Slushsicles

Jack Frost and Cranberry Daiquiri Slushsicles are a fun adult addition to adult theme parties.  They would also be delicious served on a hot summer day.  Change up the juice in either recipe to change up the flavor.  These do not freeze as solid as kid’s popsicles and that is because of the freezing point of alcohol.  The more juice you add, the more solid they become, it reduces the amount of alcohol in the slushsicle.

You can freeze just about any mixed drink you like, provided it has a high sugar content.  For whatever reason, sugar is required to make slushies freeze.  I have tried making copycat Mister Misty with less sugar and all I can say is it turned into a blender full of thin ice sheets.  Layers and layers of sheets.

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Curried Tomato Soup

Curried Tomato Soup is based on two of my favorite dishes: tomato bisque and Indian butter chicken. Growing up I always ate the Campbell’s Tomato Soup. Up until recently, this was our go-to tomato soup. That was until I learned to make a solid tomato soup on my own.

If you’ve never been to an Indian restaurant, shame on you. My local Indian restaurant isn’t well visited by the locals, which is unfortunate because I believe they have some of the best food in town. My absolute favorite dish at this restaurant is their butter chicken. Butter chicken is a spiced (but not a hot spice, think cinnamon, cardamon, etc.) tomoato and coconut milk sauce that is used to simmer dark meat chicken. It’s absolutely fantastic with an order of garlic naan.

Anyways, one day while eating butter chicken with my wife during lunch, I had the thought of smashing together our tomato soup recipe with a butter chicken recipe. Curried tomato soup is our final result after tinkering with this recipe. We have also discovered that this recipe goes extremely well with our Indian Spiced Meatballs. Just toss the meatballs directly into your soup and you’ll be amazed.

For this recipe, you’ll probably need to head to your local Asian/Indian market. The karai methi will most likely be one of the more difficult items to fine. Since the flavor is so unique, I don’t know where to begin in terms of substitutions. For the Indian chili power, cayenne will work just fine. For some reason, the chili powder we picked up at our asian market is an order of magnitude hotter than your standard chili powder (which I’m ok with), but you may need to add more cayenne.

Before your soup is finished cooking, I recommend you taste your soup and season to your liking. Salt is important in this dish to make it pop. Sometimes I also like to go with more garam marsala and chili powder. If you add more spices to your soup at the end, be sure to let it simmer another 10-15 minutes to ensure the flavors are well incorporated.

Curried Tomato Soup

Prep time: 

Cook time: 

Total time: 

Serves: 8

A indian spiced tomato soup.
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 tbsp. minced garlic or garlic paste
  • 2 cans San Marzano (you can use fresh roman tomatoes, about 40-50 oz)
  • ½ cup cashews (this is not a typo)
  • ½ tbsp. garam marsala
  • 1 tbsp. Karai Methi
  • ¼ tsp. indian chili powder (or more to taste)
  • 1 tbsp. paprika
  • 2 can's coconut milk
  • Salt
Instructions
  1. Saute the onion over medium-low in the olive oil until translucent
  2. Add the garlic and cook another minute
  3. Add the tomatoes, cashews, garam marsala, karai methi, chili powder, paprika
  4. Cook the mixture on low for 30-40 minutes
  5. Puree the soup in a blender until smooth
  6. Use a fine-mesh strainer to remove any large pieces
  7. Place the soup back over medium-low heat
  8. Add the coconut milk

 

Spicy Pretzels with a Kick

This recipe is a close relative of spiced crackers.  The only real difference here is the choice of spice add in used.  I prefer to keep the cayenne pepper out of my spiced crackers, but it pairs well with pretzels, at least in my mind.

Spicy Pretzels with a Kick pairs well with beer because of the kick.  I like to serve these when we are having a few folks over to watch football games.

These pretzels also serve well as hostess gifts just like Peppermint Crunch and Spiced Crackers do.

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Buckeyes

Buckeyes are another recipe I had never heard of until I was asked if I knew how to make them.

Now I make them so much I make them from memory because they are so simple to make.

You can really make as few or as many as you want if you can keep the proportions locked into your head or written down somewhere.

You just need 1 part butter to 3 parts peanut butter.  Then add 1 1/2 parts the total of butter and peanut of powdered sugar.

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10 Perfect Holiday Gifts for Your Favorite Home Chefs and Foodies

Over the years my wife and I have bought some pretty amazing things that we would think the average foodie would love to receive as gift. With holiday season rapidly approaching, we figured now would be an appropriate to share our favorite items any foodie would appreciate. We didn’t stick to any pricing guidelines, but we think these are pretty reasonable gifts. So here we go.


1. Finishing Salt

10-foodie-gifts-finishing-saltI don’t think a lot of people think about salt when they think of ingredients, but any chef knows that salt can either make or break a recipe. Too little salt in a recipe is just flat and bland. Another way to add flavor or texture to a dish is to sprinkle some finishing salt on top of your finished dish.

My wife bought my first finishing salt last year for Christmas. Finishing salts are salts with a large grain size or salt that have been flavored with special ingredients like smoke, wine, or citrus. Finishing salts can also come from special regions where their source of salts is known for its distinct flavor characteristics, Hawaii for example.

Finishing salts are great on steaks or even some chocolate treats. My favorite use of them is probably in risottos. Risottos really need a healthy dose of salt for it to really sing true. Finishing salts come in a large range of flavors and crystal sizes.

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Peppermint Crunch

Everyone needs an easy go to Holiday treat recipe.  One that requires minimal ingredients and minimal time to make.  Peppermint Crunch fits that bill.

It only has 3 ingredients.  4 ingredients if you decide to add peppermint flavoring to either chocolate layers.

Just like spiced crackers, this recipe makes great hostess gifts.  It cost a bit more than crackers, but who doesn’t love chocolate and peppermint during the holidays.  This is probably why we gain up to 5% of our weight over the holidays.  I don’t deny that nuts, caramel, and cinnamon flavored treats are part of the problem.

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Soft Homemade Flat Bread

Flat Bread is a recipe that has recently been added to my recipe rotation.  I was actually looking for a pita bread replacement.  Have you seen the cost of pita bread in the store?  This recipe is also a decent replacement for store bought Naan bread, that stuff carries a crazier price than pita.

I make a lot of hummus which means I need a healthy supply of carrots, celery, and pita bread on hand.

Carrots and celery are two of the many staples I keep on hand, but pita bread, not so much.  It seems to me that it dries out too fast to keep it on hand.

I ran across a recipe at Mel’s Kitchen for Greek Pocketless Pitas.  I thought to myself “Self, we have got to try this.”  I did, and I have never looked back.  We use it so much that I only make it in double batches.  It is time consuming and since I am kind of lazy, I go ahead and make a mess once instead of twice.  It also cuts my waiting down by half, since I only have to let dough rise half as many times.

I suspect this flat bread will also dry out fast, but I only keep out what I intend to use in a day or two.

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Candy Acorns

Candy Acorns are a cute edible addition to the kids’ table at holiday meals.  This is an idea I have seen all over the internet.

They also make nice finishing touches to pumpkin pies and many other fall desserts.

The flavor can be changed by changing the flavor of chips used for the end of the acorn, as well as changing the flavor of the candy kisses use for the big portion of this decoration.

I have seen these made with milk chocolate kisses and pumpkin spice kisses.  I used caramel filled kisses for mine and butterscotch chips for the ends as well as the “glue” to hold it all together.

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Homemade Peanut Brittle

Peanut Brittle is not something I make very often.  I don’t know why I don’t make if often, it’s actually pretty simple.  There is more margin for error in this recipe than in some of my other candy recipes.

This recipe is a favorite no matter where I serve it.  It is also one of those food I try not to keep laying around the house as we eat far too much of it when it’s here.

There are recipes around the internet that do not require a candy thermometer, but this is not one of those.  I cook mine until it reaches the hard crack stage.  I prefer this method as it avoids the dreaded “too chewy” brittle.

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Spiced Crackers

Spiced crackers have many versions and many names across the cooking blogosphere and home kitchens.  These are probably called “those crackers you make for Christmas gifts” more than any other name in my house.  But, these are good anytime and I didn’t want to ban them other people’s houses just during the holiday season.

These crackers are very easy to make and definitely more frugal than anything loaded with chocolate or nuts.  Packed into small baggies, the crackers make a great filler for a cookie tray that has a small space left and you are out of cookie cooking or candy making steam.

Larger containers of spiced crackers can work as a stand-alone hostess gift.  I have used these crackers for both purposes.

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