Summery Gazpacho Soup

the lone tomato...

the lone tomato…

It’s (still) summer even though I’m already doing what hubs calls “forcing fall” – wearing long sleeves, jackets and sweaters before it’s truly cold enough outside to do so. I love beginning of  the fall season, the first time you see your breath in the morning, first frost on the grass, until finally, the smell of the first snow is in the air. Fall is great but winter is my absolute favorite season.  I feel alive and energized when it’s bone-chillingly cold outside. Most people who live in TN moved here to escape winter. Not me! I miss winter and it doesn’t matter what age, 4, 10, 21, or 41, I still feel giddy when I wake up to a quiet blanket of snow covering everything.  Nothing makes me happier than hearing the squeak of fresh snow underfoot… I can’t wait to play in the snow with Baby P this winter!

P's first fleece and toque

P’s first fleece and toque – ready to GO

But I digress, this post is supposed to be about summery gazpacho soup because, guess what!? We produced ONE TOMATO from three plants this year. Sad, but true.  I suppose we’ve been too busy baby rearing to care much about tomato plants.  The latest with Baby P?  We like to encourage him try to “eat” cheerios (read: throw on the floor) and we’ve also been putting toys just out of reach then watching him belly crawl/scoot towards them.  He provides us with endless hours of entertainment and fun! Continue reading

Sherbet in Grapefruit Cups

mmmm, rainbow sherbet

mmmm, rainbow sherbet

It’s that time of Tennessee summer for me.  That “I-won’t-blow-dry-my-hair-anymore-because-it’s-too-dang-hot-outside” time of summer.  Jeans have been retired to the back corner of my closet.  My hair has permanent ponytail kink because again, it’s just too dang hot to have hair on your neck.  It’s so swelteringly humid it makes me not want to cook anything.  In fact, we had our first friends over for an evening dinner post-preganancy last night and except for the 10 minute kebabs on the grill, I non-cooked dinner and served a brilliant salad smorgasbord! If you are looking to non-cook some things like me, this is a very fancy-looking, impressive yet easy dessert to make.  It popped up on my social media feed from Bon Appétit a few weeks ago and I’ve been thinking about it ever since; sherbet in grapefruit cups.

side view of non-cook dessert

side view of non-cook dessert

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Chocolate Dipped Sugar Cones

mmmmmm chocolatey

mmmmmm chocolatey

You know how everyone always puts their best face forward on Facebook and Instagram? No one (well, except one person I follow) ever seems to have a bad day and everyone’s families, spouses, children and pets appear cheery, clean, and (for the most part) perfectly lit while loving life in every photo. We all know life like this doesn’t exist all the time.  I type this as I’m sitting here at the computer in my pjs, without (gasp) makeup and it’s almost 3PM! I’m 3 blog posts behind because I can’t seem to find the time to write them up. The photos are created and processed, taken in the moment (thank goodness) but the posts still need to be written.   CDSC-3 Continue reading

Salmon en Croute

prettiest salmon you'll ever make at home!

prettiest salmon you’ll ever make at home!

One of my favorite long-ago-cancelled-but still-running cooking shows is French Food at Home, featuring Laura Calder. Laura makes cooking French food seem like a snap and this most impressive looking salmon recipe is one of the best testaments to easy, yet snappy-looking, French fare. Your guests will think you’ve slaved for hours when, in fact, once you get this recipe down, you can make it all happen in under an hour. “En croute” simply means to wrap something in pastry. Beef Wellington would be an “en croute” recipe, too.  Puff pastry is awesome because you buy it in the freezer section, let it thaw in your fridge, and POOF (puff?) you have an instantly perfect flaky package for your salmon parcel. And let’s be honest, everything tastes better wrapped in puff pastry. You’ll have to follow a few steps but none of them are too difficult or labor intensive.  Let’s get started… Continue reading

World Gin Day

yummy

yummy

My family informed me that today is World Gin Day. Apparently we have “days” for everything now-a-days but I think it’s just another excuse to drink more gin…. So while they are all drinking gin and tonics lakeside in Michigan without me, here’s to Gin and Tonic Day, and here’s to my crazy family!

I like my G ‘n T with Hendrick’s Gin and cucumbers – just like Prince Charles.  Hey, if it’s good enough for royalty, it’s good enough for me!

Photo Credit: PA

Photo Credit: PA

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Grilled Chicken Kebabs

I wish I could send the smell-o-vision this chicken to you through the internet!

I wish I could send the smell-o-vision this chicken to you through the internet!

This is my new favorite summer grilling recipe. These kebabs are SO GOOD they will even impress a Persian father-in-law (and I would hazard a guess that he’s eaten a few kebabs in his day)! I made a happy mistake and let the chicken marinate for two solid days in the fridge.

onion peels in-between chicken cubes are optional but delicious

onion peels in-between chicken cubes are optional but delicious

Seriously, the two-day marinate is the trick and the recipe is so simple – I guarantee the hardest part is cutting up the chicken. Continue reading

Watermelon Agua Fresca

trust me: you want this.

trust me: you want to drink this.

I’ve written it before and I’ll write it again, my favorite Mexican restaurant in Nashville is Mas Tacos Por Favor.  I bucked up last week and waited 30 minutes in the roast pork scented lunch line (worth it) for my carnitas tacos and tortilla soup and found them serving up a special summer treat: watermelon agua fresca.  OMG, why aren’t we consuming watermelon in drink form every day!?!? It’s so delicious and refreshing!

watermelon + limes + mint = happy belly

watermelon + limes + mint = happy belly

The best part?  It’s super easy to make for yourself at home, which is great because blending a drink is the most complex recipe development I can manage at the moment.  I’d write more and try to be wittier but I’m just too dang tired from all this parenting biz and lack of sleep.  In the past month we’ve been through the New Parental Wringer (totally a real thing). We ditched our daycare after a horrific experience and have hired an in-home nanny (originally from Scotland no less, seriously, we hired Mary freakin’ Poppins).  Birds are singing again, bluer skies are on the horizon, and my blood pressure is slowly coming down to a livable rate. So treat yourself, get out your blender, and buzz together this fresca.  You’ll be so glad you did!

yummmmmmy

yummmmmmy

Let me leave you with Bob’s Brilliant Watermelon Cutting Tips. My brother Bob shared his special watermelon cutting and storage trick with The Hubs and me, and it’s so smart, it’s not surprising that I saw Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian stealing it using it on Food Network last week. Here are the steps! Continue reading

Vanilla Cupcakes

Yummy and pretty for Mother's Day!

Yummy and pretty for Mother’s Day!

It’s my first mother’s day tomorrow and I’m psyched! Psyched for promised pancakes to be made my husband, psyched to go to my good friend’s house for homemade pizza, and psyched for my little guy finally feeling good after being sick for a week. I was ill-prepared for how gut wrenching it would be to see my wee little baby suffering from being sick. We’ve had a rough couple of weeks but things are looking up! I can’t believe Baby P is four months old today. I’m positive I’ve posted WAAAY too many photos of him on Instagram. He has commandeered my feed for sure. Food schmood, I have become one of those people who think everyone else wants to see photos of my kid. Sigh, oh well. He’s too darn cute not to share with the world!

so sweet and sleepy!

so sweet and sleepy!

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Best Quiche Ever

yummmmmmmmma

yummmmmmmmma

Why is this quiche the Best Quiche Ever? Because I’ve put all my favorite things into it, and so can you. For me it’s bacon (no-brainer), mushrooms, and gruyere cheese. That’s it. Oh and eggs and cream of course. And maybe sautéed the mushrooms in shallots too. For you, maybe it’s spinach, leeks and zucchini? Ham and Swiss? Whatever you choose to make it your Best Quiche Ever because it’s all up to you. I figure quiche comes around only a couple of times a year (like Easter and Mother’s Day – hint hint?) so you should totally go balls out when making it.

quiche with other delicious treats

quiche with other delicious treats

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Potato Dominoes

best. potato. ever.

best. potato. ever.

Francis Mallmann’s potato domino recipe elevates potatoes to something other worldly. He turns an ordinary potato into a crisp yet tender, super savory, glorious thing. It’s like eating an awesome hot potato chip with the softest insides and the crispiest outsides. Mailman’s recipe solidifies my ongoing love for the potato. Is there anything this tuber can’t deliciously morph itself into? Unless your name is Jiro Ono, you will need a mandoline slicer to make perfect potato cuts. Also, I used Yukon Gold potatoes instead of Russets. I am sure the Russet is used because it’s larger and turning it into a perfect rectangle will still leave a good sized hunk of potato per person. I did not perfectly trim my Yukon Golds, but instead left some imperfect sides and skin for a rustic (read: messy) shape and more texture. Serve this at your Easter brunch, step back, and wait for the oohs and ahhhhhs. Continue reading