Vacation Vibes…

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The blog posts were sparse this week, as Nick took the entire week off for a little family stay-cation.  I can’t even begin to tell you how much easier and more enjoyable a local vacation is with a baby; vs getting onto  a plane, packing what feels like 1000 lbs of baby gear into a duffel bag, and usually hiding out in your hotel room after 7pm because of someones bedtime.  Continue reading “Vacation Vibes…”

Mediterranean Tagine Trial…

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Lately I’ve been craving sweeter dishes, which is so NOT like me. Ever since Charlotte popped out, I have developed a serious sweet tooth, that I DEARLY wish would go away. However, it got me thinking about how to add sweetness to entrees instead of eating more desserts, and what could I invent to fuel this new craving.  Tonight we made an amazing Mediterranean dish in our Tagine, but you could easily do it in a covered frying pan or pot. We rarely cook with chicken thighs, but I’m starting to really enjoy cooking with them, especially incorporating them into stews. Continue reading “Mediterranean Tagine Trial…”

Better than Delivery…

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There is LITERALLY nothing better than pizza night at our house. A few glasses of red, some cheese to nibble on while prepping, great company, and delicious flat breads with a variety of toppings = my dream night.  And because you can never have just one, we made two pizzas, one white and one red sauce. There were only 3 of us, and it’s safe to say we almost finished both pies (oink oink).

The first pizza was my choice; spice rubbed chicken, fig, arugula, ricotta cheese, with a balsamic honey drizzle. We never use figs, and I think they are a fruit that is very under-rated. The second pictured was Nick’s choice, sausage, red and yellow peppers, onion, and mozzarella. It was packed with a ton of spice. Honestly, they both ROCKED. The last minute bonus in the night included the extra pizza dough we had left over. We used it to make simple garlic knots; A little garlic, olive oil, and chili powder go a long way.

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**Remember our easiest trick/tip is to just BUY the dough. It’s so much faster and I swear the end result is quite similar.  Additionally, we mentioned before for flat breads, leave the pizza stone in the oven as it heats up, transferring the cold pizza from the cutting board, directly to the stone in the oven. **

Spiced Chicken, Fig, Arugula, Ricotta Pizza, with a Balsamic Honey Glaze white sauce pizza:

Ingredients: serves 4

  • 1/2 lb pizza dough
  • 1 basket of figs; sliced thinly
  • 1 cup of ricotta cheese (as your base sauce)
  • 3 cups of arugula lettuce
  • 1/2 lb of chicken breast; chopped
  • Spices for the chicken:
    • 1 tbsp each paprika, ras al hanout, kosher salt, and freshly ground pepper
  • Balsamic Honey glaze mix:

Instructions:

  1. Generously dust the chicken with the spice mix. Add salt & pepper to both sides.
  2. On high heat with a few spoons of olive oil, cook the chicken until tender, about 5 minutes on each side. You want it to be cooked most of the way, as it will only be in the oven on the pizza for a short bit. Remove and let sit, until pizza is ready for toppings.
  3. Heat the oven to 475 with the pizza stone inside (you want the pizza stone to be hot to get the bottom crispy).
  4.  Dust the surface you’re going to make the pizza on (we just used a plastic cutting board) with a generous amount of cornmeal.
  5. Form the pizza dough into a pizza crust. We spun it in the air a few times, but mostly cheated and just spread it with our hands on the cutting board. You want it to be pretty thin in the area you put the toppings, and the crust should be thinner than you’d guess (about the same size as your finger… believe me, it puffs up a lot.)       *** hint: only add the toppings right before you transfer the pizza to the oven, or the crust will start to get soggy and stick to your work surface!
  6. Spread ricotta cheese thinly across the pizza dough, covering the entire pie.
  7. Add sliced figs and sliced chicken.
  8. Place in oven for 15 minutes, or until crust is golden.
  9. In a bowl dress arugula with balsamic honey dressing, mixing well.
  10. Right before taking out, cover the top of pizza with arugula, generously. Let cook in oven for 1 more minute, making sure the arugula doesn’t get too wilted.

Sausage, Onions, Peppers, and Mozzarella Pizza red sauce pizza: 

Ingredients: serves 4

  • 1/2 lb pizza dough
  • 2 hot Italian sausages; sliced
  • 1 red and yellow pepper (or any colors); sliced
  • 1 ball of fresh mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup of red marinara sauce
  • 1/2 red onion; sliced thinly
  • 2 tea spoons of chili powder and chili flakes

Instructions:

  1. In a mixing bowl, toss sliced peppers and onions with olive oil. Roast in oven for 10 minutes, or until just soft.
  2. In a frying pan on medium heat with a few drops of olive oil, cook whole sausages until brown. Remove and slice into bite size pieces
  3. Repeat pizza dough steps above (steps 3-5).
  4. Spread marinara sauce thinly across pizza dough, covering the entire pie.
  5. Add sliced sausages, peppers, and onions, and slice mozzarella on top. Dust hot spices on top.
  6. Put in the oven for 15 minutes, or until the crust is golden.

I probably send at least one swing pic to Nick a day, which goes hand in hand with my rule of getting out to the park at least once a day for Charlotte to have some fun. She will sit in the swings giggling the entire time, and it seriously puts you in the best mood, just watching how something so simple (and FREE) brings SO much joy to her day. I’d challenge someone to be in a terrible mood, to take Char to the park, and see if they don’t return refreshed and happy. It’s therapeutic just watching 🙂

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Melting in the City…with Mango Pork

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The city is literally boiling this weekend, with temperatures reaching 95 degrees; however, the humidity makes it feel like 110 degrees. Back in the pre-baby days, this made for a great excuse to head to a beer garden to ‘hydrate’ all day, however, with Charlotte in tow, we find ourselves running out of things to do. Yesterday we tried to be brave and face the heat, but found our selves in bed by 8:30 pm, a strong result of the sun sucking every ounce of energy out of us. With that being said, we haven’t wanted to cook too much this weekend, so this pork dish was a perfect refresher. It’s our usual pork with a spicy brine and fresh, cold mango salad on top. You could put this topping on chicken or fish too. We paired it with some simple rice and beans and a VERY chilled white wine 🙂

Charlotte continues to conquer the world by standing on anything she can get her hands on. Last week we tried a few new finger foods, such as baked beans (BIG love), prunes, and when mom got a little lazy, a fresh blueberry muffin (I can’t even tell you the last time I had one of those-WOW delicious).  I know I keep saying how fun it is becoming, but seriously each week gets better. She had her 9 month check up, and she is already 2 1/2 feet tall. I think I entered a state of shock, when the doctor closed the door with “See you at her 1 year.” HOW??

Ok, time to go blast the a/c…..Stay cool out there my friends!!!

Ingredients: serves 2-3

  • 1 lb of pork tenderloin
  • 1 mango; chopped
  • 1 bunch of scallions; diced
  • 1/4 tea spoon of chili powder
  • 1/4 tea spoon of cumin
  • t table spoon of kosher salt & pepper
  • For the pork brine: 
    • 2 jalapenos; charred and chopped
    • 3 cups of water
    • 3 table spoons of salt
    • 2 table spoon of lime juice
    • 1 table spoon of fennel seeds
    • 1 table spoon of pepper

Instructions:

  1. Combine brine ingredients above in a pot. Bring to a boil, then let simmer for about 5 minutes (until salt dissolves). Let cool to room temperature
  2. Once cooled, seal in zip lock bag with pork inside for 4-6 hours.
  3. Take pork out and dry off some with a paper towel. Season generously with salt and pepper on both sides.
  4. We cook the pork the same way we usually do, just with a different brine. See the steps here….Pork Tenderloin.
  5. Chop mango into bit size chunks. Sprinkle with cumin, chili powder spices, salt and pepper. Let sit in the refrigerator, sealed for 20 minutes to get it cold.
  6. Mix chopped scallions into the mango mix right before serving.

 

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August Eats with Chimichurri Steak

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Is anyone else shocked that it is already August?!? I feel like my days have been so busy lately, that summer has swept by in a blink of the eye……Below’s Steak recipe involves our good ole chimichurri topping, which you literally could use on anything (fish, chicken, pork, potatoes). We kept this dish simple, with medium pan fried steak over couscous.

Below is a picture of Char eating her first meatball (with some yams mixed in). I must say, she is one spoiled little girl, taking what should be her Dad’s leftovers for lunch 🙂 I will say finger foods are fun, but definitely more time and effort than shoving a good old fruit or veggie puree pouch into her mouth (gosh those were so easy). However, each day she gets better and more intrigued about feeding herself. So far bananas are still in the lead for favorites (which most likely she inherited from her Mama, who eats one every am for the last 20 years straight).

Chimichurri Pan Fried Steak

Ingredients: serves 2

  • bunch flat leaf parsley (chopped)
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 3/4-1 cup good extra virgin olive oil
  • 4-5 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • juice from half a lemon
  • 1/4 red onion (diced very small)
  • 1 tablespoon dried chili flakes
  • 2 sprigs fresh oregano (just the leaves… you can also just use 1tbsp dried oregano)
  • 1 tsp each kosher salt & ground black pepper
Instructions:
  1. Put the garlic cloves, 1/2 cup olive oil, chili flakes, and oregano into the food processor, and pulse until garlic is diced fairly small.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients (lemon, red wine vinegar, parsley, red onion, salt, pepper, and another 1/4 cup oil) to the processor. Blend until everything is diced very finely (~15 seconds). I actually like to keep the parsley a little intact, instead of blending too much, but that’s really up to you. You may have to manually stir the mixture a little between blends, to make sure everything gets chopped up. Add remaining olive oil as necessary… the mixture should look as though it’s sitting in olive oil once you’re done.
  3. Prepare steak to your usual liking. We pan fry it on the stove top, seasoning both sides heavily in salt & pepper ahead of time.
  4. Heat a large frying pan on high heat, add a few drops of olive oil to the pan. Let meat sear for 3 minutes, or until well browned (depending on how rare you like it-we like it medium rare). Use tongs to lift up to see if nicely browned. If so, flip to the other side and let sear for another 3 minutes.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat and let the steak rest for 5-10  minutes before slicing.
  6. Spread chimichurri sauce on top and serve.
Pro tip: We marinated some chicken in the excess chimichurri to eat the next day… and I don’t know which was better… the steak or the chimichurri!

 

 

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