Showing posts with label easy entertaining. Show all posts
Showing posts with label easy entertaining. Show all posts

Monday, April 8, 2013

Entertaining? Serve a mocktail to keep the party rolling for everyone.

Cool Cucumber Mojito water
The weather is warming up and we are having thoughts of grill outs and back yard parties. Bring on the sunshine and vitamin D!

While many of us choose to drink alcohol, there are several people who may wish to pass. Unfortunately, there is significant social pressure to do so and as soon as you reach for a bottle of water or soda, suddenly people may feel entitled to your life story. It is none of their business. Serving a mocktail, a non-alcoholic drink, may just help smooth things over and keep the party rolling for everyone.

Alcoholism is a disease that may come with emotional baggage of shame; it is personal, and while recovery is still being cultivated, it may be very difficult to talk about. Fear of "failure", not being able to resist an alcoholic drink, may prevent a person from attending parties. Or the pressure to explain their drink choices may also keep them at home. Alcoholism is more prevalent in men than in women. Estimates for the US are 10-20% of men and 5-10% of women experience alcoholism at some point in their life.  Worldwide rates vary.

We don't recommend a women who is pregnant to consume alcohol. While a woman is trying to get pregnant or in the early stages of pregnancy, she may not wish to share the news. Having a mocktail helps to keep her private news private.

Moderate alcohol consumption, 1 drink a day for women and 1-2 drinks per day for men (and not saving all of them for the weekend) may have health benefits. However, they do come with a significant calorie punch. Per gram, alcohol is second only to fat in calories, and nearly double that of protein and carbohydrates. For folks working on weight loss, cutting alcohol is a great strategy to reach their goals.

Certain medications, being the designated driver and religious preferences are more reasons folks may skip the booze. While many of your party goers may enjoy the alcoholic drinks you serve, you never know who may wish to have an alternative. Choose your favorite drinks, but also make something else available - seltzer water, a mocktail and lemonade are all good choices.

Here is my recipe for Cool Cucumber Mojito water. Good for parties and to keep at your desk.

Let the good times roll!

Monday, December 31, 2012

For The Mamas & the Papas: Cranberry lime infused vodka

Two of my very best friends on this earth I have known since before we had driver's licenses. Our lives have taken us around the globe over the years, but we always manage to be in Ohio, together, for our annual Christmas party.  This year, I decided to be in charge of cocktails and got the prep work done while home over Thanksgiving. This project is very easy, it just needs some time to infuse.

I used a very sharp paring knife to remove pieces of lime peel from two limes. In a 1 quart mason jar (or any jar with a tight-fitting lid) I layered the lime peel pieces with fresh, whole cranberries. I poured plain vodka into the jar and closed the lid tightly - that's it!



When I came home for Christmas, the limes had faded so I was guessing that it was ready to go! For our Christmas party, I mixed the infused vodka with ginger ale and garnished the cocktails with some cranberries and a lime wedge. They sure looked pretty and they tasted even better!



Happy New Year! Enjoy the evening - please don't drink and drive.

You may also like my blackberry infused vodka - keep this recipe on hand for next summer when the berries are in season!

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Recipe ReDux: Vintage Side Dishes - Thanksgiving Hummus


Thanksgiving is upon us and at the Recipe ReDux, we're celebrating with vintage side dishes!

Stuffing is so simple, but boy oh boy does it hit the spot on Thanksgiving! Since I have been having fun coming up with interesting hummus dips (pizza? Pad Thai? Balsamic Black Bean? , I thought, "why not stuffing flavored?".

Turns out it is pretty tasty! I did a trial run at my friend's 8th annual fabulous Friend-giving celebration this weekend and it was a hit!

Thanksgiving Hummus
Easily doubled if serving a crowd
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced (about 1 small onion)
  • 3/4 cup celery, diced (use the leaves too, no need to toss)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • Fresh or dried parsley, if you have it
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2-3 tablespoons water
  1. In a medium saute pan, melt butter and saute veggies until tender. Add garlic, herbs, salt and pepper and stir for another minute or so or until your kitchen smell heavenly. Remove from heat.
  2. In your food processor (or very powerful blender) add chickpeas, olive oil and veggies and blend until smooth. Add water, one tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached. As it cools, or after refrigeration, the dip will thicken. 
  3. Serve with fresh veggies to dip or whole grain crackers.
Happy Thanksgiving!


Reader Poll: What Thanksgiving side dish do you look forward to the most?

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Thursday, October 4, 2012

For The Mamas & the Papas: Blackberry infused vodka

Summer is wrapping up, but I have had one summer project in the works that I forgot about...and just rediscovered. Earlier in the summer, I went to Butler's Orchard and picked a bunch of fresh blackberries. I ate a bunch, used some to make Basil Blackberry Jam, a basil and blackberry salad with goat cheese and I also topped toast with the fruit to lower added sugars (I only use jam occasionally). I even froze some and later used those to make Berry Compote. Lots of blackberry deliciousness, but I forgot I had one last project up my sleeve...I had infused vodka with blackberries!

This project is so easy! You pour vodka into a larger jar, add your fresh berries and let infuse for at least a week (I had it in the cupboard for at bit longer). Strain out the fruit and add some sugar. That's it! The fresh, sun ripened flavor of the fruit is perfectly preserved in the liquor. Try is simply over ice, with a splash of seltzer or ginger ale or in any number of cocktails. I can't wait to try some different mixers!

Note: most of my produce scraps (except for citrus or onions) go into my worm bin composter. I refrained from adding the left over fruit from this project as I didn't know what the proper drinking age is for worms...didn't want to get the little guys drunk :)

If you want something fancy to infuse or serve your vodka in, or to make a big batch of punch in, this glass infuser was well reviewed on amazon and is eligible for prime shipping. When I have my own house, I'd love something like this :)


Blackberry infused vodka
1 small (750ml) of vodka (nothing fancy)
2-3 cups of fresh berries (frozen doesn't work well)
1/2 - 1 cup sugar
  1. Give berries a quick rinse. Place in your large container - any glass jar with a tight fitting lid works well. Pour in your vodka.
  2. Screw lid on tightly and place jar in a dark place and let infuse for 1 week or longer - depending on when you remember about your project :)
  3. Strain fruit from your vodka and add sugar to taste. I thought 1/2 cup was sufficient, but many other recipes online called for more. Up to you!
I used a huge jar that used to hold artichoke hearts - Reduce, reuse, recycle, right?
The soaked berries look pretty weird!
Add sugar to your taste buds!

Mmmmmmmmmmmm :)

Reader poll: What is your favorite cocktail? How would you use fruit infused vodka?

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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Splendid Salads: Roasted Squash and Apple Salad with Warm Cider Vinaigrette

This salad really is special. Inspired by an Ina Garten recipe (the Barefoot Contessa). It is the best of autumn flavors in a hearty and filling salad. The peppery bite of the arugula paired with the sweetness of the roasted squash and fruit, the warm vinaigrette and squash with the cool fruit and greens. I just love it and hope you'll try it too! The original recipe called for maple syrup and shallots, both of which are pretty pricey. I made the substitute of onions and brown sugar for similar flavor but a lower impact on the grocery bill. The original recipe called for butternut squash, but since I have pumpkin at home, that is what I used. Use what you have or what you love!

Tip for the winter squash: don't bother peeling; it is a pain in the rear unless you have an epically sharp peeler and a lot of patience. Simply slice or cube, roast and when fully cooked (and cool enough to handle) the skin will come right off.
  
Roasted Squash and Apple Salad with Warm Cider Vinaigrette
Serves 4
  • 1 (1 1/2-pound) winter squash (pumpkin, butternut squash, acorn squash), roasted
  • 1 tablespoon  brown sugar
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 apples (or pears), diced
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries (or golden raisins)
  • 3/4 cup apple juice (or apple cider)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons onion, minced
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 4 ounces baby arugula, washed and spun dry
  • 1/2 cup pecan halves
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Place the winter squash on a sheet pan. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, the brown sugar, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and toss. Roast the squash for 15 to 20 minutes, turning once, until tender.
  3. While the squash is roasting, combine the apple cider, vinegar, and onion in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until the cider is reduced to about 1/4 cup. Off the heat, whisk in the mustard,  olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper.
  4. Place the arugula in a large salad bowl and add the roasted squash mixture, the chopped apples, raisins and the grated Parmesan. Spoon just enough vinaigrette over the salad to moisten and toss well. Serve immediately. 

    Pumpkin ready for the oven!
    Apple juice and onion reducing for excellent flavor; just waiting on olive oil and dijon mustard

    Almost ready and so delicious
 


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Friday, September 28, 2012

Decadent Dip: Spiced pumpkin hummus

Fall is here! My favorite season for so many reasons; the trees putting on a firework display in slow motion, the crisp weather and of course, the delicious seasonal foods available. For this mild and flavorful hummus, I used my prepared pumpkin puree that I made from the pumpkins I picked at Green Truck Farms. Of course, you can also whip this recipe up in a flash using canned pumpkin. Either way, it is delicous, fast, and way less expensive than store bought hummus. And, what store sell pumpkin hummus anyway?

Here are directions for cooking fresh pumpkin in the microwave, slow cooker or in the oven. 

Spiced Pumpkin Hummus
Makes about two cups
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons of apple juice (or water, but I like the hint of sweetness that balances the heat from the cayenne pepper)
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • dash of cayenne pepper (to taste)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • Pumkin seeds, for garnish - roast the seeds from your fresh pumpkin or find in a latino market - in spanish they're called pepitas and come without the shell
  1. Rinse and drain the beans and place in the blender. Add pumpkin, apple juice and seasonings. Pulse to blend. 
  2. Add olive slowly while the food processor is blending and continue blending until very smooth. 
  3. Scoop into your serving vessel, garnish with pumpkin seeds and serve with pita chips, crackers, or raw veggies. 
This would be a great dip for your Halloween party!

Toss everything in the food processor...
...and blend until smooth. Yum!
 
You may also like:

Pizza Hummus
Pad Thai Hummus
Roasted Carrot Hummus a l'Orange

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Super sandwiches: Pesto tuna salad

Fish is a good source of protein and can be a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, depending on what you choose. Tuna is one of the cold water fish, like salmon and sardines, that is a rich source. Worried about mercury? White tuna is higher, light tuna is lover. For more information about selecting fish, read this post.

Pesto Tuna Salad
Serves two
Recipe adapted from The Curvy Carrot
  • 1 5-ounce can light tuna packed in water
  • 3 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes, minced
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 tablespoons Basil Pesto
  • 2 tablespoons non-fat plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Drain tuna and place in small mixing bowl.
  2. Add all other ingredients and stir together. Serve on whole grain bread, whole grain crackers, as dip for raw veggies or on top of a salad...or, if you're feeling inspired, try stuffing tomatoes with the tuna salad! See below for instructions.
Drain light tuna and place in bowl
Add pesto, parmesan cheese, yogurt and dried tomatoes. Season with lemon juice, salt and pepper and serve!

Want to try stuffing tomatoes with the tuna salad? Here is how to do it:

Cut around top of tomatoes to make this cone shape
Cut tiny slice off bottom so tomatoes don't roll around
Use a little spoon (do you have a grapefruit spoon?) to scoop out the middle of the tomato
Fill 'er up with the tuna salad
Now, are you really going to tell me you don't like fish with something that looks so delicious?

Looks like it is time to oil my cutting boards - they're looking dry in the pictures! If your wooden or bamboo cutting boards are looking like they have dry skin, read this post for information about bringing them back. 
Note: Light tuna is lower in Mercury than White Tuna. For more information about selecting fish, read this post.



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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Delicious (healthy!) brunch menu

Brunch is my favorite meal; it is the perfect combination of sweet and savory dishes and you can enjoy champagne with your coffee. What's not to love?

Too often, though, brunch menus tend to be on carbohydrate overload; pancakes, biscuits, potatoes, fruit and toast with juice and jam. Believe it or not, it is possible to have both excellent flavor without having to run a marathon afterwards to burn off that extra energy.



I hosted a casual brunch recently and the menu was a huge hit...and it was healthy too! Here is what I made:

Delicous (healthy!) brunch menu
The best part is that most of this can be made the night before so your morning is relaxing and fun. No need to stress; enjoy your party!

The night before, whip up your kale salad (it is a magical salad that keeps overnight with the dressing on!), set the table and use the cloth napkins. Mix up your pancake batter - if you put it in a pitcher or squeeze bottle, it will be even faster to make the pancakes in the morning. Blanch the asparagus and follow the simple lemon dressing recipe and set up your coffee pot with fresh grinds and some cinnamon and orange peel. If your fruit salad has fruit that will hold up well overnight, go ahead and cut the fruit too; this would include melons, pineapple, watermelon, apples and oranges. Berries, bananas and kiwis should wait until the day of. Sweet dreams!

The morning of your party, set your two salads on the table, the juice and the pistachios so your guests have something to munch on while you're finishing up the last minute details. Make your pancakes and warm up your fruit compote for topping. Finish cutting up any fruit for your salad and toss with some lime or pineapple juice, if you're feeling fancy. Scramble the eggs just before everyone is ready to sit down so they're hot. I sometimes stir in a bit of pesto when I make eggs - it takes it up a notch. Dig in!

This menu is a good start, but it is really flexible too. Instead of the pancakes, you could try cereal killer muffins, baked oatmeal with strawberries and peaches, peanut butter and berry baked french toast or the best banana bread. All are easily baked the night before, or assembled the night before and popped in the oven before your friends arrive.  

You could also substitute any number of salads that I have posted for you instead of the kale salad, or try some fresh vegetables and dip. Just make sure to have some veggies!

Don't like scrambled eggs? Try hard boiled. Simple, but delicous. Or a frittata

Cheers! Salud! Enjoy your brunch :)


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Friday, September 14, 2012

Decadent Dip: Pad Thai Hummus

Have you tried making hummus at home yet? It is really simple if you have the right tools: either a food processor or powerful blender. Other than that, it is just a matter of finding good seasonings for a can of beans. Way cheaper than what you buy at the store, more delicious and less packaging. Triple win, right?

Dips are a great way to encourage kids of all ages to eat more raw veggies. When you choose a healthy dip like hummus, you're filling up bellies with fiber and protein too. In the time it takes to dial for take out, you can whip up a batch of Thai inspired hummus.

Pad-Thai Hummus
  • 1 16-oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • Juice of one lime
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha (or more, I don't really like the heat to knock my socks off)
  • 1 teaspoon powdered dried ginger (or 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Thai basil (can substitute cilantro)
  • 2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons cocoanut oil (0r substitute olive oil)
  • 1-2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons flaked sweetened cocoanut
  • 2-4 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons of Thai basil (or substitute cilantro)
  • Crushed peanuts, Thai basil and lime wedges, for garnish
  1. Place all ingredients except for thai basil (or cilantro) and water and blend for a full minute or so.
  2. Add water, one tablespoon at a time, until desired hummus reaches the perfect thickness for you. I used 4 tablespoons, but it is up to you!
  3. Add the basil and pulse the food processor until the leaves are chopped. Adding the basil at the end  leaves pretty specks in the hummus.
  4. Scoop your hummus into a serving dish and garnish with lime wedges, crushed peanuts and Thai basil.  
 A note about garnishes: garnishes should serve two purposes - they add to the overall beauty and presentation of your dish, but they should also be a clue as the flavors in the dish. Since this is an unusual flavor of hummus, I used the garnishes to imply a plate of pad Thai. 




You may also like my Roasted Carrot Hummus a l'Orange and Balsamic Black Bean Hummus. Check 'em out!

 
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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Decadent Dip: roasted carrot hummus a l'orange

Decadent Dip: roasted carrot hummus

Watch out folks; hummus is putting on his fancy pants. His orange fancy pants! 

I am a huge fan of hummus; I love making it at home even more becuase it costs a fraction of store bought and you can experiment with flavors. You also cut out some of the packaging. Triple win.

This is a recipe that I am especially proud of! It is just so delicious and the bright orange color is really beautiful too. I hope you'll try it; I bet you'll love it (almost) as much as I do.
Garnish with an orange wedge for some extra flair


Roasted Carrot Hummus a l'Orange

  • 1 16-ounce can chickpeas (aka garbonzo beans) drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup roasted carrots
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • juice and zest from one orange
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic (1 clove or so)
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin (or more, to taste)
  • black pepper and salt, so taste
1. Roast carrots until tender and nicely browned.
2. Place all ingredients in a food processor or kick-butt blender and puree until very smooth. Taste (try not to get weak in the knees) and adjust seasonings as needed
3. Try this fabulous spread on crackers, raw veggies, spread on toast and by the spoonful!Mais oui!

Gather your ingredients
Roast your carrots; no need to peel
Plop everything in the food processor et voila!
So pretty...are you licking the screen?


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