June 9, 2017

Ready, Set, Weekend with Simply Beautiful Eating

Guess what?

I HAVE OVENS!

Not one but two. Yep. That’s what I wanted in the new kitchen, because God only knows what the future will bring. I figured that it was a practical move since entertaining for a crowd will be inevitable. My mom always loved  her double ovens. When she hosted  large family gatherings twice a year, there was always enough room to place extra dishes in both to keep all the food nice and toasty.

Last night I made my first pizza in the lower oven. Why the lower one? It’s much easier to reach into. Despite the fact that there is still no running water on the main floor, I am absolutely thrilled to be able to bake, broil and roast again.

As an added bonus, Steve has planted all our fresh herbs in the garden and you know what that means? I’m out there snipping and clipping. Now, I’m not a big chive lover but to be honest, they were unbelievably good on this pizza. Along with the fresh herbs, I used sliced zucchini and farmers cottage cheese for my toppings. This was one fancy dancy pizza, don’t ya think?

Oh, and I also have counter space to work on now. OODLES of counter space, which I’m going to tell you about.

I’m in the midst of writing a detailed renovation blog, but I wanted to share this one piece of information with you today. If you have been following along in this adventure, you will remember that I have ISSUES in making up my mind. It’s not that I’m indecisive. Well, maybe a little. Okay, maybe A LOT.

I just want things to be RIGHT. I figured that I have to be in love with the choices I make for this kitchen, otherwise I will be waiting for the opportunity to change things in the future. Deciding on a counter top was one of the toughest decisions for me to make.

You see, being a food blogger means that you are going to beat the crap out of your work space. It means drips, spills, scratches and work space abominable messes. What does all that mean? It points towards choosing a durable surface that can withstand ME.

I searched and searched through every possible man made quartz counter top sample and finally decided on one.

THEN.

I changed my mind. (insert Steve’s eye roll thingie here) Let me tell you what happened.

I walked into a showroom to choose my quartz slab and the salesperson said “don’t look to the right”. When I asked her what she meant by “don’t look to the right”, she informed me that all the marble slabs were to the right and all the quartz slabs were to the LEFT.

So naturally I went to the right.

That was my first mistake, because I fell hopelessly IN LOVE. All the slabs I saw were exactly what I have dreamt of having in my kitchen. There wasn’t one person who didn’t try to talk me out of getting marble. I was basically told “it would be the worst decision ever”.

So what did I do?

I chose marble.

Am I insane for doing so? Probably. Is it beautiful? YES. Is it perfect? No. With every natural stone there are flaws, but I guarantee that there will be more once I start my usual kitchen antics.

I was super careful last night with this pizza. I used every trivet I had in the house to make sure that the pan didn’t come in contact with the counter. Worth it? Uh huh.

Making my own pizza dough is something that I love to do, but for a quick version and since I’m still running up and down the stairs for water, I used a store bought whole grain shell for this pizza. Easy peasy.

The whole shebang took me less than ten minutes to throw together and look how pretty it is!

I’m starting to see a light at the end of the kitchen tunnel. For instance, I have a couch now which has nothing to do with the kitchen, but it’s somewhere that we can sit now. Or should I say, the cat can sit. She was ecstatic that we gave her back some furniture to park her butt on. Why is it that she thinks she owns everything? Most likely because she DOES.

ZUCCHINI & FARMERS CHEESE PIZZA WITH FRESH CHIVES

– 1 store bought pizza shell
– flavored olive oil, I used garlic& herb
– 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
– ½ cup fresh baby spinach leaves
– 1 teaspoon dried oregano
– 2 zucchinis, thinly sliced, steamed and blanched
– 6 tablespoons farmers cottage cheese or goat cheese
– kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
– fresh basil leaves, for garnish
– 2 teaspoons chopped fresh chives for garnish

1) Preheat oven to 450F. Grease a 14-inch round pizza pan. Place your pizza shell on the pan and brush with flavoured oil.
2) Evenly sprinkle the shredded mozzarella over the crust. Top with spinach leaves. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and sprinkle the dried oregano evenly over the top.
3) Bake in the lower third of the oven until the crust is golden brown and cheese is bubbly and browning on top, 8 -10 minutes. Meanwhile, steam zucchini slices for 3 minutes in the microwave with 2 tablespoons of cold water. Drain and blanch in ice cold water.
4) Remove pizza from oven and top with zucchini, dollop farmers cottage cheese over it and sprinkle with chives. Place back into the oven for two to three minutes just to warm through. Slice and serve immediately.

See you next week!

debi @simplybeautifuleating

xx, Debi
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May 30, 2017

Spiked Cold Brew Coffee

It’s officially iced coffee season, and over Memorial Day weekend, I was inspired to make a more “festive” version of my favorite summer pick me up!

We had some Bailey’s lying around the studio after St. Paddy’s Day and I thought it would be a good idea to use it to spice up my cold brew coffee recipe.. and boy, was I right!

Here’s what you need:

-fresh cold brewed coffee (recipe here)
-Bailey’s Irish Creme liqueur
-ice

Here’s what to do:

1) Once you’ve made your cold brew coffee and let it sit in the fridge overnight, remove cold brew from fridge.  Add ice to each coffee glass.
2) Fill each glass almost full with cold brew coffee. On top of that, pour about 1 oz. of Bailey’s, or more if you have room.


3) Use straw to mix Bailey’s in, and add more if desired.

Since National Donut Day is coming up this week, I also added a little extra detail to this drink… a mini donut on the straw!

You can dunk the donut or eat it on its own. Either way, this coffee/ donut combo is an excellent way to start your morning off right this summer.

Hope you enjoy, and that you had an awesome Memorial Day Weekend! Cheers!

xx, Abby
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May 23, 2017

Strawberry + Basil Limoncello

Remember how I just went to Italy? I’m still having withdrawals. One of my favorite Italian beverages to enjoy, besides wine, is good ol’ limoncello, a lemon-based liqueur. When I was heading out of Rome on my way back to NYC, I decided to grab a bottle to bring back with me so I could play around and make a yummy cocktail!

I looked on Pinterest for inspiration, and decided to combine some seasonal fruit and fresh herbs, to make a Strawberry + Basil Limoncello Cocktail.

Here’s what you need:
-limoncello
-vodka
-club soda
-fresh strawberries
-fresh pink lemons
-fresh basil
-sugar

Here’s what to do:
1) Slice up your fresh lemons and strawberries; wash and rip up a few basil leaves.


2) Combine fresh strawberries, basil leaves, and 1 oz. vodka in a cocktail glass.  Muddle ingredients together and let sit to steep for 10 minutes.  Divide muddled mixture between cocktail glasses.


3) Measure 1 oz. of vodka into each cocktail glass.
4) Gently pour limoncello on top of vodka and muddled mixture.


5) Top with club soda. Garnish with fresh lemon slice on rim of glass.

Salute! Until next week…

 

xx, Abby
2 comments
Party conversation
  1. Celinda

    Love all your ideas ! My cousin had a baby last month and this would be just the thing we could do this summer !

  2. Abby

    Thanks so much, Celinda! Definitely a great summer drink for any occasion :)

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May 22, 2017

How To Host: The Perfect Picnic

Today…we’re going on a picnic. The weather has warmed up, the farmer’s markets in full swing and we want to GET OUTSIDE!

Having a picnic with your friends is so easy…if you’re organized. Assume there is nothing at the park so you have to bring it all. If you come prepared, you’ll have the most fabulous time.

When I go on a picnic I like to pack a little lunch box for each of my friends so we’re not scrambling at the park with serving a lot of different dishes. I make sandwiches, pack up fruit and add a sweet treat.

Nothing compliments a picnic more perfectly than lemonade. I buy a store bought bottle and add in sliced strawberries, lemon rounds and a few sprigs of mint.

The cherries looked so perfect so I grabbed a bag and ditto for the mini apple pie that I found in the Union Square Farmer’s Market.

I couldn’t resist grabbing a bunch of lilacs to bring along with us. They smelled so amazing and looked so pretty on our picnic blanket.

Since there’s a lot to schlep over to the park when having a picnic, I ask my friends to meet me at my apartment so they can help carry all the supplies and we can walk to the park together.

I brought a long a few paper plates, plastic cups and a knife to cut the pie. I also brought a paper bag for our trash and of course blankets and pillows.

We may or may not have snuck in a few cans of bubbly…shhhh.  Keep that on the down low.

See how to host the perfect picnic with our latest “How to Host” video. Enjoy!

Tell us what you think about our Host to Host the perfect picnic video and we will draw one lucky person to win our GET OUTSIDE party in a box – shipped in a picnic basket! Winner will be announced on Wednesday May 24th at 3pm.  

xx, Seri
Party conversation
  1. Carly Jones

    I love a picnic. Most ppl think a sandwich and a blanket is enough but I love the extra touches like flowers (and bubbly).

  2. Celinda

    I have been dying to use my picnic basket ! Thanks for the idea … my cousin just had a baby last month and this could be just the right outing for us ! Thanks for the tip on the pie

  3. Michelle

    Love the video and this post. So many cute fun ideas for a picnic. Love the thought of bringing fresh flowers along!

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May 12, 2017

Ready, Set, Weekend with Simply Beautiful Eating

Well, guess what?

I still don’t have a kitchen.

So what if it’s been almost 4 months? So what if I haven’t picked up my camera? So what if I forgot how to think, write or edit? So what if there are swatches of paint, slabs of stone, and visions of couches dancing through my head. SO WHAT!!

I apologize if I sound cranky today. That’s because I AM. Forgive me.

DEEEEEEEEEEEP BREATH.

Okay, so there is a space where the kitchen is going to be but I don’t have any cupboards, sink or a place where I can actually COOK and BAKE. What this means is this, I have to come up with ways to prepare meals that are effortless and don’t require a stove or oven.

You wanna know something? I think I can relate to the pioneers. They leaned towards making dishes using their survival skills and cooking over wood fire burning stoves. Tempted to do so in my living room because, frankly, it’s been too cold outside to cook on the barbecue.

It’s May for Godsakes. Come on.

Even though it’s been months of prepping food in my bathroom, I haven’t succumbed to grabbing a rifle and hunting squirrel (but I’ve been tempted to).

I’ve rarely read that pioneers included kale in their recipes, most likely because KALE is the new possum in present day culinary terms. Pioneers were basically good at foraging through the forest gathering herbs, roots and berries. The rest of  their food came from their fields, gardens and farmyards.

Last weekend, I looked outside my window and saw mushrooms growing out of the grass. They looked scrumptious, and the thought of stir frying those in a skillet on my hotplate swirled through my head. Before I attempted to forage, sauté and most likely die from mushroom poisoning, I decided to leave them for the dang “raccoon pioneers” who seem to be destroying my lawn lately. Besides, I need to be around to see the new kitchen if it ever happens.

Since the start of this renovation, I have considered Steve and I to be very imaginative with our meals. Not exactly pioneers, but close enough.

For instance, we had our new staircase installed last week. When I came home from work, the installer told he required us to stay upstairs for at least 2 hours so that the varnish had a chance to dry. That meant that the three of us were sequestered to the upper level (I’m including Tiffany the kitty in this head count, because in my opinion, she is human).

So?

What do you do when you have time on your hands, hungry for dinner and trapped upstairs?

Chop chop.

Not only did I end up with a beautiful salad here, I also added another recipe to my ever growing list of things I can make without major appliances.

One more thing before I go (which is useless information), but important to know about my past. When I was 16, I was hired part-time in a store downtown, situated in a very large shopping mall. If you are from Toronto, I’m talking about the Eaton Centre. The store sold dresses that were very reminiscent of the ones that pioneer women used to wear. When I went for the first interview, I was told that all sales staff were required to purchase and wear these dresses during work hours (in order to give the customers a visual on how pretty these garments were) or how idiotic we looked in them – clearly there was a market for these fugly frocks.

On day ONE I quit.

Reason why?

Do I look like the pioneer type to you?

RAINBOW CRUNCH SUPER SALAD WITH TANGERINE DRESSING

– 1 bunch kale, thick stems removed and leaves torn into bite-size pieces
– 4 cups shredded red cabbage
– 6 tangerines, peel, segment and dice 3 and juice the remaining 3 for the dressing
– 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
– 2 medium bell peppers, cored, seeded and diced (I used orange and yellow)
– 2 medium carrots, julienned
– 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained
– ⅓ cup sunflower seeds
– ⅓ cup pepitas
– ⅓ cup sliced skinless almonds
– ⅓ cup fresh blueberries
– 1 avocado, sliced
– ⅓ cup crumble feta cheese, optional for garnish

1) Place the kale, cabbage, tangerines, onion, bell peppers and carrots in a large salad bowl. Mix well with salad tongs. Top with the chickpeas, sunflower seeds, pepitas, almonds, blueberries and slice avocado. Sprinkle with feta, if desired.
2) Make your dressing (see recipe below).
3) Pour the dressing over the salad. Mix with tongs until well combined. Serve.
4) Good news is, you can keep this refrigerated, covered, for 2-3 days.

TANGERINE DRESSING

– ¼ cup freshly squeezed tangerine juice
– ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
– ¼ cup olive oil
– 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
– 2 tablespoons honey, maple syrup or agave
– ½ teaspoon kosher salt
– ½ teaspoon ground black pepper

1) Make the dressing. In a small bowl, combine the tangerine juice, vinegar, olive oil, Dijon mustard, honey salt, and pepper. Mix with a whisk until well combined or you can whip this up in a blender.

See you next week!

debi @simplybeautifuleating

xx, Debi
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