Friday, May 22, 2015

HDFB Week Recap: Los Angeles

Sometimes when you have a couple of weekdays off, and you work for a hotel company, and your fiancĂ© works remotely,  you have the luxury of taking a quick getaway.  And that's exactly what we did. Being from the east coast, Andrew had never been Los Angeles before, so I got online, did some planning and made it happen. Andrew knew he was in for a jam packed schedule filled with foodie stops and sightseeing.  But what Andrew didn't know is that I scored us tickets to see Jimmy Kimmel Live (one of his favorites). I didn't know how I was going to surprise him with the tickets, so I just tossed them in the glove compartment before or road trip and figured I would brainstorm something on our 6 hour drive.  This turned out to be the perfect plan, and about and hour into the drive I told Andrew to get something out of the glove compartment. He was genuinely surprised to find the tickets and made the trip that much more special.  Now you know I couldn't do a recap without some great food pics, right?! We basically planned our 2 days in LA around meals, because that's what we do. And we were not disappointed. We received some great tips from some of you on Instagram and got to as many as we could.  Hope you enjoy living vicariously through our trip through these photos as we couldn't have asked for a better mid-week getaway!

Tempura Stuffed Squash Blossoms with preserved lemon ricotta from The Standard

Cedar Plank Grilled Skuna Bay Salmon with Succotash from The Standard

The macaron selection at Bottega Louie

paired our macarons with some hand-crafter cocktails

Sausage, Egg, & Cheese on a brioche bun from Eggslut

Located in Grand Central Market in DLTA. This place is my spirit animal. 

This place has a $40 sandwich called "The Big Fat Fattie" 

The Fat Bahn Mi-Ki from Fat Sal's (partial owner is Turtle from Entourage)

Waiting for Jimmy Kimmel Live!

Hands down the most delicious pasta dish of my life. Franco on Melrose is an absolute MUST. 

Oh, and be sure to order the tiramisu. 

A beautiful, beautiful view from atop Perch

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Memorial Day Lineup

Only a few days left to buy burger supplies, beer, and lots of BBQ sauce. Memorial day weekend is upon us, and what batter way to kick-off all of the sun, pool parties, and beer-chugging contest than with a little compilation of my favorite summertime recipes. So fire up that grill and bust out the sunscreen. It's time for some fun in the sun!

Homemade BBQ Sauce
Everything Pigs in a Blanket
Homemade Honey Mustard
Cole Slaw
Best Ever Macaroni Salad
Buffalo Wing Hummus
BBQ Beer Shredded Chicken
Honey BBQ Chicken Wings
In-n-Out Burgers
Hawaiian Chicken Burgers
Buffalo Chicken Wraps
BLTA with a Twist
Lemon-Garlic-Herb Grillers
Peach Caprese Salad

Monday, May 18, 2015

Lemon French Macarons

I believe that macarons were invented for special occasions. They are just so decadent and delicate, that they deserve a special audience, and people who will appreciate the time and effort that it takes to make such a beautiful masterpiece. Or maybe it's just all of the love speaking, since I witnessed one of my best friend's since 2nd grade get engaged this weekend? We had the pleasure of being present when her boyfriend proposed at her birthday dinner on Friday night, which completely took her by surprise. And just like macarons, love takes time and effort to build such a strong bond, never to be broken. So cheers to Melissa and John! May you be blessed with a long and healthy marriage, filled with LOTS of macarons! 

Lemon French Macarons

  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 egg whites, room temperature
  • 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1/4 cup superfine sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • yellow food coloring
Lemon Buttercream Filling
  • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp. heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • yellow food coloring

Prepare 2-3 baking sheets with silpat, parchment paper, or macaron specific baking liners. Also, place a piping bag or gallon ziplock bag in a large cup with the top folded over the outsides. This will make it easier when you transfer the batter.

Whisk the almond flour and powdered sugar together in a medium bowl. Run the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a larger bowl. You may have a little bit of almond flour that is too large to fit through the sieve. Discard. This is a very important step if you want the macarons to be smooth.

In a stand mixer or bowl with a hand mixer, whisk the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Add in the cream of tartar. Increase speed to medium-high and add in the superfine sugar. Whisk until stiff peaks form and the mixture is glossy, about 5-8 minutes more. When you remove the whisk, the whipped mixture should stand up off of the whisk. Add in the lemon juice, zest, vanilla, and food coloring. Whip for 1 minute more.

Fold the egg white mixture into the almond flour mixture until well combined. The batter should be very fluid and when you lift the batter up with a spatula, it should fold back into itself within a matter of seconds.

Place the batter into a piping bag or large ziplock bag that you prepared earlier. Cut the tip off, about 1/4-inch. Pipe 1-inch circles about an inch from each other. They should not spread too much, so you can pipe them fairly close together. Once all of the batter has been piped, tap each tray 2-3 times against the counter to release any air bubbles in the batter. Then let the macarons dry out at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour until they are set and firm to the touch. The length of drying time will vary depending on how humid it is where you are.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Place the 1st tray in the oven on the middle to bottom part of the oven (farthest from the heat source) and cook for 12-15 minutes, rotating halfway through. The cookies will be just beginning to turn golden. Remove and set on the counter to cool for 2-3 minutes until transferring onto a wire cooling rack. Repeat with the remaining trays of cookies.

To make the buttercream; whip the butter until light and fluffy. Add in the powdered sugar, lemon juice, zest, vanilla, cream, and food coloring. Mix until well combined. Pour the buttercream into a piping back or ziplock bag. Cut the end off of the bag and pipe a small amount of buttercream onto one cookie, then top with another cookie. Serve immediately, or store in an airtight container in the freezer. Remove from the freezer 30 minutes before serving.

Friday, May 15, 2015

One-Pot Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta

You guys. Can I just tell you what a miracle it is that I was able to blog for you today? I spent last night at the most incredible of incredible concerts, Lana del Rey. I know, how basic of me, right? Don't care. This is the second time I have seen her and she's brings down the house. It was weirdly cool in the Valley of the Sun, and while an outdoor concert in the middle of May would usually be a death sentence, it was actually windy and gorgeous out. Score! Needless to say, I am lacking in the sleep department, but not in creativity. After coming home from Indiana last weekend, we were low on groceries, but didn't have the energy to go shopping. I gathered up what I had and ended up making quite the meal for the two of us, plus leftovers for the next day. With summer right around the corner, the less dishes we have to do is ideal for us, so a quick one-pot pasta dish was just what the doctor ordered. 

One-Pot Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta

  • 4 cups water or vegetable broth
  • 1 lb. penne pasta
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp. lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 grilled chicken breasts, sliced (optional)
  • basil leaves, sliced for garnish

Add the water/broth, pasta, tomatoes, garlic, paprika, red pepper, salt, and black pepper to a large stock pot. Heat over high heat, cover, and bring to a boil. Stirring every minute or two to keep the noodles from sticking to the bottom. 

After the past has been cooking in the liquid for about 8-9 minutes, it should be al dente (softened, slightly firm to the bite). At this point, remove the cover, and add in the parmesan, lemon zest, and cream. Stir to mix and lower heat to a low simmer. Continue to cook a couple of minutes more, stirring constantly.

Once the sauce has thickened and noodles are soft, serve in bowls topped with the grilled chicken (if using) and garnish with basil.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Rhubarb Sorbet

Last week I happily you my simple rhubarb crisp for two, and I am following that up with this encore dessert, rhubarb sorbet. I've been a homemade ice cream fanatic since I bought my stand mixer attachment. But this was my first try and sorbet, and I gotta tell ya, I'm impressed. No cream, no eggs, actually a very simple list of ingredients, and maximum flavor to boot. It is so light and refreshing, perfect for a warm spring day on the patio. Maybe get a little adventurous and serve it with some prosecco or champagne for a little boozy "float", or keep it kid friendly as is or with a little whipped cream. The choice is yours! 

Rhubarb Sorbet

  • 5 cups chopped rhubarb
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
In a medium sauce pot, add the rhubarb and water. Bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the sugars and lemon juice. Stir until the sugars have completely dissolved and pour the mixture into a blender. Cover and blend until smooth.

Pour the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a separate bowl, pressing with the back of a spoon to get almost all of the mixture through. Place the bowl of rhubarb puree into the fridge for 4 hours or overnight.

When ready to make the sorbet, pour your mixture into your ice cream maker and churn according to the directions until thickened. Place in the freezer until ready to serve. The hardened sorbet may be hard to scoop, so remove form the freezer for 10-15 minutes before serving. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Almost Vegetarian Lasagna

99% of the time my fiance goes along with whatever I want to make for dinner. However, when I mentioned the idea of roasted vegetable lasagna I was greeted by a not so pleasant response. Well, it wasn't so much a verbal response as much as it was a non-compliant facial expression. Seeing as we are about to be married in about 9 months, I decided that compromise was the answer, so I let him add a link of Italian turkey sausage to the tomato sauce for good measure. But feel free to leave this part out if you want to go full vegetarian on me. My favorite flavor from this dish is hands down the roasted poblano peppers. Not only do they smell absolutely sinful when you roast them, but they pack a unique flavor all on their own. And you see how much kale is in there? This is a healthy dinner for sure (that's what I have to tell myself to negate the noodles and cheese). Pair this with a nice glass of wine for an added touch.

Almost Vegetarian Lasagna

  • 9 lasagna noodles, cooked according to boxed directions
  • 2 cups marinara sauce (homemade or store bought)
  • 1/2 cup cooked turkey sausage (optional)
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cups kale, stems removed, leaves chopped
  • 1/4 red onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 roasted red bell peppers, chopped**
  • 2 roasted poblano peppers, chopped**
  • 1 cup shredded smoked mozzarella
  • 1 cup shredded gouda

In a large pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add in the onion and garlic, saute for 2 minutes before adding the chopped kale. Cook, stirring often, until the kale wilts, about 5 minutes. If the mixture seems a bit dry, add a bit of water to help steam the kale. Remove from heat and set aside.

Mix together the marinara sauce and the sausage (if using). Preheat oven to 350 degrees F., while you prep the lasagna.

Spray a 9x13-inch casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray and place 1/4 cup of the sauce in the bottom of the pan to keep the noodles from sticking.

Lay down 3 noodles in the bottom of the pan, covering the whole surface. Top with 1/3 of the sauce, 1/3 of the sauteed kale, 1/3 of the chopped peppers, 1/3 of the mozzarella, and 1/3 of the gouda. Repeat these layers 2 more times, having 3 layers of noodles, sauce, veggies, and cheese when you are done.

Cover with tin foil and bake for 25 minutes, remove the foil and finish baking uncovered for the last 5 minutes.

Allow the lasagna to sit for 5 minutes before serving.

** To roast the peppers, heat grill to high, or oven to  450 degrees. Cook the peppers, tossing occasionally until all of the skin has been charred black. Remove from the heat and place into a seal-able zip lock bag. Let them rest in the bag for 20 minutes to steam. Remove them from the bag and peel off the charred skin. This will leave you with beautifully roasted veggies.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Weekend Recap: Indiana University Graduation

The best weekends are ones spent with family, in my opinion. Whether it's friends that you consider family, in-laws, or your blood relatives, family is where it's at. We spent a quick weekend in Bloomington, Indiana for my fiance's sister's college graduation from IU. We rented a cabin that housed 8 of us very comfortably and celebrated graduation, birthdays, and Mother's Day all in one. I couldn't be more fortunate to be marrying into such an amazing family, who loves a good glass of wine and lots of laughter. Welcome to the real world Rachel, can't wait to see what adventures your life takes you on, starting with California. I may be biased,  but west coast, best coast!

Intense game of monopoly here, folks. 

Indiana University's Kappa Delta house. #aot

With the grad herself! 

He makes me smile. Maybe it's because the beard tickles? 

We went back to college for 1 night only. 

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