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Archive for June, 2014

Red, White and Blue July 4th Berry Cake

The ultimate July 4th meal is eaten outside. It doesn’t matter where — sitting on your front porch, on a picnic blanket in the park, on a city roof, beachside — so long as you’re enjoying a warm summer night under the stars (and, if you’re lucky, watching fireworks). There is just something about the patriotic holiday that makes it best enjoyed in the company of a celebratory crowd (friends, family, neighbors, strangers). These red-white-and-blue cakes are the perfect ending for your festive meal. In addition to having the star-spangled palette, the cakes’ brown butter icing will hold up well at your alfresco gathering.

July 4th Red, White and Blue Berry Cake

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Frozen Friday: 4+ Ways to Use Leftover Fruit

We’re in for a long, hot summer. So to stave off heat stroke, we’re bringing you our favorite summer treats each week as part of Frozen Friday, giving you the scoop on our favorite ice-cold recipes and party ideas to help you stay cool all summer long.


Wondering how to use every last berry in the pints you buy? You could toss a few blueberries into your oatmeal or craft a last-minute blackberry garnish, but we suggest making your leftover fruit the main attraction. Better yet, transform your forgotten fruit into a frozen must-have. With some light yogurt or a drizzle of warm chocolate, these four simple recipes will guarantee that you and your pint finish strong.

1. Dreamy Berries & Cream ShakeFamily Fresh Cooking tosses frozen blueberries, raspberries and strawberries into the blender with vanilla protein powder and almond milk, then sprays on a touch of whipped cream for an early summer indulgence (pictured above).

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52 Weeks Fresh: Hardworking and Productive (Who Doesn’t Like a Garden Hero?)


Dry beans are quiet garden stalwarts. Kidney and black beans — my legumes of choice — produce abundant yields with few needs.

To maximize yield, plant beans early in the summer once the soil has warmed, then pull them from the ground when the pods are dry and the plant is mostly dead, in about 100 days. I plant seeds two or three times a season to increase yield.

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The Scoop: Cupcake Crazes and Plate Paintings

From cereal puffing guns to yogurt lawsuits, here’s a boiled down list of this week’s headlines:

  • Here to Stay: Google Trends convinces lovers and critics alike that cupcakes are already the next best thing.
  • Food for Thought: The U.S. might get its first major Museum of Food and Drink come 2019.
  • Bored of Boyardee: ConAgra Foods brands Healthy Choice, Orville Redenbacher’s and Chef Boyardee all face sales drops.
  • One Kandinsky, Please: A recent study shows that diners will pay twice the price for an artistic plate.

This Wonder Machine Makes Perfect Pancakes on a Stick

Pancakes are either the world’s best or world’s worst food, depending on how far along the stack you are. They are also surprisingly delicate to prepare, being extremely easy to burn to a blackened crisp. One of these days there will be a magnificent technology that takes pancake-making to its easiest and most convenient endpoint. Wait. That day is today? Oh yeah. That day is today.

Introducing the Roky, a marvelous lil gadget that makes perfect pancakes on a stick. Consider them like corn dogs, only without both the corn and the dog. All you do is pour batter in the machine, wait several minutes, and then enjoy an expertly prepared, elliptical pancake. It’s available only in Japan, for now, and costs $60.

Thirsty Thursday: Watermelon Martinis

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.

Break out your blender to whip up a slushy, cooling cocktail for summer. We suggest these frozen Watermelon Martinis as a start.

First, make ice cubes out of the watermelon by pureeing the sweet fruit and then pouring it into ice cube trays. This clever technique helps to maintain the full flavor of watermelon without dilution (since watermelon is already over 90 percent water). Once the watermelon cubes are frozen, blend them with simple syrup, lemon juice, vodka and melon liqueur.

Tip: Keep extra watermelon cubes in the freezer all summer, to spruce up lemonade, sparkling water or an impromptu martini anytime.

Bottoms up, folks!

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Summer Soiree: 5 Frozen Finales

Whether you celebrate summer with a rustic gathering, a feisty fiesta, or a retro Hawaiian fete, balmy evenings should end with an icy escapade. Once the meat is off the grill and the side dishes have been emptied, keep the crowd lingering longer with these frozen finales.

1. Grilled Banana Ice Cream Sandwiches: Briefly grilled banana bread gives the frozen sandwich a sturdy base, decorative flare and a smoky-sweet flavor (pictured above).

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Airbnb is Trying to Make the Dinner Table Even More Awkward

They call it the ‘sharing economy.’ You get to share something in your life, say a car, and get a teensy bit of money for your trouble. The company who facilitates the sharing gets an absolute boatload of money. Everybody wins! One of the first websites to start this trend was Airbnb, a site that allows you to turn random rooms in your house into a hotel. Now Airbnb have turned their communal eye toward supper time.

In addition to having a stranger in your bed, you can now have a stranger at your dinner table. The new service gives home chefs the ability to ply their trade in front of an impartial audience, namely that weird dude who hasn’t left the spare bedroom in three days. You get some, hopefully positive, reinforcement. They get some, hopefully edible, grub. Airbnb gets more money. Again, everybody wins!

Of course, if you are the type that travels a lot, it would be really cool to taste some truly local cuisine wherever you go, so the idea does have some merit.

Health Reasons to Eat Cherries

Around the country, cherry trees are bearing fruit. From bright red sours to blushing Rainiers and crimson Bings, cherries are a short-season treat that are a boon to your tastebuds and your health.

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Debi Mazar and Gabriele Corcos’ Favorite Cooking Music

We are living in the era of playlists, which makes me feel a bit old. I left my turntables and vinyl behind, when I moved to Los Angeles to chase Debi, but I shipped all of my CDs.

For many years Debi and I had one of the most-wonderful music libraries I have ever seen in my life: Her passion for old jazz, American classics and early hip-hop married well with my collection of Brazilian and Cuban albums. In our first house together, we had an entire library that showcased our music collection, and we lived the joy of popping a CD into the system until the very last breath of that music medium.

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