May 17, 2013
Sangria is always a crowd-pleaser and BONUS...it's a make-ahead part of your party AND once its made, it requires no maintenance! Two awesome features in my book!!
Oh yeah, and it tastes phenomenal too!
You would think that because I enjoy white wines, I would be the sort to go for a white wine sangria. Nope, I love the reds and over the years I have come up with what I think is the perfect sangria. The addition of the blackberry brandy gives it such a depth of flavor that is a hit at every party we serve it or wherever I have brought it over the years. It is always gone!
What is your preference red or white and do you have a signature sangria?? I would love to hear what it is if so.
You can easily customize sangria to your tastes and it travels well.
Barbeques, graduation parties, family reunions, weddings and wedding/baby showers are a all perfect place for this no maintenance cocktail. If it is a big party, you may want to serve both a red and a white sangria...why not!
May 15, 2013
In less than 3 weeks I will be heading to downtown Philly (my birthplace) for the weekend to attend Eat Write Retreat Conference. I attended my first one in DC the summer of 2011 and really enjoyed my whole experience...from the people I met, to the food we ate, to the speakers, workshops and excursions, it was fantastic! I can't wait to see some familiar faces and meet some new food loving friends!
One exciting feature of this years retreat is the Culinary Challenge. Attendees received a mystery box in the mail with one of the following - California Raisins, US Potatoes, California Ripe Olives or California Figs. One entry from each category will win some awesome prizes at an awards ceremony during the retreat. So fun!!
Honestly, I didn't even know which ingredient to wish for since they are all so great!!
What did I get?? Po-ta-toes!!
My kids and I had so much fun going through the variety of potatoes I was sent. My son and daughter may now know more about potatoes than anyone in their elementary school...I wonder if they will ever have a test on that?? Lol!
Who doesn't love potatoes?? They may seem humble, but man you can do SO much with them!! In addition to their incredible versatility, did you know that potatoes are naturally fat free, gluten-free and only have about 110 calories for a medium sized potato? Yup!! And my dear food-loving friends...leave the skins on...I almost always do! The additional nutrients the skins offer are just too good to pass up. Plus, I find that often I like the look the skin lends the dishes I make.
Whether you are watching your weight, in a hurry or just looking for a nutrient packed bite (hello vitamin C & Iron), potatoes are a great vehicle for so many foods, are spectacular on their own and pair so very well with an amazing amount of foods from eggs to kale! Did you know that potatoes lead the pack in the 20 top selling fruits and vegetables when it comes to potassium? Potatoes come in at 620 mg followed by broccoli at 460 mg and bananas at 450 mg! Who knew? Makes me love them for my family and I even more now! I grew up knowing the saying "an apple a day keeps the doctor away". Maybe they should change that to a potato!! For more information on the nutritional powerhouse that is the potato...click HERE.
For my appetizer, I thought about tiny pies, mini stuffed potatoes or hand pies but then I decided on a Flatbread, which are trendy at the moment but have long been delicious. Initially, I made it with prosciutto, potatoes and chives. But then I decided to make it meatless and substituted caramelized onions. I thought that a super satisfying meatless app was a great way to go! I have to say that both ways were good and my husband ate all of the taste tests I gave him. Love you babe!
Here is the beauty of this dish, you can take it anywhere you want it to go. Meat, no meat. Jazz it up with truffle salt, more herbs or cheese shavings. You can section it out to serve as apps or whip up half the recipe and make yourself a quick lunch or dinner, The whole thing can come together in 30 minutes.
Care for a closer look??
And guess what?? I snuck some grated potatoes into the bread itself, skins too - which now gives the flatbread more of a nutritional bang for your buck! I decided to drizzle some BBQ sauce and Greek yogurt on the flatbreads for an extra depth of flavor. I know many instantly think of sour cream for potatoes - but the Greek yogurt is a healthier alternative.
The creation of this recipe was a family affair - my 8 year old budding chef learned how to use a mandoline and sliced the potatoes for the top of the flatbread - I have the OXO Good Grips Mandoline and it is so easy and safe that I completely felt at ease with her using it (it is worth every penny...I use it more often than you would think). My 11 year old son grated the potatoes for the flatbread using our OXO Coarse Grater (which, I have to say, is hands-down is the best, easiest and quickest grater I have owned to-date) - it was done in an instant! And of course my taste-testing hubby gave me the thumbs up on the final recipe to go with. Love that! I hope this is a dish that you and your family can enjoy as well - Instead of your next Pizza Night - why not change it up and have a Flatbread Night, and don't forget to reach for potatoes!!
May 9, 2013
I love a good salad when and where I want it. I am not an eat-a-salad-every-day-kinda-gal. I want to crave one and then enjoy it so much that I don't leave a trace of it behind on my plate.
If someone asked me what my absolute favorite type of salad was - I think it would be very difficult for me to answer, BUT if I think about the type of salad I have made the most of as well as ordered out over the course of my life to date, I would be a Caesar salad....hands down.
Maybe it's all the garlic or the creamy dressing or the fresh shaved cheese...I really don't know. I'm just grateful that many years ago, someone thought it up!
To easily take a Caesar salad to a slightly different level I enjoy grilling the Romaine. Something about a warm salad satisfies me more than a cold one. The evening I made this salad, I spied 1 lonely avocado sitting on my counter and thought...hmmmm, I wonder if I could replace the 5 egg yolks I typically put in my dressing with that?
And I did!
And you can!
I was SOOOOOO yummy to me! Rich and creamy and still the similar Caesar flavor I crave.
This is a salad I could happily eat 3 times a week!
What is your favorite salad?? I always enjoy trying out a new one!
Here are a few other salads to try:
Simply put this Crispy Avocado, Bacon & Tomato Salad is a symphony of complimentary flavors and textures. - It's perfection on a plate!
THIS is my favorite summer salad I love to make it for when I am out by the pool, watching the kids. This Asian Salad with Fried Calamari satisfies me and always leaves me craving more.
If you enjoy figs, this Caramelized Fig & Goat Cheese Salad is for you! The beauty of this salad is that you can use fresh or dried figs so you can enjoy figs in your salad any time of the year!
May 7, 2013
I was at a party earlier this year and spied a bowl of vibrant green popcorn my friend Maria made and was instantly intrigued. I popped a few pieces in my mouth and was like "what WAS that??"
It was crunchy and sweet and it had a somewhat familiar flavor but I couldn't place it. All I knew is that I wanted more and that I couldn't wait to get me kids to try it!
It was FUN!!!
I love fun food for kids, I have always gone above and beyond to excite them, their friends, cousins and classmates with fin and tasty treats for whatever the occasion.
This weekend one of my nieces made her First Holy Communion and I wanted to do something fun for her. At first I thought I would hand decorate cross-shaped cookies, but then I thought...how about a fun and colorful popcorn bar?? So THAT is just what I did and boy was it a hit with the kiddos (both big and small...ahem you know who you are...suuuure the baggies you were taking home were for the kids, lol!!)! The kids kept gathering around the "Popcorn Bar" and trying all the colors and asking each other what their favorite was. Even my soon to be 2 year old niece was obsessed, happily chomping away throughout the day, while in her parents arms.
My beautiful niece on her special day!
Let me tell you...if you are ever going to a party where kids will be and you don't really know many people - THIS is an amazing ice breaker, everyone will be asking you about it. Your welcome for that tip lol!
Two of my favorite things about this recipe are: 1. You can make it ahead and 2. It's SO easy to transport. I didn't have a chance to snap a pic of the set up I had the day of - just place each color in its own bowl - inexpensive white plastic bowls work great - they contrast the colors and make it all stand out.
The popcorn setup looked so pretty and complimentary to the yellow dipped and decorated marshmallow pops my sister and our friend Becky made and the delicious chocolate and chocolate mousse filled cake - the kids and adults all had a great day filled with friends, family and fun food!
If you like surprising and delighting the kids in your life with fun food you might want to check out:
Edible Pretzel Art for kids to make and eat!Fun, easy and they travel well!
Edible Sand Art - Perfect activity for a party activity AND it doubles as the kids goodie-bag treat!
Another project they can make then eat - Ice Cream Pies...unleash their inner Picasso!
For more fun food for kids click on the link to the right "recipes for kids".
April 30, 2013
This month I have Marie from Texas! Marie runs the site Little Kitchie where she shares recipes. Marie is a little obsessed with biscuits - and that's not a bad thing! (We all have our food addictions right...hellooooo shrimp!) Check out her Tzatziki Biscuits - Boy do they sound good!
Marie sent me 2 stacks of her Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies which were delicious! They arrived on the perfect day for me as I was about to bake to refill our cookie jar, instead, I opened a package ate a couple and plopped them right in! Thanks Marie!!
I decided to send her one of our favorite party snacks. Something I have been meaning to post for a couple of years but never got around to...we devour these babies and I forget! My Sweet & Spicy Pecans.
I think the real reason I have never posted this is because I make them a bit different every time and I never write down what I am doing or I do scratch it down somewhere and later when I think of it I can never find it. But this time, I made sure not to lose track of what I did.
These are phenomenal by themselves....put them in a few small bowls at a party, scatter them around and watch them disappear! The men seem to find them first and they leave a trail to them like an ant does so that their buddies will find it to. These make a great addition to salads and I often put them out as part of a salad bar. And of course these make great gifts to teachers, neighbors, friends and family - Especially around the holidays! I have a habit of making these and packaging them up in a cute Longaberger mug or small dish and wallah - a great gift! They get something for now and something for later :)
I hope you enjoy these family favorites!!
Check out what else was zooming around the USA from kitchen to kitchen this month!
Savory Simple - Quinoa Energy Bars
Meadows Cooks - Intensely Chocolate Sables with Raspberry Cream
The Girl In The Little Red Kitchen - Cashew Butter and Blackerry Jam Thumbprint Cookies
Dining with Dani - Pancakes and Bacon Cookies
Juanita's Cocina - Butterscotch Browned Butter Blondies
Damn Delicious - Salted Caramel Pretzel Blondies
Eats Well With Others - Salted Caramel Shortbread
Farmgirl Gourmet - Sea Salted Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies
Frugal Foodie Mama - Cookie Butter Pecan Bars
Let's Give Peas a Chance - Chocolate Stout Brownies
Budget Gourmet Mom - Crisp Oatmeal Cookie Sandwiches
A Zesty Bite - Dulce de Leche Sugar Cookies
Sugar Dish Me - Strawberry Lemonade Loaf
Roxana's Home Baking - Chocolate chip bars
Little Kitchie - Salted Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Pineapple and Coconut - Pineapple Whoopie Pies with Coconut Cream Filling
O'Boy! Organic - Rhubarb Cake
MarocMama - Caramel Vanilla Bean Krispie Treats
Omeletta - Brown Sugar Meringues
Eat Bake Drink Cook - Everything Cookies
Healthy. Delicious. - Carrot Cake Granola
Souffle Bombay - Sweet & Spicy Pecans
The Spiced Life - Garam Masala Caramel Corn
Kelly Bakes - Raspberry Cream Marshmallows
Bakeaholic Mama - Chocolate Cookie Dough Macarons
Whey Beyond the Naked Truth - Chia Seed Protein Bites
April 28, 2013
Just about everyone loves a good sandwich...right? How about a warm sandwich...one that consists of gooey melted cheese and more?? To me, it takes a humble sandwich and elevates it to a spectacularly satisfying one.
Here is a delicious fun fact...April is National Grilled Cheese Month and when Land O' Lakes and Kitchen PLAY reached out to me to join 29 other bloggers and be a part of the Land O' Lakes 30 Days of Grilled Cheese, I jumped at the opportunity!
I had so much fun thinking about a number of unusual grilled cheese ideas and settled on this - my version of a Grilled Cheese Muffaletta.
It came together quickly and the results were a flavor explosion bite after bite. I played around with it and made it both with a bit of meat and meatless. I enjoyed the meatless more.
I chose to use Land O' Lakes® 4 Cheese Italian Blend which features a combination of Asiago, Parmesan and Romano Cheeses and blends them perfectly with American Cheese. When I ordered a pound of it at the deli counter gentleman behind the counter immediately exclaimed "That cheese is delicious!"
Muffaletta sandwiches usually feature multiple types of meats and cheeses along with a well made tapenade. I like the fact that I could pick up one cheese that had 4 flavors which lent this grilled cheese sandwich a depth of flavor yet was easy on the wallet. For something different, I used Naan for my bread, however you could use a Focaccia or Ciabatta or whatever bread you enjoy most.
You can easily adapt this recipe into a 2-for!! 2 dishes from one! Make the tapenade for both the sandwiches AND reserve some for straight up tapenade as an appetizer. The tapenade will keep for a week in the fridge and all you have to do is grab some pita chips or bread and you are good to go for another lunch, a snack, take with you to a party, put out for company or plop some in a mason jar and give it as a gift!
Throughout April until May 1, Land O’Lakes will donate $1 to Feeding America http://www.landolakes.com/feedingAmerica.aspx every time someone pins or repins a Land O’Lakes recipe on Pinterest. That’s eight meals for a hungry family when you pin a recipe – and eight more every time anyone else repins it. Giving goes viral. Find your favorite Grilled Cheese recipe to pin on www.landolakes.com. I really love it when companies find creative ways to help others HELP others.
What makes your ultimate grilled cheese?? What kind of bread do you use? Do you butter the bread or the griddle? What additional ingredients take your grilled cheese to the next level of flavor? Do you go classic? Or way out of the box? For grilled cheese ideas and inspiration, visit the Land O’Lakes website
2 big cloves garlic, peeled (2 TBS)
1/4 cup capers, drained
1 6 oz can black olives, pitted and drained
3/4 cup green olives with pimento
1 small jar (6 oz) artichokes, drained and blotted dry
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp olive oil
Black pepper to taste
Place garlic, capers, both olives and artichoke in your food processor bowl and pulse until combined. Scrape into a large bowl, add in the vinegar, olive oil and pepper and toss until combined. Set aside.
For your sandwich:
Naan or your chosen bread
1 small red onion, sliced thinly
3 slices of Land O' Lakes® 4 Cheese Italian Blend per sandwich
Brush each piece of your bread lightly with olive oil. Build your sandwich by placing tapenade, onion and cheese on your bread and using a panini press, griddle or pan cook until done, flipping once gently if applicable.
If using a panini press - heat press, once ready, press sandwich for 90 seconds, remove and enjoy.
If using a griddle or pan, add a tiny bit of olive oil, heat your pan to med-high and add sandwich, weigh sandwich down with a small skillet or press hard with the back of your spatula. Flip gently. Cook about 1 minute per side.
Notes: Tapenade is easily customized, add in a handful of sun-dried tomatoes, a spoonful or oregano, some fresh basil leaves or a squeeze of lemon - play around with it until you get the flavor you love. If you ARE using some of this as a straight up tapenade dip, add in another tsp of the vinegar and another TBS of olive oil and give it a good stir.
For the sandwich, feel free to double the cheese, some on top and some on bottom, add some meats like prosciutto, salami or ham. See where you can take it!