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Watermelon Mint Coconut Lime Popsicles What could top off a lovely summer evening of swimming under the stars? What about lazily counting shooting stars while eating delicious homemade popsicles? With the exotic flavors of watermelon, coconut, lime, and mint, these icy treats are as sophisticated as they are refreshing.

Waikiki Kickers
Nugget Markets, The Field Guide, Issue No. 16

INGREDIENTS
4 cups watermelon (cubed)
1/2 cup coconut cream
1 teaspoon lime zest
Juice of one lime
1 teaspoon chopped mint

DIRECTIONS
1. Combine all ingredients in blender and puree.

2. Pour mixture into popsicle molds and freeze overnight.

Serves 6

LINNELL’S NOTES

1. Because the watermelon I purchased wasn’t as sweet as it could be, I added 1 teaspoon of organic light agave nectar to the mixture before freezing.

2. Coconut cream is not the same thing as coconut milk. Coconut cream is thicker and richer than coconut milk.

3. The ingredients separated while the popsicles were freezing. I think the coconut fat rose to the top. The popsicles still tasted great and they looked like I had intentionally layered them.

4. This recipe made six popsicles, plus a full ice cube tray. I need to go out and purchase more popsicle molds!

Enjoy!

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Krasnapolski: spinach and Cheese Casserole Flipping through the pages of a cookbook from Hawaii, I spy recipes for classic Hawaiian dishes such Laulau and Pipikaula. Turning a couple more pages, a recipe called Krasnapolski catches my eye. Krasnapolski? That doesn’t sound Hawaiian at all. A Google search for Krasnapolski reveals little information other than it is the name of a five-star hotel in Amsterdam that began as a restaurant in 1865. Whether this rich spinach and cheese casserole has fancy origins or not, it is versatile enough to be served as a tasty main dish for brunch or an easy-to-make side dish for supper.

Krasnapolski
A Taste of Aloha

INGREDIENTS
6 eggs
2 (10-ounce) packages chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1/2 cup melted butter
1 (32-ounce) carton of cottage cheese
1 pound sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
2 tablespoons flour

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Beat eggs.

3. Add spinach, butter, cottage cheese and Cheddar cheese.

4. Sprinkle flour over ingredients and blend.

5. Bake for 1 hour in a greased 3-quart casserole.

Serves 6-8

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. Squeeze out as much liquid from the spinach as you possibly can. I thought I had, but I still found the casserole to be a little liquidy. After taking one slice out, I felt compelled to spoon out the extra liquid.

2. Bake the casserole until it is set in the center. It will solidify more as it cools down, so plan on serving it only after it has sat for a while.

3. The next time I make this, I will use a 9 by 13-inch baking pan instead of a 3-quart casserole. I think the depth of my casserole dish contributed to the longer cooking time (73 minutes).

4. This is not a low-fat or low-cholesterol recipe! I plan on experimenting with low-fat substitutions the next time around.

Enjoy!

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Cheddar and Poppy Seed Bread Sticks “Dessert, Ma’am?” the waiter asked. “Oh, no thanks. I already had it,” I replied. Noticing his puzzled look, I explained how I used up my dessert calories by eating three of the most addicting bread sticks I’d ever eaten in my life. Smiling knowingly, he looked at me and said, “I understand.” Let me explain: there are bread sticks and then there are THESE bread sticks. Cheesy, buttery, crunchy, and with just a slight amount of kick these bread sticks make a perfect accompaniment for a salad or a bowl of soup.

Cheddar and Poppy Seed Bread Sticks
Cooking With Cafe Pasqual’s

INGREDIENTS
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
8 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
1 large organic egg
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1-1/8 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1/2 teaspoon medium-hot chile powder

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Put the butter and cheese into the bowl of an electric mixer. Use the paddle attachment to combine. When well incorporated, scrape the paddle attachment and replace with the dough hook attachment.

3. Add the egg and mix, then add the heavy cream and mix again to combine all.

4. With the machine running on low, slowly add the flour, then the poppy seeds and chile powder. Leave the mixture on for 15 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.

5. Remove the dough from the mixer and knead by hand on a floured surface for one minute. Re-flour the work surface and roll the dough into a log shape, then flatten the log.

6. Flour the work surface again. Use a floured rolling pin to roll the dough into a large rectangle 12 by 16 inches by 1/4-inch thick. Trim the edges with a pizza cutter to make them straight, then cut strips lengthwise 1/2-inch thick in width.

7. Place parchment paper on 3 baking sheets and carefully transfer the bread sticks, 12 to each pan. Bake for 20 minutes, until the sticks are just lightly browned.

8. Remove and let cool completely before carefully transferring the sticks to a serving container.

Makes 3 dozen bread sticks

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. Cafe Pasqual’s uses a multi-wheel cutter which makes it easy to cut the bread sticks evenly. Not having one of those cutters, I washed and floured my metal yardstick. Pressing against the yardstick, I was able to cut straight lines in the dough with my pizza cutter. Cheddar and Poppy Seed Bread Sticks

2. I got 18 bread sticks and a dozen 2-inch crackers out of one recipe. Next time I will double the recipe.

3. The author states, “The dough may be made a day in advance of baking, if it is tightly wrapped with plastic wrap for storage in the refrigerator.”

Enjoy!

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Fresh Banana Cream Cheesecake An early Father’s Day present for my husband came in the form of a cheesecake. Testing recipes is an occupational and personal hazard for me (think hips), so I gave this fresh-flavored and ultra-creamy dessert to him as a gift. Being the good husband that he is, I knew he would share it. I could bake a cake and eat it, too. Pretty clever of me, wasn’t it?

Fresh Banana Cream Cheesecake
Recipe from Robbie’s Recipe Collection

INGREDIENTS
20 vanilla cream sandwich cookies
1/4 cup margarine, melted
24 oz. cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 eggs
3/4 cup mashed bananas
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS
1. Process cookies in a blender or food processor. Pulse to finely chop.

2. Add melted margarine or butter and pulse until thoroughly combined.

3. Press mixture into the bottom of a 10-inch springform pan; refrigerate.

4. Beat cream cheese with an electric mixer until creamy.

5. Beat in sugar and cornstarch.

5. Beat in eggs, one at a time.

6. Beat in bananas, whipping cream, and vanilla.

7. Pour mixture into prepared crust.

8. Place pan on a cookie sheet and bake in a 350°F oven for 15 minutes.

9. Reduce oven temperature to 200 degrees and bake an additional 75 minutes, or until center is almost set.

10. Allow to cool completely before removing rim of pan.

11. Refrigerate cheesecake, uncovered, at least 6 hours.

Serves 12

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. I used a 9½-inch springform pan and I’m glad I did. This recipe does not make a tall cheesecake, so it was perfect with the smaller pan.

2. Because I used a smaller pan than specified, I used fewer cookies. Even then, the crust was a little thicker than I would have preferred.

3. I used butter instead of margarine, basically because I didn’t have margarine on hand. 1/4 cup of butter is equivalent to 2 ounces of butter for those that weigh their ingredients.

4. Even though the directions don’t state it, don’t forget to preheat your oven.

5. I served each slice with a dollop of whipped cream, a banana slice and a small sprig of mint.

Enjoy!

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Thai Barbecue Chicken Think Thai. Think of some of the most aromatic and flavor-packed ingredients that go into Thai cooking – lemon grass, ginger, coriander, and fish sauce. Think about expanding your barbecue repertoire. Think about the option of grilling outdoors or baking indoors. Think about a perfect dish to serve at a summer party. Think about eating juicy pieces of delicious chicken. Need more encouragement? Click on the photo to enlarge it. Okay, stop thinking now. Go out and buy the ingredients to make your own exotic Thai barbecue chicken for dinner tonight!

Barbecue Chicken
The Cook’s Encyclopedia of Thai Cooking

INGREDIENTS
1 chicken, about 3 to 3½ lb, cut into 8 to 10 pieces
Lime wedges and fresh red chillies, for garnish

For the Marinade:
2 lemon grass stalks, roots trimmed
1 inch piece fresh ginger root, peeled and thinly sliced
6 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
4 shallots, coarsely chopped
1/2 bunch coriander (cilantro) roots, chopped*
1 tbsp palm sugar or light brown sugar
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 tbsp Thai fish sauce
2 tbsp light soy sauce

DIRECTIONS
1. Here’s how to make the marinade: Cut off the lower 2 inches of the lemon grass stalks and chop them coarsely. Put into a food processor with the ginger, garlic, shallots, coriander, sugar, coconut milk, and sauces. Process until smooth.

2. Place the chicken pieces in a dish, pour over the marinade and stir to mix well. Cover the dish and leave in a cool place to marinate for at least 4 hours, or leave it in the refrigerator overnight.

3. Prepare the barbecue or preheat the oven to 400°F. Drain the chicken, reserving the marinade. If you are cooking in the oven, arrange the chicken pieces in a single layer on a rack set over a roasting pan.

4. Cook the chicken on the barbecue over moderately hot coals or on medium heat for a gas barbecue, or bake in the oven for 20–30 minutes. Turn the pieces and brush with the reserved marinade once or twice during cooking.

5. As soon as the chicken pieces are golden brown and cooked through, transfer them to a platter, garnish with the lime wedges and red chillies and serve immediately.

Serves 4 to 6

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. Instead of cutting up a chicken into parts, I opted to use chicken wing parts.

2. *The cookbook author notes that “Coriander roots are more intensely flavoured than the leaves, but the herb is not always available with the roots intact.” According to Fine Cooking, “If you can’t find any cilantro root, substitute chopped cilantro stems with a few leaves mixed in.” I read in several places that an appropriate substitution is two cilantro stems for each root, since coriander stems are not as potent as the roots.

3. My marinade looked greener than the photo in the cookbook – I added too much cilantro.

4. Palm sugar is sold in hard-packed cakes at Asian markets. Grate the cakes to measure and use.

5. I let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator overnight and for an additional half-day.

Enjoy!

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Citrus Gazpacho A trip to the American Southwest and blistering hot days prompt me to explore the world of chilled soups. After eating at Cafe Pasqual’s, a James Beard America’s Regional Cooking Classics award winner, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, I left a few pounds heavier. Not only did I eat every bit of food that was placed before me, I also toted home two of Cafe Pasqual’s cookbooks in my suitcase. In one of the books, Chef Katharine Kagel shares a much-requested recipe for a refreshing citrus-flavored gazpacho.

Citrus Gazpacho
Recipe from Cooking with Cafe Pasqual’s

INGREDIENTS
4 large ripe tomatoes
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
2½ cups freshly squeezed orange juice
Zest and fruit of 1 orange
Zest of 1/2 and fruit of 1 pink grapefruit
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and diced
1/4 medium red onion, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Cayenne pepper

DIRECTIONS
1. Fill a large saucepan with enough water to cover the tomatoes. Place over high heat and bring to a full boil. While the water is heating, use the tip of a sharp paring knife to score a small X on the bottom of each tomato, just piercing the skin.

2. Put the tomatoes into the boiling water for 20 seconds. Use tongs to transfer the tomatoes to a large bowl filled with ice and water. (This will stop further cooking.) Allow the tomatoes to cool for a few minutes, remove them from the water, and peel their skins with either a paring knife or your fingers, starting at the scored end. Discard the peel.

3. Core and dice one tomato and reserve it. Slice the other tomatoes in half crosswise, and squeeze out the seeds. Remove the cores. Put the tomatoes into the container of a blender.

4. Place the garlic, vinegar, orange juice, and orange and grapefruit zests into the blender with the tomatoes and whirl. Transfer the puree to a serving pitcher or a serving bowl and add the cucumber, bell pepper, red onion, and olive oil.

5. To prepare the fruit, use a paring knife on a cutting board to cut off both ends of the grapefruit and orange so that the fruit can securely stand on end for cutting. Starting from the top of the citrus, slice off all the peel and pith, following the contour. All the fruit will now be exposed. Cradle the fruit in the palm of your hand you aren’t using for slicing, and use the paring knife to cut loose each fruit segment from the inner side of the membrane. Angle the long side of the blade between the fruit and the membrane toward the center of each segment, cutting in a V configuration. No membrane should be attached to the fruit segments.

6. Add the fruit segments to the gazpacho mixture and stir.

7. Add the salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste.

8. Chill well before serving.

Makes 6 cups

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. I couldn’t find pink grapefruit at my local market, so I used a red grapefruit instead.
2. The recipe didn’t indicate when to add the reserved diced tomatoes, so I added them in with the cucumbers, bell pepper, and red onions.
3. I added 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper.
4. Chef Kagel notes in her recipe, “The trick to this recipe is to cut all the diced ingredients into uniform dimensions.”

Enjoy!

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The Best Chocolate Cupcakes Make mine dark, sinful, rich and gooey. Make me want to lick my fingers. Make me the best chocolate cupcakes ever. But wait! Don’t use any sissy milk chocolate or not-really-chocolate white chocolate in my cupcakes. Make my cupcakes with dark, bold and slightly bitter chocolate. Please. Pretty please. And while you’re at it, add some aromatic full-flavored coffee to the batter. Yes, they will be perfect, down to the very last delicious crumb. Click on the photo to go to chocolate heaven. Mmmmmmm . . .

The Best Chocolate Cupcakes
Recipe based on Hershey’s Black Magic Cake

INGREDIENTS
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup Hershey’s Cocoa (100% Cacao Special Dark Cocoa)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup strong brewed black coffee
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon, optional

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 350° degrees F (175° degrees C).

2. Grease and flour a cupcake tin or use paper liners.

3. Combine dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl or a stand mixer: flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Whisk together and make a well in the center.

4. Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients: eggs, coffee, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla.

5. Beat at medium-speed for two minutes. Batter will be thin.

6. Pour batter into prepared cupcake tin.

7. Bake at 350° degrees for approximately 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean.

8. Cool on wire rack.

9. Combine frosting ingredients and mix. Spread on cooled cupcakes.

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. The moist and rich cupcake batter will saturate light-colored paper liners. See photo above. Not a bad thing, but the next time I make these I will use grease-proof liners.

2. If you prefer to grease and flour your cupcake tin, instead of rubbing butter and shaking flour in each section, make your life easier by using a cooking spray that contains flour.

3. In lieu of fresh brewed coffee, you can use 2 teaspoons instant coffee dissolved in 1 cup of boiling water.

4. If you don’t have buttermilk, add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to enough milk to make 1 cup (250 ml). Stir and let it sit for 5 minutes.

5. This recipe yields about two dozen cupcakes.

Perfect Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Recipe
Adapted from a recipe by Robyn Stone of Add a Pinch

INGREDIENTS*
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa
2½ cups confectioner’s sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon espresso powder
Pinch salt**

DIRECTIONS
1. Add cocoa to a large bowl or bowl of stand mixer. Whisk through to remove any lumps.

2. Cream together butter and cocoa powder until well-combined.

3. Add sugar and milk to cocoa mixture by adding 1 cup of sugar followed by about a tablespoon of milk. After each addition has been combined, turn mixer onto high speed for about a minute. Repeat until all sugar and milk have been added.

4. Add vanilla extract and espresso powder and combine well.

5. If frosting appears too dry, add more milk, a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the right consistency. If it appears too wet and does not hold its form, add more confectioner’s sugar, a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the right consistency.

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. *The ingredients as posted make half of the original frosting recipe. I cut it in half because I was making cupcakes and not a three-layer cake. I had enough frosting to decorate 25 cupcakes, with some to spare.

2.** I added a pinch of salt with the vanilla and the espresso powder, because I use unsalted butter.

Enjoy!

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