I am unashamedly in search of "friends with figs." 😅 You read that right - I'm looking for local friends - with fig trees - who are willing to share their crop of fresh fruit - with a girl who loves figs. I've got a list of insanely good, fresh fig recipes that I cannot wait to dive into. Salads with figs, figs with fresh cheese, stuffed figs, fig crostini and chicken with figs. Amazing, right?
It's only been recently that I've started to explore the wonderful world of figs. Since friends with figs are hard to find and they're almost never available in grocery stores, most of my exposure to figs has been mostly limited to the dried version.
Late summer and early autumn is fig season in Georgia so it's also the perfect time to make some fig dishes. (Even if you have to settle for dried figs.) I think you're going to love this chicken with fig dish. It comes together quickly and it's easy to double or cut in half, depending on how many people you want to serve.
The goal was to wait for fresh figs - but patience is not my strong suit - and my fig cravings took over.😅 So when I just couldn't wait any longer, I broke down and bought dried figs at the grocery store to make this chicken and fig dinner.
Chicken with Figs
8 bone in chicken thighs
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 shallots, quartered
3 cloves garlic, sliced thin
3/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup white wine
4 sprigs fresh thyme
8 figs, halved
2 Tablespoons butter
1 1/2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
Local friends - now that we're in "fig season" in Georgia, keep your eyes peeled for fresh figs. If you happen to see them in a grocery store and you don't buy them all for yourself- let me know where you find them. AND if you have a fig tree in your yard and you need someone to come and share your crop - I'm your girl. I will gladly come and get all your figs.
I am being harassed. Months before I even reached the half century mark, AARP started passive aggressively mailing and emailing me invitations to join their exclusive club. 😅 Seriously, what kind of masterminds do they hire to track the age of every American and then initiate communication at each person at precisely 49 years and 6 months? I suspect that these people are not AARP members themselves. Most days, I can't even tell you how old I am. 🤪
Before you start sending me even more aggressive emails, I acknowledge that there are advantages to joining AARP. Believe me when I tell you that I they have made me fully aware of the services that they offer. As for now, I'm choosing to live in denial about the fact that I'm old enough to join AARP. I do not need that complimentary truck organizer that they're continually dangling in front of me and I don't want the 10% discount on my Grand Slam breakfast at Denny's. 🍳
Please don't misunderstand - I'm loving my 50's. I'm only 16 months into this journey but, so far, so good. Oh, I'm not going into this new decade gracefully or with any sort of dignity but that's the thing about turning 50 - it just doesn't matter anymore. Living this much life has taught me to care a whole lot less about other people's opinions of me. 🤷🏻♀️
Even though I still refuse to join AARP, there are other parts of this 50+ journey that I've chosen to embrace. It's not uncommon for my better half and I to eat at "Senior Hour" since we joined the 50+ club. More often than not, we find ourselves eating dinner at, or even before, 5:00.🕔 I know it sounds absurd and honestly - it's completely ridiculous - but we are the people who will sacrifice convenience just to avoid excessive restaurant crowds. Age has taught me a lot of things but becoming more comfortable in crowds is not one of them.
Inevitably, whenever we try and "sneak out" for an early dinner, one of the kids will catch us by choosing that exact moment to call. 😅 Naturally, they find it hilarious that their parents eat at 5:00. But, you know what? Restaurants hardly ever run out of the nightly special before 5:00. 😂
Fish specials are my go-to restaurant meal. One of my favorites is salmon but I only order it at restaurants that I know for a fact, serve only fresh fish. I've heard that it's best to order fish on Mondays and Fridays, because that's when most restaurants get fresh fish deliveries. I'm not sure if that's true but that advice has always stuck with me.
When I want to make salmon at home, I like to buy it from the butcher. It's a little more costly but I can always count on it being super fresh. 🐟 Double Glazed Salmon is one of my favorite things to prepare it at home. The glaze is simple, sweet and the perfect compliment for the flaky fish. I hope you enjoy - and no judgement if you want to eat it at 5:00. 😂
Double Glazed Salmon Filets
1/4 cup salt
1/4 cup sugar
4 skin on salmon filets
1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/4 cup lemon juice (2 lemons)
3 Tablespoons water
2 Tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
6 sprigs thyme
Top with fresh thyme and serve.
After a brief summer hiking hiatus, we went for our first Fall hike last weekend. It was glorious. A little drippy, for my liking - but glorious, none the less. 😅 It felt great to be back in the our hiking boots.🥾 Woods, trees, fall leaves, waterfalls - what's not to like? 🌳🍂🪵
Maybe it's the exercise. Or maybe it's just being outside and breathing in all that fresh air. Either way, there's no denying the fact that I'm absolutely starving after a hike. I crave all the carbs - cookies, pastas and crusty bread. 🍝 🥖 Comfort foods.
One of the best things about pasta is it's make ahead-ability. (Pretty sure that's not a word. 😂) Having a pan of this delicious baked pasta in the freezer is the definition of the word. It's delicious, it's simple to prepare and I can pop it in the oven and enjoy it as a super satisfying post-hike meal within 30 minutes.
2 Tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, diced
1 lb. Italian sausage
1 lb. ground beef
1 can (28 ounces) whole tomatoes, with juice
2 cans (14.5 ounces) tomato sauce or marinara sauce
2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper, to taste
16 oz. ziti, cooked until not quite al dente
15 ounces whole milk ricotta cheese
1 1/2 lb. mozzarella cheese, grated
1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese
Bake 20 minutes at 375.
Before you start sending me texts - I know that the pasta that I used is not ziti. 😅. Baked ziti just sounds so much better than baked penne. I actually substitute all different kinds of pasta in this recipe and I call it all Baked Ziti. 😂
We spent last weekend in Helen, Georgia. I'm finding it difficult to accurately put into words, the uniqueness of this little town. It's just one of the coolest, cheesiest, quirkiest places in the entire state. To quote the city's website, Helen is "a bustling alpine village set against a scenic backdrop of mountains, forests and river banks, you’ll feel as though you’ve been transported to the cobblestone streets of Germany’s famed Bamberg or Lindau as colorful shops dot the landscape and the heavenly aroma of authentic German fare takes to the breeze." 🇩🇪
I feel like the best way to get a feel for this quirky little village is through pictures.
We had the best time in Helen. We did a lot of the fun Helen experiences but we also relaxed and we ate all the delicious German food.
This is my kind of German food - pretzel bites with beer cheese and German pastries. 😅🥨. Pork isn't my cup of tea so I passed on the snitzel dishes. I'll gladly take all the German potatoes that they have to offer though. 🥔 I love fried potatoes, roasted potatoes, baked potatoes, and my most favorite - chipped potatoes. 😂
Roasted potatoes are one of the most versatile side dishes of all time. They're the perfect compliment to chicken. They're delicious with steaks and burgers and all things beef. They're great alongside pork tenderloins, chops, shoulders and roasts. And I'd be remiss if I didn't give a nod to the classic fish and chips meal. Safe to say - roasted potatoes go with just about any meal that I can think of.
The next time that you've got the grill fired up for a cookout - throw some potatoes on alongside your main course. You will not be disappointed. These potatoes start their cooking process in the microwave so it takes just a few minutes to crisp them up on the grill. I think you're going to like these.
Grilled Potato Wedges
2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, unpeeled
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Transfer to a serving platter and season with salt and pepper.
Traditionally, Labor Day weekend marks the end of summer and the beginning of those crisp, cool Fall days that we all look forward to. Here in Georgia - summer lingers just a little longer. The day after Labor Day, we decorate our houses and our front yards with fake pumpkins and scarecrows made out of straw. 🎃 We order pumpkin spice lattes and we break out our Fall sweaters and scarves so we can look the part.🧣 And we do it all in 90 degree temperatures. 😅😅
It took me a few years to learn this lesson but, it's not only socially acceptable to pretend that Fall hits Georgia the day after Labor Day - it's expected. As a resident of this great state, you can believe that I do my part and arrange all my pumpkins on the mantle on Tuesday.🤪 I may wait another month or so before I break out the Fall coffee, hit the Fall festivals and corn mazes though. 😬
Decorations and wardrobes aren't the only thing expected to change in Georgia this week. Restaurants will start introducing their Fall menus. I would not be surprised to see appletinis, hot buttered rum drinks, comfort stews and hearty cassoulets featured at menus all over the city.🥃 Maybe immersing ourselves with Fall food and decorations is our way of convincing ourselves that, sooner or later, Fall temperatures will come to Georgia.
With the end of summer just days away, I'm taking the opportunity to post one last summertime recipe. Key lime pie squares. 🍈 If you're a fan of the classic pie version of this scrumptious treat - you NEED to try these squares. They're the perfect combination of tart and sweet and more portable than pie.
Key Lime Pie Squares
2 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup sugar
9 Tablespoons butter, melted
3 cans (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 cups lime juice
zest of 3 limes
Pour over cooled crust.
Bake 20 minutes at 350. Cool 30 minutes. Refrigerate 3 hours.
Cut into squares. Decorate with fresh whipped cream.
As usual - I'm slightly late on the Labor Day post but I hope that you had a great one.
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