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Friday, July 31, 2015

Savory Tomato and Zucchini Pie

Savory Tomato and Zucchini Pie
It's the last Friday of the month, and you know what that means - Friday Pie Day! But really, where did July go? I blinked and somehow here we are. Summer "vacation" seemed so much longer when I was a kid. Now we're just a few weeks away from my own kids heading back for another school year.

But aside from that pending doom, what other two things can you count on when the last day of July is staring you in the face? Tomatoes and zucchini, that's what! It's funny, because I've gotten pretty lazy (busy really, but I could have carved out some time somewhere...) and haven't planted a garden in about 4 years. Yet, my kitchen is still overrun with zucchini thanks to my neighbors. And personally, I don't think one could ever have to many fresh from the backyard tomatoes.

So, I thought this would be a good time to combine the two and make one savory pie. I also added basil, another thing that just screams summer. I should have just called it Summer Pie!
Thursday, July 30, 2015

Pimm's Cup Ice Pops

Pimm's Cup Ice Pops
Summer is the perfect time to enjoy icy cold cocktails. From frosty blended drinks, to tall sweaty glasses filled with ice cubes that clink and slosh every time you lift them, there's just something about raising a toast under the hot sun. Of course, sitting alone under a shade tree isn't so bad, either.

As much as I enjoy sipping, it's no secret that I enjoy turning my cocktails into boozesicles even more. There were these Tequila Sunrise Ice Pops, and these Cherry Mojito Ice Pops, not to mention these Lemon Lime Margarita Creamsicles—and that's just to name a few. Sure, it's convenient to have a portable frozen cocktail, but it's the whimsy and nostalgia that get me every time.
Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Garlicky Duck Stir-Fry inspired by Eat Drink Man Woman

Garlicky Duck Stir-Fry inspired by Eat Drink Man Woman
"Eat, drink, man, woman. Basic human desires."

This month's Food 'n Flix pick is a true "foodie movie". A delight for the senses, Eat Drink Man Woman is set in Taiwan and centers around widowed Master Chef Chu and his three unmarried adult daughters who still live at home. Each Sunday they come together to connect over a lovingly crafted elaborate family meal. The daughters are being pulled in their own directions by love and careers while they notice that their father's once flawless food is starting to lack flavor because he has lost his sense of taste.

Sound familiar? Well, if you haven't seen this 1994 release before, maybe you've seen the 2001 flick Tortilla Soup. Tortilla Soup is the American remake that features a Mexican-American family living in Southern California. I think both movies are equally delicious in their own right.
Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Peach-Rosemary Shrub Syrup

Peach-Rosemary Shrub
I've been meaning to try making (and drinking) a shrub for at least 3 or 4 years now. I'm not really sure why I've waited so long, seeing as they couldn't be any easier to make. So, when you think shrub, does your mind automatically go to the bushes outside your childhood home? Or, if you're like me, a little TLC song might start playing on a constant loop in your head. (Yes, I know it's scrub, not shrub. I can't help the way my mind works.) What I'm really referring to are the shrubs that are also known as "drinking vinegars".

Basically, you macerate fresh fruit or berries with sugar until the fruit is soft and the sugar is dissolved, then you add vinegar and allow the mixture to infuse for several days. You can add fresh herbs or spices for different flavors. Once the mixture has infused, you strain out the solids and use the resulting sweet and tangy syrup to flavor things, usually drinks (though you could use it in vinaigrettes or sauces, as well).
Thursday, July 23, 2015

Boozy Raspberry Marshmallows (Chambord Marshmallows)

Boozy Raspberry Marshmallows (Chambord Marshmallows)
If you look very closely, you'll see a faint, dusty rose tinge to these marshmallows. That, my friends, is the boozy portion of this homemade marshmallows recipe. I've been meaning to try my hand at boozy marshmallows for a while now. I was aiming for a somewhat delicate flavor; maybe something a bit floral or perhaps fruity.  After a quick liquor cabinet inventory, Chambord was the winner.

Chambord is a beautiful reddish-purple raspberry liqueur, so at the thought of using it, visions of deep pink marshmallows danced in my head. Imagine my surprise when the color was beaten into submission. I watched as the whisk gradually worked in the molten sugar and erased all but a faint trace of color I'd imagined.
Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Whole Roasted Trout w/ Sake and Plums inspired by Flask of the Drunken Master

Whole Roasted Trout w/ Sake and Plums
I'm so excited to be hosting a tour stop for Susan Spann's latest release in her Shinobi Mystery series today. I'll admit, it was initially the title that drew me in: Flask of the Drunken Master. I hadn't read (or even heard of) the books before, but I'm a huge kung-fu fan, and Drunken Master is one of my favorite kung-fu flicks, so I couldn't wait to read the book. Now, there's actually no kung-fu involved in the book, and it's set in Japan, not China...fortunately, that didn't stop me from enjoying every minute of it!

So, I mentioned that this book is actually part of a series; it's book three. I ordered the first two books in the series with the intention of reading them before this one, but time got away from me and I didn't get the chance. Now that I've read Flask of the Drunken Master, I can't wait to go back and get caught up with the first two books, but my experience wasn't lacking for not having read them already. It can stand on it's own if you want to dive right in.

Flask is a mystery set in Japan in the year 1565. Our main characters are the Hiro, a translator who, unbeknownst to most, is actually a shibobi (ninja), and Portuguese Jesuit Father Mateo. Together they are working to prove sake brewer Ginjiro innocent of the crime of murder, and find the real killer before he is executed for the crime.
Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Red Fruit Salad

Red Fruit Salad
Red. The color of love and passion. It's bold. It's exciting. It draws the most eyes in any crowd. It disappears first in any candy jar. So, while it's important to eat the rainbow in order to get the best variety of nutrients and antioxidants, sometimes you just have to throw caution to the wind and embrace the intensity that is RED!

Who doesn't go crazy for sweet, juicy red fruit and berries at their peak? Who else has to purchase an extra pint of wild strawberries from the farmers market...just so that you'll actually have some left by the time you get home?

I've probably mentioned it a time or five before—for me, there's no season like cherry season. Is it wrong to eat one's weight in cherries? I think not.
Monday, July 20, 2015

Grilled Shrimp Burgers

Grilled Shrimp Burgers
Now that the weather has warmed up and the grill has once again taken up residence on the patio, I've been a grilling fool. I'm sure everybody has their own "go to" foods for the grill. Ours are chops, brats, hot dogs, chicken breast, corn on the cob, beef burgers and marinated skirt steak (for tacos). On special occasions I actually get a nice thick steak. But what I really look forward to is that familiar smokiness permeating some fish or seafood.

I have pescetarian tendencies, but my family does not. Each of them likes certain types of fish or seafood, but would revolt if I tried to completely remove other meat permanently from their diets. So instead, I just slip some in as often as possible.
Thursday, July 16, 2015

Power Bread | #BreadBakingBabes

Power Bread
Today is the 16th, and that means it's time to reveal this month's Bread Baking Babes challenge. One of our newest BBBabes, Judy of Judy's Gross Eats, is our Kitchen of the Month, and she challenged us to make Peter Reinhart's Power Bread. I imagine the name comes from the fact that this loaf is high in fiber and protein, which when combined, make you feel fuller with fewer calories. Protein boosts your metabolism, while fiber allows for sustained energy release in the hours after you eat. POWER!

Don't let the fact that this bread has steps or "sections" to it scare you off. The pre-soaker, soaker, and biga each only take a few minutes each to pull together, and then you let them sit for hours on their own before moving on. It looks like you'd have to start days in advance, but really you don't.

For me, it took 2 days, but most of that time was unattended. It went something like this:
Day 1
  • 7:00 am - combine ingredients for pre-soaker and allow to sit at room temperature. Combine ingredients for Biga into a ball that resembled wet sand, but held together; cover and refrigerate.
  • 8:30 pm - puree pre-soaker ingredients together, then combine that with the rest of the soaker ingredients until they form a "moist" ball (which I found oddly pleasing).
Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Coconut Matcha Blueberry Popsicles

Coconut, Matcha and Blueberry Popsicles
Technically, this year should mark year 4 of the Summer of the Popsicle, but once again, time has gotten away from me. I meant to get it going again, but here it is July and I haven't sent out any invites. That doesn't mean that I haven't shared any popsicle recipes this year. On the contrary, I've already shared three (not including this one), and I have another one coming up in the next week or two—so I'm not a total slacker. I just never officially dubbed it "Summer of the Popsicle 4".

However, I am joining in the third edition of Popsicle Week hosted by Wit & Vinegar, so that's just as awesome. Maybe more so, because it took no organizing on my part. Yay me! Maybe I'll take a cue from Billy and do a 1-week SOTP intensive before summer ends...we'll see.
Monday, July 13, 2015

Thrill Me by Susan Mallery: Excerpt

I'm so excited to share something new with you. I often host book tour stops, but today marks the first time I host an excerpt tour today! If you're not familiar, you can probably guess that each host on a tour shares an excerpt from a book. Start at the beginning of the tour, then follow along each day to keep reading. How fun is that!?

I know a lot of you like to see the food or drink that a particular book inspired me to make, or hear little foodie-bites from the book—and that won't change. It may not be in-your-face, but this excert is fueled by caffeine. Hopefully it'll give you incentive to come back on August 20th, when I'll be sharing a review and recipe inspired by Thrill Me, as well.

Until then, welcome Susan Mallery and excerpt #5 from Thrill Me, part of the Fool's Gold series!
Saturday, July 11, 2015

Fruity Popsicles in Moscato

Easy Summer Celebrating Idea: Fruity Popsicles in Moscato
Aaaaah, the lazy days of summer. What are those!? I vaguely recall, but can't remember the last time I had any. Sadly, I think it's a bygone term in the rushed, plugged-in world of today. Since lazy days are rare, I try to recognize and embrace the lazy moments instead; celebrate down-time!

I don't live extremely far from my mom, brother, and two sisters, but I do live far enough that we don't see each other often enough. One or two of the "big" holidays each year, and then once or twice beyond those, if we're lucky. Needless to say, when we do finally get together, we try to make the most of it. We don't meet up at theme parks or campgrounds, we chill out at home, sit around and talk, and maybe hit up the market so we can make and enjoy some food together. If the mood strikes, we may hang out at a nearby beach or park. We're a fairly laid-back bunch when it comes down to it.
Friday, July 10, 2015

Homemade Graham Crackers

Homemade Graham Crackers
Homemade crackers taste so much better than storebought crackers. It's a fact. No matter how many times I make them, the level of goodness never ceases to amaze me. Not to mention, if you've never made crackers at home, it's so much easier than you may think.

Crackers are a popular snacking choice in my house. I won't claim to make all of the ones we eat from scratch. But, I try. I've tried many sort-of copycat kid-pleasers such as cheese crackers, club crackers, sociables, homemade goldfish crackers, and butter crackers. But the type that I make most often are more of the "pinkies up" varieties. The type that are seemingly more sophisticated (yet the kids still devour them). Crackers that fall into this category are usually thin and crisp, and often have seeds of some sort studded throughout, and sometimes they include yeast or sourdough, such as flaxseed and black pepper, olive oil and seed, or crunchy seeded crackers.
Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Zesty Grilled Ham Steaks

Zesty Grilled Ham Steak
We are already a week into July, and that means we're deep into grilling season. So, it's only natural that for this month's edition of #bloggerCLUE, our theme is Summer BBQ/Grilling! From the moment I had my assignment, I knew I'd hit the jackpot; Lea Ann from Cooking on the Ranch has no shortage of recipes that are made on the grill. I wasn't only stoked that I was assigned to Lea Ann's blog because I know she can use a grill, but because she and I have known each other for a number of years (I want to say about 6 years) through this amazing world of food blogging...way back when her blog name was Mangos, Chili and Z.

Aside from cooking up great food on a regular basis, she's an incredibly kind person, as well. When she had the chance to meet Rick Bayless, she actually got a signed copy of his (then) new cookbook for me since she knew he was (is) my favorite chef. I was blown away. Still am each and every time I open the cover of Fiesta at Rick's. I just realized that was in October of 2010. Time flies!

But anyway, the hardest part was narrowing down the choices of what I wanted to throw on the grill this month. A few things I contemplated were Sriracha Chicken Mushroom Kabobs, Honey Butter Grilled Chicken Wings with Parsley Sauce, Grilled Salmon with Homemade Teriyaki Sauce, and Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Southwestern Zinfandel Glaze. See? Almost impossible to narrow it down just from those few!
Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Boulou (Libyan Jewish Bread)

Boulou (Libyan Jewish Bread)
It's the first Tuesday of the month, and that means it's time for another edition of #TwelveLoaves! Our host this month is Karen from Karen's Kitchen Stories, and she's chosen Jewish Breads as our theme. Beyond bagels, Bialys, Challah, Babka, rye and matzo, I'm not familiar with many other types of Jewish bread, so I was really looking forward to this challenge.

I swear, the hardest part was deciding which type of bread to make. I've had Bialys on my to-make list forever. And while I've made rye before, I don't think I've ever made a true Jewish rye. I considered making a non-yeast bread like Matzo or Mandelbrot. I used to make bagels every weekend. Something intricate like a beautiful Babka or braided Challah just seemed like too much in this heat since our air conditioner is broken, making it a disgusting 86 degrees in the house without the oven on.
Monday, July 6, 2015

Grilled Pizza w/ Onions, Peppers, Corn, and Brats

Grilled Pizza w/ Onions, Peppers, Corn & Brats
Would you believe me if I told you that Guinness© Blonde American Lager tastes an awful lot like Guinness Stout? Because that's what I'm telling you. As a lover of the deep, rich Porter that everybody knows as Guinness, my first sip of Blonde was a happy one. It may be a lighter in color, but not in complexity or flavor.

The first fusion beer in the new Guinness Discovery Series, Guinness Blonde combines European brewing techniques with American Hops to brew a lager that is hoppy with citrus and floral notes, while still having that "biscuity" malt finish so characteristic of Guinness. It's great for kicking back with and relaxing, but it also lends itself well to cooking and food pairings.
Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Stencil Printed Tea Towels and Crates for Culinary Gift Giving - a guest post by Margaret Peot, author of Stencil Craft

Stencil Printed Tea Towels and Crates for Culinary Gift Giving - a guest post by Margaret Peot, author of Stencil Craft
I'm thrilled to welcome artist, writer, costume painter, and author Margaret Peot to the blog today as a tour stop for her new book, Stencil Craft. Not only has Peot painted costumes at Parsons-Meares, LTD for Broadway projects like Aladdin, The Lion King, Wicked, Turn Off the Dark, Will Rogers Follies, Shrek the Musical, Phantom of the Opera, and Mary Poppins, as well as dance, film circus, arena and ice shows—she also taught costume painting at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts for ten years.

Peot's books include The Successful Artist's Career Guide, Alternative Art Journals, Make Your Mark and the award-winning Inkblot: Drip, Splat and Squish Your Way to Creativity, plus the release of two new publications this year, Crow Makes a Friend and today's feature, Stencil Craft!

Today Margaret is showing us how she makes Stencil Printed Tea Towels and Crates for culinary gift giving, a project that I plan on putting to use many times in the near future. Welcome Margaret!