Rosemary and Garlic Infused Potato Salad

WHOO HOO!  GO AMERICA!!!  Party on.  Excellent.  Don't show up to the Fourth of July party empty handed.  If you want to set off some taste bud firecrackers you should definitely make this crazy flavorful potato salad.  I love a good German potato salad, so I kept most of the ingredients but added a pretty amazing twist.  What we are going to do here is replace that boring mustard and mayo mixture with rosemary and garlic infused aioli (mayo made with olive oil), fried rosemary and garlic chips, whole grain mustard and healthy and delicious red potatoes.  I mean, come on, what else could you possibly make that would top this side dish?  Do it!

 

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Watermelon and Mint Salad

Today I have a super simple and delicious recipe that you can serve throughout the summer.  Watermelon and mint should be available all summer at your local farmer's market.  It is such a fresh and sweet combination of ingredients that you will love having it as a side dish or a desert with many dinners.  

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Basil Garlic Chicken Burger

I don't know about you, but I crave a burger on about a weekly basis.  Now, if I ate a beef burger on a weekly basis I would have to get my big butt to the gym a whole lot more than I currently make it there.  So instead of letting the beef burger get the best of me, I like to substitute with healthy ground chicken.  A weekly chicken burger has curbed my burger cravings, kept my waist line at a reasonable circumference and (bonus) fulfilled the toddler-will-eat entree requirement for one night a week.  I like to add basil, garlic and Worcestershire sauce to my chicken patties to give them a little zip.  Enjoy!

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Fish Sticks with Tartar Sauce

Hi friends.  Today I've got another one of my favorite family recipes.  Homemade fish sticks, rather than store bought frozen fish sticks, are definitely the way to go.   They taste about a million times better and are way more nutritious if you use fresh fish.  Also, I'm not sure if you have ever made your own tartar sauce instead of using the jarred kind, but homemade is definitely the way to go in the tartar sauce department.  It is so tangy and fresh with fresh lemon juice and fresh onions and it only takes about 5 minutes to prepare.   Plus, while your making it, you can pop 2-10 gherkin pickles in your mouth making the cooking process a whole lot more fun.  This meal is so quick and easy to make, that I end up making it about once a week.  It seriously only takes about 25 minutes from start to finish.  I like to serve the fish sticks with baked sweet potatoes, sauteed spinach or a smoothie.  My toddler really loves this meal and so does her father and I.   I guarantee your family will love it too!

 

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Strawberry Lemon Shortcake

Strawberries are definitely, hands down, my favorite fruit.  As a child of the 80's, I loved the Strawberry Shortcake character.  One my favorite pastimes as a child was going strawberry picking with my family (though it always resulted in spending countless hours in the kitchen cleaning and cutting strawberries for freezing--not so much fun).  If there is a pile of hard candy or lolly pops, I will always fish out the strawberry flavored ones.  I even love strawberry printed fabrics and strawberry adorned clothing.  So, when it is strawberry season, I tend to go a little overboard with the strawberry themed foods.  I hope you don't mind.  Here is a recipe for a strawberry lemon shortcake that I've been making for many years.  Enjoy!

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Strawberry Mint Gin Cocktail

It's strawberry season!  This is the time of year when I gorge myself on ripe strawberries and try to think of every recipe I can make with them.  I'm also fond of mixing any delicious seasonal fruit with alcohol and pretending I'm a fancy mixologist.  While this drink looks super fancy and will definitely wow your guests, the recipe is actually pretty easy.  There isn't any infusing or straining, just a little muddling.  Serve this at your next bbq and your sure to make your guests berry happy!

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Spring Pasta with Ramps and Turkey Meatballs

As promised, I am rolling out recipes for some of my favorite family meals.  This one is a huge hit with my toddler because it has "noodeeze" and turkey meatballs.  She isn't so keen on the tomatoes, but I reserve those for my husband and I.  Also, the finely chopped greens that end up on the "noodeeze" are a great way to sneak some greens into her picky little mouth.  Ramps are only around in the spring and early summer so get em while the gettin' is good!  

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Baked Rosemary Garlic French Fries

Ever since I waited tables at the Spotted Pig way back in 2006, I have been obsessed with perfected my own rosemary garlic french fries.  The Spotted Pig's shoestring french fries with fried rosemary and garlic chips will definitely make your heart go pitter -patter, pitter-patter.  Unfortunately, they may also make your heart go phut, phut, phut, eeeeee-arrrrrr- kerplunk because they are basically just a whole lotta oil with a little starch.  Over the years, I've tinkered around with my own recipe and I think I've devised a delicious and healthy (well, healthIER) alternative to the Spotted Pig french fries.  Baked fries using nutritious red potatoes with loads of garlic and rosemary!!  Enjoy!

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Ginger Margarita

Here is a delicious and refreshing cocktail to enjoy in the warm months to come.  I made this margarita for a Memorial Day party that we had at Katie's house and all of the adult guests enjoyed it.  It's tart and sweet and really perfect to have with chips and salsa during your cocktail hour.  A candied ginger garnish is a great counterpoint that you can nibble on while drinking the cocktail.  I love ginger!   

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Baked Beans

Are you planning a summer barbecue?  Well don't forget the baked beans!  Wow your guests with homemade from scratch baked beans just like your grandmother used to make.  Here is a fabulous recipe that is sure to please. 

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Ham and Beans with Skillet Cornbread

Lately, I have been looking for new family meals that my entire family will enjoy, including my southern husband and my picky toddler.  This recipe was derived from the southern ham and beans recipe but I added my northern twist to it making the beans with ketchup, mustard and brown sugar to give them more of baked bean flavor.  The skillet cornbread is a MUST with this recipe because the juice from the beans is so yummy and flavorful that you have to have something to mop up all that goodness.  Over the next couple of months, I will be sharing many of my original family/ toddler friendly meals with you.   So please stay tuned!

 
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Low Sugar Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I've been looking for a way to get my picky one and half year old to eat a healthy breakfast that isn't limited to cheerios and apple juice.  She likes oatmeal but god forbid you try and take away an iota of autonomy from her by *gasp* spoon feeding it to her.  I have tried baking some of the oatmeal breakfast bars for babies I've seen online, but they are bit too crumbly and mushy and the taste is rather bland.  Cookies are pretty much a sure fire way to get any kid to eat so I came up with these low sugar oatmeal raisin cookies that look and taste like the real thing but are actually just a bowl of oatmeal dressed up in a cute little cookie outfit.  Even my cookie monster couldn't tell the difference and we had a very peaceful breakfast this morning sans the force feeding, screaming and food throwing.

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Salty Caramel and Dark Chocolate Bird's Nests

Recipe for Salty Caramel and Dark Chocolate Bird's Nests

This Easter I invited some of my mommy friends and their families over for an Easter dinner and all-out toddler insane-fest.  To really get the toddler blood pumping so they could do the best possible job of destroying my apartment, I made a decadent desert with pretzels, dark chocolate, caramel and Jordan almonds.  Once the sugar had mainlined in their little bodies we kept it going by doing an egg hunt with plastic eggs filled with Fruit Loops.  By the way, if your looking for the perfect snack that is colorful and sticky to have ground into your floors and carpets, Fruit Loops is it.  The adults enjoyed bloody mary's, and whiskey and we all enjoyed the amazing potluck dishes that my friends brought over.  Blue cheese biscuits, asparagus ragu, mac and cheese and a delicious ham were all on the menu followed by an Eastery treat of Bird's Nests.  A super fun day for my husband and I and especially memorable Easter for Ruby.

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Ham and Cheese Scones

Lately I've been craving savory baked goods for breakfast, or lunch, or an afternoon snack, or a morning snack or a late night snack.... well you get my point... I'm craving melty cheese and salty ham wrapped up in a buttery biscuit like a  Martha Stewart craves hospital corners.  

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Cheesy Carrot Sticks for Toddlers

Ever since I discovered that Ruby loves cheese crackers, I have been researching recipes for homemade cheese crackers.  I found this recipe for Carrot Sticks from the fantastic website Weelicious.  I modified the recipe by adding more cheese and salt and incorporating paprika which created a cheese cracker with the healthy bonus of carrots and a good amount of cheesy flavor.

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Spicy Bluecheese Celery Boats

So, I have a confession to make.... I didn't actually live in the 70's.   But, my husband did live through the 70's and when I asked him what he would consider to be a quintessential 70's appetizer he said, without hesitation, celery boats.  Celery boats!  I immediately started visualizing ants on a log and celery with that disgusting canned pimento cheese spread on top.  Yuck!  But then Emily and got to thinking and we came up with a gourmet version of the old celery boat.  With quality blue cheese and a little spice, this boat is sure to float any party.

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Trail Mix 70's Party Favor

Coming up with a 70's themed party favor wasn't easy.  We wanted to avoid the trappings of a chintzy favor like the mirror ball key chains and smiley face doodads that you usually get at a 70's theme party.  Emily came up with the idea of giving our guests trail mix so that when they "hit the trail" at the end of the night they would have something to munch on.  Plus, trail mix seemed like the perfect 70's snack.  Katie came up with the idea of using awesome yellow and orange vintage tupperware containers to serve the trail mix in.  The trail mix was a huge hit and our guests loved the vintage tupperware.  Part of the magic is using equal parts of all of the components.  This way each bite has a bit of everything.  We ended up calling this treat, "Even Steven Trail Mix".   

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Amaretto Sour

I'm not sure why Emily and I picked an Amaretto Sour to be the cocktail for our 70's themed fondue party, but when we were thinking of cocktail ideas it just seemed like the perfect 70's drink.  I decided to make my own sweet and sour mix instead of using the store-bought stuff which was a great decision because these Amaretto Sours were actually very tasty and our guests gave them rave reviews.

 

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Caramel Fondue

Emily and I had a super funny but also somewhat scary time making caramel together during our fondue party.  Any time you make a sugar recipe, you have to exercise extreme caution, as even the tiniest bit of liquid sugar on your skin can cause a serious burn.  While we carefully made this caramel fondue, we couldn't stop laughing (it doesn't take much), since working with sugar is pretty unpredictable.  You start with a very small amount of water to the amount of sugar used, so at first it didn't seem like the sugar would dissolve in the water.  It finally did melt down and we started to swirl the molten sugar, waiting for it to start to turn golden brown (carmel is just slightly burnt sugar).  We got impatient and maybe swirled a bit too vigorously - at this point the sugar turned to what looks like pebbles.  What probably happened was that the water from the sides of the pan mixed with the molten sugar and cooled it down, this made it seize up.  We pushed through, however, adding a tiny bit of the cream to re-melt the sugar.  As we continued to stir, the sugar finally started to brown and we thought we were in the clear.  "It's working!" we cackled as the caramel took shape.  We were literally screaming with excitement.  "It's working!!!"  We then added the remaining cream (carefully as advised) and the cream started boiling up and the caramel turned into a big blob in the liquid!  Alas, we hadn't been in the clear after all.  A big drip of sugar fell to the floor, but we kept whisking away.  Surely enough, the blob dissolved again and we were left with a silky and DELICIOUS caramel.  We were mad scientists who finally came up with a beautiful creation and we were so proud.  Adding in the tiny seeds from the vanilla beans, we were relieved to see that there were to be no further twists in the plot.  We poured the caramel fondue into a fondue pot and served it to our guests with hand-dipped chocolate covered pretzel rods, green apples, chocolate covered marshmallows, chocolate truffles, homemade pound cake, and sea salt and walnuts for coating.  It was worth risking life and limb - SO delightful.  We ate it all.  With our guests, of course.  

 

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Beef Broth Fondue

Broth fondue can be a bit intimidating, since you're asking your guests to do some cooking of their own.  Hot beef broth over an open Sterno flame is used to cook raw cubes of beef.  This technique is similar to the Japanese dish shabu-shabu that has recently become pretty popular.  Our guests were a little wary at first, but once they realized that the broth really does cook the meat completely, they loved it!  If you keep the meat in the broth for about 30 seconds the meat is medium rare, but if you keep it in longer (as some of our guests did) it will get completely cooked through.  It's important to cut the beef into small pieces to allow them to cook in a reasonable amount of time.  The flavor of the broth infuses into the meat and it is very tender.  For our 70s theme party we decided to serve the meat with A1 sauce and creamy horseradish sauce.      

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