Links delicious

Could go for some Pineapple Limeade Cooler right about now…

Scones…love them.  I find that recipes {and the results} for scones can vary widely, so when I find a good one, I stick with it.  Thinking I should add this one to the rotation.

Oh, she had me at “breadcrumb-like crouton rubble coating each cut side of tomato.” And then slayed me with “crouton fairy dust.”  I now must make this tomato salad with crushed croutons.

{As an aside, in that very same post, Deb mentions a tomato and corn omlette and links to this picture.  Sheesh, now I want to make that, too.}

Pina Colada Cupcakes — yes, please!  {are we picking up on a pineapple theme here?…}

Links delish

Sorry, folks.  This week’s {Looks} Links delicious is a bit sparse.  Guess I’ve been caught up in photographing and documenting for A Week in the Life and I haven’t been drooling over food photos and words quite as much.  Forgive?

I tend to be a bit iffy about sangria, but I’m willing to give this one a whirl.

This recipe for Key Lime Pie Ice Cream has been open in my feed reader for months.  Perhaps it will finally make it to my kitchen come August.

Dear friends who are well-acquainted with my sweet tooth sent me *cupcakes* for my birthday this week.  Little did they know, but the master baker behind this delicious little business is a former colleague of my husband’s, so I’ve known Christina for several years.  The cakes were incredible, and I’m so thrilled for Creme Cupcakes’ success {and for any opportunity to taste these lovelies!}!

Favorite things

Other than the above, right now some of my favorite things are:

1. Noosa yogurt.  I’m a huge fan of Greek yogurt.  Changed my life, I tell you.  I cannot stand regular yogurt unless it is plain or vanilla and is mixed into smoothies or with granola.  The texture, the tang, the sacchariney sweetness = blech!  And the sugar-free/”light” crap does not even warrant space here.
Anyway, Greek yogurt has incredible texture, subtle flavors, probiotic benefits not unlike the “regular” stuff, and *bonus* tons of protein.

So, Noosa is not Greek yogurt, but it’s somewhere between Greek and regular.  By way of description, the package says simply “finest yogurt.” Kristin at IGE describes the taste and texture as akin to cheesecake batter, and I think that comparison nails it.  I’ve had the mango, honey, and blueberry varieties and they are all amazing.

Noosa is made in Colorado; the milk is from cows that receive no hormone/growth treatments; and it boasts a simple, straightforward ingredient list.

The only place I’ve found it so far is Hy-Vee.  It’s not cheap, but it is soooo worth it.

2.  Summer Shandy.

{ice cold} Beer + lemonade {on the deck on a summer night} = as close to perfection as it gets

Go ahead, check my math.

3.  Teeny Tiny Potatoes.

Yes, they’re for real!  Aren’t they cute?  Delicious, too.  Roasted with olive oil, salt & pepper, or grilled in foil packets with the same seasoning.  So, so good.  Bonus:  the kids get a kick out of them!

4.  Grilled pizza.  Perhaps my favorite thing about grill season.  There is just nothing like it.  We’ve got a zillion green tomatoes on our plants right now, and I’m itching to pluck one and make the green tomato and caramelized onion pizza from last summer.

5. Salads.

Fresh greens, berries, goat cheese.  OR

Greens, chives, teeny pieces of garden broccoli, cheese, nuts.  OR

Greens, fresh peppers, lime vinaigrette.  OR

Greens, Gorgonzola, candied nuts, fruit.  OR

well…you get the idea.  The salad fun was inspired by my dear friend and just making one takes me back to the last time we dined together.

Cookie for breakfast

When the kids came back from their week at Grandma and Grandpa’s, I had a new breakfast idea up my sleeve.  Some weeks back, I discovered Iowa Girl Eats, a great blog by, get this, a local!  It’s full of enthusiasm and great ideas, is practical and not pretentious, and features some lovely pictures.  

Kristin at IGE posts often about this “breakfast cookie.” From first mention, I was intrigued.  Initially, I thought a breakfast cookie would essentially be a granola bar, just a different shape. 

Not so.  While not as portable as a granola bar, it most definitely tastes better.  The oats are tender and creamy after spending the night hours softening in the yogurt and banana mixture, the creamy spread of yogurt is like frosting, and the fruit on top gives it a wake-you-up pop of deliciousness!  

 

The first time I made one, I was hooked.  (Though I will admit I was a bit skeptical when I prepped it the night before…Don’t fret if you try it and feel the same.  It’s totally worth any “is this really going to be any good?” doubts you might have.) 

Given my general lack of time every. single. morning, the breakfast cookie is ideal for me us because 

  1. It requires very little prep. 
  2. There’s no need to turn on the oven. 
  3. It requires just a few basic staples and only the teeniest bit of forethought.
  4. It’s packed with protein and filling enough to keep you going all morning.

 

Now, I tried this out on my kids and was surprised by their reactions.  Birdgirl loves oatmeal.  We’re talking loooooves it, even more so if there’s a dollop of yogurt on top. So, naturally, I thought she’d love the breakfast cookie.  The Boy, on the other hand, is not a fan of oatmeal, or new things in general, so I didn’t have high hopes for his review. 

All this is to say she didn’t like it and he did like it. Go figure. 

Anyway, I thought it was fantastic.  It’s even better with this: 

Best. yogurt. EVER.

 

I imagine you could mix this up any number of ways: 

– Use plain yogurt as a base and play off virtually any fruit (from fresh berries or peaches in the summer, to cooked apples in the fall); use vanilla yogurt (it’s like frosting); or pair a fruit combo–like bananas in the oats, strawberry yogurt for the topping. 

– Add some peanut butter and maybe some honey to the oat mixture (I tried this and loved it; kids…weren’t so crazy about it) 

– Include some dried fruit or, better yet, chocolate chips in the oat mix or on top! 

  

Here’s your starting point: 

Breakfast Cookie 

from Iowa Girl Eats 

1/4 c. oats 

1/2 mashed banana 

yogurt 

1 T. slivered or sliced almonds 

Mix the oats, mashed banana, and a few spoonfuls of yogurt and spread onto a small plate.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.  In the morning, top your cookie with a spread of yogurt and your favorite fruit.

A surprise under the lid, or Why you should go toast yourself some coconut

Last night’s dinner was one of those meals that starts with a vague idea

Tacos, with grilled chicken

and ends with something that was more fun to make and tasted better than I could ever have conceivably planned for.

5:45 p.m. 

The Husband, “I’ll throw the corn on the grill.  Anything else?”

Me:  “Uh, yeah…” (…brain scrambling because I really haven’t thought beyond the general idea “chicken. tacos.”…) “Come back in a few for the chicken.”

5:47 p.m.

Chicken’s thawed and waiting on the cutting board.  I stare in the spice cupboard, willing some inspiration to jump off the shelves.  It does, in the form of cumin, seasoning salt, pepper, and chili powder.  Season the meat, drizzle with olive oil.  Done.

5:52 p.m.

Open the fridge in search of salsa components to go with the orange cherry tomatoes on the counter.  Locate: half a garden onion, a lime, half an avocado, some black beans, cilantro.  Oh! and look, there’s some cabbage.  Hmm…crunchy… Toss everything on the counter.

5:55 p.m.

The Husband comes through the door bearing a monster of a cucumber, fresh off the vine.  M’kay, kids will eat that.  Peel (and briefly consider seeding before remembering that they don’t mind seeds), slice, toss with Cucumber Ranch and a little salt.

5:58 p.m.

Quarter tomatoes, chop onion , toss in a bowl with black beans, salt, lime.  Add avocado, cilantro, more lime, more salt.  All the while I’m thinking about that cabbage. Hey, people eat cabbage on fish tacos, why not make a quick slaw for chicken tacos?

6:04 p.m.

Slice cabbage.  Toss with salt, lime juice, a (very) little vegetable oil, top with a sprinkling of cilantro.  All the while I’m thinking about the cumin-lime crema at Dos Rios.  How do they do that?!  What’s in that tasty little sauce?

6:10 p.m.

I honestly have no idea what makes a crema.  So I’ll make something up:  plain yogurt, cumin, lime juice, a little salt.  Taste, add, taste.  Add cilantro (to make it pretty, of course!).

6:10 and a half p.m.

What’s this under the yogurt lid?  A recipe for lemon parfaits?  Scanning it — I have all of those ingredients…mmm…mental note: don’t throw the lid away!

6:30 p.m.

After repeated requests to “please wash your hands and come to the table!” and remembering “oh YEAH! tacos require shells, d’oh!” and “please carry this to the table” and “please get the glasses.  and silverware.”  and “did you wash your hands?!” we are finally ready to eat.

Damn, that was good.  The birdgirl declared the crema/yogurt sauce “Delicious! Can we have this every time we have tacos??”  The Boy said with a full mouth and vigorous nod, “This chicken is really, really good!”  The Grill Master, too, offered his compliments.

A discussion about black beans may have ensued, with birdgirl insisting that she did NOT like them. 

Me: You’ve never had them, silly.

BG: Yes, I have.

Me: No.  You have not. [At least not that you’re aware of, because every other time I’ve served them, I’ve disguised them, a la Meri’s secret, yummy taco filling, or in chili that you won’t touch with a ten-foot pole.]

BG: Well, I’ve had brown beans and I don’t like them.

Me (yes, the adult): Black beans are better.

BG: I don’t like brown beans.

Me: But these are BLACK beans.  And they’re much better than brown beans.

BG: But I don’t like them.

Me: They have lime juice and salt on them. And they’re really, really good.

Finally, she tastes one.  Well, more like, she licked one. 

BG: Hmph.  I don’t like it.

Me: You didn’t. even. taste it. It’s tiny. Now put the whole thing in your mouth.

Finally!  Bean, chew, swallow.  Wait for it…

BG: M’kay.  Can I have another one?

And seven minutes later, “can I have more black beans, please?”

Amen.

Now, about that mental note.  “Luscious Lemon Parfaits,” said the recipe.  But I twisted it just a bit to continue the “lime” theme.  Same diff, eh?

Oh. These were so, so delicious.  The toasted coconut totally made this a showstopper.  Even the kids loved it.

Luscious Lemon Lime Parfaits

from the foil lid of a quart of Danon plain lowfat yogurt

Layer the following in a parfait glass:

1/3 c. plain yogurt

couple teaspoons lemon lime curd

2 T. crushed graham crackers

2 T. toasted coconut

Repeat layers a second time.  Top with whipped topping if desired.  I abhor whipped topping and therefore did not desire it.  Totally didn’t need it.

p.s.  You’re welcome. 🙂

Grilled pizza

Pizza is a staple around our house.  Homemade (or semi-homemade) pizza, that is.  No takeout for us.  Unless it’s from Centro, but even that doesn’t happen often. 

The advent of premade crusts makes it a cinch to prepare pizza on a weeknight, and the incredible deliciousness of homemade crust can make it a truly special meal for when you have a little more prep time. 

Pizza is quick, customizable, and filling, meaning there’s little need for sides, other than maybe a salad.   The Husband likes meat, meat, and more meat on his pizza.  The kids like–surprise!–pepperoni and cheese.  (Though my birdgirl likes mushrooms, so she and I sometimes split a girly pizza with mushrooms, herbs, and, ideally, goat cheese.  I love that she’s an adventurous eater!)  And I want anything but the standard–give me unorthodox sauces, not-your-typical pizza cheese, and just about any vegetable. 

And right now, there are so many veggies at their peak.  When the veggies are young and tender, they need nothing more than a quick chop and to be thrown on top of a crust for a quick, fresh dinner. 

But on a day like yesterday, when the heat index was hovering in the triple digits, I was not about to turn on the oven.  

The grill, however, was calling me. 

I’d grilled pizza once before.  It was edible, even good, but our old grill presented some challenges and the result wasn’t as good as I knew it could be. 

Enter the new grill:  a big, beautiful, spacious fixture that’s so much easier to use.  Big bonus:  the heat from the burners is actually adjustable!   With the old grill, it was “high” or “off.” 

The gist is that the new baby is perfect for grilling pizza, and I’ll bet that, if your grill was made in this century, you can make this dinner, too! 

What you’ll need: 

The crust:  I started with premade crusts, though rolled out pizza dough works, too.  (Dear Trader Joe’s, Please hurry and get that store in West Des Moines up and running!  Would love, love, love to try your delicious pizza dough on my new grill.  Many thanks, JC) 

The toppings:  Cook any meat toppings, obviously.  Prepare your veggies as you like them.  Set out your sauce and cheese (or cheeses).  Julienne some basil, chop some parsley, strip some thyme — whatever suits your fancy.  The key here that you have to work fast once the pie is on the grill, so ready everything you need and assemble all of the toppings in bowls near the grill. 

The heat:  Preheat the grill on high for about 10 minutes.  Turn the heat down to medium-low once you’re ready to toss the crust on.  

  

The basic idea:  Grill your pizza crust on one side for about 3 minutes, or until it’s got a few grill marks and develops some color.  Flip the crust and–work quickly here–spread a thin layer of sauce (or drizzle with olive oil, S&P), add your toppings, and close the grill for another couple of minutes to brown the bottom of the crust and melt the cheese.  Check the crust often because it does cook quickly. 

Remove to a pan to rest a few minutes.  Then slice, serve, and savor! 

No two pizzas in my house are ever the same; I mix it up every time.  Last night’s pizzas were inspired by what’s fresh right now at the farmers markets and by this photo here.  I made a bruschetta pizza 

 

and a riff on Deb’s 

 

Both were amazingly delicious.  

And since my little birds have flown the coop this week (to the grandparents!), I was able to enjoy a couple glasses of this

 

(Ignore the surrounding mess…) 

Served with a twist of lime and on the rocks, this is some good stuff!  It totally made grilling in the heat bearable. 

  

Bruschetta Pizza 

 (inspired by various sightings on the Internet) 

2 ripe tomatoes, seeded and chopped 

1/2 of a small red onion, finely chopped 

1 clove of garlic, minced 

Chopped basil to taste (I have spicy globe basil and the leaves are tiny enough that I just left them whole.  They were perfect.) 

Combine these ingredients, toss with a bit of salt and some pepper.  Go easy with the salt, because the pepperoni offers plenty.  Drizzle with olive oil and a few sprinkles of balsamic.  Toss again and then let it rest while you prep everything else.  That rest time will allow the tomatoes to release their juices and all those fantastic flavors to marry and make some magic. 

Mmm...

 

Grill the first side of your pizza crust.  Flip and drizzle with olive oil, (little) salt & pepper, then top with pepperoni and about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of mozzarella cheese (fresh would be fantastic; all I had was shredded).  Close the grill lid and cook until the crust browns a bit and the cheese is nearly melted.  Remove from the grill and spoon the bruschetta topping all over the pizza.  Let rest a few minutes so the balsamic/oil soak into the crust.  Slice and savor!

Nanners!

To those of you who suggested that my Popsicles! piece was not a real post, behold

Molly’s post at Orangette this week.

 

And, this,  my favorite line from that post:

Have you ever seen what happens to adults when you put popsicles on the table in front of them? Namely, popsicles in shot glasses? They grin uncontrollably. It’s beautiful.

Just reading that made me grin uncontrollably. 🙂  Yet another reason I can’t wait to visit Seattle again.  I must eat at Delancey’s.