August 24, 2013

Crispy Caramel Filled Chocolate TARDIS and Daleks

This month's Doctor Who Saturday is totally easy-mode. If you can use a microwave, you can make these chocolates.

You see, I've recently developed a silicone ice cube tray addiction...
... I mean, ever since finding out how good they were for homemade gummies, I've had little reason not to buy them. So when ThinkGeek sent me an email saying they started carrying Doctor Who ice cube trays, I immediately clicked buy. I'd been thinking about doing some filled chocolates for a while, and with Doctor Who Saturday looming, and a brand new ice cube tray to play with, it was simple.
Now, you could just fill the molds with melted chocolate, stick it in the fridge, and call it a day, but I like to make things unnecessarily complicated. I wanted filled chocolate. With caramel. And crispy rice cereal. And these molds were nice and deep enough that I could do that.
So my TARDISes are filled with crispy caramel treats and timey-wimey stuff. Now, I made my own caramel, but I had some issues with it, so I don't have a recipe for you. But, you can always melt some soft caramels with a little bit of heavy cream, and mix in some crisped rice cereal. Et voila, fancy, homemade filled chocolate candies. That look like TARDISes and daleks.
And may I recommend, that if you want to color your chocolate to get a good TARDIS blue, to use candy coloring. I didn't have any, so I used icing coloring (which is water based), and it caused the chocolate to seize. I added some shortening, which fixed the problem, but it made the chocolate a bit delicate. Hence the reason my TARDIS is so battered. That and the Time War, obviously.
I'm also putting together a Whovian cosplay for New York Comic Con that I'm super excited about. That's going to be some easy-mode crafting, so I might just post a tutorial if it turns out, and I remember to take pictures. Anyone want to guess what it is? Correct guessers win a prize! And by prize, I mean my love and admiration. That's enough of a prize for anyone.

Also, if you know who's playing the 12th Doctor, DON'T TELL ME. I want it to be a surprise. I want the first time I see him to be as the Doctor. Otherwise, he's just some dude that pretends to be the Doctor. I'm really mad that they revealed it so early, since the Doctor won't be regenerating until at least the Christmas special. As far as I'm concerned, they shouldn't have even revealed that Matt Smith was leaving. For all that the Doctor and River Song are so concerned about not giving away spoilers, the BBC seems to thrive on them. I've had to avoid or unfollow pretty much everything I love on the interwebz, so I am very cranky. It shouldn't be so hard to not learn this kind of information.
For how to make filled chocolate candies, see the Wilton instructions here, or check out this episode of Nerdy Nummies.

I bought the Doctor Who ice cube tray here.

August 21, 2013

Thai Lime Tuna Wraps with @TastyBite

You guys, my four years of college life were a culinary whirlwind of self-discovery. My first year, I went to community college and lived at home. I'd be the first one home, I'd be hungry, so I would make dinner. That was when I first really started to learn to cook.

My second year, I lived in an independently-owned student housing apartment building (yeah, it was complicated). The apartment was gorgeous, and had a nice, if small, kitchen. But there was really no grocery store nearby that I could find, so I'd go home on the weekend to shop for supplies. As you can imagine, this meant stuff that traveled well, stuff that wouldn't spoil or melt in the car ride back, and stuff that would last me a good long time. In other words, a lot of prepackaged foods, and a lot of trips to CostCo. Me being me, I managed to get pretty creative with what I had, as I got bored very quickly with the selection. That's when I learned to listen to my instincts when it came to cooking.

My third and fourth years, I rented an attic much closer to school, within walking distance of a small, though serviceable, grocery store. But I had no kitchen, just a dorm room fridge, a microwave, a coffee maker, and a George Foreman grill that my aunt bought me. The only sink I had was in the bathroom, and I didn't have a whole lot of storage space. Staples for me at that time were tortillas, shredded cheese, boil-in-a-bag rice, and peanut butter. Easy Mac made it's obligatory appearance, as well as whatever else I felt like buying that week. Usually tuna, sometimes cold cuts, a lot of veggie burgers and veggie nuggets. Once I bought corn dogs. Really, anything that I could get some mileage out of, I'd try at least once. I learned a lot about what one could do with a tortilla, an electric grill, and a lot of creativity.

It was around that time that I first discovered Tasty Bite. And let me tell you, their all natural, vegetarian stews were a life saver. They didn't need to be refrigerated, they didn't need to be cooked, they were healthier than most of my other options, and they were a nice change of pace, flavor-wise. I'd make a bag of boil-in-a-bag brown rice, mix in one of their stews-- my favorite was the Kashmir Spinach-- and I'd have dinner for the week. So when Tasty Bite contacted me and asked if I wanted some free samples, I didn't have to think twice.
Of course, this unexpected windfall made me nostalgic for for some of my culinary masterpieces from my college days. I made wraps like this constantly. Rice and protein (usually tuna, sometimes chopped up veggie burgers, occasionally even chili) and whatever veg I had on hand (usually cannibalized from a campus convenience store salad. They were massive and cheap), mixed with a little salad dressing or bbq sauce and some shredded cheese, wrapped in a tortilla, and toasted either on a skillet or a George Foreman grill. I called them quesarritos, because they were a bit like quesadillas, and almost entirely unlike burritos (50 nerd points if you get that reference). 

For these, I used Tasty Bite's Thai Lime Rice. The rice itself is soft and flavorful, without being overpowering. And ready in 90 seconds. No boiling in a bag required. I mixed in a can of tuna. Instead of salad dressing, I added lime juice and a drizzle of oil (I used olive oil, but sesame oil would be really good too), just to keep things from getting dry. Then I found a salad in the fridge that I picked out some peppers, onions, and broccoli from. Just like old times, except it didn't come from the C-Store. *sad face* Then I toasted it until it was golden.

True to it's origins as college food, this wrap is a breeze to put together, taking about 10 minutes total, using basic ingredients, and it's a pretty satisfying meal. It's also very easy to eat one-handed during a study session. The Thai Lime Rice gives it a nice depth of flavor that you wouldn't otherwise get, giving it a subtly exotic taste. It's like gourmet dorm food. Oh yeah.

Thai Lime Tuna Wraps
Yield: 4 wraps

1 pkg. Thai Lime Rice
1 can tuna, well drained
Juice from one lime
Vegetables of your choice
Approx. 1 tbsp olive or sesame oil
4 tortillas (burrito size)

Heat the rice according to package directions. Mix the rice with tuna, vegetables, and lime juice. Add the oil (just enough to keep it moist). Heat a lightly oiled skillet over medium heat. Wrap the filling in the tortillas, burrito style, and toast a few minutes on either side, until golden brown. Serve warm.

Recipe by Kim
Disclaimer: I was provided with free samples from Tasty Bite. I was under no obligation to review, and receive no further compensation for this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

August 18, 2013

Homemade Uncrustables- For the Lunchbox #SundaySupper

Can I just ask you all something? Does anyone actually like to eat the bread crust?

Kids are allowed to not like the crusts. And if they refuse to eat the bread crust, we make it easy on them. We cut off their crusts for them, maybe use a special cutter to make it a cute shape, even buy pre-made, frozen peanut butter and jelly sandwiches just because they don't come with crusts. I honestly don't know of any other food that parents will so willingly discard a part of. And I think it's because everybody secretly agrees: crusts are icky.

But as adults, we feel like it's childish not to eat the crusts. It's a waste of our hard earned money, and we should be thankful that we have icky crusts to eat. And we can't buy those frozen crust free sandwiches for ourselves because they're too expensive, and we should really be eating something with better nutrition, and blah blah blah, pbbbbft.

Double standard much?

Look, I'm a sort of adult-type person. I have a full time job (pbbft), I own a car, I do my taxes. And I'm here telling you that if you want to bring an Uncrustable and a juice box with you for lunch, then by golly you should. No need to feel any sort of adult guilt, because I can show you how to make them cheaper, better tasting, and better for you than the ones you find in the store.

And, you know, you can make them for your child-type peoples too. But only if they're nice and share their candy.
I love Uncrustables, I really really do. I mean, we all know how much I love peanut butter, so it shouldn't surprise you that I love a good pb&j. And I hate the crusts. I force myself to eat them-- unless I'm sitting outside, and no one else is around, and I can throw them for the birds to eat-- but I still hate them. I used to buy Uncrustables in school when I was renting an attic and had no kitchen. I'd just grab one, stick it in my bag, and I'd have something quick and ready to eat on those marathon days when I had class for 7 hours straight with no break. I am not knocking the Uncrustables.

But, as with most things, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is much cheaper to make on your own, and as a pre-packaged food, Uncrustables have that mile-long list of unpronounceable ingredients. (Plus, they contain malted barley flour, which I can no longer eat since I've discovered it gives me terrible headaches. So they're just big meany-pants) But it's also true that you can't beat the convenience of that ready-to-go sandwich sitting pretty in the freezer, all sealed up and ready to go.

Well if you can't beat them, make them yourself!

... You know what I meant.
You're gonna start with two slices of bread. You can use any kind you like: white bread, potato bread, multi-grain, whole wheat. I used my honey wheat sandwich bread (which is why my slices are a little squat: I baked it in a loaf pan that was a little too big)(Yes, I totally used fresh baked bread to make an Uncrustable. You ain't gonna find that in the freezer section.)
We start by cutting off the crusts. You're not going to want to forget this step, since it's kind of the entire point to this whole exercise. I cut as close to the crust as I could manage so there's less waste. You could save the crusts to make bread crumbs or something. Probably. Or feed them to the dog. That works too.
Next, roll out the bread with a rolling pin. You don't need to roll it out too thin; this just makes it a little more pliable and easier to work with, and it seals the little air holes from the yeast.
Peanut butter. On both slices. This is important, especially if you want to keep it in the freezer. The peanut butter seals in the jelly and keeps the bread from getting soggy. I used White Chocolate Wonderful peanut butter, because that's my faaaaaaaaavorite.
Next, jelly. Or jam. Or preserves. Or spreadable fruit. Or lemon curd. Or marmalade. Or the filling of your choice. You want to keep it towards the middle, at least half an inch from the sides, so it doesn't squish out the sides when you seal the sandwich. I used strawberry rhubarb jam, since that's what I had in the fridge. (You ain't gonna find that in the freezer section either, boyo.)
Then you seal it. This step gave me a lot of trouble to try and figure out. Wonder Bread makes a sandwich sealer thing that does it for you, but I wasn't going to go out and buy a tool that just does that. That seems like a waste. I read a couple people used pastry cutters that did the same thing, but I didn't have one, and those wasted a good portion of the sandwich itself. In the end, it was simple: just use a fork, like you would for a hand pie. No part of the sandwich gets wasted, and it's something that everyone already has. (And if you don't have a fork, they usually have free plastic ones at Wendy's.) I just used a sharp knife to clean up some of the more raggedy edges and shape it a little better, so it would look less like a deformed ravioli.
And that's all there is to it. Make a bunch, wrap them in plastic, and stick them in the freezer, just like the premade kind. The best part is, you're not stuck with whatever flavors the people at Smuckers think are marketable. I used white chocolate peanut butter and strawberry rhubarb jam on honey wheat bread. You could make an Elvis uncrustable with peanut butter, bacon, and bananas. You could make dessert uncrustables on cinnamon bread with Nutella and strawberry jam. You could even experiment with other types of sandwiches, like ham and cheese. And no matter what you do, it's in that convenient, cute, crust free shape that kids-- and adults!-- love.
And yes, that's my juice box. That I drank right after taking this photo. Because I am a srs adult person.

Thanks to Liz from That Skinny Chick Can Bake for hosting this week's #SundaySupper, and have some fun brown-bagging it with the rest of the #SundaySupper crew:

Sandwiches, Wraps and Entrees:
Munchies, Salads and Sides:
Sweet Treats:

August 14, 2013

Honey Wheat Sandwich Bread

26 seconds.

I have been given 26 seconds of new Sherlock footage.

The Internet has been given 26 seconds of new Sherlock footage.

And the fandom has exploded.

(FANDOM (n.)- the fan community of a thing)

You know, I've been a part of a lot of fandoms in my time. I started with Buffy/Angel. That was my gateway fandom (my gateway to geekdom, too). Then there was Lord of the Rings, various animes, Harry Potter, Stargate. I dabbled a bit in the Anne Rice/Vampire Chronicles fandom. I was big into the Mercedes Lackey/Heralds of Valdemar fandom in the early days of, before Tumblr or Pinterest existed, when it was a lot harder to be part of a fandom [HIPSTER GLASSES]. So I'm a little bit of a fandom expert. And let me tell you one thing: there has never been a fandom quite like the Sherlock fandom.

I couldn't say what it is that makes us unique. 3 episode seasons and an excessively long hiatus (a year and a half and counting...) are 2 of the culprits, for sure, but most other fandoms tend to go "dark" with no new content. But we watch. We rewatch. We voluntarily give ourselves Reichenfeels (n.- feels created by watching The Reichenbach Fall)(FEELS (n.)- the unwanted feelings inspired by fictional events. Example: I can't handle all my feels watching Bambi's mom die) in order to search for clues, anything we might have missed. We make note of the buttons on Mrs. Hudson's sleeve, of the earpiece in Watson's ear, of the tiniest of Sherlock's expressions during the epic showdown with Moriarty. We refer back to the canon (n.- the official, or original, storyline)-- the books-- to see if we can find some hint to what might happen next. We curse Moffat and Gatiss, and we study interviews with the actors to see if there's anything they might have let slip.
"And how many times have you watched the Series 3 promo?" "Oh, it's all a bit of a blur, Detective Inspector. I lost count." (30 geek points if you get that reference)

And then a 26 second promo is released. I watched it about 5 times in a row, not gonna lie. But I'm still not as bad as others who have scrutinized and analyzed every frame. Gif sets have been made. Theories have been adapted. New theories have been created. Watson's mustache has been named Harold, and Lestrade's hair has been mourned. The Sherlock fandom is one of the craziest and most obsessive that I've ever been a part of, and it's fantastic.
So with the new promo awakening some of my Reichenfeels (damn you Martin Freeman and your ability to break my heart into bitty pieces), I needed to do some carbo loading. I also needed some sandwich bread for another recipe, and since we don't really eat slice bread, it seemed a waste to go out and buy it when I had all the ingredients to make it already in my kitchen. It was fate.

I made a whole wheat bread recipe from Old Reliable, but I decided to make it honey wheat instead. The bread itself is perfect sandwich bread: sturdy, but soft, and the honey gives it a nice, subtle sweetness. There's a nice heartiness from the wheat flour, but it's balanced out by the all-purpose flour. The crust did get a little over-browned-- not burnt, but just a little too dark-- so I would suggest tenting it with foil the last 10 minutes or so. This recipe makes 2 loaves, so if you're not a big sandwich-bread-eater like me, you can freeze half the dough, then have fresh baked bread whenever the whim takes you. I double-wrapped it in plastic, then put it in a zip-top freezer bag, because I'm paranoid about freezer burn.
True story, I was making myself some chicken salad for lunch while the bread was cooling. It was on a rack right in front of my face, and I'm cracking some pepper over the chicken thinking, hmm, I wonder what we have that I can eat this on. And then I looked at the bread, and I thought, hmm, I wonder how I should style it for the pictures. And it took me about another 5 minutes to put those two things together, I'm not even kidding right now. I blame Sherlock.

Honey Wheat Sandwich Bread
Yield: 2 loaves

4 cups whole wheat flour
3- 3½ cups all-purpose flour
3 tbsp. sugar
4 tsp. salt
2 packages active dry yeast
2¼ cups milk
⅓ cup honey
⅓ cup unsalted butter or margarine

In a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together the sugar, salt, yeast, 2 cups whole wheat flour, and 1 cup all-purpose flour. In a saucepan over low heat, heat the milk, honey, and butter until warm, approximately 110-120 degrees F (the butter doesn't have to melt completely). With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. Increase the speed to medium and beat about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add another half cup of whole wheat flour, and half cup of all-purpose flour. Beat another 2 minutes on medium speed.

Fold in 1 and a half cups each of whole wheat flour and all-purpose flour to form a soft dough. If the dough is too sticky, add the extra 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour. Using the dough hook, mix on low speed (or knead by hand on a lightly floured surface) about 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Shape the dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl, turning to coat completely. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1-2 hours.

Punch down the dough, turn it out onto a lightly floured, and cut in half. Cover and let rest about 15 minutes. Working with one half at a time, roll the dough into a 12 x 8 inch rectangle. Starting at the short side roll the dough up as tightly as possible and pinch the dough to seal. Seal the ends by pinching them down and folding them under. Place in a regular loaf pan that's been lightly greased and lined with parchment paper. Repeat with remaining dough. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Bake about 25-35 minutes, until the tops are well-browned and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. If the crust is browning too quickly, tent with foil after the first 15 minutes. Remove from the pan and let cool on a wire rack.

Note: If you only want to make one loaf, freeze half the dough. After letting it rest, wrap in plastic wrap, then place in a freezer bag. To use, defrost completely in the refrigerator, then shape and let rise as directed before baking.

Recipe adapted from The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook

August 7, 2013

Homemade Peanut Butter Cookie Mix

So, you remember last week when I said I'd been on a peanut butter cookie mission? How I needed a good base recipe because I had this really cool idea that I actually haven't seen anywhere else on the internet?
Ta da!!!!! It's homemade peanut butter cookie mix.

Now, you can find recipes for peanut butter cookie mix, but they usually don't actually have peanut butter in them; you have to add it when you're making the cookies. And that's fine if you're making it for you, but if you're giving it as a gift, that's for serious the messiest and hardest part. The measuring cups don't always fit in the jar, and when they do, you end up getting peanut butter all over your hands, and then it's all sticky and difficult to clean. No, if I'm giving a mix to someone, I want it to be just as easy as the Betty Crocker ones: oil, eggs, oven. Otherwise, what's the point?

The problem with peanut butter cookies is that the peanut butter is oily, messy, and sticky. I thought maybe that since peanut butter is shelf-stable, that maybe there would be enough dry ingredients to balance it all out. I haven't tried it, but since I couldn't find a recipe like that (and considering the epic amount of peanut butter I like in my cookies), I figured it might not be the best idea. So what's a girl to do? Now that it was in my head, I had to figure out a way to make it.
The solution was simple: powdered peanut butter. As ingredients go, it's a little obscure, but not as much as you may think. I ordered it off of Amazon, but a lot of health food stores carry it as well, like Trader Joe's and Whole Foods. (at least, according to my interwebz research. I don't have any health food stores near me. Closest I have is Wegman's, which is more gourmet, but tends to have those weirdy health food things, too. But I can't go in there because it's big and I'll get lost, and I'll spend ALL THE money.)

Powdered peanut butter is just peanut butter with the oil removed. That's it. The peanuts are still roasted, it's still flavored with salt and sugar, they just suck out all the oily, messy, sticky bits. And actually, I read online that the brand that I used, PB2, bottles and sells the oil from this process as roasted peanut oil. Talk about letting nothing go to waste. I like their style.

And it's kind of totally weird. You open the bag, and it smells like peanut butter, but it's powder. And you taste it, and it tastes like peanut butter, but it's powder. It blew my mind.
Remember me? Thick, soft peanut buttery perfection?
So I threw together a mix based off of my peanut butter cookie recipe. I halved the recipe, first off, because if I screwed up (and I did), I didn't want to waste too many ingredients. Secondly, I used butter-flavored shortening instead of butter. Why? Because shortening is shelf-stable, unlike butter. If shortening weirds you out, you can use butter, you just need to keep the mix in the freezer. Not as good for presents, but that's on you. You mix together the dry ingredients (flour, sugars, leavening, peanut butter)(peanut butter as dry ingredient. So weird.), then cut in the shortening like you would for scones or pie crust. And that's all there is. Put it in a plastic bag, tie it up with some dollar store ribbon, slap a hand-written label on it with some baking instructions, maybe put it in a stinkin' cute Chinese food container gift box thingy (also from the dollar store), and you have a totally impressive, handmade, gourmet gift.

Of course, I had to test the mix after making it. So I added oil and eggs, and found the dough to be solid enough that I didn't even have to chill it. And OMG, that cookie dough is amazeballs. Like, for serious, I think next time I'll skip the egg and just make cookie dough truffles, because I totally could not stop eating it. Which I did while waiting for the oven to preheat. So the yield my not be totally accurate. I tried my best.
And from the mix...
The cookies themselves were a little more crumbly and had a little more chew to them than the regular recipe. The flavor was a little different, too. Not bad by any means, but like how different brands of peanut butter can have different tastes, the PB2 was just a little bit different. Not unexpected, and I think if I hadn't spent the last few weeks becoming a peanut butter cookie connoisseur, I might not have even noticed it.

So the long and short of it is, I do prefer the non-mix cookies, but not mostly because of a personal preference in terms of texture. They are still sweet, super peanut buttery cookies, and as a homemade gift, this cannot be beat.

Homemade Peanut Butter Cookie Mix

1¼ cups flour
¾ cup powdered peanut butter
 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. packed brown sugar
½ tsp. baking powder
Pinch salt
6 tbsp. butter flavored shortening

In a large bowl, whisk together all ingredients but the shortening. Using a pastry blender (or pulse in a food processor) cut in the shortening until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

Tip: Theoretically, since all the ingredients are shelf-stable, this should be okay indefinitely. However, since it is homemade, I would suggest using it within 6 months, or keeping it in the freezer.

Recipe by Kim

Peanut Butter Cookies
Yield: Approx. 18 cookies

1 recipe peanut butter cookie mix
6 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 egg
1/8 tsp. vanilla extract
Sea salt, for sprinkling (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. To a large bowl add the mix, oil, egg, and vanilla, and mix until smooth. Roll into tablespoon-sized balls, and place 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Flatten into 1 inch disks with a fork dipped in flour. Sprinkle the tops with sea salt, if desired, and bake 12-15 minutes, until the bottoms begin to brown. Cool completely on wire racks.

Recipe by Kim

August 4, 2013

Horchata for a Music-Inspired #SundaySupper

In December, drinking horchata,
I'd look psychotic in a balaclava.
This week's #SundaySupper is hosted by fellow Whovian, Susan of The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen, and is all about music. Because seriously, who doesn't like music, and who doesn't like food?

As for me, my taste in music is rather more eclectic than my taste in food. I got a little technopunk, a little industrial, a little indie, a little pop, a little dance, some classic rock, and some show tunes.

And, umm, whatever you would call the songs that the Guild released, like "(Do You Want to Date My) Avatar." Geek rock?

Despite my varying musical tastes, I had a more difficult time coming up with a music-inspired recipe than I thought I would. I was completely sure that I would be able to find a Queen song about food. I mean, really, they have a song about everything else. They've even got one about Freddie Mercury's cat (and it took me longer than I care to admit to realize that Delilah was a cat. I thought she was some seriously deranged chick.). But short of going through the lyrics of every single song in Queen's complete discography, I couldn't find one.

But then I remembered a song by one of my very favorite bands in all the land.

Winter's cold is too much to handle,
Pincher crabs that pinch at your sandles.

"Horchata," by Vampire Weekend.

To be completely honest, it was one of the very first things that I thought of when hearing this week's theme, but I resisted it a bit, since I've never had horchata, never mind made it myself.
Okay, they are like down-right scruffy in this video, it's bizarre. Ezra's wearing a t-shirt. I'm not used to him in anything other than a button-down. It's almost obscene. Ezra, put some clothes on. Kids read this.

Did I ever tell you about the time I sort of met the drummer? They were playing at a theater by school, walking distance from where I was living at the time. This was right before the second album released, and that was when they were just starting to get popular, so it was before their tickets became impossible to get. I had vastly overestimated the time it would take me to walk there and ended up getting to the theater super early (I was not first in line though, I was third). I was texting a friend that was meeting me there, and this guy walks by with this huge grin on his face, and he's like, "Hey guys!"

My mind was a total blank. I could not place where I knew him from. Did I have a class with him? Maybe he was one of the guys from my experimental psych class, or maybe he was in the honor society with me. Meanwhile the two girls in front of me got really excited, and my neurons kept misfiring, because now I'm thinking, hey, how come he's walking right past the line... and into the theater... Well, crap. He's the drummer.

That was my one brush with celebrity, guys. I think I handled it swell.

With lips and teeth to ask how my day went,
Boots and fists to pound on the pavement.

Anyway, back to the horchata, what finally decided me on trying it- other than lack of other options, heh- was the fact that I knew absolutely nothing about it. I do love me some research.
So I found that horchata is Mexican drink made primarily with rice. Now I had to try it, because that sounded kind of awesome.

So I soaked 1 cup of uncooked long grain rice and a cinnamon stick over night. Then I blended the rice (minus the cinnamon stick, although I did read one recipe that said to grind the cinnamon straight in with the rice) with 4 cups of water, 1/2 a cup of sugar, and some lime zest (because I read one recipe that did it, and I have a lot of limes in my fridge). But that tasted a little too sweet to me, so I added an extra cup of water. That was much better on the sweetness, but made it really thin and taste just like water with lime and cinnamon. I think, in the back of my mind, I was expecting it to be like rice milk, so I thought it was going to be creamy or something.

I ended up solving that problem by mixing in some evaporated milk. Now it's kind of eggnog-y, and I like it, but the interwebz is pretty divided on whether adding milk is "authentic" or not.

The measurements I used were pretty common across the recipes I was reading, so I was really surprised by how overly sweet the half cup of sugar made it. Again, I've never had real horchata, so maybe it's supposed to be really sweet. Or maybe it's user error- I read some recipes that said to grind the rice first, others that said to soak the rice in hot water, still others that said to boil the rice and cinnamon stick. And there were still other recipes that used almonds or cashews.

This is definitely a recipe I'll be coming back to in order to perfect, but for now, limey eggnog-y horchata is pretty good, too.

Here comes a feeling you thought you'd forgotten,
Chairs to sit and sidewalks to walk on.
Oh, you had it, but oh no you lost it,
Looking back you shouldn't have fought it.


1 cup uncooked long grain rice
1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
5 cups drinking water, divided
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. lime zest
1/4 tsp. salt
1 can evaporated milk (optional)

Soak the rice and cinnamon stick in 2 cups of water about 3 hours or overnight. Remove the cinnamon stick and add the rice and water to a blender. Blend until the rice is finely ground. Add the remaining water, sugar, zest, and salt, and pulse until well blended. Strain through a cheesecloth into a large pitcher. Stir in the evaporated milk, if desired. Serve chilled, over ice.

Recipe adapted from Food Network and

Are you ready for an orchestra of goodies?

Prelude (Beverages):
Calimocho (Red Red Wine Cocktail) from La Cocina de Leslie inspired by Red Red Wine by UB40
Dark & Stormy Cocktail Recipe from An Appealing Plan inspired by Thunder Road by Bruce Springsteen
Horchata from Treats & Trinkets inspired by Horchata by Vampire Weekend
Orange Crush from Magnolia Days inspired by Orange Crush by REM
Pineapple Lemonade Slushy with Coconut Water from Sue’s Nutrition Buzz inspired by Lemon Tree by Peter, Paul & Mary
Strawberry Tequila from Shockingly Delicious inspired by Strawberry Fields Forever by The Beatles

Overture (Appetizers):
Mustard Dill Beer Bread from Curious Cuisiniere inspired by In Heaven There Is No Beer a German Polka

Intermezzo (Entrees & Sides):
Chicken and Bacon Cheddar Waffles from I Run For Wine inspired by Glady’s Knight
Classic Fried Chicken from The Food Army Wife inspired by Chicken Fried by Zac Brown Band
Margarita Chicken from In The Kitchen With KP inspired by Margaritaville by Jimmy Buffet
Meatball Duet from Cindy’s Recipes and Writings inspired by On Top of Spaghetti by Tom Glazer
Pan-Seared Halibut with Corn Hash and Asparagus Puree from Crazy Foodie Stunts inspired by Saturday Night Fish Fry by Louis Jordan
Slow Cooker Sweet and Spicy BBQ Pulled Pork from Neighborfood inspired by Something Like That by Tim McGraw
Spaghetti and Pork Meatballs from Family Foodie inspired by On Top of Spaghetti by Kidsongs
Teriyaki Burger from Juanita’s Cocina inspired by Cheeseburger in Paradise by Jimmy Buffet

Finale (Desserts):
Banana Cream Pie Bars from Peanut Butter and Peppers inspired by Tra La La Song by The Banana Splits
Banana Pancake Ice Cream with Maple Brittle from Foxes Love Lemons inspired by Banana Pancakes by Jack Johnson
Cherry Pie from My Cute Bride inspired by Cherry Pie by Warrant
Cherry Marshmallows from Pies and Plots
Chocolate Cappuccino Cream Puffs from Runner’s Tales inspired by Choux Pastry Heart by Corinne Bailey Rae
Chocolate Chip, Walnut and Caramel Banana Bread Ice Cream Sandwich from Ruffles & Truffles inspired by Hollaback Girl by Gwen Stefani
Chocolate Covered Caramels from Big Bear’s Wife inspired by At Last by Etta James
Coconut Rum Blondies from Gotta Get Baked inspired by I’ve Got A Lovely Bunch of Coconuts by Danny Kaye
Easy Blueberry Recipe: Fruit Tart from Growing Up Gabel inspired by Blueberry Hill by Fats Domino
Espresso Nib Ice Cream from Vintage Kitchen Notes inspired by Black Coffee by Ella Fitzgerald
Fancy Watermelon Lime Popsicles from Daily Dish Recipes inspired by Watermelon Crawl by Tracy Byrd
Fresh Peach Pie from Killer Bunnies, Inc. inspired by Sweet Sweet Pie by PWEI
Jammin’ Oatmeal Cookies from What Smells So Good? inspired by Jammin’ by Bob Marley
Many Flavors Whipped Cream from Noshing with the Nolands inspired by Whipped Cream and Other Delights by Herb Albert and the Tijuana Brass
Peach Basil Pie from The Girl In The Little Red Kitchen inspired by Peaches by POTUSA
Pina Colada Poke Cake from Cookin’ Mimi inspired by Two Pina Coladas by Garth Brooks
Peach Donuts with Brown Sugar from Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks inspired by Peaches by POTUSA
Peach Strudel with Honey Bourbon Frozen Yogurt from A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures inspired by My Favorite Things from The Sound of Music & Wild Honey by U2
Rainbow Pops from The Urban Mrs inspired by Ice Ice Baby by Vanilla Ice
Salted Ripple Chip No-Churn Ice Cream from Cupcakes & Kale Chips inspired by Ice Cream by Sarah McLachlan
Salted Peanut Swirl Peanut Butter Ice Cream from girlichef inspired by Salt Peanuts by The Quintet
Shall We Dance? Fairy Cakes from The Ninja Baker inspired by Shall We Dance from the Japanese Film
Sugar Crusted Zucchini Bread from That Skinny Chick Can Bake inspired by Sugar, Sugar by the Archies
Tangerine Sorbet from Webicurean inspired by Tangerine Speedo by Caviar
Yeasted Banana Bread from Jane’s Adventures in Dinner inspired by I Like Bread and Butter by The New Beats

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