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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Holidays & Occasions

RECIPE: Blackberry Mojito

Enhance the celebration of National Mojito Day, July 11th.

There’s enough red, white and blue here for Independence Day; but take advantage of summer’s lush blackberries to whip them up all season long.

The Mojito (pronounced moe-hee-toe) is Cuba’s most famous cocktail. This variation adds fresh fruit to the original recipe.

It is important that the blackberries and mint are gently muddled—never crushed—to release their flavors but not release harsh or bitter tannins into the beverage. A wooden spoon or a firm silicone spatula can be used in place of a muddler.

RECIPE: BLACKBERRY MOJITO

Ingredients For 2 Drinks

  • 12 blackberries
  • 12 large mint leaves
  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 cup seltzer water
  • 1/4 cups vodka or rum
  • 6 to 8 ice cubes
  • Garnish: fresh blackberry and lime wedge
  •    

    blackberry-mojito-driscolls-230

    Beautiful and delicious: a Blackberry Mojito. Photo courtesy Driscoll’s.

     

     

    http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photography-ripe-blackberries-bowl-food-close-up-image33432102

    A bodacious bowl of blackberries. Photo ©
    Olha Afanasieva | Dreamstime.

     

    Preparation

    1. MUDDLE blackberries, mint leaves, sugar, lemon juice and lime juice in a tall glass until berries are mostly crushed.

    2. ADD seltzer, vodka, and ice. Stir well and serve.

     
    WHAT’S A MOJITO?

    The mojito (mo-HEE-toe) is a quintessential Cuban cocktail. The name derives from the African voodoo term mojo, to cast a small spell.

    According to Bacardi Rum, the drink can be traced to 1586, when Sir Francis Drake and his pirates unsuccessfully attempted to sack Havana for its gold. His associate, Richard Drake, was said to have invented a Mojito-like cocktail known as El Draque that was made with aguardiente, a crude forerunner of rum, sugar, lime and mint.

    Around the mid-1800s, when the Bacardi Company was established, rum was substituted and the cocktail became known as a Mojito. Here’s the original Mojito recipe.

    Always popular in Cuba, the drink made a short journey to Key West, and then into American cocktail society. Under the radar for many years as wine apéritifs topped cocktails in popularity, the Mojito has enjoyed a renaissance in the last 20 years thanks to the growing popularity of Latin American cuisine.

     
    MORE MOJITO RECIPES

  • Beet Mojito Recipe
  • Cranberry Mojito Recipe
  • Pomegranate Mojito Recipe
  • Strawberry Mojito and Coconut Mojito Recipes
  •   

    Comments

    RECIPE: Tequila Watermelon Ice Pops

    We’ve got watermelon left over from July 4th, so today we’re juicing it and transforming it into ice pops—with tequila, thanks to this recipe from LoveAndOliveOil.com.

    Here’s the whole story. Check out the site’s many beautiful recipes.

    RECIPE: TEQUILA WATERMELON ICE POPS

    Ingredients For 6 Pops

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup watermelon juice (from about 1/2 a small watermelon)
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 2 tablespoons tequila
  • Ice pop molds
  •  
    For a red, white and blue theme, toss in some blueberries.

     

    tequila-watermelon-popsicles-loveandoliveoil-230

    Frosty, beautiful and spiked with tequila. Photo courtesy Love And Olive Oil.

     

    Preparation

    1. COMBINE water and sugar in a microwave safe container or glass measuring cup. Heat on high for 30 seconds to 1 minute and stir until sugar is dissolved and mixture is clear. Set aside to cool.

    2. MAKE the watermelon juice: Roughly chop the watermelon. You’ll need about 3 cups of chopped melon to produce about a cup of juice. Run the melon through a food mill if you have one, or crush and then strain through a fine mesh sieve.

    3. COMBINE watermelon juice, sugar syrup, lime juice and zest, and tequila in a small bowl or pitcher. Pour into ice pop molds. Insert sticks and freeze until solid.
     
    MORE GOURMET ICE POP RECIPES

    Beyond the simple treats of childhood, ice pops have been elevated to gourmet treats. Consider adding some of these recipe books to your repertoire:

  • Ice Pops: Recipes for Fresh and Flavorful Frozen Treats: Recipes include chocolate ice pops swirled with vanilla or layered with raspberries, custard-based cheesecake and caramel pops and green tea with pomegranate.
  • Irresistible Ice Pops: Learn to stripe, swirl, and layer flavors within pops to create new flavor combinations.
  • Perfect Pops: The 50 Best Classic & Cool Treats: Beyond fruit and juice, creative, of-the-moment flavors.
  •   

    Comments

    JULY 4TH: Red, White & Blue Ice Pops

    We received this perfect July 4th ice pop recipe from Zulka, producers of sugars that are minimally processed and come straight from freshly-harvested sugar cane. There‘s more about the company below.

    The vivid colors 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.

    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
  • 10 compartment ice pop mold (or equivalent molds that will make 10 pops)
  • 10 wood sticks (if molds don’t have individual handles)
  •    

    red-white-blue-popsicles-zulkasugar-230

    Great-looking ice pops for July 4th. Photo courtesy Zulka.

     

    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 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.

     

    zulka-morena-cane-sugar-2-230

    High quality sugar that’s superior to
    commodity brands. Photo courtesy Zulka.

     

    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 “ice pop.”
     

    ABOUT ZULKA

    More than 100 years ago, the Zulka family built mills among the lush sugar fields of Mexico, in a tropical area ideal for sugar cane farming. They remain a family-run company, continually investing and modernizing so that these same facilities can process more than six million tons of fresh-cut sugarcane each year.

    All of the sugar cane they process comes from local small family farms, owned by hard-working people who are dedicated to producing top quality sugar cane. “We are proud of our workers, partners, and product,” says Zulka.

    With most sugar coming from enormous, soul-less companies, it’s a great mission to support. Check the store locator to see where you can buy Zulka products.

     

    You can also find them on Amazon.com in white sugar, brown sugar and individual white sugar packets.

    The company will soon be introducing powdered sugar and chili sugar, with a touch of chili spice.

    Find more delicious recipes on Zulka.com.

      

    Comments

    JULY 4TH RECIPE: Oreo Cookie Balls

    oreo-cookie-balls-230

    July 4th Oreo Cookie Balls. Photo courtesy
    Kraft.

     

    This no-bake recipe for Oreo Cookie Balls is fun to bring to a July 4th event. It’s easy enough so that you can delgate it to younger members of the household, who may just discover a love of making their own desserts.

    Just by changing the garnish, it can be customized for Chanukah, Christmas, St. Patrick’s Day, Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day. There are also links below to recipes that add specific touches for different special occasions.

    RECIPE: OREO COOKIE BALLS

    Recipe For 48 Pieces

  • 1 package (8 ounces) Philadelphia cream cheese, softened
  • 36 OREO cookies, finely crushed
  • 3 packages (4 ounces each) white chocolate, broken into pieces, melted
  • 1 tablespoon red, white and blue multi-colored sprinkles (or other colors to match the season or occasion
  • Preparation

    1. MIX cream cheese and cookie crumbs until blended.

    2. SHAPE into 48 (1-inch) balls. Freeze 10 min. Dip in melted chocolate (see dipping tip below); place on waxed paper-covered rimmed baking sheet. Top with sprinkles.

    3. REFRIGERATE 1 hour or until firm.

     

    How to Easily Dip Cookie Balls

    To easily coat cookie balls with the melted chocolate, add the balls, in batches, to bowl of melted chocolate.

  • Use 2 forks to roll the balls in chocolate until evenly coated.
  • Remove the balls with forks, letting excess chocolate drip back into bowl.
  • Place the balls on a prepared baking sheet; let stand until chocolate coating is firm.
  • Store extras in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator.
  •  

    oreos-melting-snowmen-kraft-230

    Melting Snowmen Oreo Cookie Balls. Here’s the recipe. Photo courtesy Kraft.

     
    MORE OREO COOKIE BALLS RECIPES

  • For Anytime: Oreo Raspberry Cookie Balls and Triple Double Oreo Tartufo
  • For Chocolaholics: all chocolate Oreo Cookie Balls
  • For Christmas: Peppermint Oreo Cookie Balls
  • For Glamour: paint with edible gold dust and top with a chocolate-covered coffee bean
  • For Halloween: tint the white chocolate coating orange, paint the jack o’lantern face with melted chocolate or gels and use bits of pretzel thins for the stems
  • For St. Patrick’s Day: Oreo Mint Cookie Balls
  • For Valentine’s Day: Oreo Cherry Cookie Balls
  • For Winter: Melting Snowmen Oreo Cookie Balls
  •   

    Comments

    JULY 4TH FOOD FUN: American Flag Cookies

    We love food “craft projects.” Here, turn graham crackers into flag cookies with this fun family recipe from Pillsbury. In fact, as part of your Fourth of July celebration, let your kids make this easy snack craft.

    Prep time is just five minutes.

    RECIPE: AMERICAN FLAG COOKIES

    Ingredients

  • 1 double graham cracker (5 x 2-1/2 inches)
  • 1 tablespoon fluffy white frosting
  • 1/2 roll strawberry Fruit Roll-Ups or other red fruit leather
  • 4 Fruit Gushers blue fruit flavored snacks or fresh blueberries
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SPREAD one side of graham cracker with frosting.

     

    A food craft project for kids. Photo courtesy Pillsbury.

     
    2. UNROLL Fruit Roll-Ups; remove paper. With kitchen scissors, cut 4 strips from fruit flavored snack, 5 x 1/4 inch each.
     
    3. ARRANGE strips on frosted cracker to form 4 evenly spaced horizontal strips. Arrange Fruit Gushers or blueberries in the left top corner for stars on the flag.

      

    Comments

    JULY 4th: American Flag Cake

    A tasty flag! Photo courtesy SecretLifeOfAChefsWife.com.

     

    What a great dessert surprise for July 4th!

    This flag cake originated on 17andBak­ing.com, and was reposted on SecretLifeOfAChefsWife.com.

    Elissa, who posted the recipe at age 17 (she’s now 21), said at the time:

    “While I wish I could claim credit for it, the idea of a flag cake was completely my father’s. It was all a bit of an experiment and when I finally cut the cake open, revealing the familiar red white and blue, I was so surprised to see that it worked.”

    You can use any recipe for a three layer white cake. Elissa deliberately made the cake completely white on the outside, with a cream cheese frosting flavored with lime zest. Cutting into a plain cake makes the flag motif an even bigger surprise.

    Are you dying to make it? Here’s the recipe.

     

     
      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Stars & Stripes Jell-O Shots

    Perfect for a July 4th celebration: red, white and blue Jell-O shots.

    All you need is a mini star silicon mold, like this one from Wilton. You can probably pick one up locally, where July 4th-themed housewares or are sold (or a good baking supplies department).

    Then, just follow this recipe on GoodCocktails.com.

    And plan ahead for red, green and white Jello-O shots for Christmas, using lime Jell-O instead of Berry Blue.

    Jell-O shots are made by substituting approximately one third to one half of the second cup of liquid added to Jell-O powder (the first cup is the boiling water that dissolves the gelatin.

    Vodka or rum are popular (flavored vodkas add another flavor dimension), but the shots can be made with any alcohol. Note that the alcohol blended into the Jell-O is absorbed much more slowly than in a cocktail, resulting in abject drunkenness on the part of those who underestimate how much alcohol they have consumed.

     

    star-jello-shots-goodcocktail-230sq

    Mix up some fireworks with these patriotic Jell-O shots. Photo courtesy GoodCocktail.com.

     

    WHO INVENTED THE JELL-O SHOT?

    No, the Jell-O shot was not invented by American singer-songwriter Tom Lehrer in the 1950s. He is well known for writing about it, making the recipe as a subterfuge to consume alcohol on the alcohol-restricted Army base where he was stationed.

    Jell-O shots seem like a modern concept, but Jell-O itself (flavored, sweetened gelatin) was invented in 1897. Beginning in the 1400s, gelatin (protein produced from collagen extracted from boiled animal bones and connective tissues) had been used to make desserts.

    In 1862, the first modern cocktail recipe book was published in the U.S.: Jerry Thomas’ Bartenders Guide. You can still buy it (reprinted) on Amazon.com.

    Thanks to some pretty crafty sleuthing on the part of JelloShotRecipe.Blogspot.com, you can see a photocopy of the first known recipe for a molded gelatin-alcohol combination.

    Jerry Thomas advises: “The strength of the punch is so artfully concealed by its admixture with the gelatine, that many persons, particularly of the softer sex, have been tempted to partake so plentifully of it as to render them somewhat unfit for waltzing or quadrilling after supper.”

    That sounds so much more charming than “abject drunkenness.”

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Red, White & Blue Soft Drinks & Cocktails

    red-white-blue-berries-herradura-230

    Drink red, white and blue for July 4th. Photo
    courtesy Herradura Tequila.

     

    You can turn any clear drink into a July 4th cocktail or mocktail, as Herradura Tequila has done with its “Red, White & Blueberries” Cocktail.

    Just start with a clear spirit or mixer, layer on other flavors (clear liqueurs, coconut water, etc.)

  • Club Soda
  • Mineral Water
  • Seven-Up/Lemon Lime Soda
  • Tonic Water
  • Gin, Tequila or Vodka
  •  
    RECIPE: TEQUILA RED, WHITE & BLUE

    Ingredients For 1 Drink

  • 1½ ounces silver/blanco tequila
  • 2½ ounces coconut water
  • ¼ ounce agave nectar
  • ½ ounce lime juice
  • Ice cubes
  • Optional: crushed ice
  •  
    For Garnish

  • Blueberries and raspberries
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PLACE berries and crushed ice in the glass.

    2. COMBINE drink ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Shake and strain into the glass.
     

    Find more cocktail recipes at Herradura.com.
     
      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Red, White & Blueberry Layer Cake

    As a follow-up to the lovely red, white and blueberry shortcake, here’s another stunner. The “ooh” factor comes from the number of layers: five.

    You can top it with whatever fresh fruit is in season, but for July 4th, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries are appropriately festive.

    Chef Sarah of the Los Gatos, California Sur La Table store adapted this recipe from one on Wilton.com.

    Strawberries are hidden atop the frosting of each layer, but you can customize the cake to any occasion. For example:

  • Choose different seasonal fruits.
  • Substitute chocolate chips, coconut, nuts or other inclusions for the strawberries.
  •  
    You can also vary the flavor and color of the cake layers:

  • Alternate three lemon flavored layers with two vanilla layers, or vice versa.
  • Tint the batter with a different food colors to make a rainbow cake.
  •    

    red-white-blue-layer-cake-chefsarah-SLT-230

    An impressive tower of cake, for July 4th or other festive occasion. Photo courtesy Sur La Table.

     
    For more vanilla flavor, Chef Sarah suggests substituting vanilla bean paste for all or part of the vanilla extract. (Check out the different types of vanilla products.)
     
    RECIPE: RED, WHITE & BLUEBERRY LAYER CAKE

    Ingredients For One 5-Layer Cake

    For The 5 Cake Layers

  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1-1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 4 egg whites
  • ¼ cup blueberries
  • 2 to 3 cups sliced strawberries
  •  
    For The Garnish

  • Assorted whole blue and red berries for the top: blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries
  •  

    nielsen-bourbon-paste-230


    Vanilla bean paste provides more vanilla
    flavor than extract. In recipes where the
    moisture level is critical, it doesn’t add liquid.
    Photo by Claire Freierman | THE NIBBLE.

     

    For The Icing

  • 1½ cups (3 sticks butter), softened
  • 2½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 cups (about 1½ pounds) sifted confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons milk
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 325°F. Prepare cake pans with vegetable spray.

    2. SIFT together in medium bowl the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside. In large bowl, beat butter and sugar with electric mixer until light and fluffy.

    3. ADD egg whites one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and beat well. Add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with milk; beat until just combined.

    4. DIVIDE batter evenly among the 5 cake pans, about ¾ cup per pan. Bake 17 to 20 minutes, rotating pans halfway between baking. Cakes are done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

    5. COOL 5 minutes on cooling rack; remove from pans and cool completely before icing.

     

    4. MAKE icing: Beat shortening and butter in large bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry. Gradually add milk; beat at medium speed until light and fluffy.

    5. ASSEMBLE: Cut the crowns off each cake layer. Place first layer on cake board or serving plate. Spread a layer of icing to edges of cake; top with sliced strawberries. Top with second cake. Repeat with remaining icing, strawberries and cake layers. To finish, ice top of cake and generously cover with whole strawberries and blueberries. Sprinkle remaining berries around the base of the cake on the serving plate.

      

    Comments

    JULY 4th: Red, White & Blue Parfaits

    parfait-red-white-blue-mccormick-230

    Patriotic parfaits. Photo courtesy McCormick.

     

    Sweeten your July 4th celebration with these creamy, layered red, white and blue parfaits. The vivid colors come from McCormick’s Neon food colors.

    RECIPE: RED, WHITE & BLUE PARFAITS

    Ingredients For 12 Parfaits

  • 3-1/2 cups heavy cream, divided
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons red food color
  • 1 teaspoon pure lemon extract
  • 1 box McCormick Assorted NEON Food Colors & Egg Dye
  • 2 tablespoons white chocolate chips
  •  

    Preparation

    1. BEAT 1-1/2 cups of the heavy cream, 2 tablespoons of the sugar, the cocoa powder and vanilla in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed, until stiff peaks form. Add the red food color; stir gently with spatula until evenly tinted.

    2. BEAT the remaining 2 cups of heavy cream, the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and the lemon extract in large bowl with electric mixer on high speed, until stiff peaks form.

    3. REMOVE 1 cup of the mix; add neon blue and purple food colors. Stir gently with spatula until evenly tinted.

    4. ASSEMBLE parfaits: Alternately layer red and white mousses in dessert glasses. Top with blue mousse and white chocolate chips. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

     
      

    Comments

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