Celebrate!!! 🎉 That's what we do in the Spring. We celebrate EIGHT family birthdays between March and May. Not to mention St. Patrick's Day, Cinco de Mayo, Mother's Day and Easter. Hardly a week goes by, that we aren't exchanging gifts, cutting into a cake and toasting another trip around the sun. 🍾 Not gonna lie - I really love all the Spring parties and festivities. Organizing desserts for all of these parties is my forte but keeping myself organized so that everyone receives their gifts on time - now that's another story. 💁🏻♀️
In my world - it's not a party without a proper dessert to commemorate the event. It doesn't have to be a traditional three layer cake with buttercream roses and candles to be an official birthday cake. We celebrate birthdays with apple pie, a pile of donuts and strawberry shortcake. After all, when you celebrate that many special occasions in 92 days, you've got to mix it up a little.
This year, since we're all spending our Spring in quarantine and not gathering with families, we've had to get more creative about celebrating birthday's from afar. Raising a glass to toast a birthday while practicing social distancing is the new norm. 🍷
Sangria has become my new go-to cocktail for birthday celebrations either alone or with a friends. (Less than 10, of course.) After all, it combines three of my favorite things: red wine, fresh fruit and sugar!!! What's not to love?
2 cups burgundy wine
1 cup brandy
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups club soda
1 lime sliced
1 lemon sliced
Combine wine, brandy, lime juice, lemon juice and sugar.
Add orange, lemon and lime slices.
Add club soda, just before serving.
Serve over glass of ice.
My dad provided the wine for this batch of Sangria. It is the perfect compliment to the brandy and fruit. I've learned to make double batches of this thirst quenching libation because everyone LOVES it. Including me.
Anyone else eating their way through this quarantine? 😂 We've been playing tennis, kayaking and riding our bikes BUT we've also been making cooking tutorial videos. While it's been super fun to experiment with this new way of sharing recipes, it's also been detrimental to my diet. 😬 Let's just say that I wanted to be absolutely SURE that the recipes that I posted were as delicious as I claimed they were. #thoroughcook
While it's been fun to taste test all of these new recipes, I realized yesterday when I put on my bathing suit for the first time this season, that I need to ease off the energy bites for a while. So, it's salads and lean protein for our menu next week. (Sorry, husband) Maybe if I start making salad tutorials, it will encourage me to snack on lettuce instead of chocolate. 🥗😂
The key for me to stick to a more plant based diet is to make it interesting. I can only eat a plain green salad with baby carrots for a couple of days in a row before I want to eat the plate instead. A lot of times I'll add a warm protein like grilled shrimp or chicken to make my bowl of lettuce more enticing. 🍤I also like to shake things up with fresh fruits or grilled vegetables. (Livin on the edge over here, people.) 😂
A good helping of farro (a wheat grain) mixed into this green salad is exactly what this dinner salad needed to feel more like a meal and less like a side dish. The chewy farro is delicious and I feel like it's grossly underutilized. It's easy to make, it's a slightly nutty, wheat grain and it's healthier than white rice. If you like it in my Farro Salad, you should try adding it to soups and stews. 😋
Farro Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
1 cup farro
3 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 cups lettuce
1 bunch fresh mint, chopped
2 carrots, shaved
1/4 cup pistachios
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup shaved parmesan
Top with pistachios and shaved parmesan.
I have been doing a lot more cooking than I normally do during this quarantine because all of the restaurants in Georgia have closed their dining rooms. Restaurants are open for take out and drive through but I haven't really taken advantage of that service yet. I want to know - Are you doing more cooking or ordering more take out food during the quarantine? Who participated in the Great American Take Out Night?
As a small business owner myself, I'm all about supporting the small businesses in town during these mandatory shutdowns, so I actually scheduled a couple of nights next week where we will be bringing dinner home from a local restaurant. Now all i have to do is decided which of these amazing places we want to get take out from. 😋
Quinoa. It's a (nearly) perfect food. It's nutritious, it's gluten free and it's delicious. So why in the world can't I get my better half to enjoy it as much as I do? (Life would be so much easier if I could just convince him to like everything that I like to eat.) 😂
I've made deliciously savory quinoa chili and quinoa salads. I've made baked quinoa squares and served it as a side dish with our favorite fish dinner. I've even tried sweetening quinoa with honey and turning it into a dessert with ricotta cheese and apples. Too far?
So why is there a pile of quinoa left on his dinner plate every time I serve it? Despite my best efforts, I can't seem to convince him that IT'S DELICIOUS! Lucky for him, his dislike for something has never stopped me before. I take it on as a personal challenge. It's the reason that I continue to try and win him over to the Shepherds Pie Fan club.
Maybe a giant bowl of quinoa salad with juicy strawberries and fresh basil will win him over. Who could resist that?
For the first time EVER - I had my sweet daughter record a video of me preparing a recipe. (It was just as awkward as you might imagine.) 😬 Hope you enjoy!!
Strawberry Basil Quinoa Salad
3 cups water
1 1/2 cups quinoa
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 cups diced strawberries
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
Combine water, quinoa and 1/4 t. salt in saucepan.
Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 12-15 minutes.
Whisk together lemon juice, oil, maple syrup, pepper and 1/2 t. salt.
Add cooked quinoa and stir to combine.
Stir in strawberries and basil.
I hope to make more cooking videos in the future but I need your help. Send me the recipes that you want to see on video.
It's no secret that I love to cook. That's obvious I guess - I'm a food blogger. I'm always trying new recipes and as many recipes as I've been through over the past 11 years of blogging, I don't tend to stray too far from what I know. I don't like to get too far out of my cooking comfort zone.
Poultry is my wheel house. It's where I feel the most comfortable. I cook a LOT of chicken and turkey because I EAT a lot of chicken and turkey. Sometimes I feel like I've cooked it in every possible way that a person can cook a bird. 🍗 Baked, grilled, fried, stuffed, sautéed and roasted. I've made it with sauce, with herbs, with breading and with vegetables. Just when I feel like I've exhausted all of the chicken possibilities - I find a new and exciting recipe.
I actually do a little happy dance when I find a new way to fix chicken. (I get excited about the weirdest things.) That is exactly what happened when I ran across this recipe for Roast Chicken with Hot Honey in a copy of Food and Wine Magazine - and I was on an airplane at the time. 😂 I was familiar with fried Honey Hot Wings but I never thought about applying the same techniques to roasted chicken.
I happened to shop for the ingredients for this chicken recipe on the worst possible day. I made it to the grocery store about 8 hours after everyone else in my town had already raided the stores of most of its inventory. The shelves were empty by the time I made it to the store. The ONLY thing left in the meat case was a single package of turkey legs. I guess I was late to the party. (or slow to react.) 💁🏻♀️
Figuring that my chicken recipe would work just as beautifully with turkey legs as it would chicken legs, I decided to go for it. Infusing honey with spices, fresh herbs, garlic and orange is a just about the best idea ever. This stuff is like crack. Stopping myself from eating it by the spoonful was the hardest part of this whole recipe. Drizzle this sweet delicacy on this roast chicken and save the leftovers for your next batch of ribs, biscuits or ham.
Roast Turkey with Hot Honey
2 Tablespoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons pepper
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
4 turkey legs
1 cup honey
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 clove garlic, chopped
4 orange peel strips
1 thyme sprigs
3/4 cup chopped toasted pecans
Let rest 10 minutes. Drizzle each serving with hot honey.
Sprinkle with pecans before serving. Ok, so this might have worked better with chicken legs. It's hard to get a nut to stick to a turkey leg. 😂
I had decided that I wasn't going to address the current Coronavirus situation on my blog - mostly because I prefer to keep this space, lighthearted and more of an escape from the stresses and realities of life rather than addressing the hard truths. BUT, then made a trip to the grocery store and I felt like it was my obligation as a food blogger to share my thoughts.
I went shopping last Friday, not out of desperation or panic, but to out of necessity, to pick up the weekly groceries that I needed to feed my family for the week. I'm sure that my grocery store experience was very similar to all of yours last week. Empty shelves and cleaned out coolers. Desperate shoppers buying up canned foods, milk, meats, poultry, diapers and every bit of soap and sanitizer that they could get their hands on. There were long lines at the register and anxious, frustrated shoppers who weren't able to get what they needed.
We are living in such a weird time right now. We're all trying to navigating through the overwhelming amount of information about the Coronavirus and doing our best to take unprecedented precautions and preparations to protect and prepare ourselves and our families. It can all be quite overwhelming.
I can only assume from the amount of food that everyone has purchased last week, that they are preparing to follow the CDC guidelines and practice social distancing for the next few weeks. Kids are home and parents are working from home - that means that someone is going to have to feed all these people. This is the reason that I decided to blog about the Coronavirus.
So for those of you who picked up a package of turkey legs simply because that was the only thing left in the meat case, I got you. Use the search box on my recipe index page to find a recipe for almost anything. Chicken wings, Italian sausage, ground beef and pork chops - I've got recipes for all of those ingredients. Search through my recipes this week if you've got ingredients that you need to use up.
I was late to the party and I didn't have much luck finding meats and poultry at the grocery store last week. They were also sold out of soup, dried pasta and bread so we're improvising this week. I did manage to come home with a bag of potatoes so - potato skins it is. These cheesy potato skins are going to make our self-imposed home quarantine much more tolerable -- and delicious. 🥔
Cheesy Potato Skins
4 russet potatoes
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup cheddar cheese
fresh chives, chopped
Top each potato with cheese and place under broiler until melted.
Serve potato skins with sour cream, crumbled bacon and fresh chives.
I think America is the most resilient country in the world. We rally when times are tough. We are at our best when things are at their worst. I've watched as communities come together to feed children who won't be able to eat their breakfast and lunch at school this month. I commend all of the brave healthcare workers who are working selflessly to care for others. My prayers are will you all.
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