Cooking

Sunday Strawberry Sauce for Waffles

Breakfast of Champions     www.morewinelesswhines.com

Breakfast of Champions

I grew up with four younger brothers, 25+ cousins  and a household that was filled with no less than a half dozen kids at any one time.  Now, I am married and have a house and puppy of my own.  Life is a balancing act filled with a full work schedule, graduate school and eking out time with family and friends.

A few weekends ago, we invited our little cousin to have a weekend sleepover at our house.  We had so much fun!  A terrible storm came through our area right after she came over so we nixed the big walk in the downtown area and instead started making the #1 kids treat known to man – Rice Krispy Treats!  I know, I know, these are filled with sugar and artificial ingredients and not healthy at all…. but they are so fun to make!

Then we moved on to dinner.  What was on the menu?  Salad from the garden with my favorite vinaigrette, freshly sliced watermelon, roasted potatoes (which took too long so we had them with breakfast instead) and oven ‘fried’ chicken.

While the chicken and potatoes roasted, I painted my 9 year-old cousin’s nails a bright cherry red.

For breakfast on Sunday, we had orange juice, fresh fruit, some roasted potatoes (a dinner debacle turned into a glorious breakfast treat), and waffles with a delectable strawberry sauce.

The strawberry sauce was made with a cup of strawberries from the farmer’s market, some freshly squeezed lemon juice, sugar, cornstarch, water and a pinch of salt.  It’s easy and tastes great!  I had my cousin make this sauce.  I stood back, gave her instructions and let her measure, pour and stir away.

This recipe comes from The Pie and Pastry Bible by my favorite cookbook author, Rose Levy Beranbaum.  I  used previously in a Double Strawberry Pie and thought it was good enough to stand on its own next to fluffy belgian waffles.  Indeed it is!

Strawberries from the Farmers Market      www.morewinelesswhines.com

Strawberries from the Farmers Market

Sunday Strawberry Sauce for Waffles

Recipe found in The Pie and Pastry Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum

1 c. strawberries
1/2 c. water
1/3 c. sugar (less if strawberries are super sweet)
1 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 T. cornstarch
1 pinch sea salt

Heat a small heavy saucepan  over medium heat.  Crush strawberries in the pan with a wooden spoon.  Add the remaining ingredients except cornstarch and stir.  Sift cornstarch into pan and stir vigorously.  Bring mixture to a boil for 30 seconds, stirring constantly.  Pour mixture into a small bowl to cool.  Serve spooned over pancakes or waffles.

Enjoy!

 

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Cooking

Sticky Toffee Pudding & the Cliffs of Moher

What do Sticky Toffee Pudding & the Cliffs of Moher have in common? Everything!

The Cliffs of Moher www.morewinelesswhines.com

The Cliffs of Moher

On the last day of our Irish Adventure, we visited the Cliffs of Moher. Needing nourishment along the way, our fearless tour guide, Paul, took us to a seafood restaurant called Vaughan’s Anchor Inn.

Vaughan's Anchor Inn, Ireland   www.morewinelesswhines.com

Vaughan’s Anchor Inn, Ireland

Typing that restaurant’s name sends a tremor through my body. At Vaughan’s, I experienced the best crab claws of the trip. I do not make this statement lightly. After eating at six different restaurants, Vaughan’s delivered the most tender, perfectly cooked crab claws. The crab claws were served in a butter sauce so delicious I was nabbing brown bread from other people’s plates to sop it up. Needless to say, I forgot about my beachbody goals and went for the taste bud splash.

Perfect Crab Claws from Vaughan's Anchor Inn   www.morewinelesswhines.com

Perfect Crab Claws from Vaughan’s Anchor Inn

Not content with just a meal, we each sampled an item from the dessert menu. I will write more on this at a later date. For today, I must share with you the Sticky Toffee Pudding. I typically do not like pudding or bread-like desserts covered in sauce.

Sticky Toffee Pudding with Ice Cream from Vaughan's     www.morewinelesswhines.com

Sticky Toffee Pudding with Ice Cream from Vaughan’s

At Vaughan’s? Delicious. Superb. Lick your Plate good! (I will not show the photo of a family member literally licking her plate). My sister-in-law and father-in-law liked this dessert so much that they came back to the states and tried to recreate it.

Sticky Toffee Pudding     www.morewinelesswhines.com

Sticky Toffee Pudding

After much trialing, the best Sticky Toffee Pudding recipe  they found turned out to be from THE FOOD NETWORK.

Sticky Toffee Pudding in Ramekins     www.morewinelesswhines.com

Sticky Toffee Pudding in Ramekins

For dessert over the 4th of July weekend, they served our family the Sticky Toffee Pudding. It met our new Irish Standard and then some. Just be careful making the toffee. Watch it constantly in the final stages, as it can go from “perfect” to “burned sticky mess” stage very quickly.

Sticky Toffee Pudding   www.morewinelesswhines.com

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Enjoy this recipe for Sticky Toffee Pudding and photos of The Cliffs of Moher, which we walked while very well nourished.

Cliffs of Moher, Ireland    www.morewinelesswhines.com

Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

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Cooking, Gardening

Pesto, Goat Cheese & Grilled Bacon Crostini

Fresh Basil from the garden    www.morewinelesswhines.com

Fresh Basil from the garden

Summah, Summah, Summah Time… (Summah = summer)

I am a Gemini, born in the month of June, and have forever and always declared summer to be my favorite season.  Perhaps I am reveling in this summer even more because of the never ending Chicagoland winter.  Regardless, I have been celebrating summer with a bountiful harvest from my garden.

Making Pesto  www.morewinelesswhines.com

Making Pesto

My vegetable garden, which measures roughly 25′ x 8′, is flourishing.  It has been raining an incredible amount here and the plants are loving it.  Many of my tomato plants and sunflowers are tipping 5′ +, the lettuce is just petering out, the swiss chard, zucchini and herbs are growing like weeds and  I cannot find bare ground anywhere.

Making Pesto    www.morewinelesswhines.com

Making Pesto

The tomatoes and sunflowers have grown far taller than I expected and are shading out some of the basil.  I harvested the more shaded basil plants and trimmed a few of the huge plants toward the front of the garden for pesto.  This time, I made the pesto with pistachios and 3 different types of basil – Sweet Genovese, Ruby Frills & Emerald Frills.  My goal is to make a batch every week or two so that I have more for the freezer this fall & winter.

Sunflowers and Tomatoes in my garden   www.morewinelesswhines.com

Sunflowers and Tomatoes in my garden

Goat Cheese atop Grilled Baguette Slices    www.morewinelesswhines.com

Goat Cheese atop Grilled Baguette Slices

For a quick, easy summer linner (lunch + dinner, usually served between 2-3 pm), I made pesto while my husband grilled some bacon* and toasted  baguette slices.  We schmeared the baguette slices with a little goat cheese and pesto then topped them with crumbled bacon.  The result?  Simple & delicious food, perfect for a 89 degree Sunday.

Pesto, Goat Cheese and Grilled Bacon Crostini   www.morewineelesswhines.com

Pesto, Goat Cheese and Grilled Bacon Crostini

Pesto, Goat Cheese & Grilled Bacon Crostini

1 baguette, cut into 1/2″ thick slices
extra virgin olive oil
6 strips center cut bacon, cooked and broken into pieces*
5 oz goat cheese
1 batch freshly made pesto
1 baguette, cut into 1/2″ thick slices

Make pesto. Set aside. Brush one side of baguette slices with a little olive oil. Place baguette slice, olive oil side down, on grill a few minutes, taking care not to burn the bread. Using tongs, turn the bread over and grill about 1 minute on the other side. Transfer grilled bread to a serving platter. Spread each baguette slice with some goat cheese, a spoonful of pesto and top with bacon pieces. Serve warm.

Enjoy!

*Note:  Yes, you can grill bacon.  Do it over medium to medium high heat over a gas powered grill  on a big piece of foil, with the edges turned up to make “lips.”  The dangerous part about grilling bacon is if you are not careful, you can end up with a terrible grease fire.  If this makes you nervous,  just cook the bacon in the oven/on the stovetop or buy the precooked kind (Trader Joe’s has a great variety).  If you are up for an adventure, the grilled bacon has a great smokey taste to it.  

Pesto, Goat Cheese and Grilled Bacon Crostini    www.morewinelesswhines.com

Pesto, Goat Cheese and Grilled Bacon Crostini

 

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Cooking, Travel

Whiskey, Ginger ale & Lime: A Good Alternative to Beer in a Pub

Doheny & Nesbitt, Dublin, Ireland    www.morewinelesswhines.com

Doheny & Nesbitt, Dublin, Ireland

We had our first official pub experience at Doheny & Nesbitt in Dublin, Ireland, during the second day of our Irish adventure.   Guess what was blaring on all the TVs?  The Heineken Cup final match!  The eyes of locals were glued to the rugby match playing out on TVs in the packed pub.  Fortunately, being Americans, we did not need a great view of the game, so we snagged a great 5-person nook in the corner.  I have been to a few “Irish” themed pubs in America, but none compare to Doheny & Nesbitt!

Irish blessing inside the old Middleton Distillery     www.morewinelesswhines.com

Irish blessing inside the old Middleton Distillery

My husband ordered a Guiness and I ordered a Whiskey Ginger Ale with Lime.  My sister-in-law could not stand the drink.  It is certainly not for everyone.  It is not sweet and I cannot drink more than 1-2 of them in an evening.  This is a solid drink.  Just be sure not to wear a swimsuit while drinking this one, as it may put some hair on your chest.

Jameson Whiskey Bottle Chandelier    www.morewinelesswhines.com

Jameson Whiskey Bottle Chandelier

In all the pubs, they would serve this drink in a tall glass filled with ice and a shot of Jameson in the bottom and a lime wedge on the rim.  There was a single serve glass bottle of Ginger ale served alongside, the perfect amount.  Jameson is the only whiskey I can drink.  Johnny Walker or  Jack Daniels just aren’t the same here.

Middleton Distillery Tour - Old Copper Pot Stills for Distilling   www.morewinelesswhines.com

Middleton Distillery Tour – Old Copper Pot Stills for Distilling

Oh, and what mixed drink did they serve at the end of our Middleton Distillery tour?  Whiskey, Ginger Ale & Lime of course!

Whiskey Tasting at the Middleton Distillery    www.morewinelesswhines.com

Whiskey Tasting at the Middleton Distillery plus a Whiskey Ginger Ale & Lime

Whiskey, Ginger Ale & Lime

Fill a glass with ice.  Add a shot of Jameson.  Fill glass to the brim with Ginger ale.  Squeeze in the juice from a single lime wedge.  Stir.  Garnish with a fresh lime wedge.

Cheers!

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Cooking

Roasted Cauliflower with Gremolata Bread Crumbs

Roasted Cauliflower with Gremolata Bread Crumbs    www.morewinelesswhines.com

Roasted Cauliflower with Gremolata Bread Crumbs

One evening, while exploring a new grocery store, I came across a pre-chopped, ready-to-eat package of rainbow cauliflower.  I had previously only cooked with the white kind, so I thought I would give cauliflower’s orange, green and purple sisters a try!

Coincidentally, I had bookmarked a recipe in The Food 52 Cookbook Volume 2 for cauliflower that I have been patiently waiting to try out.

This is simply the best cauliflower recipe my husband and I have ever tasted.  For the original recipe, click HERE or see below.  I kept the panko breadcrumb topping amount the same, but halved the amount of cauliflower.

Enjoy!

Rainbow Colored Cauliflower   www.morewinelesswhines.com

Rainbow Colored Cauliflower

Roasted Cauliflower with Gremolata Breadcrumbs

Barely adapted from recipe posted to Food 52 by TheThinChef

  • 1 lb cauliflower florets
  • 2 T + 2 T extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt, divided
  •  freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 c. panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
  • Zest of 1 small organic lemon
  • cloves garlic, finely minced with sea salt
  • 2 T finely chopped fresh parsley
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Place cauliflower  in a large bowl. Add 2 T extra virgin olive oil,  a little sea salt and pepper for flavor; toss to coat.
  3. Spread cauliflower out on 1 large, rimmed baking sheets. Roast until edges start to brown, about 20 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, heat remaining 2 T olive oil in a small sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add panko and remaining sea salt and stir. Cook, stirring constantly, until bread crumbs are golden. Add lemon zest and garlic and toss until mixture is very fragrant and bread crumbs are golden brown, about 2 minutes. Place in a small bowl and add parsley, stirring to combine. Set aside.
  5. Remove cauliflower from oven and place on serving platter. Top with bread crumbs and serve immediately.

Enjoy!

 

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Travel

Visiting Ireland in May: Glendalough, County Wicklow, Ireland

The Round Tower at Glendalough, Co Wicklow, Ireland    www.morewinelesswhines.com

The Round Tower at Glendalough, Co Wicklow, Ireland

I hear a woman gently singing an old tune as she strings her fingers along a harp and the sound of raindrops falling down stones onto the grass.  The moss and lichen grow thick on the ancient, aged stone walls.  The stone and mud beneath my feet are slick with rain.  The Irish mist and clouded skies add to the sense of mystery in this historic place.  This is Glendalough, the first site we are visiting in our 8 day tour of the Republic of Ireland.

Window in remains of a church building - Glendalough, County Wicklow, Ireland   www.morewinelesswhines.com

Window in remains of a church building – Glendalough, County Wicklow, Ireland

Glendalough is located in County Wicklow, Ireland, and is most famous for its history as an early medieval monastic settlement founded by St. Kevin back in the 6th century.

The view overlooking tombstones - Glendalough, County Wicklow, Ireland   www.morewinelesswhines.com

The view overlooking tombstones – Glendalough, County Wicklow, Ireland

In the distance, I can imagine the cave where the holy men once dwelled and hear the prayers of those who have lived, prayed and died on this land.  The atmosphere is solemn and reverent.  Celtic crosses mark the graves of the deceased.  More than anything, Glendalough is a place of great beauty and peace.

Glendalough, County Wicklow, Ireland   www.morewinelesswhines.com

Glendalough, County Wicklow, Ireland

My husband’s family and I were fortunate enough to spend 8 days this past May touring the Republic of Ireland.  Our tour was developed and guided by Paul Gregan.   Paul tailored the trip to our family, had a great sense of Irish humor and kept each day of the tour flexible.   He even personally drove us throughout the country!  If you are planning a trip to Ireland, do yourself a favor and look at Paul’s website.  Tell him “Queenie” gave the recommendation.  Yes, after only a short time he learned that my nickname is “Queenie.”

I will be sprinkling highlights from the trip into my upcoming posts.  Have a great day!

Glendalough, County Wicklow, Ireland    www.morewinelesswhines.com

Glendalough, County Wicklow, Ireland

 

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Cooking

My Signature Move: Phyllo Pastry Cups (Plus Bonus: Crab Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette)

Phyllo Pastry Cups   www.morewinelesswhines.com

Phyllo Pastry Cups

We all need a secret recipe in our back pocket – the kind that will “wow” innocent bystanders and invoke appreciative whispers among guests.  For several years, my go to appetizer has been phyllo pastry cups.  I have stuffed the phyllo pastry cups with chicken salad, crab meat, sausage & cheese, mushrooms & pancetta and more.  The fun part is getting creative.

These have graced my table at baby showers, family holidays and appetizer parties.  The actual ‘cups’ require 2 ingredients: phyllo dough & unsalted butter.  (Ok, 3 ingredients if you spray the mini muffin tins with nonstick cooking spray first).

Yes, you can buy the pre-made phyllo dough cups in the freezer aisle, but these taste better.

I made these as an appetizer for Mother’s Day.  I had been craving seafood, crab to be exact, and wanted to make a crab salad that was light and refreshing, without a hint of mayo.  This crab salad with champagne vinaigrette is the result.  I served some in phyllo pastry cups and left the remainder in a small glass bowl.  This would also work well served in crisp bibb lettuce cups.

Enjoy!

Phyllo Pastry Cups
Makes 84 individual cups

Ingredients:
8 oz pkg Phyllo pastry sheets*
9 T unsalted butter, melted
nonstick cooking spray

Equipment:
mini muffin tins
pastry brush
Large work surface or cutting board (24″ x 24″)
saran wrap
sharp knife or pizza cutter

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray mini muffin tins with nonstick cooking spray. Melt butter in microwave safe glass bowl.

Remove 1 sleeve of phyllo dough from box. Open plastic wrapped phyllo dough. Unroll phyllo onto a saran wrap covered cutting board. Cut phyllo (with a knife or pizza cutter) into four equal ribbons, about 1.5″ wide. Move one strip of ribbons forward on the cutting board. Cover the remaining phyllo strips with saran wrap. Top saran wrap with damp paper towels or a damp kitchen towel.

Take one thin ribbon of phyllo at a time and criss-cross it into a greased muffin tin opening to form a little cup. Repeat until all the tins are filled. Gently brush each cup with melted butter. Place in preheated oven and bake 8-10 minutes, until edges phyllo edges are golden.

Remove from oven. Let cool in pans 5 minutes then transfer to wire racks and cool completely.

*(1/2 of a 16 oz package) – This will make 84 mini ‘cups.’ If you need more than that, by all means, make the whole package. I save the other half of the dough in the freezer.

 

Crab Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette www.morewinelesswhines.com

Crab Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette

Crab Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette

1    lb claw crab meat
2   T freshly squeezed lemon juice
1.5 T champagne vinegar
1.5 T chives, finely chopped

Gently toss all ingredients together with your (clean) hands. Chill. Spoon into phyllo cups just before serving. Enjoy!

Note: Claw crab meat can be found in the seafood section of a higher end grocery store. There is the kind that comes in a 1 lb. refrigerated can that works well for this recipe. Do not under any circumstances use imitation crab meat.  Splurge a little on good crab here.  Your taste buds will thank you!

 

 

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