Thursday, August 30, 2012

Checking in

Hey friends! I'm stopping by as a quick hello from the cozy chair in our cabin in the mountians. Okay, it's not exactly our cabin but it's our rental for the week and the internet on the side of a mountain isn't the most reliable.

I hope you're all enjoying these unofficial last few days of summer...

Friday, August 24, 2012

Sweet Summer Endings...

 I wrote a primitive post on this earlier in the summer, but D and I have made it our mission this summer to really perfect some guiltless banana ice cream (made only from frozen, ripe bananas & a splash of vanilla extract). With the summer winding down, there's limited opportunities to truly be enjoying the frozen treat, so here's a few different ways to jazz up the basics. See the full recipes and photos over at Minted ! (pssss. have you "liked" Minted on Facebook yet?)

--of course I'm a girl of traditional likes myself, so go head and add some sprinkles (or jimmies) if that's what floats your boat, some whipped topping and a bright red, delicious cherry on top!

With so many 'do it yourself' yogurt bars out there...what's your favorite way to dress up your frozen goodness?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Summer Peach Cake

Living in the southeast, one of the best things about summer is the abundance of sweet, juicy eastern peaches. This cake is simple to throw together and is every bit as delicious to end a meal as it is along side a cup of coffee in the morning. I recommend doubling the recipe so you can hide one away for yourself for after your family goes to bed.

Summer Peach Cake
  • 2-3 medium/large peaches
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 1/4 c unsalted butter
  • 1-1/2 c flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c milk
  • 1-2 tsp ground cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 325. Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla. Then add the egg and combine. Add in the dry ingredients and combine. Last, add the milk. 

Pour the batter in a 9 inch round or a 9x9 square pan, and smooth with a spatula. Peel and slice and peaches and cover the top of the cake in a single layer of peaches. Sprinkle the top with the cinnamon.

Bake for 20-30 minutes, checking after 20 until a knife or toothpick comes out clean from the center. (An 8-inch round will take 45-50 minutes and will almost over flow--so it's not recommended, but is possible). 

*If you couldn't tell from the new table runner and bushel of apples we are so ready for fall around here. Next week things will be quiet as we take on the mountains of North Carolina...if you aren't already, follow me on instagram @ ktvcox

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Game Day Food Take 2...

How about those wings, huh? Well the game day food didn't stop there--baked meatball parm subs were also on the menu--but with only 30 minutes to get them together. Ground beef keeps things simple while some fresh touches jazz up a jarred tomato sauce to make things seems like you've been simmering in the kitchen all day long. Perfect for any night of the week or any big game event (think a platter of sliders along side of those wings!)

Week Night Italian Style Meatballs
  • 1 lb ground beef (for meatballs and burgers I rarely use anything leaner than 93/7)
  • 1 egg
  • ~ 1 tsp salt
  • ~ 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • ~1 tbsp granulated garlic
  • ~1 tbsp Italian seasoning ( I swear by this variety)
  • ~ 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • ~ 1/3 c Italian style bread crumbs
  • ~ 2 tbsp olive oil
  • hoagie rolls*
  • shaved Parmesan cheese*
* indicates extra ingredients for subs

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees & line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Put your ground beef (or turkey!) into a bowl and create a well in the center. Throw in the rest of the ingredients except the olive oil. Mix thoroughly with both of your hands---listen ladies, the kitchen is a place to get dirty sometimes and last time I checked no one died from touching red meat---except maybe the unfortunate ones that immedately licked their fingers cleaned before giving them a good scrubbing. Create a uniform ball of meat and score it into four equal portions with the side of your hand (this will help make sure your balls are pretty uniform in size).

Make three meatballs per 1/4 section of meat, for a total of 12 meatballs. Roll them between your hands until they're uniform in size and shape and place them on the baking sheet. When all 12 balls are made drizzle the olive oil over the balls and then roll the balls in the extra oil for a very light coating. This step will help get that crisp, golden brown crust on the outside that I remembered from both my grandma and dad frying their meatballs on the stove top...

Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes, turn them, and bake an additional 10 minutes.

Weeknight Sauce
  • 1 jar tomato based pasta sauce
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 yellow onion finely chopped
  • ~10 fresh basil leaves finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste
In a medium sauce pan heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and season with salt and pepper and cook for about 5 minutes until the onions start to soften. Grate in the garlic cloves and cook an additional 2-3 minutes until fragrant but not browned. Add the jar of sauce and mix well. Reduce the heat to low and cover for about 10 minutes (while the meatballs finish up in the oven, stirring occasionally). Stir in the basil.

Assembling the subs...

Remove the meatballs from the baking sheet and place them in the sauce. Slice hoagie rolls long ways and place them in a baking dish with atleast a 1" side (I used an 8" round for 2 subs). Cut the meatballs in half (I just used the side of the spoon), and fill the rolls with meatballs (about 4-5 halves per 6" sub) and top with a few shavings of cheese. Place under the broiler 2-4 minutes until just starting to brown on top.

Hope you guys are keeping it cooking in the kitchen! We're going downtown to run some errands and go on a lunch date to a little local place. I'm looking forward to trying something new and maybe stopping by a cupcake shop!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Wing Things...

The past two weeks of watching the Olympics felt like getting ready to watch 'the big game' every night. D and I would rush home from work, whip up something for dinner, and plant ourselves in front of the big screen to watch the prime time showdowns of the best athletes in the world. We laughed and we cried and pretended for days that we were gymnasts and world class swimmers. (you know you frolicked a little bit more yourself around the house after watching the gymnastics.)

In the mix of the games I found myself in the kitchen being inspired by game day food..and nothing screams game day like chicken wings. I never attempted wings before and couldn't have been happier with our grilled results. It took just a few ingredients and was only a fraction of what a basket of wings cost at a restaurant. In 20 minutes we had 2 dozen wings ready to be devoured. 

 Grilled Game Day Wings
  • chicken wing portions and drumettes (the portions already have the tips removed)
  • hot sauce, like Frank's Red Hot (or other favorite sauce like bbq)
  • unsalted butter
Preheat your grill to medium high. Place the wings on the grill, skin side down and grill for 8 minutes. Flip the wings and cook an additional 8-9 minutes until they become crispy brown and bubbles are forming under the skin.

While the wings are grilling, melt 1/3 c of butter and stir in 1/2 c of hot sauce for traditional hot wings.

Remove the wings from the grill and place them in a large bowl. Pour the hot sauce over the wings and seal with the lid of the bowl OR a larger bowl to make a lid. Hold on tight and shake to coat the wings. Serve with bleu cheese, ranch and celery.

We had a small jar of Roasted Raspberry Chipolte sauce that we tossed a few of the wings with, those babies were delicious. 

Quick bleu cheese dipping sauce
  • ~ 1/3 c mayo
  • ~ 1/4 sour cream
  • ~1/3 c crumbled bleu cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ~2 tbsp red wine or white wine vinegar
Mix together, if too thin add a little bit more sour cream/mayo.

Not exactly the breakfast of champions...

Friday, August 10, 2012

Crispy Topping Salmon

I'm always looking for new ways to prepare seafood. It's not something we ate a whole lot of growing up so it's always a little bit of a challenge to dream up some new flavor combinations and toppings. I came across this recipe and decided to give it a try. Since then it's become a household favorite that we've had three times in the past two weeks. I love a meal transforming recipe that's based off of basic pantry staples and this is definitely one to add into the rotation. *The topping can be refrigerated for up to a week and still comes out nice and crispy.

Basic Pantry Items:
  • 2 tbsp mayo
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 c Italian style bread crumbs
  • 1 clove grated garlic
  • 1 small onion finely chopped (I always try to keep a bag of regular old onions around, when kept in a cool, dark place they'll last for a month).
  • salmon filets (I buy frozen salmon filets in bulk so I always have them on hand!)
Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion, season with salt and cook for about 5 minutes. Grate in the garlic and cook an additional 2-3 minutes until the onions are soft. 

In a small bowl combine the onion mixture, bread crumbs, mayo, mustard powder and salt and pepper. Mix into a paste and spread into an even layer across the salmon. Bake at 400 degrees for 12 minutes. Broil for an additional 2-4 minutes to crisp the topping, keeping a close eye on the topping to prevent burning.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Silky Smooth

 Okay, so this IS a recipe post, but not one that ends in consuming any calories, hooray! (Don't quit reading, the results are just as indulgent as any dessert!)

I used to love sugar scrubs for my legs when I lived at home with my parents. For holidays I'd receive bath  sets that smelled of vanilla and baked goods and always included a thick and coarse sugar scrub that always left me feeling refreshed and pampered. Then I grew up, moved out and had to buy my own toilet paper. (The real things people should prepare you for in adulthood. Was this not a shock to anyone else?) Ever since I haven't splurged on many beauty products.

I found this gem on Pintrest (but naturally cannot locate it again for the source) and decided to give it a try. It uses cheap ingredients and requires little to no skill. If you can use a spoon you are set. The results are incredible and indulgent-- silky smooth legs that I couldn't stop running my fingers over as I finished up my newest summer read.

In a plastic container (I used a regular tupperwear container and transferred the mixture into an old shampoo bottle) combine 1 1/4 c white sugar, 1/2 c oil (I used vegetable oil since it's cheap and has no odor), and 3 tbsp citrus juice--you don't even need a fresh lemon. * A few drops of your favorite fragrance oil would be great also (lavender or citrus would be lovely if you're into that kinda thing). 

confession, this is not tupperwear.. that stuff does not photograph well.

Soak your legs for a few minutes..or wash your hair first...scrub them down with the mixture you just made and shave them (without rinsing after scrubbing). Don't worry--just rinse your razor after every few swipes, you should be fine. After doing both legs once, repeat the cycle--including the shaving. Follow up with some thick lotion for your legs and a squirt of kitchen dish soap for your shower (the soap will cut the grease from the oil so you don't create a dangerous, slippery situation in your shower). Your legs will never be smoother or feel so refreshed.

Monday, August 6, 2012

To breaking a summer slump...

It's been a short while friends and for my absence I am terribly sorry. July has been an interesting month for me, and by interesting I mostly mean challenging. I've felt recluse and uninspired, which has left my blogging well a little dry. I tend to let my emotions show, at least a little bit, so it's hard for me to put on a happy face around here and pretend that I'm the happiest little home-making blogger. That's not me...that's not real. There's been no significant trials or circumstances--maybe the heat has finally gotten to me and I'm just a little cranky--but regardless, it leaves me running for comforts and old favorites and not very much exciting news for you guys. 

Maybe I need to bake myself one of these--an Unbirthday Cake by my new blogger friend Nico of Satin & Salt  who just needed to make a few wishes.  

I've been reading this new release--but my Nook recently bit the dust, meaning I can only read my Nook books inside on my iPad while I'm back to paperbacks for direct sunlight. 

I tried a "relaxing, DIY sugar scrub" via pintrest for an at home spa treatment. If nothing else, my legs have never been smoother...I'll make a separate post on this later because it DID work and it WAS easy and I am very happy I took that plunge into some DIYing from pintrest that took mere minutes to make (my kind of project).

I also found a tasty new salmon recipe that I'd love to share with you, too.

All is reasonably well and with any luck I'll be back in full force in the kitchen very soon. Some new kitchen gadgets can't hurt as motivation either.

plus, how bad can things be when there's a gazillion pictures of Ryan Lochte on pintrest? 

How do you beat your slumps?