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  • Have a Spooky Halloween!

    Cheddar Witches Fingers - Cheese straws in the shape of fingers, complete with a black almond "finger nail." Delicious and totally spooky.

    Candy Apples - You don't need to go to the fair to get my favorite treat because you can make these at home. Black food coloring gives them a festive touch.

    Pumpkin Caramel Sauce - Having a not-so-scary Halloween party? Serve ice cream with this pumpkin infused caramel sauce on top.

Monthly Archives: April 2011

Luau Coconut

Luau Coconut

When I hosted my tropical themed dinner party back in January, one of the menu items I was most looking forward to was this drink. In fact, this drink is what inspired the theme for the party. There’s something ironic about drinking from a coconut when it’s not even 40º outside, but the whole point of the party was to make everyone forget about the cold weather, and this drink did exactly that. Plus, I simply can’t resist the combination of coconut and pineapple. Now that it’s warm outside, I think this would be perfect for summer entertaining. Coconut and drink umbrella optional.

This drink is a prime example of the tiki cocktail, but you don’t have to be at the beach to enjoy its fun, summery flavors. I adore piña coladas, and this is basically a fancy version of that poolside favorite. The original recipe had both light and gold rum, but I substituted coconut rum in place of the light rum. I liked the extra burst of coconut flavor, but I think the drink would still have plenty even without the coconut rum. I just happened to have coconut rum and gold rum on hand and didn’t want to buy another type. The pineapple and lime juices add brightness and a hint of acidity that prevent the drink from being overly sweet. I can’t wait for summer so that we can enjoy more of these (and other fruity, tropical drinks).

Luau Coconut

Luau Coconut
Makes 2 drinks

1/4 cup sugar
2 young coconuts
1/2 cup coconut water
1/4 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk
1/4 cup coconut rum
1/4 cup gold rum
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons pineapple juice
Ice cubes
2 lime slices (for garnish, optional)
2 maraschino cherries (for garnish, optional)

Make simple syrup by cooking sugar and 1/4 cup water over medium high heat until sugar has dissolved. Set aside to cool. Meanwhile, make your coconut cups (if using) by chopping off the top 2 inches of the coconuts. Side note: I cut off a little too much this time, but I kind of like the look of the exposed shell. Using the area of your knife near the handle, whack the coconut to crack the shell. Pry the top off and pour the coconut water into a bowl.

In a large cocktail shaker, combine coconut water, coconut milk, rums, and lime and pineapple juices. Fill with ice and shake vigorously until well chilled. Divide evenly into 2 coconuts (no need to strain). Garnish each with a lime slice and cherry, if desired. Serve immediately.

Adapted from Bon Appétit, January 2011

Purple Cow (Blackberry) Frozen Yogurt

Purple Cow (Blackberry) Frozen Yogurt

I first posted this recipe almost two years ago. I can’t tell you how many times Eric and I have made it since then. We’ve made other frozen yogurts, but this one is still our favorite and it gets made frequently. I see nothing wrong with always having homemade ice cream in the freezer, especially when it’s as delicious as this one. Plus, there’s just something about warm weather and ice cream that makes me feel nostalgic. My dad used to make ice cream with orange soda when I was younger, and I still remember how much I loved it (biting into large pieces of salt, not so much). With warm weather sure to stick around several more months, chances are you’ll be seeing plenty more ice cream posts from me in the near future.

Blackberries are one of my favorite fruits, and they work perfectly in this recipe. Though blackberries aren’t incredibly sweet, they play really well off the tanginess of the Greek yogurt. This frozen yogurt has just the right amount of sweetness, thanks to the added sugar, and isn’t as tart as plain frozen yogurt. I also love the purple hue the blackberries provide. The original recipe called for eight ounces of chocolate, but I found that to be far too much and halved it. I like chocolate as much as the next person, but I wasn’t a fan of having so many pieces in each bite. I felt like I was eating more chocolate than frozen yogurt, so the halved amount is perfect for me. You can certainly add more if you like. Once you try this, you’ll understand why Eric and I keep coming back to it. We once made a half batch and completely regretted not making a full one when we ran out a few days later.

Just as a note: I wouldn’t recommend using nonfat yogurt in this recipe because, in my experience, it makes the frozen yogurt too thin and icy.

Purple Cow (Blackberry) Frozen Yogurt

Purple Cow Frozen Yogurt
Makes about 1 quart

3 cups Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, separated
2 cups blackberries
3 ounces semi sweet chocolate, chopped
1 ounce white chocolate, chopped

Combine yogurt, 2/3 cup sugar and vanilla in a large bowl, preferably one with a pour spout. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Meanwhile, purée blackberries in the bowl of a food processor. Strain the blackberries using a fine mesh strainer, then stir in the remaining tablespoon of sugar. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Add blackberry purée to the yogurt mixture and stir until combined. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions. Place frozen yogurt in an airtight container and stir in chocolate and white chocolate pieces. Freeze until firm.

Adapted from Erin Cooks

Chipotle Salsa with Pan-Roasted Tomatillos

Chipotle Salsa with Pan-Roasted Tomatillos
There are some recipes that, for whatever reason, never make it to the blog. When it’s one that Eric and I both love, I try really hard to remedy whatever it is that’s preventing me from posting it. In the case of this salsa, the problem was lack of a photo. We’ve made it countless times in the last year, but we always seem to make it for parties and don’t have time to photograph it before it’s gone. When we made it a few weeks ago, I was determined to get a photo. I couldn’t keep this recipe from you anymore because it’s pretty much the best salsa I’ve ever had. I’ve never made anything from Elly’s blog that I didn’t love, though, so it was no surprise to me how quickly this one became our favorite.

This recipe, with a whopping three ingredients, is about as simple as salsa gets. The great thing about a recipe with so few ingredients is that it allows the flavors of each ingredient to really shine. Tart tomatillos are the perfect choice for this salsa, but you can replace them with tomatoes for a sweeter flavor. The chipotles add so much smokiness, which is my favorite part of this salsa. It’s got some kick to it, so reduce the amount of chipotles if you don’t like things too spicy. Since the garlic is pan-roasted, it has a more mellow flavor than raw garlic. It blends in well without being overpowering. We like to serve this with homemade tortilla chips, and it never fails that we end up eating most of it while we’re cooking the rest of our meal. This salsa is just that good. To make the tortilla chips, brush each side of six or so corn tortillas with olive oil, cut into eighths, lay in a single layer on a baking sheet and sprinkle with seasoning salt. Bake at 350º for about 15 minutes. Also, we frequently double this recipe with no problems. If you’re making it for a crowd, I’d recommend doubling it because it disappears quickly!

Chipotle Salsa with Pan-Roasted Tomatillos

Chipotle Salsa with Pan-Roasted Tomatillos
Makes about 1 1/4 cups

4 medium tomatillos, husked, rinsed and cut in half (about 8 ounces)
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 chipotles in adobo (more or less depending on the level of heat you want)

Place a large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Lay the tomatillos, cut side down, into the skillet. Add the garlic and cook for about 4 minutes, or until tomatillos are browned. Flip and continue cooking until the other side is browned. Make sure the tomatillos are soft before removing them from the skillet.

Place the tomatillos, garlic and chipotles into the bowl of a food processor. Add about 1/4 cup of water and salt to taste. Pulse until the salsa is smooth, adding more water to reach desired consistency.

Adapted from Elly Says Opa, originally from Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless

Spaghetti with Lemon and Olive Oil (al Limone)

Spaghetti al Limone

Now that spring is finally here, I find myself craving bright, fruity flavors. Although lemons are available year round, their sunny color just screams spring to me. I’ve been on quite the lemon kick lately. I recently made lemon poppy seed muffins for a guest post over at Beantown Baker, and I’m planning on making a different type of lemon muffin this weekend. However, I wanted to make something other than muffins and was on the search for a savory lemon recipe when I found this one. It’s easy enough for a hectic weeknight, and its lemony flavor and lack of a heavy sauce make it perfect for spring.

I’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating. It never ceases to amaze me that just a few simple ingredients can turn into something so satisfying. This pasta is a wonderful example of that, and it has easily become one of our favorite meals. Not only is this pasta bright and fruity, it’s also light and refreshing. The sauce is creamy, but it’s definitely not a cream sauce. Rather, the cream helps reduce some of the tartness of the lemon while enhancing the flavors of the olive oil. The flavors of the lemon and olive oil come through the most, but the nutty Parmesan and fresh basil add a lovely touch to the finished dish. Eric was excited when we topped the plated pasta with a drizzle olive oil, saying it was “very Jamie Oliver” of us. Served with a side of garlic bread and a glass of white wine, this dish is the epitome of my ideal spring meal.

Spaghetti al Limone

Spaghetti with Lemon and Olive Oil (al Limone)
Serves 4 to 6

1 pound spaghetti
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
1 medium shallot, minced (about 3 tablespoons)
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons finely grated zest and 1/4 cup juice from 3 lemons
1 ounce finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 1/2 cup), plus more for serving
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons shredded basil leaves

In a large Dutch oven, bring 4 quarts of water to boil. Add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta to water. Cook, stirring frequently, until pasta is al dente. Reserve 1 3/4 cups of pasta water, drain pasta and set aside.

In the now-empty Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon of oil. Once hot, add shallot and 1/2 teaspoon salt, cooking until shallot has softened, about 2 minutes. Whisk in 1 1/2 cups of the reserved pasta water and cream. Bring to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add pasta, tossing to coat. Stir in remaining 3 tablespoons of oil, lemon zest and juice, cheese and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper.

Cover and allow pasta to stand for about 2 minutes, tossing halfway through, so that the sauce can thicken and pasta can absorb the sauce. If needed, add the remaining 1/4 cup of pasta water to adjust the consistency of the sauce. Stir in basil and add salt and pepper to taste. To serve, drizzle each individual portion with olive oil and sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese.

Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, January/February 2011