Monday, September 4, 2017

OTT: Raleigh-Calavera

Of all the places there are to eat and or enjoy a cocktail in Raleigh, there are few that make me as happy as the small corner bar, Calavera. And small may be too large a description. When you walk in downstairs you land straight in the bar that can comfortably hold less than ten people. But many times I have been there when the amount of people crammed in dwarfed that number. 

Up the stairs you go and find a very unassuming dining room with floor to ceiling windows that overlook a few other spots in the Oak City. The dining room is small but doesn't feel too cramped. 

 They claim to specialize in two specific things: Tequila and empanadas. And I believe that is why they do them so well. Some places can pull off a menu that is all over the map, but I feel it holds true that when you do specific things right, you will succeed. 

Their prices are perfect for a laid back night out. You can grab a cocktail and two empanadas for under $20. I have found that two tend to be enough for me but sometimes I just need that third flavor. I am a big fan of their pork empanada offerings but I believe their black bean and sweet potato option has become my go to. The flavors just explode in your mouth and you don't even notice you have gone with a vegetarian option. 

and not to be outdone, their tequila selection is top notch. Perhaps one of the largest in our area. And they whip up a darn good margarita. I love that they usually offer seasonal flavors. Right now it was Apple Cider, which is funny because I had just come up with my own recipe for it and to say they were similar would be an understatement! My standard favorite though is their spicy pineapple. So good!

All of this said, you must, and I do mean must, save room to try their key lime pie empanada. Full disclosure: I hate key lime pie. There I said it. I do. My friend ordered this when she visited me last year and insisted I take a bite and thank the good Lord because...OMG, where has this been my whole life. They take an actual key lime pie and just crumble it and use it in the empanada. So flippin good!

One of the other reasons I love stopping by here is their proximity to one of my favorite hole in the wall music venues, Lincoln Theater. You can swing in for dinner beforehand or even just a late night beverage. 

I promise a visit here will be worth your while. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Lazy Day Limeade Cocktail

The Summertime is the perfect excuse to want to be lazy, lounging next to the pool with a cool, refreshing drink in your hand. Such a lovely notion but it doesn't always work out that way. However, even if you are short on time, I have the perfect concoction for you that takes hardly any time at all to create!

Tequila is the perfect compliment to the tartness of the strawberries and lime, one sip and you will be hooked! I made this for a game night gathering and it was gone in a flash. Just be careful, this can be a bit deceiving, it doesn't taste quite as strong as it actually is! I used Simple Limeade for this version, I prefer this and Califia brand because they almost taste homemade versus some of the other brands. This will give it more of a 'craft cocktail' cocktail taste. There is definitely a difference in taste if you use certain limeades but, rest assured...It is tasty no matter which limeade you end up using!

 I used a strawberry vodka but if you don't want to buy a special bottle just for this, take about 1/2 a cup of regular vodka and muddle with fresh strawberries, let sit overnight in a air tight container. 

6 oz limeade
2 oz tequila
1 1/2 oz strawberry vodka
1 lime sliced
1/2 cup sliced strawberries

In a cocktail shaker, place a few of the sliced strawberries and lime slices. Muddle thoroughly. Add the tequila, vodka, and limeade. Shake vigorously for about 10-15 seconds. Place remaining lime slices strawberries in two glasses with ice. Top with the Lazy Day Limeade. 

Now be sure to check out all of these other awesome strawberry recipes from the rest of the Ultimate Recipe Challenge Crew!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Peppermint Ice Cream & Brownie Pie

Chocolate and peppermint is one of my favorite combinations anytime of the year, but particularly around the holidays. They just pair with one another so well and get me all kinds of holly jolly and in the mood to decorate and celebrate the season with my friends. Or you know, curled up by myself watching a Hallmark Christmas movie. If you are looking for a simple and yummy dessert, this peppermint ice cream and brownie pie is divine and will wow everyone. 

It took me a little less than half an hour to make this and pop it into the freezer, I made it for a party that I was going to last week and only had about a 3 hour notice. I was skimming the aisles trying to think of what to make when I noticed the peppermint ice cream was on sale and voila, this version of my peanut butter ice cream pie was the first thing I thought of. 

It is now officially one of my favorites and I am already looking forward to making it for another gathering this weekend. Can you believe we are already in December?! I can't get over how time flies. I am not even close to being done with my shopping so having a simple dessert that I don't have to spend a lot of time on is perfect for me right now!

Peppermint and Ice Cream Brownie Pie

1 pint peppermint ice cream
2-3 cups chopped brownie pieces
oreo pie crust
chocolate sauce

When you are ready to make, set out the ice cream for about half an hour. While you are waiting for the ice cream to soften, go about chopping the brownie pieces. The first few times I made a pie with brownie pieces, I made my own brownies and chopped them up. The last two times I didn't have the available time to make my own brownies so I purchased pre made brownie bites ( you can usually find them in the bakery area of your grocery store) If you do make them yourself, if you are as big a fan of peppermint as I am, you may want to add peppermint andes or some form of peppermint to give your pie even more flavor. 

Once you have chopped the brownies and the ice cream is softened, you are ready to go.  Lay the brownie pieces into the bottom of the oreo crust, reserving some for the top of the pie. You can add chocolate sauce here if you would like. Using a spoon, scoop large amounts of the ice cream on top of the brownie pieces. Use a small spatula to smooth the ice cream and fill to edges. Sprinkle the remaining brownie pieces on top of the ice cream and finish the pie with the sauce. 

Place in the freezer for 2 to 3 hours or until frozen through. 

Friday, November 27, 2015

Prosciutto, Apple, Goat Cheese & Cider Sauce Flat Bread

The name may be a mouthful, but since it will be a rather delicious one, it shouldn't be a problem. I just love the combo of prosciutto, apples, and goat cheese. I made a grilled cheese with these ingredients last year and I knew I wanted to make a similar flat bread version this year. I was not disappointed. 

This flat bread is super simple to put together and every bite is packed full of flavor. These ingredients just pair so well with one another. This could be a simple week night dinner or you could whip one up as an appetizer when you have company. 

I made this with puff pastry, but you could easily swap it out for pizza dough. 

Puff pastry (thawed)
1 granny smith apple (sliced)
4 -6 oz goat cheese 
4-6 pieces of prosciutto (sliced thin)

Whiskey Cider Sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup apple cider
1 oz bourbon
1 tbsp spicy brown sugar
1 tsp chili powder

On a pizza pan, lay the puff pastry. Use your fingers to smooth it out. Liberally top the puff pastry with the prosciutto, apples and, goat cheese crumbles. Pre heat the oven and start the sauce.   In a small sauce pan, place all remaining ingredients. Turn heat on high and whisk continuously, until sauce begins to bubble. Lower heat to medium and continue to whisk until it begins to thicken. Once it has thickened, using a spoon, ladle the sauce over the top of the pizza. 

This is a dish that you need to pay attention to. I have made in three separate stoves and each stove had a completely different baking time. I would say about 15-20 minutes. Just make sure to put your eyes on it at about the 15 minute mark to make sure it hasn't begun to burn. Once the pastry is a nice golden brown, the flat bread is ready. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Pumpkin Spice & Butterscotch Monkey Bread

I am sure most of you have seen the videos going around on facebook for monkey bread. Every time I see one my mouth begins to water. Doesn't matter how many years I have been making these. Doesn't matter if I had just eaten one the night before, every. single. time. I see the videos I must have monkey bread. It is so easy to make. It is so delicious. It always looks incredible. Heck, it always tastes incredible. Plus, you can make so many versions. One version I have for you today is pumpkin spice monkey bread with butterscotch sauce and heath bar bits. It is so delicious and was a complete hit at the birthday party when I served it. 


3 to 4 tubes refrigerated biscuits

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 tbsp pumpkin spice

1/2 tbsp cinnamon

1/3 cup butterscotch sauce

1/2 cup heath bar bits

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a bundt pan. Cut each biscuit into quarters.  Dump the sugar, pumpkin spice, and cinnamon in a large ziplock. Add in the biscuit pieces and shake to coat. Drop the pieces in the coated bundt pan and fill about a third the way full.  Cover with half the heath bar pieces and butterscotch sauce. Fill the pan with the rest of the biscuit pieces, aiming sure to not fill more than 3/4 of the way full. Then use remaining heath bar pieces and pour the remaining butterscotch sauce over the biscuits, doing your best to cover as many pieces as possible.  You can always use more butterscotch sauce if you feel it needs it. This is a recipe that you really can't mess up. Do your thang now. 

bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes until edges are a nice and crusty and don't forget gooey!

After it cools for about half an hour, place a plate over the bundt pan and slowly turn over to release the monkey bread. This is when you sneak a few bites in when no one is looking. Go ahead, I won't tell. 

Also, am I the only one who thinks of My Big Fat Greek Wedding every single time I type bundt pan? There is a new one coming out in the spring, I can't wait to watch it. Preferably while I am eating this;)

If you can't get enough of the butterscotch, pumpkin, and heath bar combo, check out my other blog for this yummy donut hole recipe. 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Dark & Stormier

One of the few cocktails that my husband and I both enjoy are Dark & Stormys. They are very simple to make and while you can enjoy them all year round, I particularity like them in the fall. The spice just seems to warm you right up. 

I began trying to think of ways to put a twist on this classic and there really wasn't too much I wanted to do differently as it's quite delicious on its own. This cocktail only consists of two ingredients: ginger beer and spiced rum. What exactly can you do to mix it up? Enter Ginger cider and it keeps what makes it so delicious with just the slightest differential. 

If you can't find ginger cider, you could just use equal parts ginger beer and apple cider. I really like how the ginger cider tastes though. It isn't too overwhelming and you get the perfect balance of apples and ginger, two of my absolute favorite flavors. 

I made these for a get together and my pictures really didn't turn out and my friends really didn't want to wait for me to get that perfect shot. Blogger fail or a sign of a good time;) But I wanted to include a photo of a proper Dark and Stormy just so you could get an idea of what the layering effect looks like. I took this photo at my birthday dinner at one of my favorite local places, Driftwood Southern Kitchen. 

The ingredients may be a little different but the premise is really the same. I hope you try this cocktail and love it as much as I do.

Dark & Stormier

4.5 oz ginger beer
1.5 oz Dark Rum
lime wedge

You can totally just dump these in a glass and enjoy or to get the layering effect, pour the ginger beer in first and then add in the rum. 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Pumpkin Chicken Chili

Chicken chili is one of my favorite meals. It is so simple to put together, there are so many different versions you can make to mix it up. lets me use my favorite kitchen appliance: my crockpot! I will take any excuse to use the crockpot. I love coming home from a long day out and the aromas of dinner greeting me as I open the door. 

This particular version is great for fall and I actually have made it a couple different ways (mainly due to not always being able to find the different ingredients) and I will list my favorite first and then give you the substitution ideas in case you can't locate them all.  Pumpkin just adds a layer of flavor that takes this dish to another level. 

I stock up each September when the salsas come out just so I can make this year round. I love it that much. 

Pumpkin Chicken Chili

1 lb boneless chicken breast
1 jar pumpkin salsa
1 can black beans
1 small bag frozen corn
1 packet chili seasoning
6 oz pumpkin beer
2-4 oz chicken stock

avocados/sour cream/cheese and anything you like to top your chili with.

Place the chicken, salsa, beans and corn in your slow cooker/crockpot and then top with the packet of chili seasoning. Pour the beer and chicken stock over the ingredients and stir together, just to combine. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. 

And depending upon how long you will be away from home and how much liquid this soaks up, you may want to add more beer or chicken stock. Just eyeball what you think. I have used as much as a whole bottle of beer and as little as 5 oz. So much of this depends upon the type of cooker you have, more liquid will always be better than burned!

If you can't locate the pumpkin salsa ( I have found it at Aldi, Trader Joes and Fresh Market) Use 1/2 cup pumpkin puree and any kind of salsa you prefer.

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