Monthly Archive for March, 2013

Tricky BBQ Meatball Sub Sandwich – April Foolin’ Food

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One of the things I enjoy most as a parent is pulling a fun prank on my kids. The bar has been set high over the last few years (a meatloaf cake with pink mash potato “frosting”, dessert sushi, fake fish sticks, peas and carrots, impossible to drink juice and meatloaf cup cakes). While I can’t reveal what I anticipate surprising them with this year, since I know they read my blog and look for clues about how I will prank them on April Fools, I am very excited to share how I punked them last year.

We were in the midst of a kitchen remodel and all of our dining, homework, home entertainment was relocated into one common area which was our living room. Given the situation I had them convinced that without an oven and other cooking tools they should be on high alert for the April Fools Day 2013 – post remodel. The ruse was set, they hadn’t a clue. I went about making sure they were all out with friends and then I used the few cooking tools I had and made my epic BBQ Meatball Sub Sandwich.

And once you’ve pranked your brood you may want to share some stories about other famous pranks. We always like to discuss these over dinner.

* 1957: Hoax BBC Panorama reveals spaghetti harvest in Switzerland

* 1976: Patrick Moore tells Radio 2 listeners that at 0947 a planetary event would lessen Earth’s gravity and if people jumped in the air at that moment, they would float

* 1986: Le Parisien newspaper announces that the Eiffel Tower is to be moved to Euro Disney

* 1998: Burger King launches left-handed Whopper

If you are looking for other fun April Foolin’ Food Ideas see a few of my past posts:

Dessert Sushi & Eye Ball Surprise

Crispy Fish Sticks, Sweet Veggies, Raspberry Coolers and Hearty Cup Cakes

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BBQ Meatball Sub Sandwich

Ingredients

4 cups oatmeal

½ cup peanut butter

½ cup butter

4 TBS cocoa powder

1 tsp vanilla

½ cup milk

1 ½ cup sugar

1 pound cake loaf, sliced horizontally

strawberry preserves

1/8 cup white chocolate, grated

butter cream frosting, home made or purchased

yellow food dye

mustard (optional prop)

ketchup (optional prop)

french fries (optional prop)

Directions

Line a cookie sheet with wax paper.

In a large pan, over medium heat, mix the butter, milk, sugar, and cocoa powder together until the mixture comes to a boil. Once the mixture is boiling, allow it too cook for another 1-2 minutes—stirring continuously.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in peanut butter and oats. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto wax paper. Allow these no-bake cookies to cool and set for 5-10 minutes. If the mixture is too warm then the shape you are molding the cookies will not hold. Once the cookies have cooled, use your hands to shape them into balls. Reshape them as necessary.

Place once piece of the sliced cake on the bottom of a plate (see image) and pace 2-3 ‘meatballs’ inside. Spoon the strawberry jam, thinned out with a little water or fruit juice, over the “meatballs” to look like BBQ sauce. (If you have access to strawberry ice cream topping this also works well.)

Add a small amount of yellow dye into 1/2 cup of the butter cream frosting. Combine well, adding additional yellow as needed until it is the desired color. Place into a plastic bag, twisting at the top to avoid any frosting from spilling out while decorating the sandwiches. Cut 1/8’inch hole at the bottom of one corner of the bag and squeeze out ‘mustard’ onto the meatballs. Grate about 1/8 of a cup of white chocolate with a cheese shredder and sprinkle the shredded white chocolate “cheese” over the “meatballs.” Prop the second piece of bread on the top of the meatballs for full effect. To really confuse your victims I recommend putting catchup and mustard on the table and preparing some french fries to go with the BBQ meatball sub sandwich.

Depending on the size of the “meatballs” you will have between 6-8 sandwiches. Meatballs can be made up to three days in advance and stored in an air tight container. If possible, keep cool without refrigerating.

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Humido Cocktail – A Perfect Blend of Hum & Rum

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It’s difficult to imagine that as a native Californian I have NEVER been to Yosemite….until this past weekend. I think it is safe to say that I was enamored with everything I saw. A truly spectacular location that was made all the more memorable when shared with family and good friends.

We stayed at the Evergreen Lodge which was about 40 minutes outside of the park. The accommodations were adorable rustic private cabins. The restaurant and tavern on the property served wonderfully fresh and progressive California cuisine. I was further excited to discover what I think will be deemed my birthday drink from here on forward. >drum roll please< I am happy to share with you the soon to be famous Humido! Its inventor, Douglas Salles, the beverage service manager for the Evergreen Lodge. This drink is brilliant- fresh, rich in spices and not too sweet.

What’s so great about the ingredients in this drink? It’s the rum and the Hum. What is Hum? Hum is a liquor inspired by the French Caribbean and modeled after the great Amaros of Italy. It is made by infusing a pot still rhum (a type of rum made from distilled sugar cane juice) with fair trade hibiscus, ginger root, cardamom and kaffir lime to create the beautifully balanced American Botanical Spirit called HUM. Hum is technically a “liqueur,” however, it cannot be compared to traditional liqueurs at a bold 70 proof.

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Humido Cocktail

Ingredients

3 blackberries, 5 blueberries and 2 large wedges of limes

1 1/2 oz of Hum

1/2 oz of Rum (or Vodka)

1 tsp agave nectar

ginger beer

Garnish: 2 blackberries, 1 slight wedge of lime

Directions

In a bucket glass with some ice muddle the blackberries, blueberries and with limes. Pour into a cocktail shaker and add agave nectar, Hum and rum. Shake well and strain back into a bucket glass filled with ice. Top it off with ginger beer. Garnish with blackberries and lime.

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Cute Bar Bling:

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Tuscan Avocado-melee Sandwich

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If the name doesn’t intrigue you then you must not LOVE avocados. While I’ve never really fancied myself an artist, I do have artistic foodie tendencies. And well, artists go through phases. Right now I am in my avocado phase. (There, I said it- that is half the battle – as I torture my family and willing guests into testing my creations). There are a lot of ways that you can customize this hearty and healthy vegetarian dish and I encourage you to have fun with it.

Tuscan Avocado-melee Sandwich

Ingredients

3 small avocados, sliced in half and pits set aside

1 15 oz can canellini beans, drained

1 carrot, chopped

1/2 cup whole pistachios, rough chopped

1/2 cup spinach, sliced

1 TBS sunflower seeds

favorite bread, toasted

Italian flat leaf parsley (optional garnish)

Seasonings

1 TBS balsamic vinegar

2 tsps cayenne

1 TBS garlic salt

4 tsps horseradish

1 tsp white wine vinegar

1 small lemon, juiced

pepper to taste

Directions

In a medium size bowl, remove avocados from their skin and mash. In a small bowl mash canellini beans, then add into the bowl with the avocado along with all remaining ingredients. Next add in the seasonings and combine well. If not serving immediately, place the avocado pits back into the bowl with the avocado filling, cover and refrigerate for up to 2 hours. Before serving remove pits and stir mixture. Serve avocado sandwich filling on one slice of toasted bread.

Notes: While it is certainly possible to use a fork and knife on this sandwich I highly recommend consuming it as finger food. If made on smaller toasts Tuscan Avocado-melee can be wonderful appetizer.

This sandwich was served along with my petite lentil salad.

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Roasted Lamb Cottage Pie

For a while I was fortunate enough to live in New Zealand on two separate occasions. As a destination it is everything you would imagine it to be – beautiful countryside and topography (black sand beaches, lush green ferns, sea scapes galore), wonderful people, amazing food and the list of accolades could go on for pages. There are so many things that I think back on fondly from my time spent there, it seems impossible for me to forget how special of a place it remains in my heart. Amongst the foodie things I vividly remember were the oh-so-delicious savory pies. New Zealand’s meat pies were a weekly favorite (along with flat white’s – Google it!). While this recipe isn’t quite the pastry laden meat pie variety I was referring to, it is very reminiscent of days gone by. Cottage Pie is a wonderful way to use up holiday left overs, or if you are like me, setting your sights on this dish is a great excuse to cook lamb.

Roasted Lamb Cottage Pie

Pot Roasted Lamb Ingredients

2 TBS olive oil

3 1/2 lbs boneless shoulder of lamb

salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 medium onions, peeled, cut into quarters

2 garlic cloves, peeled, finely chopped

4 sprigs fresh rosemary

14 oz red wine

14 oz beef stock

1 TBS butter

1 TBS flour

Vegetable Topping Ingredients

1 TBS olive oil

3 large carrots, chopped

6 stalks celery, chopped

2 large yellow onions, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

Mashed Potato Topping Ingredients

1 lb Russet potatoes,peeled, cut into equal-sized pieces

3½oz milk

2 TBS butter

paprika

salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a large Dutch oven (or oven proof pot), heat the olive oil over a medium heat. Season the lamb with salt and pepper to taste. Add the lamb to the pot and cook turning regularly, until evenly browned. Remove lamb from pot and set aside.

Add the onions and fry for 5-8 minutes, or until golden-brown. Then add the garlic and rosemary sprigs, stirring until combined. Lastly return the lamb to the pot and add the red wine and stock.

Place the pot in the oven and cook, uncovered, for 2 hours, or until the lamb is tender and the top is crisp.

While lamb is cooking begin preparing the vegetable layer. In a large pan add the olive oil and saute the onions for 5 minutes on medium heat, stirring regularly. Add the carrots and continue cooking another 10 minutes and lastly add the celery. Cook an additional 5 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Remove the lamb and onions from the cooking juices and set aside (keep warm). Strain the cooking juices into a saucepan and heat over a low to medium heat.

In a small bowl, mix together the flour and butter until well combined. Whisk well and then add it into the strained pan juices. Continue to whisk until the mixture forms a thick gravy. Set aside.

Cut the meat into large pieces and place lamb the bottom of a large baking dish.

Next add a layer of the cooked vegetables.

Boil the potatoes in a pot of salted water for 12-15 minutes, or until tender. Drain well, then return the potatoes to the same pot and mash the potatoes until smooth.

In a small pot, warm the milk over a low heat, then add the milk and the butter to the mashed potatoes and mash again until smooth. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Spoon the mashed potatoes over the lamb and vegetable filling. Sprinkle with paprika for color. Bake at 325 degrees until hot and golden brown on top.

Warm gravy and serve on the side.