Happily Ever After

Hey!

Speaking of celebrations…I had the great pleasure to attend the wedding of two wonderful friends last Saturday. It was up in the wonderful wine country of Northern California and it was amazing. The bride couldn’t have been more beautiful and the party was rockin! I danced my face off all night long. The bride and groom even rocked the dance floor with props from the photo booth! You know that’s a good party!

It is absolutely impossible to drink anything out of those ridiculously cute pink and gold straws and not feel fantastic. Don’t worry, I tested the theory…a lot. ;)

Speaking of amazing, can you guys believe all those wonderful petite desserts up there?! I literally tried every one they had available! How else was I supposed to decide which one i liked best??

Such beautiful table decor!

The pink and gold theme was so elegant and ran throughout the wedding. Even on these oh-so-sweet personalized hershey’s kisses. They happened to be almond, my favorite, so I ate about a million of them…whoops!

The magical evening ended with saying au revoir to the happy couple with sparklers. I happened to make friends with the staff person handing these out and got a dozen few extra. Things were extra sparkly by me! :)

So much fun seeing two people so much in love and partying down to celebrate it!

What have you been celebrating lately?

What I Ate Wednesday – Summer Celebrations

Hey there!!!

Happy Wednesday everyone! Lately, between weddings, engagement parties, bachelorette parties, bridal showers, birthday parties…you get the idea :) I’ve had lots of reasons to celebrate! So for this week’s WIAW I’m celebrating my celebrations! :)

DUH.

At any party, my first stop is usually the cheese plate. I lu-huuve cheese. All kinds. All flavors. Gimmie it.

Chicken and waffles served alongside our tastings at a Santa Barbara winery. No better way to celebrate a bachelorette party than with good friends, good food, and good wine!

Why is it that Mexican restaurants lend themselves so wonderfully to celebrations? I swear, the last 10 birthday parties I’ve been to have been at Mexican restaurants…which is awesome because two of my all time favorite things in the world are chips & salsa and tequila. Why yes, I’ll gladly RSVP to that!

Hope you all have reasons to celebrate this week! If not, make one up!! :)

Have a great Wednesday!

 

 

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Cucumber Ginger Sparkler

Hey there! Iiiiiiiiiit’s Monday! I know I know. Monday. AND it’s the first day of school! So I dunno about you, but I could definitely use a cocktail. This is the perfect cocktail to reassure yourself that summer isn’t over quite yet.

There are all kinds of infused vodkas out there. I mean, you walk into BevMo and you can pretty much get any flavor you want! There are the regulars like vanilla, citrus, berry, and the more out there ones like blood orange and whipped cream, and everything in between. For this cocktail, you get to make your own cucumber-ginger infused vodka and let me tell you it will be way better than anything you can buy in the store!

You can make a batch of this infused vodka as big or as small as you need. The recipe is for one cocktail, but you can double, tripple, quadruple it, or more! This would be a great brunch cocktail for those guests who don’t love mimosas or Bloody Mary’s, it is definitely light and refreshing enough to drink before noon!

When you get to the bottom of this drink, make sure to snack on the vodka soaked cucumbers-they aren’t just for garnish people!!!

If you’re feeling the Monday madness like I am, give yourself something to look forward to and make one of these the second you walk in the door this evening and all your Monday worries will be washed away. I’ll be raising my glass to you around 5:02…how about you?? :)

Enjoy!

Cucumber Ginger Sparkler
Author: 
 
Serves 1
Ingredients
  • 4.5 oz vodka
  • ½ cup peeled chopped cucumber
  • 1 inch piece peeled ginger
  • peeled cucumber ribbons
  • 1 tablespoon simple syrup
  • soda water
  • ice
Instructions
  1. Use a vegetable peeler to peel several cucumber ribbons, set aside.
  2. Chop ½ cup cucumber and pack into an 8oz glass
  3. Add ginger and vodka, let stand at room temperature 20-30 minutes
  4. Strain infused vodka into a tom collins class filled halfway with ice and cucumber ribbons
  5. Add simple syrup
  6. Top with soda water
  7. Stir gently and serve

 

Raw Kale Salad with Onion and Cherries

Oh heyyyyy.

My love for kale has been well documented. But I have a dirty little secret. I totally have a love hate relationship with raw kale. I love the idea of raw kale salad, but usually when I make it or order it I’m pretty disappointed. Either it’s too bitter, or too much dressing, or too…something. Well ladies and gents, that time is over because I’ve found the perfect raw kale salad!

After many, many, MANY failed attempts at the perfect raw kale salad I’ve determined the following three things are essential:

1. Remove all the ribs from the kale (this takes out the bitterness)

2. Sweet and sour elelments are essential (lemon juice & honey in this salad)

3. You gotta give it some love (we’ll get to that later!)

I think curly kale is the best choice here, but you have to be sure to remove all the ribs from the leaves. All the bitterness of kale lives in the ribs. When you cook it, it’s no biggie, but eaten raw it can leave a bad taste in your mouth (literally!)

The next (and maybe most important) tip: You have to really get in there and massage the dressing into the kale. Kale is so hearty that it can take some work! I also think this salad works better if you make it a few hours ahead of time. I know, dressing a salad in advance?! You must think I’m crazy. But in this case, it works!

Thinly sliced red onion and dried cherries are the perfect finishing touches to this salad. A little bite from the onion and some additional sweetness from the cherries make this salad well rounded and utterly delicious!

If you’ve tried raw kale salad in the past and they haven’t been your favorite, give this one a go. I think you might change your mind!

Raw Kale Salad with Onion and Cherries
Author: 
 
Serves 4 as a side or 2 as a meal
Ingredients
  • 1 bunch kale
  • ¼ red onion, sliced thin
  • ⅓ cup dried cherries
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flake
Instructions
  1. Make the dressing: whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, honey, apple cider vinegar, salt, pepper, and red pepper flake. Set aside.
  2. Remove ribs from kale stalks. Wash leaves and tear into bite size pieces.
  3. Pour dressing over kale and use your hands to massage the dressing into the kale. Don’t be shy!
  4. Add thinly sliced red onion and dried cherries. Toss to combine.
  5. If possible, make the salad a couple hours before you are going to eat, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

 

What I Ate Wednesday – Instagram Lovin’

Hey! Happy Wednesday ya’ll!

This week for WIAW I thought I’d share some of my recent favorite photos on Instagram. Do you guys love Instagram as much as I do? I can’t get enough!

So,  I’ve told you about my problems with over buying at the farmer’s market, right? Well this is proof! I literally canceled my trip to the gym because walking back with these bags weighing me down was work out enough!

I’ve been dousing everything I can see in plum butter, but especially my homemade 4 seed bread.

Speaking of farmer’s market…

I’ve been eating, sleeping, breathing heirloom tomatoes these days. Mostly, I’ve just been sprinkling them with salt or eating them like an apple, but occasionally I’ll get a little fancy with a basil oil tomato stack. Just as delicious as it is pretty!

I’m SO excited to share this recipe with you but I’m gonna be a little bit of a tease… any guesses as to what it is?? :)

Have a great Wednesday everyone!!

Oh and don’t forget to Follow me on Instagram!

While you’re at it…

Follow me on Twitter! :) and Facebook!

 

 

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Rustic Nectarine Tart with Cornmeal Crust

Hey!

I am a sucker for nice people. Not to get all preachy on a Tuesday morning, but I just love when you interact with people who are just plain nice. It’s just not all that common, right? At least not common enough, in my book. Needless to say, I have a total soft spot for my local farmer’s market fruit producer who always remembers my name and is excited to see me on Sunday mornings. There could be a mass of people in his amazing stone fruit filled tent and he would still stop, come over and say hi, and offer me a few samples of “what’s great today.” Now, I realize, chances are, he is just a generally nice guy (I mean his grown kids work for him..he can’t be that bad!), but I like to think he has a soft spot for the fruit fanatic girl who frequents his stand every week. Are you surprised that I bought wayyyyy to many nectarines last week? My fruit bowl was overflowing with ripe nectarines that even I couldn’t eat fast enough, I decided, nectarine tart it is!

I can devour a raw nectarine like nobody’s business, but there’s something about the sweet, melty, carmely, juicy, cooked fruit that I absolutely love.

Along with the perfectly cooked nectarines, the free form cornmeal crust not only has rustic charm, but tastes pretty darn good too. And, it’s a cinch to make! Just pulse everything in your food processor until it looks crumbly and holds together when you squeeze it.

Then you get to use your creativity to form this tart however you’d like! Just make sure you pile the nectarines up high!

Speaking of piling things up…don’t hesitate to top this delicious tart off with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream!

But I gotta say, it’s not too bad straight up either :)

I think you’ll this taste of summer. Hopefully it will inspire you to be nice to someone today! It has for me!:)

Enjoy!

Rustic Nectarine Tart with Cornmeal Crust
 
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Ingredients
  • For The Crust
  • 1 cup all purpose flour, plus more for work surface
  • ¼ cup fine yellow cornmeal
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • For The Filling
  • 1½ pounds nectarines, quartered, pitted, and sliced ¼-inch thick
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg (egg wash)
Instructions
  1. Make the crust: In a food processor, pulse flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt several times to combine. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few pea-size pieces remaining. Add 2 tablespoons ice water; pulse until dough is crumbly but holds together when squeezed. (If needed, add up to 2 tablespoons more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time.) Do not overmix.
  2. Turn dough out onto a floured work surface; knead once or twice. Flatten dough into a disk; wrap it in plastic, and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
  3. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Flour a large (about 16 inches long) piece of parchment paper. Place dough on paper. Using your knuckles, press edges of dough so it doesn’t crack during rolling. Lightly flour top of dough to prevent sticking; roll out to a 14-inch round. Transfer dough (still on parchment) to prepared baking sheet.
  4. Make the filling and bake: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, toss together nectarines, sugar, and flour. Mound nectarine mixture in center of prepared crust, leaving a 2-inch border all around. Fold border over fruit in a pleated pattern. Brush dough with egg wash.
  5. Bake tart until crust is brown and filling is bubbling (see note), about 45 minutes. Transfer baking sheet to a rack; let cool 20 minutes. Slice and serve warm or at room temperature.

 

Steak and Egg Salad

Happy Monday! Hope you all had a great weekend and are having a wonderful start to your week!

Last week my husband came home from work with a surprise gift for me…farm fresh eggs. Some girls like flowers…candy… jewelry…not me, the way to my heart is through right off the farm eggs. Ok, ok, i wouldn’t say no to the flowers, candy, and jewelry either. ;)

Even thought it was nearly 7pm, I knew we had to use these eggs for dinner.

Fried eggs on salads isn’t a new thing, but I think the really specula thing about this salad is how all the flavors work so well together. The bitter arugula, the luscious egg yolk, the charred steak, and the acidic dressing all combine for a flavor bomb of a salad that is very much a main course.

The lemony, slightly sweet dressing would be great on an arugula salad alone, but when it gets mixed in with the egg yolk it creates a hollandaise-like effect that is absolutely perfect. For a meatless dish, you can easily serve this up without the steak, but if you want to convince your oh-so-carnivorous husband that this salad really will fill him up for dinner, I suggest going with the steak :)

Give this light, quick, flavorful, loo-it-is-still-summer! salad a shot for dinner tonight!

Enjoy!

Steak and Egg Salad
Author: 
 
Serves 4
Ingredients
  • 1 bag pre-washed arugula
  • ½ red onion, sliced thin
  • 4 eggs (preferably farm fresh!)
  • ¼ C extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper
  • 16 oz steak (I suggest top sirloin)
Instructions
  1. Season steak with salt and pepper
  2. Preheat a cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Add 1 tablespoon canola oil. Place steak in pan and cook undisturbed, about 4-5 minutes per side. Remove and let sit until salad is prepared.
  3. Whisk oil, honey,lemon juice, and salt & pepper. Add arugula and toss. Add red onion and toss to combine.
  4. Heat small skillet over medium high heat. Add 1 teaspoon oil. Crack egg in pan. Cook until white is set, about 1-2 minutes. Flip gently. Cook 15 seconds more for a perfect, runny, yolk.
  5. Divide arugula between plates, top with egg and steak. Serve with toast.

 

Love is in the Air!

Hey!

Hope you all are enjoying your weekend :)

I’m feeling the love today and I hope you are too! Need some help getting in a lovey-dovey mood? Check out these pics from my sister-in-law’s engagement party!

Is there anything more exciting than an engagement? I absolutely loved being engaged. There is so much excitement and build up to the big day…it’s like every day is Christmas Eve! When you are around engaged people you can’t not be excited. You are just standing there talking to them and for some reason you are totally incapable of wiping the grin off your face. It’s so great.

We had such a great time getting to know some friends and family of the bride and groom. It’s always better to be at a wedding where you know everybody right? Makes pulling Uncle John out on the dance floor a lot easier ;)

Check out those flowers! I had never seen anything like that orange-y yellow one…it felt waxy, almost like a succulent. So beautiful! I’ve been on the search for them ever since!

How cute are those silhouettes? They were all around the tables at the party. And how bout the bright and vibrant color scheme? Perfect, right? My mother in law is an amazing DIY-er. I am always so impressed because sadly, I am NOT. I wish I had a DIY bone in my body but notta one. She, on the other hand, can make homemade picture frames and cake stands and party favors like nobody’s business. It’s great to have her in the family so I can reap the benefits :) Like for example, these amazing cake pops she made for the party!

So cute. And SO good.

Speaking of good…

There was no shortage of food at the party! This is only a sampling, and everything was amazing. I mean, how can you go wrong with the mashed potato bar? I definitely went back for seconds…don’t judge, I had to try all the toppings!!

Such a fun time! And to think, it’s just the beginning of all the wedding fun!! :)


Plum Butter

Happy Friday!

I am so excited. Why? #1 It’s the weekend! #2 I’ve been itching to share this amazing plum butter with you guys!

I have this thing about wasting food. I absolutely hate doing it. So, when I came home from vacation and found these very over ripe plums in the fridge I set out finding something to do with them.

They were too soft to bake with. I thought about doing something savory, but decided against it. Then I found a recipe by Martha Stewart for Plum Butter which I altered a bit to get this creamy, fruity, perfection.

I’m sure you’ve seen them in the grocery store…all kinds of fruit butters. I love them. I use them a lot in granola. I’ve seen all kinds of flavors, apple, mango, fig…but never plum!

I also never really knew exactly what these fruit butters were. I mean, I knew they weren’t actually “butter,” but beyond that, I wasn’t sure. I was pleasantly surprised when I found out how simple this is to make!

Put simply, fruit butters are just fruit and sugar reduced down, cooked long and slow until the natural pectin in the fruit tightens it up. Slice up the plums, skin and all, and let them cook with the sugar until they start to fall apart. Then dump it all in the blender and smooth it out. Then put it back in the same pot and let to cook until it thickens.

After a few hours of cooking (yes hours! it’s worth it though!) you are left with a thick, smooth, sweet, slightly tart, delicious spread. Top off some toast, slather it on pancakes, make some granola, or eat it straight out of the jar!

This recipe is going in my “definitely-going-to-make-again” file. Hope you love it as much as I do!

Plum Butter
Author: 
 
adapted from Martha Stewart
Ingredients
  • 3½ pounds plums
  • 1¼ cups sugar
Instructions
  1. Split plums in half, remove pits, and cut into chunks. Do not peel. Place in a 6-quart nonreactive saucepan, and add 1 cup water and the sugar. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cook until fruit is very soft, about 20 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat; puree fruit and liquid in a blender or food processor.
  3. Rinse saucepan and return puree to pan. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently to prevent scorching, until thick enough to spread, 2½ to 3 hours. Remove from heat and let cool. Store in an airtight container.

 

 

What I Ate Wednesday – Summer Favorites

Hey!

Happy Wednesday! Hope you all are enjoying your week so far :) This week for WIAW I’m sharing some of my favorite summer-time things. On that note, can you believe summer is almost over? It feels like it has gone by super fast this year…but then again I think I feel that way every year!

You know what is a great way to cool down on a hot day? A delicious cucumber cocktail! I’ve been ordering them every time I find them and even tried my hand at making one at home! I’ve also been slicing cucumbers to stick in sparkling water for a not-quite-ready-for-a-cocktail refresher. :)

Cherries are just coming to the end of their season (if they haven’t already) but like the smartie pants that I am I bought millions and millions (seriously, ask my husband-at one point he asked if we were stalking up for the apocalypse!) of cherries at peak season when prices were great and pitted and froze them. <—THAT was a tough job! But totally worth it because I still have loads of cherries at my beckon call. Which is just how I like it.

As much as I love a cool cucumber cocktail on these hot days, something in me has also been really craving this seafood in spicy tomato broth. So I made it. Twice. In one week.

What???

Last but no least…tomatoes!!! I’ve been eating them in all shapes and sizes any way I can get them. I can’t get enough. And looking at all the green tomatoes I have in my garden, it doesn’t look like I’ll have to stop anytime soon!

Happy Wednesday!

 

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Pan Seared Salmon with Garlic Basil Oil

Oh hey there!

I’ve told you guy before, one of my favorite kitchen challenges is trying to make meals that you can imagine jumped right off a restaurant menu. I think you could order this pan seared salmon off of any menu and be very happy with your choice!

The beauty of this dish is in using good quality ingredients and letting them shine. Garden fresh basil, good extra virgin olive oil, and fresh, wild salmon.

Mmmmm I love salmon. I could eat it every day. Plus, who doesn’t need more omega-3′s in their life??? My Aunt Kathy and Uncle Jack live in Alaska and fish for salmon all the time. Sometimes, when we’re really lucky, they bring some with them when they come to visit. It is the best. Enough to make a sun loving California girl consider moving up to the Last Frontier…buuut I think I’ll just stick to visits from Aunt Kathy and Uncle Jack! It’s not quite the same, but these days, you can find really good wild salmon at most grocery stores. Even though it is a bit pricier, I would encourage you to give it a try. Once you do, you won’t go back!

There are millions of ways to cook salmon, but for this recipe, I think pan searing is perfect. You want to get the pan super hot before pouring in some oil and placing down the salmon. This will get you a nice crispy crust on the salmon which is the perfect bed for the garlic basil oil to be drizzled on.

Speaking of the garlic basil oil…

It is literally just like it sounds! Garlic, basil, evoo. If you have the time, make it a few hours before you are going to serve it because as it sits the flavors really sink in and it just gets that much better.

Restaurant quality food at home, and all in under 20 minutes! Sounds pretty darn good to me! How ’bout you?? :)

Enjoy!

Pan Seared Salmon with Garlic Basil Oil
Author: 
 
Serves 2
Ingredients
  • 2 4-8 oz salmon fillets
  • 1½ cups loosely packed basil leaves
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • ⅓ cup good extra virgin olive oil + 1 tablespoon
  • salt & pepper
Instructions
  1. To make the garlic basil oil: In a blender combine garlic, basil, evoo, and ½ teaspoon each salt & pepper. Blend until smooth. Set aside until ready to use.
  2. For the salmon: Heat a medium skillet over medium high heat for about five minutes. Add 1 tablespoon evoo and let heat 30-60 seconds. Season salmon fillets with salt and pepper and place in hot pan (you should hear a loud sizzle here!). Cook 4-5 minutes per side, until crispy crust forms and flesh is opaque.
  3. Remove salmon from pan and drizzle with garlic basil oil.

 

Fresh Kiwi Popsicles

Hey!

Are you feeling the heat? Me too! I’ve been spending lots of time outside lately, you gotta take advantage of summer while it’s here! So I’ve been thinking of ways to beat the heat. When I’m not spraying myself down with the garen hose or parking my butt in front of my high powered fan, I’m eating these popsicles!

When I was a kid, my mom would let us make our own popsicles in ice cube trays. It was one of our favorite summer activities! We’d mix up the liquid, fill the ice cube trays, cover with plastic wrap, and stick in toothpicks. Then, sit IMpatiently staring at the freezer waiting till they were done. My siblings and I would usually go with a Kool-Aid/fruit juice combo. OR, we’d mix a few flavors of Kool-Aid together, that’s when things would get really crazy! Even though these popsicles are a teensy bit more grown up, it’s basically the same process.

That reminds me, I am totally putting Kool-Aid on my grocery list.

These popsicles are a cinch to make, and are packed with summertime flavor. Just puree the kiwi and mix with some simple syrup.

If you want to, you can use those fancy popsicle molds you can get at the kitchen store. But in my book, an ice cupe tray and some tooth picks work just fine thank you.

Just pull the plastic wrap tight over the tray and poke the toothpick through.

I like using ice cube trays because: they only take a few hours to freeze, they are so small you can eat at least three without feeling remotely bad about it, and you kinda feel like a giant eating a tiny popsicle. :)

I love the seeds in the mix. When you start to eat the popsicle you’ll keep getting the tiny crunchy bits of seeds. It’s great. Just make sure you have a good friend around that will tell you when you have something stuck in your teeth cuz one of these guys is bound to sneak in somewhere!

Try these kiwi popsicles for some help beating the heat!

Now, about that Kool-Aid… ;)

Enjoy!

Fresh Kiwi Popsicles
Author: 
 
Makes 1 ice cube try full
Ingredients
  • 3 cups kiwi puree (from about 8-10 kiwis)
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • ⅓ cup water
  • ice cube tray
  • plastic wrap
  • toothpicks
Instructions
  1. In a small sauce pan, combine sugar and water, bring to a boil then reduce heat and let simmer 10 minutes
  2. Pour simple syrup into a heat safe container and let cool 15 minutes
  3. Peel kiwis and puree in a blender or food processor, pour mixture into a medium bowl
  4. Stir in simple syrup
  5. Pour carefully into the ice cube try
  6. Cover tightly with plastic wrap
  7. Poke toothpicks through plastic wrap
  8. Freeze until solid (2-3 hours, or longer)

 

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