Tropical Pavlova

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You know how these days are called the “lazy days of summer”? You know that term? Welp. That’s me. Lazy in the bloggy sense. I’ve been cooking and baking and taking pictures and eating, but that’s it. But, I’m here now. When it counts. With a delicious recipe for you. It’s super fresh and summery and I didn’t even wait until the season has passed to share it with you. That should count for something. Brownie points, maybe? Yes, perhaps I deserve a brownie. Get on that.

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I made (for you, for me, for everyone) a Tropical Pavlova. A Pavlova is a dessert that simply consists of meringue, whipped cream, and fruit. How could all that goodness be bad? It was created (possibly by the Australians, possibly by the New Zealanders) for the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. I mean. This woman, who was already super, ridiculously talented in the world of ballet, had a freaking dessert named after her. #goals

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Anywho, this dessert just works. The meringue shells are crunchy and light in flavor, chewy on the inside (in a perfectly stick to your teeth kind of way), the whipped cream is fluffy, and the fruit is so refreshing. It works in the same kind of textural way that Banoffee Pie works. This is also a gluten free dessert. Bonus.

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This is a picture-perfect dessert for this ridonk hot summer. I will say that it is not delicious as a leftover (source: I’m eating it now). The delicate meringue shell has broken down into a sloppy mess. The whipped cream and fruit, however, has remained amazeballs (is that said anymore, I need to know).

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Make it. Chances are, you’ve got almost all the ingredients in your kitchen now, and if needed, you can switch out the fruit.

Tropical Pavlova

Recipe adapted from: America’s Test Kitchen

4 large egg whites, room temperature

3/4 t vanilla extract

1/4 t cream of tartar

1 scant C sugar

2 mangoes (peeled, pitted, cubed)

2 kiwi (peeled, sliced, quartered)

1 papaya (peeled, seeded, cubed)

Simply Squeeze Coco Real Cream of Coconut (or make your own)

3/4 C shredded coconut

2 C heavy whipping cream

2 T sugar

1 t vanilla extract

Adjust your oven rack to the middle and preheat your oven to 200F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Determine what size you want your shells to be and trace two circles in that shape. I did one a little bit bigger than the other. Using a stand mixer and whisk attachment (handheld is also fine), whip egg whites, vanilla, and cream of tartar for one minute on medium speed. Switch to medium high speed and whip for another minute. Gradually add the sugar and whip until the peaks are stiff and glossy (one or two more minutes). Separate the meringue between the two circles on the baking sheet. Spread evenly. Bake for about one and a half hours, and then turn off the oven and let the meringues sit for about two hours.

Meanwhile, chop up the fruit and set aside.

When meringues are out of the oven, prepare the whipping cream. Pour cream, sugar, and vanilla into a stand mixer (with whisk attachment), and mix for about one minute on medium speed. Increase to high and whip for about three minutes. You can store the whipped cream for up to a week in the refrigerator. Re-whip, if necessary.

To assemble, place one meringue shell (the larger, if that’s the route you took) on a serving plate. Spread almost half of the whipped cream on top, followed by almost half of the chopped fruit. Drizzle the coconut cream and sprinkle some of the shredded coconut. Put the second meringue shell on top of that, and repeat. This was easy to cut into slices.

Enjoy! I will be dreaming of this all summer!

Kristin

A Work Week’s Worth of Overnight Oats

It’s summertime and the living’s…definitely busier than our school year! The mornings, especially, have been busy. To ease into my early mornings (sidenote: whyyyyy are my kids waking up so early during summer break???), I’ve been making overnight oats the night before, so that I might have an already-ready breakfast, that is both really delicious and really filling. It’s been very helpful in getting my day moving.

Simply put, overnight oats is (are?) oatmeal, made the night before (or at the very least, an hour before consuming). It is a great time-saving breakfast. Oatmeal is very filling (and high in fiber), and helps me to snack less between breakfast and lunch.

The formula to making overnight oats is very simple – equal part oats and liquids. For my liquid component, I use both unsweetened coconut milk and Greek yogurt. I also like to add chia seeds (high in fiber, protein, antioxidants, and Omega-3 fatty acids) and [golden] ground flaxseed (high in Omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and fiber). The more ground flaxseed I add, I find that I need to add a little more liquid. You can choose whatever toppings you enjoy – fruit, jam, chocolate, coconut, nuts, etc. You can eat it hot or cold. I rather enjoy it cold.

Below are some of the delicious flavors I made this week.

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Berry Crumble Overnight Oats

1/2 C oats

1/4 C coconut milk

1/4 C plain Greek yogurt

Almond extract

Strawberries

Raspberries

Mix liquids and oats together. Layer with toppings in a container. Store in refrigerator overnight (or for an hour, at the least).

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Peaches and Cream Overnight Oats

1/2 C oats

1/4 C vanilla Greek yogurt

1/4 C coconut milk

Vanilla extract

Chia seeds

Ground flaxseed

Peaches

Sliced almonds

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Mango Coconut Overnight Oats

1/2 C oats

1/4 C vanilla Greek yogurt

1/4 C coconut milk

Vanilla bean paste

1 T coconut oil

Chia seeds

Ground flaxseed

Mango

Sliced almonds

Coconut flakes

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Blueberry Peach Overnight Oats

1/2 C oats

1/4 C vanilla Greek yogurt

1/4 C coconut milk

Vanilla extract

Chia seeds

Ground flaxseed

Peaches

Peach Jam

Blueberries

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Strawberry Nutella Overnight Oats

1/2 C oats

1/4 C vanilla Greek yogurt

1/4 C coconut milk

1 T coconut Oil

Vanilla extract

Chia seeds

Ground flaxseed

Strawberries

Nutella

Enjoy!!

Kristin

Brunch Break!

I packed a brunch lunch for my Bigs’ school lunch. I think everyone likes brunch. I could be mistaken, but I think not. What’s not to love? Breakfast and lunch favorites, all on the same plate, and you don’t have to get up early to eat it. #winning

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I made peanut butter and honey pancake sandwiches. I only used a teeny bit of honey, so his little hands don’t get too sticky. I also packed some granola (Trader Joe’s mix – I picked out the nuts because he doesn’t care for those – dried cranberries, granola balls, Greek yogurt chips), freeze dried mango, a mandarin orange, red grapes, and applesauce with flower sprinkles.

Boo-ya, brunch is served.

Kristin

Sticky Black Rice Pudding

I have a TON of cookbooks. I’d like to think that I collect them. I’m sure a lot of my foodie friends out there can relate. I could just sit for hours, thumbing through my cookbooks, gazing upon those glossy pages, my eyes skimming the ingredients, my mouth watering over the perfectly styled pictures. I know that the internet provides a quicker, easier way to look up recipes…but to me? There’s nothing like holding a cookbook in my hand, flour dusting the pages, the smell of a real book (I’m also a real-book-reader, as opposed to giving into a digital reader…is that even what it’s called?).

A week or so ago, I was reading my Vegetarian Cooking: A Commonsense Guide and found a recipe for which I had all the ingredients.

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Sticky Black Rice Pudding

2 C black rice

3 pandan leaves (I left this out)

2 C coconut milk

2/3 C soft brown sugar

1/4 C caster sugar

coconut cream, to serve

diced mango or papaya, to serve (I used mango)

Put the rice in a large non-metallic bowl and cover with water. Let it soak overnight (or a minimum of 8 hours). Drain the rice and place in a saucepan with 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Cook on a low boil, stirring, for 20 minutes. Drain.

*I skipped this step* Pull your fingers through the pandan leaves to shred them. Tie them in a  knot.

Pour the coconut milk into a large saucepan and heat until almost boiling. Add the pandan leaves and the sugars and stir until the sugar has dissolved.

Add the rice and cook, stirring, for 8 minutes (no boiling). Turn off the heat and let it sit for 15 minutes. Remove the pandan. Spoon into bowls, and serve warm with coconut cream and mango.

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Mine came out exactly like the picture in the cookbook and tasted DIVINE. I halved the recipe and it still made a ton. My Smalls loved it. ❤

Enjoy!

Kristin

PS – More bloggy blog posts to come!

 

Anniverary Leftovers

We had a great anniversary…because we spent it together. Did we do fun stuff during the day? Ehhh, no. Our little one, Smalls, had an unusually high fever the day before and we’d been treating it. But yesterday, our anniversary, we took him to the doctor’s. It was just too high of a fever. So after two hours of waiting at our Pediatrician’s office, we left with a double ear infection diagnosis. Such a bummer. Pray for him? And to not spread sickness?

BUT…we DID go out to an early dinner without the kids. We went to a favorite of ours – Cheesecake Factory! We love that place! And guess what? They have an entire gluten free menu for my husband!

We started off with Shrimp Spring Rolls. We always used to get those when we were dating, so it was nice to have sort of a ‘throw back’. They were delicious.

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I love the dipping sauces. Once the spring rolls were gone, I used their fabulous bread, simply as a means to scrape more sauce out of the bowls, since licking them in public is frowned upon for some reason.

We shared an “adult” beverage, as well – the Pineapple Mojito! YUM!

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It was gorgeous! I’d not had that drink there before. I love how the aesthetics of it were just as beautiful as the flavor.

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And mint is one of my two favorite herbs (tied with cilantro). YUM.

I enjoyed it…

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…A LOT. 😀

I ordered the Luau Salad. I love ALL their salads, but I was feeling…tropical this time. No matter what salad I get there, I ALWAYS order a side of their house-made ranch dressing. I am sort of a ranch snob. I can pick out a store-bought bottled dressing anywhere. So. I URGE you to get their ranch. To dip your bread in, as well.

I am a pig.

Oink.

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With and without ranch. SO much better. Their ranch is a good accompaniment to any of their other dressings, as well.

Enough about their ranch, or they’re going to have to start paying me.

Just kidding.

Sort of.

Husband ordered a hamburger off of their GF menu. It was one of the best burgers he’d (and me!) ever had. It was juicy and with the addition of bacon, the cheese wasn’t really missed.

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It was nice for him to have a meal that didn’t make him wish he wasn’t dairy or gluten free.

Until dessert time…

…when I ordered the Mango Key Lime Cheesecake.

YUM YUM YUM. I am eating the leftovers as I type this now.

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It was the perfect end to a celebration of five wonderful years.

Oh! And to catch up on food from the week, since that’s what I do…

I made yummy Oat Energy Balls!

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SUCH an easy recipe. A friend of mine posted the recipe on FB and it reminded me to make them. They are so easy, delicious, and HEALTHY!

The basic recipe is:

1 C dry oatmeal

1/2 C chocolate chips (I did a little bit less)

1/2 C peanut butter (I did homemade)

1/2 C ground flax seed (Costco sells a huge bag!)

1/3 C honey

1 t vanilla

I also added about 1/3 C shredded coconut. You mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and place in the fridge for about 10 or so minutes. Then you roll them into balls and keep in the fridge for about a week.

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My husband can’t keep his hands off of them. And I’ve been putting them in Bigs’ lunchbox for snacks.

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Try them! You can almost put anything in them, as long as the protein and sticky components are there.

I also made arepas. Have you had those?

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Nothing beats an arepa straight off the flat top grill from an outside cart in Miami, but hey, we aren’t there, so I make my own. Unfortunately for my DF husband, no cheese (no GOOD cheese) is allowed on these, but they were still so good! They remind me of my in-Heaven Southern Grandma’s hoe cakes. These are the Latin version.

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I used Harina PAN cornmeal. Super easy – recipe on back. Nothing fancy.

Hmm, I think that’s it for now.

Have a wonderful Friday (FINALLY here!!),

Kristin

 

Do you know the Muffin Man?

Do you know the muffin man

I happen to know him. He doesn’t live on Drury Lane, like the song says. He lives with me.

I know the muffin man

He’s a little boy, actually. It’s my son. He’s the muffin boy. Well, on Friday, anyways. This past week in school, Bigs’ class read If You Give a Moose a Muffin. I love that series. I still have the mouse one from when I was a little girl.

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The kids made moosey muffin boxes. How cute is that?! So on Friday, we made those yummy little Jiffy muffins. I let Bigs do all the work.

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He poured the mix into the bowl, poured the milk (that I measured) into the bowl and whisked those together with the egg that I cracked. He used my scoop to put the mix into a mini muffin tin. He did great!

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Here’s his “thumbs” up (it’s his pointer finger). Cuteness.

So what if I overcooked the muffins. He’ll never really know.

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We ate them for snack and read If You Give a Mouse a Cookie since we don’t have the moose book at home. It was a fun activity and Bigs was proud he made the muffins on his own. And I was proud too!

It was a yummy food day, that day, since I also made those healthy Snickerdoodle Pancakes again! I gave them to Smalls one at a time to hold and eat at his leisure.

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And for lunch (for Hubs and I), I finally made that tropical(ish) cous cous salad I’d been wanting to try.

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It was SO good! I couldn’t stop eating it and that was okay, since it was so healthy!

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Would it have been better with fresh cilantro (versus dried)? Yes. Would it have been better with a super ripe and fleshy, golden mango? Yes. But we work with what we have, people! Well, I do. Because I never have all the ingredients on hand. Ooops.

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It was REALLY tasty. Chock full of good grains, beans and mango.

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I loosely based it on the recipe from here:

http://greenlitebites.com/2010/09/03/mango-black-bean-couscous-salad/

Like I said, I didn’t have fresh cilantro, my mango had almost seen better days and I didn’t even have chives or a hot pepper. I cubed my mango and tossed it in a teeny bit of brown sugar, just to macerate it a little bit. I think it helped it taste more ripe. I made enough cous cous for 3 servings (according to the box). While that was absorbing the water, I drained and rinsed the black beans and made the sauce. I used about 5 tablespoons of olive oil and some really good squirts of lemon juice (would love to have used a real fresh lemon, but you already know what I’m going to say…). I added salt and pepper, a little bit of garlic powder and I had a Weber’s Mango & Lime grill seasoning for fish that I put in there. It really lightened up the flavors. I then added quite a bit of dried cilantro. I whisked away and once the cous cous was ready, I mixed it all up together. I added cayenne pepper to mine. It was great!

And my husband only eats hot things (mostly) and this salad can be served warm, although it is abundantly better cold, in my very humble opinion.

I hope you try it!

By the way, thank you to those of you who have prayed for my baby son. We had to take him to the doctor’s office two more times since I’ve written and also today, we took him to the hospital for chest x-rays. They were looking for pneumonia, which they did not find. God is good! I just need my little spicy baby to get better and back to his spunky little self.

Keep praying?

Thank you!

In Christ,

Kristin