Thursday, September 26, 2013

Heirloom Tomato Salad BLT and a Trip to the Farmers Market

I love it when Charlie get's something stuck in his head.  It makes me feel a little less crazy, for like... a second.  He woke up dreaming of an heirloom tomato BLT on Saturday morning so off to the farmers market we went. 

Normally we wonder around the farmers market aimlessly with no real purpose.  We just pop around, sample some goodies, and usually leave with 3 pieces of cheese worth like forty dollars...worth every penny of course.  Not this time though.  WE WERE READY. 

Ok so want to hear something funny?  I actually uploaded this picture thinking these were heirloom tomatoes.  It's been a long week OKAY?!

We were "tired and hungry" from walking around so we decided we needed a snack.  It just so happened to be a grilled pork belly sandwich with coleslaw and spicy red pepper sauce.  OMG yum.

Back to the BLT.  So the best BLTs are the ones with the best ingredients.  It's so simple, that everything must be perfect.  These heirloom tomatoes were just to die for. After slicing into them they burst with the most amazing fragrance. Fresh and gardeny.  You don't get that with a grocery store tomato.  You just don't and it makes me sad.

We picked up some other ingredients as that's missing from the picture is the bacon, obvi.   We got free range, nitrate free, blah blah blah bacon.  All I know is that it was really good.

Can we talk about how perfect this bread is?  I mean oh my.

If you use anything besides Hellman's mayo for your BLT than feel free to walk your face into your fist.  Look how creamy and crunchy and salty and bready and amazing this is.

Stay hungry! 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Happy 3rd Anniversary, Jesse!

Today Jesse and I celebrate three years of marriage!  Since that day, we've traveled across four continents together.  We moved out of our cozy Brooklyn apartment and tackled country life together.  We've adopted two more pets.  We've welcomed our sweet son.  Those are the big things.  We've also eaten pizza, gone for walks down our street, and talked in funny voices more times than I can count.  We crack each other up every day.  We have exciting plans for the future.  Life is good.

Three years ago, all of our planning had finally paid off (with some surprise good weather) and we were in the midst of the best party of our lives

I love this shot our photographer took of my dress from the bottom.  I think it looks like a seashell or a flower.

Thanks to our parents for throwing us such an amazing wedding.  Thanks to our family and friends for trekking out to a little vineyard in the middle of nowhere for an evening of celebrating.

 Three years ago there was a lot of love and it's only grown.  Happy Anniversary, Jesse!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

That's My Jam! (and a Beautiful Barn Wedding)

Our good friends Jon & Katie got married this weekend at a beautiful venue in upstate New York.  The Historic Barns of Nipmoose paired with the sweet & thought details Katie & Jon planned made for a wedding that truly looked right out of the pages of a magazine or Style Me Pretty.  It was pretty much "rustic elegance" perfected and I regret not taking better photos.  I tried, but I was somewhat flustered by a combination of leaving baby Will overnight for the first time and two & a half glasses of white wine.  I'm hoping Katie will let me share some of her photographer's pictures once they get them.  For now, here's what I took:

The wedding itself took place on the grass (Jesse performed the ceremony!), then we headed into that middle barn for cocktails and hors d'oeuvres.  If you look closely, you can see the strings of round Christmas lights draped across the barn rafters.

The back of the barns looked out onto beautiful wildflowers (which, of course, matched the beautiful wedding bouquets, boutonni√®res, and table centerpieces).  It was so perfect.

And, per the title of this post, there was jam.

It turns out that jam wedding favors are, in fact, my jam.  The ultimate in useful favors for a toast lover like me!

The bride's mom (Maggie) MADE ALL OF THESE JAM FAVORS for the guests and they were used as place cards (you can see my name peeking out over the top in this picture).  I LOVE this idea.
In the picture below, you get a sense for the long tables, beautiful barn, jam favors, and the views through the doors.  It was stunning.

We dined under more string lights in the big barn before heading back into the other barn for dancing & cake (& an awesome dessert table).

Hopefully more photos to come!  Congrats, Jon & Katie, on your beautiful day!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Bacon Wrapped Artichoke Hearts with Lemon Dijon Aioli

Bacon wrapped anything is my favorite.  Really.  Bacon wrapped shrimp, bacon wrapped water chestnuts, bacon wrapped sausage with water chestnuts...the list goes on.  So how about we have ourselves some bacon wrapped artichoke hearts?  Yes?  Yes.  

Pretty simple here...just wrap your artichoke hearts in some bacon, 1 artichoke heart per half slice of bacon. 

Cook at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until bacon is nice and golden and crispy crispaayyy.

The best part of this is surprisingly the dipping sauce.  Actually it's the bacon.  Who am I kidding. Seriously though, the dipping sauce is AMAZING.  We were dipping everything into this stuff. 

Bacon Wrapped Artichoke Hearts with Lemon Dijon Aioli 

2 14-oz. jars artichoke hearts
8 slices bacon, halved crosswise

1/2 Cup of Hellman's Mayonnaise 
2 Tbs of Fresh Lemon Juice
1 Tsp of Freshly Grated Lemon Zest 
1 Tbs of Dijon Mustard 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Drain artichoke hearts.  Wrap artichoke heart in bacon and place on non stick cookie sheet seam side down. Cook until bacon becomes golden brown and crispy, about 25 minutes to 30 minutes or so.  Meanwhile, mix mayonnaise, lemon juice, lemon zest and Dijon mustard.  Serve alongside bacon artichoke hearts and enjoy. 

What do you like to wrap in bacon?  Stay hungry! 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

EWG's Skin Deep Database & My Bathroom Cabinet

Are you familiar with the Environmental Working Group's "Skin Deep" Database?  It's a website (and soon to be an app) that contains ratings of beauty/skincare/personal products and the chemicals they contain, giving each product a safety ranking, from 0 (low hazard) to 10 (high hazard).

For most of my life, I've just assumed that if products are sold in stores, they're safe.  In reading my hippie books, subscribing to green living blogs, and hanging out at my local food co-op, I've decided that I want to be more careful about the products I slather, dab, and splash on every day.  It started when I was pregnant and began to worry about what chemicals my body was absorbing from sunscreen, bug spray, perfume, etc and what bebe would be getting in his system as a result.

Here's a look at my day to day products and which ones need to be replaced with a better option:

I've been using the Honest Company's shampoo and conditioner and love them.  Luckily, they rate well (shampoo is a 1, conditioner is a 2).  My beloved Kiehl's facial cleanser isn't too bad either at a 3 (moderate).

I  rarely rarely rarely wear makeup besides mascara (mostly because I'm lazy and don't usually have anywhere makeup worthy to go), but I had a feeling my makeup bag was toxin filled.  MAC foundation (4), MAC eye shadow (4), and Clinique eye shadow (4) aren't so bad.  My Chanel perfume ranks in at 6 and the Bliss "No Zit Sherlock" comes in at 5.  Considering how infrequently I use any of this stuff, I'm not too worried about the toxicity but will replace them with better ranked products as they run out.

The products I use every day sit out on my sink (this sort of looks staged, but I really just don't put things away).  The Jason deodorant is a 5, which surprised me.  Isn't this supposed to be "all natural"?  Time to start making my own, for sure.  My mainstay cheap-o Maybelline mascara and the Method hand soap both rate 4 which isn't terrible but I'd like to bring those numbers down.  Luckily, you can search by category for products that score better to replace the ones you're concerned about.  And you can believe I was patting myself on the back pretty hard when I realized that my toothpaste clocked in at a 1.

Am I being an alarmist by worrying about this?  Possibly.  But there are so many toxins and chemicals and contaminants that I come into contact with every day that I CAN'T control, so I figure I might as well stay on top of what I can.  What do you think?  Any suggestions on products that rank low?  Any products you are choosing to replace?  Let us know!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Soppressata & Peach Salad

When Charlie and I went to The Brisol, we not only had THE monkey bread, but we also had their Soppressata & Peach Salad.  It had my name all over it.  Salty, sweet, savory, tart.  All things I enjoy in life.  I love prosciutto and cantaloupe, but this might be my new fav.  Scratch that.  This is TOTALLY my new fav. 

The peaches are important.  If you can get them at a farmers market, all the better.  They are still in season in Chicago now, but I can't imagine they will be for much longer. SO LOAD UP on your peaches n' soppresata people. 

The salad is fairly easy.  Just fold some presliced soppresata and lay them against the sliced peach wedges.  Spoon a little goat cheese (I used honey goat cheese) randomly on your platter.  Sprinkle with fresh greens like arugula and some marcona almonds for a salty crunch.  Drizzle with a little balsamic glaze and extra virgin olive oil.  Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm kay.

I went back to the fridge to make myself a little plate while typing this. 

Stay hungry! 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Baby Shower Love & Advice Letters

Here's a great baby shower "game" or idea for a new mom.  When my mother sent out invites to my baby shower back in February, she asked guests to bring a note for me that would be sent after the baby was born.  Many of my sweet guests brought letters to the shower and there was also extra stationery there for some last-minute notes.  My mom stamped and addressed the letters and, in the months following baby Will's birth, popped them in the mail periodically so I was receiving consistent letters of love, advice, and encouragement.

There was a period after Will was born where "leaving the house" meant "walking to the mailbox" and excitedly opening the wonderful letters that came every week or so.  Because new motherhood feels isolating to begin with (long nights, odd hours, crazy hormones) and my house in the sticks made me feel even more isolated, it was so great to open up handwritten words of encouragement that came via snail mail.

Words of advice and anecdotes from experienced moms, memories and jokes from old friends, and even a poem filled up my mailbox until a few weeks ago when I received one last handwritten note from my mom letting me know that we had reached the end.  I've saved all of the sweet notes and can't get over how much of a difference it made to read these kind words during one of the most hectic, tiring, and wonderful times of my life.

Thanks, Mom, for coordinating this and thanks, ladies, for all of your letters!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Super Green Smoothie

After I ate about 19 dough balls on Sunday, I decided I needed a little detox.  I was chatting about kale recipes a few weeks ago with my manager, Ross, and he shared a smoothie he makes with avocado, kale and mango.  I decided to do something similar, minus the avocado.  I LOVE the smoothie with avocado, but this is my favorite way of making it - it's so refreshing. 

Enter kale, mango, and pineapple smoothie.  This is delicious.  If you are craving something that will make you feel healthy from the inside out, this is the way to go.  If your fruit is very ripe, you won't need to sweeten it.  If you do, add a half a teaspoon or so of agave nectar.  A little goes a long way. Seriously - I crave these and can totally tell when I haven't had one in awhile.  

Super Green Smoothie Recipe 

2 Big Handfuls of Raw, Roughly Chopped Kale
1/4 Cup of Fresh Mango
1/4 Cup of Fresh Pineapple 
1/4 Cup of Water 
Handful of Ice 

Blend all of the ingredients together until smooth.  Serve immediately and enjoy.

Stay healthy! :)

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Use Up That Zucchini

Jaisa mostly handles the food-related posts around here, but on a homey front, my garden is OUT OF CONTROL.  Squash galore.  I let things grow a little too long.  My zucchini could double as baseball bats.  Here are two that came in with this morning's harvest:

I've been scouring the web for tasty looking zucchini recipes that'll use up these giants without making it feel like we're eating the same dish meal after meal.  Here's a collection of delicious, varied zucchini recipes that'll help you finish off your garden bounty or farmers' market haul.

1) Chocolate Chip Banana Zucchini Bread

via Grey Luster Girl

This recipe from Grey Luster Girl combines my love of banana bread (one day, I'll share my grandmother's delicious recipe) and chocolate chips with my need to get this zucchini off my counter.  I'm planning on baking this up (along with some mushy bananas) sometime this week for a tasty snack to have around the house.

2)  Baked Zucchini Chips

via The Boot

How delicious do these look?  Check out the recipe.  I will definitely be adding the red pepper flakes for a bit of spice!

3) Zucchini Brownies

via Movita Beaucoup

I have to admit, I'm a bit skeptical here.  These look so decadent, but they're made with zucchini.  Jessica Seinfield I am not.  I like my brownies made like brownies.  But the recipe looks legit and the pictures make me want to eat them right up.  I'll need to give it a shot.

4) Goat Cheese & Zucchini Tartlets

These make me wish I were hosting a swanky brunch sometime soon.  Maybe I am.  Can you come over on Sunday?

Anybody else have some zucchini recipes to share?  Any suggestions on what to do with these beasts (besides pick them earlier)??  Let me know and stay hungry!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Savory Dill Monkey Bread

Dude.  This bread.  I can't even. I mean. I don't even know what to say about this.  IT'S SO GOOD. 

Charlie and I went to a restaurant called The Bristol this weekend.  It was absolutely amazing from start to finish but our favorite part, without a doubt, was their ridiculous Savory Dill Monkey Bread.  I hopped online as soon as we got home, and found the EXACT recipe from Food Swoon.  Thanks Food Swoon.  You're my new fav blog. 

Since I don't bake, I wanted to take some major shortcuts but Charlie encouraged me to make it from scratch.  Actually, he baked this entire thing.  I just annoyingly hovered around the kitchen. 

Start by dissolving the yeast in some warm water and sugar.  

After about ten minutes, it looks like this.  All bubbly and what not.

Next, whisk together the salt and bread flour.  (PS - I typed "whisky" three times there).  Oopsies.

Next, using your bread attachment on your stand mixer, add the egg, melted butter, milk and fresh dilly dill.
Yummmm. Let it mix on medium until the dough pulls away completed from the sides.

Knead gently and place in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Place it somewhere warm to proof for about 30 mins.  Our microwave is usually warm from the oven being on, so I popped it in there.

Ta daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.

While the dough is proofing, go ahead and make your dill butta.

Next, roll 1 inch dough balls.  I didn't count how many and we both rolled them, so they were different sizes but it totes doesn't matter.

Dip the dough into the melted dill butter then add the dough ballllzzz into different types of containers.  Ramekins work well, but really you can put them in anything.  Just remember that they will puff up from the second proofing and from baking.

Proof them again for another 20 mins then brush again with the butter and finish with a sprinkle of kosher salt on top. Bake at 375 until golden brown. Ours baked for about 16 mins, but check them at 12 mins or so. Brush them with the remaining butter throughout the baking process, about every 4 mins or so. 

Here is the exact recipe from Food Swoon.  Thanks again for tracking down this amazing Chicago restaurant recipe!!

2 tablespoons warm water (about 110-115 degrees)
1 1/2 teaspoons dry active yeast
1 teaspoon white sugar
2 ¼ cups bread flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup whole milk
1 egg
1 tablespoon buttermelted
2 tablespoons fresh dill, torn into small pieces
8 tablespoons melted butter (6 tablespoons for the dill butter, 2 tablespoons for brushing during baking)
2 tablespoons fresh dill, torn into small pieces
Sea salt

Make the Yeast: Combine the yeast, sugar, and warm water in a small mixing bowl. Set aside for ten minutes at room temperature to allow the yeast to proof. You should see bubbles forming at the surface.
Make the Dough: Whisk the flour and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer. Attach the dough hook and slowly add the yeast mixture to the flour, followed by the milk, egg, 1 tablespoon of melted butter and 2 tablespoons of dill. Mix on medium speed just until the dough releases from the side of the bowl, then knead dough lightly with your hands. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm place to rise for 30 minutes.
Make the Dill Butter: While the bread is rising, stir two tablespoons of dill into six tablespoons of melted butter. Set aside.
Assemble the Monkey Bread: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. After the dough has risen, punch it down and roll into 1-inch balls. (Pandel says his recipe makes 56 dough balls but I have never gotten that many. I get about 40, so I must make mine slightly bigger.)
Roll each ball in the dill butter and place the balls in individual ramekins. I generally use 1-cup ramekins and place about 7-8 in each one. They will rise before baking and again in the oven, so don’t overfill your ramekins.
Allow the monkey bread to rise in a warm place for 20 minutes. Brush the bread again with the dill butter and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for approximately 12 minutes, brushing twice throughout the baking with the remaining two tablespoons of melted butter. (Bread should feel very soft and springy when done.)
Stay Hungry! 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Apple Recipes

I don't know what it is, but the second I get the slightest chill in the air, I start to think about apples.  Goodbye s'mores, goodbye BBQs, hello cozy fires and freshly picked apple pies.  I went on a little adventure and found the following drool to the face recipes.  I'll be trying some of these out soon.  HOLLA.

1.  Apple Pie Dip from Mother Thyme.  Looks SO yummy and is such a cool little fall dip. 

2.  Deep Fried Apple Pie Bites.  MMMMMM Kayyyyyy.  Be a little more delicious looking.

3. Caramel Cheesecake Apple Blondies.  I can get behind this.

4. Smoked Cheddar Grilled Cheese with Granny Smith Apple & Dijon Mustard.  DUDE.  You know I had to throw something cheesy in here. I literally can not look at this pic without drooling. Oh my Gouda.

5. Paleo Apple Cinnamon Pancakes.  Just to round out our balanced diet, I thought I'd throw in a delicious looking paleo recipe too.

Paleo Apple-Cinnamon Pancakes Recipe

 Stay hungry!