Basil Shrimp Stir Fry

Basil Shrimp Stir Fry

I’ve been working on eating a little healthier these days.  Nothing crazy, just more clean, whole foods and less ingredients I can’t pronounce. (Sounds like a good filter for grocery shopping, no? Only buying items with ingredients that I know. Maybe I’ll try it one day I’m feeling extra disciplined and can talk myself into detouring the bakery section).

Anyway, here’s today’s recipe: Basil Shrimp Stir Fry. This dish is very simple. The key is to have all the ingredients prepped because the actual cooking goes pretty quickly.

To start, I chopped some of my favorite vegetables into pieces that were roughly the same size so everything cooked at the same rate. I used red bell pepper, cremini mushrooms, haricots verts, carrots, broccoli, and one jalapeño.

Stir Fry Veggies

After all the chopping and prep, the veggies looked so good that I seriously considered abandoning my stir fry plans and just making a simple vinaigrette and calling it a salad. Maybe next time.

Stir Fry Veggies.

Once I decided to continue with the stir fry, I heated some olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat and added two cloves of chopped garlic, one tablespoon of basil chiffonade, and one pound of peeled and deveined shrimp. I sautéed the shrimp for about 2 minutes until they became opaque and then removed them from the pan and set aside.

In the same pan, I added a little more olive oil and increased the heat to high. When the oil was almost smoking, I added the bell pepper, carrots, and haricots verts. I cooked these for about 45 seconds and then pushed everything to the edges of the pan. Then, I added the broccoli, mushrooms, and the jalapeño and cooked for another minute or so.

I seasoned with salt and pepper and then added the shrimp back in. I cooked until everything was heated through, about a minute more and then plated the stir fry.

Basil Shrimp Stir Fry.

Tandoori Salmon and Purple Beans

Tandoori Salmon

I know you’re probably thinking, “Those beans aren’t purple, what kind of a food blogger would trick her readers like that?” I confess that it is a trick, but not one of mine. You see, the beans in the picture above started life as purple and then had a little costume change. Let me explain…

I saw these colorful beans at the farmers’ market last week and I couldn’t resist the purple ones. Mostly because of the vibrant hue, but also because I’ve read that purple vegetables have lots of antioxidants and I’m sure I can use more of those to balance all the non-purple food I eat.

Purple Beans

Anyway, I wanted to make tandoori salmon (yogurt-and-spice-marinated salmon) for dinner and mentally added these as the perfect side.

Fast forward to Saturday night’s dinner prep and, much to my dismay, the beautiful purple color changed as soon as they hit the hot water and my special beans turned into plain old green beans.

I consulted my good friend Google and found that purple beans are just green beans in disguise. The purple pigment is stored only in the outer layer of the beans and changes to green once heat is applied. Disappointing, yes, but still tasty.

Now, on to the recipe for the Tandoori Salmon.

Tandoori Salmon (Yogurt-and-Spice-Marinated Salmon), Recipe adapted from Saveur


2 salmon filets (I used the ones with the skin-on)
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1  small piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 Tbs canola oil
1 Tbs red chili powder
1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted
1 tsp cardamom seeds, toasted
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp garam masala
1 cup plain yogurt
Salt and pepper, to taste


Place yogurt in a medium bowl. Add all spices, ginger, garlic and oil to yogurt. Mix to combine and season with salt. Pour mixture over salmon filets and use a rubber spatula or your hands to gently massage into flesh. Cover and refrigerate at least one hour and up to four hours.

Heat oven to 350 °F. Uncover salmon and remove any excess marinade. Bake until fish is cooked through, skin is opaque, and flakes easily or until internal temperature reads 145 °F. For my filets, this took about 35-40 minutes.

You can also make a raita to serve alongside the salmon. Raita is a Pakistani and Indian sauce or dip that has yogurt as a base and includes various spices, herbs, and finely chopped vegetables. There are many variations of raita that can include different spices like cumin, garam masala, and cayenne and many types of vegetables like cucumbers, red onion, and tomatoes.

A very simple raita recipe to use with this dish includes plain yogurt, garam masala, chopped cucumbers, chopped cilantro, chili powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix all ingredients in a small bowl and serve along with salmon.


Tandoori Salmon.

Summer Herbs

Summer Herbs

A friend of mine has a large herb and vegetable garden on his property and was generous enough to share some of his harvest with me.

He brought me about 10 bunches of different herbs including Thai basil, mint, chives, oregano, thyme, sage, lemon basil, dill, bay laurel, and parsley. Needless to say, my kitchen smells amazing.

I know I won’t be able to use all of these herbs within a week or 10 days so I need to store them properly. I can always dry them, but I wanted to find other ways to store them for future use.

So, what to do with all of these beautiful herbs?

Summer Herbs.

I perused my favorite site for some (p)inspiration and listed some my top picks below. I can’t wait to try some of these recipes!

 Herb Salts

Fragrant Dried Herb Salts by Spoon With Me

Variety of Herb Salts

Credit: Spoon With Me

Hand-chopped Garlic Herb Salt by Saveur

Herb Salt

Credit: Nicole Franzen

Compound Herb Butter

Compound Butters by Saffron Lane

Compound Herb Butter

Credit: Saffron Lane

Fresh Herb Butter by Lavender Fields Farms

Fresh Herb Butter

Credit: Lavender Fields Farm

Herb Infused Olive Oil

Rosemary Infused Olive Oil by Miss Buttercup

Rosemary Infused Olive Oil

Credit: Miss Buttercup

Freeze Herbs in Olive Oil

Preserve Fresh Herbs in Olive Oil by The Kitchn

Freeze Herbs in Olive Oil

Credit: The Kitchn

Herb Ice

Herb Ice by Not Without Salt

Herb Ice

Credit: Not Without Salt

Caprese Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes

Caprese Salad w Heirloom Tomatoes

I went to the farmers market this weekend and brought home a pretty good haul. Some of my favorites from the lot are the heirloom tomatoes I used in this salad.

Since we are in the midst of the brief heirloom tomato season, it was impossible to pass by any farmer’s stand without seeing crates of these imperfect fruits in a variety of colors.

Heirloom Tomatoes

I don’t consider myself any kind of a connoisseur, but I have eaten many tomatoes in my time and have found heirlooms to have more flavor and taste more tomato-y than the romas or the grape tomatoes you can get from the grocery store year around.

There is lots of information online that says heirlooms are better, like this HuffPost Taste article, and lots of information that says hybrids (the more common tomatoes like romas and grape) are just as good, like this USA Today article.

No matter where you stand on the hybrid vs. heirloom debate, I will say that heirlooms have more interesting names like, Mr. Stripey, the Japanese Black Trifele, and Mortgage Lifter.

Anyway, since heirloom tomatoes have a very short shelf life, I decided a simple caprese salad would be the best way to use these.

This isn’t a traditional caprese salad because I added some romaine to the base before slicing the heirlooms and mozzarella on top. But it is just as good! I finished it up with a chiffonade of basil, a sprinkle of salt, and a little drizzle of olive oil.

Caprese Salad w Heirloom Tomatoes.


Blueberry Hand Pies

Blueberry Hand Pies

I made a summer dessert recipe this week for the blog. These hand pies were a cinch to make and the hardest part of the recipe was waiting for the pie crust to bake.

Here’s what you’ll need to make your own Blueberry Hand Pies

Blueberry Compote Ingredients

  • 1 pint fresh blueberries
  • 2 Tbs sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbs water

Blueberry Hand Pie Ingredients

  • Blueberry compote, 2 Tbs per hand pie
  • Prepared pie dough, I used a shortcut with store-bought pie dough. Feel free to make yours from scratch if you’re feeling ambitious!
  • 2 Tbs flour
  • 2 Tbs melted butter

I started by pre-heating my oven to 350°F and removing the pie dough from the refrigerator to allow it to come to room temperature.

Next, I washed and drained a pint of fresh blueberries.


I made a quick compote by mixing the half the blueberries, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and a little water in a small saucepan over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Then I added the remaining blueberries and cooked for about five more minutes before removing the compote from the heat and allowing it to cool and thicken.

In the meantime, I rolled out the pie dough on a floured surface and cut out the dough for my individual pies. I cut two pieces of dough per hand pie. I used heart shaped cookie cutters for my hand pies, but you can just cut the dough into rectangles.

Heart-Shaped Dough

Once the blueberry compote had cooled completely, I placed 1 tablespoon on each pie bottom. *Once my hand pies were done baking, they looked a little flat, so I recommend using at least 2 tablespoons of compote depending on the size of your hand pie.

Blueberry Compote

Then I covered each one with the top and pushed the edges together. I used the tip of a fork to press the along the edge to seal and create a little design.

Unbaked Blueberry Hand Pies

Finally, I brushed with melted butter and popped in the oven for about 12-14 minutes until they were golden brown.

Blueberry Hand Pie

Allow to cool for about 10 minutes before serving. If you’re feeling fancy, you can serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and call it hand pie à la mode. I would recommend this route even if you’re not feeling fancy. Just call it blueberry hand pie with ice cream.

Spinach, Goat Cheese and Herb Tart

Spinach, Goat Cheese & Herb Tart

The recipe for this tart is a bit further in the post. First, I’d like to share a little story of exactly how this tart came to be.

Last November I took a cooking class at our local Sur la Table that featured appetizers for holiday parties. I learned the details of palmiers and have been making them ever since. They are so simple to make and are an elegant appetizer for any party or dinner.

Here’s a peek at my very first batch. I made these Portobello & Parmesan Palmiers for our appetizer table before Thanksgiving dinner last year.

Parmesan & Portobello Palmiers

Anyway, I had a little get together for the 4th of July and wanted to make these again. I already had the Parmesan and portobellos, so when I was doing my shopping for the menu I quickly grabbed a few boxes of puff pastry and moved on to the next item on my list.

On the day of the party, the palmiers were the last item left to make because I like to serve them fresh out of the oven. Only when I opened the first box of (what I thought was) puff pastry did I realize that I had grabbed phyllo sheets instead of puff pastry.

I had a sinking feeling these two are not interchangeable in a recipe for palmiers and a quick Internet search confirmed this. Needless to say, I did not serve Parmesan & Portobello Palmiers that day.

The four boxes of phyllo dough left in my freezer inspired today’s recipe (and will probably inspire a few more to come).

Spinach, Goat Cheese and Herb Tart
Adapted from the NY Times recipe Goat Cheese, Chard and Herb Pie in a Phyllo Crust

1 large bunch spinach
8 oz. goat cheese
¾ cup milk
3 eggs
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
10 sheets phyllo
½ cup chopped fresh herbs – I used chives, dill, and a little oregano
Olive oil or melted butter
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Thoroughly wash and drain the spinach. I like to wash mine two or three times. Seriously, there is nothing worse than gritty spinach.

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add salt and then the spinach and blanch for about 1 to 2 minutes. Meanwhile, set up an ice bath with cold water and some ice cubes in a large bowl. Transfer the spinach to the ice bath to stop it from continuing to cook. Once it’s cool, squeeze out the excess water. I like to use a clean tea towel for this. Chop the spinach.

Add the eggs and goat cheese to a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, blend until the mixture is smooth. Add the milk, chopped garlic cloves, herbs, and drained spinach. Season with salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly to combine.

Butter a tart or pie pan. Carefully unfold the phyllo dough and take out 10 sheets. Immediately refold the remaining phyllo and refrigerate or freeze. Keep a few damp paper towels nearby to keep the phyllo sheets from drying out. Using one sheet at a time, carefully line the pan with the phyllo. Brush each layer with melted butter or oil before adding the next sheet.

I placed each sheet at an angle and allowed the edge to stand up above the pan’s rim. If you have a lot of dough hanging off the rim you can scrunch it down, but it won’t look as pretty when it bakes.

Once your crust is done, add the spinach mixture and use a spatula to make the top even. Before placing in the oven, fold small pieces of aluminum foil and carefully cover the phyllo edge to keep it from burning. Be very careful not to tear the edges of the phyllo.

Pop in the oven for 40-45 minutes or until the middle is set. Uncover the phyllo in the last 5 to 10 minutes of baking to allow the edges to become golden brown.

Spinach, Goat Cheese, and Herb Tart

Summer in DC Bucket List

Sunset over National Harbor

This post is about two things I love: summer time and making lists.

      1. Enjoy as many summer sunsets as possible. I took the picture above a few weeks ago on a visit to the Capital Wheel at National Harbor.
      2. Pack a blanket and snacks and watch a film outdoors at the park.
      3. Make watermelon granita.
      4. Practice more yoga.
      5. Go hiking at Shenandoah National Park.
      6. Host a successful picnic or an alfresco dinner party.
      7. Go to an observatory and star gaze.
      8. Paddle boat on the Potomac.
      9. Make s’mores, preferably over a bonfire.
      10. Visit the Library of Congress.
      11. Go hang gliding.
      12. Visit Monticello, home of my favorite president.
      13. Go to an outdoor concert. One Republic and The Script on June 27!
      14. Rent a bike from Capital Bikeshare and tour DC from a different perspective.
      15. Take a road trip to Philadelphia to see the Liberty Bell. And eat a cheesesteak. And a soft pretzel.
      16. Finish a beach read.
      17. Go to Busch Gardens and ride all the roller coasters.
      18. People watch in Dupont Circle.
      19. Go to a Nationals baseball game.
      20. Make homemade ice cream.
      21. Take a nap on a hammock or porch swing.
      22. Catch the meteor shower in August.
      23. Watch fireworks.
      24. Go to the beach (duh).
      25. Slow down and live in the moment.

What’s on your summer bucket list?