My Favorite Summer Recipes

Where has summer gone?! I don’t know about you, but this season has flown by, and for once in my life, I find myself starting to mourn that; winter was so hard on me last year. While I’m excited for sweater weather, I can be patient. And that also leads me to something else I’m really excited about that can wait no more: recipe sharing!

For those of you who don’t already know, creating delicious food for others to try is one of my passions, so I had to ban myself from Pinterest {too many great ideas, some of which turn out divine, others ending in epic failure because they are recipes that have not been tested as tried and true. #petpeeve #endrant}.

Needless to say, I have a feeling you will be seeing much more from me on the food front. I’ve even prayed the prayer, “God, can I quit my 9-5 job and just feed people? Because that is what I want. Also, I have no capital to invest, so You’ll have to fit the bill for a second oven. Thanks, talk soon!”

All of that to say this: herein finally lie three of my favorite go-to summer recipes for you and yours to try. While I’m not opposed to fall weather coming soon, I’m trying to soak up these sunny summer days and embrace each season {with local produce and fresh ingredients}. I’m researching my food’s sources more than ever before, which is hard, and takes time, but is incredibly worthwhile.

Let me know what you think if you try them. They’re incredibly easy, with little to no prep-time, and use a lot of what you already have in your pantry {#bonuspoints}!

Happy cooking,
Suzy

 

BUT FIRST, COFFEE:

I’m not the world’s largest hot coffee drinker in the winter months {I’d rather have tea + chai}, but come summer, it’s game on! Iced coffee is so refreshing to me!

photo 3

Sure, I sometimes take time to source some great beans, grind them myself at home, french press them, chill the coffee for at least 12 hours in the fridge, and serve with my favorite add-ins {unsweetened vanilla almond milk + honey + cinnamon}. It’s delish, but let’s be real: who has time for that?

photo 4
Other times {95% of the time}, I opt for my store-bought brand of choice cold-brewed coffee, Chameleon. I get the Mocha flavor, which has a very subtle nod to some bittersweet dark chocolate; it’s so smooth and rich! I kid you not, when I open a jar of this stuff {concentrated, and great for up-to 4 servings for around only $5}, I stand there and inhale it slowly for a solid amount of time before adding some to a mason jar with plenty of large ice-cubes, shaking it up {with a lid, of course} which creates a delicious “froth” or foam, much like you see in an aerated hot latte, with all of my favorite aforementioned add-ins, and the addition of sprinkles and a straw, because duh.

photo 5{Need I mention that I save these jars, scrub off the label in hot soapy water, and use them as flower vases around my space? DIY win.}

NEXT, LET’S TALK DINNER: 

Blackened Tilapia Fish Tacos 
{My Friday night tradition}
photo 2

Ingredients:
+ ocean raised + caught, well-sourced tilapia fillets
{about 16 ounces, which will feed two people two tacos each, because we’re hungry, and fish is a light meat that is easy to digest, and 4 oz. is still the appropriate serving size for meat, but YOLO!}

Marinade {for at least 1 hour}:
+ chili powder- 1 tsp
+ cumin- 1 tsp
+ the juice of one fresh lime + its zest {zest before juicing}
+ Kikkoman Teriyaki Glaze & Marinade {i know this dish is more latin-inspired, but just go with it}- 1 Tbs
+ Worcestershire sauce-1 tsp
+ lemon essential oil- 2 drops
+ agave nectar- 1 tsp
+ salt & pepper to preference

Taco Toppings:
+ fresh avocado
+ homemade pico de gallo: fresh diced tomato, fresh chopped cilantro, fresh diced red onion {My favorite ratio is 1 part onion to 3 parts tomato with as little or as much cilantro as you like}
+ cabbage slaw {from a bag, because I let myself take short-cuts sometimes, as long as all ingredients are ones I know and can pronounce}
+ queso fresco and/or sour cream {can omit these if you’re dairy free because these tacos are still bomb without it}

Cook In:
+coconut oil
+ ceramic skillet {no cast iron/grill}

Bundle In:
+ your favorite fresh soft corn tortillas {I double up with two tortillas per taco for stability}

To Make:
Preheat your oven to 250 degrees and put a cookie sheet with a wire cooling rack on top inside to wait on you until you’re ready to use it.

After you have cut your tilapia down to 4 oz fillets and let marinate for at least one hour in the fridge, heat up your skillet with 1 tsp of coconut oil on medium-high heat. You want a hot skillet to create that “blackened” effect, and so the marinade will form a “crust” on your fish as it seres. A crust is better than a glaze in this recipe.

Cook each fillet for 2  1/2 minutes per side, and then transfer into the oven onto the “cooling rack” to keep warm and to let the air circulate around the entire piece of fish, which will prevent it from getting soggy and keep the crust we worked so hard for intact. 😉

After you’ve cooked all of your fish, use the same pan {with 2 fresh tablespoons of coconut oil} to shallow-fry each corn tortilla for 30 seconds per side on high. Flip using tongs. Sop-up extra oil with a paper towel, and place on a separate “cooling rack” without them touching to {you guessed it!} keep the tortillas from getting soggy. You do not want hard or crunchy tortillas, but you want a cooked tortilla that is still pliable and warm to serve.

Layer up two tortillas per taco, put slaw down first to act as a “bed” to nest your sweet + spicy fish in, and top with pico + avocado slices and queso fresco and/or sour cream. Serve with black beans and your favorite beer or Mexican soda {or La Croix w/ lime, if you are me.}

Nom nom nom! {<—the actual noise you and your family will make as you eat.}

 

 

FINALLY, WHAT IS SUMMER WITHOUT LOTS OF THINGS TO PUT ICE CREAM ON TOP OF? 

Case and point: Peach Crisp


photo-10{photo via @conveythemoment}

 

Goodness golly, is there anything more summer and southern than peaches? The answer is “no”. Some of you know I lived in Georgia for a season, and I often miss my friends and “family” down there. Good thing they came to visit just last week, and I made them their own individual Peach Crisps in small tart dishes and served them warm with a scoop of the best vanilla ice cream on top. It was such a beautiful time around my table spent catching up and laughing, and my heart was left full and refreshed after time in their presence. My good friend Emily {also from Georgia} says this of peaches: {they are} “tiny juicy fuzzy butts. That taste like nature’s candy.”

I’m not sure I could’ve worded it better myself.
So without further ado, the grand finale of this delicious post:

Filling Ingredients:
+ 1  1/2 pounds of whole peaches, quartered, pitted, and sliced 1/8″ thick {I leave skins on for texture and flavor, but you can peal first if you prefer}
+ the juice of a half of a fresh lemon + 2 drops lemon essential oil
+ 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
+ 1/4 tsp ground ginger
+ 1/4 tsp salt
+ 1/4 cup local honey
+ 1/4 cup corn starch
+ 1/2 tsp rum extract
+ 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Crust Ingredients:
+ 1 cup all-purpose flour
+ 1/2 cup wheat flour
+ 1/2 cup rolled oats
+ 1 tsp salt
+ 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
+ 2 cups sugar
+ 2 sticks of cold butter {cut into 1/2 tsp cubes}

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9 x 9″ baking dish with coconut oil or butter. Combine all filling ingredients in a large mixing bowl, gently folding them together {so as not to break-up the peaches} until a semi-thick “marinade” is formed for the peaches to take a little bath in. I let the filling sit in the fridge for about 30 minutes as I make the crust.

In a separate bowl, combine all dry ingredients with a whisk, and slowly “cut in” cold butter cubes until the mixture starts to take on a sandy consistency. {This takes about 5 minutes, so be patient, and DO NOT use a food processor. I’m a firm believer that it just isn’t the same thing.} Then, get your hands dirty and start kneading the sandy mixture into lumps, and then larger pieces of “crumble” or “streusel”, until the mixture can stay together in a ball; the body heat in your hands will start to melt the butter and help in this process. If it can successfully hold itself together, it is the right consistency, and you can slowly break it back apart into 1/2″ crumble pieces. Set your “crisp” in the fridge to let the butter solidify back up for 15 minutes.

In the meantime, pull your filling ingredients back out, and pour into  your pan, scraping the bowl down to get all of the starchy liquid into the pan. Gently push down on any loose peaches that want to stick up. You can also shake the pan horizontally back and forth to get them to settle into place for baking. After 15 minutes, pull your cold “crisp” topping back out and evenly crumble half of the mixture atop your peaches. {The topping portion of the recipe is enough to make two 9 x 9″ crisps. I just like to do all of the work up-front, and refrigerate or freeze the excess for other desserts later.}

Bake for 45 minutes, but around the 30 minute mark, keep an eye on your Crisp, as every oven is different. If you find it is browning too quickly, or if you have a convection oven, drop your temperature to 350 degrees. It should be golden and bubbly when it’s finished.

Allow to cool for 20 minutes on a cooling rack, and serve warm and with ice cream on top. And don’t be afraid to eat it for breakfast with coffee like I sometimes do. 😉

photo 1

While these peaches I used are not from Georgia, they are fresh and local Missouri-grown peaches from a nearby farmer, and I’m in love with them; we buy a bushel each week. They are also great packed in your lunch, atop your morning oatmeal, blended into smoothies and homemade popsicles, and so much more.

*Additionally, my recipe isn’t gluten-free, but you could easily alter it to be. If you need to store a partially-eaten crisp, do so in your fridge, not at room-temp. Reheat individual pieces in a toaster oven instead of a microwave to prevent sogginess.

{Can you tell I’m anti-soggy and mushy and all of those synonymous adjectives? Ha!}

I hope you enjoy these recipes, and I can’t wait to share more of my favorites with you very soon!

Fleeting June

summer

{Rug from Target. And the lady at the nail salon told me the mole on my big toe means I’m a “wanderer” and will always love travel. I told her I received that sweet blessing. ;)}

June is typically one of those months known for the start of sweet summer. It’s famous for no-more-school {hallelujah praise} and the opening of pools nation-wide, “ma & pa” farm stands on the road-side of the freshest garden-grown produce, and those sticky-legged bugs {that happen to be named after the month} + loads of fireflies making their debut. My sweet niece loves to catch them, and watching her try is one of my favorite past-times. The air smells of my childhood nostalgia {a.k.a BBQ smoke} and over-zealous neighbors compete for the most aesthetically prestigious lawn, because everyone knows the winner will receive honks from passers-by and head-nods of approval for THE REST of sweet summer.

In my personal case, it’s involved “floating” through some of the best storms this year {Kansas City has practically been entirely submerged under water for about 42 out of the last 60 days, but who is counting, clearly not the woman who just purchased her own paddle boat?} It’s even included concerts of long-time favorite bands + unheard of new favorites from Oregon, friend’s milestone birthdays {#dirtythirty is a thing}, and visiting my sweet cousin, the seriously brave soul who just underwent spinal surgery, in the hospital on my rare day off. By the way, I will never understand why hospitals smell the way they do. Or why they’re so hard to navigate. {Because ending up in the pediatric bone-marrow transplant ward and being screamed at by a nurse to “scrub up” and throw out my fresh flowers because they can’t come through the main doors is normal for you too, right?}

Joseph, that band from Oregon I was telling you about {just go ahead click on their name for a mini listen to some serious talent + gift to your ears. Three woman bands are all the rage these days. ;)}

sun

{The Trader Joe’s sunflowers I took my cousin.
Because they just scream “summer!” to me + they’re the flower of Kansas, you know?}

Recently, toward the end of June, I found myself at Women’s Dessert night for church, where I ate my entire week’s quota of sweets in one sitting. {Bring on the clean-eats in July, am I right?} Needless to say, I was blessed beyond belief by some of the open dialogue and discussion that happened when the question “What do you dream of for the church?” was asked. Can you say holy moly estrogen fest? Feelings and passions flew around the room like fire-flies, but more than that, connections were made, walls were broken down, and this overall sense that women can really be for one another was understood and believed in again. Gosh, it was refreshing.

dessert

{These tarts from the dessert night were delish. I may or may not have
stuffed 3 in my purse for the car-ride home.}

Speaking of desserts, here’s the recipe I promised for my easy-peasy Cherry Garcia Brownies, one of my all time favorite flavor combos. I love these because they use fresh, local ingredients, healthy fats, and are only semi-homemade, so a serious cinch:

+ Set aside one 8 oz. block of cream cheese to come to room-temp.

+ Choose your favorite boxed brownie mix and follow their directions for a 9″ square pan serving, substituting coconut oil for vegetable oil, and making sure to use room-temp, fresh, local farm eggs. My go-to brownie brand + favorite will forever be Ghiardelli Ultimate Fudge Brownies, because the texture/consistency is the best {FUDGE, helloooo!} , and it includes mini chocolate chips {which I just add more of, but that’s beside the point}.

+ Additionally, add 1 1/2 tsp. of cherry extract, found at your local grocery market.

+ Mix well, adding in a heaping handful of your favorite 60% cacao dark chocolate chips {ain’t nobody got time for the semi-sweet!} in a gentle folding motion with a spatula.

+ Set aside your brownie mix to let it rest, and in the meantime, preheat your oven, and dice 1/4 pound of freshly washed cherries, tossing the pits/seeds out.

+ Pour the brownie batter into a greased 9″ square pan, evenly distributing with a spatula, and gently sprinkle and slightly push the diced cherries into the top of the batter, so they’re sunken into it, but not all the way at the bottom of the pan, which they will stick to.

+ Bake according to directions and your oven, but also be prepared to add anywhere from 15-20 minutes. I find that the addition of the cherries adds moisture and texture that just prolongs the baking process, so be patient and keep an eye on them.

+ While the brownies bake, put your block of cream cheese in a large mixing bowl, and add 2 tsp. vanilla extract and 4 Tbs confectioner’s sugar, and beat on a medium speed for about 3 minutes, until the icing is creamy and aerated. Keep chilled in the fridge until you’re ready to use.

+ Once the brownies have finished baking and cooled completely, evenly ice them with your cream-cheese frosting, cut to serve, and place an individual cherry on each piece so people know exactly what they’re biting into.

cherries
{These are MESSY, as you can see from my photo, but worth it–and so, so good!
Please let me know what you think or if you did anything differently. }

In addition to baking and brunch + heart-chats with a dear old pal, and cleaning and DIY projects {photos coming soon}, I had some sweet fellow missionary friends pass through KC en-route to…Seattle! Patty is moving there with another friend, Meg, and I could not be more excited for them. Seattle is definitely one of my favorite cities {next to Kansas City…just look at our skyline, wouldja?}

friends {Chelsea, Myself, and Patty at Liberty Memorial overlooking Union Station}

It was so good to sit over BBQ with these amazing women and hear their hearts, learn more about their personal journeys, and encourage one another in the mundane, scary parts of life like the risk it takes to move cross-country, or finish a graduate degree, or date a man. We laughed a ton, because that’s just the kind of people they are, and in the wee hours of morning when they departed, I sent them with some Cherry Garcia Brownies for their continued westward journey. {An absolute road-trip must, and you have to eat them quickly, because they should be served cold.}

june{GIF image via @romanticiist via Tumblr}

All in all, June was a good month–a rich and full month that taught me a lot about myself and reminded me of my fondest dreams and ambitions. It set the trajectory for summer, and gave me a lot to look forward to! Don’t you just love it when your calendar is about to burst with great gatherings to celebrate friends and let some others rest in your abode? I sure do. The rest part is hard for me, but I have a feeling July will be so hot, no one will see my pasty ass anywhere near the sun, as I’ll be inside fanning myself.
______________________________________________________________________________

“Take a lesson from the fig tree. From the moment you notice its buds form, the merest hint of green, you know summer’s just around the corner. So it is with you: When you see all these things, you’ll know he’s at the door. Don’t take this lightly. I’m not just saying this for some future generation, but for all of you. This age continues until all these things take place. Sky and earth will wear out; my words won’t wear out.

Matthew 24:35 MSG

{Coming Soon: those DIY project photos I previously mentioned.}