Labor Day Cocktail O’Clock: Shandy Slushy

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Just because summer is unofficially coming to a close doesn’t mean it’s time to stop drinking frozen cocktails! (We’d generally argue it’s never time to stop drinking frozen cocktails, but that’s a whole other story.) Take a long, hot gander at The Shush, an off-menu drink offered at El Original TX-MX In Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen, where tipplers in the know can slurp on either a grapefruit or lemon slushy shandy, saying goodbye to the last hot-ish days of summer in style. Read on for both recipes.

 

Lemon Shush

4 Servings

Ingredients

– Curious Traveler Lemon Shandy (1 bottle)

– 3 oz. of fresh lemon juice

– 3 oz house made honey syrup (see below)

– A dash of bitters

 

Honey syrup ingredients:

– 3-5 cubes of fresh pineapple

– Lemon zest to taste

– 3 oz. of honey

– 54 oz. of crushed ice

Muddle fresh pineapple then add lemon zest and honey. Bring to a boil on a stove and let it cool to room temperature.

 

Slush Directions:

Break down crushed ice as much as possible so the carbonation of the shandy won’t dilute the slushy.  Blend till smooth. Combine all ingredients, except shandy. Add the homemade honey syrup, water and lemon juice. While those are blending, add shandy base.

Garnish with a dash of bitters and lemon wedge.

 

Grapefruit Shush

Serving size 4

Ingredients:

– Traveler Grapefruit Shandy (1 bottle)

– 3 oz. of grapefruit juice

– 1 oz. of lime juice

– 2 oz. mint simple syrup (see below)

– 54 oz of crushed ice

 

Mint simple syrup ingredients:

– 3-5 pulled mint leaves

–  2 parts water

– 1 part sugar

Combine mint leaves with 2 parts water and 1 part sugar. Bring to a boil and then let it cool to room temperature.

 

Slushy directions:

Use crushed ice to be broken down as much as possible so the carbonation of the shandy won’t cause it to separate or dilute. Blend till smooth. Combine all ingredients (except shandy). Add the mint simple syrup, water and lemon juice. While those are blending, add Shandy. Garnish with a ruby red grapefruit wedge.

Garnish with grapefruit wedge and mint sprig

Cuban-Hawaiian Mashup Pork Sliders with Hatch Chile Pimento Cheese

Cuban-Hawaiian Mashup Pork Sliders with Hatch Chile Pimento Cheese

Cuban-Hawaiian Mashup Pork Sliders with Hatch Chile Pimiento Cheese

Sometimes you just want every flavor at once, you know? Late August is so hot and steamy that I can’t get enough fresh, fruity tropical flavors… pineapple, I’m looking at you! But it’s also hatch chile season in the southwest and these smoky, delightful lil peppers are everywhere, and everyone in Texas looooves cooking with them.

I had a beautiful Smithfield Teriyaki Marinated Fresh Pork Tenderloin and I was craving a Cuban sandwich, so I figured, why not incorporate the teriyaki flavors and give it a slight Hawaiian flair by adding some sweet grilled pineapple into the mix? Then I also realized I had a bunch of the aforementioned hatch chiles to use, and thought about how much I love spicy and sweet together… and decided to give my sandwich a Texas twist by whipping up a swiss & hatch pimento cheese spread instead of your traditional slice of swiss cheese.

Cuban-Hawaiian Mashup Pork Sliders with Hatch Chile Pimiento Cheese

Then I realized that these were going to be HUGE flavor bombs and made them into little sliders instead of giant sandwiches, which was a great choice. (I also realized that making sliders meant I could use my very favorite soft Hawaiian slider rolls, and who doesn’t love that?) These Cuban-Hawaiian-Texan pork tenderloin sliders have so much delightful texture and flavor going on, little bite-size morsels are perfect. And while they might sound a little cray-cray, they don’t take all day-day (ha) to make. Even though they taste complex, they took me under a half hour from start to finish! Serve these alongside a cool, crunchy salad for a summertime dinner, or maybe as an app at your next cookout.

Cuban-Hawaiian Mashup Pork Sliders with Hatch Chile Pimiento Cheese

Cuban-Hawaiian Mashup Pork Sliders with Hatch Chile Pimento Cheese

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Not Your Grandma’s Roast Chicken

Photo: Sideways.nyc

Photo: Sideways.nyc

For most serious foodies, chicken has long been that “other” item on the menu — the one that you might order if it’s fried, but otherwise would never prioritize over pork or beef. But lately I’ve seen more than a few restaurants that put fowl front and center, making the humble bird their centerpiece dish. None more so than Le Coq Rico, which I first read about in The New York Times earlier this summer, and simply had to have their gloriously golden roast chicken, 100-degree weather be damned.

The restaurant was kind enough to share Chef Antoine Westermann’s recipe for the perfect roast bird, a deceptively simple dish where butter and olive oil rubbed all over — and inside — the chicken make a world of difference.

Roast Chicken, Westermann Style

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Green Belt Cocktail

Cocktail O’ Clock: The Green Belt

Green Belt CocktailIf there’s one thing Austin likes to do in the summertime, it’s DRINK. When you’re dealing with hot-ass 100 degree sun on a daily basis, what else can you do?! Luckily alcohol brands realize our dire need for a cold cocktail, and there’s lots of fun, booze-focused festivities here on a pretty regular basis.

Take New Amsterdam Vodka, for example. They’re hosting the It’s Your Town party this Saturday, focusing on street art plus vodka (two things I can totally get behind). New Amsterdam Vodka says, “we’ve partnered with local street artist Bradford Maxfield to create seven original pieces of work for It’s Your Town, including a larger-than-life mural inspired by the nightlife and music scene of the city.”

I’m into it!

New Amsterdam Vodka was nice enough to share one of their Austin-focused signature cocktails with us. If you don’t live in the Austin area or can’t find Juiceland or Topo Chico near you… feel free to substitute with your favorite cold-pressed green juice blend and favorite sparkling water (La Croix, anyone?). It won’t be quite as Austin-y, but I guarantee it will still be delicious.

The Green Belt

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Happy National Watermelon Day!

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Tomorrow, August 3rd is apparently National Watermelon Day…a holiday I’ve been personally pre-celebrating pretty much every day for the past three weeks or so. Fresh watermelon is pretty much my favorite thing about summer, but this year I’ve also noticed a plethora of watermelon drinks on the market. One of the tastier ones I’ve sampled is Sparkling Ice’s Strawberry Watermelon fizzy drink, and for the holiday occasion they’ve offered up this fabulous recipe for filling your watermelon with…what else? Watermelon!

Pomegranate Watermelon Summer Slush

Ingredients:
1/2 Personal-size seedless watermelon, chilled, cut & cubed (about 5 cups)
1/3 Cup Sparkling Ice Strawberry Watermelon
2 Tablespoons lime juice
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 to 2 Cups ice
Small watermelon wedge, spear of blueberries a few pomegranate seeds (optional for garnishes)

Directions:
In a blender, combine all ingredients and blend until smooth. Garnish as desired and serve in a hollowed-out watermelon shell for a fun “fish bowl” inspired drink.

Oh, and if you’re not liking this whole “mock” thing….sub in some hard stuff!
Sparkling Watermelon Vodka Lemonade

Ingredients:
3 Cups seedless watermelon pieces
3 Lemons, juiced
1/2 Cup Vodka
1/4 Cup Fresh Mint
2 Cups Lemon Lime Sparkling Ice

Directions:
In a blender, puree the watermelon and lemon juice, strain through a sieve into a drink pitcher. Add mint, vodka and Lemon Lime Sparkling Ice, then stir. Serve over ice and garnish with fresh mint.

Beef and Blue Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

Beef and Blue Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

Beef and Blue Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

4th of July weekend is upon us! As the most highly anticipated summer cooking holiday of the year (sorry Memorial Day and Labor Day, but you know it’s true…) it’s imperative to have your menu game on point. And I’m not talking just the expected hot dogs and hamburgers. You need some winning sides ready if you’re going to impress at that neighborhood BBQ or block party!

Stuffed mushrooms are one of my favorites appetizers or sides any time of year, because you can make them as heavy or light as you’d like them to be, depending on what you choose to fill them with. Plus, in the summer, you can even cook ’em on the grill! The cow-loving folks at the Texas Beef Council recently reached out to us with an especially inspired idea… next time you’re debating between making burgers or stuffed mushrooms, why not treat yourself to the best of both worlds and stuff a mushroom full of beefy, blue cheesy goodness?

 

Beef and Blue Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

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7 Delicious Toppings for Sweet Potato Toast

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Brought to you by the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission

Photo credit: Little Bits Of Blog

While classic avocado toast is one of our favorite morning treats, we can’t help but feel a tad guilty when we’re loading up on empty carbs morning after morning. Lucky for you (and us!), the latest trend in the breakfast world comes sans bread and is made up of nutrient-rich instead! Available year-round, this spectacular sweet spud is jam-packed with vitamin A and fiber, naturally sweetened from the earth and low in calories, making them the perfect meal for those on the go. And they can be used in so many ways, like as toast!

The best part? Whipping up this sweet treat is quick and easy. Pop your sweet potato into the microwave for 10 seconds to soften it up. Then simply slice some sweet potatoes about ¼-inch thick (we love NC Sweet Potatoes!) and pop ‘em in the toaster or toaster oven. We recommend toasting twice for a just-the-right amount of crunch. Once done, top with whatever your heart desires – whether it’s a little avocado or a whole lotta cheese, we know you’ll reach for it morning after morning.

Toaster

Photo credit: Little Bits Of Blog

Looking for some inspo? Read on for seven delicious toppings for your sweet potato toast!

Cheese, Please!

What’s tastier than creamy and rich brie cheese? Toast your sweet potatoes, spread your favorite brie on top and finish with some generous drizzles of sweet, locally-made honey. It’s the bee’s knees!

No Schmear Job

Love lox and bagels? While this breakfast all-star is a Sunday morning essential, it’s also loaded with calories that can slow down your day. The solution? Sweet potatoes, of course! Toast up some  , top ‘em with a little crème fraiche, pile on the smoked salmon and throw some capers on top for a little extra punch. Done and done!

Crazy for Coconut

Looking for something sweet? This dessert-inspired iteration will leave you pining for more! The best part? It’s a healthy way to get an all-natural sugar fix. Top with a healthy serving of almond butter, add some finely-chopped dates and complete the treat with a drizzle of coconut butter.

All About Almond

A tried-and-true favorite, this version is topped with almond butter, fresh banana slices, and sprinkles of sweet cinnamon. It’s a creamy concoction that we know you’ll swoon over.

peanut

Photo credit: Little Bits Of Blog

Hello, Hummus
Full of flavor and nutrition, this fresh and flavorful version can be whipped up in a matter of seconds. Simply top your “toast” with your go-to hummus and add some heirloom tomato slices on top. For an added kick, finish with a sprinkle of chili flakes or Himalayan salt.

Pesto Perfection

Simple and tasty, this sweet potato toast is topped with omega-3 rich pesto sauce (recipe here) and is guaranteed to become the best part of your morning routine. Bonus tip: make the pesto ahead of time so you can spread it on in a flash.

Anything-But-Basic Avocado
You didn’t think we’d forget the recipe that started it all, right? Top your spuds with some sliced avocado, a hint of salt, some fresh ground pepper and a little lemon zest and you’re set. If you’re in the mood for a little spice, whip out that Sriracha!

Avocado

Photo credit: Little Bits Of Blog

Like what you see? Watch the video below to find out why cooking with sweet potatoes is not only healthy, but simple. Plus, be sure to share photos of your sweet potato creations on Instagram with the #SweetPotatoToast hashtag!

This article was produced by NC Sweet Potatoes in collaboration with Endless Simmer.

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