Friday Links

Happy Friday folks! What mischief are you getting into this weekend?

The Kiwi and I will be dividing up our baby tomato plants. We had no idea so many would actually live! We were a little late in getting them planted {since the weather had been so crap}, but I think we are getting the hang of this urban gardening stuff.

We will also be doing some last minute preparation for our 2 week Tour of Italy. {We leave in a week!} I am on the hunt for a hat {and maybe a few other treats} this weekend.  I’m not a hat wearer per se, but I think that I might need one to keep that hot Italian sun off my face.

Have a great weekend friends!

A great reflection about being present.

So many hat options. {No. 6 is my favorite!}

Travel snacks.

A hilarious BuzzFeed about Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin.

Hipster hotels.

Peace of mind about that Chunky Monkey you’re eating.

5 ways to use almond meal

packing tip I’m thinking I’ll try for our Tour of Italy.

A lovely photography campaign.

Why bees are important.

A great travel prep tip.

And in case you’ve missed it… the Finnish baby box.

The Green

I’m going to fill y’all in on an embarrassing little secret. Up until about 2009, I ate everything in layers. By everything, I mean everything. Sandwiches obviously, but burritos and pizza too. My family has no idea where this little neurosis came from, but from the time I could feed myself that is how I ate. I’m sure it has something to do with them trying to trick me into eating carrots, but ever since I can remember I ate things ingredient by ingredient so that I knew exactly what I was putting in my mouth. {Hi. My name is Lauren, and I am a bit of a control freak.} Thankfully, I got that under control, and I can now can enjoy and appreciate all of these exciting ‘new’ flavor combinations with minimal angst.

That said… I am a big fan of open faced sandwiches. Why? Well first of all, you can fit twice as much yummy sandwich goodies on there so they are more filling. Secondly, much to no one’s dismay, I like it because I can see what all is happening on the bread, so I enjoy it angst free without fear of carrots. Needless to say, I make these a good bit. They are perfect for weekend lunches, but if you want to make it a meal, throw some roasted veggies on the side or whip up a salad.

I’m curious. Did you have any weird eating habits as a kid? The Kiwi swears he didn’t, but I question his recall.

Kiwi+Peach: The Green

The Green

4 slices of bread
1/4 cup pesto
4 large basil leaves {or spinach}
1/2 of an avocado
1/4 cup parmesan cheese

Spread the pesto on each slice of bread and top with the basil leaves and avocado slices.  Grate the parmesan cheese and sprinkle a healthy bit on each slice.  Pop it in the oven on broil for about 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the leaves have wilted a bit.

Summertime Staple Granola

Now that summer has finally made its appearance here in Deutschland its time to switch up my breakfast routine. In the winter, I opt for hearty oats with a little bit of honey that make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside and prepare me to venture out in the frigid wasteland that is Munich.

But summer is here! {Rejoice people!} Bring on beer garden season, runs in the park, and the granola. My absolute favorite summertime breakfast is granola and yogurt sprinkled with fresh summer berries. Life doesn’t get much better than that. Except, maybe, if its homemade granola you’re sprinkling on your yogurt.

The Kiwi and I are a bit picky when it comes to our granola. We want it toasted, but we don’t like the hard clumps that feel like they are going to break your teeth. We weren’t really finding a granola here that was to our liking, so I thought I’d whip up some of my own. There is a ton of refined sugar in the supposedly healthy granola we buy at the shops {in Germany and in the States}. By making our own, I was able to eliminate the highly processed refined sugars and berries that don’t even resemble berries anymore and replace them with just the goodies we like best. The Kiwi says that there is no going back now.

The best thing about making it yourself is that it really is completely customizable to your taste {or to whatever you have in the pantry}. Not a fan of apricots? Try dried apples. Love crasins? Add extra. Go wild y’all, and share your granola combinations in the comments down below. I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Kiwi+Peach: Homemade Granola

Kiwi+Peach Homemade Granola

The Wet Stuff
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup honey
1 tbsp vanilla

The Dry Stuff
5 cups spelt oats
1/2 cup dried berries {mix of cranberries, cherries, and blueberries}
10 dried apricots, quartered
1 cup seeds {pumpkin, flax, sesame, sunflower}
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp nutmeg
2 tsp allspice
2 tsp ginger

Preheat oven to 300°F/150°C.

Over medium heat, mix your liquids together in a small pot and bring to a boil.

In a large bowl, mix together all of your dry ingredients. Add the boiling liquids and mix well.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and spread the granola out. Bake for 20 minutes. Get the pan out, give it a stir, and then put it back on for 20 more minutes. Remove, stir and then return to the oven for 5 more minutes. Remove it from the oven and let it cool.

Orange Chorizo Man Salad

A rule of thumb in nutrition is the more colorful your plate the larger variety of nutrients you’re getting from your food. Following that logic, this salad is the king of nutritional variety. With lots of dark leafy greens, bright red peppers, black olives, and juicy chunks of orange, its as full of nutrients as it is taste, and the chorizo adds that savoriness {and protein} that many salads lack. I lovingly call this the man salad because its salad that even your carnivore can get on board with. In fact, this was actually in the Kiwi’s rotation long before he met me. What good taste he has.

Orange Chorizo Man Salad

{adapted for two from the Company’s Coming 30 Minute Meals cookbook}

The Protein
1/2 of a large chorizo sausage {about 4 ounces/125 grams}
5 or 6 walnuts {or pecans}

The Goodies
8-10 leaves of romain lettuce
1 orange
1/2 of a small red onion
1/2 of a roasted red pepper
2 Tbsp olives

The Dressing
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 clove of garlic
1 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
dash of salt

Preheat your oven to 350°F/175°C. Shell your walnuts and pop them in the oven to toast for about 5 minutes.

While they are toasting start heating a pan on medium heat. Peel the casing off of your chorizo and slice it into 1/2 inch chunks. Toss it in the pan and cook for about 15 minutes or until the outside has crisped up. When it is finished cooking, transfer the chorizo to a paper towel and blot the grease off.

While the chorizo is cooking you can prepare the rest of the goodies for the salad and make your dressing.

Tear up your lettuce and put it in a large salad bowl. {For crispier lettuce, wash your lettuce the night before. Pat the leaves dry on paper towels and then layer them between the now damp paper towels. Put it back in the fridge over night in the crisper drawer.} Peel the orange and cut each wedge into thirds. Thinly slice the red onion and roasted red peppers. Rinse your olives. Then toss them all into the salad bowl with the lettuce. When the chorizo and walnuts are finished toss them in as well.

For the dressing, break out the food processor.  Toss in all of the ingredients and process until the garlic is in tiny pieces and its well mixed. {If you don’t have a food processor, mince your garlic and then you can just throw all the ingredients in a jar.  Pop the lid on and give it a shake.}

Pour the dressing in the salad bowl and toss the salad well. Serve it up and enjoy your colorful man salad.

Spicy Baked BBQ Hot Wings

The Kiwi and I are big fans of the spicy stuff. We like that added kick of flavor, and the fact that it gives us an excuse to pair whatever we are eating with cheese {you know, for the casein}. We aren’t that crazy though. This one time, in the States, we went to this wing joint where you had to sign a release form to order their hottest level of spicyness. Insane! There is a point where things stop being flavorful and become straight up painful. {I’m looking at you Mr. Habenero.} This sauce is the perfect mixture of flavorful spicyness  and savory sweet–the way that BBQ sauce should be. {Sorry Carolina style fans.}

Seeing everyone on Facebook getting their football tickets for next season {sob} reminded me of the first time I made these. We were ‘tailgating’ in our living room for the first UGA game of the season. We started in on the wings and naturally, once we had the sauce all over our hands and faces, the video feed freezes and continues to do so every couple of minutes through out the game. {face, palm} Moral of the story? Don’t eat these wings when you’re going to have to tinker with fancy electronics.

82 days people. Go Dawgs!

Spicy Baked BBQ Hot Wings

The BBQ Sauce {makes 1 cup of sauce}
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup worcestershire sauce
1 tsp paprika
2 Tbsp hot sauce

The Bird
10 pieces bone in chicken wings

Preheat your oven to 400.

Combine everything in a large sauce pan and bring it to a boil stirring constantly. Once the mixture starts getting darker {from the sugars caramelizing}, turn the heat off and keep stirring. Let it cool and then taste test it. Add more of any of the ingredients you think it needs. If it’s too spicy, add more ketchup.

Line up your wings on a lined baking sheet and brush the sauce on the top of each wing. Flip it over and do the same thing on the other side.

Put it in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Get the pan out, brush the tops with more sauce, flip, brush the other side with more sauce, and put it back in. Repeat until they have cooked for a total of 30 minutes.

While the wings are cooking, whip up a blue cheese dipping sauce because you’ll want something to cut the heat {or at least I do}. I usually pair the wings with a green veggie side like steamed broccoli or green beans, so I feel better about the fact I’m eating wings. But sometimes we have it with fries too.

Fried Egg BLT

Today was mad crazy for me. Most days I really look forward to cooking dinner. My evenings in the kitchen are my me time, and I love that I get to create something everyday. But we all have off days. Today was one of those days. I needed something quick and easy that required minimal brainpower because it’s Friday and I’m running on severe sleep deprivation. Today’s recipe is the perfect dinner for a busy day, and, bonus, you probably already have all of the ingredients in your fridge.

Fried Egg BLT

The Goods
4 slices of bacon
2 eggs
1 tomato, sliced
2 lettuce leaves
2 buns

The Dijonniase
2 Tbsp mayo
1 tsp whole grain sweet mustard
1 tsp whole grain spicy mustard
pinch of salt and pepper

Fry the bacon on medium heat. If you can get maple or peppercorn bacon, do it! It’s super tasty. Since the only bacon we can get here in Munich seems to be the basic stuff {or in large chunk form}, I always add a couple of grinds of pepper and a bit of maple syrup to the pan when I’m cooking the bacon, but I’ll leave that to your discretion.

While the bacon is cooking, prep for the rest of the sandwich. Slice your tomato, grab your leaves of lettuce, slice the bread, and make your dijonnaise.

We don’t use dijonnaise very often, so there really is no point in taking up valuable space in our tiny fridge with a jar of it—especially since it is just a combo of mayo and mustard, which we are going to have in the fridge anyway. You can whip this up in a fraction of a minute. Promise. Just mix it all together.

When the bacon is done, set it to the side and get to frying your eggs. The bacon grease should be enough for your eggs not to stick, but if you want to add a bit of olive oil to be on the safe side go for it. Crack your eggs into the pan and let them cook until the bottom is pretty solid. Carefully flip them over. The goal is to not break the yolk. Depending on how you like your yolk {runny, completely done, etc.} cook them for a bit more. I like mine runny so I usually only do about 30-45 seconds on that side.

When your eggs are done, its time to build your sandwich. Spread the dijonaise on both sides of the bun and layer up your goodies. On days like this I serve it with salt and vinegar potato chips {my weakness} and tell myself we have enough veggies on the sandwich. If you’re feeling ambitious, whip up some sweet potato fries or green beans.

Cashew Pesto from Tupelo Honey Cafe

I was late to the pesto party. Up until 2010, I probably couldn’t have even told you that there was basil in it. {Don’t hate.} Until… one of my roommates started having it every night {well that or Kraft Mac and Cheese}. I was intrigued, and then I was hooked. While I like the pesto in a jar just fine, it’s hard for me to use up the whole jar before I start thinking that the contents are getting a bit questionable {which probably explains why she had it every night}. If you have a food processor, making it yourself could not be simpler. Plus it is so much fresher and you can easy to control the amount you’re making so you don’t end up wasting money. Not convinced you should make your own yet? It you make your own, you can use cashews. I wish I could take credit for this pesto recipe, but I can’t. It’s from the Tupelo Honey Cafe cookbook and just like the name implies it is made with cashews instead of pine nuts. I love pine nuts, but these cashews take this stuff to a new level.

Kiwi and Peach: Cashew Basil Pesto

Cashew Pesto from Tupelo Honey Cafe

{makes about 1/2 cup}

1/2 cup fresh basil leaves {pack as much in there as you can}
1/3 cup salted cashews
2 cloves of garlic
juice from 1/2 of a lemon {1 Tbsp}
pinch of salt
a few grinds of fresh ground black pepper
1/3 cup olive oil

Add all of the ingredients to your food processor and process. Technically you are supposed to drizzle the olive oil in gradually as you process, but my food processor isn’t fancy enough to have a hole into which to drizzle. I’ve never had a problem just doing it all at the same time, but if you do, try the adding it gradually method. One of our favorite dinners is whole wheat pasta {fusilli, spaghetti, it doesn’t matter} tossed in pesto with these oven roasted tomatoes. Add a healthy amount of parmesan cheese and a bit of cracked black pepper and I call that dinner.

{This post contains an Amazon affiliate link. That means that if you head over to Amazon from the link and choose to buy the book, a tiny bit of the money you spent on the book will come back to me for the referral.} 

Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Blue Cheese

I can not tell y’all how many times I’ve gone to check out at our local and the cashier will hold up the sweet potato I’m buying and ask me what the heck it is. It happens at least 50% of the time. It invariably leads to other questions which I can’t answer fully because my German is a bit limited. My fall back is always ‘Süßkartoffeln sind sehr gut für Ihre Gesundheit.” which sounds like something a third grader would say. The reason for their lack of knowledge of this magical root vegetable? Sweet potatoes, or kumara in New Zealand, have only been widely available in Germany for about 5 years, so they are relatively new to the German food market. Not everyone has caught on to and embraced the new potato in town. {Maybe they should though. I’m sure sweet potato Knödel would be infinitely better than its current form.}

However, when buying some the other day, I happened upon a little pamphlet in front of the bin from the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission describing why they were good for you {Vitamin A! Very important for this carrot hater} and how to use them, auf Deutsch of course. I actually considered taking a few with me so I could spread the public service announcement to cashiers at other stores, but I refrained. Well done North Carolina. Thanks for having my back. Just one more reason for me to love you.

Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Blue Cheese Dipping Sauce

The Fries
1 sweet potato
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt {or garlic salt}

The Sauce
4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
¼ cup sour cream
2 Tbsp cream
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp plain yogurt

Preheat your oven to 450°F/225°C.

Peel your potato and chop into slices that are approximately 4.25 inches in length and 1/3 of an inch in width and height. Just kidding. Chop them to look like fries. Put them in a medium size bowl, add the salt and olive oil, and toss to coat. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread your fries out on it. Pop them in the oven for 30 minutes. Give them a stir about half way through so they are evenly crispy.

While the fries are baking, break out the food processor. Add all of the ingredients for the sauce to the food processor and blend until its creamy and the blue cheese is in tiny chunks.

This is a great side if your making a burger or any sandwich for that matter. I also make them with wings and when I make buffalo chicken fingers {pictured} because then the sauce can serve double duty.

Stuffed Chicken Parmesan

What are your feelings on spinach? I love spinach. I really do. But there is this thing that happens when we want to cook with spinach…burnout.

Spinach can technically grow all year, but most of the year the only way we can get it is in size ginormous. I’m talking like 5 cups of spinach in a bag. When you are only cooking for two people that’s a ridiculously large amount of spinach to consume. We literally have to eat spinach every day for a straight week to use it up that much spinach. {I guess I could take up drinking smoothies for breakfast, but I don’t see that happening just yet.} Sure I could just use what I need and let the rest go to waste, but then I just feel guilty. {There are starving kids, you know?} Anyway, after this week long spinach binge, I never want to see spinach again–until two weeks later I forget about it and buy another bag.

Needless to say, there are a number of recipes that I throw some spinach in to use it up. And why not? Spinach is great for you {just ask our favorite sailor}. It’s chock full of vitamins A and C and minerals like iron and calcium. {Maybe I should rethink those smoothies.} This recipe, though, has to be one of my favorites. I have had a hankering for it for a couple weeks, but was hesitant to put it on the meal plan because I knew it would another spinach binge. However, this past week I spied a bulk bin of spinach at our local. Much to the displeasure of all the German shoppers around me, I may or may not have let out a squeal of glee. Thank goodness it’s finally spinach season! We can buy only the spinach we need and I can make this deliciousness any time I’d like!

Stuffed Chicken Parmesan

{adapted for two from Skinny Taste}

The Stuffing
1 cup fresh spinach
1/4 cup ricotta cheese {cream cheese or mascarpone work too)
1 clove garlic, minced
3 fresh oregano leaves, chopped
5 fresh basil leaves, chopped
2 Tbsp parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 tsp of salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper

The Breading
1 egg
¼ cup whole wheat bread crumbs
1 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese
1 more fresh oregano leaf, chopped
1/4 tsp garlic salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper

1 or 2 chicken breasts {Depending on how much meat the carnivore in your house requires. We use 1, and he doesn’t complain.}

The Toppings
½ cup pasta sauce
½ ball of buffalo mozzarella

Preheat the oven to 450°F/225°C.

First we’ll prep the stuffing. Start by putting a healthy handful of spinach in a medium size bowl and microwave for about 20 seconds. {This will wilt the spinach just enough to make it easier to mix with the other ingredients and eventually stuff the chicken.} Then add the rest of the stuffing ingredients and mix well.

Go ahead and prepare the dish you are baking this yumminess in {I use olive oil, but Pam or straight butter would get the job done as well}.

Now onto the breading. Get out two bowls. In one, crack your egg and beat it a bit. In the other combine the bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, oregano, garlic salt, and pepper.

Now it gets a little messy…

Using a meat tenderizer {a wine bottle works too–I know this from experience}, pound the chicken out until it is about the thickness of your pinky finger and then cut it in half. Spoon the spinach mixture on the chicken and roll it up. Then dip the rolled chicken first into the egg and then into the bread crumbs. Make sure it is coated all over and then transfer to the baking dish seam side down. Repeat for second bit of chicken and then pop it into the oven for 25 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, I usually put some pasta on or whip up a salad. {Full disclosure: I’ve never made a salad with this–usually because we will be having a spinach salad at some point in the week and I need some pasta in my life. But the point is that you could. You could have a nice healthy salad. We have pasta.}

Anyway…

After the chicken bakes for 25 minutes, take it out and cover the top with your favorite pasta sauce and a nice slice of mozzarella. Put it back in the oven to heat the sauce and melt the cheese. This usually takes about 5 more minutes for me. After that, plate up and dig in!