May 30, 2012

Fresh Sparkling Rosemary Lemonade

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 Warm weather and cool drinks.

Here in Connecticut we have has a holiday weekend filled with hot muggy days, I even burnt my shoulders at the parade on Monday and we were only there with the pups for over an hour. We may just be a little state but our winters are cold and believe me our summers can be scorchers as well.
There is nothing I love more on a hot day and tons and tons of water, and when my taste buds are hurting for some kind of flavor, I switch to my favorite... lemonade. 

Freshly-made lemonade had such a nice bite to it with the subtle sweetness from the agave nectar or simple syrup without all the over processed sugars that make you feel dehydrated. Sipping on a sparkling lemonade when the trips are above 80 degrees cools and relaxes me and makes me feel like I am being treated to an afternoon cocktail on a beach somewhere. Wouldn't that be nice.
For my lemonade I make a very easy simple syrup with sugar and water but you can heat agave syrup if you would like with the rosemary for a 'better for you' sweetener. 

I also was gifted a soda maker this past Christmas from my cousin and it has come in so handy, I love it. They are great for making your own sodas or in this case just some non flavored sparkling water. 

The possibilities are endless.  
Rosemary can quickly overpower whatever drink it's being added too so I would use the springs for the simple syrup and then just garnish with the remaining herbs for the lemonade. The subtlest hint of rosemary compliments the lemons and leaves you feeling hydrated, refreshed and rejuvenated. 
Fresh Sparkling Rosemary Lemonade
Makes 5 1/2 cups

1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 cup rosemary simple syrup (recipe below)
4 cup sparkling water
5-6 sprigs of fresh Rosemary, for garnish

Combine all ingredients in a pitcher, adding in a few freshly squeezed rinds of the lemons. Stir to combine and serve over ice with a spring of rosemary for garnish.

Rosemary Simple Syrup Recipe
Makes about 1 1/2 cups
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
4 springs of rosemary

Stir together first 3 ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, and boil 1 minute or until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat, and let stand 30 minutes. Pour liquid through a wire-mesh strainer into a cruet or airtight container, discarding rosemary sprigs. Cover and chill 4 hours. Garnish, if desired. Syrup may be stored in refrigerator up to 1 month.

Recipe and photos by A Healthy Jalapeño 

Last Post: Fresh Blueberry Pie


May 28, 2012

Dorothy’s Fresh Blueberry Pie {SRC}

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Happy Memorial Day!!!
I am so excited that it's SRC reveal day but even more so because today's reveal falls on one of our country's dearest holidays and I have a fabulous holiday recipe for you to share and celebrate.  
Meet Dorothy from Shockingly DeliciousOut of all of Dorothy's fabulous delicious recipes and having to only choose one, I simple HAD to go with her boasted about fresh blueberry pie. Her pie was was called a Genius Blueberry Pie by Southern California chef and charming radio foodie personality Evan Kleiman... so how can you possibly turn down testing out a recipe like that. I was hooked and couldn't get it off my mind.

Every recipe I drooled over I just kept coming back to, "ohh this looks soooo delicious, but... is it as good as the blueberry pie"?
With so much pondering going on and Memorial Day on it's way, my decision was made and that pie would be in my fridge by sundown. Well, luckily I made the pie ahead of time because like all things in life, the more you wander off the beaten track the more lost you can get. I thought to myself that I could easily whip this recipe into a healthier version of itself and still be the same... however, there was never a need to tweak Dorothy's recipe at all. Yes there is sugar in this pie, but it's a dessert for heaven sakes, and let me just add that the 5 cups of fresh blueberries is far healthier than your average slice of cake or tub of ice cream.
This pie took such little effort it's hard to even realize how quickly it was made and done. My kitchen wasn't covered in flour, I didn't use every appliance in the house and it came out beautifully. 

We are going to a Memorial Day picnic today and this was just the quick recipe to throw together last night ready to go this morning and of course the bright blue  berries from the farmers market were the perfect color to spruce up this long weekends holiday in memory of our fallen heroes.
To all of our men and women who have fought for our country to give us the freedoms we have, Thank you. You gave your lives so we can freely celebrate a day like this. 

I am honored to know and thankful for my Papa and Grandpa, and for my fiancé who all serve(d ) for our country. I am proud to be an American!!! 
Dorothy’s Fresh Blueberry Pie 
Servings: 8

3/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2/3 cup water
5 cups fresh blueberries, divided use
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp butter (not margarine)
2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest (yellow only)
9-inch deep dish pie crust, blind baked and cooled*

In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch, salt and cinnamon. Blend in water and 1 1/2 cups blueberries. Bring to a boil, stirring and smashing half the berries deliberately (use a potato masher a few swipes if you like). Boil, stirring constantly, until mixture is very thick, a minute or so. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract, butter, lemon juice and lemon zest. Completely cool. (See note below.)

Fold in 2 1/2 cups blueberries, coating them well. Scoop into cooled baked pie shell. Arrange remaining 1 cup of fresh berries over top. Cover with plastic wrap and chill at least 2 hours, or overnight if needed.

Serve plain, or with whipped cream, vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt. To serve, remove pie from refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature. Sift powdered sugar over top for pretty.
Secret Recipe Club
Note: A quick way to cool the filling before adding the rest of the blueberries is to fill a large salad-type bowl with ice and water. Partially submerge the pan with the cooked blueberries in this cold bath, stirring every once in awhile, and in 5 or so minutes it will be sufficiently cooled to continue with your recipe. You can also just set the pan on an unused burner while it cools off, but the cold water bath is much faster and lets you get your pie in the refrigerator more quickly if time is important.

*To fully blind bake a pie crust, bake it at 425 degrees for 15 to 18 minutes or until the sides begin to brown. (The initial high heat will force much of the steam out, helping the crust become flaky.) Reduce oven to 375 degrees and continue to bake the crust for several minutes until it's golden.
Recipe adopted by Shockingly Delicious 

Stop by Dorothy's blog, Shockingly Delicious for more amazing and delicious recipes and tell her I sent you.

Featured On: Foodbuzz Top 9

May 24, 2012

Cucumber-Buttermilk Soup

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 I'm getting married!!!

I still can't believe it, and calling Paul my fiancé... completely weird. I wonder if I will get used to it before I have to start calling him my husband? 

I am 28 years old and most of my friends are married and on to kiddies, some even on their second kiddies, but somehow I just don't feel old enough to be a wife. I have to say though, I am marrying my perfect pair. He's a goofball like me in every way and that alone let's me know we are going to be happy for a long time.
Now here comes the zinger, my future husby {saw that on a friends blog and loved it} haha, ok, so my future husby is in the military and might be deploying over the next year so we decided that we're going to have a very short engagement and kick this wedding into go-time. 

We are looking to the fall which gives us about 4-5 months of planning so in the words of my girlfriend, it's Operation: Pull The Trigger time. 
First and foremost (along with finding a venue) is getting healthy and into shape. 

Now when I say healthy and getting into shape it means that not only do I need to start hitting the gym harder and taking care of my skin, but I need to put the beers down and kick this healthy diet up a few pegs. I try to do this on a regular basis but nothing puts motivation in your mind like having a million pictures of you to stare at for the rest of your life. 

Your wedding is a day to remember forever... and I will not be remembered for flabby arms. So I am searching out those delicious recipes with lots of flavor and very little waist line.
This no-cook soup is so creamy all due to the buttermilk and the diced cucumbers which add a refreshing crunch into each bite. Days here in Connecticut have been scorchers. Like this weekend with muggy, warm, rainy days. So this refreshing and light soup fills you with flavor without making you full. That is exactly the type of wedding-ready food I am talking about. I had the soup for dinner with grilled tilapia and it was excellent.

This soup would be the perfect lunch or served as a starter with grilled chicken or fish. The flavors are light, fresh and perfect for spring.
Cucumber-Buttermilk Soup
Time 15 minutes
Serves 4

2 cucumbers, peeled, halved, and seeded, plus thin cucumber rounds, for serving
2 cups buttermilk
Coarse salt and ground pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil, for serving

Roughly chop 1 1/2 cucumbers; dice remaining cucumber half. Place roughly chopped cucumber in a blender with buttermilk and blend until smooth, 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Divide soup among four bowls and stir in diced cucumber. To serve, top with cucumber rounds, a drizzle of oil, and more pepper, if desired.

Recipe adopted by Everyday Food


May 22, 2012

Asparagus and Bacon Eggs Benedict and an Engagement!

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I have to begin by apologizing for my slight absence lately. I haven't been on the computer much the past couple of days due to the fact that my company had one of it's largest events in history this Saturday with over 10,000 people and.... WE GOT ENGAGED!!!! 

We are both soooo excited. We have been talking about marriage for a little while now and I knew it was on his mind but I have to say, I was completely surprised. We had worked out on Friday together at our Crossfit gym and came home to start cooking dinner. 

Paul and I are huge homebodies and love nothing more than a glass of wine or a few beers, a good movie and sweats on the couch so when I turned around in the middle of making dinner and Paul was on one knee taking this outrageously beautiful ring off his Army dog tags and asked me to marry him, I was shocked... and melted.

Yelps and screams and of course, a YES!
Saturday I worked closed to 12 hours. It was a really long day but I was beaming from ear to ear with happiness and the weather was perfect so it didn't matter to me where I was. Then Saturday night I finally made it home and out to a beautiful dinner with my guy. 

Sunday was ours. We slept in, made an amazing breakfast, took a ride on the motorcycle, and then went over his sister's new place to celebrate her birthday and our engagement with the family. It was a perfect day to end a wonderful weekend. I am really getting excited now because the next 5 weeks we have nothing but exciting plans with memorial day barbecues, broadway shows, and weddings... it should be so fun.
So on to breakfast... a Sunday favorite of mine is eggs benedict but they are not always the healthiest choice. So I decided to spruce it up a bit while lightening the overall dish. Eggs always work well for breakfast, brunch, and sometimes even a light dinner, and with my added changes and burst of veggies, this dish is now hearty enough to hold you until dinnertime.

This is a fancy breakfast brought home so that on Sunday morning after a beautiful weekend and the love of your life proposing to you...... you can relax and snuggle on the couch with a lightened-up breakfast you both will love. 
Asparagus and Bacon Eggs Benedict
Servings: 4

8 pieces of bacon, cooked and crispy
1 lb asparagus, trimmed of tough, woody stems
4 eggs
1 large clove garlic, halved
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, more for brushing the toast 
2 tsp white or rice vinegar
2 Whole Wheat English muffins
1 oz Pecorino Romano cheese, shaved, optional
Freshly cracked black pepper
Bring a large saucepan two-thirds-filled with water to a boil, then add the vinegar. Bring the water to a boil again, then lower the heat to a bare simmer. Poach the eggs. Here is my quick and easy go-to for poaching an egg but you may also cook the eggs the traditional way.

 Put the asparagus in a 12-inch nonstick skillet with 1/2 cup water, the olive oil, garlic and 1/2 tsp. salt. Cover, bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. When the asparagus is ready, pat dry and divide it among the pieces of toast. Then you can start to make the lightened-up hollandaise sauce (recipe below).

As soon as all the eggs are in the poaching water, begin toasting your English muffins. If you can’t get all the muffins toasted by the time the eggs are ready, gently remove the eggs from the poaching water and set in a bowl.

To assemble the eggs benedict, put an English muffin on each plat and top with 4-5 pieces of asparagus and two slices of bacon (you can trim the bacon to fit the muffin if you’d like). Put a poached egg on top of the bacon, then pour some hollandaise over. 

Garnish with some fresh black pepper over it all, and shaved peppercorn if you'd like, and serve at once.

Lightened Up Hollandase 

(recipe from Eating Well)
1 tbsp butter
3/4 cup nonfat buttermilk, divided
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tbsp lemon juice

Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Cook, swirling the pan, until the butter turns golden, 30 to 60 seconds. Pour into a small bowl and set aside.
Whisk 1/4 cup buttermilk, cornstarch, salt and cayenne in a heavy medium saucepan until smooth. Whisk in egg along with the remaining 1/2 cup buttermilk.
Set the pan over medium-low heat and cook the sauce, whisking constantly, until it comes to a simmer. Cook, whisking, for 15 seconds. Remove from heat and whisk in lemon juice and the reserved butter. Serve hot or warm. 

Oh and did I mention... WE'RE ENGAGED!!!

I have the best fiancé in the world. He makes me so happy and together we are just the perfect blend of corny, romantically challenged, honest, happy and filled with love. 
I am so happy to share this news with you all because you are like my extended family and I couldn't wait to share the great news with my readers and friends. More to come soon but here is a little snapshot of me and my future hubby.

Love him!


May 16, 2012

Lime Quinoa Salad with Avocado and Mint

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Simple salads are what life is all about.

Salads are so light and healthy and can contain so many different flavors and textures that they are endless with possibilities... even when you introduce one of my favorite ingredients, quinoa.
My mother doesn't really get the whole blogging thing, but she tried extra hard to read and understand the concept that I type and write on the web. She does however know how to find and follow something she really likes. There is a website (aka blog) that she follows that is anything and everything quinoa. There are winter entree's and light spring salads to everything in between and being another woman of health, she sure loves her quinoa.

I myself am a new fan to quinoa and all it's fabulous health benefits. Quinoa is also delicious and so conforming to whatever dish it's in... ergo the salad.
Quinoa is super light and fluffy. Add in some mint and avocados and you have a bowl of flavor that can hold it's own as a vegetarian dish or as a side to grilled chicken. 

There are so many ways a salad can go and this one went just right. Next time I get together with my mother I am going to have to share this one with her, or see if her quinoa blogging friend has something similar that I can test out.

Happy Wednesday!
Lime Quinoa Salad with Avocado and Mint
Servings: 4

1 cup quinoa
2 cups vegetable broth
2 tbsp olive oil (or organic coconut oil)
1 fresh lime, juiced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 large shallots, dicedsprigs of mint fresh, chopped
1 avocado, diced
1/4 cup parsley

Heat 1 tbsp oil in saucepan over meadium-high heat. Cook shallots in oil for 5 minutes or until translucent. Stir in quinoa and vegetable broth and cook the quinoa covered, until all of the liquid is absorbed. Your quinoa should turn out fluffy, tender and perfect.

In a large bowl mix the olive oil, lime juice and garlic. Finely chop mint and parsley and add to mixture. Scoop the cooked quinoa into the bowl, tossing lightly with a fork until combined. Lastly you want to add the diced avocados, incorporating them gently to the salad as you do not want to mash the avocados.

This recipe can be prepared up to a day ahead. This allows the flavors of the salad to marinate and you really get the full effect of the salad, but it can also be served immediately.
Recipe and photos by A Healthy Jalapeño 

Nutritional Info
Calories: 288
Total Fat: 11g
Cholesterol: 0mg
Sodium: 8mg
Total Carbs: 57g
Dietary Fiber: 5g
Protein: 10g


May 15, 2012

Whole Wheat Banana Bread

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Something about banana bread screams Sunday morning and it's not all that often that I get to smell and taste it, so Mother's Day was the perfect venue to make and share that fresh bakery moment.

Sunday at my mother's house was a smorgageborge of all things brunch. My aunts and uncles brought the fruits salads, my cousins made the quiche, my brother and his wife brought the mimosas and I brought my two baking sweet tooth treats, strawberry yogurt cake and banana bread. 
I don't have a lot of heavy carbs like this bread very often so when I make breads and treats, I make sure I do it right... healthy and delicious. Somehow growing up I was made to believe that sugar was the only ingredient that went with spice and everything nice, but what about honey or even maple syrup? They are just as delicious and still follows the rhyme.

Sugar and spice and everything nice.
Honey and spice and everything nice.
Syrup and spice and everything nice. 

I think I am on to something here!
Well to me, anything that is made in nature is better in our bodies. Sugar is still sugar even in syrup form but it makes me much happier to know that trees made my sweets, not a factory... and I think that you can absolutely taste the difference in my bread.

Baking is one of those closely measured, lightly whipped, smell up the whole house kinda treats that everyone has a soft spot for. And why not, banana bread is delicious, but it's always better homemade. Paul and I are patiently awaiting the new Whole Foods that is coming to town because we will have so many healthy and delicious ways to make the best dishes at home, fresh.
My family, and my mother, loves this bread. It was perfectly moist and went amazingly with my harvest maple butter. It was easy to bring 45 minutes to mom's house ready to serve and the fresh smell still burst in every cut. If you make two loaves you can give one as a gift, but sorry mom, you only got the leftovers of whatever everyone didn't eat.

I hope everyone had a fabulous and wonderful Mother's Day and enjoyed the weekend with their loved ones. Now really show them how much you care by making them this deliciously healthy whole wheat banana bread. You'll be the new favorite {wink:wink}.
Whole Wheat Banana Bread
2 small loaves


2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar free applesauce
3/4 cup honey or maple syrup
2 eggs, beaten
3 mashed overripe bananas

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan (or two small loaf pans).

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together applesauce and honey. Stir in eggs and mashed bananas until well blended. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture and stir just to moisten. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.

Bake in preheated oven for 60 to 65 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean. Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.
Recipe adopted by 8 weeks to a better you recipes


May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day Mom!!!

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Ginny Gail and Laura Jeanne... 

My mother is a teacher, a good one at that, and as much as I couldn't stand this when I was younger with extra summer reading and such, as I grew older I have come to see just how much she has always wanted the best for me, teaching me every step of the way.

My mother has such a positive outlook on life, finds the good in everyone (and I really mean everyone) and consistently projects a happy and supportive attitude all day long. None of this is fake or pushed, she is just an honest and endearing person.

I am very often times called "Ginny" and told that I am "my mother's daughter" in ever sense of the word from our laugh, our stories and our sometimes forgetful memories (lol), but in all honesty... if I am even a half of my mother's heart, then it's all due to how wonderfully she raised me with her unconditional love. I am and continually will be so proud to be my mother's daughter.
My grandmother is the rock in our family. We are with family for all holidays, birthdays, and even random days because a meal together is just enough time to catch up on life and laugh. My Gram is the true matriarch, pulling and keeping our family's love together and continuously reminding everyone how blessed we are.
I've never moved very far from home, not for college, not after college, and sometimes I used to think that I was scared of too much change. But Paul reminds me daily that it's because I have such a wonderful family that loves me for who I am and that cherishes life the same way I do. My mother and father are extraordinary people, my grandmother is a true light in our family's life, and the same goes for my extended family... so why would I ever want to leave?

Mom and Gram, you have made our family. You have made us strong, happy, inspired and motivated. Each and everyone in our family knows love and support thanks to all your years and years of showing us how.

I love all that you have done for me. I love that you believe in me. I love that you are strong and supportive of me.
I love you. 

Thank you for being my MOM!
(and Grammy)

Well, with that said and clearing the tear from my eye, I am heading off to my mother's with the whole family... Gram, aunts, cousins, mother-in-laws and everyone in between to celebrate our mothers and all they mean to us.

Come see what I made for Mother's Day brunch at my Mamma's house, this delicious Strawberry Yogurt Cake that is #3 on Top 9 today on Foodbuzz. 


May 12, 2012

Winner of the Italian Volcano Juices Giveaway

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Thank you again to the wonderful crew over at Italian Volcano Organic Juices for allowing me to host this super generous {and delicious} giveaway! If you haven't checked them out yet, then you need to head over right away. You'll find all your favorite organic juices in original and exotic flavors for a healthy and all-natural alternative to store bought, sugary juices! 

Want to try Italian Volcano’s Organic Juices for yourself?
Go to their website and order your freshly organic juice(s) today.

Blogger Becky77 said...
While I am obsessed with all things lemon these days...I would love to try a Blood Orange Mimosa or the recipe for San Guinello that Dream Foods has on their website. My kind of beverage! My new summer beverages of choice!!
May 9, 2012 3:19 PM

Congratulations Becky!!!! I hope you enjoy those cocktails, I think your right that a Blood Orange Mimosa would be fabulous so make sure to have one for me too.

Thank so much for all who entered and have a FABULOUS weekend!!!