Category Archives: Photography

Diets Don’t Have to Be Torture (but they usually are) & Mexican Spiced Shrimp

Mexican Spiced Shrimp with Black Beans topped with a dollop of Greek Yogurt

Mexican Spiced Shrimp with Black Beans topped with a dollop of Greek Yogurt

I’ve mentioned once or twice a million times that I’ve been on a diet.  How exciting?!  Actually, I’m trying to think of it more as a lifestyle change.  I’m not depriving myself, I’m just not over-doing it, either.

My new way of eating really focuses on portion sizes and eating more frequently.  Truthfully, it sucks.  That being said, it works.

Most of the food I’ve been cooking lately has been incredibly unexciting.  Because I’ve been busier than usual the past couple months, Continue reading

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Fig, Prosciutto, and Caramelized Onion Pizza with Pistachios, Chevre, and Honey

This weekend was a whirlwind of events; and I’m glad it’s over.

My gorgeous niece, Madelyn, was very sick and was admitted into the hospital.

She was full of bruises and her blood counts were not normal.  It was incredibly scary, but hopefully everything is figured out now (fingers crossed!).  Her counts are still not normal, but they are improving; and that is a good sign.

Because I spent my days worrying and my evenings working, I didn’t have time to post this incredible pizza I made last week.

Fig, Prosciutto and Caramelized Onion Pizza with Pistachios, Chevre and Honey

It was a pure pizza masterpiece.  

Fresh figs are one of my favorite things.  Unfortunately, it’s hard to find really good ones here in Minnesota.  Because figs are so delicate, they don’t ship well.  They started showing up at Trader Joes a few weeks ago–and you better believe I did a little happy dance!

But sadly, they weren’t good.

I was lucky enough to find a few cartons of them at my local co-op, and they were just right (the price was also significantly higher–unfortunately).

Fresh Figs: Black Mission. This little guy isn’t quite ripe, but it sure is pretty!

I sliced about 1/2 lb of figs along with some prosciutto (a very salty and thin sliced ham) and set them aside to top my pizza.  I also crumbled a couple ounces of chevre (goat cheese.  I used Trader Joes Honey Chevre) and chopped up some pistachios.

Prosciutto, Figs and a log of Chevre

If you love baking or cooking with pistachios, here’s a little tip I’ve learned:

To make it easier to shell and remove that paper-like skin over the pistachio, keep your pistachios in the freezer.  It seriously makes using pistachios a lot easier and takes a lot less time.  

I used my go-to whole wheat pizza crust recipe.  It never fails me.  You can get the recipe by clicking on the printer icon below.

While the dough was resting, I caramelized some onions with some fresh thyme (leaves off a few sprigs).

I used some onions that I had left over from another recipe, so It was probably 1/2 of a large onion.  I would definitely use 1 large whole onion, or maybe even 2 next time.  The pizza was amazing, but more caramelized onions would have made it even better.

Caramelized onions with fig preserves

Once the onions were caramelized, I tossed in about 2 tbsp. of fig preserves and let it all melt together.

I thought that by adding the fig preserves to the onions instead of just spreading them out on the pizza I would get better flavor, and it might help keep the pizza from becoming too sweet.

I was right.

After my crust had been precooked for about 5 minutes (I always precook my crusts), I spread the caramelized onion mixture on top of it.

You can see it needs more onions

Then, I topped the onion mixture with the prosciutto, sliced figs and chevre.

Unbaked Pizza

I baked the pizza on a stone for about 10 minutes in a preheated 450 degree F oven.

One the pizza was done baking, i tossed on a bunch of chopped pistachios (they were previously salted and roasted) and drizzled a bunch of pistachio honey over the entire thing.

The saltiness of both the prosciutto and the pistachios really helped even out the sweetness of the figs and the onions.

The chevre added an invaluable tang.

Piyush and I enjoyed our pizza while we watched the American women win Olympic GOLD in gymnastics!  So exciting!

All Sliced Up!

Now, here’s to hoping this week is less stressful…

…and if you liked this pizza, you may also like my Caramelized Onion, Purple Potato and Pistachio Pizza!!!

  Check it out here!

The Easiest (& Best!) Banana Bread…and a Weekend Away

After a change in our plans, Piyush and I decided to take a weekend trip to Grand Marais, MN.

Grand Marais is a small town located on Lake Superior in northeastern Minnesota.  It holds a very special spot in my heart; and, in my opinion, just might be among the most beautiful places on this Earth.

Riding the waves of Lake Superior…

When I was a teenager, my parents purchased a cabin in Grand Marais–off the famous Gunflint Trail.  Now, if you’re from Minnesota–or even Wisconsin–you’re probably pretty familiar with the term “cabin.”  If you’re not, “cabin” is a term that usually describes a second piece of property and can mean anything from a rustic shack in the woods to a magnificent mansion on the banks of Lake Superior.

My family’s cabin is definitely not a mansion, but it’s no shack either.  It’s more like a charming cottage, hidden along the banks of a beautiful lake about 10 miles away from Lake Superior.

I absolutely love it there, and it really does feel like a second home.

View from the dock at the cabin. It’s so peaceful!

Unfortunately, Piyush and I only seem to venture to Grand Marais about one or two times a year.  I wish we could go more often, but it’s 6 hours away…and there just aren’t enough weekends in the summer (and there is way too much snow in the winter!).

Piyush and I left Friday morning and decided to take our time.  Usually we’re in such a rush to get to the cabin that we don’t really stop or enjoy any of the sights along the way (excluding Duluth.  We always stop in Duluth).

This time we stopped at a few antique shops, played 18  holes of golf, and even stopped for some pie.

Betty’s Pies is a relatively famous Minnesota destination.  Personally, I think it’s history is more interesting than the pie, but  I’m not much of a pie person.  We picked up a Bumbleberry pie (raspberry, strawberry, blackberry and blueberry) to share with my parents.  When I opened the box, this is what I saw:

Isn’t that the maddest pie you’ve ever seen?  I got such a kick out of the pies angry-face!  It still makes me giggle.

pie in the woods!

The filling was yummy! …the crust, meh.  It was pretty dry.  But I guess dry pie is better than no pie, right?  …Right?

Piyush and I also stopped for dinner at The Angry Trout.  The food was amazing, and I wish there was an Angry Trout clone in Rochester!

Fresh grilled trout (caught in Lake Superior), Minnesota wild rice, and a big veggie salad

The trout was fresh caught in Lake Superior, and the taste was incredible.  I don’t usually enjoy fish all that much, but I think I could eat this everyday!!!  YUM!

The view from the restaurant was pretty incredible too…

The Angry Trout Restaurant: Grand Marais, MN

Once we finished with dinner and began driving north on the Gunflint Trail, I noticed all the beautiful wild flowers were beginning to bloom.  Lupine, roses, and blackberries (among other things) grow wild along the roads.  It’s such a lovely welcome, and I always look forward to it.

Wild Lupine

Wild Roses

Lake Superior

The weekend was so relaxing, but unfortunately it rained all of Saturday.  We didn’t get to spend much time on the water, but that’s okay.  Just being in Grand Marais was good enough for me!

Now…on to the banana bread!  

This recipe for banana bread is the easiest version I’ve ever come across.  It is also probably the first thing I really learned to bake myself.

The recipe allows for all sorts of variation, and a lot of times I’ll toss in some dark chocolate or dried cranberries.  It always turns out incredible, and I’ve never baked a dry loaf.  There really isn’t anything worse than dry banana bread.  Yuck!

This recipe makes amazing muffins!

I couldn’t tell you where this recipe came from.  I don’t know if it was from a book, my grandma, or maybe I found it online.  I don’t know.  I’ve had it for well over 15 years.

What I do know is that if you make this banana bread…you won’t regret it!

Easy Banana Bread

Ingredients:

  • 3 browned bananas- smashed
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 c. flour
  • 1/4 c. butter- melted
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees F
  • In a large bowl, combine sugar, flour, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.
  • In a separate bowl, mix together smashed banana, and the melted butter.  Once everything is combined, add the egg and mix again.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until everything is combined–but don’t over-stir.  Add any mix-ins (chocolate, dried fruits, nuts…) and stir until they are evenly distributed.
  • Pour batter into a greased loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour at 325 degrees F.
  • Remove from oven, let cool a couple minutes and remove from loaf pan.  Let the bread cool on a rack for about a half hour or so.  Enjoy!
**I sometimes sprinkle the top with raw sugar crystals before baking.  It makes the crust have a pretty shine.  🙂 **

This recipe freezes extremely well!