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Showing posts from July, 2013

Kitchen Tip of the Week: Spicy Shelf

Spice shelves. 
They can get annoying pretty quickly. 
Yes, there are those neat little spinning spice racks you can find, and those keep things pretty organized, but there's always a spice or two (or twenty) that are never really included in those sets. So you eventually end up with a few floaters, keeping them in line is nearly impossible, and you end up having to pine through them all to find that one small spice you're searching for at dinnertime.

So with our recent move, and finding myself in the usual 'spice cabinet' predicament while unpacking the kitchen, I have found the perfect solution. And I've decided to make it my kitchen tip of the week:

Tip: The Spicy Shelf is a genius way to keep your spices organized. You can see all your spices at once, and there's still plenty of room to store everything else. 

I used the baltic birch wood shelf for my new spice cabinet and it was easy enough to assemble. There's also a really handy white version that re…

Homemade Strawberry Cream Filled Eclairs with Chocolate Cream Cheese Sauce

Well, we survived the move.

We don't have internet yet, so I've hijacked my parents-in-law's internet connection for a quick second to get this little gem up here on the blog for you fine folks.

When I made these cream puffs a while back, I knew right away I wanted to make half the batch into eclairs, and let me tell you right now, my friends:

THESE ARE AMAZING.

I know those three words are practically white noise in the food blog world these days, but I'm dead serious. There is something positively divine about these little bites of heaven. It's incredible, and we've decided they are our absolute favorite dessert these days. The fluffy outside shell is buttery, flaky, and soft. The inside is stuffed with fresh strawberries folded in beautifully white whipped cream. All of it in it's glory, is smothered in the most wonderfully thick and rich sauce you've ever had in your life.

Sounds like a hard dessert to pull together, eh?

Not on your life, my friend…

Kitchen Tip of the Week: Soak those Skewers

We've all been there: we happily skip outside to our smoking grill, with all the highest hopes a person can have of juicy meats and tastefully crisp veggies...
...only to have our wooden skewers char over, and eventually light on fire; leaving you with broken kabobs, and a vow to never try to grill the dang things ever again. And to top it off, the veggies and meat stick to the dang kabob, so their beautiful shape gets ruined when trying to slide them off the skewer! Makes me crazy! 
Is there a special way to prevent this? 
Yes, my friend. Yes. 
Which brings us to this week's kitchen tip:
Tip: Although it depends on the type of wood, soaking your kabob skewers for at least 15 minutes in water before loading on the veggies/meat will help them from sticking to the skewer during the grilling process. And most importantly, will prevent them from breaking/burning on the grill after the inevitable charring. 
I've tried it both ways many times. 
I've soaked 'em, not soake…

Crusty Parmesan-Herbed Zucchini

We're meat-eaters. Heathen meat-eaters. 
But sometimes it's just cheaper to have a meal without meat. 
If you dress up your veggies, and serve them up like these Crusty Parmesan-Herbed Zucchini, you won't miss the meat. I promise. Plus, your wallet will equally be as happy as your bellies. 
On The Next Food Network Star right now on the Food Network, there's a blogger Nikki who has a really neat POV. She talked about serving the veggies as the star of your dish, and serving your meat "on the side." I love it. She's not preaching to eliminate the meat from our plates, but suggesting to switch things around a bit, serving/size-wise. 
I've tried to incorporate this concept into our dishes this past month... Ryan caught on pretty fast. But after a while, he's come around (mostly because of the financial aspect of eating less meat and having a majority of our plates covered with veggies and fruits). It's been kind of fun to play around with veggie…

BLT Pasta Salad

I think the best medicine for a family is to be trapped in a car together for a very long time.

A very, very long time.

After 3 long years of having Ryan in law school, and 15-hour days of his full-time work plus Bar Prep study since early June, I felt like we're stuck in survival-mode. I ached for Ryan, but we pushed through together, and proved ourselves a pretty good team. Soon after graduation, I learned quickly that this crazy rodeo we've found ourselves in wasn't over. The even-harder part was about to begin, and we'd see him even less. Ryan has been as sweet as always, and calls me around dinnertime, but I felt like in order to get through everything, I had to crust over in order to get through those long days without him.

So instead of dreading the long car ride up to Pendleton Oregon this past weekend for a wedding, I was excited! 9 hours both ways? Trapped in a car with each other? Sign me up!

You'd think we'd go crazy, and have the usual family-trap…

Homemade Cream Puffs with Almond Ice Cream, Strawberry Whipped Cream, and Chocolate Cream Cheese Sauce

A cream puff master genius lives in my neighborhood. One lucky Saturday morning, he showed Ryan and I how he works in magic in the kitchen. I watched carefully, took notes, and couldn't wait to make my very own batch in my own kitchen. The cream puffs were the most wonderful thing on this entire planet.

No joke.

Fluffy, soft, buttery and light cream puffs. Sliced in two...

The bottom is smothered with thick and rich chocolate cream cheese sauce.

A thick, sweet and light layer of fresh strawberry whipped cream comes next.

Add a heaping scoop of melty homemade almond ice cream heaven.

Top it off with the other half of the dreamy cream puff, a drizzle of that familiar joyous chocolate cream cheese sauce, and and a loving sprinkle of powdered sugar.

I'm just going to stop right there. 
Sometimes the food just speaks for itself, baby. 


Homemade Cream Puffs with Almond Ice Cream, Strawberry Whipped Cream, and Chocolate Cream Cheese Sauce
 - - - -
Homemade Cream Puffs depending on what …

Simple Mint Limeade

I have a confession. 
And promise you won't make fun. 
. . .
I am deathly afraid of thunderstorms. 
The lightning scares me beyond reason, and the following thunder chills me to my very core. I've been this way since I can remember. I remember going into my parents room as fast as I could after seeing the lightning, so I could be "safe" on their fuzzy white blanket by the time the thunder rolled around. You'd think someone would eventually grow out of such a childish fear, but here in the thick of summer, those thunderstorms become a daily event (usually in the evening, it seems). And my fear still hasn't gone away.

Ryan has tried countless times to convince me how ridiculous it is. But how on earth am I not supposed to fear giant bolts of electricity randomly raining down from the sky? How is this not frightening??

I remain unconvinced.

It's a good thing my son thinks the lightning is merely a firework display, or else I'd have a hard time being the

Basil & Garlic Grilled Corn on the Cob

Corn is in my blood. 
My grandpa grew it like a master, and not just a few rows... an entire garden full in a small town up North. He used to know when to plant the corn just by looking at the shape of the snow melt on the mountains, and what the weather would be like by the ring on the moon. He knew corn like the back of his hand, and I have fond memories watching how carefully he irrigated each row of corn, one by one. 
He also knew how to defend his corn as fiercely as he loved to grow it. Loads of raccoons and robins learned quickly to leave his crop alone, and if some of them were dumb enough to come back after fortunately escaping with their lives the first time, they most likely were shot on site with Grandpa's sharp Marine eyes, or lulled into a trap with a fresh peanut butter sandwich. 
I remember growing up while visiting my Grandpa & Grandma's house at that beautiful farm. We'd fill up entire wheelbarrows over and over again with corn all day. We'd shuc…

Sunny Side Up Bacon and Broccoli Rice Bowl

How's your summer so far? Loaded with goodness? Busy as ever? For us, this summer has been almost over-booked with all kinds of things. Thankfully, they're all activities we love to do, so it's less of a busy drag, and more of an adventurous race to the finish line. Or in our case, dinner time.
After soaking in crammed afternoons of splash pads, shaded parks, long walks, kiddie pools, and well... just spraying the hose around the backyard (all you really need for a toddler to be entertained, really), by the end of the day we're a little more than ready to hit the sack. When dinnertime rolls around, the last thing our exhausted summer-soaked bodies want to do is to slave away in the kitchen. But we also don't want to sacrifice replenishing our bodies with the proper nutrition it needs.

So what do we do? Grab some fast food? Order a pizza? Maybe if it's a special weekend at our house :)

But during the weeknights, we plan ahead, and save those easy-to-throw-toget…

Kitchen Tip of the Week: Moist Cake Magic

I've made my fair share of cakes. Each one I've loved more than the last. But there are some cakes I'll never forget making - whether it was because I completely bombed and should have thrown it out into traffic, or even because it came out better than I imagined. 
A lot of thought goes into decorating these beauties. You have to pay special attention to the consistency depending on what you're planning on piping. Also, temperature control is essential (especially when working with cream cheese frosting - which is equally as delicious as pesky sometimes). I frosted a pink rosette cake with a white & pink striped inside for a friend's sweet little girl a couple weeks ago - unfortunately, the same day I was frosting this beautiful cake... my air conditioner broke. Our house was over 85 degrees, and it was only the late morning. I ended up frosting the cake in front of a fan, and putting the frosting in the fridge between piping bag fillings. The cake turned out …

Simple Cheese Ravioli with Toasted Walnuts

This past weekend was quite the interesting one. My grandfather passed away, so our little family was enveloped in all the details that come along with it. It was hard, but I'm grateful today is a new day, this is a brand new week, and that I know he's in a much better place - using those strong legs in heaven at last after 13 straight years of transverse myelitis. 
We were starving. Of course, we were running late that morning, and had a 2 1/2 hour drive ahead of us. The Manchild had breakfast, but Ryan and I didn't really schedule time for it. It was almost 3pm before we were able to eat anything that day (we didn't want to stop anywhere to grab food because we're still trying to save every penny, and extra expenses like that can sure add up quickly). I felt guilty sneaking some of my son's snacks because he's super-picky these days with what he'll eat, and what he'll never even touch. 
After the service at the cemetery, we came back to the churc…

Star Watermelon & Blueberry Salad

Today I can't wait to share with you an adorable fruit salad - just in the time for this wonderfully festive Fourth of July week. And the best news is that it's pretty darned easy. 
Watermelon is completely in season right now, and has always been something I can't satisfy the craving for, even if I've probably eaten more than my fair share. My favorite thing about watermelon is that very first slice right down the middle of the melon. When you first slice open up that beauty and the beautiful smell of fresh watermelon fills your senses, it's incredible.

For this salad, instead of the usual "slice and serve" deal, I decided it would be cute to follow the Fourth of July theme I've been seeing all over Pinterest. When I saw the star watermelon slices with the bright blue berries in a bowl, I knew I would just have to try it.


Unfortunately, I don't have a star cookie cutter. If you have one, use it. If you don't, you can do what I did for absolu…

Kitchen Tip of the Week: My Counter Top Secret

We're still renting, so I guess I can't technically call it my kitchen... but I still love my kitchen. However, I tend to run out of counter space very, very, quickly. Ingredients are usually sprawled out all over the place, a lot of the counter space is beneath a protruding cabinet, and I find myself needing just a little more room (especially if it's a day where I'm making a cake for someone, and still trying to try a new recipe for dinner that afternoon/evening). 
The granite counter tops are lovely, and I adore them. But when I'm trying to roll out some dough or fondant, and the tile crease from the counter shows right through, it can be a little frustrating. 
Both are annoying dilemmas which bring me to this week's Kitchen Tip:
Tip: Use a large finished piece of wood to cover up your sink in the kitchen to instantly create more counter top space to work on. 
I found this piece of wood by our neighbor's garbage can. They were throwing away a huge desk i…

Watermelon Cucumber Salad

The week of the Fourth has finally arrived, and Utah is one big firey oven. When I opened our front door yesterday around 11am, it felt like I had just opened my oven door and taken a heat wave to the face. It was kind of ridiculous. We're supposed to be in the late 80's, early 90's at this time of year. I can't even stomach how August is going to be - might as well move to Pheonix and live in our bathing suits, eh?
Our air conditioner is on the rocks. The only time I feel like it's working is in the wee hours of the morning - but the air is cool outside by then, so I don't think it counts. With another week above the 100's at our door, I'm thinking we'll need to have a little chat with our landlords. 
Remember that "sorbet" picture I posted on facebook last week? Yep, it was in cute little balls... for the first 3 minutes of the shoot... then it turned right into almost a slushie. Like I said - it's TOO DANG HOT inside and outside ou…