Monday, June 22, 2015

Recipe: Strawberry and Honey Ricotta Crostini ...

While working with Wayfair on their Emagazine last month on the Ultimate Guide to Hosting a Dinner Party, I came up with this flavorful appetizer.  A Strawberry and Honey Ricotta Crostini!

I loved the idea of using strawberries on a crostini, and paired with some balsamic, basil along with honey and ricotta cheese, it is an explosion of flavors!  
My favorite part is that they looks super fancy, but they are so easy to make!
Be sure to head over to Wayfair.com for the full recipe and tips!  P.S.  This would also make a festive appetizer to share on the Fourth of July!
Sources:

All Photos by Me.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Recipe: Spiced Pork Tenderloin ...

For part of my Ultimate Guide to Hosting a Dinner Party article for Wayfair's Emagazine, I shared a simple and easy main dish recipe.  This Pork Tenderloin with Spice Rub is a perfect recipe to serve at a dinner party since you can just quickly sear it with the rub, then finish it off in the oven.  Super easy!
I love this Pork Tenderloin because it comes out SUPER tender, (the trick is having an internal temperature thermometer).  If you can get it to just the right temperature, that sear, then finishing in the oven makes for one juicy tenderloin.
For the full recipe, be sure to head over to Wayfair.com!

Sources:

{all photos by me}

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Parties: Ezra Birthday + Baptism ...

My handsome eight year old had a birthday in April, and was also baptized a member of our church.  In our church we believe that at eight years old, you reach the age of accountability, so you can then decide whether or not you want to be baptized and confirmed and become an official member.
We were so happy for his decision to be baptized!  He is such an amazing boy, with such a sensitive spirit.  He's always trying to do his best and be a good son, brother, and friend.
He got his very first suit, and I have to say he looks pretty handsome.  We had a good time shopping together to pick out the perfect suit for his big day!
With his birthday and baptism falling on the same weekend, we decided to have a get together at our home afterwards.
I was lucky enough to be the recipient of some of the leftover party decorations from the cutest party at Alt Summit, Cactus Makes Perfect.  So, I took the whole Cactus Theme and ran with it, and we had a Taco Party!  I can't tell you how nice it was just to set up, and not have to do all the handmade details.
For Dinner I decided I wasn't going to attempt to cook for 40 people, so I had it catered by a local food truck.  Best decision ever!  It's crazy enough to set up and host that many people, but to have to worry about the food too.  That always kills me.  I'm so glad I hired it out!
I ordered four different kinds of tacos, rice, and beans, and it came with all sorts of fresh toppings and salsa.  If your local in Utah, we used Las Flores Taqueria Truck.  The owners name is Martin, and you can reach him at 801.309.0909.  Tell him I sent you!  

I am so glad we had such a special day celebrating my oldest!  It was a big milestone for our little family, and one we will always remember!

{all photos by me}

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Parties: Panda Party Invitations ...

Panda Party Panda Invitations Birthday Inviations
My little Thomas turned 4 in March, and I just can't hardly believe it!
He's quite the Panda lover, so I decided to throw him a little Panda Party for his big day.
All he wanted to do is invited his little neighborhood friends over for a little party.  He was so excited!
I always love to set the tone of a party by sending out a fun invitation that goes along with the theme.

I used some fun printable tags by Avery Number 22802 (affiliate link).  They worked really well, and I printed out the party info on the tags.
I thought it would be fun to include a real bamboo stick, "sticking" with the Panda theme.

After I printed out the tags, I got a piece of wet paper towel, and wrapped it around the bottom of the bamboo stick, then wrapped it up in plastic wrap.  Then added a little layer of paper, then wrapped it up with some colorful embroidery floss, then tied on the invitation tag.
Armelle Blog Panda Birthday Party Invitations
My little Panda was so excited to run around the neighborhood delivery invitations to his little friends.

More pictures of Tommy's Panda Party to come!

{all photos by me}

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Recipe: Vietnamese Savory Crepes (Banh Xeo)

When I was in Vietnam last year on vacation, we ate Banh Xeo or Vietnamese Savory Crepes often!  Many times they would make it at our hotel for breakfast!  In Vietnam they eat a lot of savory foods for breakfast, even soups!  I loved it!  I'm a big savory over sweet eater in the mornings!

These sizzling Vietnamese Savory Crepes are so good!  I love making them for dinner, and when I'm not making them I love ordering them at my favorite Vietnamese restaurants.

The crepes are savory, and have a nice flavor to it with the turmeric in the flour mix, and coconut milk!

It is filled with bean sprouts, and pork and shrimp and scallions, then you serve it wrapped in lettuce leaves, and dipped in Vietnamese fish sauce (Nuoc Mam)

Banh Xeo - Sizzling Vietnamese Savory Crepes

Batter- For Crepe part

1 package banh xeo flour mix. (14.1 ounce bag, I prefer the K Vinh Thuan Brand, this mix can be found at a Vietnamese market or Amazon linked above)
½ teaspoon salt
1 can coconut milk (14oz)
1 ¾ cup water
½-1 cup scallions

In a medium mixing bowl, mix together banh xeo flour mixture, salt, coconut milk, and water.  Mix together well, and let it sit for at least 20 minutes. Or several hours in the fridge for rice flour and liquids to combine.  
Next, mix in scallions.

Fillings

Shrimp
1 ½ lbs shrimp (medium to large size, deveined and peeled)
salt and fresh ground pepper
a few splashes of fish sauce

In a bowl, placed peeled shrimp (slice in half lengthwise if they are large), sprinkle with salt and pepper, and a little fish sauce. Set aside.

Pork
½ pound port butt, cut into thin slices
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon fish sauce
fresh ground black pepper
Place pork and all other ingredients in a bowl, marinate and set aside.

Vegetables
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
½ cup sliced scallions
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

3-5 cups bean sprouts (in a bowl wrapped in plastic wrap, steam in the microwave for about 2-3 minutes, set aside.

In a large skillet, place two tablespoons of coconut oil, and saute onions over medium low heat for about 2-5 minutes until just getting soft.
Add marinated shrimp, and cook about 2-3 minutes until the shrimp is cooked.  Turn off the heat and set aside.

Get an assembly line together: Shrimp and onion mixture, bean sprouts, cilantro, and scallions ready to go.

Cooking the Crepes (you want the crepes to be nice and crispy!)

In a medium skillet over medium to medium high heat, add a 1/2 -1 teaspoon of coconut oil (I like the flavor of coconut oil, you can also use vegetable oil)

After the pan has heated up, stir the batter with a ladle, and add about ¾ of a ladle full into the center of the pan and quickly swirl the pan to evenly distribute a thin layer of batter to the edges of the pan.  Try to go for as thin of a layer as possible.  You may have to adjust depending on the size of your pan.

Cook the one size of the crepe for a few minutes or until the edges come away from the pan and the bottom is starting to look crispy.  Use a large spatula to flip over the crepe.  Add a small layer of shrimp/pork, steamed bean sprouts, cilantro and scallions.  Allow the other side to cook for a few minutes until crispy and cooked through.  Fold the crepe up and over the shrimp/pork and vegetables.

Remove from the skillet onto a plate.

Serve with:

Pieces of lettuce leafs, Mint, Basil, Cilantro, Pickled Carrots and Daikon, Fish Sauce (Vietnamese dipping sauce)

Wrap a piece of the Banh Xeo in lettuce, and add some mint, basil, cilantro, pickled carrots, etc then dip in Fish sauce and eat.  

Fish Sauce or Nuoc Mam Cham  (For Dipping Lettuce Wrapped Banh Xeo)

1 cup water
½ cup sugar
6 tablespoons rice vinegar

Place in a sauce pan, and bring to a boil. 1-2 minutes, then allow to cool

After it cools, add:

4 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon chili paste (sambal olelek)
2 cloves garlic, minced
a few tablespoons carrots, cut julienne, and daikon cut julienne.

Mix in a jar.

Enjoy!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Intel 2 in 1 ...

Intel 2 in 1
#spon: I'm required to disclose a relationship between our site and Intel This could include Intel providing us w/content, product, access or other forms of payment.
As someone who loves to cook, you can often find me in my kitchen making a new recipe, or a tried and true favorite.  I love browsing the internet for new dinner ideas, or quickly pulling up one of my recipes to make.  I don't ever print out recipes anymore with the convenience of devices, it's no longer needed!
I was excited to receive an Intel 2 in 1 Laptop/Tablet Lenovo Yoga 3!  It makes cooking so much easier to have the recipe at my finger tips.  I like that it is not just a tablet, but also a laptop, and doesn't require a stand.  It can bend in all directions depending on how I need to look at it.  It can take me through a recipe start to finish, and even help me browse for recipes to use in the future.  It is also really nice to have a keyboard to help with faster searching.
I made this amazing pasta dish for dinner the other night with a fresh arugula pesto.  It was so good, and fresh.  I kind of had to laugh to myself too when my kids thought it was so awesome to eat green pasta!  They asked it if was Leprechaun day again.  Little did they know they were eating loads of greens!

Here's the recipe I adapted from Blue Apron.

Fusilli Pasta with Arugula Pesto and Snap Peas
Serves 4-6

Ingredients
16 oz Fusilli pasta, cooked and drained.  Reserve 1-2 cups of pasta water.  (I used Gluten free Fusilli)
1 1b Sugar Snap Peas, snap off the top and pull of and discard the tough strings that run the length of the pod
5 Ounces Fresh Arugula
3-4 Cloves Fresh Garlic, minced
1 Lemon, zest lemon and cut in half
3 Tablespoons un-salted Butter
3 Tablespoons Pistachios, shelled and coarsely chopped (toast over high heat for 1 minute in a skillet)
1 large Shallot, diced
1/2 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
Olive Oil

Directions
Cook the Fusilli according to package directions.  Be sure to reserve 2 cups of the hot pasta water before you drain the pasta.
Place the arugula, lemon zest, all but a few tablespoons of the parmesan cheese (save the rest for garnish) in a food processor.  Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Pulse until leaves and cheese are fully chopped. While pulsing the food processor drizzle in enough Olive pile to create a rough paste.  Pulse in juice of one lemon to taste, and season again with salt and pepper to taste.

Place a large skillet over medium heat.  Melt the butter.  Once the butter is melted, add the chopped garlic and shallot; season with salt and pepper.  Cook stirring occasionally about 2 to 4 minutes or until garlic and shallot are softened.  Add the sugar snap peas, and season with salt and pepper.  Cook stirring occasionally for 3 to 4 minute, or until peas are bright green and slightly tender.  Remove from heat.

Add the pasta, and arugula pesto to the skillet. Add a cup of the pasta water, or more if it still looks dry.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.   Garnish with chopped pistachios, and remaining parmesan cheese.

Enjoy!

So, tell me in the comments, what is your favorite go-to dinner to prepare?

{all photos by me}