Dad’s 50th Birthday

July 7th was my dad’s 50th birthday. He thinks he’s pretty old, but I really don’t see that as old. And with the exception of the gray hair, I don’t think he looks his age! :) I really don’t understand why people (especially women) get upset about getting older. Maybe because I’m not at that point yet, but I just see it as having more life experiences and getting to do more and more. I know I can’t wait til I’m in my 20’s.

My dad requested a big seafood feast for his birthday, and he definitely got it! We love utilizing our grill in the summer and taking advantage of all the fresh food that is available right now.

My grandpa always supplies the appetizer of a variety of cheeses. The orange one in the back is my favorite, and it’s called Cotswald. I believe it’s a cheddar cheese and it has onions and chives in it. So good! The funny looking cheese on the left is something my parents picked up and I’m not sure what it is. And the last one was Havarti.

Bread grilled on…the grill. This was used to soak up the juices from our scallop dish.

Fresh salad with blueberries, strawberries, toasted nuts, and feta. And a homemade lemon-Dijon vinaigrette.

Corn on the cod is the epitome of summer dinners for me.

Grilled shrimp on skewers. Shrimp is probably my favorite seafood. I love it SO much!

Big scallops made based on this recipe from Ina Garten. She’s the best. We’ve made this numerous times and it’s always so good.

Individual plates of ceviche made by my mom. She serves it with a round of sweet potato and an onion salad.

The family! Minus mom who took the picture.

My dad requested two desserts, and since it was his 50th, we obliged. He wanted something lemon and something chocolate.

Bianca made a chocolate cream pie with graham cracker crust. Topped with fresh whipped cream and chocolate shavings!

I made a lemon meringue pie but in the form of bars. I love meringue! It’s crazy how egg whites can become that consistency and taste so good.

Well, that’s all. I’m pretty sure my dad had a great birthday, and we ended the night with chatting around the fire which is always the best.

This summer.

So, I think I’m going to attempt blogging again. No promises, but my family and I have been doing a ton of cooking and baking this summer, and I want to share what we’ve made.

Amazing grilled vegetables when we had friends over for dinner one night.

Homemade buns made by Bianca.

Blueberry muffins to send to someone :) Not gonna lie, I was pretty proud of how pretty these looked! I hate muffins that don’t rise above the rim of the pan so I made sure to put extra batter in each cup. And I love muffins with streusel so I made some of that to top the muffins with. I used this recipe for the muffins and this recipe for the streusel.

My friend and I got together one night and had a baking night! This is some crazy peanut butter-banana-chocolate chip bread topped with swirls of peanut butter, nutella, and banana slices.

We also made these oatmeal cookies that had nuts and chocolate chips in them. A sprinkle of salt added the perfect touch.

I made a few loaves of this apple-walnut bread. I took a recipe for whole wheat apple muffins from smitten kitchen, made a few changes, and made it into bread instead. Everyone that tried it really enjoyed it! The buttermilk makes it really moist, and I also added about a 1/4 cup of yogurt to each just to ensure that the bread would not be dry. Dry baked goods do not make me happy. Toasted walnuts seemed like they’d be a good mix with the apples as well. On top of each loaf I swirled a little peanut butter (I can’t seem to bake without it), sprinkled more nuts on top, and added a little brown sugar for a little crunch. I loved it!

Okay, this post is getting pretty long but I made frittata a few times and want to share it! I loved the idea of using a brown rice crust for the frittata and based it off that recipe from Closet Cooking. Everything else I kind of did spur of the moment.

Summer Vegetable Frittata with Brown Rice Crust

1. Add 1 egg to 2 cups of cooked brown rice.

2. Season the rice and egg with whatever you’d like. I just pulled ground black pepper, dill weed, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper out of the cupboard. This was a while ago, but I probably added some salt to the mix.

3. Press the mixture into a pan and bake at 425 for about 10 minutes, or until golden.

4. Meanwhile, chop up your veggies and whatever protein you want to add. The first time I made it I used zucchini, fresh corn, asparagus, onion, and tempeh. The second time around I used leftover roasted potatoes, corn, brussel sprouts, summer squash, zucchini, and tomato.

5. After the vegetables have cooked a little, put them in a bowl. Add 4 or 5 eggs, depending on how much vegetables you have to cover. I also added goat cheese, but the last time I used feta. I think I liked the feta a little more. When goat cheese melts it just doesn’t have the same flavor to me. By this time, your crust should be done. Pour the egg mixture into the crust and move it around a little to even it out.

6. In a 350 oven, bake the frittata. I can’t remember exactly how long mine took, but probably around 25-30 minutes. Maybe less. I just kept sliding a knife inside until I thought it was done and it looked set.

8. Let it cool for just a minute or two and enjoy!

I found it best with lots of hot sauce :) I also found the best way to reheat it was in the oven on a piece of foil. I got the crust really crispy and heated it all the way through.

Next post–My dad’s 50th birthday!

Oops

Yeah, I’ve gotten out of the habit of blogging. I’m going away for 4th of July festivities soooo let’s see if I can pick this back up when I get back? I’ve been in the kitchen a lot lately!

I need motivation!!

Carrot Soup & Quinoa

As I mentioned in my last post, the other day I really just felt like being in the kitchen and cooking up some things. It was a cold and rainy day, and what goes better on a day like that than soup? For some unknown reason, I was craving a carrot soup. I don’t think I’ve ever made one before and it was incredibly easy and actually really delicious. I browsed a couple recipes, but just threw some stuff together.

I roasted four peeled and chopped carrots. That was all I had in the fridge. Too bad because I wish I had more of this soup! I just tossed them in some olive oil, salt, pepper, and a little ginger. Roasted at 450 for 20-30 minutes I’d say. Just until they’re nice and caramelized.

I threw those in the blender (after they cooled a little bit) along with the pumpkin leftover from the muffins I’d made. Probably about 1/2 cup or so. I poured in chicken broth and blended until it reached my desired consistency. Not too thin, but with some viscosity. Wow…pulling out words from 11th grade chemistry! I hated that class. Pretty much science in general isn’t too great for me. Unless it has to do with nutrition and health, it really doesn’t hold my interest.

My food presentation skills amaze me. Tupperware is the new china. I seasoned this with just some salt and pepper I believe.

Grace enjoyed a bowl of it for dinner, along with the quinoa dish I made, a fried egg, and some crackers! I love making people dinner :)

Speaking of quinoa, I’ll show you how I made it! I learned this from my Uncle Raul while I was living in Maryland. I tried some of this at his house and demanded to know how to make it. It’s so simple, but it’s different than any way I’ve had quinoa before. My mom had some and said it was just the way her mom used to make it. I was texting my uncle while cooking and making sure I was doing it right! He was a wonderful help.

First, chop up 3 cloves of garlic and half an onion. Or whatever amount of the two you’d like. My family just loves both.

Let those caramelize for a few minutes. I realize this photo is focused on the pot and not the food! My bad!

I added 1.5 cups of quinoa, 3 cups chicken broth (what I had), and 1.5 cups of water. The ratio is three parts liquid to one part quinoa. Now let that come to a boil for a few minutes, then turn it down to a simmer until the liquid is absorbed.

I feel like it’s hard to make quinoa look good. Or maybe it does look good to you? Because let me tell you, it was DELICIOUS! I actually let it simmer too long and added a half cup or so more water. It has more of a risotto consistency than rice. Does that make sense? It makes sense to me. Like my cute orange phone? I do!

I also stirred some feta into it. My uncle suggested farmer’s cheese. This worked. Seasoned with salt, pepper, and cayenne (maybe a bit too much for some people), and it was done. My family has been gobbling it up. I’m definitely going to make a bigger batch next time. And there will be a next time.

I had some for dinner of course! Along with a fried egg and broccoli. Loved having that yolk spill over onto the quinoa. Oh, and by the time I got around to making my dinner, the quinoa needed to be warmed up and seeing as we don’t have a microwave, I did it on the stove. It got a little crispy in some parts and was even better than before!

Close-up.

Alright, tonight’s pizza night with some friends! I may or may not capture pictures. We’ll see :)

Muffins & Ice Cream

Today, the feeling struck me that I needed to bake. I feel like that feeling most often comes when it’s a cold and rainy day. According to the 10-day weather forecast, we have a lot of those days in our near future. I have definitely been slacking on my cooking and baking lately, so I really want to start getting more creative in the kitchen. Or at least doing something in the kitchen. I tend to stick to the same meals from day to day, either for convenience or just because they are tasty and satisfying. I’m not sure why I do this, as I love trying new foods and reading about tons of recipes online and everywhere. Hopefully I’ll be able to improve on this!

One of the things I made today was something that I’ve done before. This was Tina’s Pumpkin and Carob Muffins. The only changes I made were using coconut oil instead of canola, chocolate chips instead of carob, and not using flax but an egg instead. The first time I made these muffins I LOVED them. They were extremely moist and were perfect crumbled on top of pumpkin oatmeal. I think I made around 12 regular sized muffins last time, but I switched it up this time around.

Mini muffins on the left, regular muffins on the right. The mini ones are so cute! And would be the perfect after-lunch (or dinner) sweet treat. I know that I always need something sweet after my savory meals, and these will be great. I made more mini muffins than that.

Okay, the other thing I made today was completely new and something I’ve been wanting to test for a while. I was looking through the pantry and came across this…

And what better to make with coconut milk than…ice cream?!

Not going to lie, ice cream is totally my thing. After making it for school all last year (and really, I made so many different ice creams) I feel as though I know what I’m doing. I’ve only ever made it with whole milk and heavy cream, but have always wanted to try using coconut milk. I have a friend who’s been begging for a dairy-free ice cream, and he can totally have this one!

Two cans of coconut milk (full fat) went into the blender, along with a few large spoonfuls of my mom’s homemade raspberry jam. Oh, and 1/2 cup of sugar and a tablespoon of vanilla.

Blended up and poured into the ice cream maker. Do you like our pig statue in the back? My sister Bianca found it in these scary abandoned storage trucks a few minutes from our house. Since then I’ve had some friends go back and get some for themselves. Weird. But it’s actually pretty cute.

This was after about 25-30 minutes I’d say? I never know, I just take it out when it looks and feels ready to me. Not wanting this ice cream to be simply raspberry flavored (although that would be good), I thought of one of my favorite flavor combinations and put it into this ice cream.

Peanut butter and jelly of course! I alternated between layers of ice cream, swirls of jam, and spoonfuls of crunchy peanut butter. Oh, and the ice cream turned out really well. So creamy! I’ve never made an ice cream without eggs and this was great and so simple.

And the finished product. I actually haven’t tried any of it yet, but Grace said it was “one of my best”. Hmm…I hope she wasn’t exaggerating :)

I cooked up a few more things this afternoon, but I’ll save it for another post. And I actually do have a few good meals to share!

Cinco de Mayo & Mother’s Day

Wow, long time no post. I’m really not going to be following a schedule with posting. I wish I could get them done during school (I have a long break between classes), but the internet is too slow for it to work :(

Anywho, we have FINALLY been getting some sunny weather around here! It’s been so gross and rainy for the last few weeks, but the sun decided to emerge on Friday. And it looks like it’s supposed to stay nice for a while. Woo! Yesterday I pulled weeds for 2 hours and I am SO sore today. My back and neck are killing me. But I actually really liked pulling weeds. I enjoyed being in the dirt, getting warm, and listening to my ipod. A few people told me I was weird for liking it so much…

So as everyone knows, Cinco de Mayo was this week. My family isn’t Mexican (although I’ve definitely been asked that…) but of course we look for any reason to cook a good meal. This is what we came up with.

Homemade guacamole of course. I believe this just had the juice of a few limes, cilantro, garlic, salt, and pepper. We pretty much consider it blasphemous to put tomatoes in guacamole. Don’t do it.

Tortilla chips.

My mom makes the best beans. I’m not sure what kind they were. Some kind of red bean. The trick to really creamy beans is to put some of them in the blender or food processor. I don’t like them too liquidy. Mmm.

And the main attraction: tamales! These are one of my favorite things. Inside was some shredded chicken and salsa verde. These were maybe my mom’s best batch to date! We made SO many, and I’m still eating leftovers. So, so good.

My mom made flan for dessert. For anyone that doesn’t know, flan is a custardy dessert. Honestly, it’s not my favorite thing, but my family loves it! And so did this little boy…

We had our neighbors over for dinner, and this guy is so cute. He really likes flan! And please tell me his hair is not the cutest thing ever…

We always use these place settings when we have any kind of Latin party. Haha. I love the red pepper napkin holders.

Okay so fast forward a few days. Friday I had a second interview for a job at this nice pizza place and I got the job on the spot! I am now a hostess :) I was SO happy. It has taken me forever to find a job. I had my first shift yesterday and I think it went well. Working in a restaurant is going to be crazy, but I liked the chaos. Everyone was really helpful, and I enjoyed meeting so many people. I’m actually training at a different store than the one I’ll be working at. They’re opening a new store in the city in a few weeks and apparently it’s going to be huge. I can’t wait! I’m excited to learn about the restaurant business because I hope to contribute to it someday :)

As everyone knows, today was Mother’s Day. As tradition goes in this house, it began with breakfast in bed for the special lady.

I’m not sure my mom would appreciate me posting pictures of her in bed, so I’ll just stick to breakfast. Bianca and I decided on some french toast this morning. We used some homemade french bread and dipped it in the standard mixture of milk, eggs, cinnamon, and vanilla. After it soaked, we pressed it in a mixture of crushed Cornflakes and Cinnamon Toast Crunch. And pecans! After grilling on the stove for a few minutes, we placed it in the oven. Topped off with banana and maple syrup, I’d say we did well! Also, some bacon on the side.

Roses from Dad.

After church and an afternoon of relaxing (at least that’s what I did), Bianca and I got to work on dinner.

My parents got some awesome potatoes at our local farmer’s market yesterday. I love the purple ones!

We started with two great pieces of salmon and ended with…

Homemade salmon burgers. There was chopped yellow and red pepper, garlic, soy sauce, lemon, salt, and pepper in these. I just put the salmon in the food processor and it worked pretty well.

I cooked them on the stove for a couple minutes per side. They got nice and golden.

Bianca made a Romesco sauce for the potatoes. I think that’s what it was called. I really am not sure what was in it. French bread and tomatoes is all I know. It was really good though.

Our friend Anne made this amazing salad. It had cabbage, fried noodles, cilantro, carrot, peanuts, and spring mix in it. Probably more than that. All topped off with a peanut dressing. Amazing. I ate so much of it! I need to work on my salad creativity.

And my plate. It doesn’t look like much, but I swear these plates are huge and like a foot across.

Okay, time to study some biology. Or maybe just go to bed. I’m dead tired and super sore.

Goodnight!

Sunday Brunch

Yes, I am aware that it’s Thursday but we had an awesome brunch on Sunday that I’ve been wanting to share.

I think I’ve mentioned before that my family pretty much always has someone over for food on Sunday. I’m not sure how it happened, but it’s really become kind of a tradition. This past Sunday was no different, and we had my sister Grace’s friend Jenna come over along with her family. Jenna’s family took Grace to California over spring break a few weeks ago, so this was my parent’s way of saying thank you!

No table is complete without some pretty flowers, right?

As always, my mom went way over the top and made sure we had quite enough food for only 4 extra people.

The main course (I guess that’s what you’d call it) was bagels. Of the plain and everything variety. That’s kind of funny to me. Either everything on your bagel, or nothing at all. I’m not sure why that amuses me. I’m tired.

Tomatoes and onions for toppings.

In the middle there, we have some smoked salmon which is essential for bagels. I NEED to go to New York and have a real bagel with smoked salmon and cream cheese. I should have taken advantage of the $20 bus tickets when I was in Maryland! Oh well. I will get there someday. Of course, we also had cream cheese and capers on the table for the bagels. On the left in this picture, is the best coffee cake ever. Well, one of the best I’ve had. It’s Ina Garten’s recipe. We use plain yogurt instead of sour cream and skip on the glaze. The crumbly topping and streusel throughout the middle of the cake is so good. I’ve been crumbling extra pieces of it on my oatmeal this week. Oh my.

I also made us some scrambled eggs. I threw in some random things–I think some dill, splash of milk, salt, pepper, feta, and…I think that’s it. It was a while ago!

A little yogurt bar if you will, with plain yogurt and granola. Not homemade, but so good. We got some big bags of this from Costco.

A GIANT fruit salad. Demolished by morning the next day. This had bananas (my favorite thing in fruit salad, they get so mushy and mm!), pineapple, mango, grapes, kiwi, and strawberry. I Love Fruit.

And finally a Caprese salad topped with a balsamic vinaigrette. Executed by Bianca, and very good.

So, there you have it. That’s how my family does brunch.