Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Markaritas!


What goes well with Tacos on a Tuesday!? Margaritas! Duh. Or in our case, the ever popular Markarita. No, really. Pulling this deliciousness out of the archives because Summer is around the corner and I wish I had these on tap. This is one of my most popular recipes to date and definitely one of the top five recipes requested by all of my real life friends and family. I've always loved margaritas but I came to the realization recently that I think I love them so much because Mark and I drank them on our first date! And here we are still sipping away on these things.

Back when we started reading a ton of Paleo books and blogs, we learned that Tequila is one of the better liquor choices. While all alcohol isn't necessarily "paleo approved", Tequila is a cleaner option because instead of being made with grains, it comes from the agave plant. This is why when you're buying your tequila, make sure it's made with 100% agave as some will have fillers like sugar and grain additives. 

I don't claim that this is a healthy cocktail, but it's certainly a smarter option for happy hour- and I promise you won't miss the crazy amounts of sugary sweet mixers. Fresh lime juice is stellar but when you don't have time to squeeze ALL THOSE LIMES, I found a great organic lime juice at Harris Teeter with an impressive ingredients list of only one thing: organic limes! It was delicious. While these can be made in larger quantities and served to a crowd in a pitcher, I still prefer to make these margaritas one at a time! They are just so good. 

Enjoy your Taco Tuesday!!! With a Markarita please. (and don't forget the salt rim!)

Markaritas

2 oz. tequila
2 oz. fresh lime juice
1 tsp. organic raw agave or honey
lime seltzer water 
fresh lime wedges

I like to serve these in lowball rocks glasses. Start by measuring out the tequila and lime juice and pour into the glasses. Add in the agave (or sweetener of choice) and mix with a bar whisk. Finish what a pour of seltzer and add ice, then garnish with a lime wedge. 

Monday, May 14, 2018

Fresh Strawberry Pie


Strawberry season is here and we finally made our way down to the Strawberry patch near our house last week. Will and Kate were alllll about it and actually did a great job of finding the ripe red berries. Miss Kate was insistent on carrying her basket the entire time, no matter how heavy it got. 

         

As soon as we got in the car, Will told me that we needed to make a pie because it was his favorite. NEWS TO ME. I NEVER make pies but when he said that's what he wanted to make, we made a pit stop at Harris Teeter on the way home for a few ingredients that we didn't have. 



Starting the week off on a sweet note with this yumminess. This pie is one of my favorites and I pulled it out of the blog archives from our Illinois days. My mom always makes a blueberry version in the Summer and this Strawberry one is just as delicious. I posted this Fresh Berry Pie back in 2012 and all that's different is that this pie only uses strawberries and I used strawberry JELL-O instead of mixed berry for the glaze. The freshly picked berries make this pie extra delicious, but what I love most about this pie recipe is the flaky, slightly sweet crush. The berry glaze seeps into that bottom and is just so good- the most perfect Springtime dessert!

Fresh Strawberry Pie

Preheat oven to 450 degrees

Crust:
1/2 cup canola oil
2 Tbsp. milk
1.5 cups all purpose flour
1.5 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt

Mix flour, sugar and salt together in a mixing bowl and set aside. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together canola oil and milk. Slowly add the flour mixture to the oil mixture. Mix until it becomes thick and dough-like, then transfer to a 9" pie dish. Starting from the center of the dish, spread the crust until it is covering the entire dish in an even layer. Bake crust for 7-10 minutes, or until crust starts to brown. Let cool.

Wash and dry berries, then slice and place inside the crust. 

Filling:

2 quarts fresh strawberries, sliced
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
3.5 Tbsp. Strawberry JELL-O
1 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups water

Combine starch, JELL-O, water and sugar in a small bowl and set aside. In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil. Slowly add the JELL-O mixture stirring constantly with a whisk. Return to a boil and keep it there for one minute. Remove from the heat and let cool. 

Drizzle topping over berries and refrigerate for 4-5 hours to let the pie set before serving. 

Friday, May 11, 2018

Friday Faves


HAPPY FRI-YAY! It's been a fun filled busy week over here! We celebrated Mark's birthday last weekend with family and the two of us even got to sneak away on Sunday for a day date to the PGA golf tournament that was being held here in Charlotte. I'm a golf fan by marriage and we had the best day. 




I attended a special Mother's Day Brunch at Will's preschool yesterday and it was just about the sweetest thing ever. They walked us to our seats, sang a few sweet songs and served us our brunch! I wasn't prepared and totally forgot to bring kleenex. Such a fun little morning with my boy. 


Here are some of my favorite finds for the week:

Spindrift cocktails are my jam right now! I especially like that it's a "cleaner" cocktail option, especially during the week! So perfect for Summer and they have tons of ideas listed HERE on their site. My favorite is Tito's vodka, a splash of cucumber Spindrift and some lime. 

I love a good neutral nail color and I recently added this one to my collection! (Essie- Lighten the Mood!)

Currently reading: Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis. I'm obsessed! So much goodness in these pages and I want to go back and reread it with a highlighter! #nerdalert

Not sure how this happened, but I've turned into a garden lover. I have big plans for our yard but I started out with outdoor planters and pots. Next up, Hydrangea bushes, maybe some peonies and hopefully a little herb garden situation that we can use this Summer! 

I used this Roasted Cauliflower, Tomato and Chick Pea Bowl as my dinner inspiration last night! I added some pesto to the roasted veggies and topped it all with some Italian sausage. So easy and good! 

I made a quick batch of pesto this week and have plenty leftover so this pesto stuffed flank steak is calling my name! Adding it to our weekend menu for sure. 


If you've never made the New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies...well, then I'll leave that right here. 


Thursday, May 10, 2018

Lemon Thyme French 75


Coming in hot today with a cocktail recipe for your weekend happy hours this Mother's Day weekend. It's only Thursday so I'm giving you a quick minute to gather your ingredients and get to work! 

Cocktails have been my go to happy hour choice lately. I love to sip on something while I'm cooking dinner for my family or when Mark and I are sitting outside at the end of the day. I've been playing around with different mixers and liquors and I've decided to experiment more this Summer. Mixing flavors is fun and cocktail making, I've realized, is a bit of an art.

I'm obsessed with this drink and have my sister and future brother in law to thank for it. It's fresh, slightly bubbly and light for the warm Summer days ahead. This lemon thyme simple syrup is going to have a permanent spot in my fridge this Summer as I've been adding it to all kinds of things. It's especially delicious with Tito's Vodka and a splash of cucumber spindrift. Back to these French 75s though... they're just so good. I think what I love most about this cocktail is that it can take you from brunch to lunch to happy hour- seriously delicious and appropriate at any time of day! Lemon, thyme, gin and bubbles. You know you want it. 



Lemon Thyme French 75

2 oz. gin
1.5 oz. champagne or prosecco
1 oz. lemon thyme simple syrup (recipe below)
sprig of fresh thyme

Mix the gin and simple syrup with ice and strain into your serving glass. To with chilled champagne/prosecco and garnish with a fresh sprig of thyme.

Lemon Thyme Simple Syrup

1 cup cugar
1 cup water
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup fresh thyme

Combine sugar and water in a pot and bring to a simmer until the sugar dissolves. Add the lemon juice but do not let it come back to a simmer. Turn off the heat and add the thyme, letting it steep in the syrup until it reaches room temperature. Strain into a clean bottle and store in the fridge for up to two weeks.



Wednesday, May 9, 2018

May Cookbook Club: Giada's Feel Good Food



For the fourth installment of Cookbook Club, we chose Giada's Feel Good Food. Giada DeLaurentiis has long been one of my all time favorites from the Food Network. I own almost all of her cookbooks and she is often my go-to when I go to grab a book from my cookbok shelf. Her recipes never disappoint and since we both come from Italian roots so much of how she cooks is the kind of food that I love most.




I love this book so much because it doesn't focus so much on any certain "diet" but a healthy, wholesome way of living and eating. Giada's balanced approach is what I gravitate so much to in this book. I don't think you should completely deprive yourself of anything and having a treat every now and then is never a bad thing. This book is filled with tons of recipes using fresh, wholesome ingredients. She takes a simple approach to healthy and balanced eating and uses food in a positive and nourishing way. 

This toast may look like nothing but it is EVERYTHING. We may be living in an avocado toast world but there are so many more toast options to explore. I'm a huge fan of ricotta cheese and have even been known to eat it plain in a bowl with a drizzle of olive oil and some salt and pepper. The texture is so light and fluffy and it truly takes on any flavors that you combine it with. The mixture of ricotta, cinnamon, vanilla and a tiny bit of sweet from honey is just perfection. Topped on a warm piece of bread and you are winning. I subbed honey instead of sugar and used Ezekial bread. This is delicious for breakfast, or a sweet afternoon snack.

In a world of avocado toast, be the ricotta toast! Seriously though. All this toast talk makes me want to have a toast party.



Chocolate Ricotta Toast

1 cup fresh full-fat ricotta cheese
2 Tbsp. honey
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
4 slices of bread
Dark chocolate, for shaving

In a bowl, mix ricotta, honey cinnamon and vanilla using a rubber spatula. Set aside. 

Toast slices of bread and spread evenly with a generous amount of the ricotta mixture. Grate chocolate on top of the toast, fully coating each slice.


Make sure to pop over to Allie's blog to see what she made from the book and link up your own recipes below!



Friday, April 20, 2018

Friday Faves

A little Friday Faves to kick off the weekend here! It's been a great week here and I hope it has been at your homes, too. 



Beautycounter came out with some new products last week that I'm itching to try! I've been so happy with my Countermatch Adaptive Moisture Lotion and have high hopes for this Cleansing Milk. Also, if you aren't already familiar with Beautycounter products or want to try and don't know where to start, let's chat! I cannot say enough wonderful things about their skincare.


Are you a contact lens wearer? If you are, you know what an expense this is (especially if you wear dailies, like me!) Well, I have found the holy grail of contact ordering and cannot believe I've waited until now to share. Coastal.com is the best and will literally match the lowest price you can find from any online retailer, plus offer you and additional 10% off. Their customer service is outstanding to boot! If you are in need of placing a contact lens order, definitely give Coastal a try.

Giada's new cookbook is out and it has me craving all of the Italian foods. My copy is on its way to me now!



After ordering their collagen peptides, I started getting emails from Further Foods. As I've tried to unsubscribe from emails and declutter my inbox, I always keep the Further Foods emails because they are always full of tons of good and healthy recipes! You can sign up for their newsletter by going to their website. Definitely worth subscribing to.

We are popcorn obsessed in our house and I can confidently say we have found the superior popping kernels! My sister in law did mega research on this and when we were at her house visiting a few months ago, she made the most delicious popcorn I've ever had. Popped in coconut oil and topped with unsalted butter and salt- the pieces were almost soft, super fluffy and barely any kernels remained unpopped. I've now dubbed these the magical popping kernels. You can find them HERE on Amazon. For my stovetop popcorn method, visit my post here from 2012 Sub out the canola oil for coconut oil- it tastes SO MUCH BETTER. 

A few tasty eats that have caught my eye this week:

Garlic Butter White Wine Pasta with Fresh Herbs. YES. JUST YES.
Pesto and Burrata Bucatini. Are we sensing a theme here!?
Thai Turkey Burgers. When in doubt- PALEO BURGERS. 
Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice. A good base for all those Paleo/Whole30 friendly recipes.
Potato Avocado Toast with Perfectly Poached Eggs. BRUNCH GOALS.

Enjoy your weekends!

*post contains affiliate links but all opinions are my own. thank you for reading! 


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Cookbok Club: Julia Child's Ratatouille




Julia Child is probably one of the very first cooking shows I ever watched. Her voice is one of the most recognizable ones ever and she is beyond respected in the food industry. Her book Mastering the Art of French Cooking is a staple in kitchens across America and has been for over forty years. Kitchen beginners and experts alike can find something to make within the pages of this book- and can learn to master the art of French cuisine. Now that I have made something from this book, I feel like I'm really winning in the kitchen. Ha! 



I'm a veggie lover and as much as we eat them, I've never made this classic dish. It's so basic, yet so much more than just sauteing or roasting your veggies- there's a real method here and that's how all of Julia Child's recipes seem to be. So simple, yet so complicated. That's the best way to describe this veggie side dish. 

Word to the wise- this isn't exactly a quick and easy dish. It takes time, and had I done some extra prep work, I probably wouldn't have had to take some short cuts. I'll definitely be making this again when I have a few extra moments to take my time and love it into existence (like risotto). Regardless, this is full of flavor and I love that it focuses on simple, fresh ingredients. I LOVE eggplant and although the recipe calls for peeling it, next time I will definitely leave the skin on. I also left the skin on my tomatoes and didn't seed them to save on time. 

This was wonderful served alongside my Oven Roasted Lemon Caper Cod. Let me know if you try making this classic French dish!





Julia Child's Ratatioulle
recipe from Julia Child

1 large eggplant
1 large zucchini
1 tsp. salt, plus more for seasoning
4-6 Tbsp. olive oil, divied
1/2 pound thinly sliced yellow onion (about 1.5 cups)1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 green pepper, thinly sliced
2 coves mashed garlic
pepper
2-3 roma tomatoes, peeled and then seeded and juiced
3 Tbsp. minced parsley

Peel the eggplant and cut lengthwise slices about 3/8" thick about 3" long and 1" wide. Slice the ends off the zucchini and cut into similar size slices as the eggplant. Toss the eggplant and zucchini in a bowl with some salt and let it sit for 30 minutes. Once it has sat, pat dry with paper towel. 

In a 10-12" inch skillet with 4 Tablespoons of olive oil, sautee the zucchini and eggplant for about one minute on each side, or until slightly browned. Transfer to another dish.

In the same skillet, cook onions and peppers and add additional oil if needed. Cook until tender, but not browned. Stir in the smashes garlic and add some salt and pepper to season.

Slice tomato into strips and lay it on top of the peppers and onions. Cover the skillet and cook for five minutes, or until the tomatoes have gotten juicy. Uncover, raise the heat and boil for several minutes until the juice has almost entirely evaporated.

Transfer all but 1/3 of the tomato mixture to another dish. Top the remaining 1/3 of tomato mixture with 1 Tablespoon of fresh parsley. Arrange half of the zucchini and eggplant mixture on top, then half of the remaining tomatoes and parsley. Put in the rest of the eggplant and zucchini and top with the remaining tomatoes and parsley. 

Cover and simmer on low for 10 minutes. Uncover, tip the skillet and baste with the juices. Raise heat and cook, uncovered, for about 15 more minutes, basting often.


Link up your Julia Child recipes below and don't forget- next month's book is Giada's Feel Good Food! We hope to see what some of you have been cooking!