Thursday, April 30, 2009

Hibiscus Cooler

Years ago, a friend turned me on to the shaken herbal tea lemonade at Starbucks.
While driving around recently with my two, pregnant (at the time) sisters...we stopped to get one. They had never had them before & loooved it! It seems like a pregnant girl can't drink much. But, this is something anyone can enjoy...even the Bozos love it.
I had replicated their version at home before. So, I made some for my sis while staying with her. I think she drank a couple gallons of it.

It's super simple.
First, you need Tazo Passion tea. This is essential, as it's really the best tasting Hibiscus tea out there.
Fill a pitcher with water & pour it into a pot to boil.

Add 4 teas bags & steep for about 5 minutes.

Remove the tea bags & pour the tea back into the pitcher. Add a 1/3 of a can of frozen lemonade concentrate. Save the rest in the freezer for the next batch...'cuz there will be a next batch.
Stir to dissolve & let cool a bit before refrigerating until completely chilled.

Pour over ice & serve.

Monday, April 27, 2009

BBQ Chicken

While away in Oregon, I made BBQ chicken one night. It was a big hit. I made this recipe quite a bit last summer, but never blogged, now I am. It's adapted from Barefoot Contessa's first cookbook.
As anyone who reads my posts regularly knows, I love BFC. I have rarely cooked anything of hers that hasn't been a smashing success. However, a down side to her recipes is that she tends to use very expensive ingredients. This recipe is a perfect example. It involves a lot of condiments. If you don't happen to have them in the house, buying them all will set you back a bit.
It would be a lot cheaper to just by a couple bottles of BBQ sauce. But, as a special treat, or occasion, I highly recommend trying this sauce. It's a thousand times better than the bottled stuff. I am making a half recipe here, which is enough for one whole five pound chicken...with extra.

Get out a medium saucepan. In it, sauté one medium onion,

and 2 cloves of minced garlic,

in a quarter cup olive oil,

over medium-low heat, for 10 minutes.

Then add 1-8 ounce can of tomato paste,

a 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar,

a 1/2 cup honey,

a 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce,

a 1/2 cup Dijon mustard,

a 1/2 cup hoisin sauce,

a 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes,

a tablespoon of chili powder,

and a 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin.

Whisk everything up & bring to a low boil. Reduce the heat & simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Let the sauce cool while you get the chicken ready.

Put 8 pieces of chicken in a bowl, or plastic storage container.

Pour half the sauce over the chicken & toss to coat evenly.
Let it marinate overnight.

When ready to cook, preheat the grill & oil the grates.
Cook, skin side down, for approximately 15 minutes on medium heat...depending on the size & thickness of your chicken. You want it to be slightly blackened, but not burnt. So, adjust your grill temperature accordingly.

Flip & cook another 12-15 minutes, or until the internal temperature is 165 degrees. Remove from the grill & let rest about 5 minutes before serving.
Serve with some extra BBQ sauce on the side.

Opening Day

Friday, April 24, 2009

Sadie Katherine

After being 10 days past her due date, and 36 hours of labor, my niece finally arrived yesterday at 6:06pm...weighing in at 8 pounds & 21 1/2 inches long.
Welcome to the world beautiful baby girl!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Kitchen Tool of the Week...

Things have slowed down a bit here the past week. I have been so busy traveling & now, re-adjusting myself & my children to our time zone.
I am also taking a much needed break from cooking since I have been back & will be back in the swing of things soon!

In honor of EARTH DAY, my Kitchen Tool of the Week is not one you use for cooking. But, ones you use for eating. In our house, we try hard to be more & more environmentally conscious. Someone told me once, that you should recycle even when it's inconvenient & that statement really hit me. It is so easy to get lazy & choose the easy way to do things, rather than taking the time that it takes to be environmentally responsible.

When it comes to the kids, I use re-usable containers for their lunches, cloth napkins, and re-usable utensils. Today, with all the focus on being earth friendly, I have seen a wide assortment of green lunch ideas on the web & on TV.
Here are a few great ones...

I love these To-Go bamboo utensil sets. They include a set of chopsticks too. Which, is a plus, because the Bozos love eating with chopsticks. You can stop by here, for a 20% off coupon.

Snack & sandwich packaging make massive amounts of waste. It is a bit more time consuming to have to wash out a Tupperware, rather than to simply chuck a plastic baggie in the trash.
But, with these cute bags from SnackTAXI, it's hard not to be responsible. They are plastic lined & completely machine washable & dry able. They also come in a sandwich & snack size.

It's been over a year since we have purchased any bottled water...ever since we switched to re-usable water bottles.
We use Klean Kanteen's, SIGG bottles, & BPA-free Camelbaks. They are all pretty pricey though. These bottles from BioGreen are BPA-free, completely biodegradable & very affordable.

Happy Earth Day!!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Oregon Trip

We just arrived home last night at 3am. My niece Sadie, has yet to be born. As of today she is 8 days past due...stubborn little thing.
The purpose of our trip was to meet her & help my sister with everything that having a new little baby entails. So, in that sense there is some disappointment. But, it was great to spend time with everyone.

I got to see my niece Penny, who I only get to see once, or twice a year. I trained her to respond to the question, "Who's your favorite?" with the answer, "Dee Dee" (Katie). I think she will actually remember who I am now & I am so thrilled about that.

My brother & my SIL also joined us, from Wyoming, for a weekend . I got to see my nephew, Nicholas, for the first time since November.

Here are the cousins together, minus Sadie. Which is sad...but, all the more reason to make another reunion happen again real soon.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Happy 1 Year Anniversary to TPT!

I am commemorating my 1 year anniversary (a tad belated) of having this blog, by re-posting my very first post...originally posted on April 6th, 2008.

I made this dessert platter for a Bridal Shower this weekend. Making desserts is my favorite thing.
It was my first time making some of the items & I think they came out pretty tasty.

Man, I have come a long way in a year.

Roasted Caprese Salad

This recipe comes from Barefoot Contessa's newest cookbook, Back to Basics. A friend of mine made it during our winter trip to Vermont & I thought it was great. My sister loves Caprese salad & this one is perfect during the winter months, when it's difficult to find ripe tomatoes. So, we made it last night.

Start with 12 plum tomatoes.
Halve them lengthwise & remove the seeds, but not the cores. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.

Next, mince 2 large cloves of garlic.

Lay the tomatoes, skin side down, on a baking sheet. Drizzle them with some olive oil, 1 1/2 tablespoons of Balsamic vinegar, the minced garlic, 1 teaspoon of sugar, and some kosher salt & pepper.
Slow roast them for about 2 hours, or until beginning to caramelize.

Next, roll up 12 leaves of fresh basil,

and thinly slice them...aka a chiffonade.
Then slice 16 ounces of fresh mozzarella cheese, in nice thick slices, roughly the size of the tomatoes.

When the tomatoes are done, let them cool to room temperature & layer them with the mozzarella. Sprinkle the basil over the top, and serve.