I really haven’t been cooking much this summer. I’ve been baking, lots and lots of baking, all in preparation for my cousin’s wedding this weekend. But, for whatever reason, I just haven’t been in the mood to cook very much. Part of it was definitely the less-than-awesome kitchen I was in for the first few months of the summer, but now that I’ve moved I keep waiting to be motivated to cook. It hasn’t happened yet though, so I’ve been having lots of simple dinners.
As part of my minimalist dinner routine I’ve been eating eggs pretty frequently. Granted they’re always a staple in my diet, but they’ve been in regular rotation lately. A few weeks ago I saw this cooking method posted over on Peanut Butter Runner (one of my favorite healthy living blogs) and I loved it! The eggs really do come out perfectly- the whites are cooked but not rubbery and the yolk is wonderfully runny, just the way it should be.
Perfect Fried Eggs
- Cooking spray or butter
- 1-2 eggs
- Salt & pepper
- 2 tbl. water
- Place the greased skillet over medium to medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, carefully crack your eggs into it, being sure not to break the yolks. Season with salt and pepper.
- Cook for about 1 minute until the bottoms are set. Pour 2 tablespoons of water into the pan and cover with a lid. Cook another minute or two until the eggs have reached the desired level of doneness. Slide onto a plate and enjoy!
This spring my cousin’s lovely fiance asked me if I would do the baking for their wedding. I had to think about it for a couple of days to figure out if I could pull off the logistics of living halfway across the country from where I’d need to serve cake and cupcakes, but of course I was incredibly excited about the opportunity to bake for their wedding.
The wedding is coming up in a few weeks, so last weekend I spent several days in the kitchen practicing the recipes I plan to use and making sure the garnishes I’d pictured in my head would work as well as I’d hoped. One of the cupcake recipes that I’ll be using is for lemon-blueberry cupcakes. I love candied lemon peel and thought it would be a simple and elegant garnish for some of the cupcakes.
Prior to this weekend I had never tried making candied lemon peel before, but these turned out really well. The process is time-consuming, but not particularly difficult. You can definitely multi-task while they’re cooking, so it’s perfect to make the candied lemon peel when you’re already planning to be in the kitchen working on other things. The lemon peels came out with a chewy texture and a light lemon flavor, they would be a beautiful garnish on cupcakes, cake or frosted cookies.
Candied Lemon Peel
- 4 lemons, washed
- 4 cups sugar, plus more for rolling
- 4 cups water
- Quarter the lemons and remove the pulp. Slice each of the quartered piece of lemon into an additional 4 slices, so you’ll have 16 slices of peel per lemon. Use a sharp knife to scrape out the excess pith (the white part) and discard.
- Place the strips in a medium sized saucepan and cover them with cold water. Bring the water to a boil and drain them. Repeat the process a second and third time by covering the peels with cold water, boiling, and draining. Set the peels aside.
- Pour 4 cups of water into the saucepan and combine with 4 cups of sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves. Use a wet pastry brush to wash the sides of the pan to prevent sugar crystals from forming. Add the peels to the boiling syrup and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer gently for about 1 hour until the peels are translucent. Turn off the heat and allow the peels to cool in the syrup.
- Once cooled, use a slotted spoon to transfer the peels to a paper towel lined tray. Wipe off the excess liquid, then pour about a cup of sugar in a large rimmed plate and toss the peels in the sugar to coat. Place the sugar coated peels on a drying rack and allow to dry for several hours. Store in an airtight container.
A few weeks ago, before we moved to our new house in town, Boomer and I went for a walk on the country road we lived on. Boom was off-leash and had spent most of the walk crashing through the corn fields chasing squirrels and birds. On the way home Boom started getting tired and was walking right next to me when he stuck his head into a big clump of grass. I saw a flash of fluffy black tail and started to yell “NO”, thinking Boom was about to go after a cat, right before Boomer and I both got sprayed by an angry skunk.
As we walked back home, covered in smelly oil, Boom bounced around rolling in the grass and clearly thinking the skunk event had been super cool and exciting, while I was significantly less enthused. How many hundreds of hours have Boomer and I spent walking and hiking around the woods in Montana without even seeing a skunk, and yet we get sprayed walking along a road? And really, how frequently do you hear of someone getting sprayed by a skunk? Dogs getting sprayed? Sure. But people? Not so often.
Being just a little melodramatic about bathtime
I got home and put Boomer in the bathtub and started soaping him up with the shampoo I bought when he and I were on a long road trip and he found a dead, maggot covered critter to roll around on (aren’t you jealous you don’t have a dog like Boomer?) But, not even the extra strength shampoo was cutting through the oily skunk smell. In desperation I finally walked over to my neighbor’s house to see if they had a jar of tomato sauce I could have. Not only did they give me a huge jar of tomato sauce, but it was freshly canned with tomatoes out of their garden. Needless to say, I had to make something to thank them for the tomato sauce and ice cream seemed perfect.
This Fluffernutter Ice Cream is very similar to the S’mores Ice Cream from a few weeks ago, but it has a peanut butter swirl and some Reeses. I love fluffernutter flavored desserts, so after discovering the insanely creamy texture that results from toasting marshmallows and mixing them with the ice cream base in the S’mores Ice Cream, coming up with a fluffernutter version was only natural. The second time I made this ice cream I used Nutterbutter cookies in place of Reeses and I liked that slightly better, either way will be delicious though!
Fluffernutter Ice Cream
- 10 oz. bag large marshmallows
- 1 tbl. vanilla bean paste
- 2 cups whole milk
- 5 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 3 tbl. peanut butter
- 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 tbl. brown sugar
- 1 tbl. light corn syrup
- 1 3/4 cups coarsely chopped Nutterbutters or Reeses
- Lightly butter a baking sheet and spread the marshmallows out in a single layer. Place under the broiler for 30 seconds to 1 minutes until toasted (watch them closely, they burn quickly!). Remove the sheet from the oven and use tongs to turn the marshmallows over, then place them back under the broiler for another 30 seconds until toasted. Once toasted, set the pan aside and allow to cool.
- Pour the milk into a medium saucepan over medium heat and stir in the vanilla bean paste. While you wait for the milk to simmer, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and salt in a medium sized heatproof bowl. Once the milk has started to simmer, remove from the heat and slowly pour into the egg mixture while whisking constantly. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is between 170 and 175 degrees (or thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon). Strain the custard through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl.
- Let the mixture cool for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to help it cool faster. Place the toasted marshmallows in a blender, then pour the custard on top of them. Blend until the well combined and smooth. Add the heavy cream and vanilla extract and blend again to combine. Cover and refrigerate the custard overnight.
- To make the peanut butter swirl, stir the peanut butter, heavy cream, brown sugar, and corn syrup together in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 30 second intervals, stirring in-between, until the sugar dissolves. Cover and chill in the refrigerator.
- When you’re ready to churn the ice cream, remove the custard from the fridge and whisk until it is smooth and pourable (the custard will have a spongy texture it first comes out of the fridge). Once smooth, pour into your ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s directions.
- When the ice cream has finished churning, fold in the chopped Nutterbutters or Reeses. Spoon a layer of peanut butter swirl onto the bottom of your storage container followed by a layer of ice cream. Continue making layers of peanut butter and ice cream, ending with a layer of ice cream. Don’t try to swirl the peanut butter into the ice cream, that will make it look muddy. Freeze for at least 2 hours or until the ice cream is firm. Enjoy!
Makes: 1 1/2 quarts
When I was a kid I couldn’t stand tomatoes and would pick them out of nearly everything. I remained convinced for a long time that I hated tomatoes and it wasn’t until I tried some delicious bruschetta that realized that they could be pretty good. Tomatoes still aren’t on the top of my list of favorite foods, but I can’t turn them down when they’re combined with fresh basil and mozzarella.
This simple orzo pasta salad is incredibly quick and easy to make. You can eat it at room temp (my preference) or chilled which makes it a great summer dish.
- 2 cups low sodium vegetable or chicken broth
- 1 cup orzo
- 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced into bite-sized pieces
- 1 cup bocconcini (mozzarella balls), halved or quartered
- 1 tbl. olive oil
- 3 tbl. basil leaves, chopped
- salt, pepper and Italian Seasonings to taste
- Pour the broth into a pot and place over medium high heat until boiling. Add the orzo and cook for about 8 minutes until al dente, stirring occasionally. Drain and set aside to cool.
- Once the orzo is cool, place it it a bowl and stir in the olive oil, basil, and seasonings. Gently stir in the tomatoes and mozzarella. Serve at room temperature or chilled.
Makes: 3-4 as main course, 6+ as side dish
Some of the recipes I post result from lots of thought and planning. Then, there are some recipes that are born from hunger and exhaustion where I look in the fridge and realize I have nothing to eat.
This recipe is definitely falls under the latter category. I got home on Sunday after spending most of the weekend helping at a country fair and I was beat. I drug myself out the door to take Boomer for a short walk, but that was the extent of my productivity for the rest of the day. Driving 25 minutes into town to get groceries definitely wasn’t on the agenda so I had to get a little creative with the few groceries I had in the house. I have to say for something that I just threw together, this crisp turned out really, really well!
I used less sugar than most crisp recipes call for. Partially this was because I was making myself blueberry-peach crisp for dinner and I felt guilty about putting in too much sugar, but it was also because peaches are so good and sweet this time of year, a bunch of extra sugar seems unnecessary. Don’t worry though, I still went all out with the crispy goodness on top- that part is way too important to skimp on! If you decide to eat this for dinner and want to pretend it’s healthy, I thought it was pretty good with a spoonful of vanilla Greek yogurt on top, but, topping your crisp with some whipped cream or ice cream certainly wouldn’t be a bad choice either.
This recipe just makes one large-ish serving, but of course you could easily increase the recipe to feed more people.
- 1 peach, pealed and sliced into bite-sized pieces
- 2/3 cup blueberries
- 1 tbl. flour
- 1 1/2 tsp. granulated sugar
- 1/4 tsp. lemon juice
- 1 1/2 tbl. butter, melted
- 2 tbl. flour
- 1 tbl. brown sugar
- 2 tbl. oats
- 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
- pinch salt
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Combine the chopped peach, blueberries, flour, sugar and lemon juice in a bowl. Stir to combine then pour into a small oven-safe ramekin.
- Combine the melted butter, flour, brown sugar, oats, cinnamon and salt. Crumble over the top of the fruit mixture. Bake for approximately 25 minutes* until the fruit is bubbling and the topping is light brown.
* Disclaimer: the oven at this house is… not great. Both times I made this it took about 25 minutes to finish, but you might check it a little earlier just in case.