Simple Strawberry Cocktails

After picking eight heaping quarts of beautiful strawberries, I had to try a couple of new strawberry cocktails. I must say that it is difficult to make a strawberry cocktail that I would prefer to my favorite Strawberry-Basil Martini and (close second) The Union Square Strawberry Cocktail. Thankfully, we had plenty of strawberries and beautiful evenings to be able to enjoy all of them! 🙂

Both of these cocktails are incredibly simple and quick to prepare. The first is a Strawberry Gin & Tonic- perfect because one of my favorite summer cocktails is a classic gin and tonic. The recipe is from hometoheather.com. The second is a Spicy Strawberry Margarita. My husband made it as a celebratory cocktail on my birthday. ❤ He garnished the rim of the glass with a mixture of coarse salt and chile powder. The recipe was adapted from vinepair.com, contributed by Natalie Migliarini. Tasty and refreshing.

Strawberry Gin & Tonic

Yield: 1 cocktail

  • 1 shot gin
  • 1 wedge lime
  • tonic water, to fill
  • 1 mashed strawberry
  • lime wedge or slice, or strawberry, for garnish
  • ice
  1. Use a highball glass and fill about ¼ full with ice.
  2. Pour the gin over the ice.
  3. Add your mashed berry, squeeze the lime wedge and fill with tonic water.
  4. Garnish with lime or strawberry and serve.

Spicy Strawberry Margarita:

Yield: 1 cocktail

  • 1.5 ounces tequila
  • 1 ounce of lime juice
  • 1/2 serrano or jalapeño chile, seeded (if desired), chopped or sliced into rings
  • 3 strawberries, chopped
  • 1/2 ounce agave nectar
  • salt and/or Tajín or chile powder, for the rim
  • 1 cup ice
  1. Rim a rocks glass with salt and/or Tajín or chile powder.
  2. Chop peppers and strawberries and add all ingredients into shaker, shaking to chill and combine.
  3. Pour chilled mixture, including the ice, into rocks glass.
  4. Garnish with a fresh strawberry, if desired.

Roasted Chicken Thighs with Cauliflower & Cilantro-Yogurt Sauce

This is another quick and easy weeknight dinner. I love sheet pan meals! The yogurt sauce was absolutely essential- we all gobbled it up dolloped over both the cauliflower and the chicken. The spice blend, especially the smoked paprika, gave the chicken a great depth of flavor. Nice.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Yossy Arefi. I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs and modified the proportions as well as the marinating and cooking times. I served it with roasted potatoes (made simultaneously in the same oven) and crusty sourdough bread.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

For the Roasted Chicken Thighs & Cauliflower:

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 boneless, skinless, chicken thighs (about 2 1/2 pounds) or 6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 3 pounds)
  • 1 small head cauliflower (about 1 1/2 pounds), cut into 2-inch florets (about 5 cups)
  • 3 shallots, quartered lengthwise (about 1 heaping cup)

For the Herbed Yogurt Sauce:

  • 10 oz (about 1 1/4 cups) Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat leaf parsley or mint
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice, plus more for serving (I used Meyer lemon juice)
  • 1 garlic clove, finely grated (I used a garlic press)
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the coriander, paprika, Aleppo pepper, and red pepper flakes with 1 1/2 tablespoons oil and a big pinch of salt and pepper.
  2. Pat the chicken dry and trim excess fat.
  3. Add the chicken to the bowl and toss to coat in the oil and spices. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator at least 30 minutes and up to overnight. (I marinated the chicken for 2 hours.)
  4. Heat oven to 425 degrees and set a rack in the center. (I set my oven to convection roast.)
  5. Arrange the chicken, “skin-side up”, on a large parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
  6. Add the cauliflower, shallots, remaining 2 tablespoons oil, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper to the bowl with the residual marinade. Toss to coat, then arrange the vegetables in a single layer surrounding the chicken.
  7. Bake until the chicken is deep golden brown and cooked through and the cauliflower is browned, tossing the vegetables once or twice, about 20 to 25 minutes for boneless and up to 40 minutes for bone-in. The internal temperature should read 165 degrees on instant read thermometer. (If the chicken is done before the cauliflower, transfer the thighs to a plate, cover, and continue cooking the cauliflower until golden brown.)
  8. While the chicken bakes, prepare the yogurt sauce: Whisk the yogurt, parsley or mint, cilantro, lemon juice and grated garlic with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Cover and refrigerate until serving. (I made the sauce after making the chicken marinade and let it sit in the refrigerator during the marinating time as well.)
  9. Transfer the chicken and vegetables to a platter and top with any juices left on the sheet pan and a squeeze of lemon juice.
  10. Serve with yogurt sauce on the side, sprinkled with fresh cilantro, if desired.

One-Pot Crispy Gnocchi with Burst Tomatoes & Fresh Mozzarella

This is a variation of one of my favorite quick dishes that also uses store-bought gnocchi as a shortcut. It is less spicy which pleased my husband. 😉 The cheesiness of this version definitely made it a crowd-pleaser.

The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Ali Slagle. It was the perfect dinner to make and serve after making cupcakes all afternoon with my daughter. Fast and fabulous.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 2 (12- to 18-ounce) packages shelf-stable or refrigerated potato gnocchi (I used Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/4 cup (4 T) unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
  • 8 to 10 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes, plus more, to taste
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups (2 pints) small tomatoes, such as cherry, grape or Sungold
  • 4 to 6 T thinly sliced (chiffonade) or torn basil leaves, plus more for serving
  • 8 to 9 ounces (8 slices) fresh mozzarella, cut or torn into 1/2-inch pieces
  1. Heat the broiler with a rack about 6 inches from the heat source.
  2. In a large (12-inch) skillet on the stovetop, heat enough olive oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pan (about 1 tablespoon) over medium-high. (I used a 12-inch cast iron skillet.)
  3. Add half the gnocchi to the pan, breaking up any that are stuck together. Cover with a lid or baking sheet and cook, undisturbed, until golden brown on one side, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl.
  4. Repeat with the remaining gnocchi and olive oil.
  5. Add the butter to the skillet and cook over medium-high, stirring often, until golden-brown and toasty, 1 to 2 minutes.
  6. Add the garlic, red-pepper flakes, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and a few grinds of pepper, reducing the heat slightly if necessary to avoid scorching.
  7. Add the tomatoes and 3 tablespoons water and cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until the tomatoes have softened and the liquid has slightly thickened, 4 to 6 minutes. Smash the tomatoes as they burst to help them along.
  8. Add the seared gnocchi and basil, stir to coat, then shake into an even layer.
  9. Top with the mozzarella and drizzle lightly with olive oil.
  10. Broil until the cheese is melted and browned in spots, 2 to 4 minutes. (I set my oven to 500 degrees Broil+Max.)
  11. Top with more basil, red-pepper flakes, and black pepper as desired.

Roasted Salmon with Lemon-Brown Butter Asparagus & Peas

This dish is a fresh and healthy springtime meal. It was also very quick and easy to prepare. I served the salmon and vegetables over rice, making it a complete meal.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Kay Chun. I used Meyer lemons and modified the method and proportions. Nice.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 2 pound salmon fillet, with or without skin (I used skinless)
  • 3 T extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 to 2 1/4 pounds asparagus, tough stems trimmed, stalks sliced 1/4-inch-thick on a slight bias (leave tips whole)
  • 6 T unsalted butter
  • 2 to 3 T freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste, plus wedges for serving (I used Meyer lemons)
  • 3 T drained capers
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1/4 cup (4 T) coarsely chopped flat leaf parsley, plus more for garnish
  • white Basmati rice, for serving, optional
  1. Heat oven to 450 degrees. (I set my oven to convection roast.) Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil; lightly coat with cooking oil spray.
  2. Arrange the salmon “skin side-down” on the baking sheet. Rub the top surface of the salmon with 1 tablespoon of oil and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Roast the salmon in the preheated oven until medium, 10 to 15 minutes. (I roasted mine for 12 minutes on convection roast.)
  4. While the salmon roasts, prepare the asparagus: In a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil over medium to medium-high heat. (I used a 14-inch stainless steel skillet.)
  5. Add asparagus, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Transfer asparagus to a plate.
  6. Reduce heat (if set to medium-high) to medium and add butter to skillet. Cook, stirring, until foam subsides and butter is deep golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. (Be careful not to burn).
  7. Turn off heat and stir in lemon juice, capers, peas, parsley and cooked asparagus. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Divide rice, if using, and vegetables among plates. Top with salmon and spoon over any remaining pan sauce.
  9. Garnish with parsley and serve with lemon wedges, as desired.

Samin Nosrat’s Buttermilk-Brined Roast Chicken

Recently, we were able to take a trip to visit our COVID-vaccinated parents/grandparents. Yay! My mother-in-law made us a delicious buttermilk-brined roasted turkey breast. I had already bookmarked this recipe, so I had to make it myself after we returned home. Yum.

This recipe is from The New York Times, contributed by Samin Nosrat. Using this simple brine, the meat was incredibly moist and tender. The skin also browned beautifully. I marinated the chicken for 24 hours, used a 10-inch cast iron skillet for roasting, and served the chicken with broccoli, gold potatoes, and sweet potatoes that I roasted simultaneously in the same oven. Easy and absolutely perfect.

Yield: Serves 4

  • 1 chicken (3 1/2 to 4 pounds)
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk (I used low-fat)
  1. The day before you plan to cook the chicken, remove the wing tips by cutting through the first wing joint with poultry shears or a sharp knife.
  2. Season chicken generously with salt and let it sit for 30 minutes.
  3. In a glass measuring cup, stir 2 tablespoons of kosher salt into the buttermilk to dissolve.
  4. Place the seasoned chicken in a gallon-size (or 2 gallon-size) resealable plastic bag and pour in the buttermilk.
  5. Seal the bag, removing as much air as possible, place in a rimmed dish or plate, and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours. If you’re so inclined, you can turn the bag periodically so every part of the chicken gets marinated, but it’s not essential. (I turned it upside down after 12 hours.)
  6. Remove the chicken from the fridge an hour before you plan to cook it.
  7. Heat the oven to 425 degrees with a rack set in the center position. (I set my oven to convection roast.)
  8. Remove the chicken from the plastic bag and scrape off as much buttermilk as you can. (I just let it drip off.)
  9. Tightly tie together the legs with a piece of butcher’s twine.
  10. Place the chicken in a 10-inch cast iron skillet or a shallow roasting pan.
  11. Slide the pan all the way to the back of the oven on the center rack. Rotate the pan so that the legs are pointing toward the rear left corner and the breast is pointing toward the center of the oven. (The back corners tend to be the hottest spots in the oven, so this orientation protects the breast from overcooking before the legs are done.)
  12. After about 20 minutes, when the chicken starts to brown, reduce the heat to 400 degrees and continue roasting for 10 minutes.
  13. Rotate the pan so the legs are facing the rear right corner of the oven. Continue cooking for another 30 minutes or so, until the chicken is brown all over and the juices run clear when you insert a knife down to the bone between the leg and the thigh, and/or the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F on an instant read thermometer. If the skin is getting too brown before it is cooked through, use a foil tent. (I tented the chicken in this step after 20 minutes.)
  14. Remove from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes before carving and serving.

Irish Soda Bread

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

My kids ate this tender and delicious soda bread with their bowl of celebratory Lucky Charms for breakfast this morning. 😉 It was also wonderful on its own with and without a little butter and jam. It could be warmed and served with dinner as well.

The recipe was adapted from Kathleen’s Bake Shop Cookbook: The Best Recipes from Southampton’s Favorite Bakery for Homestyle Cookies, Cakes, Pies, Muffins and Breads by Kathleen King, the founder of Tate’s Bake Shop. I incorporated whole wheat pastry flour, unsalted butter, coarse salt and modified the baking time for a convection oven. My husband thought that it may be the best version I’ve ever made. Great.

Yield: two 7 to 8-inch round loaves

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 T granulated sugar
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/4 tsp coarse salt
  • 8 T (1/2 cup or 1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 2 to 3 T caraway seeds, to taste
  • 2 cups buttermilk (I used low-fat)
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, preferably on convection. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. Using a pastry blender or fork, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.
  4. Add the raisins and caraway seeds and toss lightly.
  5. Add buttermilk and mix with a fork until all dry ingredients are moistened. (The dough will be very soft and wet.)
  6. Form the dough into a ball and turn it out onto a lightly floured board or counter. Knead for about 30 seconds or until the dough is smooth.
  7. Divide the dough into two equal portions and shape into balls.
  8. Place the dough on the prepared baking sheet. Using a sharp knife, cut and “X” on top of each loaf about 1/4-inch deep.
  9. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes in a convection oven, or up to 50 minutes in a standard oven, or until crusty and golden. (I baked my loaves on convection for 37 minutes.)

Brown Sugar Cookies

One more recipe from Sarah Kieffer’s new cookie book!

These wonderful cookies may have tasted even more spectacular because they looked so simple and unassuming. Wow. The extra teaspoon of molasses may have been the secret ingredient. Like her snickerdoodles, they had a crispy edge and soft center.

The recipe was adapted from 100 Cookies: The Baking Book for Every Kitchen with Classic Cookies, Novel Treats, Brownies, Bars and More by Sarah Kieffer. I chilled the dough prior to baking and modified the cookie size. I also reduced the amount of granulated sugar needed for rolling. Great!

Yield: 30 to 32 cookies

  • 364 g (2 1/2 cups plus 1 T) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt (I used fine sea salt)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks or 227 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 350 g (1 3/4 cups) dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp molasses
  • 1 large egg plus 1 large yolk
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 50 g (1/4 cup) granulated sugar, for rolling
  1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 C). (I did not use the convection setting.)
  2. Line rimmed sheet pans with parchment paper.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute.
  5. Add the brown sugar and the molasses and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.
  6. Add the egg, yolk, and vanilla, and beat on medium speed until combined.
  7. Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until just combined.
  8. Place the granulated sugar in a small bowl.
  9. Using a medium-sized cookie scoop, ration the dough into 30g (1 oz or 1 1/2 T) portions. (At this point, I wrapped the scoops with plastic wrap and chilled them. I baked half after 1 hour and the other half after 24 hours.)
  10. Roll each ball in the granulated sugar and place 8 cookies on each sheet pan.
  11. Bake one pan at a time, rotating halfway through baking. Bake until the sides are set and the bottoms are light golden brown, 12 to 13 minutes (for the chilled dough).
  12. Transfer the sheet pan to a wire rack and let the cookies cool for 5 to 10 minutes on the pan, then remove them and let them cool completely on the wire rack. Repeat with remaining dough.

Note: Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

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