How to Host Happy Hour for Less

Be your own bartender with a top-notch, five-bottle home bar that lets you make pretty much any popular cocktail and costs only $100. We’ll drink to that!

 

Five spirits experts share the bottles that deliver the best bang for your Benjamin. Try these pro picks to make your living room the best bar in town!

Rum

Plantation 3 Stars White Rum ($18 for 750 ml)

“This is one of my favorite white rums for any budget. An aged blend of Caribbean rums, it adds hints of tropical fruit to any drink, especially a daiquiri.” —Blair Reynolds, owner of bar and restaurant Hale Pele in Portland, OR 

Another great pick

Boozy Wray & Nephew White Overproof Rum will wake up a mai tai—or any tiki drink. ($19 for 750 ml)

 

Gin

Citadelle Gin ($25 for 750 ml)

“Leave it to the French to come up with a delightfully flavorful gin. (No wonder: it’s made with nearly 20 herbs, roots, spices and flowers.) It pairs particularly well with citrus. One Tom Collins, please.” —Paul Clarke, author of The Cocktail Chronicles 

Another great pick 

Juniper-heavy Gordon’s London Dry Gin is a steal, and ideal in a gin and tonic. ($13 for 750 ml)

 

Tequila

Pueblo Viejo Blanco ($18 for 750 ml)

“This blanco tequila (which isn’t aged) is distilled in a traditional way. It has a citrusy, earthy flavor that shines in a margarita.” —Courtenay Greenleaf, corporate beverage director at Rosa Mexicano restaurants 

Another great pick 

Spicy Cimarrón Blanco offers fresh agave flavor. ($20 for 750 ml)

 

Vodka

Tito’s Handmade Vodka ($21 for 750 ml)

“Corn-based Tito’s is one of the most bright- tasting, clean vodkas around—which is why it’s so delicious on the rocks or in a martini. I also love that it’s from Austin, my hometown.” —Christina Cabrera, bar consultant at San Francisco’s Barbarossa Lounge 

Another great pick

Crisp Gruven Handcrafted Vodka, made from wheat and rye, is a cocktail go-to. ($11 for 750 ml)

 

Bourbon

W. L. Weller Special Reserve ($18 for 750 ml)

“I don’t make cocktails with anything I wouldn’t drink on its own. This bourbon has a sophisticated sweetness balanced by a fiery kick, which makes it great neat and in a mixed drink.” —Michael Neff, bar director at NYC’s Holiday Cocktail Lounge 

Another great pick 

Aged in charred oak barrels, Jim Beam Black is just as complex as pricier bourbons. ($22 for 750 ml)

 

By Joshua M. Bernstein; Photography by Aaron Dyer

 


30 Reasons to Eat Your Veggies

Getting your daily dose of vegetables can sometimes feel like a challenge, but Recipe for Success is making that challenge a fun one! Every March, the foundation initiates Veg Out!, a call to action to eat 30 different vegetables throughout the month. Recipe for Success has created a ton of resources to help make eating your veggies easy and enjoyable. You can find recipes, local farmers markets and events, and their veggie tracker sheet and app makes remembering to eat your veggies super simple.


But wait—there’s more! If eating your veggies weren’t rewarding enough, you’ll have the chance to win a ton of awesome prizes along the way! Including a chance to win a set of the Rachael Ray Cucina Hard Enamel Nonstick 12-Piece Cookware. For more information on how to enter, click here.

Photo courtesy of Rachael Ray Store 

Looking for some veggie inspiration? Here are some of our favorite hearty and healthy recipes that are perfect for the season.

Creamed Roasted Red Pepper & Kale Penne

Carrot Soup with Ginger & Thyme

Sicilian Tuna-and-Potato Salad

Paella-Stuffed Squash


The Pastry School Diaries: Get in Shape!

Editorial Assistant Lauren Katz is enrolled in the part-time Pastry & Baking Arts program at New York City’s Institute of Culinary Education. Follow her each week as she shares her sweet experiences! 

 

Our final unit (eeek!) of classes is all about the finer side to pastry arts: sugar molding, chocolate work and cake decorating. While I definitely consider my baking style to be on the rustic (read: imperfect) side, I’ve very much enjoyed learning about these techniques so far.

 

We started out learning how to make sugar showpieces. You know, those things you see on cooking competitions, that when the chefs move them from their table to the judging station your heart pounds in anxiety that they’re going to drop the whole thing.

 

 

Despite their name, these “sugar” showpieces are actually made out of isomalt, an almost-as-sweet sugar substitute that is resistant to humidity and crystallization, two very important factors when it comes to making one of these. We simply melted the isomalt on the stove, added edible paint and poured it into large silicone molds. Once the shapes were hard enough to pop out of the molds, you can use a small amount of melted isomalt to fasten the pieces together, or a blow torch works, as well. We had creative liberty in how we colored and assembled our pieces, and as stressful as the process seems, it was really quite fun.

 

Next, we learned the process behind making chocolates from bean to bar. Creative Director Michael Laisksonis has become our school’s master chocolatier, importing beans from all over the world and scratch-making his very own chocolate. The process is a long one and a labor of love, but the final product is completely worth it.

 

A brief, visual representation of the bean-to-bar process

Now that I’ve gained an appreciation for the art of chocolate making, find out what happens when I try my hand at rolling and filling truffles next week!


Make Wolfgang Puck’s Oscars Menu at Home!

The celebs may have a busy day night ahead of them come Academy Awards time, but celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck will be even busier. Every year, his team caters the official Oscars after-party, the Governors Ball. And while the party may be exclusive to the stars and VIPs of Hollywood, you can recreate a lot of the dishes at home! So grab your favorite spot on the couch, turn on the red carpet pre-show and nosh your heart out. Here’s a peek at the dishes on Wolfgang’s menu this year, plus our easy ways to make them yourself:

 

Governors Ball menu item: Root Vegetable Chips

Our version: Baked Veggie Chips

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Chrissy Teigen’s Artichoke, Spinach & Buffalo Chicken Dip is What Snack Time Dreams are Made of

We said it in our March issue and we’ll say it again—Chrissy Teigen’s got some serious cooking cred!

The model, TV host and mom-to-be can now add cookbook author to her resume, with her newest release of Cravings.

We got a sneak peek of the book and we promise that every page will have your mouth drooling and your stomach rumbling.

To give you a little taste of Teigen’s recipe repertoire, consider making her Stretchy Artichoke, Spinach, and Buffalo Chicken Dip for your next party. Teigen promises, “every single bite is the heaven we hope exists.”

SERVES 6 to 8

PREP TIME: 20 mintutes

TOTAL TIME: 3 hours 30 minutes

for the CHICKEN

1⁄2 cup Cholula hot sauce

1 stick (4 ounces) butter, melted and slightly cooled

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

 

for the DIP

2 (10-ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry (see Note)

2 (14.5-ounce) cans water-packed artichoke hearts, drained, squeezed dry (see Note), and chopped

1 cup mayonnaise

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

3⁄4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano or 1½ teaspoons dried

1 teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½ cup blue cheese crumbles

Spiced Pita Chips (recipe follows), for serving

 

MARINATE AND COOK THE CHICKEN: 

In a medium bowl, combine the hot sauce, melted butter, salt, and pepper. Add the chicken, toss to coat, cover, and marinate for 2 hours at room temp or up to 8 hours, refrigerated.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Remove the chicken from the marinade, place on a baking sheet, and bake until just cooked through, 14 to 15 minutes. When cool enough to handle, shred with your hands or 2 forks into bite-size chunks. Leave the oven on for the dip.

 

MAKE THE DIP:

Coat an oval ceramic 2-quart baking dish with cooking spray or butter.

In a large bowl, mix together the spinach, artichokes, mayo, mozzarella, Parm, garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper. Stir in the shredded chicken. Spread the dip into the baking dish and dot with the blue cheese.

Bake until golden and bubbling, 35 to 40 minutes. Serve with the pita chips.

note: To really get the extra liquid out of the spinach and artichokes, pile them in the center of a big clean kitchen towel and roll up the towel. Twist the ends toward each other and keep twisting until you’ve wrung out as much liquid as humanly possible!

 

spiced PITA CHIPS

MAKES 32 CHIPS/ SERVES 6 TO 8

PREP TIME: 5 minutes

TOTAL TIME: 30 minutes

3 tablespoons butter, melted

2 tablespoons olive oil

1⁄2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1⁄2 teaspoon ground cumin

1⁄2 teaspoon paprika

1⁄2 teaspoon garlic powder

1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt

1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 pitas, cut into 8 wedges each

 

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, combine the melted butter, olive oil, cayenne, cumin, paprika, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper. Add the pita wedges and toss gently to coat. Spread in a single layer on 2 baking sheets and bake, tossing once, until the wedges are browned and crisp at the edges, but still very slightly soft in the center (the chips will harden as they cool), 10 to 15 minutes (depending on thickness of pita). Note: If you like a crunchier chip, bake for a few more minutes, until there is no softness in the center.

Cool completely before serving.

 

Reprinted from Cravings: Recipes for All the Food You Want to Eat. Copyright © 2016 by Chrissy Teigen. Photographs copyright © 2016 by Aubrie Pick. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers,  an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.


11 Reasons to Embrace Citrus Season

You may not think of winter as the most vibrant of seasons when it comes to produce, but citrus is sweeter and juicier than ever. Cozy up to these bright dishes with pops of lemon, lime, orange and grapefruit. Cold and flu season, who??

Lemon-Pistachio Cheese Ball

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The Pastry School Diaries: The Foodie Flame that Never Fades

Editorial Assistant Lauren Katz is enrolled in the part-time Pastry & Baking Arts program at New York City’s Institute of Culinary Education. Follow her each week as she shares her sweet experiences! 

 

While spending 12 hours a week in a kitchen may sound tedious to some people, there are some weeks when those 12 hours of class don’t even feel like enough! I’ve always enjoyed cooking meals at home and baking for friends and family member, so even though I can barely find time to scramble eggs these days, I’ve been making a conscious effort to sneak in some personal time in my kitchen on weekends and non-school nights.

 

When I started school I was nervous that I would lose interest in even setting foot in my kitchen after a long week of work and class. However, that was absolutely not the case. I wanted to use this week’s blog post to promise anyone considering enrolling in culinary or pastry school that your recreational culinary interest will not be lost. When you love something as much as I love cooking and baking, you find time in your life for it—no matter what. And although not every night is a Michelin-quality production (or even something I’d serve to loved ones), I know my passion has not faded. Here’s what I’m up to while at home.

 

Utilizing my pizza dough forming skills to make a white pizza with mushrooms and kale

I made a pear gallette using my school’s recipe for pie dough

Learning how to temper chocolate came in handy to dip these strawberries!

Everyone loves a good homemade snack mix

Chocolate-espresso puddings with homemade vanilla whipped cream. Yum!

Check back next week for more sweet adventures!


How to Make a Coconutty Bunny Cake

When Rachael and her older sister, Maria, were growing up in Upstate New York, Easter was full of sweet surprises. Their grandfather would arrive bearing 4-foot-tall hollow chocolate eggs filled with Italian Easter candies. Dozens of family and friends would gather at their house for a ham or lamb feast prepared by their mom, Elsa, followed by a fun dessert, like this adorable bunny cake. These days, Maria is the family baker. She’s made pony, lizard and ladybug cakes for her kids’ birthday parties, but the bunny cake, which she learned to make alongside her mom, is still her favorite. “It feels like home,” she says. “It’s familiar and comforting and reminds me of all of those good times.”

 

Photography by Will Styer. Food styling by Maria Del Mar Sacasa. Prop styling by Sarah Guido-Laakso

 

 

Coconutty Bunny Cake

Serves 12

Prep 25 min

Bake 30 min

Assembly 30 min

 

Cake

3 3/4 cups cake flour

2 1/2 cups sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 1/2 cups buttermilk, at room temperature

2 sticks butter, melted and cooled slightly

9 large egg yolks

5 tbsp. vegetable oil

1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract

4 large egg whites

3/4 cup rainbow sprinkles

 

Frosting

3 sticks butter, at room temperature

5 3⁄4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

1⁄4 cup whole milk, plus more as needed

1 tbsp. plus 11⁄2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

 

1. Position racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven; preheat to 350° for light pans and 325° for dark pans. Grease and flour three 8-inch cake pans.

2. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, 2 cups sugar, the baking powder, salt and baking soda. In a medium bowl, whisk the buttermilk, butter, yolks, oil and vanilla. (If you really like coconut flavor, use 1 tsp. coconut extract and 1 tsp. vanilla extract.)

3. In a medium bowl using an electric mixer on high, beat the egg whites until very soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. Gradually beat in the remaining 1/2 cup sugar; beat until stiff, glossy peaks form.

4. Using an electric mixer on medium, gradually beat the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture just to blend. Using a rubber spatula, fold half the egg-white mixture into the batter until almost blended. Fold in the remaining egg-white mixture and the sprinkles. Divide the batter among the pans.

5. Bake the cakes, switching the pans between the top and bottom racks halfway through, until a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Let cool in the pans on a wire rack, about 15 minutes. If needed, run a thin knife around the edges of the pans to release the cakes, then invert onto the rack and let cool completely.

6. For the frosting, in a large bowl using an electric mixer on medium, beat the butter until smooth. Add the sugar, 1 cup at a time, mixing to blend between additions. Beat in 1/4 cup milk and the vanilla. Increase the speed to medium-high; beat, adding milk by the tablespoon if too thick, until smooth and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Assemble and frost the cake as shown here.

 


7 Creative Ways to Celebrate National Drink Wine Day

Though we rarely need an excuse to drink wine, here’s a good one: It’s National Drink Wine Day! While a nice glass of red will certainly do the trick, a holiday like this deserves something a little more special, like a sparkling cocktail or a wintry mulled punch. And while you’re add it, infuse your meal with some vino, too! As Julia Child once said, “I enjoy cooking with wine, sometimes I even put it in the food!”

 

Sparkling Berry Sangria

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Pre-Order The Rachael Ray Show’s Great American Cookbook Competition Winner, Fanny Slater’s New Cookbook!

The Rachael Ray show’s “The Great American Cookbook Competition”—co-judged by our own editor-in-chief, Lauren Purcell—culminates in the March debut of the winning title: Fanny Slater’s Orange, Lavender & Figs. The cookbook is packed with Slater’s childhood recipes, including a competition-winning Tin Foil Surprise Breakfast Sandwich (why didn’t we think of that?).

 

To get the nostalgia-inducing recipes, you can pre-order the cookbook (and read more about Slater and her cookbook creation journey) here.