A Garden Summer Supper- Dad’s Famous Fajitas and Blueberry Peach Crisp

likefajitababy

The perfect summer meal has a few components. It should be refreshing, but also substantial; healthy, but also a celebration of the freedom of summer. It should be reminiscent of laughing days and inexplicable joy, but also have a sincerity that keeps you on the ground, and thinking about the food and the food only. It should bring people together and should take advantage of summer’s great bounty, while still adding the familiar warmth of a few classic ingredients.

Also, it should taste good.

This meal, in my opinion is just that– a team effort, delicious, wholesome, substantial and a creator of good conversation. It uses all we have that this season offers and brings new things to the table. I’m talking, of course, about my dad’s fajitas.

My dad makes the best fajitas on Earth, and yes, I’m going there because, well, he does. He concocts the most amazing marinade and grills chicken breasts to get tons of delicious juice and flavor out of them.

fire(boom)

We also grilled some steak in this batch. And by the way, you can also grill this chicken inside. We were just grilling it outside because we were here.

maineMaineMAINE

We serve the chicken on grilled tortillas with my family’s famous guacamole (always), corn tomato salad (on the fajitas, and a bit on the side, but only sometimes do we have the salsa), sautèed peppers and onions (always necessary), cheese (duh), and occasionally black beans. Yum.

fiestaguac

fiestaguacandtortillas

As for the crisp..

My grandma has a foolproof recipe for crisp that works with all fruits and makes a killer topping. For this crisp, I didn’t use it. I promise that someday I will post it, but I decided to try and make up a new kind of recipe. So I tossed some chopped fresh peaches (it works lovely with nectarines, too) with a bit of flour, some cinnamon and sugar and added blueberries and a splash of orange juice (my secret ingredient in everything). Then I mixed some oats, brown sugar, flour and butter and spread it on top.

crispchrome

filling

blurredcrisp(i know you want it)

buttah

The result was a resounding dinner, a delicious thing that we devoured outside, onions strewn around our plates, vanilla ice cream dripping down our chins. We were happy, we were satisfied. The perfect summer meal.

SO:

(BY THE WAY: this goes great with homemade strawberry soda)

Dad’s Fajitas-

Serves 4 to 6, but feel free to add or subtract: ALSO remember that these are very editable (sorry, that’s not a word), so make sure to put your own twist on it, and add what you want. Hot sauce, hello!

Tips on cooking corn adapted from the Kitchn. Otherwise, this is a family recipe. 🙂

Ingredients:

CHICKEN & MARINADE:

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, halved horizontally (into two flat cutlets) (PLEASE note that this works amazingly with skirt steak, as well. Coincidentally, my dad has a famous steak marinade as well, but I’m afraid I can’t tell that secret. Use your favorite.)
  • Juice of 1-2 limes or lemons
  • 2 cups Olive Oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, pressed
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp. cayenne or chili pepper, or a dash of hot sauce (optional)

CORN AND TOMATO SALAD:

  • 4 ears of sweet corn
  • 2 good heirloom tomatoes- big and juicy
  • Cilantro, chopped to taste
  • 1/2 cup red onion, chopped
  • 1 chopped red bell pepper
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (I’m not going to tell you how much to use: I trust your judgement)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • salt and pepper to taste

GUACAMOLE:

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1/4 white onion, chopped (optional)
  • Juice of 1 lime (again)
  • Chopped tomato, to taste (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro

PEPPERS & ONIONS:

  • Olive Oil
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 2 white onions
  • A tbsp. of ground cumin
  • A pinch of chili powder (optional)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • chopped cilantro to taste
  • salt to taste

THE WORKS:

  • Lots of grated white cheddar cheese (of course, you could use the pre-shredded Mexican Fiesta Cheese Mix, too)
  • A few limes, for extra juice, quartered
  • 8 tortillas
  • Black beans (from a can or fresh, but let’s be realistic)

MAKE IT:

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you want to have some REALLY good fajitas, this marinade takes 5 minutes to put together and if you could do it in the morning and leave the chicken all day… wow. If not, just leave it there while making all the other ingredients.

  1. Start with the chicken: In a large container, like a Tupperware, mix together all of the ingredients listed in the marinade except for the chicken. Put your chicken into the marinade and tightly close the lid.
  2. While the chicken is marinating, start on the corn, ’cause it may take a bit of time. It would be awesome if you could grill the corn, husks on outside, or even inside on a grill pan, but if not: heat a pot of boiling salted water, enough to cover all 4 ears (a big pot, or you could do 2, or even 1 at a time). Shuck the corn, and remove the silk and put them in the pot. If your corn is fresh, it should take 3-5 minutes, and older corn should go for 6-8. The corn should be golden and tender.
  3. As another alternative, you could zap the corn, husks on in the microwave for a few minutes. Yet another alternative: just use pre cut frozen corn (if you are in a rush, not recommended.)
  4. Once your corn is done cooking, wait for it to cool off, before shucking (if you used the grill or microwave method). Then, take a sharp knife (∆) and cut the corn off the cob, preferably into a bowl.
  5. Chop your tomatoes into fairly small chunks, and try to get the juices off the cutting board, and into a small bowl. Chop your onion and add that to the bowl with your corn. Ditto bell pepper.
  6. In the small bowl, whisk the lime juice, tomato juices, cilantro and a bit of olive oil, in addition to some salt and pepper. Pour it onto the vegetables and toss.
  7. Meanwhile, heat your grill. If you are grilling on an outdoor grill: Depending on what kind of grill you have, heat up the grill until it is very hot. Indoors: heat a grill pan (or a regular pan will do in a pinch) to a high heat. Take your chicken out of the marinade and throw it on the grill. Wait until the chicken seems slightly white around the edges before flipping. Use your instincts, and maybe even stick a toothpick in to check for doneness.
  8. When the chicken is done, lay it out on a platter and cut it into inch-thick slices. Meanwhile, slice your peppers and onions and heat olive oil in a pan until hot.
  9. Add the onions, and cook for a while, so they are starting to caramelize before adding the peppers and spices and cilantro. Mix around and sautè until the veggies are tender and soft. Put them in a bowl.
  10. As a last thing, start to grate your cheese. If you have a helper to do this for you, it would be great, but if not, grate the cheese on a the fine holes of a box grater. If you bought pre-shredded, just put it in a bowl.
  11. Grill the tortillas for a bit just to brown and warm them a bit. Mash the avocado, salt, pepper and lime to desired guacamole consistency, then add other ingredients, if you are using them. Put all the fixings in bowls.
  12. Enjoy! Your hard work was rewarded.

Peach Blueberry Summer Crisp:

Ingredients:

FOR THE FILLING:

  • 6 to 8 fresh ripe peaches or nectarines
  • 1- 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
  • Lemon zest, to taste
  • Lemon juice, to taste
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • A splash of orange juice

FOR THE CRUMBLE:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • A bit of brown sugar
  • Pinch cinnamon
  • 2 handfuls of rolled oats
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) cold butter, diced

MAKE IT:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350º. Wash your peaches and chop them into slices. Toss them with the flour, sugar, zest and juice. Mix in the blueberries. Add the orange juice.
  2. Put all of the ingredients for the crumble in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until the butter is pea-sized. Rub it between your fingers to make crumbles.
  3. Spread the fruit in a casserole pan or in individual ramekins and sprinkle the crumble on top, spreading it out. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the juices are bubbling and the top is browned and crispy and a wonderful jammy buttery smell will have filled your kitchen. Serve with (what else) vanilla ice cream.

As for my camp experience… it was amazing! I loved the camp and it was so fun. One of my favorite parts was that we got all our vegetables from a local farm down the road. I got to go blueberry picking and make homemade jam and even led a class on key lime pie.

UP NEXT: Panko Crusted Pan Fried Flounder with Watermelon Feta Salad and Ice Cream with Berry Sauce (ANOTHER SUMMER DINNER)

I have a few more perfect summer dinners coming your way… and as always:

Keep Cooking 😉

Vacation Recap, Summer Ideas, New Plans, Notices, the Whole Enchilada

Photo by the author

Pleasant Lake 🙂

Hey everyone! I hope you were inspired by my last post and liked the printables… I thought it would be cool. Even though the recipe in that post was not edible (I mean, you could eat it, technically), I figured it was still food related, so… So, last year I made a post about my summer vacation, with all the best places to eat in Rome (PHOTOS ARE COMING!) so this summer I figured I’d do the same thing with my vacation this year. Here we go!

This summer we went hut to hut hiking in New England. Though this vacation did not have any tiny trattorias hidden on street corners or sweeping vineyards, the constant gorgeous mountain views and the adventure made up for it. Though this vacation was not food centric, that didn’t mean that the food wasn’t good. Just because something isn’t centered around one thing doesn’t necessarily meant that that thing cannot be a part of it. In fact, eating food in New England was an incredible experience. The people there have been cooking the same food for years, so it’s really good, and besides that, we cooked at home a ton, making for a nice culinary experience. 🙂

Normally on long road trips (cough cough, 7 hour drives), the main food sources are 7/11 and Wendy’s with the occasional Cinnabun or perhaps a decaf Starbuck’s latte, but on this trip we stumbled upon a jewel in the heart of a tiny town in Massachusetts called Northborough. It was called Tavern in the Square with 8 locations throughout Massachusetts. The first thing on the menu I saw was risotto fritters, which immediately let me know that this was a step up from a Junior Double Cheeseburger Deluxe with a large Coke and fries. I checked out the specials.

my food

My food (excuse the finger)

I got the ancho spiced shrimp in lettuce wraps. It came with avocado creme fraiche sauce, corn and lettuce. It was amazing! I highly regret to inform you that I did not get the s’mores skillet for dessert. I got no dessert. I love that one of my favorite parts of the trip was stopping for lunch in a tiny town.

We headed to Cardigan Lodge, an AMC Lodge where we explored some of the little ponds.

photo 1

Cardigan Lodge

Cardigan was great, but the adventure started the next day. We hiked to Mizpah Hut and stayed there a night. The huts are run by college kids who cook all day for you. All day, there are baked goods, hot drinks and soup and at dinner there was fresh bread, split pea soup, stuffed shells, broccoli and gingersnaps. Yum, right? They make the best breakfasts, too.

mizpah1

Mizpah Hut

Mizpah Hut dining hall

Mizpah Hut dining hall

Here is a fact: the huts sleep 20-90 depending on the hut. Here is another fact: the next day was incredibly foggy.

We hiked for 6 hours to a 5,000 and something feet altitude and we missed the gorgeous views.

Rocks on the hike to LOTC

Rocks on the hike to LOTC

a flower against the fog

a flower against the fog

We were hiking with our backpacks, carrying our clothes, sleeping bags, food and water and it was a long stretch. By the time we reached the second hut, Lakes of the Clouds, let’s just say we were ready for some hot cocoa. Who wouldn’t be after walking through a cloud for 6 hours?

The fog was so dense that we could barely see the hut from 10 feet away.

The fog was so dense that we could barely see the hut from 10 feet away.

The LOTC hut greeted us with hot cocoa and gingerbread, and hot black bean and rice soup. We played Pictionary until dinner, and then heard about the Thru Hikers experiences on the Appalachian Trail, a trail from Georgia to Maine. They served us Tomato bisque, salad, mashed potatoes, beef and string beans and chocolate cake (It was the 100th anniversary of Lakes).

Out the window...

Out the window…

But (here’s the good part) waking up the next morning was like opening a present. The fog had lifted and we realized we were on the side of a mountain, with sweeping views.

Clouds...

Clouds…

Mountain views

Mountain views

photo 2

A cloud descends on a lake

A cloud descends on a lake

photo 3-3

We hiked down straight down wet rocks, which took about 6 hours, before we stopped on the way to my cousin’s house in Maine.

Our cousins love to cook, so there was a lot of home cooking, especially at the 4th of July party, where Israeli couscous, Coleslaw, Potato Dijon salad, Ribs, Salmon, brownies, Strawberry shortcake and a pecan pie we won in the town pie contest and auction. (Otisfield, ME is an adorable town.)

There was lots of fun cooking on our part, but this was a little distracting.

the lake

the lake

There was a dock outside of our house. That is not to say that food wasn’t a big part of it. I made a delightful crisp.

But that food will be coming soon. The next post is a summer meal straight from our kitchen.

On the way home, we stopped at The Beach Plum, where we ate corn chowder, lobster rolls, fried shrimp and potato chips before heading into the car.

chowder

shrimp2

Here are the top 3 things to do with food this summer:

– Make easy ice pops. If you have molds, great! If not, just pour OJ or lemonade into paper cups with sticks in them and freeze.

– Make trail mix for when you are on the go. Add: cashews, peanuts, dried apples, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, craisins, crispy M n Ms and almonds.

– Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Water seem boring? Steep water in lemon and blackberries in the fridge overnight for a little flavor!

New plans? Brownie of the month! Coming out soon. I have some great ideas :).

AND FINALLY:

I will be heading to camp for 2 weeks next week, so please forgive the long stretch of not posting for those two weeks. I’ll miss you all!

And as always,

KEEP COOKING 😉

Sugar Scrubs + a Printable!

We use sugar for lots of things– for example:

So yeah, lots and lots of sugar. But it wasn’t until my aunt bought me some sweet smelling sugar scrub that I did some research on sugar and health. Sure, sugar is not so healthy for your body and a high sugar diet probably won’t bring any gifts, but did you know:

1. Sugar exfoliates and softens skin without leaving residue that will block your pores.

2. Sugar removes dead skin which evens out skin tone and prevents wrinkles.

3. Homemade scrubs prevent acne, blackheads, whiteheads and other pimples AND fixes calloused and cracked heels.

Still not convinced? How about the fact that making sugar scrubs take 5 minutes, make a fantabulous gift and smell delish!

Here are 3 kinds:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 cup white, brown or (better) turbinado sugar
  • 1/2 cup oil (olive or softened coconut work great)

AND:

Cinnamon Vanilla:

  • 2 pinches ground cinnamon
  • A splash of vanilla extract

Lemon Olive Oil:

  • Use olive oil
  • A little lemon juice
  • A drop of yellow food coloring, optional

Mint:

  • A splash of peppermint extract
  • A bit of green food coloring, optional

MAKE IT:

  1. Mix all ingredients together
  2. Slather scrub on legs, feet, arms and anywhere else.
  3. Wash off.
  4. Easy as that!

I used Ball 4 oz Jelly Jars to put them in that I bought at my local grocery store, but any will do. Be sure to glue the adorable labels I made onto them…

printable is below!

Keep cooking (and moisturizing) 😉

What’s cooking soon? Up next: a recap of my classic New England vacation in food and an awesome summer meal straight from my family.

Here are the printable labels– adorable! Click on the link to download:  SugarScrubs

Contest News

Hi everyone! Sorry for the super late posting, but you are in for a surprise with three new posts I’m planning about my vacation in New England and plenty more fun. I know this may disappoint some, but I am canceling the recipe contest. I have valid reasons, though! Not that many people entered the contest, which I wholeheartedly understand, due to time limits. I felt that it wasn’t fair to the amazing Laurie and Susy to compare them to only each other. Maybe someday when the blog is bigger, I’ll try again. Thanks for all of your support!

Keep cooking 😉

How to Use Vanilla Beans: A Step by Step Tutorial

Tahitian vanilla beans. Tahitian vanilla beans have a slightly more fruity taste than the typical Madagascar/Bourbon type.

Tahitian vanilla beans. Tahitian vanilla beans have a slightly more fruity taste than the typical Madagascar/Bourbon type.

Ahh, vanilla (or as my 4 year old cousin says, “I want some valinna ishe cream!”) I often find myself searching the web or looking around on fun cooking websitesthere are always tons of recipes involving vanilla bean and when I go to the supermarket, there’s, GASP, vanilla bean ice cream, vanilla bean cake mix, vanilla bean cookies, vanilla bean milk, vanilla bean pudding, vanilla bean yogurt and everything else, which makes one wonder: what is the big deal about these skimpy beans anyway, and how do they work? Vanilla beans, in my opinion, can be quite intimidating for a few reasons:

  •  A lot of very professional chefs use vanilla bean as a luxury ingredient, which makes them seem very hard to maneuver.
  • Vanilla beans are the second most expensive spice, next to saffron, because vanilla beans are hard to maintain. Grown from orchids in tropical climates, one pod takes 10 years for an orchid to grow, before being fermented and cured for 6 months, just for one vanilla bean!
  • Vanilla beans have a process that you need to use to make them, and a few bad mistakes you can make. Just remember, practice makes perfect!

I once tried to use vanilla beans (notice, I used the word tried). I made a vanilla bean cake which would have worked out well, except I didn’t know how to use vanilla beans, so threw the whole bean into a food processor with sugar, which ended up overheating the food processor because it was too much work for it, and ruining the cake. Folks, if you don’t know how, don’t try it. But in the end, I recently made a vanilla bean bundt cake, which worked out quite well, after getting a lesson in using them from my friend who is a chef. In terms of types of vanilla bean: unless specified in your recipe, it doesn’t REALLY matter, but I would go with Madagascar because it is what people mostly think of.

There are a few great recipes you should try:

http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2011/01/vanilla-bean-pudding/ (a better version of the above KozyShack link)

http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2009/12/vanilla-roasted-pears/ (because this sounds so good, even though it’s totally summer now, and pears SHOULD be out of the picture, but then again, I SHOULD be frolicking in a meadow somewhere in France or relaxing on a beach with dolphins while sipping a piña colada in (sigh) Hawaii, but I still have to take math tests at school, so…)

http://smittenkitchen.com/tips/2015/01/21/make-your-own-vanilla-extract/ (this is a super fun rainy day project, and an amazing gift)

http://ourbestbites.com/2011/03/bananas-foster-bread-pudding/ (okay, okay, there’s no vanilla bean in this, but it looked so good!!)

http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2010/04/petite-vanilla-bean-scones/ (PS: these are one of my favorites to get at Starbucks, so if you don’t have time for this, buy some at your local overpriced hotspot)

http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2009/07/vanilla-bean-ice-cream/ (had to include a classic)

So here is how to use the split n scrape tactic for vanilla beans:

  1. Split your bean: lay a bean vertically across a cutting board and take a small paring knife and gently drag it deep across the bean, splitting it lengthwise, as shown.

    Split your bean: lay a bean vertically across a cutting board and take a small paring knife and gently drag it deep across the bean, splitting it lengthwise, as shown.

  2. Scrape your bean: using the side of your knife, drag the knife through the center of the half-bean, picking up those little speckles, before shedding them into a bowl. Because beans are expensive, try not to waste too much. If you have extra, save it for next time.

    Scrape your bean: using the side of your knife, drag the knife through the center of the half-bean, picking up those little speckles, before shedding them into a bowl. Because beans are expensive, try not to waste too much. If you have extra, save it for next time.

    You’re done! See, it wasn’t too hard!

So, now what? Obviously you still have the pod, which shouldn’t go to waste because they are very expensive, as mentioned twice before. Here are a few great things to do: (credits to Food52 and Dorie Greenspan for their fabulous ideas, and to Claude for the vanilla milk recipe)

  1. Make vanilla sugar (or salt). Either dump your pods to soak in a jar of sugar or salt, or chop up  dried bean and slam it in the food processor with the sugar or salt. Use in cookies or on other recipes. (learn from my mistakes and be careful with the food processor)

    Make vanilla sugar (or salt). Either dump your pods to soak in a jar of sugar or salt, or chop up dried bean and slam it in the food processor with the sugar or salt. Use in cookies or on other recipes. (learn from my mistakes and be careful with the food processor)

  2. CREDITS TO FOOD52. Make some poached fruit: (this works great with apples pears and other stone fruit). Skewer a pod through the fruit before poaching or roasting for supreme flavor.

    CREDITS TO FOOD52 for the photo. Make some poached fruit: (this works great with apples pears and other stone fruit). Skewer a pod through the fruit before poaching or roasting for supreme flavor.

  3. Make some DIY Vanilla extract for your recipes. Use this recipe: http://smittenkitchen.com/tips/2015/01/21/make-your-own-vanilla-extract/

    Make some DIY Vanilla extract for your recipes.  Use this recipe.

  4. Steep some pods in your Chai tea…yummmm. (I always love Tazo Chai with honey and milk)
  5. Make bath salts! Chop your pods and mix with some epsom salts and vanilla extract for delicious smelling bathtime. (credits to Dorie Greenspan and Mary Dodd)
  6. Make REAL vanilla milk. Steep vanilla pods in milk in the fridge for as long as you like.

A FINAL NOTE: obviously, vanilla beans are associated with sweet foods, but please don’t hesitate to use them in savory recipes. Stuff some roast chicken with them, roast them with carrots, or make a spicy vanilla dressing–the options are endless!

Thanks everyone! I hope you enjoyed this post and you benefited from it. Never fear the pod! HINT on next post: it doesn’t have to do with eating…Keep cooking! 😉

New Theme!

Hello there! You are probably baffled right now with this site’s new appearance, but…never fear! This is the same site, with the same recipes and the same reviews and the same writer. Doesn’t it look so much better?!

Be back soon with a recipe…but for now, keep cooking! 😉

Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake with Raspberries

mombdaycake

I know, I know. I haven’t posted since MOTHER’S DAY. I am very sorry. I had a lot going on! But never mind that, because my mother’s birthday was last weekend and I decided to make a cake. Her favorite cake. I decided to make a Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake. It was pretty simple, and the good part was that I learned how to split a vanilla bean (post about that coming up), and it turned out pretty fantastically. I did not take pictures along the way, unfortunately. I cannot express enough the true deliciousness of this: if you are going to make any dessert on this site, make this one.

Here we go:

adapted from sweetapolita

Ingredients:

For the Cake:
    • 3 cups (375 g) all-purpose flour, sifted
    • 1 teaspoon (4 g) baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon (2 g) baking soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon (4 g) salt
    • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons (2-1/4 sticks)(255 g) unsalted butter, softened
    • 1-3/4 cups (350 g) granulated sugar
    • 2 vanilla beans, halved lengthwise or 2 tablespoons (30 ml) vanilla bean paste
    • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
    • 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 ml) pure lemon extract
    • 1 cup (240 ml) buttermilk, at room temperature
For the Glaze:
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped or 1 tablespoon 915 ml) vanilla bean paste
  • 2-3 tablespoons (30-45 ml) whole milk
  • about 1 cup confectioners’ sugar

Make it:

For the Cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Generously butter pan and dust with flour, knocking out excess.
  2. Whisk together dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Beat together butter and sugar in an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape seeds from vanilla beans with tip of a paring knife and add into butter mixture, reserving pods for another use, and beat until well combined, about 1 minute.
  4. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in lemon extract until well combined. At low speed add flour mixture and milk alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture, mixing until just combined.
  5. Spoon batter into pan, smoothing and spreading evenly. Gently tap pan on counter to eliminate air bubbles. Bake until the tip of a knife or skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool in pan 1 hour, then invert onto a rack and cool completely, about 1 hour more. Start soaking vanilla.
For the Glaze:
  1. Split vanilla bean and scrape seeds into whole milk. Let sit in a spouted container, such as a large pyrex measuring cup, for about an hour. Add confectioners’ sugar gradually, whisking, until you get desired consistency–about 1 cup.
  2. You want to make sure that it’s not too runny, or it won’t dry white on the cake, and will run off too quickly. It should take a few seconds to whisk it, and it will feel too thick at first–keep whisking until you get desired thickness. If too thick, add a teaspoon or so of the vanilla milk.
  3. Once the cake has cooled, drizzle glaze over top.
  4. Enjoy!
  5. serve with raspberries

I hope you enjoyed! Keep cooking 😉

Mother’s Day Breakfast

flowers

Mother’s day is tomorrow, as you may know, and I have decided to not miss the boat on this one, like I did with the holidays, and other important days. A classic mother’s day tradition is to bring your mom breakfast in bed. Pancakes, crepes, blintzes, eggs and more are always a delightful surprise. But if you think about it, it’s not the most logical plan. What with the crumbs, the mess and more, bugs and other unwanted pests can be attracted. But regardless of whether or not you are bringing your mom breakfast, or sitting down with her, here are some fun suggestions:

  • Try your hand at crepes! Use this recipe, and fill it with some super fun toppings! Try some of these: Nutella (my personal favorite) with banana, strawberries, or other fruits; try this fancy sauce from Martha Rose Shulman; fill them with stewed apples and cinnamon; or brie with fruit and walnuts.
  • Make a delightful scramble: mix tarragon, chives, other herbs and parmesan, plus milk, salt and pepper into whisked eggs and scramble over medium heat.
  • Make an omelet!
  • Try making pancakes with fun mix-ins such as berries, nuts, chocolate chips and even granola. (Trust me)
  • Have something for breakfast that she taught you to make? Do it!
  • Cut out the words #1 MOM in a slice of toast with a small paring knife…it’s a small, but thoughtful gesture.
  • Make some smoothies!

I hope you enjoyed these ideas! Keep cooking! 😉

Key Lime Pie

keylimepie

photo by author

Before the oven

It seems like, despite the long, long winter, that spring (if not summer) has finally arrived. The sun is shining and it reached (GASP) 81 degrees the other day. And for me, summer means pie. And lots of it. I had a potluck for my swim team and decided to bust out my dad’s favorite…key lime pie. What could be better than crispy crust made of buttery grahams filled with creamy, zesty filling that drips down your chin as you sit outside by the pool. Unfortunately, I was lacking the a) pool, b) the time and c) the pie pan, due to my everything-in-storage-super-small-kitchen situation. So, I forgot about the pool, cleared my schedule, borrowed a pan and bought some sweetened condensed milk.

crumbs

I mean the only REALLY work-requiring part was smashing the graham crackers. I put them in a sealed gallon-size Ziploc bag, and then whacked it with a wooden spoon. But that was the beginning. It didn’t really work, sooooo…

smash

I jumped on it! Hey, the bag was closed. But it was fun and childish and I (personally) really enjoyed it. So yay!

pressing

To finish the crust, I pressed it down with a measuring cup.

ingredients

The other good thing about key lime pie, is that all of the ingredients are easily found at any supermarket. You don’t even NEED actual key limes. I used regular Persian ones, which worked great. So don’t stress over that, and plus, Annie’s organic grahams worked fine.

mix

And honestly, my hand mixer worked just fine. (I’m still finding life hard without my beloved KitchenAid.)

condensed

And though there isn’t much sugar, the sweetened condensed milk takes care of that.  So goodbye winter, hello spring and welcome to the world key lime pie!

pie2

Key Lime Pie

adapted from smitten kitchen

serves plenty of people, depending on the size of slices.

INGREDIENTS:

Crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups (155 grams) finely ground graham cracker crumbs (from about 10 crackers)
  • 3 tablespoons (40 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 pinches sea salt
  • 7 tablespoons (100 grams) unsalted butter, melted

Filling:

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons finely grated lime zest
  • 3 large egg yolks (though extra-large would do you no harm here)
  • 1 14-ounce (396-gram) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2/3 cup (155 ml) fresh lime juice (from about 1 dozen tiny key limes or 4 persian/regular limes)

To Finish:

  • 3/4 cup (175 ml) heavy whipping cream
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons powdered or granulated sugar, to taste
  • Extra lime zest, for the top

MAKE IT!

  1. Heat oven To 350°F (176°C).
  2. Make crust: Combine graham crumbs, sugar and salt in a medium bowl and stir until mixed. Add butter and stir until crumbs are evenly coated.
  3. Press crumbs into the bottom and up the sides of a standard 9-inch pie dish. I used the outer edge of a heavy measuring cup to press in neat, firm sides but nobody will be the wiser if you just use your fingertips. Bake crust until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Set on cooling rack while you prepare filling. Leave oven on.
  4. Make filling: Zest limes into the bottom of a medium bowl until you have 1 1/2 tablespoons. DO NOT THROW AWAY YOUR LIMES, EVEN AFTER GETTING THE JUICE! Beat zest and egg yolks with an electric mixer until pale and thick, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add sweetened condensed milk and beat until thickened again, about 3 minutes more. Squeeze zested limes until you have 2/3 cups juice. Whisk into yolk mixture until combined. Pour into graham crust and bake pie for another 10 minutes, until set but not browned on top at all. Let pie cool completely before adding topping — you can do this in your freezer (but don’t forget about it) to hasten the process, and your pie reward, along.
  6. Make topping: In a medium bowl, beat cream and sugar until soft peaks are formed. Spread over top of chilled pie. Ideally, pie should be chilled at least another 2 to 3 hours with the cream on top so that it can fully set before you take a slice, but whether that happens is between you and your pie. Top with lime zest.
  7. Key lime pie keeps in fridge for a week. Enjoy!

Keep cooking! 😉

Messed-up Egg Sandwich + How to Cook in a Tiny Kitchen

The egg was messed up on purpose

The egg was messed up on purpose

Hello, everyone. I am dearly sorry that I haven’t posted in so long, but…

I MOVED! Yes, we moved out of our apartment after almost (!) 15 years and I was very sad to leave. We will be moving into an amazing new apartment sooner or later, but for now we are in a rental. But this isn’t any rental…this rental has the smallest kitchen in the world. In fact, we did not have enough room in our kitchen for various foods and so a closet in the hallway is serving as food storage. The closet right next to the one that has my dad’s button-downs.

It's actually sorta cute :)

It’s actually sorta cute 🙂

And so, this happened. Excuse the bad quality. And the apartment itself is nice, especially with its garden and (finally) grill, but it’s hard to think about that when this is the amount of counter space you have:

kitchen

And this is the amount of fridge space you have:

fridge

I know that our fridge food supply is slightly depleated

But, even in these hard times, I have some tips if some of you are facing kitchen space struggles.

1. Clean up! If you clean up as you go along, more space will magically appear.

2. Find unlikely places to put things. If I am making Key Lime Pie, and there is a rack of dishes blocking my way, I can put the rack of dishes outside, in the bathroom, in the sink, or if they are dry, in the pantry. See?

3. Maximize your space! Put most things you aren’t using in closets or cabinets, creating more counter space. Also: use every surface available! Who says that the dining room table isn’t a good place to mix things?

4. Cook at other people’s houses. Have a friend with an enormous kitchen? Um, ask to cook there! Plus, then you and your friend can have a blast cooking.

5. Stay positive! If you keep grumbling “There is no space here!”, it will certainly feel that way.

egg

sorry for the bad quality

But wait! The recipe! We forgot that this was a recipe!

So, as you may have realized, with this small kitchen, it is very limited the things I can cook. (You will be seeing a lot of salads.) But for me, it is my Saturday morning ritual to make myself an amazing breakfast sandwich on whatever bread we may have. (In  this case, it was ciabatta.) This was made a week ago, and ironically, as I am posting this on a Saturday, this is the only time I haven’t eaten a breakfast sandwich. I actually had pancakes. Oops.

muttled-egg

It started out with me making a fried egg, as so many stories often do, when, all of the sudden, when I was flipping it, it got all messed up! But have no fear, because, turns out that that actually tasted as good, if not better than normal fried egg. So yay!

boursin

Then I found this in my fridge, which I had bought at the store and oh my gosh it is soooooo amazing! It is called Boursin (pronounced boar-sanh, as in croissant) and it has (swoon) garlic and herbs.

bread-boursin

So I smothered a piece of toasted ciabatta with that and then tossed the egg on there and…

voila!

I had a little snack of bread and Boursin while the eggs were cooking, but is anyone really that surprised?!

Messed-up Egg Sandwich with Boursin

Serves one

Ingredients:

  • 1 large egg
  • Two pieces of good ciabatta bread
  • Boursin Garlic and herb cheese
  • Butter
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Bacon, cooked (optional)

Make it!

  1. Butter your pan, and put it on medium-high.
  2. Toast your bread.
  3. Crack the egg and start to fry it, then break it up with the spatula until it is kind of half-fried, half-scrambled.
  4. Spread one piece of the bread with the creamy Boursin, and put the bacon, if using, on the other one.
  5. Place the egg on the bacon/non-cheese side. Cut it in half. ENJOY!

Thanks everyone! Keep cooking! 😉