Cocktail Friday: Mango Sparkle

Because sometimes I’m in the mood for something… a little girly.

I’m not the biggest fan of the myriad varieties of flavored vodkas that seem to have saturated the market these past few years, but I will cop to having a few bottles (Cherry, vanilla, and in a moment of supreme weakness, whipped cream flavored) in my freezer. I like the sweet stuff, what can I say?

On occasion, anyway.

Plus, Prosecco just classes that shit right up. Side note: these mini bottles? Worst best idea ever. Like I needed the temptation to drink more.

Mango Sparkle

  • 2 oz vanilla vodka
  • 4 oz mango nectar (try the Latin/international section at the grocery store)
  • 2 oz prosecco (or any sparkling wine)

Fill a martini glass with ice and set aside. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, add vodka and mango nectar and cover. Shake well. Dump ice out of martini glass. Using a cocktail strainer, pour vodka and nectar into glass. Add prosecco to fill. Stir gently to combine.

Cheers.

Peach Almond Tart

It’s starting.

There’s Halloween candy in grocery stores. Autumnal decorations in Target. Pumpkin beers on tap at the local pub, for crying out loud. Hell, I even saw some Christmas lights in Big Lots the other week.

Fall (and Winter) is coming.

School has started in some areas, community pools are closing, and if I’m not mistaken, the air has been a little cooler in the mornings.

But right now it’s still summer, at least for another week or two. And there are still peaches to be had. Sweet, tender, juice-dripping-down-your-chin peaches. My absolute favorite summer fruit.

I’ve been wanting to use these tart pans for a while. I love the idea of individual desserts, and peaches are pretty much the perfect fruit for such a vessel. I decided to go with a sweet shortbread-like crust using almond meal instead of the usual pie crust type pastry, just to switch up flavors/textures. I kept the filling very simple, just a little brown sugar and cinnamon, mainly to let the peaches speak for themselves.

Start with the tart crust. You’re going to want to give yourself some time with this, it needs to sit in the fridge a bit.

In the bowl of your mixer, mix butter, almond meal, flour, confectioner’s sugar, egg, vanilla extract, and salt until it comes together. The dough will be very sticky. Turn dough out of bowl onto plastic wrap and allow to rest in refrigerator for at least an hour.

Remove dough from plastic wrap and turn out onto countertop sprinkled with flour (you can use confectioner’s sugar, but be careful, because that’s how you get ants, Lana), and roll out with a rolling pin to approx. 1/4 inch thickness. Use your tart pan to “template” the amount of dough you need per pan – cut around pan and flip/press the dough into it.

(This is the part where I tell you I did not wait at least an hour for my dough to set, it was *incredibly* sticky, and I ended up piecing it into my tart shells because half of it stayed stuck to my counter. Learn from my mistakes.)

Poke dough with a fork all over the bottom of the tart shell, place pans on a rimmed cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 20 minutes, until just lightly browned.

Once shells are baked and have cooled slightly, slice peaches thinly into a bowl (you can peel them if you want, I didn’t. I like the color/texture), sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon, and stir. Place peach slices in tart shells and return tarts to the oven for another 15-20 minutes. I was experimenting and squeezed a little bit of honey over the peaches before I put the tarts back in the oven, but as far as I can tell it didn’t really add anything to the tarts.

Remove tarts from pans and serve while still warm.

Preferably with some ice cream.

Peach Almond Tart 

Recipe makes four 4 inch round tarts.

For the crust (adaptation of this version):

  • 1 cup almond meal (almond flour)
  • 1 cup all-puropose flour
  • 6 TB softened butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • pinch salt

Combine all ingredients in bowl and mix together until combined. Turn dough out onto plastic wrap, cover, and allow to rest in the refrigerator for at least an hour. Remove from plastic and roll out on counter sprinkled with flour until about 1/4 inch thickness. Using the tart pan as a template, cut dough around pan and turn over, pressing dough into pan and along the edges to remove excess dough. Poke holes into bottom of dough with a fork. Repeat with remaining tart pans and dough. Place pans on a rimmed cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 20 minutes, until tart shell is slightly browned. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.

For the filling:

  • 4 peaches
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Slice peaches thinly into a bowl. Add brown sugar and cinnamon and combine. Place peaches in tart shells. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, until bubbly. Remove tarts from shells. Serve while still warm.

Enjoy your last gasp of summer, guys. I plan to!

 

Cocktail Friday: Guinness, Jameson, and Bailey’s Milkshake

I’m a terrible person. There’s no excuse for this.

Really.

You shouldn’t make this. Unless you want to plant your ass on the couch for the rest of the night after drinking it, because that’s what happened to me. LETHAL.

There was a time I could have drank three or four of the…ahem…”beverages” this milkshake is based on (I won’t call them by their name, because it’s considered offensive in more polite circles) and functioned perfectly fine for the rest of the night.

Those days are gone, APPARENTLY. Shameful.

Guinness, Jameson, and Bailey’s Milkshake 

  • 2 cups vanilla ice cream
  • 4 oz Guinness (Or any other stout you prefer, would be delicious with a craft/bourbon aged version)
  • 1 oz Whiskey
  • 1 oz Irish Cream liquor
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Add all ingredients to a blender and mix. Add more ice cream if you prefer a thicker shake, or a little milk if you want it thinner. Pour into a glass and serve.

Then collapse face down on the couch when you’re done drinking it.

Creamy Cucumber Salad

This salad has been a staple in my family for years during the steamy months of summer, especially when dad’s garden had a plethora of cucumbers. It’s simple enough to throw together in a pinch, and the sweet/tangy flavors make it a great accompaniment to almost anything. 

Five ingredients. Could this salad BE any easier?

Mix your dressing together first: Mayo, vinegar, a touch of sugar, salt, and pepper. Start will small(er) amounts. Whisk whisk whisk. Taste. If it’s too sweet, add a touch more vinegar. Too much vinegar? Add a bit more mayo. Taste again. Perfect.

Peel and slice cucumbers. I removed the seeds because I think they give me the burps. You can leave them in, though. Most people do.

Cut a red onion in half, remove the root end, slice in three lengthwise, then slice across thinly.

Toss cucumber and onion in the bowl with the dressing. Stir to combine and place in fridge for at least an hour to allow flavors to combine.

A tip: Don’t make a huge batch of this and expect to eat it all week. I don’t think it keeps very well past a day or two.

Creamy Cucumber Salad

  • 2 large cucumbers, peeled and sliced. (Seeds removed, if preferred)
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced thinly.
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 TBS granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper

In a bowl, combine mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper. Whisk thoroughly. Taste and adjust as needed. Toss cucumber and onion with dressing and stir to combine. Place in refrigerator for at least an hour to allow flavors to combine, and serve.

Someone pass the barbecued chicken thighs.

Cocktail Friday: Drunk Arnold Palmer

This drink started out the same way as many do – take a refreshing non-alcoholic beverage and say, “You know what would make this better? BOOZE.”

I loved Arnold Palmers before I knew that’s what they were called. Half Iced tea, half lemonade, all tasty. Tart, sweet, and refreshing, it’s perfect for a lazy late summer afternoon. When you add whiskey? Even better.

You can make this drink according to your own level of taste/laziness/time availability. Make it all from scratch, buy the tea and lemonade pre-made, buy powered mixes for one or the other or both (though that might be a tad too sweet), or do a combination of any of the above.

For this one, I decided on the scratch method all the way. I started with a batch of sun tea. Pour four cups of water into a pitcher, add twelve tea bags, and set the pitcher outside in the sun for a good hour. Remove the tea bags (squeeze the excess water out), add four more cups of water, and refrigerate.

I didn’t make an entire pitcher of lemonade in deference to the lack of available space in my refrigerator, so I just made a small amount in my shaker before adding my tea. Pour 2 oz lemon juice in a shaker, followed by the same amount of cold water. Stir in 1 TB simple syrup (more if you like it sweet). Follow with 4 oz iced tea. Add 1-2 oz Honey Whiskey (or any whiskey you prefer) and ice. Shake for a few seconds, pour and serve.

Drunk Arnold Palmer

  • 4 oz iced tea
  • 4 oz lemonade
  • 1 Tb simple syrup (or to taste)
  • 1-2 oz Jack Daniel’s Honey Whiskey

Pour all ingredients into a shaker, add ice. Shake, pour, and serve.

It’s obviously easier to just make one pitcher each of lemonade and iced tea and make each drink as needed. Or you could make an entire pitcher of these at once. Just be sure my invite doesn’t get lost in the mail.

“Aw, Shucks”-Style Spicy Parmesan Roasted Corn

Midweek, Musikfest 2015. Is anyone else exhausted yet? And I’ve only been there twice so far!

I blame work, as per my usual. This past weekend wasn’t too bad but Friday and Monday were busy busy busy. And as of 6 pm Monday I went right into “Do ALL The Things!” Vacation Mode, so I haven’t given myself a minute to relax and breathe. I slept in a bit this morning, and plan on heading to my parents’ this afternoon for some pool time and dinner. I’ll most likely skip ‘Festing tonight to save my energy for the rest of the week, including the Snoop Dogg show Saturday night.

When people talk about Musikfest, the conversation quickly goes from the big paid acts to all the amazing free acts to the beer to the food. Oh so much food. There’s succulent shish kabobs, tasty tacos, stuffed pretzels bigger than your head, ice cream sundaes bigger than your car, pickles on sticks, and – brand new this year! – fried butter. (Yes I tried it. Just a small bite. It was as horrible as you’d imagine.) But one of the foodie favorites of ‘Fest by far is Aw Shucks corn on the cob. Sweet corn on the cob, roasted over an open flame, dipped in melted butter, sprinkled liberally with a kicky southwestern spice mix and covered in parmesan cheese. There’s not enough adjectives to describe how freaking good this corn is. Everywhere around Musikfest you’ll see people walking around, ear of corn in one hand, light-up beer mug in the other, butter and spices covering their blissful faces.

Or maybe that’s just me.

In the past few years Aw Shucks has become so popular at area festivals and fairs that they have a permanent stand in the local AAA baseball stadium, so if you have a corn craving from April through August and there’s not some sort of fest going on, you can still get your fix.

Or you can just make it at home, like me.

I can hear you from here. “But Jenn! That’s not an ear of corn! YOUR BLOG IS FULL OF LIES.”

Oh calm down, kittens. As much fun as it is to eat corn on the cob, it’s also messy as all get out. The days I plan on partaking of Aw Shucks at ‘Fest I always take wet naps to clean up after. And a change of clothes. And sometimes a drop cloth. It takes dedication to eat that corn. It’s definitely not a dainty undertaking. My way, however, is much neater and less work to get to the good stuff.

First thing you’ll need is the Aw Shucks spice mix. The mix itself consists of granulated garlic, paprika, garlic salt, onion powder, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper, so you can “try” to recreate it at home, but there’s mysterious “other spices” listed in the ingredients, so it’s doubtful you’d get just the right combination. The mix is available at all Aw Shucks stands, on their website, and at certain farm stands in the valley. Which brings us to our next ingredient – the corn, of course.

I picked up a dozen ears at Newhards Corn Shed in Coplay, just a short drive up Mauch Chunk Road off of the 15th St exit on Route 22. A great little farm stand, reminiscent of the places I always shopped at with my mom and grandmother growing up in the Poconos. Some of the best corn I’ve tasted, too. If you’re buying your corn at the grocery store instead of Newhards you’re doing it wrong.

A baker’s dozen will run you about $6.50. My only quibble is that they appear to only sell dozen and half dozen bags, so like it or not, you’re buying corn for a crowd.

Shuck, de-silk, rinse, and pat dry. Place corn on your grill on high heat and roast, turning every few minutes, for seven to ten minutes total, until the corn is toasted and brown. Even darker in spots won’t hurt in the least – it’ll just lend to that authentic “Aw, Shucks” flavor. Had I a charcoal grill this would have been even better, but charcoal intimidates the hell out of me.

Next, de-corn your cobs. I’ve found that the easiest way to do this is the method I learned from Rachael Ray – one small bowl inverted in the bottom of a much larger bowl, stand the ear of corn up on its end, and cut down each side of the cob. Corn goes into the larger bowl and not all over the floor, boom.

Like so.

Once all the corn is cut from the cobs (and you’ve removed the smaller bowl), add melted butter, spice mix, and grated parmesan cheese.

Mix to combine. You don’t need additional salt or pepper — there’s more than enough in the spice mix and the parmesan cheese. Add the mixture to a casserole dish.

Grate some additional parmesan cheese and sprinkle just a touch more spice mix on top. Bake uncovered at 425 for approximately 15 minutes.

You can turn the broiler on for a minute or two to brown up the top if you like.

Almost as good as the original.

“Aw, Shucks”-Style Spicy Parmesan Roasted Corn

  • One dozen ears of corn, shucked and cleaned
  • 4 TB butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, with more for grating on top
  • 1/2-1 TB “Aw Shucks” spice mix, depending on your taste

Grill ears of corn over high heat for 7-10 minutes, turning occasionally, until browned and roasted. Remove corn from cobs. Stir in melted butter, parmesan cheese, and spice mix (Start with a smaller amount, and taste as you go to your desired spice level). Pour mixture into a casserole dish, top with additional grated cheese and sprinkle a bit more spice mixture on top. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes, turning on the broiler at the end to brown and crisp the cheese on top, if desired. Remove from oven (duh) and serve. Makes an awesome side for steak or BBQ chicken.

Cocktail Friday: Blackberry “Caipirinha”

I learned a valuable lesson working on this recipe.

Rum hits me pretty goddamn hard.

I’ve got quite a bit of a low tolerance level, but I’m usually good for one to one and a half drinks. Not so with this sucker. Halfway through, and I was all, “Woah.”

No telling if it’s because of the brand of rum or just rum itself, but lesson learned.

My dad introduced me to caipirinhas a few years ago, when my parents and I were lounging out by their pool. He brought out this delicious looking cocktail with muddled limes, simple syrup, and rum, and I (mistakenly) said, “Oooh! Did you make mojitos?”

He GLARED at me.

“Mojitos are for pendejos, Jennifer. This is a caipirinha. It’s better than a mojito.”

The caipirinhas my dad makes are not the traditional Brazilian version. Mostly because it’s not easy to find Brazilian cachaça in Pennsylvania. So we use rum. Bacardi, of course. Because PUERTO RICO.

Blackberry Caipirinha

  • 2 oz. White Rum
  • 1-2 oz. Simple Syrup (to taste)
  • 1 oz Lime Juice
  • 6 Fresh Blackberries
  • Crushed Ice

Squeeze lime juice into a rocks glass. Add fresh berries and simple syrup. Crush with a muddler or the back of a spoon a few times to break up the berries. Add rum. Fill glass with ice. Stir and serve.

Because Daddy says mojitos are for pendejos. (But I’ll still probably make one soon.)