Anyone else have seasonal kitchen appliances? Appliances that only get used during specific times of year? My smoothie blender and ice cream makers, for example, make their way out of the cabinet and onto the counter exclusively during the summer months. I don't pull out my slow cooker and waffle maker until the temperatures dip below 60 degrees.
Even though I've don't test this theory, I suspect that my slow cooker works just as well from March through August as it does in the cooler months of the year. I don't intentionally neglect it in the Spring and Summer, I guess just more dependent on my grill when the weather is warm. I'm not sure why though because every time I use my slow cooker I wonder why I don't use it more often.
Slow cookers are such a great time saver when it comes to dinner prep time. It's also a great way to make super juicy, tender and flavorful chicken. I'll admit that it still feels a little weird to start prepping dinner at 10 AM but when I pull a completely cooked meal out of the slow cooker at 5:00, I'm so glad that I invested a few minutes of my time early in the day.
Slow Cooker Lemon Chicken
8 bone in chicken thighs
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon oregano
1 garlic clove, minced
10 sprigs fresh thyme
2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
Discard thyme. Stir parsley and lemon zest into sauce. Pour over chicken to serve.
Most of our dinners are anything but fancy or elegant. Side dishes are simple and vegetables are quick and easy. I never want to over complicate a slow cooker meal by pairing it with time consuming accompaniments. Lemon chicken, brown rice, broccoli and a fruit salad dessert - that's it. That's really all we need. I hope that you enjoy this recipe as much as we did.
What makes anyone want to run a marathon? Obviously, we aren't all cut out to be marathon runners. To most people, it hardly seems worth the effort to put ourselves through all of the training to be awarded with a gatorade and a medal. But to a runner, the results are worth the time and effort that they invest in their marathon training.
We are a society of instant gratification but have you noticed that the more time and energy that we devote to something, the more fulfillment we receive when our goal is finally achieved? It takes countless hours of training for a person to get themselves into the physical condition necessary to run a marathon. What is the motivation? Is it the potential of winning or just the satisfaction of accomplishing a long term goal?
I gave up running 12 years ago because of a wimpy ankle situation but when I WAS running, I never described myself as a "happy" runner. I ran out of necessity. It was an efficient and inexpensive form of exercise and most days, I had to force myself to do it. I devoted a percentage of my day to exercise because I felt like the benefits outweighed the pain and aggravation that I had to endure. It was the long term benefits to my health that kept me motivated to run around and around my neighborhood on a daily basis.
I apply the same principles to dinners that I make. There are times when we need instant gratification - and sustenance - in a hurry. There are other times when I devote a lot of time into making a meal and I've learned over time NOT to do it for the potential accolades that I will receive from my family. I actually get a lot of satisfaction from the process of transforming raw ingredients into something that smells and tastes absolutely heavenly. There's also a direct link between the amount of time that I spend cooking a meal and the contentment that I feel when I eat it.
There are certain meals that you just can't rush. They require that you invest a certain amount of time in order to achieve the desired results and there's no shortcuts. Risotto is one of those dishes. It requires a significant amount of time and a lots of attention in the form of constant stirring. Trust me when I say that it's totally worth it though. This shrimp risotto is DELICIOUS!
1 pound extra large shrimp, with shells
1 3/4 teaspoon table salt
1 Tablespoon oil
7 cups water
15 black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
4 Tablespoons butter
1 onion, chopped fine
1/2 teaspoon fennel
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 ounce parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 cup minced fresh chives
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
Stir in chives, lemon zest and juice and 2 T. butter.
Serve with lemon wedges and parmesan.
Admittedly, this shrimp risotto isn't the most photogenic of meals because it's a little monochromatic. I can assure you that it's anything but one dimensional when it comes to flavor. This is definitely a new favorite in our house.
The humidity in the middle of summer in Atlanta is out of control. It's the kind of oppressive humidity that slaps you in the face the minute that you open the door. The air is so thick that it feels like I'm breathing in soup. This is the time of year that I start to question why in the world I ever leave my house unless I'm headed to a pool. I don't think I'll ever get used to the ridiculously humid summers in Atlanta. (Why do I live here again?)
Humidity is not my friend. It wreaks havoc on my hair. It makes outside activities immensely uncomfortable AND it messes with my delicate baking! I can't roll fondant if my house is too warm. (Found that out the hard way!) My buttercream has a tendency to slide right off of the tops of cupcakes the minute that they're introduced to temperatures above 90 degrees. (Also, found that out the hard way!) Humidity also makes producing light and airy meringues with crispy interiors, nearly impossible. The only good news is that if you've attempted meringues on a humid day without success, the weather may have been to blame - not you.
So what am I doing making meringues in the middle of a September heat wave? I must be crazy. That is without question BUT I just couldn't wait any longer to try these cookies. I did wake up extra early and get these cookies made while the humidity was at its lowest point of the day. I also locked everyone in the house until after the cookies came out of the oven because I was afraid of letting any humidity INTO the house. I'm happy to report that no doors were opened during the baking process. 😂
These Chocolate Meringue Cookies ended up turning out pretty great - especially considering the humid conditions in which they were made. If you're a fan of the light, crispy meringue cookie - you will want to give these a try.
Chocolate Meringue Cookies
1 3/4 cups bittersweet chocolate chips
4 Tablespoons butter
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
3 egg whites
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
These cookies are absolutely loaded with chocolate flavor. The combination of melted chocolate, cocoa powder and chocolate chips make these cookies SUPER chocolaty and delicious. The chocolate trifecta! Indulge and enjoy.
What's your dream meal? The meal that you lay awake in bed at night thinking about indulging in. The food that you would eat if there were no consequences like cholesterol, calories and diabetes. Would it be rich and buttery lobster tails, or juicy, slow roasted prime rib or a carbohydrate fest of pasta and bread? Maybe you'd choose a greasy double cheeseburger from In and Out Burger or go straight to Jeni's for a scoop of ridiculously delicious ice cream.
Since I'm asking you to share your dream meal with me, I feel it's only fair that I share MY dream meal with YOU. My dream meal changes and is hardly ever consistent. It changes based on my mood, hormones, season, etc. Lately, I've been dreaming about fresh, bottom dwelling seafood like lobster, shrimp and crab dipped in a bowl of salty, melted butter. And a giant platter of warm, freshly baked bread is absolutely necessary in almost all of my dream meal scenarios. As for dessert, something fruity and some sort of deep, dark, rich and decadent chocolate creation is also key. It sounds excessive but after all - it's a DREAM meal. There are days when my dream meal would consist ONLY of dessert. 🍰
Everyone's dream meal is going to be different. But if you dream about fruity, buttery, streusel topped muffins - you might want to consider adding these Strawberry Banana Oatmeal muffins to your dream meal. These muffins are really exceptional. I dare say -- dream meal worthy.
Strawberry Banana Oatmeal Muffins
OATMEAL STREUSEL TOPPING:
¼ cup old-fashioned oats
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
pinch of ground cinnamon
1 Tablespoon butter, melted
½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
3 ripe bananas, mashed
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1cup fresh strawberries chopped & tossed in 1 Tablespoon of flour
Bake 12-15 minutes at 350.
I really do want to know what's on your dream meal menu. Send me your comments. Have you actually eaten your dream meal or is it a compilation of all of the foods that you wish you could eat? Send me your comments and let me know.
I'm baaaaack!! I hope that you were not alarmed when you didn't see any new blog posts from me over the past couple of weeks. I didn't taking a break because I'm tired of blogging. And don't worry, I haven't gone completely crazy and decided to tackle a THIRD website. 🤣 Believe it or not, I went to Europe for a casual ten day trip to visit some of the most beautiful places on earth. No big deal. 😲
Just kidding. This was SUCH a big deal in my little world. We covered 3 amazing countries in 10 days. I was so freakin excited about this trip that I felt like I could have just burst. My suitcase was packed for over a week before I left, I successfully lined up 4 different dog sitters and prepared and froze 7 days of meals for the world's greatest house sitter/starving college student/youngest child.
Who would ever have guessed that little old me would jump on a plane to meet my handsome husband in Venice? VENICE!!! Even though I didn't post on my blog while I was travelling, I did document all of my travels with my trusty phone and camera that was constantly attached to me. If you want to follow my journey through Europe, follow my Instagram. And just a warning: If you DON'T want to bombarded with a ridiculous number of food pictures over the next couple of weeks - you should unfollow me immediately.
I'm incredibly jet lagged and I can think of nothing better thing for me to at 2:00 on the morning that I returned than edit and post pictures of my trip. I just loved everything about these amazing countries and I can't wait to share all of my photos with you. The views were amazing, the people were awesome and the food was incredible.
If I've got your Euproean juices flowing - I suggest you make some Fregola with Shrimp and Tomatoes while you scroll through my pictures on Instagram. Open a bottle of Chianti and we can take this beautiful journey together.
Fregola with Shrimp and Tomatoes
3/4 pounds shrimp (peeled, shells reserved)
8 ounce bottle of clam juice
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 bay leaves
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 Tablespoon black peppercorns
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup fregola
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Remove from heat and stir in shrimp and juices, 1/2 T. oil, lemon juice and parsley.
Cover and let stand 5-7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
OK food blog followers, who's been to or lived in Italy, Switzerland or Austria? What are the foods that you absolutely love? The foods that define the culture. Much love to you all and I'll see you in a couple weeks with LOTS of pictures.
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