Friday, August 31, 2012

Foodie Pen pals / Afternoon snack

To keep my on my blogging toes and to meet more people out there in the food world I decided to sign up for foodie pen pals.  A fun way to get some goodies and to get to make new friends. I was super excited to get my package from Robyn @ Robyn's view. Her blog is full of adorable crafts, DIY projects and lovely food. To my surprise, I was given a box full of all her talents. I have to say I can get used to this whole foodie pen pal thing. Thank you Robyn for all the goodies. You made me smile and for that, I send you a big hug!
Homemade vanilla extract and cranberries. Can't wait to use both in giant oatmeal cranberry cookies. Or some homemade granola bars for my son's school lunch.
Homemade note cards. I think Robyn must have known that I adore hand written notes. These are so cute and super creative.
Yes, homemade foot scrub and cream. Robyn has a post on how to make the peppermint foot cream on her blog. My feet were so happy this week.
I also got home made sweet and sour sauce and some fresh caught home canned tuna. Put the two together for an afternoon snack. I think I am going to use the sweet and sour sauce to add to some grilled veggies this week. Thank you again to Robyn and all the homemade, decorated jars of fun! My photos do not do all of her hard work any justice! Can't wait to see what I get next month!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Pecan Palines

Seriously sometimes you just gotta treat yo bad self.  You just gotta! You have to buy purple eye shadow, buy a new book, or you just gotta listen to Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch secretly in your car.  We are all pulled in so many directions; life, work, kids, traffic, even Facebook. It feels like you are drowing. So, sometimes I just need to stop and breathe. One afternoon during a big breath, I realized that making something rich, gooey and sweet was the treat I needed. These little mounds of sugar are simple, but are super indulgent.The recipe is very easy to follow. Just what you need when all you want to do is make something tastey and quick. So go out there in this busy world and do something for yourself, buy some new jeans, paint your nails green, listen to 90's rap, and eat as many of these that you can without hitting a total sugar high! 
Lets get this treat going! Sugar, butter, cream...need I say more. 
Pecans add a maple flavor and give a salty nutty texture. Yes, I was "snackin" while baking. Those are some greens and they are not as good as pralines. Give and take...lady...give and take!
Sugar heated on the stove top. Once it has simmered and is bubbly the butter and pecans are added. Cook. Remove from the heat and then once cool, spoon onto parchment into lovely pralines. Let them cool completely before you treat your bad ass self. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Weeknight Dinners

I do tend to fall on the butter and sugar sword a lot, but honestly, true be told... I don't have a huge sweet tooth. (Shhh) I prefer a salty pretzel with warm mustard to cheesecake any day of the week. That being said I do love myself a good slice of toasted banana bread or big o'l ice cream cone. Usually my husband and I try to eat well and weeknight dinners can be tough. Lately we have been trying to eat less meat and more flavorful veggie dishes. These two fresh, fast and easy dinners are courtesy of my husband and his talents of turning something simple into a delight...kinda like the new Fiona Apple album that I can't get out of my earballs. 
Fixings for a lovely Gazpacho sans the bread. Lots of fresh tomato, peppers and cucumbers give this chilled soup texture. 
We toasted some padron peppers and added  sliced avocado to make it a bit more of a meal. Added a little bit of sriracha as no meal is complete without. 
When the weather is hot the last thing we want to do is be in the kitchen. This mango shrimp lettuce wrap is easy to prep and can be a portable lunch if you use larger lettuce leaves and roll them kind of like a spring roll. The real kicker is the date, citrus, and red pepper dipping sauce. 
This magic sauce is sweet and spicy and we used it all week as a salad dressing. Who knew that blended dried dates could make such a light and flavorful dressing. Matt, you can keep cooking any day of the week.  Just so we listen to Fiona Apple at dinner. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Chocolate Ginger Flatbread Crackers

I was in the mood this past weekend for something creative, easy, tasty and quick to make. When you are in a pinch to bring a dessert to a potluck or just want to have something sweet when an unexpected guest is in town. This is a go to idea. Flatbread crackers covered in chocolate with any form of nut and fruit combo you like. I got this idea from Sprouted Kitchen. At first I was a bit nervous about pairing the sweet and spicy ginger with the toasted sesame seeds and chocolate...but Man Oh Man, these bad boys are delish. I also ended up making a cranberry almond combination to use up some leftover almond slices. I am now seriously thinking about doing some sort of salt and pepper chocolate combination. I think that eating too many of these makes the brain a bit bonkers. 

Let's get chopping. Dried sweetened ginger chopped up to whatever size you like. Warning, I ate way too many of these little spicy, sweet nuggets and got a stomach ache. 

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave. We don't have a microwave so stove top is the way for me. Spread the melted chocolate over the crackers and then sprinkle with toppings.

Let the chocolate set and then store in an airtight container. The combination of salt, sweet, spicy and nutty all in one bite. Let you imagination go wild!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Gluten Free Nectarine Almond Gallete

Summer desserts, summer fruits, "Summertime"...cue the Fresh Prince music.  I love summer and all its summer glory, the smell of sunscreen, BBQ and eatin' outside. I enjoy the fact that our little coastal town comes alive with vacationers riding beach cruisers through our neighborhood, having a cookout or listening to a band from a block party down the street. However, as much as I love this time of year I am actually excited for the fall. Something about the first chill in the air and the idea of wearing boots  and scarves makes me smile. Still, summer fruits are in abundance and what better way to celebrate the season with a dessert full of ripe nectarines paired with almonds with the added bonus of it being gluten free. Eat your heart out summer. This one is for you! 
Lets bust out a crust. I used Cup 4 Cup Flour. This is a wonderful product if you don't want to make your own gluten free flour. You can basically use this flour exactly how you would in any recipe that calls for all purpose flour. The flour is amazing to work with and make a very crisp light crust. I am totally sold!
Once the dough comes together it needs to be chilled for at least 30 minutes. This can be done ahead so that you can get out of your kitchen and get your nails done, sit by the pool and admire them. Just a thought.
Bright nectarines meet up with almond meal and sugar. There is something about pairing nectarines with almonds. It is a match.
Makes sure you have enough crust for the edges to fold over. I should have given myself a bit more room, but when folded over it still ended up just fine. The best part about a gallete is it's rustic forgiveness. 

Sliced almonds give texture and an extra toasty nutty flavor. Serve warm or room temp. You could also top with some vanilla ice cream or yogurt, but really a strong cup of coffee and a warm summer breeze is all you need. Enjoy, gluten free or not. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Garlic Dill Quick Pickles

This weekend my husband was out of town and thank goodness because if he was home I think that we both would have had a pickle eating contest. I have always wanted to make pickles, mainly due to loving the heck out of them. I am also fascinated with all the different spices that one can infuse into the lonely cucumber to then turn it into something that can be a satisfying snack, chopped up in a salad or be the sidekick to a sandwich. Doing research on my pickle making exploration I found that there is a whole world of fermentation that I had no clue even existed. Well, these here pickles are quick refrigerator pickles and take only a few ingredients and a few minutes to make. The hard part is waiting for them to cure prior to eating them all up.  
Add whatever spices you like and just go to town! I added coriander, peppercorns, garlic and fresh dill. I also split a jalapeno and added it in to kick up the spicy.
Used a mixture of little pickling cucumbers from the Farmer's market along with the Kirby's cut into spears. Some of the information from my little Internet research suggests blanching the cucumbers first as this allows the pickles to absorb more flavor and they tend to be a bit crisper. I did not do this step as having two small children waiting for dinner made me cut some corners. 
The pickles are still curing but I did sneak a taste and they are crisp and salty. The dill and garlic flavors are starting to come through and I think after a couple of more days in the fridge they are going to be heavenly. If they last that long!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Strawberry Lemon Muffins

Someone please tell me that when you see or think of strawberries you also think of Strawberry Shortcake. No, not the awesome dessert with a pile of whip cream on a spongy cake, but the toy. I am ashamed to admit it, but almost  EVERY  time have a big o'l strawberry up in my face I think of that red head little freckled face doll with the stinky strawberry hair, and that the Strawberry Shortcake "la la la" song starts spinning in my head. Mind you, I loved that toy. I wanted to dance and sing like "Ms. Straw-la la" and wear a big hat on my head with a berry on it. I also really wanted to eat all of these strawberry muffins...seriously sometimes things just don't go your way.
Let's get this party started. We had some extra berries and what better way to use them up than making muffins. Strawberries meets whole wheat flour, lemon zest and some buttermilk. Muffin town here we come!
Sugar and berries prior to mashing, added lemon zest and some lemon juice just to brighten things up.
I left some pretty large pieces of the berries to give the muffins some big, bold strawberry flavor.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Pea and Herb Bruschetta

As some of you may know my husband likes bikes... alas, so does my son. Now you say, how does cycling end up on a post about bruschetta. Well you see, we discovered a new book called The Feed Zone by Biju Thomas and Allen Lim. This is book is great and it is full of  healthy recipes There are tasty treats to take on long endurance events, if you're so inclined to be that crazy, and it has really easy quick dinner ideas. The recipes are refreshingly simple and uses ingredients to help satisfy athletes as well as normal folks. This pea and herb bruschetta incorporates fresh herbs as well as a ton of spinach and greens. My toddler even ate it. Amazing!!
 Let's get started. Chopped basil, peas, Parmesan cheese and a baguette. Already sounds good, right?
   I used frozen peas. Although the end result was still amazing.
Brushed slices of bread with basil oil...cuz that is how I roll. Toasted under the broiler. Veggies blanched and added to the food processor and you are now ready for a the tasty spread. A little lemon juice to brighten up the flavors and some fresh grated cheese. Almost like pesto, but healthier and I think tastier. Maybe I should go on a bike ride just so I can put about fifty of these in my face.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Basil Infused Olive Oil

Summer is full of surprises. Someone I know is actually attempting to use the potty...YES, that is happening around here. It can also be full of an abundance. Tons of fruits and veggies have been filling up our home, so I am attempting at trying to use them up. It always pains me to throw away spoiled food. Having extra basil on hand, I was inspired by Tracy to infuse some basil into olive oil. Let's just say you could put this just about anything. I promise, I will not tell if you decide you need an basil olive oil facial. 
 Lets get this going. Olive oil, basil, and garlic ready for some chopping. 
I chopped the basil and smashed the garlic cloves to attempt to keep the garlic flavor more on the mild side.
All into a saucepan to cook for a bit and then steep for a while. The longer it sets the stronger the basil flavor.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Brown Butter Peach Banana Bread

Having kids who love summer fruits always makes me buy lots of them at the Sunday framer's market...Hi Kent! Yes, that much fruit that we are now on a first name basis with the farmer. One family can only eat so many stone fruits before we turn into one, so naturally what to do with the over ripe fruit that you don't want to waste. Banana bread of course! Who says banana bread just has to have a lonely old banana or two. Brown some butter, add a peach, mix it up. Dreams really can come true!
Peaches, brown sugar, bananas....perfection.
Mom's "helper" mashing up the bananas. I use a potato masher and tend to like to have some clumps and bits of the banana in the bread for some texture. 
Peaches chopped for the bread and then sliced for the top. Try not to eat them all while you are prepping. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Citrus Marinated Olives

For some reason, lately I have been thinking about being a kid. Maybe it is due to daily reminders that pop up when I see my own children. Watching them read books that I used to love or seeing the joy on their face when Mom blows a "BIG BIG BUBBLE." So naturally when I saw this recipe for marinated olives I was reminded of my childhood and putting jumbo black olives on my fingers during  lunches at my Noni's house. There are many of pictures of my sister and I sitting in our Sunday dresses with big giant black olives on the tips of our fingers like giant black balls. We would sit and wave like we were the queen holding court, while I am pretty sure our whole family laughed and thought we were all in crazy town.
Well these olives are much more sophisticated and adult.
 Crushed coriander seeds, orange, bay leaves and chili
Olives (pitted or not) marinated with the citrus for about an hour. 
Olive oil, crushed coriander seeds, garlic cloves, bay leaves and chili just hang out for a while.
The result is a great mix of spicy, sweet and salty all in one little fancy adult bite. If you wanted to put these on your fingers heck even your nose, I am sure no one would care. They taste that good.