New Blog Host

Dear Readers…ok, I know you’re all really just friends & family at the moment,

I have set up The Kitchen Coven on a new blog host.  Google had somehow tagged me as “inappropriate” and therefore were not spidering my posts.   This meant that unless someone knew exactly what to write in a search bar, they were not being directed to my website.  Because of this, I have decided to set up The Kitchen Coven with though  I was able to successfully transfer all my old blogs, future scheduled blogs, and comments to the new host.  This also means that I now own the domain name The Kitchen Coven (YAY) and it is an official “website” (YAY)!

What does this mean for you?  Well it doesn’t really mean anything unless you signed up to get subscription emails.  If you signed up for subscription emails, you will have to resign up at  That is it!

I hope to continue our love affair for non-corporate food on a much freer and friendlier forum!

Bar Top: Coco Rico Mojito

I was at the local ethnic food market and came across this:

Coco Rico is a coconut soda from Puerto Rico.  Now, I don’t drink soda but I was extremely intrigued.  I grabbed it and bought it.  I immediately though of rum.  I knew that this soda would go great with some rum.

I brought it home and opened a can to taste it.  It is *very* sweet. Yes, the soda is made with high fructose corn syrup; yes, it has even more sugar, however I do not drink soda everyday and indulging in something different once in a blue moon is not a bad thing.  Even though the soda is very sweet the coconut flavor was there and it was very delicate.  I knew that it would go great in a mixed drink.  A mojito to be exact.

A traditional mojito is made by muddling mint, lime, and sugar together until the lime extracts it’s juice.  Add 2oz of white rum, add ice and top it off with sparkling water. 

Mmmmm, lime and mint!

Since the Coco Rico was so sweet, I decided to forgo the sugar. I muddled a few mint leaves with half a thinly sliced lime, added 2 oz white rum, added ice, and topped off with Coco Rico. The drinks were absolutely delicious!

The Nutless Wonder wants some!

Enjoy your Coco Rico Mojito on the porch!  Be sure to wear your hat!

Coco Rico Mojito

Yield:  1 cocktail

Half lime, thinly sliced
4-5 mint leaves, torn
2 oz white rum
Coco Rico

  1. In a small collins glass, muddle lime with mint until the lime extracts all it’s juice.  Add ice and rum.  Top off with Coco Rico.  Pour the drink from the collins glass into another glass.  Pour from one glass to another to mix the drink well. 
  2. Serve in small collins glass.

Orange Marinated Red Pepper

I love bell peppers but I can’t eat them raw so I don’t buy them often because of that.  Which is a shame, really, because bell peppers add a lot of flavor to salads and can be a great snack.

I read Marc Matsumoto’s blog “No Recipes” (and you should too!  His recipes are amazing!) and one day I received a post about “Grapefruit Pickled Peppers” and was very intrigued.  I read through the recipe and I had to try the method immediately.  This method makes a very crisp, marinated pepper that you can eat right out of the jar.  Marinating the peppers in a citrus juice “cooks” the peppers as the acid will break down the fibers a little bit. I have been eating these peppers almost everyday in an afternoon snack salad.  I hesitate to call these peppers “pickles” because technically they are not pickles, so I call them “marinated” peppers.

In Marc’s recipe, he uses grapefruit juice but I had some orange juice from making the Carne Asada, so I stuck to his method but used orange juice instead.  I also didn’t have any fresh cilantro on hand.  Knowing that cilantro has a peppery flavor, I used dried celery and peppercorn that I had.  I also didn’t have lemon juice on hand so I used a dried lemon rind with the pepper.

Orange Marinated Red Pepper

Adapted from Pickled Peppers Recipe of No Recipes

Yield:  1 quart

2 cups Orange Juice
1 teaspoon dried celery
2 Tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon peppercorn
1 dried lemon rind
1 bay leaf
2 red bell pepper

  1. In a large bowl combine orange juice and kosher salt
  2. In a quart jar add the dried celery and peppercorn.
  3. Slice the pepper and stuff it in the quart jar.  Stuff the bay leaf and dried lemon rind in with the peppers.  Pour the orange juice over the peppers.  Cover and refrigerate.  Use within 2 weeks.

Knowing How to Can Rocks!

Knowing how to can rocks!  Learning how to can really opened my eyes to a whole different aspect of cooking and I’ve learned so much from it.  It also taps into my cheap skate side in that I can take advantage of sales.

Weis was having a huge sale the other day and knowing how to can allowed me to turn this:

Into this:

Kale and White Beans

I have the never ending bag of kale right now.  I can’t go through it fast enough!  I get a new bag of kale every week!  So, I’ve been thinking up ways to use it up and every time I try a new recipe, I fall more in love in kale.  It’s just so darn versatile!  This time I wanted to make it with some beans.

White beans have become my favorite bean.  They don’t break down during cooking and tend to keep their shape and flavor, plus they have a smooth, buttery flavor that just goes great with all kinds of vegetables.

I use dry beans but feel free to use canned beans.

With a side of avocado for a little extra oomph of protein!
Kale and White Beans
1 cup cooked white beans
3 cups kale, stem removed and torn
1 onion, halved and sliced
1/2 cup vegetable broth
Juice of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
  1. In a large skillet, add about a tablespoon of olive oil (about 1 turn around the pan).  Bring to medium high heat.
  2. Sautee onion.  When onion has started to wilt, add vegetable broth and lemon juice.  Bring broth up to a simmer and add kale.  Sprinkle cumin, coriander, salt, and pepper onto kale.  Carefully toss and cover, about 10 minutes.
  3. Let kale wilt down and stir again.
  4. Add white beans and toss.
  5. Serve.

The Saga Continues: Vegetable Plants

The plants thank you for your prayers!
The plants are doing pretty well!  The tomatoes have really rooted down and are growing rather magnificently!  The lettuce was doing so well that I had to transplant one of them into it’s own container, so now I have two containers of lettuce.  One of the cabbage was encroaching on the other one, so I transplanted that one into it’s own container but I’m pretty sure that I was too late.  That one may be a goner.  We’ll see if it thrives in it’s own container, keep your fingers crossed for that one.  I also had an onion that started to sprout so I planted that in it’s own container as well!  The basil has seen better days but I replaced the soil with new soil and planted it deeper into the soil.  Maybe that will help it root down some more?
I started with four pots and now have seven!  Oh, and my buddy, The Mountain Man, has a huge pot that he wants to give me.  I’m still mulling it over on if I will take it or not.  I don’t want to plant anything else in case this turns out to be a complete failure!  Haha.

Maple Sugar Apple Rings

This is what goes through my mind when I’m walking through the farmers market:

“Ok, Jessica, you are here for fruit and vegetables that you will eat.  Don’t get carried away.  Focus on your list.”
“Yes, I will focus on my list.  I only need a few things:  carrots, onions, spinach – Oh look!  Smoked garlic!  That’s interesting!”
“Yes, focusing on my – OMG!  Plants!  Aren’t the peonies so pretty!  I should buy some!”
“You already started a container garden and it’s…well – “
“- Oh, hush you, the tomatoes are doing fantabulous!”
“Yes but the cabbage has seen better days”
“Good point. Oooh look!  Bread!  I could buy a baguette and put it in my canvas grocery bag…it will be très français!”
“You bake bread from scratch for a fraction of what that bread costs!”
“You’re right.  I don’t need bread – but look!  Apples!”
“You don’t eat apples out of hand!”
“I know but they are organic AND sustainable!  I have to support a sustainable farm! Right?  Right!”
“Ok, but you *will* eat the apples!”
“Of course I will eat the apples, silly!”

Three weeks later the apples are still in my fridge:

“See, I told you you wouldn’t eat the apples.  Now what are we going to do with the apples before they go bad?”

Make Maple Sugar Apple Rings. 

These are actually really yummy.  I’m not ashamed to admit that I have demolished these much faster than I would have the actual apples. 

Add a tablespoon or two of lemon juice in a big bowl of water.  Slice the Apples as thinly as you can.  I choose not to peel the apples because the skin has most of the fiber in the apple, however, if you have picky eaters you can choose to peel the apples.  Cut out the core and place every apple slice into the bowl of lemon water.  This helps the apples from browning while drying.  Place the sliced apples in your dehydrator and sprinkle maple sugar over them.  Dry until they are crispy.

For me, these took a couple of days to completely dry.   If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can place these in your oven at the lowest temperature that your oven will go.  Once they are done drying, move them to a plate and let them cool completely before putting them in a jar.  They won’t last very long, however…

Maple Sugar Apple Rings

Yield:  A little more than 1 quart

4 to 5 apples
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
Large bowl of water
2 Tablespoons Maple Sugar

  1. Add 2 Tablespoons of lemon juice to the large bowl of water.
  2. Thinly slice the apples and place them in the lemon water to soak until you are done slicing all the apples.
  3. Lay the apples in a single layer in your dehydrator
  4. Sprinkle 2 Tablespoons of maple sugar over the apples
  5. Dehydrate
  6. Once apples are completely dry, place on a plate to allow them to completely cool; jar.

Marinated Red Peppers

Sweet Red Bell Peppers were the first vegetable I canned.  When I first canned them, I wasn’t sure what I was going to make with them.  By the time winter came, I made up a recipe with these marinated peppers and sausage that has turned into one of my favorite winter recipes.  Now, I make sure that I have enough cans to last me through the winter.  I will make sure that I can about 7-10 jars.

Before I tell you about the recipe, there are a few important notes I have to inform you of.  As discussed in “Let’s Talk About:  Boiling Water Bath Canning” you can only safely BWB can vegetables if they are pickled or fermented somehow.  Also, it is important to note that you should never can with oil; this marinade has oil in it.  So, how does this recipe become safe to can if canning in oil is a big no-no? 

If you look at the ingredients for the marinade, you will find that it has 2 different acids:  lemon juice and vinegar.  You’ll also notice that the vinegars are not diluted in water.  The original recipe was created and tested safe by The National Center for Home Food Preservation.  Now, even though this canning recipe is safe to BWB and the recipe will be shelf stable, NCHFP recommends that it should only be shelf stable for about 6 months.  The oil in the recipe can go rancid…because of this many experienced canners choose to just leave out the oil and can the peppers with just vinegar and lemon juice.  I understand why they do it because it sucks to lose a jar of food when you’ve put so much work into something.  However, I can this recipe as is.  The reason being that I don’t can for long term shelf storage (2+ years or longer), I can to preserve the flavor of the seasons.  So, I will generally eat the marinated red peppers within 6 months.  I have never had a jar go rancid on me (*knocks on wood*).

Look at these gorgeous peppers!  They were on sale so I grabbed them!
You will find different ways to make this recipe online and in books but it is important to note that the method stays the same:  4 pounds peppers, 1 cup lemon juice (bottled, always bottled), 2 cups vinegar, 1 cup oil.
Mmmmmm, roasted peppers are yummy!
Some recipes will have a mix of peppers, some recipes roast the peppers, some do not roast the peppers, some add onions, some add dried herbs, you’ll see white wine vinegar used, cider vinegar used, and some will use vegetable oil instead of olive. However, they all should follow the same method. If you come across a recipe that does not follow the approved method, it probably isn’t a safe recipe.  The recipe I follow, and the recipe that introduced me to this, is from Eugenia Bone’s book Well-Preserved.

They look so pretty in my new blue jars!

Marinated Red Bell Pepper

From Well-Preserved by Eugenia Bone

Yield:  3 pints

4 pounds red bell peppers (8 to 10 medium)
1 cup bottled lemon juice
2 cups white wine vinegar (I use regular white)
1 cup olive oil
2 medium garlic cloves, sliced
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

  1. Roast peppers, turning them often with tongs, until they are black and blistered all over.  Remove from heat and place on a cutting board to cool.  When they are cool enough to handle, remove the skin, stem, and seed pod from the peppers.  Using your hands, tear peppers into large pieces (I go by the natural ribs of the peppers, they should tear easily along those ribs).
  2. Combine lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, garlic, and salt in a medium sauce pan.  Heat to just boiling.
  3. Working quickly, stuff peppers into hot jars leaving about an inch of head space (the peppers will expand during processing).  Pour marinade over peppers leaving about a half inch headspace.  Ensure that garlic is evenly split amongst jars (I filter them out of the left over marinade).  Using a butter knife, ensure that there are no air pockets or bubbles in the peppers by running it between the jar and the peppers.
  4. Following “Kitchen Tactics:  Boiling Water Bath Canning” , process pints for 15 minutes.

Carne Asada

I haven’t had carne asada in….hell, since I left Arizona.  Well, *real* carne asada that is.  Many places get really close to the real deal but don’t quite make it there.  Carne Asada has a particular flavor that you know when you taste it and I never really knew what it was in the past, I always just bought pre-marinated carne asada from the carniceria in my neighborhood.  When I came across skirt steak at the commissary, I knew I had to make carne asada.  The weather has been warming up, the grass is growing, the leaves had exploded into all their vibrant green glory, it was time to fire up the grill.  I did some research and came across a recipe that sounded promising.

It’s really hard to come across skirt steak in MD.  The steak most similar to skirt steak that I have found is flank steak and while it’s similar, it does not give the same flavor as skirt.  However, you can still use flank if that’s all you can find.

Skirt Steak, see how long and thin it is!

Skirt steak is the long piece of meat taken from the diaphragm.  It is known for it’s flavor but it is not very tender so you must marinade it.  The marinade is the secret to carne asada and this marinade is the real deal.  The marinade is what I shall share with you today.

My mouth is watering just thinking about making this again.  I could eat carne asada until I explode.

Eat More Kale…errr, Carne.  I meant Carne Asada!
The marinade is the following:  orange juice, onion, cilantro, garlic, salt, pepper, and cumin.  In a large freezer bag add orange juice, chopped onion, chopped cilantro, minced garlic, salt, pepper, and cumin.  Massage it around until it is all mixed together, then add the meat.  If necessary add more orange juice to cover the meat.  Let the meat marinade for at least an hour, it’s best to let it marinade for 24-48 hours.  Then grill.  Carne Asada is supposed to be grilled until well done but I like to grill mine until just medium…it really won’t take long at all to grill it up since it’s so thin.  Take carne asada off heat and let rest, then slice it up.  Serve with mixed onion and cilantro and taqueria pickles on corn tortilla.  YUM!

Mmmmmmm, Carne Asada
Carne Asada
3 pound skirt steak
3-4  cups orange juice (enough to cover steak)
1 lime, zested and juiced
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 Tablespoon ground cumin
2 cloves garlic, minced
Small palm size of fresh cilantro, minced
1 onion finely chopped
Small palm size of fresh cilantro, minced
  1. Add orange juice, lime, onion, cumin, garlic, and cilantro to a large freezer bag.  Massage so that the ingredients mix well.  Add skirt steak.  Add more lemon juice if needed.  Massage the steak in the orange juice.  Let marinade for 24-48 hours
  2. Fire up the grill and grill until skirt steak is about medium.  Take off heat and let rest for 5-10 minutes.  Slice.
  3. Finely chop one onion and mince one small palm size of cilantro.  Mix well together
  4. Serve carne asada with corn tortillas, onion & cilantro mixture, and taqueria pickles.

Ball Heritage Collection Jars

I got them!  I got them the other day!  I have been anxiously waiting for my set to come in the mail!

My Blue Ball Heritage Collection Pint Jars from Ball!  Aren’t they soooooo pretty.  You see, it’s Ball’s 100 year anniversary this year!  They started making canning jars in 1913.  They are famous for their antique blue jars; and, they are very hard to come by now-a-days.  For their 100 year anniversary, they released a series of blue jars.  Now the modern blue jars are not made the same way as the antique blue jars and the blue color is not exactly the same but they are still pretty!  I bought a pack of blue jars because I know that these jars will be with me for a long time, I know that canning will be with me for (probably) the rest of my life, and I wanted to have my own set of blue jars to pass down to my kids/grandkids (if God ever blesses me with children…someday it may happen!).  I can’t wait to fill them!