Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Party Snacks and Dips Recipe Roundup

California Clam Dip

For your holiday munching pleasure

We’re deep into holiday season, and you’re probably planning to throw a bash or two.

But what to eat? You’ll need munchies, of course. So we’ve collected some of our favorite past recipes for savory goodies that fit the bill.

We’ll be enjoying these, too. This is our last post of the year (so we’ll have time to party hearty). See you again in 2018.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Date-Walnut Squares

Lighter and tastier than many traditional recipes

Date-and-nut squares (aka bars) are a classic at holiday time. Problem is, many recipes yield dense – and filling – concoctions. This recipe is lighter, but still packs plenty of flavor.

Your guests will appreciate that. Because they’ll certainly want more than one.

So for your next holiday bash, we suggest baking a double batch of these beauties. You’ll have leftovers, but that’s the point. Because these are wonderful for breakfast, too.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The Tuxedo Cocktail

Tuxedo Cocktail

Elegant black-tie flavor without all the fuss

Holiday parties are beckoning. You’ll need something formal, of course.

The Tuxedo Cocktail is here to help. This martini variant has deep flavor and sophisticated good looks. But you can make it in a snap.

It’s a great drink any time, but we particularly like to sip it before dinner.

Which makes the Tuxedo perfect for your next soirée. Black tie optional.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Cajun-Spiced White Bean and Andouille Soup

Cajun-Spiced White Bean and Andouille Soup

Warm your winter with this tasty, satisfying dish

Need to warm up your winter table? Soup is your friend.

This one has traditional Cajun spices and andouille sausage, so you know it’s full of flavor. Plus it includes protein-rich beans and hearty greens, so it’s a complete meal in a bowl. And if you don’t have all the ingredients on hand, it’s easy to make substitutions (we’ll tell you how).

Time to get your Cajun on. La soupe est servie!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Unexpected Medical Adventure

So we’re taking off for two weeks

We weren’t planning to take down time on the blog this November, but it turns out we need to. One of us (Kitchen Riffs – a/k/a KR) had a sudden eye problem that required surgery. The prognosis is excellent, but he needs to be a couch potato for a bit. So no goodies coming from our kitchen to you, alas. And we won’t be visiting other blogs for a while.

In the meantime, why not enjoy this 2011 post about Beaujolais Nouveau? Every year on the third Thursday of November – which happens to be tomorrow – the very first Beaujolais of the year is released. This is very fresh wine (the grapes were just picked a few weeks ago) and it doesn’t age well, so it needs to be consumed very soon. But it’s a nice, fresh wine, and we think it pairs particularly well with Thanksgiving dinner. Or sip it all by itself as a predinner treat.

And speaking of Thanksgiving, we hope everyone has a wonderful one! We expect to see you with a new post on the last Wednesday of November.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Cranberry-Apple Crisp with Nut Crumble

Cranberry-Apple Crisp with Nut Crumble

Autumn’s most popular fruits make this a festive dessert

Apples and cranberries are both autumn icons. So why not set them up for a date?

They get along beautifully in this dish: Cranberry ting enlivens apple mellowness. And baking concentrates their flavors, bringing out the best in both.

With Thanksgiving coming up soon, you’ll want to add this dish to the menu. Your guests will gobble it up.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Hot Spiced Apple Cider with Rum

Spiced Hot Apple Cider with Rum

Make this autumn warmer with rum for adults, without for kiddies

It’s getting chilly in our part of the world. And the nights are getting longer. Time to warm up with hot apple cider!

This spicy version brings out the best of autumn (and rum helps tame fall’s gloomy chill). But it’s great sans alcohol, too, so the whole family can enjoy.

How about them apples?

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Moroccan Beef Tagine

Moroccan Beef Tagine

Carrots, peas, and cauliflower liven up this classic

Think beef stew is boring? Meet Moroccan Beef Tagine.

It has cinnamon, cumin, paprika, cayenne – and they all come out to play. They give this dish savor unlike any other beef braise you’ve had. And we pump ours up even more with frisky veggies.

Prepare to wow your guests.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Moroccan-Spiced Beet Salad

Moroccan-Spiced Beet Salad

Cinnamon, cumin, & orange blossom water perfume this starter

Beets are autumn on a plate. And in this dish, Moroccan spices heighten their already-enticing flavor (not to mention their aroma). Best of all, the recipe is easy to make.

So you get sensory overload on a slacker schedule. Our kind of dish!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Lamb Rogan Josh

Lamb Rogan Josh

Spicy but not fiery, this northern Indian dish makes excellent comfort food

The weather is getting chillier here, so we’re starting to crave stews and braises, preferably ones with some snap. Which leads us to Rogan Josh (aka Roghan Josh or Roghan Ghosht). Who can resist meaty chunks in a rich sauce perfumed with aromatic spices?

This dish is loaded with flavor, but it’s not spicy hot, so it appeals to almost everyone. And it’s as easy to make as beef stew.

So serve this at your next dinner party. And introduce your guests to a whole new world of comfort food.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Autumn Soup and Chili Recipe Roundup

Pumpkin and Pork Chili

Comfort-Food Ideas for Chilly Weather

Autumn is the season for soup – and chili. When the weather turns cooler, they’re our go-tos.

So this week we’re highlighting some of our favorite season-appropriate recipes from blog posts past. There are enough of them to tide you over for a few weeks – while we sneak off for vacation.

For now, soup’s on!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The Chrysanthemum Cocktail

Chrysanthemum Cocktail

Light, bracing – and pretty as a flower

Need a drink that won’t knock you off your game? The Chrysanthemum is here for you. It doesn’t contain a base spirit, so the alcohol quotient is moderate. And its rich, aromatic flavor is so satisfying that you won’t miss the extra alcohol.

The Chrysanthemum works well as an afternoon pick-me-up or predinner drink. Especially this time of year, when its eponymous flower reaches peak bloom.

Fall is perfect for planting. And you’ll definitely want this one in your garden of cocktail delights.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Gin Daisy Cocktail

Gin Daisy Cocktail

This classic tastes, well, fresh as a daisy

Summer is winding down here, but the heat still lingers. So we need to sip something cool and refreshing. Like The Gin Daisy.

Its crisp taste is ideal for an afternoon by the pool, or as a predinner drink.

And here in the US, the long Labor Day weekend is approaching. Daisy would love to be invited to your annual cookout.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Salsa Verde with Roast Tomatillos

Salsa Verde with Roast Tomatillos

Wonderful as a dip or sauce for grilled meat or fish

Ready for some bright, tangy flavor? Just dish up the Salsa Verde.

This dish, which is made with tomatillos, takes just minutes to whip up. It’s equally good at room temperature or chilled, so you can prepare a batch at the last minute while you’re grilling meat or fish.

Best of all, it will turn your next ordinary meal into a fiesta.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Millionaire Cocktail

Millionaire Cocktail

This Prohibition-era classic tastes like a million bucks

Ah, the 1920s. Flappers. Sheiks. Jazz. Prohibition. Bootleggers. A roaring stock market.

Despite Prohibition – or maybe because of it – during the 1920s drinking gained a social acceptance it never had before. And the stock market was creating more millionaires (at least on paper) than history had ever known.

So The Millionaire Cocktail was born. Enjoy it before The Crash comes.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Peach and Chipotle Gazpacho

Peach and Chipotle Gazpacho

This zesty, refreshing vegan starter tames summer heat

The dog days of summer are here in our part of the world. So let’s cool off with gazpacho, shall we?

This peachy version combines sweet summer fruit with savory cukes and bell peppers, then lets them romp in chipotle fire.

Make this soup ahead of time and pop it into the fridge. Then – chill out!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Eclipse Cocktail

Eclipse Cocktail

This classic is perfect for celebrating the August 21st solar eclipse

The US will experience a total eclipse of the sun this month – the first one to completely cross the lower 48 states since 1918.

We’re lucky enough to live near the path of eclipse totality (where the sun is completely covered), so we’re gearing up! Of course, that includes laying in the makings for The Eclipse Cocktail.

It’s not every day you get an eclipse, so drink up!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Zucchini and Chickpea Stir-Fry

Zucchini and Chickpea Stir-Fry

This tangy vegan dish makes good use of summer’s bounty

Got zucchini? And yellow squash? The way veggie gardens produce this time of year, you may be overloaded with both – and looking for recipes.

We’ve got you covered.

Serve this quick stir fry over polenta or rice, and you have a dish that’s perfect for Meatless Monday. But it’s tasty enough for company, too.

In fact, we bet they’ll ask for seconds. So double the recipe and use up even more of that bumper zucchini harvest.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Bombay Presidency Punch

Bombay Presidency Punch

Invented in 17th century India, this may be among the oldest “mixed drinks”

You might think punch is just a watered-down kiddie drink, fit only for holiday gatherings.

Well, let us introduce you to the Bombay Presidency Punch. Its ancestry features hard-drinking sailors, East India traders, and a Hindustani-inspired name.

Spice Islands ahoy!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Roast Peach Salad

Ham, goat cheese, and balsamic kick up the flavor

Fresh peaches are one of the glories of summer. But sometimes the peaches we find at the market are less than fully ripe. What to do?

Roast them, we say (grilling works too). It brings out their sweetness and concentrates their flavor.

You don’t need to save them for dessert, either. Their sweet intensity plays well with savory ingredients (we like to use salty ham or prosciutto, plus goat cheese). Mix in some balsamic vinegar and olive oil, and you have a scrumptious salad.

A versatile one, too. This salad is fancy enough to start a summer dinner party. But it’s easy enough to serve as a quick weekday main.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Fourth Regiment Cocktail

Fourth Regiment Cocktail

This spicy Manhattan-lite is perfect for summer

We love us a Manhattan Cocktail. As traditionally made, though, it can be a bit heavy for warm weather.

But fear not. The Fourth Regiment is here to save us.

It has less whiskey and more sweet vermouth than a traditional Manhattan, so it’s less alcoholic. And it uses three different kinds of bitters, which gives it a spicy, aromatic flavor that pairs well with many summer foods. Like barbecue, for example.

Sometimes it pays to march to a different drummer.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Barbecue Chicken Salad

Barbecue Chicken Salad

BBQ sauce adds depth to this main-course dish

Barbecue! We can’t get enough of it. So why not BBQ Salad?

For this dish, we whipped up a batch of French-style salad dressing. You know, that orangey stuff from the 50s. But we replaced the ketchup with BBQ sauce, and made a few other adjustments.

The result: Deep barbecue flavor. Enough said.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Moscow Mule Cocktail

Moscow Mule Cocktail

The drink that put vodka on the US map

Vodka may now be the most popular spirit in the United States. But back when this drink was invented (in the 1940s), few Americans had ever encountered it.

Then the Moscow Mule took the country by storm. And Americans started a love affair with vodka that still goes strong today.

One taste of this tall, slow sipper and you’ll see why. Because what could be better than vodka and lime juice topped off with spicy ginger beer?

Drink up, comrades!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Potato and Green Bean Salad

Potato and Green Bean Salad

Vinaigrette dressing makes this perfect for picnics

Potato salad is the ultimate summer side dish. It never misses a cookout, barbecue, or picnic.

Green beans make this potato salad lighter and more colorful – not to mention tastier. And this salad features vinaigrette dressing instead of mayo, so you can serve it at room temperature.

That’s great for cookouts. You can leave this salad on the picnic table while you’re cavorting in the summer sunshine. Because after all that outdoor activity, you’ll want to go back for seconds.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Atty Cocktail

The Atty Cocktail

Basically, a Martini with attitude

A classic Martini is made with dry gin and dry vermouth. So is The Atty Cocktail.

But the Atty adds a kiss of absinthe and crème de violette – just enough to give its flavor a hint of anise and violet, and its hue a tinge of blue.

The Atty is perfect for sipping before dinner on a warm summer’s night. But really, we’d welcome it anytime. Because suave is always in style.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Fruit Salad with Champagne

Fruit Salad with Champagne

Easy, tasty, colorful, quick, and elegant

Berries, melons, stone fruit, and more. They’re all reaching peak flavor in our part of the world.

So how about using them in a gorgeous dessert? This fruit salad is quick enough for a weeknight dinner, but elegant enough for the fanciest party. (You can even replace the champagne with sparkling cider if you want a nonalcoholic version).

You’ll have plenty of bubbly left over, too, so you can pour everyone a glass to accompany dessert.

Your guests will love the great fresh flavor of this salad. Not to mention the bubbles.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Chicken

Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Chicken

Outdoor flavor, indoor easy

Here in the US, we’ll be celebrating Memorial Day this weekend. And that means the start of cookout season.

Problem is, the weather forecast says rain in our area. Bummer.

Fortunately, we have the perfect dish for days when the weather gods refuse to cooperate. This slow-cooker BBQ pulled chicken tastes like you cooked it long and slow over an outdoor smoker. But you never need to leave the house.

Most of the cooking is unattended, too, giving you time to do other things. Like chat with your guests over a cocktail. Or two.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Beet and Red Onion Salad

Beet and Red Onion Salad

Refreshing and lively, this is the perfect summer starter

As the weather grows warmer, we need something to tease our appetites. Something like this simple-to-make (and delightful-to-eat) summer salad.

It’s got great color, and better flavor. And it’s a wonderful way to use all the locally grown beets that show up in markets this time of year.

Can’t beat that.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Cucumber and Smoked-Salmon Salad with Feta

Cucumber and Smoked Salmon Salad with Feta

Serve this tangy dish as starter or main

Cucumbers and smoked salmon, tossed with creamy feta cheese dressing. What’s not to like? Especially when you add green peas for color and radishes for perk.

Serve this dish of scrumptiousness as a starter. Or spoon up extra-large portions for a light main course.

This salad is quick to make, so it’s ideal for weeknight dinner. But it’s also fancy enough to serve at your next dinner party.

Like maybe your Mother’s Day celebration this weekend?

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Blood and Sand Cocktail

The Blood and Sand Cocktail

Named for a Valentino movie

Ready for a scotch-based drink inspired by a bullfighting flick? Of course you are!

In 1922, Rudolph Valentino was at the height of his fame. Cinemas everywhere were showing his latest work, Blood and Sand. It was thrilling stuff.

And this namesake drink does the film justice. A mix of scotch, Cherry Heering, sweet vermouth, and orange juice, the Blood and Sand Cocktail smolders with dangerous allure. Just like Valentino himself, you might say.

Still not enough to persuade you? Well, there’s also a tequila version of this cocktail, which is perfect for Cinco de Mayo (more about that in the Notes).


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Deconstructed Fish Tacos with Grits

Deconstructed Fish Tacos with Grits

Just in time for Cinco de Mayo, a new twist on a classic dish

Tacos are the ultimate fast food.

So let’s slow them down a bit, shall we? Because sometimes we need to savor. This dish keeps all the flavor of the original, but makes things more knife-and-fork friendly.

We replace corn tortillas with grits (also made from corn, so lots of savor there). Then we mound the other ingredients on top, for an open-faced taco.

The result is fancy (and good) enough for a dinner party. But easy enough for a quick meal. Nothing fishy about that.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Hot Bacon Coleslaw with (or without) Jalapeño

Hot Bacon Coleslaw with (or without) Jalapeño

Serve this as a side, or use it to top a BBQ pork sandwich

Cookout season will soon be here. So it’s time to seek out side dishes!

Like this one. Coleslaw is always a hit. And you can’t go wrong with bacon. Put them together and . . . instant favorite.

This dish is terrific all by itself, too. Or use it to top a pulled-pork sandwich, or even to garnish fish tacos.

This coleslaw is versatile. And that’s no hogwash.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Strawberry-Spinach Salad with Balsamic Poppy-Seed Dressing

Strawberry-Spinach Salad with Balsamic Poppy-Seed Dressing

This seasonal starter says spring!

Ah, spring. Warmer weather. Tender fresh baby spinach. And strawberries!

Those two ingredients frolic like bunnies in this tasty – and gorgeous – salad. Then we toss them in balsamic vinaigrette (with poppy seeds) for even more perk.

It’s the perfect start to Easter dinner. Peeps ahoy!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Rob Roy Cocktail

The Rob Roy Cocktail

Even non-scotch drinkers will enjoy this Manhattan variant
A scotch-based cocktail? Aye!

The Rob Roy dates back to the 19th century. And it has aged well – much like its signature ingredient.

The drink probably was named after a popular operetta. Which is appropriate, because you’ll soon be singing its praises.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Braised Greens with White Beans

Braised Greens with White Beans

This vegan Italian-style dish makes a great side or main

Dark, leafy greens are some virtuous eats. Cooked Italian style, they bring on the flavor, too.

Best of all, greens cook quickly. So you can whip up this dish on a weeknight. It makes an extra-tasty side. Or pair it with some bread (we favor cornbread or garlic bread) and you have a complete meal.

Virtue never tasted so good.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Glazed Radishes

Glazed Radishes

Buttery, slightly sweet, with a mild earthy note – these taste like spring

It’s radish season!

Not impressed? This recipe may change your mind.

When you glaze radishes in butter and a bit of sugar, they lose most of their sharp edge. And they develop a deep, rooty flavor that pairs particularly well with roast meats. Best of all, glazing radishes is an easy way to cook them.

So make more than you think you’ll need. Everyone will want seconds. Maybe thirds. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Corned Beef, Cabbage, and Potato Gratin

Corned Beef, Cabbage, and Potato Gratin

This easy casserole makes a one-dish St. Patrick’s Day meal

Ready for St. Pat’s Day? Craving some corned beef and cabbage, but don’t have the time to make it? We’ve got the solution.

This dish combines the three most popular elements of a traditional St. Patrick’s Day dinner – corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes – into one scrumptious dish. And you can use deli corned beef rather than cooking your own – a real time saver.

So you’ll have more time to celebrate. You lucky leprechaun, you.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Moroccan-Spiced Sweet Potato and Chickpea Soup

Moroccan-Spiced Sweet Potato and Chickpea Soup

This vegan dish is spicy but not wild

An aromatic blend of sweet potatoes and chickpeas? Sign us up!

This soup sports flavor that’s assertive but not overpowering. And it’s light enough for a first course. Or you could ladle up extra-large portions, pair it with salad and crusty bread, and serve it as a main dish.

Tasty, zippy, versatile – it’s a real meal deal.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Blackthorn Cocktail

The Blackthorn Cocktail

Made with Irish whiskey, this elixir is perfect for St. Pat’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day is coming up soon. So how about a drink?

We suggest the Blackthorn (sometimes spelled Blackthorne), which mixes Irish whiskey with sweet vermouth, absinthe, and bitters.

It’s bracing and tasty. And just right for getting your Irish on.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Quick and Easy Shrimp Creole

Quick and Easy Shrimp Creole

Let the good times roll with this spicy New Orleans classic

Mardi Gras – aka Fat Tuesday – is next week. And you know what that means, right?


Even if you don’t have much time to cook, you can whip up the perfect dish. Shrimp Creole (a classic dish made all over Louisiana) is extremely fast to put together.

Which works for us. Because less time in the kitchen means more time to eat and drink. And party!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Chunky Chicken Chili with Green Chilies

Chunky Chicken Chili with Green Chilies

Warm up with a spicy and flavorful bowl

This time of year, the days are short in our part of the world. And the nights are cold. Fortunately, we have chili to keep us warm.

Chicken chili is a bit lighter than the beef version, so we don’t sink down in our snowshoes. But green chilies and white beans make it plenty tasty and hearty.

Good thing this recipe yields a big batch. You’ll want seconds.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Chocolate-Rum Truffles

Chocolate-Rum Truffles

With rich and decadent flavor, these are a natural for Valentine’s Day

Chocolates for Valentine’s Day? Mais oui!

But you needn’t buy expensive bonbons in heart-shaped boxes. Because these homemade truffles are outrageously good – and they look fancy, too.

Best of all, they’re easy to make. So you’ll have more time to sip champagne with your sweetie.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Hanky Panky Cocktail

The Hanky Panky Cocktail

Perfect for Valentine’s Day

In February, our thoughts naturally turn to Hanky Panky (the cocktail, of course).

And if the name sounds like the title of a Noël Coward play, well, that’s fitting: It was invented for an actor who mentored Coward.

More history in a bit. First, we need to learn how to mix this beauty. Because your sweetheart awaits.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Super Bowl Recipe Roundup

Chocolate Fudge with Nutella

Loads of tasty ideas for your game-day feast

The Super Bowl is coming up on Sunday, February 5th. And that means parties!

Looking for ideas on what to serve? We’ve got you covered.

We’ve assembled some of our favorite football-friendly recipes. And we’ve just scratched the surface. You can find lots more in our Recipe Index.

So let’s get started. No need to flip a coin.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Real-Chili Chili Mac Casserole

Real-Chili Chili Mac Casserole

This cheesy gratin is comfort food for the whole family

Chili. Cheese. Pasta. Bring ‘em on!

And this dish does, in delicious combination. It’s a quick-bake casserole that makes a perfect cold-weather meal. It even gives you an excuse to use leftover chili.

You can have this dish on the table in about 30 minutes, so it’s great for weeknight dinners. But it’s tasty enough for company, too.

So take this along to your next pot-luck event. Like maybe your neighbor’s annual Super Bowl party. Who cares which team wins the game? You’ve won the meal.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Cabbage Chili with Spicy Sausage

Cabbage Chili with Spicy Sausage

Black-eyed peas add savor to this healthy cold-weather pleaser

Cabbage chili? Yeah, not something you’re likely to find in Texas. But totally worth having.

Particularly since cabbage has almost no calories. Many of us are diet conscious this time of year, so that’s a winner.

But the biggest winner is the flavor. We’ve loaded this dish with lots of dried chile powder and other spices, so it has all the deep chili flavor you expect from, well, chili.

This dish makes a great weekday meal, but it’s good enough to serve at an informal weekend gathering with friends. Like, maybe, for football playoffs or the Super Bowl. Score!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Fanciulli Cocktail

The Fanciulli Cocktail

This classic charmer is essentially a Manhattan made with Fernet-Branca

The Manhattan Cocktail is one of our favorites. It’s a smooth combo of rye or bourbon and sweet (Italian) vermouth, spiced up with Angostura bitters.

Well, replace the bitters with Fernet-Branca (an Italian liqueur), and you have the Fanciulli Cocktail. This drink is largely forgotten today, but it seems to have been quite popular in pre-Prohibition America.

Time for a revival, no? Especially since the the Fanciulli’s spicy flavor makes it perfect for winter sipping.

We like to serve the Fanciulli as a predinner drink, though it’s great any time of the day. Well, maybe not for breakfast. But you know what we mean.