Hello Fun Seekers

Embracing everything that makes life fun.

Author: Diane Hartford (Page 2 of 8)

Asparagus and Artichoke Frittata

Asparagus and Artichoke Frittata

The only thing that could make this dish more spring-like is if I stuck a tulip on the top of it. I would not do that because it would be silly. Instead, I took some of my favorite spring flavors and combined them into a beautiful asparagus and artichoke frittata.

Springtime is always associated with eggs (think Easter) and those tender spears of asparagus. For this recipe, I recommend selecting asparagus that is at least as thick as a pencil. You do not want to be trying to peel those skinny little stalks into ribbons. Unlike most preparations of asparagus, you don’t want to snap off the tough ends. You will use them as a handle and hold onto them as you are peeling the stalks into attractive ribbons.

Asparagus and Artichoke Frittata

I used canned artichoke hearts that were quartered. You will want to drain  and rinse them and then gave them a rough chop. I selected feta cheese mainly because I had some in the fridge. You could also substitute Parmesan or goat cheese if you prefer.

Frittatas are equally as welcome on the table for brunch served with roasted potatoes and fresh fruits, as they are on the dinner table with a salad and crusty bread. They also travel well as leftovers for lunch the next day. Alternatively, frittatas are perfect if you are having vegetarian friends or family over (ahem, Mom) and don’t know what to make.

Asparagus and Artichoke Frittata

Here is another idea; wouldn’t this be lovely as part of Mother’s Day brunch spread? Add some fresh fruit and mimosas and you have a brunch fit for a queen. Wouldn’t the asparagus and artichoke frittata also be perfect for book club? Most book clubs that I have been involved in could more accurately be categorized as wine clubs but the frittata would be great for that too!  I would recommend a Sauvignon Blanc to accompany this frittata because of the strong flavors of the asparagus and artichoke.

How to Make Asparagus and Artichoke Frittata

Asparagus and Artichoke Frittata

Asparagus and Artichoke Frittata

Wait! There’s More

If you like frittatas, you may also be interested in these recipes:

Shrimp and Corn Ceviche

Shrimp and Corn Ceviche

 

Let’s be real here. I heart anything that I can scoop in a tortilla chip. If that scoopable dip contains seafood then I am over the moon. So, you can imagine my excitement as I prepped this shrimp and corn ceviche.

Sometimes, I will go on a bender of good health and stuff delicious fillings into leaves of lettuce (Romaine and Boston Leaf being my favs) instead of chips. Other times, I just want to scoop up delicious fillings into crisp, salty tortilla chips. I fall completely into the salty camp and would trade you cookies, cakes, and brownies for chips, nuts, and cheese any day of the week.

In the interest of full disclosure, this recipe would be at its best during summer when you could score fresh corn from the farmers market and roast it on the grill but it is also possible to make this dip year-round using frozen fire-roasted corn.

Shrimp and Corn Ceviche

You can make this shrimp and corn ceviche several hours or a day ahead of when you plan to serve it. This makes it an ideal dish for parties or potlucks.

I used an orange as the citrus in the recipe but you could also use grapefruit if you preferred. Blood oranges would also make a dramatic and visually appealing substitution in this shrimp and corn ceviche recipe.

In addition to serving shrimp and corn ceviche as a dip or filling in a lettuce cup, you could also top the ceviche onto a bed of greens for a light lunch. I would serve the shrimp and corn ceviche with a crisp white wine like a Sauvignon Blanc or a summer beer such as a Hefeweizen.

As the weather warms up, what are your favorite recipes, drinks, and music to listen to while you enjoy the sun-filled days? Drop a comment below and let’s get this warm-weather party started!

How to Make Shrimp and Corn Ceviche

Shrimp and Corn Ceviche

Road Trip Playlist

Road Trip Playlist

I am over the moon excited to introduce you to Hello Fun Seekers Contributor Courtney Droz. You are in for a real treat if you love music. Court puts together the most amazing playlists and she has one for you today. Hopefully, this will be the first of many playlists that Courtney will share with us. Court, take it away!

CourtZionNP

Making playlists on Spotify is something I love to do. I have playlists for different seasons, moods, and activities. I’ll spotlight some of them here on Hello Fun Seekers playlist series. I hope you enjoy!

The Spotify playlist I’m spotlighting today may be my absolute favorite ever. I made it specifically for road trips; it’s called, “Miles From Nowhere.”

What is better than a good road trip? I love the feeling of packing up the car, leaving your job and responsibilities behind you for a little while, rolling down the windows and hitting the open road! I especially love road trips through the desert, places like Moab, or Arches National Park in southern Utah. What are your favorite road trips?

This playlist winds its way from New York to California. Starting out with songs set in New York like “I and Love and You” by the Avett Brothers, we then spend some time on tunes about Ohio Like The Low Anthem’s “To Ohio” (an aside: there are so many songs about Ohio. It’s kind of weird. Why Ohio?).

Spotify Playlist Road Trip

Photo by Jeremiah Roth

Next we take the scenic route through the south with some Old Crow Medicine Show, and Johnny Cash, back up to the Midwest with songs from The New Basement Tapes, and Bruce Springsteen, and then we finally head through Utah, Idaho, and Nevada with songs like Damien Jurado’s “So on, Nevada.”

Finally, we make it to California with songs by Dawes, Joe Purdy, and John Hiatt. (There are almost as many songs out there about California as Ohio) I also sprinkled in songs about travelling like Laura Marling’s “Rambling Man” and of course Cat Stevens’ “Miles From Nowhere” where the playlist title comes from.

Miles from Nowhere

This playlist is nice and long: 3 hours and 15 minutes, so it will keep you entertained through a good part of your long trip. Turn it up good and loud and sing along. Let me know what songs you love, what songs you would add, and where your travels take you!

 

Ten Essentials for a Perfect Pool Day

10 Essentials for a Perfect Pool Day

Hello Fun Seekers! I am so excited to be heading down to Las Vegas on Thursday for a long weekend of rest and relaxation.  The weather forecast calls for clear, sunny skies with a high of 80 degrees. EIGHTY DEGREES! Can you say pool day?  I cannot wait to get down there.

While the others are in the casino gambling, I plan to spend the day at the pool. I am not talking about getting to the pool early, sticking a towel on lounge chair kind of pool day though. Instead, I plan to rent a daybed which is a little splurge that I love to treat myself to on occasion. #treatyoself

There are a few essentials that I always bring for a pool day retreat. Here is what will be in my pool bag to ensure a day of fun.

10 essentials for a perfect pool day-1
Pool Bag Essentials

A total must-have is my Kindle Paperwhite (fully charged!) loaded with two new books:

(Small tangent) Do you need ideas for what to read next? I just heard about this new service from the NY Times called Match Book. It is a literary advice column where readers can email a description of books they love and books they did not like.

“The weekly column will connect readers with book suggestions based on their questions, their tastes, their literary needs and desires.”

Smartphone with external battery with:

  • Podcasts – If you haven’t gotten on the podcast bandwagon yet, what are you waiting for? If you have an iPhone there is literally an app that is already on your phone called Podcast. Open it and search for one of these podcasts below and your commutes and walks will never be the same.
    • Modern Love 
    • The Happier Podcast
    • S-Town – Seriously! I listened to this series already but it is so good. If you have not started listening yet, do yourself a favor and download the first episode today.
  • Music – I have to have some tunes because I don’t trust hotel pools to play decent music and I fear getting stuck with techo music all day. Not relaxing!
  • Audiobook
    • The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane – Lisa See’s new novel. Set in the remote mountains of China and the Akha people. See’s books always transport me to another world and introduce me to a culture I know nothing about.
Other Essentials

Snacks – Almonds, dried cranberries, dried apricots, with coconut is my favorite.

Sunglasses, cover up, and sun hat – You don’t want to get sun-burned. Plus, your older self will thank your younger self for these skin preservation measures.

Finally, I stash a water bottle, sunscreen, and headphones in my bag and then I am ready to go!

What am I forgetting? What are the essential items in your bag for a perfect pool day?

 

 

 

 

 

Mediterranean Spring Mix Salad

Mediterranean Spring Mix Salad

Is anything more exhilarating than watching the Earth come back to life in the spring? No matter how challenging things are in the rest of the world, a walk around the block can have me whistling a tune in no time. Daffodils and tulips are popping up from the ground, forsythia bushes burst out their bright yellow flowers, and one of my favorite ingredients, spring mix salad greens, make an appearance in my garden. One of my favorite ways to serve spring mix salad is to combine it with Mediterranean flavors of roasted red peppers, olives, pine nuts, and feta.

Spring Mix Salad

Spring Mix Salad is typically a combination the following lettuce types: romaine, oak, leaf, butter, chard, spinach, and arugula. The greens are small and tender. They are also quite delicate so you will want to handle and dress them with care. I like to make a light vinaigrette and sparingly drizzle it over the greens.  A spring mix salad is not the salad to pour a glumpy ranch-style dressing over. You will want a hearty romaine or iceberg to stand up to the weight of those types of dressings.

Mediterranean Spring Mix Salad

Put the ingredients for the simple Mediterranean-inspired vinaigrette into a Mason jar and shake vigorously to combine. You can make the dressing ahead of time and then shake it up again just before serving.

You can either use jarred roasted red peppers for this recipe or roast your own. If I am not in a mad rush I usually roast them myself over one of my gas burners. You can also roast the red pepper under the broiler or on your BBQ. The key is to let the skin of the red pepper get nice and charred. Then, you place the pepper in a brown paper bag or in a bowl with a cover to steam for 10 minutes. The skin will peel right off.

The salad comes together quickly and makes a great accompaniment for dinner or I love to take it to work for lunch. Just tote your dressing along separately and pour on just before serving. The spring mix salad greens will wilt rather quickly after being dressing so plan accordingly.

Mediterranean Spring Mix Salad

How to Make Mediterranean Spring Mix Salad

Mediterranean Spring Mix Salad

Beet Sliders with Green Goddess Dressing

Beet Sliders with Green Goddess Dressing

Aren’t sliders adorable? I think most things in miniature form are cuter than their full size counterparts. Think babies, puppies, kitties, and burgers. However, why should meat-eaters have all the slider fun? They shouldn’t, right?

Now that we are in agreement on that, let’s talk about these Beet Sliders with Green Goddess Dressing. Boiling the beets along with a variety of aromatics imparts great flavor into the beets. The Green Goddess Dressing is creamy, herby, and delicious, which complements the earthiness of the beets. Red onions offer crunch and bite to the slider. The combination is top notch.

Beet Sliders with Green Goddess Dressing

I estimate that approximately 99% of slider recipes that I come across feature some sort of meat filling. You know that I am always up for a challenge. Therefore, I want to create delicious options for vegetarian sliders. These Beet Sliders are not only gorgeous; they are perfect to eat while drinking a glass of wine or a beer and listening to Budos Band.

I would plan to serve two to three sliders per person for a perfect small plate offering. I adore small plates. Small plates always feel like a party. I would much rather have a few small plates than one entrée any day. Honestly, every day that would be my preference. Small plates are perfect for the chronically indecisive, possibly commitment challenged.

Beet Sliders with Green Goddess Dressing

I digress. Let’s move on the these sliders. The key to any burger is getting the bun and burger to match up in size. Be sure that your beets are as big in the widest part as the bun they will eventually sit on. Once the beets are cooked and peeled, you will want to slice them into about one-inch rounds.

While the beets cook, whip up the ingredients for the Green Goddess dressing and thinly slice part of a red onion. I always recommend wearing latex or rubber gloves when working with beets. Beets stain everything they encounter so exercise care when preparing them.

If you are beet lover, you may want to check out these other recipes:

Beet Sliders with Green Goddess Dressing

 

Lemon Roasted Potatoes

Lemon Roasted Potatoes

Perhaps it is my Irish roots or maybe it is just because potatoes are damn delicious, but either way, I love potatoes. And, as long as I have potatoes in the house, I know I can put a satisfying meal on the table in no time. You do not need me to enumerate all the amazing things that you can do with potatoes. Okay, I will anyway. I love them roasted, mashed, baked, fried, shredded, spiralized, scalloped, or hasselbacked.

As you can see in my previous posts for Roasted Carrot Hummus and Roasted Cauliflower with Tahini Sauce and Pomegranate Seeds, roasted vegetables are my absolute favorite. The roasting process brings out incredible flavor and texture in vegetables and these lemon roasted potatoes are delightful.

Lemon Roasted Potatoes

The potatoes in this Lemon Roasted Potatoes recipe get crispy and golden brown on the outside and stay tender on the inside. The flavor of the garlic and lemon mellows in the roasting process and actually develop a sweetness. I have added the chipotle chili powder and cayenne to balance the sweet with a little bit of heat. The rosemary adds an earthy fresh flavor. But, if rosemary isn’t your thing, feel free to swap it out with some parsley but don’t add it until the end of the cooking time.

Lemon Roasted Potatoes are a lovely side dish to accompany any number of protein-filled main dishes. They would be a delicious side to salmon or chicken. On the other hand, if you are looking for a meatless menu idea, I think the potatoes would be delicious served alongside a Middle Eastern mezze platter of cut up veggies, pita wedges, hummus, and olives.

Alternatively, you could toss some asparagus spears in the oven while the potatoes are cooking. I would add them to the oven when you have about 20 minutes of cooking time left on the potatoes. Then, poach or fry an egg and serve on top of the potatoes. So good, right?

How to Make Lemon Roasted Potatoes

Lemon Roasted Potatoes

Deep Run Roots: Cookbook Review

Deep Run Roots

Fans of the PBS series, A Chef’s Life, will recall Vivian Howard’s story about being a chef in New York City whose parents offered to finance a restaurant if she opened it in their hometown in Eastern North Carolina. So, Vivian and her husband Ben packed up their New York life and moved back to Vivian’s hometown, Deep Run, which Vivian swore she would never return to when she left home.

Watching the show, I fell in love with Vivian’s style of cooking and the relationships that she built with local farmers and experts in southern methods of cooking (holla to Miss Lillie). She focuses on seasonal, local-sourced ingredients at their restaurant, The Chef and the Farmer.

Deep Run Roots

The Cookbook

That commitment is also evident in her cookbook, which is a little meta as she was working on the cookbook in some episodes of the TV show. Vivian’s writing style is true to her personality: funny, warm, and a little bit type A. I love how she laughs loud and often. In both her show and cookbook, her skill as a storyteller and historian of southern food draws me in.

Deep Run Roots is voluminous, coming in at over 550 pages. Each chapter features an ingredient including stories about how that ingredient plays a part in southern cooking, educational tidbits, and many recipes highlighting that ingredient. Vivian’s instructions for each recipe are clearly written and easy to understand. A beautiful photograph of the finished dish accompanies each recipe.

Deep Run Roots

Oysters

I was thrilled when I saw that Deep Run Roots had a chapter on oysters. I love oysters; I mean LOVE them, crazily so. I crave their briny goodness. One episode of A Chef’s Life featured oysters and we were entranced by the party Vivian and her family and friends held in their outdoor pavilion. In this episode, they steamed oysters on a piece of corrugated tin over a fire. I was truly envious. My sweetie and I even scrounged up a piece of corrugated tin with the intention of our own oyster party one day. That day has not come yet but it is good to have goals, right?

While we have not had a backyard bonfire oyster party yet, we have had many oyster parties with our dear friends. We lovingly refer to these get-togethers as Oysterfest. We order several dozen oysters from our local fish shop and get together and the girls drink wine and the boys drink beer and we all devour those oysters like it is our job.

I had picked up a copy of Deep Run Roots just before our most recent Oysterfest (Oysterfest 7 for those of you who are counting) so you know I had to try out a few of the recipes from the cookbook that night.

Deep Run Roots mignonette

Slurping down raw oysters on the half shell almost always includes some type of vinegar-based mignonette sauce. One the recipes in Deep Run Roots was a mignonette sauce which featured a sliver of orange segment and rice vinegar instead of the typical red wine vinegar. I made a batch of this mignonette but subbed out the orange with a blood orange, which was in season. The vibrant red color of the blood orange was spectacular visually, don’t you think?

Based on the instructions in Deep Run Roots, we also steamed a dozen of the oysters that we served on saltine crackers with a squeeze of lemon and a splash of Tabasco. The texture of the oyster changes a bit when steamed and becomes supple and almost creamy. Recommended!

We also tried Vivian’s recipes for Roasted Oysters with Brown Butter Hot Sauce and Bacon. These were delicious but sadly, we made these toward the end of the evening and I wasn’t as clear minded as I was earlier that night.. Thus, there are no photos of the roasted oysters but take my word for it, if you are an oyster lover, you will want to try this recipe.

Sweet corn

The chapter has me drumming my fingers while flipping through the calendar awaiting summer corn. I have bookmarked a few of Vivian’s sweet corn recipes to try when the farm stands start popping up on corners and the farmers markets are in full swing. Two recipes that I am excited to try are Cilantro-Lime Sweet Corn and Raw Corn and Cantaloupe Salad with Red Onion and Roasted Poblano.

The Cilantro-Lime Sweet Corn involves making a compound butter flavored with lime juice, zest, cilantro, and cayenne. Yum, right? Then, you cook the corn kernels in a sauté pan and finish with the compound butter.

The Raw Corn and Cantaloupe Salad with Red Onion and Roasted Poblano sounds so summery but I found it to be such an unusal combination of ingredients. I can see how well the sweet corn and cantaloupe would pair with their sweet juicy flavors. I am intrigued by the bite of red onion and the smokiness of the roasted poblano combined with the sweet ingredients. We will just have to wait until summer to see how these ingredients come together.

Hurry up summer!

 

 

 

 

Parmesan Prosciutto Twists

Parmesan Prosciutto Twists

I always have a box or two of puff pastry in my freezer. It is a staple because you can use it to make delicious sweet or savory foods. I am especially fond of using puff pastry for savory snacks to accompany drinks when friends come over. Wouldn’t these Parmesan Prosciutto Twists be delicious with a glass of wine?

Parmesan Prosciutto TwistsI would also love to serve them with soup. You could dip the Parmesan Prosciutto twists in the soup. Yum! It might even be better than dipping a grilled cheese sandwich in tomato soup. However, last weekend I made these Parmesan Prosciutto twists for brunch and served them with sunny side up eggs. Twists and yolks for the win. Am I right? Wouldn’t they also be elegant served with soft-boiled eggs in those adorable decorative egg cups?

Parmesan Prosciutto TwistsFor those of you do not eat meat, you can simply omit the Prosciutto from this recipe to make a delicious vegetarian twist.

Puff pastry is easy to work with so try it if you have not worked with it before. You will find it in the freezer section of your grocery store. Then, store it in the freezer until needed. I typically remove it from the freezer and put it in the fridge to thaw the night before I plan to use it.

Parmesan Prosciutto Twists

If you like cooking with puff pastry, you may want to check out this recipe for Winter Squash & Havarti Puffs.

Parmesan Prosciutto Twists

Southwestern Potato Salad

Southwestern Potato Salad

Once the sunlight grows long in the evenings after Daylight Savings Time, my brain automatically moves into summer mode. The sloth in me suddenly disappears and I want to do all the things outside.

One of those things that I must start doing immediately is cooking out of doors. I dust off the BBQ grill and start planning get-togethers with family and friends. BBQ time means potato salad time. However, this Southwestern Potato Salad recipe is not some ordinary potato salad, it is a kicked up version full of flavors you love from southwestern cuisine.

Southwestern Potato Salad

Bobby Flay’s recipe for Southwestern Potato Salad on the Food Network website was the inspiration for this recipe. Once again, I found the photo associated with the recipe on their website lacking. Admittedly, potato salad is not the most photogenic dish in the world but I challenged myself to improve the recipe and photo.

I added roasted chilies to the potato salad that I am surprised that Bobby had not included in his version. I also added hard-boiled eggs to garnish the top of the potato salad because my people love hard-boiled eggs. If your people do not love hard-boiled eggs, you can omit them.

Southwestern Potato SaladHere are few other recipes that I found on Food Network’s website that I had to make and photograph in order to pin it to Pinterest. You will understand why this important if you are a Pinterest user. If you are not an avid Pinterest user, but want to be (and you should) then hit me up. I will help you down the rabbit hole that is Pinterest. It is so fun, I promise!

If you ever see any Food Network recipes that have no pictures or worse yet, terrible pictures, drop me a note with the link. I am up for the challenge!

Southwestern Potato Salad

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