The Bee Keepers Ball

The Bee Keepers Ball

“She was passionate about cooking and in love with the idea of creating a place for other dreamers to come and learn the culinary arts.” The Beekeeper’s Ball, Susan Wiggs 2014.

In all fairness, I was drawn to this book after reading on the back cover the main character was pursuing a dream and opening a cooking school; coincidentally in the area where I grew up in Northern California.

Without even reading further, similar dreams echoing in my head, I checked this book out at the library. I was intrigued for personal reasons anticipating the journey I would take while following in the footsteps of a character who accomplished what I have always dreamed of doing.

Quickly, the plot was diverted and I was drawn onto an entirely different voyage than expected. Romance, flashbacks to World War II, tales of tragedy, love and loss, intertwined with a few unique recipes; curiosity did get the best of me. I found it to be an easy, light, quick read however my desire to live vicariously through a character sharing similar dreams lives on.

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SUZANNE

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SUZANNE

Foodie | Home Chef | Author

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Ah….Thai Peanut Sauce!

Ah….Thai Peanut Sauce!

Do you want to know what is stupid good?  (I don’t care for the term stupid – it’s actually prohibited in our home but I am quoting one of my students here). Thai Peanut Sauce.

Ah, Thai Peanut Sauce.  Not only it is irresistible and totally worthy of eating right out of the blender it is surprisingly versatile.  I don’t remember where or how I came up with the recipe but this recipe rocks.  Seriously rocks.  Assuming you are ok with peanuts and cilantro.  If you are allergic to legumes or think cilantro tastes like soap, stop here. Read no further.  I can’t imagine making this sauce without either.  I apologize for not having substitutions as I most often do. Hold off until the next blog as I promise more deliciousness is to come.

This particular recipe is a snap if you have all the ingredients. I find that I normally do, if anything I may need to pick up fresh cilantro, dried won’t do here.

All the ingredients go right into a blender, a few good pulses and viola you have a thick and creamy, slightly spicy, mouthwatering Thai Peanut Sauce.  The best part about making this sauce is its flexibility.  Make up a batch (yields about 2 cups) and use for salad (my fave), chicken satay (my son’s fave) or a dipping sauce for spring rolls (my daughter’s fave).  Or hold the mayo and use it as the sauce for an Asian inspired wrap.  I am sure the options are limitless.

This week it’s my go to for a quick healthy, satisfying lunch.  Shred up some crisp Napa cabbage, jicama and carrots, toss the medley with the Thai Peanut Sauce, garnish it with chopped peanuts, more cilantro leaves, sesame seeds and dive in.  You won’t be disappointed.

Let’s talk ingredients:

  • I always have peanut butter in the pantry – creamy organic
  • Limes- pick the thinned skinned ones. Limes are better used room temperature.  Roll on the counter with your palm to release juices and always zest first with a microplane.
  • Sesame oil – I always have this in my pantry.  Don’t cook with it, use it as a garnish.
  • Soy sauce- I prefer organic and I always have it in the refrigerator
  • Honey – hopefully you have a generous friend willing to share their bounty – Thanks Jackie!
  • Garlic – I always, always use whole fresh garlic.  If you prefer some other kind be sure to read the label
  • Ginger root- buy fresh roots and for short storage wrap and place in the fridge.  For longer storage keep in the freezer and grate as needed.  To peel simply rub the brown skin off with a spoon or peeler.  Use a microplane to grate it right in to a recipe.
  • Peanut oil- great healthy oil option that I always have on hand
  • Kosher salt – always choose pure salt, no additives, preservatives, anti-caking agents
  • Siracha – hot yes, but adds a desired amount of heat to your level

Here is the recipe.  Enjoy and share!

Thai Peanut Salad Dressing

1/2 C peanut butter
1 lime, juiced and zested
2 1/2 t sesame oil
1 T seasoned rice wine vinegar
2 T soy sauce
3 T honey
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 T minced ginger
1/2 C roughly chopped cilantro (stems and all)
1/2 C peanut oil or safflower oil
1/4 t kosher salt
2-3 t Sriracha chili sauce
2-4 T water

Place all ingredients in a blender adding water as needed to thin.  Use as a salad dressing, a dip or on proteins.

Great on shredded Napa Cabbage, with shredded carrots, jicama, peanuts and cilantro.

Makes approximately 1 -2 cups

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SUZANNE

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SUZANNE

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Do the Twist

Do the Twist

Remember the Play-Doh Fuzzy Pumper Barber and Beauty Shop crazy hair growing set from the 1970’s?   Well, after two years of collecting dust on the shelf, I finally whipped out my spiralizer and flashed back to the 70’s while making zucchini noodles.  Fun times!  Check out my food column in The Daily Sentinel for more details….

http://www.gjsentinel.com/lifestyle/articles/overcome-your-gadget-reluctance-8232to-make-tasty

 

LET’S GET COOKING!

SUZANNE

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SUZANNE

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Side in a Snap

Side in a Snap

It was discussed, but we never quite committed to attend the after school BBQ at my daughter’s elementary school as we have two kids; one in middle and one in elementary.  Commitments can be challenging sometimes.  When my husband is around, we divide and conquer.  The day before, we learned we could attend, so I quickly RSVP’d and signed up for a side dish then completely tossed the food idea out of my mind.

The day of, we ran in circles taking care of last day of school business in addition to the craziness of let’s pack our gear and get out town for five days details.  Our lives were hectic, which frankly has become our norm.  Thirty minutes prior to the BBQ, the light bulb in my crazy head illuminated and I remembered I signed up for a side dish. Crap, seriously?!

Obligation, along with guilt, set in knowing that a food columnist cannot show up with a bag of pretzels in tow. Immediately, I ran around the house and threw this pasta together.  Simple, refreshing, clean and done.  I tossed it into an old round wooden bowl I picked up at a yard sale for 5 cents along with my favorite funky wooden spoon.  I covered the bowl with a red and white gingham towel over the top and headed to the BBQ.

Little did I know that my snappy side dish would be so popular.  I received so many comments that I need to share.  I was limited to what I could use for this recipe so feel free to add, subtract or alter as you desire.  Just know that simple is usually not only easier but better.  Enjoy!

1 lb Orzo pasta

Chicken broth

Olive oil

Fresh lemon juice

Coarse kosher salt / Fresh cracked black pepper

Fresh spinach, a generous amount, roughly chopped

Cherry tomatoes, cut in half

Ricotta salata or other favorite crumbly salty white cheese

Fresh basil, sliced

Cook orzo al dente in broth and drain.  Place chopped spinach in large serving bowl.  Add warm orzo to bowl.  Toss with generous amount of olive oil and juice of one lemon.  Add in sliced tomatoes, cheese and season with salt, pepper and basil.  Yum!

 LET’S GET COOKING!

SUZANNE

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SUZANNE

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Waffles or Pancakes

Waffles or Pancakes

I don’t remember having flap jacks or waffles growing up, they just weren’t mom’s thing. Eggs were our go to breakfast routine. Dad recalls growing up with crushed pineapple waffles that my great grandpa ate by the stack and struggled to share. I am sure you will see my version of them soon. Unfortunately, my kiddos prefer pancakes. Me, I am a waffle girl. So, me, being the head chef I get to choose and I frankly I thinks its apples to oranges. Pancakes are more cumbersome to make, flat and lack a little character. Waffles on the other hand have a crisp exterior, soft interior and perfect little sections that hold your warm butter and rich maple syrup. A no brainer comparison for me!

Here is my go to recipe for waffles. Don’t worry if you don’t have buttermilk, as I often don’t. Just use the same amount of milk (I like whole milk) and squeeze some fresh lemon juice in it to sour it. I ALWAYS, have lemons in my kitchen.

Buttermilk Waffles

10 oz. all-purpose flour

1 tsp salt

½ tsp baking soda

1 ¾ cup buttermilk or kefir soured milk

2 large eggs, separated

4 T unsalted butter, melted cooled slightly

Combine dry ingredients.  Combine milk, yolks, and butter.  Whip whites to stiff peaks.  Mix the dry ingredients with wet then fold in whites.

Cook in waffle maker.

Makes about 5-6 waffles depending on how generous you are.

*The blueberry syrup pictured above is just one container of blue berries, a little water and a little sugar heated up until a few of them popped.  Yum.

LET’S GET COOKING!

SUZANNE

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SUZANNE

Foodie | Home Chef | Author

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