Summer 2013: A round up of the best things I ate last Summer

 

I am currently on summer vacation, though summer is still weeks away and today the high was only 71. Unlike, most people, I do not have a favorite season. Each season has it’s advantages and disadvantages. In Memphis, Summer involves high temps and an insane amount of humidity— but with it comes some great food (and usually more time to create.)  I thought that in anticipation of what is to come, I would look back on all of the delicious bites that filled the 90 days of Summer 2013. Hang in there, this is a long post, but oh so worth it!

These corn fritters that I posted about here are alternately stacked with tomatoes and avocado before being drizzled with a honey-chiptole vinaigrette. My husband says that this is one of the best things I have ever made.

 

 

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Pimento Cheese toast: It’s as simple as it sounds. Spread your favorite pimento cheese over a horizontally-sliced baguette and broil until you are pleased with the browning level. Enjoy with caution, cheese holds heat really well!

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T and I met some friends at our favorite Italian restaurant in Memphis, Pasta Italia. I got the sampler platter and each corner held a delicious surprise. YUM!

 
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Another meeting with friends occurred at Jerry’s Sno Cones and I had my first Jerry’s burger. Two words: LIFE CHANGER. Forget the sno-cones and go for lunch or dinner!

 
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A Grilled Donut topped with berries, ice cream, and whipped cream is my new favorite dessert and that is from a girl who only likes Krispy Kreme when the hot light is on.

 
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When I was in Palm Springs last August, we ate at a random restaurant before hitting up the amazing outlets and when we saw these “nachos” on the menu, we knew we needed to start with these! What a great concept, Nachos with waffles fries as the base!

 

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I LOVE BRUSSELS SPROUTS! And these are, by a landslide, the BEST sprouts I have ever eaten. Despite the fact that these are made with bacon, I am already planning on ordering these again when we are back on the West Coast later this year.

 

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WOOHOO! I had my first cronut and I loved it, every sugary bite!

 
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This idea was so cool to me, I mean every one knows about donut holes, but bagel holes- genius!

 

 

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Obviously, I went to California last summer… A trip to the West Coast is not complete with out a stop at In-and-Out. 1 cheese burger animal style, por favor.

 

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I shared the recipe to these last year and I think I may make them in a few weeks for Memorial Day!

 
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When the weather is rainy or dips a few degrees, shrimp primavera over spicy cheddar grits can be comforting and the perfect evening meal.

 

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Costco had the best peaches last summer. One of my friends and myself would text each other every time we got our latest box and how great they were. MMM!

 

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A yummy gelato affogato with my sisters and mother in Nashville, my then 9 month old drank most of it :)

 

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My favorite meal from last summer was simple…. a freshly squeezed juice and a hummus plate. Check out those veggies!

 

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And Lastly, yes… Summer provides a new array of food and more time to brainstorm on a menu, but sometimes the best bit of summer is the lingering, the extra time with those you love.

 

My 8 year old cousin, who lives in Los Angeles proudly assisted me in making this blackberry cobbler. This cobbler was nothing special, but I will never forget to joy that beamed from her eyes as we measured sugar, butter, and milk. What a sweet girl and what a sweet Summer.

 

Summer 2014, I am ready for you!

 

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Blog lovin’

Sometimes, when I have a few minutes to spare I will pull out my ipad to catch with some of my favorite bloggers via bloglovin. It is
 
a great app that keeps a record of all your favorite bloggers and their latest posts.
 
 
 
Last week (when I was making dinner), Deb’s latest post for double chocolate banana bread caught my eye. Deb is one of my
 
favorite bloggers because she is adventurous while being a realist and though she is very well-known, she remains unpretentious.
 
She is a miracle worker in her teenie-tiny 42 square foot NYC kitchen.

 banana   source

Before I knew it, my kitchen aid was creaming butter, sugar, and over-ripe bananas. {Hey, I had found a way to utilize them!} I
 
have loved everything that I have made from Deb’s website, so I am not sure why I was so impressed when I took my first bite of this
 
“bread.” Since my discovery of this banana bread, I have made it four different times and given it away to several people.
 
Everyone has, after their first bite, texted me requesting that I share the recipe. My own mother deemed it, “ridiculous!” I have
 
made it in both muffin and loaf form.  The muffin is perfect as a snack and the loaf is great as is or served as dessert with fresh
 
cream and berries.
 
 
 
 

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I always play around with the fat in recipes, because believe it or not— I do not prefer solely butter in quick breads or cakes. I
 
usually substitute part of the butter for oil, apple sauce, and/or yogurt for extra moisture. I have made this recipe to a T and played
 
around with the other three times. It is delicious any way and I suggest that you be your own chef! Choose your shape, your source
 
of fat, and even your mix ins! Try adding toasted pecans, dried cherries, or white chocolate chips to mix it up.
 
 
 
My 17 month old will take it any way that she can get it!
 
 
 
 

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Thank you, Deb for this fabulous recipe and thank you, Blog lovin’ for allowing me to keep in touch with my favorite bloggers on my
 
own time.
 
 

Double Chocolate Banana Bread

By: Smitten Kitchen

3 medium-to-large very ripe bananas
1/2 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chunks or chips

 

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9×5-inch loaf pan with a nonstick baking spray.

 

Mash bananas in the bottom of a large bowl. (You’ll have a little over 1 cup mashed banana total.) Whisk in melted butter, then brown sugar, egg, and vanilla. Place baking soda, salt, cinnamon (if using), flour and cocoa powder in a sifter or fine-mesh strainer and sift over wet ingredients. Mix the dry and wet ingredients with a ntil just combined. Stir in chocolate chunks or chips.

 

Pour into prepared pan and bake 55 to 65 minutes, until a tester or toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out batter-free. (A melted chocolate chip smear is expected, however.) Cool in pan for 10 to 15 minutes, then run a knife around the edge and invert it out onto a cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

 

 

One last photo of my tiny sous chef/taste tester
 
 

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That one ingredient

I am the kind of person who can not stand to see anything in the kitchen go to waste. I will see that I have some tomatoes on their way out and will spend $30 on additional ingredients in efforts to prevent them from being tossed. This is not an attribute I admire. Don’t get me wrong, the end result is always delicious and gives me peace of mind that I saved the tomatoes. However, it’s just a tomato right?

I have another problem, in that if there is a recipe I have been wanting to try and I want to force myself to make it- I just purchase the ingredients and then my waste-phobia eventually kicks in and sooner or later that dish is crossed off my edible bucket list. This didn’t exactly work when two years ago I purchased these maple flakes from Williams-Sonoma. I thought to myself, “If I buy these, I can finally make THE panini I’ve been wanted to make for a year!”

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source

Fast forward to last week— I did it! {What the first paragraph explains} I bought all of the ingredients so that I could utilize my maple flakes and voila! Dinner was served.

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My version

I will say that the Maple Flakes are not necessary to the recipe. I purchased them when we were DINKS and now see how much they cost $$$. As long as you follow the recipe using the maple syrup, I think that you will be ok. I also used chicken breasts because that is what I had in the freezer. I sliced the chicken before adding it to the panini for easier eating.

I am thankful for moments like this when I can poke fun at myself when I know that  in all actuality these are not legitimate problems. This blog just reveals the quirks of someone who is revealing a little bit of what it is like to have an infinite edible bucket list.

The original recipe can be found here at Williams-Sonoma.

Spring Has Sprung…

The wishful thinking of those all across the nation… That Snowmageddon will end and the cherry tree and tulips will spring forth. I am all for longer days and warmer temps, but I am still trying to sneak in a few more winter meals that I had yet to create this fall and winter. With T working crazy hours, I have 1-2 nights a week to scratch these experiments off of my edible bucket list. Over the past week, I made my first homemade lasagna (which is {hands down} the best one I have ever tasted!), a maple-black pepper chicken panini (that has been on my list for 3 years!) and chicken cassoulet (which I try to make at least once during the chillier months.)

This spring weather has brought back to life many things for me and my family. A desire to be more active, to purposefully live our lives, and {for me} to blog again.

Please bear with me as I re-aquaint myself with life on this side of the production line. I have big hopes for this little space, stay tuned as my thoughts are translated through my fingertips, to your computer screens, and {if I’ve done my part to inspire you} your kitchen table as well!

Bon Appeit!

Beginner’s Luck

I will be the first to tell you, that I don’t believe it luck. But listen up, I made ribs for the 4th of July this summer— and they were perfect.

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They were fall off the bone and melt in your mouth tender while also having depth of flavor and the perfect bark.

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If you are not familiar with Memphis, our claim to fame includes {but is not limited to} Elvis, the Peabody ducks, and BBQ.

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I was hesitant to make ribs all by myself, but since the only judges would be my siblings and my husband- I bit the bullet and took on the challenge. I made both baby back and St. Louis Style ribs, so I think either type will work {Texan’s you could even try beef ribs}. I highly recommend that you have some friends over this summer and make these ribs. They are fool-proof, tasty, and will give you a little taste of Memphis, Tennessee.

Go ahead and and make them this weekend as a send off to Summer 2013.

1 slab of ribs

yellow mustard

4 teaspoons smoked paprika

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper

2 teaspoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1. Mix all of the spices together in a small bowl.

2. Lay out the ribs on a large piece of foil. Generously coat one side of the ribs with mustard, sprinkle half of the spice mixture over the mustard.

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3. Flip the slab over and repeat step two on the other side.

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4. Fold up the ribs in the foil. Wrap up the ribs with two additional layers of foil and refrigerate over night or for 8 hours or so.

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5. Preheat over to 250. Place ribs {still wrapped in foil} on a rimmed baking sheet for 4 hours.

6. Pre-heat your outside grill to 400. Carefully unwrap the ribs {the foil will be hot, but the steam inside is even more so.}

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7. Grill the ribs for for 5 minutes on each side for great bark that screams, I’ve been smoking on a grill all day.

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Optional: serve with favorite bbq sauce for those who are like me who order dry ribs then slather them with sauce.

Summer’s Bounty

The thing about Summer in the South, is that it can be overwhelming. Overwhelmingly hot, overwhelmingly humid, and overwhelmingly plentiful.

Most people would not consider the last to be overwhelming, but for me there are too many recipes and too many ingredients to pack into such a short window of time. I have to remind my self that this is not a problem and to sit, back, relax, and enjoy the bounty.

When zipping through Kristen’s friday favorites last weekend while headed home from Nashville, I spotted this recipe and knew it deserved a spot on this summer’s edible bucket list. Basically, all of my favorite things on one plate!!

I am going to go ahead and say my photography has nothing on Tiegan’s beautiful photos, but it tasted fabulous and that is all that truly matters.

I changed the recipe up a bit, here is what I did.

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Corn-Cheddar Fritters inspired by: Half Baked Harvest 

Honey-Chipotle Vinaigrette 

In my small food processor, I put:

1 clove of garlic, peeled

2 T Honey

2 T Apple Cider Vinegar

1 chipotle pepper

1/4 t kosher salt

1/4 t freshly ground pepper

After the garlic and the chipotle pepper were minced, I added 1/2 c olive oil. Once emulsified, it was time to move on to the fritter!

Cheddar Corn Fritter

Combine the following in  a mixing bowl and mix until well-incorporated.

1 1/2 c corn (roughly the amount from two ears of corn is perfect)

1/2 c flour

1/4 c cornmeal

1/8 c sugar

1 T brown sugar

1/2 t baking powder

1/4 t salt

1/4 t pepper

1/2 c milk

2/3 c grated cheddar

oil, for frying.

After combining the above ingredients, I heated a skillet to medium heat and coated the pan with a little vegetable oil in order to keep the fritters from sticking. I used an ice cream scoop for easy scooping and even measurement. Cook the fritters for 3-5 minutes her side flipping when golden brown.

Assembly

Here is where the creativity really takes place. I had a “LTA” and T had a “BLTA”. You can really top these fritters however you please. When arranging our corn fritter stacks, I chose peppery arugula to serve as the lettuce, mashed up some avocado to spread atop each fritter, thinly sliced some ruby-red tomatoes, and for T added some crispy bacon to make it man-friendly.  I not only dressed the arugula with the honey-chipotle dressing, but I also drizzled it over the final product.

I cannot reiterate how much this dish screams summer and it’s ability to please a crowd. This recipe is quite simple and if the chipotle pepper steers you away, take my word for it when I say, it is not a spicy dressing and the honey and vinegar really even out the smokiness of the pepper. My husband is not one to ooh and ahh over food and this had him singing my praises.

 

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What are your favorite ways to use Summer’s Bounty? 

The New Rice & Beans

Ever wonder who decided to combine rice and beans or why this famous duo exists? Together, rice and beans are a complete protein making it nutritionally ok to eliminate meat from a meal. This is where quinoa, the superfood solution, enters center stage. Quinoa’s claim to fame is that it is a gluten- free, complete protein. One problem, the flavor of this cousin of spinach and beets is not anything to write home about. It is important to not only fully cook these seeds {not a grain- hence it’s G-free characteristic} yielding a fluffy yet chewy consistency, but also to generously season the quinoa throughout the cooking process. I never cook quinoa in plain water— instead I cook it in some sort of  water, stock, citrus juice, combination. After cooking the quinoa is it important to quench the thirst of the warm seeds with an additional flavor-packed liquid.

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Last weekend, I saw Giada De Laurentiis making some quinoa for a luncheon.  I instantly knew that this recipe was a good back bone for my newest quinoa experiment. Another win for Giada- cooking the quinoa in chicken stock and tossing the warm seeds in the cumin vinaigrette after cooking left a flavorful and filling dish. I have been eating this for lunch everyday this week and have still not been hungry around dinner time. Quinoa has incredible staying power and I continue to enjoy finding new ways to decorate the blank canvas that is quinoa.

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I omitted the sunflower seeds, used ground cumin, and after photographing added avocado and plain greek yogurt. The Avocado added a luxurious creaminess while lending its infamous nutty flavor and the yogurt helped create a little more of a dressing. I will spare you a picture of it all mixed together— it is not as pretty :)

If you have tried quinoa and are not a fan- was it well-seasoned? Make this recipe, then I grant you permission to cast your vote!

What is your favorite way to make/order quinoa? I have yet to be impressed by any quinoa that I have ordered in a restaurant.