Sunday, May 29, 2011

Recipe: Sangranita!

Though it may not feel like it just yet, this weekend marks the unofficial start of summer.  Despite the cooler temps in many places, folks are busting out the barbeques, lawn chairs and slip & slides, enjoying the long Memorial Day weekend and getting into the swing of all things summer.

In honor of this lazy three-day weekend of cookouts and potlucks, parades and local festivals, I decided to make a dessert that's not only perfect for the start of the season, but all summer long: Sangranita.  Yep, that's a granita made from sangria, and it is the best "adult" dessert I've made to date.

Part dessert, part cocktail, this spiked frozen confection is a fabulous multitasker, as it allows you to enjoy tasty spirits while cooling off at the same time.  Since the focus is not on the vintage or subtle nuances of the wine itself, it's a great way to stay on budget, allowing you the freedom to use a less expensive wine than what you may normally buy to drink on its own.

Making Sangranita is also a good way to use many of the fabulous fruits that are in season right now.  From nectarines to cherries, you can use almost any of your favorite fruits to add the same sort of texture & color that you'd find in the beverage version of sangria.  (And on those balmy summer nights after days so hot that things just don't cool down fast enough, you'll end up with that tasty beverage version anyway, which is always a welcome treat.)

Just a quick note of common sense & caution: please do not serve this around minors.  Though it's icy and fruity and pretty, this is definitely a dessert meant only for adults, so please exercise good judgment when serving.  This one's best saved for cocktail parties or dinners when children are not present.  Not a drinker or can't leave the kids with grandma?  Make a non-alcoholic version with cranberry or pomegranate juice; just be sure to lower the amount of sugar in the recipe.

Other than that, this is easy to prepare, refreshingly delicious and one of the very few desserts with a kick!  Let's check out the recipe.  

Sangranita! (makes 6-8 servings; total cost per serving $1)

1 bottle red wine
1 1/2 c water
1/2 c raw sugar
1 c chopped fruit (apples, peaches, oranges, etc.)

6 4-6 oz. glasses (juice, wine, etc.)

In a small saucepan combine the water & sugar and bring to a low boil.  Simmer for about 2-3 minutes, until the sugar has completely dissolved.  Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

Combine the wine and simple syrup in a large bowl and mix well.  Carefully pour the wine mixture into a large metal baking pan or cookie sheet and place in the freezer. Check the mixture after about 45 minutes and gently scrape the icy bits around the edges toward the center of the pan.  Return to the freezer and freeze for another 30 minutes.  Repeat this process until the granita has formed into icy, flaky crystals, usually about 2 hours (depending on freezer settings).

To serve, spoon a generous amount of granita into the bottom of each glass.  Add a couple spoonfuls of the chopped fruit, then top with another layer of granita.  Garnish with extra fruit, serve with a spoon & a straw (just in case!), and enjoy!

Granita can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Meatless Memorial Day Recipe Round-up!

It's common PGEW knowledge that I'm an omnivore, and a very happy one at that.  I'm just as content indulging in a steaming bowl of mushroom & potato soup as I am with a tender, juicy steak.  And while a small steak will probably make it onto my tiny grill this Memorial Day weekend, I'm also going to enjoy some hearty quinoa salads and plenty of fresh veggies from the farmer's market.

That got me thinking: with all the fantastic menu ideas floating around the web right now, how is it that almost all of them are focusing on meat?  Have we forgotten the exquisite flavor of fresh zucchini hot off the grill and drizzled with a bit of olive oil?  What about all of the incredible salads and sides that feature the best of this season's produce? 

So for my non-meat-eating friends and those who are just looking for something different to bring to the table this holiday weekend, here are some great meatless and/or vegetarian options that would be great for cookouts, potlucks, or whatever get-togethers you may be attending.  And don't worry, I didn't forget dessert this time!  Scroll down to the end to find all the sweet treats you could possibly want. 

Sides, Salads & Sandwiches
Title links to recipe

Title links to recipe...

New recipes coming this weekend!  Have a wonderful, safe holiday, everyone!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

BlogHer Food '11, Part I: Greetings from Atlanta!

Well, I made it, folks!  After a long night/morning of traveling, I am finally in Atlanta, waiting with eager anticipation for BlogHer Food to officially begin tomorrow.  But the fun starts tonight!  Volunteer meetings, exclusive blogger party at Hard Rock with some of my favorite food blogging friends... it should be fun, and hopefully I'll get some good shots to share with you.

Education Pavilion (aka the Carnegie Monument). This is all that's left from the original Carnegie Library
Upon arriving, I took an unexpected tour of Atlanta on their light rail system (very nice, btw.  Reminds me a little bit of BART in SF), found out exactly where to go should I have enough time to visit the Margaret Mitchell house & museum (Gone With the Wind is my favorite movie, so I'll totally geek out like crazy if I go), and took a short walk around downtown to kill some time while a room opened up for me.

On my walk I ran into several friendly downtown guides, one of which agreed with the concierge's recommendation to give Corner Bakery Café a try for breakfast.  Not wanting to have some large carb-ridden breakfast after my trail mix dinner (why didn't I pack a sandwich?), I was a little skeptical about going there, but I'm glad I took their advice.  It was just the place I needed: bright, bustling with morning diners & commuters, and filled with plenty of great-smelling food.

Breakfast is served! Baked French Toast & Eggs with Homemade Chicken Apple Sausage
Bleary-eyed and exhausted, I quickly skimmed their breakfast options, but only one screamed out at me: Baked French Toast & Eggs.  For only $6?  Yes, please!  Served with a choice of bacon or homemade chicken-apple sausage, I opted for the latter, got my drink and found a free table.

Within minutes I was presented with two thick slices of baked French toast, eggs, and two thick sausages.  And it was all good!  The French toast was moist, lightly swirled with cinnamon, and not overly sweet; the eggs were light, fluffy and well-seasoned with plenty of black pepper; but the sausage - now that was the best part!  Tender, juicy, meaty and lightly sweetened by the apples, I felt the chicken-apple sausage was even better than the French toast.
About the only thing I felt was lacking was decent syrup: the one they served was thin, runny and had no real maple flavor.  Other than that, it was a very satisfying breakfast for a very sweet price, and made me feel much better after having had such an inadequate dinner the night before.

After breakfast I walked a bit more, went back to the hotel, happily found out that my room was ready, and eventually fell into a two-hour coma on my bed.  I'm not 100% rested but I feel much more refreshed and ready to take on tonight's meals & festivities!

Be sure to stay tuned here, on Facebook and on Twitter for all the BlogHer Food coverage you could possibly want.  Catch you later!

:) Kimberly

Monday, May 16, 2011

Recipe: Red Quinoa & Spring Herb Tabbouleh

Before I continue with my Mother's Day menu recipe recap, I wanted to share with you this little gem of a dish I threw together over the weekend.  Since I was spending most of my time running around like a chicken with its head cut off, packing & prepping for BlogHer Food, I wanted to have something quick, tasty & filling on hand for the occasional break.  The following dish was the result.

Though it was unseasonably cold & rainy, I clung steadfastly to the idea that it was, in fact, still spring, and refrained from making soup all weekend (I did succumb after the hail storm and made this and this; they were ever-so-tasty).  Instead, I put on a pot of red quinoa and went on the hunt for some veggies to mix into it.  What I found in my fridge was even better than plain ol' veggies: the last few bunches of spring herbs from the farmer's market and plenty of lemons.  Without hesitation, I set about to make a sort of unofficial tabbouleh.

Traditionally prepared with bulgur, tabbouleh (or tabouli, as it's sometimes referred to) is one of those fabulous dishes that manages to scream "SUMMER!!!" with its vibrant colors and fresh, crisp flavors.  There's nothing as refreshing as the combo of fresh parsley & mint along with juicy tomatoes and plenty of lemon juice & olive oil.  But if you find yourself lacking some of those key ingredients, don't fret; tabbouleh is a versatile little salad and lends itself to a few variations.

Since I didn't have bulgur - and because I like to sneak a little protein into my salads somehow - quinoa made a wonderful substitute as the base for my tabbouleh.  I also didn't have the requisite mint that comes in the traditional dish, but I found that the combination of the remaining bunches of parsley, cilantro and a few chives gave this version a different, but equally crisp flavor that is enhanced by the simple dressing of lemon juice & olive oil.

Other than that, there's not much to this one!  It's quick, healthy, versatile and extremely affordable.  It's perfect for Meatless Mondays or works great as a side to some grilled or roasted meats.  Let's check out the recipe! 

Red Quinoa & Spring Herb Tabbouleh (makes 4 servings; total cost per serving: $1.25)

1 1/2 c cooked red quinoa
2 T chopped white or red onion
2 T chopped scallions
2 small tomatoes, finely chopped
2 T chopped flat leaf parsley
2 T chopped cilantro
1/3 c freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste
Crumbled feta (optional for garnish)

Combine the lemon juice, olive oil, salt & pepper in a small bowl and whisk until well-combined.  Set aside.

In a larger bowl, combine the quinoa, onions and herbs.  Add about half the dressing and toss everything together.  Check for flavor and adjust accordingly by adding more dressing.  Serve as a main salad on a bed of greens, or as a side for grilled meats or kabobs, and enjoy!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Newsworthy: PGEW takes Mark S. Allen to some of her favorite restaurants

So yesterday I had the awesome opportunity to hang out with Mark S. Allen (of Mark @ The Movies, Short Attention Span Theater and Scratch fame, among a zillion other things) for a live spot on his current show, Good Day Sacramento.  His mission?  To find out where Poor Girl goes to eat well when she can actually afford to dine somewhere other than her humble abode.  My mission?  To narrow the field down to just three restaurants.  Methinks Mark had the easier task!

~ Roasted Red Duck Curry from Boon Boon Cafe, the Good Day Sacramento edition ~
(Pardon the funky phone photo...)

I chose restaurants that get my repeated business for a number of reasons: quality of food, quality of service, and overall value.  As much as I enjoy low prices, I am also a fan of great value, so if I have to pay a wee bit extra for something fabulous and I can actually afford to do so, I will.

But I also wanted to keep things interesting, so I made sure we got to sample different cuisines.  On our menu for that morning: Thai food from Boon Boon Cafe, homestyle Mexican eats from Pancho's Cocina Mexicana, and some fabulous Italian style pizza with plenty of California flair from Hot Italian

Except for Hot Italian, Mark hadn't been to the places I'd chosen, so I was interested to see what he thought about my recommendations.  I'm happy to report that so far, I'm 3 for 3.  He loved everything!  Here are links to the clips from yesterday's show*:
* I was hoping to feature the actual videos on here, but the embedded player thingie wouldn't work. :(

As you can see, we had an absolute blast sampling such fantastic foods from these local restaurants (and I have to admit, I felt very comfortable with that microphone in my hand. I wonder if Mark's up for a vacation soon so I can fill in..... J)!  Mark is beyond fun to work with, and all of the restaurant proprietors & staff were incredibly gracious. 

Thanks again to Boon Boon Cafe, Pancho's Cocina Mexicana and Hot Italian for opening their doors to us so early and letting us take over their restaurants for awhile!  And a zillion thanks to Mark S. Allen and everyone at Good Day Sacramento for having me on the show.  Hopefully we can do this again soon, because I still have plenty of fabulous restaurants to share with everyone.  And who knows?  Maybe I can cook something for the folks in the studio sometime, so they can see how tasty things are over at Chez Poor Girl.  ;)

Restaurant Locations:

Recipe: Homemade Vanilla-Citrus Ice Cream (No maker required!)

This recipe has been reposted due to the technical issues Blogger had this week.

Last Mother's Day weekend was the first time my mom had come to visit in months, so we had a TON of catching up to do: home improvement, spending QT with the furbabies (all three of which are living with me now... talk about a full house!) and, of course, plenty of girl talk. 

But two days end up going by far too quickly, and just like that, mom had to head back to the Bay.  However, because this was a special occasion and I very rarely get the chance to cook for her, I wasn't about to let her leave without preparing a tremendous Mother's Day feast...

Amuse Bouche
Shrimp in White Chocolate Hollandaise Sauce
Jeweled Beet Salad with Chevre and Minneola-Rosemary Vinaigrette
Chicken Crepes Cordon Bleu with Sauteed Mushrooms
Homemade Vanilla-Citrus Ice Cream with Fresh Strawberries

Needless to say, the lady was quite overwhelmed!  I designed the menu to feature many of her favorite foods prepared differently than what she's used to, so of course, everything was her "favorite".  It made my heart swell with pride to see her enjoy her meal so much while she doled out compliment after compliment.  And compliments from my mom aren't that easy to come by!

Getting back to the task at hand, I'm doing the menu recap backwards by starting with dessert because A) I haven't posted a dessert in awhile, and B) I am still beaming with pride at the fact that I, Kimberly A. Morales, made ice cream.  All by myself.  Without a machine, even.

Poor Girl just can't justify the cost of an ice cream machine right now.

Anyway, I had heard legends of ice cream being made sans machines, but every time I researched the topic it turned out these people were going back to ice cream's roots and using wooden buckets with lots of salt and plenty of churning.  I can wax nostalgic as well as the rest of them, but returning to Little House on the Prairie wasn't exactly what I was aiming to do on such a short weekend.

So I thought about the granita I am so fond of making and figured if the process works for a water/juice-based dessert, it had to work with something creamy.  With the logistics figured out, all I needed was a good, basic ice cream recipe I could adapt to the ideas I had.  After a bit of Googling, I found the perfect recipe (and the validation I needed about my no-machine-ice-cream-must-be-like-making granita idea) from the frozen confection guru himself: David Lebovitz.

Since I didn't have access to affordable vanilla beans, I used the vanilla extract I had in my cupboards.  Not the same at all, but hey... that's what Poor Girl does.  One makes due with what one has and makes it fabulous.  Back at the ice cream parlor, since I had a bit of a citrus theme weaving through different parts of the menu, I decided to add a bit of grated minneola zest to my ice cream.  It gave the ice cream a nice dash flavor, texture and color.  If you don't have access to minneolas, don't fret - Meyer lemon, mandarin or key lime zest would be great substitutes if you can't find minneolas.

In terms of cost, some of you might be thinking four bucks is not exactly a "deal", especially compared to some of my other desserts.  But sometimes I want ice cream and I don't have the $3-4 to buy a pint at the store.  In the meantime, things like milk, eggs and sugar are probably going to be in my kitchen anyway, so if I do have them, I can just make the ice cream.

Who knew all it took was just a bit of patience and minimal upper body workout to enjoy some fantastic homemade ice cream?

Homemade Vanilla-Citrus Ice Cream (makes 1.5 pints; total cost of recipe: ~ $4)
Loosely adapted from David Lebovitz's Vanilla Ice Cream recipe

8 large egg yolks
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1 c milk (I used 1%, but the higher the fat content, the creamier the ice cream)
3/4 c sugar
1 T vanilla extract
2 T citrus zest (orange, mandarin, lime, lemon, etc)

Prepare an ice water bath in a large bowl and set aside in the sink.  In a separate large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla extract until smooth.  Heat the cream & milk in a saucepan, taking care not to let the mixture boil.  Slowly pour the heated cream into the egg mixture, whisking vigorously to prevent the yolk from clumping.

Return the custard mixture to the saucepan.  Cook over medium low heat for at least ten minutes, stirring constantly.  The custard is ready when it coats the back of a wooden spoon.  Remove from heat and pour into a bowl, then place the bowl into the ice bath.  Allow to cool for about 5 minutes.

When the custard has cooled a bit, add the citrus zest and stir until combined.  Pour the mixture into a deep pan and place in the freezer.  After about 45 minutes, check the custard and, using a spatula or spoon, stir the frozen bits into the rest of the mix until smooth.  Return to freezer and repeat this process every 30 minutes for about 2 hours, making sure that the mixture is smooth each time before putting it back to freeze. Store in an airtight container until ready to eat.

Spoon a couple scoops of ice cream into small bowls or dishes, garnish with fresh strawberries and enjoy!

Thanks for your patience during the Great Blogger Crisis of '11!

Hey there, PGEW readers!

Just a quick note to say hello and all is right in the world once again, now that Blogger is back up & running (semi)properly.  As many of you know, either from visiting PGEW readers or working on your own blogs, Blogger ran into some serious technical issues after a routine maintenance update done this week.  As a result, not only were we unable to blog, but some posts actually went missing. 

According to Blogger, in order to get things back up, they had to remove all the posts that were added after a certain time on May 11th, which means that my lovely little Homemade Vanilla-Citrus Ice Cream recipe went completly MIA!  No worries, though.  It was one of those rare posts that I actually had backed up somewhere, so I will be able to post it momentarily.

Anyway, I'm glad things are back to normal because I have some fun posts to share with you this weekend!  For now, I'm just happy that almost 3 years of work was not lost.  I have definitely learned my lesson and will be backing up my work from now on, on the off-chance this happens again (which it never has in all my years of using Blogger).  Like many Blogger users, I'm happy with this platform & its stability in general, so this was definitely a fluke!  Hopefully, it won't be a recurring one.

Thanks again for your patience, and stay tuned for the ice cream recipe coming up in 5, 4, 3, 2......

Monday, May 9, 2011

Recipe: Morels & Spring Vegetables in Fillo "Flower Pots"

Voting for this contest is now open! Please click here to vote for me to be the 2011 Morel Champion. Thanks in advance! ~ Kimberly

And now for something a little different.

One of the many perks of being a food blogger is being invited to participate in all sorts of fun events, particularly recipe contests.  Recently, I learned that the fine folks at Marx Foods were looking for fifteen adventurous food bloggers to be part of their annual Morel Recipe Challenge, a great contest in which each blogger is required to make an original morel hors d'oeuvre for the chance to win two pounds of these incredible mushrooms.

Two whole pounds of morels?  I simply had to throw my hat into the ring in the hopes that I'd be lucky enough to play along.

Sure enough, yours truly was selected to be a part of this contest!  Within a few days of getting that happy news, I received my generous sample packet of dried morels.  And almost immediately, my inner canapé maker got to work.

Though this was the first time that I would be cooking with morels, I've always been a huge fan of these unique looking mushrooms.  Their distinct flavor & texture make them extremely versatile, making morels easy to use in anything from sauces to rice dishes and beyond.  As I've only been accustomed to enjoying these tree-shaped, honeycomb-patterned funghi in entrées, I was definitely looking forward to the challenge of creating an appetizer with them instead.  

The possibilities were endless, of course.  Stuffed, sautéed, over crisp crostini, inside flaky tart shells, as part of a small salad - this extremely versatile mushroom lends itself to almost any recipe.  After a lot of brainstorming, I decided to keep things simple and let my treasure trove of morels work together with fresh veggies from the farmer's market to create an elegant hors d'oeuvre that celebrates the flavors of spring.

The beauty of this recipe - besides how great it tastes, of course - is its simplicity.  Though it looks like it required hours of intense kitchen labor and food styling, it actually requires very little effort. The ingredients are few: morels, fresh asparagus, herbs, goat cheese, some tiny homemade fillo dough cups; nothing too exotic or difficult to prepare.  The seasoning was also kept to a minimum in order to let the flavors of each vegetable shine through, with the goat cheese adding a very subtle but distinctive creamy tang that rounded off the whole experience.  About the only difficult thing required is patience & delicate handling of the fillo dough.

Where I did decide to go a little wild was in its presentation.  Like my favorite college professor used to say, "Presentation is everything," and nowhere is that more true than when it comes to making hors d'oeuvres.  They're the very first thing served at any dinner or party, and can set the tone for what else is to come in that particular meal.  And as long as its presented in a lovely, unique manner, even plain ol' cheese & crackers can  appear avant garde.

So I took my springtime theme and let that guide me.  The bright green of the asparagus looked beautiful against the dark, earthy tones of the sautéed morels, reminding me of the first green seedlings in my small urban garden.  With some patience, I carefully arranged squares of thin fillo dough into a star-shaped pattern inside mini-muffin cups.  As I did so, I realized how much they reminded me of little flower pots, and my idea took an even clearer shape.  

Twenty minutes later, I had my tray of tiny masterpieces.  Earthy, meaty morels, brightly colored asparagus and ribbons of creamy white goat cheese were garnished with fresh herbs to resemble tiny springtime seedlings in delicate, golden fillo "flower pots".  It's a unique and elegant presentation for a very simple appetizer and sure to dress up any dinner or buffet table.  Let's check out the recipe!

Note: Since this was made for a recipe contest & it's not something I would normally be able to make, I had originally left out the price breakdown.  However, some folks want to know how they can make this without spending an arm and a leg on such expensive funghi.  If you can and they're available in your area, try foraging for morels.  We're deep into morel season right now, so they're supposedly quite easy to find (especially near elm trees, from what I understand).  It requires some effort, but you'll have fresh, free morels to enjoy to your heart's content.  A quick Google search for where to find morels in your area should yield some good results for mushroom hunting clubs, etc.

If foraging isn't for you, you can substitute a dried wild mushroom mix or even a mixture of more conventional fresh mushrooms for the morels.  They won't have that distinctive morel flavor, but they will work wonderfully in this recipe and still be quite delicious.  ~Kimberly
Morels & Spring Vegetables in Fillo "Flower Pots" (makes 12-18 appetizers; total cost of recipe: $8)

6 oz. dried morels
6 large asparagus spears
1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 T finely chopped chives
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 t herbes de provence
Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 T red wine
2 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
4 sheets of fillo dough
2 T melted butter
1 scallion (for garnish)

Preheat the oven to 350°.  Grease a mini muffin tin with a thin layer of cooking spray and set aside.Reconstitute the dried morels according to package instructions (be sure to save the water to use as a base for soup stocks).  When they are ready to work with, drain, pat dry, and chop finely.  Rinse the asparagus and cut off the woody ends at the bottom.  Gently and on a bias, chop the asparagus into 1/4" pieces.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil.  Once the oil is ready, add the garlic and sautee for 30 seconds, until just fragrant.  Add the chopped onion, salt, pepper and herbes de provence, and cook for another minute or two, until the onion starts to become translucent. 

Next, add the asparagus.  Cook for 2-3 minutes, then add the morels.  Sautee the vegetables together for another couple minutes then add the wine.  Cook for one more minute, remove from heat and stir in the chopped chives.  Set aside.

Working very carefully, take a sheet of fillo dough and brush with melted butter.  Cut it into 6 large squares.  Take one square and gently place it inside one of the muffin cups, allowing the top edges to flare out.  Take another square and place it on top of the first in a criss-cross pattern.  Repeat this process until all of the muffin cups are lined with fillo, each cup holding about 3 squares.

Add about half the goat cheese crumbles into the morel & vegetable mixture and mix until well-combined.  Using a regular teaspoon, take a small amount of morel filling and place inside each fillo cup until the entire tray is filled.  Bake for 8-10 minutes until the fillo shells are a light golden brown.  

Remove from heat and allow to cool for about 5 minutes before carefully removing them from the muffin tin (if you need to, use a couple of toothpicks to help coax them out without breaking them).  Cut thin slices of scallion into 1-inch "stalks" and place in the center of each fillo flower pot.  These will be your "seedlings".  Crumble a few extra bits of goat cheese on top, sprinkle with a bit more black pepper, and enjoy!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Mother's Day Menu Ideas

With Mother's Day right around the corner, many of you are probably joining me in harried preparations for making Mom's special day a memorable one.  Some are picking the right floral bouquets, while others are rushing about making last minute brunch reservations.  I know I'm starting to panic.  My cute little mom is scheduled to arrive this evening, and I'm still putting the finishing touches on the special menu I have planned for Mother's Day dinner, which is my big gift to her this year.

See, even though things are slowly getting better for me, this perpetual game of financial catch-up makes things like fantastic day trips or cool new gifts impossible to get.  So to get around that, I will cook.  I know she'll appreciate the meal, and she's the type that prefers the personal touch of doing something special vs. getting a gift. 

If you're in a similar financial bind - or if that nice restaurant you were planning to take Mom to is all booked for brunch or dinner - why not consider making a nice meal for her instead?  Here are some ideas (including dishes from last year's Mother's Day brunch menu) to help make Mom's day truly special.  Just like with my Easter menu ideas, just mix & match and voila!  Instant meal.  :)  

(Title links to recipe)

Dinner (entrees, appetizers, sides, etc.)...
(Title links to recipe)

Stay tuned for the recap of the special dinner I'll be making for my mom this Mother's Day!  Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Photo Makeover: Sweet & Fruity White Wine Sangria

It's Cinco de Mayo!  This is one of those holidays that has always made me giggle a little, simply because a lot of folks in the U.S. have no clue what they're celebrating.  Many people think that it has something to do with Mexican independence day (which is actually in September), while others have no clue what's being celebrated and are just happy that there's another excuse to go out drinking. 

The cool thing is that everyone that does celebrate usually does so with some pretty amazing food & drinks.  From tacos to nachos, Dos Equis to Pacifico, most folks are going to do some serious grubbing tonight. 

Since I haven't posted a drink recipe in awhile - and because I ate my latest fish taco recipe last night before photographing it (oh, the trials & tribulations of a food blogger! The tacos were really good, though...) -  I thought I'd make my Cinco de Mayo contribution by sharing the first drink recipe I ever posted: Sweet & Fruity White Wine Sangria.

There's nothing to this, really: just a simple combination of crisp white wine, sweet fruits, and a little something sparkly to tickle the nose & tastebuds whilst you're sipping away.  Looking through these older posts, I realized that the original photo wasn't as bad as some of my other old school shots, but it did need a little sprucing up.  Since I can always use the photo practice, I figured it was important to make a pitcher of this fabulous little drink.

That, and I needed something cool & refreshing to wash down those delicious fish tacos...  ;)

Original post & full recipe available here.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

What's In Store for May

Oh, hello month of May.  When did you sneak up on me?

I know I say this every single month but for crying out loud, could this year be going by any faster?  My mom's birthday was just yesterday (in my mind) and I was supposed to have oodles of time between that blessed event and Mother's Day!  I had a video to record & post, kumquats to experiment with, and about four more photo makeovers to get to... *faints*

These are the times I truly feel like I could use an assistant.  One who wouldn't mind getting paid in dessert shots, of course.

I'm trying to take it all in stride & not be too hard on myself, though.  Ever since I was diagnosed with this irksome nerve issue I've had to rearrange my life to make room for the pain, so it's a bit of an adjustment.  But I've found some treatments that are helping me feel a bit more like myself again (hooray!), so with their help I should be able to get to stuff I've meant to get to for weeks.

Here's some of what's on the agenda for this month:
  • The video: Yes, I still have a recipe on hold, just waiting to be captured and posted on this fair little blog!  Stay tuned for a brand new video recipe in the first half of the month.
  • BlogHer Food '11!  I've mentioned this a lot on Facebook, but I'm not so sure I mentioned it here.  I was lucky enough to score a volunteer spot at this amazing food blogger conference in Atlanta, which means I get to go for free!  In addition to the great sessions they have in store for us, I'm excited to see old friends from last year's IFBC, not to mention making new ones at BHF!  I'll probably be tweeting up a storm, too (something I never do), so if you don't follow me on Twitter, now's your chance.  My entertainment quotient goes up exponentially whenever I'm at a blogging conference! ;)
  • Cinco de Mayo is tomorrow, and though I'd considered making a new dish to mark the occasion, I decided to do a photo makeover of a related oldie but goodie instead.  But if you're still looking for ideas, I have plenty of tacos, burritos and other Mexican-inspired dishes on the site, so feel free to browse through them 'til you find something you like.
  • Mother's Day is this weekend (!!!) and though I didn't think I could outdo last year's sensational brunch menu for my mama, I'm quite pleased with what I have in store for her.  Stay tuned for a recap of the incredible meal I have planned for my favorite lady, including two new recipes!
  • Warm weather is FINALLY here (thank goodness), and with that come lighter recipes.  Look for lighter dishes that will make the most of whatever seasonal fruits & veggies I come by at my favorite farmer's market.  Cherries, anyone?
  • Last, but not least, yours truly is going to be on Good Day Sacramento with Mark S. Allen next Thursday!  We'll be checking out some great eateries here in Sac, so if you're an early bird, tune in and follow us on our little tour!
As you can see, May is going to be an absolute whirlwind of activity, so if I'm away for a few days, don't fret!  I'm always here, just taking care of business. 

In the meantime, have fun at any Cinco de Mayo parties you'll be at tomorrow, Happy Mother's Day to all you fabulous moms out there, and have a wonderful May!


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