A Honey Bee & Bee’s Knees

It’s hot.

No, really, it’s HOT!  So, it’s time for my summer go-to drink.  What do you want in a summer cocktail?  I want ice and lots of it.  Also, it must be fresh, tart, barely sweet, and filled to the brim with a shocking amount of gin.  That a must-have to seal the deal.

It’s the bee’s knees.

Bee’s Knees
makes 2

4 ounces your favorite floral gin
1 ounce lemon juice
1 ounce honey syrup
2 lemon twists

In a mixing glass, combine gin, lemon juice, and honey syrup.  Add ice.  Stir to combine.  Divide between two chilled coupe glasses.  Add one lemon twist to each glass.

Cheers!

or

Equally refreshing and delicious… It’s the Honey Bee.

Honey Bee
makes 2

4 ounces rum
1 ounce lemon juice
1 ounce honey syrup
2 lemon curls
2 blueberries, freshly frozen

In a mixing glass, combine rum, lemon juice and honey syrup.  Add ice.  Stir to combine.  Divide between two chilled martini glasses.  Garnish each glass with one skewered blueberry.  Then, slide on the lemon curl.

Cheers!

Savory Strawberry Salad

When cleaning strawberries, it’s the perfect time to divide them.  Place the tart berries that are just barely ripe in one bowl.  These are perfect for a savory strawberry walnut (or pecan, or almond) salad.  The sweet, ripe berries are better for desserts.  Or, top your breakfast yogurt with a handful of berries.  Or, top your muesli with a handful of berries.

That is, if there are any berries left after nibbling at the sweetest of the bunch.

Strawberry Salad
makes 1 bowl

1 cup barely ripe strawberries, cleaned
1 bag of baby greens, cleaned
bleu cheese crumbs
roasted walnuts (or pecans, or almonds)
mint, to garnish

Place cleaned greens in a large bowl.  Top with berries, cheese crumbs, roasted nuts and fresh mint leaves (to your taste).

Red  Wine Vinaigrette
makes 1 cup

1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
fine sea salt, to taste

Combine all in a small pitcher.  Drizzle very lightly over salad.

Devour immediately.

Honey Banana Bread

This honeyed banana bread is something special.

The scent of this banana bread filling the house as it bakes is irresistible.  Cinnamon and honey mellows the powerful kick in the face that bananas usually deliver.  The rich complexity of flavor that honey adds makes this much more interesting than your every day banana breads.  Texture wise, it’s a winner, too.  It’s the right balance of fluffy and dense.  There’s a goldilocks perfection to the fluffy, silky smooth, tender-moist density.  Stellar shelf-life, too.  The honey keeps this sweet bread moist for days.  But, don’t worry.  This bread will be devoured right down to the very last crumb in no time at all.

Next time, this lovely quick bread demands a good sized dose of walnuts.

Honey Banana Bread
makes 1 – 8×8 inch baking dish

2 cups AP flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 bananas, large, ripe
1/3 cup veg oil
1 egg
1 cup honey syrup
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Sift dry ingredients in a small bowl.  Set aside.

Cream bananas, vegetable oil and egg.  Then, add honey and vanilla.  Whip briefly.  Add dry ingredients to the bowl and beat to combine.  Pour into well-buttered 8×8 inch baking dish.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 70 minutes.

Honey Syrup
makes 1 1/2 cups

1 cup honey
1/2 cup filtered water, boiled and cooled

Stir until combined. Refrigerate.

Honey Syrup

Honey syrup…

It’s not just for cocktails.  You could use this to sweeten tea.  Drizzle it over a buttered biscuit or bowl of oatmeal.  I like it over a small bowl of yogurt topped with granola clusters and nuts.  And, I’ll be testing it out in several recipes to see how translates as a honey replacement.

You could easily make this with a 50:50 mix.  But, this works for me.  For my needs, a honey syrup needs to be pour-able and syrup-y thick… not watery.

Honey Syrup
makes 1 1/2 cups

1/2 cup filtered water, boiled and cooled
1 cup of honey

Use in cocktails, tea, or any place that you’d like to use a pourable honey.  Keep the remainder of your honey syrup chilling in the fridge.

All of my pourable bottles are currently occupied.  Luckily, I have plenty of measuring cups.

Monkey Butter

This was love at first taste.  To be brief, this is tropical jam perfection.  I love coconut.  So, I’ve added a lot of shredded coconut to my jam.  But, feel free to add coconut to your own taste.

Make this NOW!  You won’t be sorry.

Psst… this a great way to make use of all those bananas that have passed their prime, too.

Monkey Butter
makes over 4 cups

2 cups over-ripe bananas, peeled
2 cups sugar
3 Tablespoons vinegar (rice wine or apple cider)
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 cup shredded coconut, or to taste, at the end

Combine bananas, sugar and vinegar in a large saucepan.  Stir with a wooden spoon until the bananas have a pureed consistency.  Place over moderate heat and bring to a boil.  Add 1/2 cup coconut.  The mixture will get quite runny.  Stir constantly and continue to boil gently.  The mixture will thicken.  Watch this mixture carefully at all times.  It may splatter molten hot sugar syrup.  Carefully watch and stir, lowering the heat as needed to prevent splatters.  After about 10 minutes or so, it should be the proper consistency.  Add remaining coconut and let simmer an additional few minutes.  It will continue to thicken into a beautiful jam in just a few minutes.

Serve on biscuits, bagels, or toast.  Or, make peanut butter sandwiches.

Still warm from the pot, it was delicious on toast.

Georgia Sweet Tea

Long weekend = Cocktail Time

This one is perfect for a hot summer day.  It’s a little sweet, a little sour, and it’s got a nice little boozy kick.  If you love lemonade, add 1 cup of homemade lemonade for even more lemon-y goodness.  For an Arnold Palmer Style Cocktail Tea, you can even go so far as to make that a 50/50 blend of tea and lemonade.

This was our cocktail of choice for the 4TH of July weekend.  And, it will stay a favorite through the rest of this lovely summer.  We’re sure of that.

Georgia Sweet Tea
makes 2

3 cups iced tea
2 Tablespoons brown sugar syrup, or to taste
2-4 ounces spiced rum
1 ounce lemon juice

lemon wedges, to garnish

Combine all ingredients in a small pitcher with ice.  Stir to combine.  Divide between two mason jars filled with ice.  Garnish with lemon wedges.

Cheers!

Cinnamon Crumb Cake

Crunchy crumbs straight out of the oven with tender fluffy cake on the bottom, but, wait!  You’ll want to wait about an hour to eat this cake.  It was a pleasure to eat warm with the light, flaky crumbs melting under my bite.  Sweet cinnamon cake and a good cup of coffee, that’s a match made in heaven.

Cinnamon Crumb Cake
makes 1 – 8×8 inch baking dish

1 1/2 cups AP flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 cup butter, soft, 8 Tablespoons
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup sour cream (+1 TBSP, roughly)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Crumb Topping:
1 cup AP flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon cocoa
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
6 Tablespoons butter, soft

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Sift dry ingredients in a small bowl.  Set aside.  In a large mixing bowl, cream butter, sugar, egg, vanilla, and cinnamon.  Combine dry ingredients with the wet.  Pour  batter into well-buttered baking dish.  Combine crumb mixture in a small bowl.  Top cake batter with thick crumbs of the mixture.

Bake at 325 degrees F for 60-63 min in 8×8 inch baking dish

Very nice rise and light golden brown edges, this is going to be a new favorite…

We’re sure of it.

Trader Joe’s Cocoa Brownie

It’s really amazing just how much you can cut back on the butter and still end up with a rich and chocolate-y brownie.  This version has exactly half of the butter as the original recipe.  At 45 minutes, the center is still gooey (like a molten chocolate cake).  But, if you let it continue to bake, the center puffs up and turns into a brownie.

This is adapted from Hershey’s Best Cocoa Brownie recipe.  The main difference?  This version has half of the butter, 1/2 cup less sugar and one less egg.

Trader Joe’s Cocoa Brownie
makes 1 8×8 inch baking dish
(or 1 9×7 inch baking dish)

8 Tablespoons butter, 1 stick, soft and melty
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 cup Trader Joe’s (or Hershey’s) cocoa
1 cup AP flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cream butter, sugar, salt, eggs and vanilla.  Add cocoa.  Stir.  Add flour.  Stir to combine.  Pour into buttered 8×8 inch baking dish (or 1 – 9×7 inch baking dish).

Bake at 350 degrees F in 8×8 inch baking dish for 50-52 min.

Coconut Raisin Granola

Why would you ever buy granola?  It’s the perfect kitchen sink recipe.  Throw in all your favorite healthy treats.  I love coconut.  So, I go crazy with it.  The whole thing whips up in about 2 minutes.  It bakes up golden and delicious in exactly 20 minutes.  Then, just let it cool on the stove top and fill your house with the scent of sweet golden oats.  Next time, I’ll be adding a splash of maple syrup and pecan chunks.

This one batch is breakfast for a week… at least.  Or, after baking your granola, toss in some chocolate chips for a mostly healthy and delicious granola trail mix.

Coconut Raisin Granola
makes over 4 cups

4 Tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 Tablespoons honey
1/4 cup flour
2 cups oats, thick rolled

1 cup raisins, heaping
1 cup coconut flakes

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl.  Melt butter.  Add sugar, salt, cinnamon, and honey.  Stir to combine.  Then, add oats and flour.  Stir briefly.  Add raisins, coconut, and a splash of water.  (The water helps if you like big chunks.  I do!!)  Stir again.  Press into a buttered 9×13 inch baking dish.  Then, bake at 375 degrees F for 20 minutes.  Stir once very gently.  Return to oven for 5 minutes, if needed.  Let cool for at least 1 – 2 hours before packaging.

Love raisins?  Add more!

Favorite Sandwich Of The Year (So Far)

Candied Lemon And Walnut Bread With Chicken & Tomatoes

A sandwich made with love can be a great meal.

Perfectly ripe black krim tomatoes make every sandwich better?  So, yes, those definitely added to the savory richness of this sandwich.  Buttery bread with candied lemon peel and hefty dose of walnuts added another layer of flavor.  The sweet-tart acidic bite of candied lemon brought a bright and perky lightness that balanced the richness.  When all the players bring their game to the party, it’s a recipe for success.  That’s definitely the case here.  I will definitely be attempting a home-made version of this bread some time soon.

Another version of this sandwich included slices of Whole Food’s smoked turkey breast and a nutty Austrian cheese (A version of Swiss style cheese found at the Dekalb Farmer’s Market) that’s a new favorite of mine.  Smoked turkey and tomatoes are a marriage made in heaven.

Don’t forget those tomatoes!

Lemon Walnut Bread With Chicken & Tomato
makes 1 sandwich

2 slices candied lemon & walnut bread
1 roasted chicken breast, no skin, shredded
sandwich spread (see below)
ripe tomato slices
black pepper, freshly ground
fine sea salt

Combine chicken with sandwich spread.  Refrigerate for about 1 hour.  Toast bread.  Top one slice of bread with chicken mixture and tomato slices.  Sprinkle generously with freshly ground black pepper and fine sea salt.  Slice.  And…

It’s lunchtime!

Sandwich Spread
makes 2 sandwiches

1 generous Tablespoon mayonaise
1 teaspoon ketchup
1 teaspoon yellow mustard
splash of Tabasco
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
grind or two of black pepper

Combine all.  Brush bread (toasted or otherwise) lightly with the spread.  There should be enough to lightly cover 4 slices of sandwich bread.

Psst… This also makes two seriously good tomato sandwiches!