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…the food I make, the plants I grow, and the items I create.


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An Ode to Cranberries – Mother Nature’s Super Food

Homemade Cranberry Relish

Homemade Cranberry Relish

Raw homemade cranberry relish is one of my favorite side dishes. Every year for Thanksgiving, there are heaping bowls on every corner of the table. The cranberry’s natural acidity along with the orange juice will brighten up almost any meal.

Grate fresh orange zest for this recipe!

Fresh orange zest and juice

I love this recipe so much, I make it throughout the year since it is fantastic along side most poultry or pork dishes. The orange juice adds wonderful flavor while the sugar balances the natural tartness and thickens the juice, binding together the ingredients.

Tidbit: Stock up on cranberries while they are season and store them in your freezer.

Cranberries, one of mother nature’s super foods, are an excellent source of Vitamin C and E – boosting both the immune and the urinary system. They are also high in Vitamin K and fiber – protecting the body against free radicals and acting as an anti-inflammatory agent.

Use fresh or thawed cranberries.

Use fresh or thawed cranberries.

Fun Fact: Cranberries scientific name is Vaccinium macrocarpon sharing the same genus, Vaccinium, as blueberries – another one of mother nature’s super foods

Cranberry relish is perfect along side chicken and pork dishes.

Cranberry relish is perfect along side chicken and pork dishes.

 

Do you have a favorite cranberry recipe? Do you like to put them in muffins or pancakes? Dried cranberries make an excellent addition to trail mix or granola. Share below!

Cranberry Relish

Prep time: ~15 minutes Serving Size: 1.5 cups

ingredients

  • 1 bag of cranberries
  • 1 orange juiced and zested
  • ½ – 1 cup of sugar

 Easy to remember and easy to scale 1:1:1

 directions

  • Rinse the cranberries under cold water.
  • Place the cranberries in a blender or food processor along with the zest and juice of one orange.
  • Add about half of the sugar and pulse – be mindful not to over pulse.
  • Once it is at your desired consistency – taste and add sugar accordingly.
  • Store in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight to intensify the flavors.
  • Serve alongside your favorite poultry or pork dish!


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Dad’s Favorite Lemon Meringue Pie

My father and I love lemon meringue pie. There is just something about the tangy sweetness that get’s us every time. At the end of a heavy meal, this light refreshing dessert acts as a palate cleanser. Served along side a shot of espresso, I am revived and ready to concur the dishes! A few years ago, I began to bake this dessert for holiday parties. I enjoy offering this as a low calorie alternative at the dessert table.Did you know that a 1 oz slice of pie is about 80 calories! Do you offer a unique dessert at your holiday parties? Share below!!

ingredients 

Yield: 1 nine inch pie          Total Time: ~3 hrs, includes some cooling time
  •  1 graham cracker pie crust
Lemon Filling
  • 4 egg yolks – save the whites for the meringue
  • 3 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/4 cups of fine sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the Meringue
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 tbsp fine sugar

directions

Lemon Filling 
  • Preheat the oven to 350F.
  • In a saucepan, over medium heat, combine 1 cup of sugar, flour, cornstarch, and salt. Whisk together.
  • Add water, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla extract
  • Cook over medium-high heat until the mixture, also known as curd, comes to a boil. Stir constantly!
  • Stir in butter.
  • Add the egg yolks to a separate bowl and slowly whisk in the sugar mixture. Once you have added about half of the sugar mixture to the egg yolks, return the contents of the bowl to the sauce pan. Reduce heat to low
  • Cook the curd on low until it is nice and thick – depending on your stove top and preferences this can take up to 15 minutes. Make sure your stove top is set to low. If you need to, add a heat diffuser to reduce heat.
  • Once the mixture is thick enough, pour it into the pie shell.
  • Cover the entire filling with meringue – taking care to seal the edges. See below for meringue instructions.
  • Place in on a rack in the middle of the oven for 10-15 minutes or until pie is golden brown.
  • Allow the pie to cool for 2 hours, or until you can comfortably touch the underside of the pie pan.
For the Meringue
  • Using either a hand held mixer or a stand mixer, begin to beat your egg whites on low. Gradually increase the speed and beat on high for 2 minutes.
  • Add the cream of tartar and vanilla extract
  • Beat for another minute
  • Gradually add the sugar and beat for until you have stiff peaks. Check every few minutes – you do not want to over beat!
  • To test your peaks, turn your whisk upside down. The meringue should cling to the whisk and hold their peak without collapsing.


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Chocolate Lava Cake: My Go-To Dessert Recipe

plated cake

Chocolate Lava Cake

This past weekend, we had a few big celebrations in our house. As I felt the tingling urge to indulge in good cheer – I realized I had only a a few moments to whip something up.

I am not always the best at planning ahead.

So I defaulted, as usual, to my go-to dessert recipe – Chocolate Lava Cake.

This recipe calls for ingredients I generally keep on hand and is delicious.

Doll them up with fresh fruit, fruit compote, or home-made whipped cream. For an extra special treat, pair this dessert with a delicious local Port.

ingredients

Yield: 2-3 cakes      Time: ~35 min
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter, plus more for muffin tin
  • 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus more for muffin tin and serving
  • cocoa powder for dusting
  • 1 ounce semisweet baking chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 1 ounce bittersweet baking chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • Pinch salt
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • nonstick spray

directions

  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  • Spray your muffin tin with a nonstick spray, such as PAM.
  • Dust the muffin tin with confectioners’ sugar and cocoa powder.
  • Place the butter and chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high in 20-second increments. Use a whisk or fork to stir after each increment.
  • While the butter and chocolate is melting, whisk together the egg, egg yolk, sugar, espresso powder, and salt. Once the chocolate mixture is melted whisk it into the egg mixture to combine. Add flour, and whisk just until combined – take care to not overmix.
  • Pour batter into prepared muffin tins. Make sure you fill the empty muffin tins with water so that your lava cakes cook evenly.
  • Bake until the top has just set and a toothpick inserted in center comes out wet, 5-6 minutes. It is better to under-bake than over-bake!
  • Cool cakes for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Use a knife to loosen the cakes and serve inverted immediately top with Raspberry Mint Compote.


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Raspberry Mint Compote

This will be the hit at your next ice cream sundae bar.

This will be the hit at your next ice cream sundae bar.

Yogurt, topped with fresh blueberries, strawberries, and homemade granola is one of my favorite ways to start the day.

So what is a girl to do when the cold weather hits and fresh fruit becomes obsolete?

Make my second favorite thing – compote!

Compotes, made with fresh or frozen berries, is a simple way to brighten up breakfast or dessert.  Unlike a jelly or jam, compotes are cooked relatively quickly and do not contain a thickening agent like pectin.

This makes it a perfect toppings in a pinch!

ingredients 

  • 1 pint of raspberries
  • 1/4 cup of granulated sugar – for a thicker compote split 1/2 and 1/2 with confectioner sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 4 mint leaves, julienned
  • 1/4 tsp cornstarch

directions 

Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Stir and simmer over medium low heat, until fruit has broken down. Cook until sauce is at desired thickness.  Stir in mint leaves and allow to cool for 15 minutes before serving.

cooking compote

The compote should cook within 10 minutes.


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5 Step Guide for Planting Garlic Bulbs in Raised Beds

Did you know that one garlic bulb can produce up to 10 individual garlic seed cloves?

Did you know that one garlic bulb can produce up to 10 individual garlic seed cloves?

If you have never cooked with farm fresh garlic, you need to plant some – and you need to plant it soon! I let the ground tell me if it is too late to plant garlic for the season. If you can still work the soil and the forecast calls for a few sunny days in the mid 40s you are probably still okay. If the ground is frozen where you live, there is still hope! Simply plant your garlic seed when the ground starts to thaw in the early spring.

Fun Fact: For bigger, juicer, more flavorful garlic bulbs plant your garlic in the fall, allow it to overwinter, and harvest it the following summer.

My planting guide is for 2ft wide beds raised beds. Using the spacing provided, you can adjust the pattern to accommodate your space.

Step 1: Picking out your garlic variety

It is no surprise that there are dozens of garlic varieties to chose from. Check out these three websites to learn more about the common varieties you may find at your local nursery. I went with the classic hard neck , which tend to be reliable growers and have more usable garlic cloves per bulb. I also bought a few elephant garlic just for fun. They are notorious for having ridiculously large pungent cloves.

Whole garlic clove

Whole garlic clove

Step 2: Split apart the bulb

Depending on the variety, each garlic bulb will give you a range of individual cloves. When you pull apart the clove, make sure you keep the papery outer skin intact. I prefer to use the nice fat outer cloves and save the smaller ones for cooking. Yes I cooked with my seed garlic! Once I knew how many cloves I had to plant, I was able to plan out my garden space. I had so many garlic cloves, I wound up planting them throughout my flower beds!

Plant nice fat garlic cloves like the one on the left and use smaller ones for cooking like the one on the right.

Plant nice fat garlic cloves like the one on the left and use smaller ones for cooking like the one on the right.

Step 3: Check the weather or soak your cloves

I planted my garlic right before a few fairly wet days. Garlic cloves form the root system for your garlic plant, so you want them to stay nice and moist.  You can do this by soaking them, watering them often, or planting them right before a good rain storm. This planting guide recommends soaking them in a quart jar for 2 hrs with a tablespoon of baking soda and a tablespoon of liquid seaweed.

Step 4: Plant

Due to my bed size, and my desire to squeeze in as many as I could, I planted my garlic following the pattern below.

garlic garden plan

Using this pattern, place the garlic flat side down and pointy side up into 3 inch deep holes. Cover the garlic with soil and water well even if the weather predicts rain. You do not want to take the chance!

Plant your garlic 3 inches deep.

Plant your garlic 3 inches deep.

Step 5: Mulch

Once you are finished planting, mulch your beds using either straw or chopped leaves. Chopped leaves can hide garden pests such as slugs. I would avoid using this any other time of the year, but since it is winter and if you promise to remove it first thing in the spring – why not use what you have on hand.

Add at least 6 inches of straw to your beds to protect the roots. Constant freezing and thawing can tear apart the root system.

Add at least 6 inches of straw to your beds to protect the roots. Constant freezing and thawing can tear apart the root system.


You should begin to see the sprouts in about 4-6 weeks. Check back in the spring and I will teach you how to clip the garlic scapes, share with you a yummy recipe for garlic scape pesto, and teach you how to harvest your home grown garlic cloves!

Happy garlic sprouts!

Happy garlic sprouts!


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How to Make Homemade Bone Broth

The coming of winter usually means closed windows and central heating. The perfect incubator for all of those pesky germs that can cause you and your loved ones to feel under the weather.

A ham bone and vegetable stock. The perfect base for split pea soup.

A ham bone and vegetable stock. The perfect base for split pea soup.

As we speak there is a pot of bone broth happily simmering away on my stove top. Bone broth is by far the perfect elixir to prevent colds or in the unfortunate circumstance that you get a cold – to cure it. It not only makes your house smell warm and feel cozy, but it uses odds and ends that you would otherwise throw away – making it an inexpensive yet highly nutritious cure all.

Fun Facts: Bone broth is high in calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium, which promotes healthy teeth and bones. The high collagen and fat also supports healthy joints, hair, skin, and nails.

HOW TO MAKE BONE BROTH

Step 1. Collect your ingredients

As I prepare meals throughout the week, I keep a bowl in the fridge for the raw scraps. Now keep in mind, these are good scraps not compost. “Garbage in is garbage out” so take care not to put anything that is rotten or dirty into your stock pot. It will be very difficult to remove the taste or grit once it is finished.  When making stock, I wash my produce, but I do not peel it – and this goes for onions and garlic as well. They get tossed into the pot, skin and all! Here are a few of my favorite odds and ends to use in stock:

  • onion ends
  • garlic cloves
  • broccoli stalks
  • corn cobs
  • leek tops
  • scallion tops
  • mushroom stems
  • carrots

Step 2: Chose your meat

You can use any bones of your choice: lamb, beef, pork, game – you name it. When possible, use high quality meat such as local, organic, or grassfed.  Boiling the bones for an extended period of time extracts all of the good nutrients but also all of the bad impurities. A higher quality cut of meat tips the scale of good nutrients vs bad impurities in your favor.

Not sure what meat to buy? Head to the butcher counter at your local market – they will point you in the right direction.

Step 3: Pick your herbs

You can bring depth and dimension to the stock as well as increase the nutritional value with a few herbs. My favorites: dried chili pepper, thyme, marjoram, and rosemary.

Try other herbs such as parsley or bay leaves.

Step 4: Bringing it all together

In a large stock pot, toss in the bone and add your vegetables and herbs. Cover with water. Place over low heat – as low as you can go. Add 2 tablespoons of salt, 1/2 tablespoon of fresh cracked pepper, and 1 tablespoon of vinegar. The salt and pepper will round out the flavors, while the vinegar will help extract nutrients from the bones.

Let the pot simmer covered for at least 24 hours. I usually let mine go for 48 hours.*

After the broth is finished cooking, strain it using a fine mesh colander. Store it in your fridge for up to 3 days or in your freezer for up to 6 months.

*Know your stove. It is essential that you know how powerful your stove top is when making stock. The low setting on my stove top is probably a medium-low on an average stove top. Because of this, I have to place my pot on top of a heat diffuser, check the liquid volume regularly, and I do not let it simmer when I am not home.

HOW TO USE BONE BROTH

If I am feeling a little under the weather, my favorite way to enjoy this dish is simply by itself. Maybe I will cook up some rice or pasta. Maybe I will saute some carrots and parsnips and throw them in, but most likely I will simply ladled it into a mug and sip it like tea. It is that good.

Your broth can also become the base for an extraordinarily easy soup such as chicken noodle, french onion, or minestrone. I also substitute broth in for water when cooking rice or other grains such as quinoa and faro. The fats and minerals give the grains a silky texture and incredible flavor.


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Caramelized Brussels Sprout Salad

Roasted anything is delicious. Roasted brussels sprouts is hands down the most delicious of all! Their little leaves become crispy like potato chips.

Drizzled in maple syrup and sprinkled with chili powder, this smokey sweet treat is perfect. By turning a traditionally hot dish into a salad, you are able to make this ahead for parties or holidays. The red onion and feta cheese add depth bringing both the kids and the adults to the table.

CARAMELIZED BRUSSELS SPROUT SALAD

total time ~ 45 minutes  yield 4 servings

ingredients

  • 3 lbs of brussels sprouts halved – the key here is uniform size
  • 1/2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 tsp of chili powder
  • 1/4 cup of feta cheese
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp of cracked black pepper
  • 1 red onion – minced
  • balsamic glaze

directions

  • Preheat oven to 400F. While the oven is preheating prepare the brussels sprouts. Using a sharp knife, cut off the woody end. Remove any damaged outer leaves and cut in half
  • Place the brussels sprouts in a mixing bowl and add the olive oil, chili powder, salt and fresh cracked pepper.
  • Place the brussels sprouts on a sheet pan and put in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Shake the pan every 10 minutes to ensure even cooking. When the brussels sprouts are finished they will be slightly browned and crispy.
  • When the brussels sprouts are finished remove from the oven. Toss in a mixing bowl with the minced onion and 1/2 tbsp of maple syrup. Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Transfer the brussels sprouts to a serving bowl and top with feta cheese and a generous drizzle of balsamic glaze. Serve along side your Thanksgiving dinner or as a side to any meal for an extra special pop!