Cucumber and Strawberry Salad

I used to frown upon salads with fruit on them. It always seemed so weird to me. “Why are there strawberry slices in my salad?” Then I’d proceed to flip the table over and throw the salad across the room. I’m not one for mixing sweet and savory into one dish. With a few exceptions of course, like fried chicken and waffles with maple syrup and honey drizzled all up on it. I’ll never say no to that. I don’t think anyone in their right mind would. I’m not (that) crazy. For the most part, though, I like to keep certain things separate on my plate. My pancakes have to be on another dish completely, far away from my eggs and potatoes and bacon. I’ve recently had a change of heart on the entire matter, and I now have a new found appreciation for sweet fruit on a savory salad. I can’t get enough of it, actually. I guess it helps to keep an open mind to new things we’re not completely used to. Now I’m trying to get you all hooked on it. Needless to say, I’ve learned a lot from the error of my ways and I’m ready to eat all of the fruit studded salad in the world. The world I tell you. THE WORLD. 

This is the second recipe in our mega Easter Brunch Bonanza celebration. It’s the perfect side dish for our Spring time meal to celebrate one of my favorite holidays. Just in case you’ve missed yesterday’s post, here’s a link to the Roasted Asparagus and Prosciutto Croissants. It’s another easy dish that you can whip up with no effort at all, taking some help from the store. I’m also going to remind you to come back each day for the rest of the week for the remaining recipes, there are three left and they’re only going to get better and better. I promise. Cross my heart and kiss my elbow. Just as a hint between you and I, Friday’s recipe is my absolute favorite. Oh, I’ve also been updating the main Easter Brunch post on the home page with the links to each individual recipe so that you guys can have one central location for the entire brunch menu. I think it makes it easier on us all. That one post will continue to live on the home page, front and center, so we can find all the recipes without hassle. Enough about all this business talk though. Let’s get to salad making and eating.

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Roasted Shrimp Cocktail

I’ve never been the biggest fan of shrimp cocktail, but before you start coming after me with pitch forks and start doing voo doo on me, you should hear me out. I’ve got some good explanations for my line of reasoning. The main reason why I don’t care for shrimp cocktail is because I don’t like cold shrimp. In fact I hate cold shrimp. There’s something so weird to me about eating cold shrimp served over ice. Maybe I’m the weirdo. I know I know, that’s the way it’s supposed to be served and many people (like the entire world) really love shrimp cocktail no matter if it’s cold or not. More power to them. I just can’t handle it. Sorry mom. Don’t get me wrong though, if there’s cold shrimp at a buffet or at a party, I’ll be the first in line stuffing it into my pockets.

Since I love the idea of shrimp cocktail and have always wanted to really enjoy it, I thought the best way to achieve such a feat (and overcome my fear of cold shrimp), would be to cook the shrimp and eat it warm. Roasted Shrimp Cocktail has since been my newest obsession and brings me the best of all the shrimp cocktail world. I like to serve it with not one but two sauces for dipping because to me, shrimp cocktail is all about the sauce. Cocktail sauce is very near and dear to my heart as a child because I used to eat it all the time with all of the breaded and fried shrimp. All of it. I was addicted to fried shrimp, still am, but because it’s not the healthiest of ways to eat it, I’ve settled for roasted shrimp cocktail instead. I’m sure my doctor is thankful for that decision.

Continuing with our Seafood Week on the blog, I thought this recipe would be a great follow up to the Crunchy Fish Sticks from earlier in the week. Just as a recap, I wanted to do a Seafood Week because there’s a serious lack of fish dishes in my blog. My mamma wanted me to up my “under the sea” recipes and because my mamma always knows best, I thought it best to listen to her and get right on it. So here we are, two recipes into our awesome Seafood Week. I’m saving the best for last so stay tuned for the third and final installment on Friday. You won’t want to miss it. In the meantime let’s refocus on this roasted shrimp cocktail your new favorite recipe. Cross my heart and kiss my elbow.

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Idaho Potato Carne Asada Fries

In case you weren’t well aware of it already, I’m addicted to potatoes. I think I’ve mentioned it a few times here and there (okay, so maybe more than just a few times) how deep my love affair with potatoes goes. It’s pretty deep. As deep as any love. I’d climb the highest mountain for them. I’d swim the deepest ocean for them. But not in a weird creepy kind of way. It’s been this way ever since I was a young kid, though. I’m pretty sure that when I was born, my mamma didn’t give me that puréed baby food stuff in those tiny jars that all the other babies got (I was too cool for that), instead she gave me french fries by the bucket full. I ate them all up too with lots of ketchup. That’s when my love of potatoes started. If anything, I have my mom to blame for it. I’m not complaining about it though. 

Anyhow, I’m digressing from the real situation and which is that it’s time for the next installment of my collaboration with Idaho Potato! Ring the bells and go through the town and city and scream out from the top of your lungs THE FRENCH FRIES ARE HERE!! THE FRENCH FRIES ARE HERE! Because they are finally here! But they’re not just normal plain old boring fries (I’m kidding fries are never boring at all), no these are the ultimate fry situation. The kind of fries you write back home to your family to. The kind of fries you fall madly deeply in love with. The kind of fries you lose sleep over and can’t stop thinking about. The kind of fries, that even with your closest friends and family you do not share. No, not even a bite. Don’t even smell them. I’m talking about fries topped with melted cheese, friends, chopped carne asada, tomatoes, pickled jalapeños, sour cream, guacamole and salsa verde. These are the fries you’re going to eat for the rest of your life. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. 

These also happen to be the second recipe of my collaboration with Idaho Potato! My dream partnership and I’m excited to finally get to share it with you. In case you missed the first recipe, Baked Idaho Potato Sliders, you can catch up and read all about them here. They’re my favorite sliders. Also, don’t forget to stay tuned every Monday for the rest of the month to get the scoop on the other recipes I dreamed up for Idaho potato. You’re gonna love them. But listen to me going on and on about recipes that don’t even matter at this very moment. Right now, all that matters are these fries topped with carne asada and the ridiculous amount we’re going to eat. 

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Creamy Cinnamon Horchata Popsicles

My biggest regret in life is not eating more popsicles in these twenty five years of living. When I stop to think of all the frozen pops I could’ve been eating all these years, I get sad. It saddens me. I might even start to cry a little. A single tear from my left eye falls to the ground. In a slow dramatic way, too. Popsicles do that to me. What, have I been living under a rock or something? I obviously haven’t been thinking clearly. My mind has been somewhere else. Perhaps on ice cream. Not that I blame myself, because ice cream happens to be unbelievably delicious. But popsicles, popsicles are even better. Personal frozen treats that you can take with you on the go. Individual chilled desserts that you can use as a microphone while you sing out loud at the top of your lungs, like no one is watching. Like you don’t even care.

I’ve made it a personal goal of mine to make and eat as many popsicles as humanly possible this summer. It’s taken something incredibly awesome like Popsicle Week to deter me from my wrongful ways. Those wrongful ways being, the serious lack of popsicles in my life. But that’s all about to change because I’m on the brink of going full on obsessed with popsicles from this day on. We’re starting with these horchata pops because I’m a sucker for anything loaded with cinnamon. 

For those of you who aren’t familiar with horchata (you really should be), it’s a delicious drink made of rice and cinnamon. Think rice pudding but in drink form without all of the chunky rice. It’s served chilled and over ice. Perfect on a hot summer’s day. I’m not doing the drink justice so I’ll just let you experience the amazing taste of it for yourself with these popsicles. Hint hint. And for those of your who are familiar with it, let’s go out and celebrate with a few of these frozen pops. I promise to share. 

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Watermelon Basil Lime Iced Tea

I’ve always had this fantasy of living in a large home, maybe somewhere in the South—one of the Carolinas for sure, I’m thinking North—with a big patio or wrap around porch. In my fantasy, I’m drinking iced tea on said porch or patio, on a hot summer’s day. Heavy on the iced part because I don’t do well in the heat. I’m lounging on a chair and just drinking my tea enjoying the passing days. Waving at a few neighbors that walk on by. I may or may not speak with a Southern drawl in my fantasy, I haven’t decided yet (but you better believe I’ve been practicing it). This is where I’d plot all my villainous schemes. I’d invite my enemies over for some iced tea, all the while planning out ways on how to backstab them….wait, that’s not my fantasy. I think I’ve been watching way too much House of Cards lately. I get confused. Kevin Spacey is teaching me all the wrong ways of life, you can’t blame me. 

Now try not to judge me too much, but this is actually the first time I’ve ever made iced tea before. Like ever in my life. I can’t really say I’m an iced tea expert per say. I’m far from a tea pro so I had to do a little research (and by a little, I of course mean a lot). My google searches were something like, “How to make basic iced tea?” “How long do I steep tea bags in iced tea?” and “Fool proof iced tea recipes to win contests and major prizes.” That last one didn’t bring me any hits, but you can’t blame a guy for trying. I had to come up with my own recipe. 

Iced tea is one of those things that I always drink at other people’s homes or at restaurants, but have never really thought about making it myself. I don’t know why, I guess I always just assumed it was too difficult to make. Something about boiling water and making tea, scared me. I have a phobia of boiling water. I don’t have a phobia of boiling water, it’s a joke (someone please laugh). I was wrong though. It’s actually really easy to make iced tea. The best part is that you can add all kinds of awesome flavorings to it, and make it so much better than just plain boring iced tea. Don’t get me wrong, plain and boring iced tea is still a favorite of mine, but plain and boring doesn’t win any contests and I want to win contests for sure. So I learned a valuable lesson through all of the recipe testing I did, over the last couple of days. The lesson being that watermelon and iced tea are long lost friends. Destined to be together forever. That forever being in a pitcher in my fridge for my drinking pleasure. 

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Cranberry Raspberry Pavlovas

Now that the holidays are long gone, I have no excuse but to jump back into work and start making (aka eating) a bunch of new recipes. All for you, of course, because that’s the type of person that I am. I’m willing to sacrifice everything by stuffing my face, day in and day out, just so that you can have something to look at. Something new to try out in the kitchen and something to look forward to. With the new year, comes a promise to post more because I know I’ve been slacking, somewhat. But believe me it’s all for good reasons and exciting new prospects—both in my personal and professional life. I think that this year should be all about breaking out of our comfort zones in the kitchen and trying out new recipes and techniques. Let’s stop being scared of certain dishes or ingredients and just dive into a new us. That new us being fearless cooks and bakers because this year, we’re going to be the best cooks and bakers we can be.  This year, we’re going to wow our friends, family and loved ones with dishes that aren’t only delicious but look incredible as well. This year, is going to be a great year because we’re going to make it a great year.

It was difficult for me to think of the first post for the new year. Well, if I’m being completely honest, it was hard for me to jump back into work altogether. My brain was still on holiday mode and the yearning to continue doing nothing at all. Bowling, museums, movies, drives through the coast for Friday morning hikes, spontaneous homemade meals and lounging around on the couch watching movies with that special someone, makes it somewhat difficult to want to do anything else. Am I right, ladies and gentlemen? It wasn’t until I actually got back to working that I realized how much I missed it. “Welcome back, Jonathan,” I told myself. To which, I of course responded, “Thank you! It’s good to be back.”Sometimes I have conversations with myself because I’m weird like that, but we’ve already established that, haven’t we? Don’t judge.

Anyhow, enough about that. So here we are, the first post of January 2014. A dessert post at that, because I know how much you all love dessert posts. I wanted to share one of my favorite desserts with you but with a winter twist because although it might not seem like it’s winter here in Los Angeles (80+ degrees and all), I know for a fact that it feels like winter has taken over all around the midwest and east coast. It’s not a winter dessert in that it’s warm and comforting but more so about the ingredients we’re using. If you’ve ever had a fear of separating eggs and whipping the whites to make meringue, well then you’re in luck because this recipe is all about that. Let’s take a step towards that 2014 resolution we were talking about earlier. It’s time to get over that fear and conquer it like no one’s business. Like we’ve been conquering fears all our lives, and to a certain degree I guess we have been. We do it every day, even when we don’t think we are. It’s the way of life. Just like it’s the way of life for me to eat a dozen pavlovas and not feel any guilt whatsoever. Come on, let’s make some pavlovas together and then we’ll eat them all because that’s the way life wants it to be.

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