New Year’s Resolution: Drink More Coquito

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Cocktails, beer, wine, does it really get any better? The holiday season brought us several additional pounds, great food, and obviously tons of booze. BUT, you may have missed out on one of the best parts of the holidays: the Coquito. Coined as “Puerto Rican Egg Nog,” the Coquito brings Christmas flavors to the palate in addition to sweet flavors of coconut and rum. Sounds awful, I know.

I jealously overheard a co-worker saying, “they should fill Nalgene bottles of that shit” and was instantly intrigued. Turns out it was some kind of amazing concoction of coconut, rum, cream and spices. Some use egg, others do not. I spent the rest of my day dreaming of booze and Christmas. When I come home to the wife, she has a small bottle of “some kind of Puerto Rican drink.” BOOM. Santa WAS good to me! Unfortunately, the bottle went quickly and I now need a recipe. Not the kind of recipe you find online. I want a genuine Puerto Rican recipe with all the secrets in it. Anyway, you may still be wondering what it tastes like.

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Happy IPA Day! + Coconut

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Yes, we have National Tequila Day, National Cheesecake Day—whatever you want. Thanks to the world of Hallmark making up expensive holidays for men, anyone can make up a holiday. But for this one, I embrace. Social media is everything, so it shouldn’t surprise you that two twitter fiends (Ashley Routson (@TheBeerWench) and Ryan Ross (@RyanARoss) decided to create international IPA day. So what are you going to do on this glorious occasion? Put down the Bud Light Lime and open your mind to the endless world of IPAs.

What’s a good choice to start with? How about the Stone Collaboration R & R Coconut IPA? Yes—coconut. The whole purpose of IPA day is to embrace craft brewing, so why not drink a craft brew that was also brewed with homebrewers? At 2013’s Stone Homebrew Competition, Robert Masterson and Ryan Reschan’s coconut IPA made it to the final tasting, where a panel made up of Stone CEO & Co-founder Greg Koch, President & Co-founder Steve Wagner, Brewmaster Mitch Steele, Craft Beer Ambassador “Dr.” Bill Sysak and several Stone brewers chose their brew as the best. A homebrewer’s dream: brew large batch with some cool dudes. Win.

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Cocktail O’ Clock: Tropical Vietnamese Cocktail

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Summer! It’s time to bust out the festive tropical flavors. Austin Vietnamese restaurant PhoNatic is taking this idea to a whole new level with their Vietnamese tropical fruit cocktail, using unique ingredients like lychee, longan, and jackfruit. While these might sound exotic and hard to find at first, they’re really not – just check out your local Asian market.

While this isn’t our traditional cocktail – it’s a fruit cocktail, not a booze cocktail – you could easily spike it with a couple shots of light rum to get the party started. ES recommends this, of course.

Vietnamese Tropical Fruit Cocktail

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Graham Crackers Gone Wild! Top 10 Ways to Use Your Leftover S’mores Ingredients

It’s time to stock up on chocolate bars, marshmallows, and graham crackers. It’s s’mores season. Typically you’ll see the chocolate go first, then the marshmallows, but every year those poor graham crackers are left over to stale up. It’s a shame…rarely does someone crave a plain honey graham cracker. I actually enjoy one with some peanut butter spread and dunked in an ice cold glass of milk. But I digress. For the rest of you who don’t like the poor old “boring” graham, here are some ideas for what to do with them (other than s’mores of course):

10. Graham Cracker Peanut Butter Bars

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Recipe: The Wannabe Chef

Last time I did a top ten, I offended some by offering unhealthy choices. Well, as the humble person I am, and very thoughtful I may add, I found a choice that is gluten free. Gluten free, yet still scrumptious. Peanut butter, chocolate, graham crackers. You’re welcome.

9. Graham Cracker Chicken Bites

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Recipe: My Kitchen Snippets

I bet you thought these would all be deserts. Well, yet again you are wrong. Screw corn flakes—let’s add some sweet honey graham crackers to the mix and impress guests of all ages. This really is sweet and savory. Maybe for desert, you can get out the mallows.

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This One’s for the Ladies (at Least in My House)

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My husband is about the most un-picky eater I know.  While I happily eat down the fridge with alarming regularity (seriously, that and my, um, screw-ups are basically all I write about around here), he has truly mastered the art of eating what’s on hand. No croutons for the salad? Crushed up off-brand-Ritz will work just fine. All out of good cheese? Toss him a well-aged Kraft Single. In five years of marriage, he has enjoyed and endured my culinary successes and failures with an abundance of grace.

So, on the rare occasion that he expresses distaste for a certain food, I typically have no qualms about taking it out of rotation. Usually.

But then, a month or so ago, I made this cauliflower curry and I knew as soon as I tasted it that I had a winner.  Something about the combo of coconut oil (not milk, like my usual curries) and red curry paste and cauliflower just worked. I loved it. After dinner that night, though, the pronouncement came. “You know, this wasn’t bad.  But, well, cauliflower, it’s just not my favorite.” In husband-speak, “not my favorite” is the kiss of death to a dish.  I was sad.

This story has happy ending, though.  In the following weeks, I looked for any opportunity to make my new favorite dish for others. Fortunately, not all my friends feel as negatively toward cauliflower as that BFF who shares my bed.  My vegan friend Katie appreciated the animal-free heartiness.  My friend Kate (yes, all my friends really have the same name) declared it delicious, spicy but not too spicy, after warning me that she probably wouldn’t like it because she doesn’t like a lot of things.  It’s my new go-to for any night my darling cauliflower-hater has to work late or is otherwise indisposed at the dinner hour, and I don’t have to feel guilty for making his favorite on a night he’s not home.

Oh, and just case you were wondering, what culinary delicacy does he and my son turn to when I am not home for dinner?  Why, frozen pizza, of course.  Or, if that’s not available, maybe some Ritz crackers with Kraft singles.

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Gluten-Free, Failure-Free: Red Currant Thyme Cake

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I’ve been experimenting with gluten-free baking for a few months now and have had quite a few failures. I would say maybe one in every ten gluten-free experiments actually turns out to be worth making again. This is one of those experiments, which was enjoyed immensely by both gluten eaters and gluten avoiders.

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Red Currant Thyme Cake

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Key Lime Coconut Sugar Cookies

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While these cookies might not be able to compete with the over-the-top showiness of the Twinkie Key Lime  Pie, they are a slightly more subtle (and just as delicious) alternative. Key lime zest and juice are combined with a chewy coconut sugar cookie and rolled in sparkling sugar to give them a nice crunch on the outside. Fiori di Sicilia gives these another level of complexity. You can substitute regular vanilla extract, but the splurge on this flavor is completely justified but the amazing flavor it gives. Regular granulated sugar can be substituted for the white  sanding sugar as well. This dough is best baked right after making. Chilling the dough yields an uneven cookie.

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Key Lime Coconut Sugar Cookies

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