Happy Things

Hello all! Can you believe that February is already well on its way? Also, it’s only 10 days until my due date. I’m so ready for this kid to arrive!

Here are some things that have brought me joy over the past few weeks.

{2/52} Splash!

My first attempt at a splash photo. It made a huge mess.

Grapefruit Avocado Salad

Grapefruit + Avocado salad (spring greens, grapefruit, avocado, sea salt + fresh ground pepper, and a grapefruit juice vinaigrette). See the completed salad HERE.

Sam & Amanda

My sister, Amanda, got engaged. I had the fun of taking the engagement photos. See more HERE.

Flowers From Reuben

Reuben surprised me with flowers one evening.

Wintry Walk

On days when the weather will permit, it’s been fun to take leisurely walks through the woods.

Terrain Order

I decided that with part of my birthday money I should make an order from Terrain. I chose the Weck jelly jars and a wooden spoon.

Meyer Lemons

Meyer Lemons. Something new-to-me. So far I’ve made creme brulee with them, but I also want to try my hand at lemon curd.

Honey on Fresh Bread

Honey on fresh baked bread (with butter, of course). Is there anything better?

Hope you all are having a smashing 2013 so far. What has brought you joy lately?

Salad Inspiration

Salad Inspiration

I don’t know about you, but lately I’ve really been into salads. In fact, I’ve had one nearly every day for past week. All of the nutritious ingredients that I pile into my bowl make me happy, knowing that I’m doing my body (and my baby’s) good.

Often times I fall into a rut with my salads: Stuff greens into bowl. Add cheese, nuts and dressing. Repeat with exact same ingredients every day. But I’ve been attempting to be more creative and try new combinations. Here are a couple that I’ve been enjoying:

Mixed greens with clementines, avocado, red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, fresh ground pepper and coarse sea salt.



Salad Inspiration

Another lovely combo: mixed greens with cheese, pepitas, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Simple but satisfying.

I also tried an apple/gruyere combination. Very good.

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Also, these Smashed Potatoes with Parmesan Gremolata are AMAZING. Get the recipe over on the Good Life Eats blog here, and make them tonight!

What are your favorite salads? I need some inspiration!

Hope ya’ll have a happy Monday!

Erica

What’s For Lunch #3 + Food Photography + The Winners!

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Today for lunch I had a salad of organic baby greens and radicchio topped with cheddar cheese, pomegranate seeds, and honey french & blue cheese dressings. Absolutely delicious.

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Recently I acquired a few things that make food photography a pleasure: A new tripod, a couple sheets of card stock (one black and one white), and white foam board. I’ve been having fun experimenting with them. The card stock I use as backdrops, and the foam board for a reflector.

Here I demonstrate different reflectors. All photos were taken with the exact same exposure settings. The only thing that’s different is the reflector used. All photos SOOC (straight out of camera).

1. No reflector | 2. White foam board | 3. Silver reflector | 4. Gold reflector

I ended up using #2 for the final shot.

Now for the Giveaway Winners!

Commenter #33: Michele, who said: “I baked whole wheat buttermilk biscuits!”

and

Commenter #158 garysgirl, who said: “The last thing I baked was some delicious bread.”

Thank you so much to everyone who entered the giveaway!

Please share what you had for lunch today in the comments!

Chicken Salad for Sandwiches

We first tried this recipe about five years ago, for a tea party. It was a hit (at least among the female tasters), and it has been our chicken salad of choice ever since.

This recipe is creamy, yet not too greasy; rich, but balanced with fresh vegetables, sweet fruit, and toasted nuts.

It is excellent all on its own, but it makes a special little treat when served on buttered and toasted bread.

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:: Waldorf Chicken Salad ::

Adapted from The New Best Recipe

Ingredients:

Chicken

  • 2 large whole, bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts (for the best taste) or boneless, skinless chicken breasts (for ease of preparation)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt

Salad

  • 2 medium celery ribs, cut into small dice
  • 2 medium scallions, white and green parts, minced
  • 1 large crisp apple, cored and cut into medium dice
  • 6 tablespoons chopped, toasted walnuts
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons juice from 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
  • Salt and ground black pepper

Directions:

1) For the chicken: Heat the oven to 400 °F.  Put the breasts in a foil-lined lined baking sheet. Brush with the olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt to taste. Roast until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast reads 160° F, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool to room temperature. If using bone-in skin-on chicken breasts, remove the skin and bones and discard. Shred the meat.

2) For the Salad: Mix the shredded chicken and celery, scallions, apple, walnuts, mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon juice, and parsley together in a large bowl.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve. Can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 day.

Serves 6 as a main course

To make the sandwiches:

  • Your favorite bread for toasting, cut into triangles.
  • Butter
  • Lettuce
  • Waldorf Chicken Salad (see above for recipe)
  • Chopped green onions, for garnish, optional

1) Toast the bread, either in a toaster or under a broiler. Spread with butter. Allow to cool slightly.

2) Place a piece of lettuce on each triangle. Carefully spoon a portion of chicken salad on top of each. Garnish with green onions. Serve immediately.

Note: The sandwiches can be covered and refrigerated for a short while. The longer they stand, the soggier the toast will become.

A Party

Last Friday us girls hosted a party for a few friends. It was so much fun to quickly throw a menu together. Join me for a look at our splendid little party.

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:: The Menu ::

Lunch

Appetizers:

Piped Deviled Eggs

Cheese and Crackers

Soup:

Creamy Onion Soup with Croutons

Sandwiches:

Chicken Salad Sandwiches on Toasted Bread

Salad:

Fruit Salad

Dessert

Vanilla Rice Pudding with Whipped Cream

Poppy Seed Cake with Orange Cream

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Creamy Onion Soup, made by yours truly. 🙂

Janna made these delicious Chicken Salad Sandwiches, served on buttered, toasted bread.

Sister Amanda prepared these cute little deviled eggs. They were seasoned just right.

We decided to serve the fruit salad in tea cups. They looked so elegant.

We played a delightful little game. It is a Scandinavian tradition to place one almond in the rice pudding. Whoever finds the almond is promised to be the next to marry.

Breanna found the almond.

Amanda also made poppy seed cake. We served it with orange cream.

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Are you hungry yet? I promise to give you at least a few of these recipes. For now, I must away and roll out tortillas for supper. How prosaic. 😉

Would you like to see more photos of our party? Stop by my photo blog.

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Creamy Garlic Vinaigrette

It is nearly impossible for find a good (i.e. healthy) store-bought salad dressing that isn’t way overpriced. The solution: make your own! Here is my current favorite recipe.

: : Creamy Garlic Vinaigrette : :

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream or yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon white or red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press*
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

*2 cloves makes this dressing quite spicy. If you prefer a milder version, use the smaller amount.

Directions:

Place all ingredients in a small jar. Screw on the lid and shake until well blended. Allow to sit 1 hour for best flavor. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Makes about 1/2 cup