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Monday, December 31, 2012

12 "Would-Be" Blog Posts of 2012

So.  I contemplated sharing my top 12 posts from this year, but instead, I thought I'd dust off some of the pix patiently waiting either in "draft" form of a blog post (some since January) or in a folder on my computer.  I have a ridiculous amount.  These are just some of my favorites.  Most of which probably won't get blogged about now.  There are a few that I still have plans for, though... I'm gonna make them happen one way or another.  But just in case, they all deserve at least a nod...

1. First up is this sandwich.  It was friggin' amazing.  But, I am a huge lover of meatloaf sandwiches, so why the heck wouldn't it be?  I don't know why I never blogged about it.  Time just got away from me.  I have no clue where I wrote down the recipe... surely in one of my notebooks from this year.  If I'm feeling ambitious, perhaps I'll go back and look for it.  What I do remember?  The meatloaf itself was studded with cheese.  Hello!  And it was smothered in a sauce made with Chili Garlic Cholula.  So, imagine it sliced cold and slapped on some white bread with Buttermilk Garlic Mashed Potatoes.  And peas, for good measure.  Wash it all down with a cold beer.  I need one right now.

2. Up next, some Pineapple Fried Rice.  I went through this insane pineapple phase at the beginning of the year.  All I remember is brown rice, colorful veggies, and fresh pineapple.  I think the recipe that inspired it came from Vegetarian Times.  I liked it, but the big shocker was... the hubs LOVED it.  Why a surprise?  Because he (and I quote) "doesn't like his dessert inside of his food".  He considers fruit dessert.  Go figure.

3. Obviously the sun was shining like a mother on the day that I made these Lettuce Cups with Shrimp, Tomato Salad, and Avocado Tzatziki.  I remember being so disappointed with these photos... they had the potential to be so bright and cheery.  I mean, come on, does it get any prettier than those lettuce cups?  And did you catch the words "avocado" and "tzatziki" in the same sentence?  Yeah.  Yum.

4.  There was a week sometime this summer that I wanted frozen margaritas every single day. I went through watermelons, blueberries, mangoes, bananas, strawberries, cherries...and yes, raspberries - and ice - like they were goin' out of style that week.  And more than one bottle of tequila.  I don't remember much else about that week.

5.  I feel kinda horrible that I have yet to post the making of Horchata. Because I totally vowed that I would.  I did post Coconut Horchata this year, but that's not the same thing as the classic cinnamon-tinged rice and almond mixture.  I'm going to go ahead and blame it on the fact that it's impossible to get a good picture of the final product.  It just looks like milk in a glass.  I promise that the very day that I accomplish taking a good picture of Horchata, I'm posting Horchata.

6.  Honest?  This was probably THE BEST turkey that I have ever made.  Ever.  In my entire 37 years on this planet.  The skin was awesomely crispy.  The meat was juicy.  I used a citrus-herb brine AND a fresh turkey.  But good gawd the recipe is long.  As soon as I stop being too lazy to type it up, this one WILL be posted.  Consider this an omen of good things to come.  At the very latest, I'll have it up before you start thinking turkey in 2013.  Saaaaaaayyyyyy.... beginning of November?

7.  I have, basically, a "wash vat" full of photos and stories that I want to tell you about my trip to Ireland.  I'm just having a problem narrowing things down.  For example, I want to tell you all about Jameson.  I'm talking, both the old distillery in Dublin AND the current distillery in Midleton.  And I have cocktails.  This one is also making it to post.  Let me just grab my bottle of Jameson for inspiration...

8.  Oh yeah, also, I was totally hangin' out with a couple of the most famous food peeps in Ireland.  Eating apples right from their trees.  No biggie.

9.  I could eat this Tarragon Chicken once a week for the rest of my life and never tire of it.  Thank you, Nigella.  Yup, still my girl-crush.

10.  This summer was the summer of the popsicle.  Do you remember?  I made ridiculous(ly wonderful) amounts of popsicles, paletas, and ice pops this year.  It's safe to say that, like these Paletas de Sandia (watermelon), they didn't all make it to the blog.  Nor did they all get rolled in Mint-Sugar.  Lucky paletas.

11.  Oh hey, did I mention that not only did I visit a magical little Scottish isle named Islay...and drink lots of whisky...I also became a land-owner?  That's right, this is my flag.  It's nestled snuggly on my little one foot by one foot square of land.  In Scotland.  I think it's about time to go back and collect my rent - a dram of Laphroaig.

12. Speaking of Scotland, I'll close things out with a scene of a ridiculous seafood lunch that I had after touring the Lagavulin distillery.  I cannot tell you enough how much I miss Islay.  From freshly caught lobster, langostine, oysters, crab, scallops, and all sorts of fish to the comforting, peat-laced whisky - I need to win the lottery so that I can make regular trips back.  Like, at least once a year.  Yes.  That sounds reasonable.  And totally blog-worthy.

I hope you enjoyed looking back at twelve of the "posts that never were" from this year.  It was an amazing year.  I took my first flight.  It was trans-Atlantic.  Just sayin'.  And there were other things (but that was a big milestone for me).  How 'bout you?  What photos and posts do you have waiting in the wings...perhaps indefinitely?

Wishing everybody a very safe and a very happy New Year!  See you in 2013!

Roasted Winter Squash w/ Lemon-Tahini Dressing {12 Weeks of Winter Squash}

When it comes to winter squash, I've come to the conclusion that, in general, my favorite way to prepare it is to roast it.  And I like it best unpeeled.  I love the deep, natural sweetness that comes to the surface... the edges turn golden... the skin turns pleasantly chewy... I am entirely happy just eating it like this.

So really, what sets one roasted squash apart from the next roasted squash?  The seasonings, of course.  And the sauce.  Ah yes, the secret's in the sauce.  

In this version, that salt-of-the-earth, sweaty-quality of cumin seeds is the accent.  And throwing in some green onions to roast with the squash near the end.  I actually think that I could triple the quantity of green onions in this recipe and still not have enough.  Keep that in mind if you're a green onion-lover.
And then there's the creamy, tangy drizzle of lemon and tahini that finishes the whole thing off.  You'll definitely want to pass this around and let everybody spoon more of it onto their own plates to swipe bites of squash through on the way to their mouth.

I'm still feeling pretty darn proud of myself for ending this year on such a virtuous note.  I credit that with turning to the exploration of winter squash (instead of holiday sweets...not that I didn't go there...just not as in-depth as I could have).

Roasted Winter Squash w/ Lemon-Tahini Dressing

by Heather Schmitt-González
Prep Time: 10-15 minutes
Cook Time: ~30 minutes
Keywords: roast entree side vegan lemons squash winter fall

Ingredients (serves 6)
  • 1 small kabocha squash, scrubbed & cut into 1"-thick wedges, seeded
  • 1 (~1 lb) delicata squash, scrubbed, cut into 1"-thick rings or slices, seeded
  • ~7 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1½ tsp. cumin seeds, divided
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 scallions, sliced on the bias into 2" pieces
  • 2 Tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 Tbs. tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • crushed red chile flakes
Arrange oven racks into upper and lower thirds of the oven; preheat to 425° F.

Place the prepped kabocha on one baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper. Place the prepped delicata on another. Drizzle about 1½ tablespoons of the oil over each baking sheet and then sprinkle with all but about ¼ teaspoon of the cumin seeds. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss everything around so that all surfaces of the squash get lightly coated in everything. Slide into oven and roast for 15 minutes.

Combine remaining cumin seed, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and scallions in a smal bowl, and season with salt and pepper; toss to coat. Divide scallions evenly over squash and continue to roast until squash is tender (but not mushy), ~15 minutes more.

In the meantime, put the lemon juice, tahini, and remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil into a small jar with a tightly fitting lid. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Screw on lid and shake like crazy until smooth and combined.

Put the squash and onions onto a serving platter and drizzle with the lemon-tahini dressing (as much as you like...hold some back to serve alongside, as well); sprinkle with crushed red chiles.

slightly adapted from Bon Appétit magazine, December 2012
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This is already week #10 of 12 Weeks of Winter Squash!  So, while it is the last one of 2012, we're heading into a new year to finish it out.  Be sure to stop by my co-host Joanne's place to see what she made with winter squash this week, and then share your own creations below.  Wishing everyone a safe and happy New Year!

1. Roasted Squash w/ Lemon-Tahini Dressing

2. {Butternut Squash} and sweet potato salad
Sunday, December 30, 2012

Champagne Punch

Champagne Punch
Over the  years, we've picked up a few different traditions for New Year's.  I don't usually go out on New Year's eve... mainly because I don't like to brave "the crazies".  That probably  means that I'm getting old.  But really, I just love being home surrounded by my family, waiting to watch New Year's Rockin' Eve.

A couple of years ago, we started "the grape tradition".  Have you heard of it?  Each person gets 12 grapes.  When the clock starts to strike 12, you have to start gobbling your grapes.  You need to (at least partially) chew each grape and be done with all of them by the time the final stroke rings out.  It's not as easy as it sounds.  A mixture of giggling and gagging never ceases to ensue.  Especially from my daughter of the extreme-gag-reflex.  But of course, she may be the biggest fan of the tradition!  Each grape signifies a month (in order)... so, if your grapes are particularly sweet or sour, you should watch for particularly good or rocky months (the month corresponds with the number of the grape, as in the first grape you eat = January, etc...).

And then there is New Year's day.  I almost always cook some variation on Hoppin' John.  Since the black-eyed peas and the greens represent good fortune in the new year (coins and dollars), I wouldn't want to invite disaster by not making it... making them.  This year I'm going for a casserole-style variation.  Watch for it in the new year!
Friday, December 28, 2012

Hot Crab Dip

I think I may have burnt myself out a bit going fast and hard for pretty much all of November and the first half of December.  So I've been taking it easy lately.  And let me tell you - it feels good.  I've still been cooking.  And eating (as if that weren't an option).  But I'm getting started on my resolution goal early.  I'm going to force myself to slow down.  If it kills me.

I want to remember what it was like to take time to smell the roses... or taste the crab, if  you will.  How about you?  Do you have any goals set for yourself going into a new year?  I don't like to call them resolutions.  I mean, resolutions seem made to be broken.  I prefer goals.  Goals are attainable.
It may seem little, but along with slowing down the pace (on posting, not on living), I want to eat more appetizers.  Ridiculous?  Perhaps.  But true, nevertheless.  Here's a notch for my belt.  Dips.  I love dips and spreads.  That may just be because I'm a bread-freak.  Dips and spreads are made so that we have an excuse to eat more bread, and for that, I am totally down.

Hot Crab Dip

by Heather Schmitt-González
Prep Time: 10-15 minutes
Cook Time: 45-50 minutes
Keywords: bake appetizer cream cheese crab Christmas Easter New Year Super Bowl Thanksgiving American

Ingredients (~2¼ cups)
  • 12 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • ¼ c. mayonnaise
  • ¼ c. sour cream
  • ½ c. freshly grated Parmesan
  • 6 Tbs. green onions, chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 Tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. Tabasco (or other hot sauce)
  • ¾ tsp. Creole seasoning (like Tony's or Zatarains)
  • 12 oz. lump crabmeat
  • freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 325° F.

Beat together cream cheese, mayonnaise, and sour cream in a medium bowl. Stir in next 7 ingredients until well combined. Fold in the crab, breaking it up as little as possible. Taste and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer to a small casserole dish.

Slide into preheated oven and bake for 45-50 minutes until lightly golden on top.

Serve hot with sliced French bread (or baguette, crackers, chips, toast points, etc.) and a bottle of hot sauce and some lemon wedges on the side for those who want them.

adapted from You've Got to Taste This
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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Desserts in Jars by Shaina Olmanson {cookbook review}

Desserts in Jars: 
50 Sweet Treats that Shine

author: Shaina Olmanson
publisher: Harvard Common Press
photos: yes
hard cover (w/ spiral binding, so pages lay flat - love this feature) : 160 pages

chapters/sections:  Cakes and Cupcakes - Pies and Pastries - Custards and Puddings - Fruit Desserts - Frozen Desserts - Mixes for Giving

fun features:  I hate to state the obvious, but... THE JARS!  The whole concept is just fun.  Be sure to read the introduction, in which Olmanson introduces the concept and shares tips on choosing the correct jars... talks about filling, baking in, freezing, and adorning of the jars.

(a few of the many) recipes destined for my kitchen:  Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes - Caramel Crème Cheesecakes - Almond Poppy Seed Cakes - Lemon Meringue Pies w/ a Thyme Shortbread Crust - Espresso Crème Brûlées - Sweet Corn Panna Cotta w/ Bacon & Blackberry Sauce - Banana Buttermilk Trifles - Sparkling Pomegranate & Orange Jelly Cups - Peach Granita Bellinis - Spiced Hot Chocolate Mix w/ Cinnamon Marshmallows - Campfire Bars Mix

my thoughts/review:  I love this concept.  As a person who has always been attracted to pretty jars, this book is almost a given.  Not only is it full of gorgeous photos and tantalizing recipes, it also makes sense.  Whether making the desserts to serve at a party or get-together, or to give away as gifts, it may be a bit of a novelty, but I don't think it ever really goes out of style.

Not only would the desserts in the book make thoughtful gifts, so would the book itself.  As someone who loves to give handmade gifts, I really enjoyed the last chapter in the book, which is full of various "mixes in jars" ideas.  Another cool thing, you can head over to Shaina's website and print out custom tags for some of the recipes in the book.

Recommended for any foodie, cookbook hoarder, dessert-lover, or crafter in your life.

recipe I have already tried: Orange White Chocolate Cheesecakes w/ Cranberry Sauce

about the author: Shaina Olmanson is the author behind the food blog, Food For My Family.  She is a regular contributor to the blogs Simple Bites and Life Your Way as well as to Babble’s Family Kitchen, and she has served as the editor of the food channel for Lifetime Moms, a digital property of the A&E Networks.  She lives in the Minneapolis–St. Paul area with her husband, Ole, and their four children.

further info:  blog | facebook | twitter

Check out my #DessertsInJars Holiday Party post for more on this great book.

I received a free book from the publisher. All thoughts and opinions stated in this post are 100% my own.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Spiced Persimmon-Bourbon Fizz {a boozy, boozy Christmas}

I hope you're kicked back enjoying your gifts with friends, family, good food, and a glass full of a warming beverage.  Hopefully a cocktail.  You know, if you have nothing to do but enjoy the day anyway, why not!?

If you want something that packs a punch so big you won't need those slippers to warm your toes... so warm and spicy and inviting that you won't need those Christmas decorations... and so filled with bourbon that all the bent boxes and torn-up wrapping paper in the world won't bother you.
Plus, there's persimmons in there.  Bourbon, persimmons, and lots of cozy warming spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, star anise, ginger, and allspice.  Curl up next to the twinkling tree.  Something new and shiny in one hand.  This cocktail in the other.  Enjoy your day!

Spiced Persimmon-Bourbon Fizz

by Heather Schmitt-González
Prep Time: 30-40 minutes (to make the per
Cook Time: 30-40 minutes
Keywords: beverage alcohol persimmons Christmas New Year American winter

Ingredients (1 large or 2 small cocktails)
    for the cocktail
    • 3 oz. bourbon
    • 2 oz. spiced persimmon puree
    • 1 oz. lemon juice
    • ginger ale
    to garnish
    • cinnamon stick
    • freshly grated nutmeg
    • thin slice of persimmon (peel off)
    for the spiced persimmon puree
    • 2 c. water
    • ¾ c. brown sugar
    • 3 fuyu persimmons, roughly chopped
    • 1" piece of cinnamon stick
    • 1 whole star anise
    • big pinch freshly ground nutmeg
    • big pinch ground ginger
    • pinch ground cardamom
    • pinch ground allspice
    • ¼ tsp. vanilla bean paste
    Combine bourbon, spiced persimmon puree, and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker with ice to fill. Shake well and strain into a glass, leaving at least a half an inch of head room. Top off with ginger ale. Garnish with a grating of fresh nutmeg, a thin slice of persimmon, and a cinnamon stick, if desired.

    to make the Spiced Persimmon Puree (yield: ~1⅔ c.):
    Combine the water and the brown in a medium pan over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Add the persimmon, cinnamon stick, and the ground spices. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a low bubble and allow to cook until persimmons are soft and water has reduced, ~30-40 minutes.

    Remove cinnamon stick and star anise. Pour into the jar of a blender, and carefully (it's hot!) puree until smooth. Set a strainer over a bowl and push the puree through, discarding solids. Depending on the size of the holes in your strainer, you will have more or less "pulp". Stir in vanilla bean paste.

    Transfer puree to a jar, and store in the refrigerator.

    The brown sugar in the persimmon puree lends a brown color to the drink, but it also lends a nice, molasses-like flavor to the puree. If you prefer it look more orange, use granulated sugar in its place.

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    Monday, December 24, 2012

    Red Curry Delicata Squash w/ Tofu {12 Weeks of Winter Squash}

    I feel pretty virtuous eating meals like this just two days before "holiday" food.  Now, if only I had the resolve to skip the fattening dips and spreads and cookies and bars and.... well, you get the point.  I suppose it is essential that I eat virtuously for at least a month leading up to a heavy-foodie-holiday.

    This marks my first date with Delicata.  I've had my eye on it for a while now.  All tubular and yellow with pretty green stripes.  I haven't been able to get it out of my head.  For at least eight or nine weeks now.  Finally we connected.

    I've had a recipe marked for almost as long that used red curry paste - something I love.  And go through "phases" with.  I haven't used any in a while, so this dish was a bonus.  Originally, the squash, the tofu, and the broccoli were basically stir-fried and then liquid was added to them and they were simmered.  And while it sounded good, I know myself.  I prefer both my winter squash AND my tofu roasted.  So I kept the basic flavor profile and the same ingredients, and I turned it into a roast, instead.
    The tofu gets pressed and roasted until chewy (the way I like it), while the squash gets tender, but not mushy.  The slight sweetness of the squash goes so well with the mild heat from the curry paste.  Scoop the whole shebang over some warm brown rice, and you've got yourself a meal.

    I contemplated whipping up a little sauce of glaze for this, but in the end, decided that I liked it just the way it was.  If you feel you need something, you can make it during the second half of the roasting time and everything will be done together.

    (Roasted) Red Curry Delicata Squash w/ Tofu

    by Heather Schmitt-González
    Prep Time: 10-15 minutes
    Cook Time: ~30 minutes
    Keywords: vegan broccoli squash tofu winter fall

    Ingredients (serves 4)
    • 3 Tbs. mild olive oil or vegetable oil
    • 16 oz. firm or extra-firm tofu, pressed for at least 1 hour
    • 3 oz. prepared red curry paste, such as Thai Kitchen
    • 1 Tbs. brown sugar
    • ½ tsp. salt + more to finish
    • ⅛ tsp. ground black pepper
    • 1 small-medium Delicata squash (~2 lbs.)
    • 1 c. small broccoli florets
    • cilantro leaves, to garnish
    • cooked brown rice, for serving
    Preheat oven to 450° F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Cut the tip and tail off of the squash, cut in half lengthwise, then scoop out the seeds. Cut into ¼" half-moons. Cut the block of tofu in half lengthwise (through the center so that you have two thin, large rectangles. Cut each half into quarters.
    Combine oil, red curry paste, brown sugar, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Dip each piece of tofu into the mixture and turn to coat. The tofu should have a very thin layer covering all sides. Set on one of the prepared baking sheets and sprinkle all over with some more salt.

    Add the squash to the bowl and use your hands to toss and coat all of the slices. Lay out in a single layer on the other baking sheet.

    Add the broccoli florets to the bowl and toss to coat with the last of the curry paste mixture. Set aside for now.

    Slide the baking tray with the tofu on it into the preheated oven; roast for 15 minutes. Remove tray from the oven, and quickly flip the tofu slices over; add broccoli to the empty half of this baking sheet, slide back into oven, also sliding the other baking tray (with squash) in at the same time. Roast for another 15 minutes.

    Remove from oven - the squash and broccoli should be tender and the tofu should be chewy.  Serve over warm brown rice and garnish with cilantro.

    If you like, you could make a quick sauce/glaze on the stove top while this is roasting. Put some maple syrup into a small pan along with a dollop of red curry paste. Whisk and simmer to reduce a bit. Drizzle over plates before serving.

    This recipe was inspired by and adapted from herbivoracious
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    Don't forget to drop by my 12 Weeks of Winter Squash co-host, Joanne's place to see what she did with winter squash this week!  Also, we'd love it if you'd share what you're doing with winter squash in your kitchen this week in the linky tool below.

    1. Red Curry Delicata Squash w/ Tofu

    2. Black Bean and Butternut Squash Taco & Salad

    3. Lasagna of Fall Vegetables, Gruyere & Sage Bechame
    Sunday, December 23, 2012

    Rompope: Mexican Eggnog {she made, ella hace}

    If I had to name one drink that I felt was synonymous with Christmastime, it would be eggnog.  Not so much the stuff from the carton (though I will break down and buy some in a pinch), but the thick, creamy, homemade variety of eggnog.  Uncooked eggs and all.

    When I was young, my mom made this insanely boozed-up version with an entire spectrum of liquors in one batch.  I was only allowed one sip.  Boo.  Fortunately, once the adults had already poured a couple of refills, us kids could innocently meander into the kitchen and raid the "punch" bowl.

    Soon after I married my Mexican, I was introduced to "his" eggnog.  Or rompope.  It's very, very similar.  Yet different.  Rompope doesn't use the whites of the eggs, just the yolks.  I think it's a little bit like drinking custard.  And come on, what's better than an excuse to DRINK custard?  Like eggnog, you can purchased ready-made rompope.  It's usually in a tall bottle.  And it's very yellow.  I've never looked, but it's so yellow that it makes me wonder if there isn't some food coloring in there.
    Anyway, if you can make custard, you can make rompope.  And if you're anything like me, you'll find yourself with the odd craving for some in the middle of summer.  So what if people think you're weird.  Just see one of my variations below.  Turn that rompope into popsicles.  Or ice cream.  People don't judge popsicles and ice cream under the heat of the summer sun.  Also, the craving for doughnuts and rompope may hit you with a double-whammy.  All-at-once like.  Don't fret.  I have a solution.  Make a super-thick custard version of rompope... and then stuff it in a doughnut.  Oh yeah.  I said it.

    But if you're just craving good ol' fashioned homemade eggnog, why not head on over to mi amiga Leslie's place, La Cocina de Leslie and take a gander at hers.  We've got you covered with both versions of this classic holiday beverage for she made, ella hace this month!


    by Heather Schmitt-González
    Prep Time: 15 minutes
    Cook Time: 40 minutes
    Keywords: beverage dairy eggs Christmas Mexican winter

    Ingredients (~5 cups)
    • 1 quart whole milk
    • 1 cup sugar
    • pinch baking soda
    • 1 stick canela (Mexican cinnamon)
    • 8 large egg yolks
    • ½ cup dark rum, spiced rum, or brandy
    • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
    Combine milk, sugar, baking soda, and canela in a large,heavy pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a soft bubble for 30 minutes, and allow mixture to reduce to about 3 cups.

    Whisk yolks together lightly in a glass bowl. Slowly pour in about 1 cup of the hot milk mixture, while whisking constantly. Whisk entire mixture back into the pot. Cook over low heat, stirring often, until mixture has thickened, and resembles the consistency of half-and-half, ~5 minutes.

    Remove from heat and pour into a bowl that has been placed in an ice bath. Discard the stick of canela and whisk in the rum (or brandy) and vanilla. Chill completely.  If the finished rompope seems too thick, simply thin it out with a bit of milk.  

    To make Paletas de Rompope (Mexican Eggnog Popsicles), simply pour the chilled rompope into popsicle molds and add sticks. Freeze solid.

    To make a nice, thick custard, replace the whole milk in the recipe with half-and-half. Proceed as directed. Instead of looking for the consistency of half-and-half once the yolks have been whisked in, you're looking for the consistency of custard or pudding.

    To make Rompope Ice Cream, make the custard variation and add the chilled custard to the barrel of an ice cream maker. Process according to manufacturer's instructions.

    adapted from My Sweet Mexico by Fany Gerson
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    What happens when two American girls who are both married to Mexican guys find out that although one of them lives in the U.S. and one of them lives in Mexico, they both love eating the same food?  Well, naturally they decide to get "together" the only way they can and cook up the same dishes.  Or perhaps take the same ingredients and talking about them in their own voice or using them in their own way. 

    Leslie and I have teamed up to occasionally cook/bake/make a our own versions of the same food.  We want to see how similar (or how different) they turn out.  Other times we will pick an ingredient and use it however we choose...or maybe just talk about it.  Good food knows no borders and we hope to share the food we love with you.  It's not a competition, it's a showcase.  We will post on the same day as each other and would love to hear your thoughts on what we've made and how you make it. 

    Join me (here at girlichef) and Leslie in her kitchen (at La Cocina de Leslie) for some delicious food.
    She Made, Ella Hace Banner- and

    Can't get enough eggnog?
    The History of Eggnog - The Boys Club
    Eggnog Rice Pudding - The Boys Club
    Puerto Rican Coquito - shop.cook.make
    Christmas Cream Cookies w/ Rompope Frosting - Sweet Life
    Gelatina de Rompope - cocina & comparte
    Eggnog Cupcakes w/ Spiced Rum - Bakers Royale
    Eggnog Pound Cake - Baker Street
    Saturday, December 22, 2012

    European Community Culinary ABC's / Abbecedario Culinario della Comunità Europea

    I'm so excited to be joining in an alphabetical culinary journey through Europe starting next month.  This is a new journey for a group of bloggers who just finished a culinary jaunt through Italy in the same manner.  And as Italian singer and songwriter Francesco De Gregori would say “at the end of a journey there is always a new journey to start”.  The journey through Italy did not tire them out, instead it inspired them to pack up their suitcases and pick up their ladles once more and start this new adventure!

    So, in the new year, the ABC's will travel through the European Community... that is 26 nations! Plus one more - Italy.  That is because the ABC tour is widely made up of those who journeyed through the Italian Culinary ABC's.  Here is the map that will make up our travels.
    I guess that their Italian journey was all hosted in one location, but since "in good company" is the best way to travel, this European journey will have a different blog hosting each letter.  Here's the basics of how it works:

    Each letter represents a traditional dish of one of the countries in the European Community.  Each letter will be hosted by a different blog.  The hosting blog will post the recipe associated with the letter of the alphabet that we are currently visiting.  Everybody else joining in the journey for the month will publish a different traditional dish from the current country we are visiting.

    In order to participate, just follow the 4W's:

    1. When: Every 3 weeks the letter and the country/nation will change
    2. What: Publish any recipe of the current country/nation (it can start w/ any letter) except the one the hosting blog is posting.
    3. Where: Publish the recipe on your blog, then leave a comment on the hosting blog's post w/ a link (or however the hosting blog indicates)
    4. Who: Anyone - the more the merrier!  Join us on our travels... whether you participate regularly or sporadically... we'd love to have you!
    Here's an example:
    On January 7, Mony of Gata da Plar will begin our journey by hosting the letter A with the recipe Appeltart, which represents the Netherlands. Anytime over the next 3 weeks, publish any recipe from the Netherlands, other than the Appeltart.  After you've published, leave a link to your post on Mony's post.

    Here is the list of the letters, recipes, nations, and hosting blogs:

    A like Appeltart
    • Country: Netherlands
    • Hosting blog: Gata da plar
    • Time span: January 7-27, 2013
    B like Bryndzové halušky
    • Country: Slovakia
    • Hosting blog: Crumpets & Co.
    • Time span: January 28-February 17, 2013
    C like Canja
    • Country: Portugal
    • Hosting blog: La melagranata
    • Time span: February 18-March 10, 2013
    D like Drob
    E like Escargot
    F like Frikadeller
    G like Goulash
    • Country: Hungary
    • Hosting blog: Cindystar
    • Time span: May 13-June 2, 2013
    H like Hong am Rèisleck
    • Country: Luxembourg
    • Hosting blog: girlichef
    • Time span: June 3-23, 2013
    I like Irish stew
    J like Jacket potatoes
    • Country: UK
    • Hosting blog: Food 4 thought
    • Time span: July 15-August 4, 2013
    K like Kalakukko
    L like Laxpudding
    M like Moussaka
    N like Njoki
    • Country: Slovenia
    • Hosting blog: Tutto a occhio
    • Time span: October 7-27, 2013
    O like Orsotto
    • Country: Estonia
    • Hosting blog: Cafe Lynnylu
    • Time span: October  28-November 17, 2013
    P like Paella
    • Country: Spain
    • Hosting blog: Burro e Zucchero
    • Time span: November 18-December 8, 2013
    Q like Quarkkäulchen
    • Country: Germany
    • Hosting blog: Briciole
    • Time span: December 9-29, 2013
    R like Ross Fil-Forno
    S like Sachertorte
    • Country: Austria
    • Hosting blog: Torte e dintorni
    • Time span: January 20-February 9, 2014
    T like Trdlo
    • Country: Czech Republic
    • Hosting blog: Ricette di cultura
    • Time span: February 10-March 2, 2014
    U like Undens Klinger
    • Country: Latvia
    • Hosting blog: Briggis' home
    • Time span: March 03-23, 2014
    V like Vedarai
    • Country: Lithuania
    • Hosting blog: Mestolando
    • Time span: March 24-April 13, 2014
    W like Waterzooi
    X like Xirotigani
    Y like Yahni
    • Country: Bulgaria
    • Hosting blog: Nastro di Raso
    • Time span: May 26-June 15, 2014
    Z like Żurek
    • Country: Poland
    • Hosting blog: Cucina Precaria
    • Time span: June 16-July 6, 2014
    I hope you'll pack your bags and join us on this (alphabetical) Culinary journey through Europe! You can also follow along on Facebook!

    Friday, December 21, 2012

    Sugar & Spice Roasted Shrimp {#MWLDinnerParty}

    Well, the time has arrived.  The time to put all of that holiday planning into motion.  Holiday parties are in full swing, which means gifts are being exchanged, conversation is merry... but also, tasty food and cocktails are being served at every turn.  From gatherings full of finger food and cocktails to fancy sit-down dinners, to time around the family table, people are gathering.

    Unfortunately, not everybody knows where their next meal is coming from.  Not everybody enjoys holiday parties and feasts.  Not everybody.  Though not the only group in need, there are seniors across our country who who not have meals were it not for Meals on Wheels.  Meals on wheels provide seniors in America with more than 1 million meals a day.  Food plays such an important role in our daily lives - yes, our bodies need it - but more than nourishing our bodies, it can also nourish our souls.  Especially when enjoyed with a smile... in the company of friends and family... when it is made with love.

    That's why, today, several days before Christmas, I am honored to join in a virtual dinner party hosted by Made With Love: The Meals on Wheels Family Cookbook.  A group of bloggers is coming together with recipes from a book that raises money to help feed seniors in your community.  Made With Love is a compilation of recipes and inspiring stories from all sorts of people, from recognizable names like Helen Mirren, Mario Batali, Paula Deen, Spike Mendelsohn, and First Lady Barbara Bush, to names that may not be as recognizable (but include food writers, NFL players, actors, governors, company heads, music producers, and musicians, to start).

    So in the spirit of giving and the holidays, I hope you'll consider helping end senior hunger by purchasing this book, donating, or helping out at your local Meals on Wheels chapter.  I'm bringing an appetizer to the party... a platter of ridiculously addictive, sticky shrimp that is both sweet and spicy at the same time.  It would make the perfect appetizer or hors d'eouvre for any gathering.

    Sugar & Spice Roasted Shrimp

    by Heather Schmitt-González
    Prep Time: 5 minutes
    Cook Time: 8-10 minutes
    Keywords: roast appetizer shrimp Christmas Super Bowl New Year

    Ingredients (serves 4)
    • 1 c. sugar
    • 2½ tsp. coarse salt
    • ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
    • 1 fat clove garlic, minced
    • 1 (1½") piece ginger, minced
    • ½ tsp. ground cayenne
    • ½ tsp. ground allspice
    • ¼ tsp. ground turmeric
    • 2 Tbs. flour
    • 1 lb. raw shrimp, peeled (tails on or off)
    • lime wedges, for serving
    Preheat oven to 500° F. Grease a baking sheet with oil, or spray well with nonstick spray.

    Combine all ingredients except shrimp and lime in a large bowl; toss to combine.

    Dredge the shrimp in the sugar and spice mixture. Shake off excess and place on prepared baking sheet in a single layer.

    Slide tray into preheated oven and roast for 8-10 minutes, or until cooked through.

    Remove from oven and use a thin-bladed spatula to lift the shrimp and the caramelized juices from the tray onto a serving platter. Squeeze a few lime wedges over the shrimp and serve immediately.

    Use any size shrimp you like, it's really up to your budget and your preference. Also, do yourself a favor and double or triple this recipe if you have a lot of people eating - these will disappear quickly! If doubling, you probably won't have to double the whole sugar and spice mixture. Just work quickly when dredging so that it doesn't clump up too much to become hard to work with.

    adapted from Susan Orlean via the Made With Love: The Meals on Wheels Family Cookbook
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    Click through to see tweets and links to the other recipes featured at the Made With Love Virtual Dinner Party!

    I received a free copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions stated in this post are my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

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