Quick-Fix Eats and Drinks for Summertime Snacks

by in Recipes, August 9th, 2014

Grilled Avocado with Black Bean SalsaFrom lazy afternoons spent outdoors to unexpected guests who drop by for an evening get-together, summer is all about relaxed, enjoyable days, including enjoyable entertaining. The key to any successful party — for both the guest and the host — is a range of go-to eats and drinks, and that’s where snacks come in. Instead of feeling like you have to prepare a no-holds-barred feast for your company, settle on a few simple snacks instead, like those featured on this morning’s episode of The Kitchen. The co-hosts showed off their favorite fuss-free recipes for casual bites and sips ideal for relaxed entertaining. Read on below to find a few of their quick-fix ideas, then check out the rest of what they prepared.

The Grilled Avocado Stuffed with Black Bean Salsa (pictured above) is a next-level take on the classic pairing of guacamole and salsa. When you dig into the dip with a crunchy tortilla chip, scoop up a mix of the creamy avocado and juicy salsa for a combination of flavors that are better together.

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Here is a Real Convenience Store Filled Entirely With Fake Foodstuffs

by , August 9th, 2014

Convenience stores have a long and storied history of offering us beef jerky, candy and sugary pseudo-coffee. What if, however, instead of all of the foodstuffs we know and love tolerate, they were filled entirely with felt fakers? If you are near London, you’ll get a chance to see what that would be like.

A British artist named Lucy Sparrow has opened a convenience store filled with fake snacks and fake drinks, all made from felt. Don’t worry, nicotine heads, there are fake cigarettes as well. Why would anyone do this? It’s art! All told, Sparrow created over 4,000 fake items over the course of seven months.

Don’t worry. If you are stuck in a country that doesn’t count the Beatles as favorite sons, you can order some of these felt creations online. Check out the website here.

5 Epic Cakes for a Summer Birthday

by in Recipes, August 9th, 2014

5 Epic Cakes for a Summer BirthdayOur ridiculously delicious birthday cakes are perfect for celebrating. Whether you’re going all-out with Ina Garten’s three-tiered hot-pink cake or keeping it simple with a vanilla sheet cake with chocolate frosting, these desserts will elate any birthday boy or girl.

1. Birthday Cake with Hot-Pink Butter Icing
The secret ingredient for Ina Garten’s moist cake layers? The addition of sour cream. Bake a 9-inch, a 6-inch and a 3-inch layer, and frost each separately with hot-pink icing. Chill each frosted layer before stacking, then pipe or spoon the remaining frosting around the base of each cake and around the top edge of the top layer before finishing with candy decorations. This is certainly a centerpiece cake that your crowd will remember.

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Frozen Friday: Icy, Fruity, Fresh

by , August 8th, 2014

We’re in for a long, hot summer. So to stave off heat stroke, we’re bringing you our favorite summer treats each week as part of Frozen Friday, giving you the scoop on our favorite ice-cold recipes and party ideas to help you stay cool all summer long.

Frozen dessert on a stick. Isn’t it great? With one hand holding your treat, you still have an entirely separate one free. You can steer, scroll through your phone, swat away mosquitoes — the possibilities are endless. That’s why we’re tipping our hat to the ice pop, one of the all-time greatest summer treats. And, since it’s August and we’re craving something intensely refreshing, we’ve tracked down the fruitiest recipes our hands can hold.

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Sweet and Vicious — Off the Shelf

by in Books, August 8th, 2014

Sweet and Vicious CookbookLibbie Summers approaches cooking like a fun adventure, and Sweet and Vicious bursts with color, excitement and inspiration. Her mantras leap right off the page and snare your attention: Welcome the unexpected. Be fearless. Have fun. Be creative.

The book promises right in the introduction that the recipes are melt-in-your-mouth delicious, and they do not disappoint. Summers approach to baking is layering flavors together, some that you’re familiar with, and some that will delight and surprise you from the first bite to the last. Sweet and Vicious breaks the baking into chapters on cakes, sweet breads and pastries, savory breads, pies, cookies, canine goods and secret weapons. That’s right: There’s a whole section featuring treats for your furry friends (and my own pup can attest that these recipes are something special).

The section entitled Secret Weapons is the one that really stands out and brings it all together. Libbie gives you recipes for myriad extracts, the essences that take the layered flavors in her recipes to the next level. You’ll also find a handful of especially wonderful drink recipes tucked in there, along with some infused sugar recipes and a frosting guide. Secret Weapons elevates recipes like the Hot Spiced Donut Holes (below) or the Salvation Cinnamon Rolls or the Lemonhead Cake. Sweet and Vicious also contains a lot of supplemental content that you can find on Libbie’s site. You can order a copy of Sweet and Vicious here.

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52 Weeks Fresh: Prepping for Tomato Bounty

by , August 8th, 2014

There’s no such thing as having too many tomatoes, but it does pay to be prepared for the onslaught. The fruits are just beginning to ripen in East Coast gardens, so we have about two weeks to get ready for tomato mania.

Until then, take advantage of near-ripe varieties by making fried green tomatoes. Green ones appear in September and October (when there isn’t enough heat to fully ripen those still growing), so now is a great time to test and refine your techniques for the main event. A dollop of goat cheese on top with some torn fresh basil and cayenne powder will balance the tart flavor. Or keep the stove off by making a raw tomato sauce. Dice fresh tomatoes, and mix them with olive oil, finely chopped garlic and basil, along with some rosemary and sage.

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BBQ Shrimp Po’Boys — Down-Home Comfort

by in Recipes, August 8th, 2014

BBQ Shrimp Po'BoysPo’ boys are iconic in coastal cuisine, especially in southern Louisiana and along the Gulf of Mexico. They’re a New Orleans classic said to have originated in the early twentieth century, the name originating from the hungry plea, “Give a po’ boy a sandwich?” The original po’ boys were hollowed-out loaves of French bread layered with meat, brown gravy and fried potatoes. You can still get roast beef po’ boys with “debris” gravy, a flavorful jus with bits and pieces of roast beef in it.

However, with the Gulf at New Orleans’ front door, seafood has a mighty hold on Creole and Cajun cuisine.

Since time began, folks with less have harvested from the river and seas, for free. We may think of seafood as expensive now, but if you live on a body of water, dinner just might be as close as a hook or a net and a little bit of patience. Seafood po’ boys include fried oysters, fried catfish, fried soft-shell crab and, yes, fried shrimp. Don’t even think about cranking up the deep fryer or even heating up the grill, because these BBQ Shrimp Po’ Boys are poached in a highly seasoned garlic and lemon-butter sauce.

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Five Restaurant Menu Tricks (and How to Avoid Falling for Them)

by in News, August 8th, 2014

Five Restaurant Menu Tricks (and How to Avoid Falling for Them)Restaurants can be risky business ventures — just look at how frequently they come and go. So to make sure their eatery isn’t just another flash in the pan, some restaurateurs employ a few subtle tricks to get diners, once seated, to more readily part with their cash.

There’s the “free” salty snack (chips and salsa, anyone?) placed on your table before the meal to increase your thirst and compel you to order more pricey drinks. And then there’s the way your server painstakingly describes every ingredient in the evening’s specials, but declines to mention the price, knowing you may be too embarrassed to ask. And there’s the way your wine glass keeps getting topped off, so that you get to the bottom of the bottle halfway through your meal and may feel inclined to order another one.

But the stealthiest strategy of all may be the sly tweaks made to restaurant menus to get you to fork over more moolah than you may have intended. Recently The Guardian noted a few such tricks.

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This Week’s Nutrition News Feed

by , August 8th, 2014

frosting
In this week’s news: School bake-sale restrictions spark a tempest in a muffin tin; homemade yogurt is whey better than the store-bought kind; and veganism gets a high-profile new cheerleader.

Bake-Sale Ban: Half-Baked?
Ah, the beauty of the s...

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