Tag Archives: orange

Bar Stool Fridays – Easy Does It Smoothie

Avocados can be used for so much more than just guacamole.  Not that I don’t enjoy guacamole – I just don’t like to limit my enjoyment of avocados to merely being scooped up by tortilla chips.

Did you know that the avocado is considered a fruit, not a vegetable?  Many cultures serve avocados for dessert adding sugar to the fruit.  This is not something I eat all the time because I do like avocados with my savory foods, but I encourage you to keep an open mind.  I’ve enjoyed avocado ice cream and find it a delicious addition to fruit salads, however, I understand that it can be a big taste transition to someone who’s only served avocados with their tacos.

Here’s an easy way to combine a sweet taste with your avocado by adding pineapple and orange juice.  Besides, this recipe entails little risk since it just uses one avocado and is a smoothie so it is easy to share with fellow adventurous taster.  Sweet, creamy, and healthy!

Avocado Smoothie
Makes 1 large smoothie

1 small ripe avocado (pitted and removed from peel)
1/2 cup diced pineapple
1 1/2 Tbsp lime juice
1/2 – 3/4 cup orange juice
1  – 2 Tbsp agave syrup

Puree all ingredients in blender until smooth.  Adjust the amounts of  juice and agave syrup depending on your preference for taste and texture.

Pour into glass and serve right away.

Tips for selecting fresh avocados:

The best way to tell if an avocado is ready for immediate use is to gently squeeze the fruit in the palm of your hand.  Ripe, ready-to-eat fruit is firm yet yields slightly to gentle pressure.  The color doesn’t tell you enough about ripeness – the Hass avocado will turn darker as it ripens, but other varieties remain light-green even when ripe.  Avoid avocados with dark blemishes on the skin (like many in the above picture) or overly soft flesh.

If you don’t want to serve avocados for a couple of days, purchase hard, unripened fruit.  I find that leaving the avocados on my kitchen counter is adequate for ripening, but some folks swear by the process of putting the fruit in a paper bag and adding an apple or banana to help it ripen faster.

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Bar Stool Fridays – Mango Citrus Cooler

So, if you caught my post yesterday, you probably understand why I’m avoiding alcohol.  So for the next few weeks, things will probably look different here on Fridays.

That doesn’t mean I don’t still want to enjoy happy hour on Fridays, though.  I can still pull out my cocktail shaker and mix up some drinks for me and the teetotalers I know.  That way we don’t feel like we are missing out on all the fun.  And, if I can get an infusion of Vitamin C, all the better.

Mango Citrus Cooler
Makes 1 drink

5 ounces mango nectar
2 1/2 ounces orange juice
1 Tbsp lime juice
club soda
orange wedge for garnish, optional
lime wedge for garnish, optional

In an ice-filled shaker, combine mango nectar, orange juice, and lime juice.  Shake well.  Strain into a tall glass filled with crushed ice.  Top off with club soda.  Garnish with citrus fruit.

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Filed under Cocktails

Bun in the Oven

Perhaps you have noticed that I haven’t posted to the blog in quite a while.  Well, at least I hope you’ve noticed.  I’ve missed all of you and I’ve missed my kitchen, too.

I’m not here to offer excuses, but more of an explanation.  Turns out Mr. Cook in a Bar and I are expecting a baby.

As good as this news is for the Cook in the Bar family, for several months this expected baby didn’t really want me to have much to do with cooking or eating or writing.  In fact, she made me feel downright sick most of the time.  Ugh.  This wasn’t a very helpful development for someone who spends her days thinking of and attempts to earn her living through food.

For now, however, I am pleased to announce that future Baby in a Bar and I have reached an uneasy detente.  I am feeling much better and I am attempting to return to my normal activities.

Okay, mostly normal activities.  You’ll probably notice a slight change to Bar Stool Fridays (sigh) and I’m sure my cravings will be clearly illustrated by upcoming entries between now and my expected due date of July.

Sorry for the cliched title, but I hope you can enjoy these literal buns in the oven.  They hit several craving high points for me – oranges, cinnamon, and of course, baked goods.

Sticky Orange Cinnamon Buns
Makes one dozen

For Dough:
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/4 cup warm milk (about 110 degrees F), divided
1/2 cup sugar, divided
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 Tbsp grated orange peel
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
5 – 6 cups all purpose flour

For Glaze:
1 cup packed brown sugar
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup orange juice
1 Tbsp grated orange peel
1 cup chopped pecans

For Filling:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon

Start by working on the dough.  Combine yeast, 1/4 cup milk, and dash of sugar in small bowl.  Let stand until foamy.

In a large bowl, beat remaining milk, remaining sugar, butter, orange peel, and vanilla until well blended.  Gently add yeast mixture.

Beat in eggs one at a time until well blended.

Stir in salt and cinnamon.  Add flour 1 cup at a time and stir to combine.  Add flour until smooth but still slightly sticky.  Please note the amount of flour depends on things like your measuring style and the humidity levels of your work area.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for about 3 minutes or until smooth and elastic.

Place in a large greased bowl and cover.  Let rise at room temperature until doubled in size, probably 60 to 90 minutes.

Meanwhile, lightly grease a 13×9-inch baking pan and set aside.

Stir together all glaze ingredients, except for pecans, in a medium saucepan.

Bring to a boil and let bubble over medium heat until slightly thickened, maybe 3 or 4 minutes.

Stir in pecans.  Moving quickly, but carefully, pour glaze into prepared pan.  Spread it out evenly with a spatula or spoon.

Beat all filling ingredients together until smooth.

Once dough has risen to double in size, turn it out again onto a floured surface.  Gently roll into a 18×9-inch rectangle.

Spread filling over entire surface of dough.

Starting with long edge, tightly roll dough into a long cylinder, pressing edge to seal.

With a sharp knife, cut into 12 even slices.

Place slices, cut-side up, into pan.

Cover and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size, probably 60 to 90 minutes.

Bake in preheated 350 degree F oven for about 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Cool in pan on wire rack for about 10 minutes.

With a knife, gently loosen edge of buns from side of pan.  Line a baking sheet with wax (or parchment) paper.  Place that baking sheet on top of the pan and invert.

Cool buns for at lest 15 minutes before serving.

The buns are best served on day of baking, but they can keep for a couple of days if they are kept tightly wrapped in wax paper surrounded by foil.


Filed under Bread, Breakfast, Personal

Bar Stool Fridays – Autumn Sangria

My husband and I recently visited my parents in Laredo, Texas.  Now, not to rub it in or anything, but the weather was pretty great.  Sunny.  Warm, but not hot.  Not humid.  Pretty great.

I was in the mood for a beverage with fall flavors, but I wanted to drink something refreshing that would be nice over ice…a drink for us to enjoy as we sat in the sun on the patio by the pool.

Autumn Sangria
Makes 8 servings

1 orange, sliced
1 apple, diced
1 lemon, sliced
1 bottle full-bodied and fruity red wine
1/2 cup brandy
4 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
3 – 4 Tbsp orange simple syrup (see note below)

Add fruit to pitcher.

Pour in wine and brandy.  Add cloves and cinnamon stick.  Add simple syrup and stir.

Serve over ice.

To make orange simple syrup combine 1 1/2 cups sugar with 3/4 cup water in a small saucepan.  Add 1 Tbsp of orange zest and stir.  Simmer over medium heat until sugar dissolved and syrup is slightly thickened.  It will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for several weeks.

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Bar Stool Fridays – Cure for What Ails Ya

After a week of alcohol related posts, I thought it appropriate to provide a recipe for when you’ve been having much too good a time with too much of a good thing.  You know what I’m talking about here, right?

Yep, that’s right.  Hangovers.  Ugh.

I’d like to say that now that I’m older it never happens to me, but that would be a lie.  I sometimes lose track and overindulge.  Nothing horrible, mind you, but it has its impact, nonetheless.

I always enjoy hearing about what works for folks the morning after a night of revelry.  Is it a sports drink and reality TV?  Drive-through breakfast and Diet Coke?  Bloody Marys with your ham and eggs?  The raw egg in your Prairie Oyster drink?  I also get a kick out of reading recipes for archaic methods like the classic “corpse reviver” cocktails that basically just prolong your inebriation, like a combination of brandy, applejack, and sweet vermouth.

What causes the pain of a hangover?  Your body is suffering from dehydration and malnutrition.  Alcohol saps your body of water and drains it of its supply of vitamins and nutrients.

My strategy is to avoid a hangover from the start.  Yeah, I know that the obvious solution is to drink in moderation, but …well, you know.  So, anyway, I find that trying to consume a lot of water helps me to stay hydrated.  I drink water both before partaking of alcohol and during the consumption.  I also try to eat, especially something with sugar.  Dessert, anyone?  This helps slow the absorption of alcohol in my body.

The next day I try to drink even more water, but I also find some bubbles (carbonation) can soothe my stomach.  My mother swears by Lemon Schwepps.  While I also enjoy the flavor of bitters and club soda, if I’m feeling ambitious or I have a sympathetic bartender, I try to go for a bit of Vitamin C, too.  It goes great with breakfast tacos, which are a part of my favorite morning after meal.

Spicy Campari and Orange Juice
Makes 1 drink

1 ounce Campari (bitter orange liqueur)
2 ounces orange juice
1/2 oz chile pepper infused simple syrup (see below)
3 to 5 ounces of chilled club soda

Combine Campari, juice, and simple syrup in an ice-filled shaker.  Shake well.  Strain into an ice-filled glass.  Top with club soda.

Sip slowly and take off those sunglasses.

Chile Pepper Infused Simple Syrup – Regular readers of this blog may have figured out by now that I always have some simple syrup on hand.  It is indeed simple so there is no reason not to.  In a small saucepan, combine equal parts water and sugar (1 cup is easy) over medium  heat.  Stir until sugar is dissolved.  If you want to flavor your syrup, say with chile peppers or lemon or ginger, add the pieces now and let it simmer for just a minute.

Turn off the heat and let the syrup cool and the flavors infuse.  Strain out the addition before using.  It can be stored in a covered container in your refrigerator for a couple of weeks, so you can always have some on hand to flavor your cocktails.

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Clear Out the Cranberries

I’ve talked about Thanksgiving leftovers for several posts, and I was quite pleased with myself for so efficiently using all the bits that remained from our feast.  One dish was a bit of a challenge to reinvent, however – the cran-orange-apple relish.  I can only eat it for so long before my palate tires of the tartness.

I knew there had to be a way to turn it into a baked good, but I wasn’t sure how the consistency of the relish would effect the consistency of the batter.  Would I be able to figure out the ratios of dry ingredients to wet?  So, I turned to my cookbooks and the interweb for help.

Inspired by a recipe on the Washington Post’s website and a spiral bound cookbook I inherited from my grandmother, I came up with this…

Cranberry Relish Muffins with Orange Glaze
Makes 12 to 14 muffins

1 1/4 cup leftover relish
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup roughly chopped pecans

For glaze:
1/8 cup orange juice
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp orange zest

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray a 12-cup muffin tin, or 6 cup large muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.

To make muffins, combine the relish, sugar, oil, vanilla extract, and eggs in a large bowl.  Stir to combine.

Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl, then stir into relish mixture.
Add the chopped pecans and mix.
Fill muffin tin and bake on middle rack of oven for 25 to 30 minutes until tester comes out clean.
Let cool for about 10 minutes in tin, and then using a butter knife, loosen from the pan and finish cooling on a wire rack.
To make the glaze, combine orange juice, powdered sugar, and zest in a small bowl.  Smooth out any lumps and drizzle/spread on top of each muffin.
Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Filed under Bread, Breakfast, Thanksgiving

A Tale of Two Side Dishes

I didn’t see a can of jellied cranberry sauce on the Thanksgiving table until I was an adult.  I must admit I thought it was a bit of a joke.  However, I have come to realize that it is a comfort food to some people and a strong part of their holiday tradition.  My husband is one of those people.  He firmly believes that not only must our meal include a can of jellied cranberry sauce, but it we should not destroy the ridges formed by the can for the sake of presentation.

Last year, our first Thanksgiving as a married couple, he performed a small ritual to open the can.  Apparently, you must ease the jelled sauce out of the can oh-so-slowly, so it can maintain its nature defying shape, including the ridges of the inside of the can.  There was also discussion about the noise that the sauce makes as it makes its complete descent from the can.  I’m not even sure how to spell the sound I heard…How could I deny him this pleasure?

So, the jellied cranberry sauce will once again be making an appearance this Thanksgiving.  But, because I don’t like it, we will also have a cranberry relish.  Yes, I could make a homemade cranberry sauce… 1 bag cranberries, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water…cook until saucy.  But, I grew up with a relish on the table.  A cranberry orange relish to be exact.  Dad made it every year.   After several years of cranberry experimentation as I hosted by own Thanksgivings, I have decided to revisit an old stand-by…with an addition (apple) to make it my own.

Cran-Orange-Apple Relish

1 orange (I used navel)
1/2 apple (I used Pink Lady)
12 oz bag fresh cranberries
1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar, depending on taste

Cut and peel the orange, and remove the segments from their membranes.  I just used my hands to peel it apart in large chunks and dropped it in a food processor.  Add most of the zest from the orange.

Peel, seed, and chop the apple.  I just used half, but the whole apple will work, too.  Add it to the food processor.
Sprinkle on about 1/4 cup sugar, and pulse it with the fruit.  Give it a taste to see if it needs more sugar.  Even if you think you like things sweet, it is better to start with less sugar and add as you go.  You can’t take it away once it is in there.  Plus, if you use a sweeter apple, like Pink Lady, you will likely need less added sweetener.
Luckily, cranberries are highly acidic.  Why is that lucky?  Well, those acids discourage the growth of bacteria and that means that your relish will keep for quite a while in the fridge.  And, that means you can make this easy relish in advance before you feel overwhelmed by other holiday tasks.

Happy Thanksgiving!  Gobble…gobble!


Filed under Thanksgiving