Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Restaurant Style Salsa

My favorite snack, hands down, is chips and salsa. If I were stranded on a desert island with only a few select foods in tow, they would undoubtedly be chips and salsa, cheese, and milk. And maybe ice cream. Caleb even mentioned to me the other day (over a snack of chips and salsa, naturally) that he never really ate chips and salsa until he married me. With this in mind, it's hard to believe that I only made my first batch of homemade salsa a few weeks ago. I used Pioneer Woman's recipe which makes a large amount, perfect for salsa lovers like us. Even though the recipe calls for canned tomatoes, we couldn't get over how fresh this salsa tasted!

Restaurant Style Salsa
1 can (28 oz) whole tomatoes with juice
2 cans (10 oz) Rotel
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, quartered and sliced thin
1/4 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/2 cup cilantro (more to taste)
juice of 1 lime

Combine all ingredients into a large blender or food processor (you can also process the ingredients in batches and then mix everything together in a large bowl). Pulse until you get the salsa to the consistency you'd like. Test seasonings with a tortilla chip and adjust as needed. Refrigerate salsa for at least an hour.

*I found that this lasts for about a week in the fridge. I did not freeze any, so I have no tips regarding that.

source: recipe from the pioneer woman

Friday, July 18, 2014

Cookbook Review: Kitchen Confidence

As much as I enjoy trying recipes from blogs & pinterest, there's just something about holding a cookbook in your hands and flipping through the pages. Most recently I've been cooking from Kelsey Nixon's Kitchen Confidence. This cookbook is filled with 100 recipes that are practical, everyday recipes that I would actually want to make--think cinnamon rolls, banana bread, pot roast, chicken salad, chili, mac & cheese, brownies, birthday cake, etc. But while they are delicious recipes that frequently come out of every cook's kitchen, I really like Kelsey's spin on some of the classics: she puts an Asian spin on traditional chicken noodle soup, roast chicken is jazzed up with Moroccan spices, twice baked potatoes are made with bacon and bleu cheese. This cookbook is a great blend of everyday recipes and also a modern twist on these traditional recipes. I've made several recipes from this cookbook and look forward to trying more. Below are links to three of the recipes from her cookbook that I've previously shared here on the blog. 

Disclosure: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review. All opinions are 100% my own.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Blueberry Muffins

One thing that continues to amaze me is how many recipes there are for banana bread and blueberry muffins. It might be because they are two of the easiest breakfast treats to whip up, as evidenced by the number of blueberry muffin and banana bread recipes I've shared here on the blog. You'd think by now I would move on to another type of delicious breakfast item, but I just can't help it: I see another recipe that sounds good and looks easy, and I just have to try it out.

Blueberry Muffins
3 cups + 1 Tbsp flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1/2 pint blueberries (heaping 1 cup)*

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a standard muffin tin with paper liners.

In a large bowl, whisk together 3 cups of the flour, the baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a separate large bowl, whisk together the sugar, sour cream, melted butter, buttermilk, and eggs.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined; do not overmix. Toss the blueberries with the remaining 1 tablespoon flour, shake off the excess, and fold them into the batter. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.

Bake until a cake tested inserted into a muffin comes out clean, 25-30 minutes. Cool slightly in the pan before transferring to a wire rack; serve warm. Muffins will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for 2-3 days.

*If using frozen blueberries, do not thaw before using.

source: recipe from Kitchen Confidence

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Steve Madden Sandal Hack

These are some of my favorite sandals. They're comfy and casual, but definitely look better than flip flops. Mine are Steve Madden, but Target is selling sandals that look exactly the same! One of my co-workers has the Target brand, and we put our sandals next to each other and you cannot tell a difference! So, if you want to score a Steve Madden look-alike sandal, head to Target and scoop these up for $17!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Greek Shrimp & Orzo Salad

Pasta salads are one of my favorite things to eat in the summertime. I especially love this Greek orzo salad, so when I found the below recipe for essentially the same salad with shrimp added in, I knew I would love it. It was really easy to throw together and didn't even require turning the oven on--two of my requirements for a perfect summer dinner.

Greek Shrimp & Orzo Salad
8 oz orzo pasta
1 (10 oz) container grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cucumber, peeled and chopped
4 oz crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp olive oil
1 lemon
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the orzo and cook according to the package directions. Drain and let cool.

In a large serving bowl, combine the cooled orzo, tomatoes, cucumber, feta, and 1/4 cup of the oil. Grate the lemon zest into the bowl. Squeeze the juice from the lemon and pour it into the bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

In a large skillet set over medium-high heat, heat the remaining 1 Tbsp oil. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper. Put the shrimp into the skillet and cook, stirring, until they are jut cooking through and pink, 2-3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.

Mix the shrimp into the salad and season to taste with salt and pepper once more before serving. Salad will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days. Serves 6.

source: recipe slightly adapted from Kitchen Confidence

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Reading, Lately

Delicious! I have read most of Ruth Reichl's books and really enjoyed them, so I was thrilled to hear she had written her first novel. This ended up being my favorite book of hers, and I certainly hope she will continue writing fiction. She is such an excellent writer, and I didn't want to put this book down. Oh wait, I was at the beach so I literally did not put the book down all day :)

Choosing Gratitude This book really challenged and stretched me in the area of being thankful. Having an attitude of thanksgiving really transforms your person, your day, and really your whole life. I especially loved the chapter on worship. The author says that you cannot whine and worship simultaneously, which is so true. There is so much to be thankful for, and if we are in a constant state of thankfulness, it translates to worship, and as we worship we will not even be able to whine or complain.

The Fault in Our Stars I had really high expectations for this book after hearing about it and seeing it everywhere, and I'm afraid they weren't quite met. That isn't to say it wasn't good, because it was. It was a great beach read, which is incidentally where I read it. I can't quite put my finger on what exactly was missing from the book that would have made it a great read for me. I think I just wish the book hadn't been hyped up so much.

The Nazi Officer's Wife I initially bought this book for Caleb to read while we were on vacation, but I finished all of my books and needed another, so I picked up this one. It was quite a fascinating read about, as you can imagine from the title, a Jewish woman who survives the Holocaust by marrying a Nazi officer. I loved the autobiographical view of World War II and the Holocaust. It was a gripping read and, like any other book on the Holocaust, left me in disbelief at all that happened throughout the Holocaust. Definitely recommend it if you're enjoy memoirs or history or World War II.

Delancey This is Molly Wizenberg's (of the blog Orangette) second book. Her first book is one of my all-time favorite books, so I knew I would love this one as well. This book chronicles Molly and her husband's journey through opening their restaurant: the stress, the fun, the recipes, all of it. It reaffirmed to me that I would never survive in the restaurant business, but I really love Molly's style of writing.

What have you been reading so far this summer?

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Banana Pudding Parfaits

The last weekend in June we had some friends as well as Caleb's sister and her husband visit us. We had a great weekend, spending the day strolling the farmer's market and lounging by the pool, and spending the evenings chatting and watching our friend Jonathan do magic tricks (he's really good!). Our brother-in-law seriously loves pudding, and since I wanted to serve a good Southern dessert, I knew I had to make banana pudding. Banana pudding is one of those desserts that I absolutely love, but never think to make. I had seen this recipe on one of my favorite foodie blogs so I knew it would be a trusty recipe, and I wasn't disappointed.  

Banana Pudding
1/3 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
2 1/2 cups milk
3 Tbsp butter, at room temperature, divided
2 tsp vanilla extract
3-4 ripe bananas, sliced
vanilla wafers

for the topping:
3/4 cup heavy cream
3-4 Tbsp confectioners' sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Whisk in the egg yolks, then the milk. Place the saucepan over medium heat. Add in 2 Tbsp of the butter. Cook, whisking frequently, until the mixture bubbles and thickens significantly. Remove from the heat. (You can strain through a mesh sieve if you are at all concerned about having overcooked it to remove any lumps.) Whisk in the vanilla and remaining 1 Tbsp of butter.

Layer a serving dish or individual serving dishes with vanilla wafers and banana slices. Fill each dish with some of the pudding and continue layering with vanilla wafers and banana slices as desired until the serving dishes are mostly filled and the pudding has been used up. Cover with plastic wrap and let chill until well set, at least 2-3 hours.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cream and confectioners' sugar on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Blend in the vanilla. Transfer the whipped cream to a pastry bag and pipe a dollop of cream onto each serving of pudding. Garnish with additional vanilla wafers, if desired. Serves 8.

source: recipe from annie's eats, originally from Southern Living via my recipes