Monday, July 22, 2013

Mai Tai's for a Crowd

It all started with a Hawaiian themed land mark birthday. 
I usually just serve wine and beer at parties, because "cocktailin'" (aka bartending) at your own party is a LOT of work. 
But... hey, if you are turning something major (like 50!), you need something FUN.
Like Mai Tai's!
Except I had never made them before.  Problem?  No.
As usual I look at recipes and decide what I might want to do differently. 
So here's my version of the recipe.

This makes a BUNCH of mai tai's.... in my picture down below you will see I used one of those big beverage servers for the party.  Self serve is my favorite kind of party beverage... oh really, yours too? 

I will say this is very easy to make, even during the party, if you just happen to have very thirsty friends!  One gal came running over to "watch me make it" because she had never had one from scratch...?  Whoa... I didn't even know they made mixes for this stuff?  I can be very naive when it comes to what some people do.

Here's what I did to serve' em up...
1) Large beverage server filled with pre-mixed mai tai's.
2) Ice bucket with ice, and tongs
3) Cute glasses, or plastic glasses
4) Paper umbrellas
5) Pineapple wedges and maraschino cherries, if desired.
6) Dark rum on the side, with 1 oz pour spout, for people to float it on the top of their drink 

(I showed spiced rum, but I do recommend that you use dark rum, I think it tastes better, 
and right about now, I just might be a mai tai connoisseur.)

Serves quite a few, maybe as much as 20-25 ppl for a party
1- 96 oz. orange juice
1- 48 oz pineapple juice
1 cup grenadine syrup
1 cup Orgreat syrup (Almond)
5 cups Malibu Rum 
1 fifth Myers Dark Rum, for serving/floating on top (optional)

Mix everything except the dark rum together, give it a stir.  
Stand back while they start to line up.

This is what we woke up to the next morning... it happens to taste very nice for brunch too.

If you need a recipe for ONE recipe, here's my Best Mai Tai in Kauai recipe!

Need another great recipe for a party?
Pina Colada for Crowd 

Need some regular ideas?  "Like" my Facebook page 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Homemade Taco Mix

I hate buying pre-made mixes, but with tacos, you just seem to need one to get the taste you want..

Also, I can't believe that little packet should cost that much.
Yeah, yeah, I do buy the big daddy container at Costco sometimes but with that big of a container it can take so long to get through it.  This recipe makes a reasonable size batch, is so easy and I know what all the ingredients are because I added them myself.

Makes about 1/2 cup, or enough for 4-5 batches of tacos or fajitas

1/4 cup chili powder
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp dried onion flakes

1/2 to 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (depends on how spicy you like things)
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp paprika
2 tbsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp kosher salt

1 1/2 tsp black pepper
3 Tbsp corn starch

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Store in an airtight container.

To use: 

Use 2 to 2 1/2 tablespoons of taco seasoning in place of a packet of store-bought taco seasoning. Add about 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup water to the cooked meat mixture with the taco mix.  I use 1/4 cup and add more if its not "saucy" enough.

Here it is with ground turkey...

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Asian Steak Salad

Crunchy, yummy and fresh.
Easy*, with a disclaimer, or two.

*Probably the hardest part of this salad is finding the super thin sliced beef.  I buy mine at the Asian grocery store.  You COULD marinate any kind of steak and just cut it up for the top of the salad.  It would be good any way.

*Napa cabbage is sometimes hard to find too, it almost looks like a romaine head, but crunchier with more white ribs.  In a pinch, you could use romaine or iceberg lettuce, or even regular cabbage.  It's up to you.

*Cooking the very thin beef can be a challenge, use a large griddle or fry pan.  Don't even think of using your BBQ.  It... just... doesn't... work.

Serves about 4

1 lb beef, thinly sliced
1 small head Napa cabbage
1-2 carrots, very thinly sliced
1 English cucumber, shopped 
1 red bell pepper, sliced and chopped
1-2 cups of bean sprouts
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
1-2 jalapeno's, minced (optional)


1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce (if doing gluten free, look for a gluten free brand!) 

1/4 cup teriyaki sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp garlic red pepper paste (or 2 tsp garlic, crushed and 1 tsp red pepper flakes)
1 Tbsp ginger, grated
1 tsp fish sauce, if desired

Make the dressing/marinade.
Pour half the dressing into a shallow bowl and marinate the beef for 20-30 minutes.
Retain the other half of the dressing/marinade for the salad dressing for the veggies..
Get your veggies cut up and ready to go. 

Marinate the beef

Cook the beef to your desired liking.  The thin beef I use cooks in under a minute on the grill, but so much depends on the meat you use and how you like your beef cooked.

Right before serving, toss the veggies in the dressing. Serve salad on plates, topping each salad with the grilled beef (like the top photo).

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Arnold Palmer Martini

Finally, Summer is here.
The living is easy, and we're on our second sunny week in Seattle. 

This martini is named for the popular Iced Tea/ Lemonade combination drink that people order in restaurants.   Obviously people drink it elsewhere, it's just where you hear it more often. Named for the golfer, Arnold Palmer, who apparently liked to drink his iced tea, mixed half & half with Lemonade.

Hmmmm, why not do a martini with that "Sweet Tea" Vodka?

Okay, so the Sweet Tea vodka is ridiculously cheap and should be scorned by "real" vodka lovers everywhere. However, there is something wonderful and refreshing... and dangerous about a Sweet Tea "Arnold Palmer Martini".  DO NOT lose sight of its potential, if you swill this like regular ole' iced tea, you will be sorry. 

But, this martini is refreshing and wonderful on a hot summer's day. Enjoy. 

You may wonder why I didn't mix this with lemonade instead of lemon juice and water?  Well, it's simple really, the Sweet Tea vodka is ridiculously sweet, and I mean ridiculously.
I had tried this with a Lemon Pellegrino water and I didn't care for it, it was just too sweet.


Makes 2

2 jiggers (approx 2 oz) Sweet Tea Vodka
1-2 jiggers lemon sparkling water, unsweetened
1/2 lemon, juiced
lemon garnish, slice

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add the Sweet Tea vodka and the lemon juice.  Shake and strain into glasses, top with the sparkling water. 

Of course, you could serve this over ice too.  That's a good way to stay hydrated on a summer's day.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Chilled Prawns with Cilantro Sauce

About a year ago, we had individual chilled prawns served with a dab of cilantro sauce passed on a tray by servers at a cocktail hour wedding.  They were really good, but the sauce wasn't as zippy as I thought it should be, or maybe it was too little of the sauce.  It didn't seem right to chase down the servers and insist on more sauce.  
Obviously I've been thinking of this for a while... like I don't have other things that should be occupying my mind instead.  Oh well, I like to think about food; what I ate, what I want to eat, what I think others would like to eat, what I want to use up in my kitchen, what special holiday is coming up that people are going to eat at (duh, all of them).

So, for a friend's big ole' milestone birthday we had a Hawaiian theme party with pupus.  Okay, so I DO know that prawns with cilantro sauce is NOT essentially Hawaiian at all, but this seemed to be one of the most popular dishes of the night. 
Go figure?
I hadn't thought of blogging it while I was in the middle of "party central command center", so I whomped up another batch to show you all what I did, plus I wanted to eat some more of this too.  I've been using it for many, many other things, so check out the bottom of the blog for some more ideas, and pictures too.

 Makes about 1 1/2 cups
1 bunch fresh cilantro, stems removed
5 cloves of garlic
2 jalapenos, seeded and roughly chopped
1 cup sour cream, or yogurt

2 lb prawns,  cooked, peeled and chilled (or use pre-cooked peeled from Costco)

Place the cilantro, garlic and jalapenos into food processor and blend until finely chopped.

Add about a cup of sour cream and process again until smooth.  Add about 1/2 tsp salt and mix.  Taste and add more salt if needed. Serve or chill until ready to use.  This should last a couple days in the fridge.

Here's the things I did with this sauce besides just serving it with prawns:

Mini prawn Tacos- chip, sauce, tomato slice, avocado slice, prawn, cilantro sprig. OMG, these were good!!! In full disclosure, we ate these mini tacos with the prawn salad below.  Strangely, my husband didn't complain.... hahaha, like he would!

Cilantro Prawn Salad- Toss lettuce with a couple tablespoons of sauce, lime juice and olive oil.  Top with avocado, tomatoes and prawns

Potato Salad with Cilantro-  Haven't made this one yet, but working on it later today for the Fourth.  I will update this soon.

Also, why not use it with Chicken, on burgers, on regular tacos, enchiladas... need I go on?

Monday, July 1, 2013

Apple Bacon Coleslaw

Maybe that whole "add bacon to things" is over done.
But then again, maybe it's not.
Would you eat more salad if it had bacon in it?
Yep, me too.
Adding bacon to the veggies is a brilliant way to get people to eat their salad.
I like cabbage in any way, shape or form, but I do know that not everyone feels the same way.

This salad has the salty bacon crunch, sweet tart apples, spicy onions and sweet tangy dressing to make everything yummy and delicious.

I haven't tried it yet, but I do believe leftovers of this salad would be really good heated up and served with roast pork.  Maybe I will wait for a Fall day for that, it's too dang hot today.

Serves about 8-10

1/2 head green cabbage, shredded or a 12-16 oz bag of pre-shredded coleslaw mix
3-4 cups kale, shredded (optional)
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 red onion, sliced then chopped into 1" pieces
1-2 granny smith apples, quartered then thinly sliced
1/2 lb bacon, chopped and fried crisp, 2-3 Tbsp bacon fat saved
1/2 cup green onion, sliced

1/3 cup vegetable, or olive oil
2-3 Tbsp bacon fat (optional,but it gives great flavor)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp dijon mustard
1 Tbsp sugar, or agave syrup (or more to taste)
Salt & pepper to taste

Start chopping all your veggies...
I made short work of mine with my food proccessor slicing attachment.

Fry your bacon over medium high heat until it's nice and crispy.  Drain on paper towels, retaining a couple tablespoons of fat for the dressing.

In the bottom of a large mixing bowl, mix the dressing ingredients.  Add the veggies and bacon on top of the dressing.  Toss and serve.

Note- You can also make this up ahead of time, waiting to toss in the dressing until right before you serve it.

Here's a little view of what kind of messy cook I am sometimes. Thought you might like to see that...