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?

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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!

What’s For Lunch #2: Crostini with Side Salad + Restaurant Photography

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What I do for you guys.

Yesterday, I was out shopping at lunch time. I was pretty sure this would be the case, so I made sure to bring along my big ‘ol DSLR. I felt just a little silly bringing my boxy camera bag into the restaurant, but I wanted to share my lunch with ya’ll.
Know what? Photography in a restaurant is pretty difficult and a bit embarrassing. First, in a crowded restaurant, you have to move around until you find a table with good light. Then, you have to furtively take out your huge camera and pretend to casually take photos of your food. Everything within you cries out as you want to bend over your food, finding the best angle. But everyone around you would think you were crazy.

What I do for you guys.

Here’s what I had: Crostini (toasted baguette) with a cheese spread, topped with bacon and scallions, and a side salad (one of the best salads I’ve ever had at a restaurant). It was excellent.

What did you have for lunch today?

Mango & Coconut Chicken

……As I glanced through Simply Summer by Angela Tunner, this recipe caught my eye. You see, I’m a sucker for anything involving coconut. Not only does it taste so wonderfully exotic, it is also very healthy. Granted, the sweetened shredded coconut used in this recipe is not the most healthy variety of coconut products, but it still tastes delicious.

……This recipe is perfect for that scorching summer day when you don’t feel like adding any extra heat to the house. You could cook the chicken the night before, or on some day that’s pleasantly cool. It is very filling, so you can serve it as your main dish. Or spread it on a piece of you favorite bread to create a very different chicken salad sandwich.

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Mango & Coconut Chicken

From Simply Summer

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups torn or shredded cooked chicken (about 3 medium chicken breasts)
  • 1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons Major Grey mango chutney*
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt (I used sour cream)
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped Italian parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • Pepper, black, to taste

Directions:

1) Place the chicken pieces in a medium bowl. Add the shredded coconut, lemon juice, mustard, chutney, and yogurt and toss until well combined. Add the parsley and toss to combine.

2) Stir in the salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary. Serve immediately or refrigerate until needed.

Serves 4

*Angela’s Tip: Major Grey is no a brand of chutney, it is a style of chutney. Look for it under various brand names in your supermarket in the condiments or ethnic section


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 Β°F.Β  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 160Β° 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.Β  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.