Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Summer Grill Night

Last Sunday night all I wanted to do was get the grill fired up (there literally was fire), turn on the oven, and take my time cooking in the kitchen.  When I'm in the mood to cook and have a little extra time, I love to hang out in the kitchen and do my best to create a meal with a little extra flavor and passion. This meal can be made any night of the week, but my favorite night to stay in and eat at home is Sunday.  There is something about the smell of food cooking, a glass of wine already poured, setting the table, and appreciating our home that makes me feel content and whole.  

The potatoes and brussels sprouts are staples in our house, but the cedar plank salmon was something I haven't made in years.  The salmon was fresh caught Alaskan salmon and was meant to be seasoned, placed on the cedar planks, grilled mildly, and served. Although I did not have time to capture this moment on camera, more than half-way through the grilling process our cedar planks caught on fire, and thus, the salmon became smoked cedar plank salmon. A happy accident in my mind and belly, but for those of you not favoring the charred flavor, stand by and watch closely with a spray bottle in hand to keep the planks damp!


Parmesan Brussels Sprouts:
  • 1 bag pre-chopped brussels sprouts or 1 pound of whole brussels sprouts
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tbsp of sesame oil
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
~Heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit 
~Place brussels sprouts on a non-greased baking sheet
~Mix in garlic, sesame oil, cheese, and salt and pepper with brussels sprouts
~Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown 

Baked Baby Potatoes:

  • 20 baby potatoes, chopped in half
  • 1 tbsp of sesame oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (I baked these with the brussels sprouts)
  • Place potatoes in a non-greased baking pan and mix in the oil, salt, and pepper
  • Allow potatoes to cook for 25-35 minutes until golden brown and soft

Smoked Cedar Plank Salmon:

  • 2 fresh caught Alaskan salmon fillets
  • 2 cedar planks
  • 1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp tamari sauce
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp raw honey
~Allow cedar planks to soak in water for at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours
~Mix in a bowl the soy sauce, tamari sauce, oil, brown sugar, and honey
~Use the sauce to glaze the entire fillet on all sides
~Place the salmon skin side down on the cedar plank
~Have the grill on medium-high heat and place planks in the middle of the grill
~Cook salmon on each side for ten minutes (if you leave your grill unattended, the cedar plank may catch on fire-an awesome mistake for me, but if not for you, stand by with a spray bottle or cup of water to keep plank moist)

Wine Selection:

  • Chateau St. Jean Pinot Noir: A trick I learned in Sonoma, CA I was impressed by and thought was cool-if you have a glass of red wine, tip it over your menu, and if you can see through it, it will be good with seafood (and it was!)
  • Chateau St. Jean Reserve Chardonnay: A delicious, buttery, white wine to pair perfectly with the salmon (and my meal preparation)  

Bon Appetit!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Almost two years ago...

This Monday Dave and I will be celebrating our two year wedding anniversary.  I truly am grateful for all of our time we've been together and really feel so lucky to have him in my life.  After two years of making our relationship official as husband and wife, I can truly say we are still just as happy as when we started our relationship 10 years ago.

Dave and I try to celebrate each day or milestone, whether it be an anniversary or just a Friday night pizza date after a long week of work.  I know I have found being in a committed relationship a journey and constant puzzle of making compromises and choices with each other.

Not one day is like the other with crazy outside forces in this world endlessly pulling at our hearts. But I know the one thing constant in my life is Dave's support and knowing his love is truly unconditional for me (I know this after he still brings me coffee in bed even when I call him on his cell phone when he's in the kitchen).

Our wedding for us was a celebration of what joy we have found being together and wanting to share it with our families and friends.  Looking back at these photos reminds me of a special day that truly captured our love and bond to each other.  I am excited to spend the weekend with Dave reminiscing of that day, the many before, and the many more to come.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Tomatillo Salsa

This salsa was made purely from ingredients from the local farmer's market I visited this past weekend.   A snack I know where every ingredient came from and something I found to be very delicious.  This takes about 15 minutes to make and probably less than 15 minutes to eat.  I hope you all enjoy this salsa I think I have found to be my new favorite this summer!

Tomatillo Salsa:
~Serves 6
  • 1 quart tomatillos (about 20)
  • 1/2 cup chopped sweet onion
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • Garlic can be added as well, I'm just not that big of a fan-recommend about 1-2 cloves
-Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil
-Peel the tomatillos (they are a little sticky) and rinse with water
-Add tomatillos to boiling water
-When the tomatillos turn a bright yellow (as seen below-takes about 5 to 7 minutes), remove from water and strain
-Add tomatillos, chopped onion, chopped pepper, and cilantro, and salt to a blender
-Mix on high until all ingredients are finely chopped and becomes a liquid
-Allow to cool to room temperature or place in the refrigerator for later use
-Open your favorite bag of tortilla chips and enjoy!


Monday, July 21, 2014

Farmer's Market Season

It's finally farmer's market season here in Northeastern Pennsylvania and it's one of my favorite parts of the summer.  The farmers market is a place I can go even for just 30 minutes on a Saturday morning to support the local farmers who endlessly supply our town with delicious produce.  These farmers are cultivating not only their land, but a sense of community and the promise of fresh local goods to better our health.  I love knowing where everything comes from, the inexpensive prices, and the endless possibilities to create a meal from less than five ingredients.  This week we were all about finding as many green vegetables as possible and some fresh fruit.  We also came across the best cheese stand (fifty dollars on cheese is definitely a splurge, but when it is one of your main food groups, it's a necessity).  There are close to twelve farm stands that offer a variety of produce, baked goods, honey, meats, flowers, and of course, cheese.  

A glimpse of our stops is listed below with photos:

  • The best blueberries I have had thus far this summer were found at Brace's Orchard.  They always have the best people working their stand and are always selling their delicious apples along with the equally delicious peaches and other fruits with such energy I always walk away wishing I had my own apple orchard and farm stand-but then I remember I have Brace's Orchard instead!  
  • Dymonds Farm stand is our go-to for fresh produce, which included green beans, broccoli, zucchini, fresh tomatoes, and squash all for about thirteen dollars. My kind of deal.
  • Next door is Rowlands Farm, which produces hydroponic and pesticide free lettuce and herbs.  The farmer is always excited to let you taste his different lettuce varietals and you will definitely leave with more than just one kind. 
  • Our cheese was made from around the world, but locally sourced and sold by igourmet. We had a wonderful host who let us sample every type of cheese (she knew we were suckers for all kinds), and we were able to buy our cheese supply, which will maybe last us through the week.
  • Our last stop was made at Dancing Hen Farm for my ingredients for tomatillo salsa (recipe to follow later this week).  Great family farm and CSA who had delicious produce, beautiful sunflowers, and not for me, but truly grass fed, free range, stress free, frozen chickens.  
  • A few other great stands we didn't need anything from this weekend, but love to see present were the Beekeeper's Daughter honey made locally and SO good, Star Bakery with some of the biggest loaves of bread I've ever seen, and Fertile Grounds, our areas very own CSA brining weekly supplies of fresh produce almost right to your door and into your kitchen.
Dave taking in the stands

My beloved cheese stand

Fresh produce, beautiful flowers, and a happy me!

The Fertile Grounds truck-a great sight!

Two full bags and Piper Ruched Bones Leggins by me2roo

Butter head lettuce from Rowlands

Tomatillos and sweet onions from Dancing Hen

Blueberries and cherries from Braces

I hope anyone who is reading this takes the time to find out more information about a local farmers market near you.  Take some time to support your community and be a part of the important activity of purchasing locally grown produce to be enjoyed at your own kitchen table.  


Friday, July 18, 2014

33 Years of Love

On our wedding day, 7-28-12

My parents today are celebrating their 33rd wedding anniversary.  Every day they have inspired me and Dave (my husband) on how to work together as a team and how love can be found in many different forms through out a marriage.  My parents are a couple who work hard every day and value the commitment they made to each other just as much, if not more, than they did 33 years ago.  They are always there for each other, making each day more time spent enjoying the journey of their beautiful marriage.  Like any couple, they have been through trials and tribulations and every time they pull together, support one another and find strength to get through it side by side.  They express their adoration for each other in many ways and have led by example on how a truly happy marriage lasts.  I am smiling writing these thoughts, knowing I am so grateful and lucky to have such great role models to help me shape my own marriage.  So while they are already celebrating 33 years of life together all alone, I know they will still be celebrating many more days, months, and years to come.  Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad!


Truly so special

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

My Green Juice Prescription

After a relaxing weekend with a few glasses of wine and another summer weekend almost here again, I try to add a little extra healthiness to my day.  My husband and I are always working hard at staying in shape and eating healthy without spending too much time on the prep work and details.  In the past year we have experimented more with green juices and jumped over the hurdle of their appearance (I know the face many of your are making when you think about a green juice, trust me, I made it too).  I think we have finally found one we truly enjoy and that really tastes good.  This juice may not be for everyone, but let me tell you three of my feelings about green juices anyway as to why I drink this juice as often as possible-or really as often as Dave will make it for me.  

  • It truly tastes good and not like a liquid salad-the more fruit you mix in too, the better it masks the greens flavor
  • You will feel full and refreshed at the same time-I drink it for breakfast some days or as a post work out snack
  • You will continue to feel fresh and vibrant for hours and days to come.  All of these ingredients pack a lot of great essential vitamins and nutrients to make your body glow and keep wanting more

Green Juice Rx:
Serves two
  • 1 apple, peeled and cored (pink lady in our house)
  • 1 cup of spinach
  • 1 cup of kale
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 cup of orange juice
  • 1/2 of a lemon juice
  • 4-5 ice cubes
Mix all ingredients in a blender, add to your favorite glass, and give it a try!