Be sure to check out my Happy Eats Healthy site to see upcoming classes, seminars, for more information on Health Coaching, nutrition information and more!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Mexican Tequila White Wine Sangria

It's been a long, cold Spring to the point where scarves and mittens are still being donned the last week of May. No doubt Google searches for warm weather vacations spiked over this unusual last month in the Chicago area!

But sun is in the forecast and Memorial Day BBQ's are back on the calendar. Aroma of burgers and grilled potato salad will be lofting through the streets to tickle our senses into summer mode. Overlooking a cocktail at this point would be devastating; sure you could bring in any number of craft beers to pair with the grilled goods, but beers are available year round. Try mixing up a super simple batch of Tequila White Wine Sangria and elevate your party by a notch.

This Mexican Sangria plays the classic tequila and lime flavor against a crisp white wine with a super fresh and light punch to the senses. Put away the winter wear and welcome warmth with a fun, flavorful, Fat and Happy Sangria.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Luscious Thyme Mint Lemonade Cocktail

Just days ago I posted a recipe and tips for a fun mason jar picnic salad. This Thyme- Mint Lemonade is the perfect addition to the party. It's as simple as adding fresh herbs to lemonade and letting it steep for a day.

With summer picnics come summer heat bringing cause for a crucial, yet often overlooked imperative step in summer cocktails - flavored ice cubes! I've said this before, but it's worth repeating - do not let your drinks get watered down by traditional ice cubes. Freeze lemonade or frozen lime concentrate into cubes and use those; at the very least, flavor the water ice cubes with a squeeze of fresh lemon before freezing. Your drink will thank you for it.

While super tasty as a virgin drink, do sexy it up with a shot of vodka ... then see how fun frisbee really can be. It's another stellar Fat and Happy cocktail for your summer enjoyment.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Glorius Green Picnic with Mason Jar Turkey Chickpea Salad with Minty Pea Vinaigrette

For many people, the word picnic conjures up torrid memories of soggy sandwiches, sun-baked potato salad and watered down lemonade. Yuck. Even the ants are left feeling unsatisfied. If that wasn't bad enough, how often were the remnants so carefully placed on top of an overflowing garbage can it could have been mistaken for an intense game of jenga?

'Pack it in Pack it out' should not be a phase left for crazy, large-calved hikers taking on a fourteener, which, by the way, is so high that there isn't even enough oxygen for trees to grow. Urbanites and Suburbanites alike should be proud to bring garbage home, or better yet, make less garbage in the first place.

The mason jar picnic is not only green but also offers a super tasty picnic meal that isn't soggy and doesn't become nasty, poisoned mayonnaise. Layers of tender turkey, crunchy apple and hearty garbanzo beans are drizzled with a fresh minty pea dressing. Bring along a few seasonal fruits, roasted nuts and a simple dessert like this basil polenta cake with limoncello glaze to round out your picnic. Ooh, and since the mason jars have lids, there is no need to worry when you are tossed the frisbee mid lunch. Just catch, seal and go.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Comb of Honey and Blue Cheese Appetizer

It's imperative to have super simple, quick and easy appetizers in your bag of tricks for those unknown occasions when company stops by unexpectedly or your significant other forgets to tell you about a party invite or for when you just get stuck at work longer than expected.

A raw comb of honey is honey in its purest form, and as you can see, it still contains the hexagonal shapes of the beeswax cells of the honeycomb.

I'm in love with the honeycomb, it's sweet and gooey with just a touch of texture to it. Topping this with crumbled blue cheese gives a flavor explosion of sweet, savory, creamy and tart all at the same time.  Amazing.

And it's a built in conversation starter; not many people have seen or eaten a honeycomb. I've also served this as part of a dessert cheese platter too. You just can't go wrong with this completely simple Fat and Happy appetizer!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Best Ever Pina Colada

 Last year we were sailing in the British Virgin Islands with a group of great friends. There wasn't a goal or purpose to our sailing; everyone arose at their own leisure, shook off the cobwebs with a bloody or a fresh mango mimosa and then we pushed off to see where the wind would take us.

We would lay on the catamaran in the sun, play cards in the shade of the cabana and visit beaches in search of exotic drinks. One day we hung a volleyball net between two palm trees and enjoyed a morning of friendly activity.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Traditional Pasta Making Party

Making homemade ravioli with a house full of friends and family is a tradition from my upbringing. Though miles from home, this custom is alive and well in my house. The goal is to have fun, enjoy the company of friends and make a little pasta. 

Imagine a room full of people working toward a common goal - to eat pasta! Some people need a little coaxing to get their hands dirty and some have flour in their hands before wine.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Brown Rice Pizza with Creamy Hearts of Palm Topping

Quite often my goal in the kitchen is to cook using only ingredients currently available in the house; not only to save money but it forces creativity in the kitchen.

This day was a real challenge since fresh ingredients were scarce. And oddly, Dave was craving pizza, again. To top it off, a few members of my family have recently found out they have a gluten allergy so I want to do my part to help create recipes they can use.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Caramel Apple Trifle - Recipe Swap

It's time for another Burwell General Store recipe swap (the goal is to recreate a recipe from an old hymnal recipe book and make it your own by updating or changing at least 3 ingredients); this time it's a classic taffy apple recipe. 

Caramel and apples conjure up so many ideas it's hard to narrow this down to one recipe. Certainly ice cream came to mind but I've already made a lovely Apple Ice Cream Pie with Granola Crust and Caramel Drizzle.  Since the taffy apples were on a stick, I ran down a list of apple-stick thoughts, but nothing really spoke to me.

The trifle idea came to me as I stared at three empty glass vases that were just begging to be filled. Layers of lightly sauteed apples, creamy mascarpone and ricotta pastry cream, tart strawberries all topped off with a spiced whipped cream and fresh mint leaf. A crunchy, flaky pie crust layer found it's way into two of the trifles, while the third remained crust free and gluten free.

Served at my annual homemade pasta party, this was another tremendous Fat and Happy hit with the crowd! If you are really missing the sticks from the original recipe, you could try eating this with chopsticks.

Tips and Techniques:  This is a super simple and forgiving recipe, use crumbled cake instead of the pie crust, or cream cheese instead of the mascarpone.

Caramel Apple Trifle

Putting it all together:

Decide on your container, I used a variety of glass 'vases' and canning jars; try using a large glass punch container or small individual glass dessert dishes.

Make the pastry cream and caramel, saute the apples, make the pie crust (or substitute cake or phyllo dough). Let everything cool off to room temperature, then layer away. Start with a layer of the sauteed apples, drizzle with the caramel, scoop in the apple pastry cream and a spoon of the applesauce, add a layer of broken pie crust and then start over with the sauteed apples.

I added the sliced strawberries on the top layer, then topped it off with the spiced whipped cream and fresh mint leaves. Serve immediately or store in the fridge for a few hours until ready to serve.

Layer Ingredients:

6 ripe strawberries, sliced
Mint leaves, for decoration on top of the trifle
1/4 cup applesauce
Roughly 2 cups of baked pie crust
Ricotta mascarpone pasty cream (recipe below)
Classic caramel sauce (recipe below)
 Sauteed apples (recipe below)
Cinnamon spiced whipped cream (recipe below)

Ricotta Mascarpone Pastry Cream:

1/2 cup apple sauce
1/2 cup ricotta
8 oz mascarpone
1 Tbls lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
2 Tbls sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
pinch of allspice
pinch of salt

Lightly mix all of the ingredients together, adjust seasonings if needed.

Classic Caramel Sauce

1/4 cup butter
1/4 heaping cup brown sugar
1/4 cup cream

Melt the butter and the sugar together, let that come to soft boil. Carefully whisk in the cream; simmer for 10 minutes.

Brown Sugar Sauteed Apples

3 apples, 1 red delicious, green grannysmith, jonagold (or pick your three favorites, using various apples will give you the best texture to the finished product)
2 Tbls butter
2 Tbls brown sugar, heaping
squeeze of lemon
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Peel and dice the apples, place in a large saute pan with all the other ingredients. Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, tossing often. I didn't want these mushy like a pie but rather I wanted them to have some bite to them; cook to your preferred doneness.

Cinnamon Spiced Whipped Cream

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2 Tbls sugar
pinch of cinnamon
splash of vanilla extract

Using a hand mixer or wand, begin to whip the cream and sugar until it begins to hold a peak.
Add in the pinch of cinnamon and splash of vanilla extract, continue to whip until desired stiffness is reached.

 View all my fellow Recipe Swappers at the Recipe Swap page here.


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