Fourth of July Recipe Roundup

I can’t believe it’s almost July! This beautiful, amazing summer is flying by. And now that it’s nearly July (ONE more day, ack!), that means Fourth of July is right around the corner. It’s a pretty fun holiday for me in Cleveland, we tend to spend the day with B’s family who lives pretty much on the lake  and enjoy a cookout, live music and fireworks along the water. Oh, and of course some delicious food.

I love Fourth of July themed goodies. Red, white and blue cookies, cupcakes, and more. Here are a few Independence Day recipes I’m eyeing and would love to bake – if only I had all the time in the world AND endless mouths to feed!

Red, White and Blue Sugar Cookie Bars

Red, white and blue Chex

4th of July Bark

Patriotic Spiral Cookies

Red, white and blue blondies

Patriotic Bundt Cake

Cupcakes in a Jar

Don’t those look amazing? If you could pick just one of those, which would you make? Come on, help me – I can’t decide – I want to make them all!!

A Weekend With Friends in the CLE

Do you have a group of friends or a friend that you don’t see too often (perhaps because you live far apart) but each time you meet up it’s like things have never changed and you can pick up right where you left off? That’s my Jane and Melgar. We’ve been friends since 7th grade and even though we went to different colleges and now live in different cities, we stay in touch and see each other once a year.

Look what I found in my old yearbook! Five high school best friends before junior year prom. LOOK AT THOSE DRESSES.

Look what I found in my old yearbook! Five high school best friends before junior year prom. LOOK AT THOSE DRESSES.

This year, even with Melgar’s wedding, we managed to get together in my current home – Cleveland! It had been 5 or 6 years since they had been in town and it’s crazy to think about how much life has changed since then – not only how much Cleveland has changed but how much we have changed. New jobs, marriage, new significant others, new cities, grad school – seriously, so much has changed.

Obligatory picture of Jane and Melgar and I the last time they were in CLE - posing at Edgewater

Obligatory picture of Jane and Melgar and I the last time they were in CLE – posing at Edgewater. We don’t look that different do we?

Anyway, we had a GREAT weekend, if I do say so myself. We enjoyed time at some downtown bars (from Moriarty’s to Lincoln Tap House to Society Lounge) and restaurants (Greenhouse Tavern, Phuel and Taza), in Ohio City (West Side Market and Town Hall), and even Tremont (Press Wine Bar and Treehouse). Oh yeah, we also went for a run, got to watch some World Cup AND went to the beach. I’d say it was a successful weekend!

Some fabulous photos from the weekend (in no order):

Watching the soccer game at Moriarty's

Watching the soccer game at Moriarty’s

Then fancy cocktails at Society

Then fancy cocktails at Society

Easy run in the morning around downtown

Easy run in the morning around downtown

Catching some rays (and ice cream) on the beach

Catching some rays (and ice cream) on the beach

Walking to the West Side Market and brunch

Walking to the West Side Market and brunch (side note – a runner stopped mid-run and asked if we wanted our photo taken! How nice is that?)

Hanging out at the mini flea market in Ohio City

Hanging out at the mini flea market in Ohio City

brunch at Phuel

brunch at Phuel (pancake not pictured). Also realized I didn’t get a photo of our amazing meals at Greenhouse, Taza OR Town Hall!

patio drinks in Tremont

patio drinks in Tremont

Feeling American watching the World Cup drinking a Bud Light and eating a buffalo chicken salad

AND after they left, I drowned my sorrows in soccer. I felt pretty American watching the World Cup drinking a Bud Light and eating a buffalo chicken salad.

It was a great weekend and I can’t wait until I see these girls again soon. We always have such a great time catching up, relaxing and exploring whatever city we’re in. Where should we meet up next?

Some questions for you (answer in the comments if you can):

How was your weekend?

Did you watch the World Cup?

What’s your idea of “American” food? Beer, soda, wings, buffalo chicken and burgers!

Do you like fancy drinks? What’s your favorite cocktail?

Where is your favorite city to have a girl’s weekend? We need suggestions!

What’s your favorite brunch order? I’m typically a savory bruncher – eggs, sausage, bacon … etc. I got chili for brunch on Saturday and granola on Sunday. 

Meatless Monday: Cilantro Garlic Scape Pesto

B is one of those people who doesn’t like cilantro. He doesn’t mind it in moderation (as in 1-2 sprigs in a salad or guacamole), but that’s it. So when we received a few bunches of cilantro in our Fresh Fork summer share, I knew I’d have to make something pretty amazing that would help us use the cilantro fast. And then when I only ended up using half our garlic scapes in a stir fry one night the idea came to me – cilantro garlic scape pesto.

Looking online, I was surprised to find quite a few pesto recipes featuring cilantro, garlic scapes, and other CSA-friendly ingredients. I chose/created this one because these were the ingredients I had on hand. It’d certainly be delicious with another type of nut and an added sprinkle (or two) of parmesan!

Cilantro Garlic Scape Pesto

Cilantro Garlic Scape Pesto

Here’s what you need:

  • 10 garlic scapes
  • 1 bunch cilantro (roughly about 1 cup)
  • 1/4 cup chopped or slivered almonds
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil

Here’s what you do:

  1. Cut up garlic scapes into 1-2 inch pieces. Add sliced scapes and cilantro to blender. Mix well.
  2. Add in slivered almonds, continue to blend until a thick paste forms.
  3. Add in olive oil, one tablespoonful at a time and continue to blend until paste becomes somewhat creamy. Add in extra salt, scapes, cilantro or oil to taste, as necessary.
  4. Enjoy! Makes about 1/3 cup pesto- perfect on top of some pasta, zoodles, or even chicken (for a non-meatless dish).

Cilantro Garlic Scape Pesto

Some questions for you:

  • Do you have a CSA? What’s the strangest ingredient you’ve gotten?
  • What’s your favorite pesto recipe use? I love the basic pesto with pignoli nuts and basil. 
  • Are you a cilantro fan? Yes I am! Love it on chicken, salsa, seafood (especially raw seafood – hello ceviche!), and more.

 

Chocolate Heath Bar Pecan Cookies

I love Heath Bar. I know, I’ve professed my love for all things Heath Bar before – and told you it was probably my favorite candy, thanks to my early love of Ben & Jerry’s Heath Bar Crunch ice ream (which is no more:(). But seriously – a cookie or candy or dessert with Heath Bar is deadly around me – I just can’t say no!

Which is why when I was perusing my Magnolia Bakery cookbook and came upon this recipe, my eye immediately was drawn to the page with the Chocolate Drop Cookies. Even though I don’t really like chocolate cookies (I know, I’m weird), I knew I had to give these a try. Heath Bar AND white chocolate chips? Count me in! At least I could share them, right?

Chocolate Heath Bar Pecan Cookies

Chocolate Heath Bar Pecan Cookies

Here’s what you need:

  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/3 cups unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons milk (I used unsweetened original Almond Breeze almond milk – it’s what I had on hand)
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups pecans, chopped
  • 1 cup Heath Bars cut up into small chunks (I bought the pre-diced bars from the baking aisle)
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Here’s what you do:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients – flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt – in large bowl and set aside.
  3. In another  bowl cream the butter and sugars until smooth. Add eggs and beatwell. Then, add the milk and vanilla. Blend for another minute or until no lumps remain.
  4. Stir in flour mixture and mix thoroughly. Add the pecans, chopped Heath bar and the white chocolate chips.
  5. Refrigerate batter until firm, about 45 minutes (or freeze for 25-30 min).
  6. Drop tablespoon size dallops of dough on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  7. Bake for about 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven, cool cookies on the sheet. Remove the cookies after 1 minute and cool on wire cooling rack.
Chocolate Heath Bar Pecan Cookies

Enjoy! Milk optional.

 

Some questions for you:

  • What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream?
  • What’s your favorite candy to add to cookies?
  • Almond milk, regular milk or soy milk? Almond milk all the way. Yum!
  • Besides traditional chocolate chip cookies – what’s your favorite kind? I need suggestions 🙂

When Life Gives You Strawberries … Make Strawberry Bread!

B and I have started our second year of our Fresh Fork CSA and we’ve been having a blast each week with our new bags – we already roasted our first chicken (ok, well B roasted it), cooked up our turtle beans, and enjoyed our chorizo with an amazing fajita salad. In fact, the one thing we still hadn’t really touched this week were the strawberries we got as a bonus. I noticed they were starting to go bad, and while I would’ve loved to eat a pint of fresh stories in a day by myself, I didn’t know if my stomach would appreciate it. So, I scoured the web and my cookbooks for some strawberry dessert recipes.

I didn’t want to make a cobbler or a pie. I do like cobblers and pies – but not as much as I like breads and cookies. So I was pleased when I came upon this recipe from one of my favorite blogs, Sally’s Baking Addiction. I made only the most minor tweaks and am so pleased with how the recipe came out. The next time you have extra strawberries laying around – or just want a new bread/muffin to make, try this out! It’s a perfect summer recipe.

strawberry bread - i crashed the web

Strawberry Bread

Here’s what you need:

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light or dark brown sugar
  • 2 cups buttermilk (I have dry buttermilk on hand – this was 8 TBS + 2 c water)
  • 2/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, hopped, and tossed in 2 Tablespoon of flour and 1 Tablespoon sugar

Here’s what you do:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Spray 2  8 1/2 x 4 1/2 loaf pans with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon together until combined and set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix the eggs and sugars together until combined. Add in buttermilk, oil, and vanilla.
  4. Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and gently combine until there are no more lumps. Do NOT overmix, this results in a tough bread. Fold in the strawberries.
  5. Pour batter into bread pans. Bake the bread for 50 minutes to 1 hour or until a toothpick poked into the center of the bread comes out clean.  Allow bread to cool completely.
  6. Batter can also be made into 24 muffins; bake muffins for 15-18 minutes at 350 also.

 

strawberry muffins - i crashed the web

 

 

Some questions for you:

  • Do you participate in a CSA? Or buy your produce, etc. locally?
  • What’s your favorite strawberry-themed food? Is it a pie or cobbler or ice cream?
  • Favorite muffin or bread? Zucchini bread – love my mom’s recipe.
  • Muffins or bread? Usually bread-  like banana bread or zucchini bread. But muffins help with portion control  – and sharing!

Double Header Wedding Weekend

This weekend was B and my first double header wedding weekend. That’s right – two weddings, two cities, one weekend. It was just as fun and crazy and tiring as you may imagine.

Wedding #1: Eric and Julia 

B and I know Eric from college. Eric was in our wedding and one of B’s roommates. We’ve stayed in touch since college and even stayed with them when we visited Nashville earlier this year. We started off Friday with the 6ish hour drive to Virginia, where Wedding #1 was located.  We got up bright and early Saturday morning to go for a run and explore the area we were staying in – gorgeous Old Town Alexandria. If you’ve never been there before, I highly recommend a visit – I’d been there with Melgar and Jane once before but never spent too much time or stayed in the area.

View of the water just outside of Old Town Alexandria

View of the water just outside of Old Town Alexandria

After our short run, B and I headed to visit Emily, a friend we met in Cleveland who is now living in the DC area. B went to law school with Emily’s husband and we were bummed to see them move away – but now we have friends to see in DC! Anyway, Emily had a beautiful baby boy less than a year ago and looks amazing – and their baby is 100% ADORABLE. I’m so bummed I didn’t snap a pic – I was too distracted by his cuteness to remember to take a photo.

great lunch at Le Pain Quotidien

great lunch at Le Pain Quotidien – not pictured – the loads of bread and jams and nutella that came with this

Then, after an amazing lunch in Old Town, it was nearly wedding time!  The ceremony was at Eric’s high school in DC and was emotional and beautiful. And then it was time for the reception – it was at an outdoor celebration at an old plantation in Virginia and gorgeous. Julia’s family is from France, so the reception included some amazing wines and cheeses – in addition to some great dancing and a fun after party.

amazing first course salad

amazing first course salad

B and me outside the church

B and me outside the church

Wedding #2: Beth and Mario

Beth is B’s cousin. We’ve seen her and Mario a few times a year, including our annual family softball tournament.

Despite being out pretty late Saturday night, B and I started off Sunday early with the long drive back to Ohio for Wedding #2. Some DC traffic and getting started a little later than planned meant that we ended up running somewhat late and when we were about an hour away, B told me we probably wouldn’t have time to head back to our apartment to get changed. Uh oh. I wasn’t wearing my sweatshirt and shorts … so we ended up wearing the same thing to wedding #2 and getting changed in the car on the way over.

the  "in-laws" (all of us married into the family)

Jenni, Steph and I – the “in-laws” (all of us married into the family)

Thank goodness we made it -the reception was beautiful and we enjoyed some great specialty cocktails and a ginormous dessert table that I will dream about in weeks to come. Not to mention the photobooth. And the dancing – the DJ played a great combo of “wedding music” for people of all ages to old school 90s hip hop to today’s hits. And the celebration went on until nearly midnight (B and I left a little before then) without people tiring out.

photobooth fun with the group of cousins

photobooth fun with the group of cousins

Phew!  I need a weekend to recover form my long, fun, dance-filled weekend.

  • How was your weekend?
  • Do you have a lot of weddings to go to this year? Just one more 🙂 Which would make our total this year to be 5.
  • Do you repeat outfits/dresses to celebrations? How do you give them a different look?  I wore a different necklace and pair of shoes from one wedding to another this time – the outfit I had planned for wedding #2 didn’t work out because we ran out of time.
  • Ever had 2 weddings in one weekend? First time!
  • What’s your favorite song to dance to at weddings?

National Running Day!

Happy National Running Day to all my runner and non-runner friends. It’s a great day, a day to remind us why we run, and to be grateful for the fact that we can, indeed run. Whether it’s running marathons, or doing our own run/walk around the block – we’re all runners and all deserve a day to celebrate.

lake erie

The lake this morning during my run – peaceful and quiet

I kicked off my morning with an easy, unplanned 5 mile run around downtown, stopping to take photos at some of my favorite areas – the lake, the mall and of course the view.

Photo from my phone - view of downtown from my run

Photo from my phone – view of downtown from my run

I ran with no music, no headphones (as I have been doing more and more) and just enjoyed the breeze, the cooler-than-normal weather and spent the whole time thinking about why I run. A few other bloggers are participating in the exercise (no pun intended) so I decided to contemplate my own personal reasons.

irun

WHY I RUN:

  1. Because it keeps me sane. I think I’d go crazy if I didn’t run. Actually, B’s seen it. I do go crazy if I don’t go for a run.
  2. Because it gives me “me time.” Yes, I know I’ve been running with friends more and more, but there’s still something nice about running alone – or even running with someone else – that allows you to clear your head, gather your thoughts, and just breathe.
  3. It reminds me how lucky I am. Especially on the days that my legs are tired, feet are sore or shins are hurting, I realize how lucky I am that I can run. I am healthy, young and (somewhat) fit – and so grateful to be able to just lace up and go, wherever and whenever.
  4. Because I love to bake. And eat. Most of the time I’m a pretty healthy eater. I love vegetables, love lean meats and fish and good-for-you fats (helllo avocados!). But I also have a sweet tooth and an addiction to baking (yes, in addition to my addiction to running). I know that running doesn’t help counteract all the bad things I put into my body but I like to think that even though I’m not the “typical size-0 runner” that non-runners think of, it keeps me less than the 500-lb person I’d probably be if I didn’t run. Oh, and running helps me crave the healthy foods. Most of the time, after a run, I love fueling my body with protein and vegetables – not sugary sweet treats.
  5. Because it’s helped me form relationships. I’ve bonded with B’s sister over runs, and found time to connect with some other girls who live downtown based on running. We all live busy lives. We’re all different. But if you find someone who runs and find time to run with them, you form a relationship – and I’m so grateful for these friendships!

OK, enough cheesy running post. Cheers to National Running Day and I hope you go out and celebrate!