fresh_Summer_apps watermelon_soaking watermelon_skewers grilled_watermelon cherries whipped-burrata crostinis Hi Guys! When it comes to hot summer days, it seems like all we want to do is lay by the pool while sipping cold, refreshing wine-tails and nibbling on quick and easy to prepare bites. Who wants to slave away in the kitchen over a hot stove all day? Not us! So, today we have a couple of easy and delicious appetizer recipes that are great to enjoy while lounging by the pool or anytime you have a snack attack.

The first dish we have is grilled watermelon and queso blanco skewers. We know that watermelon and feta cheese are usually paired together in this type of appetizer, but because we infused the watermelon cubes with the crisp flavor of Ecco Domani Pinot Grigio, we thought the more mild and creamy queso blanco (very similar to a more firm, part-skim mozzarella) was a better alternative. While you’re cooking, it’s important to only allow the skewers to “kiss” the grill on each side for about 15 to 20 seconds. This ensures that your cheese starts to get a little melty but doesn’t turn into stringy mess. You can always swap the queso blanco for a foolproof grilling cheese such as halumi.

Staying with the theme of wine soaked fruits, our second appetizer is a wine soaked cherry and whipped burrata crostini. If there were only one thing we could eat all summer, it would probably be this cherry and burrata dish. The wine infusion draws out some of the natural sweetness of the fruit and adds an unexpected but pleasant tang to the cherries. We also love the anise flavor that the tarragon adds and how it offsets a little bit of the creaminess from the whipped burrata. If you can’t get ahold of burrata, a whole milk ricotta cheese is a great alternative but you will lose some of the richness

One of our favorite things about preparing these appetizers is that the reserved fruit soaked wine is the PERFECT base for some simple and tasty wine-tails. All you need is a splash of tonic water or club soda and lots of ice, then you have yourself delicious wine-tails to sip on while you nosh on grilled watermelon and queso blanco skewers and cherry and whipped burrata crostini! Enjoy!

Grilled Watermelon and Queso Blanco Skewers
Makes 20 pieces

Ingredients:
20 (1 inch) cubes watermelon (about 2 cups)
1/2 (750ml) bottle Ecco Domani Pinot Grigio
10 ounces queso blanco (or part skim mozzarella), cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
20 small bamboo skewers

micro greens
warm honey, optional

Directions:
1. Soak skewers in water for about 30 minutes.
2. Place watermelon cubes in a nonreactive bowl and top with Ecco Domani Pinot Grigio. Allow watermelon to soak for 10 minutes.
3. Drain watermelon (chill reserved liquid, add a splash of tonic water and enjoy as a simple watermelon infused spritzer) and line on paper towels to remove excess liquid.
4. Pierce a piece of watermelon and a piece of cheese onto each skewer until all the food has been used.
5. Heat a grill or grill pan over medium-high heat and brush with a small amount of oil. Once the surface is hot add watermelon and cheese skewers, in batches, only allowing the skewers to kiss the surface for about 15 to 30 seconds before flipping (to make sure the cheese doesn’t melt too much). Quickly remove from heat and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
6. Drizzle skewers with a small amount of honey, if using, and top with micro greens. Serve.

Fresh Cherry and Whipped Burrata Crostini
Serves 8 to 10

Ingredients:
1/2 (750 ml) bottle Ecco Domani Pinot Grigio
1/2 pound bing cherries, pitted and quartered
2 sprigs tarragon
whipped burrata:
1 (6 ounce) ball burrata cheese
2 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons minced thyme
1 teaspoon minced oregano
1 teaspoon minced mint
salt and pepper to taste

1 French or sourdough baguette, thinly sliced and lightly toasted

Directions:
1. Place cherry quarters in a nonreactive bowl and top with Ecco Domani Pinot Grigio. Allow cherries to soak for 15 minutes.
2. Drain watermelon (chill reserved liquid, add a splash of tonic water and enjoy as a simple cherry infused spritzer) and line on paper towels to remove excess liquid.
3. Remove leaves from tarragon sprigs and place into a bowl. Add cherries, lightly season with salt and pepper and toss together.
4. For burrata: Place all ingredients into a food processor and process for about 1 minute until burrata is fluffy and smooth (if you don’t have a food processor, place all ingredients into a bowl and beat together with a wooden spoon until light and fluffy).
5. To assemble: Spread a small amount of whipped burrata onto each crostini and top with a scoop of the soaked cherries. Lightly season with salt and pepper and serve.

*This post was sponsored by Ecco Domani. Thank you for supporting our sponsors! It helps us keep going!*

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Fresh Summer Apps

July 24, 2014  /   /   //  5 Comments

Beer Battered Fried Shrimp and Pickles Beer Battered Fried Shrimp and Pickles Spicy Cocktail Sauce Beer Battered Fried Shrimp and Pickles recipe garlic_pickles A recipe for Beer Battered Fried Shrimp and Pickles I feel like a lot of people don’t often think about frying during the hot summer months, but that should change.

In my mind there’s nothing better than enjoying a big plate of perfectly beer battered fried shrimp and pickle chips on a picnic table at a park surrounded by open fields, a sparkling river and fragrant pine trees, with a light breeze blowing through my hair and neck, and washing it all down with an iced cold drink….and THEN following the delicious meal with a quick and refreshing tube ride down the river bank. Doesn’t that sound totally magical?? Okay, so maybe all of what I described isn’t the most realistic situation for most of us, especially when the actuality of needing to prep and fry before being able to enjoy said scenario comes into play; but take away the park, picnic table and adventurous tube ride and throw in a backyard or even simple patio to enjoy all the fried things, and you’re pretty much set. It’s all about the al fresco ¬¬dining, people!

This recipe is super simple and although it involves a little frying, it’s actually a breeze to throw together! I love fried shrimp, fried pickles and fried lemon slices so I’ve basically thrown them all into a batter and fried them up together. I love the contrast of flavors between the sweet shrimp, sour lemons and tangy pickle chips. The combination creates a nice balance within the overall dish. We’re using the Zesty Garlic Chip variety from Farmer’s Garden by Vlasic in our recipe today. I like the tangy flavor in these pickle chips and really like how crisp they stay even after frying. Just don’t skip out on the drying and dredging of the ingredients in the tapioca starch or cornstarch because this will really help maintain a super light and crisp textured beer batter around your ingredients. (Potato starch is okay too, but not recommended as it produces a heavier final product then the other two options). Without the starch the batter will become incredibly soggy very quickly and will slip right off whatever you’re trying to fry.

If you’re looking for a quick, super tasty and satisfying snack to feed loved ones or even just for yourself I recommend these simple and delicious beer battered shrimp n’ pickles! Plus, right now you can get $1 off your Farmer’s Garden by Vlasic pickles by downloading this coupon.

Fry a batch up and head outside with some cold drinks and lots of napkins! Enjoy! xx, Jenny

Beer Battered Fried Shrimp n’ Pickles
Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:
spicy cocktail sauce:
1/2 cup chili sauce
3 tablespoons sour cream (optional)
1 tablespoon Sriracha (or hot sauce of your choice)
2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
zest and juice from 1 lime

20 large shrimp peeled and deveined with tails still intact
10 Farmer’s Garden by Vlasic Zest Garlic Pickle Chips
1 lemon, thinly sliced

beer batter:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon minced tarragon
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
pinch cayenne pepper
1 (12 ounce) bottle stout (such as Guinness)
1/2 cup tapioca or cornstarch
oil for frying

Directions:
1. Preheat oil to 350˚F.
2. For spicy cocktail sauce: Place all ingredients into a mixing bowl and whisk together. Set aside until ready to use.
3. Line a large baking sheet with paper towels and top with a single layer of shrimp, pickles and lemon slices. Place a sheet of paper towel over the shrimp, pickles and lemon slices and gently press to absorb as much liquid as possible. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper.
4. For the beer batter, whisk together everything except for the beer. When ready to fry, stir in the beer until just incorporated and no dry spots remain.
5. Dip each shrimp, pickle chip and lemon slice into the cornstarch and shake off any excess. Then dip each into the beer batter, shaking off any excess (you want to make sure to have a very thin layer of batter fully encasing each dipped ingredient).
6. Carefully drop each battered ingredient into the oil, in batches (make sure not to over-crowd the pot/fryer which will make the oil temp drop, causing the food to become soggy and not crisp) and fry for 4 to 5 minutes or until golden brown. Drain onto paper towels for 30 seconds before transferring to a baking sheet, lined with a cooling rack. Season with salt and pepper. Repeat until all of the shrimp, pickle chips and lemon slices have been fried. Serve immediately with spicy cocktail sauce.


*This post was sponsored by Vlasic. Thank you for supporting our sponsors! It helps us keep going!*

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Beer Battered Fried Shrimp and Pickles

July 23, 2014  /   /   //  6 Comments

matcha_lemonade lemons matcha Lemonade_matcha I had a really long love affair with matcha years and years ago. I went to this little matcha seminar at a very fancy tea shop in LA, and learned all about it. I learned the matcha they use at Starbucks sucks (unfortunately), but that the matcha at Starbucks in Japan is quite good. I learned to buy good quality for drinking, and ok quality for baking, and how to properly prepare it. Matcha is good stuff. I made everything from cheesecake to cupcakes with matcha. Matcha is magical and I still love it so much. The thing that I really love about matcha is the caffeine. It has A LOT of caffeine in it, and so it really does make a good substitute for coffee. So during these hot spells we keep having in LA (whoever is in charge of the weather, please stop it), it is really nice to have a nice cold refreshing beverage in the fridge. This Matcha Lemonade is kind of the perfect cure to being grumpy and hot, nice and refreshing, but still a good and smooth caffeine kick. Obviously this recipe is super simple, but you can totally get crazy and add something like mint (or booze), which would be delicious. If you have never purchased matcha before, just make sure what you’re buying is actually pure matcha and that it isn’t cut with sugar and other crap. Most nice tea places will have it, and if not I suggest a Google. Happy hot summer!

Matcha Lemonade
Makes about 2 quarts

Ingredients:
1 cup hot water
2 cups pure cane sugar
2 cups fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoon matcha
3 1/2 cups ice water

Directions:
1. Pour sugar and hot water into a large mixing bowl and stir together until sugar dissolves. Stir in lemon juice and matcha.
2. Pour mixture into the well of a blender and blender until no matcha granules remain and mixture is smooth.
3. Transfer mixture into a large pitcher and stir in ice water. Allow mixture to sit for 5 minutes. Stir once again and serve.

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Matcha Lemonade

July 17, 2014  /   /   //  19 Comments

aspen If you follow us on Instagram, you may have noticed we recently took a trip to Aspen for the Food & Wine Classic. We were so excited to go with Chobani, and some new and old friends. What a trip. And when we say “what a trip” we really mean it. Things quickly went from a quick plane ride to Aspen into an all-night road trip.

We should have known because our first flight was rather dramatic. We were initially sitting together, and across the aisle were distraught children who were crying because they were not able to sit next to their mother. So Jenny swapped seats with the mother so they could be near each other. That was all good, until the mother was approaching her new seat assignment dropped to her knees, in the aisle, in tears. She was totally distraught at what we assumed was dishelved travel plans. She seemed to have it together initially, but for the duration of the flight, it was tears upon tears upon tears. So sad! We spoke a little, and I felt horrible, but also was never able to understand her level of emotion over squabbled travel plans. There must have been more to that story than what I heard. This however, would prove to be the foreshadowing for the rest of our trip. Minus all the tears.
one Our flight into Dallas was delayed and we ended up missing our connecting flight to Aspen. Since so many people were trying to get into Aspen before the Classic our options for another flight were essentially nonexistent and would put us into Aspen the next day in the evening missing a whole day of glorious food and wine. We decided to then drive from Dallas to Aspen. Yep.. from DALLAS to ASPEN. We frantically skipped over to the rental car department, rented a car and got on the road towards Aspen. Our road trip took us up through the boonies of Texas, into the corner of New Mexico and then into Colorado As we drove through Texas, day became night and we were greeted with spontaneous thunder storms in the distance coupled with random downpour. We took turns driving on and off, and dreamed about what kind of food would be enjoying once we reached our destination. We got pulled over for speeding in Texas by a nice policeman, looking mighty fine in his cowboy hat a la The Walking Dead. He asked us where we were heading. We followed up on his question with a bizarre story of missing our flight and driving from Dallas to Aspen…no suitcases with us…Teri handing over her Idaho license….me waving our Food & Wine itinerary in his face…looking tired, desperate and filthy. Totally perplexed and confused by our story he let us off with a warning. What a nice guy. We drove away feeling like things were finally starting to go our way!

We knew we had hit Colorado once we started seeing warning signs for wildlife. We saw the typical ones, for deer and elk. Then the bizarre ones for things like black bears. After a couple of hours of driving in the most darkest of darkness you can imagine, driving became exponentially more difficult.

As the light started to fade into our surroundings we were presented with the most beautiful scenery ever. Colorado is beautiful. Breathtakingly so. We saw baby deer grazing in the near distance, little families frolicking next to the road. As we made our way up to Aspen, we went through a myriad of little towns that were so adorable and quaint. We wish we had more time so that we could stop in and enjoy them. Once we had finally made it to our hotel, we both took the longest and most amazing showers in our lives. Then it was quickly off to the festival. No time to sleep, not yet at least!
two Don’t we both look so gorgeous in the photo above?! J/K..we both look like total poop…sad poop….but give us a break, we were creeping on 11 hours of driving at this point. Aspen is nestled in between mountains on all sides. So the 360 degree view is of beautiful stunning green mountains. We entered into the festival which was comprised of various tents. All of which contained little nibbles of food and wine for the grand tasting! four We made our way around the tents grabbing up everything. We ate everything. EVERYTHING. Our conquering the Classic technique was to load up on as much stuff as we could carry then find a place to sit and eat. Oddly, we were really the only ones doing this. Maybe the nifty little trays everyone was carrying around, with a cup holder attachment would’ve come in handy, but we didn’t want to waste our time finding them. On to more food! food A lot of the food was very protein heavy. Lots of smoked meats and lots of homemade sausages. We were in heaven, there were so many unique flavor combinations happening! We had housemade boudin blanc and morcilla from The Publican (in Chicago), and vegan sausage which had an incredible texture. thirteen six On the other hand, there were a lot very unique lighter dishes too. Lot’s of plays on sweet and savory, and some flavor combinations that are what dreams are made of. One of our favorites was the salmon below, which was very simply prepared, but was wrapped around a piece of watermelon… it was like a delicious surprise nugget inside! A burst of juicy freshness! seven Some of our favorite bites included an onion panna cotta topped with an arugula puree and finished with marrow glazed white beans. Savory panna cotta! WHAT! A close second would be a simple chilled corn soup topped with a crab salad, it was unbelievably refreshing. We attended a cooking demo with Chefs Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo from Son of Gun and Animal, which are some of our favorite restaurants in Los Angeles. The day we attended, they demoed and served dishes from Son of Gun (their seafood spot). We were both really excited to be eating their lobster roll and smoked mahi dip. Some of the restaurants best dishes! They also had a booth at the festival, which had some of the best food of the event. They really did an amazing job… but no surprises there! eight We were surprised to see that there weren’t a ton of desserts at the festival, but some of our favorites include a salted cantaloupe and ginger ice cream, soft serve made with buffalo milk (unreal!) drizzled with sweet olive oil and finished with sea salt flakes, and popsicles infused with Tequila. nine We also drank lots and lots of cocktails….probably more than wine. Whoops. Our favorite was the one below on the right, rum, mango, and passion fruit with a dragon fruit sphere. So cute and super tasty! ten Like we mentioned in the beginning of this post, we went on behalf of Chobani. At the Chobani booth (which was one of the most bas ass booths might we add!) they had so many really awesome recipes they created that showcased their Greek yogurt, particularly their new Plain Whole Milk Greek yogurt flavor. One of our favorites was their rice pudding made with their Chobani 4% Plain Greek Yogurt. It was so creamy and full of flavor. YUM! We also loved their spicy duck meatball sliders a recipe by Chef Harold Dieterle (who we are both love!) They were so good and the chili jam made with Chobani really balanced out the heat from the meatballs. We were lucky to even get to try one, as they were disappearing like CRAZY, all day long. Everyday Chobani offered a variety of nibbles to suit both your sweet and savory cravings. We were lucky enough to go on this trip and see a few familiar faces as well as meet new friends. While it’s awesome to attend these events, it’s even more awesome to share the experience with other like-minded, enthusiastic folks! twelve All in all, despite our rough and hilariously strange start, we had such a crazy-good time taking in all the beautiful scenery, meeting such lovely and interesting people and leaving with very full bellies and happy faces. A huge thanks to Chobani for this unforgettable opportunity!!

*This post was sponsored by Chobani. Thank you for supporting our sponsors! It helps us keep going!*

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Aspen Food & Wine Classic

July 16, 2014  /   /   //  11 Comments