Category Archives: Food

Albanese Candy

In 2014 – 2015 when I was working on my original 50 “new things”, visiting the Albanese Candy Factory in Merrillville, IN was on my list but I never made it. My travels between Indianapolis and Chicago were for work and/or were with fellow travelers more interested in the destination than the journey.

So the candy factory made my “crazy list” as in, “you are crazy if you think that will happen…”

Now 2018 provides an opportunity. My oldest son accompanies me from Indianapolis to pick up my youngest son at Loyola University Chicago and bring him home for summer break. I am blessed that my boys are willing to indulge me and make the short detour to visit the factory.

This place is massive and we only see the gift shop. Albanese manufactures the “world’s best” gummies and chocolates.

In addition to making gummies and chocolates, Albanese Candy seems to sell every candy imaginable. This includes nuts and trail mixes. We peek into the factory through viewing windows to see gummies being made. There are also videos explaining how they make gummies and chocolate candies.

Reminds us of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory! We leave with gummi bears and some chocolate favorites like peanut butter buckeyes and coconut haystacks. Yum! This is definitely worth the detour and we hope to return.

Remember, it can be about the destination and the journey!

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New Riff Distillery

I am in Cincinnati for meetings and our meeting host arranges a couple tours for local experiences. I choose a tour of the New Riff Distillery in Newport, KY.

It is interesting to hear about making whiskey. The distillery’s name has musical inspiration to indicate their new spin on the old song of making Kentucky bourbon.

We see how they grind up corn (from Indiana of course), barley and rye to make the mash that will be fermented and distilled.

They use water from their well to make the mash in large vats.

Then begins the fermenting process. We stick our fingers in to taste!

Our tour guide looses me at the distillation process as he shows us the tower where this magical step takes place. It’s OK – I was not planning to try this at home!

Earlier in the tour, someone asked when they opened which was a few years ago. As we continue through the tour and hear about the barrel aging process, I do the math and realize that we won’t be tasting their bourbon today. We are given samples of spirits and gin. Interesting!

We should all try to enjoy local experiences when on business travel. Cheers!

Tea Blending Experience

Are you a coffee or tea drinker? Tea is my drink of choice and I’m fairly knowledgeable about various teas and their health benefits. Honestly, I’ve become a bit of a snob about my tea and definitely prefer brewing loose tea over using purchased teabags.

A new tea shop recently opened in our neighborhood and I’ve been intrigued by their tea blending classes. I am always able to talk myself out of taking the time or money to treat myself to this, however. So I am pleased when a staff member gets me a gift certificate for the tea blending experience for Christmas. I get to try another “new thing”.

It takes about 6 weeks to organize this event on my calendar but I finally arrive at my tea blending class. We hear some history of tea and the health benefits of the various ingredients on our table to blend with our tea.

We have scales to measure 1 ounce of a tea base: black, green or green rooibos. Then we can add various ingredients and taste the tea until we have a blend that is our “cup of tea”.

The class provides for two 2-ounce bags of our blended tea creation. There are so many intriguing ingredients to blend with the tea bases. There are cards on each ingredient that list health benefits and suggest pairings. Available ingredients include: chamomile, hibiscus, lavender, rose petals, safflower, lemongrass, peppermint, spearmint, allspice, star anise, cocoa nibs, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and rainbow peppercorns. There is also bee pollen, licorice root and stevia for natural sweeteners.

I make a green rooibos blend with cocoa nibs and cinnamon chips and name it Mexican Green Rooibos. My green tea blend is blended with lavender, rose petals and cardamom and I name this blend Floral Green. I think they are both delicious!

What drink is your proverbial “cup of tea”?

Moroccan Spice Blend

I am intrigued by this recipe from Rachael Ray for Moroccan Spice Blend and decide to make it my next “new thing”.  I have all the ingredients in my pantry.  (If you look closely, you’ll see a 2008 expiration date on one spice jar.  I refill my jars with herbs bought in bulk at Good Earth natural foods so my spices are not expired!)

  • 2 Tablespoons Paprika
  • 1 Tablespoon ground Turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons ground Ginger
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons ground Cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground Allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground Black Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground Cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon ground Coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground Cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Cayenne

 


You simply combine the ingredients and store in a container with a sealed lid.


My first experiment with the spice blend is Balsamic-roasted pork tenderloin, one of the most saved recipes on allrecipes.com.  I put equal parts olive oil and balsamic vinegar in a measuring cup and add 2 tablespoons spice blend.

Next I put the pork in a Ziploc bag and added the marinade mixture.  Marinate the pork 2 hours to overnight.  When you are  ready to cook the pork, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Put the pork in a 9×13 glass dish and pour in the marinade.


Roast, basting every 15 minutes until an instant read thermometer registers 145 degrees, about 1 hour for pork tenderloin, longer for a larger pork loin.  


The spice blend provides lovely flavors.  Enjoy!

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Chicken and Red Lentil Soup 

I love our local natural food store, Good Earth.  I’ve found a lot of my “new things” by browsing their shelves, nooks and crannies. In the bulk section, I noticed red lentils when refreshing my supplies of dried beans and rice.  Consequently, I’ve been looking for a simple recipe using red lentils while looking like something my family would enjoy eating.

I found this recipe in Every Day with Rachael Ray magazine and it is a keeper

 Chicken and red lentil soup


First, you cook the onion, garlic and ginger in oil.  Then you stir in the lentils, stock and water.  Bring to a boil.  

Add the chicken and cook 5 to 7 minutes.  

Transfer the chicken to a plate.  Let cool and chop into bite-sized pieces.  

Stir the coconut milk, spices and chard into the soup and season.  Cook about 5 minutes until the flavors meld.  

Stir in the chicken.  Enjoy!

Turkey Meatloaf in Baked Beans

So I’m stretching the definition of “new” this week just to have some type of blog post.  It’s been a while since I posted anything (an Indy car ride at the office Christmas party) and I noticed that I’m not looking for new recipes or ingredients or thinking about trying new things. 

Two years ago when I challenged myself to do 50 new things my 50th year, the months I really struggled were in January and February. In the Midwest, these are months to stay cozy inside and eat warm comfort food.  It’s not the time to go outside doing new things or searching for unusual ingredients. 

I’ve made this recipe before and it’s a family hit.  I’m calling it a “new thing” because the combination of meatloaf and baked beans is new to me and I was intrigued enough to try the recipe. I found the recipe in Every Day with Rachael Ray magazine. 

Start by cutting 4 strips of bacon into pieces and crisping the pieces in a skillet.  Chop 4 scallions and add them to 2 cans of baked beans in a casserole dish.  Stir in the crisped bacon and a spoonful of the drippings.

The meatloaf is made with ground turkey and several other ingredients. Whiz 1 cup seasoned stuffing cubes in a food processor. Put them in a large bowl and add some milk to moisten. Add the turkey and mix in 1/4 cup chopped parsley, 1 egg, 3-4 Tablespoons ketchup, 3-4 Tablespoons finely chopped onion, 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, 2 Tablespoons spicy mustard, 2 Tablespoons olive oil, 1 Tablespoon brown sugar and 2 large cloves garlic, chopped.  The recipe also calls for fresh thyme and sage but I have challenges using up fresh herbs and only used fresh parsley. 

Lightly form the mixture into 4 loaves and nestle them among the baked beans. Bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes.  


Even with a long list of ingredients, the recipe is ready to serve in under an hour.  Winter comfort food with a twist!

Sausage-Apple Dutch Baby

My next “New Thing” comes out of desperation to use up shipments of Harry and David pears from my generous father-in-law.  The first box contained 12 pears and then we received a treat basket with 5 more…

What to do with so many pears?

This recipe from Midwest Living magazine caught my eye since I’ve never made (or had) Dutch baby pancakes before.  The recipe calls for apples but I figure pears will work when one has a surplus.  

  • 3 ounces fully cooked smoked chicken-apple sausage, sliced crosswise
  • 3 1/2 Tablespoons butter, divided
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 medium red cooking apple, cored and thinly sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons maple syrup 

  

Cook the sausage in 1 1/2 Tablespoons butter using a cast iron or oven safe skillet.  In a medium bowl, beat eggs well.  Add flour, milk, granulated sugar, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon, whisking vigorously. 

Pour the pancake batter over the sausage.  Transfer to an oven preheated to 425 degrees and bake for about 15 minutes, until browned and puffy.

While the Dutch Baby is cooking in the oven, cook the fruit, pears in this case, in the remaining butter.  Cook for about 5 minutes until the fruit is browning on the edges.  Add brown sugar and maple syrup, cooking 2 – 3 minutes more.  

Serve the Dutch Baby topped with the cooked fruit.  The finished product is so tasty.  I would definitely make this again.  Any recipes for the rest of the pears??