Chicago Blogger Network




Blogs to Love

ABCD Design
At Home with Kim Vallee
Celebrations at Home

The Daily Basics
Everyday Celebrating
The Gracious Girl
Housewife Bliss
Hostess with the Mostess
It's in the Details
The Party Bluprints Blog
Pepper Design Blog
Thoughtfully Simple
Unchained Kitchen


Entries in recipes (100)


Spring menu featuring AVOCADO SORBET (and giveaway)

When you think of avocados, what comes to mind? Guacamole? Slices on a sandwich? Kitchens from the 1970s?

I'll bet "dessert" isn't on the top of your list, but when Amazing Avocados asked me to come up with a unique twist on one of my favorite foods, I immediately thought of Avocado Sorbet.

I know, we usually file avocados in the savory category, but their creamy texture perfectly lends themselves to dessert. This would be a great addition to your spring entertaining menu, especially as the weather starts to warm up. (Soon? I hope?)


1) To make four servings, slice two avocados in half. Discarding the seeds, scoop out the meat into a mixing bowl, and reserve the shells.


2) Mash the avocados well (I like to leave a few chunks). Mix in chopped cilantro, mint, simple syrup, and lime juice.


3) Spoon the mixture back into the shells. With the back of a teaspoon form a little well in the mixture. Freeze for one hour.


4) You could eat the sorbet now, but those wells are begging to be filled!

Option 1: Roll a ball of chocolate ganache in cocoa powder, and pop it in the center of the sorbet. Doesn't it look like an avocado seed? This option makes for a surprising dessert — chocolate and avocado are an unexpected but delicious pairing.


Option 2: Fill the well with a shot of tequila and serve with a slice of salted lime. I used an añejo ("aged") tequila. The tequila will melt the sorbet a little bit, lending a slightly slushy texture as you swirl the contents of your shell around with a spoon. Salud!

You really can't go wrong either way. The chocolate option is fun if you're still in an April Fool's mood, but my mind is on the warm weeks to soon come, and the outdoor parties to follow. Serve this sorbet with grilled salmon and mango salsa, an orzo-asparagus salad, and a crisp Reisling for a lovely spring meal.


Avocado Sorbet

You will need:
2 avocados
4 TBS chopped cilantro
2 TBS chopped mint
4 TBS simple syrup
Juice from 2 limes

chocolate ganache (I used King's Cupboard) and cocoa powder
tequila, coarse salt, slice of lime

1) Slice avocados in half. Discarding the seeds, scoop out the meat into a mixing bowl, and reserve the shells.

2) Mash the avocados, leaving a few chunks. Add cilantro, mint, simple syrup, lime juice, and mix well.

3) Spoon the mixture back into the shells. With the back of a teaspoon form a little well in the mixture. Freeze for one hour.

4) Optional: Fill the wells with a ball of chocolate ganache rolled in cocoa powder, or a serving of tequila (añejo style recommended) with a salted lime slice.

Serves four



This giveaway is now closed. Congrats to reader Alicia for winning!

Leave a comment below telling me your favorite use for avocados. A randomly selected reader will win a prize pack including:

  • a copy of Chef Roberto Santibañez’ cookbook, Truly Mexican
  • an “I <3 Avocado” t-shirt
  • an avocado slicer
  • a $10 gift card to a retailer where Avocados from Mexico are sold

The giveaway ends on Friday, April 5th at noon CDT. Open to US residents 18 years of age and older.

Gracias to One2One Network and Avocados from Mexico for sponsoring this post and giveaway.


Simple + Seasonal: Sage

We may determine the arrival of fall by the change in color of leaves but for me, it's also about the smells in the air. I love that moment when you realize that the air no longer smells sweet like summer but crisp from a cold snap with a hint of smoke from burning raked leaf piles. Around my house, the air is also heavy with the aroma of fall cooking-- apple pies, butternut squash soup, and roasted chickens. And where there's roasted chickens, there has to be sage.

I love sage-- the way it smells, tastes, looks and feels. The leaves are long and dark green with tips of purple, covered with a velvety fur. It has a strong, woody flavor and is also good for you, being a good source of calcium and Vitamin A.



Buy it fresh and it will keep for at least a week when stored in your refrigerator, the stems wrapped in a damp paper towel and kept in a plastic sandwich bag. Dried sage will keep for up to six months when stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark space.


Pairs with

Sage goes well with pork (think breakfast sausage-- that's the flavor you're no doubt tasting), chicken, turkey, and winter squashes.

But my favorite thing about sage? Throw it in some oil or butter and it crisps up beautifully. See for yourself by making this brown butter sage popcorn, a perfect autumnal snack to share with others after a day of apple picking or while watching a football game.


Brown Butter Sage Popcorn

Note: Brown butter is melted butter that is cooked until the milk solids are toasty brown. It's probably the most delicious substance on earth but can be tricky to make because there is a fine line between brown and burned.

Finely chop 1/4 cup of fresh sage leaves and place in a small, preferrably light colored pan with 6 tablespoons of unsalted butter. Turn the heat up to medium high until the butter melts. The butter will foam up, then once the foam dissipates, reduce the heat to medium low. Take a wooden spoon and stir the butter frequently. Do not walk away or turn your attention away from the butter because you need to keep an eye on it to make sure the milk solids don't burn. You're looking for the butter to turn a golden brown color and take on a sweet, nutty aroma, so a light colored pan helps with noticing the color change. Altogether, it should take about 5-7 minutes to brown. Pour the brown butter into a glass measuring cup and set aside while you pop the corn.

Pop 1/2 cup of yellow popcorn kernals in an air popper according to the machine's instructions. If you don't have an air popper, you can make it on the stovetop. Once you've made the popcorn, add it to a big bowl, pour on the brown butter, making sure to scrape in all those tasty bits of sage. Salt to taste with fine grain sea salt (I use 1 teaspoon) and mix. Serve it up right away and when the bowl is empty, I highly recommend using your fingers to pick and lick up any remaining crispy sage pieces that clung to the sides of the bowl.

Be sure to try using this sage brown butter on butternut squash ravioli or mix in toasted pumpkin seeds, for diping pieces of crusty bread for a twist on bread and butter too!

Simple + Seasonal Cooking by Christina Wong
Part of the Second City Soiree Contributor Series. Christina is the author of Unchained Kitchen and is on Twitter @cj_wong. Read her full bio here.


Simple + Seasonal: Ravishing RADISHES

I bet if you were playing a word association game, "radish" wouldn't come to mind when you hear the word "exciting." I can't blame you. We usually eat radishes raw, perhaps in a salad, and as Homer Simpson once taught us, you don't win friends with salad.

As members of the turnip and horseradish family, radishes look tame but they can have a pretty fiery kick. Between the variety of shapes, sizes, and color, not to mention their crisp texture, cool and refreshing watery nature, and that hint of pepper, it's no wonder that the radish is a staple, an integral part to seriously complex and delicious dishes at restaurants everywhere.



At your grocery store, you'll likely find the basic radish we normally see at salad bars. Those are just fine, but take advantage of the warm spring weather and support your local farmers by hitting a farmer's market to find gorgeous varieties like Easter egg, pink beauties, watermelon (halved lengthwise then sliced, they look like actual watermelon slices) and icicle radishes. Pepperiness does not correlate with size but rather with how long it took to grow. Split or cracked radishes may either be a sign of age or a sudden influx of moisture.



Remove the tops from radishes to keep them crisp longer. The tops attract moisture making radishes soft. Store the green leafy tops in a plastic bag in your crisper for 2-3 days; store the radishes whole in a plastic bag in your refrigerator for 5-7 days.



Be sure to eat your radish greens! They can be sauteed in a little bit of oil with garlic and red pepper or eaten raw in a salad. For the radishes, serve them raw as part of a salad or on an appetizer platter. Steam or saute them in some butter to add to entrees. You can also thinly slice them on a mandolin then deep fry them, making radish chips. Just make sure to scrub the dirt off of them with a vegetable brush and trim the stem and root ends off before preparing radishes to your liking.


Here are two ideas for making radishes the star of an appetizer platter. Their bright colors and the refreshing yet peppery bite of a radish straight out of the refrigerator make them perfect for late spring or summer entertaining.

The Mediterranean Plate

 Cube 4 ounces of a good, firm feta cheese (preferrably not packed in water.) Cut half of an English cucumber into 1 inch pieces. Lightly grill 2-3 pieces of naan, pita, or some other flat bread. Trim radishes or for even more color and height, scrub them clean but serve them attached to their leafy greens in a bunch. Arrange these elements on a serving platter then sprinkle the border with flakey sea salt and a small dish of hummus. Tasters should feel free to dip a radish in some of the sea salt before eating it paired with the feta for an outstanding contrast between the crunch of the radish and the creamy texture of the cheese.


The French Plate

Place 4 ounces or 1 stick of room temperature butter in a medium bowl. Add 1 tablespoon each of up to three of your favorite fresh herbs, finely chopped-- I love the combination of chives, parsley and dill. Add a pinch of salt and pepper then mash together with a fork. Optional-- add 1/2 teaspoon of freshly grated lemon zest to the butter as well. Place the herb butter in a small bowl and serve with toasted slices of baguette and thinly sliced radish rounds that have been sprinkled with flakey sea salt. As an alternative, you can make lovely looking bruschetta by spreading the butter on cooled but toasted baguette slices, arranging the radish slices on top then sprinkling with sea salt right before serving.


Simple + Seasonal Cooking by Christina Wong
Part of the Second City Soiree Contributor Series. Christina is the author of Unchained Kitchen and is on Twitter @cj_wong. Read her full bio here.


Three UNIQUE Leftover LAMB Recipes

Last week, I made lamb.

Well, let's back up. I ordered a leg of lamb off of Peapod, sight unseen, and didn't think about how enormous it would be for just my husband and I. (I also successfully boned, butterflied, and trimmed said leg of lamb, but that's material for a different post.) Needless to say, it was a festival of lamb in the Luby household for the following nights.

Maybe you've got some lamb leftover from Easter. If so, try the three recipes I made last week. Each is different enough that you won't feel like you're having lamb...again.


Start with - Yogurt-Mint Marinated Grilled Leg of Lamb (This recipe doesn't call for butterflying the leg, but I did so anyway, and it turned out great)

Leftovers 1 - Lamb Rissoles (These gently fried lamb meatballs are a favorite of Queen Elizabeth II.)

Leftovers 2 - Lamb Curry (I didn't have apples, plus had to substitute chicken stock for beef stock. Both adaptations worked fine.)

Leftovers 3- Lamb salad (Thinly slice the lamb, and sautee in olive oil until carmelized. At the very end, add a dollop of sour cherry jam, and stir until all pieces are coated. Serve on dark leafy greens with chopped roasted beets and grapefruit pieces. Some crumbled feta cheese would be nice, too.)


How to DINE like the MAD MEN

Do I even need to remind you that AMC's Mad Men is coming back this Sunday? The 17-month hiatus has been a too-long separation from one of my favorite shows. The decor! The wardrobes! The stories! The...food?

Actually, yes. My inner anthropologist loves seeing what Betty serves for a party or what Don orders for lunch. Is there ever a bad time for deviled eggs and rumaki? I should think not, and happily, Judy Gelman and Peter Zheutlin agree.

Their nearly 300 page volume The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook is part recipe book, part social history, part city guide, and all delicious nostalgia from a time when it was de rigueur to use the good silver on a regular basis.

Recipes reference both Mad Men episodes (Pete's California Dip from "Red in the Face") and mid-century hotspots where the Sterling Cooper crew might have dined (21 Club Vodka Gimlet).

Interspersed throughout the book is commentary on 1960s life plus dialog from the show. I was particularly amused by Betty's dilemma on how to dress up celery sticks without using capers. They get might get stuck in the carpet, you know. Try this recipe for your Mad Men viewing party, or any time you feel like inviting the friends over for cocktails. Just don't forget to polish the silver!

Betty’s Stuffed Celery

adapted from The Good Housekeeping Cookbook (Hearst, 1963)

3 ounces soft cream cheese
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
8 chopped stuffed olives
10 minced blanched almonds
4 long, wide crisp celery stalks

1. Combine cream cheese, mayonnaise, olives and almonds in a small bowl.
2.  Stuff celery stalks with filling. Chill well. Cut into bite-size pieces, or 2-3 inch pieces before serving.
Yield:  About 8 servings
Reprinted with permission: The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook: Inside the Kitchens, Bars, and Restaurants of Mad Men by Judy Gelman and Peter Zheutlin (Smart Pop, 2011)
Photo Credit: 30aeats


Get more Mad Men party ideas plus printable coasters:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...