Tuesday, August 19, 2014

NYC: Murray's Cheese and a High Line Picnic



Adam and I will be heading off on our next big vacation in only two weeks, and I'm already chomping at the bit to plan another one. Nevermind the fact that we have trips planned almost every month for a year... I just can't stop. I'm beyond #blessed (insert praying hands) to be married to someone that goes along with all of my whims, including making a special trip across NYC just to sample from a famous cheese shop.

Murray's Cheese in New York is essentially a national treasure, and I would visit this shrine to cheese every day if I could. Adam was kind enough to accompany me to buy some cheese, crackers, and prosciutto and enjoy them via a picnic on at High Line Park. The cheese was to die for, and the view was almost as good.

This Challerhocker cheese was some of the best cheese I've ever had.

Our spread: so wishing I could remember the second cheese because it was just as fabulous.
Insert emoji with heart eyes here.
If you've never been to Bleecker Street, it's also known for it's fantastic shopping, which in and of itself makes it worth a visit.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Seared Scallops over Roasted Cauliflower Spinach Couscous with a Curry Emulsion



Just looking at these pictures makes my stomach growl. Anything with scallops gets me going to begin with, but this meal really takes the cake. I got the idea for this entree from Austin's amazing Whole Foods headquarters, which is more restaurant than grocery store. Their version was made with salmon, but the idea is basically the same. Besides, has salmon ever been superior to scallops? No. Never.

Just like any recipe I create, I'm sure there are huge variances in the way you can tackle this; however, I cook with wine, so anything can happen and I record to the best of my abilities. Ultimately, though the steps may seem numerous, it's a really easy dish that just has a few different moving parts.


Seared Scallops over Roasted Cauliflower Arugula Couscous with a Curry Emulsion

Ingredients

  • 1 cup couscous
  • 1 cup chicken broth (more or less depending on couscous directions)
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 2 cups loosely packed spinach
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup sliced cauliflower
  • 2 t. butter
  • 12-16 scallops
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds

Curry Emulsion
{You will have curry sauce leftover for other things, like french fries}
  • 1/2 to a full can of coconut milk (13 oz. can), depending on taste
  • 1.5 T. Sriracha
  • 1 t. ground coriander
  • 1 t. ground cumin
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/4 t. curry powder
Directions
  1. Whisk together all curry emulsion ingredients using 1/2 can of coconut milk. Taste the sauce and add remaining coconut milk until desired taste is reached. This can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge.
  2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  3. Toss the cauliflower slices with a conservative drizzle of olive oil, and roast in the oven for 20 minutes.
  4. Cook couscous according to package directions, substituting the water for chicken broth.
  5. While couscous and cauliflower are cooking, heat 2 T. olive oil over medium heat. Add minced garlic and cook approximately 1 minute. Add spinach, and stir through olive oil until just wilted. Remove from heat.
  6. Toss couscous with spinach in its olive oil. Add cauliflower and slivered almonds. 
  7. Heat butter in skillet on medium-high heat. Salt and pepper the dry scallops. Add to pan and cook approximately 90 seconds on each side until golden crust achieved on both sides.
  8. Top couscous with scallops and drizzle with curry emulsion.




Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Summer Quinoa, Feta and Grilled Vegetable Salad



I'm a bit of a corn addict, and a non-discriminatory one at that. Whether it's frozen, canned (seriously), creamed, boiled or in this case grilled, I'm obsessed. I've made a pretty delicious grilled corn salad in the past, which had a Tex Mex chipotle flavor, so I wanted to revisit that idea but with new flavors and as a meal in and of itself. Thanks to hearty quinoa, this salad can stand on its own as an entree, or serve as a refreshing side to some grilled chicken. You can also do what I did, and make a huge bowl on Sunday that provides a refreshing and satisfying lunch for days.


Summer Quinoa, Feta and Grilled Vegetable Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 3 ears corn, husks removed
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 orange bell pepper
  • 2 jalapeños
  • 3/4 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 green onions (green parts only), chopped
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 3 slices bacon, cooked and chopped (optional)
     Dressing
Directions
  1. Prepare quinoa according to package directions. 
  2. Preheat grill at high setting (or use grill pan on high). 
  3. Brush the corn with some olive oil, salt and pepper, and wrap in each ear in aluminum foil. Grill for 15 minutes, rotating corn a few times throughout.
  4. At the same time as corn, add the bell peppers and jalapeños directly on the grill grating. Grill until blackened a bit on all sides. Remove all vegetables from heat and allow to cool. 
  5. Using a sharp knife, remove kernels from corn cobs. Slice the bell peppers. Finely chop the jalapeños.
  6. Meanwhile, combine TJ's vinegar, olive oil, juice of 1/2 lime, smoked paprika, chile pepper, and salt and pepper to taste (about 1/4 t. each). 
  7. Toss the quinoa, dressing, grilled veggies, grape tomatoes, cilantro, basil, feta and bacon to combine.
  8. Can be served warm, cool, or at room temperature.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Capri Flashback



One year ago, Adam and I were sunbathing on a secluded little peninsula on the island of Capri. Today I'm dragging around an orthopedic boot whining about the end of the weekend and shlepping to the grocery store. Sigh. Such is life. While it's hard to believe this was already a year ago, it still feels much too far away. Any place that has this much turquoise must have been created just for me, right? I'm not sure I'll ever get over these colors, and just wanted to interject a little other-worldy aqua into this overcast Sunday.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Eve's Garden Bed & Breakfast {Marathon, TX}



Adam and I made a trip out to West Texas a while back, and stopped for a quick but restful retreat in the 430 person town Marathon, TX. Seriously, 430 people in the whole town! I wish I could explain how much we thoroughly enjoyed our stay in this quirky little desert town, and how we were blown away by the kind nature and simple lives of the people who live there.

We stayed at the most magical little dwelling I have ever seen: Eve's Garden Organic Bed and Breakfast. The entire rainbow abode is made from recycled materials, including scrapped paper sourced from businesses in nearby towns. The family who owns it builds the structure themselves, and are constantly incorporating on fun new additions. I know that the likelihood of a reader traveling to this little desert town is remote, but at the very least, the pictures provide some fun and colorful eye candy.

The cutest pink entrance to our room's courtyard
So much turquoise, all for us. My heaven!
The owner's super cute truck
The front entrance to the B&B
The front garden
My favorite part: one of the main indoor/outdoor courtyards, complete with a greenhouse

Communal courtyard for enjoying a cup of coffee or a cocktail

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Summer Melon and Mint Salad



This post is really less of a recipe and more of an idea, but only because the recipe itself is so simple. I straight up stole the idea from The Everygirl and tweaked it only slightly... by adding liquor. OK, it was only a small dash of liqueur, but still more fun than no booze, no? This recipe is so tasty and refreshing in the summer heat. Also, it's healthy enough that I could call it breakfast and feel pretty good about that.



Summer Melon and Mint Salad

Ingredients

1/2 watermelon
1/2 large cantaloupe
1/2 large honeydew
3 T fresh mint leaves, diced
2 T honey
1 T Domaine de Canton, or other ginger liqueur (optional)

Directions

  1. Combine mint, honey and liqueur in a small bowl. 
  2. Using melon baller, scoop out insides of fruit into large bowl.
  3. Drizzle honey mixture over fruit and toss to coat.


**Side Note:  This melon ball scoop is the best example of the power of Amazon I have ever seen. One day, I decided I randomly wanted one, signed on to Amazon, bought one for $1.19 with free shipping, and it arrived 2 days later. Unbelievable.


Monday, July 14, 2014

Kew Gardens



Kew Gardens has been on my bucket list since I first learned of its existence. After spending countless afternoons walking two young boys through the gardens, Adam's mom is certain that this is her favorite place on earth. Because enjoyment of a place is so inextricably linked to the memories there, I wasn't expecting to love this place as much as Jan was sure I would... but I did. I could have spent days covering every inch of the place, and lying in the grass enjoying the perfect temperature and sunshine (a rare treat).

Located just an easy tube ride away from downtown London, and one stop shy from Adam's childhood home, the gardens provided an amazing solo retreat from the city. My favorite part was unquestionably the Palm House, with Kew's charming, iconic spiral staircases. It was certainly a bonus that my visit just happened to coincide with the most picturesque day imaginable, but I'm so happy I made the quick trip, and would return in a heartbeat.

The Temperate House
The Pagoda
Outside of the Palm House
Inside the gorgeous Palm House - the light! the colors!
The cutest staircase, maybe ever
A hodge podge of iPhone pics
I mean... seriously
Kew Palace