Hello Fun Seekers

The Passionate Pursuit of Delight

Almond Butter and Peach Toast

Almond Butter and Peach ToastThe end of peach season can nearly move me to tears. A perfectly ripe peach is as close to heaven as I can imagine. Dream sequence: I am standing in my kitchen, leaning over the sink, and bite into a big juicy peach.  The flesh just gives and the juices start running down my arm. The warm peach is so delicious that I can’t bother to grab a dish towel. Okay, enough of this nonsense, let’s get back to the recipe.

Back to the almond butter and peach toast though. You don’t really need a recipe, it’s just an assembly job. Peaches and almonds pair perfectly, so if you haven’t already, I highly recommend giving almond butter a try. I prefer to buy almond butter at grocery stores where I can grind it myself from almonds. Grinding your own guarantees that there is no additives or other junk in your almond butter.

Almond Butter and Peach ToastAlmond butter and peach toast is so simple but the genius comes from using quality ingredients. Get a nice artisan loaf of bread or try to make your own. I often use this no-knead bread recipe when I make bread. The results will blow your mind. It’s so easy and the end product is a tender crusty loaf that will impress your friends and family.

But, let’s get real, the star of this dish is the perfectly ripe peach. When peaches are season, I will stop at nothing to get them from the farmers markets, produce stands, or best of all from a friend’s tree. Then, I use them in every way possible. I have canned peach salsa (yum!), made this Peach, Zucchini, and Basil Pizza, and this peach tart.

Almond Butter and Peach ToastWhen I buy too many peaches, I will make this Almond Butter and Peach Toast for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s so quick and easy to prepare but so completely satisfying. I add the sliced almonds and hemp seeds for a little texture and crunch.

Almond Butter and Peach Toast pin

Zucchini Scramble Toast

Zucchini Scramble Toast

It all started when my Mom showed up with three zucchini from her garden. She was heading out of town but her garden was still producing like crazy. Of course I could use them, no way would I let them go to waste. That is what I told both of us.

My garden has two zucchini plants so I already had zucchini pickles in the fridge. I’d made zucchini pie at least three times. Crispy zucchini chips? Yup, I had made them at several times. Chewy zucchini oatmeal cookies? I made those too.

Zucchini Scramble Toast

Coffee has a way of clearing my mind and as I sipped my morning cuppa, I eyeballed the zucchini, thought about eggs, and that day old loaf of bread on the counter and Zucchini Scramble Toast was born.

I shredded the zucchini and thinly sliced part of an onion. All the veggies needed was a quick sauté in olive oil and a little salt and pepper. Once the vegetables softened, I added a couple of lightly beaten eggs to pan and let the eggs set for about a minute before gently pushing them around the pan. Just a little more salt and pepper to the eggs and scrambled until set. Remember the eggs will continue to cook for a few minutes after you remove the pan from the heat.

Zucchini Scramble Toast

While the eggs were cooking, I toasted and buttered the bread. When the eggs were done, I divided the eggs evenly onto the toast. I sprinkled chopped tomatoes and fresh herbs on top. Chives and basil are terrific on the toast.

The beauty of Zucchini Scramble Toast is that while it is perfect for breakfast, it also makes a super quick weeknight supper. Plus, with the price of avocados these days, it may be time for the avocado toast trend to exit stage left. Who wants to help me start the next ‘toast’ fad?

So, Mom, if you are reading this, I used up all three zucchini. I hope you are having a great time on your trip and when you get home, come over for Zucchini Scramble Toast and a cup of coffee. I want to hear all about your adventures.

Zucchini Scramble Toast

Tomato and Caramelized Onion Galette

Tomato and Caramelized Onion Galette

It’s almost like heaven. Fresh, garden tomatoes are everywhere! Neighbors bring them over, coworkers bring them to work, farmers markets have them in a rainbow of colors, and if you are very lucky, you can go into your own garden and pick them just before you eat them. A neighbor was drowning in tomatoes and brought me over some beauties. I made tomato sandwiches, gazpacho, and with the two most perfect specimens I made a tomato and caramelized onion galette.

A galette is similar to pie but it is baked on a baking sheet instead of in a pie pan. Galettes are typically more rustic in nature and you typically don’t see fancy crimping or decorating like you do on pies. Galettes can be sweet or savory. This savory tomato and caramelized onion galette would be my first choice over any fruit pie, any day of the week.

Tomato and Caramelized Onion Galette

Baking isn’t really my forte so you won’t see a ton of recipes that feature baking rather than cooking. In my mind, cooking is like jazz music, you can freestyle the heck out of most recipes. But, baking is a whole different thing. Baking is like the symphony, where each individual component is perfectly precise and deviations from the plan are not appreciated and can often sink the endeavor.

For these reasons, I typically buy pie crusts in the refrigerator section of the grocery store rather than attempting to make them from scratch. I have several friends who make pie crust from scratch and they tell me it is a cinch. The few times I have tried, I ended up with pile of buttery crumbs. But, if you make excellent pie crusts from scratch, by all means, use those. In fact, why not drop a link in the comments below to the recipe you use. Maybe I will get the nerve up to try again.

But, the real star of this dish is the tomatoes. Don’t you dare use grocery store tomatoes for this recipe! I only make this tomato and caramelized onion galette during the summer months when garden fresh tomatoes are available.

Caramelized onions add a wonderful flavor which complements the tomatoes. You can skip the onions if you don’t have the time or inclination to caramelize the onions but I rarely skip this step because I love what they bring to this dish. I slice the onions vertically. See the video below if you aren’t sure what I mean.

Regarding the cheese, I love the tangy creaminess from the goat cheese but I wouldn’t drive to the store to get goat cheese if I had feta or Parmesan in the fridge. I like to serve this galette with a salad and a crisp white wine.

Tomato and Caramelized Onion Galette

Looking for other tomato recipes? Check out these posts:

Tailgating Playlist

tailgate

My friend Courtney is back with another rump-shaking Spotify playlist. Court is a University of Utah football fan through and through. One of the many things that I love about her is that saw a need in her tailgating group and took action which she explains below.

If anyone can rise to the challenge of creating a Spotify playlist that meets the musical needs for a multi-generational crowd, Courtney is the one. So, get your tailgating food packed up and bring along a portable speaker so you and your tailgating crew can enjoy the pre-party before the big game.

 

Courtney tailgating

I’ve been tailgating and attending football games with the same group since 2008 (Sugar Bowl Championship year!) They were tailgating together for years before I joined them. Up until a couple of seasons ago, it was a pretty dialed in operation, with the exception of one thing: the music.

little tailgater

Our group ranges from Baby Boomers to Gen Zers. Every time someone tried to play music, someone else would be complaining, “what is this?? It’s terrible!” And it usually was. I knew I had to do something, but was I up to the challenge? Putting together a playlist that all of these people with varying musical tastes could enjoy for hours?

I wasn’t sure, but Coach Whitt gave me a great pep talk (in my mind) “EVERYTHING YOU’VE GOT! LEAVE NOTHING IN THE TANK! IT’S RIGHT THERE FOR THE TAKING! GO TAKE IT!”

OK, coach!

Tailgating Swoop
The Music in the Tailgating Playlist

What I came up with includes gems for the Baby Boomers by Paul Simon, Led Zeppelin, Johnny Cash, and Elton John. For the Gen Xers we’ve got stuff by Modest Mouse, Tom Petty, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Beastie Boys. For the Millennials I added The Black Keys, The White Stripes, Amy Winehouse, and Beyoncé. And for our Gen Zers, we’ve got songs by Lorde, Imagine Dragons, Alabama Shakes, and Alt-J. On top of those, I added songs sure to pump you up for the big game like Spoon’s “The Underdog” and DJ Khaled’s “All I Do Is Win.”

tailgating gamesNow instead of complaining, we bop our heads up and down while we pile up our plates, shake our hips while we play holy board, dance while we top off our drinks, and tap our feet while we discuss our team’s #throwgame, and whether or not this year, our new offensive coordinator can improve our production.

VICTORY!

It is a true crowd-pleaser with songs sure to get you ready for the big game. I hope you and your tailgating group enjoy! Go Utes!!

Tailgating playlist

Be sure to check out Courtney’s other playlists

Crispy Zucchini Chips

Crispy Zucchini Chips

Oh, garden, my garden, let me count the ways that I love thy bounty. Seriously, am I the only one who waxes poetic about the amazingness of a humble garden? I don’t think I will ever get over the magic of planting a few seeds in the ground, providing water regularly, and coming home each day to magic. Absolute and total magic. Zucchini, tomatoes, fresh herbs, greens, and beans delight me daily during the summer months.

I am a vegetable lover through and through and I never tire of summer and the incredible food that I can grow with minimal effort and expense. Picking veggies and herbs then walking a few steps into my kitchen is what fuels my fire of local and seasonal food. I bank the sights, smells, and sounds of summer while weeding and watering, to draw upon through winter. But, I know not everyone feels this way about vegetables and that some of you may face challenges of cooking for people or kids who proclaim to hate vegetables. Well, I have an idea for you.

Want to sneak some additional vegetables into your family’s meals? Then I highly recommend making theses crispy zucchini chips to accompany your next burger or BLT. You will love these baked zucchini chips. The coating is crispy, light, and full of flavor. The beauty is that they are baked not fried. Plus, your non-veggie loving family members will eat them. I promise.

Crispy Zucchini ChipsEven my vegetarian, non-vegetable loving son will devour these Crispy Zucchini Chips. So, when zucchinis are coming on strong I make crispy zucchini chips at least once per week. If you or your kids like to dip, you can serve crispy zucchini chips with ketchup, marinara, ranch dressing, or my favorite, Green Goddess dressing.

Also keep in mind, as I have mentioned before, I use a mandoline to slice the zucchini evenly. The OXO brand that I have lets you set the slices to the exact thickness that you want. To make the coating extra crispy, I use a combination of seasoned bread crumbs and panko bread crumbs which can found with the ethnic food aisle of the grocery store. To boost the flavor of the coating, add some salty parmesan and a bit of kick from cayenne pepper.

I like to use zucchini that are on the small side because they are tender and don’t have many seeds. I hope you like this recipe and you may find that you don’t want to give your extra zucchinis away.

How to Make Crisp Zucchini Chips

Crispy Zucchini Chips

Spicy Cucumber Salad with Peanuts

Spicy Cucumber Salad with Peanuts

I have been making Spicy Cucumber Salad with Peanuts for years, well over a decade, in fact. This is one my go-to recipes that is in heavy rotation especially during the summer months when I crave cool, crisp, and refreshing meals. I prefer to use English (or hot house) cucumbers for this recipe because of their thin skin and few seeds but if you grow your own cukes, by all means, use them.

The funny thing about cucumbers is that I didn’t like cucumbers (at all) until I was an adult. I adored pickles as a kid but wouldn’t touch cucumbers with a ten-foot pole. That’s weird, right?

Spicy Cucumber Salad with Peanuts is super easy to make. You combine a few ingredients like rice wine vinegar, water, sugar, crushed red pepper flakes in a small sauce pan and simmer until the sauce is reduced by half. The dressing is terrific blend of sweet, spicy, and acid.

While the dressing cools, slice the cucumbers very thin.  Using a mandoline makes this job a snap and results in perfectly uniform slices. The video below shows how to use a mandoline and features the exact same OXO brand mandoline that I use. I love it because I can set the width of the slices and it makes slicing so easy, just be very careful because the blade is sharp. Always use the included safety guard when using the mandoline.

After slicing the cucumbers, I recommend putting the slices into a colander and sprinkling them liberally with salt. The salt will draw the moisture out of the cucumber which results in crisp slices in your salad. Be sure to rinse the salt off the slices and then use a paper towel or clean kitchen towel and pat the slices to remove excess moisture before adding the dressing.

Just before serving Spicy Cucumber Salad with Peanuts, sprinkle the salad or individual servings with chopped up dry-roasted peanuts. The peanuts add that salty crunch which is the perfect foil for the cool, crisp cucumbers.

Sometimes I will make a pot of rice and serve the Spicy Cucumber Salad with Peanuts in a bowl with a scoop of rice. I love to make Spicy Cucumber Salad with Peanuts to accompany Hawaiian Poke. Check out my recipes for Spicy Ahi Tuna Poke or Ginger Salmon Poke with Mango and Avocado. Grilled meat or fish would also make a great accompaniment to this salad.

How to Make Spicy Cucumber Salad with Peanuts

Spicy Cucumber Salad with Peanuts

Spicy Cucumber Salad with Peanuts

Ginger Salmon Poke with Mango and Avocado

Ginger Salmon Poke with Mango and Avocado

Salmon and Mangos and Avos….oh my!

I could eat Hawaiian poke (pronounced poe-kay) every day, it is so light and fresh, perfect in the summer. Poke is a raw fish salad seasoned with flavors common in Japanese cooking. Ginger salmon poke is flavored with a dressing of fresh ginger, sesame oil, soy sauce, and Sriracha. Once the cubes of salmon are coated with the dressing, onions, sesame seeds, mango and avocado are added to poke.

There are a few things to consider before attempting to make poke at home. First, buy your fish from a reputable fish monger or a grocery store which carries high-quality fresh fish. I recommend mentioning that you plan to make poke with the fish when you are buying. Also, you will want to use a very sharp knife to cut the fish into cubes. A knife that isn’t super sharp will tear the fish so be sure to sharpen your knives before cutting up the fish.

Do you have a good knife? The single most important kitchen tool for me a sharp chef’s knife. This is the knife that I use to cut almost everything while preparing recipes. I have a serrated bread knife for slicing bread and a paring knife that I occasionally use to slice up a peach or remove the segments of oranges.

Having a solid chef’s knife is the first step, keeping the knife sharp is the second step. You should invest in a steel to sharpen your knife. The video below will show you exactly how to use the steel to keep your knife in perfect cutting condition.

With this in mind, you will become a poke-making master in no time. I love to serve poke in a bowl with steamed rice (brown or white). Then, I like to add some fresh vegetables like shredded cabbage or a lightly dressed cucumber salad to round out the bowl.

If poke is your thing too, you may want to check out my post on Spicy Ahi Tuna Poke too.

How to Make Ginger Salmon Poke with Mango and Avocado

Ginger Salmon Poke with Mango and Avocado

Ginger Salmon Poke with Mango and Avocado

Cucumber Sunomono Salad

Cucumber Sunomono Salad

Raise your hand if you currently have more cucumbers in your fridge than fingers on one hand. Am I the only one raising my hand here? I doubt it. I don’t know what happened but a whole bunch of them come on at once. So, now I am busting out all the cucumber recipes that I love and eating cucumbers all the time. You have probably had a version of this cucumber sunomono salad one time or another at a Japanese or sushi restaurant.

Sunomono salad is a perfect side dish to accompany meals. It is light, crispy, and refreshing. The vinegar dressing is a perfect foil for any richness you may serve alongside it. For example, sunomono salad is perfect with spring rolls and a peanut dipping sauce. Or, I adore sunomono salad with Hawaiian Poke salad. You can find my recipe for Spicy Ahi Tuna Poke here. One of my friends makes sunomono salad as a side dish alongside a marinated grilled flank steak or ribs. I think it would be terrific paired with grilled salmon too.

Sunomono salad can be dressed up or down. Vegetarians can skip the imitation crab altogether and consider adding chopped peanuts instead. You can kick the sunomono salad up a notch by adding shrimp to the salad. If you add shrimp, don’t use the little salad shrimp. Buy something bigger and then slice them in halfThe possibilities are endless!

I often make up a batch of sunomono salad on the weekend and enjoy it for lunch during the week. The cucumbers will soften as they sit but if you are using fresh cucumbers, the salad will remain crisp and flavorful. The salad also comes together so quickly that you can make it as a side dish on a weeknight and pair it with something that you’ve grilled.

How to Make Cucumber Sunomono Salad

Cucumber Sunomono Salad

Cucumber Sunomono Salad

Spicy Ahi Tuna Poke

Spicy Ahi Tuna Poke

Poke is a raw fish salad. In Hawaiian, poke means ‘to cut or slice’. The fish is cut into cubes and seasoned with ingredients that are common in Japanese cooking such as soy sauce, sesame oil, and green onions.

This summer has become the summer of poke in my kitchen. I am not sure how it happened but suddenly I find myself craving it all the time. Perhaps it is because the temperatures this summer have been unbearably hot and I can’t stand eating anything hot or even turning on a burner most nights. Or, maybe it is just that I have come to appreciate the simplicity of chopping up a few quality ingredients and combining them into an incredibly tasty dish. Whatever the reason, I can’t stop making and eating poke. Today’s recipe for spicy ahi tuna features fresh ahi tuna with a little kick.

I get my fish from a local fishmonger which has fresh fish flown in every day. Many of the local sushi restaurants in town order their fish from them too so you know it has to be good. I always ask the fishmonger which fish that they have in that day would be good to use to make poke. On my last visit, I picked up some ahi tuna and salmon.  I will have a few more poke recipes coming your way in the coming weeks.

Figure that you will want between 4 to 6 ounces of fish per person. I always serve poke with rice and either shredded cabbage, a cucumber salad, or seaweed salad to round out the meal.

The beauty of poke is that you make a simple, flavorful dressing that will lightly coat the fish. The fish is cut into small cubes which maximizes the surface area available to soak up the flavorful dressing. Then, you simply add rice (either brown or white) into a bowl, top with the spicy ahi tuna, and some vegetable matter and you have a perfect summer meal. I will often make a little bit extra of everything so I have leftovers for lunch the next day!

How to Make Spicy Ahi Tuna Poke

Spicy Ahi Tuna Poke

Spicy Ahi Tuna Poke Pin

Dark Chocolate Dipped Figs with Sea Salt

Dark Chocolate Dipped Figs with Sea Salt

I wouldn’t call this a recipe. An assembly job is a more accurate description. And let’s face it, in the summer time, who can be bothered with cooking and recipes and such? I know that many nights I cannot be bothered to heat up the kitchen by turning on a burner or the oven.
Plus, summer means fig season. For those of you who live in a climate where fig trees grow outside, I envy you. For the rest of us, we carefully scour farmers markets, specialty markets, or Trader Joe’s for the first sign of fresh figs.

Fresh figs bear little resemblance to the filling of a Fig Newton cookie. Fresh figs are a succulent and delicately sweet.

If you are a child of the 80s, you may recall an INXS video for the song ‘The One Thing’ which features an opulent dinner party and big haired models seductively eating fresh figs. I can’t lie, every time I eat a fig that song and video play in my mind. Fortunately for everyone, I eat most meals on my own, so they are spared my interpretation of that video. Ha!

If you haven’t ever tried fresh figs, I encourage you to track them down. They are in season during summer and I have recently seen them at both Trader Joe’s and Costco. I usually eat figs just like an apple or pear. They are also delicious sliced and on top of yogurt or oatmeal. But, sometimes I will want something a little sweet and decadent in the evening.

Dark Chocolate Dipped Figs with Sea Salt 6 fresh figs 8 ounces dark chocolate, melted Sea salt Place parchment paper on a plate or small baking sheet. Chop or break up chocolate and place in small glass bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds. Stir and repeat until the chocolate is melted. Dip the bottom third of each fig into the melted chocolate. Place on parchment paper and sprinkle chocolate with sea salt.

Dipping fresh figs in dark chocolate and sprinkling them with sea salt is the perfect way to end a meal. If dark chocolate isn’t your jam, you can substitute milk chocolate. But, I really enjoy the slight bitterness of dark chocolate with the sweetness of the figs.

To start, I break up the chocolate and microwave it in a glass bowl for 30 second increments. Stir the chocolate after each 30 second interval until melted. Meanwhile, line a plate or small baking sheet with parchment paper. Dip the bottom third of the fig into the melted chocolate and place on parchment. Sprinkle sea salt on warm chocolate. Chill in refrigerator for 20 minutes to set up.

Dark Chocolate Dipped Figs with Sea Salt

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