Spiced Apple Cranberry Cider

Hot Spiced Cranberry Cider

Ingredients

  • 2 quarts apple cider *
  • 6 cups cranberry juice
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons whole cloves
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced
Directions
  1. In a large pot, combine apple cider, cranberry juice, brown sugar, cinnamon sticks, cloves and lemon slices. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove cinnamon, cloves, and lemon slices. Serve hot.

*http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/hot-spiced-cranberry-cider/detail.aspx

Apple Cider

Ingredients

  • 8 -10 apples (5 Gala, 5 Granny Smith)
  • 1/2-1 cup (1/2 white, 1/2 brown)
  • 4 tablespoons cinnamon (or 4 cinnamon sticks)
  • 4 tablespoons allspice

Directions

  1. Quarter your apples (no need to remove peel or seeds).
  2. In a large stock pot add your apples and fill with water–just enough to cover the apples.
  3. Add your sugar.
  4. Wrap your cinnamon and allspice in a doubled up cheese cloth and tie, and add this to the apples and water.
  5. Boil on high for one hour (uncovered) checking on it frequently.
  6. Turn down heat and let simmer for two hours (covered).
  7. Take off the heat after two hours of simmering and let cool.
  8. Remove spices and mash up the apples to a pulp like consistency (a potato masher works well for this).
  9. Once cool pour into a strainer over a large bowl. When most of the juice has drained away, put the remainder of the pulp into a doubled up cheese cloth and squeeze over the bowl until no more juice comes out.
  10. You can store in an air tight container in your refrigerator for up to a week or you can freeze it for later use if you like.
  11. Reheat in the microwave or on the stove and enjoy either plain or you can add caramel syrup or caramels, whipped topping with cinnamon.
  12. also you could make this a diabetic recipe by omitting the sugar and adding diabetic sweeteners to taste in place of the sugar or none at all.
*http://www.food.com/recipe/moms-homemade-apple-cider-non-alchoholic-253224

Picabu Neighborhood Bistro

After seeing this restaurant featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, I knew I had to come to Picabu Neighborhood Bistro. 

Walking in, it felt like a nice friendly non-intimidating atmosphere. I noticed the signed print of Guy Fieri which I noticed RIGHT AWAY and had to take a picture.  We, as in my friend Jesse, sat at the bar so we could get a full on view of what was going down in the kitchen. There were two cooks working furiously to get the orders out in a rather small environment. However, the restaurant itself is pretty small maybe with 15 tables and a short bar, so the kitchen size seemed adequate. The server was nice & friendly but seemed a little too much in our business as seemed to be the case with the majority of the employees there. There was a bus boy (?) that just stood there right by Jesse almost the entire time we were eating and watched the tv which was right above us.


Ok so on to the food. They say that “The menu features an eclectic mix of Thai-American-Mexican-Cajun inspired favorites and a concise, quality selection of beer & wine.” We started with the Mexican-seasoned fried calamari rings and tentacles, served with tangy cilantro-lime sauce. Not bad, not great. To me, there was nothing Mexican about it. Not really spicy, just your average Calamari fried in a yummy batter. I prefer a regular creamy aoli with my Calamari, but I was open to trying something different. I have to say, there was a little too much tang in that sauce (for me at least). The Calamari was tender and not rubbery. Key to good Calamari. NEXT.

I had a hard time deciding on an entree. Nothing stood out to me as being that original or something mouth watering that I knew I had to try. I ended up ordering the Fire Pasta ($12.50) which featured sliced chicken breast sauteed with fettuccine in an “oddly-addictive spicy garlic cream sauce” topped with fresh Parmesan and smoky bacon. I saw the cook take a large ladle and slap this paste looking substance into the pan and flames went everywhere. My dish ended up to me luke warm. I could have said something, but I never like to send anything back. YOU JUST NEVER KNOW, ya know? The sauce was definitely creamy and thick. Not too spicy but just enough heat that creeps in after a few seconds of taking a bite. There was supposed to be garlic in there, but I didn’t taste any. They really should have called it Buffalo Wing Pasta because that’s exactly what it tasted like. The chicken was the saving grace, moist and succulent. The fresh Parm micro planed on top was like a beautiful soft cloud slowly melting into the noodles. If they would have given me a big pile of that with some crackers, ah heaven. The bacon was a good addition, not too crisp, not too soft. It added that nice smokeiness and crunch it needed to balance out the softness of the noodles. It was ok, not something that I would consider addictive. (side note – I reheated this the next day, and talk about icky oil. There a huge orange puddle sitting at the bottom of my bowl.) My friend thought the dish tasted like ketchup and mustard mixed together…he’s a bit harsher than me when it comes to food…

My friend got the Curry Bowl that featured mixed vegetables and your choice of chicken or Small Planet tofu in a spicy red curry-peanut sauce over jasmine rice, garnished with cilantro. ($11.50). He stated it was bland. There should have been more vegetables with it. Maybe sear the tofu, sear the veggies for caramelization. But there was none of that. Just bare tofu placed in a thick bland curry with some steamed veggies. Ouch.

For a place that was recommended on the FOOD Network, I was very disappointed. Maybe it was what we ordered, and maybe the help was bored that night…Who knows, but I do know that it is a popular place here in Spokane, and people do love it. The employees were nice & friendly, even though a little nosy. The prices were in line for the portions. I just don’t think the flavors were there. I always give a place a second chance, so I will be back to try it again. And of course will report back on my findings. As always…

Happy Eating,

♥ G

Garlic Shrimp & Swiss Chard With Polenta

You may not like Polenta. I totally get it. I’m not much into the texture of cornmeal myself, but let me tell you, when paired with the luscious smoothness and slight crunch of the other ingredients, you will love it.

The original recipe called for Instant Polenta. Instead, I found organic solid Polenta with garlic and roasted tomatoes already in it. I cut these into circles baking the grated parm on top so that it melted. This was a great way to avoid the extra calories by avoiding the milk as well as all the butter in the recipe and you use WAY less parm while still getting a little bit of that cheesy goodness squeezed in. Yum-ay.

Swiss chard comes in a two different varieties that I have seen. One with red stems as you see here and rainbow which is an assortment of multi-colored stems. Both equally as beautiful and delicious! We use the stems here as they get soft during cooking and add a nice heartiness to the dish.

 


The combination of the sweet red onions, the soft tender swiss chard, and the tomatoes….mmmm…doesn’t get much better than this.

 

 

Wait…yes it does…..

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cup(s) water
  • 1 teaspoon(s) kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoon(s) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound(s) extra-large shrimp, peeled, deveined, with shell tails intact
  • 1 medium red onion, halved, cut into thin strips
  • 2 teaspoon(s) minced garlic
  • 1 pound(s) rainbow-colored/red Swiss chard, stems cut into 2-inch strips, leaves torn into large pieces and rinsed
  • 1 can(s) (14 1/2-oz) fire-roasted tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 tube polenta
  • 1 tablespoon(s) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup(s) grated Parmesan cheese
  • Freshly ground pepper

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat 2 Tbsp of the oil in a large, deep nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; add shrimp and red onion. Sauté 2 minutes; add garlic and continue to sauté 1 minute, just until shrimp turn opaque and onion is almost translucent. Remove mixture to a plate.
  2. Add remaining 1 Tbsp oil to skillet and sauté chard stems over medium heat 2 minutes. Top with wet chard leaves; cover skillet with lid and cook 1 minute until leaves are wilted. Uncover; continue to sauté 2 minutes. Add tomatoes with their juice and simmer 4 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, cut your polenta into thick or thin (depending on your preference) and place in saute pan with butter. Brown polenta adding a sprinkle of parm on top at the very end. Let melt.
  4. Raise heat on chard mixture and add shrimp mixture. Cook 2 to 3 minutes longer, until shrimp are cooked through. Serve shrimp mixture on polenta; season with pepper to taste.

Help!

I jumped into this blog thinking that the pictures were going to be easy, the writing would just flow from keyboard to screen. Was I WRONG! I always thought that if I had an expensive camera, all would be right in the world. That I could just snap a picture and wham bam thank you ***. Beautiful picture.

I am feeling very disheartened with my photos and skills. I am a total novice photographer and am still trying to wrap my head around all this techno lingo like aperture, shutter speed, focal length. The list goes on and on. I even went so far as to purchase Plate to Pixel (not to mention looked at countless blogs, Youtube videos on set ups) in hopes that it would shed light into my brain, but I am even more confused than before. The point to this post is to ask you guys what you use. What are your tips and tricks? I have shot several times during the day, but I never get the right color in my photos especially according to Foodgawker. Do you have any special tricks with photoshop, or are your photos really that great with just natural lighting. Please HELP!

(Currently using Nikon D3100 w/AF-S Nikkor 18-55MM 1:3.5-5.6G)

♥ G

Review: Panda All Natural Licorice

These babies are from Finland. Who knew Finland had gourmet licorice….with a panda on the box! How awesome is that. My favorite animal was a panda bear when I was little – for no reason in particular mind you. I just liked them. So when I saw these in my grocer, I knew I had to pick them up…but only if they met the kitchen test. We came pretty close….Here’s the breakdown:

  • molasses (processed)
  • wheat flour
  • raspberry puree
  • citric acid (natural preservative most notably found in fruits like lemons, limes…)
  • natural raspberry flavor (suspicious)
  • black carrot juice (more like light maroon)
  • licorice extract

Panda real licorice features all natural ingredients, no added colors, salt, artificial flavors, or preservatives. Panda real licorice is fat free, Kosher certified, and suitable for vegan and vegetarian consumption. However, they are not gluten free – contains wheat flour.

And I know you are wondering – do they have other flavors other than raspberry? Why yes, yes they do! The flavors range from raspberry, cherry, regular black, and blueberry coming soon. Panda also makes other candies, but that may have to hold for another post. You can find this product in your organic/health section of most of your grocer’s ($3.50+).


Let’s see these are, um…what’s the word…NATURAL looking. No waxy, shiny coating here. There’s nothing but beautiful dark goodness inside these little nibbies. I must admit at first, I didn’t think they were that appetizing. I was expecting that same sugary, sweetness that often accompanies licorice. But the sugary sweetness is replaced by something a little more fresh. Like raspberry puree and carrot juice. I know, CARROT JUICE! This isn’t your regular orange carrot juice. They use juice from black carrots (black carrots appear more light maroon in color. This undoubtedly assisted these nibbies in creating their gorgeous deep color). In licorice….hrm. I wasn’t too sure about this combo either, but I thought what the heck. The sacrifices you make for the unprocessed journey right? I have been eating a few here and there everyday, and I am starting to like them more and more. Their flavor is sweet, slightly tart from the citric acid, and fresh because of raspberry puree. You do hint a small addition of the carrot juice but nothing overwhelming. This element is what really makes this item unique.

What is your favorite worldly, UNPROCESSED treat?

***G’s rating: B

*Disclaimer: I’m not popular enough for sponsored posts…just yet. You know what that means?! Me = $$$