Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tis the Season for Patios and Summertime Salads

What is Summer without patios and summertime salads?!?!

My inspiring recipe was Broccoli Salad from my good friend, Minne-sot-da, which she so kindly provided me at my bridal shower a couple of years ago  :)

Side Note:  This was such a GREAT idea, I have to share it!!  My sister in law, and later my bff/bridesmaid,  provided blank recipe cards to shower guests.  Each guest was asked to share a recipe with us, the soon to be Mr. and Mrs.  The initial contributors were sisters, grandmothers, aunts, cousins and good friends.

Among the generous wedding gifts, this was perhaps one of my favorite items at the end of the day...Hubs and I had the start of a wonderful family recipe box!  

Since then I have continued to add to this box, noting on cards where recipes first premiered or were received.  When I look through it now I have happy and fond memories of the person and/or event behind the recipe...and I know it will be a lasting memory and wonderful tradition for our children.  

Being the planner and daydreamer I am, each time I add a new recipe I take a moment to ponder what it will be like to share with my children the story behind each one  :)  

OK, now back to Broccoli Salad...YUM!

I had not had this salad in YEARS!!!

It's something about the combo that makes this such a satisfying summer salad...

Cool crunchy broccoli, sweetened mayo, dried cranberries, crisp/salty bacon and savory red onion.  

I also decided to try this Roasted Edamame Salad...I think the recipe came from foodnetwork.com

Pretty simple, but quite refreshing.

Roasted edamame and corn, tossed with fresh tomatoes, onion and basil...dressed with olive oil, vinegar and salt/pepper.

It's a keeper and will be made again...with the potential of being added to the family recipe box under the index of 'Salads' ;)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Rewinding to Mother's Day 2011

 Pregnancy is an interesting experience.
I spent the entire first trimester saying "it's early."
I think I was trying to prevent myself from connecting with the growing being inside of me...'just in case something happened.'

Still today I consider myself more a Mom-to-Be rather than Mother at this stage...after all making it through 9 months and the birthing process are the actual rite of passage into motherhood right? 

(This pic was our first doc appt to confirm there was in fact something there...you know, in case the 7 at home pregnancy tests I took were wrong haha!)

At just 6 weeks pregnant fell the 2011 Mother's Day. 

My Mother and Sister in Law are both excited about the coming addition and decided to share their day of glory with me, a wide-eyed soon to be.

Now if you have not picked up on it by now, my Sister in Law (aka Mama Sox) is one heck of a cook and party planner.  For this year's celebration we came together for brunch. 

My contribution was something new...

My cake was too dense and a bit dry.  The custard was over thickened.  However the chocolate ganache was great (and the same recipe I had used on the Mexican Chocolate Cake.)!

I am not sure I would say these suckers texturally tasted as great as they looked, but the recipe has got some potential and is worth another shot.

Not to mention Boston Cream Pie is my Sister in Law's favorite...so it was the thought that really counted on this Mother's Day :)

The rest of our meal was AMAZING!

Bagels, Smoked Salmon Spread (sadly I had to skip this stuff), Steamed Fiddleheads, Pasta Salad, Quiche, Salad, Soup and an Oatmeal Rhubarb Bread (from my Mother in Law).

Mini Sox was so appropriately decked out in his Stormtrooper costume from the previous Halloween...guess this is what happens when 5 year olds start dressing themselves haha!

 My plate was big and scrumptious! 

Note that delicious bagel was a fennel and salt bagel...first time I'd ever tried it and SO GOSH DARN DELICIOUS!!!

Oh and so was the Carrot Ginger Soup!!

Now bringing us back to the present...here is a side by side comparison of the last week. 
Not too much has changed in the bump area, but I am beginning to feel more pregnant and even catch myself touching my own belly from time to time :)

Friday, July 15, 2011

When You're In a Pickle for Pickles...

Let there be pickles!

No that's not the crazy pregnancy hormones talking...at least not when I made this batch of quick pickles.

Early on this summer we had dinner with the Sox Family on their Patio.

That morning at Mini Sox's tee ball game I asked him what I should bring for dinner that night.  His response (of course accompanied by a big smile) was pickles!

Now I could have taken the easy way out and bought a jar of those delicious, crisp, mouthwatering, briny pieces of heaven from Claussen...ok, ok, now that might be the pregnancy hormones talking now haha!

But instead I decided to make some pickles myself...

I sliced up some small cucumbers and cherry peppers, then packed them into a jar with lots of dill. 

Over medium heat, I simmered some white vinegar, sugar, salt and water, then poured it over the contents of the packed jar.

I allowed the jar to sit in the sun for an hour or so, shaking from time to time.

As a predinner snack, these pickles were awesome! 
Fresh, crisp, briny, slightly spicy, and quick.

The Little Ms. Homemaker Part of Things

When I first began this blog I was on a quest...

This was my journey to learn, as a 20-something, how to make delicious food and try new things. 

My motivation?   Practice makes perfect

In my mind, if I practiced recipes and cooking techniques now, I would be able to produce delicious meals in a snap for my 'family' later

Now I present to you, The Cheese Sandwich.

Yup, it's as simple as it looks and sounds - 12 Grain Bread, VT Cheddar Cheese, Pickle, Lettuce, Tomato, Sweet Onion and Mayo.

I'd also like to share this beautiful fruit salad.

Which is representative of my recent fruit mania.

Why the flash back to my purpose?  And why the heck am I sharing of these two meals...or rather cravings??

That's right folks, we have a 'bun in the oven' and I am on verge of becoming a bona fide Little Ms. Homemaker!

We're 16 weeks along now, with 24 to go  :o)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Are you READY?!?! Return of Grilled Pizzas :)

Believe it or not, Hubs still had not tried Grilled Pizzas!

Hubs' April deployment last year meant he missed a number of things...

He missed the rainy mud season indicative of a New England Spring.  He missed the beautiful shades of green and blossoming flowers of June.  He missed the family BBQs and beach time with friends in July.  He missed the sunsets and s'mores of August.  He missed the VT fall, returning to cool November and making it home just in time for the snow.

Although he was in 100+ degree weather in the middle of a desert, those 7 months away from the beautiful changing seasons must have felt like hibernation.

With the official start of summer just around the corner, Hubs has already begun to take in and indulge in all that he missed last year while overseas.  He has taken back the duty of mowing our lawn, trimming our trees, working on the garden, etc...it's pretty great to have a man around the house again :)

Can you believe I've been so absent minded to forget Hubs had not experienced the ease, versatility and tastiness of the grilled pizza?!?!

Pizza 1:  Tomato, Basil, Olive Oil
Big Pizza 2:  Spinach and Garlic Chicken Sausage, Mushrooms, Bell Peppers and Red Onion

Pizza 3:  Leftovers from Pizza 1 and Big Pizza 2 with Turkey Pepperoni...'The Supreme'
(btw did you know Turkey Pepperoni has 70% less fat than the regular stuff and still tastes pretty darn good?!?!)
Fresh Mozzarella for all 3 Grilled Pizza Creations

Homemade pizza sauce for Big Pizza 2 and Pizza 3.
The sauce was a simmered combo of Canned Roma Tomatoes (2010 garden), tomato paste, fresh thyme (2011 garden), garlic, red pepper flake and salt/pepper. 
This sauce was super concentrated flavor with a spicy bite!
Over by the Naan in our grocery store, I noticed this new round Flatbread Pizza Crust, so thought we'd give it a whirl!

All the toppings were piled on and they hit the grill.

(In case you need a quick refresher...before piling on, I brush the bottoms of the crust with a bit of canola oil, and then the tops with some olive oil.  The goodies are piled on and the pizzas are grilled over indirect heat)
Big Pizza 2 on top of the new Flatbread Crust (which I will buy again).
Pizza 1 and Pizza 3 on Garlic Naan, yum!

Fresh Basil was added to finish off Pizza 1 and...
and Pizza 3
Big Pizza 2 all melty and done

After spending years in search of a good pizza joint for us, we thought we had found 'The One' just a couple months ago.  Let me tell you...these grilled beauties tasted so good, Hubs said they were the best pizzas we'd had in a long time...and better than pizza from 'The One'!

While it's nice to hear such positive remarks on the grilled pizza creations...'The One' is still going to be our go-to when even grilled pizzas are too much and I simply need a night off from the kitchen  ;)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Spring Veg-e-ta-bles

I finally made it to the Farmers Market!

I knew there wouldn't be much outside of garden starters this early in the season, but I was hopeful I'd at least be able to pick up salad greens for the week...and well, to be honest - the Tibetan Lady's Dumplings and Hot Sauce :)

Luckily for me my pal Blue Light agreed to accompany me!!

Once there I was delightfully reminded of spring vegetables...there was an abundance of fresh cut asparagus.

I payed $5.50 lb for this stuff...seems pretty outrageous to me, yet so Btown  :P

So much for Farm Prices at the farmer's market this trip! 

This is once again another reminder that I really need to commit to a CSA next year.

So as not to ruin or cover up the bare flavors of the asparagus, I used just a touch of oil, salt and pepper and then hit the grill.

Rotating every so often until softened.

I also whipped up some great turkey burgers.

I used fresh parsley (from our garden!), garlic, salt and pepper. 

For grilling I used a brush of canola oil on the burgs to prevent them from sticking to the grates.

Bunless grilled turkey burgers and grilled farmers market asparagus.

We did have some store bought Taziki Dip leftover from the weekend, so used that as a condiment for our burgers.

Easy, fresh and healthy dinner  :)

Incidentally, I was reminded of this post due to some awful asparagus I picked up at the grocery store for dinner last night.  Now that I've been treated to the farm fresh bundles of this stuff...it's hard to go back.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

My Memorial Day

We had a busy, productive, relaxing day...

Pups was chillin' and blowing bubbles.

Pretty good one eh?

I am not sure what it was, but this Memorial Day was one of the most satisfying days I've had off from work in a long time. 

I did not do anything special. 

Actually, my day was rather uneventful...
Early AM walk with Pups, breakfast, nap in the sun, grocery shopping, a bit of gardening, the dreaded hosing (aka bath) for Pups, washed the car, lounged, took another nap in the sun and then made dinner.

It was the first day that it really felt like summer was almost here :)

To finish off the most perfect weekend, I made a summer inspired dinner.

A Refreshing Salad
(Tomato, Mozzarella, Basil, Balsamic, Olive Oil, and Salt/Pepper.)

and Grilled Steak Tips.

It was honestly and truly the most relaxed of times...as I sit here now recounting the experience, I think I'm already due for another!