Newest Supper Club Member

Perhaps the youngest as well….

While she isn’t eating foie gras just yet, she has been mashing her way through all sorts of veggies and fruits these past few weeks like a champ! Next stop…sushi and kimchi!

(Kidding… Kidding…we’ve got at least a few more weeks before that 😉

Backpackbees

Belated Birthday Post

I read in an article recently that every woman’s love language is cheese, carbs and chocolate. While I only partially agree with that statement, I am absolutely 100% convinced this is why the invention of Spanx skyrocketed!

We celebrated my birthday the other week and boy did we indulge in what they claim is every woman’s love language! There was A LOT of cheese, carbs and yes even, gasp, chocolate!

I woke up Monday morning, after an entire weekend of celebration, was eating breakfast and realized after all the celebrating we did, we didn’t light any candles and I didn’t make my birthday wish. I texted Mr. B and he replied, “QUICK! It’s still your birthday in the states light a candle and make your wish!”.

It’s true! Can you believe I almost forgot to blow out candles and make a wish on my birthday?

I stood in our kitchen hummed happy birthday tune to myself and made my wish JUST in time. Whew! Talk about a close call… Ha-ha! Not to mention, it gave me an excuse to eat a bite of the banana cake I baked for my birthday. Cake at breakfast is always a win in my book!

To me it wasn’t just about making a birthday wish on my birthday, it was about taking that moment to appreciate my life, all the blessings, the wonderfulness and everything that made this past year so special.

The days leading up to my birthday, I couldn’t help but reflect back on the past year of changes in my/our lives. Changes for better, changes for worse. From family to friends, loss, fears and sadness to happiness, excitement and new beginnings. Remembering that life is very sacred, this world we live in is so fragile and the kindness that used to bloom from everywhere is becoming more and more scarce the older I get.

Mr. B and bumblebee spoiled me with so much love, wonderful gifts, quality time together and delicious treats (traditional birthday breakfast complete with morning mimosa, sushi bento box lunch, home cooked duck breast, my favorite carrot cake from My happy place)! Dear friends made it even more special by throwing a little themed party of around the world. So. Much. Fun!

How do you celebrate birthdays?  Do you have birthday traditions, or do you strive for something unique each year?

Backpackbees

Scrumdiddlyumptious

Another summer slow cooker meal coming at ‘cha. Scrumdiddlyumptious slow cooker salisbury steak! Say THAT 5 times fast…. Whew!

Salisbury steak makes me think back to the Kid cuisine frozen meals from childhood. Do you remember those? The brownies….mini corn on the cob…You might be rolling your eyes at the mention of a frozen meal, but hey let’s be real here, we were 90s kids growing up in America, we ate them occasionally, along with Gushers, DunkAroos, Sunny Delight, and Fruit By The Foot. Talk about things that rocked our jean jacket and jellies off and was total bliss in the eyes of a 90s kid! Blast from the past, huh?

Whatever would make me want to recreate a frozen meal you ask? Possibly nostalgia? Possibly part curiosity of the taste as an adult? I’m really not sure? Whatever the case, I’m salivating thinking back on the smells that wafted through our home when these little guys were simmering away in the slow cooker. Mmmmm just imagine the combination of beef, mushrooms, onions and that au jus mix magic!

We served the salisbury with a nice fresh head of locally grown broccoli, herbed stuffing, and sous vide black truffle pomme purée. It seriously turned from a good ‘ol central Pennsylvania go to frozen dinner classic to a simply gorgeous meal with minimal effort (….minus the black truffle pomme purée).

You guys…. It was GOOD! Sooooo good! I swear all that was missing was a sisterly fight over what we were watching next, Rocko’s Modern Life or The Fresh Prince….

Enjoy the blast from the past!

Slow Cooker Salisbury Steak
Recipe source slightly altered from Here

Ingredients:

1.39lbs Lean ground beef
1 (1 ounce) Envelope dry onion soup mix
4 Tbls Italian seasoned bread crumbs
2 Tbls Lactose free milk
2 Tbls All-purpose flour
1 Tbls Safflower oil
1 (10.75 ounce) Can of condensed cream of chicken soup (low sodium)
1/2 of Packet dry au jus mix
3/4 Cup Better than chicken bouillon broth
Hand full of mushrooms, sliced
Pepper to taste

Directions:

In a large bowl, mix together the ground beef, onion soup mix, bread crumbs, and milk using your hands. Shape into 8 patties.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

Dredge the patties in flour just to coat, and quickly brown on both sides in the hot skillet.

Place browned patties into the slow cooker stacking alternately like a pyramid.

In a medium bowl, mix together the cream of chicken soup, au jus mix, and chicken broth. Throw in chopped mushrooms.

Pour mixture over the meat. Cook on the Low setting for 4 or 5 hours, until ground beef is well done.

Backpackbees

Little Fantasy

I’m going to let you in on a wee little fantasy of mine, well… If you know me really well… maybe it’s not such a little secret. Sooo one of my BIGGEST dreams is to own my own little café. Obviously this little fantasy is on hold until the day comes that we finally choose a town to plant our roots in.

Right now I have a silly little hobby while my dream is on hold, it consists of visiting café and coffee shops in the local area, as well as when we travel, collecting ideas that helping me create my café vision board. It’s so much fun!

If you close your eyes for a moment I’ll give you a brief tour around my café. Here we go…..As you approach the café from the street you will first see the all glass bi-fold doors that let natural light into the café. Once you step inside will see that the café has a very clean look and feel to it. Bright white walls, black modern track lighting above for the ability to illuminate where needed if we move tables, a few green plants in terra-cotta pots, a large black menu board with white removable lettering for menu changes, a simple counter with refrigerated glass display for the baked goodies, an epoxy finished floor….you get the idea…(I’ve had just a little time to think about these things ha ha ha) Nothing outlandish, just simple, keeping it very simple. Okay, open your eyes. You can keep reading onward now.

I also envision this little bumblebee buzzing around and helping us with our customers.

Outside of serving a good cup of coffee in the café, I would serve a rotation of seasonal handmade breads, pound cakes, muffins, pies, and cakes, again super simple but delicious!

I know that fantasies are just that, a fantasy… and this fantasy will probably never really take off, buttttt sometimes it’s super fun to imagine and pretend that it just might. So right now I’m practice baking and testing baked goodies in our own kitchen listening to jazz, sharing the outcomes with you all and these little moments don’t make it seem as far-fetched, or altogether downright silly.

I present to you the summer sinful frosted zucchini brownie recipe. Enjoy and try to refrain from eating the entire sheet pan in one sitting.

Summer Sinful Frosted Zucchini Brownies

Ingredients:

Brownie Ingredients:

1/2 Cup Safflower Oil
1/2 Cup Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Chips 60%
2 Tbls Unsweetened cocoa powder (Hershey or Ghirardelli)
1 Cup Granulated sugar
1 Egg
1 Egg yolk
1 Tsp Vanilla extract
1 Cup grated zucchini, squeeze out the moisture!
1/4 Tsp Baking soda
1/2 Tsp Salt
1 Cup all purpose flour

Frosting Ingredients:

1/4 Cup Salted butter (4 Tablespoons if using stick)
2 Tbls Unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 Cup Ghirardelli dark chocolate chips 60%
2 Tbls Lactose free milk, regular cow milk would work as well
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla extract
1 1/2 Cups Powdered sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

With lightly sprayed parchment paper, line a quarter sheet baking pan.

In medium saucepan on stove, over medium to low heat, melt safflower oil, chocolate chips, and cocoa together.

Remove mixture from heat and stir in the sugar, eggs, vanilla and zucchini.

Next stir in the remaining dry ingredients and then pour into prepared quarter pan.

Spread mixture out evenly and pop into oven about 20-25 minutes, or until tester comes out clean when inserted in the middle of brownies.

(**Important that the frosting is hot to pour easily over brownies.) Prepare the frosting ingredients in a pot on stove for the frosting so you can make immediately make once brownies are done, but don’t start until brownies come out of oven.

As soon as the brownies are done baking and come out if the oven, head to your pre-prepperd pot and melt the butter, cocoa powder, chocolate chips and milk together and simmer gently, keep stirring so it doesn’t burn.

Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and powdered sugar. Pour the hot frosting over brownies. Spread frosting evenly.

Try to resist….. Let brownies cool at least 5 minutes before cutting into pieces and devouring! (Keep in the refrigerator or your pretend cooled Café glass display ;).

Backpackbees

Easy peasy “Swedish meatballs”

Hi! Looks like I’m back at it again, eating, SHOCKER, and obsessing over something we cooked up…again…. Hahah! Hopefully you are staying intrigued and bellies are rumbling with each of our meal post.

We’re still battling the humidity and losing I might add. The AC has shamelessly been on blast most evenings. cha-ching and sad face. So with weekly meal planning I’ve been searching the Internet and brainstorming for quick throw together weeknight dinners.

Enter the not so traditional easy peasy “Swedish meatballs”. Swedish meatballs take me back to childhood and also the odd memory of school cafeteria food?! For some people the idea of tweaking traditional Swedish meatballs might be little off-putting, but hey like I’ve said before, lol, we’re living on the edge over here and we just went for it! (We’re CRAZY like that) Even the Mr. went wild over this dish, so it’s officially stamped MAN approved! Woot-woot!

Happy eating!


Easy peasy “Swedish Meatballs”

Adapted from this recipe

Ingredients:

2 Tbls Keri Gold butter
2 Tbls all-purpose flour
2 Cups beef broth
1/3 Cup sour cream
10 Frozen turkey meatballs (beef or pork would work as well) – thawed in fridge to heat faster in sauce
nutmeg to taste
salt & pepper to taste

(optional) egg noodles, mashed potatoes, your favorite rice

Directions:

In a large skillet melt the butter over medium heat.

While stirring, sprinkle in flour, continue stirring

Cook for 1 minute on low to medium heat and slowly stir in beef broth, (slowly) the goal here is to prevent lumps.

Continue cooking until the sauce starts to thicken, continue to stir .

Reduce the heat to low to add the sour cream in, as well as nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.

Lastly add in the meatballs, stir to coat and cover with a lid to cook all together. At this point if using egg noodles (already cooked al dente) you can toss those in too. Cook for about 5-10 minutes or until the meatballs are heated through.

Backpackbees

Cloudy with a chance of coconut cream pie

While the rain pitter pattered all weekend off and on, I decided it was the perfect time to whip up something fun. The humidity and the heat index are rather high these past few days making it almost unbearable to even step outside. If you know me, you know that I start bouncing off the walls being cooped up inside. Mr. B jokes and says I need walks…. All jokes aside…. I do! I love getting outside and breathing in new air, taking in the greenery, etc.

But ‘Eh don’t worry things are going to be A-okay. Why you ask? Because despite what’s going on outdoors, or even your life metaphorical storm, there is always be dessert!! Yes…. to semi maintain my sanity ENTER this gigantic coconut cream pie! Eek best part is it didn’t even require turning on a hot oven! (Shushhhhh never-mind the fact that I bought a pre-made pie crust …sorry grandma… mother nature made me do it).

Mr. B happily gobbled away at his slice and declared his love for it, and even though I wasn’t big on coconut most of my life, things have certainly changed and I admit….I loved this coconut cream pie too!

I don’t really know why, but sometimes I shy away from the thought of baking something I’ve never tried before, but then other times I jump straight in with the determination that I’m making this (whatever baked goodie) TONIGHT. I’m typically really satisfied with the end result after I do bake so I’m not sure why I ever have those sort of silly moments. Do you ever feel that way with cooking or baking?

^Toasty coconut flakes

I’ll admit this pie was incredibly simple, it was the first coconut cream pie I’ve attempted. Gasp.. I know… But remember coconut and I weren’t always so peachy keen. So glad these taste buds of mine have evolved as I continue to taste my way around the world.

Recipe found HERE. Enjoy!

Backpackbees

On Summer Evenings

One of the things I adore the most about the summer months is just how simplistic it is throwing together “hors d’oeuvres” and calling/ texting up friends for a casual night of entertaining.

We try to fill our weekend summer evenings all gathered around the table with our little family and friends, a good bottle of vino, an assortment of cheeses, some meat, crackers, dips, fruit, nuts… you get the idea… We had a hoot arranging it on a great big ‘ol inherited Fiestawear platter dish or wooden cheese board that my grandfather made us. We light some votive candles and sit back enjoying good belly laughs while sharing stories and the music playing softly in the background. It’s a fun little tradition I hope we continue to uphold and bumblebee grows up remembering!

^ NEW FAVORITE TORTILA CHIP!! Spicy Sriracha soooo addicting!

Cheers summer weekends! Cheers!

Backpackbees

Importance of sorts

Thursday evening I prepared THIS meal with Bumblebee.

Okayyyy it’s pretty obvious that she realllly can’t jump in and assist me just yet, BUT I feel that she does truly enjoy hearing and watching us bounce around our kitchen space chattering and singing to her in silly little voices and making funny facial expressions. Most of the time she sits smiling watching us, or chews on her Very Hungry Caterpillar or hands (hehehe).

We try to explain what we’re making and the importance of fresh healthy ingredients.

We want her to grow up knowing how to cook and not be afraid or shy away from wild ingredients like foie gras, pink peppercorns, Korean or Thai peppers, or even smoked sea salt. (wait…are those ingredients considered wild??)

Together we’re striving to impress upon her the importance of good locally grown food, pairing a nice glass of wine with a meal, taking and making time with family and friends as we do Thursday evenings to relax, enjoy and eat together. Most of all to savor this short sweet life we’re all so blessed to live.

This dinner was almost too good for words! Seriously! It was SO simple and has to be one of the best weeknight meals that’s been served at our table. Oh boy, the gravy was so savory! The meat literally melts in your mouth and also makes your entire home smell all homey and delicious!

Slow cooker Balsamic Rosemary Beef Chuck Roast

(Should serve 4 comfortably with other sides of course)

Ingredients:
4 lb Beef Chuck Roast
1/2 Tsp Better than Bouillon Beef Base
4 oz Hot water
1/2 Cup Balsamic vinegar
2 Fresh rosemary sprigs
2 Bay leaves
1/2 Yellow onion, cut in half
Salt and black pepper to taste
2 Large cloves of garlic, minced

Gravy:
All purpose flour to get a thick gravy consistency
2 Tbls Balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste (you’ll need it if you’re salt and pepper hounds like we are)

Instructions:

Slice the chuck roast meat into nice stew-like cuts.

In slow cooker combine the sliced meat, beef stock, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, rosemary sprigs, bay leaves, onion and minced garlic and stir/ mix by hands to coat everything nicely.

Cover slow cooker and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, or if in a pinch on high for 4-6 hours. (The goal is to slow cook the meat until it melts in your mouth)

Once meat is cooked, use tongs to remove the meat into a separate bowl. Remove and discard the rosemary sprigs and the bay leaves.

In another separate bowl, add flour and slowly mix in about 2 1/2 Cups of the cooking liquid from the slow cooker until it’s smooth. (Be cautious because hot liquid and flour like to make lumpy gravy).

Next microwave until the flour mixture thickens, it’s about 1 minute. Once it’s a nice thick looking paste, whisk that into the remaining slow cooker liquid to create the gravy.

Taste and adjust any seasonings / add in another 2 Tbls of balsamic vinegar if desired, or needed for more flavor.

Return beef back to the slow cooker and stir to coat everything.

This pairs wonderfully with baked potatoes or rice. Don’t forget a nice tall glass of red too!

We served with baked potatoes, creamed spinach, freshly baked homemade pesto pine nut bread and garden salads. Mmmm!

Backpackbees

French press Friday’s: Her world

Random thoughts over french press this morning…

Right now I’m so very thankful that bumblebee is still to small to realize the reality of what’s going on in our big world….As a parent how does one even begin to explain the things that you yourself don’t fully comprehend? I know we cannot shelter our children forever. It’s just…sometimes I’d like to escape to her childhood world and hide out for a bit. Honestly, can you blame me?

Backpackbees

A love language of dinner and vino

We’ve said it before, but will say it again, our love language is sharing food with our family and good friends. There is nothing like eating delicious home cooked food and sipping on a glass of vino!

Over the past two weeks we’ve entertained a new friend visiting from Thailand, and we hosted a low-key vino night, who doesn’t like an excuse to bust out the cheese board and pop open the vino with good friends?!

Gahhhh we we’re sooooo in our happy place!

Backpackbees