compound butter

Compound butter is a lost, often-forgotten about ingredient for many people today…myself included! There’s something to be said about folding a few flavors into a perfectly soft stick of unsalted butter; it is transformed radically, bursting forth with flavor, color, and life. It comes together in just a matter of minutes, requires no prep work, and only uses up one or two dishes. Simply combine your desired ingredients, roll into a log, and chill until ready! I mean, these are the recipes that we live for, no?

I’m keeping it simple today and sharing some of my favorite ways to jazz up that stick of butter; perhaps you’ll find inspiration for your next brunch, sandwich spread, or simple piece of toast. Savory combinations or sweet, it’s the perfection offering for any meal. I often find myself not really measuring the add-ins; rather, I prefer to taste as I add them in, tweaking as I go along {sometimes, a little extra butter isn’t the worst idea!}. I’d love to hear – what are your favorite combinations to use?

Compound Butter

The perfect way to elevate anything – from a simple piece of toast or fresh baguette, all the way to a beautiful tablespace for a brunch or dinner party. Embrace the beauty of this dish, and make it your own!

Ingredients:

1 stick of organic, unsalted butter…room temperature is best for mixing

mix-ins: {cinnamon and sugar} {chopped fresh rosemary} {macerated berries} {sun-dried tomatoes and basil} {sage and parmesan cheese} {lemon zest and julienned fresh mint} {dried cranberries and orange zest} {horseradish and chives}…for the herbs, I tend to start with several tablespoons. the macerated berries will be close to 1/4 cup. grated cheeses and citrus can be done to suit personal taste. 
To Prepare:
Lay a piece of parchment paper or piece of seran wrap onto the surface of your countertop. This is going to become the “vessel” for storing the compound butter.
In a large mixing bowl combine the softened butter with your desired mix-in ingredients {you can either do this by hand, or with the paddle attachment of your standing mixer} until well blended. Make sure to scrape down the sides.
Transfer the mixture into the center of your parchment paper/seran wrap, shaping into a log form with your spatula. Fold in the sides of the paper, using it to tightly pack the butter into a firm shape*. Place in the refrigerator and allow it to set before serving. Be sure to re-seal it between uses.
*alternatively, you can simply spoon the compound butter into a serving dish and use right away. 

thirsty thursday: the southside

There’s an old saying, somewhere along the lines of “gin makes you sin.”

But I think that it needs to be adjusted, ever so slightly, towards the thought of not liking gin makes you a sinner. But maybe not really…?

I digress. The moral of today’s story is that this is THE DRINK that will make you a gin lover, if you aren’t already. I know I’ve been professing my love and appreciation of {good} bourbon as of late – see here, and here – but gin is my favorite. It’s such a diverse liquor, with flavors and aromas as varied as the many cocktails they’ve inspired.

For today’s drink, we’re keeping it simple; clean, fresh, and bright. Hints of fresh mint, lime juice and just a note of sweetness from the simple syrup let the herbal notes of the gin really shine. Because isn’t that what everyone craves when you’ve got about 8″ of snow on the ground, or is that just me?

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The Southside {serves 1}

Inspired from local favorite, this drink is insanely easy to prepare – and delivers impressive results. 

Ingredients:

2 ounces gin

1 ounce simple syrup

juice of half a lime

fresh mint leaves, julienned

fresh mint sprigs, for garnish

optional: 2-3 ounces club soda, for finishing

To Prepare:

Fill a cocktail shaker with the gin, simple syrup, julienned mint leaves and lime juice. Top with ice, and shake vigorously for 30 seconds or until the exterior becomes frosty.

Strain into a sidecar-style glass and garnish with mint sprigs. Top with club soda, if so desired.

lately: charleston

With the influx of snow and cold that we’ve been experiencing here lately, what better excuse than to go see my baby sister down in beautiful {& warm} Charleston?!

It was the most special weekend – good food & drink, good conversation, and above all, quality sister time. Here’s a glimpse into how we spent our time! 

Alicia xoxo 

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spinach & squash galette

This dish is almost, almost too pretty to eat.

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I often find that some of my most favorite recipes happen to be the ones that I throw together during the week, with whatever ingredients I happen to have kicking around in the refrigerator and/or freezer. Because sometimes I simply lack the energy to run to the grocery store after work and want to get dinner prepped and in the oven as soon as I can. This dinner was the result of said night.

And let me just say that I could not be more thrilled with how fantastic this dish turned out. Leftover roasted butternut squash fanned out atop flaky pie crust, a creamy spinach center, and finished off with tangy blue cheese made for the most comforting dinner we’ve had in awhile.

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It’s hard to keep your “groove” in the kitchen during the week, especially after a long day of work. The hubs and I enjoyed every last crumb of this meal, feeling so satisfied and warm, it was as if this galette had given us both a comforting hug. Almost.

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Spinach & Butternut Squash Galette {original recipe}

Easy to prepare with pre-roasted squash, frozen spinach and a handful of herbs and cheese, you’ll have dinner on the table in no time flat! Both you and your taste buds will be 0h-so-happy to dig in. 

Ingredients:

1 prepared pie crust disc {about 9″ in diameter}, room temperature

cornmeal {for dusting the baking sheet}

1 bag of frozen spinach, thawed and drained of any excess water

1 medium butternut squash, roasted/cooled and cut into medallions

1 cup of Greek yogurt {I used 0% fat because it’s what I had on hand, but you can use whatever your preference is}

8 ounces of crumbled blue cheese

1 tsp. dried oregano

1 tsp. dried rosemary

1/2 tsp. onion powder

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

salt & pepper, to taste

To Prepare:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray, sprinkle with cornmeal.

Unroll the thawed pie crust into the center of the baking sheet, making sure that the entire surface is smooth. Starting about 1″ in from the edge, fan out the roasted butternut squash so that the half-moon pieces overlap slightly; essentially creating a spiral shape. It should make about 2 full spirals. Continue to fan out until you have a well in the center about 4″wide {this can vary slightly, depending on the size of the squash}. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

In a small mixing bowl, combine the spinach, Greek yogurt, spices and season to taste with salt and pepper. Place this mixture into the center well of the galette and, if you find yourself having a bit extra, around the outermost edges of the squash {make sure to do this in a very thin line!}.

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Fold the edges of the pie crust over top of the squash, being careful to not stretch too thin! Overlap each fold slightly, so that it folds on top of itself. Brush with a bit of water to ensure the edges get crisp. Sprinkle the exposed vegetables and spinach mixture with the crumbled blue cheese.

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Bake for 25 minutes, or until the edges begin to turn golden. Increase the heat to 425 degrees and bake for 5-10 minutes more; this will result in a browned center with crispy edges. Allow to cool 5-10 minutes before cutting into wedges and serving.

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Enjoy!

thirsty thursday: tequila mojitos

By now, you all know how much I enjoy a good cocktail. Specifically, one laced with bourbon and kept super simple. But…did you know that I also enjoy tequila?

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This is a far cry for me, as I have only recently begun to enjoy it in forms other than margaritas {and dollar shots at happy hour, but that’s an entirely different story}. A few nights ago, the hubs and I were combing through cocktail books and recipes, trying to decide upon what to make for the week’s upcoming date night. We have enjoyed so many fantastic winter drinks and great red wines over the past few months that our palettes longed for something bright and refreshing. Normally, I would have suggested something with a gin- or vodka-base, but he threw out the idea of “tequila?” and we knew we had to explore the possibility.

I had my doubts, I’ll be honest. But the hubs is such a wonderful curator of craft drinks, I knew that my doubts were for naught. And sure enough, he whipped up the cocktail I’m sharing today. Simple, fresh ingredients with a splash of spicy ginger syrup. YUM. And I’ll tell you – it came at the perfect time! We sipped on this drink; crisp, bright, and oh-so-refreshing, that the entire weekend that followed seemed to have known how we longed for sunshine and warm weather. A beautiful cocktail and a beautiful weekend go hand in hand; I hope you enjoy this as much as we did!

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Tequila Mojitos {serves 1}

A refreshing break from the heavier cocktails that winter seems to cry for, this drink is sure to transport you to the warmest and sunniest of beaches. 

Ingredients:

1-1/2 ounces white tequila

3/4 ounces ginger infused simple syrup {see my recipe here}

cubed ice

club soda, for topping

fresh mint, for both the cocktail and as a garnish

lime wedges, for garnish

To Prepare:

Muddle the mint in the bottom of a rocks glass. Add ice cubes to glass and set aside.

In a shaker combine: ice, tequila, and ginger infused simple syrup. Shake vigorously until frosty, about 30-45 seconds. Strain over the ice into the rocks glass. Top with club soda. Garnish with mint leaves and a lime wedge.

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Cheers!

light & fresh crab dip

When you don’t live ocean side, sometimes you just need to bring the beach to you…no?

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I love to create dishes that remind me of previous trips; food is such a powerful way to evoke wonderful memories that might not often be remembered just through a photo. After all, an image doesn’t create a sensory experience other than just looking at it. While there is nothing wrong with that {in fact, I find myself looking at old photos quite often!} I have so much more fun when I can wrap multiple senses around a memory.

That is where this crab dip comes into play. While I have no particular dish to draw on for inspiration, crab dip is something that we enjoyed on beach vacations as children; later on in life, the hubs and I would have several trips with his family where we picked crabs for dinner all night long. This dish is my homage to those nights – times spent sharing stories and creating memories with those that I love.

This dish is simple to prepare; many of the ingredients you probably have on hand already. A few fresh green onions, dried herbs, and bread crumbs…in addition to the cream cheese and Greek yogurt, these are considered staples for many people {I’ll admit, I had to run out for green onions this time around, though!}.

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The only thing that I request is that you please, please use high-quality crab meat…no room for imitation here! This is a lightened up twist on traditional crab dip; that is, we’re relying very little on creamy ingredients, so it’s vital to the recipe that you not skimp here. The crab is the star, and the other ingredients are merely there to accent it. One bite, and I promise you’ll understand.

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Light & Fresh Crab Dip

Hands-down a favorite in our household, this dip is perfect for any occasion – we love to enjoy it on date nights with a good bottle of wine, or spread between toasted bread for sandwiches. Easily enough to double or triple, too! 

Ingredients:

1 {8 ounce} container of good crab meat…claw, back fin, jumbo lump all work well

1 heaping tbsp. Old Bay seasoning

2 tbsp. dried parsley

2 green onions, finely chopped

2 ounces cream cheese {I opted to use my favorite Greek yogurt and cream cheese blend}, room temperature

3 ounces plain, non-fat Greek yogurt

1/4 cup plain bread crumbs

non-stick cooking spray

salt & pepper, to taste

To Prepare:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray an oven-proof glass serving dish with non-stick cooking spray, and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl combine the cream cheese, yogurt, green onion, and herbs. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Gently fold in the crab meat, making sure to keep the pieces as intact as possible.

Carefully spoon into the prepared baking dish, then top with bread crumbs. Spritz with non-stick cooking spray {this will help ensure a crisp exterior}.

Bake, uncovered, about 25-30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the edges are bubbling. Serve with assorted crackers, toast points, and vegetables for dipping.

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valentine’s day ideas & inspirations

That oh-so-sweet and wonderfully romantic day is almost here…Valentine’s Day, of course!

I am a total romantic, and love getting swept up in the allure of this holiday. Granted, it’s a become a bit commercialized; shouldn’t we celebrate those we love all year long? But for me, I like to see it as yet another opportunity for me to spoil those I love.

One of my absolute favorite traditions about Valentine’s Day is ::you guessed it:: the food! The hubs and I like to go out for a fancy-schmancy dinner around this time, but I like to view it as an opportunity for me to whip up several dishes for a really special meal spent at home. I’ve been pouring over recipes {both savory and sweet} to provide inspiration for this year’s menu. While I certainly have locked it down yet, here’s what has caught my eye!

And of course, a few tried and true favorites:

 

…I’ll leave my hubby on cocktail duty ; )

happy celebrating, everyone! xox