Strawberry-Peach Smoothie

When I did my three-day raw cleanse this summer (read about it here!), I seriously got into smoothies. I don’t have a juicer and certainly didn’t have $350 to spend on the one I want (I’ll save that for the wedding registry). Since I couldn’t prepare any kind of green juice, I decided smoothies were the next best thing and have continued enjoying them for breakfast or lunch (and tweaking my recipe) all summer.

You will notice that the recipe calls for frozen berries and peaches – I want to point out that I do not buy frozen fruit at the grocery store. You totally could, but I prefer farmer’s market produce.

To freeze the fruit, I wash and core (strawberries) or roughly chop (peaches) and lay them out on a baking sheet lined with saran wrap. I let them freeze in a single layer overnight, and them move them to a big ziplock. This keeps them from sticking together.

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Citrus Sangria

The first time I had Sangria was in Ecuador. It was one of the last days of my study abroad there, and our professor, Nancy, made a big batch to accompany our dinner of grilled chicken, veggies, potatoes, and grilled pineapple for dessert. We ate and drank on the beach, and after dinner, my friends and I hung out and ate the fruit from the bottom of the pitchers – hey, we were 19, in a foreign country, and excited to get tipsy!

Nancy, who is from Venezuela, told me how to make Sangria in these words: “Cut up whatever fruit you have into small pieces, and add wine!” There are endless sangria variations – white, red, citrus, berries, bubbles, a splash of liquer – you really can’t go wrong!

A couple weeks ago, my cousin Erin wrote asking for a Sangria recipe. Thankfully, I had started making Sangria at the Bistro and was in the final stages of perfecting my recipe. Not too sweet, lots of flavor, and of course, refreshing! A double recipe has been selling out at the Bistro, which in my eyes is the best compliment.

Cheers!

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German Pancakes

This past week was incredible! I took my first long solo drive (four hours to Sacramento) to stand beside my best friend as she got married on Saturday (I was the Maid of Honor!). The wedding took place at Rock-n-Water in Coloma, California, where Heidi and Kyle met in 2004. It was the most beautiful place for a wedding! The weather was perfect, Heidi looked beautiful, she and Kyle were so happy and adorable, Tim was able to come and he looked incredibly handsome, and I cried during my entire Maid of Honor speech. I LOVE weddings! Wow.

Unfortunately, upon returning home I came down with the worst fever I’ve had since I was a little kid. I was out of commission on Monday, but on Tuesday I managed to drag myself out of bed to throw these German Pancakes together (following which I crashed right back into bed). Also known as Dutch Babies, these are like a cross between a crepe, a popover, and a pancake. They puff up beautifully in the oven and are so much fun to cook! I loved them so much I made them again on Wednesday before work.

You can watch them bubble up in the oven, and they deflate slightly when you take them out.

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Fig, Brie, and Spinach Sandwiches

fig brie spinach close up

Do you ever feel fancy?  Patent leather Mary Janes when you’re three, tea parties in second grade, senior prom, dinner date in the big city…that kind of fancy.

Spinach is fancy because Popeye eats it, and he’s a cute sailor.  Brie is fancy because it’s creamy and rich.  Figs are fancy because they look like jewels when you slice them open (!!).  This little sandwich made me feel fancy, even as I ate it while driving the three kids I nanny for around in the minivan after soccer camp (I kid you not – I am a soccer mom in training!).

The sad thing about fancy Figs is that not many Americans have ever had fresh ones! This is funny, because Fig Newtons seem to be a beloved snack.  I have a secret: I had my first Fig Newton exactly one week ago.  For most people I know, the opposite is true – they’ve never, ever tried a fresh fig, but have been eating Fig Newtons their whole lives!

Give yourself a little dare this week. Visit your farmer’s market, or Trader Joe’s, and pick up some figs.  They are delicious alone, with cheese, quartered on salads, or drizzled with honey. If you’re feeling extra-brave, leave me a comment with your thoughts!  I dare you – let me know what makes you feel fancy.

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Strawberries and Dumplings

cup ful o'berries

So apparently, I might have a strawberry allergy.  This is a big maybe, but I recently broke out in an extremely itchy rash (I’ll spare you the details), and my dermatoligist asked me if I had been “overindulging” in strawberries.  I said “…Mayyybe…” instead of fully admitting to my fat-kid strawberry behavior.  I’ve bought/consumed about an entire flat’s worth since May.  I love strawberries, and you can not beat fresh summer ones, so yes…maybe I tend to overindulge.  Just a little.

Although I could eat strawberries right out of the carton for hours, sometimes they are fun to bake with, too.  Like in my Strawberry Rhubarb Scones.  And these dumplings, which were quite delicious. Lots of pictures in this post, so click through!

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Blackberry Shortbread Bars

blackberry bars

Some might say there’s nothing to do in my little town.  We have about 5,000 residents, and many of them are farmers (yep…real live cowboys).  Until a couple years ago, the tallest building in town – three whole stories – was the Templeton Feed and Grain.  (For all you urbanites, a feed and grain is a farm supply store where you buy hay, grain, and other things that livestock eat).  As far as I can tell, Templetonians come out mostly at major holidays, such as the High School’s Homecoming Parade (ha).

On Wednesday evenings in the summer, the park is the place to be.  Apparently late to the trend, my boyfriend and I recently discovered these summer events.  It turns out they’re actually a lot of fun…mostly because everyone brings food and wine and enjoys the beauty of our Central California town on a summer night, and you always see at least a handful of people you know.  Last week, Brian and I brought his parents with us, and wanting to impress them with my baking, I found this recipe, which is delicious but also makes a great picnic dessert.  Brian’s mom loved them, and so did my coworkers, to whom I brought the leftovers to the next day. Delish!

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Strawberry Rhubarb Scones

Strawberry Rhubarb SconesBefore my Grandpa Z passed away, he would make strawberry rhubarb jam every summer.  Some of my fondest summer memories involve lots of jelly spread between two slices of soft white bread.  I still have a jar hidden in the cupboard…I haven’t opened it, because I don’t want to let go of that one piece of summer that represents not only the memory of my Grandpa, but also his love of cooking and baking.  How long does jam last?  Maybe I can share it with my kids some day.  I bet the recipe is around, too….

Before today, I had never used rhubarb in my own cooking, and I wasn’t even sure how exactly it tastes – I just knew it was known for going really well with strawberries.  When I saw it at Avila Valley Barn yesterday, I knew I needed to try it out…and today scones answered all my questions.  Rhubarb is sweet, but with its own distinct flavor.  While baking in the scones, both the rhubarb and strawberry became very soft and delicious.

Scones remind me of England, clotted cream, and tea, but I rarely have them with any of these accompanyments.  I love them fresh out of the oven (duh), or heated up in the toaster the next day. They’re excellent plain or with butter…or with strawberry jam.  🙂

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