When it’s hot outside, but you still want a chocolately treat, what’s a girl to do? Fudgcicles would work, sure, but I wanted cookies… So when I ran across this recipe for no-bake chocolate oatmeal cookies, I knew today was the day to try them out.
I made these for a neighborhood potluck, and they were a hit. I personally ate more than a few. Ahem. But they have almond butter, so… protein? Yes.
Note: This is one of a series of guest posts I’ll be hosting over the next few weeks to spice up Cocktail Thursday. With summer knocking on the door, and mint starting to spread like weeds in the garden, it’s only natural to start dreaming of mojitos! Please welcome Kenley Leigh of Green Door Hospitality for a refreshing take on this summer drink. Also, go check out her site — there are lots of delicious veggie-centric recipes and entertaining ideas to get your creative juices flowing for the summer entertaining season.
Nothing says refreshing cocktail for the spring and summer months like a classic mojito. The cool combination of mint and lime makes this drink the perfect companion to a breezy and sunny weekend afternoon. Plus, it is a great way to use all the mint that pops up in our garden. When it starts creeping, prune and make mojitos!
There are a lot of great interpretations and variations to the mojito — ones that bring flavors like strawberry, lemongrass, coconut, and blueberries to the table. However, to me, nothing beats a classic.
1 box brownie mix (I prefer Ghirardelli), plus eggs, oil and water as called for on the box
Preheat the oven to 350°. Cream the butter and sugars in a stand mixer. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined.
Add the flour, baking soda and salt and mix until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.
Prepare the brownie batter according to package directions. Spread in a greased 8 x 8 pan. Top with the cookie dough, dropping clumps of the dough over the batter to cover. You may not use quite all the dough, but that’s what “sampling” is for!
Bake for 20 minutes uncovered, then cover with foil and bake for 20 more minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, until the cookie layer is browned and the brownies are almost set in the middle.
Remove from the oven and let stand until cooled, at least 30 minutes. Cut into squares and serve.
Awhile back, when I was first experimenting with maraschino liqueur (which is now one of my favorite cocktail components), I tried out the classic Aviation cocktail. I was lacking one minor ingredient, though: Crème de Violette, or Crème Yvette. These are both similar (and similarly obscure) floral liqueurs that add just a touch of color and flavor to the cocktail. (Crème Yvette has an additional vanilla note.)
I liked the version without, but I was intrigued, so I went on the hunt for the missing liqueur, and, let’s just say it was hard to track down! I finally succeeded, though, and I’m glad I did.
Not only did the Creme Yvette add the perfect tinge of purplish-blue, so that the drink actually resembles a cloudless sky (hence the name), it also added a little depth of flavor. The addition of just the slightest floral note really completes the drink. Sure, the Aviation tastes just fine without it, but I’m glad I tried it this way, too. And, since I have a bottle of Crème Yvette now, I may as well use it! Check out my original post for the recipe for the Aviation, both with and without Crème Yvette/Crème de Violette.
Now I just need to find some other cocktails to experiment with that showcase my new liqueur!
Since we’ve had a long, (relatively) cool spring, my kale plants are still flourishing. I’m staving off bolting for as long as I can, but I can see that it’ll happen soon… so I’m enjoying lots and lots of kale now, while I can.
A friend clued me in to her favorite, super-simple way to prepare kale not long ago, and it has become a staple side dish around our house. You toss your kale with olive oil, salt and pepper, roast it, and top it off with a squeeze of lemon.
It’s so simple and so good!
Also on my list to try soon are kale pesto and green smoothies (I’m finally getting a Vitamix — look out!).
When I first posted about fleur de sel chocolate chip cookies, a number of you asked where you could place your order. Well, now I have an actual answer, and it’s for a great cause!
You may have heard (and if you live in Texas, you’ve certainly heard) about the fertilizer plant explosion that rocked West (comma) Texas last month. People lost their homes, their livelihoods, their pets and some (mostly first responders) sadly lost their lives. West has a special place in my heart. I’ve driven through this little town many, many times on the way to or from home in DFW and college in Austin, or between home in Austin and visiting in-laws and friends in DFW, and I always loved stopping for a kolache (cream cheese, please!) at the Czech Stop. It may not even be the best Czech bakery in town (West has a huge Czech population), but it sure is good, and it’s definitely convenient. One of my law school roommates, Amy, is from West, and I attended her wedding there a decade ago.* It’s a wonderful, friendly, tight-knit community, and it has been unimaginably devastated by the explosion.
*Sidenote: I am getting old.
We were just there, at the Czech Stop, on our way through last weekend. We stopped and got a half-dozen kolaches (please don’t ask how may of those I personally ate) for the road. We stood in a long line (much longer than usual) with various passers-through like us, as well as some firefighters from as far away as Calgary who were in town for the funerals, which had been held the previous day. It felt good to do a little something, to inject even a little money into this town’s struggling economy.
Now I can do a little bit more, and you can too. As we speak, I have a couple dozen fleur de sel chocolate chip cookies baking, and they’ll soon be on their way to a bake sale site.
Austin Bakes for West is a city-wide bake sale benefiting recovery efforts in West. Please check the poster above for the site nearest you and come out and buy some cookies to help the folks of West out. And if fleur de sel chocolate chip cookies aren’t your thing (who ARE you?!), I won’t take it personally if you buy some of the plethora of delectable baked goods on offer from other area bloggers and bakers instead.
So, please come. And if you’re not in Austin, you can donate directly to Americare‘s relief efforts in West. Let’s help West get back on its feet!
Note: This is the first of a series of guest posts I’ll be hosting over the next few weeks to spice up Cocktail Thursday. Although many people’s minds are turning to margaritas with Cinco de Mayo coming up, it’s almost time for another big drinking day — the Kentucky Derby! I do love a good mint julep, so when Veronica Meewes of My Well-Fed Life (and my fellow AFBA member) offered to do a piece on the julep (so very intertwined with the Derby), I thought it was a fabulous idea. Read on for some great local spots (for the Austinites) and a couple of delicious recipes to make your own julep to sip while you watch the derby.Drink.well also happens to be one of my favorite local spots, so I’m pleased as punch to have the secrets behind a couple of their inventive twists on the julep.So, without further ado, may I introduce you to the lovely and talented Veronica Meewes?
Pineapple Julep ~ photo courtesy of drink.well
I’ve always been captivated by the Kentucky Derby. An excuse to dress up, wear big hats, bet on horses with tongue-in-cheek names, and drink boozy, refreshing drinks? Umm.. yes, please! You can bet my dress is already picked out with a hat to match for this weekend’s race.
But I’ve always wondered where the tradition of drinking mint juleps came from. The combination of bourbon, mint, sugar, and water is so ingrained in Derby culture, it’s nearly impossible to hear the word “julep” and not think of the races! The word “julep” itself is derived from the Persian word for rose water, but according to Wikipedia, “the origins of the mint julep are clouded and may never be definitely known.” But the first American julep sightings occurred in the late eighteenth century after Senator Henry Clay of Kentucky brought the beverage into popularity.
Now, in the course of two days each year, around 120,000 juleps are served at Churchill Downs in Louisville during the Kentucky Derby. And did you know they also sell ultra-premium mint juleps for $1,000 each?? Served in gold-plated cups with silver straws, these high rollers’ cocktails are made with Woodford Reserve bourbon, mint imported from Ireland, spring water ice cubes from the Bavarian Alps, and sugar from Australia. (The proceeds are used to support organizations dedicated to retired horses.)
Thirsty yet? Here are a couple places hosting Derby parties this Saturday, May 4th in Austin. Want to host your own? Scroll down for a several delicious julep variations from the mixologists of drink.well!
Maybe you didn’t even know there was a polo club in Austin? I sure didn’t! But this is the third year of this annual event, where you can watch two live polo matches before the Derby begins at 5:40pm. General admission is $20, while VIP runs $50-75 (how VIP are you??) Proceeds benefit the Texas Canine and Horse Rescue and the horses of the Longhorn and Aggie polo clubs.
Prize baskets will be given out for best dressed and best hat while bartenders pour juleps in flavors like ginger and blackberry, or a sweet tea collins, if you prefer! Enjoy a hot brown sandwich while they screen The Run for the Roses before the races start.
If you’re in it for the drinks, this is where you need to be (I’ll be here!) The award-winning staff will be dressed to the nines and shaking up creative cocktails as usual, such as pineapple and baker’s rack juleps (recipes below), Jabronis (a hybrid julep/Negroni), and Seelbachs, an aperitif named after the Louisville hotel where it was created.
Ah, yes. Another clean-out-the-fridge meal. I like to use spinach quickly, since it’s so nice when it’s fresh, and radishes always stump me. Did I make a salad, you ask? Nah. I made dal.
The lentils, along with onions, spinach, radishes (yes, cooked — they add a little spiciness) and seasonings, served with brown rice, made a complete meal. I know cooking radishes sounds a little weird, but they really do pair well with Indian spices, and in some parts of India, radishes are cooked traditionally, often in dal.
Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan and add the lentils. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook, partially covered, until tender, 25-35 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt the ghee over medium-high heat and saute the onions until softened and translucent. Turn the heat down to medium and continue to stir until they are light golden brown.
Stir the turmeric, cumin, cayenne and 1 tsp salt in the with the onions. Add the radishes and the spinach, working in batches and adding more as the spinach wilts.
When the spinach is wilted but still bright green and the lentils are cooked, add the onion mixture to the lentil mixture and cook for a few additional minutes. Taste for seasoning and adjust. Serve with rice and enjoy!
Not long ago, a friend sent me a clipping from the Austin American-Statesman. In her column Food Matters, Addie Broyles had tracked down the recipe for El Monumento’s swiss chard and sweet potato enchiladas. I knew at first look that this was a recipe I needed to try, but I also knew I’d need to have some time on my hands when I did it.
Last weekend, I had some time. My mom was over to visit, and she chased after Nora while the hubby worked on the finishing touches (finally!) to the paint in our entryway and I puttered around in the kitchen.
This was a very different, healthy-but-not-healthy-tasting enchilada. My balsamic reduction was pretty ugly — I should have let it reduce past half to a more syrup-y consistency, but, lesson learned. It still tasted good! Next time I would strain the sauce, too, as the recipe provides, to give it a smoother texture.
We all ate the enchiladas up, served with refried black beans (homemade by the hubby) and brown rice on the side. What a delicious way to get your veggies!
2 Tbsp canola oil, divided, plus more for brushing tortillas
1 onion, chopped
2 guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed with the flat side of a chef’s knife
1 cup chopped walnuts
½ cup dry white wine
1½ cups heavy cream
½ cup balsamic vinegar
8 corn tortillas
Salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 350°. Toss the sweet potatoes with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast in a roasting pan until tender, 20-25 minutes, stirring a couple of times to ensure even browning.
Heat 1 Tbsp canola oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the chard and sauté until slightly wilted, then add the sweet potatoes and stir until the chard is tender. Season with salt and pepper to finish. Set aside.
Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbsp canola oil over medium-high heat in a sauté pan. Sauté the onions, garlic and chiles until the onions are softened and translucent, then reduce the heat and continue cooking until the onions are caramelized.
Add the walnuts and sauté until lightly toasted. Deglaze the pan with the white wine, then add the cream and simmer to reduce by one third.
Let the mixture cool slightly, and then puree in a blender or food processor. Strain (if desired) and set aside.
While the sauce is simmering, place the balsamic vinegar in a sauce pan, bring to a boil and simmer to reduce by half or more, until the consistency is syrupy and thick. Set aside.
One by one, brush the tortillas with canola oil and heat briefly on each side on a griddle over medium heat.
Fill each tortilla with the sweet potato-chard mixture, roll and place in an enchilada pan. Repeat for remaining servings.
Ladle the walnut cream sauce over the enchiladas and drizzle with reduced balsamic vinegar.
Warm to serving temperature, a few minutes in the oven. Serve with beans and rice.
Not long ago, I had the ladies from my running club over for a mamas’ night out. We all needed a drink. Husbands have been traveling, working long hours and otherwise not around as much as we would like, but the stars aligned and most of us made it out that evening. We kicked it on my back patio with some potluck goodies, wine and a nice pitcher of lemon-thyme Pimm’s coolers.
This was the perfect drink for a warm spring evening enjoyed out on the patio with friends.
For the non-alcoholic version (a lemon-thyme spritzer), go check out my post on LiveMom, which features that recipe plus a couple of other non-boozy tipples. For the real deal, read on.
I’m a recovering lawyer-turned-freelance writer and editor, aspiring domestic goddess, and mom to a spunky, demanding and truly awesome 2-year-old girl. I love all things food and drink, and I’ve rediscovered a love for cooking now that I’m not spending most of my days locked in the office, but I often have to improvise, since having the ankle-biter around makes it more challenging!