Sunday, July 17, 2011


Butterbeer is one of those things that I've wanted to try since reading about it in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.  I knew it obviously was a fictional drink*, but much like I wanted the magical world of Harry Potter to be real, I also wanted the treats from the books to be real as well.  With the final movie just having been released, there has been a proliferation of Harry Potter inspired treats making their way around the internet which has awakened my craving, and since The Wizarding World of Harry Potter made Butterbeer real, I knew it was something that I just had to make.... it's taken me this long, but I have finally lived the dream!!  Now, since I've never been to the theme park (which hopefully I'll remedy someday relatively soon!!), I have no idea whether this version tastes like theirs, but I have to say that it is still incredibly delicious, and very much like how I imagined butterbeer tasting- namely, butterscotchesque.  This drink is fizzy, creamy, sweet and very easy to make.  This is a non-alcoholic version, but you can spike the drink as well.

*Apparently Buttered Beer was a real drink in ye olden times consisting of beer, sugar, eggs, nutmeg, cloves and butter, and another old recipe calls for liquorish root and anise seeds to be added..... muy interestante!

from The Pastry Affair, originally adapted from The Huffington Post

Makes 4 drinks (*if you want to share, that is)

1 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp water
4 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup heavy cream, divided
Four 12-ounce bottles cream soda, chilled

1. Combine brown sugar and water in a small saucepan.  Heat on medium, and bring to a boil, stirring frequently.  Cook until mixture reached 240 degrees F on a candy thermometer, or if you don't have one like me, bring to a gentle boil, and cook for about one minute, then remove from the heat.
2. Once removed from heat, add butter, salt, vinegar and 1/4 cup heavy cream.  Stir until the mixture is smooth, and then cool to room temperature.
3. Once the brown sugar mixture is cooled, beat together 2 tbsp of the mixture with the remaining 1/2 cup heavy cream until it forms soft-peaks- this will make some really delicious whipped cream!
4. In your serving glass, combine 1/4 cup brown sugar syrup with 1/4 cup cream soda, stir until combined.  Top with remaining cream soda, and then with some whipped cream.

  • The original recipe in the Huffington Post includes 1/2 tsp of rum extract stirred into the brown sugar syrup along with the butter, salt vinegar and cream.  I didn't have any rum extract in my pantry, but if you do, and want to try that, go for it!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Paprika Shrimp Quesadillas

Who doesn't love a delicious quesadilla?  I mean, it's basically cheese and a tortilla filled with any delicious combination of veggies/meats/whatever you can dream up?! Any food that derives from the word "cheese" is automatically awesome, right?  Some of my favorite combos are chorizo and jalapeno, and chicken and peppers.  I've actually never made one containing shrimp before, but this one is delicious.  The shrimp are so flavorful on their own, especially with the addition of the smoked paprika (my new favorite spice), but the combination of them with the cheese, scallions, cilantro, and tomatoes make them even better.... and it's such an easy meal which makes it perfect for a weeknight.  

Paprika Shrimp Quesadillas

Serves 4 to 6

1 lb large shrimp, shelled and deveined
Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
1 1/2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
Salt and pepper
1 lime, juiced
A small handful of cilantro, finely chopped
8 large tortillas
2 plum or vine tomatoes, seeded and diced
4 scallions
2 1/2 cups shredded monterey jack cheese

Guacamole and/or sour cream for serving

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, or a grill, griddle or grill pan to medium-high.
2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Toss shrimp with a drizzle of olive oil, smoked paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Add the shrimp to the pan, and cook until done, about 4-6 minutes.  When done, add lime juice, toss, and remove from heat.
3. Remove the shrimp from the pan, and chop into smallish pieces.  Place in a bowl, add cilantro, and toss together.
4. To assemble the quesadillas, place half of the tortillas on  foil-lined baking sheet(s) (you will need 2 baking sheets, or you can do this in 2 batches).  Sprinkle cheese onto each.  Then sprinkle on shrimp, tomatoes and scallions.  Top each with another tortilla.  
5. Pop into the oven and bake 5-7 minutes until the cheese is melted.  
6. Cut into wedges and serve.

  • Alternately, you can do this all on a grill, as the original recipe calls for.  (If you are lucky and it's not raining when you are making these!)  For grilling, preheat your grill to medium-high heat.  Once you toss the shrimp with the spices, thread them onto a skewer and grill for about 2 minutes per side.  Pour the lime juice over them before removing from the grill.  Then chop and sprinkle with cilantro.  To make the quesadillas on the grill, it's easier if you place the ingredients on half of each tortillas and fold over, so that only one side is open.  Spray with cooking spray, and place on grill for about 5 minutes, turning once.
  • Even without the extra-smokiness that grilling these would have given the quesadillas, they were still awesome!  I used hot smoked paprika, rather than sweet smoked paprika.  Feel free to use either, just make sure it's the fancy smoked stuff!
  • The original recipe calls for avocado to be inside of the quesadilla as well, but I decided to make guacamole instead.  It's totally up to you.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Chipotle Turkey Burgers

I know, I know, another burger recipe... but hey, it's summer!  ... and today's the 4th of July, and burgers are one of those quintessentially American things, along with hot dogs, and apple pie, and fried chicken.... I actually did not make these to celebrate the holiday, but I think they'd be a great thing to make today.  So they are not traditional burgers, but a really delicious riff ... chipotle peppers and abobo sauce mixed into the meat, topped with avocado, tomatillo, and cilantro.  Awesome!

Happy Independence Day!!

Chipotle Turkey Burgers

Serves 4

1 lb ground turkey, preferably dark meat
2 tsp minced chipotle in adobo plus 1 tsp adobo sauce
2 garlic cloves, pressed
4 slices Muenster cheese
4 hamburger buns, toasted
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 large tomatillo, husked and rinsed, then sliced
1/2 small avocado, sliced
1/2 cup cilantro sprigs

  1. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat.  
  2. Gently mix ground turkey with the chopped chipotles, adobo sauce, garlic, and a scant tsp of salt.  Make 4 3/4-inch thick patties.
  3. Oil the grill grates, and place the burgers on the grill.  Grill 5 minutes on one side, flip, and grill 4 minutes on the other.  Top each with a slice of cheese and grill 1 minute more.
  4. Assemble the burgers by spreading the buns with mayonnaise, placing the burger on top, and then topping with tomatillos, avocado, and cilantro.

  • The original recipe calls for ground pork, which you can certainly use as well!
  • The chipotle flavor in this is fairly subtle.  To amp it up a bit, next time I'll be adding some chopped chipotles and adobo sauce to the mayonnaise.  Yum!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Jalapeno Popper Sliders

So burgers mixed with jalapeno poppers sounds awesome, am I right?  When I saw this in Rachel Ray's Everyday magazine I just couldn't resist trying out this combo.  Yep, once again I'm back with some Rachel Ray... I picked this particular issue up at the grocery store recently as I had finished all the food magazines I subscribe to, and an amazing looking burger beckoned to me from the cover.  Not the popper sliders, but rather a burger topped with an extra-thick onion ring.  Perusing the magazine though brought me to these sliders, and I knew that I would have to try them.  I mean, who doesn't like jalapeno poppers?  (It's okay if you don't, I won't judge you too harshly.)  So in this recipe, a mini-burger is topped with the ingredients of a jalapeno popper- a seasoned cream cheese, sauteed jalapenos, and a bit more cheese for good measure- covering both jalapeno poppers stuffed with cream cheese, and those stuffed with a cheddar cheese.  It's the best of both worlds.

Jalapeno Popper Sliders

Makes 6 sliders

3 jalapeno peppers, seeded and cut into rounds, or strips
1 red Fresno chile pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
Extra virgin olive oil or vegetable oil, for drizzling
4 oz cream cheese
1 tbsp grated onion
1 large clove garlic, grated or pressed
A small handful of cilantro leaves, finely chopped
1/4 tsp ground cumin
salt and pepper
1 lb ground beef
2 oz. sharp or smoked cheddar, or smoked Gouda, sliced
6 slider rolls, such as 3-inch brioche rolls, or cornmeal topped dinner rolls, split

1. Preheat your grill (or griddle or grill pan) to medium-high heat.
2. Heat a medium skillet over medium high heat and add jalapenos and Fresno chile peppers.  Cook for a couple of minutes, stirring frequently, until they are charred on the edges, and crisp-tender.
3. In a small bowl, mix together the cream cheese, onion, garlic, cilantro and cumin.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  
4. Season the ground beef with salt and pepper.  Form 6 small patties, with an indentation in the center of each. Brush the grill with canola oil (or other oil with a higher smoke point).  Place the patties on the grill, and grill for 2-3 minutes.  Flip the burger, top with a dollop of cream cheese mixture, and a piece of sliced cheese.  Grill for 2-3 minutes more until the burger is cooked, and the cheese is melted.
5. Place the burgers on the rolls, and top with the chile peppers.

  • For the last step of the recipe, when you have flipped the burger and placed the cheeses on top, the original recipe says to put the cover of the grill down, or tent with tinfoil to promote melting.  I really didn't think this was a necessary step, as my cheese melted just fine without the top down.  
  • I loved these burgers, but next time I want to try stuffing the burger with jalapenos, cream cheese, and cheese to make it even more exciting!  A burger stuffed with jalapeno popper ingredients sounds even awesomer to me- maybe stuffed and topped with them.... hmmmmm...
  • Also next time I won't seed the peppers, as with them de-seeded there was very little heat.  It is perfect this way if you like mild food, but since I like things spicy, hopefully keeping the seeds in will be just the thing to literally spice things up.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Roasted Fingerling Potato Salad

Potato salad is one of those quintessentially summer foods- one that time and time again makes an appearance at cookouts, summer parties, and as a side dish to summer grilling staples- steak, barbecued chicken, ribs, etc.  Now while I love the standard potato salad, it can be a bit heavy, and also doesn't take well to sitting out in the hot sun.  So here's a different take on potato salad- one that doesn't include mayonnaise and has roasted, rather than boiled potatoes.  It's basically just roasted potatoes, with an herb salad on top, and it is different and delicious, and very versatile as you can pretty much use whatever combination of herbs you like..... and it uses fingerling potatoes which are just so darned cute!  Yes, I admit that I am a sucker for cute foods.... and cute packaging.... and fingerling potatoes may be one of the cutest foods out there!  Ya know what's also cute?  My animals!

Anywho..... here's the recipe :)

Roasted Fingerling Potato Salad
from Bon Appetit, June 2010

Serves 4-6

2 tbsp plus 2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional for brushing
1 1/2 pounds 1-inch-diameter fingerling potatoes, halved lengthwise
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves
2 tbsp fresh tarragon leaves
1 1/2 tbsp Banyuls vinegar or red wine vinegar
1 tbsp coarse-grained Dijon mustard
2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled, chopped*

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees, with rack in bottom-third position.
2. Brush a rimmed baking sheet with olive oil.
3. Place the halved potatoes in a bowl, with 2 tbsp of olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss together so that potatoes are coated.
4. Arrange the potatoes cut side down on the baking sheet, and roast for about 23 minutes, until they are browned on the cut side.  Turn the potatoes over, and roast until done, about 12 minutes.  Potatoes should be crisp, golden, and tender. Season the potatoes to taste with salt and pepper.
5.  In a small bowl, combine green onions, parsley, tarragon, vinegar, mustard, and 2 tsp of olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.
6. Transfer the roasted potatoes to a serving dish.  Top with the herb salad, and the eggs.

* For hard-boiled eggs, place the eggs in a saucepan and cover with about an inch of water.  Bring the water to a boil, and when it begins to boil, remove the pan from the heat, cover, and let sit for 11 minutes.  Transfer the eggs to a bowl of ice water.  Drain and peel!

  • I love the original combination of herbs in this dish, but you can really use any combination you like- chives and basil come to mind as some alternates.  If you've never had tarragon, it does have a licoricey flavor that some may not like- although, my boyfriend does not like licorice, and he liked the tarragon in this dish. (I never pointed out the flavor either, so maybe he likes licorice and doesn't know it!)
  • If you don't like eggs feel free to leave them out.
  • While the fingerling potatoes were excellent in this, any roasted potato would work, just cut them into 1/2 inch wedges and you should be good to go.

BLTs with Roasted Red Pepper Mayonnaise

There are many cooking-related things that I have never done before- for example, I've never baked bread, made hollandaise sauce, made a crepe, or made homemade mayonnaise.  All of these things intimidate me for one reason or another, and so many of these things made it onto my resolutions list for the new year.

After perusing Joy the Baker one day (if you haven't visited her website, do so, it's awesome!), I came upon a post on the best BLTs, complete with roasted red pepper mayonnaise.  BLTs are such a great thing to make in the summer when the tomatoes are fresh, and you don't want to use your oven.  The only cooking involved is cooking the bacon (which you can cook in the oven, but I do on the stovetop for the most part).  I figured her roasted red pepper mayonnaise was just the thing to kick these already delicious sandwiches up a notch, and give me the drive to make my own mayonnaise.  I was so surprised at how easy it was- if you have a food processor that is (someday I'll try making it by hand).  That's one resolution I can now check off my list!

Roasted Red Pepper Mayonnaise
from Joy the Baker, originally adapted from Fat

Makes about 1 cup

1 large egg yolk
3/4 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
1 roasted red pepper, coarsely chopped (jarred, or homemade)
3/4 cup canola or grapeseed oil

1. Combine the egg yolk, mustard, lemon juice, and roasted red pepper in a food processor.  Mix about 30 seconds.  Add a pinch of salt and pepper and blend again for a couple seconds.
2. With the food processor running, slowly add the oil.  It'll start to emulsify fairly quickly, and it will take about 1-2 minutes to thicken to mayonnaise consistency.  Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste.

  • The leftover mayonnaise can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator and will last for 3-4 days.
  • The recipe makes a good amount, so you'll probably will have a good amount leftover, depending on how many BLTs you are making. You could use the mayo on any type of sandwich or burger, as a dipping sauce for potato wedges, in egg or potato or chicken salad, as a dipping sauce for artichoke leaves..... whatever you want!!


Good bread, toasted
Bacon, cooked
Tomato, sliced thinly or thickly
Lettuce (romaine, iceberg, butter, Boston....)  I used some lettuce from my garden!
Cheese (optional)
Roasted Red Pepper Mayonnaise

1.  Ummm... so you don't really need instructions to make this sandwich!  Just take your toasted bread, slather it with mayo, and top it with bacon, lettuce and tomato (and cheese if you want).  Eat and enjoy!