Summer Sewing

I recently was gifted with a bag filled with little girl patterns for dresses, bags, and coats, along with some sweet fabric remnants. I haven’t been sewing very much this summer since I’ve been trying to enjoy more time on the porch reading, but this Simple Servant Frock Dress from Sugar City was a joy to make.

I actually sewed it by hand because it was so straight forward and I wound up making the little pleats on the neckline—and adding buttons—because it was a little too big all over for my girl. I loved that there were no closures or zippers to worry about and that the roomy style is very forgiving. I think that it will fit her nicely come fall and I’m already hoping that she’ll agree to wear it for her first day of nursery school.

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Potato Salad with Green Beans, Zucchini, and Herb Vinaigrette

We’ve hit the point in the summer where we’re starting to get a surplus of specific produce items, both from our garden and our CSA. I’m doing my best to stay on top of the chard and beet greens by blanching, food processing, and freezing in ice cube trays (then transferring to freezer bags) to use through the winter in soups and stews. But we’re getting about a gallon of green beans from our garden alone each week and I don’t love them when cooked from frozen, so I’ve been coming up with new ways to use them. And since potatoes are just starting to be harvested in our area, it seemed like a fine time to combine the two—and to throw in some zucchini for good measure.

This super simple potato salad uses the vinaigrette that I so profusely talked about in my last post. It’s still holding steady as my favorite dressing of the season and it’s a great fit for this potato salad. The method for this recipe is so straight forward that I’m not sure it’s even a recipe:

Wash and chop 1/2-1 pound potatoes, 1 quart green beans and 1 medium zucchini.

Add potatoes to a large pot of salted boiling water and cook for about 5 minutes. Add green beans. Cook until potatoes are just starting to become tender; add zucchini.

Strain and let cool in the strainer.

Toss with the Herb Vinaigrette, Parmesan, and roasted sunflower seeds, if you’re like me and can’t have a salad without some form of seed or nut.

Eat at room temperature, preferably outside.

We brought this salad to a potluck last night and it was delicious. And after eating the leftovers with our dinner tonight, I can definitively say that this will be a summer staple in my house.

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White Balsamic Vinaigrette with Herbs

I was in a little bit of a salad dressing rut last week, so while at Trader Joe’s, I picked up a bottle of white balsamic vinegar. It’s been years since I used it in my kitchen but it inspired me to make a new dressing for all of the greens growing in our yard right now—and it might be my favorite dressing of all time. It’s easy to vary according to what you have, it goes really well with simple salads topped with strong cheeses such as feta or aged cheddar, and even makes a nice dipping sauce for snap peas and carrots. I’ve been making large jars full every few days so that it’s ready and waiting.

White Balsamic Vinaigrette with Herbs
Makes about 1 cup

2/3 cup white balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
2 T – 1/4 cup mixed fresh herbs such as basil, parsley, and thyme
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp roughly chopped shallot
pinch salt
freshly cracked black pepper

1. Put all ingredients into a blender, food processor, or the plastic measuring cup that your immersion blender came with. Blend until smooth. Use right away or refrigerate between uses.

Variations:
Use 1 clove garlic, grated, instead of shallot.
Change up the herbs or leave them out if you don’t have any on hand.
Try maple syrup instead of the honey.

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Lemony Garlic Scape Pesto with Almonds

In addition to the bunch of garlic scapes that came in our CSA box last week, we had about 40 outside in our garden, so I took it as a sign to make pesto. Some of this went onto pizza and some was slathered onto toast and topped with shredded mozzarella and then broiled briefly. And the rest I froze in ice cube trays (which makes convenient portions) to use at a later date, likely on pasta. I love the simplicity of this pesto recipe, which would work just as well with basil if you don’t have a pile of scapes to use up.

Lemony Garlic Scape Pesto
12-15 garlic scapes (or 3 cups basil, packed)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup slivered or whole roasted almonds
juice of one lemon
1/2 cup olive oil

1. Pulse the garlic scapes, cheese, and almonds in a food processor until broken down. Add lemon juice and olive oil and let machine run until smooth, adding more olive oil if necessary to create a spreadable consistency. Use immediately, store in the fridge for up to 3 days, or freeze in ice cube trays or freezer bags for later use.

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My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie

I could tell you that I love these cookies because they are gluten free. Or because they are lower in sugar than most. Or because they are crazy easy to make and require nothing more than a bowl and a wooden spoon. But really, I love them because they taste like a cross between a coconut macaroon and a chocolate chip cookie. I have made three batches in about as many weeks and they are just the best. I sometimes use butter instead of the coconut oil and I usually double the chocolate, but otherwise, I urge you to try these at home the next time you need a treat. (Which is pretty much always, yes?)

Get the recipe for Almond Meal Cookies with Coconut and Dark Chocolate here via Minimalist Baker.

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Three Ways with Frozen Yogurt

My mom recently made a few batches of absolutely delicious frozen yogurt so I needed to share the recipes with you—and also to post them here so that I remember them when I have the urge to make these over the summer!

Strawberry Greek Frozen Yogurt: This is the recipe that recently shared, and one that I absolutely love. I love that it’s lightly sweetened and relies on tart lemon, fresh fruit, and vanilla to flavor the protein-packed base.

Blueberry Greek Frozen Yogurt: Same recipe as above but using blueberries in place of the strawberries. I might add some lemon zest or additional lemon juice to this base to help brighten the flavors a bit.

Mango Mint Frozen Yogurt: I wasn’t sure that I would love this recipe based on the ingredients, but it turned out to be my favorite of the bunch. It’s insanely refreshing—and I am betting that it could be turned into a slushy party drink if you added a scoop to a glass filled with champagne!

You can tell that we’re clearly on a frozen dessert kick around here!

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Greek Strawberry Frozen Yogurt and Berry Tart with Cookie Crust

It’s finally warm in Iowa, which means that the ice cream maker has been in heavy rotation. I have been alternating between mint chip and frozen yogurt made with thick and tart Greek frozen yogurt. The recipe, which you can find over on Recipe.com, is incredibly simple with just 5 ingredients that you might already have in your house. Plus, it’s  low in added sugars (just 1/4 cup honey) as it relies on the yogurt, lemon juice, and berries to flavor the recipe. You can of course adjust the honey up to 1/2 cup, depending on your preference, but if you use ripe berries, you may enjoy the less-sweet taste of this recipe.

And since Greek yogurt is naturally high in protein, this is one dessert that doubles as an equally delicious (and healthy) snack. It’s perfect for toddlers and their parents, and the base can even be frozen into popsicle molds.

Get the recipe here.

And if you’re in the mood to bake (or you need something to serve your frozen yogurt with), try this Berry Tart with an Oatmeal Cookie Crust. I used leftover cookie dough that I had stashed in the freezer for the crust and served each slice with a dollop of lemon curd. So yummy and fresh.

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Lilac Season and Some Links to Share

The little one is almost over another bad cold, the Tulip Time crowds have thinned out, and the lilac bushes are starting to fill the yard with their heavenly scent. I am so grateful that we moved to a house with mature bushes—and it is my goal to have freshly cut lilacs in the house as long as they are outside the door.

A few links to share:

In need of an impressive and delicious breakfast idea to make for mom this weekend? Try this Puffed Pancake from my latest post over on recipe.com.

I am eager to try this Grapefruit Margarita recipe from my friend Kelly. It sounds refreshing and just the thing to sip outside.

I’ve been making this No-Knead Sandwich Bread regularly for my family and I am obsessed. It’s crazy easy and it’s turns out two loaves of really awesome bread for sandwiches, toast, and grilled cheese. I’ve been fine-tuning a perfect whole grain version (and a cinnamon raisin one!) and will share the recipe soon.

I can’t wait to read Delancey after I finish The Fault in Our Stars (pass the tissues!), then find some new recipes in Eating in Color and I Quit Sugar. I love sweets as much as the next person but the idea of filling up on protein and healthy fats instead of sweeter fare does make a lot of sense to me…no plans for a dietary overall but it’s nice to have some healthy cooking inspiration! And since my gluten-induced headaches are back after a blissful remission during pregnancy and breast feeding, I’ve been looking at my diet in the hopes of just feeling better each day.

The Far Far Away Collectors Pack of fabric from Heather Ross is so, so very tempting, though I am reminding myself that I have two bins filled with fabric that needs to be put to good use before I can buy another large stash!

These bright Correa Sandals from Toms are so cute! And this monogram necklace is simply beautiful.

Hope you’re all having a good week so far!

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Whole Grain Chocolate Apricot Cookies

I made a batch of these cookies over the weekend as we had a picnic planned and we of course needed to have dessert. Our picnic wound up being cancelled after I had the batch started (because the lovely friend we were going to meet went into labor!), so it seemed only right to simply be happy at the circumstances and delighted that we had more treats to sock away in the cupboard*.

I find that most cookie and dessert recipes are too sweet for my taste on an everyday basis, and so with that in mind, and also to limit the amount of added sugars that Linden gets at home—because I know she gets plenty of them outside of our house during visits to our local bakery and even at church—I almost always adjust the sweetener in my baked goods. I find that if you go down about 1/3 (or less, depending on the type of recipe), you get a very similar result with good flavor that no one, except perhaps my husband, would ever think had been altered. (Plus I substituted a small mashed banana and an extra egg in this recipe to reduce the butter called for down to a half of a stick from a whole stick, so the fruit adds some extra sweetness.)

I love these cookies because they pair so well with milk or coffee, and taste sort of like oat scones loaded with mix-ins. They also have some protein in them from the nuts, fiber from the whole grains, and some vitamin C from the dried fruit, so they are a decent snack option—especially when we all are in need of a hit of chocolate…which, let’s be honest, is most days!

Whole Grain Chocolate Apricot Cookies
Adapted from the Nature Cookies recipe from Weelicious

1 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup butter, softened (1/2 stick)
1 small banana, mashed
1/4 cup honey
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup flaked unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup snipped apricots, raisins, or dried cherries

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Mix together the flour, oats, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl.
2. Beat the butter and the honey in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the banana, the eggs, and the vanilla and beat until combined. Slowly add the flour mixture and mix on low until just combined. Add the chocolate, coconut, and dried fruit and mix just until combined.
3. Spoon tablespoon-size rounds onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Flatten slightly. Bake for 14-15 minutes or until just starting to brown around the edges. Let cool on a wire rack.

*I do plan to bring some of the cookies to the new parents if they are still good by the time they are back at home—if not, another batch will likely be in order!

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Kids in the Kitchen: Sweet Potato Chorizo Quesadillas

image copyright recipe.com

We’ve gotten on a quesadilla kick in our house lately and this recipe, which I made recently with the help of the little one, is a total keeper. Check out the full details over on recipe.com if you’re in the market for a quick and satisfying dinner or lunch option (who isn’t?!).

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