Weekend Links

Happy weekend friends! What are you up to this weekend? Today we are said goodbye to the Cinque Terre and headed to Florence, and we stopped in Pisa for the day on the way. I’m tried to convince the Kiwi that it would totally be okay to take the tourist picture of us trying to hold up the tower but he didn’t buy it.

If you’re not already following us on instagram, now is the time! I’m posting all sorts of vacation photos {when we have wifi} so you can keep up with our adventures.

Have a great weekend!

Kiwi+Peach: Weekend LinksUp close and personal with some really cute animals.

A thought provoking article about marketing foods to children.

Why book an apartment as opposed to a hotel? {We will are in apartments for the rest of the trip and I could not be more excited!}

Hilarious chart for decoding what the Kiwi really means when he says ‘interesting.’

Cooking on vacation.

A look at the not so pretty side of the vitamin industry.

Beautiful photo series about what grandmothers all over the world are cooking up.

Some great ideas for meals made straight from the farmers market.

Lauren’s Summer Favourite

The Kiwi has lovingly volunteered to help me out and share a few recipes of his own while we are away on holiday. Today’s recipe was the first thing he ever made for me {before he even knew about my love of coconut}, so I find it quite fitting that it’s the first thing he is sharing with y’all as well! So, without further ado, I’ll turn it over to the Kiwi.

I have no idea what the original source for this recipe was—I appropriated it from a couple of friends I was staying with after watching them make it and then made it my own—so there isn’t really a name for it. This was the first thing I ever cooked for Lauren {having not yet located a supply of lamb mince in Munich to make my usual favourite}. Ever since then it’s just been known to us as “Lauren’s favourite”.

Suffice to say, this dish comprises a range of diced vegetables in a coconut sauce, served over pasta. As well as being extremely tasty, it features an agreeable spectrum of colours and feels perfect for a summer’s evening. If you’re feeling carnivorous, or you just have some leftover {cooked} chicken to use up, then you can stir it in at the end, but it’s really not necessary.

Kiwi+Peach: Lauren's Summer Favourite {written by the Kiwi}

Lauren’s Summer Favourite

The Pasta
200g {6 oz} whole wheat spaghetti
1tsp salt

The Sauce
½ a large zucchini
1 small red bell pepper
1 small yellow bell pepper
½ a large eggplant
2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp whole wheat flour
½ can {200mL or 6 oz} coconut milk
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
⅛ tsp ground black pepper

Chop all of the vegetables into roughly 1.5cm {½ inch} cubes. Eggplant can sometimes have a bitter taste in the liquid around the seeds, so chop that first, place it in a bowl and sprinkle liberally with salt to draw out the moisture. Set aside while you prepare the other ingredients, or even do this step half an hour ahead if you have time.

Preheat a large frying pan on medium-high. You’ll be sautéing the vegetables so that they cook quickly without turning to mush.

Separately, bring a pot of salted water to the boil in preparation for the pasta. Where I come from not even the poorest English Lit grad student could imagine life without an electric kettle and this job takes two minutes. However, in America folks prefer to eschew such cheap and easily-available conveniences in favour of heating the water laboriously on the stove.

The zucchini takes the longest to cook, so add it to the frying pan first along with the oil and start sautéing. After a couple of minutes add the peppers and finally, after a few minutes more, wash the salt off the eggplant cubes and add them to the pan as well. You’ll want to begin cooking the spaghetti as directed at about this point. Continue sautéing until the vegetables are soft, but not yet starting to break down. This process takes about 5-10 minutes in total.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the flour to soak up any remaining oil. Stir for about a minute, then add the coconut cream. Grind in the pepper and grate in the parmesan cheese. I recommend moving to Europe, where you can bind blocks of genuine Parmigiano Reggiano in every supermarket fridge. That doesn’t make a big difference to the recipe; it’s just something I like to recommend.

Continue cooking and stirring for a few minutes until the sauce is thickened. Serve over the spaghetti with a little grated parmesan and black pepper for garnish.

Strawberry Margarita Cupcakes

Today we are headed to Cinque Terre.  I could not be any more excited.  Cinque Terre has been on my must-see list since study abroad in college, and I just had to include it on our Tour of Italy itinerary.  I can’t wait to hike the famous trail, eat pesto on giant slices of warm fococcia bread, and hang out on the rocky beaches.

Apparently the fancy cupcake trend is ending. This kind of breaks my heart. I love cupcakes. They are probably my favorite form of dessert ever. It satisfies my sweet tooth, there are a million and a half different combinations of flavors {Elvis cupcake anyone?} so I never get bored, and portion control is built right in. What more can you ask for?

I’ll grant you, this is not a healthy cupcake, but every now and then you deserve a treat. So before cupcakes become so 2012, why not whip this up for that summer cookout you’re having next week? Folks will rave. I promise!

Kiwi+Peach: Strawberry Margarita Cupcake

Strawberry Margarita Cupcake

{yield 9 delicious cupcakes}

The Cupcake
1/3 cup unsalted butter {room temperature}
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
zest from 2/3 of a lime
juice from 2/3 of a lime
¼ tsp of vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp of salt
1/3 cup buttermilk

The Strawberry Margarita Filling
1/2 cup of strawberries
zest from 1/3 of a lime
juice from 1/3 of a lime
2 Tbsp tequila
¼ cup of powdered sugar
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp coconut oil

The Frosting
½ cup unsalted butter {room temperature}
1 ¼ cup powdered sugar
¼ cup strawberry margarita filling

Preheat the oven to 325˚ F.

Cream the butter and sugar together until the mixture is fluffy. Add the egg and mix well. Then mix in the lime zest and juice and vanilla.

While holding over the bowl, add the flour, baking soda and salt to a wire strainer {or sifter}. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and the buttermilk. Begin with the dry ingredients, then the buttermilk, then the dry ingredients, then the buttermilk, and then the rest of the dry ingredients. Don’t over mix it– mix until they are just incorporated.

To prepare your cupcake pan, line with the wrappers and either give them a spray with cooking spray or use a pastry brush to brush on a bit of melted butter or canola oil. {I did the latter because we don’t have cooking spray in Germany.} Once your pan in ready spoon the batter into the cups. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the top is springy and the edges are slightly browned. When they are finished, transfer them to a wire rack and let them cool completely.

While the cupcakes are a cooking, get to work on the filling and the frosting.

For the filling, add the strawberries, lime zest and juice, and tequila to the bowl of a food processor and puree the mixture until there are no chunks of strawberry left. Pour into a small bowl. Whisk in the powdered sugar and cornstarch until they have dissolved and then add the coconut oil. Give it a hit in microwave for 30 seconds and then whisk until the coconut oil is incorporated. Pop it in the fridge until you are ready to use it so that it can thicken up a bit.

For the frosting, cream the butter, powdered sugar and filling together in a large bowl until it is a frosting like consistency.

Once the cupcakes have cooled, use a strawberry corer {or a knife} to scoop out the middle of your cupcakes. Spoon about a teaspoon of the filling in the middle of the cupcake. Spread {or pipe if you want to be fancy} the frosting over the whole top of the cupcake making sure to cover the filling completely.

Then you could eat it as is… or you can decorate it! Top with a lime wedge or a bit of strawberry. Roll the rim of the cupcake in green sugar. Sprinkle with lime zest. Add a sombrero. Go crazy!

Sesame Chicken

In college, my roommates and I wouldn’t think twice about ordering ‘Chinese’ take out. It was so easy! Our favorite place was just down the road, but of course we had them deliver it anyway. So we’d give them a call and 15 minutes later {give or take 5 minutes depending on if the dogs got out when the delivery guy showed up}, we’d be sitting down with our delicious, delicious General Tso’s, Mongolian beef, or sesame chicken… and a boat load of white rice… and maybe a egg roll or two. As good as it was though, we knew it wasn’t good for us.

About a month after I got to Germany, I started really craving some sesame chicken. The thought of trying to decipher German with a Chinese accent on the phone to order take out was just too much, but out of that moment of punking out came a wonderful discovery.

There are so many reasons to make your take out ‘Chinese’ yourself. Its not hard. {Okay. Its harder than it being delivered to your door, but technically speaking, its really not difficult to make.} It takes 30 minutes tops, it’s cheaper, and, most importantly, it’s so much healthier!

Kiwi+Peach: Sesame Chicken

Sesame Chicken

{adapted for two from Slender Kitchen}

The Sauce
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
3/4 cup chicken stock

The Rice
1 tsp olive oil
1 egg
1 heaping cup of brown rice
2 cups water
1 tsp salt

The Goods
2 chicken breasts
pinch of salt
a few grinds of fresh ground black pepper
2 tsp whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp coconut oil
whatever veggies you have on hand {I’ve used finely diced zucchini and onions and broccoli all with good results.}
1/4 cup sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C.  Start heating an oven-safe pan on medium heat and a medium size pot on high heat.  Boil your jug too.

While all of that is heating up, grab a bowl and whisk together all of the ingredients for the sauce.

Then we’ll get the rice started.  Measure the water from the jug and add it to your pot.  Once its boiling, throw your salt and rice in and give it a stir.  Lower the heat to medium and set your timer.  Cook according to the package instructions {usually 25-30 minutes for brown rice}.

In the pan, heat the olive oil and crack your egg.  Scramble for a couple minutes until its cooked through.  Put the cooked egg in a separate bowl and set aside.  Return pan to the heat.

Cut your chicken into bite sized bits and add it to a bowl.  Add the salt, pepper, and flour and let sit for a minute while you chop your veggies.  Add the coconut oil to the hot pan and add your chicken and veggies.  Cook for about 3 minutes on each side or until the chicken has turned light brown.  Pour the sauce in the pan and transfer the pan to the oven.  Bake for 20 minutes.

When it’s finished baking, take it out and sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Serve the chicken over the rice and be proud you didn’t order take out!

Spanish Chicken

We leave for our two week Tour of Italy tomorrow!

Weirdly, this week has flown by {usually the week before vacation drags, yea?}, but it’s probably just because I’ve had so many last minute things to get done. My to do list is two pages single-spaced! I can’t wait to get on the road and just relax!

Even though we will be away, we don’t want you to worry. We would never just abandon you for two whole weeks! The Kiwi and I have made sure that you will still have some great content in our absence. We’ll have new songs for your kitchen playlist, some great links from around the web, and loads of great recipes like this one which according to the Kiwi is the “best thing in the history of the world, ever.”

Kiwi+Peach: Spanish Chicken

Spanish Chicken

{adapted for two from Life is Great}

The Chicken
2 bone in chicken thighs and legs
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp fresh oregano, chopped
1 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
salt and pepper
zest from 1 orange

The Sides
1 sweet potato
1 red onion
1/2 of a large chorizo sausage {about 4 ounces/125 grams}

Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C.

Line a baking pan with parchment paper. Then wash the chicken and pat dry. Make sure it is really dry because we want the skin to crisp up! Put the chicken in the pan and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with the herbs, salt and pepper, and the orange zest then rub everything into the chicken really well. Pop it in the oven for a total of 60 minutes.

After you’ve put the chicken in to cook, peel and chop your sweet potato into 1 inch sized bits. At the 45 minute mark, take the chicken out and add the sweet potatoes to the pan then return to the oven.

Next, peel and chop your chorizo into 1 inch sized chunks. Go ahead and slice your onion into thick slices as well. At the 30 minute mark, take the chicken and potatoes out of the oven and add the chorizo and the onions then return it to the oven.

At the 15 minute mark, remove the pan again and using a basting brush, spread some of that yummy chorizo juice on the chicken and then return to the oven for the last 15.

When it’s finished plate it up and enjoy!

Roasted Green Beans

Back in college, my friends and I would do what every other college kid does for spring break and go to the beach. There were a good number of us, so we rented this amazing ocean front apartment that had a pretty sick kitchen. After a couple nights of ridiculously long waits at pretty average restaurants, we decided to make use of said kitchen. Each of us made part of the meal, and while everything was delicious, the thing that stuck with me most were Jill’s green beans. “Really? Green beans?” you say. Really. While stupidly simple to make, they are simply out of this world. I bet they would be great on a grill too!

What about you? Do you like cooking on vacation? Part of traveling to me is checking out what the locals are eating. While I love going to random grocery stores and markets, when it comes to meals, we always search out a good restaurant filled with locals. However, this week The Kichtn is talking all about cooking while traveling, and I’m feeling a little inspired. Or maybe we will check this out.

Kiwi+Peach: Roasted Green Beans

Roasted Green Beans

Two handfuls of fresh green beans
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp garlic salt

Preheat the oven on broil.

Snap the ends off the beans and remove the strings on the sides. Wash them and pat dry.

Spread the beans out on a lined baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil and garlic salt. Give it a stir to make sure that all the beans are covered with the oil and pop it in the oven for about 10-15 minutes*. About halfway through give them a stir. You’ll know they’re done when they start to crisp up.

*Time varies based on your oven. In the States, the top element in the oven seems to be very strong so it might be more like 10 minutes. Here it’s more like 20 minutes.