Tag Archives: summer

End of Summer Strawberry Peach Crisp

7 Sep

There is nothing that I love more than strolling through my local farmer’s market on warm summer mornings with my family and sampling the delectable varieties of peaches, plums, plots, and nectarines that the farmers display with such pride. All year I wait for the mouth-watering stone fruits to arrive, and when they finally do I take it upon myself to see how many of the juicy beauties I can eat before they disappear once more.

Now that Labor day has come and gone, summer is officially starting to come to an end. This recipe is the perfect way to savor the delicious summer berries and stone fruits before it’s too late.

Because the fruits are at their sweetest and most succulent, they do most of the work for you. Simply chop up the fruits and toss together some sugar, flour, butter, and spice and bake!

As you can probably tell by the amount of fruit this recipe calls for, it feeds a crowd. Feel free to cut the entire recipe in half for a reasonable 9 inch by 9 inch crisp, or make the whole thing and freeze the leftovers so that you can lavish in the sweetness of summer even a few months down the road.

End of Summer Strawberry Peach Crisp

Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Serves: Many (about 12-18 depending on how hungry your guests are)

Ingredients:

  • Fruit filling
    • 4 white peaches
    • 8 yellow peaches
    • 3 pounds of strawberries (about 3 pints)
    •  3/4 cup granulated sugar
    • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
    • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
    •  1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
    •  1 teaspoon almond extract
  • Topping
    • 1  cup brown sugar
    •  1/2 cup call purpose flour
    • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
    •  1 1/3 cup rolled oats
    •  1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
    • 3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
    • 3/4 cup (1 ½ sticks) softened butter (or substitute coconut butter if you prefer)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F, then butter a 9″ x 13″ glass or cermanic baking dish.
  2. Whisk together the flours, sugar, and salt.
  3. Toss the flour mixture with the peaches, strawberries, lemon juice, vanilla, and almond extract. Then spoon the filling into the prepared pan.
  4. Use a fork to combine the brown sugar, flour, oats, and spices, then mixing in the soft butter until the mixture is crumbly.
  5. Sprinkle the topping over the fruit mixture, shaking the pan to distribute it evenly.
  6. Bake the crisp for about 50 minutes, until the topping is golden brown and the filling is bubbly. Remove from the oven, and cool briefly before serving.

***the topping makes more than needed for a 9 by 13 inch dish, so make only half a batch, or use the extra crumble on top of  oatmeal, ice cream, yogurt, muffins, or other fruit

Back to School Chocolate Strawberry & Zucchini Muffins

20 Aug

In June and even in July, summer seems like an endless stretch of time to cross items off your to do list, see people whom you don’t see often enough, and simply to relax. But as August starts to rear its ugly head, reality hits and you suddenly realize that the lofty plans you made for the summer will just have to wait some more. School and cold weather are just around the corner and no matter how tempting it may be to bury your books under your bed and forget about them, there’s no way to ignore rapidly approaching fall.

Rather than wallow in remorse over unaccomplished summer hopes and goals, focus on the exciting aspects of fall. This means that it’s almost close enough to Halloween that you can start planning your elaborate costume without sounding like a crazy person. This means it’s time to go shopping for new coats, boots, sweaters, or school supplies. This means that it’s gradually becoming time to resume your normal schedule of cozy nights indoors that your mind and body will appreciate even if you do not. And most importantly (for me at least) this means it’s starting to cool back down enough to turn back on the oven and stove to cook tasty, heart-warming meals and goodies.

Instead of resenting or resisting the passing of summer, set an example for those in your life who may not quite be ready for the change of the seasons by baking them tasty goodies to celebrate the best of summer produce in a form that is perfect for hectic fall mornings. By that I mean, bake them these Chocolate Strawberry & Zucchini Muffins, of course!

 

While these muffins are not exactly for picky eaters, they are delicious and nutritious, the perfect way to quell any chocolate cravings first thing in the morning while still getting in some veggies too. These muffins rely on shredded zucchini and applesauce to keep them nice and moist without the addition of any butter or oil.

Back to School Chocolate Strawberry & Zucchini Muffins

Yield: 18-20 muffins

Adapted from From the Little Yellow Kitchen

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups shredded zucchini, shredded
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup quinoa flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar, rounded (or add 2/3 cup for sweeter, more traditional muffins)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tablespoons greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 15 large strawberries (about 1 1/2 cups), chopped, plus 5 more, sliced for garnish
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (or you can chop up 1 bar of dark chocolate into tiny pieces-I had some left over from s’mores, so that’s what i did)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two muffins tins with silicone baking cups. Muffin batter sticks to paper liners too much, so invest in a few sets of silicone liners to avoid eating paper and cut down on waste.
  2. Coarsely grate the zucchini, then place in a colander and sprinkle it with a pinch of salt. Let it sit for about 10 minutes while combing the other ingredients to leach out the excess water from the zucchini.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, cocoa, salt, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon.
  4. In another bowl, whisk the eggs. Then add the applesauce and yogurt, and stir well.
  5. Use paper towels to gently press the zucchini in the colander so that it releases any remaining excess liquid. Add the zucchini to the wet mixture and stir.
  6. Use your hands to form a well in the center of the dry mixture, then pour the wet mixture into the well. Stir until just combined. Fold in the strawberries and chocolate chips.
  7. Fill each baking cup about 3/4 full, then gently press a strawberry slice into the top of each muffin.
  8. Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  9. Allow the muffins to cool on cooling racks, then keep them refrigerated for up to 4 days or freeze them for a quick and easy breakfast or afternoon snack.

 

What I’m Loving Now: July 2012

24 Jul

Ass a follow up to my “What I’m Loving Now: June 2012” post, here’s what I’m loving this month! With so many websites and blogs releasing incredible new information daily, it’s impossible to catch everything, so here are my 10 favorite tidbits of the month. Enjoy!

10. This week’s DineLA deals got my craving some seriously good food. I’m talking sophisticated, savory meals, not the sweets that I so often cook up in my own kitchen. Easter LA’s round up of LA’s 20 most iconic dishes is the perfect way to keep treating my taste buds while trying to track down some of the city’s best fare. Two of the the highlights on this list for me are #7: Mozza Pizzeria’s butterscotch bundino, one of my favorite (and the richest) desserts in the city and #20: Jitlada Thai Resturant’s green curry, the dish that I’m most eager to try soon thanks to my obsession with any type of Asian cuisine.

9. This charming “Let’s Sleep Under the Stars” print from TheWheatField captures the true essence of the carefree attitude that summer elicits. The soft twinkling of stars and innocence of the red plaid tent illustrate the perfectly childish fun of summer camp, and show what all of us try to recapture each year as the temperatures climb.

8. This “You Know You’re A Food Blogger If…” list from Eat the Love cracks me up! While Not all 40 of these statements are true for me just yet, it’s good/frightening to know what’s in store for me in the future as I continue working on my blog. I think #20 just may be my favorite…or #10…it’s just too hard to choose!

7. I adore this sweet necklace from TagYoureItJewelry! The tiny pendant is sweet and pretty, but still simple enough to wear everyday.  It’s so refreshing to see romance jewelry without an abundance of hearts!

6. My mouth is watering simply from looking as this delicious Eton Mess Trifle from Sips and Spoonfuls. This trifle layers Middle Eastern rosewater and pistachio meringues with luscious strawberry whipped cream for a desert that looks decadent, yet tastes light and airy. This looks like the perfect end to any summer get-together! I can’t wait to ry out the recipe myself (as soon as I return from Europe that is).

5. I was so impressed by Wes Anderson’s latest indie flick, Moonrise Kingdom. Goose kindly gave into my pleas to go see the unconventional love story of two 12-year-old misfits who decide to run away together and eventually fall in love. We both walked out of the theatre in awe of how the two unlikable protagonists manage to have the audience rooting for them throughout the film. Equally impressive are the stellar performances by Ed Norton, Bruce Willis, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand and the young new comers, Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward. The movie has been out for a few weeks, so try to catch it in theaters before it’s gone!

4. I am completely obsessed with Free People’s Indian Enchantment Dress! I wrote a post a while back about how I love Free People’s whimsical, boho-chic aesthetic and this dress is the perfect elevation into formal wear. The wispy, jewel toned fabric is the perfect anti-dote to boring, monochromatic prom dresses. I don’t have any idea what I could wear this dress for, but that doesn’t make it any less beautiful!

3. Brad Pitt’s Make It Right Foundation recently released pictures of the duplex that Frank Gehry designed for the project. Gehry’s four-bedroom duplex is one of the 21 new additions to the ninth ward that he and 20 other leading starchitects have designed. PS the home’s new inhabitants chose the lavender color for their new home, not Gehry himself.

2. On Sunday I was lucky enough to witness an incredible feat of partner yoga while walking with Goose along Santa Monica beach. We saw over a dozen people engaged in this trust-based practice that ended with one of the partners in each of the pairs simultaneously lifting the other partner into a handstand. It amazes me how the yogis can have such a deep conviction in their partner’s ability to protect that they  are willing to attempt an already difficult pose while balancing upon another person. I was nervous about trying aerial yoga because I had to put my faith in fabric to support me, but by placing your faith in a fallible person takes trust to a whole other level.

1. I can’t wait to tryout the wonderful step-by-step tutorial for making my own dinosaur bookends from A Life Worth Living. The gold spray paint is such a chic update to classic children’s toys. I’m thinking of making them with zoo animals to hold up all of the books I’ll be reading as an English Major. Just a few weeks ago I decided to switch my major from architecture to English and Creative Writing, so there couldn’t possibly be better timing for this sweet literary DIY.

Festive Summer Fruit Basket

22 Jul

I always count down the days until my favorite summer fruits starts to flood the farmer’s market stands. Oranges and apples are nice, but nothing can beat the taste of a ripe mid-summer peach or a juicy pint of strawberries. They are delicious in compotes, pies, jams, or tarts but I think that they are best eaten plain.

So often people feel entitled (myself far too often included) to a sugar-packed treat after dinner or even after lunch. However, when fresh fruits are so sweet and delectable, there’s no need to turn to goodies with added sugar because fruit tastes even better. Fruit takes less time to prepare, is far healthier, tastes better, and can be even prettier than any baked treat.

The next time you’re entertaining and need a fun way to end the meal, give this fruity basket a try. Its cute presentation will thrill kids and adults alike!

Summer Fruit Watermelon Basket 

Adapted from the National Watermelon Promotion Board

Materials:

  • 1 pint of blueberries
  • 1 pint of raspberries
  • 1 pint of strawberries
  • 1 large seedless watermelon
  • Cutting board
  • Kitchen and paring knives
  • Nontoxic green dry erase marker
  • thin rope or ribbon
  • Large bowl and spoon
  • Melon baller
  • cookie cutters in hearts, stars, and other fun shapes

Directions:

  1. Rinse strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries. Cut the strawberries in half and set all berries aside.
  2. Wash watermelon and pat dry.
  3. Place the watermelon on its side and cut off the bottom  1/4 to 1/2 inch so it can stand up flat.  Make sure not to cut too deep into the white part of the rind so that the liquid doesn’t leak from bottom of the melon.
  4. Stand the watermelon on its cut end then use the dry erase marker to draw a line about 1/3 of the way down from the top, around the whole watermelon. Use the rope or ribbon to make sure that you make a smooth line going around the melon.
  5. Pick a point on the line and find the corresponding point on the exact opposite side of the watermelon. From those points measure 1 inch to the right and to the left. Connect those points by using the rope to draw two parallel lines across the top forming the handle.
  6. Use the paring knife to cut along the horizontal line and two vertical lines. Go very slowly with gentle force so as not to break or crack handle. For best results, hold paring knife like a pen, but only cut half way into rind. Once you complete that first cut all the way around, go back and cut the rest of the way through the rind. Doing the cut in two steps will ensure a cleaner line and smoother cuts.
  7. Make a cut around the inside perimeter and carefully remove the trimmed rind and flesh. Try to remove as much as possible in large portions that can later be sliced and used with the cookie cutters.
  8. Scoop out remaining flesh from base, trying to leave as much flesh intact. Remove it in larger pieces that can be used for making watermelon balls or bite-sized chunks.
  9. Using cookie cutters, cut shapes from watermelon. Se the shapes aside on a paper towel to drain.
  10. Use the melon baller to scoop out balls of watermelon.
  11. Then use a large spoon to remove any unsalvageable watermelon and puree it and mix it with lemonade or freeze it to make popsicles.
  12. Start filling the carved out melon with a mixture of watermelon and berries from the first step. Make sure to save the fruit cut outs for the top of the melon.
  13. Arrange any remaining fruit around the perimeter of the melon.
  14. Optional: Use a shovel or cake mix sand to create a beachy vibe.

Summer Reading Round Up

7 Jul

This summer I’m planing on spending a lot of time curled up with a good book. Keeping a book in the bottom of my bag ensures that I have instant entertainment for when  I’m lying out on the beach, cuddled up with Goose at the park, bored on a plane, or unable to concentrate a the gym. While I know that some people prefer kindles or other reading devices, for me nothing can rival a good, old-fashioned book. To me there is something about being able to turn pages, highlight favorite parts, and simply hold it that technology simply can’t rival. Here are a list of must-reads to suit any style reader.

For the avid traveler: The Conde Nast Traveler Book of Unforgettable Journeys Famous travel writers describe 21 incredible places to visit, telling both of their own adventures and their insider-tips for getting the most out of a trip to each city. Considering that the accounts are coming from some of the world’s most experienced travelers, their rave reviews of often overlooked places like Savannah, Georgia and their adventurous accounts of far-out places like Ethiopia bear greater weight. I loved reading this book because it gave me great new insight into places to visit and brand new places to add to my list of places to visit. I especially can’t wait to visit Tanzania, Provence, Iceland, and Petra now!

For the foodie: Paris, My Sweet by Amy Thomas- Thomas’s recollection of her two years living in Paris and sampling all of the cities’ best sweets while working for Louis Vuitton is both a tantalizing treat for the taste buds and a touching account of her very relatable struggles with loneliness, infertility, and homesickness. Each chapter pays homage to a particular dessert, describing the best places in enjoy it in Paris and in New York while simultaneously tying the particular sweet back to Thomas’s own life and her present predicament. Every delectable description made my mouth water, especially this glorious homage to a fruit crumble, “the fruit lends tartness, the streusel topping adds sweetness-one without the other is like peanut butter without Fluff, cake without frosting, an Oreo denuded of its white cream center.”

For the hopeless romantic: The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton-This is my favorite classic novel of all time. It chronicles the doomed romance of two high-society New Yorkers in the 1870s. Wharton’s beautiful descriptions of the elaborate social engagement and unspoken communications make this novel as emotionally stirring as any Nicholas Sparks novel but with greater elegance and originality.  In a world that has been taken over by 50 Shades of Grey, there is something amazing about being able to read a romance novel in which the lovers never progress beyond a simple kiss. Click here for my full review of the book.

For the nature lover: Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver- Kingsolver chronicles her family’s year-long adventure in locovorism. She proves  that a local diet is not just better for the economy and environment, but tastier too. Her husband and eldest daughter also contribute to the book with his educational excerpts and her personal essays about adapting these views to life as a teenager. Their story of working together as a family to plant, weed, diversify their cooking, harvest their own animals, and seek out other locally produced items shows that any of us can start making small changes to bring ourselves closer to the food we eat. Packed with tasty seasonal recipes and fascinating data, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is the perfect combination of a culinary blog, a cookbook, and a newspaper.

For the person who’s read everything: In One Person by John Irving-This is the only book on the list that I have not yet read, but I can’t wait to dive right into it! Irving’s latest novel challenges readers to confront their own beliefs and reexamine their degree of tolerance as Billy, the protagonist, reflects on his own difficult journey of sexual self-discovery. It is the story of a young bisexual man who falls in love with an older transgender woman. I cannot wait to see how Irving daringly approaches this too-often avoided sector of the population.

What are you looking forward to reading this summer?

Throwing the Perfect Outdoor Movie Party

6 May

As the weather starts to warm up and days become longer, there is no better way to celebrate than with an outdoor movie party! The low-key entertainment and lively outdoor setting make it the perfect way to celebrate an upcoming graduation, birthday, or memorial day weekend. Hire a company like FunFlicks to set up the movie for you or make your own screen by sawing black fabric behind a white sheet and surrounding it with a sturdy wood frame and rent or buy a movie projector. Movie projectors can be pretty pricy, but if you think that you may want to make outdoor movie nights a regular event, it’s worth investing in. Craigslist could also be a great resource to get a cheap projector.

Invitations: With the world of Facebook events and Evites, paper invitations have become rather obsolete, but internet invitations (even if they have animated dancing animals) cannot compare to beautiful, handmade invitations. Check out this cute tutorial for cheap and easy streamer invites, or find pre-made ones on Etsy.

Streamer Invites from Funkytime

Movie Party Invitation from Whirlibird on Etsy

Old Fashioned Invites from Michele Purner on Etsy

Decorations:

Flip empty crates upside down to serve as low-lying tables and  set up bean bags, lawn chairs, pillows, or blankets for movie watchers to lounge on. Check out flea markets for cheap seating options or ask your friends to bring their own. Vintage quilts and blankets can give your event a relaxed, yet hip indie vibe while allowing guests a great opportunity to cuddle up.

Add a touch of casual elegance by displaying mason jars with sliced lemons and white flowers from Handmade Wedding Invites

Photo Booth:

Buy inexpensive frames from a discount framing store or from a flea market, then buy or make your own accessories, and set up an area with a Polaroid camera or a designated photographer to take photos of your guests playing dress up.

Check out this photo station from A Vintage Affair

Buy these cute vintage-inspired photo props from Paper Source

Click here to download free printable photo props from Oh Happy Day

Picking the Movie: Of course, the movie that you choose widely depends on your audience. If it’s a kid’s movie night, Disney and Pixar classics like Finding Nemo or Up are Great. Or pick a 80’s movies like the Goonies or Princess Bride are sure to be a way for adults to reminisce, and kids to be introduced to great movies from before their time. For a slightly less kid friendly movie night, play Edward Scissorhands, The Graduate, The Breakfast Club, or Ferris Beuller’s Day Off. If you will be among movie buffs, play a universally revered movie like Fight Club, The Godfather, Pulp Fiction, Memento, Goodfellas, the Shawshank Redemption,  or Taxi Driver. You could also go the scary route with Seven, Silence of the Lambs, Psycho, Rosemary’s Baby, or the Shining. Or for a crowd of foodies, show mouth-watering films like Julie and Julia, Chocolat, Waitress, Sideways, or Marie Antoinette.

Menu: Minimize your workload by ordering pizza or barbecuing simple hamburgers and hot dogs, and instead focusing on making adorable bite-sized appetizers and tasty desserts.

Cash in on Summer’s cheap tomatoes and eggplants by making these sumptuous Roasted Eggplant with Tomatoes and Mint from Smitten Kitchen

Fill store-bought filo shells with this Citrus Ceviche for an elegant appetizer from Snackin’ with Sarah Sellers

Serve these adorable bite-sized Three Cheese Mini Macs from Food and Wine

Serve up these quick and easy Chickpea Salad Lettuce Cups from Glamour

Make these colorful Quinoa stuffed Portobello Mushrooms with Pine Nuts and Rasins from Gluten Free Goddess

Have an interactive food aspect to provide additional entertainment for your guests such as an ice cream sundae bar, s’mores bar, or this popcorn and soda bar from Design Sponge

Serve a healthy fruit or veggie option for guests to snack on in addition to their popcorn, such as these simple bags of cherries from Martha Stewart

Give guests the simple joy of a s’more, but without the hassle of an open flame with these adorable S’mores Cupcakes from Kevin & Amanda

Serve a sumptuous desert that takes full advantage of the season’s prime produce such as this lemon berry trifle from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

Give classic brownies an upgrade with these Brownie Popcorn Bags from Bakerella

Replace your favorite candy with upgraded, homemade versions of the classic treat such as these Better than Milky Way Bars from Liz of That Skinny Chick Can Bake on Cravings of a Lunatic

Party Favors: Nothing makes as big of an impression as a sweet send off, so go the extra mile and send your guests home with something to remember the night by.

Send guests off with some movie fun for later with these adorable “Thanks for Popping By” popcorn party favors from Jac o’lyn Murphy

Give your guests a sweet send off with these cute daisy lollipops from Funkytime