Friday Favorites 8.30

Finally August is coming to an end. September kicks off with my birthday! As excited as I am to turn a quarter of a century, the upcoming birthday has been quite the stress inducer this week. I am realizing that I am nowhere close to where I thought I’d be, and, I am nowhere close to where I want to be. I plan to spend the next year working diligently to reach these goals. The future excites me! I just need to keep an open mind and not let my creativity stifle. One of my favorites, I always look to this quote for inspiration:

“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”

Looks like Sylvia Plath and I had more in common than an affinity for ovens.

Speaking of ovens, I have started the process of baking my first pie from the Hoosier Mama cookbook!Image

I hope you all have a lovely weekend!

XOXOXO

Tahdig. Ya dig?!

Growing up, the closest I ever got to anything Persian was a cat. And that being said, Poncho would not let you get very close…unless you wanted to get bit. There were 6 reasons under the age of 12 why he ran away after only living at our house for a week. Don’t worry though, he made himself super comfortable at the house down the street. (Until he got hit by a car many years later. Sad but true story.)

Persians don’t play around! Literally. The cats do not like to play. You could most definitely say the same about their rice! Take everything you know about cooking rice, 2 cups of water per 1 cup of rice, and throw it out the window. Yeah, they do things much differently. The end result is amazing! 

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I bought a year supply of rice over the weekend during my first time ever visit to a Persian grocer. I mainly just wanted the burlap bag so I could make a purse later on. After telling my favorite co-worker about my food shopping adventure she gave me some saffron, homemade yogurt, and a link to a recipe for Persian rice- tahdig! I’d had this once before at a birthday party in high school. Up until a few days ago, I had referred to tahdig as crunchy rice. 

For the most part I followed this recipe. Somehow I messed up on the easiest part, measuring. I blame all the coffee I’ve been drinking. If you plan to make tahdig, plan ahead! It is recommended that you soak the rice overnight.

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Ingredients

2 cups Basmati rice (I wasn’t paying attention and did 4…)

a pinch of saffron

a pinch of sugar

plain yogurt (if I didn’t have homemade I’d of used Greek)

vegetable oil

sea salt

butter

lots of fresh dill

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The Process

1. In a large bowl, rinse your rice until the water in the bowl is almost clear. Soak over night. Image2. In a large pot, preferably nonstick and non-stainless steel, bring 6 cups of water to a boil. Salt your water and pour the rice into the pot. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring often. Image

3. Meanwhile, pour 1 tbs of the boiling water into a small bowl over the saffron and sugar. Just watch as the water turns a nice yellow shade.

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4. Mix the saffron water with about 3 tbs of yogurt. You will later mix this with a few scoops of the cooked rice to give the bottom a nice golden color once finished.

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5. When the 10 minutes is up, drain and rinse your rice with cold water. Scoop about 1/2 cups worth into the bowl with the yogurt and saffron and mix well.

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6. Fill your original pot with just enough water that the entire bottom is covered, roughly about 1/2 inch high. Add about 2 tbs of vegetable oil, and swirl around so that they kind of mix. (Oil and water don’t mix. It’s science.) 

7. Next, pour the yogurt rice into the pot so that it covers the bottom of your pan. This will be the good, crunchy part later!

8. Pour the drained rice on top. The original recipe says to make a pyramid. I did not have enough room so it really just became the top layer of rice.

9. Poke holes in the rice with the end of a spoon. Be sure to not poke all the way down! This is for steaming purposes. 

Image10. Cover the pot with a lid and cook on high heat for no longer than 10 minutes.

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11. After the 10 minutes is up, wrap the lid in a towel and cover the pot. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for one hour. Image

12. When finished, dump the pot over a large plate, as you would a cake. The top layer of rice should easily come out. The bottom and best part might need a little extra help. Image

Break up the bottom layer so other people can enjoy it. Serve with butter, sea salt, fresh dill, and yogurt!

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Now if only I had some kebabs! I have lived off of this rice for the last 2 days, mainly topping with dill, yogurt, and a fried egg.

I read somewhere that cooking rice Persian style is almost an art form. I got egg poaching down on the first try…. Maybe I am a natural?

So excited to try my next Persian recipe, whatever that may be!

Wednesday Wishlist 8.28

It’s finally here- the last Wednesday of August! 6 days from now I will be turning 25. It’s my silver anniversary of being born, y’all!

I’ve never been a super materialistic person. I think the majority of that comes from growing up without a lot of money and 5 brothers and sisters. Socks and underwear made great Xmas and birthday presents because they were things I used everyday! Even now, I don’t ask my parents for anything outlandish. Normally if anyone asks what I want for my birthday, I’ll say something huge and expensive as a joke. Quickly I retract the statement, because not everyone gets sarcasm, and ask for a bottle of wine and a bunch of sunflowers. Easy, inexpensive, and…..useful haha!

Here is my birthday wishlist for the BIG TWO FIVE:

1. A KitchenAid Professional 600 Series 6 Quart Bowl-Lift Stand Mixer. Haha, yeah right! This girl will keep dreaming! I actually could have purchased this for myself had I not spontaneously bought plane tickets to Pittsburgh for October. I was antsy!

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2. Succulents. Yeah yeah yeah, the fad plants of 2013 it seems. These juicy babies are as popular as French macaroons or cupcakes. Still, they are something different than my normal go-to: sunflowers. 

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3. Masons Masons Masons. My jar collection is never going to go anywhere if I keep giving away salsa, salad, and other treat stuffed masons! Old or new, vintage or not, I’ll take ’em because my supply is dwindling!

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So that’s my list. So excited for September to finally be here! Any advice on turning 25?

XOXOXO

Over the Weekend: Food Food Food

I probably have talked about my 3 favorite F words: fun, friends, and food. Usually, I don’t really have one without the other. I’d say the weekend encompassed all three, but placed the most emphasis on FOOD.

Finally finally finally I joined the CSA I had been meaning to for quite some time. My friend Elizabeth are going to split the $100 a month cost. This is a good thing in so many ways, plus I don’t think I could eat that many veggies in one week, even if I wanted to! Besides our huge share box, we picked up a few other things at the market, including farm fresh eggs, gluten free and all natural dog treats, and my favorite sunflower sprouts from another local farm. What a beautiful haul! And all organic and locally grown!

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The market day did not stop there! My friend Jessica and I adventured to Plano. She was on the search for some special pistachios. We found them at a Persian market nestled between a swimming lessons store and an auto garage. The little shop was filled with so many interesting things! Saffron rock candy anyone? I made it home with poppy seeds, red lentils, chickpea flour, dried squash seeds, orange blossom honey, fresh dill, sheep cheese (OMG!), and the biggest bag of basmati rice. I can’t wait to turn that rice bag into a purse!….give me about a year!

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I love getting to sample and purchase a variety of foods from all over. Sometimes from my own backyard, others way over on the other side of the world, it’s always an experience for me and my taste buds!

The rest of the weekend was filled with planning what to make with all my delicious new foods, pool time, and Breaking Bad theory discussion. I hope you all had a lovely weekend!

*If you are interested in joining a CSA and live in the North Texas Area, consider Earthwise. Find out more information here!

52 Weeks of Baking: Bread for Beginners

I remember the first time I made bread. I was however old you are in the 2nd grade. We made “unleavened” bread at some retreat before my first communion. Basically the ingredients were flour, salt, and water. Basically the bread tasted like shit. I think that may have been the point though.

My second attempt at bread was beer bread. Yeah, 13 year old Annie definitely made this with the intention of getting drunk. She didn’t know how the science of baking worked back then. The bread didn’t turn out that great anyway.

Other than those two anecdotes, I don’t really have that much experience with baking bread! I feel like I never have the time to dedicate to the process, though I often dream of being an artisan baker. How cool would that be? This weekend I learned how to bake an easy, no frills version using my favorite kitchen utensil: my cast iron skillet! I’d say this is the perfect bread for beginners. I mainly followed this recipe, but substituted whole wheat flour. Also, my new neighbors do not have a rosemary bush….

Ingredients

1 package active dry yeast

2 cups lukewarm water

4 1/3 cups whole wheat flour

1/2 tbs kosher salt

olive oil

The Process

1. Combine yeast and warm water in a large bowl.

2. Using a wooden spoon, stir in 1 cup of whole wheat flour and 1/2 tbs kosher salt.

3. Stir in the rest of the flour 1 cup at a time until completely incorporated.

4. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for a little over and hour.

5. Sprinkle a little bit of flour on top of the dough. With floured hands, form the dough into a disc shape. DO NOT KNEED!

6. Lightly oil the cast iron skillet. Place the dough in the skillet, cover with a towel, and allow to rise for one more hour.

7. Brush the top of your bread with more olive oil and sprinkle with salt.

8. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 400 degrees for 40 minutes.

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This was seriously the easiest thing ever! I can’t wait to be more adventurous with my bread baking as the year progresses! 50 weeks to go.

Friday Favorites 8.23

I have a lot of favorite things. Somehow I have managed to conjure up a post every Friday about them! You know, some of my favorites strike up so much….favor…with me that I have begun to collect them! Some people might view it as hoarding, I see it as creating a special collection. Maybe not so much in the library/museum sense, but one that is a permanent placeholder of meaning.

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The following are favorite things I have begun to collect over the last few years.

1. Mason jars!  I remember my dad drinking sweet tea out of masons as a kid. He would also always save the spaghetti sauce jars, not discriminating again jar manufacturer so long as they held large quantities. I guess my dad has passed that down to me. If I was not constantly re-purposing jars and giving them away, you might be able to say I have a slight collecting problem. My new favorites are the heritage blue collection. I have definitely talked about these babies before…

2. Vintage glass. Where it used to be that I was obsessed with Depression glass, the more useful Pyrex has taken over. I will not turn away an amber Anchor Hocking cake stand if you give it to me though! I wish I would have snatched up all of my grandma’s Pyrex when she was giving it away! She did however give me an awesome China set when I graduated with my undergrad. I have also taken a liking to glass insulators. I just think they are very pretty. Vintage glass of all types will continue to be one of my favorite things to collect. Vintage masons, too!Image

3. Postcards. My favorite things to collect are postcards. I actually require the help of friends on this one. Not only am I holding on to pieces of paper, but also the adventures associated with them. They are so much better than key chains, in my opinion! Plus, who doesn’t like getting snail mail? My estate sale bench is filllllllllled with postcards I have collected over the years. Thanks friends & keep ’em coming!

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Do you guys collect anything? I would love to know!

Hope you all have a lovely Friday and a great weekend! I’m going to be building a bed frame….with lots of help from my friend Erin!

Spicy Cucumber Salad

Fortunately for me, I get to live out one of my lifelong dream once a month each month as my department’s event planner. I love planning parties, and not to brag or anything, I am actually really good at it! This may be because I love a good theme, but most likely attributed to my control freak ways. I love being in charge and telling people what to do and when and how to do it! Kind of strange for my part-time introvert personality, but oh well. Today I executed our August birthday party. I thought I was going to be the only person making something, but boy was I wrong! we ended up with not one, not two, but THREE types of banana bread! Shit was ba-na-nasssssssssss!

Themes. I was not feeling very creative when planning this party. My sole inspiration at first was a picture of a dog I found on the internet. He was wearing sunglasses and hanging by a pool. This dog was too cool for school & a day job! Then it hit me how I was not by a pool in sunglasses. Hmmmm. It’s hot outside, why not plan a cool themed party!

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Check out those awesome Paint skills…

You know what else is really cool? Cucumbers! People put them on their eyes to reduce puffiness. Cucumber infused water is a diuretic. And they are the hipster stage of pickles! I decided to combine my affinity for pico de gallo and the coolness of cucumbers to create a refreshing yet equally spicy cucumber salad!

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Ingredients

3 cucumbers

2 jalapenos, diced

1/2 purple onion, diced

1 bunch cilantro, chopped

1 can sweet yellow corn, drained and rinsed

the juice of 1-2 large limes

8 oz queso fresco

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp chipotle powder

1 tbs garlic powder

sea salt and fresh black pepper to taste

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The Process

1. Wash all of your veggies to make sure they are clean! Some of the produce I used came from the community market here in Denton. Local and organic, yay!

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2. Peel and halve your cucumbers lengthwise, then slice the halves. Also known as quartering!ImageImage

3. Chop and dice your onion, cilantro, and jalapenos. I prefer to work with the jalapenos last, that way my hands do not burn as much at the end of the process. I also added all seeds to the salad for spice factor.

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4. Douse all of your chopped veggies with spices and lime Juice and stir together with the corn in a large bowl.

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5. Queso freso is the cherry on top of any tex-mex dish, in my opinion. It’s alright to be generous! ImageImage

This salad is filling without leaving you feeling weighed down. The most unhealthy parts, corn and cheese, make it! They really add some sweetness to counterbalance the chipotle and jalapenos.

I highly recommend this recipe for a summer party! If you chop fast, you can really throw it together in 10-15 minutes! Oooo, now if only I had a margarita to go with!

XOXOXO

Wednesday Wishlist 8.21

Once again, I feel like the week is dragging! Yesterday felt more like a Wednesday for sure. School will be starting back up one week from today, and that should definitely make the weekdays pick up their pace. Each evening when I walk my dog, I can feel the next season approaching closer and closer. While the temperature still get up to the 90s, the unbearable heat goes down with the sun. I really shouldn’t be complaining. It’s been a pretty mild summer this year. For Texas standards at least.

Ugh, but I am so ready for layering and leaf changing! And for all the lovely smells and tastes that come along with fall. Wishing for it real hard! The following are things I’d like to have to welcome in the -er months:

1. The Hoosier Mama Book of Pie: Recipes, Techniques, and Wisdom from the Hoosier Mama Pie Company. When I think of fall desserts, for the most part I think of pie! Pumpkin, sweet potato, pecan, and dutch apple, oh me oh my! My taste buds are getting excited just thinking about pie! The Hoosier Mama Pie Company started by Paula Haney in the wonderful Chicagoland in 2009 has since become a local favorite and national destination. Her cookbook came out last week! Often times I do not buy cookbooks, but this one is definitely on my wishlist! Chicago and pie, two wonderful things!

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2. A Lady’s Writing Set. Anthropologie currently has the Gentleman’s version on sale. Well, since we were on the topic of the Midwest, I thought I would bring up that one of Texas Style Council Friends living in Indiana and I are going to be penpals! Hoosier penpal? Me, of course! Handwritten notes and cool mail surprises are little things I love to send. I will ALWAYS send you a postcard upon travelling if you ask me to! How cute would a little writing set be? Or even better, I could print my own!

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3. Mason Jar Tumbler. I absolutely love love love mason jars. I actually collect vintage masons and canisters! Every morning I bring my quart sized jar of cold brew to work, wishing I could drink it along the way but can’t risk it (I am a huge spiller). When I discovered the Mason Bar Company I thought my dreams had been answered! No more spills! They also have a very lovely Instagram!

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I hope you all have a lovely Wednesday!

XOXOXO

52 Weeks of Baking

At some point in my future, I would love to enter the world professional baking. Unfortunately, being a full time library girl doesn’t translate, in my opinion, to mass cupcake production that well on a resume. I have read that a degree in culinary arts is not necessarily a necessity, and I really like being debt free! Why not use my blog as a portfolio? Hence my reason to bake for 52 weeks.

Over the next year I plan to challenge myself as a baker. Some weeks it may be making my own pastry dough while other will be making myself get in the kitchen!

In the spirit of New Orleans and wine night, I decided to start off on the easy side with brownies. Cafe du Monde brownies!

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Ingredients

1/2 cup coconut oil

1 1/4 tsp vanilla

1 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup chilled Cafe du Monde coffee

powdered sugar for dusting

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  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine oil, sugar, and vanilla.
  2. Beat in eggs.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking powder. Slowly add the dry mixture to the wet.
  4. Once batter is prepared, stir in the chilled coffee.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes
  6. Let cool. Dust with powdered sugar. Serve. Voila!

These brownies were a hit at my first wine night! So much that I didn’t get to take any photos/enjoy any leftovers! Next time, I would love to experiment with different types of chocolate! Decadence.

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I would love to get your input about baking! Is there anything you would like for me to try to attempt, excluding French macaroons?

Happy Baking!

Roasted Carrot & Ginger Soup

If you read my blog you know as a fact that I am a soup lover. For those of you who are just tuning in, I am, as a fact, a soup lover! I don’t discriminate against hot or cold during the alternating seasons. Yeah, I think soup is good anytime, year round.

In preparation for a juice cleanse I would like to do (need to buy a juicer) and as a “detox” from all the deliciously horrible things I ate in Nola, I have been trying to stick to a raw foods diet…or eating clean…or whatever.  Ha. I don’t think that Taverna brunch could be considered raw… I will, however, classify wine and mimosas as juice!  Back on topic. Eating clean. God I hate that term. Looking over my cousin’s meal plans from her juice cleanse, one caught my eye- a roasted carrot soup! Honestly, I only like carrots raw, in stir fry, carrot cake, and carrot souffle. The word roasted changes matters. I don’t think I had ever had roasted carrots before. This recipe is a little bit more on the dirty side of eating!

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Ingredients 

4 large carrots, chopped

5-10 garlic cloves, the more the better in my opinion!

1/2 large sweet potato, chopped

2 tbs fresh ginger

the juice of 1/2 lemon

1 1/3 cups skim milk

1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth

2 tbs flour

2 tsp chipotle powder

sea salt and fresh pepper to taste

1/2 tsp ground mustard

3 tbs coconut oil

(optional) garnish: 1 jalapeno and 1/2 white onion sauteed in 1 tbs butter

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The Process

1. Preheat over to 350 degrees.

2. Peel garlic cloves and chop your carrots and sweet potato. I like to leave the skin on my sweet potatoes for that extra fiber! Carefully peel and chop your ginger. Watch out for those fingers! For some reason it’s always a close call when fresh ginger is involved!

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3. Toss your garlic and chopped veggies in coconut oil and lemon juice. Season with mustard, chipotle, and salt and pepper. I think the chipotle and mustard together do an adequate job of contrasting the carrot’s sweetness and complimenting the earthiness of the sweet potato.

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4. Roast your vegetables in the oven for about 50 minutes, tossing intermittently. Your kitchen should smell like Thanksgiving! Yum!

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5. Whisk together you flour, chicken or vegetable broth, and 1/3 cup skim milk.

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6. If you want to add something extra, thinly slice and saute a jalapeno and onion half. You’ll be glad you did!

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7. When the vegetables are finished, transfer to a blender with the flour, milk, and broth mixture. Blend, slowly add in the remaining milk, season with salt and pepper, and blend some more. Transfer to bowls and serve!

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I made some flat bread to go with because I was a carb fiend last week! Well, I crave carbs a majority of the time. I’d say this soup is guilt free for the most part! The ginger gives it a bit of an Asian flair! I ate my leftovers cold the next day. Carrot and ginger gazpacho!

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So tell me, are y’all soup time all the time fans? Or do you prefer winter|hot & summer|cold?

Hope your week is getting off to a great start!