Monday, August 25, 2014

Barley and Zucchini Mason Jar Salad Recipe and a Review for Mason Jar Salads by Julia Mirabella


I just love mason jar salads! The presentation is beautiful, and they make wonderful weekday work lunches. All the prep can be done a day or two ahead of time, making it super simple! I recently came across the cookbook Mason Jar Salads by Julia Mirabella and I found some really great mason jar ideas! There's not only salads, but smoothies, breakfasts, and other types of lunch recipes. There is also a list of recipes for homemade dressings that accompany the salads. This cookbook is handy and super useful!

I had some zucchini to use up, so when I stumbled across the Barley and Zucchini Salad, I knew it was the one to make! I'm also a huge barley lover and thought they would taste great together. I went and picked some tomatoes and a green pepper out of the garden and got started!

This recipe was phenomenal! It's full of great flavor combos. The toasty flavor from the barley was perfect, along with the favor from the zucchini being lightly fried. When it's all cooled and mixed together, it makes such a wonderful salad. I cannot wait to try more since I loved this one so much!

Barley and Zucchini Salad (click here to print recipe)
1 pint jar sized serving

What you need:
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/4 cup quick cooking barley
1/2 cup water
1/2 medium to large zucchini, halved and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon red wine vinaigrette
1/2 cup halved grape tomatoes
1/2 cup bell pepper, chopped
salt and pepper
pint sized mason jar

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small skillet over medium high heat. Saute the barley in the olive oil, until browned and toasted. Remove from heat and set aside.

Pour the 1/2 cup water into a small saucepan, with a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Pour in the quick cooking barley, cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes until liquid is absorbed and barley is cooked through. Remove from heat, set aside to cool.

In a small skillet, heat the remaining olive oil over medium high heat. Add the sliced zucchini and fry on each side until golden brown. Remove to a paper towel lined place, sprinkle with salt and pepper and cool.

Pour the vinaigrette into the bottom of the mason jar. Add tomatoes, barley, zucchini then bell pepper on top. Seal and refrigerate until serving. 

Mason Jar Salads by Julia Mirabella
Released May 2014, Ulysses Press
144 pages

I received this cookbook for review. This does not affect my opinion in any way.

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On the blog... one year ago: Rigatoni Alfredo Bake with Chicken and Summer Veggies

Two years ago: Apple Blueberry Quick Bread

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Slow Cooker Smoked Turkey and Red Beans with Rice Recipe

Happy Saturday! I've been super busy in the kitchen today! My neighbor stopped by with 4 squash from his garden and he also let my daughter and I pick all of his green beans! We ended up with a big bowl full, so I decided to try pickling some green beans. If the recipe turns out, I will be posting it very soon! I also made a yummy apple cake that you will be seeing next week!

We all love slow cooker recipes, so today I'm sharing my recipe for Slow Cooker Smoked Turkey Red Beans and Rice! They have tons of flavor and are really good leftover for lunch the next day at work. I love the smokey flavor from the turkey and the beans taste amazing. I'm such a fan of the slow cooker in the summertime. No heating up the house using the stove! I hope you enjoy this recipe!


Slow Cooker Smoked Turkey Red Beans and Rice (click here to print recipe)

What you need:
1 pound dried red kidney beans
1- 1 pound smoked turkey wing
1 medium onion, diced
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 cup bell pepper (yellow or red) or mini sweet peppers
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons creole seasoning
salt and pepper, if needed
6 cups water
cooked white rice

Rinse and sort through the dried beans.

Put all ingredients in the slow cooker and pour the water over the top. I used about 6 cups water total. You may need to adjust accordingly. 

Cook on low for 6-8 hours until the beans are tender. Within the last hour, take out the turkey wing, and shred the meat from the bone and stir back in with the beans. 

Serve over cooked white rice.

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Restaurant Review: Rock Creek Coffeehouse in Sauk Rapids, MN

It's always exciting when a new restaurant opens in Sauk Rapids! There aren't a whole lot of options, so it's definitely much needed. Rock Creek Coffeehouse has been open for a few months now and I was so happy to try it!

We didn't get any coffee this visit, but we did try their great paninis! 

I tried out "The Montana" which has ham, turkey, lettuce, tomato, cheese and chipotle mayo with a side of chicken wild rice soup. The Panini was flavorful and crispy, just how it should be! The soup was lacking in wild rice the day we visited, but had good flavor!

My friend had "The Rock Creek Reuben" with chips. She also thought her panini was delicious. She loved the chocolate covered potato chip that came with on the side! Such a fun and tasty touch!

I would definitely come back and have the paninis again, and would also like to try some of the other menu items! You can find their menu on the Rock Creek Coffehouse website here!

Rock Creek Coffeehouse
214 2nd Ave N
Sauk Rapids, MN

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Mom's Homemade Sloppy Joes Recipe

Wednesday's almost over? Whew! This is another week that's flown by! 

Miss E is enjoying her 2nd week of 2nd grade! I think her most favorite thing about this year so far is Spanish class! I love that they start teaching them early! She's currently reading the first Diary of a Wimpy kid book and I love hearing her giggles as she goes through the pages. This is such a fun age! 

Today's recipe is another perfect one for busy school nights! I grew up eating these sloppy joes! They have a great homemade BBQ type sauce and every time I make them, it's a great reminder of the delicious, home cooked food my Mom always made for us! Another favorite from my childhood is short spaghetti. You'll want to check that out too! Enjoy!


Mom's Homemade Sloppy Joe's (click here to print recipe)

What you need:
3/4 pound ground beef
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup ketchup
1 1/2 tablespoon yellow mustard
2 1/2 tablespoons light brown sugar
salt and pepper
hamburger buns

In a skillet, cook ground beef, onions and garlic until ground beef is no longer pink. Season with salt and pepper, as needed. Add ketchup, mustard and brown sugar and stir to combine. Simmer for 5-10 minutes on low. Remove from heat, scoop meat into buns and serve!

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Baskin Robbins Inspired Daiquiri Ice Recipe

Oh my heavens.... do I have a yummy recipe to share with you!!!  Sheena's sister Shannon here again with a recipe for my absolute favorite frozen treat ever!!  So first, a fun story... I get an email from Sheena a few months ago and the subject line said something like this.... "Didn't you...." and the rest of the email said "love Baskin Robbins Daiquiri Ice?" and then she linked me to a blog that had this copy cat recipe! I am surprised I didn't faint at that very moment... because you see, most Baskin Robbins ice cream stores have closed and/or there aren't any near me so I only dream of this tasty goodness.  Pinch me!!  I finally bought an amazing ice cream maker... you know, one of those cool ones that you don't have to use ice and salt or snow.  And last week, my daughter and I made this.  I have to admit, I was skeptical.  Because how can this amazing flavor be mimicked?  Well, I am here to tell you... it happened and I am so very happy.  My life is complete. :)

A couple observations.... I did find that this recipe made a rather large portion and my 2 quart ice cream maker didn't hold the whole recipe so we made two batches. Or you could half it.  I probably would only add 2 drops of green food color for the whole batch because I feel like it's a little too bright compared to the real deal. And my third thought, depending on the tartness of the limes, you may have to add more citric acid (this is what gives it the tangy taste).  Or if you like sour stuff, add a little extra and you'll be happy!

Baskin Robbins Inspired Daiquiri Ice (click here to print recipe)

What you need:
  • 6 cups of water
  • 3 cups sugar
  • Juice from 3 limes, fresh squeezed
  • 3 teaspoons rum extract
  • 2-5 teaspoons citric acid powder
  • 2-3 drops green food coloring
  1. In a saucepan, heat the sugar and water just until the sugar melts.
  2. Remove from heat and add 1 1/2 teaspoons of citric acid.  Stir until dissolved.
  3. Let this mixture cool for 5-10 minutes and add the rum extract, lime juice and food coloring.
  4. Taste the mixture.  If it requires more tartness, add more citric acid until you are happy with the flavor.
  5. Refrigerate the mixture until completely chilled.
  6. Poor mixture into ice cream maker and run the machine for 45-60 minutes.  If the mixture still isn't firm enough, put into desired container and freeze until completely frozen.
  7. Enjoy!
And as always, I'd love it if you check out my blog which focuses mostly on photography of rural Minnesota - In Blurred Focus

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