Archive for July, 2012

Patriotic Cocktails for the Olympics

It’s more than just alliteration; it’s a statement, a proclamation that Thursdays are when the weekend should really start. Kicking it off right is the key, and what better way than with a cocktail that not only takes the edge off, but tastes good too. A hard thing to disagree with, we know. Drink up, get down and go to sleep happy.

The Olympics are upon us, and if you’re anything like us, you’ll be spending the next two weeks drooling over swimmers’ bodies, re-creating gymnastic routines in your living room to disastrous results and wondering if it isn’t too late to devote yourself to the sport of synchronized swimming in time for the next Olympic Games.

The Olympics are also a great excuse to have friends over to watch your favorite competition and imbibe in a cocktail or two. Since themed menus are a great way to turn simply getting drunk during the day into a festive celebration, we’ve gathered some of our favorite national cocktails from all over the world so you can root for your favorite country while sipping a patriotic cocktail.

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Spiked Watermelon Jell-O — Drink and Dessert in One

When summer rolls around, I always look forward to sinking my teeth into a wedge of watermelon — its sweet juices cooling my throat and dripping down my chin in equal measure. And when it gets super hot outside, I think about those watermelon Italian ices from the ice cream truck or pool snack bar, eaten very carefully with a small wooden spoon. For me, watermelon equals summertime.

So for my next Jell-O recipe, I decided to captured that sweet watermelon flavor and added a tart, adult twist. Made with watermelon cubes, freshly squeezed lime juice and a splash of vodka, this Jell-O is perfect for serving at a backyard pool party or other outdoor affair. The pureed watermelon gives the mold more substantial texture — similar to that of a frozen treat — which just may force some impromptu childhood reminiscing.

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Sifted: Decadent French Toast + Our New Takes on Picnic Recipes

White Chocolate Raspberry French Toast by Raspberri Cupcakes

5 Hot Links We’re Loving:

  1. Raspberri Cupcakes’ white chocolate + raspberry French toast is a blissful morning treat to kick start a fabulous day.
  2. The Slow Roasted Italian’s recipe for pretzel buns is a tasty twist for your next burger night. They’re also great to enjoy by themselves.
  3. Have you tried Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter? These rich, chocolatey truffles by From Which Things Grow are enough reason to go buy a jar.
  4. 80 breakfasts is an expert when it comes to her morning meals. So when she says to bake an egg in avocado (and top with cheddar cheese), we add it to our list of things to try out.
  5. This summer pasta salad by The Talking Kitchen fits right in at a summer picnic. It’s as simple as letting the brie, garlic, tomatoes and basil marinate to form a delicious dressing.

Craving More?

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Summer Fest: Our Top 5 Favorite Squash Recipes

No Cook Summer Squash Salad with Lemon and Herbs

Our season-long garden party Summer Fest 2012 welcomes food and garden bloggers to feature garden-to-table recipes and tips. We’ll feature favorite garden-to-table recipes and tips to help you enjoy the bounty, whether you’re harvesting your own goodies or buying them fresh from the market. Fresh this week: summer squash.

Any way you slice your seasonal squash it’s going to taste delicious. And since all of the parts of squash are edible, from the flesh to the skin, you can eat it in a variety of ways. Slice it thinly on a mandoline, cut it into chunks and top it with cheese or hollow out part of the inside and serve it stuffed.

Here are our favorite ways to cook summer squash:

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Hump Day Snack: 71-Gallon Daiquiri Breaks the World Record

World's Bigger Daiquiri

Last week we posted a recipe for the classic Hemingway Daiquiri to celebrate National Daiquiri Day. This week a group of bartenders in Cuba mixed 270 liters of the late author’s favorite rum cocktail in a 6 1/2-foot glass, attempting to set the world record for largest daiquiri. It looks like our Thirsty Thursday column inspired history!

Whether or not they read our post, what they were actually up to was commemorating the 195th anniversary of the bar El Floridita in Havana, Cuba, where the Nobel Prize-winning author of The Old Man and the Sea enjoyed hitting back a few doubles after a long day of writing.

Here are some recipes for our most refreshing summer cocktails. Feel free to 2,000-tuple if you are looking to set some records of your own.

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5 Ways to Drink Tequila (Beyond the Margarita)

Here at Cooking Channel, we love us some tequila. Not just because this blue-agave-born liquor is the star of the margarita — arguably our favorite cocktail — but because the sweet, woodsy or smoky spirit (depending on distillery and age) adds its fire to pretty much any mixed drink. This National Tequila Day, salt your margarita glass rims for a different sort of sipper (it’s the Mexican vessel of choice for any tequila-based beverage).

5 Ways to Get Your Tequila On:

1. Follow Chuck’s lead and turn those lemons into a minty-fresh spiked lemonade (shown above).

2. Mix up a two-tone sangria with a pineapple-tequila base and a red wine topper.

This sangria's twice as nice (though you may not think so tomorrow)

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Let’s Have a Kiki with Cooking Channel

Let's Have a Kiki - The Scissor Sisters

Let Cooking Channel help you throw a Kiki to remember.

Some of you undoubtedly have heard the Scissor Sisters‘ viral dance anthem, “Let’s Have a Kiki.” The song chronicles a girl’s night out gone terribly wrong – torrential rain, no cabs, and to top it all off — police busting up the party. Frizzy hair, runny mascara, having to take the subway, and the NYPD: What could be worse? The only thing that could save this night is a Kiki: the ultimate after party.

We love (a can’t-stop-playing kind of love) this song.  So after endless repeats, we decided to riff off of our Party in Five series and see what it would take to throw the Kiki of our (wildest) dreams.

Party in Five: Let’s Throw a Kiki 

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Mix It Up: Breadcrumbs in Ice Cream

Ice Cream Mix Ins

Your job as an ice cream maker is to make unforgettable flavors. By combining ingredients that are iconic, and retooling classic combinations, you arrive at ice cream that becomes the main event. Each ice cream has many components that contribute to its character – color, crunch, cream, scent. All of those add up to create the sensory experience of the flavor – but it’s more than that, it becomes a personality. You create the personality of an ice cream by mixing and matching the base ice cream flavor with exciting sauces or bits that are added after the ice cream freezes in the canister machine.

What I love is that subtle tweaks to a recipe can alter the whole theme of the ice cream – and that changes what you believe about it and has a big affect on how you perceive the flavor. One of my favorite additions to ice cream is simple bread crumbs. I usually double toast them, and when added to ice cream they absorb the sugar syrup in the cream and become soft and cake-like. You can do a lot with bread. Consider the personality of these three similar, but very different ice creams, each made by adding toasted bread crumbs to the ice cream and layering jam throughout:

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Party in Five: Mexican Fiesta

Photo: Melanie Grizzel

In the summertime, entertaining needs to be easy — so you have more time to sit back, relax, and enjoy the warm-weather eats. We set out to create fun, complete party experiences using only five essential ingredients, from tasty food and drinks to decor and games. Party on!


Here in Texas, we eat a lot of Mexican food; Tacos, enchiladas and guacamole are such a staple on my dinner table that they practically constitute their own food group. So when the outdoor temps heat up, I love to make these favorites feel a little more festive by throwing a south-of-the-border fiesta complete with frosty margaritas, colorful maracas and a candy-filled piñata. I recently celebrated summer’s arrival with such a fête in my backyard, and jazzed up my normal outdoor setup with vibrant flowers, a spicy menu and décor that channeled a Mexican beach town.

To throw this fiesta at home, you need five essential ingredients:

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Meatless Monday: Grilled Vegetables

grilled vegetables

Grill once, eat for days.

Meatless Monday is a global movement, a way of life. It’s not a campaign to turn everyone in the world vegetarian or vegan; in fact, many involved are meat-lovers. Eating less meat has been proven to reduce the risk of disease, curb obesity and has important environmental impacts, too. Will you join us in giving up meat, just for one day a week?

Grilled vegetables, like whipped cream, is one of those ideas where the recipe, complete with ingredients, is right in the name. You whip some cream. You grill some vegetables. You may not need much more instruction than that. But I think it’s better to look at grilled vegetables as a strategy rather than just a recipe. If you grill some vegetables tonight, you’ll have your meals set for a week.

Throw whatever you’ve got in the garden on the grill, brushed with a bit of olive oil — peppers, zucchini, squash, eggplant, onions — season with some herbs and vinegar once they’re done and you have not just a meal for tonight, but the basis for several meals for the rest of the week. The key is leaving the vegetables on the hot grill long enough for them to get those fabulous grill marks, and also to make enough to last you a few days.

Once you have a big batch of grilled veggies, you can chop some up in to smaller bits and add them to omelets, frittatas or quiche for breakfast. For lunch or dinner, simply toss grilled vegetables with pasta and bocconcini, or layer the vegetables with hummus or soft cheese on ciabatta to make a better-than-any-restaurant meat-free meal. Add the grilled vegetables to greens for a hearty salad, or add some herbs and feta to make Ellie Krieger’s minted vegetable salad. Top pizza with grilled vegetables, layer some into lasagna or stuff them into quesadillas or burritos. The vegetables you grilled at the start of the week can be used to make a quick meal any time of day, save for dessert (try grilling fruit for that instead).

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