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!

 

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.

 

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.

 

Look at My Dinner March 24, 2009

Filed under: Cooking Adventures — queenbeeeatsforaday @ 2:52 am
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look-at-my-dinner

yumm?!

This image was emailed to me last week by my sister, Jennifer.  She made her own dinner, garnished it, and took a picture.  The email had the simple subject, “look at my dinner.”

I think that our blog has inspired her, which is what it’s all about – being adventurous, trying new things, and having fun with food.

Granted, this is a jar of spaghetti sauce (Vodka sauce), but the fact that she thought about(and followed through) making a meal instead of eating at Chipotle for the tenth time this week makes me think that there’s hope for her yet!

Way to go, Jen!

XOXO
QB

 

Let them eat (gluten-free) cake March 23, 2009

Filed under: Cakes,Cooking Adventures,Recipes & How-Tos — haleyhoneybee @ 5:43 pm
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As a wedding present for a childhood friend of my hubby, we are making them some cakes to serve at their wedding. We could call them wedding cakes. And this has become a cake baking adventure for many weeks.

Strategy:img_6676

  • The betrothed have very adventurous taste buds and are non-traditional in a fabulous way.
  • Instead of just one cake, we decided to make cakes of various sizes, each with a unique cake stand/plate (most of which are vintage).
  • The Bride has gluten intolerance so care must be taken. For the wedding day only one of the cakes will be GF but for the cake tasting I baked them all GF so she could partake. (This would be a good time to mention that my Mama is allergic to all things wheat, and buckwheat, and totally Celiac…so I have a bit of practice)

The cakes that made the cut for the tasting (recipe links in progress):

  • Black pearl layer cake with ginger vanilla fresh cream frosting
  • Cranberry snow cake with white chocolate Swiss butter cream frosting
  • Lemon Curd layer cake with lemon Swiss butter cream frosting
  • Passion fruit layer cake with passion fruit Swiss butter cream frosting
  • Honey spice cake with cardamom cream frosting
  • Honey spice cake with a thick sugar glaze (made the cake twice because I wanted to try it with garbanzo flour)
  • Molten chocolate mini-cupcakes

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*Note on the alternative flours used: The first five cakes were all made with a white rice flour blend, for one of the honey cakes I used a garbanzo flour blend, and the cupcakes only call for cornstarch.

There was also a red velvet cake with a cream cheese frosting, but that one was nixed during a previous trial – after much research on classic recipes, in the end it didn’t have enough oomph.

 

The Perfect St. Patrick’s Day Meal March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone!  Hope you’re wearing lots of GREEN!

the-table


Two weeks ago, my sweetie and I were in Gainesville partly for business and partly for pleasure.  I had scheduled a work trip to coincide with the same week of the Morrissey concert in Jacksonville for which we had tickets.  (The show was cancelled.)

corned-beef

 

As serendipity would have it, the other bee, Melissa, was also in town for work and my sister, Jennifer, was free, so what better way to celebrate our meshing schedules than to invite ourselves over to Donald and Erica’s for an early St. Patrick’s Day meal – Corned Beef, Cabbage, and Potatoes.

cabbage

 

We paired dinner with some Trader Joe’s Shiraz (surprisingly good) and a couple of beers.

 

potatoes

 

Melissa provided a quick, simple, and lovely conclusion to the meal in a dessert of fresh strawberries and cannoli accompanied by some really terrific Sweetwater (locally roasted & organic) decaf coffee Donald brewed.

 

dessert

It was a fun night filled with lots of food and friends.  I think we all had a really great time and can’t wait to do it again!

Here’s the Recipe –

New England Boiled Dinner

Ingredients –

4-5 pound corned beef brisket
1 head green cabbage, cut into wedges

8 red skin potatoes, halved
2-3 tbsp dried pickling spices

Directions –

  1. Place the corned beef in a large pot and fill with cold water.  Add the pickling spices to the pot – sometimes the corned beef will come with a packet of spices but it’s usually not very much.  Let the beef simmer for 3 hours.
  2. Next, add the potatoes to the same pot and let simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Add the cabbage and let simmer until the cabbage and the potatoes are fork tender.
  4. Finally remove the vegetables and the corned beef from the pot.  Thinly slice the corned beef perpendicular to the grain of the meat. Serve with a variety of mustards or horseradish sauces.

Everything was really delicious and cooked to perfection!  After seeing how it was done, it seems like a super easy way to make a lot of food for a hungry crowd!  Thanks again, Erica and Donald!

XOXO
QB

 

Valentine’s Day Sides – Braised Swiss Chard February 23, 2009

swiss-chard

This is one of the side dishes served up with our Valentine’s Day dinner.

It is my own version of a Dave Lieberman (of Good Deal fame on the Food Network) recipe in which he used a couple of different types of greens and ingredients.  Needless to say, this was the least popular part of the fabulous meal, but it definitely has potential and I will be playing around with it quite a bit.

If you’re feeling brave, give it a go and let us know how it turned out.

Braised Swiss Chard – The Recipe

What You’ll Need:

· 1 tbsp olive oil

· ¼ pound bacon slices, roughly chopped

· 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

· ½ cup chicken stock

· Just under 2 ounces cider vinegar

· 1 tsp sugar

· 1 bunch red Swiss chard, ribs removed

· Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

What to Do:

Heat the bacon and oil in a large pot over high heat until the bacon is well browned. Stir in the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. Deglaze the mixture with the chicken stock and vinegar.

Stir in the sugar and add the Swiss chard. Toss to coat the partially cover the pot. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for about 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Tips and Tricks

Do not burn the garlic otherwise you will need to start over. The garlic should become tender, not brown. (Singed garlic will ruin the flavor of the oil and bacon.)

When deglazing, be sure to use your wooden spoon to incorporate all the drippings stuck to the bottom of the pot.

Make sure the Swiss chard is dry before adding it to the pot. If it is wet, you may splatter oil and get burned.

You may want to roughly chop the Swiss chard before cooking though this is optional.

The Outcome

The final outcome of this dish was much different than what I had expected. My sweetie didn’t love this dish (though he doesn’t really love Swiss chard but eats it now that I have learned of its really healthful benefits) but I saw the potential in it. I will definitely have to play around with it again, as it was a variation of another recipe I had found (which included collard greens and mustard greens as well).

Also, you may want to use the ingredient measurements as suggestions rather than a strict guide, as the liquid is just to add a touch of flavor and to cook the greens down. You may like the overall dish less sweet (therefore use less cider vinegar and sugar) or just the way it is.

Good luck!