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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What to Watch: Shop the Farmers’ Market with Bobby and Tune In to the Finale of Food Network Star

by in Shows, August 8th, 2014

What to Watch: Shop the Farmers' Market with Bobby and Tune In to the Finale of Food Network StarThis weekend on Food Network, the stars of your favorite shows are showing you how to make the most of the warm weather with barbecue specials and inventive summer snacks.

First, join Ree as she takes you through her favorite comfort-food recipes on The Pioneer Woman. After, join the hosts of The Kitchen as they prepare some warm-weather snacks for any occasion.

Then, on Sunday, Ina busts out the grill on Barefoot Contessa, showing you that summer is far from over. Bobby takes to the farmers’ market to create big flavors with fresh ingredients on Barbecue Addiction: Bobby’s Basics. Finally, tune in for three hours of competition with new episodes of Guy’s Grocery Games and Cutthroat Kitchen, and the season finale of Food Network Star.

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