Broccoli Salad

I served a fried chicken lunch at work after a hiring event last month and bought everything from the local grocery store including broccoli salad from the deli case to complement the chicken, potato salad, and rolls that came with the meal. It was no surprise to me the broccoli salad was an absolute hit, but I was shocked at how many people had never seen it before. After doing a little digging, I realized that this is a Midwest dish through and through and these Phoenix natives had never seen such a thing. Continue reading Broccoli Salad

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Minted Cucumber Refresher

I was looking through my list of post ideas the other day and saw that note about the basil/lime cocktail that had escaped my memory last year. This time instead of racking my brain to resurrect the lost, I looked to it for inspiration. It then took only a few minutes to hit me. One of my favorite infused water recipes uses basil, mint, cucumber and lemon. Well, why not swap cucumber for cucumber vodka (which I already have in my cupboard) and make a simple syrup out of the rest and top it off with club soda? I just had to try it…

…Fast forward a week…

Minted Cucumber Refresher It took a bit of playing with the ratios, but I did come up with something that was cool and refreshing and a perfect complement to the 111 degree desert that was Phoenix yesterday.  Even my dad, who doesn’t like cucumbers, thought it was nice.  The basil presence was quite mild so I do recommend rimming the glass with the basil-sugar mixture outlined below.  I didn’t think of it until I was writing this up so I haven’t tried it.  Please feel free to leave me your thoughts.

Well, here we go The Minted Cucumber Refresher.

Basil/Mint Simple Syrup:

½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup water
½ cup lemon juice
¼ cup fresh basil – loosely packed
¼ cup fresh mint leaves – loosely packed

Directions

  • Bring sugar and water to a boil in a small saucepan and boil for 1 minute – be sure the sugar has dissolved.
  • Remove saucepan from the heat and stir in the lemon juice, basil, and mint.  Cover the saucepan and allow to steep until cooled.
  • Strain syrup into a sealable container and refrigerate until ready to use.
Cocktail:

1 ½  oz cucumber vodka
1 ½ oz basil/mint simple syrup
¾-1 cup club soda

Directions

  • Optional:
    • Before filling the glass, mix equal parts of minced basil leaves and granulated sugar.
    • Pour the sugar mixture onto a plate or wide-enough-for-the-rim-of-your-glass bowl.
    • Rub the rim of the glass with lemon juice then coat with the basil sugar mixture by inverting the glass into the plate/bowl of basil sugar.  Continue making the cocktail as directed.
  • Mix vodka and syrup in a highball glass along with a few ice cubes.  Then top off the glass with club soda and stir gently.  Enjoy.

From my little corner of the world, thanks for reading and happy eating.
Caffeter, the Milkmaid

Cucumber & Sausage Stacks

Those that know me well know that I am pretty mindful of what and how much I eat. This isn’t a statement about strict clean eating, but rather an approach that was summed up beautifully by my oldest daughter’s kindergarten teacher when they were learning about healthy foods and “sometimes” foods. I love food, I always have; I also love that I weigh less now than I did in high school and that since graduating from high school my weight has fluctuated by less than 15 pounds. I attribute this phenomenon to eating healthfully, but not denying myself those “sometimes” foods sometimes. Unfortunately after an overindulgent spring followed by a vacationing summer, I’m finding myself at the high end of that 15 and I need to snap things back into control. Continue reading Cucumber & Sausage Stacks

Toasted Butter Pecan Cake

Some of you may have noticed a bit of radio silence these last few weeks. I apologize for the break but my family and I were taking a much needed vacation.  Now I am back, feeling recharged, and ready to cook.

Today, as I write, it’s my dad’s 65th birthday so naturally, he must have a cake; but what cake?   This isn’t a question that has ever been asked because he’s had this same cake every year for the last 65:  The Toasted Butter Pecan Cake.   Continue reading Toasted Butter Pecan Cake

Caramel Coffee Creamer

Caramel Coffee CreamerMy husband is a lover of coffee and along with this love comes a love of coffee creamer.  I was never thrilled about buying coffee creamer since it would probably be better for him to just melt down a straw, but I hadn’t really thought much about an alternative until three years ago when I began making him flavored syrups.  It worked out well, but I knew it was simply the poor man’s creamer.  Then a few months ago I found a recipe on Pinterest for French vanilla coffee creamer.  I tried it and it was good – not fantastic, just good – but it did get my mind percolating.  I started making cinnamon amaretto creamer, vanilla creamer, hazelnut creamer, and even cardamom creamer.  I fear no spice. Continue reading Caramel Coffee Creamer

Coconut Creamscicle

Coconut Creamscicle This time around you’re getting a two-for-one special. This story started about 16 months ago when I decided to use the leftover basil-lime simple syrup from a fruit salad as inspiration for a cocktail. It was knock-your-socks-off fabulous and wouldn’t you know, I can’t for the life of me remember what it was. I can’t even remember the liquor. If I were someone with a drinking problem I’d suspect that I had one too many, blacked out and upon regaining consciousness the recipe had escaped along with drunken hallucinations and memories of total and utter humiliation.  But like I said, I don’t have said drinking problem. Continue reading Coconut Creamscicle

Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas

Good morning everyone.  Today’s topic is enchiladas.  The type I’m going to share with you is a cross between enchiladas verdes and enchiladas suizas.  They’re the only ones I regularly make at home and are, by far, my favorite!  Because of my affinity for green chiles and tomatillos, I am generally disappointed with most restaurant enchiladas.  This saddens me, not because I feel the restaurant is doing anything wrong, but because I never developed the passion for the mole and red sauces dominating the category.  I may just have to dig in my heels and test test test some red sauce recipes until I come up with something I can truly enjoy.  So, I guess, stay tuned for that one.  But for now, let’s proceed to discuss, I believe, the reason my husband married me. Continue reading Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas

Greek Ceviche Shrimp Salad

This next recipe evolved out of a childhood favorite “salad” that had more refined carbohydrates and mayo than anything to be found in a garden. Aside from the white rice and mayo called for in the original recipe, it also wanted a can of tiny shrimp! As a kid I didn’t know any better and thought this salad was the absolute best. Then I made it a few years ago…and couldn’t even finish a single serving. I’m sure it had something to do with the big smell that came from the little can of tiny shrimp. – Please don’t do “can of tiny shrimp” to yourself or anyone you care about; they may never speak to you again. Continue reading Greek Ceviche Shrimp Salad

7(ish)-Layer Salad

I am a big salad lover, which may come as a surprise to most, because I almost never make salads. My problem is that I never feel like making salad, but when it’s my turn to pick the place for a working lunch, I usually opt for Panera or Wildflower Bread Company and always get a fully loaded salad.  My other problem with making salads is that I never feel as if I have enough stuff to make a proper salad.  The reason, I believe is twofold:  1)  The salad I’m about to share with you is my first memory of salad and it’s a loaded one, and 2)  I’m not a big fan of salad dressings and unless I have the ingredients to make a salad stand on its own without dressing, I probably won’t even try.   This salad, however, plays so nicely with all my salad-related faults that I can’t help but make it when I find myself with all the ingredients. Continue reading 7(ish)-Layer Salad

Cashew Chicken

Happy Thursday everyone! As suggested last week, today’s culinary treat is cashew chicken. I have a story about cashew chicken and I just know you’re dying to hear it. It all started many, many years ago, preceded by many, many years of disappointing homemade Chinese food. Then in 2005ish, my dear friend Kristi returned from her year in China and kindly accepted an invitation to cook me dinner.  My Chinese cooking had always been underwhelming and I figured after spending a year with the locals, she’d have been blessed with some of their secrets, by osmosis if nothing else. Luckily for me, and you, she did! Continue reading Cashew Chicken