everyday food made simple

Lets be real here: no one is sadder about summer ending than I am. But as we welcome the cooler weather, the arrival of pumpkin spice lattes, apple season, delicious-smelling candles and soaps from Bath and Body Works, I feel like I should give summer the proper send-off by reflecting all the fun we had the past few months..

There was a lot of iced coffee involved…

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When I wasn’t working or baking/cooking and overdosing myself on caffeine, I was inseparable with my Kindle. I felt like was a nerd, and I was okay with it. I don’t think I’ve read so many books in so little time in my life. Here’s a glimpse of what I read this summer – out of all the ones I read, I think Dark Places and Labor Day were my favorite.

I read The Fault In Our Stars just to see what the fuss was about, and I thought it was just okay. I didn’t cry like a lot of people did… does that make me insensitive? I thought it was sad, but not sad enough to cry (books don’t make me cry much in general).

I’m currently reading The Book Thief and I’m liking it so far. I have Brain On Fire and Abducted next on my list, along with 43 other books on my Amazon wish list…

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I feel like there’s always a “theme” to my summers. Last year was the Summer of Homemade Drinks. This year was the Summer of Homemade Frozen Treats. Ice cream, custard, popsicles were my summer anthems.

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We also made s’mores. Lots and lots of s’mores. Especially peanut butter s’mores. Amazeballs, I tell ya (I’m a little ashamed I just actually typed that word).

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And grilled. A lot. Brian also bought a smoker, which he loved using.. and I loved eating everything that came off of it.

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We took a little road trip up to Brainerd one weekend for a biking trip (the Paul Bunyan Trail it totally worth checking out). It was a pretty successful trip, if you don’t count the fact that I ended up wrecking my bike by falling on it. I didn’t fall while riding on my bike… I literally fell onto my bike while walking it back to the hotel. My knees were cut up and bruised in the shape of the spokes and my wheel was totally bent from my entire body landing on top of it. It was quite embarrassing, but I was more sad about breaking my bike and having to spend money to fix it.

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Nothing a little bit of good food, chocolate, and ice cream can’t fix though.

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And of course, you can’t forget the Minnesota State Fair that officially marks the end of summer.

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As much as I love digging out those fall boots and hoodies from the closet, a little piece of me cried inside when I had to wear a long sleeve shirt underneath my scrubs the other day.. and I already caved and bought my first pumpkin drink of the season (I suck at resisting peer pressure).

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© Simple Everyday Food. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use any of my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or kindly link back to this post for the recipe.

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Ever since I was little, I hated sharing food. This doesn’t mean I don’t like sharing food that I make (it’s quite the opposite, actually); I just simply hated sharing whatever food I had on my plate. If it’s on my plate, more often than not I would really prefer not to share it.

Let me give you an example: Back in elementary school, whenever my dad would take us to McDonald’s as a rare treat, he would always finish his meal first and patient watch us eat. Occasionally he would reach across the table and steal a few fries off my tray. Me being the selfish potato-loving child as I was, would always whine and tell him that it was mine and he wasn’t allowed to eat my fries. My poor father, who is always so accommodating and patient with us, would always just laugh and apologize, despite the fact he just spent his hard-earned money to take us out for a treat.

I can always laugh about it and refer back to a particular FRIENDS episode, which coincidentally also involved french fries.

I knew Joey had always been my favorite for a reason……

One good thing about these meringue cookies is that it makes so many that you won’t feel bad about sharing them!

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After failing three miserable times trying to make meringue cookies in the past, I have finally picked up a few tips and tricks:

  1. Don’t cut corners. You may think using just egg whites is a waste of egg yolks, and decide to buy some “egg whites in a carton” at the store – DON’T. This may or may not have happened during one of my failed attempts…
  2. Be patient. Let the egg whites thoroughly come to room temperature. Find something to distract yourself, whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, cleaning, running errands, or enjoying the nice weather outside.
  3. Warm your mixing bowl and whisk right before you start beating the egg whites. I actually turned on our fireplace and stuck the mixing bowl right in front of it until it was warm to the touch – it worked really well!
  4. If you’re adding things to your meringue batter (in this case, mini chocolate chips), make sure the mix-ins are small enough to go through your decorative piping tips. I initially had the perfect idea of using the star tip for these to make them into cute little pretty shapes, but realized that the chocolate chips were clogging the tips and had to dump all my batter out, switch tips on my piping bag, and then start all over..

Bake these babies low and slow in the oven. Once the cooking time is up, turn the oven off and let the meringue cookies sit in the oven to cool overnight. They’ll turn nice and melt-in-your-mouth-crispy the next morning. Another thing I learned was to store these in a cool, dry place – if the temperature is too warm, they actually start to get a little sticky.

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So go make a batch of these! They’re simple to make, but they look (and sound) fancy, and your friends will think you’re amazing for making these yummy delicate treats. And there will be more than plenty to go around for everyone :)

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mint chocolate chip meringue cookies
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Ingredients
  1. 2 egg whites, at room temperature
  2. 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  3. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  4. 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  5. 1/8 teaspoon mint extract
  6. ~7 drops of green food coloring (more or less depending on how green you want your meringues to be)
  7. 1/3 cups mini chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Let egg whites come to room temperature and make sure your mixing bowl and whisk are just slightly warmer than room temperature (I placed mine in front of the fireplace for a few minutes).
  2. Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  3. Using an electric mixing bowl with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt on high speed until soft peaks form*.
  4. Add in the sugar, about one tablespoon at a time, beating continuously until stiff peaks form**.
  5. Beat in the mint extract and green food coloring. Gently fold in the chocolate chips.
  6. Transfer the meringue to a pastry bag with a large round open tip. Pipe meringues about 1" apart and bake for 60 minutes. Turn off the oven and let the meringues stand in the closed oven overnight. Store in an airtight container in a cool dry place.
Notes
  1. *Soft peaks = tips curl when you lift the whisk straight up
  2. **Stiff peaks = tips stand straight up when you lift the whisk straight up
Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens
SIMPLE EVERYDAY FOOD http://www.simpleeverydayfood.com/
Recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

© Simple Everyday Food. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use any of my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or kindly link back to this post for the recipe.

I am determined to make as many lemon-flavored recipes as I can before the summer ends. In case you missed it, here are some of the “summery” recipes I have made within the past 3 months:

overnight blueberry sweet rolls with lemon glaze

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lemon poppy seed loaf cake

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lemon gooey bars

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And now I present to you: lemon poppy seed muffins!

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My breakfast eating habits seem to go in phases. I tend to eat a lot of the similar things for breakfast weeks in a row, then I’ll get sick of it, move on to something else, and eat that for a few weeks until I get sick of that and find something else to obsess over. A few weeks ago, I was eating breakfast burritos every morning like they were going out of style, then it was smoothies.

Lately, it’s been muffins. Specifically, homemade muffins.

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These muffins are not only delicious and require no fancy electric mixer, but they also freeze very well, meaning that you can make them in huge batches, freeze them, and reheat them in the mornings when you’re rushing out the door. What I have been doing is taking a few out to thaw out in the fridge overnight, then heating them up in the microwave the next morning.

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Reheating them doesn’t take away any of the textures of flavors! The insides remain moist while the muffin tops remain crunchy thanks to the sparkling sugar topping (the best part of a muffin!). Every bite is is citrusy and lemony, while the earthy poppy seeds pop in your mouth. The different textures create a delicate balance, like a well-rehearsed dance in your mouth… are you salivating yet?

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One thing to note before making these is to make sure everything is at room temperature. Make sure your melted butter is not scorching hot and has cooled down prior to adding the eggs – unless you’re a fan of scrambled eggs in your lemon poppy seed muffins…. the batter will also be pretty thick, so roll up your sleeve and use those muscles! BUT – do not overmix! Overmixing will cause the muffins to be dense and dry and not as tasty.

Fill the muffin tins about 3/4 full and generously sprinkle the tops with some sparkling sugar. If you do decide to freeze them, throw them in the microwave and heat until the insides are completely heated through prior to serving.

lemon poppy seed muffins
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Ingredients
  1. 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  2. Zest and juice of 1 lemon, separated
  3. 2 cups all-purpose flour
  4. 2 teaspoons baking powder
  5. 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  6. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  7. 3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  8. 2 eggs, at room temperature
  9. 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  10. 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  11. 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
  12. sparkling sugar, optional
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a muffin pan with liners and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, rub the sugar and lemon zest together with your fingertips until fragrant (or until the sugar granules are moist). Add in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix until combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, thoroughly whisk the Greek yogurt, eggs, vanilla, lemon juice, and melted butter together. Pour the liquid mixture into the flour mixture and stir just until combined. DO NOT OVERMIX (the batter will be thick). Gently stir in the poppy seeds. Divide the batter evenly into the muffin cups, filling each about 3/4 full. Sprinkle tops with sparkling sugar, if desired.
  4. Bake for 16-18 minutes until the tops are just starting to brown, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before removing them onto a wired cooling rack to cool completely.
  5. Muffins can be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days at room temperature, or frozen to be eaten at a later date.
  6. Yield ~15 muffins
Notes
  1. If reheating the frozen muffins, each microwave is different so the time it takes to reheat may differ.
Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod
SIMPLE EVERYDAY FOOD http://www.simpleeverydayfood.com/
Recipe adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

© Simple Everyday Food. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use any of my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or kindly link back to this post for the recipe.

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I’m not sure when my addiction to coffee began. Just a few years ago, coffee was a treat to myself every month. Now the smell of coffee invigorates my soul and awakens my foggy brain every morning at 4:30. And somewhere along the way, it became a necessity to start my day.

I became one of those “don’t talk to me until I’ve had my coffee” kind of people.

I used to laugh at Brian when he would complain about getting caffeine headaches, but it wasn’t until I got my first caffeine headache did I realize it was “a real thing”, and oh man I will never think of “having a caffeine headache” as a joke anymore. It’s serious business, folks.

Prior to my coffee addiction, chai tea lattes used to be my drink of choice when I would visit coffee shops. The combination of the tea, the spices and the creaminess of it was enough to keep me awake and going for the rest of the day. Now that my caffeine tolerance has gone up significantly ever since I entered the “real world”, a chai tea latte is only enough for an afternoon pick-me-up.

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So today I’ve made you the perfect afternoon pick-me-up for a hot day – chai tea latte popsicles! Only two ingredients needed and there’s really not a whole lot of science involved to make these… and they’re so fun to eat on a hot summer afternoon! I’ve been going to the freezer and having one of these every day after work. Whether or not the small amount of caffeine in it actually does anything to me, I don’t know; but at least my mind thinks I’m feeding it caffeine to last me a few more hours before bedtime.

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chai latte popsicles
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup chai tea concentrate (I used the Tazo brand)
  2. 1 cup skim milk
Instructions
  1. In a medium-sized bowl (preferably with a pour spout), combine the chai tea concentrate and the milk.
  2. Pour mixture into popsicle molds, leaving about a 1/4-1/2" space from the top to give the popsicles room to expand when frozen.
  3. Freeze for an hour, then insert popsicle sticks. Freeze until frozen.
  4. Makes 10 popsicles
Notes
  1. To remove the popsicles from the molds, run warm water over the outside of the molds for ~30 seconds. Pull the popsicles straight up out of the molds - don't try to wiggle them out. Store in a separate container in the freezer.
SIMPLE EVERYDAY FOOD http://www.simpleeverydayfood.com/
© Simple Everyday Food. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use any of my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or kindly link back to this post for the recipe.

Is anyone else sad that it’s already mid-August and summer is coming to an end? Where did my summer go? I made a whole list of summer to-dos at the beginning of the summer, and there are so many things I haven’t got to cross off the list yet!

But let’s try to be positive here – even though summer is ending, it doesn’t mean that it’s going to be 20 degrees and snowing the next day (but you just never know in Minnesota). There’s always the Minnesota State Fair, all things pumpkin and apples and cinnamon, the beautiful fall foliage, and plenty of crisp fall days ahead of us!

But as long as it’s 80 and sunny, I will be clinging on to every last day of summer. This includes the making of all things that scream summer that are bursting in summer flavors! Like this lemon gooey bar.

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This lemon gooey bar tastes exactly what it sounds like – lemony and gooey. If I could’ve called it “The Amazingly Delicious Soft and Gooey Melt-In-Your-Mouth Lemon Bars”, I totally would’ve. Soft lemon bars sprinkled with plenty of white chocolate chips… every bite is melt-in-your-mouth amazing! I brought some to work to share with some lemon-loving coworkers and I’m pretty sure the pan was gone within the hour. Word sure travels fast around the hospital when there are sweets involved!

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These bars are made in a similar manner to the peppermint gooey bars I made last winter. If you haven’t tried those yet, I do highly recommend you do so sometime!

So you’re going to make the dough first, pressing half of it into the bottom of the pan. Then do a little bit of drizzling of some sweetened condensed milk and a bit of sprinkling of some white chocolate chips. Tear the rest of the dough into little pieces, pressing them on top. Don’t worry if the pieces don’t cover the whole pan completely – they will expand and stretch out once you put them in the oven.

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The entire process is super straightforward and simple, but you know what the most difficult thing about making these bars is? The waiting. I hate waiting, but believe me when I tell you these taste way better when you actually wait patiently for them to cool completely. I highly recommend running a few errands and getting out of the house while they cool so you’re not tempted to check on these bars every 3 minutes (not that I’m speaking from personal experience or anything… ahem).

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lemon gooey bars
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Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  2. 1 box (16.25 oz) lemon cake mix (I used Duncan Hines)
  3. 1 egg, at room temperature
  4. 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
  5. 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9x9" baking pan with aluminum foil and spray generously with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Using an electric mixer, stir butter over medium speed until fluffy. Mix in the cake mix and egg. Beat until texture resembles cookie dough.
  3. Place about half of the dough in the bottom of the pan, press to form the crust, making sure all corners and sides are covered with dough. Sprinkle the white chocolate chips evenly over the dough and drizzle with the sweetened condensed milk. Drop balls of remaining dough evenly over the top. Press lightly. Don't worry if the entire surface isn't covered by the dough balls - the dough will expand once cooked in the oven.
  4. Bake for 28-32 minutes, or until the tops are slightly browned. Cool completely before cutting into squares. Once completely cooled, bars can be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Adapted from Crazy for Crust
Adapted from Crazy for Crust
SIMPLE EVERYDAY FOOD http://www.simpleeverydayfood.com/
Recipe adapted from Crazy for Crust

© Simple Everyday Food. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use any of my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or kindly link back to this post for the recipe.