Thai Iced Tea Jello Shots

I’m not a huge fan of jello shots or jello for that matter, but I’m throwing a bachelorette party for my sister and I’ve been making and experimenting with all kinds of jello shots because they are fun and they remind me of college! I should say that I could not have come up with this recipe without the Jelly Shot Test Kitchen. In fact, it never would have occurred to me that I could combine tea and alcohol and sweetened condensed milk, without having the inspiration of Michelle and her intern, Doug.  Even-though I don’t *love* jello,  I do love panna cotta and this shooter reminds me more of a Thai panna cotta and a little less of jello, so I’m a fan! Plus, it tastes exactly like my favorite summertime drink. 🙂


1 cup water

2 strong black tea bags, like Tazo’s Awake (or you could brew up a cup of Thai tea if you want to be really authentic)

2, plus 1/2 pkg. of knox gelatin.

7oz. sweetened condensed milk (1/2 a can)

1/4 cup whipped cream vodka, if you can find it.

3/4 cup sweet tea vodka, Burnett’s worked great, Absolut makes a Wild Tea, if you use this, your recipe won’t be as sweet, so add sugar to taste if you want it sweet and cannot find sweet tea vodka for some reason.


1) Bring 1/2 cup of water to a boil, remove from heat and add the tea bags and allow them to steep for 2 minutes,  Keep the other half cup of water cold and add the knox gelatin to the cold water, allowing it to “bloom” a bit while the tea steeps.

2) Remove tea bags and add the gelatin/water mixture to the hot tea and dissolve the gelatin completely over low-medium heat.

3) Remove the dissolved gelatin from the heat and add the sweetened condensed milk. Fully combine and cool for 10-15 minutes before adding the vodkas, heaven forbid you evaporate any alcohol!

4) Add vodkas and pour into lightly greased molds for an elegant, dessert-like look or, like we did in college, pour into tiny plastic condiment cups with lids, so you can take them tailgating! 🙂


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Christmas Linzer Cookies!


These cute little buttery cookies are my favorite things to eat during the holidays.  They are made with homemade raspberry jam from this summer’s harvest.  There are lots of terrible linzer recipes out there, so when I discovered this great recipe,  I hung on to it. The cookie is nutty and pairs beautifully with the raspberry jam. If you don’t have homemade jam (and who does really?) make sure you choose a high quality, seedless jam. You won’t regret it.

Raspberry Linzer Cookies

makes 1 dozen cookies.


1/2 cup silvered almonds, blanched or toasted

1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts, skins removed

8 tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 egg yolk

1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest

3/4 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 tsp. almond extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 to 1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam

Confectioners’ sugar for dusting



1.) Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Toast Hazelnuts:

In a baking pan toast hazelnuts in one layer in middle of oven 10 to 15 minutes, or until lightly colored and skins are blistered. Wrap hazelnuts in a kitchen towel and let steam 1 minute. Rub the hazelnuts in towel to remove loose skins and cool completely before starting on step 2.

2.)  Finely grind the almonds and toasted hazelnuts by pulsing in short bursts in your food processor.  Add some of the granulated sugar (2-3 TBSP from your measured sugar) to the ground nuts to help absorb some of the oil that the toasted nuts produce.  Adding the sugar gives you nut meal rather than nut paste.

3.)  In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter on high-speed until fluffy. Add the rest of the granulated sugar and continue beating until combined. Reduce the speed to low and add the egg yolk, lemon zest, vanilla and almond extract.  Beat until well-combined.

4.)  Sift together the flour, cinnamon and salt into another bowl. Add the ground nuts and stir to blend. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat on low-speed or stir with a wooden spoon until blended. The dough should be  fairly soft.

5.)  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured pastry mat. Divide the dough into four equal portions and wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

6.)  Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper or silpats.

7.)  Remove 1 plastic-wrapped piece of the dough at a time from the refrigerator. Place dough between 2 sheets of waxed paper and roll out 1/4 inch thick. Using a Linzer cookie cutter or a cutter about 2 1/2 inches in diameter, cut out the cookies. Using a 1 1/4-inch cutter, cut a hole in the center of only half of the cookies. Repeat with the remaining portions of dough. You should have 24 cookies, 12 with holes in the center.

8.)  Using a thin spatula, carefully transfer the cookies to the prepared baking sheets. They will be delicate. Bake until the cookies are firm to the touch, about 12 minutes. Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks to cool.

9.)  To assemble, drop 1 tsp. of raspberry jam in the center of the solid cookie. Dust the cutout cookies generously with confectioners’ sugar. Top the solid cookies with the sugar dusted cutout cookies.



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mmmmm… French bread


1.5 cups warm water

3 Tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp. sea salt

1 tsp. sugar

4 cups bread flour

2 tsp. yeast


1.)  Add all ingredients in order listed to bread machine and set to dough program.

2)   After dough has been mixed and has risen (2 hours later), pull dough from machine and form into one 2 lb. loaf or two 1 lb. loaves by rolling the loaf/loaves into long tubes. Make 3 slits along the top of the loaf/loaves and cover with a clean towel and let rise for 1 hour.

3) Preheat oven to 400ºF and place a pie plate filled with water on the bottom rack of the oven.

4) Place dough on a silpat or parchment paper and bake for 20 min, then reduce temperature to 350ºF and bake for 10-15 more minutes.

5) You can brush the loaves with a mixture of egg white and 1 tsp. water for a glossy look.  Wait to brush on until the last 5 minutes of baking to seal it on and avoid burning the crust.

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Green Tomato Bread

Weird, I know. The chewy and spicy bits of crystallized ginger and the almond extract are the stars in this fantastic bread.  The tomatoes simply add moisture.  You don’t really get a strong “green tomato” flavor. I rather quite like it!


2 eggs

2 cups sugar

2 cups pureed green tomatoes (you can use chunks, but pureed is better)

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 c. oil

1/4 c. plain or honey Greek yogurt

1 Tbsp vanilla

1 tsp almond flavoring (hazelnut is really good too and pistachio is amazing)

3 c. flour

1 Tbsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

2 Tbsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp cloves

6-8 pieces chopped crystallized ginger


1/4 c. white sugar

1/4 c. brown sugar

vanilla powder (you can use cinnamon if you like, but vanilla powder is really nice)

1-2 drops almond extract


Preheat oven to 350ºF.


Whisk together eggs, sugar, pureed tomatoes, salt, oil, vanilla and almond extract in a LARGE bowl.


In a separate, smaller bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and baking powder and spices.

Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and stir together. Stir in the chopped crystallized ginger. Pour into 2 greased and flour-dusted loaf pans and add sugar mixture topping.  Bake at 350°F for45 minutes to 1 hour*.

*dark loaf pans tend to have shorter cook times, glass pans tend to go longer, just watch the loaves at the 40 minute mark to make sure they don’t burn.

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Rustic Almond Cake with Apricots

This simple little cake is a great ending to any meal or just as an accompaniment to coffee or tea. It’s a dense and chewy cake. When you bite into it, it’s kind of like biting into a big cookie.  The recipe has been modified from a recipe I found in Cooks Illustrated using plums. I chose apricots because, well, my parents have a huge apricot tree in their back yard and I look for any excuse to make good use of them! You can use any stone fruit you like! It’d be great with nectarines or cherries or you can even omit the fruit and replace it with your favorite jam. If you choose to replace the fruit with just jam (as I will describe how to do below), then you must remember to watch the cake closely as it will cook a lot faster (in 20-30 min).  My family likes the cake with just the jam because it turns out like a giant Linzer cookie.  This cake just reminds me of a simpler time, probably because it’s so simple to make. 🙂

* You will need a food processor fitted with a dough cutting attachment to make this cake.


2 Tbsp. apricot jam (if you don’t use fruit and just use jam, then you will need nearly all of a 1/2 pint of jam)

3 Tbsp. brandy (you could use apricot brandy or even Amaretto if you like, and if you’re using just jam cut this to 1 Tbsp.)

1 lb. fresh apricots halved and pitted (again, you wouldn’t need this if you’re just using jam)

3/4 c. unbleached flour (I like King Arthur’s or Bob’s Redmill or anything local and not treated with chemicals!)- you can use whole wheat for the crust and it still turns out amazing…

3/4 c. sugar

1/3 c. slivered almonds (or I use, 1/3 c. Trader Joe’s Almond meal)

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

6 Tbsp. butter

1 egg plus 1 egg yolk

1 tsp. vanilla

1/4 tsp. almond extract

Powdered sugar, for sprinkling

Method (**modifications for jam-only cake are listed at the bottom):

1. Cook jam and brandy or Amaretto in large non-stick skillet over medium heat until reduced to a thick syrup, 2 – 3 minutes. Add apricots, cut-side down, and cook until they shed their juices, about 5 minutes. Cool in pan about 20 minutes.

2. Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9-inch spring-form pan with butter or oil and sprinkle with a little flour to prevent sticking.  Mix sugar and almonds (almond meal) in food processor until finely ground/mixed, 1 minute. Add flour, baking powder, salt and pulse to combine. Add butter and pulse about ten 1-second pulses. Add the eggs, vanilla and almond extract and mix until smooth, scraping bowl, if needed. Batter will be thick and heavy, so don’t worry if it doesn’t look like normal cake batter.

3. Transfer batter to your prepared pan. Using a spatula, spread the batter evenly to the pan’s edges and smooth the dough’s surface. Stir apricots in the pan to coat with the jam-syrup mixture. Arrange the apricot  halves, skin-side down, evenly over surface of batter. Bake until cake is golden brown, about 40 – 50 minutes. Cool in pan on wire rack at least 30 minutes. Remove cake from pan and dust with powdered sugar to serve.

**For the jam version:  Whisk the brandy/Amaretto with the 1/2 pint of apricot jam, then place jam into a pastry bag fitted with a large tip (I don’t care if you use a star tip or a plain tip, just make sure the jam can get through easily) and make a fanciful design on the top of the dough. The first time I tried it, i just dolloped the jam randomly all over the cake and I got complaints that there wasn’t enough “coverage”.  My mom had the idea to do a spiral shape starting in the center of the cake and working your way out to the edges, which was great because the jam was even across the entire cake.  So the lesson here is, always take your mother’s advice!

**Remember also to cook the jam only cake for 20-30 minutes and watch it closely, you want the cake to be golden brown and it can burn quickly, so start watching it at the 20 minute mark!

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Roasted carrot salad with creamy basil dressing…

Whether you are roasting carrots, parsnips, beets, rutabagas, turnips, celeriac, or even potatoes, this recipe will make your vegetables taste amazing. The depth of flavors in the marinade and dressing will probably make this one of your favorite ways to cook root vegetables. This recipe goes great as a side to roasted meats, like a stuffed pork roast or roasted chicken, or it can stand alone for a healthy and hearty salad. The creamy basil dressing adds a creaminess and richness while providing a delicious accompaniment to the salad greens. The bread adds a hearty texture. The original idea for this recipe came to me from Jamie Oliver’s roasted carrot & avocado salad.  Jamie’s salad looked amazing to me, but the flavors just weren’t my favorite. I wanted a more Italian flavor with strong flavors of garlic and balsamic vinegar and subtle notes of lemon and basil. This recipe resembles Oliver’s recipe in method, but it’s actually a whole different salad in terms of its flavors.

So I went to the farmer’s market and I found some gorgeous purple, white and orange carrots which I promptly soaked in water to remove the silt and washed the carrots with a veggie wash solution to remove any stubborn dirt:

To feed 4-6 people, you should get 2 good-sized bunches of carrots, if you can get organic and local, the flavors and variety are so much better plus the nutritional value is better than with conventionally grown vegetables in most cases.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF and bring a pot of salted water to a boil and after you’ve washed and trimmed the carrots, add them to the boiling water and cook for 10 minutes while you make the marinade:


1/4 c. olive oil

4-5 garlic cloves minced

2 Tbsp WHITE balsamic vinegar

1 tsp. red pepper flakes

2 Tbsp basil minced

zest of a lemon, then cut it in 1/2 (but do not add the juice yet)

2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. fresh cracked pepper

Mix all marinade ingredients together and wait for the carrots to finish boiling.

Once the carrots/root vegetables are done par-boiling, quickly strain out the water and begin to cut the large carrots so that everything cooks evenly. Cut the larger carrots in 1/2 first and then on a diagonal cut long ways, to get the prettiest effect. Leave small carrots whole.  Add carrots to your roasting pan and drizzle with your marinade. Lightly toss the carrots so that the marinade is evenly spread across. Then dice up an onion and add it to the carrots making sure to get the onion in the marinade as well. All I had were green onions, but I’d recommend any sweet onion like a yellow onion or a Walla Walla sweet, for a more complex and sweet flavor. 😉 You also want to add your lemon that you cut in half earlier, face down in the roasting pan.

Roast carrots for 35 minutes, then turn the oven to broil and broil the carrots for another 3-5 minutes to caramelize the carrots a bit. Don’t forget about the carrots once you turn the broiler on! 😉 They should look like this when they come out of the oven:

While they are roasting, you can make the creamy basil dressing, here’s what you’ll need

1/2 cup plain Greek-style yogurt

2 Tbsp. mayonnaise or Veganaise

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar

1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

10 large fresh basil leaves

1/4 teaspoon onion

2 cloves garlic

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Mix everything but the olive oil in a food processor until well combined. Then drizzle the olive oil into the mixture while you have the food processor going on low so that the dressing emulsifies a bit.  Chill until ready to top salad.

Also, while the carrots are roasting, toast or grill up some pieces of crusty bread. I just threw some Trader Joe’s Crushed Wheat Sourdough slices in the toaster oven and WOW. The bread will absorb the marinade and dressing and taste sooo  good. You also want to wash any salad greens you’ll be using and get them ready.  Pull out your Parmesan cheese (or the cheese of your choosing), as well, because you’ll want to grate/add some on top of this already flavor-packed-punch-you-in-the-mouth beauty of a salad.

To make the salad:

Take your tongs and squeeze the lemons that have been roasting with the carrots all over the carrots and then pour the carrots and marinade into a bowl. Next add your torn up grilled/toasted crusty bread and toss with the carrots so the bread absorbs some of the marinade.  Then assemble your salad. Greens on bottom, carrots/bread mixture next and then add the dressing and cheese on top. It’s the perfect meal!

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Grilled Chicken Gyros

This meal takes 20 minutes, start to finish. Here’s what you’ll need to feed 4-6 people:

4 boneless, skinless chicken boobies or 6-8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

Toppings (whatever you like; traditionally tomatoes, onions and cucumbers are used)

Tzatziki (see recipe: you’ll need 1 lemon, 1 cucumber, Greek yogurt, dill, garlic and olive oil)

Flat bread of your choosing

For the chicken marinade:

2 Tbsp canola oil

1 tsp. greek oregano

1 tsp. salt

2 tsp. fresh cracked pepper (eyeball it)

juice of 1/2 lemon, plus the zest

2 garlic cloves minced (or you can use 2 tsp. garlic gold nuggets)

1 tsp. onion powder

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. red chili flakes

If you want, you can substitute all the above spices (except the lemon juice, fresh garlic and olive oil) and use “Cavander’s all-purpose greek seasoning”, but it has MSG, so be warned. If anyone has a favorite all-purpose Greek seasoning that does not contain MSG, I’d be all ears.


1) Beat the chicken, not too thin, but just enough so that it is even and the whole breast cooks evenly. If you are using thighs, don’t beat them, because… that’s just cruel.

2) Put the marinade in a bag and add the abused chicken. Marinate for 10 minutes.

3) Turn on your grill and set it to “high” or 500°F.

You can prepare the tzatziki ahead of time using the ‘straining for 2 hours’ method or you can prepare it, while the chicken is bathing in its marinade, quite quickly if you follow these instructions: Grate the cucumber and put it in a strainer, add 1 tsp salt and just let it drain in the sink while you mix everything else into the yogurt, then push out all the cucumber liquid and add the dry cucumber back to the seasoned yogurt. Again, I highly recommend Greek Gods brand yogurt if you are making this on the fly. See my tzatziki post to learn more.

Once you’ve finished throwing together the tzatziki, the grill will be ready for the chicken. Place the chicken on the grill and grill on high for 3 -5 minutes, then flip the chicken and grill for another 3 minutes and turn the heat down to medium (350°F) and close the lid and cook through until done, about another 5-8 minutes or so.

While the chicken is grilling, you can chop up your toppings; tomatoes, onions, lettuce, cucumbers, feta, whatever you like.

Once the chicken is ready, turn the heat back up to high and grill the pitas for 1 minute per side so you get a nice char mark.

Layer tzatziki, then chicken, then toppings, then top with feta! Ta-da! Greek Gyros in under 30 minutes!

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