Thursday, August 28, 2014

Orange-Pineapple "Painkillers"

This tropical cocktail is one of our favorites for sipping on the front porch after the kids are in bed.

Recipes for this drink vary. I mix according to taste, but mine goes something likes this: 
  • 4 parts pineapple juice
  • 2 parts orange juice
  • 1 part cream of coconut 
  • 2 parts rum (I usually use Bacardi Gold)
  • generous sprinkle of nutmeg
This coconut "cream" is the easiest to use.

I like to make a big batch and keep the extra in a jar in the fridge. Just shake it up before serving because the coconut settles. You can also mix up the base and keep that in the freezer for the when the mood hits. Sometimes I mix the rum in the glasses so I can adjust the strength of "his and hers".

However you make them, these summery island drinks, accompanied by a bowl of pretzel nuggets, are the perfect catalyst for lazy conversation on the patio!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Summer Tomato Sandwich

Don't you just love a red tomato fresh from the garden? This is what I did with one of my first tomatoes this season. Matched with a good cheddar and, in this case, slices of rich avocado, it was pure deliciousness.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Birthday Cakes!

We had two birthdays this month.

RJ requested chocolate cake with white icing, which turned out thus:

And her sister chose cheesecake:

Five packages of cream cheese in this baby!

I baked it slowly at a low temperature, 
and let it cool in the oven for TWO hours. 
That is the no-crack secret!

Cherries on top...

And zebra candles, why not?

Spinach-Rice Salad

This summery dish is bright and fresh and pairs well with wine and/or fresh fruit. Tonight we followed it with sweet-tart, pink, and fluffy Bavarian Raspberry Cream

Spinach-Rice Salad

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. fresh oregano, finely minced
  • 1/2 to 1 cup chopped ham
  • 6-8 cups torn spinach (about 6 oz.)
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese
  • cracked black pepper

Cook in a small saucepan:

  • 1 cup rice*
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • (OR 2 cups of water + 1 tsp. chicken bouillon)

While the rice simmers, heat olive oil in a large skillet and saute onion till tender. Add garlic, oregano, ham, and lemon juice and heat through.

When the rice is done, stir it into the onion mixture and stir till the seasonings are evenly distributed.

Toss the spinach with the hot rice, a handful at a time. I find that it helps to "fold" the spinach in, as if it were egg whites. It doesn't look like the pan will hold it all, but the spinach will wilt and make room for more. When all the spinach is mixed in, sprinkle liberally with cracked black pepper and top it off with the crumbled feta cheese.

Yield: about 6 adult main-dish servings.

*As wonderful as brown rice is, I prefer a light white or jasmine rice for this dish because it allows all the flavors to shine through. If you try brown rice, you may want to bump up the seasonings.

The original recipe called for mushrooms, but I've never used them here.
Friends have told me they satisfactorily substituted cooked chicken for the ham.
How would you adapt this recipe? Leave a comment and let me know!