RECIPE: Sriracha Sweet Nuts

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Sriracha Sweet Nuts 

1 1/2 cups of mixed nuts (cashews, peanuts and almonds. We preferred the almonds the best, so you could just do almonds if you wish) 
1 1/2 tablespoons of Sriracha sauce 
1 tablespoon of fresh ground spice blend for poultry or vegetables (such as Rachel Ray Seasoning Grinders)
2 tablespoons of soy sauce 
1 tablespoon of olive oil 
1/2 teaspoon of Sea salt 
1/2 teaspoon of sugar 
Preheat oven to 350°. Toss the nuts with the spices, soy sauce and Sriracha, salt, sugar and mix. Then add the oil last and toss to coat. Lay them on a foil lined baking sheet evenly and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, tossing the nuts around a couple times so that they dry out and roast on all sides. Once toasted and dry, pull them out and let cool. Serve in a bowl with some cocktails.

RECIPE: Apple Fennel Cranberry Slaw

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It's summer, which means salad season!
This little number I adapted from I kicked up the dressing to give it more flavor, and added nuts and cranberries that work nicely with the sweet and anise flavors in the slaw.

I made this for a 4th of July picnic last year and it was a big hit. Summer means easy and no hot ovens, so grow your repertoire of slaws and salads to keep yourself out of the kitchen and on your deck with your family. Summer is so short, enjoy every minute!

Apple Fennel Cranberry Slaw

4 tablespoons olive oil 
2 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar 
1 teaspoon fresh tarragon
1 tablespoon chopped fennel fronds
2 teaspoons lemon juice 
1/4 teaspoon sugar 
1 tablespoon of honey 
1 tablespoon of water 
salt & fresh ground pepper

4 celery stalks 
1 1/2 small fennel bulbs 
one firm crisp apple, like a pink lady or a Granny Smith, julienne 
half a teaspoon of kosher salt and fresh ground pepper 
1/2 cup of chopped cashews 
1/4 cup dried cranberries, optional 

In a small bowl prep your marinade. Whisk together the apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, tarragon, sugar, honey, water, tarragon and chopped fennel fronds. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Finally, add the olive oil as you whisk to emulsify the marinade. Set aside briefly. 

Next use a mandolin to slice thinly the anise bulbs and the celery stalks. If you don't have a mandolin, slice the fennel and the celery very thinly on a nice diagonal. Next core the apple, and julienne. In a large bowl add the sliced fennel, celery, and apples. Add the marinade, and toss to coat. Let the slaw marinate in the refrigerator for a few hours. Before serving, add the chopped cashews and the dried cranberries if using, and mix. Serve slightly chilled.

RECIPE: Lemon Bundt Cake with Lemon Curd Filling and Sweet Basil Drizzle

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I made up this cake. Yup. All me.

I had a teeny bit of ricotta left from one recipe, I had a handful of sour cream left over from another. I had left over lemon juice and zest from another recipe. I had jarred lemon curd that was about to expire (my hubby saw it on sale and bought jars of it! Still trying to figure out what to do with the rest! Poor hubster...trying to be helpful. Now I have to bake my tushie off to use up lemon curd so I don't feel guilty.)


I also had a box of plain yellow cake getting close to expiration date as well. So I decided to use all this stuff up on a magical concoction. I was curious how the lemon curd would hold up while baking. It actually works really well. I also got to use some of my newly bottled basil extract for the drizzle. It's ever so subtle but works well with the tart lemon flavor. If you don't have basil extract handy, you can just sub. in lemon juice, or maybe make some strong basil tea my steeping some leaves in some hot water for a bit.

If you wish to learn how to make some basil extract to keep in your cupboard, here is a how to video on my youtube channel. It's part of a series I made about using herbs and florals in ways to make adding them to sweets easier. It was also to help launch my ebook, Savoring Sweet, available on all ereaders imaginable (shameless plug, I know).

Lemon Bundt Cake Filled with Lemon Curd and Sweet Basil Drizzle

1 yellow box cake (we prefer Betty Crocker)
1/4 cup of whole milk ricotta
1/4 cup of sour cream
1 teaspoon of lemon zest
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
1/3 cup of Canola oil
3 eggs
nonstick cooking spray and plain breadcrumbs for the pan
Jarred lemon Curd

2 Tsp. basil extract (see note below)
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1 Tbsp. melted butter
1 Tbsp. milk

Preheat oven to 350˚.

Pour your cake mix in a giant bowl. In a smaller bowl whisk together the ricotta, sour cream, lemon zest, lemon juice, oil and eggs until smooth and combined. Pour the wet mixture into the dry cake mix. Whisk until combined and whipped. Set aside.

Spray your bunt pan with nonstick cooking spray and sprinkle breadcrumbs inside. Tilt and tap to coat all sides and center tube so that it's all lightly coated with bread crumbs. This is a trick that I've been using to get my Bundt cakes out of pans and it works like a charm. I've never had a cake get stuck since and you can't tell that there were breadcrumbs on the pan.

Pour half your batter into the pan. Lay a track of lemon curd along the center of the batter. I used about 1/2 -3/4 cup of lemon curd. You can ladle more in there if you wish for more filling. Then gently spoon the rest of the batter over it. Tap the sides and gently use a spatula to make the batter is even and to completely cover the lemon curd filling.

Bake for 40 minutes until puffy and golden. Let cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes then invert onto a cooling rack to cool completely. 

Make the basil drizzle. 
In a small bowl melt the butter in the microwave. Then combine 1 to 2 teaspoons of basil extract (see post) and a tablespoon of milk and half a cup of confectioners sugar. Combine until able to be drizzled- adjust wet or dry ingredients to accommodate for the drizzle factor. Drizzle the top of your cake on a serving platter. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream

RECIPE: Fusilli Spinach and Broccolini in Creamy Ricotta Sauce

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We like our Cook's Illustrated, a lot. And we noticed a savory recipe on how to make a ricotta pasta that is creamy v.s. grainy that we decided to try last weekend. It's actually not that complicated. It was very light and fresh with a zing of lemon and fresh greens. We switched up the spinach to include broccolini. We used Gluten Free noodles (so my daughter didn't have tummy issues) and we added a little bit of chicken bouillon to deepen the flavor a little. The key to creamy versus grainy? Whipping some ricotta with olive oil to dollop on top when serving and adding cream to the ricotta when making the sauce. The results were a big thumbs up around the dinner table. 

Fusilli Spinach and Broccolini with Creamy Ricotta Sauce
11 oz. of whole milk ricotta cheese 
3 tablespoons of olive oil 
salt and ground pepper 
1 pound fusilli 
8 ounces of baby spinach, chopped coarse 
8 ounces of broccolini, rinsed, trimmed and chopped into 1-2 inch chunks
4 garlic cloves, finely minced 
1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg 
1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper 
1/2 teaspoon of "Better than Bouillon" chicken broth base 
1/4 cup heavy cream 
1 teaspoon of fresh grated lemon zest 
2 teaspoons of lemon juice 
1 ounce of grated Parmesan cheese plus extra for serving i

In a small bowl whisk 1 cup ricotta with a tablespoon of olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon of fresh ground pepper and a teaspoon of salt until smooth and creamy. Set this aside until serving.

Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook pasta according to package directions with a tablespoon of salt, stirring often. Usually pasta takes about nine minutes or so. Halfway through the cooking time (around five minutes) throw in the broccolini to get to tender in the hot water and cook for another 3 1/2 minutes. The last 30 seconds or so add the chopped baby spinach. They just need to be blanched for 30 to 40 seconds. At this point everything should be ready. Reserve half a cup of cooking water and drain the whole pot. Keep the pasta and greens warm until ready to add to the sauce.

In a large sauté pan heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sauté the garlic. As the garlic starts to brown add the nutmeg and cayenne. Then take off the heat, whisk in 1/3 cup of ricotta, the 1/4 cup cream, the bouillon base, the lemon zest and the juice until smooth. Now add the pasta to the ricotta cream mixture and toss to combine them. Add the Parmesan and let the pasta rest for 2 to 4 minutes. The starch will thicken up the sauce, but if it becomes too thick use the cooking water a little bit to loosen it up. If you like it thicker, skip the water. Spoon the pasta into platters and dollop and nice serving of the ricotta on top. Sprinkle with fresh ground pepper and serve with some extra Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

RECIPE: No Bake Whole Grain Nutella Drops

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Question, which one is a perfect reason to make no bake cookies?
A: Hot summer months means no stove to keep your house cool.
B: Teach young children how to cook without using the oven, by measuring and mixing.
C: You found out at bedtime you owe treats for school the next day, and you've been working all day.
D: All of the above.

People-all of the above.
Add Nutella as letter E, and you should make these RIGHT NOW. 

You're welcome.

No Bake Whole Grain Nutella Drops

1/4 cup of ground cocoa
1/2 stick of butter 
1/2 cup of Nutella 
1/2 cup of sugar 
dash of salt 
1/4 cup of milk 
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla 
1 1/2 cups of old-fashioned oatmeal
1/2 cup of Grape Nuts Cereal 
1/4 cup ground/chopped toasted hazelnuts

1 square chocolate almond bark and a tsp. Canola oil melted together for drizzle

In a saucepan melt the butter, sugar, cocoa, milk and vanilla. Heat and boil for one minute then remove from heat and stir in Nutella, oatmeal, Grape Nuts and hazelnuts. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Drop the Nutella mixture in tablespoonfulls on parchment and shape into circles. Let the cookies dry out for 30-40 minutes. Basically they will sit and air dry and harden until they're able to be handled. Melt the chocolate almond bark with the oil and drizzle all over the cookies using fork tines. Let the drizzle set. Store in an airtight container in between parchment paper. You will make roughly 2 dozen cookies.

Note-if it is very humid in your kitchen, your cookies may not harden, and may need to sit in a low temp oven to dry out.

RECIPE: Peach and Mint Infused Iced Tea

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Peach and Mint Infused Iced Tea



Cold brew iced tea bags, enough to make 2 qts.
1-2 ripe peaches, peeled and pitted then finely chopped
1 Tbsp. chopped mint leaves
Dash of salt
1 Tbsp. orange juice
1/2 tsp. sugar


In a small bowl, mix the peaches with the orange juice, mint and sugar. Let sit for 30 minutes. Mash the peach mixture with a pastry cutter or potato masher. Let sit for another 30 minutes. (if you wish to get more intense peach flavor, cook this mixture down over medium heat and reduce it to 3/4 of the liquid, then cool.)

Meanwhile brew the tea according to package directions. When the mashed peaches are ready, force them through a fine seive using the back of a spoon. Add the strained juice to the iced tea and mix well. Sweeten as desired. Store in a container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
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