Vanilla Panna Cotta

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Sometimes you need to spend the entire day in the kitchen with your best friend.  A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of doing just that with my friend Amy.  We both have an appreciation (and appetite!) for food and had a blast listening to music and preparing a nice dinner.  For dessert, she requested panna cotta.  Neither one of us had ever made it before, but the minimal ingredients and light, delicious final product sounded perfect to me.  We used this recipe from Michael Symon:

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/michael-symon/vanilla-panna-cotta-recipe/index.html

The resulting dessert was light and fresh with a hint of sweetness.  The addition of Greek yogurt added a slight tang to the panna cotta that I really enjoyed.  This dessert is sure to be an amazing ending to any summer meal.

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Choose a Positive Thought

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I came across this phrase painted on a building in Milwaukee a week ago.  Although my initial reaction was, “Oh, how cute,” it quickly was replaced with, “Oh, how important!”

So often we get in a rut where it’s easy to feel negatively about ones job, friendships, relationships, finances, and other major life components.  I do it.  all. the. time.  Pretty soon, these negative thoughts become the norm.  Our minds become clouded with worries and concerns frequently over things that aren’t in our control.  How awesome would it be if we made the choice to think positively about the blessings in  our life?

The powerful word on that building is CHOICE.  We might not be able to change our circumstances, or even make big changes overnight.  We CAN choose to replace the negativity with positivity, hope, and gratitude towards what we do have.  Because it’s a lot.  Let’s start today.

Tomato and Mozzarella Salad

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Tomatoes. Ya know what I mean?  I still consider them a vegetable even though I’ve been taught otherwise.  I think it’s because I always pair them with savory flavors.  It doesn’t matter though, because I will take them any way I can get them.  My dad has an awesome garden that he tends to each summer which usually (depending on the year) produces an excellent crop of tomatoes for us to use in different ways.  My favorite way to eat tomatoes is in a tomato and fresh mozzarella salad.  Is this revolutionary?  Did your head just explode?  Probably not.  I still stand by this recipe because it is one of the most satisfying summer meals and so gosh darn EASY.

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Tomato and Fresh Mozzarella Salad

Serves 2-3

3 Heirloom tomatoes
Fresh mozzarella
1/2 cup basil
Olive oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

Slice tomatoes and arrange on a plate.  Tear mozzarella into bite sized pieces and put desired amount on each plate (try not to eat all of the mozzarella before it reaches the plate).  Gently tear basil into bite sized pieces and sprinkle over tomatoes and mozzarella. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.

San Antonio

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Last week, I had an awesome adventure in San Antonio, TX with my best friends.  It was a trip I will never forget.  I learned that my love of Mexican food runs deeper than I thought possible and that I am deathly afraid of scorpions.  It was a learning experience to say the least.  I can’t wait to go back.

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Blueberry Peach Crostata

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Apparently Mother Nature thought it would be cool to give us 4 days of gorgeous weather over the 4th of July to trick us into thinking we were having a kick ass summer.  It worked for like one minute.  Then today, I realized that actually we’ve been having the rainiest grayest summer ever.  Not cool.  Not cool at all.

I wouldn’t be so upset if it meant I didn’t have to change outfits multiple times a day.  Every morning I wake up and put on my sunniest, summeriest blouse only to realize that I actually need a t-shirt and jacket and possibly rain boots and definitely a canoe before I can walk out the door.  Pretty soon, I will be heading to the Nordstrom Anniversary sale (aka:Mecca) to look at fall boots and apparel and wondering if summer actually happened.  Just call me Bitter Betty.

Life isn’t all that bad, really.  Last night I ate Cuban food in the park and strolled along the sidewalk with Italian Ice con mi amiga mejor.  That means my best friend.  Moments like that make my bitter mood a little sweeter.  Want to know something else that is awesome?  I baked something the other day that not only tasted good… it LOOKED good. This is a double win and I will be bragging about it probably forever.  If you want to know the truth, it was actually a very easy recipe to put together and it is the most delicious summer treat.

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This Blueberry Peach Crostata is what I affectionately refer to as a “non-pie”.  It’s essentially a pie without the added pressure of making it look beautiful in a pie dish.  The result is a flaky crust and a sweet, fresh fruit filling that looks rustic and beautiful.  It also tastes better when you bring it on a picnic over looking Lake Michigan.  That setting is of course optional, but it does add a nice touch 🙂

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Blueberry Peach Crostata

recipe adapted from Partner in Dine

Ingredients

For the pastry:

1 cup flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cubed
6 tbsp ice water

For the filling:

1 pound firm ripe peaches, peeled
1/2 pint fresh blueberries
1 tablespoon plus 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, divided
1 tablespoon plus 1/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
1/4 teaspoon grated orange zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced

Directions for pastry:

Place the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter and toss quickly with your fingers to coat each cube of butter with the flour. Pulse until the butter is the size of peas. With the motor running, add the ice water all at once through the feed tube. Keep hitting the pulse button to combine, but stop the machine just before the dough comes together. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured board, roll it into a ball, cut in half, and form into 2 flat disks. Wrap the disks in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Roll the pastry into an 11-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Transfer it to the baking sheet.

For the filling:

Cut the peaches in wedges and place them in a bowl with the blueberries. Toss them with 1 tablespoon of the flour, 1 tablespoon of the sugar, the orange zest, and the orange juice. Place the mixed fruit on the dough circle, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border.

For the topping:

Combine the 1/4 cup flour, the 1/4 cup sugar, and the salt in a small bowl.  Add the butter and break apart with your fingers until the mixture is crumbly.  Sprinkle evenly over the fruit. Gently fold the border of the pastry over the fruit, pleating it to make an edge.

Bake the crostata for 20 to 25 minutes, until the crust is golden and the fruit is tender. Let the crostata cool for 5 minutes, then use 2 large spatulas to transfer it to a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Weekend in Pics

The Fourth of July is a tricky holiday for me.  I used to hate the fact that it signified the beginning of summer winding down.  Now, I love that it is an excuse to take an extra day or two off of work to enjoy all that summer has to offer.  This weekend was complete bliss.  I was able to see friends, eat food, spend time with my love, build things, cook things, sing things, and watch the most New Girl.  If I could do those same things everyday, I would be morbidly obese….but really happy.  I think.

Without further ado…my weekend brought to you by instagram.

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