March 2009


irish_scones

It’s that time of the year again: St. Patty’s Day! I’ve been reminded of my fondness for Irish soda bread thanks to the bombardment of St. Patty’s themed emails from various foodie websites. I also have a deep love (and a hankering) for scones lately, too, so I was happily surprised when I stumbled upon this recipe for Irish soda bread scones — two in one! These scones are also great because I can bake a batch or two and give them away as treats on March 17th.

This recipe is very simple and virtually foolproof, especially for novice bakers. I love these scones because they’re more bread- than cake-like and not too sweet: the perfect blank canvas for butter and jam. They’d also be great with raisins or currants, spices (i.e.: cinnamon, ginger), chocolate chips, or even green food coloring! Start off your St. Patrick’s Day with one of these warm delights topped with your favorite spread or dunked in your morning coffee (they’ll help soak up the booze you’ll be probably consume later on, too). (more…)

skittles_vodka

Skittles are pretty tasty by themselves (excluding those chocolate abominations), and vodka is just wonderful, but maybe not on it’s own. So what if you combined the two? Skittles-infused vodka: two great tastes that taste great together. You get the sweet, synthetic flavors and a great buzz all in the same swallow. I stumbled across this entertaining article about how to infuse vodka with Skittles candy.

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bistro_burger

The weather here in the Tampa Bay area has been absolutely gorgeous lately, an has put me in the mood for some grilling action. I’ve had a hankering for a big juicy burger for ages, but I wanted to try something different than a plain old patty with American cheese on a boring bun.

I was at the book store and noticed the Sutter Home Build a Better Burger cook-off cookbook in the bargain section. It inspired me to create a gourmet burger of my own (and also reminded me that I had forgotten to enter last year, again). I didn’t find any one particular recipe that I wanted to use, but it got my creative juices flowing. Fortunately, being a foodie, I usually have all sorts of fancy cheeses, condiments, etc. in my fridge and pantry, so I decided to throw together a “bistro burger” (I thought that name sounded better than: “fancy-schmancy burger”).

Recipe after the break: (more…)

hummus

Hummus is my favorite go-to snack when I’ve got the mid-day munchies. This traditional Middle Eastern concoction is easy to make, versatile, and healthy. Basically, you’re whizzing up chickpeas (a.k.a.: garbanzo beans) with some olive oil and tahini (toasted sesame seed paste) in a food processor, then throwing in whatever your heart desires to flavor to the hummus.

Hummus is not only great for dipping raw veggies or crackers in for a quick snack, it can also be used as a condiment — I like to spread it on wraps, sandwiches, etc. Try this delicious version I made with roasted garlic that rivals any of the expensive ones you’ll find at the grocery store.
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redheads

Move over brownies and blondies- here comes their more fabulous and feisty cousin, the Redhead! It’s my personal take on a blondie/brownie — a little sweet, a bit nutty, with a spicy little kick at the end! If I were a baked good, I’d definitely be this one (and I’m a redhead too, coincidence?).

I complain about not really being much of a baker, but these one-bowl delights are so easy to prepare and definitely worth the (minimal) effort. I suggest serving them topped with ice cream or whipped cream and sprinkled with a mixture of cinnamon, sugar and cayenne, and some Red Hots candies.

Want to bake up something to ignite the flames of passion (or your tongue) this Valentines Day? Then these will be a sure fire hit, because everyone knows: redheads do to it best.
Recipe after the break: (more…)

san_antonio

Last weekend I was able to fulfill a long-standing dream of mine: visiting San Antonio, Texas. Why San Antonio, you ask? Well, there’s the historic Alamo, the touristy River Walk, and many other cultural and historic sights. But this city has also been the mecca of Tex-Mex food in my eyes (and also a stop on my “BBQ of the U.S.” tour) for longer than I can remember.

I had been planning this culinary pilgrimage for almost two months, as soon as I found out I was going (courtesy of wonderful boyfriend and free airline tickets), and did extensive research on just about every Tex-Mex/barbecue/Mexican restaurant in town. My main goal was to stay away from eating on the River Walk as much as possible, since it contained mostly overpriced tourist traps with bland interpretations of the authentic Tex-Mex food I sought. This weekend getaway made me feel like Giada on one of her “Weekend Getaways” (minus the camera in my face). (more…)

paella

Every ethnic cuisine has their form of a one pot, rice-based dish that usually includes some form of meat and/or seafood with vegetables. One of my favorite versions of this is Spanish paella. Paella is traditionally made in a large pan called a “paellera” (go figure) with short- or medium-grain rice and given its characteristic yellow color from saffron threads, as well as its distinct flavor. Paella varies from region to region in Spain, the coastal areas include mostly seafood in theirs, such as mussels, clams and shrimp. Other traditional versions feature Spanish dry chorizo and even snails. While traditonal versions of paella are absolutely wonderful (definitely a must-try ethnic dish), I am hardly a traditionalist so I felt I had to put my own spin on it.

First of all, I didn’t feel like slaving over a hot stove to make my paella and I hadn’t used my fabulous rice cooker in ages, so I busted that bad boy out and got to work. I know I’ve already raved about all of the amazing things a rice cooker can do in a short amount of time, but I feel I must again and pay homage to my dear friend and kitchen appliance. Did I also mention it can cook rice perfectly? (more…)

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