Hibiscus-Lime Popsicles

If you’ve ever sipped a bright magenta-colored cup of Red Zinger tea you’re on familiar terms with hibiscus. In Latin countries, dried hibiscus flowers are known as flor de jamaica and are blended into all sorts of beverages, hot and cold.

Brewed dried hibiscus flowers make jewel-toned gorgeous drinks; it’s also loaded with vitamin C, with a tart flavor that will make your cheeks attempt to suck themselves back into your face. I think it’s much more interesting than sucking on a lemon, though. Under the sourness is a background flavor that reminds me of raspberries and pomegranate.

Mexican paletas – otherwise known as popsicles – are popping up all over the place. There’s an entire cookbook devoted to them, and multiple fun plastic accessories available to make them.

The September issue of St. Louis’ Sauce Magazine features a story by photographer Greg Rannells, 8 delicious ways to fool around with these exotic flowers. I was moved into action by Greg’s idea for paletas, number 3 on the list. After what seems like and endless summer of 100-degree days, all things cold and thirst quenching are highly appealing.

You’ll end up with extra syrup after making this recipe. Go ahead and make another batch of pops, or keep the syrup chilled to add to sparkling water, wine or cocktails. Hibiscus Margarita anyone?

Hibiscus-Lime Popsicles

Serving Size: makes about 8 popsicles, depending on your mold


4 cups water

2 cups sugar

1/2 cup dried hibiscus flowers (available at Latin groceries or natural foods stores)

Freshly grated zest of one lime

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice ( 4 - 6 limes, depending on how juicy they are)

Pinch fine sea salt


  1. Bring the water and sugar to a boil in a saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add the hibiscus flowers, turn off the heat and let the mixture steep at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour for a stronger color and flavor.
  2. Strain the syrup into a metal or glass bowl and chill in the refrigerator until super cold. Pour 2 cups of the syrup into a 4-cup liquid measuring cup (or a bowl); stir in 1 cup cold water, lime zest, juice and salt. Pour into a popsicle mold and freeze until solid.

Olive Oil Granola with Pistachios & Pumpkin Seeds

I’ve mentioned before why it makes sense to make homemade granola – it’s fresh, tastes really good, and is missing preservatives, extra sugar and artificial junk. I’ll add that it costs so much less to make a batch of your own than buying those fancy little bags of granola that can be priced at 10 bucks each, or more.

I’ve had this recipe from Melissa Clark on my hanging-magnetic-refrigerator file for quite a while, and I’ve seen it featured on other website and blogs. I think of it every time one of those fancy bags tempts me to throw it into my shopping basket. I make a mental note to myself to make some when I get home and then…don’t. But since I don’t buy any either, things have been sadly granola-less in my world.

Seems like getting around to making granola, as simple and good as it is, nonetheless becomes one of those tasks that seems to lose priority. Like Swiffing (Swiffering?) up tumbleweeds of dusty dog hair or sorting the accumulated piles of stuff that like to live in the third row of the minivan.

After making a few batches, I see how much it resembles my favorite granola recipe, but I think I like this version even better. Maybe its the olive oil. This stuff is deliciously addictive; salty, sweet and crunchy, and it has a nice chunky texture, my favorite way to eat granola.


Olive Oil Granola with Pistachios & Pumpkin Seeds

Adapted from Melissa Clark


3 cups rolled oats (old-fashioned)

1 1/2 cups raw, shelled pistachios (Trader Joe's is my favorite source for these)

1 cup raw pumpkin seeds

1 cup unsweetened dried coconut flakes

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup light brown sugar

2 tablespoons ground golden flaxseed (optional)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Heat oven to 300 degrees, with oven racks placed in the middle of the oven.
  2. Put the ingredients in a large bowl in the order listed, then stir very well to mix.
  3. Spread the mixture on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake for about 45 minutes, stirring about every 15 minutes, until the granola looks golden and toasted.
  4. Transfer to a bowl to cool. If you let it cool too much in the pan it tends to harden and stick.
  5. You can mix in dried fruit of your choice - cherries and cranberries are my faves..

Chocolate Truffle Ice Cream


I’m a purist when it comes to ice cream; not a fan of those what-the-hell flavors that pose as ice cream but are actually a totally different category of dessert – pumpkin pie, cotton candy and wedding cake come to mind.

I avoid distracting mix-ins like swirling candy rainbows, chunks of cake, cookies or even chocolate chips. That stuff just gets in the way.

When I indulge in ice cream, I want to be focused on the very essence of it: cream, air and sugar. I want smooth, super-luscious cream floating in my mouth; sweet, butterfatty custard in easy to understand flavors like vanilla, strawberry or chocolate.


Making homemade ice cream isn’t difficult, but it does involve some patience and maybe a tiny bit of bravery during certain delicate steps such as making the custard base on the stovetop (scrambled eggs are not fun in ice cream, and neither is throwing them out and starting all over).

The demand and production of ultra-premium “artisanal” ice cream is growing. If you live or visit a city that has small shops like Jeni’s in Columbus, Ohio or Van Leeuwen in New York City, well lucky you. Bypass the recipe below and go out on the town!

But if you have some time, an inexpensive electric ice cream maker and the desire for indulgence, you can make this rich, not-too-sweet ice cream in your kitchen. The texture is very much like the inside of a chocolate truffle, only much colder…


Chocolate Truffle Ice Cream

Serving Size: 1 quart


4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

8 egg yolks

1 cup brown sugar

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup whole milk

1/3 cup cocoa powder, plus more for serving

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt


  1. Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set it over a saucepan of simmering water. Let the chocolate melt, stirring until smooth. Set aside to cool.
  2. Beat the egg yolks and sugar in an electric mixer until thickened and pale, about 5 minutes on medium-high speed.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the cream, milk, cocoa and salt in a saucepan. Bring the mixture just to a boil - when little bubbles form around the edges of the pan, you're done. Transfer to a container with a pouring spout (like a Pyrex liquid measure) and slowly drizzle into the egg mixture on low speed.
  4. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook for 5 - 7 minutes over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until thickened enough that the whisk leaves a trail in the pan. If you want to be sure, the temperature should read 175 degrees on an instant thermometer.
  5. Whisk the melted chocolate into the custard until completely smooth. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until very cold - at least 6 hours or overnight.
  6. Scrape the mixture into an ice cream maker (it will be thick) and churn according to directions. You can serve right away, or transfer to a container to freeze for a few more hours. Scoop truffle-sized servings and dust with cocoa powder.