My New Favorite Green Smoothie

There’s a new smoothie in town and shockingly it doesn’t include frozen bananas or nut butter.  I go through phases with smoothies – I’ll drink them for weeks and then I’ll be totally over them and can’t even think about blending one up for months.  Currently I’m experiencing the phase where I’m drinking several smoothies a week.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays I teach a lunchtime “sweat” class.  I usually leave the class starving (despite my mid-morning snack) and find myself craving something cold and that is easy to assemble.  Enter in this creation.

smoothie

In the mix:

12 ounces liquid (I used a cup of almond milk plus 1/2 cup water)
4 frozen Just Coconut Chunks (new find at Trader Joes)
1/2 a small avocado (adds so much creaminess)
1 scoop protein powder (I use a plant-based, gluten-free, dairy free and no stevia powder)
1/4-1/3 cup frozen riced cauliflower (another find at Trader Joes)
Large handful spinach 

Blend until creamy.

I pinky-promise that you can not taste the cauliflower or the spinach in this smoothie.  It’s ridiculously thick (aka sometimes you need a spoon) and it tastes delicious.  I love the subtle hint of coconut.

It’s refreshing, it’s healthy and it’s super filling.

 

 

Wednesday Things.

strawberries

1. I totally stole this idea from How Sweet It Is.

2. I have two new product finds that are not only delicious but great for snacking:  Just Beets and Cucumber Hummus.

3. Big Guy is better at making beds than I am.  It’s true.

4. He is also obsessive about removing stickers off bananas.  He says they weren’t grown in nature with stickers.

5. We watch a handful of shows regularly.  And one of them just got cancelled.  So since we won’t be watching Nashville anymore, I need something new to start DVRing.  Because let’s be honest – I don’t watch anything in real time.

6. Does anyone use their home phone anymore?!?!

7. Speaking of phones, I think it’s time for an upgrade of my iPhone.

8. This list makes me want to plan a road trip to every.single.state so that I can eat pizza.

9. We currently have about 12 years of pickled something in our fridge:  carrots, grapes, cukes (times 6), jalapeños….

10. I’m praying that our week of BLAH means a week of SUNSHINE next week.

11. I don’t want strawberry season to end.  (But I’m totally ready for tomatoes, cucumbers and fresh herbs!!!!)

 

Tailgate Thursday {biscuit bar and more}

I’m back with my biggest tailgate spread yet for 2015!  Last Friday night we hosted a BIG GAME party for the ECU and UConn football game.  I was more than excited to plan out a menu and even took the day off work to make sure I was able to execute the plans as perfectly and seamlessly as possible.

punch

In addition to beer and bubbles, I made two signature cocktails.  One was a vodka based cocktail and the other was bourbon based.

For the Apple Cider Moscow Mules I mixed the ginger-infused vodka and the apple cider in a pitcher.  To serve, fill a copper mug with ice, pour in the vodka-apple cider base and top with ginger beer.  Garnish with a lime slice and a cinnamon stick.

The Shoo-Fly Punch starts with a base of bourbon, ginger liquor, simple syrup, lemon juice and a few shakes of bitters.  To serve, fill a glass with ice, add the bourbon base and top with ginger beer.  Garnish with an orange slice and a sprig of mint.

moscow

This was my second time making the Apple Cider Moscow Mules and they’re quite possibly my new favorite fall drink.  Sweet with a little spice and so refreshing.

biscuit bar

As I mentioned on Monday, we had a biscuit bar.  I was incredibly excited about my biscuit bar – especially after I found the perfect biscuits.  I picked up several packs of NC made biscuits at The Butchers Market in Charlotte.  There were several flavors including Cheddar and Honey, Cheddar, and Sweet Potato.  To stuff inside the biscuits – a pimiento cheese and  bourbon candied bacon combination and a country ham and red pepper jelly combo.  Also pictured, bread and butter pickles and pickled jalapenos.  The biscuit bar was a hit, to say the least.

the spread

Along with the biscuit bar we had another table full of food.  I can assure you that no one goes hungry at the tailgates we host.

The crock pot was filled with homemade sweet and sour meatballs that were incredible.  I used local ground beef (I doubled the recipe) and two eggs after reading the comments on the recipe.  I baked the meatballs for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees and then arranged them in the crock pot with the sauce and cooked on low for 2 hours.  I then transferred the heat to warm and let them hang out until party time.

In addition to crackers, Pumpkin Spiced Sweet Potato Chips, and popcorn, there was a cheese platter with a couple of local cheeses plus an amazing apple-cinnamon goat cheese from Trader Joes.

cheese board

The Apple Cinnamon Goat Cheese was hands-down the favorite cheese of the night.  I also served some fig and ginger game to pair with the bleu marbled cheese – which, along with the garlic, parsley and chive cheese came from my SoCo Farm to Door delivery.

roasted veg

The above veggie dip is a repeat from a tailgate in early October.  The Pioneer Woman’s Cold Roasted Veggies and Lemon-Herb Yogurt Dip is fantastic.  It’s probably my new favorite way to serve veggies at a tailgate.

watson dip

I had a last-minute request from Big Guy to make a recipe that’s been in his family since he can remember.  Watson “Birthday” Dip is a recipe that was passed on to me and I doubt I make it as well as Big Guy’s grandmother.  This dip was also a huge hit on Friday night.

For a little sweetness, I had some candy out (duh, it was the night before Halloween) along with a Pecan Pound Cake from the latest Southern Living.

As you can see it was quite the spread – but honestly, putting together the menu and cooking all day on Friday but a smile on my face.  There are few things I enjoy more than cooking for others.

We have one more home game left this season that we’ll be able to attend and since it’s a night game, I’m thinking a Chili Bar might be on the menu.

What would your favorite biscuit toppings include?

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.

Elegant Holiday Dinner Party Menu

Between now and the end of the year, I’m sure many of you will be entertaining others with dinner.  Here is a fool-proof, delicious dinner menu for eight.  I prepared this exact menu last Saturday evening for our Christmas with Big Guy’s family.  I prepped many of the ingredients the night before which made execution of dinner less stressful.

Cocktail Hour:

Sparkling Cider
Pomegranate Cheese Ball 

Dinner Menu:

Roast Beef Tenderloin with Cognac Butter
Carrot Mash with Crème Fraîche
Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Slow-Fried Shallots

I chose to go with the sparkling cider cocktail for cocktail hour because it’s incredibly simple with only two ingredients.  We had a wine pairing planned for dinner so I wanted something sparkling.  Sparkling Cider is simply prosecco topped with spiced apple cider (Trader Joe’s brand is my absolute favorite and I stock up every fall).  I also prepped the cheese ball the night before except for the pomegranate seeds.  Roll the cheese ball in the pomegranate seeds right before serving for best results.  Since I had made the cheese ball the night before, I took it out of the fridge 30 minutes before serving so that the cheese could soften a bit.

The tenderloin is super easy to prep – and this was done about an hour before we were going to put it in the oven.  However, I made the cognac butter Saturday morning after letting the butter soften on the counter over night.  We doubled the amount of beef that we cooked to make sure there was plenty and so that there would be leftovers for the coming week.

The only thing I prepped in advance for the carrots was slicing the carrots the night before and chopping the green onions.  I stored both in airtight containers so they were ready when I was on Saturday.

And to round out the dinner prep, I shredded the Brussels the night before and sliced the shallots and stored those in zip lock bags in the fridge.

xmas dinner

Thanks to all my prep work, getting dinner on the table was a breeze.  Big Guy was in charge of the seasoning the tenderloin and making sure it was cooked to perfection (medium-rare).  The great thing about tenderloin is that if there are folks that prefer their meat more well-done, the slices at the ends are perfectly cooked to their likeness.  I sliced up the cognac butter and placed it on a serving dish.  The carrots simmered away as the beef was roasting and then mashed with a potato masher until the desired consistency is reached.  I decided against pulling out the food processor and left them a little chunky.  While the carrots simmer, prepare the crème fraîche mixture.  And finally it was time the prepare the Brussels.  The shallots are fried in a low-temperature skillet with canola oil until crispy.  It takes about 10 minutes and the texture is unbelievable.  I didn’t start cooking the Brussels until after the beef was taken out of the oven to rest as I didn’t want to risk soggy Brussels.

The end result was a gorgeous plate full of flavor.  The butter was the perfect compliment to the tender, lean cut of beef.  While cognac isn’t a liquor that I typically drink or keep on hand, it paired beautifully with the butter and beef.  The carrots were tender yet bright and tangy.  I adored the addition of orange zest to the carrots – such a great twist on the typical sweet potato side dish.  And finally the Brussels.  Honestly, it’s a no frills recipe but the fried shallots make the side dish incredibly rich without being heavy.

done

To say that it was a successful dinner would be an understatement.

And while I love to create my own menus, having a menu to follow was such a life saver as far as my sanity.  I was able to enjoy a stress-free dinner instead of worrying about the food.

Cheers!

Nectarine, Blueberry and Basil Crisp

Summer officially starts on Saturday (though it unofficially started about a month ago in my little world).  Despite my love for springtime temperatures, I’m in love with summertime.  Sweet, sweet summertime.

Fresh fruit is one of the best ways to welcome summer.

fruit

 

Trader Joes had boxes of nectarines for $5.99 and I just couldn’t resist.  They smelled so juicy, sweet.

The original recipe called for peaches but ain’t nobody got time to peel peaches.

And what makes this crisp insanely special is the addition of basil.

Don’t ask questions.

Just do it.

It adds pop of freshness and it’s by no-means overpowering.

crisp

But let’s be honest.  My favorite part of a crisp is the actual “crisp” portion.

Oats, brown sugar, (gluten-free) all-purpose flour, cinnamon, salt and butter make this more than just fruit.

It makes this dessert.

The crisp is baked until the fruit bubbles and the top is browned.

Then…THEN you must add a scoop of cold vanilla ice cream to the top of the warm blueberries and peaches that are bursting with summertime flavors.

This is summer.

And I’ll take it.

98 degrees of it.