Salads, extended.

when it is hot and humid out, cold, fresh and crisp sound best, right?! whether you define that as a good beer or a good salad is up to you.

maybe its both.

try the following additions to your salad for a punch of flavor:

1. fresh torn basil is delicious mixed into your bed of greens
2. black pepper & ricotta are an great duo and serve as your dressing
3. pretzel bits make for a mean crouton substitution
4. brie cheese and crackers accompany any salad perfectly
5. nectarines add a punch of flavor without being too fruity


basic crisp topping

the basic crisp topping.
thee best crisp topping.
you know.

it's so easy to throw a crisp together when you use the following recipe for the crispy crumble topping over a mixture of any seasonal fruit.

start with 1/3 cup sugar on your fruit. you may have to adjust according to the fruit's natural tartness or sweetness (raspberry (frozen then thawed) and rhubarb, above, needed about 1/2 cup-3/4 cup sugar) then top with the following

3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 oatmeal
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 melted butter

smash together with a fork.
bake at 375 for 20-30 minutes (depending on fruit)


Chunky Guac

Guac meets salsa plus spinach?!
not a clever name... but, oh, the taste!

Roughly chop the following.
1 avacodo
1/2 onion
2 tomatoes
2 cups loose spinach
1 cup loose basil

Squeeze and sprinkle the following
juice of 1 lime
garlic powder
freshly cracked pepper
(all to taste)

Dive in with the following
or fingers.


Fig Balsamic Mushrooms on Hot Pepper Focaccia

More often than not, I feel like I'm scraping together a "meal."
And more often than not, it tastes like I'm scraping together a "meal."

Tilapia with..... umm.... limp frozen asparagus? just had it.
Guac made with only one avocado? all the time.
Cereal as dessert?? uh huh.

Somehow something went differently this weekend and I was blown away by how perfectly this simple—yet, incredible—meal was! I had just bought hot pepper garlic focaccia bread from the Farmer's Market and found portabella mushrooms in my crisper. Ah hah!

Toasted Fig Balsamic Mushrooms on Hot Pepper Focaccia

- Rub focaccia with olive oil and broil.
- Sautee sliced mushrooms with 1 tsp. spritzed olive oil, 2 T fig balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper until slightly wilted and fragrant.
- Top broiled bread with mushrooms and a sprinkle of sharp cheddar.
- Broil until bubbly and golden.


Roasted Veggies

im sure you can think of an outfit you love, but that you didn't initially buy all of the pieces together for. it just works.

this dinner was just like that great outfit. it just worked.

in different stages I roasted veggies at 425. first the potatoes (sweet + small red) and onions. next, broccoli and tomatoes. and finally, kale. easy and so comforting.

1 small sweet potato
1 small red potato
1/4 small onion, roughly chopped
1 cup broccoli
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
2 cups torn kale
garlic gold
kosher salt
black pepper

preheat oven to 425. spritz pan with misted evoo. coat potatoes + onion with garlic gold nuggets + kosher salt + black pepper + paprika. roast 10 min and stir. add broccoli + tomatoes. roast 7 minutes and stir. spritz kale with evoo + sprinkle with fresh parm. roast for 5 minutes.



Blueberry Banana Muffins

Sunday mornings and blueberry muffins go hand in hand, don't you think? Me too... which is why I was anxiously waiting for my banana to over-ripen all week! I grabbed my spotted banana and the rest of the ingredients (all simple staples) this morning and got to work. These muffins come together SO quickly and are healthy too! win win.
tender, slightly sweet, and studded with blue jewels
vegan, too!? impressive.
The recipe is here at DailyGarnish. I followed it exactly!


Kitchen Perfection

Snitching unbaked cookie dough from my mom's bright orange tupperware bowl used to be one of my favorite things to do! I'd climb our red stool and perch on the hoosier cupboard sneaking bits when she wasn't looking. It all took place in our small kitchen in the house I grew up in until 3rd grade.

Soon after moving into our current house in Nevada, my parents built their dream kitchen to replace the dark L-shaped one we had. Walls were moved, wood floors were put down, and my parents were so pleased with the end results. That kitchen has seen many dance recital dinners with my grandparents and family, a couple graduation open houses, and plenty of incredible meals cooked by my mom and dad.

The kitchen, as you may have guessed, is important to me. Two friends of mine and I moved into a charming new townhouse in the historic part of downtown Des Moines called Sherman Hill. Although our townhouse is new and sports 9 foot ceilings, wide cream wood work, modern fixtures in dark espresso, it is built to look old and definitely holds the charm and coziness of an older home.

The best part? I am completely in love with our kitchen. It's perfect for entertaining. We have gathered many groups around our large island and hope to have many more. The lighted open cabinets are perfect. Living with a chef is perfect.

The kitchen is perfect!


quinoa-stuffed peppers

I try really hard to eat greens. and vegetables. and fruit. instead of s'mores, girl scout cookies, and golden grahams. some days it's easier than others....

luckily, today was one of those days! this recipe incorporates lots of spinach and plenty of protein and tastes great, too! i used black quinoa so even though it looks burnt... it is not :)
I followed this recipe. give it a try :)


love me some

It's ironic I am deciding to write this post during the week of Valentine's Day... I've never been a fan. Even years I happen to have a boyfriend. There are too many dollars spent on overpriced red petals, too many disappointed girls with lofty expectations, and I have never been a fan of pink. or hearts. especially pink hearts.

Regardless of the pink hearts and crusty petals that remain from the big day, here are 9 things I happen to love. or shall I say adore.

In no particular order...

Williams-Sonoma Small Silicone Spoonula
They're petite and boy are they cute!
I have a green set (spoon-and-spat-ula) because my mama knows I love green.

The combination of a bright blue-teal and poppy orange.
I used to hate this. Seriously hate. But now I appreciate the complimentary tones and the way they pop! Its so springy. I immediately think of the glassy green sea in Capri and the coral that was everywhere. takes me back :)

chocolate milk.
buy some the next time you're at the grocery store.
I think about chocolate milk (and golden grahams. weird, I know) everyday during my workout at Kosama. sooo good.

Anthropologie's new wedding dress line.
The simplicity and unique embellishments are incredible, but the photo styling is just as wonderful.

I love breakfast. Usually it's (loaded) oatmeal and usually its at 8am. But last night I made these awesome pancakes and was so close to making them again. Like Madison suggests, best topped with peanut butter!

Smores Pie.
If you know me very well, you know I love smores. and marshmallows. So I am sure you're not surprised that I can't stop dreaming about this pie. Ohh my goodness.

Biaggi's Foccaccia bread.
I contemplate driving to Biaggis just for their bread numerous times each week. I am not exaggerating. I have to remind my self—continually—that bread, no matter how cheap (only $2.75 for a quarter of a pan!!) it is, is not the best dinner option.

aaaand I just realized I just posted 3 food items.
That means I need to stop and think about more things I love.
other than my heated mattress pad. thats dorky.
and this knife I want (err... I want my mom to get). it involved the kitchen and I already posted about the kitchen enough.


Tomato Tomahto

Iowa winters are cold! and dark! which really affects the way food photography looks... After not posting for nearly a month, I've decided to update a few of my favorite meals for, perhaps, your inspiration and so I remember these great combinations and ideas for future dinners.

Ironically, all of these include fresh tomatoes... and last night as I was making a homemade burrito bowl, I was disappointed at how rarely I have and use fresh tomatoes in the winter. Annnd here I am blogging about 3 recipes that include fresh tomatoes. What?!

first up—Salsa!
Tangy, salty, and spicy! I crave nothing more than mexican during the winter months and this salsa is an easy one to whip up in the evenings. Don't forget the lime juice, cilantro, and beans for added protein!

Whole Wheat Gnocchi with Fresh Tomato sauce
Trader Joe's has the best inexpensive, soft, doughy gnocchi around. Top with cherry tomato+basil+and plenty of spices for a simple and filling dinner. Can't wait to recreate this one soon!

Spaghetti with Mushroom Marinara
Tomato paste has so many health benefits and is packed with flavor! Using it in store bought marinara sauce, along with plenty of sauteed mushrooms+tomatoes+basil is a fast way to pump up your sauce. I loved this dinner!
What types of food have you been missing these winter months??