Last Sunday, Korena and Ian came over to celebrate the arrival of spring in Texas with a backyard barbecue. James used his Big Green Egg grill to smoke some heavenly ribs while I whipped up some icy margaritas for cocktail hour. Korena brought a yummy potato salad studded with poblano peppers and corn and, as a starter, an asparagus tart from our mutually favorite cookbook, The Forest Feast. The appetizer was beyond delicious. The asparagus was tender and the capers, pine nuts, herbs, and garlic packed such a flavorful punch. Korena used goat cheese instead of the recommended brie as the base of the tart and it added the perfect hint of decadency. Find the recipe here and if you try it out, let me know if you enjoyed it as much as we did. It would pair perfectly with a cold glass of rosé and a salad full of spring produce. And check out these gorgeous photos that Korena snapped during our barbecue and posted on her blog - aren't they beautiful? (Sneak a peek at more of her pretty pictures here.)
One of my favorite birthday presents was a beautiful copy of The Forest Feast, a cookbook that features deliciously easy vegetarian recipes, all of which are accompanied by whimsical watercolor illustrations and gorgeous photographs. The book itself was so lovely to receive, so pretty, in fact, that it was easy to leave propped up in a prominent place in our kitchen…and then left untouched. Until yesterday, when I realized what a travesty it was to leave the gorgeous book on the counter by its lonesome and proceeded to read the entire thing cover to cover, earmarking each delicious recipe that I want to try (essentially all of them). Everything looks so mouthwateringly-delicious, and each recipe contains just a few uncomplicated steps, illustrated brilliantly and clearly, which is perfect for visual learners like myself. Nearly every recipe contains basic ingredients that are typically on hand, paired with a few items from the produce section. It's the perfect cookbook. Coincidentally, Korena got the cookbook for a gift, too, so for the past 24 hours, we've been sending each other a flurry of text messages about the treats we want to try. I gave the Red Roasted Vegetables a whirl last night (using asparagus and tomatoes instead of carrots), and they were delicious - the cinnamon added such an unexpected kick. Korena raved about the Corn & Cauliflower Tacos, which I can't wait to cook next, and tonight she made the Butternut Caprese, which looks unreal.
Photos via The Forest Feast
Kyla, Laura, and I had a blast at Kyla's parents' house in Fort Worth this weekend. We invited ourselves over for a slumber party and were treated like the back home ballers that we envision ourselves to be. Kyla's parents, Denise and Kyle, are so much fun to be around, and Denise is an insanely talented cook to boot (she used to manage her own catering company). She made a delicious dinner of chicken scallopini, a simple green salad, and individual berry crumbles a la mode. Before dinner, we made Denise's bruschetta recipe, which we had all unanimously requested because it is so seriously delicious (especially when paired with a lovely glass of wine and your jammies). Though bruschetta is typically reserved for the summertime when tomatoes are in season, I find it delectable all year round. There's something comforting about enjoying a warm slice of tomato-topped bread with salty parmesan cheese and just a hint of sweetness. While I admittedly haven't tried many bruschetta recipes, I think I have a good reason: Denise's recipe is so perfect that I don't want to try anyone else's. Bruschetta
Recipe via Denise Kiser
- Olive oil, heavy splash
- 1 shallot, minced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 8 roma tomatoes, diced
- Balsamic vinegar, heavy splash
- Brown sugar, heavy pinch
- Salt & pepper
- 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
- Grated parmesan for topping
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly brush baguette slices with olive oil on both sides and bake until crisp.
- Heat a heavy splash of olive oil in a skillet. Add the minced shallot and stir until coated in oil, then turn down the heat to medium.
- Add the garlic and stir continuously, ensuring that the garlic doesn't burn.
- Add in the diced tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, and salt & pepper. Stir everything together to ensure that the ingredients are mixed well.
- Take the mixture off heat and stir in the fresh basil.
- Top baguette slices with tomato mixture and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese.
Whew, it's hard to get back into the swing of things after Christmas, isn't it? Especially when New Year's Eve lurks just around the corner. James and I spent Christmas at the ranch with his parents, siblings, aunt, nieces, and nephew (12 of us in total!), and we had an absolute blast. Our five days in Cross Plains were filled with lots of runs and walks on long dirt roads, snuggles with our 11-month old niece, playtime with all of the ranch puppies (Callie included!), many stolen naps, several game nights (have you ever played Telephone Pictionary? holy fun!), a triple date with James's sisters and their husbands, and, of course, plenty of delicious food. We celebrated my birthday on Saturday and I got to pick out the menu, so I chose some of my favorite dishes from James's mom's repertoire - breaded pork chops, mashed potatoes with white gravy, beet & citrus salad, and spiced green apples. For dessert we had another one of my favorites, the rhubarb-strawberry crisp that James's mom served at our rehearsal lunch. It was heavenly! When we got home, James tended to some chores around the house (namely taking down the Christmas tree, le sigh) while I tossed in a load of dusty laundry and got to work on a super basic pumpkin chili that Becca passed my way. I tweaked the recipe slightly, adding in some grass-fed ground beef from the ranch as well as our favorite ranch-style beans. Don't get turned off by the idea that there's pumpkin in the chili - it just adds a good richness, no sweetness (as long as you don't mistakenly buy pumpkin pie filling!). The cumin and chili powder in this dish are the stand-out flavors, and I love them. You can use any kind of beans that you like. I think this would be delicious served alongside some cornbread and topped with green onions and sour cream.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 pound ground beef
- 1 can pumpkin puree
- 2 cans Rotel tomatoes with diced chiles
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 can black beans
- 1 can garbanzo beans
- 1 can ranch-style beans with jalapeños
- 1 tablespoon cumin powder
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- Salt & pepper
- Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Season beef with whatever you like - we prefer onion powder, hot salt, and pepper. Place ground beef in the skillet and cook until brown.
- In a large pot or second skillet, cook chopped onion and minced garlic in remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil for about 5 minutes on medium heat until soft.
- Add pumpkin, canned tomatoes & chiles, vegetable broth, black beans, garbanzo beans, and ranch-style beans. Add ground beef.
- Add half the cumin and half the chili powder, stir everything well, and season with salt and pepper. Taste your chili and season if needed. If desired (and yes, we do desire it!), add the remaining cumin and chili powder.
- Bring to a boil. Make sure to stir all ingredients together well to combine flavors and spices. Reduce to simmer and cook for 20 minutes longer.
- Top with green onions and sour cream and serve with cornbread.
Since we're in the height of the holiday season, our calendars filled with parties and treats and goodness galore, I'm seeking some balance as I plan out my meals, especially as I chart out my workday lunches. To counter all of the delicious holiday treats that I'm consuming (and loving), I've been guzzling green juice and noshing on lots of fresh salads, ensuring that I'm still absorbing loads of good nutrients. I've come up with a leafy concoction that mirrors a salad that Korena makes every year for the harvest, and, as a result, there are very few exact calculations for the amount of each ingredient required. So I'd just use however much of each item that fits your palette best. I love this salad because every bite is a little surprise - you may get a burst of tomato or creamy avocado, a bite of tangy cheese or wholesome quinoa, or a taste of tart cranberries or crunchy pecans. The vinaigrette I use with this salad is my very favorite because it's so versatile, and it comes from a recipe in Bread & Wine (of course). It's super basic yet hugely flavorful and it goes with everything (including last week's White Bean Soup). Enjoy! Harvest Salad
Ingredients for Salad:
- Mixed greens
- 1/4 ripe avocado
- Grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
- Broccoli, chopped into small pieces
- 1/4 cup cooked quinoa
- Mediterranean feta cheese (regular feta will suffice but I love the added kick from the Mediterranean flavors - I use Président brand)
- Dried cranberries
- Pecan pieces (toasted if you have time!)
Ingredients for Vinaigrette:
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- Salt & pepper
- Mix all of the salad ingredients together. That's it!
- For the vinaigrette, combine the ingredients in a jar (I use a rinsed out salsa jar - it works perfectly). Shake, shake, shake until you achieve your desired consistency. Add more oil, vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper to taste.