Peanut Butter Examination

imageHere’s the thing, we all love our big ol’ jar of peanut butter. Maybe some of us, a little too much.

Oops, i’m one of them :D It’s extremely rare that a day goes by that I don’t have it.

I LOVE having peanut butter on a hot piece of toast; hot enough that it melts and turns into gooey goodness.

and I LOVE having it with a sliced apple….so much that I must measure it out and put the peanut butter out of sight, otherwise I would eat a spoonful with each slice.

My FAVORITE way though, is by the spoonful. Lets me real, who doesn’t ever eat it off the spoon??? Adding a few chocolate chips to the top of the spoon isn’t bad either ;)

So why talk about peanut butter in a post??

image

First off, because everyone and their grandma seems to love peanut butter….especially in the blogging world.

Second….there seems to be a lot of confusion about the differences between peanut butter. Lets be real, at any American grocery store, there is an obscene amount of different peanut butter options to choose from. I think we overcomplicate something that should be so simple.

We get lured in by fancy labels and key words.

image

You really have to be aware of reading labels in this isle. Just because something says NATURAL, that does not mean it’s necessarily healthy.

Over the years, i’ve become quite picky with my peanut butter. I gradually went from eating regular creamy Jif or Skippy (which I ate for the longest time) then moved to reduced fat…then to natural…now to organic.

This transition is a result of my ever increasing awareness of the food I eat…especially dissecting ingredient lists. After finding out regular peanut butter has hydrogenated oils, sugar and salt added, it really made look at it differently.

Sure the oils help make peanut butter a smooth consistency. Salt enhances flavor. Sugar makes it sweeter. But these things aren’t necessary!! Peanut butter is awesome when it’s made of JUST peanuts.

I want to share with you 3 of my favorite peanut butters. Yes, 3 different ones…variety is the spice of life folks.

imageBuy the fresh peanut butter at whole foods store!! It literally is the thickest, creamiest, freshest tasting peanut butter EVER!! All that is in it…peanuts! Seriously worth the extra money. Paying for the better quality guys….

image

imageTrader Joes, organic peanut butter unsalted is another favorite. This one only has peanuts in it as well!! You won’t miss the salt, totally not even necessary.

image

I’m also a fan of PB2. However, a small amount of sugar and salt have been added to it. PB2 is a powdered peanut butter…basically peanuts with most of the oil removed. It’s not fake peanut butter, it’s just a good option for calorie and fat counters.

image

I can totally taste the difference between a good organic peanut butter, and regular or ‘natural’ peanut butter.

Next time you buy peanut butter, don’t be fooled by the labels. Splurge for the good quality peanut butter that ONLY contains peanuts.

image

Are you picky about peanut butter like me??

What are your favorite kinds??

Happy hump day  :)

My NYC Foodie Adventures

image

Hey guys! Did you all enjoy Easter weekend (if you celebrate)?? Mine was wonderful. Sunny warm weather, wonderful food and awesome company. So blessed.

As some of you may know, I just got back from a week long vacation in NYC last Tuesday with my mom and sister, Kristin. I had been to NYC 2 times before, but this was their first time. It really was a lovely trip. We ate too much, walked miles on miles everyday and did all the touristy things.

image

and OHHH MY GOODNESS, the food that I ate on the trip… :D Literally was the main focus of my trip…and lets be honest it usually is the main focus of any traveling I do. I always research and try and find the best places to eat. I just can’t miss a good restaurant!!

NYC can be overwhelming for die hard foodies like myself, because there are SO many options. I owe a HUGE thanks to the fabulous suggestions from a fellow food blogger, Chris, from Shared Appetite. Chris was so helpful! He sent me a huge list of places to try and exactly what to try on the menu. Everything that I had on the list, blew me away. Check out his blog ;)

Ok, lets get down to business. I choose 10 of my favorite food adventures from this trip to share with you!

image

Here we go.. lots of pictures!!

  1. Mighty Quinn’s BBQ (East Village)- The first day we arrived to our apartment we rented around lunch time, and were starving for a good meal after flying all morning. After looking at the places Chris had suggested near the East Village we decided we needed to get some good BBQ. I got the brisket sandwich, and two sides. Baked beans with chunks of brisket and mashed sweet potatoes with maple and pecans…Cannot put into words how perfect this BBQ meal was. The sandwich was perfectly tender, and full of smoky flavor. The side dishes were the perfect, comforting component. Probably the best BBQ I have ever had…granted i’ve never been to Texas ;) imageimageimage
  2. Baked by Melissa (Multiple Locations)- The last time I was in NYC in 2009 I remember getting amazing bite size cupcakes from a little window stand. 5 years later, Baked by Melissa cupcakes has multiple locations all over NYC and is doing extremely well. I just adore the concept of having bite size cupcakes. Sometimes ya just want a bite of something! Especially a cupcake..but you don’t want to eat an entire cupcake. These are much smaller than mini cupcakes. This time I got 3 flavors for 3 dollars…peanut butter cup, cinnamon and lemon cheesecake. Little bites of heaven. A must try in NYC, promise.imageimageimage
  3. Dominique Ansel Bakery (SOHO)- This is the birthplace of the cronut folks…aka doughnut and croissant combined into one masterful pastry. Also, where the cookie shot was created. Chef Dominique Ansel is brilliant. Sadly, I didn’t get to try the cronut on this trip…apparently you have to line up at 6 am for a chance to get one…we just didn’t have the time. We actually stumbled upon the bakery wondering through SOHO. Even though we had just had a 3 course meal and were completely stuffed, I had to try something!! There was a wait for the cookie shot, so instead I got the recommended DK pastry. It was perfectly flaky, sweet and so fresh. Plus I spotted Dominique himself!! So, even though I didn’t try a cronut or cookie shot, this will be my first stop next time. imageimageimage
  4. Magnolia Bakery (Theater District)- Made famous from Sex and the City! I have been here before and became a fan. I had heard that they have amazing banana pudding…so I had to try it!! and OMG it was one of the best desserts i’ve ever had. I have always been a big fan of banana cream pie, and this pudding totally reminded me of it. Creamy whipped banana pudding, with chunks of banana and vanilla wafer. Highly recommend for banana lovers!! My mom and Kristin got a cupcake and loved them!imageimageimageimage
  5. Minetta Tavern (Greenwich Village)- First off, I have to tell you. We went here on a Friday night, without knowing we needed a reservation…and lucky enough, just as the hostess was turning us away because you need a reservation weeks out for a weekend dinner, the manager said she could squeeze us in. Excellent service. Chris had said that they had the best burger in the city, so had to try!! I got the black label burger which is made with “prime dry-aged beef cuts” with caramelized onions and fries.  SO juicy and flavorful and centered around the great quality meat. Amazing. A $28 dollar burger, and worth every penny. Outstanding service, food and atmosphere. Just be sure to make a reservation in advance ;) imageimage
  6. Cabana Restaurant (Midtown)- One of my lovely friends that I met in Paris, Angie, lives near NYC and spent part of Saturday with us. We stumbled upon this wonderful Cuban restaurant in Midtown after getting a cupcake at Sprinkes :D We had very unique appetizers and drinks. We ordered plantains that came with an fabulous garlic sauce, guacamole, and the sampler platter. The sample platter had Jamaican chicken wings, beef empanadas, shrimp fritters and vegetable fritters. SO darn good. Especially those Jamaican chicken wings!! Overall memorable dining experience! imageimage
  7. Serendipity 3 (Midtown)- Just a classic spot. I was here on my last NYC trip. Frozen hot chocolate…this place masters it and takes it to a whole new level. This time I ordered the peanut butter frozen hot chocolate…gahhh i’m drooling just thinking about it again. The place kind of has a funky whimsical vibe to it, and there is nearly always a wait. However, we found a wonderful nail salon across the street and got manicures and a massage while we waited…so perfect. It’s pretty massive so you might want to share, or come hungry! A must stop in NYC ;) imageimageimage
  8. Momofuku Milk Bar (East Village)- This was suggested by many people especially foodies I follow on Instagram. Guess what they have here?? Cereal milk flavored soft serve ice cream!! Sounds strange right? It literally tastes like the milk at the end of the cereal bowl, that we all love to drink. Plus you can get a cereal crunch topping…tastes like buttered corn flakes. SO unbelievably unique. They also have the softest and best cake balls and cookies. We went here 2 nights in a row because it was that good!! Very trendy, and long lines…but SO worth it.  Sorry the pictures aren’t the best, they were taken at night!imageimageimage
  9. Chelsea Market (Chelsea)- Must stop for foodies. Food Network is in this building…and this is the place where the oreo was invented. Kind of awesome!! There were tons of different food shops in here and markets. Chris had recommended the Duac pork Sandwich from Num Pang’s. Basically a pulled pork sandwich with a carrot slaw, cucumbers, cilantro and a special sauce. Honestly something I never would have eaten without someone recommending it to me. Chelsea market is the perfect place to go during lunch, so many options! imageimageimageimage
  10. Molly’s Cupcakes (West Village)- After the Chelsea Market, we walked to Molly’s for dessert. It was recommended by many and had great reviews. I am a cupcake whore, so naturally I HAD TO try it. Very pleased with this gem. I got the cupcake that won Cupcake Wars on Food Network, called peach cobbler. The best part about Molly’s is that the cupcakes are stuffed. Plus they are about the moistest cupcakes EVER. Pure bliss my friends. My mom and Kris tried the salted caramel butterscotch. My mom kept raving that it was the best cupcake she had ever had. They had a very happy and inviting atmosphere…even had swings for seating! Must stop for cupcake lovers!!image

imageimage

image

As you can tell, I ate like a Queen for a week. This isn’t even everything…and there were places on my list I didn’t have the chance to get to.

There is that saying though…you can do anything but not everything. Sadly I can’t eat everywhere I want due to time, but that’s just another excuse to go to NYC again.

Have any of you ever been to any of these places?? Let me know what you think?

OR any other favorite NYC restaurants!

Have a wonderful Monday :)

TRIPLE Layer Red Velvet Cake

Rich. Decadent. Indulgent. Exactly what a red velvet cake should be. This TRIPLE Layer Red Velvet Cake is not only my all time favorite cake, but a promising crowd pleaser.

 Hi guys!! I’ve missed you. No, really I have!!

I had my first vacation from my blog!! I haven’t posted since last Wednesday and it has felt like a lifetime. Not to mention the guilt I felt from not posting.

NYC was amazing, I ate like a king everyday…i’ll tell you all about my NYC food adventures next week.

Today’s post not only is about my amazing go-to triple layer red velvet cake recipe….

but to share with you my excitement for my April 15th BLOG-AVERSARY!!!!

Darn right i’m celebrating, and what better way to celebrate than with my favorite cake!! I have 6 whole blogging months under my belt!! And boy let me tell you, i’ve learned so much. I’m jumping for joy right now, because i’m so proud of how it has grown since I started it in October!

First, lets let the numbers do some talking…

17,358 total views

845 views in one day

378 comments

471 blog subscribers

oofta. The hard work, and late at night pays off knowing people are actually reading my blog.

I remember getting my first random comment, and how it took me months to get 100 subscribers. Now I get multiple new subscribers everyday! EXCITING!!

And want to know the best part, when readers tell me they made something off my blog…or a sweet comment. Feedback from readers is the best feeling guys!!

It’s so funny when I think back to why exactly I decided to start LEFT SIDE OF THE TABLE. Because let me tell you…I had thought about starting a food blog for the longest time….

The intimidation factor of starting a blog, is a big one! and lets face it…there are THOUSANDS of food bloggers out there. What makes my story different? It’s easy to quit before you even start.

And then there’s the other fear…the fear that people wouldn’t think what I have to say about food is interesting….clearly that was just my fear talking. That voice has slowly faded.

What people don’t realize if you aren’t a blogger, is how much blood sweat and tears goes into each post. First you need a genius idea, or don’t bother. Second, you have to get the groceries. Third, cook and take pictures. Fourth, upload and edit pictures. Fifth…write and create post…edit some more…

Being apart of the food blogging community I gain so much inspiration. I also am finding my own culinary voice and niche. What do I bring to the table? There are so many talented food bloggers and it’s a blast to connect to them.

It’s hard to remember when looking at the big successful food bloggers out there, most of them have been doing it for years. I’ll get there, just have to give it time, and work my butt off.

Back to the cake business….someone hand this girl a fork!!

I made this cake back in December after seeing it in Food Network Magazine…and immediately fell in love with this particular recipe. I have made red velvet too many times to count, and this recipe is by far the most moist and flavorful. This cake batter calls for oil instead of butter. Most red velvet cakes has a small amount of vinegar, this one does not.

The frosting is the crown jewel to this cake. Red velvet is not complete without cream cheese frosting!!

And of course the pecans. The original recipe calls for the pecans to be mixed in the frosting. However, there seems to be nut haters out there…I now put them on the side of the cake so it’s easy for someone to avoid eating them.

I never make boxed cakes. Sure maybe I have the extra time, and others don’t. But guys, homemade cakes aren’t that difficult. Just takes a little extra planning.

Think of how impressed everyone will be if YOU make a homemade triple layer red velvet cake?! Each time I have made this, everyone raves about it being one of the best red velvet cake.

Voila, here is the recipe. Enjoy :)

TRIPLE Layer Red Velvet Cake

{12 Servings}

Cake

  • 2 and 1/2 C. All-purpose Flour, plus more for dusting
  • 2 Tsp. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 1 Tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1 Tsp. Salt
  • 2 C. Granulated Sugar
  • 2 Large Eggs, room temperature
  • 1 and 3/4 C. Vegetable oil ( I use 1/2 C. Olive oil)
  • 1 C. Buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1 Tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Bottle Red Food Coloring (1 ounce)

Frosting

  • 2 8-ounce Blocks Cream Cheese, room temperature
  • 2 Sticks Butter, room temperature
  •  2# Powdered Sugar
  • 2 Tsp. Vanilla Extract

2 C. Crushed Raw Pecans to garnish

*Recipe from Food Network Magazine December 2013*

1. First, preheat oven to 350F. Then prepare cake pans. Take 3, 9 inch round cake pans. Line bottom with parchment paper, grease and dust with flower.

image 2. Next, get all your ingredients out and ready. I always try to be super organized when i’m baking to make sure I do all the steps correctly, and that I don’t forget any ingredients. You can sift the first 4 ingredients (flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt) together and set aside.

image

3. In a extra large bowl, whisk together granulated sugar, and eggs until combined. Then stir in oil until combined.

image

imageimage4. Next, you are going to alternate adding the flour mixture and buttermilk in equal separate parts. Start and end with flour. I did flour, milk, flour, milk and flour.  Use a spoon for mixing, stirring well after each addition.

image

image

image

5. Lastly stir in vanilla and entire bottle of red food coloring…be careful with that red food coloring!!

image

6. Divide evenly into each pan. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Let completely cool before frosting!

image

Frosting

7. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter until creamy. About 2 Minutes. Slowly add powdered sugar. Beat in Vanilla at the end.

image

image

8. Time to frost! Begin laying down wax paper or parchment paper at an angle and spray with cooking spray to remove easily after frosting. Use 1 C. of frosting on the middle layers. Carefully and slowly frost outside, working frosting from top to bottom of cake.

image

image

image

image

image

image

9. After cake is frosted, take crushed raw pecans, garnish on the sides of the cake. Slowly and carefully remove paper form underneath cake. Serve immediately, or wait. Lasts for about 4 days. Many people say don’t store in fridge, however I like the taste of it in the fridge.

image

imageimage

image

image

imageimage

image

image

image

image

image

Cheers to my 6 Month Blog-aversary for LEFT SIDE OF THE TABLE!!

It’s only going to keep getting better!

Be sure to follow me on InstagramFacebook and Pinterest!

and spread the word!

Thanks for all the love and support :D Have a wonderful weekend!!

{Denise’s} German Potato Salad

{Denise's} German Potato Salad

Not really potato salad season yet, i’ll admit. I don’t even eat much potatoes these days but guys, I got excited after using them in Mondays post….and well…. here’s another potato recipe.

But this one’s a goodie, PROMISE!

Who likes potato salad?? I feel like the only people who don’t like it, are people that hate mayo. Am I right, am I right??

And guess what, the beauty of German potato salad…NO MAYO. I repeat, NO MAYO :D

Plus, this recipe has bacon in it :D

So for all you mayo haters (i’ve been one, and still kinda am) you’ll love German potato salad! It’s served warm, with onions, bacon, fresh herbs and a vinegar, broth dressing. Literally to die for. SO different from American potato salad. It’s hardly comparable.

I actually first had it in Sweden not Germany. It was really cool cause when I studied abroad in Sweden, I met so many people from around the world. It was awesome to eat with people from different countries and try different foods. One night I was with a bunch of Germans and Austrian’s and they made Weiner Schnitzel and German potato salad. Below is a photo from this epic meal.

image

BOOM, instant love for German potato salad (the potato salad is in the bowl, no photo of it unfortunately.) Literally is one of my favorite German dishes of all time.

Like any recipe out there, different variations exist. This recipe I am sharing with you today, came from my dear friend with whom I mention quite often in posts, Denise. One of my soul sisters that lives thousands of miles away in Germany.

image

Sorry I have demon eyes in this photo…super creepy! But I still love it because it’s a picture of her and I in Paris when we studied abroad together.

Anyways, she gave me the recipe in a cookbook for Christmas.

image

Which makes it the perfect thing to post. I already posted another recipe from the cookbook Creme Friache Tomato Soup, which is an amazing creamy tomato soup!

I changed a few things when making this, because I was silly and didn’t follow the instructions. HAH, that never happens.

Hope you enjoy this special recipe :)

{Denise’s} German Potato Salad

{4 Servings}

  • 4- 5 Large Potatoes
  • 6 Slices of Bacon
  • 1 Small Onion
  • 1/2 C. Chicken or Vegetable Broth
  • 6 Tbsp. Vinegar (White or Red Wine)
  • 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 2-3 Tbsp. Fresh Herbs (Parsley, Dill, Chives..use all or not)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

1. First you need to cook the potatoes. Wash off potatoes, and cut them in half, horizontally. Place in a large sauce pan, fill with cold water about 1 inch over the potatoes. Bring water to a boil over medium heat, continue to cook until fork tender…not overcooked however. About 20 minutes.

imageimage

2. Next, cook the bacon until crispy. Let cool on paper towel.

image

3. Dice onion into small pieces. Place in large bowl.

image

4. Once potatoes are done, strain them. Begin to peel the skin off while still warm and either slice thin or cut in small cubes. Place in bowl with onions. Add broth,vinegar and oil. Stir and set aside.

image

5. Chop fresh herbs, I choose to use parsley and chives since I had them on hand. Dill is excellent though. Roughly chop bacon. Add chopped herbs and bacon to potatoes. Also add some freshly ground pepper and a little salt (a pinch or two) Stir until well combined. Taste the salad, and add more herbs/pepper/salt if you’d like. Serve still warm.

image

image

image

imageimage

Doesn’t have to be summer to enjoy German Potato Salad! Perfect side dish with meat.

Even though I may not have followed Denise’s recipe 100% turned out Ahhh-mazing! My sister Kristin, who hates American potato salad absolutely loved this!

Have a fabulous Wednesday everyone!

Roasted Spring Vegetables & Mixed Green Salad

It’s Monday and I go to NYC in just two short days. YAY!!!

Sorry to brag guys, i’m just bursting with excitement here! I haven’t been on a trip in what feels like forever…well October when I went to Colorado, so not too terribly long.

Please feel free to tell me some of your favorite NYC foods and restaurants!! Seriously, I want to know!

First off, I must say…I was pleasantly surprised by how much everyone seemed to like my Friday post –  5 ways living in France changed my perception of Food. I had more views on my blog than I have had in quite some time. So thank you!

Of course I found it interesting, but one of those things I don’t think people would find equally interesting. Anyways, had to tell you about the how happy I was to get that feedback :)

This recipe today, is a wonderful Springtime salad. I was thinking about how I could create a salad filled with seasonal goodness.

I present carrots, leeks and potatoes.

image

Instead of just throwing these raw veggies in the salad, they’re slow roasted in the oven with fresh thyme.

The roasted spring veggies are then piled onto a mound of mixed greens. Topped off with pine nuts, and lemon mustard vinaigrette. So fresh and naturally flavored.

The pine nuts add that perfect nutty taste. I love to have some sort of nut in all my salads.

 Making this salad made me realize I never cook with leeks… and I have no clue why. They have such a wonderful mild onion flavor, and when cooked properly melt in your mouth. YUM!

I’ve been roasting everything in the oven lately, so it was a no brainer on how I should incorporate the veggies. Roasting is not only an easy method, but it makes food SO flavorful. I love not having to stand over the stove to cook anything.

I’ve had a HUGE craving for salads lately though…must be part of summer fever…anyone with me??

Last summer I literally ate salads everyday and absolutely loved it. It’s been kinda hard for me to get back into my salad groove. After making this one, I realized I still got it in me.

Here’s the recipe, enjoy it :)

Roasted Spring Vegetables & Mixed Green Salad

{2 Servings}

  • 1 Leek
  • 2 Whole Carrots
  •  4 Small Red Potatoes (or any kind)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbsp. Fresh Thyme (or any fresh herb)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 4 C. Mixed Greens
  • 2 Tbsp. Pine Nuts

Lemon Mustard Vinaigrette

  • 1 Tsp. Dijon Mustard (I used Grainy)
  • 1/2 Lemon Juice
  • 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • Splash of White or Red Wine Vinegar
  • Pepper

1.  Preheat oven to 400 F. Prep vegetables. Wash them all. Peel and slice carrots. Trim about an inch from each end of the leek. Peel outer layer and slice. Lastly slice potatoes thin, leave skin on.

imageimageimage2.  Place vegetables on baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Salt and pepper evenly ( a couple pinches of each should do.) Sprinkle wish fresh thyme (remove leaves from stems.) Mix it all together, then place in oven. Cook for 25 – 30 minutes. Halfway through cooking, stir veggies.

image

image

3.  While veggies are in the oven, make vinaigrette. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup like I use, add all ingredients, and whisk or use a fork to combine. Taste it, add more lemon if you prefer. Pepper to taste, add salt if you wish. Also, prep salad. Place 2 cups on each plate.

image

image

image

image

4. When veggies are done, take out of oven. Let sit for 5 minutes. Put half of roasted veggies on each salad. Add 1 Tbsp pine nuts to each salad. Serve immediately.

image

imageimageimageimage

5 ways living in France changed my perception of food

Bonjour :)

Happy it’s Friday! However, looking out the window and seeing it snow….yeah. Just be thankful wherever you are because if it isn’t snowing consider yourself verrrrrry lucky! No one wants snow in April. No one.

Anyways, enough weather talk…I was thinking recently, how I haven’t posted about my travel experiences much. Other than my travel page and mentioning things here at there.

Traveling has given me so many amazing experiences and wonderful friendships. It has opened my eyes in ways I can’t describe. I find it fascinating to see how people live all over the world. Also to realize, there is life outside of the bubble you create for yourself.

Travel of course hasn’t just changed me as a person, but it totally transformed my perception of food. I can’t say this enough.

I was lucky enough to study abroad 2 times in Europe during my undergrad. The first time in Vaxjo, Sweden and the second in Paris, France.

Although Sweden had some wonderful food, my experience in France seemed to be a game changer. That’s why today, i’m telling you the 5 ways living in France changed my perception of food. I want to pass on what i’ve learned to YOU.

Ready for them??!!

*Reminder these are all my opinions and observations*

  1. Dessert is ok, EVERY day. Don’t worry, yes you read that correctly. French people not only know how to make amazing desserts, but they actually eat the stuff too…with no shame!! Crazy right? Now i’m not talking about eating a candy bar for dessert, but something like chocolate mousse or a fruit tart. The French eat freshly prepared desserts, and not as much packaged desserts. There’s a difference folks. I literally ate dessert at least once a day with dinner, if not twice with lunch too. My host mom would always have dessert for us, whether it was a tart, gelato, cookies, fruit…always something! Having that much dessert in the U.S is definitely frowned upon. 
  2. Snacking, you’ll survive without it. This one’s a hard one for me guys. I’ll admit, I have a tendency of snacking…especially when i’m bored. In France, no one snacks. That’s what Americans do. In France, you eat a small breakfast then have large lunch around 1 and wait until around 9 to have dinner. That long stretch after lunch before dinner….ohhhh my goodness was that hard. Some days I definitely caved. But this made me realize, hey I can make it for 8 hours without eating. I will survive!
  3. Salad Dressing must be homemade. Sweden opened my eyes to how easy and enjoyable olive oil and vinegar could be on a salad. But after having a wonderful homemade red wine vinaigrette with dinner nearly every night in France….there was no turning back. Nothing compares. Take the 2 minutes it takes to whip up your own dressing. The best part, is you know what’s in it. 
  4. It’s all about QUALITY. If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ll notice how often I throw around the word quality. It’s what food is all about for me. Anyone can have a fabulous dessert, or a good piece of bread. But lets examine the quality of it. Where is it from. How was it made. France made me learn you can eat anything, as long as the quality is good (and a reasonable amount)….part of that is knowing how it was prepared and where it came from. For example, if you want a hamburger, skip fast food. Get a good quality burger at a reputable restaurant or make one at home! 
  5. Food is meant to be enjoyed. Sure, I already knew this one to an extent. But I don’t think I really understood how to fully enjoy my food. The French have a beautiful appreciation and connection with food. They take the time to gather good ingredients, prepare it, and then sit and enjoy it. That doesn’t mean they sit in front of the television with the food in their laps. No, they sit with others around a table with good conversation, and enjoy a long meal together. It was not uncommon for dinner with my host family to last over an hour. One of my absolute favorite things these days, is to sit down with people I love for a nice long meal (with wine!) Just the best!

Man I could write wayyyy more about each of these 5 things…hard to keep it short and to the point. But as you can see, these days i’m not afraid to eat dessert (in moderation of course!) try to limit snacking, will only eat homemade salad dressing, all about the quality of food, and realize food is meant to be enjoyed!

SO many take aways from living in France. This list could totally be longer, but i’ll save that for another post!

Hope you enjoyed reading about this :)

Do you have any travel experiences that changed your perception of food?? Please share, I would love to hear!

Baked Scotched Eggs

How’s your week going?

I’m pretty pumped it’s Wednesday, because in one week I’m going to NYC for vacation with Kristin (my sister) and my mom!! SO SO excited! Haven’t been there since 2009, and it’s their first time. Can’t wait to eat everything in sight, literally. Definitely my favorite part of any vacation (duh!)

Today’s post is keeping with the whole hard boiled egg theme since Monday I posted {French} Deviled Eggs

Now I have to ask, who has never heard of a scotched egg before?? Let alone tried one?

I’m totally guilty of recently discovering them! I saw them in August at the Minnesota State Fair (which is a foodie paradise I might add.) I remember saying….”ohhh my goodness scotched eggs look amazing, I have to try it.” And then I didn’t try it…shame.

But don’t worry guys, I did get to try scotched eggs eventually…last week. And boy were they not only easy to make, but everything I imagined it to taste like. Sausage and egg go so well together…mmmm.

Since people seem to love hard boil eggs this time of year, it’s the perfect recipe to post.

How genius are scotched eggs though…hard boiled egg center, wrapped in a savory sausage with a crisp crunchy crust (which is actually corn flakes!) Talk about a party in your mouth!

I added a slab of grainy dijon mustard before biting into it… perfect flavor and texture in one bite.

This obviously isn’t the most healthy thing thanks to the sausage. However, I must note that most scotched eggs are fried, and this version is baked.

Baked always makes me feel less guilty.

Also to note, it’s really important to use your favorite sausage. You get majority of the flavor from the sausage…select wisely my friends! I choose the kind at Trader Joes, because most sausage has too many additives which I try to avoid eating.

 Ahhh now i’m dreaming about using spicy sausage…or breakfast sausage.

And maybe dipping this in some awesome maple syrup?!

Ok, now i’m thinking of all these possibilities! They’re just endless.

Here it is, Enjoy :)

Baked Scotched Eggs

{5 Servings}

  • 5 Hard Boiled Eggs
  • 1# Sausage of choice
  • 2 C. Corn Flakes (or bread crumbs)
  • 1 C. Flour
  • 2 Eggs

*Recipe adapted from Betty Crocker

1. First thing you need to do, is hard boil eggs. Place eggs in sauce pan with cold water at least one inch above eggs. Bring water to a boil, cover and let sit for 15 minutes. Rinse in cold water, and peel. Best to hard boil older eggs for better peeling!

image

2. Preheat oven to 400 F. Prep all ingredients before building scotched eggs. Place ingredients in separate bowls. If sausage is in a casing like mine was, remove casing. Finely crush cornflakes. Measure out flour. Whisk 2 eggs together.

image

image

imageimage

image

3. Time to build the scotched eggs! Take one sausage link (or 1/5 of sausage) and flatten into a wide pancake and place a hard boiled egg in the center. Carefully wrap, and pinch the sausage so it creates a seal around the egg. Then dip into flour, then egg and lastly the crushed corn flakes. Make sure each dip coats all around the egg. Place on a cookie sheet, evenly spread out in between scotched eggs. Once all eggs are ready, place in oven and bake for 35 minutes, or until sausage is brown and fully cooked.

image

image

image

image

image

4. After finished baking, let sit for 5 minutes before cutting. Slice each one in half, or quarters, or just leave as whole. Serve immediately with mustard, sriracha, maple syrup, or whatever you’d like!

image

image

image

image

image

 This would be such a great item for a Easter brunch!

Or as an appetizer….for any meal.

Can’t wait for you to try this. Let me know what you think!

Thanks for stopping by, Happy Hump Day!

{French} Deviled Eggs

We’ve reached the last day of March. Crazy! Did it fly by or did it fly by??

Excited for it to be April, because it brings promising warmer weather. YAY!

The snow is still around here in the Twin cities (ugh, depressing), but we can see some grass and it seems to be melting fairly quickly…hopeful!

Can’t wait to see the buds on the trees, and for everything to turn green. Such wonderful thoughts :D

Aside from the warm weather, and green grass…another thing on my mind is Easter. Actually, Easter food.

Ohhh the Easter food….and of course candy. I’m a little bit addicted to Cadbury Creme Eggs. Something about biting into that rich milk chocolate egg with an oozing silky cream center. Melt. In. Your. Mouth. DELICIOUS!

Easter celebrations also always seem to involve deviled eggs.

I’m actually a new fan of deviled eggs. After making them last Easter, I began to love them. If they’re made right that is.

A reason I avoided deviled eggs in the past is because i’ve always hated mayo. Yeah, i’m one of those people.

I’ve avoided eating mayo all my life, only making an exception for homemade potato or egg salad. I still dislike mayo, but am learning to appreciate it in certain foods…it’s a texture thing and I really don’t care for the taste.

With my new fondness for deviled eggs, I wanted to come up with a different recipe. One that’s both unique and flavorful.

Kinda hard to do, since it seems the internet and cookbooks are flooded with different renditions of the classic recipe.

So one day I was thinking about the ingredients that go in a deviled eggs (mustard, vinegar and sometimes shallots.) Then I thought…ohhh my goodness; this reminds me of a french vinegrette. I decided to use dijon mustard, red wine vinegar and shallots…Mayo of course and salt and pepper.

Now to go along with my {French} theme, I thought it would be fun to add some lemon juice and garnish each egg with fresh thyme (NO paprika.)

And VOILA…{French} Deviled Eggs.

Little change up for a classic easter brunch item or an appetizer year round.

It will have everyone wondering what you put in them :)

Here’s the recipe! Enjoy!

{French} Deviled Eggs

{6 Servings}

  • 6 Eggs
  • 1/4 C. Mayonnaise
  • 1 Tsp. Red WIne Vinegar
  • 1 Tsp. Grainy Dijon Mustard
  • 1 Tsp. Lemon Juice (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp. Minced Shallots
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Fresh Thyme

*Adapted recipe from Food Network

1. First thing to do, hard boil eggs. In a medium sauce pan, place eggs carefully in pan. Fill with cold water with about an inch over the eggs. Bring eggs to a boil. Once water is boiling, cover and remove from heat. Let sit for 15 Minutes. Then rinse with cold water.

image

2. Next thing to do is peel the eggs. Be careful when you do this, it can be a frustrating process as it doesn’t always peel perfectly. You can see mine did not turn out perfect. So remember thats ok. Here are some tips for hard boiling eggs.

image

image

3. After eggs are peeled, take a sharp knife, and cut the egg vertically in half. Carefully remove the yolk with a spoon, and place in a small bowl. Place the egg whites onto a platter.

image

4. When eggs are all prepped, mince shallot. Add all ingredients, except the thyme garnish to the egg yolks. Using a fork, smash and stir all ingredients together. Lemon juice is optional, because it can make the filling a bit more runny than normal. Make sure to smash the yolks completely.

image

image

image

image

5. TIme to fill the eggs! For a fancy, clean look use a clear plastic ziploc bag. Place the filling in the corner of a bag, and cut the edge (about 1/2″) off the bag. Fill each egg. If you don’t want to use a bag, simply spoon filling using a teaspoon. Garish with small piece of thyme on each and use extra thyme to decorate plate. Refrigerate until serving.

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

As I mentioned, the filling for this recipe may seem a bit more runny than usual. It is from the lemon juice. Totally ok if you decide to not use the lemon juice. I however prefer the taste with the lemon…

Hope you all have a wonderful Monday!

Blueberry Lemon Probiotic Smoothie

 

Woohoo it’s FRIDAY!! Today i’m extra happy, because my little sister turns 21!!

Happy, happy birthday, Katie!

SOO happy to be out of town for a couple nights to celebrate!

On another note…can’t believe I have only posted one smoothie recipe!!

I drink one nearly everyday (Banana Almond Breakfast Smoothie)  for breakfast…and on the mornings I don’t have one, well lets just say I have withdrawals. What can I say, i’m addicted. Just a little bit.

I actually use to work at an Herbalife shake place during college, and had protein shakes EVERY day. Sometimes even 2 times.

I lost quite a bit of extra weight, and and increased my awareness of what I was eating.

Anways, gone are the days of Herbalife shakes for this girl. I prefer to have a homemade smoothie made with real foods that I eat instead of powder.

 I’m always looking for new ways to do things, and new products because lets face it, life is boring if you don’t branch out from the norm!

Last Friday I introduced you to My new FAVORITE yogurt – Siggi’s.

I’m in love with their probiotic yogurt drink.

Probiotic, huh? Basically it’s the same thing as yogurt…active bacteria.

Here’s some info about probiotics!

One day, I decided to add Siggi’s yogurt drink in a smoothie instead of plain greek yogurt.

And voila, YUMMY success! The Siggi’s yogurt drink seemed to make a super thick and creamy smoothie!

Choosing the flavors for this smoothie seemed obvious to me. Everyone seems to be obsessed with blueberry and lemon combo including me, but it’s rarely seen in smoothies.

Perfect chance to make one.

I’m totally obsessed with all things lemon. If you follow my instagram you can tell.

Here’s the recipe, Enjoy :)

Blueberry Lemon Probiotic Smoothie

{1 Serving}

  • 1/2 Frozen Banana
  • 3/4 C. Frozen Blueberries
  • 4 Ice Cubes
  • 1 C. Siggi’s Probiotic Yogurt Drink
  • 1 Tbsp. Chia Seeds
  • 1/2 Lemon Juice
  • 1/4 – 1/2 C. Almond Milk

1. In a blender, place the frozen banana, blueberries and ice at the bottom of the blender. Put everything else in their starting with only 1/4 C. Almond Milk. Start blender, add more almond milk until it reaches your desired consistency.

image

image

image

image

imageimage

image

Jalapeño Creamed Spinach

Spinach.

Reminds me of one thing, always. Popeye the Sailor Man!!! Anyone, anyone??

And WHY did Popeye eat spinach?

To make him healthy and strong of course! Popeye made spinach COOL!

Spinach is filled with many vitamins and antioxidants, no shocking news here. We all know this, right?

The darker greens are always the way to go.

I grew up eating iceberg lettuce, then switched to romain. Was definitely obsessed with romaine for a long time, until last year I started to get spinach. Not sure why exactly I switched. Then slowly I stopped buying romaine, and now nearly all the salads I make use spinach. Organic spinach to be exact!

As you’ve seen in recipes i’ve posted in the past which included spinach

Cremini Mushroom and Spinach Quinoa

Mastering an Egg Scramble

Soy Ginger Coconut Oil Salad Dressing

Crustless Quiche

Pumpkin Chicken Alfredo over Spinach

Anywhooo, always looking for new ways to mix things up.

I had tried creamed spinach at a fabulous restaurant here in Minnesota, called Brasa Premium Rotisserie. This place is awesome you guys! If you’re ever in Minnesota, you must check it out. Lots of local, great quality slow cooked meats and an array of unique side dishes, served in small or large portions to encourage sharing.

Since they have like 12 side items to choose from, I tried their jalapeño creamed spinach one day. Fell. In. Love. Not surprised that it was awesome, but saddened I had waited so long to try creamed spinach!

So of course, I had to recreate their creamed spinach at home!

And voila, I hit a home run with this one.

Tastes spot on to what I had at Brasa Premium Rotisserie.

Cooked spinach in a creamy sauce with a hint of jalapeño to give it that extra punch.

Plus guys, it takes less than 10 minutes to make and not many ingredients!!

My perfect side dish.

Here’s the recipe, Enjoy :)

Jalapeño Creamed Spinach

{2 Servings}

  • 2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbsp. Butter
  • 1 Shallot
  • 1 Tbsp. Jalapeño Pepper
  • 1 Bag Spinach 6 oz Weight
  • 1/2 C. Cream (or half and half, just won’t be as thick)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Prep to begin. Mince both the shallot and jalapeño (remove seeds) and set aside. Be careful cutting jalapeño, wash hands well, immediately after. DO NOT touch eyes. Suggested to wear gloves.

image

2. In a medium fry pan, heat oil and butter over low heat. Add minced shallots and jalapeños. Cook for 3 minutes.

image

3. Slowly add spinach, not all at once. Continually stir and add spinach, once it has wilted down until the entire bag is cooked.

imageimage4. Once all spinach is cooked, add cream and stir. Cook for about 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

imageimageimage image

imageimage

image

Oofta, sometimes it’s quite challenging to make spinach look pretty.

But I promise you friends, this recipe won’t disappoint.

Isn’t it hilarious that a whole bag of spinach only makes a small pile of creamed spinach! Crazy how much it wilts down!

Hope you all have a wonderful Wednesday!