Raspberry Watermelon Basil Agua Fresca

Raspberry Watermelon Basil Agua Fresca

Summer is an evening on the porch, a cold drink in hand, the sun casting long shadows across the lawn, and the smell of an impending thunderstorm.

Summer is the taste of watermelon on my lips. Picking raspberries from a bush and popping them into your mouth right then and there; a whiff of basil and you pass by the herbs in the garden. Ice cubes. I never use ice cubes unless it's truly blistering out. 

Raspberry Watermelon Basil Agua Fresca
Raspberry Watermelon Basil Agua Fresca

It is so close, it feels like I can reach out an grab it with my hands, though of course I will just have to wait a few more weeks. 

Juices and smoothies seem a perfect fit for summertime, quenching and cooling all in one. This is a drink to enjoy while sitting on the back porch, with the chiminea lit and your flip flops on. Pick up a watermelon that feels heavy with juice, and raspberries that are deep red, make this agua fresca, and kick back. The long weekend is almost here! 

Raspberry Watermelon Basil Agua Fresca

Raspberry Watermelon Basil Agua Fresca

Published May 30, 2017 by
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Watermelon and raspberry get a sophisticated twist with the addition of basil.

Serves: 5   |    Total Time: 10 minutes



Ingredients:

    For the filling:
  • 1 cup of raspberries
  • 1 mini watermelon (about 6 cups chopped, rind removed)
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons honey, or more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons minced basil, plus more for garnish
  • Ice for serving

Directions:

  1. Rinse the raspberries, and remove the rind from the watermelon, chopping it into cubes.
  2. Place all ingredients in a blender (I use this one) and puree until smooth.
  3. Serve cold, over ice. Garnish with a sprig of basil.

30-Minute Ropa Vieja

30-Minute Ropa Vieja

Ropa Vieja was not on the tables in Cuba, at least not to my memory. What I remember includes a fresh squeezed glass of orange juice, a whole roasted pig, a hand-held pizza, the smell of rum, and the best tasting chocolate ice cream I’ve ever eaten.  

A week and a half from now I'll be packing my bags for another latin country--Ecuador-and I'm counting down the days the same way I would count down the days to summer break when I was in grade school. I always thought I would be a jet-setter. At one point I dreamed of being a National Geographic journalist, then a translator, and then a coordinator for an international NGO. 

30-Minute Ropa Vieja
30-Minute Ropa Vieja

It of course turned out that none of those paths made sense for me. In fact, I quite like my sense of home, but wanderlust itches at my heart here and there. Usually it's satisfied by a trip to the kitchen and an exotic spice blend: maybe a curry, something with West African influence, or a dish reminiscent of my time in South America.  

Ropa Vieja is one of those dishes for me: a bite of somewhere else. I have come to love it. It’s a one-pot wonder that comes together in 30 minutes or less, depending on what pace you are moving at. So turn on the rumba music, tie your apron and get out a skillet. 

A week and a half from now I'll be taking more mental notes about Ecuadorian recipes than I'll be able to remember. 

30-Minute Ropa Vieja

30-Minute Ropa Vieja

Published May 23, 2017 by
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A bite of Cuba, in your kitchen.

Serves: 4   |    Total Time: 30 minutes



Ingredients:

    For the filling:
  • 1/2 white onion 
  • 1 stalk celery 
  • 2 bell peppers (red and yellow) 
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 garlic cloves 
  • 2 teaspoons oregano, dried
  • 2 teaspoon paprika, ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne, ground 
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves, ground
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice, ground 
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper, ground
  • 1/4 cup white wine 
  • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes 
  • 2 tablespoons capers 
  • 1/4 cup sliced black olives 
  • 2 tablespoons parsley 

Directions:

  1. Slice the onion and bell peppers, and chop the celery. Heat the coconut oil in a skillet over medium heat. When the oil glistens, put the onions, peppers, and celery in the pan and sauté until the onions turn transparent.
  2. Add the beef to the pan and use a wooden spatula to break it up into grounds. Cook, stirring occasionally, until browned on all sides.
  3. Mince the garlic, and add it to the skillet along with the spices: oregano, paprika, cayenne, cloves, allspice, salt and pepper. Stir, and then pour white wine into the pan and stir again, bringing to a simmer.
  4. Add the canned tomatoes, capers and sliced olives and mix in. Allow to simmer for 5 more minutes, and then top with parsley and serve hot over rice, cauliflower rice, or along side tortillas.

Rhubarb Crisp (Gluten-Free)

Gluten-Free Rhubarb Crisp

Rhubarb has been on my mind. And in my tummy, as I channel those thoughts into everything edible. 

After making this crisp once, I went straight back to the store. It's likely that I bought the biggest bag of rhubarb that store sold all day: the stalks were long and plump, and I went crazy. Chopping the pink stalks into bite sized pieces, images of my grandfather flickered through my mind. Grandpa Charles kept his yard immaculate, and there in the back, behind the rose bushes and the tulips were his rhubarb plants. Wearing beefy garden gloves, he would tell me to stay away from the big green leaves as he cut 3 or 4 stalks for our dessert. 

Gluten-Free Rhubarb Crisp
Gluten-Free Rhubarb Crisp

I remember that moment more than anything: more than the pie my grandmother would then make, and even more than the ice cream that would come with it. Maybe that's why it was the act of chopping rhubarb into small bites that made me think of him.

This recipe is incredibly simple: you don't need to add strawberries or raspberries to the mix (unless you want to) and there is no rolling of pie crust. Just mix and bake. You'll only get one mixing bowl dirty. You'll be on your way to rhubarb glory in just a few steps. It's a recipe you can come back to time and time again... a recipe you can tweak just a little bit to make your own (a teaspoon of ginger zest is calling my creative side, a half of cup of raspberries are whispering to my tastebuds). 

This week I plan to buy a rhubarb plant, in honor of Grandpa. It wasn't my favorite when I was young, but that has changed and I have some catching up to do.

Gluten-Free Rhubarb Crisp
Gluten-Free Rhubarb Crisp

Rhubarb Crisp (Gluten-Free)

Published May 18, 2017 by
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Nothing but regular, sweet rhubarb crisp.

Serves: 6   |    Total Time: 50 minutes



Ingredients:

    For the filling:
  • 5 cups rhubarb, cup into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup cassava flour 
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter


  • For the crisp:
  • 1/2 cup oat flour 
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/3 cup oats
  • 1/3 cup butter 
  • Pinch salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. In a medium mixing bowl, toss rhuarb with the coconut sugar, cassava flour, salt, and cinnamon until rhubarb is evenly coated. Then spread rhubarb mixture into pie dish (I used a 9-inch pie ceramic pie dish, you may also use a 9x9 inch pyrex). Slice the tablespoon of butter into thin pats and place evenly spaced over rhubarb.
  2. Make the crisp topping: melt the butter in the bottom of the medium mixing bowl. Add in the oat flour, coconut sugar, oats, and salt and mix with a fork until crumbles form.
  3. Sprinkle crumble over rhubarb mixture. Place in oven and bake for 35 minutes, or until the rhubarb is bubbling. Allow to cool 5-10 minutes before serving.