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    Entries in childhood (12)

    Friday
    Jun212013

    Orange Genius

    Today is the first day of summer, so it’s the perfect time for a cool, refreshing treat.  When I was a kid, on the rare occasion we found ourselves in a mall, I just had to have an Orange Julius.  I still love them, but as an adult I visit malls even less frequently and I’ve recently found the ingredients list for Orange Julius, and quite frankly, it’s frightening.  But I have good news!  Making your own is as easy as falling off a log (it’s getting on in the first place that’s difficult) and the fruity, frothy goodness is simply divine.  I’m going to show you the original as well as a triple berry version and a tropical one. 

    Here’s what you’ll need:

    • 1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
    • 1 Tablespoon sugar
    • 1 Tablespoon cream
    • ½ teaspoon vanilla
    • 1 orange
    • ½ cup ice

     

    Peel your orange and place the segments on a parchment lined sheet pan.  Slide that into the freezer for an hour.  You can do this ahead of time, and once the segments are frozen, just dump them into a freezer bag to be used in a moment’s notice. 

    When you’re ready, pour 1 cup of fresh squeezed orange juice into a blender.  I cheated a bit and bought fresh squeezed orange juice from Wegmans.  If you don’t have a store nearby that sells freshly squeezed juice, you’ll have to do your own.  I promise it’ll be worth the effort. 

    Add a tablespoon of sugar.

    A tablespoon of cream.

    And ½ teaspoon vanilla.

    At this time I have to give a quick shout out to Vita Mix.  I have had this thing for years, (it was one of the few things I moved across the country with me) and it is still the champion of blenders. 

    Ok, back to the orangey goodness. 

    Before adding anything else, turn your blender to a medium speed and allow it to run for about a minute.  There are two reasons for doing this.  First, it’s makes the cream nice and frothy.  Second, it gives the sugar a chance to dissolve. 

    While that’s going, pull your frozen orange segments out of the freezer. 

    Drop about half of them into the blender.

    Ice cubes aren’t the easiest things to measure, but you want about ½ cup or so. 

    Dump them in. 

    Start the blender on low and slowly increase the speed.

    Allow it to run on high for 30 seconds, until it’s nice and smooth.

    Orange Julius has got nothin’ on this.  The frozen orange segments are the secret.  I’m sure loads of people have thought of it before me, but I've never seen it, and when the idea struck, I thought it was sheer genius. 

    Next up is the triple berry version

    Here’s what you’ll need: 

    • 1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
    • 1 Tablespoon sugar
    • 1 Tablespoon cream
    • ½ teaspoon vanilla
    • ½ cup frozen mixed berries
    • ½ cup ice

    It starts the same way as the last one.  Orange juice, sugar, cream, and vanilla go into the blender, then blend at medium speed for one minute. 

    Frozen berries are also difficult to measure, so when I say ½ cup it looks something like this. 

    Dump them into the blender. 

    Add the ice and blend as before, starting on low speed and slowly increasing. 

    Allow it to run on high for 30 seconds. 

    Triple berry fabulousness. 

    And last but not least is the tropical version. 

    Here’s what you’ll need: 

    • 1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
    • 1 Tablespoon sugar
    • 1 Tablespoon cream
    • ½ teaspoon vanilla
    • ½ cup frozen mango
    • 1 Tablespoon cream of coconut
    • ½ cup ice

    Same procedure as the others to start out, orange juice, sugar, cream, and vanilla into the blender. 

    This time, though, add a tablespoon of cream of coconut before turning on the blender. 

    While that’s mixing for 1 minute, measure out the frozen mango.

    Add it to the blender. 

    Add the ice and let ‘er rip.  Well… rip slowly at first. 

    After another 30 seconds on high, you’ll have smooth, tropical, deliciousness. 

    Now for a quick clean up tip.  A lot of people don’t realize blenders are basically self cleaning appliances.  Just squirt in a little dish soap.

    Add some hot water.  

    Then, turn the blender on starting at the lowest speed.  Slowly increase the speed until the sudsy stuff reaches the top of the blender then leave it at that speed for 1 minute.  Give it a quick rinse, and you’re done.  

    Now drop in a straw, put your feet up, and enjoy cool, fruity, refreshing bliss. 

    What’s your favorite “mall” treat?

     

    Friday
    Apr052013

    Mexironi and Cheese

    Although I’m pretty sure this dish probably falls into the casserole category, since Hubby and Seeley are both casserole-phobes, I will avoid using the dreaded c word.  To be fair, I think cans of crap thrown into a dish and baked, ruined that word for a lot of people.  Call it what you will, it’s easy and tasty, and that’s what matters. 

    Here’s what you’ll need:

    • ½ lb. pasta
    • ½ lb. ground beef
    • ½ onion, diced
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • 1 Tablespoon chili powder
    • 1 teaspoon cumin
    • 1 cup diced tomatoes
    • 2 Tablespoons green chilies  
    • 4 oz. cream cheese
    • 1 cup grated cheese
    • 2 Tablespoons sliced green onions
    • 2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
    • ½ cup water 

    Since this recipe uses half of a lot of things (½ lb. pasta and meat, ½ of an onion, ½ can of tomatoes and green chilies, and ½ pkg. of cream cheese) it is very easily doubled.  It makes quite a lot, though, so just be sure you have a large enough vessel for it.

    First up, get your pasta boiling.  Cook it according to the package directions, minus 2 minutes, then drain it and rinse it with cold water.  You want it to be a little underdone because it will soften up more during the baking process.  I used one called mezzi rigatoni, which is basically half length rigatoni, but any large-ish pasta will work.  Next, place a tablespoon of oil and the onion in a pan over medium heat. 

    Sprinkle on ½ teaspoon salt, and cook the onion until it’s translucent, then add the garlic. 

    Cook that for another minute or two, and then add the ground beef. 

    Break that up with your spatula as it cooks.  When it’s browned, sprinkle on the chili powder and cumin.  (I use extra lean beef, but if you use something with a higher fat content, you’ll want to drain any excess rendered fat first.)

    Stir that in and add the tomatoes. 

    After those come the chilies. 

    Stir that all together then reduce the heat a bit and pop a lid on for about 10 minutes.  Stir every couple of minutes to make sure it doesn’t burn. 

    During that time, cut your cream cheese into cubes.  After the 10 minutes, turn off the heat and add the cream cheese. 

    It will slowly melt as you stir it in.  (I know, it doesn’t really look that pretty at this stage, but trust me, it gets better.)

    Add ½ cup grated cheese along with the green onions and cilantro.  Because cass… I mean dinners like this… are meant to be easy, I used pregrated cheese.   

    Once all of that is incorporated, it’ll be a bit on the thick side.

    Stir in ½ cup hot water.  There, that’s better. 

    Add your cooked pasta.  Oops.  See what I mean about a large enough vessel.  Imagine if I had doubled it. 

    Stir that together.  Somehow I managed it without making too much of a mess. 

    Pour the whole thing into a buttered baking dish.  A 9x13 works great. 

    Spread it around and cover with foil.  Now, at this point, you can go ahead and bake it, or you can make it ahead of time up to this point, refrigerate it, and continue on from here when you’re ready.  Preheat the oven to 350°.  Bake, covered, for 25 minutes.  (if it’s been refrigerated, add 10-15 minutes)  Uncover, and sprinkle on the remaining half cup of cheese. 

    Back into the oven for 15 minutes.  By then it should be nice and bubbly and just starting to brown on top. 

    Sprinkle with a bit of fresh cilantro and dig in.  Even if you have casserole haters in your family, give this a try.  I bet they’ll like it.  Hubby even had seconds! 

    What was the best/worst casserole you grew up on?