Friday, September 27, 2013

Pumpkin Spice Rice Cereal Treats



What's better than Rice Cereal Treats? Pumpkin Rice Cereal Treats! If you love pumpkin, you are going to go gaga over these little sweet treats. There is nothing more cozy to make in the Fall than a batch of these good old fashioned rice cereal treats with a twist. It's probably the first dessert we made by ourselves as kids and we hope to one day teach our children how to make them. They are easy and fun to make. Enjoy!

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons of butter
1 bag of mini marshmallows (10oz)
1/4 cup of pumpkin puree
1 1/2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice
6 cups of rice cereal
6 oz. of butterscotch morsels
2 teaspoons of vegetable shortening
Cinnamon for decor

Kitchen Essentials:
Stove
Large pot
Measuring cups and spoons
Can opener
Spatula
Cooking spray
Square cake pan
Cooling rack
Double broiler

Prep:
Spray the cake pan with cooking spray and set aside.

Directions:
Melt the 3 tablespoons of butter in the pot over low heat. Once melted, add the marshmallows and stir until melted. Next, add the pumpkin puree and the pumpkin pie spice. Mix until incorporated.  Remove from the heat and add the rice cereal into the mixture. Softly stir until the cereal is fully coated and pour into the cake pan and allow to cool.

Next, cut the treats into squares and place on a cooling rack. Meanwhile, melt the butterscotch morsels in a double broiler. Add two teaspoons of vegetable shortening to thin it out. Drizzle on the treats and allow to harden.




Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Fine Dining on an Airport Runway (Well, Almost!) #PricelessMiami #MC

We are members of the Collective Bias Social Fabric community. We have been compensated to share our experience with you by Collective Bias and their client, Mastercard.

Although we live only a few blocks away from Miami International Airport, we sometimes forget that it even exists except when we need to take a flight. Last weekend we participated in a Miami Spice event at the 94th Aero Squadron, a restaurant that overlooks the MIA runway. Watching the planes land just feet from us got us excited about planning another vacation! We are MasterCard holders, which allows us to take advantage of Priceless Miami dining experiences such as this one. Miami Spice has been around for 12 years and is a fabulous way of trying out different participating fine restaurants in our city at a fraction of the cost. As foodies, we enjoy Miami fine dining and it feels good knowing that almost all of the restaurants we go to accept MasterCard. Also, another perk we receive as MasterCard holders is bonus miles we use every time we fly, which is a lot these days! We can't wait to use those miles for our next trip.






The 94th Aero Squadron has been around since we were little kids. Located near a major highway, Cristy would see it everyday on her way home from school. For some strange reason, she thought it was a witch's house! Perhaps because there isn't anything like it in Miami. This building is actually a replica of a World War I French farmhouse. According to our very knowledgeable server, Roberto, it was built by a pilot, hence the aviation theme to the restaurant. From the moment you enter the property, you are greeted by 1940s era music playing and lush tropical landscaping. We just loved the quaint decor of the gardens outside. 




Once inside, the hostess escorted us to our table with a clear view of Miami International Airport's runway. We made reservations at 6 p.m. and were able to take full advantage of the view during the day, at sunset and at night. Although some aspects of the restaurant are a little outdated, the ambiance was romantic and warm. There was even a gas fireplace in the foyer although it was 99 degrees outside! If you are lucky, you will even see a cargo train pass right by your window! We didn't get the opportunity to see that, but we did see plenty of commercial airplanes land and take off. Perhaps the most unique thing about 94th Aero Squadron are the headphones available at the tables where you could listen to the air traffic controllers at the airport. 


We ordered from the Miami Spice menu, which is only $39 per person. That included an appetizer, an entree and a dessert. It was a lot more food than we are accustomed to eating, so we tried a little bit of everything and took the left overs home.


Michael ordered escargot to start. We've had this many times in our life, even in Paris, but we have got to say that this one was one of the best we've had. Perhaps in part because each buttery snail was topped with a pastry puff. Pastry puffs are always a good idea. 



Cristy ordered the beer cheddar soup because it is listed on the menu as a staple item. They have been using the same recipe since 1974. It had to be good, right? Of course it was! We were not disappointed! Cheese and beer together is also always a good idea. It was creamy, yet very light at the same time. We only had a few spoonfuls in order to save room for the entrees, but it could easily disappear in a few minutes. It's really good.



As his main entree, Michael ordered the steak and mashed potatoes. The meat was perfectly cooked and had wonderful grill marks on it, which make it better somehow. The mashed potatoes were fluffy and light. The vegetables tasted great, but they were cooked in butter, and anything tastes better with butter!



The salmon baked with pecans, herbs and Panko crumbs that Cristy ordered was fabulous. We need to recreate this at home! We had never thought about pairing salmon with pecans before, but it was a great combo. The nuts had a nice bite to them and the salmon had a perfect amount of seasoning from the fresh herbs on top of it. She ordered a baked potato and vegetables as her sides. Both were good as well. 




For dessert, we ordered the coconut flan and the cheesecake to share. The cheesecake was probably the winner, just because it was very velvety and smooth. You could really taste the cream cheese. The flan was also satisfying, but we weren't fans of the coconut shavings on top. 





To top it off, we each ordered coffee. Cristy had a cappuccino and Michael had an espresso. We loved the presentation of each of the dishes and even the coffee looked great!



After dinner, we went outside to take in the views of the airport at night. The restaurant has three separate patios in the back that are surrounded by beautiful oak trees, a lake and twinkling white lights. There's even a fire pit (not that we need it in Miami), which made it even more romantic. We sat back, relaxed, took pictures and talked about our next trip. Where are we planning on going? You need to continue to follow our blog to find out! We'll take suggestions below too!

If you are like us and into fine dining, exclusive invitations to events like this one, traveling, arts and entertainment, you should really look into becoming a MasterCard holder to enjoy the benefits of Priceless Miami! For more information about Priceless Miami click on the link!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Grilled Fig Salad




Lately, we've been trying to eat a little healthier, but as food bloggers, we are not willing to sacrifice flavor! That's why we came up with this filling salad recipe that our waists and our taste buds both agree on. The sweetness and smokiness of the grilled fig is a perfect blend of chewy deliciousness. The flax seeds and almond slivers give the salad a great crunch and a burst of fiber and protein your body needs. You will love the lemon vinaigrette so much, you'll store it in your fridge for days and use on other salads. 


(Serving for 2 people)

Ingredients for Salad:

6 figs
2-3 cups of spring mix lettuces
2 tablespoons of flax seeds
3 tablespoons of almond slivers

Ingredients for Lemon Vinaigrette:

Juice of one lemon
1 teaspoon of mustard
2 teaspoons of honey
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper

Kitchen Essentials:

Bar-Be-Que or indoor grill 
Small pan
Whisk
Measuring cups
Measuring spoons
Knife
Cutting board
2 small mixing bowls
Kitchen towel
Nonstick spray
Kitchen tongs

Directions for Lemon Vinaigrette:

In a small bowl, add the juice of one lemon, mustard and honey. While whisking, slowing pour in the extra virgin olive oil. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to taste and your dressing is done. Set aside and assemble the rest of the salad.

Directions for the Grilled Fig Salad:

Begin by gently washing your figs and pat drying them with a clean kitchen towel. Cut the figs in half lengthwise. Turn on your grill to medium heat and spray generously with nonstick spray. 

Place a small pan over medium heat and allow it to warm up. Add your slivered almonds and flax seeds and toast for 4 to 5 minutes. Keep an eye on them, nuts can burn really quickly. Once they have gotten nice and toasted, remove from the heat.




Place the figs cut side down on the grill and let them cook for 4 to 6 minutes. You want figs to warm through and allow them to get nice grill marks. By grilling the figs, you are caramelizing the sugars in the fig and enhancing their flavor. Remove the figs from the grill using your tongs.




The last thing left to do is assemble your salad.  Place 1 to 1 1/2 cups of spring mix lettuce down on a plate. Next arrange your figs and sprinkle with the toasted nuts.  Pour a little of your lemon vinaigrette over the salad and you are ready to enjoy a delicious and healthy salad!



Thursday, September 19, 2013

Fig and Honey Jam



Every once in a while, we become obsessed with a particular type of food. One year, it was ginger. A few months ago, it was Spanish sausage. Now, our new obsession are figs. It all started in May when we went to Paris. We had a connecting flight in Canada and had a sandwich at the airport that had fig jam, apples and brie cheese. Ever since then, we have been wanting to make our own fig jam but with a twist, of course! Our stamp on this recipe is using honey instead of sugar. You could spread this jam on sandwiches, crackers, bread, soft cheeses, etc. This thick and tasty jam makes a wonderful gift as well!

Ingredients:

2 16 oz. packages of figs
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
1/3 cup of water
1/3 cup of honey
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Kitchen Essentials:

Large pot
Stove
Measuring cups and spoons
Spatula
Emersion blender 

Directions:


Cut the figs into quarters and place in the pot. Next, add the water, honey and lemon juice over the figs. 



Turn the heat on to medium and allow the mixture to simmer for about 10 minutes while frequently stirring. 



When the figs are soft, remove the pot from the stove and blend the ingredients with an emersion blender. Be careful to not burn yourself while blending. If you do not have an emersion blender, place the mixture in a food processor and pulse until smooth. 



Once the mixture is smooth, place the pot back on the stove. Continue to mix with a spatula until the the jam thickens. Remove from the heat and add the vanilla extract and mix. You can either can it in a ball jar or refrigerate for up to a week. The jam is ready to eat when cooled. 



Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Mexican Fiesta Night Inspired by the Pioneer Woman



A few weeks ago, we invited our good friend Lydia over for dinner. Lydia was my English teacher in high school and inspired me to study journalism in college. Now, she is my mentor and one of our blog's biggest fans! We don't get to see her very often because she lives in Texas and we live in Miami, so we wanted to do something special for her when she came down for a visit. I know she is a huge Ree Drummond fan (The Pioneer Woman), as are we, so I decided to make a few of her recipes for our dinner party. She has so many yummy recipes that I had a hard time choosing what to make. I happened to be watching the Food Network one day when her "Mexican Fiesta" episode come on. I thought it was perfect to make Mexican food for my good Texan friend, so I recorded the episode and made everything she made on that episode, including a super tender and cheesy "Tequila Lime Chicken," an extraordinary "Black Refried Beans" dish and our absolute favorite part of the evening, a "Mexican Rice Casserole." Lydia loved it so much that she broke her strict diet that night AND even made the rice casserole for her family when she got back home!  Here are the recipes for those delicious dishes with a few tweaks here and there by us. We also cut some of the recipes in half to accommodate a small group. Hope you enjoy!



Tequila Lime Chicken


Ingredients:
Juice of 2 limes
1/2 cup of tequila
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cloves of garlic
1/2 jalapeno, sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup grated Monterey Jack

Options for servings:
Corn tortillas
Flour tortillas
Grated Monterey Jack
Pico de gallo
Jalapeno slices
Lime wedges
Avocado slices
Sour cream

Kitchen Essentials:
Cutting board
Knife
Refrigerator 
Large plastic freezer bag
Measuring cups and spoons
Grill

Prep:
Add the lime juice, tequila, olive oil, salt, garlic, jalapenos and cilantro into a large plastic freezer bag. Add the chicken, seal the bag and marinate in the fridge for several hours or overnight.

Directions:
Remove the chicken from the bag and grill it over medium-high heat. Rotate the chicken 45-degrees on both sides to create nice grill marks, and continue grilling until the chicken is cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Melt the Monterey Jack over the top of the sliced chicken breasts. Slice the chicken and serve it on a plate topped with the sides.




Black Refried Beans

Ingredients:
1 pound dried black beans, soaked overnight in cold water
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Kitchen Essentials:
Large bowl
Colander 
Large pot
Measuring spoons

Prep:
Soak beans in water overnight in a large bowl to soften. The next day, mince the garlic and chop the onion.

Directions:
Drain the soaked beans and add to a pot. Cover with 2 inches cold water and add the garlic, onions, cumin, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Leave to a simmer until the beans are tender and the liquid has turned into a thick sauce, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Melt the butter in a skillet and pour in the beans. Mash the beans (leave some texture) and cook over a medium heat, 3 or 4 minutes.



Mexican Rice Casserole

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons canola oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 to 1 whole large onion, chopped
4 cups long grain rice
Two 14.5-ounce cans whole tomatoes
One 10-ounce can diced tomatoes and green chiles, such as Rotel
1 teaspoon cumin (or more to taste)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
6 to 8 cups low-sodium chicken broth (more if needed)
1 1/2 cups grated Cheddar
Fresh cilantro, chopped, for serving

Kitchen Essentials:
Oven
Cutting board
Knife
Stove
Pan
Measuring cups and spoons
Large Dutch oven
Can opener
Spatula

Prep:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Mince the garlic and chop the onions.

Directions:
Heat the oil in a large dutch oven and add the garlic and onions. Cook, 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and add the rice. Stir constantly, making sure the rice doesn't burn. Cook over low heat, about 3 minutes.

Next, add the whole tomatoes, diced tomatoes, cumin, salt, pepper, cayenne and turmeric. Stir to combine and let cook, about 2 minutes. Finally, add the chicken broth and stir the mixture together. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then reduce heat to low. Cover, and simmer until the rice is not quite done, 10 to 15 minutes.

Top with the cheese, and then bake with the lid off until the cheese is melted and the rice fully cooked, about 15 minutes. Serve with chopped cilantro.





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