Panzanella Salad

We needed to get out of Portland over the weekend for a little fresh air and R&R, so we packed up our car to go camping! It's too bad that you have to book a camping spot a year in advance in the PNW, but we decided to try our luck anyways. After driving for 4 hours in traffic and then in and out of campsites we finally found a pristine campground on Trout Creek a couple of hours outside of Portland. We may or may not have set camp on a site that was already reserved by someone else... but they never showed up so that's ok right?! We had a hilarious first night which is a good enough story for it's own post, but all around it was the perfect weekend getaway. Some people might not think camping is relaxing, but to us there's nothing better than sitting around a campfire under the stars, a cup of something strong in our hands, and talking until all of the coals have smoldered out. We grilled steaks and toasted s'mores over the fire, went on hikes, drank wine out of plastic cups, beat each other in Yahtzee, took dips in the creek when it was hot, cuddled in our sleeping bags when it was cold, and soaked up as much of the weekend as possible. 

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I've been exuding my desire for Fall for weeks now, however our little camping getaway made me realize that summer is something that you shouldn't wish to pass quickly. Once we got out of our hot apartment in the city and out into the peaceful outdoors it made me want enjoy summer to the absolute fullest. Which is why it's going to be camping, outdoor picnics, and wine on rooftops until it's time to pull out our parkas.

 So since I'm still on the summer train, that means I'm on the tomato train. You feel me? Hear me out! Two words, Panzanella Salad. It's tomatoes, and bread, and fresh basil-y deliciousness and it needs to be on your table stat. Let this not be confused with croutons. No no, it's way better than that. This is your favorite loaf of crusty bread that is crunchy on the outside yet a little soft from the tomato juices. It's as simple and summery as dishes come and you likely have most of the ingredients in your fridge. And a plus? If your bread is stale than that's even better!!

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Panzanella Salad

Ingredients

- 2 1/2 pounds or (3-4) heirloom tomatoes (different colors), cut into bite sized pieces. 
- Your favorite loaf of crusty bread (I use sourdough) cut into bite size pieces- about 6 cups worth
- 1 small red onion halved and thinly sliced
- 4-5 persian cucumbers chopped into bite-sized pieces (instead of Persian you can peel regular cucumbers and use those if need be) 
- 1 lemon juiced
- 2 gloves of garlic minced
- lots of good olive oil for drizzling
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup of chopped fresh basil

What to do 

  1. Place cut tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, minced garlic, lemon juice, and a generous seasoning of salt and a couple grinds of black pepper in a large bowl. Gently stir to incorporate and let sit at room temperature while your bread cooks. 

  2. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°F and adjust rack to center position. In a large bowl, toss bread cubes with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle with a little salt. Bake until crisp and firm but not too browned, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

  3. Once bread is slightly cool, toss bread in the bowl with tomato mixture and add basil leaves and a generous drizzle of good olive oil. Toss everything to coat and season with more salt and pepper if needed. It's good if the bread soaks in the juice a little bit, so you can let your salad rest 10-15 minutes before serving.

Enjoy!

Chicken Gyro's

I am all about the easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy lately. When cool weather hits, it's go time for slow braises in the oven, bubbling stews on the stove, and roasting things into submission - but in the summer 'ain't nobody got time for that'! Like today, I got home from work and we drizzled lettuce with olive oil and lemon juice, added Trader Joe's grilled balsamic chicken and topped with homemade basil pesto and BAM, dinner done in 5 minutes. Beautiful weather and summertime temps call for dinner on the table in a snap with as little time and cooking as possible. 

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These chicken gyro's are my summertime obsession right now. Juicy marinated chicken, tangy tzatziki, crumbled feta and a fresh cucumber tomato salad all rolled up in warm pita. Yes puhlease! It may seem like a lot of different steps, but you can let the chicken marinate the night before, and then the day of you can whip up your tzatziki, chop your veggies, grill the chicken, warm the pita and assemble!

Summer gives you permission to not try so hard - elaborate recipes are not necessary. Invite your friends over, pop a bottle, spread everything out on a table outside, and soak-up every last drop of summer.

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Chicken Gyro's


Ingredients


For the chicken
- 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 3 large garlic cloves , minced
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar (or red wine or apple cider vinegar)
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup Greek yoghurt
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- big pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper

Cucumber tomato salad
- 10 oz container of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
- 3 cucumbers , diced. I like to use Persian or English cucumber so you can leave the skin on
- 1/2 red onion, finely diced
- 1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley
- drizzle of olive oil
- 1/2 lemon squeezed
- Salt and pepper

Tzatziki
- 2 cucumbers (to make about 1/2 - 3/4 cup grated cucumber after squeezing out juice)
- 1 1/4 cups plain Greek yoghurt
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (or more if you want richer)
- 1 small garlic clove , minced
- salt & pepper to taste

-Pita bread
-crumbled Feta

what to do 

  1. Place all marinade ingredients in a ziplock bag and shake and massage to mix. Add the chicken into the ziplock bag and massage to cover all the chicken. Marinate for at least 2 hours and no longer than 24 hours. 

  2. Make the Tzatziki. Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise. Use a teaspoon to scrape the watery seeds out. Coarsely grate the cucumber using a box grater. Then wrap in paper towels or a tea towel and squeeze to remove excess liquid. Place cucumber in a bowl and add remaining ingredients then mix to combine. Set aside for at least 20 minutes for the flavors to mix. 

  3. Make the cucumber salad by mixing all of the ingredients together. 

  4. To cook the chicken, brush the outdoor grill with oil, then preheat on medium high. Or you can cook this on the stove by heating a little oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Remove chicken from marinade and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until golden brown and cooked through (cooking time depends on size of chicken).

  5. Remove the chicken from the grill / fry pan onto a plate. Cover loosely with foil and allow to rest for 5 minutes before slicing

  6. To assemble the gyros, top warm pita with grilled chicken, cucumber salad, tzatziki and crumbled feta! 

It's fun to lay it all out and let people help themselves! And you can also lay a piece of parchment down under the pita and roll and wrap it up on the bottom so it stays secured. Enjoy!

Stuffed Poblanos with Cashew "Queso"

One of my favorite junk foods and the ultimate football Sunday indulgence is "creamy tacos". It's what we would make in our house growing up anytime there was a party happening or when we needed a little junk food fix. What is it you may ask? It's a glorious, bubbling vat of velveeta cheese, ground beef, Hormel Chili, and spicy Rotel tomatoes. You crunch up Doritos on your plate and pour the "creamy taco" all over the Doritos. IT IS MONUMENTAL. I am telling you this because I am definitely not beneath shoveling Doritos covered in Velveeta into my mouth - However it's simply not good for you to eat whatsoever, so that's why I try to keep "Queso" in my life as much as possible but in healthier ways! 

ENTER CASHEW QUESO. 

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I was very skeptical of this at first, but with our new Vitamix I knew we could definitely get the creaminess factor going on. Now I will say this, nothing will replace the amazingness of gooey cheesy queso, so you have to think of this as more of an alternative. But for me, something that resembles queso, is creamy like queso, has a rich delicious taste, and is actually nutritious for you is an A+ in my book!

One of my favorite go-to meals is stuffed poblano peppers. A lot of times we make my old stuffed poblanos with chicken recipe, but lately I love tossing roasted sweet potato, corn, black beans, cilantro, and spices to make it meatless. Top with creamy cashew queso and you've got the golden ticket! 

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Stuffed Poblanos with Cashew "Queso" 

Ingredients

Poblanos
- 4 poblano peppers
- 2 sweet potatoes cubed
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 garlic gloves, minced
- 1 (15 oz) can of black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 (15 oz) can of sweet corn, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro
- 1 lime, juiced
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon of cumin
- salt and pepper to taste

Queso
- 1 cup raw cashews , soaked for up to 4 hours and drained
- 1/4 cup water (plus more, if needed)
- 1 teaspoon salt + more to taste
- 1 lemon juiced
- 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric (optional) provides more coloring
- 1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes with green chiles

What to do

  1. Using a small sharp knife, cut a slit lengthwise along one side of each poblano pepper, then make a small crosswise slit along the top to create a T-shape, being careful not to cut off the stem. Carefully cut out and remove the core and scoop out the seeds. On a baking sheet, roast the poblanos and jalapeños under the broiler in the oven turning often until the skin is completely blistered. Transfer to a paper bag (or place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap) and let steam for 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. To make the filling, preheat the over to 350 degrees. Toss cubed sweet potato with olive oil and season with salt and pepper and roast until sweet potato is golden brown and cooked through, stirring occasionally. 
  3. While the sweet potatoes are roasting, heat a large skillet over medium heat and saute onion until it starts to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in minced garlic cloves and cook another minute or two. Then mix in chili powder, cumin, a big pinch of salt and grind of black pepper. Mix in black beans, corn, and lime juice and cook another minute before turning off the heat and mixing in cilantro and roasted sweet potato. 
  4. To make the Queso, In a high-speed blender, or food processor, combine the cashews, water, salt, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, turmeric, and the liquid from the can of diced tomatoes and green chiles. (I was able to get about 1/4 cup of liquid from the can.) 
  5. Blend until a smooth and creamy cheese sauce is made, adding a little more water, if needed for blending. Transfer the cheese mixture to a small pot and heat over the stove until warm. I love serving it in a little cast iron skillet!

  6. To assemble the poblanos, fill them to the brim with the filling! You can either pop them in the oven to bake a little longer or leave them as is since everything is still warm! Cover in Queso :) 

Enjoy! 

Travel Guide: Ubud, Bali

Our last and final leg of our Honeymoon is a strong contender as my favorite place in Bali after exploring for two weeks! If you need a recap you can read about the first stop of our honeymoon in Seminyak, then Nusa Lembongan, and finally arriving in Ubud! Ubud is the cultural heart of Bali and is know for it's beautiful temples and iconic rice paddies. We spent our last 5 days in Ubud, winding through rice paddy fields in our scooter, lounging by the pool and eating as much mie goreng as we could handle!


Where to Stay

After taking a boat from Nusa Lembongan to Sanur we took a 1.5 hour taxi ride to get to Ubud and only paid $10.50! And that was with tip! We arrived at The Udaya Resorts and Spa and were in instant heaven. The bathtub was UNREAL. It looked out over lush greenery outside our window - I would have been happy just living in that bathtub for 5 days, but lucky us that the room and private pool were just as amazing as the tub!

The food at the Udaya was fantastic as well! We had breakfast every morning in the restaurant overlooking the rice fields - not too shabby sipping your morning coffee with that kind of view! 

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  Mie Goreng at The Udaya

Mie Goreng at The Udaya

  The best spicy pumpkin soup with coconut milk

The best spicy pumpkin soup with coconut milk


Where to Eat & Drink

There are many other great places in Bali that we didn't get the opportunity to try, but here are some of our highlights and favorites!

Laromona - Our favorite meal of our entire stay in Bali! The laramona platter, mushroom risotto, and the blue cheese and mushroom bruschetta were all incredible - and we loved drinking sangria out of teacups!
Warung Città Ovest - When all you want is a slice of pizza! It's around $4 for a whole pizza!
Clear Cafe - A little touristy, but still a fun place to grab lunch. 
Bridges Bali - This was our priciest dinner in Bali, but such a fun and romantic night out!
Watercress - If you go to the Monkey Forest, stop at Watercress after and have an amazing lunch! Try the amazing veggie burger and the ham and cheese toast.
Kismet - Our second favorite in Ubud! We had dinner here on our first night and loved it so much that we came back to lunch the next day! I didn't take a picture, but make sure you try the Black Pumpkin Ravioli!

  The Laramona Platter

The Laramona Platter

  Pizza at Warung Città Ovest

Pizza at Warung Città Ovest

  Clear Cafe

Clear Cafe

  Bridges

Bridges

  Bridges

Bridges

  Watercress

Watercress

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  Kismet

Kismet


What to do in Ubud

Visit the sacred monkey forest! 

We were so mesmerized by these little rascals! They are mischievous little suckers that's for sure. I loved seeing all of the little babies hanging on their momma's. Make sure you don't have food in your pockets or purse even! We saw several monkeys running up peoples legs trying to grab food!

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Explore the Tegallalang Rice Terraces

This is an absolute must in Ubud! Just make sure you wear comfy shoes since it's a lot of walking!

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Wander around a beautiful temple

There is a beautiful temple on every corner in Ubud. Some of the most well-known ones are Tirta Empul, Goa Gajah, and Gunung Kawi Sebatu which is the one where we took pictures below. In many temples you have to wear a sarong around your waist - if you don't have one they usually have some at the temple for you to use!

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One of the. most important things - relax and enjoy your vacation!

Our favorite thing is to enjoy a drink and good food on vacation! If you want a good cocktail - head to Kismet! But keep in mind, alcohol is heavily taxed in Bali so you're likely to pay $8 or $9 dollars for a drink! If you're keeping to a budget, stick with Bintang!

Last but not least, get a tat! 

Well, maybe don't do this one, but it was certainly fun for us! For my family just now seeing this...whoops :) It's small I promise! For those of you who don't know, Thomas and I have the coordinates of where we met in the Bahamas on our foot, so we saw that it was only fitting that on our honeymoon we get a little something! We did a teeny tiny balinese symbol, which pretty much looks like a squiggly 'M', that the Balinese put at the beginning of every story they write - so we got it as a symbol for the beginning of "our story" :) 

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Watermelon Cocktails

All of my fellow weekend warriors...WE MADE IT! It has been a week let me tell ya. I have been especially scatter brained and feel so unorganized for some reason! Maybe it's the heat going to my brain - My desk at work has more coffee rings than usual and paper thrown about, my clothes are strewn in places everywhere but a hanger in the closet, there always seems to be a dish in the sink, and this is the first blog post I've done since Sunday...so yeah, hot mess express reporting to you live. I think everyone has weeks like this sometime, but I'm definitely going to take this weekend to get refreshed and start anew on Monday. 

But since it's Friday and the clock is striking 5 o'clock soon, let's talk COCKTAILS. Watermelon cocktails to be exact, and they are the answer to all of your summer dreams. I'm normally a bourbon gal and love a good old fashioned, but in the summer I crave a light and refreshing cocktail that I can sip soaking up the sun!

We bought a giant watermelon at the farmer's market and I immediately knew I wanted to make watermelon juice! First off, have you done this before? It's fairly easy to do, but I wasn't prepared how messy it was going to be! De-seeding the watermelon was the only messy part, but after that you just throw the watermelon flesh into a blender, puree, and then put it through a strainer!

Any mess that it makes is SO worth it. Watermelon juice is naturally sweet yet super refreshing. It's great with just a squeeze of lime on top of ice - but Friday's after a crazy week calls for boozy watermelon cocktails! 

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Watermelon Cocktails

- To make the watermelon juice: Using a large knife, cut 1 inch off the top and bottom of the watermelon and then cut it in half crosswise. Place the watermelon cut side down on a carving board and, using the knife, cut off and discard the rind. Cut the watermelon vertically into 1-inch-thick slices. Working with 1 slice at a time, gently break the watermelon along the vein of seeds. Using a small spoon, scrape off the seeds and transfer the seedless watermelon portions to the blender. You may have to work in batches. Puree the watermelon for a few seconds and then strain the watermelon juice through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl and then pour into mason jars to store for up to a week!

For the cocktail

  1. fill glass with ice
  2. fill glass halfway with watermelon juice
  3. add a shot (or two!) of vodka 
  4. squeeze half of a lime in there 
  5. top with club soda if your heart desires (or keep it as it is) 
  6. stir it up and top with some fresh mint
  7. drink up!

BBQ Chicken Sliders

It's friYAY and summertime and I need some BBQ in my life. You feel me? On the weekends in summer, I'm on the constant verge of drooling thinking about BBQ and beer while soaking up the sun. Do you know what's even more glorious? BBQ that's so tender that IT. HAS. SHREDDED APART! Can it get much better than that? Or you might be thinking - "Could there be anything more gross?!" For some people the thought of pulled meat might give them the heebie jeebies, but I on the other hand am a big fan. 

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In my hometown in Florida, there's a little bbq sand on the side of the road in town and at least once a week I would stop and get a bbq sandwich. I love the way the sweet barbecue sauce would soak into the bread a little. I would take a bite of the sammy and then a bite of coleslaw for crunch - pure perfection. 

While I love grilling, BBQ can be just as easy to make from your kitchen. These chicken sliders are the ultimate summer party food! So easy to make and definitely a crowd pleaser. Sweet Hawaiian rolls, piled with juicy pulled chicken, and then topped with a tangy crunchy slaw to balance it all out. You guyssss. Put this on repeat all summer long because it is that goood.

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BBQ Chicken Sliders

Ingredients

- 3 pounds of boneless skinless chicken thighs, or a mix of thighs and breasts
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) barbecue sauce, store-bought or homemade plus more to serve
- Hawaiian rolls for the sandwiches, or any other slider bun that you like

Coleslaw
- 1/2 small head of purple cabbage, shaved thinly, I love using a mandolin for this
- 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro
- 1 jalapeño, thinly sliced, also used the mandolin for this
- Juice of half a lime
- a big pinch of salt

What to do

  1. Heat the oven to 325°F. Remove the chicken from the packaging and pat it dry with paper towels.
  2. In a Dutch oven or heavy pot (with a lid) heat a drizzle of olive oil over medium heat. Cook the onion and garlic for 5 minutes or until soft. Add the chicken one piece at a time, stirring to mix well with the onion. Stir in the salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Pour in your favorite barbecue sauce and bring to a simmer. Turn off the heat.
  3. Cover the pot with a lid and put in the oven. Bake, covered, for 90 minutes, or until the chicken is extremely tender. Remove from the oven and use a slotted spoon to transfer the chicken to a large bowl. 
  4. While your chicken is baking, make your coleslaw. Mix the cabbage, cilantro, jalapeño, lime juice, and salt in a medium bowl and let sit until ready to serve. 
  5. Use two forks to shred the chicken. While you're shredding, put the sauce, uncovered, back on the stove over high heat. Bring to a boil and reduce the liquid in the pan to about half of its volume. Pour the sauce over the chicken and stir to incorporate. 

Simple Cobb Salad

Mondays are for hitting the reset button. We try and keep weekends as balanced as possible, but more often than not ice-cream gets consumed, bottles of wine get drank, and sometimes you just have to say eff-it and eat that bowl of pasta. "Sunday Scaries" may be a real thing, but I still get a satisfying feeling on Sunday nights when I pack my bag for Pure Barre on Monday morning at 6 AM, get a healthy lunch ready for the next day, and know that I am going to reset and get ready for the week! 

Keeping homemade dressing in the fridge is a lifesaver for work because I can throw a salad together quickly the night before. If you haven't made your own salad dressing before then I would definitely get on board! Have you looked at how much sugar and weird ingredients are on the back of those store bought salad dressing bottles?! Not only that, the taste will be SO much better as well. 

One of my favorite simple salads to make for lunch or dinner is a cobb. I know there's a lot of  argument as to what goes into a cobb but "our version" includes tomatoes, bacon, jammy eggs, blue cheese (if we have it on hand), and a good creamy homemade lemon parmesan dressing. I caught myself licking the spatula after making this dressing the other night...it's that good. I'm talking about being "healthy" but this dressing has mayo in it blah blah blah. #balance

ALSO, we just bought a salad spinner from IKEA for like 6 bucks and it is the BEST THING EVER. No more drying off lettuce with paper towels or watered down dressing!! I always thought it was a useless kitchen tool, but it's awesome! Plus you can use it as a crisper in the fridge for your lettuce!

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Simple Cobb Salad

Ingredients

- Butter lettuce or any lettuce that you like
- boiled eggs - I like 1 per person for this salad
- crispy bacon - 2-3 pieces for person
- Sliced cherry tomatoes - a handful per person
- Parmesan for topping
- Blue cheese or gorgonzola (if you have it on hand, if not it's great without as well!)

Creamy Lemon-Parmesan Dressing

- 1/2 cup of mayo
-  1 lemon - squeezed
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon of honey
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- milk to thin (add 1 tablespoon at a time until you get the consistency that you like)

What to do

  1. Heat a skillet on medium -hight heat and fry your bacon until crispy. Set on paper towels to drain. 

  2. while the bacon is cooking, bring a pot of water to a boil. Place eggs gently into boiling water and set timer to 6.5 minutes. We like our eggs with a jammy yolk but if you want yours hard boiled than set your timer for 8 minutes. 

  3. While the eggs are boiling, wash and spin dry your lettuce, and slice your tomatoes. 

  4. To make the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a blender or mason jar and blend (or shake vigorously). I usually make a double batch of this and store it in the fridge for throughout the week. 

Enjoy!

The Ultimate Summer Craft Beer Guide

In my last years of college I was a bartender at World of Beer in Gainesville and it was a job that I am so happy that I had! I know a college kid who gets to pour beer and sip on tasters throughout their shift  would of course be happy to have that kind of job, but it was so much more than that! For one thing, working there introduced me to a world outside of Mich Ultra's and Guinness. But don't get me wrong, I still love Mich Ultra for a hot day on the lake or beach. Is that just a southern thing? We went to Austin for a Bachelorette party a few weeks back and hardly anyone from Oregon had had a Mich Ultra besides me!  ALSO FUN FACT: I used to think Guinness was SOO heavy but it actually only has 15 calories more than a Bud Light! 

Before starting at World of Beer we had to take a test in "beer school" and I always tell people I studied harder for that test than any other exam in college! I don't know if that's sad or glorious, but regardless it's fun knowledge to have nonetheless! I used to be so involved in the craft beer "world"  that I knew about any special releases and every sought after brew region to region. Now I live in the Pacific Northwest which is one of the greatest regions for craft beer in America, and sadly I choose Pino Noir over a brewski most of the time these days. My metabolism can't quite handle the Double IPA's and the Belgium Triples I use to throw down often - but that doesn't mean I still don't appreciate them from time to time! 

In the winter I am a Porter and Imperial Stout lady, but in the summer I want something light and refreshing! This past weekend we attended the Portland Craft Beer Festival which was walking distance from our apartment and it was spectacular! With 65+ breweries there we tried so many incredible beers, but my favorite of the day was the blueberry muffin sour ale from Great Notion! It wasn't sweet but it still reminded me of a fresh baked blueberry muffin and was so refreshing for a hot day! Thanks to one of the Festivals sponsors, Bridgeport Brewing, there was an awesome flower wall to promote their seasonal Rosé IPA!

Here is a guide to summer craft beer styles as well as my favorites in each region! I have to be real though and since I am a Florida/Oregon girl all of the South and West beers will be from there ;) Cheers ya'll!

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Pilsners & American Lagers

These are going to be your lightest beers that are crisp and highly carbonated. The alcohol content is only going to go up to about 5.5% so this is your best beer to drink at the summit after a long hike or on the lake wake-boarding. 

South- Gainesville, FL:  An ode to my homeland and alma mater: Swamphead - Loggerhead Lager 
Northeast- Brooklyn, NYBrooklyn Lager- definitely a pizza or burger beer!
Midwest- Kalamazoo, MI: Bell's Lager of the Lake's - Never been to the Great Lakes but excited to drink this on one of them the day that I do!
West- Portland, OR: Deschutes Pacific Wonderland - It makes it that much better when the brewery is in your neighborhood!

 

Sour Ales 

Tart and sour but often refreshing in the summer! Some common styles are Gose, Lambics, and American sours. 

South - Dunedin, FL:  7venth Sun "It Puts the Cucumber on it's skin or it gets the Gose again"
Northeast - Brooklyn, NY:  Evil Twin Mission Gose - Started in Denmark, now in NY
Midwest - Minneapolis, MN: Surly Inside the Upside Down - Imperial Sour...9%...tryyy ittt
West - Portland, OR: 10 Barrel Cucumber Crush - My go-to for a hot day

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IPA's

IPA's are the top selling craft beer selling around the country and is the most entered category in the Great American Beer Festival. Sometimes IPA's can be too hoppy for me in the summer, but there's a ton of sessionable IPA's to choose from!

South - Tampa, FL:  Cigar City Jai Lai - A Floridan favorite
Northeast - Warren, VT - Lawson's Super Session #2
Midwest - Chicago, IL: Vallejo IPA - tropical and summery but packs a punch at 6.7%
West - Portland, OR: Bridgeport Rosé IPA- #Roséallday


Summer Wheats

The beer that will get you through the summer heat - think Blue Moon! A way to recognize them is their cloudier appearance. 

South: Tampa, FL: Cigar City Florida Cracker - Another one of my summer faves
Northeast: Cooperstown, NY - Brewery Ommegang Witte Wheat
Midwest: Kalamazoo, MI: Bell's Oberon - Not summer without this one!
West: Portland, OR: Widmer Hefe - Would this post really be worthy without this classic??

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The Best Meal in Ubud

I know... we've been back from our honeymoon for 3 months and I am JUST getting around to talking about the cultural heart of Bali, Ubud. Our last and favorite stop on the 'moon. As I started writing our travel guide to Ubud, I felt that this particular restaurant deserved a post of its own! If you want to have your socks knocked off from an unexpected meal in Ubud, then look no further than Laramona. We had been in Ubud for 5 days and our last night we stumbled upon this little gem and it was too good not to share with you. We had great food throughout our stay don't get me wrong - I still dream about the black pumpkin ravioli with truffle oil from Kismet, the soy-braised wagyu at Bridges, or the the best slice of margarita pizza worthy of an Italian pizzeria at warung Città Ovest, but nothing compared to this quirky, innovative, secluded gem. 

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First off, you have to order the red sangria our of a glass jar. With a ladle to serve yourself into teacups I might add. So good - and oddly satisfying to drink booze out of a teacup! Pinkies up of course. They also have fun cocktails with names like Limp Biscus and the Rum DMC. 

I have to mention, the restaurant doesn't have A/C so it was really warm in there - but they have fans going and I promise it's worth it! A group of girls walked in as we were eating and immediately left because they said it was too hot - they don't know what they missed!  Just cool off with more Sangria, eh?! Especially in April, Bali is very hot with high humidity so I lived in lightweight clothing while we were there. I love airy jumpsuits and rompers for warm weather - plus they aren't constrictive so you can eat more... :) My favorite one I'm wearing during our dinner is BCBG from a few years ago, but I linked a similar one below!

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With quirky artwork all of the walls and a mix of great records on rotation playing in the background this place screams character and above all, they crank out DELICIOUS food!

What we had:
- Blue cheese mushroom bruschetta - one of the best starters I've had, EVER. 
- Seaweed tempura crisps with salsa
- Grilled chorizo
- Risotto de Tokio- Mushroom risotto with more truffle oil. YESSS
- And the dish of all dishes, the LARAMONA Platter. A glorious spread of miso hummus, tzatziki, baba ganoush, roasted garlic,  olives &  feta, and so many other yummy things all slopped up with fried bread. 

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Hats off to these guys!! I hope you go see them if you're ever in Ubud!

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Open-Faced Shrimp Sandwiches

On one of our very first dates Thomas took the top piece of bread off of his sandwich and I thought it was a little weird. Who is this guy who eats his sandwich that way?! :)  Being from the South I suppose, I had never been exposed to the idea of an open-faced sandwich. Sure, I've had slices of baguette or crostini's with toppings as appetizers, but I had never willingly left off that extra piece of carby deliciousness. However, now it's my preferred way of sandwich eating because A) it looks cuter  B) I can pile on even more yummy toppings and C) if I only eat one piece of bread with each sandwich that means I can just eat sandwiches more often right?!

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When I first went to Norway with Thomas, we took a weekend trip to Copenhagen and tried delicious Smørrebrød at Aamanns and I quickly joined the open-faced sandwich train. (Also, this is so creepy, as I was writing this Phil In Somebody Feed Phil walked into Aamanns in the episode we're watching! How random is that?!) Anywho, once we returned to Norway from Copenhagan, Thomas' family made delicious shrimp sandwich's and there was no turning back! The shrimp have the heads on and they are the sweetest shrimp I have ever eaten! Don't get grossed out k, but the ONLY way to eat these shrimp is to tear the head off and suck the salty delicious juice out. You won't be allowed to sit at our table unless you eat them this way... ;) 

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Since we can't find shrimp like this easily at our local grocery stores, we use the little guys below and they are good as well! In Norway these beauties normally consist of a white piece of bread, a generous pile of shrimp, a hearty squeeze of Mills Majones (why isn't all mayo in squeeze tubes), a drizzle of lemon juice, with a sprinkle of fresh dill on top.

For one of our favorite Sunday lunches to date, we used Ken's Artisan Bakery country blonde bread, made a garlicky aioli, and added lettuce and radishes! This is such a great lunch to make on a summer day with a ice cold glass of white wine. Perfection.

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Open-Faced Shrimp Sandwiches

ingredients 

Sandwich
- Fresh peel and eat shrimp, or whichever kind of shrimp you prefer. 
- sliced crusty white bread
- thinly sliced radishes
- butter lettuce
- Lemon wedges
- Fresh dill

Aioli
 - 2 garlic cloves, pressed
- ¼ teaspoon (or more) coarse kosher salt
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

What to do

  1. To make Aioli - Mash garlic and ¼ tsp. salt in a small bowl until a paste forms. Whisk in mayonnaise, oil, and lemon juice. Season with additional salt if needed. 
  2. Layer a slice of bread with a smear of aioli, then lettuce, a generous pile of shrimp, a squeeze of lemon juice, and top with sliced radish and fresh dill. 

And of course, give yourself a full glass of white wine to wash it all down! :) 

Enjoy!

Berry Tart with Lemon Mascarpone Cream

The annual tart has arrived!! I love that it's become a tradition of ours to make a strawberry tart around this time every year. The first one wasn't so pretty, but it kick-started the tradition. Then last year we made these strawberry panna cotta tarts which had remained one of my favorite treats to this day - BUT today's recipe really takes the "tart"... Badum-tishh. 

Berry tart with lemon mascarpone cream. Let me try that again, Oregon strawberry and marionberry tart with airy lemon curd mascarpone cream. I mean how much more dreamy could it get?! First off, have you ever made lemon curd? At first I thought that it was a waste of time and how good could it really be,  I WAS SO WRONG. It is SO worth the extra steps and it's pure lemony bliss. I'm going to start putting it on everything - seriously. I want to make crepes and pancakes just so I can coat them in lemon curd. Secondly, how have I never put mascarpone and whipped cream together before?! Brilliant! And lastly, and most importantly, is the berries. Oregon berries are in a caliber of their own. They are so sweet and delicious that I struggle getting a carton full because I eat every other one that I pick. It's one of my favorite day dates of the year when Thomas and I go to pick berries - it's almost as fun as our apple picking adventures in the fall.

To save time, you could always buy lemon curd at the grocery store and pre-made crust. However, this homemade lemon curd and this sugar cookie like tart crust in this recipe gives it some extra pizzazz. I hope this little tart of mine makes it to some of your 4th of July festivities!! 

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Berry Tart with Lemon Mascarpone Cream

Ingredients

Crust
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Filling
¾ cup whipping cream
- 1 8 ounce container mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
- 1 heaping tablespoon powdered sugar
- 3/4 cup lemon curd, store bought, or I used this recipe
- mixed berries for topping
- lemon zest and powdered sugar for garnish

What to do

  1. To prepare the crust, whisk together the flour and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, using a standing mixer or electric hand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Mix in the vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture on low speed until just incorporated, being careful to not over mix. Use your hands to shape the dough into a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease a 9 inch tart pan. I also have mini tart pans I use often! 
  3. Once the dough has chilled, press the dough into the tart pan and up the sides. Use a knife to score the edges and make them even at the top. Bake for approximately 15 minutes, or until the edges begin to lightly brown. If it has puffed up a little during baking, just gently press it down when you remove from oven. Cool completely in pan.
  4. Next if you're making the lemon curd, make it while the crust is baking that way it has time to cool. 
  5. Then to make the filling, whip the cream on high with a hand mixer or a stand mixer. Add the softened mascarpone cheese and powdered sugar and beat to mix well. Fold in the lemon curd with a wooden spoon.
  6. Fill crust with filling, top with berries, a little lemon zest, and a sprinkle of powdered sugar

Enjoy!

Spicy Lamb Meatballs

Meatballs. Lamb meatballs to be exact and they are magical-spherical-bombs of greatness and are what date night dreams are made of. I've said this many times before, but what I look forward to most when Friday or Saturday night rolls around is hanging with Thomas in the kitchen, cooking a delicious meal, popping open a bottle of Trader Joes' finest, or two to be exact, and spending a date night "in". Just the two of us.

To be honest, some of those Friday "date nights" turn into us eating dinner on the couch and me falling asleep at 9:30 right as we are starting to watch a movie. I know, I HATE when someone falls asleep during a movie that I am excited to watch yet I am the biggest culprit of it. But other date nights, like this past weekend when we whipped up these meatballs, we spent the night talking until the wee hours of the morning - laughing, reminiscing, and spending quality time together being totally disconnected. 

Maybe we were so utterly blissful because we had just eaten the most incredible lamb meatballs of our lives. To be honest, I'm not a huge meatball fan usually. They are good -  but I would rather have a hearty bolognese sauce instead. But lamb meatballs? That's a different story. The combination of the spicy lamb, cool greek yogurt, spattered with a sweet mint raisin pesto is beyond words. This meal is so easy to put together, looks fancy enough for date night, and will no-doubt have you going back for seconds. I have been wanting to make these from bon appétit since the recipe was published in December, so I can't believe we just got around to making them. This recipe should 100% be on your menu for this weekend!

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Spicy Lamb Meatballs with mint raisin pesto

Ingredients 

- 1 large egg
- ½ cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
- ½ tsp. ground cumin
- ¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
- ¼ tsp. ground turmeric
- ¼ cup finely chopped parsley, plus 1 cup parsley leaves with tender stems
- 2 Tbsp. plus ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1½ tsp. kosher salt, plus more
- 2 garlic cloves, divided
- 1 lb. ground lamb
- 2 cups mint leaves
- 3 Tbsp. golden raisins
- Plain whole-milk Greek yogurt (for serving)

what to do 

  1. Place a rack in upper third of oven; preheat to 425°. Combine egg, panko, cumin, red pepper flakes, turmeric, finely chopped parsley, 2 Tbsp. oil, and 1½ tsp. salt in a large bowl. Finely grate 1 garlic clove into bowl. Add lamb and mix with your hands until evenly distributed. 
  2. Gently roll lamb mixture into 1½"-diameter balls (about the size of a golf ball; you should have about 20). Place on a rimmed baking sheet, spacing evenly apart. Bake meatballs until browned and cooked through, 8–10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, purée mint, raisins, parsley leaves with tender stems, remaining garlic clove, remaining ½ cup oil, and a big pinch of salt in a blender until smooth. Taste pesto; season with more salt if needed.
  4. Spread yogurt over plates and divide pesto and meatballs on top.
  5. Do Ahead: Pesto can be made 2 days ahead; cover and chill. Meatballs can be formed 2 months ahead; freeze on baking sheet until firm, about 2 hours, then transfer to a freezer bag and keep frozen.