Un-Boring Salads

Yesterday I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, Things Cooks Know, and the topic was "Un-Boring Salads." I was so excited to dive into the episode - I eat salad for lunch several times per week because it's easy, cheap and healthy to throw something together and store it in our office fridge, but if I don't mix things up a bit, eating salad can get old really fast. Over the summer, I found three heavenly recipes for salad that you just must try. They have been in heavy rotation since I discovered them, and they've awakened a creativity in the cooking compartment of my brain, encouraging me to try out equally yummy and interesting veg + fruit combinations. Check out the recipe links below, and let me know if you have any delicious salad recipes that I need to try!

Raw Broccoli Chopped Salad via Camille Styles

Strawberry, Quinoa, Spinach & Cashew Salad via Julia's Album

Tomato, Nectarine & Mozzarella Salad via Camille Styles

P.S. Need something sweet for dessert after eating a healthy salad? On a whim I made these four-ingredient Nutella brownies last night and they are insanely delicious. They are my new favorite fast & satisfying treat!

Photo at top via Camille Styles, showcasing another salad I need to try: Kale & Sweet Potato Salad with Ginger Dressing

Village Baking Co. Boulangerie

Mom & Dad came to visit a few weekends ago, and on Saturday morning Mom & I snuck away to Village Baking Co. Boulangerie to reward ourselves for completing a super-sweaty Bikram yoga class. We had discovered the original outpost a few years earlier, but since then the company expanded and built a boulangerie on the other side of town. We determined that this new-to-us expansion was reason enough to justify a visit, so we made our way over to lower Greenville Avenue, where there's been a revival of restaurants over the last couple of years. Situated in between several new eateries is Village Baking Co. Boulangerie, inviting with its darling patio and the wafting aromas of baked goods and coffee. The interior decor is just as you'd imagine a classic French bakery to be, with white-washed walls and gorgeous pastries glistening behind glass cases.

After debating between several scrumptious-looking options, Mom and I ordered a pretzel croissant, a lemon tart, and a pistachio éclair, all of which were just heavenly. We drank almond milk lattes and savored our treats, our environment, and our time with each other. It was the perfect way to spend a Saturday morning.

Peach Season

While we were at the ranch a few weekends ago, my sister-in-law, Christy, and I went peach-picking. The idea came from my mother-in-law, Denise, who had peaches covering every available surface in her kitchen when we arrived, spurring on a conversation about her recent outing to pick fruit at a local farm. I'm not much of a peach girl, honestly, or at least I thought I wasn't - I don't like the way peach-flavoring has become associated with an overly-sweet sugary taste - but when I tasted the fresh ripe peaches, I was smitten. These perfect pieces of fruit were more like a combination of a juicy peach and a tart, flavorful nectarine (one of my favorite fruits). Instantly, I was hooked.

Christy and I wound our way through a dusty back road to Childress Farm, a family owned farm and ranch where peaches, blackberries, pecans, and other treats grow in abundance. We met one of the brothers who owned the farm, and he was so funny and kind, indulging us in conversation about his property and produce. He instructed us to fill a half bushel to our heart's content, eating as many free peaches as we'd like during our adventure (for the record, we each had at least three). The sun was beating down on us and though many people had already come through to pick peaches, there were still many thriving trees full of ripe fruit. We had the place to ourselves so we chatted while we sorted through the peaches, picking those that were ripe or on their way to becoming ready. Peach juice dribbled down my chin as I snacked on one piece of fruit after the next, and the sky was perfectly blue. In that heavenly moment where all truly seemed right in the world, I realized I was officially a peach convert.

Now I'm counting down the days until next year's harvest! In the meantime, we'll use up the 80+ (yes, you read that right - 80+) peaches that are stored in the freezer in pies and cakes and muffins and breads...

Asparagus Tart

tumblr_nm3yyyeF1K1qjyex6o4_500 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.)

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Pasta-Making Class

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetIt's been a whirlwind around here, literally speaking, as Dallas has experienced lots of crazy (to us!) weather, including tons of snow and, this week, lots of icy rain. But the skies parted last Wednesday and the weather was beautiful - sunny and warm(ish) and blue skies. It created the perfect backdrop for possibly one of the best dates of all time: a pasta-making class. Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetJames and I spent our evening at Central Market, our favorite grocery store - it's gorgeous and filled with the very best goodies, and it's also home to an excellent cooking school. We've contemplated the idea of taking cooking classes there for a few years now but they fill up so quickly (usually a month or two in advance) that we never found ourselves with tickets to attend one. This time we planned ahead, poring through Central Market's website in early January to find just the right class to take. There were so many good options (Jamaican food! risotto-making! French cuisine! knife skills! sushi-rolling!) but we finally settled on the pasta-making class. We rarely make pasta at home so it felt like such a treat to spend an evening learning how to prepare it and, of course, indulging in a plateful (or five) of homemade noodles and sauces.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetThe class exceeded all of my expectations - I had hoped it would be wonderful but I had no idea how elated I would feel throughout the entire evening. The cooking school's kitchen was immaculate and spacious, filled with top-shelf appliances and pretty countertops. A long table was set in the middle of the room with pretty plates waiting to be filled and appetizers to munch on during the initial demonstration. The instructors were talented, patient, helpful, and fun, and they were quick to refill our wine glasses. We got to make so many treats - spinach pasta, fettuccine with lemon cream sauce, tonnarelli with butter & rosemary sauce, pasta with pesto, ravioli with ricotta & parsley, Naples-style green lasagna with basic tomato sauce. It was HEAVENLY. We also learned how to make our own basic egg pasta, which was so extremely easy that I couldn't believe it was true until I tried it myself. It caused James and me to add a KitchenAid mixer (+ attachments!) to our wish list. We got to take our dough home with us, so it will be waiting in the freezer until we have the right equipment to transform it into noodles.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetJames and I had so much fun learning new things, cooking together (one of our favorite hobbies), and indulging in the most delicious pasta we've had in a long while. We can't wait to sign up for another class!