Saturday, December 28, 2013

Mama Caruso Goes Public...Television, that is...

Bringing food and travel....
from my table to yours...
  Hey Everybody! I am writing today to tell you about my upcoming public television series On Q Latitudes airing on Fridays in January at 8:00 pm Central time. Join me, your host as we explore and celebrate cultures, traditions and stories from people who are from other countries and are now living in our communities. Learn about their hope and dreams, their struggles and opportunities, and what brought their families to the United States. Each show is 30 minutes and features my guests, my guest co-hosts along with photos, factoids, music, food and even questions asked by our viewing audience. Come and celebrate the culture and traditions and heritage of our neighbors, friends and families on On Q Latitudes beginning Friday January 3rd at 8:00 pm Central time. For those of you out of our viewing range, the series will be available on-line, for more viewing onformation go to: http://www.ksmq.org/ or join the conversation at:   KSMQ Public TV Facebook

Guest Co-Host, Luke Sperduto with Sabrina and Eddie Devine
share stories and traditions about the country of Togo with
On Q Latitudes Host, Kathy Stutzman

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Cooking Mash-up a Fun Family Cooking Competition

My team selected these letters
for ingredients....hmmm...N?
What happens when a fun-loving, cooking, crazy group of friends and family come together to celebrate birthdays, reunions and just plain and simple time together? Well in our friends and family group it looks a little like a mash up between a Bobby Flay's Throwdown,  Next Food Network Star (Family edition), Chopped, Iron Chef and Supermarket Showdown, then throw in a little bit of Master Chef  Kids, Top Chef and Comeback Kitchen and you have our Saturday afternoon and evening fun.

Today we are undertaking our own version of all of these competitions thrown in together, with the game of Scrabble thrown in. Scrabble?                                                              Really? Yep!
Ohhh, there are some REALLY great
letters in there...I want a G

This weekend our youngest daughter came home from college for the first time in her Freshman year and there were a lot of people who wanted to gather to see her, so I decided to throw her a party. Now it just so happened that this Saturday is also the birthday of one of my friends and her youngest son, and they are good friends with our youngest daughter...the planning begins...and they want to host the party at their house...

My friend's husband loves to cook and really loves to create great food. Last year we began cooking some fun things together check out this link for one of those events: A Fun Prom Dinner, so he started to hatch a really fun plan....and here's where we are today in the middle of competition...
  • Seven of us ranging in age from 64-14 met at the grocery store and drew teams of 2-3 people;
  • Waiting for their assignments, several other family teams were ready for the texts that would give them their instructions;
  • Each team drew 4 Scrabble letters (consonants only);
  • Each team has to buy four ingredients beginning with their 4 letters that will be used to create an appetizer, side dish and entree;
  • We had 30 minutes to shop;
  • Before the cooking begins, all of the purchased ingredients will be divided up among the teams using a lottery system, so we may not end up with the ingredients we purchased;
  • We will have 90 minutes to make a delicious meal worthy of all of the guests who be arriving at 6:00;
  • When the cooking begins, we will have use of a pantry and can send our sous chefs to the store to add a few supplemental ingredients;
  • The family teams that began offsite won't have to trade their ingredients and will bring their dishes prepared and ready to go;
  • Did I mention this was a competition? We will have scoring sheets and prizes And we will have a great time cooking in the kitchen and enjoying all of the fun...can't wait to start cooking!
Veal, tomatoes, lentils and noodles, a nice basket
but we may not end up with these ingredients
by the time the cooking begins...
Stay posted for the results of the cooking competition. If you are interested in having some fun at home, e-mail me and I will send you the complete rules and instructions. From my table to yours...enjoy...Mama Caruso





Sunday, November 10, 2013

Fond Shore Memories

Savoring the Shore is now available through www.savoringtheshore.com and through Amazon, and Mama Caruso has a story on page 73! All proceeds benefit Hurricane Sandy relief. From my table to yours...

This thank you is from the fantastic two women who coordinated this monumental effort - Cheryl and Kate, "Thank you again so much for participating."

Thank YOU Cheryl and Kate for putting this project together, the photos are beautiful, the stories heartwarming and the recipes look delicious, I can't wait to start cooking and create a fond shore memory for my family in the midwest!

All of the ingredients for a
perfect mid-west
lobster bake
 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

What do you do when your plans go up in smoke…literally?

Could this be the end of  a wonderful dinner party?
Sage advice says to post happy and pretty pictures on a food and travel blog, but my blog is about making food and travel accessible to all and sometimes that means fessing up to mistakes and sharing recovery strategies. Things happen in real life and I write for real people who need real life solutions. Dinner a few nights ago offered me the perfect opportunity to strategize real solutions real fast about what happens when everything (at least the main course) goes up in smoke.

 When people come to eat at my house it is always an event. I love cooking for others, I enjoy creating an event, using themes, experimenting with new foods and recipes and then offering a playful presentation or some interactive eating experience. Sometimes that means creatively elevating bratwurst and burgers by changing it up and having a South African Braii, or an Argentinian Asado or perhaps taking common foods and putting them in fancy bowl or presenting them on an elegant platter...something that makes my guests feel special.


For me the fun begins with the invitation, knowing who will attend helps me plan the meal, knowing how far I can push their taste buds, or what they don’t like, I enjoy making certain that at least one thing that I know that they love is served at some point in the evening, and it may not be food – it could be playing a favorite game or a having a special coffee, or their favorite music, something that makes my guests feel special.

So how special do you think my guests felt when I pulled this chicken off the grill? Everything was ready, caramelized brussel sprouts in bacon, sweet potato rosemary chips, and the cornbread was warm enough to melt butter and cool enough to not burn your mouth. All that was missing was the chicken which was going to be served hot off the grill. I am still not sure what happened but when I went to take the chicken off the grill it was on fire and burned for several minutes after I turned off the gas…this is when I moved into salvage mode.

In a split second twenty options went through my mind and my guests added a few more, all of which included NOT ingesting more than the lifetime amount of charcoal, here are some of the choices:

·         Serve what was ready, there was bacon in the brussel sprouts, so  we had a protein and the meal would have been plenty – had I gone with that option, I would have pulled a few pickles out of the fridge and added a little pickle tray in a pretty bowl;
·         A chips and salsa plate would have been a nice compliment to the meal;
·         I had some leftover chili which would have added a nice balance with tomato and spice;
·         Adding some extras to elevate the cornbread; cutting up jalapenos, shredding some cheese, offering maple syrup and a fig jelly so that there would be several different ways to enjoy the cornbread in addition to the grape jelly and honey already on the table;
·         Slicing up an apple and cheddar cheese and serving on a cutting board;
·         A small meat and cheese platter with salami and monterey jack cheese;
·         Serving the dessert (homemade turtles) with dinner to distract the diners…

After checking with my guests, we had all been in the mood for something grilled, although there was some trepidation about letting me back out on the grill again, so I opened my freezer and found enough bratwursts to cook.  While they defrosted in the microwave, I boiled a mixture of 1 cup of beer to 1 cup of water, sliced up 2 onions and dropped the brats and onions into the boiling mixture until they were cooked (about 8 minutes). I placed them on a hot griddle on my stove to create a “grilled” taste and voila, dinner was finally ready!  The entire recovery effort took 15 minutes, and we used that time to catch up with our friends.

A good attitude can really turn around a bad situation
What I realized within minutes after the discovery of the disaster on the grill was that my reaction to the disaster would be the difference between salvaging the evening or not. While the brats cooked, we put fun mustards and condiments on the table to dress up the “plan b” option, and had some fun with it. My guests were more important than my ego. Having a fun time together was far more important than having a “perfect” time together. And while I like being known as a good cook, I much rather love having a home where people feel special. That is all in the attitude…burnt chicken, perfect chicken…it does not matter…it is about creating opportunities for people to feel special.


While I hope that all of your meals are perfect, don’t sweat if they are not, there are always options – I had 8 easy options, but it all began with a choice to have a good attitude, and you can make that choice too. Things are going to happen and you get to choose how to respond. Now we were certainly all disappointed and I learned that my guests grilled chicken the following night but we still had a great evening. From my table to yours…Mama Caruso

Monday, September 23, 2013

Summertime in Minnesota

It is that time again...hope you are all enjoying those last days of summer...

As summertime leaves quietly, it is time to review some of the highlights of living and playing in Minnesota...

Our form of whale watching...loon watching
Loon spotting
Where did those loons go? Wait...what's that in the background?
Family vacation pictures serve as a wonderful reminder of times that our family comes together to play, and act as inspiration for others who may be longing to have more meaningful connections with family and friends. Spending a week around campfires, playing in the outdoors and just "being" together does wonders to develop deeper realtionships. We began this annual tradition of gathering as many family and friends around a week at the lake "up-north" 26 years ago when after listening to my husband's family talk about how great their times were they went fishing when they were kids...why not now?...was the question that I asked. From that simple question, we began with 9 of us crowded into one cabin to filling 4 cabins this year, 26 years later.
Turtle races

One of our big winners this year at the turtle races

Every year at the lake our family has a Murder Mystery night
this year's theme was 1950's...can you tell who did it?

Relaxing around the campfire is a family favorite...
hey when did we start getting internet at the lake?
Each year, we have a different collection of friends and family depending on schedules, life and death. Cousins get to play in a way that they used to decades ago when extended family lived on the same block. There are no heightened expectations about gifts, holiday traditions, financial stresses related to extravagant gestures found during the typical holiday family gatherings. Cabins take turns hosting the dinner for the group, bringing potluck together for dinners or supplying the fish for the fish fry. Kids play, adults play and sometimes we just sit around the fire reading, or writing or playing games. Laughter fills the air, volleyballs fly and canoes and kayaks offer alternative water activities.

Come on Grandpa - when do I get to take this thing out for a spin?
The lazy days...how peaceful

Having fun fishing - something for everyone

The start of a great fish fry

Our record holder for largest fish
 We go to a lake near Perham, Minnesota which offers turtle races every Wednesday and sometimes someone in our group even wins the race - the prize is a $1 bill. On Wednesday our tradition is to host a Murder Mystery and everyone dresses for the occasion - this is always a highlight. Over the years our family and friends have come and gone and have created lasting memories.

Show me one more time Grandpa how it's done

That's how it's done
A stop at the local bookstore after the turtle races offers
something for everyone
Perhaps the greatest highlight is that we come together, we share time together, we laugh and play a lot, but mostly...we just "Be" together. You too can make this happen for your family and friends...e-mail Mama Caruso for sample itineraries, tips for creating a successful family and friend week experience and menu planning suggestions, or stay tuned for upcoming posts outlining how you too, can create an experience that will offer lasting memories.

It's hard to believe that our summer got pushed back a little by this snow fall in May
Next week's post is about some awesome activities and experiences the helped to finish off the summer with a bang, picking grapes at a local vineyard and an Indian curry cooking class...until then, from my table to yours...enjoy...Mama Caruso






Friday, September 13, 2013

Creating a happy shore memory 1,000 miles from the shore

My book club reads to eat. For the past eight years we have met monthly rotating between each other’s homes and December is my month because it is lobster fest. Every December. In my selfish attempt to create a fond memory of the shore, now that I live in the Mid-west, I suggested the book “ Lobster Chronicles” several years ago so that we could eat lobster. We read to eat, and select food themes based upon the book we are reading and “Lobster Chronicles” seemed like a great way to introduce my friends to lobster, which many of them had never experienced.

I grew up on the East Coast where eating lobster, clams, shrimp, oysters, and crab was a was just part of my experience – from Maine to Maryland I expected a special weekend meal to include some kind of fish that had been caught nearby. Hosteling on Cape Cod, camping on the beaches in Maine or escaping a hot kitchen in Baltimore and cracking crab claws on the picnic table out back, there was always fantastic food and friendship shared. Holidays included lobster, with New Year’s Eve featuring a lobster salad made from leftovers, family gatherings in Maryland ensured crab feasts, and weddings often featured hog roasts with a clam bake. My fondest childhood memories are related to family, friends and food and the extra special memories added the shore to that mix.

The sea breeze, sounds of the waves, the gulls calling out, the taste and smells that lets you know that you are somewhere alive, vibrant and salty…and the sand; cold, wet, dry, hot, rough, soft, ever-present, thousands and millions of grains of sand that come together to provide a place for the waves to connect. The shore, oh boy…do I miss the shore here in Minnesota.  So I’ve decided to recreate my happy shore memories, right here with my family and friends…now all I need is the food and the ambience and my book group is all in.
So here is how I made it happen – the recipe for creating a happy shore memory 1,000 miles away from the shore:

FOOD
  •        Lobster – I begin by ordering the lobster, which includes talking to the local grocery department meat department to find out when they receive deliveries of lobster and how long they will hold them (so I can select the date)
  •         Shrimp for a shrimp cocktail
  •          Cocktail sauce
  •          Butter
  •          Corn on the cob
  •          Vanilla ice cream

I have selected the shellfish which are successful here. Clams and crab are very difficult to get fresh, and even though I have tried to order steamers, I usually end up with huge clams which are only good chopped into chowder - so lobster and shrimp it is. There are no cheddar biscuits, no fork food – part of the fun in the sharing of a feast like this is formalities go out the window. I am trying to create an experience of sitting around a picnic table, with newsprint spread out on the table, paper towels act as napkins and no one cares how much Old Bay ends up on the beer bottle. The only worry is whether or not the butter will make the wine glass too slippery. Jeans are expected apparel and dish towels act as bibs.

EQUIPMENT & SUPPLIES
  •         Plastic table cloths
  •        Bucket for shells
  •          Claw crackers
  •          Picking forks – like skinny fondue forks for pulling meat out of the claws
  •          Rolls of paper towels
  •          Dishcloths for bibs
  •         Large platters for each individual to act as a plate
  •          A large canning pot for cooking the lobsters
  •          Butter warmers

Growing up by the shore, I fully expected that all kitchens have claw crackers, and crab mallets and picking forks and small sharp knives to cut through tough shells – so for those of you reading this who would also have the same expectation, make no assumptions and plan ahead, some of this equipment may be difficult to find – and while you can substitute with common items lying around the house, it will be far more enjoyable and create a closer experience to fond shore memories to have the appropriate equipment.

AMBIENCE
  •          One CD player playing sounds of the sea recordings, if you can find one that has an occasional gull calling out – that is fun, I usually pick out a few from my local library
  •          A second CD player playing fun music that you can envision dancing on the beach to – you can’t go wrong with Reggae
  •          Serve beer from a barrel
  •          Put a few fans around to simulate a breeze
  •          Encourage guests to bring flip flops and wear shorts, sunglasses as headbands
  •          A bowl of lemons, rolls of paper towels on the tables and a large serving platter for the lobster
  •          Pictorial instructions about how to eat a lobster
  •          I splurge and turn up the heat for the night

Each of these components will help you create a new shore memory. Have fun with it, put yourself in the experience and you and your friends and family might even forget that you are miles away from the shore. Friends, family gathering around food at the shore, it just doesn’t get much better than this...from my table to yours...enjoy.

What is your favorite beach/shore memory? 

I had been wanting to write this post for a while and then an opportunity came up to submit stories to a group collecting stories and recipes as a fundraiser to support the rebuilding efforts of the Jersey Shore. Because this is not about the shore, I do not know if it will be included, but I will encourage all of you to subscribe to their feed and support their efforts by purchasing their book when it is published.

Here's some information about their work: Savoring the Shore is a cook and memory book in the works to celebrate all things delectable at the Jersey Shore. Shore lovers including home cooks and chefs are asked to share their recipes and anecdotes in this cookbook. Proceeds benefit Sandy relief and rebuilding efforts for the Garden State. For more information about purchasing their memory book contact them on Twitter @savoringtheshore, savoringtheshore@gmail.com. http://savoringtheshore.com/

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Essentials for Long Distance Bike Riding

Which is the most important item in this picture?
This photo taken from the seat of my bicycle represents security to me. When I am out on a ride and will be out for four or five hours, I want to be prepared, and on the day that I took this photo (the 3rd day of a 7 day bike ride 420 miles across the state of Iowa #RAGBRAI) I was ready for anything. During the ride that day I helped 6 people who

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Candied Bacon on a Stick? What is the craziest food on RAGBRAI?

Every year I seek out the craziest food while riding my bike across Iowa, it gives me an excuse to stop and eat at the most fun and out of the way places. I especially love it when I can bring a recipe home for something unusual and test it until I can publish the recipe. I have certainly found a few good ones from this trip too, but so far the most fun and tastiest has been the candied bacon on a stick and at 1 for $1.00 or 3 for $2.00...it was the best deal of the day! I can't wait to get home and test it because it seems really easy and will please many people, salt, fat and sugar all of the things that bikers need. Until then, here are a few pictures...

This booth caught my eye


And then he invited me in...

And then here was the tray just waiting for me...
The candied bacon on a stick was brought to us by www.foodwithflair.com and they had some other delicious treats for the riders passing through...sure hope I get to eat some more tomorrow...

For the riders out there...what is the craziest food you have eaten while riding on #RAGBRAI?

For those of you who have not ridden, do you have any questions for me, anything you want me to check out while I am riding. This year the course is so much easier, short days of only 50 - 60 miles a day and tht gives me time to play a little each day. I would love to seek out the answers to your questions. Until then, from my table (wherever that may be) to yours...Mama Caruso

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

RAGBRAI Our Great Family Vacation

At our pre-ride respite in Orange City, Iowa
Since January every family gathering has focused on planning, strategizing, preparing and making lists for the first of several of our family vacations this year - RAGBRAI. RAGBRAI is a 7 day, 420 mile bicycle ride across the State of Iowa with 20,000 of our closest biking friends, and while it may sometimes be associated with lots of partying (which does exist) we are finding more and more families who are taking the time to spend with each other traveling and eating across Iowa during the last full week of July. Our family team consist of myself and my husband, a close friend, our two daughters and our oldest daughter's husband - but the family support does not stop there - our daughter's in-law's get to spend the week with our 3 year old granddaughter (who is too young to participate) and my brother's family are taking care of our house and pets. This year, our youngest daughter is involved in a summer session at the University of South Dakota and won't be able to join us and boy are we going to miss her!!! It always amazes me at the level of support it requires to safely ride across Iowa. With heat indexes, winds, and rain (sometimes even hail) certain to be in the forecast, we will need every ounce of that support. Last year with the temperatures over 105 on some days, the support was the difference between being safe or not and I watched as many riders were taken off the course by helicopter, ambulance and in several cases police cars because the ambulances were dispatched elsewhere on the course.

So what happens on RAGBRAI that requires an entire entourage? Our support crew is worth its weight in gold - they are a finely tuned machine and have worked many hours to coordinate the safety and support of the riders. The first responsibility of our crew is to help us get out the door by 6:00 am with all of the "stuff" we will need before we see them again at the meeting town. Some days are more difficult than others to get the riders up and out and usually by the 4th day, they (nor we) are not as nice as on the first day in kicking our butts back out on the road...something about tired bodies and sore saddles.... After the riders are off and riding, the crew packs up all of the bedding, tents, chairs, everything and heads to the meeting town where they try to pick us out of a sea of 20,000 riders - so they have to remember what we are wearing to be able to find us - for me this is the hardest part of the job. When we check in at the meeting town they assess us, what do we need?, how are we?, what will we need at the end of the day?...I always feel so spoiled when I leave the check point and I have seen so many other riders come up to them asking them for help (which they willing provide). We got them a screened in porch to make shade at the pit stops and I anticipate quite a gathering of riders by the time I get to the meeting town each day.

And, my favorite part of what our crew does each day for us is they go to the overnight town and find our place to stay and set up our air mattresses and beds so we can crash or take a nap when we arrive at the end of the ride each day - my set-up includes a cold Starbucks coffee drink, a Beck's dark beer, a red Gatorade, and a cold bottle of water - everything I need to hydrate, stop and take a nap...it is heaven on
This was the last year we "painted"
the car...it took 3 years for the
Iowa sun-baked paint to finally disappear
earth and I love being pampered so. This year we have a variety of host family homes in which we will stay - although with less than 4 days before we leave, there are 2 communities in which we do not yet have a place to stay - so things are a little stressful in the planning camp - actually while I was writing this, I had one host family back out of hosting...argh...3 towns with no place to sleep...places to stay - housing is a great challenge and we work especially hard to find a place with air conditioning so that we can recover from the crazy heat. People along the routes have always been so kind to all of us and staying in people's homes is a highlight for all of us, it is humbling to see how gracious people are when they open their doors for our family.

Not only could we not do this without this incredible support, we wouldn't want to...this is family vacation at its best, working together, supporting each other, eating together, playing games, cheering each other on, laughing and working it out together - I couldn't ask for anything more...

Air Force tent experiencing air force
This is an excerpt form an earlier post and it remains the same highlight...One of the times we all laughed a lot was on the day that this picture was taken. We had just settled in to the campgrounds on a church property and a little dirt devil came up and blew some of the tents from the row near us up, up...and away...we all watched in amazement as this tent got caught on the church steeple and the show was amazing as the fire trucks had to come and rescue the tent. I was standing under a shade tree watching as part of the Air Force Team pulled up and one of the riders recognized her tent as the one perched on top of the church...one more reason to have a great support crew - to make sure that the tents are staked down before moving onto the next set-up....but oh my goodness, we all laughed and laughed...including the rider who watched her tent extricated from the steeple - it made for a great story which we told over and over again each night while sitting around, hanging out on our family vacation...RAGBRAI....

Mama Caruso following the tradition of raising your bike
overhead before dipping in the Mississippi River at the end
of RAGBRAI...the back wheel was dipped in the Missouri River
at the beginning...7 days before
So today I am making the lists, and will begin packing the cars tomorrow. I am hoping to make a few gluten-free goodies, coconut flour cookies and gluten-free monster bars and will be blogging along the way as the band-width allows. The riders using their smartphones and computers to navigate, send photos and call each other uses up a lot of the banwidth and often we are without a reliable communication network for hours competing with each other to use our technology. This will be a fun year on RAGBRAI - lots of firsts and lots of fun. Like all travel adventures half of the fun is in the planning and we have been having a great time with that - 5-6 phone calls a day, texting and checking things off of the lists...and of course, there is the new bike that my husband bought at the beginning of the year...his retirement bike a Trek Domani...pretty slick! If you have any questions or anything you wantme to explore as we are riding across Iowa, let me know and I will have some fun doing research! Looking forward to posting updates as my family travels, eats and laughs our way across Iowa on our family vacation...from my family table to yours...Mama Caruso

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Gluten-free Monster Bars Revisited for RAGBRAI

Gluten-Free Monster Bar Recipe

Mama Caruso in 2009 on the shores
 of the Mississippi River
after bicycling across Iowa


















For all of you #Gluten-free, #RAGBRAI riders out there - this is a marvelous energy food to help fuel you for RAGBRAI

This is a traditional mid-western home-style recipe, easy for taking to the neighbors, to a civic event, fundraiser...or to share with your house guests who have just ridden across your state. This recipe was made by one of our home-stays (thank you so much again Mark and Andrea Baum) during RAGBRAI and we were hungry! There are no photos of the Monster bars, because by the time I pulled in, they had been almost completely demolished - so that is the tribute to them...they should be called vanishing Monster Bars...enjoy!

1 stick oleo (margarine or butter)
1 cup of white sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup nuts - you choose...walnuts work nicely...
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cup peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla
4 1/2 cups oats or oatmeal
1/2 cups M&Ms - adds a nice color...

Mix all ingredients and place in a large jelly roll pan.
Place in oven set at 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes - do not over bake
Cool and cut

Thank you to Andrea Baum's Mom for this recipe. It does not have to be difficult to be wheat gluten-free and get your energy back. From my table to yours...or from Andrea's Mom's table to yours....


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Mama Caruso’s Mojitos with Basil and Pineapple Juice


Mama Caruso's Mojito with
Basil and Pineapple Juice
  Mama Caruso’s Mojitos with Basil and Pineapple Juice

There is nothing like the smell of fresh basil in my kitchen to get my creative juices flowing and I really wanted to create something special to put in my mason jar for the regular Thursday night #Kitchenparty sponsored by www.Bakespace.com. #KitchenParty is a great way to connect with foodies from all over the country right here in my kitchen and on Thursday nights, my kitchen is filled with laughter, conversation about food and…discussion about what everyone is drinking.

My usual report about a stout beer in a mason jar typically gets retweeted, and I do love a nice dark beer, but this week is different; I have basil, lots and lots of basil, so…let’s make a drink that includes this beautiful basil. Opening up the fridge I find the pineapple juice left over from my daughter’s graduation party, and on the counter, a bottle of Flor de Cana Rum that I recently brought back from Nicaragua and my drink is born. It is rare for me to have soda in the house (another leftover from the grad party) but I find a couple of bottles of Sprite, a few limes, a little sugar and I have everything I need to make Mama Caruso’s Mojitos.  I sure hope you enjoy them; it is always fun to create something that you can share with friends and that makes this drink perfect for #KitchenParty! From my table to yours - cheers!

Ingredients:
Just sitting here waiting for my friends at
#KitchenParty to join me
8 sweet basil leaves - 6 leaves for the drink and 2 for garnish
1 tablespoon sugar
1 lime - 1/2 cut into 4 wedges and 1/2 cut into slices
2 fluid ounces of pineapple juice
1 1/2 fluid ounces of Flor de Cana rum (or any other rum of your choosing), this can be left out for a perfect virgin mojito
1 cup of ice
1/2 cup of Sprite or any other lemon/lime soda pop/seltzer water
Assembled and ready to go










Directions:
In a beverage mixer/shaker place one of the lime slices on the bottom of the mixing container
Add the sugar and the basil for the drink on top of the lime slice
All that's left is the mixing and the enjoying!
With a pestle, or muddler, or the end of a rolling pin lightly press on the basil leaves (4-6 presses) so that the oils are released and begin to mix with the lime and sugar
Add the pineapple juice and rum
Shake the mixture
Put the ice in a mason jar or highball glass
Pour the shaken mixture over the ice
Add the soda
Squeeze the lime wedges into the drink to taste
Garnish with the lime slices and remaining basil leaves

Servings: 1 serving
Preparation Time:5 Minutes

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

From My Table to Yours...Continued...

Gallo Pinto
Since returning from my five continent tour earlier this year, I have been busy in the kitchen perfecting the recipes that I acquired from local home cooks, instructors in cooking classes, and developed after eating in local establishments. And, I am very excited about a soon to be launched cooking club which will create opportunities for us to cook together...from my kitchen to yours...stay tuned - it will be super fun!

Although I am energized and ready to roll out Mama Caruso's Cooking Club, I borrowed a little time from Mama Caruso Cooks to complete another project...and I am pleased to announce the launch of my e-book "100 Days of Giving", an inspirational and uplifting exercise in hope and a journey through changing lives through simple gifts. 100 Days of Giving is available from Smashwords and Amazon at the Kindle store and I am really thrilled to be able to share this with my readers. 100 Days of Giving is available for download by clicking on the following links and I would love to get your feedback about the book. Please enjoy!

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/324772
or through Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/100-Days-of-Giving-ebook/dp/B00DD1HWUO/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1371567320&sr=1-1&keywords=100+Days+of+Giving

Until the next post, I have included a few photos of what's cooking at Mama Caruso's...a little bit of something from my travels...from my table to yours...Mama Caruso  

Gallo Pinto from Nicaragua


Mediterranean Inspired Antipasti

Mediterranian Inspired Hummus

Getting ready to cook Asian

Awesome roots and tubers

Peanut Soup and Fufu from Ghana

Mediterranian Inspired Antipasti

Cooking in Thailand

Coconut Chicken - Bangkok


Khmer Curry Noodle - Cambodia

These recipes and more comming to Mama Caruso Cooks soon - let me know which recipe you want to cook first in the comment box below!