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Monday, July 28, 2014

Summer Days....Driftin' Away...

I cannot believe it is almost August, that summer is on it's way out...the days are already getting shorter and I feel as though we haven't done anything "summer-ish"! School supplies have filled the shelves. We've enjoyed some beautiful weather and some wet, rainy days here in the PNW. One thing we have enjoyed is watermelon...yummy, sweet, juicy watermelon! 
We've enjoyed it sliced, cubed, blended, juiced and frozen. I have some sitting in the freezer now, ready to make a sorbet. YUM! Watermelon just screams SUMMER!!

Here's a refreshing drink that is kicked up just a notch with the beautiful flavor of basil. 
In a blender (I use a Vitamix), simply add fresh strawberries with cubed fresh watermelon (just eyeball amounts), add fresh basil leaves and blend well. I would start with 2 leaves and add additional leaves until you reach the flavor you like. Serve on the rocks. You could also add some lemon to this or freeze your fruit and make it more of a smoothie. You DO NOT need to add additional liquid as the watermelon has plenty on its own. 

Want an all natural popsicle? Simply cut your watermelon into easy to handle wedges, cut a slit in the rind and insert a popsicle stick. Freeze on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper then serve immediately or wrap in plastic wrap and store in freezer. 
I love refreshing flavors of summer. I have yet to try grilling watermelon...not quite sure that sounds very appetizing, but I may be surprised. 

As summer winds down I plan to take advantage of some more summer recipes and hopefully we'll get out and do some fun, summery activities.



With Joy UNquenchable,

Secret Recipe Club Reveal: Homemade Pesto and Caprese Panini


The end of the month means a secret reveal for me..Secret Recipe Club Reveal! Always a fun time, always and adventure! I can't remember exactly when I joined the SRC but it has been several years and I still really enjoy it. Each month we are given a blog, with the task of searching through recipes on that blog, choosing a recipe, making it and on our Reveal Day, revealing to the rest of the club and blogland. Very fun time. 

This month I was assigned A Day in the Life on the Farm. Wendy and her husband are retired "cops" and moved from the big city to on to 12 acres. Over the years they developed in my mind a "mini-farm"...she enjoys all sorts of hobbies. Check out her "About Me" page to learn more about her life on the Farm! 


I browsed through her recipes and several recipes jumped off the page. Her Apple Muffins, or the Patriotic Trifle, or how about Garlic Mashed Potatoes, which I knew my youngest would love. I opted for her Presto Pesto and Tomato and Mozzarella Panini

I have never made homemade pesto, but it has always been on my "to make" list. And who can resist tomato and mozzarella!!! Or a panini? I was hooked!!! To top it off, I had this made at the beginning of July!! SCORE! It was a total success and perfect for lunch. I happened to have some bacon I needed to use up so I totally added it to the sandwich!

Homemade Pesto and Caprese Panini
Pesto:

Leaves from 1 lg. bunch of basil

1/2 c. pine nuts
3 cloves garlic, peeled and mashed
1 c. parmesan cheese
5 or 6 grinds of fresh pepper
Olive oil
Directions:

1. In a food processor add all ingredients except olive oil and pulse until finely chopped.
2. With food processor running, drizzle in the olive oil until it reaches the desired consistency, approximately 1/4c. Stop processing when pesto has reached desired consistency and is not completely smooth but still has some texture.  

Caprese Panini 
Ingredients:

Bread (I like a good crusty bread that will hold up well under my panini press)
mozzarella cheese (I opted for fresh)
Tomato
Pesto
oil
Optional add ons: Bacon, prosciutto, mixed greens (I would love to try this with Trader Joe's Micro Greens)

Instructions:

1. Heat your panini press, grill or pan.

2. Oil the outside of your bread.

3. on opposite sides of bread, spread pesto and then stack mozzarella and tomato along with any other add ons..in my case it was bacon!

4. Place on hot pan. If using a panini press, place press on top of sandwich. Cook until browned and cheese is melted. 

5. Consume immediately. 
This was so fresh and yummy!!! My girls have began to really like pesto so I think this will go to good use. And because it is homemade, I know exactly what is in it which is always a plus.

Check out more recipes from The Secret Recipe Club below.





With Joy UNquenchable,

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Recipe: German Pancakes with Crispy Plantains


I love to watch the show The Chew. In a few recent episodes the chefs cooked with Plantains, which got me a little curious to try them. I never really understood what the difference was between a Plantain and a Banana and had never really seen them used anywhere, I just saw them sitting in the produce section. The main difference is that a Plantain is higher in starch content and lower in sugar. They are not meant to eat alone like a banana but cooked in a variety of ways. They are firmer than a banana and the color is slightly orange. 
On my recent grocery shopping trip I decided to get one and experiment. I was pleasantly pleased with the result. They are fried in oil so this isn't something I'd make on a regular basis. 

My girls love German Pancakes so I thought pairing a German Pancake with some sweet, crispy plantains and some PB sauce would be perfect...however, I was the only one who enjoyed them since one daughter was working and the other slept in and hubby was gone! Here is the link to my recipe for German Pancakes.

Ingredients:

1 Plantain
brown sugar
flour
Oil (olive, canola, coconut)..I used a combo of olive and organic canola
Heat 1/4" of oil in a pan. Combine together equal amounts of flour and brown sugar. Peel and slice Plantains and toss in flour/sugar mixture. Place plantains in hot oil and fry on each side until browned. Remove and drain on paper towels. 
In a microwave safe bowl or on the stove, melt some peanut butter...I didn't add anything to it, but I suppose you could add some vanilla or something else to it. 

Top German pancake with Plantain pieces and drizzle with peanut butter. I made whipped cream too but I don't like that on pancakes so I opted to sprinkle just a touch of powdered sugar on top. 

It was a great way to "kick up" typical german pancakes. 


With Joy UNquenchable,

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Mahi Mahi and a Guest Poster

I have never had a guest poster before, never been asked to have somebody guest post on my little ol' blog...haha. That is until Julie emailed me. Julie is from Chicago Illinois where she enjoys spending time with her family. Check out the recipe she shares for Mahi Mahi (which I've never cooked with) and read a bit more about her. I love fish and am always looking for new recipes to try. I may have to give this one a shot. It seems like the perfect summer grilling recipe. Light, fresh and full of flavor.

Until recently, fish was never cooked in my kitchen.  No one in our house has an allergy or anything; I was just intimidated by the thought of cooking it, and therefore stuck to safer protein options.  I think as a kid I saw my mother lose one too many tilapia fillets to the grill grate, so I just grew up with the idea that fish was “too hard” for me to make.  Thanks to a wonderful neighbor and friend, I’ve been able to overcome that fear, and can now cook a mean fish fillet.  There is one small side effect to this discovery: my husband and kids have been eating seafood more than they ever thought they would this summer.

Contrary to former belief, fish is actually very easy to make, as long as you are attentive at the grill and spray it down with some kind of grill spray like PAM or sprayable olive oil to keep it from sticking to the grate.

The below recipe is one of the easiest and most flavorful I’ve come across since starting my love affair with cooking fish.  The fish seasoning can be varied depending on your family’s preferences.  I tend to add a little more cumin and a little less oregano to keep my two sons happy.  If mahi mahi is not readily available, I believe the seasoning and salsa will taste great on any mild fish.


Blackened Mahi Mahi with Mango Salsa

Ingredients
·            1½ teaspoons ground cumin
·            1 teaspoon garlic powder
·            1 teaspoon dried oregano
·            ½ teaspoon ground ginger
·            ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
·            ½ teaspoon kosher salt
·             ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
·             ¼ teaspoon ground red pepper
·             2 tablespoons olive oil
·            4 mahi mahi fillets (4oz each)

·            1 can (14.5oz) Hunt's Stewed Tomatoes, drained, chopped
·            1 medium mango, peeled, chopped
·            1 jalapeno pepper, seeded, chopped
·            ½ cup chopped red onion
·            2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
·            1 teaspoon ground cumin
·            1 teaspoon minced garlic
·            1 lime, juiced

Directions
1.       Combine the 1½ teaspoons cumin, the garlic powder, dried oregano, ground ginger, smoked        paprika, salt and black and red peppers in small bowl. Stir in olive oil to make a saucy paste; divide  mixture in half and set aside one portion.

2.       Brush half of the paste on fish fillets; set aside. Lightly spray grill or grill pan with PAM. Heat to  high heat; when hot, add fish and cook 3 to 4 minutes per side, turning once.

3.       Meanwhile, combine drained tomatoes, mango, jalapeno, red onion, cilantro, the 1 teaspoon cumin,    the garlic and lime juice in medium bowl; set aside.

4.       Remove fish from grill once it flakes easily with a fork. Brush remaining paste on cooked fish. Serve   with Mango Salsa.

Note
If you’re a more advanced chef, you can try grilling with woodchips to add even more flavor to the fish.
Let us know if you make any variations to the recipe, and how they turned out for you, whether it be a slight change in spices, cook time, or salsa ingredients.



About the Author
Julie S. is a Midwestern mom from Chicago, IL.  This summer you can find her cheering on her two favorite fish, her two sons, as they compete on the neighborhood swim team.  Now that she’s conquered seafood, her next kitchen goals include a paleo ice cream, and gluten free cake.  She writes on behalf of Hunt’s.  Check out the Hunt’s website for great tomato recipes and summer grilling recipes for your next family dinner.













With Joy UNquenchable,

Friday, June 27, 2014

Sufficiency Vs. Scarcity

Several months ago I read an article in an Outdoor Photography magazine of all places that jumped out and made me go "WOW"! I don't often read through the articles, but something about this one caused me to take notice. Here is a link to the full article written by Dewitt Jones

You see, we live in an age of crazy technology where we are always aware of the constant change of trends, the newest products, the bigger and the better, the haves and the have nots, the who's and the "who-nots". From Facebook to Instagram; From Twitter to whatever else is out there. From thousands and thousands of blogs and websites and don't forget Pinterest! 

Sufficiency (or Insufficiency) and Scarcity are two words that seem to constantly be thrown at us in one form or another. Two words that jumped out of this article at me. I'm revisiting that article today and asking myself am I living life in Sufficiency or Scarcity, more-so in my mind than in the actual, tangible parts of my life. 



Scarcity = Lack, want, insufficiency, shortness of supply

Sufficiency = meet ones needs, adequate, the quality of being enough.

I believe that even more than being tangible realities, these are mindsets that we choose to adopt. As someone who loves  enjoys technology, computers, my camera and the internet, if I'm not careful, the first can rear its ugly head and make me forget the second!

When we live with a scarcity mindset, we forget to enjoy life. We don't have people over because we're afraid our house or our food isn't good enough. We miss all the amazingness around us because we are focused on what we don't have. We don't enjoy our "staycation" or the beauty in our own cities because we wish we were in Hawaii. 

Another word found in this article Dewitt Jones was FOMO: the Fear of Missing Out! Ouch! Below are a few quotes from the article that I thought were very powerful. He also quotes Lynne Twist from her book "The Soul of Money" 



"When we hit abundance with a scarcity mentality, that's what we all slam into. There's more around us than we could ever use, yet we keep on grasping, grabbing, fearful that we'll miss the next new thing." Dewitt Jones


"Once we let go of scarcity, we discover the surprising truth of sufficiency...sufficiency is an experience, a context we generate, a declaration, a knowing that there is enough, and that we are enough." Lynne Twist


How about changing FOMO in to JOMO (the Joy of Missing Out)



"to be content with what I have and where I am and who I am, knowing there was more (more technology, more gear, more images, more love, more gratitude, more _______) always out there waiting." Dewitt Jones



"Sufficiency resides inside each of us, and we can call it forward. It is a consciousness, an attention, an intentional choosing of the way that we think about our circumstances". Lynne Twist

So as you go about your weekend and into the next week ask yourself which mindset you're resourcing. The next time you are afraid of missing out on something because maybe the finances just aren't there or you're afraid of having someone over because you don't feel your home is adequate. The next time you compare your home decor or your clothes closet, your camera lens (cough cough...that's me) to someone elses, give scarcity a swift quick in the rear! 


With Joy UNquenchable,

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