Stupid Simple & Vegan

Way back in the day I used to flip-flop between being a carnivore and a vegetarian. I even dabbled in veganism for about a month. It was actually during my first month of grad school. I’d amble around Denton with my nose in the air because I was smart, didn’t eat animal products, and rode a bike. Then one morning I woke up to yet another eggless breakfast and realized it was a life I did not want to live.

Fast forward four years and I am doing yet another Whole30. This means no dairy, among other things. Eggs are okay. But this post will actually focus on potatoes. Of the mashed variety. The vegan mashed variety! Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset

Vegan Mashed Potatoes

12 small, organic red potatoes cut into quarters

2 tsp coconut oil

1 cup unsweetened coconut milk

1 tbs garlic powder

s & p to taste

  1. Rinse and quarter your red potatoes. Boil in a pot of salted water until soft- about 20 minutes.
  2. After draining the potatoes, place in a bowl or the original pot. Add the coconut oil, coconut milk, and garlic powder. Mash away.
  3. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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Blogging a recipe that is this simple is actually really weird for me. It’s like posting about how to put on socks and then calling myself a fashion blogger…

BUT

Some people don’t know how to make mashed potatoes? Or maybe they don’t know coconut oil easily replaces butter? Whatever. I quickly added these vegan mashed potatoes to a very non-vegan fried egg and even later, I topped my stuffed peppers with ’em to make shepherd’s pie. Potatoes are pretty damn versatile and my go-to comfort food while on a Whole30. And, when paired with eggs, they make up 1/2 of the breakfast power couple! (Even when they are mashed!)

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The End.

Dutch BAE

Another post a long time in the making:

 

If you know me, you know kids and babies and little people altogether are not my thing. I prefer dogs and old people. That being said, the Dutch Baby is the only baby type I will welcome into my life with arms wide open.  And unlike the real deal, this breakfast/brunch/anytime delight takes way less than 9 months to make.

I did not have the slightest notion of the Dutch Baby’s existence until I stumbled upon Amber Wilson’s lovely Instagram feed. Talk about a life changing event! Here is the 15 second rundown: pancaky-crepey-custardy-popoveresque deliciousness.

After re-introducing the cast iron skillet into my culinary repertoire, I went searching for the recipe. Camille Styles blogged her DB recipe on my birthday, how serendipitous! I used her recipe my foundation, making small changes here and there.Processed with VSCOcam with m3 preset

Dutch Baby

Ingredients:

3 eggs at room temperature

2/3 cup milk, 2%-whole works best

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon white sugar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup flour

1-2  tablespoons unsalted butter

*Note: cast iron is a must for Dutch baby makin’

  1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees and place your cast iron skillet towards the back on the middle rack.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk your eggs for about 2 minutes until nice and frothy.
  3. Add in your sugars, milk, salt, and vanilla. Sift in the flour and whisk all ingredients until smooth.
  4. Let the batter rest for 10 minutes.
  5. Take your cast iron skillet out of the oven and coat the surface with butter. Quickly pour in the batter and pop the skillet back into the oven. bake for 15 minutes.

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Dutch babies are traditionally served doused with powdered sugar and accompanied by lemon wedges and butter galore. Fresh fruit is also another great addition. It is amazing how simple they are to make, too. That’s why this recipe is my BAE (before anything else) when it comes to breakfast.

Oh yeah, this recipe is very forgiving. I’ve made several different versions so far: chocolate, french coconut, buttermilk and berry, etc. etc. While it’s good to go Dutch on this pancake I really do not feel bad if I accidentally eat the entire thing.

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Sweet Potato Babycakes

The idea for this blog post found its beginnings in a personal journal entry. I was complaining via pen and paper about my lack of a Memorial Day weekend due to a 70 hour work week. The weekends are usually the time when I bake on my own, photograph, edit said photos, and then draft blog posts. I feel like I have not had a weekend since the middle of May. Anyway, somewhere in a rant on Instagram, Friday Night Lights (my newest Netflix obsession), and work, my mind saw a sudden burst of color. You know how shades can provoke certain emotions? Well, I feel like my brain did the opposite of that. By the end of my entry all I could think about were hues of purples and orange. I wanted to manifest these colors into something delicious. From that, my recipe for sweet potato babycakes (with a black raspberry & cinnamon glaze) was born! Image

Some of you may be questioning my choice of sweet potatoes now that summer is well upon us. What else is naturally orange and possesses an abundance of flavor and depth? Don’t say carrots unless you want to be wrong! Adding cinnamon the the fruit glaze really tied all the flavors together with a result that was slightly sweet and slightly savory. I have also had a hankering to use edible flowers as a garnish/decoration. After discovering and following an Australian cake decorator, Unbirthday Bakery, via Instagram, I purchased a package of pansies from a local grocery store. I figured this to be the better route than urban foraging. I really cannot wait to work with edible flowers again! They give you a warm fuzzy feeling, or me at least. ImageImageImageImage

My friend Lauren let me shoot and bake in her adorable, very well lit kitchen. Her original vintage gas stove is the stuff my dreams are made of, though, I guess in that dream I’d never be able to cook a Thanksgiving turkey. Her kitchen was the perfect setting to create and then later enjoy.

Sweet Potato Babycakes w/ a Black Raspberry & Cinnamon Glaze

For the cake:

3 medium sweet potatoes

2 cups flour

2 large eggs

1/2 tsp vanilla

1 3/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature

1 cup brown sugar

For the glaze:

4 cups powdered sugar

2-3 tbs black raspberry preserves

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 cup water, added 1 tbs at a time

edible flowers for decorating

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  1. Wash, peel, and prick your sweet potatoes with a fork. Roast for about 45 minutes or until done at 400 degrees. Once cooled, mash sweet potatoes with a fork until smooth. It is okay if there are some chunky pieces, it will give your cake some texture! ImageImageImage
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together salt, spices, flour, baking soda, and baking powder. In a separate large bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add in vanilla and then eggs, one at a time. ImageImageImageImage
  3. Mix the mashed sweet potatoes in with your butter, eggs, and vanilla. Once fully incorporated, stir in the flour and spices. Your batter should be thicker, more like the consistency of a banana bread. ImageImageImageImage
  4. Grease and flour 4 smaller baking cups, I used ramekins. If you want to make a full sized cake or bunt, be my guest! A 9 inch pan should do the trick. Pour your batter into whichever type of preferred baking dish, just note that the size may adjust the baking time. For ramekins, the total baking time was about 40-45 minutes at 350 degrees. use a toothpick or a fork to test your cake at the 30 minute mark. ImageImageImageImageImage
  5. Now for the glaze! Whisk together vanilla, a few tablespoons of your water, and the preserves. Slowly add in powdered sugar cup by cup, alternating between tablespoons of water. The thing with glaze is that you don’t want it too runny. The ideal consistency is a almost like Elmer’s glue. ImageImage
  6. If you have a pastry bag on hand, you may want to use it for your glaze. It certainly makes decorating a whole lot easier and definitely less messy. Squeeze the glaze onto the tops of your cakes in a zigzag circular motion, then apply flowers before the glaze has a chance to set. ImageImageImageImage

 

I am more than elated with the way these turned out. Like I said earlier, I cannot wait to decorate more with edible flowers. This recipe also proves that sweet potato is flavor that can and should be used year round! It is always nice when a vision becomes a reality, in this case the purple and orange color combination.ImageImageImageImage

 

I hope you all had a lovely weekend and a pleasant Monday! Talk to ya later, babycakes!

The Best Pie Dough for the Best Pie Crust

Until recently I used to pretend like I was Martha Stewart when working away in the kitchen. These days, I find myself relating more and more to Paula Haney. While she may not be the queen of arts & crafts, the woman sure as hell knows how to make a pie! I bought Haney’s cookbook as an early birthday gift to myself and have since gone pie crazy. Off the deep end into a wonderful land of butter, butter, and more butter, plus some flour. And don’t you dare let your brain start along the path of Paula Deen.

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I love this cookbook because it tells Haney’s story. Almost every recipe is accompanied by an anecdote about either her family way way back or something that happened in the shop. It’s very personal, and that Midwestern hospitality (it’s a real thing, y’all) is evident in her writing. The recipes are also very easy to follow, which is good for professional and novice bakers alike. She begins her recipes for pie dough with a warning: making good pie dough is hard. I made a perfectly poached egg on the first try. I was up for the challenge.

The Hoosier Mama’s All-Butter Pie Dough

To start things off on a good note, I absolutely loved making this dough. Honestly, I love making all kinds of dough, and the process for this crust was actually fairly similar to the one I used for my empanadas. (Would ya look at how much my blog has improved!!!) The key here is keeping things “chill”. My kitchen does not come equipped with a food processor, but fortunately for me, I have what they call pie maker hands! This means that my hands are cold. Actually, honestly, my hands are not cold during the summer months (June-September for Texas) so this is a half truth. Anyway. I had to mix the dough by hand for this recipe because I lack a food processor. I am totally alright with this though. My grandma and her mother and even her grandmother did not use a food processor, and pie has a long long history. What the hell, a dough blender and 10 fingers work just the same!

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Before I begin relaying the recipe to you, please note that a good pie crust takes time. The dough must rest in order to be its best! The same goes for me!

Ingredients

1 3/4 sticks unsalted butter, divided

1 tbs red wine vinegar

1/2 cup very cold water

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour

2 1/4 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tbs granulated sugar

The Process

1. After cutting into cubes, freeze 5 tbs of your butter for any amount of time between 20 minutes and overnight. I went with an hour. Chill the remaining 1 1/8 sticks until ready to use.

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2. Stir the red wine vinegar and water together and set aside as well.

3. In a large bowl, combine your dry ingredients.

4. After your declared amount of freeze time, add the CHILLED butter to the dry mixture first. Work the butter into the flour with either your hands or a dough blender (or both!) until it resembles a coarse meal. Image

5. Next, add the frozen butter. Cut into the dough until the frozen pieces are pea sized. These pieces will eventually turn into butter pockets, making the crust ever so flaky, delicious, and, well, buttery!

6. Add 6 tbs of the chilled vinegar water to the dough and mix together with your hands. If the dough holds together in your hand after squeezing a small amount, you are good to go. If not, add more vinegar water to the mixture, little by little.

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7. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough together until smooth. Divide the dough into two equal parts and roll each into a ball. You can then lightly flatten them and wrap in plastic wrap. From here they must rest in the refrigerator, preferable overnight.

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8. After an extended period of time in the refrigerator, your dough will be ready to work with. Dust your work surface and a rolling pin liberally with flour.

9. Place your chilled dough onto your surface and partially flatten with the heel of your hand. To get the dough even flatter, beat with a rolling pin. This was a fun process! Image

10. Now you can begin rolling out your dough. Dust your pin and even part the dough with flour and make long strokes out from the center making sure the dough does not stick to the surface along the way. The final product should be about 1/8 inch thick. Image

11. Cut a 14 inch wide circle out of the dough. I guestimated with a dinner plate! Image

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12. Softly settle the dough circle into a greased and floured 9 inch pie plate. You may have to tap the plate ever so gently on the table until it settles. Then, lightly press the dough into the corners of the pie plate.

13. If you are continuing on to make a single crust pie, begin the crimp process by folding the dough edges under. Work the edges in opposite directions, squeezing little points on the outer top of the pie plate. This did take a while to get the hang of. My later pies looked much better, and they all tasted equally amazing! ImageImageImageImageImage

As you can see, I have definitely gotten better with practice!

Since purchasing this book, I have made 6 pies. Some were recipes straight from the Hoosier Mama, while others mere varieties. Each one has tasted delicious. I documented the process for a buttermilk pie (along with chocolate and berry variations) that will knock your socks off. Expect many recipes in the coming days, weeks, and months!

With a different work schedule and school back in session, life is a bit more hectic. But, I can always make time for pie! And so begins a new love affair!

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!

Black and Blue Banana Bread Bunt

Whooooa, talk about alliteration! I think my I will credit my baking/cooking inspiration over the next week to my upcoming move. I want to quickly but surely get rid of a lot of the items in my freezer, fridge, and pantry. I hate wasting food, so expect some creativity with my upcoming recipes! Kamikaze pastas dishes, probably a few more tarts, and quinoa salads/stuffed peppers galore! Oh yeah, and more than likely a tilapia overload.

Today’s post is brought to you by all the fruit I had stashed in my freezer! If I know something is going to go bad, I normally stick it in the freezer as a last change of saving grace. I had a plethora of blue and blackberries as well as a few bananas, and wanted to try subbing coconut oil for butter.

By now you should know I am a fan of subbing things. In this particular instance, I subbed butter with coconut oil and buttermilk with Greek yogurt (that one was a given). This batter. Oh my Lawwwwwwwd! I could have eaten this batter straight up in a mug. If it were not for the raw eggs, there may not have been enough for my bunt pan.

Black and blue normally makes me think of bruises, not berries. I added these little pops of color for the sole purpose of getting rid of them. Turns out they added to the sweetness and alliteration!

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Ingredients

2 eggs

1/2 coconut oil, slightly melted

1 tbs 2% milk

1/3 cup Greek yogurt

1 1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 tbs vanilla

2 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp nutmeg

a dash of cinnamon

a pinch of salt

4 rip bananas, mashed (I used frozen)

1 cup frozen black and blueberries (totally optional, nuts would also be a nice sub)

1 tbs large sugar sprinkles (optional)

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The Process

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together your eggs, coconut oil, milk,  Greek yogurt, sugars, and vanilla. ImageImageImage
  3. In a separate bowl, combine your flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt. Incorporate your dry ingredients into your batter. Be sure to not beat the two together. Incorporating evenly distributes all ingredients and will make the final product lighter and less tough. ImageImage
  4. Stir in your mashed bananas and your frozen fruit. ImageImageImage
  5. As a final touch, I stirred in about 1 tbs of large sugar sprinkle. Just something extra! Image
  6. Pour your finished batter into a greased pan. I used a bunt. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour at 350 degrees until an inserted toothpick or butter knife comes out mostly clean. ImageImageImageImage
  7. Once finished baking, let your bread cool for about 20 minutes before flipping out of your bunt pan. Image See ya on the flipside! Image

I think I can honestly say this is the best banana bread I have ever made, Is credit due to using coconut oil instead? Or do I owe it all to using Greek yogurt in everything? Who knows! This was some damn good bread! I can’t wait to enjoy it for breakfast tomorrow!

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Ah, the joy of baking. Hope you all had a lovely Monday!

Chorizo & Cheddar Pupusas

Pupusa is such a cute little word! I was actually reading up on the history of the popular Salvadoran dish and found out that after a civil war in the country, many of Salvadorans migrated to the U.S. One popular migration destination in particular was San Antonio! History Lesson! Although I have never been to one, there are now many pupusarias in San Antonio!

Actually, the first time I had a pupusa was a few weeks ago at Gloria’s in Dallas. Filled with pork and cheese, I thought to myself, ‘I could totally make these!’ After looking up some recipes I decided to embark on a culinary adventure a little bit farther south of the border.

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Traditionally, the insides of a pupusa consist of pork, queso blanco, and sometimes refried beans. In tonight’s version, I used beef chorizo, black beans, and cheddar cheese.

Ingredients

prepared masa mix, about 3 cups worth

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 tube all beef chorizo

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The Process

  1. In a nonstick skillet, mix chorizo and black beans. Cook until done. Drain any grease and transfer to a bowl.Image
  2. Grate cheddar cheese into a bowl. Roll masa mix into golf sized balls.Image
  3. Using my same method for making corn tortillas, roll out two circles between a freezer sized Ziplock bag. Image
  4. Place a spoonful of chorizo and black beans in the center of the ‘tortilla’ and top with shredded cheese. Put the other ‘tortilla’ on top and seal with your fingers. Put the pupusa back between the plastic bag and lightly flatten with a rolling pin.ImageImageImage
  5.  Cook in an iron skillet for about 2 minutes on both sides until golden brownish. ImageImage

Traditionally pupusas are also served with a slaw called curtido. Unfortunately I did not have time to make any. Another unfortunately, these definitely were not as good as the pupusas from Gloria’s, but it was my first time making them. Always time to improve! I think for now I will just stick to Tex Mex cuisine,

Blackberry & Lemon Cream Napoleons

My current roommate’s future roommate is opening a coffee shop/bakery in the future. Haha, try saying that five times fast! She is looking for a baker, and while I wholeheartedly wish I could take the position, it is only part time. Unfortunately anything part-time will not cover my bills, even with me living the Denton lifestyle. I have had pastries on the mind ever since! Last night I dreamed of making eclairs!

A coworker and I were talking about desserts last week and she told me that Napoleons were her favorite. Being the Francophile that I am, I immediately began looking up recipes. Did you know that I was only 6 credits short from being a French major? Oh la la la la la! Oui! C’est vrai!

I let the summer season dictate the direction I would take with this recipe, coming up with blackberries and lemons. I just love the combination! Image

Once again I used store bought puff pastry dough. One of these weekends I will make it myself from scratch, but during the week ain’t nobody got time fo dat!

Ingredients

1 sheet puff pastry dough, thawed

1 tbs butter, melted

1/2 cup blackberries, halved then put in freezer to keep stiff

1 cup powdered sugar for dusting

1 cup heavy whipping cream

2 1/2 tbs granulated sugar

1 tbs fresh lemon juice

1 tsp vanilla

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The Process

Have you ever made whipped cream from scratch? I do it all the time if I have the time. It tastes so much better than that crap in an aerosol can, let me tell ya! It is also a wonderful arm workout! I may or may not have used an electric mixer this time around. I’ll never tell and you’ll never know!

  1. While your pastry dough is thawing, whisk together the 1 tbs of freshly squeezed lemon juice with your vanilla. Add your heavy whipping cream and beat it, just beat it until it becomes noticeably thicker (right before peaks start to form). Add your granulated sugar and continue to beat until firm, resembling whipped cream. put in the freezer until ready for use. ImageImageImageImage
  2. By this time, your puff pastry dough should be defrosted. Using a pizza cutter, cut along the seams to make three long rectangles. Cut these rectangles down the middle, vertically. If we were in elementary school, I think it would be hamburger?Image
  3. Take your blackberries out of the freezer and slice each one in half lengthwise. I put them in the freezer to keep them from berry bleeding all over the place. Image
  4. Melt your tbs of butter in a small cup and lightly brush each rectangle of puff pastry dough with it. Image
  5. Place between 7 and 10 blackberry halves in the center of each buttered rectangle and dust with powdered sugar. The sugar helps almost caramelize the berries while baking! Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. ImageImageImage
  6. When finished baking, remove from oven and let cool for about 2 minutes. Then, give all of your rectangles a good dusting with powdered sugar. Let cool for about 15-20 more minutes.ImageImageImage
  7. Once your dough is completely cooled, you may begin layering. Fruit pastry, whipped cream, fruit pastry, whipped cream, pastry topping, a thin lemon slice, and one last dusting of powdered sugar.ImageImageImageImage

If not serving right away, chill immediately. Side note: I think my whip cream malfunctioned a little bit, or maybe my dough was not completely cooled. Either way, it still tasted wonderful! Next time I will be sure to have some white chocolate on hand. Wouldn’t that be delightful drizzled on top?

Another side note: Sunday is Bastille Day! Maybe I can make it to the festivities in Dallas’s Bishop Arts Neighborhood.

Until then, au revoir!

Light Summer Pasta with Lemon & Shrimp

Some days, especially on Mondays, you just want to come home and relax and not do anything. This afternoon I had every intention to finish my book and watch The Office. Basically, my plans did not  involve cooking and another blog post in any way.

Hmmmm, I wonder how that plan went.  I didn’t feel like reading another chapter and I had squash calling my name. Every time I opened the fridge, it was like ‘eattttttttt meeeeeeeee!’ I also had carbs on the mind. Last week Design Love Fest posted a recipe for her light summer pasta. I took this recipe, along with all the eat me now or never produce in my fridge, and ran with it. May I present to you my version of Light Summer Pasta with Lemon & Shrimp. Easy, fresh, and satisfying

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Ingredients

1 cup Greek yogurt

1 cup shrimp, peeled and de-veined 

3 tbs ricotta cheese

1 zucchini squash, quartered

1/2 cup cherry tomatoes

1/2 cup yellow sunburst tomatoes

4 mini sweet yellow peppers, sliced

4 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup baby spinach, chopped

rainbow pasta

zest of 1/2 a lemon

juice of 1/2 a lemon

2 tbs olive oil

2 tsp basil

2 tsp sea salt

2 tsp black pepper

1 tbs Tony Chachere’s Creole seasoning 

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The Process

  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add zucchini squash, garlic, and dried basil leaves. Saute for 5 minutes. Image
  2. Next add sweet peppers, tomatoes, shrimp, lemon juice and zest,and remaining spices. Saute for 15 more minutes. ImageImageImage
  3. Bring water to a boil and cook rainbow pasta until al dente. Image
  4. While the pasta is cooking, roast veggies and shrimp in the oven for about 20 minutes. I topped with diced bacon as an alternative to prosciutto. ImageImage
  5. Finally, toss roasted veggies, Greek yogurt, baby spinach, and pasta in your saucepan. Top with freshly ground black pepper & sea salt and ricotta cheese.ImageImageImage

Cheers to an easy dinner! Cheers to another Monday come and gone!

Citrus and Spice and Everything Nice

(The everything nice being an abundance of cilantro and goat cheese.)

I judge a Mexican restaurant by three things: tortillas, guacamole, and salsa. If your restaurant strikes out on 2 out of 3 of these, chances are 98% to none, that I will no longer patronize your establishment. An example: 7 Mile Cafe in Denton. Old guacamole and marinara sauce salsa? Ummm, no thank you! They have since stepped up their freshness and salsa game, bumping them off my shit list. That sentiment is now semi-directed at Loco Cafe, but their biscuits make up for everything!

When it comes to guac, I am a total snob. I turn my nose up at that previously froze, pre-packaged crap they call avocado dip or guacamole spread. Some places, like Subway for example, disgrace the guacamole name. I may be slightly partial to their 50 cents per scoop guac because I swear it gave me food poisoning. They saying “if it’s brown flush it down” should also apply to avocados. I hate the smell and taste over an overly overly ripe avocado. <end rant>

Guacamole is one of my favorite snacks. Avocados are God’s gift to earth along with central air and <insert hot celebrity here>. Oh yeah, and they are one of those good fats! I’ll take a large avocado sprinkled with sea salt over a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked any day as long as I’m not PMSing!

That being said, guac makes for a pretty healthy snack. Something I can throw together in under 30 minutes time. Damn, I can make amazing guacamole faster than I can run a mile? (Sad but quite possibly true. I need to work on that!)

Here is my recipe! I love garlic more than vampire hunters!

Ingredients

2 large, ripe avocados

4 garlic cloves, diced

1/2 yellow or purple onion, diced

1 jalapeno, diced (seed if you don’t like spice)

a handful of cilantro but more than that would not hurt

the juice of half a large lemon

1/2 tsp ground cumin

sea salt, black pepper, and chipotle powder to taste

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The Process

  1. Deseed avocados and empty the flesh into a large bowl. I like to use the knife method, just make sure your aim is right!ImageImage
  2. Chop and dice garlic, onion, jalapeno, and cilantro. Add to bowl along with stated spices.ImageImageImage
  3. Mash together really well with a fork. Oh my! I think this is the most difficult recipe I have yet to post on my blog!Image

If you like your guac a bit creamier, I suggest adding a tbs of Greek yogurt. I am personally not a fan of tomatoes in my guac either. On top is whole different story!ImageImage

The tangyness of goat cheese accompanied with the smokey chipotle in the guac tast amazing together. Out of tortilla chips, I opted for the sea salt, dill, and olive oil Triscuits. Best decision of the day (besides this blog post).ImageImage

Tomorrow is the 4th of July! I hope you all have a very happy and safe holiday!