To Love: September

 
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Good afternoon! September was the nicest easement out of summer and into fall. While it hasn’t completely cooled-off outside, inside I could not be more ready for cozy sweaters, fall reads, and falling leaves. Below, I’ve listed what’s held my interest this month:

  • A Hard Days Night (the movie) / I’ve been making a conscious effort to set aside time to watch more films, and this was one of my favorites from the month. It made me fall in love with The Beatles again, eccentricities and all.

  • My fall reading list / I have quite a few new books on my list to read this season, from essays to contemporary fiction. I’ll share the full list at the start of October!

  • Balkan Treat Box / A new restaurant in St. Louis that has been on my list of new spots to visit for awhile. They recently had a write-up in Bon Appetit’s latest issue, and now the need to head that way is stronger than ever.

  • Classic ballet flats / another thing I fell in love with again this month! Chanel has been making a ballet flat for decades for a reason.

Have a great rest of your day. Happy Wednesday!

To Explore: St. Louis

 
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Left Bank Books

Good morning! I love being halfway between St. Louis and Kansas City - it provides a lot of opportunity to explore these great cities within a weekend. Today, I’d like to share a few of my favorite spots in St. Louis (we’ll tackle KC another time)! Below, I’ve listed my favorite places to shop and eat:

  • Cafe Osage / the best brunch spot in town, along with housing a beautiful shop full of everything from toys for kids to gardening tools to stationary!

  • Shake Shack / the best burgers from New York finally made their way to Missouri - worth the hype tenfold.

  • Jeni’s Ice Cream / you can smell the waffle cones here from a mile away. Do not sleep on Jeni’s!

  • Left Bank Books / the cutest book shop in STL. I ended up leaving with Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney, but that was one of about 20 books I wanted from this place!

  • Coma Coffee / succulents everywhere and iced coffee are the best combo in my opinion.

  • Urban Outfitters / always good, and the best store in the Galleria.

  • Fiddlehead Fern Café / espresso on tap and lavender lattes - run, don’t walk!

Euclid Ave in downtown St. Louis

Euclid Ave in downtown St. Louis

Fiddlehead Fern Cafe

Fiddlehead Fern Cafe

Cafe Osage

Cafe Osage

Thanks for reading! I wanted to update my guide with new places to check out, as St. Louis gets better with each visit. Let me know if you have any favorite spots in the city, and have a fun day!

To Cook: Peach + Cucumber Salad

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Good afternoon! Today, I’m sharing a quick and easy peach salad that’s perfect for the end of summer. It’s inspired by a recipe from Scribe Winery in the August issue of Bon Appetit! The flavors are really simple, and showcase the sweet peaches. Get the recipe below!

Peach + Cucumber Salad:

Ingredients /

  • 2 ripe peaches

  • half an English cucumber

  • shaved parmesan

  • a handful of torn basil

  • a lemon

  • salt + pepper

Directions /

  1. Slice your peaches and cucumber. Combine in a large bowl with torn basil and parmesan. Squeeze lemon all over salad and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat salad.

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I hope you enjoy all of the late summer produce - get it while you can! Thanks for reading, and have a fun day.

To Cook: August Recipes

 
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Good morning! One of my favorite things about the start of each month is planning what I want to try and cook or cook with throughout the month. August is abundant with end-of-summer produce, and I plan to take full advantage of all the fruit and veggies. Today, I wanted to share what I plan to indulge in this month, along with a quick recipe:

  • blackberry pancakes (will be on the blog!)

  • peach slushies (recipe below)

  • tomato sauce (will also be on the blog!)

  • burrata and strawberries (paired with a nice rosé, from my favorite Wine Food)

  • scones (probably with more berries)

  • bbq and all of the sides (my birthday feast at the lake!)

Peach Slushies (makes one serving, inspired by Bon Appetit’s Universal Slushie, August 2019 issue)

Ingredients:

  • one peach, sliced

  • one lime, for the juice

  • a handful of ice cubes

  • 1/4 cup of water

Directions:

  1. Add peaches, ice, and water to a blender. Squeeze-in lime juice. Blend on high until drink is frothy and frozen.

To Read: Books of July

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Good morning! After a year-long hiatus from the blog, I’ve finally felt ready to start posting again. It’s been an amazing year - from starting and excelling at a new job to getting married, a lot has changed. I’ll be posting what I’m interested in, treating this space as a journal/record of our lives at this point in time. I can’t wait to share what I’ve got lined up, so let’s get started!

I’ve been picking up my reading pace over the last few months, and today am sharing the 4 books I finished in July:

  • To Shake the Sleeping Self by Jedediah Jenkins - I reread this because I’m always reading stories on some sort of travel during the summer months, and Jed is one of the best storytellers there is.

  • Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (not pictured) - a friend lent me this novel because apparently we all HAVE to read it, and that sentiment rings true. I won’t spoil anything, but let’s just say this story weaves multiple genres together and you won’t be able to put it down.

  • Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney - another quick read, dissecting relationships between friends and more-than-friends. Again, I won’t spoil anything, however it does say on the back cover how doomed the main relationship in the book is. That is all ;).

  • Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler - waited a long time to read this one, but I’m so happy I finally got the chance! A cross between Devil Wears Prada and the restaurant/wine world, this book was nostalgic but also adult at the same time. A grown-up and gritty version of the books I read as a teen, and I loved every second of it.

Please, please share what you’ve been reading lately, as I’m always looking for new material! Thanks for reading, and have a fun day!

To Explore / Bentonville, AR

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     Hi there! This last weekend I celebrated my birthday with family in Arkansas, and we visited Bentonville to explore their Crystal Bridges Museum! They are hosting a Georgia O’Keefe exhibit that I highly recommend you check out if you’re in the area. They include works not only from Georgia, but also from artists influenced by her - so it’s a pretty well rounded retrospective! More photos from the museum and where we had lunch/coffee in Bentonville are below!

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     Loved this modern sculpture.  

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      This was bailey’s first time in a museum! She enjoyed it about as much as a 4 year old can! LOL

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     They had an area where you could draw a still life based on common objects found in O’Keefe’s work! I drew one of the peonies. 

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    This wall was my sister and I’s favorite! The pink and the flowers were just too good.

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      We also loved this painting by one of the newer artists! The colors were just gorgeous. 

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And lastly the exterior of the exhibit was also in accordance with the theme. Tis mural was gigantic in person - so pretty!

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     Grandpa and Bailey! They’re observing the bridges that are the namesake of the museum. 

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      There is a Frank Lloyd Wright house on the property, and I had to take a look at the exterior - it was just too cool!

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      My little stinker! 

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     After the museum, we ventured downtown to Pressroom. It was too good and had beautiful interiors! 

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      I had chicken and waffles with hush puppies and beneigts! As I said on Instagram, southern food at its finest! 

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    After that, we stopped in next door to Onyx Coffee and loved it. 

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     Bailey and I had pink macaroons and were in heaven! 

    Thanks for reading and have a fun week! 

To Whip / Homemade Whipped Cream for Café con Panna

 
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     Good morning! I'm all for a new coffee drink, especially when it involves a pool of whipped cream. I was desperate to finish off a carton of heavy cream before it went bad (why don't they make smaller cartons?! Most recipes that call for heavy cream need about 1 tablespoon, not four cups!), so I researched what Italian spin I could put on whipped cream and delighted when I found the delicious sounding Café con Panna! 

    Café con Panna just means espresso with cream, and is basically an old-fashioned version of a latté. I didn't want to have any whipped cream left over, so I loaded up a little more than usual on top of the espresso (though, in my opinion, you can't have too much homemade whipped cream). Homemade whipped cream is very simple - it only requires patience and a little know-how to get a better result than what you could spray out of a can. Get the full recipe below!

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Ingredients: Homemade Whipped Cream

- 2 tsp. of sugar

- 1 cup of heavy whipping cream

Ingredients: Café con Panna

- 2 oz. (or half a cup) of fresh brewed espresso

- all of the whipped cream you want

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Directions:

1. Chill your mixing bowl in the freezer for 5 minutes (this will help the cream hold its shape once whipped). Once chilled, whip your cream and sugar in a stand mixer on medium-high speed for 8 minutes (or until soft peaks begin to form).

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2. Spoon whipped cream on top of your warm espresso (little fingers stealing your cream is unavoidable here). 

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3. Stir and enjoy! 

     Thanks for reading, and have a fun Wednesday! I'm headed home to Arkansas this weekend to spend quality time with my family before my birthday on Wednesday (25! Woo!!). We'll be spending a day in Bentonville, so I'll share about that excursion on my Instagram and here next week! See you then!

To Make / Rustic Italian Pizza Dough

 
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     Good morning! If there's one classic Italian food that's universally loved, it has to be pizza. I've never met a person who at least doesn't love the concept of pizza (though have met people who don't like cheese on pizza, or sometimes sauce - I definitely understand the latter, but not the former LOL). That being said, one of my summer goals is to perfect my homemade pizza crust! I think I've gotten it pretty close to my favorite kind of rustic pizza crust, and that means it's time to share! 

    This dough is low prep, has a personalized rising time, and is just bread-y enough. Get the full recipe below!

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Ingredients:

- 5 cups of flour

- 1 + 1/4 cups of cold water

- 1 + 1/2 tsp. of yeast

- 1 + 1/2 tsp. of sea salt

- 2 tbs. of olive oil

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Directions:

1. Combine dry ingredients in a stand mixer. Pour in water and stir until dough is just coming together, then switch to your bread hook attachment. Beat dough in mixer for 8 minutes. 

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2. Flip dough out onto a floured surface, and seperate into 5-6 dough balls. Brush with olive oil and cover. Let rise at room temperature for 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on how chewy you want the dough to be (the longer you let it rise, the less chewy it will be). 

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3. Either store in the fridge/freezer or bake immediately. To bake, preheat oven to 450 and form your crust by smoothing a dough ball out with the palms of your hands (not your finger tips!) into a circle. Prebake your crust for 5 minutes before adding toppings, then bake for another 5. Enjoy!

      Thanks for reading, and have a fun Wednesday!

To Freeze / Peach Lassi Sorbet

 
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     Good morning! I've recently gotten into Bon Appetit magazine and all of their delicious recipe ideas! I can't believe it, but for my 25th birthday I've requested their magazine subscription as my gift from my parents - which I haven't done in close to ten years. Print will never be dead in my mind! Today's recipe comes from Bon Appetit's August issue, and it's been Bailey's favorite since I made it (girl loves her peaches and blackberries). 

     It's a twist on a traditional sorbet (originally formed from the Italian sorbetto), the twist being the lassi aspect. A lassi is an Indian yogurt drink that is highly refreshing and perfect for whipping into sorbet! Not to mention, adds a little more healthiness to an already healthy dessert - so, win-win. Get the recipe below!

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Ingredients:

- 1/2 cup of greek yogurt

- 4 very ripe peaches

- 1/4 cup and 2 tbs. of honey

- 1 tsp. of salt

- half a lemon for juicing

- a handful of ripe blackberries

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Directions:

1. Dice your peaches and blend with greek yogurt, salt, and 1/4 cup of honey. Press a sheet of parchment paper on the surface and let freeze for a minimum of 6 hours. 

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2. When ready to serve, macerate your blackberries by lightly crushing half, then combining with juice from half a lemon, 2 tbs. of honey, and the rest of the blackberries. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving. 

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3. Scoop out your sorbet and top with your blackberries.

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4. Enjoy! Preferably (for me) with a particular 4 year old who has one bite, then comes right back for "just one more bite" until the whole cup is gone. :)

     Thanks for reading, and have a fun Wednesday!

To Toss / A Cantaloupe Panzanella

 
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     Hi there! I hope your summer is going amazing so far! We're almost smack in the middle of the season, and it's weirdly cooler most days now than it was before it was even technically summer. LOL. We're soaking it up while we can though, spending days outside, grilling up a storm, and enjoying all of the refreshing produce! My farmers market pick of this week? Cantaloupe! I used to despise it, but have found it doesn't merit that opinion when paired with fresh herbs. I took that idea and applied it to a new favorite summery Italian salad: panzanella! 

    Panzanella is traditionally a bread and tomato laden salad, originating from Tuscany. Any salad that includes chunks of bread needs little improvement, but I couldn't resist tossing in cucumbers and sharp white cheddar along with the aforementioned cantaloupe and fresh herbs (basil, in this case)! Dressed in a simple balsamic vinaigrette, this salad will surely put a smile on your face - especially if you're in more sweltering conditions than we're experiencing. Get the recipe below! 

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Ingredients (salad):

- 1 cup of cubed ripe cantaloupe

- 1 heaping cup of cubed bread (I used a baguette)

- half a ripe tomato, cubed

- 6 or so slices of cucumber

- 1/4 of an onion, sliced

- sharp white cheddar (parmesan would also be amazing!)

- a few basil leaves

Ingredients (vinaigrette):

- 1/4 cup of olive oil

- 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar

- a pinch each of salt and pepper

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Directions:

1. Toast your bread cubes until crispy and slightly charred. While bread is toasting, whisk together balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and s+p.

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2. Add tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and cantaloupe. Toss with your vinaigrette.

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3. Top with fresh cheese and torn basil leaves. 

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4. Toss once more, and serve cold with an iced coffee (or a light pinot gris if you're in the Italian mindset!). Enjoy!

     Thanks for reading, and have a fun Wednesday!

To Make / Vegan Peach Panna Cotta

 
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     Hi there! Peaches are abundant at every market right now, and nothing says middle-of-summer like a ripe peach. To bring in peach season right, I figured a healthy-ish peach panna cotta would be the perfect summery Italian treat! Panna cotta is a cream based, gelatinized dessert that can have any flavor you want (thought typical flavors are vanilla or coffee). To make it a little more acceptable for eating by the bowl-full, I switched out the cream with coconut milk - which also allows me to forgo the gelatin as that always creeps me out when I have to use it for some reason. When refrigerated, coconut milk forms a thick and smooth texture, much like a gelatin! With the addition of a few sprigs of mint from our garden, this dessert is as refreshing as it gets (which is ideal considering the relentless heat)! Get the full recipe below!

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Ingredients:

- one ripe peach

- one large sprig of mint

- one can of full-fat coconut milk

- 1/4 cup of honey

- 1 tsp. of vanilla

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Directions:

1. Slice and dice your peach, and tear up your mint!

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2. Purée the peaches and mint together in a blender, along with a little water. 

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3. Combine peach mixture with can of coconut milk, honey, and vanilla in a stand mixer. Mix until fully combined and then pour into two small ramekins or into one large bowl, then refrigerate for 20 minutes.

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4. Serve with more peaches + mint. Enjoy!

    Thanks for reading, and have a fun Wednesday!

To Share / Our Weekend + Rosato Sangria

 
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     Good morning! I took a bit of June off from doing much of anything, what with vacation and the almost rude heat we had, but I'm back! After my long absence, I thought it'd be fun to share a few snapshots from our weekend along with this week's recipe: rosato sangria. First up, my Italian twist on the spanish batch cocktail! 

    My best friend Cat was in town on Friday from St. Louis, so I made this for our favorite pastime - pizza, netflix, and gabbing. It was delicious and fresh, and what we didn't finish lasted me the rest of the weekend! Ahhh, batch cocktails. Get the how-to below!

Ingredients:

- A bottle of dry-ish rosato wine (the Italian version of rosé)

- half a cup of vodka

- sparkling water

- fresh strawberries, quartered

- ice

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Directions:

1. Add strawberries and ice to a tall pitcher. Then pour in your vodka, rosé, and top with enough sparkling water to fill your pitcher. Stir and pour over ice - enjoy!

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      Our weekend mostly consisted of lounging in the A/C, venturing out of doors solely to play in our kiddie pool in the backyard or to peruse the farmers market. Bailey only found the farmers market acceptable because she got to pick one thing to purchase - and shocker! It was blueberries. 

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     I picked up a delicious scone from a local bakery, those blueberries, some fresh eucalyptus, a lavender kombucha, and wild baby carrots!

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       As of typing this, these carrots are about gone. They go perfectly with some red pepper hummus! 

      All-in-all, it was a very nice weekend despite the heat! Our plans for the Fourth are to set off some fireworks in Columbia, then head to the lake for the weekend. I'm looking forward to whipping up this Grand Aioli and roasting some s'mores! Thanks for reading, and have a fun Tuesday!

To Make / Homemade Ricotta

 
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     Buongiorno friends! With summer weather in full swing, it's time to head to Italy - or to their food, at least! Full disclosure: I have been to Italy, and we did eat a lot of delicious food (mainly gelato) while there - but I want to dive deeper than just the standard Italian food that everyone and their nonna has had. Italy has many different regions (that were all their own sovereign states up until the mid-19th century - yup, Italy wasn't unified until about 150 years ago), and therefore, many different cuisines. I want to explore all of them - starting with a cornerstone of many Italian regions: ricotta! You can buy a tub of ricotta in any grocery store, but it's one of the easiest cheeses to make at home - and now that I've made it, I think it tastes 5,000 times better than store bought. I smeared mine on whole wheat toast, and made a quick strawberry jam from the strawberries in our garden - very simple, very fresh, and one of the most delicious things I've eaten in awhile! Find the recipe below, and happy cheese-making!

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     Ingredients: 

- 3 cups whole milk
- 3/4 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar

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Directions:

1. Combine milk, heavy cream, and salt in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until warm. Turn up your heat slightly, and add vinegar and lemon juice. Continue to stir occasionally until mixture curdles - about 5 minutes. 

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2. Remove from heat and pour over a cheesecloth into your container. Let strain for about 20 minutes. 

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3. Once strained, use as you like! The ricotta will keep for about a week in the fridge. 

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4. Enjoy! (Preferably the Italian way - on bread with fruit and an espresso :))

    Thanks for reading, and have a fun Tuesday!

To Grill / Honey Ginger Kebabs

 
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     Good morning! For my second and last Asian-inspired recipe of Spring (the quickest season here - it's already consistently 85-90+ degrees every day), I decided to work with a new-to-me ingredient - ginger! Obviously, I've had ginger-flavored things before, but I've never used it myself. Seeing as it's a prevalent flavor in many Asian dishes, now seemed as good a time as any to try it out! Using Half Baked Harvest's recipe for a honey-ginger glaze for salmon, I whipped up my own glaze for chicken kebabs instead, as chicken is the favored protein in my house (I like salmon now, but am generally outnumbered by Brett and Bailey on this subject). Post-grilling, I de-skewered the chicken, onions, and peppers, and combined them with quinoa, mango, and more sauce. It was the perfect bright lunch for my Friday! Get the recipe below!

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Ingredients: Honey Ginger Glaze

- 1 tablespoon sesame oil

- 2/3 cup of honey

- 2 tbs. of sambal oelek

- 2 tbs. soy sauce

- 1 in piece of peeled ginger, minced

- juice of one lime

Ingredients: Kebab Bowl

- 2 small chicken tenderloins

- a few slices of red pepper and onion, chopped

- 1/2 cup of cooked quinoa

- 1/4 cup of diced mango

- 1/2 cup of Honey Ginger Glaze

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Directions:

1. Whisk together all ingredients for glaze and set aside.

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2. Skewer your chicken, peppers, and onions while grill heats up. Then baste kebabs with glaze and grill. 

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3. Remove from grill and baste again. 

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4. Prepare your bowl: combine quinoa with grilled meat, peppers, and onions. 

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5. Top with mango and more glaze.

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7. Enjoy!

    Thanks for reading, and have a fun Monday! We'll see you back here next week for our first recipe inspired by (you guessed it) Italy! 

To Blend / A Cucumber Mint Cooler

 
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     Good morning! When planning out this season's recipes, I decided I want to focus on a different region's cuisine for each season. Each different region has a distinct seasonal feel to it's classic dishes, and the one the screamed spring to me was Asia! Asian cuisine is so veggie focused, with bright and fresh flavors that make the most sense for spring dishes - so with that, I'll introduce this cocktail to you. 

      Cucumbers are growing on me, and are ripe for the picking at the moment. We have some  in our garden, but until they too are ready to be harvested, farmer's market ones are the best option! Our mint in the garden, however, is constantly sprouting leaves and happens to pair perfectly with cucumber. Those two ingredients are the bones of this cocktail, and make for the perfect apertif on a warm spring evening. Get the full recipe below!

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Ingredients:

- 1 small cucumber, peeled

- a handful of mint leaves, plus a couple for garnishing 

- 1/2 cup of vodka

- 1/2 cup of lemon juice

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Directions:

1. Combine all ingredients in a blender.

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2. Blend until smooth and thin.

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3. Pour and garnish with mint leaves. Enjoy!

      Thanks for reading! I don't want to fully reveal where we're metaphorically visiting for the summer season, but I will say one thing - the goal of the summer will be living la dolce vita. ;) Have a fun week!