Friday Favorites

{image via}

I’m currently en route to my happy place and I am so excited for a long weekend with my family.  I’m bummed that the whole family won’t be able to make it for an epic weekend “reunion” but it’s still destined to be an incredibly relaxing weekend.  All I know is that I’m planning on popping some bubbles and hopefully making some delicious food to share.  I hope you all enjoy your weekend – but take a little time to remember what the three-day weekend is all about:  the ultimate sacrifice of service men and women.

Favorite OhEmGee:  Fried Mozzarella and Caramelized Peach Caprese Burger.    I’m speechless.  This is what a summertime burger is all about.

Favorite Must-Have:  Grilled Kale BLT Dip.  Cocktail hours require appetizers.  And appetizers are better when when they include bacon.  And if I can’t convince the family that it’s necessary, you’ll find me with alone on the back deck with a bowl of this and a bottle of wine.

Favorite Decadence:  Strawberry Cookies and Cream Cake.  Between the cookies and the frosting and the in-season strawberries, I just can’t stop thinking about this combination.  And if you’re not interested in this cake, I’m not sure we can be friends.

Favorite Statement:  Picnic Days Tee.  I want, I want!

Favorite Crave:  Ina Garten’s Lemon Bars.  Bright and sunny flavors of citrus with a buttery rich crust.

Favorite Luxury:  Lustro Face Oil 2.  I’ve been adding a couple of drops of this oil to my face cream in the morning and at night.  It’s incredibly nourishing and smell divine.

Favorite Grilled:  Proscuitto Wrapped Lamb Burgers with Bruschetta.  A twist on the traditional burger and the weather is perfect for firing up the grill.

Favorite Uniform:  White jeans + a tunic + wedges.  I could live in this outfit.  Comfortable and chic.

Favorite Refreshing:  Blackberry Ginger Smash with Thyme.  You can find me with this cocktail (add gin or vodka) and a book for the next three days.

Cheers!

 

{virtual} coffee chat

{image}

If we were having coffee this morning…I’d tell you about how excited I am for Spring/Summer produce!  Last week our friends came over and brought all the ingredients for a salad – and all the ingredients were from their garden except for the cheese and almonds.  Duh.  But I can’t wait for our garden to start producing veggies.

{lettuce, strawberries, beets, feta, marcona almonds, lemon-herb vinaigrette}

If we were having coffee this morning…I’d let you know that our garden growing!  It’s amazing how much it’s grown in the past 10 days.  I cannot wait for homegrown corn, bell peppers, heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, leeks, onions, zucchini and jalapeno.  Big Guy is most excited about the zucchini because he wants me to make another batch of this lasagna.

If we were having coffee this morning…We’d talk about how delicious strawberries are right now.  They’re at their peak and I can’t get enough.  Hopefully I’ll grab some local ones this weekend and whip up something delicious to share with the family.

If we were having coffee this morning…I’d share my new favorite margarita recipe.  Because they were incredible.  My sister-in-laws (hey hey, Sarah and Stephens) visited last Friday and we enjoyed fresh Strawberry-Coconut Margaritas, guacamole and caramelized pineapple quesadillas.  We had an absolute blast and I was so thankful to spend some quality time with the college graduates.

If we were having coffee this morning…I’d tell you about how my Iron Horse wine shipment finally arrived.  Big Guy The Easter Bunny signed-me up for Two Bottle Club and so now I have something to look forward to every month.  Iron Horse bubbles are my new favorite “fancy” bubbles and I can’t wait to try the limited release Summit Cuvee but I was also excited to see a bottle of Chardonnay in the box.  I enjoy trying new wine so much.

If we were having coffee this morning…We’d talk about more than drinking.  Wink Wink.  I’d tell you about the baby shower that we hosted for our friend Kristen last weekend.  The past few years have been wedding heavy but it looks like the times are ‘a changing and we’re on to the years of baby showers.  Baby Max is a lucky guy to have Kristen and Adam as parents.  But I can also say that we’re all so lucky to have a great group of ladies to experience the twists and turns of life with.

If we were having coffee this morning…I’d let you in on a secret.  I was “in charge” of the food for the shower on Sunday.  And while I made most of the food myself, pimiento cheese is one thing I have no problem buying pre-made.  But only if it’s Palmetto brand.  It’s seriously the best.

If we were having coffee this morning…I’d tell you about another grocery store find.  But this is a new-to-me product.  While grocery shopping last week, I stumbled across Hope Hummus.  Holy hummus!  The Thai Coconut Curry is amazing.  A little spicy, a little sweet – kind of exotic tasting.  Go find some!

If we were having coffee this morning…I’d leave you with this truth:

Tuscan Steak Salad with Broiled Parmesan Tomatoes

Some may view salads as “girly” or as “rabbit food.”

They just haven’t been eating the right salads.

Because salads aren’t just for girls.

Salads can be hearty and filling.

Salads can be topped with steak.

The steak is rubbed with a mixture of garlic, olive oil, rosemary, lemon zest and pepper.  Once the steak is seasoned, allow it to rest for about 15 minutes to really let the flavors soak into the meat.  Rosemary and lemon smell amazing together, by the way.

While the steak was resting, I prepped the tomatoes.  Ripe tomatoes were halved and then sprinkled with a cheesy topping of Parmesan, garlic, pepper, salt and rosemary.

The salad greens were tossed with a simple dressing of EVVO, balsamic vinegar and mustard.

Then I grilled the steak to medium-rare and allowed it to rest while the tomatoes broiled.

Slice the steak, assemble the salad and you’re ready to eat.

Typically I chop up a tomato and throw it into the salad but I loved the contrast of the cold greens with the warm steak and hot tomatoes.

The flavors were incredible – lemon zest on steak may be my new favorite.

But then again, lemon anything is my favorite at the moment.

No wimpy salads around here.

 

 

Salmon with Lime-Soy Glaze and Crunchy Bok Choy Slaw

Despite sounding fancy, this dinner is incredibly easy to prep and comes together in 20 minutes.

It’s a great week night or weekend option.

The broiler is your best friend and ensures that you have a sweet crust and crispy skin without overcooking the salmon.

On the side, a crunchy slaw with just enough spice.

The salmon is brushed with a glaze made up of tamari, lime juice and garlic before being broiled.  Halfway during the cooking process, brush the salmon with even more glaze.  Sticky and sweet!

The boy choy slaw is simply thinly sliced bok choy and sliced bell pepper that is tossed with a dressing.  The dressing is a mixture of rice vinegar for some tang, sesame oil for nuttiness and Sriracha for a little heat.

Salmon is one of my favorite types of fish to eat and I don’t eat it near enough.

Incredibly delicious with lots of colors and flavors and textures.

Balsamic, Beet and Berry Salad

I have eaten this salad three times in the past week.

And I’m still not tired of it.  It’s easy to assemble.  And incredibly healthy.  It’s the perfect salad for Monday.

bbb

Local salad greens.
Baby beets.
Blackberries (or strawberries or blueberries).
Goat cheese (feta would also be delicious).
Cashews (or pecans or almonds).
Balsamic vinaigrette (EVOO + balsamic vinegar + S + P)

So much good stuff.

What’s your favorite salad combination?

 

Friday Favorites

We’re halfway through May.  And it’s proving to be a ridiculously fun yet exhausting month.  This weekend begins with two special visitors (perhaps a Mexican themed evening is in the works) and ends with a baby shower for a dear friend.  It’s going to be a good weekend – I can feel it.

So before we get this Friday show on the road – here are my favorites of the week!

Favorite Small Bite:  Herbed Goat Cheese Balls.  This is an appetizer that I could easily make into my dinner.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, carbs + cheese = everything.

Favorite Want:  Pineapple Necklace.  I’ve been flirting with the idea of a delicate necklace.

Favorite Crave:  Malo’s Beef and Pickle Tacos.  Some will call this combo weird.  I call it amazing.  Crunchy, salty cheesy.  Yes, please.

Favorite Must-Read:  1,000 Foods to Eat Before You Die.  I can only imagine the places I’ll want to travel after reading this book.

Favorite Drool:  Cold Chocolate Snacking Cake.  Oh, my heavens.  That frosting, though.

Favorite Flavors:  Coconut Honey Filipino Chicken Adobo Skewers.  Put ‘da lime in ‘da coconut…

Favorite Beauty:  BeautyCounter Gentle Exfoliator Polishing Cream.  I placed an order for a few items last Saturday and I’m so excited to add this to my routine.  I got to try this before I bought it and it’s the best face wash I’ve ever tried.

Favorite Upgrade:  Grilled Buffalo Chicken Caesar Salad.  I love buffalo wing.  Big Guy loves Caesar salad.  Combine the two and you have a winning dinner.

Favorite Fancy:  Blackberry-Thyme Gin Fizz.  I think “I have to check on the herb garden” is a perfect excuse to make this pretty drink.

Cheers!

Thai Basil Chicken Stir-Fry

This week has been another crazy week with various after work happenings.  But I try not to let “busy” be an excuse to not cook and eat a delicious, healthy dinner.

The key for me is prepping.  Oh, and menu planning for the week.

On this particular night, I prepped all the ingredients between the time I got home from work and another meeting I had that evening.  Cutting and chopping and measuring is typically one of the biggest time consuming parts of cooking.

Big Guy was in charge of the rice and got working on that while I was at my meeting.  As soon as I walked through the door, everything was ready to be stir-fried – which is one of the fastest cooking methods possible.

stir fry

 

The flavor comes from the serrano chile (I find serrano chiles to be very similar to jalapenos), basil, garlic and the sauce.  The sauce is a combo of tamari (instead of hoisin), sugar, water and fish sauce.  And the rice also has some added flavor from the addition of soy sauce and minced ginger.

The peppers stay crisp and give the entire stir-fry freshness that is so welcoming with the punch of heat from the chiles.  Basil provides herbaceous hints with every bite that I’m absolutely obsessed with.

Busy nights happen.  And these day they seem to come around more often.  But a nice warm, home-cooked dinner is a nice way to escape the business of life.

Even if it is for just 15 minutes.