{virtual} coffee chat

Let’s grab a cup of coffee and pretend that the weekend isn’t over.

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If we were having coffee this morning…I’d tell you all about our 4th of July weekend.  And I’d want to hear about yours, too.  This 4th of July was different than most but it was relaxed and enjoyable.  I really didn’t know what to do with myself on Saturday when I had no one to cook for.  Our 4th of July dinner included a few “trashed” up appetizers,  delicious ribs, sausage and a beautiful salad.  Oh, and bubbles.  (Thank you again, Kimberly and Jeremy for having us over!)

trashed apps

dinner

rose

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you that I picked up the longest sparklers I’ve ever seen for our 4th of July celebration.  Sparklers = 4th of July.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you that our zucchini is out of control.  I see a zucchini lasagna in our future.  But I used one of the zucchinis to make Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread.  

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you about the book I finished this weekend, Life from Scratch.  It was so good.  I’ve always loved memoirs and this one takes you on a journey involving food, family and forgiveness.  It’s brilliant.  And it includes recipes.  And she has a blog.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you about how we made bacon.  (!!!!!)  Last Sunday we began the process and we finally got to smoke it yesterday and fry up a few slices.  More on what we did with the bacon later.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you that I’m already looking forward to the weekend.  Big Guy is taking me out on a date and mojitos are on the menu for Saturday (National Mojito Day!).  Gosh, I love this guy.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would leave you with these two words:

Pork Belly and Brie Burger with Spicy Peach Caramelized Onions {and marinated tomatoes}

Yesterday I was all healthy and vegan but today I’m pure indulgence (with a side of healthy).

I’ve had a lot of burgers in my lifetime but this is by far the best burger I’ve ever tasted.

But how can you go wrong with pork belly?

Originally, the burger was “simply” going to have bacon on it but we found ourselves with a slab of pork belly and decided that it was fate.

So on Friday night at 11pm, we were preparing the pork belly by giving it a good massage with brown sugar, salt, and Sriracha (the pork belly recipe is from Easy Gourmet – a cookbook by one of my favorite food blogs.)

After a full day at the pool, it was time to cook the pork belly low and slow.  The pork belly bakes at 250 degrees for 3 hours and then at a higher temperature for about 20 minutes for color.

pork belly

Allow the pork belly to rest for about 20 minutes before slicing.

One bite, and you’re in heaven.

But it doesn’t stop there.  We added the pork belly to a burger that is made with veal and beef.

A new burger combination to me, but it was incredible.  On top of the burger, a slice of creamy, dreamy brie.  We don’t eat brie all that often (for no real reason) so Big Guy thought the brie was an indulgence, too.

And for major flavor – peach caramelized onions.  And I might add that the onions were straight from our garden – making it all the better.

Brioche bun.

Veal/beef patty.

Brie.

Peach caramelized onions.

PORK BELLY.

That’s it.  There’s no more room for any other flavors.

And while the photos don’t do it any justice, this is the most insane burger ever.

And to make myself feel better, marinated tomatoes on the side.  

This burger is completely over-the-top.

But that’s why we had vegan muffins for breakfast.

Pesto Potato Salad

Yesterday I let the zucchini have the spotlight.

But today, it’s all about the other half of Monday night’s dinner:  Pesto Potato Salad. 

Big Guy is a HUGE fan of potato salad.  And I’m a huge fan of pesto.  So I knew these potatoes would be a hit.

I made the potato salad in advance and served it cold over a bed of greens.

To make the potatoes, cover sliced potatoes in a pot with cool water.  Add a splash of vinegar.

Apparently vinegar helps the potatoes hold their shape.

Bring the potatoes to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender.

While the potatoes are doing their thing (and trust me, you want to do something because a watched pot truly won’t come to a boil), make your pesto!

In your food processor, whirl together fresh basil, parsley, Parmesan cheese, Greek yogurt, a little mayo, pecans (I didn’t have any sunflower seeds, so I used a few pecans), a tablespoon of water, a splash of red wine vinegar (I forgot to grab a lemon at the grocery store), salt and a couple of cloves of garlic.

Once the potatoes are tender, drain and toss them with the pesto.

You could serve them immediately, or you can let them hang out in the fridge.

Served over a bed of greens that was tossed with a little EVOO, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper.

And on top, a sprinkling of fresh dill.

pesto potato salad

But I’m not going to lie, between this half of the plate and yesterday’s half, I can’t pick a favorite.

Grilled Zucchini Caprese Stacks

Summer is officially here.

And the garden is finally starting to deliver some homegrown goodness.  On Sunday, Big Guy picked two huge zucchini from the garden and I couldn’t wait to put them on the plate for dinner on Monday. 

zucchini stacks

Zucchini slices are sprinkled with salt and pepper before grilling until tender.  While Big Guy manned the grill, I prepped the other ingredients.

I sliced two gorgeous heirloom tomatoes and a mozzarella.  I also prepped the balsamic drizzle – a combination of EVOO, balsamic glaze and garlic plus a little salt and pepper.

Once the zucchini was grilled, simply layer all the ingredients.  Tomato slice, zucchini slice, mozzarella, more zucchini, tomato and I ended with a zucchini slice.

Once stacked, drizzle the entire platter with the balsamic dressing and then sprinkle with fresh basil.

Summer never tasted so delicious.

Friday Favorites

The weekend is here, the weekend is here!  Yes, it was another short work week for me and I couldn’t be more excited for the weekend ahead.  Big Guy and I have never been able to participate in Member-Guest weekend (only the biggest weekend of the year at the country club) because of other obligations.  But this year we’re taking part in all the festivities and the best part is that one of our favorite couples (our wine/food/travel buddies) is coming into town to be our guests!  Eeeeeek!!!  And while I’m not sure how well the guys will do in the golf tournament – I can assure you that it’s going to be a weekend full of fun with all of our friends.

But before I go convince the sun to come out so we can go to the pool, here’s my favorites from the week:

Favorite Flavors:  Skillet Strawberry Cobbler with Cream Cheese Swirled Biscuits.  I can’t even handle this dessert.

Favorite Crispy:  Hash Brown Waffles.  There’s never been a better reason to have breakfast for dinner.  Or breakfast for lunch.  Or breakfast for breakfast.

 

Favorite Summer:  Marcel Romper.  If being 31 and wearing a romper is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

Favorite Up-Grade:  Roasted Potato Salad with Mustardy Old Bay Dressing.  Now I’m just waiting to get invited to a summer cookout…

Favorite Travel:  The Bespoke Scandi Houseboat.  I can’t even imagine.  There’s a few of the water in every single room!

Favorite Dinner:  Chicken and Goat Cheese Enchiladas.  We love enchiladas.  And goat cheese makes everything better.

Favorite Wake-up:  Homemade Sweetened Condensed Coconut Milk {for iced coffee}.  Last Saturday morning in Nashville, three of us set out on foot to find iced coffee.  And once we did, it was the best thing ever.  Now I just need to start making it at home.

Favorite Dinner Party:  Vietnamese Braised Beef Tacos.  Can a party of two be considered a dinner party?

Favorite Indulge:  Mini Ricotta + Parmesan Cheesecake.  These must happen A to the SAP (aka immediately).

Favorite Tropical:  Toasted Coconut Pineapple Cocktail.  This reminds me of our honeymoon and our trip to St. Thomas.  Oh, what I would do to be on an island right now drinking out of a pineapple…

Cheers!

Fried Egg and Avocado Toast

Big Guy is finally back in town after being in Asia for a little over two weeks and I’m so excited to have him back at home.

And as much as I missed him being around the house, I enjoyed making a few dinners that he wouldn’t have enjoyed as much as I did.

Fried Egg and Avocado Toast is the perfect B, L or D (breakfast, lunch or dinner) and incorporates three of my favorite things.  Fried egg.  Avocado.  Toast.

avo toast

A toasted piece of bread (I used a slice of Udi’s Gluten-Free bread) and topped with smashed avocado.  The creamy avocado is topped with crunchy, earthy sprouts and a perfectly fried egg.  And to top it all off, a spoonful of salsa and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

And while I don’t think I’ll ever tire of simple avocado toast, sprouts and salsa added lots of flavor and texture to the combo.

This is a single-girl’s dinner if I ever saw one.

{virtual} coffee chat

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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: