Happy Fourth of July week! We are headed to the beach with some friends today and I couldn’t be more excited for some time to relax and to get a much needed tan. I’ll be making my recipe below for Grilled Teriyaki Chicken in kabob form for our Fourth of July feast along with my Zesty Black Bean Dip that I posted last week, and will probably include grilled corn and fresh watermelon for sides! Yum!
We’ve enjoyed the recipes below this summer-I hope you try them out!
Perfect Peach Iced Tea We love sweet tea all year around, but especially in the summer time! And I’ve been completely obsessed with peaches this summer, so this tea really hit the spot for refreshment. I like how the simple syrup can be served on the side so that people can add it as they choose.
Grilled Veggie Burritos The Pioneer Woman always has great recipes, and this one is super easy and delicious. Grilled vegetables are another summer food favorite for us. You can easily swap out the white rice for brown rice or quinoa.
Artichoke Pesto I really enjoyed this flavorful take on pesto. Delicious on pasta, but also on a sandwich, grilled chicken or other veggies.
Grilled Teriyaki Chicken The longer you marinate the chicken, the more flavorful and tender it will be! The whole day or even over night is the best way to go. As you’ll see, I used salmon for the original recipe, which is incredible as well. Make sure to boil the marinade rather than throwing it away so that you can use it for an incredible sauce over rice, cous cous or quinoa. You’ll need to bring it to a boil, then allow it to simmer for ten minutes since it was used with raw chicken. But after that, it’s safe to consume! My only change is that I used a Tablespoon of Dijon mustard instead of the white wine and ground mustard. The Dijon provides a similar flavor profile if you don’t have wine on hand!
Roasted Red Pepper Chicken Enchiladas I could eat the sauce for these guys by the spoonful! What’s better than roasted red pepper? A few swaps for this recipe:
-swap 2 red peppers for the poblanos, but roast for the same amount of time
-exclude the bread crumbs in the sauce
-swap half a 28oz can of whole tomatoes in their juice for the chicken broth
-swap the black beans for 2 cups of cooked chicken
-to make it a little lighter, I sprinkled a 1/4 cup of shredded cheddar cheese on top rather than 1 cup.
Quinoa Salad This is my all time favorite quinoa salad! To mix it up a little, I used a roasted poblano pepper (roast at 425 for 3o minutes, allow to cool, remove skin, chop) instead of the red pepper. I also added half a can of black beans for added protein. Delicious!
It’s officially summer! Which means it’s officially time for summer foods. It’s felt like summer for at least a month here but I’m still celebrating it’s calendar arrival. I think my favorite food is summertime food: grilled chicken or fish, kabobs, fruit salads, grilled veggies, peach cobbler. Yum!
To enhance our summer experience, this weekend we are building a deck in our backyard. And by we, I mean Matthew and my father-in-law. I’ll make them some lemonade. I’m really excited about the deck because the spot where it is going to be is currently a pit of mud, which doesn’t do much for our backyard. Homeownership is definitely a discipline of contentment. There are about 1,000 things I’d love to do to our house, but it’s good to save and plan and do one thing at a time. I’m so thankful for our home and I’m excited to have summer dinner parties on our new deck!
Speaking of summer foods, this black bean dip is exploding with flavor and super easy to make. This is my mom’s
recipe that she always brought to summer swim parties and cookouts. It’s quite limey, so you can definitely tone that flavor down if you prefer. This dip is healthy and takes about five minutes to make which is a plus in the hot summertime. It’s great with chips but we also put it on tacos and I think it’d be a great topping for grilled chicken or fish. Enjoy!
Zesty Lime Black Bean Dip
Makes about 3-4 cups worth of dip
1 16oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup of chunky salsa*
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons ground cumin
Salt to taste
Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Cover and allow to sit in the fridge for an hour before serving. This allows the flavors to meld and soak into the beans. Serve with tortilla chips!
*make sure you use chunky salsa, smooth salsa won’t work well for this dip. You can make your own or buy it. My mom always used jarred picante sauce. I bought some fresh chunky salsa from Whole Foods. Pico de Gallo would work well too!
Whew! It’s been a crazy couple months! Summer is normally a bit overloaded, but this summer is even crazier than usual. We went on a trip to Indonesia and that trip was bookended by weddings, friends in town, and several important meetings for Matthew. We’re off again this weekend to a wedding in Austin and are excited to see Texas family.
In the midst of the craziness, I’ve still been cooking and especially enjoying summer fruit! Have you had any peaches yet? They are to die for! I haven’t been able to get enough peaches or blueberries and I’m hoping to visit a blueberry farm to pick my own in the next couple weeks. Growing up, every summer we would drive to Tyler, Texas to pick blueberries. After picking pounds and pounds in the hot summer sun, we’d go to a nearby state park for a picnic and swimming. When we got home, my mom would make blueberry muffins, blueberry pancakes, and freeze lots of the fresh blueberries for later use. I love those summer memories!
Today, I’m sharing an easy summer fruit salad that is refreshing and a little out of the ordinary. It’s great on it’s own or paired with Greek yogurt for breakfast or with ice cream for dessert. I definitely recommend eating this the day you make it as berries don’t like to be wet for long and this salad had a sweet dressing with a little extra zing.
Happy cooking and happy summer!
Summer Fruit Salad with Minty Lime Dressing
4 small, ripe peaches or 2 large, ripe peaches, slice
1 cup sliced strawberries
1/2 cup sliced raspberries
1 cup blueberries
1/4 cup walnuts, toasted
2 Tablespoons water
1 Teaspoon honey
1 Teaspoon lime zest
2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
12 mint leaves, finely chopped
Wash your fruit and slice peaches and strawberries. Place all fruit in a bowl.
In a small jar or bowl, combine water, honey, lime zest and juice, and finely chopped mint leaves. Pour over fruit and stir gently. The dressing will mostly fall to the bottom, but that’s ok. Allow fruit to refrigerate for 30 minutes to soak up the dressing. Before serving, give a stir and top with toasted walnuts. (Don’t add the walnuts too soon or they’ll get soggy)
I love coffee in the morning. In our home, my husband is the one who gets up first and goes straight into the kitchen to grind fresh coffee beans, boil some water, and brew coffee in our French press. I love the smell that slowly makes its way into our bedroom, coaxing me to get up and embrace the day. I love sitting in a comfy chair by the floor to ceiling window in our living room and taking some time to sip my coffee and set my heart on Heaven as the day begins.
I want to be a black coffee drinker, but I’m just not. Even after working at a high end coffee shop for almost a year, I could never give up the creaminess of coffee. I’m long past the days of hydrogenated soy bean oil creamer (yuck!) but I do still enjoy the “natural” versions that have lots of sugar. That’s why I’m excited about this homemade kind, and will never go back!
Sweetened with maple syrup and honey, this creamer is delicious, cheap and easy to make. I’m never going back!
Vanilla Coffee Creamer
*if this isn’t quite sweet enough for you, add more maple syrup
*if you’re looking for a dairy free version, this recipe was adapted from Against All Grain-her’s is dairy free!
2 cups half and half
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
2 Tablespoons honey
2 Tablespoons vanilla extract
Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a low boil then turn heat to low immediately. Allow to simmer for ten minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely. Store in a jar in the refrigerator. Shake well before using each time.
(perks of hosting a wedding shower: leftover flowers to brighten our home)
In true fashion, spring has been feeling quite full! Wedding showers, friends visiting, parties, and yard work have overflowed into our lives. We had a wonderful get away last weekend to a personal retreat center and we are excited to celebrate our third anniversary next week with a night spent in New Orleans!
The retreat last weekend was truly a gift. We spent two days at an amazing little bed and breakfast/counseling center about thirty minutes away from us with an incredible husband and wife who ministered to us, counseled us, and served us the best homemade Mexican food(thank you, Lord!) Coming up on three years of marriage, my teeny piece of marriage advice is this: get counseling even when you don’t feel like you “need it”. Honestly, Matthew & I are in a really sweet and peaceful season in our marriage, so we didn’t have a long list of issues to bring to our time of counseling. We went into the weekend asking the question: how can we grow in our marriage? I’m not sure why, but for some reason I expected to spend our time there weeping and hashing things out. Instead, our time was peaceful and refreshing, and our eyes were opened to some important things to work on and some revolutionary ways to communicate and grow closer as husband and wife. Even if you can’t get professional counseling, find a couple who is older and wiser than you and get time with them for advice and wisdom. However, if you can, find a professional marriage and family therapist to meet with! It is worth it!
In the midst of a full spring, here are some recipes we’re enjoying:
Smitten Kitchen’s Three Bean Chili. I love to try new chili recipes. Smitten Kitchen is one of my favorite blogs and I always know the recipes will be delicious. My change is adding some ground beef to up the protein factor for my husband. If you do add ground beef, add about 1.5 pounds, sautéed with the onions. Also, when adding the water, you’ll need to double it so that it doesn’t dry up & burn during the simmering process. I may or may not know this from experience.
The Pioneer Woman’s Heavenly Hummus Wrap: really anything with hummus is a favorite for me. Homemade is best, but I also absolutely love Whole Food’s Original Hummus. Randomly, last night I dreamed that I read the ingredient list for their hummus and it included ground up pancakes. Don’t worry, this is not true.
Spicy Sriracha White Bean Dip from White on Rice Couple; My go to for appetizers and snacks is usually a good ole classic hummus. But I really enjoyed this switch up with white beans and an Asian flare.
My Roasted Vegetable & Brown Rice Bowl with Peanut Sauce: I will never get tired of that peanut sauce! Such an easy and delicious meal, use whatever seasonal veggies are available!
Rachel Ray’s Pasta Carbonara: This is quite a creamy meal but a little less heavy because she doesn’t use cream in the sauce. A few changes: I used brown rice fettuccine, I did not use lemony breadcrumbs as a topping, although that sounds delicious! Instead of asparagus, I used spinach and instead of pancetta, I used bacon. Overall, this is a great restaurant-style meal that’s easy to make at home.
Raw Brownies from A Couple Cooks: wowowowoweeee. These brownies have gotten rave reviews from friends and from my husband. Topped with some simmered down berries or served over coffee ice cream, this is the perfect dessert. These are totally easy to make and much healthier than your average brownie.
I’d love to hear what recipes you are enjoying lately! I hope you try and enjoy some of these.
These are some photos from our retreat. Isn’t Louisiana beautiful?!
Growing up, breakfast at Papau & Grammy’s house was always a comforting treat. The scent of Grammy’s flaky, buttery biscuits and her made-from-scratch, stick-to-your-ribs sausage gravy plus Papau’s famous scrambled eggs would fill the house and make our mouths water. And although the days of eating sausage gravy are now few and far between (or never), thankfully creamy, fluffy scrambled eggs are a delicacy deemed healthy and inexpensive.
Papau’s eggs are made with olive oil over low heat and lots of Papau love and really can’t be improved upon, so let’s just make sure that’s clear. But when I came about Shauna Niequist’s trick for the best scrambled eggs, I had to try them. With only eggs, a good non-stick pan and a sprinkle of salt and pepper, these are hard to beat. Something about adding the eggs, already whisked, to a cold pan, turning the heat to a medium low and slowly running your spatula through them creates the absolute creamiest eggs imaginable. The only thing better would be if Papau had made them.
If you’ve never enjoyed the simple luxury of avocado smashed onto a piece of toast, well, you’re missing out. It’s the best treat for breakfast, lunch or dinner and can even be made with gluten free bread, because while it’s not good eaten soft, gluten free bread can be turned into some darn good toast. My dad’s method of “oven toast” is the best: your choice of bread with a couple pats of butter, toasted in the oven at 350 for ten minutes. Can’t beat it.
So, I’m not really sharing a recipe, but just an idea and a method. Trust me and try it!
Avocado Toast with Scrambled Eggs
for one, easily multiplied
2 eggs, whisked in a bowl until the yolks and whites are combined
1 piece of bread
1/2 an avocado
a sprinkling of salt and pepper
Toast your bread. Smash avocado on top.
Make your eggs. Please make them with this method, you won’t regret it.
Put a small, non-stick pan on the stove top. Add whisked eggs. Turn heat to medium low. Slowly and gently use your spatula to move the eggs around the pan. Be patient as you won’t see much progress at first. Don’t leave the stove, keep stirring. Soon, the eggs will begin to pull together, continue stirring until the liquid has come together into light, fluffy scrambled eggs. Just before they seem completely done, remove from heat. (They’ll continue to cook).
Immediately scoop them onto your avocado toast and eat while warm!
Every Christmas Eve my family enjoys a fondue feast. It’s a special, beautiful and delicious meal which starts with cheddar fondue with veggies and bread and apples followed by chicken and beef with peanut sauce and creamy horseradish sauce. Dessert puts us over the edge: dark chocolate fondue to coat strawberries, bananas and homemade buttery poundcake. I love fondue not only because it’s so good but because of the laughter and interaction we have as a family. It’s as extravagant as it sounds and we leave the dinner table feeling happy and full.
This is a definitely a special once a year treat, any more than that and we’d all be a little larger. But there’s one thing from the meal that I always crave and love to make at home: peanut sauce. The creaminess, the saltiness, it’s just perfect and so easy to make at home because I usually have all of the ingredients on hand.
Paired with roasted vegetables and brown rice, this is a great lunch. It could easily be made heartier with the addition of chopped grilled chicken or a fried egg right on top.
This week I celebrated the arrival of my first CSA produce box. My friend Lena and I are splitting a weekly box of fresh produce from a local farm, Luckett Farms. It feels really good to be cooking with vegetables that were picked the day I picked them up as well as to support local farmers. Our first box was filled with cabbage, broccoli, carrots, collard greens, sweet potatoes, and raw honey from bees on the farm. The honey is heavenly!
For this recipe, I roasted some of the broccoli, carrots, and cabbage. The judges on Chopped would probably look down on the way I let my broccoli get slightly burned, but trust me, that dark crispness is where the flavor pops. It really doesn’t taste burnt, just nicely caramelized.
I hope you enjoy!
Roasted Vegetable & Brown Rice Bowls with Easy Peanut Sauce
One head of broccoli, cut into florets
2 carrots, sliced
3 one inch slices of cabbage (cut off of the whole head, keep intact)
2 Tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup of brown rice*
2 1/4 cups of water
Handful of chopped peanuts
Cilantro leaves for topping
One lime, cut in half
1/4 cup of peanut butter
3 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
1/4 cup water
1 garlic clove, minced
Squirt of Sriracha
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Bring 2 1/4 cups of water to a boil in a pot on the stove. Add rice and turn heat to low. Cover and cook for 30 minutes until water is dissolved and rice is fluffy. Remove from heat and add 1 Tablespoon of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt to the rice.
While rice is cooking, place sliced carrots, broccoli florets, and sliced pieces of cabbage to a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle 1 Tablespoon of olive oil over vegetables then sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Put veggies in preheated oven and allow to roast for 20 minutes. Halfway through, take a spatula and turn veggies over so they can crisp on all sides. If you don’t want your veggies to have that brown crispness, take them out of the oven after 15 minutes.
For the peanut sauce: in a sauce pan, combine all ingredients over a low heat. Stir slowly until the sauce is combined and warm.
Scoop 1/2 cup of brown rice into a bowl, top with half the veggies, drizzle generously with peanut sauce, top with chopped peanuts and fresh cilantro. Squeeze lime juice on top.
*you’ll definitely have leftover rice. Throw it in a Tupperware in the fridge and use for something else!
Today is a beautiful, sunny day in Baton Rouge. I’ve already enjoyed sitting outside at a coffee shop with a friend and later I’m planning to head to the dog park with Boone. The weather is a much needed pick-me-up from the early weeks of February which were grey and cold and sad.
I love February because I love Valentines Day! Hearts and chocolate, pink flowers, fancy food, cards, I love it all. Growing up, my mom always made Valentines Day special with a delicious and gourmet breakfast or dinner and my dad would give us flowers and Godiva chocolates, the best! It’s altogether more delightful being married on Valentines Day. Matthew and I celebrated with dinner at our favorite restaurant, Roberto’s on River Road, where we enjoyed sensation salad, stuffed red fish, and King Cake bread pudding. To die for. I bought Matthew some a beef jerky milk chocolate bar from Wild Ophelia and he said it is the best chocolate he’s ever had. What a man.
February is also wonderful because I get to celebrate the birthdays of two of my very favorite people in the whole world, my older brother and my younger sister.
Ryan lives in Colorado where he skis and snowboards and makes the most of life with new adventures developing all the time. He is laid back, full of joy, friendly, and just the sweetest. I’m so thankful for my big brother!
Natalie lives in Texas where she is loved by every person she knows, is the smartest girl I’ve ever met, drop dead gorgeous, and excellent in everything she puts her hand to. She may be my little sister, but I have lots to learn from her.
I’m celebrating you both today!
In the food world, here are a few recipes that we have enjoyed lately:
Caesar Dressing is one of my favorite things to make at home. This one uses Greek yogurt for a delightful creaminess. If you’re afraid of anchovies, just omit them! As much as I love garlic, I would use 2 cloves instead of 4, especially if you make this for a party.
We loved the Walnut Crusted Chicken from Kitchenspired. The flavors are really profound and the walnut crust gives the impression of breadcrumbs without the bread.
One of my new favorite meals is spaghetti squash with a meaty marinara suace. I really don’t miss the pasta at all. Just use your favorite meat sauce recipe with roasted spaghetti squash. It’s delicious!
Enjoy these recipes, friends!
This is our snow day. Are you impressed? Maybe not, but when you live in a tropical land of heat and humidity; well, this is our snow day.
Impressive or not, a day to stay at home calls for hot chocolate by the fire, a bundled up walk, board games, and a big pot of chili.
When our church met in the evenings in our pastor’s house last year, we would cook dinner for everyone to enjoy after the service. We began with about 30 people but after a few months, we were feeding up to 120 hungry folks! One of my go to dinners for those nights was several big pots of taco chili. Chili is one of those recipes that’s good to have in your back pocket. It’s inexpensive and delicious. It can be made healthier with the use of ground turkey or chicken and it can easily feed a crowd. Seeing as I won first place in a chili making contest, I feel the authority to share my recipe with you. I call this recipe taco chili because I use black beans and corn and lots of cumin. Enjoy!
1 T chili powder
1 T cumin
1/2 T oregano
1/2 t cocoa powder
1/2 t salt
1/2 t pepper
3 cloves garlic
3/4 cup chopped onion
1 can black beans
1 can corn
1 can kidney beans
1 lb ground beef
1 28oz can whole tomatoes
Toppings: sour cream, shredded cheese, chips, avocado, cilantro, onion
Chop your onions and garlic. Heat one Tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat in a non stick pan. Add the chopped onions and ground beef. Use a spatula to break up meat. Cook until beef is browned through and onions are translucent. Add chopped garlic cloves and cook for one more minute. Drain any grease into a jar or trash.
Into your slow cooker, add can of tomatoes with juice. Drain beans and corn, add to the slow cooker. Add meat, onions and garlic. Add all seasonings. Stir using a spoon and break up whole tomatoes with spatula or fork. Allow to cook over low heat for 4-6 hours.
**You can also make this in a large soup pot and allow to simmer for an hour. The longer it cooks, the better the flavor.
Serve warm with preferred toppings!