Thursday, July 29, 2010

Football Time

I can't believe it's that time of the year again!

The Bengals are in town and my world is happy.

There's always such immense feeling of hope at the beginning. Let the football season begin!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Family Photos by M Photography

Back in July, we had our family pictures taken by our longtime friend, Melissa Cooper. We wanted to get some pictures before my brother left to travel the world for a year so we ventured out to the farm where my mom works to snap some photos. Melissa took some outstanding photos and there are so many great ones to choose from, but I am including some of my personal favorites from the day (there's too many for me to load all of them).


The family

My fantastic parents that raised me into who I am today

My brother simply doesn't take a bad picture!

The three most important men in my life.

Now of course you have to a pic of the ladies!

Seriously, could I have married a more adorable man? I'm smitten by him...

This is one of his favorites so I figured I'd include it.

I am so proud and honored to have him as my "little" brother.

We always said we needed to get one of all of us in our Bengals gear. This is what we typically look like on Sundays in September to January. Sundays will be one of the times I will miss my brother the most.

I just love the sky on this one!

And my personal, absolute most favorite........

This sums up my intense and ever-growing love for this incredibly handsome man that made me his bride several years ago. Sure, everyday life gets in the way of our love and respect for one another at times, but this man is my rock and I am forever linked to him. He makes each day special and meaningful for me. I consider myself extremely blessed and I thank God often for such a beautiful, full life that is full of love and joy.

Melissa, you captured our family beautifully! I can't say thank you enough!

Monday, July 26, 2010

My Ode to Corn

Oh my, I don't think I can tell you how much I love corn!

With our CSA, we've been getting at least 6 ears of corn a week. Some may get tired of all this corn, but not I. I usually run out before I get to try all the recipes I want and have to wait until the next week. There was actually a week where I bought 3 or 4 extra ears of corn at the Farmers Market just because I needed them for all of my ambitious goals for the week.

Corn is such a versatile plant and is truly an amazing thing in and of itself. So much of our world relies on corn since every part of corn is able to be used. I did learn an interesting fact this week. The minute that corn is picked, its kernels begin the process of turning to starch. Therefore, corn is best used (and sweetest) within the first couple days after it's been picked. Does that mean you can't use it later in the week? Of course not. But it sure does make you wonder how long it's been since it's been picked when you buy it at the grocery store. Just another reason to go local and support your friendly farmer neighbors!

I've used corn in at least 2-3 meals a week, but I thought I'd share my favorites that I've repeated a couple times already this summer.

The recipe for Corn with Bacon and Green Onions was definitely a hit on the 4th of July, so we ate it again for my dad's birthday alongside some Spinach-Walnut Chicken. I believe this dish is an excellent compliment to any meal...that is if it doesn't steal the show!

Another absolute favorite is Summer Stir-Fry! This is originally from Pioneer Woman and it is absolutely delicious! You could easily do it with chicken instead of shrimp, but oh boy, that shrimp is so yummy! My friend, Faith, saw this recipe the same time I did and we made it within a week of each other. Once she told me how truly delicious it was, I just had to make it right away. We've both had to limit how many times we make's just that good! You can check out the recipe here on her blog or you can scope out the original over at Pioneer Woman.

Summer Salsa is an absolute must! Got this recipe from Faith last year and it is so refreshing! Please take note that it is not a spicy salsa, but a sweet one full of great CSA vegetables. I recommend it with some organic blue corn chips for an awesome snack!

Finally, I'm leaving you with Fire Roasted Corn Salad. This is a recipe from a little ole gourmet cooking store that I love and I just think this is such a tasty side dish! It's got everything I love in it!

You need:
  • Juice of 3 limes
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • Coarse salt and pepper, to taste
  • 6 ears of corn
  • 3 cups cherry tomatoes, stemmed and halved
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 lb. feta cheese, diced

NOTE: I halved this recipe and still made plenty for just the two of us. The only thing I didn't halve was the feta cheese because, well, I think feta cheese is fantastic and should be used liberally.

In a bowl, whisk together the lime juice, ground cumin, and chili powder. Pour in the 3/4 cup olive oil in a slow, steady stream while whisking to make a vinaigrette. Season with salf and pepper. Set aside.

Prepare your corn. You can either grill it by brushing some oil on them and turning them over a medium-hot fire until lightly charred for about 10 minutes.....OR if it's absolutely sweltering outside and you really don't feel like creating a fire and grilling, boil your corn until cooked. You don't have to do it for too long because you don't want to overcook your corn until it's mushy.

Using a knife (or a corn zipper) cut off all of your kernels and place in a large bowl. Add your tomatoes, onion, cilantro, feta, and the vinaigrette and toss to coat evenly. I think it's great when you serve it immediately, but I also like it when it's cooled down. Makes a great side dish.

And yes, all of these recipes were made with organic ingredients and were all gluten-free...except for that Vanilla Porter in the above picture. That's just full of gluten!

I love corn!

Now go buy some and share some more yummy dishes with me!

Thai Green Beans (GF & Organic)

OK, confession....last week, I was in a major cooking slump!

I started working on my classroom to get back into the school year which is all too quickly approaching and by the time I came home...I just didn't wanna cook.
I think this is totally human of me and it was honestly nice to have some days off where I was 100% lazy. We did go out and enjoy some Japanese food one night which was absolutely fabulous! But I'm back in the routine this week and had some pictures/recipes that I wanted to post up here that fell to the wayside also last week. Seriously, what am I going to do once school starts. It's like I have to completely reorient myself with that way of life again!

Made these green beans as a side dish a few weeks back. They were featured as the recipe of the week on Simply in Season's website. My friend, Faith, has this cookbook and I loved it, but I have yet to purchase it. I've been using their recipe of the week for a few months now and they always turn out great. They always feature what is in season at this time so it's very helpful with my CSA.

For this, you need:

  • 5 cups fresh green beans
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 Tb. ginger root, peeled and minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 3 Tb. GF soy sauce
  • 2 Tb. GF Thai sweet chili sauce
  • 1 cup extra firm tofu, crumbled (optional)

All vegetables/ingredients were organic. As a side note, the tofu is completely optional and would be just fine without it. I understand being skeptical, but my hubs is always wanting to try new stuff so I went with it and it was very good. I would recommend not only because it tasted good, but because it is so good for you! Totally up to you though.

Steam your green beans 8-10 minutes until they are bright green and lightly crunchy.

Get your onions, ginger, and garlic all chopped, peeled, and minced.

In the sesame oil, saute onions, garlic, and ginger over medium heat until the onion is tender. Takes about 5 minutes.

Add your soy sauce and sweet chili sauce. You can measure it out or just add to taste.

Add your tofu (if you choose) and cook for another 5 minutes.

Add your green beans and stir to coat them with the sauce. Simmer over medium-low heat for 5 more minutes.

You can eat these over rice if you want to make a whole meal out of it, but we served it on the side with some chicken and potatoes and saved all the leftovers for lunch over the next couple days.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Spicy Chicken with Tomatillo and Pine-Nut Salsa (GF)

Mark really wanted to try tomatillos this week. Therefore, I obliged and found a recipe at Tasty Kitchen that I thought we'd both really enjoy. Tasty Kitchen is becoming my "go-to" on great recipes!

This recipe called for the grilled chicken to be marinaded and then you just make the salsa as an addition. I chose this because I already had some pine nuts left over from when I made pesto.

For the first part, you need:

4 pieces of boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/3 c lime juice (I didn't have enough lime so I added lemon and it tasted just dandy!)
2 T. olive oil
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 dash of salt & pepper each

Mix all of those ingredients together and put in a plastic bag with the chicken. The recipe said to let it marinade for at least 30 minutes. I would let it marinade a couple hours to get the good flavor in there.

You (or your hubs!) will grill this chicken when you are ready to eat.

For the salsa, you need:

4 whole tomatillos
fresh cilantro
1 bell pepper (any color, I chose green)
1 fresh jalapeno
2 T. pine nuts
2 T. lime juice (or lemon)
1 tsp. sea salt

I was thrilled to use some fresh cilantro from my very own herb box! The smell was unbelievable and it was better than any cilantro I've bought in the store.

I am HORRIBLE at gardening, but my cilantro was the most productive in my attempt to grow something outside my kitchen window. I can't tell you how excited I was to use this!

Chop up your cilantro and add it to your diced tomatillos.

Dice up your green peppers and jalapeno and add them to the party.

Squeeze in your lime/lemon juice, add your pine nuts, and your sea salt.

Mix all of that together to make some deliciousness!

Serve the chicken and salsa on some seasoned rice and enjoy!

Mark and I absolutely cleaned our plates on this one. I just kept trying to get bites that included rice, chicken, and salsa together. The flavors went so well together!

When we finish eating, I always ask Mark, "Repeat?" He lets me know if it's worth keeping the recipe or not for another time.

This is definitely a "repeat" in our house.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Lemon-Basil Ice Cream (GF & Organic)

So, while staying on this basil kick, I figured I'd add my recipe for Lemon-Basil ice cream.

Don't knock it until you try it!

It was the most refreshing ice cream I've had. So incredibly yummy! Mark and I gobbled it up (see my previous post about his love for basil pesto) before I could even get a finish product picture of it. Sorry!

I got the original idea from a recipe for Lemon-Basil yogurt in my Taste of Home magazine and decided to adapt it to what I wanted.
Here's what you need:

1 cup organic cream
3 cup organic milk
4 organic egg yolk
2/3 cup organic sugar, divided
1 bunch of fresh basil
1 organic lemon
1 T organic vanilla (Those observant eyes will see that I didn't have any organic vanilla that day...oops!)
organic walnuts, optional

Put the milk, cream, zest from the lemon, salt, and 1/3 cup of sugar in a medium-large saucepan. Squeeze the juice from your lemon and tear up your basil leaves and place in the cream mixture. Bring almost to a boil, but remove from heat before it gets to a boil.

Cover the mixture with a lid and let it steep for at least 30 minutes. The longer it steeps, the better the flavor.

In a separate bowl, beat your egg yolks, the remaining sugar, and vanilla for about a minute or until pale.

This is where I removed the basil. You could leave the basil in during the next step and it'd be fine and I know some recipes leave the basil in, but I didn't want a gritty texture, so I removed the basil here.

Take about 2 Tb. of the cream mixture and place in the eggs. Whisk it in. Add another Tb or so and whisk in. It's important to temper your eggs so that they don't scramble when you add them to your warm mixture. Then you may transfer your egg mixture into your lemon mixture.

Cook this for 4-6 minutes on medium heat or until it coats the back of a spoon.

Let this cool completely either in the fridge for a few hours or in an ice bath for about 30 minutes.

Once cooled, put in your ice cream maker and let it do it's thing.

In the last 5 minutes, you may add the walnuts if you like. I thought this was a great addition!

Like I said, I don't have any final pictures because we ate it too quickly. It was the perfect after dinner dessert because it was so cool and refreshing!


Basil Pesto (GF)

My cute husband can't seem to get enough pesto in his life. He puts it on pizza, his eggs, his tofu, everything. He'll even eat it by the spoonful.

Last week at the Farmer's Market, I was buying the next to last batch of basil and the lady just threw the last one in for free! How kind!

So, I figured I'd make some of that pesto that my hubs loves so dearly.

Really easy and I will probably continue to make it from here on out rather than buying it. I made a small batch due to only having a tiny food processor (I would love a bigger one).

This was a culmination of looking at several different recipes and just putting in the amounts that I wanted.

It was so refreshing!

Here's what I used:

3-4 Tb. pine nuts
2 cloves of garlic
2-3 cups of fresh basil leaves (I only had about 2 because I used a lot of my basil in my ice cream)
1/2 cup organic olive oil
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste

**The only reason I didn't title this as organic as well is the fact that I didn't have any organic cheese and I'm honestly not sure if the pine nuts were organic or not. Could be easily made organic...just didn't have all the ingredients on hand.**
Place your pine nuts and garlic in your food processor and chop it coarsley.

Add half of your basil and chop coarsely again.

Add the remaining basil and your olive oil and process until you have a thick green sauce.

I thought I went too heavy on the olive oil here, but it still turned out well. But if it's too thin, add more basil and if it's too thick, add more olive oil.

Add your cheese and season with salt and pepper. Process it for a little bit longer.

Place in a jar or other container and place in your fridge.

Enjoy at your convenience!

For the record, the cute husband loved it!

Friday, July 9, 2010

A Gorgeous Gal

I am proud to introduce to the world my beautiful baby niece, Noa Grace!

Isn't she just perfect in every way???

I am a glowing aunt!!!

Since she was born in CA, it will be some time before I'm able to meet her face to face, but I can't wait to see her and kiss those sweet little cheeks! I haven't been able to stop staring at the picture since I got it. What can I say, she's a Bennett!

You can be sure I'll add plenty more pictures as I get them!