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Month: February 2017

Kale and Gruyere Quiche

Kale and Gruyere Quiche

Kale and Gruyere Quiche

I’m craving spring flavors like those found in this Kale and Gruyere quiche.  I’ve had too many days of gloomy PNW weather.  I love the rain, but found myself outside yesterday in the morning doing my best to soak up the few sun beams we got.  Our cats were positively ecstatic – two of three parked themselves on the cat tree right in front of the window and basked in the sun.  Even Daisy found a sun spot on the carpet and took a good long time warming her belly.  We are all seriously deprived right now.

Kale and Gruyere Quiche to the rescue.  I love the creamy texture of eggs and cheese in a quiche.  Kale is a versatile vegetable and can be a harbinger of both fall and spring.  While I love having kale in pasta dishes in the fall, there’s nothing better in the spring than a good bunch of kale sauteed and tossed into a quiche.  I used lacinato Kale or dinosaur kale because I love the deep green flavor it brings to dishes.  I sauteed it until it was soft and then drained and pressed out the excess moisture in a colander.  This helps keep the crust from getting soggy.

Kale and Gruyere Quiche

I used a quick olive oil crust for this kale and Gruyere quiche.  I’ve been known to go crustless for my quiches, but this week just felt like that extra little touch might be in order.  One tip for baking the quiche – put the quiche on a baking sheet and put it in the oven.  This way, there’s no slopping of egg and milk into your oven.  Yes – I learned this the hard way.

Kale and Gruyere Quiche

One advantage of using Gruyere cheese is that it melts so well.  I also tossed in a few red pepper flakes to add some heat.  I could have gone either with red pepper flakes or with nutmeg – either would create a nice flavor, but nutmeg is to autumnal for me.  I also used a bit of fleur de sel this time around.  Really, it’s a perfect early spring dish.  I’ll be eating this throughout the week with a quick spinach salad on the side.

Kale and Gruyere Quiche

Kale and Gruyere Quiche

Kale and Gruyere Quiche

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch kale, washed, de-stemmed and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup milk
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 cup Gruyere cheese
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • salt to taste
  • Olive Oil Crust
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup ice water

Instructions

  1. To make the crust, combine the flour, salt, olive oil, and water in a small bowl. Combine with your hands until the crust holds together. Roll the dough out on a floured surface to the size needed for an 8 inch pie pan. Transfer the crust to the pie pan and refrigerate while you are making the quiche.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Saute the kale in the olive oil for 7 minutes or until it is wilted. Salt to taste. Drain and press out any remaining moisture. Set aside.
  4. Beat the eggs and milk together in a small bowl until frothy. Add the cheese, red pepper flakes, and ground pepper.
  5. Place the sauteed kale at the bottom of the chilled pie crust. Pour the egg/milk/cheese mixture over the top and redistribute the kale as needed.
  6. Bake for 30 - 40 minutes or until the crust is lightly brown and the eggs are set. Enjoy!
  7. Makes 4 hearty servings.
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This post is linked up to Tinned Tomatoes: Meat Free Mondays.  Check out the great posts that Jacqueline posts each week!

This post is also linked up to #CookBlogShare hosted by Easy Peasy Foodie and Hijacked by Twins.

Hijacked By Twins
Almond Brownie Martini

Almond Brownie Martini

This week’s happy hour post is all about how to have dessert in a glass with this almond brownie martini. I had multiple days of travel this week, not to mention a project or two that made me feel like I was living the movie Groundhog Day.  So oh, yeah, the velvety chocolate bliss of Godiva Chocolate Liqueur was definitely in order.  And drinking dessert before dinner – that was in order, too.

My almond brownie martini takes a few ingredients, including Godiva Chocolate Liqueur, Stoli Vanilla Vodka, Crème de Cacao, and Amaretto.  And cherries, too.  If you are like me and planning out your Friday happy hour early on in the week, you might just realize you’re missing a key ingredient, say, like the Godiva Chocolate Liqueur.  What to do?  Go to Drizly!  Drizly is an amazing service that lets you browse for wine, beer, and liquor online and then order – and then it shows up at your door a couple of days later.  How awesome is that?  Plus, one of my biggest problems with shopping (and this is pretty much true with anything from alcohol to clothes) is feeling pressured to make a decision while I’m browsing in a store.  Drizly completely takes away that pressure – I can browse online as long as I want and order when I’m ready to order.  You can definitely find the ingredients for this martini at Drizly, including the Godiva Chocolate Liqueur along with the Stoli Vanilla Vodka (and a lot of other great vodkas, too!).

Almond Brownie Martini

I couldn’t resist doing a fancy rim on my martini.  I used melted white chocolate and chopped up dark chocolate chunks to achieve the yummiest rim I’ve ever had on a martini.  A quicker and just as yummy rim for this cocktail is a bit of super fine sugar and a bit of cocoa powder.  So perfect to sip on one of these after a long work week.

Almond Brownie Martini

Almond Brownie Martini

Almond Brownie Martini

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces Godiva chocolate liqueur
  • 1 1/2 ounces creme de cacao
  • 1 ounce Stoli vanilla vodka
  • 1 ounce Amaretto
  • Fresh or preserved cherries
  • For chocolate rim
  • 1/3 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chunks, roughly chopped

Instructions

  1. To make the chocolate rim, melt the white chocolate chips in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently. On a separate plate, place the chopped chocolate chunks. Spread the white chocolate on a plate or in a small bowl. Roll the rim of your martini glass in the white chocolate. Dip the white chocolate into the chopped chocolate chunks. Freeze the martini glass and rim for about 10-15 minutes to set the rim.
  2. To make the Almond Brownie Martini, combine the Godiva chocolate liqueur, creme de cacao, Stoli vanilla vodka, and amaretto in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain into your prepared martini glass and enjoy!
  3. Serves 1 - but can easily be doubled...or tripled..or quadrupled to serve more.
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Disclosure: This post contains sponsored content brought to you by Drizly.  As always, all opinions expressed in this post are 100% my own.

Santa Fe Chocolate Chip Cookie Baked Oatmeal

Santa Fe Chocolate Chip Cookie Baked Oatmeal

Santa Fe Chocolate Chip Cookies Baked Oatmeal

Disclosure: This post contains sponsored content brought to you by Flavahan’s.  I received free products to use in this promotion, but all opinions expressed in this post are 100% my own. 

I’m partnering with Flahavan’s for this Santa Fe chocolate chip cookie baked oatmeal recipe.  Flahavan’s is an Irish company that’s been milling oats for over 200 years.  I always think it is kind of wonderful when a company has been around since the late 1700s and has been family run throughout multiple generations.  Both of these are true for Flahavan’s.  They also are a company that values environmental sustainability and sources from local farmers.  In addition to being available via Amazon, Flahavan’s products are also available at Whole Foods here in the PNW.  Happy day – when I run out of the box they sent me, I can go buy more!  I was really delighted with how flaky and easy to cook the oats were.  Best yet, they produce an instant steel cut oatmeal that can be microwaved.  My favorite go-to breakfast when I’m traveling is oatmeal, as it can be easily packed and made (if necessary) using a hotel room’s coffee maker to heat up water, so the instant steel cut oat packets were perfect for my quick business road-trip this week.

instant steel cut oatmeal

Back to the Santa Fe chocolate chip cookie baked oatmeal.  I’ve been looking for an oatmeal recipe that both Clay (my husband) and I can enjoy.  I love oatmeal – the texture doesn’t bother me a bit.  But Clay is not a fan, at all.  At the same time, we both know that oats are incredibly healthy to eat and we probably don’t get enough whole grains in our diet.  I had Clay try the Santa Fe chocolate chip cookie baked oatmeal when it came out of the oven and his response was enthusiastic – he really likes the texture of the baked oatmeal.  We have a winner and a new recipe to add to our weekend breakfast repertoire.

Santa Fe Chocolate Chip Baked Oatmeal

I opted to add in pine nuts on this one because the combination of chocolate chips and pine nuts always transports me back to New Mexico.  While I’m a perfectly happy PNW transplant (yay for rainy weather this week!), I have a special place in my heart for Northern New Mexico.  Some of my best vacations were spent with Clay in Santa Fe and at Ojo Caliente (which is a hot springs resort close to Taos, New Mexico).  Pine nuts are a frequent ingredient in New Mexican cooking and I’ll always remember my first taste of a chocolate chip cookie with pine nuts.  The flavor evokes the smell of a burning pinion in a fire in a kiva, the smell of creosote after the rain, and the smell of warm pine in summer.

Santa Fe Chocolate Chip Baked Oatmeal

Baked oatmeal is so incredibly easy to make.  It took me about 5 minutes to gather all the ingredients and mix them up and then it went into the oven for 40 minutes and came out a perfectly moist, slightly chocolatey-gooey, wonderful breakfast.  The leftovers held up just fine in the fridge and I’ve been taking a serving with me each day to heat up at work in the afternoon for a coffee break snack.

Santa Fe Chocolate Chip Baked Oatmeal

Santa Fe Chocolate Chip Baked Oatmeal

Santa Fe Chocolate Chip Baked Oatmeal

Ingredients

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup pine nuts
  • ¼ cup chocolate chips or chunks
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Butter an 8 inch by 8 inch baking pan.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the oats, baking powder, salt, pine nuts, and chocolate chips. In a larger bowl, combine the milk, maple syrup, coconut oil, egg, and vanilla extract. Stir to combine.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until the mixture is thoroughly incorporated.
  5. Pour the mix into the prepared baking pan. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until the oats are soft and the top looks lightly browned. Enjoy!
  6. Serves 4 – 6
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White Bean Avocado Wrap

White Bean Avocado Wrap

Whit Bean Avocado Wrap

Sometimes it’s good to have a quick lunch recipe on hand, like this white bean avocado wrap.  Looking at my calendar, I already know it’s going to be a very busy week, with just two days when I’ll have time for lunch at my desk.  As I was thinking about food prep this week, I also thought it might be a good time to do a little cupboard clean out.  We have plenty of rice, several cans of Great Northern White Beans, and a couple of avocados that are just ripe.  Toss in some cilantro and lime and throw it all in a tortilla and lunch comes together in a short period of time.

White Bean Avocado Wrap

I love jasmine rice.  It’s the perfect filler for my white bean avocado wrap.  It’s so light and fluffy and pretty.  You could definitely make these with brown rice as well, though I have to confess brown rice is not my favorite grain.  It’s so…grainy.

White Bean Avocado Wrap

White beans get gently mashed and get spread on the tortilla first.  Avocado goes next and then rice covers it all. then it gets wrapped up and either wrapped in parchment paper or foil and goes into the fridge for the next day’s lunch.

White Bean Avocado Wrap

White Bean Avocado Wrap

The Great Northern White Beans add a great non-meaty, meaty texture to the white bean avocado wrap.  Serve with a spinach salad and a few mandarin oranges and you’ll be set for the day.

White Bean Avocado Wrap

Ingredients

  • 4 white or whole wheat tortillas
  • 2 cans Great Northern White Beans or cannellini beans
  • 2 avocados
  • 2 cups cooked white rice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • juice from one lime
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Drain and rinse the beans. Gently mash with a fork, leaving some beans whole.
  2. Spread 1/4 of the beans on each tortilla in the middle. Split open the avocados and scoop out the avocado, 1/2 of each avocado spread on each tortilla.
  3. Add the chopped cilantro, the juice from the lime, and the salt to the rice and stir to incorporate. Heap 1/2 cup of the rice over the avocado and beans on each tortilla. Fold the top and bottom of the tortilla toward the middle, over the rice/avocado/bean mix. Fold each side in and roll so that you have a tight wrap.
  4. Enjoy! Serves 4 and can be made in advance and stored in the fridge for a couple of days.
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This post is linked up to Tinned Tomatoes Meat Free Monday.  Check it out!

It’s also linked up to Meatless Monday, co-hosted by Confessions of a Mother Runner and A Whisk and Two Wands.

 

Grapefruit Rosé Kiss

Grapefruit Rosé Kiss

Grapefruit Rose Kiss

A Grapefruit Rosé Kiss is a great cocktail for National Drink Wine Day, which just happens to fall on February 18th this year.  The point of National Drink Wine Day is to spread the love and health benefits of drinking wine (at least, this is what the official website says).  I don’t really need an official day to drink wine, but I will take this opportunity to share one of my favorite wine based cocktails with you.

Grapefruit Rosé Kiss

A grapefruit rosé kiss combines some of my favorite things: a good dry rosé wine, grapefruit juice, and grapefruit bitters.  This also gets just a little love from rosemary grapefruit bitter sugar cubes.

Grapefruit Rosé Kiss

I first drank rosé at Piccolo’s in Denver.  Piccolo’s was (is) an odd little fusion Italian/Mexican restaurant near the University of Denver.   I had absolutely no clue what kind of wine to order, so randomly chose Beringer’s White Zinfandel.  I don’t recall if it was a recommendation by the waitress or a shot in the dark on my part, but I liked it.  It was sweet and it was wine and it made me feel very grown up.  It became my wine for a number of years.  I didn’t branch out much until my first trip to Portland, Oregon, where I encountered a sweet Riesling for the first time.

My wine tastes have definitely changed throughout the years.  I now much prefer a robust red and don’t drink much sweet wine.  I love Sauvignon Blanc, particularly in the summer time.  I’ve been wine tasting in Oregon and Washington a dozen times and definitely like a range of wines.  It’s been ages since I’ve had Beringer’s White Zinfandel.  Still, I have the occasional nostalgic hankering for a rosé.  I tend to go for those that are fairly dry.  I really like La Ferme Julien from Trader Joe’s, which is what I used in this cocktail.  And yes, I did sweeten it up a bit.  Not sorry about that at all.

grapefruit rosé kiss

I’ll definitely be enjoying one of these grapefruit rosé kiss cocktails for National Wine Day tomorrow.

grapefruit rosé kiss

Grapefruit Rosé Kiss

Ingredients

    Grapefruit Bitter Rosemary Sugar Cubes
  • 2 cups superfine sugar (superfine sugar and caster sugar are one and the same).
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 tablespoon grapefruit bitters
  • Grapefruit Rose Kiss
  • 1 grapefruit bitter rosemary sugar cube
  • 2 drops grapefruit bitters
  • Juice from half a grapefruit
  • Rosé wine, chilled

Instructions

    For the sugar cubes
  1. Combine the sugar, rosemary and grapefruit bitters. Spread in a plastic container or plastic molds. If you are using a plastic container, score the sugar cubes into the desired size as this will make them easier to separate once dry. Leave uncovered, overnight. Once the cubes are dry, break them into cube sized pieces and store at room temperature in a covered container.
  2. For the cocktail
  3. Put a sugar cube in the bottom of a wine glass. Add the grapefruit juice and the bitters. Top with chilled rosé wine. Enjoy!
  4. Makes one cocktail, but can easily be doubled (or tripled, or quadrupled).
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Macadamia Coconut Chocolate Mini Muffins

Macadamia Coconut Chocolate Mini Muffins

macadamia coconut chocolate mini muffins

Macadamia Coconut Chocolate Mini Muffins are my anecdote to winter weather, which I’ve had enough of to last me several years.  I know I’m not the only one feeling this way – it’s been a brutal winter across the US.  We do have tulips and daffodils poking their heads out of the ground finally.   I had a moment this morning where there was that elusive hint of spring in the air.  Still, I think real spring is about a month away still.  So for now, I’m going to spend lots of time fantasizing about tropical beaches and warm weather.

I have some very happy associations with the flavors in these muffins: macadamia nuts, coconut, and chocolate.  I lived in Majuro in the Marshall Islands for two years,  fourteen years ago this year.  I will never forget my trip to get there.  For one, I had never flown by myself before and I was absolutely petrified of flying as it was.  I remember the fear I felt getting on the plane to Honolulu, which was my intermediary stop between the US and there.  But I also remember landing in Honolulu and being so overwhelmed by how beautiful it was.  I was exhausted that first night, so went to the corner ABC store and bought a tuna fish sandwich, Maui chips, a papaya salad, and chocolate covered macadamia nuts.  I flew back and forth through Honolulu during that two year time stretch, and that meal became my Honolulu ritual.

So anytime I’m feeling dreary here in the PNW, I’ll do my best to catch those flavors again.  Macadamia coconut chocolate mini muffins are a great way for me to lose myself to the sounds of the ocean and feel of that beautiful humid air in Hawaii.

Macadamia coconut chocolate mini muffins

 

Macadamia coconut chocolate mini muffins

Macadamia coconut chocolate mini muffins

Macadamia Coconut Chocolate Mini Muffins

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup Greek yogurt (plain or honey flavored)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped macadamia nuts (unsalted)
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (or chocolate chunks, chopped into smaller pieces)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar in a medium sized bowl. Add the eggs, vanilla, and Greek yogurt and mix.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients a bit at a time until all the dry ingredients are combined.
  4. Add the macadamia nuts, flaked coconut, and chocolate. Stir to combine.
  5. Butter or line each cup of a mini-muffin pan. Spoon a tablespoon of the muffin batter into each cup. If your pan only makes 24 mini-muffins, you'll need to make two batches as this recipe easily makes 36 - 48 mini-muffins.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes or until a knife or toothpick entered into the center of a muffin comes out clean.
  7. Enjoy!
  8. Makes 36 - 48 mini-muffins
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This post is linked up to The Baking Explorer for February’s Treat Petite.  Check out both The Baking Explorer and Cakeyboi, the hosts of Treat Petite.

Macadamia Lemon Shrimp Salad

Macadamia Lemon Shrimp Salad

macadamia lemon shrimp salad

Macadamia Lemon Shrimp Salad is a #FoodBloggerLove recipe.  What is #FoodBloggerLove?  Each year, The Pintertest Kitchen hosts #FoodBloggerLove, a great chance for foodies and bloggers to share the love around Valentine’s Day with another blogger.  This is my first year participating, and it’s been so much fun!  I was paired with Meadoe from Meadoe Out on a Limb.  Meadoe is a food and lifestyle blogger, so there are lots of great recipes for healthy food, as well as great fitness plans and tips, and parenting tips on her blog.  In addition, she’s got great tips for doing a 21 Day Fix, including lots of really tasty recipes.

Here are a couple of my favorites from Meadoe’s site:

Meatball Veggie Pesto Soup
Apple Crisp Parfait
Supreme Pizza Soup
Chocolate Protein Pancakes

I love that the foods, while healthy, also sound so incredibly tasty – I don’t think I’d miss my carbs and cheese with any of these recipes.

Meadoe is also on social media – check out her social accounts here:

Facebook
Pinterest
Instagram
Twitter

So when I got Meadoe’s name for the exchange, it included some information she wanted me to know, including that she posts easy, healthy recipes, in addition to stories from her fitness journey and posts about adventures in parenthood.  Her favorite recipes are soups and salads, but she hates onions.

This, and the health focus overall, inspired my macadamia lemon shrimp salad recipe.  I’ve been curious about the whole Whole 30 thing – by and large, minus the carbs, cheese and dairy, Clay and I eat a pretty healthy diet.  However, my lunches have been a little decadent here of late (I’m blaming the weather and the need for comfort food).  As spring is finally starting to peek around the corner, I think I’m ready for some healthier lunches.  So this week’s recipe is my inspired #FoodBlogerLove salad, which is Whole 30, quick, easy and definitely healthy.

macadamia lemon shrimp salad

macadamia lemon shrimp salad

macadamia lemon shrimp salad

Macadamia Lemon Shrimp Salad

Ingredients

  • 16 – 20 medium sized shrimp (I used frozen – you could definitely use fresh here and cook until they are done)
  • 1 package of mixed lettuces (spring mix or similar)
  • 1 chiogga beet
  • 1 bunch of radishes
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
  • Juice of 1 lemon + lemon wedges for an additional lemon
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup roughly chopped macadamia nuts
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Peel and slice the chiogga beet into thin slices. Slice the radishes. Toss the lettuce, beets, and radishes in a bowl and set aside.
  2. Either cook the shrimp or thaw the frozen shrimp by running it under cold water. Once the shrimp is ready, combine with the chopped garlic and the juice of the lemon and set aside.
  3. In a small pan, melt the coconut oil over low heat. Add the macadamia nuts and stir the nuts until they turn a golden brown. Drain and add to the salad.
  4. Plate the salad and add the shrimp to each plate. Squeeze a bit more lemon over the top and add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Serves 4
  6. Enjoy!
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If you would like to join up with #FoodBloggerLove next year, join the Facebook group here:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/foodbloggerlove/

 

An InLinkz Link-up


This post is linked up to Kahakai Kitchen Souper Sunday.

Mandarin Mojitos

Mandarin Mojitos

Mandarin mojitos are my anecdote for the gloomy, depressing weather that we’ve had all season long here in my neck of the PNW woods.  I understand that Portland has the distinction of being the most winter fatigued city in the US this year.  I know that I’m certainly fatigued by the constant threat of ice and snow.  It’s been so bad in the Columbia Gorge region that Hood River County’s Sheriff made veiled threats against Punxsutawney Phil’s life if he insisted on seeing his shadow.  Yes – I know – only in Oregon.  Still, I think that sheriff could have used one of my mandarin mojitos.  It might have made him feel a bit sunnier when Phil did inevitably scurry away from his shadow and doomed us to six more weeks of winter.

Fortunately, citrus is in season.  I love mandarin oranges and am always too tempted to buy large bags of them from Trader Joe’s where they languish in the cupboard because I forget to take them with me to snack on throughout the day.  I’m trying to be better about that, and also decided I might as well use the stragglers in a cocktail.  Thus, the mandarin mojito was born.  I sort of resent having to buy mint from the grocery store, but it’s definitely worth it to mix up a pitcher of mandarin mojitos.  You can sip and pretend it’s summer time that way.  They are also great for when you just gave the blonde dog a bath the day before and then she goes out and tramps through the mud – just saying.

mandarin mojitos

You might also pin the recipe and hold onto it for the first barbecue of spring, or the first sunny day, or the first day it’s warm enough to wear sandals.  You can tell that these are all firsts I’m definitely longing for right now.

mandarin mojitos

mandarin mojitos

Mandarin Mojitos

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 5 - 6 sprigs of mint
  • 4 limes, quartered
  • 4 mandarin oranges, quartered
  • 1 cup white rum
  • 12 ounces club soda

Instructions

  1. In a pitcher, layer the sugar and mint and muddle. Add the limes and mandarin oranges and muddle some more - try to get as much juice mixed into the mint and sugar as you can. Add the rum and top with club soda. Serve over ice with a sprig of mint and a quarter of the lime and a quarter of the mandarin orange.
  2. Serves 4 - 5. Enjoy!
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Food Blogger’s Valentine’s Day Gift List

Food Blogger’s Valentine’s Day Gift List

Valentine’s Day is just a little less than a week away, so my Food Blogger’s Valentine’s Day Gift List is just in time.  Clay and I don’t treat this holiday with much seriousness, really.  We’ve been together for eleven years and though for the first few years I wanted a fancy card (which he obliged), in more recent years, we’ve come to the conclusion that every day in a good marriage is Valentine’s Day.  I know – totally sappy.  That said, we usually do some fancy cooking for the day, and I’ll use it as an excuse to get some fancy wine.  Menu plan this year is crab cakes (with fresh PNW Dungeness crab) and chocolate soufflés.   That’s the plan, at least.  We’ll see how reality plays out – could be a pizza night with beer.

Now all that said, I was thinking some yesterday about what the perfect Valentine’s Day gifts would be for a food blogger.  So if you have a food blogger or foodie in your life, check out the round up below.  I’m pretty sure you couldn’t go wrong with any of these items. #1 A Pasta Maker

Yep – absolutely – this is #1 on my list.  I don’t have one yet, which makes me very sad.  I also don’t have chickens or bees and that makes me sad, too.  Chickens, bees and pasta makers have something in common though – they all take up space and require some amount of time that I don’t currently have.  It doesn’t stop me from longing though (and honestly, I could use fresh eggs to make pasta – these things really do go together).

#2 Food in Jars

This is a must have for a foodie’s bookshelf, especially if you have any interest in preserving foods. Marisa McClellan is the blogger behind the site Food in Jars, as well as the iconic book Food in Jars.  She has several other canning books available, which are just as wonderful.  The best part about Food in Jars for me is the emphasis on small batch preserving.  As much as I love the Ball Blue Book and all the recipes therein, I don’t ever need to can 12 quarts or pints of anything (except for tomatoes).

#3 Ball Purple Jars

And if you are going to get your true love Food in Jars, you might as well bundle it up with some really pretty canning jars, like these.

#4 Copper Dog Biscuit Cutters

I am all for sharing the Valentine’s Day love with my dog, Daisy.  These are my absolute favorite biscuit cutter and I love that they come in three shapes.  While I tend to use the medium sized cutter for Daisy’s biscuits, I can see myself using the smaller ones to make a care package for my mom’s small dogs one of these days.  Daisy’s favorite dog biscuit recipe can be found here.

#5 Copper Heart Shaped Cookie Cutters

I’ve realized this year that to be a food blogger, I really need heart shaped cookie cutters.  It’s one of those things where I feel like I have every other cookie cutter in the world, including a pumpkin shaped one and a turkey, but I don’t have a single heart shaped one.  I love this set – they are just so pretty!

#6 Organic Mushroom Farm

We are so lucky here in the PNW to have access to bountiful varieties of mushrooms.  I’ve yet to go to a farmer’s market where there aren’t seasonal mushrooms and have been introduced to some edible varieties I didn’t know existed when I lived in Colorado (the lion’s mane mushroom comes to mind).  That said, I love the idea of growing my own mushrooms, which is possible with this great mushroom growing kit.  Just imagine growing your own mushrooms and then eating them in Triple Mushroom and Truffle Risotto. 

#7 Kombucha Kit

Like with the mushroom growing kit, I’m a foodie who enjoys homesteading type projects.  Learning to brew, whether it is beer, wine, or kombucha, sounds like a great way to spend some time on the weekend.  This kombucha kit includes everything you would need to get started on your own homemade kombucha, including the scoby (or mother).  Fermentation projects are the best – it’s so much fun to watch something transform.

#8 Mozzarella and Ricotta Cheese Making Kit

And of course, what could be better for a food lover than the tools to make homemade cheese?  Mozzarella and ricotta cheese are the gateway cheeses for the home fromager.  Once you get going on these, the next step is a cheese cave and molds (both the kinds to make blue cheese and the kinds to set up your cheese rounds).  If you love your food blogging sweetie, you’ll definitely enable him or her with this kit.

 

#9 Bar Set for Cocktails

I absolutely love my cocktail shaker.  Right now, though, my bar set is limited to a cocktail shaker and a shot glass.  Beyond that, I improvise. End of a wooden spoon as a muddler? Check.  Vegetable peeler for garnishes?  Check.  Anything fancier than that?  Forget about it.  I could definitely use a fancy bar set (along with a fancy bar cart – but that’s on another list for another day).  I love this one – it’s simple, not too expensive, and has just the right number of tools.  It also looks like it would fit in the cabinet where I keep all the liquor.

#10 Pusheen Mug

And what every food blogger needs is a cute Pusheen mug (especially for a food blogger who is also a cat lover).  I adore this one – because I need a catpusheeno in my life.  Plus, it’s got a heart on it – perfect for Valentine’s Day!

What are you and your loves doing for Valentine’s Day this year?  I’d love to read about it in the comments!

This post contains affiliate links, which means if you purchase something from this post, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.  I only include products that I use, love, or want for myself.  Thank you for supporting Fix Me a Little Lunch. 

Star Anise Panna Cotta

Star Anise Panna Cotta

Star Anise Panna Cotta

Star Anise Panna Cotta is a great recipe for an indulgent breakfast treat or late day snack.  It’s also my entry for February’s Food ‘n Flix for the movie Pan’s Labyrinth.  (Food ‘n Flix is hosted this month by Katharina at Pretty Cake Machine).  Pan’s Labyrinth is a dark fairy tale directed by Guillermo del Toro.  The story takes place in post-civil war Spain in 1944.  There’s an undercurrent of political unrest and distress, and the film itself is a dark telling of a young girl following mythical creatures into the labyrinth.  I won’t spoil the ending, but suffice it to say, it doesn’t end well.  It’s one of those films that’s incredible for its filmography and story, but probably best not watched if you are depressed.

Both times I’ve watched this movie, I’ve done so kind of between my fingers – yep, I’m a wimp when it comes to dark movies.  Still, I was inspired to create my star anise panna cotta.  The inspiration came from the scene in which Ofelia encounters the Pale Man at a banquet.  Of course, much like Persephone going into Hades, Ofelia shouldn’t be touching any of the food at the banquet – and of course, all the food is beautiful and alluring (and of course, she eats something, thus jeopardizing her very future).  I was particularly drawn to the molded desserts, which got me to thinking about jello molds and the like – very old fashioned desserts.  The whole temptation and desire thing came to mind, too, especially since we are moving swiftly toward Valentine’s Day.

All of this led me to making panna cotta.  Panna cotta is a rich, creamy dessert that has that air of old-fashioned about it.  At first, I thought I might aim for a bright sauce for my panna cotta, but then decided to go a bit darker, landing on a star anise caramel for the sauce, which complements the star anise panna cotta nicely.

star anise panna cotta

star anise panna cotta

star anise panna cotta

Just in case you don’t want to try to get the panna cotta to cooperate coming out of its mold – this tastes just as good in a small jar.  It sets nicely, and you can just drizzle the sauce over the top, throw a lid on it, and call it an afternoon snack.

Star Anise Panna Cotta

Ingredients

    Brown Sugar Star Anise Simple Syrup
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 star anise pods
  • Star Anise Panna Cotta
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 packet unflavored gelatin
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 4 star anise pods
  • Star anise caramel
  • 1 cup sugar (either white or brown)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar star anise simple syrup

Instructions

  1. Make the brown sugar star anise simple syrup first. Combine the brown sugar, water, and star anise pods in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside to cool for at least an hour (though for more intense flavor, refrigerate overnight). Remove the star anise pods.
  2. Make the star anise panna cotta. In a small saucepan, sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water. Bring the gelatin/water mix to a simmer and fully dissolve the gelatin. Set aside.
  3. In a medium saucepan, combine the heavy cream and the star anise pods and bring to a low simmer. Simmer for five minutes. Add the milk and sugar, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Take the mixture off the heat and add the gelatin (it will have formed a gelatin pancake - just scrape the whole thing into the heated milk and cream and mix until dissolved). Remove the star anise pods and pour the panna cotta into individual ramekins or half-pint jars. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or over night.
  4. As the panna cotta sets, make the star anise caramel. Combine the sugar, heavy cream, and butter in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over low heat and stir occasionally for 7 minutes. Take off the heat and add the simple syrup. The caramel will thicken as it cools. If it gets too thick, microwave for thirty seconds or so.
  5. To serve, drizzle the caramel over the panna cotta and enjoy!
  6. Makes four servings.
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This post is linked up to Weekend Cooking – check it out!

 

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