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Monday, June 30, 2014

Migas con Nopales

Migas con Nopales
My foodie bff Leslie and I are squeaking in on the last day of June to bring you another edition of she made, ella hace with our theme: Nopales! I buy my fresh nopales, or cactus paddles, at one of my local Mexican markets. They make look intimidating with all of the needles sticking out, but armed with a pair of tongs, they're not so scary.

And then  you get them home. What now!? Remove those prickly needles, that's what. I use a kitchen towel or a wad of paper towels to grab the stem end. Then I cut a thin layer off, all the way around the outside edge of the paddle - there are a lot of small prickers around the edges. Then, I grab the paddle from the opposite end, and cut off the stem end. Next, using a longish, sharp knife held at a very small angle, slice down the paddle going against the needles. Flip, repeat, then rinse the whole thing off. Some markets may even offer already de-stickered whole cactus paddles for sale. Mine often sells them already cleaned and sliced in baggies. If all else fails, you can usually find them in a jar.
Sunday, June 29, 2014

Orange Blossom Iced Tea

Orange Blossom Iced Tea
It seems like only a couple of months ago that I was wondering if the snow was ever going to end. Oh wait, it was only a couple of months ago. In line with these crazy "new" weather patterns, it has been sizzling hot and uncomfortably humid around here for the past couple of weeks.

We've been on the move a lot this summer, too, so the need to stay hydrated is first and foremost. Whether you're packing a small picnic lunch to eat while you're out and about, or planning an all-out, honest to goodness relaxing picnic - don't forget the ice cold beverages!

Regardless of how it may seem, I do pack things in my picnic basket that don't have alcohol in them. Of course, there's never a bottle or flask too far away. Colorful and fruity agua frescas are always a hit. Energizing chia seed laden drinks are also a favorite. We almost always have a jug of cold, refreshing ice water. But, don't forget the iced tea!
Saturday, June 28, 2014

Pork Tenderloins with Dijon Mustard Sauce + Passion for Coffee blog tour

Pork Tenderloins with Dijon Mustard Sauce
"The story of coffee begins with a colorful legend from Africa..."

How could you not love a cookbook in which this is the first line? Passion for Coffee celebrates that magical little bean that has provided stimulation for so many years. Now, since I am a coffee drinker, I was excited to be a part of this book tour already. I mean, a book packed with more than 200 recipes that include coffee? Sign me up!

And the recipes do not disappoint. From safe and familiar to intriguing and inventive, the recipes are as diverse as coffee-lovers themselves.

But as I mentioned, it was "the story" that really sold me. My favorite types of cookbooks are those that tell a story - in words, in pictures, or in a combination of both. Not only do I have a blevy of sticky notes poking out from the pages, I also have more knowledge of coffee. Did you know that coffee beans come two to a cherry or berry? That the thin, sweet layer that covers the berry must be removed, and that there is a white, sticky pulp underneath that covers the two coffee beans inside?
Thursday, June 26, 2014

Beaujolais Bread Rolls | #BreadBakingBabes

Beaujolais Bread Rolls #BreadBakingBabes
I'm late, I'm late, for a very important date!

Ten days late to be exact. For you see, it is not the 16th, but the 26th...and I am just now sharing this month's Bread Baking Babes bread of the month. I'm not exactly sure where those ten days went. I won't even try to claim that I had the bread baked and ready before the 16th, anyway. I'm in a perpetual state of hurry-up lately.

But, as you can plainly see by the title and the pretty purple tint, I couldn't let the month slip away without making these rolls. I absolutely cannot resist a bunch of rolls formed into the shape of a bunch of grapes. They are also studded thoughout with salami. Cured meat, wine, bread, and me? We get along just fine.

Which brilliant BBBabe is behind the Beaujolais Bread bakig assignment? That would be Tanna of My Kitchen in Half Cups. Even though I'm late, you still have 3 days left to bake along with us this month - so get that dough started!
Wednesday, June 25, 2014

New York Strip with Whisky Herb Butter inspired by Moonstruck

Pan-Seared New York Strip with Whisky Herb Compound Butter inspired by Moonstruck for Food 'n Flix
This month's Food 'n Flix pick is an oldie, but a goodie. Moonstruck is another one of those movies that, at first glance, may not be considered a foodie flick. But go back and watch it a second time. The movie centers around an Italian family, and opens to the strains of That's Amore (which can't help but conjur up images of pizza pie and pasta "fazool"). Pay attention to the way the family gathers in the kitchen, and the way food is used as a way to show love and comfort.

One of my favorite lines comes when Loretta comes home late one evening and says to (her) pop "I got news". His reply? "All right, let's go to the kitchen."

So, our main character, Loretta, is a widow in her late-30's who becomes engaged to Johnny  after a salad and Manicotti at the Grand Ticino restaurant.

Rose (Loretta's mom) makes eggs in a nest with some roasted red peppers alongside the morning after Loretta gets engaged. I guarantee you'll wish you had a plate in front of you.
Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Tuna Frittata

Tuna Frittata #WeekdaySupper #ChooseDreams
It's been just over a half a year now since my mom found out about her food sensitivities. She is really the first person in our family to be diagnosed with any sort of food sensitivity or allergy. Her official diagnosis was Adrenal Fatigue. Her doctor said no gluten, no chicken or pork, no citric acid, no apples or bananas, and no dairy (among other things).

Needless to say, her diet has changed drastically over the past 7 or 8 months. And the crazy thing is - it's working. She used to have constant headaches. Now she can pinpoint what causes a headache by what she's eaten recently. Sometimes she'll go to a restaurant with a group from work, and that particular restaurant doesn't have any safe options. So, she'll take her chances...and usually wind up regretting it. The most common culprits being MSG and citric acid.

Now, when my family is on the verge of getting together, one of the first things that we discuss is food. What are we going to eat? If I'm bringing a dish along, or making one at "our final destination", I now stop to think about what's going in to that dish more than I used to. One of the most common culprits in my repertoire is dairy. I love dairy, and we eat a lot of it in our house. A year ago, I wouldn't have thought twice about dribbling a little milk into my eggs when making a frittata. Now I do.
Monday, June 23, 2014

Salmon in Moscato Cream Sauce

Salmon in Moscato Cream Sauce
It can make a person's head spin! I think what it comes down to is education, and more often than not, looking at a company and judging it on an individual basis. It's about setting goals and standards for what you want to feed your family, and then supporting companies that help you meet those standards.

When it comes to fish, and I hear the phrases wild versus farmed, I normally gravitate towards wild. You hear stories of how dirty and flavorless and unsanitary fish farms are. But just like anything else, it's not fair to lump all farmed fish into one category.

Straight up and honest, I have NOT researched many farmed operations. Recently I was offered the chance to try Verlasso salmon (a farmed Atlantic salmon). So, I visited their website. The first thing that "got " me was their philosophy, Raising salmon in harmony with nature. After reading about how they maintain equlibrium and strive for the highest standards, after watching some of their videos, after finding out that Verlasso is the first (and only) ocean-raised farmed Atlantic salmon has a "good alternative" or yellow ranking from Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch® program, I won't be so quick to answer the wild versus farmed phrase when asked next time.
Sunday, June 22, 2014

Superfood Pancakes

Whether it's an early breakfast, a leisurely brunch, or breakfast for dinner, our family loves pancakes. The kind we eat most often are what most people would consider diner-style, aka Malted Pancakes. It's not often that all five of us agree on a single favorite rendition of a certain dish, but this is one such dish.

That said, pancakes in general are hard to turn down. If I have a jar of sourdough hanging out if the fridge, I'll add some to the batter. I also like to stud them with fun things like sausage and cheese or bacon, blueberries, and brown butter. Cardamom and strawberry...a handful of wheat germ...cornmeal and blackberries...or the all-out decadence of banana pancakes scented with ginger and cinnamon and smothered in a Butter Rum Banana Maple Syrup. Sigh. I could go for a plate of pancakes right now.

So really, what better vehicle is there than a family favorite for experimenting with healthier choices? I can't think of one.
Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Yogurt Banana Berry Ice Pops

Yogurt Banana Berry Ice Pops
Happy International Picnic Day! Yes, it's that time of year again - time to pack up those picnic baskets, ice-filled coolers, and extra-large blankets and head to your favorite picnic spot. Whether you head to the beach, the park, the mountains, or your own backyard, it's hard to go wrong!

Now, you may think me strange for bringing ice pops to a picnic, but it wouldn't be the first time. I've loaded up a midsummer's picnic featuring wine with some luxurious Sauvignon-Peach-Vanilla Ice Pops, and these Apricot Chamomile Popsicles have even made their way into a past picnic day post! What can I say? I love my popsicles.

This year, I decided to go all the way down to Y, which could only mean one thing in ice pop land - yogurt! These simple frozen treats are just fruit, berries, and honey blended with yogurt and frozen. So, not only are they a delicious way to cool down at the end of a warm outdoor picnic, they're also good for you. What more could a person ask for?
Sunday, June 15, 2014

Chipotle Pork Chops

Chipotle Pork Chops
Everybody has their own idea of MAN FOOD. It all depends on the man. But in our house, it's get-your-fingers-dirty, gnaw-the-bone, chew-the-fat kinda food. Steak knives? We don't need no stinkin' steak knives - we've got teeth for ripping! It's almost primal. Yes, my hubs is definitely the kind of guy that like a large cut of meat on the bone.

Now, in reality, my guy just likes food. If I feed him, he's happy. Not to mention he's a pretty darn good cook in his own right. I'd been marinating some large, manly chops for almost 48 hours, and he scraped the needles from a stack of cactus paddles we brought home the day before. So, we fired up the grill and made a mess of pleasantly spicy pork chops and nopales the other night.

Man food at its finest.
Friday, June 13, 2014

Hibiscus-Raspberry Black & Green Iced Tea w/ Chia Seeds

Hibiscus-Raspberry Black & Green Iced Tea w/ Chia Seeds
Guess what? June is National Iced Tea Month. And how does one celebrate the glories of that cool, refreshing beverage? By entering a contest to win a 7-day trip to London. ENGLAND!

Why London? London just so happens to be the birthplace of Tetley Tea. I was beyond excited to receive an invitation to participate in the London On Ice contest, which is put on by Tetley USA in honor of their new Black & Green Blend. My challenge: to create a non-alcoholic (cough, cough...ahem) iced tea recipe using Tetley's Black & Green.

Commence testing!
Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Ramos Gin Fizz

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Safest Choice Eggs in conjunction with Honest Cooking. All opinions are my own.
Ramos Gin Fizz aka New Orleans Gin Fizz
Using egg whites in shaken cocktails adds a creamy and slightly rich texture to your drink, plus tops it with a fun foam cap. Yet, I'd never made one before now. Heck, I'd never tried one before now. I wasn't necessarily leery of consuming uncooked eggs, I mean, I grew up eating raw cookie dough. But I suppose that thought was always there. That said, I do know that are plenty of people might let the raw egg factor steer them away from such a cocktail.

But they needn't worry! When I was offered the opportunity to work with Safest Choice Eggs on the An EGG for Every Occassion campaign, I knew without a doubt that I'd be making a cocktail with an egg foam cap. Given, my cap is kind of tiny, but I didn't realize until later that I should have left more space for it to develop in the glass.
Monday, June 9, 2014

Fairy-ring Mushroom, Prosciutto, and Leek Pizza inspired by Little Island

Fairy-ring Mushroom, Prosciutto, and Leek Pizza inspired by Little Island
Katharine Britton has a way with family. Realism. The good, the bad, and the ugly. She writes about the secrets, the hurt, and the struggle that lies buried beneath the surface. And I find that extremely refreshing.

What goes hand in hand with family gatherings? Food, of course! I wouldn't necessarily classify Britton's novels as foodie novels, but I noticed that with Her Sister's Shadow, and even more so with this one, that it plays an important part in the lives of the people within.

Family dynamic, secrets, and forgiveness (again, similar to her first novel) seem to be the themes that drive this story. Oh, and the setting is just gorgeous; a quaint island in New England, where "the air smelled like creosote and clam broth". I would have loved to plant myself in an adirondack chair overlooking the harbor while I read the book.
Sunday, June 8, 2014

Cherry Pinot Noir Pie

Cherry Pinot Noir Pie
When I think back to the desserts that I loved growing up, my dad pops into my head. He was the one who always took me to the candy shop. We would browse the glass cases for turtles, seafoam, and salt water taffy. I'd take my time choosing which of the bright sticks of striped hard candy in flavors like raspberry, watermelon, and lemon that I wanted. I'd study the tall wooden tree that contained branches of homemade lollipops in every color of the rainbow . I'd come home clutching a delicate white bag with handspun treats on the inside. Unfolding the flap and reaching inside was always as exciting as choosing the treats at the shop was.

Dad was also the one who brought all of the sweets into the house. Dad and I were the ones who browsed the bulk cookie bins at the grocery store, filling our bag with almond-studded spiced windmills, glazed almond shells, and rings of sugar cookies. Sometimes we'd get bags of soft molasses cookies or crumbly pecan sandies.

Dad bought the boxes of brownie mix and ran the blender for milkshakes. He filled the freezer with ice cream and popsicles. Yeah, I'm not sure that my mom was ever a big dessert person. She still isn't to this day, but she let him (or rather, couldn't stop him from) bring it into the house.
Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Cherry Cream Cheese Danish

Cherry Cream Cheese Danish
I may have mentioned once or twice or fifteen times that I adore cherries. That may have something to do with the fact that I grew up in Michigan, where cherry trees are a-plenty! I've told stories of teetering human towers that were made in pursuit of reaching those orbs dangling from high branches. I've regaled you with tales of hands stained red for days and the sweet juice dribbling down the chins of young and old alike on the sandy beaches of Lake Michigan.

Cherry pies, cherry cobblers, cherry jam. Red cherries, black cherries, yellow-marbled cherries, and those fleeting tart cherries that horde like I've got issues when they are ready for picking in mid-July.

Yes, I love me some cherries.