Summer Cocktail Piña Colada

Pineapples were on sale so I bought one, brought it home and sliced it up. I collected a little more than a cup of the slices and placed them in a bag in the freezer overnight.

Once frozen, they would be perfect for Piña Coladas!

I made one batch with spiced rum and the other with light rum. Both very good and refreshing. I ended up adding a tablespoon of simple syrup to the spiced rum to mellow it out but taste yours and see if it needs any sweetening.

You don’t need to be tired of your lady to enjoy these – they are a great way to end a week and an even better way to end July.

Piña Colada Cocktail

½ cup spiced or light rum
½ cup coconut milk
½ cup frozen pineapple chunks, plus fresh for garnish
1 cup ice

Add rum, coconut milk, pineapple chunks to a blender with ice. Blend until smooth.

Pour into 2 glasses.

Garnish each glass with a swizzle stick filled with pineapple chunks.

Meyer Lemon Pie

I’ve had a craving for lemons lately. I made a big pitcher of lemonade the other day but that just wasn’t enough. My dad was eating a slice of key lime pie from the icebox and the light bulb went off – lemon pie!

I really like the sweeter, mellow lemon flavor of Meyer lemons, so I was happy to see them in the grocery store.

I used the America’s Test Kitchen crust. The saltine crackers are a good alternative to a graham cracker crust.

The result is light and not too sweet, not too tart – Goldilocks would love this pie!

While you can top with the whipped egg whites or whipped cream, I usually don’t bother. I don’t want anything to distract from the lemons.

Meyer Lemon Pie

53 saltine crackers, about a sleeve and half
1/8 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
¼ cup light corn syrup
14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
4 egg yolks
¼ cup milk
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/8 teaspoon salt
½ cup fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a food processor, crush saltines and salt. This takes about 15 pulses. Add in butter and corn syrup. Pulse until it looks like coarse sand, about 15 pulses.

Press into a 9 inch pie plate. Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly golden.

In a bowl, use a whisk to mix sweetened condensed milk, egg yolks, milk and zest. Whisk in salt and lemon juice. Pour into still warm pie crust and return to oven for 15-18 minutes. It should only have a slight jiggle.

Cool on the counter for 15 minutes before transferring the refrigerator overnight (at least 4 hours). The pie needs to be completely chilled before slicing.

 

Cherry Tomato Tartlets

I walked on Romar Beach with my sister, brother-in-law and niece at sunrise on Saturday morning. There are storms in the Gulf, so the sky was red in warning.

On the way home, I stopped by the Coastal Alabama Farmers and Fishermans Market and bought a bunch of cherry and grape tomatoes.

I had seen an episode of Kitchen Queens – Women Chefs of New Orleans and watched Melissa Araujo whip up a tomato tart. It looked lovely but I had to make a few changes – it needed a little cheese for starters. Also, since I’m away from my herb garden, dried herbs. I cooked them in the muffin tin so we could all enjoy our own little tartlet.

While baking it made the house smell wonderful but the true joy was eating them. Bright, rich tomato flavor and the balsamic vinegar added a lovely touch.

Cherry Tomato Tartlets

1 lb cherry tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon dried basil (or 1 tablespoon fresh)
1 teaspoon dried oregano (or 1 tablespoon fresh)
½ teaspoon granulated garlic
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
½ cup mozzarella cheese, grated

Store bought pie crust

Large muffin tin or tart pan

Generously butter the muffin tin. Cut the pie crust into 6 rounds (you’ll have to ball up the pieces and reroll for the last 2. Place a round in the bottom of each muffin tin, letting it come slightly up the sides.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Slice the tomatoes in half. Heat the oil in a medium skillet and toss in 2/3rds of the tomatoes, reserving the remaining third. Sprinkle with salt. Sauté the tomatoes until they soften slightly. Add basil, oregano and garlic and stir. Stir in the balsamic vinegar. Cook until most of the liquid has cooked away.

Divide the mozzarella cheese evenly between each muffin tin. Divide the cooked tomatoes between each muffin tin. Set the uncooked tomatoes, cut side up, on top of the cooked tomatoes.

Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes until the filling is bubbling hot and the crust is golden brown. Allow to cool for 15 minutes and then remove from pan. Let cool an additional 10 minutes and serve.

Savory Sausage Corn Muffins

I woke with an urge for corn muffins and, as I got the corn out to thaw, I saw a package of bulk sausage. I pulled it out, too, as there is nothing like having some meat with my veg.

The recipe I was basing my muffins on uses Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix which is a bit sweet for my taste. That’s why I added a little sugar to my usual corn muffin base recipe. Not too much, though, as I’m not a barbarian. Or a Yankee!

As I was using white corn meal, I added in some cheddar cheese to up the yellow color of the finished muffins.

Very yummy and filling. Lots of good corn flavor and rich with the butter, milk and cheese.

Savory Sausage Corn Muffins

½ lb bulk breakfast sausage
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
3 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cup milk
1 cup corn kernels – canned or frozen is fine
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
¼ cup melted butter

Brown the bulk sausage in a medium skillet over medium heat. Drain on a paper towel and let cool slightly.

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Lightly butter 12 muffin cups.

Whisk together dry ingredients. Whisk the egg into the milk and mix into the dry ingredients. Add in the sausage, corn and cheese and stir until combined. Pour in melted butter and stir well.

Use a 1/3 cup measure to portion out the batter into the muffin cups. Bake at 400 degrees F for 15-20 minutes or until light, golden brown.

Darkly Chocolate Sheet Cake with Fudge Frosting

I had the end of a bag of powdered sugar and a little less than a cup of buttermilk. All I could think of to use them both was frosting but what to frost? I didn’t want to fuss with cake pans or layers so I went with a super easy chocolate sheet pan recipe.

The coffee makes it seem even more chocolately. By adding a full cup, the cake is super moist and tender.

The creme de cacao reduces the sweetness of the frosting. Be sure and add it after you’ve pulled the frosting from the heat as you don’t want to burn it all off.

An easy and delicious cake recipe. I definitely recommend it!

Darkly Chocolate Sheet Cake

2 sticks unsalted butter
½ cup Dutch process or natural unsweetened cocoa
1 cup hot coffee
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups granulated sugar
½ cup buttermilk, at room temperature
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9″ x 13″ pan.

Melt the butter in a double boiler. Stir in the cocoa and hot coffee.

Sift together the flour, soda, and salt. Place in the bowl of stand mixer with the sugar.

Pour the cocoa butter mixture over the dry ingredients. Mix on low until combined. Beat in the buttermilk, eggs and vanilla. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake the cake for 30 minutes, or until it tests done with a toothpick. When done, the cake will begin to pull away from the edge of the pan. Remove the cake from the oven and cool it on a rack.

I use a tall sided pan for baking the cake so that when I pour over the warm frosting, it doesn’t make a mess.

Fudge Frosting

8 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup Dutch process or natural unsweetened cocoa
6 tablespoons buttermilk, at room temperature
3 ¼ cups confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon creme de cacoa

Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan. Stir in the cocoa and buttermilk.

Bring the mixture to a boil, then remove it from the heat and mix in the confectioners’ sugar and creme de cacoa, beating until smooth.

Pour the frosting over the cake while the frosting is still warm. Serve the cake right from the pan.

Fresh Peach Schnapps and Tequila Cocktail

The Peach Tree On The Southern Wall

 

The peach tree on the southern wall
Has basked so long beneath the sun,
Her score of peaches great and small
Bloom rosy, every one.
A peach for brothers, one for each,
A peach for you and a peach for me;
But the biggest, rosiest, downiest peach
For Grandmamma with her tea.
Christina Georgina Rossetti

 

I bought a bunch of peaches from Chilton County, Alabama (home of the best peaches on the planet) and decided that I wouldn’t save the best for Grandma’s tea but rather to make a cocktail.

Sweet and juicy, like the fruit itself. Be careful of the sneaky kick from the alcohol!

Fresh Peachy Tequila Cocktail

1 ripe peach, peeled and sliced
1 teaspoon lime juice
2 ounces tequila
1 ounce peach schnapps
1 tablespoon agave nectar

Toss the peach slices in the lime juice both for flavor and for them to keep their color. Place the peaches and the liquid and all other ingredients with about a cup of ice in a blender and blend until smooth.

Serve over ice.

Chocolate Chip Snickers Cookies

I was really craving chocolate and was happily munching on a Fun-sized Snickers when my hind brain went, “Wait just a minute! Why don’t you put one of those in a chocolate chip cookie?”

I love my brain.

I cut each fun size I could rescue from the maw of my parents into 6 pieces. I ended up with a cup of Snickers pieces.

Definitely refrigerate the dough, as it will spread a bit more when it isn’t cold, making for thinner, less chewy cookies.

The cookies are really good – the caramel and nuts was a lovely addition.

Chocolate Chip Snickers Cookies

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 cup bittersweet chocolate morsels
1 cup fun-sized Snickers, each candy cut into 6 pieces

Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in small bowl. Set aside.

Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and Snickers.

Cover bowl with plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator for 1 hour. It can be stored for up to 3 days before use.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Drop rounded tablespoon of cookie dough onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 1 minute; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

 

Rosemary Garlic Sage Rubbed Grilled Chicken

I bought a whole chicken the other day and found a partial case of old light beer when cleaning my parent’s garage. That made it easy to decide to grill it using the beer can up the the butt method. The added moisture from the beer keeps the chicken moist through the grilling, so you don’t need to brine it.

The rub is all things that are delicious with chicken – rosemary, garlic, sage plus salt and pepper. While the amount I fixed had enough for one chicken, it keeps well in an airtight container, so feel free to double the recipe and keep extra on hand.

I forgot to take a picture before I started carving but you can see how moist the meat and beautifully crisp the skin is after 70 minutes grilling and ten minutes of resting. Very tasty and the leftovers make awesome chicken salad.

Be very careful when removing the chicken from the grill – the can will be slick and the chicken is now top heavy so it can easily slide off a pan. Of course a few grassy notes won’t harm anyone and, if you’re quick to pick it back up, no will ever know you dropped it.

Not that I speak from experience or anything.

Rosemary Garlic Sage Rubbed Grilled Chicken


3-5 lb whole chicken
1 can beer
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon rubbed sage
½ teaspoon black pepper
6 tablespoons butter, softened

Pour off about a third of the can of beer and cut the top partially off. Drop in the garlic cloves.

Combine the salt, rosemary, garlic, sage and black pepper. Mix with your fingers. Set aside.

Loosen the skin of the chicken and smear pats of butter under the skin. Use any leftover butter to coat the outside of the skin. Sprinkle the rub onto the chicken about 1 hour before grilling, turning it over to coat all sides.

Set up the grill for indirect cooking. I usually make a half circle with the coals. Ease the very slick chicken down on top of the beer can. It will take a little effort to work it down but, once it is on, the legs will act as a tripod and it will sit securely on the grates.

Grill for 1 hour, with the back of the chicken facing the coals. Take its temperature after 60 minutes and then turn it carefully to finish cooking with the breast side facing the coals.

When the internal temperature has reached 170, remove the chicken from the grill. Use tongs to separate the hot can of beer from the chicken and discard. Let rest for at least 5 minutes before carving and serving.

Grilled and Filled Pears

I fired up the grill to do steaks for my Dad for Father’s Day and decided that we’d go pear shaped for dessert. I like baked pears (and apples) and figured wood smoke would be a delicious addition.

Not really knowing too much about pears, I just picked up some firm ones from the grocery. You need them to keep their shape, so don’t choose soft ones.

I filled the pears with a sweetened and flavored cream cheese, that I rolled into balls and then rolled the balls in chopped pecans.

Once the steaks were grilled and were resting, I put the pears on to get grill marks. I then closed off the vents and let the pears roast in a pan above the dying fire while we ate. Once we finished and the plates cleared, I pressed in the nut ball and served the grilled and filled pears.

Very simple and quite tasty!

Grilled and Filled Pears

3 pears
2 tablespoons lemon juice mixed with 2 tablespoons water
4 ounces of cream cheese, softened
¼ cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup pecans, finely chopped
2 tablespoons butter

Cut pears in half and core. Rub the exposed surface with diluted lemon juice to keep from browning.

Combine cream cheese, brown sugar and cinnamon. Roll into balls the size of the cored cavities and then roll the ball in chopped pecans. Place into the fridge.

Place pear halves cut side down on the grill grates and roast for 5 minutes. Drop the butter into the aluminum pan and let melt. Use tongs to remove the halves to the pan and rub the cut sides in the butter. Leave the pears butter side down and place the pan on the grill away from the coals and continue to roast until tender, about 15 minutes more or until pears have softened and yield gently when squeezed.

When the pears are done, remove the nut balls from the fridge. Flip over the pears and press a nut ball into the cored cavity of each pear half. You can leave the pears on the fire to stay warm or remove pan from the grill and serve.

Lambrusco Sangria

We opened a rather large bottle of Riunite Lambrusco to have with grilled steaks and didn’t manage to finish it that night.

So I decided to turn it into sangria. It makes a lightly effervescent and very refreshing drink. I basically used the fruit in the fridge – I would have added about a cup of grapes (peeled) had I had any or a banana. You want a mix of citrus and other mild fruit flavors that will commingle with liquids but still retain their shapes.

The basic rule of thumb is for every 2 cups of Lambrusco, add about 1 cup of other flavoring liquid – I like a mix of orange juice and triple sec. A full bottle of wine is about 3 cups.

The perfect accompaniment to the cicadas, katydids and laughter that were the music to our socially distant cocktail hour on a lovely June evening.

Lambrusco Sangria

1 orange or 3 tangerines/clementines/satsumas, peeled and cut into rounds
1 apple, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
1 peach, peeled and cut into slices
½ cup cantaloupe chunks
3/4 cup orange juice
¼ cup triple sec
2 tablespoons agave nectar (more as necessary)
2 cups Lambrusco

In a pitcher, stir together the fruit pieces. Add in orange juice and orange liqueur and agave nectar. Let sit for at least 30 minutes for the flavors to marry.

Stir in Lambrusco and ice cubes. Stir vigorously and taste for sweetness. Add more agave nectar, if needed. If it isn’t effervescent enough, add a splash of club soda or sparkling water. Serve over ice, placing some of the fruit in each glass.