vacation time! catch y’all soon!

Hey y’all! Just a quick note that the hubs and I are jet-setting {not really..more like car driving} off on a week-long vacation! We’ve got a lot of fun activities planned, including but not limited to: 

beachin’

beer tastin’ 

food eatin’

campin’

and you can bet that upon our return, I’ll be posting all about it! In the meantime, feel free to poke are the archives for some inspiration, and of course, check out my Instagram! I’ll be sharing from there like you won’t believe : ) 

Have a wonderful week! 

-Alicia. x o x o

oatmeal raisin waffles

As I’ve gotten older {and more adept} in my kitchen, I’ve come to the realization that if I can make it from scratch, I want to do just that. There’s something so satisfying about knowing every exact ingredient, and every measurement, that goes into the food that I prepare for myself and for the hubs. Sure, I’ll take a little help when the timing doesn’t work out {or if we are just insanely busy!} but I find it so refreshing to spend time in my teeny kitchen measuring ingredients, doing meal prep, and laying out dishes.

Today’s recipe is no different. As far back as I can remember, I’ve always loved waffles. As kids, my sisters and I would get so excited when we got to enjoy the frozen waffles from the grocery store {that didn’t happen to often, as my mom would frequently make homemade ones!}; there was something so fun about watching them jump out from the toaster, perfectly round and golden…just begging to be slathered with butter and syrup. While my taste buds have matured a bit since those days, my love and appreciation for said breakfast treat still remains.

I’ve been making waffles in large batches lately; they come together quickly, require minimal work, and freeze beautifully for easy morning meals during the work week. My go-to recipe has definitely stood the test of time, but recently, I decided I wanted to shake things up. Not wanting to go the safe route, I did some research and settled on testing my culinary skills with a new kind – one that used oat flour as the base! I’m such a huge fan of oatmeal raisin ANYTHING, I knew that this would be an ideal flavor combination to try out. And there’s no denying it; these waffles are on.point. They are so fluffy on the inside, and chock full of raisins…one bite and you’ll be in heaven. The edges get perfectly crisp, similar to the edges of an oatmeal raisin cookie right out of the oven{!!!!}. And as as far as toppings go? Plain, buttered, a scoop of ice cream {yes, I went there}, smeared with jam – there’s no wrong way to do it. Your favorite way is the correct way : )

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Oatmeal Raisin Waffles {recipe adapted from Girl Makes Food}

A fun twist on traditional waffles, this {easily adaptable} gluten-free version is sure to please even the pickiest of eaters! The oat flour is perfectly nutty and sweet, and when paired with the overload of raisins that we stir in, is reminiscent of an oatmeal cookie {a healthy one, to boot!}. These freeze beautifully, too; I definitely recommend making large batches because you’ll find yourself craving these for breakfast constantly! Makes 12-14 waffles. 

Ingredients:

3 cups oat flour*

2 Tbsp. baking powder {aluminum free}

pinch salt

4 large eggs

2 cups milk {I used a low-fat buttermilk in mine, but any milk of your choice is fine!}

4 Tbsp. pure maple syrup

1 cup golden raisins

*to make oat flour, simply add 3 cups of rolled oats into the body of your food processor and pulse until it resembles flour…- how easy is that!

To Prepare:

In a large mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients, whisking well to combine. Set aside.

In a smaller bowl, mix the eggs, milk, and maple syrup.

Gently fold the wet mixture into the dry mixture, adding in the raisins at the end. Let sit at room temperature for 5 minutes {this helps the batter to develop flavor and marry together as one}.

Using a 1/4 cup measure {I have this waffle maker, but feel free to use the correct amount for your machine!}, ladle in the batter and cook until done. Mine took about 4-6 minutes; usually when the waffle iron stops releasing steam, the waffles are done!

Serve immediately with desired toppings.

If freezing, allow waffles to cool completely on baking racks. Transfer to storage bags; waffles will keep at least one month when frozen. To serve, simply pop into the toaster and reheat until desired “crunch” is reached. 

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Enjoy!

lately: wedding season, part 1

This a big year for many of our closest friends! To date, we’ve been honored to attending 2 weddings already this “season” – and we still have more to come! I thought it would be fun to post some of the photos, sort of as a glimpse into these relationships we are so lucky to be part of : ) one of the weddings was local {yay, no travelling!} and the other was up north, which was drawn out into a family trip {see here!}. both were equally fun and amazing, and we look forward to celebrating these dear friends for many years to come! 

…and don’t worry, a recap for more of our wedding season celebrations will follow in the later months! x o x o 

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thirsty thursday: marinated cherries

Every spectacular drink deserves a spectacular garnish. There’s nothing more unfortunate than a handcrafted cocktail, only to be taken down a notch by a lackluster topper – be it a soggy piece of fruit, wilted herbs or, not tasty but just as ghastly, a paper umbrella {these are only OK if you’re sitting beach side in a festive, tropical resort…and that’s still iffy}.

So today, we’re taking the garnish game up a notch. We’re making marinated cherries, sure to enliven any cocktail you’ve ever imagined.

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After many times of unsuccessfully perusing the grocery store and specialty food stores here in our area, the hubs and I got tired of not finding anything that met our needs. Sure, you could plop a maraschino cherry into a drink that calls for it, but why settle when you can do better? Those cherries are meant for desserts; syrupy sweet and not bringing much to the drink itself. So we got to work, scouring recipes for ideas to make our own cocktail cherries at home.

And boy, did we hit the mark on this one! Never before have I had a cocktail cherry like this; we’ve been to some pretty swanky bourbon bars, and nothing tops these ones. It doesn’t hurt that cherries are in season, either! We used gorgeous, dark Rainier cherries for this recipe, but any one of your preference will do. The fruit soaks up the marinade beautifully – each cherry has sensational notes of bright orange, oaky bourbon and subtle vanilla.

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You’ll find yourself pining for the cherries to be done {darn that 3-day wait period!} as soon as you seal them up. They’re that good, I promise. From an Old Fashioned to a Manhattan, a fancy Martini, or just with neat bourbon, you’ll be happy you have these on hand.

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Bourbon Marinated Cherries {recipe adapted from Tasting Table}

Maraschino cherries have met their match; dare I say, they’ve been far surpassed! These marinated cherries are the epitome of awesome – oaky bourbon notes, sweet hints of orange and a taste that will blow your mind. Get creative when you make these, as they’re equally wonderful in a drink as they are on top of a grown-up ice cream sundae. 

Ingredients:

1 cup bourbon

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

1 {1″ strip} orange peel

1-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract {we used my homemade version for an extra bourbon kick!}

1/2 lb. cherries, pitted and stems removed*

*the hubs came up with a great trick to remove the pits! – simply use a nonflexible drinking straw to force the pit out; starting at the top of the fruit, gently push down until the pit is released through the bottom. Super easy, efficient, minimal clean up…and you didn’t have to buy a cherry pitter 

To Prepare:

Combine the bourbon, sugar, orange juice and orange peel in a small saucepan. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer, whisking constantly, until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the vanilla extract.

Combine the bourbon mixture and the cherries in a 15-ounce jar and seal tightly. Allow the contents to cool to room temperature before transferring to the refrigerator. Chill for at least three days before using.

Cherries will keep up to one month.

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Cheers!

Fruit & Yogurt Popsicles

The hubs and I are preparing for a whirlwind of trips over the next couple weeks. Typical summer, I say. Lots of fun but…that means it’s time to clear out the fridge. We’ve been going through leftovers like you wouldn’t believe; frozen meals I prepared who knows how long ago, frozen produce {and fresh, of course – because I’m a crazy lady and buy it in droves every.single.week}, pantry items that are probably on their last leg…and then there was this yogurt. A large, unopened container of 2% Fage Greek yogurt. It had somehow ended up there, and thankfully I noticed it before it turned because if there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s wasting food! I know many of you agree with me on this : ) 

Standing there, with the door open and wasting precious energy, I began to contemplate what to do with it. I hardly ever buy the large containers, simply because we don’t go through them fast enough. Individual sizes are perfect for lunches, breakfast smoothies, or packing for a quick weekend hike. I knew I had to utilize it soon or it would meet the fate that I so hate. So when the thought of making a frozen dessert popped in my mind, I knew I had a winner. I didn’t have to worry about it going bad while we were gone, and BONUS! – fresh, delicious, healthy popsicles would be awaiting our return. Everyone wins!

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This recipe is extremely flexible to however you want it to be – I’ve simply outlined my method of preparation. Feel free to use whatever type of yogurt you prefer; the same goes for the fruit. I used a mixture of fresh and frozen, but anything will do. Let your imagination run wild! Your mouth will thank you on a particularly hot summer day, when cooling off needs to happen ASAP.

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Fruit & Yogurt Popsicles 

Perfect for those boiling hot summer nights, these frozen treats are sure to cool off even those whose temperature runs the hottest! Made with creamy Greek yogurt and exploding with fresh fruit, you won’t feel guilty about indulging in these any time. 

Ingredients:

2 cups plain Greek yogurt {I prefer 2% when making desserts/sweeter things}

1 bag {10 ounces} frozen fruit of your choice *but make sure that it’s thawed before blending*

1 additional cup of fresh fruit {I opted for blueberries}

up to 1/4 cup pure maple syrup, or to taste, for sweetening the mixture

up to 1/4 cup milk of choice, to thin out the mixture for pouring purposes

To Prepare:

Place all of the ingredients, expect for the milk and maple syrup, into the bowl of a large food processor. Pulse a few times to mix up. Taste and adjust the level of sweetness with the maple syrup.

Pulse again until the mixture is creamy and smooth. Slowly add in the milk until the texture reaches an easily pourable consistency.

Using a large Pyrex container {or any pitcher with a pouring mouth}, carefully fill up your popsicle molds until full. I have these ones and I LOVE them! Seal tightly and freeze overnight.

To serve, simply run the container until warm water for a few seconds. This will help loosen the popsicle from the container, making pulling out a breeze.

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Enjoy!

lately: 4th of July & Family Fun

Our previous 4th of July celebrations have been with my husband’s side of the family {remember this trip, and this trip?}, and this year proved no different. A wedding up in NY created the perfect “excuse” for a family beach trip, and we had a wonderful time together – enjoying the surf and sun, great conversations, and of course – delicious food! Here’s a peak into our trip : ) 

Alicia xo

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thirsty thursday: minty orange gimlet

In case you couldn’t tell, we’ve been on a bit of a fruity cocktail kick lately.

This drink is no exception…

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Does that not look like summer in a glass? There’s something so gorgeous about summertime cocktails – perhaps it’s the bright colors of citrus, or the aroma of fresh mint {from my herb garden, no less!}, that makes them seem extra special. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’ll take a good cocktail any time of year, but again, they just seem so fitting for summer. Warm, lazy evenings watching the sun set practically begs for a nightcap; albeit a light and refreshing one.

That’s where this drink comes into play. The hubs has been having fun creating syrups and flavor combinations that pay homage to summer, and this cocktail does just that. The clean flavor of vodka is the perfect backdrop for fresh citrus notes, and when topped off with the fresh mint, it really doesn’t get better.

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This has been on rotation for some time already in our household, and I guarantee you’ll be enjoying it frequently too ; ) I’m thinking it might be fun to shake up the next time or two…perhaps with grapefruit instead? Only time will tell – enjoy!

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Minty Orange Gimlet {recipe adapted from Food52}

Fresh and bright, this summer cocktail is bursting with flavor! From the sweet mint to the zesty orange, this drink only gets better as you enjoy it. Easily adaptable to make in large batches, too; perfect for summer entertaining. 

Ingredients:

1/2 to 1 ounce orange simple syrup*

1-1/2 to 2 ounces vodka

1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice

1/4 navel orange, sliced

ice cubes

club soda, for finishing

mint leaves, for the drink and also for garnish

*to make the orange simple syrup: use a paring knife or vegetable peeler to remove the skin of the orange, taking care to maintain large strips. Add in the zest, 1/2 cup sugar, and 1/2 cup of water to a small saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Let cool, then cover and chill for at least 2 hours. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge, tightly covered, for several weeks. 

To Prepare:

In the bottom of a glass, muddle the sliced orange and mint.

In a cocktail shaker, combine the syrup, lime juice, vodka, and ice. Shake well and pour into the glass with muddled orange and mint, and fresh ice. Top with a splash of club soda.

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Cheers!