Costa Rican Breakfast

Costa Rican Breakfast

Costa Rican Breakfast

There’s something people don’t tell you about Costa Rica:  time slows (almost) all the way dooowwwnn.  It’s magic.  Like time gets stripped away leaving luxuriously long mornings followed by, luxuriously lazy afternoons, followed by impeccable… truly impeccable sunsets.

It’s like island life.  But not an island.  It’s beach life.  The sun stays high and the air is just mellow.  Completely mellow.  

I visited Costa Rica last year and still wonder about the paradise-heavy time warp.  Why does that happen in Costa Rica and not on any given Wednesday in my New Orleans life?  

Here’s hoping the Costa Rican time warp can be a state of mind no matter what my longitude and latitude.

I suppose it starts with breakfast.  Shall we?   

Ps.  When I returned from Costa Rica last year I made this Banana y Leche con Cafe and I don’t regret it one bit.  

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Sweet Plum Sorbet

Sweet Plum Sorbet

Sweet Plum Sorbet

I always wanted a ponytail.  A ponytail I could position extra high on my head with hair long enough to cascade down to my shoulders, cheerleader-style, youthful, bouncy.  The kind of hair, that you can flip around to express various emotions, from bitchy to bored to flirty.  

I don’t have ponytail hair.  Never did.  

What I’ve always had is a fine, curly, frizzy, perfectly acceptable, head of hair that I’m completely grateful for.  It’s just not ponytail hair.  It’s not hair I can whip around to express my enthusiasm for life.  

That’s how hair works, right?  

Summer fruit, all of the gorgeous peaches, apricots, strawberries, and plums… they’re like a gorgeous, shiny, lustrous, perfectly bouncy, high ponytail.  Showing off, effortless… a little enviable even.  

Luckily, no matter what hair grows from our head, high ponytail or not… it’s our time.  It’s Summer and the markets are bursting with sweet fruit flavors.  Let’s get at em!

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Mango and Jalapeño Guacamole

Mango and Jalapeño Guacamole

Mango and Jalapeño Guacamole

Sure, you could make this irresistible guacamole for a backyard barbecue, or a block party, a brunch party maybe… any event that would take you out of your pajamas, off of your couch, and into the presence of other people (gasp.) OR… you could make a giant bowl of this guacamole, keep your pajamas on and settle in for a good, old-fashioned Netflix binge.  I mean.  To me, the choice is clear.

Choose your own adventure.  I will often choose pajamas and privacy, especially where guacamole is involved. 

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Fresh Raspberry and Gin Slushies

Fresh Raspberry and Gin Slushies

Fresh Raspberry and Gin Slushies

I have very fond memories of a stained red tongue, way sticky fingers, and a messy stained t-shirt from those convenience store/ cherry-sweet slurpees.  You know… the ones that come with that long plastic straw with the scooper on the end?  Heaven for an eight year old.  Follow that slupree with a good run through the sprinklers and I’m pretty sure there was nothing better.  

We’re grown now (right?).  We have bills to pay and really… I don’t think we give ourselves enough time for slurpees.  

Fresh Raspberry and Gin Slushies

Until now.  

Say hello to adult slurpee-ing featuring fresh raspberries, lime, and  hallelujah for gin!  

We can skip the sticky fingers and stained shirts these days, but I really wouldn’t be above a god run through the sprinklers.  

Let’s go! 

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Peach and Buttermilk Lassi

Peach and Buttermilk Lassi

Peach and Buttermilk Lassi

I‘d easily enjoy a daily diet of milkshakes and french fries.  Steady. I’d never flinch.  It would be a dream.  

In related news, I just spent the last six minutes browsing milk shake machines on Amazon.  

Milkshake diet aside, I’m currently content with my fresh peaches, yogurt, and blender.  It’s the reasonable alternative to milkshakes day and night. 

This lassi is packed with healthful yogurt, fresh summer peaches, tangy buttermilk, and peach pie spice.  The fact that it’s flecked with peach skin feels like a bonus.  It’s summery, healthy, chilled, and supremely refreshing.  

I hope it makes you happy.  Also, I’d totally want cheese on my fries.  

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Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Angel Food Cupcakes with strawberries

Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Angel Food Cupcakes with strawberries and coconut cream

Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Angel Food Cupcakes with strawberries and coconut cream

Before I was tall enough to see over and into the ice cream case at the drug store my very favorite flavor was strawberry ice cream.

I remember the ritual very well because going out for ice cream was so rare and such a treasure my eyes widen now just thinking about it.  

A scooper girl, teen-aged and likely grumpy, would wrap a small piece of tissue paper around a flat-bottomed, kinda cardboard-y cone.  She’d bend forward into the case with an ice cream scoop and emerge with a gorgeously haphazard ball of pale pink, strawberry studded, frozen cream that she’d precariously shape onto the cone.  The treasure would be passed first to my mother, who your take a giant bite out of the cone before handing it down to me.  Let’s not even talk about how frustrating it is to watch your precious ice cream being BITTEN INTO… that’s just childhood, you don’t make the rules but you do occasionally get ice cream.  I’d hold onto the cone carefully but mostly desperately, willing myself not to lick the ice cream off its perch.  

These fluffy strawberry and cream cakes remind me of the days when I was much younger, shorter, and didn’t have to buy my own ice cream.  Those are precious days, indeed.

Oh.  Quick note… once I got taller and could see inside the ice cream case for myself… my favorite flavor was that neon blue bubble gum ice cream.  BUBBLE GUM in ice cream.  Two treats in one!  Such a loophole.  Also disgusting. 

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Watermelon Peach Caprese Salad

Watermelon Peach Caprese Salad

Watermelon Peach Caprese Salad

Yea.  I definitely stood in the kitchen, staring at this gorgeous summer salad, wondering/hoping/wishing/longing to put all of these ingredients between two slices of bread to make an extra buttery, extra mozzarella-y grilled cheese.  

I think watermelon in a sandwich might be out-of-bounds.  I think this ultra fresh summer salad belongs on a plate with a knife and fork.  I think I just want to turn everything into a grilled cheese sandwich.  

Related:  Lasagna Grilled Cheese

 Summery goodness!  And the great news is that tomatoes and watermelon are only going to get better as we get deeper into summer.  

Now excuse me while I go daydream more grilled cheese situations.  

Watermelon Peach Caprese Salad

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Lavender-Infused Mom Collins

Mom Collins

Mom Collins

Good ol’ Tom Collins is about to get all gussied up.

The classic Tom Collins cocktail is a simple mixture of gin, fresh lemon juice, sugar, and sparkling water.  Essentially, sparkling gin lemonade.  Undeniably delicious and summery.  

This Mother’s Day update includes floral lavender which plays very well with herbaceous gin and bright lemon.  Essentially, we’re giving this classic cocktail and sweet and feminine twist because we’re endlessly clever and thirsty.  

Cheers!

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Kiwi Mint Mojitos

Kiwi Mint Mojitos

Kiwi Mint Mojitos

It’s time we start perfecting our Porch Sit game.  

A Porch Sit is a late-afternoon gathering of friends, neighbors, a dog or two, a guitar or harmonica (optional), overlapping conversations, and sweet cold cocktails.  

A Porch Sit is vital to summer, happy relationships, and good health.  They stretch on into the evening and usually coincide with snacks, some sort of pasta salad, and a small dose of half-whispered gossip.

Cocktails are only part of the equation.  Part but essential.   

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How To Make The Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

The Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

The Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Im not one for secrets.  Especially where chocolate is involved. 

I always have a few tricks up my sleeve and I can never keep them secrets for long.  Brown sugar baked bacon is one secret.  Sweet, salty, crisp, and perfect.  Adding that bacon to biscuits,  completely over the top good!  Brown butter in everything, most especially chocolate chip cookies…. another secret I just couldn’t keep to myself.  

Today another secret comes out.  We’re talking about the most perfect Chocolate Buttercream Frosting.  Soft, glossy, light and spreadable… and the secret ingredients are Rich Chocolate Ovaltine and heavy cream!  Malted chocolate milk powder and cream to add extra body, and a light whipped texture to our frosting.  It’s unexpected and perfect!  

I hope there is cake (and waaaay too much buttercream) in your future.  

The Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Here’s what you’ll need:

• Three sticks (1 1/2 cups or 12 ounces) softened, unsalted butter.  I think it’s best to leave the butter out overnight to softened to room temperature through and through.  Softening butter in the microwave makes the butter more melty than soft and can break our perfect buttercream,  

•  Unsweetened cocoa powder, and lots of it.

•  Salt, to balance the mountain of powdered sugar.

•  A mountain of powdered sugar. 

•  Milk for moisture and softness.

•  Rich Chocolate Ovaltine, the chocolate malted milk powder adds a creamy softness to this buttercream and makes it extra rich, glossy, and luscious.  

•  Heavy cream because, always.  

•  Extra credit:  pure vanilla extract.  

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Peanut Butter Bacon and Dark Chocolate Cookies

Peanut Butter Bacon and Dark Chocolate

Peanut Butter Bacon and Dark Chocolate

These cookies are asking for your attention.  Not so much begging or pleading, but asking nicely for you to pay attention.  

They’re here to tell you that they’re a little to big, a little too sweet, have a little too much bacon, and yea… too much chocolate, too.  They’re crisp and they don’t care about your affection for chewy.  They’re gluten-free, but really… they never needed gluten in the first place.  They’re the boss.  They know it.  Don’t play.

Peanut Butter.

Bacon.  

Dark Chocolate.  

Get on the bandwagon before these cookies raise their voice.  Nobody wants that. 

See also:  Peanut Butter Bacon Pancakes.  Sorry.  Also, not sorry. 

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Gluten-Free and Gluten-Full Zucchini Pistachio Bread

Gluten-Free and Gluten-Full Zucchini Pistachio Bread

Gluten-Free and Gluten-Full Zucchini Pistachio Bread

First things first when moving into a new kitchen:  figure out where to put your silverware and your stand mixer.  Second things second when moving into a new kitchen:  make some sort of spiced quick-bread to make the whole house smell exactly like home.  

I’m a strong believer in this theory.  It’s important to make a house smell like a home, and no amount of banana bread scented candles will do the trick.  They would do the opposite of the trick.  

Last time I moved:  banana bread.  

This go’round:  zucchini bread two ways, gluten-free and waaay gluten-full.  Experiments and good smells all up in this new kitchen!

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Sausage and Mushroom Risotto

Sausage and Mushroom Risotto

Sausage and Mushroom Risotto

As I move through the days, the months, the year, the seasons, I’ve noticed that my body always tells me what I need.  These days it’s all citrus juices and earth flavors.  Don’t get me wrong, I generally move through my days filling my body with coffee and sugar in various forms, paying very little attention to the little voice inside me crying for baby carrots.  

These days my cravings have been undeniable.  I want big bowl of warm goodness that make me feel like I have my feet on the ground.  This earthy and salty risotto is undeniably grounding, comforting, warm, and otherwise perfect.

This is the first time I’ve made risotto on the stovetop.  I’ll walk you through my technique and mild panic.  

If the stirring is more than you can handle (no judgement, I get it), you can try this Baked Lemon Risotto.  One stir and some quality oven time.  A dream, really! 

And!  For sweeter Arborio rice indulgences:  Maple Ginger Rice Pudding.  In other words, I’m not leaving my house again until I need to go stock up on more rice.  Until then, I’ll have the Do Not Disturb sign on my door. Thaaaanks! 

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Winter Citrus Booster with ginger and sweet potato

Winter Citrus Booster with ginger and sweet potato

Winter Citrus Booster with ginger and sweet potato

Cold season?  Nope.  Not going to do it.  Flu season?  Get right outta here with all that.  Sniffles?  Congestion?  The general drags?  Nobody has time for all that.

To keep the sickness bugs at bay as the days frost over and chill, I’m shoving every whole and healthy bit of produce I have into my juicer.  This version is heavy on the big, bright citrus of Winter, and spiked with spicy fresh ginger.

There’s no way a cold is getting me down.  #knockonwood

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Curry Roasted Acorn Squash

curry roasted acorn squash (4)

curry roasted acorn squash (3)

I‘m back in my kitchen this week… back from making pies with you up and down the east coast… back from gently and not so gently asking you to buy my dang book… back to my roasting pan.

curry roasted acorn squash

This acorn squash was patiently awaiting my return.  Just sitting tight, waiting to be more than it already is.

I hacked my way through the protective skin (didn’t even lose a finger), removed the seeds, sliced, and drizzled.

This is the result of those efforts.  Let’s make it together… I mean, right!?

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Sausage, Cheddar and Grits Frittata

Sausage, Cheddar, and Grits Frittata

Sausage Cheddar and Grits Frittata

I fell down such a strange Internet rabbit hole this week.  There were makeup tutorial videos, doomsday prepper podcasts, and a weird amount of frittata recipe googling.

While I still don’t know how to properly apply bronzer or survive the apocalypse, I can make one damn fine frittata.  Award-winning  (according to me).

Frittata is Italian for “I’m too lazy to make quiche crust.” It’s a simple baked egg dish that can house just about any filling that you can dream up and can be served morning, noon, or night.  Wow.  Frittata is also Italian for “Eat this. You’re welcome.” Don’t worry.  I’m fluent.

Whatever we do, can we not call it a crustless quiche?  That just sounds sad and lazy and makes me wonder who is enjoying crust without me.

Let’s talk about this frittata, because I sure did put grits in it, and I’m not even sorry.

Sausage Cheddar and Grits Frittata

 This frittata (as the name above would suggest) is home to spicy Italian sausage and cheddar cheese.  Eggs of course, because a frittata isn’t a frittata without eggs.  The HECK YES elements of this frittata are the dollops of cheesy chives grits that stud the dish.  Soft creamy eggs meets cheesy baked grits?  Spicy and sausage, too?  It’s a very good idea.

Weekend breakfast idea complete.  You should drink more coffee and keep your pajama pants on until at least 3pm.  For sure.

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Apple + Fennel with Pistachio + Apricot

apple + fennel with apricot + pistachio

It feels like we’re in the middle of things.  Like we have to begrudgingly set down our watermelon and water balloons and pick up our infinity scarf and pumpkin spice latte.  Seasons don’t happen in a snap.  There’s a transition period… a kind of grace that allows us to take a deep breath, absorb our days of sunshine and beach breezes to ready ourselves for the crisp nights and spiced cider.  What we crave in the transition can be tricky.  I find myself gobbling all of the peaches and dreaming of apple fritters.  Truth be told, I’m always dreaming of apple fritters, that’s no surprise.

apple + fennel with apricot + pistachio salad

This salad feels like a lovely transition.  Fresh apple and fennel make it easy to move into Autumn.  It’s no time to crank up the oven for a roast when I find myself still craving fresh and bright flavors.

We’re also adding fresh arugula for its peppery notes, salty roasted pistachios, sweet dried apricots, and salty parmesan cheese.  It’s all about balance!

This recipe is inspired by Chef Nathan Lyon.  His seasonal cookbook is a staple in my kitchen.

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Roasted Tomato and Feta Guacamole

roasted tomato and feta guacamole

roasted tomato and feta guacamole

I wish there was some sort of Willy Wonka-style candy factory that produced savory avocado delights instead of candy.  In addition to that statement making me sound stone-cold craaaazy, the reality of that sort of factory would be absolutely AMAZING!  Don’t lie.  You want in.

I’d totally Veruca Salt my way all up in there.  No shame.

Since there is no fantasy-land avocado factory I’ve settled for roasting a big ol’ bunch of cherry tomatoes, and tossing them (along with just a little too much feta) into a batch of creamy do-no-wrong guacamole.

Roasted Tomato and Feta Guacamole

Don’t roasted cherry tomatoes look a little bit like candy?  If candy were vegetable.

Related and rhetorical:  why won’t I shut up about candy!?

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Peach and Cardamom Lemonade

peach and cardamom lemonade

Peach and Cardamom Lemonade

It would seem as though I’m trying to drink my way through the rainbow, lemonade style.  First there was bright red with Beet Lemonade.  Here we have a  pretty peachy-orange color with Peach Cardamom Lemonade.  We also worked in the deep purple with Fresh Blueberry Mint Lemonade.

I’ve missed green lemonade but I figure we can work some sort of cucumber jalapeño situation into our future.

I’ll tell you now, I’m showing no signs of stopping this drinkable rainbow.  Hop on the lemonade train now!  I know you’re thirsty.

Peach and Cardamom Lemonade

This Summer is brought to you by lemons, over-ripe fruit, and a dose of sugar.  Cheers to us!

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Raspberry and Pomegranate Smoothie with Green Tea Ice Cubes

raspberry pomegranate smoothie with green tea ice cubes

raspberry pomegranate smoothie with green tea ice cubes

Don’t look at me with those sad-clown eyes (wait… is that a thing?).  It can’t be all Peach Cobbler Cinnamon Rolls around here.  That’s unrealistic (though delicious) and downright daunting (though delicious).

When the day’s diet turns a bit too indulgent, I reach for a blender and try to coax whatever fresh ingredients I have into a healthy smoothie.  It’s not rocket science… it’s mostly just fruit and almond milk.  You know the old song and dance.

If you take away any little gem of inspiration from this smoothie concoction, please let it be the Green Tea Ice Cubes.  Though so so simple, these little blocks kinda thrill me.  All the antioxidants and good vibes of green tea, frozen into a smoothie friendly cube and ready for blending.  It’s a clever way to add more nutrients to our smoothie meal!  I’m into it.

Raspberry Pomegranate Smoothie

My favorite smoothie boosters include:

•  Chia seeds for their omega powers

•  Maca powder for energy

•  Aloha Green Juice Powder for a major boost of green and minerals

•  Raw Meal Protein Powder for a vegan, gluten, and dairy free protein bang

•  Big handfuls of kale, cucumber chunks, and not bacon.  Whatever you do, don’t add bacon.

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