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Archive for 2017

TIP OF THE DAY: Make Patriotic Ice Pops

Red, White & Blue Ice Pops

Blueberry Yogurt Pop

Ice Pop Mold Substitute

[1] Patriotic ice pops for July 4th (photo courtesy Zulka minimally processed sugars). [2] If you’re buying new molds, we prefer “groovy” ones like this style, from Tovolo. The pop is bluebery-yogurt; hence, a lighter color than the pure, puréed berries in photo #1. [3] No molds? Use a loaf plan and slice the pops! Here’s how from Lynne at And Then I Do The Dishes.

 

If you have no plans this weekend, consider making something fun—like red, white and blue ice pops.

The vivid colors in these pops (photo #1) come from berries, strawberries and coconut milk. The berry purées can be made using either fresh or frozen berries.

Simply de-stem, wash and pat dry the fruits; then purée in the food processor [need we add, purée separately?).

If you’re serving them to a sophisticated crowd, you can get creative with herbs and spices, e.g.:

  • Add cayenne or red chile flakes to the strawberry layer.
  • Add ginger to the white layer.
  • Adding basil or mint to the kiwi or blueberry layer.
  •  
    You don’t want a hodgepodge, so flavor only one layer. Our personal favorite: heat in the red layer.

    If you don’t want to use coconut milk, substitute plain or vanilla yogurt. If you use vanilla, don’t add additional sweetener.

    RECIPE: RED, WHITE & BLUE ICE POPS

    Ingredients For 10 Ice Pops

  • 1 cup strawberry purée, cold
  • 1 cup coconut milk, cold
  • 1 cup blueberry purée, cold
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup water
  •  
    Plus

  • 10 compartment ice pop mold (or substitute)
  • 10 wood sticks (if molds don’t have individual handles)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the simple syrup: Bring water and sugar to a simmer in a small saucepan. Stir until sugar is dissolved and let cool.

    2. ADD 1 tablespoon of simple syrup to each of the purées and the coconut milk. Stir well. Fill molds 1/3 of the way with the strawberry purée. Place the lid on the mold and and the wood sticks, letting them protrude about 1/2 inch above the top. Let freeze 40-50 minutes or until somewhat firm.

    3. REMOVE the lid of the mold and fill compartments another third of the way with the coconut milk mixture. Replace the lid, making sure all of the sticks are in place; freeze another 40-50 minutes.

    4. REMOVE the lid and fill the compartments with the blueberry purée. Replace the lid and freeze completely, at least 8 hours or overnight. When ready to serve…

    5. RUN cool water over the sides of the mold and carefully loosen each pop by gently pulling on the handle or the stick. Remove all pops. If not serving immediately, wrap individually in plastic wrap and store in a freezer bag.

     
    WHAT IF YOU DON’T HAVE POPSICLE MOLDS?

    A friend saves small yogurt cups for this purpose; but if you haven’t planned ahead, you can use small paper or disposable plastic cups.

    You can also use a loaf pan (photo #3) and slice the pops.

    Don’t forget the wooden sticks!
     
     
    ICE POP VS. POPSICLE

    Popsicle® is a trademarked name owned by Unilever’s Good Humor Division (here’s the history of the Popsicle and the Creamsicle®).

    Everything else should be called by the generic term, “ice pop.”

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Bruschetta From The Grill

    Firing up the grill this weekend? Make bruschetta (pronounced broo-SKEH-tuh).

    We love a DIY bruschetta bar. Just rub the bread with garlic, brush it with extra virgin olive oil, grill, and place the slices on a platter along with all the fixings.

    Even easier, brush the bread with garlic olive oil! You can buy it, or infuse your own in advance by dropping halved garlic cloves into a cup of olive oil (or however much you think you’ll need). Any leftover oil can go right into a vinaigrette.

    Bruschetta originated in the Tuscany region of Italy, where it is commonly served as a snack or appetizer. It may have been the original garlic bread.

    Plus, we have our own invention dessert bruschetta, below.

    BRUSCHETTA VS. CROSTINI: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

    There are two factors:

  • The size of the bread slice.
  • The cooking technique: grilling versus toasting.
  •  
    Bruschetta slices are larger, three or four inches in diameter) and grilled. Crostini, cut from a ficelle, a thinner baguette about two inches wide (the word is French for “string”).

    You can use bread of a different diameter; but if it isn’t grilled, it isn’t bruschetta.

    Here’s how to remember the difference:

  • The verb bruscare is Roman dialect meaning “to roast over coals.” But there’s something simpler.
  • Think of crostini as crust or crouton (which is its literal meaning). Toast has a crust. That’s how we taught ourself to recognize the difference.
  • While Italians serve bruschetta as a snack, the smaller crostini can be served plain with soup and salad, like the original melba toast.
  •  
    Note that some American manufacturers and others in the food industry misuse the term, selling jars of “bruschetta.” To be accurate, it should be labeled bruschetta topping). Bruschetta is the grilled bread, not the topping.

    RECIPE: DIY BRUSCHETTA BAR

    The simplest bruschetta topping is salt and pepper (i.e., seasoned garlic bread), but that’s for a bread basket.

    Almost any cheese, fruit, meat, spread or vegetable can be a topping. Toppings can be cooked, marinated, pickled, raw or smoked.

    For a DIY bar, offer at least three different toppings. We like everything, so tend to go overboard: Our toppings look like a buffet. Regarding bread, we prefer a crusty sourdough or rustic loaf.

  • Be sure the loaf will give you slices of a workable size.
  • If you’re not familiar with the particular loaf, ask to ensure that it doesn’t have holes for the toppings to fall through.
  • We have the loaves sliced at the store, then we cut the slices in half.
  •  
    Along with the bread, make sure you have fresh garlic and check your olive oil for freshness.

    Ingredients

  • Baguette or other loaves of bread
  • Olive oil, salt, pepper and peeled, halved garlic cloves
  •  
    For The Toppings

  • Avocado, mashed and seasoned (garlic, salt, pepper, lemon juice, etc.)
  • Caprese: quartered cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, balsamic glaze
  • Charcuterie: pâté, prosciutto, salume, etc.
  • Cheeses: ricotta, ricotta salata, soft goat cheese
  • Fresh basil, julienned/shredded
  • Fruit: sliced figs
  • Garnishes: capers, chopped herbs, chopped mixed olives
  • Greens: baby arugula or watercress
  • Heat: raw jalapeños slices, grilled chile peppers
  • Marinated artichoke hearts (chopped)
  • Mushrooms, marinated
  • Onions: caramelized, chives, chopped green onions (scallions)
  • Peppadews, sliced
  • Pimento, chopped or sliced
  • Raw and cooked veggies of choice: asparagus, grilled vegetables, sliced radishes, etc.
  • Spreads: bean, hummus, pimento cheese, tapenade
  • Tomatoes: sliced plain or marinated in oil and vinegar
  •  
     
    More options: shredded mozzarella or other cheese such as thinly-sliced Brie, fish (we have a passion for anchovies and herring salad on bruschetta), other marinated vegetables, mostarda.

    We also like eggplant caponata, pesto and sautéed mushrooms, but tend to use them more in cooler weather.

     

    Bruschetta Bar

    Rustic Loaf

    Rustic Loaf

    Bruschetta Bar

    Strawberry Bruschetta

    [1] Who needs a burger? We’re heading for the bruschetta bar (photo courtesy What’s Gaby Cooking).[2] Buy bread that has a pretty solid crumb (photo courtesy The Stone Soup). [3] This loaf is beautiful, but not for holding toppings (photo courtesy Bake Street). [4] A bruschetta bar from Countryside Cravings. [5] Dessert bruschetta, here with goat cheese (the recipe from Emily Bites). We use mascarpone.

    Preparation

    1. SET out the toppings and teaspoons for serving. We use ramekins; you can use any bowls you have.

    2. SLICE the bread from 1/2″ to 3/4″ thick. Rub each side with cut garlic clove and brush each side with olive oil. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Grill to your desired toastiness.

    3. PLACE the bread on a platter next to the toppings and watch people create their appetizers.
     
     
    DESSERT BRUSCHETTA

    Most people won’t have seen dessert bruschetta. We don’t know if we invented it, but our sweet tooth gave us the idea years ago.

    Start with a loaf of bread with dried fruit, such as cherries or raisins. For toppings:

  • Artisan preserves
  • Flavored peanut butter (chocolate, cinnamon, maple, etc.)
  • Fruits: berries; sliced dates, figs, grapes and stone fruits
  • Honey
  • Mascarpone or sweetened sour cream
  • Nutella
  • Garnishes: chocolate chips, coconut, nuts, etc.
  •   

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Iced Coffee, Drink Or Cocktail

    Black Iced Coffee

    Light Iced Coffee

    Iced Coffee

    Iced Coffee

    russian-iced-coffee-delonghi-230

    [1] Black iced coffee (photo courtesy Nescafe). [2] Iced coffee, light (photo courtesy Peets). [3] With half-and-half (photo courtesy Coffeemania). [4] Thai iced coffee (photo courrtesy Peets). [5] White Russian (photo courtesy DeLonghi).

     

    Many people can’t live without iced coffee. We see them walking around on the coldest winter days, sipping from jumbo cups of it.

    For more celebratory occasions, how about spiked ice coffee?

    It’s as simple as adding liqueur or a shot of your favorite spirit to a basic iced coffee.

    You can turn it into a party experience, too.

    PREPARATION TIPS

  • Keep the coffee in the fridge until you need to pour it. You’ll need fewer ice cubes, which dilute the drink. Or…
  • Make coffee ice cubes. We do this with whatever leftover coffee is in the pot; or you can make it from scratch. Just pour into an ice cube tray, freeze, and move the frozen cubes to a storage bag or container, freeing the ice cube for more cubes. Plan ahead and you’ll have enough for a party.
  •  
    If you’re having guests:

  • Make regular and decaf coffee. If you’re an uber*-host, make iced espresso as well.
  • Provide different sweeteners: non-caloric, superfine sugar and agave or simple syrup. Agave has a lower glycemic index, but as twice as sweet as sugar, so you use half the amount.
  • Have an assortment of milks, from fat-free to regular to half-and-half, plus a non-dairy milk.
  • Have cans of Reddi-Wip at hand so guests can have fun garnishing their own. Bonus points: provide both Original and Chocolate Reddi-Wip.
  •  
    Consider a DIY bar with different flavor additions.

  • Extracts: almond, anise, vanilla or other extract.
  • Flavored syrups: chocolate, hazelnut, vanilla.
  • Liquers: Bailey’s/Carolan’s Irish Cream, Magnum Scotch Cream Liqueur, Cointreau/Grand Marnier, Creme de Cacao/Godiva, Kahlúa, or other favorite. Note that liqueurs add sweetness. Taste first, then sweeten.
  • Spirits: Rum, tequila, vodka.
  • Spices: ground cayenne, chile, cinnamon, nutmeg.
  • ________________
    *For a millennia before it was a car service, it was an adjective. It still is.
     
     
    RECIPE #1: KAHLÚA ICED COFFEE

    Just add Kahlúa or other coffee liqueur to iced coffee, black or with milk.

    Ingredients For 1 Drink

  • 1 part Kahlúa
  • 2 parts iced coffee
  • Ice
  • Optional garnish: whipped cream, rough-ground coffee beans
  •  
    Preparation

    1. FILL the glass (or pitcher) with ice and iced coffee.

    2. ADD the Kahlúa, stir, and garnish as desired.
     
     
    RECIPE #2: THAI ICED COFFEE

    Thai iced coffee uses strong, bitter coffee—such as espresso, French roast or Italian roast—which acts as a counterpoint to the rich cream and the sweetened condensed milk. This is a sweet drink: There are no sugar-free versions.

    You can even use leftover coffee. While coffee purists may shudder at the thought, the sweetened condensed milk masks any notes they might have detected. Similarly, you can use strong instant coffee.

    Ingredients Per Serving

  • 8 ounces of strongly brewed coffee
  • 2-4 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk (the more you use, the sweeter the drink)
  • 1/4 cup cream, half and half or evaporated milk
  • Optional: dash of ground cardamom, cinnamon or nutmeg
  • Ice cubes
  •  
    Preparation

    1. POUR coffee into a mixing container (we use a repurposed glass orange juice bottle).

    2. ADD 4-6 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk and optional spices; stir well until dissolved. Refrigerate for one hour or longer to chill.

    3. ADD a few ice cubes to two tall glasses and fill with the cold coffee mixture. Top off with the cream. As the cream sinks, it makes an attractive swirl.

    After you make the first batch, taste it and adjust the recipe. Add more sweetened condensed milk if you want a sweeter drink, or more cream if you want a richer drink or if the coffee is too strong.
     
    Dessert Variation

    Add a scoop of coffee or vanilla ice cream; garnish with whipped cream and toasted coconut flakes.

     
    RECIPE #3: WHITE RUSSIAN ICED COFFEE

    Iced coffee with a shot of vodka: Now there’s an idea for chillaxing on a summer day. If you want a serious cocktail, you can make an old-school Black Russian or a White Russian with these (recipes).

    You can make a White Mexican with tequila or a White Caribbean with rum.

    If you don’t normally sweeten your iced coffee, leave out the sugar. Adjust the ingredients proportions based on the size of the glass you are using.

    RECIPE: RUSSIAN ICED COFFEE

    Ingredients For 1 Drink

  • Chilled or room temperature espresso
  • Sugar to taste
  • 1 shot of vodka
  • Light cream or half and half to taste
  • Crushed ice
  • Optional garnish: whipped cream
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BREW the espresso coffee. Let cool. Add the sugar and the vodka.

    2. POUR into a glass and top with cream. Add crushed ice, stir and serve.

     

      

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    TIP FOR MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND: Red, White & Blue Recipes

    Red, white and blue colors are not just for July 4th. Memorial Day is an equally patriotic holiday.

    Memorial Day honors the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military.

    Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War (1861 to 1865), which saw the largest loss of life of any American war. An estimated 620,000 soldiers died in the conflict—roughly 2% of the U.S. population, in addition to countless civilians.

    By the late 1860s, Americans in various communities had begun holding springtime tributes to the fallen soldiers, decorating their graves with flowers and reciting prayers.

    In 1966 the federal government declared Waterloo, New York, the official birthplace of Memorial Day. It first celebrated Memorial Day on May 5, 1866, and was selected because it hosted an annual, community-wide event, during which businesses closed and residents decorated the graves of soldiers with flowers and flags.

    Memorial Day became an official federal holiday in 1971. Each year on Memorial Day a national moment of silent remembrance takes place at 3:00 p.m., local time. [source]
     
     
    MEMORIAL DAY RECIPES

    Even if you’re spending a quiet weekend at home, you can celebrate Memorial Day with a patriotic bite or two. Here’s a group of recipes to bite into.

    Some are so easy that all you have to do is put the ingredients together: no cooking.

    You can use the same red, white and blue recipes for Independence Day and Labor Day, which honors the contributions that American workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws and well-being of the country.
     
     
    MEMORIAL DAY BREAKFAST RECIPES

  • Red Velvet Pancakes (recipe)
  • Red, White & Blueberry Muffins (recipe)
  • Poached Eggs or Egg White Omelet With A Side Of Red & Blue Berries
  • Yogurt Parfait With Star-Shaped Toast (recipe)
  •  
    MEMORIAL DAY SIDE & MAIN DISH RECIPES

  • Apple Ginger Cole Slaw (recipe)
  • Blue Cheese & Red Vegetables (recipes)
  • Chilled Raspberry Soup With Blueberries(recipe)
  • Firecracker Macaroni & Cheese (recipe)
  • Patriotic Cheeseburger (recipe)
  • Red, White & Blue Potato Salad (recipe 1 and recipe 2)
  • Star-Shaped Sandwich Skewers (recipe)
  • Tomato & Mozzarella Skewers (recipe)
  •  
     
    MEMORIAL DAY SNACK RECIPES

  • American Flag Crudité Plate (recipe)
  • American Flag Fruit Skewers (photo)
  • Bacon Flag Pizza (recipe)
  • Cheese American Flag (recipe)
  • Marshmallow Pops (recipe)
  • Red, White & Blue Ice Pops (recipe)
  • Red, White & Blue Popcorn (recipe)
  • Stuffed Celery (recipe)
  •  

    Red, White & Blue Yogurt Parfait

    Red, White & Blue Fruit Skewers

    Patriotic Sangria

    Patriotic Drink

    COULDN’T BE EASIER: [1] Yogurt plus berries. For fun, cut star-shaped toast with cookie cutters (photo courtesy Smuckers). [2] American Flag fruit skewers (photo courtesy [the former] Stix Mediterranean Grill | NYC). [3] Layer white sangria or pink lemonade in a pitcher with berries. You can find the recipe on the Svedka website). [4] Cocktails or mocktails, from Cosmos and Pomtinis to pomegranate juice mocktails (photo courtesy The Clean Dish).

     

    Red, White & Blue Cupcakes

    Patriotic Dessert

    Patriotic Naked Cake

    WHO WANTS DESSERT? [5] Add a simple cupcake garnish (photo courtesy Go Bold With Butter). [6] Ice cream with sauces, berries, even a blue macaron serving as the top and bottom of an ice cream sandwich (photo courtesy Vandal | NYC). [7] Just bake the layers, and top with red, white and blue (photo courtesy Good Eggs).

     

    MEMORIAL DAY BEVERAGE RECIPES & PRODUCTS

  • American Amber Ale
  • Chandon July 4th Limited Edition Sparkling Wine
  • Any sparkling wine with a splash of red liqueur, such as Alizé Red Passion or Remy Martin Red Berry Infusion (first the liqueur, then top with the wine).
  • Red, White & Blue Ice Cubes (recipe)
  • Red, White & Blue Layered Cocktail (recipe)
  • Red, White & Blue Sangria With Cocktail Option (recipe)
  • Red, White & Blue Layered Shooter (recipe)
  • Red, White & Blue Lemonade & Hard Lemonade (recipe)
  • Red, White & Blue Limited Edition vodka bottles, like this one from Svedka.
  • Red, White & Blue Sorbet Float (recipe)
  • Red, White & Blue Tequila Shooters (recipe 1 and recipe 2)
  • Spicy Hot Lemonade
  •  
     
    MEMORIAL DAY DESSERT RECIPES

  • American Flag Cookies (recipe)
  • American Flag Brownie Ice Cream Cake (recipe)
  • American Flag Pie (recipe)
  • Blueberry Cherry Pie With Stars & Stripes Top (recipe)
  • Oreo Cookie Balls (recipe)
  • Red, White & Blue Cheesecake (recipe)
  • Red, White & Blue Cupcakes (recipe)
  • Red, White & Blue Frosted Layer Cake (recipe 1, recipe 2,
    recipe 3)
  • Pavlova (recipe)
  • Red, White & Blue Grilled Angel Food Cake (recipe)
  • Red, White & Blue Parfaits (recipe)
  • Red, White & Blue Shortcake (recipe)
  • Red, White & Blue Tartlets (recipe)
  • Red, White & Blue Whoopie Pies (recipe)
  • Starfruit
  • Triple Berry Biscuit Shortcake (recipe)
  • Stars & Stripes Toll House Cookies (recipe)
  • Strawberry & Blueberry Parfait (recipe)
  • Red Velvet, White & Blue Cupcakes (recipe)
  •  
     
    MORE MEMORIAL DAY RECIPE IDEAS

  • More Recipes 1
  • More recipes 2
  •  

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: One-Pan Chicken Dinner

    We love the convenience of one-pan dinners. This one, from Good Eggs, makes yogurt-marinated chicken with spring veggies.

    If you marinate the chicken two hours before (overnight, it takes just 15 minutes to prepare plus 8 minutes to cook. You should make the yogurt sauce at the same time.

    Note that with chicken, dairy-based marinades, such buttermilk or yogurt, do the best job of tenderizing. They are only mildly acidic, so don’t toughen meat the way strongly acidic marinades do.

    Don’t like turmeric? Substitute cumin or paprika. You can also add onion, lemon juice and ginger.

    The chicken gets charred to smoky. You can stuff the chicken and vegetables into pita or serve the pita on the side.
     
    RECIPE: YOGURT-MARINATED CHICKEN THIGHS WITH SPRING VEGETABLES

    Ingredients

    Gauge the amounts based on how many servings you’re preparing.

  • Plain yogurt
  • Turmeric, garlic, salt and pepper to taste
  • Boned chicken thighs
  • Asparagus
  • Spring onions (substitute scallions)
  • Zucchini
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Pita
  •  
    For The Yogurt Sauce

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Fresh dill, garlic, salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ teaspoon salt, more to taste
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice (from 1 large lime), more to taste
  •  
    Serve With

  • Spring green salad mix and lemon vinaigrette
  •  

    One Pan Chicken Dinner

    Boneless Chicken Thighs

    Ground Turmeric

    [1] Mediterranean-inspired chicken dinner (photo courtesy Good Eggs). [2] Boneless chicken thighs (photo courtesy Maple Leaf Health and Hospitality). [3] Ground turmeric (photo courtesy True Food Kitchen).

     
    Preparation

    1. PRE-marinate the chicken and make the yogurt sauce: Whisk together the yogurt, mint, oil, lime juice and salt. If too thick, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water. Use a Microplane to finely grate garlic into the bowl. Stir, taste and adjust salt and lime juice as needed.

    2. PREHEAT the broiler. Trim the spring onions and asparagus and slice into 1-inch pieces. Slice the zucchini in quarters lengthwise, then into into 1-inch pieces, so they’re similar in size to the asparagus pieces.

    3. LINE a large baking sheet pan with aluminum foil and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Spread the oil with the back of a spoon (or your fingers) to coat, and fill the pan with chicken and vegetables in a single layer.

    4. DRIZZLE the chicken and vegetables with olive oil. Use your hands to coat the vegetables in olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Broil for 7-8 minutes, until the chicken is a cooked through and a bit charred. While the broiler’s on…

    5. WRAP the pitas in foil, and place in the oven on lower rack to heat. Serve the chicken and vegetables in pita with the yogurt sauce; or serve the yogurt on the side as a dipping sauce.

    Here’s a video.

      

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