This week I was fortuneate enough to be a 'featured member' on Tasty Kitchen. It has been the most fun. There's been all sorts of visitors, friend requests and new blogs to investigate.
Thank you all for stopping by, both new comers and old friends. I really appreciate the comments, the love, and people taking a look around. The world of food blogging is so very friendly and I love being here.
Since I did a drinky drink early this week I thought I'd share my favorite drink "tip".
It all started at a Starbucks, where I toiled over milk, espresso, mopped floors, did dishes, and drank lots of tea. After years and years of brewing and pouring Starbucks decided we needed these nifty shakers and shake the iced tea and iced coffee. I dutifully carried out Starbucks orders with little regard to why (it was best to not question every little thing, corporate ways can bring you down). Of course I continued to make my own tea the old school unshaken way, until one day someone else made me my tea, doing their green apron duty to shake the tea. It was a new day. The tea was brighter as if someone just brewed it. It almost sparkled.
We then conducted research. Blind taste tests of shaken vs unshaken. Hands down shaken won. If you think about it, many people aerate wine, why wouldn't other beverages benefit?
I don't know the exact science of this process and have found a couple sites discussing this delicious procedure. If anyone has a more scientific reason for why this works please share.
I've also done some home research and can boldly say that shaking makes your drink considerably better. Summer is around the corner and my cold brewed coffee ways are approaching. This method is tried and true and shaking each drink only makes it better. I've even tried this with instant coffee and it really bumps up the flavor making the 'instant' aspect unnoticeable.
There's no need for fancy shakers, I use a simple mason jar and a lid (that way I can just take the lid off and drink away). You just add your drink, sweetener (I do keep some simple syrup on hand in the fridge all summer), ice and shake it baby shake it.
That's all you need for oo7 style drinks that have a fresh and clean flavor do to the miracle of some sort of science.
Thanks again for all who've visited and all who have been here before. In the next couple of weeks I'll be having a little give away to say a little thank you for visiting my corner of food blog land. I hope you all will come back soon.
There are only weeks left of school and everyone in the house is counting the days. The oldest is just done for the year and is looking forward to days of absolute nothing. My girl wants this year to be over just so next school year will start so she can ride the bus with her brother. Me, I just want a vacation.
I want to sleep in and wake to nothing but the sound of the baby ready to be set free. I want to shuffle around the house finding silly things to do because the heat is dang near oppressive. I want to smell sunscreen and heat on little peoples skin.
To be honest I would love a tropical vacation involving beach, sand, waves and drinks with little umbrellas. That sounds so high maintenance, but I've never had one of those. We're very practical with our vacations and are trying to save every penny. We try to keep them close yet fun for the kids, or if they are out of state it's usually like a family reunion. I know that soon we'll be blessed for such frivolous tropical fun, but I still like to dream.
What better way to dream of get away then with a nice creamy cool drinky drink in your hand. This drink screams little umbrella and lounge chairs. It's creamy and fruity with just a little kick of rum. You could leave out the rum for sure and still be left with an amazing drink.
Vacay In a Glass
Makes 2 drinks or one GENEROUS single serving
1 cup light coconut milk
2 cups fresh pineapple pieces (reserve one for garnish)
juice of one lime (reserve one small slice for garnish)
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
1/2 cup rum (more if you really are in need of a vacation)
1/2 Tablespoon sugar
2 cups ice
Add all ingredients to a blender starting with the coconut milk. Blend on high until the ice is completely crushed. Garnish with pineapple and lime if you wish and serve immediately.
This drink with the addition of a comfy lawn chair is almost as good as a beach. You won't even have to pack any bags, but you may have to do the dishes.
I have recently diagnosed myself with something that I like to call professional ADD, and I'm finally ok with it. To put the symptoms of this in a nutshell if you were to ask me what I want to be when I grow up, my answer would be a list a mile long. Also, I don't necessarily need to be paid for doing most of these things. Just blissfully doing. . . EVERYTHING.
Once upon a time I was desperately searching for a career to define me. I was working at Starbucks and had just realized that what I was going to school for at that time (I think then it was surgical technician), really wasn't something I wanted to be stuck in. I was for sure stuck working at Starbucks. I was getting paid an overly decent amount to sling coffee, with benefits. We had a kid, a house, debt and I felt completely adrift at my job. Then out of the blue I had this ground breaking idea to start my own business as a personal chef. I wasn't trained in the kitchen professionally, but I had a lot of nutrition knowledge (also one of my many majors in college) and had been cooking for years. I leaped headfirst in to it and at first it was a dream come true. I had clients who wanted me on a regular basis, and I was overflowing with ideas for myself.
After six months of opening my business I was still working at Starbucks and found that owning your own business was at times a burden. I also learned that even people with a lot of money, don't really have money (or at least not to pay the girl that just came and cooked a weeks worth of food for you). A year in to this plan we were expecting our second child and I had decided to just keep one of my clients (Abuela, who always paid me and really needed me). I learned a lot about myself and my capacity to create something out of nothing. I learned how confrontation is not my strong suite and that sometimes it isn't always better to get paid for doing what you love.
There's been so many changes since that time, and I feel even more coming. I started working for a photographer who was actually a Starbucks survivor/coworker. He taught me the ropes of photo editing and sent me to many a seminar on making images look amazing. This recession has hit his business hard and recently he had to shut down his photography business. I'm sad because he helped me to find this new passion of photo editing and taking photos, but I know from my past that I can keep on adding to my list of doing things I love. I've been dolling up furniture I find that would otherwise be labeled as crap, and of course my little cooking blog here keeps me busy. I pick up money here and there and maybe I can work for other photographers as well, but really I just think that if I keep working on all the ideas that run around my head, I will be very full and no longer feel the need to keep searching to define myself by one thing. I will be driven by my passion for finding new things to love.
Passions are a funny thing that God gave us humans. It drives us to many places, perhaps even straight in to madness. One thing that I just can't get enough of is citrus, perhaps more specifically - lemons. I use them all the time to give a dish a good punch. I like them in muffins, and breads. Sometimes I'm a bit afraid that Life Is Still Sweet will be over run with lemons. I've even gone out in the freezing cold to wrap up my lemon tree.
Using lemons in a dish truly makes me happy. So did this Panna Cotta. I wasn't purposefully searching for low fat for this dessert. If I was completely honest here I would use all heavy cream if I had it in my fridge that day. Sadly I really wanted to make Panna Cotta and was left with whatever I usually have on hand - greek yogurt and milk. I will admit that after I made a typical high fat version later, yes, it is very satisfying. But this lemon yogurt Panna Cotta will surprise you and left me happy and full. Exactly what I wanted.
Lemon Yogurt Panna Cotta
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1 Tablespoon cold water
2 cups milk
1/3 cup sugar
zest of one lemon
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup plain greek yogurt
In a small bowl sprinkle the gelatin over the top of the water. Place milk and sugar in a sauce pan over medium heat. Gently stir and heat until warm and near boiling. Whisk in the bloomed gelatin until dissolved. Add zest and lemon juice to yogurt in a large bowl. Stir in the warm milk mixture and whisk until completely mixed together. Pour into single serving containers (you could use tea cups or mugs if you don't have ramekins). Chill for at least 4 hours until completely set. Serve alone or with fresh fruit.
I'm so happy to have cooking as one of my MANY passions. I know I'm extremely blessed that I have been able to pursue these things that I love. This recession is hard and seeing other reinvent themselves gives me hope.
What are you passionate about? Books, writing, languages, grapes?
It's here. Brunch season. As soon as Easter hits it's all about the brunch. Personally I could not be happier. Breakfast spread further in to my day is nothing short of pure joy. Lingering over coffee and pastries, eggs cooked ten thousand different ways, and an excuse to eat more bacon.
This year I thought I'd add something new to my brunch repertoire and share some exciting brunch finds for you. I've seen so many delicious ideas floating around out there I just had to share.
I was heavily influenced by a recipe I'd seen good ol' Martha make years ago. She broiled a grapefruit sprinkled with brown sugar and I have been waiting to try this for years. One day in my reader I saw an extremely wonderful post from Baking Beauties. Her lemon sugar really had me thinking and started the gears churning while remembering this crazy cool guy, and my take on an herby grapefruit cocktail. So after my own little game of six degrees of Kevin Bacon, I decided to try and one up Martha.
My little garden had some great looking thyme and I love how grapefruit can mingle so well with herbs. I must say that this was the happiest breakfast. These grapefruits are so simple yet really can bump up your brunch table. I like unexpected in my meal, yet not way too over the top. You could easily whip up some flavored sugars to keep in the pantry and treat yourself any day of the week. Oh, and the flavor possibilities and uses are endless here. You could use basil and sprinkle this over strawberries. Make lemon sugar for your iced tea, or even this thyme sugar for homemade lemonade. I have tried this technique with mint over pineapple and it was fantastic.
Broiled Thyme Grapefruits
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoon fresh thyme
In a food processor pulse together the thyme and sugar until thoroughly combined. Preheat broiler and place rack on the highest setting. Slice each grapefruit in half and sprinkle with thyme sugar (you may want to check your grapefruits first to see how sweet they are and adjust the sugar to your tastes). Place under broiler and broil for 3 minutes watching constantly. The tops with brown slightly and the sugar will bubble. Serve immediately.
You can't beat a 3 ingredient brunch recipe and here's what I've been dreaming about for this brunch season:
- Once again, these donut holes are for sure appearing on my Easter Spread
- Maranda had me so inspired I made these once and I think everyone who loves to cook should give it a go.
- I think the kids will love to make strawberry milk, and it's so pretty for Easter
- I had clients that would request this sausage and red pepper quiche all the time. Did I tell you I had a personal chef business? Long story, we'll talk later.
- Can I make it look this pretty, please?
Welcome brunch season. I'm so glad you're here. What about you? Do you live for this time of year? What are your favorites?
This morning, as I was recovering from my P90X yoga torture, my little girl asked if we could go out for breakfast. With every bit of strength I had left I explained we were going to be eating our regular little breakfast at home. Then her polite asking turned to begging and my reply was still the same. Then she turned to the next line of reasoning when it comes to eating out - "Can Grandma take me out to lunch today?"
You see she comes by this love of restaurants genetically. My mom and I have always loved eating out. We have always been the type of family that eats most every meal at home. We love to cook. But the lure of the restaurant calls out to us. Especially those little mom and pops or new and innovative. It's safe to say that we love eating a meal we didn't cook, yet has the same love for ingredients and preparation we do.
I've also become quite the homebody. Now, don't confuse this with agoraphobia, I'm not that bad. But I love to be home. I enjoy my meals at my table with the buzz of my kids running around, not trying to be still while waiting ever so patiently as every small child does in a restaurant. I like my dishes and knowing how clean everything is or is not. I like the fact that my kids know that time and effort went into their food and didn't just appear.
Sometimes restaurants just have so much to offer. Something richer and tastier than what you would make. Fancier, and maybe even more thoughtful (yes even the food blogger offers up PB&J's). It's nice to bring this aspect of the restaurant to your own table. An appetizer before dinner, with not one, but two dipping sauces.
I had this appetizer not long ago at what is one of my favorite little places here in the valley. It was one of those absolutely hip without being annoying sort of restaurants. There were mixed drinks inspired from the classics, fresh ingredients, amazing wood fire ovens, and a good friend for great conversation. This appetizer is so full of flavor, yet really matches all the simplicity of eating at home.
Fried Fingerling Potatoes
1 1/2 lbs fingerling potatoes washed
2 sprigs rosemary
oil for frying (vegetable or peanut oil)
For the Sauce
1/4 cup mayonnaise (if you can make homemade it really tastes so divine)
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 clove garlic finely minced
1/4 cup ketchup
1 Tablespoon sriracha hot sauce
In a small bowl mix together the mayonnaise, lemon zest, garlic and a pinch of black pepper. Set aside. In another small bowl stir together the ketchup and sriracha, taste and add more hot sauce if you like things extra spicy. Set both dips aside while you make the potatoes (these can be made ahead of time).
In a large pot add the potatoes and cover with water at least an inch above. Boil on high heat for 15 minutes. Check to see if they are almost cooked through. They do not need to be entirely cooked as you will be frying them. Drain and let cool.
In a large skillet add oil at least 2 inches deep (if you have a fryer now is the time to whip it out). Heat oil over medium high heat. Cut each fingerling in half length wise. Once your oil is hot enough (you can test this with the handle of a wooden spoon, if it bubbles around it you are ready). Add the 2 sprigs of rosemary to the oil and cook for 2 minutes until it is dark and looks crisp. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels (or paper bags work too). Add the potatoes to the oil in small batches, frying until golden on the outside. Drain on paper towels and immediately sprinkle with sea salt. Break up the fried rosemary over the top of the potatoes and serve with each dipping sauce.
I still love a good meal out, and I love how much my little girl likes to eat out. It reminds me of my mom and I, searching out the best place in town. It reminds me of how glorious a meal can be and how blessed we are to be able to eat this way.