When the temperatures rise over a certain degree, I switch from my regular hot mug of coffee to cold brew I make at home. I just heap ground local coffee into my French press, fill with cold water, and let it sit overnight. It is a summer treat that I look forward to every morning when Showgirl wakes me up. I rise giddy and excited knowing that I don’t have to wait the two minutes for my hot coffee to brew. It’s like I’ve gotten ahead of the game. continue reading
Food for Grownups
For me, half the fun of camping is the cooking.
Now, I’m not talking about heating up something on the stovetop or in the microwave of a motorhome or trailer. I mean real campfire cooking, out of doors and over an open flame, like the pioneers did it.
Okay, well. Maybe not quite like the pioneers. You’re not going to find any salt pork, hardtack, or squirrel on my campfire menu. As I explained in my earlier post I don’t camp, I glamp. And when I glamp, food is the star of the show.
My carefully planned and executed menus feature delicious dishes made from fresh, flavorful ingredients, served on real dishes with real silverware, a tablecloth, flowers, and candles. Think of it as rustic chic – emphasis on chic.
But the rustic part applies too. When I’m glamping, I can’t cook quite the same way I would at home. I need to make some concessions for the limitations of storage space, equipment, and refrigeration (or lack of it). That’s why, when it comes to campfire cooking, one-pot meals are definitely the way to go!
The old adage of “when it rains, it pours,” holds true when it comes to the delightfully small cherry tomato. As if by their very nature, you never just have a couple. They come in droves – either a big container from your supermarket or a bucket-full from a green thumb friend or farmer.
Wherever you get yours, this is the time of year when those tomato plants just go crazy but in a very good way! While I would be perfectly happy just snacking on them throughout the afternoon, enjoying that juicy taste of summer on my tongue, why not give these tomatoes the glory they deserve?
But what to do with them? There are just so many options…
I could make a Summer Gazpacho to enjoy now and No-Peel Tomato Sauce to freeze for later! Genius, right? I thought so. These balsamic roasted cherry tomato crostini from EasyHealth Living also caught my eye, as did this Cherry Tomato Corn Salsa from Your Homebased Mom.
But I’m still left yearning for more. I want something so spectacularly tomato-ey that takes advantage of all the ways I love tomatoes. I love them fresh and sweet with a sprinkle of salt. They’re also equally satisfying oven-roasted to supercharge their flavors.
Enough gushing about my unabashed love for tomatoes. Let’s move on to another (related) topic.
In the summer, when it’s too hot to move and too hot to cook, I like to spend as little time in the kitchen as possible. So if there’s a healthy summer salad recipe that takes all of 5 minutes to make, I’m all in. This watermelon salad has feta, arugula, lime and coconut to keep things interesting. As I was making it, I couldn’t help but think that minus the feta and arugula, it would make a really knockout summer cocktail too! Lime, coconut, watermelon – these are the tastes of summer!
Sheet pan dinners are all the rage these days. It’s easy to see why.
What cook doesn’t love a meal that requires no more cleanup than crumpling up a sheet of foil and tossing it in the trash? Especially if the resulting recipe is loaded with healthy ingredients and full of flavor?
My Sheet Pan Chicken Marbella with Garlic Rosemary Citrus Sauce fits that description to a tee. It’s a delectable, hearty, easy to prepare dinner that makes weeknight meal making a breeze but looks and tastes good enough to serve to company. In fact, I particularly like preparing this for company because once it goes into the oven I don’t have to do a thing until the last few minutes of cooking, leaving me lots of time to visit with my guests.
I love an old-fashioned hamburger as much as the next red-blooded American. The mustard, the pickles, the American cheese, the juicy goodness, the buttery bun, the familiar char in the air billowing from the grill. It reminds me of summer. And happiness. And time with family.
Side note: I’m making myself very hungry.
In the midst of my daydream about hamburger heaven, I remind myself that it is not all about the beef. Burgers aren’t the friendliest in the Weight Watchers life I’m living in right now, and while they are worth an occasional splurge, I like to bring leaner proteins into my life whenever I can.
That’s why it’s so great that burgers are delicious in all sorts of ways! In Oregon, we eat a lot of salmon burgers, homemade veggie burgers, and now that I’ve discovered this jewel, the best chicken teriyaki burger recipe has found its way into our weekly menu! I love to sneak in herbs from my garden whenever I can. Healthy, fresh, and seasonal on a bun.
What’s not to love? continue reading
A couple of weeks ago my husband and I went to a long table dinner at Rainshadow Organics, a local farm.
The long table in question stretched along a wide, shady porch with a gorgeous view of the farm. After a glass of wine and some appetizers, all the guests were given a tour of the twenty-five acres by Sarahlee, the farmer who has spent the last eleven years of her life cultivating this land.
It took me about five seconds to develop a complete girl crush on the fascinating and colorful Sarahlee who – wait for it – is married to a professional rodeo rider. No kidding! She’s an organic farmer married to a cowboy. How fabulous is that? She could have walked right off the pages of one of my novels! continue reading
In my post on Hospitality 101, I pointed out that creating a fun and memorable experience for friends and family does not require you to go all out in the food, drink, and décor department. But sometimes it’s fun to do exactly that. A dinner party I recently gave for new friends from church proves the point.
My grand darlings, all six of them, are coming to visit next week. My husband and I have worked meticulously on a fun (and very flexible!) itinerary and cannot wait to make some more memories with them. One of the reasons we moved out to Oregon was to lure their families into coming to visit us on a regular basis. It has worked so far! And how could it not? Oregon is such a beautiful place with so many fun things to do.
But what I learned last year, is that a few of these delightful little cubs aren’t very enthusiastic about any cuisine beyond macaroni and cheese or chicken nuggets. I know, I was as shocked as you are now. I’m sure some of you are smiling to yourself, thinking how your grandchildren have eaten braised leeks and roasted Brussel sprouts since they were 6 months old. That’s very impressive. Give their parents a pat on the back. continue reading
I know what you’re thinking. Granola has a zillion calories.
It’s basically what squirrels eat to fatten up for winter.
So why would I want that when I’m trying to get tankini ready?
My answer is two fold here. Stay with me on this. The following is jam-packed with juicy nuggets of wisdom we need in life.
The first reason is because life is too short. It’s too short to miss out on the joy of homemade granola. Life’s too short to cut out delicious food from your diet by drawing a hard line in the sand. It’s too short to let a squirrel’s diet dictate what we eat.
The second reason, equally important, is that everything (well, almost everything) is okay as part of your diet as long as you stick to the serving size. Granola has a smaller serving size than say, green beans. It’s also so flavorful and yummy that you don’t need a lot of it to feel the flavors and textures tap-dancing across your tongue. I find myself pairing it with protein-rich Greek yogurt or covered with fruit and milk for a power-breakfast.
From a nutritional standpoint, the oats are filled with fiber and iron and the nuts and seeds are packed with heart-healthy unsaturated fats (like Omega 3s!) and protein. A lot of granola you buy at the store will be loaded with sugar, so my recipe leans on honey to sweeten it instead of actual sugar. With the oil, it’s still pretty high in calories but I find that if I stick to a small portion, I don’t have too much explaining to do with my Weight Watchers plan.
Embracing the Crunch with Easy Homemade Granola
Granola is one of those things that all of my friends assume I make all the time since I moved to Oregon, the land of the sustainably grown, the Birkenstocks, the Subarus, and all things crunchy.
While I fully embrace the stereotypes of my new home, I truthfully don’t get around to making granola as much as I should. I don’t home brew Kombucha or grow my own food either. I just don’t have time. But on occasion, I’ll summon up the concentration in an afternoon while I’m writing to toast oats and nuts and coconut flakes, the base of my super-charged granola. If you are easily distracted like I am, it’s best to use a loud timer to remind you to toss the oats as they roast. It’s so easy to burn it and I’ve done that more times than I care to share.
But once the base of the granola is roasted, toasted, and aromatic, I’ll add dried fruit (like the dehydrated strawberries I have on hand in my prepared pantry) and other ingredients I keep in my pantry like like chia or cashews or vanilla. Then the pure crunchy magic happens.
My house smells amazing. My neighbors usually reap the benefits over the over-sized batch, and I’m happily snacking away as I get back to work on my book.
So have I talked you into it?
Let’s jump to the good part.
Here’s how to make my super-customizable, use-whatever-you-have-in-your-pantry, easy homemade granola.