Appetizer Sliders Three Ways

With the turn of the season and the heat in full swing, something about the start of the summer makes me want to entertain. For this theme week, we wanted to do some easy appetizers with a running theme that could be crowd-pleasers without being too much effort. While Amanda did amazing and fancy things with Balsamic Vinegar, I decided to go a little more “game day” with a series of sliders.

Since I was making a couple options, I knew I didn’t want any one type to dominate my time. With the electric pressure cooker to do the heavy lifting for the pork sliders, I was freed up to work on the other two options. I thought I’d cover my bases with the shredded pork in the pressure cooker, ground buffalo chicken sliders with ranch dressing and a vegetarian option of goat cheese and zucchini sliders. The zucchini was the surprise hit, and the herb yogurt sauce was such a great addition to this yummy little snack.

It is worth mentioning, if you don’t feel like standing over a pan or two waiting for all of these little patties to cook, you could always make these full size. Or if you don’t think this is enough slider options, check out our previous burger recipes, the Greek Chicken and Chickpea burgers which could easily be divided into more patties just before cooking.

Pork Slider

Blackberry Pulled Pork

  • 12 oz fresh or frozen blackberries
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 pork tenderloin (can also use about 1 lb pork shoulder preferred)
  • Salt &  Pepper
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • Slider Buns

Instructions:

  1. Generously coat your pork tenderloin with salt and pepper on all sides. Add it to your instant pot along with the chicken broth. Seal your instant pot and cook on high pressure for 45 minutes and allow the pressure to release naturally when done.
  2. After the pressure has been released, remove the pork tenderloin and shred the meat with two forks. Return the shredded meat to your instant pot to keep warm while you cook the sauce.
  3. In a medium saucepan over low-medium heat, stir together the blackberries and wine. Allow the mixture to boil and reduce by half, stirring occasionally. About 10-15 minutes.
  4. When reduced, pass the mixture through a sieve to filter out any seeds and bits of berry.
  5. Place some of the shredded pork on a slider bun and top with a spoonful of the sauce. These are now ready to serve and enjoy!

*Mer’s Note: So there are some flavor combinations that are just classic, and I completely forgot Amanda did something similar previously. Because I was trying this one as a keto recipe, you might want to check out hers as an alternative as well. Both could be converted into sliders!

Buffalo Alternate

Buffalo Chicken Sliders

  • 1 lb of ground chicken
  • 5 tbsp buffalo sauce
  • 1 stalk celery finely minced
  • 1 medium carrot, shredded
  • 3 green onions, greens and whites minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • Ranch Dressing to serve
  • Slider buns to serve

Instructions: 

  1. Combine the ground chicken, buffalo sauce, celery, carrot, green onions, 1 tsp salt & pepper, garlic powder and breadcrumbs. Combine with your hands until all ingredients are fully incorporated. Separate the mixture and form/flatten into 16 equal patties.
  2. In a large pan over medium heat or a grill, cook the patties for about 2-3 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Place the cooked patties on slider buns and top with a dollop of ranch dressing to serve. Enjoy!

DSCF0086

Zucchini Sliders

  • 2 medium zucchinis, coarsley shredded
  • 1 tsp salt plus a pinch extra for seasoning zucchini
  • 2 oz herb goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp cup panko breadcrumbs
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp neutral, high smoke point oil (like canola)
  • Slider Buns to serve

Yogurt Sauce

  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Juice of half a lemon

 

Instructions: 

  1. Sprinkle the zucchini with the pinch of salt and squeeze the shredded zucchini over a sieve and sink to release as much water as possible. If time allows, wrap the zucchini in paper towels and place in the sieve with something heavy on top to drain over an empty container for 30 minutes to an hour. While allowing the zucchini to drain, mix together your yogurt sauce.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the yogurt, herbs and lemon juice together and allow to sit in the fridgefor at least 30 minutes for the flavors to come together.
  3. Once you have released as much moisture from the zucchini as possible, combine the zucchini with the goat cheese, Parmesan, oregano, garlic powder, and the egg. Mix together and form into 16 flat patties (they will be very delicate).
  4. In a wide bowl or container, combine the breadcrumbs with the remaining salt and pepper to your liking. Meanwhile, heat a large pan with the oil over medium heat. Dip each zucchini patty into the breadcrumb mixture until you have an even coating and transfer directly to the heated pan. Until cooked, these patties are very delicate so I would recommend as little handling as you can manage.
  5. Heat the patties for about 1-2 minutes on each side until a brown and crispy, and the egg firms up the patty a little bit.
  6. Transfer to a slider bun and top with a dollop of your yogurt sauce to serve. Enjoy!

 

 

Bread Boat Breakfast Bake

While Amanda and I were in Tampa running our very tiring Gasparilla Distance Classic Half Marathon, we knew we would be exhausted and ready for a nice breakfast to enjoy in our pajamas before crashing for a mid-morning to afternoon nap recovery rest. I tend to get very specific in my food desired after a race, and with all the Gatorade and sugary gummy chews being consumed, I am ready to take a break from sugar by the end of the race, for a little while anyway. We also knew, because of that previously mentioned exhaustion, we didn’t want to work for this breakfast much. Enter: The Bread Boat Breakfast Bake.

This recipe is fairly similar to my Christmas Breakfast Casserole but with a wonderful carb substitution that makes this meal both beautifully presentable if you’re hosting a brunch and uniquely delicious (think: savory french toast). The beauty in this recipe, much like the casserole, is in its ability to be customized to your tastes and the fact that all the ingredients can be prepped ahead of time. You can easily assemble your bread boat, pop in the oven and then just as easily shower those 13.1 miles off while it cooks, or make a pitcher of mimosas for a brunch party and chillax. The first time we made this, we devoured the deliciousness before getting pictures, but I was so happy with the results I came home and made it again for the perfect weekend morning treat.

  • 1 Loaf french bread
  • 10 eggs
  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • 2 mini bell peppers, diced or 1/2 1 bell pepper
  • 1/2 lb ground pork sausage
  • 3 green onions, sliced and greens and whites separated
  • 1/2 cup gouda cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup velveeta cheese, shredded

37236B64-8C27-4B4C-A237-71ECC80E137A

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Whisk together the 10 eggs, yogurt, salt and pepper and set aside while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Brown the pork sausage in a skillet over medium heat and allow to cool slightly (can also be made a day ahead).
  4. With a serrated knife, carefully slice two lines vertically down your baguette about 1/4″-1/2″ from each long edge, do not break through the bottom of the bread crust, but get as close to the bottom as you dare.
  5. Using your hands, remove the bread from in between your two cuts so that most of the bread inside the crust is gone but the thick crust is still intact. If you need to use your knife to assist in pulling out the bread middle, do so carefully. Place the baguette onto a baking sheet lined with foil or a silicon baking sheet.
  6. Sprinkle in the sausage, onion whites,  bell pepper and the two cheeses into the cavity of the baguette in whichever order you would like, but make sure you at least have some cheese on top.
  7. Slowly drizzle in your egg mixture over the bread cavity. This will require some time since you have so many ingredients so be patient. Make sure the egg soaks into the ingredients before adding more egg to avoid overflow. Once you think the bread can take no more egg, step away for a few minutes to allow it to soak into the bread. Then you should be able to add the rest.
  8. Once the baguette is full to the brim of eggs and other delicious things, sprinkle the onion greens on top and additional cheese if you would like.
  9. Bake for 55-65 minutes, or until the center of the egg mixture has set. If your bread starts getting too brown, you can cover it with foil.
  10. Once fully cooked, remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Slice and serve. Enjoy!

Wine Pairing: I mean you know my go-to for breakfast foods is a mimosa by this point, but I just had a sparkling Rose the other day around brunch-time and can’t help but think how nice these two would go together.

04FA0BB4-1612-4BBC-BE55-C5C4D16E82F6

Chimichurri Steak Pizza

One of the new kitchen toys Amanda received for Christmas was a baking steel. I had acquired one over the summer in an impulse purchase and we both love when one of us gets a new kitchen gadget upgrade. While we’ve both made a few recipes on our baking steels independently (let me tell ya, it’s a game changer), we decided to really test them out we needed a flatbread theme night. I had recently tried an out of the bow Asian-fusion pizza place and so I was interested in making something a little different than the normal pizzas. As you can probably tell from my trend of recipes, tomatoes don’t really excite me, and so traditional pizza doesn’t really excite me (much to my husband’s frustration). So for this DistanceDishes night, I wanted to make a pizza with some non-traditional theme and without tomato sauce.

Amanda’s Korean Styled pizza turned out excellent, and I will be making her recipe in the very near future as just her picture of the result made my mouth water (and you know how I feel about anything Bulgogi related). I wanted mine to be different enough, so I bring you the South American flavors in a flatbread with delicious chimmichurri as the sauce alternative. Each bite was an explosion of flavor, and so satisfying. If you don’t feel up for making a whole pizza out of these ingredients, the steak marinade is worth checking out alone. I was sneaking some bites as I assembled, and no part of this recipe disappoints. Don’t worry if you don’t have a baking steel, a stone or baking sheet will work just fine.

Steak Marinade Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp aji amarillo (Optional)
  • 1 tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Finely grated lime zest
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • 1/2 tsp Sharp Paprika
  • 1 lb flank steak or skirt steak, cut into large strips
  1. Whisk together all the marinade ingredients and pour over steak strips in a shallow dish or plastic bag. Cover and allow to marinate in the fridge overnight.
  2. After, remove the steak from the marinade and pat dry. In a skillet over medium-high heat, sear the strips of steak so that they have a nice brown color on the outside and are rare on the inside. Allow to rest for 5 minutes and then cut the strips into 1/2 inch cubes. This can be done ahead of time, or while your pizza oven is preheating.

39E47903-5870-44FB-AE4E-6D841686B92E

Chimichurri Pizza Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup curly parsley
  • 1/4 cup packed cilantro
  • 1 tsp dried mexican oregano
  • 7 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Juice 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Instructions: 

  1. Roughly chop the parsley, cilantro and the garlic in a small bowl or blender. Add the oregano, pepper flakes, salt, lemon juice and olive oil and stir to incorporate.
  2. Using an immersion blender (or the regular blender), pulse to for break up the herbs and garlic until you have a paste-like consistency, but can still make out individual herb pieces. It should be only about 10-20 seconds of blending needed. Store the sauce in the fridge until ready to assemble your pizza.

Pizza Ingredients:

  • Pizza crust of your choice, go as store bought or homemade as you want
  • Cornmeal for the bottom (if desired–you could also use semolina flour if you’d like)
  • Diced Red Onions
  • Diced Avocado
  • Fresh Cilantro
  • Diced Bell pepper
  • Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
  • Shredded Oaxaca Cheese
  • Chimichurri sauce from recipe above
  • Steak, cut into cubes from recipe above.

Assembly:

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F, and if you are using a stone or a steel, turn your oven on for at least 30 minutes before cooking so that the stone/steel can thoroughly heat.
  2. Roll out your pizza crust if needed. If transferring to a stone, sprinkle the back of a baking sheet or a pizza peel with cornmeal to form an even layer. Otherwise, sprinkle your baking sheet with cornmeal on the actual baking side. Place your pizza crust on top of this layer.
  3. Spread a layer of the Chimichurri sauce over the crust, top with the above listed toppings in the distribution of your choice. Place your baking sheet in the oven or slide the pizza off of the back of the baking sheet or peel and onto your stone/steel.
  4. Bake for 15-20 minutes until crust is slightly golden and cheese is melted. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before slicing. Enjoy!

Wine Pairing: Even though we’re talking steak here, with all the spices in the marinade and pizza sauce, I think a chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc would be a really nice pairing with the spicy flavors.

 

 

Ricotta Nutella Dessert Cups

Both Amanda and I had a rough go of our most recent round of recipes. We were feeling something sweet and indulgent, but our ambitious recipe ideas fell a bit short this time. While I still have faith that our original visions will someday come to fruition, you know what they say: “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss you’ll land among the stars.” Scientific accuracy of that phrase aside, these dessert cups were a happy accident when I was forced to improvise. Between having used up many of my ingredients on a failed casing for my nutella ricotta, I made this press in crust with the few essentials I still had on hand. The result was a savory complement to the sweetness of the chocolate hazlenut flavors in the filling.

At the end of the day, Amanda and I wanted to put our baking urges to good use and make something delicious. These little dessert cups, while not my original plan, did just that. They would be excellent for parties since they are bite sized, and would be sure to catch the attention of your guests (plus they can be assembled in advance–you know how I love that). However, you don’t need to wait for a party to enjoy this yummy treat.

Crust Cup Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup of canola oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Water if needed
  • A few drops of optional red food coloring

Ricotta Filling Ingredients:

  • 1 15-oz container of whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup of hazelnut chocolate spread, like Nutella
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • Chocolate shavings for garnish if desired

Instructions:

Make the Filling:

  1. If your ricotta cheese looks a little runny, it may be helpful to set the cheese over a strainer lined with cheesecloth, sitting on top of a bowl for drainage. Wrap the cheese in any leftover cheesecloth falling over the sides of the strainer and put something heavy on top. Allow to rest for 6 hours up to overnight in the fridge and allow it to drain.
  2. In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer or stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form.
  3. In another bowl, combine the ricotta, chocolate spread, powdered sugar and vanilla and stir until everything is well incorporated.
  4. Carefully fold in the whipped cream and chill the filling for at least 2 hours or until you are ready to use. Can be made at least 2 days in advance (but be careful because you might eat it all before it makes it to assembly).

Make the crust:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
  2. Whisk together the flour and the salt and make a well in the middle. Drizzle in the oil and combine with a fork until a dough forms. If it looks dry, add water, one tsp at a time until it comes together.  If you wanted to use the red food coloring, you can add it with the oil before adding to the flour to help it distribute evenly or you can add at the end to make a marbly pattern like mine pictured.
  3. Divide the dough into 12 balls in and press each one into a muffin tin so that it lines the bottoms and sides, like a cup.
  4. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the crust is dry. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before popping out of the muffin tins.
  5. If the top edges look a little rough, a microplane can help file off any craggly bits if that is something that might bother you, but otherwise you are ready to fill once the crust cups are fully cooled.

Assembly:

  1. Add the chocolate filling to a piping bag or plastic zip top bag with a bottom corner snipped off and pipe in to your cups.
  2. Top with shaved chocolate if desired or maybe even some chopped strawberry if you want to get fancy and enjoy! Keep chilled if not eating right away.

Cannoli Main

 

Wine Pairing: Maybe it’s because I made these around Valentines day (hence the red food dye), but I’m feeling a dryish Rose with this one. Something Maybe with berry undertones, but more on the tart side, that chocolate spread is sweet! 

 

 

Mushroom and Potato Galette with Manchego

Still on the heels of our favorite food competition shows, Amanda and I were looking for a new challenge. This time, we wanted to see if we could use a single ingredient in three different courses. Of course, one would want something that could be used both in a savory and sweet capacity, which does limit some options. Being an ingredient that I love in basically all forms, I chose the lovely, yet humble potato. I am quite sure I would be able to and enjoy going off on a Bubba-esque from Forrest Gump speech regarding all of the potato forms and how delicious each one is. So, for this challenge, the potato seemed like a natural and budget friendly choice.

For the appetizer, I was still feeling the effects of watching one too many Food Network chefs create some fancy tasting menus and so I wanted a delicate and pretty appetizer for the first course. While this one is a bit labor intensive, they are very delicious and would for sure impress at a gathering. The savory mushrooms and cheesy potatoes make for a lovely combination. Stay tuned for the other two courses!

Ingredients:

  • 1 potato, shredded and kept in a bowl of water until ready to use
  • 1 lb mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 oz manchego cheese, shredded
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • High smoke point oil for frying (like vegetable or canola)
  • Green onion for garnish

Instructions:

  1. In a small skillet over medium-high heat, add 1 tbsp of butter and add the shallots, garlic and the whites of the green onion. Saute until the shallots become translucent, about 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add the mushrooms to the pan and continue cooking until the mushrooms have released their moisture and have turned more brown, about 5 minutes.
  3. Mix together your shredded cheese and potatoes.
  4. Heat a cast iron skillet with about 2 tbsp of oil until the oil is shimmery.
  5. Spoon about 1 tablespoon worth of the potato/cheese mixture into the pan and flatten, and repeat until the skillet is full, but none of these potato beds are touching. You may be able to cook about 4-5 at a time.
  6. When the edges of the potatoes are beginning to look brown, after about 1-2 minutes, flip with a spatula and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.
  7. When crispy and brown, remove the hashbrown beds and drain on a cooling rack with a paper towel underneath.
  8. Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, plate with a spoonful of the mushrooms on top and garnish with the greens of the green onions. Enjoy!

Wine Pairing: The manchego cheese would probably go nicely with something simple, like Cabernet Sauvignon. 

Witchy Kale Hummus with Tomato Garlic “Snake” Sticks

Halloween and October is always a fun time for me, and I love to get fun with the spooky theming of the holiday. While last year Amanda and I made something sinfully sweet to celebrate the day, this year we wanted to go “Spooky savory.” Amanda went incredibly brave with a scarily unfamiliar protein to our kitchens, but I decided to go a different route. I’m not sure if I would have had the access to such a disparate delicacy, but I certainly did not have the enthusiasm or fortitude to seek it out. Instead, this dish is a much more accessible in terms of grocery availability and friendliness of flavors to all palates.

This white bean and kale hummus is as easy to make as it is crowd-pleasing. The green color, while also packing a nutritional punch throughout the year, is easy to incorporate into an Halloween party plans as a very appropriate, on theme, munchie. The breadstick snakes, while a bit more time consuming, really accent this dip with both visual and flavorful contributions. The tomato and herbs in the bread, while also making these “snakes” more colorful, pair excellently with the lemony-garlic flavors of the hummus. Whether you’re dressed as Frankenstein or Wonder Woman, this appetizer is sure to keep the horrors of “Hanger” away.

White Bean Hummus:

  • 1 can of great northern beans rinsed and drained
  • 3 tbsp tahini
  • juice from one lemon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1 1/2 cups packed kale (stalks removed–about 3 stalks)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Hummus Instructions:

  1. Add all ingredients to a food processor and blend until the kale is incorporated to your liking, and the mixture is smooth. I did mine for at least 5 minutes, so settle in.
  2. If you like room-temperature hummus, this is ready to serve immediately. However, I prefer mine chilled and allowed it to sit in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving. Could be made up to 3 days in advance and will last in the fridge in a sealed container for up to 5 days. Serve with “Snake” sticks or any hummus accompaniment of your choice.

Snake Breadsticks Ingredients

  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 2 1/4 tsp (1 packet) instant yeast
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp dried rosemary
  • Black sesame seeds for eye garnish
  • 1 egg+1 tsp water

Snake Bread Stick Instructions:

  1. Add the lukewarm water and the yeast to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Allow the yeast to sit with the water for 2-3 minutes while you prepare the rest of your ingredients.
  2. Add the flour on top of the yeast/water. then the salt (be sure it does not touch the yeast), tomato paste, garlic powder, basil, and rosemary. Turn the mixer to low speed for 1-2 minutes everything is mixed together. Then, mix on medium speed for 4-6 minutes until the dough is elastic and smooth.
  3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to sit for 45 minutes at room temperature.
  4. After those 45 minutes, preheat your oven to 300°F and turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 25 equal portions and roll into long strips. Make one end taper slightly to form the tail and keep the other end wide and flatten slightly to form the face. Repeat with all portions and place on a baking sheet in your preferred pose (slithering waves, coils, etc).
  5. Whisk the egg and water together in a small bowl and brush the egg wash over the prepared breadsticks. Add two black sesame seeds to the snake faces to form the eyes after the egg wash is applied.
  6. Bake at 300°F for 50 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before serving. Enjoy with the Witchy Hummus or as a spooky accompaniment to any dinner.

Wine Pairing: With the Mediterranean flavors of both the hummus and the bread, a refreshing Sangiovese would be a nice choice, but if you want to go all out, check out this “I’m Ready for Fall” cocktail that would be a great addition to any Halloween party.

IMG_3383

The “I’m Ready for Fall” Cocktail

While it might not feel like it to Amanda right now, or me for that matter, Fall is here! Alright, I might be feeling it a little bit more than Amanda (yay for 60° nights!) but I’m not really there quite yet (ugh, 85° days…). If I can’t bust out my knee-high boots and box of scarves just yet, I at least want to sip some flavors of Fall while I light my “Scents of Fall” candle and pretend my nose is a little chilly.  This cocktail did just that.

With cinnamon, nutmeg and notes of ginger, this yummy adult beverage leaves the familiar comfort of Fall desserts on your tongue and the rum sure does help to make your tummy warm, even if it is too warm outside for something more of the Hot Toddy variety. This is also a great way to utilize that delicious, seasonal, apple cider hitting the shelves right now. Feel free to make yours a little cider heavy, it’s always a tasty choice.

Ingredients:

  • 2 parts spiced dark rum
  • 1 part ginger beer
  • 1 part orange juice
  • 1 part apple cider
  • Splash of lemon juice
  • Dash of nutmeg
  • Dash of cinnamon

Instructions:

  1. Stir all ingredients together* and pour over ice. If you want to get fancy, rim a glass with some cinnamon sugar and stick in a cinnamon stick. Enjoy!

*Note: I did use my cocktail shaker for this one, and it does work but just be warned that ginger beer has bubbles and will expand when agitated as my kitchen floor soon found out. I’m sure you all knew that but I’m not good at carbonation. okay? 

 

Image

“White Walker” Cocktail

Tonight is the season 7 finale of Game of Thrones, and after this season and especially after the last few episodes (no real spoilers, I promise) I think we all need a drink. The Night King, with his steely gaze, has been quite the busy boy lately. I’ve always been a fan of blue drinks anyway, so I thought a cocktail in his and the other White Walkers’ honor (or to sip while we hate-watch him) sounded like the perfect beverage to enjoy at the close of the season.

The juices in this drink are not tropical, as that seemed inappropriate with the White Walkers inhabiting the snowy land beyond the wall, but they still combine to make a delicious mixture that might make even the Night’s Watch jealous.

Ingredients: 

  • 2 parts Vodka
  • 3 parts Hypnotiq
  • 1 part Apple Juice
  • 1 Part White Cranberry Juice
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  1. Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with 2-3 cubes of ice and shake until the outside of the shaker gets uncomfortably cold to hold.
  2. Strain into a martini glass rimmed with sugar or frosting if you desire (although no lining needed to enjoy!). You could even add a rock candy javeli— *ahem* –stirrer if you’d like.
  3. Get ready to watch Game of Thrones and pray your favorite characters make it through the night.

 

IMG_3155

Sushi Two Ways–Fish free

Well, it’s the middle of summer and it…is…HOT! As if the outside temperature weren’t enough, my giant kitchen windows face west. While having the setting sun’s rays streaming across my prep areas is aesthetically pleasing, it certainly raises the temperature of the kitchen noticeably. This, combined with the fact that the oven loves to radiate heat in any way it can makes for a sweaty dinner preparation. After a long day, any recipe that allows me to keep my cool is welcome in my house in the peak of summer for sure.

While my spring rolls are also a great choice, I do like to look towards sushi in times of serious heat. While it does involve cooking the rice, those of us lucky enough to automatic rice cookers (you’ll have to pry that appliance from my fingers–I’m never living without one) means that we can push the button and run away.

Since my palette has not quite graduated to raw fish, and living in a landlocked state hardly places confidence in any fish available, I love to make this fruit sushi as inspired from DK Sushi in Austin. About once every few months I get a craving for these flavors that can only be quenched by bringing out the sushi mat. For a more savory version, I have also made a cucumber and turkey roll that showcases the regional favorite, provel cheese.

If this post has ignited a need for sushi but you’re still craving that fish, I’d suggest checking out Amanda’s too-hot-to-cook post, the Poke Bowl with Avocado Rice, for some fish marinade suggestions that can easily be incorporated into a roll of your choice. For now though, enjoy these alternative options!

Yogurt Drizzle Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup of strawberry yogurt
  • 2 tbsp pineapple juice
  • 1 tsp sugar

Instructions:

  1. Stir together the yogurt, pineapple juice and sugar until you have a smooth consistency and sugar is dissolved. Chill until ready to serve.

Sushi Rice Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of uncooked, short grain white rice
  • Water
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp salt

Instructions:

  1. Rinse the uncooked rice in cold water until the water is clear (this is very important!). I usually like to add rice and water to the pot in which I’ll be cooking and then use my hand as a claw to agitate the starches. Then drain the starchy water and repeat until the water is clear.
  2. Add 2 cups of fresh water to the rice pot and either cook using a rice cooker or the traditional method (bring to boil over stove, cover and cook on low heat for 15 minutes and fluff).
  3. Add the sugar, rice wine vinegar and salt to the rice and stir until well incorporated. Traditionally these are heated together to form a syrup but we’re trying to use heat as little as possible here and I find the residual rice heat can help dissolve the granules.
  4. Allow rice to cool for 15-20 minutes. It can still be slightly warm when you are ready to assemble.

Sushi Assembly Ingredients:

  • Fresh Pineapple, thinly sliced
  • Apple, peeled and sliced into matchsticks
  • Avocado, sliced
  • Fresh Mango
  • Strawberries, sliced
  • Nori Sheets
  • Black sesame seeds

Instructions:

  1. Sprinkle the black sesame seeds over your sushi mat and then spread 1/3 of your rice evenly onto the mat it in a square, about 1/4″ shorter than the nori height. Then add the nori, shiny side down.
  2. Place the slices of avocado, apple and pineapple about 2/3 of the way down the nori sheet trying to fill in as many gaps as possible. However, try not to overfill.
  3. Roll your mat over the filling ingredients and continue to roll. s you complete a rotation, press to make sure the roll is coming together. Pull the mat away from the roll as you keep going.
  4. Slice the roll into 8 equal portions.
  5. Using a vegetable peeler, peel slices of mango so you have a small 1 inch sheet of mango.
  6. With a pastry brush or your finger, brush a little bit of your yogurt drizzle onto the mango sheet and lay it over the top of one of your sushi pieces. Place a slice of strawberry on top.
  7. Once all pieces are assembled, drizzle the yogurt over top and enjoy!IMG_2880IMG_2882

Quick Cucumber and Turkey Sushi

  • Sushi Rice
  • Nori Sheets
  • Cucumber, seeded and sliced into matchsticks
  • Provel cheese (can also use cream cheese)
  • Sliced turkey, deli meat.

Instructions:

  1. Place the nori sheet, shiny side down on your sushi mat. Spread a thin, even layer of your sushi rice over the nori sheet and leave about 1/4″ of the nori visible at the top.
  2. Place the cucumber, turkey and cheese about 2/3 down the nori sheet avoiding gaps.
  3. Roll your sushi; when you get to the top, brush some water onto the nori to help it seal itself.
  4. Slice into 8 equal portions and enjoy.

Wine Pairing: Obviously, we’re going for refreshing here so a chilled white or rose wine sounds fitting. Something like a riesling is an excellent choice!

A Trio of Tea Sandwiches

While reality television has never quite captured my attention, Amanda has recently gotten me hooked on a little show about the elite of Charleston called Southern Charm. The fourth season recently premiered and the Amanda household was kind enough to include me via Skype for their premier-watching party. Naturally, I wanted to make a meal that allowed me to feel the elegance and flavors of the south and to celebrate with the Florida crew in spirit.

I wanted to make something light, summery, and fancy-feeling that both touched on a southern classic (pimento cheese! yum!) but also represented the class of our favorite character on the show. Therefore, this trio of tea sandwiches–two savory and one sweet–was the perfect option for a viewing party (even if it was a party of one) and let me pretend I was one of the Southern Charm gang at one of their fancy garden parties (but without any drama or drinks thrown in faces).

Spicy Cilantro Cucumber Sandwich:

  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  • 4 oz can green chiles
  • 1 cup spinach leaves
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 4 oz sharp cheddar cheese, freshly shredded
  • 1/2 cucumber, peeled and sliced thinly

Instructions:

  1. Combine cilantro, spinach, chiles, jalapeno and lime juice in a food processor and pulse until you have a fine puree. Add this mixture to a small bowl with the cream cheese and stir until combined. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. Spread the cream cheese mixture onto 3 of the white bread slices and top with cucumber slices. Top with the other 3 slices of bread to form 3 separate sandwiches.
  3. Trim edges and slice into triangles, and they are now ready to serve!

Pimento & Pulled Chicken Tea Sandwich:

  • 4 oz of cream cheese
  • 2 cups cooked chicken breast, shredded
  • 4 oz jar of pimento peppers, drained and rinsed
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup greek yogurt
  • 2 tsp hot sauce
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 6 slices of white bread

Instructions:

  1. Mix together the all ingredients (it does make it a bit easier if the chicken is still warm).
  2. Spread onto 3 slices of the white bread as thick and even as you can manage.
  3. Top with the other 3 slices of white bread to form 3 sandwiches.
  4. Trim edges and slice into triangles. Ready to serve!

Sweet Strawberry Mascarpone Tea Sandwich

  • 3/4 cup of strawberries, trimmed of greens and roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 8 oz mascarpone cheese
  • Loaf of angel food cake or pound cake
  • 3-4 large strawberries, trimmed of greens and sliced longways-thinly

Instructions:

  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, add the strawberries, sugar and salt and cook for about 5 minutes until the sugar is liquified and the strawberries are mushy
  2. Pass this mixture through a fine sieve to filter out the seeds and allow to cool slightly.
  3. Once cooled, mix together the strawberry puree and the mascarpone cheese until fully incorporated and there are no white specs in the cheese.
  4. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to allow the cheese to cool.
  5. Slice the angel food cake/pound cake into 1/4″ thick slices.
  6. Spread the strawberry mascarpone onto one slice of bread and then top with sliced strawberries. Add another slice of the cake to the top. Trim edges and slice into triangles. Ready to Serve!

Drink Pairing: With these yummy sandwiches, I decided to forego wine this time in favor of a more Charleston representative cocktail: 2 parts firefly sweet tea vodka, 2 parts pink lemonade and 1 part firefly peach tea moonshine. Be warned though, these little numbers are tasty and dangerous. 

IMG_2202