Drink of the week (a little late)…

If you follow me on Facebook, you saw this picture of a delicious Lemon-Thyme Tequila Spritzer last Thursday:

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You also saw that I promised a recipe Friday, which has long since passed. Here’s what happened. After sipping on several of these beauties, I decided that I needed to play around with the original recipe, which didn’t happen until much later in the weekend.

When I started this blog (a distant three weeks ago…) I knew that I wanted to share tried-and-true recipes. I want my readers to be able to come here and know they are getting a great recipe. I promise that I will never post a recipe that I have not tested, tasted and approved. Lots of the recipes I will share will be from other sources. I will always credit and link to the original recipe. However, there will be many times that I will put my own twist or infuse my personal taste on something, which I will also share within the post. 

This recipe is no different. The original inspiration for this recipe came from a post on Pinterest, from another blog, Love and Homemade Recipes. I am a big fan of herbs in my cocktails, so I knew I had to give this one a try. The original recipe is lovely – though, I felt I wanted to tweak it a little for my tastes.

Here’s what you’ll need:

 Ingredients

Organic lemons, sugar, thyme, good tequila (I use Patron), and sparkling water. First thing you want to do is make the simple syrup. If you are able, make this in advance, so it has time to cool and the thyme can to infuse the syrup. Combine 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water, the zest of 2 lemons and a bunch of thyme (the more you add, the more thyme flavor you’ll get) in a saucepan. If you are unable to make the syrup in advance, put more thyme in. Bring syrup to a low boil and simmer for 5 – 10 minutes. Let syrup cool completely. 

By the way, does everyone have a zester? It is an indispensible kitchen tool that will make quick work of the zesting task. I also use mine for grating small amounts of parmesan cheese or shaved chocolate. This is what one looks like. You can buy them at any kitchen supply store.

rasp

 Ok, back to the recipe. Squeeze the juice of six lemons and strain the juice into a small pitcher (1L). Add 1/2 cup tequila to the pitcher, the cooled simple syrup, a handful of ice and fill the remainder of the pitcher with sparkling water. Stir well. Float some lemon slices and sprigs of thyme in the pitcher for decoration. Fill some pretty glasses with lemon slices, a sprig of thyme, ice and the spritzer and enjoy!

This is a delightfully refreshing drink – I hope you love it as much as I do!

Lemon-Thyme Tequila Spritzer
A deliciously refreshing summer cocktail.
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Ingredients
  1. Lemon-Thyme Simple Syrup
  2. 1 cup sugar
  3. 1 cup water
  4. 2 organic lemons, zested
  5. 10 sprigs thyme
To prepare drink
  1. 6 lemons, juiced and strained
  2. 1/2 cup good tequila
  3. sparkling water
  4. ice
  5. lemon slices
  6. thyme sprigs (for garnish)
Instructions
  1. Combine sugar, water, lemon zest and thyme sprigs in saucepan. Bring to low boil and simmer for 5 - 10 minutes. Cool completely.
  2. Strain simple syrup and pour into a small pitcher, combine lemon juice, tequila, a handful of ice, and fill the remaining space with sparkling water. Stir well. Serve over ice with lemon slices and a sprig of thyme for garnish.
Notes
  1. Try to make the simple syrup ahead of time and leave the thyme sprigs in the syrup to infuse more flavor.
Adapted from Kelly Brisson, The Gouda Life
Good at Everything http://goodateverything.net/

 

 

 

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The proper thing to bring to a potluck…

Ok, truth time, I didn’t just bring Sangria to the potluck. I didn’t want to look like a complete boozebag, so, I also brought Ina Garten’s Pesto, Pasta and Pea Salad. It is always a hit and makes a lot. I made a few changes to the recipe, just for convenience, however, Ina’s recipe is fabulous on it’s own. 

I love Ina. I think anybody learning to cook should pick up at least one of her cookbooks. Her recipes are simple and delicious. I have never made anything from her cookbooks that has disappointed (some will say that she uses a bit too much salt, so, just be careful there…). I always know I can trust her recipes. She tests the heck out of them and our palates seem to be a match.

Plus, her husband, Jeffery, is about the cutest man on the planet. They adore each other so much, and it just puts a big grin to my face every time I see them together. It is my dream to cook with her one day. She has been such an inspiration to me, she has taken risks and worked hard to build her business, all the while, pursuing her passion.

I’ll stop with my lovefest. For now. On to the recipe!

First, you’ll need two pounds of pasta – the recipe calls for two types, bow-tie and fusilli. The two just give a little contrast and pep up the salad a bit. Use your judgment – if you only want to use one kind of pasta, go for it. 

dry pasta

I cook them separately, in well-salted, oiled water, to ensure even cooking. If you have time, you can dump the first round of water and boil a new batch of water for the second pasta. However, don’t sweat it if you are rushed for time. Just re-boil the water and cook pasta number two. I’ve done it both ways, and can’t tell the difference – and no one died. Put the cooked pasta in a large bowl and toss with some olive oil to keep it from sticking.

ingredients

While you are cooking the pasta, prepare the dressing. You’ll need pesto (I used pre-made, but this would be even better with fresh pesto),  pine nuts, frozen (defrosted) peas, frozen spinach (defrosted and drained), lemons, mayonnaise, and parmesan cheese.

In a food processor, combine the spinach, pesto, and lemon juice. Puree together. Next, mix in the mayonnaise.

mixer mayo

Pre-heat a dry pan over medium heat, and toast the pine nuts until golden brown. Make sure the pan is big enough for the pine nuts to lay in a single layer.

 pine nuts

Once the pasta has cooled, combine the pesto dressing, peas, pine nuts, salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese. Mix until all is evenly combined.

final salad

That’s it! You’re done. Now, go sneak a glass of sangria.

Lots of love, Carrie

Pasta, Pesto and Peas
Serves 15
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
16 min
Total Time
36 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
16 min
Total Time
36 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 pound fusilli pasta
  2. 1 pound bow tie pasta
  3. 1/4 cup good olive oil
  4. 1 3/4 cups pesto (packaged or homemade)
  5. 1 (16-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
  6. 4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  7. 1 1/2 cups good mayonnaise
  8. 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  9. 1 1/2 cups frozen peas, defrosted
  10. 1/3 cup pine nuts
  11. 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  12. 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta according to packages, separately, in well-oiled, salted water. Set pasta aside in a large bowl and toss with some olive oil.
  2. In a food processor, puree the spinach, pesto, and lemon juice. Add the mayonnaise and mix well.
  3. Pre-heat a dry pan to medium heat and toast the pine nuts in a single layer until golden brown.
  4. Combine pesto mixture, salt, pepper, parmesan, peas, and pine nuts with the cooled pasta. Stir until well combined. Season to taste.
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa Parties!
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa Parties!
Good at Everything http://goodateverything.net/
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What I bring to a potluck

This past weekend, we gathered with all the families in my son’s preschool class for an end-of-the-year potluck. While most people brought lovely salads, fruit, juice boxes, etc. I brought sangria. Now, one might argue that sangria might not be appropriate for a school potluck. I don’t need to argue with you, because you are wrong. Want to know how I know this? Because it was gone. Not a drop left. And I only had 1.5 glasses.

This recipe is for a classic red wine sangria and is divine. I have been making it for years and have perfected my recipe over time. I rarely share it. Mainly because I’ve only written it down once to send to my friend Marcy and I lost that email long ago. I always have to email her for it. Thankfully, she is very organized and can send it back to me quickly. I’m sure she’ll be relieved to know she will never have to send it to me, ever again.

The key to this recipe is using freshly squeezed orange and lime juice. Also, try to find Valencia oranges, they are much sweeter. If you cannot find Valencia, you may need more sugar. I ended up making a double batch, but the recipe below is for a single batch. My apologies if this is confusing…

Here’s what you’ll need:

ingredients

A dry red wine – this one is a Pinot Noir. Don’t spend too much on it – there are lots of great options under $10. You’ll also need sparkling water, Valencia oranges, limes and a pear. Not pictured, granulated sugar.

To start, place the sugar and wine into a pitcher or beverage dispenser and stir to dissolve the sugar. Next, get working on the limes. You’ll need to juice some and slice some – a total of seven to eight limes.

lime juice sliced limes

Pour the juice and drop the lime slices into the pitcher. The next step is the oranges. You’ll need a total of seven to eight oranges, some to juice and some to slice.

  orange juice 8SC_4062

Pour the juice and drop the orange slices into the pitcher. Onto the final step – the pear (there will be two in the picture, since I doubled the recipe, plus, I thought the pears made a nice pair…hee hee). Slice and throw it into the pitcher.

  pears sliced pears

Refrigerate overnight. Add one cup sparkling water right before serving.

sparkling water  

Enjoy!

Sangria
Serves 6
A classic rendition of an all-time favorite.
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
18 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
18 min
Ingredients
  1. 3 sliced limes
  2. 2 sliced Valencia oranges
  3. 1 sliced pear
  4. 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  5. 1/2 cup fresh lime juice (approx. 4 limes)
  6. 1 cup fresh orange juice (approx. 5 oranges, preferably Valencia)
  7. 1 bottle dry red wine
  8. 1 cup carbonated water
Instructions
  1. Put sugar and wine in a pitcher and stir to dissolve. Add limes, oranges, pear, sugar, lime juice and orange juice into pitcher. Refrigerate overnight. Add carbonated water just before serving.
Notes
  1. (double batch pictured)
Good at Everything http://goodateverything.net/
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Farmer’s Market Inspiration

When most people go to their local farmer’s market, they are inspired by the bounty of fruits and vegetables. While I did enjoy perusing the lettuces, early strawberries, rhubarb, etc, the one thing at the market that jumped out at me was this:

pasta close up

I am a total sucker for fresh pasta. When I returned home, I took to the interwebs to find the right recipe. One that the kids would like and something that would do this beautiful pasta justice. That’s when I found Creamy Pappardelle with Leeks and Bacon on epicurious.com. Perfection!

I will warn you – this is NOT health food. It is, however, super easy and makes a great impact. Here’s what you’ll need:

ingredients

Heavy cream, parmesan cheese, fresh thyme, bacon, leeks and a thick pasta. Not pictured – olive oil, butter, salt and pepper – I figure you have these items laying around, right? Ok, let’s get started!

Get a pot of water on the stove so it’s boiling when you’re ready to cook the pasta. Now, get you leeks prepped. Leeks are a luscious vegetable, with a mild onion flavor. You’ll want to cut the ends off and cut them in half length-wise. Leeks can carry a lot of sand and dirt in their layers, so, give them a good rinse to make sure they are clean. Once they are clean, cut the halves in 1/2 inch slices.

3leeks

Onto the bacon! I love to get the Trader Joe’s Apple Smoked Bacon, because it is delicious, but it also comes stacked, not fanned out, so I can easily cut it down the middle, to make uniform squares, which you need to do here. You need to chop 4 slices of bacon, into 1/2 inch squares.

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Start to heat your pan over medium heat, add two tablespoons olive oil and one tablespoon butter. The combination of olive oil and butter gives an added layer of flavor and depth. For your pan, you want it to be large enough to give the leeks and bacon room to cook. You will also toss the pasta in the pan at the very end – so you want some room! I have a giant All-Clad frying pan that was perfect for this task.

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When the pan is warm, add the bacon, let it cook for about 8 minutes, or until it is nicely brown and crisp. Once the bacon is brown, add the leeks and toss with the bacon. Add a little salt to the leeks. Let it cook an additional 8 minutes, or until the leeks have browned. The key to this phase is to not fuss with it too much. Let the butter and oil do their job – stir only occasionally.

cooking

While all this is cooking, get your thyme ready. Thyme is one of my favorite herbs, but it’s a pain to get all those tiny leaves off the stem. One trick –  hold the stem with one hand at the top, while pinching the stem with two fingers of your other hand and run your two fingers, pinched, down the stem. That motion will release the leaves from the tough stem. If it breaks, it means the stem is tender enough and won’t impact the texture of your dish, so don’t sweat it if you get some tiny stems mixed in. You’ll need two teaspoons, roughly chopped.

Add the thyme, 3/4 cup heavy cream and 1/2 cup water to the leek and bacon mixture. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to simmer the sauce for 5 – 8 minutes, until the sauce thickens and coats the back of a spoon.

sauce

If you are using fresh pasta, it will cook within three to five minutes, so, don’t drop it until the sauce is ready to go (turn the heat off, so it doesn’t get any thicker). If you are using dried pasta, drop it in the salted, boiling water when you add the liquids to the bacon and leek mixture.

Once the pasta is cooked, reserve a little of the cooking liquid, just in case you need to loosen the sauce a little. Drain the pasta and toss it in the sauce with one cup grated parmesan cheese. Once the pasta is evenly coated, plate it up, sprinkle some extra parmesan on top and enjoy! According to my daughter – it’s a keeper!

final dish

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Strawberry season is upon us!

Ahh, how I love strawberry season! When I was a little girl, I used to go strawberry picking with my beloved grandmother. I looked forward to it every year. We would have so much fun. Grammy’s not doing much strawberry picking these days, but it’s something I now share with my kids and they are already looking forward to getting out there.

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Once we have finished picking our strawberries, we stop by the farm’s market and buy enough to actually make something… I’ll post soon about our annual jam-making session – the whole family is involved, we usually make close to 75 jars of strawberry jam.

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