Strawberry Bread with Strawberry Compound Butter

Have you been enjoying the summer strawberries?  I find these beauties especially sweet and plump in the summer months, especially when picked right from the garden.

Strawberry Bread and Butter Recipe (1)

The other day, I was shooting a video for Strawberry Bread and it just happened that it made two beautiful loaves.  We shared one loaf at the allrecipes.com studio, and I took the second one home to share with friends at a going away party.  The recipe really rocked out – the bread came out moist, studded with pecans and strawberries.  Notice the sliced strawberries on the top of the loaves?  That was the extra flare I decided to add, mainly for food styling purposes.  Try the same when baking banana bread as well.

The time of the party was approaching, and I wanted to elevate the bread by making a quick Strawberry Compound Butter.  I’ll confess to having the leftover butter on a toasted baguette the following morning, and it was quite a success!

Strawberry Compound Butter

Ingredients

1 cup butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup strawberries, pureed

Directions

1.  Beat together butter, sugar and cinnamon.

Strawberry Bread and Butter Recipe (2)Strawberry Bread and Butter Recipe (3)

2.  Fold in strawberries.  Refrigerate until ready to use.  About 30 minutes before serving, remove the butter from the refrigerator to bring to room temperature.

Strawberry Bread and Butter Recipe (4)Strawberry Bread and Butter Recipe (5)

Judging by the reaction of guests at the party, this combination was a success.  Want a recipe variation?  Bake up the bread as muffins, and adjust to butter to a more spreadable frosting consistency.

Strawberry Bread and Butter Recipe (9)

Enjoy this recipe and summer’s strawberries.

Strawberry Bread and Butter Recipe (7)

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Shishito Peppers – Culinary Memories from Spain

The other day, I picked up a package of shishito peppers at a local Asian supermarket. It’s somewhat amusing, because to me, padron peppers are associated with Spain. That’s where I had them for the first time, on my first trip to the country. In fact, they were part of the first meal my sister and I enjoyed in Madrid. The memory has stuck, and I have often ordered these relatively small and mild green peppers at Spanish tapas restaurants.

Back to the pack I bought. It has been sitting in my refrigerator for a bit too long. Every time I’d see the green peppers staring at me, I thought I should roast them or perhaps broil, but preheating the oven on these hot summer days is just unbearable. And so, today I cooked them in my trustworthy cast iron skillet. Boy, were they delicious!  I could almost taste Spain as I ate one, by one, finishing up almost the entire skillet.

Note: the same could be done with padron peppers.

Padron Peppers from Spain

Ingredients

1 tablespoon avocado oil
1 pack shishito peppers, 2-3 cups
coarse sea salt, to taste

Directions

1. Preheat cast iron skillet to high. Add oil and wait for it to start shimmering.
2. Add peppers to the skillet and cook, stirring often, until the skins begins to char and blister, about 5 minutes.
3. Season immediately with salt and eat (seeds and all!)

My smoke alarm went off several times as the peppers were cooking and continued to sound off after the peppers were off. You might want to open your windows and turn on the exhaust fan (fair warning!).

Enjoy :)

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How to “Grill” Lettuce ~ Broiled Romaine

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Salad lovers, rejoice!  Romaine lettuce, it’s your time to shine.  You are no longer the supporting role, the “bulk” or the “bed” for the salad.  You are the main ingredient!  No longer cold and chopped, you are heated and charred, held together, and presented in all of your beauty.

I’m talking about grilled lettuce.  Have you had a chance to try it yet?  I’ve had my first grilled Caesar Salad a few summers ago and was hooked.  The thing is, I don’t have a grill at home, and spent many months without this delicious take on salad.

And then, almost like in a dream, I thought of trying preparing grilled romaine under a broiler!  A miracle of miracles – it worked!

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“Grilled” Romaine Lettuce Salad

Ingredients

1 romaine lettuce

1 tablespoon of olive oil

salt and ground black pepper to taste

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Directions

1.  Slice romaine in half, lengthwise.

2.  Drizzle with olive oil on the cut side and season with salt and ground black pepper to taste.  You can use your favorite seasonings here and spices, but I chose to keep the salad simple and let the natural sweetness of romaine lettuce shine.

3.  Place lettuce on a baking sheet and broil for 3-5 minutes, or until the desired charred is reached.  I broiled mine on both sides for extra char.

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What’s next is up to you.  I topped romaine with diced cucumbers, red bell pepper, crumbled feta and basil.

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What will you put on your “Grilled” romaine?

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Easter Mini Bundt Pan Frittatas

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Easter Mini Bundt Frittatas Breakfast Recipe1

If you are celebrating Easter, I’m wishing you a Happy one!  While Easter is not in my holiday rotation, I did want to share this recipe for Easter Mini Bundt Pan Frittatas that will be ideal to make with Easter ham leftovers.  Serve this up for brunch and make an extra batch to pack for easy breakfast throughout the week.

You can certainly bake these in a standard cupcake pan, but I was fortunate to find these gorgeous mini bundt pan at my parents’ and was happy to make it my own.  The frittatas were my first project and I’m certainly looking forward to future bundt creations!

Easter Mini Bundt Pan Frittatas

Ingredients

nonstick cooking spray or vegetable oil

1 cup diced ham

1 cup diced asparagus

1 cup diced yellow bell pepper

1/4 cup diced green olives (used jalapeno stuffed)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

6 eggs

salt & pepper to taste

Directions

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and grease a 6-container bundt pan with cooking spray or vegetable oil.

2.  Combine ham, asparagus, bell pepper, olives and dill and divide evenly among the bundt pan cups.

3.  Whisk together eggs with salt and pepper and pour over the filling.

4.  Bake in the oven until puffy and the eggs are set, 20-25 minutes.

Easter Mini Bundt Frittatas Breakfast Recipe4

And that’s it guys!  Hop on over to your table to enjoy these delicious frittatas.  And as always, experiment with your favorite filling ingredients – cooked chicken, sauteed mushrooms and spinach, add a jalapeno for some spice – all appetizing possibilities!

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Passover Chocolate Covered Matzo with Hazelnuts, Cranberries and Ginger

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Cover Title Passover Chocolate Covered Matzo with Hazelnuts, Cranberries and Ginger09

Passover starts tonight.  This year I have decided to follow the no-gluten rule as a way to show my solidarity and test my will power.  To lessen the blow of giving up bread and cookies, I made this sweet Passover Chocolate Covered Matzo with Hazelnuts, Cranberries and Candied Ginger. I used the chocolate-covered-strawberry method, where I melted the chocolate with a little bit of butter and spread it over oven-toasted matzo crackers before topping them with chopped hazelnuts, cranberries and candied ginger.  This is in my opinion a much easier and faster way and gives you a splendid result.

Let’s give it a try!

Passover Chocolate Covered Matzo with Hazelnuts, Cranberries and Candied Ginger

Ingredients

9 matzo crackers

24 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

2 tablespoons butter

3 cups roasted hazelnuts, chopped

2 cups dried cranberries, chopped

1 cup candied ginger, chopped

Directions

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line 3 baking sheets with aluminum foil and arrange matzo evenly among the sheets.  You might need to break a few crackers in half.

Passover Chocolate Covered Matzo with Hazelnuts, Cranberries and Ginger

2.  Toast matzo in the oven for 10 minutes.

3.  Place chocolate in a large microwave-safe bowl and melt in the microwave at 30-second intervals, stirring in between with a spatula.  Once melted, stir in butter.

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4.  Spread chocolate evenly over matzo crackers and sprinkle with hazelnuts, cranberries and candied ginger, lightly pressing the toppings into the chocolate.

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5.  Set the matzo crackers at room temperature or refrigerator before breaking into individual pieces.

Now that you know the basic method and proportions, it’s time to play.  Try this with sea salt, candied orange, different types of nuts, or a drizzle of white chocolate over the top.

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I wish you all a happy Passover.  May you have a sweet year.

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My Love Affair with Burrata Cheese

Burrata Love Affair0

And so begins my love affair with Burrata. The what?  Burrata is Italian cheese made out of water buffalo or cow’s milk. Think of it as a sphere that holds a creamy, soft, decadent cheese inside that is encased in a fresh, stretched mozzarella.  Apart from calling it burrata, I prefer to refer to it as Angel Pillows.  I imagine angels resting their heads on burrata as they fall asleep.

The other day I went to DeLaurenti and Pike Place Market to pick up a few must-have items.  In my bag, I collected burrata, broccolini, tomatoes, olive roll, watermelon, rainbow olives, and Castelvetrano olives.

The fist night, I roasted broccolini and carrots (simply drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with salt and ground black pepper, broccolini got a healthy sprinkle of garlic).  Give this a try in a 425 F for 15 minutes.

I drizzled the broccolini with pomegranate molasses and added a few slices of burrata.  Once the plate was composed and photographed, I quickly moved burrata to a toasted olive bread and cheered my success with a glass of white wine.

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Two days later, I could hardly wait until breakfast.  The whole grain slice of bread was already getting warm and crisp in the toaster.  The tomatoes were sliced and lightly salted.  The olives scattered on the plate.  Then it came time to delicately slice a ball of burrata cheese.  Be gently, you don’t want the creamy filling to ooze out.  Once out of a toaster, I quickly topped the bread with slices of burrata and a drizzle of olive oil.  And then I inhaled and took a bite.

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And just for fun, here’s a shot of what some of my plates really look like, when they are not photographed.

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Your turn!  Are you having a love affair right now? Do share – keep it PG13 please :)

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Preserving Herbs: Dry Freezing

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How to Preserve Herbs ~ Freezing3

How is it that there is always a bag of herbs, slowly wilting in my fridge?  I try my best to use them up, wash and dry them ahead of time, but still I fail.  It seems that almost weekly I end up throwing out bunches of cilantro and parsley.  I’m sorry my dears! I wish I would have taken better care of you.

In the past, to solve this unfortunate death, I’ve made pesto, and froze it in ice cube trays for later use in sauces, soups, etc.  But what if I didn’t want to use oil, salt, pepper, garlic, etc. to store the herbs?

In comes my friend Dana.  When visiting her home, I peaked into her freezer to find a glass jar with something green inside.  Turns out it was parsley!  Dana claims her family has been using this freezer method to preserve herbs for ages.  Good enough for them?  Good enough for me!

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The method is quite simple.  You start by thoroughly washing and drying herbs.  A salad spinner works like a charm, or you could dry them in multiple layers of kitchen towels.  If you would normally not eat the stems of the herb you are preserving, go ahead and discard the stems (or better yet, save them in the freezer to flavor soups and stocks).

All clean and dry?  It’s time to get chopping.  I used my mini food processor to chop the herbs, but you can certainly use a knife.  I’d suggest going for a rough chop vs a mince, you don’t want to release too much juice.

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Once you are all chopped up, transfer the herbs to a freezer-safe container.  You might want to even label and date the containers.  Try freezing individual herbs  or make a blend of a few.

They stay bright green and fragrant.  So much better than premature death, don’t you think? :)

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April Fools’ Day Meatloaf Cupcakes with Mashed Potatoes Frosting

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Meatloaf Cupcakes with Mashed Potatoes Frosting1

Happy April Fools’ Day.  Have you been fooled today yet?  The day is still young.  While there are no announcements of engagement, pregnancy, or moving to Australia in this post (who am I kidding?), I am going to share with you this April Fools’ Day recipe and video I got to style for Allrecipes.com ~ Meatloaf Cupcakes with Mashed Potatoes Frosting.  These are so believable, you might just fool your friends and family at dinner.  Better yet, they are also delicious.

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For the frosting, I chose to color the mashed potatoes with red and green food coloring.  Feel free to pick your own colors and try going with natural colors, using beet and spinach juice (or even blueberry juice).  Add as much color as your wish to achieve desired shade, but don’t go too wild, making sure the color is still frosting-believable.

When it came to decorating, I designed Vanilla Raspberry cupcakes with natural mashed potatoes and cherry tomatoes, Strawberry Shortcake with red mashed potatoes and Parmesan cheese, and Mint Chocolate with green mashed potatoes and bacon bits.  What combinations will you come up with?

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Be sure to check out this video to see how to make the Meatloaf Cupcakes with Mashed Potatoes Frosting: http://allrecipes.com/video/4506/meatloaf-cupcakes/detail.aspx

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Thai Sticky Rice with Mangoes from Pok Pok Restaurant ~ Dessert


Thai Sticky Rice with Mangoes Recipe08

The last time you dined at a Thai restaurant, do you remember what you ordered for dessert?  More likely than not, you enjoyed a bowl of sticky rice, topped with sweet mango.  If you were lucky enough to taste this at a Portland Pok Pok, consider yourself lucky.  This is probably one of the most talked about Thai restaurant in the United States.  Although I haven’t had a chance to eat at Pok Pok yet, I got a chance to try many of its dishes few weeks ago, during my cookbook club meeting.  Our cookbook selection was Pok Pok: Food and Stories from the Streets, Homes, and Roadside Restaurants of Thailand” by Any Ricker, JJ Goode, Austin Bush and David Thompson.

Among the dishes, there was pad thai, fried egg salad, pork ribs, and much more.  For my selection, I picked Andy’s recipe for Sweet Sticky Rice with Mangoes and Sesame Seeds, published in Food & Wine magazine.

You can find the full recipe on the site.  I found out, later, that it was different from one published in the book, perhaps an easier, more shortcut version.  In this version, the rice is prepared in the microwave instead of steaming, and there are several ingredients missing, that perhaps could be harder to find at a local grocery store.

As such, I adjusted the Food & Wine published recipe but cutting down on the salt and adding vanilla to the coconut sauce.  I also chose to use black sesame seeds to offer contrast to white rice and yellow mangoes.

You start by combining coconut milk with sugar and salt in a saucepan and simmering it until slightly thickened and the sugar melts.  Feel free to throw in a vanilla bean into the sauce.

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For the rice, you might need to head down to your closest Asian grocery store.  You’re looking for long grain Thai rice, also called sweet, sticky, or glutinous rice.

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Soak the rice for an hour, then rinse it, and cook in the microwave in three stages, until it’s tender.

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Meanwhile, you’ll make the second batch of coconut sauce (i added a vanilla bean to this one as well) with sugar and salt – you will add it to the cooked rice and stir it in until it’s fully absorbed.  Be sure both the rice and the sauce are still warm.

Toast black sesame seeds and peel and slice mangoes.  If at all possible, it’s best to use champagne mangoes.

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Serve the rice in individual bowls along with coconut sauce (the first batch you made), mangoes, and sesame seeds.  I arranged the mangoes over the bowl of rice and sprinkled with sesame seeds – looks like a happy bumble bee, doesn’t it?

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Faro and Vegetable Salad Recipe

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Do you love whole grains?  Are you a fan of bringing in daily lunch but making it only once a week?  Are you tired of pb&j sandwiches?  Then this Faro and Vegetable Salad just might be what you will want to make and pack up for your daily lunch this week.  Packed with nutrients and vitamins, it’s colorful, cheerful, crunchy, and delicious.  The zesty lemon-mustard dressing is light and can be kept separate from the salad, to be added right before serving.  Don’t have faro on hand?  This will work equally well with brown rice and wheat berries.

Faro and Vegetable Salad

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Ingredients

1 cup faro
2 cups water
1 bunch kale, torn into pieces
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1/2 English cucumber, diced
2 large tomatoes, diced
2 carrots, shredded
2 tablespoons dill, chopped

Dressing:
1 lime, juiced
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Faro and Vegetable Salad

Directions

1.  Add faro and water to a medium saucepan over medium high heat.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer faro until tender, about 15 minutes.  Add in kale, cover, and let sit for a few minutes for kale to wilt.

2.  Combine cooled faro and kale with the remaining vegetables.

3.  Whisk together dressing and pour over faro and vegetables.  Toss gently.

Pack this lunch daily and you’ll be happily fed.  Want to mix it up?  Add grilled chicken, tofu, or shrimp along with the salad.  Love cheese?  Add crumbled feta cheese to your daily lunch.  As the salad sits in the fridge, the vegetables take on somewhat of a marinated quality and the faro soaks up the dressing nicely.

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Borscht ~ Russian Vegetarian Beet Soup Recipe

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Borscht Russian Beet Soup Recipe

Before I begin with the recipe, I do admit to the Russian name of the soup not having a “t” at the end.  But this is in English, so we will stick with Borscht.  Now, I have grown up eating this hearty, ruby red soup prepared lovingly by my Dad.  In fact, I just ate a bowl at my parents’ house tonight, and it was as usual, the best.  But sometimes, I want to make borscht at home, and this is my quick, one-pot version of my dad’s recipe.

The are numerous of recipes for borscht out there, with each family using their own particular technique and a set of ingredients.  But for the most part, there are a few must-have ingredients: beets, cabbage, and carrots. The rest?  It’s up to you!  I was out of potatoes, but normally would put those in as well.  Celery, celery root, and even zucchini are great additions to the soup.

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Borscht ~ Russian Vegetarian Beet Soup

Ingredients

1 tablespoon sunflower oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 beets, peeled and sliced
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
3 carrots, diced
4-6 cups of water (can substitute vegetable broth or chicken/beef stock for a non-vegetarian version)
1 small head of cabbage, chopped
salt and ground black pepper to taste
juice of 1 lemon, about 2 tablespoons
1-2 teaspoons of sugar

Serve with: Russian black bread, dill, sour cream

Directions

1.  Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium high heat.  Add onion and cook for 10 minutes.

2.  Add beets to the onion and cook for another ten minutes.

3.  Add garlic and carrots and cook for another five minutes.  At this point, you can also add a few tablespoons of tomato paste.

4.  Pour in water (or stock), making sure the vegetables are covered by a few inches.  Bring to a boil.  If you were using potatoes, you’d add them now, and cook half way through.

5. Lower the heat to medium and stir in cabbage. Cook just until the cabbage is wilted.

6. Season with salt, pepper, lemon juice and sugar.

Soup is ready!  Add a dollop of sour cream and freshly chopped herbs (dill, parsley, even cilantro).  I often serve it with fresh grated garlic for an extra kick and a dash of hot sauce.

Borscht Russian Beet Soup Recipe13

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Brine Your Chickens!

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I have a confession to make.  Yesterday I made my first brined chicken.  For someone who has been cooking for quite some time, it’s honestly shameful.  Why have I roasted whole chickens without brining them first in all the previous years?  This overnight brined chicken was ridiculously juicy, tender, and flavorful.

Roasted Chicken Brine Recipe

I got to test the brining method on the set of Allrecipes.com video studio, using the Simple Chicken Brine recipe.  The recipe was indeed, simple.  A mix of water, salt, sugar, soy sauce and olive oil.  I resisted adjusting the recipe by adding extra seasonings and herbs, but will experiment the next time I decide to brine.

The whole chicken bathed in the brine overnight, then got rinsed and patted dry.  I stuffed it with lemon, fresh thyme, onion and celery before getting it into a hot oven, seated on a bed of more onion and celery.

Roast the chicken in a 400 degrees F oven for about an hour – depending on the size.  Make sure the internal temperature registers at 165 degrees F.  Allow the bird to rest, loosely covered with foil, to keep warm, before carving.  One of the benefits of brining, is even a bird that might be slightly overcooked, will still be juicy.

If every chicken I ate came out looking so beautiful and delicious, I’d be a happy girl!

Keep an eye out for a video to show you how we made the brine.

Would love to hear your experience in brining – do you have a favorite recipe to share?

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Valentine’s Sweetheart Cupcakes – Recipe & Video

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Happy Valentine’s Day.  I hope that we all have the love in our lives worth of appreciating and celebrating.  Whether it’s the love of the parents, siblings, friends, or platonic.  Let’s wish someone in your life happy love day.

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And with that, how about a cupcake?  I worked on this recipe video for Allrecipes.com and today is the perfect day for sharing!  With the recipe, I would recommend using a regular yellow cake (instead of white), or your own from-scratch recipe.  The layering of colors is not as intimidating as it might look or sound – just take your time, and be careful of not inserting too much air into the cupcakes.

These are the perfect fun and decorative cupcakes to make for any holidays – just change the color scheme and you have Halloween, St. Patrick’s Day and Easter cupcakes at your disposal.

Recipe: Sweetheart Cucpakes

Video:

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Favorite Russian Recipes

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With the eyes on Russia, for multiple reasons these days, Winter Olympics being one of them, I wanted to share with you some of my favorite Russian recipes that I included in this blog.

Russian Style Beef Kabobs : Shashliki

Shashliki - Russian Beef Kabobs

Pickled Cabbage and Beets Salad

Russian Pickling Cabbage with Carrots Recipe How to Pickle1

Pickled Cabbage with Carrots Salad

Below are a few recipes with beets, potatoes, and other Russian staple ingredients:

Potato Salad

Roasted Beet Salad

roasted beet salad

Beef Tongue Tacos

Seahawks vs Broncos – Who is Going to Win the Superbowl?

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You guys! This must be the most I’ve ever talked about football….EVER!  But with all honesty, the talk is all centered about the food associated with the Superbowl, and especially with the two teams that are in the playoffs this year: Seahawks (Go Seattle!) and Broncos (I do love the color orange).

Before you claim you seat on the couch to watch the game this Sunday, I wanted to share two more videos that our Video team at Allrecipes.com produced this week.

First, check out this video for a flavorful Seahawk Burger that proudly represents Seattle with Starbucks espresso, Washington wine, and Beecher’s cheese.

Now, how do you think it’d stack against the Bronco Burger?

Cast your votes, and let’s see who is going to win the game this Sunday.  Go Seattle!

Allrecipes Builds a Snack Stadium – See How

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The snack stadiums are popping up everywhere these days.  Football fields filled with guacamole, hummus, and nacho dips, surrounded by chips, crackers, sandwiches, and maybe carrot sticks and celery sticks for a healthy measure.

Of course, we at Allrecipes.com had to build our own.   It was certainly a team effort from planning to assembling, to recording.  And how fun it was!  No worries, we donated most of the leftovers from the stadium and made lots of hungry people happy.

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Ready to build your own?  Take inspiration and direction from our video.

Savory French Toast

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Savory French Toast

Before I grew up into loving sweet French Toast, enjoying the custard soaked thick slices of challah bread, sometimes dusted with confectioners’ sugar or dunked into heated maple syrup, I remember gobbling up bites of Savory French Toast.  I was still a child, and if memory serves me correctly, this dish was prepared by my Dad for special weekend mornings.  I’m sure my Mom has made that as well a time or two.

This is my take on this childhood recipe – Savory French Toast.

Ingredients

2 eggs

2 tablespoons half & half

2 tablespoons milk

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

4 Brioche slices

1 tablespoon olive oil

Serve with: smoked salmon, cucumber and tomato salad

Directions

1.  Whisk together eggs, half & half, milk and the spices.

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2.  Coat brioche slices in the egg custard.

3.  Heat oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat.

4.  Cook brioche  3-4 minutes per side, until golden brown and cooked through.

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If you are looking to add more flavor, consider sprinkling the toast with grated Parmesan cheese and watch it melt!

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Aside

Beast Mode Vodka ~ Seahawks Football

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It’s not every day that the Allrecipes.com video team searches for Skittles candy at 8:30 am.  We were, however, on a special assignnment to make the Video for the Beast Mode Vodka to celebrate our local football team ~ Seahawks!

Do I admit that I don’t watch football?  Do I admit that to me, “football” still means “soccer”?  Do I admit any of this?  Perhaps, I do not.

Instead I will admit to how fun it was to separate 9 large bags of Skittles Darkside candy into the Seahwaks blue and green colors.

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If you are a fan of Seattle Seahawks and want to make this flavored vodka to cheer during the game, do follow the recipe.  If you happen to cheer for a different team, you could use a different color of Skittles to match.

Ready for the video?  Check out the Allrecipes production of this Beast Mode Vodka Recipe:

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