September 03, 2014

Honey-Oat Sandwich Bread

I've made bread many times using a cast iron dutch oven, but until recently I had never tried making sandwich bread.  Thanks to Sandra Bullock's sister I recently bought a pullman pan for an ice cream dessert recipe.  That particular recipe was a mess, however I've since discovered the loaf pan bakes beautiful bread.

This recipe comes from King Arthur Flour and I found when it searching for recipes using a pullman pan, which is also referred to as a pain de mie pan.  Whatever you call it, it's a handy little pan for producing straight-sided bread which fits nicely in a toaster.

I tried the recipe exactly as written the first time around using only all-purpose flour and while it was delicious, I was curious about a whole wheat version which I tried next.

The lid on the pullman pan results in a flat top if you let the dough rise that high.  I prefer a slightly domed loaf, so I let the dough rise within an inch of the top before sliding the lid on to bake it.

Chris really likes this bread toasted with butter and garlic salt.  For breakfast, I enjoy it toasted with jam.  After receiving 5 Lilies jam as a gift from Abby via From Milwaukee with Love, I was excited to try their strawberry rhubarb coriander version on this bread and it did not disappoint.

The whole wheat version was a success and I plan to make it that way going forward so it's how I've written the recipe below.  I used this bread to make grilled cheese tonight, which I had with roasted broccoli and tomato soup.  It's a combination my sister turned me onto and now it's one of my favorite meals.

Although there are multiple steps and a couple rise times in this recipe, there's very little hands-on time.  As long as you're going to be home for a few hours this recipe is pretty easy to make.

Honey-Oat Sandwich Bread

Prep Time: 20 minutes (+ 2.5 hours rise)
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Ingredients (1 loaf)

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast (one 1/4 oz packet)
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine all ingredients with the paddle attachment. Finish combining with your hands if there's any loose flour.
  • Cover the bowl and let the dough rest for 20 minutes. Then add the dough hook to your stand mixer and knead for about 7 minutes.
  • Add the dough to a lightly greased medium bowl. Cover and let rise for 1 hour. Gently deflate the dough and shape into a 9" log. Place dough in a lightly greased 9" pullman loaf pan pressing it gently to flatten.
  • Place the lid on the pan and let the dough rise for 1 hour. Toward the end of the rise time, heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Bake the bread for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for an additional 5 minutes. Remove the bread from the oven and turn out onto a wire rack. Cool completely before cutting, wrap airtight and store for several days at room temperature.

Recipe Source: King Arthur Flour
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August 29, 2014

Vanilla Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting

I made these cupcakes to celebrate one of our friends becoming an American citizen today.  Not surprisingly, it's difficult to find red, white and blue items in August, but thankfully Amazon had everything I needed and Prime shipping got it to me quickly.

Until now I did not have a go-to vanilla cupcake recipe and was happy to find both a cupcake recipe and frosting recipe from Williams-Sonoma that I will definitely make again.

I prefer using large decorating tips when frosting cupcakes and Wilton's 1M tip is my favorite.  When using the large tips you'll need a 16-inch decorating bag and a large coupler.  All of these items are reasonably priced at places like Michael's and Jo-Ann's.


I love my Wilton Cupcake Carrier and no this post isn't sponsored by Wilton :)  The design keeps cupcakes from smashing into each other and the lid is roomy enough that I was able to leave the flag toothpicks in.  I especially enjoy sending this carrier to work with Chris, as he gets lots of comments from co-workers when he's carrying it :)

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Ingredients (makes 12 cupcakes)
    • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 3/4 cup sugar
    • 6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
    • 2 eggs (1 whole egg and 1 egg white)
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1/2 cup milk
    • 3 cups powdered sugar
    • 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
    • 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon milk
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin pan with liners.
    • In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
    • In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the sugar and butter on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and add the egg and egg white. Then beat in the vanilla.
    • Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the milk in 2 additions, beating just until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then beat on a medium-high for 30 seconds (no longer than that, do not overbeat).
    • Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups (I use a large Oxo scoop). Bake for 20 minutes or until the cupcakes are lightly golden on top and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
    • Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Then transfer the cupcakes to the rack and let cool completely for about 1 hour.

    • In the bowl of a stand mixer, add all ingredients. Beat on low for 1 minute, then increase speed to medium and beat for 3 minutes.
    • I use a 1M tip and 16-inch decorating bag when frosting these cupcakes.

    Recipe adapted from Williams-Sonoma - Cupcakes / Frosting
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    August 21, 2014

    Slow Cooker Lentil Vegetable Soup

    The inspiration for this soup comes from the book Blue Moon Vegetarian which I recently read and recommend.  The author talks about lentil soup a few times, but it's not one of the recipes she shares in the book, so I came up with my own creation which both Chris and I loved.

    Slow Cooker Lentil Vegetable Soup Recipe

    If you're vegan or vegetarian and have annoying well-meaning friends who ask about your protein intake, you can tell them a cup of lentils has 50 grams of protein and a can of black beans has 25 grams, so each serving of this soup has about 12 grams of protein.

    Slow Cooker Lentil Vegetable Soup Recipe

    It's not exactly soup weather here with highs still in the low 90s, however I think soup is a great meal year-round and I'm a big fan of making meals using a slow cooker.  My 4-quart Crock-Pot was a Christmas gift in college from my grandma and it's gotten a lot of use since then.

    Slow Cooker Lentil Vegetable Soup Recipe

    Prep Time: 10 minutes
    Cook Time: 5 hours on high
    Ingredients (serves 6)

    • 1 cup green or brown lentils, rinsed
    • 2 cups chopped carrots
    • 1 1/2 cups chopped celery
    • 1 cup chopped onion
    • 3 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
    • 1 teaspoon dried basil
    • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
    • 15 oz can diced tomatoes
    • 15 oz can black beans
    • 4 cups vegetable broth
    • 2 cups water
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon black pepper


    • Stir together all ingredients (except salt and pepper) in the bowl of a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker.
    • Cover and cook on low for about 10 hours or on high for about 5 hours. Then stir in salt and pepper.
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    August 19, 2014

    Piña Colada Sorbet

    I can't believe how long it's been since I've used my ice cream maker.  I'm so glad I finally dusted it off because this piña colada sorbet recipe from the June 2011 issue of Cooking Light is fantastic!

    Don't mind the melted look of the sorbet in the photo photo below, I promise it freezes well, yet it still easy to scoop.  I find it difficult to photograph frozen treats quickly enough in the heat of the summer sun.

    When we first moved to Miami we were all about tropical drinks and determined to make a perfect piña colada.  We tried many brands of cream of coconut before finding Coco Real which I highly recommend.  We bought it a liquor store, however I've also seen it in the baking aisle at The Fresh Market.  Be sure to buy cream of coconut and not coconut cream.

    Living in a 1,000 square foot apartment has made me re-evaluate just how many kitchen items I need.  I recently ditched my juicer but my Cuisinart ice cream maker has a permanent place in my home.

    Now that it's dusted off, I'd like to use it more often.  Especially since it won't cool down here until December. Anyone have ice cream, gelato or sorbet recipe recommendations?

    Ingredients (makes 5 cups)

    • 3 cups roughly chopped fresh pineapple
    • 1 cup coconut water
    • 1/3 cup sugar
    • 1 cup light coconut milk
    • 2/3 cup cream of coconut
    • The day before, freeze the bowl of your ice cream maker.
    • In a blender, combine the pineapple, coconut water and sugar, blending until smooth.
    • Pour blender mixture into a medium bowl, then whisk in coconut milk and cream of coconut. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.
    • Pour mixture into bowl of ice cream maker, then process for 15 minutes or according to the instructions for your ice cream maker.
    • Transfer sorbet to a freezer-safe container; cover and freeze for 2 hours or until firm.

    Recipe Source: Cooking Light - June 2011
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    August 18, 2014

    Chewy Coconut Cookies

    Cookies are something I often make on an impulse, so it's ideal if recipes call for ingredients that I typically have on-hand.  My favorite type of cookie is a chewy sugar cookie but the best recipe I've found comes from America's Test Kitchen and requires cream cheese, which isn't something I normally have in the fridge.

    This basic sugar cookie recipe is equally delicious and requires no special ingredients.  Or maybe coconut isn't a staple item in your house like it is mine?  If coconut isn't your thing, mix in some nuts or M&Ms instead.

    When I made these cookies last night, I had no intent of creating a blog post.  Then I tried them and they were so good I knew I had to share the recipe.  Even Chris likes them and that's saying a lot because he is not a sweets guy.

    Chewy Coconut Cookies Recipe

    Prep Time: 10 minutes
    Cook Time: 10-12 per batch
    Ingredients (5 dozen cookies)

    • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup butter, softened
    • 1 1/2 cups sugar
    • 1 egg
    • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    • 3/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut


    • Heat oven to 350 degrees.
    • In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
    • In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla, then gradually blend in the dry ingredients and coconut.
    • Drop by spoonfuls onto cookie sheets (I use a small Oxo scoop which holds 2 teaspoons of dough) about 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned.
    • Let stand on the cookie sheet for 2 minutes before removing to wire racks.
    Recipe adapted from My Baking Addiction.
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    July 17, 2014

    Watermelon Margaritas

    We're just one week away from National Tequila Day on July 24th and I recommend celebrating with watermelon margaritas!  I was excited when asked to create a recipe using Casa Noble Tequila, so much so that I bought their Tequila Blanco ahead of time to get a jump start before receiving their Tequila Reposado in the mail.

    watermelon margaritas recipe

    I've slowly been stepping up my tequila game, starting with Jose Cuervo (which now makes me shudder), then 1800 and now Casa Noble.  I paid $41 for Casa Noble Tequila Blanco and found that it is well worth the price.  Even The New York Times' Tasting Report agrees that this is a phenomenal tequila.

    Another interesting article comes from The Washington Post about orange liqueurs and the importance of splurging on Cointreau.  Here's the thing, an expensive bottle of Cointreau isn't needed to make these margaritas.  You need one mini bottle (50 ml) to make 4 cocktails, which costs about 2 bucks.  So you'll have plenty of money left to purchase some quality tequila!

    I tried both Tequila Reposado and Tequila Blanco with this watermelon margarita recipe.  I typically prefer reposado for margaritas, but in this case I would definitely recommend both, which each have a hint of citrus that pairs well with orange liqueur.

    I am not a fan of salt rimmed margarita glasses but Chris is, so I made pink salt for him :)  I recommend using a resealable plastic bag to mix coarse salt and food coloring, if you would like colored salt on the rim of your cocktail glass too.  Just dip the rim in a little lime juice before adding the salt.

    After seeing cute watermelon margarita popsicles on Pinterest I knew I needed to try making them with a modified version of this cocktail recipe.  I liked the idea of using Dixie Cups instead of molds because tearing paper off seemed a heck of a lot easier than the tricky business of unmolding popsicles without melting them.

    The final result is really cute but the shape is a little strange for eating.  I definitely prefer the shape produced by my popsicle molds, however after three attempts of using my molds I gave up.  I cannot explain why the recipe froze so well in Dixie Cups but was a slushy mess each time in the popsicle molds.

    So the popsicle recipe became a watermelon margarita sorbet recipe!  The sorbet is only slightly spiked to allow it to freeze better, so if you want a boozy treat I recommend adding a touch more tequila before serving it.  It is currently really hot and humid here in Miami, so this sorbet was a great dessert to enjoy while sweating sitting on our balcony.

    I recently bought new cocktail glasses via Amazon and I'm really happy with the Bormioli glasses you see pictured.  I love both the look and feel of them, and at 8 1/2-ounces, they're the perfect size for cocktails.

    Disclaimer: I received Casa Noble's Reposado Tequila to review for this post, along with a Whole Foods gift card to create a cocktail recipe for #TequilaDay.

    watermelon margaritas recipe

    Prep Time: 10 minutes
    Cook Time: 5 minutes
    Ingredients (4 cocktails)

    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1/2 cup water
    • 1 orange
    • 2 cups chopped seedless watermelon
    • 3/4 cup Casa Noble Tequila
    • 1/4 cup Cointreau (I use a 50 ml bottle)
    • 1/4 cup lime juice (from 3 limes)
    • garnishes such as lime wedges or slices of watermelon
    • To make orange zest simple syrup, combine the sugar, water and 3 strips (about 1-inch each) of orange zest (cut with a vegetable peeler) in a small saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat , stirring until the sugar has dissolved.
    • Let cool to room temperature, then remove orange peel and transfer to a container with a tight-fitting lid. You'll have about 3/4 cup simple syrup and it will keep in the refrigerator for several weeks.
    • In a blender, puree watermelon until smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve, discarding solids and foam, into a pitcher. You should have about 8 oz (1 cup) of watermelon juice.
    • Then stir in 6 oz (3/4 cup) tequila and 2 oz (1/4 cup) each of simple syrup, Cointreau and lime juice.   Pour into ice-filled cocktail glasses, garnished with lime wedges and/or small watermelon slices, if desired.
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    July 15, 2014

    Pitas with Hummus, Radishes, Spinach & Feta

    I'm on a pita lunch kick this summer because it's easy to vary pita fillings and they make a quick weekday lunch option.  The idea for a radish and hummus filling came from The Live-In Kitchen and I'm so glad Lindsay suggested the combination because it's a great one!

    Slicing small items, like radishes, on my mandoline makes me nervous despite the hand guard so I pulled out the slicing disc for my food processor and was impressed with how quickly and easily it produced thinly sliced radishes.

    I was happy to find pitas included in my big box of free items from Stonefire because I have a hard time finding pitas that aren't dry, which causes them to crack when being filled and they don't taste very good.  The Stonefire pitas I received were very soft, easy to fill and better tasting than any pitas I've tried before.  I only wish I could get a regular shipment of them.

    For this filling combination, I chose my favorite type of hummus (Sabra roasted red pepper), along with arugula, spinach, radishes and feta cheese.  I thought the arugula and radishes together might be a bit too peppery but they were surprisingly good together.

    I would love to hear suggestions for more pita filling combinations!  What's your favorite?  My other go-to pita lunch this summer has been the edamame pesto, feta & chickpea combo.

    July 13, 2014

    Roasted Vegetable Pizza

    I'm a huge fan of homemade pizza dough, but I also love the convenience of using Stonefire's pizza crusts.  So it was easy to say yes to receiving a big box of Stonefire items knowing that I already loved their pizza crusts.

    Alysha got me into eating roasted vegetable salads during our Door County trip, so I wanted to experiment with roasted vegetables on a pizza.  Chris and I were both amazed when experiment #1 turned out perfectly.  As in, we were sitting across the dining table from each other saying "wow, this is actually really good."

    Stonefire products can be found in the bakery or deli area at most grocery stores.  Publix is my local grocery store and they have the strangest store layout.  Their Stonefire pizza crusts on a shelf in the cheese section.  It's worth taking time to figure out where they are in your local store.

    There are many vegetables that would roast nicely for this pizza, but I chose eggplant and zucchini.  If you have a grill (we left ours behind in Wisconsin), I think this pizza would also be great with grilled vegetables.

    Despite not liking tomatoes, I added some to this pizza because Chris loves tomatoes and I like they color the add. I did pick every last one of them off though before enjoying my slices of pizza :)

    This pizza comes together quickly once the vegetables are roasted.  Just spread a layer of pesto on the Stonefire crust, then top with roasted vegetables.  I prefer using a perforated pizza pan for a crisper crust but a baking sheet or pizza stone would work too.

    I added arugula just after removing the pizza from the oven.  Arugula is too bitter for me in a salad but I like the addition of it on small quantities :)

    Roasted Vegetable Pizza

    Prep Time: 15 minutes
    Cook Time: 40 minutes
    Ingredients (serves 3-4)

    • 1 small eggplant, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
    • 1 small zucchini, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
    • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 3 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 teaspoon oregano
    • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
    • 1 teaspoon black pepper
    • 1 Stonefire multigrain pizza crust
    • 1/4 cup pesto (I used spinach basil pesto)
    • 1/4 cup diced tomatoes
    • 1/4 cup feta cheese
    • 1/4 cup arugula
    • Heat oven to 400 degrees. In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the eggplant, zucchini, onion, garlic, olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper. Seal the bag, then shake until the vegetables are coated in oil and seasoning.
    • Line a baking sheet with foil and spread the vegetables out in a single layer. Roast for 20 minutes, then toss vegetables. Roast for another 10 minutes or until the vegetables are lightly browned and soft. Leave the oven at 400 degrees for the pizza.
    • Place pizza crust on a perforated pizza pan. Spread pesto evenly on the crust, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Add roasted vegetables, tomatoes and feta cheese. Bake for 10 minutes. Add arugula immediately after removing pizza from oven. Slice into 8 pieces and serve.
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    July 01, 2014

    Nectarine Crumble Bars

    I've made this recipe at least a dozen times and it's one I eagerly look forward to making when peaches and nectarines become available each summer.  It's based on a peach shortbread recipe from Smitten Kitchen and is so simple to make!

    I go a lot heavier on the peaches/nectarines than Deb of Smitten Kitchen does.  I did so the very first time I tried her recipe after reading numerous comments suggesting more peaches and I've found that triple the amount she calls for is perfect.

    Peaches and nectarines are fruits that will soften after being picked but will not get any sweeter.  It's important to use at least somewhat firm fruit for this recipe because, as I've discovered, even the sharpest of knives struggles to cut slices from a soft nectarine.

    If you have a picnic or potluck coming up, these bars would make a great addition!  Not too sweet, not too filling, just a great summer dessert.

    Prep Time: 15 minutes
    Cook Time: 30 minutes
    Ingredients (makes 16 bars)

    • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1/3 cup cold butter
    • 1 egg
    • 3 firm nectarines, pitted and thinly sliced
    • Heat oven to 375 degrees.
    • In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Using a pastry blender, mix the butter into the flour mixture and then the egg. At this point you will have a dry crumb mixture.
    • Pat about 3/4 of the crumbs into the bottom of an 8x8 pan, pressing firmly. Scatter nectarine slices over crumb base in a single layer (some overlap is ok). Scatter remaining crumbs evenly over nectarines.
    • Bake for 20 minutes, until top is very slightly brown and you can see a little color around the edges. Cool completely in pan before cutting into squares. Store in refrigerator, or freeze.

    Recipe adapted from: Smitten Kitchen
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    June 27, 2014

    Easy Zucchini Risotto

    It seems a lot of people avoid making risotto because it often involves 20 minutes of constant stirring or dry white wine which you might not have on hand.  This recipe is perfect for those who haven't yet tried making risotto or anyone who's just looking for an easy risotto recipe.

    Wine in this recipe is completely optional.  I've made it both ways and the difference is subtle.  If you were looking to enjoy a glass of wine with your risotto, then you should definitely make the recipe with wine. Otherwise, I would say skip it since you'll end up with delicious risotto either way.

    This recipe is also easy because it doesn't require broth to be kept warm in separate saucepan.  Just make sure you don't use broth straight from the fridge, as it needs to be room temperature or warmer.  The Kitchn had an article on whether or not you need to warm the broth and the comments on it are quite interesting.

    Below is a photo of what my risotto looked like just before serving it which I wanted to share because I feared there was too much liquid and that I had stopped cooking it too soon.  My point is, it still tasted great despite the fact that the liquid hadn't been completely absorbed by the rice.

    Do you use a salt box?  I recently bought one via Amazon to store coarse salt in and I love it.  It's a classic green salt cellar by Miles Kimball and is large enough to easily get measuring spoons in or your whole hand if you're grabbing a pinch of salt to add while cooking.

    I find salt confusing and wish I had a better understanding as to whether or not I'm using the right type.  I've read that I should only purchase unrefined salt but can that be used for baking and is the addition of iodine necessary? Anyone have any advice?

    If you're currently getting summer squash from your garden, a CSA box, or a neighbor, I highly recommend this recipe.  The zucchini season here in South Florida runs from December to June, so we're enjoying the last of the harvest now.

    Prep Time: 10 minutes
    Cook Time: 25 minutes
    Ingredients (serves 4)

    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1/2 cup chopped onion
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1 cup Arborio rice
    • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
    • 2 1/2 to 3 cups vegetable broth (room temperature)
    • 1/2 cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc (optional)
    • 1 lb (2 medium) summer squash, shredded
    • 2 tablespoons butter
    • 2 cups chopped spinach
    • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • In a 3-quart saucepan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic, stir occasionally for 5 minutes.
    • Add the rice, stirring constantly for 1 minute. When the rice has taken on a pale, golden color, pour in wine, stirring constantly until the wine is fully absorbed. If wine is not being added, move onto the next step of adding the broth.
    • Add salt and 1 cup of broth, stir occasionally until the broth is absorbed. Add a 1/2 cup of broth as needed until the rice is nearly done but still a bit crunchy (about 15 minutes). Then add summer squash and cook for 5 more minutes, adding more broth if needed.
    • Remove from heat and stir in the butter, spinach and most of the Parmesan cheese. Reserve a little cheese to sprinkle on top during serving. Cover and let rest for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

    Recipe adapted from: Shutterbean
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    June 23, 2014

    Breakfast Potatoes with Peppers & Spinach

    As many of you know, I am not a morning person so breakfast is typically something very quick.  However, on the weekends, I really like having a leisurely breakfast that takes more time to prepare.  Yesterday, I made a skillet breakfast that kept us full for hours, which ended up being perfect given how our day went.

    We ate breakfast at 9am before heading to the Toyota dealership to get the oil changed in both of our Corollas.  6 hours later we came home in one RAV4.  It was a crazy day.  We had been thinking about downsizing to one vehicle for awhile and after being harassed by a sales guy in the waiting room we decided it was a great time to make it happen.

    I've been working on this recipe for awhile, trying out different variations and I'm now 100% satisfied with it. During the test runs, Chris and I tried out different toppings for these breakfast potatoes.  His favorites were kielbasa and fried eggs, while I prefer feta cheese on mine.  

    Back in the day, when I used to eat meat, we would make foil packets of potatoes, peppers and kielbasa while camping which were very good, so if you're making this recipe for meat eaters, I suggest adding sliced kielbasa. Alternatively, vegetarians could add soy chorizo.

    Prep Time: 10 minutes
    Cook Time: 40 minutes
    Ingredients (serves 3-4)

    • 1 lb red or gold potatoes, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
    • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
    • 1/2 cup chopped onion
    • 1 bell pepper (any color), chopped
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
    • 2 cups chopped spinach
    • toppings such as feta cheese or fried eggs
    • In a large deep skillet, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Add potatoes and cook for about 20 minutes until they're just about tender. 
    • Next, add 1 more tablespoon of olive oil along with the onion, bell pepper, salt and pepper. Cook about 5 minutes, until the potatoes are golden brown and the peppers are tender, stirring frequently. Stir in the spinach and cook just until wilted. Top each serving as desired.
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    June 18, 2014

    Asparagus Pizza

    After making asparagus risotto this past weekend, I was determined to buy more asparagus because the season is so fleeting.  Not surprisingly, asparagus does not grow well in Florida.  Did you know that 90% of fresh asparagus shipped in the US comes from only four states?  They are California, New Jersey, Washington and Massachusetts.

    I found a great looking asparagus pizza recipe on Kitchen Konfidence and knew that it was the next asparagus recipe I needed to try.  I make a lot of pizza but this one rates very high among my favorites.  The taste is incredible but it's also really simple to make.

    When buying asparagus, look for stalks with tightly closed tips.  Also check the stem ends to make sure they look freshly cut and not dried out.

    Asparagus will stay fresh for up to four days in the refrigerator, as long as its kept damp.  Store spears upright in a container with an inch of water, then loosely cover with a plastic bag.  You can also wrap the ends in moist paper towels and store in a plastic bag.

    I rolled my standard haphazard crust, which resulted in an oblong shape this time that ended up working quite well for cutting standard pizza slices...granted the end pieces were quite crusty, but that's just how I like them :)

    Asparagus Pizza

    Prep Time: 10 minutes
    Cook Time: 10 minutes
    Ingredients (one 12" pizza)
    • dough for a 12" pizza
    • 1/2 pound asparagus (do not snap the woody ends)
    • olive oil
    • coarse salt
    • black pepper
    • shredded mozzarella cheese
    • grated Parmesan cheese
    • Heat oven to 450 degrees with pizza stone in it for 30 minutes.
    • Holding the woody end of each asparagus, use a vegetable peeler to shave long, thin ribbons. Place shaved asparagus in a medium bowl, add a couple teaspoons of olive, a pinch of coarse salt and a little freshly ground black pepper.
    • Roll out dough into a 12" circle, then dock the dough (prick all over with a fork) and drizzle with a little olive oil, using your hands to evenly spread the oil around. Sprinkle dough with a pinch of coarse salt.
    • Top pizza with mozzarella, then add an even dusting of Parmesan cheese. Finally add the shaved asparagus. Transfer pizza to the hot stone and bake until the crust is golden brown, about 10 minutes.

    Recipe Source: Kitchen Konfidence
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    June 17, 2014

    Quinoa-Vegetable Bowl

    High in protein, quinoa makes an excellent base for any type of vegetable.  This is a versatile dish, one in which you can easily swap out ingredients based on what's in season and top it in a variety of ways.   I like feta and avocado, while Chris likes to add taco sauce which I find strange.

    The idea for this recipe came from Turkey Hill Farm in Tallahassee via Field to Feast but I found a similar recipe on Food 52 that was easier to follow so that was the base for this recipe.

    While perusing cookbooks this past weekend at Barnes and Noble, Chris asked me "aren't these pointless now that internet is filled with recipes?"  My resounding answer was "no, cookbooks are most definitely still relevant."  While I admit that I prefer the internet when searching for a specific recipe, I love browsing cookbooks for new ideas.

    Speaking of which, my summer cookbook challenge is going well.  It's week 3 and I've made multiple recipes from 3 different cookbooks so far.  I've also decided that only 2 out of the first 3 cookbooks are keepers.  Now that I've starting identifying cookbooks to donate, Chris has become a fan of my challenge :)

    Quinoa-Vegetable Bowl

    Prep Time: 15 minutes
    Cook Time: 15 minutes
    Ingredients (serves 4)

    • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
    • 2 cups water
    • 1 bunch lacinato kale, chopped into 1" pieces
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1 garlic clove, minced
    • 2 medium summer squash, chopped
    • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
    • 1 bunch of green onions, chopped
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
    • 1/4 cup feta cheese
    • 2 avocados, sliced
    • Combine quinoa and water in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer over low for 10 minutes. Add kale, then simmer another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes.
    • Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Saute garlic and summer squash for 5-8 minutes, until crisp-tender. In a large bowl combine the sautéed summer squash, lemon zest, juice from half the lemon, green onions, olive oil, salt and pepper.
    • When the quinoa and kale are done, add them to the large bowl, stirring to combine all ingredients. Season with additional lemon juice, salt and pepper as needed. Divide among four bowls and top each with feta and half of an avocado.

    Recipe adapted from: Food 52
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    June 16, 2014

    Key Lime Pie

    I didn't realize how popular key lime pie is in South Florida until I moved here.  Nearly every dessert menu includes it and many restaurants boast that they make the best key lime pie.

    Prior to visiting Robert Is Here this past weekend, I checked out their seasonal guide online.  When I saw that key limes are available year-round I knew I wanted to pick some up to try making this pie for the first time.

    My Florida cookbook, Field to Feast, seemed like the perfect book to find a great key lime pie recipe and it cracked me up when I discovered the recipe was submitted by Robert's wife and paired with a story about Robert Is Here.

    I was surprised to find that the key limes at Robert is Here were yellow, so I googled "yellow key limes" which led me to All About Key Limes from Kermit's Key West Lime Shoppe.  Here are a couple things I learned -

    Q - Why are some Key Limes green and others yellow?
    A - The green stage is the early stage of ripening and when the Key Lime's flavor is the strongest.  The yellow stage is the final stage of ripening and the flavor is somewhat mellowed.

    Q - What will happen if I put green coloring in a Key Lime Pie?
    A - Everyone will know it isn't an authentic Key Lime Pie and they may talk or laugh about it behind your back.

    Neither Chris nor I noticed any mellowing in flavor when we tried our first bites of the pie.  As Chris put it "this is a lime kick to the head."  I think whipped cream is mandatory with this pie because it helps balance the tartness of the pie.  It also dresses up an otherwise boring looking pie.

    Did you notice my green key lime slices in the middle?  It turns out I didn't pick up enough key limes at Robert Is Here, so I had to purchase a few more from grocery store and their key limes were green.

    I chose to pipe the whipped cream along the border which looks a little odd in whole pie form but I like the look when it's cut into slices.  If you're looking to do something similar, I used a Wilton 1M tip.  Or you can just get a can of Reddi-Whip and call it a day :)

    According to a King Arthur Flour recipe, key lime pie first appeared prior the Civil War and was a direct result of the Borden company's invention of sweetened condensed milk.

    "Key lime pies were first made in the Keys in the 1850s with the advent of sweetened condensed milk in 1856.  Since there were few cows on the Keys, the new canned milk was welcomed by the residents and introduced into a pie made with lime juice.  The original pies were made with a pastry crust, but a crust made from graham crackers later became popular."

    Key Lime Pie

    Prep Time: 10 minutes
    Cook Time: 23 minutes
    Ingredients (one 9" pie)

      • 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
      • 3 tablespoons sugar
      • 1/3 cup butter

      • 4 egg yolks
      • 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
      • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons key lime juice (from 1 pound of key limes - about 28 key limes)

      • 1 cup heavy cream
      • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
      • 1 teaspoon vanilla
      • Heat oven to 350 degrees.
      • In a medium bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs and sugar. Melt butter, then stir in butter until thoroughly blended. Press onto bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie pan, bringing crumbs evenly up to the rim.
      • Bake for 8 minutes, cool completely. I recommend using a pie crust shield during the entire bake time.

      • In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks and condensed milk. Add key lime juice and whisk until mixture thickens slightly.
      • Pour filling into cooled crust and bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. I recommend using a pie crust shield during the entire bake time. Cool completely, then refrigerate, covered, at least 8 hours.

      • Just before serving, whip cream in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment until stiff peaks are just about to form, then add powdered sugar and vanilla, mixing until peaks form. Serve pie topped with cream.

      Recipe adapted from: Field to Feast: Recipes Celebrating Florida Farmers - page 247
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