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Thirsty Thursdays — Strawberry Margarita

11 Apr

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Does all this sewing have you thirsty?  If so, I have just the thing — a delicious Strawberry Margarita, compliments of The Foodie Bride blog.  If you are a margarita lover, you should visit her site for more mouth-watering recipes to satisfy your craving and find your perfect libation for Cinco de Mayo.  I am especially loving the traditional lime margarita.

More sewing to come.  I am currently working on a muslin for a casual button down shirt for my husband.  Photos soon when I have something substantial to show.  I also plan to *finally* finish my Gertie shirtwaist dress this weekend.  Plus I have ideas for several quick and breezy summer dresses.  We will see how all that turns out.  What’s on your sewing table or in your kitchen right now?

Strawberry Margaritas

Serves 2

  • Salt or sugar for rimming glasses (optional)
  • 2 oz tequila
  • 1 oz orange liqueur (like Cointreau)
  • 3 oz fresh orange juice (from about 2 navel oranges)
  • 4 oz strawberry puree*
  • 4 oz homemade margarita mix
  • Ice

If desired, rim glass with water or lime juice then salt or sugar (or mixture).  Combine liquid ingredients in the glass and stir well.  Add ice and serve.

*The strawberry puree is made by tossing 1 teaspoon of sugar with 1.5 pints chopped strawberries and then pureed after letting it sit at room temp for a while. You can adjust accordingly if you don’t have a use for that much puree.

Adapted from The Foodie Bride.

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Thirsty Thursdays — Absolute Stress (Reliever)

4 Mar

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Since you now know I am away slacking in the Caribbean, I thought it only appropriate that I share with you a recipe for a drink to help transport you to an equally tropical state of mind. Enter the Absolute Stress (Reliever). I first tried one of these cocktails in New Orleans and I must say, I was hooked and had to find the recipe for myself. As originally made, the drink called for peach schnapps. You can use this, but I have found that as I have gotten older, my taste buds are not such a fan this overly sweet liqueur. I have substituted peach-flavored vodka here.

So don’t delay, gather your ingredients and transport yourself to a wonderful, tropical place this weekend, even if it is only in your living room ūüôā

Absolute Stress (Reliever)
Serves 1

1/2 ounce coconut rum
1/2 ounce vodka
1/2 ounce peach vodka (or peach schnapps)
1 ounce orange juice
1 ounce pineapple juice
1 ounce cranberry juice

Pour all ingredients into a shaker filled with ice. Shake well and strain into cocktail glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish as desired and enjoy!

Thirsty Thursdays — Coffee Punch

31 Jan

Don’t forget to enter my One Year Blogiversary Giveaway! ¬†The giveaway will end tonight at midnight CST. ¬†Click here¬†to leave a comment on the giveaway post and be entered to win a free Craftsy class of your choice!!!

 

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Let’s just start out by saying that I warned you — this punch is going to rock your world. ¬†Coffee drinkers and non-coffee drinkers alike will beg you to make this again and again. ¬†Honestly, the only people who aren’t going to like this punch are the ones who aren’t breathing. ¬†So go ahead and make a batch. ¬†Don’t have an excuse to make a 2 gallon bowl of punch? ¬†I’ll give you a scaled down version, too. ¬†Just because I’m nice like that ūüôā

I’ve been making this punch for almost 10 years and it is a favorite at baby/bridal showers and family gatherings. ¬†It is cold, creamy, sweet, and has a hint of coffee. ¬†I don’t like coffee but I can drink this punch all day long. ¬†There’s ice cream floating in it. ¬†Need I say more?

 

 

 

 

 

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Coffee Punch

Makes about 2 gallons

2 cups water

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup instant coffee

1 gallon whole milk

1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream, slightly softened

1/2 gallon chocolate ice cream, slightly softened

In a large glass measuring cup combine the water and sugar.  Heat on high in the microwave in 60 second intervals until all the sugar has completely dissolved.  Stir in the instant coffee and set aside to cool to room temperature.  At this point you can refrigerate the coffee syrup for later use if you are prepping for a party.

Pour the coffee syrup into a large punch bowl.  Stir in the milk.  Scoop in the vanilla and chocolate ice cream then stir to combine.  Continue to stir occasionally as the ice cream will start to melt into the punch.  YUM!!!

 

Coffee Punch for Two

1 ounce water

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons instant coffee

1 cup whole milk

1/2 cup vanilla ice cream, slightly softened

1/2 cup chocolate ice cream, slightly softened

Follow the instructions above to combine water, sugar, instant coffee, and milk. ¬†Pour mixture into blender and add ice cream. ¬†Blend until smooth. ¬†Alternately, you can stir mixture and ice cream together in a glass for a less smooth texture. ¬†Enjoy ūüôā

 

 

 

 

Hot Goat Cheese and Spinach Dip

29 Jan

 

 

 

 

Don’t forget to enter my One Year Blogiversary Giveaway!  The giveaway will end Thursday, January 31 at midnight CST.  Click here to leave a comment on the giveaway post and be entered to win a free Craftsy class of your choice!!!

 

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Last weekend I prepared the food for a friend’s baby’s first birthday party. ¬†There were 25 adult guests and the menu included a few already-blogged recipes like Spinach Blues Salad and Cheez-It Crack, a few I have yet to share with you but will soon, and this Hot Goat Cheese and Spinach Dip. ¬†I first had this dip at a wonderful little restaurant in Napa, California in 2010. ¬†Unfortunately, I don’t remember the name of the restaurant, but the chef was kind enough to jot the recipe down on a piece of register tape for me. ¬†I am entering it here on this blog now for all of posterity ūüôā

This dip is warm and creamy and satisfying like spinach dip usually is but it has the added tang of goat cheese, one of my favorite flavors.  It is also enhanced by the addition of fresh herbs and roasted garlic.  Finally, using fresh spinach instead of frozen sets this dip apart, as it keeps the spinach from being a mushy mesh and less likely to make your dip watery (in my opinion).

So while this recipe may involve a few more steps than the traditional spinach dip, I think you and your guests will be quite pleased with the results. ¬†I know I have never received any complaints and the empty serving dish always speaks for itself ūüėČ

 

Hot Goat Cheese and Spinach Dip

Yields 1-9″ x 13″ shallow dish

 

1 head garlic

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup blanched and squeezed spinach (you will need a large bag of fresh spinach to achieve this amount, see directions)

1 1/2 cups mayonnaise

1 1/2 cups sour cream

12 ounces goat cheese, softened

3 Tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

6 Tablespoons fresh chives, chopped

1 teaspoon fresh tarragon, chopped

1 teaspoon garlic powder

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Slice off top 1/4 of head of garlic.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Wrap in foil and roast in oven for 1 hour.  Let stand until cool enough to handle then squeeze garlic from skin, reserving garlic and discarding skin.

While the garlic is roasting, bring a large stockpot of water to a boil.  Place a large bowl of ice water next to the stove.  Have a strainer with a handle ready.  Put an entire large bag of spinach leaves into the boiling water and stir to immerse all of them.  You may not think they will all fit but they will if you give it a stir.  After 30 seconds, remove the spinach with the strainer and immediately immerse it in the ice water bath.  Once the spinach is completely cool, remove from the ice water and squeeze the excess water out.  Place the spinach in a clean kitchen towel and continue to squeeze until very dry.  The more water you get out of your spinach at this stage, the less likely you will be to have runny dip later.  Measure out 3/4 cup of spinach and chop it with a knife a few times to break up the leaves.

In a mixing bowl, combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, and goat cheese, and beat with an electric mixer until well blended.  Stir in roasted garlic, parsley, chives, tarragon, and garlic powder.  Stir in spinach.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Spread into shallow baking dish and bake at 350F for 25 to 30 minutes, or until starting to bubble around the edges.  Serve with tortilla chips or toasted baguette slices.

 

Perfectly Easy Pavlova and a Blogiversary!

23 Jan

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How many of you sewers out there were thinking I had gotten my hands on a copy of Cake Pattern’s newest release, the Pavlova wrap top and skirt, before it officially hits the market? ¬†Sorry, no such luck. ¬†But I did make you this tasty edible version of the Australian dessert that starts with a light meringue shell, gets filled with airy, sweetened whipped cream, and then topped with your choice of seasonal fresh fruits.

It’s also a celebratory dessert to commemorate my 1 year blogging anniversary! ¬†In one year’s time, I have written 45 posts, gathered 98 (wordpress + google reader) followers, received 176 comments, and gotten 8458 hits. ¬†That’s not too bad! ¬†I’ll be announcing a giveaway tomorrow in honor of the special event, so stay tuned! ¬†But until then, feast your eyes on this lovely and refreshing dessert ūüôā

 

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I even made some mini ones to share.  Do you think they look like funny little faces?  This recipe looks complicated but it is as simple as can be.  My sister first introduced me to it several years ago and we have been making it regularly since.  If you have a few basic ingredients and an electric mixer, you can wow your friends and loved ones with this sure-to-please confection.

I have used strawberries, kiwi, and blueberries here because they happened to come in my produce box for the week, but you can use your favorite complimenting fruits — peaches, nectarines, raspberries, blackberries, etc.

 

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So, first you are going to beat your room temperature egg whites until they are stiff and glossy like so.  Can you see my reflection in these?

 

 

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The bottom row has been smoothed.

 

 

If you choose to make the cupcakes, one batch makes about 2 dozen regular size cupcakes.  This time around I just used a spoon to fill the paper cups then smoothed the tops with a wet metal tablespoon (this is a great kitchen trick for meringue).  If I am being fancy, I will use my piping tools to make mini meringue nests on parchment and forego the cupcake papers and tin.

 

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For the large pie, trace a 9″ circle onto parchment paper, flip the paper over and place it on a baking tray, then spread the meringue on top. ¬†Use the spoon to spread it into the circle and smooth the top with the wet spoon.

 

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I spooned the whipped cream on top for the full-size Pavlova, but for the mini ones I piped the whipped cream on with a pastry bag and large closed star tip.  As for the fruit, you can make it as decorative (or not) as you would like.  It will taste great either way!

 

Pavlova

Serves 8 as pie or 24 cupcakes (you can’t eat just 1!)

1/2 cup egg whites, at room temperature (from about 4 eggs)
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon raspberry vinegar or red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
2 kiwi fruits, peeled and thinly sliced or 1 cup of another ripe fruit, such as peaches or nectarines
10 strawberries, green parts trimmed off, thinly sliced or other berries, such as raspberries or blackberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (or using a hand mixer), whip the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt in a clean, dry bowl until foamy. Add the granulated sugar, cornstarch, vinegar, and vanilla and continue whipping until stiff, smooth and glossy, about 8 minutes more. On a sheet of parchment paper cut to fit a sheet pan, use a pencil to draw or trace a circle 9-inches in diameter. Line the sheet pan with the parchment, pencil side down (you should still be able to see the circle). Spoon the egg whites into the circle, using the back of the spoon to smooth the top and sides of the disk (use a wet spoon for best results). Bake in the center of the oven for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 300 degrees and bake until the meringue has puffed up and cracked on the top and the surface is lightly browned to the color of cafe au lait, about 45 minutes more. Turn off the oven, prop the oven door open, and let the Pavlova cool in the oven at least 30 minutes, to room temperature. This ensures a gradual cooling, which protects the delicate meringue.

Whip the cream and brown sugar together until stiff. Spoon it in the center of the cooled Pavlova and spread out to within 1/2-inch of the edge. Arrange the slices of kiwi around the edge. Arrange the slices of strawberry in the middle. To serve, slice into wedges with a serrated knife.

 

Recipe by Gale Gand, courtesy of the Food Network.

 

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Caesar Salad

7 Jan

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I know some of you are probably trying to eat better right now, so me giving you a salad recipe counts as helping, right? ¬†I don’t know about you, but Caesar salad has become one of my favorite comfort foods. ¬†I think I could eat it nearly every day. ¬†A few years ago I had found what I thought was the best bottled dressing — a little creamy and tangy — but then I found this recipe a few weeks ago and I don’t think I will ever buy the supermarket kind again. ¬†This dressing is so easy to throw together and all of the ingredients are probably on hand except the anchovy paste, but once you buy that, you’ll have it ready at a moment’s notice, too. ¬†And before you ask, yes, anchovy paste (or anchovy fillets) is necessary for Caesar dressing. ¬†Without it, it wouldn’t be Caesar dressing ūüôā

I have found that one batch of dressing will coat three hearts of Romaine and that’s how they seem to come packaged at the grocery store. ¬†I cut the end off each head, slice it in half longways, then cut it crossways into bite size pieces — a quick wash and you have fresh salad greens in less than 5 minutes. ¬†No more bagged lettuce either ūüôā

Of course this salad is a great start to your meal but it also makes a delicious light entrée.  We topped it with leftover rotisserie chicken for a quick weeknight meal and my (teenage) stepson ate almost an entire serving bowl portion by himself.

I know I mentioned another sewing project from my New Year’s holiday sewing marathon and I promise it’s coming up next, but I felt it would have been bad manners of me to keep yammering on about sewing and not give you a little something to eat. ¬†I’ll be back later this week with a post on my other recent sewing victory as well as what’s on my sewing table right now. ¬†Have a great Monday!

 

Caesar Salad Dressing

Yield:  1 1/3 cups

  • 2¬†small garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon¬†anchovy paste (found near the tuna fish in¬†the supermarket)
  • 2 tablespoons¬†freshly squeezed lemon juice, from one lemon
  • 1 teaspoon¬†Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon¬†Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup¬†mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup¬†freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon¬†salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a medium bowl, whisk together the garlic, anchovy paste, lemon juice, Dijon mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Add the mayonnaise, Parmigiano-Reggiano, salt, and pepper and whisk until well combined.  Serve immediately with Romaine lettuce, shave Parmesan, and crispy croutons, or keep refrigerated for up to 1 week.

 

Adapted from Once Upon a Chef.

Crack(er) Candy

23 Dec

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Merry Christmas, everyone!  I am going to keep this post short and sweet and will just tell you that you should add this to your holiday sweets table ASAP.  And that will be easy to do because all of the ingredients will probably be on hand and it takes no time to throw together.  Plus, it is the most delicious and addictive stuff.  Trust me, I have been getting requests for this candy and the recipe left and right.  This candy is the perfect combination of crunchy, salty, and sweet.  No one can believe that it all starts with Saltine crackers!!

I hope everyone enjoys some relaxing time with their loved ones over the next week and safe travels to those who will be on the road.

 

Crack(er) Candy

1-2 sleeves Saltine crackers

2 sticks unsalted butter

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

generous pinch salt

12 ounce bag semisweet chocolate chips

coarse sea salt for garnish (or toasted nuts or crushed pretzels if you prefer)

 

Preheat oven to 350F. ¬†Line the bottom and sides of a 11″ x 17″ or 12″ x 18″ jelly roll pan with foil then lay a piece of parchment paper cut to fit in the bottom of the pan. ¬†Arrange the Saltine crackers in straight rows and columns in a single layer in the pan, making sure they are all touching. ¬†(My 12″ x 18″ pan holds about 48 crackers.) ¬†In a medium saucepan heat the butter and sugar to a boil. ¬†Boil and stir continuously for 3 minutes. ¬†Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and pinch of salt. ¬†Immediately spread the sugar mixture evenly over the crackers. ¬†Bake in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, until bubbly but not starting to burn. ¬†Remove from the oven and spread the chocolate chips evenly over the crackers. ¬†Allow to set for 2 to 3 minutes then use an offset spatula to spread the melted chips over the crackers. ¬†If desired, used a fork to swirl a pattern into the chocolate. ¬†Sprinkle the coarse sea salt (or nuts or crushed pretzels) over the top and allow to set at room temperature overnight for the chocolate to harden before breaking or cutting into squares. ¬†If you can’t wait that long (and honestly, who can?), chill the pan in the fridge until the chocolate is set, then return to room temperature for 30 minute before cutting or breaking into squares. ¬†Now share with your friends before you eat the whole batch yourself.

 

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen.

Thirsty Thursday — Perfect Eggnog

20 Dec

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I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season so far. ¬†Is your calendar full of engagements with family and friends? ¬†We are trying to lay low this year during the holidays and are succeeding moderately so. ¬†We decided not to host our annual Christmas party because we have been so very busy recently. ¬†We plan to pick the tradition back up next year. ¬†That doesn’t keep me from sharing some of my favorite holiday entertaining recipes with you, though, and this eggnog is one of those. ¬†We served it this past weekend at our (much smaller) supper club Christmas gathering and it garnered rave reviews as usual.

My husband initially found the recipe and I have adopted it in recent years.  I typically am not a fan of things that contain eggs or bourbon as a central flavor but I must say that this cocktail is quite tasty and will warm you up on a cold winter night.  I suggest you whip up a batch for your next gathering, large or small.  I have not measured the recipe exactly, but a full batch goes in my 2 gallon punch bowl and a half batch (which I made for our supper club group of 11), fit into my crystal salad bowl with just a little left over.

If you are concerned about raw eggs, please see this link for information about safely pasteurizing your eggs to reduce the risk of Salmonella transmission. ¬†I have to point out, though, that the risk of Salmonella from US store-bought eggs is about 1 in 30,000 (source) versus the risk of dying in a car crash in your lifetime which is about 1 in 100 (source). ¬†Sometimes I pasteurize, sometimes I don’t. ¬†But I always wear my seatbelt so maybe I should just always pasteurize my eggs, too…

As written, the ‘nog is slightly stout. ¬†Feel free to add half the alcohol then adjust up from there the first time you make it. ¬†Or if you know your crowd will want it tame, leave out half the bourbon. ¬†It will mellow out as it sits in the fridge, though.

Perfect Eggnog

Serves 24

12 eggs, separated

4 1/2 cups sugar

750 ml bourbon

375 ml dark rum

1 1/2 quarts whipping cream

2 cups whole milk

1 1/2 cups brandy

1 tablespoon freshly grated nutmeg (optional, if you hate the stuff like I do)

With an electric mixer, beat egg yolks and sugar until thick and light-colored.  Slowly blend in bourbon and rum then mix until sugar is dissolved.  Let stand one hour.  Whip the egg whites in a separate bowl until stiff peaks form.  Stir the whipping cream and milk into the egg yolk mixture until thoroughly blended.  Slowly stir in the brandy.  Fold in the egg whites, blending evenly.  Cover and refrigerate overnight (or at least two hours) before serving.  Serve in small cups dusted with nutmeg (if desired, of course).  May be stored in the refrigerator for one week.

Adapted from Allrecipes

Cheez-It Crack

28 Nov

Howdy Friends! ¬†I hope everyone has been well and had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday (if that is the tradition in your country). ¬†I am sharing a quick recipe with you today that will revolutionize your snacking habits — it will cause you to have the most intense cravings and desires at strange hours of the day — hence the name Cheez-It Crack.

You might think Cheez-It crackers are kind of plain. ¬†You got over those when you were a kid. ¬†Well, with the addition of a select few spices and some olive oil and a brief stint in a low oven, your lowly childhood crackers will be turned into your adulthood snacking drug of choice. ¬†This salty-tooth satisfier takes about 3 minutes to put together and another 20 to bake. ¬†Your friends will beg you to make them more and you won’t deny them because you know you need more yourself. ¬†So go ahead and whip up a batch for yourself this weekend and find out what all the fuss is about!

Cheez-It Crack

2 boxes Cheez-It crackers

2/3 cup olive oil

1 packet dry Ranch dressing mix

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 250F.  Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and toss well to coat.  Spread crackers on a large cookie sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, stirring halfway through.

Source: ¬†An addict never tells… Really, though, my friend Lee gave me the recipe ūüėČ

How to Make a Mess of Granny-Style Green Beans

15 Oct

Growing up, there was never a shortage of home-cooked, heart-warming, comfort food on the table. ¬†Between my mom and my grandmother across the street, we always had a hot meal for supper every night and for lunch on the weekends. ¬†Strangely, though, as much as I was around all this food and women cooking it, I was never officially “taught” to cook by either of these women. ¬†That means that all of the cooking you see going on here has been self-taught with just an influence from my forewomen. ¬†Since I was never given the specifics on the art of country cooking (and let’s face it, that’s probably a good thing — who wants a mug of bacon grease in their fridge?!?), I have had to sort out my own method for recreating those comforting favorites that I ate as a child.

When Mr. Homemaker and I returned from our recent European vacation, we were both craving some home cooking. ¬†Normally I would call my mom or grandmother and request something but on this occasion we were just too tired to leave the house. ¬†So the next day, I went to the grocery store and picked up the essentials to make roasted chicken (recipe coming), mac and cheese, buttermilk biscuits, and these green beans. ¬†Now, since I do not keep the above-referenced mug of bacon grease in my fridge, this recipe is not exactly the same method by which my mom and grandmother prepare their green beans. ¬†I like to think my version is perhaps a bit healthier? ¬†I’m not kidding anyone — I know there’s bacon fat in these beans and they’re cooked down to a non-bright green, but I just feel better that I don’t put a big scoop of congealed fat in mine ūüôā

So without any further ado, an actual written recipe for creating a soul-satisfying “mess” of deep-South, homestyle green beans!

Granny-Style Green Beans

Serves 8

3 slices bacon

1/2 cup diced onion

1/4 cup white wine

2 pounds frozen flat green beans (Italian-style, or “pole beans”)

1-2 cups water

1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

Cook bacon in large pan until some of the fat has rendered but do not cook until crisp.  You just want there to be some grease in the bottom of the skillet to sauté the onion.

Add the onions and saute until golden and tender.  By now your pan probably has a nice coating of brown stuff stuck to the bottom so we will use the wine to deglaze it and scrape up all the savory bits.

Push all the onions and bacon to one side of your pan.  Pour in the wine and scrape the bottom of the pan to remove the stuck-on goodness.

Once the bottom of the pan looks reasonably clean and all the wine has evaporated, add the green beans and enough water to cover.  Stir in salt and pepper to taste.

Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered until reduced, about 1 hour to 1 hour 30 minutes.  You want your beans to be nice and soft.  You can cover them for the last 20-30 minutes of cooking or add more liquid if needed.  Enjoy!