Friday, June 29, 2012

The Weekly Nightcap - The Firecracker

independence day falls on a wednesday this year. while it may not me the most convenient day for a holiday, the way i see it, it just means we have two weekends to celebrate our countries independence and the sacrifice so many made to keep it that way.

this friday, i am kicking of the 10 day celebration with a cocktail.

i call this the firecracker - its a slight twist on a lava flow, but with a blue straw, it's a red, white, and blue explosion.


The Firecracker
makes 2 drinks

5-6 large strawberries, rinsed and hulled
2 oz rum
2 oz pineapple rum
2 oz coconut rum
5 oz cream of coconut
4 oz pineapple juice

in a blender, combine strawberries, rum, and pineapple rum. blend until smooth and pour into two highball glasses.

rinse out blender and combine coconut rum, cream of coconut, pineapple juice and at least a cup of ice. blend until thick and smooth adding more ice if too thin and more pineapple if too thick. slowly pour into two glasses slowly. throw in a blue straw and enjoy!

Chocolate Dipped Almond Coconut Oatmeal Squares

we are planning a family vacation this summer. as in a whole family vacation - the first in a long time. mom, dad, brother, sister-in-law, and husband.

we are going to algonquin park in canada and will be relaxing, hiking, canoeing, sunning, napping, eating, and spending quality time together. the food is rumored to be top notch but i am still looking to bring a couple things with us - mainly snacks for cocktail hour and hiking.

i knew an oatmeal-type bar would be perfect for hiking and canoeing. while i have an old standby recipe i love (chocolate chip granola bars) i wanted to try something new.

as soon as i laid eyes on this recipe from jessica over at how sweet eats, i knew i wanted to re-create it with a few tweaks. what i love most about this recipe is how the oatmeal remains chewy. the chocolate and coconut are the perfect pair and the almonds add a bit more protein for the trail.

i have a feeling you'll enjoy these as much as i do.

Chocolate Dipped Almond Coconut Oatmeal Squares
slightly adapted from how sweet eats
makes 16 squares

2 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1 cup shredded, sweetened coconut
1/4 cup sucanat
pinch of salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup coconut oil, measured solid
1/4 cup honey
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1 tbs coconut oil, measure solid

in a medium bowl, mix together oats, almonds, coconut, sucanat, and salt. melt butter and oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. pour over dry ingredients with honey and stir well until combined and uniformly coated. press into greased 8x8 square baking dish and refrigerate for 10 minutes.

meanwhile, melt chocolate and oil in same small saucepan and pour over chilled oatmeal. spread evenly over surface and chill an additional 45 minutes. remove from fridge and let sit at room temperature for 5 minutes. cut into 16 squares and store in airtight container (i keep mine in the fridge).

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Lemon Curd Frozen Yogurt

it is no secret that i love lemon. i love lemon in my desserts, lemon in my cocktails, lemon sauce, and lemon in my salads. so it may go without saying that i love homemade lemon curd.

if you love the tart, fresh taste of lemon, you too will love this frozen yogurt. it's refreshing, creamy, sweet and tart. i think it's the perfect refreshing summer dessert.

Lemon Curd Frozen Yogurt

1 whole egg
3 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
zest of 2 lemons
1/2 cup lemon juice
4 tbs butter, cut into cubes
1 1/2 cups plain 2% greek yogurt
1 cup vanilla greek yogurt

whisk together eggs and sugar in a medium sauce pan. whisk in zest and juice and place over medium heat. whisk constantly over medium heat until mixture thickens (it should coat the back of a wooden spoon) - roughly 7-10 minutes.

remove from heat a whisk in butter, one cube at a time until completely melted. push mixture through a fine mesh strainer and cover with plastic wrap touching curd. refrigerate at least one hour.

whisk together chilled lemon curd with plain yogurt and vanilla yogurt and pour into ice cream maker. follow your ice cream makers directions (i let it churn for 20 minutes and then spoon it into a tupperware container and let it freeze for an hour or so).

serve cold and enjoy!

Monday, June 25, 2012

3 weeks

it has been exactly 3 weeks since my last real post. 21 days.

truth be told my heart has been broken. we lost our first dog to that nasty disease they call cancer and are nothing short of devastated. i fear i will never love another animal as much as i loved dignan but i sure am channeling a lot of love to roxy.

however, it's time to carry on. it's time to attempt to heal my broken heart and get back to the kitchen and back to normal life -  whatever that is.

please forgive my absence and bear with me. i have a delicious dessert recipe coming tomorrow. although it turns out ice cream can't fix everything, i am sure giving it a try.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Appetite Adventure - The Wine Market, Locust Point

if you are just joining me for my appetite adventure and aren't really sure what it is, find out about it here. you can see the full list of reviews so far here or by clicking the appetite adventure tab at the top of this page - right next to "home" and "about PW".

The Wine Market is one of the 10 restaurants I have attended prior to this appetite adventure and I was looking forward to going again. It is a little out of the way in Locust Point but the trip is well worth it. One of the perks of eating at The Wine Market is a discount on wines in their attached wine shop on the way out. It's a small but well-stocked space.

We decided to take E's mom on mother's day to their mothers day brunch. The regular menu is small and changes frequently. The brunch menu highlighted fresh spring ingredients (like garden peas, strawberries, and asparagus) and we were able to chose a starter, main course, and dessert. We all started with a cocktail (pink prosecco for the girls and a beer for E) and delved into the menu.

My mother-in-law chose the Chilled English Pea Soup to start and was warned by our server that it was very earthy. She bravely still ordered it. It tasted exactly like young peas but was thicker than expected. The sea beans garnishing the soup were a pleasant surprise as none of us had ever tried them but we all enjoyed them.

E and I both had the Arugula Strawberry Salad and loved every bite. I was surprised to see roasted duck in the salad but somehow the smokey flavor of the duck worked with the sweet strawberries, peppery arugula, and creamy goat cheese.

Mimi and I both enjoyed the Fried Oyster Benedict for our main course. I had imagined the fried oysters would be the base of the eggs benedict instead of bread, but they were placed on the side instead. The oysters were perfectly fried (I ordered them the last time we were here and loved them) and the Worcestershire sauce in the hollandaise sauce was a wonderful addition topping the perfectly poached eggs. Despite Mimi ordering her eggs poached hard and them arriving a bit runny none-the-less, she still enjoyed the dish.

E ordered the Country Fried Steak that arrived similar to an eggs benedict dish. A buttermilk biscuit was the base for the country fried steak with a fried egg on top. A duck gravy topped the entire dish and E said he loved every bite even though he isn't usually a "sauce" fan.

The menu featured three different desserts and we each ordered a different one. Mimi got the Mixed Berry Crumble with fresh berries, a light crumble topping, and a dollop of whipped cream.

I ordered the Strawberry Shortcake that tasted fresh and surprisingly light after a heavy main course.

E enjoyed Chocolate Banana Bread Pudding with chocolate ice cream and crumbled oreos.

Overall, the meals there are consistently delicious with pleasant surprises and new spins on old favorites. You are sure to enjoy your meal and the atmosphere and you will be well taken care of by their friendly staff. Be sure to enjoy the wine discount or at least leave some time to browse their selection.

Caramelized Onion and Artichoke Dip

holy wow.

seriously i don't know what else to say besides put down the computer, head to the grocery store and buy the ingredients you need to make this dip. it is that good.

i made this as an appetizer when we had company and there wasn't much left over. it's quite possible that what was left over was consumed the next day. i'm just saying there is a chance.

taking the extra time to caramelize the onions is totally worth it because the flavor of the sweet onions is the star of this warm, cheesy dip.

i usually half this recipe unless we are having a big crowd. use crackers, tortilla chips, or celery and carrots to scoop up this decadent treat.

Caramelized Onion and Artichoke Dip

2 large onions, thinly sliced
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
1/4 cup white wine
15 oz artichoke hearts
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp garlic salt (or regular salt)
1/8 tsp pepper
3/4 cup shredded gruyère cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup olive oil mayonnaise
1/4 cup plain greek yogurt (2% of full fat)

in a large skillet over medium heat, warm olive oil. add onions and stir well to combine. cook until tender, 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. season with salt and pepper and add white wine to de-glaze pan. stir well and continue to cook until wine is reduced and onions and caramelized. remove from heat.

preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

meanwhile, mince artichoke hearts in food processor. mix minced artichokes with garlic, salt, pepper, sour cream, mayo, yogurt, parmesan and gruyere. add onions and stir well to combine.

spread into greased baking dish and bake for 20 minutes until bubbly and golden brown.
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