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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Fresh Blueberry and Mint Lemonade

Fresh Blueberry and Mint Lemonade

Fresh Blueberry and Mint Lemonade

Can we talk about lemonade?

Actually.  Proper question: can we talk about lemonade again and probably again and again after that?

Last week we experienced Beet Lemonade, all bright pink and sweet and totally showing off.  Today it’s Blueberry Mint Lemonade, all deep and purple and tart… and totally showing off.

This lemonade comes together with exactly those fresh berries languishing in the back of your refrigerator.  They’re getting wrinkly.  You know the ones.  Throw those little darlings in a blender with fresh mint, stems and all… and here we are, on the fantastic side of refreshment.

This recipe is again inspired by The Lemonade Cookbook because it’s lovely and I’m thirsty.

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Snap Pea, Watermelon, and Edamame Salad with Sesame Vinaigrette

Snap Pea, Edamame, and Watermelon Salad

Snap Pea, Edamame, and Watermelon Salad

I’m in need of a California salad.  The kind that’s heavy on the green, unique, full of protein and surprises, and just generally sexy.  The kind of salad that would wear super expensive yoga pants… if a salad could wear yoga pants (because that totally makes sense).  The kind of salad that Gwyneth Paltrow would order if she were slumming it.  You know the stuff.

That’s exactly the sort of salad I’ve been craving.

Besides… I’ve had a watermelon on the counter staring me down and this week I’ve found the perfect combination of hunger, energy, and guilt to actually slice into it.

Come on, let’s salad!

Snap Pea, Watermelon, and Edamame Salad with Sesame Vinaigrette

This recipe is inspired by The Lemonade Cookbook.  Loads of great sandwich, salad, and well… lemonade inspiration in this super fresh, California cuisine book.

I love combining greens and sweet fruit in the summer.  It’s pretty amazing that watermelon and onions can find their way into a dish together and work as a team, right?

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Peanut Butter Banana Bonbons

Peanut Butter Banana Bonbons

Peanut Butter Banana Bonbons

I lay in bed some mornings trying to will my food brain into action.

On the particular morning that these Banana Bonbon things were born into my brain, I was lying in bed thinking that I’d really like to eat Oreo cookies… but I’d like them to be frozen… and then maybe I could smear peanut butter on top… except that’s crazy… crazy good!!!

No food brain.  No.  Be reasonable.  (That’s what I think to myself as I lay in bed thinking about Oreo cookies first thing in the morning.)  We need more fruit.  Can we turn bananas into cookies?  Yes.  Let’s add peanut butter… and probably chocolate while we’re at it… and we’re going to need something crunchy… peanuts!   And let’s pull that awesome coconut oil trick to make a the chocolate as smooth as can be.

Alright food brain.  Good job!  Essentially you’ve created a chocolate-dipped frozen banana and found a way to smash peanut butter inside.  You started with Oreos cookies and, well… here we are.

Peanut Butter Banana Bonbons

Think of these frozen treats as mini banana peanut butter sandwiches dipped in chocolate an topped with peanuts.  It’s beyond easy and might be one of the better ideas ever on the Internet.  Speaking of the Internet, these treats are aaaallll over the dang thing, which just goes to show that no matter how hard my food brain works, it’s impossible to think of anything brand-spankin’ new.  Still though…. still delicious!  Just saying…

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Cauliflower Rice Burrito Bowl

Cauliflower Rice Burrito Bowl

Be advised:  It would be best not to get in between me and my burrito.

I’m talking about the kind of burrito that’s the size of a newborn baby and served, covered in cheese and red sauce, on a scalding hot that plate that I always touch even thought I’m cautioned against it.  The kind of burrito that is filled with so much cheese, so much rice, so much stewed beef, so much guacamole… it feels as right as it does obscene.

Yea… don’t get in between me and that burrito.  It’s probably best if we don’t even make eye contact.

This (thankfully/sadly) is not that burrito.

Let’s welcome cauliflower to the table.  We’ll set aside all the beef, red sauce, and most of the cheese momentarily.

cauliflower rice burrito bowls

This recipe starts with Cauliflower Rice which I’m pretty sure is ALL THE RAGE on paleo blogs.  I make the opposite of a paleo blog, so…. this might seem a little strange.

We’re talking about the simple art of turning raw cauliflower florets into little bits of simulated rice.  It’s good, it’s really really good!

cauliflower rice burrito bowls

Cauliflower + Food Processor = Cauliflower Rice.

I used a purple and green cauliflower, not because I’m fancy, mostly because that’s what looked fresh at the grocery.

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Pistachio Crusted Asparagus with Feta

Pistachio Crusted Asparagus with Feta

I had a little taste of Asheville, North Carolina waiting for me when I returned to New Orleans last week.   It wasn’t a warm mochas or a drinkable caramel, sadly… but those are fleeting anyhow.  I found my friend Ashley’s book Handmade Gatherings waiting for my in my mailbox!  The very same Ashley that writes about chickens and bees, and had me in a stone-bottomed river bed pretending to be warm for a Spring picnic photoshoot.  Needles to say, Ashley is always welcome in my world.  I usually just need boots, a sweater, and an empty stomach.

I found this recipe flipping through the Spring pages of Handmade Gatherings.  Asparagus meets pistachios.  Roasted tender and crunchy.  Green on green.  Salty and fresh.  From the recipe title alone I knew it would be exactly right.

Spot on!  This is dish is all balance and heart.  Good timing.  I was just starting to miss those endless waves of green-blooming Blue Ridge Mountains.  Asparagus will step in where the mountain-longing creeps in.

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Sesame Kale Salad with Roasted Almonds

Sesame Kale Salad with Roasted Almonds

I’m in need of some greens.  The gnarly kind.  The kind that bite back.

Clearly kale is the answer.   It’s clean and crunchy and that’s where we’re starting for today.

Sesame Kale Salad with Roasted Almonds

The very back of the pantry is like a treasure trove of forgotten bottles and spices.  I dug out my neglected bottle of sesame oil and rice wine vinegar for this clean and crunchy salad.  They’re just the right ingredients to tame the taste and texture of raw kale.

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Roasted Cauliflower Soup with Cumin

roasted cauliflower soup with cumin

I got a real taste of what most of you have endured this winter.

I was in New York City most of last week and… whoa.  Weather is real.  The snow!  The slush!  A snow plow scared me half to death. They go so fast!  Why did I think they operated at the speed of a zamboni? The shovel and footwear requirements are remarkable. Lastly… freezing rain is 100% unacceptable.

All of this is to say that you deserve a reward, a medal of honor, extra hot fudge on your sundae… something, everything, whatever you want you should have it.

I’m back in California nearly buried in packing boxes, but at least they’re not frozen.  To honor you, I’ve made soup.  It’s roasty toasty cauliflower with earthy cumin and happy curry.  Totally comforting.  You might consider pairing with some sort of cheesy bread situation.  Also ear muffs.  You’re a champion. Stay warm!

roasted cauliflower soup with cumin

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