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Friday, January 29, 2010

CEiMB: Emerald Stir-Fry with Beef


Hi everyone! First of all, thank you to everyone for the sweet comments on my Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24 post. I appreciate the feedback!

I’m really trying to get back on track with cooking and posting for CEiMB. I skipped last week for two reasons: 1) I was getting ready for my cooking party, and 2) I knew Scott wouldn’t eat the Five Layer Mexican Dip and I didn’t want a whole pan of it tempting me over the weekend. Looking back, I could have made it for dinner for my friends since we also had tacos. As the infamous “they” say, hindsight is 20/20.

This week, our group was hosted by Alyssa of Alyssa’s Two Bites, who has a lovely blog if you haven’t checked it out.

I was really looking forward to this week’s recipe, Emerald Stir-Fry with Beef. I love green vegetables, and this one included some that I normally do not add to stir fries – specifically asparagus and edamame. However, this ended up being a nice combination that also included broccoli (my favorite!) and snow peas.

emerald stir fry 1

I will admit that I did not follow the measurements of the vegetables exactly, but I did mix the mirin-soy-orange sauce exactly according to the recipe. I know some of the other CEiMB members found the sauce to be a little bland, but Scott and I both enjoyed it very much. I thought it was sweet but had a little heat from the addition of crushed red pepper flakes. I do think the recipe would benefit from a small amount of salt, which I am sure Ellie left out of the recipe due to the amount of soy sauce called for, but with the amount of fresh vegetables in the recipe I think it needs some added in.

I do plan on making this dish again. It was quick, easy, and flavorful and a good vehicle to get some fresh veggies into my husband. As he said, “I wasn’t too enthused when I first looked at it, but it is delicious!”

I also loved Alyssa’s idea to make the stir-fry with shrimp and to marinate it in the sauce while the vegetables cook. I will definitely try that next time!

Thanks to Alyssa for a great CEiMB pick!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Don't forget!

Today is the Online Bake Sale for Haiti! There are many great items available, so please consider making a bid or donation. Again, all proceeds are going to the American Red Cross.

The auction will end tonight at 10:00 p.m.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: Stock the Kitchen

Each month, Foodbuzz hosts 24 Meals, 24 Hours, 24 Blogs where they highlight a group of meals that happen on the same day. I always enjoy reading these posts and have tried to think of creative ideas so that I could apply and participate, and I finally thought of one – and was so excited to find out I had been chosen for the January 24, 24, 24!

One of my friends from my book club was pregnant (and just had her baby last week), and the other club members and I had previously discussed creating a schedule so that we could provide meals for Cassi and her husband Hal after the baby arrived. We knew it would be a huge adjustment for them to bring the baby home, and the last thing we wanted was for them to be stressed out over preparing food.

When I started thinking about our cooking schedule, I thought it would be much more fun to turn one of our book club meetings into a cooking party! I decided to host a “Stock the Kitchen” party where we could all share a meal together and then cook several freezer-friendly and pantry stable meals for Cassi all at once.

After collecting recipes from other book club members, I went grocery shopping on Thursday night:

We started out the party evening by enjoying dinner together. When I thought about what to serve for my friends, I wanted something that everyone could enjoy but also customize to their individual tastes. So, we had a taco bar! The protein was grilled shrimp (which was coated with olive oil, paprika, a little bit of crushed red pepper flakes, and splash of hot sauce) and the toppings included lettuce, diced red onion and tomatoes, shredded red cabbage, sliced avocados, fresh cilantro and lime wedges.

taco 2

We also had white and blue corn chips, guacamole, and my 5 Minute Salsa:

5 Minute Salsa

2 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
1/2 red onion, roughly chopped
1 jalapeno, ribs and seeds removed
2 cans Rotel tomatoes, drained
a large handful of cilantro

Place the fresh vegetables in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add the Rotel tomatoes and cilantro and pulse until everything is combined.

*I like to make this salsa at least a few hours in advance and store in the refrigerator so the flavors can combine.*


We also had some of these while we ate:

What taco bar (or party) would be complete without a margarita or two? I put my friend Sylvia on drink duty while I finished chopping the taco toppings and she mixed some excellent margaritas.


After dinner, we started preparing Cassi’s food. In the course of three hours, we prepared a large list of food and packaged it to go into the freezer (including reheating directions on each package). We made:

  • Granola
  • Spiced Carrot Muffins
  • Vegetable Soup
  • Chicken Pot Pie
  • Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole
  • Lasagna
  • Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

While Sylvia and I started working in the kitchen on the hot food, I set up my Kitchen Aid on the dining room table and created a baking station for Kim to work on the chocolate chip cookie dough:

After scooping the dough, Kim placed it directly in the freezer and then packed it up in a plastic zipper bag. And, of course, we baked up a few for dessert! To see the recipe for the chocolate chip cookies, please see this post.


During this time, Sylvia was cooking chicken for both the chicken pot pie and the casserole, and I was making vegetable soup:

After cooking and cooling, I ladled the soup into zipper bags in three-cup portions, labeled and stacked them, and placed them into the freezer.

Vegetable Soup
(adapted from the Weight Watchers Zero Point Soup recipe)

- 2 carrots, sliced
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 T. tomato paste
- 6 c. fat-free broth, either chicken or vegetable
- 4 c. shredded cabbage
- 3 small zucchini, sliced
- 1 1/2 c. green beans, either canned (drained and rinsed) or frozen
- 1 t. salt
- 1/2 t. black pepper
- 1 T. Italian seasoning

Spray a large stockpot or Dutch oven with non-stick stray and sauté the carrots, onion, and garlic over medium heat until softened.

Add the tomato paste and stir until combined.

Add all of the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the cabbage and zucchini are cooked through.


After the chicken cooked and cooled, Sylvia diced it into small pieces so she and Kim could assemble the chicken pot pie and the chicken cordon bleu casserole.

Chicken Pot Pie
(adapted from SparkRecipes)

- 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked
- 2 cans of Healthy request Cream of Chicken soup
- 1 16 oz. bag frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup Bisquick
- 1/2 cup skim milk
- 1 egg

Cut the cooked chicken into small bite-sized pieces. Combine with the soup, vegetables and salt and pepper. Pour mixture into a baking dish.

Mix the bisquick, skim milk, and egg and pour over the chicken mixture.

Bake at 400 for 30 minutes, until heated through and the topping is golden brown.

*We assembled the chicken base of this recipe, then froze the dish without the topping. We sent the box of Bisquick along so Cassi could add this, but we thought the topping would become too soggy in the freezing process.*


I completely forgot to take a picture of this one before we packaged it, but here is the recipe. Also be sure to read the directions Sylvia wrote on the package because they are cute and funny!

cordon blue casserole

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

- 3 c. cooked chicken breast, diced
- 2 c. cooked ham, diced
- 2 c. cooked pasta shells
- 1 c. cheddar cheese, diced
- 1 can cream of chicken soup
- 1 c. sour cream
- 1/2 c. skim milk
- garlic powder
- salt and pepper

In a 9 x 13 baking dish, layer the chicken, ham, pasta and cheese. Mix the soup with the sour cream, milk and spices and pour over the layers.

Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes until heated through and golden brown on top.


The final recipe that I made together with Sylvia and Kim was the lasagna. To make it freezable, we boiled the noodles and assembled the dish but did not bake it. If I was going to bake it and eat immediately, I would use no-boil noodles and follow the directions as written. Also, the original recipe did not call for ricotta (it was a lower-fat recipe), but Sylvia and I decided that it just isn’t lasagna without ricotta and added it anyway.


- 2 lbs. of lean ground beef
- one jar of marinara
- box of lasagna noodles
- 1 egg
- 1 t. Italian seasoning
- 1 15. oz container ricotta cheese
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 c. mozzarella cheese
- 1 3/4 c. of mozzarella cheese to sprinkle on top

Brown beef and drain. Add in marinara and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.

Beat egg in a separate bowl and add Italian seasoning, ricotta, garlic and 1/4 c. cheese.

In a long dish, layer noodles, then half of meat mixture, then noodles, then egg/cheese mixture, then meat, then sprinkle with cheese.

Cover with foil, bake at 400 for 45 minutes.


In addition to providing some main meals, I wanted to include some breakfast items for Cassi. I decided to make a batch of granola (originally posted here) and Spiced Carrot Muffins that can be baked straight from the freezer.

Nutty Granola
(adapted from Ellie Krieger)

3 c. old fashioned oats
1 c. raw unsalted nuts (I used pecan chips and sliced almonds)
1/2 c. agave nectar
1/4 t. salt
1/2 t. cinnamon
1 c. raisins

Combine all ingredients except raisins and stir until everything is coated with agave nectar. Spread out on a cookie sheet coated with non-stick spray.

Bake at 275 degrees for 25-30 minutes, stirring twice during baking.

Mix in raisins and allow to cool on the cookie sheet.

Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.


Spiced Carrot Muffins
(from Delish, adapted from Martha Stewart Living)

- 1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
- 3/4 c. sugar
- 2 t. pumpkin-pie spice
- 2 t. baking powder
- 3/4 t. baking soda
- 1/2 t. salt
- 3/4 c. plain low-fat yogurt
- 4 T. unsalted butter, melted
- 1 large egg
- 2 1/2 c. shredded carrots

Line twelve cups (each 2 1/2 inches wide) of a standard muffin tin with paper liners; set aside. In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, pumpkin-pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In another bowl, whisk together yogurt, butter, and eggs. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, and add yogurt mixture. Stir until just combined. Fold in carrots.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. (If desired, muffins can be baked immediately in a 375 degrees oven for about 20 minutes.) Freeze until firm, about 30 minutes, then cover tin with plastic wrap, and freeze until ready to bake, up to 3 months.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake muffins (still frozen) until a toothpick inserted in center of one comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Finally, after all of the food was cooked, packaged and frozen, we sat down to write out the recipes on cards to present to Cassi and Hal. Even though she may not feel like cooking now, Cassi does enjoy it (I know, I’ve had her food before!) and I wanted her to be able to make these dishes again if they enjoy them.

Sylvia and I delivered the food to Cassi and Hal this afternoon and stayed for awhile to see baby Adelyn. I think they were very happy with the food and planned to make part of it right away.

I thoroughly enjoyed hosting my friends, having a great dinner, and making meals for a friend. I want to send a huge thank you to Foodbuzz for giving me the opportunity to Stock the Kitchen!

recipes 4

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Parmesan-Panko Crusted Tilapia


I always make one trip to the grocery store and buy all of our food for the entire week at once, but my last trip didn’t happen until late in the day. So, I was looking for something to make for dinner that night that would be extremely quick to prepare but still be healthy. I decided to go with the fresh tilapia that was on sale at the seafood counter.

Once I got home, I searched the pantry and fridge for vegetables and decided to serve the fish with steamed broccoli and baked potatoes. The meal went from the grocery bag to the table in just under fifteen minutes, and the best part is that I mostly used items that were already in my kitchen.

I started by preheating my broiler and a large skillet on the stovetop. I made a mixture with 3 tablespoons panko bread crumbs, 1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese, and 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley flakes:

tilapia prep 2

Then I topped the tilapia with salt, pepper, and lemon juice:

tilapia prep 1

Then I sprayed the skillet with a small amount of nonstick cooking spray, added the tilapia, covered it with the panko mixture, and immediately put the skillet under the broiler:

tilapia prep 3

Five minutes later, the fish was finished. I really like this method because the fish quickly cooks from both sides (the bottom in the preheated skillet and the top under the broiler), which allows it to cook evenly as well.

The bread crumb topping also adds a nice salty crunch to the top of the fish without adding all of the calories from the normal three step process of dredging in flour/egg wash/dipping in bread crumbs. There is just enough cheese in the mix to melt and allow it to adhere to the fish without the extra steps, and since the fish is only breaded on one side, it remains pretty healthy. In fact, the entire amount of the panko mixture clocks in at under 100 calories. Not too bad for breading!

I think this recipe would also work well with thicker pieces of fish, such as cod or even salmon, but I would cook it for a full minute or two in the skillet before breading and broiling. In the amount of time it would take to cook thicker fish entirely under the broiler, the panko would definitely burn.

Please let me know if you give this one a try, and I hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Online Blogger Bake Sale for Haiti




Hi everyone, and welcome to any new readers! 

I just wanted to announce that I will be participating (along with around 30 other food bloggers) in the Online Bake Sale for Haiti.  This event will take place on Wednesday, January 27th and will be coordinated/hosted by Diana of The Chic Life.  For more information about this event, go to this post.  All proceeds from this online bake sale will go to the American Red Cross Haiti Relief and Development Fund.

I will be donating two batches of customizable granola, which means the winning bidders will get to choose a batch of granola that includes oats and up to four mix-ins.  My recipe is made with agave nectar and it is also vegan.  It looks kind of like this:


granola 1

If you would like some fantastic baked goods from some amazing food bloggers, check out the bake sale on January 27th.  Also consider donating what you can or helping out with a local relief organization in your area so we can help those in need!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

CEiMB: Arugula, Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Pizza


I am a slacker. I made this recipe last Wednesday so I could post on Thursday (and actually follow the rules of CEiMB for once), but I just never got around to it. So, sorry to my other group members – and here it is!

caramelized onion pizza

The recipe for this week was Arugula, Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Pizza chosen by Maria of Half Meatball/Half Matzoh Ball. I was actually looking forward to this one because I love goat cheese.

The only changes I made to this recipe were to use actual pizza crust rather than whole wheat tortillas (I have several batches of whole wheat pizza dough in my freezer that I made a couple weeks ago) and to put the arugula on top of the pizza fresh rather than wilting it into the onions (so I could split the onions between two pizzas, this recipe and one for Scott).

I really enjoyed the caramelized onions. I have never tried to make them before this recipe and found that it really isn’t that difficult. They were very soft and sweet and gave a nice contrast to the tang of the goat cheese.

If anyone decides to try this recipe with pizza dough, I will let you know I baked my crust completely before adding the toppings. I was afraid everything else would burn in the time that it took the dough to bake, so I just added them at the end and returned the pizza to the oven so the toppings could heat through.

I think if I make this recipe again, I will use spinach rather than arugula. After making two recipes with it, I have decided I just don’t like it, which is great since I now have a huge tub of it in my refrigerator. Guess we’ll be eating lots of salads this week!

Overall, this one was so-so. It is something I would make again if I had all of the ingredients on hand, but not a recipe that I would add to my regular rotation.

Thanks to Maria for hosting this week!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Spicy Chicken Lasagna

This post was sponsored by Foodbuzz and Pace.

chicken lasagna 2

A few weeks ago, I received two jars of Pace Picante Sauce through the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program. I immediately started thinking of recipe ideas that went beyond opening a bag of chips and pouring, even though that’s what I really wanted to do!

After thinking about what exactly what I wanted out of my Pace recipe (a main meal, something filling, and freezable leftovers) I decided to make a lasagna. I actually tested this recipe with both chicken and beef, and Scott and I both agreed that the chicken was much better.

Spicy Chicken Lasagna

*a Rachel ♥s Food creation*

- 8 lasagna noodles, broken in half
- 1 T. olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
- 1 c. Pace Chunky Salsa
- 4 oz. cream cheese
- 1/2 t. salt
- 1/2 t. black pepper
- 1/3 c. fresh cilantro leaves
- 1 16 oz. jar Pace Picante Sauce
- 2 c. shredded cheddar cheese

1. Boil lasagna noodles in water according to package directions, drain, and set aside.

2. While noodles cook, heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and cook onions until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 additional minute.

3. Stir in shredded chicken, salsa, and cream cheese and heat until the cheese melts and the mixture is bubbly. Turn off the heat and stir in the salt, pepper, and cilantro.

4. Spray an 8x8 baking dish with cooking spray and cover bottom with a thin layer of picante sauce. Then layer 4 half noodles, chicken filling, picante sauce and 1/4 c. cheddar cheese. Repeat the layers two additional times.

5. Place the last 4 half noodles on top and cover with remaining picante sauce and cheddar cheese.

6. Bake at 375 for approx. 20 minutes until the cheese is browned and the lasagna is bubbly.

7. Let the lasagna sit for at least 10 minutes before cutting into 9 servings.

Scott and I have enjoyed this dish twice now. It makes a great dinner paired with some vegetables and either chips and salsa or garlic bread. The lasagna also freezes and reheats nicely – I just thaw it overnight in the refrigerator and then heat it in the microwave or the oven at 350 for 10 minutes.

I hope you enjoy!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Is this the Ultimate Brownie?

It’s no secret that brownies are a favorite treat in the Rachel ♥s Food household. I normally enjoy salty and crunchy snacks, but I will turn down a bag of chips for a fudgy brownie any day. I think Scott could eat a whole pan in one sitting if he thought I wasn’t watching. Brownies are also a part of our history; it started with our days of long distance dating, when I made them for Scott every time I visited him in Charlotte, to our wedding day when we gave out boxes of mini brownies as favors.

Let’s get one thing straight, though – I am not above using a boxed mix when we have a last minute brownie craving, but brownies from scratch will always win. I have read many brownies recipes in the search for the ultimate treat, one that I would describe as a fudgy brownie with a crisp outer crust and deep chocolate flavor (and of course, no nuts, chips, or chunks).

I have narrowed my search down to three recipes: this one from King Arthur flour, this one by Ina Garten, and this one posted by Annie of Annie’s Eats. My plan is to make all three recipes and decide which one is the ultimate brownie.

I started with the King Arthur Flour recipe (pictured above). This one fit the description, but after cutting them and storing in an airtight container, I have noticed the edges are getting stale rather quickly. This recipe also calls for a small amount of instant coffee powder (to enhance the chocolate, not to create a mocha flavor) but I could definitely taste and smell the coffee in the brownies. Of my taste-testers, though, only one asked if the recipe called for coffee so I guess it wasn’t too overwhelming.

I’ll be back with recipe #2 soon (but not too soon, we really don’t need full 9x13 pans of brownies in our house back-to-back)!

Finally, thanks to my taste testers (and new readers) Scott, Carol, Melissa, Lisa, Dawn, and Dawn’s daughter Zoe!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

CEiMB Rewind


Hi everyone! It’s Thursday, so it’s time for CEiMB. This week the assigned recipe was Sweet and Spicy Peanut Soup, hosted by Mary at Popsicles and Sandy Feet. I decided not to make this one, however, because I’m not a big fan of thick, blended vegetable soups (unless it’s Baked Potato, yum!) so I picked a recipe that the group made before I joined this summer. Sorry, Mary – after reading several posts, it seems like everyone else really liked the soup!

This week I made Ellie Krieger’s Nutty Granola, which was originally hosted by Leslie of Lethally Delicious in February of last year. Just click the link to view the recipe.

nutty granola

I have a basic granola recipe that I created several months ago that is easily customizable, but I wanted to give this one a spin as well. I really love nuts of all types, and this recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups total. I was sold immediately!

I really liked the combination of walnuts, pecans, and almonds in this mix. I also enjoyed the fact that it is very crunchy – I hate soft granola! Chewy granola bars are good, but if I am going to sit down with a bowl of cereal, I want it to hold up to the milk or yogurt that I add rather than becoming a soggy mess.

The only changes I made to this recipe were to use agave nectar instead of maple syrup, lower the oven temperature to 250 instead of 300 (because agave burns so easily), and I added the raisins at the end rather than baking them with the mix. I have found that baking any kind of dried fruit along with oat mixture dries it out too much and even loses a little of its flavor.

I will probably make this again and try different nut/fruit combinations, and I will definitely be enjoying some yogurt parfaits for breakfast in the upcoming week!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Restaurant Review: Msala India

On New Year’s Day, Scott, his friend Chris, and I were trying to decide what to have for dinner when Chris found out neither of us had ever eaten Indian food. Chris offered to take me and Scott out to dinner and suggested a restaurant that he visited when he was in town for our wedding – Msala India in High Point, N.C. I was so excited to try something new so we took Chris up on his offer.

Msala India in located in Oak Hollow Square on Skeet Club Road in High Point. It is a small restaurant wedged into the corner of the shopping center and is actually hard to see unless you know it is there. Once inside, we found a cozy and welcoming atmosphere, a small amount of tables around the perimeter of the room, and a buffet set up in the center of the room.

The owner took care us of over the course of the evening, and he was extremely friendly and accommodating. He talked us through the courses and told us a little about how they make the dishes – it was quite interesting and informative for a first-timer like me! He also explained that their lunch buffet is open 11:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m., seven days a week.

We looked to Chris to help us make decisions from the menu. We started with meat samosas, a pastry filled with ground chicken, peas and spices:


I tried all three of their sauces with my samosa. From the top: the red sauce is a spicy onion chutney, the green is a mint chutney, and the brown is a sweet tamarind sauce. Scott and I both commented that while we thought the onion chutney was the best originally, it turned out each sauce was better than the last. All three were delicious and are house-made daily.

We decided to split three dishes between us for the main meal:


Clockwise from the top right: garlic naan, lamb curry (lamb chunks in a tomato based curry sauce), dall makhani (lentils and kidney beans simmered in a spicy sauce), rice, and sag paneer (spinach and paneer cheese). We ordered these all medium on the spice level scale.

I tried all three dishes and thoroughly enjoyed them all. The lamb was tender and flavorful, the sag paneer had a really pure spinach taste (and I love spinach), and the dall was hearty and spiced perfectly. Of the three, the dall was my favorite and I would definitely order it again.

After dinner, Chris and I shared an unphotographed mango lassi that was creamy and refreshing after all of the spices from the meal.

While I had no previous experience with Indian food, Chris told us that he found the food at Msala India more traditional than other Indian restaurants he normally goes to. He commented that most make their dishes creamier and more “Americanized” that the food at Msala, and I was glad that I was able to experience a more traditional meal as my first Indian experience.

If you are looking for good, authentic Indian food in the Triad area, I highly suggest Msala India!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

CEiMB: Lemon Icebox Bars

lemon bars

This recipe for Lemon Icebox Bars is the latest CEiMB offering, hosted by Amy of Playing House. This recipe appears in Ellie Krieger’s newest cookbook, So Easy, and I am happy to say that this is truly the easiest recipe I have made for CEiMB so far.

I was very excited to try this one because I LOVE lemon bars! There is a restaurant here in Greensboro, Cafe Carolina, that sells them in their bakery and I have to get one every time I am in that area of the city shopping. So, it is fantastic to have an easy recipe so I can make them at home!

These lemon bars were creamy and tart, and the crust was slightly salty and crunchy in contrast. I tasted the lemon mixture before pouring it over the crust and refrigerating, and at first I thought it didn’t pack enough lemon flavor for my taste. However, the flavor really comes together during the eight hours it sits in the fridge. If any of you decide to try this, make sure to give the bars the full amount of time in the refrigerator even if the gelatin sets before the time is up.

The only substitution I made to this recipe was to use pasteurized egg whites instead of egg substitute – the only brands in my store all included onion powder in their ingredient lists and I really didn’t want to mix that into a dessert recipe!

Thanks to Amy for a great pick, and be sure to visit her beautiful blog!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Strawberry Bellinis

Happy New Year! I hope everyone enjoyed your night, whether you were out partying or at home keeping it low key as I did. I spent most of the day yesterday making pizza dough and sauce to stock my freezer and then relaxed during the evening.

Last night I made some Simple Strawberry Sauce (recipe below) to keep in my refrigerator to use as a topping for ice cream, a thin jam for toast, or my favorite – drizzled on plain yogurt and granola. As we got closer to midnight, though, I thought it would be fun to add some to our New Years champagne and make a non-traditional bellini.

I am not a huge fan of peaches, so I don’t order traditional bellinis that often, but I did have a fabulous raspberry one once in a restaurant and was willing to experiment with the strawberries. I used approximately 2 t. of strawberry sauce and then filled the glass with champagne and stirred. If you try this, be sure to stir it over a sink as the champagne will bubble over rather quickly.

I did not strain the strawberry mixture since making bellinis was not its primary purpose, but if I made it again specifically for drinks I would be sure to remove the seeds because they sank to the bottom of the champagne flute.

Simple Strawberry Sauce

- 1 16 oz. bag frozen unsweetened strawberries, thawed
- 1/3 c. white sugar
- 1 T. lemon juice

Add all ingredients to a blender and puree. Pour into a skillet and heat over medium heat for 5-10 minutes until bubbly and thick. Cool completely, transfer to a container with lid, and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 2 months.

Makes approx. 1 1/2 cups.