommend Franks Hot sauce.

Enjoy!

<—Finished Corn Chowder with Franks Hot Sauce foam.

Food trucks: A new kind of street food

If you’ve been to an active city recently you might notice trucks that are selling food. I’m not talking about the hot dog vendors you see in downtown areas, I’m referring to mobile kitchens.Β  Food trucks can be defined as a mobile venue that sells food.Β  Many food trucks contain frozen or prepackaged menu items, however that is not always true. The few I’ve visitedΒ  prepare many of their items fresh daily from scratch.

Most of these venues cater to specific meals such as a breakfast truck, or taco truck. A little history: These trucks date back to after the Civil war. During this time many people were making the move out west. The beef market in Texas was high and many men had to herd cattle through the country during a time when there were no railroads causing the men to be on the road for months at a time. This led to the creation of the chuckwagon.

Today: Food trucks are gourmet with a focus on ethnic and fusion cuisine. The menus are limited with a creative background at a reasonable price. The trend in street food has led to a rise in food trucks. It’s an on the go, quick bite for a low price.

Chicago is currently the only city which does not allow food trucks to cook on board. Instead they have to cook in a commercial kitchen, wrap up the product, label and keep it in a warmer. The food truck ordnance requires all food trucks to park 200 feet away from all restaurants and cannot sell food for more than two hours at one location.

If you haven’t experienced going to a food truck rally or stopping by a food truck nearby, I recommend you do it. Many of them can be found around downtown areas or near local parks. You may see them during festivals or concerts in the summer. I’ve come across some awesome trucks with fun menus such as the coolhaus ice cream truck that makes their own ice cream and you can create your own ice cream sandwiches that are served in an edible napkin (pictured below) such as the one I tried in Brooklyn, New York at the Brooklyn Waterfront Beer Festival this past weekend.

<—Double chocolate chip cookie with salty caramel and candied bacon ice cream.

Another fun food truck I cam across was a grilled cheese truck. Grilled cheese is a great comfort food, I couldn’t pass it up. At this food truck I got the trumpet butter, gouda, and bacon grilled cheese with an egg added inside. Simply delicious!

Lastly, what could be better at a bar other than cheap beer and good music? A taco truck!! El Diablo Tacos is open until 3:30 AM everyday. I of course had to get a taco while at the bar.

Other trucks I’ve seen with fun menus are empenadas, dumplings, waffles, fresh squeezed juice, and lobster rolls.

The roaming hunger site is one you can use if you live in or near a large city such as Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, etc to find food trucks near you. There is also a food truck tracker app you can download on your phone to find nearby trucks or you can search online for more information.

Pineapple & Grapefruit Granitas

Everyday I sit with a notebook, pen, and an array of cookbooks mainly my guide The Flavor Bible and speculate new recipes to produce for this blog. I came upon the idea of doing Granitas while browsing The Perfect Scoop a book I purchased when I bought my ice cream maker.

Granita is simply a shaved ice, made from a lightly sweetened fruit puree or other liquid. Of all the frozen desserts, this is the easiest to make requiring only a bowl and fork to forming fine grained ice crystals is the goal. This dessert originally founded in Sicily, is similar to a sorbet. The texture of a granita can come from one of the two methods used to make it. A smoother texture is found when using a gelato machine whereas the chunkier consistency is produced from folding the frozen edges inward to the slushier center and agitating it every 30 minutes until the desired consistency. (The latter way above mentioned is the more traditional way)

<<<—-The finished granita traditional method with every 30 minutes of agitation.

You can choose any fruit, juice, or puree of your liking to make this. I had a pineapple lying around that I needed to use up so I chose to mix that up with a grapefruit to obtain a sweet and sour combination. Other good granita flavors are: Peach, watermelon, and lemon. If you enjoy mojito’s as I do this time of the year you can also turn that into a granita as well.

Active time: 5 Minutes

Actual time: 2 Hours

Ingredients:

-1 Pineapple, peeled and cored

-1 Grapefruit, peeled and segmented (optional)

-1 Cup water

-1/2 Cup sugar

-2 Teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice

-Pinch of salt

Method of Prep:

-Puree fruit in a blender or food processor with the water, sugar, lime juice, and salt until smooth.

-pour into a plastic container and place in the freezer. Begin checking it after about 1 hour. Once it begins to freeze around the edges, take a fork and stir the mixture, breaking up the frozen parts near the edges into smaller chunks and raking them towards the center.

-Check every 30 minutes afterwards, stirring each time and breaking up any large chunks into smaller pieces until you have fine crystals.

-If granita freezes to hard, simply leave it out at room temperature for a few minutes until is softens enough to be stirred again and raked back into crystals. Return to the freezer.

Enjoy!