Tuesday, July 28, 2015

green beans with smashed tomato vinaigrette

i love summer and i love summer meals. simple and usually taking place at the park. 
recently i was desperate to find a salad to add to my standard picnic fare (read: cheese, 
crackers, meets, nuts, blueberries, wine). i knew i needed to find something that transports 
easily and can be eaten cold or at room temp. this recipe was the perfect find.

the green beans definitely feel like a bit of a throwback - to those soft canned green beans i used to eat as a child. but there is something delicious about the beans, with a homemade smashed tomato dressing (which, by the way, would be great on any salad!) simple and a great addition to any picnic. 

(it shouldn't surprise you that i substituted basil for the mint, but i'm sure either would be delicious.)


recipe via date night in

ingredients
3/4 pound green beans, trimmed
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup low-sodium chicken or veggie stock

vinaigrette ingredients
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoon chopped fresh mint or basil
1 scallion, thinly sliced (white and green parts)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
flake salt, for finishing

directions

1. combine green beans, olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper, 
and stock in large skillet over medium-high heat. bring mixture to a boil and then 
reduce to a simmer. cover and cook for 30 minutes, or until soft.

2. uncover and cook for 10 more minutes, over medium-low heat, 
stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced and coats beans.

3. meanwhile, in a medium bowl, add the tomatoes and squish them between your fingers
inside the bowl, or mash with a wooden spoon (being careful not to make a huge mess). 
the juice will help create the vinaigrette while they still remain in large pieces. 

4. whisk in the red wine vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, fresh herbs, and scallions. 
i placed my dressing in the fridge while my beans were still simmering.

5. toss the warm or room-temp green beans with the vinaigrette. 
can be served cold or at room temp. top with salt and pepper as desired.
















ignore the tupperware.
i was planning this for a picnic at the park!





Monday, July 27, 2015

monday morning mashup


1. cheat sheet for how long will your produce last
2. beautiful veggie tray tips and inspiration
3. great news if you love j.crew!
5. this has to be the most adorable camera on the market
6. tips for a well styled desk
10. a little bit embarrassed i've had this song playing on repeat

Friday, July 24, 2015

homemade lemonade

lemonade kind of reminds me of granolachex mix, and cookies
how you ask?? homemade is always better. and once you move 
to the homemade version, you'll never want to go back!

homemade lemonade is where it's at. and the perfect lemonade (to me) is one that's 
refreshing, just barely sweet enough, and keeps the original bitterness of the lemon juice intact.
i love making a big pitcher of this and drinking it all week long.

this is money. have some this weekend!


personally, i hate drinking caloric beverages, so i make this lemonade with splenda 
(producing an almost calorie free beverage). if splenda isn't your thing - you can follow the exact same recipe with real sugar. more calories, but still amazing. i've had both and can vouch for both.

modified slightly from the food network

ingredients
2 cups sugar OR splenda
2 cups water
1 gallon cold water
2 cups fresh squeezed lemon juice
roughly 16 lemons, but definitely grab more just in case
1-2 extra lemons sliced for garnish

directions

1. make simple syrup by bring 2 cups water and 2 cups sugar to a boil over low heat.
stir until the sugar dissolves. remove from heat and set aside to cool.

note: if you are using splenda, no need to make the simple syrup over the stove.
you'll just be able to stir your splenda into warm water and stir. super easy.

2. in a large pitcher, combine a gallon of cold water and lemon juice.
add lemon slices and simple syrup to taste.

first, every single lemon is totally different - some super juicy and some that seem to have 
like 6 drops of lemon juice. just grab a bunch of lemons and you should be good. (hello costco!)

also, i kept stirring in my simple syrup until i loved the taste of my lemonade. 
this recipe is close to perfect for me, but just keep adding until it tastes just right!

3. stir well. and serve over ice!




Thursday, July 23, 2015

summer reading list

just a little round up my favorite book picks this summer... 
there is something for everybody on this list!

what are you guys reading??



if you love food, especially food in seattle, this is a must read. 'delancey: a man, a woman, a restaurant, a marriage' is a quick read about a couple on their journey to open a pizza restaurant in the seattle area. their journey in dreaming up the concept, perfecting the dough, and finally opening a restaurant were fascinating. it's a combination of food writing meets autobiography, sprinkled with recipes at the end of the chapters. bonus: if you're a foodie in seattle you'll pick up on lots of references to other local favorites... rachel's ginger beer, boat street cafe, etc. even if you're not going to read the book, you should definitely eat at the restaurant. my friends make fun of me because i suggest we go here every other weekend! this is maybe my favorite book i've read all year.



truth be told, i started this book last summer, and just picked it back up to finish. it's a collection of short stories and clips of julia's child's life in france. julia is a legend, and reading the story of how someone like her only learned to cook in her thirties is just inspiring! it reads like an autobiography, recounting the beautiful streets of paris, lessons from cooking school, and disasters in the kitchen. i get lost in the pages, and love that it marries my love of both travel and cooking together. a book for dreamers, those who want to be inspired, and those of us who somehow think it's too late in life to follow a dream we have!



love love loved this book. two years ago my family took a trip to italy. i'm almost positive every family member was either reading this book or had just finished it. i was a little late to the party, but purchased it at the airport on my way home and was almost finished by the time i arrived in seattle. it's a beautiful and captivating story that takes place along the coast of italy, with characters that were just as charming. it's hollywood tabloid meets love story meets gossip column, but with glitz and class in the 1960s. without giving too much away, i'll just say you should put this on your list.



i'm not really a laugh out loud type of person. i mean... i laugh a lot, but only when something is really funny. most of the time, i'll just say out loud 'oh, that's so funny' (with no laugh included). that's when you know i only think it's so-so funny. this is maybe the only book i've ever read that was really truly laugh out loud funny. like, hilarious. just have never read anything that rang so true, and i could picture so easily. if you love things that are humorous and/or outrageous - this book is for you.
bonus: it also has quite a few seattle area references.



a fascinating read on the science behind introverts. 'Quiet' reads like a business meets science book (think Tipping Point). the book starts out with a quick questionnaire to determine if you're an introvert or an extrovert (if you aren't already sure). it then launches into the science of the personality traits, the misconceptions associated with them, as well as intriguing comparisons between the two. it talks about the modern day personality ideal and how to harness the power of your personality type. as someone who hovers right on the border between being introverted and extroverted, i can see you loving this book no matter which side of the fence you're on. 



most business books profile smart, successful people on the strait and narrow that find success easily in the business world. the people who were smart, studied hard, were well-behaved, and were easily admitted to harvard. this book is a business book for the people who have, are or will take the road-less traveled. sophia amoruso, self-admittedly, did everything wrong. she got terrible grades, shop-lifted through high school, lived out of her car, and then one day, fell into selling vintage clothing on eBay. long story short, her company, Nasty Gal, is now a $100 million fashion retail powerhouse. this book is a quick read, and definitely isn't a heavy hitter, BUT it tells an incredible story of a girl who made something of herself in the most unconventional way. sophia not only tells her story, but encourages the reader to become her own #girlboss. (warning: some foul language)

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

salted peanut butter brownies

hands down this is the nicest summer the pacific northwest has ever seen. never do i remember it being HOT at 10am, or being able to stay out past 9pm without a light jacket. past summers were bearable with no AC - hitting temps that only made my apartment unbearable about three days each summer. this summer has broken record after record for heat and sunshine in seattle. ridiculous. ridiculously amazing. i'm having a blast soaking it all in.

my only complaints are some challenges i've had baking in the kitchen. not only was the indoor temp at my house registering 90 degrees this past weekend, but add an afternoon of cooking and baking and i started wondering if it was possible for a person to melt!

needless to say, it probably wasn't the best day to bake my favorite brownies. but hello! when you're craving peanut butter + chocolate, i'm convinced there isn't a better combination than these brownies.

they are so incredibly decadent. rich and thick and gooey. 
you only need a small bite to satisfy the largest sweet tooth.

best brownie recipe around.


recipe from date night in

brownie ingredients
3/4 cup unsalted butter, plus more for pan
3oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 eggs
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder (optional)
i don't think i've ever included this in these brownies. fyi.
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup flour

frosting ingredients
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temp
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1/3 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon flake salt

directions

1. preheat oven to 325 degrees.

2. grease 8 inch square pan. line the pan with parchment paper so that 
a couple of inches hang over the edge. then, grease the parchment paper.

i've made this recipe multiple times, and trust me, these brownies are so gooey you'll definitely be glad you greased AND used the parchment paper. not doing so just makes for a huge mess!

also, i think i used my 9 inch square pan this time, 
but an 8 inch would produce a slightly thicker brownie.

3. place the butter in a medium saucepan and melt over medium-high heat. 
allow the butter to cook until the milk solids bubble up and settle into the pan and caramelize. 
swirl the butter in the pan in order to see the color of the little bits on the bottom. as soon as 
the milk solids are folder and the butter smells nutty, 2-5 minutes, remove the pan from heat.

4. pour the browned butter into a medium bowl and add the hopped chocolate. 
let stand for 1 minute to melt and then whisk together.

5. whisk in the sugar and vanilla while the butter mixture is still warm. 
stir in the eggs, salt and espresso powder, if using, until well blended.

6. over the bowl with the chocolate mixture, sift cocoa powder and flour. 
fold the ingredients together until just combined using a spatula.

note: i've sifted my cocoa and flour 75% of the time i've made the recipe, 
and then sometimes i'm too lazy and skip this part all together. cocoa does clump easily, 
so if you're going to be lazy, just be sure no large clumps get in your brownies. 
i don't think there is a noticeable different in the outcome of the brownies.

7. pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until 
a toothpick inserted in the middle pulls out clean. let cool to room temp.

8. now for the frosting... with an electric mixer, whip together butter, peanut butter, 
and confectioners' sugar in a large bowl. continue to mix until everything is 
well combined and the frosting has lightened in color.

9. frost the cooled brownies and finish with the flake salt.

if the brownies are too fudgy, feel free to pop them in the fridge for a while.
this was necessary on my 90 degree day!


my selection of cocoa powder














Tuesday, July 21, 2015

spiced watermelon wedges

i love good ideas. i love innovative solutions to problems i see in the world, big and small.
i love watching shows like shark tank, where people come up with the craziest concepts 
and make them become a reality. i also love finding, seeing and experiencing new things - 
and then wondering - why didn't i think of this??? am i the only one?

when i saw a recipe for a savory slice of watermelon, i stopped in my tracks.
either it was the worst idea ever, or one of those 'wait, why didn't i think of that???'

before you read any further - let me just tell you. it's definitely the latter. 
these were incredible. definitely different than biting into your classic slice of watermelon - 
 but so incredible refreshing - and savory!!! honestly, i thought these were genius.

so simple. such a crowd-pleaser. and immediately upgrades a super simple snack 
to be side-dish worthy. you have to try these. there are probably endless ways 
to vary this recipe, but i was pretty obsessed with this Mexican flavor profile. 


recipe via cooking light

serves 4

be sure to adjust this recipe to the size of your watermelon. i bought a smaller, 
personal size watermelon and had plenty of spice mix based on the below recipe.

ingredients
1 1/2 tablespoon grated lime rind
1/2 teaspoon chile powder
1/2 teaspoon ground coupon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
4 watermelon wedges
or however many your heart desires
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

directions

1. preheat oven to 200 degrees

2. spread lime rind on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes until slightly dried.

3. combine dried rind, chile powder, cumin, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.

4. arrange watermelon wedges on a platter, drizzle with oil 
and sprinkle evenly with spice mixture and cilantro (if using).

note - the drizzle of olive oil was delicious but not necessary. 
i ate my first plate of wedges with olive oil, and then finished the rest of my watermelon 
(don't judge me) sans olive oil - just sprinkling the spice mix strait on. 

also - i skipped the cilantro, but kept it in the recipe above for those of you who love it!














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