Monthly Archives: March 2014

Cheers To Spring! DIY Cocktail Infusions

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Here’s my latest post featured on Emmy nominated TV host and author Robyn Moreno’s website. Make these infusions now, and they’ll be ready to enjoy when our long-awaited spring finally arrives.

So spring is right around the corner (March 21) and no better way to ring in the (hopefully) warm weather than with some cocktails!

Elizabeth Starnes of Elizabeth Palmer Kitchen shows us easy ways to infuse our own spirits!

These recipes all make two large mason jars worth of infusions, and one mason jar of the strained, finished product. Let your infusions steep in a dark cool place for at least one week, and up to two. Strain your infusion through a fine strainer lined with a cloth napkin, and keep your finished product in a cool place out of direct sunlight. These recipes are only a suggestion- feel free to get creative and use whatever flavors or ingredients you love.

Lemongrass Blood Orange Vodka: Three blood oranges, zested and juiced, and two stalks of lemon grass, bashed up a bit.  Add to the jars and fill to the brim with vodka. Goes great with blood orange juice, a squeeze of lime, topped up with tonic.

Peach Basil Vodka: Four organic peaches, unpeeled, sliced into wedges and pits removed, and ten basil leaves. Add to the jars and fill to the brim with vodka. This tastes delicious over ice with a bit of fresh peach purée and a splash of club soda.

Cucumber Lime Gin: Three limes, zested and juiced, one organic cucumber, sliced thinly, skin on. Add to the jars and fill to the brim with gin. This is perfect in a gin and tonic; just add a bit more lime on top for extra tang.

Black Tea Lemon Vodka: Six black tea bags, the zest and juice of six lemons.  Add to the jars and fill to the brim with vodka. This lends itself perfectly to a spiked iced tea, or a boozy Arnold Palmer. I like it with black iced tea, a squeeze of lime, and topped up with ginger ale.

Pineapple Ginger Jalapeno Tequila: One pound pineapple, cubed, one jalapeño, sliced and de-seeded, and one inch long chunk of ginger, peeled and chopped. Add all to the jars and fill to the brim with tequila. You can make this spicy by leaving the seeds in the jalapeño, but be careful, they’re strong! Use this to make the ultimate margarita, on the rocks with a salted rim and a wedge of lime.

Grapefruit Lime Gin: Four grapefruits, zested and juiced, and four limes, zested and juiced. Add all to the jars and fill to the brim with gin. I tailored this infusion specifically for my favorite summer cocktail, the Salty Dog. Usually made with vodka, a salty dog is a mixture of grapefruit juice, alcohol, and a bit of lime. Made with gin, it’s actually called a Greyhound, but that’s beside the point. I think the gin adds a depth of flavor to the grapefruit. Just combine your grapefruit gin infusion, a splash of fresh grapefruit juice, and a wedge of lime, topping it up with tonic if you want some fizz.

View the post on Robyn’s site, and check out her other recipes, tips, and lifestyle advice.

Maple Glazed Salmon with Wild Mushrooms

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Geographically the second largest country in the world, Canada’s cuisine varies greatly from coast to coast. Spanning the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans, and drawing inspiration from First Nations, England, France, Scotland, and Asian roots, pinning down one Canadian dish is no easy feat. Wild salmon, available from coast to coast, emerges as a natural choice, and a healthy one. Packed with heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids, and boasting plenty of high quality protein, wild salmon easily upholds its reputation as a health benefit powerhouse. Wild mushrooms flourish in many regions of Canada, and offer ample amounts of vitamin D, B vitamins, and a variety of antioxidants and minerals that boost your immune system and strengthen your body’s defense against disease. Maple syrup, possibly the most famous Canadian ingredient, also offers antioxidants that can help prevent disease, and strengthen your body from the inside out. The maple syrup caramelizes beautifully on the salmon, bringing out its natural sweetness. Getting this delicious and healthy meal to the table is a breeze, going from stove to table in around 30 minutes.

For the recipe, visit GeoBlue’s Healthy Travel Blog, or Travel Well Worldwide.

Sushi Rolls with Cauliflower Rice {gluten-free & vegan}

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Making sushi rolls at home is easier than you think, and making them with this cauliflower rice saves you both time and empty calories. You avoid boiling up a big pot of rice, and won’t miss it in the slightest. Customize these with whatever fillings you like- feel free to get creative! This recipe lends itself to improvisation; ideal for using up the stray veggies hanging around your kitchen.

If you’re not vegan, don’t hesitate to incorporate your favorite fish (raw or otherwise). For a new twist on dinner, set out all the ingredients and allow everyone to create their own flavor combinations, so everyone gets exactly what they want. These rolls also keep well in the fridge, making them perfect for an easy, no mess lunch to bring to work.

Makes 8 rolls         Total Time: 30 minutes

 Ingredients:

Cauliflower Rice:

  • 1 head cauliflower, trimmed of green leaves, and roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Rolls (you can use as many or as few fillings as you like- feel free to get creative)

  • 8 sheets of nori (seaweed paper available at most grocery stores)
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced thinly
  • 1 carrot, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 1 Persian cucumber, thinly sliced
  • ½ cooked sweet potato
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and thinly sliced
  • Your favorite vegan protein (seitan, tempeh, tofu- whatever you like!)

To Serve:

  • Tamari or soy sauce mixed with a splash of sesame oil, to taste
  • Wasabi
  • Pickled ginger
  • Sesame seeds

Directions:

1.    In a food processor, blitz together the cauliflower, sesame oil, vinegar, and a bit of salt and pepper. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and blitz again until everything is smooth and finely minced.

2.    To make a roll, place one nori sheet on top of a sushi-rolling mat. Spoon about 1/2 to 3/4 cups of your cauliflower rice on the nori and spread it into a rectangle on the half of the nori closest to you.

3.    Place your fillings on top of the cauliflower, focusing on the bottom half and being careful not to overfill the roll. Put a little rice vinegar or water into a small bowl and place near your rolling mat.

4.    Use the end of your sushi mat to roll up the sheet with everything inside, starting with the side with the fillings and working towards the bare nori at the other end.

5.    When you’ve almost reached the end of the nori, use your finger to lightly brush it with water or vinegar to seal the edge of the roll. Press the roll in your sushi mat tightly to ensure everything stays put.

6.    Remove the mat, and slice your roll using a serrated knife into bite size pieces.

7.    Finish the remainder of your roll, top with a few sesame seeds if you like, and enjoy!

For the full recipe, visit Devil Gourmet. 

NYC’s Betony & Olive Oil Blood Orange Cake Recipe {its vegan!}

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Last Friday night I had the most flawless meal at Betony in NYC.

Executive chef Bryce Shuman, formerly of  Eleven Madison Park, oversees a diverse yet well curated menu, featuring smaller plates perfect for mixing and matching. The ten or eleven (I lost count!) perfect courses we shared merit a post of their own, but the desserts really stood out to me. Creative and unusual in the best way, the two desserts we enjoyed leaned pleasantly towards the savory side.

Tart honey crisp apple, herbal thyme, and sharp shaved cheddar come together beautifully with a little sweetness from flash frozen vanilla crème anglaise, overshadowing all the syrupy sweet apple desserts I’ve ever had. And an olive oil cake, accompanied by bergamot infused ice cream and a dark chocolate drizzle, stole the show; the moist olive oil cake perfectly balanced by the tang of the bergamot and the depth of the chocolate.

Inspired by these desserts, I set out to make my own olive oil cake. Pared with blood orange, dramatically dark red and currently in season, the olive oil flavor really shines. Not overly sweet, you can just as easily enjoy this cake plain as a mid-morning snack as you can with chocolate and a swathe of crème anglaise for an epic end to any meal.  The recipe for this cake is vegan, but I’ve noted non-vegan swaps if you prefer. Either way this is a recipe you won’t want to miss.

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Olive Oil & Blood Orange Cake 

Ingredients:

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup Earth Balance (or butter)
  • 2 tablespoons blood orange zest
  • 4 tablespoons Vegenaise (or 3 eggs)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ¾ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • ½ cup almond milk (or your favorite milk)

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 5 inch pan liberally with your cooking spray.
  2. In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the sugar, Earth Balance, and zest for 5 minutes until light and fluffy.
  3. One at a time, add each tablespoon of Vegenaise (or your eggs), beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla extract, scrape down the sides of your bowl, and beat together until well combined. Your batter might look slightly curdled at this point, don’t worry!
  4. Combine your remaining dry ingredients in one bowl, and your remaining wet ingredients in another bowl, and with your mixer running on low, add the dry and wet ingredients, alternating between the two, and ending with the dry ingredients.
  5. Pour your batter into your prepared pan, and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Let the cake cool for a few minutes, then flip it out of the pan, and enjoy!

To Serve: Cut the rind off of 1 blood orange, and cut out the segments to serve with the cake. This cake also pairs beautifully with dark chocolate, melted and drizzled or otherwise.

To view the full article, visit Devil Gourmet.

Chocolate Guinness Cake

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This cake is ridiculously good. Whenever I ask someone what they want me to bring for dessert, this is usually the answer. While it has Guinness beer in it, the cake doesn’t taste like beer, exactly. Rather the beer gives the chocolate a boost, making the whole cake taste intensely chocolaty, damp, rich, and satisfying. The cream cheese frosting sets off this chocolaty richness perfectly. Tangy and not too sweet, it also tops off the cake and makes the whole thing look like a pint of Guinness. If all that doesn’t convince you, consider this: Guinness cake comes together in a flash, using only one pan on the stove top, and only the laziest of stirring. Perfect for all your St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. Enjoy!

For the Cake:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Guinness
  • 10 tablespoons salted butter
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup sour cream (can use low-fat)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

Directions:

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F, and line a 9 inch spring form pan with parchment paper, buttering the bottom and sides.
  • In a saucepan over medium heat, heat the beer and the butter until the butter has melted.
  • Off the heat, whisk in the sugar and cocoa powder. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sour cream, eggs, and vanilla and add this slowly to the beer mixture. Whisk constantly to avoid scrambling your eggs. Finally, whisk in the flour and baking soda.
  • Pour the batter into your prepared pan, and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, then allow to cool. Once completely cooled, frost with the cream cheese frosting. Or eat it warm, unadorned, straight from the pan- delicious too!

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Directions:

  • Beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer (or by hand), then slowly stream in the heavy cream, until you have a consistency you like.The frosting should be very thick. Heap onto the cake so it resembles a tall frothy pint of Guinness.

Recipe inspired by Nigella Lawson’s book Feast. 

Mac Attach Charity Contest- The Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund

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Tonight from 7-10, I’ll be competing in the final round of Mac Attack’s March Madness, benefiting a variety of charities. I’m competing for the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, and if I win (fingers crossed!) Mac Attach will donate $1000 to the fund. It’s a cause near and dear to my heart, and if you’re in the area I’d love your support. Stop by, enjoy a bunch of free mac & cheese, and support some fantastic charities; its a win win for everyone. Anything you’d like to purchase from Mac Attach is discounted 10% with your vote. Hope to see you there!

If you’d like to know more about the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, you can visit their site. They are currently raising money to fulfill Nelson Mandela’s last wish; to build a children’s hospital in Johannesburg to serve all children of southern Africa regardless of race, socioeconomic status or ability to pay.  The Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital (NMCH) will be Mr. Mandela’s legacy and live by his creed that “a society’s soul is revealed by how it treats its children.”

Mac Attack is located on Walnut Street in Montclair, NJ.

MindBodyGreen Recipe: A Vegan “Tuna Salad” Sandwich

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Tuna salad is a ubiquitous lunch option, usually sandwiched between two soggy pieces of bread, or scooped on top of some wilted lettuce. This no-fish recipe turns tuna salad on its head, giving you the same great zingy taste you’d expect from your old school favorite, without any of the mercury issues found in most of our canned tuna supply. Almonds and sunflower seeds provide a surprising stand-in for tuna here, and supply plenty of mercury- and hormone-free protein and vitamin E. You’ll also avoid wayward stares when you take out your non-fishy-smelling sandwich at lunchtime. Enjoy!

To view the recipe, visit MindBodyGreen.

Adapted from a recipe by Kris Carr.

Absinthe Elixir Cocktail

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Happy Friday! Here’s the second cocktail in a series showcasing jewelry by HSN favorite, jewelry designer Heidi Daus. Absinthe gives this drink an unexpected kick, and a gorgeous green color that’ll brighten up these last few gray days of winter. Formerly difficult to find, Absinthe has seen a popularity resurgence, and you can now find the toned down version at most liquor stores.

Ingredients:

  • ½ oz Absinthe
  • 1 oz. clear tequila
  • 1 oz. Rose’s Lime Juice Concentrate
  • Club soda or seltzer (optional)
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary or thyme (optional- to serve)

Directions:

  1. In shaker filled with ice, combine the absinthe, tequila, and lime juice. Top up your drink with seltzer if desired to turn it into a festive bubbly treat.
  2. Strain into a glass (over fresh ice if desired) and serve with the fresh rosemary sprig if desired, and enjoy!

For the full recipe and more photos, visit Heidi’s website.

Photography by Maryellen Stadtlander, with styling by Allison Burg.

Guatemalan Black Bean & Sweet Potato Tostadas

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Tostadas are a favorite food in Guatemala, best enjoyed in a large group of friends and family. Easy to assemble and endlessly personalizable, these tostadas lend themselves perfectly to entertaining. Usually fried, this recipe keeps the tortillas on the lighter side with a simple brush of heart healthy olive oil before toasting in the oven. The easy swap from refried beans to mashes black beans also lightens this recipe significantly, without sacrificing on flavor. The addition of sweet potatoes gives these tostadas a boost of fiber and vitamin A, which bolsters you eyes, skin, and immune system health. Set out all the fixings for these and let everyone make up their tostadas just the way they like them.

For the recipe, visit Geo Blue’s Healthy Travel Blog, or Travel Well Worldwide.

Black Pepper & Gruyère Gougères

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Cheesy, golden brown, and puffed to perfection, these little wonders will impress your guests and make the perfect pairing for champagne, cocktails, or your favorite wine. Gougères are made out of the classic French pastry pâte à choux, one of the first pastries taught in culinary school. Forgiving enough even for shaky, anxious new culinary students, these gougères come together quickly and easily; they won’t let you down. Elegant and delicious on their own, you can also serve these with charcuterie for a more substantial spread.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 6 oz. Gruyère cheese, finally grated
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 egg, beaten, for egg wash

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, and set it to convection if your oven has that option. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large heavy bottomed sauce pan, heat the water, milk, butter, salt, and pepper over medium high heat. Watch the pan carefully, and bring the milk up to scalding, and turning down the heat just as it boils.
  3. Pour over the flour, and stir everything together with a wooden spoon over low heat. Keep stirring for 2-3 minutes, to dry out the dough and help it absorb the eggs. Turn off the heat.
  4. One at a time, add the eggs, stirring well after each addition, making sure they’re all thoroughly incorporated.
  5. Add the grated cheese, and stir well to combine.
  6. Transfer the dough to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4 or 1/2 inch round tip, or just spoon it into a resealable plastic bag, and snip the corner tip after filling.
  7. Squeeze out the batter onto your prepared baking sheet, forming round balls about an inch to an inch and a half in diameter. Once you’ve piped out all the batter, brush each of the gougères with the egg wash, smoothing down the peak from piping the dough, so you have a nice smooth top.
  8. Bake in your preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until they look puffed and golden brown. Take them out and let them cool a bit before serving. Enjoy!

You can also substitute finely grated cheddar cheese, or Emmenthaler for the Gruyère.

Recipe adapted from Cowgirl Creamery Cooks

You can view the full post on Devil Gourmet.