Spice It Up…………………

What do you do with an over abundance of chile peppers? Well, you marinate them, you make relish, you grill em and you make hot sauce! Lots and lots of hot sauce. Lots. I love making  hot sauce. But breathing in the fumes and leaving all the windows closed is not recommended. Unless of course you don’t mind coughing your brains out and having your eyes burn and tear up.

Now, it’s no secret that I am a spicy girl. I have to have a little heat with everything I eat. I will drown my food in crushed pepper flakes, hot sauce, salsa, jalapenos, etc. It’s just so good. I even love my hot cocoa with a sprinkle of cayenne pepper. One of my favorite chocolate cookies has some heat to it as well. I will admit though, that I can’t handle the heat like I used to. Oh, big sigh. Tis a sad thing. It sucks getting old. Hahahahah.

Anyway, I’ve been passing out bottles of hot sauce to my spicy friends, hoping they will enjoy it as much as I am. I should tell you…..this isn’t a salsa that you would eat with chips. It’s more of a table hot sauce like a Tabasco or the other little bottles of hot sauce. It’s vinegar based, so you get that pucker and then the heat. So while your face is puckering up, you will be dripping sweat. Very attractive, don’t you think? Hahahahah.

Oh!! can I tell you…….If you take some fresh pop corn, drizzle it with a mixture of melted butter and hot sauce and then put it in the oven for a few minutes, it’s SOOOOO good. You just gotta try it. My favorite way to enjoy this hot sauce is on some over easy eggs and fried potatoes. M-mmmm-mm.

If you don’t have a garden full of peppers, just go to a farmers market or the grocery store and get yourself some peppers. The sauce will last in your fridge for about 6 months. But you will use it all, long before that.

  
As you can see in the picture above, I also made a Habanero version. Wayyyyy too hot for me.  Holy crap! I should have worn gloves and goggles for this one. I’ve decided it’s not for me. I’m not a fan of the taste of habanero. It’s funky. Blekh. But if you like habanero, then by all means have at it. You’re biscuits will be burning for sure.

Everyday Hot Sauce

20 medium size jalapeno peppers (I used green and some that had turned red) roughly chopped
7-8 Serrano peppers, roughly chopped
4 cloves of fresh garlic
2 cups of distilled vinegar
3/4 cup water
2 Tblsp kosher salt

Dump the peppers (seeds included), salt and the garlic into a food processor. Pulse until you have a fine relish like consistency. Add about 1/4 cup of the vinegar. Pulse, pulse.  Carefully scrape the mixture into a sauce pan. Pour in the rest of the vinegar and the water. Heat it on medium heat until it comes to a boil. Boil for only a minute. Let it come to room temperature.

Carefully pour it into a glass jar. Not plastic. Seal it tight and put it in a cool dark place for 3 days…..2 days if the weather is really warm. Give it a good shake, shake, shake. Now you can decide if you want to strain it. I don’t. I like the little bits of chile. But if you want a clear smooth sauce, strain your sauce into a fine mesh strainer. Press down on the mixture so you get every bit of sauce. Toss the solids. I just cant do it! But that’s me.

Pour it into little hot sauce bottles or jars. Don’t use plastic containers. Keep it in the refrigerator. It will continue to develop flavor over time. Shake it up before each use.

Tips:
-if you find it too vinegar-ish, add a wee bit more water and shake it up.
-if you like it with a bit of tomato taste, add some tomato sauce.

Pizza Portabello…………………

Years ago when I was on a low carb diet, I was always looking for things to make that were not only low carb, but also tasty. I was craving pizza one day and knew I couldn’t have the crust. I used a big ol Portabello mushroom for my “crust”. This became one of my favorite dishes. After I was done with the whole low carb thing, I still continued to make this dish and served it on a bed of angel hair pasta. YUM.

It’s a great dish to serve guests. It’s very filling and really does taste like a pizza pie! So, whatever your favorite pizza toppings are, just throw them on top of a mushroom!

          

                  

Pizza Portabello

Some good size Portabello mushrooms (depending on how many you are making)
Use your own favorite pizza toppings, but I used the following:

mozzarella cheese, grated
fresh cherry tomatoes, pan seared with minced garlic
Italian sausage, cooked thoroughly
sun dried tomatoes, sliced thin
dried oregano

Heat oven to 375. Cut off the stem of the mushrooms and toss. Take a spoon and carefully scoop out just some of the inside of the mushroom. In a skillet, melt some butter.  Place the mushrooms in the butter and allow to cook for just a couple of minutes. Flip the mushrooms over and do the same on the other side.  Place the mushrooms on a baking sheet and pour any remaining butter that is in the skillet, over the mushrooms.

Now you start piling on your toppings. If you are using sausage, scoop that on first. Then put the rest of your toppings, ending with the cheese. Gently pat the cheese together, to somewhat keep everything together.

Bake for approximately 15 – 20 minutes, until the cheese is all oozy goozy.

As I said earlier, this is great served on a bed of angel hair pasta.

I highly recommend serving this with a nice white wine!

 

Drunken Pineapple Moscow Mule…………..

Recently, my darling daughter told me about a drink she had. It was a Drunken pineapple Moscow mule. The pineapple is marinated in vodka and is added to the Moscow mule. OMG. As she was describing it, I think I may have drooled a bit. I love Moscow mules. Have you ever had one? Traditionally, they are served in a copper mug. To me, it makes all the difference. But if you don’t have a copper mug, a glass will do. You will see both ways, pictured here. This is one of my favorite drinks and it’s perfect for this hot weather we have been having here in southern Cali. It’s not sweet, it’s refreshing and ohhhhhhhhh so yummy. You gotta be careful though, because these go down way too easy. I’ve made many a variety of these…….strawberry, peach, jalapeno, plain and watermelon. All are delicious. Sadly, as much as I love pineapple, I have to avoid it since it gives me massive heartburn. Big sigh. But ever since my daughter told me about this drunken pineapple thing, I had to try it. I will pay for it later I’m sure. But a couple sips or 4 won’t hurt right? Cheers!

 

 

2 oz vodka
4 oz ginger beer
1 oz lime juice
Fresh Ginger
pineapple chunks **

In a copper mug or  large glass, place some fresh ginger slices with the lime juice. Muddle it just to release some of the ginger juices. Add the vodka and ginger beer. Give it a good stir. Add lots of ice and some pineapple chunks and enjoy!

** for drunken pineapple, just place some pineapple pieces in a container. Sprinkle with a bit of sugar and pour some vodka over it. Allow to set over night or longer in the refrigerator. Beware, hahahhaa, the pineapple really soaks up the vodka.

Variations:

Instead of pineapple, muddle in some peach slices, watermelon, strawberries, etc.

 

Chocolate Hazelnut Crispies….

Chocolate…..YES. Hazelnuts…..YES. Crispy…..uh, hell yeah. Chewy……YEP. Delicous……GIMMEEEEEE.

Are you looking for a totally new cookie experience? I found this recipe on line recently. The name of the cookie got my attention. Twisted Tollhouse Cookies. Cool, right? I have no idea why they are called that. They are nothing like a Tollhouse cookie. There are no chocolate chips either. I’ve decided to call these Chocolate Hazelnut Crispies. This is an interesting cookie and I just couldn’t wait to make them for you all. Ok, well…I made them for me, but I was thinking about you all and how much you would love these. The batter consists of the usual brown sugar, white sugar, egg, etc. But it also calls for grated chocolate and ground hazelnuts (hazelnut meal….or as some folks call it, hazelnut flour) Doesn’t it sound fun? If you are an appreciator of good cookies, you must make these. I know my friend Patti will make these for sure. She’s the best cookie baker I know.

This cookie bakes flat. They are also very brown. So don’t be worried that you did something wrong. Hazelnuts have a lot of oil in them, so that combined with the butter in these, makes them flat. The grated chocolate makes the dough all speckly and purty. All that grated chocolate becomes one with the dough.

It really is a unique cookie. But very, very good. I may have to put this one in my top 5 favorite cookies.

Chocolate Hazelnut Crispies

1  3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup hazelnut meal/flour ** see below
1  tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1  cup butter (2 sticks)
3/4 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
1  tsp vanilla
2 eggs
9 oz bar of Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate bar, grated or FINELY chopped

** You can buy hazelnut meal/flour in the store, but it’s pricey. I grind my own.
Toast the hazelnuts by placing them on a baking sheet and roasting at 350 deg, for about 8 minutes. You will start smelling their aroma. Don’t let them burn. Remove from oven and place them on a dish towel. Cover them with the dish towel and rub them all together. This will remove the skins of the hazelnuts. Place them in a food processor and pulse until you have a fine meal. Don’t over do it or you will have nut butter. Measure out 1/2 cup and combine with the flour, baking soda and salt.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugars until fluffy. Mix in the eggs and vanilla. On low speed, add the dry ingredients just until combined. DON’T OVER MIX. Gently hand stir in the grated chocolate. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Heat oven to 350.
Scoop mounds (approx. 2 TBLSP) of dough onto the baking sheet, 2″ apart. Slightly flatten the mounds of dough.  Bake for 12 -14 minutes. Cookies should be brown and flat. Allow to rest on baking sheet for 10 minutes and transfer cookies to a cooling rack. They will get crispy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Make your own Sun Dried Tomatoes…

What to do, what to do with an over abundance of little maters. Cherry tomatoes, Sun Sugars, Juliettes, Yellow Pears, Grape…….so many wonderful, tasty little babies. They are so flavorful….nothing like the ones you buy in the store. I am always snacking on these little morsels. I also love to pan roast them with garlic and olive oil. But then I thought they would be really good sun-dried!! Well, in this case, they are oven dried. It’s super simple to do this. It does take a while though. So do it on a day when you’re into a good book or movie, or working in the garden.

Oh, my gosh. They get all shriveled up and have super concentrated flavor. They are a little sweet, a little tart and a little chewy. You can store them in a container, just as is….dried. Or, you can put them in a jar and cover with olive oil. But either way, they are great for so many things! My favorite way to enjoy them is with some olive oil, butter, garlic and tossed with hot pasta….sprinkled with parmesan cheese.

You could also puree them with olive oil and parmesan, as a great pesto!! Get creative!

 

Sun Dried (Oven Dried) Tomatoes

tomatoes (obviously, hahahah)
salt

You can use all of one kind or a variety of little tomatoes. Cut them all in half from the stem side down. Place them on a parchment lined baking sheet. Roast them in an oven preheated to 225.

Like I said, these do take some time……about 4 hours. I rotate the pan every hour but if you have a good oven, you don’t have to. Check your tomatoes after 3 hours. If they seem dried and shriveled up, you may want to take them out. I like mine pretty dried. In fact, I will turn the oven off after 4 hours and leave them in there for another hour or so.

Once completely cooled, store them in a container or put them in a jar covered with olive oil. Keep refrigerated. They are best, kept dried. Great for snacking!