6/26/17

Strawberry & Almond Bread: Fruit By Nancie McDermott


Did you pick up fresh strawberries and want to turn them into a sweet treat for breakfast or an afternoon snack? Then you will definitely want to make Nancie McDermott's Fresh Strawberry Bread.

I received a copy of Nancie's latest cookbook called Fruit for a review and although it doesn't have any photos, it's full of easy to follow and inventive recipes featuring blackberries, cantaloupe, damson plums, figs, mayhaws, grapes, pawpaws, peaches, persimmons (featured on the cover), quince, strawberries and watermelon that are typically grown in the South. Personally, I think an addition of tomatoes would have been clever ;)

Each fruit chapter begins with an overview of the fruit, a few gardening tips and cooking suggestions. The recipes that follow don't have an overwhelming number of ingredients and can be made in a few simple steps.

I chose the strawberry bread, which let's be honest is more like a cake, because I don't like bananas, and that's the type of fruit that's most often featured in such breads.

I made two minor changes to the recipe: toasted sliced almonds instead of pecans or walnuts and oil instead of butter to butter my baking pans.

Strawberry & Almond Bread
Slightly Adapted from Fruit By Nancie McDermott
Copied with a permission from the publisher

Ingredients
2 cups whole strawberries
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
4 large eggs, beaten well



Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
2. Oil two 9x5-inch loaf pans.
3. Coarsely chop strawberries, place them in a small bowl and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of sugar.
4. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, remaining sugar, cinnamon, salt and baking soda.
5. Incorporate nuts and strawberries into the flour mixture.
6. In a separate bowl combine oil with the eggs and incorporate them into the flour/strawberries/nut mixture until you can't see the flour bits.
{NOTE: at this point the batter looked more like cookie dough, which made me very nervous, but magically the bread puffed up in the oven and turned out delicious!}
7. Divide the batter between two loaf pans and bake for 45-60 minutes or until the top is browned and a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaves comes out clean.
8. Cool the loaves inside the pan on a cooling wrack before turning them over.



This bread had such a lovely aroma! I really liked the combination of strawberries and almonds with a slight hint of cinnamon. Use this recipe as a template and experiment with other fruit such as peaches and blueberries or figs! Let your imagination run wild.



This would be a great dessert to slice and freeze, but I decided to bring it to work and share with a few coworkers, to their great delight.

Disclaimer: I was sent this book for review purposes free of charge, but not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.

6/19/17

Pineapple, Plum & Basil Sorbet: Perfect Summer Dessert

 Looking for a ridiculously easy, refreshing and delicious Summer dessert? Make my Pineapple, Plum & Basil Sorbet.


Last week I went to visit my friends Sylvie and Marshall and wanted to bring something for dessert. I had a pineapple from my latest order of Washington's Green Grocer and for a second considered baking a pineapple upside down cake. Alas I did not have all the necessary ingredients and also did not want all the unnecessary calories.

Why not SORBET!? I found a recipe from Cooking Light and decided to add plums and basil. Ta da!


Pineapple, Plum & Basil Sorbet
Ingredients
flesh of 1 pineapple
4 plums, pits removed
1 tablespoon fresh basil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/4 cups sugar



Directions
1. Puree pineapple chunks with plums, basil and lemon juice until smooth.
2. Add sugar and puree for a minute or so until the sugar dissolves.
3. Pour the mixture into an ice-cream maker and follow the manufacturer's directions.
4. Freeze the sorbet in a freezer-safe container for at least a few hours.
5. Serve topped with fresh basil.


This sorbet took almost no time or effort, but is so impressive! The basil really comes through and the texture is lovely. I bet this would be good on a bottom of a glass topped with sparkling rose or drizzled with reduced balsamic.



6/15/17

Indoor Plants: Birds of Paradise. Condo Living.


If you follow me on instagram, you know I love flowers and plants as much as I love food.

Last night I finally bought a big plant I've been thinking about buying for months. This gorgeous Birds of Paradise plant is from Little Leaf Shop. It was quite a blast fitting it into an Uber, but I managed ;)

Do you love how colorful my TV credenza is? All the colors of the rainbow, plus a new orchid from Trader Joe's and beautiful peonies.

Let's cross our fingers the plant lives a very long life!

6/12/17

Meatless Monday: Spinach, Corn & Peach Salad

It's too hot to cook!!! Today I am sharing another one of my favorite big ass salads with you: Meatless Monday Spinach, Corn & Peach Salad.


Spinach, Corn & Peach Salad

You really don't even need a recipe for this salad, so I'll give you a few steps/suggestions.

1) Wash and dry spinach leaves. Depending on the size of spinach, you may want to tear the leaves. Dress with olive oil, salt and pepper.
2) Cut off corn kernels and saute in olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
3). Top dressed spinach with sauteed corn kernels, sliced juicy sweet peaches, cured black olives and shaved Parmesan.

This is such a satisfying salad. You have the sweet corn and peaches, the salty olives and Parmesan all playing together on one platter. What more could you want?

6/7/17

Quick Dinner Or Fancy Appetizer: Grilled Potatoes With Smoked Salmon & Black Caviar


Do you need a quick dinner idea or a fancy appetizer that requires minimum cooking and is yet flavorful, satisfying, and pretty to look at? If you said yes, make my Grilled Potatoes With Smoked Salmon & Black Caviar.

1) Brush sliced potatoes with olive oil, season with salt and grill until tender: you can do it outside or in the oven or in a Panini maker.
2) Allow potatoes to cool slightly. 
3) Add thin slices of cucumbers and radishes and season lightly with salt.
4) Top with smoked salmonfull fat Greek yogurt, black caviar and dill.
5) Serve with a Bloody Mary ;)

6/5/17

Spicy Virgin Bloody Mary Recipe

If you love anything with tomatoes as much as I do, you'll need to make my Spicy Virgin Bloody Mary recipe. And if you are making this after work, feel free to spike it with some booze.


For the longest time I stayed away from Bloody Mary cocktails. I honestly don't know why...after all, I love tomatoes and tomato juice and cocktails. Then things changed and it became my boozy beverage of choice for brunch. I also love a Bloody Mary with burgers.

Last weekend I decided to make my own version but make it sans booze. There are three sources of heat in my recipe: horseradish, chipotle adobo sauce and hot sauce. They all serve a different purpose, but interact quite nicely. You can use more or less of each as you please.

Feel free to add a stick of crispy bacon into your drink ;)

Spicy Virgin Bloody Mary
Serves 2 {I drank it all in on seating}

Ingredients
14.5 ounce Muir Glen Organic diced tomatoes {That's my favorite brand. I buy it with my own money.}
1 tablespoon horseradish
2 teaspoon chipotle adobo sauce {take a can of chipotles in adobo sauce and puree}
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 cup ice
1-2 teaspoons hot sauce, more if preferred
splash Worcestershire sauce
garnishes: cucumber and radish slices, lemon slices, pickled okra

Directions
1. Puree all the ingredients in a blender other than garnishes. Serve straight up or over ice. Garnish.


Cheers!

6/1/17

Red Kale, Mango & Cashew Salad: Picnic Ready


I have been trying really hard to stop wasting produce lately. It's been a hit and miss if I'm to be completely honest with you.

Last week I created a Red Kale, Mango & Cashew Salad mainly to make sure I don't let the red kale to completely wilt in my refrigerator.

How did the other ingredients get into this salad? Well, first, you know I love mangoes and adding a bit of sweetness to my salads.

But did you know that mangoes and cashews are related? Well, now you do! The salted toasted cashews add a bit of crunch and texture to the salad as do the red peppers. The mild mozzarella balls are a bit of a splurge, but worth it.

This salad is great on its own and is perfect for summer picnics. You can add protein such as grilled chicken or roasted lamb on top.

Red Kale, Mango & Cashew Salad
Ingredients
red kale, washed well, patted dry and cut into thin stripes
mango, peeled, cubed
small mozzarella balls, halved
red pepper, thinly sliced
salt and pepper
chili oil
roasted and salted cashews

Directions
Either mix all the ingredients together or arrange them on a big platter.

How do you make sure not to waste produce?

5/26/17

Boozy Cherry Orange Cocktail: Memorial Day Weekend

Let the 3 day weekend begin! I have zero plans, so why not start day drinking?

Here's a quick boozy beverage that you can make in under a minute in a blender.




Boozy Cherry Orange Cocktail
Serves 1

Ingredients 2 cups ice 
1/2 cup 🍒 juice 
50 ml 🍊 vodka
1 orchid bloom

Directions
1. Blend all ingredients together in a blender or food processor.
2. Pour the cocktail into a pretty glass.
3. Garnish with an orchid bloom in matching or contrasting color.
4. Sip or use a straw.
5. Drink responsibly!

Have a great weekend everyone!

5/23/17

Hostess Gift: Strawberry & Blueberry Crisp Bars Recipe

Need a hostess gift idea? Make my Strawberry & Blueberry Crisp Bars Recipe!



This past weekend I took the train down to Williamsburg to visit my friend Evi and her husband and daughter. Being raised well (thanks parents!) I wasn't going to show up empty handed. Alas Evi wasn't very helpful in giving me ideas of what I could bring other than myself :/

That's when I had a brilliant idea of checking Evi's Pinterest boards to see if they'll give me ideas. And they did! I found a recipe Evi pinned for Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp Bars and decided it'll be a fun treat to bring over.

My store was out of rhubarb unfortunately. Instead, I decided to use blueberries and then switch a few other ingredients and introduce fig balsamic vinegar, basil and black pepper to these bars to make this recipe my own. It was quite successful.




Strawberry & Blueberry Crisp Bars Recipe
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients
1 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup all purpose flour, more if needed
1/2 cup brown sugar
6 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup diced strawberries
1 cup blueberries
1 tablespoon fig balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
optional: powdered sugar

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 375.
2. Line 8x8" baking pan with parchment paper.
3. In a large bowl combine oats, flour, sugar, butter and salt. If the texture feels too wet, add a bit more flour.
4. Set aside 1/2 cup of the mixture. Dump the remaining mixture into the baking dish and press to form the bottom layer of the bars.
5. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, combine strawberries, blueberries and vinegar and let stand for about 15 minutes.
6. Strain the berries {you can use the vinegar to make a salad dressing} and mix them with cornstarch, basil and black pepper.
7. Add the berry mixture to the baking dish and top with the remaining half a cup of the crumble mixture.
8. Bake the bars for 35 minutes, allow to cool, then refrigerate before cutting. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.


These were so easy to make. Think of all the different flavor combinations you can use! These are great for breakfast with coffee or as a mini dessert.

The flavors of fig balsamic vinegar, basil and black pepper did not overwhelm the fruit, but did leave a bit of lingering heat which I liked. These bars weren't too sweet and traveled well. You could eat them cold out of the refrigerator or reheat in the oven. A scoop of vanilla ice cream would not hurt.


5/19/17

Weekend Edition: Tulips And Chives

TGIF! Wishing you an awesome weekend! I'm taking a train south to Williamsburg to visit my friend Evi for the weekend! There'll be food, catching up, a bit of shopping and staying in HarmonAirBnB ;)

I leave you with a bit of flower arrangement I did with white tulips and blooming chives. Don't you love the combination?