Browsing Category: cooking & baking

Wine Slushy

slushy

This is a nice twist on summer time frozen drinks.  A wine slushy! Doesn’t that sound delicious?  It is also really easy to make, most of it can be done ahead of time, and the ingredients are clean and healthy!  This will be a favorite drink while sitting out by the pool, or for a summer night BBQ.  I got this recipe from CoilyLocks.com, and here is the very simple instructions:

Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle of Riesling
  • 2 cups hulled strawberries
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar

Directions:

Set aside one cup of Riesling in the fridge to chill.  In a food processor, puree strawberries with the remaining wine, lime juice and sugar.  Pour the mixture into ice-cube trays and freeze until solid.  When you’re ready to serve (or drink), puree the ice cubes with the remaining wine in your blender.

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Make A Better Burger

This weekend is Labor Day, and there is no better way to end the summer than burgers and dogs on the grill!  The last couple of years I have been doing a lot of research on how to make a better burger.  There are a couple of tips that I employ that really seem to be a constant in my research for a better burger.  Next time you fire up the grill for burger time, try these tips, and you will not be disappointed!

  1. Choose the right ground beef!  You want ground beef that is around 20 – 25% fat.  Most of that will burn of during cooking, but your burgers will be moist and flavorful because of it.
  2. Season the meat.  A lot of people neglect to ad any seasoning at all.  Always use salt and pepper.  Ad it right to the raw meat and mix in.  If you want to use other spices, garlic or onions etc that you to ad to the raw meat, cook them lightly in a frying pan to bring out the flavor before adding to the meat.
  3. Don’t overwork the meat.  Try not to smash the ground beef up to much, or pat the burgers down too tight.  This will give you dense drier burgers.
  4. Indent the tops.  After you form your patties push your thumb onto the top of the patty to leave a good thumb sized indentation.  This keeps the patties from turning into balls while you cook them, which allows for a nice even cooking.
  5. Let them sit out.  Let your raw burgers get to room temperature before you put them on the grill.  After you make your patties, cover them with plastic wrap, and allow them to sit out until they are room temp.  This will allow the middle of the burger to cook evenly with the outside.
  6. Don’t squish.  When you are cooking your burgers, don’t squish them with your spatula.  All that does is dry them out, and makes more potential for a fire in your grill.
  7. Divide your grill.  If you are using charcoal, pile your hot coals on one side of the grill.  Put the raw burgers on the hot side of the grill, for 1 – 2 minutes on each side to char the outside.  Then, rotate the burger a half turn and place them on the cool side.  This will give you the crisscross pattern of grill marks.  Then cover the grill and cook for another 4-6 minutes per side to “bake” the inside of the burger without overcooking the outside.
  8. Let them sit. Let the patties rest covered with aluminum foil for about 5 minutes before serving.  This will lock the juices into the burger.
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Blueberry Flax Microwave Muffin

There is one thing this college girl loves, and it is a meal in a mug! A friend and I experimented with meals in a mug this past school year for our newspapers food column, and the results were not visually appealing, but they tasted great! The only problem with the recipes we tried is that they were not the healthiest choices. When it comes to muffins, there are many healthy variations nowadays, and when I came across this recipe made with all natural ingredients, including flax, I was stoked to try it! It only takes one minute if you have a shallow mug or bowl, and it serves one, which is a perfect breakfast option for the person on-the-go!

 

muffins

Ingredients:

1 ounce frozen blueberries

1/4 cup ground flaxseed

1/2 tsp baking powder

2 Tbsp sugar-free pancake syrup

1/2 tsp orange zest

1 egg white

1/2 tsp nutmeg

 

For directions and nutritional facts, visit SparkRecipes.

Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette

Looking at salad dressing labels can be a scary thing sometimes! Although it tastes great,  it most often is not great for your body too. This is why I was elated when I came across recipes for my three favorite dressings — homemade dairy free ranch, honey mustard and balsamic! These three recipes are extremely versatile, as they not only go with salads, but also can be paired with any kind of chicken dinner, especially homemade chicken tenders for the kids! Your mouth and body will thank you for taking the extra minute to make your own sauces for your meal.

You can find the recipes for the other two dressings on My Whole Food Life, and here is the recipe for the balsamic vinaigrette:

 

Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette

1/3 cup olive oil
2 T balsamic vinegar
1/2 T red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic minced or pressed
1/4 scant tsp ground mustard
1 T lemon juice.

Whisk all the ingredients together. That’s it. I store my dressing in a small mason jar in the fridge.  It should keep for a couple weeks.  Since there are no additives in this, it will solidify in the fridge.  Pull it out a few minutes before you use it again.  Or just make it as you need it.

 

balsamic vinaigrette

 

Tangy Summer Citrus Pie

My aunt claims that she is not a good cook, but whenever she brings something over for a holiday dinner, it is gone within minutes. One of her specialties that she makes for the 4th of July and my July birthday each year is her signature citrus pie. I celebrated the 4th alone this year, being that I am not living at home this summer and I decided that my solo celebration could not be complete without one of my Aunt Lynette’s famous pies, so I decided to make one for myself! Oh, did I also mention I have no kitchen? It is being remodeled and I have limited cooking supplies. Lucky for me, this recipe is 1. cheap for a college student 2. quick to make and 3. super easy! I was so pleased with the first one that I spiced up the recipe and made a second one that was raspberry!

You will need:

1 can of frozen lemonade (any flavor) (6 oz.)

1/2 tub of Cool Whip

1 pint of vanilla ice cream

1 premade graham cracker pie crust

Blend together with a beater mixer until smooth. Pour in a pre made graham cracker crust and freeze until hard. Finish with fresh or frozen fruit on top for taste or decoration.

 

I had extra, so I put graham cracker crumbs in the bottom of a muffin tin and poured the excess there for mini citrus pies!

I had extra “batter”, so I put graham cracker crumbs in the bottom of a muffin tin and poured the excess there for mini citrus pies!

 

 

Strawberries & “Cream”

I absolutely love rich desserts! This one caught my eye because it is so simple and doesn’t use any refined sugar.  I can whip this up in a few minutes and voila dessert is served!  In my typical fashion I’ve made modifications….the original recipe called for heavy whipping cream but I don’t do much dairy so I swapped that out for coconut cream. This one is a winner!

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Recipe modified from Fit, Fun & Delish (visit for the original recipe)

Strawberries & “Cream”

Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 3 cups fresh strawberries (or any of your favorite berries really)
  • 7.5 teaspoons natural sweetener such as Truvia or Stevia, divided. (you can also try using honey or agave nectar if you prefer)
  • 1 cup coconut cream (I put 2 cans of full fat coconut milk in the fridge and just skim the cream off the top and save the liquid for smoothies)
Instructions
  1. In a food processor, puree 2.5 cups strawberries and 4.5 teaspoons of Truvia or Stevia until smooth.
  2. Strain the puree through a fine colander and discard the seeds. Chill the puree until cold.
  3. In a medium bowl, using a hand mixer on medium speed, beat the coconut cream.
  4. Add the remaining 3 teaspoon of Truvia (or 2 Tbsp sugar) and continue beating until stiff peaks form.
  5. Fold the puree into the coconut cream until mixed but streaks of white and puree are still visible.
  6. Transfer to serving cups and chill until ready to eat. Garnish with fresh strawberries before serving.

Beer Candied Bacon

Now this is a dish made for dad!  Boy would I be excited if this was on the Father’s Day brunch table.  The only problem, is that it would be real hard for my family to make enough!  I can imagine that these go pretty quickly.  What a combination, beer, candy, and bacon.  You can’t go wrong!  This recipe comes from TideAndThyme.com, and it looks like a fairly easy recipe to accomplish.

Beer-Candied Bacon

1 lb thick-cut, high quality bacon
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp beer (I used Dogfish Head’s Chicory Stout)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine brown sugar and beer in a small bowl, whisking well to form a thin syrup. Set aside.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place a wire cooling rack on top. Place the pieces of bacon on top of the rack, overlapping if necessary. Place in oven and cook for 10 minutes.

Remove from oven and brush one side of the bacon with the beer syrup. Flip, and coat the other side with the syrup as well. Return to oven and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, and repeat process another time or two more, until bacon is crispy and browned, and you’ve used all the glaze.

Cool on wire rack for at least 1 hour before serving.

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Mexican Grilled Corn

I’ll be honest, I consider myself to be pretty good on a grill, but I have had very mixed results when it comes to grilling corn.  Grilled corn is a flavor I truly love, so I attempt it all of the time.  However, that being said, I have only tried to develop my own technique.  I think this summer I am going to start with a tried and true technique, and then adapt from there.  This is a recipe that is adapted from Authentic Mexican by Rick Bayless, which is an amazing Mexican cookbook everyone should own.

I found this adaptation on ScarpettaDolcetto, and here is how they do it:

  • 6 ears of sweet corn, in husks
  • 3 Tbsp melted butter
  • 1/2 C sour cream with enough milk or cream to loosen
  • 1/3 C crumbled Mexican cheese (queso fresco, anejo or cotijia)
  • 1 Tbsp hot chile powder
  • minced cilantro
  • 1/2 lime

Soak the corn for an hour in a deep bowl of water or a clean sink, weighted down with a plate. Grill in the husks over medium-high heat, about 15-20 minutes, until blackened. When cool enough to handle, remove the silk and husks. (Or remove the silks and use the husks as a handle.)

10 minutes before serving, brush the corn with butter and grill until browned. Remove from heat. Serve with the fixings or prep for your guests: brush the corn with sour cream; sprinkle with chile powder, salt, cheese and cilantro. Squirt a bit of lime juice over all. Serve warm with the remaining fixings.

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Healthy Microwave Popcorn Without the Bag!

Last night I went to bed early, curled up with a good book and realized I wanted something to snack on. I don’t like to buy packaged microwave popcorn as it’s loaded with unhealthy stuff but I knew I had loose kernel popcorn hanging around. Feeling lazy and not wanting to do it on the stove top I did a quick search to find a recipe using just a bowl and plate (microwave safe of course). I’m delighted to say it turned out oh so yummy!

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Microwave Popcorn Without the Bag! (recipe adapted from One Good Thing by Jillie)

  • 1/4 cup popcorn
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil (can omit if you’d prefer….I just like the taste)
  • Pinch of Pink Himalayan Salt (or sea salt, I just like Himalayan salt)
  • A bowl (microwave safe)
  • A plate (microwave safe)

Instructions: Add the popcorn into the bowl (make sure the bowl is large enough to account for the popcorn popping and expanding). Mix with salt and oil. Place the plate on top so it seals the top. Place in microwave for about 2 min 45 seconds (this may differ depending on your microwave). Voila!

Just be careful when you take the plate off of the bowl once it’s done popping as it’s hot and the steam could burn!

BLT Bites

Ahh the BLT, one of humankind’s greatest inventions!  This is a (almost) guilt free way to take the BLT to the appetizer plate.  I would love to have these anytime, but would be particularly pleased if these were served at father’s day this year!  I found the photo below that sparked my interest in making something like this from Greatist.com. They also have a nice list of other guilt free snacks for dudes.

These could be very simple to make, and you could do these in a lot of different ways.  Here is the way I would make them.

  1. Cut off the tops and bottoms of the cherry tomatoes so they can stand up, and so you can fill them
  2. Using a pairing knife, hollow out one side of the inside of the tomato from the top.
  3. Ad a small amount of mayonnaise mixed with salt and pepper
  4. Put in a piece of very crispy bacon, and a leaf or two of arugula
  5. Place on a thinly sliced mini baguette, and hold it in place with a toothpick.
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Photo by Perry Santanachote