Friday, July 26, 2013

Juices and Smoothies. . .: Orange and Raspberry Smoothie

I know I said I would have a smoothie for you yesterday.  It's a long story.  But it's here now!

This is another one of those that is so simple, the only way you could put less effort into your drink would be to actually lie on the ground while someone poured it in your mouth.

I used Greek yogurt for this, and it was a bit too tangy for me.  If you don't like that, use regular yogurt.  If you do, Greek yogurt works fine.

One other note is that I put a bunch of Clementines through the juicer to make the orange juice, but if you've got a carton of orange juice, that'll work fine, too.

Serves 2


1 1/2 cups raspberries
1 cup plain yogurt
1 1/2 cups orange juice

Blend raspberries and yogurt together until smooth.  Add orange juice and blend until everything is incorporated, about 1 minute.


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Juices and Smoothies. . .:Red Alert

You guys?  Photographing juice is hard.  I suspect something weird is going on with my camera, but I'm finding it kind of ridiculous to take pictures of these juices.

It's day two of my juice recipes, and I promise, for those of you who don't have juicers/aren't interested in juicing/etc. that I will have a delicious smoothie for you tomorrow.

This juice is called Red Alert.  It's supposed to perk you up or. . .something.  I don't know.  I didn't feel any more awake after I drank it, but it was really tasty.

Red Alert

Serves 2

1-2 large carrots, chopped roughly
2 oz. spinach
7 oz. beets, chopped roughly
1 orange or 4-5 clementines
Another easy one. Alternate pushing beets, carrots, and oranges through juicer.  Put spinach through juicer.  Mix well.
Tomorrow, smoothies!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Juices and Smoothies. . .: Bright Eyes

Before I get to this recipe, I'd like you all to join me for a moment of silence for the beautiful pork tenderloin I lost last night, after it tried to burn down my apartment.

I'm not. . .fully sure how this happened, but, long story short, when smoke started pouring out of the eyes of my stove, I discovered that the casserole dish I'd put the tenderloin in had shattered, and pork juices were sizzling down to the bottom of the oven.  It wasn't until I tried to move the pan that I realized said pan was in. . .chunks.

So not only was my apartment full of smoke, but my tenderloin was (probably) ruined, thanks to the shards of glass that were likely embedded in it.

But on to happier things.

Dennis watched this movie about this guy who juices (a guy who drinks juice as his main source of nutrition. . .not a guy who's on steroids) and decided that was what he was going to do.  As a result, I've been drinking a lot of these juices, too, and they're not terrible, even when they involve weird vegetables.

As it turns out, I have a juicing and smoothie cookbook (Juices & Smoothies: Over 160 Healthy, Refreshing and Irresistible Drinks and Blends), given to us by my mother-in-law a few years ago, and I figured now would be a good time to give it a go.  I won't be doing just juice this week, so if you don't have a juicer, come back anyway!  There will be at least one smoothie, I promise.

My favorite part about this juice is how pretty it is.  All it's got in it is carrots and clementines, so it's a nice, bright orange.  It's pretty tasty, too.  Dennis said it would be good for a morning juice.  It's called "Bright Eyes," and it's supposed to make you feel more awake or something.  I didn't feel especially more awake after I tried it, but then again, I was also trying to prevent a pork tenderloin from burning down my apartment.

Bright Eyes

Serves 2


6 clementines, peeled and sectioned
7 oz. carrots, peeled and roughly chopped

This recipe is super easy.  Put the carrots through your juicer.  Then, put your clementines through your juicer.  Mix. Then, drink your juice!

As a side note, I really love the set of glasses this glass came from.  My grandmother recently died, and, upon cleaning out her house, I found this set of glasses in the liquor cabinet, presumably belonging to my grandfather.  I like how they're numbered, so you know if one of your guests absconds with one.  (There are 8, if you wondered.)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Deceptively Delicious: Burgers 1

We're back for Round 2 of Tricking Your Kids Into Eating Their Vegetables, and today, it's burgers.  The recipe is actually called "Burgers 1" because there is at least one other burger recipe in this cookbook.

The recipe says to use turkey or sirloin, but regular old ground beef worked pretty well for me.

I forgot to take a picture of the beautiful finished burger I had all set up because, at the time of this dinner, we were under a tornado warning, and I was more concerned with eating before our windows all got blown out.  So this will be a sadly picture-light post.

(There was no tornado, and no picture of the burger.  Go figure.)

I interviewed Kelly again.  If you missed Monday's post, Kelly is my 9-year-old step-daughter I was testing these 'hidden vegetable' recipes out on.  I interviewed her after these two meals (she didn't eat the third one. I'll get into all that on Friday), and the videos are what came from that.  It's not too long, and kids are kind of funny.

(That is an amazing face.)

Burgers 1

Serves 3 - 4


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 3/4 cup cauliflower, processed through a food processor or blender (3/4 cup after blending)
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil, plus some for cooking
  • Enough hamburger buns for the number of burgers you make (Vague?  Yes.)
In a large bowl, mix together the meat, breadcrumbs, puree, milk, soy sauce, garlic, and pepper.  The mixture will be moist; that's OK.  Form into however many burgers you want.

Coat skillet with olive oil and set it over medium-high heat.  Add the burgers until nicely browned on one side, 4 to 5 minutes.  Turn over and cook to your desired doneness.

Serve burgers on hamburger buns.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

TOPO Distillery Tour

I'll have another post about hiding vegetables so your kids won't know they're eating them on Friday, but today, it's all about spirits.

(The drinking kind, not the haunting kind.)

Becca of The Gourmez organized a Triangle-area bloggers tour of TOPO Distillery in Chapel Hill, NC.  (If you're not local, the Triangle is roughly the area made up of Raleigh, Durham, Cary, and Chapel Hill, NC.)

Scott Maitland (who I thought looked like Nathan Fillion's older brother), better known as the owner of Chapel Hill's Top of the Hill Restaurant, decided to get into the spirits game a few years back and TOPO Distillery was born.  The distillery is currently producing white whiskey, vodka, and gin (and we got to sample them!).

If you'll remember from when I went to the book signing with Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen, I'm more awkward than the most awkward thing you can think of on its most awkward day when I'm put into a situation where I'm having to have a conversation with people I don't know.  I walked in to the distillery all awkward, but was immediately greeted by Esteban McMahan, our guide for the evening, and Becca herself, and  from then on, I was about 78% less awkward.

I have this thing I do, where when I'm feeling awkward, even 78% less so, I tend to agree to things I wouldn't necessarily agree to.  So when Esteban said, "Do you drink gin?" I was like, "Yeah!  Of course!"  (I don't.  I thought it tastes like Christmas trees.  This opinion would be different by the end of the evening.)

He made me this cocktail that included the distillery's gin, blueberries, lemon juice, and I believe simple syrup.  Holy crap, you guys.  It was really, really good! 

There were also snacks from Top of the Hill, and I assume you guys have been reading me long enough to know how I feel about snacks.  (Snacks are the best thing ever.  Give me snacks, and we will be friends.)  Why I have no pictures of said snacks, I'll never know.  But they were wonderful.

People wandered in, and we all spent time chatting.  Since I'm relatively new to the blogging game, I had not met any of the bloggers in attendance, although I read most of them regularly.  I got the chance to meet Becca, Kim of Triangle Localista, Leigh of Hines Sight Blog, John of The Triangle Explorer, and Tom and Kathleen of Life with the Lushers.  I tried not to be too fangirly, but a little of that may have happened.

When our tour got underway, Esteban brought us through the plant and showed us all the impressive-looking equipment the distillery uses to produce their spirits.  There were giant tubes everywhere, and several complicated machines that take the spirits through the meticulous process of being drinkable.  There were also several oak barrels of whiskey, aging away.

Esteban explained the entire process of how the spirits are made, which I won't even attempt to relay here.  For one, because I don't want to miss anything.  For another, if you don't know, it's all the more reason to go take the tour yourself!

After our tour, we assembled for a tasting.  I can tell you definitively that if you think you don't like gin, it's only because you've never tasted this one. 

This is what's in TOPO's gin.

It's made with (and forgive me if I forget something) lemon peel, lime peel, cardamom, star anise, rosemary, and coriander and, as it turns out, it and the other spirits are all certified organic and are made from local ingredients.  (The exception to the local rule is the juniper berries, but that's because there's not enough locally to provide what they need.  Still organic, though!)  TOPO is the only certified organic distillery in the South, so that's cool, too!

We did a tasting of TOPO's spirits side-by-side with other popular brands, and the consensus was that TOPO's tasted much better and were much smoother than the other stuff we tried.

(Me, I liked watching the liquor go into the plastic shot glasses!  Incidentally, the shot glasses are compostable.)

After our tasting, we mingled for a while longer before everyone said goodnight. 

All in all, a great tour of a great facility.  Thanks to Scott and Esteban for being our gracious hosts, and to Becca for gathering us all together.

If you're local, you can get TOPO spirits at many ABC stores, or you can get your own tour of the facilities.  I'd highly recommend it, especially if you think you don't like gin.  (I think you're wrong.)

TOPO Distillery

Monday, July 15, 2013

Deceptively Delicious: Meatball Soup

My step-daughter, Kelly, was here for her 2-week summer visit recently, and I thought that would be a good time to test out a cookbook by Jerry Seinfeld's wife, Jessica, called Deceptively Delicious.

The reviews for this book on Amazon aren't great, but I must have just hit the jackpot with the recipes I chose.  They were all good!  Admittedly, I cheated a little on this first recipe and bought frozen meatballs instead of making my own, but instead of putting sweet potato puree in the meatballs, I just threw it in the soup itself.  Still got the vegetables eaten!

It wasn't until I started actively cooking this that it occurred to me I didn't know exactly what the author meant by "puree," and it wasn't until I started making this post that I bothered to check through the book and see if puree was clarified.  It was, and it looks to be super complicated and a lot of effort, so I'm going to just give you the steps to do what I did.  (Spoiler alert:  I put them in the blender.)

If you really want to include puree in your recipe, here is a great resource for making all sorts of veggie purees.

I do think, though, that anyone who has to hide all the vegetables they want their kids eat should probably have a conversation with my mother.  We had to taste everything.  Period.  Full stop.  It didn't stunt our growth, or our development, or our personalities, and I don't think I'm any worse for the wear.  Just have your kid try it.

This is not a parenting blog, though, so let's get on with the soup!

In the following video, I interviewed Kelly to see if she noticed anything off about her soup.  9-year-olds are pretty entertaining. . .  (It's about 3 minutes long.)

Meatball Soup

Serves 6-8 (or 3 with leftovers)


  • 3 oz. bowtie pasta
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil, plus more to cook onion and garlic with
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes (with juice)
  • 1/4 cup carrots, put through the blender (to equal 1/4 cup, not 1/4 cup put in the blender)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 cups beef broth (chicken is OK, too)
  • 1/4 cup sweet potato, put through the blender (same method of measuring)
  • Two bags frozen meatballs
  • Parmesan cheese, if wanted

Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water until done, according to package directions.

Coat a large pot with olive oil and heat over medium-high heat.  When the oil is hot, add the Tbsp. oil, onion, and garlic.  Cook, stirring often, until the onion is softened (not browned), 3 to 4 minutes.

Puree the tomatoes and their juice with the carrot 'puree' in a food processor or blender, then add to the pot along with 1/2 tsp. salt.  Add the broth and meatballs, reduce the heat to low, and simmer, covered, for about 25 minutes.

Serve sprinkled with Parmesan.

One note, as I mentioned in the video, is that the consistency of the soup wasn't especially soup-like.  It could be because I didn't make a real puree.  I'm not sure.  It was still delicious, though!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Pork Chop Video and I'm Guest-Posting Today!

One thing I forgot to put in yesterday's post was this time lapse video Dennis did.

He's been doing time lapses for a lot of his clients, and he set the camera up to record our process of eating these pork chops.  I told him I didn't want to be in the video, per se, but if you watch the right side of the screen, you can see me chasing the pork chop around the plate while I massacre the entire thing.  It's pretty cool.

In other news, I'm guest-posting over at Adventures in Life, Love, and Librarianship today.  Check out my post on pioneer food, Laura Ingalls Wilder-style!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Sylvia's Family Soul Food Cookbook: Daughter-in-Law Sylvia's Barbecued Pork Chops

That close-up picture doesn't even begin to display the awesomeness that was this dinner.

I'm coming back from my random blogging lag to bring you barbecued pork chops.  I'd never before made barbecued anything, and I'd never made a pork chop, so this was an experience.

A delicious experience.

This recipe comes from Sylvia's Family Soul Food Cookbook.  This book is one of my book sale acquisitions, and it's kind of tattered, but it brought me this recipe, and that's OK.

A side note: I read the reviews on Amazon for this book, and they are primarily positive (apparently Sylvia Woods is some kind of soul food royalty?), but the ones that are negative are serious about  being negative.  Lots of "My mom made it better" and stuff like that.

I don't know that I could ever write a cookbook.  Negative Amazon reviews would probably just make me cry.

Anyway, this was my first foray into pork chops, and they turned out really well.  I only made two chops, because we were going out of town the next day and I didn't feel like toting leftovers, but I made the same amount of sauce the recipe called for.

Daughter-in-Law Sylvia's Barbecued Pork Chops

Serves 2


2 pork chops
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup water
1 tsp. steak sauce
1 cup barbecue sauce
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. hot pepper sauce

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Rinse the pork chops and pat dry.  Season with salt and pepper.

Place pork chops in a 9 x 13" glass dish.  Sprinkle with the onion.

In a small bowl, stir together the water and steak sauce.  Pour over the pork chops and bake for 1 hour, covered with foil.

Once the chops have baked for 1 hour, remove 2 Tbsp. of drippings from the pan, discarding the rest, and combine the drippings in a medium-sized bowl with the barbecue sauce, sugar, and hot sauce.  

Pour this mixture over the chops, turning them to coat.  Bake, uncovered, for 5 minutes, turn the pork chops over, and bake for a final 5 minutes.