Cowboy Caviar, A San Antonio Favorite

Oh caviar!  The savory snack of the rich and famous.  I wouldn't have thought there was any food from the sea that I didn't like but I can do without caviar.  Little black, salty fish eggs, you either love it or hate it.

So when I heard about a neighbor's BBQ where Cowboy Caviar was to be one of the dishes, I assumed
that would be one dish I steer away from.  But once there, I saw the dish of color and beauty that you see here and was pleasantly surprised by the Mexican spices and fresh bounty of vegies in season. 

If you like the basic recipe, make sure to experiment with substituting other types of beans, adding salad sized shrimp, prepared pasta, serving as a side dish with meats or its traditional use, served with big tortilla chips for scooping.  Remember, you can also leave out a spice or vegie you don't like or have on hand.

 Ingredients:

2 c corn or 1 can
1/2 onion, chopped
1 c green or other color bell pepper, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped

1 c diced celery
2 jalapeno peppers, chopped (optional)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 (8 ounce) bottle zesty Italian dressing (or 1/2 c oil and 1/4 c red wine vinegar plus salt and pepper & 1/4 c sugar)
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 (15 ounce can black eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander (seeds from cilantro plant, ground)

1/4 teaspoon cumin or to taste (optional, not in the original recipe but it makes a nice addition) 
1 bunch chopped fresh cilantro or to taste


Instructions:

Chop the vegies rather small so they are consistent with size of the corn kernels.  In a large dish, mix everything together except the cilantro . I like to use a 9 X 13 dish because more of the vegies get more of the marinade. Cover and chill in the refrigerator 4 hours or more. I like to drain off the dressing and return a couple teaspoons just to keep it moist.  This cuts down on the calories from the oil in the dressing.  Toss with desired amount of fresh cilantro to serve.


Makes about 10 cups


Teri Blaschke is the RV Park operator of family owned HiddenValley RV Park in San Antonio, TX and writer of the park blog “A Little Piece of Country in San Antonio.” Teri contributes to various other blogs with a focus on either travel or social media and how it relates to the outdoor hospitality industry but her passion is serving the RV travel community by providing a memorable RV camping experience and growing the Hidden Valley RV family.  Connect with , Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter@HiddenValleyRV and our RV Country Daily Magazine and don't forget to Say hello to the voice of Hidden Valley 

Bermuda Boys Loquat Liquor



During the winter of 2011 we had a visit from Ron and Sally Boys traveling in their 5er from FL.  They called themselves the Bermuda Boys because they lived in Bermuda for a time.  Because our yard had a soon to bloom loquat tree we got to talking about a recipe they concocted for Loquat Liquor. 

First, what's a loquat?  This unusual fruit grows in semi-tropical climates and has evergreen foliage in most places.  For years I would just use this fruit by plucking it straight from the tree, biting off a piece, sucking out the seeds, spitting them out, then savoring the remaining sweet, tangy flavor of the inner flesh.  If eaten early during the season the skins are tender and easily palatable but late in the season the skins tend to be a bit more tough so many prefer to just suck out the flesh and discard the skins. To me the fruit is similar to an apricot.


The seeds, like several other fruit seeds, have a small amount of arsenic in them but they are used by many to make liquors that are reputed to taste like amaretto, an almond based drink.  I've not seen these fruits in stores anywhere I've lived but understand they can be found in specialty stores or in places where they grow plentifully.

Our April harvest was a bumper crop just waiting to be tried in the liquor.

So without further ado, here is the famous Bermuda Boys Loquat Liquor Recipe (they told me I could share):

  • Glass Bottle (I used a gallon pickle jar) 
  • equal parts of Vodka and sugar (rock sugar is best but I just used regular sugar)
  • washed loquats with the seeds in

That's it.  Make sure that the vodka sugar mixture covers the fruit.  Let this mixture sit, covered and in the dark for 6 months.  Take off the liquid and bottle.

There was one last instruction from Sally.  "Sit down before you sample this."  She also suggested dipping the "pickled" loquats in chocolate for a special treat.

I put mine up in early April and will be "uncorking" the jar in October and will follow with an update.

UPDATE:  OM Goodness.  This liquor has no taste what so ever of a heady liquor but only the sweetness of it's fruit base and a bit of an after result, a euphoric lightness of mood.  If you stop by the registration house,  I'll be glad to share.

Teri Blaschke is the RV Park operator of family owned HiddenValley RV Park in San Antonio, TX and writer of the park blog “A Little Piece of Country in San Antonio.” Teri contributes to various other blogs with a focus on either travel or social media and how it relates to the outdoor hospitality industry but her passion is serving the RV travel community by providing a memorable RV camping experience and growing the Hidden Valley RV family.  Connect with , Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter@HiddenValleyRV and our RV Country Daily Magazine and don't forget to Say hello to the voice of Hidden Valley 

What's So Good about a Pineapple?

 
If you're like me, you're always thinking of more ways to include fruit in your daily diet.  I like fruit but it so often gets over ripe in my refrigerator before I get around to eating it.  I just don't get in the fruit mood.  There are 2 exceptions to this.  One is watermelon, (think I could eat a whole one in one sitting) and the other is the

theRVGourmet, What's so Good About Pineapple-Plant
subject of today's post,  the simple pineapple.  Actually there are several reasons that the pineapple is unique and NOT so simple.

It probably initiated from Brazil and Paraguay and eventually made it's way to the Caribbean where Columbus "discovered" it and brought in back to Europe.  
theRVGourmet, What's so Good About Pineapple-Bromeliad

It's a member of the bromeliad family and only produces one fruit in it's lifetime.  It is extremely rare that bromeliads produce edible fruit. The pineapple is the only available edible bromeliad today.

It is a multiple fruit. One pineapple is actually made up of dozens of individual flowerettes that grow together to form the entire fruit. Each scale on a pineapple is evidence of a separate flower.

theRVGourmet, What's so Good About Pineapple-Flowers


According to my research pineapples stop ripening the minute they are picked and no special way of storing them will help ripen them further.  It seems to me that as they sit on the counter they tend to get sweeter but all I've read says this is not true,  How can you pick a ripe one?  Color is relatively unimportant in determining ripeness.
Choose your pineapple by smell.  If it smells fresh, tropical and sweet, it will be a good fruit.

The more scales on the pineapple, the sweeter and juicier the taste.

After you cut off the top (or better yet twist it off), you can plant it.
It should grow much like a sweet potato will.  According to the website BUZZLE this is the best procedure:


theRVGourmet, What's so Good About Pineapple-how to grow
Courtesy of  Buzzle: http://www.buzzle.com/articles/growing-pineapple-plants-how-do-pineapples-grow.html


Choosing a Pineapple: The pineapple that you have chosen for growing at home need to be brownish in color; leaves must be green. Avoid using pineapples that have yellowish leaves.
Preparing the Crown for Rooting: The pineapple plant is commonly cultivated from the crown. It is advisable to pull off the crown from the fruit by twisting it; this way, the crown comes out clean without any flesh adhering to the base. Removing the lower leaves reveals the base of the crown. You may find a few short roots at the base.
Rooting: The process of rooting requires the crown to be kept immersed in water for about 3 weeks. You will have to replace the water in the container regularly.
Planting: The process of planting the pineapple crowns begins with selecting a proper soil medium for its growth. Also, the layers in which these media are arranged holds great importance. For example, the bottom layer is formed of pebbles which allow proper drainage of water. Above this layer, you should spread soil that is mixed with a medium like perlite. Crown should be planted in this layer of soil and then the soil watered. It takes about 6 weeks for the roots to gain hold in the soil. By the end of 2 months, the pineapple plant gets firmly rooted in the soil.

This delicious fruit is not only sweet and tropical; it also offers many benefits to our health. Pineapple is a remarkable fruit. 

  • It is valuable for easing indigestion, arthritis or sinusitis.
  • The juice has an anthelmintic effect; it helps get rid of intestinal worms. 
  • Pineapple is high in manganese, a mineral that is critical to development of strong bones and connective tissue. A cup of fresh pineapple will give you nearly 75% of the recommended daily amount. It is particularly helpful to older adults, whose bones tend to become brittle with age.
  • Bromelain, a proteolytic enzyme, is the key to pineapple's value. Proteolytic means "breaks down protein", which is why pineapple is known to be a digestive aid. It helps the body digest proteins more efficiently. 
  •  Bromelain is also considered an effective anti-inflammatory.Regular ingestion of at least one half cup of fresh pineapple daily is purported to relieve painful joints common to osteoarthritis. It also produces mild pain relief.
  • Fresh pineapple is high in Vitamin C and because of the Bromelain, it has the ability to reduce mucous in the throat.  It is commonly used in Europe as a post-operative measure to cut mucous after certain sinus and throat operations.
  •  Pineapple is also known to discourage blood clot development. This makes it a valuable dietary addition for frequent fliers and others who may be at risk for blood clots.
  • An old folk remedy for morning sickness is fresh pineapple juice. My daughter-in-law said it really works! Fresh juice and some nuts first thing in the morning often make a difference.
  • It's also good for a healthier mouth. The fresh juice discourages plaque growth.
So, no matter how you cut it up, juice it or add it to salads and other cold dishes, fresh pineapple is a miracle fruit.  No wonder we like it so much. 

Let's put together some favorite recipes with ineapple to celebrate this tropical delight.  You can add your favorites in the comments or send them for future publication to info@HiddenValleyRV.net.


Teri Blaschke is the RV Park operator of family owned HiddenValley RV Park in San Antonio, TX and writer of the park blog “A Little Piece of Country in San Antonio.” Teri contributes to various other blogs with a focus on either travel or social media and how it relates to the outdoor hospitality industry but her passion is serving the RV travel community by providing a memorable RV camping experience and growing the Hidden Valley RV family.  Connect with , Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter@HiddenValleyRV and our RV Country Daily Magazine and don't forget to Say hello to the voice of Hidden Valley 



Onion Bombs

Summer time is finally here and that means camping and grilling outdoors.  Compact and easy meals are always our favorite so we have more time to spend together.  We've prepared these at home and frozen them, then packed them in the RV.  Put in the refrigerator on the morning you want to serve them and pop onto the coals about 30 minutes before you want to eat.  It's also a fun activity with young ones.  Line them up at the picnic table and set them to packin' the onions.
 

Ingredients:
large onions
ground meat (any variety - beef, turkey, venison, pork or a mixture)

seasonings to taste ( meatloaf style, taco type seasonings, italian seasonings)
grated cheese (or a little slice for each bomb) of your choice
tin foil

Onion bombs before cooking
Directions:
1. Peel your onions and cut them in half. If the onion is large it's sometimes possible to cut down only one side of the onion and have full circles to stuff.  Lay a slice of cheese in the onion cup or add some grated cheese to the ground meat.
2. Prepare your meatballs how you want them
3. Size your meatballs so that they can be squished between two pieces of onions. Some meat will push out the ends and that is okay.   Just make them as compact as possible.
4. Wrap each onion bomb in tinfoil-- either double them or use heavy duty foil since they'll be tossed in the fire.  Use tongs not a fork so you don't poke holes in the foil.
5. Toss in the fire and try to get them in the coals.
6. Cook for about 10 minutes, flip "em around and cook another 10 minutes or so.

Onion Bombs, theRVGourmet.blogspot.com

I've also made these in the oven on 375 degrees for about 30 minutes.  They make the whole house smell delicious.  Set atop a layer of tomato sauce they have a nice presentation. 

Ode of a Fish

This is not a recipe but involves cooking and opera and singing fish.  It is profoundly sad while being insanely genius and even somewhat comical.  Only three minutes and worth the jaw-dropping affect you feel from it's eeriness.  In the words of one of the comments to the video..."I may never eat anything with a face again."  Kudos to it's creator.  Probably made in their RV kitchen.  TeeHee!

Healthy Chicken and Spinach Flautas

Flautas at MiTierra's in downtown San Antonio are to die for and I've looked for years for a frozen brand to come close.  Although the store bought frozen ones will do in a pinch, I've searched the internet for a recipe that sounded fairly simple but with all the right ingredients.  This one is a combination of a couple that I liked with a few adaptations for healthiness and RV kitcheness.  

Prep Time: 15 minutes; Total Time: 45 minutes

Baked flautas stuffed with seasoned, shredded chicken, spinach, and cheese are crispy, but don’t have the greasiness of fried versions. 

                 Ingredients

Chicken and Spinach Flautas
They're actually better if you can roll them tighter like cigars
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless Chicken Thighs (about 4)
  • 16 ounces Beer (or chicken broth)
  • 2 cups Water
  • 1 teaspoon Paprika
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground Cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Chili Powder
  • 1 Pepper, minced, jalapeno or serrano
  • 3 cups Baby Spinach, chopped or 10oz frozen box, defrosted & squeezed of its liquids
  • 10 small Flour Tortillas
  • 6 ounces melting cheese, shredded
  • 1 tablespoon Olive Oil, or cooking spray

 

 

I use this everyday!

To shred poached chicken easily, I use my baby cuisinart food processor for a few seconds. Store-bought rotisserie chicken can be substituted for the poached chicken to save time. In a real pinch I've used canned chicken.

 Preparation

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Put the chicken in a deep sided saute pan and cover with the beer and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the chicken from the liquid and shred it. Mix together the chicken and seasonings.
  3. Pour out all but 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid. Add the jalapeno and spinach and cook over low heat until for 2-3 minutes, or until the spinach is wilted.
  4. Cut the tortillas in half. Spoon 1/10th of the chicken (about 1 tablespoon) along the long edge of a tortilla. Repeat with the spinach and cheese. Roll the tortilla up, starting with the straight edge. Place seam-side down on an oiled baking sheet. Repeat with remaining tortillas.
  5. Brush the flautas with olive oil or spray with cooking spray. Bake for 10 minutes, then turn them over and bake for until 10 minutes, or until crispy. Serve with salsa.
Yields 10 flautas.  Each flauta has approx. 180 calories, 9 grams fat, 6 grams carbs, 1 gram fiber, 18 grams protein


photo credit: Collin Harvey via photopin cc

S'mores Cookies

Seen these little gems all over the web and was dying to try them at one of our bonfires.  With summer in Texas, the chocolate is melted before you lay it on the marshmallow and we always lose half the marshmallows in the fire so these looked like the perfect solution. Very easy and the perfect combination of crispy and chewy.    
Source: Ice Cream Before Dinner

Ingredients:
11 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, packed
½ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon sea salt (regular salt will do)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 ½ cups flour
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup mini marshmallows
3 regular sized Hershey’s bars, broken into pieces
1-2 packages graham crackers, broken into squares

Instructions:
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, sea salt and cinnamon to combine. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter with white and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until combined.
Add the flour mixture to the butter mixer and combine on low speed.
Fold in the chocolate chips and marshmallows. Chill dough in refrigerator for 1 hour to overnight (I did one batch right away and another after chilling overnight and found there was no difference.)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line baking pans with parchment paper. I used one 11x17 pan and one 9x13 pan but you can really use any sized pans you want.
Lay out graham crackers side by side on the pans as close as possible (they should be touching). I used 16 graham cracker squares on one pan and 10 squares on another. You may have to add or remove graham crackers according to how much dough you have. If you want your cookies thicker you will use more dough and less graham crackers.

Place tablespoons of dough on graham crackers about 1 – 1 ½ inches apart. I averaged about 1 1/2 tablespoons of dough per graham cracker square as seen in the picture above. Press down slightly with fingertips.

Bake for 5 minutes then remove from oven to press Hershey’s bar pieces on to the top. You can place as many pieces or as little as you want depending how much chocolate flavor you want.

Bake for 5 – 7 more minutes or until dough is beginning to turn golden brown at the edges. Remove to a wire rack to cool. For clean cutting make sure cookies are completely cool and cut with a sharp knife.
 
On my next try I'm going to use pre-made chocolate cookie dough and see how they turn out.  If you beat me to it with the experiment, comment below and let me know how they turned out. 
What's your favorite variation on s'mores?  
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