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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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?
Work is getting harder and harder to focus on now that it’s SUNNY outside. Is anyone else having that problem? I believe I have a serious case of spring fever. By the time noon rolls around all I want to do is jump in my beetle, drop the top and go joy riding. Back roads, cow pastures (“If I’m gonna hit a traffic jam, well it better be a tractor man”) blue skies, hair in the wind equals happiness. Thank goodness I get good gas mileage because this is my most every afternoon lately. I also now am sporting quite the farmer’s tan. Be jealous. It’s hawt. LOL.
My kids absolutely adore chicken tenders. They would eat them every day of the week if I would let them. Typically fried, chicken tenders although tasty (why are fried foods so good? Sigh.) aren’t the healthiest. We’ve hacked that traditional fried recipe and turned it into a healthier BAKED gluten free version that’s turned into a family favorite. We’re thinking it’s going to be one of your favorites as well. Yes we hacked a recipe. What the heck is a What the Hack? We’ve teamed up with Udi’s to share about their Udi’s Hackathon Challenge.
Bread. Butter. Cheese. 3 simple ingredients come together to make this traditional sandwich that everyone knows, love and craves. Yes we CRAVE it! We have a few tips and tricks to help you get the best basic grilled cheese sandwich possible. For us it starts from the moment you bite into the sandwich. What we look for is CRUNCH. You need some texture (no one like soppy bread). Here is where the bread and butter comes in.
Homemade hot sauce is a good thing. Whether you like yours mild, medium or wild you can make it so your personal heat level is a happy camper. If you’re thinking it’s difficult, you’d be wrong. Ours comes together lickety split. It’s base is made from our OVEN ROASTED TOMATOES and home grown peppers. The hardest part about this recipe will be deciding what you’d like to use it on first. Hot sauce is a multi purpose condiment. It’s great on sandwiches, meats, veggies, eggs, and just about anything else you can think of. We can’t think of much it’s not good on to be honest.
Sometimes you just need a burger in your life. A big, fat, juicy mushroom Swiss burger to be exact. Now that spring has finally arrived we’ve busted out our leaf blower, cleaned off the deck and brought the grill back out. Now if it’s still too chilly in your neck of the woods you can always use a grill pan. We wouldn’t want anyone to miss out on this cheesy shroomy goodness.
There are very few people I know that don’t like scalloped potatoes (and let’s just say we’re not close). Creamy soft potatoes swimming in a cheese sauce. Pass me the pan people. Carbs I love them. What can I say. I could eat them every day. Of course I’d probably have to eat them while walking on a treadmill if I did. Okay scratch that walking on a treadmill while eating is really not advisable, don’t ask me how I know. Sigh.
A good glaze is a like a good black dress for food. When tasked with whether or not to glaze I say glaze away. Next weekend is Easter and hams will be gracing tables near and far. Ham is what most people think of first when they hear glaze but it’s great with chicken too. This is our classic go to glaze, brown sugar mustard. You can’t go wrong with this flavor combination. We however throw a little something something in for extra measure. Sweet heat if you will.
I happen to adore Brussels sprouts. You know those tiny little cabbages with the funny name. I haven’t always loved them though. Oh no (waving my finger like the Ginger Delta flight attendant) I had them (making the ugliest face you can imagine) BOILED growing up and well that’s enough to make you never want to try them again. It wasn’t until my grown up taste buds were forced tried them roasted that I turned the corner to adoration street. Roasting rocks. It was my favorite way to indulge in those adorable baby cabbages up until I decided to pan fry them. Now this crispy and creamy fritter version is at the top of my list. It’s unexpected and pretty stinking amazing. It’s got everything from sweet, salty to creamy and crunchy. It’s brussels sprouts like you’ve never seen them before.
(whispering) Hi my name is Paula and I am a coffee snob. There I said it. I feel so much better. What can I say. It’s true. Everyone knows how much I love coffee. I should clarify, GOOD coffee. I start MOST of my days with a cappuccino or espresso. I need my caffeine. Yes NEED. It’s necessary for the safety of all those around me. I will (with tears) not indulge in my daily dose if the coffee available to me isn’t up to par. Most of the time when I travel, sadly I go without. Although, I will say last week on my way to Houston I was THRILLED when I found a Lavazza kiosk in the Atlanta airport. I almost knocked 3 people over crossing over the freeway walkway to get to it. Nothing shall stand in the way of good coffee right?
Almond milk is surprisingly simple to make at home. If you can soak, strain and blend you’re golden. That’s really all there is to it. Besides being so fresh and so clean you tailor it to your taste buds. Want your almond milk unsweetened. Rock on, leave it be after straining. Want it sweet (raising my hand) add the sweetness that’s right for you. Want vanilla almond milk? You guessed it, add pure vanilla extract. Ready to make your own? Grab your raw almonds and let’s get to milking.