I was so happy when I got my assignment this month for Secret Recipe Club! I was assigned Tandy from Lavender and Lime. First off I’m a fan of citrus, and she obviously is too, it’s right there in her title. Tandy is from South Africa, two years ago McGyver and I went on a Safari there and stayed to visit friends, you can read about that here and here. Naturally anything to do with South Africa brings back a flood of good memories.
Tandy has some serious cooking chops! Her recipes have been published in several venues, even before she started her blog. She’s also won a cooking competition. Tandy makes her magic in a small kitchen with the best of ingredients. And I love this quote that she has in her about page.
Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly.
When it came to choosing a recipe I went straight for her venison recipes. Lucky me, I have a freezer full of venison and I am always looking for exciting new ways to prepare it. As soon as my eyes landed on her recipe for Venison Roast with Coffee and Star Anise Rub it was love. Tandy mentioned in her intro to the recipe that she wanted to use a loin but didn’t have any so she used a leg roast instead, well Tandy, I had a loin just waiting to be used.
This would be a good time to mention that what Tandy refer’s to as venison are ‘bokkies’, as in springboks (which is also a rugby football team), blesboks, bushboks, etc. Bokkies are actually an antelope, here in the states when we use the term venison it’s in reference strictly to deer. Having ate spring and blesbok before I knew that the flavor was not dissimilar and it would be no problem using deer instead of blesbok. Of course there was zero chance that I would actually be able to get my hands on one.
Speaking of not being able to get my hands on something, I went to four stores and not one of them had juniper berries. Thank goodness I had a trip to San Francisco scheduled and I was able to pick some up. Also while I was there I bought some cabernet salt which I used in place of the regular salt. There will be more on that and the rest of my trip on Friday (are you happy Debra? She’s been asking me when I was going to share). Continue reading “Coffee, Juniper Berry, and Anise Crusted Venison Loin” »
Wow, just wow. The minute I hit Hugs and Cookies XOXO’s website I felt like I was at the fun-est and tastiest house on the block. Danielle is obviously an energetic mum, 1st grade teacher and she loooooves sweets and baking. And she’s my Secret Recipe Club assignment for this month.
If any of you know me, you know I don’t do sweets and I begrudgingly do baking. If I bake something sweet I really have to have a wild hair. I’m more savory and sassy unlike Danielle who is sweet, and well, sweet.
At first I thought about making a savory dish from her site, she does have some savory food. But I thought I wouldn’t be doing her justice if I didn’t choose one of the many, many, many, sweet options. I started browsing her categories, thinking I ‘d try a favorite of hers. Did you know that she has 166, yes I said 166 posts on decorated cookies! Since I have the patience of an ADHD kid on energy drinks I certainly wasn’t going to get myself into a decorating cooking situation.
I am so excited for this month’s Secret Recipe Club reveal, the first one of 2013! If you haven’t heard of this great ‘secret santa’ type group, you should check out their site. Gurl, you wouldn’t believe who’s blog I got this month. That’s right it was steaknpotatoeskindagurl.
Not surprisingly, the first recipes I sought out were steak recipes. Okay, would you believe that Desiree, Desi, Des didn’t actually have any steak recipes on her site? She even joked about it, her only steak reference was a guest post that she did!
I about died laughing when I realized that! So I sought out her tag cloud and next to menu planning and restaurant reviews she had plenty of chicken recipes. Desi’s White Chicken Chili really stood out to me. It’s January, it’s cold, and chili is the perfect recipe to chase away cold snowy days in Montana.
Since I’ve become a student I eat out a lot, way more than I’m used too. Our school is located downtown historic Missoula, Montana, a really cool place. Eating lunch out often means that you get to know which places are good and fast. Lucky for me, right across the street from the school is an Argentinean Empanada restaurant.
Well shiver me timbers, an empanada joint in Montana! Quelle chance! What a treat, but an expensive one, at $4 each for small ones, the bills added up fast. It was hard to resist, they were so perfect and good and they served a variety of sauces with them. after the initial weekly gorging, I allowed myself a once a month treat of two of them with sauce(s).
The aroma would take me away to South America, the smell of chiles and cumin wafted into my olfactory, stimulating a drool response. The pastry is like no other, somewhere between a pie crust and a dough. Golden brown and shiny on the outside with just the right amount of flake and chewiness once bitten into. I pictured myself sitting at a friends table, basking in the warmth and soaking up all the goodness that South America has to offer. Of course I’ve never been to South America, but I can just imagine it.
It’s hard to believe that it’s time for the Secret Recipe Club reveal. Each month passes by faster and faster! If you haven’t heard of SRC before, it’s a way for other bloggers to secretly cook another bloggers recipe and then post about the experience. Amanda from Amanda’s Cookin started it, there are four groups and each group has a host, mine is the charming Angie from Big Bear’s Wife.
I really enjoy it, not only because I actually make time to cook another bloggers recipe, but I take the time to get to know them. The hardest part, is lurking on their site and not making too many comments for fear that they’ll clue in who it is.
This month I was assigned The Pink Apron. Kelly started her blog in 2008, she is passionate about her food and about the story behind the food. I knew Kelly and and I were of one heart when I read that she loves cheese (anyone who hangs around here knows that I’m a cheese FREAK). To quote Kelly:
If I had to pick only one food to live off of for the rest of my life it would be cheese. I’ve even decided that if I ever get married I want a cake made of stacked wheels of cheese. (I know my mom thinks this is crazy, but I am serious.)
Kelly, I don’t think you are at all crazy, plus I bet if you saved the top layer (with the right kind of cheese) in a year it would probably taste better than some frozen stale cake. Kelly doesn’t just love cheese, she makes her own! She even has a cheese certificate from Boston University.
Guess what? Bonus post from me. Motorcycles and recipes in the same day, wow. Why? Sadly one of our Group D Secret Recipe Club members was orphaned. Is that not the saddest word? Images of poor Oliver Twist come to my mind “more please”. It breaks my heart. No one should be orphaned!
I was almost orphaned myself last week but CookLisaCook came to my rescue, now it’s my turn to be the heroine. When Amanda’s call came out, it was right at lunch time…perfect! I quickly scanned Dishing the Divine to see what Paula had to offer for a great lunch time recipe and one that I would have the ingredients for (I am completely out of eggs…).
I spied the Pear Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette Dressing and remembered that I had one lonely pear in my fridge. It’s a little worse for the wear but it would do. I didn’t have any of the recommended cheeses but I had some feta, bingo!
Paula has a lovely site with some amazing photos…I’m envious. In her ‘About Me’ section she mentioned that she would have to ask her mom, are we having real or plastic noodles (read: homemade versus purchased). How cute is that? Paula was lucky to have an excellent cook for her mom, influencing her cooking now.
Paula originally got this recipe from allrecipes.com (such a great source for recipes). Paula, you are no longer orphaned and I’m happy to be a part of your family now. I’m so glad you threw your hat into the food blogging world!
several cups of mixed salad greens
1 pear, thinly sliced
1 orange, peeled and thinly sliced (or use candied oranges) 2 ounces crumbly cheese (gorgonzola, blue cheese, white cheddar, etc….FETA in my case)
1/2 cup pecans
1/4 cup white sugar
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
fresh ground pepper to taste
Place the baby greens in a large, flat bowl. Top with pear slices, oranges, and cheese.
In a skillet over medium heat, stir 1/4 cup of sugar together with the pecans. Continue stirring gently until sugar has melted and caramelized the pecans. Carefully transfer nuts onto waxed paper. Allow to cool and break into pieces. Sprinkle over the salad.
For the dressing, blend oil, vinegar, 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar, mustard, chopped garlic, salt, and pepper.
Drizzle the dressing over the salad and pass additional dressing at the table.
Source: Allrecipes and Dishing the Divine.
Make sure and check out all the other divine recipes:
This is my third month participating in Secret Recipe Club and I got the fantastic blog The Yummy Life for my assignment. I’m not exaggerating about the blog being fantastic! Monica has a lovely blog, it’s very easy to find whatever you are searching for: recipes, gifts and household/decorating tips. Evidently her son ‘T-Man’ is the web designer. Very convenient, hint hint to any of my children who might be looking for a new career….
After reading a little bit about Monica, I could tell that she has a great sense of humor and enjoys life along with the Rams and the Cards. I know exactly what kind of passion there is for the Rams and Cards after living 5 years in the St. Louis area. Just Monica’s mention of gooey cake and Ted Drewes made me yearn to go back (if only they could take the humidity away).
Typically you hear from all the SRC participants that it was so hard to pick a recipe. Nope, not for me. I stumbled across Monica’s 2C+sweet+%26+salty+recipe">Green Popcorn and Pretzel Mix recipe and knew right away that it was what I wanted to do. Not that Monica doesn’t have a zillion great recipes, she does. It’s just that my mind has been on Christmas.
I know, I know it’s not even Halloween yet. Normally my thoughts don’t wander to Christmas until after Thanksgiving, I’ve never been the super plan ahead type. However, this year’s a little different. I’ve decided to make gifts, particularly foodie gifts. Naturally when I saw that The Yummy Life had a tab just for gifts, I honed right onto it.
The Green Popcorn and Pretzel mix was originally for St. Patrick’s Day but I thought with an addition of some red components it could easily be converted to a Christmas Popcorn Mix. I noticed that Monica was able to purchase just green M&Ms; the benefits of a big city. Alas, that is not an option here in little ol’ Great Falls. So I bought a big bag of regular M&Ms and sorted them. There is obviously a big disparity between the amount of red versus the green. The good news, is that between the two I got a half cup of M&Ms.
As most of you know, since I first started participating in SRC, the Baby boy has been involved. This time was no different. How could he resist when it involved candy, popcorn and pretzels?
Did you notice the Baby boy has white chocolate on his fingers? Boys!
I followed her recipe almost to a “T” (other than adding red). I did run into one problem that had absolutely nothing to do with the recipe. Since I didn’t have the recommended type of coloring, I purchased a boxed set of frosting colors. The boxed colors were “Duff” brand (from Ace of Cakes). I followed the instructions and melted the white chocolate chips, oil and color. Unfortunately, the color cooked and then it wouldn’t blend. On top of that the chocolate seized. So I started over, making sure that my measurements were exact (just in case I made a mistake before), omitting the color then melting the white chocolate and oil per the instructions. As soon as I stirred the color in, it seized again. I added a little more oil and recovered it to a usable consistency. In the future I would not use that brand of coloring.
The only other thing I did different was cook my popcorn in my Whirly Pop and omit the dye. I thought the red, white, green combination would have a nice Christmas look.
In the spirit of The Yummy Life, I also decided to make my own gift containers. I’m not super crafty, but I’m not un-crafty either, it’s just not my normal gig. After reading The Yummy Life, how could I not be inspired. I didn’t just make one, nope I made three gift containers…go Giggles, go Giggles! I’m doing my crafty cool dance (try not to picture it for your own sake).
I purchased a plain white box and used craft paper and scrap booking items to decorate the lid for a family sized gift.
I also put some in a purchased Chinese take out container and simply added a bow. The translucent container showed off the pretty mix inside and didn’t need much more adornment. I thought it would be the perfect size for a couple to share.
Lastly, for individual gifts, I wrapped a standard used and washed can in craft paper, put a ribbon and bow around it then added a small sticker. The popcorn is in a cellophane treat bag. This one ended up being my favorite (and cheapest). I loved that I recycled an ordinary can and turned it into a fun container.
Monica, thanks for great gift idea, I’ll definitely be checking out The Yummy Life for more gift ideas and recipes!
1 cup white chocolate or vanilla baking chips, divided
1 tablespoon canola oil, divided
Red and green food coloring*, optional (oil based preferred over water based)
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
decorating sprinkles (green and red coarse sugar, green/red/white nonpareils, or similar)
Melt 1/2 cup white chips with 1/2 tablespoon oil in microwave; stir after 40 seconds, continue cooking and stirring at 20 second intervals just until last chips melt in when stirred. Dip half of each pretzel in the melted chocolate and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment or waxed paper. While still wet, sprinkle with colored sugar or other decorative sprinkles. Set aside to harden.
Spread popcorn on another large baking sheet that has been lined with parchment or waxed paper. Sprinkle peanuts and M&Ms evenly over top. Combine chocolate chips with 1/2 tablespoon oil and melt in microwave (see melting chocolate at The Yummy Life). With spoon, drizzle evenly over popcorn mixture. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Add food coloring and 1/2 tablespoon oil to 1/2 cup white chips, melt, and drizzle over popcorn mixture. Sprinkle with decorating green sugar and nonpareils. After melted drizzle harden, break into pieces, add pretzels, and store in airtight container or sealed plastic bags.
*Food coloring can be omitted entirely–use plain white melted chocolate and rely on M&Ms and sprinkles to add color to the mix.
Can’t get enough of Secret Recipe Club? Hop on over to these sites:
Wow, has it been a month already? It seems like just last week I was doing my first Secret Recipe Club post. It was so much fun that I came back for more. Not only did I have fun, so did the Baby boy. In fact he had so much fun making Southwestern Egg Rolls from The Freshman Cook, he wanted to cook for the next round.
Hey, if you can get a teenage boy interested in cooking through SRC, you are one lucky mom! I got my assignment and informed the Baby boy. He’s on the iPad and asks, “who is it”, I said Family Fresh Cooking. He starts to type in Family, then he goes, “Wow, she’s popular, it’s the first thing that came up”. Then he went rooting around the site, and stated “I don’t think I should cook one of her recipes, I mean, she has a lot of followers”. Kind of intimidating for a teenager, I mean what if they thought he did a bad job?
I assured him that this was about trying recipes from different sites and anybody with “family” in their title would be happy to see one of the kids cooking! He was convinced and set about immediately to find a recipe. He was sold on the Chinese 5 Spice Harvest Chili with Bison. He loves Chinese and he loves chili. The fact that we had temps in the high 80’s was no matter to him.
A little about Family Fresh Cooking, Marla is an amazing person! Not only is she a mom, she is also a food photographer, stylist and writer, she also does recipe development and somehow manages to travel. Oh, and guess who designed the badge at the top of this post? Yep, she’s one talented lady. What amazed me most about Marla is that she gets up at 4 am! Hello, I’m not such a morning person (you won’t see me until after 7 am). She seems to have boundless energy, maybe it’s all that healthy living. Looks like I have a few things I could learn from Marla.
Trying to get the Baby boys schedule and mine to mash (read he’s never home), took some finagling. I finally pinned him down on a cold rainy day…perfect for a bowl of chili! What luck. Only he started feeling sick, and pooped out on me after just a little prep time…
I pressed on. I made very few changes to the recipe (which you can see with the modified original below). I used one of Marla’s substitute ideas, and used ground turkey instead of bison. Bison was $8 a pound and the ground turkey was buy one get one free…what a deal (as long as we don’t get salmonella from it)!
This is also the first time that the Baby boy had parsnips, I mean “white carrots”. Really, I don’t know why I don’t use them more. I enjoy their flavor and they are popular in Montana due to our short growing season.
I also pulled out my three wimpy leeks that I planted year before last (they were a Farmer’s Market impulse buy at 10 cents each). I’ve never grown leeks and had no clue what to do. My leeks had kind of a bulbous end and upon peeling they broke off and there was my leek…which was more like a scallion. I tasted the bulb part and it was not good…can it be used to replant? Is that how it reproduces? Any gardeners out there know? Fortunately I had purchased some big girl leeks to supplement the meager 1/8 cup I ended with from my garden.
As far as the recipe goes…it was delicious. A unique and enjoyable flavor. The 5 spice hits you first and then it’s rounded out by the nice tomato and chili flavor. McGyver refused to call it chili and instead referred to it as stew, guess he’s too much of a traditionalist (he still loved it). Whether you call it a stew or a chili, call it wonderful and make it!
Thanks Marla for a great healthy recipe, I’ll be making more for sure!
Chinese 5 Spice Chili with Turkey
1 cup Chopped Leeks
A few cloves chopped Garlic or 1 tablespoon Garlic purée
1 cup chopped Mushrooms
5 large Carrots, chopped
5 Parsnips, chopped
28 2 14.5 ounce cans chopped diced Tomatoes
6 ounce can Tomato Paste
splash of Lemon Juice
1 2 cup Vegetable or Beef Broth or a few cubes of Bouillon with 1 cup water
1 tablespoon Chili Powder
2 teaspoons Cumin
1 tablespoon Chinese 5 Spice Blend
2 teaspoons Smoked Paprika
Garlic Salt and Pepper to taste
splash of Olive Oil
2 pounds ground Bison turkey
*Add an additional pinch of the above spices to season the meat, use the above measurements to add to the pot of chili
In a large pot add a splash of olive oil, garlic and leeks. Over medium heat cook for a few minutes and add the measured spices. Cook until softened, fragrant and lightly browned. Stir occasionally. Add veggies. Cook to soften veggies for about 10 minutes while the meat browns. Stir occasionally.
In a separate pan, add splash of olive oil, cook and brown ground meat. Add pinches of the above spices, stir to combine. Add cooked meat, chopped tomatoes tomato paste, broth and lemon juice to veggie pot. Stir to combine. Bring to boil. Turn down heat to low and simmer for about 1/2 hour or until veggies are cooked thorough. Add additional broth or water if necessary to thin out. Adjust seasonings to taste.
Hop on over and check out all the other SRC recipes.
I have been excited about the Secret Recipe Club ever since I read about it on Feast on the Cheap (one of my all time favorite blogs). After reading about it, I knew I wanted to participate. I’ve been looking for a club of some sort like Daring Cooks, only I’m not to daring. However I love a good secret.
What is the Secret Recipe Club? It’s a lot like a Secret Santa. Each month the participating bloggers (another cool thing…you don’t have to participate every month) get assigned another blog…secretly. You select a recipe from that bloggers repertoire and make it and post it on reveal day. Reveal day is so exciting, everyone blog hops and checks out what everyone has done, plus you find out who your Secret Recipe maker was.
This is my first month participating and I got assigned The Freshman Cook. The Freshman Cook is a blog designed for the beginner cook. You’ll find menu plans, grocery lists and basic cooking terminology and instructions. I immediately perused the recipes and picked out Tiramisu Mousse. Tiramisu is my favorite all time dessert and I was eager to try an easy mousse version.
But then I got to thinking, I said to myself “Giggles, you really aren’t a Freshman Cook, how can you review the site as an experienced cook?” Then my eyes rested on my Baby boy, I wasn’t exactly a Freshman cook but he was. Plus he’s a senior this year and needs to be ready for being out on his own (boohoo, sad mama).
The only thing is that my baby doesn’t care for tiramisu, tragic I know. So I plug him into the computer and let him choose his own recipe, it only seemed right. There were quite a few recipes that caught his eye but he finally settled on the Southwestern Spring Rolls. He also doesn’t care for avocados, so we substituted the avocado sauce for a homemade taco sauce and have included both recipes so you can choose or make both.
My poor baby had reconstructive foot surgery to correct his Flintstone (flat) feet, which meant he was in crutches. I had to set up everything for him and I did the frying. Crutches + deep frying = accident waiting to happen.
The recipe ended up being absolutely delicious and the rolling instructions were great. The kiddo did have a few comments though: When he made the grocery list, there wasn’t an amount listed so that meant guessing..not to comfortable for the freshman. He was also not sure how to slice the green onions, use the green part, slice thinly, etc. And the same went for what size dice for the tomatoes. He also would have liked to known how many spring rolls the recipe makes. We ended up with 10 but I think if he was a little more frugal with the stuffing we would have got 12.
Warning photo overload alert! I took pictures of my baby at every step…Mise en place for crutch boy.
Although the recipe called for corn niblets, we had leftover corn on the cob, it seemed appropriate to cut the corn off and use it.
We always grate our own cheese, for simplicity it is easier to purchase already shredded cheese like the original recipe called for.
After minor deliberation, the baby boy sliced the green onions as thinly as his skills allowed.
The assembly (not pictured the tomatoes).
An added step. My baby boy felt that he needed to pack/gather all stray ingredients together before rolling.l
The fold over.
Something doesn’t seem right so he referenced The Freshman Cook blog to see what is up.
Now we have it right.
The egg wash and continuing on. At first my poor baby was thinking that this wasn’t any fun, but once he got the hang of it, he was proud of his work.
His first few rolls, a bit fat and oddly shaped.
He got a little lazy and I showed him how the next two turned out.
Finally, he got the size and shape right. Once it was all done, he was very proud of himself and decided that rolling the spring rolls was kind of fun. He suggested that next time he invite his friends over for a little competition. Isn’t that just like teenaged boys…men…to turn everything into a competition.
Our recipe includes the amounts that we used to make 10, I believe if you double the ingredient list you would use the entire package of egg roll wrappers, which just might feed a couple of hungry freshman like boys.
Southwestern Spring Rolls by The Freshman Cook
10 to 12 egg roll wrappers
1 16 oz. can refried beans
1 cup thinly sliced green onion (tops included)
1 cup corn niblets
1 cup small diced tomatoes
4 oz. cheese, grated
Canola oil for deep frying
1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp. water (egg wash)
Preheat frying oil to 350F. For the spring rolls, lay out one egg roll wrapper, place some grated cheese in the bottom top with approximately two tablespoons of refried beans, sprinkle on about 1 tbsp., each of corn, tomatoes and green onions.
Fold in the sides of the egg roll wrapper, then fold up the bottom. Brush the top of the wrapper with a little of the egg wash then fold over to seal the spring roll. Brush entire roll with the egg wash. Deep fry the spring rolls two at a time for 3 to 5 minutes until golden brown. Serve with avocado or taco sauce.
1 smashed Avocado
1/4 cup Mayo
1/4 cup Sour Cream
1 tablespoon Buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoons White Vinegar
1/8 teaspoon Dried parsley
1/8 teaspoon Onion Powder
Dash Dried Dill Weed
Hot Sauce to Taste
Put every ingredient in a bowl and mix well.
Smash the avocado.
Taco Sauce (the best you’ll ever have…)
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce (look for a sugar free brand)
1/3 cup water
1 tbsp. white vinegar
1/4 tsp. chili powder
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. sugar
Mix all ingredients in a small saucepan, simmer on low for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool before serving.