Trust me, this is the shortest name for this dish I could come up with. If you wanted the full rundown of the name it would include a laundry list of other ingredients, it would include teriyaki, garlic, lemon thyme, salt, pepper, chili sauce, lemon and lime basils and well – salmon. But let’s face it, it would just be tiring for the eyes to read and on a Monday we can’t count on our attention spans being long enough to take it all in an process it. At least I can’t count on mine for that…
I figured keeping it short sweet and to the point was the best way to grab your attention.
Did it work?
Anyway, it’s Monday.
I’m tuckered out from an adventure filled weekend back in the now-mostly-harvested wheat fields of Palouse (See above. Darn for me? Right?) and tonight after a full day of work and then teaching a cake decorating class, I’ll be why lie? – lazy to cook.
For days such as today, this recipe is my go-to.
It’s undeniably easy, absolutely lightening fast and you don’t have to toil for an hour over a hot stove to get it done. 5 minutes to mix the glaze, 20 minutes in the oven, and BAM – done.
Below is the mash up of the ingredients required.
~ 1/3 cup Teriyaki sauce
~ 1 tsp Garlic, minced
~ 1/4 cup Sweet Chili Sauce
~ Pinch of Salt
~ 1/4 tsp Pepper
~ 1 tsp minced Lemon Basil
~ 1 tsp minced Lime Basil
~ 1/2 tsp Lemon Thyme, minced
And 2 servings of Wild Caught Salmon*. Preheat your oven to 350 and you’re off to the races.
Strip the leaves off of the stalks of the little herb stems, mince them up into itty bitty pieces.
Put everything into a bowl and whisk with your fork.
Pour it over your wild caught salmon and toss into the oven. Half way through (10 minutes), open up the oven and baste them one more times to make sure they’re thoroughly saturated in glaze then close the door and leave them to do their thing.
They are a thing of beauty.
Easy peasy, and with a side of steam vegg – a healthy meal fit for the dieter in you. Now, go – get your salmon and glaze it from here ’til high heaven!
*Sidenote* – Please for the love of all that is holy, use wild caught salmon. If you don’t know the difference between “Atlantic” and “Wild Caught” Salmon, let me give you the cold hard facts… “Atlantic” salmon is just an ice way of saying “Poop Salmon”. Growing up in the great PNW, we know the difference between the two and it is vast as the Grand Canyon. Atlantic is farm raised in nets that sit over the same spot of water for wayyyyyyy to long, feeding the salmon protein packed fish feed that bulks them up and adds color to their flesh to make it look more appealing. And when they poop, it all falls to the floor of the water, killing everything around it and they end up re-ingesting all of the bad stuff they just shat out. Not to mention the texture is mushy and well, blah. So spend a few extra dollars, you’re conscious and gag-reflex will thank you. Over and out.
There are days when I, simply put – don’t feel like doing any actual cooking. This day was Monday.
The day had started off on a high strung note, with me bounding out of bed at 7:00 on my day off…What is wrong with me? Don’t answer that, it’s something we can discuss at length on another day.
Between the paying of bills, fixing of ice cream, cleaning, scrubbing, dog washing, 6 loads of laundry doing, and packing of Ben to go back home to eastern Washington for some much deserved R&R – cooking was the last thing I wanted to do for myself the night before I went back to the daily grind of 4:30 am alarm screams and caffeine deficiencies.
So I made myself some popcorn.
The last month I’ve been on the Weight Watchers program. I haven’t enjoyed as much success on it as I would have liked, only a few net pounds lost, so the WW cookbooks came out and I flipped through them for something with minimal points, good taste and very easy made. The 15-minute Weight Watchers Cookbook had it!
Hello, I’m Megan and I’m being totally lazy.
Here is where the popcorn came in. 5 minutes and done-zo.
~One bag of 94% Reduced Fat Butter Flavored Popcorn.
(94% and it’s still butter flavored, yes please!)
~ 2 Tbsp. Grated Parmesan Cheese
~ 1 tsp. Paprika
~ 1/2 tsp. Chili Powder
~ 1/8th tsp. Ground Red Pepper
~ 1/4 tsp Salt
~ 1/4 tsp Garlic Salt
(it called for 1/8th tsp, but who are we kidding garlic is awesome)
The bag got popped, everything got dumped in and shaken like a martini. Do a little running-man action while you’re at it. C’mon you know you wanna…
Then pour ‘er in a bowl and devour.
So I sat down with the dog, ate my popcorn and tossed kernels into his drooling face. 5 for me, two for him. It’s a good relationship a doggie mama and her pup have.
And the best part – Zero points. Skinny jeans here I come!
Let us note, that with all of the chaos during my day, when I took this picture I wasn’t at all fazed that I had spilled ice cream onto the placemat earlier in the day when the Peach ice cream was photographed. Clearly that should show how out of it I really was on Monday and utterly exhausted.
Forgive me? Thank you. I knew you’d understand. – But let’s focus on the popcorn, deal? Deal.
I am claiming a creamy, icy, summer, delicious, fall down over your chin victory with this peach custard ice cream.
Last week one of my coworkers brought me in an entire grocery bag full of peaches from his very own tree, plopped them down on my desk and told me to go to town.
Don’t mind if I do!
But with so many of them, I had to find multiple uses for these fuzzy beauties. First on the list – ice cream. Am I the only one who finds peaches the epitome of summer? I imagine an expansive wrap around porch on a southern plantation, gobbling up a peach as quick as I can, savoring every bit but trying to avoid the inevitable dribbling of the juice down my chin. All I need next is a mint julep.
With ice cream, I figured I can hold onto that summer peach feeling a little longer while preserved in creamy frozen awesomness. Yup, it’s a word – look it up.
For your grocery list be sure to include:
~ 2 cups Whole Milk ~ 2 cups Half and Half ~ 1 cups sugar, divided ~ Pinch of Salt ~ 2 ½ cups Peaches, pureed ~ 1 Tbsp. Vanilla Extract ~ 5 large egg yolks
Yesterday I put the ice cream maker’s freezing bowl into the freezer anxiously anticipating today’s ice cream making cahoots. It’s just too darn bad it takes so long for that thing to freeze, because I was on tanterhooks all night.
To further exacerbate the anticipation, I had to whip together the cream and egg base for the custard. Over medium heat the milk, half and half, 1/2 cup of the sugar, salt and vanilla were mixed together until they just barely began to boil.
While waiting for my excruciatingly slow burner to heat my milk, I got to pureeing the peaches. Each one was peeled, halved, seeded and diced to fit into the processor. With about 5 pulses, it was ready for business. They were set aside for later.
In another small bowl, the egg yolks and second half cup of sugar were whisked together until the sugar dissolved and it all became a thick paste. The most glorious color of butter yellow it was. I’d paint my walls this color.
When the milk/cream finally began to just boil, the eggs were tempered with 1/3 of the cream/milk and whisked until incorporated. I repeated it with another 1/3 of the cream/milk and then poured the whole kit and caboodle back into the sauce pan for another round of heating.
This time, over medium-low heat the egg/cream mixture was heated until it began to thicken just enough to cover the back of my spoon.
This is one of those times to be vigilant and not go paint your nails…If your eggs start to boil, they’ll cook and curdle leaving you with an over done mess and having to start over.
Once they had just started to become thick, the peaches and egg mixture were combined into a fridge friendly bowl, folded together, covered and placed into the fridge for a nice long sleep in the cold.
Agony! This waiting was torturous. A spoonful of it sent me into a tailspin of woefulness over the utterly slow passing of time.
So this morning, finally, the frozen bowl and chilled mixture were removed from their respective chilling places and melded together to create utter glory.
With 20 minutes in the ice cream maker it was all ready to go. FINALLY! And now with Ben being gone, I’m trying to not let my self-control get the better of me and save enough for him when he comes home next week. This is going to be a battle of epic proportions, me against self control and instant gratification. Pray for me.
With that being said – go make this. Your porch swinging, Southern-drawling alter ego will thank you.
My life has clearly been lacking as of late. How is it that I have lasted this long without adventuring into the wonderful world of risotto?
Vaguely do I remember growing up with risottos made by mi madre, and at the age of 13 the white wine vapors didn’t appeal to my juvenile and love-of-all-junk-food palette. But now…it’s done a complete 180 and I can now say, I will forever be known as a risotto addict.
Angels are singing.
I picked up a few cups of arborio rice at the market, and after searching for a lobster mushroom to replace the one I left in Boise, I settled for a few carmel colored chanterelles instead. Meh, such is life.
In a small saucepan, 2 cups of chicken stock and 2 cups of water was brought to a boil. For good measure I tossed in a sprig of rosemary and a bay leaf for added oomph. Once that was brought to a slow boil for a few minutes, I turned it off and left it warm.
To a large non-stick skillet I added two tablespoons of butter, letting it melt and start to simmer a bit. After coating all rice with butter until the edges started to soften – 3-4 minutes later. Here, the chicken and water from the saucepan was poured over the rice and covered. (I removed the rosemary and bay leaves, discarding them.)
On medium heat, I left it to do it’s business for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
While the rice was simmering, I diced up the cup of mushrooms and poured them into the mix. Also adding 1 tablespoon of minced garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 onion minced.
Just before the liquid was completely evaporated and the rice was 90% done, I added 1 cup of white wine and let the final stage of cooking commence. And holy goodness did it smell amazing!
When the wine was absorbed and the rice was soft, 3/4 cup of parmesan cheese was mixed in creating a creamy, delicious, drool worthy dish that I wanted to plunge face first into and not resurface for air. Not ashamed, not one bit.
For the pan seared scallops, I heated 3 tablespoons of veggie oil into a non-stick pan until the oil was almost smoking.
The scallops were laid on several paper towels and dabbed with extra towels to make sure they were devoid of all moisture and ready for a proper sear. As they were plopped into the oil, they immediately took to the heat and sizzled away for 1-2 minutes on each side.
My memories only include scallops that were overdone to the point of tire rubber, and with that memory in mind it was imperative that they were not over-done. When a crisp little brown was on each side of the scallops, I considered them done and miraculously – they were just done on the outside and warm but still tender on the inside. Brilliant!
So, as the risotto was finished and kept warm, it was dished up with a few scallops placed on top. A little risotto and a bite of scallop made for a perfectly quick summer dish that didn’t heat the hell out of my kitchen and gave me a new confidence in something I was to wimpy and pansy to make all this time.
Next week – more risotto. I require more risotto!!
I’m drowning in fresh fruit right now. Not that it is a bad thing, by any stretch of the imagination – I am loving it! But with so much of it laying around I’ve got to use it all before it goes bad! It would be a sin against the season to waste any of the beautiful succulent fruit.
This week, I solicited ideas for what to do with the 8 pounds of blackberries and 8 pounds of peaches on the WBACC Facebook page and the responses were incredible. Everything from peach and blackberry pie, to ice cream, to peach melbas, oh my!!
Well thanks to the inspiration of Katie from The Hill Country Cook, I had to start my blackberry/peach journey with Pocket Pies. A few weeks ago, she did a handy dandy and equally adorable video for the Texas Farm Bureau featuring her Peach Pocket Pies. Sold! That is where I needed to be.
With the plethora of Summer Berry Pies that I’ve been making, there’s been a few spare pie crusts in the freezer. I whipped one of those bad boys out, and got to rolling it into submission. Pie crusts and me have never gotten along. Until I gave Ms. Ree’s Perfect Pie Crust a try. Thank goodness for that pie crust recipe, or I’d still be buying the pre-rolled Pilsbury stuff you find at the grocery. Not that its a bad thing, I just feel accomplished when a pie crust actually comes out like it’s supposed to. Minor victories.
Anywho, there’s a lot of fruit, pie crust and inspiration. Brilliant way to start a cooking adventure don’t you think?
I began with the peaches. Since they were particularly ripe and juicy, I didn’t want them to saturate my pie crusts and leave them sad, soggy and full of shame. Instead of throwing fresh pieces of fruit in there, I opted for bringing the peaches to a boil in a small sauce pan with a half a cup of sugar and a little vanilla. This way the excess moisture will be eliminated and the delicious peachy taste will be concentrated. This is a tip to use with any watery fruit in a dessert – like blueberry muffins.
So, with my perfect pie crust thawed, I took a rolling pin to it and rolled it out to about a 1/4″ thickness. The only way for me to get a decently round shape out of there was to use a bowl or in my case – the lid to the small saucepan. It had an abrupt edge, perfect for cutting the dough. Do you like multi tasking tools? Who doesn’t?
With 9 rounds cut out, I placed them onto a heavy duty non stick baking pan and proceeded to dollop a couple of tablespoons of peach preserves onto one half of the round, topping it with a few blackberries.
When they were all filled, the other half was flopped over and sealed with the tines of a fork.
A few vent holes were punctured into the tops as well. One thing I did forget to do was brush them with egg-wash. Whoops. It was 7:30 at night – brain was addled.
For the last one – it told me that it wanted to be a mock-free form pie.
Whilst they were baking at 375 for 25 minutes, I made a glaze like Katie, whisking together powdered sugar, a couple tablespoons of milk, a tinge of vanilla and a little orange zest for fun. Cause I’m a rebel like that…
They came out wonderfully brown, beautifully colored and smacking you with all the delightfulness that summer has to offer. Win!
I’m hoping that the covering of the “Boise Food Scene” is going to make me sound more like a 25 year old than of an alcoholic, but I can understand where one might make the wrong assumption with the following pictures and descriptions.
Let us also note – that Boise is currently the center of the sun and when you’re trying to beat the heat, a fruity and booze filled drink does set ones’ mood to a lower level of uncomfortable when you’re not fully prepared for or accustomed to the heat.
First Sara and I partook in (read: guzzled down) a John Daly. If you haven’t drank one of these – get one it. Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka and Lemonade. Go, right now.
Fresh, fruity and full of awesomeness – this is simply one you have to try if you’re ever at Fork in Boise.
Any drink with basil is a drink for me.
With the drinks – comes the food.
All of us surrounding the table are Seattlites. Sure, it may seem dodgy to some to mow down a bowl of clams when you’re landlocked in the high mountain desert – but at Fork, it’s fresh and heavenly. Thankfully they are a farm to table restaurant using only what they can immediately gets their paws on. And with these being flown out the day before- I’m comfortable with this lot.
Dang were they amazing. And I’m not a shellfish kinda girl.
Now, maybe I should introduce you to my extended family. This is Sara, being well, Sara. She’s a horse riding, firefighting, ranching, political science wiz and super gorgeous badass. Did I mention firefighter? Seriously – who does that?!
This is of course, Farley. Well, Nick if you’re being polite. How this kid has put up with this group of girls is beyond me. With frequent punches to the arm (from Sara) and swimming in a sea of estrogen this weekend – the kid can hold his own. Bravo Farley. Bravo.
And of course – Ms. Lauren. She’s a beaut, uber-hilarious, full of sarcasm and unadulterated wit.
We can keep her.
Lastly, of course – is me. HI!
Back to the food – you already know enough about me…
We finished the clams and devoured our dinners. There were burgers a bound, made with only the best of the best beef. I challenge you to taste the difference in beefs from the store’s mass produced lot meat to the beef raised by a local rancher. Night and day. Take a stab in the dark at which one wins.
I opted for a BAM Sammy – a glorified BLT on a house made bun, maple thick sliced bacon and a pesto aioli. Sorry whilst I drool a bit more.
It was gone in 10 minutes flat.
Saturday, we ran around the downtown Farmer’s market which has doubled in size since the last time I was there. Boy howdy – this was a localvore’s dream.
A made my way home with a half pound of truffle cheddar, and an Israeli melon. It had a mango/tomato smell to it – but after an morning of marketing in my shoulder bag – it was musty and stale.
Thank goodness it tasted good and made for it…
Let us note – it’s Monday and the bag still smells. But dang was it a good melon.
But what is a farmer’s market without a baker or well, ten. The words “Rum and Coke Cupcake” jumped right off the page. Lauren and I were ravenous honey badgers over these beauties. I’ve got to get working on a replica of these. Stat.
The last purchase of the market excursion was this so-ugly-its-almost-pretty mushroom. It’s a lobster mushroom, and never having come across one before I had to buy it for a cooking experiment. Not only are they richly colored like a steamed lobster – they actually smell like one! For real, no joking here.
I was thinking a little lobster-mushroom risotto with truffle cheddar would be pretty amazing…what do you think?
(btw, that’s a blue cheese stuffed and fried green olive on top…yeah, they went there)
And if this food-overindulgence wasn’t enough – we went back to Fork the following morning to feed and sustain ourselves with Make Your Own Bloody Marys,
Pineapple Upside Down Pancakes,
Biscuits and Gravy,
and the most perfectly poached eggs and maple bacon.
I don’t think I have fully recovered from my food coma just yet.
The epitome of one’s childhood culinary excellence revolves around four little ingredients – cheese, noodles, butter and cream. That’s what makes a kids world go ’round. Well, mac and cheese with hotdogs, too.
Now sure, we may have grown up living off the creaminess of Kraft boxed macaroni and cheese, but as we grow up and “mature” (I say that with the loosest of terms)…our tastes change and we are left unsatisfied by the lack of imagination that a cardboard box can provide.
Enter here – crab.
And bacon. For goodness sake, don’t forget the bacon.
The recipe is quick enough for a week night meal and satisfies everything that the grown-up palette needs to survive.
And if you are a seafood lover at all – this one is right up your alley.
For the second to last America’s Test Kitchen Blogger Challenge, I wanted to makes sure I had an ace up my sleeve. Using their well researched and “they’ve done all the hard work, so I just have to make it” easy reproducible techniques I was able to make my dish incredible. A few substitutions here and there from their perfected Classic Macaroni and Cheese recipe and wham-oh, a carbo-holics dream on a plate.
To begin at the beginning you will need.
~ 8 ounces, dry elbow noodles
~ 2 1/2 Tablespoon Butter
~ 3 Tablespoon All Purpose Flour
~ 1 tsp. Powdered Mustard
~ 2 1/2 cups Milk
~ 4 ounces, shredded Medium Cheddar
~ 4 ounces, shredded White Cheddar
~ 2 ounces, shredded Smoked Cheddar
~ 2 slices, cooked bacon – chopped
~ 5-6 ounces, lump Real Crab Meat
Easy peasy, no?
Here lay the bacon, chopped, ready and waiting. You tell me if you can keep your hands off those little pieces of bacon. One little tidbit here and there won’t hurt ya, until you realize you devoured the whole pile and had to chop more…
In my dutch oven I brought to a boil about 6 cups of water, and cooked the elbow pastas until al dente – 7-ish minutes. After I drained them and avoided the almost-inevitable steam burns, they were set aside and covered with foil to keep warm.
With an empty and still hot dutch oven, I threw in the butter bringing it to a simmer.
After letting it foam and bubble away for a minute or two, the flour and mustard was added in to create a rue.
Over medium heat the mixture was whisked into submission until a golden brown color just began to appear. When it had reached it’s heavenly state, the 2 1/2 cups of milk was tempered in and brought to a boil.
To ensure proper thickening of your rue, make sure you bring your sauce to a boil! I can’t count the times, that out of sheer fear of scorching milk I didn’t bring it to a boil and regretted the results.
And hey, what’s the worse that could happen? You just toss it and start over!
Cooking is an endless learning experience. True story.
Once the milk had reached a boil, it was turned down to a slow simmer and whisked until it resembled a nice heavy cream. Proper thickening at it’s finest, and a minor victory for me.
To this glorious sauce, the cheese is added. I don’t know about you, but I love cheese. Cheese and carbs is where it is at. Hello, my name is Megan and I’m a cheese and carb-ohlic. I swear it’s a problem passed down through one’s mother. Thanks, Ma!
I decided to go the way of the cheddar for this recipe, tossing in three varieties, two yellows and one white. The smoked cheddar added a fun flavor to the mac, not overpowering the dish but letting its presence be known.
Into the pot they all went, being whisked away and melted into a oblivion.
When it was thickened again after about 3 minutes, I unceremoniously dumped in the noodles and bacon ready to plunge my face in and not resurface for air. But I refrained….it was so tough.
Last of all was the crab. Being from Seattle, where we have seafood aplenty I had to buy the real thing – dungeness. No cheating here! The use of “Krab” with a “K” would be a sin – do it for yourself and buy the real deal.
The 6 ounces of lump meat that I procured was perfectly portioned for this dish, giving you a little bit of crab and a little bit of cheesy noodles all in one bite.
Once it’s in there, you can do one of two things. Top it with a few breadcrumbs and broil it until golden, or just hoover it straight away.
I opted for the later. I couldn’t resist.
So there you have it. A quick, easy, simply delicious meal that will bring out the kid in you…with a slightly more mature palette of course.
The blackberries are ripening and we now we are enjoying weather that includes sunshine and temperatures above 60! Hopefully this doesn’t come off as braggy to the rest of the nation reeling from the heat and ready for winter, let alone fall, to take over – but it’s just been a particularly chilly and un-summery summer here, so us here Seattleites are just going to take what we can get and run with it.
Since the blackberries are becoming plump and oh-so-deliciously juicy I wanted to make something that captured everything summer had to give and not be so heavy as to weigh you down in the heat.
Here is where I turned again…begin to roll your eyes ’cause you know what’s comin’, to ATK. I swear I’m not vying for a sponsorship from them or a lifetime subscription to their magazine, but when in doubt they are the resource I turn to most frequently.
Today’s selection was from the Complete Series Cookbook and the magazine I will be giving away “ATK Healthy Kitchen”, where I plucked out the Summer Berry Pie.
Perfectly summery, not sickly sweet and best of all – it’s not meant to be baked.
Actually, let me rephrase. I substituted the original graham cracker crust with the Perfect Pie Crust from Miss Ree, since I had one ready and waiting in the freezer. Let’s note – I’m just to lazy to make a whole new type of crust when I had one ready to go. Gosh, those really are handy to just keep on hand for such occasions.
Since this was a “no-bake” pie, and I made the executive decision to use a baked crust, I wanted to pre-bake it so that the filling would slip right in and it’d be done. I rolled it out, mashed it into my non-stick pie pan, untidily crimping the edges and baked the bad boy for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
For the first 15 minutes of it, I placed a square of foil over the dough, and weighted it down with a cup and a half of pinto beans. I’m to cheap to buy pie weights, so no judging. The second half of the baking time, I removed the foil and let the bottom of the crust brown up.
Told ya it was an untidily crimped pie crust…
While the crust sat aside to cool, I broke out the immersion blender and a boat load of blackberries. ATK’s Summer Berry Pie calls for a total of six cups of berries, 2 blueberry, 2 raspberry and 2 blackberry. Not having blueberries or raspberries, and being to lazy to go to the store, I opted for just a blackberry version of this delectable beast.
In a deep bowl, I pureed 2 1/2 cups of blackberries. When all of the chunks were gone, I poured the mixture into a sieve over another bowl, stirring the contents around and pushing the juice through until only the seeds and skins remained.
Into the puree mixture went 3 tablespoons of cornstarch and 1/2 cup of sugar. With a good whisking around the bowl, it was ready for the stove. Now, although this is a no-bake pie, there is a little cooking involved – but these steps are imperative, so make sure not to skip them.
The bowl of blackberry puree, cornstarch and sugar was added to a small saucepan and whisked over medium heat until it thickened to the consistency of a pudding. When it reached that state, I let it cool on the counter until just warm as ATK said to do.
When the warmed puree and crust were cool enough to handle it was time for the final assembly. To the bottom of the pie crust, I poured in the warm puree mixture and spread it evenly over the bottom of the crust.
Here I topped it with the remaining 3 1/2 cups of fresh blackberries I’d picked. Pressing them down lightly into the sauce at the bottom it was complete and ready for the fridge and a final set. Oh, the excruciatingly slow passing of time!
When it’s all said and done, it’s a “technically” no-baked flavorful delight that doesn’t weigh you down, or heat up your house to an unbearable temp comparable only to having an exploding star consume your house.
And if you use the graham cracker crust as specified, (I was just to lazy and used a dough readily available.) – it will be even more “no-bake” than now. Either way – just make the pie, you won’t regret it.
Above I mentioned that I’d be giving away a copy of ATK’s Healthy Kitchen magazine and no, don’t worry I wasn’t just joshin’ ya around.
Leave me a comment telling me what your favorite dessert is.
It doesn’t have to be pie – let your imagination run wild! Is it your favorite childhood dessert? Or something you only tried once and can’t get over it no matter how hard you try?
For additional entries:
~ Find me on Facebook, “like” the page and leave a comment telling me ya did so.
~ Follow me on Twitter, and leave a comment telling me ya did so.
~ Retweet or post about the giveaway and tell your friends. Just don’t forget to leave a comment telling me ya did so.
That’s five possible entries for an awesome magazine from the people who test, re-test and test again every recipe known to man just to make sure it’s fool proof every time and we don’t beat out heads into the wall agonizing over it ourselves. Culinary angels, they are.
This giveaway will end Friday, August 26th. So hurry and enter, a week will go by quite quick.
*Obligatory Author’s Note: I’m furnishing the copy of ATK’s Healthy Kitchen, because who am I kidding I love them and buying magazines, so why shouldn’t I spread the love and share it with you fine fans?*
When wedding planning it’s difficult not to hit that brick wall of intimidation and simultaneous burn out after a while. Ben and I were going through that for, oh I dunno, about 8 months after we got engaged.
We got engaged at Christmas and until two weeks ago we didn’t have a wedding venue. For the first two weeks of our engagement I was researching venues, colors, dresses, decoration, honeymoon locales, dinner ideas, caterers, photographers and then – BAM, like a crash test dummy I hit a wall. Wedding planning was supposed to be fun and exhilarating – not stressful or something that sends you into the corner of the room with one eye twitching and you holding your knees whilst rocking back and forth… I didn’t make it that far, but close.
But tell any bride that it shouldn’t be stressful and then be prepared to run (FAST) before you get your face mauled off like a honey badger looking for food. It just plain doesn’t work that way. Despite the best of intentions by all parties involved.
Thankfully, we’ve had lots of help. My MOH and future sister in law are rockstars at this kinda thing. MOH (Beka – you may have seen her here a time or two.) being married last year has helped me keep everything in perspective, allowed me to vent whenever necessary and kept a bottle of wine chilling in my fridge at all times. Bless her.
My future sis-in-law has helped us spearhead ideas for color combos, rehearsal dinner venues, hotels for out of town guests and sent us price breakdowns for every possible occasion. Bless her, too. If it weren’t for these two – we’d be engaged for ten years and still would have never made a single decision…Well, besides me buying my dress. (I kinda jumped the gun on that one and bought it three months ago.)
One day I stumbled upon The Perfect Palette, who’s dedication to providing every bride out there with simply put, brilliant combinations of wedding colors set to make each wedding unique and wonderfully representative of each couples personality. Colors do set the mood for a wedding and they speak volumes about the couple.
Beka’s wedding for instance, was dusty rose, cream and steel gray. It was stunning. It fit her and Jason’s modern and romantic personalities – perfect for a black tie wedding set at a SoCal winery. Click here for a somewhat similar example to see what it can look like.
For Ben and I, we wanted to make sure that our wedding matched our venue, and played up our fun sides. Really, on the outside we’re pretty boring people day to day – but we have spunk, pizazz and zest for a country-esque lifestyle. Trezzi Farm was the perfect place for us. Or rather me, since I kinda had the final say.
Run by the sweetest couple you’ll ever meet, Stephanie and Davide – they bring a bit of Italy right to the middle of Greenbluff, WA. The red roofs on the buildings and surrounding vineyard bring a punch to the place that I hadn’t seen at any other venue I looked at. It was it.
So, okie dokie – match your colors to your venue and your personalities. Done. And so here we have…
(Photos borrowed from Perfect Palette’s Webiste)
Full of punch, pizzazz and zest. Wouldn’t you say?
It’s that time of year with fresh produce abound. But what can you do when it’s all said and done? You can’t let all the freshness go to waste, it’s time to can! Or in this case, pickle.
This is the second year that I’ve made pickles, last year adventuring into bread and butters and garlic dills. Since they were such a glowing success last year, with all but three jars going to my coworkers and friends – it had to be repeated.
If you haven’t canned or pickled before, it really isn’t as daunting as it would first appear. But there are key steps that make or break your canning success.
First is washing your produce. Who knows what else lurks in the cucumber’s nooks and crannies?
After cleaning and scrubbing out my sink, I poured all of the beautiful, firm and delicious picking cukes into the sink and scrubbed scrubbed scrubbed with a veggie brush.
Like I said, this is a vital step. Imagine all of that grossness going into your jars. I’ll pass.
Next is the laborious task of slicing up all of them into 1/3″ slices. No need to be exact, but a ballpark 1/3″ is perfect.
(If you’re feeling generous, toss a cucumber your pup’s way. He’ll appreciate it.)
For good measure I sliced up an onion or two to be added into my jars. Good thing I wasn’t wearing any make up or else I would have been a raccoon by the end with watering eyes and smeared mascara.
After both of these time consuming steps were done, I got to the brine of my pickles. I’m the first to admit when there is the chance for a shortcut – I take it. And this may be a sacrilegious step – but in the interest of full disclosure, I’m going to tell you anyway.
I used a packaged pre-made brine mix. Yes. I said it. *winces and prepares for loss in canning credibility*
Last year my dad picked me up a few packages of Mrs. Wages bread and butter pickling mix that was on clearance in the bin at the local grocery. It was worth a shot at 50 cents a pop. How bad could it be?
Well, let me tell you! Mrs. Wages is now the pickling package of choice in our household.
My first ever batches of pickles were crispity, and crunchy – better than even a, dare I say it, Vlasic.
And like I said, convenience and taste are key. Winner.
The package called for 7 cups of sugar. There is a reason bread and butter pickles are not South Beach diet friendly…this is it. But dang, thei are iz tastiez. (Sorry, had to throw in a little LOLCat reference)
Combine the sugar, 6 3/4 cup of vinegar and the seasoning packet all together in a large non-reactive pot and you’re cookin’. Get it? Yeah, you get it.
In a very large (and tall) stock pot or canner, bring your cleaned jars to a boil. Multi-tastking is what this is called. This boiling will sanitize your (already washed) jars and prep them so they are heated and create an even and firm seal when they are processed.
After the water bath they were in reached a boil, I picked them out of the water, and pouring that water into the sink. Don’t pour it back into the pot, because when you place your already filled jar back into the water bath it will displace all the water you added and overflow. Unless you like a wet stovetop and saturated floor that is.
A handy thing to do was to place a pie pan under each jar, so that any overspill would go right into the pan not onto the countertop. Brilliant, no?
To each hot jar, I filled it about half way with sliced cukes, one slice of pickle and topped it with cukes again. Easy.
But make sure that you tamp down the pickles and cram them in there as tight as they will go.
With about 1/2″ of space remaining at the top, I filled the jar with pickling juice that was boiling over the stove. The cucumbers will try and float, but make sure you have about a 1/4″ of space at the top of the jar.
Take a lid out of simmering water, place it on the top and secure it with a ring. Hurriedly repeat the process until all of the jars in your stockpot or canner are filled.
Fill, tamp, pour, seal, process.
After all are packed, put them back into the water bath, turn it up and let them boil and process for 10 minutes. Easy peasy.
A bit labor intensive perhaps, but there is nothing like a homemade pickle.
The hardest part is letting them sit for a couple of weeks to do their business. But oh so worth it in the end.
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