I love salad so much that in a perfect world, I'd be putting a salad together every single night with fresh from my garden ingredients. 🥗The tomatoes, peppers, spinach and cucumbers picked from my garden are the very best. I think I can taste all of the time, sweat and effort that I put into my garden when I bite into a garden ripe tomato that I grew myself. My home grown vegetables taste like the satisfaction of a LOT hours spent planting and caring for my precious vegetables. 🍅🌶🥒
Unfortunately, I don't live in this wonderful daily fresh salad fantasy world. I'm not a professional farmer. 👩🏻🌾 I'd describe myself as an amateur gardener at best. I don't have the time to grow, harvest and prepare my own salad ingredients all year long. I've stopped feeling guilty about buying my vegetables in a bag and started celebrating the fact that I managed to get a vegetable on the plate with our meal. 💁🏻♀️
Even though I strive for homemade - my reality is a dinner that's a beautiful mix of homemade and already prepared foods. Take this grilled jerk chicken dinner for example. I managed to get the chicken marinated and even boil a few ears of corn to serve with it while the chicken cooked on the grill. 🌽As for the rest of the meal - it was tortilla chips and salsa, a few leftover cherries and a salad straight out of the bag. 😂
The following day, I warmed the chicken and put it on top of the aforementioned leftover bag salad. I added some fresh veggies and a sprinkle of cheddar cheese and it was amazing. Not quite as good as if the whole meal would have been homemade but definitely quicker. And if I add up the cost of the plants, the seeds, the watering bill and the organic sprays to keep the pests from invading my garden - it was probably a whole lot cheaper. 🤷🏻♀️
Grilled Jerk Chicken
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tablespoons cider vinegar
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 jalapeno chile
10 sprigs fresh thyme
5 cloves garlic
2 1/2 teaspoons allspice
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
3 pounds chicken breasts
When I think of "jerk" seasoning - I usually think hot and spicy. This make your own seasoning blend is perfect for anyone who wants to customize their spice level. I took the ribs and seeds out of my jalapeno before I added it to my marinade so my chicken wasn't spicy at all. If you want to kick up the heat - add the whole jalapeno and maybe even a few more spicy peppers. Go ahead - spice it up. I dare you.
Pavlova is a meringue-based dessert named after the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. Ironic isn't it? A tiny, slender, five foot, delicate ballerina with a sugary, sweet, whipped cream laden dessert as her name sake? I never actually watched Anna perform but I imagine that she was talented, graceful and determined ballerina. Come to think of it, maybe those ARE the attributes that it takes to make a great pavlova. After all, a dessert that requires a minimum of 4 hours to make is NOT for the faint of heart.
Don't freak out about the time commitment - stick with me here - most of the four hours involved in making this elegant dessert are hands off. You will have to ensure that you reserve at least 3 hours of uninterrupted oven time though. The pavlova will need to bake slowly in order to achieve the crisp crust with the soft, marshmallowy center. When the baking's complete, the pavlova will cool in the oven for an additional 1-2 hours.
It seems like a lot of work but trust me - it's soooo worth it. When you fill your meringue ring with fresh whipped cream and top it with fresh fruit - you are going to feel like you're floating on air. Maybe THAT'S why they they named this amazing dessert after the 19th century Russian ballerina.
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup egg whites
1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 pounds sliced stone fruit (apricots, nectarines, peaches, plums, pluots)
1 cup fresh berries (blackberries, blueberries)
Spoon whipped cream into center of meringue.
Top with fruit.
As you might have noticed from my pictures, I tried several different techniques to make these individually sized pavlova. (What's the plural of pavlova? pavlovas?) The technique that I liked the best was to fill a pastry bag with meringue and to pipe circles, starting in the center, onto the parchment paper. I feel like these were the most consistent and neatest looking pavlova(s). Enjoy!
Fatally flaky, The Confessions of Coconut Cake, Delicious, Dying for Chocolate and Wedding Cake Murder - all books that I've recently sunk my teeth into. 🤣 I was never been much of a casual reader until I discovered the magical world of culinary fiction novels. I've had to stop ordering them on audio book though because my family doesn't share my enthusiasm for listening to culinary novels for hours at a time while trapped inside of a snackless car on a family road trip. 🤷🏻♀️
Reading culinary fiction does have one obvious debacle through - increased hunger. One can only read about cake for so long before they absolutely have to consume a piece of cake. 🍰 Some of these novels even include recipes for the scrumptious recipes that they so eloquently describe with abysmal detail. I rarely make the recipes from the books because I can't help but question the credibility of a novelist to create an original recipe that's worthy of giving it a try. What do I know, maybe novelists are really the great supercooks of this world?
It's hard for me NOT to put myself into these stories and imagine myself as the owner of a small bakery or cafe in the cutest little town ever. What would I make? What kinds of foods would my customers return for again and again? How could I make all of my irresistible breakfast treats and still sleep in past 4:00 in the morning?
Owning a bakery or a cafe has never been my dream but that doesn't stop me from thinking about the logistics of owning a food based retail space. I mostly dream about the kinds of foods that I would make that would keep customers coming back. I feel like a Dutch baby would be the perfect thing to have on a cafe brunch menu. It's more unique than a stack of pancakes or a Belgium waffle but not as eccentric as lavender scones or matcha smoothies. If you've never tried a Dutch Baby and it isn't on the brunch menu at your favorite restaurant, you can try this one for yourself. And bonus - this one is gluten free.
Oatmeal Dutch Baby
3 large eggs + 1 large egg white
3/4 cup Rolled Oats
2/3 cup whole milk
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes
confectioner’s sugar, for dusting
Remove skillet from oven. Pour batter into pan and bake 12-14 minutes.
Remove from skillet, top with berries and dust with powdered sugar.
We like to eat Dutch babies for our Sunday evening brunch meal. If you've got a sweet tooth, you can always sweeten your Dutch baby by drizzling with a little maple syrup. If you happen to be in a season and location where stone fruits are more plentiful than berries, by all means - top that baby with slices of peaches, plums, apricots and nectarines. Enjoy!
Chocolate Chip Cookie recipes are taking over the internet. I unwittingly found myself going down the chocolate chip cookie recipe rabbit trail for over two hours last week. 🍪 It's not that I have that kind of time to research one recipe but I got completely wrapped up in the chocolate chip cookie vortex and I couldn't pull myself away. There were recipes from cookie Pro's like Martha, Giada and Ms. Fields and cookie recipes from grandmothers and even young children.
Even though it seems fundamentally impossible, more than half of the chocolate chip cookie recipes on the internet are labelled as the "BEST." 🤣 A lot of the recipes are very similar with only slight modifications in the ingredient list to make them unique. Most of the bakers made small changes in the type fat, the kind of sugar and the brands of chocolate that they used in their recipes to create cookies that were everything from thin and crispy to soft and chewy.
I have no business adding another recipe to the internet that's already oversaturated with Chocolate Chip Cookie recipes. Does this world really NEED another chocolate chip cookie recipe? And why in the world would anyone want MY recipe? I have no cookie credibility -- unless you count my family's unbiased opinion. I mean - I get no complaints about my chocolate chip cookies but then again, they would have to be pretty awful for someone to complain about it.
So, against my better judgement, here I am, adding to the plethora of chocolate chip cookie recipes on the internet. It's not my own recipe though. This one comes from of the greats - America's Test Kitchen. (They've got way more cookie-creds to the bring to the table than I.) I'll let you decide whether or not these deserve the prestigious title of "BEST."
Thin and Crispy Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cup salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
8 Tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 egg yolks
1 1/2 Tablespoons whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
Bake 16-18 minutes at 350. Let cool on cookie sheet for 20 minutes.
In case you haven't noticed - my chocolate chip cookie are definitely NOT thin OR crispy. Don't get me wrong - I was not disappointed in my soft and chewy version - I just expected a crispier - thinner cookie. I've subsequently renamed my version of the thin and crispy cookies - "Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies." I feel like that more accurately describes these delicious cookies.
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.
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