Friday Favorites

{image via}

Hello Friday!  OH, and hello to all you guys.  Can you believe that this weekend marks our 2 year anniversary?  Craziness.  Some day’s if feels as if it happened yesterday and other day’s it feels like decades ago.  But every day it feels pretty amazing to be married to someone that makes you laugh every.single.day.  Anyways, we’re celebrating our anniversary all weekend long with sunshine and sand but we did follow the “cotton” tradition when it came to gifts.  I got amazing new curtains for our living room makeover and he got new bath towels (hah!).

I hope you guys have a wonderful weekend and I think I’m going to go find a mojito.  See ya next week!

Favorite Lust:  I’m dying (in a good and bad way) over the print.  I simply can’t justify that amount for a piece of cloth that is going to get sandy and ultimately end up at the bottom of my beach bag.  Hey, Tory, why don’t you make a line just for Target.  (If you know me, you know I’m being incredibly sarcastic.)

Favorite Lessons:  5 Things I Learned from Working in  at Test Kitchen.  My dream job.

Favorite Wake-Up:  Havarti Breakfast Biscuits with Jalapeno, Bacon and Arugula.   This is SO happening in my house.  Preferably with a mimosa on the side.

Favorite Indulge:  Crispy Avocado Fries with Melty Cheese Dip.  Avocados are so healthy, why not trash ’em up?

Favorite Travel:  Spain is slowing inching it’s way up my list of “Travel the World” – especially after reading this article.  

Favorite Slice:  “Hot and Honey” Buffalo Chicken Pizza.  I know I’ve made pizza similar to this before but I just love pizza so much.

Favorite Flavors:  Sliders with Jalapeno Burger Sauce.  With homemade potato buns?  Stop it.

Favorite Fashion:  I’m kind of obsessing over this tank.

Favorite Sweet:  Banoffee Pie.  Just don’t tell Big Guy it’s vegan, gluten-free, and refined sugar-free.

Favorite Buzz:  Champagne Mojito.  Weekends are meant to be celebrated and mojitos are meant for warmer weather.

Cheers.

Dijon-Herb Chicken Thighs

You have no idea how happy this plate of food made me and Big Guy.

Not only is it a fuss-free dinner but Big Guy got to fire up the grill and I was able to use herbs from the garden.

Soon enough I’ll be able to whip up salads like this with veggies from our backyard.

The Dijon-Herb Chicken Thighs start with a quick marinade of olive oil, parsley, chives, Dijon mustard (I used a sweet balsamic dijon mustard that I brought home from Sonoma), and garlic.  And while the chicken doesn’t require any marinade time – I decided to put it all in a large zip-lock bag about an hour before it was time to throw them on the grill.  A little infusion of flavors is always a good thing.

And for the salad, I simply sliced up a handful or two of grape tomatoes and quartered cucumber slices before dressing them with olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper.

Before serving, I chopped up some of our purple basil and sweet basil to complete the salad.

 

chicken

 

 

The marinade would be great on any cut of chicken, pork chops or fish.  But you know I love a good chicken thigh.

And while the chicken could totally be cooked in the kitchen, it’s grilling season.

And if Big Guy grills outside, my kitchen stays a lot cleaner.

Sausage and Kale Pesto Pizza

On Saturday I made my first trip of the season to our local farmers market.  I absolutely love visiting the market.  And while I didn’t go with intentions of getting anything specific – though I was hoping to get my hands on some strawberries – I was excited about what I brought home.

English Cucumbers

Garlic Chives (!!!)

Kale

Butter Crunch Lettuce

Yesterday as I was menu planning for the week to come, the kale was on my mind.  I wanted to make sure to put it to good use.

I came across a pizza recipe that had a base of kale pesto and I knew immediately what we were having for dinner last night.

Sausage and Kale Pesto Pizza it was.

The sausage is cooking in a cast iron skillet until browned and then removed from the pan and set to the side.  In the same pan, wilt the kale.  I did not add the water (the kale was a little damp from rinsing) or the sugar.

Once the kale wilts, it’s time to make the pesto.

Wilted Kale
Toasted Almonds
Garlic
Olive Oil
Parmesan Cheese

The crust was our go-to recipe from the Seriously Delish cookbook.  It’s honestly the best, no-fuss crust ever.

While I was preparing the pesto, Big Guy was rolling out the dough.

The pesto gets spread all over the crust and then topped with the sausage (I used spicy sausage instead of Italian sausage) and cheese.

Baked until all the cheese is melted and the crust is browned.

A bottle of red wine from Sonoma ended the weekend on a high note.

This 2012 Portalupi Zinfandel from the Russian River Valley was perfect with the pizza.  Big yet not overpowering with notes of red fruit and black pepper.

Pizza and wine.  Has there ever been a more perfect raining Sunday evening pairing?

Orange-Glazed Salmon with Olive Quinoa

If I had it my way, I would have a home-cooked dinner on the table every night of the week.  And while I make this happen most nights, there are some nights where Big Guy and I have different schedules.   Between Big Guy having work commitments and my every-growing social commitments, it’s just not feasible to always eat together.  And I confess (I’ve confessed this before) that on the nights that Big Guy is away during the dinner hour, I rely on cleaning out the fridge (aka the cheese drawer) for my dinner.

But this week I was craving a nice home-cooked meal and Big Guy having other plans didn’t keep me from making an incredible dinner.  (Another confession:  our fridge was as bare as I’ve ever seen it at the beginning of the week and I’m not sure I could have created much from “cleaning out the fridge.”)

And since I didn’t have to worry about anyone’s taste buds but my own, I went with salmon.  I’m a lover of all food from the sea but salmon is one of my favorites.  I went through all of my salmon recipes before deciding on Orange-Glazed Salmon with Olive Quinoa.  This recipe ultimately was my pick because it was for two servings – which was perfect.

I cooked 1/2 cup quinoa in 2/3 cup of water until all the water was absorbed.  While the quinoa was cooking, I mixed together the glaze for the salmon.  In the mix:  maple syrup, orange zest, orange juice, Dijon mustard, garlic (and lots of it!) and some freshly cracked black pepper.  I topped the salmon fillets with the glaze and placed in the oven on BROIL for 6 minutes.  No more, no less for a perfectly medium piece of salmon.

While the salmon was cooking, I fluffed the quinoa with parsley, chopped olives, salt and pepper.

Such a delicious dinner.

Another confession:

This dinner was eaten on the couch with a side of Keeping Up With the Kardashians.

Oh, yes.  My guilty pleasure.

 

 

Almond Butter Chicken Satay with Cilantro-Lime Rice

Let’s start with a few random Thursday tidbits, mmm kay?

Skewers are one of the few items that I misplace around the house.  Don’t ask how that happens.

– Satay means “a dish of seasoned, skewered, and grilled meat, served with a sauce.”

– Leftover coconut milk tastes amazing in overnight oats and smoothies.

– Speaking of coconuts, coconut butter + almond butter on a toasted waffle is unbelievably delicious.

I’m currently obsessed with the coconut flavored La Croix.  Big Guy thinks it tastes like sunscreen.

– On the subject of sunscreen, I just bought a new bathing suit.  I’m less scared about how I look in a bathing suit and more scared at how skimpy bathing suits have become.

– And I’ve created a new rule that I think all women should follow:  If you wouldn’t wear something in front of your brother/Daddy/grandfather, you probably shouldn’t wear it in public at all.

Interesting how my thought process started with skewers and ended with a fashion rule.

Moving right along…

Can we talk about the deliciousness of almond butter chicken satay?  This dinner needs a little bit of prep work but the prep work can be done in advance.

Sliced chicken breast is marinated in a mixture of coconut milk, lime juice, brown sugar, fish sauce, ginger, curry powder and crushed garlic for at least 2 hours.

After it’s marinated and soaks up all the incredible flavors, the chicken is skewered before being grilled.

While Big Guy manned the chicken, I put a few finishing touches on the rice.  Brown basmati rice is fluffed and then cilantro and lime juice (about half a lime) is added into the rice for even more fresh flavor.  I adore cilantro – if you’re not a fan, leave it out or try parsley.

The chicken is served with an almond butter based dipping sauce.  I adore almond butter (I’m almost out and I am planning my Sunday around stocking up on my beloved breakfast staple) and it’s the perfect complement to curry-dusted chicken.  In the sauce, along with almond butter, more of the coconut milk, water, hoisin sauce (I used tamari) and Sriracha.  Ugh.  So good.

And for even more freshness, fresh cucumber on the side for a pop of color and flavor.

I served the chicken with a squeeze of lime before liberally dipping each and every piece into the luscious almond butter sauce.

Okay, seriously.  I need more almond butter.

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Orange-Sesame Asparagus and Rice

Around our house there really isn’t a “season” for grilling because Big Guy loves any and all opportunities to fire up the grill.  But we both enjoy it the most in the springtime.

It’s not too hot.  There’s a breeze.  And the bugs don’t completely take over.

We plan on taking advantage of this optimal grilling weather as much as possible this year.

This dinner is perfect for any night of the week.  Easy enough for a week night but “so good it tastes like the weekend.” (that’s a direct quote from Big Guy…I’m not sure if I should be offended though)

Sliced pork tenderloin is marinated for about 30 minutes in a marinade of canola oil, maple syrup, brown sugar, soy sauce (or tamari), fish sauce and ginger.  Before grilling, sprinkle the pork with salt and pepper.

Alongside the pork, grilled asparagus.  (This dinner is incredibly low-mess material.)

The asparagus are grilled before being drizzled with a sweet and spicy sauce of fresh orange juice, sesame oil, honey and red pepper flakes.  The asparagus are brightened up with a final touch of orange zest.

The pork and asparagus are served on top of a bed of fluffy rice that has been tossed with sesame oil, green onions, salt, pepper, and sesame seeds.  (Don’t tell Big Guy I completely forgot to add the peanuts.)

The pork was beyond tender and juicy and so full of flavor from the marinade.  I loved the sweet-savory jive of the entire plate.

Sweet from the orange juice, maple and honey.

Savory from the tamari, sesame oil and fish sauce.

I’m officially deeming it “Grilling Season.”

 

(Note:  This recipe made enough pork for a “leftover” recipe featured in the magazine.  So half the amount of pork if you don’t want leftovers.  But the leftovers are perfect for lunch or “dinner on your own.”)

 

Sautéed Dates {and my favorite hour}

Spring just might finally be here to stay.

Crisp, cool mornings.

Warm, sunny evenings.

And my favorite hour in the springtime is “appy” hour.

It typically happens on Friday and/or Saturday night and it’s the perfect way to unwind from the week.

No stress.  No worries.

Just a glass of bubbles, my favorite guy, and an appetizer.

A couple of weekends ago (when Spring was teasing us) we were able to sneak in an “appy” hour on the back deck.  And dare I say that it was one of my favorite “appy” hour spreads to date.

Blueberry goat cheese (a Trader Joes must-have items), crackers, a blue cheese for Big Guy and sauteed dates with Greek yogurt.

You heard me right – sauteed dates and Greek yogurt.

When I first saw this recipe I was incredibly intrigued.  I love dates (especially stuffed with goat cheese and wrapped in bacon) and could only dream that they would be as luscious sauteed.

And they are.

A small amount of olive oil is warmed on the stove-top before adding in the dates.  They are sauteed a few minutes (making sure to turn to prevent burning) before being sprinkled with flaky sea salt.  I served the sauteed dates with 2% Greek yogurt drizzled with the olive oil from sauteing the dates.

Salty, sweet and incredibly luscious.

And the perfect match for a sparkling glass of champagne.