Are you sensing a theme, here? It’s hot. Not that I’m complaining… yet. But I also welcome any recipe that allows me to put a delicious meal on the table without heating up the kitchen too much. Enter soba noodle salad.
Note: This is one of a series of guest posts I’ll be hosting over the next few weeks to spice up Cocktail Thursday. Today’s guest is Lee Stokes Hilton of Spoon and Ink, who is a fellow AFBAer and a former Wall Streeter-turned-writer and kitchen goddess. As a recovering lawyer, I immediately knew I had found a kindred spirit! Read on for an amazing sangria recipe, and be sure to check out her blog too — not only does she share delicious, entertaining-friendly recipes, but she also sprinkles in some personal wisdom here and there.
In the heat of the summer, nothing is quite so refreshing as sangria. But as much as I enjoy the traditional stuff, it can sometimes feel a little heavy for daytime drinking. (We all enjoy a little daytime drinking, don’t we?) So this recipe for white sangria is the perfect solution: cool, crisp, and light.
I love serving this to a brunch or a ladies’ lunch. It adds just the right touch of sophistication. And we recently served up gallons of it at a neighborhood cocktail party, where it was a huge hit. If you’re serving a large crowd, it’s sometimes easier to make batches of the wine and fruit – which you can do a day ahead – then add ¼ cup (2 ounces) of sparkling water directly to each glass. That way, the carbonation doesn’t disappear before you serve it.
As for the wine to use, I prefer either a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc or a Pinot Grigio, both of which have nice fruity notes that go well with the pears, kiwis, and grapes.
Enchiladas around our house are usually a weekend project. I do love me some chard enchiladas, but they do tend to be more time-intensive. The other night, though, I wanted enchiladas, and I didn’t want to spend a lot of time. Enter weeknight enchiladas.
Oh yeah, you can totally pull off enchiladas on a weeknight. You just have to be choosy with your ingredients. These are simple cheese enchiladas (studded with black olives for extra fun) smothered in a flavorful red sauce.*
*Excuse the photo quality. These are the leftovers (which Nora and I were lucky enough to enjoy for lunch the next day), since I originally deemed this meal not “blog-worthy.” Then the hubby convinced me otherwise, and I’m glad he did, since it’s a handy little recipe.
Is it better if you make your own sauce? Absolutely. Do you have to? Not if you’re short on time and have access to good pre-prepared enchilada sauce. The only ones I’ve found that passes the taste test are Frontera‘s line of enchilada sauces. They come in a pouch rather than a can, and both the red chile and the green chile varieties are delicious — and, most importantly, don’t taste canned. (No, I was not compensated for saying that — I just like their stuff.)
You can pull these enchiladas off, start to finish, in 30 minutes. Can’t beat that! Serve them with a dollop of sour cream on top, plus refried beans and rice on the side. I like to jazz up plain brown rice with a can of green chiles and tomatoes (drained) and a bit of tomato paste. Enjoy!
8 oz colby jack cheese (can substitute cheddar or jack cheese)
10 corn tortillas
1 pouch Frontera red enchilada sauce
1 small can sliced black olives (optional)
olive oil for spraying
sour cream for serving
Preheat the oven to 400°. Shred the cheese and set aside about ¼ to ½ cup for topping the enchiladas.
Spray an enchilada pan with oil and keep it handy. Heat a griddle or a large skillet over medium-high heat. Spray or brush the first tortilla on one side and place, oiled side down, on the griddle. Spray or brush the other side, while heating, and then flip. Remove from the heat and place in the enchilada pan.
Working while the tortilla is still hot (but cool enough to handle), fill the center of the tortilla with cheese and roll it up. Place it seam side down in the enchilada pan, and repeat the process with the remaining tortillas.
When the pan is full, spread the sauce over the enchiladas and sprinkle with black olives and the reserved cheese. Bake for 15 minutes, or until warm and bubbly. Serve topped with sour cream.
Note: This is one of a series of guest posts I’ll be hosting over the next few weeks to spice up Cocktail Thursday. Today’s guest is a friend of mine, as well as a fellow mama and lover of spirits. (Do those two go hand in hand? Maybe. Or perhaps it is purely coincidental.) She may be a lover of wine first, but this lady knows her way around a bottle of gin, too, so I was excited when she agreed to do a guest post for me. Please welcome Alissa Leenher of SAHMmelier, and read on for a summer gin cooler perfect for sipping on the porch. Check out her site, too — it is one of my favorite reads, with everything from wine reviews to musings on motherhood. Cheers!
After the nicest spring that I can remember in my 18 years in Austin, summer is here. We actually made it to June without hitting the century mark (which is a little surprising), but now it’s time to lighten the wardrobe — and the cocktails.
One of my favorite summer sippers is as easy as throwing on your favorite sundress. Made with a locally distilled spirit and Elderflower liqueur, this cocktail is the perfect antidote to the Texas heat.
I originally fell for this gin from Bone Spirits in Smithville, Texas when making the grapefruit martini Lauren shared a few months ago. I think we are on our third bottle since I discovered it. It’s clean, herbaceous, with notes of citrus and juniper. I love it, and I love supporting local distilleries.
We’ve had a rainy spring around here. While that’s lovely — and has resulted in a very happy, thriving garden — it has also led to what I am pretty sure is early blight on my tomato plants.
I was pleased as punch when the early tomatoes started rolling in — and they are beautiful and still coming — but the bushes themselves are not doing well. Leaves and branches started yellowing and dying, even as the tomatoes were still growing and thriving.
That’s when I pulled out my gardening books and realized that the moist soil resulting from our wet spring had probably led to a fungus, AKA early blight. Bummer. We removed the affected branches (as well as any leaves and branches within a foot of the soil) and have sprayed with an organic fungicide several times, but I’m not sure if it will be enough. Since I’ve never dealt with this before — years of gardening in California have made me soft, apparently — I waited until too late to start to treat it. Hopefully we’ll be able to save some of the plants, but I don’t know. Only time will tell.
Any tricks out there (above and beyond fungicide and trimming) from experienced gardeners? I’m all ears. Otherwise there will be no tomato canning this summer, and that just makes me sad.
I love halloumi. It’s one of the reasons (besides fresh grilled corn on the cob) that I’m happiest when summer grilling season rolls around. For the uninitiated, halloumi is a “grilling cheese” from Cyprus. It has a high melting point, so it can be grilled or fried… and it can also be pretty hard to track down. I have to trek to Whole Foods or Central Market to get my hands on it, but it’s definitely worth it, because this salty, delicious cheese is the bomb diggity. Even Nora agreed (after I broke it into smaller pieces for her).
Halloumi is the perfect vegetarian protein to add to veggie kebabs. That’s exactly what we did this evening, when the hubby fired up the grill and skewered a little bit of everything that showed up in our CSA box this week* — squash, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, sweet peppers, onions and potatoes — along with chunks of halloumi. I also picked up some delicious bi-color sweet corn on the cob this morning, so on the grill it went, too.
* BTW, I love this time of year, because after a long, rather boring spell, our CSA boxes are getting interesting again. There are plenty of early-season tomatoes, and I heard there might be watermelon soon!
It was a delicious dinner, and we all chowed down. Nora might have eschewed the summer squash and zucchini, but at least she tried them… and she downed the corn on the cob like a beast.
Kebabs don’t really lend themselves to recipes, so I don’t have one, but if you want to give it a spin, here’s what you can do: Fire up the grill, cut the summer veggies you have on hand into bite-sized chunks, toss them with some olive oil and skewer them with some good chunks of halloumi, and grill them to perfect. Done and done. Enjoy!
Note: This is one of a series of guest posts I’ll be hosting over the next few weeks to spice up Cocktail Thursday. Today’s guest promised a creative margarita, and boy does she deliver! My mouth is watering just thinking about the spicy-sweet goodness of these babies. Please welcome Emily Teachout of A Time to Kale, and read on for a margarita recipe I just can’t wait to try out. Hop on over and check out her site, too — it has tons of great healthy recipes and restaurant reviews for your perusing pleasure. Emily is also a regular contributor for Endless Simmer, and you can follow her on Twitter (@emilyteachout). Cheers!
No fruit screams “summertime!” like watermelon. To me, it’s the highlight of every picnic, barbecue, and cookout — sweet, refreshing, and such a cheerful color! I’ve loved it ever since childhood, but as an adult, watermelon holds yet another perk: it’s so easy to combine with booze!
Watermelon’s texture is perfect for a frozen drink, and of course the ultimate frozen drink is the margarita… basically they were meant to be together. You really don’t need more than watermelon, tequila, limes, and maybe a bit of extra sweetener to make a good marg, but I like to make things a bit more interesting by adding a kick. I’ve had really interesting spicy cocktails in the past, but sometimes people can take it overboard by adding too much habanero, jalapeno, etc. You want a good balance of fruity and spicy, not an overwhelming tongue-searer.
That’s why I went with chipotle instead of one of the aforementioned peppers – it’s slightly smoky and sweet and works well with the watermelon and lime. It still packs a good amount of punch, so don’t get overzealous. I recommend starting with two teaspoons for the whole batch, then adding more bit by bit if you’re craving more of a punch.
I had planned on making a batch of these bad boys in the blender, like any good frozen marg, but disaster struck when my blender died on me during the creation of this recipe! I had to go with Plan B: using an immersion blender and serving the drinks over ice. Sigh. Luckily, there’s a silver lining: the frothy watermelon mixture looks gorgeous served over crushed ice. I included both “methods” in the recipe below.
½ small or “personal” watermelon, cut into small chunks
fresh juice of 2 limes
6oz silver tequila
2 tsp chipotle sauce (from a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce)
agave nectar (as much as you like!)
With a blender:
Now, if you’re a fancy, highfalutin person with a working blender, you can make these margs the way I had originally intended. Combine the watermelon chunks and lime with about a cup of ice in your blender, then pulse until evenly ground together, but before everything is liquefied.
Add your tequila, chipotle, and a healthy squeeze of agave and pulse together a few more times.
Pour into your drinkin’ glass of choice and garnish with a wedge of lime.
Or, if you find yourself in the same desolate situation as I did – no working stand-up blender to be found – feel free to dump all ingredients (sans ice) into a big bowl and work on it segment by segment with your immersion blender. Classy, I know.
Once everything is blended to your liking, pour the cocktail mixture over crushed ice and garnish with a wedge of lime.
Any way you blend it, this unique marg will turn out to be a refreshing yet caliente summer drink!
We live on a rockin’ cul-de-sac.* A little before lunchtime on Memorial Day, people started talking about bringing the grills out front and having a block party, and by 5 pm, it was a reality. There were hot dogs, burgers (including some of my own black bean burgers with goat cheese), sausage, gumbo, grilled stuffed jalapeños and all kinds of delicious desserts and sides. The hubby made some delicious cole slaw (more on that recipe later) and, for my contribution, I decided to make cupcakes.
*Yes, I am old. I totally just wrote that sentence.
Well, actually I decided to make lemon bars first, but then I decided I wanted something a little simpler. I had pinned a recipe for Busy-Day Chocolate Cake awhile back, and, lacking an appropriately sized pan, I decided to make it into cupcakes instead. And of course I had to tweak the frosting, because I didn’t have enough eggs. Spoiler alert: The new frosting is awesome, uber-simple and contains ingredients you almost certainly have in your pantry (and no eggs).
These are seriously so quick and easy that they’ll be my go-to dessert for potlucks from here on out (unless I have extra time on my hands). There were certainly no complaints about the taste, either — this dozen was gobbled up in no time!
I had best intentions to pipe the frosting on and make my cupcakes pretty — I even found a great tutorial — but, alas, I didn’t have the right tip for the job. An offset spatula did the trick just fine, though. I’ll have to make a trip to Michael’s and try again soon. An artistic baker I am not, but I try!
Remember how I spent last summer on the quest for the perfect black bean burger? Well, I decided to play around with my recipe again a little bit, now that grilling weather is here again. Of course, I didn’t want to re-make the old one, since I still love it just the way it is, but I wanted to put a new spin on it, and add some different flavors. How about green chiles and goat cheese? Answer: Yes, please!
Excuse the paper plate photo, as I took my first batch to a neighborhood barbecue as a vegetarian entree. We are still working our way through the rest of the batch, saved in the freezer, and they have been a hit with the whole family! The cook up a little better if they’re been frozen first, so plan a little extra time for that, if you can.
I just finished re-reading one of my favorite books, The Great Gatsby. Of course, everyone is excited about because there’s a new movie out (and, yes, I am planning to see it at my earliest opportunity), but I just love being transported back to the world of the Roaring 20s. And it’s just a fantastic piece of literature. But today, I’m talking about it from a purely nostalgic point of view (that is, if one can be nostalgic for a time period in which one was never actually alive).
If you’d like to get in character and pretend you’re partying on Jay Gatsby’s lawn, you’re in luck — that is, at least if you’re in Austin (or one of the other cities with a Sullivan’s*). Sullivan’s is hosting a Gatsby Gala tomorrow evening, complete with dining, dancing and 20s-era cocktails and dishes. Guests are encouraged to come in full 1920s style and enjoy some delicious food, including a few vegetarian options, like deviled eggs and oysters (yes, I think oysters are arguably vegetarian).
And the cocktails — Oh, the cocktails! You all know I’m a sucker for classic cocktails, and they’ll have a few delicious-sounding ones on tap for the gala. I’m pleased to share the recipes with you, courtesy of Sullivan’s. Cheers!
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!