14 October 2014

Deconstructed Caprese Salad Hors d'oeuvre

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I have a whole lineup of recipes in my queue to put together and share.  Some simple, like this Deconstructed Caprese Salad Hors d'oeuvre.  Others that require a bit more care and a delicate touch.  As I started sorting through photos this morning there was an underlying theme amongst them all--they were light, so very light and bright!

What I mean is, they were taken with a glorious summer sunshine that lasted into the wee hours of the evening.  There was lots of light, and it came into my home from a higher angle.  Now that fall is upon us, and the rain settled in this afternoon, I see these photos and I feel so much lightness.

The sun is peaking in at a lower angle and making the days look almost tired, like the sky is looking down on earth with sleepy eyes.  Most of me wants to snuggle in with a warm cup of tea and place a log in the fireplace, enjoy the quietness and dormancy of the fall.  A tiny small part of me will indulge in the activity of summer with a few glances at these bright recipes.

The practical side of me wants to share these little treats because as the holiday season approaches, there are so many opportunities to visit with others and enjoy their company.  It is something of a necessity to put together a dish to share for these festivities, and these little hors d'oeuvre are simple and easy.  

Most difficult part of this dish was selecting the little decorative bamboo picks with fun little red balls.  They are hardier then some, and with a small discard dish to the side, they are easy to wash and reuse. 

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Deconstructed Caprese Salad Hor d'oeuvre

  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Small fresh mozzarella balls
  • Fresh Basil leaves
  • Olive Oil
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Ground pepper to taste
Cut the cherry tomatoes in half so they lay flat on the serving plate.  On a bamboo pick, slide on small mozzarella balls, bay leaf, and finally the cut cherry tomato.  Stand upright and before serving drizzle olive oil over top.  Sprinkle with salt and ground pepper.  

Delightfully simple!

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13 October 2014

Weekend Goal: Clean the Kitchen Cabinets | Giveaway!

Last month I experienced one of my greatest kitchen nightmares; my refrigerator stopped working.  We tried replacing the control panel, but it just will not circulate the cool air.

This major set back forced me to clean out my refrigerator and freezer and really tidy up the space.

And then I could not stop.  I had to keep cleaning.

Next came the counters.  And under the sink.

Finally, my nemesis -- the kitchen cabinets.  Here are my four tips for cleaning out the cabinets.

  1. Clear everything out.
  2. Check the expiration dates.
  3. Deep clean with a natural cleaner.  I used good old white vinegar and water and scrubbed down all of the cabinets, the shelves and all sides.  Let it dry out completely before filling back up.
  4. Finding good containers.  Instead of allowing air and bugs--like disgusting little wheat flies--to spoil dry goods, find airtight containers to store food. 

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I was fortunate enough to pair up with OXO to find a solution for my container needs.  A beautiful box showed up at my door and thankfully my kitty, Skye, was hope to inspect and sign for it for me. 

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The good folks at OXO sent me three Good Grips Cereal Dispensers, as well as their 10 Piece Good Grips POP Container set.  What I immediately loved is that the pop-open lids on the containers can be sealed and opened with one hand and instantly sealed to keep air out.  They also stack nicely on top of each other, which can be seen in my after cabinet photos.

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I also love that they pull apart easily to be put in the dish washer.  Let's be real, I do not have time to hand wash everything. 

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GIVEAWAY!  The good news is that for folks who are looking to do a little fall cleaning of their own, OXO is partnering with The Container Store who has the Pop Containers and many other fabulous organizing tools at stores nationwide. 

Beloved Green readers can enter to win a prize pack worth $500, including your choice of OXO Storage & Organization tools (up to $250), as well as a $250 elfa gift card.  Giveaway will run from Monday, October 13th (TODAY!) through Friday, October 31st. 

To sign-up for this POP-tober giveaway, head over to HERE and register!

So now we can get onto the embarrassing photos of my messy cabinets.  This is real life folks!

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22 July 2014

Campfire Vegetables and Quinoa Recipe | Camping trip to Whidbey Island

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Living in the Pacific Northwest has the distinct quality of being close to nature -- even when living in the city.  For example, my friend sends me a note asking if I want to camping overnight the following day.  It is a mid-week trip, but I will be back just in time to head to work the following day. 

My reply back, "I'll bring the food."

A quick packing of her car--an even quicker packing of the puppy,--and we settle in for a short drive, followed by a brief ferry ride, and finally another short ride to our camping destination.  Simple car trip with no hiking required.  The fact that ferries seem like a normal piece of transportation to me is still mind-boggling coming from a Midwestern girl.

Our campsite is set up in moments, I have started the fire and Puja has finished putting together the tent.  The puppy continues to whine with frustration because she is tethered and "just wants to help".

The flames have finally found their hold.  The city girl does have a trick up her sleeve.  I throw a couple of aluminum foil packets on the grill over top the fire and let them cook out.  

A couple cold beers, some chatting, a happily released puppy -- the makings of a good evening.  I pull the aluminum foil packets off the grill and share the feast with my pleased friend over a shared headlamp light illuminating a jug of water.  Of course I forgot mine at home so we improvised.  It is only an overnight trip after all.

Puja loves our dinner, just right for being outdoors.  Puppy lingers around looking for scraps.  All-in-all the best of living so close to nature.  Settling in for a night under the stars, ready to wake up the next morning for a quick hike before heading back to the big city.

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Campfire Vegetables and Quinoa Recipe

  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 Portabella mushroom
  • 1 Green Pepper
  • 1 Red pepper
  • 1 Zucchini
  • 1 tsp lemon pepper
  • olive oil to drizzle
  • sea salt to taste
Rinse off the quinoa.  In a saucepan pour in the vegetable broth and quinoa and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for about 15 minutes.  Once the quinoa seeds have opened, remove from heat, fluff with a fork, and set aside.

Clean and slice the peppers, zucchini, and mushroom into 1/2 inch wide long strips.  Place two pieces of aluminum foil on the prep space and layer half the vegetables first (learned this from experience) drizzle on the olive oil to coat and sprinkle on the lemon pepper.  Add in half of the quinoa.  Fold into a pocket keeping the ends snug.  Repeat and create a second packet with the remaining vegetables and quinoa.  Vegetables go on first because they will need to cook through, and if it is flipped on the grill, the oil will leak out the folded seal.  

Packets are stored in a cooler, and when ready to be cooked can be placed directly onto the fire, or on a grate over the fire.  Allow them to cook for 10-15 minutes.


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xoxo, the tree huggers

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