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12 Favorite Kentucky Derby Recipes

April 30, 2014
12 Favorite Kentucky Derby Recipes | Fake Food Free

You don’t have to live in Kentucky long to catch the Derby bug. We were there for about ten years, but I was hooked after our very first Derby celebration.

Did I mention that I’ve never actually been to the Kentucky Derby?

Everyone seems shocked when I tell them this. It’s a bit of a long story, but you basically have two choices – the infield with loads of intoxicated folks having a good time where you can’t even get a clear view of the race (or so I’ve been told), or tickets for the Grandstand side which, if you can even get your hands on some, are a bit expensive. Add to that, all the people I know who have gone (on the Grandstand side) and had a less than stellar time to see the big, but very short, race.

Compare that to hanging out at the local race track, Keeneland, in Lexington and watching the race on the big screen or having your own party at home. No traffic, no hot sun, you can still wear a hat if you want and there are plenty of bourbon-based beverages and good food.

What can I say? The latter won out for us every year.

Over those ten Kentucky Derbies, and within the past year, I’ve made a few favorite recipes that are perfect for celebrating the big day. Most with bourbon, some with mint and others with Kentucky classics in mind. There will be more to come in the future, but these should give you plenty of ideas for your own Derby celebration whether you need breakfast, brunch, drinks or dessert.

(Click on the recipe name to go to the recipe.)

Cornmeal Waffles with Bananas Foster Sauce from Jonathan’s Bluegrass Table

Bourbon Sweet Potato Waffles with Maple Cinnamon Butter

Mint Julep Scones

Bourbon Banana Scones with Walnuts

Wild Ginger Mint Julep

Kentucky Bourbon-Vanilla Soaked Cherries

Kentucky Bourbon Dogs

Pimento Cheese Dinner Rolls

Maple Bourbon Budino with Spiced Pecans from Bakeless Sweets

Mint Julep Blondies

Bourbon Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies with Coconut Oil

Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale and Pretzel Caramels

Hibiscus Limón Grapefruit Margarita and Wild Ginger Mint Julep with Mixer Elixir

February 26, 2014

Welcome to the first cocktail week on Fake Food Free. This week I’m recapping some of the excellent cocktail mixers I discovered at the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco in January. This is post two of three. Check out post one for more great drink ideas!

The first place I stopped while at the food show was the new products pavilion. I love this area because it is full of passionate small companies who are excited about their products and they hope that you will be, too.  

Nicely displayed in a corner booth, Mixer Elixir was a product that immediately caught my attention. I loved the trendy jars and logo design, and I think it’s been pretty well established that I like cocktails.

These drink mixers are from the San Diego-based company Praline Patisserie, created by pastry chef, Cruz Caudillo. They use few ingredients like fresh herbs, fruits and pure cane sugar to create a syrup that can be used to flavor seltzer water, teas, and of course, cocktails.

I had two varieties to try – Hibiscus Limón and Wild Ginger. Each has cocktail suggestions on the bottle.

For the Hibiscus Limón, a margarita with orange juice was suggested. But because I can’t think of hibiscus without thinking about Jamaica, and I also associate grapefruits with Jamaica, I added my own twist with grapefruit juice. Yes, I know we’re talking tequila and not rum (which I also associate with Jamaica), but trust me, a margarita is a winner with this one. The Hibiscus Limón is rich, sweet and tangy. It would make a unique soda mixed with seltzer or club soda as well.

The Wild Ginger has a wonderful spicy flavor and bourbon was the first thing that came to my mind. So I spiced up one of my favorite drinks, the Mint Julep. I may make all my Mint Juleps like this from now on. The kick from the ginger isn’t lost in sweetness like it can often be with sodas. I might even venture to use this Elixir as a flavoring in desserts.

In addition to keeping one around for myself, Mixer Elixir is going on my gift-ideas list. I like that both non-alcoholic and cocktail options are offered on each bottle making them perfect for just about everyone.


Hibiscus Limón Grapefruit Margarita

Makes: 1 drink

3 oz. red grapefruit juice
2 oz. gold tequila
2 oz. Mixer Elixir Hibiscus Limón
.5 oz. lime juice
Salt for rim of glass (I used this grapefruit sea salt)
Lime slices for garnish

Place the grapefruit juice, tequila, Mixer Elixir and lime juice in a cocktail shaker. Add ice, cover and shake until cold.

Fill a salt-rimmed glass with ice. Strain the margarita into the glass. Garnish with a lime slice and serve.

Wild Ginger Mint Julep

Makes: 1 drink

2 oz. Kentucky bourbon
2 oz. Mixer Elixir Wild Ginger
2 sprigs fresh mint
Crushed Ice

Place the bourbon in a cocktail shaker with one sprig of the mint. Mull the mint with the bourbon to extract the oils. Add the Mixer Elixir and stir.

Pack a mint julep glass full with crushed ice. Strain the cocktail into the glass, over the ice. Garnish with the second mint sprig and serve.

Disclosure: This product was provided to me for review purposes. I was not required to write about it and received no compensation for doing so.

Kentucky Bourbon-Vanilla Soaked Cherries Recipe

June 26, 2013
Kentucky Bourbon-Vanilla Soaked Cherries | Fake Food Free | The perfect ice cream topping or cocktail garnish!

Last week at the Farmers Market, I saw this sign.

That sad face sums up my feelings pretty well. I have enjoyed my first cherry season in California so much. I think it’s because I wasn’t expecting to have such a selection. It completely took me by surprise.

Aside from a few cherry trees here and there in Kentucky, I’ve always associated cherries with Michigan. My past experience includes picking out a few in the grocery store and barely getting enough from a tree to make a mini cherry pie. This year, I had all the cherries I wanted. I took full advantage, too. I can’t begin to estimate how many pounds I carried home throughout the season.

But alas, it is coming to an end. I know there will be other fruits to take their place, but I will miss them all the same.

Every time I carried home by big bag of joy I said I was going to make bourbon cherries. It was now or never. Well, maybe now or next season, but the pressure motivated me to get on it.

Kentucky Bourbon-Vanilla Soaked Cherries | Fake Food Free | The perfect ice cream topping or cocktail garnish!

I came across these Vanilla-Bourbon Cherries at Sweetsonian a little while back. (Aren’t her pictures gorgeous?) I wanted those same flavors so I adjusted it and then got some exact measures for the ingredients. I know I’ll want to make them again and I’m horrible at remembering what I did from recipe to recipe so I’m hoping this will help me recreate them next year.

Dark red Bing cherries make pretty soaked cherries, but as always, I was steered by the sale. These yellow-red Rainier cherries were priced to sell so my cherries look a little lighter in their bourbon bath.

I’ve had them in the fridge a little over a week and they are delicious. I’ve dropped a few in our cocktails and I hope to use them on a dessert if I can stop eating them straight from the jar.

Kentucky Bourbon-Vanilla Soaked Cherries

Inspired by Vanilla-Bourbon Cherries by Sweetsonian


1 pint cherries, pitted
4 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp water
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/3 to ½ cup Kentucky bourbon


Tightly pack the cherries into a clean pint jar leaving about ½ inch headspace.

In a small sauce pan, heat the sugar and water on medium-high. Bring it just up to a simmer and cook until the sugar dissolves and it thickens a little, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.

Pour the sugar syrup over the cherries. Pour the bourbon into the jar. How much you need will depend on how tightly your cherries are packed in. Ensure that all the cherries are covered, leaving about a ½ inch headspace.

Seal the jar. Give it a shake to mix the sugar syrup and bourbon.

Store in the refrigerator for at least 3 days before eating to allow the flavors to soak into the cherries. Then they should keep in the fridge for about a month.

Thanks for reading! All images and content are the property of Fake Food Free unless otherwise stated. Please do not republish full recipes and images without written permission. What is okay? Feel free to Pin images, share links to my posts or share the photo in a round up post with the title of this recipe and a link back to the post. Confused about copyright and food blogs? Here is some helpful information on Recipe Attribution. If you want to use a photo or full recipe, just ask. I’m sure we can work something out.  

Maple-Bourbon Budino with Spiced Pecans from Bakeless Sweets

April 17, 2013

About a year ago I caught a post on The Kitchn called How Cookbooks Are Made:  A Peek Into a Cookbook Photo Shoot. Since reading that story, I’ve had my eye out for Faith Durand’s, Bakeless Sweets.

I received a copy a few days ago, and there is already a good chance that I will refrain from turning on the oven all summer so that I can try every recipe in this book.

It has reintroduced me to a world of desserts that were somehow lost in my past. We ate many scratch-made puddings growing up so I debated why bakeless desserts had failed to get my attention in adulthood. The reason soon dawned on me.

After the scratch-made puddings of my youth, somewhere along the line bakeless desserts became fake. As in, they meant boxed pudding, jellos, and oil-based whipped cream — things that no longer have a place in my kitchen. It turns out that when those things went, so did all my desire to make bakeless desserts.

And that is what makes this cookbook brilliant. There is not a box of pudding required among its pages. In fact, Faith offers her own recipe for making pudding mix at home to keep on hand, eliminating the need for even the busiest cook to turn to the boxes.

As delicious as the many pudding recipes sound, don’t think for a minute that they are all this book has to offer. Every creative combination of stove-top and refrigerator desserts you can think of (and many more you never imagined) are in this book.

As Faith pointed out in that post I read a year ago, there is no cookbook like this on my shelf. It is truly unique, and not to mention, eye-opening when it comes to dessert.

A few of the recipes I plan to try out this summer include — Salted Caramel Risotto, Goat Cheese Panna Cotta with Cranberry-Port Glaze and Papaya Filled with Coconut Cream and Mango.

The book is also filled with gorgeous photos by Stacy Newgent. To be honest, I never thought mousse and jellies could be so pretty. The spoon selection used in the photographs is enough to make you want to spend the day shopping at an antique store so you can make your finished bowlful as beautiful.

I flipped through the pages admiring the photos as I tried to decide what to make. It didn’t take long before something on page 62 gave me a few flashbacks to my Old Kentucky Home. After living there for 10 years, I welcomed the change that came with moving to California, but there are two times a year that I know I will always miss.

Spring and autumn — when the horses are running.

I’m not exactly a true racing fan, but no one can deny the spirit in the air as Derby nears each May. So when I saw a recipe for Maple-Bourbon Budino with Spiced Pecans I knew I needed to add it to my long distance Derby celebration. (Budino is an Italian dessert that is similar to pudding, in case you were wondering like I was.)

A few tips. Just go ahead and make two batches of the pecans because you’ll have a hard time keeping your hands out of them before you finish the pudding. Also, don’t be scared of pudding. I have to admit the whisking, tempering and boiling all get me a bit nervous because I’ve failed so many times in the past. But thanks to Faith’s step-by-step instructions, I finally had a true pudding success. No lumps to be found. And the flavor of this rich, sweet and salty budino can’t be beat. Thanks to this book I was quickly reminded that I LOVE pudding, too!

Maple-Bourbon Budino with Spiced Pecans

(Both recipes reprinted with permission from Abrams Books.)

Maple and bourbon were meant to go together, with maple’s sweet fragrance and bourbon’s vanilla smoothness. They pair especially well in this intensely rich and sweet budino, which mounds up on the spoon like creamy maple syrup. It’s best eaten warm. 

Makes 2 cups (480 ml) or eight servings.

1/4 cup (55 g) packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup (60 ml) Grade B maple syrup
1 cup (240 ml) cream
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup (180 ml) whole milk
3 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons bourbon

Warm and sweeten the cream: Bring the sugar and maple syrup to a boil over medium heat in a 3-quart (2.8-L) saucepan. Turn the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the mixture is reduced by about half. Whisk in the cream and heat until the surface begins to quiver. Turn off the heat.

Make a cornstarch and egg yolk slurry: Meanwhile, whisk the cornstarch and salt together in a medium bowl. Slowly whisk in the milk, making sure there are no lumps. Whisk in the egg yolks. It is important that this mixture be as smooth as you can make it.(To be really sure, reach into the bowl and gently rub out any lumps between your fingers.)

Temper the slurry: Pour 1 cup (240 ml) of the hot cream into the bowl with the slurry and whisk vigorously to combine. They should come together smoothly, with no lumps. If you see any, add a little more liquid and whisk them out. Pour the tempered slurry back into the pan slowly, counting to 10 as you do and whisking vigorously.

Thicken the pudding: Turn the heat back on to medium. Bring the mixture to a simmer, whisking constantly and vigorously, working all the angles of the pot and scraping the bottom. It will take 2 to 5 minutes for the custard to come to a boil, with large bubbles that slowly pop up to the surface. Boil, whisking constantly, for 2 minutes.Turn off the heat. Stir in the vanilla and bourbon.

Chill the pudding: Immediately pour the custard into a shallow container. Place plastic wrap or buttered wax paper directly on the surface to cover it, and refrigerate. This recipe is best served warm—almost immediately, or after 30 minutes in the refrigerator. Serve it with a spoonful of spiced maple pecans (recipe follows) scattered on top.

Spiced Maple Pecans

These lightly toasted spiced pecans are just piquant enough to balance the sweet richness of the Maple-Bourbon Budino. 

Makes 1 cup (240 ml).

1 cup (110 g) roughly chopped pecans
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon chipotle powder
1 tablespoon (14 g) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons Grade B maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Butter a baking sheet and have it ready. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the pecans. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until they smell nutty and toasted. Add the spices and cook for 10 seconds, stirring. Add the butter and maple syrup and stir until melted, then bring to a simmer. As soon as the liquid bubbles down into a thick glaze, remove the pan from the heat.

Stir in the salt. Turn out onto the baking sheet. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Disclosure:  This book was sent to me for review purposes. I was not required to write about it and received no compensation for doing so. Thoughts are my own, and I also love pudding.

An Evening with Ruth Reichl and Kentucky Food

October 19, 2012

So far in 2012 I have had some excellent opportunities to see a few of my food, culture and travel heroes. (Yes, I tend to lump those topics all into the same group.) It started in February with Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert. It continued in the spring with Marion Nestle. And this fall it was Ruth Reichl.

Ruth was brought to the area through our local Kentucky Women’s Writers Conference, and I can’t begin to express how motivating her talk was. When your focus is food, health and agriculture it is easy to get swallowed up in the negativity of obesity statistics and food policy arguments.

Kentucky Chef Ouita Michel and Ruth Reichl

Ruth’s presentation brought me back to why I fell in love with food (and all that it encompasses) in the first place – the culture. Those things that surround what we eat, why we eat it and where these practices come from.

Long story short, if you have the chance to hear her speak, go. She will have you longing for fresh-made yogurt and grilled fish in a remote Greek village before all is said and done.

That particular evening included more than the wonderful presentation. We are moving into the time of year here when everyone is preparing for a celebration of  Kentucky food, and the people who grow and produce it!

You may have seen my post about the Kentucky Proud Incredible Food Show last year. Well it’s that time of year again! The show goes on next Saturday, October 27th!

The wonderful organizers of that event invited Kentucky Food Bloggers out to a preview event and then provided us transportation to Ruth Reichl’s talk. Such a fun night of food!

We were greeted with all kinds of goodies – Kentucky cheeses, bourbon and wine to name a few. Chef Brigitte Nguyen was on sight cooking up some delicious tomato fritters. These bites were like a corn fritter meets hushpuppy meets a garden fresh tomato. So good!


I love promoting great Kentucky foods so here are the details of this year’s event. Along with table after table of Kentucky food vendors there are several new features this year that I can’t wait for.

The Traditional Food Craft Area is going to have demos of how to make traditional Kentucky foods including sorghum, apple cider and apple butter. Local area restaurants will be in Restaurant Row offering tasting plates for purchase. The special guest this year will be Tyler Florence.

And the event I’m most interested in is the “When Pigs Fly” demonstration. Local chefs will be addressing the lost art of butchery while teaching the home cook how to break down a whole hog!

I’ll have a recap after the event as I hope to meet many new Kentucky food producers.

So tell me. Do you have an event like this in your area?

Kentucky Road Trip: Natural Bridge State Park and Red River Rockhouse

September 22, 2012
During the summer of 2012, my husband and I made it a point to visit a few places around central Kentucky that were new to us, or that we have put off year after year. One place I reviewed a few weeks ago, The Bluebird, is a wonderful restaurant serving local foods in the small town of Stanford, Kentucky.
Our next stop included food, but some activity too. Kentucky is pretty well-known in the world of rock climbing for Red River Gorge, an area located in south eastern Kentucky, only about 45 minutes from Lexington. Nearby is Natural Bridge State Park, surrounded by Daniel Boone National Forest. For those of us who aren’t rock climbers, this may be a better fit. 
Walk up to the Natural Bridge
The natural bridge is just that – a natural sandstone bridge that arches  65 ft above the ground. The area is beautiful, and a nice place to spend the day hiking especially in late summer or early autumn. 
View of the bridge


Walking across the Natural Bridge

View from on top of the Natural Bridge
After a day of activity, you’ll likely be hungry. Until recently, pickings were limited. You could eat the traditional Kentucky buffet at the resort park, or there is always Miguel’s, the pizza place very popular among rock climbers. 
A few months ago, I had the pleasure of meeting the owner of a new place that opened up in the area. In fact, they are celebrating their one-year anniversary this weekend. I had promised to visit soon, so we knew what our lunch would be on this trip. 

The Red River Rockhouse is a cool little burger joint that has the charm of a quaint coffee shop. They source their meats from local farms, and they offer plenty of vegetarian and vegan options. And because they are located just across the county line, they also serve beer. 



Now, I have to be completely honest. If you are not a rock climber, you will be an outsider. That’s not to say that everyone isn’t incredibly friendly. They are. But you will likely get a few stares as you pull up to the parking lot. That is something I wasn’t expecting the first time I went to the other eating option in the area, Miguel’s. Rockhouse did seem to be a little more diverse with more locals as well as traveling climbers, but there is no doubt that I have – I’m not a climber – written all over me. But hey, when good food is involved, I step out of my comfort zone. 
We got there early so they needed to change the breakfast menu over to lunch, but we were still able to get a burger. A good burger too, with grass-fed beef from a Clark County farm. Unlike just about everyone I know, I don’t like thick burgers. I like thin, griddle style burgers that have crispy edges. It’s difficult to get a grass-fed burger like this, but if you like them too, then the Rockhouse is the place for you.
We left happy, full, and exhausted. (I think my exhaustion had a little bit to do with my 2 hour adrenaline rush due to my fear of snakes, but that is a story for another time. The burger got my mind off of it.) 
If you find yourself enjoying some of Kentucky’s gorgeous parks soon, be sure to seek out the Rockhouse. Oh, and a tip for finding it – just keep driving. The sign will jump out at you at the last minute, and you’ll have to turn around and go back. But that’s part of the fun in driving in rural Kentucky. Enjoy! 
Red River Rockhouse
4000 KY Route 11
Campton, KY 41301
Find them on Facebook

Kentucky Road Trip: The Bluebird in Stanford, KY

July 24, 2012


When we moved to rural Kentucky many of our friends thought we were crazy. Why would we move ourselves 40 minutes outside of the city; 40 minutes away from convenience and access?
Lexington is wonderful, but we’d spent our time there. And after moving back from Brazil, honestly, I had changed. I didn’t care so much about things like going to Target once a week, or having easy access to take out.
Fortunately, looking back there is no way I would change our decision. Of course, there is our garden, and the silence of the weekend morning, but more importantly we have explored a side of Kentucky that we never would have otherwise.
 And we have found some amazing things along the way.
Our most recent exploration? The Bluebird in Stanford, KY.
A small cafe serving gourmet food made with local ingredients such as pastured eggs and meats? A cozy, modern breakfast and lunch spot on a quaint small-town main street that uses the modern technology of an iPhone to take your order and an iPad to check out?
Yes, and yes.
I was blown away by the Bluebird. I don’t mean to say the food I have enjoyed in smaller towns isn’t tasty, but I wasn’t expecting such an outstanding experience from quality of the food, to creativity of the menu, to friendliness of the staff.
It’s less than an hour drive from where we live, and we set out for breakfast a few weekends ago after our Saturday morning run. I had checked out the menu online so I already knew what I was getting – the Breakfast Fries.
Brilliant, right? I mean, home fries are breakfast food, why not take the potato in the form of a French fry and cover it with all kinds of breakfast goodies. And they did just that with bacon, green peppers, onions, tomatoes, scallions, eggs and smoked Gouda sauce. It tasted every bit as good as it sounds. 
We split that, and my husband ordered a biscuit with gravy. It’s standard around here, although this version was anything but, with a light, fluffy homemade biscuit and savory sausage gravy. 
Thanks to the Bluebird I also discovered a new (to me) small batch, hand-roasted coffee in Kentucky – Baxter’s Coffee in Somerset, KY. You know I’m a bit of a coffee snob, and I am always surprised how delicious a locally roasted coffee can be. We enjoyed it so much my husband picked up a bag on his most recent visit. (Yes, he’s already been back!)
If you find yourself traveling through the Bluegrass state, put the small town of Stanford and the Bluebird on your agenda. It surpassed our former favorites even among the delicious foods in Lexington. My thanks to Chef Bill Hawkins for bringing wonderful locally sourced food to unexpected places.  


202 W. Main Street
Stanford, KY. 40484
Mon-Sat 7am-4pm

Blue Potato Salad with Lemon Basil Vinaigrette Recipe

June 26, 2012
My favorite thing that I’ve grown in our garden is the Adirondack Blue Potato. These potatoes have a pleasant texture, and they add a pop of color to summer side dishes. 
Blue Potato Salad with Lemon Basil Vinaigrette Recipe | Fake Food Free
In the spring I started a search for a variety of the blue potato. I didn’t want them to eat, but to plant in our garden this year. I finally learned about the Adirondack Blue, but every corner I turned I found that they were sold out.
Then I was surprised at Easter by my parents – Adirondack Blue potato seed from Wood Prairie Farm in Maine!
So we went from this:
Adirondack Blue Potatoes 
To this (they look purple on the inside, but they go by the name blue):
Adirondack Blue Potatoes before planting
And then lots of excitement when we saw this:
Adirondack Blue Potatoes sprouted in the garden 
Followed by this:
Adirondack Blue Potatoes bloom before harvest 
And this week, we finally got this – almost 15 pounds!
Adirondack Blue Potatoes Harvest 
Adirondack Blue Potatoes 
With blue potatoes on my hands I’m now challenged to come up with a few recipes that show off their beautiful color. We’ll start with a potato salad.
The flavor of the blue potato doesn’t really stand out, but they do have a very smooth texture. When cooked until soft (but still firm enough to hold their shape) they are perfect for potato salad.
Now the question is – if you put this on your picnic table would people be adventurous enough to eat it?!
Blue Potato Salad with Lemon Basil Vinaigrette Recipe. A great summer side dish. 

Blue Potato Salad with Lemon Basil Vinaigrette Recipe

Makes: 6 servings


~ 1 ¾ lbs. blue potatoes
1 small bell pepper, diced (I used a purple lilac pepper)
¼ large onion, chopped fine
Juice of one lemon
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
1 teasppon sugar
~15 fresh basil leaves
Salt and pepper to taste


I cook the potatoes using a method taught by my mom. Place the whole potatoes in a pot, cover with water, cover the pot with a lid and bring to a boil. Once they boil, turn off the heat. Leave the lid on, and let them sit in the hot water until the potatoes are softened. For this recipe they sat about 15 – 20 minutes.

Drain the potatoes and let them cool, chop into bite-size pieces. Add the bell pepper and the onion.

In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil and sugar. Chop the basil and stir into the dressing.

Pour the dressing over the potatoes and toss to coat. Salt and pepper to taste.

Refrigerate for about 15 minutes before serving. Serve soon after making because the potatoes do begin to lighten a bit as they sit. 


Thanks for reading! All images and content are the property of Lori Rice and Fake Food Free unless otherwise stated. Please do not republish full recipes and images without written permission. What is okay? Feel free to Pin images, share links to my posts or share the photo with the title of this recipe and a link back to the post. Confused about copyright and food blogs? Here is some helpful information on Recipe Attribution. If you want to use a photo or full recipe, just ask. I’m sure we can work something out.

Gardens, Markets and Pure Beef

June 3, 2012

Happy June! 
 I was not a fan of summer until I started gardening and exploring Farmer’s Markets. Now summer rates as high on my list as autumn, at least until we get to the hot and humid Augusts we often experience in Kentucky. Until then I will be enjoying all the things of the season.
I thought I’d use this post to spread some of the beauty of June through garden and market photos, and to reveal the winner of the Pure Beef cookbook!
Our garden is coming along nicely except for the extra bugs that are around due to the mild winter. The Roma tomatoes are just now beginning to turn pink on their way to red. The blue potatoes are blooming, and although I’m sad that the strawberries are done, we have picked a few blueberries, and raspberries aren’t far behind!
Roma on its way to red!

Eggplant blooms
Blue potato blooms

Guard Pug – every garden should have one.

I stopped by our small (but sufficient) Farmer’s Market this weekend for onions and tomatoes. Some of our farmer’s here grow tomatoes in high tunnels so there are already some heirlooms ripe and ready.

All of this produce will go perfectly with some Pure Beef.  By random draw, the winner of the cookbook is LouAnn at Oyster Food and Culture! Congratulations!
I’ve been reading LouAnn’s blog for a few years now, and had the opportunity to meet up with her for lunch a few years back when I was visiting California. Do stop by and check out her blog. It is full of so much information on food and culture. I learn something new with each post!
Thank you for your comments! I hope you’ll consider getting your own copy of Pure Beef. I’ve been enjoying it so much.

Broccoli and Pastured Bratwurst over Pumpkin Quinoa

March 23, 2012

Quick and easy. That’s the motto for cooking around here right now. It’s not that I don’t want to cook. Well, okay, maybe just a tiny bit. I’m going through that seasonal transition thing when, despite a love of cooking, you still need a break.
That aside, it is more that other things are taking up my time. Fun things like this:
Gardening season has arrived, and we are prepped and ready to go. So far kale, Brussels sprouts, arugula, and radishes have been planted. The strawberries are blooming, and asparagus is popping up.
Longer days mean I’d rather be outside than in the kitchen, but that will soon change when the plants start producing.
For now, it’s quick and easy.
My husband picked up some smoked local, pastured bratwurst from Marksbury Farm Market. There is something I like about broccoli and sausage together so I combined the two once again. We are still on a mission to clean out the pantry, and I found some quinoa hidden behind the rice. I promise I try to keep it organized, but grains have tendency to get lost in there.
The quinoa needed a little something. I had frozen a small amount of leftover pumpkin that I roasted with rosemary over the winter, so that got stirred in. The result was a bowl that balanced comfort food with spring vegetables and grilling season!
Broccoli and Pastured Bratwurst over Pumpkin Quinoa

1 tbsp olive oil

½ large onion, sliced
4 cups broccoli florets
3 smoked bratwursts, sliced
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 cup quinoa, cooked
¾ cup pumpkin puree
Salt to taste
In a large skillet or wok, heat the oil over medium-high. Add the onions and cook until almost translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Add the broccoli, and continue to cook until it reaches your desired doneness. That’s about 5 minutes for me. Add the bratwursts and cook about 1 minute longer, just to heat the sausage through. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Stir the pumpkin into the hot quinoa. Salt to taste. Place the quinoa on a plate or in a bowl, and top with the broccoli and sliced brats. Serves 4.