Friday, September 19, 2014

Lime Basil Gin & Tonic

It's the last Friday of summer.  Here's a cocktail inspired by a drink I had somewhere once, the lime basil growing abundantly in the backyard, and LIME FLAVORED EVERYTHING in Mom's fridge.

A squeeze of agave
2 ounces Limeade
3 ounces Lime gin
2 ounces Lime perrier or tonic water
11 Lime Basil leaves (mine are on the small side, so if yours are larger, adust accordingly)
(in the absence of LIME FLAVORED EVERYTHING, plain gin, perrier/tonic, and/or basil will do just fine.)

Honesty:  Those measurements are complete estimates of what I did based off of the interwebs.  I believe you are a smart, capable adult who deserves this cocktail and can guesstimate your measurements just as well as I. ;) 

Place 10 basil leaves in your hand, clap.  Pummel them in a small glass with agave and a small amount of your limeade. Strain out basil leaves.  Add to tumbler with gin, perrier and the rest of the limeade, stir well.  Garnish with final basil leaf.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Plum Raspberry Crumble

I'm home in September for the first time since high school (usually this time of year is kicking off school or busy in other ways), and I forgot how lovely the mild air and changing of the seasons can be here.  The leaves are just beginning to brush yellow, but the best of late summer flowers still spill out of pots around our yard.

Because of this pie, I didn't make nearly enough out of late summer berries, failing to even make my Dad's legendary raspberry cobbler because all I wanted to do was soak peaches in whiskey.  Whoops.  I wanted to remedy that and also to make use of some abundant plums from a tree in my Mum's yard, so I adapted this recipe to suit my late summer/early fall baking desires. The result was exactly right: it has all the tart, fresh flavors of summer, but begins to ease in the subtly spicy-sweet flavors of fall.  I happily baked while old favorites like Mary Chapin Carpenter and Tom Petty played out of our stereo with windows and doors thrown open to welcome the almost-crisp night air.  It's a transition dessert, to help us say goodbye to recent favorites while welcoming what's next.

Now, do you think there are still peaches enough to make that pie one last time?

(Oven at 350)
10 small plums
1 cup raspberries (alternately to raspberries and plums, 1 1/2 cups of whatever fruit(s) you please)
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp vanilla powder (alternately, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, or leave out)
4 TB butter, in small cubes
1/3 cup sliced almonds (optional, feel free to leave out or exchange for pecans or walnuts)

Note: We were concerned that the plums had bitter skins, so I blanched and peeled mine.  You'll want to pit and slice yours, and I leave the peeling up to your discretion.

Place plums and raspberries in the bottom of either four 1/2 cup or two 1 cup ramekins, filling roughly half.  In a small bowl, mix flour, oats, sugar and spices.  With fingers, work butter cubes in until the butter pieces are roughly pea sized or a little larger.  Toss with almonds.  Press crumble on top of fruit, chill ramekins 20 minutes or overnight.  Once ready to bake, heat oven to 350 and place ramekins on a baking sheet with parchment paper to catch any bubbling over.  Bake 22-28 minutes until bubbling and golden. Enjoy with a scoop of ice cream by night or a mug of coffee by morning.  Or vice versa, who am I to judge?

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Bloggiversary, Round Three: Sarah's Five Favorites

Long ago in Wyoming, when we were little girls, Katelyn, Annalise and I went through a phase where we were fighting a lot.  I think we were probably about 12, 9, and 5, so we're talking almost 20 years ago. (Back then, my favorite dinner was elk Dad hunted and butchered himself, with a side of Mom's scallop potatoes.  Sorry about the vegetarianism, Dad - it's about factory farms!)

Well, at some point, the three of us were overtaken with remorse for our bickering and had a meeting after dinner one night in the basement, during which we decided the solution was to form a club, consisting of the three of us, and called ....... ahem:   "Sarah, Katelyn and Annalise in Peace:  SKAP!!"

I'll just let that sink in a bit.

Actually, it gets even better.  The rules of SKAP were that if one sister did something mean to another sister, the third sister got to act in a quasi-judicial capacity and decide what the mean sister had to do for her victim, and then..... we would sing a special song we referred to as the "SKAP Rap."

...... Yep.  The "SKAP Rap."  I don't even know what to say about that, other than that we lived in small-town Wyoming without a television, so please, cut us a break.  Thankfully, I do NOT remember the words.

So, the reason I am telling this completely ridiculous story (other than that I still love to embarrass my younger siblings) is just to say that ever since I left home, I have done nothing but wish that I could again live close enough to my sisters to bicker regularly, make up, and hatch stupid plots together.  Please call me today so we can bicker, OK, guys?

When I claimed "" five years ago and then called my sisters to tell them about it, I was in the middle of probably the lowest period of my life (a divorce in my mid-twenties).  I think I imagined that the blog would be sort of a recipe box, a place to jot down reminders and ideas, and I think it came to mind because I was frankly having trouble forcing myself to cook for nobody but me.  Watching the posts grow ever-longer, as my two deeply thoughtful sisters use the blog to capture pieces of daily life in their lovely writing voices, has been a surprise and a source of happiness again and again over five tumultuous years.

OK!  So recipes:

By Annalise:
Fava Beans with Tomatoes and Toasted Bread.  I love this recipe both on its merits, and because it includes an extended discussion of Annalise's embarrassing childhood nickname (also my fault - I'm on a roll here), and also because it is posted via a photo of an exchange of text messages between her and Katelyn.

Vegan Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes:  This post is all Annalise all the time (covering such essentials as her love of autumn, colored pants, baking, and Pinterest), and coincidentally also contains a recipe sent via text message.

Finally, Annalise, while I will not insult your formidable baking prowess by categorizing our most-read recipe ever as a "favorite," I will note that in the time we've had this blog, you've gone from being a sweet and awesome college girl who makes her friends cookies and takes a blurry phone photo, to a sweet and awesome college grad who makes an entire Thanksgiving dinner for 40 immigrant teenagers and takes sophisticated photos on a fancy camera.  Well played.  

By Katelyn:
Tha(ish) Indian(ish) Soup:  I obviously make this without chicken, and it's straight-up one of the yummiest things on the blog.  I might make it today!

Strawberry Breakfast Salad with Cowboy:  This salad is quintessential Katelyn:  Healthy, comforting, fresh, and unexpected.  Plus, the post itself is very sweet, which is also quintessential Katelyn.  Tell that cowboy to eat his salad!

Katelyn, I credit your entries on this blog with helping me get into much healthier eating habits than 5 years ago.  You are so thoughtful about everything you do in life, and (science jokes like this one aside) you really bring all of your scientific and social scientific training and learning to bear on everyday decisions.  Everyone in our family benefits a lot from that.

By Sarah:
Fresh Corn and Fava Soup:  This is the kind of thing I wish I managed to eat every single day!  Mostly veggies, with flavor.

Alright, that's it from me.  Thanks for letting me publicly air my great love for these two:

Annalise and I are pretending to be aliens.  I am confident that today, now that she is no longer a preteen wearing awesome lipgloss, Katelyn would join us.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Bloggiversary, Round Two: Kate's Five Favorite Recipes from Five Years

The sisters and I started blogging five years ago. A lot of things have changed since then, from where we live to what we look like and what we do. But our enduring love for food, and for talking to each other about food, has stayed the same.

Here are my five favorite recipe posts from the last five years of blogging. 

By A: 
See my dear little sister, you're not always last!

Frozen Sweet Potato Fries: C'mon, kids, who doesn't love a good frozen fry? A thinks this is a favorite because I love to make fun of her. That's true, but I chose it for two other reasons, as well. First, I take a lot of pride in the fact that despite being foodies, us Parady girls are not snobby about our food. We love all kinds of meals and all kinds of recipes, for all kinds of reasons. Frozen fries are GOOD, and quick, and they belong on this here bloggie.

Second, lil' sis has greatly expanded both her palate and her kitchen skills over the past five years. I'm really proud of her. The fries are a favorite, then, because they highlight just how amazing some of her more recent posts are, especially the one I've chosen as another favorite, below.

Grandma's Fresh Lemon Pie: Lemons, pie, and Grandma. I recently moved away from the city that Annalise and I have been living in together, and this post makes me get a little weepy. She and I have spent four of the last five years baking pies in my kitchen, spending time together with our Grandma, and salivating over Arizona lemons from A's yard. This pie, and Annalise's gorgeous presentation of it, is a gem. 

By S: 
So much of what I know about cooking I learned from Sarah. Our parents are pretty darn good in the kitchen. But it's S who imparted the three most important rules of my kitchen: veggies are delicious, so is cheese, and no cooking project is ever too big. See below.

Warm Tortilla Salad & "Jalapeno Poppers": S is the queen of creating amazing salads, and this is a classic Parady sister "eat-a-delicious-salad-with-a-rich-side" pairing. The flavor and texture combo here is ridiculously good, and one that all three of us love: tangy, salty, perfectly acidic, creamy, and crunchy. Oh wait, everyone really loves that combination! Final comment: if you haven't made these poppers yet, do it this weekend. So easy, so enjoyable.

Yogurt: A Collaborative Sororial Post: Besides assurances from Sarah's husband that this is the best yogurt, ever, I chose this post because it is mostly a transcript of a cell phone conversation between Sarah, in Denver, and me, in North Carolina. So much of Sarah's wisdom comes my way over the phone, sadly, so it feels appropriate.

And now, for the big confession. I actually haven't taken the plunge and made yogurt yet. I'm scared! But I'm going to do it soon. Because the most important thing I've learned from big sis is that all the life things are terrifying-- but you just do them anyway. I'm trying to follow her into the world of making bold career decisions (she started her own firm this year), but maybe I'll take a baby step in the kitchen first. Join me, dear blog readers, and let's be fearless in the face of FERMENTATION AND BACTERIA.

By K (me):

Spiced Molasses Holiday Pie: This pie was born from a long review of other recipes for molasses pie and shoo-fly pie. The traditional recipes fittingly come from Pennsylvania Dutch country where our Mom grew up. They seem to have a crumb layer in addition to a "wet" molasses filling. Our version instead offers straight-up gooey goodness, with a filling that I think was originally based on this recipe in particular. (I didn't take good notes during my search, so unfortunately we've never really been sure how it came to be, but that looks very close.) Together, Annalise and I created two different versions, one stronger and topped with a maple whipped cream, one sweeter and topped with a cinnamon whipped cream. Pick one, and make it this holiday season.

Here's to the next five years of recipes!


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Bloggiversary: Annalise's 5 Favorite Recipes from 5 Years

Today, this bloggy of ours turns 5 years old - we can scarcely believe it.  In all of those five years, we've never celebrated the anniversary, but we figured 5 is a big deal. If our blog were a human, it could be starting kindergarten!  All 3 of us will be posting to share our top 5 recipes over the next few days, a "Greatest Hits" collection, if you will.

While we know posts have been few and far between recently, we really love this blog, and searching through the archive for ALL-TIME FAVORITES (an impossible task) reminded me of why I'm personally so happy we have it. Looking through posts reminded me of some of my happiest memories with my sisters, as well as some of harder times we've faced together and the therapy that cooking provided.  I also found myself (as our Mum would say) LOL-ing over the signature Parady cornball humor that is sprinkled throughout all of our posts.  I remembered how K was so excited over her IMMERSION BLENDER that she demanded we caps-lock those words in all recipes, found this joke from Sarah that went sadly un-appreciated and laughed over my own early cooking college days.

Cooking is (clearly) a big deal to our family, and whether we are calling each other on the phone for a recipe reminder and throwing in a quick life update on the way or spending hours together baking way too many pies for a big holiday dinner, it keeps us close in moments big and small.  This blog allows us to record that, along with being a virtual recipe box, so thank you for reading and allowing us to share our delicious memories with you.

Starting with the oldest sister first, here are my two favorite recipes by Sarah: 
I would be remiss if I were to not choose a soup recipe from Sarah, and as the title of this recipe states, tomato soup recipes are her particular favorite.  There are 47 soup recipes on this blog, and once when I wanted to make one for a sick roommate I called Sarah directly because I was too overwhelmed to choose.  This is the one she directed me to and it certainly lived up to the caps-locked hype.  I would declare it her favorite but fall is on its way and I would not be shocked if another tomato soup recipe appeared along with it.  Making it reminds me of many such phone calls over the years to my sisters, who always have the right food answers.

Watermelon Feta Quinoa Salad
An alternate title for this blog could be "".  While our tastes and preferences vary drastically, there are also strong similarities between the three of us, one being that our cooking/eating alternates between very healthy and very indulgent.  We call it a "balanced" diet - a favorite lunch order for all three of us is sweet potato fries + salad.  Here's a recipe that came out of a suggestion I made on an email thread where we all challenged each other to come up with something we all three would eat (initially Sarah said she hates watermelon, then she ended up being the one to post it, so ha!) and came to fruition during a summer cookout at Sarah's home.  Triple-Parady-approved!

By Kate:
Maple Custard Cream Pie
Choosing a pie from Kate was essentially mandatory for me, as our joint love of pie has been a dominating theme on this blog and also in many happy memories together during our years in Phoenix.  We are the sisters who once made 5 Thanksgiving pies for only 10 people. However, I will admit that there was a time where I *gasp* didn't have a deep love of pie.  This was the pie that changed that, so of course it came from K.  It's still a long-time favorite of mine, particularly for Christmas morning.

Roasted Corn and Tomato Risotto
Risottos are a specialty of K's, and they are partially responsible for me starting to eat vegetables a few years ago while I was still listed as the "finicky carnivore" in our blog description.  Big sisters are excellent for tucking foods you are skeptical of into creamy, cheesy, flavorful rice so that eventually you will eat them on their own.  I chose this one because we are just at the tail end of abundant corn and tomatoes, but you can't go wrong with any of the risottos she's shared.

By me: 
Costan Rican Casado and Guanabana Batidos
As the youngest sister on this blog, my culinary skills are always lagging just a tad behind the others (and some of my more embarrassing cooking moments have been archived here).  It's a point of pride and amusement for me, then, that I wrote our TWO MOST VIEWED POSTS of all time.  Muahahaha.  This is the second most-viewed, but I am actually proud of rather than embarrassed by this one.  Going abroad was the best thing for my development as a cook, because I became the de facto cook for my roommates and was challenged by unusual ingredients.  Upon return, I took it upon myself to recreate my favorite meal from Costa Rica, and the result is this post that has apparently become some sort of "expert" recipe for others who miss the light, fresh meals found there.

Bonus favorite by Mum:
French Onion Cream of Mushroom Soup
I couldn't resist including a guest post from our Mom in my list of favorite-ever posts.  While I myself have never made this soup (the picky eater in me still can't stomach mushrooms), K captured our family perfectly in writing this post.  I remember reading it and laughing so hard I fell off my bed and startled my roommate two rooms away.  It deserved to be on here.

Look forward to hearing from K and S soon, and maybe take some time to glance through our archives yourself.  Happy bloggiversary to us!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Heidi's Zucchini Agrodolce

I just wanted to say that I made this and it was amazing.

I love that Heidi's recipes always have unique flavor profiles that you can still meddle with.  Besides her ingredients:

a dressing of vinegar, salt, garlic, honey and olive oil;
mandoline-sliced zucchini,
blanched red onion also thinly sliced on the mandoline,
toasted walnuts
toasted coconut flakes, and chopped dates...

...I also added:

mandoline-sliced carrots,
kernels of corn,
green beans chopped into tiny green bean coins,
finely chopped black olives, and
finely chopped parsley.

I served the resulting crispy salad on a bed of lightly dressed greens, just to give our jaws a break from chewing.  Take that, CSA box!  

Melon-Olive Skewers with Bread & Rosemary

I haven't snapped a picture of these skewers at any of the several summer barbeques for which I've made them, but besides being juicy and chewy and savory and sweet, they are also quite lovely, pale green and red and black.  You'll need:

One ripe green melon (really key that you get a good one, as we all know the horrors of unripe honeydew - cantaloupe would probably be nice too), cubed
Cherry or grape tomatoes 
Gemlik olives (mild, wrinkly black "breakfast olives"), pitted
Crusty bread, cubed

Skewer these items (all at a 1:1 ratio); drizzle them with a mixture of olive oil, something tart (lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, balsamic, apple cider vinegar, etc.), rosemary, and salt; and grill them.  Smaller cubes grill more nicely and are easier to eat.  You can serve people their own skewers, or unskewer everything, toss in a bowl, and serve as a salad.