Roasted Strawberries with Balsamic Glaze

One of my favorite things about cooking for large groups is that it forces me to be creative. The groups that I serve generally have varied dietary restrictions and preferences, so I do my best to create recipes that will work for a maximum number of people.

That's how this simple dish of Roasted Strawberries with Balsamic Glaze came about. I needed to figure out a dessert that would work for folks who are gluten-free, vegan, and avoiding refined sugar.


I took fresh berries, removed the stems (but left them otherwise whole so as to keep the juices in the berry), and placed them in a baking dish. 20 minutes in the oven was all they needed to become plump and tender. I then drizzled them with a simple balsamic reduction (made while the berries roasted), and served.

They were glorious, so quick and simple. The non-vegans enjoyed them over some ice cream, while those who could eat wheat crumbled in cookies. You can also layer this over yogurt or pound cake, or serve topped with a dollop of whipped cream. Really so many possibilities from such a simple dish.

****
Love Always Order Dessert?
Let's connect! Follow me on Twitter or Pinterest, become a fan on Facebook, or sign up to receive my once-a-week e-mail updates. And if you ever need any entertaining or cooking advice, please don't hesitate to e-mail me. Thanks for reading!    


 
Roasted Strawberries with Balsamic Glaze
Serves 4

Ingredients
1 teaspoon coconut oil
1 1/2 pounds strawberries, stems removed (but not hulled)
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, cut into a chiffonade

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a ceramic baking dish with coconut oil, and arrange the berries a single layer. Roast 20 minutes, or until berries are tender.

While berries roast, place balsamic in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to a simmer. Let simmer about 5 minutes, or until vinegar has reduced by half into a thick syrup. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

When berries are ready, use a spoon to drizzle with balsamic glaze. Sprinkle with mint leaves and serve hot.

Giveaway: Win a $100 from Shari's Berries!

Tracking Pixel
I've got a sweet treat for you today!

I'm working with Shari's Berries to spread the news about their amazing cake pops (seriously...SO good!), and will be giving away $100 worth of Shari's Berries gift credit to one lucky reader.

Shari's Berries has long been one of my go-to's for last-minute gifts for family and friends.

(And...I'll just be honest...a LOT of my gifts are last-minute.)

But it's OK, because I know that I can pop online to their website, and easily select a delicious edible gift that I'm confident my loved one will enjoy, and have it to them anywhere in the country within 1-2 days, guaranteed.

I've always been a fan of their chocolate-dipped strawberries, but now I'm excited that they offer cake pops, too! They come in five super popular cake flavors including chocolate, vanilla, red velvet, peanut butter with Reese’s®, and cookies n’cream with Oreo® Cookies.

The cake pops arrive individually wrapped in an elegant box--a detail that I especially appreciate because it means you can enjoy them one at a time without worrying about the rest spoiling.

It's also great for office or corporate gifts, since people can each grab their own treat to enjoy at their desks.

I love entertaining, and cake pops are always such a fun choice for dessert. They're easy to grab and eat, and don't require additional plates or napkins. (Read: less mess and no dishes!)

I got to try all five of their flavors (yes. My job is rough), and loved how the sweet, crisp chocolate shells cracked to reveal moist, tender cake inside. The vanilla tasted like the birthday cake of my dreams.

I kept taking tiny bites and then I actually had Eugene bring most of them to work to save me from myself.


 

GIVEAWAY:

Want a chance to try these yourself? You're in luck! Enter below for your chance to win a $100 gift certificate to Shari's Berries, which you can use to buy a gift for friends, family, or even yourself (I won't judge!) 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Also...check out this cuteness:

This post is sponsored by Shari's Berries. Thank you for supporting companies like Shari's Berries who make it possible for me to keep creating great content and recipes for you.

Cumin Cilantro Yogurt Sauce

This tangy and slightly-spicy yogurt sauce is a regular at my home. I love serving this with fish tacos (another regular around here!), using it as the base dressing for chicken or tuna salad, or even with crudite as an easy dip.

Note that it's important to use Greek-style yogurt for this (full-fat, please!), as it will be too thin with regular plain yogurt.

****
Love Always Order Dessert? Let's connect! Follow me on Instagram, Twitter or Pinterest, become a fan on Facebook, or sign up to receive my once-a-week e-mail updates


And if you ever need any entertaining or cooking advice, please don't hesitate to e-mail me

Thanks for reading!     


Cumin Cilantro Yogurt Sauce
Makes 2 cups

Ingredients
2 cups plain Greek-style yogurt (preferably full-fat)
Zest and juice of 1 large lime
1/2 bunch cilantro, ends trimmed
1 small garlic clove
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
Kosher salt and black pepper

Directions
Combine yogurt, lime zest and juice, cilantro, garlic, and cumin in a food processor and puree until smooth. Season to taste with salt and black pepper, and serve chilled.


Summer Living: July POPSUGAR Must Have Box

Earlier this summer, I was offered the chance to check out a POPSUGAR Must Have box, which is a fun subscription service featuring a surprise selection of fun, girly, full-size products delivered to your door each month. I agreed, and was thrilled when my July box arrived!

Let's see what I got, shall we?

I'm totally a hat girl, so I was really happy with this packable wide-brimmed sun hat by Michael Stars. You can crush it up to stuff in your suitcase, then pull and reshape perfectly.

I'm always buying big sun hats and then throwing them out  because they get destroyed during my travels no matter how carefully I pack them, so this is genius.

I confess that I literally squealed when I saw the SunBum sunscreen and cooling aloe lotion in the box.

This is my favorite sunscreen brand, which I discovered when I stayed at The Standard in Miami back in May. I even raved about it on Instagram here. It smells amazing, is paraben-free (SO important!), can be used all over, including the face, and leaves my skin feeling soft and silky. I really recommend picking up a couple bottles of this!

I haven't tested out this TKO jump rope yet, but I might bring it with me on my next Vermont trip for an easy gym-less workout I can do right in my room.

Hopefully I won't knock over any priceless antiques while jumping.

(On second thought, perhaps I should take it outside...)

Pretty chevron paper straws from Acme Party Box Company for fun summer cocktails (I actually use these in my iced coffee, too!).

And these Dang toasted coconut chips really do live up to their name (dang good!). I like these sprinkled on top of yogurt with blackberries and lime curd--it's like dessert for breakfast.

I'm obsessed with these brightly colored French Bull chevron salad servers. These will definitely be making an appearance at my next dinner party.


There was also a tube of Revlon Bold Laquer mascara in there as a little bonus.

Overall, I'm loving all the goodies inside my box, and am actually signing up for next month's. If you'd like to get your own, pop on over to the POPSUGAR Must Have website and sign up. (There is still time to get the August box!).

xoxo

Alejandra

POPSUGAR provided me with a complimentary POPSUGAR Must Have box. The opinions I have shared about the box are my own and POPSUGAR did not tell me what to say or how to say it, and I was not otherwise compensated for this post.

Brazilian Shrimp Salad + A Giveaway!

While I admit that I have zero interest in soccer, one thing I did love about the World Cup was that it seemed to get people excited to explore new international recipes and flavors.

As the host country, Brazil definitely (rightfully!) got the most culinary attention, and I loved being able to read about different Brazilian recipes and cocktails that people were enjoying while watching the games.

To keep the momentum going, the folks at McCormick asked me to create a recipe featuring the Bahian Seasoning Blend, or Tempero Baiano--a traditional Brazilian spice and herb mix that's used as a base in many local recipes, and which has been getting a lot more attention lately. (Think of it as Brazil's local equivalent to an Indian garam masala or Chinese five spice.)

Containing oregano, smokey cumin, fragrant white pepper, and heat from ground cayenne, it's a flavorful blend that adds instant kick to any dish, but is also super simple to make using these very easy to find spices.

I include the proportions below for this recipe, but I totally recommend multiplying it, and making a big batch to use while cooking. You can use it on grilled meats, sauces, dips, and even salad dressings!

Since it's summer (and hot!) I decided to make a Brazilian-inspired shrimp salad using the spices, and some other fresh seasonal flavors.

With a creamy dressing and lots of color from fresh peppers and scallions, it's a bright and flavorful dish that's perfect for entertaining.

(I like serving this one with large corn chips or sliced bread on the side for dipping.)

It also makes AMAZING sandwiches--try stuffing it into warm, toasted hot dog buns for a twist on the classic lobster roll, or wrap it up inside a tortilla for an easy picnic lunch.

You can even serve it as a main course for lunch or a light dinner by piling it over salad greens like I did here.


GIVEAWAY
As part of this campaign, McCormick is giving away a $50 McCormick 125th Anniversary Prize Pack containing spices, a McCormick recipe book and a canvas tote.

To enter to win, all you have to do is comment below with one of you favorite flavor stories of the season--whether that's a scoop of tart lemon ice cream or a juicy burger or a dish you remember from childhood. Tell me about the best thing you've enjoyed at home or while traveling and be sure to include the hashtag #flavorstory with your comment.

For ever story shared, McCormick (who are currently celebrating their 125th anniversary!) will also donate $1 to United Way (up to $1.25 million) to help those in need around the world.

And to read and share more fun food and flavor stories, visit flavoroftogether.com.




RULES: US residents only. All entries must be in by 5PM EST on August 1st. One winner will be randomly selected and contacted via email.


This post is sponsored by McCormick. Thank you for supporting companies like McCormick who make it possible for me to keep creating great content and recipes for you.

****
Love Always Order Dessert?
Let's connect! Follow me on Twitter or Pinterest, become a fan on Facebook, or sign up to receive my once-a-week e-mail updates. And if you ever need any entertaining or cooking advice, please don't hesitate to e-mail me. Thanks for reading!      
 

Brazilian Shrimp Salad
Serves 6

Ingredients
2 1/2 pounds small (salad) shrimp, cooked, peeled, and deveined
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup plain yogurt
Zest and juice of 1 whole lemon
2 3/4 teaspoon Bahian Blend spice mix (see below for recipe)
1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
1/2 yellow or orange bell pepper, finely diced
1/3 cup sliced scallions

For the Bahian Blend
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne

Directions

Place shrimp in a large bowl
In a separate small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, yogurt, lemon, Bahian Blend, and kosher salt.

Add dressing to the shrimp along with the diced peppers and scallions. Toss to combine, then cover with plastic wrap and let chill and marinate at least two hours.

Serve shrimp salad with chips as an appetizer, in hot dog buns as sandwiches ("lobster roll" style), or on top of greens as a main course.

Fresh Strawberry Sorbet with Dark Chocolate Chunks

Hey, summer!

I'm loving life these days. Few things make me happier than sun and heat and being near water, and I'm just soaking it all in as much as I can with a delicious balance of work and play.

Last week I was up in Vermont cooking for a fabulous yoga retreat, and came back with a mile-high stack of new recipes and photos to share with you. Among them was this gloriously easy Fresh Strawberry Sorbet with Dark Chocolate Chunks.

It has just 5 ingredients (!!) and is the easiest thing ever to make--basically, just puree and churn! 

Make it now, when the strawberries are extra glorious. I swear it's like eating chocolate-covered strawberries by the spoonful.

This sorbet is based on an easy method from the River Cafe in London. The trick is to puree a whole lemon (rind and all!) with the strawberries and sugar. It adds gorgeous brightness and a hint of floral to the final sorbet. I often think sorbets are just way too sweet, but this one is absolute perfection.

You do need an ice cream maker for it (I use this one from Cuisinart which is less than $50!), but if you don't have one, you can also freeze the puree in popsicle molds to make delicious ice pops!

****
Love Always Order Dessert? Let's connect! Follow me on Instagram, Twitter or Pinterest, become a fan on Facebook, or sign up to receive my once-a-week e-mail updates


And if you ever need any entertaining or cooking advice, please don't hesitate to e-mail me

Thanks for reading!     

Fresh Strawberry Sorbet with Dark Chocolate Chunks
Makes about 1 3/4 quarts

Ingredients
2 large whole lemons, washed
2 cups granulated sugar
2 pounds strawberries, hulled and washed
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup dark chocolate chunks

Directions
Take one whole lemon and chop it up, removing the seeds, but keeping everything else (the peel, pulp, and juice). Add all that to the food processor along with the sugar, and puree until very smooth.

Juice and zest the second lemon and add to the food processor (discard the pulp, seeds, and pith from this one).

Add the hulled strawberries and salt, and puree with the lemons and sugar. Pour puree into your ice cream maker, and churn according to directions. Add the chocolate chunks during the last 5 minutes of the churning process.

The sorbet will be soft-serve texture at this point. Transfer to an air-tight container, and freeze at least 4 hours or until firm.



Vegan Roasted Tomato Crema

This simple creamy dip or sauce is one I make when cooking for vegan friends. It's wonderful served over tacos or roasted vegetables, as a dip for chips, or even as a spread in wrap sandwiches.

To make this extra creamy, make sure to use silken tofu, which is more delicate and will give the crema a light texture. Note that if you don't eat soy, you can also use coconut yogurt in place of the tofu.

****
Love Always Order Dessert?
Let's connect! Follow me on Twitter or Pinterest, become a fan on Facebook, or sign up to receive my once-a-week e-mail updates. And if you ever need any entertaining or cooking advice, please don't hesitate to e-mail me. Thanks for reading!    
   



Vegan Roasted Tomato Crema
Makes about 3 cups

Ingredients
6 roma tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
2 garlic cloves, minced
olive oil
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 pound silken tofu (half a typical package)
1/3 cup full-fat coconut milk
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne

Directions
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place tomatoes cut-side up on a baking sheet. Drizzle tomatoes with olive oil and sprinkle with minced garlic, pepper, and salt. Roast 15-20 minutes, or until tender. Remove from oven and let cool.

Combine tomatoes, along with any juices from the pan, silken tofu, coconut milk, and spices in the blender and puree until very smooth. Season with kosher salt and black pepper to taste. Then transfer to a bowl, cover, and chill until serving.

Variations: feel free to add fresh herbs, additional garlic cloves, or other spices to personalize the flavor.




How to Make Cold Brew

This past weekend I posted a few photos of my DIY cold brew concentrate on Instagram and Facebook, and got so many questions about it, that I decided to write up a quick post on it.

Here's what you do. This recipe makes just slightly less than 1/2 gallon of cold brew concentrate, which is enough for about 12 or so large iced coffees, depending on how strong you like them. You can easily double the recipe if you want more (the concentrate keeps well in the fridge for a couple weeks, or it can be frozen).


Start off with 1/4 lb of espresso ground coffee. Choose whatever kind you like (I've even done this with flavored coffee). Note that some will taste better than others, so play around until you find your favorite.

I'm a big fan of Bustelo, but I suspect that's a nostalgia thing for me.

Combine the coffee and 1/2 gallon of cool filtered water (that's 8 cups) in a large container or pitcher.

Give it a good stir and then cover with a cap or plastic wrap. Leave at room temperature for 8-10 hours.

You don't want to go much more than that as it will get too strong and a bit bitter. I like 8 hours exactly.


Strain the coffee through a cheesecloth set over a fine mesh sieve. This part takes a while, but it's key to avoid grainy coffee. You can also use a French press to strain out the coffee grinds.

Note that I don't have photos of this step because it's messy, and I needed both hands.

[UNRELATED TIP: I save the grinds, mix them with coconut oil, and use them as a body scrub!]

Once strained, transfer to a large seal-able container, and store in the refrigerator. I store mine in a large beverage dispenser with a spigot, for easy pouring.

To make the coffee:

This is all up to taste, but here is what  I like to do:

Fill a glass to the top with ice. Pour in cold brew concentrate until it reaches halfway up the ice-filled glass. If you're adding sweetener, add it now. Note that simple syrup works best here since it will dissolve easily.

Now, add water until it almost hits the top, saving room for milk or cream. Add milk or cream. Give it a little stir, and drink!


Some other ideas:
  • I like to add a little vanilla extract and ground cinnamon to my coffee before I add the water. It's delicious! 
  • I hear that condensed milk is also awesome in this, although I've never tried it myself. 
  • Note that depending on how strong or weak you like your coffee, you should add more or less water or coffee concentrate. Play around until you find what works best for you!

****
Love Always Order Dessert? Let's connect! Follow me on Twitter or Pinterest, become a fan on Facebook, or sign up to receive my once-a-week e-mail updates. And if you ever need any entertaining or cooking advice, please don't hesitate to e-mail me. Thanks for reading!    
    


DIY Cold Brew Concentrate Recipe
Makes 1/2 gallon 

Ingredients
1/4 lb espresso ground coffee
8 cups water

Directions
Combine coffee and water in a large container and let steep at room temperature for 8 hours. Strain through a cheesecloth-lined mesh sieve, and chill.

Follow directions above to prepare iced coffee. 




Hummus Cucumber Cup Appetizers

Meet your new favorite healthy summer appetizer idea!

Actually, I admit that this is less of a recipe than it is a method, but it's genius all the same, and once you have it down, you can really make it your own.

First you take a cucumber (I like the long English kind as they're generally pretty uniform all the length down), and remove a few strips of peel. This is totally for decorative reasons, and can ostensibly be skipped, but then you don't get the fancy peeled effect.

Now slice that cucumber into thick 1 1/2" pieces.


Next, you take a melon baller or round measuring spoon, and you scoop out a little well from each slice of cucumber that you can then fill with something delicious.

For this version, I used hummus (store-bought, although you can also easily make your own) and garnished them with some toasted pine nuts and chopped cilantro.

So simple, but these were a huge hit the first time I served them, and disappeared in seconds. It's great when you want to be able to offer a lighter alternative to the typical bread/potato/chip-based apps.

You can really have fun with these, too. Instead of hummus, fill them cucumbers with a fresh yogurt dip like tzatziki, smoked salmon cream cheese, egg salad, or tabbouleh.

Or instead of cucumber, use zucchini that's been cooked until al dente, and fill it with a pesto cream or chopped tomatoes (similar to bruschetta topping).

I always thought melon ballers were kind of a useless tool, but now I just want to scoop the hell out of everything.


Go forth and scoop!

****
Love Always Order Dessert? Let's connect! Follow me on Twitter or Pinterest, become a fan on Facebook, or sign up to receive my once-a-week e-mail updates. And if you ever need any entertaining or cooking advice, please don't hesitate to e-mail me. Thanks for reading!    
  


Hummus Cucumber Cups
Makes 24 appetizers

Ingredients
2 English Cucumbers, cut into 1 1/2" thick rounds
Kosher salt
1 10oz container hummus (or about 1 1/2 cups of your favorite homemade hummus)
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
Finely minced parsley, for garnish

Directions
Use a melon baller or round measuring spoon, scoop out the center of each cucumber to form a hollow. Season with kosher salt, and then fill each cucumber with a teaspoon or two of hummus.

Garnish with pine nuts and parsley, and an additional sprinkle of salt.

Arrange on a platter and serve immediately.

(For advance preparation, peel, cut and scoop the cucumber cups, but do not season. Store up 12 hours in an air-tight plastic bag or container then fill just before serving.)

LinkWithin