Monday, April 20, 2015

Lemon Curd

To me, nothing quite says spring like the fresh and tart flavor of lemons. I'm sure their bright yellow color also doesn't hurt anything. I found this recipe on Pinterest and thought these would be great to make for Easter, seeing as how we try to stick to individual sized desserts.

Lemon curd is one of those recipes I feel like people shy away from making because there is a slight degree of skill to make sure you don't end up cooking the eggs instead, but as long as you have time to stand at the stove and pay attention to this recipe, don't let others scare you off.



Lemon Curd
Source: Grace's Sweet Life
Servings: 2 1/2 cups
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Ingredients:
    • 3 whole eggs
    • 6 egg yolks 
    • 1 cup + 1 tbsp. superfine sugar
    • 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (4-6 lemons)
    • 1 tbsp. lemon zest, grated
    • pinch of salt
    • 1 stick unsalted butter cut into 8 tablespoons, at room temperature
Directions:
1. Fill a large bowl halfway with ice cold water then add in ice cubes.
2. In a double boiler, bring the water in the bottom pot to a simmer. Whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest and salt.
3. Cook over medium heat for 12 minutes, or until the mixture thickens, stirring constantly.
4. Remove from the heat and pour the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl.
5. Whisk in the tablespoons of butter, one at a time until fully incorporated. Set the bowl into prepared ice bath and let cool for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
6. Transfer to an airtight storage container and press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the curd to keep a skin from forming. Refrigerate for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months.

* If you don't have superfine sugar, add the sugar to your food processor and pulse until very fine.
* To save on lemons, zest one of the lemons and then use it for the juice you'll need.



I won't lie, you do get a workout with whisking for 12 minutes but I switched back and forth between my hands so one didn't get too tired.

This really is the perfect amount of tartness and sweetness combined into one! 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Weekly Menu 4/19 - 4/23

Hey there! I haven't done a menu post in  weeks! Sorry about that - the weekends have been kind of crazy busy around here and aren't letting up anytime soon.

Spring is finally here and the weather is amazing. Yesterday it got to 80 degrees so we decided to have a few drinks and some appetizers at a waterfront restaurant.

Sunday - chicken and herb white pizza with roasted garlic sauce

Monday - crock pot honey spare ribs with mashed potatoes and corn 

Tuesday - burger and fries pot pie

Wednesday - sticky sesame chicken over rice with green beans 

Thursday - pulled pork sandwiches, fries, coleslaw

For breakfast this week I'm having hard boiled eggs, deli turkey and fruit. Lunches are a turkey, green pepper and rice casserole dish.


Friday, April 17, 2015

A Day in Washington, D.C.

I live within 90 minutes from Washington, D.C. but I've the majority of the time I've spent there was  during field trips while I was in elementary and middle school. As an adult, I've been to one concert at RFK stadium and I've been to Washington Union Station a few times for work, but I've never ventured further out than that. 

Last year the MARC train service decided to start offering weekend trips to D.C. As soon as I heard about it, I said I wanted to go but of course that took more than a year before it happened. My friend Shannon had the idea for us to take the train down and just hang out in D.C. for the day, so that's exactly what we did last Saturday. 



The closest train station to us was the first stop on the route which worked out great. It took us about 90 minutes to get there which wasn't bad at all. We headed out of Union Station and started toward the Smithsonian museums. The Cherry Blossom parade was last Saturday and we got to watch the different people in the parade lining up. 

That's a Dunkin Donuts car AND a person dressed as coffee and a donut 

We made a slight mistake by crossing the street to go into one of the museums because we didn't realize all of the other museums were on the opposite side and the road would be closed off for the parade. We still had fun though and watched part of the parade until there was a break and we could cross the street. 

I hadn't been in the Natural History museum since the eighth grade but I was surprised that I remembered the layout of the museum. We strolled kind of quickly through the mammals and sea life and then dawdled our way through the minerals and gemstones. Shannon had a fun time pointing out ginormous stones and telling her husband that's how big she wanted her next wedding ring to be. (They've been married 10 years and her ring no longer fits, so they've been looking for a new one.) 

The Hope Diamond

We didn't bother with the other exhibits and headed on over to the American History museum. The parade had ended at that point and it felt like everyone had moved into that museum. We only did the first two floors, but of course the food exhibit was my favorite. I could have spent an entire hour in there, reading every single placard about the transformation of food in our society. This time around I opted to take a ton of pictures of Julia Child's kitchen instead. 

You know I had to take a pic of the Kitchenaid!

Dorothy's Shoes!

It was just after 2 in the afternoon when we left the American History museum and we headed over toward the monuments and found a variety of food trucks on the street. One of the things I wanted to do while in D.C. was eat from a food truck, so we chose one called Philadelphia Steak Bites and stood in line. And stood in line. You'd think 2 pm would be the end of the lunch rush, but there had to be 300+ people on the sidewalks with us in line for the 7 trucks there. Thirty minutes later we placed our orders and then it took another 20 minutes to get the food. Honestly, I don't even remember what the cheese steak tasted like. I was starving and tired of standing at that point. They could have served me cardboard with cheese melted on it and I probably wouldn't have noticed. 

Food truck cheese steak & fries

After our really late lunch we headed on over to the monuments. As a kid, I thought I had visited all of them but I quickly realized we only went to the closest ones. We decided we were going to see good old Lincoln and made our way down the path to get there. Everyone else seemed to have the same idea. It was by far the most crowded monument that we went to but I still got some decent pictures. 

the monuments

Shannon was really bummed that the reflecting pools were currently drained and being repaired. 

It was a little after 4 and we decided we were far enough along the National Mall that we should cut on over and see the cherry blossoms. It was insanely packed. We managed to get some good pictures before being squished like sardines to get around and past where the festival was going on. It took nearly an hour to do that and by this point our feet were hurting pretty bad so we decided to make a very leisurely trek back toward Union Station. 

cherry blossoms!


Shannon and I with the cherry blossom

We ended up running into more food trucks and decided to get some ice cream. I completely forgot to photograph mine, but I had vanilla bean frozen yogurt from the Sweet Cream truck. 

Another friend who knew we were down there had sent me a text asking where we were and letting us know that a shooting, a suicide had happened at the Capitol and it was on lockdown. By the time that we made it back that way, the lockdown had been lifted and the area was surrounded in crime scene tape. 

We ended up back at Union Station around 6:30 pm. There is one downside to taking the train to D.C. from our area. You either need to be done everything and back in the station to take the 5:40 pm train, or you need to stay in D.C. until 9:30 at night. Our feet were too sore to continue so we bought our return tickets home, grabbed something to drink and hobbled over to the gate we'd be departing from and barely moved until we got to leave. 

All in all, it was a great trip but next time we're not going to plan to do so much in one day. My phone told me we walked nearly 13 miles and 7 flights of steps which is just exhausting to even think about. Two days after we got back I was still hobbling around from walking so much. (Apparently 30 years old is the threshold for extended walking. I managed 10 miles at Universal in February and could still walk the next day. Last Sunday I nearly cried thinking about having to go grocery shopping.) 

I'd like to go back again before it gets too hot and go to the Holocaust Museum since I haven't been there since middle school. A trip to the National Zoo is hopefully also in our future. And Tom and I have concert tickets to the Foo Fighters  at RFK Stadium on 4th of July and we plan to take the train to that too, so it looks like I'll be spending a decent amount of time in D.C. this year!  

Friday, April 10, 2015

Strawberry Basil Sorbet Bellini

So, I'm thirty. I have now entered another decade of life. It's kind of surreal. Since the first of April I've watched the days near closer and I've pretty much felt nothing. It's just another number. If I don't wake up this morning and instantly feel like an adult, I've decided I'm pretty much never going to.

To celebrate tonight Tom and some of my friends are taking me out to a Japanese steakhouse nearby. So I get sushi and steak! Can't really ask for more than that. Then tomorrow, my friend Shannon and I are going to spend the day in DC. We're going to the zoo and checking out some other free stuff. Maybe even the cherry blossoms since this recent stretch of warmer weather might have moved them along into the budding or blooming stage.



Strawberry Basil Sorbet Bellini
Source: Country Cleaver
Servings: 5 glasses
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Ingredients:
for the sorbet:
    • 6 cups strawberries, rinsed, hulled and sliced
    • 10 fresh basil leaves, minced
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1/2 cup water

    • 1 750ml bottle champagne, chilled
Directions:
1. Add strawberries to a food processor or heavy duty blender (Vitamix or Blendtec) and puree until smooth.
2. Pour the strawberries through a fine mesh sieve over a large bowl. Use a spatula to press the strawberries through, leaving the seeds behind. Discard seeds.
3. Stir the basil into the strawberry puree. Set aside.
4. Combine sugar and water together in a small saucepan and stir until the sugar dissolves. Heat over medium-high heat and bring to a boil while stirring frequently.
5. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely.
6. Stir the simple syrup into the strawberry basil puree. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours or until chilled.
7. Process according to ice cream maker instructions and freeze.
8. To serve, place one scoop of sorbet into a champagne glass and pour chilled champagne on top.



These drinks are delicious and perfect for spring! (The sorbet is supposed to stay at the bottom of the glass but apparently my sorbet was feeling extra buoyant for its photo shoot.)

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Coming Up: Petoskey and Pine

The daughter and son-in-law of one of my fellow bloggers, Wendy, have started a business called Petoskey and Pine where they sell artisanal handmade bath products, like lip balm, candles and soaps.

Wendy asked if anyone wanted to try out some samples and give a review of their products. Of course, I immediately signed up and earlier this week I received my choice of soap and lip balm.


Check out their website, Petoskey and Pine to see what all they have to offer and then put it down in your calendar to check back here on Monday, April 27th to read my review of the items and enter in a contest to win your own handmade items to try out!


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Sichuan a la Beef

Stir fry is probably one of my favorite dishes. I love the flexibility in the dish. You can easily throw in just about any leftover veggies you have hanging around in your fridge and pull them all together with some sauce and a protein.

Of course, Tom is not a huge fan of stir fry. He eats it, but he also thinks that I make too many dishes like this so he easily gets bored of it. (Weirdo.) We hadn't anything stir fry or even Asian-related in quite some time so I figured I was safe to sneak this dish into the meal plan.

I opted to triple the amount of veggies going into this dish, partly because I didn't think there were enough and partly because there is no good reason to only use one stalk of celery.



Sichuan a la Beef
Source: The Iron You
Servings: 4
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Ingredients:
for the marinade:
    • 2 tsp. coconut aminos
    • 2 tsp. arrowroot powder
    • 1 tsp. rice wine 
for the sauce:
    • 1 tbsp. oyster sauce
    • 1 tbsp. Sriracha 
    • 4 tsp. honey 
    • 4 tsp. water
    • 3 tsp. coconut aminos
    • 1 tsp. olive oil 
    • 1 tsp. chili oil (optional)
    • 1 lb. flank steak, cut into thin strips
    • 3-4 celery stalks, cut into matchsticks
    • 3-4 medium carrots, cut into matchsticks
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 4 green onions, sliced 
    • 2 tbsp. olive oil 
Directions:
1. Whisk together the marinade ingredients in a medium bowl with lid. Add the flank steak strips and toss to coat. Allow meat to sit in marinade for at least 15 minutes, refrigerated.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together ingredients for the sauce. Set aside.
3. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the beef strips (discarding the marinade) and cook for 1-2 minutes or until browned and lightly charred. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
4. Wipe out the wok or skillet with a paper towel and then add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Reduce the heat to medium and add the celery and carrots. Cook for 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more.
5. Return the beef to the pan and stir in the sauce as well. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until sauce has thickened. Stir in half of the scallions.
6. Plate, and garnish with remaining scallions.


I served this over cauliflower rice. Tom said he really liked this dish so I guess I put just enough time in between stir fry dishes for him to enjoy it! 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Paleo Triple Berry No-Bake Crisp

Last year I made a version of this recipe using peaches instead of berries. I've found that no matter what fruit you put with this crisp, the end result is delicious! Even if you aren't following the Paleo lifestyle, you would have no idea that this was a Paleo-approved dessert.

When people think of dietary lifestyles, they tend to think of items with no flavor and a serious absence of dessert. That is really not the case with Paleo. Sure some creativity might need to get involved in some cases, but not always.

Take this simple dish where your traditional crisp of oats and sugar is replaced with ground almonds and honey. (I know honey is a touchy ingredient in the Paleo world. Since it is not a processed sugar, like granulated or white sugar, I consider it to be okay in moderation.) If you have a bit of a sweet tooth, you could easily serve this for breakfast instead of dessert.



Paleo Triple Berry No-Bake Crisp
Source: GI365
Servings: 4
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Ingredients:

for the whipped cream:
    • 2 14.5 oz. cans Thai Kitchen full-fat coconut milk, chilled
for the crisp:
    • 1 cup raw almonds
    • 2 tbsp. honey
    • 2 tsp. vanilla
    • 1/2 tsp. cardamom
    • pinch of salt
for the filling:
    • 1 pint strawberries, washed and hulled
    • 6 oz. blackberries, rinsed
    • 6 oz. raspberries, rinsed


    Directions:
    1. Scoop out solids from coconut milk and place in the bowl of your stand mixer. Reserve coconut milk liquids for another use.
    2. Beat on medium speed with the whisk attachment until hard peaks form. (If mixture is too thick, add in coconut milk liquids 2 tablespoons at a time until it reaches your desired consistency.) Refrigerate until ready to use.
    3. Place the almonds into a food processor and pulse until they are finely chopped. (I like them to be the size of rice.) Then add the honey, vanilla, cardamom and pinch of salt to the food processor and pulse until combined.
    4. Halve or quarter the strawberries as needed. Toss together with the blackberries and raspberries.
    5. Divide the fruit into 4 bowls then divide the crisp on top of that, followed by a dollop of the coconut whipped cream.



    I usually eat a lot of berries in the spring and summer (they're my favorite fruit) so I foresee this as a regular breakfast option for me.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Thai Pork and Zoodle Salad

I couldn't click "Pin it" fast enough when I came across this recipe. It was the perfect recipe I make for lunches because it included too many vegetables for Tom to even try it.

A few weeks ago there was a very big sale on ground pork. I think the grocery store might have made a really big mistake because tons of 1-2 pound packages of pork were all listed at $1.13 per pound. I ended up buying about 6 pounds of ground pork and knew I didn't need to wait any longer to make this recipe.


Thai Pork and Zoodle Salad
Source: The Iron You
Servings: 4
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Ingredients:
    • 3 large zucchini
    • 4 tbsp. coconut aminos
    • 2 inch piece of fresh ginger, grated
    • 3 tbsp. Sriracha
    • juice of 2 limes 
    • 1 tsp. fish sauce
    • 2 tbsp. olive oil, divided 
    • 1 lb. lean ground pork
    • 3 carrots
    • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
    • 1 jalapeno, thinly sliced (optional)
    • 4 tbsp. sesame seeds, toasted
    • fresh cilantro, chopped
Directions:
1. Use a spiralizer or vegetable peeler to create zucchini noodles (zoodles). Place in a microwave safe dish and microwave for 2 minutes. Set aside for 5 minutes, then drain excess water.
2. Mix together the coconut aminos, ginger, Sriracha, lime juice, fish sauce and 1 tablespoon of olive oil together in a small bowl.
3. Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the pork and cook, crumbling with a spatula until browned. Drain any excess grease.
4. Pour half of the sauce over the pork and cook for 5 minutes more, stirring frequently.
5. Plate the zoodles and carrots and then top with the pork. Garnish with the jalapeno slices, toasted sesame seeds and fresh cilantro. Drizzle additional sauce over the dish as needed.




I wasn't sure how this was going to go with being re-heated in the microwave each day, but it turned out just fine. The zucchini and carrots still had a bit of a bite to them which I preferred. I didn't expect this dish to be very filling but I found most days I couldn't even finish it all. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Happy April Fool's Day & Easter Menu 2015

Happy April Fool's Day! I hope your day remains prank-free, unless you are the sort that enjoys that type of thing. I've never really been a fan and only participated in one really large prank.

My senior year of high school someone in my first period English class had the grand idea to prank our teacher by having all of the students called from her class. We took it to the front office secretaries who more than readily agreed and a few teachers who were in the office got in on the joke as well.

English class started and the interruptions began, first by intercom asking for students to report to the front office or their guidance counselor or  something. Then a teacher dropped by and needed to see someone. Finally, there was no one left in the class and we all went down to the main office to call up to the classroom.

We totally got the teacher, she didn't even realize it was April 1st. So there you have it, one my participation in a holiday prank.

Now that we have that out of the way, let's move onto the Easter Menu. Easter is in 4 days. After having a late Easter two years in a row, this one surely snuck up on me faster than anticipated. I barely had time to put together a menu to share with you before the actual day.

And as usual, I'm making too much food. One year, I won't. But this year is just not going to be that year. So, uh...anyone need somewhere to go for Easter? I'm sure I'll be able to feed an army.

Easter 2015 Menu 

Appetizers:
deviled eggs
veggies and dip
cheese tray
sweet chili cream cheese dip with crackers

Main and Sides:
Honeybaked Ham
rosemary garlic roasted potatoes
tuscan roasted asparagus
creamed corn
spinach salad with Scotch eggs
carrot salad

Desserts:
Peep fruit kebabs
carrot cake roll
lemon curd meringue nests
Easter Oreo bark

Drinks:
peach mint iced tea
strawberry basil bellini's

There might be 8 of us, but likely 6. Pathetic, isn't it? That I am completely incapable of only serving enough food for an army. But I am trying to distribute the food contributions better this year.

...Okay, fine that isn't really true either. I'm having my aunt make the deviled eggs, veggies and dip and cheese tray and my mom will bring the ham and the Peep fruit kebabs but I'm doing the rest of it, like a crazy person. At least I chose some recipes that can be made in advance, right? The carrot cake roll has already been made and frozen and the lemon curd as well as the meringue nests are currently hanging out in the fridge.

The creamed corn will be prepared the day before as will the Scotch eggs, carrot salad, Oreo bark and the iced tea. The carrot cake will be thawed out the night before. The morning of will consist of cooking, prepping and placing in the oven for the most part. The only thing I'll actually make the day of are the bellini's. 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

30+ Recipes to Make for Easter

Easter is only 5 days away! Can you believe it? I intended to share this with you earlier than less than a week away, but time got away from me (as it always seems to). If you're like me and have just realized the holiday full of chocolate bunnies and eggs is rapidly approaching, I hope I can help you find something to make!


I went through my recipes and complied a list of just a few items you could make this Easter. I know some people celebrate Easter with brunch so I tried to include as many of those recipes as possible this time, but there are also appetizers, main dishes, side dishes, desserts and drinks to choose from.


Appetizers:
Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Chips
Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs
Caprese Skewers
Mini Tomato-Parmesan Tarts
Mini Cheese Ball Bites
Spinach Dip 
Lighter Veggie Dip




Brunch Items:
White Cheddar and Dijon Baked Eggs
Prosciutto Egg Cups
Tomato Tart with Garlic-Basil Crust
Cinnamon Crunch Braided Brioche Bread
Cinnamon Sugar Pull Apart Bread
Blueberry Oven Pancake
Zucchini, Mozzarella and Bell Pepper Frittata
Basil, Bacon and Heirloom Tomato Frittata
Lemon Poppyseed Muffins
Herbed Cheese Souffle
Green Eggs and Ham Frittata
Cheese and Onion Quiche
Breakfast Crostada
Triple Lemon Blueberry Muffins 













Main and Side Dishes:
Brown Sugar and Spicy Mustard Ham 
Brown Sugar and Mountain Dew Ham 
Garlic-Herb Pork Tenderloin
Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus
Macaroni Salad
Corn, Onion and Tomato Salad
Parmesan Roasted Fingerling Potatoes
Cucumber and Tomato Salad
Parmesan Asparagus
Glazed Carrots 








    


Desserts:
Easter Kit Kat Cake 
Lemon Blueberry Layer Cake
Egg's Nest Rice Krispie Treats
Hot Cross Buns 
Egg Nest Cupcakes
Mini Fruit Tarts
Angel Food Cake
Fruit Trifle

Drinks:
Strawberry Lemonade
Strawberry Basil Lemonade
Nichole's Party Punch
Limoncello
Orange Creamsicle Martini