Today, I’ve teamed up with S.Pellegrino to share my tips on how to make the best antipasti spread. One of the things I love most about summers is al fresco dining. There’s truly nothing better than sitting around a table with some good friends eating, drinking and enjoying the setting sun together. In entertaining situations like these, I love putting together a grazing spread as an appetizer that can be left out and enjoyed over a couple hours. After all, I’d rather be outside sitting with my guests than cooking up a storm inside the kitchen! The key to making a good antipasti platter is providing a variety of textures and flavors so that people are encouraged to try all kinds of combinations. You’ll have to buy quite a variety of options at the market, but there is little prep work involved and the results are impressive and elegant!
No one mentioned how exhausting this whole being a parent thing was going to be. It’s as if I’m chasing a caffeinated howler monkey around the house. All I can say is, thank god for the tupperware drawer! Needless to say, happy hour has become a staple at our house these days. However, as you can imagine, time is of the essence. So when I came across a bottle of Bittermilk, I was instantly intrigued. Bittermilk is a hand-crafted cocktail mixer made by bartenders for cocktail enthusiasts. As you can tell, this isn’t your run-of-the-mill, sweet, syrupy cocktail mixer. Just like any well-balanced cocktail, each bottle contains a sweetener, an acid, and a bittering agent. All that’s left to do is add the spirit of your choice. I’ve been sipping on a bottle of Bittermilk No. 3, which is a Smoked Honey Whiskey Sour. We opened it yesterday, and it looks like we’re already in need of another!! A couple other flavors I’m itching to try are: Tom Collins with Elderflowers and Hops, and Oaxacan Old Fashioned. Who am I kidding? I want them all.
A while back, I decided to cut refined sugar out of my diet. Not in an attempt to lose weight or anything, but it was more about implementing some discipline into my every day eating habits and trying to be more heart healthy. After I started cutting refined sugar out, I realized I was actually consuming more sugar on a daily basis than I had thought. A cookie here, a blended coffee drink there — it actually added up to a lot. I still allow myself a slice of cake for special events like weddings or birthdays, but most days I refrain (yes, even when I’m shooting sweet stuff for the blog— oh, that discipline). So when I found out Aloha makes its vegan Superfood Chocolate bars with unrefined coconut sugar, I knew I had to give it a try and was inspired to create something decadent from it! This double chocolate vegan ice cream uses a cashew and coconut milk base so it’s ultra creamy and smooth. But the pièce de résistance is the coconut caramel. This stuff is dangerous. It’s made from coconut milk and unrefined coconut sugar and reduces down into an intensely coconut-y, caramel-y sauce.
With the Fourth of July coming up this weekend I finally feel like summer can officially begin. And you know what that means . . . that’s right, it’s slushy season! Cocktail slushies to be exact. Trust me, there are few happier moments than chilling in the backyard on a hot summer day, surrounded by family and friends, the grill ablaze, and an ice cold cocktail slushy in-hand. I like to blend up a giant batch for the whole family (unleaded for the kids, of course). The best part is, the Vitamix practically does all the work for you. Seriously, before I got my Vitamix I was always hesitant to make frozen cocktails. No matter how good the recipe, there was always the danger of leaving big ice chunks floating around the drink. Consequently, the cocktail would be thrown out of balance, and I was left with a lumpy mess. Not this time. I filled the Vitamix container with ice, watermelon, lime, a little balsamic, and vodka. The result was a perfectly smooth, perfectly balanced cocktail slushy that will be making several appearances at our house throughout the summer.
Do you remember where you were when you had your best “ah-ha!” moments? For me, the lightbulb always goes off in the shower – the only place where I can seek solitude these days. No phone, no computer, and no toddler. So it was in the shower one morning, that I was envisioning making blueberry pie for the 4th of July because really, it doesn’t get more American than that, right? Or wait, maybe ice cream sandwiches instead. Those are always crowd pleasers. Hmmm, what if I replaced cookies with mini blueberry pies? Blueberry pie cookies?? Ice cream sandwiches made with blueberry pie cookies?!?!?!? Honestly, American. Honestly, YUM. Ding, ding, ding. I nearly ran out of the shower with a head full of shampoo suds.
My obsession with fried chicken began way back when I was in the womb. When my mother was pregnant with me, the only thing she wanted to eat was fried chicken, and outside of her pregnancy, she never ate fried chicken. So, I had a taste of the good stuff early on. And since I could start cooking, I’ve made fried chicken using all kinds of methods. When I saw this method used by Tyler Florence at Wayfarer Tavern that I hadn’t seen before, I knew I had to give it a go. He bakes the chicken first on low heat in the oven, marinates the chicken in buttermilk and then dredges and fries up the chicken. I’ve changed up the recipe a little since I’m not a huge fan of fried chicken seasoned with herbs, but I used the same technique. The results were incredibly crunchy skin and juicy meat– exactly what you want in fried chicken. Serve these with some fresh buttermilk biscuits and you have yourself a pretty stellar 4th of July dinner!