“Carrot Cake” Chutney (Topping for Cream Cheese & Crackers)

Carrot Cake Chutney served on atop crackers and whipped cream cheese

(Becky, The Mama)

I named my wonderful daughter “Rachel,”  after my wonderful sister Rachel St. John-Gilbert. 

My sister Rachel, with my grandson Georgie, on our Girlfriend Getaway to Seattle

Little did I know when my baby girl was born,  that one day she and my sister and I would all write books. My sister’s newest book has just been released: The Well-Lived Laugh: Designing a Life that Keeps You Smiling.  I think it is her best book to date. You’ll laugh, you’ll be inspired, you’ll let go of unnecessary pressures. Just trust me. Buy it or download it (click on picture of book, below,  to go to Amazon), beg or borrow it.  Or enter to win a copy right here. (Details to follow.)

KINDLE EDITION JUST $2.99 TODAY ONLY

My sister describes herself as an “offbeat observer who uses her wit to weave together comic takes on the ordinary.” I can testify that she is a connoisseur of life’s small joys, squeezing every drop of happiness from any tiny, remotely fun or interesting experience.  Here is a picture that my grandson George took of my sister on a recent trip to Seattle. This was our first stop, a quiet Asian tea house down the street from Pike’s Market.  I swear, she’d only had one sip of a mild jasmine tea. But leave it to my sister to find it a euphoric experience.

My sister in joyous rapture after a sip of green tea. (Julie, my daughter-in-law laughs and looks on. My grandson George, age 5, snapped the picture!)

I love receiving presents from my sister Rachel, because she thinks of the most unusual, wonderful, slighty quirky gifts.  For my birthday this year she gave me a little battery-powered milk foamer and a tiny Vietnamese coffee maker. (Which she promises to show me how to operate someday.)  She may send adorable comical napkins for me to use at my next party,  or a unique and tasty gourmet treat. One year on my birthday, she mailed me pretty jar of something called Carrot Cake Jam. Or was it Carrot Cake Chutney? Anyway, whatever it was called, it was AMAZING. Rach told me to put some cream cheese on a cracker, top it with the carrot mixture, and wait for my mouth to get very happy. So I did as I was told and about twenty minutes later, there was nothing left in the jar. Years later, I would sometimes think about that “perfect bite” of sweet-piquant cinnamon and slighty crunchy carroty-raisin goodness, mixed with the smooth salty flavor of cream cheese and crackers….   and feel sad that I’d probably never come across a jar of that yummy Carrot Cake Watchamacallit ever again.

Then last night I decided to create, to the best of my ability, a similar version.  Eureka!  I did it!  This stuff is amazing on crackers, but also a fun carrot cake “mix-in” for yogurt or ice cream or atop almond buttered toast.  An easy and unique treat to serve at your next party or bring to a hostess. . 

Now, before I forget: For a chance to win my sister’s new book, simply leave a comment below letting us know that you re-tweeted or pinned or facebooked this post (or any other you like from our blog), or liked my sister’s fan page. We’ll put your name in “the bowl” and pick the lucky winner to be announced next week.

Carrot Cake Chutney

Carrot Cake Chutney

Makes about 1 1/4 cups

Ingredients

5 medium sized carrots (preferably organic) peeled and chopped into 1 inch pieces

1/3 cup well drained crushed pineapple

1/3 cup agave nectar

1 T. brown sugar

Pinch salt

½ t. vanilla

2 t. cinnamon

3 T. raisins

2 T. white vinegar

Directions:

Process carrots in a food processor or blender until they are about the size of oatmeal flakes, small and just a little bit chunky.

 

Processed carrots to a tiny dice

Mix the carrots with all the ingredients above and simmer in a skillet on medium low for about 5-8 minutes or until the carrots are tender-crisp and the syrup is thick and reduced by at least half, most of it absorbed into the carrots and raisins. (With only a tablespoon or two of syrup remaining in pan.) If you’d like your chutney to have a bit more kick to it, add another teaspoon of vinegar or a squeeze of fresh lemon, once you’ve removed the pan from the burner. Cool and put in a tightly covered container in the fridge to let the flavors mingle and intensify. Serve cold with a small spoon, along side a plate of crackers and a small bowl of whipped cream cheese. 

 

 

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: “Carrot Cake” Chutney
The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-BY
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved


Killer Chipotle & Roasted Pepper Salsa (with a Side of Relational Advice)

Sometimes life is funny, and sometimes, not so much.  “Mama said there’d be days like this,” and for days like this you need three things: a good friend, some good clear-the-air advice, and some comfort food. Then, before too long, life can be funny again.

A single girlfriend and I were talking this morning about toxic relationships. Particularly we were pondering the differences between normal friends who are in a temporary season of pain who deserve and need our empathy, patience and compassion;  versus toxic friends whose problems are unending and sap all the energy and joy out of every minute we spend with them, like an Emotional Hoover.

We came up with the 3 B’s that signal it might be time to Back Away from a Relationship.  Red flags, we decided,  are:

1. Belittling — when a person makes you feel small, talks down to you, uses superior tones

2. Blaming — when the person’s default mode is always to blame someone else and never takes any responsibility for their part in bad situations. If someone is constantly blaming others or the universe or God for their problems, it won’t be long before they are blaming and attacking you.

3. Black-Hole — normal people have seasons of neediness and self-focus following tragedy or during illness or stress; but toxic people are walking black holes of ever-growing, never-ceasing, and always-changing need

Having discussed relationship sticky-wickets to our mutual satisfaction, we turned the conversation to comfort food.  In fact, we discussed the perfect food for washin’ a crazy-making friend or a bad day right out of our mind.  In her book, Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert quoted someone’s grandmother as saying, “There’s no trouble in this world so serious that it can’t be cured with a hot bath, a glass of whiskey, and the Book of Common Prayer.”  I agree with the hot bath and Book of Common Prayer, but my preferred comfort beverage would be a frosty margarita alongside  a big bowl of spicy, chunky, smoky, colorful homemade salsa and chips.

And it just so happens that I make the best chunky smoky salsa in the universe. (Ditto on the margs… but that is for another post, another time.)  When my daughter Rachel had her baby this past summer,  I made salsa day after day because her husband Jared loves salsa and chips like only a Texas boy can. This gave me a chance to perfect my recipe, and this is the best of the best!

So come to Mama for the recipe, then whip up a quart of this brain-cleansing salsa, grab some chips and your fave margarita, find a spot in the sun, chill out and let the stress fall away.

Life is hard enough,  your salsa should be easy.  This version is oh so forgiving, allowing lots of variations to the basic recipe.

Everyone I serve this to asks for the recipe, so be prepared to share! (Also usually makes enough to send some home with your grateful guests.)

Becky’s Killer Chipotle & Roasted Pepper Salsa

Ingredients:

Makes about a Quart of Salsa

Into a food processor or blender put:

1/2 of a  28 oz can organic crushed fire roasted tomatoes (save the other half to add later)
1/2 red onion
1 fresh tomato, quartered
2 garlic cloves, peeled
* 3 small peppers (yellow, orange and red) roasted (see picture below)
(Alternatives: If roasted hatch chilis are in season, these are delicious replacements or additions! Or you can use a couple of roasted peppers from a jar,  small can green chilies,  or roast some tomatillos.)
A nice  palm full of cilantro (if you like it)
2 large fresh jalapenos, seeded; 1 if you prefer milder (you can substitute pickled jalapenos as well)
**2 chipotle peppers in adobe sauce (1 if you prefer milder)
(You can find these small cans of chipotles-in-adobe-sauce in most grocery stores now, on the Mexican food aisle; see picture below.)
2 T. white vinegar
2 t. sugar
sea salt to taste
1/2 fresh lime, squeezed
1 t. smoked paprika (this just adds to the smokiness, but is not essential)
Directions:
Process until mixtures has the consistency you like for salsa. Then stir in the rest of the crushed tomatoes which will give it a nice chunky texture.
Check seasonings once more. Grab a bag of chips, a margarita and enjoy.  This makes a lot, so I often freeze half to use at a later time.

*I put three small peppers on my gas flame (set to high)  and roast them while I’m tossing the rest of the ingredients into the blender, turning as they blacken.  Simply scrape off most of the blackened skin (I use a damp paper towel for this job),  seed them and pop in the blender.  You can also halve them and broil them if you don’t have a gas burner.

Roasting small tri-colored peppers on a gas burner

** Here’s what a can of chipotle peppers in adobe sauce looks like.  These babies are strong, and I often only use one or two, so I pop the rest (along with the sauce) in a small freezer bag and store them in the freezer.  When I need one I just cut off what I need.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Killer Chipotle & Roasted Pepper Salsa
The URL: https://welaughwecrywecook.com/2012/03/28/killer-chipotle-roasted-pepper-salsa-with-a-side-of-relational-advice
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved