Salad with Tuna and Fennel

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This was a my quick lunch a couple of weeks ago. It’s another salad that was part of my cookbook, but mostly magazine, challenge and something I would never think to make on my own. I actually got my ingredients a little confused when I put this together, but it all worked out okay. The recipe uses oranges rather than grapefruit, which I think would be a lot better even though I love grapefruit more than oranges. I’m also not too sure how I feel about fennel…I’ll be honest and tell you that I didn’t eat all of the fennel on my plate. Something about it was just weird to me. I’ve had it chopped up in smaller pieces in salad before and really liked it though! On the more positive side, I can’t believe I never realized how good tuna and avocado are together! I’m embarrassed. So tasty! Next time, oranges! And I’ll try cutting up the fennel. And maybe not roasting it? Or maybe just ditch it? How do you feel about fennel??

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Mint Cherry Limeade

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First off, I must make a blogger confession…I don’t own any mason jars. Yes, we all know that the top three things that all bloggers must have are 1. a decent camera 2. too much time on their hands and 3. mason jars. I made due with these just as cute (maybe?) soda glasses that we got last summer and have barely used! For some reason we have all these cute ice cream and drink glasses, but we rarely drink alcohol and are typically too lazy to actually scoop the ice cream out of the carton before eating (Ok, that might just be me). Anyway, it’s summer now, so I’ve really been in the mood to make some fancy, fruity drinks! I was going over my grocery list on the way to the store and quickly decided that if I grabbed a whole bunch of limes I could probably fashion some sort of tasty drink. I knew we already had mint and like five cans of tonic water in the fridge and plus I had cherries on the list for a breakfast recipe. Sweet!

Instructions: First step is to make a quick simple syrup – I did 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water. Then add the juice of 3 or 4 limes, depending on how tart you want it. Then I smashed a handful of cherries and strained the juice into the mixture. Fill your glass up about halfway with the juice and then fill the rest with whatever fizzy stuff you got. I had tonic water, so that’s what I used. Then you must add some extra halved cherries because they taste sooo yummy after they’ve been floating around in the drink for a while! The mint is a great touch, but that’s up to you as well! Feel free to sweeten with more sugar if needed. This made enough for 4 drinks.

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Tip: We had some extra soda left so I soaked some cherries in the fridge, which made a really nice snack for later!

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Puff Pastry Pizza

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According to Paul, this is one of the best things I’ve ever made. It’s hard for me to make such bold statements about my own cooking, but this is one dish that I have consistently craved since I made it. Just like my last puff pastry post (which, funnily enough, Paul also declared as one of my best meals), this pizza was totally improvised using what we already had. Luckily, the combination of toppings worked out so perfectly. With frozen dough, this meal couldn’t be more simple to put together. Puff pastry pizza is such a great thing to have in your repertoire of quick, weeknight, throw together meals.

To make sure the pastry gets crispy, pre-bake until it’s ‘set,’ but not browned all the way. For this pizza in particular, I like it best when it’s crisp, but still a little soft and chewy in the middle. It’s up to you though! Char that thing up if that’s what you’re feelin’! After I pre-baked the crust, I spread some pre-made pesto and then topped it with salami, green olives, caramelized onions, mozzarella, and sage. Ok, and I threw in some extra garlic too. So easy, and seriously delicious. I really, really recommend this combination of toppings, but I can imagine so many other great combos too. Let me know if you have any topping loves/suggestions!

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Cookbook Challenge – Cucumber Dill Salad

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The cookbook/magazine challenge is still doing strange things to my recipe selection. I don’t want to say that I’m not a salad person, because I do enjoy a nice big salad sometimes…but I can’t say that it’s normal for me to flip through a magazine and be drawn to so many salad recipes. Simple ones too! Since I don’t make salad very often, I really like making my own small batches of dressing when the impulse hits. It’s way easier than you might think and it’s pretty sweet that you can make a tasty dressing with only a few ingredients rather than the loads of complicated things that are listed on a bottle. This salad was very fresh with nice crunch and paired well with my…oh.so.sophisticated mac & cheese bites. Heh, kind of cut down on the classy, healthy thing didn’t I? I tend to do that. Paul bought us the Trader Joe’s mac & cheese bites so that I would have something quick to eat when I returned from my Colorado trip. They were good! Try both, I say!

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Crispy & Lemony Salad (From Martha Stewart Everyday Food March 2013)

1 head romain, chopped

1/4 cup dill sprigs

1 english cucumber

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Combine the salad ingredients in one bowl. Whisk together dressing ingredients in another; season. Drizzle over salad and toss. Top with cracked black pepper. Serves 4.

Country Fried Steak + Gravy

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Deciding between country fried steak and french toast is always a huge dilemma when I go to a diner. Ultra savory or ultra sweet? I love both, so it depends on the place and my mood, I guess. It took some time for me to find cube steak, but I wanted to do it right no matter how impatient it made me! I asked my mom for advice before I attempted this and she said it’s easy, but it never seems to be as good as the diner. She suggested that Pioneer Woman would probably have a perfect recipe, and duh! She was correct! Definietly satisfied our diner meal craving.

But, really why should we have to choose between country fried steak and french toast? When you cook at home, you don’t really have to…steak for dinner and french toast for breakfast! Yep, that’s what I did – check out this post for those pics!

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Egg Salad Appetizer Night

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Appetizer night is probably my all time favorite way to eat. I was prompted to make egg salad sandwiches after Paul and I shared one from a convenience store…it was terrible. We were in a rush! Maybe it’s not fair to say it was disgusting because it didn’t really taste like anything. It was like eating a sponge. Anyway, I promised Paul that I would make some awesome egg salad (mostly because he wasn’t as disgusted by it as I was and I needed to prove that I could do better). We saw a picture of a really delicious looking open-faced egg salad sandwich only to scroll down and realize that it was made from fake eggs…sorry, not really our thing. I copied the look, but used real eggs and added stuff that sounded good to make it more ‘gourmet’. I did a basic (chunky) egg salad recipe with some lemon, chopped mint, paprika, plus a little cayenne, I think. Ah, so simple, but so much better! We cut up a baguette and created a spread of egg salad, burrata, tomatoes, and avocado. We were two happy eaters!

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Yes, It’s Kale

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Are you sick of hearing about kale yet? Yeah, me too, but I had to try out the craze. It seems like everyone is always completely surprised that they end up enjoying raw kale. Needless to say, I was skeptical and thought wow, this stuff must taste really weird. Turns out, it doesn’t taste weird at all. It tastes like leafy broccoli to me, and I love broccoli. I can’t say that I’ve purchased a bundle of kale since I made these chips, but I’m certainly not scared of it anymore.

These kale chips actually were really tasty. I tried out three flavors to make this experiment more interesting: sesame oil, soy sauce, and plain olive oil with sea salt. I liked all of the flavors, but be really careful about adding salt. See, I tossed my whole tray with olive oil and salt before I decided to break them up into three groups. Sooo, my soy sauce chips were mega salty! Valuable lessons in this post: 1. don’t over salt your kale chips and 2. don’t be scared of kale because it just tastes like broccoli…really leafy broccoli that kind of gets stuck in your throat…do you think it tastes like broccoli, or am I the crazy one??

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Quinoa Two Ways

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Ok, so I’m not really that into quinoa. And these are pretty much my only two quinoa recipes. But, they are really good and I’ve been making them for years. I was inspired by a Southwestern style quinoa salad that my mom and I picked up randomly at Whole Foods once. It was surprisingly enjoyable so we decided to recreate it for our work lunches. Quinoa salad makes a great to-go lunch because it’s filling, flavorful, and doesn’t even need to be heated up. Plus, there are tons of ways to switch up the recipes to get some variety in your daily brown bag.

There are two variations that I tend to stick to: Southwest and Mediterranean. When I have the urge to make these for the work week, I usually make one big batch of quinoa and then divide it in two containers. That way I can make both flavors at once and alternate throughout the week. Once you’ve made the quinoa, the rest is just tossing in veggies and seasonings. There’s not really a recipe, but I’ll list the combinations I use below. One big tip though: the last time I made these I added taco seasoning to the Southwest salad, which is now a must! Gives it a nice kick and ties the theme all together. Let me know if you have any quinoa combos that I should try! We have way too much of it in the pantry and it would be nice to switch things up a bit!

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Mediterranean: cucumber, tomato, lemon juice, feta, salt and pepper. I can’t remember the exact herbs/seasoning I used, but I think I kept it simple! I had a little extra steak and avocado from the Southwest salad, so I threw it in here too.

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Southwest: corn, black beans, tomato, avocado, taco seasoning, lime juice. Perfect lunch!

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Cookbook Challenge – Prosciutto Wrapped Chicken

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This is the best chicken I’ve ever made. Third time really is the charm because I’m pretty sure this was my third time roasting a whole chicken. I used yet another Martha Stewart recipe and I am so in love with it. It’s not going to be a weekly staple or anything, but I know it will be a great recipe to have in my back pocket for special occasions. I also don’t know if I’ll ever roast a chicken whole again after trying the butterfly, or spatchcock, method. It was a little tricky (and gross) at first, but in the end it’s so much easier. It cooks faster and it makes carving a cinch.

Once you’ve butterflied the chicken, it’s pretty simple to throw together. Apple, fennel, and leek get tossed into the pan with olive oil and salt and pepper. Then you cover your seasoned chicken with sage and prosciutto! Woo! My chicken cooked for about an hour (in my kind of crappy oven) and came out crispy, flavorful, and moist. Really moist. It was perfect and I was proud. Paul and I both absolutely loved it. I highly recommend this recipe! The prosciutto skin is so good – I feel like maybe it’s part of what helped the chicken stay so moist? Just a guess. In any case, it’s just plain good and you should try it. Recipe can be found here!

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Cookbook Challenge – Peach Cake Dippers

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The thing I have been loving most about this cookbook/magazine challenge is trying new things that I never pick when I’m exclusively googling. I’m realizing how much I stay inside the (recipe) box when I google as I go. Flipping through books and magazines has opened my eyes to lots of ideas that I wouldn’t have thought of on my own. Now, this recipe isn’t so out there. I’ve made a couple of fruity cake/bread type desserts on the blog already. I was slightly surprised by how much I needed to make this though because I’m not usually drawn to cinnamon topped desserts (ugh, another weird, unreasonable food preference). In fact, when I took my first sneaky sample I seriously considered leaving out the cinnamon topping because I already liked the taste so much. I talked myself into sticking with the recipe though and am really glad I did. It’s so much tastier with cinnamon!

By the way, the recipe is for a full sized bundt cake, but sadly I don’t have a bundt pan at the moment. It’s ok though – I love when I have a reason to use this cute pan that reminds me of mini sand castles! The peaches and cream bundt recipe can be found here. I halved the recipe, which gave me enough for 30 mini cakes and one mini loaf. Dipping them in whipped topping was really fun and I think would be great for a party! It’s kind of like fondu. You gotta give these a try. They are incredibly light and moist with a nice hint of peach. The cinnamon and whipped topping is a must – it makes it takes like peach pie…in cake form! Yum!

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