Pavlova with Boozy Berry Sauce

One of my favorite courses in college was food science. I loved that we got to spend lab time cooking and learning why cookies brown when baking or how soufflés hold their structure. Making the meringue for this pavlova recipe took me back to those college days. Several blogs I read have published delicious recipes and gorgeous photos of this meringue based dessert. It seemed like the perfect dessert for a summer – light, airy, and doused in seasonal fruit. Since this month’s recipe redux challenge called for a recipe with spirits, a boozy berry sauce was the perfect topping. The little bit of brandy in the berry sauce really balanced out the sweetness of the meringue.

Pavlova with Boozy Blueberry Sauce  Don’t be intimidated by this recipe. I was totally nervous about making a meringue but it was actually much easier than I thought. Nothing to be scared about. :-) I used this pavlova recipe I found on The Kitchn for my pavlova and it turned out great the first time around. 

Pavlova with Boozy Blueberry Sauce

Pavlova with Boozy Berry Sauce
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
This elegant, yet simple dessert is light and airy and perfect for summer! Balance out the pavlova's sweetness with a bit of blueberry sauce spiked with brandy.
Ingredients
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons brandy
Instructions
  1. Separate egg whites from 4 eggs into a bowl. Let the whites sit out until they are room temperature.
  2. Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
  3. Line a cookie sheet with wax paper. Use a glass to trace 6 three inch circles onto the wax paper. Flip the paper over so the side you drew on is facing the cookie sheet. (So you don't get marker/pen on your pavlova.)
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar and cornstarch. In another small bowl, combine the vanilla and vinegar.
  5. In a clean mixing bowl, whip egg whites until they reach soft peak stage. Begin adding the sugar/cornstarch mixture a couple tablespoons at a time. Keep whipping until you have added all of the sugar. (The peaks should begin to stiffen.)
  6. Sprinkle the vinegar/vanilla mixture over the eggs. Whip until combined and eggs look shiny with stiff peaks.
  7. Use a spatula or large spoon to scoop the meringue into the circles made on the cookie sheet. Spread meringue up the edges of the circles, smoothing out any small peaks. Make a slight depression in the meringue in the center of each circle (for filling later).
  8. Place meringues in the oven and immediately turn the heat down to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until meringues sound hollow when tapped.
  9. Leave the meringues in the oven but turn off the heat and leave the oven door ajar. Let meringues cool completely in the oven.
  10. To make the sauce, heat the blueberries, lemon juice, and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally. After about 5 minutes, the berries should begin to break down and form a sauce. Use a potato masher to break apart the berries even more. Once a thick sauce is formed turn off heat and stir in the brandy. Set aside to cool.
  11. To assemble the pavlova, top each meringue with a ¼ cup of fresh blueberries and pour cooled sauce over top.

Pavlova with Boozy Blueberry Sauce

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Zucchini Pesto Pasta

This zucchini pesto pasta dish is honestly the quintessential dish for summer. I started with this bowl of fresh basil and created a simple pesto with parmesan, olive oil, and walnuts. Is there anything better than the aroma of fresh basil as you are picking through the leaves? Mmm….

Fresh Basil

 Once the pesto was made, I used  a vegetable peeler to make zucchini ribbons. The ribbons were then quickly steamed and tossed into an ice bath to stop the cooking and keep them from getting mushy. After draining, you toss them in the pesto, sprinkle with additional parmesan and a few cherry tomatoes. Serve it up in a bowl and you have a light, yet satisfying meal that is also gluten free and super delicious. 

Zucchini Pesto Pasta

Zucchini Pesto Pasta
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree, Main
Cuisine: Vegetarian, Gluten Free
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
Lighten up your normal pasta dinner by substituting zucchini ribbons for the pasta. Perfect for hot summer nights when you don't want to spend much time at the stove!
Ingredients
  • 2 zucchini
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups basil leaves
  • ¼ cup walnuts
  • Dash of salt and black pepper
  • 2 ounces parmesan cheese + extra for topping
  • Halved cherry tomatoes
Instructions
  1. To make the pesto, combine the fresh basil, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and walnuts in a food processor. Puree until no large pieces remain.
  2. Cut zucchini into ribbons by running peeler along the zucchini long ways. Save the inner seedy part for another recipe. Two zucchinis will make about 1½ - 2 cups of pasta.
  3. Salt the zucchinis and place in a colander. Let them sit for about 10 minutes then pat dry as best you can with some paper towels.
  4. Prepare a bowl of ice water.
  5. Heat water under a steamer basket. When boiling, add the zucchini ribbons to the steamer basket and cover. Cook for 1½ - 2 minutes.
  6. Toss the zucchini noodles into the ice bath for 1 minute. Pour into a colander to drain off the cold water and pick out any remaining ice cubes.
  7. Toss the zucchini ribbons in the pesto and top each individual serving with additional parmesan and cherry tomatoes.

  Zucchini Pesto Pasta

20 Healthy Snacks for Work

  20 Healthy Snacks for Work When the siren call of the vending machine hits you around 3 o’clock in the afternoon, be prepared with an arsenal of healthier alternatives! These snacks all provide a satisfying balance of protein, fiber, and fat to keep your stomach from growling again before dinner time.  

1.  Hummus (3-4 tablespoons) and fresh vegetables.

2. One ounce of nuts.  Almonds are my favorite!

3. Apple and 2 tablespoons peanut butter. 

4. Yogurt (1/2 cup) and dried fruit or granola.

5. Trail mix (1/3-1/2 cup).

6. Homemade granola bars. Try these banana oat bars with dark chocolate drizzle for a healthier alternative to store bought granola bars. 

7. Small latte. To flavor, just add a dash or two of cinnamon and nutmeg at the counter where they set the milk. You’ll save yourself a lot of calories and added sugar by skipping any flavored syrups. You could also ask for soy milk. Most places use the sweetened version so it has just enough sweetness to make it easy to skip the flavored syrup.

8. Popcorn. Check out my smoky chili popcorn for a spicy, salty twist!

9. Sliced cheese, veggies, and whole grain crackers.

10. Cottage cheese (1/2 cup) and fresh fruit. 

11. Plain yogurt (1/2 cup) and fresh berries. 

12. Fruit smoothie made with 1/2 cup yogurt or milk and 1/2 cup fruit.

13. Cheese stick and frozen grapes. 

14. Almond butter (2 tablespoons) and a fresh pear.

15. Whole grain toast topped with mashed avocado (1/2) and black pepper.

16. Hard boiled egg and a fresh peach (or other fruit).

17. Handful of whole grain tortilla chips and 1/3 cup salsa.

18. Homemade fresh fruit salad (3/4 cup)

19. Kale chips. Check out this recipe to make your own at home.

20. Roasted soy nuts or endamame. Soy nuts are packed with fiber and protein and when roasted make for a tasty snack with a bit of crunch.

Vegetarian Huevos Rancheros

Can we all agree that tofu is a little weird, right? In fact, the firm tofu kind of reminds me of jello cubes… Since becoming a vegetarian, tofu has always been lower on my list of plant-based protein choices at dinner. Yet, every once in a while I see some great recipe with tofu that I have just got to try. One of those quirky recipes was making scrambled tofu as a replacement for scrambled eggs. The perfect vehicle for delivering scrambled tofu? A corn tortilla with a layer of beans and green chile otherwise known as huevos rancheros!

Vegan/Vegetarian Huevos Rancheros

I know this actually just looks like a hot mess on a corn tortilla, but I promise that it is actually really good! Plus, it comes together in a matter of minutes for a quick and filling breakfast OR dinner. Make these vegan by just leaving off the cheese and subbing oil for the butter when making the “refried” beans. 

Vegan/Vegetarian Huevos Rancheros

Vegetarian Huevos Rancheros
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree, Breakfast, Dinner
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
A simple vegetarian meal that comes together in under 30 minutes that is perfect for busy evenings. Beans and tofu add lots of filling protein to these vegetarian huevos rancheros!
Ingredients
  • 4 Corn Tortillas (6" Round)
  • 2 cups cooked kidney beans
  • 3 tablespoons chopped green onion (~3 spears)
  • 1 tablespoon butter (or oil if vegan)
  • ½ cup vegetable broth
  • ¼ cup chopped red bell pepper (~1/3 pepper)
  • 2 pinches baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 8 ounce package extra firm tofu
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • 4 tablespoons canned green chile
Instructions
  1. Remove the tofu from the package and press under something heavy to squeeze out some of the extra moisture. Set aside to press while you start the beans.
  2. To make the beans, melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add beans, green onion, red bell pepper and broth. Simmer for 4-6 minutes. Stir in the vinegar and baking soda. Begin to mash the beans using the back of a wooden spoon and cook for another 2 minutes until liquid is absorbed an beans are well mashed.
  3. Place the pressed tofu in a medium bowl. Using a butter knife, roughly chop into ½" pieces. Heat a non-stick skillet over low heat and add the tofu. Sprinkle with turmeric and cumin and stir to evenly coat. Cook for 3-5 minutes or until the tofu is no longer releasing excess moisture.
  4. Toast the corn tortillas for 2-3 minutes in a toaster oven until crisp.
  5. Assemble huevos rancheros by spreading the ¼ of the bean mixture on a tortilla, then topping with ¼ the "eggs", 1 tablespoon green chile and other desired toppings.

Blueberry, Hazelnut, and Feta Kale Salad

Oh my goodness, I am so excited to tell you about this salad. Blueberry season is finally here and this salad is the perfect way to highlight their deliciousness. In fact, I put them on top of this salad as well as in the dressing. Mmm…

Blueberry, Barley, and Hazelnut Kale Salad

The best part about kale salads is that the flavors get even better when you serve the leftovers. I made this huge salad for myself and have been doling out single servings into containers for my lunch at work. It makes lunch prep when I am still half asleep in the mornings super easy!

Blueberry-Salad

In addition to being delicious, this salad is a nutrition powerhouse!

  • Kale: We all know now that kale is super good for you. One cup of chopped raw kale has over 100% of your nutrient needs for Vitamins A, C, and K. That one serving has only 33 calories too.
  • Blueberries: These cute berries are high in polyphenols which research indicates play an active role in alleviating inflammation. Most recently, research has linked blueberries with a slower rate of cognitive decline with age.
  • Hazelnuts: Hazelnuts are super high in a nutrient called manganese. Although you don’t hear much about it, manganese plays an active role in metabolism, bone development, and wound healing. Hazelnuts are also a good source of heart healthy monounsaturated fats. 
  • Barley: Barley supports intestinal health in two ways: (1) it adds bulk to stool alleviating constipation and (2) feeds gut bacteria which break it down into short chain fatty acids to fuel the intestinal cells lining your gut.

Blueberry, Barley, and Hazelnut Kale Salad

Blueberry, Hazelnut, and Feta Kale Salad
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree, Main, Salad
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Blueberries, kale, and hazelnuts pair perfectly in this delicious summer salad that is packed with antioxidants.
Ingredients
  • FOR THE DRESSING:
  • ⅓ cup fresh blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • Dash of Salt and Pepper
  • FOR THE SALAD:
  • 1 cup barley
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • ⅔ cup hazelnuts
  • 4 cups chopped kale
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 2 ounces crumbled feta cheese
Instructions
  1. Combine the barley, water, and broth in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a rolling boil, then cover and turn heat down to low. Simmer for 20-30 minutes or until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the barley is softened. Reserve 1 cup of cooked barley for the salad and store the rest.(Note: You'll have leftovers which you can use for dinner the next day!)
  2. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the hazelnuts and roast for 5-7 minutes or until aromatic. Set aside to cool. Once cooled, use a folded towel to rub the skins off of the hazelnuts.
  3. Wash the kale, cut out the stems, and chop into 1" pieces.
  4. To prepare the dressing, pour all the ingredients into a blender. (If your blender has a single serving cup, that works best.) Puree until smooth.
  5. To make the salad, put the kale into a bowl, top with blueberries, barley, hazelnuts, and feta cheese. Pour dressing over top and toss to coat.

 

5 Tips for a Healthier Smoothie

5 Healthy Smoothie Tips

Smoothies are such a great go-to breakfast for hot, sunny summer days. The variations are endless and they are so refreshing. Since there are a million and one different smoothie recipes online, here are a couple of tips for getting the most from your morning smoothie.

1. Skip the fruit juice. Skip the fruit juice and use whole fruit for your smoothie. When fruit is juiced, you miss out on all of the fiber which is important for satiety and blood sugar control post-breakfast. Add a quartered orange to your smoothie and you will add 3 grams of fiber while pouring in a cup of orange juice only adds 0.5 grams. Another reason you should choose the whole fruit is to curb your overall sugar intake. When fruit is juiced, it concentrates the sugar, almost doubling the sugar of the whole fruit. For example, a cup of orange juice has almost twice the sugar as a whole orange (21 grams vs 12 grams). 

2. Add some protein. Protein is promotes satiety and prevents mid-morning munchies at work. If you use yogurt or regular milk in your smoothie and you’ll add quite a bit of protein. However, if you prefer coconut or almond milk in your smoothies, make sure to mix in some nut butter or protein powder as non-dairy milk is often lacking in protein. Peanut butter, milk, and yogurt add filling protein to this nutty banana coffee smoothie

3. Incorporate some fat. Like protein, fat will also make your smoothie both filling and delightfully creamy. Fat can be added in a variety of ways: whole milk, full fat yogurt, nut butter, avocado, full fat coconut milk, chia seeds, ground flax seeds, etc. This matcha tea green smoothie is made super creamy with a bit of full fat canned coconut milk. 

4. Sneak in some veggies. You might have noticed, green smoothies are all the rage right now! Many vegetables can be blended into smoothies with only minor changes to the overall flavor. I’ve found that spinach is best for beginners. However, feel free to experiment with kale, beets, cucumber, carrots, sweet potato and more. Check out my berry beet smoothie and try the whole veggies for breakfast thing out. 

5. Add a buzz with caffeine. Most of us start our mornings with a cup of coffee or strong tea to get us going. Why not add a little caffeine boost to your smoothie as well? Mix in some frozen coffee ice cubes or matcha green tea into your next smoothie, it’s delicious! Try out this tropical matcha tea smoothie, one of my favorites. 

White Chocolate and Blueberry Oatmeal Cookies

Blueberries are probably my favorite berry. My grandparents used to have a bunch of blueberry bushes around their house. Every summer we would flock to those bushes to grab up the sweet, tart little berries before the birds did! So, when I noticed a pint of blueberries at the market on Thursday for the first time this season, I snatched them up. Normally, I enjoy them as a yogurt topping for breakfast, but this time I wanted to do something a little different with these berries.

In an attempt to use up the half a bag of white chocolate chips that were hanging out in my pantry, I decided to make up a batch of blueberry white chocolate chip cookies. You may be thinking it’s a little weird to put blueberries in cookies, but trust me. These are amazing. I had seen this combo posted on a couple blogs and just had to try it out for myself.

White Chocolate and Blueberry Oatmeal Cookies

I used Smitten Kitchen’s thick, chewy oatmeal raisin cookie recipe for the base and added in the blueberries and white chocolate instead of raisins. I kept most everything in the recipe the same except for doubling the vanilla and omitting the cinnamon.

White Chocolate and Blueberry Oatmeal Cookies

White Chocolate and Blueberry Oatmeal Cookies

White Chocolate and Blueberry Oatmeal Cookies
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 30
 
Ingredients
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • ⅔ cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup all purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup blueberries
  • ¾ cup white chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Combine the butter, brown sugar, egg, and vanilla in a mixing bowl and beat until smooth.
  3. In a small bowl combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Pour into the mixing bowl with the butter mixture and beat until mixed in.
  4. Stir in the oats, blueberries, and chocolate chips.
  5. Scoop onto a cookie sheet by rounded tablespoons.
  6. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.
  7. Cool on a wire rack.

  White Chocolate Blueberry Oatmeal Cookies

Classic Calabacitas

One thing I’ve learned over the years I have been dating a New Mexico native is that they LOVE green chile. It’s not just any green chile either, it’s New Mexican Hatch green chile. Also, no spelling chile with an i, it’s an e! Since we usually only make the trip to Albuquerque to see Will’s family once a year or so, he misses it while we’re back here in Chicago. According to him, the chile in a can just doesn’t cut it. Luckily, his Mom has been sending vacuum sealed packs of it so he doesn’t feel too homesick.

Classic Calabacitas

Will recently introduced me to this dish called calabacitas which is perfect for the summer months when you have a ton of squash and zucchini to use on a regular basis. Plus, it is super simple to make! It also gets a lot of its flavor from the green chile he loves. Green chiles are surprisingly mild so don’t be intimidated by the 1/2 cup of chiles in this recipe. 

Classic Calabacitas

 

Classic Calabacitas
Author: 
Recipe type: Vegetable
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Make the most of summer's squash and zucchini in this classic calabacitas dish with roasted Hatch green chiles.
Ingredients
  • 7 cups chopped squash and zucchini (1/4-1/3" pieces)
  • ½ large onion, chopped
  • 2 cobs corn, kernels removed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup roasted green chile
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • ½ teaspoon red chili powder (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream for topping
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Toss the squash, onion, corn, and olive oil together in a large bowl. Pour into a 9"x11" glass baking dish. Spread into an even layer.
  3. Bake for 35 minutes or until squash is softened. Stir every 10 minutes or so.
  4. Stir in green chile and seasonings.
  5. Heat your broiler on high and cook the squash for another 7-10 minutes, stirring frequently. You just want to lightly brown some of the squash.
  6. Serve with shredded cheese and sour cream.

  Classic Calabacitas

Tempeh and Broccoli Stir Fry

There are so many inspiring and absolutely gorgeous food blogs in the world of the internet, sometimes it feels silly to keep up my own little blog. But then I think about all of the progress I have made in the kitchen and with my camera over the years since I started blogging and I can’t give it up. I love this little blog of mine. Although it will likely never have a huge following or gain much notoriety, it is still my space on the internet for sharing the yummy dishes that Will and I create on a regular basis with my handful of readers. (Thanks for being there!)

Broccoli Stir Fry

One of those recent creations that was a huge hit was this tempeh and brocoli stir fry. Oh. my. goodness! Will made up this super quick and colorful dish which is so fun to look at when served up in a bowl. The soy sauce marinade for this recipe is one we use a lot that comes from Mark Bittman’s cookbook, How to Cook Everything. (We use his book as a reference all the time!) Topped with a bit of sriracha or hoisin sauce, this was a filling and healthy meal.  Perfect for meatless Monday! For my non-vegetarian friends, I am sure that you can easily replace the tempeh with chicken or thinly sliced beef. 

Broccoli Stir Fry

Tempeh and Broccoli Stir Fry
Author: 
Recipe type: Dinner
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
Ingredients
  • 8 ounces tempeh, crumbled
  • ½ lb. Shirataki mushrooms
  • 1 quart broccoli heads
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • ½ onion, minced
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 2 tablespoons minced scallion
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, and scallion. Stir well.
  2. Wash and break broccoli heads apart into smaller pieces. Cut off stems and slice stems ¼ inch thick.
  3. Heat oil in a large skillet and add broccoli. Toss to coat in oil and cook over medium heat for 5-7 minutes. Add the onion, mushrooms, and carrot. Continue to cook until onion is translucent and broccoli is starting to get tender, about 7 minutes.
  4. Add the crumbled tempeh and the other 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Cook for another 5-7 minutes or until the broccoli is tender and tempeh is lightly browned.
  5. Pour soy sauce mixture over the broccoli and tempeh in the skillet. Stir well to coat the tempeh and vegetables. Cook for 2 minutes and serve.

 

Bitter End Cocktail

Will and I are huge comedy fans, which is part of the reason we love Chicago so much. One of the first stand-up shows we went to after moving here was in this dive bar/restaurant called The Lincoln Lodge. Halfway through the show, a representative from a liquor company called Malort, did a short talk and gave us all a sample. Let’s just pause there. Malort is not tasty.

Apparently, Malort is the shot you buy for your out-of-town friends just to see their face after drinking it. As new Chicagoans we had yet to experience it… With a healthy dose of wormwood and who knows what else, it tastes like you are drinking turpentine or some other kind of caustic liquid you may find in your Dad’s garage. The worst part is that taste doesn’t go away, it lingers… I should have guessed as much when their campaign is centered on describing just how bad it tastes. (It’s true!) Seems funny that I am sharing a cocktail made with this stuff then, huh? 

Bitter End Cocktail

We went back to this same comedy show recently with a friend and again experienced the free sample of Malort. Afterwards, Will really wanted to try it in a mixed drink. (Personally, I thought he was a little crazy!) He asked one bartender to come up with a mixed drink that would go well with Malort. Let’s just say, he wasn’t successful. 

 Last weekend, we went to a new-to-us bar in our neighborhood called The Owl. Wouldn’t you know, one of the first drinks on their menu advertised that it was mixed with Malort. So of course Will ordered that one. He tasted it… and it was good! I also gave it a try and was surprised that I actually enjoyed it! 

Of course, we almost immediately bought the supplies to continue to make it at home and share it will you! The sweetness of the Radler mellows out the bitterness of the Malort. It’s surprising how they pair so well together. If you can’t find Malort, or you’re not feeling adventurous enough to try it, a strong gin would also work well.

Bitter End Cocktail

Bitter End Cocktail
Recipe type: Drink
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
Ingredients
  • 3 ounces Malort liquor OR gin
  • 3 ounces fresh squeeze grapefruit juice
  • 1 - 16.9 ounce can Stiegl Radler
  • Ice
Instructions
  1. Place several ice cubes into each of your serving glasses.
  2. In a shaker, combine Malort and grapefruit juice. Shake and pour into prepared glasses.
  3. Top with the Radler and serve.

Bitter End Cocktail 3