Queen Bee Eats for a Day

Cherry Cherry July 28, 2010

Filed under: Cooking Adventures,Recipes & How-Tos — queenbeeeatsforaday @ 10:40 pm
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Apparently I was thinking of the 1966 Neil Diamond song when I was came up with a title for this post.  My intentions were to avoid something like “How to Freeze Cherries” which can be so bland and boring, right?

So, the weekend of July 4th this year brought several new adventures for me – I learned to make simple syrup and I learned how to freeze fresh cherries.  Freezing cherries was completely an accidental discovery.  Here’s the backstory.

The summer is a great time for fresh fruits and vegetables; we all know that!  The cherries we had been getting were particularly good and as such we bought a few more packages.  My mistake was that I assumed each was going to be as sweet as the last.  Well, that last package just wasn’t sweet enough to eat, but definitely good to cook with.  What to do?  A little quick research told me I could freeze them for later use – fabulous idea!  I could then figure out what to do with them later.

So, I thought I’d share what I learned – it’s not everyday you learn to freeze cherries, right?

You will definitely need a cherry pitter – one of the greatest inventions of all time!  You can pit most olives, cherries, and just about anything else that fits inside!  Caution: Keep your fingers OUT of the way – we learned the hard way.

How to Freeze Cherries:

1 – Wash the cherries carefully, removing any debris.  Remove the stems while you wash them.  Rubbing them gently with your fingers will usually suffice.

2 – Remove the pits.  You can freeze cherries with the pits, but they often take on a nutty, almond-like flavor, so you may want to avoid that.

3 – Lay the washed, pitted cherries in a single layer on a baking sheet and place in the freezer until frozen.  This will prevent them from clumping together and will retain their shape.  They will remain round and colorful.  After they are frozen, place them in a freezer bag, removing all the air.  They will last about a year.

Tips & Tricks for Storing and Freezing Cherries:

  • Allow the cherries to dry thoroughly before you freeze them.  This will reduce the likelihood of them all sticking together when you freeze them.
  • When shopping for cherries you should look for cherries that are bright, shiny, and plump.  The darker the cherry, the sweeter the taste.
  • Cherries with their stems have a longer shelf life.
  • When pitting cherries you may want to don an apron – the juice stains everything!
  • If you aren’t freezing your cherries, store them unwashed in plastic bags in the fridge.  Before eating, let them come to room temperature for the best flavor.
  • Some cooks like to freeze cherries in a syrup (40% – 4 parts water to 3 cups sugar) and ascorbic acid or citrus juice.  I skipped this because I am not sure what I will use the cherries for.
  • Sour cherries are best for freezing for pie filling.  You stir in sugar (measurements depend on how many cherries, etc.) and pack in rigid airtight containers for this purpose.

Our cherries are sweetly nestled in the freezer, waiting for me to decide what to do with them.

Does anyone have any ideas?  Make a compote?  A pie, perhaps?  Some cherry sauce for sundaes?  Would love some suggestions!

 

Seafood and Sunflowers July 22, 2010

We spent a wonderful weekend in New England… full of seafood and sunflowers.

The journey began with oysters for breakfast actually. Well sort of, we had an early lunch at Matunuck Oyster Bar in Rhode Island as a pit-stop as we drove from Massachusetts to Connecticut after taking the red-eye in from Cali. But oh the oysters were so good – and fresh!! Some were even plucked right out of the waters behind the restaurant.  We definitely recommend eating outside, but it is worth peeking your head in to check out the bountiful oyster selection on ice.

After settling in, next up was for dinner at Abbott’s lobster in the rough in Noank, CT. Is a seasonal BYOB diamond in the rough sort of joint. Steamed lobsters, mussels & clams, huge steamers, clam chowder. You get your elbows dirty and have a perfect picnic table feast. Note – you will definitely need to map to find this place, it is sort off of the beaten path, but worth the scenic drive.

Just recently we were reading an article about breakfast spots state by state, and heard about a tiny place in Mystic, CT. Since we were to be in the area we thought we’d check it out. Kitchen Little is the name, and that pretty well describes the restaurant as well. Its a tiny little peanut of a place, but that’s all it needed to be. The view of the seaport from the outside patio was kinda perfect for an early morn. Hubby ordered their claim to fame dish – the Portuguese fisherman (spicy hot chourico and linguica from Fall River, scrambled together with eggs, peppers, onions, and jalapeño cheese in a lightly spiced sauce served with a Portuguese English muffin). I had scrambled eggs with cream cheese and crab. We definitely recommend asking if they have any specials. And if in season get an order of blueberries and creme.

Oh yeah, for a bit on silly tourist fun, we went to Mystic Pizza!

And finally, to complete our weekend in New England, we embarked on a hay ride. I’ll admit, that part of the afternoon nerved me, but the rest of the day was beautiful. Buttonwood Farm participated in a sunflower festival fundraiser for the Make a Wish foundation. The hay ride took us through 4 of the 14 acres of sunflowers, sold sunflower bouquets, and their farm fresh ice cream. And so, to wind down our weekend, we delighted in caramel ice cream with sunflower seeds.


 

Thanks for the Versatile Blogger Award July 18, 2010

Filed under: Food Adventures — queenbeeeatsforaday @ 3:39 pm
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Versatile Blogger Award, Anyone?

Yesterday afternoon, we made a very fantastic discovery!  We found out that our friends over at Just Food Snobs had chosen us for the Versatile Blogger Award!  Yippee!

This was a most welcome surprise for a lazy Saturday afternoon.  It was so super exciting, in fact, that I called Husband up during a business meeting just to tell him!

We are extremely honored to have received this award, especially since it is given out by peers.  So, we humbly, and happily, thank Just Food Snobs for thinking of us!  Thank you!

The Guidelines for accepting this award are:

– Thank the person who gave it to you.
– Tell 7 things about yourself.
– Pass the award on to 15 bloggers whom you have recently discovered, and think are fantastic!

7 Things about Queen Bee:

1 – The bees are Melissa and Melissa.

2 – We met in college and have been a part of each others lives for all the major events – our weddings, big moves to new cities, babies, etc.

3 – Queen Bee’s awesome husband takes most of our pictures. Thank you, my sweet!

4 – Thanksgiving is our traditional Bee holiday – we get together and make a fabulous meal.

5 – We’re honorary members of the haters club.  Our husbands are the founders.  Long story.

6 – Both bees are the oldest children in their families.

7 – We both love a really delicious Bloody Mary.

15 Fantastico Blogs That We Recently Discovered, In No Particular Order:

1 – Just Food Snobs – http://justfoodsnobs.blogspot.com/

2 – Simply Maren – http://www.simplymaren.com/

3 – lollcakes – http://lollcakes.wordpress.com/

4 – Mother Rimmy’s Cooking Light Done Right – http://motherrimmy.com/wordpress/

5 – Vintage Sugercube – http://www.vintagesugarcube.com/

6 – Island Vittles – http://islandvittles.com/

7 – The Manly Housewife – http://www.themanlyhousewife.com/blog/

8 – Bakerwanabe – http://bakerwanabe.com/

9 – Cookin’ Canuck – http://cookincanuck.blogspot.com/

10 – Pittsburgh Hot Plate – http://www.pittsburghhotplate.com/

11 – The Merry Gourmet – http://www.merrygourmet.com/

12 – The Dirty Oven – http://thedirtyoven.blogspot.com/

13 – All Day I Dream About Food – http://dreamaboutfood.blogspot.com/

14 – The Diary of A displaced HouseWife – http://thediaryofadisplacedhousewife.blogspot.com/

15 – More Than A Mount Full – A Culinary Journey – http://www.morethanamountfull.blogspot.com/

Thanks again, Just Food Snobs, for including us in this award!

 

Simple Summer Stir-Fry July 17, 2010

Filed under: Cooking Adventures,Recipes & How-Tos — queenbeeeatsforaday @ 9:22 am
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The summer is a great time to eat fresh fruits and vegetables.  Not only does the grocery store have more of a selection fresh produce that actually looks appetizing (at least in New York) but the farmers markets are out of this world.

Because this is such a great time for produce, it’s also a great time for making a really good stir-fry, which I am all about.  It’s healthy, it’s quick, and it’s something Husband will eat!  In fact, I’ve heard that a stir-fry is a great way to get the kids to eat their vegetables as well!

So, a couple of weeks ago I found a recipe for a simple stir-fry and jazzed it up a bit.  And  even if you’ve never made a stir-fry in your life, this is so easy to do (and easy on the wallet as well.)

The Ingredients:

  • Fresh ginger, minced – 1 tablespoon
  • Fresh lemon juice – 1 teaspoon
  • Vegetable oil (though you could use Peanut) – 3 tablespoons
  • Asian sesame oil – 1 teaspoon
  • Salt – ½ teaspoon
  • Fresh ground pepper – ¼ teaspoon
  • 3 Cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2-3 heads of baby bok choy, stalks cut into ½-inch pieces and leaves shredded, separate
  • ½ pound of snow peas
  • 5-10 radishes, depending on size
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 medium yellow squash
  • ½ pound of spinach (without the stems and washed well – baby spinach is great, too)
  • ½ pound of tofu (firm), chicken, shrimp, or beef (depending on your preference)
  • Soy sauce – 4 teaspoons

The Process:

  1. Combine the ginger, fresh lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of the cooking oil, sesame oil, ¼ a teaspoon of salt, and the pepper.  Whisk well and set aside to allow the flavors to mingle.
  2. In a wok, heat the rest of the cooking oil over medium-high heat.  When the oil is hot, add the garlic and stir until it’s fragrant, about 10-15 seconds.  Don’t let it burn!
  3. Next, add the bok choy stalks and cook for about 1-2 minutes, just until it starts to soften.  Throw in the snow peas and cook for another minute or two.
  4. Add the radishes, zucchini, squash, and soy sauce cooking and stirring for another minute.
  5. Now, add the bok choy leaves and spinach plus the remainder of the salt.  Cook and toss until the leaves begin to wilt; this should take about 2 minutes.  Add a tablespoon of the stir-fry sauce you made earlier – just enough to coat the contents of the wok.  Then, remove the vegetables from the wok.
  6. Add the rest of the stir-fry sauce to the hot wok and heat it over medium-high heat.  Add the tofu, chicken, shrimp, or beef.  If you’re using tofu, cook until it’s just warmed through, for about two minutes.  With chicken and shrimp, make sure the meat is cooked through.  Cook the beef to your preferred temperature.
  7. Put the vegetables back into the wok and toss everything together.

We served this dish over plain white rice, at Husband’s request.  But for a fun twist we thought you could try some Asian noodles.  I love picking at stir-fry as-is, so I often leave out the rice.

 

baby girl’s ice lolly July 12, 2010

Filed under: Food Adventures,Ice Cream — haleyhoneybee @ 12:12 am
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Frozen fruit or ice cream pops have been all the rage this summer, and for good reason. There is something so quintessentially summer about licking that frozen bar of goodness… and best of all, its on a stick. Frozen ice pops, better known as popsicles are enjoyed around the world. Actually, Popsicle is a brand name for this type of frozen ice dessert, and the most popular type of such. I think I am a fan of the UK pseudonym… ice lolly – like an ice cream lollipop. That is what it is in deed.

While visiting home (Florida) this summer we stopped into a new little gourmet popsicle shop in St. Augustine. They offered a variety of popsicles in delicious fruit flavors. I couldn’t think of a better moment for a popsicle, either. Hot summer day; sticky with humidity. There was a nice selection, so we chose banilla vanana (banana vanilla), strawberries n’ creme, and key lime. The were all yummy – the key lime tasted just like a slice of key lime pie. (Which by the way you can also get frozen and on a stick in Key West, but that is another story for another day).

We all enjoyed, but by far the youngest member of our party was most delighted. First a hesitant lick… then chomp!

We decided to take the memory home with us. Here’s how we made our baby girl’s simple banana popsicles: 1 cup whole milk vanilla yogurt and three ripe bananas. Combine and blend. Pour/scoop into molds and freeze overnight. Best enjoyed outside in the sun.

 

Independently Simple July 7, 2010

Filed under: Cooking Adventures,Drinks,Recipes & How-Tos — queenbeeeatsforaday @ 5:00 am
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Over the years I’ve seen plenty of recipes for homemade beverages and yummy cocktails that have called for simple syrup that’s I’ve simply avoided because I was afraid. Afraid of the simplicity of it, I suppose. Until now…until the 4th of July!

Independence Day 2010 included not only fireworks and simple syrup but plans with some Brooklyn-based friends who love good food, good times, and good drinks. They were doing the fantastic menu (corn salad, potatoes, tomato & mozzarella, coffee rubbed steak, and brownies for dessert) so we offered to bring the cocktails. Then I got to thinking, what’s the best outdoor, summery drink for the 4th of July?

Mojitos. Of course!

It was the perfect solution. They’re cool, refreshing, fruity, and sweet. They go down easy. And some recipes require simple syrup so I bit the bullet, pulled out my saucepans, sugar, and water.

I’m going to tell you a secret. They don’t call it “simple syrup” for nothing.

Here’s what you need – 1 part sugar, 1 part water, a stove, and a pot. That’s it!

Here’s what you do – Put the water and sugar into the saucepan and bring it to a boil. You can stir it once or twice, but just keep an eye on it until the sugar is completely dissolved.  Then, remove it from the heat, let it cool, and refrigerate for later use.

Here’s a hint or two – You know you’re on the right track as the liquid in the saucepan thickens and drips off your spoon or whisk in a stream. If it acts like syrup you’ve done good! For sweeter syrup, you can do 1 part water, 2 parts sugar. Oh, and simple syrup usually stays good for about a month in the fridge.

You can flavor the syrup with a couple of pieces of peeled ginger, lemon zest, or just about anything else to give it an extra kick.

That’s it. Super simple. Simple syrup.

Keep your eyes out for the upcoming post, Mojito Madness, to get your drink on.

 

This ones’s for you, Cupcake July 2, 2010

Filed under: Cakes — haleyhoneybee @ 1:00 am
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Mama B. can’t eat wheat, actually she can’t eat any gluten. It happens… and as a creative cook (well really just of eggs, doctored Amy’s Pizza, chopped liver, and a mean GF banana bread) and restaurant go-er she has grown to find more and more options to satisfy her taste buds. But some things you just miss. Case in point: a cupcake at the beach.
I first realized that the most delicious location for a moist cupcake was seaside while visiting our besties some years ago in St. Augustine, Florida.

The other day my hubby and I went to our local Sprinkles cupcake shop and noticed something new and inclusive to all. They now carry the popular red velvet cupcake in both vegan and gluten free options. (now I must pause for a moment and add that I am really a fan of Sprinkles and I know many people have varying preferences… I have tried Magnolia in NYC, Crumbs in Beverly Hills, Suzie Cakes in Costa Mesa, Luli’s in St. Augustine just to name a few. And I am really a fan of Sprinkles, not too much frosting and a moist delicious cupcake. But that does not mean that I am not in favor of the others, I just really happen to enjoy a Sprinkles cupcake, hype and all.)

So we did a taste test comparison of both the GF and regular red velvet. And although the GF had a ever so slightly different aftertaste (of maybe…mmm…garbanzo bean flour), it was a nearly perfect match. And for someone that hasn’t had a red velvet cup cake in years, it would be a piece of heaven. And so… when Mama B. was visiting last, we swung by Sprinkles, grabbed a few cupcakes and head to Crystal Cove for a hike down the cliff to sit by the tide pools.

This one’s for you, Cupcake…the pictures surely show how much she enjoyed!