summer orzo salad

it’s june.

flowers

did you just do a happy dance? because i did.

drink stand

church window

i’ve spent most of my life living in new england, but i can’t help it – i really am a california girl, through and through. i’ve been to some amazingly beautiful places, but my favorites always have the same things: sunshine, salt water, and palm trees.

hancock?

but living in boston really makes you appreciate these warm summer months. they slip by so quickly, you have to take advantage of every warm, sunny day – because before you know it, we’ll be buried under twenty feet of snow and will be digging your car out, chipping ice off the windows, and longing for those hot, humid days of august.

gate

hat

alley

and boston is really gorgeous this time of year. greenery everywhere, happy dogs, bright flowers, cold beer, farmer’s markets, and all the best food festivals. fresh fruits and veggies, refreshing cocktails, and mouth-watering seafood. what could be better?

salad plate

i’d like to submit an often-overlooked lovely thing about summer. it’s easy, fresh, energizing, and completely delicious – yes, i’m talking about cold summer salads. i feel like dishes like potato salads, pasta salads, and grain salads sometimes get a bad rap – people think they’re so simple that they aren’t worth eating. they’re a grocery store cop-out. they’re generic and boring. but i think good salads can be absolutely fantastic. perfect as a side dish for a grilled dinner, easy to add protein to for a complete meal in a bowl, and fun to bring to a picnic or barbecue -what more do you need? i’ve already written about my favorite lentil salad, as well as a delicious pasta salad with tofu, but i want to submit a new one for the collection: mediterranean orzo salad.

orzo

this salad, like most others, is about as simple and easy to customize as can be. take orzo, add a bunch of stuff you like, stir it up, and eat it. i have a tendency to go a little overboard with fresh veggies and other goodies, so my recipe includes red onion, peppers, tomatoes, spinach, basil, and garlic, along with feta cheese, olives, and capers. you don’t have to use that much stuff if you don’t want – use what’s in your house, or what you find at the farmer’s market. use what makes you happy. 

garlic

 

clearly, garlic makes me happy.

salad closeup

mediterranean orzo salad

12 ounces orzo, cooked according to package directions
3 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, pressed or diced
juice and zest of 1 lemon
2 large handfuls of baby spinach, roughly chopped
10 olives, roughly chopped (i used a mix of stuffed green and kalamata)
5 ounces crumbled feta cheese
1 medium tomato, diced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced
1/4 small red onion, finely sliced
2 tsp capers
salt and pepper to taste

in a large sauce pan, warm the olive oil over medium heat. add garlic and allow to saute for 1-2 minutes, until golden brown. add cooked orzo and stir, coating in garlic oil. put everything into a large bowl, and top with lemon juice and zest. add spinach, olives, feta cheese, tomato, pepper, onion, and capers. get liberal with your salting and peppering, and stir well. top with extra olive oil or lemon juice if you like.

this dish is great warm, and is also really yummy to make the day before and serve chilled. or you can do what i do and have some right after you make it, then put it in the refrigerator and eat some more later.

salad bowl

 

happy june! and get excited – i have another amazing giveaway coming up in the next few weeks!

citrus & chicken

it’s been an overwhelming few months.

ginger-snapped | citrus & chicken pasta salad

getting through the end of winter and welcoming spring with open arms. beginning a photography class and trying to boost my resume, fantasizing about working with food and drinks and words and photographs and social media and all those lovely things all day, every day. trying to come to terms with ginger-snapped | citrus & chicken pasta saladthe death of my long-ill grandmother and a bombing in my city, all in the same week. running a half marathon in dc a week and a half after the marathon bombers were apprehended, and being overwhelmed by support and love and refusing to give in to fear.

i haven’t known what to say here. too much has happened, and it feels like i’ve been struggling to keep my head above water. but as well as not writing, i haven’t been cooking either. and i miss both. these things keep me grounded, keep me together. they remind me of who i really am, what i want. and these things that i often take for granted, getting lost in a beautiful novel or letting my words spill out into the universe or playing with old ingredients to create something new – i need them. even if my dream job doesn’t exist, even if i end up doing something completely unrelated to food or visual media or writing – i need to keep doing this.

this blog is a selfish thing, really. sometimes it keeps me sane. it reminds me to take joy in small victories, to continue writing and taking pictures and staying in touch with other food-loving people in my life. it makes me happy, even when it’s not easy.

ginger-snapped | citrus & chicken pasta salad

so does this recipe, actually. except that unlike my blog entries, this recipe takes about twenty minutes to prepare.

ginger-snapped | citrus & chicken pasta salad

the story of this dish is a little strange. i’m taking a photography class at the new england school of photography with a delightful photographer named keitaro yoshioka, and it’s absolutely wonderful. and after classes on the basics, on light, portraits, sports, families, and landscapes, we finally got to my bread and butter (pun only partially intended) – still life photography.

naturally, after playing with some other objects, i just had to start shooting food. wanting to play more withginger-snapped | citrus & chicken pasta salad natural light, as well as use studio lighting and some other techniques we’d learned in class, i chose several vivid citrus fruits, cut them into various shapes, and spent a delightful afternoon playing around with my camera.

of course, i was left with some images that i really loved…and a large tupperware bursting with fresh-cut citrus, just waiting to be used in some bright, tart, addictive dish.

what else could i do but start cooking?

ginger-snapped | citrus & chicken pasta salad

the great thing about cold pasta salads like this is that you can adapt them to whatever you have on hand. try adding capers, or bell peppers, or a little red onion. leave out the feta or switch it up for another cheese that you like. use greek yogurt with lemon juice instead of the vinaigrette if you’re pressed for time or want it to be creamier or simply aren’t in the mood to dice up a shallot. and if you don’t happen to have a refrigerator full of cut-up fruit, you can use whatever you like. try all lemon, add some more lime, or focus more on the grapefruit. it’s completely up to you – think of this recipe as more of a rough guideline.

ginger-snapped | citrus & chicken pasta saladcitrus chicken & pasta salad with honey-citrus vinaigrette

1 1/2 lbs chicken breast or chicken tenders, shredded
12 ounces pasta, cooked al dente
1 large tomato, diced
6-8 basil leaves, finely diced
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
salt and pepper, as needed to taste

vinaigrette
(this recipe makes more than you’ll need for the pasta salad – use the rest on greens, veggies, or as a marinade for fish or poultry!)

1 medium shallot, finely diced
2 tablespoons honey
3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup fresh grapefruit juice
4 tbsp fresh lime juice
salt and pepper to taste

in a large bowl, combine shredded chicken (this is my preferred method of preparing the shredded chicken), cooled pasta, tomato, basil, feta cheese, and red pepper flakes. in a mason jar or reusable container, combine shallot, honey, olive oil, white wine vinegar, orange juice, grapefruit juice, lime juice, salt, and pepper. toss as much dressing as you like in with the chicken and pasta mixture, then add extra salt and pepper as needed. you can serve this warm and eat it immediately, or chill it until you’re ready – it’s yummy either way.

ginger-snapped | citrus & chicken pasta salad

a french onion soup day.

some days are soup days. no explanations necessary.

ginger-snapped - french onion soup

and soup is a delightful thing. on a soup day, there are no possible substitutions. nothing else can warm a soul that is chilled to the bone, a body that is weary, or a heart that needs comforting. and many soups can do this job quite well. some days require simple, beautiful tomato soup (grilled cheese optional but encouraged). other days i want to feel like a real boston girl and enjoy some fresh new england clam chowder. and my vegetable minestrone is a favorite in our house for a hearty meal that still fills the soup criteria.

ginger-snapped - french onion soup

but yesterday was a french onion soup kind of day. the dogs were cranky, my husband has been traveling far too much, and spring keeps teasing us by poking its head out, looking around, and then ducking when boston gets nailed with another half a foot of snow.
ginger-snapped - french onion soupi’m craving greenery. i’m so tired of white and gray, of big, ugly snow boots and too many layers. i can’t
wait to see buds on the trees
, to spot flowers slowly unfurling from the earth, and to savor that delicious, indescribably gorgeous scent that always lingers when spring is approaching. you know what i’m talking about. winter smells pretty too, but i’m ready for a new fragrance.

but until spring actually arrives, we must content ourselves with the comforting flavors of almost-spring… i.e. warm, boozy, sweet, salty and fragrant french onion soup. with bread and cheese on top. and a glass of wine on the side.

ginger-snapped - french onion soup

i’m a simple girl. bread, cheese, onions, and wine – that’s pretty much all that i need to keep me happy.

this recipe is essentially julia’s, with a few modifications. i used homemade turkey stock, but you’re free to substitute chicken stock or more beef stock (or use a hearty vegetable or mushroom stock if you don’t eat meat). also, this soup is so good on its own that you don’t technically need to top it with the crouton and cheese…but i’m never one to turn down bread and cheese.

ginger-snapped - french onion soup

(let’s not pretend this is a healthy meal. soup days are not days that we count calories.)

classic french onion soup

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oilginger-snapped - french onion soup
6 tbsp butter
5 cups sliced onions
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp flour
1 cup white wine (i like to use chardonnay but do what you want)
2 cups beef stock
4 cups turkey or chicken stock 
1 clove minced garlic
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
3 tbsp brandy or cognac
salt and pepper, to taste (if necessary)

a few thick slices of crusty bread
2 tbsp butter
8 oz gruyère cheese, grated

in a large saucepan or stockpot, heat oil and butter until melted. add the onions and cook covered, on low heat, for 10-15 minutes. uncover and add sugar and salt. turn heat up to medium, and cook, stirring frequently, until caramelized a deep, even brown, about 40 minutes. (this is a good time to put on fun music or reruns of your favorite television show, because while your house is going to smell amazing, it’s a little boring stirring onions and waiting for them to brown*.)

ginger-snapped - french onion souponce onions are browned, add flour and stir, allowing to cook for another 3 minutes. add minced garlic and worcestershire sauce, and cook for another minute before adding wine, beef stock, and turkey stock. cover partially and simmer for another 30-40 minutes. add brandy, salt and pepper to taste if needed, and you’re done.

at this point, if you’re making the soup ahead (which i highly recommend but rarely have the strength to accomplish), let it cool and put it away. the flavor will just continue to deepen and develop until you’re ready to eat. if you’re like me and can’t resist the fragrance that will be filling your home, move on to the next step.

spread thick slices of crusty bread with butter and toast until crunchy. spoon soup into oven-safe bowls and top with bread and a generous amount of gruyère. place on a baking sheet and pop these under the broiler until cheese is bubbling and golden brown. eat immediately.

*cook’s illustrated has developed a method of caramelizing onions in the oven, which appears to work very well. my dutch oven isn’t large enough, but if you try it, please report back!

ginger-snapped - french onion soup

the last week

our european adventure is almost over.

i have a lot of mixed feelings about leaving. on the one hand, this was the experience of a lifetime. what american-born foodie doesn’t dream of living in europe and traveling as much as (financially) possible? i’ve had so many incredible opportunities, made some awesome new friends, seen beautiful cities, and eaten delicious new cuisines. my world has expanded.

but it’s not an easy thing to leave all your friends and family behind for a few months. i’m not very good at keeping in touch with people, and i miss my friendships. i miss my dog like crazy. i miss being able to ask for things in english and not struggling to understand simple words and phrases. i miss my big, beautiful kitchen. i miss knowing where to shop when i need a new pair of flats or fresh herbs. and i miss having a purpose. being unemployed is fun for a little bit, since i’m here for my husband and there’s no guilt associated with it (yet!) – but things are coming to an end, and job searching is stressful and disheartening. i want to find something that sparks my creativity, that lets me feel useful and appreciated, and that involves food, travel, photography, and writing. surely my dream job is out there, waiting for me.

but until i return to america and pick up a six-pack of guinness (which i can’t find in budapest) and whip up some fish tacos (i miss mexican food like crazy), i’m determined to enjoy my last two weeks in europe. week one is in budapest, and week two will be spent road tripping to france with my husband. unless we get hopelessly lost, expect to see photos (and perhaps some video) from prague, paris, lyon, nice, and venice.

i can’t think of a better send-off…except perhaps for this yummy hungarian
potato stew called paprikás krumpli. i wanted to feature a vegetarian version of one of the most famous and ubiquitous hungarian dishes, goulash, but this dish features meat so prominently in both texture and flavor that replacing it seems to be more trouble than it’s worth. perhaps when i’m back in the states and can more easily read labels for things like spices, i’ll attempt to make my own version, but until then – enjoy this hearty, filling, and inexpensive dish, filled with classic hungarian flavors.

hungarian paprika potato stew (paprikás krumpli)

2 tbsp olive oil
1 large white onion, diced

5 large potatoes, peeled and diced
1 paprikas or bell pepper, cored, seeded, and diced
1 15 oz can chopped tomatoes
4 cups stock, vegetable or chicken
2 tsp hot paprika
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp celery seed
1 tsp dried parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup cream 

in a large stockpot, heat olive oil and saute onion for about 5 minutes. add diced potatoes, pepper, tomatoes, stock, paprikas, celery seed, and parsley. add salt and pepper to taste. cover and allow to simmer for 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender, stirring as little as possible so that potatoes don’t break up. stir in cream and allow to simmer for another 10-15 minutes. serve with warm bread.

stuffed paprikas

hungarian cuisine is starting to take over our lives.

we’ve now visited several different old-style hungarian restaurants, as well as some more modern ones. i’ve had chicken paprikas (naturally, i had to try one that wasn’t my own!), goulash (recipe coming soon), venison, veal, and a lot of duck. i just love eating duck. plus, i even made my chicken paprikas for some of my husband’s coworkers, and they seemed to enjoy it along with the fresh spaetzle, in spite of the fact that i trashed a friend’s kitchen in the process. spaetzle is delicious, but not the neatest, most elegant thing to make when you have people watching you.

but one of my favorite recipes to date, the one my husband can’t ever stop talking about, is a delicious, not-too-complicated, soul-soothing dish: stuffed paprikas.

in case you’re not aware – i’m not afraid to admit that i wasn’t until i got here – the word paprika is used in english to refer to the bright red spice, created by grinding dried peppers. but in many european languages, including hungarian, paprika refers to a fresh pepper. muddling the waters further, the dish called stuffed paprikas refers to a stuffed bell pepper (or paprikas pepper, as they’re labeled in the markets) that contains paprika (the spice) in the stuffing mixture. confusing, if you’re an ignorant american like myself, but you figure it out pretty quickly when a native hungarian tells you that you absolutely must make stuffed paprikas and you try to figure out how you could possibly stuff something into a ground spice.

insomnia is rough. it makes me easily confused.

anyway, the following recipe is from a native hungarian, who kindly emailed me instructions after taking me to the biggest market in the city to help me shop for ingredients. köszönöm, jutka!

hungarian stuffed paprikas

1 lb ground pork
1/2 cup rice, partially cooked
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp hungarian paprika, either sweet or hot
4-6 bell peppers, with tops and cores removed
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
15 ounces tomato sauce or puree
1 cup boiling water (optional)
2 tsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste 

in a large mixing bowl, combine ground pork, rice, egg, and paprika, adding a bit of salt and pepper. using your fingers, gently stuff the cored peppers with the meat mixture. if you have any remaining, add a bit of flour and create meatballs. place peppers and meatballs side by side in a large saucepan or stock pot.

in a saucepan, saute chopped onion in olive oil until lightly browned. add tomato sauce and, if it’s very thick, boiling water, and allow to come to a simmer. carefully pour tomato mixture over peppers and meatballs, then put over medium heat. top with chopped parsley, salt, and pepper, and cook over low heat for 15-20 minutes, or until peppers are just soft.

this dish is traditionally served over potatoes, either roasted with oil and seasonings or mashed. for a healthier alternative, try with sauteed winter greens or brown rice. for a hungarian touch, top the whole thing with (you guessed it!) sour cream.

and for all of you who keep complaining about the lack of dorky vacation-type photos, here’s a quick shot of us on our way out the door for our valentine’s day dinner:

i promise to put some shots of us up in my next post, once we get back from our next weekend trip – to rome!

cold bean salad with parsley almond pesto

yet again, my csa box inspires me.

sometimes i get ingredients that i’ve never used before, like romano beans – they kind of look like big pea pods. and who’s not excited about getting fresh garlic? i put garlic in everything. unfortunately my csa box has changed the pickup times on campus, and instead of having until 4pm to get there, now i only have until 3pm. this really sucks, since i drive into the city every day and can only leave my dog alone for so long – it seems ridiculous to drive in, get the box, drive home to drop it off, then turn around in 30 minutes and go back in for class. the main reason i chose this one is because of the convenience, but now? i might have to stop, unless i can find a way around this.

but i digress. today is my little brother’s birthday (hi eric!), and it’s also my friend kathryn’s birthday. birthdays in july mean picnics, barbecues, and running around in the grass, acting like we’re 6. i can’t wait.

in the meantime, i’ve gotta use up all of these veggies before they start to look sad, and i’ve been dying to experiment with a parsley pesto. the barbecue seemed like the perfect opportunity to combine a bunch of my csa ingredients into one fantastic summer dish: cold bean salad with parsley almond pesto. you’re welcome.

pesto is so fresh and delicious, and you can make it with just about anything. plus, it’s so easy to get it to just the consistency you want. when i’m spreading it on thick slices of crusty bread, i want it thick, like jam. but when i’m mixing it with salad or pasta, i throw in some extra olive oil to get it a bit thinner and help it stick to the veggies or noodles more evenly. and so on.

i didn’t measure any of my ingredients, so i can hardly call this a recipe – if you really want specific proportions, try this guy out, but it’s not quite the same as mine. and this would be really yummy with walnuts, but i didn’t have any.

for the pesto: in a food processor, combine the leaves from one bunch of parsley with a handful or two of whole toasted almonds, a pinch of dried thyme, and a bit of black pepper. gradually add olive oil until everything is finely pureed – add as much oil as you want until it’s the consistency you prefer. i like to make it thick, then add more oil later when i need it in a particular dish. move to a small bowl and add a splash of lemon juice, some sea salt, and a handful of grated parmesan cheese.

for the cold bean salad: trim the ends off of two pounds of your favorite beans – i used a pound each of romano beans and wax beans, since that’s what was in my csa this week. in a large pot, bring salted water up to a boil and blanch the beans for 4-5 minutes. drain and let cool, then chop into 1 1/2 to 2 inch pieces. combine with several big scoops of pesto, and additional olive oil if needed. chill until ready to serve.

csa yumminess

i love my csa box. i’m not really sure why it’s taken me this long to sign up for one, but it’s one of the best things about my summer. granted, my summer is basically filled with classes, and i haven’t been to the beach at all yet, and i barely see my super busy workaholic husband, and i haven’t slept in about a week. but still – my csa box is totally rockin’.

this week, i got carrots, beets, potatoes, summer squash, raspberries, parsley, wax beans, romano beans, sugar snap peas, and garlic. so many great, basic ingredients that i can do so many things with – i could hardly wait to get into the kitchen and start cooking.

of course, i’m completely exhausted. don’t get me wrong, my cooking and baking classes are absolutely worth the exhaustion that they create – i’m learning every single day, and my confidence in the kitchen is blowing up. but all this work has the unfortunate effect of making me a bit lazy in my own home kitchen, looking for quick and easy recipes that aren’t too complicated, that i can make with a glass of wine or while i’m still half asleep.

so…potato and summer squash gratin, thanks to a simple online recipe that i adapted slightly with my own ingredients – namely, regular potatoes, skim milk, and a rather obscene amount of grated parmesan cheese.

there’s not much need for a recipe. basically, chop up a few potatoes and a couple summer squashes (squashi? what is the plural of squash?), then layer them in a olive oil coated baking dish with handfuls of your favorite cheese and some salt and pepper. top with a bit of milk and some extra cheese. bake covered at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, then remove cover and bake for 15 more minutes until the top is golden brown. top with fresh herbs and serve.

it rules. and tomorrow, i’m gonna whip up some parsley and walnut pesto with some of my other goodies. yum.

the incredible, edible (delicious, exciting) egg

anybody who claims not to like eggs just hasn’t tried them enough.

remember julia roberts in runaway bride? not that i’m recommending this film, because it really is awful, but i love the little detail of eggs that runs through it. the idea is that none of the men that julia attempts to marry really know her, and richard gere uses eggs to prove it. every guy thinks that she likes eggs “the same way i do – [scrambled/fried/poached/stomped on the ground/whatever].” the truth is, even she doesn’t know how she likes her eggs, because she doesn’t try any other kind, instead just ordering whatever her man-of-the-moment prefers.

i know, it’s too early for sappy rom-com clichés - sorry. here’s a better point: did you know that the tall white master chef’s hats traditionally have 100 pleats, since the chef should know (at least) 100 ways to prepare an egg? eggs are ridiculously versatile, can be used for any meal (not just breakfast or brunch…or brinner!), and can take on any texture from soft to runny to firm to whipped.

all this to say: eggs are awesome. and don’t tell me you don’t like them just because you think poached eggs are gross or your mom always made your scrambled eggs too runny. stop whining and get out a pan – i promise, you’ll find a type of egg that you can’t get enough of.

culinary classes are going well, thanks for asking. next week we’re making eggs, so i thought i’d get in the mood by trying a brand new egg recipe (new to me, anyway). like any good culinary student, i pulled out my copy of julia child’s mastering the art of french cooking, flipped through the egg chapter, and found my breakfast: oeufs en cocette (eggs baked in ramekins).

they’re super easy, probably horrible for you, and taste absolutely delicious. seriously, no culinary skill of any sort required – if you can preheat your oven and crack an egg, you’re pretty much golden.

oeufs en concette

(ingredients per serving)
1/2 tsp butter
2 tbsp whipping cream
1-2 eggs

preheat oven to 375 degrees, and fill a pan with about half an inch of water, placing over medium heat until water is simmering. lightly butter a ramekin (one per serving), and save a bit for later. add 1 tablespoon of cream, and set the ramekins into the pan. when the cream is hot, break the egg into the ramekin, then top with the rest of the cream and the last of the butter.

(if you want, you can mix other goodies in with the cream, or just sprinkle them on after you put the cream in. i added some chopped spinach and a bit of grated romano cheese. try anything that sounds good, but these are also great plain.)

carefully move the pan into your hot oven and bake for 7-10 minutes. according to julia, “the eggs are done when they are just set but still tremble slightly in the ramekins.” the eggs will cook a bit more once you take them out of the oven, so it’s better to pull them out slightly undercooked if you can. season with salt and pepper, and serve immediately.

summer gazpacho

i love to cook, but when it’s hot out i like to just keep things simple. pour a big glass of iced tea, put my feet up, and relax with something cool and refreshing to eat. enter: gazpacho. crisp, flavorful and delicious, gazpacho is ridiculously easy to prepare, and can be made with just about anything.

we made the simple chilled soup in my very first culinary class last week, following a basic recipe and throwing it together in no time. i really enjoyed what we created – the recipe included tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, peppers, scallions, garlic, and bread crumbs, plus a splash of red wine vinegar and some olive oil. but i wanted to try something that was just…more. more flavors, more textures, more contrast. gazpacho is supposed to be smooth and almost creamy, with a rich texture and smooth mouthfeel. i browsed through tons of recipes and finally found one that i liked (though of course, i messed with it a bit), that included some extra garnishes to give more contrast in texture. i especially love the cool creaminess of the goat cheese and the smooth coolness of diced avocado.

of course, gazpacho by nature is super easy to customize. basically anything that sounds good can get thrown into the mix. the basic recipe: breadcrumbs and oil for texture, plus whatever sounds delicious or you have on hand at the time. try fruits, seafood, bacon, or even roasted vegetables from your garden.

plus, isn’t everything better with goat cheese?

summer gazpacho with goat cheese

4 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 large cucumber, peeled and chopped
1/2 red onion, roughly chopped
3 tbsp breadcrumbs
1 cup v8 or tomato juice
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
6 tbsp chopped fresh basil
3 tbsp chopped fresh mint
6 ounces plain goat cheese
1 tbsp lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
12 sugar snap peas
1/2 avocado, diced

in a large bowl, combine tomatoes, cucumber, onion, breadcrumbs, v8 juice, olive oil, lemon juice, 4 tablespoons of the chopped basil and all of the chopped mint. puree mixture in food processor, working in batches if necessary, until all ingredients are smooth and creamy. keep in refrigerator until chilled.

in a small bowl, combine goat cheese, lemon juice, salt and pepper. pop in refrigerator until you’re ready to serve.

grab a saucepan and put several cups of water on to boil. throw in peas and cook until tender, about a minute or two. remove with a slotted spoon and allow to cool completely, then slice diagonally in half.

when everything is chilled, serve with garnishes – chopped avocado, goat cheese mixture, and several sugar snap peas.

lemon blueberry happiness

after a week of dismal rain and overcast skies, i woke up this morning to sunlight streaming through my window. it’s the first sunny morning i can remember in awhile, and it’s also the first morning i’ve woken up without being in immediate pain from my fall last week.

i was going through the automatic motions of making coffee, trying to figure out what i was craving. sunshine can have that effect on me – one minute i’m happily eating chili in june, the next i need something fresh and light, something that speaks of hot weather and sunny skies. i’m not much of an optimist, but i really love the summer. i think if you were born in a sunny state, even if you didn’t strictly grow up there, it never really leaves you – and i was born in southern california.

what did i want? pancakes with honey? a peppery, cheesy omelette? croissants?

for me, the ultimate summer combination is lemon and blueberries. i know, it’s not that unique – but it’s so delicious. i love lemons to a ridiculous degree, and try to sneak lemon juice or zest into anything i can think of. but when i can make it the star of the show, especially with fresh blueberries, i’m a happy girl.

if you’re reading this, and you find yourself suddenly craving these muffins, don’t worry – it takes about 35 minutes from conception to eating. 10 to make, 20 to bake, 5 to cool, and you’ve got breakfast/lunch/snacks/your meals for the next 2 days (that’s me). Continue reading