Michelada Baked Rice [Recipe Redux]

by Sarah on July 21, 2014 · 4 comments

It probably had something to do with my newly rediscovered (not that it had been that long) love affair with Bloody Marys.*

*Specifically those made at The Avenue Pub here in TuscaloosaIMG_20140712_192312_530 (800x799)

But when I saw this month’s theme I was suddenly struck with the memory of Micheladas–the lime-infused cousin of the Bloody Mary…made with beer.reciperedux_spirits_july

And as I happened to have one random beer I was never going to drink in the fridge…IMG_2454 (535x800)

…well, it seemed logical to bake rice in it.IMG_2483 (800x533)

Obviously.IMG_2493 (800x533)

I referenced a few recipes, but then pretty much decided just to wing it.IMG_2498 (800x533)

Considering I don’t have a strong taste for beer, the fact that I could not consume this fast enough will tell you something about how subtly it amplifies the flavor of the rice…IMG_2511 (800x533)

…so much so that I even used the little bit I had left over not to drink, but to cook more rice and dried carrot chips (diluted with water, in the traditional way).

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Just because you can’t drink a whole pint doesn’t mean your rice can’t knock ‘em back.

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Michelada Baked Rice

(Serves 4-6)

  • 1 cup short grain brown rice
  • 1 (8 0z.) can no-salt-added tomato sauce
  • 8 oz. beer
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3-4 Tbsp. lime juice, divided
  • 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp. soy sauce or liquid aminos
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. dried coriander
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a saucepan, bring beer, water, 2 Tbsp. lime juice, Worcestershire, and soy sauce to a boil.
  3. While beer mixture is heating, combine rice, tomato sauce, remaining lime juice, and seasonings in a casserole dish.
  4. Pour boiling beer mixture over rice mixture, stirring well.
  5. Bake, covered, for 45 minutes.
  6. Remove cover and continue to bake for 15-20 minutes.



Happy Birthday to the Professor!

by Sarah on July 18, 2014 · 6 comments

Happy Birthday, Professor.

Since–unlike a sugar maple–I keep my sap private, I’ll just say this:me_professor

Thank you for letting me throw parties in your backyard, even though now the amount of beer brought over has decreased in direct proportion to the increase of vegetables.IMG_2133 (800x533)

Thank you for always ordering something weird from the menu just because I say it sounds intriguing.IMG_20140703_223045

Thank you for not rolling your eyes at the weird combinations of food I put into bowls…and even sometimes trying them yourself.

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Thank you for paying, even when I spend more of the night talking to other people.IMG_20140624_202028

Thank you for pizza.IMG_20140702_200624_099 (800x450)

Thank you for always making sure a sweet potato (or 12) goes on…even if I forget to eat it (or all of them).IMG_2156 (1024x683)

Thank you for not getting mad when I randomly decided to throw squash seeds in your garden and they choked the life out of everything you planted.professor_garden

And remember:

The original Professor may have been good with a blow torch…Proffessor-blow-torch

…but NO ONE can touch you when it comes to the grill.professor_grill

P.S. Thank you for being honest when you tell me you didn’t read my blog and only saw this because your parents told you about it. :)


The Best Way to Cook Summer Squash

by Sarah on July 16, 2014 · 4 comments

Papa Smart used to always say*that people didn’t know they liked  summer squash until they’d had it cooked with dill.

*always [adverb]: at least once or twice in my memoryIMG_20140705_073118_493 (800x800)

In my extensive study of the dill pairing’s delicious, I am assured he must be right.

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But if he’s a sharp right, I’m even sharper.IMG_2565 (800x533)

Because I’m pretty sure people don’t know they not only like, but LOVE, summer squash–whether zucchini or yellow (straight or crookneck) or the zephyr variety shown above–IMG_2574 (800x533)

until they’ve had it cooked with dill…and mint…and basil.IMG_20140629_160011_433 (800x450)

Along with some onion and garlic, salt and pepper, and the smidgiest smidge of olive oilIMG_2587 (800x533)

And that, my little chickadees, is living proof of how every subsequent generation must improve upon the one before them.IMG_2600 (800x534)


Grilled Corn Caprese Salsa

by Sarah on July 14, 2014 · 7 comments

And for the next installment of the OXO #WhataGrillWants review series, we turn, naturally, to strippers.IMG_1229 (533x800)

CORN strippers that is.OXOtwittercornstripper

Chapter 3: OXO Corn StripperIMG_2238 (800x533)

I didn’t have many directions in which to go, as there wasn’t really any question about how to use a corn stripper.IMG_2241 (800x533) (2)

(Except for the moment I declared it would make a great razor…and subsequently cut myself.)IMG_2239 (800x533)

Technically, I have many a recipe that I could have returned to, none of which actually called for grilled corn.IMG_2230 (800x533)

But as The Professor now relishes any excuse to use his–and I quote–”new favorite toys” (AKA the OXO BBQ Tongs) I figured I should play along with the theme of this summer series.IMG_2166 (1024x683)

After all, maybe what a grill wants is to host some corn for awhile.IMG_2159 (1024x683)

Note: It is not particular kind to flaunt the fact that you are roasting corn along with the rest of your 4th of July goodies and then tell everyone they can’t actually have any because you need it for a recipe.IMG_2342 (800x533)

However, while I did come up with this “recipe” based solely on what I had leftover from the 4th of July and/or already in the pantry or garden, it could be made on site, during the party…IMG_2265 (800x533)

…the OXO Corn Stripper makes cutting kernels off of the cob a minute-long process, with no silky strings or corn bits flying and flailing aboutIMG_2270 (800x533)

…so it is entirely feasible that you could throw this together as soon as the corn comes off the grill…IMG_2272 (800x533)

…and have it on the table by the time burgers or brats are finished cooking.IMG_2284 (800x533)

And, while I must say that if you are planning on cutting a whole lot of kernels off a whole lot of cobs this summer, the OXO Corn Stripper is absolutely a worthwhile investment based on ease of use alone, let’s be honest, here–IMG_2288 (800x533)

–the best part about it is how well it color coordinates with grilled corn. IMG_2231 (800x533)

Grilled Corn Caprese Salsa

  • 2 ears corn, grilled
  • 1 medium tomato, diced (1 cup)
  • 1/3 cup mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/4″ cubes
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar (white, if you have it)
  • s + p
  1. Remove corn kernels from cob (using a corn stripper, or knife).
  2. Combine with remaining ingredients in a small mixing bowl.
  3. Adjust seasoning to taste.

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Raspberry Pecan Vanilla Wafer Cake

by Sarah on July 11, 2014 · 3 comments

I’m really glad I didn’t let my baking insecurities get the best of me on the Fourth of July.IMG_2111 (1024x683)

The timing was impeccable: Mama Smart was coming to visit and it just so happened that the cookbook featured in Southern Living was from The Thomasville Garden Club–not just from her hometown, but a club housed in a building next door to her childhood home.IMG_1919 (1024x683)

But despite my years spent stress baking, being referred to as ‘baked goods,’ and miraculously not causing multiple pounds of weight gain in my roommates through  butter and sugar in college, I have since developed a bit of baking insecurity.

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I don’t believe mine will be the favorite dessert, and so I don’t even try.

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(Or, I weirdly try to prevent others from bringing something to “compete.”)IMG_1899 (1024x683)

But, a recipe that came from my mama’s hometown?IMG_2047 (1024x683)

A cake made with crushed vanilla wafers instead of flour?

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It just seemed to delicious to resist.*

*And Mama Smart insisted.

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Bonus: I got to eat butter and sugar–and cookies– for breakfast.

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(The added raspberries were a last minute stroke of pure genius and inspiration.)IMG_1933 (1024x683)

Maybe The Professor still only wanted to eat the brownies,* and the piece of cake I saved for him is still languishing in his fridge…

*You can’t change a chocoholic.IMG_2071 (1024x683)

…but when people actually ate almost all of it, despite complaining of eating too much already, and my friend (“The Baker”) Brian asked for the recipe, I knew I’d struck gold.

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Insecurities be damned.IMG_2058 (1024x682)

Plus, any cake whose batter inspires the immediate proclamation of “OH SWEET BABY JESUS!” is definitely worth baking.IMG_2115 (1024x682)

Raspberry Pecan Vanilla Wafer Cake

(“Oh Sweet Baby Jesus” Cake)

Adapted from the Thomasville Garden Club’s Vanilla Wafer Cake

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 (11-oz.) box vanilla wafers, crushed in a food processor
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 3/4 cup flaked sweetened coconut
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 (6-0z.) box fresh raspberries
  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat together sugar, butter, and vanilla using an electric hand mixer.
  3. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat just until yellow disappears.
  4. Alternate beating in the crushed vanilla wafers and milk, beginning and ending with wafers.
  5. Stir in salt, coconut, pecans, and raspberries.
  6. Pour batter into a greased (perhaps with the butter wrappers?) and floured Bundt pan.
  7. Bake 60-80 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Serve with fresh berries and a simple icing of cream cheese and frozen whipped topping (whipped together), if desired.IMG_2125 (800x533)


When Mama Smart Comes to Town…

by Sarah on July 9, 2014 · 8 comments

When Mama Smart comes to town…

…you will get attacked by an alligator and she won’t care.IMG_20140703_180910_904 (576x1024)

However, she will learn about the “sorority squat” after a morning of hiking/ climbing on boulders.

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When Mama Smart comes to town…

…your apartment will become a rather glorious yoga studio.IMG_1911 (683x1024)

But you’ll be rewarded for all that moving by Professor-made pizza (one of the best ones yet).IMG_20140702_215127

When Mama Smart comes to town…

…you’ll treat her to a lunch of Sun Dried Tomato & Basil White Bean Burgers, sweet potato chips, okra, and local zipper squash.IMG_20140703_133257_486 (1024x576)

Then she’ll treat you to dinner at Five, where the gulf catch is grilled black grouper with roasted corn, potatoes, and peppers, covered in a bit of sriracha buerre blanc.IMG_20140705_212137

And then you’ll BOTH be treated to dinner at Epiphany (by The Professor), where you’ll share squash blossom tamales with crab, pork sausage with collards and spicy blackberry gastrique, shrimp and miso chili biscuits, and miso-glazed roasted turnips and apples with pork belly.PhotoGrid_1404739419912

Plus a tequila sunrise.IMG_20140703_212333

When Mama Smart comes to town…

…you might just become and aunt, and she might become a grandmother (!) and you’ll suddenly want to only speak in a baby voice while looking at pictures of the gorgeous niece/granddaughter.DSCN1082

When Mama Smart comes to town…IMG_1976 (1024x683)

…you’ll taste Duke’s Mayonnaise for  the first time, and your life–and pimiento cheese–will never be the same.IMG_20140704_123658 (1024x576)

(In fact, you’ll make so much pimiento cheese you will make her a pimiento cheese sandwich just to try to reduce the obscene quantity in your fridge.)IMG_20140704_124514_951 (1024x576)

When Mama Smart comes to town…

You’ll throw one of your most successful backyard cookouts yet, for the fabulous Fourth of July…IMG_20140704_224230

…and she’ll spend the morning dreaming up and constructing a tarp tent to shade the guests…photo 4 (4) (1024x768)

…while you spend the morning drinking dreaming up and concocting a Sparkling Berry Mint Lemonade Sangria that you will be thinking about for days to come. (And not because you are hungover….)IMG_2130 (1024x683)

When Mama Smart comes to town…

…you’ll take her to the farmer’s market–twice–to introduce her to all of your “friends.” (And I don’t mean the vegetables.)IMG_20140705_081554

…you’ll rediscover your baking talents, with a cake inspired by a cookbook from her Georgia hometown.IMG_2106 (1024x683)

…you’ll marvel at her epic bowls of chia banana oatmeal with blueberries and peanut butter..IMG_2222 (1024x683)

…and you’ll miss her terribly when she’s gone!


A good veggie burger recipe is hard to find.

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By ‘good’ I mean one that is flavorful, healthy, easy to make, doesn’t require you to make four different pots of grains just to assemble it, and–perhaps most importantly–holds together when you cook it.IMG_1764 (1024x682)(Speaking of which, do you ever feel like you are talking to a puppy when you make them?: IMG_1795 (1024x683)

“Good little veggie burger…Sit! Stay! Hold together!”)

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Consider this Sun Dried Tomato & Basil White Bean Burger experiment–IMG_1841 (1024x684)

–inspired in equal parts by this recipe, the jar of sun dried tomatoes in my fridge, and the fresh basil from The Professor’s garden I want to put on everything–IMG_1770 (1024x683)

–and the previously frozen Rudi’s Gluten-Free bread I had on hand–

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–a good* veggie burger recipe.

*See definition above if you cannot hold one thought while following along with my tangents. [Which is pretty much everyone.]

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They really need no condiments or burger accouterments, but I do recommend pairing with sourdough English muffins.

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And a little extra tomato and/or basil accent never hurt anyItalianone.


Sun Dried Tomato + Basil White Bean Burgers

(Adapted from The Cooking Channel’s Really Simple Bean Burgers)

  • 2 slices gluten-free bread or 1 cup gluten-free breadcrumbs
  • 2 15.5-oz cans cannelini (white kidney) beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
  • s + p
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbsp. sun dried tomatoes, packed in oil
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1-2 tsp. Italian or Tuscan seasoning (optional)
  1. Cook onion and garlic over medium heat until onion has softened.
  2. Pulse bread in a food processor until bread crumbs form.
  3. Add nutritional yeast, salt, and pepper. Pulse until blended.
  4. Add the onion, garlic,  basil, sun dried tomatoes, mustard, and approximately half of the beans to the food processor. Process until well blended.
  5. Remove bean mixture from the food processor and put into a medium-sized mixing bowl.
  6. Add remaining beans and mix in with your hands or a fork until well incorporated ,but still chunky.
  7. Form patties and refrigerate for at least an hour.
  8. Cook in an oiled pan until browned and heated through, flipping as little as possible.

I’m just going to let this speak for itself.IMG_20140704_141049_175 (1024x1024)

Sparkling Berry Mint Lemonade Sangria

  • 1 750 ml bottle sparkling sweet white (moscato) wine, chilled
  • 1 750 ml bottle white wine (also sweet, preferably also sparkling), chilled
  • 1 can frozen lemonade concentrate
  • 1/2 cup club soda or water (or to desired dilution)
  • 1 cup fresh berries
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • lemon slices (optional)
  1. Combine wine and lemonade in a pitcher. Stir until lemonade has dissolved.
  2. Add club soda or water in small increments until it has reached desired dilution. (Remember to add less if you will be adding ice later.)
  3. Stir in berries and mint, muddling for stronger flavor infusion.
  4. Refrigerate until serving…although I know from personal experience that it tastes great immediately. :) IMG_20140704_141100_804 (1024x571)

I guess it would have been nice of me to share that delicious, summery, made from completely local* ingredients Tomato & Cucumber Salad I flaunted in my OXO Little Salad Shaker review wouldn’t it?

*Except for the oil and vinegar. Those came from Target.

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It’s never too late, though, is it?IMG_1665 (1024x683) (2)Tomato & Cucumber Salad with Basil Mint Vinaigrette 

Note: As usual, I haphazardly measured ingredients, so you can adjust as necessary.

  • 3 cups chopped cucumber (about 2 medium cucumbers)
  • 3 cups chopped tomatoes (about 3-4 small tomatoes)*
  • 1/3 cup finely slivered sweet onion
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 3 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1-2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • pinch of pepper
  • drizzle of honey or agave (optional)
  • extra fresh basil and mint, for serving
  1. Combine cucumber, tomatoes, and onion in a large bowl.
  2. In a mason jar (with lid) or salad dressing shaker, combine remaining ingredients. Shake well.
  3. Pour dressing over tomato and cucumber mixture. Stir well.
  4. Before serving, add agave and extra herbs, if desired.

*I used very ripe tomatoes, so they did an extra good job of marinating the whole thing. You might need to adjust liquid amounts according to the juiciness of your tomatoes.IMG_1658 (1024x683)


I know y’all were probably hoping I wouldn’t be writing ANY of the OXO #WhataGrillWants reviews after the success of The Professor’s Chapter One write-up, but he has confessed a newfound respect for blog writing, and so I gave him a pass this time around.


Another weekend, another cookout.

But this time, The Professor (and, by default, I) wasn’t (weren’t) hosting.

[Sadly, this meant no excess of leftover food in the fridge post-party, BUT it meant less time spent with The Professor watching me load his dishwasher with a critical eye cleaning up.]IMG_20140628_222733

Seemed as good a time as any to pick another tool from the OXO #WhataGrillWants box to try out.

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Chapter 2: Little Salad Dressing Shaker

Although The Professor literally could not stay away from the grill once we arrived, he did teach me that grill etiquette precludes one grillmaster messing with another grillmaster’s technique…so that meant it was MY turn to take advantage of a cookout accessory that didn’t involve fire.IMG_1644 (1024x683)

And since before I came around The Professor’s idea of a salad was four pieces of arugula covered with four tablespoons of balsamic vinaigrette, I was clearly taking over the use of OXO’s Little Salad Dressing Shaker.IMG_1598 (683x1024)

My goal every Saturday (and some Tuesdays and Thursdays and, well, every day in the summer) is to see what my friends and the farmer’s market have to sell me and take it from there.IMG_1545 (1024x683)

The sweet preteen selling cucumbers and my favorite tomato lady instigated the procurement of their wares, and the subsequent salad creation.IMG_1607 (1024x683)

[I was told by my hostess that she would make a salad and I should bring a side.

But this was going to be a salad without lettuce, which I decided did NOT encroach on her salad making desires.]IMG_1667 (1024x683)

I just needed to locally source* a few more ingredients.

*locally source [verb]: steal from The Professor’s kitchen and gardenIMG_1570 (1024x682)

I will say that my tendency to just pour random amounts of vinegar, salt, sugar, and herbs onto my cucumber and onion summer salads has worked for me quite well in the past.

But the little OXO salad dressing shaker makes it a WHOLE lot easier to remember exactly how much of each ingredient you poured, you know, should you ever want to make the same dressing again.IMG_1626 (1024x668)And while the massive pile of basil and mint I put inside had to be removed and added to the final creation by hand, the salad dressing shaker is working as a lovely infuser in my fridge as we speak you read.

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Overall, a great little gadget to have around, for grill time…or any time.

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[Plus, it has a nice pour spout, which I know The Professor appreciates because that ratio of one tablespoon of dressing to every leaf of lettuce is apparently and accident caused by Paul Newmans’ lack of attention to pour spout necessity.]