Spanish Style Gazpacho

Prep Time:  30 Minutes

Cook time:  0 minutes!!

Chill Time:  Up to 6 hours
Total time:  Up to 6 hours, 30 minutes

Difficulty Level:  Easy
Serves: 4-6
Modified from this recipe on Epicurious

 

INGREDIENTS:

Soup:

10 oz. of day old bread, crust removed
21 oz. of fresh summer tomatoes, seeds removed, chopped
1 tsp Ellbee’s Original Garlic blend
1 medium sweet onion chopped
2 red bell peppers, chopped
1 cucumber, peeled and seeds removed, chopped
1/2 tsp. ground Cumin
8 tablespoons of good Spanish Olive oil, extra virgin
2 tablespoons of good Spanish Sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons cold water, or more as needed

Garnish:

1 cucumber, peeled and finely diced, for garnish

Sour Cream, for garnish
Croutons (preferably homemade, optional) or crostini (grilled bread drizzled with extra virgin olive oil)

Cracked Peppercorns

 

DIRECTIONS:
In a bowl, soak the bread in 1/2 – 1 cup of water for 10 min. Squeeze out, by hand, as much water as possible from the bread.

In a food processor (a Vitamix purees everything quickly and like a dream!) puree all the chopped vegetables.  Add the cumin, garlic, the soaked bread, sherry vinegar, olive oil and 2 Tbsp cold water. Puree in the food processor until the mixture is entirely pureed and smooth. Add more cold water if needed to get the right consistency; it should be slightly thick but should pour easily. Add salt to taste (start with 1-2 tsp).

Refrigerate at least 2 hours and re-taste for salt.

Serve chilled with garnish of chopped cucumber, cracked peppercorns, and/or croutons as desired.  You can also serve with crostini.

Strawberry Salsa with Cinnamon Sugar Chips

Strawberry Salsa with Cinnamon Sugar Chips

Prep time:  10 minutes
Cook time:  10 minutes
Total time:  20 mins
Serves: 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:
Salsa:
1 pint strawberries, hulled and finely diced

2 kiwi, peeled and finely diced

1 Granny Smith apple – finely chopped
1 jalapeno, stem and seeds removed, finely diced
Half of a small red onion, peeled and finely diced (about 1/2 cup)
2/3 cup finely-chopped fresh cilantro, loosely-packed
Juice of 2 limes, about 4 tablespoons
¼ tsp salt

1 tsp Golden Fig brand basil pepper

Chips:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
12 flour tortillas (10 inches in diameter)

PS – if you don’t want to make your own – there are pre-packed cinnamon-sugar chips (Stacy’s pita chips) that are also delicious, or you could use a variety of graham crackers for dipping.  

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  

Combine strawberries, kiwi, granny smith apple, jalapeno, red onion, and cilantro.  In a small bowl combine lime juice, salt and basil pepper – whisk to combine.  Pour over salsa and mix until combined.  Taste for seasoning – add additional salt and pepper, if needed.  Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  This can be made a day ahead of time and refrigerated overnight. 


In a small bowl combine cinnamon and sugar.  Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside. Brush top of first tortilla with melted butter.  Sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar mixture.  Cut with a pizza cutter in half, then each half into 4 segments; you should have 8 wedges from each tortilla.  Arrange wedges in a single layer on baking sheet.  Bake until crisp, 10 to 12 minutes. Repeat with any remaining chips.  Let chips cool before serving.  Serve with chilled fruit salsa.  

Veggie Noodle Lo Mein

Prep time:  20 minutes

Cook time:  20 minutes

Total time:  40 mins

Serves: 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 baby bok choy, or 1 large bok choy, thoroughly washed, thinly sliced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, thinly sliced length-wise
  • 1 large carrot, peeled, ends removed and spiralized into noodles.  If your carrots aren’t big enough to spiralize thinly slice
  • 8 oz mushrooms.  I prefer baby portobello or crimini mushrooms, washed and sliced
  • 4-8 zucchini (around 2 lbs), spiralized into noodles – I find the medium size works best, but you could also do the fine or angel hair size
  • 1 tsp sea salt

Aromatics:

  • 3 tsp Ellbee’s Asian Zing Garlic
  • 3 Tablespoons ginger, minced
  • Whites of the green onions sliced below

Sauce:

  • 1 ½ Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 4 ½ Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon mirin
  • 2 tsp brown sugar

Toppings:

  • 1 bunch of green onions, thinly sliced.  Separate the sliced greens from the whites.  Use the whites in the aromatics above, reserve the greens for topping at the end

 

Instructions:

  1. Make sure all your veggies are prepped before starting the stir fry.
  2. In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and soy sauce until cornstarch is dissolved.  Add in sesame oil, mirin and brown sugar.  Set aside
  3. Preheat a very large skillet (at least 15″) over medium high heat. When the pan is hot but not smoking, add 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil into the pan along with the garlic, ginger, and whites of the green onions.  Stir fry for 1-2 minutes until fragrant and the green onions have wilted.  
  4. Increase heat to high.  Add mushrooms and stir fry for 3-4 minutes.  Add bok choy, bell pepper, and carrots. Stir fry for an additional 4-5 minutes, or until the veggies are starting to soften.
  5. Transfer the stir fried veggies to a large serving bowl
  6. Place the stir fry pan back over high heat, and add the remaining 1 Tablespoon of oil to the pan. Add the zucchini noodles to the pan and stir fry just until the noodles are beginning to soften, around 5 minutes.  Drain off the excess liquid.  
  7. Add the veggie mixture to the noodles and toss completely to combine. Add the salt and sauce mixture, stir to coat and simmer for approximately 5 minutes.   Taste and adjust seasonings.  Remove the pan from the heat.
  8. Transfer to serving bowl, top with the greens portion of the sliced green onions, and serve. 

Notes:

  • You can easily add a cooked protein (chicken, shredded pork, etc) if desired.  Add the cooked protein in Step 4 with the mushrooms and other vegetables.  

Cucumber, Strawberry, and Avocado Salsa

Cucumber, Avocado, and Strawberry Salsa

  • 1 large Seedless Cucumber
  • 1 cup hulled and chopped strawberries
  • 1 ripe avocado, diced
  • 1 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 1 small jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped purple onion
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Spiralize cucumber, cutting noodles every turn. Or, you can chop the noodles after they are spiralized.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together honey, lime juice, and salt & pepper to taste. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl mix cucumber noodles, strawberries, avocados, cilantro, jalapeno, and onion.
  4. Stir in sauce. Serve with chips.

DIY “Chopped” Challenge

Recently, I was able to cross something off of my bucket list that I didn’t think would ever be possible:
I competed in a “Chopped” Challenge!

If you watch The Food Network at all, you have most likely heard about their hit show “Chopped”. But, in case you haven’t, here’s a quick run down.
The show starts with four contestants who are given a basket of mystery ingredients they must use to make an appetizer within a certain amount of time (see: not enough time). They have an unlimited pantry to use to complete the course, and judges to score their meals after time is up. The chef who makes the worst appetizer is “chopped”, and the remaining three repeat the process to create a main dish. One chef gets chopped, and the last two battle to make a dessert with more mystery ingredients.
The items in the basket must appear in the dish they are making, or they are deducted points.
The mystery ingredients are often a combination of things that do not easily go well together, or processed food you wouldn’t normally cook with! And the time constraints are always a little tight, so the chefs are running around trying to get everything done in time! The winner is awarded a cash prize and bragging rights 🙂

I have watched many, MANY episodes, and it always looks like something that would be exciting to try! The show sometimes has amateur chefs as competitors, but that’s no where near what my comfort level is at… But, it didn’t look impossible to try to recreate for your own kitchen! No one has an unlimited pantry, though, or a big enough budget to create one. And kitchen space? That’s just asking for trouble. So, I recruited the help of some brave friends to help me figure out how we could do this ourselves! The following plan is how we were able to finally pull it off!

How to Throw Your Own Chopped Challenge:

Set-Up:
Pick the friend with the largest kitchen and most open floor plan. Designate the pantry space and the table for extra supplies (pans, plates, odd utensils, etc.) Divide common utensils, bowls, pans, and cutting boards evenly between two workstations. Set the oven to 350* as a universal baking temperature to prevent wasting time waiting for it to preheat. Also, be sure to have other spare cooking utensils out and open, to prevent digging through cabinets and wasting time (baking pans, cookie sheets, blenders/food processors). You will want to make sure there are enough dishes to present with. Various sizes of plates and bowls would be helpful. I ended up bringing about half of my kitchen supplies, to ensure we had enough of the basics. Since you are doing ALL of the cooking before you sit down to eat, be sure to plan ahead for timing. We arrived at their house around 4:30, so that we could begin cooking by 5:00pm.

Next, draw names to determine who will be competing! You will choose two people who will each complete two courses, and appetizer and main dish. If you have extra people, you can designate one person per competitor to be a sous chef to help with chopping and stirring. As a group, discuss who has various cooking tools and staple ingredients, so you can all pitch in for that. Our pantry area was quite full, and included lots of duplicates! But, it made cooking SO much easier.
Each person/couple should bring one protein (meat, beans, yogurt, etc.) and three carbohydrates (fruits, veggies, starches, etc.)

Basket Ingredients:
Those not competing will gather together the proteins and carbohydrates each person/couple brought for basket ingredients. They will select two proteins and two carbohydrates for the appetizer course, and two proteins and four carbohydrates for the main course. Divide the amount of each ingredient evenly between each competitor and keep it a secret for them to unveil right before they start cooking.

Appetizer Course:
Competitors will open up their first basket (or reusable grocery bag, like we used…). We took five minutes to plan out how we were going to use our ingredients. Then, they will have 45 minutes to complete their dish. They must have it on the plate before the 45 minutes are up, or they will be docked points.
Here’s what happened in our appetizer course: Our basket ingredients were vanilla greek yogurt (which was supposed to be plain greek yogurt, but I don’t believe that… ;), pork chops, corn tortillas, and gummy worms. Seriously.
I ended up with a taco with seasoned pork, cilantro lime rice, lettuce, onions, tomatoes, and topped with a yogurt sauce with melted gummy worms in it.
Our friend Jack made a taco with spicy pork and onions, and on the side he had a gummy worm and yogurt salad. It was a close call on time, but it made it more exciting!

I’m contemplating hard about melting a gummy worm and mixing it with the yogurt!

Amy and Jack working on his tacos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Judging:
Those who aren’t cooking will become judges. Each contestant will present their dish to the judges, everyone can eat and enjoy while the judges ask questions about the dish. Then, every one pitches in to do some dishes to get ready for the next round.

Main Course:
Competitors are given their basket of secret ingredients. For this round, they will have 60 minutes to complete a main course. Since there was so much time, we decided against the planning period.
Here’s how our main dish round went: Our baskets included spinach, kiwi, green pepper, shredded cheese (one basket had cheddar, one had mozzarella. We were told to share if needed), zucchini, and kielbasa sausage.
I made stuffed peppers with the sausage, cheese, zucchini, and I added some potatoes and spices. The spinach and kiwi went into a blender to make a sauce to dip the stuffing into.
Jack made rings out of the peppers and filled them with the zucchini and sausage combined with honey and mozzarella. Then, he mixed the spinach with the kiwi, an orange, and a fruit cup to go on the side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The main dishes get presented to the judges. Then, the judges can go deliberate and decide on a winner!

ABOVE ALL, have fun with it!! Don’t stress about if your cooking is awful or not. You’re all trying something new together, and your friends or family will have agreed to participate, so they should know what they are getting into 😉

What do you think? Would you try this? What changes would you make?

2016 Holiday Hours

December 22: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

December 23: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

December 24: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

December 25: CLOSED

December 26: CLOSED

December 27: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

December 28: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

December 29: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

December 30: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

December 31: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

January 1: CLOSED

January 2: CLOSED

January 3: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Normal hours resume)

Gift Guide Part 2: That Friend Who Is Always Trying to Start A Healthy Lifestyle

We all have that friend… Every other month they start a new diet. One month it is cutting out all sugar, the next is only eating vegetable products, the next is eating every two hours. No matter their current eating style, these gifts will be a great addition to their healthy menu planning and execution, while being encouraging of their current health goals.

1. Full Circle Water Bottle ($9.99) Perfect size to throw in a bag and stay hydrated all day. The glass bottle is earth-friendly and free of contaminants too!

2. Nut Butter ($15.99) Tastes so good they will forget it is healthy.

3. Scale ($34.99) Accurate measurements are key to tracking calories. Nothing is more accurate than a digital scale.

4. Spiral Cutter ($14.99) Cutting carbs? Zucchini and carrot noodles are an easy alternative.

Gift Guide Part 1: Your Outgoing Little Sister Who Just Turned 21

So your little sister just turned 21 and she is realllllly excited. Get her stocked up with cool gifts for Christmas beyond the basic bottle opener and shot glass. She’ll love these!

  1. Mixology Dice ($24.99) will inspire her to try new drinks while taking her cocktail making game to the next level.
  2. Moscow Mule Mugs ($19.59) So she can make her favorite drink at home.
  3. Bar Gems ($8.99) A decorative way to add a little glam to any drink.
  4. Heart Ice Mold ($8.99)
  5. Mitten Flask ($19.99) Keeps her warm on the outside and the inside!

Pumpkin Bread

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As the weather cools down, the stock of pumpkin in my pantry goes up. Pumpkin pies, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin everything! I don’t need a Pumpkin Spice anything. Give me that straight pumpkin flavor!

And nothing screams “FALL” to me more than pumpkin bread. My mom has only ever made one recipe, and she makes it several times a year. It makes two loaves, but with five people in the house, you would be hard pressed to find any after the first week. Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I bring this to lots of potluck events in the fall and winter, and I ALWAYS get asked if it’s homemade. It’s just that good!

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First start with 3 1/3 cups of flour in a large mixing bowl. Like, really large…

Add to that, 2 tsp. of baking soda,

1 1/2 tsp. salt,

1 tsp. cinnamon,

1 tsp. nutmeg (or 1/4 tsp. ground cloves)

and 3 cups of sugar.

Use a whisk to carefully mix the dry ingredients together. And then use your hands to create a well in the center.

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Into the “well”, add one can or 2 cups of canned pumpkin

4 beaten eggs

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2/3 cup of water

1 cup of vegetable oil

Then start stirring! Be sure to really scrape the bottom of the bowl while stirring, to get all of the dry ingredients incorporated into the pumpkin mixture

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Spray two loaf pans well and divide the batter equally into both.

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Then, bake at 350 for one hour. If a toothpick or knife inserted in the center doesn’t come out clean after that, it might need 10-15 more minutes in the oven.

Then, remove from pans and allow to cool on cooling racks before plastic wrap. Or, if you’re like me, the smell is too tempting, so just dive in & slather a slice with some butter… Yum!!

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While it’s delicious on its own, another way I like to serve it is French toasted at breakfast. I make the loaves a day or two ahead of time, and I don’t wrap them very tightly. Slightly stale bread is best for this. Then I make my regular French toast batter (eggs and milk or cream), and dip cut sides of the bread quickly in it. Then I scrape off the excess and toast on a skillet until both sides are golden brown. It’s pretty rich, but so delicious! Serve with the cinnamon syrup recipe found this site. (Those pumpkin pancakes are pretty amazing, too!)

The printable version is below. Leave a comment if you try it, and let us know how it tastes!

Pumpkin Bread
Print Recipe
This dense, sweet bread is great for breakfast or as a tasty snack!
Servings Prep Time
2 loaves 15 minutes
Cook Time
60-75 minutes
Servings Prep Time
2 loaves 15 minutes
Cook Time
60-75 minutes
Pumpkin Bread
Print Recipe
This dense, sweet bread is great for breakfast or as a tasty snack!
Servings Prep Time
2 loaves 15 minutes
Cook Time
60-75 minutes
Servings Prep Time
2 loaves 15 minutes
Cook Time
60-75 minutes
Ingredients
Dry Ingredients
Wet Ingredients
Servings: loaves
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. In a large bowl, mix all dry ingredients together
  3. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and all the rest of the ingredients
  4. Mix well.
  5. Pour evenly into two oiled loaf pans, bake for one hour. May need 10-15 minutes more baking time
  6. Bread is done when a toothpick or fork, inserted into the center, comes out clean.
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