entrées

brie pasta

pasta stirring.jpg

How exciting when inspiration strikes out of the blue! It can come all at once and launch you into thoughts running a mile a minute. The only way to quench it is to give in. That's exactly what I did here. 

After a brief, unexpected visit from my bud Maya of Mojalvo (check out her killer videos!), I was left salivating at the thought of this dish she mentioned in passing. Maya dropped a hint about a project she was working on that involved Connecticut-grown Italian tomatoes. Word on the street was that the trick to delicious pasta was simple: fresh tomatoes and creamy brie. 

Could that be true? Could it be that easy? Just tomatoes and brie?

I couldn't stop thinking about it. Mmm, let's see. If fresh tomatoes from my garden marinate the soft cheese, and I toss in some fat cloves of garlic and fresh basil, would that feel substantial and flavorful enough?

There was only one way to find out. 

The result was incredible.

I can't even begin to describe the deliciously light creaminess that paired perfectly with the sweet tomatoes and the bite of bold garlic. 

Go make it. Like, right now.

 

serves 4

1/2 lb angel hair pasta, cooked to liking

3 c double creamed brie, cubed

1 qt tomatoes, diced

5-6 whole garlic cloves, roughly chopped

handful fresh basil, chopped

s+p

 

Dice the tomatoes and place in a large bowl along with the cubed brie.

Add cubed brie, garlic, and basil. Mix and let sit (the longer the better, but at least 20 minutes).

While the tomatoes sit, cook your pasta. Pour out the water, but reserve 1/2c pasta water within the pot. 

Pour tomato mixture directly into pot and stir until the cheese begins to melt. Add the desired amount of salt + pepper. You may want to place over heat for just a minute to really soften the cheese. 

Remove a hearty helping from the pot and plate in a bowl. Sprinkle with extra fresh basil and serve with a piece of crusty bread. 

snacks + h'ordeuvres, breakfast + baked goods

alleluia jalapeño pretzel

Here at Whisk + Brush, things are already beginning to roll for the Fall. Schedules are filling up, projects are getting started, and meetings are (happily) jamming up our days. While some might call it hectic, we call it heaven. After all, Betsy and I are thankful beyond measure for the growth of this little business. A full docket is merely a positive sign that our efforts are moving in the right direction. 

However, as silly as it may sound, sometimes we get so harried that we forget to cook for OURSELVES. Crazy right?! We really live up to that ol’ saying, “The cobbler’s children have no shoes.”  Before we jumped on a FaceTime meeting with our fave photo-vid hybrid gal Taylor Lenci, we whipped up some sustenance with these little (actually, very fat) puppies.  

Alleluia, Jalapeño Pretzels! 

Oh, and we paired it with a nice, buttery Chardonnay because we like to keep it classy when we stuff our faces during an appointment. 

Bring ‘em to your next board meeting. We guarantee you’ll nail the presentation!

 

makes 4 large (or 8 small) pretzels

1 c whole milk, warm

1 Tbl dry active yeast

2 Tbl salted butter, melted

3 Tbl brown sugar

pinch of salt

2 1/4 c flour

2 cups shredded cheese

2 Tbl jalapeño, chopped

3 c hot water

1 c baking soda

 

Sprinkle yeast over the warm milk in a large bowl. Let it sit on the surface for 5 minutes before thoroughly mixing in. Let sit another 10 minutes until little bubbles begin to form on the surface. 

In a small bowl mix together melted butter and brown sugar. Add to milk and whisk until combined. Add salt, mix. 

Add flour. With a wooden spoon, mix together until just ingredients are just barely blended. 

Pour out onto a floured surface and kneed until the dough forms a thoroughly mix, smooth ball. Place back in the large bowl and cover for 30-40 minute or until it has doubled in size. 

Preheat oven to 450º.

While the dough rises, combine your choice of shredded cheese and chopped jalapeño pepper. We used sharp cheddar cheese and an Italian blend cheese.

On a floured surface, turn out the dough and loosely shape into a log. With a rolling pin, rollout the dough until it’s fairly narrow and thin. Place a line of the cheese mixture all the way along one side of the rolled out dough. 

Carefully begin to roll up the dough into a stuffed log. If it’s not sticking add a few droplets of water where needed in order for the dough to hold its shape. 

Once rolled up, massage the dough and stretch it a bit longer without tearing. Cut into 4 equal parts and pinch the ends closed. 

In a medium bowl, mix together hot water and baking soda. Prepare a baking sheet lined with a Silpat or parchment paper. Dip each pretzel log in the water and then twist while on the baking sheet. Repeat for all portions. 

Sprinkle with coarse sea salt and place in the oven for 8-10 minutes or until pretzels are dark brown and full baked. 

NOTE: If you so desire, brush the pretzels with a mixture of melted butter and sweet paprika for a nice melty finish to the dough. On the rare occasion you have any leftovers, store in a sealable plastic bag and reheat in the oven at 350º for 10 minutes.

Eat immediately! And don't forget the wiiiiiiine. 

soups salad + sides

loaded chicken salad

Chicken salad makes me think of two things. 

One, a scene from my favorite movie “Anne of Green Gables”. It’s when Anne and her best friend Diana dream of living among the rich at a summer hotel, “eating ice cream and chicken salad”. As a little girl I always thought of that possibility: vacationing on the beach and eating only those two items all summer long. It sounded like a kind of heaven I could get use to.

The second thing chicken salad makes me think about is the summer between my freshman and sophomore year of college. I picked up a seasonal job at The Pickle Tree Farm, a small farmstead, restaurant, and gift shop. They made the most unbelievable chicken salad. It had all kinds of textures and subtle flavors. I ordered it every lunch break… or at least, every lunch break I could afford to pay for it. For me, college summer jobs seemed to be synonymous with working for peanuts. 

I’ve never quite nailed their chicken salad, but I sure don’t mind the continued attempts. Here’s the closest I’ve come to perfecting it. The key is to load it up with lots of fresh, crunchy vegetables and a handful of sweet, crisp red grapes. Don’t forget the walnuts! As always, experiment with your own favorite additions. Practice makes perfect!

 

serves 8

1 whole roasted chicken (I like to pick up an All Natural Roasted Chicken from the grocer. Makes this so easy!)

1 small red onion, finely chopped

4 celery stalks, roughly chopped

1 small cucumber, cubed

6 radishes, chopped

2 c red seedless grapes, halved

1 c walnuts, roughly chopped

1 c basil + parsley, minced

1 c mayonnaise (more, depending on desired texture)

2 Tbl fresh lemon juice

s+p

 

Shred the meat from the entire chicken. In a big bowl, add all ingredients and mix thoroughly. Serve on toasted french bread with hearty boston lettuce. Store leftover chicken salad in an air tight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. 


entrées

tata tacos

Ahhhhhhh tacos! It’s nearly impossible to eat just one, so we’re making them a bit lighter so you can eat as many as you want without feeling overly stuffed. Swap out the tortilla shells with boston lettuce leaves and – voilá – stuff yo face, ya cutie patootie! 

 

makes 4-6 

1 small head boston lettuce

1lb chorizo

Caribbean Coleslaw

1 ear corn, shaved and roasted

1 avocado

1/4 c sour cream

1 Tbl lime juice

s+p

cilantro, optional

 

Preheat the oven to 425º. Shave an ear of corn and spread the kernels evenly on a baking sheet. Roast for 15 minutes. Thinly slice the chorizo and cook up in a hot cast iron with a a bit of oil. Sauté until crisp. 

While the corn + chorizo is slightly cooling, mix the ingredient for the avocado cream. Mash together avocado, sour cream, lime juice, and s + p. Mix until smooth.

Pull 4-6 leaves from the head of lettuce. Wash and pat dry.

Begin assembling the tacos. First add a layer of coleslaw. Then top with chorizo. 

Sprinkle with corn and finish with avocado cream + a sprinkling of fresh cilantro.

entrées, breakfast + baked goods

zuccorni pie

You know the marking of a killer dish? One that can be paired with coffee for breakfast, sweet tea for lunch, and a glass of wine at dinner. Sound impossible? It’s not, my friend. 

Enter, ZucCorni Pie. 

Part savory, part sweet, part cheesy… all heaven! This calls for semi-hearty vegetables (corn, zucchini, mushrooms, and onion) which all sauté in a warm bath of butter and cook to smooth, creamy perfection. Add in a couple eggs for binding and cheese for good measure and BLAMMO! Less than 30 minutes later you’ll be devouring it slice after slice. 

It’s another great dish that’s portable and ready for serving up at the Farm to Street community dinner next Saturday in Hartford. Serve it warm or chilled. 

Easy peasy, ZucCorni Cheesy!

 

serves 4 (or 1, if you’re me.)

2 ears sweet corn

2 zucchinis, sliced thin

1 c baby portabella, sliced

1 yellow onion, diced

4 Tbl butter

2 eggs

fresh basil, chopped

fresh parsley, chopped

s+p

12 oz shredded cheese (of your choice, we used 3 cheese Italian)

 

Preheat oven to 375º. 

Prep your delicious veggies!

Heat butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. One at a time until slightly sautéed, add in onions, zucchini, mushrooms, and corn… in that order. Continue sautéing until the veggies are soft, about 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat.

Add in your chopped basil, oregano, and parsley. Don’t forget a few cranks of salt + pepper. Stir once to combine. 

Crack and drop in eggs. Mix well. Then add cheese and combine thoroughly. 

Generously butter a pie pan before pouring in the mixture. Adjust a few of the zucchini slices so they lay flat. Oh it looks so purdy! Extra cheese? Why not?! Add some more to the top.

Bake for 20-25 until baked through and the top is slightly golden.

 Sprinkle with a bit of fresh herbs. Let it sit for 10 minutes before slicing. Serve immediately or store in the fridge and eat it chilled. Scrumptious either way!

entrées, snacks + h'ordeuvres

pea + plum falafels

Right now, markets + local grocers are teeming with greens: lettuce, peas, herbs. And you’ll find a few different stone pit fruits that are ripe for the picking too, like plums. Let’s throw it all together!

Yummy Pea + Plum Falafels have all the earthy spices of Morocco with the fresh, sweetness of peas and plums. What a combo!

While the recipe looks long and complicated, it’s really not. Using a food processor is the ticket to a quick falafel mixture. Eat them now or freeze them for later. It’s a great dish to have on hand and serve midweek. And with this many falafels, you can feed the neighbors too!

If you're a local to the Connecticut area, consider whipping this up and bringing it to share at the upcoming Farm to Street event in Hartford. You'll wow other attendees at your communal dinner table with this little number. Claim the dish came to you in a vision... your secrets safe with us! 

 

serves 8, makes about 20 falafels

-falafels-

2 cans dried chickpeas

1/2 c fresh or frozen

2 c arugula + spinach

1/4 c fresh coriander

1/4 c parsley

3 garlic cloves

1 tsp coriander seeds

1 tsp coriander powder

1 tsp cumin powder 

1 small onion, chopped

1/2 c flour

2 tbs tahini

1 tbs lemon juice

salt to taste

 

 

3 c vegetable oil for frying

12-15 soft tortilla shells

 

-sauce-

1/4 c plain yogurt

1/4 c cucumber, minced

2 tbs tahini

2 tbs lemon juice

salt to taste

 

-garnish, optional-

hummus

lettuce, chopped

plum, sliced thin

radishes, sliced thin

cucumber, sliced thin

 

Drain and rinse chickpeas. Place in a paper towel-lined platter. Press with paper towels until completely dry. Let sit to further air out. 

In a small bowl, combine together the sauce ingredients until completely mixed. Be aware that tahini is somewhat sticky and will clump. Be sure to stir thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate. 

In a food processor begin adding the ingredients starting with chickpeas, peas, and leafy greens. Then add in your herbs, spices, garlic, and onion. Sprinkle with flour, a dollop of tahini, and lemon juice.  

Process until smooth, but dry.

NOTE: You want the falafel mixture to resemble a slightly moist couscous texture. If it’s too wet, add in more flour. If it’s too dry, add in a Tbl of water at a time. 

With a scoop, begin portioning out the falafel mixture into balls and place them on a wax paper-lined baking sheet. Freeze for 30 minutes. 

Heat oil in a medium sized heavy bottom pot. Fry the falafels in oil (without overcrowding) until golden brown. This may require a bit of rotating so they fry evenly. Place finished falafels on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb excess oil.

To assemble, start by generously smearing a soft tortilla with hummus. Next, top with shredded lettuce and the thin slices of cucumber, radishes, and plum. Squeeze a bit of lemon over, if desired. Top with 2-3 falafels each. Add sauce on top. 

Serve immediately. Pre-fried falafel mixture can be stored in an air tight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Or freeze extra mixture in ball form for up to 2 weeks.

soups salad + sides

caribbean coleslaw

Spicy, fresh, and crunchy: It’s the perfect trio on a warm summer evening. This slaw has all the yummy tang of Caribbean fare with a scrumptious balance between heat and sweet, ripe mango. Experiment with tossing in your own favorite fruits and berries. 

Not only is this a great salad, side, or addition to your tacos, but it’s an easy dish to quickly throw together in time to contribute to your neighbors bbq or your community potluck. 

Speaking of which… have you heard about Hartford’s Farm to Street event?! It’s a pop-up community dinner celebrating the city, streets, and people of Hartford, CT. Local yokels, BE THERE! And now you have just the dish to bring. 

 

serves 6

1/2 purple cabbage

1/2 savoy cabbage

1 small red onion

1 mango

3 tsp Dijon mustard

2 Tbl apple cider vinegar

1/4 c brown sugar

2 Tbl olive oil

s+p

1 tsp Sriracha

1 Tbl hot peppers

 

Shred the cabbages into thin slivers and toss in a large bowl.

Julienne the onion and mango and mix in with the cabbage. 

In a mason jar, add mustard, vinegar, brown sugar, and oil. Securely close with a lid and shake until well mixed. Add in s+p, Sriracha, and minced hot peppers. Again, close and shake. 

Pour dressing over the cabbage and toss with your hands until everything is well coated. 

Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 30 minutes. Serve chilled as a side, a topping for tacos, or mixed in with your choice of salad. 

drinks

this-for-that cocktail

Recently I went flipping through a cocktail book of mine that was collecting a ton of dust. It had been a while since I skimmed its pages of delicious recipes. One in particular caught my eye, a Mezcal Mule. 

Only one problem – actually, more like 3 or 4 problems– I didn’t quite have the right line up of ingredients. However, necessity is the mother of invention...and this drink was necessary! So, a few adjustments here and there with this-for-that and –BOOM!– a new, lovely drink.

Agave Syrup was swapped out for Real Maple Syrup. 

Ginger Beer was swapped out for Ginger Shandy

Passion Fruit Puree was, well, just left out.

And Mezcal was replaced with vodka. 

Whatdayaknow! It turned out delicious enough to share here. And delicious enough to have a second!

 

makes 2

1 1/2 oz fresh lime juice

6 sliced cucumbers, extra for garnishing

1 oz real maple syrup

2 oz ginger shandy

3 oz vodka

sprinkle of chili powder, optional

 

In a shaker or mason jar, combine lime juice and cucumber slices. Muddle. Muddle really really well. Then add syrup. 

Add in ginger shandy and vodka. 

Plop 3-4 ice cubes into the jar, close tightly with a lid, and shake-shake-shake!

Strain into your serving glasses over ice and garnish with cucumber. Sprinkle with chili powder with a slight kick without too much heat. Guzzle down immediately!

drinks

spicy verde sangria

There are a million ways to create sangria. As long as you have a tasty combination of fruit, citrus, and perhaps a kick of a little extra liquor, your red or white wine will siiiiiiiiing something beautiful on your taste buds. But what about a punch of spiciness?! Does it really have a place in sangria?

HECK YES!

The key is to clean your jalapeño well (no seeds left behind) and only allow the pepper to steep in the sangria for about 5 minutes. Taste test the strength of the spice. Submerge again if you wish for more heat or discard. This pairs nicely with tacos, nachos... basically anything cheesy, crunchy, and salty!

 

serves 4 (or 1, depending on your week)

1 bottle Yellow Tail White Sangria

1 green apple

1 anjou pear

1 cucumber

1 jalapeño pepper

1 lime

handful fresh mint

1 oz cointreau

1 oz brandy

 

Pour Yellow Tail White Sangria into a pitcher. Add chopped apple and pear, sliced cucumber, halved and cleaned pepper, and sliced lime. Add fresh mint. Pour in cointreau and brandy. Add ice. Stir. Serve over ice. Remove jalapeño pepper after 5 minutes or upon desired spiciness. 

soups salad + sides

mexican corn

My mid-western roots are giddy with delight today: National Corn-on-the-Cob Day. Oh, glorious corn on the cob! Grilled up nice and smothered with butter… nectar of the gods! Is there anything as quintessential summer than a steaming hot ear of corn, buttery and salty, enjoyed in the warm breeze of an evening dinner outdoors? 

Nay. Never. 

While corn really needs no more than a douse of butter, we’re going a little south of the border to spruce things up today. Sadly, I’ve never experience Mexican Corn in its native venue. But the ridiculously delicious Mexican Corn I ate during a visit to LA was pretty darn incredible. It’s salty, spicy, and creamy. And now, it will be in your kitchen and on your dinner table. 

Bon appétit!

 

serves 5

5 ears of corn, shucked and tied back

1/4 mayonnaise

1/4 sour cream

1Tbl lime zest

1 lime, juiced

1 1/2 tsp garlic salt

1 c shredded cheese, of your choice

1/4 cilantro, chopped

2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp chili pepper

butter, for coating

 

Prep the grill and get the coals burning hot (about 400º). 

Shuck the corn until the hulks are removed but not pulled off entirely. Tie the husks with butcher twine. Keeping the hulk is not only cute, but it’s provides extra surface for handling while grilling the corn.

In a small bowl mixed together mayo, sour cream, lime zest, lime juice, and garlic salt until creamy. In a second bowl, mixed together cheese, cilantro, paprika, and chili pepper. 

Melt a couple pads of butter and give the corn a brushing all over. Place on the grill for 15 minutes, turning the ears every few minutes. 

Once the kernels begin to roast, lightly brush the ears with the mayo mixture. Grill for another 5 minutes turning every minute or so until the mixture has melted into the corn. Brush one more time and rotate. 

Move corn to the side of the grill out of direct heat. Sprinkle with the cheese mixture and close the lid for 3 minutes or until the cheese has melted. 

Devour immediately! Or, shave the kernels off the ears and store in an air-tight container in the fridge… delicious on salad and tacos. 

soups salad + sides

mango caprese salad

Sometimes the tastiest of dishes is also the easiest. Those are the recipes you want to keep in your back pocket – ones that are packed with flavor AND wow the eye! Here we have a super simple spin to the classic Caprese Salad. Just add a little mango!

Fresh basil gives a pop up earthy herbiness to the dish, while the balsamic glaze awakens your taste buds with a light tanginess. You can find this glaze in most grocery stores in the condiment aisle. 

 

serves 4

2 vine ripe tomatoes, thickly sliced

1 mango, sliced

1 large mozzarella ball, sliced

balsamic glaze, for drizzling

fresh basil, chopped

salt + pepper

thai basil, for garnish

 

Arrange your sliced tomatoes, mango, and mozzarella one after another. Give a few cranks of s+p before drizzling with the balsamic glaze. Garnish with fresh basil and thai basil.

Bon appétit!


snacks + h'ordeuvres

summertime deviled eggs

The herb garden in my backyard is one of my most favorite things about summer. With rains over the past couple of days, it has absolutely exploded into a crazy green beast that is taking over the side of my yard. I couldn’t be happier. 

While this recipe didn’t even make a dent in the plethora of herbs, they sure do highlight the bold, bright aroma that comes from growing your own.  The depth of flavors is drool-worthy. And while I, sadly, had to purchase the cucumber until mine burst forth with a vengeance in the vegetable garden, the crunch is a nice pairing to the smooth yolk filling. 

 

serves 4

4 eggs

1 qt water

1 shallot, chopped

1 Tbl fresh coriander or cilantro, minced

1 Tbl fresh dill, minced

1/3 c  real mayonnaise

salt + pepper, to taste

1 Tbl spicy mustard

1/2 c cucumber, cubed

paprika for dusting

fresh dill for garnish

 

Bring water to boil and gently lay in the eggs. Turn to low heat and let simmer for 12 minutes. 

While the eggs boil, prepare the shallot and herbs.

Once the eggs finish boiling, scoop out and place in a colander. Running cold water over the eggs for 2 minutes. Let sit for one minute and then, again, run under cold water for another minute. (Eggs peel best when they have cooled.)

To peel the eggs, lightly tap the egg all around the middle until the shell is partially cracked. Then puncture the shell and begin to unwrap the hard-boiled egg. Carefully rinse away any remaining bits of shell from the peeled eggs.

Cut eggs in half. With a small spoon, scoop out the yolks and place in a medium size bowl. 

In the bowl, add in the mayonnaise to the yolks. Mash until creamy. Add in shallots and fresh herbs. Mix.

Next, add in salt, pepper, and paprika. Lastly, add the spicy mustard and thoroughly combine. Chop the cucumber.

To each egg half, fill will a heaping spoonful of the yolk filling.

Top with cucumber.

Sprinkle with paprika and garnish with a sprig of fresh dill. Eat immediately... which is what I did because I couldn't help myself! However, I really prefer (when I have the patience) to place in an air tight container and let chill for 30 minutes before serving.

entrées

spicy chicken + doughnut

NATIONAL DOUGHNUT DAY!!! Yea. Seriously. It’s THE national day for celebrating our most favorite food: the doughnut. <— Yea, we spell it the old fashion way. 

So, it’s time to give the doughnut some love that’s always and only been given to the waffle: CHICKEN. Crispy, deep fried, juicy chicken. Now, add in a little spicy kick, the extra crunch of jalapeño + radish, and give it a bed of a sweet, powdery doughnut. 

Yes, we made the doughnuts below, but – HEY! – it’s National Doughnut Day. That means you can actually get FREE doughnuts at several different shops today. No joke. 

Move over waffles! It’s doughnut day, baby!

 

serves 6

Inspiration for Crispy Chicken from this blog

 

8-12 chicken tenderloins

6 cups vegetable oil

1 jalapeño pepper, sliced

2 radishes, sliced

6 plain doughnuts

1/2 powdered sugar

 

–Batter–

1 egg

½ c milk

½ c chicken broth

1¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

¼ tsp garlic powder

¾ c flour

 

–Breading–

1 c flour

1 tsp salt

1 Tbl paprika

½ tsp pepper

½ tsp garlic powder

 

–Spicy Syrup–

⅔ cup real maple syrup

¼ cup water

¼ cup ketchup

1 Tbl apple cider vinegar

2 tsp chili powder

½ tsp salt

½ tsp sriracha 

 

In a small saucepan add syrup, water, ketchup, vinegar, chili powder, salt, and sriracha. Whisk. Bring to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat.

In a medium bowl, make the batter. Whisk together egg, milk, chicken broth,salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Then whisk in flour. Whisk, whisk, whisk!

In a pie plate, combine breading ingredients and mix.

Create a setup that allows for an assembly line-like process. Dip chicken in batter and then roll in breading and completely coat.

Heat oil in a heavy bottom pot. While oil heats, sprinkle a little extra breading over the chicken. 

Prep a cooling station with a baking rack on top of a paper towel-lined baking sheet. Fry four tenders at a time. Fry until golden brown and cooked through, about 4 minutes.

Removed chickens from the oil and let it sit on the rack in your cooling station. 

Assemble the chicken and doughnuts. First, coat chicken tenders with the spicy syrup. Dust the doughnut with powdered sugar. Sprinkle with the chopped pepper and radish and top with two chicken tenders. 

Sweet. Spicy. Fluffy dough. Crunchy chicken. HOLY MOLY! Get in there!

drinks

lavender lemon gin rickey

Mmmmm. Tastes like sunshine! Thanks to the inspiration from our friends over at Food52, we just found our one true cocktail love for this summer. 

 

serves 2

original recipe 

oz gin

4 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 Tbl honey

4 oz seltzer water

2 springs lavender

Pour gin, lemon juice, and honey over ice in a cocktail shaker and shake well. Strain into two glasses filled with ice. Top with seltzer. Garnish each glass with a sprig of lavender and a slice of lemon.

soups salad + sides, snacks + h'ordeuvres

pea salad

If you must eat your peas, this is the best (and most summery!) way to do it. The trick is using frozen peas that have just thawed. They’re crunchy and bright and each one bursts like a pop of sunshine on your tastebuds. 

As a side note, this salad brings back endless memories of church potlucks. Remember church potlucks? What a smorgasbord of buttery –albeit, sometimes strange– comfort foods. But pea salad was one of my faves. However, this time we’re taking out the mushy element and replace it with loads of flavor from greasy bacon, sharp cheddar, and zestful dressing. 

We made it with a few homemade toasted pita chips. Ya know, sometimes you want salad to feel more like a snack… so add in a few crunchy side players. 

Make it. Chill it. And serve it up all weekend long. 

 

serves 6-8

adapted from The Pioneer Woman

 

4 c frozen peas, almost fully thawed

1 small red onion, thinly sliced

16 oz sharp cheddar cheese, cubed

1 c bacon, cooked + crumbled

1 c fresh parsley, chopped

1/2 c sour cream

1/3 c mayonnaise

1 Tbl distilled vinegar

1 Tbl lemon zest

salt, pepper, + red pepper flakes

1 tsp paprika

pinch cayenne pepper

 

 In a large bowl, allow peas to sit at room temperature until almost thawed.

Meanwhile, prep the mix-ins: onion, cheese, and parsley. 

Add mix-ins to the peas and then add the bacon. 

In a small bowl combine sour cream, mayonnaise, vinegar, lemon zest, salt, pepper, + red pepper flakes. Mix. It was a last minute decision, but paprika + cayenne pepper was a smart move… gives a good kick to the dressing. 

In spoonfuls, add a dollop of the dressing to the pea mixture one at a time. Mix throughly and add more dressing until you achieve your ideal creaminess. (That’s what she… umm…) Place in the fridge to keep cold and crisp. 

SIDE SNACK! While the salad is settling into its dressing in the fridge, make a few pita chips if you want. Tortilla shells brushed with a dash of olive oil, a couple cranks of pepper, and just a small sprinkle of shredded cheese. Yep, more cheese! Bake on broil for a  minute until golden, and slice up. 

This is salad, so you can grab a big ol’ spoon and go at it. OR (and we highly suggest this) you can pretend it’s a bruschetta dip and use your pita chips. It’s messy and you won’t look cute eating it, but –holy peas!– its delicious. 

entrées

buttered pepper burger

Apparently it’s National Burger Day. But I also came across organizations that claim this holiday isn’t until September. Either way, the grill is hot and the burgers are ready. 

A few notes about this delicious concoctions before diving into the recipe. 

First of all, absolutely sauté the yellow peppers in butter. This is a burger. Go all out. The steady sauté of the peppers in salty butter release their sweetness and create the most silky texture. 

Secondly, this burger is made with 1:1 part ground turkey and ground pork. Both are very lean, which means – when you’re grilling this up – it’s easy for the meat to dry out. It’s helpful to add in a bit of the grease from the cooked bacon to give the patties more fat. Remember, this is a burger… go all out!

Lastly, DO NOT underestimate the power of top notch fixin’s. A juicy tomato, a crunchy onion – these are the things you never want to skimp on. Same goes for the buns. Everyone loves hearty, fresh, plump buns… for their burger.  

This is a burger! GO ALL OUT!

 

makes 6 burgers

-patties-

1 lb ground turkey

1 lb ground pork

1 small yellow onion, chopped

1 egg

1 c bacon, cooked + crumbled

1/2 c fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

1 Tbl lime zest

1/2 lime, juiced

salt, pepper, red pepper flakes to taste

 

-fixins-

1 yellow pepper, cleaned + julienne

1/4 c butter

1 large ripe tomato

1 medium red onion

1 jalapeño pepper

boston lettuce

shredded cheddar jack cheese

mayonnaise

sweet paprika

6 pretzel rolls

 

Prep and heat the grill. 

In a big bowl combine meat, chopped onion, egg, bacon (don’t forget a little of the grease!) cilantro, lime zest, lime juice, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Mix with your hands until all ingredients are fully incorporated. 

Form mixture into a ball and evenly divide into 6 portions. Shape into thick patties. 

Place a cast iron on the grill and slowly melt butter. Once melted, add the yellow pepper. Also, add the patties.

As the burgers and peppers are cooking, prepare the fixins. Thickly slice tomato, onion, and jalapeño. 

Check the burgers, but handle as little as possible. The more the burgers are moved or flipped, the more easily they loose their juices. Once the burgers have crisped up and lightly cooked at least halfway through, flip. Top with cheese and allow to finish cooking. 

Keep an eye on the buttered peppers and sauté until the edges are deeply golden.

Assemble: bottom burger bun, mayonnaise, sprinkle of sweet paprika, lettuce, tomato, burger, buttered peppers, sliced jalapeños, red onion, and bit more mayonnaise on the top bun. Secure burger with a knife. Add a pickle for garnish. 

snacks + h'ordeuvres

herby fries

Leftover potatoes are never a problem. There are a million snacks, sides, and even main dishes you can whip up with a few lingering 'taters. But, of course, the good ol’ standby is always fries. Salty, roasty, toasty fries. 

With my herbs just starting to burst forth in the backyard garden, there was no withholding from dousing these little red potato fries with a heavy handful of rosemary, parsley, oregano, and basil. Try out whatever herbs tickle your fancy!

 

serves 2 snacking pals

8-10 medium red potatoes, unpeeled (or whatever you have around)

olive oil

handful fresh herbs, chopped

coarse salt

freshly ground red pepper flakes

 

-dipping sauce-

1/2 c mayonaise

1 lime, juiced

1 tsp sweet paprika, heaping

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

 

Preheat over to 425º.

Slice the potatoes horizontally into an even of pieces as possible. Place in a large bowl and generously coat in olive oil and toss.

Chop your fresh herbs. Mmmmm, smell that fresh earthy goodness!

Toss herbs in with the potatoes and mix until fully incorporated. Add coarse salt and a few cranks of freshly ground red pepper flakes, toss. 

Pour the coated potato slices onto a stoneware or a parchment lined baking sheet.

Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and flip fries.

Place back in oven and bake for another 20-25 minutes, until very golden and crispy.

While the fries are baking, make the dipping sauce. In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, fresh lime juice, and spices. Whisk until smooth. 

Serve fries with dipping sauce immediately!

entrées

zucchini ribbon pasta

I won’t try to convince you that zucchini pasta taste just like regular paste. It doesn’t. It’s zucchini. It tastes like you’re eating a crap load of vegetables. However, I will tell you that it does taste pretty damn good. Ribbon sliced zucchini is fresh, crunchy, and light. Add a hearty helping of homemade pesto and it gets fairly delicious. 

But it’s not pasta. It’s zucchini. Healthy, good-for-you, tons-of-vitamins-you-can-feel-good-about zucchini. 

So give it a whack. What’s the worse that can happen? You give your waistband a break for a night. 

 

serves 4

–pesto–

2 - 3 c basil

2 Tbl olive oil

1 small yellow onion, diced

1/4 c sliced almonds

2 tsp red wine vinegar

red pepper flakes

s + p

–pasta–

handful heirloom grape tomatoes

olive oil

2 zucchinis

parmesan

 

Preheat oven to 450º.

In a food processor, add basil, onion, and almonds. Roughing pulse a few times. 

While the processor is on, slowly pour in olive oil & vinegar. 

Turn off, scrape down edges, and again turn on until pesto is smooth and creamy. Add more oil if needed. 

On a lined baking sheet, toss a handful of tomatoes with olive oil and roast in the oven for 10 minutes, or until the tomatoes have slightly burst. Let cool. 

With a vegetable peeler, peel long ribbons from the zucchini and lay flat on a paper towel. Let the ribbons sit for a few minutes as the water is extracted and absorbed by the towel. 

In a large bowl, toss together the zucchini and a generous helping of the pesto. Keep the leftover pesto in an air tight container int he fridge for up to 3 days. 

Divide pasta into bowls, top with the roasted tomatoes and thick shavings of parmesan cheese.

drinks

whiskey face punch

Hey, midweek big batch cocktail! 

I’m a wino through and through, but now that the sun is shining during happy hour, I’ve been craving fresh, cold drinks that can keep it light on the booze without sacrificing a solid punch to the tastebuds. 

Enter our Whiskey Face Punch. 

It’s the only kick in the pie hole that won’t leave you in tears. This recipe makes a nice batch of the cocktail, so it’s prefect for those afternoons you’re playing host to a friendly gathering at your home. Cheers!

 

serves 6-8

1/4 c sugar

1/4 c water

1/2 c meyer lemon juice (or a mix of regular + meyer)

1 1/2 c orange juice

2 c bourbon whiskey

2 c club soda

lemon slices for garnishing

 

Mixed together sugar and water and heat in the microwave for 2 minutes. Place in the fridge until completely cooled. In a large pitcher or bowl, pour in the simple syrup. 

Squeeze 2 lemons for 1/2 cup of juice. I like to use a mix of Meyer lemon and regular lemon. 

Add lemon juice to pitcher and then orange juice. 

Add in whiskey. Lastly, pour in cold club soda. 

Mix thoroughly. 

Serve over crushed ice with a thick slice of lemon. Save the remaining mixture in a sealable bottle. 

soups salad + sides

chicken tortilla soup

My crockpot is one of the most important kitchen items I own. When I was first in the market for a crockpot I came across the exact same year, make, and model as the one I had grown up watching my mom use. It’s ugly, clunky and cooks a helluva meal every time. I didn’t hesitate. I scooped it up for pennies at a thrift store, replaced the plug, and have never had a single regret. (Don’t mind the missing knob on the front. It still turns!) 

Crockpots make cooking a cinch, especially on those days you don’t feel like cooking… Like weekends! Weekends are meant for easy living. It’s a time to rejuvenate and relax with those you love, around a table, around a movie, and – now with warmer weather making its way into our lives – around a picnic spread. 

This particular soup is great for the transition from winter to spring. It’s warm and filling, but not overly indulgent and heavy. The bit of spicy kick can be tapered to your liking and adds a fresh heat to the meal. 

The best part: set it and forget it! 

Toss the ingredient in your crockpot on a Sunday morning, set it on low, and go about your business. Whether you’re around the house for chores or out-n-about having adventures all day long, when it’s finally time to snuggle up with your honey bunny in the evening, your delicious soup will be awaiting your arrival. 

Bon appétit!

 

serves 6 - 8

2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast

1 can black beans, drained + rinsed

1 can fire-roasted tomatoes

1 medium red onion, chopped

1 packet taco seasoning

1 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

s+p

32 oz (1 qt) chicken stock

1 can golden sweet corn

1/2 c cilantro, chopped plus more for garnishing

half a lime, juiced 

crushed tortilla chips

shredded cheese

sour cream 

 

Cut the chicken into smaller pieces. Add chicken, beans, tomatoes, onion, taco seasoning, and cayenne pepper to a crockpot. Pour in chicken stock. Add a few cranks of s+p and turn the crockpot to high heat. Cook for 4 hours (or 8 hours on low). 

With a large knife and fork, shred the chicken while in the crockpot. It should fall apart easily since it’s been cooking nice and slowly for so long. 

Add sweet corn and cilantro. Let cook for another 30 minutes. 

To serve, ladle soup into a bowl and top with a squeeze of fresh lime juice, crushed tortilla chips, shredded cheese, sour cream, and chopped cilantro.