peach sweet tea cocktails with pinnacle vodka

spiked peach sweet tea recipe copy peach sweet tea cocktails with pinnacle vodka

 

I’m interrupting our previously scheduled travel content this week to bring you…happy hour. I trust none of you are complaining–who doesn’t want a sweet summer cocktail?

 

You may remember that I’ve partnered up with Pinnacle Vodka this summer to showcase fun cocktail and party ideas–and for my latest post, I wanted to throw together the quintessential summer bash (cocktails included). To me, nothing says lazy summer nights more than BBQ and sweet tea.

 

spiked peach sweet tea with pinnacle vodka recipe peach sweet tea cocktails with pinnacle vodka

 

You don’t need to be from the South to appreciate sweet tea, and if you’ve never had it before, this recipe is the perfect boozy introduction. It’s light, refreshing and packed with real-fruit flavor, thanks to the peach Pinnacle Vodka and fresh peaches mixed in. Picture yourself sitting on a porch, wearing cutoff jean shorts, listening to Paul Simon and sipping this cocktail. Nothing better, right?

 

muddling peaches for a pinnacle vodka cocktail peach sweet tea cocktails with pinnacle vodka

 

The best news? These only seem fancy–really, you can whip up a few mason jars full of cocktails for friends in under ten minutes, making them perfect for parties or bigger get-togethers this summer.

 

First, peel and slice up half a fresh peach and place it in the bottom of a tin mixology glass. Add two teaspoons granulated sugar to the glass and muddle the peach slices until they’re pulpy and juicy (about five minutes of a little elbow grease). Add two shots of Pinnacle’s Peach Vodka to the glass, and fill the rest of the way with unsweetenedfreshly-brewed iced tea and ice. Please do yourself and your dentist a favor and make sure it’s unsweetened. The flavored vodka, coupled with the two teaspoons of sugar, will make this sweet enough for you, trust me! Shake vigorously for 30-45 seconds, then pour the cocktail into a mason jar, straining out the ice and the leftover peach in the process. Garnish with another slice of fresh peach and a striped paper straw (no science behind that…they’re just cute).

 

Pinnacle vodka peach sweet tea cocktail peach sweet tea cocktails with pinnacle vodka

 

Serve alongside your favorite BBQ eats, like our delicious burnt pork ends, corn bread with honey butter and bacon baked beans (or you could try your hand at this killer BBQ chicken recipe). Most important: make sure you buy enough peaches for a second–and third–round. These are going to be in-demand all summer!

Pinnacle vodka peach sweet tea cocktail recipe peach sweet tea cocktails with pinnacle vodka

 

 

 

 

 

 
AuthorLogo Pinnacle peach sweet tea cocktails with pinnacle vodka

Pinnacle Vodka shakes things up with unexpected experiences and delightful discoveries. Explore with other fun flavors at http://pinnaclevodka.com. Also, check us out on Facebook and Twitter, or find more fun entertaining and drink ideas on our Pinterest page.

 

Pinnacle® is a registered trademark of Jim Beam Brands Co. and is used with permission.  This is a sponsored partnership, with Pinnacle® Vodka, via Mode Media.  The information, comments, and ideas expressed on this website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or positions of Jim Beam Brands Co., its affiliated companies, or any of their directors or employees.

philly cheesesteak sandwiches

philadelphia philly cheesesteak sandwiches

 

Happy Monday! This past weekend, we made our way down to Philly for a bit of sightseeing and a Dave Matthews concert. After a week of rain here in New York City, having a sunny Saturday filled with friends, food and day drinking was just what was needed.

 

philadelphia 2 philly cheesesteak sandwiches

 

And the food, oh the food….I literally had the best cheesesteak sandwich of my life in Reading Terminal Market. It was massive, so I saved half for after the concert which was just about the best decision ever.

 

I tried my hand a recreating the magic at home with homemade cheesesteak sandwiches. This version is equally as delicious, but I’m not sure if anything will ever top the original–but I guess that’s why they’re famous for them!

 

philly cheesesteak ingredients philly cheesesteak sandwiches

 

 

For the cheesesteaks, you’ll need:

  • 1/2 pound shredded steak
  • three cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 white onion, chopped lengthwise
  • 1/2 pound sliced Provolone cheese
  • 2 tablespoons butter, plus more for the rolls
  • salt and pepper to taste

 

philly cheesesteak rolls philly cheesesteak sandwiches

 

Butter your grinder rolls on each side, then toast in the oven on 325 while you cook the steak. In a large skillet, melt the two tablespoons of butter. Saute the onions and garlic until they start to go limp, then add the steak and cook until browned, seasoning with salt and pepper. Set the skillet heat to the lowest setting to keep it warm.

 

Layer Provolone cheese onto the rolls and pop them back in the oven, this time setting it to broil. Keep an eye on the rolls–the cheese will melt fast and can burn easily!

 

philly cheesesteak sandwiches philly cheesesteak sandwiches

 

Stuff the grinders full of steak and serve immediately. They’re hot and gooey and so delicious–they’d probably be even better served alongside a cold beer. Enjoy!

 

philly cheesesteak sandwich recipe philly cheesesteak sandwiches

 

summer mexican-inspired picnic recipes

vegetables for mexican picnic summer mexican inspired picnic recipes

 

Ugh, you guys–I’m sorry. I think it’s pretty evident I need to work on my whole work/work/life balance thing (I mean obviously, considering I couldn’t make the time to post this whole last week). I’m going to make it up to you, starting with this delicious Mexican-inspired picnic I pulled together this past weekend–it’s a yummy one.

 

pineapple summer mexican inspired picnic recipes

 

Is it just me, or is Mexican food one of the things you crave most in the summer time? I don’t know what it is, but the instant the temps heat up I’m all about guacamole, salsa and tacos, 24/7. I went home this past weekend, where the kitchen is large and my Mom buys the groceries (win!), so I decided to put a summer spin on some of my go-to recipes Saturday night. I stuck to the basics: salsa (which I made homemade with peach for an added summer flavor), the best guacamole ever, fresh fish tacos and Coronas. I mean, tacos and cervezas? Sign me up.

 

fresh avocados summer mexican inspired picnic recipes homemade guacamole recipe summer mexican inspired picnic recipes

 

For the guacamole, you’ll need:

*This serves 5 people

 

  • 4 avocados, pits removed
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • a handful of cilantro, chopped
  • 2 small vine tomatoes, diced
  • the juice of two limes
  • salt and pepper, to taste

 

Start by scooping out all the avocados and putting them in a bowl. If you didn’t already know, avocados brown very quickly, so you’ll want to make this guacamole shortly before serving it so it doesn’t turn an unattractive brown (it will still taste good, just not look good!). Add the chopped onion to the bowl and mash the avocados well, either with a fork or a potato masher (my preferred method). Add the rest of the ingredients, then mix well with a spoon, tasting to see if you need to add more salt or pepper. Serve immediately alongside corn chips (and, of course, the tacos).

 

peach salsa ingredients summer mexican inspired picnic recipes homemade peach salsa recipe summer mexican inspired picnic recipes

 

For the fresh peach salsa, you’ll need:

  • 1/2 can diced tomatoes (still in their juice)
  • 1 orange pepper, diced
  • 2 peaches, skinned and chopped up
  • 1/2 white onion, chopped
  • A handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder (add more if you like more of a kick!)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

 

Pour 1/2 a can of diced tomatoes (still in their juice) into a bowl. Add the pepper, peach, onion, garlic, cilantro, chili powder, salt and pepper to the bowl and stir to combine. For the best flavor, make this the morning before serving–it’s at it’s most delicious when the flavors have a chance to sit and combine a bit. Serve along side corn chips.

 

grilled tilapia summer mexican inspired picnic recipes

 

For the fish tacos, you’ll need:

 

  • Fresh fish (something sturdy, like tilapia or mahi mahi works well). You’ll want to get one filet per two people.
  • the juice of 3 limes
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

The tacos taste best when the fish has been grilled, so a few hours before dinner place your fish in a baking dish with olive oil, the lime juice, salt and pepper and allow it to marinate for at least two hours. Once you’re ready, rub your grill pan with canola oil (don’t use olive oil–it has too low of a smoke point, meaning it can catch fire easily and become toxic). Grill your fish over high heat until light and flakey, about 10 minutes per side. Plate on a large serving platter so guests can help themselves, and finish with a squeeze of lemon and a bit of fresh cilantro.

 

mexican street corn summer mexican inspired picnic recipes

For the Mexican street corn, you’ll need:

  • One ear of corn per person
  • Cojita cheese (or queso blanco, if you can’t find cojita)
  • chili powder
  • cilantro
  • butter
  • salt and pepper

Boil the corn as you usually would, coating it in butter after cooking. Top with crumbled cojita cheese, chili powder, salt, pepper and cilantro. Go to town.

 

mexican inspired picnic food summer mexican inspired picnic recipes

 

Set everything out, along side tortillas for the fish tacos and beer for your belly. I also diced up some fresh pineapple for people to top the fish tacos with if they wanted–it was a great sweet addition! All together, this is such a quick, easy and delicious way to entertain–happy summer!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

homemade limoncello with pinnacle vodka

lemons for limoncello homemade limoncello with pinnacle vodka


 

For as long as I can remember, there has been limoncello in my house–specifically, my garage. While some parents may brew their own funky beers, mine loved to mix up the classic Italian drink for any occasion they could think of–graduation parties, summer picnics, even our annual Christmas party. It’s become a delicious partner to celebration in my house.

 

Which is why, when partnering up with Pinnacle Vodka this summer to showcase fun cocktails and entertaining ideas, this is the first thing that popped into my head. Not only is it a great, refreshing drink to have on-hand for summer entertaining, but it was the perfect way to celebrate my impending trip to Italy in a few weeks. Because what’s more Italian than limoncello?!

 

homemade limoncello with pinnacle vodka homemade limoncello with pinnacle vodka

 

Let’s get down to business. To start, you’re going to first want a bottle of high-quality, high-proof vodka. Enter: Pinnacle! Their traditional, unflavored version of vodka was perfect for this–it’s imported from France and is the highest rated vodka, so the quality is amazing, and it’s 80 proof, so it packs enough of a punch to really help extract all the flavor from the lemons (you should aim to use anything from 80 proof to 100 proof, which Pinnacle also has). You’ll be using four cups of vodka, along with 12 lemons and, eventually, 2 1/2 cups of sugar.

 

lemon zest homemade limoncello with pinnacle vodka

 

Zest the lemons using a vegetable peeler, being careful to avoid the white part (the pith). Put the zest into a large mason jar or other sealable glass jar and add the vodka (there should be enough to cover the zest–if there isn’t, add a bit more!).

 

homemade limoncello made with pinnacle vodka homemade limoncello with pinnacle vodka

 

Set aside the mixture in a cool, dark place for 4-8 days (a garage would be perfect, but if you don’t have one, like me, a pantry will do!). As times lapses, the alcohol will remove the essence of the lemon, leaving the vodka a pale yellow color (and smelling amazing!).

 

pinnacle vodka homemade limoncello homemade limoncello with pinnacle vodka

 

After that torturous wait period, it’s finally time to mix up your limoncello! Pour the vodka out of the bottle through a strainer, so you catch any rogue lemon peel pieces in the process. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and 6 cups of water over medium heat. Warm it until the sugar dissolves (but do not boil) and the syrup is clear, about 10-12 minutes. Allow it to cool, then pour the syrup into the lemon-infused vodka–it will turn cloudy and an even paler yellow. Sample as you go to achieve the desired sweetness–limoncello is traditionally served over ice in an iced glass, so you want it sweet enough to be able to sip casually. Cin cin!

 

 

 

AuthorLogo Pinnacle homemade limoncello with pinnacle vodka

Pinnacle Vodka shakes things up with unexpected experiences and delightful discoveries. Explore with other fun flavors at http://pinnaclevodka.com. Also, check us out on Facebook and Twitter, or find more fun entertaining and drink ideas on our Pinterest page.

 

Pinnacle® is a registered trademark of Jim Beam Brands Co. and is used with permission.  This is a sponsored partnership, with Pinnacle® Vodka, via Mode Media.  The information, comments, and ideas expressed on this website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or positions of Jim Beam Brands Co., its affiliated companies, or any of their directors or employees.

angel food cake with strawberry rhubarb compote

homemade angel food cake angel food cake with strawberry rhubarb compote

 

 

Summer days spent at my grandparent’s house came with one specific snack growing up: rhubarb. My grandpa had a whole amazing garden for most of my childhood, so there was never a shortage of fresh veggies for us to get our hands on while we were out playing in back, but rhubarb season was always extra anticipated.

 

I have distinct memories of sitting on their back deck, which was always forest green and forever giving me splinters, dipping long stalks of rhubarb in a huge bowl of sugar with my mom and slowly-but-surely finishing them all. The tangy taste of rhubarb is practically made for desserts, so I wanted to recreate that summer treat alongside one of my grandmas best cake recipes–homemade angel food cake. This combo is seriously out of this world, and it’s the perfect “light” summer dessert. It still feels like a treat, but it’s doesn’t weigh you down!

 

 

egg whites for angel food cake angel food cake with strawberry rhubarb compote angel food cake batter angel food cake with strawberry rhubarb compote

 

For the cake, you’ll need:

  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1 1/2 cups, plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 12 large egg whites, at room temperature

 

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt until foamy peaks form. Add 3/4 cup sugar, then beat on high again, until the mixture forms very stiff peaks (this will take anywhere from 3-5 minutes, so have patience!). Switch the speed to low, then add the flour, vanilla and remaining 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, mixing slowly until combined (you may have to scrape the bottom, just to make sure you don’t have any leftover dry bits).

 

Pour the batter into an ungreased pan, then slam it on the counter once or twice to remove any air pockets. Cook for 30-35 minutes, or until the top has browned significantly and springs back slightly to the touch. Cool upside-down on a wire rack–after 20-30 minutes, run a knife gently around the edges and allow the cake to slide out. Cool for another 10 minutes.

 

 

strawberries and rhubarb angel food cake with strawberry rhubarb compote strawberry rhubarb compote angel food cake with strawberry rhubarb compote

 

For the compote (which totally makes the cake 100 times better, by the way), you’ll need:

 

  • 1 package strawberries, chopped small
  • 1 large stalk rhubarb, chopped small
  • 1 cup sugar

 

Place the chopped strawberries, rhubarb and the sugar in a pan over low heat. Stir to coat the strawberries and rhubarb with the sugar, then allow it to reduce down significantly, stirring occasionally for approximately 20 minutes–it will first become a bit watery, and then more of a mush once the strawberries and rhubarb soften.

 

 

homemade angel food cake with strawberry compote and fresh whipped cream angel food cake with strawberry rhubarb compote

 

 

To serve, cut a generous slice of angel food cake, and top with the compote (warm or cold–it’s good both ways!) and a dollop of Cool Whip or fresh whipped cream. Happy rhubarb season!

 

 

chicken showdown: honey ginger garlic vs. sweet bbq

baked chicken two ways chicken showdown: honey ginger garlic vs. sweet bbq

 

There’s one thing I really hate about living in the city: the absence of a grill. There is nothing I love more when warm weather hits than a few delicious charred pieces of BBQ chicken on the grill. It doesn’t make much sense for us three girls to buy a grill for the (minimal) space outside our apartment, so I knew I needed to come up with a new way to capture that classic grilled chicken taste. Enter: the chicken showdown.

 

This is really just a by-product of boredom one rainy Sunday, but it turned out delicious. I’ve always wanted to try my hand at a sweet homemade BBQ sauce and while I was at it, I whipped up another marinade of honey ginger garlic to see which one came out on top (and wait till you see which got the guy stamp-of-approval).

 

bbq sauce ingredients chicken showdown: honey ginger garlic vs. sweet bbq

 

For the sweet BBQ sauce, you’ll need (this was actually just one big “throw stuff in a pot” experiment, but it turned out good!):

 

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 3 teaspoons ground mustard
  • 1 tablespoon worchestire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (add another 1/4 teaspoon if you want an extra kick!)
  • a pinch of salt and pepper

 

Saute the onion and garlic in the vegetable oil in a large sauce pan until soft and translucent. Add the remaining ingredients in, stirring well to combine/dissolve the sugar. Allow to come to a boil (really more like a “bubble”) then turn down the heat and let it simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

 

 

honey garlic sauce and bbq sauce chicken showdown: honey ginger garlic vs. sweet bbq

 

For the honey ginger garlic sauce, you’ll need:

 

  • 4-5 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger (you can find this in the aisle with all the other spices, typically!)

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until the honey loosens up and combines with the ginger and garlic.

 

chicken drumsticks two ways chicken showdown: honey ginger garlic vs. sweet bbq

 

 

For both sauces, place chicken legs (or breast or whatever you like best!) in a glass baking dish. Pour the sauces over the top, making sure to coat each piece evenly (you can use your hand to disperse the sauce if you need to). Bake at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling and the skin of the chicken has browned (the inside should be juicy and white, with no visible pink).

 

Baked honey garlic chicken chicken showdown: honey ginger garlic vs. sweet bbq baked sweet bbq chicken chicken showdown: honey ginger garlic vs. sweet bbq

 

So the general consensus? Both were delicious, but everyone seemed to like the honey ginger garlic better! Maybe it’s because it was a bit different than the norm–the BBQ ended up tasting like a fresher version of Sweet Baby Rays (a good thing, if you ask me), and the honey ginger garlic with a nice change of pace. Either way, these would both be winners at your next summer weekend party–whether or not you have a grill!

 

 

 

the one where I became a master mixologist

pinnacle cocktail club the one where I became a master mixologist

 

 

Up until last week, the extent of my cocktail mixology skills ranged from pouring a shot to cobbling together a vodka soda. Embarrassing for an almost 25-year-old? Probably. But how many times in your life are you taught how to make actual, three-ingredients-or-more, measured-out cocktails? Not enough times, that’s for sure.

 

Which is why, when Pinnacle Vodka invited me down to the cabanas at the Maritime Hotel in NYC for a little mixology class last week, I was totally on board. Master Mixologist (um, how cool of a job would that be?) Brian van Flandern gave us the basic lowdown on everything an amateur bartender needs to know–how to pour, how to layer the ingredients and how to shake a cocktail just right to achieve the perfect temperature without watering it down. Brian even taught us how to properly “taste” vodka, which I didn’t think was possible without choking, but it really is. First he had us smell the vodka and describe it (similar to what sommeliers do)–Brian’s well-trained nose smelled garden hose and fresh grass…I smelt delicious vodka and college. What can I say, I don’t have an expert palate. Then, while sipping slowly, you’re supposed to exhale through your nose, eliminating that signature vodka “burn” you can sometimes experience–try it out, it totally works!

 

pinnacle dessert table the one where I became a master mixologist

 

dessert table at pinnacle event the one where I became a master mixologist

 

donuts the one where I became a master mixologist

It was a nasty NYC rainy day outside, but the setup inside the event was as cute and festive as could be–think tables themed with desserts that mimicked the cocktails and lights strung over the whole venue. We mixed, mingled and sipped drinks made with some of the newest Pinnacle flavors (out of an impressive 42-flavor line-up…seriously!). One of my favorite combos had to be the tropical martiki, made with Pinnacle‘s Tropical Punch Vodka–if an all-inclusive tropical vacation had a taste, this would be it:

 

Pinnacle Vodka’s Hawaiian Hula Tropical Martiki

  • 1 part Pinnacle Tropical Punch Vodka
  • 2 parts iced tea of your choice
  • Garnish with lots of tropical fruit (we had pineapple, kiwi and raspberry on-hand!).

 

*p.s. “One part” means 1 jigger full, filled to the brim!

 

Now onto the part I’m most excited about: for the next three months, I’ll be partnering up with Pinnacle to bring you guys fun summer entertaining ideas and cocktails for you to re-create at home. I can’t wait to show you everything I’ve cooked–er, mixed–up. If you have any favorite cocktails you’d like to know how to create, send ‘em my way. It’s going to be pretty fun around here the next few months!

 

 

AuthorLogo Pinnacle the one where I became a master mixologist

Pinnacle Vodka shakes things up with unexpected experiences and delightful discoveries. Explore with other fun flavors at http://pinnaclevodka.com. Also, check us out on Facebook and Twitter, or find more fun entertaining and drink ideas on our Pinterest page.

 

 

Pinnacle® is a registered trademark of Jim Beam Brands Co. and is used with permission.  This is a sponsored partnership, with Pinnacle® Vodka, via Mode Media.  The information, comments, and ideas expressed on this website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or positions of Jim Beam Brands Co., its affiliated companies, or any of their directors or employees.

spring crostini trio

spring crostini trio spring crostini trio

 

 

There is nothing more simple, or more delicious, than a crostini. They’re my favorite easy “dish” to whip up in the face of unexpected company, and I could honestly probably eat an entire platters worth all by myself.

 

During the winter months, I tend to go for something a little more savory, with toasted bread and warm, gooey toppings–but once spring hits, I’m all for cool, fresh, colorful ingredients. I’ve rounded up three options that are perfect for your next happy hour, outdoor picnic or girl’s night in–and take no time at all.

 

peach and goat cheese crostini spring crostini trio

 

Peach, Goat Cheese and Basil Crostini

 

Start with a fresh baguette, sliced thin. Top with goat cheese (it will spread easier the closer it gets to room temperature), chopped basil and sliced peaches. Finish with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

 

peach crostini spring crostini trio

 

 

brussels sprout and white bean crostini spring crostini trio

 

Brussels Sprout, White Bean and Pecorino Crostini

 

Remove the stem and rough outer leaves of the brussels sprouts, then shred fine with a sharp knife (I cut them in half first, and then each half into very thin strips, breaking them apart with my hands when I was done so they resemble cabbage or something similar). Add to a bowl with white beans, chopped red onion and shaved pecorino cheese. Toss with a tablespoon (or two, depending on your serving size) Italian salad dressing and throw on top of some fresh baguette slices.

 

spring pea and ricotta crostini spring crostini trio

 

Spring Pea and Ricotta Crostini

 

Put two cups of fresh or frozen peas in a food processor, along with salt, pepper and 2 teaspoons of truffle oil. Blend on high, stopping to stir occasionally, until the mixture is thick but no longer chunky. Spread onto slices of fresh baguette and top with a dollop of ricotta cheese, salt and pepper.

 

spring crostini spring crostini trio

 

 

 

deconstructed falafel bowl

falafel ingredients deconstructed falafel bowl

 

Falafel was the first thing I ever ate from a food truck. Picking up a snack, or even a full-blown meal from a food truck is pretty much a rite of passage for New Yorkers, and when it came time to stamp my card, I beelined straight for falafel in a wine-induced euphoria. It. Was. Amazing. Let me tell you, for as sketchy as some of those random stands on side streets in NYC seem, there are some real food gems hidden amongst them. Along with E. Coli and sewage rat, probably. Let’s not go there.

 

Now that I’ve ruined all your appetites, I’ll try and rev them back up again with a super-simple, super flavorful falafel recipe. I’m calling this a “deconstructed” falafel bowl, which is really just a fancy dumb way of saying it’s everything good that comes in a pita dumped into the bowl, without the pita so you don’t feel quite as guilty.

 

falafel in a food processor deconstructed falafel bowl

 

 

For the falafel, throw one can of rinsed chickpeas (about 1 1/2 cups), the juice of 1/2 a lemon, 2 tablespoons chopped garlic and 1 cup lightly packed fresh parsley into a food processor. Pulse on “grind” until the ingredients have turned mushy (but are still a bit chunky) and have combined well. Spoon out into a bowl, then add 1/4 cup flour and 1 teaspoon baking powder (this is also the time to add things like cumin or chili powder if you want a little kick).

 

 

falafel dough deconstructed falafel bowl

 

 

Stir until combined, so that there are no streaks of flour or seasoning showing–it should be dry and dough-y in consistency. Wrap in plastic wrap and store in the fridge for a half hour.

 

falafel patties deconstructed falafel bowl homemade falafel deconstructed falafel bowl

 

 

Once you’re ready, form the falafel into flat disks with your hand and fry on low in a bit of extra virgin olive oil, leaving them to brown on each side about 2 minutes (but check them occasionally just to be sure!). Set them to drain on a piece of clean paper towel (ed note: they’re really delicious just like this, so be sure not to eat too many of them or you’ll have none left for your bowl!).

 

deconstructed falafel bowl deconstructed falafel bowl

 

Now the fun part: bowl construction! Throw in some greens (I opted for baby kale), some veggies (I went with cucumbers, yellow pepper and heirloom tomatoes) and a bit of feta cheese. Top with your warm falafel and lemon tahini “dressing” (it’s really just one clove garlic, 1/2 cup tahini, 3/4 cup water and the juice of one lemon whisked together with some salt and pepper). Enjoy!

 

 

 

basic creme brûlée

basic creme brulee recipe basic creme brûlée

Considering my unplanned absence from this place, I figured I better make it up to you with a really delicious dessert. Creme brûlée is one of my favorite things to order when I’m out to eat–it just feels fancy, and since it’s something that, up until now, I’ve never made on my own, I always jump at the chance to have it.

 

Here’s the thing though–I haven’t the slightest idea how to make creme brûlée. Cookies? Nailed it. Cake? I’m your girl. But fancy-pants desserts like this? Ehhh….not so much. Never one to shy away from a challenge, I turned to the one woman who I knew could make a creme brûlée goddess out of me. Martha Stewart, of course.

 

eggs for basic creme brulee basic creme brûlée

real vanilla bean basic creme brûlée uncooked creme brulee basic creme brûlée

 

 

And wouldn’t you know it, but creme brûlée is actually really, really easy to make. I know that sounds like a ridiculous notion, but I promise that if you use this recipe (I tried out a few before posting this, and all honestly, Martha’s really was the best. I’m not just saying that!), involve a little patience and some good tunes, you will end the day with a creme brûlée worthy of the fanciest of restaurants.

 

cooked creme brulee without sugar basic creme brûlée

 

But let’s be honest–we all order creme brûlée for that crunchy sugar topping, right? Glad we’re on the same page. Traditionally, the sugar crust on top is achieved using a culinary blow torch, but I speak for everyone when I say that that is a terrible idea for me. Instead, I opted to melt the sugar crust under the broiler, which worked fine, more or less. A few broiler tips: do not close your oven door. That will cause the heat to stay in the oven and overcook the creme brûlée, which will make them chunky and gross. What you want to do is start with a cold oven, and very (very very) cold, pre-cooked creme brûlée ramekins (you could even put them in the freezer for a few minutes before broiling.) Sprinkle the sugar on top, and place them directly under the broiler flame, with the wire oven rack set as high up and close to the flame as it can go. Then, keeping your oven door slightly ajar, allow them to brûlée–the tops will get all melty, then eventually brown up and harden (once you remove them from the heat, that is). You may have to rotate them if you find they’re not browning evenly. 
 
basic creme brulee basic creme brûlée
 
Overall, these were creamy, decadent and really, really delicious. Serve ‘em up cold right after cooking–maybe with a strawberry on top for an extra dose of class. Enjoy!