Last week I was in the Florida Keys (if you follow me on Instagram and Twitter you would have seen some of the aca-awesomness, and if you’re not, just why? Go ahead and fix that now. Okay? Okay.) I almost didn’t come home. Not even going to pretend that it was anything short of amazing. The food, the people the WATER. It’s ridiculous. I honestly bought an artisan made necklace off a gallery owner’s neck because it reminded me of the water. I had to have it, and this cocktail that I discovered while there.
Coffee, it pretty much gets me through my day (well that and wine but we’re talking about coffee today). You all know this. It isn’t a secret. I’m coo coo for coffee. That would make an awesome t-shirt wouldn’t it. I should look into that. Naturally when I found out that my birth month JULY was National Ice Cream Month you knew my first flavor to churn out would be a highly caffeinated perfect espresso roast ice cream. It’s pretty much the perfect way to enjoy coffee in the summer time. As much as I love ICED COFFEE this is better. Don’t hate.
We’re thinking pink in more ways than one today. I’m proud to be able to share with you about the 1,000 Cooks for the Cure program. This July, Susan G. Komen® and KitchenAid are partnering again for 1,000 Cooks for the Cure, a program that aims to enlist 1,000 cooks from the U.S. to host a get-together with friends, family or colleagues anytime from July 18-27, 2014. In lieu of a host gift, guests are encouraged to bring a donation in any amount to support the fight against breast cancer.
I’ve had a love affair with pasta for as long as I can remember. Pasta is pure comfort for me, it’s my culinary happy place. Making, eating, sharing it with others it’s what I crave. I spent my formative years in Northern Italy. It’s where I learned how to drive a Vespa, how to navigate trains and buses, how to speak like a native, how to say more with my hands without words than I ever imagined possible and very high on the list how to properly cook pasta.
Grab your polka dot straws and pucker up princess. We’re serving up a pitcher of luscious lemonade today. Not your classic either. This is not your Grandma’s lemonade. Although I do think my Grandma would have loved this version. Lemonade makes me think of summer time, hot sweltering days, riding bicycles and yes lemonade stands. I hosted many a stand in my time growing up. I’m not sure I ever made much money other than enough to buy a pack of hubba bubba (which was and still is the bomb diggity of bubble gum) but it sure was a good time. I thank my Mom for fostering my entrepreneurial spirit. It’s one I don’t think I’ve ever grown out of.
Slip and slides were a part of my childhood. Every summer we’d go through several of them. We were rough and tough and usually after a few days of hard core competition they were torn to shreds. I was a sparkly tom boy (if that’s even a thing). We had the best time slipping and sliding all across the yard. Seeing who could go the fastest and the furthest. More times than not I came out the winner. I had a mean competitive streak and would practice my sliding until I was a raisin. Practice pays off.
My eggplant is finally starting to come into my garden. Which means you’ll be seeing MANY more eggplant recipes here on the blog while our garden is cranking them out. I hope you like eggplant as much as I do. If not, don’t tell me because then I’d have to try and convince you what you’re missing out on and I’m stubborn and persistent and won’t let it go. Now you know. Eggplant Parmesan is a classic. What’s not to love about eggplant, homemade tomato sauce, mozzarella and basil. Exactly. The traditional method can be a little heavy so we’ve taken the liberty of lightening it up a bit. Which means I can eat more. Win win. I think you’re going to go ga ga over these stacks.
Does anyone else think of fencing when there are kebabs on the menu? No, just me. Okay then. Glad we got that out of the way. I like kebabs. They’re fun to say, and better yet fun to eat. You can have an entire meal on a stick. You know my aversion to dishes loving self would be all over that. Yep yep.
I had my fair share of frozen banana daiquiri’s on my honeymoon in Jamaica (we won’t discuss how many years ago that was let’s just say I’m into the good gift numbers). Brought over by cabana boys to the beach, to the pool, to the lobby, you name it. They were so polite it would have been rude to have not accepted them right? Right. They were the best banana daiquiris I’d ever tasted. I’m not sure why I’d never tried to recreate them before now but I’m glad I finally did. What made me try after all those years? A beautiful bottle of banana rum.
I hope you’re ready for one pretty awesome NO BAKE dessert. Yes I said no baking and or cooking for that matter. Well unless you count melting in the microwave but let’s not split hairs about that when we have such a glorious and decadent dessert to dwell on. A chocolate pudding concoction that will have you making noises when you eat it. Yep yep. It’s silky, sweet (thanks to a little maple syrup) and smooth and just when you think it couldn’t get any better you feel that slight tingle and tickle of heat. Pure bliss.
We use a lot of tomatoes in our house. A LOT (yes that’s totally a technical term) I love to garden (it’s calming and soothing to me, well not the dirt under the nails but everything else). I grow most of the tomatoes we use and/or supplement from the farmer’s market. In the summer time I honestly have more than I know what to do with. Since I HATE to waste any food with the excess we CAN (hello fresh tomatoes in December), make OVEN ROASTED TOMATOES and tomato paste.
I like sauces. It’s true. Savory, salty, sweet a little heat. Doesn’t matter to me just bring on the sauce. I also like simple and it doesn’t get much simpler than this 4 ingredient Spicy Caramel Sauce. It’s savory sweet and has a little heat. Covering almost all of my bases. It takes less than 15 minutes and I’m betting you’ll find all kinds to drizzle this deliciousness on. My go to is ice cream. Preferably vanilla bean because it goes with everything that I feel like bringing to the ice cream party. It’s also great drizzled over cream puffs. I mean who doesn’t like cream puffs. Don’t tell me if you don’t. That would crush me.
I’m an all year round soup girl. I love it in all it’s glorious forms. Clear, Creamy, Chowdery (is that even a category well it is now) and most definitely Chilled. While it’s not your usual run of the mill hot soup don’t let the cold nature of these stop you from giving these a go. They’re super refreshing, and perfect for sipping all summer long. If you can work a blender you can make this recipe.
I hope you things HOT, besides the weather which here in North Cackalacky is already sweltering. Not that I should be surprised after 6 years of being here. What does surprise me is the bill. I’m thinking I should start a savings fund for said air conditioning bill. Sigh. We however are talking hot as in hot and spicy food. This week we’re partnering with TABASCO to bring you not one but FIVE hot and spicy recipes. An entire week of recipes dedicated to that little iconic bottle. You know the one. It’s pretty unmistakeably. That bottle has been gracing my family’s fridge for longer than I can remember. I’m betting it’s in most of yours too.
I’ve never been able to do shots (well unless they were of the jello variety). I just can’t. I have to sip them and well that’s just embarrassing (it’s okay I know it) so I avoid the inevitable mocking and bright red face by running away from them like they were the plague. Cocktails now are another story. I prefer those that pack a little punch and are on the fruity side. What can I say. I like them and especially those with tequila. Tequila kinda has a reputation of sorts. There are odes to it all across the airwaves. Kenny Chesney’s- “you and TEQUILA make me crazy” (it’s true) and Joe Nichols “tequila makes her clothes come off” (ehem not going there) are just a few of my favorites that reference that clear concoction.
Jams, jelly or preserves? I’m a preserves kinda girl through and through. I like a little texture going on. Plus it’s less work. Truth. Strawberry is my preserve poison of choice. It’s what I gravitate to, well that and Fig Preserves, which is also the bomb diggity. Lately I’ve been on the strawberry rhubarb bandwagon. Adding the rhubarb to the mix adds another dimension, it takes it from casual sundress to cocktail dress but in the culinary sense. This preserve is giving my old favorite a run for it’s pole position in my pantry.
Now that the weather is warm we spend a lot of time on our deck, which is located directly off our kitchen and faces our backyard. We’re fortunate to have a decent size deck that houses our container garden, a sitting area plus a dining table with umbrella and chairs. When the weather permits, we like to enjoy our family meals on the deck as well as entertain in this space. The deck overlooks our backyard which is heavily wooded and I can pretend that I’m in a tree house. One that just so happens to have plumbing. I’m not really the camping type, have I mentioned that?
My littles get out of school NEXT week. I’m having a hard enough time dealing with the fact that it’s already JUNE and on top of that it is the end of school year. Pass the wine. While I will enjoy the laid back slow mornings, because y’all know that I am not, nor will I ever be a morning person (my dream of owning a farm complete with a big green tractor is held up because of this and okay a big fat down payment as well) I’m dreading hearing the “I’m BORED” or “What’s there to eat” every two seconds. Maybe it’s just my kids? Time to start cranking out the homemade snacks.
A few weeks ago we got our started our container using Miracle-Gro Gro-Ables. Gro-ables are seed pods that provide an ideal growing environment for your seed. Each ready-to-plant seed pod contains growing materials, plant food and a specially selected seed from one of 17 different varieties including basil, spinach, cilantro, dill, sweet peppers, cherry tomatoes and more. All you need to do is plant your seed, water and enjoy watching it grow into something greater. Easy right?
If you were to ask me to describe summer in a glass I would give you a sip of this cocktail. It screams summer. This cocktail reminds me of the spiked watermelon that we used to enjoy during our college days except now I can enjoy it in a glass. Because of course we’re way more refined. That’s it. We’ve also upped the ooh and ah factor by adding our HOMEMADE HONEYSUCKLE SIMPLE SYRUP. You’re going to want to keep this handy all summer long. You’ll find yourself using this simple syrup in all types of summer sippers (that can be spiked or not.) Sweet tea flavored with Honeysuckle anyone?