What I Ate (on my birthday!)

Happy Wednesday!

I’ve had a great week of vacation up at my parent’s house in Washington. We’ve been laying by the pool, eating great food, playing bocce ball, and just generally having a great time! I’m sad to go back to a life of not having my mom wait on me ;) but I was so lucky to spend my birthday here! It was the first birthday I’ve spent at home in a while and it was awesome to be with my family and celebrate. My day started out with a gift from my mom-the above Happy Birthday glass! I drank out of it and nothing else all day :)

When I woke up the party was already ready to start! Notice the bug centerpiece? I think that is from my little brother’s 7th birthday…he’s now 21…it’s practically an heirloom! I also wore the party hat all morning. It’s only your birthday once a year people.

Working, even on my birthday…notice the party hat. :)

Birthday breakfasts are somewhat of a “thing” in my house. Growing up my mom would always make us whatever we wanted for our birthday breakfast. It was always the best way to start the day! Every birthday of my entire life (ok that I can remember) I requested waffles with strawberries and whipped cream. It is my favorite breakfast…ever. I would eat it every day if I had the time…or if my mom lived with me. :)

After breakfast we went outside for pool time and games. This was lunch…

Pretty perfect right? I know, I’m super lucky.

Then cocktail hour rolled around…

My mom made Pisco Sours. Y.U.M. One time when she came down to visit me in San Francisco we had Pisco Sours at La Mar. If you are ever in SF it is a must. The restaurant is right on the water and has some incredibly amazing seafood…not to mention cocktails. Their speciality is the Pisco Sour-it was the first we’d ever had and we were hooked. Of course, my mom got the recipe from the bartender and now we can have them whenever we want!

Dinner was shrimp fajitas. Guac. Homemade salsa. Corn on the Cob. All fantastic, but not as fantastic as spending your birthday with the people you love. Here’s to many more birthdays spent that way :)

Have a great Wednesday!

 

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Zucchini, Ricotta, and Caramelized Onion Quiche

Hey!

How’s it going? Hope you are all enjoying your weekend!

Speaking of…you know what one of my favorite things about weekends is? Brunch! I LOVE brunch. I mean, think about it, there are so many great things that go along with brunch: you get to sleep later, you get to have sweet and savory foods (think waffles and smoked salmon bagels), it is usually expected encouraged to eat way more than any human needs at one meal, and last but certainly not least, you get to drink…with breakfast! Brunch is where it is at.

And this zucchini, ricotta, and caramelized onion quiche is a perfect addition to your brunch menu. It is full of summery zucchini flavors, so rich and creamy from the homemade ricotta (you can use store bought, but why?!), and a perfect hint of earthy sweetness from the onions.

Quiche is one of my favorite brunch items because it is easy to make and you can feed a crowd without having to stand over a stove the whole time while every one else enjoys all the brunch goodness (i.e. mimosas). Have you ever tried to cook eggs to order for a group of hungry brunch goers?? I’m pretty sure that’s where they got the idea for the hunger games.

Also, who doesn’t love pie crust?! Have you ever been caught digging into a pie dish under the filling just to get pieces of crust? No? Just me? Crap.

Anyway, the crispy, buttery crust is the perfect vehicle for all the summer veggie goodness. You can definitely make your own crust, but I think refrigerated pie crust is fine. Plus, more time for mimosas!

The trick to this quiche is to sauté the zucchini before hand. Yes, it is one extra step but not only does it add more flavor to the zucchini, but the extra cooking causes the zucchini to melt into the eggs and cheese in a deliciously creamy way. Then you layer up your ingredients. Zucchini, cheese, onion, zucchini, cheese, onion zucchini…you get the idea.

When I make quiche I like to leave the veggies I put in in pretty big slices, chunks, etc. So that people can see them when they cut into their slice. Plus, it makes it pretty :)

Try this out for your next brunch – I think you’ll love it as much as I do!

Don’t forget to try making your own ricotta!

Enjoy!

Zucchini, Ricotta, and Caramelized Onion Quiche
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 2 medium zucchinis, sliced

Fig and Melon Salad

Happy Friday!

I’ve been spending my days soaking up the sun, splashing in the pool, and generally trying not to wear anything but my swimsuit all day – rough life, I know! What do I want after a long day in the sun? A fresh, light, COLD, salad. This one will hit the spot.

My own version of this salad came from a fantastic dinner at The Wayfare Tavern in San Francisco. Michael and I went out for date night and had an amazing dinner. The first thing that caught my eye (besides the rhubarb and whiskey cocktail!) was the Fig and Melon Salad. I don’t know about you, but there are certain things on a menu that ALWAYS peak my interest. As I scan a new menu for the first time I am always looking for some “key words.” You know, those certain foods that make you want to order a dish no matter what else in involved. For me, one of those key words is FIG.

I just love these tiny pouches of heaven. I can eat them by the bushel. Or in a delicious salad…with crisp, fresh, juicy melon.

The original salad at Wayfare Tavern included pork belly croutons. Let me just give you a minute to let that sink in…Pork. Belly. Croutons. They were every bit as good as they sound. But pork belly croutons are really a “going out for a nice dinner once in a while” type thing. So, for my version I added some salty blue cheese and topped it with this honey vinaigrette. It might not be quiiiite as special as crispy chunks of pork, but it is still pretty darn good!

Sweet, juicy figs. Crisp, cool melon. Salty, creamy cheese. Tart honey vinaigrette. Lots of hearty salad greens. To me, that says summer salad symphony. Try it out and I think you’ll agree!

Enjoy!

Fig and Melon Salad
Author: 
Recipe type: Salad
 
Serves 2
Ingredients
  • 6-8 cups mixed greens (about 1 bag)
  • 4 figs, quartered
  • 2 cups honeydew melon,peeled and cubed
  • ¼ cup blue cheese
  • Honey Vinaigrette (see link for recipe)
Instructions
  1. Spread greens on a salad plate
  2. Top with quartered figs and cubed melon
  3. Sprinkle with blue cheese
  4. Drizzle with honey vinaigrette

 

 

 

What I Ate Wednesday – Home Sweet Home

Hey!!!

You guys- this is a great Wednesday. Why? Because I am home!! Yipee! Today I arrived for a week long vacation at home. This means a few awesome things…spending time with my parents, countless hours by the pool, no work, relaxation, cocktails in lawn chairs, fresh raspberries off the bush by the dozen, and my mom’s awesome cooking. In short, it’s gonna be a great week.

My early morning started off with some work at the Southwest terminal, 2 zucchini breakfast cookies, and a grande americano. Definitely needed the coffee. Do you guys sleep horribly the night before a trip? I always do. Maybe it’s the excitement. Maybe it is the impending nervousness that accompanies every flight I take…either way…I needed the coffee! :)

Less than an hour after I landed in Spokane this is what I was doing…

Rough life, I know. My parents have the most bountiful raspberry bushes I’ve ever seen and this is the perfect time of year. I’m pretty sure I’ve already eaten about $10o worth if you bought them in the store and I haven’t even been here 24 hours. So. Awesome.

I also came home to this:

Millions and millions of jars of homemade jam! My mouth was watering as soon as I saw all this strawberry and raspberry goodness. I will definitely be stuffing several of these in my suitcase on the way home!

For dinner we had delicious shrimp, veggie, and fresh garden potato skewers. Yum. By the way, isn’t my dad a dork?! In the most awesome way possible. Love him! Oh and we also had a perfect gardent tomato salad with basil and feta. Delish.

After dinner I stuffed myself full of several more pounds of fresh raspberries, BUT THEN my mom made fresh biscuits and topped them with fresh fruit compote and ever more fresh raspberries. Why no picture you ask? Well I’m pretty sure I set some kind of world record for speed eating on that one, sorry guys.

It’s so great to be home!

Happy Wednesday!

 

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Caprese Skewers with Black Pepper Balsamic Reduction

Hey! Have I got the perfect bite of summer for you! I made these skewers for my friend Jenn’s bridal shower. I was struggling to come up with a salad-ish thing that would go well with the brunch menu I was planning, so I was standing in my kitchen spinning in circles as I normally do when looking for inspiration and glanced outside at my overgrown basil plant and my just turning cherry tomatoes and *bing!* I had it!

But since it was for a bridal shower I wanted to make it special. Enter black pepper balsamic drizzle. Yowza. Talk about special! You reduce the balsamic vinegar with whole black peppercorns so you don’t get tons of heat in the finished product, but just enough to tone down the sweetness of the reduced balsamic.

Reduce the vinegar by half and you end up with a thick drizzle, almost like a syrupy texture. You just might be tempted to lick it off the spoon. And let me tell you you won’t be disappointed if you do! Just let it cool first! :)

Simple recipes like this are the best. Just make sure you get the best ingredients you can. When there are only a few simple parts to a dish the tomatoes have to be sweet and juicy or the whole thing falls apart. I used fresh mozzarella (the kind that comes stored in liquid and also melts in your mouth) which I suggest over the harder block version <—-perfect for pizza!

I have to say these were a hit at the shower! It is a fun way to present a salad and the balsamic reduction adds so much depth to the dish. It really did make it special. Although I guess that could have been the blushing bride and the pitchers of sangria! I’ll say  it was both :)

Enjoy!

Caprese Skewers with Black Pepper Balsamic Reduction
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1 bunch basil leaves
  • 8-10 oz fresh mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • kosher salt
  • 10 skewers
Instructions
  1. In a small saucepan, combine balsamic vinegar and peppercorns
  2. Bring the balsamic vinegar to a boil over medium heat
  3. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until reduced by half, about 7-12 minutes
  4. Move to a heat safe container and let cool (can be made the night before)
  5. Skewer tomates, basil, and mozzarella in whatever pattern you like!
  6. Right before serving drizzle on balsamic vinegar reduction and sprinkle with kosher salt

 

 

Spicy Tofu Sandwich

Cheers to Friday everyone!

I am super into tofu right now. It it totally the culinary equivalent of this season’s rainbow colored jeans in my kitchen. And this sandwich is my reserved for special occasion Saturday night happy hours with the girls hot pink skinnies!

This tofu sandwich is not only packed with tons of flavor due to a delicious spice rub…

but you also get double the flavor by grilling the tofu for the sandwiches!

The rub is earthy and spicy. You toast the spices whole and grind them yourself to pull out as much flavor as you can.

Then, marinating the tofu for several hours really lets everything sink in.

This sandwich isn’t one of those “trick you into thinking it’s meat” tofu dishes – but that’s OK! It has a flavor all its own. And it’s definitely big flavor. Oh – and if you want to kick it up even another notch? Mix 1 cup of Greek Yogurt with 2 tablespoons of the marinade and use it as a spread for the bun!

Pile the tofu up high and then load it up with greens, tomato, onion, and pickles, or whatever your heart desires! This is a light, fun, summery dinner that I think you are going to love!

Enjoy!

Recipe via Food & Wine. See it here!

 

What I Ate Wednesday – Gimmie somea that!

Hey there! Welcome to another Wednesday. It’s all downhill from here…in a good way!

On that note…Let’s launch right in to WIAW!

I’ve been packing myself full of summer fruits and veggies (as well as cappuccinos and papaya salads :) )

You know what goes really, really well with summer fruit?

FRO YO!

Don’t forget the gummy bears and jelly beans! Listen, I love to be healthy/eat healthy/live healthy, but frozen yogurt is my true pleasure. Not guilty pleasure. I don’t feel one smidge guilty about getting my fro yo fix. So what if I tell myself I’m doing something good by giving myself some calcium? Maybe I trick myself into thinking that fro yo dipped fruit is actually healthier for you than regular? When I have that cup of watermelon tart, mango, and blueberry frozen yogurt with blackberries, mango, lychees, gummy bears, and jelly beans in my hand – I.AM.HAPPY.

Other things that make me happy? Gigantic Turkey legs on an open flame!

Last weekend my sister and I went to the Art and Wine festival in Los Altos, Ca. It should have been called the Art, Wine, & FOOD festival! The food was amazing! We ate BBQ, Indian Food, and some of the best tamales I’ve ever had. But the thing that blew them all away? Check out these turkey legs! You could smell them a mile away.

Oh and don’t worry, we didn’t forget the wine!

Happy Wednesday Everyone!

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Homemade Ricotta Cheese

You guys. I have been on the edge of my seat waiting to share this recipe with you. I kept meaning to get to it but other things kept getting in the way. But now…it’s time. And let me tell you, it will be worth the wait!

I have been wanting to make cheese ever since I found out how easy it was to make at home. Seriously, all you need is 4 ingredients, cheesecloth, and a strainer!

And let me tell you, after making this ricotta at home I will never buy it again! It is so rich and creamy and has tons more tangy flavor than any store bought ricotta I’ve ever tried. Plus, you can not only control the thickness of the ricotta by the amount of time you leave it in the cheesecloth, but you can also control the calories and fat by your choice of milk. Now, most recipes call for whole milk to which I say, “No Way!” Ok, ok, I will admit that had I made this with whole milk it would have been delicious, but let me just say I made it with 2% and it was UH-maze-ing! I’m trying it with 1% next, just to see. I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t work very well with non-fat, but knowing me I’ll probably try it out.

This process is also SO.MUCH.FUN. There is just something about making things by hand that you usually have to buy in the store. I felt so great checking my cheesecloth, simmering my milk, testing my cheese.

And the eating. Oh, the eating.

I served mine up with a fresh loaf of this and a hefty drizzle of this. This ricotta is so fluffy, velvety, and rich I was literally eating it with a spoon. But then I put it on toast. Ut oh. I had guest over when I served this as an appetizer and I was the worst host ever. I set down the tray right in front of myself. I don’t think I said a word for 20 minutes as I stuffed my face full of ricotta slathered toasts. Sorry Auntie and Uncle, the ricotta has priority here. (p.s. that’s why you have family over, they can’t judge you for stuff like that!)

Try this out immediately, it will be a new favorite for sure!

Enjoy!

5.0 from 1 reviews

Homemade Ricotta Cheese
Author: 
 
Recipe adapted from Ina Garten
Ingredients
  • 4 cups milk (I used 2%, but whole works too)
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • Cheesecloth
Instructions
  1. Line a colander with 2 layers of dampened cheesecloth
  2. Place milk, cream, and salt in a large pot or dutch oven
  3. Bring to a boil over medium heat (make sure to stir a few times)
  4. Add vinegar and let stand about 2 minutes
  5. Strain through cheesecloth and let stand 15-30 minutes (the longer you let it sit, the thicker the cheese will be)
  6. Transfer to an airtight bowl-ricotta will keep in the fridge for up to a week.

 

 

Bridal Shower Fun

Happy Monday!

This weekend I was privledged to host a bridal shower for my wonderful friend Jenn. We had a wonderful day sitting outside in the sun, drinking lots (and lots!) of white sangria, catching up with friends, making new ones, and celebrating the beautiful bride-to-be!

I had so much fun planning the menu for the party. These caprese skewers with black pepper balsamic reduction were a hit! I think I had about 7 :) Gotta get your veggies in somehow right?!

When hosting a party, I definitely try to accept offers for help! My wonderful friend Kristi not only brought berries and veggies to the party, but also left me these awesome square bowls as a gift. Score! Also, Kristi took all these photos-thanks girl!

Summer is the best. Instead of getting flowers from a florist I clipped these beauties straight from my backyard garden. They smelled amazing too!

These Black & White cookies were the perfect favor. Thank goodness I put them into bags early because I ate every single one that was left out! I’ll be sharing the recipe for these soon…and guess what? They are low fat! (seriously!)

Many many congrats to Jenn and Travis. So happy to be starting the celebrations for these two crazy kids! :)

 

Strawberry Almond Cakies

Happy Friday!

I could barely contain myself with this recipe. IT. IS. AMAZING. I hope your schedule is cleared so you can make these immediately. Cancel, the dinner plans, put your shows on tivo, tell your friends if they want to see you they have to come over…it will be worth it.

I have been eating strawberries like crazy. In fact, even though I had an entire 1/2 flat in my fridge, I couldn’t resist a few more baskets when I saw how gorgeous they looked at the farmer’s market.

You couldn’t say no to these guys either, right?!? Soooo, because I had so many even I (the strawberry monster apparently) couldn’t eat them all so fast, I came up with these cakies.

What’s a cakie you ask?? Well, half cake, half cookie. These are cakes in a cookies clothing. They have the texture of a light fluffy cake in the perfectly snack-able form of a cookie. The absolute best of both worlds!

Another great thing? These cakies are packed with fruit and almonds, making it perfectly acceptable to eat them for breakfast….riiight?? :)

As they bake the strawberries get all roasty and start oozing out of the cakies. It starts to smell pretty amazing in your kitchen right about then. In addition to the almonds in the batter, I sprinkled some on top before baking. They get brown, toasty, and extra nutty as the cakies bake and make for a perfect crunch to contrast the light fluffy texture of the finished product.

Yum. Good thing I have so many strawberries. I might have to make another batch. Right. Now.

Have a wonderful, fruit filled weekend!!

Enjoy!

Strawberry Almond Cakies
Recipe type: Tara
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • about ½ cups chopped strawberries
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup slivered almonds plus ¼ cup for topping
  • 2 eggs
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 375.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, lemon zest, baking powder, and salt together.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar together. Add the eggs, one by one, until thoroughly combined. Add the milk and blend.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir.
  5. Add strawberries and almonds, stir gently to combine.
  6. Scoop ¼ cup amount of batter onto a lined baking sheet, about 3 inches apart.
  7. Top with additional slivered almonds.
  8. Bake cakies for 20-25 minutes, until golden.
  9. Let cool on the sheet pan then move to a wire rack.

 

What I Ate Wednesday – Summer Snacking

Happy Wednesday!

 

I don’t know about you, but I always fin myself snacking lots in summer. I don’t know if it is the fact that I have more time, tend to eat dinner later, or just the fact that there are so many snack-able foods around! Because I am a snack machine this time of year, I usually try to stick to healthier options and for me, that usually means lots and lots of fruit!

As I’ve said before, fruit is my favorite food…by far. I am fairly certain I could live on an entirely fruit diet. Well, fruit and bread. Throw some cheese in too. Oh and wine have to have wine. Maybe a cheeseburger now and then… Ok, ok, maybe not an entirely fruit diet after all. :)

Another thing I’ve been loving to snack on lately?

Trader Joe’s Baked Lentil Chips and Egg White Salad. You guys, if you haven’t tried this, drop everything and run to your nearest TJ’s. Go. You can read the rest when you get back…

 

 

Ok, now that you have it in front of you you know I’m not lying. It is awesome. And at only 50 calories per serving (for the salad) it is most definitely a sensible snack!

So, even though I’ve been doing sweet, ripe, raw fruit like it’s my job, I’ve been using it in other ways too…

Strawberry Almond Cakies. This little babies will be coming up on the blog soon. You can practically smelling them huh?? :)

Happy Wednesday!

 

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Chimichurri

Hey there!

We’ve been grilling fools lately. We should really just keep the charcoal going round the clock so the ol’ Weber can be ready at a moment’s notice. Grilling is just my all time favorite method of cooking. Period. Especially in summer when you can stand outside, it’s still warm, and preferably you have one of these in your hand, while the smell of charcoal and cooked meat fills the air. Perfection.

Have you been grilling too? Need something to spice up your latest grilled offering? Hurry up and make this chimichurri.

All these blended herbs are so fresh they can brighten up nearly anything you can throw on the grill. I’ve dunked tri trip in it, drizzled it over grilled zucchini, slathered it on chicken, and soaked some crusty bread in this delicious green goodness.

It just keeps getting better. Everything I’ve tried it on works. Next up I want to grill some fish and dollop some chimichurri. If it’s half as good as it sounds in my head it will be a winner. You can also make a big batch and it keeps in the fridge really well. Not only that, but as it sits the flavors meld even further and things get really great.

Try this the next time you fire up your grill, I will be!

 

Enjoy!

Chimichurri
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 2 bunches flat leaf parsley
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1 whole jalapeño (stem removed)
  • 1 small yellow onion (or ½ a large one)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
Instructions
  1. Throw all ingredients into a blender
  2. Blend until smooth
  3. Use immediately or cover and refrigerate up to a week

 

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