Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Angie's Brittle - Happy Holidays

Angie's Brittle - Happy Holidays |

Oh man, It has been a rough few weeks! Traveling, work, Christmas shopping, more work, baking (and mailing), even MORE work, so many December birthdays, and not to mention I dropped a full bottle of vinegar on my toe (which is now bruised and probably broken). I kind of just want to throw my hands in the air and say "I give up world!" But, I can't because..............SANTA'S COMING!!!!

This is absolutely, hands down, my favorite time of year! Spending time with family, holiday parties, TONS of cooking and holiday treats, decorations, presents and best of all, traditions. We have several established traditions in our family, but we're always creating new ones. One of the best traditions though, are the holiday goodies that our families make. We always get delicious Italian Pizzelles from the Hubby's Mom and Spicy Chex Mix (aka Trash) from my Mom. One of my favorite traditions that crept into our family several years ago is Angie's Brittle.

Angie's Brittle - Happy Holidays |

Angie is an old family friend of ours who knows how to make brittle! My mom fell in love with the brittle and started making it every Holiday. I now have taken over the tradition and wanted to share with everyone! Salty, sweet and very chocolatey, it is a cracker-based brittle. Usually I make this with saltine crackers, however since going gluten free, I now use a basic GF cracker and had no issues. If you don't have a gluten issue, then go with the saltines. You can also top the brittle with a different type of nut like almonds, pecans or cashews. Sometimes I add on dried fruit, like goji berries.

Angie's Brittle - Happy Holidays |

On behalf of the Hubby, myself and our families, we wish everyone a wonderful  Holiday Season and many delicious treats!!

Angie's Brittle - Happy Holidays |

Angie's Brittle

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes

2 sticks butter (16 Tablespoons)
1 cup brown sugar
Cooking spray
1 sleeve saltine crackers (or gluten free crackers similar to saltines - I used these)
16 ounces favorite chocolate chips (dark, milk or bittersweet)
1 cup walnuts (toasted and chopped)
Sea salt (suggested if using GF crackers)

Preheat the oven to 350F and line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil. Spray the foil with cooking spray (the more you spray, the easier it will be to remove the brittle).
Spread the crackers in a single layer on the lined baking sheet.

In a small sauce pan, melt the butter and brown sugar over medium heat. Bring to a boil and continue to cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. This will start to thicken and turn brown like a caramel. Pour the butter mixture over the crackers and bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Be careful not to overcook as the brittle will burn easily.

Remove the brittle from the oven and pour the chocolate chips on top of this immediately. Let the chips sit for a minute, and as they melt, start to spread them out with a spatula. This will create the chocolate layer. Sprinkle the walnuts (or favorite nut) and sea salt. Let this cool for about 10-15 minutes and then place in the freezer to harden.

When frozen, carefully remove the foil from the brittle and break into pieces. Store in a freezer bag or container in the freezer until ready to serve. This keeps the chocolate from melting!

Angie's Brittle - Happy Holidays |

Monday, December 15, 2014

Chocolate Almond Oat Cookies (Gluten Free)

Christmas Cookie Time!!!

This is my third year participating in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap and I finally had the guts to participate in the gluten free category. I love receiving and buying gluten free cookies, but had not yet mastered the art of gluten free baking (except for my one go to recipe for Oatmeal Nut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies). Since I had already posted that recipe on my blog, I couldn't use it for the 2014 Cookie Swap. 

Chocolate Almond Oat Cookies (Gluten Free) |

I started by testing a new version of the Oatmeal cookies. Instead of peanut butter, I used almond cocoa butter, which pretty much just resulted in a very flat, spread out crisp, so I kept testing. 

It took me about 5 tries, but I finally perfected the thin, crispy, chocolate-y cookies I like to call Chocolate Almond Oat Cookies! I was determined to make something good enough for my fellow gluten free food bloggers and stand up to the US Postal Service and their "delicate" shipping methods.

Chocolate Almond Oat Cookies (Gluten Free) |

Regardless of the hurdles, I prevailed with a successful recipe and many cookies to spread around to friends, family and coworkers. 

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap is so much fun, something I look forward to every year. I love the camaraderie of the food blogger network and the encouragement and praise (and social media frenzy) of all the recipes and cookies! This year, I was extra excited to receive my cookies in the mail because I knew they were all going to be gluten free! This year I received:
All I need now is a tall glass of cold milk!

Chocolate Almond Oat Cookies (Gluten Free) |

Chocolate Almond Oat Cookies 

Yields: 3-4 dozen 
Prep Time: 15 minutes 
Cook Time: 8-10 minutes

1 cup almond cocoa butter (used Trader Joe's)
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 ¼ teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup gluten free oat flour (used Bob’s Red Mill)
3 cups rolled oats (gluten free)
½ cup slivered almonds, toasted and chopped
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or a SilPat.

In the bowl of a standing mixer combine sugar, brown sugar and cocoa almond butter and beat until creamy. 

Add in the eggs, vanilla, cinnamon and baking soda and mix well before added in the oat flour. Turn the mixer off and stir in the oats, chocolate chips and almonds by hand. Cover the dough and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Using a teaspoon, form small balls of dough and spread out at least 2 inches apart on the cookie sheet. Keep a bowl of water near by to dip fingers in when forming the dough balls since the dough will be sticky.

Bake the cookies for about 8 minutes until they puff up. Remove from the oven and let sit on the cookie sheet for at least 5 minutes before removing and cooling on a rack.

If you like really crispy cookies, bake for a total of 10 minutes.

Chocolate Almond Oat Cookies (Gluten Free) |

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving & Oyster Season in NC

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Instead of filling your inboxes and social media feeds with another Thanksgiving recipe, I thought I would focus on one of the holiday traditions in my family....Oysters!

Happy Thanksgiving & Oyster Season in NC |

There are many reasons why Fall is my favorite season in North Carolina, but oysters are definitely at the top of that list! I LOVE fresh oysters! There is nothing better than using brute force to crack open the shell and slurp up the briny, delicious prize from inside.

Happy Thanksgiving & Oyster Season in NC |

I realize that last statement might not sound that appetizing to most people, but I just can't help myself. It is one of the few ocean gems that I don't mind working for to eat. As long as I can remember, I have enjoyed them, but I am sure there was a moment when I was younger where I stared an oyster in the face and truly questioned whether I should bet my life on a raw thing that looked like a booger. 

Luckily for me, that was sooooo long ago that I don't remember it, so for now, my unwavering love for oysters continues! They are coming in hot right now in NC too. The Hubby and I are always following Locals Seafood to know what is coming in fresh from the NC coast. The other night, we got several dozen Wild Harvest oysters for less than $20. The catch is that you have to clean and open them yourselves, but with the training I have from my Father, I was in good shape!

Happy Thanksgiving & Oyster Season in NC |

The Hubby and I prefer to eat them raw, but most people grill, bake or steam them. I found a few good recipes for folks to peruse:

If you are brave enough to eat them raw, be prepared for a bit of a workout to get them open. Raw oysters are much harder to open, so the proper tool and technique is very important! A lot of helpful information can be found here on how to shuck oysters.

Then all you need to pull off your Oyster on the Half Shell plater is a few accouterments: lemon wedges, hot sauce, melted butter, chow chow or other pickled shallots.

Happy Thanksgiving & Oyster Season in NC |

We prefer to eat the oysters by themselves because we will eat so many, but they can be served with anything, or as an appetizer.

Check out Locals Seafood for their latest Market Selection straight from the NC coast! Happy shucking!

Happy Thanksgiving & Oyster Season in NC |

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Vegetarian Gumbo

Watch out everyone, the Polar Vortex is coming!! At least, according to every news and weather station. In my opinion it doesn't really seem to be heading towards NC. The weather forecast just looks like the normal late fall and early winter I missing something? 

Vegetarian Gumbo |

Regardless of the Weather Man being right or wrong, cold weather is creeping in, which means I plan to make a large pot of soup, or in this case, gumbo. I threw this one together on a whim a few weeks back when we had vegetarian friends over for dinner. It then took me two more attempts to actually write the recipe down and perfect the amounts! Hate it when I do that sometimes. 

Vegetarian Gumbo | www.kettlercuisine.comVegetarian Gumbo | www.kettlercuisine.comVegetarian Gumbo |

Anyways, this is a great soup, or, gumbo for a large crowd with various dietary needs. You basically start with a vegetarian soup, then have the option to add grains and meat for those that want it. The Hubby and I personally love adding in spicy pork sausage (that we from Fickle Creek Farm - love those guys)! 

So, grab a blanket, light the fire and whip up a pot of my Vegetarian Gumbo! 

Vegetarian Gumbo |

Great with rice, grits or cornbread.

Vegetarian Gumbo

Yields: 6-8 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25-30 minutes

2 Tablespoons all purpose flour (use gluten free if needed)

3 Tablespoons butter (only for vegetarian version)
1 large onion, finely diced
2 carrots, cut into rounds
4 cloves of garlic, finely minced

3 cups vegetable stock, separated
1 cup tomato sauce
1 green bell pepper, finely diced
2 cups button mushrooms or crimini mushrooms, quartered
2 cups fresh Romano beans or green beans, chopped
1 Tablespoon dry sage
Tablespoon dry thyme
Tablespoon Cajun seasoning
1 Tablespoon chili powder
Tablespoons soy sauce (use Tamari if gluten free)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
Parmesan rind (optional)
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 pound Sage Hot pork sausage (optional for non-vegetarian version)
Rice or grits for serving (optional)

First step, chop all the vegetables! This is definitely a recipe where you want to have your mise en place (stuff in place).

In a large soup pot, prepare the roux:

  • Vegetarian version - Heat a large soup pot over medium heat and melt the butter. Stir in the flour and continue to stir constantly for around 5 minutes until the roux is a few shades darker.
  • Non-vegetarian version - Heat a large soup pot over medium heat and cook the sausage through. Remove the sausage and set aside, reserving the rendered fat in the pot. Stir in the flour and continue to stir constantly for around 5 minutes until the roux is a few shades darker.
Add the onions, carrots and garlic along with a quarter cup of vegetable stock so the roux doesnt burn (the mixture will be thick and pasty). Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions soften and the broth has evaporated.

Stir in the tomato sauce, bell peppers, mushrooms and beans and cook, stirring, for another 5 minutes. 
Add the herbs, spices and soy sauce and mix well.

Stir in the canned beans and rest of vegetable stock and Parmesan rind and allow the gumbo to come to a boil over medium-high heat. If the gumbo is too thick, add more broth. Lower the heat to a simmer and let everything cook for another 10 minutes.

Vegetarian Gumbo |

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Maple Chili Butternut Squash & Brussels Sprouts

IT'S FALL!!! My favorite time of year!! Beautiful, earthy colors, comforting spices, blankets, sweaters, and boots! Who doesn't also love the obsession with pumpkin flavored everything. OK, well a lot of people are probably sick of it by now, but everything else about Fall is amazing.

Maple Chili Butternut Squash & Brussels Sprouts |

Butternut squash is a quintessential Fall vegetable for me. It is the closest thing to a sweet potato that the Hubby will eat, and it's truly versatile - prepared either sweet or savory. I decided to combine both flavors, and, like most recipes, add in a little green. 

Enter, Brussels sprouts, a vegetable that both the Hubby and I are fans of and have been most of our relationship. I knew the Brussels were dense enough to hold up against the squash if roasted at high temperatures. Brussels sprouts are also a flavorful vegetable that don't require a lot of spices or added flavors.

Maple Chili Butternut Squash & Brussels Sprouts |

This is an easy side dish for your Fall menus. It does require some cooking time, so be sure to allow for that. This side dish goes well with most meats or a rice pilaf. The leftovers are a perfect addition on a salad as well. Enjoy!

Maple Chili Butternut Squash & Brussels Sprouts |

Maple Chili Roasted Butternut Squash & Brussels Sprouts 

Yields: 8 servings 
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: about 45 minutes

1 pound Brussels sprouts, ends cut off, halved
1 pound Butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
4 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon chili powder
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

The easiest way to peel a butternut squash is to cut off both ends and use a vegetable peeler, scraping down the sides until the thick skin is peeled off. Note, this might take a few peels in the same spot. Otherwise, you can cut both ends off the squash and then cut in half width-wise and use a sharp knife to cut the skin off. Be sure to scoop out the seeds from the middle of the squash before cutting into cubes.

Preheat the oven to 350F and line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or heavy duty foil. Mix the halved Brussels sprouts and cubed butternut squash with the maple syrup, chili powder and olive oil. Lay out the mixture evenly on the baking sheet (might have to use two if the baking sheets are small) and sprinkle evenly with about a teaspoon of salt.

Roast the vegetable mixture at 350F for 25 minutes, then increase the heat to 425F and continue to roast for another 15-20 minutes (depending on oven). Once the vegetables are well browned, remove and serve with salt and pepper to taste.

Maple Chili Butternut Squash & Brussels Sprouts |

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Cherry Walnut Granola

I am straight up addicted to granola! I eat it for breakfast almost every day with Greek yogurt, milk or berries. Usually a batch of granola lasts me around two weeks, but recently the Hubby has started getting into my stash, so I find myself making granola pretty much every weekend.

Cherry Walnut Granola |

Don't get me wrong, I am more than happy to do this. Plus, this is the first time I've seen the Hubby actually eat breakfast in the more than 10 years we have been together. 
I started making some of my past recipes like Crunchy Nut Granola or Pumpkin Granola (which I totally need to revisit and re-photograph)! However, he likes his granola a bit sweeter, so I took the basic principals, measurements and cooking instructions, then just changed the ingredients a bit to include more maple syrup (my favorite Fall sweetener) and dried sweet cherries.

Cherry Walnut Granola |

After making the first batch, the house smelled so good that we decided to have a late afternoon granola snack! The Hubby approves and continues to eat breakfast. YAY for jump starting your metabolism and eating healthy. Which reminds me, I need to go make more granola now...

Cherry Walnut Granola |

Cherry Walnut Granola

Yields: 6 cups
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes

4 tablespoons Grapeseed oil
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
4 cup old fashioned oats (use gluten free if needed)
1 cup raw walnuts, chopped
1 cup raw pepitas/pumpkin seeds (or sunflower seeds)
1 cup dried cherries

Preheat the oven to 325F.

Mix the Grapeseed oil, nutmeg, cinnamon, maple syrup and applesauce until well blended. Stir in the oats, walnuts and pepitas.

Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly grease with oil or butter. Spread the granola mixture on the baking sheet.

Bake at 325F for around 40 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.

Let sit to room temp and stir in the cherries.

Cherry Walnut Granola |

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Three Years and Stanbury

Recently, the Hubby and I celebrated our third anniversary. Hard to believe how fast time flies! One of our favorite things to do together is dine out. We like good food...actually, let me rephrase that: We love great food! Even though we cook a lot at home, we always appreciate the hard work that chefs and restaurants put forth in our area. So we try to support them as much as possible.

Three Years and Stanbury |

One such restaurant is Stanbury in Raleigh. We decided to try it out for the first time for our anniversary! From the start, we were impressed. The restaurant isn't downtown or in a strip mall, but a stand alone place near Peace College and Seaboard Station. We walked in and snagged the only two seats left at the bar while we waited for our table. The place was hoppin' for a Wednesday night, and you could tell everyone was having a great time. 

Three Years and Stanbury |

Stanbury has an open kitchen, so we got a nice sneak peak at several of the dishes while we ordered drinks. The staff couldn't have been nicer and you could tell they loved their jobs. So here is a little review of our meal from the Hubby and I....

Three Years and Stanbury |
Swordfish Crudo

First course - NC Swordfish Crudo with watermelon, pickled cucumber, jalapeño and basil.

This was like biting into flavorful air! The dish was so clean and refreshing, but then you get a bite with all the flavors and get that surprising punch from the pickled cucumber. The herbaceous basil gave it a nice peppery finish. Oh man, this was definitely MY favorite of the night!! 

Three Years and Stanbury |
Green Beans with Smoked Blue Fish

Second course - Green Beans with smoked blue fish, green goddess dressing, tomato and crispy shallot. 

This one was like biting into straight up smoke, but it wasn't overwhelming because the green beans smoothed it out. I'm a big fan of a dish that can cover all the consistencies - creamy, juicy, crunchy, crispy....this one had them all!

Three Years and Stanbury |
Bone Marrow

Third course - Roasted marrow with parsley, shallots, capers and Boulted Bread. 

This one was all for the Hubby! Seriously, look at the size of that bone! It was fatty and greasy and all the right things. Oh....My....God! I barely have words to describe this. Simple decadence.

Three Years and Stanbury |
Crispy Pig Head with 62 Degree Egg

Fourth Course - Crispy pig head with field peas, a 62 degree egg, arugula, mustard and creme fraiche

I thoroughly enjoyed this one - best pulled pork in the form of a crab cake EVER! The mustard cream gave it a nice punch. Another dish that seemed to cover all bases on the consistency spectrum - fresh arugula, creamy egg, earthy lentil, crispy pork and spicy mustard.

Three Years and Stanbury |
Seared Scallops

Fifth Course - Seared scallops with farro, roasted turnips, greens and mustard cream, or as I like to call this one, Surf and Earth

Hearty, filling, and once again the mustard flavor bringing everything together. This earthy meal had a bright, fresh finish, and the buttery addition of the scallops rounded things out perfectly.

Three Years and Stanbury |
Escazu Chocolate Ice Cream and Pumpkin Cake

DESSERT - Escazu Chocolate spiced ice cream with pumpkin cake

If this dessert doesn't embody the Fall, then I don't know what does! One bite gave us pumpkin pie, spicy chocolate and Kit Kat all in one! Dessert heaven! Artisan chocolate shop Escazu is right next door to Stanbury, so I have a feeling they always have good desserts. 

Three Years and Stanbury |

I was so sad to say farewell to our perfect anniversary meal, but we left a little note in one of many old cookbooks that they bring the bill in. We shall return to Stanbury, with even bigger eyes and emptier bellies!!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Fairytale Eggplant with Farmers Cheese

Fairytale Eggplants are the cutest and most delicious little vegetables! I first came across them about a month ago and I couldn't help but think how cute they were. I hesitated to buy them because I wasn't quite sure how to cook the little purple gems. After circling the market twice, I decided to go for it.

Fairytale Eggplant with Farmers Cheese |

Eggplants are tricky. Unfortunately, there hasn't been a lot of success with the vegetable in my kitchen and the Hubby usually won't eat them because of the mushy texture and chewy skin. I agree with him. In theory, eggplants are hearty and filling and would be perfect for a vegetarian meal. They just never settle well with my stomach. So, why did I buy them?? Well first of all, they were adorable. And second of all, I love a good challenge in the kitchen!

Fairytale Eggplant with Farmers Cheese |

The farmer informed me that the skin on the smaller eggplants are much thinner and easier to chew. Selling point #1. He also informed me that they cook pretty quickly, so it makes a wonderful weeknight side dish. Selling point #2. And finally, small eggplants, like Fairytale's, don't have many seeds in them (which is what usually bothers my stomach). Selling point #3...and sold!

When thinking about cooking the eggplant, I decided to build in some layers of flavor. I knew that in order to get the Hubby to at least try to eat them, I had to add two elements; creamy (that is where the cheese comes in) and crunchy (crispy shallots and fresh parsley).

Fairytale Eggplant with Farmers Cheese |

Changing things up, I went for the cast iron skillet instead of a roasting pan and I pulled out shallots. I started with the shallots not only to infuse the oil, but also to create crispy, caramelized shallot slices for garnish and flavor.

I didn't tell the Hubby I was making eggplant at first, and honestly didn't expect he would even try it. Much to my surprise, he was feeling adventurous and ended up LOVING them! It was such a win for me. Not only did my stomach handle them with ease, but the taste was fantastic AND the Hubby approved!

Fairytale Eggplant with Farmers Cheese |

Many of my friends and followers ask me about eggplant all the time, and I am officially here to tell you not to be scared of it! I have literally avoided buying eggplant for most of my adult life because I was never able to find a good way to cook and never enjoyed it. Well, friends, today is a new day!

Fairytale Eggplant 

Yields: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes

1 pound Fairytale eggplants, halved lengthwise (or other small eggplant)
1 small shallot, sliced
2 tablespoons Grapeseed oil (or olive oil)
1/4 cup Farmers cheese, crumbled (could also use Feta or Chèvre)
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, roughly chopped
salt and pepper to test

In a large cast iron skillet, heat the oil over medium heat and sauté the shallots, stirring constantly until slightly crispy and caramelized. Remove the shallots and place on a paper towel reserving the oil in the skillet.

Place the halved eggplants skin side down first in the heated oil and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Flip the eggplant and sauté on the other side for 2 more minutes until slightly browned. 

To serve, place the eggplants on a plate and add the crumbled cheese, parsley and reserved crispy shallots on top. Season with salt and pepper.

Fairytale Eggplant with Farmers Cheese |

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Crude Bitters, Sodas & Shrubs

There is a new company in town that I am super excited about and have to share with you guys...Crude Bitters and Sodas...a Raleigh-based small-batch bitters and artisan soda company. I first came across these guys at the Western Wake Farmers Market, and quickly became a frequent buyer! I started with the Bitterless Marriage Bitters, a beautiful blend of hibiscus, lavender and oak. This bitters is a fantastic addition to the 007 Martini.

Crude Bitters, Sodas & Shrubs |

Not only are Crude's bitters fantastic, they also offer shrub syrup concentrates, which are traditional soft drinks blended from fresh fruit, sugar and vinegar. When mixed with water or soda water, the shrubs make a delicious drink, or layer for a cocktail. After buying a few of the bitters, the Hubby and I were inspired to start experimenting with new cocktails. We even came up with a Cocktail Mixer date night...which we quickly realized couldn't be a long date or we would end up on the floor!

Crude Bitters, Sodas & Shrubs |

After following Crude for a while on social media and asking questions about the company every time I stopped in, I learned about their Kickstarter campaign raising money for their first brick and mortar shop!! The Hubby and I immediately wanted to help, so we contributed (which you should all too), and reached out to the team to collaborate on a blog post!

They were so awesome and sent me two of their favorite recipes that you can't find on the website. The two drinks below feature their Big Bear Bitters, which is an infusion of coffee and cocoa. We tried both recipes and enjoyed them immensely! 

Crude Bitters, Sodas & Shrubs |

Crude's Kickstarter campaign goal is to build out a new production space in downtown Raleigh, including a small tasting room. They will craft more batches of seasonal bitters made from local ingredients. The money will also assist in building the new kitchen and tasting room, allowing them to offer cocktail mixing classes in-house!

Help Crude hit their stretch goal so they can continue to spread their amazing, creative and flavorful bitters and shrubs! Go to their Kickstarter campaign and support your local small business!

Early Morning Boulevard

Yields: 1 cocktail
Prep Time: 5 minutes

1 oz bourbon
.75 oz Campari
.75 oz sweet vermouth
1 dropper Big Bear bitters
fresh rosemary for garnish (if you are feeling fancy)

Combine all ingredients except bitters in shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled martini glass and top with bitters and garnish. 

Crude Bitters, Sodas & Shrubs |

Find more drink recipes on the CRUDE website.


Yields: 1 cocktail
Prep Time: 5 minutes

1.5 oz whiskey
.5 oz fresh lime juice
.5 oz maple syrup
ginger beer
1 dropper Big Bear bitters

Combine all ingredients except bitters in shaker with ice. Shake and serve over ice in rocks glass. Top with ginger beer and bitters.

Crude Bitters, Sodas & Shrubs |

Find more drink recipes on the CRUDE website.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Roasted Tomato Pesto

I am not ready to let go of summer yet! Don't get me wrong, Fall is my favorite season, but it seems to be creeping into summer earlier and earlier every year (kind of like Christmas decorations coming out in September)...craziness! The pumpkin craze has taken over the blogisphere and grocery stores already...especially Trader Joe's. I was in there on Sunday and found pumpkin-flavored items all over the store. I was so tempted to get them all, but knew it was too soon, just too soon!

Roasted Tomato Pesto |

Plus, there is still an abundance of summer produce available, so I quickly let go of any Fall cravings and continued on with summer! Tomatoes are still going strong, and several different types. I found some great Roma tomatoes and other small garden tomatoes and decided to make a pesto. Yep, you can literally make pesto with anything!

There are two ways I LOVE to eat tomatoes, raw, and roasted or charred. By roasting tomatoes, it brings out a hidden sweetness that pairs well with many flavors, including garlic, fresh thyme and pine nuts.

Roasted Tomato Pesto |

The weather this weekend was absolutely gorgeous! Pure quintessential North Carolina weather at its best! It was definitely a sit-outside-all-day kind of day on Sunday...with pauses in between for football :)

I made the below pesto based on a recipe I learned in a cooking class at Whisk (highly recommend their classes by the way)! The recipe is super easy and pretty difficult to mess up. The pesto is great with crackers, crispy bread, cheese or even cucumber slices.

So as the Hubby and I prepare to say farewell to another NC summer, we plan on enjoying every last second of its beautiful and delicious bounty!

Roasted Tomato Pesto |

Roasted Tomato Pesto

Yields: 2 cups
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30-35 minutes

1.5 pounds Roma tomatoes, quartered
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, whole and unpeeled
1 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
3 tablespoons pine nuts
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
sea salt
freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 375F and line a baking sheet with foil. Mix the tomatoes, 2 tablespoons olive oil, thyme and pinch of sea salt on the baking sheet. Throw on the garlic cloves and roast for 30-35 minutes, until the garlic is soft. If the garlic cloves are smaller, take them out around 20-25 minutes so they don't burn. Set the tomato mixture aside to cool. Peel the garlic cloves and add back into the tomato mixture.

In a small dry saute pan, toast the pine nuts over medium-low heat until fragrant and slightly browned. Quickly remove from the pan and let cool on a cutting board or room temperature surface. (Watch the pine nuts closely as they will burn quickly)

Once everything is cooled, blend the tomato mixture, pine nuts, remaining olive oil, crushed red pepper flakes and a bit more sea salt to taste in a food processor. Serve with a soft cheese, crackers or cucumber slices.

Roasted Tomato Pesto |