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SWIRL KITCHEN: ROASTED RADISHES WITH BROWN BUTTER SAUCE


Prior to focusing on eating less carbs I don't think I really thought about radishes at all. I mean, if they were in a salad at a restaurant I would eat them, but I never bought them. But then I read that they are super low in carbs, so I decided to see what I could do with them. 

Last week I think I created the holy grail of radish recipes and it is seriously SO EASY. 

 

ROASTED RADISHES WITH BROWN BUTTER SAUCE

  • Preheat the oven to 450
  • Clean the radishes
  • Slice off the ends (you could use the tops, but I didn't because I had purchased my radishes at a Japanese grocery store that had already cut the ends off) 
  • Slice the radishes in half and place in small bowl
  • Mix in Olive Oil and sprinkle some pink salt
  • Pour onto a cookie sheet and roast for about 15 minutes
    • If you want them a little crispy you may want to cook them a little longer
    • Stir 1/2 way through
  • Pull them out 
  • Then melt some grass fed butter with another pinch of pink salt until it starts to slightly brown
  • Plate your radishes and pour butter sauce over top and then garnish with parsley

Beautiful! My daughter was skeptical when I told her what I was making (that is usually her first response to my experiments;) but she LOVED them! This will now be a regular side dish for us! 

ROASTED RADISHES WITH BROWN BUTTER SAUCE by Jen Fisch via Swirl Nation Blog

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SWIRL KITCHEN: SHRIMP AND CHICKEN LETTUCE CUPS


Curried chicken

Curried chicken

If you are looking for the perfect summer dinner this is it! It is quick and doesn't require too much cooking. 

 

CURRIED SHRIMP AND LETTUCE CUPS

For chicken: 

  • Heat oven to 425
  • Cover two chicken breasts with curry spice (any organic curry mix is fine), salt and pepper. Then drizzle olive oil over top and place in oven for approximately 15 minutes. 

For shrimp: 

  • Heat skillet to medium and add 1tbsp of olive oil 
  • Sprinkle with curry spice, salt and pepper on top of shrimp and place in skillet.
  • Cook a couple minutes on each side until shrimp look pink

 

Sauce mixture: 

  • Get a bowl and mix 1/4c of mayo, 1/4c of Greek yogurt, and half a small dallop of something sweet. I used Walden Farms Calorie Free maple syrup because it doesn't have carbs. If you aren't Keto you can use honey. Mix together. 
  • Then add 1/8c of golden raisins, 1 piece of celery chopped small, and a small bunch of purple grapes sliced in half. Set aside. 

 

Assemble: 

  • Add sauce mixture to lettuce cups
  • Place protein on top
  • Add cashews for crunch 

And serve! Delicious! 

Curried shrimp

Curried shrimp


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SWIRL KITCHEN: BACON DEVILED EGGS ARE THE BEST DEVILED EGGS


This week I am sharing a different low carb recipe every day! I love to cook and get creative with food, so I hope you enjoy the recipes and let me know if you try any of them! First up is Deviled Eggs! I LOVE deviled eggs. Like LOVE! So I make them a lot. My all-time favorite is BLT Deviled Eggs. I've been making them forever and they are always a crowd pleaser.

 

BLT DEVILED EGGS

  • Cut eggs in half (obviously)
  • Place yolks into a bowl and mash them together (I use a fork)
  • Then I place a mixture of mayo and sour cream with the egg yolks. 2 parts mayo, 1 part sour cream. I think this is a key part and what makes my eggs different than most people's, the sour cream is delish! 
  • Once it is mixed smooth I add pepper and ground Pink Himalayan Salt
  • Place the mixture in a ziploc bag, cut a small corner and fill the eggs

Then the toppings are bacon, sliced tomatoes, basil and paprika

  • Break up crispy bacon into small pieces
  • Cut up tomatoes into small slices, it is important that you only use the tomato skin- the insides of the tomato will make your eggs weird and mushy
  • Cut small pieces of fresh basil 
  • Finally top with a small amount of paprika

AMAZING! 

SWIRL KITCHEN: BACON DEVILED EGGS ARE THE BEST DEVILED EGGS via Swirl Nation Blog

If you don't have basil or tomatoes handy you can of course just make them with bacon and paprika and they will still be amazing! 

SWIRL KITCHEN: BACON DEVILED EGGS ARE THE BEST DEVILED EGGS via Swirl Nation Blog

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SWIRL KITCHEN: EATALY, CHICAGO


EATALY: 43 EAST OHIO ST, CHICAGO, 60611

Living in Chicago has afforded me the chance to be completely exposed to all different types of foods from all over the world. Whether I want to eat in Greektown, grab a coffee in Wicker Park, dine on deep dish in South Loop, or head over to the luxuries of River North I am surrounded by different eateries. I will say I have not explored the city half as much as I would like to be completely settled on a favorite place, but instead think of where I suggest most for my friends to eat and dine.

When I started working at Eataly as a fine dining hostess I had very rough idea of what Italian food was and that Olive Garden was pretty much the peak of that. Don’t get me wrong after reading this post because I love Olive Garden and would still dine there in a heartbeat because, breadsticks/salad- YES. Eataly, takes Italian to a whole other level by brining the traditional, cultural flavors of Italy to America.  The two-story facility here in Chicago provides a variety of different restaurants, a deli, pastry shop, wine retailer, cheese shop, bakery, gelato bar and so much more inside.

So why Eataly? It revolutionizes the idea of Italian food by bringing you imported Italian products and serving up menu’s that are specific to the Italian culture. You will not find Chicken Alfredo, breadsticks, or salad to accompany your plates of food. Instead you can get fresh meat/cheese boards, olive oil and hand cut bread, hand-rolled pasta and in house fresh mozzarella. Eataly is an experience, and while it sounds like I’m marketing for it, I promise you I advocate that facility alone is an experience worth having. It pushes customers outside of their comfort zones by giving you taste/flavors that are specific to this culture instead of an Americanized version of them. As of now there are two current Eataly facilities in the United States (NYC/Chicago) with current plans to open an L.A./Vegas/DC/Philadelphia in the impending future.


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SWIRL KITCHEN: HAPA CUPCAKES, FULLERTON


HAPA CUPCAKES: 105 W. AMERIEGE AVENUE, FULLERTON, CA 92832

The following post has been a while in the making. First I tweeted (maybe more than once). Then I found them on Instagram, so of course, I had to follow them… And like all their photo’s in the process. I admit it, I kinda stalked the ladies of Hapa Cupcakes, but guess what? It worked. Not only did they partake in Hapa Hour, but they also invited me to their bakery when I was in town a couple of months back. This does not mean you should go out and stalk someone until you get the results you want….

Sadly, I did not get to meet Hanayo Martin and Akemi Lee. However, their employees were expecting me and they let me pick out 4 different cupcakes and a mini cake to take home! So sweet of them!

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     This mini carrot cake was so cute I didn’t want to cut it…

This mini carrot cake was so cute I didn’t want to cut it…

I love carrot cake. I think people underestimate it. I had such a difficult time picking out my cupcakes.

I love carrot cake. I think people underestimate it. I had such a difficult time picking out my cupcakes.

I finally ended up with: Whiskey Oreo cookie, Kahlua Mocha, Strawberry Champagne with Chocolate Frosting, and Strawberry Cheesecake.  Hapa Cupcakes are known for their liquor infused creations. The Whiskey Oreo Cookie Cupcake was great. The Strawberry Cheesecake was great too!  My Mom and Grandmama loved the Kahlua Mocha one the best. I, however, loved the Strawberry and Champagne Cupcake with Chocolate Frosting.

I have to say these were some of the best cupcakes I have had, and I’m a cupcake snob from living in NYC. The cakes were perfectly moist and those frostings! Oh man, wish Hapa Cupcakes could ship me a tub of that! It’s easy to see how they were on Food Network’s Cupcake Wars.

If you live anywhere near Hapa Cupcakes in Fullerton, California, you must go. Sorry NYC, there isn’t one here. Maybe if I bug Akemi and Hanayo enough they will open one out here.

For more info on Hapa Cupcakes please visit their website.


 

 

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SWIRL KITCHEN: EL CHALAN AND CHI.CHE, MIAMI


I moved to Texas from Miami three years ago and I have yet to find a good Peruvian restaurant.  For this reason, I always look forward to my yearly trips to Miami.  I love seeing my family and enjoying the home-cooked Peruvian classics my father-in-law lovingly prepares for us.  Ceviche mixto, lomo saltado, his special quinoa with chicken and Peruvian aji amarillo.  I also enjoy eating out at Peruvian restaurants.  My two favorites: El Chalan and CVI.CHE 105.  El Chalan is like a mom-and-pop local eatery where Peruvian food is served comfort-food style.  CVI.CHE 105 is your bourgeois, but not-too-pricey, restaurant serving the cuisine in a fancy-foodie style.

 

El Chalan Restaurant: 7971 Bird Road #17, Miami FL 33155

The description on Google explains it all: “Humble strip-mall outfit with an array of down-home Peruvian fare such as ceviche & lomo saltado.”  But don’t let that description deter you from trying it.  Walking in, you will notice pictures of Macchu Picchu and Peruvian gauchos on the wall.  A soccer game or Peruvian tourist videos will be playing on the TV.  You will most likely not hear any English being spoken (there are English-speaking servers, but maybe take this opportunity to practice your Spanish).  There is nothing fancy about this restaurant.  My favorite dish to order at this restaurant is Chupe de Camarones, or seafood soup.  It is absolutely delicious.  It isn’t light like a lot of seafood soups.  It is hearty and spicy with the right balance of seafood, vegetables, and rice.  I also like Tallarin Verdes, Lomo Saltado (of course), and Tallarin Saltado de Mariscos.  Yum Yum!  The restaurant only has a Facebook page and it hasn’t been updated in 9 months, but an abbreviated menu is available on Google.

 

CVI.CHE 105: 105 NE 3rd Avenue, Miami, FL 33132

For a little fancier atmosphere with equally good food, try CVI.CHE 105.  So I just went to the website and my mouth just watered – oh, Pavlov…  So what to try?  EVERYTHING.  When we had visitors to Miami, we always took them here.  The drinks are delicious (Pisco Sours and Mojitos).  They have an assortment of Peruvian Ceviches and Tiraditos – they were voted best ceviche in Miami four years in a row.  The Causas are delicious, they even have one, Causa Montada con Pulpito al Olivo, that combines Cause with one of my favorite Peruvian dishes of octopus smothered in a creamy black olive sauce.  There is a section of the menu called “Peruvian Classics”.  This is where you find the Lomo Saltado, Aji de Gallina, along with dishes like Risotto Fillet which has filet mignon and shrimp on a bed of parmesan and mushroom risotto. I just drooled on my keyboard.  My favorite desserts here are Suspiro Limena and Mousse de Lucuma.  Suspiro means “sigh” in Spanish, and the dessert is totally a light lemon-y flavor with a creamy merengue on top.  Lucuma…  so lucuma is a fruit found in the amazon that tastes like nutty pecan and sweet potato mixed together.  The mousse is rich and every bit worth the calories.  CVI.CHE 105 does have a website.   Make a reservation before you visit.  I just learned via the website, there is a South Beach location too.


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SWIRL COCKTAILS: THE OLD FASHIONED


So when I walk into a bar, or better yet, mix my own drink at home, my one and only goal is to have myself a drink that makes me feel like Don Draper in the first couple seasons of “Mad Men.” Back when he was cool, in control and stylish, unlike his sloppier self later in the series.

Yes,   this   Don Draper. Peggy Olson’s looking pretty slick, too, I have to admit.

Yes, this Don Draper. Peggy Olson’s looking pretty slick, too, I have to admit.

Before you get on my case for making Don Draper’s drink of choice my drink of choice, I know, a privileged white man from the 60s isn’t the best cocktail (or life) role model for a young Hapa girl. Especially one whose drinking genetics definitely leave her with that certain “glow” after a cocktail or two… But, you’ve got to admit that he’s got his classic cool down pat and who can blame a girl for wanting to exude some of that?

 

I could tell you the recipes to some of my go to drinks at the moment, but they tend to be only a one or two ingredient kind of deal: whiskey on the rocks, whiskey and soda, whiskey. They’re pretty self explanatory.

 

Instead, I’ll turn my attention to the Old Fashioned--don’t worry, I’m not going to give you a history lesson. An Old Fashioned is something you’ve probably seen on a number of cocktail menus, or at least a variation of it, and let me tell you--it is tasty… As long as you like your whiskey. From what I gather, this drink has been around since the 1800s and for good reason. It’s a little sweet, a little citrus-y, and it’s not something your bartender can just water down, since it’s almost all parts booze.

 

So mix you and your friends up a couple, slick your hair back, and do your best Don Draper imitation. Winner gets to mix the second round.

What you need:

-Pick a good rye or bourbon whiskey (I personally enjoy Bulleit Rye, since it’s a little more budget friendly, but still makes you feel a little like a bootlegger.)

-1 sugar cube or ½ a tablespoon of loose sugar

-Angostura bitters

-Ice cube(s) if you’ve got the nice big block cubes that could easily break a window if thrown, just use one, but you may need a few if you’re using regular ice tray-sized cubes

-Splash of water

-Orange peel and a lighter (If you’re an Old Fashioned snob, you won’t add the orange or the cherry, but if you like a little fruit action, go for it.)

-Maraschino cherry (Read above.)

 

How to make it:

  1. Put the sugar cube or ½ tablespoon of sugar in your glass and splash 2 or 3 dashes of Angostura bitters onto the sugar.

  2. Add no more than a splash of water to it.

  3. If you’re adding a maraschino cherry, drop it in now.

  4. Muddle everything together using a muddler (If you’re fancy) or a spoon (If you’re like me).

  5. Add the ice cube(s).

  6. Pour in 2 oz. of whiskey.

  7. Now here’s where you get really swanky: Take your orange peel and a lighter, singe the orange peel just a little, twist the orange peel directly over your drink so the zest/orange oil will hit the surface of the Old Fashioned and then plink the same orange peel into the Old Fashioned.

  8. Cheers! (Or if you’re drinking alone… Well. We don’t judge here.)

 

Until next time!


 

 

 

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SWIRL KITCHEN: EASY PULLED PORK TACOS


Easy Pulled Pork Tacos:

Beautiful image via Pinterest

Beautiful image via Pinterest

  • White corn tortillas (fresher, the better)
  • Trader Joe's Pulled Pork (cooked according to package directions)
  • Freshly chopped Cilantro
  • Pico de gallo or Mango Salsa

Assemble. Add queso fresco and/or avocado as a tasty garnish.

Done!

Beautiful image via Pinterest

Beautiful image via Pinterest


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SWIRL KITCHEN: VEGAN TACO SALAD


I love most kinds of food, but I definitely find myself craving the flavors and different options that ethnic foods offer. My world has really only recently been opened to ethnic food, but so far it has been a magical journey full of delicious foods. I’ve only scratched the surface of my ethnic food options, but I also don’t live in a very ethnically diverse area that demands quality food. Of all the foods I love though, my go-to for cooking myself is Mexican (or what we Americans call Mexican).

 

About two years ago I decided to try eating a vegan diet. I have digestive issues and I was told I was lactose intolerant many years ago (I chose to ignore it for a long time, but the older I get, the harder it is to ignore). Alas, a few weeks after cutting out dairy and meat, my stomach was already feeling better. Since then, I’ve done my best to stick with it and the easiest meal to make is usually some sort of Mexican dish. Basically, you can put a bunch of veggies, beans and rice together with some guacamole in a bowl, some tacos, or a burrito and you have yourself a delicious meal.

 

Recently, I was craving guacamole (which I do pretty much every day), but was also in the mood for salad. I decided to try my hand at a taco salad and was not disappointed. The salad quickly rose to the top of my Mexican dish list and I will probably make it once a week for several weeks in a row. I didn’t follow any exact recipe and you can find some really good ones out there on the interwebs, but here’s basically what I did:

  • ½ red pepper - diced into ¼ inch squares or in strips
  • ½ yellow pepper
  • ½ green pepper
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 bag of baby spinach or whatever greens you like
  • A bit of your favorite salsa or some pico de gallo
  • 1 bag Beyond Meat Feisty “Beef” Crumbles (or you can use a 15oz can of black beans or 1lb of hamburger meat or chicken)
  • 1 packet of taco seasoning (it’s also pretty easy to find a recipe to make a healthier version yourself)
  • ½ cup of Creamy Cumin Ranch Dressing - I used about ¾ cup of vegan mayonnaise instead of cashews and added a bit more smoked paprika and a bit more cumin. Just add little pinches and keep tasting it. To be honest, the dressing doesn’t taste that great by itself, but mixed with the other ingredients, it takes the salad to another level. Another very delicious level! You can also use a different dressing like a Southwest Ranch or an Avocado Lime. Both would be amazing!

In a large pan, saute all the veggies together with some olive oil. Once they are soft sprinkle a bit of the taco seasoning on them until they are evenly coated to your liking.

In the other pan, make the Feisty Crumbles according the the directions. Once they are heated through, add about ¾ of the taco seasoning and ½ cup water. Cook for about 5-7 more minutes until the water is absorbed. If using beans, drain and rinse them first. Then cook for a few minutes and add ½ the packet of seasoning or less depending on what you like. If using meat, brown or cook thoroughly. Then following the directions on the seasoning.  

Put a layer of greens down, then meat, then veggies, salsa, avocado and dressing. Voila! A delicious taco salad that satisfies the Mexican and salad cravings wonderfully!

Happy Cinco de Mayo!! Enjoy!!


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BACON WRAPPED CHEESY JALAPENOS


Photo from Sally's Baking Addiction, click photo for original recipe. 

Photo from Sally's Baking Addiction, click photo for original recipe. 

I love bacon. I actually don’t really trust anyone who doesn’t love bacon. Now that I eat ketogenic (high fat, moderate protein, and low carbs) I have to get a little bit creative with my Cinco De Mayo choices, but I can eat all the bacon I want so I present you with Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers! I found this recipe on Pinterest originally and tweaked it a little bit, it is super easy and super delicious!

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 fresh jalapeño peppers
  • 2tbsp cream cheese (softened to room temperature or I used whipped cream cheese)
  • 1tbsp of shredded cheese (I used Mexican blend)
  • 3 slices of bacon cut in half
  • 6 toothpicks

 

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.

 

Cut the stems off of the jalapenos and then slice the peppers in half. Clean out the ribs and all of the seeds.

 

Mix the cream cheese and shredded cheese together and stuff the peppers. Take ½ a slice of bacon and wrap it around the pepper and secure with a toothpick. You could probably actually use a whole piece of bacon and really wrap that pepper up! 

 

Place them in a baking dish (I used a square glass pan) and bake them for about 30 minutes or until the bacon looks crispy.

 


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SWIRL FAMILY TRADITIONS: NORWEGIAN BAKING


My Grandma Betty and I circa 1980:) 

My Grandma Betty and I circa 1980:) 

This week we’re sharing a cultural tradition or event we each appreciate. Whenever I think of my upbringing I always think of Norwegian baking. My Grandma Betty was always baking something and my mom has carried on some of her recipes during the holidays.

 

The three treats that always show up to holiday meals are: 

  • Sandbakkels

  • Lefse

  • Rosettes

 

 

SANDBAKKELS

My favorites are Sandbakkels, which are delicious Norwegian cookies that are made in miniature tins. I’ve never made them, but I love to eat them! I would describe them as almond cookie tartlets.

My mom uses a recipe from an old Minnesota cookbook. She uses “Helga Hagen’s” recipe as seen in the photo below.

You can fill the tartlets with whatever you want. We usually keep it simple and put homemade whipped cream with fruit inside (blueberries and raspberries usually), but you can get creative! 

 

LEFSE

http://adamturman.blogspot.com/2008/06/yeah-sure-youbetcha-lets-have-lefse.html

http://adamturman.blogspot.com/2008/06/yeah-sure-youbetcha-lets-have-lefse.html

I think every Scandinavian family probably has lefse on their table. I always describe it as something between a tortilla and a crepe. It is made with potatoes. My Grandma Betty always made her own, but my mom buys it. She used to buy it from some women in her hometown of Fairmont, MN but now she buys it at AJ’s Fine Food near her house in Arizona.

Then my mom whips up a butter sugar mixture to spread on the inside. My daughter loves that part and she helps spread it on all the lefse and then rolls them up. The end result is a plate stacked high with yummy lefse!

Here is a cute video of a Norwegian-American couple making lefse. Uff da! 

SWIRL FAMILY TRADITIONS NORWEGIAN BAKING via Swirl Nation Blog
 

ROSETTES

Rosettes are beautiful! They look like fried snowflakes that you sprinkle granulated or powdered sugar on top of at the end. These cookies are made in many different cultures, it’s not just a Scandinavian thing. I know in Mexico they are called Buñuelos, and I have read that in Asia they often use coconut milk instead of regular milk. Universally yummy! Here is a video on how to make them.

Enjoy! Let me know if you've tried any of these treats before! 






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SWIRL COCKTAIL ROUND UP!



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SWIRL COCKTAILS: ME, MYSELF, AND MARGARITA


Me, myself, and margarita!

One of my recent margarita conquests

One of my recent margarita conquests

Did you know last Monday, February 22, was National Margarita Day? I know what you’re thinking – it’s not May, yet. Everyone knows the margarita's official holiday is on Cinco de Mayo.

If you missed the national holiday celebrating one of my favorite cocktails, don’t worry. Cinco de Drinko is only a couple of months away, and if you can’t wait that long, Taco Tuesday comes around once a week. Or I’m sure it’s 5 o’clock somewhere. What I'm saying is, don't limit yourself.

If it wasn’t obvious, I looove a margarita. Since my first one at 18, I’ve been hooked! Yes, 18, but I was in Mexico – calm down. There’s just something about that tequila mixed with simple syrup.

Growing up in California, it wasn’t hard to find a good Mexican food restaurant. Ugh, I miss good Mexican food. I’m in Washington now, and it’s just not the same….

Sorry, back to margaritas, I got sidetracked talking about food, but what’s new.

Picture of my margarita on 4th of July, last year   

Picture of my margarita on 4th of July, last year

 

If you look on the Internet for the history of the margarita, you’ll find several different versions. It’d be cool to actually know the “real” story, but I’m not sure we're going to get it so let’s focus on my favorite "version" – el margarita grande. Ever heard of it?!

Ok, it’s a large margarita, but it’s the best! Actually, other than large, I like to order mine without salt. You have to keep it healthy, am I right?! No salt and just a house margarita on the rocks. I’ve tried the Cadillac Margarita, and other flavored margaritas, but I prefer the classic.

It’s been a few years since I’ve lived in California, but if you’re in the San Diego area visit any bar/restaurant with the word “margarita” on the menu, and you should be good.

In Washington, the best margarita I’ve had is at Cactus. They’re simple, not too expensive, and you only need two. Once, I was eating at another Mexican food restaurant close to a Cactus, and left after my meal to get another margarita from them. It's that good. Luckily, my fiancé tolerated the restaurant hop, but it was worth it!

"I prefer on the rocks, but blended is just as tasty. I've never met a margarita I didn't like." 
"Margaritaville" - Jimmy Buffet
SWIRL COCKTAILS ME, MYSELF, AND MARGARITA via Swirl Nation Blog






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SWIRL COCKTAILS: CLASSIC MOJITO


I was never one to completely acquire the taste of alcohol.  My 20’s was filled with experimental fruity drinks to mask the taste of booze.  I definitely went through my flavored shots faze, lemons drops, jolly ranchers and a few others that do not come with politically correct names, so I won’t mentioned them.  I worked as a cocktail waitress to pay the bills while I was in school, so I got degree-worthy knowledgeable of mixed drinks as well.

 

Six years ago, I found out I was allergic to alcohol after taking a series of allergy tests.  Looking back, there were always signs, but I ignored them like most 20 somethings do. I would get buzzed off of a few sips of a drink, I would get hives and the worst headaches that would linger for days.  Now, I’ll have an occasional mock-tail, all the flavor and calories of a drink without the alcohol.

 

Honestly, I never was much of a drinker, so mock- tails are a perfect little treat for me.  My go to mock-tail is a mojito.  The combination of sweet, tart and refreshing mint hits the spot for me!  The best part is you can add any muddled fruit to kick it up a notch.

 

Mojito comes from mojo, the Spanish word meaning to assemble or blend. Like many classic cocktails, the origins of the mojito are fuzzy, but legend claims it originated when Cuban plantation masters began adding highly alcoholic sugarcane distillate to slaves' energy-boosting sugar water. Over time, mint and lime were added. Fast forward a couple hundred years to the 20th century, and the easy-to-drink combination became the go-to cocktail at Havana's many bars and clubs, eventually making its way to the United States.

 

The difference between a perfect mojito and an average one is the quality of ingredients.  Since rum is not regulated by an international body, there's controversy over the perfect recipe for making quality levels of the spirit. It follows that rum-based cocktails, like the mojito, are often tainted by subpar alcohol made with synthetic sugars, added to sour mixes. When added to premium rum, fresh mojitos are lower-cal, healthier and tastier.

“The mojito must be all-natural. It must have a rustic flavor, no metallics that ruin the simple taste,” says Henderson. And this guy knows what he's talking about; Cuba Libre features a dozen signature mojitos and 98 types of rum to accompany its Cuban fare. “Fresh is always best. And mojitos are not meant to be strong and knock you on your butt.”

In the spirit of getting our future mojitos made correctly, we asked Henderson his best tips for making a classic mojito.  Here's how it's done:

Always start with white rum. Rum, which is made from molasses, sugarcane juice or cane syrup can be white (unaged), golden or brown (aged in various types of wooden barrels). Since aged rums change a classic mojito's flavor with woody character, start with white rum for the purest expression of sugarcane. Once you experiment with various fruit mojitos and learn your rum preference, then change out the white with a higher proof or aged rum for spins on the classic.

Use guarapo rather than simple syrup. Squeezing the green-colored juice from sugarcane stalks is the most authentic way to sweeten a mojito. Stalks can be purchased at some natural food stores, such as Whole Foods, peeled and extracted with a high-powered electric juicer. When making fresh guarapo is not possible, combine one part raw or unprocessed sugar with one part water on a stovetop until dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool before mixing into the mojito.

Tear, rather than muddle, fresh mint leaves. When shaken with ice, torn mint releases its essential oils more easily, becoming more aromatic. Muddled leaves, on the other hand, retain much of the fresh flavor characteristic of the drink. The quality of mint also counts. Henderson recommends Israeli mint when possible, which contains more oils. Make sure mint leaves are not dry or browning.

Avoid bottled lime juice and sour mix. Limes are widely available most of the year and easily extracted for fresh juice, whereas bottled lime juices contain unnecessary preservatives. Choose limes that are somewhat firm and roll one to loosen juices before squeezing.

Ready to get your real mojito on?  Here is a classic recipe courtesy of Cuba Libre in Washington, D.C. and resident mixologist and bar manager, Vance Henderson.

 

INGREDIENTS

1 ½ ounces white rum

2 ½ ounces guarapo (sugarcane juice)

1 ¼ ounces fresh lime juice

6 mint leaves

1 splash soda

DIRECTIONS

Combine mint, lime and guarapo in a shaker. Add rum and ice. Shake vigorously and pour in a collins glass. Splash with club soda and garnish with a lime wedge.


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SWIRL COCKTAILS: PISCO SOUR


Almost every country has their liquor or drink of choice.  Russia has vodka.  Italy has grappa.  America has whiskey and bourbon.  Peru has pisco.  Produced in the winemaking regions of Peru from distilled grape wine, pisco was developed by Spaniards in the 16th century to avoid importing spirits from Europe.

My in-laws introduced me to Pisco Sours my first trip to Miami.  The combination of tartness, sweetness, and the frothiness of a latte had me hooked.  We’ve made them from scratch and some of the Peruvian markets have mixes.  The recipe below is from FoodandWine.com.  Enjoy!

SWIRL COCKTAILS PISCO SOUR via Swirl Nation Blog

Ingredients

·       Juice of 1/2 lime

·       1 tablespoon pasteurized egg white

·       2 tablespoons sugar, or more to taste

·       1/4 cup crushed ice

·       2 ounces Peruvian pisco (1/4 cup)

·       Angostura bitters

In a blender, combine the lime juice with the sugar and mix to dissolve the sugar. Add the pisco, egg white and ice and blend at high speed until frothy. Pour into a sour glass, add a few drops of bitters and serve.

*We like to sprinkle the top with cinnamon.


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SWIRL COCKTAILS: WHISKEY & BOURBON MIXED DRINKS


Blackberry Bourbon Lemonade

Blackberry Bourbon Lemonade

I'm a Whiskey and Bourbon gal. My all time favorite cocktails were at the YardBird in Miami Beach, Florida.

I don't usually go for mixed drinks; been there done that, too many hangovers. I learned my lesson the hard way. Me and martinis don't mix. However, the YardBird is taking Whiskey and Bourbon to a whole new level.

Blackberry Bourbon Lemonade – made with Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Fresh Lemon and Cardamom. Tart, sweet and bitter. I could drink a gallon.

Southern Revival – Wild Turkey 81 with Passion Fruit and Basil.

Yardbird Old Fashioned – Bacon Infused Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Angostura Bitters and Maple Syrup.

It's a really good thing I don't live anywhere near YardBird otherwise, I'd probably become an alcoholic.

Southern Revival

Southern Revival

YardBird Old Fashioned

YardBird Old Fashioned


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SWIRL COCKTAILS: GRAPEFRUIT - ROSEMARY MULE


This week we are all sharing our favorite cocktails! I love collecting interesting cocktail recipes on Pinterest, I'm kind of a recipe hoarder. Oddly I never actually make any of them, because I pretty much only drink red wine at home but they sure are pretty to look at:)


One of my favorites I have come across is this Grapefruit-Rosemary Mule that originated on the Domesticate Me blog. Moscow Mules are so refreshing and grapefruit is one of my favorite flavors, plus copper mule mugs are always a bonus!

Cheers! What is your favorite cocktail to make?


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VALENTINE'S FUNFETTI PANCAKES WITH VANILLA GREEK YOGURT SAUCE


VALENTINE'S FUNFETTI PANCAKES via Swirl Nation Blog

Light and fluffy pancakes are fun and festive thanks to sprinkles in the batter. Greek yogurt is used in both the pancakes and the vanilla sauce, giving these funfetti pancakes tons of filling protein. Such a delicious and celebratory breakfast! 

I came across this recipe on Pinterest. I was looking for something yummy, easy with a  traditional twist.  Everyone has fond memories of pancakes growing up or as an adult:)  I enjoyed homemade buttermilk pancakes with fresh blueberries and pure maple syrup. We didn’t have them often so they were always a special treat.  

Fast forward to now, and my boyfriend’s favorite breakfast treat is oven-baked pancakes.  I have eaten more pancakes as an adult than ever… Not sure if that’s a good thing.  I reduce the calories by making gluten free pancakes and using yogurt instead of syrup.  So, in the spirit of Valentine’s day, heart-shaped sprinkles pancakes with Greek yogurt sauce would be a perfect breakfast for your children, boyfriend, husband, girlfriend, wife and family.  The bonus, they’re healthy and tasty! Happy Valentine’s Day!


INGREDIENTS FOR THE PANCAKES

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt (I used 0% Chobani)
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used 1%)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup sprinkles (the oblong kind, not the tiny dot kind)
  • For the Sauce
  • 1 5.3 oz container vanilla yogurt (I used 0% Chobani)
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons honey (more or less to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons milk

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Preheat a griddle pan or large frying pan over medium low heat.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
  • In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the yogurt, milk, egg, oil, and vanilla until well combined.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Do not over mix. Let the batter sit for 10 minutes.
  • Divide the batter into two bowls, and gently mix half the sprinkles into the first bowl.
  • Lightly and carefully grease your pan.
  • Spoon the batter into four places on the griddle pan. Cook for 2 - 3 minutes, until golden brown. Flip and cook for 1 - 2 minutes on the other side. Remove pancakes to a wire rack.
  • Stir the rest of the sprinkles into the remaining batter, and repeat cooking process.
  • For the Sauce
  • In a small bowl, stir together the yogurt, vanilla, honey, and milk. Add more milk until desired consistency is reached.
  • Serve pancakes topped with yogurt sauce and extra sprinkles.
VALENTINE'S FUNFETTI PANCAKES via Swirl Nation Blog

Original recipe and photos from www.chezcateylou.com


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SWIRL KITCHEN: BLUE APRON'S PORK AND TOMATILLO POZOLE WITH HOMINY, AVOCADO AND RADISHES


SWIRL KITCHEN: BLUE APRON'S PORK AND TOMATILLO POZOLE WITH HOMINY, AVOCADO AND RADISHES

There was a period of time, during my teen years, when I lived with a Mexican- American foster family.  During that time, we ate traditional homemade Mexican food:  mole, menudo and, one of my favorites, pozole.  The result of this experience is that now I am extremely picky about my Mexican food and know how authentic Mexican food is supposed to taste.  Jen Fisch, one of the founders of Swirl Nation and one of my best friends, got me a trial account with Blue Apron, which delivers farm-fresh ingredients and recipes to prepare home-cooked meals.  A few months into receiving dishes, pozole was on the menu as an option.  I was intrigued, wondering if it would taste as good as I remembered and read over the ingredients and instructions. They seemed fairly close to what I remembered as a teen and I wanted to give it a try.  I was pleasantly surprised how flavorful and fresh it tasted. Now, it was not by any means authentic Mexican pozole, but it was extremely tasty and easy to make! Definitely a great dinner dish for the family during colder weather seasons.   

BLUE APRON'S PORK AND TOMATILLO POZOLE WITH HOMINY, AVOCADO AND RADISHES 

Pozole is a traditional Mexican soup with its origins in Aztec cuisine. Though there are many variations, all of them center on hominy, a special preparation of maize. Our interpretation is inspired by the delightfully rich, slightly tangy versions of the dish commonly associated with the Mexican Pacific coastal state of Guerrero. Tomatillos (a tomato relative with papery skins) and pepitas (pumpkin seeds) are some of the region’s hallmarks. Their delectable tartness and crunch, along with the cooling creaminess of avocado, complete this hearty dish.
BLUE APRON'S PORK AND TOMATILLO POZOLE WITH HOMINY, AVOCADO AND RADISHES
BLUE APRON'S PORK AND TOMATILLO POZOLE WITH HOMINY, AVOCADO AND RADISHES

1. PREPARE THE INGREDIENTS 

Wash and dry the fresh produce. Quarter the lime. Peel and thinly slice the garlic and onion. Remove and discard the papery husks of the tomatillos; medium dice the tomatillos. Drain and rinse the hominy. Pit, peel and medium dice the avocado; toss with the juice of 1 lime wedge to prevent browning. Trim off and discard the stem ends of the radishes; cut the radishes into matchsticks. Pick the cilantro leaves off the stems; discard the stems.

2. BROWN THE PORK

In a large pot, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the ground pork; season with salt and pepper. Cook, frequently breaking the meat apart with a spoon, 3 to 5 minutes, or until lightly browned and just cooked through. Transfer to a bowl and set aside, leaving any drippings and browned bits (or fond) in the pot.

3. COOK THE AROMATICS & TOMATILLOS 

Add 2 teaspoons of olive oil to the pot of reserved fond. Heat on medium-high until hot. Add the garlic, onion and all but a pinch of the spice blend; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 2 to 3 minutes, or until softened and fragrant. Add the tomatillos. Cook, stirring frequently and breaking apart the tomatoes with a spoon, 4 to 6 minutes, or until the tomatillos have softened and begun to thicken into a sauce.

4. FINISH THE SOUP

Add 2 cups of water to the pot of aromatics and tomatillos. Cook, stirring constantly and scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot, 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until thoroughly combined. Add the hominy and browned pork; heat to boiling on high. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium and simmer 7 to 9 minutes, or until slightly reduced in volume. Remove from heat. Stir in the juice of 1 lime wedge; season with salt and pepper to taste.

5. TOAST THE PEPITAS

While the soup simmers, in a small pan (nonstick, if you have one), heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the pepitas and remaining spice blend; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, 2 to 3 minutes, or until toasted and fragrant. (Be careful, as the pepitas may pop as they cook.) Remove from heat. 

6. FINISH AND PLATE YOUR DISH 

Divide the finished soup between 2 bowls. Garnish with the avocado, radishes, cilantro and toasted pepitas. Serve with the remaining lime wedges on the side. Enjoy!

BLUE APRON'S PORK AND TOMATILLO POZOLE WITH HOMINY, AVOCADO AND RADISHES

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SWIRL KITCHEN: PERUVIAN CAUSA RELLENA


As you can probably gather from my family profile, I love Peruvian food. The first time i had causa was at my in-laws vow-renewal. The mixture of tart potatoes and spicy aji pepper with familiar chicken salad and creamy avocado was heaven. I ate a tray all by myself. Enjoy!  

PERUVIAN CAUSA RELLENA

 

Ingredients

2 lbs. yellow potatoes ( Yukon gold)
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup lime juice (mix with key limes, if available)
2 -3 tablespoons aji amarillo peppers (my in-laws always bring this for us from Miami)
salt and pepper
2 cups chicken salad (used as filling, I typically buy this premade)
2 -3 hard-boiled eggs, sliced into rounds
6 -8 pitted black olives
Sliced avocado

Directions

  1. Place the potatoes in a large pot of cold, salted water. Bring to a boil and cook the potatoes until they are tender and cooked through. Drain and set aside to cool.
  2. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel them. Put the potatoes through a ricer or mash with a potato masher until smooth. Stir in the oil, aji pepper, lime juice, salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Line a casserole dish or baking pan with plastic wrap, pressing it down to fit the dish. Spread half the potatoes into the bottom of the dish and smooth out. Spread chicken salad evenly over the potatoes. Layer sliced avocado over chicken salad. Spread the remaining potatoes evenly over the filling (chicken salad and avocado). Press down gently to firm up your causa. Cover and chill thoroughly.
  4. Lay a serving platter upside-down over the top of the causa dish. Using both hands, flip the dish and platter over, letting the causa fall onto the platter. Remove and discard the plastic wrap.
  5. Garnish the causa decoratively with the hard-boiled eggs and olives and, if you like, a sauce. Cut into portions and serve.

Notes:

If I don’t have a large group, I use a round spring form pan – it shows off the layers and makes it look fancy

You can substitute chicken salad with tuna salad, ahi tuna, shrimp, crab salad

My mother-in-law has substituted the avocado with beets

As an appetizer, you can roll the potato mixture into ½ inch balls, top with chicken salad/filling of choice, and drizzle with huancaina sauce or Peruvian mayonnaise

You can garnish the causa with cilantro, tomatoes, shrimp, lime - use your imagination


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