Cashmere Apron

Meyer Lemon & Raspberry Soufflé

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It’s hard to beat a chocolate soufflé, period. But when I found myself with bags of Meyer Lemons (compliments of my mom’s Meyer Lemon tree that seems to be on steroids), I wanted to explore a few ways to use the citrusy fruit. I came across a Martha Stewart recipe for a lemony soufflé pudding and adapted the recipe using Meyer lemons and raspberries. The Meyer Lemon and Raspberry soufflés were not only delicious but simple to make. I’ve never made a soufflé and was dubious when I saw Martha Stewart was the “recipe headliner,” as some of her ideas/crafts/recipes, well…let’s just say the word “easy” does not come to mind. The ingredients here are minimal and uncomplicated which means I can focus on the presentation which is my favorite element of cooking. A chocolate soufflé is still hard to beat but this version offers a light and elegant treat at the end of a meal and would be a great option during the holidays when rich foods are plenty and champagne is being uncorked at every turn.

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Ingredients:
1 teaspoon unsalted butter, for the soufflé cups
5 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup sugar
1 Tb freshly grated Meyer lemon zest
1/4 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice
1 package fresh organic raspberries
2 Tb powdered sugar
whipped cream for garnishing
fresh rosemary for garnish
6-7, 3.5 ounce soufflé cups (World Market has an in depth online selection at chipper prices)

Gently push the fresh raspberries into the light and fluffy batter.

Gently push the fresh raspberries into the light and fluffy batter

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Using the teaspoon of butter, butter six to seven soufflé cups and set aside. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil.

While the water is boiling, in a large bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff. In another clean bowl, beat the egg yolks until frothy and light in color, 3 to 4 minutes. Slowly add the sugar to the yolks while still beating. Mix in the Meyer lemon zest and juice.

Gently fold the egg whites into the egg yolk-lemon mixture. Pour the batter into each soufflé  cup (filling each three-quarters full). Place each soufflé cup into the roasting pan and place the pan on a flat surface near the oven. Add two to three fresh raspberries to each soufflé cup by gently pushing them into the batter. Carefully and quickly pour the boiling water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the soufflé cups. Slide the pan into the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Don’t overcook.

Line your serving platter with slices of Meyer lemons for a bright presentation.

Line your serving platter with slices of Meyer lemons for a bright presentation

Remove the pan from the oven. Set the soufflé cups on a wire rack to cool. In the meantime, cover the bottom of a serving platter with Meyer lemon slices. To serve, set the soufflé cups on top of the Meyer lemon slices. Dust each soufflé cup with confectioners’ sugar and top with a dollop of whipped cream. Garnish the platter with fresh rosemary. Serve warm.

I love using rosemary as a garnish and it looks so fresh against the bright yellow of the lemons

Rosemary always serves as a fragrant and sophisticated garnish

If you try this recipe and like it, let me know what you think!
Cheers!
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Low-Carb Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie

shake-2Every school morning I wake my daughter up at 6:20 am. And every morning she holds up an open palm begging for five more minutes of sleep. I tell her I’ll be back in five minutes after making my coffee and she whispers, “s m o o t h i e...” This is our morning ritual. I don’t make the smoothie every single morning because I love to make breakfast and this girl of mine will eat almost anything- eggs with fresh basil and sausage, breakfast tacos, a BLT, Brioche french toast, waffle bowls, pasta or leftovers from dinner the night before – pretty much anything – except fruit, yogurt and cereal. Who doesn’t like fruit? Delicious sweet berries, cool watermelon, crisp apples, tangy tangerines, tart cherries, citrusy pineapple, mango and oranges – the flavors and sweetness are endless for mixing into smoothies and making fruit parfaits and Acai bowls BUT not for my girl.

Fueling up this girl's body is no easy task. I love having this smoothie as a healthy protein source.

Fueling up this girl’s body is no easy task. I love making this smoothie as a healthy source of protein and nutrients.

So when I discovered this smoothie and adapted it a bit for her palate, I held my breath when her lips met the straw for the first time. Shockingly, she gave me the thumbs up and it has been a morning or pre-training staple ever since. I love this smoothie because it’s easy to make and a very nutritious alternative. The chia seeds add additional protein and minerals that have deemed it a popular superfood. “Chia” is the ancient Mayan word for STRENGTH. The protein powder adds to the rich flavor while providing the necessary building blocks for bones, muscles, cartilage, skin and blood. And this smoothie is filling which won’t leave your stomach grumbling 40 minutes later. I do add a touch of whipped cream and drizzle a bit of dark chocolate over the top but just enough to make it look extra appealing and special.

Whipping up this smoothie takes a few minutes and the loud, annoying blender sound is the wake-up call for everyone else in the house (no use going up and down the stairs three times!)

A little whipped cream...a little chocolate drizzle...

A little whipped cream…a little chocolate drizzle…

Ingredients:
2 cups crushed ice cubes
1 cup chocolate almond milk
1 scoop chocolate or peanut butter protein powder (I love ChocoRite brand which is sugar free, and gluten free with 24 grams of protein. I purchase it at my local Albertson’s but there are 12 flavors that can be purchased directly online)
2 Tb organic peanut butter or almond butter
1 Tb unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tb chia seeds (see the benefits here of this tiny superfood)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Optional additions: whipped cream, chocolate syrup, mint leaf

Directions:
Place all ingredients except the whipped cream, chocolate syrup and mint leaf in the blender. Blend for about a minute or until smooth. Spoon into an 8 ounce glass and, if you choose, top with whipped cream, a drizzle of chocolate syrup and a mint leaf.

Smoothie super fuel

Smoothie super fuel

Strawberry Bruschetta

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Don’t you love finding new places that were right under your nose the whole time??? A recent Girls Night Out led us to a charming local wine bar called Rancho Capistrano Winery. Nestled in downtown San Juan Capistrano, the environment is a world away- one of those restaurants that makes you feel like a vacationer in your own town. When the sun goes down the patio is softly illuminated with strands of criss-crossing lights, a large Spanish-style hearth and offers an atmosphere lively with conversation, food and drink. High top wine barrel tables are positioned to give glimpses of the historic Mission San Juan Capistrano.

My gals and I ate and drank our way around the menu and while everything was really good, I went home that night craving another serving of their unexpectedly delicious Strawberry Bruschetta. You know how it is the first time you try something and absolutely love it? You just know that the next time won’t be as good. On my second visit to RC Winery, my taste buds were watering as I sat down and ordered Strawberry Bruschetta for the table. I have to say that reality met expectation. The second time around the delicious appetizer WAS as good as I recalled. I went home and whipped up my own version a few days later. I added avocado and a few other twists and have a new fave to serve when entertaining. Pair the bruschetta with a crisp Rose or Sangria and your taste buds will be humming.

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Pair with a crisp Rose or Sangria

Ingredients:
1 organic tomato, diced
1 1/4 cup organic fresh strawberries, diced
1 mini cucumber sliced, then cut each slice into quarters
1 Tb fresh basil, chiffonade
1 small white organic nectarine, diced
1/2 avocado, diced
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 tsp olive oil
Balsamic reduction (link to easy recipe here)
Pepper to taste
1 large French baguette

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Mix all ingredients together gently in a large bowl

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and gently toss with pepper and 1 tsp olive oil. Slice the baguette into medium thick slices and brush each slice with olive oil. Put in the oven on a cookie sheet for 5 minutes at 350 degrees. Place crisped baguette slices on a serving platter and top each piece with a spoonful of the bruschetta mixture.

Drizzle the Balsamic reduction and sprinkle additional basil across the top and platter for embellishment.

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The balsamic reduction is so easy to make and adds just a kick to the bruschetta

Organic Strawberry Basil Margaritas With Ginger

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I hit up my local farm stand, South Coast Farms, on my way home from working out on Friday. The strawberries this season have been outrageous, baskets and baskets of pure berry sweetness filling up a large table every day at the farm. When I showed up Friday, the normal “strawberry” table was overflowing with heirloom tomatoes. Strawberry season at the farm ends today and the farm’s “U-Pick” option was the only way I could enjoy a few last baskets of their organic strawberries. So, I grabbed my basket and walked out to the field.

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A few observations from my strawberry picking: (1) There is no match for the goodness of food that goes right from the ground into your hands. (2) I will have a greater appreciation for naturally farmed food and the people that bring it to me, as my back was sore after a mere 35 minutes of picking strawberries. (3) Standing in the field and looking around at heirloom tomatoes on vines and giant bunches of fresh green lettuces and kale, I was inspired to keep shopping/eating/buying local farm stand fruits and vegetables. (4) It is the simple and pure things in life that make me feel good – standing in that field picking strawberries, chatting with people I didn’t know on a relaxed Friday afternoon, watching kids fill their little buckets with strawberries picked with their own little hands, the warm sunshine and cool ocean breeze.

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I decided to kick off the holiday weekend using the strawberries in fresh strawberry margaritas. All of the ingredients listed are organic (I purchased the basil and limes at the farm as well). Happy Fourth of July…Enjoy this “Farm-To-Glass” spirit.

INGREDIENTS
1 cup of organic strawberries, stems removed
1/2 cup Patron Silver tequila
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/8 cup Cointreau
1 Tb organic basil, roughly chopped +extra for garnish
1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger
*Fills two large margarita glasses or three smaller glasses

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DIRECTIONS
Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until thoroughly combined. Pour over ice into Margarita glasses and top with a few sprigs of basil. For garnish, create a mini kabob of strawberries, basil and ginger and rest on the side of the Margarita glass. Serve on a large farm tray with baskets of strawberries as decoration.

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Meyer Lemon Cookies with a Powdered Sugar Glaze

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When a large bag of Meyer Lemons lands graciously on your front porch the question begs…what to do with Meyer Lemons? My first instinct, which was covered in my last post, was to make Meyer Lemon Limoncello. Sipping Limoncello in the warm Italian sunshine is one of my most vivid memories of a long-ago trip to Europe. The Meyer Lemon Limoncello was a success and is now on my gift giving list for the holidays. When wondering what else to do with Meyer Lemons, I decided to infuse vodka, which yielded a delicious flavor and a very gregarious cocktail hour this past Christmas day. That post is soon coming up (perhaps as part of a Mother’s Day gift guide).

After searching for all kinds of recipes about what to do with Meyer Lemons, I came across a wonderful sounding recipe for a Meyer Lemon jam. I envisioned slathering the homemade citrusy deliciousness across a rustic piece of bread with morning coffee, drizzling it onto poundcake with fresh strawberries and topping my kids’ nightly bowl of ice cream with just a dab of the zesty freshness. I sterilized my mason jars and laid them on the counter, ready to be filled. After peeling, chopping, draining, boiling and BURNING my precious lemon jam to a dark mahogany hue, I put that idea on hold until next year when perhaps my patience will be more abundant.

Among some of the other Meyer Lemon recipes I came across, this one stuck out. I found it on a beautiful blog with creative desserts called The Sugar Coated Cottage. I followed The Sugar Coated Cottage recipe to a T, and voila, one more fruitful idea for what to do with Meyer Lemons – create a light and fluffy Meyer lemon cookie with a powdered sugar glaze. The Meyer lemon adds just the slightest hint of citrus so as not to detract from the sugar cookie itself. I often get the complaint from my kids that they prefer, “Just vanilla, mom,” but I could barely glaze these babies fast enough before they flew off the counter. If a baked good sits in my home for more than two days, it’s a flop. These beautiful-to-look-at and tasty-to-taste cookies undoubtedly earn a checkmark in the make-again (and again) column.

Golden flecks of the Meyer lemon zest make for a pretty cookie

Golden flecks of the Meyer lemon zest make for a pretty cookie

Ingredients
For the Cookie:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
2 Tb Meyer lemon juice
2 Tb Meyer lemon zest
1 and ¼ cup all purpose flour (I always use Swan’s Down brand cake flour in my
baking. I like the light fluffy texture it yields)
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
Extra sugar for rolling

For the Meyer lemon powdered sugar glaze:
1 and ½ cups powdered sugar
3 Tbsp Meyer lemon juice
2 Tbsp Meyer lemon zest

Directions
-Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
-Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
-Add extra sugar to shallow dish for rolling.

To make cookies:
-With mixer on medium cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
-Add in the egg, Meyer lemon juice and zest, mix to combine.
-In a separate bowl put flour, baking powder, baking soda, stir to combine.
-With mixer on low slowly add the flour mixture to butter mixture, mix until well combined.
-Roll into 1” balls and roll in sugar.
-Place on baking sheet about 2 inches apart.
-Bake for 7-9 minutes until edges are lightly browned.
-Let cool.

To make the glaze:
-Mix all ingredients until completely combined.
-Drizzle over cooled sugar cookies.

The Meyer lemon is a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange offering a little more sweetness than regular lemons.

Arrange cookies on a vintage-looking platter surrounded by fresh lemons and mandarin oranges for a vibrant and inviting presentation.

Notes:
1. This is a soft dough, if making up next cookie sheet while first one is baking place second cookie sheet with rolled cookies into refrigerator until ready for the oven.

2. If you find the dough is too soft you can refrigerate for 10 minutes to firm up.

3. If you need to store the glaze lay plastic wrap directly on the surface so it does not crust over.

4. Store cookies in airtight container

5. Watch cookies closely while baking, as soon as the edges are a light golden brown remove from oven. Press top of cookie lightly, if firm they are done. If top is soft then put in oven for 1 minute intervals until done.

The sweet citrus taste is attributed to the Meyer lemon's cross between a regular lemon and a mandarin orange.

The light and sweet citrus essence tasted in the cookie is attributed to the Meyer lemon’s cross between a regular lemon and a mandarin orange.

Meyer Lemon Limoncello

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When my mom’s Meyer lemon tree was overflowing with glowing yellow citrus, I found myself the lucky recipient of a giant bag on my doorstep. I started researching all the delectable ways these lemons could be incorporated into recipes. It was an experiment that yielded beautiful cocktails and desserts, and one gorgeous roasted chicken.

What makes Meyer lemons so special? ’Lisbon’ and ‘Eureka’ lemons grow year-round and are most likely the lemons you select whenever you reach for them in the grocery store. The Meyer lemon, named after Frank N. Meyer who discovered it in Asia in 1908, is a cross between a lemon and a mandarin. The Meyer lemon is less acidic and sweeter with a more fragrant smelling rind. The Meyer lemon is seasonal, available mainly from December through May (Costco had bags of Meyer lemons this year, which I just noticed).

Obsessed with Limoncello from my first trip to Italy, I decided to use the Meyer lemons to first make my own Meyer Lemon Limoncello. I let my peels infuse for a month and the result was delicious.
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This Christmas, I plan on making Limoncello again with the Meyer lemons and giving homemade bottles as gifts during the holidays. There is so much you can do with the packaging and suggesting different ways to drink, cook and bake with Limoncello. If you want to try this recipe, any lemons will do, but take advantage of the Meyer variety if you have time.

A thick piece of lemon peel can be tied around the neck of the bottle. Create an "L" out of the lemon peel and glue to a gift tag.

A thick piece of lemon peel can be tied around the neck of the bottle. Create an “L” out of the lemon peel and glue to a gift tag.

Ingredients
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11-12 Meyer lemons, washed and dried
1 750-ml bottle vodka (80-to-100 proof)
2 cups sugar
2, 1 quart Mason jars
Strainer/Collander
Small funnel
Decorative/Sealable bottle(s) of your choice

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Cover the Meyer Lemon peels with vodka

Directions
Peel the lemons with a vegetable peeler being careful to avoid the pith. Divide the lemon peels equally between your two, 1-Quart Mason jars. Fill each jar to the top with vodka and seal.

Fill jar to the top, covering all peels, and seal the lid

Fill jar to the top, covering all peels, and seal the lid

Place the Mason jars in a dark, cool spot and let the vodka infuse anywhere from one week to four weeks. *The longer you infuse the vodka the more lemon flavor you will get out of your Limoncello.

Vodka being infused with Meyer Lemons

Vodka being infused with Meyer Lemons

Once you are ready, place your collander/strainer over a measuring cup that is large enough to hold at least two cups but preferably four. Strain the infused vodka through the collander/strainer. It should yield four cups of vodka approximately. Add your four cups of infused vodka to a large pitcher.

Now you will prepare a simple sugar syrup which you will add to the infused vodka (once it has cooled). Bring two cups water and two cups sugar to a boil and stir. Once all the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and let the simple sugar syrup cool completely.

Once the simple sugar syrup has cooled completely, you will add it to your pitcher of infused vodka and stir. Be sure to taste it and make sure it is to your liking. I used a 1:1 ratio and thought it had the right kick.

Pour Limoncello into a decorative bottle that seals

Pour Limoncello into a decorative bottle that seals

You are ready to bottle your Limoncello. Pour into the decorative bottles you selected using a small funnel or a steady hand! I found the pretty bottles you see here at Cost Plus but am certain any variety and any size can be found online. Chill the finished Limoncello in the fridge or freezer for four to five hours before enjoying. I always keep my Limoncello in the freezer as I like to serve it cold and it will last much longer (up to a year).
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Limoncello Ideas

The Pearl Cocktail

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Cheers to Easter weekend! Despite the increasing maturity of my peeps, now 17 and 14, I couldn’t resist shopping for their Easter baskets this week. Who doesn’t want to wake-up on Easter morning to jelly beans, Reese’s peanut butter eggs, chocolate bunnies and special gifts. I know I’m not alone in recalling how my son was once horrified by the idea of a giant white fluffy bunny hopping through our home in the night. We have moved beyond the egg dying, egghunts and pictures with the Easter bunny which means that Easter Sunday is now a bit more relaxed.

And while I am nostalgic about those early kid days, the upside is that the pace is much less frenetic and we are able to enjoy holiday meals and time spent together and, of course, the holiday cocktail hour (for the adults). I found this recipe in a local culinary magazine and thought it was the perfect Easter creation with shades of lavender and the sugared candy rim. It seems like a perfectly perfect cocktail to sip on this Easter weekend.

Simple ingredients on display

Simple ingredients on display

The ingredients are simple and look inviting displayed on a silver tray. Be sure to have a crushed bucket of ice on hand, a crisp white linen towel for any spills and a silver cocktail shaker.

Ingredients
1 1/2oz Grey Goose La Poire Vodka
2 lemon wedges
1/4 oz Creme de Violette
1 oz Piper-Heidsieck Champagne
Fresh mint

Instructions
-In a cocktail shaker combine vodka, Creme de Violette and juice from squeezed lemon wedges
-Shake vigorously with ice
-Strain into a coupe glass rimmed with turbinado sugar and top with Champagne
-Float a mint leaf on top for an extra pop of color

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This pretty cocktail was originally created in my hometown at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel, as a Signature Anniversary drink.

vanilla caramel popcorn halloween cupcakes

Lead HalloweenIngredients
one dozen vanilla cupcakes (use your favorite recipe)
melting chocolate
salted caramel popcorn
caramel sauce
pastry bag or squeeze bottle
melon baller
parchment paper
Halloween cupcake liners

Buttercream Frosting Ingredients
1 lb box of C&H Pure Cane Powdered Sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 stick salted butter (softened)

Directions
Make vanilla cupcakes and let cool on a rack.

While cupcakes are cooling, melt chocolate and add to a pastry bag (the process would be neater in a squeeze bottle but I didn’t have one on hand). On a sheet of parchment paper, pipe out chocolate spider webs. They are simple to make once you get the hang of it. I used this tutorial from the internet (the example uses white chocolate but the process is the same for dark chocolate). Once you have created your spider webs, leave them to harden on the parchment paper or pop in the fridge until you are ready to use (they harden in about 15 minutes-very quick).

Easily pipe spiderwebs onto parchment paper

Even with my hands covered in chocolate, I managed to create these cute chocolate webs

While your spider webs are setting, take your melon-baller and scoop out a hole in the top of each cupcake. Fill the hole with caramel sauce. Once all of the holes are filled, make the vanilla buttercream frosting.

Scoop out a small hole in the cupcake and fill with caramel sauce

The caramel center is a yummy surprise in almost every bite

To make frosting, add all of the frosting ingredients to a mixing bowl and beat with a mixer for approximately 2-minutes, scraping down the sides. Add frosting to a pastry bag and frost all of the cupcakes in any style you desire. I used a thicker frosting tip to cover the cupcakes thoroughly.

A tray of homemade Halloween sweets

A tray of homemade Halloween treats for every age

Once the cupcakes are frosted, cover the top with the salted caramel popcorn and insert a spider web in the middle. Arrange on a platter and serve for a fun, Halloween dessert.

*Add the popcorn to the top of the cupcakes right before serving so it doesn’t go stale from exposure to the air.

The popcorn adds a whimsical touch to the cupcake

The popcorn adds a whimsical touch and a crunch to every bite of cupcake

root beer float popsicles

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Labor Day almost requires that our toes not leave the sand – summer can’t really be (almost) over, can it? Wimbledon, Fireworks and the Fourth of July had my attention just yesterday it seems. If you’re planning on celebrating and entertaining this weekend, try a fun and easy dessert that’s the epitome of summer and sunshine and kids running through the sprinklers. Below find two types of popsicles – a version for kids and adults (Root Beer float) and one for just the adults (fresh peach and Bellini). With the extra root beer, you can also make mini-root beer floats.

Mini root beer floats to go with the popsicles

Mini root beer floats to go with the popsicles

You can easily make these popsicles ahead to ease last minute rushing and preparation. Pass these popsicles around, kick your feet up and savor the last bites of summer.

Ingredients
4 1/2 cups A&W root beer
1/2 cup vanilla bean ice cream (softened)
1 Hershey’s milk chocolate bar
popsicle mold
cupcake liners

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Directions
Slowly pour 4 1/2 cups of root beer into a large bowl. Once the fizzing has subsided, gently add 1/2 cup of softened vanilla bean ice cream to the bowl and stir slowly until melted into the root beer. Pour mixture into popsicle molds using a measuring cup with a spout (if possible).

The mixture will fizz a little bit more when poured into the molds due to the carbonation in the root beer. Once the fizzing has stopped, drop a few very small pieces of Hershey’s milk chocolate into each popsicle mold. The chocolate will float to the bottom and be in the first bite once these tasty treats are served.

Before removing frozen popsicles from their mold, cut a tiny hole in the bottom of the cupcake liners. Once the popsicles are out of the mold, push the popsicle stick through the cupcake liner to add a mini “drip tray.”

Arrange popsicles in a decorative ice bucket filled with ice and serve immediately. You can also place the popsicles on wax paper on a large dinner plate, stacking them into a few layers with wax paper between each layer and put into the freezer until you are ready to serve.

 

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Also easy to make ahead – scoop vanilla bean ice cream into small mason jars and freeze. Load them on a tray when ready to serve and add the root beer and whipped cream.

fresh peach and bellini popsicles

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Ingredients
2-3 large peaches, peeled and diced
2 cups+2Tb cranberry juice
1, 8 1/2 ounce bottle of prepared Bellini (find in your grocery store’s chilled spirits section)
fresh mint leaves
popsicle mold

A hint of mint

A hint of mint

Directions
Place peaches in a blender and add 1-2 Tb of cranberry juice. Blend until the peaches are pureed into a liquid – 30 seconds to one minute. Pour into a large mixing bowl. Add the 8 1/2 ounces of prepared Bellini and 2 cups of cranberry juice and mix with a large spoon.

Pour mixture into popsicle molds slowly using a measuring cup with a spout (if possible). Add a few fresh leaves of mint to every popsicle. The mint will float on the top but once the popsicle stick is inserted, the mint will be pushed further into the popsicle mold.

Freeze popsicles. Before removing frozen popsicles from their mold, cut a tiny hole in the bottom of cupcake liners. Once the popsicles are out of the mold, push the popsicle stick through the cupcake liner to add a mini “drip tray.”

Labor Day poolside dessert

Labor Day poolside dessert

Arrange popsicles in a decorative ice bucket filled with ice or pass around on a large tray with fresh mint leaves decorating the platter. Serve immediately. You can also place the popsicles on wax paper on a large dinner plate, stacking them into a few layers with wax paper between each layer and put into the freezer until you are ready to serve.

Garnish with fresh mint and serve on a large platter or in an ice bucket

Garnish with fresh mint and serve on a large platter or in an ice bucket

burrata and pesca ‘peach’ salad

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My mom passed this scrumptious recipe on to me after attending a cooking class last weekend. She filled my inbox with a stream of images from the yummy dishes they were sampling and raved about this particular recipe so I couldn’t resist making it for myself.

As usual, my mom was right. The Burrata and Pesca is a blissful combination of “light and fresh,” ideal for the blazing hot days of August. Served on a simple white platter, all I can think of is “summer on a plate,” with the vibrant color, drizzles of flavor and variety of tastes. I loved the salad so much, I made it twice this week and it’s already on the menu for the weekend. Enjoy!

Ingredients
1 round of Burrata cheese (sliced)
2 fresh yellow peaches
1-2 Tb toasted Hazelnuts
1-2 Tb balsamic reduction (see easy recipe below)
4 cups wild arugula
2 Tb olive oil (1/2 to marinate the peaches and 1/2 to drizzle over the Burrata)
Black pepper and salt to taste
3 Tb lemon olive oil (2 Tb olive oil and 1 Tb fresh lemon juice combined)

Balsamic reduction, olive oil, and fresh lemon juice swirl together in a perfect touch of flavor

Balsamic reduction, olive oil, and fresh lemon juice layer in a perfect pattern of flavor

 

Directions
Cut the yellow peaches into wedges and marinate with olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. In a flat griddle or non-stick saute pan, sear the peaches for a few minutes or until golden brown.

Place the peaches in a metal bowl and add the lemon olive oil and arugula and mix together gently. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon the salad on a nice platter, making sure to display the peaches. Place the Burrata across the top of the salad. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and the balsamic reduction. Top with the toasted hazelnuts.

Toasted hazelnuts lend a subtle rich nuttiness to the light and fresh flavors

Toasted hazelnuts lend a subtle rich nuttiness to the light and fresh taste

Easy Balsamic Reduction
Combine 1 cup Balsamic vinegar and 1 Tb sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. The liquid will reduce by about half.

Remove saucepan from heat and sauce will thicken as it cools.

What do you do with the extra balsamic glaze? Whatever you want! Drizzle on vanilla bean ice cream, on fresh heirloom tomatoes, on salads, on fresh fruit; especially strawberries or as a finishing glaze on chicken, steak and seafood.

The presentation couldn't be more appealing - summer on a plate

The presentation couldn’t be more appealing – SUMMER ON A PLATE

Recipe compliments of Canaletto Restaurant, Newport Beach, CA.

slow cooker chicken curry

Delicious combination of flavors from hours of slow cooking

“It’s a delectable combination of flavors from hours of slow cooking”

Mid-week is here again and this is the perfect quick recipe for a crazy week and an unusually chilly day here in Southern California. The prep time is nothing (10 to 15 minutes) and it will be so relaxing to pull in from an afternoon of carpooling and smell the scent of this yumminess wafting through the house. My husband seems really doubtful about the “yum” factor of this meal as he’s not a big fan of curry (guess I missed that memo; it’s only been 21 years). However, the curry powder is far from overpowering and simply enhances the overall flavor of the dish.

The original recipe, which I stumbled upon, came from the luscious food blog The Lemon Bowl. I changed my version up just a bit but the sauce base is essentially the same and works well in lending creaminess to the dish while accommodating your own “food edits,” such as adding different veggies, substituting shrimp or tofu in place of the chicken or adding it alongside the chicken for extra protein, flavor and creativity.

Ingredients
1 package organic boneless, skinless chicken breast (equals about 1.5 to 1.7 pounds)
1 onion thinly sliced (my mandolin made this a tear-free one minute process)
1, 15 ounce can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 package pre-cut sweet potatoes (I cut the sweet potatoes into smaller pieces but they were already peeled which made my prep fast)
1 1/2 cups cauliflower florets, broken into small pieces
1 cup broccoli florets, broken into small pieces
1 can Dole crushed pineapple
3/4 cup light Coconut milk
3/4 cup Swanson’s chicken stock
1, 15 ounce can tomato sauce
2 Tb melted butter
2 Tb curry powder
1/2 tsp Red Curry Paste (if you like spice-optional)
1 cup of green peas, frozen
1 tsp salt
Juice of 1 lemon
Optional toppings: crushed peanuts, bean sprouts, parsley, toasted coconut or crispy chow mein sticks

A bowl of healthy and delicious comfort

A bowl of healthy and delicious comfort

Directions
1. In the bottom of your crock pot combine the coconut milk, chicken stock, tomato sauce, melted butter, curry powder, curry paste and salt. Stir until thoroughly combined.
2. Add the chicken breasts, onion, chickpeas, sweet potatoes, cauliflower florets and broccoli florets.
3. Gently mix ingredients together so everything is fully coated with the sauce.
4. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours.
5. Once finished cooking, remove chicken breasts to cutting board and shred or cut into bite-sized pieces. Return to curry mixture and stir.
6. Add peas and lemon juice and stir. Let sit for 5 to 10 more minutes.
7. Add the Dole crushed pineapple to a small sauce pan and warm over high for 5 minutes.
8. Add cooked white rice to the bottom of each individual serving bowl.
9. Add a small layer of the cooked pineapple (optional).
10. Spoon chicken curry mixture on top.
11. Sprinkle with crushed peanuts, bean sprouts, parsley, toasted coconut or crispy chow mein sticks.

*This flexible recipe can be made with tofu and veggies for a vegetarian option. If you’re not a fan of white rice, serve the curry mixture over quinoa, gluten free noodles or completely on its own if you are watching your carb intake.

s’mores ice cream pie

IMG_5595
My kids LOVE Oreo ice cream pie. This wasn’t on the day’s TO-DO list but when I saw the “Limited Edition” S’mores Oreos staring me down at the end of the grocery aisle, I couldn’t help picture an ice cream pie using these cookies. And, of course, Dreyer’s just happened to have S’Mores ice cream when I checked the ice cream section. It was fate. My kids were meant to be pumped full of S’mores today, in some form or another. Happy Tuesday Treats!

Ingredients

2, 10 ounce packages of S’mores Oreos (limited edition)
1, 1.5 liter container of Dreyer’s S’Mores light ice cream
1, 8 ounce container of Cool Whip, slightly defrosted but not runny
Hershey’s syrup
1 Tb butter

Limited edition S'mores Oreos

Limited edition S’mores Oreos

 

IMG_5582

Crushed Oreos make a yummy ice cream pie crust

Directions
1. Leave ice cream out to thaw for 45 minutes.
2. Take one 10 ounce package of Oreos and crush in a large mixing bowl, reserve 1/4 cup.
3. Once crushed to your liking, add 1 Tb of melted butter and mix.
4. Butter the bottom of a 9″ pie pan.
5. Press the crushed Oreos into the bottom of the pie pan with the back of a tablespoon, making sure to push down firmly.
6. When ice cream is somewhat melted, pour the container on top of the crust and spread with a baking spatula until it is evenly layered across the pie pan.
7. Squeeze Hershey’s syrup across the top of the ice cream.
8. Spread defrosted Cool Whip across the top of the syrup and ice cream. The ingredients will be a little runny so move the Cool Whip gently with the spatula.
9. Take the second package of Oreos and form a border around the pie.
10. Take the reserved 1/4 cup of crushed Oreos and sprinkle across the top of the pie.
11. Top pie with a S’More, toasted marshmallows or shaved chocolate for decoration.
12. Place pie  in the freezer on an even surface and let harden for two to three hours.
13. When pie is firm, slice and enjoy.

Once the melted ice cream is spread across the cookie crust, drizzle with Hershey's syrup and top with Cool Whip

Once the melted ice cream is spread across the cookie crust, drizzle with Hershey’s syrup and top with Cool Whip

Use Oreos to create a cookie border, top with crushed Oreos and decorate

Use Oreos to create a cookie border, top with crushed Oreos and decorate

fish tacos

FishTacos3How’s your Wednesday looking? If it’s anything like mine, and I’m sure it is, the day is packed. There’s a reason Wednesdays are called “hump day.” Before my head hits the pillow tonight there is laundry to be done, dry cleaning to be picked up for a traveling husband, email to answer, a car rental to be booked, packing to be done for Memorial Day weekend, a workout I WILL squeeze in, a haircut for my son, an ortho appointment for my daughter, soccer fitness training for the same daughter, a Geometry tutoring session for my son and finally, book club where I will be bringing a salad – thinking about a Kale Caesar (The Rosie Project was our latest book; I highly recommend – it’s witty and light and the motion picture rights have already been secured). I’m predicting that my son will be texting me at book club asking what time I will be home so we can watch our nightly episode of Sons of Anarchy (we are deep into Season Five) and telling me the printer either doesn’t work OR is out-of-toner. Oh, and perhaps can I please grab some Gatorade before I get home because he’s dying of thirst and the bounty of liquids that I stock the fridge with are inaqdequate. Just a prediction…

We are overscheduled and busier than a one-armed paper hanger but I’m certain that it’s all part of this season of my particular life which involves two active teens and a family with ALOT of interests and commitments. Everyone I know is the same. So what happens at dinnertime on days like these? I still want my family to have a good and healthy dinner but clearly, spending an hour or more in the kitchen isn’t on the agenda today.

I suggest fish tacos. They are simple to make and involve NO MESS as the meal is completely prepared on the grill in a matter of 15 minutes. While the fish is grilling, dice up a tomato, shred some cheese, pop open a bag of already shredded cabbage, slice a lemon and cut up an avocado or two. Have your tortillas ready to go and this meal will be on the table in 20 minutes (I promise) with minimal clean-up required.

Ingredients
2 pounds white, lean fish (I have been buying Pacific Cod from my local fish market. Halibut also works well)
1/2 to 3/4 cup finely diced kale
1 tomato
1 lemon
1-2 avocados
cheddar cheese, shredded
tortillas
Olive oil
McCormick’s Lemon & Pepper Seasoning
Bolthouse Farms Cilantro Avocado Yogurt Dressing (a MUST for drizzling on top)
Aluminum foil
FishTaco1

Directions
1. Preheat your grill.
2. Place fish, skin side down on aluminum foil.
3. Brush the top of each filet with Olive oil.
4. Season each filet with McCormick’s Lemon & Pepper Seasoning.
5. Top each filet with the finely diced kale.
6. Place aluminum foil on the grill and set your timer for 13 to 15 minutes depending upon the thickness of the fish.
7. While the fish is cooking prepare your toppings (tomato, cheese, cabbage, avocado and lemon). *NOTE– there is no need to flip the fish ever. It cooks perfectly skin side down.
8. When your timer rings, remove the foil with the cooked fish to a wood cutting board and bring inside.
9. Cook your tortillas on a gas stove (if you have one) flipping each tortilla with tongs as soon as it starts to bubble up. The edges get nice and golden brown.
10. Place two tortillas in a basket and with a spatula flake off pieces of the fish and put into the tortillas. Have each person add whatever toppings they want to their fish tacos (these plastic baskets can be purchased almost anywhere and make clean-up nonexistent. Click on the link above to find them on Amazon).

FishTaco2

I highly recommend squeezing some fresh drops of lemon juice on top and drizzling Bolthouse Farms Cilantro Avocado Yogurt Dressing – the flavors are addicting.

So that’s what we’re eating this Wednesday hump day…good luck with your Wednesday on a Whim and send me any shortcut yummy ideas you have to maintain sanity in the kitchen and health at your dinner table.
Fish Tacos Lead

mexican chocolate doughnuts

LeadDoughnutRaise your hand if you’ve heard this familiar refrain, “Mom, don’t forget I need [insert food item here] for class [insert urgent date here]. I admit that my son did give me the weekend to prepare, although he had a basketball tournament on Saturday and Mother’s Day was yesterday (Sunday). Timing, eh?

My son needed to bring in a Mexican food item to share with 16 kids in his Spanish class. There are tons of things that can be made BUT transport was my main concern. A 16-year old boy transporting handmade, hard-labored over food to school without getting crushed, smushed or dropped was tantamount to my plan.

I originally had visions of making Churros that were delicately wrapped in wax paper, light and fluffy with the perfect coating of cinnamon and sugar. I also had a glaringly opposing vision of me sweating over my electric skillet, oil flying everywhere only to be left with soggy and sad looking pastry sticks somewhat resembling churros (all the recipes make them sound so easy to make). So I went with my gut and chose this delicious recipe for Mexican Chocolate Doughnuts. They are easy to make and they are BAKED not fried.

I did a test batch of the doughnuts and brought them to Mother’s Day brunch at my sister’s house. The number one food critic in our home, my son, gave me a thumbs up. When other people said they were “so good,” I knew I made the right choice. I still want to try making Churros but not when someone’s grade is dependent upon it.

The Mexican Chocolate Doughnuts would be a fun item at holiday time served with a side of cinnamon whipped cream and Mexican hot chocolate or wrapped in a crisp white box and brought as a hostess gift with a pretty recipe card or served as an easy brunch item the next time there’s a sleepover. Thanks to the talented ladies at Garnish With Lemon for solving my dilemma and creating a recipe that will be used over and over, especially in times of “crisis.” Hopefully, my son will flawlessly dictate in Spanish how to make these delicious morsels and “WE” will get an A.

Ingredients
Doughnut batter
½ cup buttermilk
½ cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 egg
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons semi sweet chocolate chips, melted
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1¼ cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Chocolate Glaze
5 T unsalted butter
⅓ cup chocolate chips
2 T milk
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp vanilla
1 cup powdered sugar

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 325.

For the doughnuts
1. Mix buttermilk, brown sugar and egg in the bowl of a stand mixer until thoroughly combined.
2. Add the melted chocolate and butter and mix until incorporated. Add the cinnamon, cayenne pepper, flour, baking soda and salt and mix until just combined.
3. Pipe mixture using a frosting bag into greased doughnut pan and fill each well ¾ of the way full.
4. Bake at 325 for 12-14 min. Let set in pan for 5 minutes and then remove to a wire
rack to cool. I found that if I let the doughnuts sit a bit longer and cool they were easier to pull out of the doughnut well with my fingertips.

For the glaze:
In a medium saucepan mix the butter, chocolate chips and milk. Heat over med low heat until melted. Add cinnamon and vanilla and whisk until smooth. Add powdered sugar and whisk until smooth. Dip doughnuts into glaze and set on drying rack to set. Serve.

Doughnut1

Doughnut2

Doughnut3

Doughnut4

 

NOTES
1. I found my Wilton Doughnut pan at Bed Bath & Beyond.
2. Instead of spooning the mixture into the doughnut pan well, I piped it in using a frosting bag without a tip. I cut a bit of a larger hole and it worked perfectly and easily.

 

lemon-thyme cake

FullSizeRenderIsn’t it annoying when a recipe calls for a few sprigs of a particular fresh herb and you are essentially left with the full amount? In my case, the culprit was thyme, whose two sprigs capped off my perfect pot roast. Rather than toss the bunch, I decided to try a few different recipes and really max out the versatility of the herb. One such recipe is this scrumptious cake that popped up as soon as I Googled “lemon-thyme cake.” The talented ladies from the blog Spoon Fork Bacon published the original recipe in 2014 and it is a winner.

No one in my family could pass the cake stand without breaking off pieces of the light fluffly deliciousness. We chipped away diligently until all that remained was a smattering of crumbs.

The Lemon-Thyme cake will debut at my sister’s house on Mother’s Day; one cake wrapped for my sister as a thank you for hosting and another cake as an “I Love You” to my mom. I’m picking up white cake boxes and wrapping each one in soft yellow ribbon with sprigs of thyme on top. Personally, I think it’s a gift everyone will enjoy and it comes straight from the heart (and, of course, will be accompanied by a bottle of champagne).

This piece might seem big, until you take a BITE.

This piece might seem big, until you take a BITE.

Makes 2 (8”) cakes

Cake Ingredients
2 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups superfine sugar (I used C&H pure granulated sugar and it was fine)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup whole milk
3 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon almond extract
zest of 1 lemon
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh minced thyme

Frosting Ingredients
I strayed from the SFB frosting and made a lemon buttercream which was easy and divine, especially with the hint of lemon subtly popping through.

1/2 cup butter, softened
4 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
5 to 6 Tb lemon juice
1 tsp grated lemon peel
Lemonthyme1

Cake Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350˚F.
2. Place flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a mixing bowl.
3. Place sugar, butter and eggs into another mixing bowl and whisk together. Pour the flour mixture into the egg mixture and whisk together until very thick and combined.
4. Stir in the remaining ingredients except for the zest and thyme, until fully incorporated and the batter is smooth.
5. Gently fold in the zest and thyme until just combined.
6. Pour the batter into two prepared cake pans (bottoms lined with parchment and lightly greased) and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of the cake.
7. Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for 15 to 20 minutes before removing from pans and letting them cool completely before frosting.

Frosting Directions
1. In a mixing bowl, beat the butter until creamy.
2. Beat in the confectioners sugar, vanilla and lemon juice
3. Beat until well-blended.
4. Fold in the lemon peel just until mixed.
5. Frost each cake layer when cool and assemble.
6. Decorate the top with a few leaves of thyme and a lemon wheel

Beautiful on the outside and tasty on the inside

Beautiful on the outside and tasty on the inside

love bites

Love Bites CollageIf there is any chance of denying your kids are growing up right before your eyes, it only takes a holiday or two to make it clear that there has been a shift.

My “babies” are only 16 and 12 but gone is the Valentine’s Day frenzy of candy grams, homemade treats for the class and finding the perfect Valentine’s cards for the big exchange. Perhaps its denial but I refuse to “go gently into that good night,” when it comes to my maturing babes and ANY holiday. When they are grown with families of their own, I want them to remember their childhood home as a place of tradition and celebration – no matter their age.

So for the past few years, I have made them their own Valentine’s Day celebration replete with decorations and a decadent amount of treats and sweets. I call this little party, “Love Bites,” because each morsel is filled with love (and of course, you can’t overlook the fact that sometimes, love DOES bite).

Love Bites Menu

The first year I created “Love Bites,” it was a wild-haired idea that came to me about an hour before school pick-up. I dashed to the store and bought heart-shaped cookies, nuts, conversation hearts, caramels, strawberries and whipped cream. It wasn’t a fancy display but I knew from the looks on their faces, it wasn’t about the fancy, it was about making an unexpected and special gesture just for them. Don’t think over the top if you create your own Love Bites table, just keep it simple and real – for whoever you’re loving.

Mini Layer Cakes with Strawberries+Mint

Mini Layer Cakes with Strawberries+Mint

Click HERE for recipe

Palmiers dipped in red chocolate+crushed peanuts

Palmiers dipped in red chocolate+crushed peanuts

 

White Chocolate Peanut Butter Krispies

White Chocolate Peanut Butter Krispies

Click HERE for recipe

Chocolate dipped strawberries with red sprinkles

Chocolate dipped strawberries with red sprinkles

 

Chocolate Tulip cups filled with Vanilla pudding and topped with raspberries & chocolate shavings

Chocolate Tulip cups filled with Vanilla pudding and topped with raspberries & chocolate shavings

 

Chocolate dipped alphabet cookies

Chocolate dipped alphabet cookies

 

Blackberry+Strawberry infused water with mint

Blackberry+Strawberry infused water with mint

 

Food alone won't fill your table - pay attention to the special touches

Food alone won’t fill your table – pay attention to the special touches

Happy Valentine’s Day!

white chocolate peanut butter krispies

White Chocolate Peanut Butter Krispies

Perfect for any holiday or special occasion, these White Chocolate Peanut Butter Krispies are highly addictive. A friend gave us some after her annual family cookie baking session in early December. Everything she gave us was yummy but my kids went wild for these delicious morsels. They are soooooooooo easy to make that I gave them out for teacher gifts at holiday time (I was asked for the recipe by several teachers).

For Valentine’s Day, I followed the recipe below and added conversation hearts and pink sprinkles for a little Valentine’s Day flair.

Ingredients:
2 cups Rice Krispies cereal
2 cups dry roasted peanuts
2 cups miniature marshmallows
1 cup creamy peanut butter
*2 pounds white melting chocolate =  (2, 12-oz packages plus 1 1/3 cup)
**I used Ghirardelli White Chocolate Melting Chips (NOT chocolate chip morsels)
**You can also use vanilla CandiQuik

Conversation Hearts and Pink Sprinkles add a Valentine's Day Flair

Conversation Hearts and Pink Sprinkles add a Valentine’s Day Flair

Directions:
In a large bowl, combine cereal, peanuts and marshmallows. In a microwave safe bowl, melt chocolate and peanut butter on high for 1 minute and then in 30 second intervals until fully melted. Stir chocolate into cereal mixture. Mixture will be slightly runny. Drop by tablespoon onto waxed paper. Add sprinkles (conversation hearts) at this point if desired. Let set until firm, 2 hours. Store in airtight container.
One batch makes between 20 and 30 pieces depending upon how big you drop them onto the wax paper.

mini strawberry layer cakes with fresh cream

IMG_6842The perfect little dessert for any occasion, these cakes are tailored for Valentine’s Day with bright red strawberries, fresh cream, chocolate zest and mint.

Ingredients:
Cake
Use your favorite vanilla/white cake recipe
Add 1 1/2 tsp. lemon zest
Add 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
Add 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Large 6-well cupcake pan

Fresh Whipped Cream
8 ounces heavy whipping cream
1 Tb pure granulated sugar
1 Tb vanilla extract

Other
Cleaned and sliced strawberries
Dark chocolate zest
Fresh mint leaves

Directions:
Make cake batter according to your recipe, adding the additional ingredients listed above (lemon zest, cinnamon and vanilla extract). Pour each cupcake well 3/4 full of cake batter and bake according to directions. Once finished, let cool.

In a blender, mix together the heavy cream, granulated sugar and vanilla extract. Blend on medium-high until stiff peaks form.

Using a perforated knife, cut each oversized cupcake into three layers.

Layer cupcakes with whipping cream, strawberries and mint. Repeat. Once the top layer is finished, zest dark chocolate over the whipped cream and top with a strawberry or two and a fresh mint leaf.

Place mini cakes on a heart shaped doilie on a cake stand. Place fresh mint leaves all around to fill white space.

Place mini cakes on a heart shaped doilie on a cake stand. Place fresh mint leaves all around to fill white space.

alice’s stuffing

IMG_6204I love holiday recipes that have a life of their own brimming with history, insight and love. This cherished Thanksgiving recipe was shared by one of my dear friends, Annie-Laurie.

Annie-Laurie married into an Irish family of five, with her husband being the baby and the only boy. From day one, the family scooped her up into their holiday traditions and high-spirited meals. I’ve heard her recount many years of endearing holiday stories…turkey cook-offs, taking turns around the table saying what each person is thankful for, piano playing and singing and a bevy of games from Catch Phrase to Pictionary.

Annie-Laurie’s first Thanksgiving with her husband’s family was 25 years ago. Both of her in-laws have passed on but imprinted onto their family treasured customs that the family shares in, especially during this time of year.

This is Annie-Laurie’s favorite recipe from her mother-in-law, Alice. In reminiscing about Thanksgiving with Alice, she said, “Alice made everything from scratch and she did it so well. The whole meal was ready at the same time. She would always want us to take our time and enjoy it because it took an entire day to prepare. My sister-in-law, Beth, has followed in her footsteps and makes the Thanksgiving meal a treat. Next week we will have Alice’s stuffing and I will savor every mouthful.”

Counterclockwise: Alice's recipe in her own writing. she and husband Jack in the early years. Sitting down to Thanksgiving in the early 80s

Clockwise: Alice’s recipe in her own writing. She and husband Jack in their early years. Sitting down to Thanksgiving in the early 80s.

Recipes aren’t just instructions on a page; they connect families and friends to the past the present and the future. A special recipe holds purpose and love and the ability to tell a family’s story from generation to generation. The love of those we miss comes alive with each ingredient we add and with each bite we take. Ask your friends about their favorite family recipes and you will be sure to not only get a delicious new dish to make but insight into the love of family that connects us all.

Alice’s Stuffing is meant to cook inside the turkey. See below for a second version that omits a few ingredients and cooks outside of the bird.

Fresh, cubed bread, ready to be mixed with fresh ingredients

Fresh, cubed bread, ready to be mixed with celery, onions and herbs

Ingredients
1 cup butter or margarine
2 cups diced celery
1/2 cup chopped onions
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp poultry seasoning
1/2 tsp pepper
16 cups lightly packed fresh bread cubes
3 eggs lightly beaten

Fresh, wholesome food

A simple recipe using the freshest ingredients

Directions (about 40 minutes before adding to the turkey)
In a large saucepan over medium heat, in hot butter or margarine, cook celery and onions until tender, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add parsley, salt, poultry seasoning and pepper; mix well. Stir in bread cubes and eggs and mix well. Makes enough stuffing for one 8 to 11 pound turkey.

Use a pretty casserole dish for stuffing that bakes outside of the turkey

Use a pretty casserole dish for stuffing that bakes outside of the turkey

Crumbly Bread Stuffing
For stuffing cooked outside of the turkey, prepare as above but use only 3/4 cup butter and omit the eggs. Cook in a lightly buttered casserole dish on 350 degrees for about 25 to 30 minutes.

 

sweet potato soufflé

IMG_6060I asked a few of my best friends for their favorite family Thanksgiving recipe. My friend Lisa, always supportive of everything her friends do, sent me this recipe from her husband’s southern Georgia family. I made the dish (fluffy sweetness and savory scrumptiousness all in one bite), took pictures and sat down to write about it. It took me back to how Lisa and I became friends.

It was my first day of second grade at a new school. I was sporting a Dorothy Hamill pixie cut and wearing a light blue puffy jacket from JCPenney (my sister and I had matching ones). I was assigned to a square table of four with Lisa sitting next to me. She showed me where the drinking fountain was and we have been friends ever since. We survived the many adventures of grade school and then, all girls Catholic high school. We have shared the stages of life that only lifelong friendships can – homecoming dances, football games, big 80s style hair, cramming for exams, parties, sneaking out, graduation, college, concerts, careers, trips, marriage, babies, birthdays, book clubs, cooking clubs, illness, death and everything in between.

Friends since age seven... All the beautiful (and not so beautiful stages)...

Friends since age seven… All the beautiful (and not so beautiful stages)…

Friendships are like good recipes. They bring comfort, fulfillment, love and deliciousness to your life every day. This recipe is as good as the girl it came from (thanks, Lis!). Lisa adjusts the recipe for her son’s food allergies so you can also enjoy the same yumminess in a Gluten free and Dairy free version.

Ingredients
3 cups sweet potatoes, baked and mashed (approximately two large sweet potatoes)
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup evaporated milk
1 stick butter, softened
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Crumbled topping of pecans, brown sugar, flour and butter

Crumbled topping of pecans, brown sugar, flour and butter


Topping
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 stick butter, melted

*For a Gluten Free and Dairy Free version use the following:
Non-dairy butter (Earth Balance)
Gluten Free flour
Vanilla Almond milk (in place of the evaporated milk)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together sweet potatoes, sugar, eggs, evaporated milk, butter and vanilla until well blended. Pour into a buttered casserole dish. Mix the pecans, flour, brown sugar and melted butter and sprinkle over the entire top of the sweet potato mixture. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes.

Golden brown and cripsy crust just out of the oven

Golden brown and cripsy crust just out of the oven

You can make the Sweet Potato Souffle a day ahead. Cover tightly and refrigerate. To serve, simply bring it to room temperature and bake. The souffle also makes for great leftovers.

Use a large sweet potato and leaf-shaped cookie cutter top embellish soufflé on your Thanksgiving table

Use a large sweet potato and leaf-shaped cookie cutter to embellish soufflé on your Thanksgiving table with “Sweet Potato Leaves”

organic broccoli soup

IMG_5501

Our friends at Red and Honey have a fun feature called Sunday Night Soups. Given that it’s a football Sunday in November, please enjoy this re-post from Cashmere Apron and check out the link to Red and Honey for their super yummy soup suggestions.

Soup is one of those meals that warms your heart and soul. When the human body gets sick, it is soup that it craves. It is a true “comfort food” that makes you reminisce of cold winter nights and family meals together. I love how you can make this soup so quickly and fill your loved one’s stomachs with loads of pureed vegetables. I try my hardest to purchase organic products when making this soup and have replaced the original heavy cream with fat-free cream. It is a simple recipe that can help you get through the middle of a busy week. Let’s face it, we are all making our Thanksgiving To Do lists and no one has time for burdensome meals. If you have an extra hungry mouth to please, just add a chopped salad or a nice piece of crusty bread.

Ingredients
4 Tb butter, room temperature
2 pounds fresh, organic broccoli, small chop
1 large organic onion, medium chop
1 large organic carrot, small chop
Salt and pepper to taste
3 Tb all-purpose flour
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup cream (I used fat-free)
Garnish with sliced scallions, bacon bits, cheddar cheese

Directions
Melt buter in a heavy-medium pot. Add broccoli, onion, carrot, salt and pepper and sauté until onion is transparent. Add the flour and cook for one minute or until the flour is a blonde color. Add stock and bring to a boil.

Simmer uncovered until the broccoli is tender, about 15 minutes. Pour in cream. With an immersion blender, puree the soup. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Can add more cream if you want. Serve with the garnish of your choice. Serves:4

 

pistachio torte

IMG_5898
This year in particular, it seemed like “pumpkin fever” took hold before I could finish licking the Labor Day barbecue sauce off my fingers. If an item wasn’t pumpkin flavored, it was pumpkin infused, laced or scented from bagels to pudding to chocolate and beer.

If you happen to be on pumpkin overload and want an alternative for your Thanksgiving dessert table, try the Torta Di Pistacchio. This particular recipe is from a cooking class at one of our favorite Italian restaurants, Canaletto Ristorante Veneto. And by “cooking class,” I mean that we sat at a beautifully set table and watched two talented and highly entertaining chefs whip up three delicious courses. Our job was to drink wine, converse and eat. The chefs always finish the meal with a dessert and an appertif sized-glass of homemade limoncello, an Italian liquer.

Limoncello pairs perfectly with the torte to finish off your meal

Limoncello pairs perfectly with the torte to finish off your meal

This Thanksgiving, if you want to forego the traditional, serve this beautiful torte with chilled Limoncello to cap off your holiday.

Ingredients (sponge cake)
7 whole eggs
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup flour
1 1/2 ounces cornstarch
1/4 Tb baking powder
1/4 Tb vanilla extract

The torte displays beautifully on any table

The torte displays beautifully on any table

Ingredients (filling and topping)
3/4 cup pistachios, chopped
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup Mascarpone cheese
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate, grated finely (I used a zester)

The rich creamy filling softens the cake layers

The rich creamy filling softens the cake layers

Bagna mixture (to wet the sponge cake before frosting)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. Triple Sec
Fresh mint, if desired.

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine eggs, vanilla extract, and sugar until the mixture becomes fluffly and rises to almost double. Mix the flour, baking powder and cornstarch together in a separate bowl.

Very slowly, incorporate the flour mixture into the fluffy egg mixture until well mixed. Pour batter into a springform pan and bake for approximately 20 minutes. *The sponge cake will rise into a fluffy dome but will settle down once it cools.

Assembling the cake
Cut the sponge cake into three even layers. I used a perforated bread knife and it worked fine. Don’t worry if your layers aren’t perfect – that’s why we have filling/frosting.

Combine the water, sugar and triple sec in a glass bowl to make the Bagna. Wet the sponge cake layers with the Bagna using a pastry brush. Be sure to cover the entire surface of each layer.

Mix the heavy cream, Mascarpone cheese and sugar in a blender until firm. Gently blend in the grated chocolate until mixed. Spread the cream in equal parts on the three layers, one on top of the other and save some for the top. Finish the top of the sponge cake with the creme, pistachios and chocolate shavings. Add mint for aesthetics if desired.

Top the torte with pistachios and chocolate zest and embellish the sides with fresh mint

Top the torte with pistachios and chocolate zest and embellish the sides with fresh mint

Serves 8-10

Buon Appetito

Compliments of Chef Moises Mendoza and Antonio Guarracino

Canaletto Restaurant, Fashion Island Newport Beach, California

And if you’re curious, check out this list of best and worst pumpkin items this holiday season.

caramelized garlic tart

IMG_5455Whenever I buy a new cookbook or rip through a fresh- in-my-mailbox magazine, I dog ear pages like crazy, making notes left and right. I have a laundry list of creative endeavors I aspire to accomplish. I often find, however, that I get sidetracked – it’s an ongoing problem I call multi-tasking max out.

I recently rifled through the robustly colorful cookbook, PLENTYnamed by Amazon Editors’ as a “Favorite Book of the Year” for 2014. The award winning chef and food writer, Yotam Ottolenghi has been described as “the man who made vegetables sexy.” I wanted to find something scrumptious to make for a Labor Day party and this tart was the ticket. While there are PLENTY of steps to making this light puff of a pastry, the process is simple. Just allow enough time for preparation and avoid cramming it in between Sunday Church, football, laundry and walking the dog.

A Beautiful Cover Always Grabs My Attention

A beautiful book cover always grabs my attention

With Thanksgiving looming, the versatility of the Carmelized Garlic Tart can double as an elegant #thanksgivingappetizer or #thanksgivingvegetariandish. The tart can be made a day ahead and then reheated before serving. I love recipes that allow for something special and beautiful on the plate without requiring you to sweat it out in your heels and party clothes minutes before your guests arrive.

Ingredients
13 oz all-butter puff pastry
3 medium heads of garlic, cloves separated and peeled
1 Tb olive oil
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 cup water
¾ Tb sugar
1 tsp chopped rosemary
1 tsp chopped thyme, plus a few whole sprigs to finish
4 ¼ oz creamy goat cheese (such as chevre)
4 ¼ oz hard, mature goat cheese (such as goat gouda)
2 eggs
6 1/2 Tb heavy cream
6 1/2 Tb crème fraîche
black pepper

Directions
Have ready a shallow, loose-bottomed, 11-inch fluted tart pan (I bought a new pan from Bed, Bath & Beyond by Wilton). Roll out the puff pastry into a circle that will line the bottom and sides of the pan, plus a little extra. Line the pan with the pastry. Place a large circle of greaseproof paper on the bottom and fill up with baking beans or pie weights. Leave to rest in the fridge for about 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the tart pan in the oven and bake blind for 20 minutes. Remove the beans/weights and paper, then bake for 5-10 minutes longer, or until the pastry is golden. Set aside. Leave the oven on.

A light and golden crust ready to be filled with scrumptiousness

A light and golden crust ready to be filled with scrumptiousness

While the tart shell is baking, make the caramelized garlic. Put the cloves in a small saucepan and cover with plenty of water. Bring to a simmer and blanch for 3 minutes, then drain well. Dry the saucepan, return the cloves to it and add the olive oil. Fry the garlic cloves on high heat for 2 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Add the sugar, rosemary, chopped thyme and ¼ teaspoon salt. Continue simmering on a medium flame for 10 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated and the garlic cloves are coated in a dark caramel syrup. Set aside.

 

Garlic caramelizing with fresh herbs, sugar and balsamic vinegar

Garlic carmelizing with fresh herbs, sugar and balsamic vinegar

To assemble the tart, break both types of goat’s cheese into pieces and scatter in the pastry case. Spoon the garlic cloves and syrup evenly over the cheese.

Carmelized garlic+syrup+cheeses make the filling

Carmelized garlic+syrup+cheeses make the filling

In a separate bowl whisk together the eggs, creams, ½ teaspoon salt and some black pepper. Pour this custard over the tart filling to fill the gaps, making sure that you can still see the garlic and cheese over the surface. Reduce the oven temperature to 160 degrees and place the tart inside.

After light, whipped custard is poured into the shell with the filling still showing through

The light, whipped custard is poured into the shell with the filling still showing through

 

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Warm from the oven, browned and golden

Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until the tart filling has set and the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool a little. Then lift the bottom of the tart pan away from the side and trim the pastry edge if needed. Lay a few sprigs of thyme on top and serve warm.
As a reminder, the tart can be made a day ahead and reheated before serving.

Slice and serve

Slice and serve

Recipe from PLENTY, by Yotam Ottolenghi.

spider web elixer

Black Widow LeadHalloween morning has broken with fluffy gray clouds and temperatures more in line with fall. Here in Southern California, it has not been below 74 degrees since May. I heard that stat on the news yesterday and couldn’t believe it. I am soooooooooo ready for boots, scarves, jeans and hats. I am going to enjoy this micro dip in temps and ignore the forecast which takes us back into the 80’s next week.

We are celebrating in the neighborhood tonight on Christi’s very long driveway. Our beach chairs are out and the ping pong table is set-up with mounds of candy ready to be thrown into pillowcases of trick-or-treaters big and small. We have a “gourmet” menu planned of pizza, salad, apps and spirits. I am looking forward to a RELAXED and EASY Friday night Halloween as we pump up every kid in the neighborhood with their annual sugar fix.

If you are in need of a Halloween themed drink, whip up a pitcher of our favorite “Spider Web Elixer.” The drink is simple to make and can be creatively styled with black licorice and candy corn or orange and black jelly bellys. Happy Halloween 2014. Wishing you a GHOULISH good time! ♥

Ingredients
3 parts vanilla vodka
1 part black anise-flavored liqueur (recommended: Sambuca)
1 part espresso
Black licorice and candy corn for garnish

Directions
In a cocktail shaker, combine all ingredients except the licorice with ice and shake to mix. Serve in a cocktail martini glass with a black licorice straw.

 

Recipe from Sandra Lee

fabulous frightful frankies

Frankie Final LEADIngredients
3 Tb butter
4 cups JET-PUFFED Miniature Marshmallows + 12 to 16 additional marshmallows to create side screws on Frankie’s head
6 cups Kellogg’s® Rice Krispies® cereal
11-12 drops of green food coloring
1 package mini chocolate chips or Dolci melting chocolate
black licorice strands cut into 1” to 1/2” pieces
decorative sugar in green, gold and silver (found in the baking aisle at most major
grocery stores. I used Betty Crocker brand.)
candy eyes by Wilton

Directions
In large saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add 4 cups marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat. Stir in 11-12 drops of the green food coloring until the color is “your” desired shade of green. Add Kellog’s Rice Crispies cereal. Stir until well coated. Using buttered spatula or wax paper evenly press mixture into 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan coated with cooking spray. Cool. Cut into large rectangles to form the head of Frankenstein. *To create a thicker Frankie head, use a smaller sized pan.

When the cooled and cut Rice Krispy rectangles are ready to decorate, melt the Dolci melting chocolate or pour 1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl and heat for 30 seconds. Stir and put back into microwave for 15 to 30 seconds. Remove and stir again until melted.Frankenstein Hair

Dip one side of Rice Krispy rectangle into the melted chocolate to add Frankie’s hairline. Add strands of black licorice to fill out the hairline and sprinkle with green decorative sugar. Set on wax paper so chocolate can harden.

To add the eyeballs, dip a wooden sandwich pick (it has a bigger flat end than a regular toothpick) into the melted chocolate. Gently place a drop on the back of the eyeball and then place (chocolate side down) onto “Frankie’s” face to create the eyes.Frankie sidescrews

To create the side screws on Frankie’s head, melt chocolate in a small, microwave proof bowl. Combine the gold and silver decorative sugar in a small bowl. With a wooden sandwich pick, dip the miniature marshmallow into the melted chocolate and then directly into the gold and silver decorative sugar. Place on wax paper and let chocolate and sugar firm up. Once firm, place a drop of the melted chocolate on the flat side of the marshmallow and press to the side of Frankie’s head until set. Let dry completely on wax paper.Lead Image Frankenstein

Arrange the Fabulous Frightful Frankies on a platter and watch them disappear like magic.

blooming onion pizza bread

Blooming Onion Pizza Bread LeadFootball Sunday is here. So is Football Monday, Thursday and Saturday. Take your pick. When we find a free Sunday, it’s so much fun getting together with other families to hangout, watch football, eat, drink and chat the afternoon away.

The next time you head out to someone’s house or they head to yours for the same type of merriment, this “Blooming Onion Pizza Bread,” is a great #appetizer to serve. The pizza bread is simple to make, easy to serve and goes a long way – plus it’s appealing to all age groups.

Ingredients:
1 unsliced round loaf sourdough bread
12-16 ounces mozzarella or Provolone cheese, thinly sliced
1 (3.5 ounce) package pepperoni, halved
3 Tb butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
2 Tb Parmesan cheese
Pizza/marinara sauce for dipping
Blooming onion pizza bread #02

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the bread lengthwise and widthwise without cutting through the bottom crust. This can be a little tricky going the second way but the bread is very forgiving. Place bread on a foil-lined baking sheet and insert cheese slices and pepperoni between cuts. Combine butter, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning. Drizzle or brush mixture over bread with a pastry brush. Sprinkle bread with Parmesan cheese. Wrap bread completely in foil and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Unwrap the bread and bake 10 more minutes, or until cheese is melted and pepperoni is a little crispy.

bulgur and citrus side dish or salad

Summer has arrived in Florida, and each day I’m trying to come up with something light and refreshing for my family’s dinner plate. This dish can be served as a side dish to a piece of grilled meat or just as a salad. I am lucky enough to have citrus trees in my yard, so I use them when making this delicious citrus dressing. Since I am in “packing mode” for our move back to California, I made a big batch of this to munch on while packing boxes. It’s versatile, uniquely refreshing, and a recipe I will definitely put in my recipe box. 

IMG_6390

Dressing Ingredients:
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1- 1/2 Tb honey
1/2 tsp. salt, more to taste
5 Tb extra-virgin olive oil
Black pepper to taste

Salad Ingredients:
1 cup bulgur
1-1/2 cups boiling water
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1/2 finely grated carrot
1/2 cup currants
1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
2 Tb chopped fresh parsley
3 green onions, sliced thin

Directions:
Prepare the dressing. In a small bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Prepare the bulgur. Place the bulgur in a heat-prof dish or small saucepan. Pour the boiling water over the bulgur and let it stand for 10 minutes, until tender but firm. Drain water from bulgur and fluff with a fork.

Add the celery, carrots, currants, sunflower seeds, green onion and parsley, tossing to distribute evenly. Pour the dressing over the bulgur, stirring until evenly mixed. Salt to taste and serve. Serves:4

dreamstime_xl_29854401

mother’s day spirits (our mom’s faves)

IMG_8413

Christi and I were both blessed with amazing moms who are there for us no matter what. They are our biggest champions, friends, confidantes and aren’t afraid to keep us on track when we act sassy or grumpy (yes…who knows your mood better than your mom). We will each be celebrating our mom’s tomorrow on Mother’s Day. We thought it would be fun to highlight their favorite cocktails on Cashmere Apron this week (Nina’s fav is the Blue Cheese and Bacon Martini and Mary’s is the Grapefruit Basil Martini – both recipes follow).

Cheers to Nina and Mary – the best of the best. We love you – Happy Mother’s Day!

BLUE CHEESE & BACON MARTINI (Nina’s favorite)
Ingredients

2- 1/2 shots Gin
1/2 shot of brine from cocktail olives
1/8 shot extra dry Vermouth
Blue Cheese stuffed olives for garnish
Bacon crumbles

IMG_8045

CHRISTI & HER MOM, NINA VISITING NYC

Directions
Fry bacon until very crisp and chop up very fine. Rub the rim of your chilled martini glass with butter and roll the edge of the glass in the bacon crumbs. Shake all martini ingredients together with ice in a cocktail shaker and strain into glass. Garnish with a few olives. Makes one drink.

 

Grapefruit Basil Martini Lead
GRAPEFRUIT BASIL MARTINI (Mary’s favorite)

Ingredients
2 ounces Freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice
1 ounce Vodka
1 diced fresh Basil leaf plus additional for garnish

Mother's Day 01

 

Directions
Add crushed ice to a Martini shaker. Pour in the freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice and vodka. Add the diced fresh Basil leaf. Shake vigorously and strain into a chilled martini glass. Top with a fresh  Basil leaf for garnish. Makes one drink.

tamale making party

IMG_1840

What better way to celebrate Cinco De Mayo than with a group of friends making tamales. A few girlfriends and I embarked on this tradition four years ago. Originally, December seemed like a good time for this endeavor so we could serve tamales during the holidays. We picked a day right before the Winter recess when all of our kids would still be in school. A memorable day was spent side-by-side, filling, wrapping and steaming our bundles of deliciousness. We each went home with overflowing trays of tamales (they freeze very well).

Ready to Steam Away.

READY TO BE FILLED WITH STEAMING TAMALES

Despite our efforts, the “holiday” tamale making party fell by the wayside until we determinedly resurrected it this year. Acknowledging that the holidays were NOT an ideal time for this endeavor, we decided to plan it for “ski week” in February when schedules and obligations calmed a bit. We had a relaxing and chatter-filled day, with tamales steaming in every kind of stock pot we could find. And we each commented that the process was so easy, we didn’t know why we waited so long to do it again.

Like anything in life, the experience is what you make of it. You don’t have to follow any steadfast rules about what goes in the tamales. There are the traditonal favorites but you can be as creative as you like. There were three of us so we each brought a filling. I made a spicy shredded beef in the slow cooker. Another friend made a chicken and chile version she found online and our third friend made a vegetarian version with roasted peppers, roasted corn and black beans. The key is to ensure your fillings have enough liquid so the tamales don’t dry out after steaming. Every version was delicious and made with love, creativity and friendship.

USE PREPARED MASA WHICH IS READY TO GO

USE PREPARED MASA WHICH IS READY TO GO AND GLUTEN FREE!

You never need a reason to celebrate friendship or good food but Cinco De Mayo seems as good a time as any.

Basic Ingredients
10 pounds of “prepared” Masa. You can purchase this at most Mexican restaurants that make tamales. Be sure to ask for it “prepared” or you will get a bag of flour like substance.
3 pounds of cooked spicy shredded beef (click here for easy slow cooker recipe)
3 pounds of cooked chicken and chili (click here for easy slow cooker recipe)
1 to 2 pounds of vegetarian mixture
2 to 3 bags of tamale husks (purchase at any Mexican market, Smart & Final or Mexican restaurant)
3 to 4 large stock pots with steamers
Aluminum trays
Tongs

EVERYONE GETS A JOB - ASSEMBLY LINE STYLE

EVERYONE GETS A JOB – ASSEMBLY LINE STYLE

Basic Directions
Prep and make your filling the day before, especially the shreeded beef which cooks for 8 to 10 hours in the slow cooker. Soak corn husks in warm water the night before.

On tamale making day, create an assembly line and have each friend responsible for a step in the process. Make sure you remove the tamale husks from water and pat them dry with a paper towel (they will still be slightly damp).

Lay the tamale husk flat (it will naturally fold up a little bit). Spread about one cup of the prepared Masa on the tamale husk. Use a spatula or large spoon to spread the Masa about 3/4 up the tamale husk. Place a large serving spoon size of your prepared filling on the Masa. Fold the tamale up from the bottom first, and then roll each side in so you have a nice little pouch. Tie the top of the tamale with strings pulled from some of the tamale husks (the texture is similar to a thick raffia ribbon).

Lay each uncooked tamale on a cutting board or tray and pile them up. When you have 15 to 20, line the inside of your stock pot with the tamales. Make sure they are standing straight up with the ties at the top. You want to pack them in the stock pot.

ALL TIED UP AND READY TO BE STEAMED

ALL TIED UP AND READY TO BE STEAMED

Make sure the tamales are standing on a steamer and that you have enough water in the bottom of the pot. Steam on high heat for 90 minutes (YES – 90 MINUTES). This is why we like to have bunches of tamales ready to be steamed. If you can have 3 to 4 stock pots ready to go, you can steam 45 to 60 tamales at the same time.

Once the tamales are finished steaming, remove from heat, place in the aluminum trays (be sure to mark the different types of tamales – beef, chicken, veg) and allow to cool for about 15 minutes. When you are ready to eat, unwrap the tamale from the tamale husk and dig in!!!

STAND TAMALES UP AND PACK THEM IN. STEAM FOR 90 MINUTES

STAND TAMALES UP AND PACK THEM IN – STEAM FOR 90 MINUTES

When you are ready to divide them up, we find that large freezer type Ziplock bags work best. The tamales will keep in your refrigerator for about a week or you can freeze them. To re-heat, simply microwave them for a few minutes or re-steam for about 10 to 15 minutes until warmed through.

TAKE YOUR PICK...

TAKE YOUR PICK…

Tamales really are easy to make. Even if you have a few that don’t turn out or make a mistake, you will get the hang of it and feel like a pro by the end of the day. I can’t wait for next year – we all have some new and fun ideas for the fillings. Happy Cinco de Mayo!

EVERYONE GOES HOME WITH TAMALES

EVERYONE GOES HOME WITH TAMALES