August 14, 2017

"Everything" Popcorn


4 cups air-popped popcorn
1/2 teaspoon dehydrated minced onion
1/2 teaspoon dehydrated minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds
1/4 teaspoon popcorn salt
2-3 tablespoons melted butter


Place the popcorn in a large bowl. Drizzle with butter and toss to coat. Sprinkle with spices, toss to distribute.

My thoughts:
Matt's away for a few days being the volunteer coordinator for a Jewish deaf event so I've been left to my own devices. I'm not used to cooking for one anymore! Today I did a sort of snackies meal for one and made this everything bagel inspired popcorn, sliced tomatoes from the garden, and my new obsession: baby cucumbers dipped in hummus.

To make it more festive, I served it on this cute tray I received in my August PopSugar Must Have Box and put the popcorn in a vintage school lunch bowl my Grandpop got when he worked for the Board of Ed in the '70s.

You can get $10 off your first PopSugar Box with the code PARTY until 8/31. My birthday is this week so I loved that the theme for August (the 5th "birthday" of the PopSugar box) was celebrations and birthdays!

To celebrate their fifth birthday, Popsugar is giving away some prizes if you sign up for a PopSugar Box before the end of August.

Week 1: Limited # of lucky subscribers will win something from Pehr Designs

Week 2: Limited # of lucky subscribers will win something from First Aid

Beauty Week 3: Limited # of lucky subscribers will win something from Kendra Scott

Week 4: Limited # of lucky subscribers will win something from Tarte cosmetics

Week 5 (8/31): 5 Grand Prize! Limited # of subscribers something from Cambridge Satchel Co + 1 year Must Have

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August 11, 2017

Masala Chai Spiced Pickled Peaches

8-10 large peaches, pitted, peeled and sliced
2 cups water
2 1/2 cups white vinegar
1 1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 inch knob ginger, sliced
8 whole cloves
1/8 cup green cardamom pods
12 black peppercorns
12 allspice berries
2 cinnamon sticks
8 whole cloves
2 tablespoons loose black tea, in a tea ball

Prep your jars/lids. Evenly divide the spices and peach slices between 2 quart-sized jars. Set aside.

Combine the water, vinegar, ginger, tea ball, and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a low boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Remove ginger slices and discard. Pour brine over the peach slices, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Remove any bubbles. Seal and process in a water bath for 10 minutes.

Yield: 2 quarts

Note: A great source for canning information is the Blue Book guide to preserving. I highly recommend it for learning how to can.

My thoughts:

Sweet Preservation asked me to be a Canbassador again this year, tasked with spreading the canning word, so of course, I said yes.The Washington State Fruit Commission sent me a huge box of gigantic peaches and nectarines. I didn't feel like jam so I thought I'd make a batch of fruit pickles. I haven't made any in about 4 years and I miss the bright sweet-tartness they add to a cheese plate, salad, sandwiches and even savory meat dishes. The inspiration for these came from the masala chai my husband learned to make when he lived in Texas of all places. We had all of the ingredients on hand but if you don't, any Indian or Nepalese market should have them. The peaches have a great spicy-sweet flavor going on and a pleasant warmness from the spice mix.

August 09, 2017

Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 1/3 cup flour
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips


Preheat the oven to 350. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and combine thoroughly. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix until a very thick dough forms. Fold in the chips and coconut. Form cookies by dropping 1 heaping teaspoon of dough two inches apart. Flatten slightly then bake until light brown, about 14 minutes. Slide them out on the parchment paper on to a wire rack and allow them to cool 1-2 minutes on the parchment on the wire rack before removing the parchment and allowing them to cool directly on the wire rack.

Yield: about 1 1/2-2 dozen cookies

My thoughts:
Matt's been busy volunteering at the National Black Deaf Advocates conference that is being held here in Baltimore this week so I've been trying to keep busy! I had a big craving for chocolate chip cookies and it turns out today (8/4) is National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day! It is all silly and made up but it seemed like a sign so I went ahead and whipped up these cookies while I caught up on various Australian dramas. I don't know why I don't make cookies more often; I mixed these up, baked them and ate one all during a single episode of Janet King. Admittedly, this isn't a huge batch but still, that's pretty speedy! Then I had two more while catching up on Insecure because they were that good.

The coconut adds a touch of a tropical note, of course, but it also adds a subtle yet pleasant chewiness to the cookie that I liked a lot. I think the extra moisture will keep them soft and fresh longer than regular chocolate chip cookies too which is always a plus when there are only two of you eating them! The perfect cookie for chocolate and coconut lovers.

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August 07, 2017

Chicken Spiedies

for the chicken:
1 1/4 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/3 cup olive oil
juice of 3 lemons
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon dried mint leaves
4 cloves garlic, sliced
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

to serve:
soft Italian or "deli" rolls

Place all of the chicken ingredients in a marinating container or resealable plastic bag. Refrigerate for 4 hours.

Remove the chicken from the marinade and place on (soaked if bamboo) skewers. Place on a platter and set aside.

Meanwhile, prepare a charcoal grill. When ready, place the skewers on the grill and cook, 3-5 minutes on each side or until fully cooked.

Lightly grill the insides of the bread (brush with oil first if desired). Remove the skewers from the chicken, place inside the roll. Serve immediately.

My thoughts:
I've seen Spiedie marinade at a few stores (mostly NY and NJ based chains) and was intrigued so I googled it and it turns out that speidies are Binghamton, NY's specialty. There is even a speidie festival! The origins are a bit murky but it seems like it was brought to central NY state by Italian immigrants and soon became a bar and street fair favorite. Sort of like central NY's answer to barbecue.

Originally they were made with lamb but there are also variations that use beef, pork, and chicken. Chicken is always super popular (and cheap!) so that seems to be the most common variety now. Chicken breast seems to be the most popular but chicken thighs are so much more flavorful and grill so nicely, I used them instead. The marinade is easy, you take your basic Italian spices (parsley, oregano, basil), vinegar, garlic, lemon juice and interestingly, mint and toss it all together. So easy! You could use all fresh herbs but I don't have much of an herb garden this year and I find that dry herbs work just as well in a marinate if not even better because they distribute more evenly in the liquid. You don't want to marinate the chicken too long since the mix is so acidic so about 4 hours will do it. The marinade makes the meat so super flavor and tender it doesn't need anything else. A bit of mayo can be good, though. Try these sandwiches the next time you grill, it is just as easy as kabobs but a bit more fun!

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August 02, 2017

Deviled Egg Shrimp Salad

5 hard-boiled eggs
1 lb peeled, cooked shrimp
1/4 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons dillweed
1 1/2 teaspoon dill relish
1/2 teaspoon hot paprika
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
freshly ground black pepper

to serve:
rolls or sliced bread
tomato slices (optional)
additional paprika (optional)

Halve the eggs. Remove the yolks to a large bowl. Set aside.

Coarsely chop the egg whites and shrimp. Place in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Mash together the spices, mayo and mustard into the yolks until smooth. Add the shrimp and egg whites. Stir to evenly combine all ingredients.

Spoon on to rolls/bread, garnish with tomato slice, sprinkle with paprika and serve. Alternatively, refrigerate the salad until ready to eat, up to 24 hours.
My thoughts:
I came up with the idea for this while reading The Potlikker Papers: A Food History of the Modern South by John T. Edge (read my thoughts on my book blog). In it he describes a truly dreadful sounding dish consisting of a bed of deviled eggs topped with a creamy, cheesy gravy, shrimp and served over those awful "Chinese" crunchy noodles. I shuddered. Then I got to thinking.  I like shrimp salad. I like deviled eggs. I've even made shrimp deviled eggs! What if I made something that combined the two and made something actually tasty (no offense to people who actually like the casserole, I found recipes for it online so someone must still be making it) and probably a whole lot easier?  I'm glad I did. This shrimp salad-egg salad hybrid is awesome. It is like the creamiest deviled eggs ever mixed with tasty, sweet shrimp. What's not to love?

I had mine on a long roll because we happen to have them for a dish I was planning to make tomorrow for dinner but Matt had his on potato bread and said it was just as good. I also got to break out my faux paper plates with an ant print so win-win.

Note: look for dill relish near regular sweet pickle relish in the condiment aisle or near pickles. If you can't find it, finely chop up half of a dill pickle spear.

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July 31, 2017

Backyard Garden Salad with Burrata

2 zucchini, spiralized into ribbons*
1 "baby" cucumber, spiralized into thin "noodles"
4 red radish, sliced
2 medium tomatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces (I used Black Krim tomatoes from my garden)
2 balls burrata
1 spring onion bulb, cut into half moons
Himalayan sea salt (or regular)
balsamic vinegar
extra virgin olive oil

Arrange the zucchini, cucumber, tomato, radish and onion on two plates. Top each with burrata. Slice the burrata through the middle but not cutting all the way through. Sprinkle with pepper and salt. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil to taste. Serve immediately.
My thoughts:
Are you ready for another salad? This one is super simple and is made using only ingredients that should be readily available in your garden (or farmers market) right now. I have lived in my house since 2005 (one year after I started this blog almost to the day!) and never have I had success with tomatoes. We have tons of fruit (blackberries, red and gold raspberries, figs, plums, beach plums, apples, pawpaws, and serviceberries-check out my #baltimorebackyard on Instagram for pictures) but gave up on vegetables after one year we planted 10 varieties of tomatoes and didn't get one. Our yard it pretty shady, so I think that probably is the issue. Anyway, we went to the Annapolis garden sale back in May at the William Paca House (totally worth the drive if you are local) and on impulse picked up two plants. We picked a tiny, sunny spot near the steps and they have thrived! The plants are taller than I am. So far, I have only had 2 ripe, these Black Krim (this explains why they are purple-y and not red in the picture) so I had to make a quick salad! I've been wanting to try out my new spiralizer so I used that but you could just thinly slice all of the vegetables yourself or use a mandoline. I hope you enjoy this salad as much as we did! I served it with steak and a grilled baked potato.

*I used one I bought at Aldi, it is nearly identical to this one (if not actually identical).

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July 28, 2017

Mediterranean Beet Salad


10 oz cooked beets*, diced
2 "baby" cucumbers, diced
3 oz crumbled feta
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 bulb spring onion, cut into half moons

for the dressing:
juice of  1/2 lemon
3 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Toss together the beet ingredients in a medium bowl. Set aside. Whisk together the dressing ingredients. Drizzle over the salad, toss to coat. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

*I used  Love Beets brand cooked beets I bought at Costco. Alternatively, you can roast your beets.

My thoughts:
Tonight we are having my favorite kind of meal. I call it snackies and it is basically meat, cheese and bread for dinner. It is perfect for hot summer nights but we do have it year round (in the colder months we normally have some hot apps). So we aren't totally unhealthy hedonists, I try and throw some fruit in there or something. Today I was feeling peppy so I tossed together this salad using some staples and odds and ends from the fridge. I was really pleased with how it turned out! It is light and refreshing with a nice mix of textures: tender beets, crisp cucumber, and crumbly cheese.

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